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.


Schoolwork vs. Skiing

Well, I didn’t take my huge math test today. Instead, we went up to Eigergletscher (Eiger Glacier), which is the highest our train tickets take us without any extra charge. It was cold and snowing and, after viewing the white, we stayed inside for twenty minutes waiting for the next train back down the mountain.

We returned to Lauterbrunnen and Dad and I went to the tourist office. There, I was excited to get my hands on a ski map which shows the runs that were open in the 2012-2013 ski season. Looking around in Eigergletscher or Kleine Scheidegg, an Oregonian finds it hard to believe that it’s already May here and the ski season is over.

Oh, well—at least we crossed skiing off our list in Dubai.


Mini-Golf and Mini Market

We were on our way up to Grindelwald on the train after stopping for a short time in Interlaken. Ethan and I were excited at the prospect of playing mini-golf for the first time since Cape Town. Of course, it’s six times as expensive here, but it was still ‘enjoyable.’

After 18 holes with complex contraptions, Mom won with 80 points. Ethan had 108 and I had 107. Oh, that made me proud: it’s rare when I don’t place last in mini-golf.

On the bright side, the notepad on which the scorecard sat was pink, and so was my ball. Ethan had white, and Mom had yellow. The funniest moment was when Ethan, after giving up on a hole and getting the maximum score, decided he’d try it “just to see if you can really do it.”

The ball went straight up the ramp and flying into the net.



Mom insisted on shopping (ew) afterwards, and she and Ethan darted in and out of little tourist shops. In the end, we missed the train up to Kleine Scheidegg by two minutes and had to wait another half hour.

In Kleine Scheidegg, we switched trains to Lauterbrunnen. The car was stuffed with Indian tourists—a slight change after our ride up to Kleine Scheidegg, when we once again had half of the train to ourselves.

We walked home after not shopping in the Coop (the local mini supermarket). We had stood outside the automatic doors, but they hadn’t opened, so we had thought, Must be closed. Although it is odd that the Swiss wouldn’t do something on time (it was 6:17 and the shop closes at 6:30).

As we walked away, a man walked through the automatic doors.

Oh, well. We’re eating a chocolate bar as consolation (and dessert). It has three flavors in the squares: green (disgusting and nasty), orange (yummy), and pink (eat this one!).


French Staircases

Today we went to a major attraction in Paris. That major attraction was proved to be major by the large line that was already forming by the time that it opened. The attraction was the catacombs. The catacombs of Paris are large and extensive, and they used to serve as a quarry for limestone up until after the French Revolution.

Now, after climbing down flights upon flights of stairs, a visitor can see that there are bones galore stacked on top of each other for about six feet above the floor. There are what we think are femurs stacked for about two and a half feet, before a row of skulls, and then another set of femur stacks and another set of skulls. On the top are assorted bones, mainly mislaid skulls. There is an estimated 6,000,000 bones in all of the catacombs, unlike the catacombs in Rome, in which Eryn and I only saw a single bone.

Eventually, we left the catacombs and rode the rails to a basilica that overlooks the whole city. After going inside, we climbed up to the dome. From there, we could see the Eiffel Tower. When we got back down, we watched a guy play with a soccer ball, including making it spin on a stick, putting that in his mouth, and then climbing a lightpost.

That’s all for now, Folks!

Cash Calamity and Cafe Clock

“I’m sorry, sir, but there’s a problem.”

Where have we heard those words before? Oh, I know! At the Bangkok airport when we didn’t have our Indian visas!

Well, this wasn’t as dramatic:

“Do you have cash?”

“I can’t pay in cash,” Dad replied.

“Okay, let me see what I can do.”

A few minutes later:

“Do you have cash?”

“I can’t pay in cash. I don’t have enough.”

“Okay, I need to make a call…” the woman at the front desk trailed off, grabbing the phone and speaking rapidly in French. Eventually, she asked, “Okay, where’s your credit card?”

That was a relief.

We missed the first tram, but six minutes later another arrived going the same way and we got on it. The red trams have only been working since March, and they look a bit like a bullet train.

We only rode for about five stops before getting off at the train station to catch our 11:15 train to Fez, Morocco.

We caught it with plenty of time to spare. We were relieved to get into the right first class car (the other was at the waaay other end of the train, and you couldn’t walk through the train to get to it).

Eventually, the train chugged past all the green fields and cities (including Morocco’s capital, Rabat) and pulled into its final stop, Fez. We found a man with a sign reading “Jerry” and followed him out to his van, where we put our luggage and ourselves.

