Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Wasted potential

August 7, 2016

Sometimes, I pass by these beggars on the street who looks absolutely stunning. As a guy, all I can do is feeling resignation towards these people. How can they waste so much potential and end up on the street.

A good looking face opens the door to many possibilities. It means that, as a man, these guys have wasted away countless opportunities that have opened up to them in the years that have passed. Opportunities that were thrown upon them instead of having to fight and struggle to get a foot in the door.

I always wondered how it happened. Was it a sense of pride that led them to reject these opportunities? Was it general incompetence from having life too easy for them as children?

I’ve never been able to get a yes in anything just by asking in my life. I am assuming that this is what high status and good looks gets people. So there’s always some element of maneuvering that I need to apply when I am eventually met with a no at first. Persuading people without using intimidation, anger or seduction is an art worth studying, but its general benefit in my life is very minimal. Persuasion and persistence only pays off when done early in life. When that 20% off an annual utility payment or 80% off an area rug when Eaton goes bankrupt can snowball into something big 30 years down the line.

But when you reach my age. The skills that nets you discounts are no longer worth it due to time constraints. The next phase of life requires skills that multiplies any spending by 100% or 200%.

“What are these skills?” is what is currently on my mind as I get ready to travel again.

Around the world: Sarajevo

November 18, 2014

IMG_5330

If only people here don’t smoke indoors, I’d stay here for a bit and work on my ideas

IMG_5326

IMG_5289

IMG_5298

 

Sarajevo didn’t strike me as anything special when I first got here. In fact, I had my defenses up to full because this city has a heavy muslim presence. Add the usual stereotype of slaves and I have my reasons to be careful. On top of that, the only train from Zagreb took 9 hours so I landed at night.

The first night I spent in a shitty hostel called Ljubicica. It’s your usual hole in the wall backpacker’s lodging. I found bed bug nests and got moved to an apartment by myself. For €5 a night, I will pit up with it, but I having landed in bed bug infested hostels 3 times in a row, I decided to get out of there as soon as morning came. Yes, I’ve become an expert at eliminating bed bugs on the go, but constantly having to wash and isolate everything is taking its toll and too much time from me.

So I moved to “Hostel for me” based on the recommendation of a backpacker in Zagreb. Bosnians, I find, are extremely friendly. It is on he same level of Taiwanese and Vietnamese friendly, but a bit less.

Sarajevo has a way of growing on you the longer you stay. Like Rishikesh, many tales of travelers who originally planned for 3 days and ended up staying for a month. (except Rishikesh measures time by years). It’s a small town in a valley with a nice view. Islam is present but not aggressively oppressive. Multiple religions co-mingle peacefully. The view on the mountains caught my breathe.

For Bosnians, I must be a rare animal. I’ve had 3 people wanting pictures of me since I got here. This must be what the whites felt like in asia.

Like the rest of Europe, tourists don’t pay a different price and like the rest of Europe, people smokes a lot. Indoors, outdoors, in restaurants. As a non smoker, this is the reason why I am not settling down to work on my projects here.

The hostess gave me a very clear view of her boobs several times while bending down to clean. She was wearing very revealing strapless tops and a bra that’s too big for her. I always wondered if woman do this intentionally. In any case, after misinterpreting woman’s interest 3 times on this trip, I just let it go at that. A good memory.

There is a Korean guy who is traveling and supporting himself through trading like me. We had some good times through limited english exchanges. He told me that Russians are really pretty… and Lithuanians. Funny how most asians have a thing for Russian girls, while I have no interest in them because of my dancesport experience. He did resolve a question i’ve had for a while though. For a long time I suspected that Russian woman have a racial predisposition to look at asian as ugly. He said he experienced the same thing and that the most likely reason is because most asians in Russia are illegal immigrants from poor western China.

Around the world: Berlin

September 8, 2014

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the world.

IMG_4182a

It was pure grit that welcomed me when I landed in Berlin. The dark part of this city, unlike in the other European cities, is shown without any façade to hide them.

