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    [post_date] => 2007-06-24 00:00:00
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I've never been a particular genius at getting gifts for anyone, and that includes homestay families, but I can give you some general parameters that I might go by:

If you are going to pack things from the States, go with things that are light and either personal or useful. Examples of personal things include pictures of yourself (they'll want to show people the foreigner who visited them), or something from the States or your state in particular. Useful things would include small flashlights or medicine, but while I think those things are generally a better idea than candy for the kids, I am also very wary of the kind of message they send about the current practices they use for living their lives.

It's a tricky situation because something as simple as a little LED flashlight can start an unexpected change of events wherein the people begin to look down on their current methods of lighting (usuall small oil lanterns or candles) which, in turn, makes themselves feel old-fashioned. It also creates a non-sustainable dependence on batteries. There's a very similar process that happens with Western medicine that leads to people losing faith in traditional healers and becoming dependent on medicines that may be very difficult to acquire.

So, I guess just go with personal items. I would also pick up some fruit from the market before you go to whatever homestay--I know I will.

Finally, the best thing you can do is to send pictures back to the family. This seems like such a basic thing, but I find that people rarely do it because after the trip they become wrapped up in their old lives again and procrastination works its enervating magic.

If people have other ideas that they aren't sure about, run them by here or on the facebook page (much faster turn-around). Or just send me email.

Jon

[post_title] => Family Gifts [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => family-gifts-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2007-06-24 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=55837 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 474 [name] => Cambodia, Summer 2007 [slug] => cambodia-summer-2007 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 474 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 260 [count] => 50 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 32.1 [cat_ID] => 474 [category_count] => 50 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Cambodia, Summer 2007 [category_nicename] => cambodia-summer-2007 [category_parent] => 260 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2007/cambodia-summer-2007/ ) ) [category_links] => Cambodia, Summer 2007 )

Cambodia, Summer 2007

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Family Gifts

Jon Morris,Cambodia, Summer 2007

Description

I’ve never been a particular genius at getting gifts for anyone, and that includes homestay families, but I can give you some general parameters that I might go by: If you are going to pack things from the States, go with things that are light and either personal or useful. Examples of personal things include […]

Posted On

06/24/07

Author

Jon Morris

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As I talk to students, they all seem to have questions about money--how much to take and what form in which to take it. They also don't know the peculiarities of Cambodia's financial system. I am here to answer all of those questions.

1) How much money to take:

I think Dragons recommends $50-75 per week. That feels about right to me, but you might want to adjust depending on how many souvenirs, etc. you need to buy for folks at home.

One thing you definitely don't want to do, though, is get into conspicuous consumption in Cambodia. Not only is it risky behavior, but it will detract from your experience by creating an invisible (but very palpable) barrier between you and the locals.

I'd also like to challenge all of you to see if you can go the whole time without resorting to Western food, especially pre-packaged Western food. Or, let me rephrase that, food that normal Cambodians wouldn't eat on a regular basis.

Not much good came of the French colonial presence in Indochina, but at least they left a taste for good bread and good coffee. Baguettes are easily available all over the country and one of the best experiences you can have in Cambodia is to get up EARLY (6 AMish) and have a coffee with locals at a coffee shop. That's the real deal.

Then there is Western food that most Cambodians don't eat/can't afford. That includes guesthouse food and pre-packaged stuff like Oreos and Lay's. I can admit that both of these can be little doses of sanity--the best pizza I have ever had was in Bangkok after my first two months in Thailand eating nothing but rice--but I encourage you to partake of them sparingly. Every time you eat one of these familiar foods, you are missing out on the opportunity for a new experience.

2) The best form in which to take money:

If it were me, I would bring $100 in cash and the remainder of my budget in traveller's cheques which should be exchangeable at any bank. I would also bring an ATM card as a back-up, but I am not certain how widespread ATMs are.

3) Cambodia's crazy currency system:

The official currency of Cambodia is the "riel" (which I think means "coin" or "medal"). There are 4,000 riel to one of your American dollars. The trick, though, is that American money is also legal (or at least de facto) tender in Cambodia.

