Higher & Higher

 

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Yesterday, I sat listening to Goapele’s Closer , and began reflecting on where I am in life. I began thinking on all of the possibilities, and what it takes to make dreams a reality. Not an uncommon thing, I’m sure.

I began to ask myself, what makes me any different from “them”-The lucky ones? Only to come away with this answer-Nothing. Nothing makes me different at all.

Goapele states in her song:

Some times it feels like I’ll never go pass here
Some times it feels like I’m stuck forever and ever

But, I’m going higher
Closer to my dreams
I’m goin’ higher and higher
I can almost reach

I have had these feelings she’s describing. I have hit this wall. I have experienced feeling  defeated or stuck. But, like those who are successful, I must remind myself that it is all apart of the process. Determination and success go hand in hand. Grow from your experiences, learn from them, and keep pursing your dreams.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, but do we take it to heart? Anything worth having, is work. That’s the blunt truth.

So, if you’re a dreamer like me, an entrepreneur like me, this is for you. Don’t lose faith. Don’t give up. And in the words of Goapele-Move upward and onward and beyond all you see, until it feels so close, it’s like you can just reach.

Peace & Love.

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Chasing Dreams

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Putting a hold on my semester abroad journal postings, to just talk about Life.

Have you ever gotten to the point where you just knew you were either in it, or not.I’m there.

If I want writing to be important, I need to write. If I want photography to be important, I need to take photographs. If I want my relationship with God to be important, I need to put Him first. What I want to be important, I need to make important.

I’m rambling on to say- do what you love, do it with the best of your ability, and pray God’s will be done.

Here’s to chasing dreams…And maybe, just maybe, catching them.

Do life. Do it well.

Peace & Love.

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Loose Ends Continued

02/23/14

After going back to the ship, we went out to walk around the night market.  It was peaceful as the market began to close.We sat at a street side restaurant, talked, ate, and listened to music that was playing from a street vendor with a bike, selling CD’s. We walked around trying random fruits, pickled foods, and coconut milk. And so, that was the end of my second day.

Now, on to day three. Our original plan was to go on a home-stay, but after a friend told us about a local church service, we immediately canceled our plans. It was well worth it. I felt so refreshed and thankful to be in God’s house, interacting and worshiping with his people. His followers on the other side of the world. Amazing thought. After service, we spent time looking for a home-stay.

On day four, we we planned to go to the Mekong Delta for our home-stay. Once we arrived to the station we talked to the bus station attendant and someone at a  travel agency, but could not find the bus we needed. So, after spending some time frustrated and wandering the streets, we decided to go to the  Vietnam War museum.

Once we got to the museum, we realized it was closed for lunch, so we headed to visit a Pagoda (shrine/place of worship) while we waited. We found a Taxi, not one of the suggested legitimate Taxi’s, and to make the story short, we got gipped! He demanded we pay him what was equivalent to more than $20 USD, for a not even 5 minute ride. Needless to say, we walked the rest of the way to the Pagoda. It was beautiful! We watched as people prayed and meditated in an incense filled room. There was a large golden statue with bright accents.

After leaving the Pagoda, we stopped to eat at a restaurant that attracted us with the smell of it’s barbecue. It was definitely a good choice! I’d say it was some of the best food I had while in Vietnam. Delicious and cheap!

Once our bellies were full, we took a cab to the museum. The experience was both wonderful and heartbreaking. It opened my eyes to the reality of war, and how the choices made during the conflict is still effecting the Vietnamese people to this day. Despite the destruction and pain caused, I felt welcomed by the Vietnamese.

After leaving the museum we got slightly lost, but eventually figured our way and walked all the way back to ship. We were exhausted by the end of the day. That night, we finalized our plans for the home-stay, and got prepared to leave the next day.

Not the day we expected, but no less memorable.

Dom

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Tying Up Loose Ends

2/23/2014

Let me just say, getting behind when it comes to journaling is not fun! I am about to leave Singapore, and I still need to finish up Vietnam!

Here it goes…

The second day in Vietnam, I had a Field Lab with my Music Cultures class. I spent the morning at the market with my roommate buying a few things. Our lab began at 1:30. We went to the Soul Academy where we received a tour of the school, spent time in a few classrooms, and watched a performance by students and the founder of the institution.

