Table Dancing

In 2010, I spent the month of May in Europe and Northern Africa with 20 college friends on a trip called Juniors Abroad. Draaaaammaaaa. Just kidding it was actually harmonious and amazing.

One of the stops along the way was Sorrento, Italy, a town overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea (you know, the Tyrrhenian Sea). When in Sorrento, be sure to catch a game of Texas Hold Them.

IMG_3074IMG_3116Back to me.

One evening a group of us were strolling down one of the main roads when we ran into a guy around the same age as us who wanted to talk to us. This guy had a name but I can’t remember it, so we will call him Carlo. Carlo didn’t really speak English, but we somehow learned that he recently moved to Sorrento from Brazil. Now I had recently studied in Mexico, and my Spanish was much better than the nothing it is now, so Carlo and I tried to communicate in the vaguely similar languages that are Spanish and Portuguese.
It didn’t work.

Miraculously, we figured out that Carlo was trying to invite us to a club, and somehow we thought it would be a good idea to follow this stranger that we couldn’t understand as he lead us from the main downtown area to poorly lit streets with no promised club in sight.

Several times we almost turned back around, but for some reason or another we kept following him. I gave us a 60/40 chance of surviving.

After 10-15 minutes, Carlo delivered us to our promised club, and upon entering, we were both pleased that it was an actual club, and confused by the lack of party-goers and staff. Looking around the space, it appeared to be closed, with the exception of about 15 people dancing on a dance floor off to the side. We scoped the place out and decided it seemed too closed for us to be anywhere but where the other people were.

Whatever, time to party.

We made our way to the dance floor area and nestled into the 2 or 3 tables that were unoccupied. And we danced.

The club was playing a great mix of house music, so obviously I HAD to get up and dance on one of the tables. I mean, I had just been in Mexico and that was what people did there! The other people looked at me with slightly confused expressions, but the music was loud enough that I didn’t care.

The longer we were at this club, the more we realized that nobody else was coming in, and it was just our group and that other group of people that were here originally. And they all seemed to know each other. And when one of our guys tried to dance with some of their girls, they were having none of it. Their group was not interested in having anything to do with us. Whatever.

More good European house music, more dancing.

Then something weird happened. All of a sudden we noticed the music turn down, and their group started gathering up and singing. And then a bunch of middle-aged people walked out singing and one of the boys in their group walked out into the middle of their circle.

And then it dawned on us. We were at this kid’s birthday party.

We all looked at each other as the pieces came together. The club was empty because it was rented out. Nobody else was coming in because this was a private event. The bar was closed because these were teenagers!

Then it sunk in: I had just table-danced at a random 16-year old’s birthday. In front of his parents.

Nonchalantly, we grabbed our things and bolted out the door.

To this day it is a mystery why Carlo brought us there… Was he just pretending to be a club promoter so that eventually he will have enough experience to actually be a club promoter? Was Carlo a confused person? Was Carlo a figment of our group’s imagination? Was Carlo wronged by the 16-year-old birthday boy and this was his version of revenge? We might never know.

Anyway, moral of the story is if things seem fishy, don’t get on a table and dance.

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Goodbye Jakarta, Hello Perfume Commercial

Currently I’m waiting at Soekarna-Hatta airport in Jakarta waiting for my flight to Hong Kong, then to Vancouver B.C., then finally to Portland. I am once again a mix of emotions, so I’ll see if I can write some of them out…

Before I start, I have to say that my Spanish vacation was amazing, and I was happy I could spend it with my brother and sister. Our Spanish cousins treated us like royals, and I think this was the first vacation in a long time where I didn’t lose weight. I haven’t checked, but I might have even gained an lb or two. How about I’ll post pics and more details later (about the vacation, not my weight). Sounds great.

I didn’t realize it until I sat next to 2 Spaniards in Starbucks just now (score!), but I really did leave part of my heart in Spain, and I actually feel a little homesick for Spain already. Que raro, no?

And now I am officially leaving my home for the past 2 years, Jakarta. I basically said my goodbyes to the people and the city before I left for Spain, but now having been back for a day to collect all my things and having to say goodbye for good, I feel sad again.

