Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Troubled Ear

So yes--
My body is really good with humid climates I have found- and I now realize that I have an ear infection-- one quick doctors visit and 160 Australian dollars later. It was probably prompted by my little scuba dive adventure- but never fear - I have more antibiotics and I should be good to go in a few days. I even shoudl still be able to go on the little dive that is scheduled on my next adventure- a liveaboard overnight reef/ snorkel trip from Cairns tomorrow.

I am now in Port Douglas and it is pretty nice, and very upscale and touristy- so rather expensive. I actually was social las night and went out for drinks with a few people who I met in my hostel room- and a few people they had met on the tour they went on earlier that day. It was fun despite the incredibly poor vocalist we were forced to listen to at the bar- however I left early because my ear was throbbing. Whether it was my infection or the vocalist, I'll never know :)

Anyways- just finished off some paperwork crap with my travel insurance, which is why I popped into the internet cafe- however, I am about to go out and try to enjoy the sun without contracting skin cancer rather than write more for now :)

Talk to you all soon!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Daintree Days Are Coming to an End

So recently I have realized that I have been having a (more or less) recurring dream. I remembered the dream for the first tim the other day and I realized that I think that I have had the dream more than once this trip. I always hate when people recount their dreams to me- and I read once that "dreams" were the #1 most boring conversation topic ( thank you yahoo! news)- so I will try keep it to a sentence or two.

Basically, in my dream I am back in high school ( a senior) and I have been missing a lot of school, as I did after my dad passed, but suddenly I realize that I have sort have miscalculated or something and I have missed almost all my math classes for the whole term- and I may have even missed a test or two---and ofcourse I think that the next class has a test but I have no idea what it is on- and I am afraid I am going to fail my class.

I also have other dreams, where I have forgotten and I have an essay due tomorrow which I haven't started or something.

Its so funny- because I think that a portion of me is very confused as to why I have not been in school for so long- something that has basically never happened since the age of 4. I don't know if this is specifically american or just western, but it is almost like my brain doesn't know how to shut off the almost constant stress of school deadlines and grades. i guess certain professions only continue this pattern as well. It is interesting that this is a part of life that is so integral to our existance- although I always did find high school more stressful than college, with higher standards, so it makes sense that my dreams take me back there. I sort of wake up and have to remind myself, that the feeling of guilt that is starting so flow over me is entirely unnecessary- something that is just so relieving.

Similarly, I am still experiencing "traveller's stress" to some extent. Not quite in the same way as before- like I ma not doing enough of something, but I worry that I picked the right tour to most enjoy myself, or worry that I have been stupid to leave myself such little time here- although obviously that is not something that could have helped. As I look ahead to Bolivia though, Bolivia looks so amazing, and part of me is like " is it even worth goign for so short a time when there is so much I wont be able to see?" More and more, I am convinced that travel is 100 times better if you have atleast a month at each stop- and I am increasingly sure that that is the way in which I will try to travel from now on. It is the difference between sightseeing and experiencing.

Anyways. I am leaving the bathouse. research center today. I am sad in some ways but excited for the next part of the journey. I am actually going back out on the reef again on an overnight trip, which should be cool, and I am going to make an overnight stop at Port Douglas. Being here has been one huge dose of environmentalism, as hugh has lots of opninions, and has done lots of study. It is interesting to hear what motivates him to keep working for the environment, as I personally find the whole environmental situation so depressing that I am close to giving up and losing hope. Its been good.

And yesterday I went for a last walk on the beach. I did not see any crocs- which I am actually sad that I will be leaving here without seeing one- but I am also glad that I have not been eaten by one. And also I have not seen a cassowary, which is this huge , about 5 foot native bird. But maybe on the ride home. It will also be nice to be in Port Douglas because they have a stinger net in the water, which they don't here ( we haven't been able to swim off the beach because it is the season for deadly jellyfish). Yesterday though, I visited the most beautiful swimming hole, sort of in a forested area, and freshwater and just amazing plant life. I have pictures of that to post.

The wildlife has been great- from butterflies to turkeys. I have gotten much better with the bugs- to a point that I am amazed.

The other night, I had walked out to go get dinner out, and I had to walk back to the center, down the unlit mainroad, and then down the forested private road to the center. It is funny what scares me on this trip. Potentially cancerous foot? I did ok. But give me a walk in the dark--- and I am freaked out. haha. My flashlight was starting to die as well, and so eventually just turned the flashlight off, and walked by moonlight the rest of the way back. Eventually decided that there was no one following trying to kill me and I calmed down and just walked. For some reason this felt like a big deal and I felt " well if I can do this, I can do anything". Not quite the accomplishment I thought it was in the moment, but it was impowering.

Anyway- I have a bus in two hours, so I have to go pack up my stuff.

More to come very soon,


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Its hot

Hey Guys!

So the last two days I have just been working in the bat house here- and educating the p8ublic about fruitbats haha.

Here are a few things I know-

These fruit bats are called "Spectacle Flying Foxes" because they have rings around their eyes that look like spectacles

They eat fruit, but the babies only eat milk for the first two minths or so. When they do eat fruit they chew all the fruit up and suck the juice out of them, and then spit out all the fiber onto the ground. Or at you.. Just kidding.

The babies don't fly until around 2 months as well- and would spend most of those two months clinging to mom's back.

These bats are Mega bats, as opposed to microbats like we have at home. So first off they are bigger. They are thought to have evolved seperately from the micro bats, which I think is prety interesting. The mega and micro bats are therfore not closely related, and these fruitbats are most closely related to leemurs. The megabats do not use sonar- they actually have very well developed eyesight. And a well developed sense of smell.

Anyways I said all that info at least 100 times. haha

having a good time. it is hot. trying to sort out my future plans in south america as well.

And-- Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow to everyone! I might be going out to dinner- sort of a celebration?

