Southeast Asia Seminar Blog 2013

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Southeast Asia Seminar Blog 2013

Siem Reap

February 4, 2011 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Upon arriving in Cambodia we were greeted by our notorious “Tuk-Tuk” drivers outside the airport. After dodging various motorcycles, three buses, and a semi — our very obliging drivers stacked the awkward luggage in a very unique fashion onto his motorbike, which is a skill purely unique to the Cambodian “Tuk-Tuk” drivers.

Cambodian traffic, as Ben Faul calls it, is “controlled chaos.” It took us around an hour and half stalled in traffic, while our ears adjusted to the orchestra of car horns. Five a.m. to me is an ungodly hour, but the bus service to Siem Reap doesn’t see it that way. We boarded our “limousine bus,” for the six-hour trek through the Cambodian countryside.

Sadly if you ever take the “limousine bus” through Cambodia there are no shrimp cocktails or champagne. But it does break down in various places.  We were luck Aaron Epp is particularly handy when it comes to buses in the Cambodian countryside.

When we arrived at our hotel we were so exhausted that Rachel Welch and I fell asleep watching Tom and Jerry. The next day was the most eventful of our time in Siem Reap. Our particular driver that day wore a t-shirt that we all envied that said “Tuk-Tuk drivers for peace.”  This was so we could conveniently identify him by his shirt. The Wats were beyond breath taking, Angkor Wat was their crown jewel of the Wats. The architecture was overwhelmingly elaborate. I never imagined ruins being nearly perfectly intact. We got lost in the ruins for the day, which was strangely similar to being inside the Jungle Book.

I was more dehydrated then I’ve ever been.  We had some rather non-conventional run-ins with Asian monkeys, and my jeans were covered with the dust of ancient ruins. We ended the day by climbing to a temple on top of a mountain to watch the sun set. As the sun went down we ended our  time in Angkor Wat  and our Cambodian adventure.

By Tessa Hoduski


Chiang Mai–our mid trip respite

January 20, 2011 · No Comments · Uncategorized

We had the opportunity to spend a very brief time in Chiang Mai, Thailand before before heading to Cambodia.  The flight that we had to take leaving Malaysia left at 6:55 a.m. which meant that we needed to leave the hotel at 3:30 a.m.!  Needless to say, we welcomed the 65-70 degree weather, laid back culture, and very hard beds!

We had many opportunities to experience the culture through shopping at the night bazaar, visiting Buddhist Wats (or temples), chatting with a Monk, elephant rides, and Tuk Tuk rides.  A major highlight for me, and I believe for many, was the opportunity to meet up with Andy Owen.  Owen is a Tabor grad who is now serving the Lord in Chiang Mai.  He took us to the international missionary’s school that his students are attending.  We got the opportunity to talk to some of the elementary and high school students, visit both principles, and talk about opportunities that may be possible for some of us in the future.  They even presented the education majors with the opportunity to student teach over there!  After the tour of the school they took us out to eat at a BEAUTIFUL jungle restaurant for some delicious Thai food.

The next day we met up with Andy again and he took us to an organization that is serving as a refuge for children who are being forced to sell flowers and such in the red light district of Chiang Mai.  The children that they have enrolled in their program come after school and are given a meal, an English lesson, and a chance to see the love of God through adults who truly care for them.  It was an eye-opening and touching thing for us to see and also get to be a part of for one night.

Chiang Mai was a blessing to all of us who needed a chance to get a little bit of a rest, but now we are gearing up for an intense last week in Asia.  Blessings to all of you back in the USA! — Amanda Zuercher


New cultures, new experiences

January 18, 2011 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Singapore was a lot different than what I expected. We arrived at 11:45pm Thursday night after a 15-hour and a four-hour flight. We are all very tired but amazed by the skyscrapers on our ride to the hotel.

The following morning we visited the Singapore Art Museum. It was a lot different from anything I’ve ever been to. It had very modern art and it was all by local artists.

