Monthly Archives: September 2014

First impressions of Cambodia

Desolation, heartache, and hopelessness- it is strange how different countries FEEL different. Thailand was exciting and vibrant, Laos was beautiful and sweet, but from the moment we stepped foot in Cambodia, it has felt very different. I don’t know why exactly- maybe it’s the dusty streets or the garbage littering the sides of the road, maybe it’s the despair you can see in the eyes of the tired passerby, maybe it is the extreme poverty that over 70% of this country faces everyday or maybe it is because of Cambodia’s horrifically sad history. Whatever it is, it exudes a different sense, a different kind of emotional connection.





But in stark contrast to the feeling of this place, there are beautiful people that we have met that exude life and hope. Our tuk-tuk driver for example, humbly serving us for up to 12 hours a day, yet greeting us with a smile seeped in warmth and sincerity. We have immensely enjoyed our conversations with him about life in Cambodia, about his family and about the places we visited.


We learned from him that before 1998, foreigners were… well, very foreign. He talked about the differences between city and country life and some of the challenges that plague the country- drunkenness and domestic violence being among the top concerns, especially among the men. He says that it is driving families apart and images of violence stick in children’s brains like a virus. We also learned that a lot of the children selling things at the temples and in the markets do not go to school so that they can work, thus keeping the vicious cycle of poverty going- generation to generation. It is so sad really. We have sat back in the distance and watched how these people live. Seventy percent of the Cambodian people are farmers- working in rice fields or raising chickens or cows. Twenty percent are workers- doctors, teachers, etc., and only ten percent are businessmen/women. They have tiny homes, the children run around naked and dirty, and they work very hard. It was both heartbreaking and heartwarming to watch the hustle and bustle of the Cambodians around us. This will certainly be an interesting ride!



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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Uncategorized


The journey BACK to Hong Kong

So if you read my prior post, “An Unforgettable Journey… to Hong Kong” (posted way back in June), this is the sequel… the journey BACK to Hong Kong. After a lot of confusion getting TO Hong Kong, we ended up spending the night in Shenzhen (mainland China). Although our accommodations were nice, we were only in our hotel for a short night’s sleep (maybe 5 hours) before we were back up, eating breakfast, and ready to cross the border (again) to get back into Hong Kong. We had asked the workers at the hotel if they could call us a taxi to bring us back to immigration and then we sat down in the lobby and waited. A kind gentleman who was sitting across from us struck up some small talk (in English!) and so we chatted with him for a while. We told him our crazy story from the night before and he tried to tell us what we would need to do to get back into Hong Kong (and to our hostel) and how we could get there. We waited for a while, chatting with him, until his own ride came and then, seeing that we were still waiting there, he invited us along with him. His name was Sam and he does business all over China, his friend/partner was also in the van and we chatted all the way to the border. Not only did they give us advice on what busses to take, where to get off, etc.; they also walked us to the bus ticket counter and bought the tickets for us. They showed us where to enter and then said goodbye. I’m pretty convinced that Sam was an angel that God sent to us to bring us back to where we needed to be.
We entered into the immigration line and waited for what felt like an eternity. The downside of travelling over Chinese holidays is that EVERYBODY who’s Chinese is also travelling over the Chinese holidays. We happened to be travelling into Hong Kong at the same time everyone from Shenzhen was travelling into Hong Kong. So we waited in the longest line ever, packed like sardines, hardly moving and casrrying all of our luggage.
It was a long start to our vacation. We finally made it through customs (for the third time in less than 12 hours) and headed to the appropriate bus stop.
After boarding, we were nervous because we had no idea where to get off the bus, but a kind lady saw our confusion and was very helpful. We drove through the city and along the bay, watching the bustling activities along the loading docks, and taking in the lovely scenery.

on the bus



loading dock

About an hour later, the lady nudged us and told us it was our turn to disembark. We got off and asked around on how to get to our hostel at Chungking Mansion. Along the way, we were solicited to buy purses, watches, suits and hash (yikes!). We were relieved to finally get to our hostel, get checked in, and ready to finally start our vacation!

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Posted by on September 28, 2014 in Uncategorized


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The best part of living abroad

Living abroad is certainly an adventure: you get to experience new cultures, new languages, different foods, see all sorts of different places, and meet so many interesting people. But to me the best part of living abroad has been being a part of the local expat community.
Last Saturday, Trent and I headed out to our local grocery store, Leader, to pick up some things for our houseguests to eat when they joined us that evening. From the moment we stepped in the store we saw people we knew: students, co-workers, friends from fellowship and other people we knew. We must have run into 35 people we knew on our short little trip to the store. It was such a delightful time to chat and catch up with so many people we don’t get to see so often. We got to say goodbye to Phoebe before she flew out to Saipan for a semester abroad. I even got to see my friend Brian Sobas (finally) who I went to college with and who recently moved to Qingdao. Our little trip quickly lengthened to several hours, but it was fantastic! It was like having a party but not having to do any of the work. We got to see so many people in a short amount of time. And this isn’t unusual living in our “small town” (Of nearly 8 million people…) of Qingdao. When we visit local restaurants, go to the beach, go out riding on our scooter, etc. we constantly see people we know. In the states I could go weeks without seeing anyone because we are always so busy and if we’re not intentional about maintaining friendships, they can easily fall by the wayside. Here, the expat community is so small that nearly everyone knows each other or at least knows of the other person. We all have mutual friends and the small world connections here are mind-blowing.
For example, 2 other people from my tiny Christian college in St. Paul, MN live here in Qingdao. Not only 2 people from my college, two people that I knew, spent time with and hung out with. That wouldn’t be so strange except that my college only had about 2000 people in it. How we all ended up in Qingdao, China is still a mystery to me.
Trent has found a relative in China. Yes, at a different International school in Qingdao there is another Logsdon. Not just another Logsdon, an actual not-so-distant relative of Trent’s family. They can both trace family lines back to the early 1800’s to “Bulger Joe” Logsdon, of Illinois. He was an acclaimed Indian fighter and contemporary of George Washington, very famous in his day.
Katie Peters and I played against each other in College Soccer, Carrie Thorpe ran the Great Wall Marathon with a friend of mine, Rachel Rust grew up just miles away from Trent and they went to rival high schools, Melissa went to Trinity College where some of my best friends went; somehow there are a ton of Minnesotans and Texans here in Qingdao. We run into people we know even on vacation (like A.J. in Suzhou). It is crazy how many people randomly know people we know.
Anyways, living abroad is not necessarily easy, but the camaraderie and friendships we’ve developed here are second to none. I love our friends here!

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Posted by on September 8, 2014 in Uncategorized


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