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Hello. I am Sawyer, Riley’s brother. I am 10 years old. I am in Grade 4 and I like school. Some of my favorite things to do are Soccer, building with Lego’s, Lacrosse and playing with Riley. I also like to play chess and Minecraft. I am currently reading the Percy Jackson Series. I am most looking forward to snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and playing soccer with the kids in Cambodia. I hope you like my posts, I am looking forward to writing about my trip.
GRAND CANYON, USA November 2015
We had lunch overlooking the canyon. The hike down was so much fun. We went 3 miles. On the way up Riley and I were much better than mom and dad. they were slow. It was a nice day and I liked hiking the canyon. Please read Riley’s blog about all the facts about the grand canyon, she writes more than me. I liked all the colors and layers you can see from looking into the canyon. Hello to my class and my soccer team. Hope Red Stars win their next game!!! We drove a lot in Arizona , even through the desert. WE liked walking the trail, it was steep , has some tunnels, and lots of stairs and rocks.
HOOVER DAM < Nevada, USA
We did a tour of the Hoover Dam. Even though the tour guide was boring and talked like a robot I learned a lot by reading the information about how the dam was built. In the middle of the Hoover Dam you are between Arizona and Nevada. I thought it was interesting to learn about the men who worked on this project. It was during the great depression and they came from all over the US to work here for $4 a day. That was good money. They lived and worked here.
Here is a picture of me in the tunnels under the dam.
I liked learning how electricity is generated, the water rushes into the turbines and it spins really fast and electricity is made, using huge magnets. We saw the huge turbines. We walked on the dam. I learned a lot of facts (on Riley’s blog) but mostly liked the pictures of the men who worked the dam, and each job they had. Some did concrete, some did dynomite blasting, some did shoveling , some worked machines and some cleaned and cooked. IT all looked like hard work. We went with my Grandmothers.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, USA
We visited Las Vegas with our grandmothers.
They took us to a lot of places, even an Elvis show, which I liked. We saw the city at night all lit up, and lots of fancy hotels everywhere. Riley and I did a lot of school work here since we had wifi and nice place to stay. Walked around and saw a band play and also a light show down at “Freemont Street” which is the old part of Las Vegas. Grandma Janet and Grandma Nancy and me. They took us kids to breakfast and dinner everyday, The Buffet’s in Las Vegas have so much food. Even for Dad it is too much food. I saved room for all the desserts. The most fun was this pool that had a tunnel going through an aquarium that we got to slide down.
That is me in the tunnel. Riley has pictures on her blog with us in the tunnel. We did it 30 times because it was not crowded at all. Here is me doing some school work.
I want to say hello to all my friends an also the kids in my class in New York in Mr. Russo’s class HELLO.
TAHITI, French Polynesia
the first island we are visiting in French Polynesia is Tahiti. Hot. I viewed a map to see where exactly we are. It’s so far from New York. So many small islands in French Polynesia. Our hotel was different. Had a great turtle pool in front of our door. I enjoyed jumping off dock into the water which is so warm. The beaches here are black sand. Huge waves at public beach. Riley describes everything else in her blog. I mostly enjoyed driving around the island, seeing banana trees and the waves. We played with 2 kids from England and they were fun.
MOOREA, French Polynesia
Moorea was a beautiful island with the clearest water I ever swam in. I kayaked and snorkels every day from out bungalow on the beach. We ate breakfast and lunch here everyday, there was a grocery store close by and we had a small kitchen. My favorite part of Moorea was the boat excursion to snorkel and swim with stingrays and sharks soooo cool. I got to touch the rays. I also got to drink coconut milk straight from a coconut. I read a lot and did school work on our porch. We had a fun time on Moorea. This is me by our bungalow.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
This island is incredible. It has smaller islands, called Motu’s surrounding it and a coral reef surrounding that. It makes clear blue water in the lagoon’s. Water is very warm and the colorful fish are everywhere.
We snorkeled off of the beach and we also went on a boat excursion to snorkel with sharks and sting rays. We saw an EEL and 7 Eagle Rays. I also saw sharks that were very big.
