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Archive for June, 2010

Ha Long I’ve Waited!

I’ve waited very long indeed to see Ha Long Bay.

I’d seen pictures of this UNESCO world heritage site ages ago and it’s been sitting on my to-do list patiently, waiting to be ticked off. The day trip was very exhausting. And I’d recommend an over night trip instead, to anyone asking. Ha Long Bay is a beautiful, calming sight; imagine thousands of islands floating on placid waters.

One thousand nine hundred and sixty islands spread over approximately fifteen hundred square kilometers to be precise. And the rickety old fashioned boats weave through the islands slowly and very quietly.
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Mr. Rinh’s Story

I wrote about Mr Rinh’s Story for my column in Hindustan Times today. You can read it here.
There is still a lot to say about his organization VAVA and The Vietnam Friendship Village.

I spent an entire day with the children living there. The Vietnam Friendship Village houses about a hundred and twenty orphaned victims of Agent Orange. They are aged between five and twenty and have varying degrees of disability.

I was taken around the place by the kind and gentle Mrs. Ha, who has been working at the Friendship Village for a decade now. The soft-spoken lady spent several hours with me, sharing information and introducing me to the staff, volunteers and the residents.
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Dinh Phuong’s Story

She’s 27, she’s a new mother and in another life she could be a dirt bike champion!

But in this life, she’s a bright young girl, who works with the impoverished rice farmers in rural Vietnam. Performing a pivotal role in changing the fortune of a tiny community.

I met Dinh Phuong when I arrived at the Xuan Thuy National Park in Nam Dinh District in Vietnam. The journey there tested my will and intent more than any other incident in my trip so far.
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Surviving Beautiful Vietnam

There is something really miserable about waking up at 5 am three days in a row, especially under vastly differing circumstances. On Tuesday, I woke up at 5 for my flight to Hanoi. On Wednesday I woke up at 5 to go to the bus stand to come to Xuan Thuy National Park and today I woke up at 5 because the lights went out. Just as well that I’m up actually, good time to get some writing done. Before my friend Dinh Phuong comes to pick me up and drop me to the bus station. I’m heading back to Hanoi, if you’re wondering.

The Xuan Thuy National park is huge area of wetlands and mangroves. People are engaged in either Shrimp farms or rice plantations here. It’s a very low -lying area and has a very unique set of problems. Here I met my next hero. But, more on that in my next post.
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Soraida’s Story (Video)

She keeps very poor health. Her doctors recently informed her that apart from all her other problems, she also has Multiple Sclerosis.

But, the woman I met seemed anything but unwell or inflicted with a painful disease. She greeted me with the cheeriest ‘hello’! Her eyes were bright and she seemed genuinely glad to meet me.

A tragic childhood incident triggered her life long concern and dedication for these gorgeous animals. Soraida Salwala was traveling with her father and happened to cross a large Elephant breathing its last after being hit by a truck. She asked her father, what had happened to the ‘Uncle Elephant’ and why couldn’t they take it to the hospital- a place Soraida knew well, as a sickly child.
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Hindustan Times Article: 20th June 2010

article 3

Hello folks!

My second article was published today in Hindustan Times.

It’s in the ‘iThink’ section.

You may also read the e-paper version here

Maybe you can ignore the crappy byline picture.

My fault entirely! I’m working on it. I’d love your feedback so please leave a comment.

I have just two nights left in Thailand.

So I’m going to make the most of it.

Off to Vietnam next.


High On Thai… Food

A lot of my friends have been asking me if I’m stuffing my face with Thai food. Even though I haven’t posted an update about it yet, the answer is ‘Hell yeah, I am’!

I’m staying at a quirky little guest house called Giant. It’s in the Moon Muang area in Chiang Mai. It’s got an interesting mix of people from across the world. And between ‘Food & Drink’ and ‘Coffee & Tea’ you can even find Ganesh Ji!
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Backstage in Thailand

You know what’s worse than spending a night in a room infested with bugs?

Spending a second night there!

The first night you slap your self a couple of times, hoping to brutally end the life of Satan’s workers buzzing in your ear. Wake up a several times, with the icky feeling that something was crawling on your leg, down your shirt or in your ear.

But since you don’t know any better, you tell yourself it was the sheet rubbing against me, or it’s pretty hot… I was probably just sweating.

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Rosie’s Story

Rosie Ban Nai Soi Community Learning CenterI came to the Ban Nai Soi Community Learning Center to meet Mr Sien. I read about his story and I wanted to meet this man who struggled so hard to get the education he was denied as a young man in Burma. He now finds his redemption by ensuring that the students forgotten by the system, much like he was don’t get deprived.

What I wasn’t expecting was the pint-sized fighter I met who is his twenty one year old daughter.
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Dinner And A Show For One

While I was in Bangkok, I had my first dinner out by myself.

Alone in a new city, I thought it best to be cautious and after a long day of walking and exploring bustling Bangkok, I came back to my room by seven thirty in the evening.

I sat alone for about half an hour, flipping through Thai soap operas and feeling kinda stupid for having been an enthu-cutlet and called it a night. Also, the stomach was staging a major protest!
So I decided to be bold and head out. Yep, that’s what I’ll do; I’ll step out for a quick bite, maybe a beer and be back before it gets too late.
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