2007 in pictures

My friend Kelley had a great idea of looking back on 2007 with her favorite photos. I decided to steal her idea. :) I've narrowed them down to my Top 10 favorite pictures of 2007, 5 anonymous for this blog, and the other 5 on the family blog.

5. This picture was taken in a J temple. It's in my top 5 because it sums up perfectly why we are here in South Asia.

4. This was taken on a beach in Thailand, and I like it because it makes me laugh. It seems auto rickshaws really are every where. :)

3. Jaya lighting candles around her home for the festival of lights. I love all the colors in this photo. It's hard for me to believe I only met her last year. She was definitely my most meaningful friendship in 2007.

2. It was hard to choose my favorite picture from Venice, because the city is picturesque from all angles. This is from the Grand Canal. Our European trip was our big vacation of 2007 (and probably our life!) so of course Venice had to have a special mention.

1. Paris is possibly my favorite city on the planet, so not only did it deserve to be on this list, it deserved the top slot. It was even harder to narrow down my favorite Parisian shot. I realized I can't go wrong with a classic, so I decided on this one, taken beautifully by my husband.


pics from the himalayan country

While we were in the Himalayan country, the city was very smoggy, so here's the best pic we got of the Himalayas surrounding the city:

Yeah not too picturesque, huh? Here are some more pics we took.

There were tons of cafes. Husband took this picture because he liked the guy's hat.

There is a radical communist presence in the country.

The view from our hotel room. I have a hard time believing that pool ever gets used.

There are a lot of hippie-types that spend time in this city. So in one market, men would come to us and offer us hash. They looked a lot like this guy, so I took his picture thinking it would make a cool story. Alas, he was merely selling lip balm.

We met this shopkeeper through an American friend. He was really cool and had the best accent. I bought this shirt for baby.

This is that guy's dad. He was a sweet, smiley guy. We sat with them and they insisted we have tea while we shopped.

The city's traffic is pretty bad. One fun thing about the city is that there are a lot of what I would call 'grand buildings' like the one ahead of all the cars.

Pronounced 'thirst-pee'. That pretty much sums it up, huh?


newborn love

Technically this post could go on the baby blog, but I'm putting it here because I find it more interesting as a tourist than a mother. And really, isn't that blog just a thinly veiled excuse to put up as many pics as possible of my baby?

We're still here in the Himalayan country - but fortunately we're leaving today! The visa process for baby actually took less than 12 hours! We found that very strange, considering in our current country, just to receive her visa to exit the country, it took 2 days, not including the 6 weeks of official documentation leading up to that. Actually, a funny side story to that, while baby and I were sitting at the overcrowded station of a visa agent, a South Asian-Canadian man began to yell at the neighboring agent about how ridiculous the whole process was. "I am proud to be a South Asian, but I hate coming to this country, because you harass the foreigners! In Canada it only took me one day to get my visa. Here, it is purely harassment!" All I could do was nod my head at the man's shouts because yes, that is very true. If you think I'm wordy now, you would hate to see a blogpost about the head-scratching process for baby's exit visa, but luckily for you, I'm not gonna even go there.

So we arrived at the Embassy around 11am, and noticed there was already a very long line to the visa desk. First of all, how cool that there was a line? It's been awhile since I've seen one of those! Husband asked an agent if this was where we should be, and when they saw we had a newborn, they told us to go to the front of the line. I was very relieved, seeing as it was really cold and the entire visa process takes place outdoors. However, I was very nervous at how all the people waiting in line would react. As an American, I'm used to people being very orderly, very first come, first serve, no matter what. And I can't disagree with that philosophy. But miracle of miracles, not one person grumbled! In fact, they looked at baby and smiled warmly. A French couple laughed at her all snuggled in my sling, and an Austrian couple came over to meet us and see the baby and ask how it was giving birth in a foreign country. (shameless plug sidenote: in Austria, like many, many countries, it costs absolutely nothing to have a baby. Yes, you heard that right - watch Sicko and you'll be just as shocked as we were) The visa agents even told all 3 of us to wait inside the office with them where there was a heater!

