Flat Stanley Tracker

Follow Flat Stanley as he travels around the world.

Argentina

Posted by Flat Stanley in Posts on 03 31st, 2011

Hola from Argentina! Here are some cool facts about this amazing country:

– It is the second largest country in South America, after Brazil.

– Argentina has won the Soccer World Cup twice, once in 1978 and another in 1986.

– Argentina has the highest literacy rate in South America. This means more people in Argentina can read than any other country in South America.

– They have a female president: Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

We flew into Buenos Aires first. It is a beautiful city, as you can see:

The colorful neighborhood shown in the pictures above is called La Boca. It is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Argentina. It is a great neighborhood to shop in if you are a tourist, since it has a lot of great souvenir shops.

This painting in La Boca is of Diego Maradona, a very famous soccer player in Argentina, as he is regarded as one of the best players of all time. In Argentina, and in a lot of countries around the world, soccer is the most popular sport. Sports like football, baseball and basketball are rarely played in professional leagues in other countries, although there are a few exceptions. Japan, for example, loves baseball.

In America, the White House in Washington, D.C. is the principal workplace of the President of the United States. Well, in Argentina, they have their own version of the White House, except it’s pink, and it is known as the Casa Rosada:

I even got my picture taken with a few Argentine guards in the house:

Argentina is, among others, known for two things: great steak and tango. First, I had really great steak for dinner one night:

I then went to a “Tangueria” for some tango dancing. A Tangueria is kind of like a dance club. I didn’t get very good pictures because it was so dark in there:

Luckily, I found a couple doing the tango on the street the next day, so I was able to get a video:

Now for some good news, and some bad news: The bad news is our trip is at an end. The good news? We will be in the classroom the first week of May!

We will see you soon!



New Zealand

Posted by Flat Stanley in Posts on 03 16th, 2011

Hello friends! I am here in New Zealand, one of the most beautiful countries I have visited thus far. New Zealand is an island nation just south of Australia. Due to its remoteness, it was one of the last land masses to be populated by humans. The first to settle here were the Maori from 1250 – 1300 AD. The Maori are the indigenous population of New Zealand, just like the Native Americans are the indigenous people of the United States. Europeans began to settle here during the 19th century. It became a British colony in 1840.

New Zealand is well known as being the country where The Lord of the Rings movie series was filmed, since the director of the series (Peter Jackson) is from here.  In fact, since we love the movies so much, we went on a tour of some of the movie sites!

First up we visited Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. We went to Weta Workshop, the company who created the special effects and props for The Lord of the Rings series.

While we were in Wellington, we also visited the Te Papa Museum. My favorite part of the museum was the Colossal Squid. It is the only Colossal Squid specimen on display in the entire world.

We learned at the museum that the Colossal Squid is the largest squid species in terms of mass. Humans have hardly ever had contact with this creature. In fact, a male specimen has NEVER been discovered! How interesting!

From Wellington, we visited Kaitoke Regional Park, just outside of Wellington. This is where they filmed the Rivendell scenes (Rivendell is where the elves lived). It was one of my favorite parts of New Zealand:

We headed north towards Auckland, and on the way we visited Tongariro National Park. This was the fourth established national park in the world.

This park is home to three active volcanoes: Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro. Mount Tongariro played Mount Doom in the movies:

We then headed further north to Matamata, where they filmed the Shire scenes. I loved how picturesque it is:

My final stop in New Zealand (which has nothing to do with Lord of the Rings) was Muriwai Beach on the west coast. This beach has black sand, due to the high iron content by ancient volcanoes in the area. We went on a rainy day, so it seems rather gloomy, but trust me, it is a beautiful beach!

The starfish were my favorite part!

I am off to Argentina, my final stop. Until next time!



Australia

Posted by Flat Stanley in Posts on 03 4th, 2011

Hello Mates!

I am writing from the land down under, and I can tell you, it does not disappoint! From famous landmarks, to gorgeous scenery, to fascinating wildlife, Australia has everything to offer!

I started my journey in Sydney. While it is Australia’s largest and most populated city, it is NOT the capital of country, contrary to popular belief. That title actually belongs to Canberra.

