Monday, December 29, 2014
Monday, December 22, 2014
|Something about this sign makes me feel like it's there for|
my benefit.....kind of like any other random poster
I see in English!
A friend of mine from South Africa told me some interesting development stories recently. We were talking about the village we visited in Laos, and all the reasons why we should not take the experience at face value.
Perhaps our immediate doubt is a sign of professional cynicism. The village was clean, peaceful, and more vibrant than we had expected. Could this possibly be the way it really was? We of course wondered if the village leaders had been instructed to lead a major drive to collect all the trash before we arrive, deter people from buying the local rice wine the day before, and ensure that everyone wore their nicest clothes that day.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
|Off the beaten path! Where is everybody?|
I spent last week in Laos learning about rural electrification. I spent one day in a rural village to better understand some of the issues on the ground. The village’s name was Pakhao, in Vang Vieng, home to 78 households and roughly 600 people.
Typically it does not rain from October to May, but the day we went it rained relentlessly. The dirt road that wound up to the village was slick, and our pudgy van could not quite get the traction to get up the hill. It was a good reminder of what it means to live in a hard-to-reach area—communication is not something taken for granted. I hopped in an SUV for the last leg; some of the others in my group had to settle for the back of a pickup truck and umbrellas to block the rain.
Monday, December 8, 2014
|This is what a development expert looks like|
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
|Do tip jars still exist in San Francicso? Bet it's easier to get|
tips in cash-based economies like Kathmandu and Dhaka
(photo from Cafe Kora, Kathmandu).
And Americans have it good this way--our cards are accepted almost everywhere. I should know, I hopped off the plane in Hong Kong, walked up to an ATM, and walked out with a wallet full of Hong Kong dollars. I bought a boatload (literally) of champagne and other drinks in Chiang Mai at a grocery store, simply by swiping my visa. The hotel where I'm staying this week asked for a deposit, and I handed them my card again. Easy as pie.
The Bangladesh government historically has had very strict rules on Bangladeshis taking money abroad, only recently beginning to allow small amounts of international credit card usage (for most people, the annual spending limit internationally is $5,000 and per online transaction it's $100, up to 1,000 annually). Baby steps. Online credit card payments WITHIN Bangladesh were only approved in 2009.