Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ancient Greece



Well poop (can teachers say poop?) I made a whole movie of ancient Greece and it is not letting me upload it. It has been trying for hours and nothing is happening. So, you get to see the Parthenon and that is about it. A central thing to Greece is Agora which was in its time the hub of Athens. It was where festivities, religious events, political rallies, and governement meetings took place. The big hill next to Agora is known as the Acropolis which is where temples to the Greek gods were built. These temples also served as meeting places just like down in the central part of the city. Over time, when Greece was invaded by different armies (Roman, Turkish, and Slavic to name a few) the buildings began to crumble and some were lost completely. In modern times (over the past couple hundred years) pieces of these buildings have been found and the ancient city is being restored!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I love Greece






I LOVE GREECE! I love the sites, the sounds, the smells, and most importantly, the food! I have a greek salad everyday for lunch and it is SO GOOD! We are off to the islands to relax on the beach and explore what once may have been the area of the lost city of Atlantis! Did I mention that I LOVE Greece. I think I may move here and teach one day. I may have to learn Greek first though and that will be tricky. You know the expression "It's Greek to me" meaning something is confusing or you can't understand it....well, it is a reason they say Greek for that. This is a confusing language!

The city of Wisdom









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We are here in Athens, Greece. Strikes and demonstrations seem to follow us though. The day after we arrived here was a big strike. People were upset about the government overspending and using money to bail out other companies. The people feel as though they are not getting what they are entitled to now. So they striked and had a big rally in front of the parliment building (which was near where we were staying!) Everything was closed that day and walking around Athens was like walking around a ghost town. There was nobody out and about. I loved it though. Everything is so different from what we have at home and it was fun to see it all with no people around. The next day we were not so lucky-it was SUPER CROWDED! Anyway, Athens is called the city of wisdom after the goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom. IT is known as the oldest city in Europe as well as the safest!




Friday, May 21, 2010

Burj Khalifa



videoWe visited the tallest building in the whole world which is located in Dubai. We rode up the 828 feet in one of the world's fastest elevators (we went up 10 meters per second) and when we stepped off we could feel the building swaying...that is how high up we were. It was pretty amazing!

Desert Safari

















We had so much fun on our desert safari! We got to go dune bashing through the UAE desert which was a blast! I got just a little car sick (I think it made the driver nervous!) but had so much fun. After slipping and sliding through the sand, we got to ride on a camel. The we got to sandboard (which is like snowboarding on the sand). We also got henna tattoos (don't worry, they wash off!) and got to see traditional dancing (of course I had to join in.) Afterwards we ate Arabic food which means lots of hummus! After dinner we got to try on the muslim clothes. Someone helped to put my sheila on this time so no hair was showing! It was awesome!

The Grand Mosque

The Grand Mosque is the 3rd largest mosque in the world. Abu Dhabi would have liked for it to be the biggest the the people of Mecca and Medina (the muslim holy lands) would not allow a mosque to be bigger than theirs. A mosque is a muslim place of worship. This particular mosque is made of marble from all around the world. It contains the largest carpet in the world inside and the largest dome in a mosque on the outside. There is a large center room for men to come and pray and worship and 2 side rooms for women. Women and men are not allowed to touch ir be near one another for prayer that happens 3 times a day. In order to go into the mosque, Sophie and I had to wear an abaya and sheila. Unfortunately I have slippery hair and my sheila would not stay on my head. I had a couple of warnings from a security guard to cover my head immediatly. Shawn and I were not allowed to get too close or touch in the mosque.

United Arab Emirates




We made it to the middle east! We are in the country of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We are in its capital city of Abu Dhabi visiting my friend Sophie and her husband Scott. The UAE is a very new country...it was just formed in 1971. It was created by Sheikh Zayed who is loved and revered by everyone who lives there. Since he is no longer living, his sons have take over the responsibility of being Crown Prince and President of the UAE. Before Sheikh Zayed, the Emirates were 7 different tribes existing on their own in poverty. Sheikh Zayed was able to unite the tribes and distribute all of the oil wealth amongst the people. Now everyone in the UAE has money, a job, and a place to live so they worship Sheikh Zayed. He is buried at the Grand Mosque in a building that is illegal to be photographed and a guy will read from the Koran 24 hours a day 7 days a week stopping only for the prayer that happens 5 times a day. They also worship Allah because the people of the UAE are muslim. That means that muslim women must keep their arms, legs, and head covered at all times. To do this they weaar an abaya (black dresss) and sheila (black head scarf.) The actual city of Abu Dhabi is an island in what I know to be the Persian Gulf. People from the UAE are offended if you call it this. They say that is Iran's waters and their waters are the Gulf of Arabia.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The weirdest thing I have ever done







Yesterday I went to a fish spa. A fish spa is where you stick your feet in a tank of water full of tiny fish. The fish then attach themselves to your feet and legs and eat of dry skin. This is supposed to be good for blood circulation, removing dead skin, and cell regeneration. It is also supposed to make your feet soft. It is the weirdest thing ever. I think that we drew a crowd when the four of us stuck our feet in. We squealed and laughed and made a lot of noise! It feels like a combination of tiny bubbles and little electric shocks. At first I didn't think I would make it through the 15 minutes I signed up for but eventually I got used to it (for the most part). There is also a fish spa where you can put your whole body in the tank....I am pretty certain that I am NOT ready for that!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Silk Factory

videoYesterday we went to a Thai silk factory. It was quite interesting to see how silk is made but I feel so bad for those little silk worms. Enjoy the videos but you won;t see me wearing silk any time soon!
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Elephants!


