A Travellerspoint blog

Bangkok reunion with Sirin and Kanya plus John and Jaja

large_1840343_1503543637546.jpgAt Bangkok Heritage. Pardon the wind blown hair.Sirin and Kanya were the first Thai travbuddies I met ... this happened during our Bangkok [Bangkok-travel-guide-632148] meetup last February 15, 2014 (blog here => http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/106051/Bangkok-meetup-Above-Eleven-Bar-6 [travel-blogs/106051/Bangkok-meetup-Above-Eleven-Bar-6]). Since then, I have been constantly in touch with both of them, and managed to meet Sirin again in February 2015 (I think Kanya was busy traveling back then). These two are usually the first I contact whenever I visit Bangkok, and this weekend trip would be the same as I didn't plan for the usual big meetup.

John (pensacolapyro) I first met in Los Angeles International Airport on May 31, 2015 (http://www.large_1840343_15035436464278.jpgwith Sirin (sirinny)travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/106051/Airport-meetup-John-pensacolapyro-21 [travel-blogs/106051/Airport-meetup-John-pensacolapyro-21]) although very briefly as our flights were departing within an hour of each other, and both to Taipei (although different airlines and thus far away gate areas). He's been based in Bangkok for quite some time, and I let him know of my eventual plans for a small meetup.

Sirin proposed that we meet at a Thai-Chinese restaurant not far from my hotel. On the evening itself, Kanya brought her Couchsurfing friend Jaja along, and I met with them first as they had met at a coffee shop very near my hotel. We then walked over to the Bangkok Heritage (which is not to be confused with Bangkok Heritage Restaurant also along Phaya Thai road) and were able to get a table outside of the main dining area. As Sirin messaged that she would be late, we went ahead and ordered drinks.large_1840343_15035436492901.jpg John on the other hand, was on his way via BTS but for some reason, the location screenshots I sent via Google didn't work properly on his phone, and thus he got lost and kept on going around for over 15 minutes. He finally went over to my hotel, asked which the restaurant was, and managed to catch up a few minutes before Sirin finally arrived.

It was a short meetup but a nice reunion. Kanya (who I haven't seen since 2014) and I caught up with developments on our travel plans, and for her, the night was just starting as she and Jaja had another meetup to attend to afterwards. Sirin, being the early-to-bed type, told me in advance that we should probably be OK ending about 10PM. So did John, who was heading back to the northern part of Bangkok. And especially good for me, as I was awake since 3AM MNL time (2AM BKK time), so I definitely needed the rest for the long day ahead.

I got quite a number of tips on where to visit in Bangkok, despite my being here six times since 1999 (and three times since 2014). That served us well as we were able to go around Bangkok and Ayutthaya by commuting (SRT, BTS and ferry) without having to do everything like a tourist, but more like a local.

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Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Karaoke session with Anne and 3/5 of the No Sleep Band

large_1840343_15020775618154.jpgMy good friend Anne (super_otap) from Cebu [Cebu-travel-guide-1293094] is a great karaoke singer. However we haven't been doing karaoke sessions every time she visits Manila [Manila-travel-guide-885524] due to her busy schedule. The last one we managed was during the TravBuddy meetup in Cebu last April 5, 2016 where we (Anne and I) organized the venue and prior to that, Anne hosted dinner for everyone.

So when Brett (bitethelime) visited last June 25, we were able to get a karaoke session going, with Lhea (lheaaustria) who is 1/5 of the No Sleep Band from the Cebu karaoke session. Kimbert (kimmerbee) who is the other 1/3 of the group based in Manila, wasn't able to make it back then. BTW the other remaining two members of No Sleep are based abroad - Joe (joseph98) in London, and Mark (Surfrider27) in Florida.large_1840343_1502077572296.jpg So there had to be a way to get the 3 of us based in the Philippines reunited for another karaoke session, although we couldn't do a no sleep session again, as I had work the following morning at 6AM, while Lhea had to be at the airport, as she and her sisters were flying out of town.

