Travels Through India…

Travels Through India…

Oct 26

Hi guys!  We’re at a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery just outside of Hubli, India.  Since my last blog, we have been to McLeod Ganj, Agra, Veranasi and Mumbai.

 

McLeod Ganj is a small hillside town right outside of Dharamsala in the foothills of the Himilayas.  It’s also the home of the Dalai Lama.  He was speaking while we were there and we got to see him up close.  It was really cool.  We also worked teaching English to Tibetan refugees who were in exile there.  It was really interesting to hear their stories.  We went to see the ruins of a temple that an part of an archeological dig.  It was really amazing.

In McLeod, Buck made friends with some guys at a coffee shop and ended up working there each day.  It was really funny watching him wait on tables and make cappuccinos.

Oh, and in honor of all the monks we met in McLeod Ganj, my brother, dad, and I decided to shaved our heads…. so we went to a barber in the little village and got buzz cuts.

From there we took a sleeper bus to Delhi (but without the sleep) and then a train to Agra.  The next day we went to see the Taj Mahal.  It was so amazing to see in person.  It looked just like a picture in a book, except it was actually there.

Then we went to Varanasi where we stayed right on the Ganges, the most important river in India.  It is believed to be very sacred, and everyone bathes their dead there before burying them.  It is believed that if you are buried in the Ganges, you go straight to heaven.

After Varanasi, we flew to Mumbai for two days, where we saw the Gateway of India, before taking an overnight bus (again, no sleep) to Hubli.  We got off the bus and realized, once it drove off, that we were on the side of the road miles away from the city.  We crammed our bags into a tiny motorcycle taxi and drove into Hubli where we met Jampa, the monk who would take us to Shar Gaden Monastery.

 

We had a great time there.  We made a ton of friends including Duke, an American monk who teaches English there and Kunga, who helped us with everything while we were there.  We got to teach English to the young monks who were really enthusiastic and kind.   They apparent thought my name was funny because of Michael Jackson.

We were able to experience a special ceremony for a young monk who was recognized as being the reincarnation of an important Lama.  It was an amazing experience watching the whole process.

We watched the young monks memorizing prayers.  Our time at Shar Gaden was really meaningful to me.   It was so cool to see how kids on the other side of the world live.  Right now we are flying to Cairo, Egypt.  We will be here for a few days to celebrate Buck’s birthday and we get to see the Great Pyramids of Giza and go to The Egyptian Museum.  Then we are on to Rwanda for the month of November.

I’ll write more soon.  Bye.

Just left Thailand… Heading for India

Just left Thailand… Heading for India

Sep 29

Hey!  We’re at the Elephant Nature Park outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand! The Elephant Nature Park was started by Lek Chailert in 1996 to rescue and heal Thai elephants. The Thai elephant population has been getting smaller and smaller for a while. Elephants used to be greatly respected in Thailand until people started using them for labor. The main business for elephants was logging, until it was banned in Thailand. Now mostly they are used for tourism, doing tricks, giving rides, or on street corners where people pay to feed them. The elephants are treated horribly by their mahouts (elephant trainers). They are found in the wild and taken away from their mothers. They are tied standing in cages for days, being beaten and stabbed by their mahouts, starved and deprived of sleep. They do this to teach the elephant to obey orders. The elephants aren’t treated any better after they are put to work. Their mahouts continually abuse them, beating them, stabbing them with hooks, and shooting them with slingshots. The main goal of the Elephant Nature Park is to buy the elephants from their owners and teach people about this problem to eventually try and stop this abuse. It is a really nice place for the elephants. They get lots of food, fields to wander around in, they get washed every day, and there are vets to take care of the elephants with injuries. The mahouts here are kind to the elephants and never beat them. And Lek comes in every day to see them. They really love her. The moment she walks near them they all rush up to her. She sits under them and sings to them when she’s here. I went with her the other day. It was so cool! We’ve been doing jobs in the morning and afternoon like making food or shoveling elephant dung. We also went with a vet to see what they usually do around the park, we cut sugarcane and replanted parts of it, walked with the elephants, built a fence, and tied cloths blessed by monks around trees to stop people from cutting them down. In our free time we all hang out and talk and watch the elephants. Today we went tubing in the river! Besides the elephants there are tons of dogs (some of them bite), cats, buffaloes, pigs, some horses, and a bear! We got to go in with her and it came up to us and let us touch her, she bit my knee! Another creature they have no shortage of is the lovely mosquito. Not so great. But other than itchy bug bites everything is going great! We met tons of really cool people here. We’re having an awesome time! I’ll post another blog soon! Bye!

