Have you ever heard of the Seven Wonders of the World? They are sights that ancient Greeks wrote about as they explored their world. In 2007 a new list was made, which includes The Taj Mahal. In the 1600’s, one ruler in India loved his wife so much he built a memorial to her after she died. The Taj Majal means The Crown of the Palace and is the burial site of both the ruler and his wife. The Taj Mahal has beautiful gardens, a reflection pool and mosque (place of prayer). The buildings are made of marble stone from many different countries, and depending on the time of day, the buildings reflect different colors in addition to white. It is said 1,000 elephants carried the building materials to the site. It took over 20 years to build, and there are rare and semi-precious stones such as jade, sapphires, turquoise and lapis lazuli used in decoration of the buildings. Over 2 million people from all over the world visit every year, and I spent a lot of time just watching them as they explored the palace.
The Elephant Seal is the largest seal in the world, and are named after elephants because the male’s snout looks like an elephant’s trunk. They spend 80 percent of their life in the water, but come ashore to mate in the winter. They look very peaceful from outside, but are great fighters when it comes down to protecting their space. Despite their big size, elephant seals aren’t slow. In fact, they are really good swimmers and they can move faster than humans on sand dunes. Elephant seals are great divers and can hold their breaths for a long time. They can stay under water for more than one and a half hours. And I can barely “dog paddle” Purrs, Gulliver
Mount Shasta is a volcanic mountain with 4 overlapping cones where eruptions of lava have come up at different periods of times. The mountain is not connected to any other nearby mountain, but stands alone in majestic beauty. Mount Shasta, like many amazing places, is the center of many stories, myths and legends including the story that a lost civilization lives in the center of the mountain. The dictionary says that a legend is a collection of stories which may be partly true, but also have some imaginary parts to it. They say I am a legend, what do you think? Purrs, Gulliver
I invited Sasha and our cousin Gaby to join me on a trip to Seattle,Washington. Gee, those girls can talk! They loved flying, and we scampered down to Pike’s Market as soon as we landed. Sasha and Gaby went shopping for postcards while I hung around the fish market and gobbled down the bits of fish that landed on the floor. Seattle has an interesting history. In its early years, the entire downtown burned in a huge fire. The city fathers decided to raise the street level 15 feet higher than the previous street. It must have been funny to watch ladies in long skirts climb up and down ladders to get to the entrance of the stores! Eventually the stores put entrances on their second floors to solve the problem, and the first floors became basements. There is even a tour of underground Seattle now. Purrs, Gulliver
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
“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
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
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
¿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.
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!