So Anne's visit was the opportunity I saw, I messaged the group weeks ahead and most of them who love karaoke confirmed. Not only the three of us plus Anne, but also Judith (dithsky) and Liz (lizbee). These are the karaoke lovers of the Philippines' TravBuddy community. So everything was set, we made last minute changes to the venue for dinner, and even for karaoke as people said they "need to leave early".

Anne had dropped off her Dad at NAIA Terminal 3 but his flight got delayed by more than 4 hours due to a runway incident at Cebu Airport.large_1840343_1502077576581.jpg So the flight coming from Manila got merged into another flight that was moved from 730PM to 10PM. Eventually the plane left almost midnight, but we weren't able to track it during the evening. I fetched Anne from her place in BGC, and we headed to Uptown Mall where we were to meet for dinner.

Soon thereafter Janette (SareeJan) arrived with Lhea, having come from Alabang. Kimbert who had to go home to Quezon City [Quezon-City-travel-guide-1314635] after his work visit to Manila, had already eaten dinner and said he would just follow. Judith and Liz came together, after Judith did her groceries in Makati. We all had a so-so dinner that people were bored to the extent of not ordering dessert, and Judith completely didn't order anything from the menu. As Janette wasn't feeling well, she had to excuse herself from karaoke and head home ahead of everyone else.large_1840343_1502077589698.jpgSpice Girls - Stop

So we decided that the original karaoke venue in Pasig [Pasig-travel-guide-888609] was too far. So I said we should just go to the Fort Strip as there is a karaoke bar on the 3rd floor. On our way there, Judith found the night market for food (called Blanchetta) was open, so she asked to be dropped off with Liz at the corner of the Fort Strip. They would then follow for karaoke.

So off we go - good thing the karaoke place was not full, so we were able to get a room for six people. The original plan was to leave past midnight, but we had arrived almost 11AM so that would only mean one hour. The waiter would come in 5 minutes before the expiry of the first hour, and we extended by another hour. Lhea said she'd want to go by 1AM, but was convinced to finish the last hour (as we extended a second time), until closing time of 2AM.large_1840343_15020775695233.jpgAnd then we are complete.

It was a fun night, people were singing all genres including old songs from the 70s all the way to the present day (millennial songs, as we'd call them). Even though the room was too small to dance, the ladies stood up and did their rendition of the Spice Girls towards the end of our stay there, singing "Stop". It was a fitting end to our karaoke reunion session, with the 3 No Sleep members being joined by an equally enthusiastic trio of Anne, Judith and Lizbee.

When we were done, Liz and Lhea took their respective Uber rides back. I dropped off Judith at her BGC office, where she had parked her car. We dropped off Kimbert in Quezon City and Anne was the last to be dropped in Pasig City [Pasig-City-travel-guide-1321106] where her hotel was. And I still managed to get to the office at an unholy hour, logged in for the day, and found time to get some rest.

There will be a few more times when Anne will visit Manila again. If these people are again free, I can forsee a few more karaoke sessions lasting into early in the morning again.

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Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

Most updated list of TravBuddies that I've met

As of March 13, 2018: (183 out of 668)

I have personally met 183 of the 668 friends on TravBuddy (although some no longer have their accounts here). That is a 27.39% meet rate! My immediate target is to meet 30% of TravBuddy friends, and then 33% (1 for every 3). Don't know when that will happen, but hopefully in the next couple of years. If in case my friend numbers go up to 700, then I need to meet 51 more, for a total of 234 (33% of 700).