More On Our Travels…

More On Our Travels…

Sep 10
Hey, we’re in Thailand!   Since we left New Hope we’ve been to Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. It was really hard leaving the kids. After being there awhile we really got attached to our new friends in Beijing. We’ve been missing them.After we left New Hope we went into Beijing for a few days. We went to the Forbidden City, which was the Emperor’s Palace. We got a tour guide and walked around while she told us about the history of the palace, like what happened in certain buildings and where the emperor lived or worked. It was really interesting to hear about everything that happened there. Then we went to Tianamen Square where a lot of important historical events in China happened. We had a good time there and filmed some stuff for the website. We also went to the Arts district in Beijing which was really cool.  There were tons of galleries and cool shops.After a couple days in Beijing we flew to Shanghai. We were out walking almost the whole time we were there! We went to the Bund, which is a walkway along the river that runs through Shanghai. On one side of the river all the buildings architecture looks old but the buildings on the other side all look really new, with lights and moving advertisements all over them. We went at night when everything was lit up, and it looked so amazing. While we were there, we met the guy whose book was voted best cookbook in the world! He took us to a restaurant where they were serving his food and it was really good. He gave us advice on where to eat while we were there. He also showed us around Shanghai.

He brought us to the tallest building in the world, which has a glass floor. I actually walked out on it, but my dad was scared. Usually I’m not good with heights but it was really awesome. It was so cool to look at the city from so high up.

We also saw a temple which was the first building built in Shanghai! It was also the tallest building in the world when it was built. It was kind of weird to see this temple in the middle of huge modern buildings and freeways and lights all around. One day we walked out of our hotel and saw a man walking by with a grocery bag. It was meowing! He was bringing the cat home for food. That definitely ruined breakfast. Besides that Shanghai was great.

When we flew in to Hong Kong we could tell it was different. It was on the beach and the air was a lot clearer than in Beijing or Shanghai. And when we walked trough the airport all the signs were in English! It was a lot easier trying to get food when you speak the same language. We stayed with a guy from the U.S. who was there for work. It was nice to stay in an apartment after the small hotel rooms. One thing about Hong Kong that wasn’t different was the heat! While we were there we went to the Night market. The Night market is a street that is completely taken up by all kinds of stalls set up in the road, which are only open at night. They were selling all kinds of things, from misspelled t-shirts to toys to bumper stickers saying funny things. It was really fun to walk around and see what kinds of things everyone was selling. We met a guy there who was living in India and offered to let us stay with him when we got there. We also saw the cricket market where they sell crickets for fighting. They have them set up on tables and there are people testing the crickets, poking them to see if they would do good in a fight. It’s really loud with so many crickets.

Once in Hong Kong, we were able to go to the hospital to visit our friend Shannon from New Hope! She was there taking care of one of the babies from New Hope who was scheduled for surgery. She introduced us to one of the doctors from MedArt.  They are doctors who are also musicians, who play music to raise money so they can pay for children’s surgeries. I think that’s a really amazing idea.

Next we flew to Bangkok. We were going to take a train but the next tickets available were for a week later.  When we got out of the airport we met the aunt of one of Buck’s friends, who drove us to stay with her family who lived in Sattihip, outside of Bangkok. They live on the navy base because our host is a captain in the navy. One of his sons, Beer, was visiting while we were there. We stayed in a room up on the roof but we spent most of our time out. While we were there we got to go and walk around the beach on the naval base and go swimming. We also got to go sailing to one of the islands off the coast. We got to eat lots of Thai food while staying with them. Thai people like really SPICY food.

