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


You’ve Got a Friend in Singapore

Marina Bay SandsWhen I found out my friend Amanda would be in Singapore in June to visit her dad, I thought it would be a good excuse to meet up and check out a place I probably wouldn’t have gone otherwise. That evolved into her (and her dad) generously offering for me to stay with them. I knew Singapore was safe and surgery-grade clean, but beyond that I was pretty clueless, so I looked forward to seeing it from a local’s point of view. Once my dates were set, I found out my little cousin would be in Singapore the week before I planned to arrive. Ok, I could come in early, spend a few nights in a hotel, and see her on her last night. Cool. Then I reconnected with my freshman year roommate (through Facebook, of course) who has been living in Singapore for the last five years. This was shaping up to be a productive trip! And finally I learned that a former Kiva fellow who I kept in touch with would be doing two months of his MBA program in Singapore… conveniently during my visit. Suddenly my Singapore dance card was full. Continue reading