Monday, November 23, 2009

another quickie!

hey guys- internet time is running low-

but I went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef today! So great!
AND- I went on an into scuba dive- which was way less intimidating than I had assumed- and was pretty cool. It made me want to go get certified and go on more dives in the future.

I saw a sea turtle- came swimming under me and saw him unexpectedly- so cool!

Got a little burned despite my best efforts with copious amounts of sunscreen- oh well. It was worth it. Then went for another little walk down to a nice resort and hopped in their pool.

A good day!

More later!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Another day on Cape Trib

Hey- found a place here that should have been able to post my photos, but sadly it is not seeming to work either!

I have pictures of bats and mangrove trees and stuff.

Didn't do that much today- helped work int he tourist/information center/ bathouse, and then went to go collect mangoes from the forest to feed the bats. Later, walked to the beach to help the french student here with her project on coconuts on the beach. She was opening up different species of coconuts. My job was to take pictures, and ofcourse to sample all the varieties haha. However, I wimped out a little part of the way through because there were green ants crawling all over my feet and I was wearing sandals ( and they sting)- so I let her finish off by herself.

Tomorrow I am going snorkeling on the reef, as it is our day off tomorrow.

pretty exctied!
more later!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cape Tribulation-posted a day later than I wrote it because our power died!

Quick entry- limiting myself to three minutes!

Things are great. Rained a lot today though- of course, I make it to paradise and it rains. My assignment for the morning was to walk around ( in the rain) to the beach and stuff and see the area and some of the rainforest- which was pretty amazing still.

Someone brought in another hurt baby bat, so I walked around with it clipped into a towel to my shirt- to sort of act as "mommy" for part of the day. Pretty cool.

To tell you the truth though- I am a little out of my element. I can deal with a lot.. but outhouses do sort of push my buttons- and there was a spider in my room last night bigger than my hand- and beatles everywhere the size of my thumb. I removed the spider all on my own though- even though I have to admit I was sort of scared to death. I am not in Kansas anymore.

Anyways- three minutes goes fast- so I am going to head back to my cabin- and dream of animals creeping into my room haha ( just watched "grissly man"- too, so that will aid my imagination- except i'll have to replace grisslies with killer kangaroos or something).

Friday, November 20, 2009

A computer shines it light into the Rainforest

Hello again, 
 So it seems that there is a computer for me to use here- however the internet service is somewhat tempermental- and energy is better saved than used here- so entries will have to be quick, but hopefully more frequent than I thought. 

 I am here- though we had an adventure getting here.  I was picked up by Hugh- the man who sort of runs this joint, and one other volunteer Sarah who leaves tomorrow, and Nina- and intern here from the states/ costa rica.  ( This is the place I am staying by the way if you are interested ) They pick me up and stuff  all my crap into the back, and we are off to my first nature adventure here in Queensland ( to help nurse some baby bats at another wildlife center)-- or so we thought.

A few hills later our car , which we had turned off in traffic refuses to start- and eventually we realize that there is smoke coming out from under the hood, and eventually determine that some sort of hose has ruptured in the engine causing the radiator to overheat ( I don't know cars sorry!)-- so long story short- we spent pretty much the rest of the day being towed, waiting, andwaiting some more-- and never made it to go see the baby bats. 

During this process however-- a major coincident occured. Nina and I stared talking about Costa Rica, since I am headed there, and I told her I was meeting Mom at a resort there over New Years. 
"Which one?" she asks  "Oh no some are bad"
"Flamingo Beach Resort"  I said hopefully.
" No way--- my family OWNS that resort--- and I'll be there over New Years"

 Ummmm.... crazy. So that is pretty cool and we were pretty excited. I'm sure there will be more news to come on that front. 

 Anyways, Hugh eventually fixed the car, and we went back to the research center, without going to see the baby bats.  

 However, sure enough, when we had arrived here, we found that someone had dropped off a baby bat today to be nursed back to health and released into the wild at THIS center. So our dreams were fufilled and it is actually sitting next to me in the lab right now.  Just me and the bat.  In a lab.  In a rainforest

Yeah- things are pretty cool here- but also pretty creepy crawly- I have had more than a few things crawl onto my head already- good thing I have already experienced africa! Although- to be honest- this place is alive with nature in a way that where I  was staying in Ghana just doesn't compare.  And there are outhouses here.  My favorite. 

 No but it is all good.  And I am excited for tomorrow, though I have no idea what it has in store.  I tried to ask Hugh what was up- but he seemed to have no clue- so... I guess this is just one more lesson on going with the flow.  I am sure it will be great though. 

Anyways... soon we are going to celebrate/mourn Sarah(the other volunteer)'s departure at a local bar- so I will have to write more later!

 More to come!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Few From Australia

Hey I am having trouble loading the rest on to here right now for some reason.
I can try again tomorrow. Here are a few from the Melbourne Area. There are more on the facebook link but I want to put them on here too so I can write blurbs with them!

I have arrived in Cairns- beautiful and hot! Went for my first swim since Africa-- which means- the foot is finally healed enough that that is not a stupid idea! Yay!

Sort of lally gagged around here doing pretty much what you are supposed to in a beachtown.

Heading up to Cape Tribulation tomorrow to the research center- where there is apparently no phone service and limited computer access- so the writings might be sparse for the next 10 days or so- and certainly the photos. I'll try to load on the rest tomorrow to the blog though before I ma picked up!

Still having a great time. I am amazed at how much I still enjoy being alone- and still feel the need to get away from people sometimes even though I can sometimes go a whole day on this trip speaking less than five sentences aloud if I want to. I do miss you all- but I am also content at the moment to just be.
Sad thing is though, that I have started to think in "blog" and I rehearse passages that I am going to write in my head during the day sometimes, or I take pictures for the sake of the blog. Sort of weird. But I guess I'll be glad that I have documented as much as I have when I am 95 and looking back . haha

ok thats all for now!

