Portugal! Again.

Early tomorrow morning, the four of us will leave EUG for SFO, then SFO for LIS. This will be our family’s second time in the Lisbon airport, but we will set foot on real Portuguese soil for the first time. We will be there for about a week for spring break.

For Mom, Ethan, and me, this will be the first international trip since 2013. Dad just got home today from an investing conference in Panama City, Panama. Actually, we’ve all been to the Panama airport: on March 21, 2013 (almost exactly three years ago), we flew through it on our way to Newark from Lima, Peru. From Newark, we flew to Lisbon. So we will be in Portugal exactly three years after we were last time, on March 22, 2013. (After Lisbon, we flew on to Casablanca, Morocco.)

Panama City sunset

Panama City sunset. Photo by Dad

Now, all our suitcases are packed, our liquids and gels have been placed in their quart-sized bag, and our alarms have been set. Let’s get this show on the road!

You can read all about it (ideally- we’ll see how it goes) on Eryn and Ethan’s pages.

No Fun Allowed

Just nineteen minutes into tomorrow marks the 31,536,000th second, the 525,600th minute, the 8,760th hour, the 52nd week, the 12th month, and the first year away from our house. That’s over 31-and-a-half million seconds. And I still can’t believe it.

My first of two posts on June 18, 2012, began, ‘Today we leave the house. Tomorrow we go to the airport. Wednesday we fly.’  So, if I were to write this thirteen hours ago: today we go to the airport. Tomorrow we fly. Thursday we reenter the house.

In those thirteen hours, we have flown for less than an hour across the Aegean Sea on Aegean Airlines, which actually served drinks and peanuts. I don’t know when I last was served a drink and peanuts—no more, no less—on a flight. I think that may have been back in 2009 or 2010.

At the airport, we got our luggage and took the long, long hike across the narrow, quiet street to our hotel. Ethan and I went swimming in the pool on the 9th floor, which is also a spa. Mom went with us. On our arrival, a woman greeted us with a smile and “No jumping and no diving.”

I had brought the goggles up, and we took turns throwing them into the pool and timing how long it took the other to find them. Dad came by, and we had him hide the goggles. It took me nine seconds to raise them above my head, but Ethan grabbed them from me and claimed victory.

As soon as Dad left to check in at the airport, one of the women who works at the spa came by and said, very quietly, that Ethan and I needed to be quieter. I heard her.

I got out and dried off. It’s no fun swimming when you can’t make noise and can’t jump in or anything.

So.

 

Supper was at the airport at The Olive Tree. Mom and I shared a starter Greek salad (which was still quite sizeable) and a large plate of penne with chicken and sundried tomatoes. It was very good.

Over dinner, Dad and I phrased tomorrow these three ways:

  1. It will be a 34-hour day what with the time zone change.
  2. We’re already in bed (it’s 7:44 pm)—tomorrow (in Pacific Coast time), we’ll be awake from 5:30 pm to about 9:30 pm. Eep.
  3. In Athens time, we’ll be awake from 3:30 am to 7:30 am, on two different days. Eep again.

Ciao!

E&E Electric Eels

Today being our last full day in Crete, we naturally spent it packing our suitcases and duffle bag (yes, we are adding another bag). We polished off yesterday’s chocolate cake, and after two rehearsals Ethan and I performed our whole E&E Electric Eels routine. It came off, for the most part, without a hitch. It had lots of flips, tricks, and English-accented commentary.

Dinner was at Taverna Fantastico, which is where we ate supper way back on May 25, our second Cretan day (and our first restaurant-made Cretan meal). We’ve eaten there twice since and have enjoyed the view, good food, and cute rabbits each time. Tonight one of the rabbits was missing.

Did you know that a traditional Cretan dish is rabbit stew?

Ciao!

Nine Days, Nine Things

In honor of only nine days until we get home, here are nine things (in no particular order) that I’ve loved about Crete:

1. Good food. From tzatziki and chicken to stuffed vine leaves and delicious fro-yo, eating food on Crete has never been a boring, unappetizing experience. I do believe in enjoying eating, and Crete is certainly a place to do that.

2. Frozen yogurt. While it’s already been mentioned above, Yum…me needs a slot of its own. With its multi-colored beanbags and trashcan lids (seriously, I looked. They come in pink, blue, and green), the seating was what drew us in. It’s the delicious strawberry cheesecake fro-yo that kept us as customers.

3. Acqua Park. Although yesterday had a few stressful and scary moments, most of the scariness was a good thing. Who doesn’t love the thrill they get going down a steep waterslide? And everyone knows that the only thing more fun than having fun is having fun while getting wet.

4. Our villa. I love our house. I really do. There’s a view of Crete’s north shore, nearby kids to play soccer (ahem… football) with, and a pool in our own backyard. Plus, there’s three bedrooms– meaning Ethan and I don’t have to share!

5. The southern beaches. The beaches on the northern side are avoided, but almost every-other-day we are on the south side, dipping our deeply-tanned toes in the salty waters.

6. The sun. No, not the son. The sun. With our 20SPF sunscreen that claims to tan and protect in hand, we lounge on the beach for hours. Although it does get uncomfortably hot sometimes, I think we all enjoy heat more than cold.

7. The wi-fi. Cape Town is in my Top 3 Places on This Trip (we spent have of our time in South Africa there), but it didn’t have wi-fi. The biggest blessing of our house is the wi-fi, making it easier to do our posts, upload pictures, and all sorts of mundane tasks that would be even worse using Dad’s phone’s megabytes via a hotspot.

8. The animals. Some would raise their eyebrows at this subject, since Crete isn’t exactly known for its animals. However, there are friendly cats and dogs and, the best part, we saw a snake!!! We saw it about a week ago, but I think I forgot to mention it. I don’t think it was venomous, since the venomous snakes in Crete supposedly lurk in the mountains. Whatever this snake was, it certainly wasn’t shy!

9. The other desserts. Although fro-yo has already been mentioned (as has food in general), nothing can beat a chocolate-dipped piece of gooey baklava. It is absolutely divine. Also, our cake from our favorite bakery was perfect (it was chocolate, of course), and we’re currently enjoying a dozen twist cookies from the same. At many restaurants, dessert for supper is fruit served with raki– namely, referigerated cherries. The cherries on this island are excellent.

Ciao!

It’s All Greek to Me: Day Two

Moment of the day: Making it as difficult as possible to answer Ethan’s trivia questions about Lord of the Rings since (a) I had no idea who he was talking about, (b) I was trying to annoy and dissuade him, and (c) I was really enjoying called Mary Adoch (or whatever their name is) a ‘she’ when apparently they’re a guy.

Food of the day: The delicious rice-stuffed tomato for supper!! It tasted a bit like the grape leaf rolls we got from Costco at home—a.k.a. they were delicious.

Treat of the day: My delicious chocolate dessert from our favorite patisserie. It is a chocolate mousse shaped like a dome, with a chocolate coating. It had sliced almonds sticking out of it with two white chocolate chips and one red one: the red one was the nose, the white ones were the eyes, and the almonds were the spines on the porcupine.

Person of the day: The guards outside the parliament building, who wore tights, khaki skirts with their khaki shirts, and red shoes with big black fluff balls on the end. We watched the changing of the guard, which happens every hour on the hour.

