28 August 2011

Happy Sunday: The Temple

Hey, peeps.  Learn a little more about the most peaceful place on Earth and why I love it so much.  Happy Sunday to you all.

24 August 2011



The other day I was moving into my new apartment for---let me think---the 8th time in 4 years.  I've become an expert mover...well, expert delegater really, since I always summon the strong and able to do most of the work (thank you, Scott, if you're reading).  Upon cleaning out the fridge, I happened upon an industrial-sized, unopened bottle of chocolate syrup.  I'm talking, like, massive.  Enough to mix chocolate milk for an entire Samurai army.  I don't use chocolate syrup.  But there's no way I was going to throw that thing away.  Obviously the only logical thing to do in this situation is to leave it on someone's doorstep.

So I walked across the street to some no-name apartment complex and placed the bottle on the first doorstep I came to.  And then rang their doorbell and ran.  Any comment you just made out loud or in your head expressing your pity for the fact that I'm a super senior at BYU and somehow have yet to learn how to act like an adult is understandable.

Well yesterday morning, guess what I found on my doorstep?  A giant box of coffee cake from an unknown source (may be questionable, but it was dang good and I'm still alive after eating it).  BOO YEAH.  It's called karma, folks.  And proof that God rewards nice people.  Remember what I said about London?  Yeah.  I hate to say 'I told you so,' but...

To all those who doubted my maturity:  I believe I had the last laugh this time around.

PS:  I won a Kindle today.  With little to no effort on my part.  I'll let you know when this good karma trip runs out...

21 August 2011

Happy Sunday: Another Testament of Christ

This slideshow is from the Reflections of Christ exhibition by photographer Mark Mabry.  It captures the climax of The Book of Mormon: when the resurrected Jesus Christ appears to his other sheep--the inhabitants of ancient America--after being crucified on Calvary.  

"And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." (John 10:16) 

The Book of Mormon truly is another testament of Jesus Christ.  It is real.  Those who wrote is were real.  And Christ really did appear to them and establish his gospel among them.  They are the other sheep of which he spoke. 

"...And behold, they saw a man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them...And it came too pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying: Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.  And behold, I am the light and the life of the world...and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning...

...And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come...

And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying: Hosanna!  Blessed be the name of the Most High God!  And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him." (3 Nephi 11: 8-17 The Book of Mormon)

18 August 2011

Wet Bandit

Never mind that I stole this nickname from the Home Alone robbers.  I am completely deserving of the title.  This was how my morning started.  My bathroom is undergoing a major face lift, so while it's being ripped apart my landlord gave me a key to another apartment in my complex.

6:00 in the A.M.  Pitch dark.  I figured I was safe in nothing but a towel.

La dee da dee daaaaaaaaa

WHOOOOA!  So I just ASSUMED that this apartment would be empty!  I mean, who goes around giving people keys to occupied apartments?!  Mistake?  Likely.  Well, this one was very much lived in...  But I really needed a shower.  All seemed fairly quiet.  Not a creature was stirring.  Not even a mouse.  I considered my options.  I had visions of me standing naked in a prison cell--only a towel to cover my vulnerability, a bottle of shampoo to survive off of, and a razor to dig my way out.  I decided to risk being caught and went for the shower.

They had a freakin' NICE shower!  I'd hand out keys to that baby any day!  I may have overstayed my welcome.  But I'm the only one to wake up at 6:00 a.m. in the summer, so I figured my house fellows would still be asleep.  

A speedy escape. Pure stealth.  I have to do this until the weekend, so let's hope I stay in smooth criminal game mode.

14 August 2011

Happy Sunday: What Matters Most

I realized today how greedy I am.  How selfish.  How much I hoard precious, priceless information that can bring everyone the greatest joy if I only shared it with them. Crazy how complacent you can get when you come home from your mission, huh?  I want everyone to know how much I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.  You can start to expect one of these from me every Sunday. 

