Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
25-year-old Lao woman from near the capital Vientiane was trafficked to central China’s Hunan Province in late 2018 and sold to a Chinese man for $20,000. She issued an appeal through social media for help getting home and gave an interview to RFA’s Lao Service on April 30, describing how she was misled by traffickers, including a relative, to expect a relatively high-paying job in China, taken across the Lao-China border illegally, married off to a Chinese man who bought her, and then left to fend for herself without proper travel documents. On the same day that RFA spoke to the woman, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her and her family from traffickers, twelve young Lao women, including two that authorities believe were under the age of 18, were rescued from a karaoke bar in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat. The woman stranded in Hunan is among 3,000 Laotians known to have been trafficked to China in recent years according to the Lao National Anti-Human Trafficking Commission, which said last October that only 600 of those women have returned home.
RFA: How did you end up in China?
A: They, the traffickers, lied to me. I came here without any documents. I don’t have ID and I don’t have a passport. They drove me to somewhere near the Boten border gate, then took me across a mountain border.
RFA: So, you crossed the border illegally?
A: Yes, they illegally took me across a mountain, not through the border check point.
RFA: Why did you go with them? What did they say to you?
A: They said they’ll take me here to work. It’s easy; I can go home anytime. If I want to go home, they’ll take me home. I believed them. But once they sold me to a Chinese man who later became my husband, I couldn’t contact them anymore. I didn’t receive any money. I can’t go home because I have nothing in the way of documents.
RFA: Did you report this to Lao police?
A: My family is too afraid to contact police because they (the traffickers) are now in Laos.
RFA: Who are the traffickers?
A: One of them is a Lao woman who told me that she had relatives in China, and said that work in China was not heavy. I thought I’d make a lot of money, then send it to my mother.
RFA: Did they the traffickers talk to your family first?
A: Yes, they talked to my mother. Actually, one of the traffickers is my relative.
RFA: Is your relative a middle-man or -woman?
A: Yes, she is actually the ‘small wife’ (misstress) of a Chinese man who brought me here to China.
RFA: What happened to you in China?
A: They sold me to a Chinese man who wanted to have a Lao wife.
RFA: How does your husband treat you?
A: We lived together as a normal couple, and sometimes I’d go to work. But later, when I wanted to go back home, I couldn’t and I could not contact those front men at all.
RFA: Why can’t you go home?
A: Because I don’t have any documents. That’s why I’m asking for help from an organization called ‘Sisters for Laotians’.
RFA: Are there any other victims like you in China?
A: Three of us came together. One of us, who is my cousin, was able to escape last month, and now she is already in Laos. The other woman is also trying to escape as well. There are many other Laotians around here. Most of them are illegal. Some have passports, but the passports are expired, so they became illegal now.
RFA: How do you communicate with your husband?
A: I don’t speak Chinese, so, we use a telephone (app) to translate.
RFA: Do you personally know the traffickers?
A: Yes, I know them, but I can’t contact them now.
RFA: What are you going to do once you get home?
A: I’m going to report to the police that the traffickers promised me that I’ll get a salary of more than 1,000 Yuan ($150) a month. I now get nothing.
RFA: How much were you sold for?
A: For 130,000 yuan ($20,000), but some others may fetch 150,000 Yuan. I received no money, and I don’t have any money to send to my mother. My relative at home has asked for money from the traffickers many times; but they keep saying “next month; next month.”
RFA: Why didn’t you report this to Chinese police?
A: The police would send me back to my husband. That’s why I’m requesting help from Lao authorities and hoping they can get me home safely. (RFA)
Along with the undeniable natural beauty, the Kashmir valley has developed a reputation for adventurous activities like trekking, hiking, and river rafting. Kashmir has maintained its charm, allowing us to time-travel into beautiful destinations which make one forget about the stress and worries of life. The hikes in Kashmir offer adventurers to go on a self-discovery trip through nature's lap over the mountains while taking in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds them on their journey. In addition to the hikes, there are many thrilling adventure activities, like rock climbing, rope climbing, etc. Trekking across the region of mountains and lakes will allow you to experience living in the "Paradise on Earth," and you wouldn't want to return to your regular life after that.
The following are some of the finest hiking destinations in Kashmir:
#1: Kashmir Great Lakes Trek: You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. In addition to three high-altitude passes and five river valley crossings, this is the only trip in the Himalayas that includes seven alpine lakes, each of which is a stunning shade of green, blue, or turquoise. The extravagance is limitless and breathtakingly stunning every day: infinite blue sky, a larger-than-life backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, colourful meadows overflowing with wildflowers, river crossings are just a few examples of what you will encounter during the trek.
You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. | Photo by prayer flags on Unsplash
#2: Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora Trek: The Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora trek is a one-of-a-kind experience that provides a glimpse into Kashmir's undiscovered regions. Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey that is the perfect experience for anyone looking to get away from the frantic tourist rush. This trek is a fascinating journey that allows nature enthusiasts to bask in the splendour of nature's grandeur. The trek goes over many high mountain passes, some as high as 4000 metres in elevation. The hiking route, in addition to providing breathtaking views of the magnificent Vishansar Lake, provides visitors with the chance to see more than 50 alpine lakes.
Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey. | Photo by YASER NABI MIR on Unsplash
ALSO READ: Top 10 Beautiful Sights To VIsit In Kashmir
#3: Tral-Narastan-Marsar Trek: The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. The hiking trail passes past a waving saffron field, beautiful meadows, and several streams. The path also crosses the Dachigam National Park, where there is an opportunity to see various animal species. Trekkers may take in spectacular views of the high mountains running parallel to them as they cut and pass through Narastan, a Hindu pilgrimage place.
