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India 2011

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India 2011 - Page Text Content

S: INDIA - Summer 2011

FC: INDIA | James Graham Brown Fellows Program Summer 2011

1: Introduction - 1 | For my first time flying completely independently, a layover in the United Arab Emirates Dubai airport was surprisingly challenging. I was less than prepared for the language and cultural barriers that I would soon meet, but I eventually made it to the Bangalore airport. | "It was less than a week ago when I left my comfortable home in Alexandria, Kentucky to travel to India–-a land that I couldn’t have even imagined a week ago. After 23 hours of flying and 10,000 miles, I can’t imagine anything else." | On May 3, 2011, I completed the last final of my first academic year at the University of Louisville. Before that, I had spent several months working to finalize my first individual enrichment project with the James Graham Brown Fellows Program. After assessing numerous options, I decided on a three-month program in Bangalore, India through the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC). From March until May I was busy completing program applications, selecting courses to take abroad, applying for an Indian visa, booking plane tickets, and packing. On May 11, 2011, I said goodbye to my parents at the Cincinnati airport and by the next day arrived at the Bengaluru International Airport (BLR). The following is a collection of some of the photographs and journal entries I recorded during my three months in India, a trip that challenged my view of international business, global philanthropy, spirituality, and myself. | DUBAI

2: 2 - Welcome to Bangalore | BANGALORE | WELCOME TO

3: Welcome to Bangalore - 3

4: Below, the beautiful golden Presidential Palace of Vietnam. Yellow is the official color of government buildings, from this palace to communist headquarters sprinkled throughout rural countryside. | REGISTRATION | 4 - Police Registration | POLICE | October 1, 2010 marked the 1000th anniversary of the city of Hanoi, and therefore we were fortunate enough to experience the city preparing for the celebration. The past thousand years were filled with rich history for the city, and we visited some of the city’s most important historic buildings. After visiting Ba Dinh Square and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, we saw the Presidential Palace and the One Pillar Pagoda. Finally, we toured the ancient Temple of Literature, a Confucian university founded in 1607. Upon entering the Temple of Literature, we were asked to choose one of three doorways: morality, loyalty, or talent. | In clockwise order: (top-right) the beautiful entrance to Hanoi's historic Temple of Literature; (bottom-right) the ancient One Pillar Pagoda; (bottom-left) a pink flower expertly cared for within the Temple; (left-center) one of the pathways through the Temple of Literature, this one symbolizing loyalty; (right-center) the heart of the Temple of Literature, celebrating education, art, and music.

5: Police Registration - 5 | Like all of Vietnam, historic Hanoi was filled with beautiful and interesting allusions to the country’s rich history and culture. For example, the Presidential Palace (and all other government buildings within the country) was painted yellow, the color of the Communist Party in Vietnam. The flag of Vietnam, solid red with a single yellow star symbolizes the benevolence, authority, and importance of the Communist Party in Vietnamese society. The One Pillar Pagoda was like nothing I had ever seen before: the usual Buddha statue surrounded by a copious amount of neon lights.

6: Below, the colorful skyline of Hanoi from the top of the Know One Teach One (KOTO) building. The river seen from this rooftop is one of the many that gives the city it name, literally meaning "within the river." | TOUR | 6 - Bangalore Tour | "We quickly learned that there are no lines on the roads, no lines, road signs, or traffic laws that are necessarily followed. Everyone drives a motorbike, and they’re not too concerned with people, cars, bicycles, or tour buses in the way. Our tour guide, Yang, describes Vietnamese traffic as "flexible"—you just have to go with the flow. Being in traffic was quite terrifying, but after you get past the imminent death, you get to see legitimate Vietnamese daily life. When you look past the hustle and bustle of the roadway, you see people making a living in a million different ways." | BANGALORE

7: Bangalore Tour - 7 | "We were bussed to the Know One Teach One (KOTO) training station, a refuge for street children of Hanoi. It specializes in teaching impoverished teens the hospitality trade. After a quick tour of the facilities, we broke off into two classes and played games with the kids. After talking with the kids individually, we went to cooking classes. Whereas I had though we would be the ones teaching, we were the ones being taught how to cook! From frying prawn (eyes and all) to wrapping spring rolls (and sometimes eating the rice paper), it was an experience. Too bad our end product left something to be desired! We had a great time at dinner trying to come up for nicknames for the Brown Fellows (although only 'Sterling' seemed to stick), and soon we were sleepy and very ready for the bus to pick us up and take us back to the hotel."

