Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Quatchi meets Somklon

Today I had a special experience.

T came into my room, pulled away my mosquito net, yanked off my covers, and said “Quatchi, get out of bed - today you are in for a big surprise!”

T had rented a motor-scooter, and we were going to visit the countryside - off the beaten path from the resort town of Krabi.

After a few harrowing minutes of Tom driving on the wrong side of the road, we arrived at Somklon’s house. Somklon’s is a big, honkin’ Asian Elephant - and I WAS GOING TO RIDE HIM !!!

At first, I wasn’t that scared, but Somklon on the other hand had never seen a Sasquatch, and he wasn’t too sure about letting me on his back. T suggested to the guide that I let Somklon hold me in his long elephant trunk, just to get used to me. The nice man looked at T kind of funny, and said “Somklon eat Quatchi”. So we didn't do that.....
Meeting Somklon's buddies
Meeting Somklon's trainer

Introducing myself to Somklon

Whoa boy, watch that trunk!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bangkok Snapshots with Quatchi

Bangkok is full of wonderful, friendly people (except for that little kid that smacked me down yesterday.) Here's some shots T took while I was enjoying a tour of Bangkok with my new buddies Jane and Tyler.

Me and Jane

Taking the motorbike to the Sky Train station - this guy made me feel a tad uncomfortable, ....I don't know why?

Hopping on board the Sky Train for the shopping mall with two nice ladies

Meeting a nice lady at the golden Buddha market

Sitting in the Captains lap, taking a boat ride on the Chao Phraya River - to the Oriental Hotel

Tyler, me and Jane on the boat

The Oriental Hotel - famous for where Mr. Hemmingway used to hang out

Quatchi meets Jane

Today was a big day for Quatchi and T. Today was the day we got to meet Tyler’s beautiful girlfriend, Jane.

Boy, were we nervous! But maybe not as nervous as Jane, eh?

But from the moment we met, all three of us hit it off perfectly. Jane is everything Tyler described to us: Intelligent, confident, enthusiastic and very pretty. She speaks excellent English, likes extra-spicy food, rides a motor-scooter ‘side-saddle’ - and really, really loves ice cream.

Tom, Quatchi and Jane became good buddies immediately. Tyler, on the other hand – seemed very uncomfortable carrying a little Sasquatch around the busy streets of Bangkok. It almost seemed like he was embarrassed to be seen with me. It kind of hurt my feelings – but by the end of the day we were the best of buds as well. T-Dog and Q-Dog forever!

Jane and Tyler acted as Bangkok tour guides for the day, taking me and T on a full-on city tour. Riding scooters and trains and boats, visiting huge markets, historic hotels, eating very strange foods, cooling down in the huge air-conditioned shopping malls – and finishing off with a cold drink at Sky Bar – yes, the very same roof-top bar Josie H was refused entry due to her open-toed sandals.

All in a Days Work

Working from home with my two trusty assistants.

The Golden Palace

Quatchi decided to sleep in (again)....so Tom went with his good buddy Marot to the Golden Palace - in Bangkok.

What a wonderful place it was, and a photographer's dream. Check out The Grand Palace at http://www.palaces.thai.net/ for more info.

Marot was a fantastic host, patiently waiting while Tom took snapshots of anything golden, which was pretty well all of the 218,000 square meters of the Golden Palace!

Perhaps the highlight of the tour was stepping inside the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha, and catching a glimpse of The Emerald Buddha itself. The Emerald Buddha has three outfits, a summer outfit, a rainy season outfit, and a winter outfit (just like Mika) - but his outfits are personally changed three times a year by His Majesty the King. Of course, no photos were allowed, but if you step outside the door, and use a long lense (with a steady hand) you get a pretty good shot. (below)

Another must-see section of The Golden Palace were the Grand Galleries - the walls of which are decorated with beautiful scenes from the Ramakien. If you look really, really closely - you actually see some pretty 'naughty' things happening in the scenes. Tom could easily have spent a full two days just taking photos of the scenes. A few more of his shots will be posted to Mika's blog - on the right hand side.

