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Tea with Catharine, Miyako, Dorothy and Derrick
Submitted by bugsly on Thursday, May 25, 2006 - 01:36 Car | Core | Foreign Language and Music Study | Japan | Physical and Health Education | Tea | Walk

Today we went to a visit a good friend of Catharine's who owns one of her Mother's (Edrica Huws) patchwork pictures. It is of two cats lounging on a set of steps and is just beautiful. We had a marvelous time having tea, eating blueberry cheesecake and enjoying each other's company. The view from her home was incredible, as she lives on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. She has lived there her entire life.

We spent most of our afternoon there, but eventually we had to say goodbye and we made our way back to Miyako's garden house for the evening.

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Tiananmen Square and Chairman Mao
Submitted by bugsly on Sunday, May 14, 2006 - 22:59 Car | China | Core | Foreign Language and Music Study | Physical and Health Education | Subway | Tea | Walk

We set off for the short drive to Tienanmen Square first thing in the morning. When we arrived, it was already crowded. The biggest line was to see Chairman Mao’s mausoleum. We wandered around the square and looked at the enormous portrait of him on the outside gate of The Forbidden City across the street. One odd but interesting thing that happened to us twice while in Tiananmen Square was that people from the area asked to have their photo taken with us.

After Tiananmen Square, we crossed the road underneath and came up on the other side at the gate for The Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is where the emperors lived with their families and servants for hundreds of years. Anyone outside the royal family was not permitted to enter.

When Chairman Mao came to power, The Forbidden City was opened to the public for the first time. We wandered through many ornate and intricately painted gates and buildings.

After The Forbidden City, we went to lunch at Qianmen Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant built in 1864. We ordered our duck and when it came to the table, we were handed a certificate of authenticity bearing its serial number. They have served more than one hundred million roasted ducks in the restaurant. The chef cut up the duck at our table, and sliced the head in half, left and right. Upon studying its brain, our duck appeared to be less artistic and more intellectual. The duck was tasty with plum sauce. My Dad enjoyed eating the crispy fatty skin. I, on the other hand, did not.

After lunch, we headed to The Temple of Heaven where we even more people asked to have their picture taken with us (with their camera). The building itself is designed under the ancient circle and square motifs. The circle represents heaven and the square, earth. The main building had just been freshly restored. It was magnificent.

After we left there, we went back to the hotel and crashed for the night.


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Intense shopping and bargaining
Submitted by bugsly on Saturday, May 13, 2006 - 23:14 Car | China | Core | Life Sciences | Physical and Health Education | Tea | Walk

Today was our first day in Beijing.

Our driver, Mr. Cmoe Qiu (pronounced “Cho”), picked us up and took us to the Friendship Store in central Beijing. We browsed through the store which had interesting as well as odd things in it. We finished up there and made our way to lunch with our new friends, Iris, Stellar, and Claire, Stellar’s seven year old daughter.

They ordered lots of good food for lunch and we had a great time getting to know each other. I taught Claire how to make cootie catchers and she really liked that.

After lunch we went to a clothing shop called SZBR that had locally designed and made jackets, pants and shirts. I found a great jacket and can’t wait to wear it!

After that, we went to the YaShow Market, which is a very intense experience. It’s four floors of presumably copied brand-name items. I bought myself a Paul Frank teeshirt and a skirt. My brother got two Ferrari shirts and my Dad got frames just like his own glasses. We had fun but were glad to get out of there.

By the way, nothing is the price that they say at first. So, be sure to haggle with them!


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Kowloon and on to Beijing!
Submitted by bugsly on Friday, May 12, 2006 - 23:24 Boat | Car | Core | Fly | Foreign Language and Music Study | Hong Kong | Physical and Health Education | Subway | Tea | Train | Walk

Thursday we visited a travel agent that helped us with our Japan Rail Pass. Then we took the MTR to Kowloon on the other side of Victoria Harbour. Kowloon was full of electronics shops. My Dad was in heaven. We went to a small jade shop that we walked by and I picked out a pair of earrings. The woman that helped us assured us that it was good quality jade and that the price was fair.

We then looked for a place to eat and on the way we went through the wedding dress district and saw lots of exotic looks for brides in the windows. After lunch we headed for the Star Ferry to take us back across the harbour.

We stopped by the travel agent on our way back to the hotel and picked up our passes. We had sushi for dinner at the California Sushi Restaurant.

Friday morning we packed for Beijing and said goodbye to Hong Kong for now.


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Victoria Peak on a Clear Day
Submitted by bugsly on Wednesday, May 10, 2006 - 23:35 Core | Foreign Language and Music Study | Hong Kong | Physical and Health Education | Tea

Today we woke up to wonderful, clear skies and headed out for the Tram to Victoria Peak. On our way, we walked through Hong Kong Park where we went up stairs for almost the entire time. In the end it paid off. When we got to the station, we bought our tickets and waited for the next Tram to arrive.

We rode the Tram, which has been in operation for more than 100 years, all the way to the top of the mountain. When we arrived at the top, the view was amazing. We could see all of the way across Victoria Harbour and the skyline of Hong Kong, Kowloon and beyond. It was special to have such a clear day and to be able to see so far (according to my Dad).

We had lunch there and then headed back down the mountain. Hong Kong is the home to the worlds longest pedestrian escalator. So, we took a taxi to ride it. My Dad suggested that we start at the top and go downward towards the markets. So the taxi driver dropped us off and we immediately discovered that the escalator was running up the hill as you would expect. So, we walked down, next to the escalator, an extremely long flight of stairs that covered more than 40 or 50 city blocks.

