Archive for the ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ Category

Drink, Dive, Dance 2: Alessia

August 6, 2017

The strange thing with me and diving is that I never experienced any anxiety at any stage of the diving experience, even when I was just a beginner. During my travels, I noticed that I have a natural affinity with anything water related.

The beginners nervously threw a glance my way from time to time, double checking to see if they are checking their own equipments properly. The new ones never just ask, somehow fearing that we’ll look down on them. They also, always ask how much air is left in the other diver’s oxygen tank.

If diving is meditation, then prepping the equipment is like the ritual you go through to get into the flow state before entering meditation. I enjoyed every bit of the the process as it is my own life and I am the sole person responsible for its outcome,  whether I fuck up or not.

Breath in, breath out, left hand at the back of the head, right hand on the BCD and lean back. One by one, we flopped backward into the water into the famously cold arctic water of West Coast Canada. My world blacks out as I instinctively closes my eyes. For some reason, I can never keep my eyes open when entering the water. Probably a reflex from the shock of suddenly being overwhelmed with cold water…

Exhausted from fighting against the famous strong current of Komodo island’s dive sites, I grab hold of the ladder as I await the others to climb up first. The dive master called the shot and we made the emergency ascent after only 40 minutes as the others are now too exhausted to fight the current. It must be because of the timing of everything together, but when I looked up into the boat, Alessia stood by the railings in her red bikini and flashed her big white smile at me. I had neglect to get to know Alessia before as she is a shy girl and I spent most of the time chatting with Leilani, an advanced diver whom I’ve been traveling with for the past 2 weeks, about the beautiful dive sites around Komodo Island. However, during that moment of exhaustion and delirium, seeing that welcoming smile, was like seeing an Angel smile.

Alessia is an Italian to put it simply. Dig a deeper into her roots and you are dealing with multiple citizenship and genes. But for the most part and simplicity’s sake, she is a traditional Italian who’ve had a protected upbringing and I am the dishevelled Vagabond, free and fearless. Alessia with the little curve at the end of her lips, long and shiny curly hair, the wider jawline from her other lineage and her propensity for single minded pursuit of something once she decides she wants it in her life. All of these combined made her a refreshing breeze for the me at that moment.

The trip around the nearby village with flat and dusty, nothing exciting, but we had each others company, the sun and the ocean whenever we got too sweaty. I would often tease her about her binary conflicting internal struggle. That of her clear desire for jumping me and her traditional upbringing of being a good girl before marriage.

Besides diving, sun tanning and making out after beer with Alessia, there wasn’t much to do at Labuan bajo. Leilani and I already went to the Komodo islands on our way east towards Labuan bajo, so there’s really no interest in taking that trip again and beside that and the diving town of Labuan bajo, there isn’t much else to do. So like that, we spent three day at this little unknown tropical paradise until Alessia had to leave to travel with her father. It was supposed to be their bonding trip.

Nothing further happened between us in those three nights. We’d always come back to find Leilani going at it with some guy she picked up from “Paradise” (if you go to Labuan Bajo, you will know this place) and a sock on the door knob. Besides, Alessia is still mentally panicking about the whole issue. I was in a good mental place at this stage of my journey so I didn’t push any further. Then, two more days later, after saying goodbye to the other vagabonds I met on the way, it was my turn to step onto the propeller plane back to Bali. You know you are in a very remote place, when the planes are small, propeller based and your luggage cannot be heavier than 10kg. It really brings about the feeling that you are on an adventure and along with it, all the things that make your heart skip a beat, like the huge dive your propeller just took because it couldn’t fight the strong downward air stream. I shut my eyes thinking “this might be it, I am going to die a happy man.”

And that’s how I am brought back to the current reality. The freezing cold water of the North. A different climate and a different reality. Every time I do something that I did on my long journey, I get flashbacks of a different place in a different culture. Feels like a lifetime, but happened in an instance with all the feelings compressed to a second. An explosion of nostalgia. I will meet Alessia again though, in another part of the country but I didn’t know it back then. Like all the people I’ve met on this journey, our stories continues on just as our lives continued on.

Travel anecdote: Labuan Bajo is an interesting little diving village, what surprise me is how the people I met on the way there seem to throw away their inhibitions once at this place and openly hook up without any fear of shame like in other places. Other than that, there’s really not much to do here. I would recommend every diver to go there to experience the dive sites as this place is, so far, the site with the most marine life I’ve seen.