The next day we went to a history museum and we rode on the Singapore Flyer– the world’s largest observation ferris wheel.  We could see all over the city. It was really cool.

I think that we were all surprised by how modern Singapore was.  Most of the group was expecting the culture to be very eastern, but we could observe a lot of western influence.  The city was extremely clean and we always felt safe.  We spent a bit of time in Chinatown.  Our hotel was right outside of Little India.  Those two places were the biggest culture shock we experienced.  Overall, I enjoyed Singapore a lot.  I would have liked to be able to spend more time there. – Megan McCarty

Greetings from Kuala Lumpur!

Hope all is well back home! The team arrived in KL and has been experiencing the Asian culture like the master tourists we are.

We have gone to several museums including the National Museum, all of which have been very interesting to read about and understand the Malaysian culture and lifestyles we are inhabiting. We, as a team, also went to the National Mosque. For some of us it was the first time to a mosque and was quite “different.”Altogether, an experience not soon forgotten.

As you may or may not know, Kuala Lumpur is known for a lot of different things, one being it’s food. Another is the Petronas Twin Towers. These are the tallest twin towers in the world. We didn’t get a chance to go up in them but we got to go up the KL tower (tall but not as tall as the Petronas Towers, of course) and experience a breathtaking view of the skyline, including the twin towers.

One of my highlights of the trip was what happened today, Sunday the 16th. We went to Petaling Jaya Gospel Church and afterwards two men involved with Focus on the Family talked to us about that ministry. It’s heartwarming and very encouraging to know that God is at work in Asia and specifically KL. God is about family and Focus on the Family is allowing God to take over their ministry and use it in powerful ways. It’s amazing.

As I write this to you I should be in bed because tomorrow @ 3oclock in the morning we take the first steps toward Chiang Mai Thailand. I’m excited to use their currency, the baht, because the exchange rate is 30 baht to 1 U.S. dollar.

That’s all for now! -Ben Faul

Long House

Only on the island of Borneo in southeast Asia can you take a boat trip up a river to a village where the natives are living in a long house. The boat was a hollowed out log with several seats in it and a motor strapped to the back. Once the motor gets going, riders get to enjoy a water skiing type experience. The long house was about 100-yards long and on stilts, which put the floor almost ten feet off the ground. Inside the long house, each family had their own room. The chief of this long house was 98 years old! I felt honored to shake his hand. The cultural experience was amazing. Enjoying the night festivities of the tribe and sleeping in a mosquito net made me feel like I was on the most exotic camping trip of my life. – Michael Loewen

Longhouse 3
Longhouse 2


The Adventure Begins

January 5, 2011 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Tabor College students and staff are now embarking on an adventure of a lifetime.  Dr. Aleen Ratzlaff and Ron Braun are guiding a group of seven students on a trip through Southeast Asia.  They left early the morning of Jan.5 and will return Jan. 28.

Their trip will include stops in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia.  In addition to visiting museums, mosques and sightseeing, there will also be travel to indigenous villages of the tribes in Borneo and northern Thailand.  Service projects will be completed at mission locations.

This group of seven students and two leaders left this morning from Wichita.  They will spend most of January touring and learning.

This group of seven students and two leaders left this morning from Wichita. They will spend most of January touring and learning.

During their travel, they will be learning more about Buddhism, Confuciansim, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity while being immersed in the cultures of the Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Thai and Cambodian people.



January 28, 2009 · No Comments · Uncategorized

We arrived in Bangkok to a hot and humid day, very much a different climate than the north.  We spent our first day enjoying the Chinese New Year.  Celebrations were everywhere with lion dances, dragons and food everywhere.  Some of the food we saw was like we have never seen before.  There were fried cockroaches, grasshoppers, beetles, bees, worms and other insects we did not know existed.  There are many places to try almost any type of exotic food you can imagine, yet places where we could get foods for those of us who needed to stay on the less exotic side of things (like me). 

We went to an incredible night market with local vendors selling their goods.  Here we purchased our last minute gifts for our loved ones back home. 