We got to our lodgings, and we were shown the local market, where we eventually bought bread, yogurt, cheese, counterfeit Nutella, bananas, oranges, and olives (Ethan’s favorite—not).

Back home, I worked on my French before heading out with Dad to look for Café Clock. We found it and returned for supper: I had a chickpea burger with French fries and a mocha, while Mom had chicken with raisins and almonds and Ethan and Dad shared a plate of tapas and some falafel.


Sales and Starbucks


The crypt next door to Evita's in the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is for sale.

The crypt next door to Evita’s in the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is for sale.


In case you’re interested, there is space available next to the Duartes’ mausoleum, which includes the brother, two of three sisters, mother, and body of former First Lady Eva Peron. I’ve provided contact information above.

Walking between the granite walls reminded me of walking through a street in BsAs—all doors, doors, doors with hardly any windows. Everything comes right up to the sidewalk—no set-back entrances (except for our apartment building).

We got to the Recoleta Cemetery after a joy ride in an old subway car on Linea A, a quick bite of ice cream, a long walk to the Floralis Genérica, some refreshments at Starbucks, and a quick view of the old cloisters. It was my first time as a real customer at Starbucks—and I got a bottle of water. Mom got a sour Raspberry Smoothie, Ethan ordered a Chocolate Crème, and Dad selected a Mocha Frappuccino and a chocolate cookie. When our orders were served, Ethan’s drink tasted coffee-y and Dad’s tasted very sweet and chocolaty. Turns out they had botched the orders, which were written on the side of the cup. So Dad complained and the problem was solved. I liked the Chocolate Crème a lot.

Floralis Genérica is a huge metal flower that opens at eight in the morning and closes at sunset. If strong winds blow, it also closes. The flower stays open on four nights of the year: the nights of May 25, September 21, December 24, and December 31. After we had seen seven cats in the cemetery, we started the long journey home.

There are 40,000 taxis in the city of Buenos Aires. Sadly we didn’t use one to get home: we walked for twenty minutes, got on Line D, switched to Line C, and then walked out from underground and home. Well, Dad and Ethan went home. Mom and I went to the supermercado for milk, bread, and soup ingredients. When we came back I unlocked the door and heard a clanking sound. I thought I’d dropped something. Turns out it was the other pair of keys, which were stuck in the door. Dad and Ethan were nowhere to be found.

We found them. Ethan’s hair is shorter.

Also, before we left this morning I watched the new “Kiss You” music video! (Which is by One Direction, naturally.)


Carnarvon Capers

Carnarvon is a little town on the Indian Ocean. It is (obviously) in Australia, directly across from South Africa. It is the only place where the Australian desert touches the ocean, Indian or otherwise.

It is also home to Mt Augustus, which is more than twice as large as Ayers Rock, but apparently less impressive because it is covered in shrubbery.

Carnarvon is, as Dad put it, a resort town without the resort. It is a very sleepy little town, but it has oceanfront property, three banks, three supermarkets, a dozen restaurants, and even a Target Country. The town must have a gymnastics club, too, because yesterday at Post Office Café there was a girl on the lawn doing cartwheels, handsprings, splits, handstands, and head stands.

Carnarvon has a few places of interest, including Mile-Long Jetty, which was built out into deep water. This way big ships could have an easy way to transport goods to the mainland. There is now a train out to the end, or you can walk, but both cost money. There is a new Interpretive Center being built between the jetty and the old sheep-shearing museum.

We also went to Pelican Point, where we felt the chilly waters of the Indian Ocean wash over our feet. Ethan tried to be elusive among the sand dunes, but it didn’t really work.


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?

Time-taking Transportation

Getting to places from a suburb called Beverly Hills takes forever in Sydney. Thankfully there is a complex transport system and a handy app called NSW TransportInfo. (NSW stands for New South Wales, the state in which Sydney is.) To get to the main harbor (Circular Quay train station) from here takes about an hour.

First you have to walk to the Mortdale train station. You have to get on and head toward Bondi Junction. You get off at Central (or Redfern or Town Hall) and change trains. After riding a few more stops you get to Circular Quay and the main harbor.

The way with less walking is: walk to a nearby bus station and ride to the Padstow train station on the green line. Get on the train and ride all the way to Circular Quay.

Once we were there we poked around until we missed the 2:10 ferry to Watsons Bay. To waste forty minutes we got on the train, switched at Redfern, and crossed the bridge to take in the view. We promptly got off at Milsons Point and took the next train back to the quay.

