109 Days at Sea

Hawaiiiiiiiii!!

by Alyssa | January 3, 2010

(sorry its so late for me to post this =) enjoy it!!

Aloha!!

Hawaii! What a way to end the voyage! So we arrived in Honolulu today, the 4th, around 0530! At 0545 Dean Rita made an announcement that began with Hawaiian music and then proceeded to tell us that US immigration officers were on board and were shortly going to begin face to face inspections (with our passports) wellll this didn’t begin for at least another hour, maybe longer. It was bologna! Well the ship was finally cleared around 0800 and I was off!! I was going to go visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona and I was going alone, I was going to give myself some ME time! So I was literally like one of the first people off the ship and I was in search of a bus stop! So this is how all the excitement of the buses went: I went to one stop and was told by the bus driver I was at the wrong stop I had to cross the street to one of the other busses. Well I went to the other side of the street and the bus driver over there told me I was at the wrong stop and directed me to another one. Well same thing, this bus driver told me “nope wrong place, you need to go over to here”- so I walked again to the next bus stop and this bus driver said, “nope your at the wrong stop but get on the bus I’ll take you to the right stop!” He wrote down all the busses that would take me to Pearl Harbor and brought me to the correct stop! FINALLY! – so it took me five different bus stops to find the correct one! ughh! Well I waited at the bus stop for like 20minutes or so and then sat on the bus for another 30minutes! Well I arrived at Pearl Harbor around 0915! My time slot to take the navy ship over to the USS Arizona was not till 1030 so I just walked around the area looking at the different monuments and such. it was really nice. I also got to talk to some Pearl Harbor Survivors. They signed some photos and also took some pictures with me. It was really nice to do this. At 1030 I went into the theater to watch a film on Pearl Harbor and then headed out on the navy ship over to the USS Arizona. It was so sad over there. Just to see the sunken ship, to see the stern sticking out of the water, and then seeing all the names of those that have lost their lives. It was horrific and heartbreaking to see. I was at Pearl Harbor for about 3½ hours or so before I headed back towards the ship. I caught a bus (the correct one luckily) and was off towards Aloha Towers (where the pier is) and just walked around there for a bit. It was definitely a nice place to be docked. I walked around the marketplace and went to some shops before meeting up with Maggie, Samantha, and Rachel for a late lunch. We went to Hooters haha. It was good. after lunch we just walked- in attempt to find a movie theater to see NEW MOON! Woo! We ended up going to a store called Hilo Hatties, where we spent like literally three hours. It was a pretty cool store! And we got “laid” as we walked in! … We finally left because we wanted to get baack that way in a few hours for the movies. So on our way home from Hilo Hatties we were walking down the side of the road.. on the island in the middle on grass pretty much… so as I was walking I stepped, but I stepped (not realizing/seeing it) I stepped into a hole, well tripped… this hole was FILLED with mud and water… it was TERRIBLE… my sandal caught on and I literally catapulted the mud all over my backside… it was super amusing but I was not happy! .. well anyways, so we got back to the ship around 1800, I showed quick, and then I met up with everyone I was going with (my roommate Adair, Maggie, Katie, Sam, and Rachel) and we were off to the movies! We went to see Twilight – New Moon! Woo so pumped! I loveddddd it!!! Good movie! – it was so weird that we were going to the movies while in Hawaii! Strange but no worries. We got back to the ship around 2200 or so and we just sort of relaxed the rest of the night before bed. What a fun day!

Day 2 in Hawaii- Honolulu- Today I got up early and just walked around alone for a few hours. I went to a coffee shop just to relax for a little while, and then proceeded to stand at a payphone for a little more then an hour talking to my parents- super exciting! (since I stupidly did not bring my regular phone with me on the trip.) so I got to experience the pay phone haha… around 1230 or so Dzifa walked by me and said she was going to the beach so I decided I’d join with her. I ran back to the ship, changed, and we were off to Waikiki Beach! The public transportation was pretty good here so all we took was a bus there. We laid out on the beach for about 4/-4½ hours. It was just beautiful!! The water was so warm, the sun so hot, and the sand- well I hate sand but hey it was nice too! We rented tubes so we just floated in the beautiful waves. It was so nice. I ended up heading back to the ship around 1645. I crazily did not get back to the ship till around 1745! 15minutes before on ship time it was redic! … Once on the ship I ended up trying to get some work done- we departed Honolulu for Hilo around 1930 so its not like we really had much to do. I went to sleep probably around 1100 or so- I knew my roommate had to be up early for a trip and I figured I wanted to be up early so it was an early night… woo Honolulu was so much fun- it’s a beautiful place… weird that this was our last port.

Day 3 in Hawaii- Hilo- so we arrived in Hilo like around 0500. I got up around 0800 and decided to go out looking around for a bit. I took the shuttle bus over to Hilo Haties, again… and then I went to office max and Walmart.This was ALL there was to do around here, and this was the only places that the shuttle bus from the ship went. At Walmart I got to take a picture with Santa!! I was very excited to be sending out Christmas cards from Hawaii! Haha well anyways I ended up heading back to the ship and then met up with the girls. After meeting up with the girls we decided we were going to attempt to find a beach. After going back to Walmart for another hour we were off to the beach. This beach was only like 15minutes way, but it was not your normal beach. The beach was at like a park sort of setting. It was nice though, it was just all lava rocks, no sand, and the water was FREEZING! It was pretty cool though. It was me Dzifa, Amanda, Erica and Maria… and there were so many people just all around in the water and in the park. There was a little birthday party going on so the kids were all jumping with us. We were all jumping off the lava rocks in the water… it was pretty cool, and there were these HUGE sea turtles swimming all around with us. They were enormous! And they kept just rubbing up against us.. I was a little scared at first haha but it was cool. After the beach I just went to the mall with Erica And Dzifa to grab some dinner. Woo haha, and then we went over to Borders to look at books before heading back to the ship around 2100. I just ended up heading to bed soon after getting back on the ship- there was just like nothing at all to do in Hilo. Ready to leaveee!

Day 4 in Hawaii- Hilo – today I got up around 0830 and just headed over to Borders Books again… I wanted to try to get my photo book for my parents done before we left Hawaii, so I literally spent my WHOLE day between Borders, Walmart, and Jamba Juice. Such an exiting day!! Not! I literally just like sat on the computer allll day!! I did go back to Walmart to pick up my Christmas cards and then went back to Hilo Hatties to do some last minute purchases. It was such a boring day! wow… I got back to the ship around 1600. That was my day! such a blast haha… the rest of the day I just hung around with Adair and went to a meeting for the whole shipboard community- about a surprise change on the itinerary! — due to a bad storm brewing in the Pacific we were going to be sailing back to Honolulu for the next day- leaving in two days but we did not know the time! So pumped!

Surprise Day 5 in Hawaii! – Honolulu. So today I awoke around 0900 and headed right off the ship with Dzifa and Carina. We were heading to Wakiki Beach for the day. It was beautiful out! It took us literally forever to get there because we kept getting side tracked. We finally got to the beach around 1100 or so. We purchased ourselves tubes at the ABC store for cheaper then it was to rent them for 2hours! We sat on the beach with Khamani, Rochelle, Maria, Robyn, Amanda, Brittany, and Tina… it was lots of fun. So the whole day again we just sort of sat and relaxed on the beach, or sat and relaxed on the tubes in the middle of the ocean- ah such amazing… I did attempt to do some studying since we lost our study day and I had exams tomorrow!! Ahhh nervousss! – well anyways.. it was such a relaxing relaxing day! loved it! anddddd I got nice a fantastic tan (and burn) … well that was my last day in Hawaii- A great way to end the voyage.. a beautiful day at the beach! – after the beach Carina, Dzifa, and myself decided we were going to go grab something to eat at a restaurant one last time before we headed back to the ship (on ship time was 2100 tonight! Woo) … We went to this sports bar (sort of like the Ale House! Yum!) and we got some yummy dinner. It was greaaaaat. We were there for a while just relaxing and having fun. We headed back to the ship happily around 2000 and we were ready to go… well ready to study! Ahhhhh…

Welll port number 13 our of 13 Wow! So weird! We were finished- we would not be stopping, getting on and off the ship anymore! Strange but very sad!!! Welll it was off to studying hardcore for the rest of the week!! AHHHHH !!!! 5days left of Semester at Sea Fall 2009!!!

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All good Things Must Come to An End!

by Alyssa | December 14, 2009

Well.. It is December 14th, as we just arrived in San Diego.. I know that I have not written my Hawaii blog due to the fact for the past 5days at sea it has been constant studying, homework, tests, and PACKING!!! I will be getting that Hawaii blog and at sea blog out shortly… But in the mean time … I am HOME! all good things must come to an end, .. 109 days flew by but it is still just the beginning of it all! I’ll be writing about it ALL soon..

10days sailing at sea/celebrating my bday on the Pacific! =)

by Alyssa | December 6, 2009

Sea Day 1- Today started our 10day journey from Japan to Hawaii! Gosh this is going to be a long ten days filled with homework and papers and homework and studying and ugh! – so today I awoke around 1030 as I was to be tutoring the dependent children at 1100. From 1100-1200 I worked with the kids, pretty much did not due to much because they were very antsy and did not want to do any homework. At noon I headed quick to lunch. After lunch I relaxed for a bit and then at 1335, I went to class till 1450. After class my day sort of ended and the work started for the time being. I had within the next week to do: Two essays (6 and 9 pages long) for economics of tourism, one presentation for interpersonal communications along with a test, one final paper for world cinema along with about three movie reflections, and lastly STUDY STUDY STUDY for global studies. – I did work till at least 1900 or so and then went to grab a quick dinner. At 2000 I went to post port on Japan which was pretty good, I enjoyed listening to everyone’s stories. After post port, 2100 I worked for Charis till 2130 when beverage duty was canceled! Woo thank goodness! Afterwards I just went back to the room to start back up on some work for the time being. I headed to bed around 0000 or so, – time change AGAIN, but of course did not fall asleep till at least 0230 ahhh or 0330 for that matter I guess.

Sea Day 2- B19- Happy Turkey Day! today I woke up at 0730. Ugh way to early for me! AGAIN! – I went to breakfast and then world cinema at 0800. We finished up watching some movie, Ran, on China. Pretty unentertaining. At 0930 went to global studies, woo – only four more classes of GS! After global studies I lied down for an hour before I had to go to interpersonal communications at 1215. After class I went to lunch 1345- don’t know why because its terrible always! Whatev. After lunch I could not even keep my eyes open so I ended up lying down for a little bit since I had to work (job work) from 2000-0000 that evening, I figured id get an efficient amount of work down there. So I napped for a little bit and then got up did some work. At 1730 I headed to the dining hall to meet my extended family for what we all thought was going to be a disappointing thanksgiving meal. It turned out amazing- I mean the food wasn’t that great but it was much better then usual. The chef made carved turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc. it was really nice. For desert there was pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream. Sooo yummi! It was a nice little/big thanksgiving meal, but it was nothing like home. I was a little sad that I wasn’t home for thanksgiving, but its okay cause I know my mommy will make me a fabulous meal when I return! =) After dinner I came downstairs for a little and then headed back up to the dining hall for work at 2000. Work now consisted of ‘monitoring’ the dining hall since it was now a quiet studying area after dinner. I had to do that for four hours, ew! But I did get to do some work while there so that was okay- I got a paper done and some studying done! Wooo! – I got into ed around 0100! Bla not fun at all! I got to sleep a little after, finally I fell asleep within a good time after getting in bed! But unfortunately we were due for yet ANOTHER time change! One hour advance! Ugh! – Well Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sea Day 3- A20- Sooo I did not have class till 1335 but I woke up around 0700 to call home to talk and say Happy Thanksgiving to the fam! – when I called everyone was over Auntie Bern’s house so I got to talk to everyone as the phone was passed around. I got like 1minute talks in! haha fabulous! It was nice to talk to everyone though, again, it made me a little sad that I wasn’t there with everyone… But in the long run, I am traveling the world, andddd I will be home with them in less then two weeks! Wow that’s crazy! – so after I spoke with everyone I headed back to sleep (of course) for a little longer, at least until like 1000 when the roomie woke me up… blaa. So I ended up getting up and just studying for the exam that I had to day at 1335 AHHH, it was a lot of information to take in and study for! So I went to lunch and then class – totally not enjoyable, it was a pretty difficult test! After class I went to my room and began to work again on one of my big papers! I wanted to at least get a few out of the way! I started to work on my 6-page paper until dinner at around 1800 or so. After dinner I just sort of did some more work until around 2000 when I went to an explorer seminar. The explorer seminar was from 2000-2100. After the seminar I just proceeded again to do more work. Homework has taken over my life! Ahh – bed came around 0200 or so! Boo

Sea Day 4- B20- (take notice today is November 28th) -I awoke for class at 0730, went to breakfast and then to world cinema. World cinema was boring as usual- we began to watch a movie called “Hawaii,” I know I’ve seen this before I just don’t know when! Ah- after world cinema I headed to global studies, I actually really enjoyed the topic and everything that the Prof was talking about today. After class I lied down for about an hour before heading to class at 1215. Class as pretty simple, it was our actual last real class so we ended up discussing conflict and then watching a movie. It was definitely an interesting movie except I don’t know the name of it. hmm … after class I proceeded to the room to sit there for the next few hours and do my papers. I luckily was almost done with the six page economics paper so then I would just have the nine page left for that class. I decided to finish up some work for world cinema before proceeding to my next economics paper. I pretty much did work till dinner when I went around 1845 or so. After dinner, at 2000, I went to an explorer seminar on SAS Jeopardy! Woo it actually was a lot of fun, I was one of the three contestants so I got to actually play the game- that was enjoyable. Unfortunately not one of us knew any answers to the questions asked haha it was amusing… I got a SAS bumper sticker as a prize! Yay! – The game ended around at 2100. I ended up just heading to the room to do more work (again, school work has taken over my life) — and headed to bed around probably 0230 with the time change AGAIN ugh… well we don’t have class tomorrow so that’s okay!

