Sunday, May 13, 2012

I Wanna Walk Like You Talk Like You

Now I'm the king of the swingers
Oh, the jungle VIP
I've reached the top and had to stop
And that's what botherin' me
I wanna be a man, man cub
And stroll right into town
And be just like the other men
I'm tired of monkeyin' around!

In North Sumatra, on the edge of Gunung Leuser National Park ,  you will find Bukit Lawang a small tourist village. In 2003 this town was hit by a flash flood caused by illegal logging. The flood wiped out the town, killing approximately 300 people and causing much damage to the park.  Fortunately the town has been rebuilt and the park has recovered because Gunung Leuser is one of two places in the world where you can find orangutans in the wild. 

The Town

As of 2000, the Sumatra orangutans have been assessed as being critically endangered and on the IUCN Red list as one of “The world’s 25 Most Endangered Primates” with less then 8000 still alive in the world it is estimated that of 5000 of these orangutans occupy and live with in the 8000 km conservation park area in Northern Sumatra.
It's not rocket science why man cub and I went here.
Mama & her baby

Me and our guides they like to stop every half hour

What goes up
Must come down...
Finally we had some time to kill on our last day and decided to go check out the local Elephant sanctuary near by. Our driver took us on the back roads, which required a 4x4 and moments of potentially being stuck and having to get out and push.  
Country side
 The country side was a mixture of decimation and beauty as you saw first hands just how stunning the jungle can be followed that would then be followed up by a turn in the road and you were confronted by the result of the palm oil industry and illegal logging.

Country side....
Right, wrong we could go back and forth all night but in the mean time  let’s get back the point at hand and that is :
Shubby do ou ou
I wanna be like you
I wanna walk like you
Talk like you, too
You'll see it's true
An ape like me
Can learn to be human too…….
Man cub & I

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Rum Diaries

Staring: Thai Rum or better known as Sang Som.
To set up the whole scene I suggest you take a moment and allow the following video to play as background music. 

Although I am not a huge spirit drinker (2 martini’s I’m on the floor) If I had to choose a spirit of choice it would be rum (dark rum to be more specific).  Now this probably has to do a lot with Mike, for him rum ranks up there with the Vancouver Canucks, he likes it a lot.

Mike vs Sang Som (Round 1)
Our first night in Phi Phi we had and took the opportunity to camp out on the beach in Maya Bay. For those of you who unfamiliar Maya Bay was used as the back ground for the filming of the “The Beach” you know the one where Leonardo DeCaprio spends most of his time hanging out topless…….will save that day dream for another entry.
During the day while the beach is absolutely stunning it is crowed and over run by tourists but at night they limit the numbers that are allowed to stay on the beach to about 20 people (by stay I mean you are given a mat, sleeping bag and small pillow and told to go find some sand). 
Fast forward to the arrival of Mike, Risha, Jason, Corrie.
Upon arrival we were each handed 3 “rum bucket” tickets each.
Definition of Rum Bucket: 
            Rum, a hint of coke for color in a sand pail.
Now to fully appreciate this story there are two factors that need to be taken into account.
Point 1: The guys putting on this little experience are not stupid. They know that handing out rum buckets will not only make everyone a bit more sociable but it will also make sleeping on the beach more enjoyable.
Point 2: Mike and Jason have for many years now have had a long-standing bromance (as explained in previous posts) and this was the first time they had seen each other in quite a while.

The night proceeded as follows:
Risha: Mike can I have one of my tickets now.
Mike: Yah about that…..
Risha: Seriously
Mike: This stuff is REALLY good we should think about bringing Sang Som home  with us….

Risha: Yes Mike I’m glad that you find me better looking then Jason, but can you do me a favor and stop telling him he’s ugly you are going to hurt his feelings. Yes that’s great that Sang Som is a better friend to you then him but as this is your first date with Sang Som why don’t you wait till the morning to make that announcement to Jason.

Risha: Yes Mike I’m glad you like Sang Som but I think you are getting a little ahead of yourself here and maybe you should do a bit more market research as I’m not sure there is a market for this stuff in Singapore or Canada
Risha: Jason where are your pants?

Risha: No Mike for the last time we are not taking Sang Som and 11 of his brothers on the plane home with us. Go to sleep.

