Ever since I arrived at Taipei American School, I had the dream of traveling to another country with a competitive traveling team. I did not know if it was going to be sports, speech and debate, or an art competition. I just knew it was going to happen. Upon arriving to the school, I quickly realized that sports were not a major priority in middle school so that was already scratched off my list but what I didn't know was that there was a program involving the United Nations. The school clearly spend much time and resources to compete internationally because almost every teacher was involved one way or another with the program. I had never heard of this club and was pretty intimidated by the kids who already had several years of practice and experience behind them, but I knew I had a background of international relations and travelling all over the world so I went along forward and tried the application process anyways. Luckily, my dream came true about 6 months ago, October 2016, when I got accepted in the traveling MUN team. This prestigious program consists of a team of 14 kids, all from the 8th grade, which participates in a competition at the International School of Singapore in Singapore to debate against kids from all over the Asia. 27 schools to be exact. International school of Kuala Lumpur, American School in Amman Jordan, and Shanghai American School to name a few.
So back to life before the conference itself. We practiced twice a week, 2 hours each session, from beginning of November until February 24, the day before our departure for the conference. It was not just us kids debating by ourselves after school. We were accompanied by two teachers, one from the IT department from the school and another from the lower school English department. Both were very experienced and thoroughly explained the basics of MUN along with many other useful skills. But this is not where the team of people coming along us stopped. There were 2 high schoolers, both part of the very extensive MUN program in Upper School, that were here as mentors to guide the debate and make sure that all of our work was well crafted, composed with general ideas not just pinpointed issues, and most importantly correctly formatted. These high schoolers, Brent and Dylan, were the driving force that made us want to spend those Friday nights completing our final clauses or final points of our against speech. Without these playful leaders, the team would have less energy overall and we would not have completed as much as we did over the course of our 4-month journey. They also came on the trip because they would be chairs (I will explain later) at the conference along with high schoolers from all around Asia as this is a Middle School only conference. Apart from their serious MUN duties, they were some of the funniest people I have ever met with jokes and made up phrases that will stay with me until the next time I spend time with them where I will hear some more of these thrilling jokes.
Brent Lin Dylan Sun
I especially got along with Brent as he is an Eagle Scout and I went to his Eagle project the year before this conference:
Now to the first day of the actual trip:
It was 11 am when we were all in the bus and headed to the airport. It was a rainy and drowsy day which just added to the excitement of leaving Taiwan. Most kids just saw this as a regular trip, but this weekend’s trip would not only mark my first trip while traveling on a school team but also my 45th country I had been to overall. The list keeps on growing! So we arrived at the airport, did the usual check in with Singapore Airlines and then headed to customs.
The candy that we received at the check-in counter
I took the pictures by the way with a tin foil background, and i thought it would look cool but it didn't really work out :)
Everything went smoothly and not soon afterward we were in the food court, calming our growling stomachs. Everyone started to order so I quickly grabbed some of my favorite noodles with sour chicken and sat down with the rest of the group.
We then headed to the gate which featured an unusual model plane as you enter. The airplane ride was especially nice as the movie selection was excellent featuring Mullan and Lala Land. TV shows featured the Simsons and the Big Bang Theory. The electronic setup didn't stop here as every seat had a USB charge port and a 3 plug charger below the seat.
Four hours later, we arrived at the best airport in the world, Changi Airport, and off we were to the hotel.
Our hotel had a beautiful view on a marvelous waterpark with slides up to 20 meters but unfortunately it is school policy that we are not allowed to swim on school trips. So we checked into our rooms and headed out for dinner. The rooms in hotel were very intricately detailed such as the ones below:
We all went to the mall and searched for our favorite restaurants. My two roommates and I found a nice halal shop where they sold excellent rice with chunks of chicken inside. We went back to the hotel, put our computers to charge, and went to sleep. My friends and I talked a bit and finally went to bed at 2:30 am!
Here is a screenshot of mt Fitbit tracker showing my lack of sleep:
Team bonding was clearly not a problem as shown in this picture:
And yes the kid who is not smiling was one of my two roommates who also did not sleep very much during the trip. The other roommate is the Indian child in the front. He always smiles!
We woke up towards 8 am and headed to the lobby for breakfast. Although today was not the first official day of debate, we would still go to the school to participate in the opening ceremony and then do some quick icebreakers to know everyone else better. We had some time to spare before heading to the school so we all decided to practice our opening speeches. These would be very influential to our reputation as a delegate as it was really our first impression to other delegates. Here are some picture of us practicing below:
We boarded the bus towards 1pm and headed to the school. Singapore Overseas Family School is located in east Singapore and is a pretty large campus. 3 spacious buildings, each 11 stories tall all encircling several soccer fields. And then, in a hangar type structure, tens of basketball courts all sheltered from the rain, a very imminent issue in any south east Asian country.
Unfortunately, today was a rainy day so playing soccer was not an option. Anyways, we went into the large amphitheater, and commenced the opening ceremony. It started off with a nice song from the choir, completely uncorrelated to the topic of MUN, but nonetheless very a nice start to the event. Then the president of the school came to talk and mentioned how his whole career in public speaking began at 7th grade conference and how much it benefited him as a whole. Now it was time to walk into our committee rooms, away from all my friends, and meet some new people. We started off with several presentations, vaguely reminding delegates on how the procedures work and when to ask certain points. Some of these include motion to move to previous question, which makes the house skip to the next procedure and point of personal provide audibility which suggests that the speaker speaks in a more audible tone. After finishing this, we headed to the more fun part of the day. Quizzes. Since everyone in the room had some kind of electronic device, we played this game called Kahoot where everyone in rooms can respond to a quiz hosted by the chair and we try to get every question correct. So we started off with a flag quiz. I completely crushed everyone else by a score of 13000 when the 2nd best had a mere 4000. We then went to type of birds where I only placed 4th but then we came back to my strong game of airline logos where I got another 13000. It was now 5:30 and we headed back to the hotel for a quick dinner before heading to sleep. Just as a side note, we were more reasonable tonight and slept at 2 am :))
This still had an affect on me as I was extremely tired the next day. This picture pretty much sums up the whole situation:
It was 7 o’clock when we woke up and headed to the hotel breakfast. It consisted of some sausage, eggs, toast, and some orange juice. We all discussed our excitement for the competition and immediately after finishing breakfast, we all went around the hotel in search of kids from different schools and talking about the upcoming conference. This was pretty easy as every single school that came from abroad stayed at this hotel.