I've begun to realize what I've heard rumors of already - Asians and Europeans absolutely love babies! First the very kind people on the bus, and now this. Makes me a lot more at ease for more travel with baby.


bandh, bus, and baby

A 7 week old spices up life quite a bit! I know that's the truth for everyone, and I believe it's just as true for us tourists. Especially in Asia!

We took baby on her first flight and trip abroad yesterday, and arrived in the Himalayan country north of our current home. The purpose of this trip is to receive her visa so we can return, and our tickets are for this weekend. Baby was wonderful on the flight, which somehow gave us false hopes of a delightful and problem-free stay and a smooth governmental process all the while gazing at the Himalayas surrounding the valley city we're staying in. I don't know where that gazing thought came from, since we had to circle the airport for close to an hour waiting for visibility. I was a wee bit over-optimistic.

When we arrived yesterday, we were supposed to have a bus waiting to take us to the hotel. This was when we found out that the city transport workers are all striking against gas prices. Absolutely no transportation was available, and people were burning tires in the roads, which kept even private transportation to a minimum. Since there were no taxis or buses available for anyone at the airport to reach their hotels, a police bus had to take all the tourists to their respective hotels. It was complete chaos. Men carried suitcases on the bus, under the bus, out of the bus, as people tried to push their way on as well. Luckily, the passengers were very sympathetic as soon as they saw us with baby in the Snugli. A Frenchman immediately jumped up from his seat and offered for me to sit. I took it gratefully, and James was offered the seat next to me as well. Baby began to get fussy because she was hungry. A local man laughed and said, "He is hungry. Feed him." (I've begun to notice South Asians just refer to strangers' babies as 'he') Nearby passengers also laughed, and I relaxed. Husband and I were both so grateful these people understood that yes, babies do fuss sometimes. She did quiet down when I "fed him."

On the crowded bus, I was reminded of our year in the Himalayas, and pretty glad we didn't have to travel that way anymore. Well, present week excluded.

Apparently, the strike (bandh) is still going on, and worse today since not even residents can drive anywhere, so we are stranded in our hotel for the time being. This means we also won't be returning this weekend. Oh the joys of being a tourist in South Asia! At least our room has a view and we can imagine the Himalayas beyond the fog.


guest blogger - nana!

What a wonderful time I have had here. Getting to see my first grandbaby what a joy and thrill. She is so very precious and cuddly. I will be heading back next week to the states but oh my what memories I will take. My son is so blessed to have such a wonderful wife. I am blessed by both. What joy and thrills to my soul they have brought.

Well, my many adventures here have been awesome. The food, shopping, and sights. I will never get over the traffic jams. They have nothing over Texas. I did however, get one of their bugs while I was here. It was not pleasant and put me out for 5 days. However, I did get to visit one of their gastro doctors and receive some wonderful meds.

I know that I will miss the kids and just getting to hug them but oh that grandbaby what a blessing to get to come here at this time.


poor nana

Nana came all the way to South Asia, and like the way of many foreigners here, became very sick. How sick? you may ask. Without going into too many details, this description is taken from the GlaxoSmithKline website next to a picture of the medicine she is taking (warning: do not read if you have a weak stomach):

Worm infestation is something not many people really think about. In fact, there are many out there who have never even taken any de-worming medication and are unaware that this is a problem that is more common than we think.

Nana is now very much aware.

Here she is in happier, more unaware days:

Don't worry - she's feeling much better now and will soon be able to leave the house again. Though I'm sure a little more wary.


sew happy

Yes, I'll admit that's a cheesy title, but it's my blog. My mother-in-law (Nana) loves to quilt and sew, 'stitching' as they call it here. So guess which shops we hit up first? Last time they came, she walked out empty handed because she was frozen with indecision. This time she didn't do that. We took her to the 2 story giant fabric store, and she went nuts. Silks, cottons, batiks...nothing was safe.