October 18th-
Logistical preport was tonight and somehow I ended up being one of the gift giving Intercultural Ambassadors. Karen wanted me to do it because I had gotten to know the interport students pretty well so I guess it would mean more coming from a friend rather than a stranger. I also finally got a chance to talk to Dr.Findeis, the interport lecturer. She’s a professor in Bombay and she said she might know Nani? I’m not sure though. She was such an intelligent lady and she reminded me SO much of Nani in her petiteness and just her general mannerisms. She brought a small candle to give to the shipboard community for Diwali and Dean Bev told me to accept it on their behalf since I am planning on doing a community college on Diwali. After pre-port I got online for a little bit but it was too slow for my liking and I lost patience. I went down to my room to pack and then watched a couple episodes of Family Guy with Kevin and BJ. I went to sleep around 2am and had big plans to wake up at 7am. That didn’t work out so well.

October 19th-
I woke up around 8am and rushed to get some breakfast. As soon as I woke up I KNEW we were in India. I could smell it. You know how India has that distinct smell that permeates anything and everything. It’s not a bad smell, it’s just very distinct. Go smell your suitcases or your clothes from India- you know what I’m talking about. Haha ok so it took us considerably longer to get off the ship in India compared to all the other ports. They had to do a face to face and we all had to get our passports. I think we got off the ship right before my Making Movie Art trip started. I had no idea what to expect from this trip but it turned out to be awesome. We visited Prasad Film Studios in Chennai and got a pretty comprehensive tour of the facilities. We saw people building sets, the Film Academy, editing equipment, labs, etc. We also got to see a lot of the processes that you hear about but never get a chance to observe. We saw a song from Meenaxi-Rang Hai- someone please find out who the actor is in that movie. All in all- amazing trip. We got back to the ship around 5:30pm and I called Aashna to see what they were up to. We decided to meet Friday or Saturday. I came back to the ship and went out to dinner with Mischa, Glenn, Tyler, Mandy Serena, and Darcy. We took 2 rickshaws to the Taj Coramandel Hotel. The ride there was an experience in itself. As soon as you walk out of the port (which is a hassle too- you have to carry your landing and declaration card wherever you go and they write down the serial number on your camera to make sure you come back with the same camera) you are bombarded by rickshaw drivers, each one fighting to take you where you want to go for an obviously exorbitant price. So we finally settled on a price of 75 rupees and we got in. Dinner was super fancy but sooo good. I had shahi paneer and phudina paratha. Mishca had a trip leaving at 10:30pm so me, him, and Glenn left dinner a little bit early.

October 20th-October 22nd- I will do my India journal later. Global Nomads was awesome- we had such an amazing experience.

