Trip: Part III


Day 6: Saturday
We arrived in Singapore at about 4:00pm local time. Our hotel was REALLY nice. One thing I learned is that European hotels are generally smaller and not as nice. In Singapore, both hotels I've stayed at have been very large, nice and over-the-top with their customer service.

We met at 7:00pm that night for dinner and we all were craving an American meal, so we went to California Pizza Kitchen. We then had a few drinks after dinner at a bar near our hotel. Low key night because we were all exhausted. I went to sleep that night around 11:00pm and I woke up several times throughout the night, but was able to sleep until 11:00am on Sunday. That felt good after several nights of not enough sleep.

Day 7: Sunday
Dick (the Controller), Peggy (the Deloitte partner) & I ventured to Chinatown. We walked to the subway and figured that out. It was really crowded on one of the trains! Chinatown was good - they have a lot of super cheap stuff - I bought a couple pillow covers for S$2 (Singapore dollars), or about $1.30US. They're cute, but clearly not the best in quality, so we'll see how long they last. I decided not to do souvenirs for anyone because it gets a little difficult with so many to by for. Sorry family! It was VERY hot that day - about 90 degrees, so we were pretty sweaty and gross when all was said and done.

On the way back, I had an interesting subway encounter. Two women and two young boys were riding right next to me, and the one little boy started to have a potty accident. Mom panicked and grabbed a bath towel (I think they were going to the beach), stood the kid up, pulled down his pants and said "piss." Um, what? I couldn't turn away as the kid peed into the towel that his mom was holding up to him. Strange.

That night we had dinner with the Asia Finance Lead (he's American), the Asia Controller (she's Canadian) and the Credit Lead (he's Indian). It was a pretty good dinner - we were glad to have Mark the Finance Lead with us, as he ordered a variety of stuff we would like. One of the items was some kind of really messy crab, so they came around and put bibs on all of us.
Day 8: Monday
Monday was a long day of meetings - the same as Europe with people from all over Asia presenting. Again, it was great to meet some of the people I had traded numerous emails with. Monday night we had our group dinner, but first we all went on the Singapore Flyer, which is basically a huge, slow ferris wheel that gives a great view of the city.

The ferris wheel car:
The group (notice how I tower over all of the women): View of the city (notice the floating soccer field in the foreground - crazy!): Then we had dinner at an Indian restaurant. The food was pretty good, but Indian is not my favorite cuisine. Gotta love that nan though!

Day 9: Tuesday
Tuesday was another long day of meetings. That night, Jason, Peggy & I decided to go to Chinatown and get massages, based on a recommendation from the locals. The place was called Jin Jing Physician, which was interesting to me. My massage was pretty normal, with the exception of the last 10 minutes or so, when she went to town on my head. She got out some tool and was basically scraping my head, then she started pounding on it. Not my idea of a soothing massage. Jason & Peggy, however, had it much worse. They both said it felt like they were getting beat up - their masseuses were really rough.
Day 10: Wednesday
We taught training on Wednesday and left the office around 2:30. We decided to explore Singapore so we went to this place called Sentosa Island. We rode this funny "ride" called the Luge. The signs totally hyped this thing, and their slogan was "One time is never enough." Turns out it was basically a go cart with no motor that you rode downhill. Funny.
We stayed up all night Wednesday night and got back to the hotel around 3:00am. The car was picking us up at 4:00am for our ride to the airport, so we thought this would be a good strategy to help us sleep on the plane.
Day 11: Thursday
After a 3-hour flight to Hong Kong, an almost 2 hour layover and a 14-hour flight to Chicago, we got delayed for an extra 5 hours in Chicago. I despise O'Hare airport - I have the most terrible luck there. We finally made it home after 10:00pm Thursday (we gained 13 hours) after a 30-hour travel day. Phew!
I'm happy to report that my sleeping is completely back to normal and I'm Ambien-free - this is much quicker than last year's trip. I'm becoming a pro at 'round the world travel!


