Friday, December 21, 2012

Santa and the Pests

Big news. We've finally answered the question of whether Santa enters homes in the tropics via the trash chute. Obviously not, as our condo is fumigating these on Christmas Eve. Horrors!
You have to tape it up so that your place isn't the one place the beasts take refuge. This is the one memo not to miss!
In other disturbing news, Kotex thinks its customers are stupid. Why yes, designs change everything, now I have monthly sparkle festivals of kittens and unicorns!
Given all of this, we've packed our bags and booked a reindeer outta here.
Luckily before leaving, I got my first Christmas present! Psalmstre Placenta Herbal Beauty soap (with natural placenta extract, animal not specified), and Be Nice Firm and White wash! Something to look forward to in the new year.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Engrish Holidays!

Welcome to the annual celebration of Engrish Holidays!
The present above has enthusiastic Christmas teddies with forks. The one below reminds you about my upcoming birthday.
This is a repost, but as it says, "We are always the same".
Finally, a reminder about gift styles. 
I am all dressed up an ready to go! 
We are practicing eating dairy before our trip home.
The above cheese plate cost 14 times as much as the scissor-cut curry rice below. (It's the meat that's scissor cut, in truth).
Which has retro charm.
And you get to choose your sauces and your meats.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dinner with Bono

Last weekend, Bono came to visit. He insisted on wearing his hat to cover his shaggy (and perhaps balding?) hair. Apparently Bono, who we call Huey, gets red eyes in the light, so insists on wearing shades all the time.
Bono likes special food served at high altitude, so we took him here.
Nowadays, there are certain things that high restaurants have to have. Two of these are foam, above, and unexpected jellies, below.
This is Barry's nut-free dessert, which I think might have been better than my nutaceous one.
The final thing that we need these days is dry ice. Really adds drama to your third dessert. Bono agrees.
After dinner, Barry put on a special performance of his "Call me Maybe" dance, with special Engrish outfit. Bono was mildly apathetic, as usual.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sports Supports

Barry recently had a bike race in Bintan, our next door island. I too, participated in sport, the rugged endurance sport that is Cycle Spectatorship. The morning for us spectators starts early, waving the bikist goodbye, shown above.
For the early part of the day, the Cycle Spectator must amuse herself in an empty beach resort while the cyclists are on the other side of the island. I started with bike helmet photography, shown above. That didn't last long.
The second phase of this sport is a hot walk along the beach. I dodged the zillions of crab hazards there. To see if you're ready for such challenges, how many crabs can you spot in the picture below?
I then noticed, to my horror, the brains of less successful past cycle spectators, obviously fried in the mid-day heat.
Bravely, I carried on, avoiding the tentacles of the sea creepy crawlies.
I spent some time observing a sea anemone. Anemone watching is one of my favourite parts of Cycle Spectatorship.
Then, I prepared for the Race Spectatorship portion of the day. Here is what you need: SPF 130, cold water, sunglasses, and coke-flavoured mentos, which are an important source of electrolytes.
It can be hard, because there is a lot of spandex, some ripped, some even white. This guy is contemplating how his rear looks in the now-shameful Livestrong tight-wear.
A good Cycle Spectator like me arrives early, to take some very necessary practice shots.
The video of Barry finishing his 3rd race is here. As a Cycle Spectator, I have to accept the defacing of my work by slowing it down and adding rap music. At full speed, the risk I have taken in the name of photography by being so close to the bikists is more obvious.
At the end of the race, the Cycle Spectator has to ensure the survival of the Bikist. This involves large quantities of Indonesian food and fluids. There is also the endurance of co-Bikists making up ridiculous tales of "peloton strategies" and "fluid management". I learnt that peloton is a Bikist made-up word for crowded group of Bikists.
There are still challenges for the Cycle Spectator, like mosquitoes, and sneezes.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Travel Jerk

The French woman directing our taxi driver got her consonants mixed up, and when the driver was confused, she simply shouted the directions louder.  My languages skills are not good enough to try this approach, as I can only say “here” and “where”. This proved not enough to get us to our hotel.  Neither did the normally trusty hotel card with directions on it.  The directions were so small that 5 out of 6 (statistically measured) cabbies could not read it. This is worrisome, since good vision is something to hope for in a cabby.

