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Hooded Mergansers

Monday, December 29, 2014

South of the Border....

It rained a lot yesterday...  and turned cold.  I think it was 42 degrees most of yesterday morning but it did get up to 50 by late afternoon.  This morning wasn't as cold...  but early morning was so foggy that visibility was practically nil.  It has gotten up to 60 now at 4pm.

I needed to grocery shop so we left early to the H.E.B. up in Pharr.  It's a bigger store than the H.E.B. here in Alamo and does have some things that the closer one doesn't, but I just like shopping at different stores.  We thought that one might have a bulk food section for dry cereals etc,...  it didn't but the cashier told us about Sprouts, a grocery on 10th St in McAllen.  It was a bit of a drive but worth it as Bill found many kinds of cereals and I found a few treasures as well.

It was around 10:00 when we got back home so as soon as we put the groceries away we headed to Mexico.  Sounds like a huge adventure, but it's not quite as exciting as all that.  Especially when my main purpose was to go to the dentist.

As many of you know, it's very easy to make a trip into Nuevo Progresso.  You just drive to a parking lot on the USA side, pay your $2.00 to park all day, head for the sidewalk/bridge that spans the Rio Grande, put your 50c in the turnstile kiosk and just walk across the bridge into the city.

Like I wrote, my main goal was to get my teeth cleaned...
No appointment is needed and even though the waiting room was full, I had to wait only about a half hour to get in.  Since I'd been here a few times in the past, they pulled my file right up on the computer and in no time at all I was in the chair.

The equipment is every bit as modern and up-to-date as you'd find in the States and the dental hygienists wear gloves, masks etc.  A person does not have to worry they are getting a cut-rate service even though the prices are more than reasonable.  I had a thorough cleaning, and the dentist came in and checked out my teeth when the girl was done...  probably took 40 minutes in all...  for $25.00.  The dentist did recommend that I have the fillings removed from 2 of my molars and have crowns put on...  (no root canal needed)...  and this would cost $200 a tooth, or $400.00.  There isn't anything wrong with either tooth, it would be more as a precaution against brittleness...  but since we're here for just a few more weeks I probably won't get that done now.

Another thing I do while across the border is pick up drugs.  Nah... nothing illegal, and my prescription plan is pretty good, but Zyrtex (same as Clariton) is over-the-counter at Walmart, but I can buy 100 tablets for under $20.00.  I bought 2 bottles, 200 days worth, for about $35.00.  

We always go to the same drugstore...  Jessica's....  and while I don't know the name of the pharmacist, I always get a hug and Bill a handshake.  (I know...  so does everyone else)... But he always makes us feel like a friend.  Now..  here's the funny part...  while you're waiting for your prescriptions to be filled, you walk across the hall to the bar and are served a free margarita...
No kidding!  That's a Margarita dispenser in the upper right photo...  in the lower right, the man is dipping the glass rim in salt, then he fills it up with the drink.  Kind of like a fountain coke, huh?  After many years of imbibing, I figured out that I really don't like margaritas...  they just aren't worth the calories they contain.  Besides that, I was driving... (but I doubt these drinks have much alcohol in them anyway).

Bill likes to get his shoes polished....
There are all kinds of shoe-shine stands along the streets and sidewalks.  This guy did a fantastic job on Bill's shoes and only charged a dollar.  Bill tipped him well.

Of course after the dentist and the shoe shine and the drug purchase we had to stop for lunch...
The Red Snapper is our favorite restaurant here...
I skipped my usual Chile Rellenos this time and got fried shrimp.
They were good, but I kind of wished I'd gotten the chiles.  That's a lemonade Bill is drinking...  I got an iced tea.  I think most folks order sweet tea (which tastes like syrup to me) and when I said plain tea, the waiter brought me a little dish of lime slices and several packages of sugar or sugar substitute.  I drank it plain.

There was a big party going on in the back corner of the restaurant... back where the live music was and even some dancing.  It was fun to watch and hear this group having such a good time.

