Monday, June 16, 2014

Things in churches
Here is a picture of Mary or some other person.  People have left her flowers, and the writing on the walls are prayers.

Here's Jesus.  He has his hands bound and he's chained to some kind of  a concrete block so he can't get away.  My guess is that this is a depiction of when he was whipped and beaten before crucifixion.

Here is me and the girls in front of...I guess, Mary?? 

Here's Mary close up.  

This is an image of Jesus that...well...I think it looks a bit odd.  I want to write something about zombies and vampires, but I won't.

Well today is our second full day in Ecuador.  First I have to tell about our first full day here, though.  Our flights here were fairly unremarkable.  We did have to wake at 2:00 in the morning to be ready for our shuttle at 3:30.  Our flight to Miami left at 7:00 and then we had a 2 hour layover there, and then off to Quito.  From the airport in Quito, our taxi ride was a good 45 minutes to our hostel, we had to ring the bell because we didn't get to the hostel until about 11:00 at night.  Our room is a big and could sleep up to 7 people and it has its own sink, toilet and shower.  There is a bunk bed and a loft that sleeps 3 and a large bed that sleeps 2.  Jorg and I are on the bed, Laina on the bunk, and Min in the loft-her choice!

In the morning, Gerd, our host, a German man who is 84 years old and runs the hostel, made us breakfast-toast, coffee, bread with meat and cheese, yogurt, granola and eggs.  After breakfast, about 11 o'clock, we set out to walk around the city.  The very first thing that happened was that Jorg forgot his camera in the hostel, and when he went back to get it, the girls and I walked along the road, in exactly the wrong direction, so that Jorg couldn't find us.  I realized something was wrong, returned to the hostel, Jorg was not there, so we started walking in the right direction, but down a different road than Jorg took.  So when Jorg returned to the hostel to look for us, he didn't find us.  I finally got a phone call, with a very exasperated and angry Jorg, telling us to stay put and not move.  The girls and I were standing in a plaza which was surrounded by restaurants and bars with everyone watching the world cup-Ecuador vs. Switzerland game.  Jorg found us and we watched the people for a bit and then walked on to the main park of the city.  The girls played for a time in the playground and we watched the last 10 minutes of the Ecuador game.  Ecuador lost in the last few seconds.  The city was a bit sad after that.

After the playground, we walked to the language school we will attend.  We did find it after going to their old address and having to look up the new address.  Then we had some lunch, looked in some churches and walked around old town.  We took the trollebus home, had pizza for dinner and then went to bed.

I have pictures, but I'm in my warm bed and my camera is way over there...tomorrow...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Off to another place!

OK, we're off to Ecuador in less than a day!  I'll be blogging here.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Changsha to Sanya

This all happened on Tuesday, July 3, and I'm writing it on Saturday July 7.  We woke early, at 5:00 AM because we wanted to try and catch the first bus to the airport.  The hotel we were staying at, The Changsha Aviation Hotel, was chosen because it was right by the shuttle bus station that would take you to the airport, and the first bus leaves at 5:50 in the morning.  Our plane was leaving at 8:20, and we wanted to make sure we got to the airport in time, and that's why we wanted to first bus there.  We woke, dressed, drank some coffee, ate a couple of breakfast cookies, zipped up our suitcases and went down to the bus.  We got the tickets, and made it on the first bus, but just barely!!  There were only 3 seats left and they were scattered around the bus.  Jorg sat in front, I sat in the middle and Min had to sit on the back bench.  Laina sat on my lap.  Min was not happy at all that she had to sit by herself.  Oh well, she lived.

We got to the airport in plenty of time, we checked in, cleared security and went to our gate.  There was time for the kids to run around, eat some more breakfast cookies, go to the toilet and get bored.  Then, finally, it was time to board the plane.  The flight was 2 hours long and it seemed to pass quickly.  We got a little breakfast snack that the girls thought was very strange for breakfast (cake, spicy turnip pickles, a sweet bean bun, and a small package of spicy duck meat).  I ate all the duck packages!

When we landed, we collected our luggage and went to find a taxi.  The taxi stand was easy enough to find, and the taxi driver used his meter and didn't try to negotiate a price and he was good and honest.  This was nice, because there have been many reports on the internet about the taxi drivers and how they are swindlers and cheaters.

When we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted with a necklace made of coconut shells, a cool washcloth, a glass of juice and warm welcomes from all of the staff.  We went up to find our room, a nice comfortable room on the 6th floor.  After getting situated, we went out for a walk around the grounds and then after that a swim.  The pools here are all surrounded by meticulously manicured gardens and the water is fairly shallow, only about 3 feet deep, so it's easy for the girls to "swim" without worrying too much if they will let a lungful of water.  There is a kiddie pool that is only a foot and a half deep and there is also a small water slide that they can play on.  After playing in the pool for a couple of hours, we went upstairs and watched some TV.  About 6 or so, we decided to take a cab into the city to buy some snacks and have dinner.  The taxi driver was again, fair and honest.  No problems.

