After a long drive and a late night arrival at Sapana Lodge in the Chitwan National Park, we woke up to the sound of stomping elephant feet. When I looked out the window through the mist I saw a huge elephant and her mahout (the driver and keeper of the elephant). Later that morning my mom and I got to get in the river with our elephant and bathe her. The best part was when she splashed us with her trunk and got us all wet.
To top off the outstanding day, I got to make treats for the elephant and then feed them to her. Her treats were made with dried rice and rice stalk.
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Namaste is the traditional Nepali greeting where they bow and put their hands together and to show respect. It always makes me smile. Our first stop in this beautiful country is Bhaktapur, an old village close to Kathmandu with amazing architectural buildings and stone streets. Our hotel here is great and the staff was beyond nice, especially Martin. Our first morning we drove up to the village of Nagorkot and saw the tip of Mt. Everest and other Himalayan mountains. It was amazing, the mountains were stunning!
We arrived in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, after the camel fair. Jaipur is a Pink City, but it is a bit grimy. We rested here for a couple of days and caught up on school. When we arrived the first day we went for a little tour of the city in a tuk tuk. We had a great meal at a restaurant called Little Italy that was recommended in our guide book. The pizza and bruschetta tasted so good after one month of Indian food.
The next day was a bit lazy, but we did go to the observatory. It was really cool. The former king was very interested in astronomy so there were several inventions for us to look at. Hundreds of years ago they could figure things out like what time it was with only the shadow of the sun and a piece of marble.
After learning a lot at the outstanding Observatory we had a ice cream that was really yummy. I picked a vanilla almond drumstick.
When we woke up the next day we went on a hunt for a white outfit. My mom had this crazy idea to do a photo shoot with all the family in white outfits. While we were shopping we found a mall that had a little pool with big inflatable balls that you could climb in and play.
Everest and I both went in it at the same time and it was awesome!
Can you imagine 50,000 camels coming together in one field at one time? This happens every year in Pushkar, India, and I was able to experience this insane festival. Picture the craziest thing you know then multiply it by ten and what you will get is the Pushkar Camel Fair.
Everywhere I looked I saw camels. There were camels with hairdos, camels with funny noses, and camels with jewelry. Have you ever seen a camel chew? When they chew it looks like they are chewing bubble gum.
Chandelao Garh, a beautifully restored 300 year old fort, is now an awesome hotel located in a small village in Rajasthan. My mom loves great architecture. I was fortunate enough to have stayed in The Carriage Room where they stored the horses and the carriages years ago.
Next door is a center called Sunder Rang, an arts program that gives the ladies in the village a place to gather and make all sorts of beautiful crafts. Everest and I spent some time there. We made colorful and creative anklets and button necklaces.
We did so many amazing things while we were in Chandelao. We went on a trip to a nearby village where they do the block printing on fabric.
While we were looking for the block printing factory a group of kids started following us. At one point we stopped to look at an adorable baby goat and I saw that about 30 or more children were behind us.
For my 11th birthday we stayed in Udaipur. My parents surprised me with five nights at an old palace. When we went into our room there was another surprise… delicious cookies and a pretty view of the lake. That evening we had a fun family celebration and I got a couple of very nice gifts. I got a wooden camel from Everest and a soft blue scarf and a necklace from my mom and dad. After our little party we went and had a big Indian dinner. Later when we went back to our room there was yet another surprise… a birthday cake on my bedside table. It was a great birthday!
Do you know how many tigers there are in India? Take a guess… Ok this is the answer… there are about 1,000 in India and about 3,000 in the world. A century ago there were 40,000 tigers just in India and about 80,500 tigers in the world! It is really sad, the numbers have declined because people have been hunting them. Many animal protection groups throughout the world are trying to put an end to this.
I was really lucky, out of the 1,000 that remain in India I got to see one 15 year old mama tiger in Ranthambhor National Park. She was only a few feet away from us. We were some of the only visitors that got to see a tiger this time of the year.
We arrived in Agra after the long train ride from Varanasi. The hotel we stayed was awesome there were surreys and a huge swimming pool, an air hockey table, billiards, and lots of children’s books. I read 2 Nancy Drew books. One was called Into Thin Air and the other was A Dressing for Disaster. I would highly recommend both for people who like mysteries.
We went sightseeing at the baby Taj and the Agra Fort. The Agra Fort was where the builder of the Taj Mahal was imprisoned by his son who wanted to rule so bad that he killed his three brothers and imprisoned his dad just to rule a small part of India. Then we for a midnight swim and a game of air hockey.
