Login


Archive for December, 2009

Santa who?

Friday, December 25th, 2009

santa-chimney

The other night Chris and I were watching the movie a Christmas Story, my favourite Christmas movie. It is the story of a young boy, and how all he wants for Christmas is a bebe gun. Part way through the movie Chris asked me if I remember when I stopped believing in Santa Claus. Well, first of all in Czech there is no Santa. Our gifts were brought by “jezisek” which means little Jesus, but is pretty close to the Czech word “jezek” which means hedgehog. So when I was little I always pictured a little hedgehog bringing our presents. And no, he did not come through the chimney. We lived in an apartment building, as did everyone else I knew, and for some reason I always believed he came through the window, and he got there on a magic carpet. I don’t remember ever seeing pictures of the “Czech Santa” it was all part of the experience, having to imagine it on your own. There were no billboards, or posters or adds showing you who is bringing presents, or what you should ask for, or what everyone else is getting. Imagination.

Christmas Cookies

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Wish I had some exciting stories to tell about my past week or so. But I must admit that it has been pretty boring by the famous globe trotting standards most people expect.
I am lucky to actually be at home in Toronto for a while. I think I have spent less than 6 weeks at home all of 2009, so not packing a suitcase this month is a bit of a treat. I have been doing the Christmasy, family stuff, which is a nice way to enjoy the month of December.
A huge Christmas thing at our house is baking Christmas cookies. My mom has been a super baker ever since I was little. When we were kids and lived in Prague she would bake late, late at night so that we would not get in her way. Not just a few Christmas cookies, but dozens of different varieties, piles and piles of cookies. All very dainty, tasty, and perfect looking. The ones that were not up to her standards would get tossed in a bowl that we could eat before Christmas day, while the others were saved for the big reveal. As we got older, and moved to Canada the Czech Christmas cookies were still baked, still late at night for some reason. But each year there are fewer cookies and less varieties. And when I moved out I realized I really missed this part of Christmas and started recreating my mom’s Christmas treats.

Mini meringues, or "pusinky" in Czech, meaning little kisses.

My mom announced this year that she would only make a few cookies. However, both my brother and I have already had a bunch of friends put in requests for cookies. Each year most of the cookies are given away to friends, and it seems last year we slacked off, and now were being reminded that once you get a person hooked on Czech Christmas cookies you better keep baking each year. We divided up the job this year, I made some, my mom made some, and even my brother tried to help out. And although my mom says cookies are not about perfection, and there is no right or wrong, when she saw him cutting out pig shapes, and decorating them with lemon icing she looked at me, and said ” we’ll make proper cookies later “.

All boxed up and ready for transport.

All boxed up and ready for transport.


So we did. The hard work is pretty much over, and now the cookies are just waiting for Christmas day. Or to be boxed up and given to those who were smart enough to put in an order.

Thailand-Toronto Travel

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Last weekend I was in Phuket, and now am back in Toronto. There is nothing quite like going from +30 degrees Celcius to -3 and snow. But I must admit it does feel a lot more Christmas like when you are bundled up in a coat and scarf, and see Christmas decorations all over the houses.

Phuket was awesome. The race was very nicely organized. A unique swim that started in the ocean for 1400 meters, then a short jog on the beach, and then 600 more meters in a freshwater lagoon. The bike course had some challenging and technical hills early on, and then lots of flat stretches through quaint villages and a bit on a highway. And finally the run was pretty fun, taking us through the resorts, and over some grass and sand paths of the golf course. I did not feel too sparky, but enjoyed the atmosphere and the idea of doing a race for fun, with no expectations or pressure.
The highlights of my trip were definitely the pool villa we stayed in at the Banyan Tree Resort. I just need to say we had our own pool, right outside our living room door and I am sure you can imagine how awesome the rest of it was.
pc040063

I did meet a few other athletes that I had not had a chance to race with before. And even more memorable was meeting a baby elephant. At first he just wound his trunk around my wrist- kind of like holding hands. But before I knew it he coiled his trunk around my neck- and gave me an elephant kiss. It was pretty much like sucking on a vaccum cleaner tube! I am not sure who was more caught off guard and surprised, me or Chris who stood by stunned.
pc040070

Of course my least favourite part of the trip was the super long flight home. But I was lucky, since the first snow storm of this winter waited till my plane landed before starting.

pc090112

I will now be creating my own little heat camp, in the basement, on my trainer. Nice and warm, and can step outside and enjoy the winter scenery any time I get a bit too toasty.

Thailand Time

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Just like my time here in Thailand is flying by so has the time since my last blog. Not sure how it has happened, but it is December already.
It took Chris and I two attempts to actually make it onto a plane to Thailand. The first time we showed up at the airport, 7 am on a Sunday morning, it was just to be denied getting a boarding pass because our passports were only valid for 5 months, 20 something more days, and apparantly needed to be valid for at least 6 more months. It was a bit of a stressful morning as we headed back home and I went about making arrangements to try and get new passports and a rebooked flight for a day or two later.

It's a sad, sad Sunday morning at the Toronto airport.

It's a sad, sad Sunday morning at the Toronto airport.


Attempt number two more successful, although still stressful, not sure why but it took almost an hour to check in it seemed we were each booked on a different connecting flight from Honk Kong to Bangok. Finally it was sorted out, and here is where the trip started to turn to a good one- upgraded for the 15 hour Toronto- Hong Kong flight to first class. Wow, super lucky, and super excited.
After 38 hours of travelling we did finally make it to Phuket, and stayed at Bangtao Bungalows, right on the ocean. Very peaceful, and I think I have caught up on my sleep for the year.
pb260023

We also rented a scooter for a couple of days. There was a bit of a dispute as to who would drive. But after Chris watched me jump on the scooter, and fly down the road with me legs out outstretched, and not knowing which was the brake and and which was the gas the decision was made. Here everyone gets around on a scooter, it is not uncommon to see a mom with a baby, and a toddler, all aboard the scooter, running errands. The scooters must outnumber cars 100 to 1 at least.
pb290039

It has been nice to be somewhere warm after taking a bit of a training break in Toronto after IM Hawaii. I have been trying to get into a bit more of a training rhythm, while still enjoying the relaxing atmosphere here. Yesterday we moved from the bungalows to the Banyan Tree Resort, accomodations provided by the Laguna Phuket Triathlon. Wow, is not a big enough word to describe how amazing our place is. It will take an entire blog to cover that topic I think.
So until next time, when I will give a tour of our “posh place” here in Laguna Phuket.