Monday, December 17, 2012

Our Australian Adventure

Right now, I'm watching my kids run (and I do mean run) around an empty airport in Hervey Bay, Australia.  It's not a big airport, and there are no flights for the next 2 hours.  There hasn't been a departure in over an hour, so we've had the place to ourselves since then.  It's surprising how many places kids can find to hide in an empty airport, and there's no one to mind the shrieks that come from the being found part of Hiding Seek (as B3 calls it).  I'm sure there are others here somewhere, but we're the only in-transit passengers.  The gift shop, information center, and snack counter have all been locked up until later this afternoon.

And so, our Australian adventure begins.  We left Singapore yesterday morning and flew to Sydney.  It was an uneventful trip, and we spent the night in an airport hotel before continuing on to Hervey Bay from Sydney this morning. Trying to get our two to sleep was a challenge, so I challenged them to The Quiet Game.  The winner got first dibs on the iPad for today's flight, and I actually thought it would work.  Unfortunately, only one chile grasped the concept, and the other shrieked, "The quietest gets the iPad first!"  over and over and over.

We're en route to Lady Elliott Island in the Great Barrier Reef, but we're stuck here in this tiny airport until our afternoon flight to the island.  If it's anything like the brochure, it will be a memorable two days of snorkeling and beach fun.  It's turtle nesting season, and I so hope we get to see them. Swimming with a sea turtle would be a fantastic introduction to The Reef!

So far, our Australian experience has been good. The shuttle to and from our airport hotel in Sydney was waiting on us when we needed it, so that saved us from waiting with two energetic kids.  We got to the airport extra early this morning to give us plenty of time to find the luggage storage counter since we couldn't bring all of our bags with us on this little side trip (our plane to Lady Elliott Island promises to me small and scary!). 

That "plenty of time" turned into just enough as I realized that I didn't have my wedding rings on when we were storing our bags.  Ben threw some Australian dollars at me as I raced to find a cab to take me back to the hotel. They were right where I had left them, and I returned to find the rest of the family eating breakfast.  Whew. 

The people watching is better than I imagined.  Of course, airports are always good for watching, but this has been fantastic. We even spotted The Tooth Fairy! Of course, I chased her through ticketing to take her picture.  (photo coming soon)

We're going to spend the next 2 weeks touring around a little corner of Australia, and we're excited about what's to come.  Honestly, we haven't done the best job of planning our activities; we were lucky to find accommodations along the route we planned. We waited until November to really start making plans, and it's peak tourist season here in the Australian Summertime. Still, we're sure to have a grand adventure!  Who knows how much (free) Internet we will find, but i hope to post as I can. I suppose that's one benefit of being stuck in an empty airport; there's no one to hog the wi-fi! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Move Over, Martha Stewart!

Today, AK was all smiles when she bounced off of the bus.  That's the way she nearly always is in the afternoons, so today was no different.  She immediately started telling me about a recipe she had that we just must try.  I thought I was paying attention, but suddenly I realized that I must have misunderstood something somewhere along the way as I tried to listen and keep B3's toes out of the pool as I walked.  Certainly she didn't just say "Rice Crispies", "chocolate", and "Velveeta" in the same sentence?

When I asked her where she got this fabulous recipe, she grinned and tapped her head.  "My brain!", she said proudly.  "I imagined it!" 

At supper time, I finally remembered to ask about it again. She was more than happy to dig it out of her backpack.

 It reads: 
 Majic Food
 [Those squiggles beneath 'Magic Food' are "what you always see coming out of a scientist's experiment..." she said]
1 cup rice crisBise
1 3/4 sugerr
2 cups choclet
 2 cups velveta
sugar in bowl

She's so excited to try her creation, so we've decided that Saturday will be Marion Test Kitchen Day.  We have cautioned, however, that we'll be making a trial run with much smaller amounts while trying to maintain proportions.  Perhaps tablespoons instead of cups will work.  I may be able to convince her to cut the sugar back a little, but the girl does have a sweet tooth.  

 I promise to let you know how the final product turns out.    If I survive the taste test!

Two More Temples (Siem Reap #4)

On our third day in Siem Reap, we finished our Temple Tour.  We could have spent a week or more going from temple to temple to temple, but that's not our idea of a great time.  We chose a few highlights and concentrated on those. 

First, we saw Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom means "Great City", and it was the 9 square kilometer capital city of the Khmer Empire in the 12th century.  At the city gate, we found an interesting mode of transportation:
 ...And the ever present junk for sale.  Taking this picture brought about eight pesky salespeople running to see what size t-shirt I needed.

All along the bridge across the mote, these faces line the walk.  AK and I had fun studying them, and she especially liked the ones missing noses (and that one in particular that seems upset about his missing snoot).  You can see where some have been restored, but many of them seem to be original. 

At the city gate:

 The gate itself wasn't the only thing to see. As usual, the people watching was spectacular.

 Tuk tuks lined up waiting on their tourists to return.

At the center of Angkor Thom is Bayon Temple, which is known now in our family simply as "Faces".  Sometimes it's B3's favorite temple we visited, and it's always AK's.  It was built in the 12th or 13th century, and it's simply incredible.

And again, we pay someone's salary for a day by having our photo taken with the Apsara dancers.  All of their shows in town were too late for us to enjoy after a long day of touring, so we settled for this. 
 The carved murals are really incredible.  The detail is amazing.
 Bayon Temple is in various stages of restoration.  All of these stones are waiting to be reassembled.  I can only imagine how long it will take...

 I couldn't stop taking pictures of the faces. There are 216 of them, and they're all different. Bayon was so crowded and hot when we visited, and it was a little difficult to enjoy it. But, those faces were enough to make it worth it. I might actually have photos of over half of the 216. Not really, but my family likely thought so as they waited for me at every turn.

 This face is always fun to look at, too!

 At one spot, we found a face to have a little fun with.  The sun was in the absolutely wrong spot for this, but it was good for a laugh.

As we were leaving, I noticed this lady's handbag.  She was impeccably dressed, and she looked as if she had just stepped out of a limo instead of a tuk tuk.  So, her choice of accessories made me laugh.  B3 would love for me to have one, though.  Who doesn't need a bag with cement trucks and dump trucks and tractors?  

After leaving Angkor Thom, we continued on to Ta Prohm Temple.  If you've ever seen a Siem Reap Temple on an ad or in a movie, it's likely to have been Ta Prohm.  Our guide said that some even call it the Angelina Jolie Temple because her movie, Tomb Raider, prominently features Ta Prohm.  I suppose Angelina deserves a tiny bit of credit for encouraging a little bit of positive press and tourism in the area, but that's about it.  Anyway, Ta Prohm's claim to fame is that when the temple was rediscovered, the trees weren't cleared off of it like they were on the others we visited.  The roots still drip and drape over the walls.  

This temple has been adopted by the Indian Government to restore and protect it. It was fascinating to watch the men work with 21st century tools and 12th century methods to recreate some parts of the temple. 

 And, as usual, we were escorted by little salesmen as we walked back to our van.  Relentless!

this tuk tuk driver got bonus points.  If he had been our driver, I would have admired his ingenuity but hesitated to wake him. 

That concluded our Temple Tour in Siem Reap!