There are no coins in Cambodia, so riel serves the purpose of loose change. If something (a bottle of water, for instance) costs 1,000 riel, you can pay with riel or you can pay with $1, in which case you will get 3,000 riel in change. You can even mix and match the currencies. For example, you can buy a 10,000 riel item with $1 and 6,000 riel, $2 and 2,000 riel, or any other combination you wish.

In general, though, dollars will be used more in tourist areas and for more expensive items while riel is better for the markets.

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Cambodia, Summer 2007

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Money in Cambodia–taking and using

Jon Morris,Cambodia, Summer 2007

Description

As I talk to students, they all seem to have questions about money–how much to take and what form in which to take it. They also don’t know the peculiarities of Cambodia’s financial system. I am here to answer all of those questions. 1) How much money to take: I think Dragons recommends $50-75 per […]

Posted On

06/19/07

Author

Jon Morris

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Hey guys,

I've got something important to discuss with you guys. It's about iPods.

I am going to make a strong personal request that everybody leave their iPods at home. Actually not just iPods, but walkmans, diskmans, and pretty much any personal listening device, so know when I say "iPod" I am referring to anything with earphones pretty much.

This probably seems like a radical (or even harsh) suggestion, but I have reasons for this. I will explain:

There are many, many reasons for me (us, as a leader group, more accurately) requesting that you leave your iPods at home. First of all, when you have something that is obviously expensive in a place where people are destitute, it sets up an awkward--possibly dangerous--dynamic.

I am sure this risk element makes sense to you (Americans are very well tutored on being risk-averse), but you are probably wondering why we would forbid iPods while allowing or even encouraging you to bring a good camera. The crux is that cameras can be used to build relationships while iPods largely prevent them forming. You'll understand this more once you get to Cambodia, but iPods are exclusionary, and you rarely see people in this part of the world doing exclusionary things.

Everything is shared in Cambodia. If you are walking past someone eating, they will invite you to eat. If someone is playing music, you can be sure that it will be loud enough for everyone to hear. When people go traveling, they ALWAYS go in groups. Everything worth doing here--especially dull, backbreaking work like planting rice--is made more fun by doing it with more people.

This sort of inclusionary sense of community before self is not the way many of us were brought up to think--remember America reveres individual accomplishment, solitary genius, explorers, and the whole mythology of cowboys on a deserted plain--but it is the way things are in Cambodia and throughout most of Asia. If you are listening to headphones with your eyes closed on a bus, not only are you missing out on almost all of the sensory experiences of being in Cambodia, but you are also acting against the Cambodian culture of sharing.

I can personally attest to the amazing things that can be learned if you open yourself up to communicating with random locals on otherwise "boring" bus rides. Almost any Cambodian you meet on a bus will be thrilled if you try to communicate with him or her because they are curious about you and want to learn more, but Cambodians are so shy and respectful of other people's well-being--yes, this is true even though sometimes you will feel like your personal space is violated--that they will almost all endure the awkwardness of not forming a friendship with the person sitting next to them rather than interrupt your listening pleasure.

From the instructors' point of view, not only does it look bad and inappropriate when our students are listening to headphones, but it also makes it harder for us to do our job--that is to open new experiences for you. You may not understand all of this now, but hopefully after our trip you will.

And this is how an iPod is different from a camera. A camera is something that can create a relationship between people--one of the quickest ways to get over the language barrier in a village is to take pictures (and videos especially!) of kids and show them--they love it. Some kids may have never seen a picture of themselves; most will never have seen themselves on video. (This, by the way, is the strongest argument for bringing a digital camera instead of a film one.) You can't do any of these relationship-building things with an iPod.

If you absolutely must have music of some sort, why not consider a little $10 handheld transistor radio? It would be a great alternative, not only because it wouldn't attract thieves or presumptions of wealth, and you would be embracing the culture of sharing by playing music for more than just yourself, but also because I have always held that one of the best ways to get to know a new place is to listen to the radio in that place. Sure, you won't understand much, but you will still get a different kind of feel for Cambodia than you could get any other way.

If there is music that you know you want to share with the Cambodians, write it to a CD. It shouldn't be hard to find a CD player in most situations. Some people may even have a CD player that reads mp3s files.

