Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This is us on the boat departing for the snorkeling trip on the reef. The big cabana is the buffet and we are passing the arrivals jetty.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Operation Maldives - Part 2

One thing about staying at a resort is that they take care of you. The room had an iPod docking station, no iPod they'll lend you one. Fresh oranges delivered daily so you can make fresh squeezed orange juice, free comfortable flip flops (More comfortable than the ones I bought for the trip!), free wifi, free Internet computers, big 8 foot thirsty bath and beach towels, of course everything for the bathroom even sunscreen lotion if you needed it!

All of this comes at a price. The airport is an island unto itself, there is nothing to do there, its just an airport island. From there you have to take a speedboat to whatever resort you're booked at. The further the island, the more it costs (ka-ching). Seaplanes are a very common way of getting to the further islands (ka-ching ka-ching).

The entree's weren't to over the top expensive, but a dessert might be $11 while dinner was $15, coffee another $5, mineral water $8. You can safely budget $100 per day per person to eat, easily. We didn't go that extreme as we brought food for breakfast, made our fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee in the room (They supply a French press, coffee and hot water maker!)


The waves at the surf break were incredible. Huge tubes that rolled forever. There were boats that took the surfers out behind the break and it was neat watching them jump in one after the other and ride the tubes. I had to hand it to them they were brave.

I had to try one myself with my body board. I made it out to the second set of waves and caught the shoulder of one and rode it in, right into a bad rip tide. The water was shallow and the bottom covered in rocks, it was scary trying to get out. Scary is not the word, frightening.
I managed to get out but I got banged up from falling down over and over. I was convinced I wouldn't go out again but I ran into an older (63) California businessman I had befriended and he was going out on his surfboard, he wanted me to go out with him, more for safety than anything else. He made it out to the last set of breakers, I turned around and rode some very fast whitewater back in. The waves were so huge when I got up on them, I couldn't do it.


The resort offers a daily snorkeling trip where they take you out to a reef. We were to late to sign up but there was a paid snorkeling trip with a marine biologist. They would take us out to two reefs. Chris had never been snorkeling so we checked out the equipment and I gave her a quick lesson and when we got to the villa we heard our phone ringing, I knew that meant we were late for the boat. We made it to the dock in time but didn't get a chance to buy a underwater camera (Probably ka-ching!).

The boat took us out to the reef, and we all jumped in with fish identifier cards in hand. It had been years since I had seen such beautiful coral and fish.

Went to the second reef which was right off of another resort (Well every island in the Maldives is a resort). This reef had more fish. I would bump into Chris and she would show me her fish card and point at the fish we could make out. It was a fun trip.

End of Part 2

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The Greatest Generation Speaks by Tom Brokaw
272 pages
Non fictions

I read "The Greatest Generation" a few years ago (Travel book) and enjoyed it, so I was interested when I found this. So basically it's more stories from people who were featured in the book and from people who read the book and how it may have changed the lives of family member who fought in WWII and maybe never spoke up about it.

Overall a good weekend read.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Speedboat Back from Kandooma (Maldives)

This was way cool!

Operation Maldives - Part 1

Three days in the Maldives Islands and what can I say but wow! This has by far been the best vacation I have ever had bar none. This place was designed for nothing but total relaxation.
Expensive, oh yes, but worth every dime because of all the 'No's', the 'No's'?
We probably wore our flip flops 10% of the time we were there.

The adventure wasn't totally without a glitch. First we flew Emirates air as we heard that they usually offered a complimentary company upgrade, well we didn't get one out of Colombo but no big deal as even economy class was very roomy and they did give us finger sandwiches and drinks. It was only an hour flight so no big deal.

When we arrived the Holiday Inn staff told us that the tides were to high for them to safely take us to the island and they would have to put us up at the Holiday Inn on Male for a night. We took the speedboat over there and they put us up in a nice room. We checked out the hotel, pretty cool. Roof top lounge with swimming pool and a state of the art gym that we made use of the next morning. A fantastic breakfast was comped for us and I made use of the egg and waffle chef quickly! This was also our first introduction into how expensive the Maldives is. Coffee, cappuccino and pastry $17, the pastry was only $2!

Someone found us at breakfast and told us the boat would be ready to take us after breakfast.
We packed up and walked out to the dock with someone from the Holiday Inn.

The boat ride over took about 45 minutes. They offered us cold mint infused towels to refresh ourselves and cold beverages. No alcohol. The Maldives is a Islamic country but some resorts pay a license fee to serve alcohol, the Holiday Inn Resort was one of them.

Thanks to the twin Yamaha 200 HP engines we arrived in good time and I wasn't sea sick!

We were directed to a waiting area with lime soda drinks waiting for us. Someone came by and checked our names off on the list, guess who's name wasn't on the list! The staff was quick with apologies and assured me that they would take care of everything.

Soon we were walked out to our place. The man taking us there points to one side and said "These our are garden view villas, this is where we usually put our guests, but your not going there" "I have upgraded you two villas up from this" The second would be the garden view duplexes, and after that the beach view duplexes but even better are the detached villas which we got!

End of part 1

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Vietnamese Dinner

Just returned from all I can say is quite possibly the best meal we have had so far in Sri Lanka!

Colombo is currently holding a World Spice Festival and all of the hotels and fancy restaurants have selected a country and in some cases brought a chef from that country to make something special.

Chris and I went to the outdoor festival and was not impressed. All the food was very generic and we didn't sample anything. So when Chris told me about one of the hotels serving Vietnamese I was a bit skeptical. We both love Vietnamese food and the curiosity got the best of me.

We went to the hotel and found the restaurant (They have three) and conversed with the manager a bit.