Sea Day 5- READING DAYYY! – so today again is NOVEMBER 28th… we did not have any classes- today was our 2nd November 28th as we were crossing the international dateline and gaining one day back- so they decided we were getting a day of work off as we did not need to do repeat the day- so it was a nice break in-between being at sea so long. But to day was the day of the annual auction- silent and live. – Well I ended up waking up at like 0700 and just laughed! I was totally not getting out of bed this early! I ended up falling back to sleep until 1400!!!!! Oh it was fabulous! Fabulous to sleep for some of the day! I do miss my normal sleeping habits and actually being able to sleep the hours I want to sleep! So when I woke up I showered quick and then ran up to see what things were going at the silent auction. There was a good variety of things ranging from snacks to things from the countries we have been to all the way up to trips to Bermuda and the Chzec Republic- and let me again just tell you this was the silent auction. They had award winning bunt cakes going for $50, a personal porter to carry your stuff off the ship, seats at the captains table for the ball, autographed things, gosh they had everything. I bid on one thing that had a China bath set and some snacks but unfortunately at the end of the day I didn’t win- its for the better, to much money on nothing! – well after looking at the stuff at the silent auction I headed downstairs to do some MORE homework, I was tempted to get some stuff done. I went to dinner around 1800 and relaxed for a little bit before headed to the life auction at 2000. Now this was a treat to see. WOW! Let me just tell you- in one night just on the live auction- a LOT of money was raised for the annual fund for SAS. I Am going to give you a little summary of how the night went: (s means student, p means staff/life long learner/or anyone else purchased) -It started off with first item:
Steering the ship for 10minutes $1000 P
1 week condo stay in Colorado $630 S
Breakfast in bed – (deans bring breakfast to you) $125 P
Angel’s Tickets $225 S
North Carolina Beach House (2 were sold) $1700each P
Blow Ships horn coming in to San Diego $700 P
Bed-time story with Dr. Dave $175 S
Christmas in Manhattan in a Studio apt. $1200 S
Be an actual character in Farkus’s book $550 S
Blue Ridge Mountain-Charlottesville $325 S
Stage Coast Music Festival $485 S
All Inclusive Minnesota fishing trip $350 P
5course dinner at faculty house in Colorado $750 S
Paris Homestay – 6N/7D $1900 P
Chance to look like the captain $50 S
Weekend stay in Bailey, Colorado $275 S
Kentucky Derby package $725 P
Condo in Northstar- Tahoe, CA 7D/6N $2150 P
Duke bbal package (1 home game, tour of stadium) $900 S
Week in Rustic 1880’s (Southern Colorado) $2200 P
Private Balcony Dinner (on ship) for 2 people $425 S
Puerto Rico Home stay (weekend) $475 S
Backstage tickets to Saturday Night Life $2600 P

CAN YOU JUST SAY WOW???? Freakin unbelievably crazyyyy!!!! That’s a lot of money! – the auction ended around 2330 or so. I ended up heading down to the room and did a little bit of work for about 30minutes or an hour or so and then was off to sleep around 0100 or so. Woo

Sea Day 6- A21 today was back to work. I slept in a little today; well not really 1000 again is not sleeping in! but wutev, so I got up and just did some world cinema homework- it was the extent of my morning haha.. I went to lunch around 1230 before heading to class at 1335. It was a pretty boring class- just some last minute stuff before our LAST CLASS!! After class I did my usual, I came downstairs to do some homework!! (If you couldn’t tell I can’t do work with people around so I end up doing it in my room alone blaa) – Also the total’s of the auction were in: Total raised for silent auction-$12,006 and the total raised for the life auction- $21,515!!!! WOW! That is just crazyilllyy ridiculous! A total of $33,521!! Ugh that’s just crazy! Well anyways… back to my day! – Around 1915 or so I went to dinner, at 2000 I went to an explorer seminar on ‘what to do with your major/degree.’ It was pretty pointless if you ask me- It just seemed to have no help, but wutev, I went to see. After the explorer seminar I headed downstairs quick to grab my bag, and then headed up to the pool deck for beverage duty at 2100. Ugh… at 2115 Tom (security officer) came up to us and said, “your free to go, we are closing, no one is here!” WOO we were pumped! So me and Rachel (one of the CE’s I was on duty with) went down to the union to watch the play that was being put on by a few students –“Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” – it is a version of Charlie Brown when him and his friends are all grown up in high school. It was a play based upon a lesson of derogatory words and such. It was a really good play; I really enjoyed it. After the play I headed back down to the room, preceded to work on some more work! I went to sleep around 0000- well 0100 with another advancement of the clock!!! Almost done with all the clock advances… sort of!

Sea Day 7- B21- my usual morning routine- up at 0730, breakfast, world cinema, global studies! – after GS I lied down for an hour before my class at 1215. At 1215 I headed up to class- we watched some of the first presentations- that is pretty much all we did in class today. After class at 1330 I went to lunch. I literally ate lunch and was done in the room by 1345. Now from 1445 till literally midnight I did not leave the couch in the room. I did SOOO much work! I worked on my six-page paper and FINISHED IT! I worked on my nine-page paper and FINISHED IT! I worked on my presentation for interpersonal comm.. and finished that! I also did some world cinema homework. At 0001 it was my BIRTHDAYY!!! At 0001 I proceeded to open the package/envelope that my house sent me for my birthday- and it has been sitting there waiting for my birthday to come since Japan! Auntie has also been saying Happy Birthday to me for the past probably 36 hours because of the time change and how confusing everything has been! I loved it!! – well anyways so I opened my envelope of cards and oh I loved it. Georgia made cards from everyone and had them sign them which was to cute! And then I got cards from mommy, daddy, nana, auntie! Yep, I cried through ALL of them- literally like sat on the couch filling up a swimming pool… sad! It was really bad how much I cried! Goshhh… I LOVED getting a package with all these cards. I also got the amazing banner in the envelope that mommy sends or hangs up EVERY year! I loved receiving it in the mail! It all was amazinggg.. Well then my roommate came in around 1230, said happy birthday, and I went to sleepies! Well its my birthday!! Woooo

Sea Day 8- A22- ITS MY BIRTHDAYYYYYYYYYYY!!! Yay! I am officially 22! Woooo! So I woke up today around 0930, I didn’t want to sleep allll day since it was a special day! The fabulous day of my birth! So I got up and showered and got ready and all that fun stuff and headed out around 1050 to go help tutor some of the dependent children. I went up there but they really didn’t need any help today, but I ended up sitting outside by the pool with Gabe (7years old) and his mom (Sheri) for a good hour or so watching Gabe make paper cranes and talking to Sheri. It was so sweet. When I woke up and went outside my door this morning, I had a beautiful card from Gabe! It was so sweet! It was a drawing of two people (guessing me and him lol) saying happy birthday! It was so sweet… so they he proceeded to add onto my birthday by making me some paper crane. It was really nice! – so I ended up talking to them for a bit before heading to lunch at like 1215. After lunch I came back to my room and the door had some toilet paper streamers hanging- I proceeded to walk into the room and it was all done up with decorations and streamers and signs! It was amazing… the streamers (toilet paper to be exact) were so colorful and nice. They said Happy Birthday on some, 22 22 22 22 on others, Mickey Mouse and Fireworks on others! It was sooo nice! Adair also cut letters out of an old calendar that said “happy 22nd birthday Alyssa” , a big sign made out of index cards that says “Hope You have an awesome birthday” and oh it was just so nice! Adair also hung up the banner from my mommy that said Happy Birthday! I was so excited! – I loveddd the look of the room! Well at 1335 I headed up to class quick, boo I know! – after class I just chilled, relaxed, and did some homework for a little before proceeding to my wonderful massage that I booked for myself at 1600! The massage was very nice, of course it was very relaxing! After the massage I headed to dinner with – Adair, Carina, Nate, Brittany, Amanda, Amiee, Erica, Robyn, Kham, Rochelle, and Maria! We ate in a classroom (alone which is always nice) to celebrate the big amazing day. After dinner we had a delicious amazing cake that Auntie ordered for me! It was soo yummy! It was chocolate cake with like a strawberry jam between layers, with a vanilla frosting! Yummmii! The cake tasted fresh and pretty moist which is very shocking because normally the cakes aren’t the best! But I definitely lucked out with a gooood cake! The only bad part was that they spelled my name wrong =( but its okay, I was still happy! – It was a fun time though, we were singing Christmas carols and kids songs! It was a good time! – after dinner I had a CE meeting and then I went to a “Celebration of Service” in the union which was a ceremony held for all students (and entire shipboard community) that participated in any type of service visit on the voyage… I participated in Habitat for Humanity and also OSU Children’s Home visit that I can think of off the top of my head… so I decided to go! – after the ceremony I just went back to the room and did proceeded to STUDY now!! STUDY STUDY STUDY was the next big thing on my list, aside from papers. I did some studying until around 0000 or so when I finally went to sleepies! I could have fallen asleep around 2100 but I did not want to waste any minutes of the birthday- even though I was wasting it studying!! Blaaa—Aside from all the on ship celebrations- I got a bunch of emails, which really excited me! I also got a ton of facebook happy birthdays (yes I checked facebook! Crazyinesss!!) I loved getting all my birthday wishes on and off the ship. It was great knowing people didn’t forget about me in the past 3½ months! Haha- well it was a fabulous day!! – ugh and then we had a time change! What a way to ruin/end the evening! hah

Sea Day 9- B22- So my sleeping habits are sooo fudged up. I woke up at 0530 today! 0530! That’s not me, and it keeps happening ugh. So I just lied there until 0730 when I got up and went to breakfast and class. We got out of class about 30minutes early! Wooo! Which was amazing, so I decided to go and lie down until global studies… well that didn’t work so well. Global studies starts at 0935… at 0925 (I didn’t sleep at all I just lied there) but at 0925 I looked at my clock and said “okay, I have about 5minutes till I need to be upstairs.” I was doing good, I didn’t think anything of it… well the next thing I knew it was 12:10 and I had my 1215 class in 5minutes!! I have NO clue how, but I fell asleep in the matter of 3 minutes before Global Studies… and so did my roommate as she had a book over her face reading… It was ridiculously crazy and bizarre! I just liked passed out! woopsies! I missed the last global studies class lol… but I didn’t miss much, it was more just a student panel talking about the class… at least I got to my 1215 class!! After class I bypassed lunch and just decided to go outside, lie on a lounge chair, take in all the amazing fresh air, observe the beautiful deep blue sea, get some sun, and STUDY! I ruined it all by the study part… well I ended up lying out there going over my notes for about three hours! Pretty long time! – I went to dinner around 1730, studied a bit, and then went to the Global Studies review session with Kham and Adair and studied there (listening and watching and taking notes on the review) and then after the global studies review session I proceeded back to the room to study some more!! AHHH!!! Global studies exam is honestly one of the scariest exams I have taken and I am MUCHO nervous about it! – I ended up studying till about 0100 with Lucas as we quizzed one another on questions constantly for about literally 4hours or so! It was crazy how much studying and cramming we did! I finally went to bed around 0115 as I was exhausted!!!! Ew test tomorrow!!

Sea Day 10- B- Big Global Studies Exam!! – I awoke today around 1030 or so and went right to studying! I ended up just going outside and lying out on the back deck just getting the fresh air in as I studied. The big test was at 1430! AHH I was SO nervous! So I pretty much studied right up until the time of! – After the exam I went to my room for a few and then headed up to cultural pre port at 1615-1700 or so as I then headed up to dinner. After dinner I just relaxed for a little and then went to logistical pre port for HAWAII at 2000-2100. After pre port I ended up playing UNO with two of the dependent children until around 2200 and then headed down to the room. I did a little bit of writing and then was in bed by like 2330! And I fell asleep rather quickly! It was fabulous! But we were also getting woken up at 0600 by the announcements announcing that we were BACK in THE UNITED STATES after almost 4months!!!! We would be in Honolulu when we awoke. IN HONOLULU when we awoke! SO EXCITING!!!

Japan… Disney? again? That’s me!!

by Alyssa | November 30, 2009

The last country on the Itinerary – 4 days in Japan and an amazing time → From Disney→ To Tokyo and Tokyo Ice hotel→ To my AMAZING homestay

Japan- Day 1 – Yokohama/Tokyo! So my morning in Japan started out terrible. I was in such a bad mood starting from breakfast on- it was not how I wanted to start my trip. First the people I was planning on going to Tokyo with decided they were possibly staying over and I couldn’t so I was back in the same boat I was in the night before → possibly taking the subway back to the ship alone which is what I did not want to do. So that was my first set off. The second set off was this other girl thinks she is ALWAYS right and she started with her always being right at 0800 in the MORNING!! It was the last thing I wanted to here when I just got out of bed. And my third set off of the morning was when it was finally established that I was still going out with all the girls, they ended up leaving the ship. Argg… okay so the process for leaving the ship was not the same as usual. We had to get cleared by customs and immigration through a one-on-one inspection pretty much→ with fingerprinting and photo taking at the immigration counter and then going through a quick thing with customs. Now this process was a timely and silent process and everyone was getting called by their seas. For some reason my sea is always called last→ but everyone decided they were going to go when there sea was called instead of all trying to go together→ well I left the girls room, ran to my room, and went back 10minutes later and everyone was gone… woo total set off. So yea whatever I went back to my room and then the phone rang and it was my friend Maggie saying – “did you still want to go to Disney today? Because me and Katie are going to go” Well I totally jumped on that! My mood was beginning to get better of course – it was Disney how could it not!- … so I began to walk out of my room where I ran into Lucas. I asked Lucas what he was doing for the day and he was just going into Tokyo alone so I asked him if he wanted to join in on the Disney adventures. He said sure! So that was exciting! So Lucas and me headed out to the port terminal to wait for Maggie and Katie. Out in the terminal was a lot of shops, a money exchange, info desk a dress up in a kimono and take a picture section (free) and a calligraphy section where you could get your name written (free also) so we hung out there for a bit and took some pictures and such. Maggie and Katie came out around noon and we were off! We hopped on a ‘hop on hop off’ bus that took us to the train station for 100 yen or $1 US. We got to the train station and there were so many lines and so many colors and so many trains! Gosh I thought I was going to get lost! But we asked at the tourist info desk, we bought our tickets, and we were off to again, the most magical place on earth. We arrived at the park around 1300. We were debating on which park we wanted to go to – Disneyland or DisneySea. We knew there was no other DisneySea in the world so we were aiming towards that but – DisneySea closes at 1800 and Disneyland at 2200- so we decided on Disneyland. We bought our tickets and we were off to enjoy! It was packed inside! And it was crazy! You walk in and all you see is Christmas decorations – the entry way which is like Main Street was just decked out with red lights and a Christmas tree that you couldn’t even get in a whole picture. It was intense. A Small World sang the song “it’s a small world” once, and Christmas carols the rest of the time, waiting in line for rides you did not here Disney music you heard Christmas carols, every single ride, every single character, every single character on a ride was decked for the holiday season. I heard the whole day in the park THREE traditional, classic Disney songs! Woww But it was pretty cool… totally different then Hong Kong Disney in regards to people and lines and waits. We waited so long for each ride it was redic. But it was still fun… It was pretty intense because the park really was geared to local’s more then foreigners so it was not as English speaking friendly; most of the rides were spoken in Japanese and if there was a guide on the ride he/she spoke in Japanese. It was quite an experience but that made the time… as much as our language was of foreign tongue to them, they tried their best to help and accommodate. Overall, we all had an amazing time. The people were just amazingly amazing. Unfortunately all day my head way pounding- I had another splitting migraine ugh.,, but I was not going to let that interfere with my fab day in Disney! We left the park around 2300, caught our three trains, and arrived back in Yokohama around 0015. We walked from the station to the port, that took us about 15minutes and then it took us about 30minutes to try to figure out how to get on the ship!! Ahh totally not fun! No one was around to tell us how to get on, nor did they have signs. Finally we saw a port security guard who let us through a little gate where we had to walk upstairs and we saw a small sign (upstairs where we never would of found before) a little sign that says “Ship” with an arrow pointing. POINTLESS TO HAVE WHEN YOU ARE ALMOST ON THE SHIP!! So yes I had a very fun and exciting day! but I still had a really bad headache so I went right to sleep! Woo

