Wednesday, August 08, 2007

It is pretty stranger to look back at this blog post-travel. Most people now know that I have been back in the US for 7 weeks. My first two weeks back in the states it was surreal experience. i suffered from alot of culture readjustment and post-travel depression. I was happy to be back, but yet missed the adventure of not knowing where I going or how I was going to get there; it felt well.....boring. Through the weirdness of all of it, I blessed to live and hangout with my mother and little sis and two of my stepsisters who allowed me to lay around the house and be at times little grumpy. I had such a great time hanging and reconnecting with my family in Oregon. Now I am back in Colorado total immersed in American culure. i have cellphone and bought a car and just accepted a job for next two months as a fly fishing guide at a Guest ranch ( i know i still have not grown up; hehehehehe). For those you who do not know why i came back earily; i came back to go to one my best buddies weddings. Now having the hindsight of the wedding behind me I so glad that I did not miss it. I have never felt so blessed by another persons wedding as I did at Tony and Jess Caldwell's. It something special to be part of watching a good friend move on to another chapter in his life.

So you might be wondering why I did not write in Africa. The shear truth of it was I did not know what to say. Africa and especially uganda is one of the most beutiful places I have seen so far with some of the nices and amazing people I have ever met. Yet, has the worst corruption and the most frustrating broken system that I have ever seen. I never felt so cheated, lied to and utterly frustrated as there. Nothing is simple in Uganda and most times the most fundemental things do not work. However, through all that the organization that i worked with "Come Let's Dance" is making amazing advances and impact in empowering Ugandans. The hard fact is in uganda sometimes no matter how great your intentions are the good things you do have bad consequences. A great example are orpahange. They are totally need for orpanages with all the AIDS orphanes and abandend kids, yet they create more orphanes by being there. Poor people see orphanges as the only hope for their kids to go to school, to eat hopefully at least once a day, to get most basic of medical care and if they are really luck adopted and taken to America were they have chance to "make it". Thus, weekly we would have kids abanded at the orphange or we learn where another kids parents are living, but unwilling or unable to take their kids back. The systems at all levels creates a circlur problem. Honestly because of how hard it was to process what i was witnessing I chose not to say anything at all. I apologize to all of you who I left in lurch.
Well... it is time to wrap this thing up. What did I learn from all of this? First off, the hardest part of traveling is getting there. To face the fear of the unkown and to leave what you come to believe is comfortible. Secondly, I gained a great apprietation of how diverse this world is it the the differences of people and culture that makes traveling so much fun. I also feel that i learned what a blessing it is to have friends and family that love and care for you. So many times people would e-mail or make comment on this blog that encouraged and regenerated me to keep on going. Thanks Guys. Finally, i feel so greatful to have a strong faith, which grounded me when things seem out of control or I needed to make a tough decison. It was my faith that allowed me step out there and also to be content at what did and saw in my times that I traveled.

So what is next for me? God only knows. But, I do want to do backpacking trip across Mongul/Nepal and Seberia. Does anybody want to go?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

How do i catch all of you up on the last month! So much has happened. Sorry that I slacked off so badly, but I got busier and busier and now I am way behind, but I will try give you guys an overview.
First, I left Cambodia to go back to T-land for few weeks. i stayed with a local Thai family I met in Pai, thailand on New Years eve. It great to see first hand their lives and the business they run of selling Gems on e-bay. that's right I have friends in the gem business! I stayed for a week and got way spoiled by them the whole time; talk about hospitality! Also, got to go to Gem market and see where it all goes down. Then it off to Ko chang a island off coast of T-land. i lived their for week in grass hut and road a motocycle all over the island, which great because it mostly a national park and beutiful. Then I went to Ko Samet another national park island and just hung out and relaxed. Then I headed to see my buddy grant knisely for 5 days in Singapore 'the America of Asia'. It so great to hang out with an old buddy and catch up and see the ministry that he been doing for the last 3 years.
Now I am in Africa! I flew into Kenya and was overwhelmed at how tall and big everyone was! I guess I got use to always being the biggest person around. I got to hang out in Kenya for 4 days and went to beach, but rained the whole time i was there, but still beutiful. Finally, I crossed the boarder to Uganda and started to see the country that be my home for next three months. My first night in Kampalaa the house I was staying at was robbed. Luckly all our personal belonging were in our rooms and they just took our breakfast/all our food and all our lanters and anything else they thought they could make little dinero on. Next day I got to meet all the orphanes I get to hang out with and man oh man are they cute.
Man I wish I had more time on this internet, but that all time i got. I will try to drop a line in a bit
I am in Africa!!! This Nairobi as I like say (Ni-rob-ya), Kenya

Thailands New Years! Water and alot of Flour. Too much fun

The family I stayed with in Thailand for week. What a great time!

