Uploading just one photo in Nepal was a painful process that usually ended in failure due to routine power outages. Now that I’m back in the land of high speed internet all my photos are up! You can go to the Photos tab above or click here to look through the albums. Happy browsing!
Nepal represents an eclectic mixture of ethnic, religious, and political tendencies. It’s landlocked by Tibet and India, both of which heavily influence Nepali culture. The country’s spiritual basis blends Hindu, Buddhist, animist and shamanic practices. And although Nepali people are renowned for their peaceful nature, a decade-long Maoist insurgency just ended in 2006. Even today, political disputes and confusion plague the nation but most locals in Pokhara ignore it.
Nepali people are so genuine and outgoing that it’s hard to walk down the street without making a new friend. I’m constantly surprised by their hospitality considering how difficult life is for them. Nepal is the poorest country in South Asia with a GDP per capita of US$470. In 2008 the UN ranked Nepal 145th out of 153 countries on its Human Development Index. Government power cuts can last up to 10 hours a day which severely hinders growth. And the gender disparities are the worst I’ve seen – for example, the literacy rate is only 26% for females but 62% for males. Continue reading
I’ve been in Bangkok, Thailand for 36 hours. As my best friend Colin says, “It’s kind of funny when Thailand becomes your benchmark for modernity and you’ve grown up outside New York City.” But for the first time in 7 weeks I have hot water, air conditioning, and a washer and dryer. There are cars, highways, and skyscrapers. And I would be lying if I said my time in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia depleted my American, consumer-driven ways.
Today I wandered around Siam Square’s luxurious malls. I went into Jimmy Choo’s and held a pair of shoes that cost more than my budget for the last 2 months. I think it was obvious because the girl at the counter looked me up and down with snooty disapproval. I guess my grungy sweats weren’t up to par? But I shrugged it off, found an equally snooty French cafe and ate my weight in birthday cake. Then, I went back to my hostel, got in the shower, turned the knob to scalding lava hot, and stood there for 30 minutes until my skin was bright red. (To all you eco-conscious folk: Trust me, I’ve conserved enough water by not showering in the last 2 months to merit a frivolous 30 minute shower. And, it’s my birthday, so deal.) Continue reading
I met so many interesting people in Hanoi and Halong Bay that I didn’t have time to write a post. So, here’s a short video and some photos instead. I’m traveling in Laos now and then I go to Cambodia. My posts will become less about travel and more about women’s issues when I start my first job in Cambodia on August 6th. For now I’m just absorbing the culture and people in these countries.