Saturday, 22 August 2009

Watching Julie & Julia with Juliane

It wasn't how I imagined I would spend my one and only Saturday night in New York but it turned out to be exactly what I needed.

New York hadn't been the best of start with my hotel cancelling my reservation without letting me know. I needed to find somewhere to stay and fast. I was excited about New York - Its always been somewhere I wanted to go and live in so I was pretty psyched to get here but on the flip side it marked two things: The end of my Intrepid tour in the US - I had spent 23 days coped up in a van with a bunch that turned in to a surrogate family i.e. friends you choose but family you just have to deal with! You can't help not wanting to say goodbye as we leave to return to all four corners. New York also means my flight back to London is only a few days away. I hadn't been diligent in writing my diary and don't even get me started on my lack of blogging... I was in New York feeling alone and blue.

I had no idea what the film was about. Neither did I have a clue who Julia Childs was. Meh, I had nothing better to do. 
Columbia Pictures says "intertwines the lives of two women who, though separated by time and space, are both at loose ends -- until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible."
The film is a true story, of Julia Child (Meryl Steep), the Delia Smith of the US culinary world. As a wife of a diplomat she was moved out to France not knowing a word of French and bored out of her wits she started to learn French cooking, a passion and devotion that went on to teach Americans how to cook and eat with her book: 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' and subsequent TV shows. As for Julie (Amy Adam), she was nearing 30 and miserable in a dead-end job in which she resolved to reclaim her life by cooking every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook and blogged about it: '365 days. 536 recipes. One girl and a crappy outer borough kitchen.' She then got famous. Then a movie got made about it.

I cried like a baby during this film to Juliane's amusement but it hit home and reminded me of some very important things. Just why am I blogging. My blog is in tatters and probably no one reads it. Who cares? Its a project I started to let people know what I am doing and something mentally stimulating to stop my brain from going to mush. I started it before I left and I may have an interesting way around completing it but I'm going to get it done - Eventually. My wit, lack of command of the English language and ability to talk absolute rubbish needs to be channelled.

I was unsure of what I've accomplished. But wait. The only reason I haven't been blogging is because I've not been glued in front of my laptop but instead I've been out living and experiencing my trip. I've accomplished what I had set out to do to have fun and see the world albeit lacked the discipline in documenting it (although some memories are best forgotten!)

Julia had found her purpose in her passion for French cooking. Julie had her blog about cooking through Julia's book. I went travelling in search for something. Despite going far and wide searching for whatever I was searching for - The answer was there all along. There is no answer! You can plan all you want, but you never quite know what organs might decide to explode. With a little passion and perseverance - Anything is possible. Anything can happen. If you stop worrying, you might just give it a chance to happen. I love my food and I love cooking. Who knows, if I ever marry an Officer... Hmm, maybe we just don't go there.

Underlining it all its been a love story of men whom have stood by theses women's passions. But passion swings both ways - When passion loves it is undeniable and vast but when it hates... Boy does it hate. To be able to love unconditionally and uncompromising through such passions take one hell of a fella. I think I want to wait out for one of those. Passionate or crazy... I'm one of those.

Why so deep today Cecilia? I guess I'm just scared of going home. To fall back in to the same routine, to make the same mistakes and above all, to forget all the lessons I've learnt.

Despite not having known who Julia Child was back in D.C., I was lucky that I did visit her kitchen in the Smithsonian Institute. I had completed a pilgrimage without knowing.

PS. I moved in to the Hotel Roger Williams on Madison Ave off 31 St, it was expensive but it was sooo worth it.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Quacking, haunting and the blues (Day 80)

The only way to make the most out of being in a hot place is to get up early, do all the sightseeing, have a siesta and venture out for a refreshing nightcap! The intentions to get up early was there, but attempting to rally others was not so easy! But we got there eventually! Dragging Chris and a bunch of awesome Aussies (I have to say that since I know Anthony will be reading this as he has a tendency to stalk… ;)) from the other van, we ventured in to town on the longest walk to that involved sitting down a few thousand times and Nick and Kelly being sent to various naughty corners for antagonising each other the WHOLE time!! We eventually found the ferry to head over to Algiers, apparently a cool looking place. We did get on the ferry but we just didn’t get off and went back the other way! Its ok, it was free.

I’m not a huge fan of seafood but we stopped off at a seafood restaurant that I at least thought was cool because it had these giant crawfish at its front! I had a giant Roast Beef Po Boy, effectively a massive Subway the size of my head…. So how do you make a sandwich famous and unique? Give it another name.

You don’t need to wonder why the ‘mericans are so fat. They have serious portion control issues. Everything is about being BIG. They pride themselves in serving large portions and fookin’ huge cups of caffeinated drinks but by doing so means you need to consume it all or it goes to waste. I hate the wastage but I’ve stop torturing my body in attempt to finish a mean. When I feel full, I stop. That’s it. No more stupid guilt that my parents had instilled: “You’ve still got food on your plate, think of all those starving children in Africa…”. So I should stuff my face because they are starving?! Give me a postbag and I’ll friggin’ send it over! [My fellow Chinese homies out there will empathise with me on this rant!]. Then again when Chris is around not much is normally wasted on my plate as he seems to hoover up the left over (dude, you’re going to get fat I’m telling you!) I seriously crave a GOOD salad that’s not laden with a million calories. Oh how I long for simple non fried food. I miss… I miss, my kitchen.

A strange phenomena happened on our walk home, I appeared to have been quacking. At first thought I accused Chris’s shoes but then it appeared to be mine. It wasn’t my left shoe, neither was it my right! It was my arse. Well, my bag more precisely! It had skipped my thought that I had purchased a rubber duck bead necklace for Julia on our bus that was collecting ducks and the little fellas were quacking as my bag pressed against my *ahem* child bearing hips as I walked. The quacking proved to be good entertainment for the several blocks walked back for a much needed siesta! Tonight’s entertainment? New Orleans's Phantom Ghost walk.

Whether you are a believer of the paranormal or not, nothing beats a story told by a good story teller. New Orleans seems to have a past of many husbands butchering up their wives and resultant haunts thence and sighting of haunted spirits jumping off residences of sadistic doctors of the past (property which is now owned by Nicolas Cage). There are hotels with playful ghosts of boys from a boarding school fire that likes to watch Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network and areas that gives you the hibbi-jibbies where bodies were stacked during the many bouts of yellow fever. Also not forgetting the thieving morticians daughter that likes to steal jewellery in a bars ‘rest room’ that was formally her workspace.

As the setting for the film ‘An Interview with a Vampire’, this nocturnal setting has a vampire past and present – Avoid The Dungeon pub if you rather not become an involuntary blood donor have a hang over. Pillars called ‘Romeo posts’ holding up old balconies strangely had hooks (formally spikes) donning its upper edges were identified as preventative measures for fathers to keep their daughters chastity. Our guide quipped: “You climb up a Romeo post, you might come down a Juliet!”. Last but not least the only elementary school in the French Quarter. Nothing haunting or ghostly about it but its alumni including that of Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK shooter?) and Richard Simmons -an old American fitness personality who wears short shorts with a video called: ‘Sweatin’ to the Oldies… Now that’s creepy.

We continued the evening chasing other spirits, Daiquiris to be specific. To top it off? Listening to amazing Jazz at Maison Bourbon. On our walk home we even witness a WASP in a football top on and a girlfriend of some sort jumped and wrapped around him stopping him from having a bust up with a guy… Wait for it, in leather chaps proper brook back style with bare bottom, leather jacket and cap and a gag round his neck. My experience in the Big Easy is finally complete!

Oh I do love a good ghost story. But… I couldn’t switch the lights off for several hours to go to sleep. I’m a wimp.

Where Y'at? Drinkin' Daiquiris in N'awlins! (Day 79)

I have a bed. I'm in a bed. I'm in a bed with a mattress and sheets... Oh they might be a floral eye sore but they are bed sheets nonetheless! We've been camping at various locations for nine days since Las Vegas and I'm happy as Larry to NOT have to negotiate another blasted tent pole for TWO WHOLE DAYS as we stay in a hotel in New Orleans... Well, hotel is a dubious definition. Its called 'Old Town Inn' and its a random collection of houses, loads of security gates, pot plants and random stair ways. Its got character al right! That's Kermit the resident piano man in the 'hotel' reception.

The drive from Houston was a long one and at each pee break or gas station, we descended more and more in to the hot humidity of the South. It felt just as bad as attempting to breathe with a plastic bag over my head... Anyone done that before? No... OK, so we've been very fortunate with the weather so far. Baring a game or two with the others of sticking Post-It notes on our heads attempting to guess what character someone else had written, I successfully managed to do what I do best and that was to sleep through most of the journey, waking up in time to spot a road that merely resembles the one where Jeremy Clarkson and co attempted to sell their cars to no avail in the Top Gear US Special!

Factor in the usual ka-faffle that it requires to get six girls sorted in a room [I having been relegated to a single bed away from everyone else thanks to my snoring], cleverly I called shotgun for the showers and got ready within the hour to meet up with our beloved trek leader, Kelly. Where as the rest besides, Chris, Ol' Bazza and myself? They failed.

In our compact gather, we ventured out to the French Quarters and indeed it looks - French. The vibe of this place is easy and ready for a good time. As its motto: 

"Laissez les bon temps roullez!"

We settled down to sample a plate of Alligator - Taste like chicken! Then stupidly I opted for an oyster dinner - Fried oysters and chips. ARGH!! I can't do any more fried food. Cecilia is seriously turning in to a fatty fat fat. But that meal sure got worked off at Bourbon Cowboy on Bourbon St on the bucking bronco! That was from the force of gripping on with my thighs attempting to hold on and the sheer fear of flashing my undies to the whole bar when I spectacularly fly off! 

And this was all achieved before 2100hrs! Sadly, I was mulled by mosquitoes on the camp ground in Texas last night. Lacking sleep and itching like no tomorrow, I had to call it a night after only one Daiquiris. So currently I'm drugged up to the eye balls with Zytec ready to hit the sack. Gutting. This place weirdly had the same feel of Khao San Road, Bangkok or that of Pub Street, Siem Reap which means only one thing - A massive hang over. Guess I'm not missing much after all!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

I blame the Republic Firewall of China (Day erm... 1 - 78)

I started off really good I swear. I had every good intentions to write and then I arrived in China to find all the blogging sites were banned. I started off typing all my blog entries until I got fed up of using a Mac... IT'S JUST NOT RIGHT! Then I lost it all... Then I just gave up.

BUT, I have been keeping all the stories in a leather bound diary and bit by bit (probably by the end of the year) I'll have it all written up and posted retrospectively further confusing everyone where I am - Awesome. I'm only 69 days behind and coming home in 20... 

I'm freezing my arse in a camp ground by Grand Canyon and seriously losing the ability to type! So for now, adieus! By the way, I'm in the US now! =P