Archive for the 'Traveling' Category

Cool things of 2010 – No. 15, 16, 17, 18, & 19

I couldn’t do a proper “Cool things” listing without including the awesome countries we visited in 2010 (sorry Japan…you don’t make the cut since it was 2009).

#15.  Thailand!

We spent about one week exploring the crazy, chaotic, and awesomeness that is Thaliand.  From Bangkok to Ko Phi Phi to Railay.  It was fun adventures and absolutely fantastic feasting!  Recap here. 

#16. Australia mate!

Two weeks in the land down undah.  This trip was a mixed bag.  We both got violently (and that’s putting it nicely) ill at the start of the trip.  And everything was ridiculously expensive.  But we ended with an amazing stay on Moreton Island where we fed dolphins and lounged on the beautiful beaches.  Recap here. 

#17. Hong Kong!

So…this is where I have to admit to a breakdown in my otherwise fairly good blogging efforts.  Yeah…never blogged about our summer vacationSad smile  And it’s now been so long ago, that I can’t really muster up the energy to do it. But maybe I will…maybe.

We picked out our dinner for the night. 

But…just know that Hong Kong was amazing!  When we got there, it was ridiculously hot – but also a place where we could envision living (should we decide to go abroad again).  It became one of our top places we visited…that is, until….well, you’ll see soon. 

We traveled the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system.

Saw the famous light show.

durian in hong kong

And ate some durian desserts (the stinky fruit)

#18. The Philippines!

Again…no recap of this 2nd leg of our summer vacation.  Bad Lisa, bad Lisa!  But the Philippines…well, it was love and hate.

Love: The outer islands…we stayed on the island of Bohol.  Keep in mind, the summer there is the low tourist season as it’s also the rainy season.  We chose this island because it was more insulated from adverse weather conditions.

We stayed on this little part of the island called Panglao in a really nice (and super cheap) resort – The La Pernela Beachfront Resort.  It was so surreal – not only was the landscape so beautiful, but the resort was COMPLETELY empty.  Micah and I had the entire place to ourselves. 

Our resort…just for the two of us.

Got to do a lot of lounging and reading at this pool…and got some SERIOUS sun.  Tan lines that even months later I’m still trying to get rid of.

Delicious home cooked meals and fresh-blended drinks every day on our outdoor patio.

And the beautiful beach and water right at our footsteps.

We stayed for three days on the island and took an all-day island excursion…which was just ‘eh.’ 

The highlight of our excursion was seeing these little guys…tarsiers. 

CUTE!!!! And teeny tiny.

Hate: The capital, Manila.  Gross, dirty, dangerous.  We stayed only one day here, and that was quite enough.  Keep in mind…we aren’t looking for 4 star experiences…some of that dirt and grime is part of it all.  But literally, there’s nothing to do in Manila except shop.   And even shopping, you have to go through the security points at each door to make sure you don’t have bombs or guns.  It was hard to figure our way around using mass transit and after a few hours of walking the streets – we were covered in grease and grime. 

Chinatown.  The craziest, dirtiest one we’ve been too.  (Yes, I have a fascination with visiting Chinatown wherever we go)

I did score a great deal on some Haviana flip flops…about $1 US.

Hey…wait a minute.  There’s no Nordstrom in the Philippines!

We walked and walked and walked…so we could see the famous Manila Bay. 

Where there was of course, lots of clamming and fishing going on.

Oh…but wait.  That’s the area where they are clamming and fishing.  Nice.

We rode one of these to…pretty much the biggest tourist attraction of the city.

The SM Mall of Asia.  Oh…please leave your bombs at the door.

We met up with some familiar friends.

And saw some interesting items in the grocery store.

And waited in this ridiculous line at the airport.  This was to even get INTO the building.  And when we finally got in…we were apparently dropped off at the WRONG TERMINAL!  Back to the taxi.

The line at the correct terminal.  Ah…couldn’t wait to get outta there!

