Thursday, August 30, 2007

Almost There (Kampung Air Batang - "ABC", Pulau Tioman, Malaysia)

My goal on this trip is to find a place to live for $5 CAD a day. I want a room with acceptable cleanliness, 2 drinks, a half hour of Internet (which might not exist in this fabled land), 2 meals and to smoke a few cigarettes, drink some water, eat some street vendor snacks / etc. Its cheap here, but I'm going to have to get farther south to get where I want to go. It may not exist and I'll be happy with $10 mostly as a personal comparison, as this is what I used to spend on coffee each day while in Toronto (and I don't drink anything fancy). A day here costs: RM30 for a room (last couple nights I paid RM25 for no fan / screens / net, but needed to upgrade for a fan as it was oppressive). Beer during happy hour is RM6 for two, Internet is 4, plain rice with chili sauce and a coffee for lunch is 2.50 and a dinner treat of a BBQ'd squid, a stingray, hunk of barracuda, tuna or marlin with stir-fried vegetables and fresh chili peppers costs 13. Incidentals for the day run about 5. All told its about RM60 (20 CAD). You can get a decent curry here for RM4 ($1.30), but I haven't quite killed my addiction to seafood and I'm not willing to give up plentiful, high quality hunks of fishy goodness for the extra $2-3. [If you ever eat a stingray, pull perpendicular from the cartilage backbone. If not, you end up with firm "bones" that are soft enough to be edible, but makes the meat a little tougher than it should be. Not my favorite fish, but good enough to have again]. Its a lounge in a hammock and read a book kind of place, but I feel like I am only half way there somehow [and the substantial ant infestation on both of my beds so far isn't allowing me to get the beauty sleep that I so desperately need - this new place has a mosquito net and I have one of my own so I'm going to try and lie on one and put the other over me to see if I can make a Mike sandwich to get some peace. They are small and fast though - we shall see. I am writing this now and I can see about a dozen or so of them climbing all over me and my laptop]. Its good to not be in Singapore though.

Labour day is an anniversary of sorts for me and I am going to do something positive to mark the day. I used to be a big proponent of doing "stuff" but aside from a stint of recreational rock climbing, I haven't done anything good for my body in my adult life. As such, I'm going to spend another couple of days here and then go to Indonesia (through Kuala Lumpur) to see if I take to surfing. If that doesn't stick I'm going to check into a kickboxing camp for a month or so. I'll try and not write something every time my plans change, as it will get tedious for everyone involved, but the only for sure thing is that I am going to go surfing in Indo for a bit (gotta start talking hip :). I have this picture of me in a 30 foot reef break - can't wait to be snuggling to get my ass up on a 2 foot "monster" wave.

The book I'm reading (my book report will be following shortly, the dog ate it - I swear), is a call to recovering workaholics (or soon to be burnouts). He talks about how reality is negotiable, about the dangers of a "deferred-life plan", that the opposite of love is indifference and the opposite of happiness is boredom. I used to actually be a big fan of the "sacrifice today" and "live tomorrow" idea. Did you know thats a total bullshit way to live?

I realized that I have spent all this time being introspective on the past and the person that I wanted to become during this trip, but I wasn't spending any time on building tools to make sure that I don't slide into the abyss when I go back. I was in Toronto for 5 minutes before my mind was angling on how to make cash and potential opportunities. This is who I am I guess. I won't be lying on the beach for the rest of my life as much as I have the romantic vision that I should. SO, I better get my head around how I will balance it all out and be efficient and smart in how I work and create. The book was a first step of sorts. It wasn't all nuggets, but a lot of what he talks about applies to me and I have taken a silly amount of inspiration from it.

"After years of repetitive work, you will often have to dig hard to find your passions, redefine your dreams, and revive hobbies that you let atrophy to near extinction. The goal is not to simply eliminate the bad, which does nothing more than leave you with a vacuum, but to pursue and experience the best in the world."

True. Sad but true.

Singaporean in the rain. (Little India, Singapore)

SO I have been on a little bit of a style strike of late. I wear the same t-shirt every day and when I don't, I am right Back in Black as soon it has been washed or is dry. I only put deodorant on when I am not wearing it (this is a total lie, I've put deodorant on less than ten times since March, but it sounded good). I desperately need a shave and a haircut and I only have one pair of shorts and they are ugly. I'm a troll really, but I'm living out of a backpack and I'm trying to burn some of my consumerisms away. Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4BC - AD65) said "These individuals have riches just as we say that we 'have a fever' when really the fever has us." and "Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with course and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: 'Is this the condition that I feared?' [both quotes from the book I am reading]. I am living in luxury compared to billions and billions of people on earth and if I see a Starbucks I tend to get a good solid dose of caffeine. However, I think these quotes are saying a lot to me right now, at least during those days of comparative thought. Besides, when I put on something shiny and new I feel a little bit like an impostor (always have, apparently since the day I was born). Its been good for my mind and when I haven't used something in my pack for a while I throw it out or give it a way (although I am running out of things to do this with). This is SO not who I was a year ago. Can't wait to purge once I am home again.

