Thursday, July 4, 2013
One monkey bar.
Two monkey bars.
I was stuck. My tiny little arms just weren't strong enough to continue. The only problem was that at that point in my life, I was only barely taller than I am now. I probably measured in at around 3 feet, and as a result, I couldn't touch the ground. That left upwards of two feet between my feet and the ground. As far as I knew, it was too far of a fall to survive. So I hung on, hoped for rescue, and waited.
I can't remember how long I waited or whether anyone came to my rescue, but that isn't really relevant to the story, so I'll skip it. Today, I climbed to the top of Macau Tower at a height of 338 meters (1,108 feet) attached my safety harnesses, leaned back, and let go. It was supremely terrifying and mindblowing. If I had started the climb drunk (fuck that, but I'm saying this hypothetically) that lean by itself would have rendered me sober as a Quaker judge. On the way back down the tower, while scanning the surrounding landscape, I spotted a pair of monkey bars.
I think I was still more scared when I was four.
Friday, June 21, 2013
Today, my alarms went off at 4:30AM. I was not pleased, but I only permitted myself one snooze before I got up and headed toward the road. Romeo, the driver I met when I initially arrived in Siquijor town, met me at the gate. When I first tried to get on, I bashed my knee into the metal frame of the sidecar. It still hurts. Pretty sure I bruised the bone. Anyway, Romeo drove me to the airport. Once we got there, he told me to use the Ocean Jet ferry, since it's faster. I went over to the Ocean Jet kiosk only to discover that their 6AM ferry was *cancelled!*
"Hm," I said. "Well, no matter. This other kiosk is selling ferry tickets as well."
So I go over to the other kiosk, wait until a couple people have finished their transaction, and tell the girl I need a ticket for the 5:50AM ferry. She says I can't because there isn't one. She then tells me there isn't another ferry until 8AM! I give her my "Oh fuck" face, and explain that I have a flight at *9AM*. I ask if there are any other ferries. She may have waffled a bit, then "remembered" (scare quotes may or may not be appropriate) that there is a ferry at 6:30AM. I am suspicious that she was holding a seat for a friend, but I let her think she's tricked me.
Anyway, we eventually boarded, and the ferry ride began. I kept glancing at the mass of land that was our destination, but it seemed to only get marginally larger despite the increasingly significant passage of time. At 7:20, we were still not there. Then, at 7:45, we were still not there. Then, we arrived at the port... at 8:12AM!
"Oh, bother," I said.
With lightning fast speed, I made my way toward the front of the boat and twitched in the queue that formed and slogged its way off the boat. Once I touched land, I jogged toward the trikes I saw in the distance. One man, obviously a local, noticed my haste and asked where I was headed.
"How much to the airport?" I asked.
"120," he replied.
I agreed and he led me to a trike which was to be driven by another man. As I got on, he may have been discussing waiting for other passengers. A man who must have realized the situation asked me what time my flight was. I told him, and they all burst into action. The man kickstarted his bike, two men got on, and the ride started. As we pulled away, he slowed slightly and asked how much I was paying. I told him 120.
"150," he said.
He started to elaborate on the reasons why, but I didn't care. A missed flight was phenomenally more expensive than the extra 30P (.75USD) he wanted. I agreed to his price, and he laid on the gas. As it turned out, that extra 30P earned me what may be coined "Driving as if on fire and/or PCP". The other two passengers, well aware of my predicament, didn't even wait for the trike to stop when they needed to get off. They departed and hit the ground running as the trike continued on its way. He wheeled through traffic, onto sidewalks, past bicycles, and as fast as his motorcycle/sidecar amalgamation could go. I arrived at the airport at approximately 8:22AM. I complimented his driving, paid him with the money I had already retrieved from my wallet, and continued inside.
Once inside, a man checked my large bag for... something. I then proceeded to check in, pay my terminal fee, proceed through a second security section (the metal detector was broken, so they had to check my bags by hand. They missed the 2 liter bottle of water in my daypack), and into the waiting area by 8:32AM.
That's right. Two security stages, check-in, and terminal fee in *less than 10 minutes.*
Another ten minutes later, and boarding was announced. When I walked onto the plane, an attendant plane, an attendant offered me a piece of gum. I think it was from her personal stash.
