The Newest Adventures of Flat Hailey

This is the newest entry in a (short, but growing) series of letters from Flat Hailey to her lovely best friend, Hailey. (If you aren’t familiar with the Flat Stanley series, you are missing out on awesome geography and cultural snapshots for kids!)

You can read the first entry by clicking here.



Dear Hailey,

Once again, you bundled me up in a manila envelope to ship me around the world. While I love getting to visit ancient ruins, beautiful shorelines and see all the amazing sites the world has to offer, I do have to say that envelope-travel isn’t that fun. For a few weeks, all I see is a haze of brown and I get jiggled all over the place. Sometimes I even feel like I am flying! Do you think the mailman throws my envelope? But, in the end, the less than stellar travel is worth it so that I can help you learn about lots of cool places.

This round of travel was centered in southern Europe. I started my travels in Rome, where I am afraid I missed the whole first day of touring, as my guide forgot me in her carry-on, so I spent the day resting up at the hotel so that I’d have lots of energy the following day.

Once I finally made it out of the hotel, I got to see some spectacular sights, including the Vatican City, where I discovered that the guards wear some awesome yellow and blue pants that look like they are made of ribbons. I wonder if we should start wearing those in American. It is a pretty fun look! (It’s a good thing they had big spears with them, otherwise I don’t think they would have made for very scary guards.)  At the Vatican, I also got to walk through the huge museum system and then visit the enormous St. Peter’s Basilica. The church is so huge that when I was inside, I felt like I was the size of an ant!

A trip to Rome wouldn’t be complete without visiting the ancient sites as well, so I next asked my guide to take me to the Roman Forum and Coliseum.  I had to fight my way into the Colisuem! As you can see, I was stopped by some gladiators who wanted a battle; they had full outfits of armor and giant swords. But, luckily, I convinced them that I was just Flat Hailey, on an adventure to see the world, so they let me pass. Thank goodness!

Next up on my travel agenda was to head south: Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. I was fascinated with the ruins at Pompeii. It is amazing how big the volcano, Mount Vesuvius is. And, it sits so close to the city! I think I would be a little afraid to live there. But, it is a beautiful mountain and easy to see why it’s eruption caused such a problem all those centuries ago.  After walking around the ruins in the hot sun all morning, I thought lunch and some relaxing at the beach was a good way to spend the afternoon. Lots of pasta later, I strolled along the pebbly seashore, taking in the sunshine and blue skies. Beautiful!

Having enough of the Rome area, I decided it would be best to head north, so I asked my guide to buy us train tickets for Florence. I loved Florence! In the center of the city is a beautiful church, but I was too tired to climb the million and a half stairs to the top of the Duomo. One of the most exciting things in Florence though was the adorable little car we rented to drive around the countryside. We got a cute little red Fiat 500 that was made for people my size. (My guides definitely had to curl up their long legs to fit in!) As we drove around outside the city, I couldn’t believe how narrow the lanes were. Our car was tiny, but there were times I could have reached out and touched the wall next to the road. Tiny! But it was fun to tootle around, visiting churches and olive orchards and grape vineyards in the classic car.  (I even rode on the hood for a while!)

My guides spent a day out at Pisa, which I went along for, but because it was raining, I decided to stay on the bus. Because absolutely no bags are allowed inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa (including purses!), they were worried I’d get ruined in the rain. I’m sad to have missed the tower, but glad I’m in one piece to continue my travels.

Italy was great, but it wasn’t the last stop on my tour of southern Europe. With Rome, Pompeii and Florence under my belt, it was off to Athens, Greece.  I only had a couple of days in the capital city, but I loved getting to see the Temple of Zeus and the Acropolis. I even got to sit in the exact seats were Greek comedies and tragedies were acted out. Amazing! One thing I learned while in Athens was that all of those white, marble statues of the gods and goddesses that we see in photographs were actually painted in bright colors! Whenever we see them, they are a gleaming white, but hundreds of years ago they were fully colored. I loved seeing the recreations of what they would have looked like when they were created.

But alas, all good things must come to an end and that includes my little vacation. I’m now back in Chengdu, getting my envelope packed to come back to Idaho to tell you more of my travel tales. I’ll be in the mail on Wednesday, so expect me home the first week of November.  I can’t wait to see you soon, Hailey! Thank you again for sending me off to see the world. I love it, but I will always come back to you.


Flat Hailey  (World Traveler Extraordinaire)


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Flat Hailey Writes Home

Flat Stanley-if you aren’t familiar with this two-dimensional world traveler, grab your car keys and head straight for the nearest bookstore! He may be paper thin, but he’s been all over the globe and back, teaching kids about geography and culture and hopefully inspiring the next generation of backpackers, Peace Corps Volunteers and Foreign Service Officers.