About 30 minutes later, we headed to the school and searched for our committee rooms. My organization, the World Health Organization, was located on the 11th floor of one of the 3 immense buildings. We started off by all presenting our opening speeches which briefly outlined our country stance, which one of the 4 topics we had chosen to do research on and then we all finished by the same sentence that read: this delegate is excited about a weekend of fruitful debates and wishes good luck to all other delegates. If you haven’t noticed yet, in MUN there are certain words that are repeated millions of times. Fruitful, well-crafted and in an attempt are just a few of these words. Now it was time for lobbying.
In MUN, about 2 months before the conference starts, the school hosting the competition publishes a document stating all four of the topics that will be debated in the conference for each committee. These topics are usually final but in certain special cases such as one of the topics of my friend, the topic had already been debated in the real United Nations so he had to choose a new one. Anyway, each delegate then chooses one of the topics to research on and after doing several tens of hours of research, we put it into a document where the delegate proposes several original solutions that address the issue. This document is called a resolution. You are only required to choose one topic and write one resolution but since our school loves to over-prepare its participants, we all wrote a resolution for 3 out of the 4 topics. Not only does this help us to write better resolutions in the future, but also the debate is more interesting as you actually have done research and know what is happening during debate. And if you really think that one of the clauses in you resolution would enhance the resolution debated, you can submit an amendment where you propose your idea and then the houses debates on it for a certain period of time.
My resolution just for an example: World Health Orginization resolution Loic Bosch (1)
Writing resolutions is a very effective way to prepare and that is why some of us even wrote a fourth one just for fun to enhance our experience. What we did not know was that some delegates from other schools had not even written ONE full resolution. They had no idea what was happening and only hurt the debate as when they were required to make a speech, it was utterly bad and annoyed the delegates who had actually prepared. Next came the lobbying: everyone separates in 4 groups depending on the topic they chose, and then the small group creates a google doc and everyone puts their resolution in the doc. The people then agree on which clauses are good and then the delegate with the most good clauses is determined as the main submitter. This title is very prestigious and many delegates fight for it by saying that their grade for MUN depends on this. This is because many schools have MUN as a class but this way of main submitting as a guaranteed good grade makes no logical sense as I am sure that the directors of the schools prefer that their students contribute to the debate overall instead of main submitting a bad resolution. Anyways, we now started on lobbying. My first topic was measures to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases but when I saw the majority of people heading for that topic, I decided to switch to one of my backup topics of measures to make dental health worldwide and inexpensive as I knew that I would not only be main submitter but I would also have the chance to educate the rest of committee.
Some pictures of our time during the trip:
Thank You for reading the entire post on this incredible experience!!!
A day on the boat:
As you can see in the picture above, we had a decent sized sailboat for about 5 people including one instructor. (Of course, this is not our boat but it shows a pretty good representation of the actual size) We started our voyage at the largest sailing port in Europe, La Rochelle and then began to sail towards the first destination of our trip, Ile de Re. Now to a typical day on the boat.
After being woken up at about 9 by a large cowbell, the 4 kids detached the boat from our spot in the port and started sailing. We usually sailed for about 5 hours and you may be wondering what we would do for such a long time while being rocked back and forth but oh my we had so much to do! First of all, we could be outside enjoying the perfect weather, a cool breeze and a bright sun, but we usually stayed inside for the first 2 hours of the trip as it was less bumpy. Inside we could play cards, draw, prank each other, or even sleep. And if we were lucky, the captain would let us put the anchor down and swim in the middle of the ocean! Once we arrived to our destination, we emphatically asked to leave the boat to go explore the town. Of course we cooked and washed all the dishes by ourselves but the only thing we needed help with was the recipe. So, of course, the captain helped us and we had 5 days of culinary perfection. At night we always relaxed for an hour on the deck and asked each other questions from our lives back home. Two kids were from France and then my two best friends also were expatriates in Asia, based in Shanghai.
Cette petite île est situé une heure au nord de la Rochelle. Avec une côte qui est complètement naturelle avec que des plages a l'est et a l'ouest, la population de lile est que 15,000 personnes! On est très bien ici. Les seules manières d'arriver à l'île est celle de la voiture ou d'un bateau et comme c'est un camp de voile, parfait. Nous sommes arrives au port vers 4 heures du soir mais malheureusement á cause des courants, nous ne pouvions que rentrer à 19 heures. Une fois qu'on étaient rentrés dans la ville fortifiee, nous avons eu le droit de nous promener pour une petite heure. Cette ville est pleine de petits magasins et de bons restos mais se qui a attrapé mon attention le plus était le château en plein milieu de la ville. Tout ce qui reste son deux arches et un grand clocher. Voici une photo:
This small island is located one hour north of La Rochelle. With a coastline that is completely natural with beaches to the east and a west, we are very happy here. The city only has 10,000 people living there! The only way to get to the island is by car or boat and it's a perfect sailing camp destination. We arrived at the port around 4 pm but unfortunately because of the high tide, we had to leave and come back at 7 pm in order to get in. Once we had returned to the fortified town, we had the right to walk for an hour. This town is full of small shops and good restaurants but what really caught my attention most was the castle right in the middle of the city. All that remains are its two arches and a large bell tower and of course the walls. Here's a photo above
Le coucher de soleil :)
Born in 1887, Charles Gris, better known as Le Corbusier was a modern designer who revolutionized architecture in the early 19th century. After teaching in a small school located in Paris, Le Corbusier started designing villas for private customers, many of these large houses are now museums due to their uniqueness. This then led to the next part of his life in which he designed larger buildings. He first started with large apartment buildings but there was not much improvise so he started drifting to other types of large structures.
