Monday, June 10, 2013

Elephants: Round Two

       I’m one of the luckiest girls in the world. I never dreamed that within a year, I would be reunited with Boonme. Not only were we reunited, but I was able to introduce her to my family. I’m not so sure she really cares, being an elephant and all, but she played her part nicely.
       Once again, I was able to shimmy up her side and lazily meander through the jungle. I could take part in the ant-avoidance dance, and I could practice my Thai. The difference was that this time, I could call out to my parents and my sister, relaxing just yards away on their own elephants. Not to put words in their mouths, but if I could put words in their mouths for a second, I'd say they were, “Wow… This is…”
       In addition to riding elephants, we had the opportunity to experience a national holiday that puts other national holidays to shame. The Thai New Year is a chance for people to make a fresh start, but what it really consists of is the entire country shutting down and throwing water at each other. It took us a couple of hours to travel a distance that normally would have taken twenty minutes, because traffic was crawling. The backs of pickup trucks were packed with barrels of water and people holding super soakers aimed at other vehicles. People sometimes even abandoned the cars and ran down the middle of the street in order to hit their target. My main thought throughout this experience was, “How can I start this in the United States without being arrested for disturbing the peace?” Also, I occasionally thought, “This would be a terrible time for your windshield wipers to stop working.”
       Bangkok seemed tame after these experiences, and I am sure “tame” is a word rarely used with this city. While I would love to post pictures of my favorite part, helping my sister pick out her wedding dress, I am aware that this would mean immediate dismissal from her bridal party. And from the family in general. But let me just say, her dress is beautiful. And that’s my cue to stop.

Pure chaos, but really fun chaos

Our emotional reunion. Okay, honestly, she just kind of stood there.

Anna: The photographer becomes the subject

Expert mahout right here

Too unbelievably cute

My pictures from last summer hanging on their wall!

Back in the confusing maze that is the Chatuchak market

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Kyoto: Hurry up or you'll miss all the peaceful spots.

       Kyoto has an absurd number of beautiful sights to see. Really, it's not fair to other cities. Also, I believe I saw all of these beautiful sights when I was there. Such was the scope of our sightseeing, that I'm fairly certain I've seen temples that have not even been built yet. I started referring to them by identifying a unique characteristic that would set them apart from the rest. For example, "No, the fourth temple was the one with the deer wandering around outside, and the fifth one was the one with the squeaky floors."
       The simplicity of the architecture and beauty of the Japanese gardens remind you to walk a little more slowly. The artifacts remind you that you are standing among national treasures, treasures that symbolize generations of Japanese culture and revered heritage. And the noisy school groups remind you to be thankful that you aren't thirteen anymore.

Not quite as peaceful as was intended


This is one of the most famous temples. Of course, that means that it was under scaffolding, but luckily, this coin showed us what we should have been looking at. 

Japanese garden


Beautiful stereotype