When I was last home in Idaho, a friend gave me her daughter Hailey’s version of Flat Stanley- Flat Hailey. Flat Hailey is a world traveler in her own right and needed to add a few more country stamps to her passport. So, with that in mind, I slipped Flat Hailey into my carry-on luggage and brought her to China for a few months of adventure. Flat Hailey has now been slipped back into an envelope and is headed back to Idaho this week, but below is the letter she wrote to Real Hailey about her adventures, along with some pictures of her journey.



Dear Hailey,

Thank you for sending me to Asia this winter. It gets very cold in Idaho and I was happy to go somewhere a little warmer for a few months. As much as I like the snow, you have had much too cold of a winter for me. After all, I am only wearing a dress- not exactly a good outfit choice for winter in Idaho. As you know, I love to travel and see new things and in the last few months, I have done a lot of that! Thanks for sending me on a new adventure.

When I left you in late January, I stowed away in Michelle’s carry-on baggage. I have to say, the ride to China was a long one, but luckily, she had lots of fruit snacks and granola bars stashed in her bag, so at least I didn’t get hungry. (I wonder if she noticed all the extra empty wrappers when she cleaned out her bag.)

Upon touching down in China, I was surprised by how many people there are in Chengdu. This place is packed! The city has more than seven million residents, who all seem to be going somewhere all of the time. When I was out exploring, I almost got ran over by a scooter once or twice. Luckily, I quickly learned to look both ways and then both ways again before crossing any street- even at the crosswalk.

For a few days, I went to work at the US Consulate. Sorry there are no pictures of that! I had to lock up my camera each time I visited. But, it was fun to see all of the Chinese people who were hoping to come to America and have their own adventures. I wonder if any of them have “flat” friends.

The number one thing on my list of places to visit in Chengdu was the pandas, and boy did I get to go see them. It was awesome! I went with my new friend Kaiya. Kaiya’s mom and dad work at the US Consulate in Chengdu and she goes to school here. She is four years old and pretty shy, but we had a really good day hanging out together. The little pandas are cute and cuddly, rolling all over and playing, just like kids and puppies do. I really wanted to run up and hug one of them. Maybe next time… The older pandas are pretty lazy. They did not do much while I was visiting. I think most of their days are spent lazing around, eating bamboo and taking naps. Hmmm, now that I think about it, those pandas have a pretty good life! (Although, rather than bamboo, maybe I’d want to eat cupcakes all day.)

In China, I also went to a history museum. At the museum, I learned a lot about how Chinese women used to have their feet wrapped up very tightly to make them tiny. This was called “foot binding.” The many different shoes were very small, but the sewing on them was beautiful. There was a purple pair that I especially liked. I also learned more about the earthquake that happened in China in 2008. I got to meet a pig who survived being buried under rubble for six weeks. Because he didn’t have food to eat when he was trapped, he ate coal. I think that would be a terrible dinner! Again, cupcakes would be much tastier! Now he lives at the museum and is very fat. The museum must feed him anything he wants because he is gigantic.

Chinese New Year also happened while I was visiting Sichuan. Instead of celebrating the arrival of the New Year on January 1st like we do in the United States, the Chinese celebrated it in February. This year is the year of the snake! To ring in the New Year, the whole city lit up with fireworks. I have never seen anything like it, not even on the 4th of July in America!

I didn’t spend my whole three months of traveling just in China though. During the Chinese New Year holiday (they take a week off of work), I flew to the Maldives, which is a country made up of tiny islands in the Indian Ocean. It was beautiful!  You know how much I like sunshine and this was the perfect vacation from my Chinese travels. I got to stay in a hut over the water where I could watch fish all day long!  I spent some of my time snorkeling, seeing puffer fish, rainbow fish, trumpet fish, starfish, sharks and so many more things I can’t list them all. Each day when I got back from swimming, I hung on the clothes line with the bathing suits so I could dry out before dinner.  I also spent time relaxing in the sun, getting a bit of a tan (and maybe a little sunburn too) as I sprawled out on a chair and read lots of books. I’m particularly partial to the Flat Stanley series. I think we have a lot in common.

It has been a very good few months of traveling, but now I am super excited to be home and share all of my photographs with you, Hailey.  Thank you for letting me go on such a great adventure. I can’t wait to find out where you will take me next! I am emailing you this letter now, as I am going to hop into an envelope and start my journey home tomorrow. It will probably take me two or three weeks to make it back to your house, but I can’t wait to see you again. Look for me in your mailbox!


Flat Hailey

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