And that is how my day started. Cheers.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
I've moved around quite a bit since my last post. I'll try to sum it up without much padding. Let's see... In Sabang, I met Jake and Lisa, who I then traveled with for about three weeks. We went from Sabang to Tablas Island, where we stayed at a nice little place (the name of which I cannot remember) with extremely nice hosts. We took a day trip from there to Looc (Pronounced Loh-Ock, roughly) to a fish sanctuary. There were many fish! There was also a clam field, meaning there were basically tons of clams *all big enough to eat my skull.* I also saw seahorses (I've seen a lot of them since then), and a puffer fish who apparently had some sort of serious and probably fatal problem. Not sure exactly what was wrong with him, but normally, if you see a puffer fish, they freak out and puff up (and become spiky) so you don't want to eat them. In my case, I only noticed the puffer when he was 5 feet away (at the surface of the water, no less), and he then "chased" me fifty feet back to the floating dock-thing. It was really cool at first, and then it was scary. Have you ever seen a puffer fish's face? They are a bit hideous. When they're steadily pursuing you, have clouded-over eyes and are only barely managing to swim, it's a bit unnerving. The damn thing came to within probably 8 inches of my face at one point, and I had to perform a very dramatic water maneuver to escape.
Anyway, from there we went to Carabou Island, which was hailed as "the next Borocay". There was pretty much nothing there aside from gorgeous beach, but almost everyone wanted 1500 Pisos ($37) a night for a room. We found a cheaper place and left there for the *actual* Borocay shortly thereafter. Borocay was... interesting. It's basically the place you want to go if you want to go to a lot of bars, do some water activities (boat rides, parasailing, jetskiing, etc), maybe pick up a girl who is definitely not a prostitute, maybe pick up a lady who is definitely not a boy, and maybe get an ending to your massage that is pleasant but definitely not happy. I was offered a happy massage ending, but was robbed that night and left the next day, so I couldn't take part. Oh well, maybe next time!
Anyway, Jake, Lisa and I parted ways (or rather, I parted ways with them), and I came here, to the fabled land of Siquijor. Here, I've seen a bit of waterfall, a great bit of beach and ocean, geckos having sex (pretty serious stuff, geckos don't play nice), and... the milky way. I'm not sure I have ever been able to see the milky way with such clarity. Maybe I never have. It is amazing.
As for the book, I am going to be sending a few questions to my editor, but aside from that almost all fixes have been made. I'm waiting on a sketch from the artist I chose to do the book cover ( http://victor-lam-art.deviantart.com/gallery/ ) . Aside from that, just a few other things stand between me and publishing the my first book! Here's to hoping it doesn't flop, stain my fledging reputation, and propel me into a downward spiral that can only end in me laying dead in a gutter, covered with horny geckos and/or ladyboys.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
WALL 'O TEXT ALERT - 3 busses, 1 ferry, 3 jeepneys, one motorbike and a short walk to my destination. 29 hours. Where the hell am I, what the hell is going on, seriously.
I left Sagada at 5AM on Tuesday, April 5th and arrived at my destination (Tuna Joe Backpackers and Condo's in Puerto Galera on Mindoori) at 9AM on Wednesday, April 6th. What strange ride. And it wasn't even weird until I arrived in Mindoori.
Hold on, let me warn you: If you are in any way offended by gay sex, stop reading.
That doesn't mean what it sounds like. Or does it? I report, you decide.
Let me start at the beginning. I left Sagada at 5AM. The ~5 hour bus ride took me to Bagio. There, I asked a guard how to get to Manila. He told me it was too far, that I should take a taxi. "Screw you" I whispered to myself after walking far enough away that he couldn't hear me. "I'll get a jeepney, instead."
Sidenote: A jeepney, for those who don't know (Pretty much everyone?), is basically a jeep/bus hybrid that costs *much* less than taxis. For instance, I previously took a taxi from where I staying in Manila to the bus station for 400 Pisos, about $10USD. On my way back from the bus station on a jeepney, I paid 8 Pisos, which is about... 20 cents USD. Granted, I had to walk 6 blocks from where he dropped me off, but the point is that jeepneys are cheaper than taxis.
Anyway, I tell the jeepney driver where I want to go: Victory Liner station. He then takes me down to a bus station. I walk around for ten minutes, looking at all the busses before asking and being told that I had to take a taxi to get there. "Screw that," I muttered. "I'll take a jeepney." So I go to the road and ask another jeepney driver. He says he doesn't go there, and to go to the other side of the road. So I go to the other side of the road and ask another jeepney driver. He tells me to go to the other side of the road, so I hail down a fucking taxi and have him take me to Victory Liner station.
That bus ride took me from Bagio to... Cabau? Idk, it took 6 hours to get there. So let's see, that brings us to... around 6PM, at which point I need to get to Batangas City, the jumping off point to Puerto Galera. So the bus ride there take about... 3.5 hours, maybe 4? I don't know, I was tired. So I arrive at the port of Batangas City, and enter the queue to purchase tickets to Puerto Galera... but there ARE no tickets to Puerto Galera, because those only go on sale earlier in the day rather than at 11PM. There are only tickets to Calapan, which I am later told is a two hour drive from Puerto Galera. Oh well, I have a room reserved in Puerto Galera already (I am not a clever man), so I press onward.