#19. Finally…our last stop…Singapore!

(Sorry for this long blog post…I guess it’s turning into a sort of mini-recap of our summer trip)

This was our FAVORITE country (officially a Republic and not a country), we visited…of all the places we have ever traveled

Hello Singapore!  The official mascots of the Youth Olympics being held at the time.

A few reasons why we love this place:

  • Friends: Our friends from back in Seattle were living in Singapore when we visited.  It was perfect.  We got to see them, stay with them, and get personal guided tours by them.  Easiest foreign traveling we’ve experienced.

Jodie and Kai.  Our amazing tour guides and hosts.

  • Clean: Having just come from the super filthy Manila, it was so refreshing to be in this super clean place.  Yes, the government may play a role in this – but it was sure nice.

Watch what you do…the govt is watching you.  Actually, we never once felt intimidated or fearful of doing something bad.  P.S. Durian fruit really is stinky.

  • English: Most Singaporeans speak English (as well as Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil).  Yay…we could easily get around and understand people.  Granted, sometimes the language barrier can make for a fun traveling experience…but keep in mind, this was the last leg of our two week trip.  Easy peasy was fine with us. Smile

So…it’s Singlish…but you get the point. Smile

  • Culture: Singapore is such a MASSIVE melting pot of so many cultures and countries.  They have the cleanest Chinatown I’ve ever seen, plus an Indian neighborhood, Malaysian, Indonesian, Thai, etc. etc. 

  • Attractions: Tons of things to do here.  And it goes way beyond just shopping (although they have endless malls and stores).  Lots of parks, museums, architecture, tours, and we had the added benefit of being there during the inaugural World Youth Olympics (Olympics for kids).

One of the shows at the Night Safari – they picked Micah out of the crowd and he joined the guys for some flame throwing.  So funny to watch.  Micah totally got into it.

One of THE BEST museums EVER.  The Singapore National Museum…a MUST for anyone going there. We could have stayed for hours and hours and hours.

Time to get our Chinese massage on.  OUCH!  Hurt like hell.

  • Food: This is by far one of the best things about Singapore.  The food is freaking incredible here.  Tons of choices.  And tons of new types of food – flavors and dishes I’d never seen or heard of – and tasted incredible.  Plus, the food was SOOOOOO cheap (as long as you eat at the super cool hawker stalls).  It was mind-boggling how much food you could get for just $3 or $4 US. 

One of hundreds of hawker stalls (aka big outdoor covered food courts) in Singapore.  The ONLY way to go.

Stingray.  SOOOO good.

One of Singapore’s most famous dishes: chicken and rice.  Looks bland as hell, but it’s one of the MOST delicious things I’ve ever eaten. 

These dumplings…also one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.  Trust me!

Fried stinky tofu…one of the WORST things I’ve ever eaten…but a Chinese favorite.

Chili crab…uh-mazing!!!!!!!!!!

If you think all we did was eat…well, that’s true.  But eating is such a HUGE part of this culture, so what better way to experience the real Singapore? Smile  I could go on and on about our love for Singapore.  I’d definitely go back…and I’d definitely consider living there too, although real estate is ridiculously-priced.

Oh yeah, I turned 30 there too!  And to help me celebrate, this magician showed off his semi-decent skills.

Frosty fun on our Alaskan adventure…and frozen fingers too

We went to Alaska for Christmas!!!  We had such a great time!  Naturally, as dictated by the geography and climate of the region – it was freaking cold!

When we were telling our friends about spending Christmas in Alaska, it reminded me very much of this part in the movie The Proposal.  I love this part. 

We flew up on Thursday and Brian picked us up at the airport in Anchorage.  As soon as we stepped off the plane, we were greeted with cold, thick air and beautiful snowy landscapes.

polar bears

Of course, we needed to get some pics with the native wildlife roaming the airport.


