Sunday, December 31, 2006

Festive Activities

Monday 25th December – Christmas Day
The present’s one receives can tell what other thinks of you… this year I spent Christmas Day at my grandparents along with all my aunts and uncles from my dad’s side of the family including all my cousins. So save the trouble of us all trying to sit down to a have our meal together, we had a sort of hot pot were people just came and went whilst they are gambling! LOL

The men in the family were either playing cards or mah-jong all day and the women all sort of congregated near the kitchen, dining or living room – I of course sat right next to the food ;-)

The eating session lasted all night but after 3 hours and a small sip of champagne I made my exit towards all the little kids to help them open their presents! I have this little cousin, Sylvia who is only 7 and she looks so cute in her skirt, t-shirt and spy gadget belt! Yep, she looks so girly but is a real tomboy at heart! I must say, the spy gadgets really do work – there was an infra red pen which she used on to pass on secret messages and the hearing aide receiver was brilliant… I am thinking of getting myself one of those belts now! Hahaha

The younger kids all enjoyed the wrapping paper more than the presents we got them! By this time the men was quite hungry but refused to move from the card game so as soon as Trees brought out the Krispy Kreme (which I brought from London) to them and they devoured it! We didn’t expect them to eat any as they are not known for their sweet tooth

Ok, now for the presents we got for each other (Kim, Ping, Lin, Trees and me – remember we only had a £10 budget for each person) – we stood in a circle in the kitchen, as that was the only room vacant at the time.

First we opened the presents we got from Kim:
Trees – a Yorkie chocolate bar, horoscope book, a little purse and an exercise ball
Me – a marshmallow shaped like a hotdog, a ‘Little Book of Geeks’ (I loved that by the way – it was very fitting), a pack full of PC games along with a toy car full of sweets
Lin – another marshmallow hotdog, chocolates, a ‘Grow Your Own Credit Card’ kit and a scarf
Ping – constipation pills (!), hand cream, a tin of sweets which you can use as a money bank afterwards and a box of 3 photo albums

Second we opened Ping’s:
Kim – hanging mobile and hanging candle
Trees – loads of sweets and kitchen utensils
Me – a pair of mittens and a book entitled ‘Ugly’ (!)
Lin – a clutch bag, and candle holder

Thirdly Tree’s:
Ping – Russian dolls
Kim – hanging mobile
Me – a tea light spinning lantern
Lin – a decorated glass ball hanging from a glass rack

Fourthly Lin’s:
Trees – a clutch bag and a box of Ferrero Roche
Me – an Aveda travel bag full of shampoo and conditioner and a pair of earrings
Ping – a pair of earrings and lacy thong
Kim – scarf and a big mug and saucer

At last it was my turn:
Lin – I made a personalised apron with ‘Donut Princess Lin’ and the recipe of Krispy Kreme donuts on it
Ping – an embossed passport cover with her initials
Kim – I made her a calendar of a Chinese artist, Ron Ng and a small iron for her to take on holiday as she always complain about her clothes being wrinkly
Trees – a desktop calendar with new insults for everyday of the year

So to summarise, the girls sees me as a geek who likes PC games, sweets, girly if the earring, mittens and tea light ornaments are anything to go by… I was reassured that the title of that other book was not ‘personal’! Hahaha

That was Christmas Day! Phew!

Tuesday 26th December – Boxing Day aka St Stephen’s Day
A quick ‘geeky’ fact: Boxing Day originated in the mid-nineteenth century under Queen Victoria – the upper classes would give money/gifts to lower classes in boxes, the day after Christmas to thank them for smooth running of things, and the churches would also open their alms boxes to the poor on that day too.

Ok, my Boxing Day was relatively quite as we didn’t get out of bed until noon, had a long lunch and slowly cooked the turkey to be taken over to Lin’s place where we were planning to have our full turkey and all the trimming dinner!

But before that, a few of the guys (Lee and Pings’ boyfriend, Stephen tag teamed, Trees’ fiancé, Duong and uncle Sung) entertained my granddad on the mah-jong table.