After spending a very hot and sunny afternoon at The Golden Palace, Marot took me to meet her lovely Mom, and we all had a delicious Chinese lunch together. It was a great day - Quatchi should have been there, but he was still a little shook up from the beating he took at the hands of that two year old Bangkok Bully.

Thanks Marot, for a wonderful day!

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Quatchi and the Bangkok Bully

I woke up today feeling quite refreshed after my long sleep, and looking forward to exploring this beautiful city of Bangkok.

My buddy Tyler and I went for a walk, and before long we found ourselves in a part of town that neither of us were quite familiar with.

And then, almost out of nowhere comes this little toddler....straight towards me. Tyler suggested I politely back away, and perhaps cross the street so as to avoid any trouble. But, being the Canadian Goodwill Ambassador I am, I said, "No, no...let's meet this little guy, he looks harmless enough."

.....and then, with a lightening-like Muay Thai move, he grabs hold of me!

Before I knew it, I was being swung around by a kid twice my size.....

....and then Whammo! He throws me face first onto the sidewalk! And meanwhile, his Dad is watching the whole thing and thinking it's a big joke!

Luckily, Tyler was nearby and witnessed the attack. In a flash - and just before the little guy was fixin' to stomp on me - Tyler snatches me up and out of danger, and puts me on his broad shoulders.

Here's hoping tomorrow is a better day.....

Quatchi Has Arrived in Bangkok

After catching a connecting flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok - we've finally arrived in Thailand.

Of course, T prefers to call this huge city by it's Thai name - Krung-thep-maha-nakorn-boworn-ratana-kosin-mahintar- ayudhya-amaha-dilok-pop-nopa-ratana-rajthani-burirom-udom-rajniwes-mahasat-arn-amorn-pimarn- avatar-satit- sakattiya-visanukam.

I'll just call it Bangkok.

The very first thing I did was unpack all the goodies I brought over for Tom and Mika's son, Tyler. This care package consisted of many bags of Sour Patch Kids candies, and a whole bunch of bean dip. (I must admit, I kept one of the bags of candy for myself.....)

After un-packing, I was quite jet-lagged, so I let T go out for a beer with his son, while I hit the sack.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Quatchi flies to Bangkok

Wow...what a great start to the journey!

My travelling buddy, Tom (who I will in all future posts refer to as T) asked the nice Air Canada hostess if I could sit in the bulkhead seat, near the window, of this humongous aeroplane.

The view was wonderful! We flew over Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii, Alaska, Kamchatka, Japan (saw Mt. Fuji), Taiwan - before finally landing in Hong Kong 14 hours later.

We had bright sunshine the whole trip, and T was glued to the window watching the landscape glide by....

The problem was, the other 387 passengers on the plane all wanted to watch the in-flight movie, and every one of them was screaming in Chinese to 'shut the window' so they could see the front screen.

T smiled and calmly explained to me that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to fly over the Pacific Ocean to the Far East, and besides, the other passengers could watch Mission Impossible II any other time.

This made perfect sense to me - so for the entire trip to Hong Kong, T and I had our noses pressed to the window.

The other really cool thing was, every toddler on board the airplane had to make a point of visiting me in my seat, and petting me. This was really, really cute. For the first hour or so.....
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Sleepy Maggie

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Strange Days

Life at our house is always a little strange, but lately it feels like we’re living a Fellini movie. I’m at the point where it really wouldn’t surprise me to come home and find Tex, Maggie and Tom on the beach - hanging out with a crying clown and playing with a big red ball.

Tomorrow, Tom leaves for Thailand, where he plans to hang out with our son Tyler before joining me in Beijing. On the surface this seems like a great plan – it’s just the getting there that's proving to be a challenge.

Part of the problem is Tom’s going on much deserved holiday, and I’m going to work. The weeks leading up to Beijing are uber stressful for me, as my success in China is dependent on my ability to deliver several major projects in the next week. I’m quite confident that I’ll be able to meet all of my targets, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m feeling the pressure.

Tom on the other hand is in Total Holiday Mode - which trust me folks, can be just a little scary. At some point he came up with the brilliant idea of taking “Quatchi”, one of our stuffed 2010 Olympic mascots with him to Asia. The idea being he can take cool photo’s of Quatchi during his trip and post them on my blog, with cute little anecdotes from the road. Think Jack Kerouac - without the poodle or the drugs - and you get the general idea.

