Sonntag, 9. März 2008

..........probably the last words

I was asked to finish this with a last chapter. So here it is: I'm back in Marburg, Germany. Since about one month I'm reorganizing myself setting things up and heading forward to finish my studies. I'm going to write my diploma thesis about NGOs in Development Cooperation.

This probably last entry I like to start with a big thank you to all the people who supported me the last 6 month. Thanks to all Glennies who provided me a shelter, discussions, answers and questions. We had a great time. A big hug to Eva my superhero mate. I don't know how to survive without you in the jungle of curiosity, in the flood of emotions. Thank you for holding my hand in the hospital. Thank you for the great Tai Chi and Kung Fu lessons. Thanks for pushing things forward. Thanks to Oanh and her lovely niece. We had a great time in tran phu. I' m already mising our discussions and the cooking sessions. Special thanks to the guys who visited me Basti, Mareike, Carlo the tomcat and Daniel the Squid. We shared some very special moments. And of course Thanks to all of you who supported me from home. I'm done so far. :-)

Long time no see. After some petty nice days with my companion Daniel. I was kept on the idea to go to Burma. I informed myself, collected articles, I talked to my family and friends and finally I got a visa. All reasons not to go were balanced out. I got some cash and a ticket. With strange feelings I entered the plane. Against my fears it was not as complicated as expected. The securities didn't keep my camera nor my Ibook. I found a nice Guest house where the owner helped me to organize my further travel. Two days in the capitol were enough and I took a bus to Bagan. 18 hours on the most bumpy road I've ever experienced. 18 hours no sleep. Spoiled from the last weeks it was even harder but worth. I shared the rows with probably the most impressive people, monks. Somehow different than the ones I met before. Calm in their behavior, respectable in their gestures and not only friendly more kind of special in their presence. Hard to describe for me. After the horrible bone shaking but remarkable ride we arrived in Bagan which is famous for its more than 4000 temples its, an place with spirit. With horse cart we were brought to a guesthouse where we caught up some sleep. The next days we took again horse carts or bicycles to explore this ancient place. Watching Sunrises and sunsets over the temple scenery followed. We bet on slingshotcompetitions played caneball soccer with kids and ate strange food. The short schedule forced me to leave and I headed for Lake Inle in the Shan state. I can remember that I've read something about Shan state that described it as a mysterious, rebellious and mountainous region and for real so simple as that sound to me, it was like that. We found a guide, a good one. He organized a trekking tour for the next days. Kopar and his best friend Winwin lead us through the mountains, prepared amazing meals and watched our steps. The nights were spend in monasteries among monks. Another experience was the blessing from the monks in the morning. It hurt to leave each of this places. Mentally I felt strong but physically I was weak, sick. I was not longer able to count how often I had to go into the bushes. But thats probably the price for such a trip. Finally Kopar fixed my demolished body with some witchcraft medicine and I could enjoy the trip even more.
To keep it short: I was healed physically but I got a new infection, mentally. I was infected by this awesome and likewise grotesque Burma.
Unfortunately some of the regions I wanted to travel to were not safe anymore because of less friendly rebels and an increased risk of landmines. I had to change plans and besides that I was going to run out of cash and there are nor atm cash machines in whole burma. Slightly disappointed because the lack of time but full of impressions I left. I haven't regret to go there but next time I will need more preparation.

Some people asked me for travel hints because of the political situation in burma.
Questions like:

Isn't it bad to travel there and give your money to an inhuman regime?
In fact if You travel there have to leave there money but as far as it is possible you can decide to whom you gonna give it. You can avoid to support state run travel agencies or guesthouses and restaurants. The best might be to spread your spendings so you can support small local businesses. Inform yourself by asking locals. The tourgroup tourism is unlikely seen by the people because the state profits from the most of the spendings. Most of the people I met are appreciating backpackers.

Isn't it dangerous?
Last year we were witness of the brutality of that regime. People were killed on the streets by the military during demonstrations. There are informations about deported and executed monks. Thousands of people vanished. The truth is hard to find. But fact is that people, mostly monks, started a peaceful protest against high prices of food, failing social services and lack of reliable supply. The government reacted on that with violence against the population.

Burma still has hard times. The Burmese people are poor by law a lot of them are opressed by the governement and some by the non governmental armed groups. More than 30 different ethnic and rebel political organizations, with an estimated 45,000 combatants, ]exist within the country. According to the the informations of landmine monitor several parts of the country is contaminated by landmines and the army and the rebels as well are still laying mines to “defend” their territories.
The only pragmatic answer you can get is be aware and listen to the locals. I was glad to had such a good guide and people around who could give me advices and hints. Nevertheless you will not be the only tourist there you will meet other western people there some of them are more or less aware. Balance it out, anyway its worth to go.
So enough smartassing for now.

Thank You for reading..............................

