Tag Archives: travel

Wordless Wednesday: Kinabatangan River, Sabah

Photo credit: Thad Ross

Photo credit: Thad Ross


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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters You’d Like To Check In With

Top Ten Characters You’d Like To Check In With

Here’s another book-driven “top ten” list as suggested by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

(As always, in no particular order because it is hard enough to keep my lists to ten, let alone come up with a numerical order for them!)

  1. Ebenezer Scrooge- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I’d love to know how well Mr. Scrooge stuck by his newly-minted resolve to be a better person. Many of us make resolutions at this start of the year, in hopes of being better than we were the year before, but oftentimes the best of intentions fall to the wayside, as it takes a lot of work to break behavioral cycles. While I have great hopes that Scrooge stuck by his better self for years to come, I would love to pop in and see it from time to time, much the way he got to pop in on scenes throughout time.

  1. Narrator- “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe

I’m a huge Poe fan and would love to pop in on a variety of his characters, but figured for the sake of this list I should choose just one, so I am going with the narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Once he rips up the floorboards, I am sure the police arrest him, but then what? Does he plead insanity? Does he get off for the murder of the old man? Does he recover his wits or live the rest of his life listening to the incessant beating of a heart thrumming in his ears?

  1. Esperanza- The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Rightly so, Esperanza is a character filled with hope. She wants to use her writing to get herself out of her rough neighborhood, creating a name and home where she is safe and has the physical and emotional space to be the author she wants to be. She’s a teenager in the book, but I would love to see her at 25, 35 and 45 and see whether she broke the cycle of poverty in which she was raised and if she now has a daughter of her own to whom she can pass along her wisdom and love of words.

  1. Ponyboy- The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

This was my 3rd quarter go-to book when I was teaching 8th grade literacy. It was always a tough slog of a term, after the hype of the Christmas holidays and before the beautiful spring weather sets in. Ponyboy and his gang of friends was the perfect draw for all readers. Over my nearly ten years of teaching, I must have read this book cover to cover at least thirty times. So, I want to know, just like with Esperanza, did Ponyboy continue to write as a way to escape the hardships of life? Did he go to college and also create a better life for his family? (I’ve never thought about them in the same vein before, but now I am thinking Esperanza and Ponyboy might make a great couple!!)

  1. Hillary Clinton- Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton

With an assumed presidential candidate announcement not too far off and the current email hubbub making headlines, I could really use an extra chapter in this book. We regularly see Clinton in the media, so it is not so much that I don’t know what this “character” is up to these days, but I would love to have some additional questions answered!


  1. Female characters- The Wives of Los Alamos by Tarashea Nesbit

I connected strongly with the female characters of this novel, who were carried along by their husbands’ jobs. New homes. New friends. Maybe a job. Maybe not. I would love to pop in a decade later and get each of their thoughts on their time at Los Alamos. Was it worth it? What did they think once they found out what their husbands had been working on during that time? Would they change anything?

  1. Cady- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

This was one of the best YA books I read last year, mostly because it broke the mold of the dystopian trilogy that has taken hold within the genre. (Don’t get me wrong, I love a great dystopian book, but I’d like to see YA authors branching out a bit more.) I won’t throw in any spoiler alerts, because if you haven’t read it, you should go get a copy right now, but suffice it to say that the whole thing is a bit traumatic and I would love to know how Cady deals with the good and the bad of her situation five and ten years down the road.

  1. Claire- Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman

I know this is an odd inclusion on this list, as I did not have a lot of great things to say about this book after I read it. The narrator was horribly unsympathetic and the book was painful to read. One thing that really bothered me about it was the ending and how abruptly Claire is dismissed from the narrative. I couldn’t believe Gilman wasn’t more curious about what eventually happened to her. Plus, I have my own theories about why she behaved the way she did and I would love to not only see where she is at today (and hear what she thought of the book!), but to see if I am on the right track with my guesses about the roots of her strange actions.

  1. Students- Miss Nelson’s Missing! By Harry Allard

My love of reading started young, so I wanted to include a few childhood favorites on this week’s list as well. I remember loving this book as a kid, the fact that poor Miss Nelson was run off by her horrible students. The kids may have won the battle, but they lost the war, because in Miss Nelson’s place, the odious Miss Viola Swamp arrives! She kicks those kids in to gear and makes them wish they had their sweet, kind teacher back once again. It would be great fun to drop in on those kids as adults and see what they remember about the great-teacher-switch and if they ever had an inkling what was really going on. Plus, they probably all have children on their own now and I want to see if they ended up with angels or hellions. (I am sure at least one became a teacher too, so, how did that work out?!)

  1. Ramona Quimby- Ramona, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

There are no ifs, ands or buts about it, Ramona Quimby is awesome! I feel like she and I had a lot in common growing up, as I too was the “annoying” little sister. I always pictured us as about the same age, so I would love to see where she ended up now that she would be in her 30s. Does she have a family? What does she do for a living? Is she close with Beezus now?

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Wordless Wednesday: Tawau Mosque

Photo credit: Thad Ross

Photo credit: Thad Ross

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List

While this blog is mostly a travel blog, it does have a second life as a book blog, although I must admit to having neglected that section in recent months. It is something I feel guilty about. (I do guilt pretty well.)

