Missouri State University
Southeast Asia Study Away Program
A blog about participants’ anticipations and apprehension before, during and after the program.

Day 1 in Sri Lanka

Today was our first day in Sri Lanka and we went to Kandy. The first thing we did was visit the Pinnawala elephant orphanage. I really enjoyed this! We got up close to the elephants and watched them play and walk around. It was so cool to watch that close. Then we had lunch there before boarding the bus again and making our way to the Tea plantation. This was also a really cool experience. We got to see exactly how they make the tea leaves into tea and see the tea trees. We even got to taste some tea! It was very yummy and I bought some to take home with me to share with my family.

The last thing we did today was visit the Temple of the tooth. This was amazing. I was so interested when our tour guide was telling us about the history of Buddha and this specific temple itself. It is the most sacred in the whole world. Walking around and seeing everything was an experience I can’t even describe. And honestly after visiting it today, I want to do more research about the temples and the history of all of it. Today was a perfect way to be introduced to this unique country!

Posted in 05-May 2017 | Leave a comment

Vietnam to Sri Lanka

Yesterday was a full day of travel from Vietnam to Sri Lanka. The morning in Vietnam, Catherine and I enjoyed some free time on the rooftop pool which we hadn’t had time to use before. It was really nice but it started raining a little after we got there. After that, we packed everything up and headed to the airport.

Flying AirAsia to Malaysaia and then to Sri Lanka was an interesting experience to say the least. But we made it to Sri Lanka safely and headed to our hotel. The hotel was very nice although we stayed there for less than 10 hours. We were all so exhausted from traveling that we fell right to sleep. We woke up bright and early, had breakfast and headed to Kandy to start our day.

Posted in 05-May 2017 | Leave a comment

Fist Day in Sri Lanka

Today was a great full day in Sri Lanka. We headed to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage early this morning. The ride was a bit bumping and windy but our tour guide is great. He does a good job of explaining the history of Sri Lanka and explaining the next tour we are going on. At the Elephant Orphanage we were able to see them bathe and feed. Only 5% of male elephants have tusks, which I was extremely shocked about. At the orphanage there are 3 generation elephants. Throughout the country there are approximately 8500 wild elephants. After visiting the orphanage we headed to a tea plantation. The British are the ones who brought tea to Sri Lanka in 1860. Before producing tea the country produced coffee. I was surprised to learn green tea and black tea come from the same tea plant. The difference between the two is black tea is fermented. Which I love black tea, I drink it all the time back home. While driving to each excursion I learned a lot about the history of Sri Lanka. Such as the country was named Sri Lanka in 1972. The British, Portuguese, and Dutch wanted control of the country but were unsuccessful in capturing the last standing kingdom, Kandy. The kingdom lasted for 2500 years. Eventually the British captured the city in a trade. Then Sri Lanka gained its Independence in 1948. Something our tour guide mentioned which I thought was very fascinating is no one else in the world speaks or writes from the 3rd century BC.

Posted in 05-May 2017 | Leave a comment

Vietnam to Sri Lanka

Kourtney and I woke up early and went to the Ben Thanh Market. It was good experience. We were able to buy some gifts for friends and family back home. After the market we all left Vietnam and headed to Sri Lanka. We flew Air Asia which isn’t a horrible airline but I can honestly say I didn’t like it. The seats were extremely close together, no complimentary drinks or snacks, and the worst part of all they fumigated us! None of us knew what was happening. The flight attendants said to cover our nose and mouth and they started spraying something that seemed like a disinfectant or Lysol. It was extremely strange and freaked me out. However I will say they played some good music before take off. I felt bad for Sarah because they lost her luggage. I can’t imagine not having my suitcase. Hopefully the airlines can find it.

Posted in 05-May 2017 | Leave a comment

Full First Day in Sri Lanka

Our first day in Sri Lanka was everything I could have asked for. I’m already falling in love with this beautiful country.

We visited the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage to start our day. I’m very thankful for our tour guide for providing background to the elephant population in Sri Lanka because he only made my appreciation of the orphanage grow. I love elephants and getting to see so many set me up for a great day.

Next was the Tea Plantation. Being as tea is such an important item to the country, I found it very interesting and informative to visit the plantation. I never knew the process of making tea before today and at home I drink green tea almost daily!