Finally we were on our ferry. We went through all four stops and were informed as we stepped on to dry land that that was the last ferry to Watsons Bay.

We were stranded! (Not.) So to ease our minds Ethan and I went to a playground and rode the spinning seesaw. After we tired of that, we walked up the hill to the cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The last time we saw the ocean (not from a plane) was last spring in Costa Rica. And it was the same ocean, too.


Parking [a]Lot

Isn’t it interesting how you park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?

(Unrelated content above.)

Today we went to three parks. Two were intentional. One was on the side of the road. The three parks were Plaza Park, Millennium Park, and Sydney Olympic Park. The Plaza and Millennium Parks were in the Olympic Park. We saw the Millennium Park as we rode by on a ferry up Parramatta River. We got on a train at Parramatta (which is a city, separate from Sydney) and rode to the Olympic Park. Once there we argued about the correct way to go and finally went the right way (my way). After a few minutes, Ethan saw the playground at Plaza Park and headed for it.

It was a climbing playground, filled with ropes walls just begging to be scaled. Ethan was done in five minutes.

Kilometers later, we arrived at the ferry wharf and walked the 2.7K to Millennium Park. Dad was waiting for us there.

The Millennium Park is awesome. There is a giant chess board with foot-tall pieces (the king is two feet), swings, a giant fort, slides, tunnels, climbing “walls,” a spinning thing, a giant spider web, and zip lines. Ethan and I had a race that went from the top of a hill, through the tubes, across the web, up and down the fort, down three slides, across a beam, and to a pole. It got cut short after Ethan had gone down two slides and I had gone down one. The sun had set so the park was closed. Ciao!

Teeter-Totter Train, Take Two

We finally arrived in Delhi, India, after eighteen hours on the train from Jaisalmer all the way to the Old Delhi Station.

The ride was relatively uneventful. We had take-out from Hotel Surja that included rice, paneer, pakora, korma, and chipatis. It was very good, and we finished supper with cappuccino Bourbons, which are the best cookies here.

First class was a relief, although I didn’t think much of the mouse that crawled down my curtain.

Today is Independence Day here, so the taxi drivers had a day off. We were hoping for a pre-paid taxi, as Sandy Jerath, owner of Jerath’s Villas, said that he could send a driver but it would cost twice as much as a pre-paid taxi at the station.

Well. Even Sandy’s drivers had a day off today. So Dad called and Sandy told us what to do. We got on the Metro and rode to Green Park station. We got off and walked a little way to the white temple. Sandy picked us up in his car and drove us to Jerath’s Villas. We went up all the trillion million stairs to our rooms and decided to rest. At about five-thirty we went outside, had ice cream, and went to the park down the street.

We returned in time for supper at seven-thirty. It was good, and we once again had Bourbons to finish it. Yum! Ciao!



I woke up at- oh, this hurts- 3:20 am take a shower so we could be in a taxi at four. Our train was supposed to leave at 4:45. It left at 6:30.
Between these times, we saw a pickpocket trying to rob a man sleeping on the platform. We think he failed.
Once on the train, we went to sleep and when I woke up, I put my hand on the window. It was the inner of two. And it was almost hot.
Our train finally chug-chug-HONKed into Jaisalmer. The brown buildings were a welcome sight after hours of red dirt. We got off and maneuvered our way to the exit and the man holding the sign that said “Jery.” Four people, four suitcases, four backpacks, and one hat piled into the Jeep. The vehicle slowly wove its way up narrow streets, into the fort, through four gates,  and to a small parking lot. We got out and walked the fifty meters to Hotel Surja. After the necessary obsessing over our rooms, we settled in, cooled off (we were already drenched with sweat after only fifteen minutes outside), and waited through several short power outages.
Dad decided we needed to go explore, so we left the fort and walked up and down a few streets. Thankfully we didn’t get lost. After another short power outage, we went up to the roof and ordered a round of lassis. I should have remembered the hot “chocolate” of Mandore Guest House. It was only a lassi with hot cocoa powder mixed in. Yuck. And that should have prepared me for the custard at desert which was like hot pudding with, once again, hot cocoa powder mixed in. I’m sure breakfast will be better, though, since they have toast, which I pretty much eat by the loaf. Ciao!

