Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day 10: Our Penultimate Performance

Many people spent their day sleeping after our long flight. Others went exploring various parts of the city. Some people visited the famous Dubai Mall, while others went to local restaurants. 
Clubbers gather for lunch in the Dubai Mall.
Clubbers pose in the Mall of the Emirates.
At 5 PM, we piled into our bus and headed to the American School of Dubai, where we were greeted by a poster advertising our show! We were all excited to see the poster - it seemed to boost our morale, as well! 

Look what we found waiting for us at the American School of Dubai!
We were introduced to the superintendent and choir director of the American School of Dubai, as well as the men's choir of the American School of Dubai. As it turns out, the ASD men's choir had learned the Club's arrangement of "Country Roads" and was going to perform it with us during our concert. 

The American School of Dubai's campus. Its splendor easily rivals most college campuses! 
At 7 PM, the concert began with the Club running in through the aisles to perform "Chicago," which was met with raucous applause. The concert was a success: our "Boy Band Medley" received a standing ovation. 
The Club performs "Gonna Build a Mountain." 
The joint choirs perform "Country Roads."

After returning to the hotel, some people went to bed, while the majority of people headed to the Mall of the Emirates. The Mall of the Emirates was extremely impressive - not only was there a movie theater, but there was also a ski slope, a food court, and an arcade! Most people wandered around the mall and did a variety of things: some people skied, others went to the arcade. The majority of people went to see "X-Men: Days of Future Past" in 3-D. 

After staying at the Mall of the Emirates until closing time, we made our way back to the hotel to get some rest. 

Until next time, 

The Penn Glee Club 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 9: We Arrived in Dubai!

After receiving breakfast and lunch from the Ndoro Lodge, we piled into buses around 1 PM and headed for Kilimanjaro International Airport for our 4:20 PM flight. We arrived at the airport around 2 PM, and checked our bags in and sat in the waiting area. Some people relaxed before the long flight and some people did some last minute shopping in Tanzania. However, the vast majority of people could be found on their electronic devices. It was the first time in nearly 72 hours that any of us had a stable Internet connection, and the Club was chomping at the bit to check Facebook, email, Instagram, and every other social media site known to man.
WiFi...precious WiFi...
We headed to our gate around 2:45 PM. We ran into a group that was heading back to America – naturally, we sang to one of them! She really enjoyed our arrangement of “My Little Margie” (with her name, Liz, substituted in of course!). Our plane was supposed to arrive around 3:15 PM for boarding. However, the plane didn’t even arrive until roughly 4 PM! As the cabin crew prepared the plane, Clubbers started getting restless. However, we boarded the plane without incident.

Goodbye Kilimanjaro! Thanks for all the adventures!
Amazing cloud cover over Africa! 

After a brief stop in Dar Es Salaam and Doha, most of us arrived in Dubai around 4 AM local time: due to a customs snafu, a few people were left in Doha but will be arriving in a few hours. We went through immigration, exchanged currencies, claimed our luggage, and piled into a bus on the way to our hotel, the Golden Tulip Al Barshi.
The Dubai skyline. 
16 hours of travel can't dampen our spirits! 
After nearly 16 hours of travel, a lot of us decided to hit the hay – we’re really excited to explore Dubai though and, of course, we’ll be updating you with our adventures in this beautiful city!


The Penn Glee Club

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 8: Safari in Tarangire Park

Our first full day in Arusha began at 5 AM, when Tom Peterson (C’15) played his trumpet to wake the Club up. Clubbers groggily filed out of their rooms and into the dining room for breakfast. We then got into buses and headed out to the Tarangire National Park for a safari tour.

A map of the park that greeted us as we entered the Tarangire National Park. 
The Tarangire National Park is the sixth largest national park in Tanzania, with an area of roughly 1800 square miles. It is also home to the most African Elephants per square mile in the entire world.

The baobab tree! 
While in the safari park, we saw a wide variety of plant life, such as baobab trees, which are said to live to be thousands of years old! We also saw an enormous array of wildlife: from African Elephants to lions, from giraffes to impalas, from warthogs to buffalo, and an amazing variety of birds.

A family of warthogs eats.
 A few ostriches notice us as they eat.

A dik-dik. This one is fully grown! 
A monitor lizard relaxing on a rock by the river. 
A family of elephants decides to cross the road in the middle of our safari!
Two lionesses and their cubs relax near the river.
An African Fish Eagle perches in a tree.