Japan- Day 2 -Yokohama/Tokyo! I woke up well first around 0700 but my head was still pounding so I went back to sleep until like 1030. At 1100 Lucas and me met up and we headed off the ship. We began our walk to the train station; we now had some understanding of where we were heading. We decided as we were walking that we were a little hungry (well as we came across a building that smelled delicious) so we stood outside contemplating on going in or not. It was a small little restaurant and the entry way was very tiny. A local finally walked in so we just followed right behind. So we are just standing inside and the owner/waitress comes up and says “two?” we said yes and she put us at this little table in the corner… now let me just tell you there was about 8tables total in this place it was so cute. so then she asked us what we wanted – we asked her if there was an English menu and she just looked at us and said “ohh no” and pointed to a few pieces of paper hanging on the wall → that was the menu, there was about 8pieces with a word in Japanese on it… so we just sat there and stared at eachother, we weren’t really sure what to do and we felt really rude if we just stood up and walked out… finally a local sitting in the restaurant came over to us → he spoke English and he asked us what we wanted and told us what was available. He was great haha- so I ended up ordering fried oysters! (Yum) and Lucas ordered something between pork and beef, we weren’t really sure! So with what we ordered we ended up going like a full meal! A bento box of – Japanese tea, the most AMAZING Miso soup that I have ever had in my lifee!, white rice, vegetables, seaweed, and then the fried oysters. This meal was so delicious, I was really glad that we went to this local little restaurant, it was part of the experience of Japan. So after lunch we headed back on our walk to the train station. It was about 1230 and we finally got to the train station, we bought our tickets, and we were off to Tokyo! Now we arrived at Tokyo station at around 1310 or so… and we had no clue what we were going to do for the rest of the day- we just knew that we had to be back at the ship by 2058! So we just walked around. We went to this huge bookstore first, thinking they had coffee and possibly someone around that could tell us where to do… that wasn’t the case… we ended up walking across the street to a department store mall. We both decided we wanted to try to find an ice bar. So we walked into this department store and we went to this desk of mall information and asked one of the 4people standing at the desk. Well let me just tell you they ALL dropped everything they were doing to get us directions to this ice bar. One person on the internet finding the place and getting directions, one person on the phone with the actual place, one person finding a map on there cell phone, and one person just trying to explain to us where we were. It was crazy; these people we so nice. Most people that you ask would say I don’t know and wouldn’t dare to drop anything and help you→ well these 4 people had no clue where or what we were talking about but they still found it for us! So after we got some direction of where we were going we just kept walking down the street. We started in the business district of Tokyo and ended in the Ginza district of Tokyo, which was pretty much a shopping district. It was amazing here, it was just beautiful walking down the streets, everyone was out and about walking around; I loved it. Tokyo really reminded me of a Boston, New York City, LA sort of place- like the big city, lots of lights and buildings. It was beautiful. We went into one store that the elevators were magnetic, but the elevators were also like a show for different products→ and they each brought you to the specific floor that sold that specific thing. One of the elevators had 20,000 swatches hanging up that brought us to a swatch store. We went up and down the elevator just to see, the lady told us that they change the watches around everyday! Wow 20,000 watches to change everyday! Crazy! – so this lady also pointed us on our way to the ice bar… from the department store to the ice bar it was about a 25minute walk… but it was an amazing walk… we got to see so much. We finally got to the ice bar around 1600. We stood in there debating if we wanted to pay 3500 Yen to go in. I figured I probably never would have the chance to go back in an ice bar and Lucas agreed so we went in. We were given these HUGE cloaks with gloves to go in the -5 degree Celsius or 23 degree Fahrenheit bar. The 3500 Yen or about $35USD got us entrance into the bar and one drink but the drink was the least of importance to us; we just wanted to see the place. Since it was only Lucas, myself, and the bartender for a majority of the time… A few men from Chile came in for a little while during the time we were there. They were pretty cool too. So anyways, we walked into this place after we had our cloaks on and just wow, it was a big bowl of BRRRRRRRR. The whole bar, the glasses, the tables, the seats, everything was made out of ice. There was two big pieces of ice – one was a magnifier and the other was a regular view. It was CRAZY! And so cool to take pictures with→ Big to small! They also had a drum made out of ice, The only thing that was not ice in the drum was the pieces on each end and the string around. It was amazing. it was just unbelievable. I loved it. it was like one of those things that was plain and simple but the best. It was such a cool atmosphere. Who comes up with those ideas→ making somewhere made out of total ice! WOW! Normally there is a limit of 45 minutes, but we were able to stay in for like 2hours because no one else was there. We ended up just sitting inside hanging out, talking to the owner, the bartender, and the men from Chile (when they were there) for a while. It was a lot of fun to actually learn about the whole complex industry of the Ice Hotel (it is called The Tokyo Ice Hotel and Bar, but there is no hotel attached here. There is actually 5 ice hotels / ice bars in the world under this company and there is an actual ice hotel that is actually made of ice under this company somewhere in the world. How cool is that!! – So we left the ice bar around 1800 and walked literally two minutes to the train station (yea there was a different train station right next to where we were, so much better then walking back like 25minutes haha I hate walking!!) Well we caught the train and headed back to Yokohama. We walked around Yokohama for a little while and ended up in “Chinatown” where we decided to grab some dinner. For dinner we both had Seafood fried rice (very yummy!) and shark fin dumplings!! (OMGGG AMAZING!! these things were so so so so so tasty!! I would totally get them again.) so after dinner we just walked back around Yokohama (It is such a nice, calm, friendly, relaxing place) and then headed towards the ship. So we got back to the ship around 2048 (ten minutes before on ship time! Woo.) So when we got back on the ship I finished writing a few postcards and then headed to Carina’s room for a few to say hi. I was back up in my room by 2200, showered, and began to do some work! Boo! Around 2300 I sat on my bed staring out the window as we pulled out of port! The Yokohama port terminal was like a tourist/local hangout spot to relax and enjoy the view of the water and of ships coming in and out→ so as we pulled out there were lots of local families and just friends standing there waving like crazy to us! It was great, they were just so excited as they waved. You could see the smiles of how happy they were from like a mile away! It was really nice. After we pulled out of port Carina came down to my room and we talked, ate Ramon soup with chopstix, and watched Memoirs of a Geisha (two times may I add.) I went to sleepies around 0230 or so! Late for me I know! But it was a great time in Yokohama/Tokyo.

In-between Japan (s) at Sea – So 192 out of about 700 or so people (students, staff, faculty, families, life long learners) decided to sail with the ship instead of traveling independently from Yokohama to Kobe. As you can see a majority of people (including my roommate!) were over-landers in Yokohama so they would be taking a train or some form of transportation to Kobe (it was an option→ I chose not to because it was a holiday weekend in Japan at the time and everything →hotels, transportation, etc…← would be crazy expensive… I chose the more logical and economical way→I was an in transit as I traveled with the ship. So today was an absolutely fabulous day! I had nothing to do all day! I could sleep!! Sleep was key at this moment! Okay so I woke up at 1330 or so for Rita’s noon/afternoon announcements, was up for a good 5minutes, and then went back to sleep until 1800!!!!!! It was oh so fabulous!!! I loved it! I got to sleep ALL Day, no interruptions, no one bothering me… oh it was great! It was just such a relaxing day I loved it and enjoyed it very much. When I awoke I showered quick and went up to dinner. After dinner I just came back down to the room and relaxed, did some homework, and watched Memoirs of a Geisha with Carina… again… it was such a great relaxing day! Totally hoping for it to happen again soon!

Japan- Day 4 -Kobe! So we arrived in the port of Kobe around 0700. I awoke around 0930 to begin to get ready for the day. I had to be in the port terminal at 1100 to meet my host family! I was so excited! So I ate a little bit of a quick breakfast and then got ready and finished packing. I got outside at 1100 and met my host family→ Aki (father), Yuki (mother), and their twins (both 2years old) Kota (boy) and Koyu (girl). So we played some games in the terminal with all the host families and then we headed for a train. We took a train from the port terminal to Kobe station which was about two minutes away… this train station was inside a mall where we decided to go and have lunch. I had such some noodle bbq dish with cow calfs (strange I know) it is sort of traditional Japanese dish… it was soo yummy I really don’t know how to explain what is was. it was just really good. after lunch we took two trains, about an 1½hours long or so to Kyoto. When we got to Kyoto we went to what is called the “Golden Temple” which was a temple that was over a lake… it was just beautiful with the autumn leaves. The colors of gold, orange, red, yellow, green leaves, wow it was just amazing. I miss autumn, I miss the amazing weather of fall… little bit of coolness but so sunny, oh its just amazing… that is one of the things that I miss most about being at school in Florida. I haven’t seen the fall weather in like 4years!! Wow! After the temple we went back to there house, I got a mini tour of the house and met the grandmother, Eiko. She was so sweet, she didn’t speak any English but she literally just kept talking to me and I loved it! – so anyways, I got to spend a lot of time with the family, took a lot of pictures, and played with the two kids. At 1730 we left the house to go meet some other host families for dinner. They rented out this little like hall and it was great. There was three other host families at the hall with us and it was so much fun. Probably about 15-20adults and like 12 little kids. It was like a pre-Thanksgiving dinner since I would not be having a real Thanksgiving dinner. It was a huge, amazing, yummy feast with sushi, balls of fried octopus, noodle dishes, some like pizza looking thing, and lots of traditional Japanese dishes… it was just so good! There was SO much food on the table and it was unbelievable. We were there till about 2000. After dinner we went back to the house and I just played with the kids and talked to the family for a little bit- about an hour later I got → “okay, time to take a bath!” and I just looked. So we went into the bathroom where I got like a 10minute instruction on how to take a bath. It was pretty interesting. So pretty much you shower, wash with soap, and rinse on a stool outside of the tub (no soap is allowed inside the tub)… and after, once all the soap is washed off your body and you are all clean you go sit in the hot hot bathtub! Fabulous! So yea, the same bath water is used for EVERYONE in the family – it is not drained until the last person bathes, luckily I was the first one to bath! So after my bath I sat in the kitchen and talked to Eiko, the grandmother, for a good hour… except our conversation was really broad, didn’t really have a lot to say but we kept trying! I headed to bed around 2300… I slept on a bamboo mat with a heated mattress on top with the absolutely the best comforter I have ever slept with… it was such a great bed! As weird as it was to sleep on the floor, it really was not bad at all… I didn’t mind it… I had such a great day though; I loved it.

Japan- Day 5 -Kobe! – Today I woke up around 0845 or so and I ate breakfast… now breakfast was soo yummi! Yuki made me miso soup, rice balls with salmon (omg amazing!) pickles, sweet baby shrimps, and these egg like tofu sandwiches! Gosh this meal was soo yummi! Amazing breakfast! After breakfast Yuki and Aki took me to a traditional Japanese tea ceremony! This was so much fun. It was just amazing to see! We got dressed up in these traditional beautiful kimonos. – So for the kimono dressing- we went upstairs and she told us to pick out kimonos… then the tea ceremony leader told us to take our clothes off, she had to dress us! … pretty weird… but we got dressed up beautifully, it was amazing. So we first watched the tea ceremony leader make the tea, and then the three of us went through the traditional rituals of the receiving and drinking the tea… it was amazing I loved it. We then got to actually make and mix the tea… I loved it; it was such an amazing experience. After the actual tea ceremony we had like a photo session where we took lots and lots of photos with our kimonos on. It was so fun! After the tea ceremony we headed to lunch. I got some noodle curry soupy dish and I hate curry but this was just amazing! it was soo good! I am a fan of Japanese food I decided! Haha. So after lunch we went to another big tourist temple, it was loaded with people visiting, like if you turned one way you were lost in a crowd of Japanese people. It was amazing though, just to like people watch and such- unbelievable. People watching I have realized is one of the best things that you can do when you want to learn about a culture. – So we were at the temple for about 35minutes or so and then we had to head to the train station! I was a little saddened to leave! I was having such an amazing time with the family. So we got to the train station at 3 and we just walked around some of the shops while we waited for the other host families to meet up with us. Yuki was amazing… after everything that they have done for me and bought for me the past day and a half she still proceeded to buy me these delicious Japanese candies AND a little gift for both of my nieces→ something she totally did not have to do! Georgia will be SO happy and so excited! → and to know that it was bought by my homestay mother from the kindness of her heart, just like because → WOW → Japanese are the friendliest nicest people. They always put others before them→ That is one of the major things that I have noticed within this culture and throughout the country! — So I left my homestay family and it was like so sad!! I had an amazing time with them and I hope to keep in touch! They made me feel SO at home it was amazing…I did not want to leave, but I had to… It totally reminded me about being with my family and made me really hope for the voyage to speed up! I am ready to see my family!!! – well after an hour train ride we arrived from Kyoto back to Kobe. When we got off the train Liz and myself decided to walk around for a bit before heading back to the ship by 1800. We departed Kobe at 2100. It was a fabulous few days in Japan! I had an amazing time! → but we were off for 10days at sea ahhl that’s going to be tough!←

Three Days at Sea – well 2½ ish…

by Alyssa | November 27, 2009

only 2½ days at sea till our next port and so much work to do! ugh not fun at all!

1 Day – So we departed out of Shang Hai around 1400 or so. We were off to Japan! Throughout this day, like I said in my China blog, I did not do much at all. I did homework and I studied for my global studies exam all day ughh! Totally not fun at all. That evening I went to the China post port at 1900, which was pretty interesting of course. And I was in bed probably by 2015! The ship was SOOO rocky it was TERRIBLE! You could feel every movement on the water possible. So it was quite an early evening for me! Ugh

2 Day- Rockyyy! – Today I literally studied ALL day!! From like 1100-1850 my friend Caitlin and I sat in the dining room on the 5th floor studying for the exam at 1900. This was literally like an all day affair of studying. We broke for class at 1335-1450, but other then that it was studying. We studied during lunch and we studied hardcore during dinner! At 1900 was the global studies exam! Ughhh!!!!!! SO NOT FUN, it was terrible omggg! The exam was from 1900-2015ish. At 2030 we had logistical pre port on Japan. It was okay, nothing exciting but hey whatev. After cultural I did some work and then headed off to bed! We were advancing the clocks one hour tonight so that was a bummer!

