Tag Archives: Asian

Holi on the Beach

It’s like a color run with food instead of running!

  
  Photo source: Vikasacharya

Holi is an ancient Hindu festival that celebrates the advent of spring. It occurs each year around the spring equinox.

The legend behind Holi is the story of a prince who is rescued by Lord Krishna from his arrogant and evil father. The king’s wicked sister tries to burn the prince, but she ends up being consumed instead. As the story goes, people put the ashes from the fire on their heads. 

Today, Holi is celebrated with a party in which participants throw colored powder on each other, eat special food, and drink. Hindus as well as non-Hindus participate in Asia and around the world.

  
Celebrating Holi Sint Maartin-style means a party of on the beach, of course! The South Asian Medical Student Association at AUC hosted Holi at Mullet Bay. After the colored powder ran out, everyone played a game of beach volleyball. According to some of the participants, the colors did not wash off in the ocean. I’m looking forward to seeing whether shampoo takes it out or if some of the med school students will have tie-dyed heads for a while.

Waterfalls and Elephants: A Thai Adventure

Meet my friend Marie! Marie and I went to college together in Arizona. She currently lives in Asia, where her husband is stationed with the military. She has gathered many stories during her global travels, and I asked her to share one with us!
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My friend, her husband, and I had been in Thailand, specifically Bangkok, two days and we decided to sign up for a tour to visit the Erawan National Park and the close by Elephant Sanctuary. Our earlier adventures had all been in the exciting city of Bangkok. We had seen the Jade Buddha,  national temples and palaces, the Giant Buddha, and many sights on-board exciting public transportation. However, time had come to see a little more outside the city.
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The morning of, we woke early and met up with our van driver outside the hostel we were staying at on Kao San Road. For three hours we made our way outside the city, only stopping briefly to use a squatty potty and grab a meat filled biscuit for breakfast while the van was filled with gas. Through the beautiful jungle and up the winding roads we finally made it to the Erawan National Park where seven gorgeous waterfalls awaited us.
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We made our way up the path to the first waterfall, along the way seeing wild pigs and hearing multiple languages from the many tourists on their way to the waterfalls. The heat and humidity required the constant consumption of water on our brief hike, but finally we made it to the first waterfall. The beautiful turquoise water gushed over the huge rocks and small naked children swam through the water with the many fish. The fish were the same kind of fish that many spas use to eat the dead skin off of feet.
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Further, we made it to a less crowded waterfall and pool where we waded and swam through the cool and refreshing water to the rocks under the waterfalls, getting our toes tickled by the many fish. Under the falls we looked through the curtain of water and viewed God’s beautiful nature. After a little bit of time and three more waterfalls, we had to say good bye to the falls and made our way down towards the van for an authentic Thai lunch and then on to the Elephant Sanctuary.
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An hour later in the van, we pulled into a park by a river surrounded by jungle. Immediately we were greeted and lead down to the shore by the river. Two massive elephants emerged from the jungle and waded into the river, each atopped by a native Thai man yelling commands.
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Three at a time, we made our way out to the first elephant and climbed onto his back. The elephant was then coaxed to spray his back with water, completely soaking us. His bristly back helped us to stay on as he moved and the river current sped on by. After a few minutes, the Thai man gave out a command and the elephant bent his front legs and threw us forward into the river. After belly flopping and trying not to be taken down river, we made it to shore where we went up to platform to ride the elephants. We climbed aboard an enormous and very friendly elephant. The trip was absolutely fantastic as we made our way through the jungle scenery. We were absolutely terrified when the elephant would climb up and down steep stairs!
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When the elephant ride was completed we climbed back into the van yet again for the long ride back to Bangkok. That day was filled with awesome new experiences. From there on we gained many other new exciting experiences as we entered Cambodia and visited Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, and Sihanoukville. After Cambodia we made our way to Southern Vietnam and saw the Mekong Delta, Can Tho, and the Floating Market. At long last we headed back to our homes in South Korea.
Life is surely an adventure.

Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights

As the sun begins to set on a small waterfront resort, people of all ethnicities trickle into the courtyard. One by one, candles and lights begin to illuminate the surroundings. As the courtyard fills, the aromatic scent of curry begins to grace the air. It is the second night of Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights.
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This is the West Indies, not India. Yet even here in the Western hemisphere, we are eager to celebrate the triumph of good over evil– and, of course, what promises to be the apex of human culinary achievement.

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Someone announces that the food is ready, and we all line up, plates ready. The menu consists of rice, banir (vegetarian red sauce), chicken tika masala (red sauce with meat), yogurt sauce to cool our mouths after the spice, naan (Indian flat-bread), and samosas (fried dumplings filled with potatoes and peas). We find a group to sit with and dig in. It’s as delicious as it smells!

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The group we sit with is comprised of people who were born in India or raised in Indian homes. The conversation quickly turns to Indian culture and geography as people discuss and compare their location of origin, lingual heritage, and family traditions. I take the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the diverse and colorful nation of India.

A university student explains to me the origin and traditions centered around Diwali. Diwali is a traditional Hindu festival lasting five days. On the first day of Diwali, people hope for wealth and prosperity. The second day of Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over dark, good over evil. The third day is the actual day of Diwali, the Indian new year’s eve. The fourth day, the new year, celebrates love and devotion between husbands and wives. The final day is a celebration of sisters. Siblings honor one another and exchange gifts on this day.

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The night grows blacker and sparklers are lit, illuminating the party scene. Indian pop music wraps us all in an exotic sheath of sound. Children dance and spin in the candle light. People migrate from tables to the bar and the dance floor.

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Before long, the deck is crowded with smiling and laughing dancers. The sky is black, but for us, the darkest night of the year is bright and joyous.

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