Monday, February 10, 2014

SouthEast Asia

I just returned from SE Asia, traveling to Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.  My experiences covered an incredible range of emotions, perceptions and experiences.  These are lands of enormous history dating back to millennia.  It is not so easy to grasp the complex relationships of countries, borders and hill tribes.  As westerners, there is so much that is beyond our surface grasp and requires considerable study to understand the cultures.
The temples and spiritual cultures, whether Buddhist or Hindu, sometimes intertwine.  The remarkable temples, largely created by monarchs are breathtaking in beauty and sheer size.  Many are part of Unesco sites that have many nations cooperating in large scale restoration projects.  Many sites are beyond help monetarily and condition. At Angkor, while the Khmer Rouge did not damage the temples,  but the restoration projects stopped for a decade or more and all restoration documents destroyed making the task so much more difficult.
There are so many wonderful web sites that can describe the incredible adventure I travelled.  So, I am recording some of my impressions.
SE Asia is young...over 70% of the populations are under 30.  In Viet Nam, most of the population does not remember the American war, as it is called there.  My generation, especially men, is largely absent as the personal sacrifice to rid their country of 1st the French and then the Americans was enormous. Just being in places that formed so much of my late teens and 20's : Ha Noi, Da Nang, Khe Sanh, Hue, Hoi An, Mekong river, Hanoi Hilton sent me into a swirl of emotions and memories.  For me, just being in Viet Nam was a healing experience and strengthened my commitment to non-violence and peace.
In Cambodia, most everyone has personal experience with Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.  Very few really survived, but to see the expansion of  tourism and commerce was interesting.  While in Thailand , I witnessed 2 enormously wealthy factions trying to steer the population in which ever direction most benefited the personal wealth over the good of the country. The current Thaksin regime is insanely corrupt, stealing billions.
All these countries are poised for growth and I hope they will learn from Western mistakes but it is
not heading in that direction.   Pollution is massive, air unfit to breath, massive pesticide use, filthy rivers, little or no public transport.  I hope that within this area of the world are organizations that have the funding and the expertise to help these ancient cultured navigate the rapid growth and urbanization.
Absolutely macro is a site about healthy living and lifestyle.  My menu choice is primarily vegan,but this proved impossible on the journey.  Meat was the main food source, vegetables given almost no thought.  There is heavy use of oil.  Most of my meals were some type of stir fried vegetable, usually fried spring rolls and white rice.  I had a few great meals in restaurants of ex- pat chefs, so I know the ingredients are available.   The best local meals were Pho at Pho 2000 in Saigon, where an excellent veggie pho is available and the superb curries of Thailand, especially the massuman.
Please visit, but take care of yourself by preparing take along food and a hepa mask.