Some further reflections and some long promised photos..

Further reflections as I sit back in the morning weather of Northern California…Quiet, my dog is still sleeping, sun is shining on the leaves of trees…It’s Sunday, many are sleeping in..

Ah, back in California and the America. It is really organized out here. :) We have good roads all over, signs, a sense of order. It is convienent and offers opportunities to get your tasks done quickly and make the most of your time. Compared to some of the places I just visited, it seems very relaxed.

When I come back from a trip, I try to apply the things I learned from the trip and not immediately forget what I just experienced and get back to daily life again in the US. I believe each trip abroad has it’s own learnings and purposes. Every trip I have ever been on has expanded my worldview, bestowed me with other ideas and creativity and grown me as a person.

Some things I’ve learned on this trip from each nation I went to..

*China is changing with it’s growing middle class and more expressive younger population. (Remember thirty years ago, everyone only wore green, blue and grey)

*Korea is an industrial powerhouse nation that considering how poor it was 60 years ago to today is impressive to say the least. Koreans work long hours.

*Cambodia is a country that in many ways is uneducated, but is growing. Women need more opportunities available to them so they don’t have to be exploited. Angkor Wat is beautiful. Laid back atmosphere.

*Thailand is the most touristy country I visited, Bangkok is big and funky. Chiang Mai is nice.

*Malaysia. Only went to Kuala Lumpur, and it was a clean city. Lots of Chinese influence.

*Indonesia. The most hospitable people on earth I have encountered.

PHOTOS

View from the room in Bangkok
Bangkok Rivers
On the way to Malaysia via train
Family riding
At the Savoy Homann Hotel, a ritzy hotel my family used to socialize at back in the 1920's
In a Javanese restaurant
At the Botanical Gardens of Bogor
Hindi Temple in Bogor
Loving the water on my head
My good friends in Indonesia
Time to go home

Thanks for all the reading and encouragment. Who knows where I may go next~

I’ll post some personal learnings nexttime

The Last post of the trip, Back again in USA

It is finished. The trip has come to a close and it is probably good that I write now from San Francisco while my memories are fresh. Sure some memories will remain forever, but let’s do a recap shall we?

Three and a half months, trekking, living, meeting, adventuring, loving, watching, playing, writing, reflecting, laughing, swimming, jumping and smiling.

Yes yes, it has come to a close. But you know, to me, going to Asia for this time is just like any other place I would go to and come back. Traveling is so normal to me now that I don’t ever feel that “reverse culture shock” that many people who do travel for a while and come back experience. I experienced that feeling back in 2002 coming back from Tibet. And I ended up engaging in various forms of escapism to amend those feelings. The feelings and realities of differences in societies. The difference between the simple nomadic herder lifestyle and the middle class american lifestyle, the thoughts of what really is important in life, what makes humans happy and content.

Sure it rocked my world for a while, and as I continued to travel trip after trip, my understanding of the global village increased and I became more of a global citizen as opposed to solely an American. There are observations of mine that have been strengthened again on this trip.

One thing about all the Asian countries I went to on this trip is the importance of Family. Family is the core. When growing up you respect your elder family members and support your family. When you come of age, you make a living and give some if not all your salary to your family. When your parents get older, you support them. After all, they supported you for many years.

That can be a big difference between the states and Asia. In America, sometimes people are anxious to “get out of the house.” To be free as a bird, do what you want, when you want and however you want. Individualism. It is a strong aspect of our American identity. Is it really a virtue though?

We are all very different. We all have different physical forms sure, but also different mental capabilities, thoughts, experiences and upbringings. Combined, we can make beautiful things. Like an orchastra or a beef vegetable stew, like a painting with many colors or a garden, things individually have their own beauty, but things combined become even more beautiful.

Maybe this is the true natural way we were supposed to live. When we work together great things can be accomplished. And sure, many work together everyday, but do we really LIVE with each other? Do Americans really trust their neighbors, have them over for dinner often, take care of others in the community, even providing financial support if necessary?

I really have come to appreciate the communal form of living. The idea that one is a part of a group and the group is the identity. The idea that we are always there for one another, if one suffers, we suffer, if one rejoices, we rejoice. Life never really gets boring in a scenario like this, because each member of that community brings something unique to the table and each member is growing like a tree, blossoming, or dying and everyone is there for everyone.

