Star Date 2556. No I am not a Star Trek fanatic; that is the year in Cambodia. Our year started on April 15th on the moment that the new moon was complete. The year is based on a calendar linked to the date of the death of Siddhartha Gautama, or Buddha. They follow a lunar calendar so, holy Buddhist days are linked to the phases of the moon every 15 days. However, in the ever-increasing modern Cambodia most people are using the Christian calendar (i.e. 2013) which is based on Pope’s Gregory who tried to date the Birth of Jesus more correctly in 1582, it followed a correction of a calendar established in AD 325. (Note: AD refers to Anno Domini which is Latin for “In the Year of Our Lord” which is followed by the date, i.e. AD 2013. AD is correctly written in front of the year, not behind. BC, however, is derived from English, not Latin and means “Before Christ”, meaning before the birth of Jesus, thus it is written after the year, i.e. 962 BC.)
So, last week I was visiting Ethiopia. In previous years I had trouble with my wife because her visa for Ethiopia was marked “valid in 2003”, however, we were issued the visa and traveled in 2011. Then I discovered that Ethiopia has a completely different calendar. Ethiopia follows what is called the Julian Calendar which is also based on the birth of Jesus, however, is more accurate. The reason why the church switched to the Gregorian calendar was the fluctuation in the annual celebration of Easter, however, the date of Jesus’ birth is likely closer to the Ethiopian calendar. It was also a point of competition between Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Catholic) Christian leaders. Therefore, right now it is the year 2005 in Ethiopia!
Flying from Cambodia, via Dubai to Ethiopia causes extreme jet lag. I leave Cambodia in the year 2556 and land in Dubai some 543 years earlier! That is quite a confusing 6 hour flight! When then after a brief transit in Dubai, I fly another 4 hours and end up 7 years back farther, landing in 2005. If that wasn’t enough, Ethiopia has 13 months, not 12 as in most countries. 12 of the months are evenly spaced at 30 days each, however, the 13th month has either 5 or 6 days depending on leap year or not. I was so confused by the year I never even knew which month I was in. And if you thought I could possible make my travel even more confusing, Ethiopia is one of the few countries in the world which does not subscribe to the GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) for world time-zones in which the entire world is divided into 24 time zones of approximately 15 degrees each. Though Ethiopia lies in the time-zone GMT+3, it has its own time. The time is based on the sunrise. Therefore, about 6:00am at GMT+3 time the sun rises and in Ethiopia time becomes 1:00am. Noon by GMT is actually 6:00am while sunset around 6:00pm is actually noon in their time. Midnight doesn’t come until 5:00am!
Well, after a week teaching in 2005 I am headed back to 2557. It didn’t take that long at maximum warp speed. Within 12 hours I had reached 2557 at GMT+7.
Fortunately, I didn’t take time to visit my friends in Nepal. They just celebrated the New Year last month and welcomed the year 2070! I have no idea who’s death or birth that is based on. Rumor is it is based on one King’s victory over another King 2070 years ago. And just to be unique, they chose to also modify the GMT time zone where they are geographically located. Neighboring India, chose to be different from their political and religious rival’s Pakistan and Bangladesh which were all in GMT+5 and +6 respectively, so they adjusted their time zone by 30 minutes to not be linked to their rival’s times. Nepal, which sits directly north of India should be in the same time zone, but wanted to be unique as well, therefore adjusted their time by an additional 15 minutes. So Nepal’s time zone is a unique GMT+5 plus an additional 45 minutes. Therefore Pakistan is at GMT+5, India at GMT 5:30, Nepal at GMT 5:45 and Bangladesh at GMT+6:00 though they are geographically in the same area.
Whew, you see why jet lag is such a problem when traveling. I think I am going to get some sleep then try to figure out what year I am in. Good night. . . or day. . . or. . . never mind. I have jet lag!