Lin was already cooking up a storm when we got to her place and the sight/smell of food was putting me off… well until it was all laid out in front of me that is! Ate everything on my plate and had room to have two servings of cake and custard! LOL

Saturday 30th December
The Royal Academy of Arts is showing some of Rodin's work up until the 1st January and I have wanted to go ever since it opened back in September – well as today was my only free day off since coming back from visiting family, I took myself up town and braved the threat of wind and rain to attend the exhibition.

I thought I was very well prepared with my printed map from the Transport of London website… it took me onto a major detour through Regent Street and onto Old Bond Street when I could have just gone through Piccadilly! I came across the Royal Academy of Arts’ Garden venue which was closed – I went up the ramp to the disabled entrance and to save me from coming down to wave down a member of staff, I waved down a passer-by instead (I felt like Repunzel… if only I had long hair!) to help me attract the attention of the staff… well the Garden venue was closed so I had to go right round the Burlington Arcade to get to the open part of the Academy! So glad the rain hadn’t arrived yet or I would have gone shopping instead! Hehehe

At the entrance of the Academy was Rodin's Gates of Hell’. The ‘Gates’ is full of figures Rodin have put together from many smaller pieces of work he have made over the years – there of course is ‘The Thinker’ sitting on top of the doors, ‘Shades’, ‘Fugit Amor’, ‘Damned Women’ etc but I must say, the piece most intrigued me on the ‘Gates’ (besides from ‘The Thinker’) was ‘Ugolino’ – he was locked in a cell along with his children and nephew, and he was so hungry that he ate his children. Rodin had sculptured ‘Ugolino’ crouching over a child with his mouth open, ready to devour him…

The Kiss’ represented the tragic story of Paolo and Francesca, it was initially going to be in the ‘Gates’ but Rodin decided against it in the end – the piece have become a symbol of erotic art ever since. Some of the pieces are so life like that I just sat there staring, willing it to come to life… Many years ago, I was in Florence and saw Michelangelo’sDavid’ but was too young to appreciate the amount of effect had gone into the piece, but today I can see that Rodin had taken inspiration from past masters, and as I was using the audio guide I had professional explaining to me some of the key facts/ideas with some of the pieces which I would not have known if I had only went around looking and reading the short inscription of the pieces.

Its New Years Eve tomorrow (today) and I will be spending it all alone… my Mum and Sally went to Hong Kong today and will not be back until the end of January, my Dad is most likely busy, Trees and Duong will have their own party and not sure about Lee… I guess it’s another night spent in front of the TV :-(

I hope everyone have a safe and enjoyable New Year Eve, see you all in the New Year!

Helen X

Saturday, December 23, 2006

#I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas...#

Hello folks! Its Christmas again and yet again I am all tired out from all those present buying – this year I had the added mission to buy personalised presents for Kim, Ping, Lin and Trees which can not exceed our set budget of £10 each! I soon found out that it’s not as easy as it sounds... well, I have managed to accomplish this task by making some of the presents myself! I will disclose what I got them, after I get back from visiting my family in Leicester.

Now for an emotional time... I attended my younger sister, Sally’s Christmas Concert on the 14th, held in a local church and was overcome with tears when Sally got up and did her solo for ‘Winter Wonderland’! She told me she had a solo but as the concert was almost over and her solo had not risen, I assumed that she got cut from the performance... I am biased but I truly think she was fantastic – she was confident, clear and truly belonged up there singing in front of a church full of people! I was quite surprised that I had tears in my eyes and a silly grin on my face throughout the whole song! I didn’t have my camera on me but the school had reassured us that they will publish photos and clips on their website... I have been checking up daily but no luck yet.