The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. | Wikimedia Commons
#4: Chhatargul-Mahlish-Gangabal: The journey, which passes through beautiful locations such as Chattargul, Mahlish, Kolsar, and Trunkul, provides a peek into an utterly uninhabited wilderness of Kashmir. There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one trek into the alpine wilderness. Trekkers can also enjoy fishing in the crystal clear lakes, camping, or just seeing towering snow-capped mountains while on their journey.
There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one treks into the alpine wilderness. | Wikimedia Commons
#5: Kolahoi Base Camp Trek: The Kolahoi Base Camp trek in Kashmir has been famous since the early 1900s and has been a goal for many seasoned hikers from across the world. While Srinagar serves as the beginning point for the trip, it is in Aru Valley that the actual hiking begins. The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. The breathtaking sight of the peaks rising into the sky on the horizon of the Pirpanjal and Karakoram ranges is certainly worth capturing. It is considered to be one of the most popular treks in the Kashmir valley.
The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. | Wikimedia Commons
Kashmir's natural splendour, with its beautiful valleys and towering mountains, is really unlike anywhere. Trekking through various valleys and peaks while taking in the scenic beauty is something that always calms the heart and provides us with memories that we will remember for a lifetime.
Keywords: Kashmir, Lakes, Alpine, Hiking, Trekking, Treks, Sonamarg, Gangabal, Kolahoi, Chhatargul, Mahlish, Tral, Narastan, Marsar
The Pitru Paksha starts after the Full Moon day, and this day marks the beginning of the waning phase of the Lunar cycle. This event is roughly of 15-day period, and is of great significance. From this day, rituals like Tarpan or Tarpanam and Shradh are carried out to pay respects to dead relatives and ancestors.
It is believed that from the very first day till the last day, the unhappy souls of the deceased return to the Earth to see their family members. So, in order to ensure that the dead attain Moksha, i.e. to get liberation, family members of these souls quench their thirst and satisfy their hunger by performing the Pind Daan, which includes offering food consisting of cooked rice and black sesame seeds. The literal meaning of Pind Daan is the act of satisfying those who no longer exist physically.
For fifteen days, prayers are offered in temples and rituals are performed to help the souls get free from the cycle of birth, life, and death, and attain salvation.
At the same time, the Pitru Paksha is also an important period for people with Pitru Dosha, which means the curse imposed by the ancestors. Hence, in order to ask forgiveness, people perform Shradh rituals and offer food to the crows, who are considered as living beings that represent the dead. It is believed, if the crow eats the offered food, the ancestors are happy and pleased. But, if the crow doesn't eat the offered food and flies away, the ancestors are not happy.
The event of Pitru Paksha is widely observed by Hindus from all over the world, and they perform prayers and rituals in order to gain their ancestors blessings.
At the heart of Bangalore city, a large 300-acre space of lush greenery and heritage stands as a symbol of the city's past, present, and future. Cubbon Park is every child's favourite park, every Bangalorean's haven of fresh air, and altogether, the city's pride.
It stands testament to the past, in terms of the diversity of flora it houses. Bangalore traffic in the recent past has grown into a menace, but the stretch between MG Road and Cubbon Park is always a pleasurable place to stop and wait for the signal to turn green. The gust of wind that blows here, and the smell of mud, coupled with floral scents instantly transports citizens to Old Bangalore, where the weather was fine, and the trees loomed over roads with thick canopies that did not even allow rainwater to penetrate. Cubbon Park is also a historical site, and one of the few remaining monuments of colonial heritage in Central Bangalore. It houses many statues and among them, the most famous is that of Queen Victoria, which faces the St. Mark's Square.
The stretch outside Cubbon Park is cool and well-shaded from the canopy of trees over it. Image source: wikimedia commons
At present, Cubbon Park is known for the cultural hub that it is. It houses Jawahar Bal Bhavan, which is a large theatre that hosts film festivals through the year. Festivals, poetry open mics, and other such shows are conducted on the lawns every Sunday. A small stream runs through the park, where boat rides are held occasionally when the water level is high enough. There is a children's park on one corner, and a government-maintained aquarium, two-storeys tall, with exotic fish.
The Park has been renamed many times in the past. It was originally named Meade's Park, after Sir John Meade, the acting commissioner of Mysore in 1870. It was later changed to Cubbon Park after Sir Mark Cubbon, who was the longest-serving commissioner of the Mysore state. In 1927, the park was renamed after the Mysore Maharaja Sri Krishna Wodeyar, to celebrate his silver jubilee, since the park was developed during the reign of his ancestors. Even though it is officially named Sri Chamrajendra Park, it is still known as Cubbon Park all over the city. In fact, Bangalore was alluded the sobriquet of 'Garden City' because of the rich botanical diversity of this park.
Art Installation at Cubbon Park Image source: wikimedia commons
In many parts of the country, governments have renamed structures, places, and cities to remove traces of colonialism. But, in a city like Bangalore, there is too much evidence of the British rule. Many of the most prominent attractions of the city are known by their British identities despite the change in name. Even the city's name continues to be Bangalore, despite having been changed to Bengaluru. Last year, the British era and its achievements were celebrated in Cubbon Park when Sir Mark Cubbon's statue was moved from the grounds of the Karnataka High Court and placed in the Park.
Keywords: Cubbon Park, Mark Cubbon, British Colonialism, Cultural hub, Garden City