Archive for May, 2009

Tsukiji Fish Market & Akihabara Computer World

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Today was a full one, and its far from over.  It started with an early rise at 4 am to make it to the Tsukiji fish market (the largest fish market on the planet) to catch the early morning tuna auctions.  This is where flash frozen half ton blue fin tunas are auctioned off for $10,000 USD each.  A true sight to see, but first there is preparation required.

I was making my way over to the market via 3 subway lines with two English girls that I met in my hostel the night before.  A note on the subway system (and all Japanese public transport for that matter).  It is by far the most intricate, efficient, and complete system that I have ever seen.  There isn`t and place in the greater Tokyo area that you can`t reach with the subway system for a maximum of $2US.  If you want to, you can get within 800 paces of just about anywhere using the subway system.  It looks like a cluster fuck on the maps, but once you use it, you will realize that this country has a 1000% commitment to efficiency deeply ingrained in its blood line. 

We started following a German tour group that was going to the fish market as well (so that we wouldn`t have to deal with the transfers ourselves.  The tour leader was a late twenties Japanologist who stopped and told us that my English friends would not be allowed in with their backpacks and that you need an invite to go in.  She said that the locals don`t really like the tourists in there because it is their place of business and that the tourists usually get in the way (or even hurt by stepping in the way of fork lifts). 

My English friends could go no further and the guide refused to go in, because she didn`t want to offend the people.  She said I could not go with her group because it would throw off the reservation size.  She told me to just walk in and don`t take no for an answer.  She said be fearless.  This (as it might anyone) freaked me out a bit.  But traveling alone is nimble for these very reasons.  No one would notice one more foreigner.  There`s almost always one more spot on the bus, plane, train, or hostel. 

I charged in and went to the back room where the auctions were going on.  It was much more tame that I thought it would be.  I was convinced it was going to look like a scene out of the movie blood sport.  In case you haven`t noticed yet, today, I can`t figure out how to make quotation marks with the computer that I am using.  Yesterday it was apostrophes, and tomorrow it might be periods.  Bare with me.  I am a learned doctor (insert quotations around learned and doctor) who is working with a herpes computer. 

There were two men with numbers on their hats casually nodding as a Japanese man (who looked remarkably like an Irish guy) screamed in a soft, beat up voice, the bid prices while standing on a stool.  Are stool (the thing you stand) and stool (the thing you produce) spelled the same?  Either way, I got a ton of pictures and video of the bidding and the men chopping up the fish (first with power tools while they were still frozen and secondly with Samurai swords the size of claymores when they were thawed out). 

In addition, there were just about every species of fish and sea creature in the stadium sized warehouse.  Everything from sacs of squid ink, to fish that I had never dreamed existed.  This place made my mouth water so it was time for some sushi for breakfast.  I ate some sushi and it was still quite expensive even though it was so close to the source.  When people say Japan is expensive, what they really mean is that sushi is expensive.  There are still cheap places to eat, it just takes some looking. 

Even in the fabled fish market, people were extremely courteous.  It`s all part of the culture.  Think about their full contact sport (sumo).  The guys are pushing each other.  And don`t say that Karate is full contact, because it is a martial art, which I consider as something completely different.  Americans have boxing, a bloody display of smashing each others heads with the other`s fists.  In sumo, you just push someone out of a ring.  It`s so damned polite. 

Next I was having a walk down the street to find a bank that would take my ATM card.  Ironically enough, there were a bunch of banks the day before that wouldn’t take my card.  Of all the countries for my card to not work in, I never though it would be the one that is the most technologically advanced.  There in lies another funny theme.  For a country that is obsessed with technology, it still largely runs on cash.  I got down to my last 8 bucks when I finally found an ATM that worked.  Then there was a big line across the street that stretched for 7 city blocks.  I walked across the street and asked some tourists what the line was for.  They said that it was an opening of a new diamond store and that the store was handing out a free diamond for the first 5,000 guests.  Wow, now that’s marketing. 

The tourists ended up being 4 Kiwis who came to Tokyo on a whim due to a $350 USD round trip ticket.  We ended up hanging out for the day, exchanging cultural stories and facts.  They asked me how to get around California and I asked them more about New Zealand.  We went to Akihabara which is the computer capital of the world.  This place has more computers than New Zealand has sheep.  Every gadget under the sun, but all the computers run under Japanese operating systems and have Japanese keys. 