Oh, for the record, the culture of sharing and exclusionary activities extends to books. You will hardly ever see a Cambodian reading and almost never see a Cambodian reading when there is someone else in the room they could be talking to (unless they are reading a newspaper which usually kicks off a conversation)--it's too exclusionary. So, be mindful of the signals you are sending when you read books at homestays. Unless, of course, it is a book with Cambodian writing where they can help you learn Cambodian, which is a FANTASTIC way to get over that initial homestay hump.

So, I hope that you guys will understand and go along with my request to leave the iPods at home. Yes, there will be times when you _want_ to recede into your own world, but if you stay engaged and fight through the frustrating times (when nothing seems like it is making sense), boring times (on a long bus ride), or times when you just want something familiar, you will have a more rewarding experience overall.

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Cambodia, Summer 2007

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iPods and the importance of community

Jon Morris,Cambodia, Summer 2007

Description

Hey guys, I’ve got something important to discuss with you guys. It’s about iPods. I am going to make a strong personal request that everybody leave their iPods at home. Actually not just iPods, but walkmans, diskmans, and pretty much any personal listening device, so know when I say "iPod" I am referring to anything […]

Posted On

06/15/07

Author

Jon Morris

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OK, folks, after months of sculpting this itinerary, Allana, Josh, and I finally think it is suitable for your perusal. I am going to present a lot of information here and I have spent the last couple of hours figuring out the best way to do it. Your three leaders are a tech-savvy bunch and have been developing the itinerary on Google Documents as a spreadsheet--it was the best option because we all live in different places.

In my own estimation, our spreadsheet is superb in its clarity and elegant in its presentation of copious valuable information, but there is one thing about spreadsheets: when you export a spreadsheet to a text-only editor like the Yak Yak forum, bad, bad things happen. The information would have been so garbled and disorganized that we might as well have written it in Khmer.

So, sacrificing elegance for clarity, I have decided to present the information this way. First is a geographical itinerary by date--simply where we will be each day. After that, though, I have listed what you will really want to focus on. For location (and for most travel days), I have listed our primary Activity, which of the nine Program Elements can/will be addressed in that place, and some of the many, many possible Independent Study Projects that would be appropriate to that environment. We have added this information so that you can start getting a feel for what you would like to focus on, especially for your ISP.

But this is important. Please do not feel that you are limited by what we have decided are likely ISP topics for a given place, and please don't think that because a Program Element is omitted from a given location that it will not be present--you can learn a lot about Buddhism by interacting with your fellow travellers on a bus just as you can have wonderful Service Learning moments while playing soccer (or frisbee) with some kids. In reality, everything is possible, all of the time. Cambodia is magical like that.

So, without further ado, here's the plan. Enjoy.

Los Angeles

Activity: Welcome to Dragons Orientation; flight to Singapore (arrive Singapore 11:35, June 30)

Phnom Penh (3 days)

Activity: Arrive 5:30 PM, June 30; welcome dinner; introduction to Cambodian culture and language; Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng Torture Prison Museum

Program Elements:Language, Development

ISP Options:Language study, culture, genocide

PP to Mondulkiri

Activity:Travel

Program Elements:Rugged Travel, Development

ISP Options:Methods of transporation

Mondulkiri (4 days)

Activity:Jungle trek

Program Elements:Rugged Travel, Focus of Inquiry, Language, Development, Trekking, Religion, Homestay, ISP (for some)

ISP Options:Ethnic minority rights, survey of development issues, effects of tourism, environmental conservation, gender roles, methods of transportation

Mondulkiri to Kratie

Activity:Travel, dolphins

Program Elements:Rugged Travel, Development, ISP (for some), Language

ISP Options:Animal and environmental conservation

Kratie

Activity:CRDT (a non-profit) office and possible village stay

Program Elements:Development, Service Learning, Focus of Inquiry, ISP, Language

ISP Options:Rural development

Kratie to Kampong Cham

Activity:Travel

Program Elements:Rugged Travel, Development, ISP (for some), Language

ISP Options:Methods of transportation

Kampong Cham to Siem Reap

Activity:Travel

Program Elements:Rugged Travel, Development, ISP, Religion, Language

ISP Options:Methods of transportation

Siem Reap (4 days)