Place of the day: The National Archaeology Museum, where we saw statues, statues, and more statues. The most interesting ones (in my opinion) were the ones found in the bottom of the Mediterranean. Many of the statues are partially perfect and partially destroyed. The perfect parts were in the ground below the water. The damaged parts were ruined by microscopic sea creatures.

Disappointment of the day: Finding out that Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas didn’t win Dancing with the Stars and placed fourth—but at least Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough won!

Ciao!

Chicken Chow

Now we can add another country to our ever-growing list: Germany.

We’ve been there before, but we were not expecting our GPS to take us through the country on our way to Paris from Lauterbrunnen. So now we can say we’ve been to—counting the U.S. and Portugal—seventeen countries on this trip (Thailand, Laos, India, Australia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, the UAE, Argentina, Chile, Peru, USA, Portugal, Morocco, France, Switzerland, and Germany). Tomorrow we’ll add yet another, as we wake up super early to fly to Athens, Greece.

After a relatively uneventful but rather stressful drive from Lauterbrunnen to Paris, Dad checked into the Hilton. Then he and Ethan went to Hertz to return our rental car.

In the meantime, I took two backpacks and three bags up the parents’ room on the sixth floor (Ethan and I are just across the hall). The key card was in my coat pocket. It was hot after struggling with the bags in the elevator, so I tossed my coat on the floor and walked out the door.

I made it to the elevator before I realized my mistake.

Downstairs, Mom asked for a new key while I sat anxiously on a black sofa. We took the suitcases and hats up to the room and waited for Dad and Ethan to return. When they finally did, we got in a van to the airport and had supper there. Mom and I shared a chicken salad and chicken penne. Dad ate the chicken penne, and Ethan had a chicken sandwich.

What wimps!

Ciao!

Aborting @ Bort

“Too bad the toboggans are closed,” Mom said mournfully. We were at Pfingstegg, and the toboggan run at the top of the gondola was closed. After riding a ferry around Lake Brienz, we had caught the train up to Grindelwald. We had gotten off at Brienz and, while the boat was stopped for twenty minutes, Dad bought raspberries, sour gummies (ew), and a chocolate bar from the Coop.

In Grindelwald, after taking the gondola up to Pfingstegg, we walked to the gondola up to First (through Bort) and rode to Bort. Ethan and I played on the playground, flipping on the ropes, while Mom played Sudoku on her phone next to Dad on a bench.

We hurried back down and bought postcards at a kiosk near the train station. I was on my way to Die Post when Dad waved me over. Up we went to Kleine Scheidegg. We had the whole three-car train to ourselves. At Kleine Scheidegg, we changed trains and went back down to Lauterbrunnen. On the way home, we stopped at Hotel Oberland for dinner. Ethan and I shared the Bombay Chicken Pizza (as delicious as before—if not better, since I got all the sour cream [Ethan doesn’t like sour cream]) and a green salad. Mom and Dad got a pizza, a salad, and a dish of rosti, traditional Swiss hash browns.

Ciao!

Finished in France (For Now) On a Friday

Unless we don’t have our visas to Switzerland (and visas aren’t needed), we’re good to go tomorrow. We get to wake up earlier than usual to drive to Lauterbrunnen.

 

In the meantime, today was our last Friday in France. It started off the way it normally does: with Ethan going up to the boulangerie and buying a baguette, pain cereal (healthful bread), and braided pastries with lots of chocolate chips. For breakfast, I ate a boiled egg, a pastry, a slice of baguette, and an orange. No one else in the house ate an egg, and Dad and Ethan had pasta from last night’s supper to go with their other carbs.

Mom reviewed me on my math while Ethan read Finding Waldo. In the background, Dad was working on the computer. Eventually I got to work on my last persuasive essay of the year on the computer.

That was pretty much our day—right after that we left for supper at the ice cream place. It was only 4:15 p.m., but we wanted an early supper.

Mom and I shared a chicken tart and a green salad with asparagus, mustard, boiled egg, and tomato. Ethan had the cheese sandwich and Dad had some toast with pesto on it and the same salad as Mom and me. For dessert Mom and Ethan had ice cream, Dad had two creeps, and I had a gaufre.

“What’s a gaufre?” Mom asked.

“It’s a rodent with long teeth that likes to dig holes” was, more or less, all the response she received from Dad and me. When my waffle came and I frowned in disappointment, Mom asked if it was like I expected.

“No,” I said sadly. “It was supposed to be a soft waffle, not a crunchy one.”

 

Oh, well. Next time!

Ciao!

Sewerman or Eau No!

In case you want to know what the Cusco Disaster smelled like, you can visit Paris’s Sewer Museum. Eau de no!

We were behind a school group of little fifth graders, and we caught up with them in the souvenir shop while they were watching a video: it started with a woman peeking into a drain and saying, in French and English, since they did the video twice, “Oh, no, I dropped my keys! What am I going to do?”

She ran to a phone booth. We expected her to come out as Superman, but the booth was clear and she just called… Sewerman!!!!!

He came and got her car keys for her, and she kissed him. In what genre would you put this film—comedy? Action? Sci-fi? Romance?

Our next stop was the mall around the inverted pyramid near the Louvre. Dad checked up on our Hertz rental before he and Ethan went to chill in the Apple store. Mom and I, meanwhile, paid a visit to the totally amazing store of Pylones—it is awesome! My favorite things were probably the porcupine toothpick holder (you put toothpicks in the holes in the porcupine’s back so it looks more porcupine-ish) and the pink and orange trashcan with a face painted on and plastic fins, like a fish.

We stopped at Jardin de Luxembourg on our way up to the Pantheon, where we saw murals of Joan of Arc and Saint Genevieve and the tombs of Pierre and Marie Curie, Louis Braille, and others.

After supper, we got ice cream at our favorite place, Amorino, and Dad and I shared a grande cup of cinnamon, chocolate Amorino, and banana flavors.

Ciao!

Adeiu, Alami and Africa!

Tomorrow we get to wake up really, really early (what fun) to fly to Paris. So, while we’ll still be in the land of French and escargot, at least we’ll be away from couscous and tagine. You may be interested to know that we didn’t have couscous or tagine today: instead, for supper we went to Café Clock for the ninth and final time. Ethan had falafel (what else?), as did Dad, while Mom enjoyed her plate of tapas and I had a chickpea burger. For dessert, Mom and I split a chocolate soufflé while Ethan devoured his orange-almond cake.

 

We’ve been in Morocco since March 22—it’s been twenty-four days. A relatively short time (especially compared to South Africa), but I think it was enough. Our landlord, Alami, thinks the opposite and told Dad this morning, while they were out working on mail and Ethan and Mom were at physical torture, that there was plenty we didn’t do. That’s true: while we did just about everything inside the medina, we didn’t do much in Fez outside of it because it would have been too far to walk, and the taxis only legally fit three passengers.

But we got to ride some lovely, cud-chewing camels, so it all worked out in the end, didn’t it?

Ciao!

Tomorrow we get to wake up really, really early (what fun) to fly to Paris. So, while we’ll still be in the land of French and escargot, at least we’ll be away from couscous and tagine. You may be interested to know that we didn’t have couscous or tagine today: instead, for supper we went to Café Clock for the ninth and final time. Ethan had falafel (what else?), as did Dad, while Mom enjoyed her plate of tapas and I had a chickpea burger. For dessert, Mom and I split a chocolate soufflé while Ethan devoured his orange-almond cake.