Singapore doesn't mix well with trolls. There has never been a more disgusting orgiastic display of the five C's "cash, credit, car, condo, club" (thanks Piyush) in the history of time. Seriously, this entire place from end to end is an open air shopping mall. Not sure what I was expecting, but I was taken aback by whats going here. It is clean (depending on where you go), it does have very strange rules (there really is no chewing gum and people do die here within 48 hours of arrest for things like possession of drugs... in your blood), everyone speaks English to some extent (and most gooder than me), all of the signs are in English, the people are extremely friendly, it has a really well designed transit system (called SMRT, but I still get lost in rapid succession - I somehow ended up at the airport twice and at Tanah Merah station three times shortly after getting off the plane) and really vibrant ethnic quarters (although these aren't the cleanliest places on earth). Travelling is Easy with a capital E, its Expensive with a capital E and its boring with a capital BORING. If you lived here you could find a lot of interesting things to do I am sure (art openings, music etc.), but if you are a guy who doesn't like to shop (this is key) and is just passing through because of a seat sale with Tiger Airways, then its easy to wish you were moving on. Its not reminiscent of Papeete, but not really where I want to be right now. This would be more of a centre to hit at the end of a long trip, if you wanted a break from hard traveling, or at the beginning of a trip for someone who wants to get their feet wet in Asia. I am not at the end, I haven't been traveling particularly hard, and I had my break in Toronto and with Corina and Jay in Thailand. I'm not a traveling expert by a long shot, but all of the things that this place has to offer is lost on me right now.

I had to go out and buy a pair of jeans and a nice shirt. It was pretty tragic, but I wanted to go out to some bars and see what a country obsessed with western culture puts forth in a "club". I might of been able to rock out with my ACDC tshirt, but my shorts had to go on vacation and my long pants that I brought with me had somehow grown a black mold. Boy did I ever love shopping! Especially the prices, given that I had just left cheapland (insert sage advise on planning).

I went out two nights. One was a massive entertainment complex in Clarke Quay (Disneyland for clubs). It was... strange. I got ushered through the lineup, was forbidden from paying cover and generally had the run of the place all night. I kept trying to push my luck and walking through all manners of side rooms and anti chambers that seemed to be roped off. I was in this super posh area at the top of the place and the bouncer just came up and asked why I was up here and not downstairs, as this place was closed. It wasn't a "get out of here" sort of thing, just a "why are you choosing to be in this place and not listening to the fine live music" sort of thing. Maybe this was just the way the place ran, but Singapore seems to have a love affair with western culture and I think it spills over into how they treat people who are obviously "not from around here". I'm not sure how to describe this, but I'm not used to the fairer sex paying unsolicited attention to me. I'm not even talking about the working girls (who you can see a mile away, but who did not have a lack of "company" from what I could see - I wonder if those guys think they have somehow landed an overtly sexual, extremely hot, scantily clad local by some sort of alignment of the stars and a sideways glance?). Strange. If picking up was suddenly on your mind here, I think you would have to be an idiot not to succeed.

As I was walking home at 5am, I said "Mike my good friend, you're an idiot. Clubs and madness is not why you are here. Don't blow it." Sage words super ego. Sage words.

I stayed at a hostel in Little India. It was clean and comparatively cheap (S$20 - about 14 CAD). Aside from the random snoring from 20 strangers every night, it was a pretty good (chill) place to be. Little India was the "rawest" quarter that I saw in Singapore and my O my was the food deelectalicious. I was old in comparison to everyone (well.. aside from that _really_ old guy that was there). It's an odd feeling to take advice from a 19 year old on how to travel through Burma. He had been traveling for about a year and although he was a bit of a dick, he was surprisingly worldly and had some pretty hard core experiences to his credit including killing someone (I don't want to kill anyone so this experience didn't really do anything for me, but I DO really want to go to Burma so that's good. Or he's lying - who cares?). A woman there was on the tail end of a trip all over Asia studying a trade union, which I believe is seriously bucking the trend in some of the countries she went through. I can't imagine the old boys network who pulls the strings behind a trade union in a communist country (not Singapore but others). I liked her. She was brave, had a good sense of humour, liked to make shit up, got lost more than me, and did cute things like correct herself when she said "substantially" instead of "substantively" (like any good, soon to be lawyer would). She's 24. I am old old old.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: In retrospect and given my performance here in KL, I think its safe to say that nobody gets lost more than me]

