Wednesday, September 29, 2010
This is the top of the gate into Angkor Thom. Words honestly cannot describe.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Mouhot to have come across Angkor Wat in the midst of the rainforest. It eerily spoke of an ancient golden age, but also of nature's ability to perpetually create unparalleled beauty; sunsets, mountain vistas, or trees intertwined in temples. Visiting a place like Angkor highlights the fact we view our surroundings in snapshots. We can take Angkor at its present state, or we can delve into the history of the Khmer for greater understanding. However, we can forget to do similar analyses with the places we've made familiar; i.e. knowing New York now compared with where it was in the 70s and 80s, or before September 11th, or during the time of the Lenape when bears lived in Manhattan."
And from Friday, 17 September 2010:
"Leaving Siam Reap is bittersweet. The people have been incredible, the scenery has been breath-taking, and the prices hard to beat, but I'm excited to return to Jakarta because for as much as I've learned about these cultures over the past few weeks, I want to learn that much more about where I'm living and have similar conversations that I've had throughout my trip. One thing that has struck me has been Cambodians impression of the French. During my conversations with the high schoolers and other locals, they will always ask me if I've been to France, when I intend on going, and what I want to see when I'm there. I suppose the actions of the American during the Vietnam War and dealing with the horror of Pol Pot would help restore these relationships sooner, but it was something I wasn't expecting."
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Me, Tola, and Jothan
Last initial impression of Cambodia, I'm sincerely intrigued by their interest in volleyball. I've seen volleyball courts throughout Siam Reap, along roads in the countryside, and in Phnom Penh. I'm a big fan of volleyball, but I was not expecting this would be the sport of choice over here.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
This was a market near Chinatown in Ho Chi Minh City. Pretty crazy inside, but it looks pretty cool!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
In general, I am concerned about how my time in Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia is changing my perception and attitude towards service. At Thelma's, I am blessed to have Ida who cleans my room, makes my bed, and does my laundry. Also, when at a fast food, or any, restaurant, patrons are not expected to clean up after themselves. It still makes me feel really weird to get up from my table without taking my tray over to the garbage, but as soon as I move to get up, employees stream over. Lastly, there is not much of a tradition of tipping, and so I have become accustomed to giving exact amounts. While all of this has been a nice luxury, it is not the reality of the world I want to live in. I guess just something I'll have to be cognizant of when I get home.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Part 1: Initial impression of Vietnam
Even more than in Indonesia, the dollar is king in both Vietnam and Cambodia. Many places list their prices in dollars, not the local currency. Furthermore, the exchange rate to the Vietnamese Dong (such a great name for a currency) is about $1 = 19,800 VND. This is absolutely mind-blowing to me...
Throughout the trip, I wanted to experience the local cuisine. While my system has had two and a half months training on an Indonesian diet, I'm still a little concerned how things are going to pan out, but so far so good. Also, I've really enjoyed the different dishes I've had thus far: Bun Bo Nam Bo (stir-fried beef, veggies, and sweet sauce - Vietnamese), Com Chien Thom (Pineapple Fried Rice - Vietnamese), and Lok Lak (cooked veggies, rice, and chicken marinated in a tradition Khmer sauce - Cambodian) have been my favorites thus far.
Landing in Vietnam reminded me of when I landed in Jakarta in February. Landing by yourself in a place you've never been before can be a rather intimidating experience and all the more so when you don't know any of the language. I've been spoiled by knowing enough Bhasa to get by and understand some of the things being said around me, but it's hard to solely rely on natives knowing English. That being said, I've been impressed with the number of people who have a pretty good grasp of English, especially in Cambodia, and their willingness to come up and talk with me. While I realize I'm probably being "used" by some people to practice their English with a native speaker, I've enjoyed the conversations and especially the Cambodians have struck me as being extremely earnest.
Lastly (for part 1), thank goodness for Jessica Hores. She was my high school girlfriend who first introduced me to sushi and spent a great deal of time teaching me how to use chopsticks properly. I've never felt completely adept with them, but there have been three meals where alternatives were not available and my ability to eat the meal is solely due to her dedication to teaching me about 8 years ago. So Jessica, thank you lol.
I hope everyone is doing well!
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
1) Utah solidified the fact the Mountain West Conference should have the automatic bid to the BCS, not the Big East. Yes, I realize much of the country has already realized this, but this was a very difficult admission for someone growing up in "Big East country." Utah clearly out-played (as much as I could see from observing the typed play-by-play on my computer screen during free periods today :) lol) Pittsburgh and this wouldn't be as critical except that Utah is projected to finish 3rd in the MWC while Pitt is the predominant favorite to take the Big East. Yes, this might acknowledge that this may be the year for UConn or that Utah is better than anticipated, but it is a clear loss for the Big East as a conference (with Rutgers needing a dominant second half to truly put away Norfolk State...)
2) Despite resistance from Ab (he's a Clemson alum), South Carolina might be for real this year. I'm always a fan of a re-building project and maybe this season was the product of five years under 'the head ball coach.'
Ok, ridiculousness of NCAA football aside, tonight Ab and I are looking to hang out for a bit with Mike and his girlfriend before they leave in the morning for the Philippines. I'm looking forward to finally meeting Mike's gf (who was apparently in the same MSW class as Miranda Struck, a high school friend) I hope everyone is doing well and Singapore pictures will be posted soon. Regarding the trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, Ab and I are leaving on Monday afternoon and will be in Vietnam sometime Monday night. From there we've deliberately not made plans other than being in the town outside of Angkor Wat for four days at the beginning of next week. We've done a decent amount of research so we have a number of options, but we want to stay pretty free from schedules and itineraries so that we can enjoy our time and see what we want to see when we want to see it. I have no idea whether or not I'll have a) internet access in Vietnam and Cambodia or b) if either of those countries have blocked blogger, but if there aren't any new posts, it'll be due to one of those two reasons.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Anyway, even though I've only been here for two days (this post is hastily be written from the Singapore Airport before it times me out), I am incredibly impressed with the city. There is a reason it's public administration has been rated the best in the world. My limited experience with Singapore left me feeling like it was a merger of New York City and Miami, but cleaner and more...disciplined. While disciplined might be a nice way of putting their control over minutia (ie no gum chewing, no smoking, no littering) but aside from the gum chewing, many municipalities also have these laws, they're just enforced in Singapore because they figured out what all teachers know, the little things add up and matter a lot (let a kid get away with not following one procedure and the next thing you know he's throwing his pencil out the window - or maybe that was just Alex... :) anyway...)
Anyway, I'm excited to post the picture of my hotel bathroom on the next post when I get home. It was an ... efficient... use of space :)