3 Day- I woke up at 0730 for breakfast and world cinema at 0800! Still way to early. So class 0800-0920 and then global studies 0930-1050. After global studies I worked on a project outline that was due for my class at 1215. I went to class, ate lunch, and sat and relaxed outside in the cold frigid air watching the beautiful ocean. It was nice to just relax and observe. Other then that most of the day was doing some homework. We had logistical pre port at 2000. That was okay, but it really is a majority of the same information that is repeated at each pre port which stinks. After pre port I went to Rochelle and Kham’s room for a bit, then went back to my room to watch I Love Lucy! Wooo it was playing on the ships circuit television which was exciting! Unfortunately it was just like the ‘greatest clips of I Love Lucy’ but hey it was still good. I went to sleep around 0000 or so! Japan in the AM wooo!!

Snow on the Great Wall of China – What a site!

by Alyssa | November 25, 2009

A long one – but a good one! =)

I’M IN CHINA!!! –

So today I woke up around 0730 to see us sailing into the beautiful city of Hong Kong. Honestly when I say beautiful I mean beautiful. The structures of the buildings, the architecture, it all! Just wow it was amazing to see. – so the ship was cleared around 1100 or so, and by 1130 Maria, Mario, Dani, Charity, and myself were off the ship and ready to go! – We were going to DISNEYLAND HONG KONG!!!!!!!!!!! So exciting!! And Maria has never been to Disney before so this was even more exciting. I was so pumped! – so first off, we were docked not near shopping but literally inside of shopping! The ship, not like how south Africa was meaning a couple of feet walking to the wall buttttt we were actually docked INSIDE the mall- like you walked off the ship and it was ‘hey wuts up ToysRus!! It was crazy!! So we had to walk through this huge mall just to get outside to the street. Let me tell you outside the weather was perfect! It was like 80degrees! Ah amazing! Outside on the street was all these beautiful Christmas decorations- all purple though but they were so pretty!. But anyways we walked a little ways down to the train station (we got lost once of twice in our attempts to find it but its cool) – we finally asked 2 locals (well they were actually from Singapore but they lived in Hong Kong) where the train station was and they happened to be going there so we all walked together. we got to the train and it took a little bit of time to buy our tickets because it was soo confusing and we did not want to mess up! – we finally got our tickets and we were off!! – We grabbed our train, and then had to change trains two times after on the way. Our final train was the Disneyland express! It was so cute. it was a regular train, but like a monorail. The windows of the train were all in the shapes of Mickey Mouse! Inside the train was like everything Disney! : the little hand things that you hold on to when standing were on the shape of Mickey, the seats were all satin blue, there were old black and white pictures of Disney, and they also had like gold statues of characters. It was amazing, probably one of the best trains I’d ever been on! Haha. So it took us in total like 40minutes to get to the park, if that. When we arrived we got off the train and we are faced with this huge sign that says – “Welcome to Disneyland Hong Kong!” SO EXCITING!!!!!!!!! So of course we started our photography skills right then and there! So right when we walked into the park so saw Mickey and Minnie!! We were very excited so we decided to wait in the line of like 15people to take pictures! I honestly think that I took my best picture ever with Mickey and Minnie here in Hong Kong! I love it! – Disney already began to have all these Christmas decorations up – I love Disney at Christmas time! The tree was so cute! after the amazing Mickey and Minnie we met up with Goofy to take a picture with him! Oh amazing of course! we then walked down a ways down Main Street USA! And the castle was in site! – oh so small!!! Sleeping Beauty’s castle in like 70% smaller then Cinderella’s castle! Wow! So anyways, we made out way into Tomororwland! Oh amazing, it was so alike to Disney World, Florida I loved it! we first hopped onto Space Mountain with its whole 5minute wait! Gosh so long! Haha – it was crazy, that ride gets better from each park I go to! (weirdness) after Space Mountain we grabbed a quick bite to eat at one of the fast food restaurants in Tomorrowland. I got a delicious chicken teriaki sandwich! And some weird mango pudding in the shape of Mickey! Somewhat tasty! Well after lunch we headed over to Buzz Lightyear star command! Oh how I love this ride!! I am still though just a regular star commander, I can never win in that game! Boo! Its still so much fun though haha. Then we headed to there like little indy speedway- yea I totally got to drive on the left side of the road (while attached to a track of course going like 3mph!! Haha) but also with the steering wheel on the right side of the car! Weird! be jealous! We then made our way up to fantasyland! Oh so much fun!!!! I love it! we did a few rides and then went to main street to watch the –Disney on Parade – Come join the Magic – the afternoon parade. It was actually really good! After the parade we headed to adventure land to do some stuff over there I got to see and take pictures with Woody and Jesse from Toy Story over hear! Very exciting! And then the we watched the High School Musical Parade- love it! we did lots more of course, the park was SO empty, we didn’t wait more then like 10minutes for a ride it was great! we definitely had a good time here! The park closed at 9pm which is when the fireworks began which were all beautiful over the castle! We then did some shopping of course! and then headed back to the train around 1045 or so. We arrived back at the ship around 1130 or so. Outside of the mall had all the decorations lit up, it was beautiful… When I got back onto the she I called home to talk to everyone which was very nice. I love talking to my fam! I sat outside on the deck of the ship on the phone watching the amazing skyline of Hong Kong! The buildings all had neon lights that changed all the time and reflected over the water, it was beautiful. Each building had a different shape, size, and structure so they all just looked beautiful as they shined and changed colors. It was amazing. – so I ended up going to sleep around 0100 or so! Way to late then I wanted to, but I had to be up at 0630 for my trip to Beijing that was leaving at 0730!! AHHHH WHAT AN AMAZING DAY AT MY ALL TIME FAVORITE PLACE!!!!!!!!!!

Hong Kong Day 2 – Mainland China / Beijing Day 1!! – So today I woke up around 0630 or so. I had to make sure I had everything packed and make sure I was ready to go! I at 0700 I ran upstairs with my bag packed to go to breakfast! At 0730 we were off for the bus. There was about 30 people total on my University trip to Beijing. We would be staying at Tsinghua University. I was very excited! So we got on the bus I sat down and was going to relax for a few but I decided to take out my little camera and I happened to open the bottom where the battery goes in- yep I totally left the battery on the counter in the bedroom! Ugh not happy about that! Butt luckily I had my other good camera with me! The little one was just convenience but hey wutev at least I had one! – it took about 20minutes or so to get to the airport. Once we got there we checked in right away. Well once we checked in we came to find out of flight was like 2 hours delayed. Woo. So me and this girl Kelli decided to walk around the HUMONGOUS airport before walking through security. So the outside of the security area had a lot of stores but then we decided to go through security and it was like oh hey we are at the mal! There were SO many stores here it was crazy- and it wasn’t just like little convenient stores it was more like David Yurman, Burberry, Coach, Armani, Mac→ gosh everything it was crazy!! We also decided to walk past the little cafeteria and oh yea, I saw a 2 geese there hanging ready to be cooked it was crazyyyy… okay so we got on the plane around 1130 or so and we took off around 1215… I sat next to this really nice couple form Wales. I talked to them for half the plane ride and slept the other half! It was fabulous to be able to sleep! We arrived in Beijing around 315/330 or so. We had to go through immigration and pretty much like a H1N1 clearance before we could actually enter into Mainland China! (I forgot to mention that the day before we arrived in Hong Kong the whole shipboard community had to get there temperatures taken for the Chinese government and immigration and if we had a fever we were not allowed off the ship – they could also deny access to the whole ship → luckily I passed and I think pretty much all of the ship did! Phew!!) so anyways we had to go through this clearance section but we weren’t questioned or anything – it was pretty intimidating seeing everything they had there though, like screenings and stuff! so once we got through we found our guide that was going to be with us for the next four days – Cindy! So we walked outside and bam!! I am hit with a burst of cold wind!! It was literally like 20degrees with SNOW all over the ground! (let me remind you Hong Kong was in the 80s! and I am pretty much from the southern temperatures of 80+!!!) Brr not cool! I was freezing!!! Haha so we got on the bus and we were off on the hour bus ride (with the heat on) to Tsinghua University! we arrived at the university around 1645 or so and we checked into our rooms. We were then told we had to be downstairs in the lobby at 1730 to leave for dinner – so we had like no time to get settled in. but oh gosh, dinner was AMAZING so it was okay! The bus ride to dinner took us about 25minutes or so – we walked in and were brought all around the world in this restaurant till we were brought to our certain room. So we sat down and literally courses and courses of food were just brought to the table! Omg yum! Beef dishes, vegetable dishes, chicken dishes, and then the best of all- Chinese style peking duck! Omgg yum so good! this duck had the most amazing flavor! Ahh it was like mouth watering I want it nowwww!!! The duck was made into little like wraps with Hoisen sauce! Ah my mouth is watering just thinking and writing about it!! ahh.. All the food was on a lazy susan so we just kept turning and turning it and oh the food was non stop! so we left dinner around 2000 it was so good haha! We arrived back at the university and went to a little lecture room to learn about where we would be going and what we would be seeing in the next few days. After the lecture we headed downstairs to the supermarket that was inside the university. I ended up purchasing a pair of gloves for 6Yuan which equals $0.75! and a hat for 10Yuan= $1.50! and legwarmers for 10Yuan also! So I spent under 4bucks on my winter accessories! Fabulous I know! Oh and two 1liter bottles of water for about $0.50! amazinggg! After the supermarket we walked back to the dorms we were staying at (#21!) all the buildings looked exactly the same so that’s how we had to remember it as! – now our rooms were all singles which was fabulous! Most of us just went to sleep because we had to be at breakfast around 0700 in the morning. It was a very good first day in Beijing! Woo! Time for more excitement!

Mainland China- Beijing- Day 2 → okay so I awoke today around 0710 for breakfast on the campus. Now I did not know what to expect for breakfast but I was very excited to see. We got there and it was a buffet set up with different kinds of dumplings (fruit/vegetables/and meat,) some just random food that I could not tell you what it was, some type of porridge and then egg drop soup! Yum amazing!! and then they had a chef actually making fresh scallion pies which were AMAZINGG!! So I experience Chinese style breakfast → and loved the scallion pies and the egg drop soup! It was soooooo good!!! they also either just had boiling water to drink or hot soy milk – very interesting but hey it was cool… After breakfast we were going to be doing some Tai Chi (they spell it Taiji) the very exciting thing after breakfast was as we were waiting in the lobby of the dorms to get ready to go to Tai Chi I noticed a vending machine so I decided I was going to get a drink – well not only does the vending machine have cold drinks but it has hot drinks like coffee- that come out in a can that is like boiling hot. Ohhh it was amazing!! so yummy!! Finally a coffee that isn’t that ships crapppy coffee!! ahh– well anyways, let me tell you that this campus has about 33000 students and is HUGE!!!!! We finally got to this other building for Taiji freezing our butts off figuring we were going into the warm inside to do this, we were staying outside! Ahh well we did Taiji for about an hour- it was pretty cool and it actually was a lot of fun! I strongly dislike exercising!!! But it was cool, something different! So at 0900 we headed for the bus and we were off to the Beijing Zoo. The zoo was of course freezing and I felt SO bad for all these animals. We got to see the giant panda’s and let me just tell you, these animals were adorable! The zoo had a bunch of panda’s and birds but it also had a few other animals like random type of cheetah cats and lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, etc. The poor little (well big) lions you could tell were so cold. The big guy huddled himself into a ball and you could tell he was like freezing! I felt so bad!! But anyways – all the animals were super cute and the zoo was fun! After the zoo we headed back to the school to have lunch on the campus at a fantastic restaurant. Again we were served oodles of food on a lazy susan and ohh my it was delicious! We honestly probably had like 10thing different things to choose from on the table! Maybe more! oh it was so yummy! After lunch we headed over to the Summer Palace. We arrived at the summer palace and we were there for about two hours. This place was HUGE but honestly everything looked the same to me. It was just like little palace areas or courtyards that the queen or king would use. They were beautiful within the painting, the architecture, and gosh just everything. This place was built in 1750. I personally had no clue what it was before we went. But it was the summer palace/imperial garden to the Qing Dynasty. It is a major natural culture historical place that was opened to the public in the 1980s. Yellow means wealth so if you had a yellow roof it meant you were wealthy which is what all of the roofs of the buildings were. Also inside the summer palace was a ship made out of completely marble. The queen wanted this made but of course the marble could not set sail in the water. But this marble boat was just beautiful. It was just so like old fashioned and like old looking but it was just amazing. So of course we took loads and loads of pictures here. We also literally like all bought these Panda hats which are like winter hats that look like a panda head – they were super cute! People were literally selling things ALL over the so we took lots of pictures with those, that was fun! So we left the palace around 1400 and were on our like 30minute bus ride back to university. Of course as we are back on the bus the tour guide decided to tell us to check our money- he then proceeded to tell us that a lot of the people inside the Summer Palace tend to sell you stuff and then give you back Russian or Taiwanian dollars and you don’t notice – some people lost literally like an equivalency to like $50-100 US dollars due to this. I luckily lucked out and didn’t loose any money! Phew! I would not have been happy! Well we arrived back at school around 1625 and we had to go meet some of the students at 1630! Gosh no time to breath! – but we met up with some of the university students that were going to be showing us around campus for a little bit. So Grant Charlotte and myself were with this student named Lu. Now Lu started out our conversation by saying my English isn’t very good and he was just like so nervous about it. but it was cool he was good. Except we started out going the completely wrong direction – we got to the end of a road which was an exit to the campus and he was like ohh wrong way! 15minutes into the walk haha fabbbulous! So we turned around and walked around – he showed us like the major lake on campus which he said is the only exciting thing on campus. Other then that we really didn’t do anything but walk around for like 1.5hours – it was pretty boring but hey whatev… we ended up then going to one of the many dining halls on campus for dinner – but this was no dining hall – this was a 6story cafeteria with probably 20-25 different stations on each floor. It was HUGE!! And there was so much food to choose from! I ended up eating this weird stir-fry dish with god knows what in it. it was um spicy and interesting. It was fun though, nice to see the campus and nice to see especially the area. some of these people would finish there meals in literally 3minutes total. It was pretty interesting to see all of this. what a different dining experience!! Around 2000 or so we finally headed back to the dorms. Me and Charlotte then decided to take a quick walk down to the store to buy her a hat and some snacks! We were back to the dorms by around 2100 and we were off to sleep. Although I did not fall asleep until at least midnight ughh… I ended up just watching Superbad woo even tho it’s a good movie haha.. But it was a fun day – we got a lot done today!! Now tomorrow is another busy busy day!

