(877)454-3672

Contact

Search Tours

Southeast Asia weather weirdness

Southeast Asia is experiencing a bout of unexpected weather at the moment which is entirely uncommon at this time of year. From Cambodia experiencing rain and significantly cooler weather, to Hue and Hoi An in Vietnam who are seeing both heavy rains and flooding, this strange weather phenomenon is taking its toll on what should be a warmer and dryer season for both countries.

2016 has seen a series of strange weather occurrences in the region. The year began with the longest drought in decades spreading from Thailand to Myanmar and through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos which destroyed crops and resulted in lower than anticipated rice exports for the year. April, 2016 was recorded as the hottest April ever, setting new temperature records for a number of countries in the region. This weather extreme has been followed by another strange occurrence later in the year with the end of the rainy season, typically occurring in early November, continuing throughout December bringing with it much cooler temperatures leading into the region’s high season for tourism.

This week we have experienced extreme flash flooding in Central Vietnam with sudden discharges from hydropower reservoirs due to excessive rains in order to avoid long term damage to hydropower stations in the area. The rains continue in the region and we are seeing weather warnings not only for flash flooding in low lying areas of Central Vietnam, but landslides in the mountains and riverbeds breaking. With these extreme weather warnings come safety warnings for local residents who are likely to be affected by the floods. In many Western countries, the main safety issues are concerned with hygiene and property damage in areas affected by flood waters, but in Vietnam these safety concerns are extended to the majority of the population who are unable to swim.

Recent statistics tell us that 16 people drown every day in Vietnam, half of which are children, a figure which has shown a positive decline in the last 5 years. This is a well-recognized problem in Vietnam and the reason that we have chosen to work closely with local NGO, Swim Vietnam, to tackle the issue. To date, Swim Vietnam has taught over 9,500 children to swim in Vietnam and are adding approximately another 5,000 children to this list every year. Looking sustainably at the project, in addition to children taught to swim, the organization has now educated 150 Vietnamese people as swimming teachers to widen the reach of swimming education. Water safety is the central point of focus for this incredible organization who also provide water safety training to 10-20,000 students per year in classrooms around the country.

As the flood waters from the most recent weather event begin to subside, we at Journeys Within like to keep our focus on the long term and working on ways that we can, together with our guests, affect a positive change in the countries we visit. For more information on Swim Vietnam you can visit their website at www.swimvietnam.com. If you would like to include a visit with this highly commendable organization during your next trip to Vietnam, speak with one of our Tour Consultants on the ways you can work with us to give back to this and other wonderful organizations like this during your vacation.

How to help victims of Myanmar flooding

Journeys Within Myanmar Country Director Dar Le Khin helping organize relief supplies for flooding victims in Myanmar.
Journeys Within Myanmar Country Director Dar Le Khin helping organize relief supplies for flooding victims in Myanmar.

While monsoon rains flood portions of Myanmar every year, this year’s heavy monsoon season paired with the added rain caused by Cyclone Komen has been particularly devastating to vast tracts of the country. The areas around the state of Rakhine and Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River Delta are especially hard hit, and leaders of the country are calling for massive relocations and international aid to help victims of the flooding.

Here at Journeys Within, we’ve been monitoring the floods through our Country Director Dar Le Khin, who has been helping organize relief efforts in conjunction with Flood Aids Organization – a relief group comprised of travel industry professionals in the country.

We are also setting up a way for Journeys Within travelers and alumni to donate through Journeys Within Our Community, which will then funnel the dollars to organizations within Myanmar that are providing direct aid to flood victims.

Click here for JWOC’s Donate Now campaign to raise dollars for flooding victims.

 Media coverage:

Update from Dar Le (from Aug. 11, 2015):

Dear friends,

Our volunteer group, “Extend Your Helping Hands For The Flood Victims,” (composed of volunteer public-spirited members of our tourism community) is currently helping the victims of the recent catastrophic floods and associated landslides in various areas of our motherland. This unprecedented catastrophe had destroyed the lives and livelihoods of millions of Burmese people, especially rural folks and disadvantaged people. Extend Your Helping Hands is requesting our friends, both overseas and in-country, provide donations to continue the assistance to these unfortunate victims as they rebuild their lives.

With Metta,

Dar Le

The group named “Extend Your Helping Hands for The Flood Victims” was founded on 29th July, 2015 by a group of tourism professionals in order to provide help to the flooding victims of Myanmar. A three-day campaign collected donations at some crowded areas in Yangon, and has since captured the public’s awareness on the need to provide a hand to the victims along with respect for the group’s activities. This enabled the group to have sufficient funds to perform the emergency relief in the flooded areas of three different states which were all declared as being in a “state of emergency.”