My favorite site in Sydney had to be the Sydney Harbor and the Sydney Opera House:

The Opera House was built in 1973 and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. I sure have seen a lot of those sites in my travels around the world!

I also visited the famous Bondi Beach. It is one of the most well known beaches in the world, due to its surfing conditions and its beauty. I didn’t surf there, however, because you have to be pretty advanced to surf there!

From Sydney I took a road trip down to Melbourne. My friend Christy had to drive, and it was no easy task! You see, in some countries they drive on the left side of the road and the steering wheel in the car is on the right. As you know, it is the opposite in the United States, and Christy had to be very careful!

It took about 2 days to drive to Melbourne, which is on the southern coast of Australia. We took the most scenic route along the eastern coast. Just look at the beautiful scenery!

We made it to Melbourne and took in the atmosphere of the city.

After Melbourne, we headed west to the Great Ocean Road. This is another scenic route along the southern coast of Australia.

We saw kangaroos along the route! I could not get very good pictures, however, because kangaroos are very shy, and they do not like to pose!

And, let me tell you, kangaroos are FAST!

My favorite animals had to be the koalas. Look how cute they are!

And while they do look cute and cuddly, I had to remind myself that these are wild animals, and they are not to be messed with. I made sure to keep a safe distance.

My final stop on the Great Ocean Road were the Twelve Apostles. These are a collection of limestone stacks off the coast. They are named after the 12 apostles of Jesus. This site was probably one of the most gorgeous I saw on my entire world trip.

From here I head to New Zealand. Until next time!



Japan

Posted by Flat Stanley in Posts on 02 22nd, 2011

Konnichiha, friends! Japan is such a beautiful country. I started off first in Tokyo:

As you can see from the above picture, it was snowing while I was in Tokyo. This was the first time I encountered snow on my world trip!

Tokyo is the capital of Japan, and there are about 13 million people living there.

Two activities that the Japanese love to do is play video games at arcades and sing karaoke. Luckily, I was able to do both!

Japanese food is delicious. I tried sushi, which is raw fish. It sounds gross, I know, but it is yummy!

I also had noodles called Ramen. They were my favorite!

My friend Christy got to dress up in a kimono, a traditional dress worn by women.It is only to be worn on very special occasions, for example, weddings.

From Tokyo we traveled southwast to Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. There we were able to see more of the traditional Japanese temples and gardens.

We went to an area in Kyoto called the Gion district:

In this area there are a lot of tea houses surrounding the tiny streets. The Japanese used to do most of their socializing here. They still sometimes meet at the tea houses, but most people go to restaurants, just like us!

From Kyoto we traveled to a small town called Nara. What is very special about Nara is there are hundreds of deer roaming the town and the parks nearby. You see, long ago, it is thought that a god came to Nara to protect the city. He arrived on a deer. Still today, the people think of the deer as their protectors.

The deer have even learned to bow to people who bow to them!

Also, remember that these are very special deer, and you shouldn’t touch or feed the deer in the States. You could get hurt!

In Nara, I volunteered at a school to assist in helping Japanese children to learn English! They knew a few words already, which is very impressive, since the Japanese don’t even use our same alphabet.

From here I head to Australia. Until next time!



Hong Kong

Posted by Flat Stanley in Posts on 02 12th, 2011

Neih hoh, Trackers! I am in Hong Kong, a city on the southern coast of China.

I actually picked a very good time to visit Hong Kong: during the Chinese New Year celebrations! The Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China. It begins on the first day of the traditional Chinese calendar (It is different than the calendar we use in America) and lasts for 15 days.

Each year of the Chinese calendar is declared “the year of” a different type of animal. This year, for example, is the year of the rabbit:

The other 11 animals are: the rat, ox, tiger, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. You may be interested in what animal represents the year you were born:

If you were born between January 24, 2001 and February 11, 2002, it was the year of the snake.

If you were born between February 12, 2002 and January 1, 2003, it was the year of the horse.

(It can get confusing, so if you are still not sure what Chinese calendar year you were born in, ask Mrs. Williams. She can help!)

