Steve and I arrived back in Lyon this afternoon, and were more than grateful to climb back into our apartment, open all the windows, and let in the wonderful summer breezes. It’ll be a day or two before I recover sufficiently to start writing about our time in Barcelona and Paris, though, so here’s something of our time in Paris to keep you occupied until more stories and photos go up!
On Sunday, we hung out with our friend Dan from Chicago and Olivia, who is one of my longtime high school friends. The four of us had dinner at Père Louis, a great restaurant close to the Panthéon. It also happened to show a World Cup game with France, which we were able to watch parts of, and then stayed to see the end after we had finished our delicious meal. The World Cup generates of course much more excitement than it does in the US, because soccer (or rather, football) is pretty much the biggest sport in all of these countries here. The enthusiasm is truly infectious! That evening, we watched France vs. Honduras, which was so overwhelmingly one-sided that the crowd felt inclined to cheer Honduras’s futile attempts. The French were victorious, 3-0, amidst excited cheers. I took a quick video of the French singing their national anthem, the Marseillaise, so enjoy! Allez les bleus!
India has officially given us a lot to cope with. Steve came down with some sort of head cold in addition to food poisoning, and now I’ve caught his cold too. We’re both curled up in the hotel, hacking and coughing and drinking as much water as we can.
Last night, we made a trip out for Domino’s Pizza (which oddly has tables and chairs here, instead of simply being a take-out joint) and tonight, sandwiches at Subway. Indian food is tasty, but all that dal makhani and chana masala is all cooked to high heaven, no minerals and vitamins left to speak of! It was such a relief to have raw vegetables. I also bought some oranges and bananas, and we’re going to try to recuperate as best as we can. Meanwhile, I can’t help but think that it’s going to be much better when we leave northern India, and possibly the entire country.
We’ve only been able to make a fleeting nighttime visit to the Golden Temple (which was quite nice) and not yet to the Pakistani border closing ceremony at Wagah, but maybe tomorrow or the day after when we feel better. Here, have a video about driving in Agra. Bonus: pig in the road!
Also, YouTube, don’t make me laugh. Of course this video is shaky.
More to come,
Tomorrow, Steve and I are leaving Bangkok for Kuala Lumpur. I’m almost too tired to be excited about Malaysia, but I’ll get there after we have one last bowl of spicy and sour amazing soup. I got some good comments on that last video we shared (someone who shall stay unnamed requested “the director’s cut” of Steve on the swings), so we thought we’d put up some more. Click on the embedded videos, or open them from the title links. These are a few interesting moments from our past week in Bangkok, and hopefully, you’ll feel like you were there with us too.
The National Anthem at the Shutdown Bangkok 2014 Protests
One of the things we were not anticipating walking into were the protests in Bangkok, which we’ve been hearing about for weeks and weeks. The situation is really pretty sticky and complicated, so if you’re curious, I suggest you get a quick update from one of these summaries: BBC or Wikipedia. We were heading to the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, a free museum down the street, and didn’t realize we’d be walking straight into one of the protest camps. When we came out of the museum, we had a good gawk around — tons of tents that reminded me of Occupy scenes from a few years ago, families and friends sitting cross-legged on the ground, and watching someone make a speech, and long dinner lines. It didn’t seem dangerous at all, and instead, there were quite a few foreigners who were checking out the numerous t-shirt stalls, food vendors, and even impromptu massage chairs, which all made for a very festive atmosphere. In Bangkok, the National Anthem of Thailand plays every morning and every evening, and we happened to be there at 6 pm.
Continue reading Bangkok: Protests, Rivers, and Snacks.
On Tuesday, we boarded the HSR (high-speed rail) outside of Tainan and speeded into Taipei barely an hour and a half later. This is the way to travel! It felt just like the bullet trains we’d taken in Japan, and made for an ultra smooth ride. We trekked our way with heavy bags through the unreasonable cold to Da’an District, where we had reserved five nights in a hostel. That evening, I made Steve stay up with me to debate how to travel about in Thailand and reserved a few hostels and flights before we fell asleep.
Yesterday morning, bright and early, we left our hostel for the Taipei 101 Tower, just a 20-minute walk away. Once you get onto Xinyi Road, which cuts east-west, it is hard to miss the Tower because it looms over everything else for dozens of blocks. For comparison purposes, the Sears (never the Willis) Tower in Chicago is 442 meters tall, and Taipei 101 Tower is significantly taller at 509 meters. (Though both are small potatoes compared to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai at a lofty 828 meters.) We took the fastest elevator in the world (deceptively labeled “a life-changing experience” according to a quote from CNN in the lobby) and emerged onto the 89th floor, a 360 degree viewing observatory. It was a beautiful day to see Taipei — slightly cloudy, but not oppressively so. Taipei lies in a basin on the very northern tip of Taiwan, and we could see mountains in several directions as well as a city (Taoyuan, maybe?) to the southwest on an elevated plateau, surrounding the sprawling metropolitan area.
Continue reading Chilly Taipei: unexpected heights, sights, and hikes.