Saturday, June 30, 2007

Greetings from Siem Reap, Cambodia!

Hi everyone! I am writing to you from Siem Reap, Cambodia. See if you can find it on the map.

Kristin and I had a very interesting time getting here. When I woke up in Bangkok, it was raining really, really hard and the wind was really strong. I was worried that King Tut might be mad at Kristin again, but she told me not to worry too much. She says the rain storm would probably go away by the time our flight was supposed to leave. She was right. Here is a view of the airport from Kristin's hotel room.

The sun was shining when our plane left Thailand.

Kristin didn't have any problems checking in at the airport and we were able to spend a little bit of time walking around the airport. It is VERY big. There are so many shops in the airport that I thought I was in a shopping mall and not an airport! There is a really cool display by the shops.

Kristin warned me when we got to the gate that we would be flying on a small plane. I thought she meant that the airplane would be like the little ones that fly between Moline and Chicago. But our plane to Cambodia was one of those that has the big ceiling fan blades on the wings. Kristin calls this a "prop jet" and I know she doesn't like to fly in planes like this. I wasn't too worried until we were about to land in Siem Reap. It was cloudy and windy and just as we were about to land, the pilot suddenly started to climb back into the air! Then he came on and told us that the wind was too strong to land the plane. Oh no! He told us we were going to fly around for 10 minutes and try to land again. If we couldn't land on the second try, we were going to have to fly back to Bangkok or Singapore and try again later in the day. I could tell Kristin was a little scared about trying a second landing. And don't tell anyone, but I was scared too!

The pilot was able to land the plane on the second try...but it was a really bumpy ride. The plane landed on the runway with a BIG thud. It was a good thing that Kristin had on her seat belt and that she had me in a safe place, because Kristin had to put her hands on the chair in front of her in order to keep from flying out of her chair when we landed! I was really glad when we got off the plane!

All of Kristin's bags made it and the hotel sent a driver to pick us up. We are staying at the Le Meridien Angkor Hotel. It is very nice! It has a really cool pool.

There is also a neat fountain in front of the hotel.

Kristin took me on a walk around the hotel after we got here and I noticed there were lots of flowers everywhere. There were even some in the water! Kristin says those are lotus flowers, and they are used as a decoration in many Asian countries including Cambodia. I had no idea! Here is a big container full of lotus flowers. Kristin says if you look closely, you will notice the flowers have been nicely folded. Who knew?

Besides the flowers, I saw lots of interesting creatures including really cool lizards! I know Kristin doesn't like lizards very much, but I think they are cool. Look how long the tail is on this one!

Kristin also pointed out the interesting colors on the butterflies in the flower garden outside of the hotel. Butterflies are for girls (but the colors are kinda cool!)

That's about all for now. I am really tired from that jet-lag stuff and I know Kristin is tired too. Kristin told me to get some rest because she has a surprise for me tomorrow. I have NO idea what the surprise is, but I am sure it is cool!

Bye for now....

Friday, June 29, 2007

Greetings from Bangkok, Thailand!

Hi everyone! Kristin and I have safely made it to Bangkok, Thailand.

King Tut must be happy with Kristin this week, because we didn't have any big problems getting here. Our plane left Chicago on time! Kristin even got an upgraded seat. I was really glad about this because Kristin needed the bigger chair to rest.

Kristin's bunny, McGwire, got really sick the night before we left for Chicago. Kristin and her husband Eugene had to take him to the animal emergency room on Wednesday night. I know this because I was with Kristin helping her pack for the trip when she discovered McGwire wasn't feeling well. Kristin and Eugene were able to bring McGwire home after seeing the vet, but I could tell they were still really worried about him. I was worried too! He must have been very sick because I know people only go to the emergency room if they are really, really sick!

I have visited with McGwire before, and my Aunt Lynn takes care of him when Kristin and Eugene are gone on trips. So I could tell when Kristin let me pet McGwire after the trip to the doctor that he wasn't feeling good.

Just before we left for Chicago, Kristin and Eugene took McGwire back to the vet and he seemed to be doing a little better, but Kristin told me McGwire wasn't eating very much. I could tell she was very worried and upset when we left for Chicago. And Eugene called her just as we got on the plane in Chicago and he must have told her some bad news because she started crying. I think she really wanted to be home with McGwire and not on an airplane. So now you know why I was really glad Kristin got a nice seat on the plane. (Shhh...don't tell anyone, but I was starting to get really worried about McGwire too!)