This is when he designed the incredible Notre Dame du Haut church in Eastern France. Located on top of a hill overlooking the Alsatian region, you can see the Alps, the Vosges, and the Black Forest all at once. Now to the uniqueness of the church itself. Le Corbusier's mother taught him when he was young that the most beautiful form of architecture was that of simplicity. So when you enter the building, you immediately notice the plainness of the structure. Since in was built directly after WW2, there is a lot of concrete but he uses it to attract attention to certain objects. There is only one decoration in the entire church and that is the Virgin that was saved from the previous church that was burned down by the Germans during WW2. So he placed it in a small window in the midst of a vast ocean of cement. Since mass is usually in the morning, he oriented the wall with the virgin so that the light would shine brightly through that one window. This leads us to the next topic of light. The church is very dark except for that one window and another one which is located on top of the bell tower. These natural "spotlights" make you seem as if you are in heaven with the magical lighting and the jaw-dropping acoustics. The structure is made in a way that from the outside it may seem normal but inside the curvatures and the wave-like roof result in a mixture of sounds found nowhere else in the whole world.
Another cool part about this chapel is that one of my mom's best friends from elementary school, Emmanuel Bueb, well her father is very famous for taking pictures of the chapel during construction. These pictures are very precious as they are the only ones that were taken during this time and thus cannot be retaken. This picture is the front cover of the book that my mom's friend made with all her dad's pictures.
The same day we were there, all of the Corbusier's works were admitted to the Unesco program. So that is one for the records, being to a site recognized by the UNESCO that same day!
My own little photoshop project!
Colorado Day 1: Arriving in Denver, CO Today we woke up very early to put all our luggage in our car. We were headed to the airport for my soccer tournament in Denver. Our flight was scheduled for 6:00 A.M. so we should have been there by 4:30 but some delays at home made us get to the airport at 5:00 so our luggage had a late luggage tag on it which meant that our baggage was not guaranteed on the flight😔 but luckily all our luggage did make it on the flight😀 In Denver we took our rental car and went directly to Sports Authority Field at Mile high where the runner-up world champions of professional football in 2014 played their home games. We toured the stadium and even went on the field!🏈 After that we met my cousin Elise and had dinner together at a Mediterranean restaurant. We then went to the hotel to sleep and my entire soccer team was there.
Day 2: Le premier jour de mon tournoi: Real Colorado 2014 Today my first game was at 11:30, so I had to get up at 8:00 to eat breakfast and be at the field by 10:30. So at 8:00am as scheduled, we got up to go eat a free buffet only to those participating in the soccer tournament. I took a breakfast burrito and some watermelon. Après, nous sommes partis pour mon premier jeu du tournoi. On a gagné 1-0 grâce à un but de volée par un de mes coéquipier. Nous avons mangé un lunch puis avons commencé notre deuxième match. Celui-là on a gagné 3-2 grâce à mon penalty et un autre but de moi. Apres on est allé à un match de foot professionnel des Colorado Rapids. Bonne nuit.
Day 3 Today we started off by eating at our private breakfast again. I had a croissant and some pineapple. Our first game was a 1-0 win for us. We played a team from Northern Colorado. In between both games, the whole team went to watch X-Men which was a fantasy movie. The 4th and last game before the final was a 2-0 loss playing in the rain and mud. This team was from Vail so they had an advantage in the rain. Now it was time to prepare for the big game: The Final. We then went to the hotel to swim and relax our muscles.
Some soccer pictures
Day 4: La finale Aujourd'hui c'était le grand jour de la finale, alors dès le matin je me suis mis en mode d'importance. Pour le petit déjeuner, j'ai mangé de la pastèque et une gauffre avec du sirop d'érable. Notre match était à 1:10pm alors il fallait partir à 12:00 pour y être à 12:20. Nous avons joué contre une équipe du Nebraska. L'équipe courrait très vite et les joueurs étaient plus grands. Leur premier but était après une volée qui était rattrapée par notre gardien mais le joueur a marqué sur le rebond. Après, j'ai marqué un but penalty. Après notre perte, on est allé manger. Directement après nous nous sommes rendus vers une petite ville au Colorado qui s'appelle Boulder ou on s'est installé à notre hôtel est on a marché dans la ville. Une maison du campus universitaire était une fraternité de fêtards et dans leur jardin, il y avait beaucoup de bouteilles de bière. Nous sommes allés après à notre hôtel a Broomfield ou j'ai pu dormir dans ma propre chambre!
Day 5: Rocky Mountain National Park Today we woke up at 8:00 am to eat our breakfast and then drive up the mountains to some of the most majestic mountains in all the Rocky Range. At the first visitor center, we took a map and the ranger circled places that were interesting to see along the way up the mountains. We stopped at some 5 view points to take a look at how beautiful these vistas really were. At one view point, we saw medium sized marmots that licked the rocks to get nutrients and salt. After our road trip we decided it was time for some relaxation so we went to some natural sulfur springs. They were built on a small hill, so the higher you went the warmer the pools would be. They ranged from 94 degrees to 112 degrees Fahrenheit. After some bathing my mom and I realized that our maximum was 109 degrees while my dad's was 111 degrees. My mom and I could not even put our feet in the 112 degree water while my dad could. After this relaxing time, we went to this nice, small, quaint little restaurant that served traditional American staples. I took a small 4 oz steak and my parents took a salad. It was a good way to end our day. Good night.
