contemplation surgery football

New song from the DJ~ listening music for readers

So I come down to the Bay Area to participate in my buddies annual birthday weekend party that includes football, paintball, lots of eating and fellowship with the “dudes.”

Overall it was a good time, and I killed it in football, gaining some 5-6 TD’s, two of which were defensive runbacks and lots of running and catches. For a guy like me, who while being athletic, never plays much football, it was a good day.

Tahoe Trip 2011

Needless to say, the guys were still jonesin for some more football and the following week we got together to play and in the heat of competition, referee and all, I happened to roll my ankle on the turf field and lo and behold, CRACK!

I felt pain immediately sure, I shouted F&##! pretty loudly, I felt in my heart it was broken but didn’t want to believe it. Well, a couple of days later after X-rays, icing, elevation and resting, I found myself in a surgery room, and then waking up after being knocked out from some anesthesia, my fibula or more specifically lateral malleolus fixed with some plates and screws.

Type B happened to me

SO now I write to you in “recovery mode.” It’s gonna be some 4 weeks before the cast comes off and then after that it’ll need some further healing. Luckily, I am being well taken care of by family and friends in the Bay Area.

It’s a different lifestyle for me now to be resting as much now. I’ll be occupying most of this time through writing and making some music hopefully. Reading some books, spending time with my 100-year-old Grandma along with getting time to spend with family is all valuable.

Some of my family taking care of me 🙂

My family has always been pretty close, so needless to say, they are happy that I am around. I have been living the past 3 and a 1/2 years in Seattle and I’ve only spent a few weeks at the house every year so they are happy I’ll be around for a bit. At least till Christmas…

More posts to come….

1111 a time of waking up

Why is it that I see 1111 frequently and at the same time experience significant shifts in my perspective and feeling as I reach the age 30?

What is it about this time in life? Is it just a number or a symbolic time? Mr. Jesus Christ began a journey at 30, I’ve been told “never trust a person over 30” and well, let’s be honest, 30 just doesn’t sound that young anymore. Of course, there will be people who will always tell you “you are young” or “you are old.”

I’ve never cared much for age, I mean so what, you’ve lived a few more days than someone else, does it really make you that much more wiser, beautiful, worthy or intelligent?

So far I’ve noticed shifts as I age, shifts in thinking, and a greater acquirement of experiences, knowledge, people encounters and new feelings. This all adds to the soup of life and it’s wonderful.

TO tell you the truth, I have felt like I am already past thirty and am happy to say, “my twenties were well lived.” I never want to die suddenly knowing that I didn’t live life to the full. For me, I would say, yes, I have lived life to the full. I have attempted to be a loving person, positive, and learn how to better interact with my fellow human being, be it a person who is from any part of the world. I have felt I have come to a good place in having a very good comfortability interacting with just about any person on this planet. But hey, we just reached 7 billion, there’s all sorts of people. Not to say I like everyone deeply, but I always try to impart some positivity or some love to someone. We need as much love as we give to each other on this planet and yes there is an overwhelming amount of darkness out there. Suffering, hurt, pain, death, abuse, betrayal, lies. I’m not living as if it doesn’t exist, I just have decided that I don’t want to dwell on such things and instead focus on the good that exists and that should be the norm instead. Love, care, compassion, community, happiness, eating together, laughing, touch and dancing. Much better, yes?

So I’ve been having this reoccurrence of the number 1111 come up in my life and I’ve been told it is a number that symbolizes “waking up” in a nutshell.

I first came to know of it as I was in my cousin’s art structure at a festival called Burning Man. The art structure was called “Constellation of One.”

The Constellation of one
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Inside I walked in, because you see, there is a secret door. I knew about it having been a supporter of the project prayerfully and financially, but not everyone knew there was…

I hunkered in with a friend and two new friends, and came to meet one "Mr. White."

Now I don't know if Mr. White was an angelic being, a shaman, or just another person walking this planet. But something was special about him. He was extremely kind and welcomed myself and buddies to the inside of the mirrored constellation of one, and together we communed. As we chatted in our circle lit somewhat by electric candles, we talked about the uniqueness of the shape of this structure. It had seemed that the Constellation of One was a sort of mystical shape, found in various cultures. It is known as the "Merkabah."

