Monday, September 24, 2007

China

It’s the same deal as always. The posts are copied out of my journal with pieces deleted. I apologize for the poor grammar and the misspellings, but I was exhausted when I wrote this. I think it really shows by the last entry, which is incredibly short. I may post what I rewrite for myself, but don’t count on it.

For those who want the short version: China was amazing. I went to the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Terra Cotta Warriors among other things. I had my pocket picked (don’t worry mom and dad, they didn’t take money or ATM/credit cards. It’s kind of funny what they got, but you’ll have to read on to find out what it was). I ate duck flavored jello. I haggled A LOT and loved every minute of it.

The long version:

Sept. 17, 2007 A7
“My dad listens to Avril Lavigne. I don’t even know who she is.”
En route to Qingdao, China

It was back to classes today. I did the usual: took advantage of the internet when no one was using it early in the morning, got breakfast (which was not good today, though it did see the return of strawberry yogurt), and did some reading before Global. Dean Glatfelter taught today in Global Studies, which was fairly interesting. The second presentation was not very interesting, but it was quick and we got let out early, which is always a plus. I should have used this time for work, but I instead opted for a nap, which was amazing. By this point the rocking had eased a little bit, and when I got up to go to Oceanography, it wasn’t too bad at all. Dr. Elliott talked about our midterm today. It’s going to be A11, which seems like it should be close, because today was A7, but it’s not for almost another month, after China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Thailand.

I had dinner with my shipboard family tonight. We added a new member, the woman who works the registrar. It was so much fun, but we were only there for half an hour, because of the mandatory meeting for everyone who was going to Beijing. The meeting wasn’t really too informative, if you had the ability to think for yourself. It covered the size your carry on bag is allowed to be, which some people had ridiculous questions about. The stuff people were asking was just ridiculous… A professor sat behind me, and even she couldn’t restrain herself from making snide remarks about how stupid people were being. The preport was after that. Dr. Croizier spoke, and he is just the most adorable old man. I have him for class, and he was so much more interesting tonight than he usually is. I suppose it has something to do with the atmosphere. In class he has such a hard time getting people to be quiet so he can talk, and a lot of it has to do with his nature. I think he would be a great professor if he was teaching people who were actually interested in what he had to say, rather than people who showed up because they had to have 12 credit hours. I would really like to have a class with him in that sort of setting. Then one of the Chinese students on board gave a presentation called “Scary China,” which was completely hilarious. He was debunking myths portrayed by the American media. Then the Chinese interport student (who is actually from Hong Kong) gave a presentation.

Sept. 18, 2007 B7
“I think I see something! Oh, it’s just an empty water bottle.”
En route to China
*You’ll probably think this post is unusually short. I cut out a lot. Most of it wouldn’t have meant much to you anyway.*

This morning I did the usual: took advantage of the internet when there were less people on it and ate a massive breakfast.

Natural History was interesting; art history was not. I had lunch with Nicole and Bo today out on the deck. The ocean isn’t nearly as pretty now as it was before. It used to be a beautiful bright blue, but it has now turned to a murky gray. We had an observation on Deck 7 for Natural History today, which was mostly to teach us how to use binoculars. Most people didn’t even have a set with them, so it didn’t really do anyone much good. We saw no animal life, but instead 1 ship and a great deal of garbage. I have to admit I was a little disappointed. My idea of sea life isn’t really an empty water bottle and a floating crate.


Sept. 19th 2007 (Wednesday?)
“It’s jell-o with hunks of duck in it.”
Qingdao and Beijing, China

I got up at 5:30 to watch us pull into Qingdao with Ashley. I was up a little bit early, so I took advantage of the lack of people on the internet. I went to the faculty/staff lounge (it’s one of the rare occasions when we’re allowed in), and saw that it was pouring down rain outside. There were the few people that wanted to watch out in the rain, but I stayed inside. When Ashley got up there, we went out in the rain for a few minutes, but not very long. We got breakfast, and then I went back to bed, figuring that we weren’t going to be cleared for a while. Even if we were cleared early, it wasn’t really worth it to me to get off of the ship and then get right back on to meet in the Union for my Beijing/Xian trip.

Before the flight, Doc Nancy got some Oreos and shared with me while we were waiting to board. It’s weird, but kind of cool all at the same time to share Oreos with a professor while you both wait for your first trip to Beijing. To board the plane, we had to get on buses outside of the gate. The bus took us all of 10 feet to the nearest plane, where we boarded. On the flight I sat next to Creeper and one of the Life Long Learners (LLL). The LLL picked up on my dislike of flying when we hit some turbulence and was really nice about it. He talked about whatever he could get me to talk about in order to distract me from it, and before I knew it, we had landed in Beijing. It turns out that he is from Ohio and his daughter is an AXD, which is pretty cool.

From the airport we went to dinner, which was at a 5 story Peking Duck Restaurant. I wasn’t very hungry, but I did eat. Duck was in pretty much everything. The meal even started with this weird jell-o with chucks of duck in it. It wasn’t very good. I figured we were going to get some sort of weird dessert with duck in it, but we actually just got watermelon. My table went through beer pretty quickly, and eventually got cut off from the free stuff we were getting. From here we went to the hotel and checked in. I got my roommate, but my roommate went out pretty much immediately. She was hardly ever in the room. The hotel was actually the headquarters for the Peking Opera, and the whole hotel was ‘opera themed.’ It was very late when we checked in, and I just went to bed.

Sept. 20th 2007 (Thursday?)
“The only thing the French should host is an invasion.”
Beijing, China

The morning started for me with a trip to the ATM. I tried my card a couple of times with a few different options, but the Bank of China didn’t seem to like it and wouldn’t give me money. I converted what little money I had at the hotel, but figured that the converted money would be all I would have. I just assumed since my ATM card wouldn’t work that it had been cancelled by my bank, even though I told them I was going abroad, and wouldn’t be able to use it as a credit card.

On the bus ride, we were given the option of signing up for an optional acrobatic show or for the Opera in our hotel. The opera was nearly sold-out. The only thing that was left were the best seats in the house. They were only $60 in U.S. dollars, but I didn’t have that much, and I couldn’t use the ATM or my credit card to get tickets. It was yuan only. I was really disappointed that I couldn’t afford a ticket for the opera; it seemed like such a reasonable price compared to what you would get in the U.S. I signed up for the acrobatic show instead, and even then I knew that I was really going to have to carefully budget what little yuan I did have.

We got to the Great Wall fairly early. We were taken to the steepest section. This particular section was circular, and pretty much our whole group headed up the steep way, rather than going around the less steep route. It seemed silly to me, but I didn’t want to climb by myself, so I went with them. I got up to the top, but didn’t go the full circle. I got my pictures, and then I climbed down. I joined Audrey, an LLL, and we went around the less steep path. When I say it was less steep, I mean it was basically flat rather than nearly straight up. There were a few shops that we stopped in on the way. One of them was an official 2008 Olympic store. I considered buying a few things, but only got a shot glass for my sister because everything was so expensive. You could also climb down, and there were a few temples you could go in, so we went. In one of the temples you were not supposed to take pictures, but we didn’t see anyone enforcing this rule, so Audrey started snapping pictures. As soon as she did, a little man wandered out of the darkest corner. We pretended not to speak English and vacated the temple. We got back on the wall, and I was stopped by 2 Chinese women to have my photo taken with them. They didn’t speak any English so I interpreted their nonverbal communication to mean that they wanted me to take their photo for them, but we finally got it all figured out. I think I was stopped because of my blonde hair. Anyway, Audrey took a picture for me, and they each took pictures for each other. It was pretty entertaining for all of us, and it made me feel a little like a celebrity for just a few minutes. After all of that we still had a little time to kill before we needed to be back on the bus, so we had some ice cream and waited.