TravBuddy profile name (withfirst name) and date and city I first met them:

1. travellin_chic (Natalie) - December 12, 2012, Manila
2. rheagirl (Rhea) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
3. ellekape (Rochelle) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
4. aacalizo (Andre) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
5. cookiecandy22 (Cathy) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
6. Docime30 (Ime) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
7. mimi_paredes (Mimi) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
8. tiggerlily (Reg) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
9. ted332 (Ted) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
10. zekepaulino (Zeke) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
11. studentoflife82 (Daniel) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
12. carissainez (Carissa) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
13. ryanlondon (Ryan) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
14. x_ron_x (Ron) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
15. baliw-katok (Steven) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
16. mymushroom (Anna) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
17. canadianbornfilipina (Melissa) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
18. ellecastaneda (Elle) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
19. Farrah (Farrah) - April 19, 2013, Taguig
20. bkk (Kanda) - July 20, 2013, Makati
21. pam2akai (Pamela) - July 2013, Makati?
22. DerekAUS (Derek) - July 2013, Makati
23. che1010 (Che) - November 13, 2013, Pasig
24. julaholic (Trang) - January 14, 2014, Makati
25. copter808 (Gary) - February 13, 2014, Makati
26. northlight (Jon) - February 15, 2014, Bangkok
27. masayo (Masayo) - February 15, 2014, Bangkok
28. sirinny (Sirin) - February 15, 2014, Bangkok
29. alpsie (Alpa) - February 15, 2014, Bangkok
30. kanya (Kanya) - February 15, 2014, Bangkok
31. steffi79 (Stephanie) - February 18, 2014, Mandalay
32. 23661cue (Tessie) - February 21, 2014, Bagan
33. super_otap (Anne) - March 7, 2014, Makati
34. yasuyo (Yasuyo) - March 16, 2014, Makati
35. lizbee (Liz) - March 16, 2014, Makati
36. lheaaustria (Lhea) - March 16, 2014, Makati
37. mudcore (Maine) - March 16, 2014, Makati
38. miltonmeadow (Shaun) - March 16, 2014, Makati
39. kikofernanii (Francis) - April 10, 2014, Makati
40. dgligor (Diana) - May 9, 2014, Osaka
41. jude7im (Jude) - June 7, 2014, Taguig
42. winnie (Winnie) - June 28, 2014, Makati
43. Sab14 (Fa) - July 27, 2014, Makati
44. kriseus (Chris) - July 28, 2014, Makati
45. jesse (Jesse) - July 28, 2014, Makati
46. Anton - July 28, 2014, Makati
47. Alex - July 28, 2014, Makati
48. marc_mtl73 (Marc) - August 31, 2014, Pasig
49. pbj2050 (Forrest) - September 30, 2014, Cebu
50. Wherever_I_May_Roam (Dexter) - September 30, 2014, Cebu
51. dinsevilla (Din) - September 30, 2014, Cebu
52. marix_sublime (Maricar) - October 24, 2014, Mandaluyong
53. TB_Xim (Liz) - October 24, 2014, Mandaluyong
54. Rastalion (Maxime) - November 19, 2014, Makati
55. Soonthiam (Soon Thiam) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
56. Aurora78 (Yanti) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
57. Vanessa_Mun_Yee (Vanessa) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
58. hayley_phoon (Hayley) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
