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

Gyeongbokgung Palace

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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Basque Food

This little cat loves to eat! So when I went to Bakersfield to visit my older brother, we scurried down to have dinner at a Basque restaurant. Everyone sits together in long tables, and the food is served family style with big platters on the table and each person helping themselves. Since we are cats, we had our neighboring humans serve us. We had Soup, Salad, Beans, Bread, Salsa, Pickled Beef Tongue, Cottage Cheese, Pasta, French Fries, and Vegetables. And that was before the main course! At the end of the meal, we were served Blue Cheese and Ice Cream. Many of the Basque people who moved from their home in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain became sheepherders, so lamb is often on the menu at the restaurants. Purrs, Gulliver

Bakersfield

Pow wow!

For many years, the native people were called “Indians” because the explorer Christopher Columbus thought he had landed in India. There are many different “tribes” or groups of natives, each with their own customs and language. The natives in the middle part of the USA, the Plains Indians, would gather once or twice a year to trade goods, learn about good hunting areas, talk and share food, dance and show off their wealth and strength.  These gatherings still happen, though now everyone is invited. Maybe I will get to go some day!      Purrs,    Gulliver

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Easter Island

How do you keep yourself entertained when you are on an island over 2000 miles from anyone else? Well, the people who settled on Rapa Nui, or Easter Island around the year 1050 liked stone carving in a big way. They created nearly 900 giant stone statues that have been found in different locations around the island. These gigantic figures–known as moai–were carved out of tuff (the light, holey rock which is compressed volcanic ash) and put on top of ceremonial stone platforms called ahus. The biggest statue is about 32 feet tall, and consists of a single block weighing about 82 tons. The rest of the statues average 13 feet high, with a weight of 13 tons. The stone carvers were creative in making the most out of sections of rock. Moai can be seen carved in all directions in the island’s cliffs. If a defect would appear in the rock the statue would be abandoned and they moved on to another area. They took advantage of cracks in the volcanic walls and also variations in colors to create their statues. No records are left to explain why these statues were carved, or how they were moved around the island, though some think trees were cut down and used as rollers.  I wish I could go back in time to find out – those are big statues!  Purrs, Gulliver

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Happy Birthday, Po!

“My wish is for you grow up to be healthy and happy!” I purred when I saw the baby.  Po’s mom told me he is two years old in China even though this would be his first birthday in the United States.  I enjoyed the longevity noodle your parents served! It was a looong noodle, enough to fill up the whole bowl, and I tried my best to eat it all without breaking the noodle, to ensure you would have a long life!  The zhuā zhōu tradition interested me. Your parents put out different objects – a coin to represent wealth, a doll for many children, a pen, a stamp, an abacus, a flute and some other things which represented different careers.  The tradition holds that the first item you choose represents your future.  I guess we will have to wait a few years to find out if the prophecy comes true.   Purrs, Gulliver

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Coyotes

Coyotes are part of the same family as dogs. They can be found in Alaska and Canada all the way down into Mexico and Central America. The word “coyote” was originally a Spanish translation of the Aztec word “coyotl”.  In Native American stories, Coyote is intelligent, sneaky and has a big appetite.  Coyote is both a hero who creates, teaches, and helps humans; and an antihero who shows the dangers of negative behaviors like greed, recklessness, and pride; in still other stories, he is a trickster whose lack of wisdom gets him into trouble while his cleverness gets him back out. In some stories, he is even some sort of combination of all three at once.

Purrs, Gulliver

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