Saturday, March 31, 2007

email to dad dated 3/28/07

Hey,So Jordan and I are in Mandalay and either tomorrow or the day after we will head out for Bagan. We are going to purchase a small boat and paddle the whole way, it should take about three to four days. There are villages the whole way so we'll be able to find places to stay. Should be really fun, we'll sell the boat when we reach Bagan. After we see bagan and Inle Lake we will go back to Mandalay and fly back to Chiang Mai in Thailand. I'm glad to here Amelia got her job. Say hi to the boys for me.Jesse

Sunday, March 25, 2007

update on Jesse and Jordan's travels

Hey mum!We landed safe and sound in Yangon yesterday. This place is really cool, it's like a cross between SE Asia and India. It makes a really neat mix. Unfortunately, though, there really isn't very much internet in Myanmar and when there is it quite slow. So I won't be available quite as much as before but I'll be sure to keap you updated. Tomorrow we are taking a bus from Yangon to Mandalay, the old capital. After that we plan to go to Bagan and Inle lake. It looks like we'll also have to fly out because you can leave in the south by boat to Thailand, but first you have to fly south anyways and that's more expensive than just flying to Bangkok. Love ya, and I'll email again from Mandalay.Jesse

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Trekking in Northern Thailand

Jordan and I just back from our three day trek today; it was entirely awesome. On the first day we drove for about 2 hours and then hiked in the jungle for about four or five hours, but mostly all uphill. We spent the night in a hill tribe village in this beautiful bamboo hut. The next day was pretty easy, we only walked for a few hours, but we went swimming at a waterfall to cool off. The last day was awesome. We hiked for a while and then we rode elephants for about an hour. Riding the elephants was so much fun, they're way more comfortable than camels. We'd go up and down these steep parts and you just thought you were going to fall off, but somehow no one did. After that we went river rafting. It was white water rafting, but it's hot season and there's not so much water right now. It was super fun although Jordan and I think we might have to go back to Chiang Mai to raft again in May when the water should be a lot higher. Then we rode bamboo rafts down the rest of the river where it was calm. Altogether there were about ten of us trekking together. It was a really fun way to meet other people.
Now we're going to hang out in Chiang Mai for a while, try to explore the city a little bit, hopefully on bicycles. Then we will go and see about getting into Burma at Chiang Rai. It looks like if we enter at Chiang Rai we will still have to fly a domestic flight within the country, so we're looking at all of our options right now and deciding which is cheapest. It was definitely worth the bus ride up here just to go trekking, though, even if we have to go back down to Bangkok to fly to Burma.

And now for some snaps:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Chiang Mai

This morning Jordan and I arrived in Chiang Mai, the city in which I was ordained. We've been wondering around the city and visited my old monastery. As far as getting into Myanmar from here, though, the future doesn't look so bright. Even though we'd been told by a government tourist agency that we could enter Myanmar from Chiang Rai (northeast of Chiang Mai) everyone here is saying that if you go in that way you can only stay for one day and that to actually enter the country you must fly to Yangoon. Well, we haven't yet figured out if this is the complete truth, but either way we're going trekking for the next few days in the highlands of northern Thailand. It should be real fun: hiking, rafting, elephants. After that the plan is that we'll head to the border and see for ourselves if we can get in or not. Worse case scenario is that we would have to go back to Bangkok and then fly into Myanmar. But the good part is that everyone we've met that has been to this illusive country have said that it's worth all the trouble it takes to get in and that they plan to return there sometime.


After eight long days in the Bangkok heat and five visits to the Myanmar Embassy, Jordan and I finally received our visas today. We're getting on a bus for Chieng Mai this evening. Once there we might take a few days to trek in northern Thailand or try to head straight into Burma. Both of us are super excited to see an entirely new country.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


So now we are Bangkok for a while. Basically we have to wait for our Myanmar visas, but until then Jordan and I are doing some sightseeing. Today we went all around town in a plethora of transportation modes including the Sky Train, boat, subway, taxi, auto rickshaw, motorcycle taxi, and feet. This city really is so advanced, more so than any other place I've ever been so it's kind of fun just to wander around and see how everything so different. For instance, they sell amazing waffles in the subway stations, something you would never see back home. It was really nice to go to some monasteries and see the monks chanting from a completely different perspective than before when I was chanting along side them. We also stumbled upon Wat Po, which has one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. He is reclining and I think over 100 feet long. Once we get our visas we're heading up north to Cheing Mai and going into Burma by land. After touring around we plan to exit the country at the very southern point. Supposedly you can take a long tail boat into southern Thailand from there. It's about 35 degrees (maybe that's around105) here and getting hotter every day. I don't even want to know how hot it's going to be in May.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Jordan and I just finished a very nice and relaxing week up in Varanasi. It was great to see some old pals and to make some new ones. We walked in on a very unsuspecting new G-LAB group during a group meeting and gave Tracy quite a surprise. We also surprised my old tabla teacher Kailash and I was able to start taking lessons again. I spent most of the week playing tabla in the morning, relaxing in front of the ganges, and cooking food in the kitchen at Kailash's guest house. We where also lucky to be in Varanasi for the Hindu holiday Holi. It is the celebration of color and basically consists of a HUGE bonfire at night, which take place in the street all over the city (right under the electric lines). Then the next day there is a country-wide colour fight. It's a pretty fun holiday, only it can get a little dangerous for the womanfolk. All in all the whole week was really fun; it was great to end my time in India on a high note. It's wierd knowing that I'm leaving India and that I won't be back for at least a long while. I've had a great time here and I'm sure I'll make my way back to visit again. Tomorrow morning we fly to Bangkok on GMG Airlines, yeah, I haven't heard of them either, but they sure are cheap.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Family visit to India

More images from our trip visiting Jesse

Family visit to India

Trekking along Nepal border in view of Mt. Everest (hidden behind clouds)

Family visit to India

Travelling to Darjeeling and Kangchendzonga Range

Family visit to India

Jesse teaching at pediatric hospital classroom and touring the hospital

Family visit to India

Visiting Hindu and Jain temples with Jesse

Family visit to India

Jesse's neighborhood in Kolkata

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Darjeeling and Family

I was so very lucky to be able to have my parents and Chris and Pat to come visit me in the past couple weeks. We had great time going around Kolkata, seeing some sights and the hospital I volunteered at. They were amazed (as everyone is) of the crazy nature this country, but they made it through a few days in the city and we headed up north to Darjeeling. We had a really relaxing, nice, time up in the foothills of the Himalayas. After a few days Jordan made it up (after his flights had been reserved, purchased, cancelled, rescheduled, delayed, and finally departed) to meet us. We went on a really nice two day trek of which Christopher should most definately post pictures for everyone to see. After the sad goodbye, Jordan and I hopped on a train down to Varanasi. We were able to completely surprise our old group leader Tracy and also Amit and Sangamitra, our Delhi and Varanasi coordinators. Holi, the Hindu festival of colors is on Sunday and in the meantime I've started up tabla lessons again. It great to be back here and see some friends. After Holi we'll go back down to Calcutta and fly to bangkok; from there we plan to make a swift exit into Myanmar.