Experiencing this helped me realize just how important music is to culture and the unification of people. With language barriers and even cultural differences we were able to enjoy and share music amongst each other. It was beautiful. After visiting the school we spent an hour wondering around the market.

Oh! Before I continue, I almost forgot a few things. The Vietnamese seemed to be very fascinated with Black people. I had several people point at my skin, smile, grab my arms, touch my hair, and even ask to take pictures (some took pictures without asking). I had three extremely memorable moments.

The first, was during our Galentines Day dinner. There was a young girl, maybe 5 or 6 who proceeded to touch my hair. Her mother apologized vigorously, and explained that her daughter was curious about my hair. I was something new to her. Her first instinct, was to touch in order to better understand. She was not alone.

My second memorable encounter happened while walking to the market with my roommate. We stopped at a stand off the road, and all of a sudden I felt a finger reach up and touch my hair lightly. I looked over to see to whom the finger belonged, only to find the vendor of the table standing beside me with a big toothy grin.

The last experience I’d like to share, occurred while at the market. After purchasing this beautifully vibrant dress, a group of vendors proceeded to crowd around while the vendor from whom I bought the dress, proceeded to wrap his arm around me, smile, and give a thumbs up towards the cameras that were pointed in our direction.

Occasionally, I felt a bit violated, but mostly these encounters reminded me of how beautiful, exotic, and special Black people are.I think  being an African American, it is easy to be jaded towards our own skin color sometimes. These encounters reminded me of how complicated, unique, and beautiful  the Black experience is. I am Black! I am Beautiful!

Now, back to the story. After we went to the market, we went to this lovely restaurant where we would eat and enjoy a Water Puppet Show.

The show was first, it was truly a beautiful art form. The technique and mystery behind how the puppets move added to the splendor of it all.Although the entire performance was in Vietnamese, you were still able to keep up with what was going on based on the actions of the puppets.

After the show, we went straight out to eat dinner. It wasn’t until we felt a cool breeze flow through the restaurant that we realized just how beautiful everything was. The place was decorated as if we were indoors, but we were actually outside! It made our dining experience so enjoyable and peaceful. The food was delicious! Have I mentioned how much I enjoy family style/communal eating? Well, if I haven’t… I am now! It is truly a bonding experience. After dinner we went back to the ship. What a wonderful class field trip!

There is still so much more to share….

Until Next Time!

Dom

 

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Galentines Day

 

o2/20/14

From China, I get to share my experience in Vietnam with you. Beautiful, culture filled, Vietnam!

Okay, so pulling into Vietnam actually made me feel like I was pulling into the port of a different country. In contrast to how I felt in Japan and China, with the tall buildings and a crowded sky. When pulling into port we meandered through a river lined with lush green plants, a few factories that made their presence known, and boats of varying sizes.

It wasn’t just the scenery that was different, but also the weather. It was hot! The sun came out, welcoming us into Vietnam, and assuring us that we were on to a different portion of our journey.

After docking and getting off of the ship, we were greeted by a line of women in traditional Vietnamese apparel, holding a sign.

We began our day expecting there to be a large group of us going to an internet cafe, market, and experiencing the night life. Our group split up, which I believe was for the better.

Anyway, we took the shuttle from the ship, to the Rex Hotel, then got a taxi. We handed the taxi driver a piece of paper with the name and address of the Cafe were all supposed to be meeting at. He looked at it a bit confused, but then nodded as if he knew exactly where to take us… Guess what? He didn’t. Haha! He took us to a street with several Cafes, none of which were our intended destination. We decided to make the most of it, and get food at a place that had internet.

Side-note, the motorbike traffic is like none I have ever seen before! The bikes are everywhere, the people drive everywhere, and use honks to indicate that they are making their way through an impossibly crowded street.

We enjoyed lunch at this cute little cafe, that played all types of music. After eating, we dropped our bags at the ship, then headed out to the night market. When we got there, it was closed! Well, we thought it was closed, but with the help of a local woman, we realized the Day and Night Market were in the same location, but the night market was on the street rather than inside the building. She assured us it would be opening soon.We grabbed food while we waited.

The market was full of clothes, knickknacks, food, flowers, people, and of course… Motorbikes!  (Oh, by the way, it was Valentine’s Day.) After buying pants, and a backpacking bag, we met up with our group,which included a few girls who we were supposed to be with us at the beginning of the day. We enjoyed a Galentines (Gal Pal Valentines) evening on the roof top of the Rex Hotel. It was a night to remember! We talked, laughed, took photos, and ended our night with a dance. I am happy for these memories that are created as this voyage unfolds.

