Saturday, April 26, 2014

Here's To Cambodia

After a night in a rural fishing village on the Tonle Sap, I am back in Siem Reap and I am once again tired. Cambodia is great as always and I am enjoying my fourth time here as if it was my first time. 
Tomorrow I am heading back to Angkor Wat, Monday I am teaching English for a day, and then I am on my way back to Kunming for my final final project. A huge symposium in which I am representing Laos.... 
I am also having issues with my Chinese visa, because I did not get multiple entries and will be stuck in Bangkok without an entry to China after Bhutan. But it is the excitement of the unknowingness that makes me look forward to whatever happens after the 3rd of May. I am really hoping I will make it to Xinjiang, Bhutan and now also Bangkok where I have to wrestle with the Chinese embassy to give me my 3rd visa in 6 months... let's hope that works.  

But for now let's raise our glasses and toast to this amazing country I love so much. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

VIETNAM - Food, Sweat, Water Monitoring & A Constant Lack of Sleep

I am in Vietnam! 8 Days, 5 cities and a serious lack of sleep. 
It is all okay though, because when do I ever get the chance again to do everything I am doing here? 
I have been able to talk to professors from the Trade University in Hanoi, get dinner with Students from the University, talk to the Asian Development Bank, discuss economic issues with the American Consulate in Saigon, listen to a talk about the Mekong Delta given by one of the most knowledgeable experts on the topic, talk to a mayor of a rural town about water issues, go out measure water levels and conduct interviews with local farmers and then present our case findings to him and finally eat all this amazing food. 
The heat is really intense though and does make you realize that a slower pace is key. 

The people here are so incredible! The smiles I receive are in the ten thousands and I am so happy that people seem to share my enthusiasm for happiness here. It is truly great to talk to such energetic people!

It has been 8 wild days and I am exhausted! We are heading to the Cambodian border tomorrow and then will spend the next 7 days in my favorite country EVER. I CAN'T WAIT! 

Due to my exhaustion I do no want to bore you with an extensive post and will use this lighting speed internet to post some pictures of the past couple days. 

My birthday lies 10 days in the past and I still have not replied to any of the amazing emails I have received. I had my birthday right during finals week and we drove down to Vietnam 12 hours after our last final. Time really is not something I have here. However, I am so incredibly happy to have so many loving and great people around me who support me every step along the way! Thank you all for your great thoughts! It is very much appreciated. 
I will write as soon as I have time! 

I am pretty sure the best Asian food I have ever had

This was Breakfast
The Coffee here is absolutely mind blowing. They make it with condense milk, which makes it incredibly unhealthy, but so delicious. 

Presenting on the Mekong Delta - Yes, I am aware of the hat 

First time I have seen a pineapple plant!!! 

More mind blowing food! This is called Bun Cha. It is barbecued pork in fish sauce with everything great about this earth. 

I found my name sake and this friendly nun showed me around 

Looking for animals in a wanter plant's root system 

Checking Water Quality 

After one of the interviews

Gathering all the info from the interviews and making a presentation. Most tired I have ever been. 

Presenting our findings 

Picture with the mayor. (white polo shirt) 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Best Soup In Town

Before I have to revise my incredibly painful essay about trade in Xishuangbanna I wanted to write something that does not give me a massive headache.

This morning I woke up and was craving Mixian (my noodle soup). Fridays through Sunday are usually my Western breakfast days, whereas I eat Mixian on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, because I have to eat early and the Western restaurant is not open yet.
In celebration of taking my last antibiotics yesterday I wanted to treat my stomach to a good Western breakfast, but when I woke up this morning Western breakfast was the furthest from my mind. I wanted Noodle Soup and there was nothing I would be able to change about that.
So I took a shower, got dressed, packed my computer and left my dorm. I did not want to eat at my usual garage, because I always eat there so I went to a new place a 10 minute walk away.

Similarly to any other place that I am attracted to it screamed “DIARRHEA!”, but I have learned to not let my European senses trick me. The key in China is too look at the seating. Are there a lot? Are there a lot of people eating? What kind of people are they? Does the staff look tired (if yes that is a good sign).

The place was insanely busy

So while my European senses were telling me to run back to Switzerland my Chinese senses gave me the okay. The fact that there even was seating in the kitchen convinced me. I ordered my Mi xian and paid USD1.25. I went to the kitchen and got my bowl with chicken, blood pudding, noodles and broth. I proceeded to the additives and added pickled vegetables with chilly, scallions, and some mysterious stuff.


I sat down and happily slurped my noodles. The art here is that nothing is ever touching the table. Basically the opposite of everything my mom taught me about table manners. Your left hand is on your lap or in case you have long hair the hand holds back the hair. I always like to sit sideways to the table, because this way I can get my mouth as close to the bowl as possible. This allows maximum noodles without the danger of getting your clothes dirty.
You see. It is an art that has to be perfected. I am not there yet. It is truly impressive what Chinese can do with their chopsticks. They way they can whisk eggs, mix noodles, pick up things. amazing.

How to properly Slurp

So why on earth have I started to like Chinese breakfast so much? The truth is that when I eat Western breakfast I usually hit a low point at around 10.30/11 am. This is when I would buy a coffee in Europe or the US, but with Mi Xian this does not happen. Right now I am also munching on my Host dad’s Mantou, which as you know is truly delicious.

Okay. After this point I think everything will just be a way for me to procrastinate on work. I really have become to dislike one of my teachers, which you may know is more or less fatal for me. After discussing my topic with my teacher and writing 13 pages about mono cropping rubber trees in Xishuangbanna she told me there there is no mono cropping in Xishuangbanna. She couldn’t have told me this two months earlier though when I decided on the topic.