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J-Mac's Junket

a travel blog by GoBlue


Details of Jennie's version of the great post-grad Southeast Asian and Australian adventure
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East Cost Tour 2007

Quincy, United States


Hello, family and friends! Thanks for checking out the blog. Our goal is to make this into our living travel journal, so you can keep up with us as we explore Southeast Asia and Australia. Be sure to check out everyone's versions of the events!

With that said, here's my report on the past couple days, which I feel I could describe with a concert-like t-shirt saying "J-Mac East Coast 2007" on the back. It would look like this:

Naperville, IL - May 8
Brooklyn, NY - May 9-10
Jersey City, NJ - May 11
Cape Cod, MA - May 12-13
Quincy, MA - May 14
US Air 6461 - May 15

It's been a fun, whirlwind tour of the Eastern Seaboard. On Wednesday and Thursday, Alison Leff and I hit the streets of Brooklyn, scoping out potential digs there and enjoying an outdoor meal at Pacifico with Ross '05 grads Kate Mescal and Raquel Almeida. The original mission was to narrow down our target neighborhood list, but we only succeeded in finding more parts of B-town we liked. (Thanks again to Kate and Stella for letting us crash!)

I also had a great time with Steve Small in Jersey City, enjoying dinner in Hamilton Park and viewing the Manhattan skyline view from the roofdeck of his new condo. Steve even treated me to "Jersey City's best coffee." Who knew such world-class coffee could be found in the Jers?

Friday began with a visit to TEAM Academy Charter School in Newark, where I saw CFO Steve double as "lunch line lady." We then left for Cape Cod, which turned out to be an 8-hour long odyssey but undeniably one of the most fun car trips I've ever had. Our "guess how old the next town is" game kept us entertained for a solid hour along MA Rte 3A, even if Steve did win the last Combo. (I hadn't had so much fun on a road trip since New Orleans Minivan 2004!)

When we arrived in East Orleans, the party for Brian Levy and Maggie Sullivan was in full swing. We celebrated Bachelor Brian and Bachelorette Maggie all weekend long, clad in personalized party t-shirts. Field Day, spearheaded by Maggie, saw the Sullivan side (Irish - "Maggie go bragh!") battle the Levy side (Jewish - "Shalom and Mazel Tov!") in such intense competitions as bocce ball, relay race, obstacle course, and lawn bowling. In the end, Team Levy won by a nose, but there was more time for competition in the afternoon with a double-elimination beer die tournament. I'm certainly disappointed to miss the June 9th wedding of this fantastic couple, although our Ross crew will be amply represented.


Now Vivian and I are back in Quincy, making final preparations for our flight to Hong Kong on Tuesday morning. How many pairs of socks do you need for a 6-week trip, anyway?!? Wish us packing luck...



permalink written by  GoBlue on May 13, 2007 from Quincy, United States
from the travel blog: J-Mac's Junket
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T-Minus 10 hours...

Boston, United States


After a full day of errands and sightseeing, Vivian and I are hitting the sack. Our bags are packed and ready for our 9:55 am flight to Chicago and the ensuing flight to Hong Kong.

Our day began with the exciting task of spraying Permethrin mosquito repellent all over the outfits we plan to wear when we'll be at most risk of bites. Easier said than done -- this stuff is nasty. Apparently if it touched our skin, we were to "immediately rinse area thoroughly and call poison control." Eew. (Note from the picture that I made Vivian do the honors!) Nonetheless, when they dried, our clothes seemed as odorless as promised.

Next we took the T into Cambridge to do some shopping around Harvard Square (complete with a yummy pizza lunch at Pinochio's).

We then bussed over to the South End to do some more trip planning from Viv's brother Bill and sister-in-law Jung's place. Finally, we walked up to downtown through Back Bay, enjoying the sights as we crossed the Boston Common before heading back to Quincy.

For dinner, I was spoiled by another delicious meal cooked by Vivian's dad -- the last one I'll get for a few days, unless something drastic has happened in the world of airline cuisine. Wish us good travel luck, and I'll post again when we reach Hong Kong!



permalink written by  GoBlue on May 14, 2007 from Boston, United States
from the travel blog: J-Mac's Junket
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A flight that was long and our first day in Hong Kong

Hong Kong (historical), Hong Kong


Viv and I are crossing our fingers that good travel karma will last throughout the rest of our trip. We got off to a bit of a rocky start, when our United flight from Boston to Chicago was cancelled (mechanical), leading to a sprint to the American terminal to catch their flight and undergo the joy of "special security screening." When we got to ORD, we had to re-claim our bags at American, schlep across to the United terminal, and re-check-in (3rd time of the day, if anyone's counting) for our Hong Kong flight.

