• Teddy Travels The World

    Teddy Travels Part I

    By Ron Blehm (17 May 2008)

    My kids have enjoyed reading the books by Annette Langen & Constanza Droop about a stuffed bunny named "Felix". In their first book, "Letters from Felix," Sophie and her family are on vacation when she looses her stuffed bunny. As she and her family tearfully board the plane home, Felix is on another flight, finding adventures and new worlds as he travels around the globe - sending letters home to his beloved owner from places like: London; Paris; Rome; Cairo; Nairobi and New York. When my son recently wanted a "Felix-themed Birthday" and we were playing some games from other cultures around the world, it occurred to me that too often our children grow up with a somewhat limited world-view. What an opportunity we have, as simmers, to share the wonderfully wide world of culture and geography with our own children. Perhaps, rather than sitting in a corner with our 22" flat screen monitors, we should be engaging and involving our children in our little hobby! I'd encourage you to read this article article by a close simming friend of mine from Western Australia, Peter Stark.

    Now, obviously not all of my ideas are good ones but I got to thinking that it might be fun for one of my kids' stuffed animals to host tours for YOUR KIDS' stuffed animals. That's what this piece is all about - send me the name of your kids' favorite stuffed toy and some photos and information of where that toy would like to go and we'll try and get there! So I asked my daughter if "Bun-bun" wanted to host this series but she informed me that he didn't like "Papparatzzi!" Next, I asked my son if "Peter" wanted to host this series and he said that Peter was shy and, "didn't want to be famous to all of Dada's friends." So, I dug around to find my own childhood Teddy - he's in sad repair but he has personality don't you think?

    So now, gather your children or grandchildren around and join us as Teddy Travels the World:


       

    Teddy looked out the seemingly too small window of the airplane, over the blue waters to the drab foothills that rose into snow-covered peaks beyond, what a contrast of texture and color they provided. As he studied the shape of the land he heard the engines slow and felt that barely perceptible "lift" as the 787 started its descent (picture above, left). As they followed the shoreline lower and lower Teddy's excitement grew, his first stop was so historic and volatile that he couldn't wait to get on the ground (picture above, right)!

           

    Jerusalem today is a city of about 750,000 people from all walks and backgrounds. Located in the Judean Mountains, between the Mediterranean Sea and the northern tip of the Dead Sea, the city has a history that goes back well before the time of Christ, making it one of the oldest cities in the world (above, left). Jerusalem has been the holiest city in Judaism and the spiritual center of the Jewish people since the 10th century BCE (above, right). The city contains a number of significant ancient Christian sites and is widely considered the third-holiest city in Islam. As Teddy wandered the old streets he was saddened that so much history and culture and diversity has been lost to ... all the diversity. Jews and Christians and Muslims all consider Abraham as an ancestor, yet the often wide differences in religions had made Jerusalem the ignition point of hatred and violence. After just a few days near the great ancient walls, Teddy was back aboard the "Felix 787" and heading south (above, center).

           

    Carefully he noted the blue waters of the Mediterranean and the barren sands of Egypt. There, far below, was the mighty Nile River flowing out of Africa ... As the hours ticked by Teddy watched the rolling sandy hills of Egypt give way to the low scrub of Sudan and the lightly forested regions of northern Uganda (above, left). As a great and expansive lake came into view Teddy again felt the plane slowing and starting to descend. Lower they came over the hills and thick forested jungles of southern Uganda and Rwanda. Below was the natural habitat for much of the world's wild gorilla population. As Teddy looked he noticed that the hills were actually mountains and that some of them were actually spewing smoke from their volcanic peaks (above, center). They came in low over the Rwandan Capital of Kigali and landed smoothly on the single runway (above, right).

