MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

1. We wish you a merry Christmas,
We wish you a merry Christmas,
We wish you a merry Christmas,
And a Happy New Year!

Refrain
Good tidings we bring for you and your kin;
We wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

2. Now bring us some figgy pudding,1
Now bring us some figgy pudding,
Now bring us some figgy pudding,
And a cup of good cheer! Refrain

3. We all like our figgy pudding;
We all like our figgy pudding;
We all like our figgy pudding;
With all its good cheer.2 Refrain

4. We won’t go until we get some
We won’t go until we get some
We won’t go until we get some
So bring it out here!3 Refrain

5. We wish you a merry Christmas,
We wish you a merry Christmas,
We wish you a merry Christmas,
And a Happy New Year!
And a Happy New Year! Refrain

Atheists, Christians and Muslims

Learn to live with each other and accept each other or please just shut the fuck up!  As a person who thinks all of your belief systems or lackthereof is mere fantasy, scifi mumbo jumbo, I could care less which of you wins in the end.

As long as you leave me the fuck alone and let me live my life they way I see fit.  I don’t care how you do or do not worship.  Nor do I care how pathetically hypocritical you each live your beliefs and lives.


I’m a fairly vocal individual about my beliefs. I’ve rarely had anyone challenge me or attempt to do me harm because of them.   I’ve argued/debated with Muslims, Atheists, Christians, Mormons, Buddhists and a Zoroastrian or two. Though, I’ve never had a Jehovah’s Witness with the balls to stick around and discuss religion with me.

Where the fuck is all of this discrimination?

Maybe I’m just a dickhead who scares the shit out of people. Fuck, I don’t know. I’ve just never had anyone come at me and tell me that since I do not believe as they do that I can’t have this job or join in on this outing or this party or what have you. If they did, they’d feel my dissatisfaction immediately.

I don’t remember a situation in school where my beliefs really mattered for shit. We didn’t pray in school. When I was 5-12 in Elementary School, I vaguely remember reciting the Pledge of Allegiance out loud. Can’t remember when it stopped. I didn’t give a fuck about it.  Though, sometimes, it made me feel proudly patriotic and gave me a good positive vibe for the rest of the day.   I stood up and looked at all the cute girls around me and attempted to stifle yawns and keep the snot from rolling out of my nose and down my chin as I mouthed the words.

Where the fuck do all of these things happen?

Was I just lucky?

We had Black, White and Asian classmates at Franklin Elementary School. We had a kid named Israel and I thought it was a cool name because of it’s Biblical associations. Had a Black Girl named Jerry Butler. She had a guys name and we sometimes teased her because of it. We had a guy named Stacy and we teased him because he had a girls name.  We had a girl who always had boogers hanging from her nose and she liked to pick them and eat them. We had two really cute girls who were all the rave. We had one guy who smelled like poop whom we called “Poopy Pants Jones.” We had one gal who had buck teeth at whom we sometimes yelled “Barbara Ward…phuh phuh…Bugs Bunny….phuh phuh!!!”  (She grew up to be quite pretty, if I remember correctly.  Though, I’ve not seen most of these people in over two decades.)

We had a couple of girls and boys who were extremely bright and whom everyone always thought would go places….some did and one went exactly weird but followed his own path and is doing quite well.

I was a solitary little fucker who had enough friends but didn’t really study hard and was shy as ten motherfuckers so I wouldn’t participate in much because it freaked me out. I’m sure there were a few people like me. I’d do just well enough to get along and for people to leave me alone.

Most of us experienced a bully or two or a situation that was embarrassing or two or three or four experiences of that sort.

Shit like that.  Normal fuckin’ life situations.

None of us filed a fucking lawsuit. None of us committed suicide. None of us brought a fuckin’ gun to school and started shooting motherfucker’s whom we didn’t like or who had bullied us.  Though, now that I’m 210lbs and 6′ and can bench most than most fucks my age, there is one guy whom I’d like to go back and bitch slap.  Just for old times sake.

