It’s happy time: Love and Laughter! And as you read this pre-programmed post, I am awaking in my first full day in sunny Ghana, West Africa!
Accompanying this article, please enjoy photos from in and around the famous Uffizi Museum of Florence, Italy, including, pictured left, Michelangelo’s gorgeous sole existing non-fresco painting. Look at those muscles on the Virgin Mary!
(Disclaimer: we DID see all these big-shot paintings at the Uffizi, but I was screamed at for going against the rules and trying to photograph them, so all the artwork here is photographed from gift shop copies. Sorry! But you get the idea… they’re beautiful.)
A.) The Seven Most LOVING Moments of Around the World, 2009:
7. The wonderful twenty-eighty birthday party thrown for me by the staff of the fanciest new restaurant in Mui Ne, Vietnam, even though they’d only known me a few days. Mmm… I still dream about that steak… and of how appreciative I felt!
6. The AMAZING kindness and hospitality of my hosts in Japan: Yuki, Mike, and Gordon.
In case you all didn’t know, Japanese apartments are even smaller than Manhattan pads, and Japanese folks sleep on tatami mats on the ground. This meant that these three amazing people let me take up a third of their living space and snore in their ears for nearly a week each.
On top of this, they took tons of time out of their busy schedules to be some of the best city (and food!) guides I’ve ever had, in a country where having a guide makes all the difference. Models of hospitality, those three!
5. Lub-d Hostel of Bangkok’s magical way of creating lasting friendships. The clan we formed at Lub-d in August was still so loving in December that a bunch of us crossed several countries to all spend Christmas week together in Bangkok!
4. Powerful human stories, like that of courageous Nate in Phuket, Thailand, that make me love our human kind even more than before.
3. The community that developed in the two weeks of Thai Massage school in Chiang Mai, Thailand. You really get to know and love people when you spend seven hours a day squeezing and twisting each other!
2. The amazing ways that people back home and across the world have reached out with love throughout these five months through the powers of internet communication. Thank you so much to friends and family, former students and coworkers, and even complete strangers!
It’s helped immeasurably, so truly, thank you!
Yay for love! And now on to Laughter…
B.) The Nine FUNNIEST Moments of Around the World, 2009:
9. Seeing a giant OCTOPUS being carried on the back of a motorcycle— the weirdest motorcycle situation of ten million really, really weird motorcycle situations I witnessed in Southeast Asia.
8. The ridiculous saga of fixing my laptop in Hanoi after it was destroyed by the extremely dramatic motorcycle journey through Vietnam’s Central Highlands. This netbook repair miracle involved extremely long man-fingernails, a disappearing store, and entire conversations moderated by Google Translator, including: “Hard drive deceased.”
7. Being stopped by the Bangkok police on Christmas Eve for eating an overly smelly fruit on the subway.
6. Golfing a frog out of my room— twice. Plus a photo of the pancaked, sun-baked frog!
5. Comparing mannequin butts across countries.
4. That ants started breaking into my bathroom for a month straight to eat my toothpaste, until a kind internet soul informed me my Vietnamese “Colgate” was likely a knockoff and may have been either sugar-filled or toxic. Yum! I threw it out that afternoon.
3. The fact that the Sausagemonger CEO of the British Sausage Company and his two cruise ship captain friends, Denzel and Ethel, were driving through Thailand in a pickup truck, splashing around in an inflatable pool in the trunk, blasting 80s one hit wonders. You don’t get much better than a summary like that.
2. The hilarious sign in the bathrooms at Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Click the link to see it, along with the elaboration. It’s worth a look, trust me!
1. In Tokyo, Japan, when our sushi was so fresh it jumped off the plate!!! And then Dee dressed it up in a little outfit.
As a former student said after reading the article: “Your face is priceless: classic Ms. Marshall freaking out and hysterically laughing at the same time.” Yes!
Coming tomorrow: One final pre-programmed post (the most important one: EPIPHANIES of 2009), and then I should be sufficiently settled in my West African nest to begin dispatching Ghana news!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!