In the great big scheme of things, what matters most to you?  What keeps you living?  What keeps you sane?  What keeps you hopeful, faithful, and happy?  My advice (which I always need to remind myself to take): Don't sweat the small stuff. 

 Happy Sunday, everyone.  Enjoy:)

13 August 2011


A quick travel log break to vent my frustration with BYU housing, via cartoon.  A toast to all who are left homeless at the end of every semester! 

12 August 2011

Imagine all the people...

Westminster Abbey
As a victim of the incurable Travel Bug, I heartily enjoy listening to fellow travelers' stories of their own globe trotting adventures.  However, what I hear more than I care for are remarks such as, "France is lovely but the French are rude," "Germany is stunning but the Germans are cold as ice," and "Russia is great but the Russians hate life."

Often I think to myself, on which planet were these people traveling?  Believe it or not, in all my travels I have never encountered any such manner of people.  I have dealt with bus drivers, ticket salesman, waiters, policemen, hobos, gypsies, border patrol, drug smugglers, train conductors, store clerks, and the mafia.  Sure, some of those run-ins may have left me thinking, "gee, that guy was having a bad day," but I certainly wouldn't slam down the big rubber stamp labeled RUDE upon his family, neighbors, and all of his countrymen.

I am a firm believer in the "you-get-what-you-give" ideology.  If you're nice, people are nice to you.  This method has about a 95% success rate. So I'd go with it. I feel like those who stereotype an entire nationality are those who, first, heard such-and-such about the Venezuelans (for example), then believed it, then went to Venezuela expecting the Venezuelans to live up to that stereotype.  And they got what they gave.  It's a vicious cycle, folks.

"Look, kids!  Big Ben!  Parliament!....Big Ben!  Parliament!..."
 I want to make a shout-out to London.  I can't be bothered to look up accurate statistics, but I will go out on a limb and say that London is one of the biggest, most inhabited cities in the world.  And by far the most ethnically diverse.  Filled to the brim with rude French, cold Germans, bitter Russians, and such-and-such Venezuelans.  Shockingly, I didn't encounter a single one.  The only people I talked to (and I talk to a LOT of people) were extraordinarily helpful, generous, and kind.  I asked an older chap at a newspaper stand how to get to the Temple of the Knights Templar.  Not only did he give me directions, but he sang me a lively medley of songs about California after hearing where I'm from.  An usher at the Royal Albert Hall couldn't have been sweeter, even though she blatantly knew we didn't have tickets and probably snuck in in the first place (which we did).  A business man waiting at a bus stop during rush hour hooked us up with a free bus ride (more like illegal bus ride, but it was still nice of him).  The cashier lady at Harrods spent 5 minutes teaching me the whole British currency system while the line of customers behind me grew exponentially.  But she nor they were fazed to the least degree.

I guess what I'm trying to say is...be nice.  And expect people to be nice.  They're like dogs--they can sense fear.  And that is my travel advice for you.  Bon voyage!

Ze Tube

Buckingham Palace

Royal Albert Hall

Tower Bridge

08 August 2011

How Pocahontas Really Died

Knife fight.  In Gravesend, England.  She probably came here thinking, "My, what a quaint town.  What a cute little village on the banks of the Thames."  Unbeknownst to her, the locals of Gravesend prey on naive Powhatan princesses by luring them in with charm and character and cobblestone streets, and then they gather all their chav friends together and paint with all the colors of the wind.  And that was the last of Pocahontas.

But, no, seriously guys, Pocahontas is buried here!  A city's tourism industry could thrive on that alone!  But somehow, people in Gravesend don't think that's cool at all.  My friend Tom always described his hometown as a complete ghetto.  I imagined him living in the equivalent of the Projects, south of London, with hypodermic needles strewn across the sidewalks and hand guns hidden in babies' diapers.  But that all changed when, upon minutes of arriving, I come to learn that Pocahontas died here!  And Charles Dickens lived here!  And there are 12th-Century castles and cathedrals just chillin' off the side of the road!  In southern California, we don't have the luxury of that kind of charm.  We go to Disneyland for that.

