Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for the ‘fun’ Category

HK: I think I ate too much

Posted by quirksalight on December 13, 2010

Jen’s uncle took us to a seafood restaurant in the New Territories. It was AWESOME. I ate things that I have no idea what they are, but only that they were delicious. The seafood is freshly caught and in holding pens outside the restaurant. These were extremely large specimens… and you choose your dinner to be cooked in whatever way you please. It’s a good thing that we spent 6 hours earlier in the day walking around on Hong Kong Island.
I’m going to let the pictures do all the talking. 🙂 Definately on my top 10 meals ever.

Posted in adventure, amusing, Food, fun, Hong Kong, travel, vacation | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Peak and other delights:

Posted by quirksalight on December 13, 2010

The rest of our group made it to HK and we were now a merry band of 4 Penn alumnae running around HK. Excellent.

Staying in Kowloon, we hit the local shops, the malls, and markets for interesting finds. Personally, I found some sunglasses, a bottle of Miss Dior perfume (which I hadn’t been able to find for a while), comfy/dressy shoes, and a jade necklace. The necklace was a part of a collective bargaining session at the Jade Market in Yau Ma Tei, with Laura taking the lead for our goods. Nice market, but definitely a place where you need to be able to bargain and knowing the language will do you a lot of good. Next, as one of our main agenda items for the trip was eating, we hit up a Buddhist vegetarian dim sum place. Hmm… the artificial meat in the dimsum was a little strange… but the veggie bits, such as the tofu skins, excellent!

Tea at the Landmark Mandarian Oriental – running late because turns out you can’t just get a taxi on the street to get you from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island, but have to call one for that purpose. Easy enough at any hotel, but to those who didn’t know this tidbit of info, quite frustrating, especially when you’ve got reservations.

Next, we split up and the three of us, Kim, Jen and I, headed up to Victoria Peak, just after sunset. Even though it’s not high tourist season, the tram line was LONG. And a crush to push our way into the tram – I seriously had to hip check a guy out of my way who tried to jump ahead of me.

But the view was totally worth it. With the wind whipping through our hair, we stood on top, watching the glittering skylines of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon spread before us, and the ferries moving across Hong Kong Harbour like balls of light floating across the water.

Recommended by our guidebooks and several friends, we first hit up Dragon-I for drinks and apps. Turns out that there is a Happy hour special of 2-1 drinks from 3-9pm. Just don’t get the one with Benedictine liquor – horrid… tastes like cough syrup…. unless you like that sort of thing…. Otherwise, it’s a great deal for drinks in that area.
Met up with an AFP photographer who I met at the G20 in Seoul the past month. He and his colleague joined us at Classified, a wine and cheese bar in the Soho/ Lan Kwai Fong area of Central HK. It was good to meet up with him, though his colleague wasn’t feeling well and went home shortly after arriving.

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Hong Kong!

Posted by quirksalight on December 9, 2010

I’m skipping blogging on the Korea part because Jen’s got that one covered. 🙂
As you can see, the goal of our trip to Korea and HK is to hang out with old friends, but to have a gastronomical adventure in Asia. hee hee…

But today was one of adjustment… got up at 5am to catch the flight to HK, and had to take a nap because I was so tired. Pretty sure I overpacked, but meh… not exactly sure what is needed. But mainly, we were walking around in Kowloon and getting a scope of the place. I noticed that it appears to be more crowded on the streets than in Seoul…. but I’ll have to take stock of that in the coming days. A data point of one isn’t really telling much, no?

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Shoes

Posted by quirksalight on July 18, 2010

Why am I blogging about shoes?

Well, it’s not just a piece of leather, suede, plant-based, or man-made materials that shod your feet. They can be iconic, witty, gorgeous, hideous, comfortable, and painful. And they are a bit more important than I thought to a FSO’s job.

In the Foreign Service, we are considered to be generalists, jack-of-all trades, etc. And with that moniker, comes the job, which means that we can be called to do anything and everything as the need arises. So, if you need to sprint up and down the length of Incheon International Airport so you can meet the visitor who’s itinerary you are in charge of, you better have comfortable, well-padded, shoes.

Of course, never having thought that I would be sprinting up and down Incheon airport, praying that I would be able to meet up with my visitor, I was not wearing the said comfy shoes. Instead, I was wearing a pair of lovely maroon suede, 3″, Mary Jane style heels. Which, in a normal trip to the airport would be fantastic and just fine. This case, 3 blisters the size of Kansas (actually, 1-2cms), smaller areas rubbed raw, and all joints in my legs serious questioning my sanity and sense of judgement.

That said, my visitors (Yes, I’ve been here 3 weeks and this shoe business happened twice) were never the wiser of the behind the scene nuttiness and were apparently quite happy with my planning and organization skills.