59. lisa_hn (Nisa) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
60. yayai (Haiza) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
61. catlim73 (Cathy) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
62. Stupidguy (Roslan) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
63. KarinaKalinka (Karina) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
64. jesa145 (Gwen) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
65. Mueezy (Syed) - November 22, 2014 , Kuala Lumpur
66. meimei2010 (MeiMei) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
67. Jopin (Joanna) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
68. halilee (Hali) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
69. mmeymey (Maya) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
70. Avaria (Anna) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
71. DAZMAN50 (Darren) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
72. kanaknaidu (Kanak) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
73. WalterC (Walter) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
74. Jamal1280 (Jamal) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
75. TravChef (Jantima) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
76. Neua (neuapanchareon) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
77. yzzinecinue (Eunice) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
78. laichee (Laiza) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
79. rolanzachary (Rolan) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
80. greg1976 (Greg) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
81. adrianpalczewski (Adrian) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
82. Besandri (Brian) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
83. hady (Hady) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
84. mynthe (Marie) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
85. mnmira (Mira) - November 22, 2014, Kuala Lumpur
86. Samten (Connie) - November 23, 2014, Colombo
87. Yeshan (Yeshan) - November 23, 2014, Colombo
88. sofei (Solveig) - December 15, 2014, Makati
89. wandafromtexas (Wanda) - December 16, 2014, Makati
90. margunn (Margunn) - December 27, 2014, Makati
91. Chokk (Christian) - December 27, 2014, Makati
92. PeterSindac (Peter) - December 27, 2014, Makati
93. Caliber-A (Armand) - December 28, 2014, Tagaytay
94. filipiniana (Ella) - December 2014, Makati
95. Drblue (Sami) - January 20, 2015, Paris
96. Galhies (Raya) - January 20, 2015, Paris
97. lizzy1987 (Elise) - January 21, 2015, Brussels
98. Pearl510 (Kim) - - January 21, 2015, Brussels
99. KeikoCreative (Keiko) - January 22, 2015, Amsterdam
100. Vickie-Lou (Vickie) - January 22, 2015, Amsterdam
101. Ils1976 (Ils) - January 24, 2015, Amsterdam
102. ms_travelr (Mikiko) - January 24, 2015, Amsterdam
103. ik-ben-10eke (Tineke) - January 24, 2015, Amsterdam
104. huibdos (Huib) - January 24, 2015, Amsterdam
105. eefab (Eef) - January 24, 2015, Amsterdam
106. two more who I forgot (Amsterdam)
107. two more who I forgot, Amsterdam
108. cjbeachbum (CJ) - January 28, 2015, Makati
109. nam (Nam) - January 28, 2015, Makati
110. Julie meetup in February 2015, Makati
111. journeyoveryonder (Kim) - February 15, 2015, Bangkok
112. retrospeck (Cydele) - February 15, 2015, Bangkok
113. Bhush2006 (Bhushan) - February 15, 2015, Bangkok
114. sky69 (Jai) - February 15, 2015, Bangkok