Day 6: Georgetown and the silver and gold mines Aujourd'hui ont c'est levée vers 8:20am pour aller au petit-déjeuner de l'hôtel. Directement après, ont à roulé vers une petite ville qui s'appelait Georgetown. Là-bas, il y avait un bureau de tourisme où nous sommes allés demander pour les choses intéressantes à faire dans la ville. La dame nous a dit que c'est dans cette ville qu'autrefois tous les propriétaires des mines avoisinantes y habitaient. Évidemment ça voulait dire qu'ils étaient riches et qu'ils avaient de belles maisons que nous avons pu voir pendant notre promenade. Avant d'aller visiter Silverplume, une petite ville entourée de mines d'argent, nous sommes allés manger à la terrasse d'un petit restaurant. Moi j'ai pris une omelette avec du fromage et mes parents ont partage une salade. Àpres une visite à la mine d'or, et un peu de "gold panning" nous sommes allés voir ma cousine Élise qui h'abite à Denver. Nous avons mangé au restaurant "Acorn " pres de la boulangerie Babette apres avoir cherche les deux grandes miches que Papa avait commande et pour lesquelles Elise a du beaucoup se demener. Nous avons reussi a voir Ghyslaine a son arrivee a Denver juste avant notre depart. Au revoir Denver.
My cousin and her husband
Baltimore/ IcelandDay 1
Today we woke up at 8:30 to finish packing and cleaning before leaving to the airport at 11:30. We put our luggage in the car and headed to the airport. We took our boarding tickets and boarded the airplane. The trip from Phoenix was 1h and 30mn to Houston International Airport. We directly went to eat some Asian noodles before waiting what we thought was 30 min till our plane left. Unfortunately, our plane had some unknown delays in New Orleans. We waited 2 hours charging our iPads and iPhones while our plane arrived. Five hours later, we were safe in Baltimore at a local time of 3:20 A.M. Good Night. Day 2
Aujourd'hui nous nous sommes réveillés à midi. Avec le décalage, il n'était que 9am en Arizona. Après ont est allé à une petite ville à côté de la mère qui s'appelé Havre de Grâce. Ont à marché un peu sur la promenade et nous avons aussi joué dans un parc. On est rentrés à la maison pour se préparer pour le jeu de softball de Emily. Elle a gagné 7-4 et après on est allés se coucher.
Today we started off with a small toast and some jelly for breakfast and then we were headed strait for the City of Baltimore. My brother in law Ruin, brought us to a street where we walked a little bit to a small coffee shop underneath the Four Seasons Hotel. I caught up on some sports while my mom charged her phone and looked at what time our tour was. We were going to visit Oriole Park at Camden Yards. This is the official baseball park for the Baltimore Orioles. So we headed towards the large warehouse. Camden yards is a very unique stadium. It has a normal ballpark but the cool part is that they reused an old warehouse and converted it to some offices and shops. This also serves as a homerun deflector. Any baseball that hits it will just bounce right off. We visited some party suites and the press box and we even visited the home dugout. After that it was dinner time so we went to eat some chicken which Nicole prepared and she is a very good cook. 🍗🍗. Yummy. We then went to sleep.
Aujourd'hui on a commencé notre journée par avoir un petit déjeuner de gauffres et de sirop d'érable. Après on a fait un voyage de 1h pour aller à un village Amish. Les Amish sont des personnes qui ont quitté l'église Anglaise pour déménager aux Etats-Unis. Aux Etats-Unis ils ont continué une vie très simple et sans haute technologie alors on a visite un village Amish et dégusté un repas traditionnel au restaurant. Ensuite on est allé à l'enseigne des chocolat Hershey. On a suivi un tour pour voir comment le chocolat était fabriqué. Ils nous ont donné quelques échantillons et après nous sommes rentrés à la maison. Bonne Nuit:)
Today we started off by eating some toast and some fruit. Today we were leaving but I wanted to spend a little more time with Emily, Xavy and Izzy so we stayed home until about 3:00pm when we left to go to the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum in Washington D.C. They had a space shuttle and we even got some space ice cream at the end. We then left to go to Iceland. In our plane there was a USB plug but you had to pay for your dinner. Knowing that we might not have a dinner in the airplane, we had already taken a sandwich at the airport. We then slept on our red eye plane as we knew that it would be a short night. Good Night.
Aujourd'hui nous sommes arrivés à Reyjavik environ 8:00am. On a pris notre voiture de location et après on a pris la route pour 1:30h vers Reykjavik. Nous sommes arrivés et il y avait encore quelque heures avant de pouvoir rentrer dans l'hotel alors nous avons dormi 3 heures dans la voiture pour attendre. On s'est installés avant d'aller dans le centre de Reykjavik. On à visité le centre ville, mangé une soupe, et fini notre journée avec une crêpe au Nutella. Bonne Nuit.
Today we woke up at 8:30am to get some waffles and start our 2hr road trip to a small town in the Northwest of the island called Borganes. In the city center, we visited a small museum called the Settlement Center. One exhibition was about Egil Saga and another was about the first Viking settlers. In between both exhibitions, we ate at the restaurant which had only locally grown fresh food. We then headed East to visit one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the whole island: ...We took some pictures and left pretty quickly because it was pouring. We then returned to Reykjavik where it was midnight and experienced a rare midnight sunset in Iceland. Good Night!
Aujourd'hui on s'est réveillé à 11:30 nous avons mangé à un petit café Icelandais pour le lunch. Puis nous sommes allés au bureau de tourisme pour planifier notre journée du lendemain. Après on est allé au Blue Lagoon. Le Blue Laggon est une piscine naturelle géo thermale à un peu près 39°C. Elle se trouve dans un champ de lave. L'eau est bonne pour la peau mais pas pour les cheveux! On est après alle se coucher. Bonne Nuit!