 

We’ve been in Morocco since March 22—it’s been twenty-four days. A relatively short time (especially compared to South Africa), but I think it was enough. Our landlord, Alami, thinks the opposite and told Dad this morning, while they were out working on mail and Ethan and Mom were at physical torture, that there was plenty we didn’t do. That’s true: while we did just about everything inside the medina, we didn’t do much in Fez outside of it because it would have been too far to walk, and the taxis only legally fit three passengers.

But we got to ride some lovely, cud-chewing camels, so it all worked out in the end, didn’t it?

Ciao!

South American Summary

After more-or-less three months in South America, we started to get the hang of Spanish and customs. We could go into a heladeria and order ‘dos bolas de chocolate y fresa,’ or go to the supermercado and buy huevos, leche, pizza, lechuga, choclo, chocolate, y pan. When Mr. Gooey in Arequipa told us a bunch of things about Arequipa and Peru in general (such as food, customs, etc.), we found that we already knew a lot of what he was saying.

 

We started off South America in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after a ridiculously long set of flights from Dubai, UAE. We spent two weeks there, idling in the sun and our apartment. We also enjoyed the new types of ice cream flavors: lemon mousse, raspberry, and chocolate Suizo. In El Bolsón, we devoured ice cream at the rate of kilogram a day in between bites of super-cheesy pizza. Ethan and I befriended Juan, Paz, and the rest of their family, and we spent the evening with them when Mom broke her arm.

After a night in Bariloche, chocolate heaven, we rode a bus for eight hours to Chile and arrived in Valdivia, home of the largest-ever earthquake, at ten p.m. that night. Dad and Ethan got some Chilean pesos in exchange for some American dollars at a Chinese restaurant, and we used those pesos to pay for a taxi to take us to our hostel. The highlight of our time in Valdivia was the fresh-foods market, where you could buy all sorts of wonderful things. Because we didn’t have an apartment or kitchen, we only bought raspberries and blueberries.

Two things stand out for Valparaiso: having to walk up and down our hill multiple times each day to get to and from our flat, and the really good ice cream whose name I can’t remember. It tasted like cinnamon, and it was really good with the cappuccino flavor that was mainly marshmallow fluff.

In San Pedro de Atacama, we went on multiple tours up into the surrounding Andes and Altiplano before heading down to Arica, where, after an insanely long bus ride, we celebrated Ethan’s 12th birthday with a cupcake and presents. The next day we went up to Putre. During our time there, we went on two tours with Barbara, the Alaskan woman, and went up to about 5,000 meters above sea level—the highest point on our trip while standing on the ground. We also got to see some really cute vizcachas, which are related to chinchillas.

Back in Arica, we went to a mummy museum and then arrived about an hour too early at the airport two days later. We landed abruptly on Arequipa’s runway late in the morning, and Mr. Gooey was waiting for us. That weekend was spent enjoying crepes from Crepissimo and touring Mr. Gooey’s workplace. On Monday, we flew to Cusco. When we first landed, I thought, This is an ugly city.

We didn’t stay in the “ugly city” long, though—soon we were on our way to Ollantaytambo. After a night there, we were off to Machu Picchu. Somehow we made it up and down Wayna Picchu, the picturesque mountain in the background of just about every Machu Picchu photo.

After a few nights in Cusco, we were off to the Amazon Basin with Reve (the English-speaking guide), Paltacha (the cook), and a ton of stuff. It was hot and humid and we didn’t see any tapirs, despite going to the tapir clay lick two nights in a row.

On our last night back in Cusco, disaster struck. It began with the shower drain gurgling but ended with the floor of our hostel covered in 2-6 inches of brown stuff from the sewers.

We slept in a different hotel.

The next day we caught a flight to Lima Bean. That was yesterday. Tonight will be very short: our taxi to the airport leaves at 2:05 in the morning.

Ugh.

Ciao!

Sweet to Be Swiss

We got to make our own chocolate today!

Dad didn’t, but he still gets to enjoy the results, which were 12 little pyramids, 11 Reese’s Pieces-style chocolates, and six chocolate bars. We could choose from twenty-two flavors to stick in our creations at ChocoMuseo, but I only used thirteen: pink marshmallows, sprinkles, coffee beans, Oreos, Peanut M&Ms, nibs (bits of cacao bean), mint, cloves and cinnamon, chili, sea salt, coconut, and quinoa. I could have used coca but decided not to. Some of the women who worked there were making “experimental” chocolate bars: white chocolate bars with coffee beans, coca, chili, or coconut. The museum doesn’t actually sell full-sized white chocolate bars, so they were definitely experimental.

At the beginning of our “lesson,” Manuel took us upstairs (us being Mom, Ethan and I—we were thankfully a small group) and asked us which country was the leading producer of cacao.

“Peru,” someone guessed.

“Venezuela.”

“Ivory Coast,” I said. (I was right, of course.)

“What’s the second-largest producer?” Manuel asked.

“Brazil.”

“Ecuador.”

“It’s in Africa,” he said.

“Ghana,” I answered. (Right again!)

It was also interesting to learn that, on average, a Swiss eats more than 11 kilograms of chocolate a year, while Americans (on average) eat only 5.3. I can’t wait to get to Switzerland!

Ciao!

A Very Down Day with One Momentous Event

Mr. Gooey left us all alone in Arequipa.

Well, he’s currently in the process of saying good-bye. He’s going home to California, but we still have three-and-a-half months before we can think about home. Anyway, we didn’t really do anything today. Mom, Mr. Gooey, and Ethan went shopping a few times, but I stayed home to do schoolwork while Dad deleted pictures. Eventually, we all left to get ice cream at the local mall, but that didn’t take much time.

An hour later, we left for supper. Mr. Gooey, Ethan, and I had sandwiches (mine was chicken, pineapple, and mayo and very good) and Mom and Dad had salads. Then we came home at 8 pm so Mr. Gooey can catch his flight in an hour or so.

Ciao!

Chatting About Chile

My time in Chile opened with One Direction singing.

Seriously: we were on the bus from Bariloche to Valdivia and, after twenty minutes in no-man’s-land and of listening to One Direction, we crossed the border, reading the sign that said “Beinvenidos a Chile!

After all the border hassle, we arrived tired and hungry in Valdivia, home of the biggest earthquake ever recorded. We spent a week there, taking a boat through seven rivers and enjoying the fresh food from the market. Next came another overnight bus and then a long wait at the Santiago station, waiting for our van to arrive. It finally did—just with a different driver than expected.

He took us on a tour of Chile’s capital, Santiago, and eventually drove us to Valparaiso. We passed another happy week there, especially enjoying the dogs (Harvard, Yale, and Avery) and cats (Olga, Bassy, Pillar, Azul, Midnight, Pineapple, Mickey… I’m sure I’m forgetting some). After all the delicious ice cream we enjoyed in Plaza Victoria, we didn’t really want to leave. But there we were—up at 3 in the morning so we could get to Santiago in time for our flight to Calama: we just barely made it to the gate on time.