Our partners in crime for the time I was there were a twenty something guy from London who used to own 2 bars there before burning out and managing a small resort in Malaysia. A guy from a neighboring hostel who regaled us with stories of one of his friends going to jail erroneously in Singapore (theft over) and a guy and girl from London and some other random flotsam. We all watched the world go by, drank beer, went out to another club (saw another Filipino cover band) and I did tonnes of walking and went to the aquarium on Sentosa which was quite exceptional.

Not a terrible place, but time to move on. Malaysia here I come.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Here Fishy Fishy (Sentosa, Singapore)

The Aquarium on Sentosa in Singapore is really quite good. Reminded me how much I want to have a reeftank.

Some vids:

video

Garden Eels

video

Random big fish

video

Dragon Morray

Not sure what the problem with the new upload function is in blogger, or maybe my session is getting reset from this end, but with bigger files (+12m) it uploads the whole thing and then gives an error to contact customer service.

Two other videos are here and here. Old Skhool youtube stylz.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Glass Blows (Chihuly Bar, Singapore)

I made a special trip cross town to go to this place. It was attached to the Ritz Carlton and lets just say that I was "out of place". Dale Chihuly is one of my favourite artists and I sat by myself at the bar in the middle of this massive piano and flute extravaganza, eating complimentary lobster on a stick "bar snacks" and staring at the ceiling like an idiot. I was thinking about my friend Steph and how she turned me on to him so long ago. I realized after that this day was also her birthday (go facebook!).



Steph - Happy Birthday and thanks.. from the bottom of my heart.

Singabore Photos

The internet in Tioman is slow... so no media blitzes for a while. Couple of photos though:


Singapore clean (and empty for the only time of the several times I was on). Strange.


Apparently you are supposed to give up your seat to the elderly, hunchbacks and "little people" (am I allowed to say "midget" anymore?) while on public transportation.


Shop till you drop (everywhere, 24 hours a day - its disgusting).


This is a McDonald's of all places.


Singapore clean (again).



You can't break any real laws here, so I had to resort to something a little bit more "small time".

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dwarf Tossing (Chiang Mai, Thailand)

So Madison is 3. She has put her face in the water for the first time, like a week ago (but she learned to do the dog paddle and float about a day after that). She has just recently understood the concept of "If you you splash me, I'll splash you" with us all because she was taking some serious liberties with a seriously one sided game. Although she wouldn't allow water on her head before hopping on the plane to Thailand, she has actually started to like it - which is a double edged sword for people who don't actually want to splash 3 year olds all day long. Kids grow _fast_ I cant believe the changes that I have witnessed in just 2 weeks.

So the next step is the "If you dunk me, I'll dunk you" game - a break through. Its clear that she is finally ready to play and she hops with both feet on my chest to sink me to the bottom of the 1 ft deep wading pool. She looks a bit like she should be on a Mountain Dew commercial, or about to jump out of a Cessna on her first sky dive. Its obvious that she feels on the edge of some massive precipice; a pioneer in infant extreme sports. Its the last day of my time with the Moores and she has been warming up to me over the last little bit. We have kind of been in limbo land between shyness and warm trust depending on the day. She doesn't really know what to think of me and I don't really know what this whole little person thing is about. The kid in Jerry Maquire almost had it right: dogs and bees can smell fear, but nothing like kids under the age of five can. My name is Michael Reid and I am scared of kids. Maybe "scared" is the wrong word, I just REALLY don't know what to do with them (which I guess boils down to fear in the end). I gave her a little bit of assistance putting her head in the water and she came up looking like a big girl rock star. She beams. I beam. Its a big day.. both of our fears are one step closer to disappearing into the sands of time (forgive me, thats lame). She gives another leap and I go down like a wet sack of cement. In exaggerated fashion I say "wow that was a big one, get ready for a big dunk!". In the history of kid playing, there has never been a situation where anyone has blown it worse. She thinks that big dunks are little-people-nose-smashing-into-the-tiled-bottom-of-the-pool type of thing and she makes it abundantly clear that this little game is over. Anytime that she touched me in the pool after this, she got all serious and said "just so you know, I'm not dunking you." FYI bad man, the fragile trust that we have spent 2 weeks developing has been smashed like so many glass building blocks. 2 hours later, she hopped on me and I fell backwards - clearly a dunk. She looked at me seriously and said "don't worry, I'll do it" and dunked herself. Thats the whole thing, she wanted to be dunked. We aren't so different, we are each looking for reasons to stretch beyond our fears and build on our fragile accomplishments. It just has to be finessed. Kind of like when Corina puts Tyler in my hands and walks away - clearly a dunk. It stresses me out, but I like it. (until its time to do something scary like change them, then I have to crawl back into my shell).