At the botanical gardens in Melbourne

Hong Kong Photos!

Hey-- here are some photos from Hong Kong!
If you want even more glimpses into my secret life.... click here for more!

Jet lagged and right off the plane- eating a chicken finger!
Im in Hong Kong!... with a boba tea ofcourse

eating our hot-pot soup meal

Bonnie- of of Mo's fellow troupe members doing a street performance outside their store

In Mo's store!

Palm reader alley!

Outdoor eating!

Mo in her other studio that she painted

Hong Kong!

Me, Mo, Mo's other self from her one woman show- and mo on my shirt from her one woman show!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Aussieland Files

Hey hey!
Autralia is great!
It is so wonderful to be in Melbourne. I can totally say that it is somewhere I could live for a while-it really is a fantastic city.

My chosen experiences here have been sort of random because I have done sort of a mix of the touristy and the memorable. The first day I was here I walked down the street out of my hostel and over to a park- and I realized that it was a very familiar park! I knew that I was staying near by to my old neighborhood, but I had no idea that I was staying next to the park that my old primary school was 0n. So- I walked though the park, found a few old trees that I remembered ( but had forgotten) that I played by, walked over the spot that I broke my ankle for the first time, and snapped a few pictures of the school children who were still wearing the same blue uniforms and goofy hats- before I realized that I probably looked like some sort of child molester --so I put the camera down and scuttled away.

It is so funny how they still let the kids run free in the public park for recess. I peered into the gated area of the school- and remembered singing weird stuff like the ( revised version) of the Australian anthem and stuff. I walked around the school and thought it would be fun to see if I could make my way back to our old apartment without looking at the map- and sure enough I did! The walk was actually about five minutes long- though in my memory it took like half an hour, and then I sort of walked around our old neighborhood.

I knew South Yarra was nice, but I don't know if I was just clueless as a kid, or if things have reallt changed, because now it is sort of the so-ho- meets-berkeley district of town. It is really nice. And expensive! The pharmacy charged me $2.80 for a can of coke- and the Australian dollar is pretty close to the American right now. Seriously- Australia is almost as expensive as London right now- it is sort of blowing my mind.

Then I went to the huge mall sort of thing in the middle of Melbourne, where Mom had rememebered her favorite Thaifood and there is a huge clock that sings "Waltzing Matilda" every hour- and people crowd around to see. However the Thaifood place was gone- and the whole place was much more like a Mall in america than I had ever imagined.

I went aroundthe city after that on the free tram that goes around Melbourne. The whole city is connected by these cable car things- and unlike San Francisco- it is actually still the main public transport. Some of them still have their turn of the century charm and they are the trams that I rememeber, all painted green and yellow- but many of those have changed too- and look like these sort of furtuistic metal bullets. Sort of sad.

As I travel- I am increasingly glad I am am traveling now- and all I can say is that I continue to travel in the near future- because things really do change fast- and things build up fast- and Australia really seems to be much more connected to the rest of the world now than it was 10 years ago. Which makes sense- but as things become more globalized- it makes for less interesting travel--- I mean I can go to Tiffanies at home, you know? But there it is in Melbourne as well.

Yesterday I did something pretty cool that I remember doing with my parents when I was younger. I signed up for a small bus tour ( I made sure it was small after my oh too large american filled bus tour-- although there are very few americans here- so I guess I don't have to worry about that)- and did the obligatory koala, kangaroo, and emu viewing- which haven't lost their charm despite the fact that I have seen them quite a few times. Also saw some sheep shearing. Don't worry-- I have pictures to post-- I figured that ( all ten of) my readers would be disapointed without a few pictures of a kangaroo! :) We did see wallabies everywhere from the bus as well. pretty cool.

every continent seems to have their own little strange animal that is everywhere. We have squirrels. Ghana has the mini goats. Morrocco and Israel have cats. London.... has rats haha. And there there are wallabys everywhere.

But later- the reason I went on the trip- we went to this beach on Phillip Island to watch the penguins come in at dusk. Every night they come in from the water by the thousands and make their way up the beach- and probably half a mile up a little hill- to come find their babies. It is so so cool. And you can see them all the way back to the parking lot- they all have their own little home to return to. There are even signs saying to check for them under your car. It is so cool to see them all waddling-- picture me crying over the movie march of the penguins- except add real life to that. Haha- actually I was not crying-- although it sure as hell looked like I was because I am crazy allergic to something here and I forgot my allergy medicine- so my eyes were swelled up and watery all day. I made a lot of friends on that bus ride. hah

Anyways today I mostly just went to the Botanical gardens here in Melbourne- which are something of a treasure. They are huge- not many people in them like central park- and it is kind oflike going into this tropical greenspot in teh middle of the city. There are tongs of colorful tropical flowers. And there are TONS of cool birds. I swear I saw some sort of peloquin, and there werethese black swans with red beaks. And this is all right next to Melbourne. I realized that the Melbourne botanical gardens were perhaps the place I first went to the botanical gardens- which started a long history of loving them- I remember dragging my dad to them all over Europe- it would always be the place I picked to go. Also-- it just might be the place I fell in love with having tea- because you can get Scones and cream ands jam in the park-- which ofcourse I did do today. So lovely. It was a great place for solitude as well. I mean it would also be a great place to share. But I was so relaxed- I had a great time.

The only thing that sort of spoiled the gardens was the humidity- which I shouldn't even talk about because I go up to Cairns tomorrow and I am sort of terrified of the tropical heat- and also the flies. Ok--- I know that these flies are nothing compared to most of Australia- but flies of any sort are pretty disgusting. You just can't get away from them-- I remember when we were in the outback when I was little- if you even took off you stupid looking netting hat for three seconds there would be a fly in your ear, in your eye, and probably up your nose too. So it wasn't that bad haha. But they are gross.

