Tag Archives: Asia

I have returned

After 25+ days in China without blogging, alas, I am here =) Did you guys miss me? My apologies for not replying to any post and etc, but I’ve been so very limited on time! I just got back to the US like 5 hours ago and am currently in the process of washing clothes, putting everything away, and sorting photos =)

I will go into detail later, but as for now, here are some of the latest photos that I have not posted. As most of you may very well know, my blog was not accessible in China, so I resorted to just posting on Flickr, so hopefully some people have kept up and read my small commentary on there yea?

Overall, my trip was pretty awesome. I love Guilin, from the people, to the fresh air, to the scenery. I love it all. These photos below are from Guilin and Beijing =) It might be another few days or longer before I can sort everything thing out since I have so much catching up to do now that I am back, PLUS, I start school next Wednesday…argh >____<

7:00am in Guilin. View from my dorm.

Longji Terraces in Guilin

Working the Terraces

Some of the coolest cats ever

A fun day: Going to the terraces, Moon Festival, International student performance, getting our certificates from Guangxi Normal University, and my birthday =)

Beijing

Forbidden City yo

Bird’s Nest

Ok, that is all for now…I miss blogging haha buttt…I think I miss China more =)

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Vietnam Part 3 of 5: Ky Quang Temple

The first site we went to when we started our volunteer time was Ky Quang. Something I regret from our trip was that we only went to Ky Quang once because of how little time we had.

Pictures in all these sites were almost impossible to take since the children would go crazy over our cameras. It was ESPECIALLY hard at this temple and the Minh Tam Orphanage.

Ky Quang Temple

A VERY small part of the temple

This was where all the kids and such played and ate at. Behind me is where we played with the children.

On the left of this photo is actually the view of the photo above. This girl was really sweet and the one that sang while clapping to the beat to us (read below to hear more).

As this handsome little boy sat there, he held my hand. I believe he has a spine problem because when I picked him up, his body would not move a certain way.

Taken during feeding time. The kids are all suppose to eat on their own and put away their own dishes.

Ky Quang Temple is a place where people with special needs went to. It ranged from children (and I believe some adults) who were blind to weak-sighted, mentally-handicapped to physically-handicapped, and so on and so forth. When you first enter the Temple, you will immediately be taken back by the architecture. At first, you might think it has a theme park-ish kind of look, but at the same time it’s beautiful and also known to be the most beautiful temples in the area.

It took 1-2 buses for us to get to Ky Quang from the Peace House. While we were at the temple, we played with and tended to the children. When we arrived, the kids were all playing with jigsaw puzzles and working really hard at them. Each one had a heart of gold and big-cute smiles that could warm any cold day. They LOVED taking our electronics, such as our cameras and running around to take photos of people. At first you might think that it’s pretty risky to let these kids run around with our electronics, but no no no, they surely are smarter than you think! Whenever you told them something they generally would listen, however they REALLY refused to return our electronics while we were there. When it was time to leave though, the kids all immediately gave back our stuff and ran to us giving us hugs and waving good-bye with their jolly faces. Also, on the way out, one of the girls sang us a song =D

Although we did not experience it, there are educational opportunities for a lot of the people that go there; they even have braille. Our days were too short to truly experience everything or teach them, but I’m glad we went at least once. I also give props to the workers at the temple since it takes a lot of patience to be with them; another thing I noticed is that all the workers were women! is that strange? perhaps not. I also think that the place is understaffed since it appeared that some kids were getting neglected when it was feeding time. Although the place is wonderful, there is still work to be done! Hopefully conditions will only get better.

For more photos from the Ky Quang Temple and the kids, please click >> HERE<<

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Vietnam Part 2 of 5: Peace House

Here is part 2 of my Summer in Vietnam series! I will apologize ahead of time for this part of the series.. It’s a bit scrambled and super long because it’s impossible to sum up >___<

Peace House in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh

The entrance is behind the curtain and this is our living room.

Stairway

View from the roof

To the left of the tracks, we would walk on the other side of the fence and turn left into the alley to find our house.

