World Adventurers Celebrates 1,000 Posts


Dear Reader,

World Adventurers hit a major milestone today — 1,000 published posts! A thousand articles and updates later, this blog is still going strong.

I started World Adventurers in December 2004, as a way to update family and friends about life overseas. It has evolved in ways I never imagined when I wrote my first “Hello, World” post. Since then I’ve written about my books, writing, news and politics, humor, sports, finance, culture, thoughts and sayings, updates from around the world, and other topics. My travelogues have been by far this site’s most popular feature.

The early blog hosted by the now-defunct MSN Spaces Live had more than 350,000 hits and was featured regularly by Microsoft on its “What’s Your Story” page. At a time when blogging was far less ubiquitous, World Adventurers was — and remains — on the frontiers of digital media. whatsyourstory

Readership declined when Spaces Live folded and I took a breather from blogging in 2008-09. World Adventurers moved to WordPress in late 2010, and made a roaring comeback since then with another 300,000 hits. Earlier this year the site moved to its new and permanent home on my website, www.mgedwards.com, and was rebranded as World Adventurers Magazine. This site hosted by WordPress and featured on Freshly Pressed has remained so popular that I haven’t shut it down; it’s still going strong and complements the new e-zine. All told, World Adventurers has had about 700,000 unique hits and tens of thousands of visitors since its inception.

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Here are the 20 most popular and memorable posts published on World Adventurers:

Thanks for visiting World Adventurers. Here’s to 1,000 posts and many more!

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China


Click here to read the original article on MG Edwards. Visit MG Edwards for more great travelogues, photos, and videos from around the world.

How does one describe a country like China? Facts and figures do not adequately measure the immensity of the world’s most populous nation, its third largest by size, and one of its most ancient. Grandiose statistics do not do China justice. China is perhaps best described as “China.” The name itself conjures images of the Great Wall, megapolises, Zodiac calendars and complicated characters, sumptuous cuisine, exotic scenery, manufacturing might, exquisite artisanship, and many more. From the Middle Kingdom to a People’s Republic, China is a dragon both awe-inspiring and fire-breathing that has reawakened from its slumber and is now stretching its wings to reassert itself in the world. Like the 21,196-kilometer (13,171 mile) Great Wall stretching from the Yellow Sea in the east to the far western interior, the breadth of this land is difficult for anyone to fathom. An ever-growing number of foreign tourists flock to popular destinations like Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, or Guilin to immerse themselves in the Far East – or so they think – but they have only begun to discover what is truly China. Few ever will, for this dynamic land is always on the move, heading into the future and out of reach of full comprehension.

More About China

The Great Wall

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Pudong District, Shanghai

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Forbidden City, Beijing

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Terracotta Warrior, Xi’an

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Celebrating New Year of the Dragon in China!


My wife Jing, son, and I spent the 2012 Chinese New Year with Jing’s family in Shanghai, China. It was a special New Year’s for us, not only because it ushered in the auspicious Year of the Dragon but also because it marked a first for our family—the first time we had been together with Jing’s family in China for the holiday. My wife had not spent New Year’s with her family in almost two decades, and it would be the first time my son and I joined them. The happy hearts and big smiles of my in-laws when we arrived January 21 foretold a joyous reunion.

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Click here to read the original article on MG Edwards. Visit MG Edwards for more great travelogues, photos, and videos from around the world.

Carnival in Encarnacion, Paraguay


In honor of the Carnival and Mardi Gras festivals coming soon, here is a video clip from the February 2008 Carnival celebration in Encarnación, Paraguay. If you’re in Paraguay and can’t attend the world-famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, don’t miss its smaller sibling in Encarnación. I think it holds its own as one of the world’s great Carnivals and adds a uniquely Paraguayan flavor to this annual event.

A colorful festival of music and dancing, Carnival is known for its wild, crazy, and sometimes risqué atmosphere. This parade in the Carnival capital of Paraguay was festive and revealing but decidedly tame compared to its reputation. Female and male performers in colorful outfits festooned with feathers and glitter like shimmering peacocks dance to lively chamame polka-style music along a long runway. It’s quite the sight to behold. This video is just a glimpse of what to expect in person. You have to see it for yourself.