Risha: (To the couple who went to bed first) Again I am truly sorry and apologize that you could sleep last night, oh really you could hear Mike and Jason snoring from the other side of the beach……well you should have drank more rum.
2 days later I bought Mike a rum and coke to which he replied, “What the hell is this? This is like the worst rum and coke I’ve ever had. Seriously you paid money for this.
End result:  Sang Som 1  
                    Risha & Mike 0
Maya Bay

Risha vs. Sang Som (Round 2).
So I think it’s important to understand that this trip took place two weeks before I turned 30. I don’t like birthdays. They stress me out, this year even more so.  
However the lead up to the big 3-0 I was feeling with okay and with my new friend Sang Som I was feeling even better and figured I could take on the world.
So I tried.  
Mike having had his “big night” with his now x-friend Sang Som earlier in the week and having gotten what ever it was out of his system was pretty happy grooving along for the rest of the week.
The night started out fairly mellow we went out for dinner had a few beers to which afterword Corrie announced her and Jason were tired needed to go home.
Not me........... I was on a roll. 
Mike and I decided that a walk into town seemed like a good idea and stumbled across a reggae bar with a Mauy thai ring in it.
Having done a bit of Mauy Thai a few years ago and really enjoyed it and not been able to find a decent gym in Singapore, I got excited and wanted to go in and watch a few rounds.
And who should be there but our old friend Sang Som in his trusty red bucket.  It being one of our last nights on the island, in a bar with a Mauy Thai fights going on  I was happy and  decided that the night would be about going with the flow and flow it did.
 You see unbeknown to us at the time was it turned out that the Mauy Thai ring was open to the public meaning if you wanted to get in and spar you could and not only that at the end you were given a free rum bucket!     
Sang Som influenced conversation (1 Bucket).
Risha: You know Mike I think I could probably handle myself in the ring.
Mike: I don’t think that’s a good idea
Risha (with ego way out of check) : You know if we ever found ourselves in a street fight I think I could hold my own
Mike: You couldn’t and I still think getting in the ring is a bad idea.
Risha: Your right Mike they would probably pair me with a little hundred pound 5’2 Asian girl if I’m getting in I’m fighting a guy.
Mike: mmmm why we continue to watch for a while and make a decision in a bit.

Sang Som influenced conversation (2 Buckets) 
 Coach Risha : Okay what you need to win this fight is this, this and this
Israeli dude who just finished his 3 year military service: yah okay…thanks
Coach Risha: No worries let me know if you need any more advice.

Sang Som influenced conversation  (2.5 buckets)
Risha: Okay I’m in! but I’m in a dress and need to borrow a shirt and pair of shorts
Mike: Risha this isn’t a good idea……
Risha: Relax Mike they are going to put me in the ring with some girl who’s had a few drinks and probably has no idea what she’s doing

Sang Som influenced conversation  (3 buckets) 
I get into the ring and look across to see some 6’2 Amazonian Swedish girl who is built like a brick shit house staring across at me.
I then look down at my loving husband for moral support and he has his head in his hands refusing to look up at me.

Bell rings – 1 round.
I get my ass kicked  and handed over to me on a silver platter.

I sheepishly climb out of the ring with newly equipped swollen and slightly purplish cheeks and one blood shot eye, and to the voice of a REALLY angry Mike.

Angry Mike:  “You bloody sawdust head, I told you this was a bad idea this is the stupidest thing you have ever done ”
 (There were a few other words mixed in there but I was to busy half laughing and crying to pay close attention.)
Angry Mike: Are you happy now sawdust head, can we go home now?
Risha: Nope
Angry Mike: why not?
Risha: They haven’t brought me my bucket yet.
Stupidity and Sang Som prevailed.
The next day, following the night’s debaucheries, Mike having no sympathy for me and my ragging headache did manage to calm down and to stop calling me “Sawdust head”. Although his day was brightened  up when we did the walk of shame pass the bar only to see a giant poster of the girl who kicked my ass on it holding a champions belt.
 End result: Sang Som = 2
                   Risha &Mike =  0
There are no pictures,  no videos and we unanimously agreed no need for round 3.

I can't wait for my mother to read this post.

