Simon Family World Trip

Now in Japan!
Journal Entry for March 25, 2000

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Alex, Katie and Ben's Joint Essay on Bhutan

When we got on the plane, we were going to a great place and one that was really remote - Bhutan. One side of the plane had Everest out the window and one side did not. We flew into the most beautiful airport. It was new and had painting and woodcarving all over it in Bhutanese style. We met, Chorten, who would be our guide for 8 days. He wore a skirt and a shirt with a huge triangular pocket and knee socks to keep him warm. He welcomed us and gave each one of us a silk scarf and said "Kuzuzampola", which means Greetings! The first thing we noticed were the prayer flags. Chorten told us they were put on bridges and high places on cypress trees. The writing on them was a mix of Tibetan and Bhutanese and there was a dragon-like dog that was printed in the middle of them. The prayers are called mantras and the flags are made out of cotton. When they blow in the wind, the threads unravel and send the prayers blowing in the wind up to the sky.

After we drove thru the small town named Paro, we ate in a really good restaurant that had really good cheese dumplings. It is a small town like Newtonville but is the second largest town of the country. After we got to our hotel, we drove to an old fort. The fort was built to keep the Tibetans out. From our hotel, we would look out at the Himalayas. It was like the National Geographic pictures that you see. The mountains are so high up that you mistake them for clouds. Then you see a lot of evergreen forests and down below, little small houses. The farmland from above looked like green waves per Katie and 3-D squares per Alex and little homes for rice per Ben.

Alex says, " We went on a hike to the Tiger's Nest which is a monastery that was partly destroyed by fire. It is called this because we had to climb up for 2 hours and we only got to the halfway point, which is a cafeteria for tourists to eat and a viewpoint to see a sheer rock cliff. I could not believe that they were able to build it so high. It was a great hike."

Ben remembers, "There was a house in the middle of a waterfall."

Per Katie "We were walking down and we saw somebody taking a 'stone bath'. It is outside and you tie blankets around it on sticks so noone could see. The water came from a stream and a cement tub was built to catch the water. Stones were warmed up in a fire next to the tub and put in to make a nice warm bath."

The next day we drove to Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. We saw cliffs, and boulders and a river. The river water was mainly dark blue and green. We passed the fork of two rivers called a 'confluence' and we saw 3 stupas - holy shrines. One was Bhutanese, one was Tibetan and one was Nepalese When we got to Thimpu we went to handicraft stores.

Per Katie "In Thimpu I bought a big monkey mask and a bamboo box that was painted on. That is what I liked the most in Thimpu."

This is what Alex liked the most. "I liked going to a bookstore. I bought some classics there."

The next day we went to Punakha, which is where our guide was born and saw an archery contest. Archery is the national sport of Bhutan. The target was 150 meters away but Chorten got a bull's eye. He was very good. We also went to a very big temple there.

"I loved Punakha. That was my favorite place in Bhutan" - Alex, Katie and Ben

Katie's Essay on Bhutan

"I saw snow for the first time this year in Bhutan. I climbed up to 12000 feet from 8000 feet. I got bad altitude sickness.

On the flight back to Kathmandu I saw Mt. Everest from our plane through the pilot's front window. It was cool to see the cockpit. But the bad thing about that flight was we woke up at 5AM and our flight did not leave until 9. It was supposed to leave at 7.

Two days before that we got up at 2:45 am to see something amazing. There was a big 100 feet wide and 100 feet tall silk tapestry that had 10 Buddhas sewn on it. Alex and Ben went back to the car at 4AM to sleep but I stayed with my mom and dad. There was a full moon and we saw the moon set and that was the coldest part of the morning.

They had really good cheese dumplings all over Bhutan. We saw a really good archery contest and our guide won the archery contest. They have to shoot their arrows 150 meters. The bows were really modern but the targets are wood with paint on them. Our guide hit the bulls-eye and he stuck it so far in that he had to get a knife to take it out. We had 'butter tea' that tasted bad but all Bhutanese drink it and we had really good crackers.

Per Ben

I played with Samba [our driver] every day. Chorten ate a lot of chili peppers. We teached Samba Back Street Boys.