A wee bit of whining to United customer service got us some free food vouchers, which we put to good use as we waited out the remaining hours of the 5.5 hour delay (mechanical) of our flight to Hong Kong. We had a final brief moment of frustration when, on the runway, the pilot announced that we would have to return to the gate and get rid of some cargo since we had "accidentally and illegally exceeded our load capacity." Luckily, this turned out to be a "miscommunication," or at least a not-very-funny joke, and finally... we were off!

14:45, 3 meals, 4 movies, and two flight attendants named "Dieter" and "Stryker" later, we landed in the most modern and gleaming airport I'd ever seen. Awaiting us were Vivian's Aunt, Uncle Chris, and cousin Edward, who graciously treated us to dinner at the airport. We then left in Uncle Chris' space-age BMW, which reminds drivers with a gentle "ding" when one exceeds the speed limit and uses infrared technology to sense when the car's bumpers are nearing a collision. Pretty sweet technology!

Words that describe Hong Kong: vertical, efficient, cosmopolitan, muggy. I'm amazed by the population density -- the skyline is dotted with high rise after high rise, and there seems to be no other housing option. Viv's Uncle Chris, Aunt Peon and their children Haley (4) and Jolie (2) live on the 54th floor with a stunning view. I've enjoyed watching Viv catch up with her family, especially her Grandma (who seems to be busting Viv's chops quite a bit), and I have already learned one important word in Cantonese: "Bao" means full, and comes in extremely handy when you are being offered food every hour!

This afternoon, Viv and I took the tram up to Victoria Peak. Traveling up a mountain at a 45 degree angle gives you a pretty interesting perspective on the city! We took in the views, wandered through the lovely Hong Kong park, and then spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. After checking out the price tags, I'm getting good at dividing large numbers by 7 (a good approximation of the exchange rate).

Will try to post some pictures soon!



permalink written by  GoBlue on May 17, 2007 from Hong Kong (historical), Hong Kong
from the travel blog: J-Mac's Junket
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From HKG to BKK with mk

Bangkok, Thailand


Hello all! Apologies for the brief lapse in blogging. Where to begin?

Hopefully you read Viv's account of the rest of our Hong Kong adventures. I can't thank the Chan family enough for their gracious hospitality. I ate, and ate, and ate. (See picture of our Saturday night feast!) And, I got to ride Space Mountain at Disneyland Hong Kong. It doesn't get much better than that.

Next stop: Bangkok, where I am now tearing up the town with Mike. We've seen incredible temples (Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Po, and Wat Arun) as well as the Grand Palace.

We've eaten multiple helpings of mango with sticky rice and have sampled delicious curries. We've ridden in a tuk-tuk, a longtail boat, a municipal ferry, and some taxis that rival NYC (apparently lanes and markings for directions of travel are merely suggestive here). We relaxed with a Thai massage, multiple dips in the hotel swimming pool, and a few Singha beers.

One highlight of our time here was a surprise discovery that classmate Kurt Dorschel's itinerary overlapped with ours, so we met up with Kurt for "One Night in Bangkok" (sorry, couldn't resist). Better yet, we met and dined at Bed, a swanky Bangkok restaurant and club where patrons actually sit in beds to eat and drink. Accordingly, I've posted the picture of myself in bed with Mike and Kurt.

(Let the snarky comments begin!)

We have one more day tomorrow of sightseeing, market shopping, and street-food eating tomorrow -- and though fried bugs are a delicacy here, I doubt we'll be that adventurous.

On Thursday we'll part ways at the Bangkok airport, and then it's time to head to Australia for my Reunion with Carl, Joc, Viv, Maddy, and Dave!

More to come... :)

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 22, 2007 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: J-Mac's Junket
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G'Night from Down Under

Melbourne, Australia


... and just like that, I'm in another hemisphere. I arrived in Melbourne, Australia this evening after an 8-hour flight from Bangkok.

Both Mike and I had early flights leaving from Suvarnabhumi International Airport, so we did what any self-respecting backpacker would do when faced with a 4 am departure to the airport: we stayed up all night. You would think we'd be pros at this after 2 years at business school, but I admit to fighting the yawns starting around 10 pm.

Luckily, we had lots to do to keep us occupied in the wee hours of the morning. Our hotel pool didn't close until 11 pm; there was a special showing of the AC Milan vs Liverpool finals from Athens, which we watched for a while; and when our bags were packed, there was nothing left to do except play a mean game of travel scrabble until it was time to get the taxi.

