Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Holy Holi! by Beth

The colors festival is part of the annual Hindu Holi celebration.  Holi celebrates the arrival of Spring.  During the colors festival people walk up and down the streets putting colored powder on each other, throwing water balloons filled with colored water at each other, and some even have super soaker squirt guns filled with the stuff.  
By chance we arrived in Delhi the day before the festival.  So we decided to join in the fun and play Holi with the locals.  I must say we felt genuinely welcome and they seemed to appreciate our willingness to participate.
The shirt is history and my hair still has pink streaks in it a week later

We bought our own ammo

It's a friendly festival, not just about Spring but also about the triumph of good over evil

Holy Cow! the train station by Beth

Cows are sacred to Hindus.  Therefore they roam freely all over the cities of India.
Jodhpur train station 

Looking for snacks in the trash can

They walk up and down the streets.  Sometimes they stop in the middle of the street and cause traffic jams.  Sometimes they rest on the street.

They are all very nice cows.  We have been told that each cow actually has an owner and they roam around freely during the day but at night they go home on their own.   If a cow gets hurt or lost there are cow shelters where people take care of them.  So if your cow doesn't come home then you know to go to the local cow shelter to find him/her.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Getting into and out of Malaysia.....via Malaysia Air by Beth

We learned about the tragic disappearance of Malaysia Air flight 370 while we were in the Hong Kong, China airport waiting to catch our own Malaysia Air flight to Kota Kinabalu.  At that point the news reports only said that the plane had lost contact.

We arrived safely and spent a wonderful week on the island of Borneo.  We summited Mt. Kinabalu which was no easy feat.  We even did the via ferrata (the world's highest).  It was worth the sweat, pain and lack of sleep to see the sunrise from the summit!  I think Levi already posted about this but just in case:  We started out at about 9:30am and reached our overnight spot around 3 pm.  We were in bed by 8:00 pm.  Got up just before 2:00am  to start the climb to the summit at 2:30.  We made it to the top about 6:30am.  It took us until 4:30 pm to get all the way down.  I should mention that the kids were practically an hour ahead of us.
Mt. Kinabalu from the airplane

  I'd love to post pictures of the via ferrata but we left the camera on the bus back to Kota Kinabalu...{please note my choice of the plural pronoun here, .... who gave the camera to whom and who left the camera on which seat will be a point of debate in the Lastinger household for years to come :) }  At any rate we have no pictures at all of the via ferrata and only a few of the climb that we took with our phone.   
If you're wondering, a via ferrata is a system of anchors and cables used to traverse a sheer rock face.  

We also spent a few days trekking in the Borneo rain forest. Before we started out, I never would have thought that we'd get so accustomed to leeches attaching themselves to us that we would just pull them off like gnats and keep on going.  Again, all worth the effort!

We took two internal Malaysian Air flights in Borneo that week and during our time there we had very little outside contact, no TV, virtually no internet.  We got back to Koto Kinabalu to learn that there was still no sign of  flight 370.  We left the next day to fly to Delhi, India, via Kuala Lumpur on Malaysian Air.

At the airport

It was in the KK airport that we learned sabotage (as opposed to aliens or a new Bermuda Triangle) was the most popular theory for the plane's disappearance.  And so we boarded our flight, MH190, from Kuala Lumpur to Delhi.   Here are photos of the flight path display as it appeared about 10 minutes after take off :

FYI:  The green line is the path the plane is SUPPOSED to take.  The screen showed our plane flying in the opposite direction for a good 20 minutes! 
 For some reason, this seemed to disturb some of the passengers.  Questions were asked, reassuring answers were given, {including my favorite....  by the flight attendant to the man across from me "don't worry sir, if it doesn't straighten itself out in a few minutes I'll notify the captain."   Hey great, thanks, because the Captain doesn't realize he's flying this thing in the wrong direction? } and drinks were served. 
Of course there were the requisite number of nervous jokes about whether we were in fact heading to Beijing
After a while, it did  straighten itself out, and we arrived safely at our intended destination.


My Favorite Pictures from SE Asia by Lane

We had an amazing journey through SE Asia from January 10th through March 15th.  Our travels took us to Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Singapore and Malaysia .  We were fortunate to share parts of this journey with our friends the Pecklers (Vietnam) and Didi and Poppa (my parents).  We are now in India and I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures from SE Asia.  Here they are:


Mai and Mac rocking the cone hats!

Mac's friend MoMo

I'm stuck in the VC tunnels

Ha Long Bay hackey sack

Beth looks amazing in traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai!

I got the matching tuxedo jacket


Waterfalls in Laos...Disney could not improve on this natural beauty

Bath time with Mac

Feeding the Monks at the crack of dawn

Wiley sporting local garb


SE Asia is full of amazingly beautiful and kind people...yes we bought a bell!

Street markets are fun and scary!

Amazing Bagan!

Motor-scooter Mac

Life on Inle Lake


Time to exact 8 months of payback

The agony of defeat!

Good kitty

Traditional Thai green curry cooked over wood fire by me!

Cruising down the river on a bamboo raft

Thai kick-boxing

Elephant kisses


Didi and Poppa

Angkor Wat and Thom

4-wheeling with Poppa

The amazing Cambodian kids!