Soooo what if there is a bullet hole in the front window of Tom's house and his little sisters aren't allowed to walk outside by themselves.  Pish posh.  Potato Potahto.  I'm a glass-half-full kind of girl.  I am of the Pocahontas school of thought.  Maybe it didn't turn out so well for her, but did it for anyone who talked to raccoons? 

 At church 

 Oh look, kids, a castle on the side of the road.

 Tom's family

Gravesend at night

07 August 2011

Welcome back to Pah-ree

Ah, Paris.  The City of Looooove.  The City of Light. My city.

A certain friend of mine will undoubtedly abhor the fact that I call it my city, but when you live there long enough to get a regular babysitting job, to make friends with the florist down the street, and to know exactly which metro stations smell like urine and which smell like day-old croissants, it can be your city too.

I wanted to give Matt the real deal French cultural experience....So we stayed in a ghetto suburb south of Paris that is predominantly inhabited by Asians.  What?!  It was cheap!  The directions to this obscure place were as follows (I kid you not):  "Go to Villejuif metro station.  Take exit Maxime Giorki.  Walk 60 steps straight.  Turn left down a narrow alley called Dupont, but it may not be clearly marked.  Turn right.  Walk several blocks until you see a Japanese restaurant.  Turn left and walk until you get to a row of parking garages.  Turn right and go down another alley.  Our hostel is across the street."  I want to know what made these people think they could run a hostel in the first place.  Somehow they had the foresight that they would be patronized by ultra cheapskates like myself who are willing to cut corners on housing when it means you'll have extra cash for good food.  And believe me, Paris has good food.

Upon our arrival, the petite Korean owner enthusiastically informed us that "da loo loo is free todayyy!"  The what?  "Da loo loo!"  Stumped, I looked to the backpacker sitting nearby and he translated.  "She means the Louvre."  Ooooh right.  Da loo loo.  Got it.  "And der are flyworks at Eiffel Tar-wer!"

Turns out we were conveniently in Paris for Bastille Day.  Hurrah for independence!  So, as our hostess so clearly stated, the city was celebrating with a firework show at the Eiffel Tower.  And free entrance to the Louvre.  I convinced my brother to skip out on the Louvre (Mona Lisa is probably # 2 on the list of The World's Biggest Disappointments.  The Sham-Wow is #1), and we did our own celebrating with a gastronomical tour of all my favorite, cheap, questionable food joints.  Kebabs, crepes, gelatto, pastries, bread in any form...Everything that is terrible for the body but vital for the soul.

Oh-so-good to be back.

   Double fistin' it at Place St-Michel.  Baguette panini and a crepe.

Matt's first kebab

Da Loo Loo

Versaille Palace

                                                          My old apartment.  Haunted grounds.

05 August 2011

The Neolithic Era

I expect to feel somewhat like a man when I'm backpacking.  Muddy boots, no hair dryer, infrequent shaving (I'm not afraid to admit it).  Not to mention my 50-ton pack makes me stomp around all squatty-like, as if I were a pro weight-lifter.  Sometimes, however, I feel more like a cave man.  I can do the whole no-phone thing.  In fact, I relish that.  Brings me back to the golden years when I didn't have a cell phone to make various arrangements.  If you say you'll meet at the playground, you'll be there.  If your mom forgets to pick you up from piano lessons, you just walk home and if you're lucky she'll see you somewhere along the road.  Simple as that.  But things like watches are nice to have.  And knives.  I'm crap at telling time by the sun's placement in the sky.  And I can't be bothered to fashion a razor out of a rock to slice a piece of cheese.

Paragliding.  It was heaven.

Matt and I found ourselves in a foreign country with no way to tell time and no way to cut cheese (tee hee).  Poor planning on my behalf.  We tried to see how long we could last..... 48 hours is all.  And to add to the cave man persona, we resorted to a lot of grunting, as we did not speak the native German language.  