I have become a jerk, and here is the result. An old woman has just had some kind of attack on the plane. She has been put on oxygen, although no doctor is called (editor’s note – try not to have an attack requiring more than oxygen on the plane). My first though was for her, but my very quick second though was about what I would do if we had to stay overnight somewhere. I was disappointed to realize we were closer to Bangkok (more friends in Hong Kong), until I realize none of these airports have curfews, so would likely have taken off again after depositing the ill passenger anyway.
I am surrounded by aging people who are on an organized tour to Singapore, and it is one of these who has succumbed to the excitement. They have no speaking volume other than a hoarse shout, and my neighbour, who wears a pink and grey leopard print jacket, continues to elbow me and commandeer precious armrest space. (Editor’s note: I am aware that there are no pink and grey leopards). They nearly couldn’t manage to sit down for takeoff, and my neighbour has just mastered the operation of the seatbelt. This is good news, since I had always thought that those instructions went to waste. After this accomplishment, she rewarded herself with a snack of rotten fish. In all my travels, this is the worst smelling food I’ve experienced, and a potential cause of the aforementioned medical incident.

The driver didn’t meet us in when we arrived, the air was polluted, the noise and MSG hindered sleeping, and the man behind me kicks my seat while shouting to his friend. Here is the story of me becoming a jerk.
Laura Becoming a Jerk
While travelling this week, I am taken around by expats, proud of their love for the place and the restaurants to which they’re taking me. I had big economic plans to go to the glasses market, as I hear cheap glasses can make excellent Christmas gifts, worth the painstaking negotiations. My disappointment at failing in this mission exceeded my appreciation of the food from my hosts.

On the second night, we did not go to the recommended restaurant, having worked too late. Instead, we went to what we found to be a Korean place. There, we ordered dog. No, of course not on purpose. We can’t read the word dog in any Asian language, can you (editor’s note: Barry can)? So we ordered some dishes from the pictures on the menu. Luckily, one of the very few words the waitress knew was dog, so she was able to warn us. We quickly switched to the dish below, which may have been some kind of squid. It, along with the spicy frog legs (above), was tasty. Would we have known we were eating dog? Apparently it tastes like lamb.
My hotel room had a kitchenette, but no apparent hot water. The first night, I opted for a sponge bath and a call to maintenance. The second night, coming in from the cold air, my chilled fingers mistook the cool water for warm, which the rest of me regretted. The third night, I left the water running for 15 minutes. While this was successful in heating it and subsequently me, it was likely not my best contribution to social efficiency.

Through all of this, I’m reading a book about the poor treatment of the Singaporeans by the British in colonial times, and have just finished a book about some atrocities in the70s  (through which, by my astute calculations, those shouting around me have lived). Yet despite this, my colleague and I cannot resist commenting after the 3rd person cuts in front of us in line while boarding. I can’t help sighing in despair at the ruckus around me, the fish, and the arm real estate. I feel united with the Singaporean flight attendants in their (totally hidden) disdain. And I am a jerk.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What Gaudi Built

In Barcelona, if you look carefullly, you'll see unusual fruit.
And a whole lot of round edges. (Even my centered pictures don't align, because Google likes Gaudi too. Thanks for the tribute.)
These are the works of Gaudi, who was into this sort of thing.
He wasn't so much into completing things though, as the Sagrada Familia is still under construction 86 years after his death.
Much of the burden of keeping things stable falls to this turtle, who has to support the whole thing.
Even the sculptures are struggling - the knight's got his sword stuck, much to the delight of onlookers.
Where Gaudi was best, I think, was in ceilings.
If you look close, this one has glitter!
He was also good at sculpting nubbins and other protrusions.
These can be threatening, as you can see.
His staircases are not yet adapted to modern day obesity, so luckily Barry's been keeping trim.
But of course you can never go wrong with stained glass.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


We have learnt many lessons during our travels. In Barcelona, we saw the Catalan flag and language.
I wondered how different it could be until I saw this sign, which in Spanish would be "desayuno / jugo de naranja".
Also in Spain, we learnt how to take pictures properly, you have to get your hips into it like the man in the white jacket.
In France, we learnt that you have to stop jumping off this bridge since June 27th, 2008 in the morning. I think I know what happened in early June 2008.
Also in France, we learnt about the huilerie, where you take your olives to be made into oil, shown in the vats below. Since I recognized this as communism, we ingeniously named this Castro-oil.
I tried to get in on some of the action, but I was not very good at olive picking. 
Then, we learnt about French Engrish. (Editor's note: This is not Flench (Asian French), or Franglais (mixing the 2 languages), but alternative use of English in France.) Frengrish?
 Pizza, as quick as a bunny!
You may find a vacated premises in your bucket's.  Or a Japanese rice wine at a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant. You just never know.