Every morning until 9am, if I peaked my head outside our front door, this lady and the man in the white hat had their little shop open and sold Pho, which a lot of the volunteers would get in the morning for only 10,000 dong (16,800 = $1 USD).

To start off, Janeemebe found the program that we went on for us =D We went through this online website called International Volunteers Headquaters (IVHQ), where we signed up, chose a country, paid a fee, and chose what kind of living situation we wanted to be in; the two choices were either home stay or dorms, and we chose the dorms. (Btw, if you are curious about this IVHQ thing and are considering it, please let me know if you have questions!). After we do all that IVHQ finds us a program in that country, in our case, it was Vietnam; the program was called Volunteers for Peace Vietnam (VPV). From there VPV does the rest of the work and volunteer coordination.

For those that don’t understand what the Peace House was, here goes! The Peace House was the living space for all the international volunteers to stay at. Instead of a dorm though, it was more of a house with 3 floors, and 2 bedrooms on each floor that would accommodate 4 people per room (remember, houses in Vietnam/Asia are more about building upward than horizontally). Jane, Em, and I stayed in 1 room together, sharing it with another volunteer. Not only were the accommodations more that we hoped for, we had a cook come 6 days a week and cook delicious food for us twice a day; she was suppper nice too =D

The Peace House is an amazing place to meet incredible people. Why? because you know those people WANT to be there, paid to be there, and are doing it for a good cause; it’s not like school and such where you run into punks that are full of themselves or are there only because they are forced to. The Peace House was a place where people around the world united to work to better society. People would be rotating in and out of the house often because volunteer increments ranged from 2 weeks to months. What was beautiful was that it was easy to talk to everyone even though everyone was new :]

After we ended our days of volunteering and would return to the Peace House around 4-5pm for dinner, everyone would plan activities together like going to karaoke, bowling, shopping, go to beaches, or even weekend trips with tours and exploring Vietnam. For the most part, everyone was around our ages, which made it even easier to get along. There were people from Australia, England, Ireland, France, Singapore, Canada, and a lot from the USA. Not only were there international volunteers, but also local Vietnamese volunteers and the staff that made the Peace House even more amazing. How often do you get an opportunity to meet people from around the world and do something like this??

Bowling! Bowling alleys in Vietnam are better than the States.

Group of newbies! This was taken at District 1 (which is the foreigner and rich district) during our city tour.

1 of the Karaoke nights

This was taken as a last group photo as Em, Jane and I left the Peace House 😦

Everyone in the Peace House was kind, funny, and thoughtful. The time we spent there was way too short and went by incredibly fast because there was also something to do and someone to talk to everyday (especially since the 3 of us had each other). Departing the Peace House was pretty rough since that meant that our volunteer time and days at the Peace House was over ;__; I will try my hardest to stay in touch with people.

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Filed under Asian, Food, Life, Photography, Travel, volunteer

Vietnam Part 1 of 5: Vietnam

My trip to Vietnam was absolutely amazing. Words cannot describe what a great experience it was. Even before the trip ended, people were already messaging me and saying “I can’t wait to hear your stories” and the thoughts that ran through my mind were… “It’ll be impossible to tell you any stories.” I didn’t climb mountains or tame lions, instead, I got to spend my time in Vietnam enjoying life to the fullest. Stories and tales will never be able to express how I feel. Most people get home sick when they go to other countries, but not me (us), we dreaded coming home and wanted to stay longer.

We were constantly on the go! Even though we spent almost an entire month in Vietnam/Thailand, there wasn’t a day of rest or enough days on our trip. The first 2 days we spent at my dad’s place, 12-13 days at the Peace House (the dorm we stayed at for volunteer work), 1.5 days back at my dads, 5 days in Thailand for a tour (to Bangkok and Pattaya), 2 days back at my dads, 1 day at Mui Ne (which required a 4hr 30min drive), and then 2 or so days back at my dads again before we left.

Also, although I know he doesn’t read this, I want to thank my dad for a wonderful time. He paid for everything, made sure we had fun, and even in the pouring rain, he took an hour and a half commute on his motorbike to come eat with the 3 of us at least twice. It’ll be impossible to summarize my many thanks but as I always say– I am one of the most fortunate and luckiest people in the world.