In most cities, the gritty part of town is usually cordoned off to just one street. The red light district or some other name for it. I tend to land straight in the middle of those as my travelling style coincides with the underbellies of society. Besides, the best way to understand a city is to understand the sins that people participate in. Berlin’s underbelly represent at least 50% of the city.

IMG_4175

IMG_4181

IMG_4184

IMG_4185

IMG_4192

IMG_4275

IMG_4244

IMG_4249

IMG_4243

IMG_4241

 

IMG_4248

IMG_4233

IMG_4235

IMG_4272

IMG_4245

IMG_4240

 Tourism

It looks like Berlin is fixing up its old part of time in order to promote tourism. When I was there, the cranes basically covered the skyline. People living in the hostel are mostly migrant workers. Russians, blacks and eastern Europeans. The tourists are mostly from Mexico and the latin countries as well as Australians and French. The majority are from Germans themselves though.

The place I stayed at, is straight in the heart of sin. Druggies and alcoholics. Broken bottles and bottle caps litter the roads because it is ok to carry alcohol in broad daylight. But open drunkenness seem to be a pervasive problem here.

What Berlin is not though is boring. On a cursory scan on places to dance, Berlin have all sorts of dance every night. After midnight, there are all sorts of street artists playing music everywhere. Impromptu rap battles, minstrels guitarists. There’s a bit of fun almost everywhere you go.

Business

I don’t know what is the main form of business. Berlin seems to have a good diversity where no one sector trumps everyone else.

Stories

The rule of percentages holds true everywhere. He top 1% is still going to be the top 1%. One enters from the bottom means someone gets kicked out. Just the same for the bottom 1%. The only thing we can ensure is that the disparity in lifestyle between the top and the bottom is not as high. But what is a high disparity? No matter how much you give certain people, they will always pawn it all away for drug and alcohol.

While I was in the US, I coached a Mexican I live with through getting his first job, but it ended up a disaster when his drug test came back positive for Marijuana. It sucked for him, but it also disenfranchised me from helping people. Now I am more selective. This just to say, not everyone can be saved and determining who can is a new skill I am practicing that I didn’t know I needed.

In Europe, the bottom 1% still exists. Just because it is Europe doesn’t mean it can escape. Except the bottom 1% are filled by white Caucasians, whereas in America, these people are usually immigrants or colored people. Imaging my surprise when he person mopping the McDonald’s floor is a very pretty white girl. But I guess being a pretty exotic European in Europe is probably just a norm. Remove the exotic part and everyone still obey the same social conventions.

I’ve been speaking German with people. Wonder what I sound like to them with all the accents of different countries. But the experience reminded me a lot of what happened when I first moved to Canada. Because of the language barrier, I was forced to act in certain ways. My brain also took over and filled in the gap on a lot of the words. So I started assuming a lot of he things. These behaviors, are behaviors I didn’t like about myself. I wonder if all immigrants go through the same personality.

The question for me is then: “Do I want to start over from scratch?”

I remember saying that I get more racist the more I travel. That was about 2 months into my travel. After that I get into this I don’t care mood whenever debates with prejudice started. Then there’s now. I accept the racism and stereotypes that exist, but I have realized one very important thing. A lot of times, I was able to achieve what I was able to achieve because I was ignorant of the social norm and stereotypes surrounding a subject. So the lesson I learned from all these is that intention and action trumps all.

IMG_4194

IMG_4196

IMG_4198

IMG_4216

IMG_4199

IMG_4204

IMG_4206

IMG_4209

IMG_4261

IMG_4213

IMG_4222IMG_4274

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the world.

 

name

A page from the real journal

August 28, 2014

Pariston is back. My enthusiastic CEO personality. I should probably stop referring it as Pariston since it is me. But I notice its absence greatly when I was sick. And then there’s the me writing this.

What is messed up is that I wanted Pariston to take over. Or I mean the life that Pariston character can promise. Where not one individuals in life will ever matter too much as to hurt me. Where everything is fine because I am just trying to parlay everyone into the goal I set.

There’s the journal I write here and then there’s my real paperback journal. Nothing beats the feeling of pen on paper on a train ride at night in the middle of nowhere. Deranged, sleep deprived and a little hazy on penmanship.

But its these words that I read when I go back in time to find out what happened where. These thoughts from my true self that is very different from the facade and too weird for the Normal society. If i wear my true self, I’d be a crazy man. I know because I once did.

And for some reason, the only time I manages to write with such clarity of self, is when I am in this condition. Maybe, I am traveling to meet myself over and over again in short bursts of seconds from he reflections in the window.

Around the world: London

August 17, 2014

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the worldIMG_3828 IMG_3798

IMG_3815

 

There’s culture, culture everywhere. Every street looks like the tourist part of an american city.

 

I should write something more recent so it feels less like a chore to chronicle my experiences. London has been awesome. Certain different in its architecture, but it was the difference in people that stood out. Subtle differences to Americans in their behavior. From my observation, Europeans value education the way we Americans value wealth and it seems a lot harder to get a university degrees than in America. Canadians are blessed with the “raw” nature. By inference, I believe our personalities are more “raw” as well due to the environmental impact. Some find this raw intention charming, some feels unrefined, but I don’t think there is a clear favor on which direction people lean towards. The other observation I’ve made is that there are a lot of Britons with a broken smile. Something about being poor in a very rich city. Always failing to hit the jack pot and unable to say: “For me, this is enough.” But isn’t that kind of ambition the exact sentiment necessary to achieve great things?

IMG_3793 IMG_3819 IMG_3831 IMG_3806 IMG_3794

Stories

It occurred to me that I’ve met Dutch people 3 times before and that this is the 4th time I’ve bumped into them. They were there first to welcome me to Morocco,  then they accompanied us in our Fremen journey and finally I witnessed “The slaughter” with the Dutch in Tana Toraja. Jesse and Luca educated me on the fact that Holland = Netherland = Amsterdam = Dutch and not “Deutch” like the Germans calls themselves. In all of my encounters with them, I remembered them as the most fun loving people to be around. Though, sometimes their frugal ways rivalling  the Polish really gets on my nerves because I just wants thing to move forward instead of “haggle or die”. In any case they’ve made enough impression on me that I believe I will need to visit Amsterdam to see if it is the city I want to eventually settle down in. But look what silliness I managed to persuade them to do for me. Fear my iron tongue of thousand bullshits

 

One of the big differences I’ve finally grasped is that Europeans gets offended when you say they look young whereas for Americans, we get offended when we are told we are older. So, complimenting the age of American woman, people usually tend to subtract a few years as a small white lie to make them feel good. Now with Europeans,  they get offended. It explains why that Lithuanian girl in Thailand got offended. So I probed the dutch girls further and understood that it is a fine balancing art, as saying someone looks 30 is probably insulting. They want to be intelligent, but not old.

So I’ve been asking people how old they think I am and keeping track: Briton 27, Mexican 22, Indian 21, Lithuanian 23, Dutch 27 28.  Most Europeans guess my age + 2 and most Americans will guess my age – 2 to be polite. But you see the problem here? None of them are remotely close, which really opened my eyes to something about me. Suddenly, it all made sense. I look like a student fresh out of school. This is important because if I can understand what first impression I am making, it is easier to manage the conversation and steer it. Now I know that I will need to set my age first thing during a business meeting, otherwise no one will take me seriously.

Anyway, there we were, sitting at the dining room playing card and these two drunk “lifer” backpackers tried to pick up the dutch girls twice. Once by just screaming “sex sex sex” the other time by pretending to be another traveler and asking where they were from.

Luca ended up saving the day by telling them to go away, I was in a dark place with my fist clenched looking directly at them, simulating paths of attack. I didn’t realize that I had entered fight mode… which happened way too often after I got more cocky in my martial arts skills. Just a few years ago, I would’ve been scared shitless. These random encounters where there are no time to think are showing me the side of me that I cannot see for myself and I am happy of who I am becoming.

Here’s a funny pic I drew of the encounter.

london

How to get there

Fly into Europe in the cheapest way you can find. Once you are in, train, boat, cheap airlines abound. I have yet to figure out what is the cheapest way because there are so many offerings and all of them are insanely priced in my current sticker shocked state.

Tourists

Surprisingly, there are French tourists everywhere and I thought that the French hated the English. Not many Germans, considering the fact that they are everywhere else in the world. Then in Hyde park, it feels like you stepped into Iraq. Lots of Mexicans. The worst tourists are still the French, but that’s probably because I can understand them and they didn’t think I can speak French. It’d probably be like me complaining about others in Mandarin to my friends and being called out by a French tourist. There was a woman that these French calls “La Chinoise”, she got really famous in a bad sense during our stay there. Complaining about the noise, odor, the food and o-too-hot shower temperature (she and a German teenager both). I know where she came from with her complaints as the Chinese are new to what backpacking and hostel is. The fact that a hostel costs 1/4 that of a hotel is in enough demand that they can just not take her business and have 5 others ready to take her bed doesn’t seem to sink in either. I got a brief run in with her when her room got changed to ours because she couldn’t stand the noise. Sure enough, we were having a lot of fun in the room and making a lot of noise. She came in, sat in the corner and sulked. Then she left 30 min later instead of joining us to have fun. The Chinese, just recently opened their borders and their travel culture is still in its infancy, they still have a lot to learn about travelling and there will be clashes in the future. I can only hope that their culture don’t take over the current culture or that I’ve already found the reason why I am travelling so I have already stopped when that happens.

Business

Lodon’s primary industry is probably tourism and finances. There must be millions of tourists here at any given day, each spending close to $100 a day on tourist stuff. On top of everything, transportation and food costs are insanely high. I’d wager it is about double that of America standards and quadruple that of an Asian country. Another business that seems more prominent are live theater plays. In my limit experience of the world, London is the only city where that hasn’t been replaced by movie theaters. I got the honor to watch “Anthony and Cleopatra” at Shakespeare’s globe and walk the old streets of money in front of Bank of England. Part of my pilgrimage of World wonders/ruins and money trail. IMG_3810 IMG_3813 IMG_3789 IMG_3799 IMG_3816 IMG_3837 IMG_3823 IMG_3838 IMG_3826 IMG_3829     IMG_3833 IMG_3785

 

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the world.

Around the world: Chiang Mai

May 5, 2014

 

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the worldIMG_2047

 

IMG_2077

IMG_2080

IMG_2118

IMG_2109

IMG_2113

IMG_2064

IMG_2069

IMG_2059 IMG_2058

IMG_2034

IMG_2123

IMG_2141

IMG_2137

IMG_2143

Chiang Mai was a very lonely experience for me. A testament to the fact that you need money to increase social activity and random beneficial encounters.

The place I stayed at costed only 120 baht per night. It is not designed to increase social collision. So nothing happened. I took this chance to see if people will form into groups without my help. It turns out that, no. They don’t interact with people at all without me. So all the random social encounter up until now, has been manufactured either by careful planning of the environment, or the forceful urging of a leader.

I am good at this, but I want something to happen without me willing it to happen. I want to feel wanted and swept away by chance from time to time.

Industry

 

 

Chiang Mai’s main industry is tourism and it is one of the better organized ones. It doesn’t give the controlled vibe of Europe, but everything in this town is made for tourists. Especially Chinese tourists. That said, Chiang Mai has one of the best night market I’ve seen so far. Especially its Sunday night market which intertwines with the Wats that are on the main road.

I get some sort of guilty pleasure out of knowing that the monks are whoring their temples out to street food vendors and foot massage parlors to supplement their income. Proving that even religion, is bound by the reality of money.

Manufacturing

Most of Chiang Mai’s manufacturing are still done by hand. The tools that they use to build things are confined to hand tools. Therefore no automation is involved.

Tourists

The main group of tourists are Chinese, followed by the usual European/American mix. Although I am seeing a more significant amount of Americans and French. What Tina Fey told me in Langkawi probably has a certain truth in it. Germans don’t like to go to places where there are a lot of tourists. Thailand is filled with tourists. I thought Malaysia had a lot if them, but I was wrong. In Thailand, there are western people who lives here and the amount of people who lives and work here are probably equivalent to those who are just visiting Malaysia.