There were also orange trees everywhere! Orange trees are a sign of good luck to the Chinese. People buy them for the celebrations.

I got to see the annual Chinese New Year parade up close. It was so exciting!

What you see me pictured with are lion dancers. It is a traditional dance in China. Those may not look like lion costumes to you, but that is what they are!

These are dragon dancers. You have to be really coordinated and in sync along with everybody else on controlling the dragon. Doesn’t it look amazing?

I even got a red envelope! The Chinese give red envelopes as gifts during the holidays. It has money inside, and the envelope itself represents good luck!

There were giant balloons like the ones you would see in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade:

The night after the parade there were fireworks, and I have to add, they were the best fireworks I have ever seen! Usually I just see one firework set off at a time. In Hong Kong, they set off an entire row of them! It was so crowded that I didn’t have the best view, but I still managed:

Besides the Chinese New Year festivities, I had a fantastic time exploring Hong Kong. I stayed in an area called Mong Kok. There were lots of restaurants and tons of shopping. It reminded me a lot of Times Square in New York with all the electronic billboards and lit up signs.

(That’s my friend Christy. She really liked Mong Kok!)

I saw the largest outdoors bronze sitting Buddha statue in the world. It is called the Tian Tan Buddha:

I visited a traditional Chinese garden called the Nan Lian Garden. Look how beautiful it is:

The food in China is delicious! I went to a really good restaurant called Tim Ho Wan. I had dim sum, which are small dishes of food that everyone at the table shares. I had pork buns, and all sorts of dumplings with meat and vegetable inside.

A visit to the Hong Kong Museum of History was a must. I saw an amazing exhibit on the folk culture:

Finally, I took a tram up to one of the mountain peaks. You should know that not only  is Hong Kong made up of several islands and a peninsula, but it is very mountainous. I had a great view of the city from the peak:

Now off to Japan. Until next time…



Cambodia

Posted by Flat Stanley in Posts on 01 29th, 2011

Sua s’dei, Trackers! Cambodia is AMAZING, and I am sure you will all agree when you see my pictures!

Cambodia is known for its ancient temples. I went to Angkor, a region of Cambodia that houses ancient ruins. They are certainly a sight to behold:

Angkor is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. That means it is declared for its physical significance. There are over 1000 temples in Angkor, and it was SO MUCH fun exploring a number of them! I felt like Indiana Jones!

The most famous, and best preserved, temple complex in the area is Angkor Wat, seen here:

It was built for a king named Suryavarman II about 900 years ago! Today it is a Buddhist temple (Remember all those temples in my Thailand post?), and it happens to be the largest religious building today.

Angkor Wat is the building featured on the Cambodian flag:

A French explorer who came upon Angkor Wat about 150 years ago wrote that the ruins were even grander than those in Greece and Rome! You may remember those from previous posts, and I am not sure if that is true, but they are really beautiful.

The monument is made out of an enormous amount of sandstone – 500 million tons (That’s about 1,350 TIMES MORE than the Empire State Building in New York)! That also happens to be the same amount that was used on the largest pyramid in Cairo!

I am off to Hong Kong to celebrate the Chinese New Year! It is the year of the Rabbit, and it should be filled with lots of adventure!



Laos

Posted by Flat Stanley in Posts on 01 24th, 2011

Sabaidee, Friends! I am in yet another magnificent country to explore. It is called Laos, and it just east of Thailand. You may never have heard of this country before, and that is OK because neither had I before I started traveling. Here are some facts about this small country in southeast Asia:

–          The government in Laos is communist. (The United States’ government is a democracy). There are only five countries with communist governments in the world. Besides Laos, they are China, Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea.

–          Laos gained its independence from France (just like the United States did in 1776 from England) in July of 1949.

–          There are 6.8 million people in the country. There are over 300,000,000 people living in the United States.

–          The people of Laos are some of the most generous in the world. They just don’t understand the concept of NOT sharing. In fact, in the Laos language, the word for “mine” is the same word for “yours.”

