Friday, December 31, 2010

Things every travelor should have

1. tea tree oil

2. A deck of cards

3. A sarong ( i could write a 6 page double sided, single spaced praise for the sarong but will shorten it to: the sarong is to travelors what Paul claimed he was in the bible-all things to all people. the sarong is a towel, a blanket, a pillow, a laundry bag, a hand bag, a beach cover up, a skirt if you need to go into a temple, a flag for spotting a group, an umbrella, you name it...)

4. A friend at home to skype with

5. $20 cash

6. band aids

7. a lighter

8. tiger balm

9. good socks and good shoes

10. febreeze or dryer sheets

11. something other than an effing plastic bag to store crap in

12. a good book. or at least a long book.

13. wet wipes and/or a small thing of tissues

14. nail clippers

15. A small sewing kit

Dirty sounding places I have been (no particular order)

1. Bangkok (Thailand)

2. House of Hung (singapore)

3. Lake titiwangsa (malaysia)

4. Dang wangi LRT station (Malaysia)

5. Mt. Whakapapa (NZ- in nz maori lang, the "wh" is an f sound)

6. Hooker Boulevard (Queensand, Australia)

7. Cockenblock Dr. (VIC, Australia)

8. Butts Wynd (Stirling, Scotland)

To be continued...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Notes on Asian Culture

If I ever have children I'm not going to discourage them from staring at asians. In fact, I'm going to encourage them to do so. why? Simple. Asians stare so much that it is clearly their preffered way of looking at anyone, so return the favor and stare back. They'll love it! THey'll be thrilled I'm raising such culturally knowledgeable offspring. Asians love to stare. They stare probably more than I ever did as kid, and these are grown ass adults. It began on my way to China, My connecting flight was through toronto. I was one of 2 white people at the terminal. If their eyes projected laser beams there would be little of me left.
The staring grew more intense when I got to China, and as I traveled throughout Malaysia, thailand, laos and cambodia, the staring remained consistent, even though thailand has a huge tourist market and the few places where I went in Lao and cambodia were very common tourist destinations. So if you see an Asian, stare at them! It will make them feel at home. Other fun ways to cross the cultural divide are to make really offensive comments about their weight and physical appearance in general, or you can cut in front of them in a line.

Lines in Asia are probably the best/funnest thing about the area. If you ever see an Asian line, you will have a hard time discerning whether or not it is an actual line, or just a group of people standing around. The rules in an Asian line are simple, if you are standing near the front/entrance, you are part of the line. If you are standing next to someone in the line, you are part of the line. If you are standing next to some one, who is next to someone in the line, you are part of the line. Finally, if anyone leaves more than a millimeter of space between themselves and the person in front them, this means that they are not really interested in going through and if you want, you can cut in front of them. This is all very confusing and annoying for the tourist who has just arrived, but it becomes a very useful way of doing things if you're in a hurry, or if you're tired of standing in a line.

Asians are also fond of being hospitable. For example, if you buy something and unknowingly pay triple what its worth, the seller will have an attack of conscience and then give you some sugar cane to suck on. They also truly enjoy making sweet deals. Maybe its just me, and my air of worldly knowledge, but they always and without fail offer me specials deals and prices. "This shirt 2 dollar but i make special 10% off for you" is very special treatment I have grown accustomed to.

So now that you know some of the special, secret ins and outs of asian culture, pack your bags and get out there, you've got a global economy to stimulate!

Luang Prabang, Laos

There are a bunch of street kids who wander around selling post cards, braclets, and the usual fare. THey are all over Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. Some of their sales pitches are pretty good too. "I need money to go to school tomorrow." "I need money to start my own buisness." "Where you from? Texas? oh...I know...AUSTIN!" Or my favorite girl, a very dead pan, and uninterested sales pitch of..."buy something?"
This girl was maybe 9 or 10, but being asian, looked about 7 or 8, and would walk up and down the main street in Luang Prabang with a box of braclets and magnets tied around her neck. She'd walk up to everyone walking down the sidewalk, everyone eating at tables by the street, everyone shopping at the street stalls, basically any one visible and white was getting approached and every. single. time. her sales pitch was, "buy something?" Accompanied by a bored expression and a hopeful tone. SHe was usually turned down, and I got the feeling employee of the month was not a reward system put in place by the parent or grandparent she was working for. I watched her for a while attempting to sell a ring to a moderately interested back packer. The tourist girl changed her mind when she couldn't bargain the 20 cent ring down to 10 cents and walked off. The little sales girl was EXTREMELY agitated to have had her hopes built up so high just to be shot down again, but quitting is a luxury preserved for the rich, and she knew she must carry on. She approached a few more tourists with her traditional sales pitch, "buy something?" Before making her way over to me.

