June 2007 Archives
Slow going on the I-80, but I felt fine. I stopped every 1.5 hours to rest for at least 20 minutes. Sometimes I’d nap. Made it through Ohio in 4 hrs, and onto Indiana. The roads were fairly empty, mostly trucks. I’d describe the drive as tough but manageable. I had a good car (Kia Optima) which handled well and didn’t eat up too much fuel.
Had breakfast at one of the service stations along the way. Croissanwich from Burger King and a latte from starbucks. The toll for the Ohio stretch was $9.25, which was money well spent. The road quality was good. After Ohio came Indiana, and by then it started to get light. The fields at the side of the road were misty and the sunrise made the sky look nice. Didn’t want to stop to take pictures though, wanted to get in as soon as possible.
The first time I saw Chicago on a sign I did a whoop. Then I watched as the distance got smaller and smaller. It was a great relief when the distance got to double digits.
But no, the adventure wasn’t over. Traffic went from smooth to a dead stop. And then all cars were kicked off at exit 31 — apparently there was an accident up ahead. The very nice attendant at the toll payment station told me that I could follow the trucks to get onto the I-94. I called the house and they said yes, then get to the I-294. I was lucky to have the GPS.
I can’t remember when I arrived. May be about 9-ish? Distance travelled = 843 miles. Time = 16, 17 hours? I can’t believe I did that. Drove from NY to Chicago overnight.
Car took me to O’Hare to get my luggage. I hadn’t seen them since I put them through the bag drop at JFK. They’d come in on one of the flights because that’s what they did, sent the bags to the destination even though the passenger wasn’t confirmed. The whole process took less than half an hour. At least everything ended well.
The second half of the day was spent relaxing, packing.
We set out on our roadtrip proper at about 2pm. Hectic, but I’m glad we stuck to our original schedule. We made it through Illinois quickly, then to Oklahoma. I drove a little but got too tired and Car had to take over.
We got hit by thunderstorms so we were still delayed. As midnight struck we were still on the road, making slow but safe progress.
Driving from New York to Chicago
Slept for a bit on and off. Was up at 5-ish, dozing near the gate. The board showed that the plane was already at the gate, so none of the delayed because plane was late coming in. But it still got delayed again and again because they were missing a crew member. Which is completely ridiculous. It’s not a flight deck officer but one of the stewardesses. Did I say ridiculous?
The time got changed from 7am to 7.30, then 7.55, 8.30. 9.30. Eventually it was ready and people who had tickets got on. There were only 3-4 standby tickets and I didn’t get on. Imagine 2 planeful of people yesterday all needing to get to Chicago.
I ran to the other side of the terminal cos I had a standby ticket for the 10.02am. But that came and went without me. I think I wasn’t high enough on the waiting list.
The next flights were at 12.30, 4.30 and 7pm. I got standby tickets for all of them, plus the 2 flights tomorrow morning. Seems that all flights are full and the prospect of getting on them aren’t terribly good. The best I could hope for was tomorrow. I did not want to spend another night at JFK. I’d been updating my host family in Chicago sporadically. Then Car suggested I may as well drive to Chicago. It’s a long drive (13 hours) but at this rate I’d be stuck in JFK all weekend and if I drove slowly I’d be getting somewhere.
That’s what I did. Got a one way rental to Chicago and set out at about 1.30pm. It’d been a while since I’d driven a) such long distances; b) in the US; c) left hand drive. The traffic getting out of NY was horrendous, but I was glad I was in a city I’d lived in before. I knew the van Wyck, the LIE, even New Jersey. Plus I had the best car invention ever — the GPS.
The route took me on the I-95 to White Plains, then New Jersey, Pennsylvania. I waited till I was in Pennsylvania to stop for dinner at around 8pm — chicken nuggets at Wendy’s. I wanted to get as far as I could while there was light.
Just before midnight I made Ohio. It’s gonna be a slow drive all night.
Getting to New York
I’m going away for a long trip to the US and Chile. I’m going to try to write as I go along, but it will be in draft form mainly.