The 1st relief team set off on 3rd August to Sidoktaya village as a base in Magwe division where the villages were flooded by the Mon Creek which passes through Natmataung (Mt. Victoria) National park of Chin State. The overflowing water of Mon creek has receded, but not before swallowing the thousands of acres of crops and filling houses with mud. The relief team, lead by Min Than Htut (MD of Pro Niti Travel), has traveled as far as to the Pan-Chet Village (about 2 hours boat ride from Sidoktaya). Along the way, they witnessed the full scale of the disaster as all they could see was only the tip of palm trees poking out of the water. The team brought hope for the villagers and helped a total of 418 households with about 2,000 peoples at 5 villages along the side of Mon Dyke.

The 2nd relief team headed to Kale on the 5th August led by Bo Bo Kyaw (GM of Uniteam Travel) making their first night stop at Kale collecting data to be effective with their emergency relief efforts. With the help of volunteers, the team has reached the Aung-Myin-Thar village with emergency relief such as rice, kitchen wares, candles, lighters and detergents. It’s hard to express in words the sorrow in the eyes of villagers as their livelihoods have been destroyed and they’ve been physiologically stressed. Thanks to Bo Bo’s experiences with disaster management, he has brought letters to them and read to them of the care and love by the whole nations for the victims. In sum, the Kale team has helped a total of 653 households (about 2,500 people).

While the rescues teams were distributing emergency relief supplies to the victims, the volunteer team in Yangon has put more efforts in raising funds for the second phase of the recovery process focusing mainly on health and education.

Update from Dar Le (from August 6, 2015):

I am involved as a committee member in a group comprised of travel industry professionals which is collecting donations for flooding victims. So far we have been able to collect about 140,000,000 Kyats (about $166,666 USD). Two-thirds of the funds have been used in supplying aid to three locations (1) Minpyar at Arkan state (flooding caused by Cyclone Komen), (2) Pwin Pyu township in Magwe (flood caused by overflow of a few dams) and (3) Kalay in northern Sagaing (flood caused by Chindwin River).

Aid teams already left this morning in Yangon and we are waiting for updates on the situation. We are now discussing for aftermath focusing on: (a) Rebuilding toilet facilities in those flooded areas. (b) Clean water access, such as drilling tube well/ water ponds. (c) Cleaning/sanitizing public school/clinic facilities and reinforcing them with amenities (children should be able to go to school after all).

So, if there is something you can help us on those issues, we would be very appreciative. As we have seen that people in Myanmar are very active with providing supplies and aid now, but are not as aware of how important the aftermath and rebuilding efforts will be as well.

MyanmarFlooding_DarLeSign MyanmarFlooding_ReliefOrganization MyanmarFlooding_UnloadingSupplies

Flood update — JWOC delivers much needed relief

Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC) has been working to deliver much needed relief to Tropeang Ses and Veal Villages.

IMG_1291

On Saturday October 12, the JWOC staff worked together to put health and hygiene packs together ready for distribution by the Clean Water and Community Liaison and Assistance (CL&A) teams on Sunday.  Each pack contains 3 bars of soap, 2 10ml iodine bottles and 8 clear water tablets.

IMG_4916
Community Liaison and Assistance manager Konthea, Bunroeun and Vantha assemble clean water packages for delivery.

The next day, the teams distributed 285 hygiene packs to as many families.  106 hygiene packs were distributed by our teams in Tropeang Ses and 179 in Veal, both nearby squatter villages where many of the JWOC school students come from.

SAM_6371
A scholarship student explains how to use the clean water packages in Tropeang Ses village.
IMG_1297
Health and needs assessment is conducted to determine the needs of each individual village.

The heavy rains have stopped for now and the flooding is going down.  However,  the drainage around Tropeang Ses village is still blocked and the  area is still severely flooded, with water levels above the knee as there is nowhere for the water to drain to.

IMG_4939
A mother accepts a hygiene package.

On Saturday October 19, the CL&A team distributed hygiene packs to 36 families in this block and will continue working with them as they are at high risk still of water-related and mosquito-borne diseases. 

IMG_4947
Volunteer students were a key part of getting the emergency services to the people in the villages.
IMG_1324
A local woman listens to instructions on how to use the clean water tablets to keep from contracting water-borne diseases and how the iodine can be used to clean cuts to prevent infection.

JWOC is thankful for the support of all donors who helped to make it possible to provide this much-needed immediate relief.