After taking our drink orders we browsed the buffet and wow and double wow. First nothing had been touched so the display was extraordinary, you just wanted to dive in. But what caught our breath was the Pho' (Vietnamese soup) station complete with a Vietnamese chef.

We started off with cheese dishes sampling a little bit of everything, bree and plums, yum!

Next was the salads, plural, I can't even begin to describe the many different salads with calamari and tuna and even dried sardines. Honestly I think the salads may have fallen closer to a Mediterranean style, but very good. The shrimp rolls in rice paper wrap was so good and the peanut sauce had a mild kick to it.

We then had to go for the Pho' and it did not disappoint. There was a sous chef that added the accoutrements which was a little different as your typical Pho restaurant has this on the table.

Afterwards we made a platter of the hot dishes. Incredible. Meat falling off the bones of the pork ribs and a fish that had you wanting more and more.

Could we do another round of Pho', maybe more salads. I was thinking of a few more shrimp rolls or do we just do what we both knew we wanted to do...yes, hit the desert line.

The deserts are in little portions so you can sample a little of each without feeling guilty. I'm not even going to try to describe the deserts, so good!

The bill didn't hurt so bad, worth every penny. Live lounge music played all night with many of our favorite tunes. It wasn't crowded and just scant few tourists. Two and half hour dinner, gotta love it!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The 5th Horseman (Women's Murder Club) by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
484 pages
Detective Thriller

Right on the heels of me saying how cliche it is to read Patterson novels, I finish reading yet another one.

My review? What can I say, it's a Patterson novel.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our Latest Addition

So off a whim I was looking at 'Deuce and half' military trucks on eBay, don't ask me why, bored I guess. Mentioned one of then for sale in my hometown to my father in law who was interested and asked that I look at the DRMO (Defense Re-utilization Management Office), big acronym for the place that auctions off all of the old military stuff.

So after a quick search I found the site and sure enough plenty of 'Deuce and half' trucks. But then I saw something that I thought would be of much more interest, especially if we could get one at a good price, a pop up camper.

There was 4 for sale in Portsmouth, Virginia. Most likely used by the Morale Welfare and Recreation office to rent to Navy families, my best guess.

I did my research and saw that the average price of these models on the Internet averaged $4500+. We decided we would go halves on one and set a price limit.

It was a 24 hour auction so I wanted to wait until the last minute to bid, unfortunately that would be 4:00am here!

Around 11:00am I decided I wasn't going to stay up, I placed my maximum bid and went to sleep.

Chris woke me up early in the morning and told me I had been outbid, there was an hour left until the end of the auction. I said it was time to roll up our sleeves and fight!

The camper I wanted (3 was of one model and 1 was gaining higher bids so as far as I knew it must have been better), the next bid would put us out of our range. Time to pick another camper.

At one minute till the end of the auction I placed my highest bid and clicked 'OK', I was the highest bidder! Yeah! Then it showed that there was 15 minutes left in the auction! WHAT! Some sort of strange rule about last minute bids. So I nervously waited for the 15 minutes to count down and when it showed that the auction would end in ANOTHER 15 minutes! That was that, I closed my netbook and went to sleep.

When I woke up Chris said that we had indeed one the auction!

What did I get? A 2003 Coleman (Fleetwood) Santa Fe. According to the NADA Blue Book the high retail on this is $3030 with no options selected as I don't know what options it has! I have only seen the pictures with it closed.

How much? With 10% 'Buyers Premium' the total cost was $1277 which is exactly the high amount we wanted to pay (Of course it was going to work out that way). Being that we went halves with my father in law it cost that much less for us. He is going to pick it up and get it cleaned up and titled.

Funny thing is Chris and I were never really excited about camping, but when we saw the pictures of this pop up on web sites we realized that this would make a cool alternative to blowing money at hotels when we are home and we can stay at campgrounds near the beach.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Skinny Dip by Carl Hiassen
368 pages

The first thing that hits you when your reading this book is that you think that you are reading a Dave Barry book. It is a funny laugh out loud book. I couldn't put it down.

The Chinese Dinner

A lady at work has been inviting groups of people to go to a Chinese restaurant and eat a family style dinner and Chris and I keep forgetting time and time again. This time I said we wouldn't forget it. I even made a calendar reminder that sent me an email although I didn't need it.

We went with her the restaurant and the first neat thing was that we got our own private dining room, even had it's own bathroom.

The table had a big glass ring in the middle that rotated around (Ala lazy susan).

Another couple and family joined us for a total of 8 adults and 3 children.

Our host ordered multiple things for us off the menu.

The food kept coming and coming and was placed on the glass ring and we would just turn it and scoop some food on on our plates or take some soup and continue.

This was not your $8.99 Chinese buffet food, this was authentic Central China food. In case your wondering, yes, they had Chinese cooks.

It was very delicious and not overly spicy. There were plenty of dishes to even satisfy the vegetarian's amongst us.

The wait staff was quick to clear the table and pour cup after cup of green tea,

After it was all said and done the bill came to about $86USD. Absolutely incredible.

We are definitely going to be doing this more often!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Plenty Enough Suck To Go Around by Cheryl Wagner
224 pages
Non Fiction
Personal Stories

I picked this one up off a whim after reading the front cover for Chris, she read it and said it was good, then I read it.

The book is a collection humorous stories of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and recovering from a flooded home. The author and her husband saw pretty much everything they own get destroyed, their neighborhood become crime riddled and just all in all their attitudes about everything changing.

I am also a horrible book reviewer which is usually why I just get to the point whether or not I liked the book ; )

I noticed that other New Orleans residents were the harshest critics of this book.

Granted the authors writing didn't always flow very well, but overall it comes together.

A good weekend read and you can find it used and cheap on Amazon.

I'm going with a good read.