I went on a wild goose chase for a computer repair place and had some very helpful and clever non English speaking locals help me find my way.  They used a website that translated what I said into Japanese and back the other way.  It was so clever!  Then they took my request and wrote it out on paper so that if I finally found someone who could handle the request, would know what the actual request was.  I was beside myself with how far out of their way these people would go.  It was like southern hospitality, but if you went to the south speaking Japanese, the locals would likely not be as helpful.  They would more likely tell someone to speak English or go home :)

 

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Reborn In Japan

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Click this video to get the theme music for this post !!! Dont watch the video, just click and read the post!

Here is the deal, I have seen a lot of cultures in this world so far but none have left me as elated as this one and Ill tell you why.  Up until now, there has been some sort of lack in contrast.  In Australia and New Zealand, there is not enough of a change in culture to evaluate.  Its like looking at the same damn orange twice and being asked to tell the difference between the two.  Then there was south east Asia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.  This was like looking at apples to oranges.  They are so different that I could only make huge observations about the stark contrast between the two fruits.  Most of the time, a socio economic difference was the true difference.  But here! Here is socio economically equivalent or better, but completely different in culture!

This leaves me feeling like an infant, soaking up every bit of every moment like it is the very first time. This feels like traveling to a different dimension entirely.  Just imagine how good it feels to appreciate every speck in your surroundings again.  Imagine a world that every chair, every locker, every carpet or rug, or book, or toilet, or handle is completely compelling.  This is how it feels to be in Japan.  I can hardly contain myself.

And lets just say the people are as helpful if not more than any people that I have ever met.  The efficiency of this country is erection inducing.  I made it through customs and baggage claim in a staggering 4 minutes.  Honda and Toyota were built on the mantra of incremental improvements in efficiency and it just seems like business as usual here in Japan.  I Love it!!

They love their gadgets!  I was in the airport bathroom and used for the first time one of those industrial hand driers which actually leave your hand bone dry.  You know, the kind that suck the water off your hands as you pull them out of the machine.

I’m sleeping in a freaking coffin.  My room is a dorm room, but all of the beds are these compartments that are built into the walls.  With a sliding door, you are entered into your room equipped with true memory foam mattress, big soft comforter, and two electrical outlets.  I told you, these guys love their gadgets.  Some people would find the coffin claustrophobic, but I just loved the privacy.  The coffin doubles as a huge locker, as it locks from the outside.

The shower head emits an angle hair fine stream of water with enough pressure to feel clean.  It seems that these guys have really figured out how to get comfortable.  Today I am going to get a metro pass and start seeing the sights,  I can already say that 2 weeks will not be enough.  I am going to have to shuffle some things around :)

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On My Way to The Big Show

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

I’m back in Bangkok for just a day or so to pick up a couple of supplies and run a few errands.  Ok, I had to get a fake id (student id) (hey it saves a bunch of money!), Toiletries, sandals, and pick up a credit card as well as my dive certification card.

News on that front.  The fake Id costs 5 bucks and is ready in 30 minutes.  The credit card and dive cert is gone forever :( and the rest of the shopping was accomplished within minutes.  I got my last cheap massage that I would have for a long time as well.

I have to say that I really sold Singapore short on my last post.  They have the only airport (that I’ve ever seen) that has a swimming pool!!!  Thats insane!  Also, they have a bunch of stations that serve up free 15 minute blocks of internet.  This is perfect for people who have to just double check their flight time and what not.

I decided to wing it in Singapore and payed for it dearly by walking around lost for 3 hours.  For Tokyo, I’ve cheated a bit.  I have looked up the region that is full of hostels and how to get there.  My mistake in singapore was not even knowing where to ask people where to go.  Try that again, “I didn’t even have a spot to ask for directions to.”  Any better?

In the spirit of this trip is not really having a bunch of reservations made in advance.  But, if you have no clue in a city the size of Tokyo, your an idiot.

I’ve already solicited my beloved Japanease & Japanease american friends to give me some pointers and I’m ready to crush this city!!!

Thanks George and Fumi (I’ll be looking for both of your sisters!)

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Singapore

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Just as quickly as I got here, I’m leaving.  They say it’s the cleanest town in the world, but I saw plenty of areas that had trash in the street.  Crossing the boarder, I tool a handful of Tylenol so that my returning fever would break long enough to not get quarantined.  It worked.  The people here’s first response was “I don’t know” much unlike the Malaysians, when asking them where a hostel was.

 

I don’t feel like writing much, as you may have already sensed.  This mood will pass.  Tokyo is next and I’m going to rock it!

