11 years ago today the history of our country changed in a devastating and drastic way. As I sat in my 9th grade English class watching the twin towers crumble, I had no idea how significant that event would be in history and in my life.
Fast forward to 2012. I sat this morning, again watching those towers fall, but this time as a 1st grade teacher in Japan, on a military base. September 11th has such a different, deeper meaning for me now. I remember with sadness the heroes who so bravely sacrificed their lives for each other that day, and the swelling of American pride that emerged from the rubble of the towers. Today my heart is heavy in remembrance for those lives lost, those left behind, and for the families who are still feeling the loss of life and presence of their loved ones who are off serving in the deployments that began as a result of that day. But in the midst of so much pain and fear, I remember feeling hope. I felt hope for humanity, as I recalled the firefighters fighting their way into burning buildings, policemen and volunteers scouring the wreckage for signs of life, the passengers on the hijacked planes, the bravery of the thousands of people within the towers, and the outpouring of American support after the attack. We are one country, full of diversity, but united. I love my country. I love it's colors, and my flag. As I experience so many cultures and people around Asia, I am humbled and so, so proud to be an American.
I also find myself thankful, because Turf finally made it home safely from Afghanistan three weeks ago.
Saturday, August 4, 2012
My dad and Tami had a wonderful visit in Okinawa. We snorkeled and saw a lot that even I had not seen yet. Turf and I spent the first year (completely my own fault) visiting the inner island sites and historical places on Okinawa. While my dad was here we were able to go up North to Nago, visit Sesoko Island and Minna Jima island for some snorkeling, head down South to the Okinawa Naval Underground Headquarters and Peace Prayer Park, check out American Village, go camping at Okuma, and eat some great food- maybe some of the most consistent food they had on their whole trip to Asia :)
The last leg of their journey was a 4 day stay in Hong Kong, and I of course couldn't pass up the opportunity to join them! Any excuse to travel!
The first day we took the Star Ferry over to Hong Kong Island. We stayed on the opposite side of Victoria Harbor in Kowloon at the Salisbury YMCA. Yes, YMCA! It had a gorgeous view of the harbor and the symphony of lights show.
My synopsis of Hong Kong: The skyline and views are incredible. There is so much to see and do, but honestly, after traveling around in Taipei, Tokyo, and Bangkok, the culture and things I'm seeing are very similar. Of course, there are differences, and I think Hong Kong was a great place to visit, but the highlight for me was definitely the skyline. Hong Kong has a great transportation system and has by far been the easiest for me to navigate. Lodging and food are out of this world expensive.
|View of Hong Kong from the Avenue of Stars|
Really though, those people had a talent for creating bouquets of artwork. The colors and smells of the fresh flowers was amazing.
|Tian Tin Buddha|
It was an amazing trip and I'm so glad I got to spend more time with my dad and Tami. Thank y'all for coming out to visit me in Asia! I can't wait to see you guys again!
Our final leg of the journey was in Bangkok, Thailand. Bangkok was a crazy change from Phuket and Chiang Mai. The hustle and bustle of the city life was amazing, and we got to see some of the best sites in Bangkok. Our first stop was the imperial palace.
Thailand is an interesting country. They claim to be "democratic", yet there are many scandalous secrets within the government and royal family. The country is also sensored: they face jail time if they speak ill of the royal family, they are not allowed to watch some movies, including The King and I, because it is a movie about one of the former kings, but is based around a love story. Our tour guide became really uncomfortable answering our questions about the royal family-they have to be very careful to always talk about them in a positive light.
It was amazing to see some of the housing that people lived in in Bangkok, and incredibly humbling. Houses balanced on teetering stilts sticking out from the mucky river. It was amazing the stilts weren't rotting away, and the houses collapsing into the river. It made me feel very lucky to have grown up in America (a feeling I get the longer I spend in Asia).
|Houses on stilts in the river|
|The steep climb up Wat Arun|
|View of Bangkok|
All in all, a great experience. One that made me especially thankful for clean butcher shops.