Mainland China- Beijing- Day 3 → so today we woke up again around 0730. I bypassed breakfast unfortunately – I was so tired. So I ended up just meeting in the lobby at 0800. We were off bright and early to the Tiannamen Square and the Forbidden City. It was FREEZING today omggoshhhh! We walked outside to the bus and almost froze it was so cold! It was about a 30minute bus ride to Tianamen Square and also the Forbidden City because they were right next door to each other. Tianamen Square was pretty big as was expected. It was a big open space though which I thought was very interesting. We walked around Tianament Dwuare for a little while and saw where Chairman Mao was. After Tiananmen Square we walked across the street to the Forbidden City. We waited outside the entrance to go in for like a good hour as we waiting for Cindy to get the tickets! Ugh it was so cold and totally not fun as we waited! We finally went in and we just pretty much walked through all these places – there were tons of people there, literally you could get lost in the scramble so it was a must that we stayed with the group! Most of the temples/buildings in the Forbidden City all looked alike in my opinion, just like the Summer Palace. There were 14 buildings/temples if I remember correctly that made up the Forbidden City, and they were all a distance behind the other. It was unbelievable to see how this was all made up. It was pretty cool- everything really was just beautiful. So after the Forbidden City we headed back to the bus to head out for another fantastic lunch. Yummi, oh how I love Chinese food. Lunch of course again was an abundance of delicious stuff. After lunch we headed to the Temple of Heaven. We spent about 1½ hours here. The Temple of Heaven had a stone that was considered “the center of the earth” so this was a major thing that of course we needed to take pictures of – then we went to see the actual temple – it was beautiful, butt it was FREEZING! This place had like a part set up to it though, it was great – just seeing locals just hanging around the area, enjoying the air, enjoying the scenery wow it was great – we also got to watch a huge group of locals dancing and like Salsa/ing in the park area, it was amazing to see- it was really cute too. – well after the Temple of Heaven we headed over to the Silk Markets – which were pretty much a mall with EVERYTHING that you could possibly think of – in which you could bargain for – pretty cool but wayyyy to big for me likings of a mall! I purchased a jacket so I did not freeze my butt off anymore! Ahh snow and cold is not my thing! We ended up shopping/walking around there for about 3hours wooww! Way to long! And then Grant and me got some yummy Italian pizza for dinner! That was tasty too! 3 hours of shopping, eating pizza quickly on the bus, and then we were off to the AMAZING cultural experience of an acrobatic show. Now this show was just unbelievable. These people were just awesome; they were riding 12 people on 1 bicycles, 1 person balancing/twirling/and doing a full out show with-3 umbrellas (with her feet!) a guy doing flips, headstands, everything on just one wire connected by two poles – he even rode a bike on this! There were girls balancing (with there feet!) one, two maybe three girls! It was incredible! They were balancing everything, running up poles; wow this show was just remarkable. I will say the 12 girls on one little bicycle amazing me! This show was great, it was about two hours long as we got back from this very long but enjoyable day around 2100. Wow it was great! Now tomorrow is the most exciting! The Great Wall of China!!!!

Mainland China- Beijing- Day 4 → so day we awoke for checkout and breakfast around 0720! Eww so early! Breakfast was yummy again; I had scallion pie!! Love it!! at 0800 we were off to the Great Wall of China!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so excited!! The bus ride was about 1 hour, so I got a fantastic nap in! we arrived at the Great Wall and honestly my face was in awhh – just as much as it was in awhh when I saw the Taj Mahal! It just stretched and stretched and stretched – we of course could not see the whole thing but it was just amazing. Like words really can’t explain this site. It just stretched over the mountains into the distance. We began our hike up the wall. It was totally verrrry tiring and I complained I think ¾ of the time! I’m not a fan of hiking. But in the end it was of course totally worth it. it was so cold the day we went! And the wind was just crazily blowing at us – I know all I wanted to do way get some heat on my body!! It was very interesting hiking up – the stairs were all so different from one another. some of the steps were like two inches apart, others were like two feet apart- you always had to watch your steps up and down because of the distance between some of them. Also there was so much ice on some of the steps because of the recent snow! It was soo difficult but soo worth it in the end! It is weird because I have never really thought about the Great Wall before, nor have I ever thought that I would get the chance to see it – but here I am! Standing right on the Great Wall of CHINA!!!! Amazing!! – like just the other day I was watching Mulan ( I know its silly since it’s a Disney movie) butttt I was watching Mulan and the beginning starts off with the Great Wall – and it was just like wow, I’m soon going to be going that, I’ll see the history and I’ll see the roots of it all. Its just like wow… so that was very exciting for me to be there. → I really want everyone just to picture stairs → but picture stairs that just keep going and going and going… it was just beautiful. It was just a remarkable place to see and I am sooo glad that I got the opportunity to visit. – so we left the Great Wall around noon and headed to lunch, again just fantastic! After lunch we headed to the Bird’s Nest and all of the other sites where the Olympics were held. The Bird’s Nest was pretty cool, but I did not go inside I just looked around the outside, it was in the beautiful shape and structure of an actual birds nest! The Water Tube was closed for renovations but it was pretty cool just to see the area. After visiting the area of the Olympics we were off to the airport!! We checked in and waiting about an hour or so before we began boarding! The plane was HUMONGOUS!!!! It was about 1½ long flight to Shanghai. We arrived in Shanghai around 1900 or so and got back to the ship around 2000. I ended up just eating dinner, showering, and going to bed. I had a SPLITTING Migraine and I could not focus on ANYTHING ugh!! and I was just exhausted! But from the looks of it, Shanghai looked like a beautiful place…

Mainland China- Shang Hai Day 5 → so today I woke up around 1000 or so to head off the ship by 1100 because on ship time was tonight at 1800. Yea I definitely did not get off the ship at 1100… but around 1130 an announcement was made stating “due to inclement weather on the water from Shanghai to Japan we will be extending on ship time and departure time till tomorrow, November 17th at noon – departure will be at 1400. So that was very exciting to hear! So me Dzifa, Carina, and Adair decided to eat lunch on the ship before we headed off. We actually did not get off the ship until like 1330 but hey it’s cool. So we got off the ship and just walked around for a bit. We went to some stores and really just admired everything about Shanghai. The only downfall was that it was pouring out. but it was still great… so we just walked and walked! It got dark so quick there, like literally we walked inside a store and back out in 5minutes and it was dark. But everything was just beautiful, all of the buildings were all lit up with neon colors, it was just unbelievable. Everything just glowed! so as we were walking we came across an outdoor museum which was pretty cool, the artwork here was just amazing. it was really nice – and then we decided to go inside the wax museum → except it was like $90 US dollars to go in so we just sort of stood in the entrance and admired a huge basketball player made of wax- it was crazy!! So then we decided to go look for somewhere for dinner where we came across the Radisson hotel. I said “hey maybe the hotel has a restaurant to eat dinner in” so we decided to go in. the restaurants were rather expensive butttt the hotel, on the 45th floor, had a revolving restaurant that overlooked the WHOLE city of Shanghai → so we decided to go up and relax and get a drink. I got my favorite drink ever that I haven’t had in forever, a Kir Royale. We also were given with our drinks some cashews, wasabi nuts that were amazing, and some other sort of nut. Delicious It was really just beautiful. We could see everything up here it really was just like wow! And as the floor slowly turned- really just wow… it was fabulous and totally worth going up there. So after our spending like 1½-2 hours in the Radisson revolving restaurant we decided it was time to go actually get dinner, by this point it was about 2130 or so. So we walked a little as we came across a restaurant called Ark. So we decided to go in and grab some dinner. Well we were the only people in there so that was weird… but let me tell you what we had to eat and how delicious and amazing everything was!!! → so we had pig ears wrapped in squid (good,) baby shrimps (tasty,) beef ribs with vegetables (very tasty,) smoked duck (freakin unbelievable,) and fried PIGEON!!! (omggg soo sooo goood!!!) all with some white rice… so now with the pigeon, they not only gave us the pigeon meat, oh no we got the WHOLE pigeon, head and all! It was crazy!!! So we just have staring at us on the plate, well a pigeon head.. very interesting… but omgosh it was just so good! this whole meal was amazing… and the whole thing cost (with beverages and all) $35 US dollars total for all of us… unbelievably cheap but delicious!! So after dinner we just headed back to the ship – we were so ready for bed! It was a great dayyy!

Mainland China- Shang Hai- Day 6 → Today I really didn’t do anything… I did not get off the ship because we had to be back by noon anyways… and the rest of the day from on ship time was a reading day – So pretty much I just did work ALLLL day! I sat in the dining hall all day working on a paper and studying for Global Studies – that was the extent of my day! wooo so much fun! But overall China was AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will tell you though → going into China I had a lot less stuff then I did coming out → a jacket, winter hat, leg warmers, gloves, lots of souvenirs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, gosh everything! How am I getting it all home??

Code Bravo-Code Bravo-Code Bravo

by Alyssa | November 19, 2009

Day at sea 1- Reading Day- “attention ship’s company, attention ship’s company- crew alert, crew alert, crew alert– Code Bravo, Code Bravo, Code Bravo… Engine Aft, Engine Aft” with a semi panicked voice →  3minutes later “Attention ship’s company, attention ship’s company- crew alert crew alert, crew alert, this announcement is for the crew only- all crew members please report to your muster stations. Crew alert, crew alert.” → 5minutes later ““attention ship’s company, attention ship’s company –crew alert canceled, all crew can go back to the original duties- All passengers aboard the MV Explorer, moments ago we had a situation in one of the engines in the aft of the ship. Smoke was seen and a small fire started. All immediate necessary actions were taken, the fire was put out, and everything was fixed. Crew was sent to the immediate muster stations as all necessary precautions were taken. The situation is taken care of, we just wanted to inform the shipboard community of the situation that occurred.” YES, this is how I woke up!  — so the rest of the day we ended up going literally like 5knots. We went from like 15knots to 5knots- it was sooo weird we were going so slow and you could feel EVERYTHING!! – but anyways since it was a reading day I was definitely planning on sleeping in, but apparently Captain Jeremy decided that wasn’t the case as he made all his announcements! So I ended up getting up, showering, and all that fun stuff.  I did some reading and went up to lunch around noon. I ate lunch with the inter port lecture from China, James Tang, so that was nice. We got to talk about China and Hong Kong and all that. After lunch I ended up bringing my work up to one of the dining halls to do for a little while! Oh gosh work work work! At 1600 I went to the union for a presentation called “Yes We Will- 100 Voyages of Women in Leadership.”  It was really good! It was a panel of “influential women” on the ship – so a lot of faculty/staff and one student. It was a great presentation and it was very enjoyable. I also found out during this presentation that Miranda from Sex and the City is a Semester at Sea alumni! Wow that’s interesting! I went to dinner around 1800 or so, and then went to Vietnam post port at 1900. It was fun to hear everything about other peoples experiences during their time in Vietnam. After post port I went to a C-SI (career success initiative) on networking. That was pretty good. it was just basic networking skills and stuff like that. After the C-SI event I sat in the room with Adair and Carina and watched Mulan  until 0000 so we could sing happy birthday to Adair!! Woo… then I went to sleepies!  We had an advancement on the clocks 1hr so it was really 0100! Ahhh

Day at sea 2-  Well- today was my roommates birthday and an A day! – so at 0730 when she got up to go to class I got up- and the 2nd she left the room I decorated the whole room for her… with toilet paper! Toilet paper because you use whatever resources you have! So I wrote all over strands of toilet paper – Happy Birthday! – it was pretty cool the room looked awesome as toilet paper streamers were hanging all over the room! So I finished hanging all this stuff up around 0800/0815 I went right back to sleep till about 1030 or so!  Woo exciting! – at 1100 I ended up helping tutor the dependent children. Lets see we did measurements in inches and centimeters today! Lots of fun! So after tutoring I went to lunch and then class. After class I came back to my room and just did lots of work-  I did not leave my desk from like 1400-1800!  I had to read a book and write a paper by the next day so I was on it! and of course Mulan was on so that was important to watch because it is such a good movie!!!  But most of the time I had to shut the tv off so I would do my readings and papers! Haha So around 1800 we headed up to dinner. It was pretty good shockingly- it was like pork stuffed with prunes –weird but tasty! I then ran upstairs to the pool bar to grab a frozen yogurt cup, oreo’s, and a kit kat bar to sing happy birthday to! It was great- and Adair loved it haha! After dinner I went to cultural pre port on China – it was actually not a cultural pre port- it was a global studies evening panel on china with three professors and the inter port lecturer speaking. It was actually really good! shockingly! I fully paid attention! That lasted from about  2000-2130 or so. After that I just went to Kham’s room and just hung out with them. I went to bed around 2315 or so! Boo class at 0800!

Day at Sea 3- today was a B-day- I woke up around 0730 for breakfast and class. Ugh in class I felt TERRIBLE! So sick! But I ended up getting past it- after world cinema I headed to global studies where James Tang, the inter port lecturer from Hong Kong spoke. It was pretty interesting – the guest speakers usual do a really good job at keep our attention focused! – well after Global studies I ended up just going to the study dining hall to finish up a paper that was due at 1215! I just had to add some finishing touches to it! at 1215 I ran to class- we watched some of a movie- that was the excitement of the class! – after class I ran to grab lunch and then ran back to doing homework. That is all I did for the rest of the evening until dinner at 1915! They tried to make some Chinese foods but they were a little off- they weren’t terrible though! At 2000 I went to the logistical pre port on China. That lasted till 2100! Right after logistical I went back to doing MORE homework!!! Ahh around 2200 I went to Kham’s room and hung out with Kham, Amanda, Maria, and Rochelle. Kham ended up braiding my hair for me – it was fabulous!!! I loved it haha. So anyways I headed to bed around 0000 or so! When I wake up I would be in HONG KONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO EXCITING!!!!