No Christmas is complete without a bit of Panto – this year I went to see ‘Dick Whittington’ ( at the Barbican. Two years ago I saw ‘Aladdin’ at the Old Vic starring Sir Ian McKellen as Widow Twanky and this year, Sir McKellen was sitting in the audience of Whittington. Roger Lloyd Pack who played Sarah the Cook, joking said during the closing credit: ‘If you enjoyed the show, tell your friends, but if you didn’t, then I am Sir Ian McKellen and this is the Old Vic’! LOL

Yesterday I was ‘suppose’ to have met up with Shirin and Hiro to exchange our Christmas presents, but there was a breakdown in communication and I only managed to meet up Hiro. We visited ‘Ten Ten Tei’ which satisfied my sushi cravings for the moment... we had just stepped out of the restaurant and thought about getting a coffee when I bumped into my old friend, Abu who I haven’t seen in years! It was quite strange as I was only telling Hiro, that I was invited up to Nottingham to see another old friend of mine, Isabella who was holding a charity/Christmas party over the last weekend but I was too busy to attend but Abu had, when the next thing I know I bump into him! Very spooky ;) Abu is now an architect (he also attended Greenwich University which I never knew!), and his friend, Yoshi is a professional cake decorator – the cheeky guy said he will put me on the waiting list for my sister, Trees wedding cake!

That’s it for now folks, need to start thinking about what to pack for my stay in Leicester and hopefully I will get a lie in tomorrow before over indulging myself at my grandparents ;)

Have a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year folks!

Helen X

Monday, December 11, 2006

My Great Egypt Experience/Adventure and Ping's pre-birthday dinner!

Got home really late last night (and only managed to write up my Santa race entry) from a very enjoyable dinner at Big Easy in Chelsea for my darling aunt, Ping’s pre-birthday celebration as she will be away to Frankfurt on her actual birthday next week.

Service was very slow as the restaurant was so busy – whilst we waited for our food, we got Ping’s boyfriend, Steven to pick us up some take away from China town for our car ride home! LOL

Anyway, managed to get a copy of all our photos and holiday clips from Egypt so here is the long awaited blog entries from my week away...

Monday 27th November
The holiday started very early in the morning with a 9am flight from East Midlands Airport to Sharm El Sheikh. The flight was nearly 6 hours and Egypt being 2 hours ahead, we arrived around 5ish Egyptian time.

Was very hungry and tired when we landed... and then we found out we had a 7 hour coach ride to Cairo at 1am! We had just enough time to check into our hotel and pack some clothes and essentials for our 2 day stay in Cairo before venturing out to find a place to have dinner! Oh but before that, we encountered a curious fat kitty... we saw the kitty outside, besides the pool and when we got to our room the kitty followed us in!

We ate alfresco facing the Red Sea before walking to Naama Bay shopping district where we tried out their bubble pipe smoke, shisha. We even managed to do a quick souvenir shopping at a stall before they had a power outage! But just before that, we were gullibly taken in by the vendor that the white milky substance he was using to seal in the sand display he was making, was chicken milk... the 4 of us spent ages debating if chicken could produce milk or not – the vendor even said Egyptian chicken is different to the chickens we were used to! Ok, it sounds stupid to you now but in our defence we were all very tired...! Anyway, the vendor finally disclosed that the white substance was in fact glue! LOL

After we all made our way back to our hotel to wait for our coach ride. On the way back, we walked along the main road – we couldn’t understand why all these taxis were beeping at us but later found out this were their way of notifying people that they are available for hire.

Ok, back to our coach ride – the coach were suppose to come pick us up around 1am but by 1:30am we got a call saying the coach had come and left after waiting for 15 minutes! The coach had gone to the Marriot Beach Resort across the road instead of the Marriot Mountain which we were staying at! So the 4 of us had to tow our back packs (Kim and Liz couldn’t be bothered to unpack with the excuse that they didn’t have a back pack, so they just towed their suit case along) and catch our own cab to meet the coach at the pick up point! The taxi driver couldn’t understand us and had to stop off to ask his friend where we wanted to go! The fun didn’t stop there... the taxi driver then proceeded along the way into an almost deserted highway, the girls got a bit worried, whereas I just kept thinking if the driver tried anything funny, we would have been able to take him on! LOL

Managed to meet up with all the other travellers going to Cairo at the pick up point and fell to sleep uncomfortably. The Scot, Jason who sat in front of us was very nice and even gave Lin an extra pillow which she hugged like a teddy bear?!

Tuesday 28th November
Arrived in Cairo thinking we would have time to go to our hotel and freshen up and maybe have something to eat... wrong! We all got dropped off at the Egyptian Museum where we were then all divided into our tour groups! This is where we first met our private tour guide, Anz who would become our personal Manny (or Scivvy according to Kim!)!