After lunch we headed back to the bridge...  paid our 30c each at the turnstile (interesting that it costs 50c to enter and only 30c to leave)...  got in the line to head through customs (yes, we remembered to take our passports)...  and back to the parking lot and the short drive back to the RV park.

We'll have to go back again so I can order the chile rellenos!

That's All For Today!




Saturday, December 27, 2014

Getting Settled In......

About that little toad (tow car)....  for the first 5 years of our travels we didn't have a tow vehicle...  had our bicycles hanging off the back of our rig and rode them many, many miles.  In 2005 we bought a satellite system...  one of those big dishes and a tripod to set it on.   Guess we needed something to haul the contraption in so we started shopping around.  We had no trouble deciding that the Scion was the car for us.  Standard shift, plenty of room (Bill calls it our Storage Shed), good gas mileage and a price we would pay.  We bought it the day before Thanksgiving, 2005, in Pinellas Park, Florida.  Now our little 2006 Scion has over 100,000 (actual) miles and many more thousands that it's been towed.  It's been to Canada, Mexico and about all of the lower 48 states.  It has a lot of dings; it's missing the lower part of the rear bumper (don't ask); and while we no longer have that satellite dish with the tripod (now you can carry our WiFi system in your shirt pocket), we still use it as a storage shed...  and a wine cellar....  and a spare closet....  and a tool box...  you name it.  Funny thing...  the same day I was asked about the car, the rear wheel bearing started grinding (this was the day after we had a flat tire...  new tires, but nails don't care about that).  So yesterday it went to the shop and was fixed.  It's been a great car...  or storage shed...  or whatever.  We love it.

It's been a bit cool and quite windy down here in the Valley, but today has been nearly 80 degrees.  If the sun were shining it would be hot, but it's overcast as a front is moving in and next week probably won't be so nice.

We took advantage of the nice weather today (and of having transportation) and headed the 7 miles or so south to Santa Ana NWR.  We volunteered for 3 months there in 2002 so while a lot has changed, a lot has stayed the same.

One big change...
The "Tree House" platforms...
These are great structures rising quite high into the treetops.  One even has a suspension bridge (lower 2 photos) that stretches between 2 platforms.  The one in the upper photos is quite a climb to the top.  Kind of like those old fire towers that were used as lookouts.  Of course we had to climb up every one of them.  

The biggest draw to Santa Ana NWR is the birds.  There are birds here that you won't see any place else in the USA.  It was shortly after noon when we got there today so most self-respecting birds were settled in for their siesta.  No green jays or altamira orioles, but we did see...
this little Green Kingfisher

We didn't see any kiskadees, but this...
Couch's Kingbird
(or possibly a Tropical Kingbird...  didn't get the best look)...  and it is winter...  

And this hawk....
Juvenile White-tailed Hawk?  Peregrine Falcon?  
Size and color were difficult to make out...  too far away and bad light.
And besides that, I need re-trained on the local birds here.

But we enjoyed watching them....
As they watched us....

Of course we did put up a bird feeder outside our rig..  didn't take long to attract these guys..
Great-tailed Grackle
Oh well...  they're hungry, too.

That's All For Today!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Down In The Valley....

And we are today...  about 475 south of Ft Worth...  clear down to the Rio Grande River.  Well, almost.  I think we're about 7 miles from the river, but that's okay....  it took us 2 days to get from daughter Celeste's down to here...  and we can say "We're on the road again".  

Looky here...  outside...  sunshine...  door's open!  
If I'd turned the camera around you'd see me in shorts and a tee-shirt.
I mean... how much better can it get?

We're now at Alamo, Texas....  kind of between Pharr and La Feria...  or if you have a map.... we're just west of Padre Island.  We're just a few miles from the Mexican border...  and I intend to head there soon and get a dental checkup.

But...  today...  got here around 11:30...  Alamo Rose RV Park.  A place we've stayed here several times in the past.  It's probably not the cheapest place in the valley to stay, but to us, it's familiar, it's comfortable...  and it's kind of "home".  Not much more to say....