Now I'm hanging in Melbourne just for overnight until I catch the national train/coach line out to the Grampians region tomorrow morning. From the Claremont Guest House in South Yarra, it should be an easy subway ride back to the main train station. Although I didn't arrive until 9:30 pm, I did venture out to Chapel Street to grab a late dinner at one of the many cafes. Chapel Street is full of great looking clothing shops and boutiques, so it's probably better for my budget that everything was already closed!

I'm still marveling at the miracles of modern travel. Last night, I was in Bangkok, shopping at the Patpong Soi 2 Night Market and looking for Pad Thai street eats in 90+ degree temperatures. Now, I'm in another capital (Melbourne is the capital of Victoria, I'm told), but here, people speak my language and it's about 40 degrees cooler. I've found friendliness and welcome both places, though... I guess that's what makes travel so fun.

Stay tuned for more adventures of the campervan variety! I can't wait for my dramatic Hollywood reunion with the rest of the Michigan crew. Here's hoping there's an RV waiting for me when I hop off the V/Line national coach on some random street in Halls Gap, Victoria tomorrow. Cross your fingers. :)



permalink written by  GoBlue on May 24, 2007 from Melbourne, Australia
from the travel blog: J-Mac's Junket
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Reunited!

Halls Gap, Australia


For all you loyal readers who were waiting on pins and needles, I've reunited with Maddy, Joc, Vivian, Carl, and Dave in the beautiful Grampians region in Victoria.

Maybe it was just me waiting on pins and needles, after I got off the 4th leg of my 4-hour train/bus trip this morning in a random town in Australia, hoping that I'd find my friends. (As soon as I can, I'll post the picture of the "V/line National Coach" that I rode in from Stawell to Halls Gap. It was actually more like a Vanagon from 1984, not a coach bus.)

Anyway, it didn't take long for them to drive up (on the left side of the road) and honk the horn. We are now a fully party of 6!

Two quick notes: the campervan idea has been abandoned for a variety of logistical challenges, but we are riding in style in a Toyota minivan. Plus, lodging is at the Emu Palace cabin, where there is a real kitchen. Anyone who knows Dave Chapman's cooking will realize that this is a major score.

Secondly, I saw my first kangaroo today. They are fun to watch jumping around!

Over the weekend, we'll stay out here in the park for some more hiking and climbing. On Monday and Tuesday, we'll drive portions of the Great Ocean Road. And thus, the great adventure continues...

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 25, 2007 from Halls Gap, Australia
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A Little Serendipity

Melbourne, Australia


It's 10:00 pm Melbourne time, and I'm hanging out at the airport with Dave and Maddy -- having just sneakily gotten myself on their flight back up to Thailand.

Once I discovered the Chapmans (or the Chapanese, as Carl has taken to calling Dave and Maddy) were headed for Koh Samui on the same flight that I was planning on taking two days later, I decided to try my luck at getting on their flight tonight instead. I was practicing my "damsel in distress" schtick all evening ("you mean my flight is actually on Thursday?? Oh no!!"), so even though the ticket agent originally told us that there was "no way" I would be able to fly standby, my plaintive look changed his mind. One quick phone call, and abracadabra: I now have a boarding pass and a seat next to Mrs. Chapman. (Mom, Dad, Chrissy, and anyone else who actually cares about my exact whereabouts: this means I'm now on TG980 on May 29 instead of May 31.)

This early departure is by no means intended to imply that Australia (and Victoria, specifically) is no less than spectacular. It's been a great time since I met up with the crew. We've had terrific weather, amazing wildlife spottings, cozy cabin accommodations, tasty meals, and lots of games of cards. However, now that Melbourne is socked with rain, I decided to forgo my last two days of solo city-exploring in favor of more beach time. Koh Samui, here we come!

A few more notes on the past couple days:

-- After making it halfway through our two-pitched rock climb at Mt. Arapalies on Saturday, I decided that I was officially retiring from rock climbing. It was a beautiful day, but the climb was more difficult than any of us anticipated, and it was not a very good warm-up for me. (After all, my muscles are rusty after 2 years of b-school non-use.) However, despite yelling "I HATE THIS!!!" several times on the way up the second pitch, I (eventually) made it to the top and enjoyed the great views. Three cheers once again to Jocelyn and Carl for leading us safely through a long, technical climb: by the time all six of us made it up and then down together, it had turned into an 8-hour adventure on the mountain. Afterwards, my knees looked exactly like they did after climbing at Red Rocks last Spring Break... purple. Ouch.