Other thing that I have made sure to do- which I feel I shoudl fill you in on is eat a few meatpies. If there is one generalization that I can feel confident making- it is that Australians love their meatpies- and they are in every little store or 7/11 (which they also love) with lots of weirdly shaped squeeze packs of sweet tomato sauce for sale next to them. I probably ate 8000 of them the year Iwas here. So have had a few now as well- and though I don't get quite the same thrill that my eight year old self did- I did quite enjoy them once I stopped thinking about what was in that ground beef. haha.

Ok well I have to go to bed- I am off to Cairns at 4:30 AM tomorrow! so excited! I am going up the day after tomorrow to join a research center in the Daintree Rainforest on Cape Tribulation- which should be wild!

More to come!!

But-- the thing I went on the trip for

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leapin' 'cross cont'nents

Helllllooooooo from down unda!

Finally I am on the other side of the world-where toilets flush the other way and people ride kangaroos to work.

All very excting stuff-- but first there is more to tell about my Hong Kong Adventure, because I had such a wonderful time!

First off, though I am thrilled to be reunited with the Canon G10 super camera- the downside is that it is much more complicated to upload photos with this camera than the crap one-- so it will take me a little longer to post them. I got some great photos though.

In the mean time- here are two photos that are not my own:

In case you didn't get to check out Mo's website- this is one of the posters for M0's upcoming show-- and that it Mo. Believe it or not- red is not her natural hair color though.

And this is Mo and I from "The Peak" which is this really touristy, but wonderful little viewing platform that you can view all of Hong Kong from- and you get there via a very steep tram ride. Sadly I don't look so great here- but I thought I'd include it since I don't have my photos to post yet. Also- the T-shirt that I am wearing here is from Mo's one woman show- and that is actually a cartoon of her on the front. I bought it at the Troupe's T- Shirt Shop!
Anyways-- where did I leave off?
Well I woke up around 2:00 pm because I am doing a crappy job of coping with Jetlag, and I braved the Hong Kong streets and Train by myself to go meet Mo. Actually the public transportation is amazingly efficient and incredbly clear- however the sheer amounts of people that go through are ridiculous. I said that you could confuse Hongkong with parts of China town in NYC- which is sort of true, but let me add this- many parts of HongKong are more like a mix of Times Square and Chinatown- it is so bright that it is like daytime all night, and there are people EVERYWHERE. Definitely the highest density of people I have seen in one place consistently.
Anyways- also on the train I met someone from Ghana who was playing on the soccer team for Hong Kong. I swear since I left Ghana I have some sort of magnet for meeting people from Ghana- many people have randomly started talking to me-- one woman I met in London even invited me to her home for dinner, but I never got to go. Anyways, so the magnet is equally strong, even in China.
After that, Mo and I went to a Cantonese Opera that her friend Bonnie had reccomended ( her friend is studying Chinese Opera)- which was pretty cool- though obviously I didn't understand a lot of it. However there was a sort of martial arts element to it, which could translate for any viewer, and the whole experience was pretty cool. Mo and I talked about how Brecht modeled his theater after Chinese Opera in a lot of ways and it was interesting to observe such a presentational artform. Way better than watching clips of Chinese opera in Into to Theater Studies my freshman year.
The next day, work up similarly late- but it was fine because Mo and her company either seem to not sleep at all, or only sleep during the day ( The morning I left the group had an all night meeting- and the day I got there, Mo had literally not slept for two days-- i don't know how they do it)- so my hours were actually fine.

Mo and I went to her other personal studio space- where she edits documentaries and stuff ( she has done one about homelessness and one about prostitution)-- something I had no idea that she did. She had painted the walls herself and the space was so interesting. Mo is truly an artist- let me tell you- and I was so inspired by her all over again. She seems to do exactly what I always say I'd like to do, but haven't really done yet, which is use many mediums to convey an idea- and to really create a space in which to showcase her ideas. I respect her so much.
Anyways, we then went up to that peak, and then bargained for some jade in the local markets- and then went out to dinner with her troupe. That is the other thing- Mo and Banky and the rest of the troupe are just the kindest most generous and welcoming people. They all bent over backwards making plans for me to enjoy the city, and thinking of the best restaurants to take me to. In addition to housing me and acting as the best tour guides ever, they also tried over and over again to pay for my meals-- I had a really hard time giving them anything in return.
It really is wonderful to have someone to show you around though- it makes such a difference. I felt like I really tasted Hong Kong ( figuratively and literally) because I was able to go where local people go. It is definitely the best way to see a place- because you not only get to see your friend, but get to see a place through their eyes.
Anyways, I left the next morning after trying to sleep for a few hours ( to no avail). The trip to the airport was smooth sailing- pretty amazing actually. There are three train stations to the airport in the city, and you can actually check your luggage and yourself in there- and they will take your luggage to the airport, and you don't have to see it again until you get off the plane. Brilliant. Also, the airport is huge in Hong Kong, and expertly designed. Mo said she thinks that it is the biggest in the world- and I totally believe it. I stood looking around at one point, and I actually could not see the edge of the building no matter which direction I looked. So different from the last Hong Kong airport, which I still remember flying into over ten years ago-- it was in the middle of the city, and the city had grown up around it so you had to fly between skyscrapers to get there - I remember looking out the window at people in their apartments- and then there was a sudden right angle and you landed. Crazy crazy.
Anyways, I am only going to write a little bit about Australia now because I am running low on computer credit, and I need to save some so I can get up again at 4:45am my time to register for classes next semester---- yay...not..
But anyways- I spent today mostly walking around. It feels incredible to be in Melbourne again. I am staying in South Yarra which is the area that we lived in 12 years ago or whatever. I was writing an email to someone today about how strange it feels to be here again. The passage of time freaks me out in general sometimes, but it is so weird to be in a place with certain memeories attached to it. The first time I landed here- it was before many of the things that had shaped my life occured- first off it was before I lived here- before I had traveled at all. It was before my parents divorced. That is another. It was before my mother had another spouse who is a woman-- another pivitol experience of mine. And ofcourse, most crucially, it was before my Dad passed, and actually before his illness affected my life in a huge way- he was still pretty physically able and healthy then. I guess it is part of being an adult, to be alive long enough that you can remember a moment in your life when you were completley different- when almost nothing about you resembles the person you are now. It was before I gave a crap about theater. Before I sang. Before I even needed glasses or got braces. Haha. And it really hit me in a strange way- it was an experience that I had never had before- to be in a place where memories are so strong and you are so different.
And it is crazy the memories you do remember!
Anyways-- I am going to stop there for now, but there is much more to come you can be sure!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hong Kong