Simon Family Itinerary as of March 26, 2000

Nov 27 - Dec 20 - Costa Rica
Nov 27 - Maria Alexandra Aparthotel, San Jose
Nov 28 - Lapas Rios Hotel
Nov 29-Dec 1 - Tulemar Bungalows, Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepos
Dec 2-7 - Lookout Inn, Carate, Osa Peninsula
Dec 8-10 - El Sapo Dorado Lodge, Monteverde
Dec 11-12 - Arenal Lodge, Arenal Volcano
Dec 13-15 - Selva Verde Lodge, Serapiqui
Dec 16-18 - Mawamba Lodge, Tortuguero
Dec 19 - Maria Alexandra Aparthotel, San Jose

Dec 20, 1999 - Jan 6, 2000 - Guatemala
Dec 20-22 - La Quinta De Las Flores, Antigua
Dec 23-26 - Mayan Inn, Chichicastenango
Dec 27 - Aurora Hotel, Antigua
Dec 28-29 - Jungle Lodge, Tikal, Peten
Dec 30 - Aurora Hotel, Antigua
Dec 31-Jan 3 - Posada de Santiago, Santiago Atitlan
Jan 4 - Casa Azul, Antigua
Jan 5 - Hotel Viva Clarion Suites, Guatemala City

Jan 6-18 - Honduras
Jan 6-8 - Hotel Plaza, Copan Ruinas
Jan 9 - Hotel de Paris, La Ceiba
Jan 10 - 17- Plantation Beach Resort, Cayos Cochinos (Hog Islands), Bay Islands

Jan 18-24 - Guatemala
Jan 18-20 - Hotel Viva Clarion Suites, Guatemala City
Jan 21 - Volcan San Marcos (Camping), Lake Atitlan
Jan 22 - Santa Catarina Hotel, Lake Atitlan
Jan 23 - Viva Clarion Suites Hotel, Guatemala City

Jan 24 - Mexico

Jan 24-29 - Houston
Jan 24-25 - Drury Inn, The Woodlands
Jan 26-29 - Holiday Inn Select, Houston

Jan 30 - Los Angeles
Jan 30 - Embassy Suites Hotel, Los Angeles

Jan 31 - United Airlines Flight #1, Somewhere over the Pacific

Feb 1-6 - Thailand
Feb 1 - Quality Inn Suites, Bangkok
Feb 2-3 - Taepae Place Hotel, Chiang Mai
Feb 4 - "Guesthouse", Karen Village
Feb 5 - Taepae Place Hotel, Chiang Mai

Feb 6-10 - Laos
Feb 6-9 - Lang Xhiang Guesthouse, Luong Probang

Feb 10-13 - Thailand
Feb 10 - Overnight "Express" Train to Bangkok
Feb 11-12 - Ambassador Hotel, Bangkok

Feb 13-16 - Cambodia
Feb 13-15 - Ankgor Hotel, Siem Reap

Feb 16-March 3 - India
Feb 16 - Ashoka Palace, Delhi
Feb 17 - Surya Hotel, Delhi
Feb 18 - Jaypee Palace Hotel, Agra
Feb 19 - Hotel Sariska Palace, Sariska National Park, Alwar, Rajasthan
Feb 20-24 - Hotel Samode Palace, Samode, Rajasthan
Feb 25 - Samode Bagh ("Garden" - Camping), Samode, Rajasthan
Feb 26-28 - Hotel Gorbandh Palace, Jaiselmar, Rajasthan
Feb 29 - Camel Safari, Jaiselmar, Rajasthan
March 1 - Hotel Gorbandh Palace, Jaiselmar, Rajasthan
March 2 - Overnight "Express" Train to Delhi

March 3-13 - Nepal
March 3 - Hotel Shanker, Kathmandu
March 4-6 - Radisson Hotel, Kathmandu
March 7-10 - Bardia Jungle Cottages, Royal Bardia National Park, Thakura
March 11-12 - Radisson Hotel, Kathmandu

March 13-22 - Bhutan
March 13-14 - Hotel Gangtey Palace, Paro
March 15 - Taktsang Hotel, Thimpu
March 16 - Camping in a snow field at 12,200 feet outside the Phajoding Monestary near Thimpu
March 17 - Taktsang Hotel, Thimpu
March 18 -Hotel Y.T. (Yeshay Tenzin),Lobesa, Punakha
March 19-21 - Hotel Gangtey Palace, Paro

March 22-April 12 - Nepal
March 22 - Radisson Hotel, Kathmandu
March 23-27 - Mirabel Resort, Dhulikhel
March 28 - Radisson Hotel, Kathmandu
March 29-April 10 (approx) - Trekking in the Langtang region

April 12-May 4 - Japan
May 4-May 20 - China
May 20-31 - Egypt (We may bypass Egypt and fly directly to Johannesburg, South Africa)
June 1-Aug 21 - Southern Africa and Europe (Probably ending with several weeks in Norway)

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