After the Great Wall, we went to lunch. The restaurant was connected with a Cloisonné ‘factory’ and we got a tour of it before we actually ate in an attempt to lure us to shop after we finished lunch. Lunch was fairly decent, minus the fish head (which I tried). Afterwards I did go into the shop, and I looked at a jade tiger, and thought about buying it, but I knew I didn’t have enough yuan. I saw that they took Mastercard, but I still thought that my card had been cancelled. Since I really wanted the tiger, I thought I would try using my card and that the worst that would happen is that it would be rejected. I honestly thought that this was the most likely thing to happen, but I really hoped that luck would be on my side. It turned out that my card worked, which amazed me. I was excited to know that I would actually have a little money to spend (more than the ~ $20 I had left after I paid for the acrobat show).

We all boarded the buses and went to the Summer Palace where we got a very brief tour of a small portion of the grounds. We were running late, so we barely got to see anything, which was disappointing, because what we did see of the grounds was very gorgeous. We were in such a rush that when 3 girls didn’t show up to the buses on time they got left behind. We didn’t even wait more than a minute after time to meet. We just left. It was a little scary to know that you would get left behind that easily. We went straight to the Acrobat Show, which was amazing. I’ve seen “performances” before, but it was nothing like this. I was very pleased with my decision to use a significant portion of my cash to see it. I also bought some popcorn from the snack bar to eat during the show. It claimed it had an American taste, which I suppose it did if you eat kettle corn.

After the show it was getting pretty late, so I gave some thought to getting dinner, but in the end decided I would just assume go to the grocery store and get a snack rather than go out and hunt for a place that would take my credit card. A couple of the LLLs on the trip decided the same thing, so once we got back to the hotel we walked over to the grocery store together. I was having some difficulty with crossing the street since traffic in China doesn’t stop for pedestrians, so I when this Chinese guy crossed, I followed right behind him. The store was a little confusing. It was an electronics store/grocery store all in one, and it was a fairly large, so it took some time to navigate it. I found what I wanted, paid for it, and crossed the street the same way I did the first time, by tailing someone who knew how to get across. I got back to my room and watched some TV. There was a channel showing American movies, so I caught Mr. Deeds before getting to sleep.

Sept. 21st 2007 (Friday?)
“It’s okay. We’re on the runway; it’s just a little rough.”
Beijing and Xian, China
I got up and found breakfast, then headed out to the buses. Our first stop of the day was the Temple of Heaven, which was pretty cool for several reasons. The first is that a bunch of senior citizens were exercising in the park, which was interesting to see. They were practicing ballroom dancing, tai chi, ribbon dancing, badminton, and others. There was also this little old man that I think just liked attention, so whenever we passed he would start jumping up and down or counting in English really loudly. The temple itself was very beautiful. We weren’t given enough time here, but it was very cool to see. The next stop of the day was Tiananmen Square, which I was really looking forward to. It turned out that it wasn’t so much a stop on our itinerary as it was a path to rush across on the way to the Forbidden City. I was disappointed that we were barely even there, but I did get to haggle with street vendors on my way across. If you know me very well, you know that I absolutely LOVE to haggle, so this was a lot of fun. It’s a bit of an art form, and you really have to learn how to do it appropriately to not get ripped off. I have a knack for it, and I’m usually able to get things cheaper than other people, maybe just because I’d rather rip someone off than be ripped off. I got a Mao watch, but the vendor wouldn’t agree to my price. I wasn’t willing to pay anymore than my price, so I just handed him the wad of yuan (slightly less than $1.00, but all in 1 yuan bills) that I was willing to give him. He didn’t even count it and started hassling the next person in the group that looked remotely interested in the watches. I did this with a few of the vendors, and I made out pretty well. I spent around $4.00, but got presents for 4 people and the Mao watch for myself.

We went to the Forbidden City after this, and I was very excited for it, but once we got in it seemed like the whole thing was under construction. The main building was completely blocked off. I wandered through the parts that were open and found a place where I got an ice cream, then went to the back gate to meet everyone to board the buses. When we left, we were again hassled by street vendors, and I was ready for it. There was a man selling carved wooden dragons, and I really wanted one. I was willing to pay a lot more than my original offer for it, but I really wanted to see just how low I could get his offer. I actually finally got him to agree to my original offer, which I thought was a little ridiculous because of how low it actually was. I handed him my money and then he started demanding more money before he would give me the item. This pissed me off a lot; it was crossing the line to me. I ripped my money out of his hand and then walked away. He followed me, and kept saying he would give it to me for my original quote, because I was the only one interested out of 83 people, but I was so angry with him that I was completely unwilling to deal with him. The Beijing police were right there, and saw him hassling me, and made him stop. I’m not sure what happened to him after that, but he was nowhere to be seen.

We went to lunch and everything was really spicy (as in spicy hot) but it was very, very good. I think it was the second best meal of this trip. We rushed to the airport from here, but when we got there, our flight had been delayed 2 hours. I found these amazing chocolate and marshmallow cookies to snack on while we waited for our flight. While we were waiting I got to talk to our tour guide about some history of the Forbidden City and Chinese rulers. Some of the things she had to say were fascinating. Then we started talking about movies. I was excited that I had finally met someone who liked Hero as much as I did. Hero is a Chinese movie about the emperor trying to unify China and standardize the language. It is the possibly the most visually beautiful movie I’ve ever seen. She was telling me that she gives tours to the areas where it was filmed. I think it would be something spectacular to see. I hope the area retains its beauty until the time I am able to get to China again. The flight to Xian was pretty smooth compared to the one to Beijing, but I was still pretty happy when we were told we were going to land. We hit the runway, and it was a completely terrifying experience. It was the bumpiest, roughest runway imaginable. It was already 10 pm by the time we got out of the airport, so we were given the option of eating dinner or going straight to the hotel. I opted for going to the hotel. I was glad to get to sleep, but I was awoken several times during the night by the most annoying bird imaginable. My dad probably would have pulled out his binoculars and enjoyed it, but I was ready to break the stupid bird’s neck.

Sept. 22nd, 2007 (Saturday?)
“I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. I’m not going to watch some damn movie.”
Xian and Lintong County, China
I was hit with a severe case of buyer’s remorse here.

The day started with a trip to the Wild Goose Pagoda. We were given some free time to explore the area by ourselves, which I appreciated a lot. I paid extra to climb up to the top, and then went into the gift shop to look around a little bit. I was looking for something for my brother, so I asked for a price quote on something. I was given a price that was less than the listed price, and at 9 am my brain wasn’t functioning quite properly. I made a horrible long division mistake in my head, and thought that the price was cheaper than it actually was (though it was a fair price, because it was a friendship shop, so the items were guaranteed by the Chinese government). I figured since it was so cheap I’d just go ahead and get one for my sister as well. Once I got on the bus and did the math, I realized what a mistake I had made. All in all it wasn’t terrible; I just didn’t mean to spend that much money in one go. We proceeded to the Shanxi Provincial Museum, where I got to see some Chinese art and cultural relics. I enjoyed it, but it was very small. It was also under construction, so we weren’t allowed in the main hall here either. I was really ready for the main attraction of the day, so I was happy when we left.

