The last stop on our tour of Southeast Asia was the country/city of Singapore. Me and my friend Whitney had the opportunity to explore the whole city using the metro.

We began by visiting a Night Safari on one side of town where we got to see how nocturnal animals interact with each other when most zoos would be closed. We got to witness a pack of wolves howling to each other, which was really cool. Later we were on the complete other side of town when we visited Sentosa, which is a resort island that has some nice beaches. Singapore is a very nice city and very clean compared to some others that we visited. It was fun to get to adventure around the city and see the sights.

 Submitted by Logan Zielke

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I have never seen God so clearly than in a nationally Islamic country like Malaysia. Here in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Muslim women go about their daily lives with head coverings, sometimes even black, full-coverage robes with only their pretty eyes visible. And I was scared that my tiny cross cartilage earring would be too much of a loud religious statement.

Although we stood out as tall, wild Americans with no handle on the culture, religious offense seemed to never be taken. One of our day trips in the city was to visit the National Mosque downtown. We were miserably lost; however, God revealed himself to us through random people on the street to direct us through the confusing construction and rampant sidewalks. Once at the bright blue, modern mosque, women with short sleeves and uncovered heads borrowed lavender robes.

The main prayer hall is closed to the public out of respect for the Muslims that use it. A helpful tour guide informed us on tidbits about the structure, 5 pillars of Islam, and comparisons of the Qur’an to the Bible. At the end of the visit, the guide gave me his translated meaning of the Qur’an. I still wish that I could have traded his book for a pocket-sized New Testament, just to show him where we as Christians stand without attempting a fight. Overall, I’m really glad we visited the mosque, just so I could understand a culture that’s under just as many misconceptions as Christians.

Submitted by Cheyenne Derksen

New and Old Experiences

We had the chance to be in Chiang Mai, Thailand for a couple of days. When I was in high school, I got the opportunity to go to Thailand with my family and some others from my church. We had traveled to Chiang Mai, so I was very excited to go back. Chaing Mai is a good sized city with quite a bit to offer tourists. I noticed right away that even though it is a large city, it is more slow-paced than some of the other cities we have visited so far. We did so many different activities. We went to a night market which was filled with food, clothes, jewelry, cloth, handmade gifts, and more! Us girls thrive in situations like that! We also trekked through some nearby mountains and jungle-like terrain. No picture could come close to how beautiful it is there. We ended up at a waterfall that a few boys were brave enough to jump into and get freezing cold. We also rode elephants which was an unforgettable memory for all. We finished up our group activities by floating down the river on skinny bamboo rafts that definitely would not pass a safety inspection in the states! It was yet another beautiful and fun memory to make!

These were just some of the activities that were new and wonderful experiences. I was lucky enough to meet up with an old friend that I met years ago when I came. Her name is Goi and she lives in Chiang Mai. When I last came, she was helping Andy and Carmen Owen, local MB missionaries. She was not yet a Christian but came to know Christ as her personal Savior a couple of years later. When we met up one evening, we went out to eat. She is now involved in YWAM, a Christian organization. I was so amazed to hear her talk about her relationship with Christ and see how much she lights up!

The time we had in Chiang Mai was definitely one of my favorite experiences of the trip, not because of markets, elephants, and rafting, but because I was reminded of how powerful and life-changing our God is.

Submitted by Stacey Warkentin


Bangkok, Thailand was the city I chose to write about because, in my opinion, it was the biggest city we visited, and with over 10 million people, there was a lot to see. What I enjoyed about Bangkok was the fact that even though I didn’t speak the language, Thai, I was still able to communicate and get my messages across. The people in Bangkok were not as friendly as the other people from the other countries we visited and this is probably due to the big city environment. I have been fortunate enough to establish relationships with at least someone from each country.

On the train ride from the Cambodian border to Bangkok, I befriended an older gentleman who offered me the seat in front of him. He spoke very little English & and I spoke not enough Thai. The only Thai I know is to describe someone as cute and pretty. That obviously was not going to help me in this particular situation. The longer we were on the train the more acquainted we became. This is incredible due to the fact that we did not understand each other. I relied heavily on communicating nonverbally. My hands and facial gestures became our language. We even shared a mango fruit and those who know me very well know that mangos are the way to my heart. Sadly my newly found friendship did not last the whole train ride. The Thai gentleman got off on one of the first stops.

Once we arrived to Bangkok, I saw how truly big the city was with my own eyes. It was incredible. The traffic had that L.A vibe, while the streets full of people reminded you of New York. Life passes you by out here. This was not how it was in Vietnam & Cambodia.

We visited the Royal Palace & the architecture of the building was amazing. It had some European influence while still maintaining its Thai roots &influences. The Reclining Buddha was also remarkable. It is over 120 feet long & about 45 feet high. The outer layer of the Buddha image is pure gold.

We also visited a floating market and this market is more for locals so the prices are relatively lower here. As I was walking the locals thought I was Thai. They would be yelling in Thai to get my attention but I would just point at my mouth & lips & shake my head. It was quite the experience I am sure I will never forget.

Contributed by Jose Reyna

Visiting the City of Temples

Today in Siem Reap, Cambodia, our group traveled to Angkor Wat. Translated literally, Angkor Wat means “City of Temples.” Originally it was built as a Hindu temple, but when a new king took over in the late 13th century, it was changed to a Buddhist one.

This entire temple complex consisted up multiple temples and even a city with about one million people. All that is left is ruins, but they are beautifully preserved. The building project was so well put together that the temples have remained for hundreds of years and we could still see a lot of detail on the decorative walls.