Activity:Children's Hospital, Angkor

Program Elements:Development, Service Learning, ISP, FOI, Religion, Language

ISP Options:Health, medicine, methods of service, history, architecture, Korean tourists, international vs national tourists, tourism development

Siem Reap to Battambang

Activity:Travel (by boat)

Program Elements:Floating village living

ISP Options:Transportation, traditional floating village lifestyles

Battambang

Activity:ADA (non-profit) and village visit, Bamboo Train

Program Elements:Development, Homestay, ISP, Service Learning, FOI, Religion, Language

ISP Options:French colonial architecture, participatory development, rural development

Battambang to Pursat

Activity:Travel

Program Elements:Rugged Travel, ISP, Development, FOI, Language

ISP Options:Transportation

Pursat (2 days)

Activity:Sustainable Cambodia (non-profit)

Program Elements:Service Learning, ISP, Development, FOI, Language

ISP Options:Rural vs urban, education

Pursat to Phnom Penh

Activity:Travel (Train)

Program Elements:Rugged Travel, ISP, Development, FOI, Language

ISP Options:Transportation

Phnom Penh

Activity:Killing Fields (the movie)

Program Elements:Development, FOI, ISP, Language

ISP Options:Urban poverty, air pollution, genocide

Prek Pdao (6 days)

Activity:Homestay, possible English camp

Program Elements:Homestay, Religion, FOI, ISP, Development, Rugged Travel, Language, Service Learning

ISP Options:Gender roles, cooking, childcare, elderly and/or Khmer Rouge survivorship, village economy, village youth in economic transition (rural exodus to Phnom Penh/Siem Reap), farming techniques, livestock raising techniques, traditional Khmer architecture, Khmer musical instruments, the Mekong

Phnom Penh

Activity:Travel stopover, homestay debriefing

Program Elements:Homestay, Religion, FOI, ISP, Development, Rugged Travel, Language

ISP Options:Any from homestay or Phnom Penh

Kiriwong (2 days)

Activity:Travel (Phnom Penh to Kiriwong), temple camping trip and village homestay

Program Elements:Homestay, Religion, FOI, ISP, Development, Rugged Travel, Language

ISP Options:Juxtaposition of village life with that or Prek Pdao

Kampot

Activity:Bokor Hill Station, ISP presentations

Program Elements:Development, Rugged Travel, FOI, ISP, Language

ISP Options:Khmer Rouge history, French colonialism; presenting ISPs

Kep

Activity:Rabbit Island, ISP presentations

Program Elements:Development, Rugged Travel, FOI, ISP, Language

ISP Options:Fishing villages, coastal cultures, colonialsim, tourism; presenting ISPs

Phnom Penh (2 days)

Activity:Travel to PP, ISP presentations, last minute shopping, farewell dinner

Program Elements:Bringing it all together

ISP Options:Presenting ISPs

Return to USA

Activity:Recuperation

Program Elements:(Not) Rugged Travel

ISP Options:Reverse culture shock

[post_title] => WTBD Cambodia 2007 Course Itinerary [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wtbd-cambodia-2007-course-itinerary [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2007-06-14 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=55840 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 474 [name] => Cambodia, Summer 2007 [slug] => cambodia-summer-2007 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 474 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 260 [count] => 50 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 32.1 [cat_ID] => 474 [category_count] => 50 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Cambodia, Summer 2007 [category_nicename] => cambodia-summer-2007 [category_parent] => 260 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2007/cambodia-summer-2007/ ) ) [category_links] => Cambodia, Summer 2007 )

Cambodia, Summer 2007

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WTBD Cambodia 2007 Course Itinerary

Jon Morris,Cambodia, Summer 2007

Description

OK, folks, after months of sculpting this itinerary, Allana, Josh, and I finally think it is suitable for your perusal. I am going to present a lot of information here and I have spent the last couple of hours figuring out the best way to do it. Your three leaders are a tech-savvy bunch and […]

Posted On

06/14/07

Author

Jon Morris

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Greetings from Cambodia!

Get over here already, I'm so excited to start this trip! I have read everyone's letters of introduction and I can not wait to meet you all. You definitely seem like you are an open minded and enthusiastic group of students ready to learn from and love the people and culture of Cambodia. Adi, I'm sure your friends were right in recommending Dragons to you; we're all going to have a great summer! Jon, Josh and I have taken a lot of time to plan some great adventures for you in the upcoming months!

My name is Allana Hearn and I am the final member of your trio of instructors to post this self introduction. I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada (hey Emma! I love Van too!) and grew up loving the outdoors, sports, animals and traveling. As I read all of your introduction letters over and over again I realized how much we all have in common. John I too love traveling in the outdoors and just as you have had tons of experience doing this in the American North West I have had amazing opportunities kayaking, camping, cross country skiing,etc throughout Canada. Kristin just like you I am a vegetarian; actually I have been since I was about your age. I also studied International Development in University and definitely recommend it. Stormie your line "I literally couldn't stop smiling!" pretty much describes me every time I think about working with Dragons! Jumping up and down? Yup that's me.

While studying International Development at school I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to move to Ecuador for a year to study and volunteer full time. I have never forgot this experience not only for the amazing Ecuadorians I befriended but also because it solidified the fact that I would forever want to experience new cultures, meet new people and try to make this crazy world a little better everyday.

For the last five months I have been living and volunteering with an NGO based in Phnom Penh called The PEPY Ride. It is a really interesting organization that supports rural education in government schools by raising funds organizing bicycle tours and volunteer trips.

I've spent hours upon hours during the last few months at some of the schools we work with playing Frisbee with the students and they love it! I'm sure children and adults alike are going to love Ben and Erin showing them how to throw a Frisbee, and Mia and I might need some tips too!

I look forward to meeting all of you, learning about you and from you, and experiencing this wonderful country with an amazing group of people. Joey I look forward to seeing if you manage to come with an empty bag!

See you soon in LA

Allana

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Cambodia, Summer 2007

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Kampuchea som svang gome! Welcome to Cambodia!

Allana Hearn,Cambodia, Summer 2007

Description

Greetings from Cambodia! Get over here already, I’m so excited to start this trip! I have read everyone’s letters of introduction and I can not wait to meet you all. You definitely seem like you are an open minded and enthusiastic group of students ready to learn from and love the people and culture of […]

Posted On

06/7/07

Author

Allana Hearn

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The One Set of Clothes Option

Hi, I'm Jon Morris, one of the leaders for the Cambodia trip this summer. I'll give everyone a more in-depth introduction later, but I wanted to answer Joey's question first.

If I were going to do this option (and I still may) here is the way I would do it.

I would get a backpack about the size that most of you use when you go to school. I would pack my camera, battery, memory sticks, etc. I would pack all the underwear that I think I would need for the trip (maybe five pair)--it may seem like cheating a bit, but I don't care for the style of undies prevalent in SE Asia--they are mostly of the Speedo variety. I would also pack the socks I would want for the trip.

As for outer-clothes, I would wear a nice change of clothes on the airplane (I think it is polite to wear nice clothes on planes), probably with a pair of black tennis shoes which won't get noticeably dirty as easily as other colors would. I'd also wear an anorak or jacket that could double as something to keep me warm in case it is chilly in the mountains during the early morning or to keep a drizzling rain off of me. Somethng heavier wouldn't make much sense; when Cambodia really wants to rain, it doesn't matter what you wear--you are going to get wet.

Oh, I would bring a cover for my backpack, even if it is just a Hefty bag. Wet stuff stinks, both literally and figuratively.

I would also pack some deodorant and a pair of flip-flops, but only because I have size 13 feet. If my feet were smaller (even size 12), I would just buy flip-flops in Cambodia. That said, all the flip-flops I use currently have been purchased in Thailand. Even though I am a foot-size outlier in SE Asia, I can still find footwear, it just takes a little more time to find a good pair that fits.

For my first day in Phnom Penh, I would have another nice shirt (or maybe the Dragons t-shirt you will get) and a pair of long, quick-dry pants that I could wear out into the market.

If I really wanted to go hardcore, I might not even bring a toothbrush (because I know I would get a small one to use on Singapore Airlines), but I would more likely bring toiletries (shampoo, liquid soap, toothpaste) in the amount that the TSA allows you to take on as carry-on. I'd probably bring a razor and a travel-size of shaving gel, but I am also not opposed to just shaving with soap if need be.