Live and learn. I kind of recovered with Madison, but now I have to leave. I'll get that kid thing figured out one day. Rookie.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This trip has not only garnered the first(?) photos of me holding a baby (the 3rd? I have ever held), but there is live action footage of the first time I have played with one. Is it just me, or are there other 34 year olds out there with these bizarre hang ups and white knuckled fear? Why do I feel like I am a pioneer in some bizarre extreme sport? Am I just being a baby?]

Confused Revulsion (Night Bazarre, Chiang Mai, Thailand)

How is it that this shirt exists? Its not clever or funny like some of the other shirts in this market: "dumb and dumber" with a picture of Bush Sr. and Double U or the icon of a bunny mounting a duck from behind that just says "Wrong" - rich!.

How is it that this world is so screwed up that a) someone thought this up, b) someone printed this shirt and c) there is obviously a market for it and some asshole actually buys and wears this shirt around? Am I missing the point or some sort of pop culture play here? I just don't get it and there is no way that I can stretch my mind to a point that thinks this is alright. Can someone tell me what is going on here?

Pimp my ride (Chiang Mai, Thailand)


Tuk-tuks sure have changed a lot in the last ten years. You can still go far for almost nothing with all the 2-stroke goodness and gag inducing pollution, it just seems like the drivers have started taking an inordinate amount of effort to differentiate and personalize. This study should totally be an episode of "Pimp My Ride" - live on location in Thailand.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Photos

Some photos of Thailand so far are here. I can't change anything on the right of this page for some reason right now. (And its not because I don't know how ;) We are currently in Raleigh Beach near Krabbi until Wednesday when we leave for Chiang Mai for a few days.

Colonic

Cleaning out some old ramblings. Cobwebs are collecting in the diary and its time to cleanse. Incomplete and not really "polished", but they are my thoughts and thats what this whole blog thing is about. Where else would I put them anyways?

=======

I downloaded some new books in the Marquesas. I picked about 40, but the Inet connection only allowed me to download a few. These days my mind struggles to understand who I am, who I want to be when I grow up, "The Brothers Karamazov" and now a textbook about general relativity (beggars can't be choosers). It is quite a swing from one to the other - 19th century Rusian history through Dostoyevsky's view of things like the separation of church and state to trying desperately to understand spacetime, tensors and wordlines, all while wondering why my favorite food is bacon, the implications of not having bacon for months at a time and whether bacon still will be my favourite food next year. I can easily say that I've made the slowest progress on all fronts in all of my life , but slowly I get my mind around (except on the bacon front cuz thats simple - magical animal goodness and I may die). Well, I can't say that my mind is going around them, maybe I've just allowed the weight of them to sag into it a bit (a dimple if you will). I have also taken to highlighting every word I don't understand in Karamazov. I realized that a lot of the time when I am reading I take a meaning of a word from the context of the statement, but If I ask myself to define it I can't. Its a painstaking effort and I've got quite a list of them mounting.

A statement that I found interesting:

"All notions, theories, and ideas in physics have a certain domain of validity."

Pretty straight forward statement and I am sure I heard it in a class of some sort at some point but like a lot of things, I never would have thought of it so succinctly without some help. The idea is important in the discussion of Newton's general relativity and "Special Relativity" (where spacetime is flat). It is applied to physics in the book, but I think it can also extend to everyday life. i.e. the domain of validity of this statement extends beyond just physics ;)

The very idea of tolerance ties into this. You need to keep in mind that although something doesn't sit well with you, it is right for perhaps a different set of circumstance, if only in the mind of the person who hatched the theory or belief. It is important to understand where that person believes their idea is valid (although most people including me believe that most of their ideas are applicable universally). You can't make someone believe or act the way that you believe or act is right without changing their belief in where and when your idea is applicable. Some ideas in my mind have a universal domain of validity - "racism is bad" for instance, but for others they may believe that this concept has a very small area of validity or that it is only valid in a small subset of circumstances and situations. i.e. Whites are the only worthy people on earth, except for that one Eskimo at work - he's a good guy. You can't change this situation by saying "Racism is Bad". You need to shrink the situations where that person believes his or her therories are valid and expanding their belief in yours. Its a tall order to see it from their perspective and a taller order to shift others beliefs in what is actually right. (Maybe thats the problem? "Actually right" might apply in the case of racism, but I need to shed this idea in most of what I think. Being "right" is that the domain of validity encompasses a large enough area relative to other possibilities... FOR ME. Get that into your head Mike). All this boils down to the moral #1 of the story: you need to really be passionate about an idea or care about the person immensely to invest the time it takes to truly shift their beliefs. Sometimes you can be passionate about a belief, but not want to fight the good fight.. just nod and smile 1000 miles from land in the South Pacific. Moral #2: Live with open eyes and an open heart. Don't ever ignore someone who you care about who is trying to explain their belief and their domain of validity to you. Respect is a two way street.

Another molehill into a mountain. Check.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: I liked this idea, but I don't think I pulled it off with the verbage. And for the record, I am still reading both these books... dry dry dry :)]

=======

"For example, if we agree that physical space contains no preferred point – an apparently valid assumption as far as the fundamental laws of physics are concerned – then, according to this point of view, physical space should be modeled on some sort of mathematical space containing no special point, for example, an affine space rather than a vector space. (A vector space contains a special point, namely the null
vector.)"

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Research for my vector quest.]

=======

This blog is overly dramatic, overly verbose and overly me-centric. Not surprising coming from a long winded drama seeker going through a "self exploration" phase.

=======

I look forward to being back home, so that I can wish that I was away. The only difference will be that I will have sated my need to be around my family and friends again - the biggest reason for compelling me to come north of the equator this decade. Is this enough? What home?

=======

Something in me wont pretend that I can't hear someone when they are talking to me. I could have used that today. Thanks mom and dad.

=======

When will I achieve my greatness?

[EDITOR'S NOTE: When I let it happen. When I am happy with the now instead of the perceived tomorrow.]

=======

I am on a 35 foot boat. If the first step out of the cabin is 3 feet from the stern and the head is barely amidships, then the maximum amount of usual, one-way walking distance is about 12 feet. It is rare that anyone needs to go forward to do anything really, and if so I might be the one that pulls cockpit duty during such things. My berth is halfway between the steering wheel and the seat less toilet. 3 trips to the head, cook some dinner, take a few naps, wander to and fro to work off some nervous energy. I bet that I don't cover 50 yards of travel in a day. I used to walk that to grab a bagel in the morning. I swear that I am going on big long hike once I am off this boat. And then doing some laundry for Christs sake.

=======

"Throw me in a cage with a hungry Namibian and I'll loose every time."

[EDITOR'S NOTE: A discussion over 3 inch thick steaks on how looking meat in the eye before eating it is something that Westerners can't really relate to. The comment was about knowing what hunger means, not about cannibalism - "For the record".]



========

Back to the story (Raitaia -> Bora Bora)

SO, there are flights to the magical mystical land of Maupiti - I just can't get them. I went to Raitaia to see what was possible. There was indeed a ferry which was not so aptly named the "Maupiti Express". My new friend John at the pension let me know that there was one leaving the very next day (YAY!), but that it has to go through Bora Bora and I would have to spend a night there (BOO!). It was a nice place and the island looked good, but even the "club" beds were $30 with no nets and a large population of lizards, mosquito's and creepy crawlies.

I woke up in the morning and walked a few miles into the town which was more bustling than I had anticipated. As it turned out, Raitaia has the second largest population in the Society Islands and was a stopping point on the cruise ship superhighway. I had about 8 hours to kill which I was surprising fine with (its amazing how patient I had become for such things).

So the boat landed in Bora Bora at 8:00pm or so and John said that the Pension Moon was probably a good place to be, central to my 8:00am ferry to Maupiti and relatively cheap. I started walking south to the pension which was supposed to be 800 yards down from the dock. 30 minutes later, something was obviously amiss. What is it about stray dogs that make them so much more scary at night than during the day? Three, fair sized dogs came out of the bushes with an insatiable thirst for blood (my blood clearly). I gave them my best alpha male impression and they paused their attack, but they didn't buy it in the end. I ran. 50 yards the wrong way later, some invisible territorial line was reached and they waved goodbye with a snarl and one more barring of their teeth. Boy were they ever lucky, I was about to pull a last stand and give them a taste of my steel toed sandals of justice.