Ko Chang, Thailand

Ko Chang, East side island (sunset)

Kenya, Great Rift Valley

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hey there, I wanted to catch you guys up to where I am at in my trip. Currently I am staying with some thai friends in Chantiburi, Thailand enjoying their hospitality and see how thai's actually live. After here I head to islands for some scuba diving lessons. Then if I have time to Krabi area to soak in my skin cancer. After that I hope to fly to see Grant Knisely (a good college buddy) in Singapore. Finally off to last stage of my trip in Africa (April 16). Head back to Colorado for my buddy Tony C. wedding the 1st of August and after that I will reevaluate where I want to go for last part of my little adventure.
Figure I enlighten you with few stories from Cambodia:

I decided to travel the true local way in Cambodia. First I took the taxi from Kampot (beach) to Phen Phem. The taxi is Toyota Camry which been jacked up with extra strong springs and shocks. A full taxi is 8 people!!! including the driver. 4 in the front 4 in the back. The driver literally sit on one of his customers. After that tight experience two weeks later I took a truck taxi from Battangbang to Pailin (old Pol Pot strong hold). In one Toyota Tacoma we fitted 28 people on the outside of the truck and 8 inside the truck. People were hang off every where as we did a 4 hour journey over some worst roads I seen. To top it off it poured for last 1/2 hour and we all had to hold onto this old tarp as thunderstorm raged. I never been so dusty and cramped at one time. The local could not get over it that westerner was riding with them. Every where we went people would scream 'Hello' at me (the only English everyone seems to know). It fun trip and in Pailin I one only tourist far as I saw. People were pretty surprised to see me.

The fun of being a foreigner:
Where ever you go at least in SE ASia as a foreigner there is an unofficial tax. Everywhere you go people charge you more. Sometimes it just little and others if they think they can get away with it, it 5x more expensive. It is one thing to put up with this for a week or two and then go home, but when it becomes a daily part life it gets pretty frustrating and tiring (constantly try make sure you not being taken takes resource and energy). I guess this first time I have ever been discriminated. What also adds complexity is you might be getting ripped off, but if make too big of deal about it you can cause them feel like they are losing face. If that happens WAtch OUT! I will be happy one day when get back to states and have only one price, even though that might be a rip off.
A fun note: I shaved off my sideburns. I started to think about it and realize I had them for over a decade; so I went for a change.

Sorry That I can not rotate this for you. I just throw this in so you can see the maze like qualities these temple sights have.

The forest in some temples literally is taking over. This is temple alot of tomb raider was shot.

Old man praying at one many Buddha statues in one court yards in Ankow wat

Ankor wat through main entrance. Pretty amazing temple. (top is hot air bloon over the outer wall)

There are few thousand of these smiling buddha faces through out the temples sights. There is one whole temple dedicated to smile faces and four entry ways. Know one really know why the builder choose to use this image.

Phen Pen, Cambodia Park in downtown. This place was covered with semi-wild monkeys, but none would wonder into the hot sun for this pix.

Kratie, cambodia

Ankwat, cambodia (this is mother of temples sight)

Kratie, Cambodia (NE)

Kampot, CAmbodia
So what the piles of white stuff? Salt. There must been 12km of salt farms right up to ocean.

Kep, Cambodia This small coastal town 15km from Vietnam is really unspoiled. However, from years of war an neglect the reefs of Cambodia are pretty much destroyed.

Kampot, Cambodia The next day a few of us at hotel climbed the railroad bridge to tip top and jumped off. It was a blast. I should get a e-mail with a picture of me jumping from some dutch guys who were doing back flips off it. When I get picture I post it.

I just thought this statue is hilarous. I guess they just wanted to be accuret. But I thought the large mane made it clear to me that it was/is a male lion.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hey guys. I am right now in Kampot, Cambodia. A little town on the river 14 km from the beach and maybe 50km from Vietnam. In true small town style all but main streets are dirt and there really is nothing here except a market and few local shops and restruants.
It is starting to get pretty hot here and even at night it is starting to not cool down. Luckly the place i am staying at is on the river and 20 feet from my room I can just jump in the river. Only draw back is its 3km outside of town andthe food is expensive, but delicious.
I plan to stay here for 2 or 3 days then back to Phen Phem to get few extra pages put into my passport, because I just realize I do not have enough to get back into Thailand. It would been nice to realize that when I was there a week ago.
Just a note: If want to go to nice beach that has not grown up yet go to Shinikville. The lodging and food are cheap and it's really nice place. The roads to most beaches are still dirt and sand and doesn;t take much to walk to your own piece of paridase. The only draw back is the reef around the area is almost completely killed from the years of war; since this was a pol pot strong hold 10 to 15 years ago. Cambodia is still pretty far behind the SE ASia curb, so everyone should get here in the next 5 years before it turns into another Thailand.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hey guys! I am sorry for the long time between my blogs. I have had real hard time accessing blogger for last two weeks. I am not sure if it was down or the computers I was using were not set up for it.