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the world.

Around the world: Kuala Lumpur

April 26, 2014

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the world.

IMG_1806

IMG_1789IMG_1796

IMG_1801

IMG_1802

IMG_1809

IMG_1811

IMG_1824

IMG_1830

IMG_1844

I have probably met the highest concentration of hot Europeans in Singapore- Malaysia Hostels than I did anywhere else. Or maybe I have been travelingg for too long and anynody from the opposite sex has had their hotness factor increased by 5.

 

 

The overnight train is cold. This should be the first thing anyone mentions when discussing the inter city train in Malaysia. The tickets that has a bunk bed to allow you to sleep through the night needs to be bought a week ahead. So unless you bought those or you are on a really tight budget, I do not recommend it.

 

 

Kuala Lumpur itself is a very boring city. Lots of shopping malls and a batu cave to go visit. I was originally going to stay here for a while since it is pretty famous, but decided against that. Lots of western travelers here.Too many to count. It is very funny to see them at the China town night market haggling for stuff and taking pictures of their food and getting harassed by street vendors, while I get a completely hassle free treatment. For the first time, I understand what the locals feels like.

 

 

By the way, the China town here sells copies of brand name products and hasn’t been cracked down. I think I saw the famous Rolodex here. Will return in the future to buy.

 

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the world.

 

Around the world: Johor Bahru

April 26, 2014

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the world.

You know you are on the less travelled road, where there are no blond hair in your vicinity, nor the familiar turtle shape of a backpack.

 

 

In two days it’ll be two weeks, but I believe the traveler’s aura is already on full display, it’s just a matter of how strong it is. I’ve started to notice woman intentionally get within my vicinity as well as initiating greetings with me.

 

 

That said, I believe this aura is the result of constantly changing your environment. A sense of content at whatever you are doing or the mixture of different smells from different places concentrating on you. But I think it also has to do with the way I travel as well as I’ve met a lot of people who say they have been traveling for more than a year. I think a lot of these people have never actually traveled that long. You can tell from little missing pieces of their travels. Things that you realize isn’t true once you reached the destination of a story that they told you about. Stories from a story they heard from a traveler that passed by. These people, spend more time in the hostel than they do outside. Some are antisocial, some talks too much and some are extremely racist who will only talk with their own kind. All traits that probably should not be on a veteran traveler.

 

 

The one person that I’ve detected the aura from is a veteran traveler. From my observation, he was quiet and focuses on just one task that is currently in front of him without care of the rest of his surrounding or conversation. Yet when he speaks, tales of unique events flows out. Things that are not in the books and questions that he’d asked numerous times to the emptiness. Questions, who’s answer is a reality that you and I are all ignoring.

 

 

Yet his aloofness will disappear instantly if you do end up speaking with him. This is the results of having too many conversations with too many people from different places. A master of story telling. This is the result from too many extreme activities. Pushing the boundaries when others cower.

 

 

Then you get the imattriculately manicured european chicks who has the perfect tan and perfect makeup on. These are the high end rich travelers of the hostel world. I don’t know anything about them, I still don’t have them figured out yet.

 

 

For the southeast asia tour, there are two crowds. The Europeans who comes down from the north and the Australians who go up from the south. I’ve been meeting a lot of Australians going the same way. Starting to like these mother fuckers.

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the world.

Around the world: Langkawi

April 26, 2014

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the worldIMG_1889

IMG_1899

IMG_1883

IMG_1904

IMG_1905

IMG_1913

IMG_1910

 

A woman flashing her boobs right in front of me. Sam, the fat fuck getting raped by two beautiful Europeans. A couple breaking up and seducing a Belgium beauty who resembles Tina Fey right in front of her boy. Something about this island and the backpackers that stays wraps the atmosphere with sexual tension.

Because it is more of a tourist vacation place than a backpacker’s heaven, most couples who stay here are couples that are meeting after a long time apart. The woman usually works somewhere in Malaysia long term and the man are staying for a week before going back to home. The men are still the boy from before, while the women have grown, matured from their experience and knowledge of a foreign country.