Things do change, though....  We headed across the street to a place that was a bakery and they made their own tortillas, etc...  Since we were here last year it's changed.  Now that place is a restaurant....  just opened yesterday.  Well, heck...  we don't eat out much....  But they told us where the bakery has relocated.  We walked back home...  got the car and headed out...

Found it quite easily...  ordered our tamales for Christmas Dinner.  Okay...  if you have the traditional turkey or ham or whatever, that's just fine.  But we're probably the most untraditional folks you'll ever meet, so don't scoff at our dinner of tamales and champagne.  Hey...  we're well over the legal age, cut us a break.

I'll cut this short...  we're here....  we'll be here for a month...  everything's fine.
Wish we could be with all 4 of our kids, but that just won't happen...  sooooo...
This will be okay....
Just think...  we'll see green jays, altamira orioles and who knows what all....

That's All For Today!

Friday, December 19, 2014

It's All About Your (L)attitude....

I've always been interested in maps...  as a kid, my brother, sister and I would make up games using our World Book Encyclopedia as our source.  Our family didn't have a car back then and we walked everywhere.  Most of my travels were through the articles and maps in those books.  I learned about my own state of Ohio as well as the other 47 states...  back then there were only 48.  I learned about other countries - where they were located and much, much more.

I still love maps...  it's probably a good thing because with Bill & my lifestyle these days maps are essential to getting where we want to go.

With the GPS systems available now, maybe reading maps isn't considered quite as important, but sometimes you just can't trust those little rascals...  and sometimes batteries die when you need them the most...  and sometimes...  well, you get the picture.

We learned in elementary school about latitude and longitude....  degrees and minutes...  parallels and meridians....  we learned about the Greenwich England Observatory, where it all begins.

The world is round (or at least mostly so) and in geometry we learn that circles have 360 degrees...    so 180 degrees (latitude) from Greenwich, England going either east or west, is the International Date Line.  I guess there has to be a designated place to distinguish one day from the next, and this is it...  Since I started geocaching 10 years ago I've become even more aware of just where in the world we are...  and I love figuring out how many degrees we are from the equator (I'm always trying to stay warm), and I like knowing what our elevation is and the like.

On our flight from Los Angeles to Tokoyo in October, each passenger had a small "tv" screen that you could watch a movie or play a game....  or...  wooohooo! you could watch the plane's progress as well as view some other data.

Bill called my attention to it...  and just look!
We were less than 2 degrees from the International Dateline...
Yeah, I missed the actual crossing, but that's okay....  by the time I got the camera ready this is the shot I got.

This made me start thinking...  (always a scary thing)...
Wouldn't it be great to be on a ship in the Bay of Guinea, just out of the Atlantic Ocean and off the coast of Africa...  check your GPS and see:
  N000 00.000  W000 00.000
  Right on the equator ... just half way between the North and South Poles and half way either side to the International Date Line!  

What a Hoot!

That's All For Today!




Thursday, December 18, 2014

Some Down Time For Now....

We've been back in Texas nearly 2 weeks and I think I'm caught up with the laundry, the mail, and the posts about our 6 weeks away.  Bill has already had his routine doctor appointment, we got the rig's annual inspection done and we took a day to drive into Ft Worth.  A wire on one of my hearing aids broke a few weeks back and it needed repaired.  Just everyday things that needed attention.

Bill checks the listings for house-sitters... both in the USA and abroad; we've thought about looking into another gate-guarding job; we could volunteer in any number of places...  but so far we just haven't decided what we want to do for the winter.  We're here at a daughter's for now, but plan on heading out this weekend for south Texas.  The Rio Grande Valley has to be warmer than it is here, and I'm overdue for a dental appointment.  

Today we got to thinking about a little place in Alamo, Texas that sells tamales...  and they sure sound good for Christmas dinner!

My camera has all but collected dust since we got back and a couple of times I've even forgotten to take it along when I drive to town.  It's kind of dreary here this time of year, but there is an exciting event happening in various spots along the road between Glen Rose and Granbury...  a pipe line is being laid through fields...
We'd watched the surveyors along the road before we left in October and speculated about what was going to happen.  When we returned the work was well under way...

