Mongolia

It must be hard to be a postman in Mongolia. It is a large country with only one large city, the rest of the country is open desert and mountains. Many of the roads don’t have names, and sometimes the roads move without notice if there is a flood or other natural disaster. Plus, about one quarter (25%) of the people who live there are nomadic, which means they don’t have a fixed address, but move to a different place each season to grow crops or feed their animals. Detailed directions and landmarks are used to find a place, even in the cities. I wonder how they get their mail? Purrs, Gulliver

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Italy

I love visiting Italy. Pasta, pizza, pianos and violins were all created by Italians, and the first operas (stories set to music) were written in Italy. The name Italy comes from the word italia, meaning “calf land,” perhaps because the bull was a symbol of the Southern Italian tribes. l, Italy is shaped like a high heel boot kicking a rock or piece of dirt. Nearly 80% of Italy is either mountainous or hilly. There are many famous explores who were Italian, including Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, John Cabot, and Amerigo Vespucci. Maybe someday I will discover a new land and have it named Gully! Purrs, Gulliver

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Transcontinental Railroad

“I’ve been working on the railroad.” I sang as my granddad played his harmonica. He taught me the song after telling me about how his grandfather worked on the transcontinental railroad. This connected the United States by going from Oakland, California through Sacramento, then up through Utah, and across the Great Plains to Omaha, Nebraska. There it linked with rails which already existed. The workers built tunnels through mountains and bridges over rivers and canyons to get the tracks laid. It was hard, dangerous work and it took six years to complete the lines. In 1876, an express train traveled coast to coast, from New York to San Francisco in just 83 hours and 39 minutes. Just 10 years before, the same trip would have taken months by covered wagon or even weeks by ship, going all the way around South America and up the Pacific Coast. My granddad was very proud of his grandfather.
Purrs, Gulliver

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April Fool

April Fool! In 1996, Taco Bell announced that it had bought the Liberty Bell and changed its name to the Taco Liberty Bell. Many people were very angry because they didn’t realize it was just an April Fool’s joke. The trick had people talking though. After they got over being angry, they went to Taco Bell and had a burrito, taco or enchilada. Sales went up by more than half a million dollars that week. The Liberty Bell itself literally cracked up in February 1846, when it was rung for George Washington’s birthday. To prevent more damage, it is no longer rung with a clapper, but now it is tapped when marking special occasions. Purrs, Gulliver.

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First Railroad

I was re – reading the book “The Little Engine That Could” and wondered when and where the first railroad was built. It turns out to be in Wales, in 1804. Trains originally ran on steam, which required coal or wood to heat large tanks of water. Today, many railroads run on electricity, including the high speed rail lines across Japan, China and Europe, and the light rail commuter lines in the big cities of the United States. The railroad was a new industry with a language all its own. “We are on the ground” means the train derailed, and “highball it out of here” was slang for traveling at the maximum allowable speed. I found another fun fact – the Chesapeake and Ohio railway used a kitten as a mascot for their advertising, and called him Chessie. A book of his adventures was written about Chessie and his friend Peake. I wish someone would write about me! Purrs, Gulliver

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Old Palace, Seoul, Korea

After going to the mud festival in Boryeong, South Korea, I scampered over to the capital, Seoul to visit some tourist sites.  There are not one, but 5 palaces in the capital city. The oldest is Gyeongbokgung Palace (Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven) which has 7, 700 rooms in over 500 buildings.  So a palace is not just a large home for royalty, but a place that has government offices, meeting halls, and even museums.  I could not see the whole place, but I was very impressed with the folk museum which shows how people dressed and worked many years ago.  One thing that has not changed is the national dish, kimchi, though there are many recipes. Vegetables and spices which have been fermented for months, it is spicy and sour tasting!   Purrs, Gulliver

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China

Most historians think the name China comes from “Qin”, which sounds like “Chin” Qin Shi Huang made himself the “First Emperor” and standardized the Chinese language, measurements, and currency. Emperor Qin ruled only fifteen years. During that time the Emperor had clay (terracotta) sculptures made of his army to protect the Emperor after he died. These figures were not found until 2000 years after they were buried. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Historians estimate there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, all individually made. Other terracotta non-military figures were also found including officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians. Purrs, Gulliver

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Japanese writing

Konnichi wa! That is Japanese for Good Day! Japanese writing is very difficult. There are two ways of forming a letter – one is called kanji, and is borrowed from Chinese characters. The second is called Kana, which uses more symbols. Almost all Japanese sentences use a mix of kanji and kana with several thousand kanji characters are used regularly. The traditional writing is not across the page, like English, but vertical, and read down the columns from right to left. Because of this mix of scripts, the large number of kanji characters, and the different direction of the words, the Japanese writing system is often considered to be the most difficult to use anywhere in the world.
Purrs, Gulliver

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Cuba

¿Que bola?What’s up?” “Un Gato de la Yuma “(a cat from the United States! ) The Cuban people were very impressed, and wanted to give me a nickname immediately. Everyone here has a nickname, though I can’t share what they called me, partly because I can’t pronounce it. Cuban Spanish is different from the Spanish from other countries, with lots of words from other languages mixed in. The native people are Taino, and the name Cuba comes from their language, and it means either “great place: or where fertilie land is abundant. When you hear about Christopher Columbus “discovering” the Americas, he actually landed in Cuba as the second stop of his first voyage in 1492. “Dale” the girls shouted at me, meaning “come on,” or “hurry up.” We went dancing at the plaza, where I learned about different music styles such as the mambo, cha-cha-cha and salsa. We even did the rhumba! Music and dancing are important parts of life in Cuba, and everyone participates. We hitchhiked home at the end of the night, it was surprisingly safe because it is required for all government driven vehicles to pick up hitchhikers who need a ride, no matter what the reason.

Purrs, Gulliver

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Busy as a bee

BZZZ BZZZ BZZZ!. A honey bee visits 50 to 100 flowers per trip from their hive (home). They go inside the flower to find nectar to eat, at the same time they pick up pollen and carry it to the next flower to help it grow.  Bees are really interesting. They have six legs, 5 eyes, and two pairs of wings.  They can fly forward, backward and sideways and talk with one another by dancing. A honey bee can fly for up to six miles, and as fast as 15 miles per hour. They are the only insect that produces food (honey) eaten by humans. It takes about 556 workers to gather 1 pound of honey from about 2 million flowers!  Bees also eat honey, and one ounce of honey will fuel a bee’s flight clear around the world!  Don’t try to eat the bee itself, though.  I did that once, and got stung for my efforts, and it HURT!

Purrs, Gulliver

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