Donnerstag, 3. Januar 2008

christmas survived, new years eve shipped through

before i'll start to explain how gros and even how sad the last days were. i give u some of my memories of a more calm place on earth. some people said its a forgotten place i'd like to see it as a place meant to stay in memories and should never be lost. if this leads to an opposite perception this is it. may other people see it different because they like to do so. despite travellers passing through laos is probably something what you may not search for but if u open eyes, walk off certain roads and go further u find taht something. for everybody esle it could be one of the "i made it". up to you. when u find people who seemed that they've never seen foreigners before and they are and you aswell a kind of scared or just confused, then that's something to remember. never had a kolao motobike before, never will have again. we stuccked in the middle of nowhere seeking for a magic monkey forrest. well equipped with 3 kilos of bananas and enough fuel but on the wrong ride. motobike brakedown in the dessert of translation. with handsigns we found a sort of mechanic and a more or less warmly welcome in the village community. after the workshop they sent us in the completely wrong direction. maybe it was not their purpose. probably they tried to told us absolutly not to go in that direction the whole crowd pointed at. so under broad laughter we left further to nowhere....

Sonntag, 23. Dezember 2007

city of angels

After more or less relaxing weeks in lao the city of angels opened its gates to the exhausted pathfinder. In my perception its anything els than a city of angels, more a bowl of deepfried devils. brainlost farangs seeking pricey adventures. but hey nevertheless there are some things left to soak up. take a busride, a boat and never forget the sunscreen, hit the beach on koh samet, do nothing except nothingness, read a book, grill fish, swim and get a sunburn anyway. now christmas is at the door, same same kitschy but thats the buizz and never care when thes best oft the best wil join u.

but now some of the past.. melancholies sister is sneakin around, thank u so much, cam on nieu, kop chay, khawp kuhn khrap for that great company on the sea in vietnam vietnam****** halong bay

I wish all of u a merry christymas and hope youre doing well and bear these days without me, myself and the grinch

best wishes out of dirty bangkok ***basti

Mittwoch, 12. Dezember 2007

Laos land der schlafenden hunde

lange zu lange stand hier nichts. das ding sei tot sei zu vermuten. doch ein kleines lichtleim glimmt noch auf. die letzten wochen waren viel wie immer. viel getan, viel gesehen, viel erlebt. Halong Bay, Sapa und noch von Hanoi Abschied genommen habe ich. Das Projekt mehr oder wenig zufriedenstellend zum Ende gefuehrt. Ein Resumee soll noch folgen, doch nicht hier und jetzt. Jetz bin ich im land der schlafenden Hunde. Nach Hanoi ist Laos etwas voellig anderes. Kein Laerm, kein Smog, man kann die voegel wieder hoeren. und die menschen sprechen eine lustig freche sprache, kein schnattern. "Sabadee" heisst hallo und servus "kopchay lei lei" vielen dank und der schnaps heisst "laolao". ich muss nicht handeln, nach einem meiner zoegernder blicke gefolgt von einem laecheln bekomme ich faire preise und laechlen gratis dazu. kein kampf um die strasse zu uberqueren. hier kaempft niemand, nicht mehr. auf den strassen liegen hunde und schlafen in aller seelenruhe. warum auch nicht weit und breit kein hupender Vietnamese der ihnen an den kragen wollen wuerde. hier ist man bodenstaendig, hier isst man eichhoernchen. und selbst diese fallen wahrscheinlich ganz mir nichts dir nichts und freiwillig entspannt auf den holzkohlegrill. Christian Kracht hat die Laoten in einer seiner wunderbaren Geschichten mit den Schweizern verglichen, und ja ganz unrecht scheint er nicht zu haben. Das Voelkchen lebt so in den Tag hinein ist, laesst sich nicht aus der Ruhe bringen. Warum auch nicht. Man verdingt sich so das Warten. Warten darauf dass es mehr Wasser vom Himmel regnet, Warten dass die Rueckbleibsel des so ungeheim geheimen Krieges der USA nicht nur vergraben sondern auch weggraeumt werden um den Grossteil des Landes wieder bestellen zu koennen. So warten alle auf irgendetwas aber jenseits von Ungeduld und ueblicher Hast am Ende langen Wartens. Ein gutes Warten eben. So warte ich auch, darauf das mein Schnupfen sich verzieht und die Atemwege frei geben moege....soviel heute, vielen Dank fuers lange warten!!! Alle die beleidigt sind, es tut mirl leid, mensch moege mir verzeihen.