2008 Carnival in Encarnacion, Paraguay

Encarnación is located in southeastern Paraguay on the banks of the Paraná River, across from Posadas, Argentina. Paraguay’s third-largest city has a population of about 100,000, and is located just half an hour from one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions, the Jesuit ruins at Trinidad.

Warning:  If you attend Carnival in Encarnación, be prepared to get soaking wet. It’s a participatory event where the spectators douse one another with shaving cream. Leave your aquaphobia and valuables at home and arm yourself with cans of shaving cream to defend yourself from the onslaught. Bring a Carnival mask and join in the fun!

World Adventurers YouTube Channel

Why not subscribe to the World Adventurers Channel on YouTube? I have been posting video clips of great destinations and fun travel moments from elephant polo in Thailand to Iguazu Falls in Argentina and Brazil, and much more. Stay tuned for more great travel videos.

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mge-kili-cover-front-thumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. He also wrote and illustrated Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant, and Zoe the Zebra, three books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series, and a 3-in-1 collection featuring all three. His books are available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Edwards graduated from the University of Washington with a master’s degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2014 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Muaythai (Thai Boxing)


I attended my first muaythai match January 2012 at the decaying Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. Also known as Thai boxing, muaythai is a form of kickboxing that combines martial arts with traditional hand-to-hand boxing and is the national sport of Thailand. Many kickboxing enthusiasts consider muaythai the "King of the Ring," with fights that feature punches, kicks, elbows, knees, grappling, and head-butts intended to wear down and knock out opponents. Fighters use power, speed, and endurance to defeat their opponents.

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2012_01_07 Muay Thai

The origins of muaythai are unclear, although tradition has it that the sport emerged centuries ago from the hand-to-hand (sword and baton) battlefield tactics of the Thai army. The Thailand-based World Muaythai Council suggests that muaythai developed in rural Thailand as a way for Thais to defend their lands from invaders or settlers.

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The sport came into its own during the reign of King Naresuan the Great (1590-1605) of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. In 1584, the then-Crown Prince called upon Thai soldiers to learn muaythai in order to improve their combat skills. According to the Thai Boxing Association of the USA, early bouts pitted Thai army units against one another with few rules, no weight divisions, and no time limits. The matches were very popular throughout the kingdom.

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Thais generally consider muaythai an essential aspect of Thai culture. During the Ayutthaya Period, the sport became a favorite pastime among Thais, who went to muaythai training camps to watch bouts and learn it. A betting culture developed around the sport that persists today. The reign of King Rama V (1868-1910) was a golden age for the sport as fighters from around the kingdom competed in Royal Command matches for the chance to earn fame, glory, and a military title bestowed by the king.

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Muaythai adapted to changes in Thai culture. For centuries, matches were held wherever space was available until the standard boxing ring with ropes was adopted during the reign of King Rama VI (1910-1925). Muaythai was part of the curriculum in Thai schools until the 1920s, when it was discontinued because of the high number of injuries sustained by students. Stadiums replaced makeshift rings during the reign of King Rama VII (1925-35). In the 1930s, a uniform set of rules, time limits, and weight classes were introduced, and fighters began to use boxing gloves instead of rope bindings on their fists. After World War II, television introduced the sport to a larger audience, and the sport gained an international following. It is now practiced by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

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Muaythai fighters wear a combination of boxing and martial arts equipment with some ceremonial accessories. Where fighters once wore strips of horse hair, and in some cases, hemp ropes or strips of cotton with ground glass on their fists and feet, they now wear boxing gloves and cloth strips wrapped around their upper arms. Fighters used to wear groin guards made from tree bark, sea shells, or coconut shell held in place by a strip of cloth. Later, they wore a triangular-shaped red or blue pillow, and later still, a groin box. In the 1930s, kicking or kneeing the groin was banned, and fighters donned the colorful red and blue boxing shorts worn today.