In Hebrew tradition, the Merkabah is considered a “Chariot of God” and is found in the Hebrew scriptures and in Ezekiel’s vision of the throne of God. I had been familiar with this vision in the past and it was interesting to find so much written about the Merkabah. Some define the Merkabah as a spiritual vehicle to achieve access to the higher realms. Had this been some of the inspiration behind my cousin constructing her art?

My cousin Kirsten and I (right after I walked out from the Constellation of One)

So as we were talking about the significance of the Merkabah, Mr. White also mentioned the significance to the number 1111 and 1112. I told him, “wait did you just say that 1111 was a significant number?” He said “yes, why?” And I said “Well, last night I spent the night in Reno at a hotel and my room number was 1111!” Everyone in the Constellation then went “Whooooaaaaa”

Intriguing. Wonder. Excitement.

Mr. White told me it was very significant and I embraced that it occurred but didn’t dwell on it all too long. I had felt a call to come to this gathering known as Burning Man, and so it was yet another confirmation that indeed Shawn Saleme was supposed to be here at this very moment, in his cousins art project that he had been wanting to see for two years, with friends who had been kind enough to bring some of his supplies and gear down from Seattle and in an environment that already was expanding and enlightening his already existing paradigm of life regarding the social interaction of human beings.

Yes, I was supposed to be here. I felt good, positive, very happy and so very happy to be in this art project of my cousins. You know she did projects like this as a teenager when I was a kid? She would take pieces of mirror and put them on a pyramid like structure with wet tissue! Did you also know she has spent the better part of her life in India, Thailand and Bali teaching Yoga and I never see her?! I was hoping to see her at this 50,000 plus person gathering, but there’s no cell phone coverage, no wifi, no nothing. So if I saw her, great, but if I didn’t, oh well. Maybe in Thailand. 🙂

“The three wise men” (my friends who were dressed as such) and I walked out, thanking Mr. White for his conversation and wisdom and as we walked out of the Constellation of One, my friend asked “I want to meet your cousin man” and as I was ducking out of the doorway I said, “Well I don’t know if I will see her..” and as I turned my head to the right, who was there??? “She is here” I said As I stared with an awe and wonder and joy and yes! I walked straight to her and her partner Mitchell and said in a loud dutch voice with accent and all “IK HOU VAN JOU!” Which means I LOVE YOU!

We hugged, we laughed, we were happy to see each other and be united. You know I only have three first cousins, and our family history is fairly international and eclectic so it was absolutely wonderful to see her when I can and tell her how much I had been enjoying the Constellation of One. I asked her if she had known about the Merkabah and if it provided her the inspiration for her art. She said she found out about it later, but that she didn’t know about it and that she had come up with the design in her dreams.

Intriguing. Wonder. Excitement!

It was time to go! I got on my bike and biked off into the desert….The waking up had begun.

Mitchell and I

to be continued yes?

Pray for me in this time if you consider yourself a prayerful person…

Burning Man & traveling around the USA

Welcome and sit, have some tea, lay back relax…

It’s been a trip, life is a trip, a journey not a destination, and currently this journey is taking me to a hotel lobby computer in Gainesville, Florida. Home of the Gators, mossy old everglade trees and more than a few retirees and college students.

But, pre judgements aside, let’s talk about some of the past experiences and terrains this boy has trekked to recently, because, well that what’s all you peeps wanna hear right?

Well…Since Tahoe Oregon and Seattle, I hopped on a plane on August `19th to Bourbonnais, Illinois. Bout’ an hour south of Chicago, I was there for work and the Step into Africa event. Overall pretty good, we had about 2500 people walk through and 250 children sponsored. That means 250 new relationships and more help to communities in Kenya who suffer from AIDS.

After this event I flew straight to Reno, Nevada. Why Shawn are you flying to Reno, Nevada Shawn? Well I’ll tell ya, I went to BURNING MAN. What is Burning Man Shawn? Burning man is filghasfuiggsogh safjkghauhg dghasuogha sg + 2424 %$%$%@# x 25 {2525} + ghsdh sdgdg hf ijl jlk dfaf.

Looking out on the Playa

I am not going to attempt to put what Burning man is in words, because to tell you the truth, one cannot define it fully and I don’t really want to anyways.