Trip - Part II


Day 3: Wednesday
We started the day with a 3-hour tour of the Antwerp manufacturing facility. It's pretty amazing. This is a plant that makes Roundup and it is HUGE! We had to take a bus from place to place just to see the whole plant. We also walked up about 10 flights of stairs to get to the top of the machinery to get a view of the whole grounds. It was interesting learning more about one of my company's products. We had to wear these bright yellow jackets, hard hats and safety goggles.
After the tour, we taught about 5 hours of training to employees from all over Europe. They had a lot of questions, but I think it was a success. After training we decided to explore Antwerp. We walked a few blocks to a convenience store where we bought tram tickets. I always think it's interesting to check out the public transit in other places. Seems that everywhere you go (except St. Louis), the mass transit is widely used. We took the tram to the "city centre" (i.e. downtown) and just walked around. We happened upon a street vendor and couldn't resist a Belgian waffle topped with chocolate. Yum! Turns out Antwerp is a very old city and has some amazing buildings. In the heart of the city centre is the Cathedral of our Lady, which was built in 1352 and is beautiful in every intricate detail! We also found an old castle, which I later researched and found out it is called The Steen and was built around the year 1200. Amazing! Antwerp is a very neat city. We had a relatively normal dinner that night, but weren't so lucky on Thursday...

Day 4: Thursday
We had meetings all day on Thursday with representatives from many countries in Europe presenting. It's so neat to meet everyone that you've talked to on the phone and exchanged numerous emails with. It's also interesting to hear about their entities and what exactly they do, since they're all a little different. That day lunch was brought in (as is expected when you have a meeting of 20+ people), but it was from their on-site cafeteria and consisted of mystery sandwiches. They looked like all bread from the outside and were wrapped in a napkin secured by a rubber band, so it was luck of the draw what you got. They were small so I had two and the first one was pretty good - ham, egg and mayo (they put egg on a lot of sandwiches). The second one was not as good and I still don't know what I was eating. They passed around an order form for dinner that night because with our big group dinner they couldn't offer a full menu. I chose the "meat" option and lucky for me that turned out to be PIGEON!!! I was pretty disgusted and had to take a picture of it, but I did eat a few bites, and it tasted like very dark meat chicken.
Day 5: Friday

We had another day of meetings and mystery meat sandwiches on Friday, then we took a cab to Brussels that afternoon to catch our flight. The cab driver apparently despises traffic, so he kept switching routes in order to avoid what seemed to me to be inevitable traffic. It ended up taking an hour and 15 minutes for a 30 minute cab ride, and left both Jason and me ready to vomit from the crazy driving. Our flight went smoothly - we flew Lufthansa, which was a huge improvement on United! It took less than an hour to get to Frankfurt, Germany, then we used about an hour of our 1.5 hour layover walking from one end of the airport to the other to get to our gate - that airport is HUGE! The 12-hour flight to Singapore went relatively quickly with a long nap, some reading and a partial-viewing of Juno.

My trip - Part I

Well, I never had a chance to post while I was gone, so I'll try to remember everything important about my last 12 days. I travelled the whole time with my boss's boss Jason (confusing, I know) and most of the time with several others from St. Louis. There's a lot to rehash, so I'll break it into 3 posts.

