Now My Days

I went to Thailand. I came back and immediately embarked on a road trip to Tallahassee with some of my favorite friends I made while working in Doha.

After roughly 6 weeks of travel, I am prepared to provide a synopsis.

Thailand was beautiful and fun and relaxing and full of activities, as advertised. Francis and I had a great time. As a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some of my favorite pictures from our time there.

Tiger Kingdom

This is me hanging out with some tigers and Tiger Kingdom in Phuket. It should be mentioned that to get to this Tiger Kingdom and subsequent destinations in Phuket, we boarded a taxi cab out of the ferry dock, and allowed him to take us around. He waited for us at every place and eventually took us to the airport. After getting over our fear of being robbed, the fear of driving in his car in the rain up hills, passing cars in the oncoming traffic lane really took hold. A simple picture- but what a crazy day.

Koh Phi PhiBeautiful Koh Phi Phi Island, where we spent the second week of our trip.

Maya BayFrancis and myself doing cartwheels at Maya Bay. We saw this small island by way of a “Sleep Aboard Tour”. We had a bonfire on this beach, ate curry out of a bucket, and slept on a boat. Some slept more than others. It was a great day of swimming, kayaking, jumping off boats and enjoying the peaceful and secluded beach.

View at DinnerTypical Koh Phi Phi view while walking down the main road for dinner.

Fire Show

This is what is known as a “fire show”. This photo was taken on the last day of our guided tour with Thaintro on Koh Phangan Island. Following this photo, Laila stays out all night until after 4am, then proceeds to attempt to catch a taxi at 6am, ride a ferry to the main land, take a bus across the main land, and ride another ferry to Koh Phi Phi. Laila considers this to be one of her dumber ideas and credits her survival to a loyal travel partner, Francis.


Just kickin it with some elephants in Koh Phangan.

Bottle Beach

Heading to Bottle Beach in Koh Phangan.


This is for some reason one of my favorite photos. Please note: BEAUTIFUL water and limestone formations in the background, taking a ferry ride, matching fruit shirts, mini water bottle I’m wearing around my neck, completely disheveled hair, ridiculous dive watch that I don’t know how to use and was a great conversation starter, and big grins all around.

Khao Sok National Park

This is Khao Sok National Park, where we stayed one night in floating bungalows. It was another beautiful day of swimming, kayaking, and washing my hair in a lake.

Cooking Class

Before arriving at Khao Sok National Park, we took an overnight train, where I developed an atrocious and offensive cough, and before that, we were here- in a cooking class. I’ve included this photo because Francis can not look at it without laughing herself to tears. This is not one of Laila’s smarter fashion choices. Whatever- no regrets.

After two fun filled weeks in Thailand, I spent a couple days in San Diego, mostly sleeping and recovering from a small fever. I came back to Dallas and as I mentioned, started road tripping. Two Norweigans and two Americans, we spent a day in Dallas. We spent a day driving down to Houma. I was finally reunited with Albert and Alice and all my old Schlumberger friends down there. I introduced my Doha and Houma friends and watched my worlds magically interface. We went to New Orleans. We saw some jazz music and were tourists on Bourbon Street.

On the road

We went to Tallahassee, I went to my friend’s High School reunion. I had fun. We went river tubing. Then… I felt chest pains which kept me up all night long. Assuming it was heartburn, I drank anti acid liquids, took Zantac, and ate a bucket of TUMS. As the pain worsened and moved to be concentrated in my back, I saw a doctor after four sleepless nights. I had an ultrasound, which revealed nothing. I was given pain killers and my mother, most alarmed, flew to Tallahassee. We drove to Pensacola and stayed with a cousin there. Though I was experiencing a health crisis, I popped my pain pills and had as much fun with family as I could. We went out to eat, to a farmers market,  and planted trees in my cousins marshy front yard. After 4 days of eating oatmeal- I started to feel better. During this time, mom and I had some road trip adventures in Florida and Louisiana.

Laura Plantation Home

We toured Laura Plantation and learned about Creole culture in Louisiana.

Swamp Tour

On a swamp tour, we learned all about the unique characteristics and building qualities of Cyprus trees, swamp ecology, and alligator hunting.


There are caverns in Florida!

Eventual diagnosis was that I must have severe inflammation or esophagitis. Cautionary tale, dear readers, there IS such a thing as too much curry and too many road trip burgers and too many Chick Fil A breakfasts. In a row, they proved detrimental. Thankfully, my health complications were self induced and I am doing much better.

Now my days consist of laying in bed sending snapchats to my working friends with the caption “#unemployed”, cleaning out my closet, and secretly plotting my next move…

This Train Has No Breaks

Each of the following events deserves its own blog post; however, I’ve been so busy riding the fun train every day to take a moment and capture the events in writing. This is partly due to sheer neglect to my blog, but also because writing this blog has always been a part of my working life (I mean… it’s called ‘rigtales’), and I’m actively distancing myself from that period. Anyhow, let’s recap the last 20 days in all their glory.

May 1- My mother receives an award as a 2015 Piper Professor. Ten professors every year are named in the state of Texas. My sister, dad and my dad’s best friend from Egypt, and myself went to her reception at her college. She was radiant and brightly dressed. She gave an interactive and emotional acceptance speech, during which she, my sister and I all cried. Afterwards, we went to dinner. This is one of the many events I would have been missing if I was still working. It’s a privilege to be with my family.