The tricky part is, while I want to be a supportive wife, I’m just not sure how many more conversation’s I can have about a stuffed mascot.
The questions go something like this: "Mika, should I take Quatchi in my carry on?" “Do you think it would be difficult to get Quatchi on an elephant? " "Please don’t forget to book a driver to take us to the Great Wall, as it’s really an integral part of Quatchi’s trip, and come to think of it, maybe I should take Miga - as it would really add to the story line - like, Quatchi meets Miga in the Forbidden City?”
"Which side of Quatchi photographs better? - his left or right?" And on, and on it goes.
Not to mention that Tex 'n Maggie are having a very difficult time trying to understand why Daddy is constantly talking to a chew toy.

The good news is, I don’t leave for Beijing for another week, which means our house once again becomes a Quatchi free zone. Free at last, free at last - thank God almighty, we are free at last!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Extreme Blending

Our morning started off with a bang, literally. Who knew making a smoothie could be so dangerous? Unfortunately the pugs also happened to be in the danger zone - let's just say they were two very unhappy campers.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Q & A

I’d like to take a moment to answer the top 8 questions people ask me regarding my blog:

Does Tom get upset about some of the things you write about him?

Fortunately, Tom is a great sport, which is a good thing as he’s the source of my best material. The truth is - I’m a little boring – my idea of living on the edge is ordering French toast instead of pancakes. Tom on the other hand is larger than life. He’s eccentric in the best possible way and fills a room with his presence. Tyler is also a big personality, but unfortunately he starts every conversation with “do not blog about this Mom”.

Do you ever exaggerate? For example, is Tom really a hypochondriac?

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit there are times when a little creative license is called for. This usually consists of changing dates, locations and names in an effort to protect the innocent. For the most part this really is my crazy life, and yes Tom really is a germaphobe / hypochondriac. Even though Tom and I are opposites, we seem to balance each other. Let’s put it this way – Tyler, Tex, Maggie and I are the only thing between Tom and a hazmat suit – and without Tom I’d probably be living on a commune with 10 dogs.

How are Tex and Maggie doing?

The good news - Tex’s back continues to improve – he’s no longer dragging his leg and seems to have that old bounce back in his step.
The bad news - Maggie has had two more tumours removed since my last post - both of which were malignant. The Doctor feels confident that he got everything, but we’re still very worried about her. As a result we're all fawning over her 24 – 7, which quite frankly is making her just a little cranky.
Next week I am taking both Tex and Maggie to a specialist in naturopathy, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture as we want to make sure we’re doing everything possible to ensure their good health.

Do you really have to blog about politics and religion? Why not keep it on the lighter side?

There is an old southern saying that one should never discuss politics, religion or sex in polite company. While I agree to a certain point, it is important to note that my primary motivation for writing this blog is Tyler. I really want to know Tyler, instead of making him into who I want or need him to be. Which means that I also have to be really honest about who I am, warts and all.

Who is Tyra?

Tyra is my younger cousin / kid sister – growing up she was Skipper to my Barbie. I am very grateful that this blog has allowed us to reconnect. Anyone who has read my blog will know that she is passionate and conservative. She is also beautiful, funny and the mother of three young boys. I personally think her comments have added a great deal to the mix, as it’s good for me and my homies to hear another point of view.

What about some of the things you blog about? Have you reduced your carbon footprint by not shopping, limited yourself to 5 pairs of shoes, and are you dealing with your diet coke addiction?

This one is dedicated to all of the smart asses in my life. The downside of having a blog is putting things in writing, there's always someone around to remind you that you've gone off the wagon. And don't even ask about what happens when one mistakenly sips and blogs. While I haven't quite been able to kick the shoe habit, I am down to one coke a day (we won't mention a lost week in Pittsburgh when my buddy Steve and I went on a bender).

How is the snoring thing going?

The good news is I've been on a health kick and have lost about 15 pounds - which seems to have ended my career as a closet snorer. Ironically Tom seems to have picked up the slack and is snoring more than ever. After all the hell he gave me, constantly waking me up to point out that I sounded like a big honking lumber jack, it seems to be poetic justice.

