1 Jan 2015

Thailand Mission Trip 2014 - Part One: Bangkok

Introducing, a new series on JessePædia: Thailand Mission Trip 2014. You can read about the mission meetings and the work we put to prepare for this trip on 'Volunteer Forever'. In this series, I aim to post every two weeks, sharing about my experiences during the mission trip, with each post being about a theme or a place. Without further ado, here is part one — Bangkok:

After a nine-hour flight we arrived in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. Even from the plane, we saw it was busy and full of life. We disembarked the plane and felt the tropical humidity, which was nice considering it was winter in Melbourne. Then, we were taken to the YWAM base to spend the night. 

Flying over Indonesia
Arriving into Bangkok
In the morning, we woke to the heat and sound of Bangkok. Our breakfast consisted of a variety of tropical fruit and toast with jam. I was late to our early start of a cultural tour of Bangkok because I was held up by an interesting conversation with an American couple. They were surprised when I told them it was winter in Australia, because they came to YWAM Bangkok on their summer. Rushed, I quickly packed my bag, grabbed a water bottle and we started to walk.

Bangkok smelt like a combination of a dodgy pad thai with egg and rubbish, which was evident on our way to our first attraction. We visited Gold Mount (Wat Saket), a popular tourist attraction for Buddhists, by bus, foot and river boat. Bangkok is full of canals and river boats, just like Venice. 

River boat
We could already see the poverty in Thailand. 
Gold Mount was full of tourists and school-children. The note on the stairs to the temple said '250 steps', I decided to test that. The temple was golden and had a great view of Bangkok. We could see everything from houses to sky scrappers to farm areas. We saw many Buddhist travellers paying their respects to Buddha. 

We climbed the second storey of the temple, there was the golden spire, at least five metres in diameter. Around it was a red carpet and a statue. People took their shoes off and bowed down to the spire. This confused me, I thought Buddhists bow to Buddha images. So, I asked the translator what was going on. She told me they believe Buddha's bones are inside there. Then, I asked her how old the temple was and she said it is about one-thousand years old. This puzzled me because Buddha died more than two thousand years ago and this temple is around one-thousand years old, how can they be sure it is really Buddha's bones.  

People praying to the spire

Before leaving, I gave in and hit the gong. I just couldn't resist it. 

On the way down, I counted 148 steps altogether but no one cared :(. There were also random statues on the stair-breaks. One was a depiction of a man being eaten by vultures. Fair enough. 

When leaving, two Thai girls excitedly came up and asked one of the team where is he from. When replying 'Australia', they asked 'are you a soccer player?'. He said he plays soccer but not professionally. Disappointedly, they said they were sure he was the soccer player they saw on TV last night. 

Next, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch, then a palace where the emerald Buddha is kept. 
The Ministry of Defence. We saw this while walking to the palace. 
When we got there, we were welcomed with signs reading: 'Don't disrespect Buddha'. 
"Sounds interesting". I read their flyer, it said they find it offensive to keep a Buddha image as furniture, to put a Buddha on the ground, to have a tattoo of Buddha, to have shoes with Buddha on them and to name your dog 'Buddha' or name a bar after him. They're looking at you, "funky Buddha club". I guess it would be like naming a bar, 'the Christ bar' or 'the Muhammed bar', it sounds weird and offensive. 

The palace was a time-travel back to Mediaeval Thailand. The fact people built highly detailed palaces in the Bangkok heat without modern technology fascinated me. The buildings were golden with colourful mosaic tiles, all were impressed by the intricate designs. 

Entire pillars were covered with patterns like this. 

Many tourists were there, along with the usual suspects from the US, Britain, Australia and China. The tourists stood out wearing Thai elephant pants. 

We weren't allowed to wear shoes in the building where the Emerald Buddha was kept and I was remanded for walking in while wearing a hat. The inside was dark and walls were covered in paintings of Buddhist stories. I thought the paintings of tigers were cool. There was a sea of people sitting on the floor facing the emerald Buddha, sitting high on the platform with a glass box around it. People were praying, others (like me) were admiring the art. 

