RETURNED PEACE CORP VOLUNTEER
I am done with the peace corps! i have moved OUT of kazakhstan. I am a RPCV!
i am im the middle of traveling. wanna to meet up, contact me.
here is my new blog with my current adventures.www.travelpalooza.blogspot.com
10 days in India.
Flew into delhi and met up with a guy I stayed with that is a fashion designer for H&M. Took me to a nice restaurant and later to a swank lounge for a beer. Following day I jumped on a bus and headed for Agra, which lives the Taj Mahal. The ride was unbearable. 5 hours of constant horn honking. If you pass you must honk your horn. It’s the LAW. So I arrived with a pretty good size head ache …because im a pasty white girl I immediately had my own caravan of Indians trying to solicit my business for transportation to my hotel. I then was forced into a ride on the back of a bicycle rickshaw for the agreed 40 rupees (less than a dollar). The man that was the power behind my ride was about as old as agra itself. I found myself thinking I may never make it when he took 2 wrong turns, parading me around on back streets, where more folks came pouring in to sell me their goods. I knew that he had purposely turned down these streets…there is only ONE road to the taj.
I had planned to see the taj on the following day but then discovered, and hour before it closed that Tomorrow the Taj Mahal is CLOSED! So I bought a ticket and ran through frantically taking pictures in the dark and fiddling with my new camera I have no idea how to set for “Dark”
Next day I took a train back to delhi to pick up a flight to Bombay. I befriended a large family of Sikhs on the train, because they are the gentlest Indians (in my opinion)…even though grandma had her dagger exposed at times. They fed me even.
Took a hair raising, wild taxi ride from the train station to the airport. Never say HURRY, to a taxi driver. Made some friends in Bombay…then took a train to Goa. Stayed with this great clothing boutique owner. Toured Old Goa and World heritage sites…visited lots of churches…and Hindu temples. Then spent 2 days relaxing on the beach in a little tiki hut.
If you want to send me mail, please do so NOW! I am leaving in less than two months…MAY 31st!
Please join me!
View in goa.
Little boys wanted money and used the tactic of stripping. I gave them I love ny pins.
Sunset, taking a stroll after having a hot oil kerala massage.
Inside Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa
Church in Panji, Goa
These boys swim out to poles plunged into the floor of the river water and put nets on them and later pick up the fish.
Inside a hindu temple
How many monkeys can you count?
Taj Mahal at night
Jesus doesn’t smoke
Camel rides on the back side of the taj
marriage rituals of kazakhstan
unfortunately the bride napping is completely True. Which he does say...but the part he LIES about is that sometimes the women dont know about it. its a barbaric practice... and its legal. Men have been known to come and throw a potato sack over a womans head and throw her in his car, then brings her home for 3 days...and...well its not a beautiful thing (im leaving out something, children read this). then they are married. and this happens OFTEN!
water, something we americans take for granted. I LOVE WATER....clean water, warm water. I do not have water and havent had water for 3 weeks now. so this will be a fairly gross post.
We in Asia and Russia are experiencing one of the most severe winters in history(since 1927) it has been -45 with wind chill from 5-20mph. WOW! thats cold. my school was closed for a week, classes this week were shortened to 30min. My community and most former soviet towns heat all buildings centrally...what i mean is there is one building that burns coal(which is totally inefficient, 20% actually heats) and then it heats all buildings in community. something broke, twice. So this big freeze coupled with the heating malfunction sent a chain reaction for all buildings. my apt hovers at about 45-50 degrees when things are going good and its warm outside...(what is warm outside here is -20) but when this happened...my apt went down to 32...yeah FREEZING. i had water bottles in my hallway and they froze SOLID. i could see my breath in my kitchen...i wear a heat, gloves and parka to bed. i eventually had to leave for a few days to another town just to warm up.
so this is the gross part, while i was gone, and there wasent any heat flowing in my building...consequently the pipes froze. THEN...my neighbor flushed their toilet...since the pipes had froze it left no where for the evacuation to go, except BACK. So my bathtub was then filled about HALFWAY of this flushed material...yeah, feces. before i had left to a warmer location...i happened to be getting ready to do a bunch of laundry and left a pile of my clothes in my then dry, clean bathtub.
so this was a week ago of the flushing, fecal disaster. my bathtub still sits with residue from this nightmare, along with damp, dirty clothes and i am without water.
so monday is the big day they tell me they will fix the pipe...then maybe ill get water and i can clean my tub.
CHINA; KASHGAR & URUMCHI
I WANT MAIL. It’s very lonely here at times.
Many of you can not begin to understand. please. if you are so inclind to send me >>>STUFF<<< ask me what i need.
So I will begin with my travels to China. I went for a week and a half. I took the train from Almaty to Urumchi, China. In my coupe, I had a nice 18 year old boy that was traveling with his uncle to buy a computer for his brother (electronics are expensive in Kazakhstan). He studies in Britain, so it was kind of nice to have him there… but I did find myself wishing he would stop worrying about my every move. I have traveled all over Kazakhstan, on the trains, alone…were I could barely put 2 Russian words together. I have managed to do just fine.
We got stuck between borders for several hours because they have to change the width of the wheel span, and leaving Kazakhstan or China is an issue. We discovered 2 men from Pakistan were on board and taken away when we arrived in China, they had recently been in London (right after the bombing).