 Hi all. 

 So I have spent one day in Hong Kong- one long day since I got in at about 6:30 in the morning here, which felt like 11:30 pm London time, and then I did not get to bed until about 3 am Hong Kong time ( I did take a little nap though). 

Mo met me at the  airport, which was wonderful. We went into the city straight away and went to her place- which is also the studio/blackbox space in which  her theater troupe rehearses. It is a pretty cool space- sort of  in a factory district- and it is made up of three large rooms and an office. It is sort of like a very organized version of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, where people lived, socialized, and worked all in the same space as well.   I really love it. 

We went out for Dim Sum straight away with Banky (another troupe member and Mo's boyfriend), where I had a challenge trying to use my chopsticks, and Mo continued my chopstick private lessons she had started in San Francisco two years ago.  It was pretty hilarious, but I did not give up and use silverware- so that was a success.  Also, I had my first experience sampling local cuisine, which included stomache ( which apparently the whole world except for america loves) and chicken fingers ( and I don't mean battered chicken).  I did my best- and Mo knew that certain dishes were... a challenge for me. And we all had a good laugh. 

Mo is also doing her best to fill me in on  certain customs here- a sort of crash course in Chinese culture. One example- when someone pours you tea, you are supposed to tap the table with two fingers to say thank you. 

Took a little nap while Mo's troupe performed at a school, and then walked to the shopping district with Mo to her store. Yes- Mo's troupe is not only a troupe, it is a troupe with a store- right in the heart of one of Hong Kong's shopping districts. They sell mostly T- shirts with some sort of message on them- often that has something to do with one of the shows they are doing.  And everyday outside the store, one of the troupe members does a little solo- performance on the street.  Very cool. 

 If you want to check out her troupe's website, her group is called FM Theater Power at
Mo is the one in the red

 Anyways- Mo  had an interview with a magazine ( I am blown away by how successful it seems their troupe is)- so I walked around  the district for a bit.  Hong Kong- to the observer who cannot precieve the difference between Cantonese and Mandarin-  could be confused with New York's China town.  Except it is huge. And very very humid (scarily so since this is supposed to be nothing in comparison to where I am going in Australia).

Everyone I asked about things to do in HongKong all responded the same : shopping. It is true- Hong Kong has great deals- and though none of the stuff seems particularly chinese except for the jade and some teasets, the prices are ridiculously god much of the time. So again I struggled to remember my back before buying anything, and ended up only buying a few studs for my ears. Bought some milk tea- and a sort of bubble wrap- looking waffle which is apparently a specialty here. Also I went for a 2o minute massage, because there are millions of little parlors here- mostly advertising foot massage, but  went for the back and neck. For an incredible $10 USD or so, I got the most intense, but also probably the best massage I have ever had.  This woman was basically putting her whole body weight into me, and I swear at one point she was diggind into my back with some sort of wooden spoon or something.  The whole thing was sort of wonderfully painful since I do think that she got through to some muscles that have never  been discovered before.  For ten dollars,  I might go again before I leave. 

 Anways, after that Mo and I went on the public ferry to see stunning views of the city lights before having a very very ate dinner with her and her theater troupe.  Dinner was  basically a sort of make your own soup kind of thing- where there is one shared pot and lots of raw ingredients, and you all sit around this pot boiling on the table and dump in ingredients at various moments throughout the night, and pull out what you want to eat as it cooks. Really cool- though again challenging with the chopsticks. 

Anyways.. I am going to go and stop wasting away my day infront of the computer.  More to come!!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Trip begins tomorrow

My trip begins tomorrow.
Sort of.

Obviously I have had an amazing time so far, but tomorrow- I FINALLY leave London- and I cannot come back on my round the world ticket--and for all intents and purposes, after tomorrow I must complete the circle I have started around the world before I can come home again. Unless something else goes drastically wrong.

But it won't.

Will it?

I am actually a little nervous for some reason. I guess the safety net of London and my people here has become pretty comfortable. Also, I know that once I leave here, the rest of the trip is going to be so jam packed that it will just fly by. As of yesterday, I will be home in 2 months, and I have been away for just over three. 60% done- and only 14 flights to go ( plus one or two off the ticket-- yikeso!)

I leave tomorrow at 11:30 am - will travel for 11:30 hours in the plane- and will arrive in Hong Kong at 7:30 in the morning. So I am expecting some pretty great jet lag. But- visiting Mo is going to be wonderful and I am sure that will more than keep me energized. Mo is picking me up at the airport thank goodness- which means that I do not have to get lost in Hong Kong first thing when I arrive, which is great.

I finally gave up--- my beautiful new camera that broke in Ghana still was not fixed as of today, and I decided to just buy another, and pay the hundred or so dollars difference between getting it fixed and buying a new one. So I can finally take photos again that are not crap.

Took my iphone ( which also broke-- of course) to the store today. They would have given me a new phone, except they only had British phones- so I have to get a replacement in Australia.

