Monday, December 12, 2011

Vietnam with Huong

My recent adventures were with my friend Huong, my HWS undergraduate college housemate! What an amazing way to travel with a native Vietnamese and someone who knows me so well! She treated me to fabulous Vietnamese cuisine and interpreting customs beyond better than any tour guide! In exchange, I had to teach one of her English courses at the University and play with her nieces-- pretty rough huh? Looking back on my time spent with her, our friendship is something that I will cherish and hold onto.  Despite already getting a Fulbright-- hopefully, she comes back to the USA for her PHD!  

Reflections of the Grand Palace
Another meal of rice done three ways...

I ran art classes with her 4 nieces, they did not speak English and I could only grunt a few words in Vietnamese!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Good Morning Vietnam!!

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope that everyone had an amazing and wonderful Turkey Day!!

Sorry if anyone has been looking at my un-updated blog, I have two good excuses: 1. Vietnam censors websites terribly 2. My sisters have been here in Vietnam with me for the past week, and the trip has been incredible and packed full of adventure! 

We went to Sapa, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Hanoi and so much in between! The adventures and laughter has been most enjoyable.  I love love my sisters! I know that I am totally spoiled traveling with my sisters! AND having so much fun!!! we just laugh and laugh and make fun of each other! 

The rural mountains of Sapa were full of surprises for us--from staring at poverty, to the burn of rice whiskey, eating black chicken feet at the local market, buying way too many incredible handicrafts that our bags are stuffed, to hiking in bamboo hut villages, and motorbiking up mountains!!!!  ***FYI Carolyn did not have rice whiskey or black chicken feet

We ate Indian food for Thanksgiving and continued with the Reynolds tradition of talking about what we were thankful for!  so fun!  I know that I am sooooooooo incredibly thankful for my sisters, my parents, and the lessons that they have taught me over the years, and for how blessed we are in our lives to be educated, loved, and born into such wealth. In addition, to take a trip like this with my sisters AND it has been an amazing trip watching them grow and learn more about traveling. YAYA!

Yesterday we explored parts of the DMZ/Vietnam war-- old war caves, called Marble Mountain.  So hard to imagine that we were bombing the shit out of this wonderful country not too long ago, when my father/mother (and most of the USA) was protesting the war and hundreds of people and children were dying everyday.... I wonder if we will say the same about Afganistan in 20 years..... I am so thankful for my life :)

Yaya.  life is good, I am still loving the traveling but after 50days I am starting to slightly miss the comforts of having internet, my car, and no humidity----BUT I am not sure I want to or I am ready for the winter chaos :)
OR that I might have to start looking for a real job (yup-never thought that would happen).

The adventure is packed full--with so much to do everyday until I leave!!!! I will travel in Da Nang with my HWS Vietnamese college friend Huong and Carolyn for a day or two--then make our way back to Hanoi where I will stay with Houng until the long adventure back to the USA. 

* Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I am not sure what it is--the computer's here burnt my USB device for reading pictures.... crazy right? If I get a chance I will upload-I will--if not--wait till I get back to the USA and I will upload them.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Paddleboard surfing

Finally I learned how to stand up and paddle on the board! Way more difficult than it try to ride a wave!
The fisherman are doing the Burmese version also... :)

I love the beach and this new crazy sport called "paddle board surfing! It is so fun!  A great combo of kyaking and surfing! The board is more stable since it is wider, but much harder to turn as it is bigger than the average surf board.

I managed to actually catch and ride a couple of waves on my second day. However, I also managed to fall on a seaweed farmer's stake and the reef break-- so both my back and butt are bruised and tore up! Not much difference from my average mountain biking season.  I am not sure if I would enjoy the adventure of the sport as much if my knees were not full of cuts and scars :)

Relaxing in the Monkey temple

Monkeys!!!! Yes, monkeys.... What is it about the creatures that we find so intriguing? Is it the fact that they are our close cousins with similar characteristics or the fact that we are just so happy that we are not living our life like them? Whatever it may be, I watched these monkey's socialize, play and fight at the famous "monkey temple of Ubud" for at least an hour! This temple, as in many of the Hindu temples in Bali follow significant geographic locations, whether it is animals (bats, rats, monkeys) or the way the sun shines.

You have to wear these goofy skirts to enter into the hindu temple's here

Sunday, November 6, 2011

More Flight of the Gibbons

leeches... ugh instead of scopio?

what is worse?

blood sucking worms called leeches? or the scorpions of the Costa Rica Jungle?

The best squat toilet in all of Asia, since it has the best view!

Flight of the Gibbons

So the adventure continues..... but this time on a zip line. I choose to take a jungle adventure with the gibbon experience:

This organization takes tourists deep into the jungle for a Swiss Family Robinson tree house fantasy trip! BUT the nice thing is while this thing was expensive, the majority of the proceeds go to preserving the rainforest.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Next Generation

The wonderful children of Myanmar!!! It was so much fun, laughing and playing with the many children. I probably have over 400 pictures of the children of Myanmar, as playing with the camera and showing them their face was the best way to break the ice with these kids! so fun.