October 23rd-
HAPPY 20th BIRTHDAY TO ME!!! This was probably one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. I woke up at 12:45pm today ( more like, Aashna woke me up…). We had to rush and leave because on ship time was 3pm- eeks. It was quite rush rush but I’ll write about that later. Let me write about my birthday first. So I got back to the ship and went to my room only to find MORE cards and letters. I can’t even explain how happy I was. Thanks to everyone for all of that- it truly made my day. There was also a Happy Birthday card from the Bering Sea “Birthday Committee” (aka Pia and Caitlin) and a note from Dean Tymitz that said ” Happy Happy Birthday. I send warm wishes to you on this your special day. Thank you for your many contributions to our voyage.” That was incredibly nice of him and really made me feel special. I passed him in the hallway later and he gave me a big hug. We really have excellent administration on this voyage- him and Dean Bev are just amazing people and really complement each other. Anyways, so as I was running around trying to get Myanmar stuff in order I kept running into people and getting birthday hugs which are probably the best kind of hugs you can get. I was in such an amazing mood so I was beaming all over the place and smiling at everyone and anything. Oh yeah and Jess got me a pin that said ” It’s My Birthday” and made me wear it ALL day. She also got me candles that spelled out Happy Birthday, a gorgeous purple scarf, and her and Shane got me a card that sings “Celebrate good times” LOUDLY every time you open it. I think I have the best roommate on this ship πŸ™‚ She is so thoughtful and caring, I hope you all get to meet her. Thank goodness she’ll be in DC next spring!!! I am soo excited. Ok anyways, back to my birthday. πŸ™‚ haha jk. We went up to Deck 7 at 5pm to do some final interviews for Global Nomads. Jed came upstairs with these fabulous party hats that he bought from Pondy Bazaar and sitafur that Neerja suggested he buy because she knew that I loved them. I was so happy about the sitafur (custard apple I think is the translation) because I had seen them on the street but didn’t actually eat any. So we did our interviews as the ship was pulling away. What a hard port to pull away from…I was almost crying and I don’t know why. I think maybe out of happiness? It is such a good feeling to feel loved and special. It’s one thing knowing people care but another when it’s actually shown. I know that’s materialistic and selfish and all that good stuff but it’s true. So we all went up at 6:30 to eat dinner and Gareth and Lindsay made me a huge Happy Birthday sign which was soo nice of them because I don’t even know them that well. Lindsay even gave me a beaded necklace from the Amazon. I honestly couldn’t stop smiling all night. After dinner we met to talk about our film presentation tomorrow. I cleaned up my room because I hate having stuff all over the place and then we had a meeting for my Myanmar trip. I reallly hope this trip turns out well, I’m SO nervous. I will feel so terrible if it’s not all it’s cracked up to be…eeks. Oh well, what can I do now? I am getting more and more excited though! I did some more running around and then ended up just wasting time talking to people. I ran into Brandon and John on the way to the 7th deck ( to throw something overboard before my birthday was over…) and we ended up talking for awhile. Then when I was walking to my room me, Jimmy, and Jarett started talking and it was almost 1am before I left to go put some itch cream on my crazy bug bites. For some reason I got bitten a lot this time. I have a big bite on my neck that everyone insists is a hickey. Ha- yeah right. In conclusion, I had an AMAZING birthday. I can’t thank everyone enough for the birthday wishes. You all really know how to make a girl feel special. It is bedtime now because I have an 8 am tomorrow but it is really hard to fall asleep on your birthday. I just want to go hug more people! hahah ok sorry. Good night!

ARPIT- If you ever see Michael again (your roommate from freshman year), tell him that I’m friends with Daniel (from Chicago but goes to Chapel Hill now). He’ll know who you’re talking about. What a strange coincidence!

Ok so as much as I hate writing things in retrospect that’s what I will probably have to do from now on because I don’t carry my laptop along with me and I certainly don’t hand write my journals.

October 25th,

Hello from Burma! I’ve decided to call it Burma because that’s what the US State Dept calls it (well actually they put Myanmar in parenthesis) and apparently that is the name the people of the county prefer to call it but cannot.. I woke up this moring around 8am to watch us sail down the river into Thilawa port. It was absolutely gorgeous- such a contrast to India. Everything was lush and green but the water was a muddy brown. We passed rows of houses on stilts in the water and sporadic bunches of people standing outside their houses to see the ship go by I guess. I got a quick breakfast and went back to sleep for an hour or so. Right now I’m sitting in the little cove next to the videography equipment trying to get focused and write this journal. Dean Tymitz just walked by and asked me how my birthday was. There are 683 people on this ship, it’s our first day in port which is stressful as it is and he remembered that my birthday was a few days ago. That makes me more happy than I can tell you. I can’t praise our administration enough. Dean Tymitz and Dean Bev along with the rest of the staff are phenomenal. Oh man, it’s diplomatic briefing time. There goes my journaling idea. I guess I’ll write about the diplomatic briefing as it’s happening- some fun facts: CD1 –> US diplomatic license plate, We have tripled the American presence in Burma just by docking here, the govt has banned google, hotmail, and yahoo, has control over all internet usage and we are the largest group of americans to visit since 1962!
I am SO excited about Burma. I don’t even know why. Last night’s pre-port was logistical and cultural combined and the Voice said that we were kind of entering the unknown. This is the first time SAS has docked in Burma. The closest they have come is taking side trips to Burma from Thailand. That’s why nobody really knows what to expect…

Yesterday was fun. We watched The Burmese Harp in film class which was a movie about a Japanese soldier in Burma who separates from his unit and walks around burying dead Japanese soldiers. He is accepted into Burmese monkhood and does not return to Japan. It was a good movie and it was our turn to present in class so I was a little bit more interested in it. The rest of the night was spent running around packing and getting trip stuff in order. We also had salsa practice :-). I really need to buy heels.

