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Jan 22, 2011

a day in Disney Epcot Theme Park

29.12.2010  11:30 pm Kissimmee . The taxi ride from  Orlando air port to the hotel was just a teaser about how funny things are going to be for the next couple of days. And even though we were speaking in Bangla , the Puerto Rican taxi driver joined our conversation (!) and started to share his opinion, damn !

It was too late ,  but we still need to satisfy our hungry stomachs, ordering a pizza appeared to be the only option. Shafi and Shoshi arrived late , their flight was late [ there was no one to fly the plane ! after boarding all passengers it was discovered that the pilot did not have appropriate license or something like that  ] ...  I am trying to imagine the situation of the passengers at that moment . 

30.12.2010: after going to bed at around 4 am, I wonder how it was possible for me to get up at 7 and get ready and run for breakfast , the breakfast buffet was at the opposite side of the road, but in 10 minutes  I could only finish my coffee and the pancake, and then run again for the shuttle which will take us to Epcot Theme park.  It was a full packed bus, boys were standing , letting the girls to take the seats :) the woman sitting beside me seemed very annoyed at our chirping and chatting. The bus stopped in the middle of the road to take more passengers [ again, de ja vu , just like Dhaka ], two beautiful girls got on.  A baby boy [hardly 3 years of age  ] kept on staring at them from its mother's lap , way to go dude ! 

At the ticket counter: we had done our research on the ticket options. The prime target was the Soarin' , so we reserved our seats through FASTPASS, took the Living with the Land ride ( this one is a showcase of farming and growing plants, more appropriate for young children so they can become aware of environemnt etc. It also showed different tropical fruits and vegetables, therefore nothing new to me ) , and then headed towards Test Track, 1.5 hours of waiting on line for a 1.5 minute ride, it was not as exciting as we thought, may be the long wait just exhausted us . But the waiting could be worse if it was not with such a dynamic group. A teenage couple was right behind us , and they decided to make this waiting time to be in use by showing off their mutual love in public, somehow it inspired several other teen couples, after some minutes it became like a competition "who can show their 'Love' in more rigorous way" , last time I saw any living creature joint together while still  moving was a pair of cockroaches, but we humans are the best of creations indeed.  finally the wait was over and we could get into the ride, with screaming and everything, it was exciting but too short a ride.  After that there was a pavilion of GM cars, sexy and shiny, just looking at them will make you wanna touch them. We did what we always do : take a lot of pictures with and without posing, and drawing public attention ! 

What was next ? ahh, the world showcase and the Spaceship: Earth. Mexico pavilion was the most interesting among all the country showcases. While we are ignoring our rural culture as 'old fashioned','too laymen like' they are presenting it as their heritage, I felt inspired and the handicrafts reminded me of things we used to see in our childhood, craftsmen selling their handmade dolls, showpieces-you will not find them anymore in Bangladesh, respect for the Mexicans. How can a Disney theme park trip become real without taking pictures with any Disney charatcter ? and there we found Donald Duck and the photosession continues as well. 

I became detached from the group while taking pictures near the Germany pavilion. Finally they found me 
near the American pavilion, it was not the first time I was detached from the group in a trip, usual fro me , as long as the cell phone has power , it is OK.

We had packed some food ( thanks to the boys for carrying the heavy packs) and I had my lunch with that, but it was not enough for the whole day. I felt hungry again and realized the food option is aweful, if not horrible. It is not only expensive, but if you take one of those the large turkey legs or the giant pretzels, you can consider that to be another ride which will give you simulation of  life of a 'caveman': hold the turkey leg, try to have a bite opening your mouth as big as possible, imagine that you are sitting beside a wood-fire wearing bison-skin. There were burgers, sandwiches too, but just looking at the turkey leg took away my appetite.

Now time to move onto the other attractions. 'Future world ' had the ride "Spaceship: Earth" .  They actually narrated the human history, from cavemen to current world, it was so amazing to realize how far we have came as human being. And the video they make superimposing your face with a cartoon image was great, we did not expect it and had no idea this would happen. It was fun. 

Then we returned back to 'the Land' gallery for our FASTPASS-reserved Soarin' ride, and saw hundreds of people waiting on line [ Look at their faces, they  now look just like us when we were waiting in line for Test Track ride] , but as we already reserved our seats, we just walked passed them like VIPs, mu ha ha ! I knew it was not real and just a simulation, but it is amazing how they do it, I really felt that I am gliding on air, and can fell down on earth any moment, one of the most thrilling experiences in my life. I was thinking if just this simulation can do this to me , what happens to those who para glide in real life, and how brave they are !  I like to think myself as a brave person who can go for anything, but I think my heart would stop working if my brain decides to take a paragliding course someday.

The underwater simulation ride with Nemo  was fun too, specially the talking Turtle Crush, it talks with the audience. He asked a little girl where was she 'hatched', she replied 'in a hospital', Crush said he never heard of any beach called 'hospital'. This show was very cute.

