26 September 2010

Maldives - George's Photos and Videos

George has posted his Maldives photos here and created a YouTube channel here. Enjoy!

House Photos

A while back, I mentioned here that we had several house projects planned for the summer. The summer has come and gone, our projects have been completed, and it's time to show you the changes (improvements, hopefully).

We had new gutters, windows, doors, and insulation installed; we painted the new window trim and entryway. Over the summer, we began experiencing a more consistent temperature in the house, carefully tracked by George on his wireless indoor and outdoor monitors. As winter approaches, I'm hopeful that we'll continue to feel the energy savings both on our skin and in our pockets.

Instead of simply showing the recent changes, I put together an album (here) chronicling our house projects to date. Enjoy.

25 September 2010

Final David Update

I am very pleased to share the news that my stepfather, David, has been released from his doctor's care. According to my mom, it was 98 days from his initial admission to the hospital to his release on Friday. Though the whole process has been uncomfortable and inconvenient, it is a blessing that his original gallbladder issue revealed a pre-cancerous mass in his pancreas. If the mass had not been identified and fully removed, his doctors say that he would have eventually faced a very, very serious form of cancer. There have been ups and downs and more than a few complications over these past few months, but I am so pleased that David is now healthy, cancer-free, and able to go about his life.


Where: Soneva Fushi, Aggressor Liveaboard, and Soneva Gili in the Maldives
When: September 8-12, 12-19, and 19, 2010
Why: Proper honeymoon and post-bar exam trip

On Tuesday, September 7th, we flew to Male, Maldives via Singapore for the main part of our trip. We landed quite late in the evening and stayed at an airport hotel. On Wednesday morning, we woke up to absolute beauty - even at the hotel airport.

As soon as we were ready, we went back to the international airport where we were transported to the float plane airport and Soneva's lounge. After an hour or so wait, we were on a float plane bound for Soneva Fushi. The flight was one of the most memorable parts of the trip because we had a bird's eye view of paradise. The colors were more vivid than I have ever seen in my life, and maybe even more rich than I could have imagined. Sure, the islands are gorgeous, but I thought the color variations in the water around the numerous reefs were even more stunning. It was also amusing to be in a plane with a barefoot pilot and no cockpit door.

We had a fantastic time at the resort once we arrived. Every detail was considered in advance, and it was nearly effortless to forget about reality in such beautiful surroundings. We did a fair bit of reading, sunbathing, wandering around the island, snorkeling, and patronizing the over-water bar. The food was absolutely spectacular: fresh, complex, varied, well-prepared, and in perfect proportion. I loved that we had an espresso machine in our room because it allowed us to have morning and after coffee without going the least bit out of the way. Most people we ran into at Soneva Fushi said that it was not their first time, and I can definitely see why someone would want to return there.

After about 5 days at the resort, it was time to fly back to Male and pick up the Maldives Aggressor for a week of non-stop diving. You can read the crew's log of our trip here. While aboard the Aggressor, we did three to four dives a day and saw some incredible wildlife. We saw, snorkeled with, and dove with whale sharks, but I actually thought the manta rays were more impressive. It was really very special to be hovering just a few feet below a cluster of magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. We also saw more moray eels that I'd seen in my entire life combined. There was one particular night dive where we saw probably 20 moray eels out hunting - amazing. Of course, we also saw hawksbill turtles, green turtles, and more fish than I can even begin to describe. It really was a diver's paradise.

In addition to the diving, we made new friends aboard the Aggressor, meeting people from all over the world who have had some really interesting life and dive experiences. In this day and age of social media, I'm hopeful that we'll be able to stay in touch with many of them.

One of the most memorable parts of the Aggressor week was our visit to an island. About halfway through the week, we pulled up to an island that appeared deserted. As sunset approached, several of us took one of the smaller boats to the island to have a walk around it. The sand was incredibly soft, and it was a spectacular sunset. We really enjoyed our hour or so lingering on the island, exploring, and enjoying each others' company. In hind sight, it was particularly special because that sunset was the last we saw of the sun in the Maldives as it rained the remaining days on the boat and our final day in country at Soneva Gili.

George and I really enjoyed ourselves in the Maldives, and I would not be surprised if we eventually make a return trip. For now, it remains a very special trip and one we won't soon be able to duplicate or supersede.