This is from my written journal that I took with me on the trip. Sorry for the backtracking:

I love Burma. I am sitting on the top of a mountain in a hotel next to the Golden Rock- a huge boulder perched precariously off the side of a cliff on 2 hairs of the Buddha. I can’t even begin to put it into perspective. I guess I should start at the beginning though. Yesterday I woke up around 8am to see us come up the river into the Thanlyin Port. I was surprised to look out my window and see muddy brown water. I went and grabbed a quick breakfast, talked to Daniel for a bit and then went back to sleep until 10 am or so. It took so long for the ship to be cleared- we didn’t end up getting off until 12:30pm. Getting everyone together in the morning was kind of stressful but I’m glad everyone was so cooperative. In a group of 14 you are bound to have a few stragglers but it’s just something you have to deal with I guess. I must say, we do have an awesome group. Just in case you are wondering if your kid is on my trip- here you go: Lindsay, Natalie, Carri, Amy, Ted, Jed, Mandy, Shane, Al, Ashish, Arriana, Jess, and Rachel. Ok so we got our passports, swiped off and walked down from the gangway which was on deck 5. There was a guy waiting there with a sign that said Myanmar Tourex welcomes “Aparna Kothary and Patry” No that is NOT a typo- that’s really what the sign said. I’m not sure who was holding it but we had to wait for the shuttle to get outside the port. We took the shuttle to the entrance and it would have been a terribly long walk so thank goodness there was transportation. Once we got there I met Thwe- the lady I had been emailing back and forth with and our guide George. They were both so nice and welcoming. We all go onto the bus which was by no means a charter bus of any kind. We were lucky it had AC. Apparently all the buses in Burma are second-hand and they have to be imported from Japan. Another fun fact –> there are no motorcycles in Rangoon (Yangon) supposedly because a motorcycle scratched the general’s car one day (disclaimer –> I don’t know if this is true).