videoWe got to go to another elephant camp and you will have to see the videos to believe it. It was awesome to watch the elephants bathe, paint, play soccer, build fences, put on hats, and parade around. Shawn even got to play darts against the elephants (and he won!) What amazing creatures they are!
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Tigers.....Grrrrrr







Much to Shawn's dad's dismay, Shawn, Kassie, Crissy, and I got to hold baby tigers. We got to go into the cage with them and pet them and hold them. They were 3 months old! We learned that tigers in the wild sleep about 17 hours a day. Larger tigers sleep more than the babies but they all sleep a lot. It is just like a regular housecat (but with much bigger claws and teeth!) They are also becoming endangered because poachers (people who kill animals illegally) kill them for their fur and other parts that are used for different souvenirs. It is very sad. At the Tiger Kingdom though they are working to make sure this stops happening. Before we left the tiger cage, Shawn, Kassie, and I spelled LSU with our arms for the LSU Tigers! GEAUX TIGERS!

Zip Lining

We got to go zip-lining through the tree tops of Thailand! It was so much fun! We wore harnesses and were then hooked up to a cable that ran from tree to tree...then WHEEEE...we got to sail from one tree platform to the next! Sometimes we got to go 2at a time, sometimes upside down, and one time we got to fly straight into a net and climb up like Spiderman! It was lots of fun. When we were done, we got to hike up to a waterfall. It was an awesome day!
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hill Tribe Trek










videoAfter a week of daily massages and relaxing on the beach, Shawn and I decided that we needed to do a 2 day trek through the hill tribes of Northern Thailand. We were under the impression that we would be hiking through the jubgle for 2 days to arrive at the Long Neck village where women wear gold rings around their necks, adding them until their necks are very long. We packed our backpack to the T. Everything that it said on the checklist, we brought: including the raincoat (even though it is dryer than the Sahara here) and long sleeves and pants (even though the tempatures have exceeded 100 degrees all month.) The first thing our guide told us was that we were going to stop at the market to get some candy in case our blood sugar dropped on the hike. This is when I learned that Thai candy comes in the form of seaweed or fish. I was glad that I had some peanut butter and apples already packed away. Next, she asked us how much water we had. "None", we replied, "the brochure said it was provided." She proceeded to give us 5 water bottles to lug up the mountain that were about the temperature of hot tea. As we walked uphill in 113 degree weather she told us that just last month a 29 year old had died from heat stroke on this hike. I responded to this by drinking half of a hot bottle of water. You can never be too careful. To compound the heat, they were doing some controlled burnings to prevent forest fires since it was so dry. The smoke and ashes made it even hotter. 1 hour into our trek we ran into a couple of women who were cutting down bamboo to build their house. The cut us each a stick and sanded it with leaves and told us they were to hit away the snakes. Super! 3 hours into our trek, we got to jump into a waterfall and swim which was quite refreshing. As we were leaving though to head to the village where we would be sleeping, our guide asked us if we had a flashlight. "No", we said, "we were told one would be provided." "Hmmm..." she says, "I wonder how you will go to the bathroom at night?" (I'll tell you how...but turning on our camera to view a picture then somehow managing to make it to the outhouse, squat, hold my pants, toilet paper, and camera all at the same time.) When we get to the village I get bold and try to practice my Thai. "Sawasdee-ka," I smile and say to passing villagers (a Thai greeting). Laughter broke out. When I asked our guide if I had said it right, she said, "Yes, but these people are from Mongolia, not Thailand. They don't speak Thai." Who knew? We were also a bit discouraged that these Mongolian villages in Thailand had roads leading up to them and many of the villagers had cars or motorbikes. I am happy for them for that. It was not as fun knowing that just anyone could drive up there. Also, these was not the long neck village. This was a village of Mongolian refugees. That night, we were served dinner by candlelight since there was no power. Once the sun went down, there was no light. Shawn and I tried to play a card game but couldn't remember any so we played Go Fish. We were in bed (a mat on a wooden floor and a blanket to cover up with- so not needed- and a blanket as a pillow) by 8:30. The next day we awoke with the roosters and began our desent. Down was much better than up. After about 3 hours of trekking and a quick lunch, we arrived at a river where we were to get on a bamboo raft. "Put your camera in a plastic bag," our guide told us, "because Thai people like to splash." What she didn't tell us was that the bamboo raft sits under the water and we would sit directly on it. We were soaked! But it was fun to paddle down the rivers of Thailand looking at the sites as we relaxed (as opposed to hiking!) After the raft we got in a van- soaking wet- and drove home. Shawn and I both agree that it was a fun experience and we are glad we did it, but next time it will not be in the middle of their hot season. We are now so glad to be home (back in Chiang Mai with Shawn's family!)