Today we travelled to the Grand Palace and the Wat Po.  The Grand Palace is where the Kings have lived from many years in the past.  We toured many ancient artifacts, weapons, money, crown jewels, and many other beautiful ornaments.  We also saw the famous emerald Buddha.  This is a Buddha that traveled from India, to Cambodia, to Laos and then to Thailand throughout many years until today.  At the Wat Po we saw the 3rd largest reclining Buddha in the world, about 130 feet long.  Wow.  Then we saw the collection of sitting Buddha’s and a very famous standing Buddha.  It was very impressive.

Our day concluded with our last group meal at a restaurant overlooking the river.  We enjoyed reminiscing about our experiences on this trip. 

Tomorrow morning we leave for home.  Until we see you on the other side of the world.

The Southeast Asia Tour


Thailand Part 3

January 28, 2009 · No Comments · Uncategorized

It is hard to capture in a blog what we found the Lord doing in Thailand but I will do my best.  The majority of Thai’s are Buddhist, about 90%, so to be among Christians is not only comforting but exciting.  We traveled to Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand and found this town to be a charming place.  We spent a Sunday in church at the University where we were blessed to have met up with some people that Aaron Phillips knew from previous experiences.  We sang many familiar songs in English with the Thai people singing in Thai as we sang in English.  It was amazing.  Then we were blessed with a great lunch and fellowship with the Christians in Chiang Rai to discover what the Lord is doing in Thailand.  A Christian worker there explained that the church has tripled in size over the past three years consisting of mostly college students attending the university.  Praise the Lord.

On another note, we visited a Buddhist temple called the White Temple.  It was an incredible place.  The entire temple is white with glass pieces all around the temple.  It was definately a more modern and unique looking temple than any of the other temples we had previously visited. 

We also had an opportunity to visit the Golden Triangle where Laos, Burma (Myanmar), and Thailand meet.  This was a neat experience.  Here we took a boat ride to Laos where we were able to experience a different country and culture.

Outside of Chiang Rai we went to a local Christian village where they train elephants to give rides.  We had a great experience riding elephants in the local village and had a great time.  This village is doing a lot to minister to the people there and we were told that the majority of the people are Christians.

Chiang Rai is a beautiful town and the weather was cool, a nice welcome from the south where it is hot and humid.


Thailand Part 2

January 20, 2009 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I am writing this post in Michael Phillips office in ChaingKham, Thailand.  This has been an amazing part to our trip.  Yesterday we ate an amazing meal on the back patio by the local church families.  The students enjoyed conversations with the Christian Thai families, Jake became friends with some of the Thai boys his age, and Michael introduced us to the group of men and women who are serving the Lord in Thailand. 

Today we got up early and drove up to the hills outside of ChaingKham and walked through a market where local Hmong and Laotian people were selling their goods.  It was quite impressive.  After the market we walked up the road to the location where the Christian people are working on building a church.  We cut the dead brush and branches with machetes and worked with the local Christian Hmong people.  The women were experts at cutting down the branches and they got the nickname “superstars” by our team.  After we cut, the church families made an amazing meal for us.  It consisted of rice, fern, chicken, omelet, and spicy sauce.  It was amazing.  After our meal we were able to climb to the top of a cliff overlooking Thailand into Laos.  We actually stepped our feet into Laos.  The cliff was over 5,000 feet high.  It was incredible to overlook into Laos and at the mountains of Thailand and Laos. 

Our group has been amazing.  The students have had many memorable experiences and we will never forget the memories made here in ChaingKham, Thailand. 

Please pray for the people here that the Lord would work in miraculous ways.  The missionaries here ask for special prayer for the church to grow spiritually and that the people would develop deeper relationships with Christ.

Seeing Him at work,

The Southeast Asia Team


Thailand Part 1

January 16, 2009 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Hello from Chaing Mai,  Thailand.  We arrived here yesterday and was greeted by missionary Michael Phillips, Aaron Phillips father.  It was wonderful to meet up with him half way across the world.