I learned the difference between Sting Rays, Eagle Rays and Manta Rays. The only thing that I wish I saw was a Manta Ray. They are 15 feet long and we looked for them but didn’t see them. I saw 100’s of clams. Riley has picutres on her blog of the clams. They were so colorful.
I also learned how to open a coconut and eat and drink what is inside of it. We saw traditional dancers and ate by the beach because our bungalow had so many mosquitoes by it. I have a lot of mosquito bites. I didn’t like where we were staying. Riley and I swam all day. The water is amazing. We met a girl from Arizona who is in College and came to French Polynesia to study Gekko’s. She told us about the difference between the green Gekko and the brown Gekko. They were everywhere and they make sounds at night that wake me up.
I visited the Maritime Museum in Auckland where I learned about how the people from England came here long ago in ships. They slept 4 people to a bed like this, ate hard bread and bad food. The journey took between 60-100 days. As the ships got better the conditions got better.
The country is very green with rolling hills. Lots of animals , mostly cows and sheep.
I got to go Zip lining in a forest above the tree line. It was the most fun. by the end I did a flip. We learned all about the native Forest and the birds that call this home and how they are endangered. we learned about how they trap the rodents that kill the birds. IT was very interesting . We are driving around the North Island learning about the area.
Wai-o-Tapu, New Zealand
We went to a geothermal area of this region and saw how the Earths minerals make different color water and heat up the Earth from below. There was smoke and mud boiling pits and geysers. My favorite was the “Devils pool” which was a big sink hole from the ground collapsing from all the heat produced. It also smelled really bad. And I liked the green water produced from sulfuric acid in the ground. We walked all over and saw 22 different sights.
———————————–REDWOOD FOREST< NEW ZEALAND———————————
There is a Redwood tree Forest in the north Island of New Zealand. These trees were planted in 1901 and grow faster than the Redwood trees in California because of the soil here. They are not as big yet as the Giant Redwood’s in California.
WAITOMO CAVES< NEW ZEALANDWe visited 3 cool caves here. I learned and saw hundreds, no thousands, of stalactites and stalacmites. Some caves were long and narrow, some were deep and some had water gushing through them. It was fun seeing all the formations and walking through them. I learned a lot. A stalactite forms from water dripping from the ceiling , when it drips it lands on the floor of the cave and builds up to form a stalacmite. When they eventually meet up it is a column. We also saw a cave with thousands of glow worms in it. Riley has photo’s in her blog of the glow worm. They lit up the cave. ———————————————————————————-
Zorbing: New Zealand,
We stopped on the road to do this. SO COOL.We go down a big hill in a huge ball.
Riley and I did some together and some by ourselves. We bounced around so much. That is me in the ball. New Zealand is a great place with a lot to see and do.
Sydney is a nice city to walk and bike in. Biking was my favorite because we got to ride all over. The Royal Botanical gardens are nice to see plants and birds and different trees. Riley and I played a lot of soccer in the park and exercised a lot. It was really hot here. We learned a lot of history about Sydney and the prisoners that used to be sent here from England.
Northern Australia: Cairns
This is a nice town with a great Esplanade. A place to walk by the ocean. So many ships and boats going out to the Great Barrier Reef. We also saw many Cargo ships from all over the world. I learned that the country and city of the ship is written on the back. In town we saw a lot of Bats at about 6pm at night. there were thousands of them flying around and making lot of noise. They had spiked wings and in the day they slept upside down in a fruit tree, we can see them easily.
Also in town there were parrots in trees, and we saw the Australian Pelican, it is 3 feet tall and its beak is long. We went to a town swimming pool and played soccer in the park most every night. It is hot here.
Our first trip out to the Great Barrier Reef was amazing. I saw a lot of fish and coral, every shape and size, anemonies (where Nemo lives), some fish were one color and some were rainbow colored. I swam with huge Maiori Wrasse Fish (see the picture). THis fish can grow to 3 meters long, that’s 9 feet. This one is a baby. Yes this is a REAL fish I am petting. The crew from the boat took this photo from underwater and may use it on their web site. COOOOL. He kept swimming up to me and Riley and he loved us. My favorite coral is Brain Coral because it looks like a brain and the Elk coral that is blue. I am good snorkeler so I liked to go down and see things closer. It was a full day out on the reef, I learned a lot. I was very tired on the way home. I spilled boiling hot tea all over Dad on the boat, he was mad (Grandma Janet I know you are laughing right now)
In a few days I will go out again on the Reef and this time on a sailboat. Cant wait.