Anz guided us through the museum giving us detailed facts, explanations and opinions of well known pieces in the museum. I was surprised that the real Rosetta Stone is in the British Museum and not in Egypt. I only visited the British Museum earlier on this year and only rolled past the Egyptian display on my way to the Photography Exhibition – I will definitely make a trip to the museum again with my new found interest in Egyptian artefact.

The tour in the museum took about 2 hours before lunch at the Hard Rock Café. Did I mention, as well as having our own tour guide we had our own vehicle and driver?!

After lunch we were driven to a papyrus paper making shop. We were given a brief history of papyrus paper and its significance and we were all allowed to make a wish on how long we want to live for on the papyrus plant – Kim was the greediest and wished for 400 years, Lin and Liz went for 100 each and I wished for an extra 200!

Then afterwards we made our way to Giza to see the Pyramids (Greek word meaning ‘piece of cake’) and Sphinx (derived from the name of a Greek Goddess), the only remaining 7 Wonders of the Ancient World! Anz told us it took 23 years to build as the builders only worked on it during the flood seasons which was approximately 4 months in the year. We had to be ushered along as some President was also in the vicinity viewing the Pyramids. There was so much I wanted to write about the Pyramids as Anz were so passionate and full of information – like how the only remaining Pyramid with its outer layer still remaining was built by Khafref, how advanced in astrology they were as the faces of the Pyramid faces the compass point exactly, legends and facts... A truly enjoyable history lesson – even though we were more than half dead ourselves!

After the tours, Lin and Liz wanted to go camel riding! Kim and I sat out this little venture and happily watched the other 2 squeal! Kim had managed to video caption some of the squealing so it will forever be in our mind!

As we were about to leave and head towards our hotel for the day, we were brought to the reality on how fortunate we are. As we were getting into our vehicle, a couple of children came towards us trying to sell us their goods, but the driver and Anz sort of made a barrier between us and the children and ushered us into the vehicle and told the children to leave us alone... It did feel quite harsh when we had to drive off.

This is going to sound even more inconsiderate, as we were then got dropped off at our hotel... the Ramsas Hilton Hotel were we then had our dinner there overlooking the River Nile!

When I was all tucked up in bed Kim answered the door to a delivery... the delivery was a single rose and an envelope... It was addressed to me... it turned out to be from the hotel saying thanks for using their room service! For a second I thought I had a secret admirer! Hahaha

Wednesday 29th November
Another early morning start as we had to meet Anz at the lobby at 7:05. Being girls, we had to visit the ladies before we set off (even though we just came down from our hotel rooms!) and I think Anz wasn’t best pleased! Hehehe

It was another packed day – first there was a 3 ½ hour drive to Alexandria. We were all well rested but having our own vehicle again, the big leg room, warmth of the morning sun soon sent us to sleep! Anz soon followed suit and went to sleep too. But before we all fell to sleep, we witnessed our driver, Ismal masterful driving skills! The driving in Cairo is manic to put it mildly! A 4 lane road with no traffic lights will turn into 8 lanes in a blink of an eye, public transport will pick up and drop off passengers in the middle of the road, constant beeping to ‘warn’ other drivers... Driving in Cairo is scary! Ismal was more than capable of driving in such conditions as well as keep up an animated conversation with Anz!

Well anyway, we finally arrived at our destination, an open museum displaying Greek artefacts inspired by the Egyptians. The artefacts are not as well preserved as those in the Egyptian Museum as they were extracted from under the Mediterranean Sea. To be honest I was not impressed at all with what was on display – the rest of my party had the opportunity to go underground to see the catatomb which I was told to be more fascinating.

After the open museum we made our way to see Pompeius’ column. From the barricaded fencing, I decided not to visit the column as it looked more like a construction site more than any historical site. The girls on the other hand climbed the rumbles and posed for photos. The stop at the column only lasted a few minutes before heading off to a library?! Yes, we toured a library! We toured the, Bibliotheca Alexandrina Library – at first I couldn’t see why this would be part of our tour but once we got in and paid attention to the tour guide, and then having free time to look around some of the costume drawings for director, Shadi Abdel Salam movie, Al Mummia (aka The Night of Counting the Years), I honestly enjoyed the visit to the library.