Our ride to the hotel was about 45 minutes and my first impression of Burma was an incredibly lush country that is very spiritual and full of genuinely nice people. We got to our hotel and it was absolutely gorgeous- the Grand Plaza Park Royal. As soon as we got inside they gave us watermelon juice while we waited for our keys. I collected everyone’s money at this time and surprisingly enough everyone had exact change so it went pretty smoothly. I’ve never held so much cash in my hand at one time. Yeah so apparently the bank doesn’t take any bills that are inked, crumpled, dog-eared, torn, or marked in any way. The tour agents sat down and inspected each bill to make sure it was ok and they ended up handing me back a large wad of bills to somehow exchange for crisper ones. I had to run around to everyone’s rooms to find money…oh man. We finally got all that sorted out and I got to check out my room. The rooms were great too- huge beds, huge bathroom, fridge, and all the amenities. It was really high-teach too- you could control all the lights with one touch pad and there was a doorbell outside the room. After checking out the room we walked around the hotel. which also has some amazing artwork. We all met back on the lobby at 3pm and were on our way. Our first stop was the Sule Pagoda and city center area. From there we walked through the city to the Strand Hotel which also had some beautiful art. We walked back to the bus and then went to Chinatown. We did another quick walk through the market there and then headed to the Reclining Buddha. It was so much larger than I thought it would be. The eyes are 5 feet long and 2 feet wide and made completely out of glass. The whole place was enormous. On the bus we learned that Burmese people are named after the day on which they were born. Apparently this day is indicative of your fate, destiny, lucky, etc. For those of us who didn’t know what day we were born on, George had a 100 year calender book. I was born on a Wednesday. At the temple there was a place for each day (8 because Wednesday is broken into morning and night). Afterward I went with Jed to get his palm read. I don’t know why I’m so skeptical about all of this kind of stuff. If you can predict your future by the lines of your hand and you tell someone about it doesn’t that change their future? It just seems like circular logic to me. Maybe I’ll get it done. I don’t know…it’s funny. I’m superstitious in some things but not in others. Ok so after that we went to the Shwedagon Pagoda for sunset. The pagoda was breathtaking. The stupa is made of 10 tons of gold and has a 76 carat diamond on top. George showed us this one tile where you can stand and see the diamond sparkling. We walked around for a good long time and by the end we were all so hungry and exhausted. We got to the hotel where we were having dinner and were surprised to see another indy Burma trip there too (Alberto’s I think). It was certainly a testosterone-filled group- 13 guys and only 1 girl! They were flying to Mandalay the next day and had a pretty whirlwind but comprehensive tour planned. Dinner was really good- it was buffet so there was good variety. For vegetarians there were salads, some eggplant thing, fritters and bread. My favorite, however, was dessert. Papaya and pineapple with an interesting assortment of Burmese sweets. Following dinner there was a culture show which was absolutely fantastic. They showcased all kinds of traditional Burmese dancing, puppetry, and acrobatics. We got back to the hotel around 9pm and chilled for a bit and watched TV. We flipped between CNN, David Blaine, and Ever After. Oh yeah we went to the grocery store before coming back to the bus and Carri and I each bought a big tin of cookies and crackers to share on the bus. I also bought what I thought was passion fruit juice. It turned out to be a concentrate so I poured it into my water today- eh it didn’t taste much like passion fruit. Around 10 pm or so Ted, Natalie, Amy, and I decide to head down to the Music Club disco that was conveniently located in the basement of our hotel and free for in-house guests. Jed, Shane, and Mandy were already there. There were about 20 girls there and some random guys. We later found out that most of the girls were “Working girls”. What a shock that was for us! Yeah so we dance sporadically to random songs. I actually really liked the music because they were playing ( 3 girls were singing actually) songs like Dhoom,, Kiss Kiss( Chamz- I thought of you and our Tarkan obsession!!!!), and even Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Random but fun and I was in such a dancing mood for some odd reason. Ok so in the opposite corner of the club were some American marines. We eventually ended up talking to them and one of them was one of the embassy officials who came to the diplomatic briefing that same morning! He was only like 30 or something. They were all really nice and this one guy was an amazing dancer. He was dancing by himself so I went over and asked him to teach me some of his fancy footwork. I made a a good attempt but its kind of hard to heel-toe in flip flops. Wait that’s not the real reason. I’m just hip-hop challenged. The club closed around midnight so we decided to go somewhere else. What a safer way to go out then with a diplomat, marines, and a driver in a diplomat vehicle (the ones with the blue CD license plates mind you). We went to another club which was kind of sketch but I had fun because I was dancing and talking the whole time. We were taking about how the Burmese view Americans, the current govt, marine life in Burma and all that kind of stuff so it was great. All this while we were on the dance floor possible being eyed by some MI’s (his words, not mine). This club was playing some old school music Aqua, You are my Soniya, etc. One of the other marines requested the DJ to play a song for me – Made in India. haha It was kind of hard to dance to some of this music but whatever. We left this club and then went to a hotel called Sedona where there was another club in the basement. This one was Halloween themed for the time being but pretty empty. When we first came in they were playing Bhangra (Baari Barsi) so I got a chance to teach him some dancing. There were 2 or 3 very intoxicated older Indian gentlemen there who were apparently ambassadors and embassy officials. Interesting. We basically had the dance floor to ourselves after these men tried to do bhangra so he asked his DJ friend to play some salsa, meringue, and bachata (please excuse my spelling(. I had SO much fun dancing…and it wasn’t the kind of dirty dancing that goes on in clubs back home. It’s real dancing- not once were we “grinding” (pardon my language) or anything of the sort. I think that’s one of the reasons it was so much fun. Also he was translating the songs for me as we were dancing and the lyrics were really nice. Yeah so we left this place around 2 am. Well before we left we had kind of a situation. We couldn’t find Ted. We had no idea where hew went- we checked hotel reception and all around but he was nowhere to be found. I was flipping out and more worried than I have ever been on this trip. I was seriously on the verge of tears because I felt so responsible. Trip leader Aparna hat on. We drove to another hotel to see if he might be there but to no avail. We finally headed back to our hotel and I went up to my room and broke down. Thank God Natalie and Lindsay were there otherwise I would have been beside myself with worry. It’s the first time I’ve cried this whole voyage…ugh. We went through all the worst-case scenarios and then I called Jed’s room and sure enough Ted was there. I won’t go into detail about what happened…