Sailboat to the Great Barrier Reef:I loved seeing the GIANT CLAMS on the bottom of the sea. It was only about 15 feet down. We also saw blue starfish, lots of coral. The Elk/ Staghorn coral is my favorite but I liked the table coral and broccoli coral too. I liked sleeping out on the deck. We were the only kids on the boat. I listened to the instructors teaching the divers learning how to dive, my dad let me use the oxygen and try it in the water. We snorkeled a lot of times at different reefs for 2 days. I will never forget the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
The Outback, Australia
The Outback is also called the Red Desert. Riley explained all about it in her post on the outback. Lets just say it was HOT in December here. And a ton of flies, but, the good thing is that is was low season and we had no crowds anywhere and got to do so many cool things. Hiking, spotting animals like Dingo’s, Horses, Kangaroos, Camels, lots of huge bugs and many kinds of lizards. We rode a camel, which was cool. The best part was hiking all of the trails at The West MacDonall Ranges, Kings Canyon, The Olgas and Uluru. I learned all about the Aboriginal People and how they lived and hunted. I learned about the Night Sky in the southern hemisphere and viewed stars and planets through a powerful telescope, I learned about how erosion helped carve the holes in Uluru.
Uluru is the biggest rock in the world, it actually goes under the ground for 5 Kilometers more. What we see sticking out is only a small part of it.
We Made friends with other Home School kids at a camp site in Alice Springs, Australia. This was a fun place to stay for a few days until we hit the road again.
The GIANT ANT hills were cool. They are everywhere. The “thorny devil ” lizard hangs out by the ant hills and eats them as they come out. I learned about a lot of lizards. The Olgas were a bunch of rock formations that have caves and groves in them from erosion over time. Hiking was the best. This is the desert Outback, it looks like this for 5 straight hours of riding in the car to get from Alice Springs to Uluru area. This is a dry river bed, no water because of summer and extremely hot. We stayed in some cool camp sites, mostly in cabins that had beds and air conditioning but we had to use the shared showers and bathrooms. Happy Birthday to my Dad. Merry Christmas to everyone back home.
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Indonesia: Bali Island
Indonesia was not one of my favorite places, the beach was filthy and it was too crowded everywhere you went. The only good thing is that fruit is cheap on the street stalls and we ate a lot of good fruit each day. We also did a car trip north to see the famous Rice Terraces. I learned about why they carved into the mountain 100″s of years ago with hand tools. We got to walk around them. Mom stepped in the mud by accident.These are the terraces . The rice was in between harvesting and we got to see the green stalks. Relaxing on a palm tree.
Then we visited a temple in the forest called Monkey Temple. The monkeys are everywhere> Seriously. They come up to you. One monkey reached into my pocket and went to grab it, but I put my hand in my pocket and the monkey bit me. IT didn’t break the skin but still mom had the ” first aid” people look at it.
The monkeys were fun and playful they liked water bottles and fruit. The babies were next to their mom’s. I never was that close to a monkey before and they climbed on me too. The monkeys were soft and their little hands were cute. We visited a coffee plantation where they make the most expensive Bali coffee in the world. We learned the process and that it takes a lot of time and work. We got to sample tea and hot chocolate too. This is me stir frying the coffee beans. We also saw big Cocoa Beans growing on the trees. The island of Bali was not what we expected, from the photo’s. We expected the beach to be a lot better. The people haggle and yell and scream at you and sit right next to you hoping you buy something from them. They are very annoying.