I was a bit down. I had drawn a very deep line in the sand that I wasn't going to go to Bora Bora. Nobody had anything good to say about it and it was the most expensive island in the most expensive area of the world. Now that I was hardcore, I had no time for such things. I decided I just wouldn't take any pictures - that would show this island who's boss. The next town was about 10km away. Hitching was out of the question as who knew how long it would take in such a touristed and jaded place? I couldn't go back through the Gauntlet of Ruff. I thought maybe I should find a stick (I am lying about that steel toed bit). Two headlights came up over the horizon.

15 minutes later, I was on my second beer as I slowly meandered around the island of Bora Bora. I wasn't quite sure if I was saved or lounging in a frying pan. The couple who had picked me up knew only a handful of English words - "Yes / No", "hello" and "wife". They spoke French with a really thick Tahition accent and unbelievably fast. It really didn't phase them and for the moment I decided that I really didn't care what happened. I knew I wasn't going to spend $600 for a hotel room (I'm hardcore) and assumed that it would work out in the end. I was going with the flow [EDITOR'S NOTE: I've got a title and a memory for a future post - "10 Polynesian francs that changed the way I look at life". It has do do with "Fluidity", my new mantra I've been trying out. Its not a call to not plan or a lack of will, it is a lack of rigidity, which I have realized was a very bad habit that I picked up somewhere in the last couple of years. More on this to come.] So anyways, I was amassing quite a collection of pot that they kept passing back by the chunk that they wouldn't take back (Mom: I did take a ride from a stranger who was drinking at the time, but this story doesn't end with me in a French jail for 5 years. The Gendarms scare me, mostly because of their hot pants. They have to be tough to walk around in those. I flushed it all at my first opportunity).

"Excuse me my friend, I do not understand. Speak slow? My French is terrible." It worked! He tries his best to enable a conversation. I repeat the words he says that I understand with a yes. Big mistake. He thought that I had somehow magically learned how to speak French while he wasn't looking and he sped away on his verbal bullet train "blahblahblah blahblah blah". We stopped at a store to pick up more beer. Another 15 minutes went by and it was time to nudge this ride a bit into the right direction. "After _this_ store (why don't these guys by more than 3 beers at a time?) maybe we can go to a hotel or pension?" They went silent and looked at each other. A minute went by and it was now clear that they had picked me up simply to party. So it had been an hour and it seemed like we had been down every path in Bora Bora. We stopped at a place with no signs, which magically turned out to be a place for me to sleep. As it turned out, the pension was nice, it was cheap ($90!! I can't _wait_ to go back to Asia where things make sense again), the room had cardboard walls and was barely larger than a single bed, with a mosquito net and a window. I sat out on a very slim slice of rocky sand by the ocean and watched over the "over water" bungalows of the most expensive hotel on Bora Bora. I didn't confirm, but I hear there is one bungalow that was $10k per night).

[insert story about fantastic steak dinner]
[Redact story of friendly wake-up call delivered from matriarch through window at 6am while I rested peacefully completely naked]
[insert story about going with the flow and rolling with the punches when the promised "Le Truck" (that's really the name) bus schedule didn't really exist. Just leisurely walk along the coastal road and someone will pick you up at the very last minute possible for the commute to town]
[insert heaven on earth story, entitled "Heaven on Earth - Maupiti". It should drip with eloquent descriptions of the best of the 15 islands that I visited in the Pacific]

=====

"Here is the memorable description by Yuri Gagarin of what he saw on the first spaceflight of the human species, aboard Vostok 1, on April 12, 1961:

The sky is completely black; and against the background of this black sky the stars appear somewhat brighter and more distinct. The Earth has a very characteristic, very beautiful blue halo, which is seen well when you observe the horizon. There is a smooth color transition from tender blue, to blue, to dark blue and purple, and then to the completely black color of the sky. It is a very beautiful transition."

"The blue of a cloudless May morning, or the reds and oranges of a sunset at sea, have roused humans to wonder, to poetry, and to science. No matter where on Earth we live, no matter what our language, customs, or politics, we share a sky in common."

"Freedom of belief is pernicious," Bellarmine wrote on another occasion. "It is nothing but the freedom to be wrong."

[EDITOR'S NOTE: From "Pale Blue Dot" - awesome read. Thanks Garth.]