115. alexbkk7898 (Alex) - February 15, 2015, Bangkok
116. NathanC (Nathan) - February 15, 2015, Bangkok
117. Lehel (Lehel) - February 15, 2015, Bangkok
118. CAK (Clayton) - February 15, 2015, Bangkok
119. fcioncolini (Francesco) - February 15, 2015, Bangkok
120. BigLush (Big) - February 15, 2015, Bangkok
121. WilliamHuang740117 (William) - February 15, 2015, Ayutthaya
122. mpdumaresq (Marie Pier) - February 18, 2015, Vang Vieng
123. susu23 (Tram) - February 20, 2015, Luang Prabang
124. LittleLen (Huyen) - February 20, 2015, Luang Prabang
125. Rosita (Rosita) - February 21, 2015, , Bangkok
126. dithsky (Judith) - April 12, 2015, Makati
127. holdmyhandsforever (Noel) - April 12, 2015, Makati
128. SareeJan (Janette) - April 19, 2015, Makati
129. cotton_foam (May) - May 2, 2015, Hanford
130. karipastayo (Ed) - May 2, 2015, Hanford
131. X_Drive (Roger) - May 2, 2015, Visalia
132. hummingbird (Judy) - May 2, 2015, Visalia
133. pensacolapyro (John) - May 31, 2015, Los Angeles
134. Darlenemartin (Darlene) - June 6, 2015, Manila
135. John Berry - June 6, 2015, Manila
136. JulieA419 (Julie) - July 6, 2015, Tokyo
137. claend (Carlos) - July 10, 2015, Taguig
138. G - July 10, 2015, Taguig
139. astrudjimmy (Ivan) - August 11, 2015, Taguig
140. venkatncs (Venkat) - September 20, 2015, Taguig
141. Anecia (Annie) - December 23, 2015, Pasig
142. Karen- December 23, 2015, Pasig
143. ilovenewkersey (Romel) - January 12, 2016, Mandaluyong
144. Peridivi (Divi) - January 23, 2016, Goa
145. svang (Sy) - January 23, 2016, Goa
146. dav1dedwards (David) - January 27, 2016, Kochi
147. bnchay (Josephine) - January 31, 2016, Kuala Lumpur
148. qhlc25 (Queenie) - January 31, 2016, Ipoh
149. sharon_fabelina (Sharon) - February 1, 2016, Kuala Lumpur
150. cthunder86 (Will) - February 21, 2016, Makati
151. Joseph98 (Joe) - March 28, 2016, Pasay
152. kimmerbee (Kimbert) - April 1, 2016, Makati
153. Surfrider27 (Mark) - April 1, 2016, Makati
154. mics (Michelle) - April 1, 2016, Makati
155. Yelle (Yelle) - April 1, 2016, Makati
156. MariaLai (Maria) - April 1, 2016, Makati
157. Merls (Merlina) - April 2, 2016, Pasay
158. ArleneSilao (Arlene) - April 4, 2016, Makati
159. gemini05 (Rachelle) - April 4, 2016, Cebu
160. Kremheild (Kremheild) - April 4, 2016, Cebu
161. gypsysoul777 (Jillana) - April 4, 2016, Cebu
162. kianmac004 (Kathrina) - April 4, 2016, Cebu
163. hightide (Fay) - August 7, 2016, Jakarta
164. Yuyun (Yuness) - August 7, 2016, Jakarta
165. arianna88 (Early) - August 7, 2016, Jakarta
166. Hadi25 (Al-Hadi) - August 13, 2016, Singapore
167. mountaingirl (Suyee) - August 13, 2016, Singapore
168. eveleigh (Eve) - January 7, 2017, Busan
169. wouternet (Wouter) - March 1, 2017, Hoi An
170. kurama80 (Amy) - March 3, 2017, Siem Reap
171. diggy5ue (Diggy) - March 3, 2017, Siem Reap
172. lajohn24 (Lee) - March 3, 2017, Siem Reap
173. bitethelime (Brett) - March 3, 2017, Siem Reap
174. aja12aja (Amy) - May 28, 2017, Manila
175. julzpixel (Julie) - June 25, 2017, Makati
176. AfricanCrab (Harriet) - November 25, 2017, Tucson
177. BrendaLooper (Brenda) - November 25, 2017, Phoenix
178. lachicktravels (Virginia) - November 28, 2017, Las Vegas
179. freespirit3 (Robyn) - November 27, 2017, Fort Worth
180. cimtech (Hasan) - December 30, 2017, Manila
181. tour_guy (Jay) - January 2, 2018, Hanoi
182. rosett76 (Rose) - January 3, 2018, Hanoi
183. Globevoyager (Maike) - February 25, 2018, Makati

