Colorful Bangkok

After several days of hard work with the team, at last I had sometime to go around and explore the city of Bangkok on a sunny day. What I wanted to see was not the typical temples and touristy attractions, but the normal life of Bangkok. And, I was not disappointed. This city is so vibrant, literally. There were so many beautiful things to see and bright colors were everywhere. I truly felt thankful to the GAP program for this opportunity. Without it, I would probably have come to Thailand on a standard tour (which is very very popular in Vietnam) and missed the real attractions of this wonderful city.

Enough for the lengthy introductions, here are the pictures:

The statue outside of the Central World, biggest shopping center in Bangkok

The statue outside of the Central World, biggest shopping center in Bangkok

Thai people love Aston Mini, I love them too

Thai people love Aston Mini, I love them too

Cute elephants.

Cute elephants.

Outdoor shopping area

Outdoor shopping area

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What I hate the most in Bangkok is the traffic. It is even worse than that in Vietnam. However, this traffic jam looks really good in the picture. :)

What I hate the most in Bangkok is the traffic. It is even worse than that in Vietnam. However, this traffic jam looks really good in the picture. :)

People queing to wait for the bus. This is not something you will ever see in Vietnam.

People queing to wait for the bus. This is not something you will ever see in Vietnam.

Adding some colors to the street of Bangkok

Adding some colors to the street of Bangkok

Random photo of my  team mates going to a client interview. Just to keep this post work-related. :))

Random photo of my team mates going to a client interview. Just to keep this post work-related. :))

To be honest, before I came here, I expected the city to be the same as Sai Gon, Vietnam, but I was totally wrong. Bangkok is like Sai Gon on steroids. It has been a wonderful experience, and I will definitely come back here someday in the future.

America The Beautiful

I’ve always thought living in the U.S. was a privilege. However, after living in Thailand for three weeks, I’ve realized even more why America is considered one of the world’s greatest nations. Although Thailand is a modern country with access to most first world amenities, such as an extensive transit system, countless restaurants and entertainment options, high-speed internet access, and universities, I have observed a few differences that we, as Americans, often take for granted.

Food: Thai food is great, food preparation not so much. For instance, on several occasions at a nearby mall food court, I noticed fast-food employees using ungloved hands to pick up raw ingredients to prepare meals. In addition, there does not appear to be a restaurant inspection system, such as the one NYC uses to grade restaurants on their food safety and cleanliness.

Transportation: Travel is cheap, but you constantly have to haggle with drivers over the price. This is especially true when using taxis or Tuk-tuks, a taxi-like vehicle. If you do not bargain effectively, you could end up paying two, three or even more times what it should cost. While metered cabs exist, most cabbies push you toward the “bargaining” approach. I wish I had taken that negotiations class this past semester!

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Tuk-tuk and Taxi Cab

Cleanliness: In NYC or most large U.S. cities, there are garbage receptacles on every corner. This was not the case in Thailand, especially in Bangkok. Most of the time, I had to wait until I returned to my hotel room to deposit trash. Recycling is limited and similarly hard-to-find.

Infrastructure: When traveling around Thailand, you will notice that the lines on power and telephone poles are jumbled – with no thought given to security or safety. There were even instances of wires dangling low enough for someone to walk into them. Plumbing is also not the best, and in some areas it is asked that you do not flush toilet tissue (that’s right, toilet tissue) down the toilet.

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Power and Telephone Lines

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Restroom Sign

Blending Cultures

Tonight we are having a truly cultural night. Chengcheng has been an incredible host showing us around China and ordering most of our food, so we are letting her rest this evening. Instead, we are eating dinner at a restaurant named Bollywood, where Sumanth will find us some delicious Indian food. Afterward, we are going to get dessert at Hofbrauhaus where Joe and I can teach Sumanth and Chengcheng about our German roots. You might be wondering how we found such diverse places while in Shanghai, but there are many cultures here in the biggest city in the world. Actually, our office is located in an expat quarter, so the opportunity to blend cultures is prevalent.

As we have all learned in the MBA program, learning from our international classmates has been one of the most interesting parts of school. Traveling with people from different cultures is also a unique experience because we all notice different things. For instance, Sumanth, Joe, and I are not used to seeing pigeon or frog on the menu, but Chengcheng does not blink an eye. These cultural differnces have united our team and made us more educated along the way.

