Monday, September 29, 2014

Visiting Jerusalem

Standing at the Mt of Olives Cemetery
Sarah and a tired camel 
Our last destination, Jerusalem, was probably the most exciting, the most diverse, and the most holiest place we visited.  Jersulem is the capital of Israel and the most populous. It also acquires the most diverse people and religions.  Jerusalem has been the holy city for three different religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Muslim.  Jews believe that this holy city was the religious and political center during the biblical times.  Christians believe it to be the holy city because Jesus' crucifixion occurred in Jerusalem. Muslims deem this city as holy because the Prophet Muhammad rose to heaven from there.  All three religions have prospered in this one small but holy city, Jerusulem.  

Jerusalem has so many important sites that we visited the city twice to ensure we had time to see all the famous places. On both of the days that we visited, we had to where knee length dresses or skirts, and shirts that covered our shoulders for modesty.  The first day we visited, we went through an underground tunnel to look at the western wall from below.  During the biblical times, the city was actually much lower than it is today and so to see the actual streets, we had to go undergound. It was frightening walking underground, but then too see how huge each brick of the western wall was, just gave me the chills.  Its hard to believe that a brick the size of my stretched out arms,  could be lifted up and used to build the temple and its surrounding walls. After the underground tour of the western wall, we got to visit the remaining part of the wall today.  In the car on the way to Jerusalem, my mother gave us a small 
piece of paper to write our wishes, 
hopes and prayers for the future. 
We stuck the small papers into an already full wall of notes and observed the people praying to God at the Western Wall.   

Western Wall
The next day, we visited the city of David and walked through Hezekiah's Tunnel, a tunnel filled with fresh chilly spring water.  This hidden spring was a place where kings were coronated and an eerie dark feeling crept up my body as I started the long trek through a pitch black tunnel.  The first step into the spring water sent me shivering, but after a while, my body got used to the cool temperature as we silently, continued walking.  The water has flowed since the time of the Prophets and with our weak lit flashlights we saw the ancient shafts, walls, and fortresses of the city of David.  The city of David was the foundation of the holy city of Jerusalem.

Narrow streets and white stone buildings of Jerusalem 
The opening of the water tunnel

Under the Western Wall. Look at the size of those bricks! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Spending time in Netanya and the Kinnerit

Our adventures in Rome came to an end, and we were ready to travel on to our next destination, Israel. Israel is a small middle eastern country that is located along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.  The country was only made the official homeland for the Jews in 1948.  This small strip of land is considered the holy land for the Jews, and according to to the bible, Abraham settled a small population of Jews in the holy land. We got lucky because while we were there, war had not started, but it is sad to hear about so many innocent people dying.
Preparing for a meatball toss!

Having dinner with friends
Last year, our friends from Israel visited us for one month.   After they left, they invited us to come visit them and we did.  They gave us a car to use while we stayed and showed us around Israel. 
Boogie Boarding
Our flight to Israel wasn't long, but our plane got delayed so by the time we arrived I was exhausted.  We stayed in a condo in the city Netanya which was located right along the beach about 30 minutes north of Tel Aviv.  Sarah, Hannah and I all shared a room together and it felt like a giant sleepover.  The next morning we woke up really early and went to the beach.  The water was so clear that we could see the bottoms of our feet.  Not only was the water clean, it was very warm and some days there were almost no waves.  Little black fish swam along side you and bit the bottoms of my moms and dads feet.  My siblings and I also made up a game called the meatball toss.  Each pair playing had to make a strong meatball and throw it back and forth taking one step back on every toss.  The team whose ball breaks, loses.  We spent a lot of time at the beach as it really was the best place to be.  We made friends with some cats, who were wandering all over the place.  Usually, after lunch or dinner we had bones and skin from chicken that we didn't finish so we fed it to the cats. They were really friendly and we pet them.  

At the beach in Netanya
Spending the day with friends

The next morning, we went to the Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake Kinneret.  We also visited the gravesites of Maimondes and Rabbi Akiva. Maimonides also known as Rambam was a scholar, physician, philosopher, and a talmudist.  Rabbi Akiva was an inspiration to many people.  He was uneducated at the beginning of his life and only learned to read and write when he got married.  After a couple years he had thousands of students that admired him.