=======

So I was looking for an old something or other with the word "war" in it. Google desktop didn't find it, but it found an old email from my friend Alison that she shamelessly ripped of a source that no longer matters. I've been trying to define my humour in the wake of "Fluke" and trying to decide why I like Christopher Moore so much (funnily enough, this is a decidedly unfunny endeavour - don't attempt it) and I LOL'd instead of thinking "TWMF (that was mildly funny)" at the below (again). One of the things I liked about Fluke was the way that he describes situations . Like when two characters in the book were being chastised by a woman who was walking to and fro - they watched intently as "two dogs watching meatball tennis" (I've read Lamb and now Fluke and I would highly recommend them both). He's zany and farsical at times, but he embodies my sense of humour that I inherited from my father. It isn't shared by a bunch of people and when I am "off", I am off to most of the people in the room - but at that point most of the jokes are for me anyways so its their fault for listening in. Try dropping a few, dry one-liners in a room full of barely English speaking folks and you can see what I am talking about (which has been happening to me quite frequently - yup its the language barrier, cuz I was dropping bombs of PURE gold. GOLD I tells ya). People don't get it, but "good humour is wasted on a lot of people" (my father's classic bomb dispersal line).

The email went as such:

For to make you laugh:

I believe in making the world safe for our children, but not our children's children, because I don't think children should be having sex.

If you're in a war, instead of throwing a hand grenade at the enemy, throw one of those small pumpkins. Maybe it'll make everyone think how stupid war is, and while they are thinking, you can throw a real grenade at them.

Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: "Mankind". Basically, it's made up of two separate words - "mank" and "ind". What do these words mean ? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind.

I guess we were all guilty, in a way. We all shot him, we all skinned him, and we all got a complimentary bumper sticker that said, "I helped skin Bob."

The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.

I bet one legend that keeps recurring throughout history, in every culture, is the story of Popeye.

We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we can't scoff at them personally, to their faces, and this is what annoys me.

To me, clowns aren't funny. In fact, they're kind of scary. I've wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus, and a clown killed my dad.

If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.

If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you'll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.

Anytime I see something screech across a room and latch onto someone’s neck, and the guy screams and tries to get it off, I have to laugh, because what is that thing.

Contrary to what most people say, the most dangerous animal in the world is not the lion or the tiger or even the elephant. It's a shark riding on an elephant's back, just trampling and eating everything they see.

As the evening sky faded from a salmon color to a sort of flint gray, I thought back to the salmon I caught that morning, and how gray he was, and how I named him Flint.

Whenever I see an old lady slip and fall on a wet sidewalk, my first instinct is to laugh. But then I think, what if I was an ant, and she fell on me. Then it wouldn't seem quite so funny.

Instead of trying to build newer and bigger weapons of destruction, we should be thinking about getting more use out of the ones we already have.

I think a good gift for the President would be a chocolate revolver. And since he is so busy, you'd probably have to run up to him real quick and give it to him.

Interesting...

Youtube.com is blocked in Thailand.

"Sorry, the web site you are accessing has been closed by Royal Thai Police due to inappropriateness such as pornography, gambling or contain any information which is deemed to violate national security.

For more information, please contact "Police Information System Center" Bld#19 2nd Flr, Royal Thai Police, Rama I, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330 Tel. 0-2251-0164,
email : webmaster@police.go.th

http://www.police.go.th"

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Corina, Jay, Madison, Tyler and Mike - A revolutionary, highly chaotic, slow moving, 5 wheel vehicle. (Koh Lanta, Thailand)

So the pace here is SLOW. Well, let me cage that a bit. The pace of three of the people on this trip is crawling while the pace of the other two is pretty frantic (although one of them doesn't know how to crawl yet so that may be a factor). This type of travelling is different than any that I have done previously - "What do you mean its not all about me and that the value of my opinion is in a three way tie for third?"

The purpose of this leg of my trip was to kick back and spend some time with my long time friends for a couple of weeks. So far its "mission accomplished" (in the real sense, not the "My name is G double U way"). I met Corina 15 YEARS ago...Heyzeus!. I never get to spend time with them and when I do in Canada its always for a 6 hour flyby for one reason or another. Its a little bit extreme to have to fly to Thailand to have a chance to hang out, but thats the cross that we must all bear.

The conversation is good and each of us is taking time in the hot seat to talk about our (dis and)content, hopes and dreams. Sounds airy and sometimes it is, but its good. Its raw, meaningful but most importantly its without fear. Not that its talk that doesn't include fear, but there is no fear of anything said that will come back to haunt. Right - the paramount definition of friends.