A stork takes flight. 
A family of baboons hanging out in a tree.
A herd of impala notice us. Luckily, they stayed still long enough for a stellar photo!
A female water buck.
A family of hyraxes resting on a rock near the river.
We stopped for lunch at one point, and had some unexpected guests crash the party: a group of vervet monkeys ransacked some people’s lunches, stealing some food and causing the Club to fly into a panic.

A vervet monkey. These sneaky devils stole our food!
We spent roughly six hours total driving around the park, taking in the beauty of the region. We then stopped at the gift shop, piled into buses, and headed back to our lodge for dinner.
A few giraffes that we saw at the end of our safari. 

We’ve almost wrapped up this leg of Tour – we’re leaving for the airport at 1 PM today to head to our final destination, Dubai!


The Penn Glee Club

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day 7: Descent to Arusha

Greetings from Arusha!

This morning, we woke up to a cloudy, rainy morning at the Mount Kilimanjaro View Lodge, and we were provided a well-deserved hot breakfast. Some of us got to know a few of our hosts overnight, especially Jackson (not Foster!), who speaks very good English.

Some of us went out on another hike around the lodge after breakfast, while the rest played games and sang verses of “Vive l’amour” for the hour. Once we were all back together at the lodge, we had a nice lunch and had the privilege of seeing some local Chagga women performing some traditional song and dance numbers.

The Chagga women perform for the Penn Glee Club.
After that, we visited a local elementary school on the mountain and shared some of our music with the students. They entertained us with their versions of “Old MacDonald” and “If you’re happy and you know it.” Once the performances were done, we donated dozens of workbooks to the sixth and seventh graders.

Members of the PGC interact with the local schoolchildren. It was quite the rewarding experience! 
Then we took our vans from the school back to Moshi to pick up our luggage before heading out to Arusha for our stay at the Ndoro Hunter’s Lodge. We were welcomed by our hosts, Daniella and Elie, before being served dinner. Once we had all had our fill, we went to our rooms in anticipation of a 5:30 AM call for breakfast before our safari.

Kwaheri (goodbye for now)!

The Penn Glee Club

Day 6: Gonna Hike the Mountain (Yeah, yeah)

We started the day by heading out to the headquarters of Building a Caring Community (BCC), an organization that supports local children who have special needs. After attending a briefing that was led by Megan Hussey (C’12), we split into three groups and headed out to three different locations, where we exchanged music with the children. The kids had varying disabilities, from high-functioning autism to cerebral palsy. Some of us also sang to kindergarteners, who followed our bus as we left. We all found it very rewarding, and some people even described it as the best moment of Tour.
Members of the group laughing and singing with the children in the BCC Program. 
The parents of the children in the BCC Program have a shop. Many Clubbers purchased things or donated shillings to the cause. 

After returning to the hotel, we all checked out, grabbed lunch, and piled into buses to head up Mount Kilimanjaro. After we reached the village, the majority of us took an hour-long hike to a waterfall at Kilimanjaro. It’s the rainy season here, so the trails were a little muddy, but never too treacherous. At the waterfall, many Clubbers stripped down to their boxers and took a dip in the freezing-cold water or climbed behind it.
The view of the waterfall. If you look close enough, you can see Clubbers frolicking in the water. 
We then trekked all the way up to the Mount Kilimanjaro View Lodge. Because we had spent so much time having fun at the waterfall, the second half of our hike was lit by the moon, with great views of the lights in Moshi. At the end of the two hours, where we were fed a dinner that we all were very thankful for. After dinner, most of us stayed in huts, while some of us stayed in tents. We then had one of the most well-earned nights of tour yet.

Sorry this is late – as it turns out, there’s actually no WiFi on the top of the mountain! Tomorrow we’re off to Arusha for our safari in two days!

Belated best,

The Penn Glee Club

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day 5: Street Vendors and Star Treatment

The rooftop view from our hotel (No, it's not a painting!).
This morning, we split into two different groups for a relaxing morning. Some of us went to a Lutheran Mass at 8:00 AM this morning with our guide Godson, while the rest of us decided to rest before meeting up for a walking tour of Moshi at 9:45 AM. It was nice to have an easy morning after so many days of packed schedules.
Mid-morning souvenir shopping.
We spent several hours walking to different markets, shops, and souvenir stands, but who knew the shopping would come to us? As soon as we left our hotel, we began to collect a pack of street vendors who were simply intent on making sure we didn't leave Moshi empty-handed. Whether it was safari gear, soccer jerseys, or local artwork, everyone had something to offer.
The street vendors walked with us all day, hawking their wares.