We went to lunch at a restaurant connected to a silk making ‘factory.’ We got a tour that included a silk fashion show and conveniently let us out in a large silk shop, but proceeded to lunch with the instructions to come back after we ate. Lunch was amazing, but I ate quickly and went into the shop. I tried on a dress, and it was a little discouraging. I am a medium in the U.S. but in China I become a XXL. I didn’t get the dress for the sheer fact that I wasn’t willing to buy anything that said I was that large. I saw 2 gorgeous purses and decided I wanted them both, but then I remembered the horrible mistake I made during the morning. I debated about buying anything at all. I bought the cheaper of the two purses, but later wished that I had bought the other one. It was more expensive, but I think I liked it better. Rather it’s design was far more practical for use in the U.S. I talked to Audrey for a little while here, and found out that she’s an Alpha Xi! It was really cool to find a sister in the middle of a silk shop in Lintong County, China. After we left it was finally time for the Terra Cotta Warriors. When we got there, it seemed like the tour guides talked for ages giving information that I already knew. I wanted them to just tell us the time to meet at the bus and let me go. Doc Nancy was really feeling the same way. They tried to get us all to go see a movie that would likely have repeated the same information we had already received twice from the tour guides, so Doc Nancy and I skipped it and went straight to Pit 1. It was one of very few moments in my life that I have been completely filled with awe. It was just incredible. The warriors in front had been reconstructed from the shatter pieces that had been excavated. In the back you could see all the broken pieces in piles, and you could see a place where they were being reconstructed. We took our time strolling through this pit, and this is where I got my pocket picked. Earlier that day my camera batteries had died. I changed them, and put the dead ones in my pocket and just left them there without thinking about it. I felt the hand go into my pocket, and before I could think about it, 2 AA batteries had been taken. I found it very amusing. My credit card and money were all out of reach, so I shared a little laugh with Doc Nancy, and we went on our way to the gift shop.

The man who discovered the warriors actually has a job at the gift shop autographing books for all the tourists who come through. I bought a book and got it signed, and then looked at some of the figurines. They were all out of my price range, even the little tiny ones. I knew there were people wondering throughout the area selling figurines that were of horrible quality, but that I could get for $1.00 and that I could get myself a nice set at the hotel for much cheaper, so I didn’t buy any. I went into the other 2 pits, and passed a man selling boxes of cheaply made warriors. He hassled me to pay more than a $1.00, but there was absolutely no way I was going to pay more than that, so I started heading over to park security. It is completely illegal for them to be in the area selling those figurines, so he took my $1.00, gave me my set, and hid in the bushes very quickly. It was really kind of funny. I passed another one of these people later, and he had his shirt stuffed with boxes of figures and he yelled out at tourists as they passed the bushes where he was hiding.

On the bus back to the city we were given the option of going to the Forest of Stele the following morning or sleeping in an extra hour. The tour guide said that if a single person wanted to go we couldn’t cut it out because we had all paid for it. I was really looking forward to going and seeing the Analects of Confucius and the Canon of Filial Piety, but I was the only one. I was the lone student that wanted to go and deprived everyone of the extra hour of sleep the next day. We proceeded to a dinner theater, where the show was excellent but the food was not. We returned to the hotel after this and I bought a nice set of Terra Cotta Warriors for less than 1/5 of the asking price of the museum, then I head to bed, where I was again annoyed by the noises of the stupid bird outside all night long.

Sept 23, 2007 (Sunday?)
“It’s dirty. It’s filthy. It’s completely un-American. I love it.”
Xian, China and Hong Kong

The morning started off with the trip to the Forest of Stele. I am so happy that I spoke up, and got myself there. I got to see these ancient Confucian writings on giant stone tablets. It would be like seeing the tablets the Ten Commandments were written on. These tablets are a big deal in Confucianism. Then we went to a calligraphy lesson. I discovered that I am no good at calligraphy, but I had a wonderful time discovering this. We went to lunch after the lesson at a restaurant that was supposed to be revolving at the top of a hotel, but it wasn’t moving. The meal was mostly western food (French Fries, Spaghetti, ‘Fried Chicken’). It was an improvement over fish heads.

We proceeded to the Bell Tower. It wasn’t very interesting. It seemed like a waste of time to me, but maybe some people liked it. We were then given free time to shop at an outdoor market, which meant more haggling, but I only had 40 yuan left (roughly $5.00), so I had to bargain pretty hard if I wanted anything. I ended up getting 4 bracelets and still having 10 yuan left over. The bracelets are fakes, but they are gorgeous. I left the market and waited for the buses because I didn’t have much left to buy anything with. I enjoyed the people watching a lot. I got to talk to another SASer for a while about a lot of different things. It seemed like we talked about everything while we waited there. He was very down to earth and very unlike a lot of students on this voyage.

We headed to the airport, caught our flight to Hong Kong and got to the ship at about 1:00 am. I wanted to go out to a friend’s birthday party, but they had long since left, so I just went to bed, which was just as well, because I had to be up early for a trip to Lantau Island.

Sept 24, 2007 (Monday?)
“Pizza, brownies, Buddhist monks. It’s been a good day.”
Hong Kong and Lantau Island

I got up and got breakfast before going to the Union to report for my trip. The trip took us to Lantau Island where we went to a beach for all of 10 minutes. It’s good we didn’t stay long. The weather was really bad, and we couldn’t even walk on the beach. I got some really cool video of the waves though. Then we walked through Tai O, which is a little fishing village. I got to see houses on stilts in the river and a dried shark and a really neat Dao temple, before we headed to Po Lin Monastery, home of the largest bronze seated Buddha statue in the world. Because it was so windy and rainy, the monastery let us drive buses up to it, rather than climbing the 256 stairs up to it. After visiting the Buddha, we went to lunch at the monastery. They had this fried bread that was amazing. Then we had some free time to explore on our own, but no one really wanted to go outside because of the rain. I just zipped up my raincoat and went out and had a great time exploring and getting soaked. After we left I slept the whole way back to the terminal. When we got back Lindsey, Laura, and I found a California Pizza Kitchen and split a pizza. Then Lindsey and I decided to each order a dessert and then share them. We had an apple crisp and a hot fudge brownie sundae that definitely hit the spot after 4 days of fish heads and jellyfish and not enough of the good food to go around. Then I found a bookstore. This was a mistake. My parents would definitely tell you that it is a mistake for me to be left alone in a bookstore. I got a few (10) books that I’m really excited about. By this time, it was about time to board the ship, so we just went ahead and got on. We watched the light show from the 6th deck, and then listened to the former administrator of Hong Kong give a speech in the Union with Nicole (which was a pretty cool thing to see).

Now it’s back to 2 days of class and then Vietnam and Cambodia!
Also, I changed my email because luminis is never working. If you want it and you know my parents, ask them because they have it. If you are one of my friends I will email you with it tomorrow morning when I have a little more time (hopefully).






Sunday, September 16, 2007

I Loved Japan!

For those of you who want the short version: Japan won my heart almost instantly. I'm definitely going back there, maybe moving there for a little while. For those who want the long version, it's all below.


These posts are extremely edited. I have it all in my journal, and will be more than happy to tell everyone I know back at home the edited out parts, but I don’t really feel like sharing some of my thoughts with complete strangers.


September 5, 2007 (Wednesday) A4
“This isn’t hurting you is it?” (as a side note, when you rip out someone’s hair, it generally does hurt. More on that later.)
Pacific Ocean, en route to Japan.
Theme Song: “You Wouldn’t Like Me” by Tegan and Sara

Yesterday was a pretty dull day, overall. I had class, as usual. Natural history was interesting, but World Art really wasn’t. I can never really figure out the point of what he tells us. He talks a lot, but none of it really seems to be significant. I ate dinner with the interport students from Japan and 7 other people last night. It was a really good time.

