Thursday, May 17, 2007
-visiting old apartment, places i used to go to (for example, Orchard Road - known as a major shopping st.), my first job at 14 years old at mcdonalds, etc.
old apartment building
old job at mcdonalds in Tanglin Mall
new tourism building built next to tanglin mall, "uniquely singapore" is the tourism motto.
-hostel was in Little India. used to go to Little India with my family all the time. ate at the restaurant Komala Vilas about 6 times. it looks the exact same from when i would eat there with my family. their dosa is amazing.
me in the kitchen in the hostel (below 3 photos taken by Andy)
the Komala Vilas Indian restaurant
dosa (click here to read what dosa is)
-visited Arab St. area. saw and entered a nice mosque. had amazing tea. this area is also known for many fabric and carpet stores (Andy bought a nice carpet here our last day).
-went to the more upper scale Clarke Quay and Raffles Place area. passed by the Cricket Club. saw the Merlion Statue (statue with head of a lion and body of a fish - forget the guy's name, but back in the day he thought he had seen something that looked like this, but was clearly wrong b/c there were no lions on the island, but i think there were tigers, hence the delicious Tiger Beer). ate at a hawker stand (food court).
-took a 5-6 hour bus ride to kuala lumpur, malaysia (malay). malay is connected to spore by a bridge. had to remember not to drink the water and be careful of food again - spore is the only country in southeast asia where the tap water is ok to drink. when i used to live in spore i went to malay quite a few times, but had never been to kuala lumpur. overall i didn't particularly care for the city, it was just ok to me. actually quite hard to get around at first until you figure your way around.
-highlight was canopy walk in the rain forest (taken by Andy)
-5-6 hour bus ride back to spore.
-next day visited my old school, Singapore American School (click here to visit the school's website). ok so i didn't get to see the campus i actually went to because they built a new school and a new campus, but it still had a similar feel and was a great experience. i can't believe i had gone to such a rich, preppy school! but what a nice school! in every aspect. all state of the art stuff. amazing facilities. i was in awe of their dark room and photo lab. better then my university's! it would have been cool to have gone to high school there, i wish we could have stayed longer, but i'm glad we had the opportunity to at least have lived there at all.
-that evening went to chinatown. ate at a nice chinese restaurant (we had been eating at hawker stands and cheap places the whole time we were way under budget so decided to treat ourselves but i ended up getting sick from it. i don't know, i tend to get sick from chinese food easily). we tried to go back to the hostel after dinner, but the MRT (their metro/subway system) was down and we couldn't get a cab, but finally made it back.
at the nice chinese restaurant - my desert - papaya and almond cream inside (photo taken by Andy)
-next day took it easy for our last day. i got mendhi (henna - click the link) done on my hand. and ate more good food.
above: scraping off the henna (i know it looks like i'm cutting myself, but i'm not!)
below: the finished product (photo taken by Andy)
-went to the airport that night. got there around 11:45p.m. repacked my bag. relaxed on andy's carpet. ate. somehow the time passed by quickly. next thing i knew we were boarding our 6am flight back to tokyo.
-i was exhausted. run down. just from everything. still kept getting sick, sensitive stomach and whatever else.
- the heat didn't help. literally 100% humidity. i don't remember it being that hot, but i guess when you live there you get used to it.
-I FELL DOWN THE STAIRS at the hostel in kuala lumpur. that sucked. i've never done that before. it was early in the morning, i was tired, and it just happened. i had a huge bruise. it's slowly going away. and still kind of sore and hurts.
-the people in malaysia and singapore are so nice and friendly. i found them much more nice and friendly compared to thailand, laos, cambodia. its cool to see how the mix of people all get along - chinese, malay, indian, and expats, etc.
-to sum up my visit to singapore, i'll quote what my friend laura said to me about my trip, "I think its so cool that you got to go back and visit your old memories and reflect upon your life so many years ago. It must have felt surreal going back to a place where you and your family built so many happy times."
back in tokyo i met up with my brother for a few days and we went to kyoto.
geisha in the gion district of kyoto
then i flew back to the States and he went to Beijing, China for a week.
my flight was from tokyo to minneapolis and then to philly. well my flight from tokyo to minneapolis had to make a medical emergency landing in anchorage, alaska. a passenger got ill and on the flight they had made an announcement asking if there was a doctor on the flight. and then later on they made another announcement stating we were stopping in anchorage in 20 minutes. i asked a flight attendant later, and she said she didn't see the passenger, but someone towards the front (I was sitting in the back), not sure how old the guy was, but she said he was having a heart problem and was like having a heart attack, so in anchorage paramedics came and got him from the plane. and then we continued the flight to minneapolis. it was cutting it close in order for me to make my connecting flight to philly, but that flight was delayed an hour so i made it. but some other people missed their connecting flights. i have to say i really didn't mind the stop in alaska because the scenery from the plane window was beautiful.
as usual more photos on my flickr site: singapore. and malaysia.
and that's a wrap.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
1. Tuesday 6am bullet train from
11:30am – 11.5 hour flight from
5 hour layover in
4 hour flight from
Arrive in tel aviv 2am Wednesday, meet brian at airport, crash at his place
2. walk around tel aviv, Israeli breakfast. Take bus to
3. head back to tel aviv with cori and her roommate zack and her friend rachel for a concert that ended up being cancelled for "security reasons”, but still went to tel aviv and went out. Fun night.
zack and i in Tel Aviv
4. get back at like 4 in the morning because of daylights savings lose an hour of sleep, wake up early to go on tour of the
below: view from the old city
below: Arab cemetery in the Old City and the Mount of Olives in the background
5. really exhausted but don’t take a nap and that evening go to synagogue with Cori for shabat services and then have shabat dinner back at her place with her roommates and a bunch of other people they invited. Had too much wine or I was just really, really tired. Probably both.
6. Saturday just took it easy, walked around some, everything was closed because of shabat (observed from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) and rested b/c was exhausted and still catching up from the past couple days. And I have to mention this for Yehuda (cori's other roommate): Cori and I were lazing around taking it easy and Yehuda came in and said we looked cute being all depressed and later that night Zack and Cori were looking for flights to
7. Sunday went up north to Tiberias. Didn’t do a whole lot there but it was nice to see the Sea of Galilee and a different area of
8. came back Monday morning and Monday evening went over to cori’s friends for Passover dinner. Wonderful dinner – more on this later.
me at the seder
9. Tuesday went to some other neighborhoods/areas in
below: me in the oldest neighborhood
the really religious area, kids staring at us b/c we look different, and the in the other one there is smoke b/c people are burning bread (no bread during passover)
10. That night went to the city Zfat with Cori and her roommate Yehuda. Interesting city, very artsy, mystic, hippie like – located in the north 3.5 hours drive about. Stayed the night and came back the next day.
from bus ride back:
11. Thursday went to the
12. that night went out in
first photo below: this crazy guy we saw on the bus on our way into downtown Jerusalem to go out that night, and then saw him again at the cafe we were at, photo of him dancing. other photos below at the bar Uganda.
13. last day already – Friday – went to Tel Aviv, had an awesome lunch, walked along the beach, went to a café, saw a drum circle, watched a movie at brian’s place, went back out to this cool bar called rift raft, met some cool germans, and then went to the airport at 3am for my 5:30am flight.
the beach in Tel Aviv
14. 6 hour layover in
15. long flight back from
16. so I left tel aviv at 5:30am Saturday morning and got back to my apartment at 3pm Sunday.
More details aka the good stuff:
WOMEN MILITARY Another thing was that I saw so many women in uniform and carrying their huge guns walking around. Military service is required at age 18 and they *all* join and take pride in it. Really cool. I mean there are many men too, but the women caught my eye b/c in other countries its mostly men that I see in uniform so it was cool to see just as many women too.