       

    Kigali was founded in 1907 under German colonial rule, but did not become the capital until Rwandan independence in 1962 (above, left). The traditional capital was the seat of the mwami (king) in Nyanza, while the colonial seat of power was in Butare, then known as Astrida. Butare was initially the leading contender to be the capital of the new independent nation, but Kigali was chosen because of its more central location. Since then the city has grown very quickly with a population of over 850,000, it is the capital and largest city of Rwanda (above, right). It is situated in the center of the nation, and has been the economic, cultural, and transport hub of Rwanda since it became capital at independence in 1962. As Teddy wandered through the hilly countryside he was struck by the farming and agriculture and natural resources of this small African nation (below, left). Again, a feeling of sadness came over him that because people are sometimes treated unfairly there has been so much violence in this garden-like nation (below, right).

       

    After a long and unsuccessful attempt to find gorillas, Teddy was back in the airplane and heading east, out of Africa, over the Indian Ocean, over India and Thailand (follow along with your kids on your own maps) and into a tropical paradise known as Kota Kinabalu (below, left). Formerly known as Jesselton, it is the capital of Sabah state in Malaysia. Located on the northwest coast of the island of Borneo facing the South China Sea and Tunku Abdul Rahman Park on one side, and with Mount Kinabalu in the background (below, center), Kota Kinabalu has an estimated population of half a million in the city and 700,000 in the urban area, it is the sixth largest urban center in Malaysia.

           

    Kota Kinabalu is often simply known as K.K., is known within Malaysia, and to an extent, internationally, as a tourism getaway and a major gateway into Sabah Province and Borneo (above, right). Kinabalu National Park is located about 90 kilometers from the city, and there are a number of tourist attractions in and around the city itself (below, left). The city is also one of the major industrial and commercial centers in East Malaysia making Kota Kinabalu one of the fastest growing cities in the country (below, center). Since Teddy had missed out on finding the gorillas, he set out straight-away to the National Park to find the local orangutangs, then, he relaxed on the beautiful Malay beaches. Finally, before heading out he took the Teddy GA-8 for a tour of the local area (below, right).

           
           

    From Malaysia Teddy set out on a long, over-sea journey to the west coast of the USA, landing in Portland, Oregon after what seemed like two days on the airplane (three pictures above)! Portland is located astride two great Oregon rivers, the Willamette (pronounced "will-AM-ett" ) and the Columbia (below, left). In fact, when Lewis and Clark rowed by (camping just across the Columbia from the current location of KPDX) the area where the airport is located today was little more than a swampy sand bar! As Portland was settled and became one of the hubs of the Pacific Northwest, most of its towering old-growth forests were cut down earning it the nick name of "stump town." Today Portland has a tri-county population of close to 1 million (below, center) and besides business and trade boasts an active outdoor lifestyle (below, right) (recently voted one of the most, "bicycle friendly big cities" in the US).

           
           

    After flying the GA-8 up the Columbia River Gorge and past Mt. Hood, (above, left) Teddy was back into the Felix 787, leaving before dawn, for his last leg down to South America - Peru to be exact. Arequipa is located in southern Peru, it is that nation's second largest city (above, center) and is just over 600 miles from Lima (above, right). The city lies in the highlands at the foot of the snow-capped volcano El Misti, less than 100 air-miles from the Pacific Ocean. Arequipa's airport rests well over 8,000 feet above sea level! (below, left) El Misti is located beside a bigger volcano Chachani "the Beloved" and the peak Picchu Picchu "Top Top" - both named in the Quechua language of the ancient Inca Empire. El Misti is currently inactive, but erupted strongly between 1438 and 1471 and several smaller eruptions have occurred since then, most recently in 1784. Arequipa province has over 80 volcanoes which can be found in the Valley of Volcanoes (below, center). The city is also famous for many fine colonial-era Spanish buildings built of sillar (below, center), a pearly white volcanic rock used extensively in the city, and from which it gets its nickname La Ciudad Blanca ("the white city"). The historic centre of Arequipa was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2000, in recognition of its architecture and historic integrity (below, right).

               

    It is here, sucking on his oxygen, that we'll leave Teddy for now. Join us again next time kids for more adventures as "Teddy Travels the World."

    Ron Blehm
    [email protected]

    Continue to part 2


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