“Good Morning Vietnammmm!”

by Alyssa | November 18, 2009

Vietnam 1 – so today I awoke around 0730 FOR THE DAY!! We were entering Vietnam but we would not be there till 1100. We entered the Saigon River around 0800. My first cruise that I ever went on I was 12years old – we sailed down the Mississippi River and I thought that was sooo cool! So narrow and curvy and small for a ship to navigate through! I could never have imagined a huge cruise ship making its way through this river! Now this Saigon River reminded me of that very much! The Saigon River was fresh water, but it was purely brown! Pretty weird! There were shoes floating, helmets floating, coconuts floating, parts of tree branches, leaves, everything was in this water! Now aside from what was in the water- let me describe this river. I probably could have swam across it, no trouble at all, in less then 5minutes! If that! It was sooooo small and so narrow omggg! It was so curvy I have no clue how that pilot actually navigates through it. We just sailed down it, dodging boats and floating markets and what not. It was crazy!! It was really interesting and something to see. We docked in Saigon /Ho Chi Min city around 1100 or so. So Vietnam is where the parent trip was taking place- so as we were getting to the dock you looked over and saw just a bunch (well not a bunch, I’d say like 25-30 total which isn’t a lot) of parents standing there waving and going crazy all excited! I was just thinking oh maybe my parents are surprising me (just to make my thoughts and myself feel better I’d pretend they were coming) I will say it was pretty sad looking over the edge and seeing all these family members- I definitely got teary eyed! – along with many other people… It’s okay though because I get to see my family in one month!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – well anyways the ship was cleared around 1130 or so. We decided to eat lunch on the ship quick before we headed off around 1245. So at 1245 Kham, Amanda, Maria, and myself were off! We caught the shuttle and headed to the shuttle drop off at the Rex Hotel. We got off the bus and first went to the ATM. Now the confusing thing was that it was 1USD per 17,856 dong! Sooooo confusing!! The currency was sooo big! I was like a millionaire here! The ATM only allowed you to take out in like denominations of 50-100 thousand. So I would take out 1million and be all excited! But 1million dong only equals out to approximately $56USD! SO weird!!! We were going to go try to find a tailor to get some clothes made! So let me tell you; I thought India driving was bad, but Vietnam is just as bad! The only difference was that in India they would probably hit you, in Vietnam they swerve around you. Now in our demonstration the evening before we were told and shown that to ‘survive’ Vietnamese driving we just had to walk off the curb into the street and just keep walking. Don’t stop, don’t run, don’t turn around, just keep walking at your normal pace across the street and the drivers will avoid you and drive around you. It honestly was very scary the first time. I just held my breath and walked, literally held my breath the whole time! So after our first few times of crossing the streets we walked around a little bit through some of the stores and the market. After searching and stopping and searching and stopping for what seemed like forever, we FINALLY found a tailor a good way down the road! So we went into this tailor and got some measurements done! I was going to be getting two suits and two dresses made!! So after the four of us got fitted we headed to the market to get some fabric. After literally like 2 hours of searching/looking at fabric we headed back to the tailor to hand it off to her. We walked around a little bit and then headed back to the ship. When I got on the ship around 1930 or so I went to my room and noticed that I got mail!! I was so so so excited!! I not only got 1letter but I go like 4 cards from Auntie Ellen’s address and a big envelope/package from home which was filled with a bunch of cards and drawings from Georgia and Graycie. I was so happy it totally made my whole day! I was very excited – sad – and happy when I read all my mail! – My little Georgia girl sent me a card saying “do you remember me? It’s Georgia, your niece – I miss you when are you coming back? Do you remember who I am?” Gosh I was SO saddened by that! My little munchkin thinks I forgot her!! Oh how I miss that girl! – so after I read my mail I and met the girls upstairs for dinner. We were going to go out to a club/bar or something after for my roommate’s birthday but I was so tired, totally not in the mood and I was going on a trip early in the morning, Kham, Maria, Amanda, and myself just ended up hanging out in Kham’s room for a few hours. I finally went to bed around 0030 or so. It was a fun day and I absolutely loved Vietnam.

Vietnam 2- So today I woke up around 0730 to head out to the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Cao Dai Temple with SAS! I headed up to breakfast and met up with Rochelle and Amanda they were both going on the trip. So it was about a three-hour bus ride to the Cao Dai Temple. It was such an interesting place to see. It was so colorful, like creamy sort of colors with dragons and the evil eye/third eye all over the place. It was just a nice site to see. it was pretty cool being there. We got to watch a little bit of a service. it was very different. There were different people that came out at different times. Some of the men wore yellow robes, some wore blue, and some wore red. Then there were a bunch of men and women wearing white robes – some had black caps and some had white – making the Ying Yang stance! Each color meant a different thing and had a greater level of “importance” among the others. It was nice. After the temple we went to lunch. It was delicioussss!! We had some traditional Vietnamese food- a noodle dish, rice, a beef dish, fried shrimp, soup, pine apple! YUM it was so good! After lunch we headed on an hour drive to the Cu Chi Tunnels. – So when we arrived here we walked through this like dark tunnel entrance. We then watched a movie about the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese point of view and the point of the tunnels. It wasn’t the most enjoyable film to watch – it actually made us all very uncomfortable. But after the film we just headed on. We were first shown an underground hide-away. It was CRAZY! This hole was literally the width of my sneaker (9½ or 10) by like 6inches. It was just a rectangular piece was just a cut area in the ground. The piece that came out was a block that was covered by grass/wood/leaves and the hole in the ground was a few feet deep. It was intense. We were able to go in it if we chose, but I decided I was just going to put my legs in because I did not want to get stuck underground! I fit! Though it was weird!! So then we were shown a big bamboo trap! Now this was freakin intense! And scary! It was blocked off so no one could get hurt… but this trap was just a rectangular area in the ground that again was covered by leaves/grass/wood so it blended in with the ground- but the difference was that it spun around and when it opened there were huge spikes inside. It was so scary to see. We were then showed a few more different types of bamboo traps. There was about 10 different kinds. So scary to see and so sad to think about! We also saw how they had termite hills that were used in defense during the war. After we finished seeing the bamboo traps we just kept walking down the path – this path brought us to an area where gun shots were being fired- come to find out this was a shooting range! We had the chance to try and shoot and AK 47, M16, M60, M30, M1, K54, or a K59. I got the chance to shoot an AK47 for $7 USD! (Which I figure shooting ranges in the US are much more expensive then that.) We shot into a shooting range, where at the end were cardboard pictures of animals to shoot at. I totally missed them every time! I will say though this thing just like blew me away! The pressure and the intensity of the gun once the trigger is pulled. It was ridiculous! I was something like so unimaginable – I never expected myself to try something like that. I knew I’d never have the opportunity to do this again so I am glad that I tried it when I did. So after the shooting range we headed to the actually tunnels. OMGGGGGGGG this thing was crazy. So we headed down underground, they started out a little wide at first and then they just got so narrow, so dark, and so not easy to maneuver your body through. They were so tiny and narrow and crazy and so claustrophobic! I was pretty much crawling through them on my hands and knees or scooting on my butt. I do not know how the Vietnamese lived in these, ran through these, and carried guns through these tunnels – because pretty much all of us SAS’ers couldn’t even move through them! But we did make our way through. We were only in them for probably 5-10minutes total and we came out drenched, like we just got out of the swimming pool! It was crazy!! It was so interesting though. Going to the Cu Chi Tunnels was amazing and I am very happy that I went. I learned a lot and realized a lot. It was a hard thing to see and a hard thing to think about – they really opened my eyes to the Vietnam War and it was very sad. It is not something you want to think or realize what happened- I would’ve never known or thought there were traps, secret tunnels and passageways, and all of this stuff. It was something that I learned when I got there and I just thought it was so sad and so terrible. The best thing I could have done in Vietnam was actually seeing this area first hand and I am glad that I did. We left the tunnels around 1700 or so and arrived back to the ship around 18:30 or so. Dinner or the ship tonight was AMAZING! They had duck and it was actually very good! I was so shocked to see duck on the menu in the buffet line. Totally glad I ate dinner on the ship – it was the first good meal on the ship in gosh who knows- SO LONG! It was yummmm – we didn’t do anything that night – I was exhausted from the day long trip. I was in bed probably by 2300! What an amazing day and an amazing learning experience I had to day!

Vietnam 3- today was another day to go out and explore the city of Ho Chi Min City! I awoke today around 0900 or so to get ready and go! We grabbed the shuttle bus and we were off! We got off of course at the Rex Hotel (where the only shuttle stop is) and we went exploring a bit. Today at first it was just Amanda, Amiee, Rochelle, and myself. We just did some close by shopping, like in the actual stores rather then the markets. We walked around for about 2hrs or so and then headed back to the ship for lunch and to meet up with Maria, Mario, Ann, and Ana. We left the ship again around 1330 or so- all 8 of us! We so looked like a group of tourists its hilarious! So we walked up and down the street- of course making purchases every which way! At least I was able to run into the post office during this time to grab a few stamps! Well anyways we just kept walking and shopping walking and shopping… We went to the tailor quick to check up on our stuff. We ended up loosing Mario, Ann, and Ana at this point, but figured we’d find them back at the ship later. So we just decided to walk around the market – and the Ben Than market which is a huge Market, this is where a majority of our time was spent! It was such tight corners and areas inside. Everyone was always up your butt, grabbing your arm, trying to get you to purchase there stuff! Its crazy there – what was really cool was that this was a day time market – but come 1800 or so it turned into a night market – everyone from inside sets up tents outside and they bring ALL of there products outside to sell. This night market takes over a lot of the streets- and this is a daily/nightly thing. It was crazy watching them set up – and then did it in like 2seconds. So anyways we walked around the markets from during the day, and then in the midst of it changing, and then when it was a night market. We ended up around like 2130 or so finally getting dinner. . We went to a place called Pho 24. It served mainly Pho, which is a traditional Vietnamese beef or chicken noodle/soup dish… so that’s what I had- along with some amazing spring rolls! I also had “coconut water” in a coconut, which is totally different from the coconuts that we have at home. It was like moist and the coconut itself was like gooey and different. It was really yummy and the milk (or water) was delicious!! so we finally got back to the ship around 2300/2330 or so! I was exhausted!! We all just chilled in Kham’s room for a bit and then headed to sleep!!

Vietnam 4- Today I got up at 0700 for an 0800 trip! I was going to the Mekong River trip. I headed up to breakfast and then I was off to the bus. I was totally grumpy in the morning! I was so tired I just wanted to sleep! I ended up sleeping wonderfully on the bus with my AMAZING little pink blow up pillow that my aunt got me! This thing works wonders and everyone is always so jealous that I have a pillow and they didn’t! oh it was fabulous and it made sleeping so comfy! So anyways it took about 2-2½ hrs or so to get to the entrance to the river. The river literally was brown again, but it is fresh water! The water looks dirty, but it actually looks so fresh it was weird! Well anyways we got on to these boats that took us across the water to an island called “Dragon Island.” On Dragon Island we listened to some music and were given some delicious tropical fruits! Dragon Fruit omggg delicious!!! So yummy!! We had Pomelo which is a type of grapefruit, but not like the grapefruits that we eat at home, they were like no sour at all they were more of an orange like texture also- they were so good! we also tried Rambutan, Logan, magosteen and some others! Gosh I love fruits! I could eat them all day long! We then ventured our way to these little canoe like boats where two local Vietnamese people brought us down the river to another island. So this island was a place where they were making coconut candy. Coconut candy is .. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!!!! I ended up buying a bunch to take home!!! Well to make this coconut candy they first shred the actually coconut in a crazy shredding machine.. Then they like add some sort of powder, like a baking powder – and just mixed it.. it was cool. We saw them cutting the pieces of candy and then wrapping them in rice paper and wax paper. It was pretty cool. And this candy really was absolutely delicious! Coconut candy is like a coconut type of toffee ish sort of thing! Not a very good explainer I know but hey I tried. All I know is it is delicious! So yes anyways after we went to this coconut candy place we headed on the boat honestly like 10feet down the river to another ‘island’ for lunch. So we are just sitting there waiting for lunch and they brought out this fish… not like a baby fish but this HUGE fried fish like the size of like 2 footballs in length – and in height maybe like 1 football with the tip pointing up. It was crazy! They brought one for each table – So we all just looked at each other with a blank look on our faces. We were like “what is this how do we eat it!!” it was so weird – So then a lady came over, put on gloves and started scaling the fish and we were so lost! She then cut pieces of the fish meat off of the body, took a piece of rice paper and put in it a bowl of water, and then put the rice paper on a plate. She then put some of the fish, some mint leaves, and some noodles on the rice paper and made it into a spring roll with rice paper… omg amazing!!! I ended up videotaping it because it was such an amazing process to watch her make lunch. We also got a shrimp, some noodle and beef dish, fried rice, a pork dish, chicken, and some nasty ass soup that I could not eat. Overall lunch really was amazingggg!!!! Minus the soup. So after lunch we took the boat ride back to the dock and were on the bus and ready to go back to the ship. It was about a 2.5 hour bus ride back so I got to sleep for a bit! Niceee! We arrived back at the ship around 1630-1700. I showered and then went up to dinner. After dinner, well around 2000 I decided I was going to go out for a bit with a few people. It was Maria, Amanda, Aimee, Carina, and myself and then the two inter port students from Hong Kong – Cherry and Horris and the inter port lecturer from Hong Kong –James! We were going to go to a Jazz club. We got to the jazz club but realized that there was a very expensive cover charge; so we said forget that and walked around looking for somewhere else to go. We ended up going to this Latino/Cuban restaurant called Havana. We just sat and relaxed and got a drink and FRENCH FRIES!!! Omgg delicious!! we headed back to the ship around 2300 or so. I then ended up grabbing my computer and going outside for a little bit to get some internet usage! Yes so exciting! I got to load some pictures, go on facebook, and talk to people! I was pumped! I got back to my room around 0100 and went to sleep! It was a good day!

