Monday, November 10, 2008

It's 5:45 in the morning of November 11th. Yesterday was spent in bed or on the toilet. I'm on one of those "Indian" crash diets. You drink the water and then lose 10 pounds, Actually it's no fun. Fortunately we had a baby sitter come, so she took the little ones out to the park so I could nap. Mark took Julian and Bella to the giant indoor ski park for the whole day. They took private ski lessons and are planning on going back again today. If I'm feeling better I will take the little ones and take pictures of them playing in the snow for an hour and then do a little shopping.

It just so happens that one of my good friends from Australia, who was also one of my bridesmaids at our wedding, lives here in Dubai. Meagan and her family have been living here for almost a year and plan to stay a few more years. They are starting a software company. They have three children, Hamish 14, Lachlan 12 and Amillia 8. They all go to a private school where they learn Arabic, French and German. Dubai is a melting pot of cultures. At the ground level of our condo are shops and restaurants. And while i sit there I here accents from all around the world and see children of mixed races. It is refreshing to see. The world is getting smaller! Meagan is Irish and Michael her husband is Indian so she has beautifully mixed children. Her father and mother are living in Cambodia where they took over a crisis center for women and children that was full of corruption and falling apart. They plan to turn it around and add some more. They have 33 children living there. They take in those in need for one year and help them learn a skill, get fed or whatever they need and then they return to their village.

Our first day here we spent the morning with Meagan and Michael and at night we left the babies with them while Pam, Mark, Julian, Bella and I went to a Dubai safari. A car picked us up and drove about an hour into the desert. Once on the sand dunes, he put the car in 4 wheel drive and went off-roading. Kind of like a roller coaster ride with sand flying up over the car. The kids loved it, I on the other hand hate roller coaster rides. So after about 15 minutes of another bumpy car ride I had to tell the driver to stop and let me out. Deep breathing and a little walk, helped me keep my lunch in. Next we were taken to base camp, where we got photos taken with camels and watched a belly dancing show. I didn't feel well most of the night and slept in the back of the car. We got home around 10pm.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Day of Hell!

Do I have to tell you how hard it is to travel with four young children in India?? It seems I haven't been able to keep up with the blogging as much as i would have liked, but I do the best I can.

We arrived in Dubai around 11:30pm last night, but our day started in BodyGaya, home of the Bodhi tree, at 4:00AM!!! We got dressed and jumped in the car to drive 4 hours to the nearest airport. It was the day of HELL!! The road was so bad with pot holes and bumps that it was like bad turbulance the whole way. I think it was only 100 Kilometers but we were stopped for cows, trains, overloaded buses, people, you name was in our way. Bouncing around in the car was not good on the kids tummy's Bella threw up about 4 times and Julian 2 times. We were in a hurry to make our flight, that i had Bella just hang her head out the window and throw up all over the car. Did I tell you it was Four hours!!! Finally, our awsome driver/guide got us to the airport. As we raced around to unload the car and kids we found out the plane was delayed THREE hours!! Would have been nice to know that.

We filled in the wait with lunch at 10am and letting the kids run around the airport. Finally we board the plane and fly off to Delhi. Originally we were going to have a 5 1/2 hour wait in Delhi for our connecting flight to Dubai, but because of the delay we arrived with just 30 minutes. So....we missed our flight to Dubai. Still in my stinky clothes from the kids throw up, we went back and fourth between the airlines to see if anyone could help us get to Dubai. India is know as a very corrupt country and they definetly don't do favors. I took the kids to eat while Mark and another kind private citizen tried to work the system. After TWO hours, it seemed the only option was to buy one way tickets to Dubai out of our own pocket and catch the 8:30 flight out. Run, run, run, wait, wait, wait. Still in stinky clothes, we waited an hour for them to print up the tickets which cost us another Thousand dollars. Then it's security and customs. They have very specific ways of doing things in India. Women go one way and men go another for security. So with a sleeping baby in my arms I yell at Lotus to follow and throw my bags on the security belt. We are patted down and then collect the bags. Each carry on bag needs a security stamp. At the gate as we prepare to board a bus to take us to the plane we discover that security didn't stamp one of the bags and Mark has to go back to security to get the stamp.. To wrap it up, we get on the plane, kids finally fall asleep and we fly 4 hours to Dubai. At night Dubai was lit up with lights, the sky line is littered with high rises. It looks impressive. The airport was modern and clean, a mix of cultures, Arabs and Westerners seeming to live in harmony. Everyone was smily and helpful. We collected our bags and met up with our driver who drove us to a condo which belongs to Mark's brother's friend, Hanni. It is a beautiful 2 bedroom condo, overlooking the marina. The weather is warm, the air is clear and life is good.

