Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Black and White Masquerade Ball

My friend, Fiona, and I went to the Australian Black and White Masquerade Ball a couple weekends ago. We brought along two masks each - one that tied and one we held up with a stick. We also tried on other masks (like the robot one). This was my first ball over here other than the ones thrown by my school and it was a good excuse to get dressed up. It was a great night and we had lots of fun!

My favorite mask:
We had dessert. It was milk and white chocolate cleverly shaped into a mask. So, before we ate it, we took photos with it.

We also took some pictures on the Caterpillar tractor that was there. Why was there a tractor at the ball? Well, there was a bunch of beer in the scoop on the front, of course!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It is Hot in Thailand!

I finally got down to Thailand for Spring Break to go diving and get some warm sun. My friend, Sara, and I flew down to Bangkok after school on Friday, March 19th.

We had a few hours in the middle of the night to kill so we decided it was worth it to check into a hotel and get some sleep. At our hotel, we got free water. It was labeled and everything:

The next morning, bright and early, we hopped on our next flight to Phuket.

We arrived in Phuket with a few more hours to kill but this time, we got to spend them during the day. We walked from the airport to the nearby beach and relaxed on the beach until it was time to head back to the airport for our pick-up.

The diving we planned would take place from a liveaboard so we were picked up from the airport and taken to the dock about a hour or so away. This was our first liveaboard and Sara's first dive trip. She did her 'pool' dives in the aquarium here in Beijing and finished her certification on this trip.

We met the rest of the people on the boat and had our briefing while we rode from the dock to the Similan Islands where we would do dives first thing in the morning.

Early the next morning, we had a snack, had a dive briefing, and got all our gear on. I love 82 degree water. We saw a frog fish. They can be hard to spot.
While we ate breakfast, I mentioned that I had never seen a cuttlefish even though I had been on dives where others saw them and that I really hoped to see one here. We got geared up again and hopped in for our second dive. And what do you know? Look what I saw:

While I was getting excited about seeing the first one, I looked over my shoulder and a second one swam right by my head! As soon as I surfaced, I said, "Okay, I've never seen a Manta Ray!"

Next dive, I had some trouble with my right ear, but the dive went okay and we saw some more great sealife.

I passed on the night dive, hoping my ear would feel better in the morning. In the morning, I decided to give the first dive a try because it was a shallow one and I could always come back up if things were not working out well. We saw a turtle who didn't seem to mind all of us watching him for a while and more fish.

My ear was not better though and was actually getting worse. This ended up being my last dive of the trip. Four out of the fourteen dives I had planned on was a big disappointment, but when your ear won't equalize, you can't dive. This was Monday morning though, so I was stuck on a dive boat until Wednesday night. At least the food was good thanks to this cook:
I spent the time reading, relaxing, napping, and taking pain killers for my ear. Ouch. Sara had a great time though and loved her experience diving. Here's where I spent time:
After our boat days, we were dropped off at our hotel for three more nights in Phuket. Our hotel was right on the beach and had several pools as well. This picture was taken from our balcony. You can see the ocean not far away.

I was able to get in to the doctor on Friday morning when I found out that I did indeed have an ear infection and was given some medications to help me get through it and make it go away.

I loved walking on the beach, swimming in the warm water, and listening to the waves crashing. The sunrises and sunsets were beautiful.

My ear was finally able to equalize in time for our flights back home on Saturday. While we were gone, Beijing had more snow and a huge sandstorm! I'm glad I missed looking out my window and seeing this:
Instead I got to walk on a sandy beach and look at this:

Sara and I had a great time!

P.S. More photos at flickr.