Teak Graveyard

This "pile" of logs went on for over two miles! and the logs were owned by the government!!!
Shipping the logs down the river

Only the "bad" teak that is unwanted stays in Myanmar, the rest the government sells to China and Singapore. The average rate for an 100 year old log is $5,000 USD and since they are running out of trees they now cut down the 50 year old log and sell them for $3,000 USD.

Pagoda Pagoda Pagoda

Often the Golden Stupa's were the town's centerpiece! For me, it was the easiest way to navigate the city....
BIG gold Buddha on top of a mountain in Mandalay Myanmar!
Me resting in the shade of a Golden Buddha

Why did the elephant cross the road?

Just a normal day in Laos? I am not sure... ha, but it def caused me to stop pedaling my pink bike today and snap a few pictures! One of the main attractions is for tourists to take a "trekking tour" on-board a large elephant. My question is if it is really trekking if you are not actually walking?  :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pounds of Poverty

If I ever get numb to the loads of poverty in these developing counties,  may God/Buddha -whoever  help me.The "average" wage in Myanmar (Burma) is 1$ to $3 per day!!! But I encountered so  many more people who were luckly to make $0.50 a day!!! Imagine that, with all the riches that we have in our daily life,  in the words of my father "WE ARE SO BLESSED!"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Myanmar, Oct 17 Day 2: Rickshaw Ride

29er size bicycle wheels are what powered me around through the slums of Yangon today. Not that I doubted this was a poor area, but what we saw really opened my eyes to the amount of poverty in this area. There is very little that the Burmese people can do for money, despite all of the natural resources in the area. The cyclone came 3 years ago and even further decimated any remaining wealth that these people had. So the poorest people (about 10 million) live in the swamp across the river in bamboo huts. Today we took a ferry across the river, and bargained our rate for a Rickshaw bike ride, although I felt more like a miniature Robin... with my ruthless driver.

Myanmar, Oct 17 Day 2: Local Market

WOW!!!!  the market is everything that I expected and smells that I can never get accustomed to. they sell everything at the local markets here since this is a major shipping area. BUT always after a trip to the market, awakens me to not wanting to eat meat again on the trip. As these pictures were taken at 11:00 in about 100 degree weather!

Myanmar, Oct 17 Day 2: Golden Temple

The most famous temple in all of Myanmar is located in Yangon.  Monks and people must make the journey at least once in their life to this large golden temple!!!  I cannot for the life of me give you the name though--shows how much I paid attention on the tour. I really was just fascinated by the people, monks, and nuns that were visiting this area. But the Stupa was over 93 meters tall and absolutely breathtaking (roughly 300 feet).

Myanmar, Oct 16 Day 1: ROCKSTAR/Black Market

If anyone ever wants to understand what it is a movie start experiences, travel to an Asian country---they love the foreigner with the unusual blond hair and blue eyes!!!! I had forgotten about this from my last visits, but quickly resorted back to my old ways of playing with those who like to stare at me. I just stare back and smile or wave :) It is a great way to break the ice and look like the goofy gorilla foreigner that I am. When I arrived at the hotel in Yangon, I asked the bellman to show me around the hotel compound (as it is quite large and one of the nicer hotels that I have stayed at) he told me that there were "famous Burmese" at the hotel. I nodded, and he showed me their wedding.... in turn the main organizer for the wedding--INVITED me to their wedding!!!! it was incredible!!! I have many pictures of this ceremony but this one below sticks out most in my mind of a good representation.(yes, most of the men here wear the traditional dress.... aka a long cloth skirt!!!)

The biggest most unbelievable thing to me here is the currency exchange problem. The government mandates that all things through them are paid in US dollars, however the local currency is Kyat. It is illegal for foriengers to get kyat, in fact there are really no banks here, so you have to walk around the street looking for a money changer. I made friends with the bellboys at the hotel (after the wedding experience) and they walked me to the "best" money changer.

Bellman showing me a picture of the famous Ayan San peacemaker
My new friends

Thailand, Bangkok: Helping with flood relief

over 500 bags containing relief items were put together and bottle water was rounded up
cutting up medicine to disperse into bags

diarrhea and iodine packages
I was able to help with the flood relief efforts! It was awesome! A friend of Edd's, named Adrian lives in Thailand. Adrian's workplace had organized through facebook a rally of donations and funds for the flood victims. The Thai people at this organization expressed dissatisfaction with the Thai governments efforts for the people so they decided to step in and help. They had gone to the flooded providence the previous week and saw the areas under 4 meters of water! From their experiences they decided to step in and raise money to buy the necessary relief items.  Each bag contained water, dried squid/dried fish, tomato fish soup cans, candles, lighter, toilet paper, medicines, bug coils, soap, pedealyte type mix, and a couple other items that I cannot remember--but all of the items was well thought out.

It was hilarious/ironic to me that one of my jobs for the day was to cut up portions of the anti-bacterial diarrhea medicine and place them into bags!!! as I am always the first one to turn to the fun little pills!

I left for Burma/Myanmar the following day, but the group was borrowing trucks to bring up the bags that day.