Monday, February 14, 2011

Birthday and Bintan

It's been an exciting 72 hours for the girls of Room 10, Hall 3! I celebrated my 20th birthday on February 11 (but really all week long) and had a great time. Thank you so much to all of my family and friends back home for sending letters and packages - you made my day extra special! Although, I now have a permanent stomach ache from all of the American candy I received. Regardless, I love and miss you all.

I had class all day long on Friday, my actual birthday. Of course I wore a tiara to my classes and told every single stranger I passed that I was the Birthday Princess. Most people just stared and nodded. Things got awkward real fast when I walked into my upper-level lecture ten minutes late wearing a birthday crown. Luckily I made a few new friends who appreciated my "American charisma," as they called it.

Friday night I went out for dessert and drinks to Brewerkz, my favorite American restaurant in Clarke Quay, with my friends. I wore a bright red dress, crown and glitter heels. I had chocolate cake and my friends sang Happy Birthday to me. The waiter gave me many drinks and we all had a great time. After dessert, Leah and I went to the club for another night of endless partying. We made it back to school in the early morning and only slept for about 2 hours. Saturday morning, around 10 am, we were off to Bintan, Indonesia for some more birthday fun!

Meredith, me, Rachel and Leah in Clarke Quay

The Birthday Brat!

We took an hour ferry ride from Singapore to Bintan. When we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted with two free drinks. Our Canadian friends, Chrissy and JJ, had called the hotel and told them it was my birthday and treated us to welcome drinks. What a great way to start off!

We actually made it!!

Little jellyfish-like things floating in my cocktail... 
The hotel was absolutely beautiful. We spent the rest of the day at the beach laying out, playing in the ocean and searching for sea shells. It was truly perfect. We had 8 o'clock dinner reservations at the Kelong Restaurant, a romantic seafood place on the water. Leah and I got a few funny stares because all of the other restaurant guests were clearly couples. We had a great meal of chicken, broccoli and rice with our favorite Jasmine Green Tea drinks.

Standing in front of the South China Sea

My sand dollar souvenirs I found

The Kelong Restaurant

At night we checked out La Luna, the club on the beach. The staff was very friendly and we met a nice guy from Paris. We were exhausted from Friday night so we left the club and walked along the beach to our hotel. We slept in late the next morning and headed over to the Resort Centre for our 30 dollar, hour-long massages.

Frolicking in the South China Sea

Things got awkward real fast when the massage therapist told me to undress. I did as she told and lied down with a towel over me. When she came back in, she lifted the towel and shrieked. I guess I wasn't supposed to COMPLETELY undress because she was yelled, "Ah! Where is your underwear?!" I was mortified. She laughed at me and warned  Leah's massage therapist. Of course Leah had made the same mistake as me. We were all laughing although my poor massage therapist is probably scarred for life. Oops!

Pre- massage mishap
After our massage we wandered around the resort Centre for a while. We literally stumbled onto an Elephant Park during our wandering. It was unbelievable! The staff approached us and asked us if we wanted pictures with the elephants. We were so excited! We got to sit on the elephants and I even stuck my arm in the elephant's mouth. We touched their beautiful ivory tusks while the staff members documented the whole experience. It was the highlight of our trip and the best part was it was totally free!

Meeting Emma, a 27 year old Indonesian elephant

Three beautiful ladies

Emma's headshot. She's such a star.

We spent the rest of the day back at the beach and pool. When we were at the beach, a group of local Indonesian young girls approached us and asked to take their picture with us. Right when we were standing up, a security guard came running out and chased them away. Leah and I were really confused. An hour later when we were walking down the beach, the girls approached us again and asked for pictures. Right when they left, an Indonesian family approached us and asked to take a picture too! The woman literally threw her baby at me (who was screaming) and snapped a few shots. It was bizarre and we were taken off guard. We have two theories as to why they wanted our picture: 1) They don't see western people often or 2) They thought we were famous. Either way, it was a really weird moment.

Obligatory cheesy beach photo shoot

Now I am back "home" at NTU in Singapore. It's been a birthday I'll always remember! I have a full week of classes ahead of me and am right in the thick of school work. I am really enjoying all of my classes. I am specifically loving my Integrated Marketing class and Creative Strategies class. We are learning the fundamentals of marketing and advertising. My professors are great and it is so interesting comparing American and Singaporean cultures in a business context.

I apologize for the long blog post, but I have a lot to say! In two weeks, Leah and I are spending four days in Koh Phi Phi Don, Thailand. We are staying in bamboo huts right on the beach and can't wait!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chinese New Year

To say my life is eventful would be an understatement. Sometimes I literally have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. Where are the hidden MTV cameras? I am so blessed!

Last Friday, I was contacted by an NTU student named Wenxu who spent a semester at Elon two years ago. We exchanged contact information and he invited Leah and I out for dinner. We were so excited that he took us to an American restaurant in Clarke Quay called Brewerkz because we had been eyeing that restaurant the few times we'd been in Clarke Quay. In true American fashion, I ordered a cheeseburger, onion rings and beer. It was exactly what I needed after eating chicken rice and dumplings all week. It was great to talk to Wenxu about his experience at Elon and I was so happy to hear he had a great time.

Cheeseburgers, beer & onion rings = one happy girl.

Leah and me with our new friend Wenxu!

Saturday night, my new girlfriends and I hit the clubbing scene. We've had a lot of fun every time we'd gone out clubbing last week and this weekend was no exception. We went to a club called Zouk because a special guest DJ named Gareth Emery was performing. We had never heard of him before but had a great time.

DJ Gareth Emery!

The crew

Leah and me cabbing it back to campus, circa 5:30 am.

Today, Wednesday, is Chinese New Year. Wenxu invited Leah and me to spend Chinese New Year with his family for a traditional Chinese meal. Boy, were we in for a surprise. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced. No one in his family except his sisters spoke English. It was a vegetarian meal and I ate things I'd never seen before. It was a far cry from American food.

No idea what anything on my plate is. 
At the end of the meal, the waitress brought out this plate of a mixture of foods. Everyone at the table stood up and dug their chopsticks into the dish and threw the food up in the air. It is Chinese tradition to do this every New Year dinner.

Before the chaos.

Chinese people chanting and throwing food in the air? I'll take it.
Us with Wenxu and his younger sister

Us with Wenxu's grandmother. She gave us money packets to wish us a prosperous new year!
After dinner, we walked through Little India to an inexpensive supermarket where we could buy souvenirs. On the way, I started to feel sick - really sick. I had to leave the supermarket in search for a bathroom because I could feel myself starting to get nauseous. There were no bathrooms in sight and I ended up getting sick in an alleyway. It was disgusting but hilarious. Singapore has all these crazy extreme laws and I was nervous that I was going to get punished for throwing up in public. Wenxu's sister informed me that because I threw up in a sewer, I was in the clear. HAH.

I was starting to feel a little better and we got a bus back to Wenxu's apartment. We all sat in his living room and watched Singaporean soap operas, which were ridiculous. His mother gave us oranges and little packets of money, both of which are given as wishes for prosperity and good health. Since it is the year of the rabbit, she also taught us how to make little rabbits out of towels. It was adorable.

With our new gifts

My towel bunny is the one on the left... obviously the sloppy one.
Most of our friends are traveling this week because we have no class on Thursday or Friday. Leah and I plan on spending the time exploring the rest of Singapore. It has been raining nonstop for the past 8 days, so we've got our fingers crossed for a sunny day to spend at Sentosa!