And then another 40 minutes wait for Mission:Space. It has two options, less intense and more intence, we decide to go on the more intense one [ takes you to Mars ! ] ,  there was announcement about choosing carefully, and not to choose the more intence one if you have motion sickness, but if you never moved that fast then how would you know if you have motion sickness or not ! It gives you higher G-force and I realized  I cannot move my hand and reach for the joystick, WOW, that means it is intense [ the attraction exposes riders to forces up to 2.5g :: wikipedia] . The joycticks actually move on their own, so even if you do not manage to move them with your hand due to the G-force you may just touch them and they will give you the impression that you are controlling the spaceship. I was the Enginner among the 4 crews in our 'space shuttle', so there was a pilot, commander, enginner and navigator.  When I was a kid, I used to play with my cousins where we were galaxy rangers, travelling through time and space with our spaceships [ most of the time the space ship was our bed and the 'control panel' was made by some pillows ], now even at this age, it was not less fun to play the same game with higher g-force and spinning and I was praying to stay a bit longer in the ride. I guess these 4 minutes are going to be some unforgettable minutes for me. 

The day ended with spectacular Illumination,  we could not find a nice place to capture the lighting works but what we saw with our bare eyes was enough. The three photographers tried their best with to capture the moments with their skills and photography kits. And however exciting and beautiful a place can be, at the end of the day the greatest pictures are those with the smiling faces that you will see over and over again.
It is not possible to visit all the pavilions in a single day, so it is better to make list of preferences according to age and interest and make the best use of time and money [paying 90$ should pay off after all, right ?] the most tiring part was the big lines and long waits, the day morning was sunny and warm but the evening turned out to be too cold, so had to carry jackets and warm clothes all the time.The Disney shop is alluring, I wanted to buy everything so finally bought nothing. I was thinking about my sisters, I missed them the whole day, and hope someday I will bring them here and enjoy the enjoyment in their eyes as I had throught the day.

Jan 7, 2011

Unforgettable Florida Tour

May be I am making this my habit,  whenever snow attacks in long lonely winter, escape to Florida. 

No wonder people talk about weather that much, it's not that they do not have anything else to talk about, it deserves to be a topic. Now I do realize weather can affect people's psychology to what extent, the barren trees and snow covered ground just make me more depressed, and a sunny beach has to be the hide-out from this. Living in the tropic I never had the time to appreciate the virtue of it, better late than never, vamos a ir a Florida

I was not so interested in visiting Disney's theme parks at first, still I had nothing to loose as my friends were with me,  even in Bangladesh I never visited Fantasy kingdom or any other theme park, never rode in roller coaster, but Epcot is a bit different. The world showcase part was ok, but  Soarin' and Mission: Space just blew my mind away , it was worth it, and the day ended with their spectacular illumination show, best fire/lighting/laser show I've ever seen.

Then our wearied team started for Miami, I felt bad about myself as I could not contribute in the driving part. South Beach was windy and cold, I could not stay there for long. The bus ride to Bayfront park was my highlight of the day. It was simply hillarious :D Another new year's eve on Miami, and this time revisiting the places I have been last time, and dinner in the same restaurant at Lincoln Mall, the adventure of finding out the places from my memory augmented the thrill of discovering new ones. Next destination Everglades. Anhinga trail and Flamingo park, boat ride and bird / alligator watching.  Everglades was more thrilling the last time I visited, nothing much to add on this except for the football match played by the boys. The breathtaking wonders were yet to come this time.

The last time I visited Florida I had zero experience on swimming, after coming back I took some swimming lessons so that I do not have to regret the next time, and yes, no regret this time ! I am not a good swimmer yet, but at least I can say I swam in the Atlantic ( just near the shore , but still it is an ocean ) and parasailed , ( yahoooo... ) and saw real wild dolphins swimming just several feet away from us which was beyond the expectation.

And finally the sunset ...  my minuscule brain could not figure out the relation between the sun disappearing into the ocean and the nothingness appearing inside me; the color, the vastness, the sound of mild waves breaking against the rocks, the breeze and the seagulls, the lighthouse in the background, the strangers near us playing guitars - the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Moments like this make me wish for another life, a life where I am a poet or a painter; and then I console myself saying that may be Rabindranath Tagore has already described this in one of his works, I just have to find that and quote. 

From Orlando to Miami to Everglades to Key Largo to Key West and finally back to College Park, at least this time Maryland welcomed me back with a sunny day and not-so-cold temperature.  May God give me strngth to survive another semester .  

[ P.S. on this tour we were talking about Cliches time and again, in this post  I tried to use as much cliches as I could remember. ]
Our tour summary :

Orlando - Disney Epcot : 1 day
Miami  - South Beach , Lincoln mall, Bayfront park fire works, Key Biscayne Light house : 2
Everglades - Anhinga trail ,  Flemingo state park boat ride: 1
Pegion Key - island tour, Bahia Honda beach: 1
Key West - parasailing , Mallory square, Light house , Taylor beach;  Key Largo - coral reef park : 1 

Jan 6, 2011

Happy New Year

I am indeed getting older as the earth keeps turning ; no grey hair yet ( surprising enough for a PhD student though ) , but looking at the undergraduates certainly makes me jealous ,  and sigh over memories I never had, things I never done, moments I never experienced,  nostalgia over nothing !

But good friends can always rejuvenite one another, right ? We cannot always choose the people we are with, sometimes we have to endure the presence of the wrong company, or just not lucky enough to find the right ones. This new year, I was one of the lucky people who could celebrate the begining of another 365 days with beautiful people in a beautiful place. At this beginig of this new year, I am really happy and hope everyone in every corner in this earth feel the same.