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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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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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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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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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

Ancient Olympics

While we were watching the Olympic events, Smokey and I talked about the first Olympic Games. Started over 2,700 years ago as part of a religious festival, it was a short sprint from one end of the stadium to another. Gradually more events were added to make four days of competitions including wrestling, boxing, and long jump, throwing the javelin, discus and chariot racing. There were no winter sports. The ancient Games were held in Olympia, Greece for over 1,100 years until they were outlawed by invaders of Greece. The modern Olympics were started in Athens, Greece, in 1896. Winter sports were added in 1924. In 2004 the Summer Olympics returned to Greece where 11,000 athletes from 201 countries competed. Purrs, Gulliver

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Here is the stadium where the first race took place:

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2018 Olympics

Woo hoo! My friend Smokey took me to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The original Olympics were held in Greece during the ancient times. The modern Olympics move from country to country with athletes from all over the world competing for bronze, silver and gold medals. This is the second time South Korea has been host. The first time was the summer Olympics in 1988 in the capital, Seoul. I wanted to see the downhill skiing, speed and figure skating and hockey events. Smokey chose curling, alpine skiing, biathlon, hockey, luge and snowboarding. We had to compromise to see events together. The host city this time was PyeongChang, South Korea, and they used a mascot called Soohorang, who is a white tiger. The tiger represents trust, strength and protection in the Korean culture. Purrs, Gulliver

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Tulips

If only flowers could talk, what interesting stories they could tell! The tulip is not only a good traveler, but a migrant as well. Originally found growing wild in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, tulip bulbs were brought to Istanbul, Turkey for the gardens there. Tulips were prized flowers, and became a symbol of the Ottoman sultans. One sultan had 12 gardens of tulips with 920 gardeners to take care of them. As a gift, tulip bulbs were sent to the Netherlands, where people fell in love with the flower and spent a lot of money to buy bulbs. One bulb could cost as much as $1,500 in today’s money!

Tulip colors have different meanings assigned to them. Yellow tulips symbolize cheerful thoughts, white express forgiveness and purple represents royalty. A red tulip, similar to the red rose, means perfect love. Now tulips can be found in many countries. I would like to go to a tulip festival one spring and see the acres of flowers blooming. There are festivals in the Netherlands which are very popular, but also in Mt. Vernon, Washington; Ottawa, Canada; Kashmir, India; Albany, New York and Holland, Michigan to name a few places. That would be a lot of flowers to see! Purrs, Gulliver

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