We left the palace and took a sky-train to Siam Centre. It reminded me of the train in Divergent. Siam Centre is a massive shopping complex. There were high class brands inside, ranging from Ferrari to H&M. The guys and girls got up and did some window shopping. The guys looked at cars, phones and watches while the girls looked at clothes and bags. 

The day finished by going to a dodgy-looking restaurant for dinner. The restaurant had no door, served on plastic plates and the menu was made up of pictures of food with prices on the walls. I drank coke out of a glass bottle for the first time and surprisingly it tasted better than coke in plastic bottles. 

We ordered and shared our meals after we bought them. Then it happened. Thinking that eating chillies on almost everything at home would have me in good stead, I served myself some penang chicken and rice. I took a bite, 'mmmm, this is nice'. I ate the delicious combination of chicken, spices, coconut milk, peanuts and rice in one hand and drank coke with the other. I continued eating like this until I ate half of the curry. That's when the kick came in, this was incredibly spicy. Thai spicy is not flavour, it is literally heat. I felt the heat go up to my ears and to the back of my throat. My mouth was on fire. I drank two bottles of coke, a litre of water and two servings of rice, nothing was helping. I learnt that night to never drink anything when eating hot food. But still, it was probably the best penang chicken I have ever ate. 

Finally, we stopped by 7Eleven for some ice-cream (which was incredibly cheap) and walked back to the YWAM base. It was a big day for most of us on our first day in Thailand. 

12 Oct 2014

10 reasons to learn Swedish on Duolingo

The Swedish for English speakers course is currently (as of the 12th of October) in the Duolingo incubator and 93% complete. It is estimated that it will be released on the 21st of October, this year. There are many people already excited about the release of this free course and here are ten reasons why. 

1. Pewdiepie
If you are part of the 'bro army', you can now understand what pewdie says in Swedish without looking at the subtitles. 
Creative Common by Sophie Fielding
2. Schengen Area
Sweden (Spain, France and Germany just to name a few) are part of the Schengen area, meaning they have abolished passport and other types of border control at their common borders. This means you can walk to Sweden from Norway or Finland without a passport. Now, that I made you want to travel to Sweden, start preparing by taking the Swedish for English speakers course.  

Creative Common by European Parliament
Learn what the IKEA labels say in Swedish.

Creative Common by Gerald Stolk
4. Swedish meatballs
Learn to say delicious. 

Creative Common by Adam Kuban

12 Apr 2014

What living language is the closest to Latin?

Em Português

The Roman Empire conquered a large portion of Europe, they brought their language, Latin along with them. It was spoken throughout the empire but over the centuries, local, popular, nonstandard forms of Latin called 'Vulgar Latin' evolved into today's Romance languages. 
Image by KayYen

There are 5 major Romance languages (Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian) and several minority Romance languages (such as Sardinian, Sicilian and Occitan). Romance languages are split into two groups, Western and Eastern. Western Romance languages include Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese, while Romanian is an Eastern Romance language.  

30 Dec 2013

2013 in 10 Events

Ten events in 2013 that made headlines in Australia. 

Image by Simon
1. Benedict XVI resigns as Pope, being the first since 1415 and the first to do so voluntarily since 1294. 

Image by Catholic Church (England and Wales)

2. Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving British Prime Minister, died at 87 years.

Memorial outside The British Embassy in Santiago.
Image by Rivera Notario
3. Edward Snowden was given temporary asylum in Russia.

Street art portrait of Snowden
Image by Thierry Ehrmann
4. Prince George of Cambridge was born. 

Image by Christopher Neve
5. Australia had three Prime Ministers in one year: Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott. 
Tony Abbott, the current Prime Minister of Australia.
Image by 
Troy Constable Photography™

27 Dec 2013

Please support my mission trip to Thailand in July 2014

Creative Common by Free Grunge Textures
In July 2014, I am going to a village in the highlands of Thailand as a Volunteer to work in an orphanage called 'Grace House'. The Grace House Orphanage is a home for boys and girls from local hill tribes escaping poverty. The orphanage provides food, clothing, activities, an introduction to the gospel, games and the ability to attend a local school where they will learn skills to hopefully allow them to find suitable work in the future.