I am being given a crash course in Kidlet Design 101. The jury has always been out for me and the prospect of kids. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that I want them now, its just been good for me to see that the world doesn't end after having them. Its obviously wrought with sacrifice, but it's not the cats laying down with dogs, Jabba frogs vomiting brimstone and killer bees, woman in the oval office sort of apocalyptic scenario that I had always thought that it would be. I'm studying hard and I have a midterm coming up - I've offered a one-time 15 minute babysitting certificate to Mr. and Mrs. Vinh Diesel. I still have the propensity to run protectively behind Madison to catch her when the inevitable slip and crack her head wide on the concrete thing happens (which apparently is a rookie mistake on my part), but I'm getting the hang of deciding what is actually a dire situation and what isn't. I've even held Tyler for more than 30 seconds (one of the only times that I've heard him cry). It is mind bending how much things change with kids in a short period of time. What do you mean that his two front teeth weren't there when you boarded the plane and now they are? I don't get it - they are right there! What, one day they aren't and one day they are? Whatever.

Good times.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Minutia (Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand)

So it seems that Thailand got itself a new airport since the last time I was here. I think anyways. My memory for small details is still good after 10 years, but the big picture stuff I sometimes get confused with. This airport is COLD. I realize that I have been frozen since I left Toronto. Über AC is in vogue - all the cool airports are doing it (no pun intended - I think). Its vibrant and 24 hours. It has freezing cold metal seats that my drool likes to stick to as I try to finally grab some rest. I am a _mess_. I find that if you have one of the baggage carts and position your backpack "just so" you can sleep on it for almost 20 minutes in a row before the freezing cold metal bars make your tailbone ache and you need to get up and move around a bit.

Three funny things:

1. This seems so Japanese to me. I took my complimentary ANA in flight magazine, and found a list of 12 things to do to keep your mind off of cravings during long flights. #10 - Boast. My God, look at this illustration. I'm not sure what the guy is boasting about, but the other guy looks like he's just sat down for a colonoscopy ;) Boast... hahahahaha. Too funny.

2. Mr. Lee's cafe. There are a number of restaurants at the airport that are 24 hours. The food is cheap and good. I have to keep reminding myself that Tom Yum soup should cost a buck, instead of the ten that I would have paid if I was still in French Polynesia. Apparently, Mr. Lee's ears appear as "small Chinese liked eyes". I think I might start an "Engrish" category because trust me, this is just the beginning.

3. Thai Marlboro's. Not that I am a smoker, but if I was I would have to consider quiting. They have taken cigarette package warnings to a new level and the opening for a pack is roughly where this mouth would open if it were yours. I think its probably just that Thai people are more susceptible to smoking illnesses, as in North America you can only become impotent and harm your unborn baby.... right.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Proud Mary keeps on burning. (Narita Airport, Tokyo, Japan)

Hmmmm. 1 flight down. Only a 3 hour layover, a 7 hour flight from Tokyo to Bangkok, an 8 hour nap at the airport, a 1.5 hour flight to Krabi, a ferry to Koh Lanta and to the promise land of a shower, some sunshine and a freakin bed. Have you ever been on a 13 hour flight in the middle seat? I have. Its the type of gut-wrenching crapulance that makes you want to work yourself to death to afford first class. The woman to the left liked to talk about how many times she had flown to Japan and how much she liked this movie or that. Did I like that movie or this? The woman on the right was an obsessive compulsive and was fascinated with cleaning her pants. She had one of those mini rollers and boy did she ever like using it. What was she trying to clean off I wonder? She was kind though and pretended to not mind the hourly washroom breaks and leisurely "strolls" around the cabin that I had taken a liking to. Sleep was elusive and sanity was fragile. Air Canada is a FAR cry from Air Tahiti Nui. Not even in the same league (albeit a different price structure, but I digress).

Oh well, at least the Internet is cheap.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Roller....Coaster

You know, sometimes your friends really let you down: a) when you have the idea of going out for a (one) drink at 1am when you haven't packed or done laundry for your pending morning flight is when you really need them to say "no" b) turning the 1 drink into an all night gong show before you have done the above is a bad idea and needs to be shut down before it even starts. Reckless friends - where were you on that one? Oh right.. you were there. Let downs all over the place. But Then! They totally redeem themselves by sleeping while you get aforementioned crap done and magically transporting you to the airport during Carabana long weekend. (Thank you guys SO much)

My only consolation is that I feel worse than I look, but I am about 40 hours from a bed. Heaven help me. AND the flight is full and I have a middle seat.

BTW - I got the green light from the doctor apparently. Yay me!