Long lines of pipe are laid out on the ground...  we cross over the route about 4 times on our way to town, which goes to show that it isn't a straight line between the 2 towns.  (Wouldn't it be fun to take a plane or helicopter ride over the whole project?)  There are crews of men working every day...  long hours.

Yesterday, as we were driving on our county road, we were flagged through an area that was about to be closed.  Of course we had to stop to see what was happening...
This big piece of equipment was going to cross the road.  It's on tracks, so the crew laid down plywood on the road, then put down a row of rubber tires.  This prevented any damage to the asphalt from the tracks of that heavy load.  I don't know much about road equipment, but Bill told me that this machine will go along after the pipeline has been laid and cover it up with dirt.  I asked Bill if he'd ever ran this kind of equipment...  no, he hasn't, but he'd sure like to.

Today we had to take the rig for it's annual safety inspection (Texas law)...  and when we were coming home the road was closed again... 
Apparently a fair amount of equipment has been crossing back and forth, and this water truck was washing off the mud that they had left in the road

If it looks rainy to you, you'd be right.  Temperatures in the 40's (and now mid-50's) along with drizzly rain has been the order of the day.  Yesterday we had an honest-to-goodness thunder storm with heavy rain.  It didn't last long, but sure sounded good to someone like me who loves a good storm.

Mostly just wanted to catch up and get back to posting again.  Can't promise that our adventures will be exciting, but we always seem to find each day holds something special.

That's All For Today!


Monday, December 15, 2014

Bangkok, Thailand....

Thailand was one of my favorite countries to visit.  Granted, we were there only 2 or 3 days, but the variety of things to see was so diverse.  It was on a tour here that we had the best tour guide of the whole trip...  a young woman who spoke English quite well and talked about her country and some of their ways.

Bill & I went into Bangkok 2 times... separate days.  The first day we took a "do it yourself" bus into the city.....  that's a 2 hour bus ride just getting there.  They drop you off at a designated area and pick up up at that same place at a designated time.  

I sure was glad we weren't driving...
As you can tell, this is one of those countries with the traffic in the opposite lanes than we're used to in the USA.  And look at that directional sign!  The language aside, a person would have to know where they were going to follow those arrows!

There are lots of ornamental arches or structures over the highways as you travel in and out of cities.
They are in honor of the Thailand King and Queen.
Our tour guide told us that these monarchs are much loved by the Thai people.  She told us, too, that the king is quite old now and that the photos or pictures of them along the highways are way out of date.  Also, the royalty has only a daughter and when the king passes on laws will have to be changed if a female will be permitted to fill her father's role.

I was in search of a geocache that first day...
As often happens, seeking my little treasures takes us off the normal "tourist" route.  This canal ran right through the city and seemed to divide the high-rise business buildings and a very crowded, ghetto-like area that in the USA would be considered slums.  This is  a Buddhist country and you'll see little (and big) shrines everywhere...  many in front of or beside of a storefront... or maybe just tucked away at the end of an alley...  they'll be lots of marigolds and incense....  and usually these shrines are very neat and well kept.

The area where the bus dropped us off has huge shopping malls.  I had taken enough yarn with me to knit one pair of socks, thinking with the sightseeing and the genealogy workshops I'd never finish knitting that pair of socks on this trip.  By the time we got to Thailand I knew I'd run out of yarn before we got back to the USA so as long as we were at the mall, I'd look for yarn.

I really didn't think I'd find any as these shops were very up-scale and seemed to cater to high-end clothing, shoes etc.  But...  wooohooo...  I found a Marks and Spencer department store.  I think this is a British store as the last time I was in one was many years ago in London.  Anyway, sure enough there was a small needlework department on the 7th floor.  I did buy a couple skeins of yarn to make another pair of socks, but look at this creation....
A crochet motor scooter cozy?
We've all seen a cozy to put over a teapot...  right?  Well, why not dress your motor scooter up in style!  Okay... I'm sure it's just a "work of art"...  but I had to include this for our daughter, Donna, who is always knitting or crocheting something unique.

