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Showing posts from 2016

Koh Phangan Revisited

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Earlier on this blog, I shared my experience at The Sanctuary in Koh Phangan. I also spent some time on the north side of the island in the town of Chaloklum earlier during that same holiday. Chaloklum is a one street town. When I first arrived, I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't be able to meet anyone, but that turned out to be very wrong. One of my first nights there I wandered into a house/bar where a couple of Italians were sitting around drinking beers and watching old Pink Panther cartoons, and was invited to join the party. Next thing I know, I am being whisked away on the back of a moped to catch the sunset on someone's roof, with a whole group of new friends. The place was called Chalok Bar, and there was a cute used bookshop next door that provided me with plenty of entertainment.

The pristine Chaloklum beach
The main reason I was in Chaloklum was to go diving, and I decided on The Dive Inn, which was a very good decision as it turns out. I had a one to one diving ex…

Bookworm Believer

After the 2016 election results were announced, I started writing and found I couldn't stop. Bookworm Vagabond is mostly an expat/travel blog. It gets personal sometimes, but for the most part, it's a documentation of my journey around the world. This blog didn't feel like the place to post political rants, so I made myself a new space to share my thoughts on humanity, teaching, and social justice.

Bookworm Vagabond is still an exciting project for me, and it's not going anywhere soon. But if you'd like to check out what I've been working on regarding its new sister site, here is the link:

https://bookwormbeliever.blogspot.com/

I'm just getting started with Bookworm Believer, and I have so many other essays and articles planned that I am working on as well. I'm hoping to document the Trump administration in real time, and keep a record of my thoughts on what's occurring politically and socially in the United States. Please check it out, and let me kn…

Winter is Coming

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It has been a full year since I have been back to the States! This is the longest I have gone away from home. Can't believe I haven't seen my brothers, my parents, my old ladies, or my friends in that amount of time. I also haven't driven a car in a year. Yikes! Winter break in Florida is always special- where else can you find pink flamingos wearing Santa hats?

Sibling stockings for a Florida Christmas
Nick and I and our matching hedgehog sweaters
Besides the people, there are some things I really miss that mostly revolve around food. I want to go to World of Beer with my dad, and cook healthy meals with my mom, and have my Aunt Edith's Italian peppers and sausage. I'm sure my brothers and I will go see some blockbuster movie together (last year was Star Wars), and my friends and I will have at least one beach day. I want time on a patio listening to palm trees rustling, and the salty smell of the coast.

Will my people even recognize me? My hair has grown a lot sinc…

Appreciating the Present

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I am eternally nostalgic. In each stage of my life, I’ve longed for the past. When I went to university, I missed my friends from home something fierce. I missed our philosophical conversations, our adventures, and our deep connection. Then I moved to Ecuador, and spent my two years there missing my friends from university. No one would be able to fill the hole in my heart from missing the people who were there for me in my first years of independence. Then I moved to Hong Kong, and quickly realized how much I missed my expat family in Ecuador. Wow, had I taken them for granted. Some of those connections ran much deeper than I had ever acknowledged.

Friends at my talent show birthday party
With neighborhood buddies at the Second Draft Bar in Tai Hang
Friends taking turns with the silly red bucket hat  from my frock swap last year
So I reflect and I learn and I grow. I am surrounded by way too many wonderful people here, more so than I probably deserve. These are people who accept me, who h…

My Flat Was Burgled.

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On the last day of school before summer let out, I went out for a celebratory meal with friends. So, yeah, this was awhile ago, back in June. I decided to be well behaved and was home by 9:30 to get a good night's rest and start packing for summer vacation. When I arrived back at my flat, something felt off as soon as I opened the door. I could hear wind, and my curtains rustling. A window was open; my heart quickly dropped.

Last day of school celebration
I knew immediately what this was- there was bamboo scaffolding around my building and I had seen a burglar climbing down bamboo scaffolding in another neighborhood of Hong Kong before. So I cautiously flipped on the lights and yelled into the darkness, 'HELLO?!'

Imagine my surprise when I heard footsteps. I hadn't been robbed, I was being robbed. That burgling bumbletwit was still in my flat! At this point my lizard brain took over and I darted into the living room, effectively chasing the robber straight out of my win…

My Privilege

When you are in a position of privilege, it’s your responsibility to protect those who don’t benefit from the same privilege. Maybe your religious holidays are recognized by the government, or you don’t need ramps to enter a building, you can walk down the street without being harassed, or role models of your same race are in the media. Not benefiting from one of these can cause harm, whether it's being passed over for a promotion or having your morale slowly chipped away over time. This is why it is so important to use your position of power and privilege to create opportunities for people who have been left behind. Or create a space for them to have their voice heard!

Many of my white, middle to upper class relatives/acquaintances have posted on Facebook recently in support of Trump. There’s a common message of confusion about why the Republican party is being accused of racism, bigotry, and sexism. From their perch, of course the Republican party doesn’t look racist, bigoted, o…

Diving in Brunei

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WOOT WOOT COUNTRY 40! Yep, you read that right, folks. I went to Brunei last week and it was my 40th country. Considering my goal was 30 countries by the age of 30, I think I'm doing pretty well for myself, a couple years ahead of schedule here. My travels are going to be slowing down in the near future though, as I'm Hong Kong based for the next 8 weeks until I go home to Florida for winter break.

On my recent dive trip to my 40th country- Brunei
I didn't see much of Brunei, to be honest. My goal was to complete two more advanced scuba diving specialities, so I wasn't too concerned with what was happening on land. After googling 'diving shipwrecks asia,' Brunei kept coming up as a place to go. Considering there are only two dive shops in the whole country, my choices were limited, and I quickly narrowed it down to Oceanic Quest Dive Shop.

Oceanic Quest Dive Shop
This company uses smaller boats for a more personal experience
The crew at Oceanic Quest goes above an…

The Decaying Grandeur of Yangon

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While in Myanmar, Yangon was my home base. It's is a city of stark contrasts. The meaty sizzle of grilled chicken on the street draws you in, and then the overwhelming stench of raw sewage turns you off. A palatial colonial mansion looms over the street, but upon closer inspection, it is on the brink of collapse after years of disrepair. The city is loud, deafening even, but the gold encrusted pagodas are a vacuum of serenity and stillness.

On a train to Yangon
Sule Pagoda, downtown Yangon
Also Sule Pagoda
The traffic we faced to get anywhere in the city
The crummy sidewalks are all that lies between you  ...and flowing raw sewage 
Yangon will attack your senses and waken them up to a level you never thought possible and then bludgeon them to death. There are sights to behold everywhere, starting with the gorgeous colonial buildings in downtown. Many days could be spent wandering in and out of them. My most special moment in Yangon was ducking into an old colonial palace with original Br…

Should You Travel to Myanmar?

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I was at first concerned about traveling to Myanmar at all given their history in the 20th century as a brutal regime. Oppression, human rights abuses, censorship, and torture are what came to mind when I thought of Myanmar. Then I read The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly, which didn't help the situation. Despite all of that, something about the country intrigued me. Aung San Suu Kyi at least was a beacon of hope, and the government had relaxed a lot in recent years.

Visiting temples and pagodas in Yangon
Travel boycotts can sometimes backfire, as with people refusing to visit North Carolina because of an anti-transgender bill there. This shows a lack of solidarity with those in need of visible support! Exposure to other cultures and perspectives can only open a place up (at least, this is what I told myself in visiting Myanmar). By refusing to visit, you are inflicting a blanket punishment upon people who had no say in the policy that you are protesting. 
Inle Lake in Central Myanmar