How oddly convenient that Switzerland's primary exports are knives and watches!  And cuckoo clocks.  But I couldn't find any sort of intrinsic value in those, and I definitely don't need one to survive.  Bear Grylls probably would have used the cuckoo mechanism to fake a mating call to the wild cuckoos of Zimbabwe, and then he would fry their eggs over a hot sandstone and take the little Swiss yodler figurines and somehow squeeze water out of them and drink that.  But I haven't watched enough Man Vs. Wild to call myself that advanced yet.  Ergo, our first souvenirs:

Switzerland: Land of happy people and happy pills

The Swiss.  What a jolly folk.  The jolliest folk I ever did meet.  I suppose I would be happy all the time too if I never had to worry about war.  Or is it because the lucky turds get to live amidst majestic alpine peaks, glacier-blue rivers, and geranium boxes gracing the windowsills of every thatch-roofed cottage?  I suppose you have to be happy if you live in a postcard.  Take this view of our walk through the Lauderbrunnen Valley, for example, and tell me if I'm wrong.  

My brother and I finally made it to our lakeside hostel in the village of Iseltwald after sleepless hours on a plane, multiple train rides (one of which we had to jump off because of our invalid tickets...brings back memories of Romania), an impossible bus ride (I'm telling you this bus was NOT made for making the hairpin turns that it made), and an umbrella-less walk in the rain.  Here we are in all our jet-lagged glory:

The minute we entered our cramped, humid hostel room, I knew this was the kind of experience I was hoping to give Matt for his first European backpacking trip.  It was perfect.  Seven beds piled on top of each other in the space the size of a bread box, questionably stained linen, fogged up windows, and the putrid smell of something I've yet to identify.  Even better, I was the only girl, squished among a hoard of Korean boys who let their bodily functions run wild each of the four nights we stayed there.  Due to the aforementioned jet lag, I was barely functioning on only a few hours of sleep.  I do my best to avoid pill popping, but drastic times call for drastic measures.  Exedrin PM, baby.  On night two, I loaded up on my happy pill (come to think of it, maybe this is what's working for the Swiss) and prepped for a soundless slumber.

Well, of course that wouldn't happen because I'm in Europe...on drugs...so something is bound to go awry.  I woke up in the middle of the night, one pill for the worse, and saw who I thought to be my brother sleeping in a different bed.  "MATT!" I shouted, "that's not your bed!  Get out of there!"  The confused figure shot up to a sitting position and hesitantly said, "Oh, I thought this was my bed."  I rubbed my bleary eyes and stared at his outline for several seconds until I realized that he was in fact not my brother.  Didn't look a thing like him.  I didn't even say anything and just crashed back onto my pillow and fell back to sleep in about half a second.  The next morning I recalled the previous night's mishap and apologized to the poor guy for yelling at him.  Turns out his name is Matt, adding to the fun and confusion of it all.  Cheers, Exedrin PM!

                                              Iseltwald.  Population: 20, including the cows.

Return of the Jedi Rover

Wow.  MASSIVE failure at keeping up Da Blog while I was Eurotripping.  Sorry guys.  I know all of you in Malaysia and Jordan and Brazil and Greece (you can't hide from me!  Blogger Stats tells me you're reading this!) were hanging by a thread for a month, aching to know what was on my mind.  Again, I apologize.  But not TOO apologetically.  Because internet cafes "across the pond" (as the Brits say) cost an arm and a leg and a first-born child.  And when I say I'm "backpacking" Europe, I really do mean that.  Unlike the cheaters who take their laptops.

So, this is where my blog will take a rare veer off course and become slightly travel-loggy.  I'll do my best to minimize the loggy-ness while still providing ample detail of the past month's adventures.  And I'll spare you having to read all about it in one giant, wordy post.  So stay tuned (this time I won't let you down) over the next few days and you'll get the whole of it.

Last but not least, I shall leave you with a "janky cartoon" (dedicated to you, Annie) that highlights some shenaniganizing that took place whilst in London.