I finally took a shower and got our of the stinky clothes. Yuck. Today we are resting, laundry, and a few naps. Tonight we might go to the desert for belly dancing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Bodhi Tree

Julian, Bella and Lotus and I all woke around 5:30am. Mark and Bodhi were in another room. We waited until 6am and went downstairs to look outside and decided to take a little look around town. We jumped in a rickshaw and asked to go to the Bodhi Tree. It was a brisk morning, a little cooler than at Varanasi. The small village town of BodhGaya was home of the Bodhi Tree, the spot where Buddha reached enlightenment. It was a quaint country town, pretty trees lined the streets. The road curved around golden buddha temples and countries from around the world had their temple here. Young boys sold bright pink lotus flowers for offerings in the early morning. They followed us as we rode along. ( I bought 2 bunches on the way home) After a ten minute ride we arrived at the Burmese temple and the driver gestured for us to get out. I looked at him in confusion and tried to confirm this was the Bodhi tree. Another boy walking by who spoke english helped clarify the matter. Another 5 minute bike ride, past chickens, cows, and goats we drove down a small alley where people were cooking breakfast. They all stared at the sight of blond, westerns riding through their town. We arrived to the entrance of the Main Temple. We decided to wait and enter as a whole family so we went back to the hotel. Mark and Bodhi were now awake, we had breakfast and went out to see the Bodhi Tree. We decided to walk because it was pretty close. However walking the streets of BodhGaya with Bodhi and Lotus is like walking with Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt. We were swarmed with fans who wanted to touch, hold or photograph the pair. i think it was Bodhi's hair and Lotus's karma that people were drawn too. It was a little intimidating. Bella was scared and clung to me as we made out way to the temple. Beggars asked for money and men offered all kinds on goods at discount prices. Once through the gates of the temple they seemed to stop and not follow us. We had to pay a fee to use our cameras. We spent 2 hours at the temple trying to get the perfect photo of Bodhi and his tree. Again, monks and visitors all continued to want to touch the children. One monk held Julian's arm for 15 minutes. The Bodhi tree is a ficus tree located at the back of the temple. It is surrounded by a stone fence. One area has buddha's footprints in stone. The whole place is surrounded by monks in prayer or doing some type of yoga movement. Asian television interviewed us on what we thought of the tree. Look for it!! Pam sat next to the tree the whole time and donated money to a monk going around looking for donations.

We got some great photos and Bodhi saw his tree, afterwards it was too much to go out with all the kids so we went back to the hotel to have lunch and let Pam watch the kids while Mark and I went out. However, our ATM wouldn't work and their was only one ATM in BodyGaya. While we waited inside the bank i met a western woman from Denmark who was married to an Indian man and they had a child. She was trying to help us with the ATM. While her husband tried to help Mark the Danish women, named Camilla, told me her husband and her ran an orphanage and school for poor children. It just so happened I had one bag left of school supplies. We had planned on going to their home and meeting the kids but it was getting too late and we had an early morning to catch a plane back to Delhi. So unfortunately I handed over the bag of supplies and we exchanged contact information and hope to continue our relationship of support.

On the plus side I told Islam, the Camilla's husband about Bella and her cold sore's, he took us to a local auyvedic doctor who checked her out and gave her some herbs to take three times a day and it should clear up forever....let's hope. For most of this trip Bella has had her whole bottom lip full of cold sore's. It is an ongoing problem in her life. Let's hope it works.