I’m also permanently scarred from my 49 hour journey from Nancy and Manolo’s house in Spain to Brady’s apartment here, which makes me a little hesitant for this journey home. It is only 28 hours though…

And then there’s all the excitement about being home. I’m actually just coming to grips with the fact that I will be home. (Whenever I write about coming home, I have to take a 2-3 minute break to consider what that means.)

Well I could go on for pages about everything I’m feeling right now, but that would be  boring to maybe everyone but my grandparents. I’ll end with something entertaining.

Here is the perfume commercial I was an extra in a month or two ago. I only spotted myself once, and it’s towards the beginning when my face passes right in front of the camera.

When nature calls

Here’s something I’ve never observed before…

We were about 25 minutes from landing in Singapore just now and the captain had already put up the seatbelt sign, which meant nobody could get up to use the bathroom. So what happened when the 5 year old boy across the aisle from me decided he had to pee? He simply unbuckled, stood up, pulled down his pants and underwear, and peed into the plastic grocery bag that his dad was holding for him.

The crazy thing was everyone around acted like it was a normal thing to do.

 

Singapore

A week and a half ago I went to Singapore for Chinese New Year. It was awesome and I have been wanting to share my adventure, but I have been super busy.

Last night I finally finished grading my students’ research papers, which took me a total of 12-13 hours to read and grade. I’m scarred forever.

But enough about the boring, painful parts of my lyfe, let’s talk about Singapore.

Okay!

Dang. I can’t share everything. This post would be too long. So, here are my top 10 highlights in random order (because I hate ranking things)!

Okay!

  • Going to the world’s largest aquarium. 

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  • The Singapore Zoo, which is huge and awesome.

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  • While waiting in a 30ish minute line to enter the Night Safari portion of the zoo, a lady and her husband kept trying to cut us. The first time she tried (approximately 10 minutes into waiting), I noticed and cut her off. Then to show her who was boss, I kept leaning back to reclaim my personal bubble. But then when we were rounding the next corner, she cut us off! What!? Anika, who is more bold than I, moved right next to her waiting for the opportunity to reclaim what was ours. The moment came and she struck, and quickly us 3 boys joined her back in our rightful place. We then made an impassable line so history would not repeat itself.
  • Eating Subway.
  • Meeting up with a friend from college who is teaching in Singapore.

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  • Going to a water park that has dolphins at it. Someday soon, the dolphins will be able to swim around the park. Crazy.

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  • Duty free stores at the airport.
  • Finally getting to see the Merlion.

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  • This fish’s name.

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  • These guys.

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Defying the space-time continuum

(Or something like that.)

Next weekend I will by flying home to my beloved cold, soggy, state of Oregon. On the way there, Brady and I will be stopping in Tokyo for 11 hours. Pretty excited about that.

What I am also excited about is the fact that on Dec 9, I will be in Tokyo for 11 hours, in Seattle for an hour and a half, and I will still get to Portland before noon. Talk about a busy Sunday.

Reminds me of the time I spent my 21st birthday on two continents and in 3 countries.

On a less exciting note, I know that I will feel like hell when I arrive in Portland. A small price to pay in order to have a burrito. And see my family and friends. And be home for Christmas.

Mmm Malaysia truly Asia

On August 16, Brady, Curtis and I set off to Malaysia. 50 mosquito bites and an awful sunburn later, I am back to my home in the sky in Jakarta.

Now I’m going to attempt to give an accurate, brief description of a trip that was at times 5 star, at times tropical bliss, and other times green hell.

Starting our journey in Kuala Lumpur, us boys had a nice weekend exploring the city, enjoying cheap, good food, and admiring the Petronas Towers.

KL highlights:

  • Discovering Nandos Chicken.

The hot sauce at Nandos. Mmmm.

  • Wandering around Berjaya Times Square Mall, which is apparently the 15th largest mall in the world according to my wikipedia search just now.  The place was monstrous and awesome.
  • Eating at T-Bowl restaurant, a restaurant inspired by toilets. Everyone sits on toilets while eating (I couldn’t quite get over that and really didn’t enjoy my food, which was served in a mini toilet bowl).

My meal…

KL low points:

  • Walking all the way to the bird park in the blinding heat, only to discover that “Malaysia’s largest free flight bird park” does not mean there is no entrance fee, but that birds are able to fly anywhere they want to.
  • Always seeing the same person working the front desk of our hotel.
  • High entrance fees.