Gilbert and Joann, a soon-to-be-wed couple, chatted with me for a bit on the roughly 3 hour ferry ride to Calapan. Since they were awesome people, they invited me onto their family's jeepney and gave me a free ride to a jeepney stop which would start the day at... 4AM. Or 6AM. I'm pretty sure I heard different reports from the same people. It was a little before 2AM at the time. Anyway, there is a bar right behind the stop, so I go in, order a beer and sit down to read.
This is where shit got weird.
Twice, an older woman pushed a younger couple onto the floor to get them to dance. I don't think that's weird, but maybe she was doing it for my benefit. I only say that because later on, the older woman said, "Hiii" as she walked past. I smiled, said "Hi", and went back to reading. Then, my Kindle battery alerted me that it was going to die, so I asked if I could plug into the wall. The bartender said I could, and another barkeep helped move my things. Then, the barkeep got chatty. He started the usual questions: Where I was from, whether I was alone, what my job was, the usual. Then he asked for my number. He had this strange shit-eating grin on his face and I'm a suspicious guy, so I figured he was up to something, but I paid 40 Pisos ($1USD) for the sim card, so who the hell cares.
"But Jim," you ask. "Why did you give him your email?"
Somehow, that seemed safer at the time. I don't know, shut up, stop asking questions. Anyway, I ask him why he wants my number. He says maybe he wants to ask my advice on something. I ask what, and he gets all weird, as if his coworkers or customers wouldn't be cool hearing what he has to ask me. I ask how much a water is, he says it can be free. I take the water and drink the damn thing because: free (unopened) water.
So eventually, I realize the boy is gay and that he's not looking for advice. He's 20, btw. I figure hey, I'll let him ask his question. What's the harm? I don't want to scare the kid. Hell, I'll show him some acceptance, the poor bastard. So I-
-But wait, hold on, some other guy keeps talking to me. I mention where I'm headed and he offers to drive me there on his tricycle (it's a 1.5-2 hour drive, and he's wasted) for only 500 Pisos (I ended up paying 120 for two jeepneys and a motorbike ride)! I turn him down roughly thirty-five times, not including my rejections of his offer to come stay in his house (He has three/four/five vacant rooms. It's free, man!) as well as his offer to take me to see the sights for free. Eventually, I accept his offer so he'll leave. I have no intention of calling him. Ever.
So I get back to talking with Gaybo. They're closing up, so I go out to a gazebo outside. He joins me and asks... questions. I let him ask them. Why not? What harm could it possibly do?
No, I won't have sex with you. No, you cannot give me a blowjob. No, you cannot touch my penis. No, seriously, you cannot touch it. No, I did not just pitch a tent. No, you cannot see my penis. No, I do not want to take a piss with you.
Pretty standard stuff, I guess.
At some point, he told me he was a blogger who blogged about sex. Y'know, orgies and stuff. He wanted to blog about me, but just *couldn't* if I didn't tell him the details. I had to decline to answer about the length of my penis or how much I masturbate per day. OH RIGHT, I forgot that he asked me if he could stay with me if he came to Puerto Galera.
Eventually, the jeepney drivers finally showed up, so I went over to wait. He called me on the phone (I was forty yards away) and he kept asking questions. Eventually, I got off the phone. He came over shortly after with his friends and said to take a van instead. They guaranteed it would be 100 Pisos (what I was probably going to pay for the jeepney) and a much better ride. I figure if they wanted to do something to me, they couldn't since they were scrawny, so I walk over to discover that he wants me to ride on the tricycle/sidecar with them over to the van. There are four people that intend to cram onto this thing. He also informs me that he is going to Puerto Galera.
I decline the ride and finally, gods be thanked, he leaves. He called or texted at some other point to tell me he missed me. He also texted to tell me he was masturbating.
Pretty standard stuff, I guess.
Anyway after that, I got on a jeepney with 12 people, boxes of live crabs, dead prawns, dead clams, and god knows what else, followed by another jeepney with roughly the same cargo. Then a motorbike. I had to piss pretty much the entire time. Now, I'm here at Tuna Joe's. The toilets don't flush, the screen on the window broke when I tried to close it, one of the cabinet doors is broken, there is no wi-fi (the internet ad said there was wi-fi), and I smell like sodomized roadkill. So far, Puerto Galera gets an F+.
Time for a shower, some food, a swim, and... more showering. I feel really dirty.
Vote: How can I best prevent the situation I found myself in with Gaybo?
UPDATE: The showers use saltwater and there is a human molar on the bathroom floor.
