The Layover: Mauritius

2 Jun

Take that Anthony Bourdain.

 

Our trans-Atlantic flights went as expected: long and exhausting but not completely painful.

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We arrived for our 10 hour layover in at 6 am and had to hang out at the airport for a few hours before our excursion. When we booked our trip we debated booking a hotel room for a night or finding a trip somewhere and found an all-inclusive day trip to Isle de deux cocos. It was a quick drive and ferry from the airport and we had the entire island to ourselves for most of the day.

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We were welcomed on the island by our person concierge, Ravi and a cold glass of champagne. We had all of our luggage in tow for our flight to Seychelles and the Lux was kind enough to give us access to a “villa” and let us change and store our luggage. One of the first governors of Mauritius built the villa on the island and the Lux resorts took over the property a few years ago and turned it into a event location.

We started our day with a walk around the island and then we relaxed on the hammocks. When Ravi told us about the option to either snorkel or go on a glass bottom boat tour. We decided we wanted to go on the tour but Ravi told us that because we were the only ones on the island for a while we could go on both with a private tour. Sweet! Snorkeling was great – lots of coral and many different kinds of fish including the largest needle nosed fish – they were 3 feet long! I’m (kate) 95% sure I saw a barracuda and promptly took off my snorkeling gear. I know there are scary things in the ocean and I prefer to go into them blindly.

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The villa was gorgeous.  it was decorated in a Moroccan style and would be great if you were staying the night.  Lucky for us no one was so we got a room for the day just to change and shower.

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After the glass bottom boat tour and more laying on the beach we got to the good part – the food!  We had grilled shrimp skewers, grilled fish, salads, grilled beef and chicken, several different pastas, and of course a free bottle of wine.  We also sampled  some of their on-island infused rums.

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All in all it was a perfect day trip to pass the time between flights. We couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing several hours. 

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We got to the airport about an hour and half before our flight – a scary proposition for Alex but since it was Mauritius we made it to our gate with an hour to spare – hooray for small airports! A short flight later we made it to The Seychelles.

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the world’s BIGGEST market

12 Sep

allegedly.

 

I actually buy into that.

 

I met up with a co-worker on Sunday morning for a run around Benjasiri Park next to our hotel. it was muggy. it was painful. but it happened.

 

we decided to visit the Grand Palace and then on to the Chatuchak Market. it’s 35 acres filled with everything you could imagine. you name it, they sold it. and then some.

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we had a very tough time negotiating with cab drivers getting one to take us there. we were told the grand palace was closed for lunch and that we should go directly to the market. and by directly he meant that we had to stop at some jewelry expo so that he could get a kick-back. awesome.

 

we finally made it to the market and we were just overwhelmed. when we started walking around we realized how massively huge this market can be.

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there was food, high end clothing, low end clothing, fabric, metal goods, shoes, purses, junk, jewelry, beads, and then some. just wow.

 

this little guy was jamming and I used our newest toy, a little video camera, to capture a little bit of the sounds and sights:

Tara and I at the market

 

after some delicious coconut ice cream and a foot massage we bargained our way into going to the Grand Palace. Or so we thought.

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Our cab driver dropped us off and we soon realized that he must have just been tired of the traffic because it was not the grand palace. it was a nice giant buddha, but no palace.

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so we got conned into going to two more kick-back locations and THEN to the Grand Palace. But by the time we did all of this, the Grand Palace was closed. we were sad pandas.

 

I took some photos of the outside but we were not allowed inside.

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we negotiated another cab driver to take us back to our hotel and we planned on meeting up again for dinner. when we met up we realized how bad jet leg was hitting us and we went back to bed!

 

today (monday) was an extremely long, tough day so I’m thinking a massage is in order. yes, for those of you counting that is number three. for a total of $20. Smile

one night in bangkok

10 Sep

I made it to my hotel safe and sound late friday night/early saturday morning. I managed to sleep a few more hours on my tokkyo to bangkok leg but I still felt like a walking zombie and crashed pretty quickly.

I did manage to laugh as I passed my hotels display of moon cakes. I had enough of those last year in Hong Kong but couldn’t resist the photo op. they even had free samples. no thanks.

