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Posts Tagged ‘jet lag’

Woke up to this view this morning. Tokyo, laid out in all her high rise glory. It’s a beautiful, hazy day, and as I go about my morning “hotel room” ritual (making tea with dodgy creamer, selecting work outfit from scattered case innards) I am looking forward to my second 24 hours in this intriguing city.
Tokyo morning
We landed yesterday at 7am and the challenge was on, after not sleeping at all on the 12 hour flight, we had to stay awake until bedtime to have any chance of beating the evil jet lag that hits you when you travel East.

We got to our hotel, The Celestine, by about 8 and had 4 hours before we could check in, so we headed to the subway (which was a fun experience!) and over to Shibuya Crossing, to grab a coffee and muffin with a view of the famous intersection, where we watched the flocks of commuters and human traffic gather on the sides of the roads before peeling out onto the crossing when the green man told them to go.

From there we meandered around the back streets, checking out the weird and wonderful cafes, karaoke emporiums and incredible clothes shops, stacked high with weird and wonderful “youth” attire, every now and then contemplating whether I could get away with some daisy-rimmed sunglasses, or an ice-cream shaped handbag.

We managed to while away a good couple hours people watching, street strolling, and getting lost in the awesome department store (if that is what it is) called Tokyo Hands. This giant stacked building full of “everything you didn’t know you ever wanted”. We visited the Costume Floor, the Personal Stationary Floor, and a floor that seemed to stock contraptions to give yourself a non surgical face lift. Who knew this stuff was even invented?

Then it was time to head back to the hotel to check in and have a much needed shower.

After check in I met my colleague Lucy in the business centre to get some work done (this is a business trip). We put together our presentation for tomorrow and washed it down with several gallons of delicious green tea.

In the afternoon we headed to our office for a meeting, the jet leg was kicking in to full affect and several hours later we emerged into the fading Tokyo evening, in search of a final few minutes of Vitamin D and some hot sweet coffee from a nearby vending machine.

We walked towards Tokyo Tower, the great orange Eiffel Tower like structure poking up into Tokyo’s evening sky, and had a lovely promenade around the Shiba Koen Park. Taking in some fat cherry blossoms and a beautiful tended garden along the way. Then darkness fell and the Tokyo I’d been waiting to meet, in all its neon blinking glory, started to spring into life. We picked a rather random doorway into a cafe to grab some dinner, trying to find the one with the least about of business men (salary men) sitting on chairs up at the bar in. And we then ordered what I like to call “Japas” – Japanese Tapas, or a very strange selection of small dishes from the bizarre menu. A pasta dish with avocado pesto and prawns, a very garlic buttery shrimp and octopus dish, some “burdock sticks”, and a beer. Yum!

Then it was time, with very heavy eyes, to head home, glancing for one final time at the Tokyo Tower, which was now lit up in bright luzocade orange lights. To those very inviting white linen sheets at the Celestine, we’d made it through to 9pm. I cracked open some mini bar M&Ms for pudding, started reading my TimeOut and feel asleep as the Tokyo skyline outside my window twinkled and blinked neon into the night.

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Sunrise
This morning I’m waking up to the crashing of waves on a long and wild Atlantic coast. Thanks once more to jet lag, I’m also up early enough to experience a beautiful sunrise that should be shared.

I’m on Kure beach, in Wilmington, North Carolina, spending a lucky weekend, snatched in front of a business trip, with two good friends. We’re staying in a condo – a beach house, in a long line of perfectly painted houses that stretch along this patch of coast. It is a dream of mine to live in a beach house (ever since falling in love with the house in Sleeping with the Enemy!), and now, for a couple of days, I am living the dream!

There are small clutches of fishermen strung out along the shore and a few early risers walk in the foam. A flock of bird skims the pink water, reflecting back our beautiful sunrise. And I’m perched on a wicker chair, breathing in the wet, salty sea air, thinking of friends and family out over the ocean, who could also be looking up at this same sun (if it’s not cloaked in clouds!) and already be well into their days.

Good morning sunshine, good morning world, I hope you have a wonderful day!