From Calama we rode in a van up to San Pedro de Atacama, where we spent a couple days at 8,000 feet in elevation, admiring the flamingoes and poisonous pools. After another night in Calama, we rode in a bus on Ethan’s 12th birthday to Arica. We had a supper of (not-so-good) pizza after we found that Jalapeno was closed. For dessert, we had really good ice cream, and Ethan opened his presents (shirts, colored pencils, candy, sunglasses case, Parcheesi). The next day we went up 11,500 feet and found ourselves in Putre. We were lucky enough to see four carnivores (all foxes—unfortunately. We were hoping for cats) with Barbara and on our own high in the mountains, higher than the top of Mount Whitney.

Yesterday we drove back down to Arica, and we’ll be here til noon tomorrow, when our Peru-bound flight takes off.

As you can see, our time in Chile has had its ups and its downs, but the best part has been the ice cream.

Ciao!

Carnivores from the Car

We went to the same place (Cantaverdi) for supper. I had the same meal (salmon with ensalada Nortina [grain, olives, lemon]). Our drive with Barbara wasn’t the same as on Saturday, though.

We actually saw carnivores! Looks like our luck is holding…

We saw twenty-five vizcachas (the chinchilla-like mammals), one guanaco (the same as yesterday), three tarucas (which are otherwise known as north Andean deer), three Andean foxes (cubs), and one rare diademed sandpiper plover. We saw some other birds, too, along with plenty of vicuñas, alpacas, llamas, and cows. Barbara was shocked (shocked!) to see the foxes, but we could tell by the bones littering the hillside that they’d been there a while.

Once our drive was over, we dropped off Barbara at her house and went back to our hotel, where Ethan and I did schoolwork (yuck) and eventually looked at the videos of the fox and cutting off Mom’s cast, among other things (those were the most hilarious).

Ciao!

Disappointments on a Down Day

Today was our last day in Valparaiso, so guess how we spent it?

Looking for lunch!

Mom chose El Pimentón after hours of lounging around, doing schoolwork, drawing, and typing (and all sorts of other exciting stuff!). Oh, and Dad napped (even more exciting!).

Anyway, this morning was kind of low-key.

 

On TripAdvisor, someone said that the rush at El Pimentón started at 1 pm. We left at two so as to (hopefully) get there after the rush.

We walked up Rainbow Alley (really called Santa Margarita) and up to Hector Calvo. After a few blocks heading downhill, we turned off onto Chopin (another side alley). Then we turned onto Walker Martinez (another alley), passing Strauss on the way. Finally we got down to Yerbas Buenas. Dad, looking at a map on his phone (which is not exactly correct) said that it was down a few blocks. So we went down and got to a four-way intersection. We decided to go General Mackenna. After about 100 meters or so, Dad realized it was the wrong street. So back we marched up Yerbas Buenas, passing Walker Martinez, Julio Caesar, and, finally, Eden.

“Okay, so you know that intersection back there?” Dad asked.

“Yeah.”

“Well, we were supposed to take the other street.”

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo… back we went down Yerbas Buenas and up Ecuador. It was just one block up. And then we read the sign: (in Spanish) No minors under the age of 18 permitted.

So.

We went down to the plaza where we had the (not very good) raspberry-mint ice cream a few days ago and found a place for lunch. Dad and I shared a salad and spaghetti, and Mom and Ethan had pizza. While we were there, we finally looked up maneki-neko. Maneki-neko are those cats that wave their arms. White symbolizes luck in general, black is for good health, and gold means monetary fortune.

Plaza Victoria was our next destination, and I got my typical cinnamon ice cream. Dad ordered a cup with chocolate, cherimoya, and lucuma. I didn’t really care for the latter two, but the chocolate mixed with the cinnamon was, as always, delicioso.

Ciao!

Lazy Luna

Luna was, apparently, the third visitor to our cabaña this morning. According to Mary Lou, Paz and Juan came by around seven to say good-bye. (Ethan and I were still asleep at seven, and our parents didn’t notice them.) Fortunately, Mary Lou came by after breakfast to say her own good-byes and give us the email addresses for Paz and Juan. At some point during the conversation, Luna slunk out of our house. Dad thinks she’s pregnant—she really is a skinny kitty except for her belly.

Mary Lou told us that Paz’s family is from Buenos Aires Province, and her dad is a veterinarian. Of course, Mom then had to say how our cousin is in veterinary school and all that. The family had left early to go on a seven-hour hike. We did a shorter hike—it was about 200 meters, actually, to a creek up near a glacier in the mountains surrounding Lago Mascardi. We also saw the Black Glacier, which is really just a glacier covered in a layer of dirt. These were the first glaciers Ethan and I’ve seen that I can remember. Mom went on to tell us a story about blue ice, how when she and Dad were in Alaska, they went on a plane ride around a glacier, took lots of pictures, and then got home and discovered that the blue part doesn’t show up on film.

The road system in that section of Parque Nacional Lago Nahuel Huapi is somewhat confusing: at the end, eight kilometers are both ways. There is also a section at the beginning, about twenty kilometers, which is both ways. After a corner, it’s one way. Starting at four, you could drive back from the glaciers to the park entrance/exit. We left after a meal of sandwiches and salad.

When we drove into town, we found part of a hill on fire. It seems like fire has been an awful lot of places lately: melting down the ends of the bracelets Paz and I made, burning down a club in Brazil and killing 231 people, inviting rebellion in Catching Fire

We’re now comfortably installed in Villa Sofia, eating delicious chocolate ice cream from Rapa Nui.

Ciao!

–[untitled post]–

Today was definitely a down day. Mom and Dad only went to take the laundry to the service while I made breakfast and Ethan showered. After that I made more bracelets with Paz while Ethan and Juan Cruz worked on the bow, Luna (the cat) napped, Mom and Dad read, Lucas followed his mother and baby brother Jose around, and Mary Lou made lunch. I was invited to stay for the meal, and Ethan lurked long enough to join in. It was chicken, salad, carrot and corn, and pasta. For dessert we enjoyed homemade raspberry ice cream.

Paz and I went back to making bracelets while the grown-ups talked. After all the adults, Lucas, and Jose went away for the siesta, Ethan and Juan continued working on their bow and Paz and I decided to take a quick dip in the (very cold) pool.

The family eventually left for Lago Puelo. We’ll have supper at Pizza Uno, where three of us ate while Mom was at the clinic.

Ciao!

(Almost) Done in Dubai

The United Arab Emirates like to be the “-est.” That means that they like to have the biggest, tallest, bestest stuff on Earth. They have one of the largest malls, Dubai Mall. Emirates (the airlines) have the largest order, 90, for Airbus A380s. They have the tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, the largest dancing fountain, and the only seven-star hotel, and also the fourth-tallest hotel, on the planet (that would be the Burj al Arab).

Before that, though, we went to the Jumeirah Mosque. Our tour guide had moved to UAE with her Muslim husband from England. She became a Muslim and now makes jokes to the tourists. When she was demonstrating how close they stand when they pray, she talked about how men and women don’t mix.

“How hard would it be to focus with two strange men rubbing against you on either side?” she asked. “Unless, of course, it was George Clooney.”

We rode in a taxi to the Dubai Mall. It was our first non-Pakistani driver: he was from Afghanistan. The general opinion of our former taxi drivers seems to be that Dubai is a place to make a living but it’s not home.

