Trip Start Aug 26, 2006
Trip End Dec 08, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Ohio
Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ok, so, I've been a little nervous, waiting and hoping that all of my trips worked out for the first trip list... and I juuuust got my confirmation for my overnight trips through India - I got on all of my first choices! (except for the gardens in Kyoto, Japan, however, it was more to relax and get some wonderful pictures for my Dad who really appreciates gardening and the zen approach of life)
Here they are, in order of country:

Oahu, Hawaii: Go-Hawaii Card (ok, this one had a no limit number, but it's still going to be fun to try to see as much of Hawaii as I can in 1 day!)

Kobe, Japan: Hiroshima with Prof. Kasser (my Psych prof for the trip - he also teaches psychology of death and dying and I am terribly excited to hear his perspective of Hiroshima!) A five hour bus ride to witness the ending point of World War II, where 200,000 people were killed. Where temperatures were so hot that human shadows ar imprinted on the granite steps. There's a poster of Albert Einstein and a quote saying, "

Qingdao, China: Xi'an/Bejing: Yes, that's right - I'm going to see the forbidden city (currently under construction), the Great Wall of China, and the Terra Cotta Army (some of you may remember the exhibit at what is now the New COSI through the Old COSI called "Kingdom of Heaven" I still remember my parents taking me to it and watching videos about it in elementary schools on Friday Nights.) I was attempting to find the Albert Einstein quote that hangs in one of the Physics labs about the cost of atomic energy, and instead came across this:
"A person starts to live when he can live outside himself."
Granted, it's not exactly what I wanted to tie into my upcoming experiences... but then again... it might even be better for my impending trip.
From there I will fly a few hours, and, what's been described as thousands of years, to Hong Kong to spend about 5 hours doing some shopping in this ridiculously modern (and fashion-rich) city.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam: A few days soaking up the history and culture - then a plane to Cambodia to see Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat (the Genocide fields and temples) both of great historical and moral significance (this is the one trip that people always regret not going on... I am soooo glad I got on this one - I really want to witness humanity at it's worst, due to the fact that we can only learn from the past to ensure a better future).

In Myanmar, our boat is docked 45 min away from the main city, Yangon, and I am fortunate enough to have gotten a spot on the trip that resides in Yangon for 4 days/3 nights. I will observe the sunset at the Shwedagon Pagoda (which is topped with a 76 carat diamond - and anyone who knows me at all knows my love of sunsets!) A trip to a local village, to understand real life in Myanmar, the feeding and meditation ceremony with the monks (men of Myanmar are supposed to serve as monks at least once in their life - this experience will also be used as an in country practica for my abnormal psychology class) the National Museum, a culture show dinner, and an afternoon of local arts - ranging from potter to hand blown glass.

Chennai, India: I will be visiting Jaipur, Agra, and Dehli. Jaipur - "the pink city" which is the capital city-state of Rajasthan - made of pink sandstone - and home to Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) and the observatory designed by astronomer Prince Maharajah Jai Singh in the 1700's. I'll be riding an elephant into Amber (the former capital), and will see the Taj Mahal and get wonderful pictures for Jennifer to add to her room :) There will also be a visit to the Gandhi Museum, Parliament House, and a few others that you'll hear about once I learn more. This was my first choice, with the Verinasi Trip as my second choice - which is the city on the Ganges River where the ceremonial cleansing occurs every morning. The only reason this was a 2nd and not first choice was due to the fact that I feel any spiritual rituals should not be observed in a touristy manner. I would feel very uncomfortable watching people attempt to be closer to their omnipotent being - I would feel like an intruder - and being a tourist to God is not something I believe in.

This is as far as I know right now... any day trips in these countries or overnight stays from Egypt on will be determined once I'm onboard :)

As a side note: I am starting to feel slightly detached - realizing how selfish we, as Americans are, and how selfish I feel for this trip... I realize the financial impact of it... however, if I don't experience the world, then who will I be? Will I be sheltered? Americanized? Close-minded? Who is going to try if I don't? All I know is that I spare a few minutes now and then to stop and ponder if the sky will look just as blue across the ocean or if the sunsets will still make me pause in awe. I'm already starting to be grateful for the ability to discuss politics openly and sports and entertainment news - because we, as Americans, don't have half the worries that some of my destinations have. My friends and I aren't worried about our next meal or a place to sleep at night. We're worried about grades and our future plans of grad school and med school and petty details in the celebrity world.
I feel guilty and grateful and haven't even left.
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