NEW GRADE: F-
Monday, April 22, 2013
Ok, it's been a while, so here's what's happened so far. I *was* in Brunei. Then, I left with Melissa for the El Nido in the Philippines. We went swimming and snorkeling, I gashed my leg open on some rocks... it was an awesome time. Just a quick description of the place we stayed at the most. It was a resort that is best to reach by boat. Mel and I didn't know that, so we walked from where the tricycle guy dropped us off. It was a 30 minute walk in the heat and the sun, mostly through sand, while carrying all our stuff. Rough but worth it. The resort was mostly a grassy lawn (which hermit crabs crawled across at night), and a bunch of low buildings. Electricity was restricted to 10am-12pm and 6PM-6AM. The food was absolutely delicious and everyone was really nice. Anyway, we left there and went to Manila for a couple days before Mel returned to work for classes in Dubai. I stayed for a couple days there, then took a bus ~3.5 hours or to Tagaytay. Then, thinking I had left my tablet charger in Manila, I returned. Five minutes after arriving, I found my charger in a rarely used section of my bag. Figures.
After that, I decided to go to Sagada, a mountain town in the middle of nowhere with (as I discovered later) a 0% violent crime rate. One person told me it was a 6 hour bus trip. Another told me 12 hours. They were both sort of right, since it was two 6-hour bus trips. The first 6 hours was a relatively average bus trip (I assume, since I slept through most of it), and in the second 6 hours, the bus was piloted on what felt like 2,500 consecutive figure-8 patterns by either an aspiring F-1 race car driver or a suicidist. The scenery was beautiful. Eventually, I will upload the pictures. As for Sagada, I wasn't sure about it at first, but it is growing on me. It's really just one strip of road with a bunch of very small businesses run by the locals. No chain businesses, nobody bothering me to buy their things. I can get a bottle of local wine (guava wine!) for 150 Pisos, which is like $1.80USD. The people are awesome. Oh, and it's on a hill so I'm getting in better shape just by walking around. One of the best parts about this place (to me, anyway) is the smell. Pine trees are everywhere. Often, I feel like I'm at summer camp or a US State Park. Overall, not bad! Not sure where to go next, but I am thinking of Vigan, which is considered the best existing Spanish Colonial town.
As of right now, the editor, Jenn, is 1/3 done with the first edit of In Hell, and should be done with the second by May 1. I have also contacted several artists on DeviantArt.com, so hopefully something great will happen. We shall see! Sorry for the wall o' text... I'll try to be *slightly* better about consistent blogging in the future.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
I've been here for a few days now, actually. Since Melissa has been doing essentially nothing in an office (on land) for three weeks, it seemed like a pretty sweet idea to come out. Two days later, she was sent to an offshore rig. Figures. As far as I know, though, she'll be back on and tomorrow, at which time she can commence slapping my sunburn! I'm currently chugging water to try and fend off the 'pain & peels'.
Ok, so after deciding to focus my energies on In Hell, I've gone through another full edit.. plus a quick edit to fix all the dialogue formatting errors I made previously. It had been sitting at around 85K words, but is now either 92K or 95K, depending on which word processor I use to do a word count. I really think it's better than it ever has been! Here's to hoping people actually like/buy the damn thing.
Now, I need to find an editor, commission an artist to make a new cover (I have an older one, but I got a new idea, and DeviantArt looks REALLY promising), and figure out the whole 'self-publishing' bit. As it turns out, I have no idea what the hell I am doing, but it looks like I'll publish through Kindle as well as Smashwords. The latter takes an extra 10% cut, but pushes my book out to itunes, Barns & Nobles, and a few other stores, so I figure it's worth it.
What else... Not a lot going on, really. Brunei is a pretty nice country. The rat population is apparently pretty low (unlike Melaka), a fact which I think can be attributed to the high snake population. I haven't seen any snakes yet, mind you, but they're out there, waiting. Anyway, Brunei appears to be a cool mix of actual jungle and well-developed areas, though it is not without its hiccups. For instance, in 'Roomz', the hotel Mel and I stayed at when I first arrived, I looked down while dressing to see a cockroach on my hip. I don't consider myself to be too girly or too manly (I figure I'm pretty balanced, aside from my love of bubble baths), but holy shit, did I freak out. I am NOT a fan of motherfucking cockroaches. He was lucky to survive the encounter, and I'm lucky I didn't try to run away through the sliding glass door beside me.
Oh, so... one thing I haven't mentioned previously is what has struck me as the biggest different between Asia and the US: drainage systems. In the US, it's all mostly closed off. You don't see it, and you don't smell it. But here, all the drains are covered either with grating, holey cement, or absolutely nothing. As a result, you see and DEFINITELY smell it. Also, if you're not careful, you'll fall into it and snap an ankle, pass out, get robbed while unconscious, lay there until rescued, get gangrene in your foot due to the nasty shit in that ditch, and lose the whole leg. After that, it's anybody's ballgame, except yours.
Welp, I'm out of stuff to say. Bye!
