May 6th, 2017 by Church Admin Leave a reply »

Update with Joyce and Gillian

Joyce retired on Friday and on the following Monday she and Gillian set off on their travels

Two women, two rucksacks and 900 bottles of mosquito repellent. We are currently on a 45 day adventure across south east Asia, through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. Currently 21 days into our trip, it has been akin to an epilogue of the Steve Martin and John Candy film ‘Trains, planes and automobiles’ – a patchwork of planes, buses, overnight trains, boats and rickshaws through this beautiful region. As Christians, one of the most interesting parts of our trip has been learning about a different religion – Buddhism. Like Christianity, there are many forms of Buddhism and to be honest, we are yet to wrap our heads around all of the differences, but Buddhism is the dominant religion in all of the countries we have visited. We have learnt that becoming a Buddhist monk, even for a short period of time, can allow young boys to receive a free education at the temple and can improve their marriage prospects, as many families seek a future son-in-law who has spent even a short amount of time as a monk. Some people in Vietnam also practice Taoism, which focuses on praying and worshipping ancestors rather that a single deity. Another aspect of this trip that has been very rewarding has been visiting a number of NGOs and locally-run projects in the region. Our tour company, G Adventures, promotes itself as a socially responsible, sustainable, eco-tourism company, which prides itself on hiring local guides and putting money back into the communities we visit. We have been lucky enough to visit a project called STREETS in Hoi An, Vietnam, which is partially funded by G Adventures, and trains former street children in culinary arts – providing them with safe housing, English and computer lessons, and training them as chefs or front of house staff. STREETS aims to provide their trainees with training, a career, self sufficiency and a community. We were also encouraged to visit the Reaching Out tea house in Hoi-An – a cafe which employs hearing impaired persons. You order your drinks and snacks on a pre-made form and communicate with the staff using word blocks on the table. As with the other projects, Reaching Out is designed to provide the staff with a career, self sufficiency and a community. Last but not least we also visited Ock Pop Tok (East meets West), a fair trade company in Laos that trains local women to produce and weave silk, while providing them with good working conditions and wages. All of these projects have seemed that much more meaningful to us given that they are based in countries which are still struggling with multiple economic, political and social constraints. Like in Bangladesh, the rules of the road in south east Asia seem non-existent and even crossing the road can be a challenge. We’ve survived unscathed thus far, and have even ventured into some mountain biking, kayaking and quad biking. We’re having a great adventure and will see you all soon.

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