Vietnam 5-today I woke up around 0800. I showered quick and got ready to go and I ran outside to the restaurant right in the port to use there WiFi. I was able to Skype with home!!!! It was about 2000 at home so I knew people were awake. It was amazing to talk to and see my family!!! Mom, Dad, Alex, Anya, Nana, Graycie! So good! My poor little Georgia was upstairs sleeping cause she didn’t feel well and no one wanted to wake her up! I was very sad. But I did get to talk to Graycie and she kept smiling and looking at the screen saying “Hi,” “Hi,” “Hi” OmG it was soooo cute! I haven’t heard her say anything before so I was very excited to hear her! And to see that adorable face smiling at me and giggling!! Ah I miss her! So I got to talk to everyone for a little bit and then I ran back to the ship to grab my stuff to meet up with Amanda and Kham to go out for the day. When I got to my room my sister called my phone and told me Georgia was awake and wanted to talk/see me. So I grabbed my computer and my stuff to go out and ran back to the restaurant so I could see my little munchkin! It was so nice to see and talk to her- She told me all about school and dance and what she was going to be doing for her birthday party – oh everything! We got to skype for like 15minutes before she headed back to bed! It was fabulous! I can’t wait to see that little girl in about a month!! So after skyping with home we hopped on the shuttle bus and we were off. We made a mad dash for our tailor right when we got off the shuttle. At this point it was like 1000. After the tailor we just walked around for a bit. We decided to stop at this amazing looking ice cream parlor. This menu looked so yummi. Me and Amanda decided we were going to order this fondue item that came with 14 scoops of ice cream – any flavors and the chocolate fondue sauce, fruits, and pieces of cone. Omg amazing! We tried literally so many ice creams before we chose what we wanted on our tray- I strongly suggest NEVER ordering Durian ice cream – it tasted like pure onions it was so gross!!! But everything else was just amazing. after our ice cream we walked to meet up with Rochelle and Brittany to go to lunch. We went to a different Pho restaurant. I had beef pho again!– so yummy! After lunch we just walked around for a bit – We had to be back at the tailor at 1600. Of course our clothes weren’t ready so we sat there for literally 1.5 hours ugh. So lets see – I got two tailor made suits – one black and one gray… a long like gown dress, and a short sundress all for $120!! I am in love with my two suits just to throw that out there! Well anyways right after our clothes were ready we headed back towards the shuttle bus. But we never made it to the bus because we kept shopping!! Now a major form of taxi and transportation in Vietnam is motorcycle. I was very nervous about this motorcycle thing but we did end up taking one back to the ship as our taxi. It was pretty cool, I’ve never been on a bike before so it was a little thrilling! But shh don’t tell my parents! =) haha my first experience on a motor bike, it was legit only like a 2minute ride!! Nah but it was fun, but not something I’d go out of my way for. –so we finally got back to the ship at 1930. We went right up to the “Goodbye Vietnam BBQ” that the ship was doing special. – this is the first port where we had a weird on ship and departure time. On ship was 2100 on Saturday and departure time was 0600 on Sunday. So they decided a bbq would get a majority of the people on the ship at the correct time – and they were right! Haha I think ¾ of the ship was there early for dinner

So Overall I LOVED Vietnam! I thought it was an amazing place with so many different things to see. I really enjoyed my time here!

Well Clearly You’ve Never Been to Singaporeee =)

by Alyssa | November 9, 2009

Wednesday 10/28 at sea- today was ‘picture day/reading day.’ We didn’t have any classes today; it was more of a day to get some work done and such… along with taking your home school and ship organization photos. It was a pretty good day. My photo was at 1030 so I was up relatively early. Of course the other 5students that go to Lynn got there 10minutes late, so I at first took a photo by myself since no one was there.. and then when they showed up we took another group one. After my photo I pretty much just did some work till lunchtime. The work is slowly adding up. My next photo was later at 1630, this photo was our RA/CE photo, after the photo we had a quick meeting regarding the Halloween celebration. After the photo Adair and me just watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone! Good movie!! We headed to dinner around 1800 or so. After dinner we just sort of hung out and watched Harry Potter again, it replayed like 5times! But I ended up at least getting like three papers finished that night so that was pretty good! We headed to bed around midnight or so- we also had to move the clocks ahead 30minutes! Boo not fun! But wutevv! – I’m going to be a pro at working with day light savings and different time zones when I get home!

Thursday 10/29 at sea- today was a Bday so I awoke mucho early for class (well you know 0730!) I was up to breakfast by like 0740 blaa! So in class we watched more of Lagaan- even though the film professor/director in India that we met with told us what happens in the end! Sad! He ruined the movie but I guess it was predictable! After world cinema I headed over to Global studies… this was definitely interesting, the poor professor got like chewed out but half the students in class today regarding the midterm exam (no easy at all!!!) after the whole discussion about the exam we began watching a movie on Vietnam and P.O.W from the Vietnam War. It was a very good and interesting movie! After class I just relaxed for about 30minutes or so and then headed up to lunch. I ate quickly (delicious tomatoes of course) and ran to my interpersonal communications class at 1215! This class was good… same as usual, fun but informative! After class I ended up falling asleep from like 1430 till around 1715 or so. I just really wasn’t feeling well at all- I was all congested and so stuffed up still. Eww! I ended up going to dinner around 1730/45 because it was Amanda’s birthday and we were going to be having cake! After dinner I just did homework… woo! Around 2230 or so Nate decided to knock on the door saying “I’m bored!” so of course he came in and Adair, Nate, and myself watched Harry Potter again! But this time it was the 2nd Harry Potter! I realized they were going to be playing all of the Harry Potter’s before we arrived in Vietnam so I’d be able to finally see them all! So exciting haha… well this evening I did not fall asleep until like 0300 ugh! And I tried to fall asleep starting at 0030! So not fun!

Friday 10/30 at sea- A day! yay so I sorta semi slept in- it’s really not that easy to sleep in when you have a roommate→ my sleeping in is classified as sleeping in till like 1300 or so, it doesn’t work like that→ here it is like sleeping in is classified as like 1030 or so lol but wutevv… so I got up and did some cleaning of the room→ we tend to do that a lot. I headed to lunch around 1230 or so and then was off to class at 1335! Class ended at 1450 and after class I went to meet with my professor to discuss the upcoming papers that were due. Ugh so much work in so little time! … I then just relaxed for a little bit before going down to the doctor AGAIN! So sick of going down there because they are just so helpless! He ended up giving me a medication to help with my cough woo hoo! I then just went to dinner, didn’t really do much that night. Adair and me watched Harry Potter 3 haha of course! and I did some homework… I was in bed by about 2300 but of course I did not fall asleep until like 0230!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHH

Saturday 10/31 at sea- its Halloween! In the middle of the ocean! Woo be jealous! So today, for the first time I did not go to class! I have been having a really tough time sleeping lately, and I did not fall asleep until at least 0530/0545 in the morning!! I watched the sunrise from my bed! It was just terrible! So at 0730 when my alarm clock went off just sat there miserable and a mess. I felt so sick so I said forget it… I ended up going back to sleep until around 1150 or so. I showered quick and then ran to class at 1215 so after class I went to lunch quick, they had pumpkin soup! At least something was a little bit Halloweeny. I was sad because I had missed mom’s special Halloween dinner and my FAVORITE dinner of the year! – beef stew in a pumpkin! With pudding graveyard! I wish I could’ve had it! it’s what I look forward to every year! But hey I guess I am traveling the world haha…after lunch I just went upstairs to the pool deck to do some work and to get some fresh air; I finished up two papers thank goodness! Gosh work work work! Totally not enjoyable! So at 1700-1830 was trick-or-treating for the kiddies on board. So some of us (if we chose to) purchased candy in India for the little kids to have some sort of Halloween. So they dressed up and went trick-or-treating to specific cabins that signed up. It was lots of fun seeing how dressed up and excited all these kids were. They came to my door at 1815 and then I headed off to the union to start setting up decorations for the Halloween celebration. Since the RA/CE’s were putting on this celebration dance we had to set up. Unfortunately only half of us showed up to decorate→ but it came out amazing! we used so much random stuff→ toilet paper, sheets, little random decorations that we found lying around; it looked awesome though! We ended up finishing decorating at like 2055 and then dance began at 2100! → at this point it was only me Brittany and Katie decorating, everyone else left ugh… so we all ran to our rooms to get ready, I ended up just throwing on random clothes as a costume→ I was a white crayon because that it the only colored clothes that I had that matched. It was Crayola Winter White! Hahaha… the dance was pretty fun—there was a “Thriller” performance, which was nice to see and also a costume competition→ some of the things people came up with were amazing! The dance lasted from 2100-2300! At 2300 I got really aggravated because the CE’s that did not set up were supposed to tear down and like three people stayed and left after 15minutes; they did NOTHING. It was so aggravating because the crew, Charis, and myself cleaned up pretty much everything→ leaving the union at 2345 at the earliest! It was crap! After the dance I went upstairs and got some soup because I didn’t get to eat dinner, I also then watched an amazing lightning storm over the water! It was sooo pretty!! I ended up going to sleep around 0045 or so… it was a good day though for the most part.

Sunday 11/1 at sea- well we weren’t really at sea→ We were bunkering in Singapore which was pretty cool. We went allowed off the ship though which sucked. But it was pretty cool to see Singapore. It was so pretty! It was so green! And so just like little haha. It was like separate little islands in a way and then the mainland! It was cool. So I got up semi early just to do some work. I didn’t have class until 1335 so I was a pretty blaa morning and afternoon after class. I just did some work, that was the extent of my day. Later that night we had our cultural pre-port. That was eh okay I guess. After cultural I went to play BINGO in the piano lounge. I love bingo, except I stink at it! I never win! After bingo I just went and hung out with Carina, Rochelle, Louie, Amanda, and Bill→ we just sat in the dining hall and talked for a bit. I headed to sleep around 0000→ we gained an hour of sleep so that was pretty nice! → as I was heading to sleep I looked outside then on the television to realize we were going about 25 knots!! That was crazy fast, the fastest it has been on the voyage so far… I guess they wanted to get away from a the little boats around us… hmm

Monday 11/2 at sea- it was a Bday so the same boring schedule applied; Wake up at 0730, go to breakfast and class woo. We watched a Vietnamese movie; I had ABSOLUTELY no clue what was going on. After world cinema I went to Global studies. It was a pretty good class. It was a student/faculty panel discussion on Vietnam. It was very interesting and sad at the same time. After class I just sat in the union and finished up a paper until class at 1215 and then headed to interpersonal communications. That was a fun class; we watched half of a movie called “Ordinary People.” After class I went to lunch quick and then just did some final work to give to my professor before we arrived in Vietnam. At 1700 I headed back to the classroom to watch the end of “Ordinary People” (It was sad!) and then I headed to dinner quick. After dinner we had logistical pre-port! woo we were almost in Vietnam and I was very excited for it! – after Logistical I just watched some of the tv series “Weeds” with Carina and Adair before heading off to bed around 0000. When we awoke we would be in Vietnam! Very exciting!

India -Experience, Culture, and Education…

by Alyssa | November 4, 2009

First off, I want to let everyone know that as I wrote this blog in my word document first- it took 7 pages!

India, oh India! It has been 8 days since we departed India and I still cannot wrap my finger around my thoughts and feelings of the country and my experience. India was an experience – cultural, educational, and unbelievable! But overall, Two words- CULTURE SHOCK!!-

Day 1 in India- Now today, my first day in India was a great experience, but it was a lot to take in at once. Right now, as I am writing about my first day, I am writing at 35,000 plus feet in the air, flying on Indigo airlines from Chennai to New Delhi! So here’s how my fabulous day went! – so we arrived in India in this morning around 0800. At about 0930 the ship was cleared, but we could not get off the ship until we received our customs forms and shore passes. So while waiting we were able to exchange money on board and also watch a Yoga Demonstration lead by an Indian, a former SAS guest lecturer, and a yoga teacher. So first I exchanged money… now I exchanged about $200 USD and I came out getting 10,850 rupees! Holy cowww they handed me a wad of 100 dollar bills (or 100dollar rupees) it was craazzzzzyy!! But hey whatver works is cooool with me! I liked getting a wad of cash! Hahah … so then I went to the yoga demonstration- This lady has been practicing yoga since she was 13-years-old she was probably at least in her late 60’s at this point, as she was instructing two of her students on yoga. It was AMAZING. They were crazy good at yoga. They would stretch onto their heads, they would put there legs behind there backs on top of their heads. It was just crazy. So after the demonstration I finally got my forms, but it was crazy hectic to get off the ship so we ate lunch before heading out. At 12:30 or so, Amanda, Nate and myself headed off the ship into the city of Chennai. We were told that India was a very busy place, but I was hit with more then expected. We walked off the ship and you could just see dust EVERYWHERE, covering the ground, covering your body, it was gross! (The crew covered the carpets of the ship with cardboard boxes and plastic wrap, at first I did not understand why but not I 100% get it!) There was just so much pollution all over the place it was gross! So we got off the ship and had to show our shore pass to the guards monitoring the gate to the ship. And then we grabbed a taxi to the port entrance because we were told it was like a 25 minute walk (so wrong!!) At the port entrance, which was a customs building, we had to show our shore passes to get out. Goodness! So much just to get out of the port itself! So after this we headed walking down the street. We got 100% ambushed by rickshaw drivers (a rickshaw is a 3wheeled automobile that the Indians use as taxis it was crazy scary! We could not move without someone up our butts, it was crazy! And very intense! It honestly made us want to get back on the ship, but of course we didn’t. we just slowly… but quickly took it all in. We just kept walking, trying to discuss our plan.. we finally just jumped into a rickshaw that was ahead of us! Phew, we thought the craziness was over! But ohh not it wasn’t – we headed out to the streets – can I just say you have never experienced any type of driving or seen any type until you have been to India! Oh wow I have never been so nervous on a road it was REDIC!!! Cars just come at every angle! No one stops- it is a constant jam of automobiles shooting through! – Cars, motorcycles, auto-rickshaws, bicycle rickshaws, and COWS!!!! So crazy!! (Cows are sacred in India so they are free to roam wherever, there meet is not eaten, they are treated with a great amount of respect!-pretty interesting.) So during this crazy driving, our driver, Johnny, took us to three different shops before heading back to the ship before we headed out to the airport. We were on the ship for legit, 20minutes, if that. I showered mighty quick because I felt absolutely disgusting!! And we were only out for three hours!! We then headed out on our journey to the airport, we got to the airport around 17:00 for our 20:10 flight! And here I am writing this, from Indigo airlines!! —— SO first off… can I tell you our experience with the bathrooms? … so we walk into the bathrooms a little while before our flight was ready to board… I walked in and just stared… the toilets aren’t westernized toilets, meaning they aren’t exactly toilets to sit down on and to go the bathroom in. The toilets are actually squat toilets or Indian style toilets→ they are legit little holes in the ground→ with a bucket to the side for you to wash off with→ and no toilet paper in site (at least we brought like two rolls with us from the ship) …. Well anyways, I SO was not going to be using this toilet, I straight up looked at Erica and Amanda and said “I’m set, I’ll hold it…” -→ I knew from there I was in for a treat trying to find bathrooms that I would be comfortable using… I just honestly could not really work with the squatting in a nasty bathroom where you weren’t squatting not to tough the toilet but you were squatting so you could almost reach the ground.. uhhh yea no not for me! It was really the craziest thing!! But that is usual here and it is pretty much cultural so I found it interesting but not for me… So anyways the plane was very interesting, the airlines was just very different! They called your flight, you go to that specific gate that your flight is at (like usual, but they are all lined out right next to each other at a mini booth,) you then walk through the gate number, security checks your bags again to make sure you have a carry-on baggage ticket, someone takes your boarding pass, and then you walk outside to a bus. The bus then takes you to the plane that is literally just chilling in the middle of the runway! It was verrrry different! It was a pretty simple process… everyone just gets on the plane→ sits down→ and we were off! So the plane ride was about 2.5 hours… I didn’t sleep at all, I did some work at this point rather then sleeping! We arrived in New Delhi around 22:40 or so. We couldn’t find our driver and none of our phones would work. We waiting and finally were able to go back in the arrivals section of the airlines to use a payphone. We got in touch with the hotel and after about 35-40minutes later he showed up → he was on his way the whole time, just mucho slow! So it took us about an hour to get to the hotel/hostel. –The Hotel Tara Palace- We pulled into this very sketch area around 00:45 or so; it was soo creepy! It was legit in like a back alley! We were just a tab bit weirded out! So this place, being in the back alley, people were hanging out on the streets, and it was just really like eerie1 haha.. so wutev, we walked in and it was actually a pretty nice place. We got our rooms and headed upstairs→ now I was thinking this was a regular hostel where we had to share one room with like 15people! I wasn’t looking forward to that at all→ but when we got there realized that the hostel had more of the hotel set up, where the rooms were just 1bed but 2people per room. Not bad, we were all content. Erica and I shared a room→ we got upstairs and explored this little room—the bathroom was just crazy interesting… there was two buckets under a faucet, and that was how you showered!! It was just so different! At least the toilets were westernized tho! Nate and Amanda came by a few minutes later for a little so we could figure out our plans for the next day. – we headed off to bed around 0200. – We were planning on getting up at 0800 to go see the Taj! – it was a very long and interesting day!