And I came from a family with an Alcoholic father. I moved something like 40 fuckin’ times from birth to HS grad. Damn near half of the kids from my youth had family problems ranging from abusive fathers to absentee parents to drunken alcoholic fathers.  We didn’t kill our teachers because of it or go postal or whine for two decades about it.  We drove the fuck on!

I still do not recall a single instance of anyone giving a fuck if I were an atheist or a Christian or a fuckin’ Muslim. Though, I do recall one Muslim family at Barrett Middle School or Ballard HS. I think they were immigrants from Indonesia.  And I thought they were vaguely interesting and exotic because of their religion.   I’ve always thought that Jehovah’s Witnesses were strange.  All secretive and whatnot.  But I didn’t unfriend Sam when I learned that he was one.  Hell, I grew up Pentecostle.  You want to talk about fuckin’ strange.  Folks runnin’ up and down the aisle like they’re possessed.  Yelling in fake languages.  “Hikama Hakama…seekama sockama!  YOU”RE HEALED!!!”

Jimmy Swaggert bopped my head so hard “healing” me that I thought it was gonna pop off and roll down the aisle like a bowlin’ ball.

When I lived in Atlanta for a few months one year. I think when I was 13 or 14, we moved into a place that had boatloads (pun intended) of immigrants from all over. We had Hindus, Muslims and fuckin’ everything else.

I don’t recall anyone really giving a fuck about anyone’s religion.

Why, over the past two decades, when we’re supposed to be such a fuckin’ tolerant goddamn society has this become such an issue?

It seems to me that people just want to feel special. So instead of just sucking it up when they say the Pledge of Allegiance and assigning their own meaning to “God” or saying “one Nation,……., indivisible”….now they want everyone to know and acknowledge that they’re fuckin’ special and that they believe or don’t believe this or that.

Who gives a fuck?

Suck it up.

A Manger scene at a Fire Station. I pass one up and I think; “Fuck! It’s already Christmas!” I don’t think; “Those fucking CHRISTIANS! They can’t get away with this! I’m filing a goddamn motherfuckin’ goddamn law suit!”

FUCK ME!

TOLERANCE MY ASS!!!!

INTOLERANCE IS WHAT THIS SHIT IS ALL ABOUT!

These fucks want everyone else to “tolerate” them as they go out of their way to be intolerable to everyone else.

FUCK ALL OF THESE BASTARdS!!!

MERRY FUCK YOU! ONE AND ALL!!!!

HAHAHAAHHAHHAHAHAHAHAH

God damn that felt good…

I’m in Kabul. Again…

This is an old post that I had made private due to the Military.

____________________________________________

My holiday has commenced. I woke at 5 a.m. to grab a ride with the SECFOR. Got to the Herat airport shortly thereafter. I was supposed to fly with Kam Air to Kabul. As I was waiting for my flight, fortune smiled on me. There was an Italian PRT flight preparing to depart for Kabul via Chagcharan. PRT flights are run by NATO. Mostly Spanish or Italian. This flight was scheduled to depart at 0800. So I was excited to be getting out early and without the hassle of flying with Kam Air.

The Kam Air flight was supposed to depart at 0900. I’m guessing that it probably landed in Herat at 12 noon. Typically late.

I signed up for the PRT flight. We departed at approximately 0900. The aircraft for Kam Air hadn’t shown up yet.

During the flight, a rather ancient Afghani fellow sat next to me on the flight. Apparently, he had never flown before. I had to buckle his seat belt for him. During take off and each time we hit turbulence of any sort, this fellow reaches across and grabs the seat in front of him and white knuckles it. It was a little humorous. I felt sorry for the guy though. He was pretty frightened. Once we landed, he jumped to the ground and wouldn’t let go of the aircraft.

So now, I’m in Kabul. I need to get pages added to my passport (again). Monday, I’m off to Dubai.

A few days later, I’ll be standing in front of the Taj Mahal with my brand new Olympus e-Volt SLR. Awesome.