And I went back to the clinic for tropical disease today- my favorite place in London- and they took a few tests to make sure my bout of sickness in Israel was not parasite related- and I will get those results in a few days.

Pretty fun day all around.

I am sure that I will have more to say when I reach Hong Kong! I will have a guide there ( Mo!)- but I am open to sightseeing suggestions, as I have not had a real chance to do my fair share of research on Hong Kong.

And lastly... a picture of myself to serve my vanity. I felt it incapsulated my very last few days here in london... sort of haphazard in my impulse bought glittery tights and hiking shoes-- on a late night run for some food because kyle and I got to the supermarket to late to make our own food ( supermarkets in London close at like 6:00 on Sunday--- what is WITH that?)

Anyways.... so long!

Monday, November 9, 2009


New Plan ( which I think actually might happen!):

-Leave London for HONGKONG Wednesday Morning- arrive there Thursday Morning their time

( no India :( )

-Spend three days in Hong Kong- leave the 15th to Melbourne

-Spend 4 days in Melbourne, and then continue on to Queensland

-continue on as planned to South America

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More Photos

Hey all,

So.. kyle came back last night, and I moved right back in. :)
We decided to save some money and stay in for some food, but go out for a drink- on the search for a good dirty martini- which I have just not been able to find anywhere- most people here don't even know what that means. So sad. Sure enough we found a place online called "Dirty Martini"- and put on our best and went out. We were so inspired by our one (expensive) martini each, and the loud music- that we decided to make a night of it and go out dancing. We ended up going to a salsa club with a live band and a dj later- and we danced the night away. So much fun- and exactly what I needed. Neither of us can salsa- but we decided that my somewhat hispanic roots gave us carte blanche to do anything we wanted on the dance floor.

Today I am splurging and taking Kyle and I to high afternoon tea, which is something I love love love to do in general, and would love to do again in the ultimate tea city (well I guess the ultimate western tea city).

Otherwise, I have a few more pictures that I uploaded from my phone:

from the roof of my hostel in Jerusalem:

The Flying Jew! - some guy trying to hop over the river of rain water flowing through the city
Ancient cemetary in Tzfat

Me waiting in the rain for the bus from Tzfat to Tel Aviv
One of the open flea market shops in Jaffa-- so cool!

A blurry picture of Kyle and I at the Salsa club last night

Saturday, November 7, 2009

other things.

I have not done much today or yesterday in London, though I am thinking of going to Kew Gardens to catch the end of some fall foliage and stuff. And Kyle is coming back from his extravaganza in Italy today so I will be able to bother him some more in a mere couple of hours.

Hostel last night was fine. Realized after I bought a small carton ( haha) of cheap wine that the hostel had a bar in it- so you were not supposed to bring your own in- but I poured some in a mug and had it with the tortellini I made for dinner last night anyways. Very classy.

In process of re-arranging my tickets in a way that is both ecconomical and worth my time. Will keep you updated.

Thought I would write a bit about Israel airport security in the meantime to sort of add some detail to the last entry of my sick journey back to home base.

For some reason I don't remember this about last time- maybe it was because I was on birthright- but Israel airport security is really really intense.

I did not get the memo that you are supposed to get there three hours ahead in Israel instead of two- and apparently the 2 1/2 hours I got there ahead did not cut it.

I waited in line forever, until they realized what flight I was on and "rushed" me ahead. After examining ym passport, they asked me repeatedly why I had visited the primarily Muslim country of Morrocco- and then proceeded to lead me over to another station where they dumped out my entire purse, and opened up all of my bags and un packed most of them, as well as scanned my phone. They also took me into another room and had me go through a separate human scanner thing. The whole thing was pretty intense, especially when you feel like you are going to fall over from fever and fatigue. Good thing they were not on swine flu watch as well. because they probably would have detained me thinking that I had it.

In places like Morrocco and Libya they do take your temperature often- sometimes with a little laser gun thing that they shoot at your forehead, or with like an x-ray heat machine. I would have been screwed.

Anyways-- that is my story for now- for lack of nothing else to update you on. :)

More to come!


Friday, November 6, 2009

where am I going?

So I looked today and I have made about $3.o3 from this blog and have had about 1550 visits onto this page- which is ok- however I had about 1200 in the first month and a half- so I guess I have gotten deciedely less interesting in the last month and a half. It could have something to do with the fact that that is around the time that I started whining about my foot-- but I doubt it. I mean who doesn't like reading about mystery diseases?

That said- you all should keep clicking- as this is my main source of income at the moment. I know eventually I'll be able to pay for the cost of the trip from this blog. I mean that is the main reason why I am keeping it in the first place. And after finally seeing Julie & Julia on the plane- I know it can happen. haha. My friend Rachel is aspiring to the same height ( a famous blog, book and movie) by modeling her blog after Julie's- her blog being called "Rachel and Raquel". You should check it out ( You're welcome for the shout out Rachel- you can return the favor and we will both be famous).

I actually do enjoy seeing what is advertised on the side as I write. Like there were some ads in Hebrew recently and some in spanish when I was in in Granada and stuff like that. Those webcrawlers are good.

ANYWAYS. I am back in London .... who is surprised?

I had a great time in Israel, however I got pretty sick for the last few days- which sort of ruined my moment in Old Jaffa and Tel Aviv, and well as my perspective on the world for a few days. (Jaffa is both my heaven and hell. Everyday the whole town turns into this flea market with all sorts of new and old treasures-- enough to make any pack rat ( ie me) drool, however it was my hell because even I have to admit that if I stuff any more into my bag my shoulders will probably collapse into themselves- and I am getting pretty sick of paying a small fortune to send things home). However I had a fever of about 101 and all sorts of other problems which I wont go into and I started to worry that maybe it was true what all the worrywarts have been saying- and that my foot is making me tired and sick over and over again. Even though the foot looks way better- I have been pretty exhausted with my immune system on high- and we still don't really know what it is ( though they have now ruled out melanoma thank god- which they briefly entertained).