Today we woke up at 9:30 and headed towards Thingvellir National park. This park is important for geology because that's where the continental divide is and for history because that is where the first parliament in all of Europe was started. Then we went to Geyser National Park where the 2nd largest geyser in the world erupts very 6-7 minutes (the 1st one is Old Faithful). On our way to our next stop, Gullfos, we saw a lot of sheep and horses on the side of the road. In Gollfos we took pictures which I will put in next and walked on a small trail to an other viewpoint. And there was our second to last day in Iceland. This tour is called The Golden Circle. Good Night!
Today we woke up at about 10:30 to start our last day in Iceland. First we went to the public library where there was an photography exhibition by Ragnar who took some pictures about climate change in Iceland. Then we went to a Saga Museum but unfortunately it looked like the same one we had visited a couple days ago in Borganes so we just ate an ice cream and headed for a hotel lobby who had the World Cup on. Then we went to a vegetarian restaurant called Glow. There they served a numerous amount of salads and chicken wraps. We had a cucumber salad and ate chicken wrap to finish our last day in Iceland.
Today we woke up at 4:00am to go to the airport. We got onto the airplane and 5 hours later we were in Switzerland. I was excited because my grandparents were expecting us and together we drove to Thann, France to eat some soup and go to sleep.
Puerto Rico 2015Co-qui, Co-qui, Co-qui. We woke up this morning with the repetitive but soothing sound of the native blue-headed frog. This magazine-worthy amphibian is known for its bright colors and is only found on the 3500 square mile island of Puerto Rico. After a short stop to get a taste of Puerto Rico, a traditional ham and cheese sandwich topped off with pickles, we took off headed for El Yunque National park. El Yunque is the only tropical rain forest run by the United States National Park Service. Plants of all kind hang from every which corner, lizards and iguanas climb every tree, monkeys swing from every branch. No, the monkey part is not true but it's quite an incredible scene. After a short drive home we met Yann, my brother who is a pilot based in Puerto Rico, and found a typical restaurant called La Vacca Brava. This directly translates to the brave cow.
Before meeting up with Yann, we took a little breakfast bite at a nearby taco shop. We then hit the road and headed west towards a quiet and quaint beach where massive waves collided with volcanic rock spewing mist all over the beach. Then we headed towards a cove on the water where natural caves formed. Fun fact, the native people that lived their hundreds of years ago used the caves as a town hall and met for political and spiritual purposes.
Today we woke up bright and early at 5 in the morning to take a one hour plane ride to St. Bartolommei, an island one colonized by the french. In fact, if you didn't know, you might think you were in France with bakeries on every street corner. So we started off by meeting my dads nephew. Stephan, was born in Algeria like my dad, and en moved to Colmar, Alsace, where my dad and him spent a lot of time together. So he told us the best beaches,bakeries, and boutiques. After a tour in the city, we took our car and crossed the island to the north eastern side, about a 40 minute ride with spectacular views everywhere. Literally. Colombo beach is only accessible by a 30 minute hike along a gorgeous hill covered with all sorts of vegetation intertwined with cacti, or by boat. After spending some quality time snorkeling and talking to fellow french citizens. But sadly after returning on the windy roads, we were called back to the airport to leave.
This morning we woke up at 10 after getting home late from the airport yesterday. We started off by eating at a quiet and quaint restaurant called Caficultura. This modern cafe serves typical Puerto Rican food with an American twist. I ordered a coconut pancake topped off with strawberry jam and coconut shreds. Walking through the streets, I noticed how beautiful the paved roads were in old San Juan. These small cobblestone squares are tinted grey with a hint of blue, blending right in with the nearby ocean. Shortly after leaving the restaurant, we stumbled upon a basketball court. This court had been created by basketball star Carmelo Anthony to promote basketball in this Puerto Rican slum. Then we went to the Museo De Las Americas. This museum talks about Spanish, African, and European heritage in Puerto Rico. For dinner, we ate at a small Tex-mex restaurant where I ordered two soft shelled tacos.
We started off this morning with a quick swim in a nearby resort where my brother, Yann, met us in the poring rain. El San Juan, the resort where we were swimming, was built in 1968 and was originally a warehouse until covered to a resort in 1991. Following our relaxation we headed to old San Juan where we ate at a American /Puerto Rican fusion restaurant. They served adventurous but delicious dishes where truckloads of taste were poured into your mouth after every bite.
Today we started off by eating at our favorite restaurant Caficultura. Then we headed towards the old town to pick up a pinacolada at the birthplace of the world famous drink. Then we visited the governirs palace, a small version of the white house with fancy rooms. Here are some pictures:
This blog is in French. I will try to alternate between both languages from now on
Ce blog est en Francais. Je vais essayer d'alterner entre le francais et l'anglais.
Notre premier weekend a Taiwan. Aux Etats-Unis nos weekends étaient toujours très occupés. Arrivés dans une ville où nous ne connaissions personne avec un weekend de libre, nous avons trouvé une opportunité de faire du volontariat avec la compagnie de mon Papa. Ma famille et quelques autres personnes sont allées en montagne dans une réserve naturelle qui faisait partie d’une ONG pour aider à enlever des plantes nuisiblea. Alors nous avons commencé par manger un 'rice ball', une boule de riz avec un peu de saumon ou de poulet au milieu. La route pour y aller était un peu tortueuse mais quand nous sommes arrivés ça valait le coup. La vue dans les montagnes était spectaculaire à cause de la brume et du soleil, incroyable. Enfin, nous avons enfilé des super grosses bottes qui montaient jusqu’à la taille pour que l’eau ne rentre pas. Nous sommes allés dans des petits bassins d’eau boueuse ou le monsieur cultivait des plantes qu’il protegait. Notre job était d’enlever des petites plantes qui envahissaient ses cultures. Ensuite nous avons visité une rivière glaciale mais comme nous avions encore nos bottes il ne faisait pas froid! Quand nous avons fini, un bus est venu nous chercher et nous sommes repartis pour la ville de Taipei. Dans le bus nous avons rencontré une jeune fille qui travaille pour une ONG qui protège les tortue de mers. Elle s’appeler Shi-lin et elle nous a montre un trés beau temple bouddhiste qui s'apelle Xingtian!