Samstag, 10. November 2007

kick me out or let me in

Viel gibt es zu tun, manchmal zu viel. Diese Sache hier dabei aufrechtzuhalten faellt, wie man sieht, nicht ganz leicht. Krank bin ich. Scheinbar undefinierbare Bakterien oder Viren oder beides wer weiss das schon? Aber nach den ganzen Mutmassungen der lieben Kollegen und Freunde hier, keine Malaria und mit ziemlicher Sicherheit auch kein Dengue Fieber, so der Krankenhausbefund. Jetz sitz ich hier waehrend die anderen ins Gebirge gefahren sind. Aber was war bis dahin?
Nachdem wir einige Kommunikationsprobleme mit unseren lieben Kollegen hier bewaeltigen mussten, sind wir nach auf eigen Kappe nach Hue gefahren. Dort, so glaubten wir, andere geschichten zu finden als in Hanoi und Umgebung. Unsere Kontaktperson, ein tschechischer Soziologe, organisierte nahezu alles fuer uns und so mangelte es an nichts bis auf die Gunst der lokalen Autoritaeten. Nur mit viel Geschick und dem Charme Jirkas bzw. seinen unglaublichen Sprachkenntnissen gelang uns der Zugang zu den community healthcarecenter und zu den Bewohnern der Community. Dennoch meinte es der liebe Onkel nicht gut mit uns. Nachdem ein Tag recht erfolgreich schien und die anderen nur auf sich warten liessen, war es das Wetter welches uns zur Aufgabe zwang. Hue ist wohl die duemmste Stadt. Wenn es einmal anfaengt zu regnen hoert es nicht mehr auf, zumindest in dieser Jahreszeit. Und Schluss mit Regen ist erst wenn der Onkel es will. Bis dahin laufen die Strassen ueber und die Ratten gehen baden und die Fuesse werden umspuelt von dieser "Bruehe". Wir fahren Motorrad auf Strassen die nicht nach solchen aussehen, vielmehr schwimmt unser Motorrad dahin und wir gehen unfreiwillig Baden. Vietnam Vietnam. Nach vier Tagen in denen wir nicht nur rumsitzen sondern eben tun was wir koennen, fahren wir dann zurueck. Anstelle noch mehr Geschichten und Bilder fuer unser Projekt zu finden besuchten wir eine BlindenSchule, Rehabilitationszentren fuer Behinderte und fanden letztendlich neue Freunde.
Zurueck in Hanoi lassen wir es uns gut gehen. Wir folgen der Einladung der Tschechischen Botschaft zu einem exclusiven Konzert im Melia Hotel, wohl einem der teuersten am Platz. Dort essen wir massenhaft haeppchen und trinken guten echten Bordeaux. Das hilft ein wenig um die Blessuren zu heilen und unsere Kraefte wieder zu sammeln. Am folgenden Abend folgen wir wieder einer vietnamesischen Einladung. Diesmal sind wir Zuschauer in einer Fernsehshow im einzigen Open Air Studios Vietnams. Die Show ist gefaked nur Playback und der Aufnahmeleiter war wohl betrunken. Jede dritte Einstellung muss wiederholt werden. Das Publikum friert und wir verstehen nichts von alldem was sie singen aber wir stimmen mit ab fuer den und die Beste(n). Vietnam sucht den Superstar mal anders.
Den Montag wach ich mit Fieberschueben auf und fuehl mich alles andere als grandios. Bin zu nichts faehig und lass es auch dabei. Auf Anraten unserer chefin Oanh und wegen der verdaechtigen Symptome gehe ich dann doch lieber ins Krankenhaus, diesmal ohne Kamera. Nach drei Stunden erfahre ich nur was ich wahrscheinlich nicht habe aber nicht was ich habe und woher ich es habe. Ich koennte jetz ja ne liste mit Vermutungen posten, lass es aber. SOS Hospital ahoi, dafuer habe ich ne Packung bunter SuperAntibiotika und bin um 260 Dollar aermer. Ich liebe Vietnam.

Donnerstag, 18. Oktober 2007

some times they’re lucky

Lu is everything they have besides themselves. Since thirteen years they share their small house on the red river. Their are not allowed to spend their lifes on the shore. Nobody wants them there. They know what they want, it’s what they need. Everybody in this so called fishery village, where nobody is fishing, has dreams. They need to work to survive. Therefore they first wish to be healthy, to have one day without diseases and weakness. Second wish is less rain, a reasonable wish, not more than better weather. From one day to next the red river can take everything from them. If the weather is good and the aches of their tired bones are bearable, they can follow their work. What does work means here? Somehow they are specialized, like everbody here in the neighbourhood. They’re fishing plastic bags out of the red river, they recycle them and sell them. If they’re lucky they can get one dollar a day. The river feeds them. If they’re lucky ist enough for some tobacco and green tea. Thats all what they can offer you. The neighbour is expert on plastic bottles another one on cans, these are the big fishes. They’ve seen a lot since they are living there. In thirteen years people came and left. Once the neigbour family built a house 15 meters further in the wrong direction. It’s anything else but safe to built a house on the shore. Some people didn’t want them to settle down. The same people could be the reason that one day the house burnt down. The river is nomansland and the only safe place to stay. Floods or fire what is harder to stand. Some times they are lucky. Lu ist the name of the dog, everything could come but nobody should ever take hands on him. Lu is there with them and sometimes he gets small left overs, if they’re lucky.