Friday, January 25, 2008

Native Indians of the U.S.

I joined some friends for an annual church retreat at the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and I enjoyed the nature there. Then someone asked whether I had seen an Indian before, I said they are from India and I have many Indian friends. I never knew that the so called natives or aborigines of North America are also called Indians, or American Indians. One day, my husband decided to take me to the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina which is located near the Smoky Mountains so that I would meet and learn about this tribe.

To view the video on the short introduction of the Oconaluftee Indian Village, click here. You will be able to see some pictures on this replica village of the 18th century depicted here.

I took pictures of the craftsmen at work. Here is a lady weaving a basket.

This man is working with some polished stones and I have forgotten what he was trying to do. Do you have any idea?

This group carved the wood from the tree and used the trough, pestle and mortar-like stuff. I think one man was trying to crush something. It is not easy to visualize or remember things that happened back in the 18th century.

It was a guided tour with demonstrations on tribal ceremonies, where history, culture and style of the Cherokee tribe were explained. I remember that the Trail of Tears was very tragic. The Cherokees were exiled from NC to Oklahoma and traveled on a forced march of six months in a bitter winter where many of them died along the way.

I felt the term "Indian" was confusing and found the answers to why native americans are called Indians here.

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Monday, January 14, 2008


I didn't take enough pictures as I was suffering from a bad spring allergy. I had red swollen eyes and a stuffy nose. However, I'm providing you with good links which give you good information and photo gallery of Taiwan. Enjoy.

Welcome to Taiwan which is also known as the Republic of China. It has a land area of about 36,000 sq. km (214,400 sq. miles) and a population of about 23 million people - source. It has a history of 400 years. My brother used to tell me that it has the shape of a sweet potato. See the map below.

Map Source

My brother worked in Taiwan and I went for a visit to be with his family and cooked his favorite food. He took me to Yangmingshan National Park, which has fresh air and beautiful landscape. The next place I went to was Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, which is surrounded by nice landscape of rocks, a bridge over a stream with carp for us to feed. Next to it is a huge square with colorful lights and fountains at night where the National Theater and Concert Hall are located.

I took this picture showing the changing of the guards in front of Chiang Kai Sheik Memorial Hall.

This is the picture of the Gate of Centrality which is between Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and the National Library.

As we go to places at night, we saw a few young betel nut girls with short skirts sitting behind the glass booth of the betel nut shops to attract customers.

We went to a couple of night markets including Shihlin Night Market for dinner. Most of the dishes were good. My brother was surprised that I ate the famous stinky tofu without complaining about the smell. I had a stuffy nose; not smelling, gave me a chance to enjoy it.

Here I am at Tamshui Ferry Terminal. The ferry provides on-board entertainment to its passengers as they travel between Tamshui and Pali. Overlooking the terminal is Kuanyin Island beautifully lit up at night. There are many shop arcades and restaurants near the banks of Tamshui River. We had some seafood at the restaurant and had our portraits sketched by the local artists.

I spent one day at the Theme Park called Window on China where there are replicas of the world's places of attraction. I took some pictures including the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore. I have never been to real Mount Rushmore in South Dakota yet. It appeared strange that I just left America for Taiwan and here I am in Taiwan taking pictures of America.
Replica of Mt. Rushmore

Replica of the Statue of Liberty

Goodbye everybody, we are continuing our walk to visit the Pharoah of Egypt and other world replicas. See you again!

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

London Sightseeing

I went to London alone, 3 days for work and I extended 4 days for sightseeing and to catch up with some long lost friends there. I could not stay longer as I had another assignment in another country. I wish I had the time to travel by Eurostar from London to Paris! It is said to be faster than the airplane and has been winning The World Travel Awards since 1998.

This is the famous Trafalgar Square to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at sea in The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. I do not understand why Nelson's Bronze Monument at the square attracts hundreds of doves. I traveled by tube (subway) and then got myself a day's pass on Hop On, Hop Off Double Deck Sightseeing Bus of London. It is very inexpensive because so many buses are in operation and you go to one place on one bus and after you are done, you show your ticket and get on the next bus, and continue for one whole day. The bus covers most London attractions including museums, palaces and shopping centers.