Je suis tres content!
Read all about my Japan trip here! Day 1 : Arriving in Tokyo , Narita Airport
Today we arrived in Tokyo, Japan. After a 13 hour flight, we took a 1 hour bus from Narita International Airport to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Since it was only 4 pm,we decided to take a walk in downtown Tokyo. We found a restaurant called Muji where we could have a great view on a street where only women stood there waiting for an actrice to come by. Surprisingly we found out that the women never cheered or clapped for the actrices. The way to show their respect was by standing up. In the restaurant, we had a choice of 2 regular dishes, like chicken and sweet potatoes, with a choice of 2 salads. After dinner, we came back to our hotel to have a good night sleep and to limit any jet lag.
The bus lady bows to the bus as we are leaving the station!
Traffic info is tough to figure out!
View of Tokyo Ginza from our hotel room
Today was a walk-a-thon! First, since I woke up at 4 AM because of jet lag, we went jogging around the Imperial Palace, the real one where the emperor still lives.. We did get yelled at by a very stern policeman because in a certain area we weren't allowed to run. After that we came back to the hotel, took a shower, and then prepared to eat at a nearby restaurant actually in the underground part of our hotel. They are known for their French toast which was quite good. My mom then went to the bathroom and came out with a nice lady who could speak a little French. She then offered to give my mom a ticket to the Japanese theater Takarasuka because she had to visit her mom on the seashore of Japan about 2 hours from Tokyo. During intermission , my parents decided to switch places so my dad could watch the second half of the show. We then took the metro from Ginza to Asakusa. In Asakusa we visited one of the most famous temples/shrines. Senjo-ji is also the oldest one in Japan. Since it is in Tokyo, it is heavily visited every day. After that an other nice lady showed us a good luck tradition next to the temple and it turn out I would be lucky in the future...we will see! Mayumi and my mom
Traditional Japanese food
Today we started off with a nice jog around the park.Twice running and once walking. We then called our Jananese friend and she said to meet at 12:00pm in our hotel. She brought us to Roppongi Hills where we ate at a restaurant where only members could go. I took an all Italian lunch. Spaghetti, bread, and sorbet. After a tasty meal, we went to an Art museum, it was a nice architectural building. My mom and I then went to our hotel to meet my dad and find a restaurant. Our restaurant choice was one that my mom had seen the night before.
This is a view of the park we ran around this morning
This morning we did not wake early enough to go running so we went to eat with Papa. All Japanese restaurants are only open starting at 10 or 11. Once you delete all those restaurants there are only European or American places. 1. Aux Bacanales or 2. Cafe Salvador 3. Starbucks. We waited a little longer this time and found the same restaurant we ate the first day: Remm. My dad then went to work and we went to work too. We started finding sweets everywhere. We tried a rice pudding snack, a green tea ice cream, a Belgium waffle, and a caramel bread! In Ginza we also found a nice ceramic holder to hold your chopsticks and a nice little lunchbox good for a little rice cake and a seaweed container at the bottom. We then found my mom's beloved tea house, Chia Ginza. At night we chose a small traditional soba noodle place. After our dinner we stumbled on a futsal stadium and watched the game. This is the outfit that I wore after we came back from our long day walking. This is called a Yukata.
Day 4 Today was nice, another rainy day. In the morning we asked the concierge to help us find a museum. She suggested two museums: Museum of technology and innovation, and the museum of natural science. But instead we went to visit our new hotel with dad. We then walked through a new neighborhood and discovered another area of Tokyo where a lot of embassies are located. We saw the Nigerian and the United States embassy. On the way back we stopped at a coffee shop and were amazed that such a wonderful aquarium stood before our eyes. A difference between our two hotels was that in our new one called Okura, all the female staff were dressed in a Kimono.
This is a picture of a temple in the neighbourhood around our new hotel.
Day 5 Today we started off by eating a nice smoothie (yuzu and citrus) and pretzel at Cafe Salvador. We then did some shopping at Muji store where I made a wood block print book for Father's Day. After we met our friend Mayumi at Okura hotel were we met a German man who was riding his motorcycle from Berlin to Tokyo. We invited him to eat with us at a restaurant that Mayumi knew. I took teriyaki and my mom took a Sukiyaki. For dessert, I took a yuzu sorbet and mom took a green tea ice cream. After that Mayumi took us to her friend where we had a great view of Tokyo. We had to leave early to pick up Yann. At night we ate at a Korean Barbecue. Yann and I really enjoyed the Korean barbecue.
Day 6: Meiji-Jingu and Imperial garden
Today we met Kan (dad's colleague ) at Laduree where we had to taste a French macaroon. We then went to a Japanese garden where we saw the difference between a Japanese and a western style garden.The differences that I saw was that in a Japanese garden there are a lot of medium size trees whereas in a western garden there are big and small trees. Also in a Japanese garden there are bridges and manicured bushes and trees and not as much in a western style garden. After that we went to the Tokyo bay where we had a beautiful view. Upon our return we ate a nice Japanese dinner at a beautiful restaurant that Kan knew. I loved the Shrimp roll and the Homemade ginger ale.
This is the garden that Kan showed us.
This is a traditional Japanese wedding that Kan showed us at a temple
Day 7 Today we woke up and took a nice breakfast at Okura Hotel. We had a beautiful buffet of all kinds of fruits and meats western and Japanese. My favorite dish was the grapefruit juice. We then took the metro to Asakusa where we took a ferry on the Sumida river to the main city streets of Asakusa, a very touristic part of Tokyo. Then we made Yann visit our highlights when we went there a week ago. We left Asakusa in a rush to catch our train to go to Hiroshima from Tokyo Station. There we took a quick stop at the market to fill up our belly's during our 5 hour train ride.
