Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Questions from Kids - Part 2

Thank you to everyone that has sent in questions. I love the way you all make me think as I am blogging. Here are the latest questions and topics. Keep the questions coming. I will answer them honestly.

My niece McKenzie  asked me about Buddhism. I was clueless so, I started doing some reading, watching the locals and talking to Buddhists. I hope this helps you understand Buddhism.  It is a religion to about 300 million people around the world. It comes from the term "budhi" meaning to awaken. To many people, Buddhism is more than a religion but a way of life. Buddhist philosophy is to lead a moral life, be mindful and aware of your thoughts and actions and develop wisdom and understanding. One of the teachings that I have found most interesting is that wealth does not guarantee happiness and is not permanent. The people of every country and religion suffer, rich or poor. The secret is how you find happiness in life. I think that is a great lesson for all of us!
Buddhism is tolerant of all beliefs and religions. It varies slightly from country to country due to cultures and customs. Buddhism agrees with the moral teachings of other religions. I was surprised to learn there has never been any wars fought in the name of Buddhism. Buddhists do not try to preach or convert people, only explain if an explanation is sought. It is about long term purpose and the search for wisdom and understanding.
In Laos, the young boys are sent to the temples because their families may not be able to provide them with a secondary education (high school). The age a boy goes to the temple depends on the temple. Here in Luang Prabang, some temples allow boys as young as 8 -12 years old. If they are less than 20 years old they are called novices. They all go to the Buddhist school in Luang Prabang which is separate from the regular students. The school teaches them English, Buddhist law, physics, chemistry, math, history and drama. The boys are allowed to leave at any time and return to their home villages. They have chores to do around the temple and must go to meditation at 4:30 am and in the evening (5:45 pm). At the age of 20, the novices decide if they want to become a monk or leave the temple. Many of the boys decide to leave the temple so they can go to college.
Living at the temple, the boys are not allowed to play sports. They study for fun and talk with their friends. They have cats and dogs at the temple and like to play with them. They are allowed to have a cell phone but no tv, video games or computers. They go to the library to use the computer and listen to music or study for school. Most of them will spend 1-2 hours a day practicing English. This is important for them to get educated and to speak with people that are native English speakers. That is why they love to talk/practice with foreigners. So, they go to the library and Big Brother Mouse. Both of these places invite foreigners in to spend time talking with the students.

How do you stay connected to Facebook?
Most of the hotels I have stayed have had Wi-Fi. Sometimes the signal is strong and other times I have to go to a restaurant or cafĂ© to be able to connect to the internet or my blog. It is free as long as you buy something. I am traveling with my laptop and my iphone so, I can usually send messages or a quick Facebook update. It is harder to upload photos. I am backing all my photos up to Dropbox.com and it will currently take 26 days to upload my remaining photos. I had to laugh when it said "1043 files to upload, 26 days (have a Snickers)". Has anyone else ever seen this message in Dropbox? Ha ha!
Since Vietnam was a communist country they would block Facebook but the hotels knew how to go around that and would make sure travels could stay connected. I have had no problems in Cambodia and Laos.

What did you pack for this trip?
I have my Nikon D5000 DSLR with 2 lenses and a laptop in a small Lowepro Photo Hatchback 16L Pack. I can also put sunscreen and book, sarong and a bottle of water in it for daytrips. All my other belongings are in a Ospery 60L backpack. Here is what I packed for a year:
  • 1 pair hiking shoes
  • 1 pair sandals
  • Umbrella
  • Basic cosmetics (shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, sunscreen, mascara, blush and lipgloss)
  • Medicine (medications for malaria, cipro, penicillin, pain relievers, antibiotics, band-aids, etc.)
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 2 pair hiking pants that roll up to capris
  • Workout pants
  • Workout shirt
  • 3 pairs socks
  • 1 pair pj's
  • 4 pair underwear
  • 4 bras
  • 2 dresses
  • 2 skirts
  • 4 short sleeve shirts/2 long sleeve
  • rain jacket
  • sarong
  • swimsuit
  • scarf
  • small purse
  • Bucky pillow
  • eye mask
  • ear plugs
  • sleep sheet
  • small towel
  • clothes line
  • power adapter
All my gear weighs 15 kg. It isn't bad to carry. So far, I have everything I need and could probably go with 2 less outfits.

How did you plan for this trip?
I have always loved traveling so I have a bucketlist. I have so many places I want to go and little time. I know a year seems like a long time but it takes a long time to travel from place to place. I could fly and get there faster but part of the fun is traveling and meeting the local people. I also have to watch the cost. I have a budget for the trip and when I run out of money then, I go home or re-evaluate the budget! So, I chose countries based on the ones that I could live in for little money. My plans are not set in stone. I only bought a one-way ticket to Saigon, Vietnam. I will figure everything else out as I travel. I ask people where they have been and if they liked it. Then I decide where to go next. I like the adventure! It is fun and exciting. Never be afraid to dream big and follow your dreams! I always dreamed of travel and I started off in Europe. Then added South America. Now, I added Asia. All of it has been more amazing than I ever imagined. I look forward to the next leg of my journey and continuing to explore the amazing world we live in! The website www.bootsnall.com is great for anyone wanting to plan a round the world trip. You can even price tickets!

How do you find hotels?
Sometimes I book the night before through websites:
Other times, I wait until I get to a city and just go to a hotel and see if there is availability. This has allowed me to get some great deals and chose an area I want to live in. Other tourists will also share where they have stayed. It is very simple.

Do you worry being a single woman traveling alone? Any safety issues?
No, SE Asia has been great for a single woman traveling alone. Most people I have encountered are impressed I am doing this without a boyfriend or husband! I find that they tell me where to go and if it is safe to walk at night. The places I have visited so far have all been very safe. I have met people at cafes, tourist sites and in the hotel and spent time with other travelers. I am always careful and trust my gut if something is safe. If not, I get out of the situation as quickly as possible. I have had more of those issues in Europe when I was traveling than in SE Asia.

Please contact me if you have any other questions. Enjoy reading and I will get a new blog written in the next few days! Peace and love to you all! 

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