Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wow! It's almost December. It's been a busy last few months. Here's a wrap-up of what I've been up to.

First, I finished my quilt book proposal about a month ago and sent it off to the publisher along with a few sample quilts. I hope that by the end of January I'll hear whether they are going to publish it (or not). In the meantime, I'm still working on sewing up the quilts that I designed for the book.

Second, I recently returned from long trip to Asia (nearly four weeks). We started in Singapore and then flew to Cambodia to see the Angkor Wat temples.

Transportation was primarily via tuk tuk. Imagine our shock when the drivers who met us at the airport were there with tuk tuks!

We flew back to Singapore and boarded a cruise ship. What a wonderful surprise when we found our cabin. We had been upgraded from a mini-suite to a full suite. It made the 16-day cruise (7 port days, 7 sea days, plus embarkation and disembarkation days) an even better experience to have the extra space, a huge balcony, as well as the extra perks that they provide to passengers in suites (free laundry, fresh fruit in the cabin, free Internet, a separate dining room for breakfast so we didn't have to fight the buffet lines, and more!)

Our first stop was Thailand. The flooding had pretty much receded in Bangkok (except during high tide) so we were able to see the highlights of the city.

The next port was Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. Great shopping. Great food. Crazy traffic. We even went to a quilt shop (not for selling fabric, but for selling handmade quilts). One of my travel companions knew about this shop because a friend of hers had been to Saigon to teach local women to make quilts to sell.

We visited another port in Vietnam -- Nha Trang. This is a resort area, but we went into the countryside to see how people live in the more rural areas. This included a visit to a kindergarten. It was fun to see the exuberance of the children -- they are same all over the world. We visited a village market and saw how people work in the rice fields.

Next stop: Hong Kong. I LOVED Hong Kong. Beautiful city. Great shopping. (We shopped mostly at the Ladies Market -- buying leather knock-off purses, iPad covers, iPhone cases, and more.)

Went to the top of Victoria Peak on the tram to see the city from above. Also saw the LDS temple.

And spent the evening watching the lights come on the skyscrapers and then the laser show before returning to our ship and departing for our next port (which was Shanghai).

What can I say about Shanghai? Huge city. Our guide said there are 23 million people, although online lists show it with 17 to 19 million (depending on the list). But regardless of who you believe, it is a huge city. We went to the top of the tallest building in the city and got a good view of all of the skyscrapers, but spent most of our time in the old city shopping (and eating).


Our next port was Nagasaki, Japan. Getting around the city was a snap because of its great streetcar system. We went to the Peace Park which was done to commemorate those who died as a result of the atomic bombing that took place to end World War II in the Pacific. Didn't do much shopping because the shopping areas we were at had pretty much the same stuff as we can get at home.

Our next port was Busan, Korea. We only had a half day in Busan, but we were able to go to the city center and saw the amazing (and huge) Jagalchi fish market. We really wanted to find someplace to eat Korean BBQ while in port, but although we found several restaurants, none of them served Korean BBQ beef. So, we ended up eating a late lunch on the ship.

We disembarked in Beijing, China. After checking into our hotel, we headed to the Pearl Market (which has a lot more than pearls -- although I did buy pearl earrings). We had lunch at a hot pot restaurant which was a fun experience.
And we shopped 'til we dropped. The next two days were spent touring the sights of Beijing -- Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs, and -- the highlight of it all, the Great Wall of China.

After nearly four weeks of travel, I was ready to go home. I had cashed in all of my frequent flyer miles to do my air travel via Business and First Class -- so even the hours spent at 35K feet weren't too bad.

I've done a lot of international travel in my life, and recovering from jet lag from this trip took more than a week. It was brutal. I'm finally sleeping normal hours again.

It was a great trip, although I'm not sure how many of the places I'm dying to go to again (except perhaps Hong Kong). But it was nice to experience Asia since I'd never been there.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, are getting ready for Christmas, and finding time to stitch, sew, bake, shop, or whatever you enjoy doing!
Bye for now.


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