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As an aside, I have to wonder why everything that involves the US military is such a hassle. With US Mil Air, you have to sign up 3 days in advance. You need two copies of your orders. One must be “officially” stamped. Then you must show up 4 hours early for your flight to get manifested with the “officially” stamped orders and ID Card in hand. Then stick around for four hours waiting for the aircraft to show or be cancelled. They collect all ID cards as you are manifested. In order to board the aircraft you must wait until they call off your name and return your ID Card. When you land, they collect you ID Card again. You have to wait for another 30 minutes to an hour to get it back and your bags may take an hour.

NATO PRT. I showed up expecting to take a commercial flight. Asked if I could hop on the PRT flight. They said sure and took my name down on his list. I waited about two hours and boarded the aircraft. 90 minutes later, I was in Kabul. I exited the aircraft. A German ground controller escorted us off the tarmac. He asked who was continuing on to other destinations and told the rest of us to have a nice day.

Bureaucracy. Idiocracy. US Mil Air.

HABIBI

HABIBI

If I could have just one wish,
I would wish to wake up everyday
to the sound of your breath on my neck,
the warmth of your lips on my cheek,
the touch of your fingers on my skin,
…and the feel of your heart beating with mine…
Knowing that I could never find that feeling
with anyone other than you.

From Cairo to Istanbul in 28 Days

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We flew from Bangkok to Cairo on the 21st of September.  On the first day, we tripped around to Giza and the City of the Dead.  Later that evening, we took the train to Aswan.  Along the way, we stopped at Abo Simbel, Luxor, Karnak, Philae, Deendeera, Abydos, Hurghada and finally flew to Alexandria.  We spent two days touring Alexandria.  Taking in the new Library of Alexandria and Fort Qutbay as well as the Greek and Roman Catacombs under the city.  We drove from Alex. back to Cairo where we toured the city in detail (Muhammad Ali Mosque, the Giza Plateau, Pyramids and Sphinx, Saladin’s Citadel, etc).  We also took in Sakkara and Memphis and viewed the Red and Bent Pyramids as well as the Alabaster Sphinx and the Statue of Ramses II along with the Ziggurat of Zoser and the surrounding pyramids.

Then we were off to Israel.  We spent about 5 days in Jerusalem viewing the old City and took day tours out to Nazareth, Akko (Acre), Ceaserea, the Dead Sea, the Jordan River and Masada.  We met an old friend (Mali) from my days in the MFO in the Sinai.  And we got the excellent airport treatment for which Tel Aviv is so famous.  But that’s a story for another day.

Finally, we were on to Turkey.  I wanted to see the Hagia Sofia.  Primarily.  That said, I was a bit anxious about Turkey.  I’ve been to quite a few Muslim countries and Islam hangs over them like a pall.  I don’t particularly care for it.  It’s quite heavy and puts a damper on things.  Israel did not have this except in the Palestinian areas of the Old City in Jerusalem.

We arrived in Turkey and I was quite pleasantly surprised.  Islam is an undercurrent in Istanbul.  They’re Muslim.  You know it.  They know it.  No one gives a damn.  I like that.  It’s how it should be with all religion and it’s how it is in most non-Muslim places.

It was refreshing.  I don’t think I saw but 10 Chadori/Hijab wearing women and they all seemed to be tourists.  Nothing oppressive in Turkey about religion.  They seem to all get along.  I met quite a few Nestorian Christians and they had the same attitude.  We’re Christians.  So what!  There’s none of the demand that their religion be respected at all cost.  I like that.

Turkey was clean as well.  That’s another thing about Muslim countries.  They’re dirty and run down.  Even newer places.  It’s as if Allah has declared that “thou shalt not do maintenance.”  lol  Cairo is the worst.  They built the city hundreds of years ago atop ruins.  They didn’t remove anything.  They cleared no land.  Just started building atop the rubble.  When those buildings started falling apart, they just built around them.  And the dirt and grime.  It’s everywhere.

Not so in Istanbul.  It’s a beautifully maintained city.  Clean streets.

