Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Many hours of traveling later our group landed in Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam. My first impression was the massive amount of people everywhere. You step outside of the airport and are greeted by the hum of horns, people yelling and airplanes landing. It was all very overwhelming. One of the highlights of Ho Chi Minh for me was getting to experience bartering in a huge marketplace. This was an experience that I had never encountered before and it was exhilarating.
The way in which commerce in Ho Chi Minh is so aggressively pursued by the vendors leaves me wondering if this business practice is more profitable than the business style commonly found in America. In America, business seems to be more about consumers knowing what they want or need and then buying products or services that fulfill those needs. The difference in these business practices is apparent throughout Ho Chi Minh and show up in many places like outdoor vendors and indoor stores.
Through experiencing this different style of business my eyes have been opened to the many different ways that global business is done.
We took a bus into Singapore from Kuala Lumpur on Monday morning. This being our last country, we were all pretty exhausted and ready to return to our own beds. But, nonetheless we hauled ourselves through passport checks and customs once again (with Phylicia and I getting in a little trouble). We quickly discovered that the city was quite similar to our home country; fast-paced, decently clean, and covered with fascinating sights.
The first night we all took a train to Chinatown where we enjoyed a fantastic traditional Chinese meal. We explored the mini version of China, which included shops, music, and Chinese New Year decorations everywhere. The next day (our only full day), we went to learn about the 700 years of Singapore’s history at The National Museum of Singapore. We had the rest of the day to ourselves, so the students decided to get henna tattoos, and explore the Singapore River and the sights surrounding it. That night, we got all 10 of us together and enjoyed a traditional Indian meal, which led to burning mouths and chugging waters. (Warning: Don’t listen to Frank when he says something isn’t spicy. Also, don’t eat the green stuff!).
I feel like Singapore was a good country to finish our trip with. It eased us back into the similar customs of the U.S. so we can adjust to our own culture again. Now it’s back to reality!
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai was one of my favorite places on this trip. I was looking forward to riding an elephant since before we
left, and our experience at the Maetang Elephant Park definitely did not let me down! Sure, it was a little touristy, but who would deny riding an elephant in Thailand? Not me. We also got to float down a river on a bamboo raft. It was a very relaxing ride, with a gorgeous view of the mountains.
On Monday, after our ride on a night train across the country, we had dinner
with some missionary families that live in Chiang Mai: Andy and Carmen Owen and two other couples and all of their kids. They fed us some great Thai food and the children provided some interesting entertainment, as only children can. It was neat being able to talk with these families and hear what it’s been like living in Thailand for the past several years.
I loved our time in Thailand, and all the things we got to do while we were there. I mentioned only a few. We had a lot of adventures, and I would love to go back someday and have some more. And now I have Thai friends to visit.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
It’s Monday morning and we have just loaded onto a bus heading for Singapore after spending the past five days in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. We’ve spent more time here than any other place, so we’ve really had the chance to become familiar with this beautifully modern city. On Thursday and Friday we got to see some of the famous sites, such as the 88-story Petronas Towers, the National Mosque, and the Batu Caves–a majestic cavern turned into a Hindu shrine that is accessed by an arduous climb up 272 steep steps.
Yesterday we had a special opportunity to to attend a Christian church here in KL. Much of this trip has been about studying other world religions (like Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam) and visiting their places of worship, so we enjoyed being able to experience a Christian worship service on the other side of the world. The church is called Petaling Jaya Gospel Hall. Frank and Aleen have formed lots of friendships with congregation members over the course of their many trips here.
The service began at 8:30, and for the most part, it wasn’t all that different from services at some American churches. The first hour was spent in worship, following by a message about the biblical basis for missions. Fortunately, everything was in English. Things wrapped up at 11:15. For lunch, some of the young adults treated us students to lunch, which gave us a chance to get to know them and their way of life. Overall, Malaysia has been a great place to visit, and we’ll be bringing home lots of good memories from this place.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
We’re in Cambodia and it’s been a long journey so far and we’re less than half way through. Everyone is tired of traveling for hours and we haven’t been able to drink tap water, so our spending money is going towards bottles and bottles of water! And the toilets… Well that’s another story. Let’s just say it has given a whole new meaning to the term “pop a squat”. And no matter how linguistic you are, there is bound to be a language you can’t understand, and not being able to communicate with people is so hard! I finally just started playing charades with the street vendors! As difficult as some of these experiences have been, it is WAY better than reading something out of a textbook. This trip had brought all the textbooks I have ever read to life and really put my faith and my knowledge to the test. Safe to say, Jesus works in AMAZING WAYS!!!
Today we went to the Toul Seng museums and all of the killing field sites. There was a separate building dedicated to all of the skulls and miscellaneous body’s parts found throughout the camp. Walking over old bones still scattered in the ground hand seeing rows upon rows of skulls was quite the soul numbing experience. The exhibits were so surreal and realistic. There was videos of the music played at the camps and screams of prisoners in the back ground. It was one of those experiences that makes you want to cry, but you can’t because you soul is just so numb.
While we were here we also went to an orphanage that is run by a couple from the US. They took in children who’s parents died of aids at this site. But what truly makes it special, is not only did they take these kids in, but they also opened up a school. Because education for kids in this country is not very common and quite expensive, all of the families in the local village were wanting their children included on this brand new school. So they were kind enough to open it up to the village and hire local girls as teachers. I got offered an internship here at the orphanage and between my education major and passion for children and third world countries, I think I can easily say this was my favorite stop.