Quick first week review

Where to start. Of course all my predispositions about this place were so wrong.  It is a lot more modern than I first imagined, at least a ton more than Ghana which is my best comparison.  There are a lot of modern amenities and companies that we have in the USA.  McDs, Starbucks, 711.. You name it, the culture is extremely tourist-driven in the major cities and, after visiting, I can totally understand why! This place is incredibly beautiful with a culture full of complex tradition and humility.  It’s naked, genuine, and admirable…

 
anyhow, as for my trip so far…

 
We started are first few days in Bangkok wandering this HUMONGOUS citys past and modern twist clashing together in a workable and fascinating balance.  We spent some nights out in the town.  one night out i ate a roasted scorpion. not as bad as you’d think actually!  later in the week, we headed to sukhotAi and ancient city up north todo some more historical temple  visits by bike.  The temples here are so enthralling and serene. Words cannot express their beauty and uniqueness. The historical park was inexplainably serene and I was fortunate enough to be blessed by a monk after listening…
 
Sunday night we spent shopping in Chang Mai up north shopping and dancing at the local reggae bars with people from all over thee world. Quite an awesome night! Early Monday we headed up into the mountains to the Elephant Nature Park to spend a week volunteering at an elephant refuge for abused elephants, and dogs surprisingly.  As soon as we arrived, you could tell this was no ordinary place…the feeling was honestly quite magical. Picture elephant surrounding you everywhere in a striking open valley beneath the mountains.  Absolutely breathtaking..and we get to work here all week!  
 
In the last few days we were able to bathe the elephants in the river and feed them by hand! In addition, we spent most of today ( Tuesday) collecting corn stalks for one night that would last one night only to feed the elephants. The craziest thing happened on the way home after a solid 5 hours of work.  We loaded all the stalks into the back of the truck which probably piled higher than 15 feet. And decided it would be fun to ride on back the entire hour ride home. We had nearly a dozen people loaded onto this huge truck full of stalks driving through the mountains with tons of curbs may I add and nothing to hold onto.  After I thought I had gotten over the worst of it,it started pouring outside.  With no more room in the van, we sucked it up, stayed on top of the soaking ban, and sang songs for the half hour ride from there in the pouring rain on top of a huge pile of stalks. Musta looked totally hilarious to any onlookers. It was quite the adventure.
 
Another story, last night I was also chosen to be blessed by a shaman in the welcome ceremoney in front of more than 100 people. It was moment i will remember for a long time.
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“To travel like Ghandi, with simple clothes, open eyes, and an uncluttered mind.”-R.Steves

Many people have asked me where I’m going and what I’m doing.  I figured it would be a lot easier to put it all in one place instead of verbalizing it over and over, where many (including myself) often miss the details.  Well, here’s a place to check back in if anyone ever is found wondering where I went, or what I’m up to. 

But first, I want to send out a huge thankyou to everyone who has supported, encouraged, and guided me through this complicated and, often, scary process.  This dream would never have been possible without all of your help.  So from the bottom of my heart, Thankyou!

As for the next six months, this is what it has ammounted to:

January 23: I leave for Bangkok, Thailand, where I will meet up with my “study abroad program” through Pacific Discovery.   If you follow the link, it will give you a detailed summary of what’s happening through this unique program. 

In brief, I will be traveling for 2 months throughout four different countries-Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia-volunteering with different NGOs (Nongovernment organizations), mountain trekking, staying with local families, and engaging in various cultural practices (such as a few days in Buddhist monastery!) 

My study abroad trip will finish at the end of March, and I will begin the second part of my journey as an intern for an amazing NGO that rehabilitates women who have been through adverse circumstances called the Mahima Care Home in Kolkata, India.  I will be helping to construct a local campaign to get the community more involved with the Mahima Care Home, as well as assisting with a mobile medical in rural areas.  I am beyond excited and blessed to be able to work with such extroardinary women over there. 

Depending on funding and the timing of our project, I am not exactly sure how long I will be working with the Mahima Home, but the earliest departure would be June. 

At some point, Kyle Beall and I plan to meet up after he finishes up his semester in India, and do some free traveling.

We are currently searching for paid work to extend our stay for as long as it feels right.

As for the traveling itself, Steves summed up my aspirations quite well: “…to travel simply, openly, and with an uncluttered mind.”

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