Isabella was already in bed by the time we got to the house.  But the next morning, she was all smiles.  It hardly took her any time at all to warm up to us (which is drastically different than a few months ago).

Isabella (19 months) and Aunty Lisa.


It was so fun playing with her and watching how much she has grown.  She’s ridiculously smart and is in the “copy” stage – so we had to watch our mouths for sure.  (She did pick up “darn it” from me – and easily incorporated it into her vocabulary.) Smile

On Friday, Christmas Eve, we drove out to a reindeer farm.  As we were nearing the farm, we kept seeing the thermometer reading keep dropping and dropping.  It was somewhere near –12 degrees (F) at the farm.  HOLY CRAP!  That’s definitely the coldest weather I’ve been in, let alone, walked around in.

We prepared as best we could with multiple layers, scarves, gloves, hats, and those handwarmers that you shake up.  But it doesn’t take long before you feel the freeze!


There was this moose there.  A very friendly moose with one antler.  He liked to give little moose kisses.


Time to meet the reindeer!

FYI: Reindeer are essentially the same as caribou.  But of the domesticated variety.  And unlike deer, both males and females grow antlers.  Also, during the winter months, all the males lose their antlers.  So, all those flying reindeer helping Santa spread cheer throughout the world…they are females! Smile


After our little reindeer lesson inside the cabin, we each headed out with a little jar full of reindeer food.  And then, cue the reindeer! 

The farm had about 120 reindeer.  They breed them up there and many of them get shipped off…and made into reindeer sausage.

Micah is feeding Comet…wait, that’s Cupid…er..Vixen!

Once they know you’ve got the food, they have a tendency to swarm.  They won’t bite you, but watch out – I don’t think it would feel so nice to be poked in the eye by an antler.

Isabella got to ride one.  I think she was probably too cold to realize how awesome it was!! 

By this time, my fingers were about to fall off.  But I managed to take a picture of Micah and I – complete with my frozen hair strands, and frozen nose boogers.

The reindeer farm was probably the highlight of our Alaskan adventure.  Seriously, it was too cold to do much else.  Instead, we stayed inside the house and did lots of lounging, movie watching, Isabella-entertaining, and eating!!!  We not only had a delicious crab dinner, but a very yummy prime rib dinner too.  Soooooo delish!!

Doing some exploring of touristy Anchorage shops.

And you can’t forget about Christmas!  I didn’t have any Christmas morning pics on my camera, but it was really fun watching Isabella open her presents.  She actually got the hang of it too…and was ripping and tearing wrapping paper.  And customary for a child that age, she was OVERWHELMED with all the new toys, books, etc.  But she definitely had fun playing with them all. 

Lounging in our matching faux-Snuggies playing some Settlers of Catan. 

We flew back to Seattle on Monday afternoon.  It was sad to say goodbye, but we were welcomed with rainy mid-40 degree weather – and it felt warm!

The next time we go back to Alaska…it’ll need to be during the summer.  Micah and I couldn’t hack it up there in the tundra!

Vegas getaway

Ah, I finally have a chance to post about our Vegas trip.  It was 5 days/4 nights of non-stop laughter, fun, pranks, gambling, sunning, surprises, and picture taking.  There ended up being 14 of us total – and we all had a blast!

Day 1: Thursday night

We check into our hotel – MGM Grand – late..really late.  But we were all set to go out for dinner anyway.  I changed into my white dress since the dress code had stated “ladies wear white.”  SURPRISE!  I soon realized I was the only one wearing white.  It was a surprise engagement party for Micah and I. 

Our friends gave Micah a kickass blue tuxedo t-shirt.  And I of course had to wear a veil.

All the other girls are wearing bridesmaid dresses from previous weddings they’ve been in.  It was awesome!


Since it was 2am – and a Thursday night – the only thing still open in our hotel was…Mickey Ds!  So…Mickey Ds it was!