Aerial view of Burning Man 2011. 50,000 were in attendance, maybe a little more..

I’ll say this about it. I felt called beckoned summoned to go and everything worked perfectly to be there. It was sold out, but I did not worry, it was supposed to happen I knew, and a ticket from South Africa floated my way.

I had an amazing time.

It was a very free expressive environment and very communal and loving.

I saw and experienced things that no place on our planet can offer.

It was magical and as a people person I was vibing out the entire week. LOVED IT.

I met some wonderful people, saw my cousin and her art structure, made new friends, and learned a little tuli.

I experienced instant deep friendship with an amazing person.

Pirate ship docked. You could go fishing off this dock...

So yeah. Put aside your stereotypes of burning man if you have them. You can’t anticipate what will happen when you are there. I felt God throughout the whole week and had extremely clear signs and serendipitous moments that it is hard for me now not to believe that God was not there. In fact when I thought the thought, would Jesus be here? My eyes instantly focused on an individual dancing in a white robe with a beard and long hair. Guess he was there~!

After experiencing the burn, I came back to Reno jazzed and feeling like I had just traveled outside the country for the first time. I had to seriously plan my re-adjustment back so as not to fall victim to a reverse culture shock.

In some ways, I wish we could be as friendly and free as the burning man environment provided. Be yourself, express yourself and enjoy life and share with others. Well for one week that can happen, and if anyone wants to join next year, I am planning on going again. I thought this would be a once in a lifetime event, and I was proved wrong in thinking that. This is something I will likely go to for the next few years.

Post Burning man, Austin Texas. Great event again, 477 children sponsored (which means about $750,000 raised for Africa) and I got to meet a argentine DJ I like by the name of Federico Aubele. Chill guy.

Just got back from Sacramento from another stop. 185 children sponsored and over 2000 people through. Now onto Gainesville.

alright, I need to get something to eat.

CIAO

ps. The burning man theme was “Rites of Passage.” In ways, this was a rite of passage for me.

Friends at the camp. Miguel, Paolo, Sala & Muscarella!

ART @ BURNING MAN, Wanna see more?? Check this website (I think his photography captures in a way what the environment is like.)

http://www.scottlondon.com/photo/burningman/index.html

Reflections post TRIP and the beginning of Stateside writing

strong>Hey Y’all

Well it’s been about 3 weeks since I arrived back in the United States of America and it has been nice. I am thankful to have friends who want to hear about my trip, want to take me out to dinner or an adventure. Over the years my friends know that I am a guy who is always down for adventures and so far I’ve been able to go waterskiing and paddleboarding in Lake Tahoe, chop down brush in the middle of the Central Oregon Forest, pick blackberries and raspberries in the Northwest, go sailing in Seattle and roadtrip from San Francisco to Seattle. Guess the traveling hasn’t stopped yet!

Lake Tahoe Summer Time
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One of my best homies, Pawl Clauson

You know sometimes things just work out. You can plan all you want, but at times, I prefer to just have faith. Being the spiritual individual I am, I try to experiment and see just how much one can rely on faith while also acknowledging the “reality.”

So, for example. I felt like driving or taking a train back up from San Francisco, which is where my family lives, to get to Seattle. I am tired of flying to be honest with you. No more baggage checks, airport waiting etc. I want to get in a car and ROADTRIP. That is something quite unique to the US actually. We love to roadtrip and I missed it while I was gone in Asia a bit. So, hey it’s primetime summer, let’s get roadtripping!

For those who do not know, it can be fairly easy to catch a ride up on Craigslist.com rideshares. You find a post that echoes of some driver who seems somewhat cool and email for a ride. You pitch in part for gas and get to your destination. There are interesting conversations that can happen and it’s a cordial experience. Try it sometime.

I was looking at some rides and there were plenty, but wasn’t feeling that this was the time to do a rideshare. While I was looking one of my friend messaged me and said he was driving up to Portland and if I wanted to tag along. Well shoot, catch a ride with a buddy is even better! From Portland I caught a ride up with some summer snowboard hippies. Guess that faith thing really worked. There is something to be said about it and intuition. I don’t try to figure it out and map it though, I accept the mystery.

