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Animals

352--California: Elephant Seals, 2 Tons of Fun
@ CherieSpotting     May 24 2006 - 05:43 PST
Elephant seals spash and play along the shore in Central California.

Elephant seals spash and play along the shore in Central California.

Cherie writes: What should you do if you see a Mirounga augustirostris on the beach? Take a photo of course! Commonly known at the Elephant Seal, these massive mammals flop onto the beach twice a year in California—once to mate and another time to molt.

These 2 ½ ton mammals are the largest aquatic carnivores in existence. These big guys have powerful lungs and are great divers. They can stay under water for more than 80 minutes (more than any other mammal) and dive to depths of over 5187-ft (making the elephant seal the world’s deepest diving vertebrate.)

The pups are called weaners and the baby elephant seals look like little puppies. But the elephant seals loose their cuteness as they age—they have hairy flippers, no ears and they grow noses down to their mouths. If you like hairy appendages, thick blubber & pendulous noses—take a peek at these Elephant Seal photos:
more photos...

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284--Myanmar (Burma): Thibaw, Water-Buffalo & Ox-Carts
@ CherieSpotting     Mar 29 2005 - 11:26 PST
A Shan farmer lets me ride his water-buffalo bareback in a village near Thibaw, Myanmar. *Photo by Aunt Lynda.

A Shan farmer lets me ride his water-buffalo bareback in a village near Thibaw, Myanmar. *Photo by Aunt Lynda.

cherie writes: Flashback: I'm not sure how these ideas creep into my head, but it seemed like fun. "I want to ride a water-buffalo," I informed my Aunt Lynda one morning. That very same afternoon we walked to a Shan village (near Thibaw, Shan State, Myanmar) in search of a water-buffalo.

Of course, the first water-buffalo my joking Aunt picked had just rolled in the mud. I requested a less dirty water-buffalo and my Aunt gave me a look that said I should stop being so picky. Then my Aunt suggested a much cleaner water-buffalo (that was actually submerged in water.) I politely requested a non-wet, non-muddy water-buffalo to mount.

We finally found a water-buffalo and my Aunt said something to the Shan farmer who led the water-buffalo by a leash. Aunt Lynda spoke in Burmese and the farmer’s face contorted like someone just asked him to explain the Coriolis Effect. My Aunt probably said something like: "Can this girl sit on your water-buffalo, please?" The farmer’s eyebrows did a native Shan-dance while he considered the offer. Finally the farmer agreed, but I’m not sure if the water-buffalo was ever officially consulted.
more photos...

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273--Bali: No More Monkey Business
@ Where`s Cherie?     Jan 13 2005 - 05:06 PST
That is not a Balinese barrette in my hair.  That is a macaque tangled in my wild mess of curls. *Photo by Margaret.

That is not a Balinese barrette in my hair. That is a macaque tangled in my wild mess of curls. *Photo by Margaret.

cherie writes: The Balinese call it Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana. Translated in English it means The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. I’m not sure if Margaret and I spent the morning admiring the monkeys…or if the monkeys spent the morning admiring us. I was tackled, jumped on, and my hair was pulled; I was like being a kid all over again.

One curious monkey couldn’t stop looking under Margaret’s dress. Maybe he had a bet with a fellow macaque regarding the color of Margaret’s panties. One thing is certain—the Balinese macaques had a ball tormenting the two American blond girls.

After being poked and tickled by the fearless monkeys, we sat down to a traditional Balinese feast of suckling pig. Later, Margaret and I retired to our hotel for a dip in the infinity pool that over-looks a picturesque rice-paddy. The rice paddies near Ubud are always full of interesting farmers, who will gladly climb a palm tree to fetch you a refreshing coconut snack. Our day ended by watching a typical Balinese shadow-puppet show. I didn’t understand anything that was going on in the hour-long show except for one moment when a Balinese puppet said in perfect English: “My name is Don King. Can’t you tell from my hair?”
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263--Thailand: Big Snakes at the Floating Market
@ CherieSpotting     Dec 17 2004 - 03:10 PST
Cherie and her main squeeze at the floating market in Thailand.

Cherie and her main squeeze at the floating market in Thailand.

cherie writes: Many travelers don’t like Thailand’s “Floating Market”. Critics say it’s just too touristy. But I loved it, and enjoyed being paddled through the canals and imagining what the floating market might have been like hundreds of years ago. I’m sure it’s changed—but it is still a sight to see.

Diane, Hilda, Hannah, Leighton and I shared a boat and bought breakfast from local women and men who paddled by. The mini-coconut pancakes were unforgettable!

After our bellies were full, we decided to get our necks squeezed. We made friends with huge Burmese pythons. Hannah soon found herself wearing a snake necklace, while the twins opted for a more fashionable scarf. I got the most action I’ve seen in a while and got a big snake kiss—tongue and all!
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258--Thailand: A Tigress meets her Match at Tiger Temple
@ CherieSpotting     Dec 04 2004 - 08:56 PST
Cherie cuddles with a tiger at a forest monastery in Thailand.

Cherie cuddles with a tiger at a forest monastery in Thailand.

cherie writes: Nestled between sugar cane fields and rice patties of Kanchanaburi, Thailand sits a Forest Monastery called Watpa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno. Luckily, the monks don’t make you pronounce it before you enter.

What makes this monastery different from others is that you can watch the monks live in harmony with tigers. Their motto is: “The monastery is not only for man, but for all animals who seek the peacefulness.”

In 1999, a forest monk befriended an orphaned tiger cub after her mother had been slaughtered by a poacher near the border of Myanmar.

Soon other tiger cubs that had lost their mothers to poachers were brought to the monks to raise. Tiger Temple is a tiger orphanage where you can learn about tigers, play with the cubs, and even pet and snuggle with their peaceful full-size parents.
more photos...

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175--Mexico: Isla Isabela is for the Birds
@ CherieSpotting     Jan 16 2004 - 03:00 PST
Cherie with her frigate friends on Isla Isabela. *Photo by Greg.

Cherie with her frigate friends on Isla Isabela. *Photo by Greg.

cherie writes: “Is that a dead man?” I asked out loud.

I saw something odd floating in the distance, but I wasn’t sure what it was. Rennie, Anne, Greg and I were sailing on Cassiopeia, a Swan 65. There was no land in sight and we were headed towards Isla Isabela. I shimmied my way up to the bow and saw that we were headed right for the floating carcass!

The deceased lifted up his head and looked at me. His back was a carapace. It was a turtle! I started screaming: “Turtle, turtle, turtle!” Normally I would have photographed such a moment but the turtle was about to become turtle soup. We were headed right for it at 8-knots!
continued...

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156--Zimbabwe: Elephant Safari
@ CherieSpotting     Oct 09 2003 - 04:49 PST
Cherie and Kristi on an Elephant Safari in Zimbabwe.

Cherie and Kristi on an Elephant Safari in Zimbabwe.

cherie writes: Kristi, Renee and I went on an 8 Day Bundu Safari. It began in South Africa and took us to Zimbabwe and back. An elephant safari is where you pay $90 US dollars to sit on an elephant and ride through the African Bush and try to spot other animals (warthogs, baboons, lions, other elephants.) One might think that two hours on an elephant just simply isn't enough time. But actually it is 1:45 minutes too long.

We got to bond with the elephants (the video we bought reminded us that we bonded with them.) Our bonding time included sitting on them (which I know they enjoyed) as well as feeding them and petting their long trunks.
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