Sunday, July 23, 2017

Cayman Brac Dive day 1

We all made it safely to the island called Cayman Brac for the Dive Frendzee takeover! I have been delighted with everything since arriving! It is blissfully remote and I feel quite content to never leave the resort compound to venture anywhere else.  It is like we are at the end of the world in a wonderful day! 
The food...oh my the food! (I have officially turned in my Mom)!  It is all buffet but GOOD buffet!  Rolls, soups, multiple salads, cheese board, multiple hot side dishes, and then two or three entries, one always carved with a sauce.  Last night was ham. Oh, and dessert! 3 different choices last night: coconut flan, carrot cake, and chocolate walnut pie.
This place offers Valet style diving, so in the morning, we were to have our gear outside our door in bags they provide, and they pick everything Iup and take it over to the dive boats and they set everything up! Valet diving, Princess diving, whatever you want to call it.... I am loving it!
After that, it was time for breakfast. It did not disappoint!  We were all to the shop by 8:15 for our dive briefing. That wound up happening on the boat but that was ok.
I am on Little Sister. :-)
The first five, East Chute, I saw huge barrel sponges that are centuries old. They grow a quarter to an eighth of a inch per year, and these were way bigger than me. It was perhaps like the underwater equivalent to old growth forests.  I also saw a smallish turtle swimming in the deep.  This was my first dive with my new Zeagle Zena BCD and I am loving it!! It had made a huge difference in my diving!  I am still sorting out how much weight I need in order to stay down for my safety stop at the end.
Dive two was at a place called Charlie's Reef.  It was once home to a huge grouper lovingly named Charlie.  Later there was a large Eel, subsequently named Charlie.  Today we saw a huge grouper that is so tame, they allow us to pet them!  I typically never touch anything underwater but I obliged him because he was like a big puppy dog!  This dive also featured a fantastic bunch of coral formations towards the end and I had to pause a moment to remember to be thankful for life, for my opportunity to be there enjoying all I was seeing. 
Lunch was for me, green salad, roll, cheeses, flank steak with red wine sauce, mashed potatoes, and something similar to Baked Alaska. 
Dive 3 I was daring and went without my wetsuit.  The water really is quite warm so it is ok, but based on my sunburn, I will be covering up on the boat tomorrow!  This was a dive called Preachers, named for a preacher who bought a barge to transport things between islands.  This is where the remains of the barge can be found.  We started there, then swam around the reeds, saw a ray swimming through a channel, and urchin, a huge lobster, and the teeniest blennies you ever have seen! Also egg patches and Sargent majors guarding them.  One unique thing:'jumbles of feather durwtrts! They resemble flowers!
Post dive was pool time, then shower, wash hair, and wander to dinner.  Tonight was yet anther type of roll, a new soup, three salads (Green, potato, or egg), yummy Rosemary roasted potatoes, a few other things,and some beef with mushroom sauce.  Since life is short, I started with dessert: Ice cream cake!  Yummmmmm
Then, time hanging out upstairs above the pool bar/restaurant with old dive friends. 
Now time to sleep and do it all over again.
Note to self: reef safe, coral safe sunscreen?  Not so Janell safe! I am burned! 

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

30 day sugar challenge

Ok, my goal is to restrict myself to 6 tsp or 25 grams of sugar per day as recommended by health organizations who study these things.  I haven't tracked my eating for a while but a I am sure I am way over that! I watched a movie called Sugar Coated and it had inspired me, as well as all my friends giving up things for Lent.  Since I have a marathon on Sunday, I will not be able to be quite as strict on race day but will give this a whirl.
I started by going through my cupboards and was stunned by all the things that contained sugar!! My vitamins, calcium, taco seasoning... it feels like I am down to salt, pepper, oil, and dish soap!!
I need to research whether that 25 grams is added sugar, separate from the naturally occurring sugar in fruits, or it that is all forms of sugar. That would be much harder!!

Friday, February 03, 2017

Will get caught up

I've fallen behind because I was relying on Facebook but as I'm weaning myself off of that, I'll resume posting on here and work to update and catch up on my trip reports!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Hong Kong

This is a trip recap of my quick jaunt to Hong Kong in December 2016.
I wanted to go see a friend of mine who was living there temporarily, plus meet the people he had told me so much about.  Also, I've flown through there but never left the airport and it seemed time to check out this famous city. Another perk: it's highly recommended for solo female travelers - that's me!
Chocolate Chip Cookie preparation
Rule #1 - don't show up empty handed for someone's birthday!  I made Andy some Chocolate Chip cookies the night before and took them in my carry on so they'd be intact when they arrived.

