It was an early morning leaving the Maldives, we had to take a speedboat to leave the island (we had to make a spit stop for Sarah lol). We arrived in the Maldivian airport early because Emily had to catch a sea plane for her extended trip so we got lunch in the airport while we waited. From there we left and arrived in Sri Lanka and had to catch a plane to Hong Kong. One the way back we encountered some problems in Hong Kong were we got delayed for our longest flight. We expected to only have a 45 minute delay which turned into a 6 hour delay because there was issues with the aircraft. We finally caught our plane to LAX but when we arrived they changed our flight so that we were not going to be able to get home for another day and half later than expected. So we had to hurry and book all new flights to St. Louis so some family and friends could pick us up from there and drive us back home. After flying and traveling for three solid days, I was in despite need a nice home cooked meal and hot shower. All and all, I am so blessed to have been able to travel with such an awesome group of people that I feel like I made many lifelong friendships with!
Thinking about all the crazy foods and things that we saw; I do not know where to even begin. I came back home and everyone asked about my trip and I did not know where to being to start. I am so thankful and blessed to have been able to experience this trip of a lifetime. It definitely opened my eyes to realizing that there is much more important things in life than what I thought. What really opened my eyes was when we staying in Sri Lanka and there was a sign that read that water was a privilege not a necessity. My favorite part in each country was taking the boat tour of the country side of Vietnam, visiting the elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka and playing volleyball with the local guys in Maldives. Each day in all the countries we visited was an experience that I will never forget!
The Maldives was the country that i was most excited about and it is all that I could imagine and more! We are staying on a small island called Fulidoo Island which consists of only 300 people. We played a game of pickup volleyball the first day and then continued to play each day at 4:00pm right before they had to go to the temple each night. They had a small cafe that served the BEST food that I had ate on the entire trip so far! The locals are all so friendly and the teenage boys were really good singers and dancers. Sarah, Hannah, Bella and I all got to experience their cultural dances and music that they perform all over the different islands. This was very interesting to see this side of their culture because I did not realize that music had such a big impact on their lives. Overall, i’m very happy that we got to interact with some of the locals because they all started to follow us on facebook and instagram!
The travel time to get to Vietnam was never ending it felt like; what messed me up the most was the time change because we left during the morning and still arrived in the morning an entire day later. After getting some rest after all the traveling, we woke up and had a huge buffet style breakfast which was very good! My favorite part was all the fresh fruits. Today we went to a local university and got to interact with some students there that were studying international studies; many of which had the desire to visit the United States someday. We had lunch at a restaurant right across the street from the school were we got to try some interesting food dishes. Being the first day in Vietnam, I was not ready for the heat and humidity! Tomorrow we get to go to the beach!
The trip from the Maldives back to Springfield was an interesting one to say the least. We took the speedboat from Fulidhoo to the airport. From there we had a two hour wait and then flew to Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, our group split in half. My group had a 6 hour layover and then we flew to Hong Kong. We expected to have a short 45 min layover in Hong Kong, but our flight got delayed for 6 hours. When we finally arrived in LAX we had to run through the airport to find our luggage, go through immigration, and check-in with American Airlines. We thought we were going to miss our flight because of the delay in Hong Kong. We made it to check-in just in time. However, we found out our flight was cancelled. They told us we could fly out the next day at noon, but that meant we would get there an entire day later. Instead, we found another flight to St. Louis because most of the people on the trip lived there. There were two of us including me that needed to get back to Springfield. Luckily, I had a friend come and pick us up and it all worked out!
This trip was an experience of a lifetime. We got to experience a lot of diversity along the trip, whether it was business, education, or leisure. Each country had its own feel. Some of my favorite parts were:
-visiting the school and talking with students
-talking with members of the community at the US Embassy
-taking a tour down the main river in Vietnam
-climbing the rock fortress
-seeing a wild elephant
-visiting the cave temple
-playing volleyball with the locals in the maldives
-soaking up the sun on the beach on Fulidhoo Island
-taking an hour speedboat ride to our island
Everyday was new and different, and I’m so blessed to have gone on this trip with amazing fellow students.
Now that we’ve been back in the US for a day or two, even though it feels like yesterday I was in Vietnam, I wanted to make a post-trip blog.