We had to be ready by 8 am so I just wanted to go to sleep after that. So today morning comes and Ted apologizes at breakfast. It was a sincere apology so everything is ok now but it certainly was scary last night. Breakfast was great- so much selection (Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Burmese, veg.)- I kind of wish I was hungrier. We left the hotel at 8:!5am (not bad for a planned time of 8am). Our first stop was the WWII cemetery which was so gorgeous and well-maintained. I know cemetery and gorgeous probably shouldn’t go together but if you saw it you would say the same thing. It was mostly filled with Indian soldiers and a lot of them were nameless tombs. The next place we went was the monastery school. Oh yeah on the way there George demonstrated how to tie the lyongi baso and how there were different functional ways of tying it. He also explained to us about the tannaka paste. All around Burma you will see people with these yellow smears on their faces. At first I thought it was religious but aparrently it was just good for the skin and acts as a natural sunblock. He put some on for all of us and I bought some at the monastery. At the monastery we got to watch the monks proceed to mealtime (after 1pm they can’t eat). There were over 1000 monks! It was also really interesting to see the kitchen and the bulk quantities of food they make. After this we went to a replica of one of the palaces which was interesting enough but obviously very fake. We walked quickly through all this and continued on our way to Kyaikhito. We took a break for lunch and I just bought some water and ketchup chips. I tried to sleep once we got back on the bus but it was just too tempting to stare out the window. I could do that for hours. Listen to music and just stare out the window. We finally reached the base camp, packed up all our stuff and jumped into thee open-top lorries. I sat in front with the driver :-). We stopped after some time because the road became one way and we had to wait for another truck to come down. George called these trucks the roller-coaster of Myanmar. It definitely was scary because it was incredibly steep. While we were stopped me, Ted, and Lindsay explored the stream nearby which was so clear and cool- we all felt like jumping in for a swim. We got back on the truck for a quick ride to the off-loading spot. We were told we’d have some “light-trekking” to our hotel but that was definitely a gross understatement. This was probably the most strenuous hike I’ve ever done. Maybe it had something to d with the stifling heat and heavy backpack? The whole way was steep uphill and winding, not to mention never-ending. I left so terrible because I didn’t know it would be like this so I didn’t warn people to pack light or be prepared for hiking. I later found out that the people who were having the hardest time doing the climb were trash talking me on the way up. I guess I deserved it but it still hurt. Ugh Oh well. I I’m glad I was walking with Carri and Rachel because we were pumping ourselves up and talking about how rewarding it would be once we got to the top. Actually it was rewarding all the way up- the view was fantastic and just kept getting better and better. We also had the option of having our bags carried or better yet ourselves (like a palanquin) carried but most of us opted out of that- pride maybe? Whatever- I’m so glad I hiked all the way up. Most of us were pretty out of shape so we had to take quite a few breaks but once we got up to the top it was so unbelievable that I forgot all my aches and pains. Our hotel is right next to the Golden Rock. Granted the electricity doesn’t turn on until 7pm and sometimes shorts out randomly and there are all sorts of bugs and lizards all over the room, the setting could not be more serene and rejuvenating. I still can’t believe we’re here. Oh yeah we had another scare- on the way the way up here Al was in front so somehow he ended up on another path. I was worried but then realized that we were at th to top of a mountain in Burma. You can’t go any higher than top unless you are aiming for heaven. Sure enough eh found us within minutes. We all washed up really quickly ( I was seriously sweating in places I didn’t know had sweat glands) and then walked over to the Golden Rock pagoda. The sun was just setting and it was just beautiful. We walked around for a while and then just sat down and enjoyed the view. It is apparently good luck to visit 3 times a year and only men can go and place gold leaf on the rock. Only men though- so George took the boys up there. After that me, Al, and Arianna walked around the market stalls which spilled out over steep steps leading down the mountain. I bought new slippers because my target flip flops were wearing thin ( I could feel the rocks under them). I also bought a sandalwood necklace and a fake jade ring. Oh yeah and those weird bubble thins that we used to get when we were younger with the small plastic stick and tubes of gel. I don’t even know why I bought that Oh well. Oh yeah so while we were in the market the electricity went out. It was memorable to say the least. We headed back to the hotel and had to take our shoes off again in the pagoda. We were all freaking out because we didn’t want to step on any bugs and here were some of the largest bugs Id ever seen in my life hiding in the shadows at our feet. What an experience. We were happy when we could put our shoes back on. We got back to the hotel, washed up and headed to dinner. Dinner was nice today- simple but good. They had separate veg. food for us and even made Ashish and I sit separately from everyone else. The food was really good though. After dinner I took a LONG shower because I was still sweaty from the hike. I’ve just been journaling since then (paper journal). It started raining a few minutes ago. At first I thought the fan increased speed but it just turned out to be the sound of heavy rain. Wow. I’ve never heard such heavy rain. It even woke Lindsay up. I certainly hope it’s not raining like this tomorrow! Ooh yay- a pretty bug just christened my journal with its presence. Lucky me. Ok time to stick my head under my blanket and hope no bugs fly into my mouth while I’m sleeping. That’s definitely non-veg. Good night!