So I set out at 7.30am from home. Check-in and going to the airport was straightforward. The 15-hr flight wasn’t bad either. I had a great seat — 30H. It’s the aisle bulkhead seat. The window seat next to me (the arrangement is 2-4-2) was marked Crew Only. So basically throughout the flight I had both seats to myself. And lots of room to stretch and stand up.
My connection to Chicago was through JFK. Luggage came out slowly, no surprise as US airports aren’t known for their efficiency. But immigration and customs were okay. Had to haul both bags myself via the Skytrain to terminal 3. There were a lot of people and I was glad that my bags had been checked through so I could just give them to the bag drop people.
When I got inside I found out that my flight was cancelled! I got to the Delta desk and they gave me a standby for the next flight at 7pm. The worst thing happened, the 7pm got delayed several times, then finally it was cancelled too. So I got a standby for the flight at 7am tomorrow morning. I paid $25 to use the Delta lounge and to have a shower. The only thing the airline gave us were blankets, some water and some biscuits. Apparently it wasn’t the airline, the whole East Coast was affected by bad weather and 15% of all flights were cancelled.
The prospect of sleeping overnight at JFK isn’t nice. I’m lucky that I’m not in a great hurry, am comfortable enough deal with it. I’m treating it like an Amazing Race adventure, so I’m keeping cheerful.
USA Today article on the travel delays.
I swear, this is the last time I’ll talk about end of this job. For a while anyway.
It was so weird today. I sent out a goodbye email, called around personal friends individually and attended a diversity seminar. Not much work because there’s no point.
I guess I simply don’t have enough experience of leaving a job. Not that I want to experience this too many times going forward.
Holiday tomorrow. Think about that instead.
The uncertainty persists. Today my colleague, the one I’m helping with a project this month, had a panic attack and called me incessantly at lunch. Talk about insensitive — it’s my last 2 days of course I will have farewell lunches. Turns out it’s a straightforward data matter, so simple I wonder why the panic.
Took some stuff home and went out again. Met mm for foot massage. Unusual for mid-week but it’ll be weeks till we see each other. We were both tired. Dinner at a Singaporean restaurant she recommended.
I’m waiting for the apple crumble in my oven to cook. We have fruit at work but no one eats the green apples, so I said I’d take them home and make crumble. Kinda a farewell treat. I made 2 trays but the oven can only take one tray at a time. Tray #1 is inside now. Who knows when I’ll get to go to bed.
I’ve been trying to organise thoughts in my mind. So much seems to be happening, yet I feel my time is dragging on.
More people resigned at work. Last Friday marked the last day of the final two people of “my” team — I’m close to one of them, we’re similar workwise and we’ve been going to breakfast together often. The other person I’m less friendly with but still …
My last day is this Wednesday. It’s creeping up fast, yet not fast enough. Work hasn’t slowed down, seems like they want to squeeze me dry until the end, sigh. If I were an optimist I’d say they value me so much that they give stuff for me to do that no one else can. And it’s pretty true — almost 150 people in our department regionally and I’m the only one who can take a bunch of crappy spreadsheet and make a coherent summary. Okay, Ricky helped with the array formula but the concept was mine.
Our farewell lunch had over 30 people, including our friends who have left. I was very touched. Friday night we had dinner with a few other close friends, and we talked till almost 11pm. They aren’t colleagues anymore; not even ex-colleagues; they’re friends. I hope I can keep in touch with them. I’m notoriously bad at keeping in touch.
It’s just been a weird feeling the last few days.
It’s also really really hot. I can sit at my desk doing very little and I break out in sweat. mm and I went to the funeral of a college friend’s dad on saturday, then we went for seafood dinner at the local place near her home. I stayed over. But I was too tired and fell asleep even when mm was taking her shower. Sunday I went to various shops to buy presents for people — books, sweets and small souvenirs. The rest of the day was spent playing tennis on the wii for hours! I was so hot and sticky I had to go swimming before taking a shower.