Lastly, and my favorite event of the day, we visited the Temple of Tooth. I have always been intrigued by Buddhism and being shown the most sacred Buddhist temple was remarkable. The beauty of the place is too much to put into words and the aroma of insence all around you made it impossible to feel any worries. I only wish we could have stayed long enough to even catch a glimpse of where they keep the Tooth Relic.

Overall, this first full day has fulfilled all my expctations and leaves me excited for tomorrow. But as for now, I am exhausted and excited to catch up on some much needed sleep.

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Vietnam —> Sri Lanka

I didn’t get wifi yesterday at the hotel and we got there so late I don’t know if I could have kept my eyes long enough to type a post!

To sum up our travels from Vietnam to Sri Lanka: Air Asia scares me. I am a pretty experienced flyer and sat next to Sarah, whom is an even more experienced flyer, on our first flight and we agreed that Air Asia just has a flying style we aren’t used to. The turns were quick and made you lose your stomach and the descent was quicker than I was used to on both flights. They sprayed us and told us to cover our mouths and at the time I had no idea what was going on which just added to the experience. We landed safely but needless to say I was taking some pretty deep breaths to stay calm.

But, we landed safely and arrived at our hotel in a timely fashion so I can’t really complain, looking back at least! However, if possible, I plan to avoid Air Asia at all costs from here on out. If it were just one of the flights I would have assumed it was just that pilot but both left me feeling pretty uneasy until the wheels touched the ground.

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Sri Lanka – Tea Plantation

Today our group visit the tea plantation close to Kandy province in Sri Lanka, 2.5 hours driving from Colombo to Kandy. The manager at the tea plantation explained to us the process of making tea, from common green tea to premium black tea.

  1. Plucking
  2. Weighing
  3. Withering
  4. Rolling
  5. Aeration
  6. Drying
  7. Grading
  8. Bulk Packaging
  9. Bagging and CTC


Posted in 05-May 2017 | Leave a comment

5/26/17 – Day 5

May 26 –
Yesterday we left Vietnam and headed to Sri Lanka! Emily and I woke up, packed, ate breakfast, and headed to Ben Thanh Market to do some last minute souvenir shopping. We came back to the hotel and decided to get some coffee before our flights to Sri Lanka (which was amazing 😍) and picked up some Vietnamese candy to bring back home. We all spent the rest of our day in and out of airplanes and trying to figure out the changing time zones after leaving Vietnam, arriving in Malaysia, and then finally Sri Lanka. We rode AirAsia.com and I can honestly say that it was a very interesting flight. But we finally made it to the next country and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead!

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Vietnam: Day 3

Yesterday was probably my favorite day so far on this trip! It was considered our free day to explore more of Vietnam and do whatever we desired. A group of us took a tour recommended by the hotel. Like others have already mentioned, we floated the Mekong River Delta, visited a temple, hiked, rode in a horse drawn carriage, and dinned with the locals. It was a wonderful experience! There was also a bee keeper, dried fruit, and live performances that really showed the passion the people have for their culture. When we got back from the tour, Bella and I walked to the Ben Thanh market where we bargained for fruit and other souvenirs. Then when we arrived back at the hotel and picked up our laundry that was cleaned for us. Later in the night, all of us went to Bui Vien which is a “backpacker street”. There were bars and clubs lining the street with young locals and a lot of tourists as well. We took a lot of pics and drank some of the Saigon and Tiger beer. We then took a taxi ride to the Sky Bar. It was so beautiful and it looked like a Vegas scene. You could gaze over the whole city sky line and there was also an infinity pool. It felt like I was in a movie!! A few stayed and some of us left to return to the hotel. All in all, I really enjoyed this day of freedom in Saigon.

Posted in 05-May 2017 | Leave a comment


Today, we visited four islands. After the whole day trip, I finally have the feeling that I’m in the vietnam. I enjoy learning more vietnam culture.

Mekong Delta is also called nine dragon river. We took a boat on Mekong river. Tourist guy told us that before the bridge has been built, people had to take 45 mins ferry to cross the river everyday. I also have been told that local people take a shower in the river in the afternoon. Most of island residents grow gardens for living.

The vietnam has lady character weather, which means it changes quickly and unpredictably. And we did get to know what it is exactly mean. It rained really hard during the lunch time. We all got wet on the boat. We also tried coconut candy, different fruits, honey, tea, etc.

During the evening, we went to backpack street and top roof bar. I enjoy every moment today. It will be sad to say goodbye tmr.

Posted in 05-May 2017, Pre-Trip | Leave a comment