So, I’m at the history museum in Ho Chi Minh City looking at Angkor and Champa art from 11-15c. BC when I round the corner and: what do I see? I acctually don’t remember the technical term they assigned to these things but they certainly confirm the sentiment that age does not always bring maturity.
Maybe all first-year art students should be required to visit this museum just so that they know that, while it may sound like a new and shocking idea, PENIS ART HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE.
Last day in Vietnam, I leave on the plane tonight, and guess what my last act is? I step on a nail. Scratch that, I step on four nails. Thanks to my less-than-soft feet only two went in but, yeah, super cool. Guess who’s getting a tetanus booster when she gets home? This girl.
Typhoons, things I’m tired of and why I don’t gamble
First if all, before I start to whine: Cambodia is pretty awesome. I spent a few days in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap with my dad and then stayed on a few days alone. I guess it shows how ignorant I am, but I really didn’t realize how different two countries that are geographically so close can be. Considering Cambodia and Vietnam have a totally different ethnicity, language, alphabet, cultural heritage, system of government, etc. I probably should have had that one figured out, but it was still a bit of a surprise. I’m not even going to talk about Ankor park beyond: anything I had imagined, it was better. I remember first learning about the pyramids in Egypt and South America and wondering what was inside, only to find out that besides one tinny burial chamber they were solid and being hugely disappointed. Well the temples at Siem Reap are not solid and for better or worse, you can pretty much crawl all over them.
Bonus points: I experienced my first real typhoon in Phnom Penh. The streets were under two feet of water (pro tip: don’t rent a room on the ground floor during typhoon season, thankfully I had just moved to the 3rd). It kind of fun… and then kind of gross. Nothing like overflowing sewers and runoff from everywhere possible mixing into a knee-high stew the temperature of bathwater to really put you off you lunch.
So then I returned to Ho Cho Minh City and from there took the hydrofoil to Vung Tau where I spent a day and a half exploring the beach (they have the most bizarre sculpture collection on the waterfront and dotting the hillsides) and a day and a half being miserably ill. I even took a picture of my room to commemorate the experience. Though much better now, I think I must be still recovering because I find myself very short on two very important aspects of traveling: humor and patience. I find myself thinking: if I never again eat anything not personally prepared by me, I would be okay with that; as to drink, nothing feels more like home than the words ‘Bull Run’. But even worse was when I read Edith Wharton’s “Ethan Frome” and felt vaguely homesick and nostalgic.
I guess we all have our moments of weakness and this must be mine, I’m quite sure I’ll wake up tomorrow sad to be going home so soon. For the moment though, I’m a little tired of hearing the dice roll every time I get on the back of a motorbike, or cross a street, or ingest anything, and am, in general, a little tired of the heat, and the noise, and the constant press of people.
I haven’t been drawing as much as I hoped to, and half the time I just send the drawing out as a postcard, but I figured I should post some photos from my sketch book so here they are.
As of this year, the median age in Cambodia is about 23, which is up from where it was at 19 back in 2004. The fact that it has recovered that much in that short of time is pretty telling but, to put it in perspective, in most developed countries the median age is somewhere in the 35-45 range. In Vietnam, Columbia, and Burma it’s around 27. The only countries I could find with a median age of under 20 were places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Zambia.
This is all according to the questionably accurate statistics of the Index Mundi.
The townsfolk were aware of this pardonable infirmity of my uncle’s, and they took advantage of it, and were on the watch for the dangerous passages; and when he put himself in a fury laughed at him, which was not in good taste, even for Germans.
Living it up in Mong Cai, Bloom Microventures, and other tails
Okay, so I’ve been a bit lazy with my updates but I have to do a few shout-outs before too much time has passed so here goes.
First, I went with my dad up to Mong Cai, which is a town right on the Chinese boarder (I could see China from my hotel room) where he was looking at a project. I knew I would be meeting some of his business associates but… did not realize we were going to be wined and dined for pretty much two days straight. Only two women spoke more than a little English, but it certainly helped that every meal except breakfast was accompanied with beer and rice wine, which you drank every time someone wanted to toast with you. As a girl, I was allowed to wimp out a little bit but my dad, seeing as there were about 12 Vietnamese men to his one… all wanting to toast to the success of the project and/or his health, definitely had to do some fancy footwork to both stay upright and not lose face. At any rate, I was pretty impressed by their hospitality. Culturally, it’s not something I’m totally comfortable with, that kind of attention puts me off balance, but it was still pretty amazing.
In Hanoi, I met up with a group of people my age who are starting a non-profit group promoting responsible tourism called Bloom Microventures. They had all been studying in the UK but came from all over (Germany, India, the US, etc.) and had been living in Vietnam just a few months trying to get their program off the ground. The concept is to fund micro-loans for the very low-income (women normally considered too high-risk even for micro-loan programs) and promote poverty awareness through tourism. Visitors can take a tour of some of the more rural parts of Vietnam and meet some of the families involved in the program, including the one that will be receiving a loan financed by their tour money. I missed the tour but went out on a field trip where they were scouting out activities for future tours and checking in on some of their borrowers. The program is just getting off the ground, but it’s looking good and everyone involved is really awesome: smart, enthusiastic, positive, full of big ideas and absolutely giving %150 to get it to work.
Anyone who wants the check it out the website is:
I made it into Phnom Penh last night and so far I love it. It’s totally different from any other part of Asia I’ve seen before. As I haven’t been here long, I can’t say much, but I can say this:
I KNOW YOUR SECRET SAM! YOU ARE NOT A UNIQUE BUTTERFLY: THERE IS AN ENTIRE COUNTRY OF PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU!