wanderingsonearth

Wandering around the globe

Tag: Asia

SiaGon

Ho Chi Minh City, the former Siagon. A city that was the center of the Vietnam War. American men went there to fight off the “Communist forces of Ho Chi Minh”. They went to defend “democracy” and ward off evil. It is a city that was decimated from the self-righteous entity that we call our government. As I arrived I imagined a posh, cute Southeast Asian City due the history that surrounds this economic hub, only to find out that Siagon is a ugly, flattened, concrete jungle. It literally looks as though the war ended yesterday and they are still trying to rebuild. There are so many slabs of concrete on every street that it is difficult to take a beautiful photograph of this historic city. It appears there are a few sites that have withstood time and a violent war, but even these buildings are limited. 

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(a younger version of myself @ 19 in HoChiMinh)

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(Another surviving piece of Vietnamese/French history)

However, the worst daunting legacy of the Vietnam War is the defects caused from Agent Orange. To this day 5 our of 100 children in Vietnam are born with defects caused by the chemicals dropped by American forces. Aside from these deformities, there are several others who lost limbs due to unexploded bombs in the country.  So as an American as I walked through the streets of Saigon or Ho Chi Minh and saw someone with a physical disability, I knew it was sadly a repercussion of the war my country waged upon theirs. 

If you’re brave enough to visit the War Memorial Museum, you can see the horrible atrocities committed by our troops in the region. As I walked through the museum and saw photos, artifacts, and other horrific reminders of our governments work, I began to feel emotional and small. I was visiting a country that my own government destroyed and did very little to rebuild. As I thought of all the things we should have done after the Vietnam War, I began to think of current day Afghanistan or Iraq. 

Our argument for going to Viet-Nam was to defend American freedom and make the world safe from “communist”. Our goal for Afghanistan and Iraq is quite similar. Today in Vietnam the ruling party is the one that defeated American troops. Is it a dangerous country? No. Is the world less safe because Vietnam is a communist country? Hell no. Is Iraq going to be safer after Saddam? Probably not. Will another dictator come into power? Probably. Is Afghanistan going to be safer now that the Taliban and al-Qaeda are gone? Yes. Will these rebel groups run to another country? Yes. Will we fight them there? That is a question yet unanswered. 

The whole moral is we should not be so self-righteous as to think that by waging war on another country we are making the world “safe”. We are only destroying the world and causing pain in another land for generations to come. The Vietnam War lives on for so many Vietnamese because they are still suffering the side effects of the American invasion into their sovereign country. 

SO think before you elect an official who wants to wage war. If you have money to visit a country where American fought a war, then GO! See for yourself what a war torn country looks like!

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(Graphic and horrible quality, im sorry)

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“Obama, Obama, Obama”

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Obama at home and abroad are two different people. I believe at the moment Obama’s domestic approval rating is as low as 23% on some polls. However, I am almost positive it would be double that if there were a survey to be conducted abroad. While walking through the streets of Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, or China as an American you’ll frequently hear “Ohh, America, Obama”. Does this matter? Of course it does because they are smiling as they say these three basic English words they know. Eight years ago the American name was tarnished after two wars in the Middle East, harsh economic sanctions around the globe, and the notorious “Axis of Evil”. Now people abroad are beginning to see that America is not as backward as George W. Bush portrayed us to be. We have an ethnically diverse President, who attempts to speak a second language (Indonesian), and who is relaxing economic sanctions around the globe. On his several diplomatic visits Obama has been a promoter of peace and encouraged stability throughout the world, rather than war and chaos. This all matters because at the moment (In Asia) people are not unhappy with America. They are loving “Obama”! 

So go “Obama” ! He might not be doing well at home, but he is helping us some in SE Asia! (Maybe not China, but thats a completely different matter to discuss) 

 

Ubud- Where to stay ;p

Ubud is basically the place where middle aged yogi housewives go to feel as though they are exploring the world. (Sorry its harsh, but true) It is over run with insane fit women in their Lululemon yoga pants, eating organic food, and practicing with some self proclaimed guru. After you accept this Ubud is nice. You will not feel as though you are in Asia, but it is a charming city. It is filled with art stores, organic body products, chic restaurants, and stores selling yogi clothing lines. (Cute, but so obviously catered towards the Western tourist)

However, if you are lucky you will find the hidden gems of Ubud. You wont stay at a corporate hotel or resort, you’ll find yourself an adorable family run guest house. Emma and I found guest house that was restored family temples, surrounding a small garden and pond. 