None of this, however, should imply that I ever expect to smell or look bad during my time in Cambodia. SE Asians already think that "barang" (what you and I are--Westerners) smell bad as a general rule and don't know how to take care of ourselves. I make it a point to prove them wrong.

I don't wear glasses or contacts, but if I did, I would definitely bring them. I would probably tend towards glasses since they are less maintenance. I might even bring a spare set, because, you know, things happen.

As for extra money needed to outfit yourself, I can't imagine it taking over $200, and probably much less than that once it becomes apparent how little one needs to get by successfully.

Subjunctively, if I were female, I would probably also pack necessary feminine hygeine products, a nice skirt that I feel comfortable in, and maybe even a pair of nice-looking comfortable slip-on shoes (but definitely not heels).

In the not-necessary-but-nice-to-have category, I would bring a thumbdrive (just in case I wanted to get a copy of a picture from someone), an album of pictures of friends/family (mainly to use as a topic of conversation and so Cambodian friends can visualize part of your life), a headlamp or mini MAGlite, and ONE book that I wanted to try to read over the trip.

Finally, unless I already had a diary that I wanted to bring with me (or write in on the plane), I would probably just buy one in Cambodia, but I might splurge on a few good pens bought in the States. The pens in the States are just better, it seems.

So, it sounds like I have mentioned a lot of stuff here, but if you think about it, the bag that I would be packing would probably weigh less than a gallon of milk (much of which would be the book I was going to read). I can't really overemphasize how invigorating it is to travel lightly.

Feel free to ask more questions if you have them.

Jon

[post_title] => The one set of clothes option [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-one-set-of-clothes-option-2 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2007-06-01 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=55842 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 474 [name] => Cambodia, Summer 2007 [slug] => cambodia-summer-2007 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 474 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 260 [count] => 50 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 32.1 [cat_ID] => 474 [category_count] => 50 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Cambodia, Summer 2007 [category_nicename] => cambodia-summer-2007 [category_parent] => 260 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/summer-2007/cambodia-summer-2007/ ) ) [category_links] => Cambodia, Summer 2007 )

Cambodia, Summer 2007

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The one set of clothes option

Jon Morris,Cambodia, Summer 2007

Description

The One Set of Clothes Option Hi, I’m Jon Morris, one of the leaders for the Cambodia trip this summer. I’ll give everyone a more in-depth introduction later, but I wanted to answer Joey’s question first. If I were going to do this option (and I still may) here is the way I would do […]

Posted On

06/1/07

Author

Jon Morris

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Sua s’dei and Sawat Dee Krup!!!

Fellow travelers, trail blazers and pioneers:

I am writing you from beautiful Chiang Mai, Thailand. It has been raining the past few days, which is a welcome change from the intense heat of the last couple of months. The past few months have been hectic. It seems that they have been filled with travel and never enough rest. I can hardly wait for the incredible journey that awaits all of us.

I can’t begin to tell you how overcome I am with emotion for our experience this summer. We are about to begin a journey to an incredible nation. Cambodia is a place that has experienced incredible hardship beyond anything any human being deserves to experience. Yet through this hardship, the Khmer people are hopeful and inspire beyond anything you can possibly imagine. We are lucky. All of us will be creating the first Where There Be Dragons Summer program based entirely in Cambodia. Throughout the course we will all be inspired, amazed, challenged, frustrated, angry and confused. We will taste new and different foods, see development at its most basic roots, trek through exotic jungles, witness poverty, hunger, and the spoils of civil war. We will teach English and experience life through the eyes of another culture, and be challenged to analyze our own. We are stepping into an experience and existence far from that with which we are comfortable. Cambodia asks us to look within ourselves and brings out the very best in each of us.

I have been based in Asia since October of 1999. I arrived here after graduating from Princeton University. Embracing the unknown, I embarked on a teaching career and was placed in the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Since then, I became involved in rock climbing in Thailand. I was always a rock climber. I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and growing up in the Rocky Mountains gave me a love for the outdoors that will never die. I am an avid traveler and have traveled extensively in SE and East Asia including Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Burma, China, and South Korea.