Looking back, I have realized that the number one thing I have taken away from taking a chance going to Southeast Asia is that no amount of preparation can actually prepare you. This is so important. Do your research, of course. But chances are, you will forget things, you probably are more prepared than you actually think and it’s not the end of the world to have to think on your feet when something doesn’t go as planned. I researched clothes and activities and the hotels and, seriously, every little fine detail. But once you get to each destination, you want to live. NOT base everything off expectations. Embrance the unknown. Planting yourself in the middle of a culture you aren’t used to can be uncomfortable, yes, but give it a little and you’ll be living like a local in no time.
I hope everyone who signs up for this trip next year makes just as great as memories as we all did!
Until next time, Southeast Asia.
The second full day we had in the Maldives it rained the whole day. But we didn’t let that stop us from having fun. We mostly hung out in the main area and played cards and heads up. We just relaxed and enjoyed watching the rain. A few times when it stopped raining we went to the beach and walked around but it would start to rain again. Later after lunch we went to our rooms and took a much needed nap to catch up on our sleep. It was nice and we woke up to no more rain so Catherine and I went to the beach for a little bit even though it was still cloudy. For dinner, we had fish from the guest house and it was so good. I wish it wouldn’t have rained the whole day, but we made the best of it!
For our first full day in the Maldives we got to do whatever we wanted. We had breakfast and then headed to the beach area. The water felt amazing and we swam for a little bit, then went back to lay out and relax. It was nice for about an hour or two and then it started to rain and all of a sudden it started pouring and storming to we had to run back to the guest house. we went to our rooms for a little and it cleared up pretty quick, so we ended up going back out. At around 4 we went and played volleyball with the locals and it was so fun! We split up the teams and mixed together with them and they were actually really good. We played with them for a while and later that night we went back to the same cafe as the night before and had a delicious dinner.
I am so excited for you to embark on this new adventure! Over these past two weeks, I experienced things I never thought I would ever have the chance to experience. I made new friends, connected closer with old friends, and learned so much about myself. I realized how blessed I truly am and learned more than I would have ever learned in a classroom. Even though this trip was fun and exciting, it didn’t come without its hard work and preparation. Here are a few things that I wish I would have known, learned along the way, and was told but didn’t think much of (which I wish I did):
– Bring more money than you think you will spend. You don’t want to be across the world and not have enough to get/do whatever it is you want/need.
– Bring snacks… and lots of them. You never know when you won’t be able to eat or if you’ll like what is provided.
– Bring bug spray. Don’t under estimate nature – it will prove you wrong.
– If you get car/motion sick (even in the slightest bit) bring Dramamine and pressure point bracelets – you won’t regret it.
– Girls: don’t worry about what you look like. It’s too hot and humid to maintain the look you tried so hard for.
– Ride a motorbike in Vietnam, you’ll have the time of your life – I promise.
– Don’t worry about bringing electronics, you won’t use them as much as you think.
– Bring things like word find, sudoku, cards, a book, etc for the plane – you’ll be thankful.
– Do your research on every place you will be going, including companies, people, culture and have questions to ask. Better to be safe than sorry.
– If you have to give any type of presentation, practice before hand. It will relieve stress later on.
– Be excited but don’t have expectations. They either won’t meet them or they will exceed them. Keep an open mind and be flexible – things will not go as planned and you’ll have to be okay with it and have fun anyway.
– Bring comfy clothes. You will never regret being comfortable – I promise.
– Understand the local currency because street vendors will try and rip you off.
– Don’t be afraid to bargain and walk away. Walking away just might get you the price you want.
– Remember that you are not in the USA. The wifi isn’t as good, be respectful of the culture, the food isn’t the same, there is a language barrier, etc.
– Bring a full first aid kit. You don’t want to need something you don’t have.
– Check the CDC website for needed medication or make an appointment with Taylor Health.
– For your free days, know what you want to do before hand.
– WATER – enough said.
– Be conscious of the things you can not have and take it seriously: ice, water, fruit with the outside (strawberries, apples, etc), fresh vegetables, etc.
– Lastly, don’t forget to have fun. You will experience somethings way out of your comfort zone and you just have to go with the flow and enjoy it all the while because it won’t last forever.