Reception dinner – catering provided by McDonalds. 🙂


Day 2: Friday

Morning: Surprisingly, a few peeps in the gang wanted to workout.  So Coach Lisa took them through a BodyRock workout right in our room.

Don’t be fooled.  Tarah might be smiling – but this workout had everyone drenched in sweat after the 12 minutes were up.


Afternoon:  Pool time! 

Boo!!  At first, the pool was closed due to some cloudy weather.

So we explored the strip for awhile – and ran into Hello Kitty.  Ah, it felt a little like Korea.


The weather finally turned hot and sunny, so from the gambling tables to the pool we headed!


Night:  Friday night – the boy and girls were on their own.  The boys all ate a ridiculous amount of chicken wings at Hooters…and called it an early night.  Not the girls!  We decided that I should wear the veil again and sort of consider it a bachelorette party (which only helps in scoring free drinks and not waiting line).  So we all got dolled up in our “Foxy Brown” attire – and hit the town.

Ready for a fun-filled, crazy night with the girls! 

Day 3: Saturday

The day time was all about COLLEGE FOOTBALL!!  It was my first time placing sports bets at a casino.  The games really become MUCH more intriguing when you have a little money on the line. 🙂

Place your bets!

  In the end, I won $20, lost $40.  Micah was about the same too.

Woo hoo!  I bet on my beloved Cougs…and came out a winner.  Although, WSU did lose the game in the end.


Once night time arrived – it was time for our Vegas Strip Crawl.  (Basically, head from bar to bar, hotel to hotel, and have a drink at each place).  I think only one person in our group managed to do this successfully.  I threw in the towel early…but played some Blackjack at a few different places along the way and won some cash!

Had SUCH a fun night.  We were out til 4am!


Day 4: Sunday

Our friends Aaron and Regina decided to renew their wedding vows while we were all in Vegas.  It was so fun! 

Congratulations 3-yearly weds!


This is Regina.  Also a bridesmaid in our wedding.   


And at night – we all went to the old part of Vegas and gambled, walked the strip, and ate delicious oxtail soup at Micah’s favorite joint.


The old part of Vegas is really cool and a much different vibe than the “strip.”  I loved it here.  Cheap gambling, cheap drinks, and a fun atmosphere.


Eating some late night oxtail soup at the California Hotel.  Seriously, the best thing I ate in Vegas that whole weekend.  It was awesome.


And of course we had to wake up all our friends at 3am – and shower them with all the nudie cards that are handed out EVERYWHERE along the strip.


Day 5: Sunday

Time to go home!  But not after a few hours of delays and sitting in the plane on the runway—and not going anywhere for over an hour. 

Viva las Vegas!!!!

We had such a fantastic time.  No one got sick – food or otherwise. 🙂 No lost wallets or cell phones.  I’m ready to plan for next year! 🙂

30 is the new 20 – Vegas here we come!

Alright, so Micah and I (along with a full crowd of friends and friends of friends) are headed to Vegas – for FOUR nights.  I know, I know…that’s about one to two more nights than most kids can handle partying it up in Vegas.  But our friends have planned a most exciting itinerary of events (including some surprises we aren’t even sure of).  And the ladies have been instructed to wear outfits based on certain criteria: hot chicks in black, all-white night, Foxy Brown night, etc. etc.

It’s gonna be a great weekend!  Although there will be some 20-somethings coming along…there are quite a few of us who have hit the 30 year mark.  We plan on proving that we can still hang with the young kids – and do it with more style and class than when we were 21, 22, 23, 24, and…let’s throw in 25 too. 🙂

We got a ridiculous deal for round-trip air and lodging at the MGM Grand ($275/person).  I can’t wait to play a little blackjack and see if some of my luck playing blackjack in Korea can rub off in Vegas (knock on wood).


  We will see you soon Mr. MGM.

Maui wowie!