Out in the Oregon forest with my good friend Brian Swift Dogg
Oregon is really beautiful. Wonderful and magical forests.
Swift's lil' one, Nali, 4 and a half years old. Self Portrait 🙂

So Kevin and I drove up, and we went up to stay with my friend Brian Swift. Brian is a good ole’ buddy of mine from my university days as an anthropology undergrad student. Back then, Swift and I used to take all sorts of adventures, usually incorporating something new and unique and some form of nature. Swift moved to Missouri for some time, and was missed, but now has returned to his home state of Oregon and so I have gotten to see him more recently. Brian really has a unique perspective of the world. He sees things and knows things about nature more than anyone I know. Being with him is always memorable and an educational experience really. I grew up in the woods, so I always love to hear more about how ecosystems function and how forests, rivers and wildlife live.

Well, last year Kevin was motorcycling up and down the west coast and asked me if I could hook him up with anyone on the Oregon coast to stay with. Well, I hooked him up with Brian and now here we are a year later both coming up to see him! I love how connections work like that. Let’s expand the circles….

Nali and I watching Wa Wa woozy kids show.
Friends Darim and David come abroad the boat for a nice day of SeaFair!

Post Reflections on the Asia trip….

*Asia was wonderful again, love the family allegience and community that exists there.

*America, though going through a tough economic phase, is still a great land for opportunity. Make the most of your opportunities here.

*America is also BIG. We got lots of beautiful land.

*America, is also…Comfortable. But that’s nothing new to me, it’s just so much easier to live around here. Lots of organization everywhere, but hey, we are an industrial nation.

It is wonderful to be back in sunny Seattle, swimming everyday in the lake, and sailing. I am about to go for a sail in 10 minutes, so I am OUT, but keep on living and enjoying the summer!

I just came across a cool quote I would like to share with you…

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the things you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Mark Twain –

Botanical gardens of Bogor, Indonesia. Brian says this tree is a female~
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Thanks for reading y'all.

Shawn

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.

To all my friends

To all my friends..

Thank you for keeping in touch with me while I travel. It’s really quite a bit easier to keep in touch these days as a traveler. Anyone can text, call, skype, or email. This wasn’t always the case. People sent postcards and saw each other when they did. 🙂

I remember going to slow internet cafes in 2002, there were no cell phones that worked internationally and expensive phone cards could be bought every once in a while to call home.

Now, you can buy a sim card for cheap, call in country to anyone you need to get in touch with and Skype call to your friends off your phone for 3 cents a minute. It works well for the traveler.

So Wanna see some pictures?

Getting some climbing in at a Japanese guesthouse.
In a village
Well for children at school to drink at

I spent about 10 days in Siem Reap, soaking in the culture, making friends with the local Cambodians and expatriates, visiting some of the rural villages and of course, Angkor Wat was enjoyed for a couple of days.

Travel for me isn’t just to “see” places and do “cool” activities. You can go see the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids and the Great Wall and while they are amazing feats of engineering, the reality is that they are all overcrowded with tourists everyday. I did enjoy seeing them all, but after a while, most of the famous monuments of this world start to look the same.

For me, travel isn’t even travel. Travel is living for me. At some point in your travel life, you evolve from a tourist to what I term a “global citizen.” We are all on this planet together, let’s learn from each other, and help each other as needed. The world is large…There are over 260 countries, tens of thousands of languages, a vast array of cuisine, music and environment. A wealth of ideas, businesses and family structures. Relationships, love and marriage looks different everywhere.

One thing to factor in this life is the physical ability we all may or may not currently have going for us. For me, as a man going onto 30 years, I am still quite active and have all my physical and mental abilities intact and strong. While I still have use of all these faculties, I plan to use them while I can and do “adventurous” things like travel around Asia. My “creature comforts” have not settled in yet, though I expect they will in time.

Once you have your own family, these circumstances change yes. Once you get over 40, you may begin to have some physical issues. One of the top things people said to their caregivers while on their deathbed, was “I wish I lived out my dreams and did what I could when I was physically able to.” If you wait till retirement, unfortunately, it may be too late. Live your dreams now. You may think it’s difficult now, but you have to think differently. Anything can happen.