Picture Source

Here I am with my backpack for the day stopping at the Planetarium and Madame Tussauds. I bought a joint ticket to go to both.

I also went to see the "Crown Jewels" at the Tower of London which was once a prison, then a palace and now holds the Crown Jewels. They were the most precious and most attractive jewels I had ever seen in my entire life! You have to do some walking to get to the Tower.

Now I am at the Big Ben. This picture did not turn out well as the weather did not cooperate.
Now I am outside St. Paul's Catheral. I think I came here probably because Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana were married here that I wanted to see for myself how the church looked like.

The interior of the church is pretty but I was too late for the interior tour.

I didn't make it to the International Date Line See below if you do not want to click.
I took a train from Charing Cross to Kent to visit a few friends. I passed a place called the Seven Oaks. An old lady passenger told me it was the place Princess Diana came from. One bad hurricane had wiped out 4 oaks and today only 3 oaks are left. I thought it was interesting.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Western Australia

If you refer to the map of Australia, you will notice that most settlements are along the coast. Alice Aprings is in the heart of the desert. The reason for the dense settlement near the coast is that 67% of Australia is desert.

Map Source

Now I'm taking you to Perth and Fremantle in Western Australia. The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Perth is about 5 hours.

The following two pictures were taken on the Captain Cook Cruise along the Swan River to enjoy views of the port of Fremantle and scenic city of Perth. We joked, sang and fellowship among the 110-112 of us. I think we were noisy. I liked the deck.

Let's go to the Underwater World. If you are a qualified diver, you will have a chance to dive in the aquarium where visitors can see you through the acrylic tunnel.
The dolphins here are lovely and little. But I like the one in Hong Kong better.
If you have patience to watch the whales, you may try your luck. We had a big group of approximately 110-112 of us so it was not a good idea.

The tour operators took us to the Perth Mint and shopping. They recommended the famous Australian almond hard candy nuggets. I bought some nuggets. I also purchased a pair of gold earrings from the Mint.

We went to Fremantle Market to shop for souvenirs and some had our portraits sketched by the local artists. The market was founded in 1897. It is known as a famous shopping attraction for tourists. If you are interested in the rich history and cultural heritage of the market, click here. I was bored looking as the souvenirs for I had been to Australia before. So I went around to shop for something to eat. As always, I love the ice-cream. The line was long and I thought it must be pretty good and worth the wait. When I got my ice cream, the two tour buses were gone and I was left behind. I called the tour company and they requested me to go back to the apartment to rest and wait for the rest of them to get back.

I told myself, I'm not going to get back and feel sad or waste my time. I would make the best out of my solo experience. I walked to the nearest police station, requested for a map and advice on places to visit and off I went, taking a train and buses as I visited places on my own.
When I was on the overhead walkway of the railway station, I saw a band performance. I could not find the picture to show you. Sorry.

Then I went to see the black swans, a different place from my group. Here are the closed-up pictures of the swan; swimming normally and then decided to show off its acrobatic skills.

I strolled along the coast and saw many big trunked palm trees. I asked some local guys whether there was any specific reasons other than the shade and beauty. He explained that the coast is very proned to the Westerlies (wind) and the palm trees help to break the wind.
I did little things alone and talked to the local folks. I arrived at the secured apartment complex ahead of the rest of my co-workers and they caught me eating ice-cream again. They shared they had lunch and watched some black swans which did not perform any acrobatic. I was glad I didn't miss much. I shared what I did and some of them thought it wasn't a bad idea to be left behind by the pick-up bus.

If you have a small group or travel as a family, you may want to explore the desert in Western Australia on a jeep and see the limestone structures called the Pinnacles It is about 250 km (approx, 156 miles) from Perth.

Check out the season for bush flies in Western Australia. According to a local guy, you have to cover your mouth, fan your mouth or open it as small as possible when you talk so that the flies would not enter. I don't think you want to have a vacation dealing with the bush flies.

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