Now for today. I ate breakfast with Lindsay, and Sarah and Hannah were there, so we joined them. As usual, I ate a gigantic breakfast. I think if I keep it up I could gain a ton of weight from breakfast (Croissants, potatoes, eggs, French toast, and yogurt this morning). I decided I am dropping the class I added. I’m just going to be part time during winter quarter; it won’t affect my loans, so I would just rather do it that way. It’s not worth it to me. I had oceanography today, and we were supposed to have a quiz, but apparently people didn’t read the syllabus, so they were freaking out, and the professor postponed it. After oceanography, I got my haircut. Let me tell you, this was a mistake. I had debated about how much I wanted to cut, somewhere between 4-8 inches. I decided to go with just 4. I showed the woman how much I wanted cut, and she washed my hair. When she got ready to cut it, she didn’t comb out all of it--just the part she was going to cut at that particular moment. She twisted the rest of it on the top of my head, tangling it even more. I told her it was not a good idea to let it dry in tangles, but she just went on her merry way cutting. When she gets to the part that she let dry into knots, she just started ripping them out, and I do mean she literally just ripped them out of my head. One actually slipped out of her hand and I ended up getting punched in the side of the face. She also left my hair wet after it was cut, which I thought was really weird. They generally blow dry hair at salons (at least for women), and with what I paid for my haircut, I felt like it should have been included. It was the most painful haircut I have ever had. Then afterwards, she let me know that my hair was very unhealthy, and that was why it was so tangled. I needed to buy $40.00 hair product to treat it. I think the solution is brush it while it is wet, and not wrap it into tangles on purpose, but maybe that is just me.

September 9, 2007
“They want a target, not to die.”
Pacific Ocean, en route to Japan

We crossed the International Date Line a couple of days ago, and lost September 7. Not a whole has happened since then. I had a quiz yesterday in oceanography that I know did not go well. I at least know what to expect now, so I can be better prepared in the future. I went to a worship service on the ship and started going to a Bible Study. I am dropping the class I waited so long to add. It’s just not worth it to me. I can be part-time for a quarter, and it will be alright. I’m already overwhelmed with work, and in two days I am going to have only two days between ports for the next four ports, so it’s just going to get worse. The first global studies exam is in two days; I’m not really looking forward to it.

Marissa and I have been planning out Japan pretty well. We’re going to be hitting up Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Himeji, in addition to Yokohama and Kobe, though admittedly, there will be very little time in Yokohama and Himeji. I just want to get to Himeji to see the castle, and it’s only 20 minutes away from Kobe by bullet train. I’m getting really excited for Japan, as well as everywhere else. There was a meeting tonight for the Tiger Temple tour that I am planning on in Thailand. It’s going to be pretty cool, I think. We’re going to get to ride elephants, go to the Tiger Temple (which you should look up on the internet), and stay in a floating hotel.

The other night Sarah, Lindsay, and I decided to get a game from the student life desk, and we were intrigued by the title “Can You Beat Ken?” so it’s what we got. When we actually had it in our hands, we were surprised to find that it was actually not anything remotely interesting. It was trying to answer a bunch of difficult trivia questions that Ken Jennings couldn’t answer, but we had to play it because the student life desk worker had to go to the office (which is across the ship) to get it for us.

I went on a bridge tour today with Nicole and a few other girls from my sea, as well as Laura and Ashley, who are in my Bible Study group. I was very disappointed that Captain Jeremy wasn’t there. I am going to have to keep going on them until he actually is there.

Sept. 10, 2007 A6 (Sunday? Monday? It’s definitely one of those).
“Hi, I’m Dmitri. I’m from Hawaii.”
En route to Japan

We didn’t have Global Studies today so that we could study for the exam tomorrow. I’ve finally gotten through all the readings and read through my lecture notes. I feel like I am as prepared as I can be, so hopefully all goes well. I got my oceanography quiz back today, and I was surprised with the result. I actually did ok. It wasn’t great (I got a B…I‘m too much of a perfectionist sometimes), but it wasn’t nearly as horrible as I was expecting.

The cultural preport is tonight for Japan. I’m getting really excited about Japan. I’m traveling with Marissa. We’re going to Tokyo as soon as we get off the ship in Yokohama and can navigate our way to the train station. From there the plans take us to Kyoto, Hiroshima, Himeji, and finally Kobe, to meet the ship. Then it will be 2 days until China!

Classes are a bit dull for the most part, but I do love Natural History. There’s a good chance that it is going to be the best class I have ever taken.

There was a fabulous marble cheesecake for dessert tonight. The rest of dinner wasn’t so bad either. Edgar, who is a waiter and possibly my favorite person in the world, brought me two pieces of cheesecake and tried to give me a third.

Sept. 11, 2007 B6 (Tuesday? Regardless, the day before Japan)
“The Executive Dean will discuss what we learned in Honolulu.”
Pacific Ocean, en route to Japan (which is tomorrow!)

The cultural preport last night was pretty interesting. The interport students did a presentation and a few of the professors talked about their experiences in Japan. We finally hit the rough waters we were promised after Hawaii. A lot of people got sick, but fortunately, I wasn’t one of them. After the preport, I hung out with a few girls from my sea for a while before heading to bed.

I got up early this morning for breakfast. It was pancake day, so I helped myself to several and topped it off with cream of wheat, which I never really liked before, but has now become an indispensable part of my diet. Everyone was up early cramming for the Global exam, but I wasn’t really too worried about it. Two professors had a bet going for what the highest grade on the exam was going to be. One thought it would be a 41/50 and the other thought it would be a 44/50. I figured with only an hour to go before the test that there really wasn’t much that I could do to help myself out, so I took advantage of the lack of people on the internet. The exam itself didn’t seem too bad. It was about the same difficulty of a BIO 121 exam at ONU, which everyone always complained about, but I never really thought was that bad. I could have done better I think, but all in all, I could have done a lot worse.

Natural History was ok, and then I went to lunch with Nicole. They had this fabulous potato thing which I think I only liked because I love potatoes so much. I’m not so sure that everyone else on the ship was as keen on it as I was, but I loooooooooved it. During lunch, the noon announcements came on and they asked for a moment of silence in memory of the Sept. 11 attacks. This seemed like such a reasonable thing to me, but it was like no one else cared. Everyone just carried on talking and laughing like it wasn’t any big deal. It was disappointing that my peers, these people who are journeying around the world care so little for something that has had such a pronounced impact on our society.

I headed back to my room for a nap, which I didn’t get because my roommate and her friends were watching a movie in here. I did get a little bit of studying done. I am officially ahead in Natural History and Global Studies, right on track in Oceanography, and behind in World Art.

My Bible study group met for dinner tonight. It was a blast. We stayed until long after the dining room had closed, just talking and laughing. One of the girls in my group is going on the Beijing/Xian trip with me. I was glad to finally meet someone else going on it. I’m getting super excited for it, by the way. We talked a little about some of the social difficulties we were encountering, and it was nice to know that I was not alone.

I went to the logistical preport tonight with some girls from my sea. It was not nearly as much fun as the cultural preport was, but I guess that is to be expected. The Executive Dean talked about things that happened in Honolulu. People tried desperately (and some succeeded) to bring alcohol on the ship, which is against the rules. If they got caught (which a lot did), they got 24 hours of dock time. He talked about how inconsiderate of each other everyone was when they were getting back on the ship in Honolulu and how disappointing these things were. They really are, even to me. He lectured about everyone turning their independent travel forms in late (I got mine in on time), and how we needed to be respectful of these requirements because many of them are in place because of 9/11, which happens to be today, and we, as Americans, were so deeply affected. The doctor told us not to eat fugu. I wasn’t planning on it anyway. Fugu is blowfish, which if prepared incorrectly will kill you.

I’ve been watching a lot of the movies that are a part of the film series. Some of them have been surprising choices (Mulan) and some have been very, very good (The Last Emperor). Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is on now. It’s weird because it is dubbed rather than subtitled.

Sept. 12, 2007 (Wednesday)
“It would be better if we could see it.”
Yokohama and Tokyo, Japan

I got up at 5:00 am to see the sunrise as we pulled into Yokohama harbor. I don’t have a window in my room so I was very surprised when I got to the fifth deck and it was pouring down the rain. I ran into Laura and Ashley and we went to the faculty/staff lounge to get a better view of what can only be described as a downpour as we came into the harbor. The rain finally died down and we got some good pictures. We headed for breakfast. I ate a massive one as usual. Lindsay joined us.