Lunch was at the fish market restaurant located besides the Mediterranean Sea. We all had lunch over looking the sea – well we tried inviting Ismal to join us but he refused and ate at the back of the restaurant by himself. We were unsure whether by asking Ismal to join us would cause him problems or not, we just felt that he was part of our group now and should all sit together...

After lunch we descended the steep flight of stairs and popped into the pastries before our long ride back. Again we felt the poor and fortunate divide – we saw these cute little cakes and wanted a selection but they only sold them by the kilo. Anz ‘argued’ on our behalf with the owner and managed to get exactly the amount we wanted (200grams of small cakes and a few larger pieces); we even managed to treat Ismal to a piece of cake!

The sun was still quite high when we decided to head back to Cairo, but we were caught up in some major delays. The drive back should have taken 3 ½ hours but ended up being around 5 hours! So glad we never travel without food and drink – our only concern was toilet facilities! LOL

Anz have a brilliant memory. Early in the morning we casually asked about bazaars. We were all very tired from sitting in the traffic jam (there were drivers driving on dirt roads and even a minor road rage incident because a driver was over zealous with the flashing of head lights!) but when it comes to shopping we all perked up! It was getting quite late but Anz and Ismal was trying really hard to find any bazaar which were still open in Giza... we only managed to visit a perfume shop were Lin and Kim spent almost a quarter of their money! They were so gullible to believe a few drops of perfume would entice the men! Hahaha

Originally Anz agreed to join us for dinner but as soon as he realised we might be heading back to our hotel for dinner he made excuses about having to go home... We were quite sad to say ‘goodbye’ to Anz as we now saw him as one of the girls (!). We exchanged emails and he invited us to stay at his house if we come to Cairo again. Kim even managed to smoothly slip Ismal and Anz their tip! LOL

At the end of our stay in Cairo, we saw Anz as a friend and even nick named him ‘McMuffin’!

Thursday 30th November
One of the last things Anz asked us before we departed last night was when we would like to set off for Sharm. We did not think anything of it and prepared ourselves to go by coach... then Ismal emerged with his mini bus to take us personally to Sharm! We were so grateful that we were grinning from ear to ear! Ismal brought along another driver (can’t recall his name) who spoke English which allowed us to communicate through him. Ismal was very nice and offered to take us to the bazaars that we didn’t manage to visit the night before. We declined his offer as we knew how long the journey to Sharm would take and wanted to get there as soon as possible.

We set off around 9:30am and were driving through the desert in the hottest times and we kept drifting off to sleep. Ismal stopped off just before we got to the desert to buy us some water, oranges and seeds! Whenever we woke up we see sand, sand and more sand... the scenery looked very much like the setting for the movie, The Hills Have Eyes! Gory movie and if you have seen it you will know what I mean! Anyway, every so often we would see toll booths with half a dozen soldiers, road spikes on the roadside and I even spotted some soldiers on the hillside with machine guns at the ready!

We stopped off half way for toilet break and of course food! Again we invited Ismal and the other driver to join us but they refused. The luxury may not seem much, but initially we were only suppose to stay for 45 minutes but ended up staying over an hour as our food took so long to come out from the kitchen - if we travelled with a coach party, I think the coach would have left without us! Hahaha

When we got back to our hotel in Sharm we tipped Ismal again (Lin did it this time not so smoothly though!) and went back to our room to refresh ourselves before heading into Naama Bay shopping district for dinner. We decided on a Thai and Chinese restaurant on the top floor of the shopping centre – no lift access so we managed to get a few strong men to help me up! The Egyptian is very helpful in that way.

Friday 1st December
This was the very first morning that we got to lie in! We took that opportunity by getting up just before breakfast serving ended and then made our way to sunbath on the Red Sea.