Lake Kinneret is a fresh water lake that is located in the city Tiberias. The Kinneret is a gorgeous warm lake that has tall mountains called the Golan Heights standing above it.   The Jordan river flows into the lake.  The Kinneret is also the place where Jesus walked on water.  We left our condo early that morning as the drive to the Kinneret was very long.  We arrived at the lake and we ran to the warm water.  In the water we floated on our boards, had swimming races, and just relaxed.  It was a really great way to spend the day!

Rabbi Akiva's grave

What a gorgeous view of Tiberius!
Maimonides grave

Floating in the Kinneret

Overlooking the Kinneret and the Golan Heights

After the Kinneret we visited the Yardenit, the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.  In this place, the water from the Jordan river flows to the dead sea.

Awww, so cute!
In front of the Yardenit 

Where is your favorite place to spend the day?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ciao From Rome!

Ciao from Italy, Rome! Finally, after a gruesome 12 hour flight we arrived to our first destination, Rome. I finally get out of the airplane and outside it is hot and very humid.  Living in California should have prepared me for this type of weather but even I couldn't stand it, and I knew my siblings couldn't stand the heat either. But I knew that the three days we would be staying in Rome would be a blast and they were!

During our trip, we went to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps, the capital building, and the Trevi Fountain.  We walked from very early in the morning until late at night.  That morning we went to the Colosseum.  Riding the metro for the first time was a lot of fun, but the Colosseum was even better.  You can't even imagine the size of this amphitheater as it was the largest one back then and is still the largest today.   This amphitheater was able to hold 50,000 to 80,000 people   I was walking on the same place where people almost two thousand years ago sat and cheered for the gladiators fighting for their lives below.  The columns holding up the amphitheater stood like giants waiting to crush the people below.  Each column was built without cranes or any type of machinery we have today and yet they are gigantic, and are full of details.  How the people built this Colosseum without the technology we have today amazes me. 

After the Colosseum we walked to the Roman Forum which was nearby.  The Roman Forum was the center of government in ancient Rome. The Roman Forum was a huge area of land where there once stood important government buildings.  Surprisingly the Germanic people who invaded Rome weren't the cause of the destruction of the Roman Forum.  What really destroyed this great area of land was that the buildings gradually crumbled after Rome fell. The large area of land became so isolated and bare that it soon known as the Cow Plain.  Today, the only thing left is parts of the buildings, and exquisitely designed columns and arches.  Right outside the Roman Forum just a couple blocks away stood the capital building of Rome.  As you can see in the image the building full of details with statues everywhere.  We came at the right time and saw the change of the guards.  Both guards were in sync the whole time they did their salutes. 

View of the Entire Roman Forum

Capital Building

Our adventures had just begun that afternoon as we still had a lot of sightseeing to do but first we had to get gelato because isn't that what Italy is known for.  Before I even had one bite of the gelato my mouth was already watering seeing all of those delicious flavors.  There was a gelato shop at every corner in those narrow cobble-stoned streets that we walked through.  In a large cup, my 3 siblings and I chose and shared 4 different flavors every day until we were sure we had tried almost all of them.  I wish I could eat gelato every day! 

The next day we went to the Spanish Steps.  The Spanish Steps were built in between 1723-1726 by De Sanctis the Spanish Ambassador.  It was built in the Piazza Trinità dei Monti and it has a church at the top of the steps.  This Piazza also has this large fountain in the center.  Rome is full of different piazzas with miniature monopoly type cars driving around.The cars were so small they looked like monopoly cars.  We also saw horse carriages that carried people from place to place.  A couple blocks away was the Trevi fountain.  Even though it was under construction, the statues and the fountain still looked amazing!

Our last stop for the day was the Pantheon. The Pantheon is an ancient temple in Rome that has a round dome.  It was built by Hadrian and dedicated to the Roman Gods.  Pantheon means the place for gods and it became a Christian church and later a shrine.  Famous Italians kings were buried there and even the Renaissance painter Raphael was buried there as well.  As we were exiting this breath taking temple, we got caught in an extremely heavy downpour of rain with thunder and lightening. Living in California we don't get so much rain, and I have never seen lightning or heard such loud thunder.  We hid under the Pantheon for a half hour, and then ran to the nearest cafe to get something to eat. 