When the ship was cleared at about 1:30 I sprinted up to get my passport, and the group of us left (Marissa, Kelly, Lindsay, Laura, and me) for the train station. When we got to the station, we thought that we were in Yokohama train station. This seemed logical because we were in Yokohama. Yokohama station was the one that Marissa and I needed to exchange our rail pass orders for an actual rail pass. There was a great deal of confusion, but somehow between the language barrier, someone was actually able to communicate to us what we needed to do to get to the actual Yokohama station, rather than just a station in Yokohama. We got our tickets, made it to the station, and then were utterly overwhelmed with the layout of the station. Those who weren’t getting a rail pass stayed behind while Marissa and I wondered off to the Travel Service Center. We couldn’t quite find it, and I guess we looked very confused, because a Japanese man came up and asked us if he could help us. He confirmed that we were at the right gate, but didn’t know where we actually needed to go. We eventually found the right place; it was swarming with SASers. We exchanged our passes and headed to Tokyo.

When we got to Tokyo, we went into the travel service center there and managed to get maps. Then we wondered into a post office, where I got a few stamps (so 3 people can expect postcards). I was a little short on yen at the time because I hadn’t found a good exchange yet, so I only got 3 stamps. Two postcards are going to people I know (or at least think) really read this, and one is going to the person who requested a postcard from every country. Hopefully they make it to you. We decided to just wonder around, with no place in particular to go. We went off in the direction of the Imperial Palace which we found after walking through a very pretty park. There was already a group of SASers there, talking to an older man. The group of us took pictures from outside of the gate, because we weren’t allowed in. When the other group of girls left, we decided to talk to the man the group of girls was talking to, but before we quite got there another group of SASers (all guys) stomped up to him and very impolitely asked where to get sushi. We were pretty hungry at this point, so we listened in. The group of guys left, but we stayed and talked to the man (Nishikawa-san). He learned English by listening to the radio. Nishikawa-san said that he had taken lessons in English, but the classes were really a joke because the guys just went to the class to meet women. He also told us that he was very happy to talk with us because the young people in Japan didn’t really want to have conversations with him because they had to pay so much in taxes to care for sick people, like him. He had (or has) pancreatic cancer. His English was amazing. We complimented him several times and he kept repeating “This is my best day. Thank you for talking to me.” He took a picture with me and then looked at the picture on my camera. He told me that he did not look sick in the picture because it was impossible to look bad next to such a beautiful woman. Talking with him was one of the best parts of Japan. By the time we were done talking to him, it was sunset, so we took more pictures of sunset at the Imperial Palace, which was gorgeous.

We went off in search of food, and accidentally ended up at the sushi bar Nishikawa-san had described to us. I ate some sushi, had this weird egg thing (I think it was egg, anyway), and tried some sake. Laura made a big deal about not eating anything uncooked, and ended up getting this noodle dish with an egg on it. There was something she didn’t like about it, and wouldn’t eat it, so I did. It was AMAZING. When I ordered sake, I had assumed that I was only going to be getting a little glass of it, but instead I got a big vial of it. I shared it with everyone, because I knew that one glass would be plenty for me. When we left, we found a sweet shop, and we all got our first taste of amazing Japanese sweets. We also stopped at a bookstore, where I got a few postcards. At this point, Laura, Lindsey, and Kelly decided to head back to Yokohama, so we accompanied them to Tokyo Station. Marissa and I got a taxi and started the journey to our hostel. Our taxi driver didn’t really understand where he was taking us, but started off anyway. He got lost, and asked for directions several times. The last time he stopped he asked a woman who got in the taxi and reprogrammed the GPS for him, and this finally got us to the hostel.

We checked in, and got our room. The other person who was supposed to be staying in the room never showed up, so Marissa and I had the room to ourselves. The room was basically just futon mats, which was pretty cool. You could hear everything in the other rooms though, including the coughing attack the girl had in the next room and her snoring when she got back to sleep.

September 13, 2007
“************** is a liar, liar pants on fire.”
Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan

When Marissa and I got up we got a map for the subway from our hostel and headed back to Tokyo Station, because I knew there was an international ATM in the post office there. What I didn’t account for is that Tokyo Station is HUGE and the gate we ended up at was nowhere near the post office, so we headed in search of currency conversion. Marissa and I got turned around a lot, and ended up backtracking several times through a stretch of the station where they were giving out free chocolate cookies. We each got several. We ended up in an international depot, which really had nothing to do with any sort of currency conversion. There was a convenience store there where we got breakfast. I ended up with an amazing pastry which had “mystery cream” in it, along with creams that I knew where vanilla and chocolate. I also got some juice, which I have to say is much better than American juice. Instead of drinking sugar in ‘juice’ form, it was like I was actually drinking an apple. It was soooo good. I was still in need of yen, so we continued to wonder around. We finally stopped in a Four Seasons hotel where we were directed to an underground mall that had a little place for currency conversion. I converted what little American money I had on me, but still hoped to find an international ATM later. We decided to go ahead and take our breakfast on the train to Kyoto. We just showed up at the ticket office, said ‘Kyoto’ and had bullet train tickets in our hands, with a departure time in the next 15 minutes. We boarded the Shinkansen, for the first of many times, and just relaxed on our way to Kyoto. The trip took about 2 hours.

When we got to Kyoto we went to the Travel Service Center because they had been serving us so well, but there was a giant sign plastered that said they didn’t give maps, to go to a different spot in the station. A very cute British guy had the same thought we did, and was turned away just the same as us. He walked with us to the Visitors Center, and I think that if I was any good at the whole flirting thing Marissa and I might have had a travel companion for the rest of the day. I didn’t really care though, because we were in a hurry to get to a few temples before they closed. We got our maps, found the bus we wanted, and headed to Kinkakuji Temple (the Golden Pavilion). The temple was beautiful, although we were not allowed in it. The grounds were equally as breathtaking. Marissa and I wondered around them for about an hour. I mastered the use of a squatter, and was very glad that I brought travel TP with me, because I didn’t have the 100 yen on me to purchase TP there. On the way out we were given some tea that we think had flecks of gold in it. It was really salty, but it was really good. We knew that Ryoan-ji was supposed to be nearby. My Lonely Planet said that it was about a 15 minute walk, so we headed off in that direction. The walk was a bit more than the book said it was going to be, but it was definitely worth it. This temple was a rock garden set in beautiful grounds. It was so gorgeous. When we left we were asked for directions by 2 separate French people. It was kind of weird, but also kind of cool to be in Japan and be asked in English by French people how to get to the Golden Temple and the Rock Garden. From here we decided to find our ryokan and check in. I think we both felt like changing clothes because we were so sweaty. Japan was very hot, and made me sweat more than I knew I was capable of.

It took a great deal of time to find our ryokan, but thanks to Marissa’s navigational abilities, we made it. We checked in, and got to our room and rested for a little while, then decided to find dinner. We navigated our way to the Gion district, but all the navigating ate up a lot of time, and by the time we had actually gotten to the Gion district, most things were closing. I didn’t really care where we ate, so long as I got food, because we hadn’t eaten since very early that morning. Most places we were passing were not Japanese, but rather Italian, Indian, etc. I didn’t care at all if we had pizza or rice or cod. I was just hungry, but Marissa insisted on finding Japanese, which you would have thought should have been easy, seeing as how we were in Japan, but it was not. We finally found a restaurant, but we literally could not find the door to get in. We looked and circled around several times but there was no entrance to be found. We continued in the quest for food, and found a Chinese place, which worked well enough for Marissa. I had a chicken dish which was fantastic. On the way back to the ryokan we stopped at a sweet shop, and I got a cupcake, which turned out to be filled with the same mystery cream that my breakfast pastry was filled with. When we got back to the ryokan, I needed a shower in a major way. There were two showers, one of which was just a shower. The other one was a shower/public bath. The plain shower was occupied, so I ended up in the shower/public bath, which actually wasn’t really a public bath at all. I guess it could have been, but it didn’t seem like anyone used it that way. I got my shower and got to bed on my futon mat.