We then worked at a school for children with Autism or Down Syndrome. It was a nice place and the kids seemed really happy to have us there. They had toys, movies, two trampolines, and a play structure outside. There were also rooms for the children that lived there. The woman who ran the place was very kind, and it was really inspiring what she is doing for those kids.  We hung out with the little kids in their room and some of the older kids outside. We had a really fun time staying in Sattihip.

We took a military van into Bangkok. The next day we went to the Grand palace! The Grand palace was the home of the kings of Bangkok. It’s a really impressive place to walk through; there were huge statues and golden buildings everywhere. We got some really great pictures there. Most of the time we were in Bangkok after that we just walked around. One night my dad decided we should go to this Thai restaurant he heard was good. After a couple of minutes we got completely lost in a dark street in the middle of Bangkok. We walked around for a long time going in circles asking directions from tok tok (a crazy motorcycle taxi with no walls) drivers. After a while we got some one to show us where it was. After dinner we came out and it was pouring rain and we waited forever for a taxi to stop for us.

We just arrived in Chiang Mai yesterday and it is really different. There are no huge buildings, and its not so crowded everywhere. The weather here is really nice too. In a few days we’ll be going to an elephant rescue place outside of Chiang Mai to work there. That sounds like a ton of fun. I’m going to go now, I’ll write another blog soon! Bye

Here At The New Hope Foundation

Here At The New Hope Foundation

Aug 09

So we survived the Trans-Siberian Railway, that was so awesome!  7 days on a train across Russia, Mongolia, The Gobi Desert (actually saw camels) and into Beijing.  Beijing is really busy…  lots going on.

We are now at an orphanage about an hour outside of downtown Beijing.  It’s called The New Hope Foundation and it’s amazing. We have been here for a week and have finally worked out the internet, so I will be blogging more.

We are volunteering, helping with the pre-school classes, playing with the kids and doing anything we can do it help. The kids here are so cool.  They all have come from other orphanages or have been abandoned and they all need operations or medical attention.  New Hope Foundation helps arrange operations for these kids for club feet, cleft palates, and other serious issues.

Dr. Joyce and her husband Robin are great.  They started this place.  Very cool. They have 6 children, most of them grown.  Katie who is 12 is their youngest daughter who they adopted.  She has been helping us alot… showing us around and being a great translator… she speaks both Chinese and English.

We also got to go to see The Great Wall of China with Dr. Steve and his family.  It was amazing.  I shot some video footage there that I will be posting.  The Great Wall was incredible.   Dr. Steve is one of the doctors here and he let us sit in and watch as he took off a cast and reset another one for the kids with clubbed feet.  They are able to fix the clubbed feet with a series of casts and an operation and then braces.  Very cool.

The Kids and Me at New Hope

Mostly we hang out with the kids and just have fun.  You fall in love with these little guys so quickly.  My dad and I were saying it will be super hard to leave when it’s time to go.  If any of you are interested in helping this place, go to their website and either donate or you can send a care package. http://www.hopefosterhome.com  Contact me and I can help.

We can all make a difference.  I know that since I’ve been here, I definitely want to do more.  You can come here with your family to volunteer, like us, if you are interested.  All the information is on the website.

These kids are so awesome and so lucky to have the great people at New Hope.    I’ll keep you updated on what’s going on…

Taking A Slow Train To China….

Taking A Slow Train To China….

Jul 26

Hey guys, it’s Jackson in Moscow, Russia! We having a great time here. We’ve been walking everywhere checking out this incredible city. People walk here, by the way.

We’ve been to St. Basil’s Cathedral, and The Kremlin on Red Square and even saw the KGB Headquarters building.  We filmed some stuff on Red Square and in GUM, which is a huge mall off Red Square.  Then went to Arbat Street, which is this amazing street with shops and street musicians and artists.  Very cool.