Beach houses on Kure
sunrise on Kure

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It’s just after midnight, local time. The air is heavy with the thick damp heat of the tropics. I’m relaxed. I’m sitting in the dark by the pool, my feet dipping into the cool silky water. The only light available that of the big, full moon. The moon here is huge.  We first saw her peeping through the clouds as we rounded one of the mountainside bends between Patong and Karon.
We’d left behind the neon party that was getting into full swing in Patong and searching for our garden escape.
Now I’m here, 100% relaxed, limbs heavy, head dreamy. Partly the climate, that Thai vibe, jasmine fragance in the air, the carcophany of frog bleeps from the trees. Partly the Chang beer that washed down the most divine Tom Ka Gai earlier tonight.
While I have the excuse of jet lag meddling with my body clock I steal the opportunity of a midnight swim. Silently slipping into the dark cool waters, gazing up at my Thai moon.
This is living in the moment. This is being present.
This is my third trip to Thailand, the last two happening over 10 years ago. Things will have changed. And although I have yet to see this land in the light since I was last here all that time ago, I have a feeling my love for Thailand remains true. It really is a special place that stirs distant magical memories and tempts with new ones just around the corner.
Enough dreaming, time for that swim…

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My Thai full moon

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Neon Patong

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One of the positive side effects of jet lag is that for a short time it allows me to become a “morning person”.  And some days (like today) that means that I get to experience those first blissful moments in a big exotic city where it lies still. This morning I am in Las Vegas, in this ridiculously large hotel room (for me, anyway) which offers an almost panoramic view out to the desert.

Yes, there are miles of strip malls and a few gigantic casino hotels dotted on that horizon, as well as some serious roads snaking around them with small bugs of cars crawling along as they make their morning journeys, but these lie flat and don’t disturb my beautiful morning picture-postcard. The light is a soft yellow at this hour and over in the distance I can see the mighty rocks that form the canyons and valleys of the Nevada desert, surrounding Las Vegas as it sits in its scorched dust bowl. It’s breath-taking. Despite the concrete, despite the cars, despite the subdued neon. It feels incredibly peaceful and a stark reminder that this city wasn’t always here.

I’m excited. I have a few hours before I’m due to meet with my fellow Vegas explorers, so I’m going to jump in the word’s deepest bath, put on my new Elvis specs, and head out for a morning stroll down the strip…

Las Vegas view

 

Window view of Las Vegas (day)

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Do you sometimes have those moments when your heart is just bursting with love for the world? And for no reason? I do.

Heart shaped worldI was on my flight home from New York yesterday morning, it was pretty early and I was in a bit of a zombie state, I had discovered that I had three seats to myself for the flight home, so I was busy making my den across the seats, blankets, pillows, a full set of movies and my kindle close by. I was in heaven. There was a really cute girl, probably around 4 or 5, and she was walking up the aisle and making friends with people. Smiling, shiny eyed, completely innocent and carefree. So cute. I swear I nearly cried.

Today, back in the UK, I had to walk to the post office and I took a short cut through the park, the leaves look amazing, all scattered on the floor. I saw a beautiful deep red leaf, perfectly formed, on the ground, then another, and another, and I just couldn’t stop looking at them. Thinking that something so beautiful could exist in the world filled my heart with joy. I nearly cried again.

To beat the impending jet lag, I just went along to my local meditation spot, InnerSpace, and attended a talk called “Why Women Believe in God” by author Liz Hodgekinson. It turned out to be more of a discussion and was pretty interesting. Lots of ideas around women needing to be pushing to be at the top of organisations – in industry, commerce and in the church and other places of faith. It kicked up a few interesting debates.

One of Liz’s opening statements was about how we live in a world which is more greedy and more violent than ever. I had an immediate reaction to this and challenged it. I was curious to know how she was measuring violence and greed and how she knew it was worse than ever. I agree that with the global ecomonic crisis and most recent wars that we have made huge mistakes and developed the most ferocious weapons, but has the fundamental desire for things and want to hurt people increased overall? We also are the most educated, communicative, connected population ever, more people than ever give to charity and work to help others, there is more empathy than ever before… is that taken into account?

Feminism posterAnother thing that emerged was her opinion about women needing to be looked after, thus putting them in a postition of weakness. Again, I was unsure of this, firstly don’t men need to be looked after? Aren’t they looking for a mother replacement when they get married (slightly controversial). That didn’t go down too well, but the most inflammitory conversation happened when the idea of “motherhood” came up. Liz doesn’t like that idea – it should be “parenthood”. I’m all for equal involvement of parent’s in a child’s upbringing, but she was very anti the role of mother – believeing that it oppresses women and prevents them from getting to the top. It felt like she was opening attacking the women in the room who were mothers for making the choice. Fiesty! I made the statement that I am having a career, I want children, and when I do have them I want to be able to have the choice (and take the choice) to be a mother for them 100% of the time, if I want to, and I don’t believe that that opinion has been placed in my mind by a man. She disagreed.