Two other volunteers were also on the train, Shan and Rodney. They were going to Peking(aka-Bejing). I had no interest traveling with them, I was eager to be on my own little solo adventure and I also knew that I had an agenda and didn’t want to be held back trying to accommodate the boys. Although I will admit, stepping off the train WAS a culture shock and then I was really happy they were there. Urumchi is a HUGE city. I had no idea. I haven’t been in a big city in a while so it was jarring, and on top of the Skyscrapers, EVERYTHING was covered in Chinese (duh, what did you expect JEN!) and the crowd of people was AMAZING. All pushing, shoving and offering rides in their taxi…NONE speaking English. Now we aren’t in a big city like Bejing where you actually have English people doing business…no no no! This is the wild west of china. This is the area of china that the bandit in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
is from…the nomads. Well ok I’m being dramatic I’m still in a city with skyscrapers…but it’s different. We got a hotel in the Russian section of the city. Of course the receptionist at the hotel didn’t speak Russian.
Found a translator, and went to heavenly lake where we spent the night in a yurt and rode horses up a little mtn to look down at the lake. I had two little Chinese girls trying to teach me Chinese words…which I was a complete failure. Met people from Spain, Canada, Isreal, France, Holland, and later a group in the city that teach English…Americans. We conversed on what was a more difficult place to live, Kazakhstan vs. China. Ate GREAT Chinese food, really hot. Then parted ways with the boys after 3 days, they flew off to Peking. I stuck around another day and enjoyed being in a city, with its endless shopping, and took in some sites and even a museum. That was most interesting because it was all about the silk road. my personal guide (me being the only English speaking persons for probably months) she was thrilled to practice her English. As we looked at EVERYTHING together, I knew a lot about Turkic people from living in Kazakhstan. It was quite novel for her to hear me respond, “oh that’s a yurt, and those are clothes worn by kyrgiz, and those are Uigur.”
I then flew off to Kashgar. On my way I met an odd Australian man. He was traveling with a young Chinese girl and her teenage brother. He is some big executive for COTTON! I ran into another guy from Singapore we both ended up at the same hotel and later hit a muslim restaurant. Sunday is the big bazaar day in Kashar(which is part of the Silkroad) These people have been selling for hundreds of years. It was straight out of an Indiana Jones
movie. I stayed in town for a week. Eventually getting very bored, I wanted to see art or mtns, but everything was a giant tourist trap. I stayed FAR away from tour buses filled with people. I spent a lot of time chatting with the local Uigurs that work for their summer job as travel agents. Nice kids. I then flew back to Urumchi.
I had planned to take a bus through Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek to Almaty, but the bus only went 2 times a week, and would cost 500 dollars to cross the border. Some shady deal China and Kyrgyzstan had made up, 200 for the driver and permit and help across the border and another 300 for when you got to the other side, permit, driver, travel agent. than they left you there…at the border. It’s a second class border, not intended for tourist, only nationals. So, after asking everyone, that, YES, infact this was true…I gave up and flew back to Urumchi. Its apparently a beautiful pass through the mtns. Tourgat pass
Took a sleeper bus back form china to Kazakhstan. Total nightmare ride. Laying on your back on a bus is horrible, with giant pot holes and never being able to sit up. 24 hours. No toilet.
The golden Arch
Im very short. Goats kept smashing open our door and running into our yurt.
Our guides threw rocks at my horse. He wasn’t friendly.
View of heavenly lake.
These were the girls trying to teach me Chinese. Instead they decided to dance.
Not sure what this is called.
I loved the food- lagman, HOT AND SPICEY.
Random tourist attraction in Urumchi in shopping center.
This cutie had squeekers on her shoes so every step she took you heard, SQUEEK SQUEEK SQUEEK!
Look at the size of the bag the kid is carrying
Need a ride? i'm not kidding.
Now where should I park my wagon and mull…oh with all the others.
Id like a rib eye steak please.
More old city
Even more old city
Men getting a shave
Hail to the chief
where im going
map of summer travels...click here!
heres a reference of my travels this summer. im leaving today JULY 12th. then a 2 day train ride to ALMATY...then some medical and arranagements. Then i will head to CHina on the chinese train, 3 day trip. Urumchi is my stop. Xinying autonomous region. Its Uigur area. Then i will explore that area for about 11days. Then head back to almaty...via bus or plane. Then head to Taldy-Korgan for a 2 week summer camp that i will work. Following that...i will again head back to Almaty. Pick up a flight to Ukraine, Yalta on the black sea and spend almost 2 weeks there...YEY!
see you in Sept.
here are some other pics -
if any of you have talked to me on a saturday or sunday, you would know that the most EXCITING thing is, the BAZAAR. i get very excited because its the gathering of all the town people and theres stuff to look at, and its where you can buy everything. so this is a sunday (sunday big bazaar, saturday small bazaar) you must get there early or everything is gone, they start closeing up around 1pm.
you can find all your home products here, hardware store, rugs, even bike parts.
i went in and told them i wanted to take some pictures, they have a little building that has all the meat, one side is ukraine and russian women selling ham (which mulims dont eat) and the other is beef, horse, and sheep, which the kazakh men sell.
this is my my butcher. (notice the shiney gold teeth-BLING BLING)
my apt building
this is my washing machine. AH, laundry day.
view outside my apt
traditional kazakh dances
kokshutau festival(cities birthday last fall). they love breakdancing.
tub full of meat, I ask my host family “Is that a WHOLE horse?!” “no, just ¼”
mmmm, pass the tongue check out the size of this. I’ve had it in salad, its much tastier than the eyeballs or the brains or intestines.
host mom ijan, serving up tradition beshbarmak with a boiled sheeps head, its for very special guests. It was for some old kazakh man. He wanted to marry me and continued to serenade (some kinda of kazakh opera) me all through out dinner. Have another shot of vodka Mr.!
“Hey kids, go outside and play on the weird guy carrying a big log~!”
They don’t get to watch the game. Almaty football match
The President Nazerbyeth. Every city and town has a picture of him. Been president since 91. Even my little town has one billboard. Guess who graces it?