September 14, 2007
“Peace, Love, Hiroshima.”
Hiroshima and Kyoto, Japan

Marissa and I caught a bus to Kyoto Station so that we could get Shinkansen tickets to Hiroshima, stopping first at a convenience store to pick up breakfast for the train ride. When we got to the station, I found out that there was an international ATM in Kyoto Tower Hotel, which was just across the street, so we stopped there, but it didn’t open until 10 am, so I made a note to stop there when we got back from Hiroshima. We got our tickets, but the train didn’t leave for an hour, so we decided to explore an underground mall while we waited. The mall had this amazing bread shop in it, where I got a few things that intrigued me. I got what I believe might be my new favorite thing in the world: a pastry with apples baked into it and custard in spots. It is so delicious. I also got a few other things, and managed to discover what the mystery cream is. It is a take on cream cheese, but a bit different. It showed up in a muffin that I knew what the muffin translated to in English, so it was definitely along the lines of cream cheese.

I had been going back on forth on going to Hiroshima after my experience at Pearl Harbor. I was still not convinced that it was ok for me to be there. When we finally got there, we got a map at a Budget Rent A Car, which was an experience in itself. They spoke no English and hide to mime that we needed a map. It was a little funny. We decided to get a taxi. I used my Lonely Planet and pointed to the Japanese characters for where we wanted to go (the A-Bomb Dome), and the taxi driver laughed, not at the fact that I had to point to something I couldn’t really read in a book to get to where I wanted, but because of where I wanted to go. It was a very strange feeling. He took us right to the A-Bomb Dome. The bomb was dropped over the dome, but somehow managed to survive, though in ruins. There were signs to read about the history of the dome, and one of them really got to me, though I am not sure why. The last sentence read “The ruins shall remain preserved forever.” It was the first of many things at this site that was unsettling and moving all at the same time. I continued to walk until I got to a Children’s Memorial, where I learned much more about who was directly killed by the A-Bomb. Children had been put into a workforce for the war, and many were working in the area where the bomb was dropped when it happened. I walked around the monument and listened to the recording that was provided about it. The monument was covered in paper cranes, and as I listened to the recording and looked at the cranes, a Japanese man came up to me and asked me if I was ok. I told him that I was, but he said, “No, no. You are crying. You are not ok.” It was not until that very moment that I had realized tears were running down my cheeks. I told him that it was just very heartbreaking to me. I continued to cry as I crossed the bridge to the Peace Memorial Park, where I was asked to sign a petition against nuclear weapons. With tears still falling, and my mind still trying to grasp the things I was seeing, I had no problem signing it immediately. The park was filled with more memorials, lots of paper cranes, and much to think about.

I traveled from the park to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Hall, which gave information on the bombing, and there was a room for reflection and prayer for the victims. There was also an exhibit featuring the names and faces of those who died, so many of them children. We went to the cenotaph and the Peace Museum. The museum was very graphic; someone else that went later said, “They weren’t shy about it [displaying the horrors of the bombing].” He was right. Pieces of it were very hard to stomach, such as the tricycle that belonged to a three year old boy who was killed. His father thought he was too young to be buried alone, and so buried him with the tricycle. Later, his body was moved and the tricycle was donated to the museum.

I have finally decided whether it was ok for me to go to Hiroshima, and it took me going to reach this decision. It was not ok for me to be there, not as a visitor to the A-Bomb dome, not as a visitor to the Peace Memorial Park. It was not ok that anyone was a visitor to the A-Bomb Dome. It was not ok that this place was even existed, that this horrible event had taken place. It is not ok that so many people died, and are still dying from this terrible tragedy. But I went, and it is so very important that I did. Hiroshima won my heart, my voice.

When we left the museum, we went to the International Exchange Lounge and got maps for Hiroshima. We decided to go to Shukkein Garden, and got a taxi there. We used the Lonely Planet guide to point to what we wanted, and were taken right there. The garden was huge and it was stunning. The water was filled with fish and turtles and the path just meandered through the garden. I could have stayed for hours, but Marissa and I needed to get back to Kyoto. We caught our train, and ended up in a car that was for women only during rush hour. I had gotten some Kit Kat sticks in a vending machine. The vending machine also had beer and wine, but I was alright with just the candy, which I ate on the way to Kyoto. Kit Kats are better in Japan too. They have a bit of a different texture and flavoring. I am a fan of both. We had to switch trains in Osaka, and we got a little lost in the train station. After arriving in Kyoto, we decided to stop in Kyoto Tower so I could get to the ATM. I finally got some money and did some shopping. I bought a gorgeous tea set, though I talked myself out of the one I really wanted because it was about $100, therefore very out of my price range. We went back to the underground mall we were in earlier that morning to find dinner. I accidentally ordered eel and noodles in ice water. I made the best of it though. Afterwards, I found another sweet shop and got something to take back to the ryokan with me.


Sept. 15, 2007
“It’s a tough decision; don‘t make the wrong one.”
Kyoto to Kobe, Japan

We got up at about 7:00 and checked out of the ryokan. We made our usual stop at a convenience store for breakfast, and then caught the bus to Ginkaku-ji temple (the Silver Pavilion). A Chinese man actually joined us on the way; he spoke really good English. We found the site together, between the three of us. The temple and grounds were absolutely breathtaking. The temple was supposed to be covered with silver leaf, but it never actually happened. It is still called the Silver Pavilion though. The ground wrapped around, and it was so soothing to just meander through the beauty of the place.

When we left, Marissa wanted to find a grocery store, and I wanted to find a 100 yen store. We had gotten a map from the ryokan that said there was a grocery store with a 100 yen store located right above it in downtown Kyoto, which was too good to be true, literally. We took the bus to where they were supposed to be located, but they weren’t there. In fact, nothing that was written on the map was in the right place. We took it into a Starbucks and a nice lady tried to help us, but she couldn’t make sense of the map, because nothing was drawn anywhere near where it was. We decided to give up and just head to Kobe, stopping first in the underground mall at Kyoto Station. I got another custardy apple pastry and cream cheeseish muffin. We also stopped at a place called 36 sticks, which was located right across from the bread place. It was kind of like the Baskin Robbins of cake. I got something that was kind of like an éclair in cake form, which was amazing. Amazing tended to be the trend with Japanese sweets.

We got on the train to Kobe and ate our breakfast there. When we got to Shin-Kobe station, it was still relatively early, so we wanted to make the most of our time, but drop off our stuff at the ship first. We got a taxi, but we were taken to the wrong place. We didn’t realize it until we asked for directions to the ship. We were told it was about a 15 minute walk away. We started walking and finally got to the point that we could see the ship, but we couldn’t get there by walking. After about 2 hours of walking and not finding the monorail station, we got some help in finding the station. At this point, we had been walking around for 2 hours and I was soaked in sweat, and I do mean soaked. My back hurt from carrying around 40 pounds on it. I was not in a good mood. When we finally got back to the ship, and I had an open bottle of water with me while I was going through security. She took it and said, “Empty,” as in a command, but I had heard, “Not empty,” as in a declaration. I just shrugged, indicating that she could just throw it away in the trash can behind her. This was the wrong thing to do. The other security guy threw it away, and to him it was no big deal, just a miscommunication, but to her it seemed like the final straw of a horrible day that just made her go off. She yelled at me for not doing it, then searched my things. I had bought a few things in Kyoto, and they wrapped them up for me very nicely. In fact, one of them was a present and I just planned on leaving it sealed up that way. She unwrapped everything: the tea set, the kimono, the handkerchief, and everything else, all in search of hidden alcohol that I didn’t have. She went through my Ziploc bag of dirty clothes. She took the food I was carrying on me (sealed granola bars) and threw them away, and then gave me my things back, in a giant jumble, but made me leave before I could put any of them back in my bag. Then Marissa, who was behind me, merely had her backpack opened, but nothing was searched, none of her wrapped packages, none of her food, not a single thing.