And the people.  Everyone was so nice.  And they smiled.  Very few mean spirited folks or scammers around.  As a matter of fact, I can’t remember anyone even attempting a scam on us.  We asked directions when we were lost and we were simply given directions.

The food was great as well.  They had these pancakes with beef or veggies or jellies. Whatever you wanted.  AND THEY WERE DELICIOUS.  Of course, the Lamb Kabob was excellent.  I ate so much kabob, I thought I was going to explode.

The Hagia Sofia or Aya Sofia was wondrous.  Incredible.  Amazing.  It was gargantuan.  The famous religious depictions were beautiful.  Centuries old Art.

The Blue Mosque or Suleimein.  One of the most beautiful structures I have had the pleasure to visit.  More lovely inside than the Mohammad Ali Mosque in Cairo.  Insanely intricate and well maintained as well.  Simply beautiful.  Can’t say it enough.

We walked around the city several times. Stopped by a few museums.  The Istanbul Archaeological Museum was huge.  Relics from Troy, Persia, the Ottomans, the Greeks, the Romans, and everything in between.  It was amazing.

Then we went up the hill to the Topkapi Palace.  I didn’t know much about it.  I knew it was supposed to be gorgeous and historical.  I hadn’t researched it.  We almost didn’t go.  Huge mistake.  If you make it to Istanbul, you must go to the Topkapi Palace.   Aside from it’s beauty and historocity.  It has what are called “The Sacred Trusts.”

The Sacred Trusts are actual artifacts handed down (or stolen) from Empire to Empire from the time of Mohammad.  His clothing.  His water bowl.  The plates off of which he ate.  And not only Mohammad.  There are relics from Fatima and “the Companions.”

That is some serious history.

There are also pieces of the Kaba’a from Mekkah and old keys and locks to the Kaba’a and the Grand Mosque there in Mekkah.

Treasures all.

I could scarcely believe my eyes when I walked in this room.  When I laid my eyes upon the Sword of Mohammad, I thought I was seeing things.  I had to rub my eyes.  Take my glasses off and clean them and take a second to let it sink in.

Imagine finding the sword of Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great.  Imagine finding the actual clothing that Jesus wore or the actual cup and plate from the last supper.

I’m no believer in any of these religions, but, I have a keen interest in history.  As a personality from an earlier age and a great historical interest, I have much respect for Mohammad.  He built an empire from nothing.  He created a religion and a culture which has lasted for over 1300 years.  It’s not his fault that his religion and his culture has been hi-jacked by complete asses like Osama bin Laden, the House of Saud and the followers of al Wahhab.  That’s not to mention the Iranian fools.  And, still yet, it doesn’t take into account the idiotic Apologists in Europe and America who sell their lies to an ignorant populace.

At any rate, it was a singular experience for me to be able to gaze upon the Swords that Mohammad and his companions used to rise up out of the desert and plant the seed that created one of the worlds greatest empires.

I was awe stricken.

After Istanbul, it was on to Ephesus to see the Greek Ruins, the House of Mary where Jesus’ Mother supposedly lived out her last days and the Temple of Artemis.  Next day it was on to Pammakule.   These places are so full of history and culture that there is no possible way for me to do them justice.  The Temple of Artemis is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

In this trip, we’d been fortunate enough to visit 3 of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.  The Temple of Artemis, The Pharos of Alexandria (Fort Qutbay) and the Pyramids at Giza.

In my estimation, Abo Simbel is a great worthy of this acclamation as well.  Abo Simbel is a wonder of any age much less to marvel that it was built thousands of years ago.  But then again, Egypt is full of wonders that defy description, dazzle the eye and boggle the mind.

From Cairo to Istanbul in 28 Days.  This was a great trip and we all very much enjoyed ourselves.

Hope you enjoy the pictures…Dave

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(some of the pics in the slideshow are from earlier trips to Paris, Rome, Athens, Santorini, etc)

 

 

Lao Hill Tribe Dolls

I ran across these dolls in at the Night Bazaar in Luang Prabang, Laos.

