The Adventure Continues...

Rants, raves and random observations from an itinerant epidemiologist.

100 in 1000
  1. Spend a week up a mountain learning to ski
  2. Visit Karoline's place in Moravia
  3. Hold a conversation in Czech (only)
  4. Drink 500ml of each of the following beers:
    1. Pilsner
    2. Staroprammen
    3. Budvar
    4. Velke Popovice
    5. U Fleku
    6. Gambrinus
    7. Krusovice
  5. Respond to at least one GOARN request (WHO and MSF are also acceptable)
  6. Travel across the Atlantic
  7. Return to South America
  8. Read a book to, or with, an impressionably aged child
  9. Participate in one NanoWriMo Challenge and come within at least 10,000 words of the goal length
  10. Have my nose pierced
  11. Have my next tattoo drawn
  12. Purchase the perfect jeans (x 2 pairs)
  13. Attend a spin class 3 times a week for 8 consecutive weeks
  14. Bake Viv's cheesecake
  15. Make David's casserole
  16. Make David's Chicken Cashew-nut Stirfry
  17. Invite 4 people who don't know one another too well to dinner
  18. Ride from Vienna to Venice on a motorbike (pillion acceptable, those less desirable)
  19. Attend a book group for at least two books
  20. Go on a choir weekend (learn and perform difficult piece in two/three days)
  21. Visit Madame Tussaud's (in London)
  22. Take an architecture appreciation course
  23. Join an all-girl group and sing a solo
  24. Publish in a scientific journal (top two authors)
  25. Cook a duck or other 'waterfowl'.
  26. Locate the Al-Timimi's from Doha Veterinary Practise
  27. Have a pedicure
  28. Maintain a Brazilian (ouch) for three months.
  29. Find a trustworthy Czech hairdresser
  30. Treat my inner-6-year-old twice a week (at least)
  31. Do the liver-cleansing diet properly (12 weeks)
  32. Don't eat out for one month
  33. Find a flat and flatmate
  34. Purchase one Joseph sweater
  35. Purchase one of the following pairs of designer shoes (they MUST also be COMFORTABLE, and be able to be worn with 4 different outfits and 2 types of occasion): Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutin (Ebay or 2nd hand are acceptable)
  36. Send 5 books to the booksphere and track them.
  37. Go hanggliding
  38. Read 10 'classic' books (from 1001 Books to Read before you Die)
    1. Moll Flanders
    2. Everything is illuminated
    3. Madam Bovary
    4. Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance
    5. Catch-22
    6. Odysseus
    7. On the Road
  1. Run (non-stop!) for 5kms outside (preferably in a street race thingy)
  2. Send Christmas Cards on time
  3. Make a collage/mural out of street lights on my wall
  4. Buy a bed, build it, and sleep soundly in it
  5. Go to Africa
  6. Host an 'event' (classified as and when)
  7. Organise a 30th Birthday Party
  8. Wear a costume
  9. Sing on stage
  10. Buy a painting that evokes memories of Prague (cannot involve queues!)
  11. Learn a god-damned card game that stays in my memory (other than fish/snap)
  12. See sunrise. Be sober. Have woken for it. Excludes months Nov-Mar
  13. Take a walk and flip coins at each intersection
  14. Win something
  15. Draft a will
  16. Take a roadtrip
  17. Go to Italy already
  18. Sea Kayak around Abel Tasman Park (NZ)
  19. Get plants
  20. Take a train to another Eastern European Destination (accession countries are acceptable) alone preferably.
  21. Get UK to give me a provisional motorcyclists license and simultaneously get a 'card' license.
  22. Go SCUBA diving again - at least two dives lasting 30mins each.
  23. Go to a dentist. *sigh*
  24. Do a Czech Wine Trail. And live to tell the tale
  25. Make an 'outbreak emergency kit'.
  26. Go to bed prior to 11pm every night (inc weekends) for four consecutive weeks.
  27. Marvel over lack of tiredness
  28. Dine at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant (or Nobu)- preferably for free.
  29. Bet on the nags
  30. Do something for charity (applying and getting a 'red card' will count)
  31. Walk along the Champs Elysee
  32. Do 100 sit ups in a row
  33. Do 50 pressups (arms in tight)
  34. Make branston pickle (or nearest substitute)
  35. Cook something 'new' and 'adventurous' at least once a month
  36. Find a mentor
  37. Be a mentor
  38. Learn what mentoring is all about
  39. Meet an online person in real life
  40. Resist the flirt. Once. Just one night. It's okay if people don't immediately succumb to my natural charm. Really it is.
  41. Spend time at a spa (spa towns in the CR don't count)
  42. Send a care package to someone
  43. Get a Tata Bojs CD
  45. Order new contact lenses.
  46. Make a list of things I take with me when I pack for different occasions
  47. Eat lobster. Prepared by someone else.
  48. Back up the blog
  49. Put everything onto an external hard drive
  50. Find a DDR mat and console and 'dance, I say dance!'�
  51. Go to the beach and lie on the warm sand. For an hour. (with sunscreen on, natch)
  52. Take and complete a course in either: Tango, Salsa or Flamenco
  53. Join the Municipal Library of Prague
  54. Move to another country
  55. Go to a live concert of a band I actually like
  56. Pay off debts (student loan excl.)
  57. Send thank you cards for every gift I receive (other than the gift of happiness, blah blah blah).
  58. Get an agent (literary or theatre)
  59. Go to a sports bar without cringing, by personal choice
  60. Ride a rollercoaster
  61. Hold a snake
  62. Spend a day wandering around a museum (not art gallery!) long!
Thursday, 20 March 2008