The Netherlands
Day 1: Sunday/Monday

I left the Sunday before last on a flight to Amsterdam. The flight was pretty uneventful, but the seats, although they were business class, left a lot to be desired. We quickly learned that United is not the best airline for international travel. You'd think a $10,000 plane ticket would buy you a comfortable seat. Anyway, we landed in Amsterdam at about 10:00am Monday, and I went immediately into the airport bathroom and thew up. Nice start to the trip. Luckily, I felt better right away, and we took a 30 minute train ride to Den Haag (a.k.a The Hague), which is south of Amsterdam. We checked into our hotel and walked around to check it out. There were some neat, old buildings, including these:
I believe this was called Binnenhof - it was like a big courtyard with these old buildings - I believe for government use.
After we sat down for lunch, we were exhausted, so we back back to take naps. That night we checked out their beach area, Scheveningen. The concierge told us how to catch the tram which was right next to our hotel. There was a nice monitor on board that told us which stop we were approaching, and it wasn't until no new stops were appearing that we realized we had gone the wrong way. We asked a security guy and he said we should get off the tram and wait for the next one going back. It was cold and we think we were kind of the hood, so we weren't happy when the very same tram picked us back up going the other way - why hadn't the "helpful" guy told us just to sit tight because we'd be turning around soon?? Anyway, we eventually made it to the beach. As I said, it was pretty cold that night, but the area was still neat - lots of restaurants, a few casinos and a kind of boardwalk feel. We ate dinner at Peukie's, and despite the name, it was very good. We then found a fun piano bar. The 2 pianists switched off singing in Dutch and in English, so we knew a lot of the songs. Ended up staying out too late on the first night in a new time zone!
The restaurant where we ate dinner:

The main hotel/casino at Scheveningen:

Day 2: Tuesday

Tuesday morning we took a 25 minute cab ride to a vegetable seed company that Monsanto bought last year called Western Seed. They breed primarily tomatoes and peppers, and they have a neat greenhouse displaying their products. It is located in Naaldwijk, The Netherlands. It was a long day due to the late night preceding it, but we had some successful meetings. Around 5:30pm, we hitched a ride from a Belgian Monsanto employee, Johan, to Antwerp. My boss and I were both exhausted, so we both opted for ordering room service rather than going to dinner with the Monsanto group that we ran into as we checked into our hotel in Antwerp. I also needed to prepare for the training that we were giving the following day.


Patio Project & Work Trip

I took a few more pictures of the patio project. He hasn't been able to make too much progress because of all the rain we've been getting. It's pretty cold & soggy out there, so I'm not sure how much will get accomplished this weekend.I leave tomorrow for a 12-day work trip. Here's my itinerary: fly into Amsterdam Monday morning, and stay one night in den Haag, Netherlands. After working in Naaldwijk, Netherlands on Tuesday, we take a train to Antwerp, Belgium, where we will stay through Friday evening. That night we fly to Singapore, where we arrive mid afternoon Saturday. We have the rest of the weekend to explore, then work Monday through Wednesday. I get home that Thursday. There's a lot of work to do while we're there, but I'm looking forward to it.

I'll try to post while I'm abroad, but we'll see.

I also finally got some of our wedding pictures & our invitation framed and hung on our walls.
My sister's friend Jill made some paper out of my wedding flowers, which I used as the mats in these frames. They look great. For more info, see her website: http://www.snapdragonpaper.com/about.htm


Digging & Running

Jason & I both had a busy weekend. He got started on the patio project Saturday by buying a truckload of gravel. He spent his Sunday and Monday afternoon digging a trench. Our yard is sloped, so he has to build a retaining wall to make the patio flat. I think it's going to turn out great, but he's been working hard already & has a long way to go. Here is a picture of Sunday's progress.

Monday we had 10 pallets of stones delivered for the wall. Fun times to come for my hard working husband. I'll post more pictures after the rain stops and I can get out there with the camera.

My Sunday entailed running a relay marathon with my coworkers. We had 2 teams of 4, and we each had to run about 6.5 miles. I thought I might die for parts of it, but in the end I felt really good. My boss Jason and I ran our portion (the first leg) in about 1 hour, 10 minutes. Not too shabby by my standards, though the winning time on the half marathon (13 miles, or TWICE what we ran) was 1 hour, 8 minutes. Hmmm. Next year, we'll be faster! Here's a picture of part of the group after we were all finished:

In other, much more exciting, news, my friend Jenny in Oregon gave birth to her second son last night after being 5-6 centimeters dilated for about 2 weeks. Her labor was 90 minutes long, so maybe she's on to something. She also did it without pain medicine. Phew! I'm impressed. Here's the beautiful new arrival, Reece (picture borrowed from their blog - I clearly haven't met him yet):Another tidbit from last week. We've been getting a ton of rain the last few weeks and one night after work, there was a huge rainbow going all the way across the sky (view from our back door):