We decided to rest a little bit before heading back out into Kobe, but when we did leave, we decided to go to Sake brewery for a tour. It took us a little while to find it. Somehow we accidentally stumbled into a woman’s home before finding the brewery, but she was very, very nice about it, and got us to the right place. We thought we were going to be able to get a tour, but we just got to see a video about how sake was made. It was very informative, and it was pretty cool to see. After the video we got to try 3 different kinds of sake, all of them cold. The first one was kind of fruity; it was really good. The other two were a bit stronger, and not something I was a big fan of, but they were good to try just the once. We walked back to the train station, and decided to go to the Harbor area to see the Earthquake Memorial park. We stopped in the station near the harbor to get dinner. Dinner took much longer than expected, and at this point, it was dark, and I didn’t feel like going back to the harbor area while it was dark, so we came back to the ship, stopping at a convenience store on the way, so I could get some juice to bring back with me.

Sept. 16, 2007
“Whole set 1000 yen. Whole set.”
Himeji and Kobe, Japan

Marissa and I headed out early to get to Himeji to see the castle and gardens there. Of course, we did get breakfast at a convenience store on the way there. Once we got to Himeji station, getting to the castle was really easy. It was a straight walk there. The castle was amazing. We got to go through the whole thing and climb all the way to the top. The stairs were really steep, so it was a bit of a workout, but it was completely worth it. We went to the garden that was next to the grounds, and it, like all the other gardens I went to, was just gorgeous. It was actually part of reconstructed samurai quarters originally adjacent to Himeji Castle, so it was pretty neat to see. We stopped at a couple of souvenir shops on the way back to the station, and I found some pretty cool things that I probably don’t need, but bought just the same. Plus, I was having such a hard time finding a place to convert currency, that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to convert my yen, and I didn’t want to come back to the ship with 4500 unspent yen. I stopped at a little antique shop and found a plate that I loved. It was only 1000 yen, which is a bargain in Japan for most any souvenir, so I just picked up a plate off the stack. The man didn’t speak English, but was trying to tell me that I was doing something wrong. It took a long time to communicate to me, but he was telling me that it was the whole stack for 1000 yen, not just one plate. It was the best deal I had found in all of Japan, so I got the set of plates and also a vase which was equally cheap, and is totally gorgeous.

We caught a train back to Kobe and got on the bus to go to this shopping center that Marissa wanted to go to, but we got on one going the wrong direction, so we had to travel nearly the whole loop. The operator thought we were very confused tourists, even though we knew exactly where we were going. We took the bus to the train station, got dinner, and then stocked up on several things at a convenience store before coming back to the ship. I had a lot more stuff with me than I did the day before, but it was hardly searched at all. In fact, none of the wrapped things were opened. The only thing he checked was a box of cakes that I had bought at the train station.

On a sad note, I got my global studies test results back when I got back to the ship. It wasn’t horrible, but certainly not what I expected. I may end up arguing for a couple of points. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I am going to at least make my case.

On another note: the Internet is SLOW and expensive, so I don’t check my e-mail often, but when I do, it’s nice to have something there to read, which means that you should e-mail me. My replies are often short, but my internet time is limited. And if I send you an SAS e-mail postcard, DON’T send me one back. Just send a regular e-mail. They are free for me to send, but they are not free for me to receive, and they eat up many more internet minutes than just a regular e-mail.

I know you guys all want me to post pictures. Again note: the Internet is SLOW and expensive. At its best, it is slower than the slowest dial up. Uploading a picture takes about 20 minutes sometimes. I can’t really afford to do that. I am taking lots of pictures, and I will be more than happy to show them to you when I get home. I am carrying a couple with me on my flash drive when I am in port just in case I stumble upon an internet café, but if you just wait until December, I will have tons of pictures for you. I took 1,000 in Japan.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Upcoming news

I got a nagging e-mail from mom telling me that I needed to update this. I don't currently have time to post a full update, but here is what you can expect after Japan:
"This isn't hurting you, is it?": the tale of the world's most painful haircut
"They want a target, not to die.": the quest for Capt. Jeremy on the bridge
"Wait, what happened to everyone?": we finally hit the rough water we were promised after Hawaii.
"Global Studies Exam": I feel this is self explanatory.
None of it is thoroughly exciting which is why I haven't really updated.

You can also hear about my fun filled time in Japan which starts in 12 hours!

Leave me comments, because let's face it, I like them.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Again, this is edited out of my own journal. Sorry if it seems a little choppy.

August 31, 2007 (Friday) A2
“I know the answer to everything.”
Pacific Ocean
Theme Song: “Perfect Day” by Hoku

Classes yesterday were interesting. I think I am really going to love Natural History. The professor is so interesting. Being a former science major, a lot of what we are covering right now is review, but she’s so entertaining and engaging that she never loses my attention. It was primary a syllabus day in Art History, but I still think it is going to be very interesting.

Today was the first day of add/drop. I don’t really know what time the registrar opened at this morning, but I couldn’t sleep, so at 6:30 am I went to get in line. I mistakenly believed that the line would be relatively short at this point in the morning. People had pillows and had been there since 4. The line went from the registrar into the student union and wrapped around it. I decided to wait and come back later. They gave everyone a number so they could do things other than wait in line, but I went to breakfast with Lindsay instead of getting a number. When I got back at 7:45, I got number 206. I did some reading in the library and then went to Global Studies. The registrar shut down for Global, but there was hardly even a dent in the line by that time.

I knew I wasn’t close to being called, so after Global, I went to the library and did a little bit of planning for Japan. I came back to my time with the intent to do a little homework, but when you’re traveling on a ship, it can prove a little difficult to actually get any work done. After wasting some time, I went to Oceanography. It was a little dull today, but I don’t think it normally will be. I think it was just the content being covered today. At this point, the registrar hadn’t quite made it into triple digits yet, so I went back to my room. I did actually manage to get a little bit of work done this time, and was even so constructive as to go see Doc Nancy during her office hours.

Doc Nancy holds office hours in the piano lounge, and I talked a bit about the topic I want to use for my presentation, just to see if it was feasible. I had the intent to continue studying, but I ended up meeting new people instead. I think I’ve found a couple of people to travel in Japan with. Our ideas matched up pretty well, and one of the girls instantly got my sense of humor and sarcasm (which isn’t all that common for people to understand instantly). Instead of homework, I talked for hours. I eventually ate dinner, again with some new people. By this time the registrar had closed, and number 170 was being seen tomorrow morning.

I haven’t quite gotten used to eating on the ship. As soon as I am finished eating, my plate is cleared for me; my drinks are refilled for me. It’s so strange, because right now this ship is my home, and all of the people who work in the dining rooms call it home too. It is just so odd to be completely taken care of. When I get back to my room, my bed is made. My pajamas are folded if I didn’t put them away. This morning, I turned my alarm off, but I hit it again with something, and I think I turned it back on, so to keep it from going off while my roommate was sleeping, I just pulled a battery out of it. When I got back today, the battery was back in it, and the time was set.

Our first cultural pre-port was tonight for Hawaii. Three students who were from Hawaii and one who was born in Hawaii talked a little bit about Hawaii and answered questions. One of them did a Hawaiian dance, which was pretty cool. Then a professor gave a very interesting talk about the similarities between Pearl Harbor and 9/11. I came back to my room after that feeling pretty tired (as I still haven’t been able to adjust to the changing time, and we gain another hour tonight). No less than 4 minutes after I arrived, there was a knock at my door. When I answered it was a professor’s wife asking for me. She wanted to tell me that I was matched up to be part of her extended family. She gave me a little note letting me know when she and her husband want to have our first ‘family’ meal. It’s going to be the day after Hawaii.