We visited the capitol, Phenom Phen. Also a village an hour away from the capital that was my favorite place and also the famous Angkor Wat Temples of Northern Cambodia. We spend a lot of time in this country. It is a Kingdom and the King rules. We visited the Royal Palace and walked around the city, I enjoyed taking Tuk-Tuk rides everywhere. We met the Monk students who study here. There is a lot of history to the Royal Palace. It is many temples in a large area. We volunteered at a place called CPOC (center for Poor and Orpaned Children) it was a school and an orphanage and a community center for all kids in the village. It was so cool, Mom taught English here , I even helped mom with the little kids class in the morning. , I got to play in the river with the boys , we played soccer games every day, twice a day after and before school. The kids go to school at all different times. The boys are really good. I will miss them and they will miss me. We all had chores to do, sweep, feed the chickens, help with school, dad dug out a garden and Mom taught in the school.Mom collected some Stony Brook soccer jerseys (my team at home) and mailed them months ago to CPOC and the Director saved the box until we arrived to give them out. Now the kids have real team jerseys and LOVE it.
Here I am showing the kids how to make letters in the sand. And also helping Mom teach the little kids. Everywhere I went in this Village people would stop me and touch my back or shoulders and smile. It is very rare to see a kid that is not Cambodian in this part of the world. Even if they were driving by on a motorbike, they would stop and come over to me. My sister and I were the first kids here and they loved us. I loved them too.
ANGKOR WAT TEMPLES: Siem Reap , Cambodia
There is so many temples in this area. Riley explained everything in her blog, read it. Angkor Wat was so old, I thought it was cool how old the Temples are and how we got to go around in a tuk-tuk to see everything for 3 days. I liked climbing and exploring and run around on the stones. Some were high and had great views. I liked all the carvings in the stone and the Buddha statues in them. Some had Trees growing out of them, that was cool. There were faces carved in many. I learned a lot of history of this place and Cambodia too. We visited a Landmine museum and I had an audio tape to listen to the facts of why there were so many landmines in this area of Cambodia. I learned a lot. I feel bad for the kids that lost legs by stepping on landmines put there 40 years ago. I will miss Cambodia it was a great Country and so different from the USA>
Oh, also on the street they sell a lot of food, and also bugs for sale, we passed this guy everyday, he sells crickets, water bugs, frogs, beetles , grasshoppers, and worms. Here is the landmines from some villages that were collected. And a photo of the huge trees growing on the temples.
THAILAND: The Kingdom of Thailand
We did a lot in Thailand. In Bangkok, the capitol, we ate a lot of street food. So much to choose from. This is a very crowded city, too many people and traffic and stores. I liked eating the food on the street though, so much variety. I ate meat, fruit, juices, crepes and noodles. The Fresh Pineapples were our absolute favorite. We had them 3 times a day. Food was very cheap and an entire pineapple cut up is only about 50 cents. We visited a lot of temples with interesting designes. My favorite was the reclining buddah temple. Compared to Cambodia and Angkor Wat (where we just came from ) these temples were more modern looking, even though they were very old.
Chiang Mai, Thailand is in northern Thailand and this was my favorite place in this country. We did a massive hike to a hill tribe village called the “Karen Hill tribe” they are known for their long necks because of the brass coils the women wear around their necks. The hike was over 6 hours to get there. We stayed in their village a few days and played with the kids. We were the only AMerican kids to stay there and it was very, very, very different than anything you can imagine. Our room was in this village. On the left side. There was a shared shower for the entire village to use. They cook outside, and all sleep in one room. There were elephants in the village, we got to bathe them and ride on them. My favorite was bathing them . In Chaing Mai, we liked visiting the temples (called Wat’s) and seeing the amazing Buddah statues. I learned about Buddhism here. We saw many monks walking around, they are going to school learning and some were lifetime monks. We saw some meditating who I thought were statues. They were real. We went to the night markets every night in Chaing Mai and ate lots of food. My parents insist I try all the Thai food and I only eat a little of it. They love it. I had my favorite “crepe ‘” guy I would go to each night. He knew me and made me the best ones. OH, people here also wanted to “touch” me also on my head or shoulders. they like seeing blond kids. I cant walk down the street without someone touching me. I got used to it though.
Thailand was so cool, I liked Northern Thailand better than the city of Bangkok.
FRANCE: Paris < France
We took a 13 hour flight to Paris from Bangkok. It had ipads on the seats so it was pretty fun. I watched movies, played games, listened to music, read book and it was a great flight. We ate a lot of food too.