I started laughing when I saw them.  My first thought was; “Damn!  Those wouldn’t go over well back in the States at all!”  lol  They bring to mind the Amos and Andy black face characters of the early 1900s.  Racially sensitive folks would immediately say; “Oh my!  Those dolls are RACIST!”  Then I thought to myself.  Damn, I gotta have those!  lol  They’re cute.  I didn’t purchase them on my first trip through Luang Prabango, though.  I just had to grab them on my second trip this past April.  Could no longer resist.  Unny thought they were cute.  That clinched it for me.

They’re cute dolls and representations of the Hill Tribe folk BY the Hill Tribe Folk and sold BY the Hill Tribe Folk.  Take that for what it’s worth.  They’ve nothing to do with Africa or African Americans.  Nothing racist about them Momma, so no worries.  haha

Our trip through Laos was awesome.  We did the total backpacker thing.  Took buses to different cities.  We stayed in the cheapie hotels.  We broght with us nothing except what we could carry on our backs.  No extra bags (until we made a purchase or two).  We tooled around Luang Prabang for a few days.  We saw some amazing temples.  I sent around a few pics of these via email and on facebook earlier.  I’ll get around eventually to going through them all and placing them in a new post or just edit them into this one.  After that, we bussed down to Vang Vieng.  There we went kayaking and I added to my Buddha collection.  A little cheap one that the lady said was no more than 5 years old.  It was unique enough that I liked it.  I’ve got enough of the regular, run of the mill Buddha statues in my collection.  Looking for something unique now.

When Unny and I went kayaking, I wore my iPod.  Big Mistake.  I’ve been kayaking before and never went under.  This was Unny’s first time, however.  So!  We went under.  The water was calm.  So I wasn’t really paying attention.  Another mistake.  We rolled on our first small rapid.  Hit a pretty large rock.  The water at this point was about 8 feet deep.  Not too deep for someone who can swim.  Unny is not a great swimmer, though.  When we rolled, my only thought was “GET UNNY!”  She was wearing a life jacket.  So she floated.  Initially, though, she went under and you could see the panic in her eyes at first.  She go the hang of it quick enough.  A little adventure for her.  My iPod got the worst of it.  Totally immersed and stopped working.  (with the help of nephew Benjamin and some rice, though, it’s back in working order….thanx Ben).  The rest of the kayak excursion went smoothly.  I tried to race the guide and damn near killed someone.  Unny kept getting nervouse when we would stray to far ahead of him.  She thought we’d get lost on the river.  I fugured he could out kayak me to hell and back and that when he needed to get up on us, he would. I tried to race him near the end.  We got going pretty fast and I think I bulled ahead of him pretty good but I couldn’t attain speed while directing the kayak and damn near rammed him and some other river traveler.  lol

After that, we just hung out around town.  Shopped a bit and made ready for our trip to Vientiene.

At Vientiene, we saw all of the usual spots.  Patuxai ~ the Lao Arc de Triomphe, Pha That Luang ~ the huge Golden Monument that’s built over the spot that supposedly contained a breast bone of the Buddha, Wat Si Saket.  We even made it down to Xieng Khuan, the Buddha Park.  We also got off the beaten track a bit as is my wont.  We were heading up to Patuxai.  I decided it was time for one of my infamous side tracks.  It was hot and I was tired of being on the main streets.  As we walked down these alley ways, we passed by locals.  You could get a glimpse of how these folks really live.  It’s bare essential except for the occasional TV or radio.  All electricity that I could see was provided by generators.  I don’t know why they weren’t allowed or couldn’t access the city electricity.  As we walked along, I passed a little house with a little girl inside.  I smiled and she didn’t seem to notice me.  I kept moving.  I got about ten feet further along and suddenly I heard “FALANG! FALANG!  FALANG!”  I didn’t catch what she was saying at first. She repeated; “FALANG FALANG FALANG!”  At this point, I knew that she had to be talking to me.  The only other non-Lao person there was Unny and she wouldn’t be calling Unny “falang.”  So I turned around and smiled and waved to her.  I wish that I had something to give to her.  I’ll have to make a point to carry around candies next time we’re out.  She was cute and it made me smile.