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A Day of Rest In Semporna

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

I’ve been diving for the last 4 days (12 dives) in a row and it’s suggested to not fly within 24 hours of your last day, so I decided to essentially spend a day posting this damn video online (from the best dive of my life.)

But this gives me some time to do some important reflecting on the contrast between Thailand and Malaya as well as the two different dive shops that I used in Borneo.  First I’d like to address the difference between Thailand and Malaysia.

I think that the reason people seem nicer in Malaysia is because they are not riddled with tourists.  They are happy to see the few tourists because they know it means more money.  The places in Thailand that I went to this time around get bombarded with so many tourists, that they are more annoyed than grateful (a lot like Hawaii).  The people of Malaysia largely speak English more proficiently than the people of Thailand.  Rightfully so, there are less tourists in Malaysia because there are less obvious tourist attractions.  People will smoke indoors in Malaysia and not think twice about it (not the same in Thailand).  People will dress their kids for bed (in their pajamas) and still take them out to a late dinner.  This is an ingenious idea when you think about it, get those kids into a feed comma and then just plop them into bed :)

The people of Thailand will help you out, but not like the people of Malaysia.  They wont go very far out of their way.  Despite what people may say, Thailand is getting more expensive and Malaysia is not actually as expensive as it’s reputation.  The buses in Thailand are ok, but the buses in Malaysia are the best I’ve ever been on (both of which are leaps and bounds better than the Australian Grey Hounds).

I walk down the streets of Semporna (the same on all of the other white folks avoid like the plague) and I feel like it is just another Thai village.  The only difference is that the women wear shalls and there is a mosque instead of a temple.  People smile back at me when I flash them one (unlike all through Australia)  and no one ever gives me any trouble (except the kids who say “give me money !”) which remind me of my brother at that age (a lot of work, but good at heart).

Maybe its because I am a guy, but I keep hearing stories of the towns people treating the women poorly.  All I can comment on is how warm they are to me.  People learn your names here which is astonishing since it is such a weakness for me.  They see people come and go all the time, but somehow learn their names.

On the dive shop front, there were two that I used.  Scuba Junkie and Sipadan Scuba.  There are some very interesting differences in the way they run their operations.  Scuba Junkie is run by a few really cool Scottish guys.  They have a bit of a cult following similar to Apple computer.  Everyone (minus the boat driver) is western in the organization and young for that matter.  It’s a hip place to be and they have everything from a hostel to a bar all on the same two corners of a street.  They are a one stop shop.  In the water, they are very by the book in safety and rules of not touching anything in the water.  I get the sense that they have had some problems with the local military of the island (Sipadan) because they seem like they are holding their breaths when they sign into the island.  Their divers are experienced (plenty) but can’t compete with the local divers who work for the competition and have been diving (this spot) for 11-15 years.

Sipadan Scuba, on the other hand, is not very by the book.  They are friends with the military on the island of Sipadan, and they are much further from the book as far as being uptight about safety.  They have an unbeatable ability to find more things under water than the westerners (just like my Thai dive master when diving with whale sharks and manta rays), but they don’t have the cult following.  The business is owned by a 50 year old German man (as opposed to the 30 year old Scottish guys who own Scuba Junkie).

I had the opportunity to dive with both companies for two days and the friends that I made (both staff and tourist) were much more genuine at Sipadan Scuba.  The owners of Scuba Junkie are wonderful, but their staff error more on the side of high school cool kid.  Not that they are bad, they are just a lower temperature when you come from Sipadan Scuba.  The patrons and staff are older at Sipadan scuba and the equipment is newer.

You can imagine how awkward/funny it gets when you dive and know everyone in the group next to you (underwater).  Then when you surface, the boat next to you all shouts your name and waves.  It really cuts the tension (or increases it ?) between the two competing companies.

(one hour later)

Yuck, on the Video front, the audio that my dive master threw on top of the footage has been lost now.  Somehow, just mute it on youtube and put your favorite music on (that’s actually a blessing in disguise.  in addition, I am splitting up the video into several segments (I might get the opportunity to make the whole thing shorter and more fun to watch )

Fingers crossed!

(one hour later)

Ok, even better, this baby is going to get cut down to the best clips easily.  Found a software.  Play your own music though (I do have limmitations on this herpes infested public computer.)

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Sipadan Secrets Revealed

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

After diving this spot for 3 days in a row, I’ve had the chance to speak with a lot of locals who have been diving this place for years.