But, recently, the owner of the fabulous Erratic Project Junkie blog and friend from high school (also my amazing dentist) recommended that I participate in a book-driven top ten list run by The Broke and the Bookish. What a great idea! This will give me a focus for my book blogs that is more than just the reviews I was doing before and hopefully keep the literary part of In Search of the End of the Sidewalk from dying entirely. I can’t promise I will post a new top ten list every Tuesday, but at least this will resuscitate my floundering “Book Musings” tag.

This week’s theme is “Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List” which is absolutely perfect as my new term at school starts a week from today and I spent this last weekend Skyping with my thesis adviser and creating a reading list for one of my courses. I placed a huge start-of-the-semester order with Amazon yesterday, so now I eagerly await the boxes to come rolling in through our embassy mail room. (It is times like this that two-week mail kills me!)

So, without further ado, here is my inaugural Top Ten Tuesday list.

(In no particular order, but can you sense a theme here?! I may or may not be working towards a thesis about travel literature, so these books are going to be my life for the next year or so.)

                    Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List
1. Angry Wind: Through Muslim Black Africa by Truck, Bus, Boat, and Camel by Jeffrey Tayler

2. Methods for Teaching Travel Literature and Writing: Exploring the World and Self (Travel Writing

Across the Disciplines) by Eileen Groom

3. Forgiving the Boundaries: Home as Abroad in American Travel Writing by Terry Caesar

4. The Impossible Country: A Journey Through the Last Days of Yugoslavia by Brian Hall

5. The Long Hitch Home by Jamie Maslin

6. Blood River: The Terrifying Journey Through The World’s Most Dangerous Country by Tim Butcher

7. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

8. Tourists with Typewriters: Critical Reflections on Contemporary Travel Writing by Patrick Holland

9. Wrong About Japan by Peter Carey

10. Wide-Open World: How Volunteering Around the Globe Changed One Family’s Lives Forever by John Marshall

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Wordless Wednesday: Taxi Rules



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The “Bear” Necessities

Everybody’s got their travel “thing.” Some people hop on planes in search of culinary delights (or disasters, whichever the case may be), while others want whatever death-defying experience there is to be had (skydiving and bungee jumping and ridiculously terrifying roller coasters come to mind). Some folks want to scale peaks or reach unknown depths of the ocean.

Me? It’s all about the critters! When I travel, my main goal is to hold/touch or at least visit the native fuzz balls.

I couldn’t spend four years in China and not touch a panda (click here for that story) or move to Malaysia and not go hang out with the elephants. Christmas in Thailand saw me snuggling with a monkey named Jackie (click here for that story) and I didn’t leave New Zealand without hunting out a kiwi named Kevin.

Of course, no trip to Australia would be complete without cuddling a koala. This was not as easy of a task as one might think! In many places Down Under, restrictions have been placed on koala-holding, meaning you can easily get your photo posed *next* to a koala, but it’s hands-off. But, there is no way I was finally going to make it to the land of shrimp on the barbie and not make physical contact with what must be the world’s cutest marsupial. A little research online lead me to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary outside of Brisbane, which meant our trip planning immediately took a turn to the north. No longer was Sydney going to be the home base of our southern hemisphere adventures, as there were koalas calling my name in Queensland.

Vacations may be for sleeping in and taking it easy, but when koala-holding day arrives, there is no need for an alarm. I was up with the first rays of the sun, dressed and ready to head out to the sanctuary before the crowds arrived. I wanted a non-molested marsupial!

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is on the edge of Brisbane, in what appears to be a residential neighborhood. (I would buy a house there in a heartbeat and then be the crazy lady who comes to the sanctuary several times a week, soon starting to pick up the crazy laugh of the kookaburras that live there!) We got there just after opening, traded in the tickets I had pre-purchased online (no waiting means getting to the koalas sooner!) and quickly scoured the map for the location of the koala cuddle station. Our beeline to the station meant bypassing the cobbled-together critter that is a platypus and the gum-tree dwelling kookaburra, as well as the giant field of free-roaming kangaroos and emus. While those were all on the must-see/do list for the day, they fell below the main attraction and life-long dream of holding a koala.

With just a few folks in line in front of us (how that is possible, I have no idea!), I purchased my picture packet, which was weirdly reminiscent of picking the photo packets for school pictures. Which combination do you want? How many wallets will you need to pass out to your friends? I definitely needed postcards to send home to family and friends and for just $2, a calendar for my desk at work was a yes as well. Simply put, I got all the things! If it was an option, I chose it.

Before long, it was time!

I quickly hopped into the picture area where I was promptly handed Minty, a dark gray koala bear with pink ears and a rubbery black nose. I was prepared for the adorable fuzziness and even the cuddliness, but I was not ready for the weight. Koalas are dense animals! You’d think that little guy would be mostly fur, but really their hair is quite short and the majority of their mass is body. Their heavy, eucalyptus-fed bodies.  My few minutes with Minty were up much sooner than I would have liked, but it was awesome to get the chance to hang out with him.

I may not be a sky or SCUBA diver (although the latter is set to change this weekend) and I don’t need to search out roller coasters or challenge my stomach with foods from afar, but if there is a furry animal to be held and I can get there by plane, train or automobile, it will happen.

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Wordless Wednesday: Working the MATTA Travel Fair with the President



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