No posts for three weeks? What the in hell have I been up to? The answer is, erm, I dunno. Well, actually that's not true, I've been working a lot and when I'm not working I've been reading a lot. I started the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon as currently being televised on Starz. My parents got me all of the books for Christmas. I'm currently half way through book 3, Voyager, and about episode 12 in the TV series. I have to say as much as I'm enjoying the TV show, for me the books really are better. It's a big sprawling family saga full of drama, time travel, romance and politics. Even as I type this I can feel part of my mind reaching out to the book... As I've been reading before bed (and on the way to work, at lunch, on the way home, while cooking, while watching movies, during a particularly long instrumental at a gig, in the bath...) I've even been dreaming about the characters and imagining new stories for them, expanding the universe. Despite being interested in Scottish History to the point where I once won a high school essay writing competition about Culloden, I found in the books I was just dying to get back to our hero Claire's own journey and spend less time with the Jacobites. A lot of things happen in the books, even spread across the years Claire and Jamie alone go through more experiences than some entire families do in 3 generations. I can see all of it making excellent TV. The series ramps some stuff up a bit and makes a few choices about tone that were different from what I personally took from the books, but hey writing is art and available to be interpreted in a variety of ways. I can enjoy the show and still keep my book-versions in my head. It's less different than the Game of Thrones adaptation to my mind. The casting for Outlander is pretty perfect to me. It's like an awesome well written high budget sci-fi historical romance soap set in my home country with a bad-ass, brave, driven, dry-witted, but believably flawed heroine and Jamie Fraser - I'm not going to describe the character of Jamie Fraser except to say that his name has now basically become shorthand for a bunch of the best leading man qualities. Keep your Rochester, I'll take a Highlander any day.
I'd watch it for the costumes alone - and having read ahead of the series I'm very excited to see the costumery for the next big location in the series...This week I also had time to go out on a Wednesdate with husband Rockin' Roy dining at Mother India (enjoyed dinner so much I didn't even Instagram it) and then on to see Woodwife at Bar Bloc. I had the Murgh Mussalam (moreish sauce) and Rockin' Roy had the Chicken Tikka (light and zesty). Those glorious Woodwifians are playing another free gig tomorrow - Huzzah! They will be turning up the Gibson Street Gala from half 2 this Sunday as part of the West End Festival.
I was back in the Philippines for work recently and it was a time! The days were long (though possibly average by Asia standards where 12 hours sounds pretty basic and 14 is like totes normal) hot and humid. The food was tasty. Despite putting in these hours with my weak average 40 hour week body I got to socialise a bit (mainly because I don't sleep much). I ignored my jet lag with sheer force of will and drinking a year's supply of coffee.
This was my second visit to the Philippines and I'm still blown away by how friendly the people are. I think I am lucky as because I'm part of a company which has a big 'family' vibe in Manila it's like I am part of that family there. This time I got to see and try some new things including expanding my Filipino food experience. My Manila friend and I found time to get our nails done and have (what turned out to be an incredibly painful but effective) massage. I also got to meet some of her friends and actually hang out and BE friends instead of just work colleagues this time. I also got to visit the University of Santo Tomas for work which was cool. I had very little time to explore on this trip, but I had a great time. It started a little rocky with the Hyatt City of Dreams but ended on a better note. It's a new build and a Casino hotel - not somewhere I might choose, but very close to work. Gambling, meh, never been interested.
Mostly I'm always aware of how much of the country and city I haven't seen yet. One day I will see those islands!
Part two of my trip was a couple of vacation days in Hong Kong visiting friends who are bright ambitious hard working but fun people with a spare room! Score. No matter where they were in the world it would be a pleasure to hang out with them because they are old friends who enjoy a 'big' conversation as much as I do. Also they love culture, food and travel so have a lot of interesting stories to share. It was funny that I was chatting to one of them and we realised we would have been having this same conversation in the villages where we grew up, but now were sitting on the other side of the world on the 18th floor! I'm still recovering from a cricked neck because I spent my entire time in Hong Kong trying to turn my head 360 on a pivot to take everything in. You don't know where to look. The skyscrapers loom above piercing the clouds that lazily drag themselves across the mountains while the streets are a-buzz with skinny trams, buses and red taxis. People flow across the streets. There's a weird harmony to the busyness. Green almond eyed ginger cats recline on joss paper packets and spices dry on the pavement in front of the oldest and newest store fronts in town. A few streets over stone lions gossip to each other in front of shimmering financial towers. Transport is space age efficient, but sitting upstairs on a bubbling tram you feel the clickety clack clickety clack take you back over 100 years.
My gracious hosts gave me a whistle stop tour about central, Hollywood Road, Stanley beach and market, a jaunt on the ferry and dinner at one of the city's oldest noodle bars. I also had a chance to explore solo and head up Victoria Peak alone - really alone, I met not another soul while I walked the few miles around in 30 degree heat leading me to think I was doomed and had gotten lost when suddenly the peak shopping hub appeared and I was like 'oh is that it?!' The views are stunning and I'd love to seem them in all flavours of weather.
Despite having been to a few places in Asia I was not prepared for the heat this time. I coped but it was rough, my body is happy in snowy Northern European winters also I just don't own the kind of wardrobe which works for heat and humidity. As a very curvy tallish woman I had a few dresses from PhaseEight and Coast (Debenhams sales FTW) in kind of stretch jersey material and bright colour prints. These were with either leggings or shorts under. Leggings may seem counter-intuitive but for me Maidenform Lycra actually helped keep the sweat at bay and stay comfortable while walking a lot. I did take a couple of Lady Voluptuous dresses, but cotton in humid heat just don't work sadly. In contrast with my last trip to India and Philippines in September when I stuck to black or blue conservative items this time I went all out colour and felt more myself. I still haven't perfected my long haul flying outfit but I'm getting closer...
I'm still massively humbled by the fact I've been to these places. It was always my dream to travel and I find it incredible I get to do it sometimes. I'm pretty independent, but the only thing was that when I was looking out at these incredible views I found myself turning to the space where Rockin' Roy should be to share it with me. A memory shared is often a memory with a little more colour.