Lesson learned. Keep the smile on your face, go above and beyond the requirements and you’ll be rewarded, and get better shoes. Yes, I bought out a chunk of Rockport’s inventory in Itaewon, 5 pairs of shoes this week. Screw the blisters and the like; this is a career investment. 🙂

Posted in adventure, airports, amusing, ancedotes, commentary, Embassy Seoul, fun, Incheon, Korea, People, shopping, work | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

4 days

Posted by quirksalight on June 20, 2010

So I’m at the point where I can count the days I have remaining on one hand, and this is my last weekend in the US, the last weekend before I’m a working FSO at my first post.

It’s been a great weekend. A raucous night with my classmates and the 151st on Friday followed by a fantastic going away party thrown by JL and LL in Georgetown on Saturday night. I’m really going to miss my friends, old and new, much more than when I left before.

It’s strange – I’ve done this before, get ready to move to Korea. It’s mildly deja vu-ish; 2 years and 4 months ago, I was doing the same thing. Yet, it’s oh-so-different. Different bags, a lot more stuff, and definitely more paperwork (seriously!), but heading to the same country on the same airline with the same layover in SanFran. 😛

Some parts of this is weird – I don’t see myself as all that different from the person I was in my previous trip, but to those who knew me then, I’ll be a cat of a different coat. Hopefully this won’t affect how we interact and see each other, as people, but this is something I guess we all have to “see what happens”.

C’est la vie.

Posted in 152nd, adventure, ancedotes, DC, friends, fun, Korea, training | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

More of the Potomac…

Posted by quirksalight on August 7, 2009

Paddling from Thompson’s Boat Center, past Georgetown and back. Aug 1, 2009. A great day – nice, upper 80’s, partially cloudy. 🙂
Two hours on the water followed by a great burger at Five Guys… nice way to start off a Saturday.

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Kayaking

Posted by quirksalight on July 20, 2009

This past Sat was the first time I’ve been kayaking in a LONG time. Right at Fort Washington marina, we headed south on the Potomac and up Piscataway Creek for a guided nature tour. It turned out more just a guided tour and not so much on the nature bit, but was fun nevertheless.

A random bit of amusement happened, without me even knowing it. Turns out one of the “maybe” people had decided to come kayaking, and biked to the marina from DC. Unfortunately, he arrived a little late and snafus with the kayak rental staff prevented him from getting a kayak until we were already down near Piscataway Creek. So upon my return home, I find an e-mail with this photo:

with a commentary on the whole situation, including a summary of the conversation I was having with AW at the time. Highly amusing. I suppose JH will take a car instead of a bike next time. 🙂

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, commentary, friends, fun, Humor, Nature, outdoors, Sports, Washington DC | Leave a Comment »

Wedding bells

Posted by quirksalight on July 13, 2009

And they are NOT mine!
That said, this past week was the second of the weddings that I’m invited to in 2009. After missing, I think, 6 last year, there’s 4 this year. As a former teacher said to me, “There’s a time in your life where it’s all weddings”. Yep.

Ever quirky, AF and GR (now GF!) had a small ceremony and reception at Le Bec Fin on Wednesday. I have to admit, the first thing I asked AF when he told me the date was if they chose a Wednesday to discourage people from actually attending. 😛 It was actually for the numerical order: 07/08/09
Anyhow, it was nice to be there and celebrate a very happy moment of one of my longest and closest friends. 12 freaking years! Man…

It was very casual and impromptu. After getting the vows, exchanging the rings, and signing the marriage documents, several people got up and spoke about the couple, together and individually. I got up and told the story of how they had met and started dating. Hadn’t really planned on it, but as I later said to the bride’s father, I had told this story a couple of times in the past, so off the cuff wasn’t a big stretch. Involving a series of coincidences, a ratty old sweater, and yarn over a 5-6 month stretch of time, it was a long and apparently VERY amusing story.

Dinner, drinks, bar hopping… It was a great way to celebrate, and to finally meet people, who in some cases, I’d been hearing about for years. As this was part I, I can’t wait for Part II!

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Oops… the poker…

Posted by quirksalight on April 20, 2009

After Rothenburg, I crashed and fell asleep on the drive back to Wurzburg. But we didn’t have all that much downtime, as we were supposed to meet a couple of his friends at the Standard for poker. Apparently Wednesday night is poker night in the U Wurzburg Physics department. H invited us to join them last night at the beer hall, which we of course accepted. Texas hold’em style, 5 euro buy in, tournament with the top two splitting the pot. Sure, why not? A little poker never hurt anyone. 🙂 MH was more amused at the potential for trash talking between some of his collegues and I – apparently there was a high potential for his amusement.

Heading to the Standard bar, we meet up with H from last night, J and his wife C, and F, the postdoc. Some initial chitchat, though J was extremely dismayed upon hearing my reasons for leaving grad school, “There’s no difference! No matter where you go, it’s all the same! IT’s exactly the same!!” Uh huh. Yeah… he’s trying to finish. I think my reply was, “Sorry, dude. Grad school is grad school.”