While we were in the mall we headed to the food court for lunch.
Not exactly like any food court in malls I've been to, the whole top two floors of this huge mall had many, many restaurants...  sit-down type....  with all manner of foods available.  This was a noodle place...  with dumplings and various other foods.  So Good!

The next day our tour guide would tell us a little about Thailand eating habits.  She said that folks don't cook.  Young people don't learn how to cook because their parents don't cook.  They eat out all the time.  One of our fellow passengers on that bus said that her daugther-in-law is Thai and never cooks even though they now live in the USA.  There are food booths everywhere...  all along the streets... openly selling prepared foods.



It's fun to walk along the streets, checking out the vehicles, watching people, smelling the aromas from various foods...  
Just absorbing the atmosphere....
The Thai people do not want to get a suntan...  the umbrellas are for shade, not because it's raining.

The 2nd day we spent in Thailand was to take a guided tour to some beautiful gardens...
The landscaping was fantastic!  That sculpture at the upper left is the "Ant Garden".  Those are huge sculpted ants climbing up that post.  I know these photos just don't do justice to the work that this place must entail to keep so beautiful.

There was also an orchid garden...
Not only beautiful flowers, but interesting artwork intermingling among the displays.  Can you find Bill in one of the photos?  And...  yep...  that's me in the lower left photo.

There were some photo ops if a person wanted to pay...
You could sit down beside this tiger and have your photo taken...
This guy was on a chain and did have a caretaker close by, but...  can you imagine this allowed in the USA?  
Check out those flower pots at the left..  and the arches in the background.  There were lots of "flower pot sculptures" throughout the park.  One was a teapot you could walk in...  another was a pumpkin about the size of a small house.  It was really fun to wander the paths and come across another unique design.


On this day-long tour, we were also treated to outstanding entertaiment...
I don't know exactly what it's called, but I'll just say that it's the folk or traditional dancing of Thailand.  The costumes were stunning!  There was a depiction of a warrior being challenged and the ensuing battle...  lovely women with such graceful movements...
Wait a minute...  our tour guide told us that many of these beautiful women (especially the ones with the heavy head dresses) are "Ladyboys".  Some of these ladyboys are transvestites and some have gone through hormone treatments and other sex-change processes.  Our guide told us that things in life are caused by karma, so there is no adverse judgement.  


Also, we saw a great demonstration of traditional Thai kick-boxing.
I didn't really want to see this until I realized it was all staged...
These boys did a great job of showing off their techniques and style.
I think the boy in the red shorts was the winner, at least for this round.

And...  another Buddhist temple...
More marigolds...  more incense...  more glitter and gold.
This one was rather fitting with all the elephant statues, because this where we had the opportunity to take an elephant ride...

A person could buy a bag of food and feed the elephants.  The little guy at the right is a couple years old.  She'll stay with mom for several years...  never leaving her side.  If Mom is performing in a show, the little one will be right there.  In fact, even the other adults will keep an eye out for the baby.  Pretty neat, huh?

We didn't make it to the beaches in Thailand....  prior to this trip I'd thought I'd like to take a vacation doing just that...  but I think these 4 weeks in southern Asia will do me for a long time.
That's All For Today!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Okinawa, Japan

Bill spent a few months in Okinawa...  in the early 1960's...  compliments of the US gov't.
Our visit was only for a couple of days and wasn't quite as "regulated" as his was back then.  However, even now, stopping in some of these Asian countries can get quite complicated.  We had to turn in our passports to the cruise ship office.  They issued us a photo copy of our passports, shown above, which when we left the ship to do our sightseeing, there were customs and immigration offices where we presented these photocopies and the officers stamped them.  We had to turn these papers in as we boarded the ship for our final time at that port.  Our passports do have stamps from all these countries we visited, but some processes were rather interesting.  In some ports, that county's military had set up tables that everyone had to file past... with passport in hand...  and an "eye-to-eye" contact was made.  No photos, of course...  also, no smiles or friendly faces.  

Back to Okinawa...
Another city with lots of big buildings...  lots of traffic and lots of people.  