Would I call it infidelity? No. More like dissatisfaction.

We talked long into the night after dinner. I discovered 3 things about myself tonight.

1. Not everyone can hold conversations like I do and direct the group’s conversations. The way to do that I find, is by focusing on one person I enjoy and focusing on her. The others will try to butt in and it is up to me to decide whether or not to change subject.

2. I am very adept at being the center of attention. I know this because the party dissipated after I left and that some woman actually enjoys conversations of businesses and intellectual pursuits. Mainly Europeans.

3. In the future, I will not interact with people who try to limit who I am by pulling me back down to a definition. I realized this fact after talking with Zackry and him repeating I am Chinese. Even though I was born nowhere near China. It was interesting to note that a lot of his way of thinking on matters, mirror that of other old asian Men. He likes to show off his first class plane rides, five star hotel stays and basically anything to do with money. While dissing the backpacker’s way of life. Saying that he can’t fathom why anyone rich enough would travel like a backpacker. Showing his true colors on what he thinks of us. This is what I hate about this whole thing. He was actively trying to put me into a mold that I do not belong just because he sees my skin color and dismissing everything else. It’s like once I am yellow, only the traits that are associated are the only parts he sees. Yes I think that is it.

Asians usually have trouble understanding why you live in a way that don’t flaunt your wealth. Even though asians tout the mantra of self effacing humbleness, my view on the matter is that few people practices it and it is instead used as an excuse for not trying harder and being more outgoing.

Nothing beats Tariffa when it comes to the beaches. Coron came close with diving and snorkeling, but it doesn’t have a beach. Having been to Coron and then to Langkawi made me feel like I’ve been cheated out of my money. That’s how everything feels like here. Everything is made for the tourists with big money here, while the only two hostel on the island is fully booked for 4 days. I should’ve know when I saw only two hostels on my search. This is in stark contrast to Georgetown where so may hostels are concentrated in an area. But I wanted a beach and I heard there’s a beach .

Let’s do some comparison. I am on the Payar Island and the water here is a bit dirty and murky. There is some kind of black particle in the water. And people feeding left over food to the fishes, which made the water dirtier. The swimmable snorkeling area is cordoned off. On top of that, we are stuck here for 4 hours with 300 other tourists.

I just hope that the west of the island where I will be going, is a lot better than this. I am also fearing that Koh Samui, being a popular tourist spot, may have already been turned into a dump by tourists.

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the world.

 

 

Around the world: Bangkok

April 26, 2014

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the worldIMG_1939

IMG_1940

IMG_1942

IMG_1946

IMG_1948

IMG_1949

IMG_1950

IMG_1953

IMG_1956

IMG_1958

IMG_1971

IMG_1973

IMG_1979

IMG_1986

IMG_1991

IMG_2009

IMG_2022

IMG_2026

 

I am sure every male tourist who’ve visited Bangkok have had this thought occurred to them before. “That woman is hot. Is she a ladyboy?”

The second hidden thought is probably: “Another creepy old fart with a young thai woman. If I don’t have a wife when I am 80, I am coming here to get myself a teenage Thai wife.”

The journey to Bangkok itself is an adventure. I really recommend those who are rich and less adventurous to take the easy road and fly either from Kuala Lumpur or from wherever you are.

Me? Since I blew through this month’s budget flying around the Philippines, I had to do some hard traveling. Which means a 2 hour ferry ride from Langkawi to Satun, Jeepnay and bus to Hat Yai bus station where I was promptly surrounded by 5 Thai guy who were trying to scam me into taxis for 150 baht. When they push you down to sit if you try to stand, you know shit is going wrong. I remember a similar scene in Tangier so I am pretty sure 150 baht is very unreasonable for a 2km ride. So I took the chance in a lull where their attention lapsed and just run out of there.

For new DIY travelers out there, taxis after landing from an airport, train station and bus depots are the most dangerous scams. The airport taxis will rip off the most money, but is is the bus situation that is the most dangerous physically. If not taken cared of carefully, your life might be in danger.

This is part of the series: Backpacking around the world.