Thursday, February 28, 2013
I spotted her from just a few feet away, and our eyes met. There was an air of mystery about her. Where did she come from? What did she do for a living? What was going on behind her tiny eyes? She stood partially obscured by shadow as if to add to her own mystique, then stepped out slowly from the dark, allowing me to better see her snout. Deciding to play coy, I hesitantly returned focus to my meal, then glanced back after a few moments to see her walking away, along the sidewalk. After realizing that I had noticed her departure, she stopped and stared at me again. Since her face was not particularly expressive, she might have been looking at me with anything from mild amusement to wild-eyed terror. Hinting at the latter, she scurried back into the sewer drain, which I assume was her home. Though she appeared a few more times during my meal, she eventually disappeared, leaving me to ponder the strength of my appetite, and whether I was comfortable sitting so near to a rat with unknown intentions.
I have since moved from that part of town, and am now housed at Jiong Guesthouse, within China Town. A friend landed me a deal at a guesthouse, and I'm currently paying $4.61 per day for a room with a fan, though I will be paying just under $6 starting tomorrow, since I will be upgrading to an air-conditioned room. I'll be here for another two weeks. I don't know where I'll be headed after that, but I'm torn between jungle and the beach! There is always the chance, however small, that I'll find a place with both. I could settle for a jungle with a swimmable river.
I've finished a short story I stared a while back, called The Haunt, and have edited a particular scene of In Hell to be more graphic than it was previously. I started working on another story, but I got bored with it, so I think I'm going to take the outline of another story and build on that, instead. Soon, Mel and I will start another round of reading/editing of In Hell, since I need to focus on that story and get it out on the market to, gods willing, earn me some cash monies. Hey, you never know. An actual author here, by the name of... uh... Zvenemier... has published 2 books on his travels, selling over 26,000 copies and earning 3 Euro for each, meaning he's pulled in 78,000 EU, which is a bit more than that in USD!
Is this blog post boring? I feel like I'm rambling on, and not being funny. Oh well. If you read this far, it's your own fault.
Cheers for now!
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Drinking Chinese Tea, Eating Pineapple, Starfruit, and Passionfruit While Sitting in a Diner 9,000 miles from 99% of my family and friends... and Listening to Gangsta's Paradise.
When I said I wanted to reserve a room at Lavender Guest House for 14 days, the attendent was shocked. He told me that 2 weeks was too much for Melaka. This sentiment was adamantly reinforced by "Gus", a student working at Knockknock House, who told me he preferred Bangkok to Kuala Lampur, which he preferred to Singapore. Too many clean streets and orderly surroundings in Singapore. Bangkok had the disorder he preferred.
So Melaka is boring, apparently, which makes it perfect for me. I only found Knockknock House after meandering down a few unknown streets in search of... well, nothing, really. I was just wandering. I almost stopped at a barber shop, but I didn't want to wait for the only barber to get around to chopping my hair off. Once Chinese New Year vacations finally end and the Chinese go back to work, I'll get a badly needed haircut somewhere else.
My living situation at Lavender Guest House is this: A 12x5 room with a bed, a table, a single power outlet, and a ceiling fan, two shared bathrooms to each floor, a shared kitchen with free coffee and tea (hoorah!), and laundry services for 5 Malaysia Ringgits (RM), which is only $1.66USD, but takes a day or a day and a half. Within walking distance to two malls, and China Town, which will be much better most of the other tourists leave. I feel pretty out of place, considering that I am in an extreme minority, but everyone is very friendly and helpful. And the cost is very manageable! My room costs 20 RM a day, which is about $6.66USD. The pot of Chinese tea I've been sipping for the last two hours cost just under $2USD, and the plate of fruit was $2USD. So far, I'm sitting at $10.66USD for the day. Not bad.
This is something of an experiment, now that Melissa has gone back to work. What the hell am I going to do with myself? Yesterday was something of a failure, since I spent around four hours looking for a place to get a haircut with nothing to show for it, but I did manage to get some writing done, an accomplish I've continued today. I have a story in the works that I'm really excited about. I just hope I can write it the way it needs to be written!
Ok, this is it for now. I'll try to be funnier in the future.
Saturday, February 9, 2013
With what I had seen over the previous few days, there was no telling what was hidden behind the dented and stained white metal of the door in front of me. It looked innocent enough, sure, and it blended in with the scenery, but something was amiss. The people in this part of the building were different, somehow. All of them were men, all with a look in their eyes like they had a void in their soul that needed to be filled... or maybe emptied. One of these wanderers had come out the door only a few moments earlier, his eyes almost glittering, and he'd left in such a hurry that he hadn't even closed the door behind him. He'd washed his hands, then- I'd heard the rush of water- and disappeared into the crowds without a word. Something was going down behind that door. Something stank, literally.