I’m flying out on Thursday. For a whole month. It’s incredible and the trip of a lifetime. I’ll hit Chicago first, but almost immediately we’re going on a roadtrip to Fort Worth and Washington DC. It’ll be fun but right now I’m obsessing about the amount of clothes I have to bring. Back in Chicago for a week then I’m heading for Chile to visit K and P. Woot! There’ll be skiing, beaches and vineyard tours.
But right now my brain is in a state of frozen limbo shock. I can’t believe I quit my job. I can’t believe I quit my job with no new job to go do. I can’t believe the things that our new management team is getting away with. I can’t believe I’m going on such a long trip. I can’t believe I basically have no plans beyond this July trip.
None of this is new. Nor is it a surprise. Like I said, it’s been a weird few days.
I stopped seeing the in-town chiropractor and finally went to the out-of-town one with my colleague a couple of weekends ago. It’s really far away and I am thankful that a) my colleague drove and b) he is so generous to meet me near home and drop me home afterwards.
I haven’t been to this chiro in almost 9 months, but the drill is the same. Some traction for my neck first, and yes it popped. Then rest for a while before the doctor came to manipulate the neck and spine. He said my neck is out of place and my muscles all tensed up. There’s a big rock-hard bulge on my right shoulder blade. As for my very painful upper arm, apparently it’s a little inflamed probably because of all the stress it has to deal with. After a few well placed pushes and cracks, there’s acupuncture for 5 minutes.
I went to the third session tonight, and the pain in my arm has receded to faint discomfort when I move it in a certain direction. Tonight’s traction was quite intense and now my neck muscles are stiff — a good night’s sleep and they’ll relax again. I don’t think I’ll be healed that quickly, will need a few more sessions to correct the spine displacement; and since I’m sitting at the computer all day, I’ll need maintenance every month or two.
This doctor has a lot of patients, from kids to the elderly. Even in such a remote location people go all the way out there, I take it as a sign of effectiveness.
I will go back and write up the Singapore long weekend trip. In the meantime, a little late, but May 26 things is done. All taken during the last few days in Singapore. Not my best collection by far, I was too slow with a lot of chances. I think my 26things standard is slipping, sigh.
|1. keys||10. round||19. after|
|2. dance||11. currency||20. landmark|
|3. fold||12. electronic||21. from the hip|
|4. soft||13. large||22. front page|
|5. tangle||14. fake||23. a difference|
|6. panoramic||15. stop||24. telephone|
|7. truck||16. feast||25. number 9|
|8. sparkle||17. multicoloured||26. sticky|
|9. nose||18. before|
We had more time than we expected today. I thought our flight was around 4pm but it was actually 6.30pm. Plenty of time to do lots.
First stop was Little India. Not much to see except pretty houses.
Second stop, Clark Quay. I didn’t realise there is a new shopping mall next to the Merchant Court hotel. It was good to cool off. Talking about cooling off, there is a fountain there and kids were playing and really having fun.
From Clark Quay we stopped quickly at Chinatown to buy dried pork, then it was back to the hotel to repack.
We had a little trouble at the airport with an unhelpful check-in staff. He couldn’t find my name, then didn’t put us seated together, then was grouchy when I insisted that he put Priority Baggage on mm’s bags (which she is entitled to since we are checking in together). For our troubles? mm got lounge access so we went there to play on the computers for a bit. Flight was full, and I got home at almost 11pm.
Nice trip. :)
After breakfast (still only tolerable) we made our way to Orchard Road. It wasn’t so crowded yet so we made good progress. Couldn’t find much to buy though, not for want of trying. This is one of my favourite places though we didn’t go in this time — Wheelock Place has a nice Apple Store and a Borders, see why?
Lunch was at a very hectic Food Republic. I had laksa and mm had chicken curry. We also ordered a rojak to share. Very yummy. More walking and more food — we shared a 3G cake (green apple, green lime, green ginger cake) and a not value for money iced mint tea.
Took a bus to Raffles, because mm has to see Raffles. She bought a couple of elephants from the Jim Thompson shop. Then it was to the Esplanade, and somewhere I hadn’t visited — the roof terrace. Wow, what a view. I didn’t have my tripod and had to rest my camera on my rucksack, not the best arrangement.