October 28th
Early morning today. I woke up at 7am and walked back over to the Golden Rock pagoda. It was so misty but absolutely gorgeous. It was just so peaceful to walk through the temple in absolute silence with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company. I walked back to the hotel to grab a quick breakfast and then we were on our way. The hike down the mountain was not nearly as excruciating as the hike up. It was all downhill so it wreaked havoc on our ankles and quads but it wasn’t as strenuous. We took trucks back down and this time I sat in the back. The drive was amazing and we made it even more fun by singing the randomest songs (Down by the Bay, Grease, Christina Aguilera, etc.) On our drive back to Bago we stopped at a cheroot factory and a weaving village. They were both really interesting. We also stopped at a pagoda where there were 4 statues of the Buddha each facing a different direction. They were massive- it was such a cool place. We got back to the hotel, walked around the shopping center for a little bit and then headed over to a hotel for dinner. We were seated outside with the lighted up royal barge as our view. Dinner was amazing- rice and all different kinds of vegetable curries and salads. Oh yeah I forgot to mention- I got my eyebrows done today at the hotel. They didn’t do waxing or threading- she did some strange thing with a razor type tool. I don’t even know what it was but it didn’t work one bit and she shaped them really well! So, after dinner we got quick showers and then got ready to go out. And by out we mean downstairs to the disco in the hotel. It wasn’t nearly as fun tonight as it was last night because there were more people so I was a lot more conscious. Eh..oh well. We went to Sedona again and that was a LOT of fun. They were playing good music and there was an AMAZING band. Oh yeah- something interesting. I love you baby and if it’s quite all right I’ll love you baby…trust in me when I say…oh pretty baby..you know that song? That’s what they do the electric slide to here. It’s hilarious. But I love the electric slide so much…and you can really do it to any music. haha The rest of the night was fun but oh so long…I’m not even going to tell you what time we got back to the hotel! Well at least most of us woke up on time this morning. We left the hotel around 9:15am and went to see another temple which was gold gilded and absolutely gorgeous. It holds 2 of the Buddha’s hairs as a relic and we were actually allowed to see it. Our last stop of the tour was to Scott Market- a busy shopping area. We had some free time and guess what…I actually bought some things! I bought a few t-shirts, a purse, and short heeled sandals for salsa. It was a successful shopping trip. We came back to the hotel and went to the grocery store again. I just got some drinks and then we headed back to pack up our stuff and check out. We took some group pictures and then headed back to port. I can’t believe how fast these 3 and a half days went. As we were driving back I felt like we were just driving the opposite way yesterday. Crazy. I am so exhausted so I decided to give myself a day of rest and chill out on the ship tonight. Best idea ever. My mind and body both need some rest. In attempt to conserve water we have limited supply these days. Tonight we only have water from 6pm-9pm and I don’t even know what the schedule will be tomorrow. Eh…whatever. It’s not a big deal. So far today I’ve just been cleaning, organizing, and getting some stuff in order for days to come. I am still exhausted so I want to go to sleep soon….but I also want to read for global studies. We’ll see what happens. OH I forgot to mention that the Grand Royal Soccer cup is happening while we are here and all the teams are staying at the same hotel we were at. There were some nice looking Indian soccer players…:-) haha ok sorry!