Creative Common by Axel Drainville

On this mission, I will be part of a group who will help with the maintenance of the orphanage, serve at the local church, teach English and provide financial assistance to the orphanage and to the local villages.

To make this trip a possibility for me, I need to raise $2950 by March 2014. Your donations will cover my flight, transport, food and accommodation. I am seeking 120+ sponsors to assist me with my voluntary trip by donating $25 and any additional donations that I receive will be given to the orphanage.

I am willing to exchange your donation for a one hour beginner session to learn Indonesian over Skype if you choose to.
Creative Common by Mon555

Please donate at:

The link above also has blogs about my preparation for the trip, so please check that out. 

Alternatively you can donate directly at;
BSB: 484-799
Account number: 084640250.
Bank: Suncorp bank.

Finally, I would be grateful if you would spread the word by sharing this blog to others who would also support me with this worthy cause.

Thank you in advance for your donations. :)

23 Dec 2013

Christmas Advent 2013: Doreen

Like last year, Laurimar (Doreen) there are many houses covered with Christmas lights. Here are some photos of my experience there.

Nativity Scene
Christmas tree

22 Dec 2013

Christmas Tip #1: Gothic Calligraphy

Image by Juan Manuel
Despite my terrible handwriting, I take the time to write (at least the names of) Christmas cards in Gothic calligraphy. Here are 5 reasons why you should do the same:

1. Writing in Gothic script preserves history.

Writings in blackletter have been done since the 12th Century AD. 

2. You don't necessarily need to have a calligraphy pen to write in the script.

Though a calligraphy or a fountain pen would be ideal, you still have a similar effect with a fine-liner. 

3. German-speaking areas used blackletter the longest.

Though, it did not originate in Germany, the Gothic script was used for the German language until the 20th Century, this is where the association of the Gothic script with Germany came from. Things associated with German culture (or come from Germany) often relate to the Christmas theme, for example: pfefferkuchen, Christmas carols (many are German in origin), Christmas trees and stollen.

20 Dec 2013

Climbing Mt Feathertop

Ned Kelly Monument
About two months ago, I went on a group trip to the Victorian Alps. We went on a four hour bus trip from Melbourne to Harrietville and stayed at Feathertop Chalet. The following day, we began our overnight hike to the summit of Mt Feathertop. 

Being 1,922 metres tall, Mt Feathertop is the 2nd tallest mountain in Victoria and it's first recorded climb was in 1853 by German-Australian Dr Von Mueller.

24 Nov 2013

10 reasons not to use statistics as evidence

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." - Mark Twain or Benjamin Disraeli (Contestability)

Warning, do not read if you are a statistician. 

#1. 100% of all people who drink water die. Therefore, water is poisonous. (Definition of a poisonous substance is "causing or capable of causing death or illness if taken into the body")

#2. 100% of all male platypus are semi-aquatic, this means they partially live in water. Male platypuses are born with a venomous spur. Water is indeed poisonous and is capable of making you venomous. 

Creative Common by Leo (0ystercatcher)
#3. 100% of all mass murders consumed water within three days before killing someone and 100% of people who start fights consume within three days of starting a fight. Therefore, water makes you violent. 

#4. 100% of all tsunami are made of water. Water is indeed violent.

#5. 100% of cane toads drink water, adult cane toads are dangerous because they are toxic. Therefore, water is also capable of making you toxic and dangerous.

Creative Common by Ken-ichi Ueda

7 Oct 2013

The do's and don'ts of the Melbourne Show

Recently, I went to the Melbourne Show 2013. I have been to the Melbourne Show each year for as long as I can remember and I will share some tips I have learnt over the years.

Do: Visit exhibitions there
This year, Masterchef Australia was filmed in Melbourne, on the show grounds. As a Masterchef fan, it was opportunity not to be missed.