I got some great pictures of the Laos landscape:

Like Thailand, most of the citizens are Buddhist. There are some more beautiful Buddhist temples in Laos:

I only spent a few days in Laos, so I didn’t get to see as much of the country that I would have liked. Hopefully I can come back one day to explore a little more!



Thailand

Posted by Flat Stanley in Posts on 01 20th, 2011

Sawatdee, Trackers! Thailand is so beautiful, with its tropical islands to the south and its mountainous jungle to the north. It isn’t like any place I have been before!

Before heading south to the islands, I headed north to Chiang Mai. The first thing I noticed about Thailand is the beautiful temples. In the United States, you see a lot of churches. However, in Thailand, most of the citizens are Buddhist, so there are a lot of temples. Aren’t they striking?

That last picture is of a giant Buddha statue. I saw a whole lot of them!

I also went to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, a sacred temple just outside of Chiang Mai. It was one of the most stunning buildings I have ever been to:

There were some really great views of Chiang Mai from here:

From  Chiang Mai I went to the small village of Pai. I saw some of the best scenery there:

I should also add that I ate a lot of Thai food, and it is so delicious! It is similar to Chinese food, with a lot of noodles and rice, but is definitely has its own flavor:

I was in Chiang Mai for New Year’s Eve, which ended up being so much fun! They had fireworks at midnight:

And the Thai have their own New Year’s tradition called Sky Lanterns! Sky Lanterns are constructed from rice paper and a wooden frame and a candle. When the candle is lit, the flame heats the air inside the lantern , which lowers the density and causes the lantern to rise into the air. The effect is amazing:

Sky Lanterns are a symbol of good luck. If you light a lantern on New Year’s, you are supposed to have good luck all year round. I sure hope it works!

After Chiang Mai I headed down to the beaches. The beaches of Thailand are supposed to be some of the prettiest in the world. I went to two: Hua Hin, on the mainland, and Koh Phangan, and island just east of the coast. They were, indeed, some of the most beautiful beaches I had ever been to!


In Hua Hin, I even got to go on an elephant ride! Asian elephants were a lot different than the ones in Africa. They are hairier, that’s for sure…

I even got to see a baby tiger! He was so cute!

I am now off to Laos to discover new and interesting things!



Africa!

Posted by Flat Stanley in Uncategorized on 12 18th, 2010

Hello, friends! I’m sorry it has been so long, but I didn’t have access to Internet until recently. I have so much to tell you,  so hopefully you will forgive me after you read my post.

I traveled through seven countries in Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and Botswana. Here is a map:

In Arusha, Tanzania, I taught at a school for local village children. It was fun to work with them even though they only spoke Swahili and not one word of English! I did learn a few words of Swahili, which you may recognize from The Lion King: Rafiki actually means friend, and Simba means lion!

I then went on to Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania. I had a lot of fun at the beautiful beaches and trying different spices and fruits on a Spice Tour! Zanzibar is home to many different plant life, including some fruits they don’t even have in grocery stores in the U.S. Here are some pictures, including one of my friend Aaron trying to climb a coconut tree. When the local people collect coconuts, they don’t rely on machinery, but rather do it themselves! Aaron says that it isn’t easy, and I believe him.

After Tanzania, I headed into Malawi for some more beach time. I was actually there during Halloween, and I really wanted to celebrate with a Jack-o-Lantern. Unfortunately, there are no pumpkins in Malawi, so I had to substitute with a pineapple. It actually turned out pretty well!

In Zambia I went to Victoria Falls, some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. The waterfalls were not at their full flow since it was spring in Zambia when I was there. You may be confused because it was fall in the United States in November. You see, Zambia is in the southern hemisphere while the U.S. is in the northern one. Because the earth is at a tilt, the southern hemisphere experiences the opposite season as the northern hemisphere. For example, when it is winter in the U.S, Zambia will have its summer. If you have any more questions, I’m sure Mrs. Williams will be happy to answer them.

I did get to see my friends bungee jump off the Victoria Falls bridge. Here is a video, and don’t try this at home!