8: SIKH TEMPLE | Below, one of Vietnam's oldest and most magnificent pagodas, set atop a hill overlooking the rural Vietnamese city of Tay Phuong. This pagoda dates to the early seventeenth century. | 8 - Gurus and Banana Leaves | "We drove away from Hanoi for about an hour, and then we began off-roading it. We drove to a sketchy part of rural Hanoi where rice paddies and huge government military operations pop up right next to each other. We passed a lot of poverty, luxury resorts, communist resorts, and we even broke down once. When we arrived in the city of Tay Phuong, we started by walking up 283 slippery steps to a hilltop pagoda. This pagoda, one of Vietnam’s finest, had the most beautiful woodcarvings of the Buddha in differing stages of life, 18 in all. After fumbling back down, we went on the most dangerous and exhilarating bike ride of my life, seeing the real rural areas of Vietnam. We saw children in trees, miniature cats and chickens, and the greenest green imaginable." | Right, some of my attempts to take artistic pictures in rural Vietnam. In clockwise order: (top-right) pink flowers from outside the Hung house, which dates to 1649; (bottom) three pictures of rural Vietnamese life; (center-left) young Tay Phuong children playing in a tree, a sight that is not uncommon in Vietnam; and (top-right) one of the few remnants from the Vietnam War, a hollowed-out shell turned into a city bell.

9: Gurus and Banana Leaves - 9

10: 10 - Life in India | Below, some of the unbelievable terraced rice paddies we sighted on our ride from the train station in Lao Cai to Sapa. | COLLEGE | CHRIST

11: Life in India - 11 | After only a couple days in Hanoi, it was time to set out and explore another region of Vietnam. We took the night train to the northern Vietnamese city of Lao Cai, on the border with China. From there, we were bussed several kilometers straight up into the mountains, seeing the famous “stairways to heaven,” amazing terraced rice fields that reached as far as the eye could see. It was still very early in the morning by the time we arrived at the secluded and beautiful city of Sapa. The city, perched high in the mountains and shrouded in fog proved to be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of the entire trip. | In clockwise order: (top-left) the Brown Fellows group as we left the night train, at approximately 4:45 a.m.; (top-right) the famous Red Dao women in front of a Catholic church; (bottom-right) the impressive sights of the terraced rice fields on the ascension to Sapa; (bottom-left) and the Black Hmong children greeting our arrival, ready to do business.

12: 12 - A Bangalore Wedding | After breakfast and a quick break in our Sapa hotel, we set out to explore the town. We saw several different ethnic groups, and began a difficult climb up a mountain overlooking the city. After a stop for tea on the way back down, we climbed all the way to down to the bottom of the valley. Right, some of the impressive views of Sapa. From left to right: (top) the awesome sight of the Cat Cat waterfall at the bottom of the Sapa river valley, some of the Brown Fellows resting before another trek through the city, and one of the interesting examples of exotic flowers; (middle) the well-deserved view of Sapa from an overlooking mountain and a scary suspension bridge across the Sapa river valley; (bottom) the awe-inspiring panorama from the hotel's hallway. After waking up too late to attend mass at the local church, I sat and watched the clouds flow through the Sapa mountains. | Above, the 2010-2014 class of Brown Fellows atop a mountain overlooking the city of Sapa. University of Louisville Fellows: Kristen Connors, Cole Dabbs, Taylor Forns, Allison Hebert, Brittany Hubert, Cole Keller, Casey Malloy, Carmen Mitchell, Ryan Moran, and Johanna Yun. Centre College Fellows: Annie Corbitt, Michael Fryar, Maddie Hooper, Alex Hurley, Rachel Ison, Audrey Jenkins, Rahul Joseph, Stephen Metcalf, Catherine Parks, and William Williamson.

13: A Bangalore Wedding - 13

14: 14 - Coorg | Below, the imposing view of the Sapa river valley we trekked down our way to spend the night at an authentic Vietnamese longhouse. | "After three hours of hiking up and down, forward and backward, and through rice paddies and bamboo forests, we finally arrived at the longhouse of the local Hmong people. For three hours we hiked and sweated, but it was a beautiful trek and we made it, eventually. By the time we had arrived at the longhouse, we were all tired and hungry. The food wasn’t ready yet, so they told us we could walk down to the river in the valley. Of all the memories I have of Vietnam, those at the river are some of my favorites. It was quite difficult safely anchoring myself on rocks with sandals several sizes too small and my precious memory card and camera in my pocket. But I made it, and managed to take some awesome pictures. The best part was just putting my feet in the water, feeling the rush of the river and being a part of it all. Words weren’t needed. I think we all just enjoyed the setting sun over our bubbling brook in the middle of Vietnam. After about an hour, we walked back to the longhouse, all ready for dinner. It was well worth the wait. After a quick cleanup in the communal washroom, we were ready for bed. We weren’t in the city anymore, so we had to sleep under mosquito nets (and unfortunately mine had several large holes). We all went to sleep quickly after a challenging day."