This is the picture of our breakfast at Okura hotel
Day 8 This morning we woke up for our first day in Hiroshima. We started off by finding a free volunteer that worked for an organization to prevent a nuclear attack from happening again. Then we went to the museum where we found a tour guide that explained things for the first half of the museum but we had to stop because we had trouble understanding her. One of my most moving quotes I saw there was «I saw a butterfly and it landed. I took of my cap to catch it and then...the bomb was dropped. » After that we took a train to Myagyma and saw a beautiful temple.
This is the view of Hiroshima from our hotel room.
This is a picture of where the bomb exploded nearly 300 feet in the air.
This is a picture of us and the volunteer in front of the only building that resisted the nuclear bombing.
Day 9 Nara
Today we arrived in Nara the city of many deer. We arrived with the Shinkansen which took us 2 hours and 30 minutes from Hiroshima. We went to our hotel and dropped off our luggage while we rented bikes there for the whole day. We first went to the 2nd tallest pagoda in Japan which was surpassed by the one in Kyoto by a couple centimeters. Then we rode our bikes down a nice alley to a gate that led to the Great Buddha. Standing at 100 feet and weighs ....... tons, this great Buddha was found in the forests of Japan. We then had an idea to ride our bikes to another temple which I thought was too far away...6 miles! When we were 1 mile away, we decided to turn around because it was getting dark. We then ate at a soba place next to our hotel where we met a French family traveling around the world with thier little boy whom I found adorable.
Picture of Japanese school kids in Nara
Day 10 Kyoto 1 Today we arrived in Kyoto at the train station after a one hour train ride from Nara then Osaka. We took a bus from the station and then walked uphill to our guesthouse. Then it started to rain and we had no specific place to go to so we decided to go to the bamboo forest. Thickly populated by bamboo, this was so beautiful that my picture won the Loic elections for my new wallpaper. It was pouring so I got a couple drops of water in my picture, also to make maters worse, my shoes were so drenched in water that we had put newspaper in our shoes to absorb the water. When my mom and I put the newspaper in our shoes, yann and dad were relaxing in the onsen. For our dinner I rather not talk about it.
Picture of temple in kyoto
Day 11 Kyoto 2 Today we woke up at 6 in the morning to see our French friends we met in a train about 2 days ago.Together we visited a temple called Kiomizu which is very known so we went before all the crowds came including hordes of children ages 7-15. We then went to a cafe to eat a French toast and an orange juice. After our breakfast we went back to the temple to do some good luck path including a pitch black tunnel where we had to find our way to the sacred stone. You had to touch the stone to make your wish come true. The other one was the one where you had to walk in-between two stones blindfolded in order to have a good, nice marriage. We then found a pottery place where you make a pot on a pottery wheel and they glaze and send it to your house. I had been wanting to do this for a long time so my wish came true. Then we walked for a long time and our day was over! !
Maing pots in kyoto with yann
Today we woke up early to make a train that went to Toyota City. This city is where all Toyota buildings and factories are located. We had to get there at 9 so we had time to visit the museum for an hour and then be on time for the start of the tour. On the 30 minute bus from the museum to the factory, our tour guide explained to us that in the plant we were going to see, there would be the Aquarius, the IQ, and the Corala in production. After that we took the train to Hacone where we took a 40 minute bus ride to our hotel where we had futons and a 12 inch tv !! Toyota mueseum
Day 13 Hacone Today we took a tour in Hacone. First we took the bus to the cable car which went on a 10% slope. After the cable car we took the Hacone rope way which took us to a place where you can put an egg in the water and it will boil. Then we took an other rope way to a pirate boat and the pirates boat would drive you to the other side of the lake where we took a bus to our hotel. Then Shingcansenn.
this is a picture of yann talking insence and purifying his body..and mind
Day 14 Today we started off by meeting our friends,Claire and Cosima in the main lobby of our hotel. The day before, mom had found an architectural tour that had looked interesting so we decided to eat at a coffee place called Cafe Salvador that is nearby the train station to go to Omote-Sando to start the tour. At cafe Salvador we ordered a coffee, a pretzel, and a smoothie...My favorite. After we took the metro to Omote-Sando a neighborhood of Tokyo. Then we took a walk to see famous brand stores who hired major Architects to build a nice and attractive building. My favorite was the Tod building because it was made out of steel shaped into tree like forms. Then we ate at a sushi restaurant where you could pick the sushi off the sushi carousel and then the day was over.
Today we started off by going to Ginza for some shopping for our friends like you. Then mom really wanted to go to the Edo Tokyo museum which tells you about the history of Tokyo if you listen but I listened to Yann's Jokes which where pretty funny. Then we met dad to eat
Read all about my trip to Florida.
This specific blog was written in 2014 when I was ten years old so do not expect the same awesome, action packed writing as some of the other more recent blogs. Enjoy.
*Pictures are at the end.
This spectacular blog will be some kind of a diary/guide to a perfect stay in East and South Florida
Day 1: Leaving from PHX to MCO
Our plane took us from Phoenix to Denver first. It was a spectacular view as we flew over the Rockies. Some of the peaks were above 15000ft and most of them were completely covered with snow.
We stopped in Denver just enough time to grab a quick salad and continued onto Orlando where we picked up our rental car to drive to Daytona Beach, FL. It was too late to say Hi to Yann as it was close to midnight. Our hotel surprised us as we opened the sliding door from our room on the 13th floor and we could hear the surf as we were right on the beach. Unfortunately it was too cold and too late to take a dip in the hot tub.