When in Jaipur: an Introduction to the Devi Niketan Hotel

Right now I am sitting in a room on the second floor of an old building with wall paintings and marble floors. It is called the Devi Niketan Hotel and it is run by Madhvendra Singh, an admiral that was in the Indian Navy a while ago. All along the walls by the stairs, there are certificates and plaques that are commemorated to him, and they are from a lot of different places like Vietnam, Australia, and the United States.

As you probably don’t know, we got off of the nice train last night and found an man waiting for us to take us to our hotel. We got into a car with him and got driven to the Devi Niketan Hotel, which, luckily, is right by the train station. Once there we had a refreshing glass of pepsi and went right up to our rooms, which are right next to each other and each open up onto a patio. Most of us slept well, and by later that day, those select few (me included) were well rested. The breakfast served there is somewhat like what you would expect from an American Hotel-eggs, cornflakes, and toast-so it was a little bit bland, but we all got through it and decided to see the admiral about things to do in Jaipur.

After he advised us a bit, we went back up to our rooms for about two hours before heading down to the heavily clorinated pool. It hurt my eyes. Then we went on a walk down the road to an ice cream shoppe and a couple of malls. That was boring, except for the ice cream, that is.

When we finally went for supper, we were all pretty tired and went to the bank before heading down the road some more to a restaurant called Four Seasons, which had very good food. On the way back, we took a tuk-tuk called the Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.

At Last…!

We got to sleep in! (Sort of) We were allowed to wake up as late as 7:30 so we could have breakfast an hour later. Shiron’s mother made an Indian breakfast for us: putis and a potato curry. You’re supposed to scoop the potatoes into the puti (which is like a tortilla that is very thin and circular) and stick it in your mouth, using your right hand of course. (In case you’re wondering, Shiron is the owner of N Home Stay.)

After eating, we finished packing and learned more about the power outage: it was nation-wide and had happened at about one in the morning. I heard our AC go off and wondered what had happened. I didn’t learn until Mom woke us up that the power had gone. Thankfully, though, Agra got some of its power back so we could stay cool. Shiron had a battery that powered the lights but, sadly, not the AC.

Shakil’s friend, Jeetu, drove us to two monuments on the outskirts of Agra. It was surprising how much water there was in the roads after just one night and a couple of hours of precipitation. In some places it was about a foot deep. The road was not designed very well as parts of it were washed out and the middle of the road was far higher than the edges.

I was kind of surprised that it took about an hour to get to the first monument and then forty-five minutes to get to the next. From there, it took about an hour to get back to N Home Stay. On the way back, Ethan thought he saw Shiron in a tuk-tuk. Mom didn’t believe him but Ethan turned out to be correct! Shiron’s car had broken down because of the water.

When we said good-bye, Shiron’s mother gave Ethan and me a bag of masala-flavored Tangles, which are like pieces of cereal. We enjoyed these on the train about an hour ago along with some cookies and crackers we bought at the train station and Vientiane. (Yes, those are very old cookies.) We finally started moving again and we’ll be to Jaipur in a while. Ciao!

Entering India

We arrived in Agra last night at eight after five hours on the plane and about four hours on the train and too many hours awake. While on the ramp out to our plane, I picked up an Olympic magazine, which kept me company along with A Thousand Words on our flight. Once we landed and went through customs and immigrations, we got some cash, water bottles, and mochas. The mochas were delicious, and so was the Oreo brownie Ethan got. My peach and banana cake was bland and dry.

We got into a rickety taxi at Post 36 and rode to the train station. It took forever and gave us some more near-death experiences. Once at the station, we waited until 4:30 to go down to the train. The doors finally opened and we piled on. We were seperated because, if you will recall, we got these tickets last week because of our visa problem. Mom and I had seats 17 and 18 in AC-1 and Dad and Ethan had seats farther down but still in the same car. In case you’re wondering, AC does stand for air-conditioning.

After several delays, we arrived in Agra. A man named Shakil picked us up, and he joked how he was Shaquille O’Neal. Shakil drove us to a place for supper where we had naan, rice, lady fingers (okra), and two main dishes. He then took us to N Home Stay and we finally went to bed. 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!

Teeter-Totter Train

Last night was, quite literally, a bumpy night.

When we got on the train to Chiang Mai, we were expecting- well, I don’t know what we were expecting. I don’t even know what I was expecting. However, I have one-word descriptions on several different points:

Funny- The lady selling the Lays and Pringles was going up and down the hall saying, “Sheeps, sheeps.” (She meant “chips,” but she had a very strong accent.)

