Life is good!
I've fallen into a cycle of working and traveling.. I'm now in South America.
I'm going to wander until my money runs out, and my plans keep changing every 5 minutes so there's no point of posting my itinerary on here anymore. Join me in my travels by adding your details to the 'subscribe' button below!
“Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music-the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.” - Henry Miller
August 9th 2007
Being that I've really grown fond of Lebanon and Syria, it was dispiriting to leave Lebanon, while at the same time exciting to head back to the wonderland of old city Damascus. On the morning of the 6th, Chi and I woke up in Beirut toying with the thought of finding our way to a Palestinian camp in northern Lebanon. But after much contemplation regarding time, we ended up walking to a bus station and boarding a bus headed to the Lebanon/Syria border. At the border, I stopped by the pizza stand (the one I went to on my way from Syria to Lebannon), only to find that the twins were closing.. they saw how bummed I was and they were nice enough to reopen their store for me! Leaving Lebanon posed a bit of a ... read more
August 6th 2007
Yesterday is but today's memory, tomorrow is today's dream. -Kahlil Gibran My plan was to transit through Lebanon to get to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, but as usual, my plans changed and I decided to just stay in Lebanon. I just kept my fingers crossed that the consequences of an expired visa wouldn't be too serious. Everything always seemed to work itself out, so my plan was to ride on this high tide of optimism. On Sunday, Chi and I headed over to the ancient Roman ruins of Baalbek, which is charmingly referred to as the City of the Sun. It was known in the ancient times as a place for Romans to worship their god, Jupiter, so you can imagine how massive this place used to be in its glory days of 100 BC ... read more
August 4th 2007
Yousef, Omar, Aarti (an American girl we met in Damascus) and I managed to get a share taxi in Beirut for probably the best deal we could ever get --400 Syrian Lira per person, which is roughly about $8. It's still a considerable about, being that we are in the Middle East, the land of oil!!! A Lebanese man also joined our taxi, and he turned out to be one of those friendly grandfatherly types. He didn't speak English, so Omar and Yousef pretty much did all the talking with him, but at one point, he turned to Omar and said, "That Korean girl talks a lot!" We were a little nervous that our visa processing at the Lebanese border would be another Syria repeat... but noooooo. It was like a McVisa... five minutes in and ... read more
August 1st 2007
Coming from a country with fairly poor diplomatic relations with so many countries have had it's downs and downs. For one, individual travel is banned from several countries like Iran, Sudan and North Korea. Another is the enormous amount of anti-American conversations I've had (yawwwwwn) along my travels. So the experience at the Jordanian/Syrian border was just another friendly reminder of the world's love for America and its foreign policies. After riding a mini bus from Dahab to Nuweiba (port town of Egpt), I wandered around and met a group of travellers--most of whom were exchange students at American University in Cairo. We rode the fast ferry from Nuweiba to Aqaba in Jordan, which cost about $60-- payable only in U.S. dollars. My original plan was to go to Jordan and then later try for Syria, ... read more
July 29th 2007
::Warning... I've been in Egypt for 3 weeks and saw a million sites, hence the photo overload!:: Egypt! At this point of my travels, it is a sign that this past year of being a nomad has finally reached it's expiration date. I was nervous about Egypt because the stories of sexual harassment cases against travelers are endless, and I know that countries always have one "scary story" about them, but everyone I met who had been to Egypt had episode after episode. I'd heard from Megan (graphic designer from Chicago whom I traveled with in Uganda & Rwanda) a story where an old man in his 60s~70s cornered her and kept repeating "Sex, sex, sex" and she finally had to resort to grabbing a handful of trash from the trash bin next to her and ... read more
July 8th 2007
While I've been here in East Africa, I've been exposed to the world of NGOs... where everyone talks in acronyms and comes together for a good cause. Well, the second part is up for debate because in the past month and a half, I've started to develop some mixed feelings about NGOs and whether some countries are better off without its help. I can't help but wonder if NGOs and aid work is actually detrimental to the development and sustainability of a 3rd world country. For one, the administrative costs that goes into these projects are ludicrous. I met a really nice Canadian engineer who was stationed in the DRC to develop a water system for a local village. The amount of administrative costs that Evelyn described absolutely stunned me. For one, they needed to remodel ... read more
July 3rd 2007
I came in and out of Uganda three times and will clump it all into this blog. The first time was mentioned in my Lamu entry, which accounted my rafting adventure at the source of the Nile with Chi... which was just awesome and one of the most exciting things I've ever experienced in my life. Part of the fun had to do with the fact that we had a great raft guide, a freelancer named Gram, who made sure we had plenty of outrageous, acrobatic flips. Shortly after that, I went to the DRC to track the mountain gorillas and came back to Uganda and spent almost a week at Lake Bunyoni. Megan and I would have totally stayed there for weeks had it not been for our 7-day transit visa. Lake Bunyoni has ... read more
June 27th 2007
I know that Rwanda as a country has more to offer than being the country where an atrocious genocide recently took place, but it's really hard to look at the country and not immediately associate the genocide with it. The Bradt guide book on Rwanda lists a UNICEF National Trauma survey of '95, which stated that: :: 99.9% of children witnessed violence :: 79.6% of children experienced death in the family :: 69.5% witnessed someone being killed or injured :: 57.7% of children witnessed killings or injuries with a machete :: 87.5% saw dead bodies or parts of bodies One of the main reasons that I wanted to go to Rwanda was b/c I wanted to see for myself how a country can move on so quickly after a genocide, and how two groups that ... read more
June 16th 2007
When I first arrived in to East Africa, I came jam-packed with a mental list of things I wanted to do. Tracking mountain gorillas was not on the list as it costs $300~$500 just for the permits alone, and I justified my decision with the thought, how special could it be... with 97% DNA similarities and weighing in at 200+ kg (440 lbs), they're just bigger, hairier and nicer versions of us. A day later, I decided that HAD to go to track the gorillas! Even if I had to knock out a country off my travels due to the financial hit, I made up my mind that I MUST go see them! Being that there are a little over 600 mountain gorillas left in the world, all of whom are living in East Africa, ... read more
June 7th 2007
Off the coast of Kenya is Lamu Archipelago teeming with a vibrant Swahili ("People of the Coast" or "coastal dwellers") community--an example of what happens when two distinct cultures infuse together over centuries time without warring, land stealing, and having power struggles. The Swahili people are descendents of the Arabs and Bantu (Africans), which occurred when the Arabs started trading with Africa, and the resulting intermarriages slowly brought about a new language, society and culture of...ta-da ...Swahili! I was a little confused about Swahili being just a language or an ethnic group, as the language widely spoken all over Eastern Africa is Swahili, though not so much in Rwanda (French colonizers...self explanatory). Well, my understanding of it is that though Swahili is spoken widely here by Kenyans, Tanzanians, and Ugandans, the Swahili people are sort ... read more