Saturday, October 3, 2015

What I Know

Here's what I know for sure:
The more I learn, the less I know.

So, I want to make thought-provoking observations about the things I've seen and experienced the past month in Asia, but anything I start to say is only half-true. I mean, what can a person really say about any place after only a short time there? What can I even tell you after two years Korea? Or twenty-seven years in America?

Pretty. Much. Nothing.
And if I did, it would just be full of generalizations. And those are boring.

But here are a few--brief--observations:

-World travel is a gift.

-World travel is a challenge.

-China is a really big place.

-China is on top of the safe-bicycle commuting train. Oh my word, they had lanes for all the bicycles that was separated from the main traffic via a large median. It was awesome.

-It was tricky to find English-speaking folk. But those we met were super kind and helpful.

-China is a super old country and has a much different history (especially these past 60 years) than Korea does. So China feels very old because a lot of the architecture and transit is dated in a charming way. But in Korea everything is shiny and new. The apartment buildings are identical, because they were all built in recent history.

-The Great Wall is amazing.

-This is a real-life conversation I had with a Chinese guy at our hostel: "Excuse me, do you use Instagram in China?" He answered, "Legally?" I shook my head. Oh yeah, Facebook, Google, and the-like are banned in China because it's a communist country. Felt like a big dork.

-Hostels are the bomb.

-Thai food is favorite food. Ever.

-If you wanted to move anywhere as an expat, I'd go to Thailand. Chiang Mai, specifically.

-Go get a Thai massage.

-During one Thai massage, the gal was rubbing my face and saying, "Pretty little human" over and over again, but I can't guarantee that kind of service if you get yours in Iowa. No promises.

-Train travel was more fun than I thought it would be.

-Going back to Cambodia this last time, felt like going home. Yes, I said "home." I'm still soaking that Beauty in. What a gift.

-Cambodian folk are the friendliest folk I encountered of all the countries. I may be a bit biased.

-In Cambodia, one of my old students (from EIGHT years ago!) came up to Siem Reap where we were staying. It was so amazing to see this gal. Her name is Kagna and since graduating high school where I taught her junior year, she's graduated from nursing school and now she's traveling around the Cambodian countryside with an NGO giving free medical care. I'm so proud of her.

-Angkor Wat is worth seeing. My God, it's incredible at sunrise.

-Bali is as beautiful as you imagine it would be.

-Chicken satay is where it's at, folks. Get it on a stick with spicy peanut sauce.

-There's no such thing as an "Asian" person or "Asian" culture. I don't know what that means. I know about Korean people and Thai culture, but the differences between them are as vast as the north pole is from the south. Asia is the biggest and most populous continent on the globe. Asian countries include Japan, Pakistan, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Afghanistan, and off the top of my head, I can't think of a single similarity between Japan and Afghanistan.

But what do I know?