Sunday, April 8, 2012

An Easter of Epic Proportions

Happy Easter to everyone!
This Easter will be the first that I have not been home since I was abroad, which was not too long ago considering I've only had one Easter back home in New Hampshire since 2008, but this time I will not be celebrating the holiday in Bangkok, or in Guangzhou, China, or at 4140 meters above sea level in the Himalyas. I'll be in Baltimore. Celebrating Easter (and Hanamatsuri the Buddhist holiday/Flower Festival in Japan to honor the birth of The Buddha). Today, I'll be working on my writing and photography. Documenting and reliving all of my past Easters.
Granted I miss my family and having the traditional Easter egg hunt, big dinner, and special moments back home. But this year it's more about reflection. Looking back at the year that was since my Easter 2011 and seeing such a big change in my life. Then being able to extrapolate those memories further back to the following years.
In 2010, my easter morning was spectacular. There were no eggs hidden anywhere, no Easter dinner served. It was the one of the most untraditional holidays I've ever had. And I'll never forget it.
I could barely sleep I was so excited, partially because I was having trouble breathing due to the unbelievable thin air but also because I was so excited to see what I had in store outside my window. I looked out a few time through the frosted glass to see the moonlight shining down onto the pearl-white snow of a hill outside the freezing cold hut we were sleeping in. I was wearing about six layers and still was shivering. The sun couldn't have come up faster for me and my anticipation. Finally it was time to awake and open my door to see just where I was: at the Annapurna Base Camp in the Himalaya's. After four long, grueling days of hiking to the top of this mountain, I finally got to see what it was all about. All the other hikers and myself came for this one day, for this one view. To stare down the tenth tallest mountain in the world and be surrounded by colossal giants for 360 degrees.
(I wrote about the entire Annapurna trip last year at this time, you can see it here...)

The view was incredible, the sky was piercing blue and the contrast of the snow and rock against the sun's beaming light was amazing. Early in the morning, the sky was a deep-sea blue but the sun's rays hit the mountain tops in a pinkish/orange color almost reminiscent of the Easter bunny.

The colors later hued into a purple which made the mountain look almost friendly and kind. But as the sun rose higher, the colors got richer, the blues brighter, the whites clearer and you could begin to see just how massive it was.

I spend a couple hours just soaking it in, taking hundreds of photos and making sure I wished everyone on the mountain, as well as back home a Happy Easter.

For Easter in 2009, I was just finishing up a month of extremely grueling travel in China. The whirlwind adventure consisted of nearly circling the massive country via bus, train, plane, boat, taxi, rickshaw, bicycle, and camel. Literally. Of the 32 days spent in China, 6.5 of them were spent in total on transportation. And of course that Easter also had some transportation while in Guangzhou (our last stop before flying back to Bangkok for Songkran (the Thai New Year/Water Festival). A ferry ride filled with hundreds of locals smoking cigarrettes and holding up their dozens of bicycles (some having several live chickens hanging upside down off of their handlebars!) took us to our last hotel in China.

We got to have dinner with a couple from the U.S. who are family friends of mine. It was nice to be able to speak English, talk about Chinese culture without a filter, and just vent about the entire trip out to people who would understand, considering they had lived in China for many years. It is definitely one of those places that if you've never been, you don't know what you're in for. But sticking to the transportation habit that our trip consisted of, only a handful of hours later we were back on the road (and air), flying home to Bangkok. Easter was once again not really celebrated at all that year, but replaced with amazing stories and wonderful experiences.

But even with crazy stories of Easter from around the world, I still hold the holiday dearest when at home with my family. Last year's Easter was one of those times when it just had all of the right makings for a great day. Late April, the flowers were blooming and bright and the snow in New Hampshire was all gone but still lingered it's brisk coolness.
Blooming, bright flowers outside of Baltimore's train station.

Centerpieces for Easter dinner back home.
Although I am in Baltimore this Easter holiday, I still hold closely the special celebrations of the past. So for this year, have a Happy Easter and Happy Hanamatsuri! 

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