You’ll read in my previous post that there was a dive master who was new to the spot and very apprehensive about it.  I thought she was over reacting, but I’ve spoken to some locals who made me think twice about the place.  Firstly, to clear up some myths, the drop off is only 600 meters (not 2000, but plenty to kill you ten times over).  This place is 600 meters deep and then it goes to a 10 meter shelf and then eventually to an island.  When the moon is full, the tides change drastically.  This means that the 10 meter shelf will drain into the 600 meter abyss.  It will also flow up from the abyss onto the shelf.  What does this mean for divers?

It means that you might be 20 meters down and see your bubbles begin to go down instead of up.  This is a sign that you are being drained into the abyss.  To prevent certain death inflate your BCD (Buoyancy control device (the Jacket that you wear that you can inflate and deflate with air)) and kick towards the surface.  The isn’t a current in the world that can prevent a BCD full of air from reaching the surface.  But that’s the the hard part.  The hard part is not shooting up the surface like a rocket as the air in your BCD continues to expand as you get closer to the surface.  Also, if you shoot up the surface too quick you will get “the bends” as well as a possible popped lung (very bad).  This scenario is a lot like inflation in the economy, It’s preventable.  The Fed raises interest rates and boom, the economy slows down.

Now there’s the High tide scenario.  Where the abyss pushes up onto the shelf.  This is a lot like the concept of deflation in the economy, It’s very hard to stop.  The fed can’t lower interest rates any lower than zero and a diver can’t deflate their BCD any more than empty.  All you can do is face down into the abyss and kick for your life.  Remember, this is to prevent from hitting the surface too fast and getting “the bends” or even popping a lung.

But all of this is only during the full moon and remember, I was sick in Koh Phaniang during the last full moon.  My dive instructor today was from Western Australia and loved to “dive in the blue”.  This is where you dive far away from the sea wall and your only reference point is the sun shining down from above.  That is, IF you have clear enough water to see the surface.  He told us today that we would be doing a little blue water diving, that’s where you can see the biggest creatures.  If you are at all clostraphobic, please don’t read on.

So there we were, swimming away from the sea wall.  The visibility was good, about 30 meters, but we swam at least 50 meters away from the wall.  All around us was dark blue.  Look left, Blue. Look Right, Blue.  Look up and it felt like we were 1,000 feet down (we were 100 feet).  And now we wait…….. Hopefully a 15 foot hammer head will happen to pass us bye.  I’ve got to admit, this was the most scared I’ve been in all of my diving.  Much scarier than a night dive.  There is only one reference point and that is up.  And up isn’t exactly obvious.  All I could think of was that my guide does this all the time and knows what he is doing.  I have to tell you, I wanted to hold his freaking hand until I could see the wall again.  I looked up and saw minuscule ripples at the surface.  Ten minutes of that was enough.

We got back to the wall and eventually up on the boat.  I chatted with him about why the island of Sipadan is now a military base.  He said it’s because of the pirates.  The Philippines are just a few hours away and they don’t want any of the pirates to start consistently praying on the dive boats.  Consistently?

He told me a story of years ago before the military base.  A group of divers were under water as a pirate ship approached.  The dive boats have 400 horse power so they can out run the pirates, but they can’t just leave the diver.  So the captain of the dive ship drove around in circles at full speed while banging a wrench to the steel hull of the ship.  This lets the divers know there is an emergency and time to come up.

The divers scrambled on the boat just in time to get away from the pirates.  Not every boat was this lucky.

And to think that my dumb ass was considering hiring a boat to take me across to the Philippines for a day. There is danger here, but not with the locals.  Unfortunately, all the divers don’t go more than 20 feet away from the dive shop, the bar, and the Internet cafe.  They are all intimidated by the people here, which is a shame because I find them very kind and harmless.

Also on the fishing with dynamite front, there is a new law.  You are to be shot on site if caught.  Yikes, a little harsh, they mean business.  Another no no is fishing with cyanide, yep people really do it.

I’m still working on getting this damn video online.  I think tomorrow is going to be the big day!

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The Mighty Sipadan

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

“Heaven on earth, well, underwater!”-me

Wait until you see the video of the day I had. Malaysia > Borneo > Semporna > Sipadan > Barracuda Point = one of the top 3 dive sites in the world. All I can say is that this place is magical. I told you a while ago that Koh Phi Phi Leh was the most beautiful place in the world but I think that his island really is. I cried wolf.

