Posing in front of the Duck

Riding the Purple Duck on Father’s Day

Disclaimer: Real ducks were NOT used or harmed during this ride! No we haven’t created a hybrid purple duck!

When we say duck here, we do not literally mean the yellow feathery creatures. The Seattle duck is a World War II era amphibious vehicle that runs on both land and water. So we decided to take the 90 min tour for Father’s Day and have some family fun.

Ticket Counter
Ticket Counter

All of us were looking forward to the duck ride but as we boarded our purple duck, the LO (little one) got a bit whiny and any amount of singing and rocking did not seem to soothe him. We weren’t sure what to expect during the entire 90 min ride now! But as soon as the ride started, the music started to play and the wind blew against our faces through the huge windows, LO fell asleep in mommy’s arms.

Our amazing Tour Guide

Our Captain and Tour Guide
Our Captain and Tour Guide

Your tour is as good as your tour guide. Helen Joy, our tour guide, was an exuberant young lady, keeping us engaged with her jokes, little general knowledge pieces and some interesting props. She even demonstrated the “Flying Fish” from Pike Place market with a stuffed dummy fish! She also told us stories about the great Seattle fire and the gold rush, albeit in an interesting rap form, which was cool.

When the Duck swam in the Lake

Unfortunately for us, it was the Solstice parade in Fremont and so that part of the tour was diverted to Ballard. Well, basically the duck tour is a family-friendly tour and the solstice parade participants are supposedly cycling wearing nothing on their bodies but some body paint!

What we Saw

Floating Houses
Floating Houses
  • Floating Houses: These are multi-storied (Upto 3 levels) houses with one level below the water level. They are not actually floating and are grounded to the lake floor.
  • House Boats: These are like RVs on land. They can be towed around using attached boats.
  • Fishing Vessels
  • Other Ducks
  • Ballard Bridge and Fremont Bridge: These are drawbridges. So when a big vessel needs to pass through below the bridge, the traffic on the bridge has to be stopped and the bridge parts to let the vessel pass through.

When the Duck hopped on Land

What we Saw

We caught glimpses of:

  • Pike Place Market
  • The house from the animated movie “Up”
  • Westlake Center
  • Seattle Great Wheel
  • Olympic Structure Park
  • Pioneer Square

Starting Point

Seattle Center Location
Seattle Center Location

There are tours starting from two locations.

  1. Seattle Center (near the Space Needle) – We boarded from here
  2. Westlake Center

Any ride starting from any of the two points follows the same exact route. There are no stops, and passengers remain aboard the duck at all time.

Tips

  • This ride is no Hop-On Hop-Off tour, neither do they give you a detailed tour. It just gives you glimpses into the major attractions of Seattle and a feel of the city, where water is undoubtedly a big part of the landscape. So, take this ride if you want to experience a unique and novel way of viewing the city or if you have very less time and just want to catch the highlights.
  • An infant below 5 years of age gets a seat at just $5!
  • Do not worry about entering the water in this vehicle. It is equipped with adult and kid life jackets. Also, it can catch maximum speed of 4.5 knots in water, which believe me isn’t fast at all. It is more of a leisurely stroll.

The White Duck
The White Duck



Read More

Celebrating Lohri (Indian Bonfire festival) in the US

When we were in India, Makar Sankranti was just another festival at home. The thing that I remember most is eating the special Bong sweet that mom used to make for the occasion: Pathishapta (sweet crepes with cocomut filling and topped with condensed milk) and Pitha (fried sweet potato patties dipped in sweet syrup). At Siddhartha’s place, as in most Indian homes, it includes eating sweets made of Til (Sesame seeds) and Jaggery.

When we were moving to Bellevue, Washington, we were aware of the presence of a vibrant Indian community here, and yet did not expect too much. We have lived in other countries (across Europe, Asia and Australia) as well and have been part of a few Indian festival celebrations; found them pretty good. Yet, this celebration of Lohri in Bellevue was something else.

Lohri gathering
Lohri gathering

First of all, the sheer volume in which people participated with their entire families was huge. The priests made sure to include everyone in the aarti (prayers) and help explain the importance of the occasion. This has never happened in India for me! There was also the traditional Lohri bonfire right outside the temple, which was pretty neat for a chilly evening. As per tradition, people made rounds around the fire throwing popcorn and peanuts into the fire.

Lohri bonfire
Lohri bonfire
Bonfire offering
Bonfire offering

There were Temple volunteers managing the crowd and helping in distributing the meals. The dinner consisted of traditional Punjabi food: Makke ki roti, sarson da saag, rice and Punjabi Kadhi. The makke ki roti was prepared by several lady volunteers at their homes and the rest of the dishes were prepared by the organizers at the temple kitchen.

Temple volunteers
Temple volunteers

The only disappointment: I could not get my hands on the special dinner menu due to the huge gathering and my prior commitments to leave early 🙁

About Lohri

Lohri is a popular North Indian (Punjabi) festival which marks the winter solstice. Traditionally, it was celebrated as a harvest festival for Rabi crops. Rest of India mostly celebrates this day as Makar Sankranti, while parts of South India celebrate it as Pongal. The celebration of Lohri with a bonfire sets it apart from the other versions of the festival in India.

About Bellevue Hindu Temple

This is a temple in Bellevue. The Temple is a non-profit organization. Their Facebook page shows they celebrate almost all Indian Hindu festivals. This gives expat Indians keep in touch with their culture and people like me explore different Indian festivals in one place.

Bellevue Hindu Temple
Bellevue Hindu Temple

Disclaimer: This is a completely personal view and does not represent any organization or individual.



Read More