Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy New Year!

We haven't had any major events going on, so here are a few happenings in January for the Franklin's...
We started the year off with a quick visit down the road to one of the shrines. New Years Day is the most celebrated holiday for the Japanese. On the first day of the year they visit their local shrine, and pray for blessings for the new year. We're not into the whole "praying at a shrine" thing, so we just strolled around and took in the sights. The Japanese purchase fortunes and if they don't like it, they tie it to a fence. Guess there were a lot of crummy ones out there!
Of course as with any Japanese celebration, there is food everywhere. I have to admit, I really went so I could get a bag of cotton candy!
We had the opportunity to celebrate our good friend Paul's promotion to Captain. In the Marine Corps, once you get promoted, it is customary to have a "Wet down" or basically a promotion party.
Congratulations Paul and Caralee!
The weekend before John left (again), we drove down south to Okinawa World.
Of course it is a tourist trap, but we heard great things about the huge natural cave you can tour. It is a little over 3 miles long and I really do not want to know how far underground we were! There is a nice pathway all the way through that is well lit, and it took almost 30 minutes to go through the cave.
I have never seen stalagmites and stalactites in real life and it was fascinating to see how they grow.
Outside of the cafe they have sort of a craft mall. in one area we were able to watch glass blowing.
After John headed off to his final deployment here in Oki (woo hoo!!!!) I thought it would be great to have some girl time. A lot of our husbands are gone, so what better way to relax than get an amazing pedicure! I do not think a pedicure in the States could ever compare to these! It was fun to chat with my best girlfriends while getting pampered. Here is the final product!
Seriously, they have books at least 2 inches thick with pages of different designs to choose from! I will miss this place!
January is almost over, so we are one month closer to moving back to the US!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Thailand Part Two- Bangkok

We hopped a short flight to Bangkok from Phuket and the scenery drastically changed. We started in a laid-back beach town, then ended up in a large, bustling city. Our hotel was amazing. It was chic and very, very tall! On the top of the roof they have a restaurant and a bar. We decided to head up 59 stories to the roof and get a drink and take in the incredible view. The restaurant was appropriately named "Vertigo".
I borrowed this next picture from Google so you could see what our camera could not capture! The elevator ride down makes your ears pop!
We really only had one full day in Bangkok so we went to see the major tourist attractions. We started at Wat Po, which is one of the largest temples in Bangkok. They have the world's largest reclining buddha. Now I have no idea why they need one of those, but it brings in the tourists. Wat Po is a large area with several smaller temples in side. I didn't feel the need to actually go in any of them so we walked around and saw the unique architecture.
We decided to go into the area where the reclining buddha was. John loves all things historical and for me I went in purely with the intention of viewing it from a Sociological standpoint (as most of you know Sociology is kind of my thing!). Here he is standing next to the head. You can see how huge it really was.
I find it fascinating that millions of people worship a statue. Something that isn't even alive. As I watched people marvel at a fake guy made of gold laying down it made my heart sad. People were saying quick prayers and I wondered if they thought it was listening.
It made me so grateful to know that I believe in the living God! OK, now off my soapbox...
Fortunately the Grand Palace was a block away, so we headed over to see where the king lived.
I forgot to mention that in the "wats" or temples and any other place, like the Grand Palace, there is a dress code. You cannot wear shorts or show your shoulders. If you are wearing a skirt it has to be full length. Fortunately we knew the rules before we went so we dressed appropriately. We saw them turn away people because they were not covered. I don't blame some of the people though, it was at least 90 degrees outside! I loved this sign and wish we could use it in America!
As I said before, the architecture is unlike anything I have ever seen.
In the palace some of the buildings had such incredible detail. I tried to take a few close-ups so you could see it. All of the colors you see are like a glass mosaic.
While inside, John took a picture with a monk! I bet you don't have a picture with a monk! Ha ha!
Somehow he fits right into this picture!
After our tour of the palace we took a little break, had some coconut water, paid essentially one dollar to use the bathroom, then headed back to the hotel.
That night we took a dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya River. On the cruise we were able to see 34 of some of the most famous places in Bangkok.
The food was great too. We had a six-course set meal which included 18 different types of traditional Thai food. It was fun to try new things that we probably never would have tried on our own.
It is always hard to take pictures at night, but I got a few good shots.
During dinner, there were a couple of traditional Thai dancers. I had to get a picture with them as we were getting off the boat!
Thailand was an interesting place, to say the least! Coming from the quiet, well-mannered Japanese culture to a wild and crazy horn-honking place was a bit of a culture shock! I think we are all traveled out (for now) and will be happy to move back to the U.S.A. very soon!