Overwhelming- At least, this is how I see the man who took our meal orders and served us. He was also our alarm clock, and as soon as we unlocked our doors this morning he was there with breakfast.

Gross- Most of breakfast. We all drank the juice and had the two slices of toast, but I think I was the only one who ate beyond that. I had a few bites of the slimy fried egg and the piece of carrot.

Tasty- Supper could be described this way. We ordered ours without the duck and pork and were, I think, pleasantly surprised. For the main course three of us had the sweet-and-sour chicken and vegetables (which consisted mainly of baby corn and onion). Ethan had the chicken with macadamia nuts. His curry was red, unlike ours, which was whitish with chicken and onions. We all had the same soup, and three small slices of pineapple were our desserts.

Umm…- Okay, this isn’t exactly an adequate description of the fruit plate we bought, but it’s accurate. There were apples, huge grapes, and three or four other types of fruit that I can’t rightly name.

Loud- That would be the train.

Bumpy- Also the train.


Certainly Saying “So Long” to the City

As the miles of rails pass by, we get to think about what we did in Bangkok, especially what we did today: we hit three malls in the time frame of less than six hours. Obviously we didn’t hit every stall and shop, but we went to the important things: Cream and Fudge Factory (for the best ice cream since Friday) and Madame Tussauds wax museum. My experiences?

I got to cuddle up to Justin Bieber, have a friendly conversation with George Clooney, be Oprah Winfrey’s guest, take charge of the Oval Office as President and First Lady Obama looked on, moonwalk with Michael Jackson, backup dance for Madonna, get a hole-in-one with a jealous Tiger Woods watching, play Wii tennis with Serena Williams looking on in total awe, win four Oscars– dream come true, play paparazzi to an Asian celebrity nicknamed “Pancake,” be Bruce Lee’s replacement figure, yearn for One Direction figures (and be duly disappointed), pose with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt on the red carpet, show Picasso how to make a perfect painting (an eyebrow with an eye!), be taught by Beethoven, and take pictures of many, many more, including Princess Di, Buddha, Gandhi, King Rama IX and his wife, Beyonce, Nicole Kidman, and Will Smith.

Once we had fully appreciated the wonders of waxmanship, we found our way to the sky trains station and headed to Chong Nonsi. There we switched to the BRT and rode for seven stops down to Wat Pariwat. After one last look at the Star Estates @ Rama III building that was our home for a week and the temple that was our view for a week, we grabbed our luggage and hopped in a red taxi. It’s funny- we’ve been in Bangkok for about eight days and had had only one taxi ride. The taxi was green and yellow. The most common color is pink. And, nooo, of course we couldn’t ride in a pink one! If we had gotten to the curb with all our luggage a mere minute earlier, the pink taxi would’ve been ours. Instead, it was pulling away with a single tourist in the back. Sigh.

On a brighter note, we made it safely to the train station, got our postage stamps (for the postcards) and Trident gum from the 7-Eleven across the street, read our social studies books (Beware, Princess Elizabeth and Horrible Histories: The USA), and boarded our train. An hour later, we’ll still technically in Bangkok. It’ll take us thirteen more hours by rail to get to Chiang Mai, when it would have taken a mere hour-and-a-half by air. Ciao!

High ‘n’ Dry

Let me start off by saying we were neither high nor dry today. Now I will continue:

We were going to visit the floating markets of Dar, but we, as obvious American tourists, were advised against it. Instead we had the second-most laid-back day of our trip. We had our typical breakfast of rice, eggs, and some mysterious (but thankfully mild and flavorful) sauce. We also had oranges. We spent a while after that just dilly-dallying until about ten. After a few stops, we finally got off the sky train at the Sala Daeng stop to visit the park given to Bangkok by King Rama the sixth. It’s called Lumpini Park, which is a very Italian name. That explains the sign on a nearby skyscraper that reads “ITALIAN-THAI” in fifteen-foot red letters. That building also has a big white sign on it that says Oregon!

Way back in the 1920s, when the king gave the civilians the royal property, the area was on the outer edge of town. Now it’s in the middle of the business district and has two train stops- a Metro and a sky train- on its edges. There’s also a big statue of the king. The park was named after Lumbini, which is where Buddha was born in Nepal.The whole area is 142 acres and has plenty of things to do, including watching the water monitors and people, paddle-boating in boats that look like ducks, zoning out in the shade, playing on the playground, and getting soaking wet in the sprinklers on the ground and fountains in the lake. We did all of these things, plus getting bit by mosquitoes, bouncing on the see-saw, playing “Escape” on the play structure, “working out” on the gym equipment, and getting pelted by rocks from the edger.