 

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Drink, Dive, Dance 1: Prolog

July 26, 2017

Every once in a while when I close my eyes and lean back on the chair, I get catapulted back to a different time, different place to relive a small part of the journey I had. Little insignificant things will trigger the memories, It can be a familiar tune I heard while somewhere, it can be the familiar feeling while crossing the street on a red light or it can be the silence from the absolute absence of civilization. Whether the memories were good or bad, I’d stop whatever I was doing in order to cherish the once forgotten experience.

I slowly opened my eyes.

Kathmandu, deep past the chaotic Thamel. The plan was to walk until we don’t see foreigners anymore. That has always been the preferred travel style of Laurence and I; two veteran travelers who met each other while wandering around the Annapurna circuit randomly. Tagging along are three newbies we picked up along our journey to join us in the excursion into chaos.

The smell, the donkey carts, discarded food on the street and people everywhere alongside  the safety of a group of similar minded travelers who are open to experience a place instead of passing judgment. This, to me, was the height of traveling experiences.

From time to time, we’d lose sight of each from being swept away by the crowd or some over zealous barter session with a stubborn shop owner, but we’d always end up finding each other. No man left behind, was the unwitting rule between us. Not that Kathmandu during the day and smack in the middle of the local maze is any danger to any tourist, but we didn’t know that back then.

The fun lasted for the whole day until Matt, one of the tag-alongs, decided to try one of the delicacies from a street food cart. I cringed at the thought as Matt is from England, where food safety is paramount compared to Nepal. “A boy has to become a man one day” I thought. Just as one of the traveler’s rite of passage is to taste the local street food.

Needless to say, our excursion didn’t last too long after that. I closed my eyes and shook my head in laughter at the memories of Matt semi running towards the direction of Thamel where we were all staying.

When I opened my eyes again, I am back where I am. With a cup of coffee in my favorite cafe but sans Laurence.

Travel Anecdote: I didn’t write about the women I am/was with in my life out of respect for their privacy, just as I don’t write about my friends or people I live with nor visit their blog because I want the interaction to be real. But the stories of my journey cannot be complete without including the adventures I had with them. Laurence was an integral part of this part of my journey. I know will meet her again in future flash backs.

The drug gang prelude

June 11, 2016

I had just came back from my 4 years of wandering with the final part focused on meditation to increase my understanding of my own spirit. The reason why I came back has to do with a tenant who’ve been having parties weekly that always ends with the police getting called on them. This and several incidents of property damages.

Being a landlord at this time in Canada is a thankless job. You are hated by everyone and the rent doesn’t covers all the expenses. That with tenant friendly laws, I’d steer everyone away from starting down this road. One mistake in filling out a form and you are unable to get any compensations for damages.

Did I mention I just came back from a spiritual journey? Yes, I was full of hope for humanity and decided to do everything as if all parties intend to do good. So when the mother of the millenial I rented the unit to stepped forward to do the negotiation, I agreed to drop the charges for repairs and just have them move out. Little did I know that the little girl would renege on the agreement and go for the nuclear option.

So between the two months when I served them and them moving out. There were more parties and drama about witholding rent. Lots of accusations including “ant infestation” because taking 2 weeks is too long to wipe out the ants…

Then after they moved out, I got served to appear in court because they did not received their deposit back… 1 months later I received the returned mail because they gave me the wrong address. I thought that was the end of it after I got their consent to drop the case, little did I know how many shitty maneuvers you can pull. By not cancelling the court date, I was forced to still appear with all my evidence prepared, transcribed and witnessed (because if you do not appear, default judgement goes to them). An ordeal that took both time and money.

This brush against the law gave me an insight on how we got to where we are today in Canada. I learned that, any oral agreement is not useful in court even with recordings that both party consented. Text messages does not work that well either. Oral agreements can be recanted later by simply stating that they changed their mind. The burden of proof is on the more honest party and when you have nothing to lose. The law cannot touch you as the end result of most civil lawsuits are monetary compensations that cannot be collected. People can lie without consequences and the consequences does not translate to punishments that hurt.

If anything that should turn me off from being a landlord, that should’ve been it… Did I say that I just came back from a spiritual journey and is filled to the brim with love and goodwill towards mankind? This was my emotional state that explains what I decided to do next and caused me to completely lose faith in people and turning more and more to the darker side.