October 29th, 2005

I woke up this morning to the Voice saying that they will be shutting the water off in 5 minutes and it wouldn’t be turned on until 6 pm tonight (and only for 3 hours at that). Yeah so I showered really fast and ran upstairs to Purser’s Square to check the Ticket Trader. There was nothing there but I saw Nessie upstairs and her and Cherie were going out somewhere and they asked if I wanted to come along. I grabbed my stuff and we left. We found a taxi driver and asked him to take us to this village that Nessie had gone to the other day. I think we had a misunderstanding and we ended up at some random “Races Village” place. We tried to tell him that we didn’t want to go there but we couldn’t speak Burmese and he couldn’t speak English. He drove us a little ways to some tea house and his friend came outside to talk to us because he spoke a little bit English. We explained to him where we wanted to go and he gave directions to the driver. We were about to leave and then the guy just got in to the car and decided to come with us. He was kind of like our tour guide for the rest of the day. His English was minimal but it was better than nothing. I get so frustrated not being able to speak the language, especially when the people of the country make the effort to learn English. We can only pick up a few select words in a matter of days. Ugh. Anyways, so we drove to this little village and he just led us around. All the people were so inviting and smiling. Nessie had stickers so we went around putting stickers on the hands of little kids. They were so shy at first but then they slowly started warming up to us. It was a lot of fun. It was so great to see how regular people lived their lives. There was this one little boy who hid his eyes form us! It was so cute… Ok so after that we went across the street and sat in this little tea house. We had some of the local soda and then were on our way again. We drove for a short time to the University of Yangon. Apparently it was exam time so there were students sitting everywhere studying. We got out of the car and walked around for a little bit. We met some girls and started talking to them. We exchanged addresses ( home addresses not email address) so hopefully they will write. We came back to the ship after that and then I’ve just been chilling out. We’re going to try and go to the soccer game now. Will write later.

October 31st, 2005
Happy Halloween! Let me recap the past couple of days. The soccer game was SO much fun! We took the 4pm shuttle to Trader’s Hotel and then took a taxi to the stadium. Buying tickets to the game was easy enough and it only cost 2000 kyats (less than $2 for an international soccer game). We got our tickets and headed to the gate. At the gate there was a turnstile that we could barely fit through because it was definitely made for Burmese people who are indeed petite. Rob said he had to jump over it because there was no way he could fit through! lol There were no assigned seats so we just walked all the way up to the top and sat down. There were a lot of people there but it wasn’t full. Everyone was very spirited though. After watching the game for a bit we walked down to buy ourselves some Myanmar jerseys and when we got back there were SAS kids in the middle of the rowdiest Myanmar crowd teaching them how to do the wave! It was awesome. At first I thought they would think we were being obnoxious but the I realized that they were happy we were there and immersing ourselves in their culture. Oh yeah, another funny thing. They don’t allow glass bottles inside because people throw them so if you want to drink anything they pour it in a little plastic bag and give you a straw! An ingenious idea- a bit inconvenient because you can’t put the bag down- but clever nonetheless. Ok so after the game, which Myanmar won by the way (they beat Bangladesh), we just headed back to Trader’s. The driver’s side was on the opposite side of the taxi we rode in so when I tried to get in I definitely went for the driver’s seat! lol the rest of the time was fun- halloween party at grand plaza, sketch BME1 hotel, and the next morning we had an AMAZING buffet lunch at sedona. After lunch Natalie and I went to get haircuts because we didn’t have too much time. I only wanted a trim but the lady cut off much more than I wanted!!! eeks it’s shorter than I’m used to but I guess I’ll get used to it…yeah so after our terribly expensive (2500 kyats) haircuts we took the 5pm shuttle back to the ship. We actually didn’t leave until this afternoon because of the tides, it was so weird going to class while we’re in still in port.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DIDI!!!!!!

So, Halloween Day!!! Aparna (the other one) and Mara made us a happy halloween sign with blow pops and put it on our door. lol it was great. So after Global Studies and Food I met with Gail to talk about our Community College for Diwali. I’m a little bit stressed out about it…I hope it turns out well. Mom and Dad- thanks SOOO much for doing all that research for me! There’s no way I could have done that from the ship. I’ll let you know how it goes. After meeting with Gail I went down to Dean Bev’s office because she wanted to show me this book she got on Festivals of India. She photocopied the Diwali page for me so that was nice. She also let me borrow Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum because I think it has a Diwali scene in it? I can’t remember. The rest of the day was busy busy busy, I keep making myself schedules on my laptop with those post it notes. Who was it that told me about desktop post its? Jess? Thanks!!