In July of 2000 I helped to build the largest artificial rock climbing wall in Thailand. Since then, I have helped to develop natural rock climbing in the Chiang Mai area. Crazy Horse Buttress is the name of the area and it has now achieved international status as a climbing destination. I have written a guide to rock climbing in Northern Thailand which acts as a mini-Lonely Planet guide for climbers. I am a Wilderness EMT.

Through my company Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures, we have helped to establish a local rock climbing community and have introduced climbing to many local Thai people. We have sent climbers to the ESPN Asian X Games in Malaysia and Korea, and opened numerous opportunities for Thai climbers in both competition and employment. One of our goals has been to change rock climbing in Thailand from a tourist activity to one that local Thai people participate in and enjoy. One of our specialties is to provide culturally interactive outdoor adventure programs for international high school students. Please have a look at my website if you want to learn more about what I do at www.thailandclimbing.com.

My most recent trip to Cambodia was for a rock climbing expedition in the southern province of Takeo. Over about 8 days, a few friends and I opened new boulder problems and climbed a 300 meter high slab to the top of Phnom Bei Sambao. http://www.alpinist.com/doc/ALP19/newswire-cambodia-new-area-bouldering-mokwai The experience solidified what I already believed about Cambodia. It is a place that exposes my most inner self and challenges me to face it. I hope that it does the same for you and that you are able to challenge and open yourself to the incredible change and growth that will happen to all of us this summer.

While we travel, I ask that you open your mind and hearts to another culture. I ask that you be willing to examine yourself and your own culture through the eyes of another. I ask that you be willing to take risks, willing to experience a new and different culture, willing to succeed, willing to fail, willing to make mistakes, willing to listen, willing to ask questions and willing to learn. Most importantly, I ask you to step away from your comfort zone, embrace the newness that surrounds you and be willing to change. I offer to do the same.

As we travel, if we work together to create opportunities for eachother and listen to eachother, we will return better people…with a new attitude on life and a more open and aware view of the world. I have come a long way since my first trip to the region, and I still learn and grow with each new experience. I can’t wait to meet all of you. I know I will learn more from you than I can possibly fathom. Dragons is an incredible experience…one that has changed my life and inspired me to share it with others. I promise to work hard to lead you to a new and exciting part of the world, to challenge you and to help you succeed.

I will be calling you in the next couple of weeks to introduce myself over the phone. I’ll give you some pointers on what to pack, what to leave behind and be ready to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Feel free to contact me whenever you like.

I will see you soon as we embark on our journey.

Josh Morris

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Cambodia, Summer 2007

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Sua s’dei and Sawat Dee Krup!!!

Josh Morris,Cambodia, Summer 2007

Description

Sua s’dei and Sawat Dee Krup!!! Fellow travelers, trail blazers and pioneers: I am writing you from beautiful Chiang Mai, Thailand. It has been raining the past few days, which is a welcome change from the intense heat of the last couple of months. The past few months have been hectic. It seems that they […]

Posted On

05/16/07

Author

Josh Morris

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    [post_date] => 2007-01-01 00:00:00
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Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons' Bolivia Summer Program 2007-2008.Our sample itineraries arebased on past courses; in order to meetinstructor teamgoals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups,future itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course's Yak board for additional itinerary-related postings and updates.

Week One:
Arrive inMiami; fly to La Paz; acclimatization in La Paz while discovering local markets; service learning with local children's group; introduction to Bolivian history and contemporary issues from local experts; day hikes.

Weeks Two - Three:
Cordillera Apolobamba: Rural homestays and language classes in the most remote corner of the Bolivian Andes; learn about Kallawaya (medicine men) culture and traditional healing practices; trek 6 days over 16,000-ft passes on the same trails still used by the Kallawayas; introduction to high alpine ecology; discussions of rural and urban poverty; learn expedition behavior and backcountry navigation.