Motorcycles and buses and taxis were the major kinds of transportation...
Every possible space was utilized to park motorcycles.  At every traffic light there would be a huge crowd of cyclists waiting for the light to change.

Often signs would be in both Japanese and English.  And look at the left side of the photo...  a 7-Eleven store.  Not only are McDonalds, KFC, and other fast foods there, but convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Lawson's were all over the place.

I love how often we'd see "green space" in the most unusual places...
While nothing you could stroll through or anything like that, isn't this a unique way to create some greenery on a downtown building?  Notice, too, the signs...  shops you'll find in the USA...  and signs in both languages.


Street vendors were packed in along the storefronts and sidewalks often making it difficult just to maneuver your way through the crowds.  There were lots of clothing stores, souvenir shops and many, many kinds of foods available.  A lot of the food is prepared right on the sidewalk...  the women in the upper right are cutting up what looked like cabbage.  Deep fryers were bubbling in lots of stalls, lots of rotisseries with meat rotating slowly...  there were complete meals, a quick snack, something sweet, fresh fruits....  you name it!  Since I'm finally over whatever stomach ailment I got in Costa Rica earlier this year, we passed up all the street vendors in this area despite the fact that some of that stuff looked delicious.

Of course watching people is a favorite pastime of ours...
Aren't folks interesting?
Whether they're busy at work, checking out the available foods or just strolling along I love catching them on camera.  The little girl in the middle photo was so sweet...  she would toddle over to me, then head back to mama....  we flirted with each other for quite a while.

Always on the lookout for birds, we saw these in the bay...
While the wings kind of remind me of our turkey vultures, these guys had habits more like an osprey...  they would soar... and hover... overhead ..  then dive into the water for fish or some other kind of food.  I never did get a decent photo of one....  but good enough that I can probably ID them later.


We found a drug store and checked out what they had to offer.  Many US brands were available.  
This toothpaste display has all kinds of brands.  
We wandered through several of the aisles and it looked to me like drug stores are pretty much the same all over...  first aid supplies, head ache remedies, etc.  Guess we all have more in common than we sometimes realize.

Eventually we headed back to the ship.
Celebrity Millenium

I asked Bill if anything had looked familiar... 
Heck no...  that was 50 years ago...   his plane landed on base.... and he never left the base in the time he was here.  A different time and a different life....

That's All For Today!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hello to Hong Kong

The ship stopped at a couple of ports in China... Shanghai and Hong Kong.  China was the most difficult country to enter/exit.  Way last summer we sent in our passports to a company that applies for visas....  not cheap.... cost $619.13 plus the UPS fee to send it to them.   This visa was mandatory for all passengers on this cruise but after talking with others in our genealogy group we found that different companies apparently charge different rates.  No matter, we were allowed to visit these places in China and that's what this trip was all about.

We arrived at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal early in the morning...
It was quite foggy but we could see the Hong Kong skyline across the bay.  And...  what the heck is that long thing that looks like an airplane?  My goodness, we're going to "park" right beside it!

We find out that this IS the port.... and the building is a very modern structure designed to look like an airplane.  This spit of land was the old airport which has now been relocated to another part of the city.  Look back at the photo as we're coming into port...
See the trees on top of the building?

The whole top of the terminal has been made into a park.  Not just a little postage stamp size park, but a gorgeous, well landscaped area with lots of paved walks, beautiful flowers and shrubs and various sculptures relating to airplanes and the old airstrip.

The building itself is huge...
Not only does it house areas for Customs and Immigration...  and a visitor information center...  and a huge area with seating for folks to use the free internet, but it also has an up-scale shopping center with places that sell Gucci, Rolex, perfumes, cosmetics, handbags, very expensive clothing and... even a wine shop.  We were permitted to each take a 1 liter bottle of wine aboard and so we bought some of the cheapest wine they had...  about $15 a bottle...  but still a far cry from what the ship charged for their wine at dinner!


One thing I wanted was to find at least one geocache in each country we visited.  With the internet being what it was, that wasn't an easy thing to do.  We did find a few in Hong Kong, but I don't think that these days this is actually China.  We found several caches around that park and in the park that surrounds the outside of the terminal, but they all just say "Hong Kong"...  not Hong Kong, China.  Guess I'm going to have to check my Asian history again.