Who takes all of the beautiful photo's?

Eighty percent of the images are Tom's, while I take the other 20% or find them off the Internet. In other words, all of the good shots are his - all of the blurry images were everyone looks like a red eyed demon are mine. Tom just bought a new camera, a Nikon D300, which means you can look forward to a whole new era of photo's. It also means that I have inherited his old camera, so you'll still be subjected to my wonky view of the world - like the shot of Tex (below).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Express Yourself

Pepto-Bismol $3.99

The expression on your pugs face after taking a dose - Priceless

Be Afraid, Very Afraid

Today was a twilight zone day, so much so that I’m still feeling a little freaked out by the whole thing. It wasn’t that anything bad happened, on the contrary, everyone I came into contact with was really nice……like really, really nice…….as in Scary nice.

We're talking in terms of “god you’re great – we should really do lunch - have your people call my people – I love you man - did I mention that you, you complete me?”

Even when I went to the bank the teller decided that I was paying way too much interest on my credit card - and took it upon himself to negotiate a much better rate on my behalf. After which he decided to wave all of my banking fees for the next year. Honest! All of this was unprompted I might add.

After awhile I began to wonder if it was a setup, and I started looking over my shoulder for the guys from Candid Camera. To be honest I’m still not a hundred percent sure what happened. Let’s just say I’m afraid to answer the door, in case it's that dude from Publisher’s Clearing House.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

An Apple a Day

My friend recently called to share a scary but funny story. It seems her family had to cut their weekend trip to Whistler short, rushing back to Vancouver so she could take her husband to the emergency room. Apparently he was in terrible pain, convinced he was at deaths door. The good news - he was only constipated, the bad news - he still insists that the Doctor must be wrong.

To be honest this story makes me feel much better about life, thank god it’s not just our family who deals with this little quirk. You see Tom doesn’t have headaches, he has potential strokes. While other families share news about their day, we have what Tyler likes to refer to as the “cancer of the week”.

After Tom has a luncheon date, it isn’t unusual for a well meaning friend to call our house suggesting a good neurosurgeon. Call me jaded, but I just smile and assure them that Tom is on the mend.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Good Life

I’ve just returned from Quebec City, a very charming city celebrating its 400th birthday. It was a magical week; those French Canadians sure know how to throw a party.

Every time I go to either France or Quebec, I am impressed with the locals and envy their joie de vie. There are so many things I dig about their culture. The fact that every meal is a cause for celebration, couples of all ages seem to be making out in public, a place where even a sex kitten like Carla Bruni can end up as First Lady. To be honest, we seem like a loaf of wonder bread in comparison.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Summer Picks

Here are a few things I’m digging this summer:

Movie – Sex and the City
A fun summer movie. One word of advice, leave your hubby at home and invite all of the woman and gay men in your life.

Video - Lars and the Girl
A lovely little movie that manages to be sweet, poignant, sad and funny.

Book – What Happened
An inside look at the Bush administration from his PR man Scott McClellan. Leaves you scratching your head and thinking in terms of war crimes.

Song – Dolly Parton’s rendition of Stairway to Heaven
What can I say, it’s almost as good as Pat Boones take on this popular song.

Album – Coldplay’s Viva La Vida
Great music and yummy front man.

Reruns – Northern Exposure
Recently ordered the complete set, looking forward to spending the summer watching one of my all time favorite TV shows.

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh. Even though I enjoyed his take on pop culture, it was his bag period which I found most interesting.

I could relate, as in the late 80’s Tom also went through a bag (big ass glasses) period. While I wasn’t crazy about them, I didn’t really have the heart to tell him that maybe it was time for a makeover.

Fortunately Tyler provided Tom with the much needed motivation to make a change. It happened at a dinner party we were hosting, in hindsight Tyler would have only been around 4 years old. It was a fun evening with much laughter and good conversation - at one point the room became silent – you couldn’t help but notice that Tyler was staring intently at Tom. At which point baby boy announced “whoa daddy, your glasses are almost bigger than your face.”

The next day Tom went shopping.