Weeks Three - Four:

Amazon basin: Descend through the cloud forests and into one of the world's most biologically diverse areas; introduction to rainforest ecology with local NGOs; development and environmental conservation. Extended service project with indigenous Amazon community

Week Five:

Sorata: Home-stay in gorgeous mountain village; service learning and daily activities with local youth association; introduction to contemporary indigenous political issues; opportunities to study Andean music, traditional Aymara weaving. Cordillera Real: Breathtaking trek through the heart of the Bolivian Andes.

Week Six:
La Paz, Lake Titicaca and Tiahuanaco: Visit ruins; work withtheater groups, women’s rights groups, political activists, orphanages and other NGOs.

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Bolivia, Summer 2007

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Bolivia: Sample Itinerary 2007-2008

Dragons Administration,Bolivia, Summer 2007

Description

Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons’ Bolivia Summer Program 2007-2008.Our sample itineraries arebased on past courses; in order to meetinstructor teamgoals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups,future itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course’s Yak board for additional itinerary-related postings and updates. Week One:Arrive […]

Posted On

01/1/07

Author

Dragons Administration

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Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons' India: Himalayan Adventure SummerProgram 2007-2008. Our sample itineraries are based on past courses; in order to meet instructor team goals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups, future itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course's Yak board for additional itinerary-related postings and updates.


Week One:
Orientation in LA; layover in Bangkok; arrival in Delhi: Chadni Chowk market, Jami Masjid, India’s largest mosque; flight to Leh; Begin home-stay with local families.

Week Two:
Home-stays; artisan internships, ISP work; visit regional monasteries, begin study of Tibetan Buddhism. Service work with local NGOs.

Weeks Three - Five:
Trek and explore valley systems outside of Leh: Nubra, Markha valleys, options for extended trek in Zanskar drainage; travel to Spiti, explore more remote drainages that rise up from Keylong.

Weeks Five - Six:
End trekking component, travel to Manali to enjoy hot springs and meetings with venerated lamas. Travel by bus to Delhi; train trip to Agra for exploration of the Taj Mahal.

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India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2007

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India Himalayan Adventure: Sample Itinerary 2007-2008

Dragons Administration,India Himalayan Adventure, Summer 2007

Description

Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons’ India: Himalayan Adventure SummerProgram 2007-2008. Our sample itineraries are based on past courses; in order to meet instructor team goals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups, future itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course’s Yak board for additional […]

Posted On

01/1/07

Author

Dragons Administration

WP_Post Object
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    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2007-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => 

Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons' Mt. Kailas Summer Program 2007-2008. Our sample itineraries are based on past courses; in order to meet instructor team goals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups, future itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course's Yak board for additional itinerary-related postings and updates.


Week One:
Orientation in L.A.; layover in Chengdu; arrive in Lhasa: visit sacred sites – the Jokhang Temple, Potala Palace, Sera and Drepung Monasteries; prepare for overland journey and depart for Ngari Region.

Week Two:
Landcruiser travel: explore the monastic cities of Gyantse and Shigatse; trek around Yamdrok Tso sacred lake; full-day solo; arrive at Lake Manasarovar: prepare for khora trek.

Week Three:
Trek around Manasarovar (alternatively, group may elect to trek to a base camp along the slope of the Himalayas, or another locale between Lhasa and Kailas); intensive discourse on Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.

Week Four:
Mt. Kailas trek: complete khora around sacred mountain; cross Drolma la pass at 18,200 feet; overland Landcruiser travel back east.

Week Five:
Camp at Drigung Monastery and Terdrom Nunnery, hot springs (dependent upon student interest - other possible options may be considered, such as: visit to Shishapangma base-camp, sacred Lake Namtso, or Reting Monastery).

Week Six:
Explore Ganden Monastery; 5-day trek to Samye (oldest monastery in Tibet): Chimpu retreat caves; fly home to U.S.

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Mt. Kailas, Summer 2007

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Mt. Kailas: Sample Itinerary 2007-2008

Dragons Administration,Mt. Kailas, Summer 2007

Description

Following is a sample itinerary for Dragons’ Mt. Kailas Summer Program 2007-2008. Our sample itineraries are based on past courses; in order to meet instructor team goals, as well as the goals and interests of particular student groups, future itineraries are subject to change. Please keep an eye on the course’s Yak board for additional […]

Posted On

01/1/07

Author

Dragons Administration

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