Our time in Dubai ends tomorrow when we embark on a 30-hour plane ride to Argentina. The general air of Dubaians is “It’s good here if you’re rich. It’s a fun place to be and it’s great but it’s very artificial.”

Ciao!

Cape Chaos

Today was our last full day in Cape Town. Tomorrow we fly to Johannesburg at five o’clock, continuing on to Dubai. We spent it lounging around, enjoying our warm showers, this morning and then revisiting the Company’s Garden, Signal Hill, and Gelato Mania, which was closed. The line up to Signal Hill was long and painful.

“Why are we doing this?” I griped. “For one last look,” Dad replied. “You’ll never forget this,” Mom added.

We walked around the top of the hill one last time and then drove down. This was after our visit to the Company’s Garden, where Ethan fed lots of pigeons. We then tried Gelato Mania before heading home for supper, where Mom fed us sweet-and-sour rice and vegetables with oranges. We then stood out on the Promenade and watched our last Cape Town sunset.

Now we have to fully pack.

Ugh.

Ciao!

Bitey Fishes and Rusty Mushrooms

We slept in til eight today, so we had a late breakfast and, by default, a late start. We decided to visit the lighthouse first and then do the death march in the afternoon. Before climbing to the top of the lighthouse, though, we stopped by the Meisho Maru (sure sounds like mushroom!) wreck where Ethan climbed and I petted fishes (although they tried to bite me in return).

At the red-and-white striped lighthouse, we climbed as high as we could go. The museum was closed, but Ethan and I entertained ourselves with 20 Questions until Dad—who dislikes 20 Questions—told us to stop. I got black rhino correctly, but Ethan couldn’t get tsessebe, oribi, or Cape turtle dove. (The tsessebe and oribi are both types of antelope that live in South Africa.)

We returned to our chalet and then headed out on our “blue” death march—our other options were the 10.2-kilometer yellow death march or the 4.2-kilometer red death march. Thankfully, we chose the blue, which is only three kilometers. After crossing the road, we saw a sign that read

Archaeological and Historical Site

Strictly No Entry

Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted

Ethan freaked out and refused to move and “break the law.” We finally made him go, and when we went down a fynbos-covered dune, I found a dead puff adder. It was squished for some reason, but I picked it up and it is sitting ten feet away from me right now in our chalet. Ethan refused to touch it.

We went to the blowholes, which don’t really blow, and finally passed the lagoon and reception before returning to Chalet 2. After much searching, I decided that we would just have to wing it for supper. We enjoyed pasta and fish at SeaGulls’, where I called a friend from home.

Ciao!

All Fun & Games

Today after a total freak-out as we crossed the supposedly shark-infested Mbashe River, Josi and Sophia roped Ethan and me into playing Dot Dot, Statues, and Wolfie, Wolfie.

Dot Dot was the last game we played. It is the hardest to explain: one person was the ‘caller,’ and they chose what the subject was. It could be anything from types of fishes to colors. The people on the other end (usually Josi, Ethan, and me) would form a huddle and choose, say, their colors. In that case, Josi chose pink, Ethan chose black, and I chose orange. Then one person would tell Sophia all three, and she would choose one and call it out. She and that person would run to where the other stood, yell “Dot dot!”, and try to be the first to return to their place, once again yelling “Dot dot!” The winner was the next caller.

Statues is much simpler. One person is it. The others are at some point behind It. They try to be the first to touch it and say “Question mark!” But there’s a catch. (There always is.) When It hears anyone, they turn around. The runners have to become like statues. If It sees anyone move, that person has to return to the starting point.

Wolfie, Wolfie involves the three people who aren’t the wolf saying “Wolfie, Wolfie, what time is it?” The wolf can say anything from one o’clock to twelve o’clock. The others have to go as many steps as hours. The goal is to reach the wolf first and become the next wolf. However, the wolf could also say that it’s dinnertime, in which case the wolf tries to tag one of the runners before they make it back to their spot.

This sounds like it was all fun, but after a while two screaming hyper little girls can get on your nerves. Thankfully, Mom showed up and rescued us.

Ciao!

Come Look Inside

I now invite you to turn off your cellular devices and any other noise-making electronics or young children. Cameras are allowed, but using the camera on your smartphone is not.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Chalet #1. There are two rooms. Walking through the front door you’ll see a double bed, and there is a cot to your left and a low mattress to your right. Also on your right, you can see a table with a hat, glasses, and a kettle on it. Beyond the wall the double bed is against are the bathroom and a closet. Now let’s do a U-turn and see what lies outside.

You’re now on the front porch of the plastic-walled raised cabin. To your right is a table, a bench, and an ashtray. That is the living room. On the ground in front of the living area is a tree with weavers’ nests. Return your view to straight ahead. You can see dirt and trees. Now go left and down five stairs. Go straight for about five meters, turn right for five meters more, then turn left and follow the stone-lined path for about 25 meters. Stop! You’re about to hit that table!

Turn right and pass the firepit. You’re now at a low brick wall. Follow the wall to the left to a bench. From this bench, you can see the waterhole that animals like rooibok, springbok, impala, elands, ostriches, wildebeest (or gnus as I like to call them), and many flying birds to visit. Keep going, past the metal crocodile and past the shallow pool. Go up the steps. Take a sharp right.

Oops! You just fell into the pool! Here’s a towel. Dry off and we’ll grab some rooibos tea from the restaurant. That’s right back down these steps and straight across the muddy path. Yes, it’s mud. In the Kalahari. That’s because those sprinklers are always on. Here, let’s sit down. The dogs are over there by the parking lot playing. Holly, the dog that looks like Sandy of Amble Inn B&B, is the wild one. However, it gets beaten by Candy, the dog that looks like Millie of Amble Inn B&B, in playfights.

I hope you enjoyed your tour. Thank you for choosing Reeder Tours.

Ciao!

Perthian Playgrounds

Today Ethan and I tested five different Perth playgrounds. Here are the results:

Near East Fremantle: – – – – –
This was, I think, the most disappointing playground. Where the sign said ‘Playground’ in big, bold letters stood a U-shaped wood structure with steps. That was it. I was not thrilled, and therefore did not join Ethan in trying it out.

The Steamboat: O O – – –
The Steamboat is right next to the river. It is shaped like a steamboat (*gasp!*), and Ethan and I played Escape on it. In case you don’t know what Escape is, I will tell you: The person who is ‘It’ closes their eyes and hunts, relying on their senses of sound, feel, and smell alone. They finally tag the next person, and that person becomes It. There are two ziplines, multiple horizontal ladders (that’s what I call them), and two rock-climbing walls.

The Pack-a-Punch Playground: O O O O –
The PPP was an orange playground. The actual playground part itself was made of ropes and just begging to be made an obstacle course. There’s also a zipline, swings, microphones, a slide, a sand pit, a see-saw, a spinning climbing net, and a tire swing. We did not play Escape on the PPP because it seemed too dangerous.

Playground in Miniature: O O O O –
The PIM gets a high rating because it was surprisingly fun. It had a tire swing and rocking horse off to the side, and then there was the main castle: a climbing rope wall, two Siamese-twin slides, a climbing wall, and a shelf beneath. The person who was not It regularly cowered on the low shelf.