I'll write a bit about the internet here...  it's not that these countries don't have the latest and best technology...  part of the problem was that the ship just didn't have adequate satellite service installed, and part of the problem was that the ship had over 3,500 passengers.  When we docked I have no idea how many folks rushed to the dock terminals to use their service, but can say that the huge rooms where internet was available would be packed with folks like us wanting to get on line.  No wonder we'd get knocked off line or not even be able to log on.

You could see in the topmost photo the skyline of Hong Kong...  I don't have the figures to tell you how many millions of people live here.  But it's a very "vertical" city...  tall... very tall... buildings, many of them housing.
I cannot imagine living here.....  
But it's obvious that an effort is made to provide some "green"...
If you don't have space on the ground, create your greenspace where you can!

Shopping seems to be the biggest pastime no matter where we're at.  The big thing here in Hong Kong is to go to the malls...
Huge Malls!
Malls as many as 7 stories high.  Looking down from the escalator into the huge atrium at all the Christmas decorations was dizzying. 
Neither Bill nor I are much at shopping and I think we lasted about 20 minutes in these crowds - just long enough to buy some toothpaste - before we had had enough! 

We'd so much rather be outside...
and, as you know, we're always looking for birds...
We didn't see many here, but loved seeing this guy with the crazy mustache.
I wonder if he's related to the myna birds we've seen in nearby countries?

Tomorrow is another chapter in this latest adventure, but..
That's All For Today!



Friday, December 12, 2014

Today it's Taiwan....

Very briefly, off and on while we were in Asia we'd have internet and during one of those times I posted a blog about our stopover in Taiwan...  but that was a few weeks ago and I'm going to bore some of you and re-visit that port.

In that blog I wrote that we walked up a lot of steps to some gardens and a Buddhist Temple
We've been on lots of cruises and a person has to keep in mind that a huge cruise ship docks in huge bodies of water.  Therefore, there is usually either flat land around, or in many cases, hills to walk up.  The good thing about this is that no matter how steep the walk is or how many steps there are to trudge up, you get to walk down to get back on the ship.  Of course, if you're like us, you find plenty of things along the way to make the walk up take a long time...

Like seeing birds and taking the time to snap their photo...
There was a whole flock of these birds high up in the trees... 
I haven't IDed them yet...  but hope to soon.


At the top of those steps...  way at the top....  was a huge statue of this Buddha...
And, yes...  those are the critters that graced "the end" of that previous blog.  I'm going to have to do some research to learn the significance of those dog-like creatures.  We saw them frequently in this part of Asia.

That buddha overlooks the whole city... and you can climb steps up the inside and look out the windows are various levels.
Kind of a bird's eye view of the city...

This building was being renovated and was in sad disrepair.  It was once a very beautiful structure, and still is fascinating to look at.  You can spend a long time just checking out the carvings, find various animals or other things in the artwork, or just be mesmerized by the contours and shapes.

Such intricate designs!
And so interesting to see the old with the new....  I wonder if there are still folks around who can create these masterpieces?  Somehow, I think times have changed even here.


We were strolling along in this museum and came across this full-length mirror....
I had to stop and take our picture...
It looks like Bill's got his hand on my butt, but don't worry...  we behaved ourselves.


Another bird I need to ID....

Did I mention that there are thousands of motorcycles and motor scooters in some of these Asian countries?  In some cities there are separate motorcycle driving lanes.  While waiting for a traffic light to turn green, there can be 50 or more cycles lined up ready to go.  In many places motorcycles are parked along the sidewalks, in alleys and in any place big enough to park one...  and sometimes, those parking places really aren't big enough.

We didn't ride motorcycles during this trip, but we sure took a lot of various transportation...  airplanes, trains, taxis, buses, subways...  even an elephant ride...  
But this colorful steed was the only horse I rode.

I still have a few countries left to write about...  but I've found that I'm enjoying that trip now, through my photos, nearly as much as I did when we were there.  

That's All For Today!