Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Extreme Ironing

I couldn't quite wake up this morning, so when I looked at my clock and it was 7:16 am, and I'm supposed to be at work at 7:30 am, I jumped up from bed, threw on my clothes (clothes that were formerly on the floor), and ran out the door. This morning rush used to be status quo, but now in my older and wiser years, I have a morning routine which includes coffee.

I'm walking, it's hot. April is by far the hottest month of the year--don't argue with me--in Vietnam, and I'm looking forward to the rainy season as I shuffle to school. Blurry-eyed, racing thoughts, I look up and there on the sidewalk is a line of thirty Vietnamese people squatting in way only the Vietnamese and Michael can squat, eating breakfast, chatting, drinking coffee. And then I see it, a generator buzzing loudly, and what's plugged into the generator is so baffling to me that I have to rub my eyes and blink a few times. Yes, an iron is plugged into the generator, and there is a woman standing, ironing a pink dress shirt on the sidewalk where folks are gathered for breakfast. I envied this morning routine. A freaking ironing board! I wish I had my camera.

Sometimes I love HCMC, and sometimes, well let's just say, sometimes I struggle with the place, but today with laughter, I love this place if only for the insane joy it brings me.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Me Kong Delta, Explosion!

 Watch Michael's video of our trip to the Mekong Delta, and watch out for the water snake. Enjoy! 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Elephants in Chiang Mai!

If you visit The Elephant Nature Park, North of Chiang Mai, Thailand you will experience a perspective shift. At the Elephant Nature Park, a woman named Lek (little woman, big heart) rescues abused elephants from Thailand and neighboring countries and provides them with acres and acres of land to roam. The land includes feeding areas, an elephant hospital, a river running through the property, and hills for the elephants to "get back to nature".













Most of the elephants at the Nature Park are domesticated. They were rescued from a life of street performance in polluted cities and lives as elephant loggers where they were often mutilated and some, blinded. A true elephant whisperer, Lek walks and sits with them as if she were part of the family.

Before visiting the Elephant Nature Park, I did not understand the process of creating a domesticated elephant. Baby elephants are put into cages, beaten, poked, prodded, and scarred so  that they will be submissive to their masters. They are used for profit and often lead lives of misery. They are the elephants you often see in circus shows or on the streets in SE Asia.The Elephant Nature Park is an alternative 'eco-tourist' option for people who want to observe and love elephants, rather than participating in demanding and abusive tours.
To visit the Elephant Nature Park it will cost you around 70 dollars, but worth every penny. The 70 dollars goes toward feeding and caring for the 34 elephants in the park. During your visit, you will feed, bath and watch elephants play together and in the river. For hours, I stood at the base of the camp and just observed the elephants with their elephant friends while listening to my IPod, making my own elephant nature video in my head. It was like watching enormous dogs lumber over acres of land, or like hanging out with dinosaurs in my own backyard. The experience was amazing! At the end of the day, I was soaked with river water and elephant slobber, but it was all worth it because I was inspired by one woman's effort to live and work for these large, beautiful animals.

I like to meet people who are World Changers, and I feel like my job allows me to do so, but this time the World Changer wasn't in my classroom, but in Northern Thailand.

If you would like to visit or volunteer at the Elepahnt Nature Park, please visit this website:
http://www.elephantnaturepark.org/

Birthday Countdown!

28 days until my birthday! Just a reminder.

Khao Lak and Similan Islands

My first stop during Spring Break Adventure 2010 was Khao Lak. Khao Lak is about an hour, and hour and a half drive from Phuket, Thailand, and I wanted to get out of Phuket as quickly as possible (the tickets were cheap), so I chose Khao Lak based on Mike Murphy's recommendation. Dyana Wilson was my cohort in crime for this adventure because Michael wanted to stay home and save some money for our European excursion this summer, so Dyana and I flew from HCMC to Phuket with relaxation on the bill.

Khao Lak isn't much to scream and shout about, but our hotel was right on the beach and the Similan Islands are only a 1 1/2 hour boat trip away. My point is, if you have the opportunity to visit Thailand, you must visit the Similan Islands. I've vacationed in Thailand numerous times because I love it and the tickets from Viet Nam are cheap, but I've never seen such beautiful water or snorkeled without the fear of jellyfish "spicy pop-pop" stings. The Similan Islands are,quite frankly, paradise, and although Dyana and I only spent one day enjoying the beaches and snorkeling, I am going back, tomorrow, if possible. Ok, well maybe not tomorrow, but soon.