A Travellerspoint blog

Dude Standing on the Roadside

Miri, Borneo

It occured to me as I was standing in the rain at a bus stop-less bus stop, gazing into the middle of nowhere outside of a "crocodile farm"; that in my own sick way, I was really enjoying this. The woman in the croc farm had informed me that the bus would surely show up at 1:00, 1:30 or 2:00 p.m. These, it seemed, were not options, but rather possibilities.

And thus, there I was, standing roadside wondering to myself if the woman had mis-understood me. Perhaps she had thought I had asked, where is the best place to stand awkwardly in the rain for an hour and half? If that were in fact the case, then I had surely found the perfect spot.

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You might be asking yourself, given my hefty dose of sarcasm here, why in the world would this fella be enjoying this particular moment of clear confusion and helplessness? Well, I might be asking myself the same thing. But, given a world of alternatives - sitting in a meeting, waking up early for work, driving in traffic, paying my taxes - standing in the rain with no need to be anywhere of consequence any time soon, or really any time at all for that matter, really seemed like a nice way to spend an afternoon.

There is a writer named J. Maarten Troost, who has written two books about his time living in the South Pacific. In his latest book, he recounts moving back to Washington D.C and taking on a banking job before chucking it all and moving back to the South Pacific. In assessing his life, he looks back on a day living in Kiribati where he spent an entire day attempting to move a dead pig from his yard. Not a pleasant activity, but as he mentions, that was a great day, because at least something interesting had happened.

That, is why I love travel. Something interesting just always seem to happen. No matter how mundane.

Okay then, now that I've gotten that out of me, I'm off to catch a plane to the Kelabit Highlands of Borneo. Will probably be out of touch for a bit, but the modern world has surprised me before, so you never know.

Posted by john7buck 20:36 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

"Internet Buddies"

Not just for creepy old dudes anymore

semi-overcast 26 °C

Some of you at home have mocked me for having what I have termed my "Internet travel buddies". Surely, you all thought it wouldn't be long until I showed up on Dateline NBC trying to explain why I had chosen to arrive at the home of a thirteen year old girl with a bottle of champagne, some fuzzy handcuffs, a skinny mustache and some smooth talk'in.

Kidding aside, having arrived in Kuala Lumpur and having been greeted at the train station by a guy I previously only knew as user name Hien, I instantly knew this Internet invention was a good thing.

"The wire is on fire!" zzzzzzppp. Power off. This is what just went down here at my hostel on Borneo. I'll be damned, she was right. The wire from the washing machine, was in fact, on fire. And she did in fact cut the power.

Man, I love this stuff.

Anyway, back to good old Hien the Internet buddy. To quote Billy Madison, "man, am I glad I called that guy. After a marathon of travel that took me from Denver to LA, to Taipei and finally to Kuala Lumpur; I arrived at one of the cleanest, most user friendly airports I've ever had the pleasure of passing through. Beat the hell out of LAX, I can tell you that. That said, I had no idea what to do with myself in KL.

Lucky for me, Hien and his cousin Jennifer met me at KL Sentral, which is where a super fast train whizzes you to from the airport.

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Since I fear another "wire is fire" moment here, I'm not going to get into too much detail, but suffice it to say, my two days in KL were activity filled from the moment I arrived, to the moment I almost missed my plane to Borneo because Hien was doing his best to track down a Durrian for me to try before I left. Oh yeah, a durrian is apparently a fruit, the smell of which most Westerners seemingly compare to old socks, but Hien assured me the SE Asians love it. But I digress.

Although, we did way too much sightseeing to adequately describe it here, what I think I found the most intersesting in my first two days in Malaysia was learning about the three primary ethnic groups who live in KL. And we saw them all, as well as where they worship. Malaysia, though not a Muslim State, is a deeply Muslim country and the influence is everywhere. I'm also here during Ramadan, which has been quite interesting to watch as they "break fast" when the sun sets each day.