I have seen much of the world already, I recognize I have a unique vision and voice, and my current goal is to expand and sharpen that vision, build partnerships with other like-minded individuals and groups for future collaboration and support, and to just simply give some love, however possible, to a country that is limited and being tied down.

Sambath, a good friend I made. He started a school to bring education to 1400 children.

There are others in the world, who are committed to seeing people helped. Simple things like basic education are lacking in a country like Cambodia. Teachers will get paid $40 a month, and they may only be interested in the paycheck, not the real education of the kids. If the kids suffer from abuse at home, who can they turn to? Will the education they receive from the state really do anything for their future? Likely not.

I met a man named Sambath and he showed me his school he started. Kids in Cambodia go to the state school from either 7am-1pm or 1pm to 7pm.

They then can go to an additional school in their free time. This is the school that Sambath created. In it, kids have specific focus tracks like english, computers, sports, agriculture or teaching. 700 kids come in the morning, and 700 kids come in the afternoon. There are about 30 teachers, some of which are foreigners.

I visited the school and enjoying seeing “real change” in action. Here, children could really have an opportunity to build specific skills beyond what the state could provide. They were happy on the campus, they had fresh water from the wells at the school and materials and resources to learn from. I played some soccer with the kids and had a blast. Reminded me of when I played soccer with kids in Mexico back when I first starting doing volunteer trips.

Water anyone?

I am continuing to be blessed while here in Cambodia. I have connected with people from YWAM here, which was an organization I used to work for. I had stayed with contacts in YWAM in the town of Battambang for 4 nights, and when I left Battambang for Siem Reap, I ended up running into them again! The funny thing is, I was hanging out with another YWAM group, and so I connected them together! Funny how things work like that, but they’ve happened so much in my life, I don’t react as crazy as I used to, I just smile slightly and go about my way.

Thanks for reading

My buddy Samboan taking a break while enjoying a cool beverage.

Ywamers driving down to Phnom Penh

Another Update

Another update, here we are, or rather here am I, sitting at a computer room of my small hotel, feeling a bit sweaty and warm, tanktop and boardshorts on, I think there’s a small mosquito trying to get acquainted with my feet…Ah Cambodia.

Well, after four nights in Battambang I have hopped a four dollar four hour bus to Siem Reap. For those of you that do not know, Siem Reap is home to the famous temples of ANGKOR WAT.

Wat is Angkor you ask?

Well, it is a magnificent spreadout of Cambodian temple across a few miles. It was built for a King some 800 years ago, and for as long as I can remember, I have had a desire to visit these temples.

Angkor Wat

I still recall as a young boy looking at geographical books and seeing pictures of the temples and the huge faces that were built in them. It looked quite exotic and still intact over the hundreds of years. While growing up and strengthening my travel curio, I always thought someday I will visit Angkor Wat and when my friends who had visited the temples said, “have you been there?” and “You need to see it,” I politely and calmly said, “yes someday I will get there.”

Well, my friends, the time has come!

My next post will likely be about the temples and experiences with my Tuk Tuk driver, Lee, who I got acquainted with today and who I hired in a couple days to be my driver, since these temples are spread around. Unless, you’re an avid guru hiker from say, the Northwest, I would suggest hiring a Tuktuk. Plus, I was recommended to do so by a trusted traveler friend of mine. Word of mouth travel advice from your travel friends is the best, let me tell ya.

I just wanted to let you know about some of the conversations I’ve been having while in Cambodia. Most of my purpose here is to see how people here live, how they make a living, what their dreams are, what stories of their life has already been written. People from all backgrounds.

One story I would like to share is of a girl named Tien Tien. My German roommate Hannis had returned from a day of touring and “shooting.” Yes, in Cambodia, for 40 bucks you can shoot a round of ammo in an AK-47. Wanna go bigger? Why not check out some of the machine guns, for about 100, still not big enough to satisfy your ego? Bazooka, $350.

Wow, this is the greatest thing I have ever done!

Anyways, yeah things like that can happen here. Personally, I don’t care to participate as I’m somewhat against the transportation of arms into these areas. But nonetheless, after you’ve had a nice day of shooting, you get a free pitcher of local beer at their pub which is located in the city. Since Hannis had no one to share in this ritual with him, he invited me and I hesitantly accepted.