15: Coorg - 15

16: 16 - Elephant Island | This photo, taken high above from a cave, shows part of the wonder of Ha Long Bay. Throughout the bay, there are thousands of these unique island formations seen below.

17: Elephant Island - 17

18: HUE | 18 - Outskirts of Bangalore | This archway, one of the most beautiful and best preserved in the royal city, shows the beauty and legacy of the Vietnamese monarchy in the ancient city of Hue. | "After a short flight, we arrived in the ancient city of Hue. We entered our hotel rooms to find flower petals 'Warmly Welcoming' us to the lovely Asia Hotel. The bathroom sink was full of flower petals too, but best of all, there was a remote-controlled air conditioner. We were busy that night reorganizing our bags and planning the laundry we needed to have done, but we fell asleep soon afterward. | To be honest, the next day was not too exciting. We woke up at a decent time and ate an American breakfast in the seventh floor panoramic restaurant that overlooks the small but proud city of Hue. It was relatively uneventful morning—except for when I embarrassingly dropped a passion fruit and some tongs. After breakfast, we took another cyclo tour, but this one was surprisingly less exciting without the imminent death we experience in downtown Hanoi.

19: Outskirts of Bangalore - 19

20: HOI AN | 20 - Village Tour | "We left Hue and travelled to the city of Hoi An, rumored for its great shopping. We boarded the tour bus and drove along the Annamite Cordillera; the view from the road was gorgeous, but the road itself was deadly. At one point, the tour bus couldn’t make one of the hairpin turns, and had to back up and try a couple times to make the bend. And there were no guardrails—just a long, painful descent into the ocean. We listened to Creedence Clearwater Revival the entire way along the mountains, and had a great time before arriving in Hoi An." | From Hue we drove to the city of Hoi An along the Annamite Cordillera, a chain of mountains on Vietnam’s extreme east that drop directly into the South China Sea. Halfway through our journey, we stopped in Da Nang where we ate at a delightful restaurant by the ocean before reaching the lovely Hoi An. | Above, our stunning hotel in the tourist destination of Hoi An. Known for its shopping and beaches, the city of Hoi An proved to be a relaxing (and only slightly treacherous) getaway with a gorgeous pool, bountiful breakfast, and numerous water buffalo.

21: Village Tour - 21 | In clockwise order: (top-right) a photogenic family and on a motor scooter; (bottom-right) the paradise resort on the Hoi An beach; (bottom-left) a boat on the main river that flows through the city; and (top-left), one of the Hoi An's historic artifacts. This bridge, and many of the buildings in the city, uniquely show the combination of Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese influences.

22: HO CHI MINH CITY | 22 - Goa | Ho Chi Minh City turned out to be the most Americanized city on our journey, complete with a Notre Dame-inspired cathedral and Hard Rock Café.

23: Goa - 23

24: SIEM REAP | 24 - Mumbai | CAMBODIA | An eye-opening look into life in a floating Cambodian village.

25: Mumbai - 25

26: ANGKOR THOM | 26 - Slumdog Millionaire | After riding around the Phnom Penh temple on top of a gigantic Asian elephant, Taylor Forns and I were happy to smile for a photo.

27: Slumdog Millionaire - 27

28: ANGKOR WAT | 28 - Jaipur | Below, the awe-inspiring view of the Angkor Wat temple complex, officially the world’s largest religious site. Taken from afar in order to get the four main spires in the photo, the photos on the right page show the lake reflecting the immensity of such an ancient wonder.

29: Jaipur - 29

30: 30 - Ta Phrom, Cambodia | TA PHROM | 30 - An Extra Day in Jaipur

31: Ta Phrom, Cambodia - 31 | An Extra Day in Jaipur - 31

32: 32 - Agra

33: Agra - 32

34: 34 - Mysore

35: Mysore - 35

36: 36- Goodbye to Bangalore

37: Goodbye to Bangalore - 37

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