Lin, Liz and I booked in to do some parasailing whilst Kim remained on the beach to sunbath. First up were 2 guys and when we saw them plunged into the sea we were a bit concerned about it being cold... Liz and I went up first – Liz gave me instructions on not to talk to her whilst up there... of course if you tell me not to do something I end up doing the exact opposite! I started talking and swinging up there! Hahaha

When we came down we got dipped into the sea on purpose before being towed back on board the boat. Once we got back onto the boat, the crew said they are giving me a free ride so I remained hooked up and went up again with Lin this time. Lin was more relaxed with me swinging and when we got dipped into the sea again we even had a bit of a splash around! The sea was very, very salty!

After all that frolicking in the sea we dried ourselves off by more sunbathing. I got bored after half an hour and very hungry so Kim accompanied me to some lunch at the Marriot Beach Restaurant where Lin and Liz joined us afterwards.

To help us relax from our strenuous activities (!) we all went for a facial (Lin and Liz went for an extra massage). The facial started off with cleansing of the face and then threading! I have never tried threading before and it is an experience that I am not rushing out to try again! The salon wasn’t what you would call a reputable place but they were amusing – they played some Chinese music just for us... its ashame that the songs were from the 60s/70s, before we were born! Lin and Liz massage finished before Kim and my facial was completed! As the salon was fairly small, I went back to the hotel and Kim ran some errands for us whilst the other 2 had their facials.

Dinner was at the in-house restaurant at the Marriot Beach, we ate at Kona Koi, a Japanese restaurant where the art of cooking was part of a show.

We were supposed to have an early nights rest as we had an action packed day… Kim and I ended up staying up chatting about all the things we got up to instead. We talked about how trusting we were to jump into Ismal’s mini bus without checking properly if he were sent by the agent to pick us up or not, what would happen if we had broken down in the middle of the desert, would Anz come and rescue us, would we have turned into dried black beans when Anz arrived! Very silly talk which had us in stitches, I even started snorting which I have never done before! Well, Kim tired herself out with all the laughing and went to bed whereas I was wide awake! I only managed to have an hour sleep before getting up again at 6am!

Saturday 2nd December
With only an hour sleep I got up, changed into my swimsuit under my clothes and had breakfast in my zombie state. We were to meet up with our transfer from the Camel Dive Club outside the reception for our scuba diving excursion at 8:50am.

Lin and Liz went ahead to get us some beach towels, Kim and I lagged behind so when we got to the hotel entrance everyone was already there waiting for us. We were greeted by Erich our instructor for the day. Erich helped me into the mini bus, enquired about our shoe size for flippers and shoes – he knew our dress size just by glancing at us (to all those men out there, this is a good talent to possess ;-)).

Lin and I walked to the boat along side Erich – let me paint you a picture of our dive instructor… he is half Brazilian and Japanese, early 20s, cute (swoon) and seem slightly intimidated by us noisy group which makes it all the more endearing for me ;-)

Erich had initially tried to help me onto the top deck by passing me up to another instructor mid way on the steps but ended up taking me the whole way as the steps were so narrow and steep – I felt like I was on the monkey bars as I tried to help out by pulling myself up on the railings! Once up there I made my way towards the mats with the others to take photos. Once we started sailing off, Erich came up to give us a run through on the basic procedures, hand signals and told us in which order we were suppose to dive. Liz was first as she has done it before, and then Lin followed by me last.

When it was time to get into our wet suit, I lowered myself down the steps (monkey bar style) where Erich would ‘catch’ me downstairs! The wet suits were still damp from previous dives so it was difficult to get into and then the goggles just made us look like ducks because of the nose guard!

I felt like a rag doll when the other instructors helped me into the sea where Erich was waiting for me with my dive cylinder. I geared up and practiced to use my breathing apparatus but kept getting salt water into my mouth – started spitting the salt water out and then my goggles fogged up so had to redo the whole spitting in the goggles procedure (mascara was running by this stage)! I was hanging onto Erich for dear life and even asked him which part of his gear that I must not touch whilst he fixed my goggles and try to help me stay afloat! I was quite frustrated with myself by this stage, give be flying in the air any time but put me in water and I am at your mercy! It took me a while to get the hang of everything but once I was underwater I remained there throughout my 20 minutes dive! Saw a lot of fishes and corals, the ones I can only remember were the clown fish (Nemo), blue spotted stingray (got within about 2 metres) and the bearded scorpionfish! The Egyptian are very strict with preserving the corals so we had to be very careful in not to touch them. There was this little fish down there that was quite taken in by us and didn’t move when I stretched out my hand to touch him until the very last minute.