When we walked in, we immediately noticed a few local girls outside and inside the pub and we wondered just what kind of pub was this, but we decided to drink our free pitcher and then split after that.

As I was sitting there, a girl came to sit next to me and so I started up conversation. I found out her name was Tien Tien and she was from Vietnam. Immediately my mind went to, “how did she get here?” “Was she trafficked?” “What’s the story?” She was nice enough, and I didn’t feel like she was a prostitute but more like a hired “hostess.” These are girls that are hired to chat to customers like me, and encourage them to buy more drinks.

I find out Tien Tien comes from a fairly rural area in Vietnam and works here in Cambodia to provide for her Mama and Papa back home. She is the eldest of three girls and so the responsibility to provide for the family falls on her. And when jobs are limiting to women in an area like South East Asia, you take what you can get.

As I ask questions about her family, her education, and her life, she realizes I’m not just some ignorant guy that comes to get drunk and shoot guns. She tells me she speaks from her heart, pointing to her chest and tells me her dreams to open a cafe in her area. She tells me she stopped going to school at 10 and that she used to transport large amounts of food in baskets on her head in Cambodia and Vietnam. The other Cambodian girls laugh a bit at this story and she shows me a small bald spot on her head because of the work.

I ask her what would it take to fund her cafe business and she says it would cost $4,000. I say, you’d like a nice cafe yes? She replies yes. I ask the Cambodian girl behind the bar, what is your dream? She says, to go to university, I say why not now? She tells me she need $400 to go for a year and she doesn’t have it. This is her second job, as with all the other girls.

As I continued conversation, I learned that it wasn’t that these girls wanted to be here, but it was a second job that paid all right. ($2.50 for the 8 hour shift) They work hard to move up. I couldn’t help but think, man couldn’t I get these girls a loan, could I even fund it myself for them with accountability?

It’s tougher when you don’t have male siblings to take the responsibility to provide for your parents when they get old. There’s no social security or pensions going on here. I got Tien Tiens contact info so I could forward her micro lending banks in the Vietnam area. Maybe they can help her with a loan.

Another quick story I have is of a man I met in Battambang named Tsauh. I asked him what he did on his free day on Sunday and he told me he cut down coconuts to make necklaces and earrings. I asked why? And he said that he is making the jewelry so he can make enough money to pay for his wedding, which is a requirement in order to take a woman as your bride. In a way it is a “brideprice,” but it is required that in order to take the woman as your wife, you need to provide for the wedding. You pay this to the brides family, they make the wedding arrangements.

So he needs to raise $2,500. Which isn’t exactly chump change here in Cambodia. He’s selling the jewelry for 2-3 dollars a piece. I said “look man, I can get that sold in the states for 20-30 dollars a piece, let me take pictures of your stuff with the story and you can marry your girl.” I’m all about LOVE! He was interested by my proposition, so I took photos today of his work and am looking to post it up on Etsy, Zazzle or some other art site. I may talk to my African homie who runs a shop in Seattle to sell his stuff too. Check the photos below, maybe you’re interested!

As I travel, I think there are all kinds of stories of people who have dreams but lack resources. I have seen a lot, met a lot of people and can make things happen. So, I do what I can as I travel. And I carry this mantra with me wherever I am at life. It feels good to help another, and in these parts, help is needed a lot more than at home.

It’s nice to have my own room with some privacy. Travel tip #2322, remember to get solo rest every so often. Considering I’ll be doing some heavy sightseeing in the next couple of days, it’s due.

Longer post, thanks for reading. Here are some photos~~~

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“Shawn, are you alive??”

Hello?

Yes, yes, Everything is good and fine, wow it’s been 10 days since I posted, a lot has been happening in Korea.

So I spent the first 7 days of Korea in Seoul, the largest city in the country, then 4 days in Busan, the second largest city and Gyeongju, a historical and cultural rural area in the central areas. Some highlights included:

The FOOD

Samgyeopsal, well known Korean dish

The food here in Korea has been a great experience. We all eat, but in Korea, eating is an integral part of the culture and eating together at restaurants sitting around sharing is the norm. Actually, now that I think about it…I don’t think I have ordered in a restaurant that had single items for each person. It’s always been sharing together.

