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.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thailand: Floods in Asia

Hi All, so this crazy post is in Thailand! Yes, I cannot read a lick of the links so I am just pressing every button in hopes that it allows me to place a blog, so bear with me. I also am under a time crunch as I am going to go help pack sandbags and volunteer for flood efforts today, so I am writing as FAST as I can :) and not with proper grammar.

Thailand and Cambodia are flooding! The worst floods in 50 years! The government is mandating sand bags be placed in every tourist location so that we are "safe" from walking in knee deep water. Shops are actually building solid cement walls in preparation for the water as it creeps closer to them.   Every thing is actually flooding as we went to ride on the boat canals yesterday and then when we got back the water had come up to the sidewalk by a whole foot and a half!!!  I worry more about Cambodia as other tourists have told tales of Ankor Wat in waist deep water! AND the Capital City has asked for international aid (as seen on the BBC). It is such a poor country, unlike Thailand, so those people and the tourist economy will take years to recover from this-as it is the worst rainy season in 50 years. The place that I wanted to go chill out in for a few days so I could get out of Bangkok, is under 3-4 meters of water. nuts. buses and trains are not running...

HA- Since I cannot go anywhere else, as I leave for Burma on Sunday, but I am enjoying my time here. I have met a few other Americans and spent time walking around Bangkok and visiting temples. It is really beautiful, and Buddhism is based around making everything beautiful. The City has canals and waterways weaving throughout it, so I also spent a lot of time traveling by boat to these places, but after you see three temples they all start to look very similar.

Had the coolest adventures yesterday... went to the Spa De Fish! You stick your feet into a fish tank and these tiny little silver fish eat the dead skin, grime and fungus off of your feet! It was awesome, and my feet never felt more baby soft. BUT during the time the fish were feeding I could not stop laughing as it felt like electrodes were pluggin my feet and tickling it! it was amazing, and so weird all at the same time.

The monks walk around barefoot, and it just about makes me want to gag how dirty the streets are.

My love to you all.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Reflections of mountains...... Oct. 9th

My last Mountain Bike ride of the season at Deer Valley
Hi All! Its amazing to think about the new adventures ahead... This is my first blog post, so it is a test run for loading images but also explains my emotions that occur before a large trip.

One of my friends recently asked, "why are you headed to Burma (Myanmar)?" and my response was because I am intrigued!  But really, why do we love to travel to places unknown? AND I am traveling for TWO WHOLE MONTHS!

Why not to Travel?---What is it about leaving our warm and safe home, easy daily routine, along with owning a personal car, that makes traveling so scary--because it is new and unknown? The exposure to diseases & germs, cuisine unknown, and scarey strangers contributes to the fear.

Why should we travel?---For me, it is the ADVENTURE behind the travel-- Seeing and meeting kindred souls, finding amazing people and friends along the road, feeling alive, and realizing that being a citizen of the U.S. is such a blessing. Why am I headed to Asia? I find development and infrastructure (my two fav words these days) fascinating in these South East Asian countries-- as things rapidly change.

My tentative route through Myanmar (Burma)

My Phantom Ranch Grand Canyon Junior Ranger Patch! Backpack is NOW ready for a big adventure!
As I pack my bags with Malaria pills, contact solution, water-treatment... I manage to squeeze in one tee-shirt and one-pair of those dorky zip off pants!  Frumpy-poor-gorilla foreigner is the look that I am going for :)