March 22, 2016
If more people knew the heart-wrenching reality behind elephant trekking, I believe it would be removed from more bucket lists… because the truth is crushing. Literally.
September 16, 2015
Singapore may be rich economically, but it’s also rich in flavors from around the world.
February 17, 2015
Yoga challenge accepted!
November 25, 2014
Floating at Bangkok Float Center was a unique, introspective, gravity-defying experience. Sensory deprivation is not as scary as it sounds, and it has so many benefits, like promoting deep relaxation and increasing creativity.
September 23, 2014
Thinking about volunteering in Vietnam? Vietnam Friendship Village is a welcoming community dedicated to caring for those who have been affected by Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant that was sprayed heavily during the Vietnam War and has caused a huge amount of health problems in Vietnam.
February 19, 2014
Angkor Wat, the largest religious structure in the world, and the surrounding temple complexes serve as symbols of endurance and strength. They helped me to see beauty in moments of pain. It’s hard to capture the grandeur of Angkor, but here are my favorite pictures.
November 26, 2013
The celebration of Loi Krathong embraces the act of ‘letting go’ by releasing a krathong into the water and simultaneously apologizing to the water for the pollution. Although ironic, there is something very soothing about this day… especially when you need to let go.
November 10, 2013
Traveling to Myanmar (Burma) is a tough decision. Undoubtedly, if you choose to go, some of your money will support the government, which has long oppressed its people and denied them of basic rights. Here are my tips for spending money wisely and preparing for your trip.
August 23, 2013
After riding an elephant up to Amber Fort in India, I regretted being the reason why the elephant was whacked on the head and kicked the entire way. I didn’t enjoy the ride from the minute I knew that the elephant was abused, and I won’t ride one as a tourist attraction again. I tend to not partake in attractions and shows at an animal’s expense; however, on a recent field trip with my students, I found myself sitting through several disconcerting animal shows at Safari World in Bangkok. I did not enjoy seeing orangutans dressed up in skimpy human clothing and mimicking human activities like boxing. No sir. Nor did I enjoy watching elephants labor through crowd-pleasers like painting, playing soccer, and standing up. I find this humanization to be strange and unsettling. Whats more unsettling during elephant shows is the continual use of the bullhook, which is a sharp metal hook that is used to jab the elephant in sensitive areas to get it to perform some sort of task; it serves as a prompt for the sake of entertaining humans. Most people don’t even realize this subtle whack to the elephants is continually taking place; they are too taken with the excitement of the show to realize that it’s what keeps the show going. However, because I have been made aware of elephant abuse from several other blogs like this one and this one, I was on the edge of my seat- and not because the show was enthralling. I was hopelessly fixated on the bullhooks that always hover close to the elephants. I stared at the men holding the bullhooks who show no mercy, willing them not to strike the elephants too hard, and flinching on behalf of the elephants when it happened (often times in sensitive spots like on their head, behind their ears, or under their trunks). This is their way of continually showing dominance and control over these large, majestic creatures. Yes, these shows can be entertaining, especially for children who are giddy to see these wild animals up close. Elephant shows, and animal shows in general, are a huge worldwide industry which draw families and couples from all races. However, major entertainers, such as Ringling Bros are notorious for brutal, violent training sessions that baby elephants must go through. If more people were aware of what it takes to put on an elephant show, they certainly would not enjoy it. Like me, they may be too focused on the violent, archaic methods used to get the elephant to perform. Seeing a marvelous creature like a elephant coerced into twirling a hoola-hoop on its truck, walk across a tight rope, and kick a soccer ball into a goal is just so pathetic and unnatural. As a general rule of thumb, if an animal attraction involves a bull hook or other prop used to inflict pain, then it’s not worth it to me. There are several elephant rehabilitation centers in Thailand, which are dedicated to providing refuge and care for elephants who have been used for such shows, street begging, etc. I would love to volunteer at one of these centers; it’s a great option for people who want to interact with elephants without exploiting and harming them. I don’t believe that you can see a show more beautiful and exciting than an animal thriving in its natural habitat. When is the last time you saw animals performing? Did you enjoy it?
May 25, 2013
“A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that “individuality” is the key to success.” -Robert Orben I felt it too…. The sameness. Graduation was far less bittersweet to me than it was… refreshing. I grew tired of the same places, the same small conversations about people rather than ideas. Although I enjoyed my college years tremendously, the time spent with my sorority sisters, and the larger close-knit multicultural greek community I was apart of, I was ready to jump out into world! The months leading up to graduation brought disappointments and cancellations of prior plans. I had been excited about the prospect of being accepted to ‘Teach for America’, and then teaching English in Chile; however, they were both great opportunities rather than what I was meant to do. Fortunately, I was raised to know that the universe had something better in store for me. My plans manifested themselves in the form of my highest, truest, what-I-was-meant-to-do job… a teaching job in Thailand! I am now working at Satit Kaset International Program, a small, elite K-8 bilingual demonstration school. With my 3rd grade class, I will enjoy freedom with lessons, as I am encouraged to be an innovative educator. I will be working alongside a Thai teacher, who will greatly emphasize Thai culture, and another seasoned American teacher who has been teaching at Satit Kaset for over 10 years. Aren’t you scared to teach abroad? I was asked a lot. To be quite honest, I was far less scared of this exotic, unknown experience than teaching in America’s system of education where I feel stifled by scripted curriculum, overwhelmed, and overworked. And I was only a student teacher. After 4 long, long, long years in college, I am finally a graduate, and I have moved onto thrilling things! I am so excited for this opportunity and my pending experiences here in Thailand. Although I had been looking forward to this experience, it came coupled with the sadness of leaving someone I am in love with. With heavy hearts, my boyfriend and I said our goodbyes, both of us nervous for the trials of a long distance relationship, excited for the opportunities coming our individual ways, and confident that things will work out as they are meant to be. I have been in Thailand for 5 days now; my mouth has already been exposed to some delicious concoctions, and I start my first day of teaching tomorrow! I can’t wait to keep you all updated! Coming soon… a tour of my Bangkok apartment!
March 8, 2012
VFP continues to be my number one choice, because I know I am traveling not only as a volunteer, but as an activist united with passionate organizations who strive to make this world a little better. With over 30,000 volunteers exchanged already, the roots of these projects have taken a stronghold, and they continue to provide solutions for tomorrow.
February 22, 2012
India is a land where nothing ever comes together, but nothing ever quite falls apart either. Even though every day was an incessant love-hate relationship, looking back I can remember nothing but feeling that India felt more like home to me than I had ever known.
February 14, 2012
The adventures in foreign countries provide you with a fistful of memories which you will clutch ferociously in you hands for a lifetime. Not the kind that make u cringe, either… the kind that leave a warmth on your heart and a smile on your face.
January 28, 2012
Pura Vida is a stability and steadiness of all opposites. It comes down to a very simple equation, which is really a question that wish I could ask myself more: How can I do this outdoor work most efficiently so that my hammock time is maximized? It’s finding that sweet balance of working hard, and relaxing just as hard.
December 27, 2011
Globalization: it’s happening, & the fight against it is not worth it. However, we can preserve the integrity and character of every location by cherishing our connections with those around us, and of course, savoring the little things.