We took the bus back to the ship. And so, our first day in Vietnam came to an end.

Dom

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Regroup & Recoup

February 14, 2014

Okay, so now on to China.

I decided to stay with the ship. I could have planned a very rushed and expensive trip to Beijing to see The Great Wall, but I did not really have the money or want the hassle. I will need to return specifically for this unseen sight (I still do not regret my decision).

Upon arriving to Shanghai, our pilot boat was supposed to lead us through the river to shore. They did not show up, so we got what everyone called, Semester at Sea’s first RIVER DAY! It was so relaxing. There were no classes.We watched a movie in the large auditorium, ate, played games, and just enjoyed each others company.

We arrived into Shanghai around 8pm. We all quickly disembarked to experience the night life. Unfortunately, it was cool and rainy again, but none the less, memories were made.At one point, B (a friend) and I were completely lost, trying to communicate with this cab driver who spoke almost no English, and kept insisting that B, was in fact Chinese. She’s Hispanic (Haha)! It was hilarious.

Anyway, on day two, myself and two of my friends ventured out on yet another rainy day. Eventually, after trying to get money converted and finding a warm place to get food, we set out to find a market/town that was reminiscent of ancient China. WE FAILED!

We were cold, wet, and staring at a drenched map. Simultaneously, we agreed to go into Forever 21 to warm up and regroup. It was much needed. We got our second wind to search for the old market city. Not too long after, we ran into SASer’s who had been to the ancient city, and guess what?!?!? WE FOUND IT! There were people everywhere, food, and knickknacks. It was so nice. I felt as if I were walking through China’s streets of old. It was here, that I saw the extent of my bargaining skills. That in and of itself was a memory made.

After visiting small shops and eating street food we wandered back to the ship. On the way back to the ship, we discovered a peaceful Bamboo garden. What a great way to end our long day.

I learned from this day, and the beginning portion of my trip, that things don’t always turn out how you hope, but if you stick with it, you still make memories.In travel, you must be flexible and roll with the punches.

I spent two days in transit with the ship, catching up on movies, sleep, and emails. It was welcomed! Between school and travel, I was exhausted.

When we arrived in Hong Kong, I made plans to go to a place called Lama Island. It was a quaint fishing village with beautiful sites, and stray dogs. We took time to hike up this mountain/hill thing, and just enjoy nature.

Oh, I almost forgot, in Shanghai I got my first experience with being noticed as different/exotic in a new place. I had two women ask to touch my hair, and another two women who asked me to take a picture with this toddler.

Back to Lamma Island… we hiked, and the view was spectacular! I felt as if I were on top of the world.

The temperature made me feel like a little kid, cold enough to have a runny nose and cold hands, but not cold enough to stop playing and go get a jacket.

After climbing to the top, we made our way down and set out to another fishing village on the other side of the Island. We had lunch, then took a ferry back to Hong Kong.

The hike across he Island took two hours and was worth every step. Lunch was yummy, the shops were adorable, and we just made our boat by a few minutes. Cold, wet, and tired we still decided to walk around and explore Hong Kong. I felt I was truly living.

The next day in Hong Kong I had a Field Lab. It wasn’t the best or most exciting experience, but what I did take away was about the people of Hong Kong. They view themselves as separate from the rest of China, a result of British colonization.

And so, that was China.

Until Next Time,

Dom

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Here I am Part II

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February 10, 2014

We arrived in Kyoto early, around 7am. We stopped at McDonald’s  to change and  get breakfast (to my shame). After, we went to see these beautiful orange gates and temples.It rained, and with the shrines nestled amongst the trees, it was so peaceful.

After leaving the shrine/gates, Mochan took us to an area where we could feed monkeys, go to the  bamboo forest, we even  saw women dressed at Geisha’s.

Sadly, after this beautiful day we headed to the ship in Kobe. Leaving was bitter sweet.

It was such and enjoyable experience spending time with not only Mochan, but also with each other.We made memories and developed relationships, only to travel to a new place and do it all over again.

The reality of travel has finally  set in for me. I must go back  (I know there is always a possibility I won’t). To me, having dreams and goals is important, it is what keeps us going.

With  Love From The Sea,

Dom

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