The Playground for Children of Ancient Times: O O O O O
Ethan and I give this one a full 5/5 because we stayed there the longest. There was a clever sort of see-saw, a bar for me, a chain climbing wall, and a playground on which Ethan and I played Escape. It is for children of ancient times insomuch as the floor is rusted metal and some things are creaking and cracking. But it was So. Much. Fun!

Ciao!

Another Park: DNA Makes Its Mark!

Today we went to another park!

It was Kings Park, a 1,003-square-acre park, located near downtown Perth. We only visited about ten of those acres. What we visited includes the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) Tower, Synergy Parkland, and Lotterywest Family Area. The Parkland and Family Area were, yes, sponsored by Synergy and Lotterywest.

Our first stop was Synergy Parkland. It has a playground based on the dinosaur ages, with fake climbable Stegosaurus and little dino babies. Ethan and I quickly tired of it and sat down with our parents to enjoy the corn chips and the pumpkin and chili dips.

Next we visited two lookouts, from which we could see Perth, the Darling Range, and the harbor. At the Lotterywest Family Area, Ethan and I climbed on the Space Net. I did flips on the lower, stiffer ropes. Ethan challenged me to a round of C-O-W. Ethan went down to O-W when I did several flips he couldn’t perform. Then I did a drop that he thought I couldn’t do.

Ethan changed his mind and made yet more rules: “Okay, and these can’t involve flips.” I quit then and went to the ziplines. We zipped and lined for a while, then returned to the Space Net. We finally left for the DNA Tower, which supposedly has 101 steps. The stairs run like a double helix, with two sets of stairs, and from the top you can see Perth, Kings Park, and the Darling Range.

Our last stop was a ground. They took the ‘play’ out of ‘playground.’ I was very, very disappointed.

Ciao!

Sandy’s Stare and a Kangaroo Pair

Peter the rabbit is my favorite of the two rabid rabbits. Mr. Fluff is what I call the other one. (Peter really is the other one’s name.) I still love Peter even after all the scratches he gave me on my arms, ruining my tan by breaking the skin.

He gave me all those scratches after Mrs. Murray took us on a ‘tour’ of the land. She showed us the two ponds, the canola fields, their son’s house, Dennis fixing the barbwire fence, and the fields of yellow wildflowers she called dandelions (they weren’t our definition of dandelions). These flowers pollinated our shoes, so Mom’s hiking boots, which were once brown with the sands of India and red with the dirt of Ayers Rock, are now yellow with pollen.

Dennis gave Mrs. Murray, the four of us, and the dog Sandy a ride back to the house. Sandy is the rabbit-watcher. A herd dog by breed, she has a long attention span and was obsessed while Ethan, Dad, and I held and ‘played’ with Peter. Sandy is only three years old while Millie, the inside dog, is fourteen and nearly blind and nearly deaf.

Once Peter was safely in his pen with Mr. Fluff, Mom, Dad, Ethan, some food, and I climbed into the car and drove to the IGA supermarket. Mom and I got out and bought bread, chili-and-lime flavored corn chips, cheese, and lettuce for our picnic at the Pinnacles in Nambung National Park. We drove to Thirsty Point first and got attacked by sand.

At the Pinnacles Desert Discovery, Mom and Ethan flew through the Interpretive Center and discovered that there are no picnic spots. We eventually had a supper of sandwiches, oranges, and a chocolate-mint bar in the car. We saw three kangaroos at the next lookout: a joey in its mama’s pouch, Joey’s mama, and another one.

We watched the sunset that was 38 seconds late and then drove to Amble Inn B&B in mortal fear of suicidal kangaroos.

Ciao!

Building by the Bay, Part 2

 

We went to Gnaraloo Bay once again, and Ethan and I built things once again. The tide was coming in, but it was at the place where the beach drops a foot. Ethan put a line in the sand after I started building my own “castle.” I put a hole in the back of mine and a canal going through o that, should the tide actually reach it, there would be a place to store the water. It didn’t really work, though, and our time at the bay ended when trespassings started occurring and a land rights fight proceeded.
After doing homework, we went out to the dunes where Ethan and I tried to parental units and dead sheep. Supper was beans, salad, zucchini, avocado, and pumpkin, and then Dad, Ethan, and I made our own toast over the little fire on the stove.
Ciao!

Feelin Blue

 

Today was our day in the Blue Mountains, which are a three-hour ride from our house. We missed our first train so had to wait an hour for the next one. Meanwhile, I had a Drumstick and the other three had Magnums.
Once in the little town of Katoomba, we walked down the street and walked in to Hot French Bread. After long moments spent dilly-dallying we finally chose: a cinnamon roll for Mom, a piece of cake for Ethan, a chocolate eclair for Dad, and a sticky, sultana-y snail danish for me. We enjoyed these about
 an hour later at Echo Point overlooking the hilly forest. After eating those and some crushed multi-grain Pringles we looked down the cliff and walked out to the Three Sisters via the Giant Stairway. The mountains and sixty-degree weather had it feeling like home but with the Three Sisters…
After that we walked to Katoomba Falls on the muddy track. We saw the last trolley go by following a photo shoot starring a flock of yellow-crowned white parrots.  I went to entertain myself on the playground while Dad finally came to conclusion: we would walk back to the train station.
It wasn’t that far. It only took us thirty-three minutes including our time in Subway ordering our sandwiches. We ate on a bench in the cold but finally moved when it started drizzling. Just like home, right?
Ciao!

One Last Time

At a Swensen’s in Thailand… hopefully. We may actually get to go to India tomorrow! Swensen’s was pretty much all we did today except for swimming twice. The first time we were at Viva Gardens and Ethan and I swam by ourselves. Well, there were two little boys in the pool too, but they stayed in the shallow end. Ethan and I are such tall people that we could only be in the deep end (1.2 meters). Well, only in the deep end until we raced. We had one really long race at the end: three half-laps with different strokes (the crawl, backstroke, and breaststroke), touching each of the fountains on the spout, and all sorts of crazy things. Ethan eventually won and I was very disappointed.

At Swensen’s we all had chocolate ice cream (of course) and after that Mom and I looked at clothes in the Tesco Lotus (Swensen’s is in the building) while Dad and Ethan lurked. Once done there, we returnd to Viva Gardens one last time, picked up our luggage, and rode in a green taxi (green!) to BS Residence. After Ethan and I did our schoolwork for the day, we went swimming with Dad as Mom ordered supper from The Pizza Company. (Guess what we got?) It was a very successful day! Ciao!

Terminal 21- Almost an Airport

Terminal 21 is an awesome mall. We went to it today and finally figured out how it works: each floor is a different international city. The lowest floor (parking and dry-cleaning) was Bangkok… kind of. It had no theme but it was Bangkok. Above that is the food floor which was Caribbean themed. We even saw a sign on a palm tree for Half Moon Bay in Antigua and Barbuda. We’ve been there!

Above that was Rome which was a mix of clothes and accessories. Paris was the floor that connected to the skytrain station. That was handy during the sudden rainstorm. Tokyo, an escalator ride up from Paris, was full of fancy dresses that I lovelovelove. London was a short escalator ride away and it had one of those red double-decker buses. That floor was home to casual clothes. Istanbul connected to Paris by way of one looooong escalator. That escalator skips floors one and two and stops at the floor of knicks, knacks, trinkets, and baubles including giant stuffed animal poodles, video games, and postage stamps from Israel.