The whole resurfacing and exiting the sea and boarding the boat and extracting me from the wet suit happened so fast that I was in a bit of a daze until I was wrapped in my beach towel! That was when the cold, damp temperature hit me. I was freezing and when they started to serve lunch, I was too cold to even eat!

Once I had some food in me, I felt much better and even started to think about getting out of my swimsuit and into my dry clothes. Erich carried me into the crew bathroom at the back of the boat and sat me onto the table beside the sink (this would be a very romantic scenario if only I was dry and warm!), he then proceeded to get my wheelchair and helped me transfer over.

For the rest of the excursion I sat curled up in the cabin. Lin was the only one in our group to do a second dive. We all had a fantastic time even though I was freezing and the other 3 all got sea sick! LOL

When we all got back into the dive club headquarter, we were well and truly knackered! Erich was busy running around tidying up so we didn’t get time to take a photo with him :-(

Dinner was a buffet at our hotel which we devoured – have to replenish all the energy we used up from diving!

Sunday 3rd December
Another relaxing day sunbathing besides our hotel pool this time, Kim even managed to take a dip!

Lunch was once again at the Marriot Beach restaurant – unfortunately we had a very tight schedule to keep and the service was extra slow so we didn’t enjoy our meal as much as we intended to.

Quad bike riding through the desert whilst the sun is setting sounds so magical but in reality it is awfully painful! I was riding on the back of Lin’s bike and I felt every bump which was not only painful on my bum but also caused me to have a splitting headache! Driving over hills and on road was good but going over those small little bumps was just nightmarish! There were a camera man following us round the course filming us, he kept telling us to wave and high five him but I was just hanging onto Lin (sorry for giving you all those wedges!) for dear life! Originally the order of the ride in our group was Liz at the front then Kim followed by Lin and me, but Liz was so slow Kim overtook her right from the start and then Lin and I overtook her too, and if that wasn't enough, Lin then bumped into Kim as a joke but got told off from the instructors. Hehehe

We all purchased a head scarf at headquarter as the sand gets everywhere. The vendor helped wrapped our head in the scarf – we looked like ninjas! Instinctly, we all smiled under our disguise when we posed for the camera even though you can’t see it. Well, my scarf didn't stay long on my head and I only had Lin as my shield to protect me from the sand whilst riding through the desert! Hehehe

At the camel ride pit stop I had to wave a white flag and asked the camera crew if I could ride with them the rest of the excursion as I was in so much pain. The young, cute, nice smelling instructor, Yassma carried me over to the truck where I happily made myself comfortable. Once settled I dug into my bag for some tissues to wipe the sand from my face when I was greeted by a very squished banana! Ewww

After cleaning out my bag at the camel pit stop, the whole group proceeded onto the tea stop where Yassma drove his quad bike to pick me up and rode very slowly over the bumps and right up to our table. Yassma did exactly the same thing again when we arrived back at headquarters; he rode out to where the truck was parked and picked me up with his quad bike and rode to the transfer mini bus back to our hotel!

As we didn’t have a chance to go to any bazaars in Cairo the next best thing we were told was the Old Market… this wasn’t far from Naama Bay but the atmosphere was noticeably different. We had our first marriage proposal for a start – well Kim did anyway! At first they offered her 15 camels but then it went down to 15 chickens! This was our cue to leave and head back into Naama Bay for some food.

We decided on Lebanese food for our last dinner in Egypt as none of us have tried it before. Again the restaurant was upstairs and there were no lift access so the waiters had to help me up.