ImageOur 11 USD a night hotel room ;p It included a full bath, kitchen, and two beds! 

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The full view of our little room with the surrounding gardens

 

 

The one with the sex hotel

You might ask, “How do you know you are staying at a sex hotel?” Well there are several signs. Sometimes they are more discrete, but on other occasions they are quite overt.  On the lovely evening I was lost in Kunming (refer to the story below), I ended up checking into an obvious sex hotel. After paying, getting my room key, showering, and laying down I noticed a few things. The most obvious was the condom bar on my night stand. There were more condom selections that I had ever seen in a super market. Then as I looked beside the condom bar, I noticed that there was a little booklet of photographs with whores you could buy for the night. Literally, no joke, a whole book with probably a hundred photos of different girls you could buy. It was quite the experience. As it settled in that I was sleeping in a bed where men slept with hookers, I began to feel that I needed another shower and that I should probably put my dresser in front of my door. 

As I laid there in silence, I could hear heals clicking the floor and men talking. Then my stomach kind of flopped. At that moment, I sent a text message to a close friend and said “if you dont hear from me in the morning, assume I am dead and raped somewhere in China.” Of course this was a joke, but nervousness once again filled my body. I tried to sooth myself and sleep, but a deep sleep was the last thing my timid body was going to allow me to accomplish. 

As I laid awake most of the night, I knew the morning would bring new adventures and surely be better than the day I had. 

 

The day at the ashram

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Being a spiritual being I decided to check into an asharm in Ubud, Bali. I expected to find some sort of enlightenment or spiritual awakening that you read about in yogi books or watch Julia Roberts experience on “Eat Pray Love”; I didnt. I checked in and was pisssed that they told me I could not eat in my room. I brought Oroes…. Hello, how is a woman supposed to survive without snacking on a few oreos. Second, I missed the 5AM meditation.. (Strike two for me right?) After waking up at 9AM, I thought I would take a dip in the “healing pool” that the website advertised. As I made my way down to the pool I noticed all of the glares from other devotees, probably from missing the morning meditation. Then I saw the pool….. Clearly healing pools do not use chlorine so that means that there is extra bacteria growth…. Maybe that is what “heals” others, but I was not letting my little toe touch that infested water. Then the bell for lunch went off. I made my way to the dining hall only to find out I was excluded from lunch because I did not place my order twenty four hours in advance… Then I left…

 

I was not cut out for ashram life. I stayed in an ashram for 24 hours. As embarrassing as it is I believe it makes a great tale ;p So whats the take away, if you are going to an ashram wake up for meditation, order meals, and dont take oreos as snacks ! 

Cat Mountain, Taipei

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Cat Mountain or Mao Kong Mountain outside of Taipei is a fantastic day trip. It is one of the hipster cafe, art, and outdoor activities that is tucked away that many locals enjoy. Previously many tea houses were located here, since it is close to the tea growing fields of Taipei; but as costumers stopped coming, cafe owners abandoned shop, and left their domesticated cats. Luckily for us, some people have taken in the cats, feed the strays, and have art galleries and cafes surrounded around the cats. (If you dont like cats sitting by you as you eat waffles this might not be the place for you)

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Our destination for the day was the 217 Cafe. This cafe houses a famous Taiwanese tabby cat, who has been featured in local magazine and has a best selling book. On that particular day they were featuring the artist Pepe Shimada. Pepe is a local artist who’s oil paintings are of cats doing funky things. He also sells cat accessories and screen prints. 

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After having brunch and viewing the collection, we enjoyed the surreal surroundings. The cafes are tucked away on the side of a mountain, so you can view a panoramic 360 view of mountains, gardens, and tea plantations. 

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28 Reasons to LOVE Taipei

28 Reasons to LOVE Taipei

Taipei has become my unofficial second home. I sometimes miss it so much you would think I was a Taipei native. It is such a magical city and I am so happy to have worked there for 6 months, studied abroad there for 9 months, and traveled around this lovely little island tucked away in the South Pacific. 

Taiwan stole my heart.. If you are an avid traveler interested in Chinese, Japanese, and Asian culture, cuisine, and art GO TO TAIPEI!!