The first temple we visited was Angkor Wat, The views were amazing and the detail was astounding! There were ornate carvings for borders of doors and windows, and every wall was covered with battle scenes depicting religious history such as Vishnu, monkeys and demons. We also got to visit two other temple areas. Angkor Thom had over 150 giant smiling faces for towers and Ta Prohm had giant trees covering the ruins, and was also where the movie, Tomb Raiders was filmed.

Overall, the entire experience was very impressive. It was amazing how they pulled off creating such elaborate structures with more “primitive” methods. Everything was so beautiful!

Submitted by Deidre Derksen

Killing fields, Cambodia. Wednesday, January 9th

“When broken glass floats” is an old proverb that Cambodians use to signify the prevalence of evil. When broken glass floats evil appears to be winning and the bad is all you see. But eventually a the glass sinks, good makes a comeback, and the evil is vanquished.

This proverb became literal for the Cambodians in the 1970s when political unrest led to a new group taking over called the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge inflicted genocide over all of Cambodia where 3 million people were killed. The population of Cambodia at the time was only 8 million.

On Wednesday January 9th our group visited a site from the genocide called ‘The Killing Fields.’ This was a concentration camp where hundreds of men, women, and children were executed despite having committed no wrongs. Today the area is a museum for tourists and locals to learn about the tragedy that swept across the nation.

On entry visitors are given a headset and map, and then set out on a cleared path to walk around the area. As we walked and listed we learned of the many ways people of all ages were tortured and killed before being mercilessly thrown into mass graves. It was heartbreaking to see the mass graves of hundreds of children who were murdered regardless of their age.

In the center of the field was a memorial tower filled with levels of skulls enclosed in a glass case. These were the actual remains of the many victims. Whose lives were taken at the field in the tragic genocide.

Today Cambodia is still recovering from its sad past. Although the glass has sunk and the Khmer Rouge was overthrown long ago, you can still feel the effects of the disaster today in Phnom Penh.

Visiting these fields was an experience unlike any other, the chance to learn the heartbreaking story of a small nation that most have never even heard of.

Deidre Derksen views rags and pieces of clothing of victims collected from the site.

Contributed by Logan Zielke


Small Spaces

On the 7th we traveled from Ho Chi Minh City to the CuChi province where we were able to see tunnels used by the Vietcong during the war. We were actually able to go the tunnels and see where these people lived for upwards of 15 years underground.

The tunnels were widened by about two times the original size and we all still had trouble trying to crawl through them. We were able to see the different kinds of booby traps that they made by hand and it was amazing to see the variety and effectiveness of the traps. Everything was perfectly camouflaged with the jungle, and scattered throughout the area were bomb craters and other obvious signs of battles that took place there.

Contributed by Mason McCarty

Mekong delta. January 5, 2013.

We traveled from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to the Mekong delta southwest of the city. This was a place where some fighting would have taken place in the war.

As a part of our tour of the Mekong, we were put on paddle boats. Four of us were in the boats at a time and there was one Vietnamese paddler.

We traveled down a very narrow canal that was packed with trees on each side. This ride gave me an understanding of the immense task that soldiers must have been going through of trying to traverse the foreign territory of Vietnam. They were in a country that is different in so many ways from our home country, the United States of America.

MeKong Delta

Taking a ride.

Contributed by Daniel Dick


Cambodia was distinctly different from any other country we have visited.  I could tell you about the crazy driving, the mothers going to market in their pajamas, or even the interesting smells, which can be attributed to either the livestock or the culinary creations being peddled on every street corner.  If any of these things intrigue you, go ahead and ask me to elaborate.   (The traffic situation is my favorite thing to talk about.)

Instead, what I’d like to tell you about is the part of Cambodia that gripped each of us during our visit and that deserves solemn reverence.

Odds are you’re not ignorant to the horrors of WWII Nazi reign.  It’s a common part of history curriculum in schools, and some of us even have parents or grandparents who were alive during that time and remember it all too well.  That was 70 years ago.  But did you know about the holocaust in Cambodia that took place just 30 years ago?

I had never heard of the Khmer Rouge or Pol Pot before this last December.  But in preparation for this trip, I read a book called When Broken Glass Floats, a memoir by Chanrithy Him, a woman who survived a childhood ruled by the Khmer Rouge.  (Read it.  It’s great.)  Or, if you’re like me and you typically don’t have the time or motivation to read a 300-page book, check out the movie “The Killing Fields.”  It’s not an easy movie to watch, but several Cambodians commented on its accuracy.

The result of the Khmer Rouge reign was the death of more than 3 million Cambodian men, women and children.  While that number is only half compared to the holocaust in Germany, it is still a striking number.  And it was only 30 years ago.

We visited the killing fields, the place where the Khmer Rouge did the bulk of their executions.  It’s difficult to describe just how sobering it was to be in that place—to look down and see clothes and bones barely unearthed after the last rain.  Of the 140+ mass graves, there are still 80 that have not been touched.

What made it all feel real, other than the connection I felt from reading first-hand accounts in books, was that we were getting our tour from a man who lived through it all.  He lost his mother, father, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and many others during the time of the Khmer Rouge, and hearing him describe what it was like to return to that field in 1980, after the Khmer Rouge had been overthrown, it made the whole thing painfully real.

There was so much more to our time in Cambodia, and much of it was far less depressing.  But the time we spent visiting the memorials of this tragedy were the most striking.  If you ever get a chance to visit, go.  If you can only read books or watch the movie, do it.  This is a piece of world history that needs to be remembered, and a people who need to be understood.

Rachel Welch