The scenic walk to lunch
Following our souvenir shopping, we got to see the real Moshi on our walk to lunch. It's an incredible experience to be somewhere so far outside our comfort zone. It might sound a little cheesy, but walking the streets of this town has been eye-opening in the best way. Just before we made it to lunch, we stopped at a grocery store to pick up some supplies for the rest of our time in Tanzania.
The lunchtime view!
Time seemed to fly by before we received our lunch in a local hotel rooftop restaurant. We had pumpkin soup, beef curry, fish fingers, rice, and salad, and it was all the fuel we needed before heading out to the International School of Moshi (ISM).
First-class travel to the International School of Moshi

The second bus to our concert

It was just a 15 minute ride to ISM, where we had our most well-received concert yet! There were upwards of 200 seats in the space, and nearly all of them were filled by students and faculty of ISM and their friends and family. All of us were reminded of stories of the Japan and Latin America tours, with the ISM crowd cheering wildly for us, asking for all of our autographs, and buying out all of our CDs!
The concert venue at ISM

Moving into the space before the audience filled the seats 
We concluded the evening with an all-you-can-eat buffet in a luxury resort just outside of Moshi. We had spring rolls, beef kabobs, corn masala, vegetable noodles, chicken masala, jasmine rise, buttered naan, fruit salad, coleslaw, and marble cake, with complementary coffee and tea. We couldn't have asked for a better end to an exciting day.
Ending the day with an all-you-can-eat dinner!
Tomorrow, we're off to the Mount Kilimanjaro View Lodge, halfway up the mountain! We'll spend the day hiking around the lodge and getting a closer look at the world's highest freestanding mountain, "the roof of Africa!" We might not have access to the internet there, but we'll do our best to post again tomorrow night.

All the best to our friends at home,

The Penn Glee Club

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Day 4: Traveling to Tanzania!

There were many groggy faces this morning as we departed from the Kingsgate Hotel, Doha at 4:45 AM. After making sure that we hadn't forgotten anything - or anyone - we headed to the Doha International Airport for our 7:35 AM flight. 
Goodbye, Doha! We hope to be back soon - thanks for the memories!
After a five-hour flight (which felt like nothing compared to the 12-hour flight we took from Philadelphia to Doha!) we made a brief stop in Dar El Salaam, Tanzania. We then had a brief 45-minute flight and finally arrived at the Kilimanjaro International Airport. 
We were able to see Kilimanjaro's peak from the plane!
After checking in and claiming our luggage, we headed outside to meet Godson, our go-to guide for our stay in Moshi. We piled into buses and traveled through the streets of Moshi, heading towards our hotel. While some people stayed awake in order to take in the natural beauty of the region, most people got some much-needed sleep. 
Just one example of the beautiful natural landscape of Moshi. 
We arrived at our hotel, the Osy Grand Hotel, Moshi and checked into our rooms. We then had a briefing by Godson, who explained where we could exchange currencies, as well as what to do and what not to do in order to stay safe in Moshi. 

Our fearless Business Manager, Joseph Ooi (W, E'15)
Godson, our guide in Moshi. 

Each Clubber was given a Mount Kilimanjaro View Lodge bracelet.
After our briefing, we went up to the rooftop, and everyone's jaw dropped. There, rising high above Moshi, was the "Roof of Africa," Mount Kilimanjaro, jutting out above the clouds. The entire Club quickly pulled out cameras to take pictures of the breathtaking view. We were also able to watch the sun set over Moshi, which was one of the most picturesque things any of us have ever seen.
The "Roof of Africa," as seen from the roof of our hotel. Truly beautiful. 

The beautiful Moshi sunset.
We then headed out to an IndoItalian Restaurant and all had a delicious meal. It was the first time in a while that we sang in a public setting - we sang the famous Glee Club "Grace," which was met with applause from the other restaurant patrons. 
The Club performs its "Grace" before tucking into a delicious meal. 
After dinner, we headed back to our hotel. We've been invited to attend a Lutheran Mass tomorrow morning, and some people are taking Godson up on that offer. We also have our concert tomorrow night at 6:30 PM, at the International School of Moshi. If you know anybody in the area, let them know! 

That's all for now, 

The Penn Glee Club