It has been a month. The first chapter of this exciting trip is coming to an end. New adventures are ahead. We have two more nights in Bangkok before we head off to Beijing for a week. Some things about Beijing that may or may not be true:
They are hosting the Olympics: Technically I guess they are. We heard that they are trying to tear down the old slums and put up new and modern buildings so that the city looks better. This might be the last time to see the old Beijing.
The pollution is so bad that some athletes are refusing to compete in Beijing. The marathon might be moved to another city.
The Chinese government is trying to combat pollution. The government is pulling cars off the road. One million cars. A third of all the cars in the country. A thousand cars are sold every day in China according to this article. They are also doing cloud seeding. You know, modifying the weather to force it to rain. Of course the silver iodide that you blast into the air via rockets or dump from airplanes might also come raining down on your city and its inhabitants, but don’t worry about that.
Governments do weird things. America is a good example. But I can’t get into that at the moment. We have had lots of conversations with people all over the world and I think that some of them are actually surprised that we don’t agree with what our government does. Anyway, while in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam I have noticed things that seem unusual to me. At a market over the weekend, we saw them collecting tables and chairs that people were using to sell their goods. Apparently, it was forbidden to sit in a chair with your stuff on a table. You had to sit on the ground. They were also looking for counterfeit or stolen goods. People were stashing swiss army knives, hatchets, and clothing, when they saw the government truck pull up. If the officials saw any contraband items, they took them and put them in the back of their truck. The police have sticks that they point at people that are disobeying the law. I think. It is very difficult to determine what laws exist here. If they exist they are broken all the time. People pee on trees in large cities. They cook their food in the street. Literally burning anything they find, and cooking, all while on the sidewalk, or street. The typical driving speed: As fast as you can. Try to pass the person in front of you, at all costs.
Some history: Because the French had such a strong influence in Viet Nam, people build their houses as if they were living in Paris, still. Because land is so expensive in Paris (or any large city) people would buy a plot of land that was 5 meters wide. That was made the standard. So houses out in the country of Viet Nam are also 5 meters wide. They might be 20 meters long and 5 stories high, but only 5 meters wide.
Because Kurt taught me the importance of pride in the name of a place, I have been calling towns by the names on the signs. Ex: Viet Nam (Vietnam), Sa Pa (Sapa), Ha Noi (Hanoi). Also, the metric system makes sense, so I will be using that from now on. I encourage everyone else to do it also.
So for my friends that travel and want some advice, here it is: When in Bangkok, get out. If you have to stay here, pay the $12 to get to Sukhumvit. Sure it is the #2 prostitution/strip club area in Bangkok, but I never saw any of it. Take the overnight train to Chiang Mai. It is about 12 hours and can be a lot of fun. Get the second class sleeper train and ask for the bottom bunk. Chiang Mai is my favorite town in Thailand. Parami Guesthouse was one of the best places we have stayed so far. Four twisting hours in a minivan north of Chiang Mai is the small town of Pai. It is like any tourist town in Hawai’i. You aren’t missing anything if you don’t go there. However, the elephant riding was cool, but only for an hour. Then it gets sore. After Thailand, we flew to Ha Noi. DO NOT stay at the Funky Monkey hostel. Horrible. DO go to the Funky Monkey bar. They are completely unrelated. If somewhere is popular (the bar) other places copy the name to confuse tourists. Matt, Clint, Jeff, and Joe, you will love the Funky Monkey bar. Danielle thought it was funny that she got no attention there. If you guys ever make it there, ask for Duke. Ironic huh? Northern Viet Nam was wonderful. We didn’t make it south due to the typhoon that hit while we were there. The roads were flooded, the restaurants were closed, and life was miserable, but only for a week while the typhoon landed. We were in shorts and bikinis hanging out on boats and rock climbing while all that mayhem occurred. DO go to Cat Ba island. DO go see he guys at Slo Pony Adventures. I cannot begin to describe how much fun we had with them.
We are going to Bangkok today. I need to get a haircut, massage and a wax. It wont be more than $20 for all of it. Then I want to check out getting a suit made.
I will be looking for jobs while in Europe. I will have to post my resume here soon. For those of you wondering what I learned in college (I get that question a lot) here is what I can do:
I am knowledgeable in the science and management of natural resources and their links to environmental quality. I have been provided with scientific knowledge of the physical, chemical, biological, economic, social, and policy elements of natural resources management. I understand the principles that underpin productive, sustainable land use, and enhanced environmental quality. I am able to solve contemporary resource use problems and assist in sound decision making for optimizing land use and managing agricultural and forestry systems, watersheds, and landscapes in an ecologically sound manner. I am also skilled in addressing resource policy issues and the needs of diverse clientele and communities including policy makers and planners. Scientific objectivity is continually emphasized as an important element of environmental planning. Thus, I am trained in the use of quantitative models and such tools as decision aids for optimizing natural resource management and ecosystem stewardship.