The week leading up to Friday, May 8–  This event needs some context.  Both my grandparents on my mother’s side are M.D Ph.D. doctors. They moved to the Dallas area so my grandmother could conduct research at the Southwestern Medical Center and work at the hospital/school. (Details are fuzzy, I just know legend has it she was the greatest doctor in all of the land). My grandfather was an Ears/Nose/Throat doctor and later the chief pathologist at the hospital in Henderson, TX.  Now…. My sister is in medical school concurrently with doing research and getting her doctorate also at Southwestern Medical Center. She has finally reached a milestone in her program where she will be presenting her Ph.D defense on May 8. Her research is in lung cancer treatment and something else about growing cell cultures in the lab. (I’m no doctor).This is no joke and no one understands why she would go through all that school and pain and suffering…. well, someone understands.


While my grandmother is no longer living, my grandfather, albeit mobility issues, has a vested and specific interest in my sister’s schooling. Most of our conversations are about my sister’s research, health and friends. He always concludes the conversations with praises and prayers for her. Without leaving any room for interpretation here: my sister is indisputably my grandfather’s favorite. This man leaves his bedroom to go to his kitchen on a weekly basis and has not been to a wedding or important family members life event in about a decade. Yet, for weeks leading up to May 8th, my grandfather has been adamant in voicing his intentions to witness her PhD defense. And so, I drove to East Texas on the preceding Wednesday to find my grandpa ready and excited to sit in the car with me for over two hours in the first part of the journey. For two hours, he questioned my directions and insulted my engineering abilities, saying, “You may be a Civil Engineer, but you don’t know where the highways go” or “Girl! Where are you going!!”, and my favorite, “Call your mom and ask her how to get there!!”. It was a little frustrating to diffuse his anxiety and keep driving. My grandpa stayed with us for a few days and he attended my sister’s PhD defense. He stayed out all day and even went out to dinner with the whole family in the evening. Again, I found myself grinning and shaking my head thinking, “I can’t believe I almost missed this.”

May 14th– A few weeks ago, I got a new car. I’m now rolling in a VW Tiguan! As such, we called upon, once more, our trusty friend Craigslist to sell the Rav4. As the inquiries poured in, the car was eventually sold to a young Afghani family who recently moved to the USA and are getting on their feet with finding jobs and raising their two young girls in another new place. The US is their third country to live in since leaving Afghanistan. What was supposed to be a quick and dirty car sale turned into the meeting of two immigrant families. We exchanged contact information and on this day, we’re finally going to go have some fun exploring Dallas! I took the woman and her two girls to the Dallas Zoo. I was totally impressed by these little darlings who were the only 3 and 5 year olds in the zoo without a stroller. They looked at animals, played in the kids fountain, and took pictures with all the animal statues. After the zoo, we met my sister at Spaghetti Warehouse in Downtown Dallas. The woman said to me, “This is the first time in this country I am sitting down at a restaurant.” We made plans to have other outings and I showed her different summer camps and programs for her kids this year.


May 15th– My cousin Orpheus, his sons Zorro and Legume (you may remember O and Z from this post.), and wife came to town for his sister in law’s Master’s commencement. I met them at the Dallas World Aquarium. We had a day. We had a great day.

May 16th- The Bird Mart. Again, some readers may remember a few years ago the post about Sand Reclamation . My father’s life time hobby is breeding little birds. Lately, he is liquidating all his stock and supplies and bowing out of the bird business. A few times a year, there is a “Bird Show”, which is like a trade show for bird breeders and bird supplies. My dad and I packed up my Tiguan with some cages and birds, and drove 90 miles southwest to this spring’s, Bird Mart. Before the show opened to the public, my father had sold half his birds to other breeders, who apparently wait for him to arrive. My dad casually leaned over to me and said, “I have the best birds”. It seemed true. My dad’s alter ego lives in the bird breeding business. He is like a different person. Mid way through our day, he leaned over again and said, “I have never seen an attractive woman in the bird business. It’s all old women and gay men.”……”and me”.


The evening of May 16th, I went to see a friend sing in her band at a pub in Dallas. Seeing my childhood neighbor up on the stage singing and working the crowd made my heart so happy. Again, I thought to myself about all the things you simply don’t get to see when you move away from home.

May 17th–  My best friend and I went to Scarborough Fair with her little niece. There’s no way to capture the magic of this day…. but here are some quotes from little 4 year old Norbet:


“I have always wanted to come here and see what it was like” — On the drive to the fair, describing the other side of the highway

“I can’t believe we’re looking at real live rocks!”

*GASP* “It’s a real castle!!!” – upon entering the parking lot

*whispering* “I’m so excited” – sitting in the audience waiting for a birds of prey show

She was simply enchanted by the characters, who would talk to her and play as we walked through the park. One woman sang and gave her a little ribbon bracelet. For the remainder of the day, Norbet would say, “I want to go see the pretty lady. She sang so beautifully”. At one point in the day, we walked past the games. Renaissance festivals always have a Tomato Toss game, where you are given some tomato halves and attempt to hit a man behind a wooden board with holes cut out for his head and hands. The target man then insults and heckles the thrower and passers-by. Norbet just wanted to throw tomatos. They let her get very close to the wooden target board. As the man in the target saw her, he yelled at us, “Really? What do you want me to say to her?? She has butterflies on her shirt….. You make me want to settle down and have a family!!!”


We all got our faces painted. As I drove home singing in my car, I again thought, I’ve really been missing days like this.

May 20th– Is tomorrow. I will be travelling with my favorite engineer and badass friend, Francis. (Also mentioned in this post from 2011). We are going to Thailand for 2 weeks. My backpack is ready and I’m excited to keep this fun train rolling.

No breaks.