One final comment was made at the end by one of the few men in the room, which really resonated, that the important thing is that your actions and decisions come from a place of love, and not anger. It was timely and sits with me. The whole way through I felt like all my opinions and views in that discussion came from a place of love. Defending the world (which I love), our society (which does have good in it) and mothers (who I respect). The author was very much of the Janet Street Porter, Germanie Greer mould, she was interesting as well as quite closed to other’s opinions and very aggresive in defending her ideas. I am really facsinated and intrigued by these women, and I appreciate their contribution to the world of feminism, however they seem a little out-dated and less emotionally connected to the world (and the next generation of women) in which we now live.

I don’t know whether I consider myself a feminist. Labels freak me out. I know I’m an optimist, and am happy with that. I’d like to think I have a slither of feminism in my make up as I love the strength and creativity and power that seems unique to women, but on this occasion, I’ll have to pass on buying LIz’s book and instead take the comment from the gentleman in the corner. Come from a place of love.

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I was up bright and early yesterday, 6am on a Saturday (very early for me). I had a bus and a plane to catch. 24 hours later I was dancing to some hot soul tunes at an underground cafe in Greenwich Village, holding a bright green drink and thinking that I really should get home to bed. The city that never sleeps had beaten me.

I’m back in New York, having moved my trip back a week due to Hurricane Sandy, for work, and getting my slither of ‘down time’ on my arrival weekend. On landing in JFK there were random piles of snow, which gave away the unusual weather fronts that have been battering this shore, and the air was strangely warm. Or at least I thought so, I was in my tshirt whilst the locals were all wrapped up in puffa jackets and woolly hats!

Of course the sensible thing to do would be to have a short power nap at my hotel before heading out, but I could feel tha adrenalin rush of just being in the city. Just knowing that I’m in a hotel when New York is waiting for me outside is too much to bear, so I changed tack and decided to try and beat the jet lag by just staying up as long as I can.

Darth Vader TinI love walking the streets of Manhattan. I play the Green Man game, following him as he blinks at every corner. Weaving my way through the grid. How long will he guide me along Madison until he flings me off down a cross-street? So I walked. I headed to the New York Cake & Baking Distributor on West 22nd to purchase some food colouring ready for my Rainbow Cake. This place is insane. It has every kind of cake shape tin, cookie cutter, food colouring, cake embellishment and baking gadget you can possibly imagine. I was distracted by the aisles of amazing stuff. I think I got off lightly with only buying one more thing than I intended – a space rocket cookie cutter WOW.

Empire State Building and Broadway marketsMy next shooping mission was my ritual knicker shop, working my way back up to chaos central – 34th street and Broadway and over to Victoria’s Secret. This place is a knicker-and-glitter disney land. It’s so pink and so glittery and so sickly. But I just love their pants. So an hour or so later (and a queue longer than the one at immigration…) I emerged with certainly more than I intended. Enough knickers to stay 2 weeks!

After a quick change (wonderwoman style) back at the hotel I decided to walk the 24 blocks (!) down to the Village where I was meeting an old bellydance friend and her fiance for dinner. They took me to a “Vegetarian Soul Food” restaurant called Red Bamboo, and we ordered huge plates of fake meat. (Not)Chicken Wings, (not) satay sticks (not)beef thai curry (not)Chicken sandwich. It was really tasty but sent my head into a spin. It looked like meat, it kind of tasted like meat, but it wasn’t. My head was not computing and I felt like I was eating some kind of science experiment. A delicious one, though.

Cafe Wha musicianThen we rolled around the corner to Cafe Wha. THis place rocked. It was an underground jazz/funk/soul joint. We ordered cocktails and watched the warm up act – one of the funniest (and most outrageous) comedienes I have ever heard in my life, just gutted I can’t remember her name… THEN came the music which was incredible – really funky covers from some of the most talented musicians and singers, so funky the place was jumping and we were all up on our feet dancing into the early hours.

So if you want to beat the jet lag, get your ass to Cafe Wha…

This morning I had plans to go to the Natural History Museum. There’s an exhibition called Creatures of Light, about the world of bioluminescence, which I really want to go to. I also fancy the “Night in the Museum” tour where you see all the exhibits from the film. But after an exhausted 24 hours yesterday and the hugely cash-zapping ‘cafe wha cocktail bar tab + knicker free for all’ of yesterday, I thought I’d trap myself in my hotel room and lock my wallet in the safe. New York’s still out there though, tapping on my hotel window. Oh, I can’t resist, it’s time to have one more round of the Green Man game…

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