First visit to a training site:

Today was an excellent day in which we got the chance to check out a current Peace Corps volunteer’s(PCV) site as well as the water project she was working on. We spent almost three hours hiking through the thick jungle and I managed to only get bitten by one fire(possibly?) ant. Otherwise the walk was beautiful and uneventful. After hiking we made our way to the school for lunch where we hung out for a bit before heading off to the PCV’s home to get a glimpse into what it looks like. I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures so you’ll just have to wait until I eventually move in.

The crowning achievement of my day came during the twenty minute walk back to the bus. Originally we were supposed to sit and have discussions with some of the locals to learn more about Panama and practice our Spanish however this was cut short due to time constraints. I ended up walking back next to one of the native Spanish speakers leading my training group and I decided to jump at the opportunity to Speak Spanish and was able to carry a pretty in depth conversation with minimal difficulty. It’s great to know that all my hard work since first starting Spanish in high school are finally paying off. Tomorrow when we arrive to do a home stay for the next few weeks, I can safely say the language will not be a difficulty of mine.

Finally, a note more directed at family and friends: My time with all night wifi is finally coming to a close. Tomorrow morning I head off and will be generally without internet for days at a time. I wasn’t able to secure a cell phone just yet but I will pass that number on to you when I get it. For now, know that I am doing great and loving life.

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Safe and sound in Panama!

I’ve finally made it to Panama! Got in a few days ago and have been hanging out near the capital doing lots and lots of training. We’re headed out tomorrow to check out our first PC site to see what we’re going to be getting ourselves into. I’ve been rather lazy with getting some pictures up since after eight + hours of training each day I’m pretty exhausted. More in depth updates coming sometime soon.

Peace Corps Panama Packing List

After reading numerous packing lists from all over, I think I’ve successfully created my packing list. Hopefully I’ll be able to avoid the feeling of leaving X behind on accident or having the brand new $100 pair of Y sitting under my bed after six months with zero use. I believe I’ve packed on the lighter side, having my total weight come in at around 45 pounds. My hope is that packing on the lighter side will allow for me to pick up more in country and also the travel to my site will be less hectic if I’m carrying 45 pounds instead of 90. Below is my list, I’ll definitely revisit this in a few months once I have some time to evaluate my choices.

Item – Quantity – Description

  • Clothing
  • Work Pants with Belt included 2
  • Dress Khakis 1
  • Jeans 1
  • Khaki Shorts 3
  • Gym Shorts 2
  • Dress Belt  1
  • Work Shirts 3
  • Relax Shirts 4
  • Dress Shirts 4
  • Sports Pants 1
  • Long Sleeve Shirts 2
  • Sweatshirt 1
  • Bathing Suit 1
  • High Quality Boxers 3
  • Boxers 8
  • High Quality Socks 3
  • Socks 5
  • Rain Jacket 1
  • Bandanna 1
  • Sarong 1 – Basically a giant bandanna. Very useful for traveling when it’s a bit too hot or cold. 
  • Shoes
  • Flip Flops 1
  • Sandals 1
  • Running Shoes 1
  • Sneakers 1
  • Dress Shoes 1
  • Toiletries (One round of toiletries is enough, after that everything should be able to be purchased within Panama)
  • Soap 1
  • Shampoo 1
  • Toothpaste 1
  • Tooth Brush 2
  • Deodorant 1
  • Sunscreen 1
  • Aloe Vera 1
  • Electric Razor 1
  • Razor Oil 1
  • Razors 4
  • Chapstick 1
  • Alergy Medication 1
  • Sleeping Pills 1 – I am generally a terrible sleeper so hopefully this and the next item will help to solve that problem. 
  • Ear Plugs 1
  • Tweezers 1
  • Nail Clippers 1
  • Advil 1
  • Quick Dry Towel 1
  • Backup Glasses 1
  • Free Time
  • Spanish Grammar Book 1
  • Spanish Stories 2
  • GMAT Books 2 This will be brought down next time someone comes to visit. 
  • Playing Cards 2
  • Uno 1
  • Chess 1
  • Fishing Pole and Gear
  • Writing Supplies
  • Notebook 3
  • Day Planner 1 Will either buy one in country or use a notebook. 
  • Pens/Pencils/Colored Pencils
  • Duct Tape 1 Too bulky
  • Technology
  • Asus EEE Laptop – Probably won’t be used much. It will mainly be used to transfer data such as pictures from the camera to the Micro SD Cards.
  • Kindle 3G  – Besides being an ebook reader, it comes with free worldwide 3G which will allow me to stay in touch when wifi is unavailable. 
  • Basic Phone – Had this from China and it will work for Panama
  • American Phone – For when I return home
  • Samsung Galaxy Media Player – This will be my main connection to the world. Has long battery life, can play my music and videos stored on the micro SD cards. 
  • 32GB Micro SD Cards 4 – Enough space to hold all of my document backups, music, movies, pictures, and extra space for pictures I take while I’m there. 
  • Head Phones 3
  • Head Lamps 2
  • Camera with Charger
  • Camera SD Cards 3
  • Flash Drives 2
  • Wrist Watch with Alarm
  • Sleep
  • Sleeping Mat
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Important Docs
  • Family Photos
  • WHO Cards
  • Immunization List
  • Staging Docs
  • Other
  • Laundry Bag
  • Money Belt
  • World Map
  • Leatherman
  • Zip Bloc Bags
  • Water Bottle
  • Family Presents