"Austalia" and the kick off to 2012

When you ask Mike and I what we miss most about Canada it always the same response.  Our niece.
Best buds.  Mike could do no wrong in Teaghan's eyes
So when we found out that she would be taking a “big plane” and spending Christmas in “Austalia” we booked our tickets the next day (bonus that her mom and dad were going to be there too).
After a day spent running around looking for sand toys (mental note don’t make promises to 2 year unless you are planning on keeping them).  We boarded the plane and followed our noses to Perth with the plans to head down and spend a week in Margaret River.
I like everything to do with Margaret River.
Red Gate Beach - 5 minute drive from where we were staying
It is a quaint little town in the Southwest of Western Australia about a 3 hour drive south from Perth with a population of around 5000 people, there are no streetlights and it’s one of those everybody knows your name kind of places. Also known for its great wines (this is red wine country) and surf breaks. 
 The people are so friendly that when you are the dumb ass who somehow didn’t put enough sun screen on her back (I blame Mike) and it’s the color of a boiled lobster the locals take the time to stop you in the street to give you a lesson on the ozone layer or lack thereof in Australia followed by their family’s remedy.
We rented a 3 bedroom and loft place just outside of town and our days usually started at about 6am when a certain 2 year old would come into our room quietly and stand by the bed waiting to see if Mike (aka Blackie the horse) was up yet. This was usually followed by a little beach, a little wine tasting and of course a little eating.
Petting Zoo
Our house in Margaret River.
Our pad was built around an old train car
Loft area
"Making Christmas! Making Christmas!"
Christmas story time
Added bonus to all this is was the lovely Miss (soon to be a Mrs.) Jennifer Oster, -another long time favorite individual of mine and part of the original “ladies”  - had recently decided to make Perth her home for a bit. Not only did she provide us with a bed to sleep in when we first arrived but she also came out and hung with us over Christmas.   
Stacy & Jen chilling with a glass of bubble and enjoying the local cheese.
Our trip to Margaret River also kicked off a 2 month long 5 trip jet setting tour of Asia, a double dose of guests coming to visit and for me an end of an era.
We got back from Margaret River only to turnaround two days later get on a plan heading to Indonesia.
Destination – Gili Islands, a 2-hour boat ride from Bali
Gili Islands
Purpose: To kick of the New Year right on a beach listening to a little reggae along with our two buddies Preston and Quentin. 
Quentin, Preston and Mike waiting for the sunset
Sunset at the Gilies
Mike chilling out
Following this a visit from two of our favorite Victorian friends Sean and Lisa stopped in on their way to Thailand!
A bit of a side note: whenever we end up in Victoria BC it is without fail we end up at these guys house and it goes without saying that at least a few bottles of wine are usually consumed and good eats are on the table. 
 Finally we were able to repay the favor.
Hanging out by the pool doing the usual
  As Sean and Lisa took off to Thailand that evening Jason and Corrie landed in Singapore and we all took a trip to Phi Phi Island in Thailand……

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Let me get this straight I have to take up golf.....

Red pants seem to be a big thing in China.
This story starts about 6 months ago when I was told I had to become involved with the HSBC men’s PGA golf championships in Shanghai as Casillero del Diablo, one of my companies major wine brands was the official wine sponsor.
For some this would be the equivalent of meeting Jack Nicholson, Bono or the Beatles but to be honest golf just isn’t my lollipop.
Now having realized that it’s the sport of business, I’ve tried swinging a club a couple of times and even took a lesson or two, but after learning that this game not only involved patience, took away my ability to blame others for my mistakes and heckling was a no-no I decided that it this so called "sport" and I just weren’t meant to be.    
So this past November, when I ended up at the welcome reception and kick off for the largest PGA tour in Asia what else was there to do but make a few new friends.   

 Welcome Reception:

Risha: Oh hi I'm Risha are you here to to play or watch the tournament?
(FYI young Rory is a very nice lad)

That jacket is worth how much?

 Risha: Ah you are a wine and cigar fan well its official we can be friends (also a big fan of Mr. Clarke's suit).

Nice golfer dude - no idea his name.
Golf Day 1-4
CDD Suite
View of 18th hole from our suite
CDD Team

And the winner is.....

Martin Kramer - He drinks Casillero Del Diablo, like you should.

Having spent 4 days immersed in the sport I can honestly say I have a new found appreciation for the sport and actually have started following the men's circuit a little more closely.  
Next up learning all the players names that play for Man U. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

He's My Baby & I'm His Hunny.