Ok so let’s just jump straight to Halloween because it was AMAZING!!!! I can’t believe the costumes people came up with…especially considering we’re on a ship in the middle of the ocean so we are all forced to be creative. The other Aparna and I dressed up as the “Good Aparna” and “Bad Aparna”. Really, the other Aparna thought of it and got all the stuff. I was wearing a white ruffly skirt, silver HIGH heels that I could barely walk in, that white shiny scarf mom sent me in my birthday package, a white tank top with silver sequins on the straps, silver tinsel, big silver earrings, and a silver crown acquired in Burma. The other Aparna was wearing black shoes, red fishnet stockings, a black ruffly skirt, black corset top, red tinsel, black and red earrings, and a matching red crown. I thought we looked great. πŸ™‚ Everyone loved it…lol. It was soo much fun just dressing up. Ok so we went upstairs the Halloween Party and there were some fabulous costumes- a girl dressed up as the map channel which is channel 01 on our tv’s and shows where the ship is. so she taped a big map to herself and carried around an ipod and speakers blaring celine dion and other terrible music they play on that channel. Rob and 2 other people from UCSB dressed up as a rickshaw and on the back it said ” I love India” or “Honk if you love India” or something like that. There were guys dressed up as Ganesh, Gandhi (he won a prize), and Aladdin. Alexis and some other girl dressed up as PB and J…our staple food. There was a kid dressed up as the Dean’s Memo, 4 girls as Tetris pieces, a postcard seller from Burma, Brian and Lee were Siamese twins- somehow both of their legs fit into one leg of these pants Brian bought in Burma, Pia and someone else were the Lundy twins, there was a group of monks, Daniel was wolverine- he shaved his facial hair accordingly and taped butter knives to his fingers, Natalie was the girl from the ipod commercial- she was wearing all black, painted her face black and danced around with her ipod (she won a prize too), Alex got Sandeep’s (one of the security team) crew uniform, there was a group of street fighters, red riding hood , big bad wolf, and the grandmother, pregnant girls with signs that said “7 months after the voyage”, Chippendale strippers, and Tanya was “the Kenyan safari you all missed” she was wearing all different animal hide fabric (she also won a prize). After the costume contest there was a dance upstairs which was SO much fun despite the intense HEAT. I love that everyone can have sober fun. Yeah so awesome time. I was so stressed out during the day about schoolwork and all that but I realized that it’s not worth it. There are so many more important things in life. Take Halloween for example. πŸ™‚

November 1, 2005

So we just had our community college for Diwali- it went unbelievably well (minus some technological difficulties)!!! I am SO happy right now…ok so after film class (we watched Scent of a Green Papaya…eh I didn’t enjoy it too much) I ate a quick dinner and got ready. I had to wear one of Jess’s new kurtis because I didn’t have anything new to wear. I threw all my stuff together and ran upstairs to Classroom #4 to set up. Aparna and Amo were a little late so Phillip and I just rearranged the room a little bit. We moved all the chairs so people could sit on the floor and we set up the Ganesh statue that Moriah lent to me. She also gave me a poster of Lakshmi but the walls weren’t magnetic so I couldn’t put it up. When Aparna and Amo came we started cutting up the mitthai, setting up the computer, and greeting people as they came in. Ok so first I showed a clip from K3G- remember in the beginning it’s Diwali when they are singing the title song? We showed a bit of that. After that we tried to get our power point up and running but that wasn’t too successful. The projector didn’t like my laptop too much. We just ended up improvising it and doing it from the screen. Everyone was pretty attentive and interested so that was good. We went through a quick explanation of what Diwali was, what it meant to us, the religious significance behind it, traditions associated with it, etc. After that we explained what the aarti was and we talked about each thing as we put it on the tray- divos, milk, honey, coins, mitthai, and all that. We did aarti after that- I made little information sheets with facts about Diwali on one side and the words to the aarti with meaning on the other side. We did a nice aarti and then made everyone eat mitthai. We were afraid we weren’t going to have enough so we all bought some in India. We ended up having way too much! Everyone LOVED it though. Aparna is really good at public speaking and I most certainly am NOT so that worked out well too. After we cleaned up we took the tray outside to the smoking deck where we could actually light a candle and did our own little aarti outside. It was actually really uplifting and spiritual. We walked around giving away the rest of the mitthai and then Aparna and I went up to pub night to socialize for a little bit. I came back down and now I’m stalling before buckling down and reading for global studies. Eeks! Oh yeah I forgot to mention before, Professor Strumpf our music ethnocologist (is that the right word?) had a minor heart attack and had to be flown to Bangkok from Yangon. I think he is in stable condition now, we are all definitely keeping him in our thoughts and prayers. Hopefully he will be able to rejoin our voyage somewhere along the way. Ok I think I have done enough stalling for tonight! I have to finish Myanmar and Vietnam readings. Good night!

Vietnam is a country, not just a war.

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