The table comes with a myriad of small dishes comprising of kimchi, sprouts, garlic, lettuce leaves and other types of vegetables. This almost comes as a standard to any restaurant, sort of like your basket of bread and butter equivalent in the states.

Wow. I have eaten well my friends. In fact, a way to say “how are you” in Korea is to say “have you eaten?” This isn’t to imply, “have you eaten, are you hungry” but rather, “Have you been eating well recently.” So, to answer your question, YES. I have been eating well.

I’ve been eating all kinds of meats to grill, pork, beef, bacon, chicken. Kimchi (pickled cabbage, radish and spices) tofu, fishes, all kinds of vegetable dishes, soups, rices. It’s all been good.

Eating Kimchi Jiggae with my Cousin!

Music and nightlife

So with every international city, there is a different form of how people interact when the sun goes down. In Korea, many places stay open late at night and it can easily be written off as a city that never sleeps. Restaurants, cafes, lounges, pubs are all open. I was able to see one the most world famous DJ’s here in Seoul. His name is Deadmau5, and it was a very cool evening~

Good times

Historical Sites

I’ve been to my fair share of historical sites during this trip. So far I’ve been to a palace, a couple Buddhist temples, the Kings tombs, a 7th Century observatory, The original clan dwellings of the Kim and Choi families (VERY common Korean last names) amongst other sites. All have been a pleasure to learn about and see how a country that is 5,000 years old has survived and developed.

Some pictures of Historical places:

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So, it’s been two weeks now since I’ve been in Korea. I have connected with 7 of my friends here in the country. 4 that are Korean and three that are American. I’ve also connected with my cousin, who lives in Thailand most of the year and was on a layover! Great to be with friends and family. I also was able to visit my organizations office in Korea, meeting with many of my fellow colleagues who are bringing help to children.

Welcome to World Vision Korea

Thanks for reading, I fly out tomorrow~ Next stop…..

Departures

I just watched a wonderful movie called “Departures.”

The Japenese and English covers

It’s a Japanese film and it touches on themes of fate, life, death, relationship, family and departing this earth. It really was a touching film, I had been wanting to watch it since it won the best foreign film award a few years ago. I picked it up for a little over a dollar here in China, and this afternoon I was in need of a movie relaxing moment and this was the perfect choice.

When traveling for some time, it is good to have those moments where you remember who you are and remember what your country is like, friends, or family. Yesterday I phoned a good friend of mine in Oregon just to chat and it was very refreshing. I’ve been on the road now for over three weeks, and I’ve been finding myself eating some western food, calling a buddy, and watching a movie. It’s due and why not? It’s the International labor day weekend in China, so I’ll take a labor day myself. 🙂

Yesterday I visited the DiTan hospital in Beijing. Specifically, I was welcomed and given a tour of the facilities of the Infectious Disease Division. Here is where physicians treat patients who are in advanced stages of AIDS. As I walked the corridors, I glanced at people who were in bed, looking tired and worn, sometimes with a family member next to them. Many of these patients come from far away provinces, as DiTan hospital is one of the best facilities in the country to treat infectious disease.

I was given an audience of the Chief Physician of the ward, along with two other Doctors. For some time, we discussed all topics relating to AIDS, prevention methods, Government policy, treatments, history, sexual behaviors, research and other stories. It was a very fruitful meeting and I was glad to be able to make friendships with the physicians of this ward, who everyday, serve the individuals who are stricken with AIDS.

I am contemplating visiting more hospitals and clinics in China. Thailand should provide some interesting experiences relating to AIDS work, when I make my way to Bangkok next month God willing.

Thank you for your prayers and thoughts of encouragement as I trek around. “Fate” is evident in my day-to-day life, and I have met some great people and been guided so to say. It’s always a peaceful feeling, when it happens, because you know you are where you are supposed to be at that very moment. And that’s beautiful. I truly believe that this happens more often when you have a community of people praying for you. While I cannot measure it, I have seen many times how my life changes when I send an email to a group of people committing to pray for me everyday while I travel. It’s actually one of my “secrets” you could say. Try it out sometime, see what happens. 🙂

Well, Beijing is good, food is good, life is good. I think I should do a post just on the food. It really is amazing. Especially the Beijing Duck. Quack.

mmmmmm......duck

Ciao for now

Shawn