It has taken almost 7 years but Mike has finally learned to appreciate and embrace Halloween, (I freaking love it). The transition of “Halloween is stupid” to “Halloween is awesome” happen about 5 years ago when Mike’s figured out he could use the excuse of Halloween to walk around in a baby blue tux and white boat shows singing “Desiree”.  It turns out Mike has a secret fascination with Neil Diamond.
Now what started out and was supposed to be a once a year transformation slowly began to occur more frequently. Slowly and usually well timed Neil began to show up on birthday’s, Valentines day and occasionally after a few to many beers. Eventually an intervention had to occur and after many years of postponing the inevitable, the baby blue suit and shoes had to go back to its rightful owner.
Halloween 2010 – Didn’t go out instead went to Vietnam a little Neil Diamond was hummed on the plane but no baby blue suite.  Progress.  
Halloween 2011 - Mike announced that he had come up with a new costume idea that wouldn’t result in him telling me how “on the third of June how he had become a man”,
Needless to say I was more then happy for him to go shopping for his new costume in fact so happy that I didn’t even bother to put to much time prying into what the surprised costume would be.  Didn’t care MIKE WAS OVER NEIL DIAMOND.
$40 dollars and 3 hours later Mike came home with this

A giant henna tattoo of a skull.
The conversation and scene went like this:
Mike – (walks through the door while I’m in the bedroom giggling like a 6-year pre adolescent child).
Risha - (In the bedroom)Why are you laughing like a pre adolescent child? Which makes me think that you have done something that I’m going to find irritating.
Mike – Don’t worry its fine hunny
Risha - (now walking out of the bedroom)  Why is one of your sleeves rolled ……. (pause) seriously.
Mike – And check out this awesome belt buckle and hat (followed by adolescent giggling)
Risha – Seriously
Mike – I’m going to go sit by the pool and show off my awesome tat.
Risha – How long is it going to last
Mike – 3 weeks
Risha – Awesome.

So when you can’t beat them sometimes you just have to join them and so the transformation of John and Iris.......

Note: Other then with our expat friends, these outfits were 100% lost in translation.
Oh and if you don’t know who John and Iris are have a listen.

 And for fun, a couple of photos of our other other friends. 

I watched this man win a push up contest that evening...
Yes he did wear this to the bar

Bringing back the 90's

Sunday, October 30, 2011

September Shake-Up

18 months.

This is how long we have now lived in Singapore.  It’s hard to believe how quickly time flies. If we had stuck to our original plan we would have been back in Vancouver now, but, as they often do, our plan has changed and it  now looks like we will be in Asia now for an indefinite amount of time – i.e come visit.  
To back the train up a few meters – Mike decided to quit his job at KPMG and take an in-house transfer pricing position with RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) based again in Singapore. The change in jobs resulted in Mike having two-week period off in between and we decided to make a trip back to Canada as neither of us had been home in over a year.  
With plane tickets booked we soon found ourselves in a far more planned out itinerary then anything Mike and I have put together before with stop overs occurring in Vancouver, Victoria, Kamloops, Kelowna and Castlegar.
Reconnections were made with old friends (including with many of the ladies), birthdays were celebrated, weddings were attended, overindulgences with food and drink occurred on more than several occasions and finally and unfortunately a funeral was thrown into the mix.
Below a brief look at the events that transpired,
Mike's Birthday BBQ

Our ridiculously cute niece  
Mike and Teaghan out for a stroll
Playing dress-up
A diva in the making
Morgen and Carter came over for a visit.
Brad & Sarah's Wedding
The boy's hanging out before the wedding

Stacy and Kev
Mom & Dad before the wedding
Brad and Sarah
 Wedding Reception
Good to the last drop!
Dusty re-living his youth.
Overall the trip was fantastic and we thank you to all who made that possible. For those we didn’t have the opportunity to catch up with we apologize but will most likely be out sooner than later in 2012.
Finally I end this post with a note to my friend Jessica who the universe had other plans for that unfortunately didn’t involve her being with us anymore.
Jess – While I’m sad we are not going to get to play and go on any more adventures for a while, I thank you for all the fantastic girls weekends, memories, laughs and insight. While I have no doubt in my mind that you shaking your head and laughing at us from above as we try to figure out the “bigger picture”, I selfishly wish you were still here figuring it all out with us. Nevertheless I know there is no way you won’t be checking in from time to time and finding ways to organize us from time to time.

Jess and member of our Victoria family
Until our next chat and shot of fireball.