The fourth floor- San Francisco- was awesome. There was the Golden Gate Bridge above it, and when you looked at it from the fifth floor you could see the little toy cars on it. The San Francisco floor had Swensen’s (of course!) and even a trolley car. The fifth floor was also San Francisco: the coastal (food court) part of San Francisco. There was a Chinatown part, too, except there was Thai food in it. The sixth floor was Hollywood and there was a movie theater and gym there. Nothing particularly interesting.

It was the best mall I’ve ever been to, and we even heard One Direction! Ciao!

A Vientiane Visit

 

Today we leave Vientiane, Laos, and fly to Bangkok for the third time. There were many things that stood out about Vientiane, but the main ones for me were traffic, money, and animals:

 

Traffic: Laos’s capital’s drivers seem to take life slowly. There seems to be no “fast lane” here. There are also plenty of one-way streets which can make life stressful as you try to find a way to go south on a street that allows only north-bound vehicles. These vehicles include jumbos, motorbikes, tour vans, and VW bugs. Jumbos are the Laotian version of tuk-tuks… kind of. They are, as their name suggests, bigger with the seats in a U-shape instead of two benches opposite each other. There are mini-jumbos, which are technically the same size as tuk-tuks but, because of the shape of the bench, can hold more people. They are also the loudest and ricketiest “vehicles.” They buzz and whine and putt-putt their way through the streets, and our mini-jumbo this morning stopped running more than once while we were stopped.

 

Full-sized jumbos are a whole different story. They have three seats in the front, too, with the one in the middle being the driver’s and the other two for passengers. The seats have all sorts of different patterns on them, and the outside can be all different colors. My favorite so far has been a purple jumbo with seats that are purple with a pink stripe down them. We didn’t get to ride in it, but maybe we will on the way to the airport. That would be awesome! We probably won’t, though, because the most common jumbo color is white with red, yellow, blue, and green accents.

 

There aren’t very many songtows, but the ones we’ve seen have been, for the most part, stuffed. Just today we saw two songtows go by Swensen’s that were full of novices in their bright orange robes (that’s why we noticed them). Vehicles the same size as or larger than a Ford Escape seem humongous unless they’re a cement truck. The motorbikes are still here and dominating. At every stop in traffic, these little beasts move up to the very front of the line of traffic. The bicyclers could do this, but it seems like the only people on bikes on busy streets are tourists, who, for the most part, aren’t brave enough to get up to the very front.

 

Money: The official exchange rate is ₭8,024 per US$1 as of July 24, 2012. It fluctuates a lot; on July 20 it was 7,100 kip per US dollar. This makes prices like 72,000 kip seem low: that’s only US$9. The coins were deemed so worthless that they no longer mean anything. The bills are in denominations of 500; 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20,000; and 50,000, which is worth about US$6. There may be a 100,000 kip bill, but we haven’t seen one. Even then, though, it would only be US$12.5 (approx.).

 

The face on most of these notes is the face of President Kaysone Phomvihane, who was Lao PDR’s first leader.

 

Animals: The most common type of animal in Laos is probably humans, but dogs and ants are close seconds. Actually, ants most definitely outnumber people. The guide yesterday told Dad that a popular Laotian dish is fish and ants. The ants add acid, which is sour, and the people like that. Personally, I find that disgusting, but maybe I’d like it… if I felt like trying it. There are ants everywhere– on the sidewalk, in the fried rice yesterday, along the trail, inside Swensen’s, in my pants… (Yes, I did have ants in my pants.)

 

We are of the opinion that dogs in Laos (or, at least, Vientiane) are cuter than the dogs in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. There are four that live right around Vayakorn House: the short, furry one with floppy ears and a nasty bite, the tan short-haired dog of some kind, a black dog, and the cutest black and white dog with a heap of fur and a tail that looked like a fountain of black fur. The last one followed us home from Joma Café this morning because it smelled the chocolate chip cookies and banana cake Mom was carrying. It stopped at a sign post, we turned the corner, and I’m guessing it tried to decide what attitude the other three dogs would have towards it since it was an intruder. The little furry one looks like it belongs in Great Britain for some reason, but it can hold its own just as well as the tan and black dogs.

 

Pigs are here but we only saw a few yesterday in a truck heading towards Vientiane. There were four or five on the roof of the car and more below. They were all alive and smelly.

 

There are many cows here, too. Not in town so much (although we did see some along the Mekong on our first day) as the countryside. We saw dozens yesterday as we drove to and from the waterfall. Our songtow had a musical horn that was used to get the cows out of the way, although we usually just drove around them. Cows are very stupid, and we discovered just how stupid they are when we looked back and saw a calf running along the road with a van right behind it. It could have just turned to the right and been safe, but it chose to turn to the left just as another van was coming. It was hit.

 

It got up, though, and went back to running in its own little world.

 

I hope it lived.

 

Ciao!

 

Today Was a(n) [insert adjective] Day

You can comment on what sort of day you think it was after you read this. This is in chronological order according to the times on my stupid (you’ll see why) watch:

2:33: I wake up, look at my watch, think Thank goodness there’s still an hour, and go back to sleep.

3:25: Alarm doesn’t go off.

4:08: We wake up to Mom knocking on our door. I tell Ethan to get his butt in the shower, and I answer the door. We think she had been standing and knocking for quite a while.

4:10: Ethan finishes his shower- if you can call a nozzle sticking out of a wall and spraying the toilet a shower.

4:33: We’re all dressed, showered, packed, and out the door in the airport shuttle.

4:44: Our arrival at the airport is too early; we have to wait until five o’clock rolls around.

4:59: We’re checking in and the lady looks at our tickets from Bangkok to New Delhi.

5:00: She asks if we have our Indian visas.

5:01: We don’t.

5:06: She pulls up a list of countries whose citizens don’t need visas beforehand: Cambodia, Singapore, South Korea, Mexico, Vietnam… the US is not on there.

5:07: We head to the benches to regroup and an exclamation is heard: “I want to go home.”

5:38: A family sits down across from us, happily eating their Hilton breakfast and displaying their Swiss passports.

5:52: They finally leave.

6:37: We go to the United Airlines counter and reschedule our flight to India for Friday.

6:39: The benches are a wonderful find.

7:32: Our bags (except for Dad’s backpack) are left with the people at LEFT BAGGAGE.

7:33: We find another bench.

7:46: Ethan and I go up to the (frigid) observation deck. That airport has the AC on waay too high.

7:49: We head to the FamilyMart and look at all the sickly-sweet looking foods.

7:51: We return to our parents.

9:31: The female half of us changes the new flight to Saturday, July 28.

9:35: Mom goes looking for unguarded electrical outlets for her phone.

9:41: She returns with no luck.

9:47: We look for breakfast.

9:58: Chocolate waffles!!!

10:03: We buy our tickets for the airport train, which goes in to town.

10:07: Oreos are bought just to get some smaller bills/coins.

10:09: We begin to wait for the train.

10:23: It finally comes.

10:52: We quickly exit the station and walk to the tube.

11:09: We’re spit out of the train into the rain.

11:10: We start walking the wrong way.

11:22: We stop and ask where we are.

12:01: Finally! The stairs up to the GLAS HAUS loom in front of us.