Day 2 in India! So yea, about getting up at 0800, nah that didn’t work! All four of us ended up sleeping till noon!!! Woops! We finally got up and went downstairs to the mini travel section of the hostel to see about getting train tix for the next day→ Sunday→ to Agra! – The guy legit like laughed at us! Clearly that was something that could not be done! He said it was impossible to get tickets at that short notice (apparently trains are hard to get in India.) He suggested getting a driver for the day to drive us to and from→ we decided on doing this (for 6200 rupees or $130 USD!–> not to bad for a four hour carried there and a four hour carried back!) We also decided on getting a driver for the rest of the day to take us around Delhi, rather then us trying to figure everything out on our own… made much more sense. — so we weren’t getting the driver till 14:30, so we decided to run out and look around for a little bit and grab lunch. Yep we hit up McDonald’s for lunch!! Yum it was pretty good, but very interesting because of course they don’t have like hamburgers or anything→ they have chicken sandwiches, pizza wraps, and some veggi things. Pretty different! As good as Mcdonald’s was- let me just tell you about the experience we had in crossing the street! OMGGGGOSHHHHH!!!!! I have never been so scared crossing a street before! In my life!!!! There are streetlights, there are lanes to follow, there is stop signs, there is everything that you would normally see while driving… The only thing is, the locals drive like wild ones!! They don’t follow the lanes- they swerve in and out and around and gosh its crazy!! They cut in and out of lanes non stop. The stop signs are sort of just there… and if there is a red light, they say hey we can go it’s not red!! A major thing is horns! Indians use horns not just as a little beep like we do… there horns say move over!! Get our of my way I need to get through, etc! it is just crazy!! Now they do not care if there is anything in there way, they are going through! – when it comes to crossing the streets, oh that’s another story!! The first day it took us like legit 15minutes to cross the street!! so if you are crossing the street you better run!! They do not care who you are or anything! They WILL hit you!! I really have never been so scared as we were dodging cars and bikes and quickly get out of their way!! It was one of the most difficult takes that I have ever done! They just don’t stop→ even in a crosswalk! It isn’t the fact that the pedestrian has the right of way –it is the “get our of my way NOW I am coming through and I am not stopping!!” I definitely videotaped it on my camera as we crossed cause it was that intense, it has to be seen!! Well anyways- later on in the day after McDonald’s—Our driver (Toy was his name) was ready to go. We first went to go see Humayun’s Tomb- it is a big tourism site in Delhi and is also a world heritage monument- but I actually have never heard of it before! But it was a pretty cool place to visit, it was bigg! After the tomb we went to the Lotus Temple, which is a huge sacred temple made out of pretty much marble. It was beautiful and it looked just like the Sydeny Opera House! It was so pretty! That was the first place we went to where we had to take our shoes off to enter! Interesting! After the Lotus Temple we headed to this place to go shopping! We were there for THREE hours! Three hours in this little place that legit was like 4rooms and could’ve taken 30minutes!! We enjoyed ourselves though! Our poor driver… After shopping Toy took us to go see the ‘Gates of India.’ That was an experience since that evening was some sort of celebration and it just ended and there was TONS of people there—so legit we were just like stared a, circled around, and followed by a crazy amount of people. So we pretty much just took our pictures and left. Afterwards Toy took us to a restaurant called ‘Splash’ I had some delicious chicken fried rice! (Chinese food is big in India) – So while reading the menu though we read a spot on the bottom that says the drinking age is 25! How amazing is that!! So anyways after dinner we just headed back to the hotel. it was around 22:00 or so and we were exhausted! I attempted showering with the bucket, now that was a process and a half! Totally flooded the bathroom floor! Hahaha We went to bed around 23:30 or so, we were going to be getting up at 05:30 to leave for the Taj at 06:00 AHHH!!!!

Day 3 in India! – Its 05:00AM! I wake up to Erica’s phone singing “Spice up your life – Slam it to the left if your having a good time, shake it to the right if you know that you feel fine… Spice up your life!” HAha it was hilarious! Good way to wake up! So yea we quickly got up and got ready to head out! I am so not a morning person so waking up at 0530 for a 4hr car ride to Agra is not my ideal thing to do! it didn’t seem very exciting to me… so I slept for the first 2hours, it was fab! We stopped at 0800 for breakfast at this random little touristy place on the road… it was very yummmyy! I actually just had toast and butter but it was delicious! But let me tell you, they had ‘jam toast, butter toast with jam, butter toast, plain toast, butter and jam toast, French toast, butter slice, and plain slice’ – it was very interesting how many different kinds of toast they had! I was semi perky at this point but it was still mucho early! After breakfast we were back in the car for two more hours, along with a little bit of sleep! wooo! Around 1000 or so our driver told us that a tour guide would be meeting us in about 5min! We were almost there! So we met our tour guy, hopped in a rickshaw with him, and we were at the entrance of the Taj! … We were there! So we got to the entrance and paid our 750 rupees! This 750 rupees got us entrance, a bottle of water, and like disposable socks to go over our shoes. As we walked through the main gate it just slowly started to appear, it just shined beautifully in the light. It was just unbelievable site to see. Directly in front of you stood this beautiful monument just towering. It just like shined in the distance. The marble was just gorgeous. This white shiny marble, oh just amazing…like seriously, words really cant describe this play at all. The marble was just so like smooth and soft. So at first we just took lots and lots of pictures and then we walked towards closer over to the Taj. We literally just stared! Ah just beautiful like that’s all I can say!!! – so we headed on to the Taj Mahal itself. We had to put our disposable socks over our shoes and we were there, good to go! So we headed in the Taj where we had to wait in a line that literally took only like 10minutes total, and then we were inside the Taj Mahal! Inside was beautiful too. You weren’t allowed to take pictures inside unfortunately but it really still amazing. The artwork, the texture, the site, the color of the marble→ gosh it was just remarkable. The actually tomb site inside the Taj itself was covered by a screen so you could not actually see down below. It was still just great. So we walked around for a while and then headed outside on to just sit and relax this astounding site. Sitting on the marble was just so weird, and it was so smooth and cold! I’m telling you I really cant find the words to describe this place. Literally it was just miraculous view. That’s really all that I can say about it. –AMAZING—BEAUTIFUL—one of the most amazing sites that I have ever seen. — so okay we left the Taj and our tour guide took us to a couple stores and then also to a store/business that makes stuff just out of marble- like tabletops, tables, chess boards, little figures, etc. → pretty much the same marble that was used on the Taj. It was pretty cool to see how they made some of these things. It is hard to scrape marble, they let us try to do it but it wasn’t easy! But it was a fun time! Around 14:30 or so we were back on the road… so weird, we drove 4hours for like a 1-2 hour visit to the Taj Mahal, but it was just totally worth seeing!! On the way home we stopped for a quick dinner and then we just kept it going. It actually took us legit like 6.5 hours to get home! It was such a LONG car ride. We played games most of the car ride and slept the rest→ we had to find some way to keep ourselves occupied in a little car for almost 7hours! Ahhh! We got back to the hotel around 21:30 or so, maybe even later. We ended up just going on the internet for a little bit then heading off to bed! It was a long but very enjoyable day! The Taj Mahal was BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!

Day 4 in India! – so today we woke around 0900 or so. We packed up and then headed out to walk around for a little bit… we crossed the busy busy scary streets!! Omggoshh I am never going to get used to that!!! We first headed to lunch… McDonalds again wooo! After lunch we just sort of walked around, site-seeing I guess you could say… We headed over to the Red Fort (which was located like 2minutes from our hostel) to go look at that monument… unfortunately at this time it was closed because it is closed on Mondays! So we just stuck our heads through the gate to take some pictures! After we went to the Red Fort we went to this little market that was actually a Tibetan Refugee, where they just sold a lot of amazing things! It was interesting and they were all very nice! … we headed back to the hostel around 1300 or so and waited for our driver to the airport. We just sat around, used the internet (of course) for a little bit, and then were off to Delhi airport! Now the ride to the airport just seemed sooo long! Like an hour ugh, so over being in a car!! So this airport was actually a very nice airport, we really didn’t get to see it when we arrived… but it was relevantly big and very nice. They had a few shops and a good sized food court→ its just a whole different set up within the terminals though, since you board your flight not at the gate exactly but at the bus, I feel it just takes a huge amount of congestion of the airport away because you don’t have people just piling to get out! and it also was set up in 3 levels… check in, stores and security= 2nd floor or ground level, gates=1st floor, and food=3rd floor… I though that was nice… so once we arrived at the airport we just checked in and headed through security→ we ended up after just sitting in the food court because we had nothing better to do. our flight was called to board around 16:10 or so. So I decided to quickly head to the rest rooms before getting on the plane → more to just check it out and see the looks (thank goodness it was a westernized bathroom!) and then we boarded the bus to take us to the plane! We got on the plane and we were up in the air around 16:55! We were off and back to Chennai! The ride was relevantly quick I guess you could say… about 2-2½ hrs or so… the sun set from the plane view was BEAUTIFUL. It was like a multitude of rainbow colors, just so pretty! Most of the flight though I just did some homework, totally not fun but its okay. We landed around 19:30ish… we grabbed a cab and were off to the ship… so this cab ride was a FAB experience! We totally almost got into about 3 accidents… I think my heart stopped beating once or twice because I was so nervous! Our driver was crazy! And we were driving behind a bus, and he decided he did not feel like braking—yea no not cool at all… the first time it happened he decided to put his foot on the brake when we were less than an inch away from the bus’s back bumper!! This happened one or more times after this and it was just soooo scary! We all just like looked at one other and held our breaths. We also almost hit a motorcyclist… craziness!!! We finally… and most importantly SAFELY made it back to the ship around 20:15. We headed to our rooms to take a nice AMAZING much needed shower (saying none of us have not taken a real shower in three days and we were all disgusting gross with dirt and sweat caked on us haha.) After my awesomely amazing shower i headed to grab a quick bite at dinner and I was in bed pretty much by like 23:00 at the latest! What a long day but what a fabulous past few days in Delhi!!

Day 5 in India- so today is my last day in India! I awoke around 0700 for my trip to an Indian film production studio, Bollywood!! called →Prasad Film Studio<– which is one of the main film production companies in India. This trip was sort of an ‘optional’ requirement for one of my classes if that makes sense. It was pretty cool though, we first learned a little bit about the company itself and then we saw around the different areas of the studio. We saw a film and a video lab where we saw how they piece parts of movies together within just using film recording not digital recording. It was very interesting how all of it worked where as they can literally just cut the piece of film in half and reattach it to another piece of film and then we also got to see how and where the picture films and the voice films come together. It is crazy how they just roll and fit right together! it was pretty amazing to see… we also went into a recording studio where we saw how the sound was made and checked to make sure it fits correctly! It was crazy!! We got to see an actual set being built to→ now to see how in these films they literally use just pieces and scraps of whatever to make a set, now that was great… like to make a table, rather then use a regular table they used stumps from trees and blocks of wood, and it looked great! The set we saw looked more like a stage set but we did not know what they were going to be filming… I just found everything there very interesting. There wasn’t much more to the day, it was nice to learn and see how “Bollywood” works and films. It was a nice trip to end our time in India. We got back to the ship around 13:35 and most of us just headed upstairs to the dining hall to eat lunch. After lunch I pretty much just went back to my room and did some work… it was a long couple of days and I was ready to come in and relax.

So India… hmm… it has been an absolutely AMAZING experience. It is dirty, it is busy, it is congested, it was cultural, it was different, a change. I saw poverty and beggars, I saw wealth, I saw many people peeing on the side of the road, I saw crap (literally, it was gross and it smelled!) I saw more baby butts then can be imagined (just on the side of the road in their mothers arms, I don’t know if diapers aren’t used or aren’t affordable but I found that sad and interesting… I saw beggars→ both adults and children and it was so sad! I saw people without limbs, I saw people just trying to make a living off whatever, I saw people pulling and pushing these HUGE wagons, it was just crazy… I saw the area where the 2nd longest beach in the world is→ where the terrible and unfortunately 2004 tsunami hit, I saw very friendly people. I saw a whole different style of how to use a bathroom, how to shower, and how to live! I saw a whole different concept of the horn of a car, and of how to maneuver a car!!! Just driving in the car you get a whole sense of culture – you just are able to see SO much! I was scared, I was confused, I was lost, I was nervous, I was excited, I was READY! It was just an overall intense unbelievable amazing time! The only thing I am disappointed that I didn’t do was to try authentic Indian food, but I was nervous but I still got to have an unbelievable experience… I personally don’t think that India is a place that I’d go on vacation –not anytime soon at least- but it is a great place just to see overall… (and of course the Taj Mahal!) It has culture, it has life, it has just so much that I can’t really describe. I have tons and tons of pictures and videos and just looking at them it just like … wow! I am so glad that I had the chance to visit India→ even for just 5days! It was perfect though. I will say it was a hassle trying to book my tickets to fly to Delhi to see the Taj Mahal but it was just Totally Worth It! I was in one of the most populated placed in the world and it was a total eye opener… I saw another part of the world in a whole different way.. and like I said before, I just can’t wrap my finger around how it made feel. — I just know it was an experience to remember.