Of course, we did a bit of shopping.  Unny bought some local handicrafts (purses) and I bought a Buddha and a Water Buffalo horn with Buddha carved on it.

After three days in Vientiene, we headed for home.  It was a nice little adventure that we both enjoyed.

Money!

I’m not a numismatists or serious collector of coins and notes.  Not by any means.  Even so, I usually grab a few notes and/or coins when I’m traveling.  The part that is cool for me is to find old money that is still in circulation.  The old Mao notes in China.  Older notes in Thailand that have an earlier version of King Bhumipol.  The notes in Cambodia that highlighted the various peoples and ethnic minorities or have varying versions of Angkor Wat and other sites. The notes used in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, the Civil War and the Taliban eras.

These notes convey a sense of history to me.  They’re part of the fabric of the history of these lands. That fascinates me. I’ve monies of varying sorts from nearly every country that I’ve visited plus a few other notes that were gifts from the homelands of folks whom I’ve met out on the road.

These are a collection of items from Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.  The Lao and Khmer notes, I picked up in Luang Prabang, Vieng Vang and Vientiene (Laos).  The Thai notes were given to me by Unny’s parents.  She was telling them that I had a crazy fascination with money so that brought me some from her Grandfather’s house.  Some of the notes are pretty old with the oldest dating to the 1920s.

The coins are all Thai with the exception of the old French Indochine Piastres.  They are probably fakes, but, they were too cool to pass up.  I tested them as I have been instructed.  The ring test and the obverse/reverse line test.  They actually passed those test.  Even so, they were much to cheap and felt too light to be solid silver coins of that size.  Perhaps, I’ll have them checked one day.  I don’t care if they are real or not.  They look cool and that’s all I’m interested in at this point.

Rambling Through Laos

Spent the past week in Laos on my Visa run.

Had a great time with Unny.  Can’t wait to do it again.  It’s so cool traveling with her.  Everything seems more enjoyable to me.

We spent a couple of days doing the backpacker gig.  Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiene.  Kayaking and drowning in the Nam Khan!  Then we flew back home and the plane damn near kills us…well, the pilot or the wind

But we made it and I laughed my ass off while the girl next to me puked her guts out!

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Malalai and Sierra’s First Day Out

Unny and I decided that we needed to get them out.  Take them to the park.  Try to get them to poo somewhere else besides my Afghan rugs.  So we packed them up into my Afghan pack and rolled out.

We attempted to go to the Lumpini Park first.  No Dogs Allowed!

Next.

We head over to Suan Roe Fai (Old Rail Way) Park.  Technically no dogs allowed there either.  But we snuck them in.

We rented some bikes and tooled on over to a secluded and shaded area in the park.  I let my babies out of my backpack and watched their reaction.  I think they were in shock from the ride. They just sat there.  Scared.  Intimidated by their surroundings.  I forced the issue.  I put their leashes on and pulled them along.  Malalai wasn’t having any part of it.  I had to drag her for a bit and afterward she’d just stop and sit there.  Refusing to sally forth into new territory.  Sierra was a bit more adventurous.  She roamed around a bit.  She followed me and I didn’t need to pull her but every so often to make her move.

When we left, we placed them in the baskets and rode them back to the park entrance.  I had to lock Sierra onto the basket because she kept trying to climb out.  Malalai simply sat there and looked around until we neared the front of the park.  She started getting a little more interested at about that time.  So I held her with one hand and steered the bike with the other.

There were funny.  I laughed.  They whined.  I laughed some more.

Things I noticed.

Thai people really seem to love dogs.  Everyone pointed and talked about our pups.  Everyone was interested.  The Taxi drivers had absolutely no problem picking us up with our dogs. The ones who drove us to the parks seemed to actually enjoy having our pups along for the ride.

It was hot.

I think three crows were interested in making more than casual acquaintance with Malalai and Sierra.  I had to shoo them away twice.  I think they wanted a nice little snack.

