To Asia, With Love (and Other Emotions)

Shelley with Ultadanga kids

My time in Asia challenged me, rewarded me, made my heart ache and churned out a stronger person. I learned more in the last 11 months than I have in the last 11 years, and that’s no hyperbole. I became more familiar with the world and with myself. As it turns out, I’m a nomadic homebody. My style is to hunker down in a city and get the lay of the land instead of moving every three days. Maybe when in a state of constant change, it’s comforting to know where you can go for a reliable bowl of pho or a cup of REAL coffee.

Surprisingly I did make it to 12 countries (if you count Tibet and Hong Kong as separate from mainland China, which I do). I’ve had 7 telephone numbers, taken 13 flights, crossed 2 borders overland, added 31 stamps to my passport, secured 10 visas and spent about $24,000. Below is a snapshot of my feelings about each country: what I liked, what I didn’t and how I sum them each up. India is longer than the rest because I spent the most time there and it had such a profound effect. Ladies and gentlemen, I present my view of Asia in 2,000 words or less… Continue reading

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Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Why I Hate Buses

Market in Hong Kong

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur became a sort of base camp during my Asian travels with this being my third trip. The first time was only for a few days between Vietnam and Bali (it was actually cheaper to book two separate tickets and stay overnight in KL than to have a layover).  My friend Jun, who I know from Japan, lives in a suburb of KL, and while he had to go out of town the weekend I was there, he picked me up from the airport and delivered me to my hotel. I was standing in line for the ATM when I spotted him. It had been 13 years and he looked very much the same. We kept looking at each other, not believing so much time had passed. It was strange, but also totally comfortable. Continue reading