After KL, us boys flew to the island of Borneo, where we met Anika, Ruth, and Kristy in the town of Kota Kinabalu. After dinner, we found out that the 2ish hour drive we were planning to take in the morning to get to our rainforest camping experience was actually an 8 hour drive. After frantically weighing out our options, we bought a flight to our destination. 7 hours later we were on the plane, and 35 minutes later, we landed where we needed to be. Here we began our 2 night/3 day camping trip in the oldest rainforest in the world at a place called Uncle Tan’s.

Uncle Tan highlights:

  • Seeing orang utans, macaques, proboscis monkeys, and lots of other cool animals.

Just sittin…

Proboscis monkey leaping from tree to tree

  • Getting to speak a little Spanish to Spaniards staying there with us.
  • River cruises on the Kalibatangan River.

Night river cruise

  • All the fun conversations that arise when friends are together.

Uncle Tan low points (aka green hell):

  • Ugh the spiders were so big and creepy. I had this one watching me go to the bathroom looking like it wanted to devour me. I’m pretty sure it could have, too.

As big as my entire hand.

  • Fire ants on my bare feet. In case you haven’t had the pleasure, tropical fire ants feel like stinging nettle or a bad bee sting. Somehow they decided my feet were best for stinging–or biting, I’m not sure how they create the pain.
  • Not seeing the pygmy Borneo elephants.
  • 40 mosquito bites in 2.5 days.

After Uncle Tan’s we had a long bus ride back to KK, where we had to say bye to Kristy the next day. Sadness for all.

Once we had our sad goodbyes with Kristy, we took a 2.5 hour ride to Sabah Tea Garden. We got to stay in cool cottages and enjoy the beautiful views of the tea gardens surrounded by the peak and hills around Mount Kinabalu.

Sadly, Sabah Tea Garden was much funner in 2005. For some reason they decided to not offer all the cool things they used to offer, like biking through the tea gardens and getting fish massages in the river (which I’m still very unclear what that actually is).

From Sabah Tea Garden we went to Poring Hot Springs. PHS is a pretty sweet place, especially if you like the disgusting, egg-like sulfur smell that comes from the hot springs. Thankfully our canopy walk above the forest was far from the smells. Much like my fear and disgust of blood has increased with age, so has, apparently, my fear of heights. Some people might have noticed the great views and enjoyed being in the trees like monkeys. I focused on the rickety suspended plank we were walking on and how far we would fall. A little less fun than I had anticipated.

We spent our last day back in KK on a small island where we got to snorkel.

Snorkeling highlights:

  • Seeing stingrays, clownfish, colorful coral, and lots of amazing fish.

Our island

The island’s beach

  • Watching clownfish dart after Brady and Anika.

Snorkeling low points:

  • Scraping my foot pretty bad on coral and feeling guilty that my decision to keep swimming might attract sharks that attack people. Woops.

My poor foot with its coral wound

  • Having fish try to eat my foot wound.
  • Getting pecked by what seemed to be territorial reef police fish.
  • Getting my back and neck fried.

Although it seems that there are lots of low points, it’s often the low points that end up being the most memorable and comical. So overall, I would say this trip was pretty good.

Lastly, this is the reason I wanted to go to Malaysia. It’s a commercial that gets played roughly 10 times per commercial break.

Aussiemania

A list of things Australian:

  1. Australians are stylish and I feel like I need to buy all new clothes. Soy un slob!
  2. Hillsong actually does have it going on.
  3. Why is food so expensive here?
  4. Did you know the Sydney Opera House was designed in the 1950s? Que progresivo! 
  5. The auditoriums in the Opera House are surprisingly small. Why?
  6. Wallabies are so cute and I want one right now. I must have. 
  7. If they wanted to, wombats could do some serious damage. Good thing they are mild-tempered and likely also very depressed.
  8. Being on the other side of a dolphin cruise’s 99.4% guarantee of seeing a dolphin is surprisingly easy. Cheers to being the .6%!

    Look, there’s nothing!

  9. Why do all the stores close so early here (like at 5 pm)?!
  10. Koawas awe sweepy.

    Sleepy

  11. You do not want to run into a wild cassowary for it will damage you.