Monday, December 31, 2007

5 Days in New York New York!

First impressions of New York's grandeur were great but less than the stunning Sex & The City feel . With all the televised hype of Manolo Blaniks, high class fashion boutiques, gourmet coffee shops, and modern flair, you can imagine the extent of my shock as I rode the run-down, bum ridden, dirty subway and squished my way through the multipurpose entrance/exit doors. Not a Singapore MRT for sure!

My experience in a teeny little 400 square foot apartment on the Upper East Side (normally shared by two people) definitely brought to light Sex & the City's fictional flair. Really, even a popular columnist with ten credit cards couldn't afford a one bedroom at over $3000 rent!

While houses are non-existant except in the suburbs, and a $3000 per month apartment is half the size of my one bedroom, the culture, creativity and diversity of entertainment may make up for the crowded urban frenzy. Brooklyn Heights high- priced stylish homes look like they stepped out of 1930's movies. Parts of Manhattan are definitely home to classy dressers and fashionistas, the majority of New Yorkers do not fit this description, as the baseball cap and army jacket clad man on the subway brought to my attention.

"All you tourists stick around Manhattan and never see the real New York. Manhattan is fake, they all judge you for your appearance, think I'm gonna rob them cuz I dress like this. Not me, I got tons of money, just want to dress like this. Why don't you tourists go visit the Bronx, see some real New York?"

Needless to say...I had an interesting 20 minute conversation with this man A quiet conversation, seeing as he didn't seem to be the type to argue with. Even after a creepy man in a similar "non-Manhattan" outfit offered to buy me a plane ticket back to New York so I didn't leave town...ugh! Gotta love the subway talk!

Jerry's Grand Tour on Saturday brought a local yet touristy viewpoint to my first full day in New York. With his classic New Yorker accent and years of city experience, he took us on his 16 hour city walking tour through Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Bridge, Staten Island, Chinatown, Little Italy, Wall Street, Lower East Side and Battery Park.

After the next morning's tour of the Empire State and the UN Building, Macy's department store, Rockefeller Centre, a glimpse of 5th Avenue glamour, and a ridiculously cheap Anne Klein jacket at a designer boutique...I felt the New York excitement start to fulfill me. Really, with all the Broadway shows, events, concerts, and shopping...maybe sacrificing the space for entertainment isn't such a bad idea!

Check out the slide show to see my tourist pics. Don't miss my next entry, another mini slide show ahead!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Canada: Winter, Hockey, & Cars

-27 degrees Celsius, icy roads, pickup trucks and hockey games...Alberta. You don't realize how much you loved sweating heat, heat rash, lizards, beaches and the ocean until you move back home. Although, ski trip plans will make their way into my winter this year, shivering in my car, slipping down the highway and shoveling snow are not my idea of fun.

After almost 4 months back in a country that was home for so many years in a row, I can't believe the reverse culture shock! At the same time, it's so great to see old friends and work in a Canadian office environment. No unpaid overtime, awesome pay, tons of vacation and flexibility, flat line hierarchies, and running into people you work with at the bar make me realize why people stay.

Below: Sapna & Michelle, a night out at Hudson's pub on Whyte Ave, the city's best collection of bars.
Michelle, Stephanie, Pascal

Working for a car company though...that's a challenge! I learn to become more knowledgeable about cars and hockey every day. Since we're the main sponsor of the Edmonton Oilers and Rexall Place, I've already been to my first two hockey games; I have to admit, they're fun! No doubt that Edmonton is a hockey town, but being back from a year away, I am just starting to realize the extent to which it matters to so many people. Too bad the Oilers are having a rough season!

The job is easygoing and fun; we get a chance to coordinate contests and incentives for car dealers, execute marketing plans, setup promotions with the Oilers and and fumble with excel spreadsheets and formulas. Kendra, another Marketing Specialist with us, and I have a fun time working together. We have even planned a Christmas party! Looks like business trips may even be on the horizon :)

The coming months will hopefully have more stories; likely tales a ski trip, a new apartment (I'm moving out!) an old used car, a New Year's celebration in New York and an awesome score on the GMAT (my ticket to Europe!!)

Thanks to my loyal readers....the Singapore Lizard should have more "tails" soon!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween Thriller!

It's the one festival really not celebrated in Singapore; Halloween! Officially the time of year when spirits contact the physical world, magic is potent and the dead become alive (at least according to Gaelic tradition) Also known as a time of year when we have an excuse to dress up, eat candy and party! Dressed as a Heavenly Devil this year, I attended the Thriller Halloween party at Edmonton's Event Centre. While the night started out quiet...the place soon filled with the craziest costumes, from traditional vampires to Luigi & Mario Nintendo men.
Heavenly Devil

While the lack of live music was a bit disappointing, the DJ's music got better as the night went on. Although, with the right combination of alcohol, than can be said for any venue! Party pics below remind me of the Singaporean Insomnia days...what a night!

From top left: Joana, Bobby and Lorina, Joana & Sapna, Yann
Dani & Sapna, Stephanie, Sapna, Dani

Definitely didn't realize Halloween could be such a fun event (finally a party where everyone gets into the theme!). Trick-or-treat!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fall Changes

It seems impossible to believe Autumn was my favorite season. Every year, I waited for the 2 weeks after summer that turn our beautiful weather ugly. In the days before Singapore, humidity and heat past 25 degrees were unbearable; now they are a missed pleasure. The leaves are already falling to the ground, although I have to admit for Edmonton we've had a great few weeks of Fall...some years we skip it entirely and head to the winter.

I wish I had more pics and stories but my life consists of the job hunt and finding some sort of normalcy after a year and a half of adventures. Hopefully, the job and money will flow in soon, and I'll be on my way to more travels. So stay tuned for exciting events and travels...hopefully coming soon!