The suspense of standing by a luggage carousel is far greater than that felt in any Alfred Hitchcock movie. Multiply this by the slight dislocation of “should I really be here?” when you know you’re only in the country for a matter of hours – and not likely to breathe any other than the stale airport air – and you’ve got my basic internal feeling in Shanghai.

Shanghai Pudong airport may win the Most Boring Airport In the World (a little known competition, where airports are judged on their merit by a select panel of expatriate brats with snobbish tendencies and low boredom thresholds). There is a coffee shop of the Starbucks feel (though not actually a franchise) where eagle eyed baristas, waitresses and ‘stand-arounders’ leap at you the moment you blearily cross the threshold and simultaneously chorus “gud mawniiinnk”. If THAT isn’t enough to shake the long-haul-daze from your shoulders, then perhaps the peculiar music will sink through the befuddlement.

On the OTHER hand, you CAN find some extraordinary things there. On my way TO New Zealand, I saw signs indicating the presence of a ‘foot massage’. One arrow went to the right. I walked that way. The next arrow I saw indicated I must turn left. There had been no left turn. I had missed it. Somehow.

But, on the way FROM New Zealand, I was more thorough in my search (one might say determined, or perhaps, obsessed, but that’s semantics). Whereupon I did stumble across that which I sought. Only, it wasn’t going to open until an hour prior to my flight. And the foot massage (said the sign) took an hour.

I loitered, flicking through overpriced American magazines at a rack to prevent DVT from pulsing through my veins while in transit. Then…voila…it was opened, in a flurry of efficiency and too many staff. Little did I understand how popular this place was, however, as a bevy of travellers descended, having circled like sharks similar to myself.

I negotiated a better price for a shorter massage – and was shown to my seat. A lady in a cheongsam approached with a menu of ‘foot massage options’, pointing at option D3 (similar to a Chinese restaurant – interesting) which had the ominous title “fish treatment” and declared it the ‘best’. I nodded, shrugged and waited.

A bucket was brought to me. I was informed to sit on the stool and put my feet in the bucket. Buttons were pushed on the side of the bucket for heating the water to a continuous 35oC. And I lowered my slightly abused feet into the water.

Whereupon a shoal of small fish did assume ravenous appetites for my skin.

Seriously. There was I, with my feet up to my calves in a bucket of hot water, with fish nibbling at my feet.

I’m ticklish. I don’t like feet. I didn’t realise I was going to have a hand (foot?) in Piscean cruelty before 9am. And after 15mins of alternatively attempting to mind-over-matter the little gawping guppy mouths into harmless gaseous byproduct bubbles, or concentrating on the shoulder massage I was receiving simultaneously, I had brand new feet.

One fish was dead.* RIP foot-eating guppy.

*in my defence, it was DOA. I did not have a foot in killing that fish.
posted by Nomes @ Thursday, March 20, 2008   1 comments
And so I'm back, from anti-space...
Tuesday, 11 March 2008

It feels as though it was a fleeting visit, but I remember at the time, feeling like I was doing nearly all the things I wanted to. I had a list. I ticked things off.

Number one on that list was getting a tan. Yes – get all up in arms, those of you who’ve lost someone to melanoma, or had bits cut out of themselves to guard against. Then shut the hell up. I’m one too: I’ve had moles removed, and now have weird skin puckers in odd places.

But when one lives in the northerner parts of Europe (i.e. not Cote d’Azur, the Balearics or anywhere south of Marseilles), one simply doesn’t have much opportunity to get rid of the ‘bone damp’. I no longer fluroesce at a disco. In fact, I’m darker than The Fella – who’s half black – so I reckon I did well.

Besides, I only burnt once, and once I’d finished peeling the resulting sheets of skin off my shoulders and décolletage and discarding them for feline consumption (sorry 9!), the resultant skin was too pretty for self-flagellating.

The holiday was sensational. And since I’ve been reprimanded for blog entries of an abominable length, highlights will be imparted to you in drips and drabs.

Piqued? I do hope so.


posted by Nomes @ Tuesday, March 11, 2008   0 comments

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