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11 Most Intense Moments of Around the World, 2009

As you read this pre-programmed post, I am flying from Italy to Ghana! I am SO EXCITED and happy about this, and I cannot wait to see what the next three months will bring.

Now, if you’re looking for the drama, you’ve come to the right article. This list will link you directly to the eleven most scary, transformative, and adrenaline-filled moments of the past five months of the Around the World journey.

Do please take the time to click and read the linked articles of at least a few of these moments, because a one-sentence summary really doesn’t do them justice. Please also enjoy the accompanying photos of sculpture and architecture from Florence, Italy! And now, here are….

The Top Eleven Most INTENSE Moments of Around the World, 2009:

11. Being on a beach with ten thousand people as the moon reached it’s fattest form in Ko Phangan, Thailand’s famous monthly Full Moon Party. A gorgeous beach, soaring music, revelers from around the world, fire twirlers, and so much more. It lived up to the hype!

10. The power of Japan’s culture. The Japanese really have their own amazing thing going on, and it’s hard not to feel like an outsider, staring in awe at the miracles zipping around! Japan evoked many intense feelings, and I was grateful to have hosts who acted as guides to explain some of the mystifying elements of the country.

9. Having an entire article written against me and my blog by a well-known author in Vietnam, sparked by my comment that Laos is outwardly more smiley than Vietnam.

I’m grateful to have a somewhat thickened skin after six years of urban teaching, but it was still really painful to read about how I symbolized all that is wrong with backpackers in Southeast Asia!

I think that much of the article was based on misunderstandings and misinterpretations of what I’ve written and what I’ve done, but ultimately, I learned a ton from this jarring episode: about traveling, cultural respect, the bloggosphere, and the need to be aware of the perceptions of others.

In the meantime, for better or worse, the scathing article has attracted over a hundred visitors to my blog!

8. Vietnam’s War Remnants Museum, and thinking long, hard, and often about the fact that my country bombed Southeast Asia for years and years during the Vietnam war, destroying lives, greenery, homes, and still affecting people today.

It seemed impossible, chatting with the local people and gazing at the gorgeous hills, that less than a generation ago, it was all a war zone. It is truly wonderful how far we all have come since then, but the history hurts.

7. Constantly seeing male tourists involved in sex tourism in Southeast Asia. The full spectrum was evident: from an “I’ll take physical advantage of you and you’ll take financial advantage of me” rather equal exchange to abusive, unequal, tragic situations, and even child prostitution.

6. Patting ten giant live tigers in Thailand’s Tiger Temple! Heart racing, eyes gazing at the lush orange and black fur, snarling fangs way too close… You’ve got to check out the photos, and you’ve got to go yourself if you’re ever in Thailand.

5. Many aspects of Cambodia, from its heartbreaking history, to the poverty and its accompanying desperate begging/selling, to the jarring fake border crossing we were taken to as part of a scam.

I’ve since met a number of Westerners who had truly wonderful experiences working in Cambodia for a period of several months, but for a first time visitor on a whirlwind tour, the country was an intense adjustment! It was fascinating, though, and I’m so glad I got a chance to visit.

4. Counseling former students through difficult times, or celebrating with them through thrilling triumphs, all while being all the way across the Earth! Awesome term grades, new jobs, tragic losses, pregnancies, dropping out, fantastic scholarships– through Facebook, I can be right there for everything that happens in the lives of the dear youth I spent so many hours with… and it’s both fantastic and intense!

When you care about people, you want an endless supply of magic glitter to keep your beloved ones healthy, happy, and successful. Keep shimmering towards success, CHS students and alums! You know I’ll be in touch.

3. The moment when I lost my travel innocence, slapped with a Saigon cab driver’s lies. Click on the link for the full story. It took the words of a former student to warm my heart warm again, and I thank her!

2. Learning the astounding full story of how a traveling friend escaped death in a Bangkok car accident that killed two other people.

1. Being on a motorcycle in the middle of nowhere in Vietnam with a man who turned out to be a creep. I am very thankful to have been able to escape that scary situation, and I hope the full story will help others avoid or evade similar moments. We women CAN travel alone around the world and be happy and safe, but we have to watch out for each other and ourselves.

How grateful I am that the wonderful moments of this Around the World trip have FAR, FAR outweighed the scary ones! Let’s keep this up with careful planning, sage judgment, kind companions, and good universe vibes!

Coming next: the most LOVING moments of Around the World, 2009.


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Christine Y.

Friday 1st of June 2012

Never trust creeps anymore.

Annabella Bautista

Tuesday 6th of December 2011

I would have wanted to go to the Full Moon Party; the beach seems to be a great place to have a party. Wow! Ten thousand people, crammed into one beach, that beach most have been very big.


Saturday 17th of July 2010

The best part of #1 is the way you dealt with it. Physically and mentally, you held all the cards in that situation and played it perfectly. After the indicent(s), you calmly took control and handled it. Great job! Let that be an inspiration to future (female) solo travelers (the way you handled the creep, not what he did).

Imported Blogger Comments

Friday 28th of May 2010

Fida said... I just read for the last two hours through your blog. What adventures! I did the same trip 11 years ago (where did the time go??) and can so rely to what you write.

Btw, Laos IS a smiley culture - it was so infectious that even we foreigners started to greet each other across the street with a singing 'sabaidee'.

Luckily, my 'Easy Rider' trip was all the way a very positive experience. Before I agreed to the trip I asked a woman who knew him well if she thought I'd be safe with him. Of course, that's no guarantee but in the end she was right.

Anyway, I love your writing! I wish you happy and safe travels through Africa!

January 4, 2010 8:04 PM

Dave said... I like all of the intense, dramatic statues to go with your list of intense, dramatic moments. And what an *amazing* photo at the top - who took it? :)

January 7, 2010 1:17 AM

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