The plane ride to Tokyo was 12 HOURS. Can you believe it? Kristin told me to rest because I was going to get that "jet lag" stuff. I slept for most of the trip. The rest of the time I looked at the cool map that was on the TV screen at Kristin's seat.

Kristin told me we were not going to stay in Tokyo very long. She wasn't kidding! We went to the same business lounge we visited on our way back from Aceh for about an hour and then we had to walk to the gate to catch our next flight.

The flight to Bangkok took 6 hours and this time Kristin didn't get an upgraded seat. :( But, she did have her own TV screen AND it had a remote control. I have been on many airplanes and I have never seen remote controls for TVs on any of them! Kristin soon showed me why there was a remote control. In addition to movies, news, and cartoons, the TV had Nintendo! Can you believe that?!! Don't tell my Mom....Kristin let me play video games for most of the flight. I was so busy playing games and watching cartoons that I forgot to ask Kristin to take my photo!

Just before we landed, the TV screen went blank. But then I started to see a few some bright circles on it. Kristin told me the circles were actually street lights. The plane had an outside camera. How cool is that? We got to watch the plane land on the runway. Kristin said we were seeing the same thing as the pilot. How awesome is that?

It was very dark when we arrived in Bangkok, so I can't tell you what it really looks like here. But I can tell you that it is HOT and there is lots of that "humidity" stuff in the air. Kristin says it is "rainy season" here. She says during certain parts of the year, it rains a lot. She says it kind of like winter in Iowa, except it rains here instead of snowing. I had no idea!

Our hotel is right at the airport and a van was waiting to pick us up. I am SO glad. I didn't want Kristin to have to pull all of her luggage across the parking lot to the hotel. We are staying at the Novotel Hotel. It is very nice. Kristin's room reminds me of the room she had in Singapore on our trip back from Indonesia.

I'm not sure I told you that Kristin has a new BlackBerry. My friend Keith at the Stanley Foundation has one too. His looks a lot like a Game Boy. Kristin's is different. But the best part is that her phone works here in Thailand.

Kristin was able to call home and check on McGwire. Eugene told her that McGwire was doing much better. He also told Kristin he had a surprise for her. He set up a Web camera so Kristin could see McGwire on her computer. How cool is that?! Here you can see me watching McGwire on Kristin's computer. I must tell Aunt Lynn about this!

If you look closely on the screen in the photo above, you can see McGwire and his cage.

I am SO glad McGwire is feeling better. I know Kristin is happy too. But, she did tell me that McGwire is still sick and that it may take a long time for him to get better. I sure hope he gets better soon!

Kristin says we are leaving for the airport soon so we can get on another plane and fly to Cambodia. I am really tired from that jet-lag stuff, so I am going to rest now.

Bye for now!

Monday, June 25, 2007

My Next Adventure: Cambodia and Thailand

Hi everyone! I am SO excited. My friend Kristin at the Stanley Foundation just called. She is going on another big trip this week and she asked me if I wanted to go. Of course I said YES!

Kristin says we are going to the countries of Cambodia and Thailand. See if you can find them on the map (hint...Kristin says they are in Asia). I've never heard of Cambodia, have you? But I have heard of Thailand. My teacher's flat person visited Thailand last year. I think it is cool that I get to visit the same place!

Kristin is going to attend some events the Stanley Foundation is having. Kristin warned me that this big trip will not be like her usual radio trips overseas. She says she will be spending lots of time in a conference room talking with other people. I told her that is OK. I know I will still get to see interesting things along the way. She also told me that I will miss July 4th. I told her that was also OK. I get to see fireworks every July 4th. I don't get the chance to see Cambodia or Thailand very often!

We leave for Chicago on Wednesday afternoon. Our first flight is on Thursday. Kristin says we are flying from Chicago to Tokyo, Japan. Cool! I got to visit Tokyo on the way back from Indonesia (but Kristin says we will still only see the airport). We fly from Tokyo to Bangkok, Thailand where we will spend the night before getting on another plane for our first major stop: Siem Reap, Cambodia.

I'll keep you posted when I can. Bye for now!