Anyways, I am right now in Sihanoukville, cambodia. A small beach community that I am told is like Thailand 10 years ago. I am actually staying 50 meter of the beach in a FREE guesthouse. Run by some young expates.
Cambodia is still the wild west for sure. There are little to no rules and you strongly encourage never to go off the main roads or trails, because of all the unexploded mines and bombs from the war that only ended 10 years ago.
I have 6 weeks left in Asia and I just bought my ticket to Africa. So I will be in Africa by the 17th of April and a new chapter of my trip will begin.

If can zoom into old lady smoking. I really wish I had high power zoom lens. That way I could take picture from really far away, but up close with out bothering people. this lady has great face. This on the Mekong River in Phen Phem, Cambodia

Everything done by motocycle. He is headed to morning market to sell little pork.

These kids demand I take their picture. I wish I caught back end of this picture as the one who looks like he getting kissed freaked out. (Phem Phen, Cambodia)

A cop in Siagon. He really happy I took this picture. but he did agree before hand. Seems the same uniform as in the 60's

Da Lat, Vietnam Supposible small quiet town in highlands in Vietnam according to lonely planet?

Nam Tham, Vietnam (Notice the garbage lady. Rare beuty and little reality

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

About the only thing that is still Comunist in this country. It's more of a police state raving with caplism.

You can see why crossing the street is dangerous. Shutter was not left open for very long.

Where ever you go in Hanio there are these cool numbers over all the walls. Makes for great look.

Can anyone guess what year it is in Vietnam. The year of the.....

Thursday, February 15, 2007

You got to love Hanio, Vietnam! The people here are pretty rude and pushy, think NY city, but shorter. Its definely takes a while to get use to this place. When I first got here I just wanted to leave, because everyone is ripping you off and doing it as rudely as possible. Worst, people in Hanio get physically violent fast here. If you will not pay their new price, most likely, they are going to grab or push you around. Luckly for me I am 6' 3" and out weigh them by atleast 90 pounds, so atleast I have little intimination factor. So do not worry about me, but everyone has some kind of story about someone grabbing them or chasing after them.
The only bad thing that happen to me was I got hit by motorcylce. People drive like kamakozes here and accidents are every minute. It is much like the movie Mad Max, but no one where helments or that much leather. No I was not badly hurt. The guy swerved to miss another motorcyle, car and few people and almost ran me over, but luckly missed. However his steel cage on the back of the bike smashed into my right arm. I might get lucky and get cool scar out of it; one can only hope.
To add to the craziness of Hanio Tet starts tommorrow (Vietnams New Year). So think Christmas and New Years all at once. For 4 days everything stops for national holiday, so you can imagine the craziness of everyone trying to get all the last food and presents. In the middle of all that is me just trying to figure out how keep out way; it's great.
For all the negitive I could keep on throwing out about Vietnam, some how this place grows on you like fungus. You start to laugh at people trying to ruthlessly rip you off and the rudeness of the average person becomes normal. I just smile all day long as I refuse to pay more money and push way the guy trying to steal my wallet; this is great. Yeah, you do go little crazy.
I decide to do Vietnam alittle differently than last few countries. Instead of runnin around the whole time I am just focusing in on Hanio and around Siagon. In know, I am missing so much, but I it is nice to be in one place and figure out how it works.
So for the last 6 days I have lived in Hanio and plan to stay another 4 before I leave. I live in the old quarter on Hang Be or as I like to call it, on the corner of Shoe alley. There must be 30 shoe places on my street corner. Ladies eat your heart out.
On the important side, I have already found my favorite coffee shop and once I sit my coffee comes with out me saying anything. It's a great place with splend black coffee (5000 dong) that has already turned my teeth 4 shades of yellow, since I started drinking there. My favorite part is no white people come near this place. It definely from the outside has keep out feel with it always dark and smoked filled with the same crowd all day. I wonder regularly if the vietnam mafia is sitting around me, these guys carry more money than I do. Which makes the scene even funnier, of this huge white guy who is way too big for his chair, reading his Bible, surrounded possible by the mofia. What a great way to start the morning.
Also the artitecture is great here. It's all old colonial french buildings with character coming out it's ears. So in the mornings I walk around a different part of city trying to find cool buildings. However, I am starting run out of areas because the rest of Hanio unfortunely, was flatten during the war and replaced by the normal modern buildings. Got to grab a beer before dinner!
Oh I almost forgot my favorite part about Hanio, the beer corner! On one corner you have 5 places that sell a pint of beer for 2000 dong (there is 16250 dong in a dollar) or 8 beers for a dollar. Yeah, I am going to miss that when I leave.