What we saw these two days Rome was just the beginning and there was still more to see.  To find out how we finished our fabulous vacation in Rome, look at my sisters blog, Come Somersault With Sarah.  

Have you ever traveled overseas? 
Where did you go?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My First Triathlon

Before race
The last couple months, I have been training to do my first triathlon. A triathlon is a competition consisting of a swimming, cycling, and running.  This particular race was going to be a 400 meter pool swim, 13.5 mile bike, and a 5 kilometer run.  Finally, after two months of hard training, I did the triathlon.

That morning, I had to wake up at four a.m. It was pitch black outside, drizzling slightly, and very cold.  It wasn't the best morning to do a triathlon, but I was determined to do it anyways. I was the only child competing in this race, and I was ecstatic. We loaded my bike on the rack and drove to UCLA where the race was taking place.  When we arrived, we saw a gorgeous sunrise, and 30 minutes later, the race began. We had to arrive early to set up all the equipment at the two transition points, from swim to bike and then from bike to run.  After the swim, I quickly put on my tennis shoes, helmet, and jumped onto my bike.  After the bike ride, I went to transition area two and parked my bike, took off my helmet, and put on a running belt that had my race number. I was number 196. Swimming in the pool and running around the campus was the easiest part for me, but the bike part was difficult.  The bike course was a very hilly and biking the 13.5 miles was very hard.  During one of the bike laps, another competitor cut in front of me too closely, hit my front tire, and sent me falling to the ground.  Luckily I wasn't hurt and was able to get back onto the bike and continue the race.  It was an exhausting two hour race, but a very good experience. Here are some photos from the race.

The sun is just coming up over the pool

My race number, 196

Standing with my bike in transition area one

Getting ready to jump into the pool feet first.


Running to the finish line

After the race

Have you ever trained for something? 
How did you feel when you completed the race?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Adventures at Astrocamp

Photo by Ms. Harper
A few days ago, I went to Astrocamp, a camp located in the gorgeous green forests of Idyllwild. Those three days were probably the best ones I've had during camp.  We did so much like rock climbing, experimenting with gasses, swimming, making and launching rockets, and hanging out with friends. It was great to have some of my teachers, Mrs Bostrom and Mrs Duncan, as chaperons for the trip. They did a wonderful job organizing and making sure we had a great experience.

It was a long and gruesome drive that took 3 and half hours to get there. Luckily we were on a comfortable bus meant for traveling longer distances.

My cabin mates and I

When we arrived to camp, we had two afternoon classes that including rock climbing and swimming.  Rock climbing was a lot of fun, and even though some places on the rock wall were complicated to get by, I was able to make it to the top of the medium wall. In the pool, we were experiencing micro gravity.  This is how astronauts are trained before they go into space.  We couldn't touch the ground in the pool, but we had to build a cube while floating.  It was difficult to communicate with classmates as their was a no talking rule in the pool to simulate the environment in space.  Instead, we developed signs and signals for communication.  That night, I saw a beautiful deer family.  Their were two fawns and 4 adult, skinny, long legged deer.  After seeing a lot of people, they raced off into the dark, cold night.

The next morning, we experimented with gasses.  We put  a gas into two balloons and then lit them on fire.  We got a beautiful ring of fire, but unfortunately, it was so fast that I didn't get a chance to take a picture.

My Rocket, Speedy, also known as miniature Sputnik
Photo by Ms. Dickinson
We also made and launched rockets which was the  highlight of the trip. My rocket Speedy, was made out of a skinny Russian bottle that held a a drink called Kvass and weighted 175gm. The rocket had a nose made out of clay and three cardboard fins. Launching was definitely amazing because it went so high that I lost track of it in the air. It was one of the highest rockets launched.

Launch Site
I really enjoyed Astrocamp, and I hope I go back again some day.  Here is a video of a fellow student's rocket. I couldn't video my rocket because I was busy launching it.

Do you have a fun camp experience to share?