Saturday, January 30, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Mason and I are flying out tomorrow from our respective hometowns and we are still making last-minute packing decisions! As of earlier this afternoon my backpack weighed in at just under 30 lbs. (not including my day pack, which is probably another 5 lbs.).
My nerves are definitely starting to kick in- mostly I hate saying goodbyes! It will be very hard to leave this face! Stefano will be so big when I get back! If anyone is interested in puppy-sitting while I'm gone I'm sure my mom would appreciate it!
Tonight Katie and I are watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs- a funny and entertaining distraction on my last night home. I recommend it! My one criticism is that it doesn't rain Pad Thai.
Wish Mason and I luck!...Together we'll have 70 lbs. of crap to lug around Asia and that doesn't include stuff we don't yet know that we've forgotten. Let the fun begin!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
You'll also notice that in both of these photos we are dressed almost identically. We noticed early on in the Semester at Sea (SAS) voyage that we happened to pack many of the same items (including the very handy j.crew skirt/dresses that transition from temple to beach quite seamlessly!). In the photo at top we are wearing them as dresses in Langkawi, Malaysia.
I think we will try to bring a little more variety to our outfits this go-around.
After a few days of recuperation in Bangkok we hope to catch a flight to Dhaka, Bangladesh to partake in a training program with the Grameen Bank. The Grameen Bank was founded by Muhammad Yunus in order to provide micro-loans to poverty-stricken Bangladeshis. Now Grameen programs (and programs based on the Grameen model) are in place all over the world.
From there we will hop over to Nepal for a few weeks of adventure, and hopefully a sighting of Mt. Everest! (Or if we feel up to it we'll try to beat the world record and summit Everest in less than 8 hours. Wish us luck.) I am really looking forward to Nepal as I have gained a lot of insight about the country from my coworkers here at the American Himalayan Foundation.
After Nepal we will return to Bangkok to begin a round-trip tour through Northern Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Southern Thailand, flying out of Bangkok in mid-April.
One of the main reasons Mason and I chose to return to this region of the world was that neither of us were able to visit Cambodia during SAS due to lack of space on the field excursions from Vietnam.
One our way home we will spend a few days back in Seoul, South Korea (4 for me, 10 for Mason). Mason spent the last year teaching English to youngsters in Seoul so she knows the ropes on that one. (And I think she has every meal and outing planned out for me!)
This is a brief overview of our itinerary, more to come...
Jan. 24- Departed Nassau, Bahamas
Jan. 26- Arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Spent days at the beach, went kayaking, fort-touring, salsa-dancing and even observed a cockfight.
Jan. 29- Out to Sea
Feb. 5- Arrived in Salvador, Brazil in time for the last night of the pre-Lenten celebration of Carnival! Successfully avoided getting robbed or punched. Also chose a horrible port in which to do a walking-tour of the city as it was ungodly hot.
Feb. 10- Departed Brazil, headed toward South Africa!
At some point Evan joined us and we traveled as a trio from then on! And some time after that Clint made our group complete. (Most future excursions include some combination of the four of us together.)
Feb. 19- Arrived in Cape Town at 0500 (5am). Watched the sunrise over Table Mountain as we pulled in! Amazing!! I Safaried for 3 days at Kwazulu Natal National Park. On our last days in Cape Town the four of us visited Khayelitsha Township and played with the adorable kids; Ferried to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela carried out many of his 27-year term); Took in the view from the top of Table Mountain, and more!
Feb. 25- Departed Cape Town and rounded the Cape of Good Hope. (We survived the roughest waters in the world!)
While at sea we went to class, watched movies, hung out in the piano bar, ate LOTS of ice cream on the 7th deck, read by the pool, and exchanged photos.
Feb. 30- Arrived in Port Louis, Mauritius (A little tiny African island past Madagascar).
We went on an amazing ship-family outing to La Vanille Crocodile & Tortoise Park where we ate chocolate cake and watched the tortoises get intimate. Swam in the amazing blue waters of the Indian Ocean.
Mar. 5 - Departed Port Louis.
Mar. 11- Arrived in Chennai, India (formerly Madras). India was perhaps the most colorful, dirty and overall most eye-opening port experience. Mason made it to the Taj Mahal and I lived vicariously through her. I taught her all about the temples of Mamallapuram. Neither of us got sick thanks to pepto bismol before and after each meal!
Mar. 16- Departed Chennai. Watched stragling and intoxicated SASers get dock time for being late to board the ship. So entertaining.
Mar. 19- Arrived in Penang, Malaysia. Took a sleeper train to the capital, Kuala Lumpur (KL) and visited the Petronas Towers (then second, now third tallest building in the world). From there we flew Asia Air to Langkawi Island to get some R&R.
Mar. 24- Departed Malaysia and sat on the ship in Singapore while she refueled. Oh well, we didn't want to be bound by their stringent laws anyway.
Mar. 27- Arrived in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam. Our parents did not join us here on the SAS parent trip so we spent lots of time at Fanny's Ice Cream Parlor. Mason went north to Hanoi & Halong Bay. I stayed in HCMC and bought pirated DVDs. Once reunited we visited the very graphic War Remnants Museum and crawled through the Cu Chi Tunnels.
Apr. 1- Departed Vietnam.
Apr. 3- Arrived in Hong Kong. High school friends Miho and Shobo showed us a good time on our one day in HK. The next day Mason and I flew to Beijing as part of our Tshingua University program. In China we really had to rely on each other for entertainment, hence the infatuation with the ass-less pants. We also climbed the Great Wall. It was all for naught since we couldn't see a darn thing through the smog.
Apr. 9- Ship met up with us in Shanghai and we departed from there.
Apr. 11- Arrived in Kobe, Japan! With bullet-train passes in hand we were off and running for a jam-packed 4-day tour of Japan. We spend the first day in Hiroshima and saw many remnants of the A-Bomb destruction. We also hit up Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka! One over-rated experience: Staying in a morgue-like capsule hotel.
Apr. 15- Departed Japan for long haul accross Pacific Ocean!
Apr. 22- Arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii for an 8-hour stop-over. Enough time to visit Pearl Harbor and Waikiki Beach! (And apparently enough time to lose my digital camera. whoops.)
While here we stocked up on chocolate for the next stage of the long-haul.
May 3- Arrived in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. We ventured to the cute beachy town of Montezuma for our last SAS adventure.
May 5- Departed Costa Rica. Heading home....
May 9- Arrived in Miami, USA. Sad day for all. Mason's family greeted us at the port. I rushed off to catch my flight and subsequently lost my cell phone. whoops again. (Amazing how I only managed to lose things in America.)