Transitioning from one Adventure to the Next

All of the posts I wanted to make about South East Asia have been finished up at this point. I may revisit some posts to write about some specific adventures that impacted me the most but for now I am looking forward to my next adventure. The goal for the next two years is somewhat the same as the previous tone of my blog while living in Shanghai. I hope to talk about my adventures and the changes to my view on life. I also hope to offer a look in to what Peace Corps is about and provide information to others who are interested in getting involved. 

Kanchanaburi

Originally we planned to get a bus to Kanchanaburi and find ourselves a hotel. However, after taking a taxi from the airport after flying in from Ko Phi Phi, taking an hour taxi across the city, and attempting to manage the bus station with zero help, we decided to return to our original hotel in Bangkok and take a tour instead. The tour took us to some historic World War II sites including the Burma Railway seen in the first two pictures. 

Additionally, we rode a train for about fifteen minutes with no real direction during which time we had coffee. Sometimes tours are a little bit confusing. 

We stopped for a few hours at a waterfall to hang out an relax. 

For our last night in Kanchanaburi, we stayed on a floating guest house. 

Ko Phi Phi

Enjoying a beer on the boat to Ko Phi Phi island. 

Finally here after several hours of two taxis, an airplane, and a shuttle bus.

Enjoying some local nightlife/music. Guy on the right had six foot long dreadlocks. 

View from our hotel room.
 
Finally made it to the beach to relax. 

Bangkok

I’m not sure what it is but the wild life in South East Asia is so much cooler than in New Jersey. 

From one of the Wats in Bangkok. 

hmm…

Main tourist shop in Bangkok. 

Need an ID of any kind imaginable?

World record holding shopping market

One of the stalls sold textbooks. If I brought my textbook list I’m pretty sure I could have purchased a decent amount of my books needed here. 

Walking through the flower market.

Detour to Chiang Mai

After spending almost three weeks in small towns and the middle of nowhere, arriving in Bangkok was a tad bit overwhelming. Since I wasn’t set to meet my family for three more days, I took off to Chiang Mai to wait for their arrival.
I randomly picked this guest house because it sounded interesting. As soon as I walked in I fell in love with the place but was told the three rooms were taken. After sitting for a bit and talking with everyone one of the rooms became available and I got to stay here.
Spent the first day just wondering around and encountered some interesting things such as this sign. 
I ended up in a park where one of the other people staying in the hotel was doing acrobatic yoga. I should have gotten better pictures because some of the poses were crazy.

There were a group of guys playing this sport, not sure exactly what was going on but it seemed like the aim was to juggle a ball similar to a soccer ball and try and get it into one of the three hoops hoisted about twenty feet up in the air. 
One of the best things about this guest house was that dinner was included six nights a week so I was always back for dinner. 

Some dessert with fruit and dairy something or other.
Here are a bunch of lizards hanging out in a light, catching bugs for dinner. I loved these little guys and they were everywhere.

Decided to spend my last day doing a Thai cooking class. Here we are picking up some ingredients…

Successfully cooking fish balls, similar to American meat balls.
Saw this on my way to the train station, try and figure out what’s wrong here.