"buy something?"
-no thanks
"Have nice bracet, have nice post card."
-no thanks, I dont wear jewelry and I dont write letters.
(exaserbated, reproachful look accompanied by deep, forlorn sigh) "BUY. SOMETHING!"
-ok then, here's 10,000 kip, what do you want me to take?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thames Coromandel, New Zealand, 2009

My time on the coromandel was spent, in large part, trapped in the country in a large holiday park, cleaning up after a few guests and several men (roughly 30-40 of them) between the ages of 22-45 from the soloman islands. Technically they are an english speaking people, but honestly, communicatuion with these dudes was a real struggle. They could understand me, and with a little effort on both parts, I could understand them, but more often than not they were too terrified of me to speak to me, or even look in my direction. I once passed one of the older ones in the hallway and instead of walking by me like a normal person, he froze, turned to face the wall, and giggled uncontrolably until I had passed by him. Any way, thats not what this story is about, just a fun side note so that you understand that as well as being out in the country, I was quite isolated as well. Sure I was living/working in a holiday park, but this park was full men the size of pygmies who were probably less adept than actual pygmies at having a normal conversation with me. Any how, I chose to stay there for 2 weeks, in order to adequately explore the surrounding areas. I wanted to see the hot water beach, and do the hike where they filmed that one part of the narnia movies, cathedral cove. Plus I heard the little township there was worth some time as well. So I put up with being a maid and the soloman island boys in order to invest in some quality "jessie/New zealand" time. One thing you should know, if you haven't been to New Zealand, is New Zealand is covered in Germans. For some reason every German youth in the year 2008/2009 decided that if they were going to learn/perfect their english, NZ was the place to do it. So now there are thousands of Germans running around with obnoxious kiwi/german accents. Sick. So any way this German girl turns up, and as its the off season, its just me and her staying in this little cottage that the holiday park owners are using as a back packer suite until the kiwi picking season is over and the islander guys leave. So me and this German girl are chilling out, we ask the usual traveler "get to know you" questions as we are sharing a room, kitchen, toilet, and living area for the next few days. Any way, through the course of the conversation she reveals to me that her favorite actress/person is Xena- warrior princess, and that this is actually a huge part of why she is in NZ in the first place. She then proceeds to pull out from her luggage: Xena-warrior princess playing cards, DVDs, and a lap top with a background picture of a soaking wet, leather clad, xena posing with a sword and a come hither expression on her face. Then this german girl decides that now is the right time to tell me that "jessie is my favorite name for a woman," and that I remind her a lot of her ex-girl friend. Yeah. So. Moral of the story? I'm one of 2 girls surrounded by 30 or more island men doing physical labor, and I get hit on by the other girl.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Being a Minority

There aren't many americans who travel overseas, and when they do travel they generally keep it to island getaways and occasionally Europe. I've met a few US citizens here in Aus, but we all generally avoid each other. I think we all develop a "this is my turf, I'm the unique one here, get out" mentality.

One of the greatest things about my current situation is I'm surrounded by Irish people. It's great fun b/c i get to say things like, "we'll call round to the lads house in a bit" and no one laughs and everyone knows what i mean. Its also fun trying to guess a. what words they're saying, and b. what the hell they're talking about. Example: "whats da craic, is your one cumin ta meet us der?"

I'm begining to hear the difference between "dubs" (people from Dublin) and people from the north. (Not northern Ireland, just those north of Dublin.)

I'm also the only person in a 5 mile radius who has the ability to tan. They are all as lily white as a newborns ass, despite the fact that all 7 boys work outside. The ones that are "tan" are actually just really freckled gingers or permanently red. It looks like they have rosacea on their whole upper bodies.