At this stage I was panicking as I haven’t done much souvenir shopping. I was dashing in and out of shops until I came across a t-shirt shop where the vendor kept joking with us about pricing – every time one of us comes in he would say 45 Egyptian pounds for a t-shirt and we would each in turn have to haggle. It was all in good fun and we all came away happy... especially Kim as she returned back into the shop only after leaving a few minutes ago! I personally think she likes the vendor ;-)

Monday 4th December
Woke up pretty early even though I had done most of my packing the night before. Again had a late breakfast at the hotel before venturing off to Naama Bay shopping centre as I haven’t done all my souvenir shopping! I was panic buying like mad as soon as I got out of the taxi! Went into one of the shops the girls went into the night before and basically brought whatever I thought was cute – didn’t even bother to haggle as I was in such a rush!

Haven’t been into the centre during the day before – the place was like a ghost town as all the blinds were down to block out the sun and inside were very stuffy as they didn’t turn on the air con. Note to self: if you are in a hurry, don’t go shopping with Kim as she kept flirting with the vendors and they wouldn’t let us just pay and go! LOL

Lunch were at MacDonald’s (it is sort of a tradition of ours, we try to sample Chinese restaurants and MacDonald’s whenever we go abroad and compare it with the UK – my McChicken Sandwich was ok even though it was a bit too bland), but whilst we were waiting for them to cook it from fresh (!) I made another mad dash to a nearby shop and purchased 7 t-shirts in less than 10 minutes! That was a record for me, and I wasn’t even accompanied by the girls as they were all so tired out! Hehehe

Back at the hotel I was treated like Queen Nefertiti for the last time by the concierge... a girl could get used to this life style ;-)

A very short transfer coach ride to the airport and some very, very last minute duty free shopping and we were on board heading for the cold, wet and miserable weather that UK has to offer :-(

Well that was my week away to a place I have always wanted to go and the experience have exceeded all my expectations... I so didn’t want to leave and would definitely go back there again!


Santa Clauses came to town!

# You better watch out,
You better not cry,
Better not pout,
I'm telling you why:
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He's making a list,
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out
Who's naughty and nice.
Santa Claus is coming to town...

Saturday started with my alarm going off at 5am! I dragged myself out of bed, had a really quick shower and then forced some food down my throat to help wake myself up a bit more before going off to the train station where assistance was arranged to help me on and off the train... yep, no assistance so I had to ask other passengers to help me.

Caught a cab from London Bridge to Battersea Park. Once there we drove around trying to figure out where all the nutters were gathering! Followed a group of ladies as they appeared to know where they were going. Met some of the runners from the forum, took photos and basically admiring each others costumes! LOL

We all took a leisurely stroll to the starting line - saw 2 very brave men who only donned their Santa hat and a very fetching pair of red thongs with fur trim!

I got separated from everyone from the forum as I stayed behind in the slowest starting area... sub 10 mins wasn’t slow enough for me because as soon as we got off the starting line, everyone in my area over took me! Hahaha

I was only about half way through the course when the fast runners overlapped me! When I went past the mobile café, I was so tempted to stop off and have a hotdog to replenish my energy! By the time I got onto my second lap, I really took my time and even stopped off to take a picture of the gold Buddha and raced a little kid on his tricycle!

At the very last half km, I sort of tagged along some of the ladies from GMTV’s, ‘This Morning’ team who are training for the London Marathon next April... will need to get up early on Monday to see if I will appear on their video clip ;-)

Bumped into one of my ski instructors, Gules when I was picking up my belongings after the race and had a good old chin wag and I took the opportunity to promote this blog and its cause! Just in case anyone who have forgotten why I am writing this blog, it’s to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation! So give generously!

After saying goodbye to everyone I took a taxi to Waterloo as I wasn’t too keen on getting lost on the buses in my Santa suit... the driver was very generous and didn’t charge me for my taxi ride! I think he felt sorry that I had to wear the suit all the way home on the Jubilee line! That’s not all, silly me I forgot my house keys when I left in the morning so I had to visit my brother at his work place to pick up his keys... he was less than amused when I greeted him and all his customers with a golly ‘Hohoho’!


Friday, December 08, 2006

Hi folks!

Got back from Egypt a few days ago – been home recovering from a very exhausting holiday! Had a fantastic time and I will upload blog entries from my holiday hopefully next week as I don’t have any holiday photos at hand.

Going to have an early night tonight as I need to get up bright and early for my Santa race tomorrow morning! Hohoho