The Red Shirts were out in force.  Don’t know if it was full force but there were a lot of them.  They were announcing over their hand held bull horns that today was not a day for Red Shirts or Yellow Shirts but a day for Democracy.  Apparently, the Reds love their King and aren’t bothered by the dichotomy of love for a King and love for Democracy.  Kind of schizo if you ask me or it may simply be that they haven’t thought through their actions to the full spiritual, emotional and political extent.  It’s their country.  I’m simply a guest.  It’s an observation.

Malalai and Sierra were or seemed to be dizzy and in calm shock for most of the trip and were exhausted afterwards.  We took them for their 2nd and 3rd car ride.  1st moto taxi ride.  1st bike ride.  1st trip to a  park.

I accidentally knocked Sierra into a creek or tributary of some sort to the Chao Phraya.  She didn’t like that too much.  I placed Malalai into the basket of my bike.  She just lay down and went to sleep.  I did the same thing with Sierra.  She moved around too much and the bike crashed to the ground.  That might be why she kept trying to climb out of the basket later.

A bird strafed Malalai while she was sleeping in the basket of the bike that I had rented for the park.  Funny but disgusting and I had to clean her.

On the way back in the taxi, both of them fell asleep on me.  Malalai on my leg.  Sierra on my shoulder.

They were cute.  It was a nice day at the park for all of us.   When we arrived back to the Condo and I let them out of my backpack, they looked around as if to say; “How’d we get back here.”  Then they took a nap.

Big day out for our Pups.  I think they enjoyed it.  I know Unny and I did.

A night out in Frankfurt!

Rocked it with my little Bro in Frankfurt GE.  Sometimes, it seemed like we were in the Turkish Province of Frankfurt.  lol  Kinda like walking around in parts of Northern VA wherein one could be forgiven for thinking that one was somewhere in Southeast Asia.

I kinda liked that about Northern Va, though.  lol

We were out walking all day and we decided that we wanted to hit Hard Rock Cafe.  Only problem.  There is no HRC in Frankfurt.  They do have them in Cologne, Munich and Berlin.  Just not Frankfurt.

We jumped in a cab.  Told him HRC.  He acted like he knew where it was.  We drive past the Hauptbahnhof and through a shopping district and arrive at this place called Wallyz.  The Cab driver swears up and down that it’s HRC.

Turns out that he was half correct.  Wallyz used to be a bootleg HRC.  Looked like it.  Served food like it.  Even had the same name.  Just different enough to avoid copyright infringement.

That placed closed down and was replaced by Wallyz Irish Pub.  Wallyz looked cool enough and they were playing futbol on the “telly.”  So we pulled up a stool, got some eats and a few drinks.

Jonathan brought his camera along and we took pics of random stuff and we did some of those silly jumping pictures that I love so much.  lol  Enjoyed ourselves, thoroughly.

All Around Beijing ~ From the Forbidden City to the Summer Palace in 7 Days

I went off to China again.  Unny and I spent 7 days in Beijing and then went on to Xi’an.  The pics below are all from Beijing.  We popped around the city, traveled by taxi, subway, train and the little three wheel taxi the name of which I can’t recall right now.

We had a great time.  Spoke to a few pf pir Chinese neighbors and generally trotted around the city as safely as if we were in the States.  Beijing has to be one of the safest cities in the world.  There are Army and Police all over the place.  Everywhere you look.  Even with them trolling around everywhere, I never felt like Big Brother was watching.  Though, I’m sure that they were.  There are cameras in every building and seemingly in every corner of the city.  I didn’t see as many in Xi’an.  Neither the police nor the cameras were as ubiquitous.

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Above is a picture of the Buddha from the Lama Temple.  It’s the tallest Buddha in the world carved from one piece of wood.  One big tree.  They wouldn’t let us take a picture, so I had to google this one to post here.  It’s a beautiful and serene temple.  Peaceful.  Incense burning continuously.  Smoke billowing around the altars.  Buddhist pilgrims wandering around paying homage to Buddha and his principles.  It’s a beautiful feeling.  Peace all around.