Through the crack, I could see what looked like more of the same white porcelain walls that graced the rest of the room. But something else caught my eyes: Five or six little gray metal hooks, each maybe an inch long. But for what? That man who'd walked through that door, what could that guy have needed to hang? What could anyone need to hang in that 5x5 room, and why? I started to reach slowly for my pistol, then stopped; surely, they had eyes on me already. I wasn't supposed to be here, and they knew it. With a look behind me, I realized I was being tailed. Some kid stood watching me, his face expressionless except for what appeared to be... hate. A shock of panic hit me suddenly. I'd made a mistake. They'd been watching me since I'd walked through the main door, and time had grown short without my even knowing. Without a word, I plunged through the door.
The door gave easily. TOO easily, and it hit the wall so hard it bounced back and hit me square in the elbow. I jumped back at the surprise of it, and my head hit the hard porcelain wall... right beside the hooks that might have dug into my brain. I stepped carefully away from the wall, keeping my eyes on the hooks, then felt the final trap: my foot began to slip down into the floor. I almost cursed as I struggled for footing and leapt back into the almost closed door, slamming it shut. I then turned, eyeing the door for any way to secure it against the small boy who'd been watching me, and found a small cylindrical lock. No sure protection, but better than nothing. I slid it into place and turned to eye what had surely been meant to be the end of me. What in the name of the gods...
In the middle of the floor, right where I'd damn near met my end, was a 3x3 square of porcelain that was different from the others. Two sections of the floor were covered with consistent ridges meant for some dark purpose that could only make sense if I could put myself into the mind of the depraved people who came in here for their dark, stinking business. Between the ridged sections was a depression that started at maybe 3 inches of depth, then sloped downward to... a hole. It was just a hole. Prettied up with porcelain, sure, but it was just a hole in the middle of the floor.
My mind raced. What purpose could this hole have? I thought back to the man who'd come out as I'd neared the door: he knew what went on in here, but he was long gone. There was no catching him. And the boy outside, watching, he wouldn't know anything. His bosses probably promised him candy, or bullets for his tiny pistol, or that they'd let his family live. They wouldn't give him any information beyond what he needed to know: That I was on the verge of figuring out their dark, damp, stinking secret.
That was when it hit me: Information was the key! That man's eyes were glittering with KNOWLEDGE. I eyed the hole suspiciously, then thought back to the Viet Cong, hiding everything in holes. Sure, the Viet Cong had dissipated. Sure, Malaysia was far from Vietnam. Sure, there are better ways to hide information, but not ways that can't be easily figured out or intercepted. This was the perfect hiding place. A strange hole in a strange room with no signs to tell you what was going on: If you had to ask, you didn't belong. I placed my hands on the ridged sections and lowered my ear to the hole.
"I'm listening." I said in what I hoped sounded like English with an Asian accent. "I am ready for your informations."
But nothing happened. All I heard was the drip of water from somewhere in the room,and the fidgeting of the boy outside. He was clearly antsy to put a bullet where the sun didn't shine.
Suddenly, fury gripped me. After this chase, after all this time, I was just as plugged for information as I'd been in the start. If I couldn't get what I wanted from them, then I'd give THEM something to ponder. Something that stank just as bad as their rotten crimes. I stood and let loose a curse. No matter if the boy heard. His feeble little body couldn't break through the sliding lock. I stood on the ridges, then thought again: I didn't want to make a mistake, make a mess, and leave evidence on my best slacks. Carefully, I removed my pants and boxers, hung each on the hooks on the wall, then returned my feet to the ridged parts of the floor and squatted low, so low that even the dankest portions of my colon would not go un-emptied. With a grunt, I let loose. Unfortunately, the squatting position gave me a prime view of my act. Wow, that was disgusting. Seriously, ugh.
But man, did it feel good to give my quarry a piece of my mind. Or a piece of my last few meals, anyway.
Once I'd finished, I reached into my pants pocket for a few stretches of toilet paper onto which I had hurriedly scribbles clues, earlier. No more need for those. Good thing I'd brought my own, too, since there was none in this god-awful stall. Er, room. Just some weird hose contraption that I preferred not to use on my butthole, thank you very much. I wiped my ass clean after numerous attempts, then found something I'd neglected to notice, in my haste. A lever. After all this time, I'd overlooked what might have been the ON switch for the communication hole. I hurriedly put on my pants and, with a dainty foot, pressed the lever.
The ground erupted with a roar, and I realized that my poops must have clogged their information hole. If I didn't hurry, my number might be up. I fumbled with the lock, pulled the door open and shouldered the stupid little boy out of my way as I scrambled for the exit. I hurriedly washed my hands, since there is always time for proper hygiene, and if I'm going to die, I'd rather not have poop germs on my fingers, and the floor continued to rumble as I sprinted out of the room, out through the crowded building, and to unexpected safety.
As I write this from a safe location, I can only hope they got the message: I'll be back.