So I decided to just try to make it back to London to go see the doctor because I was leaving anyway. However, what I have learned is that when I am sick I am not only a) the bitch of the world, but b) emotionally fragile and finally c) sort of existentially embittered about the world (a hard task for a privileged world traveler, but I managed).

So yeah- my meltdown sort of started on the plane (crying to myself over my microwaved meal over this and that, or my father, or pretty much anything I could feel sad about- and yes I was being a baby, but keep in mind that I felt like crap :) ) I finally make it back to London- and too lazy and bitchy to make it into the city, so I pay for an incredibly overpriced airport hotel, and start looking up flights home. I was so close to booking it- and coming home for a bit, then meeting up with my trip in South America -which is only about 3 weeks away anyways ( though now three countries are squeezed into that time). I just really am tired of getting sick and feeling a little permanently tired from this foot thing, and still not really knowing what it is- that going to India, China and Australia in three weeks- sounds overwhelming, especially since I have not slept in one bed more than five nights in a row since I left Africa.

Anyways- so I am literally at the airport again about to do it and having a pretty public meltdown with my Mother on the phone.. who spoke some words of wisdom and told me to see the doctor here and think about it for a day or two. And maybe just choose one country to go to for the next three weeks, rather than go to all three- which I thought was a pretty good idea.

So I think that is what I am going to do. Call it stubbornness, call it follow-through, or call it stupidity, but I am still going to try to salvage the original plan to some extent. I am going to try to go to the doctor today, and maybe go to Australia for three weeks and really see it- and hopefully go to India and China someday when I have regrown my foot.

And now I am feeling better and I am actually feeling really really positive. I watched BBC's show about animals and nature last night- and I am reinspired to go do some forest and barrier reef work in Australia (sort of a repeat experience to my teary experience watching March of the Penguins-- so amazing.... [ and by the way I was recently told by a woman who was writing a travel book from her cat's perspective that I was weird for crying over nature shows--- which made me feel..... exceptionally weird]).

Anways... and now for the reward at the end of the blog for actually making it through all my ramblings----some pictures! and me shutting up ;)

So Long!

The wall in the rain

East Jerusalem out towards the Dead Sea
Mt Olive Cemetary
Jerusalem Sunset


Tel Aviv post rain from Jaffa

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Religion in the Hills- edited

Hi Guys. So I have now left "Acsent"- the center for Kaballah in Tzfat that I ended up at the other night at 2 am in the morning. I ended up staying there another night- for the sake of finance and convienence- but I am glad that I did- it was pretty interesting.

So after I last wrote I basically just walked around town looking at galleries and winding streets- Tzfat is a pretty beautiful place. It is also known for it's art scene- or atleast once was- and art is definitely still present- though a lot of it is now focused on religion. I also walked around the ancient cemetary- a lot of which was just in ruins- crumbly little stones scattered around. However the really important people- like influencial hassidic rebbe's and such had blue painted stones.

Tzfat is also interesting because it has completley sort of switched hands to being a completley jewish town. Prior to the war of Independance, there were both Muslims and Jews here living reletively peacefully- but during the way there became strict divides in the town- the best example is a huge staircase built straight down the middle of the town dividing the two sides. However, Jews eventually "won" the territory- and now the Arab section is the artists colony- and one of the mosques is used as a gallery.

Went back to Ascent- and took a little nap- and then went to a class that they had at 8:30- the subject matter was to be a surpise because no one could seem to tell me what it would focus on. However- story of my life- I was the only one who showed up for the class- I always seem to get private lessons- so it ended up being me and this old Hassidic rabbi chatting for 2 hours ( an hour more than the class was supposed to be). I really enjoyed it actually. It was interesting to hear about the roots of Kabbalah from his perspective, as well as his perspective on the reform and conservative movements of judaism- which he basically did not consider to be judaism at all. He sort of assumed that I knew nothing about Judaism because I consider myself reform and was not wearing a skirt and stuff- which was sort of weird because I have done some studying- but certainly not as much as him- so I guess it was fine that he reviewed a lot of basics.

I went to another class before I left yesterday- with one other person attending- and looked over the torah portion for the week- and then headed off to enjoy Israel's public bus system once again. The trip was fine other than the fact that it has been literally pouring all weekend. I thought I saw some intense rain in Jerusalem- but this was way more intense. The whole time at Ascent it sounded like there was an ocean beating up against the side of the building- and I think that if I held a measuring cup out the window it would have been full in about 7 seconds. Tzfat is the most elevated town in Israel and the hills made for rivers flowing through the town. No wonder people are religious here. However I guess it is not normal because someone said to me "We have been praying for this kind of rain for years"

So anyways, I was soaking wet and freezing and carrying too many things for the whole adventure getting back to Tel Aviv- and I had to switch busses twice outdoors. So I was pretty glad to get to my hostel last night- and I splurged on a cab from the bus station because I was feeling sort of crappy from being damp and cold all day long.

I am actually staying in this sort of suburb (borough) called Jaffa- which has some cool stuf to explore and has a little bit more of a beach town feel apparently. The hostel is cool- you could sleep on the roof here too- and the kitchen is also on the roof under a little awning. You can see the (turbulent) sea from the roof- as well as a lot of Tel Aviv- so it is a pretty cool location. My guidebook also said that this hostel was named to be #16 in the world by some magazine in the UK recently--- so.... cool. I have been to better I think, but it is still pretty nice-- the roof makes it great.