Leaving my apartment 4AM
I flew from DC to JFK (New York) and on to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific.  I love that airline and because it was relatively empty, we were free to move about and sit wherever we liked.  I had an entire row to myself!  Perfect for stretching out, though admittedly I was too excited to sleep.
On board
Once I arrived and made it through customs, I found my friend Andy and he skillfully navigated through the airport to the Taxi line and got a taxi to my hotel out in New Territories.  I really liked the hotel and the location was super convenient to the subway line.  One bonus: the hotel like many others in Hong Kong has these loaner cell phones that function as a wifi hot spot as well as allow you unlimited free international calls to US, plus they have maps and all the things a traveler would need!

I was a bit rummy at this point but I gave Andy his presents and then we headed into the city, to Hong Kong Island, so I could meet my Hong Kong twin, Laura.  We had a nice dinner at a restaurant in the IFC tower and I got my first introduction to all the amazing buildings and lights of Hong Kong!  Oh wow, just being in the airport does not give you a taste of the city at all!  
Laura was just wonderful and I was so delighted to make a friend so quickly.  We had a number of things in common and hit it off right away.  It was a wonderful welcome to Hong Kong!
With Laura

I wanted to bring one home as a souvenir!  Sweet twin babies!
Sunday I went to church there and was able to meet several people, from all over Asia it seemed! It was very nice.  That was the day I got to meet the legendary Alvin!  He became Andy's instant friend and sidekick and I think we all fell in love with the little imp!  Sunday evening, I got to have dinner with Alvin and his brother and sweet parents.  I took the boys Seattle Seahawks t-shirts so they could be Seahawks fans just like Andy.

Two peas in a pod

Guess which one is Alvin?
Monday was the big walking day.  I wanted to see all the various markets.  Hong Kong is fascinating because they will have entire themed market streets, so first I went to the bird market, then I turned the corner onto the street which was lined with vendor after vendor selling flowers.  Across the way and around another corner, I encountered the goldfish market, with everything you might need to assemble and stock your home aquarium!
Ready to conquer Hong Kong

Ornate birdcages at the Yuen Po bird market


Enjoying the flower market. Imagine - christmas trees in Hong Kong!

My favorite: the stationery and pen stores!
 With all that walking in so-so shoes, it was necessary to make another pilgrimage: Reflexology!
One divine hour!

Originally my plan had been to have High Tea in the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel, but it was fully booked for a private event.  The second option of having it in a restaurant around the corner wasn't nearly as appealing, since I wasn't entirely going for the food, so I bought "tea for two to go" downstairs and headed out.

Andy had to come into down for something so we met up that evening for him to show me The Peak, the MUST SEE experience in Hong Kong.  Due to the time of year I visited, the visibility isn't the greatest, so we went up there for the dusk/evening view.  I got to ride the famous Star Ferry from Kowloon side to Hong Kong Island, getting oriented to all that, and for a moment it felt like I was in Seattle!

Hong Kong Island with classic boat

We took a bus to the Peak, which was an adventure itself!  It's so nice to have a "local" as a guide!
My trusty guide

Remember that Tea to Go I mentioned?  It made an appearance ... paired with Starbucks :-)

We didn't really plan to be twins in our Patagonia jackets! haha
So The Peak was incredible, the lights on the buildings in Hong Kong are unlike anything I've seen.  I'd say they definitely have an edge over the lights in Singapore.  It was really fun to be up there.  Hong Kong is small, yet big. Hard to explain it but I enjoyed it.

Tuesday: more walking, more sightseeing, and that evening, a special dinner with some cruise passengers who were coming through Hong Kong.  I got to meet even more people over a very authentic Chinese dinner.   For those of you who know me, I am a rather selective eater.  It was way beyond my comfort zone but I did my best to eat...something!
A simple card saying "Chicken" would have sufficed but oh no, they just stick the head on the platter

Kathy T

Confession: when I went home I ordered two kids burgers and fries from room service!

Goodnight Hong Kong, from my hotel window
One of the things on my To-Do list was to find some real Tai Chi action going on.  Well it took getting up really early and some adventures finding my way out of the massive TST subway station, but eventually, I found it!
TST waterfront Tai Chi
After that, I hopped the Star Ferry for Hong Kong Island and did some sightseeing there before finding my way to the famous Midlevel escalators.  They run downhill from 6AM-10AM to help people get to work, and then from 10AM until close, they run up up up up uphill!  Thank goodness! Hong Kong is a steep city!


The Connect Four building
Of course!
On the Midlevels
See how far down behind me they go?

After finishing up these adventures, I met Andy to go to the Twins' house for some time with more friends.  They were just too cute for words!

There were more market walks and scenes to enjoy and then the evening ended with special time at Laura's place with the other WA visitors.  
Red! Happy me

Ladies Market

So happy to have found my twin

Views from Laura's part of Hong Kong

Goodnight Hong Kong... until next time!

Sunday: 4.4 miles, 6 flights of stairs, 11,044 steps
Monday: 11.5 miles, 12 flights of stairs, 24681 steps
Tuesday: 7.7 miles, 16 flights of stairs, 20,630 steps
Wednesday: 7.3 miles, 12 flights of stairs, 18,503 steps