Note: I made most of this up. Except the relevant parts about pooping.
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Hey all! Just a quick heads up that I'll be offline for a few days (I think). Mel and I just arrived today on Koh Samui in Thailand. We're staying the night, then heading to Ang Thong National Park (another island), where we will stay for two days while kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and getting stung by the local flora and fauna. After that, we'll head back to Koh Samui, then take a series of ferries and busses to Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, then another bus (or a taxi?) to Melaka, Malaysia. Mel will be returning to to work on the 12th, but I will most likely be staying there for a bit. One sweet thing about Malaysia... No visa required upon entry, and you can stay for 90 days! Huzzah! I'll try and get more pics uploaded in the relatively near future. That might not be for a week, but I'll get them up, I swear it.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
So, it turns out that internet service (wireless in particular) is pretty dodgy in Asia. Who knew? Well, Melissa knew. She tried to warn me, but I just couldn't understand until I'd experienced it for myself.
On Koh Phangan, the entire resort lost internet service for a day or so. Here on Koh Tao, after I wandered for a half hour, bought a couple dragon fruit and (fried?) banana with honey, sat down at a nice little cafe which boasted free wireless, and ordered a coffee drink, I was informed that their wireless was down. First, a toilet that can't handle toilet paper, and now this. I'm ready to call this whole thing off.
Nah, just kidding. I mean, that stuff really happened (the internet and the poop-paper thing), but I'm growing more and more comfortable with life here already. This place seems to be something of a compromise between the bustling-to-capacity Bangkok and the considerably less developed area of Koh Phangan where we stayed. There is also the added bonus that there are fewer large vehicles here than either Bangkok or Koh Phangan, which means that renting a motorbike is less of a daunting idea. Remember, it's not the road, your vehicle, or even yourself that is the biggest danger while driving.... it is the other drivers. And holy balls, were the car and truck drivers of Bangkok and Koh Phangan terrifying.
Yesterday, after arriving at the new hotel, "Buddha View", Mel and I took a quick walking tour of part of the beach and the area paralleling it. It's more or less a tourist paradise. You walk outside our hotel, and there is a beach thirty feet away, as well as a cafe, a restaurant, and a massage parlour offering 60 minutes of Thai massage for 250 Baht, which is something like 8 bucks. I think that that is actually kind of expensive, compared to less touristy areas in Thailand.
I've spent more than I would like, so far, but much of that has been for transportation costs that I intend to avoid in the future once I begin to 'settle down' a bit. Before Mel goes back to work, we'll be heading out to Malaysia, which is less touristy and even less expensive. I'll likely stay there after Mel leaves, and will try to further familiarize myself with life in the tropics.
This is starting to get long (this IS long, right? I don't know, I've never blogged before), so I'll stop here. I'll try to be more consistent with this, but it depends largely on the internets. If I drop off the grid for a short while, don't be scared! I'm not.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
I don't know if this is normal or if I should be concerned, but it still hasn't clicked yet. I know that I'm on the opposite side of the world (relative to all but one of my other friends and family) but I don't feel it. On an emotional level, I just don't understand. What do you mean, the plan worked? How is it possible that after all the time I've spent thinking about this in the theoretical, it is now occurring in the actual? Dat shit don't make sense yet.
But hey! Here I am. So here's the quick, hopefully-not-boring story of my trip so far. I'll try to abbreviate it by leaving out excessive details and having a poor memory. Actually, no I won't. This is going to be long. Even if you've liked my blog so far, prepare to hate it ...But please don't actually hate it.
Honest-to-gods terror. It's what I felt as I made the final move to quit my job; It's what I felt on the way from Meadville to Pittsburgh to be dropped off without a car, phone, or most of my earthly possessions; It's what I felt on the way to the Pittsburgh airport; It's what I felt even as I made my way through the airport and eventually boarded my first flight, wide-eyed and ready for some random diety to reach down, slap me across the face, and point one large finger back toward home. Instead, I met Frank.
Frank spoke with a kind of measured calm that could have talked me away from a building ledge, or convinced me to just put down the bomb and have dinner with his family rather than going down in a bloody blaze of glory. "Come on, spaghetti's better than being dead," he would say to me, one hand outstretched. I might try to reason around his statement, but would be unable to do so. Inevitably, I would concede, step away from the ledge, and hand over the bomb. Then he really would take me to have dinner with his family. He really meant it, the whole time.
Frank talked with me for a majority of the flight. He was a teacher on his way to Haiti to build homes for the destitute. He described the terrible conditions down there, the squalor those people live in. He told me he'd gone there several times for the same purpose. As if he secretly knew me, he advised me to let go of my hate. No kidding, he did. And he told me he admired what I was doing. This guy, who was headed to a foreign country for the sole purpose of working his ass off to help out the locals, said he admired what I was doing. It would have been easy for him to think of me as just some naive, pre-college-trust-fund kid with more money than brains, but as far as I could tell, he meant what he said. It still doesn't make sense, but I still believe him. He just seemed like that nice of a guy.
