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Posts Tagged ‘Work Trips’

I can’t believe it’s been 9 – 10 months since I’ve posted in this blog.  One thing that I’ve learned about myself over the past year is that I’m not a very disciplined blog writer.

Despite not much happening on the blog, I have been doing a fair bit of travelling for work since my post in January.  I’ll give you the abbreviated run-down.

Ukraine

This was my second trip to Ukraine within the past couple of years.  The difference between my 1st and 2nd trip was  – actually, there wasn’t much of a difference.  Lots of snow, lots of vodka, and lots of fur (one day I counted 97 people wearing full-on fur coats).   Despite the not-so-great food, Ukraine is still home to one of my all time favorite restaurants appropriately titled ‘The Ukrainian Restaurant’.  It’s like Christmas threw up in a hunting lodge.

Inside the Ukrainian Restaurant

Cold Day in Kiev

I still need to write about my visit to Chernobyl, but that deserves a post of it’s own.

 Turkey

I had not been to Turkey since Kelly and I were there backpacking in 2010 and the second time just reinforced how much I love this country, particularly Istanbul.  Much like my work trip to Thailand, I got to see a different side to the city – the 5-star hotel and fine dining side.  The food, people, and sights were incredible and my coworker and I were seriously considering just not coming home.

Not only did I make several new friends this trip, I got to meet up with an old one as well. Kelly and I met Rahim during our first week in Turkey and ate several fine meals and had many drinks at his fabulous restaurant, Adonin, near the Blue Mosque.  Due to the power of Facebook, I managed to stay in touch with him over the past couple of years and my coworker and I were able to pay Rahim a visit and again have a late night of dinner, drinks, and ‘dancing’.

Brazil

I’ve been fortunate enough to go to Brazil twice in the last few months for work.  I had never been before and was thrilled to be able to go (and to not have to foot the bill for the $180 visa).

I visited several cities while I was there – Sao Paulo, Curitiba, and Porto Allegre – but my favorite was Rio de Janiero.  Despite the fact that it was winter there and the weather didn’t cooperate as often as I would have liked, I did manage to have a couple of sunny warm days and was able to hit up Sugarloaf and the Christo statue and walk along the amazing beaches.  I must say that Rio is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.  It’s this enormous metropolis with millions of people right smack in the middle of the jungle…and on a beach.  This place is going to be absolutely NUTS during the World Cup and the Olympics.

Impanema Beach

View from Sugarloaf Mountain

Christ the Redeemer Statue

View from the Christo statue

Other than the incredibly friendly (and beautiful) people that I met, my other favorite thing about Brazil was the food.  By far my favorite South American cuisine that I’ve experienced thus far and I packed on 10 pounds between the 2 trips to prove it.  Here’s why:

Pao de Queijo – balls of fried cheese bread that is sold on practically every street corner.  Enough said.

Acai – A tasty berry blended with banana and ice , served with granola and more fruit on top.  A light, and ‘healthy’ treat that turns your lips and tongue purple as if you’ve just downed a bottle of red wine.  WORTH IT.

Acai!!!

Feijouda – A traditional Brazilian meal that consists of sausage and other pig parts cooked in black beans, served with rice, collard greens, more black beans, yucca fries, grainy stuff, and orange slices.  A nap is necessary.

Traditional Brazilian Dish

Italian Food – People always rave about the Italian food in Argentina, but I have to tell you that they are WRONG and Brazil puts Argentina TO SHAME in the Italian food department.  Also, I don’t get good Italian in Austin so I went a little OVERBOARD on it here.

Churrascaria – A mind-blowing amount of different meat on sticks served with salad, rice, fries, yucca, beans, fried cheese, onion rings, and sushi, YOU FUCKING NAME IT THEY HAVE IT.  Food Coma City.

Coxina – basically a fried chicken donut.  Yuuuuuuuuum.

Caipiroska – My cocktail of choice.  Vodka, Ice, Sugar, and muddled lime (or whatever fruit your heart desires).

My New Favorite Cocktail

I didn’t even mention the sushi.

 

All in all, a good year of travelling – can’t wait to see what adventures (and obviously meals) I’ll get up to in 2013!

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You may think that taking a year off to travel the world and leaving a huge gap in your resume would lessen your chance of getting hired by a kick-ass employer…and you would be dead wrong.   Ironically enough, my travels were the KEY to me landing my current gig – working for a company that sponsors visas for international university students.  The students come to the US to participate in cultural exchange work/internship programs and we help recruit them and find them jobs.  Sort of like what I did for my work abroad program in New Zealand over 10 years ago…damn, has it been that long?

Anyway, I LOVE this job.  Not only does it allow me to promote something I feel passionately about (cultural exchange, long term travel, etc.), but I get to travel too, both here in the states AND internationally.  I’m not making near as much money as I made as a property manager, but the trade off is that I actually like going to work every day.  At this point in my life, I’m willing to make less money to do a job that I enjoy and although I’ve had to adjust my lifestyle quite a bit, it’s soooooo worth it.

Surprisingly, after a few months at the new job, they decided to send me to Thailand for 5 days!  I basically accompanied one of our clients to an overseas job fair (hosted by one of our local partner agencies) where they interviewed and hired Thai students to come work for them.  I was super pumped to go back to Thailand, simply to eat the food.  Pad Thai, green curry, nutella pancakes, and fresh fruit shakes available at every corner?  Hell yeah!

Not surprisingly, this trip was very different from when Kelly and I were in Bangkok.  Instead of a shady guesthouse in the middle of the backpacker craziness that is Koh-San Road, I was put up in a posh hotel in a modern shopping area of the city.  Our Thai partner agencies wined and dined my client Stephanie and me in fancy restaurants and bars, although one of them did take us to Koh San for some yummy street food and drinks, just so she could see the madness of that particular part of town.  It was really weird being back there less than a year later – it was as chaotic as I remembered it.  The pad thai, green curry, nutella pancakes and fruit shakes were as delicious too.

Me, Stephanie, Pookie (one of our Thai partners...I wish my name was Pookie!) in a tuktuk on Koh San

 

We had a ‘cultural day’ amidst our job fairs where Stephanie and I were taken to see the Grand Palace…I had been there previously with Kelly, but it was no less impressive than when I saw it the first time.  We also did a long-boat ride on the river, which I had NOT done before, wandered around in a couple of swanky malls, did some shopping, and got a 2 hour Thai massage.  Thai massages are super intense and somewhat painful (you are pretty much getting your ass kicked by a tiny Thai woman), but you feel fantastic (albeit a little disoriented) afterwards.  Definitely get one if you have the chance.

Back at the Grand Palace

 

Me and 'O', who works with another Thai partner, on the boat!

On the boat ride

It was a short and exhausting trip…but I loved every minute of it.  I was also reminded that much like people, cities deserve a second chance too.  Kelly and I didn’t really care for Bangkok the first time around, but after experiencing a different side of the city and getting shown around by a few locals, I started to appreciate what Bangkok has to offer.  Oh and next time, I’m totally hitting up a ping-pong show.


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