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Brett's (bitethelime) 14 hour transit in Manila

DRAFT

Brett (bitethelime) arrived 1230 PM June 25 at NAIA Terminal 3 onboard AirAsia from KUL

took some time to get out of immigration

last time I saw Brett was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia during the TravBuddy meetup last March 2017

Lunch at General's Lechon, Pasay Road, Makati

American Cemetery in Taguig

Manila walk at Intramuros. Visited Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, went up the wall across from Lyceum

Dinner at Makati, Gerry's Grill Greenbelt. Present were Andre, Noel, Lhea, Julie and Ali

Karaoke at Center Stage, Jupiter Street, Makati

back to the airport

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Meet up with Amy (aja12aja), the whirlwind traveler

large_1840343_1497609513956.jpgAmy writes in her profile that she is a bit of a whirlwind tourist. I didn't really take that seriously, until we started chatting on TravBuddy, WhatsApp and FaceBook to plan for her upcoming vacation to the Philippines. Based on what her interests are (hiking, scuba diving and running all over the place), it would be a bit of a challenge to plan these remotely. But not for Amy. She is resourceful, challenges the norm, and manages to adapt to the fast changing circumstances as they happen. I know this now, having met her halfway through her extremely hectic schedule while visiting the Philippines.

I first communicated with Amy way back in 2014, and she was hibernating for quite some time until she replied to my birthday greetings last September 2016 only in March 2017. By that time I had come back from Korea (where she's based) a couple of months prior during New Year's weekend.large_1840343_1497609510617.jpgAristocrat's famous chicken barbecue She mentioned she'd be visiting the Philippines and asked me to take a look at her itinerary. While it initially included surfing spots like Siargao [Siargao-travel-guide-1327817] in northern Mindanao [Mindanao-travel-guide-1293897] as well as Cebu and Bohol in the Visayas, events of late (martial law in Mindanao, US Embassy warnings, terrorist actitivities in isolated areas) forced her to reconsider the places she'd visit. Likewise my insistence that some destinations would not work for only a day (e.g. going to Siargao from Cebu or even Boracay), made her drop those that were a bit farther off but then add a really nice live onboard scuba diving trip in Tubbataha. Finally, when it was almost time for her to leave, we had decided that her itinerary was doable but I warned her of unpredictable weather and traffic as the rainy season had just started.large_1840343_14993290751077.jpg

First off - her plans were to go straight from the international airport to the mountain region of Banaue [Banaue-travel-guide-874280], to hike and see the amazing ampitheater rice terraces of Batad. And then back to Manila [Manila-travel-guide-885524] the same evening - I said ... What? You're not kidding me, are you? Apparently not. She pointed me to a blog that showed a day trip of Banaue and Batad was possible. I tried my best to dissuade her by saying the author didn't cover travel time, but she found another blog which said that it is possible to catch the last bus ride back to Manila on the day she arrives (take note, Banaue is more than 360 km. away from Manila, and it's mountainous). On the Friday that she arrived, she messaged me regarding some challenges (her iPhone wasn't set up properly, so no internet except via wifi, it was raining, the taxis won't charge less than PHP 1,000 to get to the bus terminal in Manila, etc. etc.). But Amy pulled through, as she was able to negotiate a slightly lower rate for a taxi and managed to arrive there even after almost 4 hours on the road (it should normally take only 1 to 1.5 hours). She then messaged me that she was able to get dinner and exchange her voucher for the bus ticket. Great, and I knew then on that this was no ordinary traveler I was dealing with.

On her way back from Banaue, Amy's plans were to go straight to Tagaytay [Tagaytay-travel-guide-1310742] from Manila and hike up Taal Volcano. That is, without the need for staying in a hotel until she got back and when I'd be meeting her for dinner on Sunday evening. Unfortunately her rental car didn't push through, so she was now negotiating for a taxi to bring her all the way down to Talisay [Talisay-travel-guide-891974] town at the edge of Taal Lake. I told her how much to pay at the most, and she easily managed to negotiate and get a ride there, not to mention make the hike up the volcano and back. But then, being a Sunday, the traffic going back to Manila is horrendous. So I told her to be prepared for it, and what should have been a 2-3 hour drive back, became a 5-6 hour drive. Eventually in the flurry of messages, I told her I'd be dropping by her hotel about 830PM. True enough, I was there but it apparently took her longer to come down the stairs than I expected ... did she fall asleep because of exhaustion? Not the case, she came down after 15 minutes and we were on our way to drive to Manila, late at night, with hardly much to see as the sights were closed. So we had dinner at Aristocrat restaurant which was famous for their chicken barbecue. Over the next couple of hours, we would catch up on travel plans as well as places she had been to until I drove her back after showing some parts of the metropolis at night. By midnight I brought her back to her hotel, since in less than six hours, she would need to be at the airport for her flight to Legaspi City.

Hectic schedule, but Amy made it look like a breeze. Definitely someone you can learn a lot of tips regarding flexibility and adapting to the fluid situation at hand. Cheers, Amy!

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