-- Sunday was more of a relaxed day, with an amazing hike to the Pinnacle lookout at Grampians National Park. We even managed to see McKenzie Falls before dusk. The highlight of the day was our visit with Peg and Logan, the young joeys being raised by our innkeeper. The couple that ran the cabins/campsites where we stayed are very involved with Wildlife Victoria, which rescues animals.

In Peg and Logan's cases, both of their Mama Kangaroos were hit by cars when they were babies. Wildlife Victoria finds homes for these orphan kangaroos so that they will be brought up safely and then re-integrated into the wild. After holding Peg and Logan in their pseudo-pouches (pillowcases), I can see why this kind of volunteer work becomes addictive!

-- Monday we set out for the Great Ocean Road

, and despite cloudy skies for most of the day, we were rewarded with a spectacular late-afternoon burst of sunshine and a rainbow. (I tell you this now so that you will believe me when I post the pictures. No, it is not a postcard.) We found a great place to stay for the night in Apollo Bay, and celebrated our day of sightseeing with a big meal at the local pub and a rowdy game of asshole.

That's about all for now. I'm looking forward to lazing about on the beach for a few days before heading to Siem Reap on Saturday to see the temples at Angkor Wat. This weekend is the full moon, so there will be celebrations galore out on the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Pangan. I promise to post pictures next time I get to a computer that will let me!

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 29, 2007 from Melbourne, Australia
from the travel blog: J-Mac's Junket
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Fun Blog Game!

Bangkok, Thailand


Here's a fun game: if you are reading this, and would like to receive a postcard in the mail from an exotic destination, please post a comment with your address (or send me an email). In return, I'll send you a postcard. Fun, huh?

(Can you tell I forgot my address book, and that I'm looking for something to do on my current layover before reaching Samui?)

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 29, 2007 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: J-Mac's Junket
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Oh, Koh!

Ko Phangan, Thailand


Just wanted to post a few quick photos from the last day and a half on Koh Phangan:




permalink written by  GoBlue on May 31, 2007 from Ko Phangan, Thailand
from the travel blog: J-Mac's Junket
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Exciting News from a World Away

Ko Samui, Thailand


Besides seeing a (for me) completely unchartered part of the world and traveling with the great friends I've made in business school, my trip has been an important time to regain some mental energy and think long and hard about the next series of life changes that lie ahead. As Maddy and I lounged by the pool the other day, post-lunch and pre-massage, we talked about the hectic pace of the past two years and our thoughts on what's next. We concluded that change has been constant over the past two years, and that's not going to change for a while yet.

That's why the timing was so ironic that just a day later, I received notice of my new assignment within American Express. While I knew I was returning to American Express Interactive, otherwise known as AXPi, I had no guarantee as to which manager-level position I'd find myself in come August 6. It all depended upon staffing needs at the time, and while I knew my VP would do his best to place me in a position that matched my marketing interests, I also recognized the possibility that I'd be needed in a role that was more technical and/or project management-oriented. This, along with all the other unknowns of life, contributed to me feeling rather emotionless about starting work. I wasn't unexcited, but I wasn't jumping out of my skin, either.

I am now officially brimming with excitement, and here's why: I will be working in a role that is perfectly matched for my skill and interest areas, and I'll be reporting to my dream manager -- a person who was a true mentor last summer and was absolutely my first choice.

Here are the details of my new gig:

MANAGER, EMERGING CHANNELS

The Manager, Emerging Channels will join American Express Interactive to
maximize the value of emerging technologies such as text messaging (SMS) and
Really Simple Syndication (RSS). This individual owns these channels and is
responsible for developing and implementing a strategy for new marketing and
servicing opportunities. Working closely with business and technology
partners, s/he will assesses business needs, customer appetite and the
competitive landscape. S/he will then continue to implement new text message
and RSS programs, analyze results and revise the strategy accordingly.

Key areas of focus are developing concepts for new campaigns with our business
partners, managing key vendor relationships and developing a long-term strategy
for emerging channels.

Qualifications:

The successful candidate for this role must be a strategic thinker who can
interpret customer and competitive data and develop a clear direction for the
emerging channels. Must be able to synthesize technology with the American
Express business model. Relationship skills are critical as this person will
work across business units and manage multiple vendors.

Key skills: relationship building, project management, analytical and
communications skills, experience with developing and delivering effective
presentations. Must be able to independently manage work in a fast-paced,
dynamic environment. MBA preferred.



permalink written by  GoBlue on June 2, 2007 from Ko Samui, Thailand
from the travel blog: J-Mac's Junket
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