Its been really great on this trip to see Israel on my own terms. My first trip here was great, but it really was sort of zionist- and there is so much more to the history of this place than one perspective can afford you. I don't know if I wrote about this before- but I was talking about Israel with some of the people I went on that roadtrip in Spain with ( who are all from the UK) and they all sounded to be very pro- palestine- which was interesting. I talked to them about that and they were like " yeah- basically the whole world is pro- palestine except for America". I didn't think that all the things they were saying were wrong ( though some things I did)- I don't necessarily like to identify as pro- israel or not, but it is sad to me how much of the world sees in black and white on this issue.

Israel is such a strange place. In so many ways it is so western. American music plays- there are skyscrapers and boutiques in Tel Aviv, people here are multiracial and diverse-- on the outside sometime it looks like america. But then you see the soilders on the street, or filling the bus, all with guns the size of your arm, or old bullet holes in the walls of Jersusalem, or in the walls of the school in Tzfat- and you remember that things here are really different. And as much as I really do feel safe- my imagination is ready to take me away to the worst in an instant. Like when I saw two armed soilders running down the street yesterday, or when one of the public busses stopped unexpectedly on the side of the road, or even if I hear a loud commotion on the street.
These things have thrown me off less than the first time I was here, which is perhaps why I haven't written about them so much-but I want to be clear that Israel isn't all beauty and mysticism :).

Haha- I remember last time I was here- it was right after the ceasefire had ended on the Gaza strip ( in January), so things were tense-- and the day we were re routed ( for safety reasons) from Tzfat, we went to Tiberias. Anways.. we were all sitting and chatting, when a plane flew overhead and there was a loud boom. I remember I literally ducked- and so did many other people- I might have even yelled or something. Turns out-- it was simply the plane breaking the sound barrier- and nothing to worry about-- but I always think that is a good example of how it can feel to be here. Totally safe until there is reason to think otherwise- and then things can feel very serious very fast.

Anyways...... Update on the foot: Looking better. I think the biospy is helping it heal- so I am feeling hopeful. The doctors are still being slowpokes on the results of the biopsy- but I am going to call them today to see what the deal is.

Anyways- I have a lot of pictures to post, but I don't have the means to do it right now. Will do it soon! More to come!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

israeli adventures

Hello all!

Adventures to share!

I have left Jerusaslem now and I am in the town of Tzfat- a place that I didn't make it to on my birthright trip earlier this year because there had been some reports of rockets coming over the Jordinian border. not so this time. The town is actually not on the map here, but it is about 16km away from Tiberias on the map.
I had a bit of an adventure coming here. I planned on taking the public bus from Jerusalem, and since they only start running on saturdays after Shabbat is over, I was going to take the first one at 8:18 pm. I got to the bus station with about an hour to spare to find the place. however the bus stop was outside the station, and no matter how hard I tried, no matter how many times I walked up and down the street, and no matter how many people I asked who responded to me in broken english- I could not find the place. I missed the bus obviously... and I sat down for a kosher mcdonalds to think about my circumstances- haha. ( ps it is cool though because mcdonalds here has a seperate little shop next store for it's icecream and stuff- so that the milk and meat are in seperate kitchens). It does not help that all the signs are in hebrew. Thank god I atleast know the hebrew alphabet so I can recognize names and stuff.
Finally after my mcdonalds I found the stop- which was there all along- however the sign at the stop only listed that particular bus on one side of ther sign- which I did not look at. So I proceeded to wait ther 2 hours in the surprising cold till the next bus. ofcourse, by the time I got the bus-the guestouse I had called ahead to hyad shut off their phone. I was a little worried but I figured some hotel would be open when I got there. but as we pull up I realize that literally everything is closed.
So thankfully the two orthodox guys I had befriended on the bus took pity on me and walked me to this study center that takes guests- knocked on the door at two am- and was begrudingly let in. Otherwise I probably would have been on the street.
So this place I am staying is center for the study of Kaballah (madonna anyone?-- haha not really though.... it is the study of jewish mysticism). This town is kind of the center of that study. anyways... they have classes and stuff-- and for every class you take they will give you ten shekels off your stay. I might go tonight just to see what is up.. They are pretty welcoming though- and there are a lot of other women there who are wearing pants--- haha- so clearly I am not the only one there who is not super observant.

Anyways- yesterday in Jerusalem was pretty cool too. I took a free tour in the morning- which was good because I saw some christian sites too... like the walk that christ walked to the crucifix- and the place where chirst's empty tomb is ( according to everyone but the protestants). Later I took the public arab bus up to the mount of olives. That was sort of n experience tooo- and I might have been overwhelmed if I hadn't experienced the tro tro in ghana. I mean- I have qualms with how people value personal space all over europe as well- people literally knock into you all over london- and spaniards will not move out of your way, no matter how clear it is that they right in the middle of a path-- however people were pushing to get on this bus like I had never seen.

Anyways. got on the bus. met this other traveler and this old arab man who ended up living right next to the bus stop and brought us out tea when we arrived and told us about his amazing life ( he is like this leader of a small group here- and has traveled literally all over the world and has met with leaders all over the world to give peace talks and stuff- and had the newspaper articles and pictures to prove it-- his name is Ibrahim Ahmad Abu El- Hawa-- i have to look him up more). He apparently puts up travelers in this guesthouse he has and told we should come back and stay with him for free anytime- and he gave us his card. wild wild wild.

Anways- we went to the cemetaries on Mt. of Olives- which are signifigant because jews believe that when the messiah comes- the first people to rise from the dead will be on this mountain- so they all clamor to be buried there.

otherwise-- it has continued to rain. I was caught in a downpour climbing back up into the old city of jerusalem- and I was soaking because there were literally rivers flowing down the old roads. However, I was near the western wall- and already wet- and I was curious to feel what it was like there in the rain- so I went and got some pretty cool pictures. I have been to the wall 4 times on this trip haha.

Ok- well time to stop typing forever and go explore more.

More to come!