Photos of Soneva Fushi: here
Photos of the Aggressor: here
Photos of Soneva Gili: here

21 September 2010

Hong Kong

Where: Kowloon and Hong Kong
When: September 5-7, 2010
Why: We have to stop in Hong Kong anyway; why not look around for a few days?

On early Sunday morning, we landed in a very wet Hong Kong. Though we were exhausted from 16+ hours of traveling, we knew we needed to make the most of our short time in the city...so we took a power nap, rallied, and went out to explore. Thankfully, we never had a drop of rain in Hong Kong except for when we arrived and when we were in the taxi to the airport for our departure.

First, we went to fancy dim sum, and, then, we followed the Lonely Planet tour of markets in Kowloon. The streets were packed with both people and vehicles, but we had a great time wandering through the bird, flower, pet, fish, and clothing markets nonetheless. George said that he felt less claustrophobic than usual in the crowd because he could see over most heads. By the end of the afternoon, our jet lag and adventures left us without energy to find dinner, so we took advantage of room service and an excellent view of the Hong Kong skyline and its light show.

On Monday, we took the Star Ferry from Kowloon to downtown Hong Kong. It was a bit rickety, but there were only a handful of people on the boat, and we had a great view as we approached the city. It was seriously hot downtown that day; I think I asked for the water bottle every half block. We loosely followed the Lonely Planet tour of downtown buildings. We enjoyed the view from the 43rd floor of the Bank of China Tower and the architecture of the HSBC Building. Our stop for lunch was a highlight as well. We had authentic dim sum, complete with ladies pushing carts full of goodies that we picked or refused by look without knowing what was in most things. It was my first real dim sum experience, and now I'm motivated to find dim sum in Seattle. I could have made a meal out of BBQ pork buns and dumplings.

We cut our day a bit short to have plenty of time to clean up before dinner. We had a reservation for T'ang Court, which has two Michelin stars. We both love food, and neither of us had been to a restaurant rated with any Michelin stars prior to our visit, so it was quite a treat. The service and food were incredible! I will never forget it because I had real wasabi for the first time, which resulted in me sputtering, coughing, and generally experiencing a complete head fire for a few minutes.

George and I both thoroughly enjoyed Hong Kong. I'd say that the overwhelming heat and humidity were the only things that really made us uncomfortable. It was extremely easy to get around because of the ferry network, system of underground tunnels, and subway. Due to its British past, Hong Kong definitely feels a bit like the UK with driving on the left side of the road, lots of double-decker buses, and British English widely spoken. Our hotel was located in the shopping district of Kowloon, so it felt like there were extremely high end stores everywhere - not exactly what I expected of Hong Kong.

On Tuesday morning, we had a breakfast buffet before setting off for the rest of our trip. We both agreed that we'd like to return to Hong Kong whenever the opportunity presents itself.

For photos of our Hong Kong adventure, visit Picasa.

20 September 2010

Oh, heaven is a place on earth...

...called the Maldives.

We've just (about 3 hours ago) returned from a wonderful trip to Hong Kong and the Maldives. I'm hoping to get most of the photos sorted and posted tomorrow. In the mean time, I'll leave you with these photos:

(Pet) Fish Market in Hong Kong

Sunset from Soneva Fushi, Maldives

Passing Scene from the Maldives Aggressor

01 September 2010

August Summary

August was a bit of a blur. I think it went something like this:

We started the month in Idaho, celebrating Aaron and Misha's big day.

Then, I spent the next two weeks working around the house, painting
window trim, spring cleaning, and generally getting our house in tip top shape. George was an absolute trooper; each night, he would come home from work and lend a hand until it was time to crash. (I'll post proof of our progress on Picasa soon.)

Oh yeah, I had a birthday, including a Natalie Merchant concert, a haircut, lunch with a few friends, a sunset sail on Puget Sound with George and some other friends, and a nasty reaction to the oral typhoid vaccine.

Then, we celebrated John and Sally's big day and got to hang out with, not only the bride and groom and a whole bunch of our diving friends, but also some of our wedding vendors, including Aaron and Meg.

The next day, George's cousin, Emily, and her fiance, David, arrived from New Zealand. We had a great time showing them around the city and catching up on family news.

The next weekend, we went to San Francisco to hang out with Emily and David some more and show them around the big G's main campus.

The next week, I started doing contract work for the immigration law firm where I worked my last year of law school. George and I have spent the last two weeks enjoying our return to being two working adults. It had been a while.

The month ended with a Crowded House concert at our local winery last Saturday.