After that we found an antique store to explore and then my Dad and I headed to the outdoor market nearby and I bought presumably fake Paul Frank watches for my Mom and me ($2 each!).

It was a fun day! Hong Kong is a bustling, yet organized city.


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Phuket - Bangkok - Hong Kong at last!
Submitted by bugsly on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 - 23:45 Car | Core | Fly | Foreign Language and Music Study | Hong Kong | Physical and Health Education | Tea | Thailand | Walk

We woke up this morning and took a shuttle bus to Phuket International Airport. We got our flight to Bangkok and one hour later we landed. We got off of the Thai Airline airplane and got on to a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong.

Two and a half hours later, we landed in Hong Kong. Now we are back on track with our original travel plans. The drive into the city from the airport was spectacular. There were high rise apartment buildings like I have never seen before. The bank buildings were lit up in lots of interesting ways. Also there was a really long bridge that was equally amazing.

We got to our hotel, the JW Marriott, and checked out the mall that it is connected to (Pacific Place). We had dinner at a restaurant in the mall, but you have to understand that this is a super-fancy mall. It was a nice restaurant.

We were tired from our long day so we went right to bed after dinner.


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An Unexpected Visit
Submitted by bugsly on Monday, May 1, 2006 - 00:59 Boat | Car | Core | Fly | Foreign Language and Music Study | Israel | Physical and Health Education | Tea | Thailand | Walk

Wow today has been crazy! We arrived at the airport in Tel Aviv, Israel for our El Al flight to India. We went through security and then walked up to the check-in desk, we handed the nice ladies our tickets and passports and waited as she checked them. She gave us a sympathetic look and told us there was problem, we had not known that we needed visas before we got there, we had been under the impression that you picked them up when you landed. So... we had a problem on our hands, where would we go? The first thing we did was call Igal, we told him that we may need to come back, but we weren't sure. Moving along, we realized that since the next three days were and Israeli holiday and that the Indian embassy wouldn't be open and it takes five days for them to issue a visa so we would be stranded for over a week the final decision was to keep moving.

So where would we go? Well the options that were offered were:

Montreal, Canada: wrong direction
Johannesburg, South Africa: wrong direction, (but would still like to go)
Paris, France: been there, done that
Cairo, Egypt: done that too
Bangkok, Thailand: perfect

So Bangkok it was, we called Sheraton and they booked a room at The Royal Orchid Sheraton, canceled our flight to India and we were off. We boarded the plane at eleven thirty and arrived ten hours later (fourteen with the time difference) in Thailand. So here we are, we enjoyed a meal and show last night with traditional Thai dancers that can bend their fingers almost all the way back, and Thai food which is our favorite!

Sad news too, here in Bangkok it takes five working days to issue an Indian visa, so it looks as if we may have to skip India but we still need to do some checking in.


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London for the day
Submitted by bugsly on Wednesday, April 5, 2006 - 00:18 Algebra | Car | Core | Subway | Tea | Train | United Kingdom | Walk

Today after going to school, my Dad, Michael and I went up to London on the slow train to have lunch with our friend Sharon. We met her at Harrods at Door 9, walked through the food hall and had lunch. It was good to see her and we had a nice time catching up. After saying goodbye, we took a bus to Hyde Park Corner and we walked and did some errands before we went back to Bromley.


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Byby to Canturbury
Submitted by bugsly on Sunday, April 2, 2006 - 00:13 Car | Core | Tea | Train | United Kingdom | Walk

This morning we left Canterbury for Bromley. The train ride was gorgeous. We arrived safely and hailed a cab to Grandma Rachel’s when we got there we settled in after saying a big hello and relaxed for the rest of the day. Not much else went on; we did have a really good dinner though!


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Canterbury Cathedral and Handel's Messiah
Submitted by bugsly on Saturday, April 1, 2006 - 09:02 Car | Core | Foreign Language and Music Study | Physical and Health Education | Tea | United Kingdom | Walk

Breaking news! Today our hotel burned down!
April Fool’s!!!

This morning after a very good breakfast I went with my dad and Michael to see the University of Kent at Canterbury. It’s high on a hill above Canterbury and has amazing views of the city and Canterbury Cathedral. We saw the room where he first interviewed for the university and the duck pond next to his dormitory.

After seeing the entire campus, we went back into Canterbury to meet mom and split up to have lunch. Dad and I went on to have a great meal at a Moorish tapas bar. We then met up with mom and Michael again and went to see the Canterbury Cathedral.

Much to our surprise and delight, inside we got to hear the Canterbury Choral Society practicing for a concert that evening where they were to perform Handel’s Messiah. It was glorious to hear their voices in such a beautiful ancient acoustical space. We explored the Cathedral and saw the place where Thomas Beckett was murdered. We saw the steps that were so worn down from those who made a pilgrimage to Canterbury to workship at the Shrine of Thomas Beckett.

The Crypt below the Cathedral was dimly lit and when we went up and around to the top again, we saw the Tomb of the Black Prince and the ever buring candle for Thomas Beckett. Just as we were finishing our tour, we heard the Choral Society rehearse the final part of the The Messiah, the Alleluia Chorus.

It was so loud and wonderful and it was a real gift to be able to hear it there. Eventually we moved out of the Cathedral and our search for a traditional cream tea ended up in a mediocre coffee shop.

We headed back to our hotel and packed up for next journey on Sunday. We had a good dinner and went to bed.


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Fun Fact...

There are three types of "Kiwi's" in New Zealand. Kiwi birds, Kiwi fruit and the New Zealanders call themselves "Kiwis"!

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