The climate in Thailand is much cooler, a welcome coolness for us and nice to get away from the heat.

After unpacking at our hotel, we traveled into the mountains and visited a Buddhist temple.  This was an amazing place and quite impressive.  We then traveled to another temple in the city of Chaing Mai that is to be thought around 1,000 years old.  The temple was made of stone bricks and was also a beautiful place.  The temple had been burnt hundreds of years ago by the Burmese so we were able to see some of the damage from that time. Then we ate a meal together and went to the night market.

Our time in Thailand is around two weeks.  We have a lot ahead of us in working with the local people in Northern Thailand.  It will be an unforgetable experience.

Look for a few more blogs to come from Thailand.  Thank you for your prayers and support while we are gone.

Sustained by Him,

The Southeast Asia Team


Batu Caves, KL Tower and more

January 14, 2009 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Hello there from Kuala Lampur, Malaysia.  The past two days have been a whirlwind of sightseeing, shopping, and spiritual growth. 

We took a day tour to the Batu Caves, a sacred Hindu place of worship, where we climbed over 300 steps to reach the top of the Caves.  Here we saw the beautiful caverns where inside the worshippers laid offerings and paid homage to their gods.  It was very eye-opening and interesting.  We also took at trip on an elevator to the top of the KL telecommunications tower.  The tower gave us a birds-eye view of the city of KL and more.  Other stops on our trip included the Sultan’s palace, the Malaysian national memorial, the famous pewter factory and the Batik fabric factory. 

We also stopped at the National Islamic Mosque.  Here the women in our group put on purple robes that covered us from head to toe and some of the men put on robes if they were wearing shorts.  All of us took of our shoes out of respect as well.  We walked up to the place where worship occurs and observed men praying in the mosque.  We also had an opportunity to listen to a guide tell us about the Muslim faith and the teachings of Islam. 

In unique ways we have seen the hand of God working in Malaysia.  Yesterday we stopped at the Focus on the Family Malaysian headquarters.  They have developed a unique relationship with the Malaysian government, which is Islamic, where they have partnered with several government agencies to teach abstinence education to the Malaysian youth.  This is a program that involves Focus staff working with teens on the reasons to remain pure until marriage.  They have the teen sign a pledge card at the end of the training and they have seen success among many teens who were undecided about sexual purity before marriage become decided to remain pure until marriage.  The staff at Focus spoke often about how they have seen God work in Malaysia and they gave all the credit to him.  It was comforting to be among brothers and sisters in Christ who have such a deep passion and committment to Jesus.

We will be headed to Thailand on Friday.  I will blog from there.  Thank you for your prayers and support.

The Southeast Asia Tour


Greetings from Malaysia

January 11, 2009 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Our time has gone by very quickly.  It is hard to imagine that we have flown halfway around the world and that we have danced with the native Iban people, shared many delicious meals together, and gotten to know each other through the eyes of our Southeast Asia tour.  We are in Kuching, Malaysia, at the time of this blog.  Kuching is on the island of Borneo.

The weather has been tropical. Of course, you say.  Well, it has been rainy to the point of flooding.  On our drive back from the longhouse our tour van was stopped behind about a mile of traffic because the roads were covered in water.  It was amazing to see the countryside covered in water and water streaming everywhere, in homes, in shops, in cars, everywhere.

The trip has been amazing so far.  The food is wonderful.  Some of the foods we have eaten are fern, chicken gizzards and heart, stingray, prawns, papyaya, guava, pineapple, pink, rambutan, mutton, rice, noodles, and so much more.  The people are very friendly and look at us with amusement, saying under their breath, “Those Americans.”  Of course, I say this in jest.

I cannot download my pictures from this internet cafe, so I will make an effort to post pictures on my next blog.

Tomorrow we are leaving Kuching and heading for Kuala Lampur.  I hope to have an opportunity to blog from there.

Until then I will say goodbye and thank you for your prayers.  God has been moving in many ways and the Spirit’s presence is felt with us all the time.

In Him,