We start out, and the guys (F and J) told me that the weekly poker night had been going on for about 6 months, and H is playing for the first time. At their question if I had played before, I answered, “Well, I haven’t played regularly for a long time.” Their answer: “Oh, regularly? Hmm…” hahhaha…. of course, at this, MH is just sitting back with a grin on his face. Honestly, I haven’t played at all since grad school, but then again, the first two years of grad school did have the weekly poker nights, mainly at my house, which MH was very well aware of. 😛

so we continue playing, and I’m playing pretty conservatively, with a couple random plays to see how the others were reacting. And I noticed a couple patterns. F had a tendency to lean back when he had a decent hand, and J would sit up straighter and almost brace himself when he had a good hand. Almost as if one is bracing for battle. MH’s eyebrows talks WAY too much, and twitches when he’s not sure. H was the hardest to read, but then I found out later that he had never played before, which makes sense that there was no pattern to read; he doesn’t have any established to read. And C would always play conservative.

With the knowledge in hand, I pushed and bluffed my way to being in the top two for both tournaments we played. Funny, sometimes I would ask them if they wanted me to explain how I won a specific hand, which they did. J quipped that he wasn’t sure what was worse; that I won the hand, or that would win and explain what I was thinking and how I won. Though all of them asked me to continue explaining.

I think I paid for my dinner and drinks that night with the poker winnings! hahahah!!! F wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to be around for next week’s game, as they all joked that they weren’t looking all that forward to playing with me again. Oops. MH did get his wish for some trash talking, though.

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Rothenburg and poker

Posted by quirksalight on April 20, 2009

Wednesday (April 1, 2009) was our road trip to Rothenburg, a town about 45 minutes away and well known for their old town area, where entire structures and the city wall from the 1500s are still kept up today. Also, they have the medieval crime museum there.
Waking up is hard to do on anyday for me, but the later the previous night, the harder it is. I don’t think I went to sleep before 2am on any of the nights in Wurzburg, so getting going was a bit tough. Knowing this, and my penchant for being a grump, MH informed me that it was already 9:30am and that I had said that I wanted to be on the road 30 mins ago. (which was true, as it is a 30-45 minute drive to get there) Thinking, “Oh crap!” I jumped out of bed and quickly took a shower and dressed. Out of the shower, throwing my stuff together…only to see that it was then 9:15am. WTF?? I looked at MH and he’s laughing his head off. dork. 😛 Hey, if you’re reading this, I bet you’re still laughing. Just remember… there’s always payback. 🙂

The old part of Rothenburg was visually amazing. It’s been kept in great condition over the years, including the old city wall, which is still nearly encompassing the entire part of the old city. Scattered at regular intervals along the wall are towers, which also allow access up to the wall itself. Which is really nice, as you can walk along the city wall around the Aldstadt and get a great view of the old and new parts of Rothenburg. As you can see, MH is demonstrating that the ledge that you walk along is not all that high. 🙂 Walking around, several places had already put up decorations for Easter, which at this point was about 10 days away. There were plenty of evidence that the town were very focused on tourism, with the shops, decor, and the multiple tour groups roaming around in multiple languages. Though the shops were rather interesting. We saw a shop that sold replicas of medical armor and weaponry… man… there were some neat items there….and may be a little difficult getting on the plane back with.

The architecture is a mix of styles, but one that you see a lot is the Tudor style, from the late 1400’s – 1500’s, where you can see the contrast between the wall and the wood frames on the outside of the buildings. I do have to admit that I preferred the stone buildings with the statues, gargoyles, and carvings scattered about the exterior. Such character… and as some of y’all can attest to, I’ll stop and stare at the building for a while to take it all in. 😛

One of the things that I really wanted to see was the Medival Crime Museum, which is supposed to be the only museum devoted to crime and punishment in the medieval era. I heard a lot of interesting things about it, and one of MH’s friends, H, had been there before and told us that it was a really interesting. Which, yes, it was, but also very somber, as the chronicling of the past has some resonances throughout history to the present.

But, the peak of the trip (literally) was climbing to the top of the tower of the Rothenburg Rathaus and seeing the entire city and the surrounding lands. About 93 meters high, you have to climb a series of stairs to the very top of bell tower, the last two sets of stairs being more a ladder than stairs. Then, you pop open the hatch (seriously) and climb out to a very narrow ledge, right next to the large bell. I’m generally not afraid of heights, in fact, usually I love them. However, maybe it was narrow ledge, or the extremely brisk wind, but I definitely felt a bit wary of being there! MH commented that I didn’t let go of the railing much…. which was true. In all the pics of me up there, I have one hand on the rail!

And the food, of course. For lunch, MH and I sat in the main square at a Bavarian restaurant, and split a schweinehaxen, which basically is
roasted pig’s calf. (Yes, I noticed that it was the lower leg when there was a tibia and a fibula…. anyhow…) Rather large, and I was very glad that I split it, and was very yummy. The Trollinger I drank with lunch was rather sweet, and not really “trocken” (dry), which is what I do like. But the best part was the dessert we had later! Apparently the region is known for a pastry called “snowball”. It’s a long strip of sweet dough that been twisted and formed in to a ball, which is either fried or baked – I couldn’t tell. After, it’s dusted with sugar and/or covered with other toppings, such as chocolate. mmm….

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