Vera Marie Badertscher has started a blog, “A Traveler’s Library,” which talks about books that inform and enrich travel. “I talk occasionally about movies, as well.” Check out http://atravelerslibrary.com and leave a comment or suggest a book or movie. Come back often.
Taken from the WRITE WORD, the newsletter of The Society of Southwestern Authors Vol. 37, No. 1 Feb-March 2009
As we traveled throughout Asia, we were shown hospitality almost every day; and we never paid or asked for it. We were invited into homes and treated royally, in both cities and rural areas. The children appeared first; as they saw us coming, they came running. There was no way we could turn them down. Often someone who spoke a little English took charge of us, and that was that; we weren’t given a choice. We could never use the tent we bought; camping simply wasn’t something people understood. But no one had to explain or translate for us the welcome we got, even when children out of curiosity threw pebbles at us. So our appreciation of humanity grew, became real, with all of the generosity extended to us every day.
We were given letters of introduction and in Malaysia sent from Methodist church to Methodist church (in Thailand from hospital to hospital of the Seventh Day Adventists). When we received that first invitation from a minister in Ipor, we had no idea how huge Methodist churches were in Malaysia. We knew nothing about the history of Methodism there. Many years ago when rubber plantation owners were looking for workers, they went to China and rounded up Christians, who happened to have been Methodist; so in much the same way, we were picked up and from Ipor to the island of Penang given room and board. That wasn’t all that was given to us.
In almost every corner of this world of friendship, where we were given rice with our meals and a mat or a bed for our sleep, there was always something and someone new…from Catholic priests to shamans. There were the Portuguese of Malacca or the Dutch of Bengkulu, neither one the majority. There were the headmen; there were the women winnows. One of them exchanged a sarong for a blouse she liked; I remember her bathing with Peg in a river. There was Djakarta, where we stayed with a family we met on a bus, stayed with them the whole time we were arranging for a cheap flight out of their country, and where we had to make up our minds about where we were going and get the proper visas. There were the Buddhist, not all of them Thai, and the Muslims and the Hindus, not to mention Christians like us. And more exotic than these, were the Parsees and Sikhs: the Parsees, who instead of burying their dead allow birds to carry the dead away, and Sikhs, who are the trusted guards of palaces and banks. All of this was a kind of education we never would have had had we stayed home.