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my internal alarm clock woke me up at 7:45 even though I had no call time. I had to sit in on a session in the afternoon so I planned on taking a few hours to walk around the hotel and check out my surroundings. but when I woke up I was starving which = overeating on the mondo huge breakfast buffett and I didn’t feel up to walking around. so I took a quick mid morning nap and met up with my team for lunch and work.

 

after we finished up we were all ready to play tourist so we took a tuk tuk-like contraption to a little part of the city with lots of restaurants.

 

that ride was . . . . interesting. that’s erica on my left and tara on my right.

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we went decided on a little bar with an outside patio for people watching. have I ever mentioned how much I love foreign diet coke? yum!

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and then we wandered to a restaurant with a huge patio called Zanzibar for dinner. I wanted to try something I always get at home so I had their Pad See Ew.  it was good, more vegatbley and less soy.

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I don’t know if it’s all of bangkok or just or part of town, but it’s teaming with cats. they’re everywhere and no one seems to mind. this little guy found a good resting point below the chair at the table next to us.

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feeling adventurous we decided to walk back to our hotel. if I had to choose one word to describe hangkok it would be overload. overload of the senses. sight, smell, sounds. it’s intense.

 

a lot of the sidewalks are also bike paths. I thought was kinda funny/scary so this one is for you alex:

 

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everyone has told me to get a massage here. that’s always on everyone’s list of suggestions. everyone told me how inexpensive and awesome they were so to cure a little jet leg I deicded to take their advice.

 

it was AMAZING! I had an hour long foot/neck/back massage for 250 baht = less than $10. Shut up, right?!

 

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I may have nodded of twice. and we decided that it would be our nightly ritual. heck, an hour massage each night is less expensive than one, one hour massage in the states. love!

 

so this morning (I’m 11 hours ahead) we have plans to play tourist. we want to visit a few temples and check out one of the markets. oh, and get a massage.

getting there is half the fun

9 Sep

not really. I lied. 14 hour flights are about as fun as a root canal.

 

I’ve become such a cranky flier. the couple sitting next to me kept their light on and voices raiser the ENTIRE flight. I now hate ipads and every person that uses them. all of them.

 

hence my crankiness.

 

when I boarded I was welcomed by this guy:

 

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who doesn’t love a good menu?

 

I watched bridesmaids. funny. but not as funny as I thought. love story mixed in. lame. then I watch country strong. that’s a very, very sad movie with a very, very sad ending. beware. somewhere in the middle I grabbed about 3 1/2 hours of sleep and ate all three meals. and I finished up the latest edition of pirates of the carribean as we landed. I actually liked that one.

 

so I sleep walk to the bathroom in tokyo and find this in the stall.

 

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yes that is a toilet with its very own remote control. I was confused and tired and couldn’t figure out how to actually flush the toilet instead of playing the “flushing sound” on the remote. good times.

 

I’ve got another 6 hour leg ahead before I touch down in bangkok. fingers crossed I double my sleep.

The Princess’s New Clothes

6 Sep

This Labor Day break we went to Charleston and our favorite Island to visit family.  As a bonus we picked up a sweet new sweater for Kate hand made by Rosemary!

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Fits perfectly and looks terrific!

surprise thai trip

1 Sep

last fall, I was lucky enough to go to hong kong. next week? thailand.

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about two weeks ago I get an email from my boss asking me how I feel about going to honk kong and australia. I replied in a bout 2 seconds that I was very interested.

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after drilling down to the details and hammering out my schedule it turns out the trip is actually to Bangkok.  so I went from a trip to Canada to Thailand and I leave next week.

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it’s been such a whirlwind that I haven’t had time to plan out my tourist schedule. i will only have two play days so I have to make the most out of all my time there. a few friends have offered suggestions but if anyone out there has friends or friends of friends that have gone,  I would love to hear more!

 

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just in time

26 Aug

I leave NY tonight just hours before this guy hits the city

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ny is really shutting down. the subway, broadway, pro sports. not happening. they’re really baring down for a big storm. scary, huh? I’m just thrilled to make it out in time. although I’m writing this from 10,000 feet in some pretty nasty turbulence.

I’m just thankful it missed all my loved ones in charleston and hopefully friends in north carolina and the coast will have no damage.

in other biscoff/delta news, look what kind of cupcakes my grocery store carries:

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kroger is the best. grocery. store. ever. ever.