Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Off the beaten track

So, yes, I'm back in Kingston, Jamaica again! Although it's been work, work and even more work since I got here, how many people can actually say they have the view that I have from my hotel balcony while they work?

Anyway, last weekend, I got a well deserved break from work when my friend invited me to balik kampung with her. Her kampung is a little village on Constituition Hill, about 30 minutes away from Kingston. Getting there itself was an adventure on it's own. The roads were ridiculously narrow, one side was the mountain wall and the other was a steep drop into the valley. Amazingly enough, somehow it can actually fit 2 vehicles and I'm not talking about Kancil sized cars here, more like Hiluxes and Landrovers. Don't ask me how, I just didn't want to look how close we were from falling off the cliff.
The highlights of my little village adventure was the traditional home cooked food and a domino match that I went to.

A traditional Jamaican breakfast is Ackee and Saltfish(nice - looks and tastes like scrambled eggs) and Roasted Breadfruit(nice- tastes like not-so-sweet potato) and Boiled Banana(plain yucky!). Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and it can only be plucked off the trees once it has opened up by itself. If you eat an unopened Ackee, you'd be poisoned.

Ackee fruit

Jamaican breakfast
Now, the domino match. Did I say match? Nope. I should correct myself. It should be called Domino Kampung Cup. Every Sunday, the whole village gathers at a little shed to support their favourite domino team. Each team has it's own jersey, cheerleaders (complete with the team flag and banners), and everyone brings trumpets, lots of sticks and pots and pans that they can bang together and generally just make as much noise as they can on top of all the shouting to support their team.

A domino match
And how can I not mention the weed .... wow, lots and lots of weed! The men were smoking weed as commonly as you might find someone in Malaysia smoking cigarettes. By the time they finished their game, I had been at the match for about 2 hours and I was having a serious headache from inhaling secondary weed smoke. I was so glad to leave the place and breathe in fresh air!
So that was my little village adventure. It was off the beaten track - not a very "touristy" thing to do, considering I'm in the Caribbeans. But I actually appreciated this experience more than I would appreciate going to the beach because this is also Jamaica - the people and their culture. And I'm glad that the people opened up to me, welcomed me and showed me a little of who they are.
~Anya~ (now completely recovered from my secondary weed-smoke hang over) :)

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Mother of all bad signs..

Recently I went on a short vacation to Cambodia ;) it was a very well deserved break and I honestly had a great time..

I was dreading this trip so much for all the “right” reasons.. (Note: its not wrong reasons) I think anyone in my position would have considered all the things that happened as a very bad sign and probably would have canceled the trip.. but im glad I didn’t :)

Well, the air tickets to go Cambodia was booked like 6 months back.. it all started there went I booked the flights to the wrong city, Phnom Penh.. because of that there was lot of confusion on how we gonna be traveling to the city I wanted to visit Siam Reap.. which is like 5-6 hours away from Phnom Penh..

Although we had the whole of 6 long months to prepare, being our great selves, we didn’t bother to prepare.. (also because we weren’t financially able to) I attempted to plan something and sort out the travel arrangements now n then.. due to lack of response from the other party, I just couldn’t be bothered at the end.. as we reached closer to the dates, I sort of gave up hope and was quite confident that this trip will not work out…

Only like 3 days before we were to scheduled to fly, we started getting serious bout this trip.. even then, we had a lot issues to consider, the biggest issue came from the financial sector.. after a lot of arguments and research and bla bla, we finally decided to go for it.. which was on Monday.. (we were suppose to fly on wednesday)..

Looking for a hotel at the very last minute, or I should rephrase, looking for an cheap/affordable hotel at the last minute was hard… I spent hours looking and finally on Monday night I booked it all n left home feeling relieved.. then I came to work on Tuesday, opened my inbox, and there were mails from the hotels I booked rejecting my booking… tat was a great start.. then I had to start the process all over again.. call up this n that, book this, book that, rush them on confirmation and finally on Tuesday night I managed to confirm the rooms… then I had to rush to KL to collect my camera and to change some money… I went to bank to withdraw money tat night, and the great atm machine retained my card for no good reason… bang! There I was with no money in hand and without my atm card…

Took a deep breath.. patiently left home.. woke up early next day, flyin in the afternoon.. went to the bank queued up long, and finally went my turn was up, the system was down... great! There I was again, with no money at all.. they told me try again in an hour.. Still didn’t loose my patience, I rushed to my office, to send out an important file, I went switched on my pc, was trying to get it done asap, n here we go… the office actually blacked out!!

Do you actually need any more bad signs? I did stop n think every time, if all this is a bad sign n I should just call off the trip… somehow we still wanted to go ahead…

By the time, I sort that out.. Rushed back to the bank to withdraw money n etc.. I was already running late to check in.. still rushed, took a cab to the airport and yeah guess wat.. the driver took a longer route n was driving extremely slow… by the time we reached, no prize for guessing, the check in counter was closed… although, we should have just shut up and came back, we didn’t.. and things actually started turning around well since then..

There was a kind lady at the counter who was willing to check us in… and the moment we landed, we were greeted by this sweet local guy, the driver, who was willing to take us to Siam Reap and show us around in his car for a cheap price since he had some work to do there… that solved all our traveling misery.. we checked into the 1st hotel, which I was dreading after reading some bad reviews, and to be told that our room was upgraded to VIP room because they were out of room and we got it for a standard room price… everything else were just falling into place, the right places, throughout the whole trip.. We were quite worried bout going to be penniless there.. But we actually managed to live a good life, spent on everything we wanted, did some good shopping and did come back with some money in hand and great smile on our faces…

So see… the moral of the story.. U never try, u never know… no sign is a bad sign :)

By: ‘lilo

Lilo missing her frens...

This blog is getting rather pathetic.. No one is contributing anything anymore.. I don’t know what happened to my quarter-life-crisised frens.. Lilo wonders if they have all gone past the stage, overcame the crisis n too happy with their life to be bothered about this blog.. or they are all just too busy with their life to waste their time complaining on this blog..

Anyway, just to update on behalf of them.. Margie is in Prague now.. having a blasting time.. doin a lot of ‘adventurous’ things ;) she would kill me if i name them, although im very tempted to..

Anya is on her way to panama.. currently in Jamaica.. watching the sea from her room window and missing certain someone in the east Malaysia..

Snowflakes who never appeared in this blog, is missing in action as usual.. the last I heard from her, she’s currently very busy with mommy-sitting ;p

so that leaves lilo all alone.. sucking on her oh-so-usual boring life..

By: ‘lilo