I consider that to be the de facto start of my trip, and a foreshadowing of what was to come. While the 27 combined hours of flights and layovers, two days in chaotic Bangkok, 11 hours of train, 1.5 hours of bus and 2 hours of ferry were rough, I'm starting to feel good about this decidedly drastic decision. The people of Thailand have been overwhelmingly friendly. Smiles and nods are quick and convincing, everyone is very helpful, and while Bangkok was a bit stressful, peace seems to win out everywere else. So far, so good.
I lied. This isn't a story of my whole trip. But I'll get to the other stuff eventually, and I'll tie off this entry by describing a portion of last night.
Around 8, Melissa and I wandered along the beach. The lights of the quiet restaurants stood out in the darkness and reflected off the gently lapping waters of the bay. People sat, walked and mingled here and there, carrying on quiet conversations. There were absolutely no loud drunken partygoers, which was a testement to Melissa's wisdom in choosing a hotel far from the site of the Full Moon Festival. Menus sat on podiums which stood facing the water at intervals, often accompanied by collections of freshly-caught fish that were available for barbequeing. Eventually, we chose a restaurant and had dinner. I had 200 grams of fresh barracuda, cut and grilled thirty or so feet away, accompanied by a surprisingly delicious salad. I also had a 32 oz Beer Chang, 6.4% AVB. Part-way through our meal, our friendly and charming waiter took a break from serving food. He took off his shirt, lit each end of a stick on fire, and did a fire dance for twenty minutes. After he finished, he resumed waiting. Total cost of my portion of the meal: 240 Baht = $8.
After we finished and paid we walked back along the beach to our bungalow. I still don't know how this is admirable, but I really, really enjoy it.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Day 3. The locals still do not know that I am not Asian. If they do, they don't seem to mind; if they mind, they still have not shown their true feelings despite, the fact that I am hopelessly incompetent at speaking their language. When I look in the mirror at night, I promise myself that I will take classes. I will become one of them, even if it kills me.
Hi all! After 27 hours of combined flight and layovers, a couple days of recovery and fun, and 11 hours of train, Melissa and I are now waiting for a bus that will take us to a ferry, which will take us to the fabled isle of Koh Phangan. From there, we'll find our hotel, and I will post several pictures! Hurray!
Friday, January 18, 2013
I went out to Quiet Storm today for one of my last breakfasts in the US for ever and ever; or at least a while. It was a cold walk, made even more so because I lent my winter coat to my sister, and had to resort to some of the few items of clothing I've held onto for use over the next couple days. Unfortunately, none of those items included gloves. Since my hands were too cold to hold the Kindle, I had some time to think. Aside from the normal daydreams about being assaulted in Garfield, I decided that instead of perusing the Internets or reading Haunted, I would pull out the Lonely Planet guide to southeast Asia and actually learn about my destination.
You might be asking yourself: "Why did he wait until now to read that book, and is he mentally challenged?"
I don't know, and probably. Irregardless, It was delicious and relaxing, as always. It is tragic that I only discovered this place a couple months before I shipped off. I don't recall what I ate, but it was a hash of some kind that tasted like glory and barely controlled fearful anticipation.
Note: I am aware that Irregardless has not been used appropriately and has, in fact, been used in the exact opposite way it was intended.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Tomorrow, I'll be driven to Pittsburgh and dropped off at Nicky's Thai Kitchen to have dinner with +ERIC AYALA . I will have no car, no phone, and only the two bags I will be living out of for an indefinite amount of time. Three days later, after the lunches, dinners, parties and the first Penguins game of the season (awww yisssss), I will board a plane and fly first to New York, then to Shanghai, and finally to Bangkok, where I'll meet up with +Melissa W . We'll spend two days there, then several more on Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Festival.
Then? I don't know.
I intended it to be that way. No, really, I did! I wanted it to be open-ended, free of conflict and the constriction of excessive planning. I wanted to step foot into some foreign world, separate from everything (or almost everything) I knew, and simply... exist. But my fear is growing in proportion to the proximity of the flight, the final step that will set me loose on the world.
I feel like I'm standing at the edge of some abyss. I have a vague idea of what lies below: unintelligible languages, strange foods, squats toilets with no means of sanitary cleanup... but man, this is starting to get a bit more real than I had anticipated. It all looked so simple on paper. Hell, I didn't even think this plan would work. Like literally every single person I told about my "plan", I figured it would be disrupted to ruin by some unforeseeable problem, or simply fade either from possibility or my consciousness. Instead, here it is.
Here I am.
Will I jump?
Hell yes, I will.