New York - 17th April

Trip Start Dec 29, 2006
Trip End Jun 26, 2007

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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

2 weeks ago I went to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, home to a large Amish community. We hired a car for the day and made the 2.5 hour trip to Bird-in-Hand town, via the town of Intercourse. Apparently they get these weird town names from the pictures on the signs on the original hotels that we dotted along the main road the connected the east and west coasts of the USA. We could immediately tell when were in Amish towns by the huge number of horse and buggies that were on the road. We went to a replica of an Amish house, which was interesting. The Amish people believe that they must separate themselves from the rest of the "evil" world. Because of this they do not want to be reliant on the outside world, and therefore try to be self-sufficient. This is the reason why they have no electricity or petrol, and therefore they have no technology that requires electricity or petrol to be run. They do however use technology that only uses batteries. They also use natural gas for cooking and heating. In my opinion this appears to be inconsistent with their belief of being self-sufficient, but regardless they appear to live a very happy and simple life. They are Ana Baptists who escaped from persecution in Germany. An Ana Baptist is someone who is not baptized till they are an adult, as they believe this is when they can choose their faith. Many Amish can choose to experience the outside world before they are baptized as Amish and follow the Amish customs. Only about 5% of the Amish children leave, but I think that's not surprising considering that they have very little education, no financial support from their family, and in some ways are shunned by their family. Sorry to the long-winded explanation of their faith but I found it interesting and essential in understanding their way of life.

We also hired a guide who showed us around the Amish country side. He was very informed about the Amish life and the area as his family is Old Order Amish. He showed as some of the beautiful region where many of the Amish were out plowing their crops as it is spring here. Also had some of the best homemade ice cream ever and took home an awesome apricot pie. Those Amish sure can cook!

The next weekend we went to watch a baseball game, the NY Yankees vs the Baltimore Orioles. I had big expectations of this game because of its similarities with cricket, and it was great to watch. Unfortunately the Yankees lost the game but there were some huge home runs hit.

Last weekend I went to Niagara Falls. It was a very, very long bus trip. About 7 hours to get there without the breaks. You can hear the thunder of the falls about a kilometer away, and the sight is fantastic. It's quite difficult to describe the feeling of being so close to them. The falls are very wide and the water plummets over 50m before hitting the water below. We were hoping that the boat that goes under the falls would be running but unfortunately there was too much ice on the river for the boats to run. I entered the Canadian side by crossing the bridge. The Canadian side was a bit like a theme park with lots of haunted houses, video arcades, wax museums, Ferris wheals and casinos. Its far too over commercial for a great natural icon, but nether less it makes for a very different experience.
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