After Livingstone we headed to Botswana and the Okavanga Delta. The Okavanga Delta is a wildlife preserve that is home to lions, giraffes, hippos, elephants, zebras, leopards, and many other types of animals. There are no roads in the Delta, and lots of channels of water. To get around we used a type of canoe called a mokoro. Here are some pictures:

We went on a bush walk and saw a herd of zebras and a couple elephants! We didn’t get too close, though. In the Delta the animals are very cautious around humans. We were sure to keep our distance.

We also saw a hippo while taking a ride in the mokoro. We observed it again from a safe distance. Hippos may look cute, but in fact the hippo is one of the most aggressive animals in Africa. They kill more people each year than any other on the continent.

I traveled from the Delta into Namibia and Etosha National Park. Etosha is set in the middle of a dry desert environment with numerous waterholes in the preserve. It is one of the best wildlife viewing experiences in Africa. The key to the park is to stay by a waterhole and wait for the animals to arrive. I saw elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, a leopard, a hyena, ostrich and numerous types of antelope all around the park.

I was disappointed because I hadn’t seen any lions the first day in Etosha, but when we were on our way out of the park, guess what should walk right in front of our safari truck? LIONS!

I traveled a to the Skeleton Coast at the coast of Namibia to check out the Cape Fur Seals. There were thousands of seals at this one spot!

I headed to Cheetah Park in Namibia after Etosha. Cheetah Park is a rescue organization that rescues, well, cheetahs! When the cats prey on livestock in Namibia, the farmers are given permission to shoot the cheetah. Instead of killing them, they can send them to Cheetah Park to be kept in a reserve. I got to see the cheetahs up close.

They also have a domestic giraffe that was really friendly!

Next up was Spitzkoppe and gorgeous desert scenery. I took a hike up a mountain and saw some amazing views:

We also saw Fish River Canyon, the second biggest canyon in the world next to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

I made my way down to Cape Town, South Africa. South Africa is much different than the rest of the continent. While taking in the beautiful scenery surrounding me, such as Table Mountain, I also enjoyed the local mall. It is very similar to the United States in a lot of ways.

I am off to Thailand in Southeast Asia. Until next time, Trackers!



Egypt

Posted by Flat Stanley in Posts on 10 15th, 2010

Salam, friends!

Egypt has been one of the most exciting countries I have visited so far! I am so glad I took those weeks in the Sinai Penninsula (where Nuweiba and Dahab are) to relax, because I really needed it for this trip!

I started my trip in Cairo. I had to be really careful walking around, because there is A LOT of traffic! There were horns honking around me all the time, it was crazy!

I did get to go to the Egyptian museum, which houses over 120,000 artifacts from Ancient Egypt! My favorite part was the King Tut exhibit. You may not know, but King Tut is famous because an archaeologist named Howard Carter discovered his tomb in 1922. He found many treasures in the tomb, including gold necklaces, a golden throne, and coffins made out of solid gold. It may surprise you that King Tut’s tomb has been the only one ever discovered in its original form, as all the others had been robbed. Amazing, isn’t it?

I wasn’t able to take photographs inside the museum, but here are a couple photos I took outside:

After the museum I went to the famous pyramids! This is actually one of the sites that I was most looking forward to, and they certainly did not disappoint.

The biggest pyramid, better known as the Great Pyramid, was built for a pharoah named Cheops. The pyramid took over 22 years to build, with over 100,000 men working on it each year. The pyramid was finished in 2560 BC. Some of the blocks weighed up to 5 tons. Estimated, there are about 2,360,000 blocks. No wonder it is named a Wonder of the Ancient World (the only one remaining, in fact)!

Right next to the pyramids is the Sphinx.

It is actually a lot smaller than the pyramids. It was carved out of stone to protect the second biggest pyramid, which was built for the pharoah (keneru). The Sphinx is over 4500 years old, and the nose has worn away due to erosion.

I went on to see a bunch more tombs and temples. I was really excited to see the hieroglyphics, the alphabet the Ancient Egyptians used.

Then I went for a 4-day trek in the desert. I had so much fun hiking in the beautiful landscape. I even got to go for a camel ride!

My camel’s name was Mona, and she was really nice!

Up next I fly to Nairobi, Kenya. Until next time, Trackers!



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