Friday, January 28, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I COSed on August 13. 2 days later, Amy V. (RPCV from Mali that also transferred to China) and I took a 44 train ride to Lhasa. If you look at a map, you might wonder, why didn't you go straight from Chengdu to Lhasa? And the answer is "because there isn't a direct train". We had to go up to Lanzhou and then down and over to Lhasa ("capital" of Tibet). Amy and I were in separate compartments (6 beds to 1 compartment. Thank God we had beds and didn't sit for 44 hours! Some people couldn't afford a bed or perhaps just wanted to sit. I'm glad we didn't.), but we were able to hang out all day before retiring to our separate areas.
We spent 8 glorious days going around Tibet. The highlight for me was seeing Mt. Everest. It was such a clear day. Our tour guide told us how lucky we were. Some people stay at base camp for days, hoping for a clear day.
Driving around Tibet
Potala Palace (Lhasa)
I went back via train (trying to save money where I can). Amy V. flew back. I befriended a lady and her granddaughter from Nepal. I stayed in Chengdu for a few nights. I went to my favorite restaurant, spent time with friends, and said my goodbyes. For real. From Chengdu, I flew to Manila. I stayed in Manila for a few days (dealing w/my visa). I went up to 100 Islands, hired a private boat, and got sunburned even though it was raining.
My Dad and me
My Mom and me
Pollution in Beijing
At the Great Wall
Mutianyu section of The Great Wall
My dad's house in 1975...by far the oldest building still standing in his town
Woman prepping cabbage to make kimchi
My dad's town
Parents at new health facility where my dad once volunteered
RPCVs from S. Korea in the 70s
Shoes off before entering the restaurant
Glorious Korean food
From Seoul, I continued on to Japan while my parents flew back to S. Carolina (They were SO CLOSE to missing their plane! I was sweating it for them, but they made it!)
No cell phones on the bus or subway in Japan...America could learn a thing or two...
Recycling bins everywhere!! Oh Japan, I LOVE you!
Deer Crossing (In Nara, there are deer EVERYWHERE!)
Nara Hiroshima is by far one of the saddest places I have ever been. The tears kept on flowing.
Spartanburg is now marked in a little restaurant near the Mazda plant in Hiroshima.
Floating Torii Gate
Restaurant (we actually didn't end up eating there, but what a cool building!)
Amy and me before a show
After my 2 weeks in Okinawa, I flew into Tokyo for 3 intense siteseeing days. I now can understand why people go to Tokyo for weeks. Tokyo was SO MUCH FUN! Tokyo is by far the cleanest city I have EVER been to. Clean, polite people, delicious food, easy transportation...what's not to love?
No smoking while walking
Park in Tokyo
Street in Tokyo
If I'm remembering correctly, this is at the end of the zoo in Tokyo
Hachiko Square in Shibuya, Tokyo
over 1 million people cross this square EVERY DAY!
Statute of Liberty replica in Odaiba
Dog in basket...YESSS!
Just another beautiful day in Tokyo
I accidently stumbled upon a funeral...I thought it was a wedding until all the mourners left and I realized it was definitely NOT a wedding. I wish I would have know b/c I kept on smiling...
I also managed to greet a Prince with a bunch of kids.
Famous Prince (I forgot his name)
Fabulous crepe! Everybody knows about Japanese sushi, but I am here to tell you that Japanese crepes are INCREDIBLE!
I remained confused...as did alot of other foreigners...Left or Right? I thank Japan for helping me out
View from Tokyo Tower
Yay! Van Gough exhibition!
My final sunset in Tokyo
During my COS trip, I was able to travel with a friend, travel solo, with family, and visit a friend. During my month in the Philippines, I had not a plan. Before landing in the Philippines, I had trouble sleeping. I (like most people) enjoy schedules and knowing my destinations. What was I getting myself into? By throwing my itenitary out the window, I met so many wonderful people, went to the baptism of 100 babies and joined a family at their home for the celebration dinner, ate dinner with a nice Flippina, went scuba diving with people from ALL OVER (Brazil, Israel, Spain, France, Philippines, Japan, Holland...to name a few), and realized how liberating it is to go where the wind blows. (In Japan I had to make plans for the hostel where I would be staying a day in advance simply because of costs). Am I the same person I was 3 years ago? I don't think so. I hope the biggest lesson I take from being abroad is simply how the generosity of strangers and their random acts of kindness can change a life. It changed mine.
Thank you for reading and allowing me to share a part of my life.