Day 2 Florida Today we started off by eating breakfast at our hotel.
After meeting Yann at school and driving him to his plane hangar we were surprised to not see the plane. Yann explained that the airplane was being repaired. They had a broken exhaust pipe that neded to be welded and special ordered so it would take a while. After that, we left to go to a place where Yann could rent a Piper airplane. He got a nice blue and white one that we rode to Spruce Creek where you can fly in and eat a quick lunch. We took several pictures which I will show next.
Arriving back in Daytona Beach, we went to another technician shop where we picked up Yann's motorcycle. Yann drove it while we drove the car until Yann's house. Arriving at Yann's house we saw his roommates Chaz and Marcus and were able to meet them. Yann packed his suitcase which we took to South Miami to our hotel for our week-end in the Keys.
Day 3 FL Today we started off again by having a great breakfast where I found my favorite breakfast food: Doughnuts! We quickly left to drive down to the John Pennekamp state park in Key Largo. Located in the keys, its Caribbean location hosts great coral reefs where we took a boat ride out and had 1 hr of snorkeling time. Unfortunately I couldn't take pictures underwater so I can only describe the beautifully colored fishes with words. We saw a medium sized black-tailed shark and a couple of different fish that are usually only found in aquarium or in movies. They had pretty much a different color on each of the skin pieces. After leaving Key Largo we went down a little more South to experience the LONG bridges.
On the way we stopped in a beautiful Beach Cafe in Islamadora where we could have dinner on the beach and played a game of petanque. We returned to our hotel where we had a good night sleep.
Day 4 FL Today we started off by eating our usual breakfast but then we played some shuffleboard outside. I won versus Yann 28-16. After that we went north to Miami. Upon arriving in Miami we went to tour some luxurious houses on this island by car.
On our way to a farmers market in downtown Miami, we stopped by the American Airlines Arena for some pictures with the beast.( Lebron James) We even saw him driving his Porsche to practice! (picture below)
While walking down a street we saw the Tesla® store. We then test drive the performance model which Dad accelerated dramatically about 6 times. Soon afterwards we headed home to Daytona Beech were we had a good night sleep.
Day 5 FL Today we started off with a nice bacon and eggs breakfast. After a little planing of our day, we started our 1 hr drive to St. Augustine. Arriving in the town we parked and then entered the oldest building in the oldest permanently settled European settlement in the continental USA. After a quick visit we went eating in a restraunt that served old school food. After Dad left us due to a conference call, my mom and I went to the colonial quarters. This is an outside museum featuring a replica of a Spanish settlement in the 17, 18, and the 19 th century.
Dad met us with Yann to take us to the airport where we flue from St. Augustine to Brunswick, Georgia. We ate at a barbecue restaurant and returned to St. Augustine for a good night sleep.
Day 6 FL Today we started off by going to bakery in St. Augustine, a little town on the coast. We then directly went to the Castillo where we listened to a guided tour which led us into this humongous room where all the men ate. Then we visited the second floor where we could see a beautiful view of the city.
After eating a quick lunch we headed back to Daytona beech where we met Yann at his house. He showed us all the picture he had took in India last Christmas. After that, we met some of Yann's friends and we all ate together in a Japanese restaurant.
Day 7 FL Today we started off with a small breakfast at our hotel. We then went to see the museum of arts and science in Daytona Beech but since looked rundown and had only pictures of old french paintings so we divided to go to the museum of Halifax History. Arriving in the museum, a nice old lady helped us set up a film to start our self guided tour. It talked about history of Daytona Beech and NASCAR's influence to the area.
We then got Yann from his earlier class and went to a Thai restaurant which was very good. After that we brought Yann back to his class and we waited in the lower level of the control tower for the duration of his class. We then went Downtown to see some of the Bike week tents and then headed back to Yann's house where we said goodbye and then headed to the airport.
Our flight from Orlando to Denver was a smooth one but our second flight from Denver to Phoenix got canceled due to lack of pilots. After our long wait, we got awarded a dinner, breakfast and a night of hotel to the Hyatt for free! Our flight was going to depart from Denver at 8:00 Alcock the next morning.
Perfect start to a vacation.
The plane we rented. It is called a Piper
John Pennekamp state park
Picture of 7 mile long bridge going to the Florida keys
Lebon James casually driving his Porsche
The colonial quarters in St. Augustine.
The Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine
Picture of Daytona Beach International Speedway.
This Chinese New Year, my family and I headed to Bali, Indonesia for a week long adventure including Temples, the beach, and many many more life long memories.Read More
TAIPEI AMERICAN SCHOOL
Today is January 11th, exactly seven days after I commenced school in Taipei. Most of you are probably thinking that i'm having to adjust to school in Asia, but honestly my school is like an embassy of the United States in Taiwan. Everything is in English even the caution sticker on the back of the basketball backboard in our enormous gym. I like to say that it is an Oasis of English in a sea of Mandarin. So, back to describing my school.
Taipei American School (TAS) is a school located in Tianmu, a neighborhood in Taipei which is often called the melting pot of cultures among an all Chinese environment. TAS consists of two thousand dual nationalistic students who come from every which corner of the world. I even met a friend who used to live in Temuco, Chile, a city encircled by the Andes mountains one of side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. So as I was saying, almost everyone is from an international background. This gives me many opportunities to consult with kids who all have different cultures. This is just fascinating to me. Most of my teachers are american as all of our curriculum is based on the state of California's.
Okay, enough about academics, its time for athletics. TAS has 3 large gyms as well as one large artificial turf soccer field. Rugby can also be played there. We are part of a conference that is called IASAS. It is basically all of the international schools in north-east and south-east Asia competing against each other. The other day I saw that we had just played Hong Kong International School (HKIS). This also lets us interact with different cultures.
First day of School!!!!!
Ridding the bus to school!
My school's soccer field.
And now an extra little taipei secret