Malawi – First Post

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Internet access is severely restricted during my stay in Malawi, so I will try to post as much as I can. Unfortunately, that also means pictures can’t be uploaded as well.

Door-to-door travel to Lilongwe, Malawi from South Korea took over 30 hours of traveling – an entire day evaporated! The stretch from Hong Kong to Johannesburg over the Indian Ocean was a grueling 13-hour competition with myself on how still I could sit on a slab of rock wrapped with cloth. After a few attempts of body slamming into my seat, I gave up on figuring out how to recline it and relegated myself to a sad piece of stationary luggage.

Once we touched down to Johannesburg, we had about an hour to kill until our connecting flight to Malawi. There were plenty of duty free and souvenir shops filled with dried venison/game, South African wine, Kinder Bueno, local crafts, and…. vuvuzuelas!!! You too can relive the World Cup!

In true Korean collectivisitc spirit, everyone in our group handed out Choco-pies and Shrimp Crackers… (shh… we are saving the soju and gojuchang for later)

I met two girls on the flight to Malawi who were from a high school in Shanghai. They were on summer break and doing Habitat for Humanity with her classmates. They were also going to Jacaranda, a Malawi orphanage for those inflicted with AIDS/HIV.

After a “short” three-hour flight, we finally arrive in Malawi where I’m met with much warmer weather. (It was freezing in South Africa)

We are staying at the Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe. There’s an awfully cute note in the bathroom that says to conserve water. However, this also reminds me of the advice given to me by the SF health clinic to close my mouth while showering so I don’t accidentally drink it. We all use water bottles to brush our teeth as well. Brushing my teeth with bottled water is something I haven’t gotten used to yet. It seems like a waste of potable water.

Also, no mosquito bites to report so far, except for the ones I got in S. Korea.

The roads here are mostly dirt and there are villagers walking around everywhere. It’s hard to describe what I see, but I guess it’s like you’re in an old Western movie. Replace the saloon with one-room brick enclosures, horses with oxen, dogs with goats, and cowboys with African villagers. Oh and you can buy roasted rats on a stick. I guess that’s Korea’s equivalet to bun dae gee? bo shim tang?

I saw a makeshift wooden stand (think lemonade stand) with the signage: “Bill’s Bicycle Pumps”. It was literally this guy just standing on the side of a dirt road, behind a wooden stand with a bicycle pump.  (A++++++ WOULD BUY AGAIN?)

Today, I got to meet the First Lady of the Republic of Malawi – aka Her Excellency! We were at SAFI (School of Agriculture for Family Independence) to watch the 2nd ever graduating ceremony. There were about 30 students graduating and the First Lady flew in from D.C. to personally congratulate them.

Apologize for the hurried post, I wish I had more time to elaborate . I will be able to post a bit more in a few days. We are going to the beaches at Lake Malawi tomorrow and then to Zambia soon after.

Ciao!

I still hate flying

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I finally landed in South Korea!

It reminded me of how much I still hate traveling by air. My total travel time was about 18 hours with the layover in Narita, Japan. The flight was midday so I couldn’t force myself to sleep. When I wasn’t getting scolded to stay seated or failing at rightsizing my armchair-headrest-lumbar-back-light-tv angle ratio, I spent 90% of my time sitting down wondering what to do next. I ran out of an entire week’s worth of planned reading material in 3 hours. You would think that you would be able to do something very productive without teh Internet or any other distractions, but no – you get into this zombie like trance that prevents you from doing anything for more than 1 hour at a time.

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A little after I ran out of reading material

I had booked first class tickets for this leg and back on the bazillion Continental points I was hoarding, so while I was physically comfortable and well fed my mind was about to go insane. The entire trip was kind of a black hole for me, and somehow, by the power of magical time-space continuum gods, I lost a day of my life, landing 17 hours ahead of my distant life back in San Francisco

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Into the Heart of Darkness

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And…. we’re off!

Where and why I’m traveling:

I’ll be visiting Malawi and Zambia as part of Nu Skin’s Force for Good Foundation initiative called Nourish the Children. The foundation has partnered with several NGOs, whose mission is to help create natural renewable resources, educate farmers, end hunger and provision women’s health care in hard to reach areas of Malawi. Nu Skin FFG even has a Facebook page! To read a report about the organization’s trip last year, click here. To read even more about the NGOs, click here and here.

Ironically, Malawi is known as the “warm heart” of Africa, so the title of this post may be just a little bit off. 😉

Here are some of the stops our group will be visiting (descriptions borrowed from FFG website): Continue reading

“If you come at the king, you best not miss.”

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There has been much talk of comparing the new HBO series “A Game of Thrones” to another classic series, “The Wire”.

The comparison certainly holds a bit of truth in that “A Game of Thrones”, like the books it is based on, focuses much time on politics, intrigue, and relationships between characters.

I’ve been re-reading the original George R.R. Martin books as I watch the episodes of the new TV series, and can’t help making the comparison myself.

Especially when Cersei Lannister, the devious queen, says something like,

When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.

I’ve been enjoying the show so far but am somewhat unsure of how I feel about the story changes made for the series.  When you are trying to adapt hundreds of pages of multiple interwoven storylines for the TV screen, you have to make some tough decisions about what to keep and what to cut.  There is an overarching need to tell the story in the most efficient way possible, while taking advantage of the screen to show the action directly.  However, there are some changes in the series that don’t seem to be driven by that need for efficiency.

I’ll save you the fanboy rant and just illuminate one of the key changes I noticed.

*** WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE SERIES AND THE BOOKS BELOW ***

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