Kwaheri, Kenya! (Goodbye, Kenya)

Every single morning since I arrived in Kenya, I’ve woken up and thought the exact same thing: Wow, I am in Africa. Even after three weeks, it still amazes me that I am here and that I got to take part in this amazing opportunity.

At Mount Kenya University

At Mount Kenya University

The project itself was a terrific challenge to undertake. After hours of work, both staying up late and waking up early to work, I am very proud of our efforts and am confident that our client will be pleased with our deliverable.

But being in Kenya, being further out of my comfort zone than I have ever been, was what I will remember most about this adventure. As I reflect, it is hard to believe all I got to do and experience while in Kenya.

I traced the steps of village women who walk a mile and a half to collect water three times a day, and helped carry their water back to their homes using the PackH2O.

I traveled to Marsabit (twelve hrs north of Nairobi) to treat and clean the feet of children infected with parasites called Jiggers.

I went on a Safari in the Masai Mara game reserve.

Hey, whatchya guys looking at?

Hey, whatchya guys looking at?

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We tried to get a giraffe to be the I, but it wouldn’t cooperate.

I shopped in the Masai Market in downtown Nairobi.

I went to Stone Town in Zanzibar (Ok, not in Kenya, but still awesome) and snorkeling in the Indian Ocean.

Not a bad view, huh?

Not a bad view, huh?

 

OHIO in the Indian Ocean

OHIO in the Indian Ocean

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I want this house

Colobus Monkey!

Colobus Monkey!

I ate more meat than is ecologically responsible at Carnivore.

And best of all, I met some of the most wonderful people in the world. Of all the things I am going to miss in Kenya, these Partners for Care guys take the cake. We have lived with them, learned from them, worked with them, and played with them. I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality and their friendship.

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These guys! Haven’t left yet as of this writing, but I already miss them.

I don’t know what’s left to say other than I am incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity and will never forget this experience. I hope to keep in touch with everyone I met in Kenya, and stay involved with PackH2O. It was an amazing product to work on and I hope the team’s work will be put to good use.

 

Kwaheri!

I started my first blog with Swahili and I want to start my last one the same way. Kwaheri means goodbye in Swahili.

As I sit here remembering this amazing experience and all the things I’ve done since I’ve been in Kenya, I’m saddened it’s all over.

I knew I was coming to gain valuable international work experience, but I never thought I would meet so many amazing people and grow so much closer to my classmates.

From selfies by the fountain…

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To selfies with a lion…

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Close ups on elephants…

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Hanging out with a monkey…

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To eating lots of Nyama Choma!

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From chillin in the Mangrove Forest…

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To snorkeling for the first time…

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Oh yeah, and don’t forget a lot of work for our client.

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We’ve acted as business men and women, we’ve experienced the culture, we’ve created lasting memories and friendships and I’m so thankful for all of it.

As the sun sets on this great journey…

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We are able to submit our final report, and I’m able to return home knowing I just had one of the best experiences of my life!

A day in the life of Joe Gavin

Is it morning already? Time to rally the troops and head off to CEVA’s office for some more interviews and gathering data. After an hour’s bus ride (which goes by in a jiffy thanks to Joe’s sense of humor) and about 75 shot size glasses of coffee, the team finally gets to work. We start dealing with vast data sets and a multitude of reports on everything from global shipping to translating Dutch tax documents.

It quickly becomes apparent why Joe is such a valued member of Team 13. Down to earth, humorous and forthright, he quickly puts people at ease balancing conversations between work and life. His skills as a professional sports coach translate seamlessly into motivating a team of hardcore business students. But that’s Joe’s professional side.

The day’s work done, Joe unwinds by alternating between cooking delicious Tacos and playing Durak or watching his favorite sport, Lacrosse. And once that’s done, it is time for the team to head out to hit Amsterdam’s party scene, knowing perfectly well that Joe is there to get us safely back home.IMG_2010

Haggling in Nairobi

On Saturday, May 23, we went to downtown Nairobi to try our hand at haggling at the market.  I found out that I am not very good at haggling.  It was hard to separate what I would be willing to pay in the U.S. from what I could pay here in Kenya.