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The second main group living in KL are the Indians. Each morning, Hien would arrive at my hostel and we would eat breakfast at the Indian restaurant down below. Apparently, corn flakes and coffee are not a big hit in India, so each morning I ate some interesting variety of a pancake with curry sauce. Quite good, actually.

And the third main group living in KL, are the Chinese. Hien was kind enough to take me to several Chinese Buddhist temples and I think these experiences were among the highlights for me.

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Since I'm realizing that even I wouldn't be reading down this far, I'm going to leave it at that. But a big thank you goes out from me to Hien and Jennifer. You made my stay in KL exceptional and extremely memorable.

Posted by john7buck 02:21 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (5)

Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs

snow 4 °C

I'm sitting here trying to do the math. Somehow the time space continuum always throws me for a loop. Today is Saturday. One week from today I will be crossing the International Date Line; so technically speaking, one week from today does not exist for me. I leave Los Angeles on Friday, spend umpteen hours on a plane and arrive in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday afternoon. I think I just blew my own mind.

What I'd really like to write about here is something much more tangible and concrete; cosmic signs and celestial allignment. That's right, are the moon and stars trying to tell me something? I'm not so sure about that. I personally like to think of the moon as that really cool guy with sunglasses singing about Big Macs and Fries. Now there's a sign. The moon is telling me to buy Big Macs. Easy enough for me to understand.

But let's take a look at a few of the recent signs this jokester moon has been throwing me over the past several weeks as I prepare for my trip to SE Asia.

1st sign: A small golden retriever I was dog-sitting knocks an old woman off of her bicyle; or more perhaps more accurately frightens her with his playful golden retriever antics. Whatever the case, the woman falls down and breaks her hip and elbow. In America, we have this pesky little thing called a lawsuit which looms over me. Sign? Add in the fact that the dogs' owner is from Taiwan, and woooohooooonannoonanoo. Definite sign: Asia is trouble.

2nd Sign: On a recent raft trip in Utah, I'm running around barefoot and I cut open the bottom of my foot on a rock, probably requiring stitches. Not one to end a good raft trip, I rub a little sand in there and call it good. Sign? Well, walking is generally a pretty helpful thing while travelling.

3rd Sign: Hobbling around on my ankle from the injured foot, my back is thrown out of whack to the point where I needed to be essentially carried to my car to get to the chiropractor. Sign? Again, being able to stand upright often comes in handy while backpacking around Asia.

4th Sign: While attending a UN Conference in New York, the Prime Minister of Thailand receives word that, well his services are no longer needed back home. That and the Thai military has tanks surrounding his old haunts to ensure that he doesn't just go ahead and try to govern anyway. With a 4 day stop-over in Bangkok and it being the city of my departure home, could this be another sign? Images of tanks in the streets aren't exactly "money shots" for Chamber of Commerce ad execs.

So of course all of these signs are out there telling me perhaps my timing is bad, and oh yeah, I should probably buy a Big Mac. But here's the deal - where are the signs that tell me YOU CANNOT GO. Having read a lifetime of Taurus horoscopes telling me things like "be skeptical of people in red hats today", I've never really put a whole lot of stock in what the stars are telling me. Not that I don't believe in them entirely, but a little more information would be helpful astro-counselors!

So I look at these signs like this. The dog woman has turned out to be incredibly reasonable; only looking for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses; my foot has healed up just in time and my back feels just fine now. If there are a few tanks in the streets of Bangkok when I get there, well imagine the photo-ops. So unless I get a sign in the next week that tells me, buddy, do not get out of bed today, I'm going with the theory that the Moon Man is just trying to tell me to be careful. If you're going to be jumping around on rock outcroppings, wear a pair of Nike's dummy. If you don't want trouble in Bangkok, definitely do not offer to keep an eye on someone's dog over there and then let it go urinate on a tank.

So for all of you worried about me out there, you have my word that I have seen the writing on the wall and will take all precautions necessary to arrive home safely! But I'm not going to buy a Big Mac whatever that smooth-talking Moon Man says; they're just kind of gross.

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Posted by john7buck 10:36 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (1)

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