The city is interesting.  For some reason or another, Sanya is a favorite with Russian tourists.  When you see a non-Asian-European type person (AKA "White") chances are they are Russian.  The signs in the town were written in Chinese and Russian with very little English.  It was very strange to be addressed first in Russian.  We found a grocery store to buy some snacks, some quick noodles (like Top Ramen) and then, most importantly, some laundry soap, and then we went out to find a restaurant.  We learned that things here are expensive.  VERY expensive.  We found a restaurant, a Singapore/Chinese place that had good dishes for not SO much money, and ended up having a good meal.  Jorg started to wonder if we were going to need more money than we had to make it through the rest of the holiday!!  Well, the girls were wiped out, they had a big day and we were all tired, so back to the hotel (again, a very nice taxi driver) and to bed.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dehang to Changsha (on Monday)

On Monday morning it was time for us to leave Dehang. We woke about 7:00 and had some coffee and then a small "things from packages" breakfast. We had a very slow morning, but finally about 9:00 decided to get packed up and moved out. We took our suitcases down the small staircase, Jorg paid the bill and we made our way out to the bus area. We were lucky and found that the bus was nearly full and we left within about 5 minutes of loading in. The ride back to Jishou took about 45 minutes and went without a hitch. The bus dropped us off at the train station, where the girls went to the toilet and we had to figure out where to go to catch the bus to Changsha. After asking at an office, we learned that the bus station with buses leaving to Changsha was only about 500 meters away down the same street we were on, so off we went, and soon found ourselves at the bus station. Jorg bought us our tickets and 25 minutes after getting off the bus from Dehang, we were on our way to Changsha. The bus route took us on a new expressway, which cut the bus ride down to a 5 hour ride, from what used to be a 6-8 hour ride depending on the traffic and specific road conditions. After about 2 ½ hours into the trip, we stopped for a potty break and continued on the way.

At 4:30 we got to Changsha and Jorg was REALLY hungry. Right near the bus station was a KFC, and so we went there, knowing that there was OK food for an OK price. 3 chicken sandwiches, fries, and sodas later, everyone was feeling happy and ready for our next adventure, getting to hotel. (I only wanted fries, so I just mooched off others fries and then ate the last 1/4th of Laina's sandwich that she didn't want).

First, we tried to flag down a taxi, with no luck. Either the taxi's were full, or refused to stop. So we walked to a different side of the street and tried to wave down a taxi there, again with no luck. There was a man who was working with parking regulation and Jorg asked him why we were so unlucky with flagging a taxi, were we doing something wrong? The man asked where we were going and he said, "Oh, that hotel is just a 10 minute walk away!". When Jorg was trying to get specific directions, a man passed by and offered to escort us there. Jorg said the man said, "Don't worry, I'm not going to cheat you, I am only going to show you the way". We got our little duck line going, and the man showed us how to go, and sure enough, after 10 minutes of walking, we arrived at our hotel. I love when we get a travel angel. All those who have traveled know about these travel angels, and I can remember each one that has crossed my path and has helped out in a pinch, sometimes in a big way, sometimes in a small way, but always memorable, always special and it always makes me want to be a better person, and to be a travel angel myself.

After we settled in the hotel, we went out on the street to look for dinner. We found a little restaurant and had a small simple meal of meat with green peppers, green beans, rice and tofu. Then, a little walk around the block, and back to the hotel for bed. I don't think we took any pictures today, so that is why I'm not posting any!! x

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dahang Pt. 4 To the waterfall

1.  General Scenery
2.  The woman in the short dress is the mom from the family we hiked with.  Hiking in a short dress and high heels is how they go around here.
3.  The waterfall.
4.  Our family
5.  Me and the woman and the girls watching the world go by.
6.  The pathway
7.  Back in Dahang, the women on the bridge selling things to bus tourists.
8.  The girls decide to go native while playing in the river.

Dahang pictures Pt. 3

1.  The kitchen in our little hotel.
2.  Another view of the kitchen. 
3.  A view of morning life in the village.
4.  A look from the bridge onto the veranda of the hotel.
5.  can you see us eating around the table?  It's our family and the Chinese family we hiked to the second waterfall with.
6.  The girls playing with stones along the river.  (No, we will not buy you a Wii system, you go out and play with stones...)
7.  One of the matriarchs washing her long hair in the morning.

Dahang Pictures Pt. 2

1.  A picture of the trash that was stuck in the reeds and bushes along the pathway as a result of flooding.  I was really fascinated to see the kinds of things that were caught-shoes, eyeglasses, a pullover, glove, flip-flop, general plastic trash, raincoat...I could have taken loads of trash pictures, but limited myself to 2 or 3.

2.  Jorg and the girls by the waterfall.

3.  Jorg being victorious after reaching the fall.

4.  Min.

5.  General scenery walking back from the waterfall.  We were talking about how we could have skipped the 2 days in  Zhangjiajie and spent more time in Dahang.  The scenery isn't quite as spectacular, but it is still beautiful and the atmosphere in the town is so pleasant.

Dahang pictures

Dahang (which I have misspelled "Dehang") was a fantastic place for pictures, and I may have taken more here than in any other place so far.  Since I can only post about 6 pictures at once, I may have to make two or three posts about Dahang.

1.  Our hotel.  Our rooms were on the top floor.
2.  A view from the hotel balcony.
3.  Another view from the hotel balcony.
4.  One of the rooms (the one Min and I slept in).
5.  The girls heading into the fields towards the first waterfall.
6.  I like this picture of Laina.  It seems to capture her attitude, the way she walks with he shoulder blades pinched back, with a sassy attitude...and her purse.  A lady never leaves home without a purse.
7.  Me in the fields on the way to the waterfall.