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2012_01_07 Muay Thai (15)

Each muaythai bout begins with a short ceremony with Buddhist rituals. Fighters remove their bright red or blue ceremonial robes and bow, pray, and walk around the ring, kissing and bowing to the posts in each corner. They walk to the center of the ring, remove their neck wreath and ceremonial headband, and begin to stretch with dance-like movements. When the bout begins, the fighters wear only boxing gloves, shorts, shoes, socks, mouth guard, and the cloth strips on their arms.

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2012_01_07 Muay Thai (31)

Muaythai bouts feature five three-minute rounds with two-minute breaks in between. During bouts, live musicians perform traditional Thai music, a cacophony of sound dominated by the taphon drum, finger cymbals, and an oboe-like instrument called a pi. Judges determine the winner based on how well fighters attack their opponents and defend themselves. Winners are awarded a trophy.

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Traditional Thai music performed during muaythai matches.

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I enjoyed my first live muaythai match. I saw amateur bouts between teen-aged fighters, who went four rounds instead of five, and some professional fighters in the lightweight divisions. I was fascinating by the traditional muaythai demonstration during intermission. Prices for the Saturday night fights cost 2,000 Thai baht (about $65) for ringside seats and 1,500 baht ($50) for general admission (standing or sitting on the concrete floor only). Getting unsuspecting customers, mostly foreigners, to upgrade to ringside seats was a trick the box office used to fill seats. Those in general admission used chairs and had fine views of the ring. The crowd was small but lively; more spectators poured in later for the professional matches that were broadcast live on national television.

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Although most muaythai fighters are male, women also participate in the sport. Tradition stipulates that women and men fight separately. The ring in Lumpinee Boxing Stadium had a sign that read, "Ladies Please Don’t Touch the Stage."

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If you’re visiting Thailand for more than a week, you might find watching a muaythai match an interesting alternative to the usual tourist activities. Thai boxing is an entertaining way to experience an event ingrained in Thai culture.

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M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He recently published a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories available as an ebook and in print on Amazon.com. His upcoming travel novel, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, will be available in March 2012. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

Korean test exhaustion


I took my second Korean language progress test today.  It was something I had been anticipating for over a month and worked hard to prepare for.  I did fine, and my test score was around where I thought I needed to be at this point in my testing–at the 1+ level in speaking at 24 weeks (on a 0-5 scale).  Overall I did OK on my exam.  I used complicated vocabulary well, and my sentence patterns were decent.  I made some mistakes.  My fluency is lacking, and I don’t have a large vocabulary.  My ability to talk about complex concepts is still very limited.  I also misunderstood some directions on the interview portion of the exam and took a minute to recover.  That was one of the lowlights.  On the other hand, my freeform conversation with the tester was great.

The testing observer confirmed these results with me, but apparently the tester did not think I did too well.  That’s a little disconcerting.  I know I need to buckle down and work harder–and smarter–but I don’t know what gave them the impression I didn’t do so well.  I haven’t have a chance to talk to them yet.  They talked to my wife, who was a bit alarmed because she did not talk to the observer who graded me and thought I had bombed the test.  I believe I’m close to where I need to be, but I also know I need to work harder because the learning curve will continue to grow steeper.  Unfortunately, I’m not gifted at learning languages.  I do fine, but I have to really work hard when learning a foreign language.  I have to work at learning technical subject.  Language development is very technical because all languages are built on a set of grammar and pronunciation rules.  Some universities compare the ability to learn foreign languages to learning mathematics.  I like numbers and languages, but I am not inherently a math person–nor apparently am I a guru at learning languages.  It’s a necessity though in my field and will help me communicate as I travel around the world.  I’ll learn, but it won’t be easy.

Tomorrow I’ll go to the tester and find out what’s on their mind.  I want to make sure I know their personal assessment of my Korean ability.  I also gave the testing tape to a third-party to review for their feedback.  I want to make sure that all instructors in the program know where I am in Korean and will give me the help I need to get to where I need to be before I finish the class.