Paris France, we had an apartment here that was in a good spot for seeing all the sights in Paris. We visited the Notre Dame, The Eifel Tower, The Louvre, the biggest Museum in the world. We also visited some other museums (that don’t compare at all after seeing the Louvre). I really liked this place, I thought it would be boring but it was actually really good, we went 2 days here and I saw some great ART, we saw statues, paintings, Egyptian Are, greek Art, Roman art, great sculptures, the Mona Lisa, the Venus De Milo, some huge paintings , etc.
This is a Moai from Easter Island.
I would go to the Louvre again if I come back here.
THe Notre Dame Cathedral. This was a big church with cool statues called gargoyles on the outside. A gargoyle is a mythical creature made to scare people away from the building. I spotted so many of them.
We walked around the city a lot.
We took day trips to Mount Saint Michel . A huge castle on an island used for many reasons over hundreds of years.
I also learned so much about World War II and how the Allied forces went to the beaches of Normandy and attacked the Nazi German Forces. There is a lot of history here and I learned a lot and watched documentary on it also. It was cool to walk the beaches that the soldiers faught so hard on. This is Utah Beach and Omaha Beach, named during the battles in Normandy. We were the only ones here and ran around the beach for a while. It’s hard to believe thousands of people died here. This is me in a German Bunker used during the battle > I saw many bullet holes in here. There are over 9,000 soldiers, UNITED STATES soldiers buried here, that died here fighting during World War II. It was sad to see all their head stones. We read a few of them. This area is now American Soil because France gave it to the USA for helping them end the Nazi German Invasion .
The Eiffel Tower. Riley and I researched the Eiffel tower and learned a lot of why it was built. It was a rainy and foggy day when we went but it was bigger than I thought it would be. We went to the top of it but couldn’t see that much. I liked France and so did my family. We ended up staying longer than expected here and visited many things. I enjoyed walking around the city eating bakery items in the “Patissieri” and French bread with our meals that we made in the apartment.
Belgium: BRUGGE , Belgium
We took a train from Paris, to Brugge. This was a mid evil small city. Every building was old, the streets were old and all cobblestone. We rented bikes for 2 days and rode everywhere. It wasn’t crowded at all, we rode out to another town, saw windmills, I climbed up to the top even though mom told me not to. The city has canals and bridges going over them. There were not many tourists here because it was winter. Brugge is known for its CHOCOLATE and WAFFLES . They were excellent. We ate so much chocolate, I tried all different kinds. This is a typical street in the city in Brugge. Next to a canal and small narrow street, when you get to the square it is large and you can ride anywhere you want in any direction. I liked to jump the curb with the bike. I loved riding around. The city also has a professional soccer (called football) team and we watched the game on TV. This city reminded me of being in an old time movie. The buildings can never be changed, it is a world heritage site so it will always look like this. No big signs or neon lights or things like that. The people who live here love it this way.
HOLLAND/ THE NETHERLANDS/ AMSTERDAM
Since I love to ride bikes, we got to ride in Amsterdam for 2 days. There are thousands, and thousands of bike riders in this city. I loved it we rode everywhere. I liked the canals and bridges. I also got to go to school in Holland. The Andersen School in Woerden, Holland. Thank you Afke for allowing us in your classroom. You are a great teacher! The kids spoke good English and I liked doing the Math lessons and going to gymnastics. We had to wear special shoes in the gym and we had to walk there from the school to get to the other school which had the gymnastics. It was cold out but I like the cold. We also to the Van Gogh Museum. I learned a lot about him and his life story.
Barcelona, my favorite thing was going to a FC Barcelona Football (soccer) game vs. Celta de Vigo. It was so cool to be at the stadium with 99,000 fans. We had great sets. I got to see the best players in person. Messi, Neymar, Suarez and the defender Pique. We walked to the stadium too. We also visited the Segrada Familia, this is a HUGE church that is still being built and it has a lot of different kinds of sculptures outside. The inside was really big and had stained glass windows, statues, pictures and the ceiling had large columns that looked like tree branches. It was different than other churches. We also visited the Picasso Museum too. It was not as good as the Van Gogh Museum (in Amsterdam) but we got to see a lot of his paintings there. We walked around Barcelona too and took the subway everywhere. We got to go to walk on the beach, even though it was winter, we still wanted to see it.