But that wasn’t even the most interesting part of our day. At the station that connects the bus system and the sky train system, we saw part of a movie being filmed. We weren’t in it (sadly), but all the extras were white and the cameramen were speaking in English and the five main actors looked slightly familiar. This isn’t the first time that we’ve been in the same city as some famous people. When we were in Venice in 2010, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp were there filming The Tourist. We figured this out because there was a sign by a canal that said something in Italian, but we found the words “The Tourist” and “filming.”

After that “exciting” event, we went on to the food stalls where we bought our first “street” food: waffles. They came in all different styles, including maple (which I got) and cranberry, and with all sorts of different fillings, including chocolate (which we all got), taro root, Thai custard, and red bean. The outside of the waffle was the best I’ve ever had except for in Florence, Italy: large grains of sugar and coated in a sweet syrup. On the return trip, we got some dried kiwi and mango from a different stall. Yum!

On the way home we bought some groceries at MaxValu, including ice cream, chocolate soy milk, and pomegranate juice. For supper we’ve ordered two pizzas. Since we’ve been home, we’ve swam in the pool, ordered two pizzas and a salad, eaten the dried mangoes, and worked on schoolwork, which made it just a typical day in Bangkok.

Where was that restaurant again???

Ice cream and pizza, in Thailand!!! Who would’ve thought?!?!?!
Sounds more like Italy, except there you would change it to be gelato and pizza (or would that be piazza??)
Anyway, today started out like any other day, we got up, took showers and had breakfast. But that is as far as the similarities go, today we stayed at ourbapartment building doing schoolwork until we left for supper. Eryn had looked up everything for our supper arrangements and had it all planned out when we found out that she had remembered the wrong mode of transportation. So, instead of doing that, we decided to go to a Lebanese place somewhere down the street.

Guess what, it wasn’t there, so we changed our plan again and decided to go to a piazza place. The pizza was okay, but what I really liked was the chocolate ice cream…..YUM!!!!!

Exploration & Transportation

Today was apparently cooler than yesterday, but obviously we couldn’t tell. What we could tell, however, was that the Or Tor Kor vegetable market was missing because of construction in the area. We walked what seemed like miles just looking (and never finding) it. It was supposed to be right by the Jatujak Market (nicknamed “JJ” by the locals), but we walked up and down and side to side on those streets and never found it. We did, however, find the three main forms of transportation in Bangkok: BRT, BTS, MRT. (The bus rapid transit, the sky train, and the underground.) Well, all three except for the Chao Phraya Express (pronounced Chow Prayuh), which is the system of taxis on the Chao Phraya River (แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา).

First, we got on the BRT at the stop 50 feet away from our apartment– Wat Pariwat. Wat (วัด) means ‘temple’ in Thai, and, yes, there is a wat that you can see from our balcony. Anyways, we got on the BRT and rode to the Sathorn station, which is the end of the line. It connects to the BTS station Chong Nonsi. As you should remember, the BTS is the sky train. Most of the people on our train, including a Canadian family who, no, Destiny, we did not talk to, got off at the station that connected one line of the BTS with the other. That was at the station of Siam. After that, we got off at the last stop on the second route, Mo Chit (หมอชิต). Once you walked out the doors, you were in the blazing Thai sun and the Jatujak park and market. We arrived around 8 am and finally left at around noon.

On the return trip, we entered the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit- การรถไฟฟ้าขนส่งมวลชน) station of Jatujak Park. The moment we entered the shade, it seemed like it was five degrees cooler. As we descended into the tunnels, it became even cooler until we were in the train itself and it was like a freezer. It was on there, and at breakfast our first morning in Thailand, that we noticed the weird TV ads they have. I’m not going to describe any, for the sake of both my weary fingers and the content, but some are very interesting.

We rode the MRT to the MRT Si Lom/Sala Daeng BTS station and boarded the sky train. We rode the one stop to Chong Nonsi, where we switched to the BRT. We rode the bus from the first stop on the route– B1:Sathorn– to B4: Thanon Chan, which is where our landlord told us the Tesco Lotus was. Well, we looked and asked and were finally redirected to the next station, B5: Nara-Rama III. We walked a ways, found the store, and ate sandwiches at Au Bon Pain. After we bought some groceries like rice and eggs and Tim Tams, we found a Bangkok map and finally arrived in our own B7: Wat Pariwat. Ciao!