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Varanasi is considered one of the holiest and most overwhelming cities in India. When we arrived at the Varanasi train station I had to agree. There were people everywhere trying to sell us things, pushing, beeping, spitting and heckling to be our taxi driver. We finally choose Vinod and he took us to our hotel. We liked him so much that we planned a little tour for later that afternoon.
We arrived in crazy Delhi, India after beautiful, quiet and lush Bhutan. When we landed at the airport we hired a pre paid taxi who said he knew where he was going, but actually he had no clue where to go. We drove around in circle for an hour. When we finally got to the hotel it was time for dinner and bed.
The next day I woke up to a bad case of “Delhi belly” so I did some school and chilled. Once I felt a little better we went to the city center for a tour and to have dinner. We had Mexican food because we hadn’t had any since Bangkok. Living in California we ate Mexican food about 5 days a week and we were all missing it.
The next day we went to the toilet museum where we learned everything you needed to know about toilets and sanitation. My favorite toilet was one that looks like a chair but really is a toilet in disguise.
On our last day in Bhutan we hiked to Tiger’s Nest, which is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan and is perched on the top of a cliff. The view was breathtaking. It took us about 3 hours to get to the top and about one ½ hours to get down.
The food in Bhutan is really good, but we were very excited to have pizza one more time when we got back to town. After lunch we played at the playground in town.
While we were in Punaka, the home to one of the most beautiful and important Dzongs (spectacular forts or monasteries), we got to see two elephants that were brought from the south of Bhutan for the royal wedding. Everyone was crazy about the elephants because they don’t have elephants in Punaka, so these were the first elephants most of the people had ever seen. People were giving the elephants bananas and some were even giving them money. What made the experience even cooler was that we got to pet the elephants. Their trunks were really hairy.
When we arrived in Bhutan, Chhimi, our guide and Kinley, our driver were waiting for us. We got to see an archery match on the way to our hotel. Archery is the national sport of Bhutan.
There was a lot of preparation going on because the royal wedding was only a few weeks away. The king is going to marry a commoner which is a big deal. Everyone loves the king and his soon to be bride and is very excited about the wedding. After a nice first night in Paro it was on to the Haa Valley.
During or time in Haa the king was also spending some time there because a couple weeks ago an earthquake struck Bhutan and did some damage. While we were in Haa we went on some great hikes. One of my favorites was to a monastery on the top of a mountain. When we reached the top we shared lunch with some friendly dogs.
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Today we arrived in Bangkok, which is the capitol of Thailand. It was a big contrast, because it is a cosmopolitan modern city compared to Myanmar which is a third world country. I was so happy to swim in our pool because it was extremely hot. The first day there we did school in the really nice business center, listened to Beatles music in the lounge and ate some delicious Thai food!
We left from the mountain village of Kalaw and began a 3 day trek to Inle Lake. Our guide Doh was really fun, our cook Ynoe made great food and our porter San was terrific. He carried my bag and helped Everest through the really muddy parts. Our first day we had lunch at a village home. They were wonderful even though we speak different languages.
Today we took a 15 hour ride on a local boat down the Ayeyarwady River. The sun rise was exquisite as we left Mandalay. We had two plastic chairs and a little floor space but we settled in.
After we left Singapore we went to Myanmar which is untouched by the western world. It is so foreign that I will bet that 3/4 of the people reading this don’t even know that it is in Asia.
In Myanmar everything that the typical American kid thinks is a necessity is really something very rare. We take for granted things like clean water. Most people in Myanmar drink rain water that is not filtered which means there are lots of tiny bacteria that would make Americans sick but it doesn’t seem to affect the Burmese people.
We have been planning for our trip around the world for several months and now I am super excited it is finally happening. The first stop was Singapore where we visited my friend from Santa Barbara, Sophia, who just moved there with her family.
Sophia goes to Singapore American School, and lives in a high-rise resort with a swimming pool, a gym and lots of other kids. Singapore is a big city that feels like America but it is a steamy and tropical place at the end of the Malaysian Peninsula in the South China Sea.
We went to an awesome water park and a place called Sentosa where we went zip lining and on a luge.
They were all extraordinarily fun. While we were at Sentosa, we went to Candy World, with a huge candy tree outside the store. It was overwhelming there was so much candy. Yum!
One night Sophia’s mom took us to a fish spa where there were little fish that ate the dead skin off our feet and made them nice and soft. We also went to a great Indian restaurant where we got to make Naan bread with the chef. It was delicious!
SINGAPORE IS AWESOME!