September 2, 2007 (Sunday, I know because my computer tells me)
“We all bleed red…we should all live together in peace.”
Honolulu, Hawaii


I got up this morning at 5:00 am to get ready for my first day in port. Since I was one of the first two trips leaving the ship today, I knew that I was going to be going through immigration first. I wanted to watch the sunrise as we pulled into the harbor, so I was outside at 5:30. I called my parents too, since I had cell phone service (but it was a reasonable hour to them). When the dining hall opened at 6:30, I rushed in for breakfast because I was starving. As has become my usual fashion, I piled on the food: scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, pancakes, yogurt, and orange juice. No sooner than 5 minutes after I get through the line and sit down, the Voice announced that immigration had arrived early and that it was time for people on the trips to Pearl Harbor to get cleared. I shoveled down my breakfast as fast as humanly possible, and headed to deck 7 where I got my passport and went through immigration. The whole process took less than five minutes (maybe because I was in the first group).

Lindsay and I both came back to my room to wait for the rest of the ship to be cleared, because no one could leave until everyone had gone through immigration. It took about 2 hours to get everyone through, but I actually think it went fast. Lindsay and I were among the first people to get to leave, since we were on an early trip. We boarded our bus for Pearl Harbor, and I sat next to a girl from Japan. On the way we were talking about what I should do while I am there. She told me I should go to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima.

When we arrived at the Arizona Memorial, we had to wait about an hour and a half to actually board our boat out to the memorial in the water. I walked through the museum, and while I was there, I noticed a Japanese man taking a photo next to the picture of the person who planned the attack. I felt a little strange about it. It was a feeling that I will never forget, yet it is impossible to put into words. The memorial was filled with Japanese people; I know it’s a piece of their history, but it is a piece of their history in a very different way than it is to Americans. The feelings I experienced were not experienced by me alone. I know that a few others felt the same way about it. This brought about a thought about Hiroshima. The girl on the bus told me to go. She’s from Hiroshima, and said that I shouldn’t miss it. But it really made me wonder how Japanese people feel when Americans show up to their memorial and take pictures of the only building that was left standing after we dropped an atomic bomb there. Is it really ok for me to visit Hiroshima? How can someone be so encouraging about having Americans go to a memorial for those killed by Americans? I realize it is a piece of American history, but like Pearl Harbor, the significance is different to me than it would be to someone from Japan. How would I feel if 50 years from now I’m sitting at Ground Zero in New York, and the children of Al Qaeda are taking photographs of a memorial there? Would I feel that it was acceptable for them to be there? I don’t know. How is possible to know the answer to that question? At the same time, how is it possible for me to ignore how I felt today when I saw the smiling Japanese men having their pictures taken next to the portrait of the attack planner? I didn’t expect to get this particular emotion, and I’m not sure that there is a way to explain it; I’m not even entirely sure what it is.

We went into the theater and watched the video about the attack on Pearl Harbor and the events leading up to it. It was very moving. The park ranger reminded us before the film that around 1,000 men were entombed in the USS Arizona and to be respectful of that, to stay quiet and reflect while you were actually at the memorial above the Arizona. When got to the memorial, two guys from the ship were talking about getting wasted when they were the only people in the bar and just how cool it was, and a couple of girls were talking about what they were going to be wearing to the beach. It made me very angry. Of all the things to think about while you’re standing above the tombs of 1,000 men that died young, in a surprise attack against the U.S., all you’ve got is bathing suit styles and liquor? You can’t think of anything better than that? Why bother even going when all you can think about are inane things at a place where there is something much more substantial to contemplate? It still makes me angry to think about. It was one of the most blatantly disrespectful things I had ever seen.

After my group left the memorial, we boarded a bus to take us on a tour of Honolulu. We went past Iolani Palace, the State Capitol, and Punchbowl National Cemetery. When we arrived back at the ship, Lindsay and I boarded a free shuttle to Wal-Mart. I picked up a few things I needed, and I got some snacks since the only meal I really eat on the ship is breakfast. We brought our things from Wal-Mart back to the ship and then went in search of lunch. I got distracted and did a little bit of shopping on the way. I bought a gorgeous Hawaiian dress. It is absolutely beautiful. We found a place for burgers and fries, which I have been craving for a while. It seemed silly to be in Hawaii and just want a cheeseburger, but it’s what I wanted, so it’s what I ate. Then Lindsay and I decided that it would be a good idea to change into our new dresses, so we did. Then we walked around downtown Honolulu. We ran into my oceanography professor, who gave me some information about some of the plants and things around where we were, which was pretty neat. His wife pointed out a great place to see fish in the harbor, so we took her advice for that too.

Lindsay and I walked back toward the ship to look for smoothies before we boarded. In the end, she got one, but I just had a diet coke, which to tell you the truth, is really what I wanted. We went back through security at the dock. One of the workers asked me how my day was, to which I replied, “It was amazing. How can you have a bad day in Hawaii?” We joked around a little bit, and then he x-rayed my bag. He opened it and pulled out my hairbrush and told me that I couldn’t take it back on the ship. I started freaking out because it was the only one I brought with me, and where in the world am I going to get another hairbrush in the middle of the Pacific? After a few minutes, he gave it back to me and said, “Ha, ha. It was just a joke. Have a great evening. Aloha.”

That was my day in Hawaii. We are heading out into the Pacific again soon, and the water is supposed to be ten times rougher than it was when we left Mexico. I have to admit that I am not looking forward to it. I guess I should also note that I was seen for add/drop after roughly 24 hours of waiting for my number to be called. Of course, there was an overnight break, and I ended up getting the class that I wanted, so no worries.

~*Life, or its eternal evidence, is everywhere.*~
Ansel Adams

You miss out on a lot of news on the ship. My little sister is now a licensed driver and repeat captain of the volleyball team, and I had no idea.

September 3, 2007
“What are you, the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce?”
Pacific Ocean

Today seems so uneventful after spending a day in beautiful Hawaii. I went to my new class (Explorers, Missionaries, and Traders) for the first time today, at 8 am. The professor is really interesting, though he only talked for about 15 minutes, because he showed a movie for the rest of the class. I’m not sure what was so important about what he said today though. It was weird. None of it really seemed like it was noteworthy. The movie was interesting. It was about this Chinese explorer who some think circumnavigated the globe long before Magellan’s crew did.

Global Studies was not exciting at all today. I’m not sure there was a point to it. The first speaker was supposed to talk about the similarities of countries in Southeast Asia. The second was talking about the Philippines. The first speaker really didn’t seem to talk all that much about the similarities, though she did name a few. She mostly rambled on about one time when she lived in a village and her ankles were showing. I think it was to make some kind of point, or at least I think it should have, but I must have missed it. I probably did, as I was exhausted because I didn’t sleep well last night and was up early this morning. The second stayed pretty well on the point. I don’t think the presentation was as good as the one he had given previously on the history of the hula, but it wasn’t terrible. I think that there are some professors that can handle teaching in the Global Studies environment and some that can’t. I wish they would stick to just the first group. The actual official professor for Global is very good. I enjoy him every time he teaches, but it seems that is rare. The assistant Global director is also very good, but it seems her teaching is even more infrequent than Dr. Mack’s.

I was worried about how oceanography was going after the last class, but I think that after today I feel much better about it. It was far more interesting today. Pearl Harbor actually counts as an FDP for that class. I’m not sure what to write for the paper that I have to turn in, how exactly I am going to apply oceanography to Pearl Harbor, but I have until the class before Japan to figure it out.

I had my first extended family dinner tonight. My ‘dad’ (he said we can call him that) is hilarious! He and his wife adopted 6 of us, all girls. One of the girls is from Akron.



7 days until Japan!

I send you all my love.