There are ways of living around the world that all vary. It is good to experience it and see what type of life you may want to live.

I decided a long time ago that getting a steady job, buying a home and working out in my local gym, wasn’t the lifestyle I desired. I’m sorry, but it’s just too boring. Sure, if I want it, I can have it at any time. And someday I will build my home, or buy one, but it’s sure as hell not going to be a tract home that looks like everyone else on the street. Natural building has caught my attention and living off the grid appeals to me much more than living on it. When the economy crashes and panic ensues, I’ll be self sustainable. Already I am on a sailboat. :)

Okay, enough digression, back to the Asia trip. Family was core, yes. Respecting elders, valuing food, sharing meals with friends, yes. I love Asia. You know this is fourth time I have been back? It is my favorite continent (sorry Europe). Asia has so much to offer and so much to see, do, eat, learn and experience.

The trip has been amazing, though for me, it’s just living. Wherever I go, I try to love on people, try new things, experience the rapid change our world is experiencing these days in different environments and make friends. Friendship is beautiful. Friendship will always be there for you in your old age. It will still bring smiles to your face. If you are old and decrepid, in a wheelchair, all you have to do is taste that cup of tea, eat that certain dish or listen to that song that was part of the original memory you made so long ago. Then you are transported back to that time, to that place, to that person and you sit back, smile and thank God for everything.

Indo Indo

Hey friends, family and fellow bloggers,

It’s about time I post again, but when you are enjoying your atmosphere so much, getting on the internet doesn’t seem so appealing. But, I get a free 30 minutes here at the local KFC (they are all over Asian cities) where they have three computers. How convenient.

So currently I am in Bogor, Indonesia. Home to one of the most famous botanical gardens in the world, it is what attracted me here and I have to say, there were some amazing trees and all sorts of variations of nature I had never seen before. It’s wonderful to see all the forms of this planet. I’ll be sure to post some pictures later.

Bandung

I have spent the past week exploring the town my family used to make its home for many years, Bandung. Nicknamed the “Paris of Java,” it is a charming town though it suffers now from an over population of people. Indonesia is the 4th most populated country in the world following China, India and USA.

The weather has been great, all around 67-83 degrees fahrenheit. I have visited the same places my grandparents and great grandparents used to frequent and I am getting a much better idea of what sort of lifestyle my family had lived these 70 plus years ago.

The trip shall soon wind down as I need to go back to the states for work with World Vision and assisting with some summer projects, some of which include working and sailing my boat and doing some landscaping with the family in California.

I have been hanging with local Indonesians everyday and the couchsurfing group here is the strongest one yet I have encountered. They are a fun and hospitable bunch.

Ciao!

INDONESIA BABY

Welcome to Indonesia!

It is so good to be here. I write to you from Bandung, where my family used to live before WWII. Yes, for those of you who do not know, I have Asian descent, both genetically and culturally. For most of my life, I grew up eating Indonesian cuisine and learning about the history and many stories of Dutch colonial life in Indonesia.

Now while I am not for colonialism and occupation of countries, it was fascinating to learn of how my family used to live in Bandung, Java before the war and Japanese occupation. It was utopic to say the least.

Nice homes, nice cars, social gatherings, dances, equestrian shows all surrounded by a beautiful mountain range with hot springs, waterfalls and rainforest. Paradise really.

My Oma, who lived the first 40 years of her life here still vividly remembers the times she spent here and the pictures of this time 60-100 years ago attest to the good times. She still is alive today at 100 and was very happy I am here in Bandung.

Yesterday I went to Braga street, which is a main street here in Bandung. There I had a nice sausagebiscuit (typical dutch pastry) and sweet coffee. Yes! My great-grandfather used to come here everyday and here I am, sipping on the same recipes that he had a century ago.

I am stoked to be here, it feels like home really. And my couchsurfing friend Freddy hooked me up with all his buddies here, so I have like 7 personal tourguides and hosts! Thanks Freddy! For those of you not familiar with the community of couchsurfing, get familiar. It will change your world, and if you are one of those who cannot get the time to travel, going to a couchsurfing group meet will make you feel like you are in a coffeeshop or pub anywhere in the world because of the diverse mix of nationalities that attend.

I’m going to post photos in time, but I’m soaking in the Java lifestyle. Later today I am going to visit a tea house that our family owned before we immigrated to Holland. Can’t wait.

Ciao!

Shawn