On top of that I had one of those perfect storm of events. 3/5 people going on the fun dive (not part of a course) didn’t show up so the dive was much less crowded than it could have been. The dive master was a local who had been diving here for 11 years (9,000 dives). Even to this day, he has a ton of enthusiasm. He was also the videographer for the dive too.

It was kind of lame because there was some Danish “Kid” that was posing to run the show. The truth is, my guide has been running this place since this Kid was in Diapers. My guide didn’t seem to mind taking the back burner, but when he gave an order under water, I followed him (the local, you know, with 9000 dives and 11 years experience)

There was a dive master in training at the rear of the group who was a Norweigan in her 40s. She had only dove the spot the day before and you could tell that she was a little apprehensive about the responsibility of keeping us safe. Next we had “my dive buddy” (as far as i was concerned, the local (you know the one with 9000 dives, and 11 years experience AT THIS SPOT) was my partner. She was a Russian gal who was completely clueless under water (but two levels above me in certification). Bumping into everyone, you will see on the video how I began to kick my fins in order to keep her away from me. If she got remotely close to me, she would be kicked by me constantly. And wait until you see where she keeps her hands. Right out in front of her, like she would loose her hands if she couldn’t stare at them constantly.

My guide, on the other hand, was a total bad ass. As the Russian ran out of air (50/200 bars) I had 90/200 Bars, but my guide had 120/200 bars! He had all that extra air even after he swam circles around us for the hour.

I’ll write another post about what I actually saw under water shortly. Probably after I have a chance to watch the video again. It’s about 30 minutes long and isn’t edited much, so you’ll want click on it (via youtube) and walk away from your computer. You might want to fast forward parts. And if my computer were working, I would edit it to a mean 5 minutes (which I might still do if I can get my computer working again by Japan).

$$$$$ I watched the Video $$$$$$$$$

It really doesn’t do it justice, but It will give you an idea :)

The first dive was definitely the best part of my diving career by far.  Better than mantas, better than the whale shark.  It was the Utopian society that went on under water.  It was the sheer display of over kill opulence.  Might as well have been one big underwater orgasm.  And was it the best moment in all my travels?  Oh yeah!  Best moment in my life?  Well there was a moment when I rolled onto my back and put my arms behind my back and looked up at the swirling ball of 1000s of fish and just relaxed.  Ya, that was the best moment in my life.

The movie doesn’t really capture all the colors and grandeur, but it will give you an idea.  The thing that makes this place so special is that it’s all going on at once.  and it’s only a few feet away from the short pier that leads to the island.  It just drops off into oblivion and “the big show”.

The island above water is also completely beautiful as well though and much less crowded than usual.

Check back on this post to see if the youtube video is ready yet.  This internet is incredibly slow so it very well might not be ready for a day or so.

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Semporna

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

I’m in Borneo now after a long night of travel.  This place is as beautiful as Thailand in the water except that there is tons of trash floating around.  The locals don’t seem to think that there is a problem with squandaring the beauty that they have.  On an unrelated note.  This town in particular is largely Muslim.  The only major structure in the whole town is a Mosque (much more interesting looking than Churches as far as the archetecture goes.)

This is one of those towns that is out there.  I am in the only Internet Cafe in town at the moment.  you’ll want to check this out on the map at the bottom of the post (if I can get it to work) and see how close it is to Indonesia as well as the Philippines.  I met a really nice man last night that was the Philippines and he said that I could take a 2 hour boat ride to get there from here.  In fact, there are a lot of Illegal immagrants here from the Philipines.  On an unrelated note, sadly these waters are the home of shark fining as well as fishing with Dynamite.

So why am I here anyway?  Because, this is the home of one of the top 5 dive sites in all the world, Sipadan!

This is a 2000 meter drop off that leads to a reef/island.  This makes for giant schools of fish, turtles, and sharks.  When I say giant, I mean so many fish that the water goes dark.  They have been known to block out the sun completely.

The guys work at an own the local dive shop are all really nice, but the way the government runs the seas here is atrocious.

It’s hard to get online here, but there isn’t exactly much to do here other that this and dive.  One of the fellow divers told me of a place that consistently gets 10-20 manta rays every day in Indonesia.  It’s about a one day trip each way that I will have to leave for next time.  I’m already cutting into my Japan time as we speak.  That’s the beauty of traveling though, there’s always something that you missed!

On the Malaysian culture front, I talked to some of the locals and found out why some people are very dark, some people are pale, and some people are in the middle.  There are three major Groups of people In KL, Indians, Chinese, and Malay people.  This makes the food situation out of this world as you can imagine!!