For three glorious days, Micah and I headed over to the island of Maui to hang out with our fellow English Teacher friends, Gabe and Charissa.  Ah…it was pure bliss.  We got to stay at Charissa’s parent’s house where we were showered with delicious food, never ending drinks, and lots of relax time.  I seriously didn’t want to leave.


This is my second time to Maui (the first time being a year ago when we spent a couple days there before leaving for Korea) and I LOVE this place!  It’s my favorite island…but then again, I’ve only been to Oahu and Maui.  :-) 

The gang taking advantage of some pool time at one of the local resorts, sippin’ drinks, and gettin’ our sun on.

Spelling bee master…er…disaster

Our first real outing since returning to the U.S. – Art After Dark at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

Every fourth Friday, the Honolulu Academy of Arts hosts a themed art party.  Ten bucks gets you into the party (where you can drink, eat, dance, and participate in the fun games and events) AND you can visit/tour all of the art galleries.  Pretty cool.  This month’s theme was “The Wonder Years” (think school –themed stuff)

Part of the super fun event included a spelling bee. 

Side note: I friggin’ love spelling.  When I was in elementary school, I participated in at least three or four spelling bees.  My best showing being 3rd grade, followed by 5th grade (let’s just forget about 4th grade). 🙂

When they were starting the spelling bee, there was only enough seats for five participants.  And you had to play rock, paper, scissor to “win” one of the coveted spots.  Luckily for me, when the winners took their seats…there were only four seats taken.  Ah…one left!  And also lucky for me, I just happened to be sitting right by that empty seat.  The emcee, however, asked for volunteers – BOOM – tons of hands spring into the air.  But then he asked for someone who hadn’t been to Art After Dark before – BOOM – I emphatically say “me, me, me!  I just came back from Korea!”  (The emcee interpreted that as “I am FROM Korea” – so he chose me…and then announced to the crowd, “This is Lisa from Korea.”  Eh…no use correcting him since it got me a seat).  🙂

Look at how giddy I am.  Yay for S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G!!!

In usual spelling bee style, each person got a word, repeated the word, and then had to spell it correctly.  If s/he was incorrect – BUZZ – you got booted off the stage.  I was fifth in line.

Contestant #1:  He had to spell drunkenness.  BUZZ.  There are two n’s in the word.  Off you go.  (I knew how to spell this!)

Contestant #2:  She had to spell gonorrhea.  BUZZ.  She was all sorts of wrong on this word.  Off you go.  (I knew how to spell this!)

Contestant #3:  She had to spell chlamydiaDING DING.  She spelled this one correct.  (To be honest, I probably would have gotten this wrong.)

Contestant #4:  He had to spell facetious.  BUZZ.  This word is tricky, but he wasn’t close.  Off you go.  (I jump up and tell the emcee, “I know this word.  Let me spell it.”  DENIED.)

Finally…my turn:  The emcee says, “spell bougainvillea.”  I seriously think he was trying to end the game fast because that word is ridiculously hard. 

Sound it out, sound it out. 

Needless to say, I was incorrect…I was close, but I missed the “ea” at the ending.  Off I went.  😦

This flower crushed my spelling bee dreams!!!!


In case you are wondering what I could have won: the “chlamydia” winner got a free year membership to the Art Academy (about a $50 value).  But not much value to me since we don’t live in Hawaii. 

And….we’re back!

And then one week to go until we are really back (to the US that is).

Our 12 days of Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Singapore were FANTASTIC!!!  (We especially loved Hong Kong and Singapore – seriously the two best places we have ever visited!)  We had such an incredible time sightseeing, relaxing, shopping, hanging out with friends, and of course…EATING!!!

I don’t have time now…and might not for a while to recap our adventures :-(  It’s surreal to think about us no longer living in this country…just one week from now. 

Micah and I are still debating about what we’d like to eat first when we touch down on US soil.  My pick: Taco Bell!!  Micah’s pick: pizza and poke’. 

Where in the world…

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