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Walk in The Past

As I walk back into the past, Singapore seems a lifetime ago, not just 6 weeks. The freedom to travel to a different country every weekend, the cultural surprises, the crazy clubbing nights, the multicultural interactions; all past. I feel like a ghost---revisiting the days on campus, staying in my parents home, redoing countless job applications like I did for internships, studying for interviews, but this time a million times worse. It's strange to realize how much we identify with dressing up in a business suit and going to work, how familiar and important it seems to have that feeling of mediocre importance. Especially if you include the fact that I've signed up as a temporary office gopher for the next two weeks probably for less money than Starbucks pays.

What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger---and so I will fight to visualize my travels ahead. While a 3 week India trip seems a bit impossible if I get a job (which I need soon!), New York is on the calendar for November, California to surf hopefully some weekend soon, & Qatar and Frankfurt in March as long as that new job of mine will give me a few weeks holiday! In between this traveling madness I plan to fit in the GMAT, MBA school applications, maybe a language class and a job.

So here's to keeping the Singapore Lizard alive for future travels!

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Parallel of Travel: Camille's Farewell & A Tour of Edmonton

Traveling is strange in that you say goodbye to people, yet always seem to meet them again. While Camille departs today for her Qatari adventure, Dave, a friend I met on the Kiwi Experience bus in New Zealand, showed up on Edmonton's doorstep. A tourist in my own city, we wandered the 8-block West Edmonton Mall complex, rode the Mindbender (world's longest indoor roller coaster), people watched at the Waterpark, and ate at the Greek stalls in the food court. It's always fun to watch tourists expressions as you tell them that yes, WEM has a mini-golf course, waterpark, amusement park, glow-in-the dark golf, casino, hotel, ballroom, billiards club, submarine, Santa Maria replica, not to mention the flamingos.
Dave & Sapna at Professor WEM's mini-golf, & Dave with his Nemo game prize.

Camille's farewell party was a fun night at Brewsters, with blueberry and raspberry beer (ok, so I'm not sure there's anywhere other than Brewsters that actually makes beer that tastes like blueberry and wheat pancakes, but it's good! I guess wings night and baseball games made the lounge packed, but that made it all the better!

Natasha, Sapna, & Camille: Saturday's breakfast at Moxie's (great despite our hungover waitress!)

Wednesday's Brewsters pics:

From top left: Camille & Evelina, Adam, Brad, Camille, Evelina,
Camille & Olivia, Camille & Sapna, Camille & Shelly
Have an awesome trip Camille!...Check out her blog for updates.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Edmonton: Home for Now

Two weeks have passed since my plane landed; I'm still in deja-vu mode. Like walking into the past, walking back to last year...Whyte Ave, South Edmonton Common, West Edmonton Mall, the University of Alberta campus. While it's great to see everyone again, find old friends, to go for coffee, to spend my days in job interviews... 2 weeks may be the beginning of the end of my stay here.

Europe-bound, I will spend my days working to save, nights brushing up on foreign language skills, weekends painting, catching up with friends and studying for that GMAT test in case a Master's program in Europe finds its way into my life.

So while my life this year may not be as exciting as our Singapore beach weekends, cultural 4 day trips & crazy Reisegruppe Alkohol adventures, I will continue this blog. Please keep checking back; I'll do my best to keep it exciting---so far California is on the list for the fall, India & a stop in Singapore close to Christmas.

Here's a couple pictures of me back at home:

From left: Me & Camille with Minnie & Tigger, her two poodles, and Santino, Sacha's new Boston Terrier puppy!

Check out Tino's very own blog!

Also, I got home just in time for Edmonton's annual Fringe Festival (plays, music, street performers and the like). Stephanie and I spent the evening watching a couple of random plays; the first a comedic story of lesbian lovers with a political edge, the second a twisted, plotless, dance of drunken lovers looking for meaning in life.

While Our Kind of Love is An Ugly Love deals with the acceptance of homosexuality, the expression of love for the sake of status (through marriage), and the need to embrace our feelings, Something Red throws the violence and pain of relationships into one emotional frenzy. The choreography of the dance movements is skilled, yet little clue is given as to what or why events actually occur. An unemployed criminal, university student, ex-"streetboy", and a working woman in a drunken stupor and broken relationships. Craziness!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Vancouver: Back on Canadian Soil

Vancouver for a couple days...the ocean, the beaches, the shopping. I have to remind myself to walk on the right side of the sidewalk (not the left), filter coffee is considered normal, Canadian dollar prices are not misprints, and yes, the line at Tim Hortons will always be that long. Just a couple days, but still a taste of the temperate rainforest, ocean waters, slightly more humid air, and mild climate that Alberta lacks.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge walk was more hype than real attraction, although our over enthusiastic 66 year old tour guide kept things interesting. Walking through the forests, even in the rain, was a great way to occupy the day.

Not to mention the shopping districts and great places to eat, Kitsilano, Metrotown Mall and Robson Street. Hanging out with a couple of boys from the hostel...Oliver (from Germany) makes it clear how ridiculous the coffee at a regular restaurant (Moxy's) took them 30 minutes to figure out how to use the cappuccino machine, and then they served us cold coffee!

From left: Erik & Oliver... Sapna, Zita, Emer
The International Fireworks Competition Finale was held that Saturday night in Vancouver...China, Canada and Spain. It was really a great show, with synchronized orchestral music, in Stanley Park. Right on the oceanfront, we watched the sunset, and a half hour show. To be honest, Spain seemed the best (other than, ofcourse, the HSBC Finale Team, which put on an amazing show). Funny thing is, they never did mention who won!

We followed up our evening with a few chocolate martinis...they are actually not too sweet and quite good...tasted like icecream!