Tomorrow I dive Sipadan.  I had to use two different dive companies to get 3 days of Sipadan diving in (a total of 9 dives!)

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Who Are You?

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

I thought it might be a fun exercise to realize how big the reader base is for my blog.  Just exactly how many of you are there out there?  Well it changes a little from month to month, but now I’ve got a solid three month’s data.  I can confidently say that I have 85 addicts to this blog.  That means 85 people check my blog over 200 times per month.  Now this could easily be thrown off by RSS readers which are simply a piece of software that check the blog in real time (over 200 times per month).  But there are definitely more latent readers as well.  In the last 30 days there have been 186 people who have visited the site.  This isn’t 186 hits, this is individuals.  Not bad really if you think about it.  This site started with 100 people who checked it within the month.  Almost a 100% reader base growth; eat your heart out LA times online!!

 

Ok, I know probably much more than most people that that number could be inflated from people clearing their cookies, renewing their IP addresses and a dozen other reasons, but I like to see the trend changing.  I like to see that people from 20 countries ( and 8 states in the US) are reading my blog as well.  That’s fun.  But don’t worry, I can’t track each individual with a unique identity, so you are still fully anonymous.  I can just see the Macro level numbers (I Promise).

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Weapons Grade Travelers

Monday, May 18th, 2009

As I had predicted once I got off of the English route around the world, I would meet a higher variety of traveler.  (The English Route is the way that 70% of the English population travel once they turn 18 years of age.  The Route includes and is limited to Thailand, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Singapore, and sometimes Hollywood/Las Vegas)  It must be the route that all the English travel agents push when they are in “College”.  But hey, It’s better than most Americans not traveling at all.

Once you take one step outside of this yellow brick road, the odds of you hearing those same spring breakers is low.  Instead there are travelers of a different caliber on the road.  They are the ones that don’t even use backpacks because backpacks are more of an image thing than a utility thing.  They usually speak more than a little bit of the language, have local girlfriends, and maybe a local address too. 

These are the guys who live abroad.  They are the ones who come back to where they came from to work on oil derricks as a ruff neck just long enough to save up the money to get back at Asia for another 5 months.  These are the pseudo citizens who won’t ever own a car again because it just doesn’t make any sense to them when you are abroad for at least half the year. 

These are the types of guys who fit into the character family of Hannibal Lecter in the sense that they are ultra resourceful, very smart, very tormented, and believe in the simplest form of ethics.  Hannibal Lecter, for instance, would essentially kill and eat those who he found rude.  That’s right, rude.  If you were just a decent person in life and treated someone with the most basic dignity, then you would most certainly keep your life.  That’s of course what made him crazy, the fact that he would repay a rude act with a deadly one.

These travelers are weathered.  They aren’t interested in everywhere you’ve been or everywhere you are going.  That conversation rightfully so bores them.  They’ve already had that one a trillion times and it now makes them sick to their stomach. 

I can relate to that.  But these guys have got baggage, figuritively :)  It doesn’t take much to see that they have serious mommy issues.  They don’t find anything wrong with prostitution.  They don’t find anything wrong with cheating on their local girlfriends.  They are jaded in the sense that they think it is a dog eat dog world.  Though they believe that man is essentially good (not depraved) they just don’t have a bunch of sympathy for people who are not as “do it yourself” as themselves. 

I can see their origin in their eyes clearly.  Most of these guys started out as a deeply idealistic (probably also romantic), do it yourself types of guys.  Then comes along life and serves up a severe helping of, well life, and crushes their hopes and dreams down into a paste of pain and jade.  The key difference here is that they couldn’t recover really.  They ran away.  They never addressed their problems and just created a new reality that they could master and justify.  No one from home is there to keep them honest to themselves.  They are alone, running, who knows for how long. 

I won’t say that I’ll never be a weapons grade traveler, because I know that will doom me to being wrong.  It’s like getting a tattoo of someones name.  But what I can say is that I am mindful of this destination and in being so I believe that it will lower the chances that I will become of it. 

So tomorrow I leave KL for Borneo to do some top level diving.  I leave my hostel that has plastic doors and plastic deadbolts.  Plastic sinks and plastic faucets.  On the computer front, the Pakistanis could not figure out how to fix my computer, so they didn’t charge me a cent.  This business practice elated me.  I was expecting them to charge me for the hours of effort, but no, they simply apologised to me and gave me my computer back. 

 

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