Yep, this is part 1 of 5 blogs I will do about my trip. Todays blog will be about Vietnam, Part 2 is the Peace House, Part 3 will be about Ky Quang Temple, Part 4 will be about Minh Tam Orphanage, and last but definitely not least, Chua La (aka Leaf Temple). Try not to get bored ok??

Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Mui Ne

Mui Ne

Houses (view from 4th floor). Houses in Vietnam (and Asia) are generally more efficient with space; they’re tall and narrow, and yet there is TONS of room inside.

Through the alley

Post Office

Vietnam is a beautiful country full of life and hard working people. Although it is much different than home, every time I’ve ever gone there, I’ve adjusted just fine. Vietnam is a second-world country and you know it the minute you step into it. However, please keep in mind that the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975, virtually destroyed the Vietnamese economy, and unlike countries like Japan who had aid and support after the devastation of the war, Vietnam was not occupied or being assisted when it came to rebuilding the country. In addition to this, Vietnam was in a constant resistance against the French and even the Chinese for countless of years before the war, hindering it from industrializing early on. Only in 1986 did the market economy open up to the rest of the world, allowing things such as private ownership and foreign investment. Since then, Vietnam has been the world’s second-fastest growing economy with a GDP growth rate of about 7-8% since 1990. The downside of Vietnam though? The rich are rich, and the poor are poor. The gap of rich and poor can be absolutely absurd. People on average only make $600-800 USD a year, but when you meet the rich in that country, they can even make rich Americans weep.

I love Vietnam and my most recent time I’ve spent there. The restaurants outside that are small and look crappy are the best ones to eat at. Not only are the prices ridiculously cheap but it’s taste o-so-good =D The people love to stare at us because we’re foreigners and speak English to each other. Vietnam is all about survival of the fittest; if you don’t quickly move to the front, someone else will! I definitely wasn’t a fan at being stared at or shoved aside, but overall I had a great time in Vietnam. Some parts are more developed than others, but don’t let those Lonely Planet or other tourist books fool you, Vietnam isn’t ALL pretty and full of beaches and rice land like they show in every photos. It’s a beautiful country but it can also be very polluted and crowded. And although the traffic looks nuts, it’s actually really easy to cross the streets after you’ve gotten the hang of it 😉 Also, if you learn to use the bus system, it’s super efficient, you’ll save a lot of money and it’s really fun! =D

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Current Events: Sichuan Earthquake

UPDATE: May 16, 2008

Myanmar: Myanmar cyclone death toll nearly 78,000

  • “The cyclone’s official death toll has nearly doubled to almost 78,000 and another 56,000 people remain missing two weeks after the devastating storm, state television reported Friday.”
  • The Red Cross fears the toll may be as high as 128,000; the U.N. estimates more than 100,000 died. The U.N. estimates some 1.5 million to 2.5 million survivors are in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical care. Aid groups have reached only 270,000 so far.

Sichuan, China: Survivors pulled from rubble of China quake(There are also links to videos of the damaged caused if you follow the link)

  • “Officials have said the quake’s final toll could reach 50,000.”
  • “The official death toll had risen to about 22,069 on Friday, and another 14,000 still were buried in Sichuan.”
  • “The U.S. Geological Survey said the latest tremor measured magnitude 5.5, one of the strongest among dozens that have shaken the area.” ( Can you believe that even though it’s been a few days now, aftershocks are still going on and are THIS strong?!)

Bear in mind that these are all “official” numbers and that unofficial numbers tend to be higher.

===============================================

Have you guys heard about the earthquake that occurred in the Sichuan Province?? I’d be very surprised if not! It was a 7.8 magnitude earthquake and the death toll is exceeding 12,000. Aftershocks from the quake reached Taiwan, India, Vietnam, and so on and so forth. Ahh…Is this world coming to an end? Just last week there was that Myanmar Cyclone, where death tolls reached about 40,000 in addition to the thousands missing. Furthermore, a Red Cross ship with aid going toward Myanmar ending up sinking because it hit a submerged tree trunk -___-

I’ve said this to several people, but I’ll say it again…either global warming is really taking its toll on us and the world is coming to an end, or I’m just old enough to understand what’s going on in the world nowadays.