Hung out with my dad’s friend, Elena Korenova, who is a famous actress in Moscow.  She’s really great and has taken us to dinner twice. The other night we went to this amazing restaurant that is a place where actors and writers go.  Very old and beautiful… full of history…

We just got all of our stuff out of the place we were staying.  We leave later today on the Trans-Siberian Railway which is the longest railway in the world.  We will be on the train for six days across Russia, through Mongolia and then into Beijing.  Hoping it will be fun… will keep you posted.

We will be working in Beijing with The Foundation of Hope, an orphanage for kids with physical challenges.  Can’t wait.  Now, on to China!

I’ll post another blog when I get to Beijing.  Video to follow as well…

Peace, from The Love Revolution,    Jackson (ie. the global teen blogger)

St. Petersburg, Russia is awesome!

St. Petersburg, Russia is awesome!

Jul 20

Our New Friends At Transit

Hey, it’s Jackson.  We’re really enjoying Russia.  St. Petersburg is really beautiful.  Lots of history and cool monuments.  Today was our last day at Transit.  Transit is an orphanage for kids who are found on the street and given a home.  Most of the kids are not from St. Petersburg.  They come from other areas and come to the city to run away or get work.  It was sad to say good-bye to all of our new friends. We had a great time hanging out with them.  We played ping pong, did gymnastics, did some boxing (I got pounded, lol), watched movies (dubbed in Russian), and basically just hung out and had fun.

We got a chance to check out some cool things here.  St. Issac’s Cathedral,  Peterhof (Peter the Great’s Summer Home – Huge Palace with amazing grounds with massive fountains),  and The Hermitage (One of the biggest and most famous museums in the world… saw original Van Gogh’s, Rembrandt’s, Gauguin’s, and Picasso’s to name a few).

We leave tonight at 1am on a train heading for Moscow. We are going to spend a couple of days there and then head for Beijing, China. We are still trying to decide if we are going to fly or take the Trans-Siberian Railway.  We want to have the experience of taking the train, but we have heard it’s really hard… hot and longs days…

I will keep you posted once we get to Moscow.  We are having a great time and learning so much…. about history, different cultures, lifestyles and just about kids from other parts of the world.  Meeting some great people.

Peace… The Global Teen Blogger, Jackson

WE ARE ON OUR WAY!!!

WE ARE ON OUR WAY!!!

Jul 02

Hey, it’s Jackson. Over the past few weeks we’ve packed up our little apartment into a couple bags, dropped the dogs off at a friend’s house, put the rest of our things in storage, and now were on our way! Now were in New York City! Its great to be here. We’ve been walking around enjoying the great weather. Today we met Sue Sanford, our mentor who traveled around the world with her kids and has given us a lot of great travel advice. We also went to the Art Students League of New York and saw all the studios where artists paint and sketch and create art. It was really inspiring. We are staying here until Sunday night, when we fly to Berlin. We’re really excited to get started on our trip! Keep looking for our blogs on Twelveintwelve.org and Globalteenblogger.com!
Jackson’s First Post

Jackson’s First Post

Mar 31

Hey this is Jackson Lewis and I’m really excited to start my first blog. In July, my dad, brother, and I are going on a trip called Twelve in Twelve. We are going to twelve countries, staying in each country a month and doing humanitarian work in each country. We can’t wait to get started. We will be going to Russia, India, China, Cambodia, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Australia, South Georgia Island, Paraguay, Peru, and finishing our trip in Haiti. And when we’re done, we will live in Mississippi for a month to document the need in our own country. I’m really glad that we have the opportunity to go on this trip. We will be doing a documentary and weekly video and written blogs. We have fundraisers coming up to support our trip including a 12k race at the US National Whitewater Center. Signup information is on our website. To prepare for the trip we have started to get all of our shots and innoculations. We are also trying to get as many people as we can to follow us and come to our fundraisers. We leave July 1st and we’re all really excited. So join the journey and look for our blogs.