Sunday, July 24, 2011

More Than 3 Decades Old

My birthday this year was spent with the people I least expect to be with, and far away from the shores of home. I was on a work trip with my Director, and a colleague Mel who isn't even directly in my team. Nevertheless, I was immensely touched by the efforts they put in to give it a bit of celebratory mood.

After a tiring trip in Jerusalem (which deserves an entry by itself), my Director headed straight to the reception to book a restaurant for dinner. Good company, coupled with the Mediterranean sea breeze, the stunning sunset and delectable seafood dinner, was strangely enjoyable. My colleague requested a surprise cake with a mini firework displays, with enthusiastic Jewish waiters bursting into a birthday song. It was a truly memorable evening.

On my actual birthday, Mel and I booked a day trip to Masada and the Dead Sea. Our tour guide, Zahid, was the same one that took us to Jerusalem the day before. We drove out into the Judean desert, and I commenced the adventure with my first ride on the camel.

Whoopsy-hoo. Careful now, Missy Camel.

Riding amidst the sweltering heat of the desert

We adjourned to a hike along the archaelogical site in Masada. It is located on top of an isolated rock plateau on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. We saw amazing architecture carved out from the rocky mountains, and learnt about the Roman siege of the Jews in Masada.

After the scorching tour of Masada, we were looking forward to float in the waters of the Dead Sea, the lowest point in the world.

To the dead sea and beyond!

Look Ma, no life vest required!

We had tonnes of fun floating in the waters, exploring even deep waters without the need for life vests. The water was so salty I was instantly aware of all the little cuts and injuries on my body since they would start to smart tremendously. We also slammed on the black mineral mud which is supposed to make our skin a lot smoother. All in all, it was great fun. More pics when I upload them from my iPhone.

Not a bad way to feel a year older!

Monday, July 18, 2011


After a horrendous 16 hour flight, where three out of the five toilets were not working, we finally made it to Tel Aviv.

How on earth does a red-eye flight operate with faulty toilets? You see long queues of passengers forming in the plane to use the precious two working toilets and frankly, I have no desire to use the bathrooms after a group of men have utilised them.

Luckily, we were greeted by a friendly sight on arrival. My hotel is smacked right next to a fancy beach. It's summer and everyone is out to party!

My boss, colleague and I eventually adjourned to a nearby supermarket to stock up on supplies. As I searched fervently for the elusive bottle of mineral water amongst the hebrew-labelled grocries, a guy turned to me.

Guy: Do you speak English?
Me: Yes.
Guy: Great! I was wondering if you can help me. I'm looking for something.
Me: You're kidding me. I can't even read Hebrew. I can't find what I'm looking for too.
Guy: Oh I can help! What're you looking for?
Me: (Puzzled by the change in attitude) Er, minerable water.
Guy: I know where that is!

He enthusiastically started off towards an aisle and eyeballed the rows of beverages sitting on the shelves. 'Nah, they are not mineral water,' he muttered and strode determinedly towards the cashier. In Hebrew, he asked the cashier about the location of mineral water, and victoriously returned with a bottle of mineral water. Duh, he can speak Hebrew. Why the hell did he ask me for help?

Nevertheless, I thanked him for his assistance. He began to try to speak in incomprehensible chinese, as if in an attempt to impress. After acting amused for a bit, I strolled off to join my colleague.

A while later, as I was queuing to pay, he cut the queue and came up to me.

Him: Are you free for dinner tonight?
Me: Nope.
Him: Tomorrow night?
Me: Nope, sorry.
Him: I'll give you my number. You can call me when you are free.
Me: Er, sure.

He took my handphone and keyed in his number, while my colleagued looked on, amused. At this time, someone behind me said something in Hebrew. Again, I presumed the person was complaining he was cutting queue. The guy turned around and retorted,"She's my friend!"

At this point, my boss who was queuing behind looked distinctly unamused. Anyway, in my haste to saunter away, I actually forgot my change from the cashier. The guy called me back, reminded me to take my change before winking "Call me, I know where to have fun in Tel Aviv."

Right. Men.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kayaking in Ubin

We had a great time kayaking around the mangroves of Pulau Ubin, avoiding low hanging branches and colliding into the muddy roots.

We're cruising along, baby!

The instructors will first guide you on your paddling skills, and there will be practices in the open sea to raft up as a group.

Rafting up for a group pic!

Showing the instructors our paddling skills

The waters in Pulau Ubin is alot chalkier. It is almost opaque, unlike in Krabi where I could see loads of jellyfish, starfish and other aquatic life from the kayak. Well, still, it's pretty fun dodging all those mangrove branches!

We then adjourned to the coffee-shops at Pulau Ubin for a well-deserved dinner.

Feeling accomplished!