12:07: We enter the Indian Visa Application Centre.

12:09: We’re back in the hallway to fill out the remaining three forms- Mom’s, Ethan’s, and mine- on the iPad.

13:12: We’re now officially in the Centre.

14:29: After being forced to pretend that my signature at age nine is still the same three years later, we leave with the promise to return with our passports next week.

14:57: The underground’s doors close too soon and I am left behind.

14:59: A Thai lady tells me that she’ll make sure I get to the right place (the next stop). That was nice, but I would have been perfectly fine on my own.

15:01: The next train comes.

15:03: I get off and Ethan tells me that Mom’s looking for me. Thankfully she didn’t go back (although we could’ve easily called her. We had four bars… underground!).

15:07: We’re back on our way to the airport.

16:32: Supper is served at Twin Time, a restaurant in the airport that serves tiny portions. My chicken satay and Thai iced tea were AMAZING.

17:49: Ethan invites me to come to the bookstore with him so he can show me the Justin Bieber book. Of course, he didn’t tell me this beforehand.

18:13: 31 Flavors! (Ethan counted- there were 30 flavors in 32 tubs. FYI, 31 Flavors is Baskin Robbins)

18:17: I try a spoonful of green tea ice cream. Be warned! (Unless you like greasy ice cream that tastes like moldy [and looks] like moldy vanilla.) Dad, Ethan, and I each get one scoop of Chocolate Mousse Royale and one scoop of World Class Chocolate. Mom had one scoop of the former and one scoop of mint chip.

18:31: Dad buys water at the 7-Eleven.

18:37: We retrieve our luggage.

19:29: We arrive at Mariya Boutique Residence, and I grab a banana.

20:46: Mom chokes on her malaria pill as I read her this post.

21:13: I bid you… Ciao!

The Day of the Doi

Today was another- and our last- day in Thailand. After waking up at an hour too early to write about, we went up to Doi Suthep and watched the fog roll in and out. Ethan and I also bought some bananas deep-fried in batter. These were delicious, although it was hard to tell how delicious they actually were because we wolfed them down so fast while they were still burning hot.

We had our typical breakfast at Nature’s Way: one mango pancake each for Mom, Dad, and Ethan, a banana pancake for me, a pineapple shake for Dad and one for Ethan as well, a pineapple-banana shake for Mom, and a watermelon shake for me. We were almost persuaded to buy a flower chain from the little old lady who was selling them on that street as it smelled so good, but we didn’t. I’m not really sure why.

Back at M.D. House, we finished packing and crammed our four suitcases, four backpacks, four people, and one hat into the van of Mr. Sombat. I decided that a van that big- it holds ten people plus the driver- would be a good way to carry my friends and me around town. Not that I actually have nine friends who would want to do that, but it was a pretty cool van.

We went up to Doi Kham which has a huge white and gold statue of Buddha. We were told that we didn’t have to take off our shoes to go inside the wat, which seemed crazy. But, being obedient little children, we did as the monk suggested and went inside, pausing to look at the Poster of Horrors on the wall. It said something in Thai, but the pictures made it obvious: the little blue people were the victims of the big yellow people’s abuse. The little blue people were being sawed in half, pressed to death, burned, hanged, poisoned, forced to work and climb cacti naked, and other horrible things.

The monk was, thankfully, right and we didn’t end up looking like the stupid tourists. There was a Thai couple who seemed very Buddhist. They had their shoes on.

Once outside on the balcony, we could see all of Chiang Mai. (All of it, that is, except for the part that was blocked by the hill to the northeast.) We could see, just below us, the gardens we went to a while back, where we first saw Doi Kham from afar.

Mr. Sambot took us back to the airport and we had Dairy Queen there. That was a mistake because we found chocolate Magnum bars in ToGo, a little store by the waiting area. Not that we were starving. My Blizzard was excellent, and the sandwich with mysterious contents on the plane was pretty good too. I don’t think it was so good, though, that the flight attendant needed to wake us up for it. We went back to sleep, though, and soon enough we were in Bangkok. Ciao!

Bidding Bangkok ‘Bye

Today we had a more relaxed day. After a typical breakfast (rice, eggs, mangoes, mystery sauce, chocolate soy milk, and pomegranate juice), we headed down the street to the Chimney Cafe for mochas and desserts: hot lava cake and whipped cream (I thought the sign said “Chocolate lava with whipped cream,” but it said “and” instead of “with.” They were right. There was more whipped cream than cake!), a brownie, and a piece of almond mocha cake. They weren’t all for me… :(. I had the lava cake, Ethan had the brownie, and Mom had the piece of cake. We all had mochas, which were, as usual, very good. Ethan also got a bottle of water because he “need[ed] something cold to drink.”

On our way home, we stopped by the Buddha Dharma Relics Museum across the street. It was a bit confusing since we’re not Buddhist because to us it seemed like the relics (such as brain, heart, skin, hair, tooth) were just little rocks. That makes us sound disrespectful, but no one could speak enough English to explain, and Wikipedia wasn’t much help either. There were stories written in English and Thai on the walls, though, and we read those and appreciated the many statues, including the three of Buddha in his three different outfits: one for winter, one for summer, and one for the rainy season.

Once home, we all went down to the pool and swam. Our parents got out after only an hour-and-a-half and Ethan and I left fifteen minutes later. I had Mom take 366 pictures on my camera. Okay, I didn’t have her do that. I let her do that. We just had supper in Bangkok for the last time at our favorite place, Buri Tara, which is across the street. Sigh. Well, duty calls. Ciao!

 

George Washington

Okay, this post is not about George Washington but about Washington (state) in general. We are at my aunt’s house in rainy Kelso, Washington, and, now that we’re all here, we’re trying to decide what to do. Two options on the table: minigolf and bowling. Tell me what you think!

Bur here’s what’s happening: my uncle and Fergus just came home from work, my father just woke up and is now discussing how we don’t have seats on our plane, Ethan just beat my aunt at Stratego, and my mother was a spectator of her sister’s epic loss. My cousin Candace, woke up early and left to babysit, and we’re having the time of our lives entertaining her crazy cat Jade with the fuzzy fish on a string. I think we’ve decided to go bowling. Well, at least it will be a totally new experience for me! Ciao!

So Long, Farewell #2

Okay, two hours later (1:45 pm) we were still at home, but a mere 34 minutes later we were at the bottom of our driveway. Everything fits (!!!), and Ethan and I have room to spare. We’re currently at our grandparents’ house saying goodbye and dropping off frozen and refrigerated goods, cherry tomatoes, a banana, and some potatoes. Also, it’s June 18. Shouldn’t it be sunny?!

(no) It is Oregon after all. Ciao!

So Long, Farewell

Today we leave the house. Tomorrow we go to the airport. Wednesday we fly.

It’s 11:45 and we’re supposed to leave in fifteen minutes. I personally don’t think that’s  going to happen because we haven’t checked our luggage yet… or finished laundry. In two hours, though, we’ll be on the road and this will seem like only a bad memory.

Tonight we sleep at my aunt’s house in Kelso, WA, and then spend tomorrow with her and my uncle and their puppy-in-training, Fergus. Tomorrow night we check into our airport hotel and on Wednesday, in two days, we fly from PDX to Seattle.

Have to go fold the sheets. Ciao!