The first market we went to had very narrow corridors and consisted of many small shops wherein people constantly were beckoning us to just “step in and browse”. We were constantly assured that the prices were very cheap and only for us.

After shopping here for a little while, we were taken to a couple shops were no haggling was required, which we immediately regretted not going to first.  All of the prices were a fraction of what we had haggled for at the previous market.  It was another Kenyan learning experience.

We have one week left in Kenya!  Next week, we are spending a couple of nights in Zanzibar, which we are all eagerly awaiting.  It’s crunch time for our project, as well.  We’ve made good progress up to this point and have been working well as a team.  It’s a good feeling to have a project come together as it is now.

Leaving Zanzibar

Wedesday, May 27th was our last day in Zanzibar.  We were all reluctant to leave after spending two days in paradise.  We explored the town and spent an amazing day on the safari blue tour snorkeling, eating fresh fruit and seafood, and relaxing on the beach.

Our flight was to leave Zanzibar at 8:20pm, so we had the day to do with what we wanted.  Seven members of the group went to see monkeys that can only be found on the island.  The other five, my group, wanted to go to the eastern side of the island where we thought better beaches could be found.

Getting there was our first obstacle.  We felt that the hotel we stayed at, while a great place to stay, was trying to overcharge us for getting across the island.  We went and used our new found haggling skills to find a cab ride that was half the price.

It took us a while to find a beach where we could go. Most of the beach access is through hotels, which were closed because of the off-season.  We ended up finding a place that was open and was even serving lunch!  We had about three hours to spend here before we had to head back.

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The hotel was beautiful and a nice way to spend the afternoon. We relaxed over lunch and enjoyed the views.

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However, when we went to go into the water, we were disappointed.  There were rocks everywhere and no good swimming spots.  After some time, we got back in the cab to head back.  Overall it was a trip we all greatly enjoyed and somewhere I would like to return to in the future.

Bittersweet Last day in Kenya!

It is a bittersweet day.  On the one hand, most of us are ready to go home.  On the other, we are sad to leave the many new friends we have made during our stay here in Kenya.  The trip has been one I will always remember.  We’ve traveled all over Kenya during our stay here, from twelve hours north to Marsabit, to six hours to Maasai Mara for an authentic African Safari experience.  We’ve made lifelong memories for which we are all very grateful.

I was initially skeptical about coming to Kenya and thought some of the other GAP locations would be more fun.  However, I quickly learned that the experience the twelve of us were having in Kenya was truly unique and special.  We’ve seen both very sad and very cool and exciting things while in Kenya, both of which have made us more conscientious global citizens and extremely grateful for how fortunate we are.

The project was also a great learning experience for all of us.  We worked as a team with many different stakeholders to produce what we believe is a product representative of the great education we are receiving at Fisher.  While it may be time to return to the United States, we leave with many new lifelong friends and memories.  Until next time Kenya!

Kenyan ABC’s

Anthony and Ariella accommodated their appetites

Broke my bum on the bouncy bus bounding over boulders

Crowding Children clamoring for the camera

Delightful Dr Dennis and David deflecting disease

Early electronic efforts to engage Elena

Fantasizing forward for Fumba fiesta

Grinning George greets girls graciously

Hydrating humans through harmonizing hymns

Isiola insists importing important items

Jambo jambo John joyously joins the Jamboree

Kind Kenyans Karibo kids from Kolumbus

Lavishing luxurious lavatories are lacking

Midnight Movie monologue with Molly – “Mean Girls” while munching on mandazis

Nairobi nights nourished with non-alcoholic nectar

Ohio Optimizing organizational outputs

PackH20 provides purification power to the people

Quintessenial queen Kerri quells quarrels

Reclusive raging rhino rams Ryan

Satisfied sandaled sassy Seth served skechers

Tusker taintilizingly touches my tongue this trip

Ugali? Ugh

Very vicious vigilant vampire vermin

Wasting water washing wheels every weekday

Xtra xciting xploring

Yearning for yummies

Z-quill zippity zaps ZZZ’s on the way to Zebra