Although it’s several months away, this summer, as many of you know, I will be going to study for about a month in Chengdu, China. With the current natural disasters going on, people are getting really concerned! Even me! Especially since the school I will be attending is Sichuan University in Chengdu. A student from the university actually filmed the earthquake while it was going on too! Check out the article and video by clicking >Here<.

Our advisor emailed us saying:

“I contact the Sichuan faculty last night. Chengdu is spared from the horrible earthquake, even though it is just 60 miles from the epicenter. I also contacted the IPE office, and they told me that our seminar will continue as planned.”

But yes…I can’t imagine being in their position. It’s heart breaking hearing about these events. Let’s hope for the best to the people in China and Myanmar.

(I think I write too much….time to focus on cutting down again..)

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Life is an Adventure

My college years have been an adventure and I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter people from all over the world to keep my life even more spectacular than it already is.

Money is earned to be spent right? Well, that seems to be the case especially for me in 2007-2008. So here’s the plan:

I have amazing friends! Some of which choose to be my travel buddies =D Although everything is still in the making, Janeemebe, Em and I will be volunteering in:I believe Hanoi, Saigon Vietnam for 10 or so days to do volunteer work, then taking a 5 day tour through Thailand, and finally spending a week or so back in Saigon, just moving at our own pace.

Although I’ve been to on the Thailand tour, I will be accomplishing a goal of mind, which I mentioned before on an earlier post (link >here<), and that is to return to old vacation spots and take actual photos since I have a real camera now, and not a 1.3mp video camera.

=) Thank you everyone for…everything! Whether it’s from eating out, reading my blogs, traveling, casual hang outs, playing video games, or what not,my life has been a great adventure.

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Updating-ish on the Japan trip

[UPDATED: scroll down to the youtube music video added]

I’m contemplating on whether or not to do a full update on my trip to Japan, mostly because there is too much to cover and I hate leaving things out. Overall the trip was amazing and Emili is a great travel buddy, which I already realized when we did our small trip to Pullman together. Is she sick of me yet? who knows lol, I harassed the hell out of that girl though.

If you check out my Flickr, you’ll see that I’ve updated the photos! So far its from days 1-8, and I’ll add the rest of the days , food pics, plus photos of Em and I ASAP. Most of the photos I posted aren’t my favorites, but I wanted to share with everyone all the wonderful places I went to and saw. =)

Here are some of the photos!

Shinjuku

This is a photo inside of a vintage book store in Shibuya called “Flying Books” owned by Em’s cousin Kazuhiro. Even with his busy life he had time to take us out and show us around town. This man is absolutely amazing and I have no idea how to return the favor to him for all of his kindness. Even though it is a vintage book store, it is one of the hippest book stores I’ve ever seen. He holds events from poetry readings, live performances to even parties. If you ever visit Shibuya, this place is a must!

Yamanote Line: I love this mode of transportation

Kamogawa Grand Hotel

The first stages of a rice field lol

Kamogawa: sunset

Street performance: I saw these guys playing and really liked their music/performance. Thanks to didi, who read the katakana, I now know their band name: Kensoushi =) Check them out!! There music is great and they’re also realllly nice and down to earth! I’m going to try to buy their CD…once I can get some of the site translated and figure out how to buy it lol >_<
[UPDATE!]
Here is the video I recorded:
The quality on youtube isn’t as great as it can be, but I hope you enjoy! it! See if you can spot Emili in the crowd!

Overall the trip was better than I could have ever imagined. I honestly think I am one of the most fortunate souls in this entire world. Em-me-lie, if you read this, thank you thank you thank domou arigatou gozaimasu! I have no idea how to repay you or say enough thanks to you or your family, but in the mean time, while I scheme up a plan on how to give thanks, please know that I am truly grateful.

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