AIRPORT SECURITY – on the way from
On the way BACK from tel aviv to
2. TOUR OF THE
Two memorable experiences:
1. The Western Wall – I walked up to this wall that people have come to prayed at for many years and still do today. I can’t describe the feeling very well. It was very moving. I stood there and looked to the left of me and saw 2 women hugging each other and crying. Who knows what they were so emotional about or what their story is, but it made me emotional, to see such strong emotions brought about from being at the Western Wall. It was really too much to handle that I had to walk away before I started crying. Made me realize it’s hard to be selfish and think about your own problems when there are so many greater problems in the world we live in.
western wall - men on the left, women on the right
- the second experience is getting stoned, literally. Coby took us through the Arab quarter which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve been to places that look like this before, but it was different, because of the meaning behind it and that it was in the
. We went to this restaurant and had amazing hummus and falafel. Then we continued walking around that area. The Muslims were coming out from prayer, so there were tons of people walking out and we were heading in the opposite direction. So we stopped on the side to let them pass, and in the mean time Coby told us some more things. Well while I was standing there and listening to him, I felt something hit my my left leg. So I looked down and I saw a stone at the ground and saw a kid a little to the left of me. I ignored it. Then a moment later I felt another stone being thrown at me on my right side, and a kid standing over there. And then a 3rd stone in the other direction. I mean only the first stone slightly hit my leg and the others were just tossed at me in my direction but didn’t touch me. Cori had told me before that she has heard stories of Muslims doing this to Jews. The more shocking and ironic thing is that I’m not even Jewish and I was the one to get stoned in the Arab quarter in the old city in Old City !! The kids were probably like 8 years old. To think that someone is brought up to learn to hate someone with probably not even knowing why and be brainwashed. I probably looked like a Sephardic Jew to them (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sephardic_Jew). I was wearing a skirt over my jeans like I often dress b/c I picked up that fashion in Jerusalem spain, but a lot of jews in dress that way and that style is associated with jews. I realize and understand that Jews will also give looks and stares at Arabs in Jewish areas, so that's two-way, but the act of violence doesn't occur. Israel
above: The Temple Mount, right near where i got stoned
3. PASSOVER dinner – The family that had us over for dinner were extremely nice people, Americans who immigrated many years ago to
Passover is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the Jews being freed of slavery from the Egyptians. A discussion came up of how Jews today can relate to this to their life today. It was a really interesting, moving, and intellectual discussion. I probably enjoyed the discussion even more because it was very thought-provoking and in
this is a good time to also point out that for shabat and passover and holidays in general, there are always people who will welcome you into their homes and to have dinner with them so no one is alone on shabat or a holiday. i found this very thoughtful and really shows the sense of community in israel.
4. ALSO while walking around Cori would point out a café and be like “that was bombed in this year” and the café was running as normal as if nothing happened. People continue to live their lives. It’s what you have to do.
Cori told me this story of her friend. When she was younger, in grade school, she was heading to the bus to meet her friends to go to school when she realized she left her math book at home. So she decided to go get her math book and catch the next bus. It ended up that the bus her friends was on got bombed and her friends died. She thought she was ok because she was studious and so from then she put everything into studying and always put school and studying first. Then in high school she was supposed to go to meet her friends at a pizza place to study, but she thought she always put studying first and this time she was going to go out with her other friends instead of go and study. Well that restaurant was bombed and her friends died. That’s when she realized that you have to live your life and not be afraid.
5. DON’T BE AFRAID TO VISIT
THE PEOPLE – such a nice change from
lastly - i recommend to visit cori's blog. she is much more articulate at getting her thoughts out and describing events and everything, her blog is really interesting and part of what made me have the urge to go visit Israel.
i wouldn't mind visiting Israel again - would be interested in learning more, talk to some Palestinians to hear other perspectives, and talk to more people in general, and maybe live on a kibbutz.
overall the best way to describe this trip was an awakening experience.
israel was never a place i thought i would visit, no particular reason why, it just never occurred to me to visit the country. i never studied or learned or read much about the middle east and the politics and everything you also hear in the media. again no particular reason why. but thanks to my friends i gained an interest and i would like to say i learned so much by visiting the country and just being there, more then any other way i could have, and i think that was the best way.
oh i should add: cori and brian are friends of mine that i met while at university of delaware and they made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) in August/Sept 2006.
i probably didn't cover everything, so if you have any questions at all, PLEASE ASK!!
and as always, rest of my photos are here.