We had dinner at Glutton Square, which is an alley next to the Esplanade. Had satay (30 pieces, nicer than Lau Pa Sat), stingray, chicken wings and kang kong vegetable. I had a Tiger beer and mm had sugar cane juice. I was still thirsty so I got a coconut and finished it. VERY FULL but very happy bbmm.
Plan is to take it easier today. Got up at around 9am and went down for breakfast. It was crowded and the food was tolerable, but as least we got our caffeine fix.
I had 2 large bags of snacks for the people at the office so we went over to HFC so I can drop them off. Stayed longer than expected (sorry mm to keep you waiting) cos I had to teach someone something.
Rest of the day was at Vivo City, walking around and trying to shop. The Great Sale is supposed to be on but most shops had a fraction of merchandise on sale and the styles didn’t suit us. I spent most of the time trying to get the 26things challenge done.
Didn’t stay at Vivo all day. We went back to the hotel to rest. Originally we wanted to go downstairs for a drink but a) I got engrossed in my book and b) mm fell asleep. It was good to relax though.
For dinner we met up with my friends from work (it’s too cold to call them just colleagues) for seafood at East Coast. Yummy!!! I spent most of the meal talking to everyone and was really glad that my colleagues took the trouble to chat with mm to make her feel at home. We had both chili and pepper crabs; prawns, chicken, veg, steamed catfish, and bamboo clam. We also had garlic sea mantis which was really delicious. None of us have tried sea mantis before, and I googled it … it looks pretty icky so I won’t link to it.
We had an early start. 9am flight means getting up at 6am. But check-in was fast and we had breakfast at a local fast food place before getting the train to the airport. I had lounge access but there was only time to run inside, grab a couple of bottles of water and run out again. The flight was only about 20% full so it was very comfortable. We ordered the low calorie meal so we were served first. I watched Shooter which was very good. mm bought a room spray and a kipling bag set.
Our hotel was the M Hotel. It’s the first time I’d stayed there and we loved the room as soon as we got in. Modern, clean, just … comfortable.
My colleague had recommended the hawker centre at Tanjong Pagar for lunch so we walked there. It was HOT and the hawker centre didn’t have air-conditioning so I was dripping all through lunch. We had chicken rice which was okay. I was too hot so I got an ice kacang which helped.
Walked to Chinatown and saw a lot of old styled house. Here’s one with masks along the outside column.
Along New Bridge Road (or South Bridge Road, I can’t remember) we came across a buddhist temple. It turns out that it’s only been open a week. It’s kinda interesting and all, but I can’t get enthusiastic about places of worship for other religions. I respect them and have a detached touristy interest but that’s about it. These are candles they have on a table and people use them to make offerings and pray. Pretty.
After Chinatown we took the MRT to Suntec because I wanted to show mm the Fountain of Wealth. It was fun, and cooling, to walk around the water. Dinner was at Marina Square (yes, all my usual haunts). mm had Korean and I had yong tau foo.
The main attraction for today, and the whole trip, was the visit to the Night Safari. I’ve visited Singapore so many times but I’d saved up the Night Safari visit for mm. It was well worth it. We bought the admissions + tram ticket. First we queued up for the animal show, which was interesting and funny at times. The staff tried, and at one point they opened a trap door on the floor of the bleachers a row down from us and produced a huge python. The people sitting there were screaming and scared. Hee.
The tram brought us around most of the park, and the commentary was good. There were many animals we don’t usually see in zoos. We stopped at the Leopard Trail and followed the route to see the leopards, owls, bats and other animals. Then hopped back onto another tram to complete the route. We got there just before 8pm and left at around 10.30pm, time well spent. I’d go back for sure.
We were tired on the way back but the taxi went pass Lau Pa Sat and I couldn’t resist dragging mm out to try the satay. They close off a side street next to the market at night and there were small stalls selling very delicious satays. We had a plate of 20 small sticks, washed down with teh tarik and we were happy.
Long day. But enjoyable.