We walked out of the Lama Temple to grab something to eat and then catch a bus.  After we ate, we passed a Camel shote store.  Camel seems to be a Chinese version of Timberland.  Same look and same line of clothing and shoes.  Apparently, China not only bootlegs electronics by whole clothing lines as well.  Unny had been walking around in these thin shoes.  They’d rubbed her heel raw in one place that was starting to get nasty.  I’d told her that she needed better shoes, but, she wouldn’t listen.  This time, though, I  put the full press on.  There’s no way that she could climb the Great Wall with those shoes.  I tried and tried to reason with her and get her to buy a pair of hiking shoes.  Finally, I prevailed.  So when we passed the Camel Store, I asked her again.  When I described the Great Wall to here again.  Reason finally prevailed.  Thank God.  Her feet would have frozen on the Wall in those little thin shoes that she brought with her.  We walked into the Camel Store.

I walked in the store and started laughing.  They had some groovy music playing, so I started to dance around the store like a wild man.  Jumping and gyrating.  The ladies in the store were laughing.  Unny, though, is a little shy.  So she kept telling me to stop.  I just kept going and laughing.  Unny finally just started trying on shoes.  She bought her shoes.   I bought a jacket.  We decided to take a taxi to the Hostel.

Our 7 days in Beijing were nothing less than incredible.  Some days we froze our butts off and some days, we were enjoying ourselves so much that the cold just didn’t matter.

The Confucius Temple was being renovated last time I was there as were major parts of hte Forbidden City.  So I was able to see before and after versions.  The Chinese artisans did amazing work.  The Confucius Temple was beautiful.  I love how peaceful all of these temples are.  The Forbidden City looked much the same.  Immense and awe inspiring but with a new paint job.

It’s funny.  Walking around Beijing, you don’t get the feeling that you are in a communist country.  It’s very commercial.  Very consumer oriented.  The major difference is in employment.  You can tell that the Chinese create jobs.  They still operate on a mass project basis.  Mass employees over taking an area and getting the job done.  Whereas in the West or more modernized nations, we have machinery and automation that takes the place of mass numbers of people.   Aside from that, the police for the average tourist are just curiosities.  As are the Military men and women walking about.  You don’t really feel any oppressive weight bearing down on you.  The Facebook thing is an obvious clue that you are in a totalitarian country.  Xi’an had an even more open feel.  Out there, there was almost no presence and Xi’an had a fairly large Muslim population.  I wondered at that as I was walking round.  They all seemed fairly content in their lives.  Who knows.  I didn’t sit down and talk to them about it.  Although, I did have an interesting conversation with a girl who works in a Shop/Cafe down by the Xi’an Mosque (more on that later).

Unny and I had a great time.  That’s what mattered for us.

More later.  For now.  Here are some photos from the first few days in China.  Hope you enjoy.

Jinshanling and Simitai

These are the pics from our day at the Great Wall.  What a cool day!

I screwed up a bit, though.  I had my camera on an off setting.  The pics aren’t as good as they could be.  I’ll try to fix some later.

For now, these will do.

At the end of the portion of the Wall that we trekked, we took a wire rope bridge ride to the bottom.  Much faster and saved us about 20 minutes more walking.  That and it was really fun and cool.  Hook up, jump and zoom…to the bottom in seconds.

Once we made it to the bottom and re-joined our group, we headed off to have lunch.  I think it took us about 3 hours to walk the 10 kilometres from Jinshanling to Simitai.  I was ready for a nap afterwards.  We headed back to the hotel and napped for most of the rest of the day.

The next day, Unny stayed in while I went out to see the Marco Polo Bridge.  It’s a bridge described and made famous by Marco Polo’s writings of his journey in China and on the Silk Road.

Later that night, Unny and I took in a Chinese Acrobatic show.  It was a great show.  The acrobats ranged in age from what looked like 12 to 21 or so.  A hugely talented group of young folks.  We thoroughly enjoyed the show.