Friday, November 09, 2007

So for the first time since I left Canada, I’m stagnating. It’s not just a feeling I’ve been having recently, but a general fact. It's not something I’ve been doing deliberately or even due to a lack of motivation or effort either. The universe seems to be conspiring against me in order to keep me in a place of ever constant stasis. There are no progressions, but also no digressions, just a lot of standing around in one place with thoughts of moving forward flowing through my otherwise idle brain. A routine has developed now. Not the worst one I admit, but a routine none the less, and one that is taking me nowhere. For some this would be fine, but at the age of twenty four, I can’t help but feel that now is my time for action. The difficulties of getting film work, even unpaid temp positions in the French cinema industry have long ago crushed most of my hopes for success in that field prior to my return to Canada. Perhaps I can continue to be creative? I shot a film last year before setting out on my trip. It does not appear to want to be edited. As soon as I arrived in this apartment, my friend’s computer, which was to be left to me during his absence, crashed. I’ve spent much time and money trying to repair the damn thing but whenever it seems that things may be looking up, a minor problem prevents me from achieving my modest goal of editing the film. French beurocratic bullshit has also gotten my goat as of late, but I have no intent on boring the already bored reader with that nonsense, despite to say that it’s a circular process leading from one establishment to another, foolishly thinking your problems will soon be resolved as the people leading you on this wild goose chase snicker behind you knowingly as you walk out the door. Despite being a citizen, I can’t even open a bank account in this country in order to cash the pay check I just earned.
So why am I still here? First, it’s Paris, second I have an unbelievably cheap apartment, third, the new girlfriend and fourth, the hope that some time soon, maybe not tomorrow or the next day, but possibly the day after, I may escape this rut and actually accomplish something. I’m probably kidding myself, but hey, I like jokes, so I’m waiting around for the punch line.
I suppose this is the reason I haven’t written in this thing for a while. Despite my complaints, I have been having fun here, going to chocolate conventions and gorging myself on free samples, exploring bone filled catacombs under the city, daytrips out of Paris to small towns, staying up all night playing video games, watching countless free movies from my work and even eating expensive French food I can’t afford now and then. So why am I complaining? Forget it. I’m not.

Friday, September 07, 2007

ladies in China, rhinos in and elephants in the fog in Nepal, my "capsule" on the organic farm in India and Shim on our way to the Mango tree restraunt in Hampie.
My "home" in Melbourne


Veranassi and Laos

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I’ve seen the old lady every day now for the past two weeks. Always at around five, sitting on the same park bench, wearing the same long winter coat and rolled brimmed winter hat. And I wonder the same thing every time I see her. Who is she waiting for, or at least, who does she think she’s waiting for ? She’s homeless obviously, but not begging. Perhaps dementia has taken full toll and she no longer knows how to do even that. Paris is full of these people. Lost souls who’ve long given up trying. Some so far gone that they loudly curse the world in near gibberish while they root through the metro trash bins, picking out rappers, crushed bottles and newspapers so as to hurl them around the vicinity. One particularly portly lady did just this, and while still cursing the world, lifted her dress and lowered her underwear in a gesture so fast that it took me completely by surprise. I recoiled at the sight of her unkempt posterior. It shocks nobody else in this strange underground world. Drones, moving about under the city like bees in a hive. The isolation in this city is enough to drive anyone mad. People are everywhere, but friendly faces are rare, and conversation is practically non existent.
The old lady on the park bench stares at her reflection in the window of the office building across from her and adjusts her hat and winter coat. It’s twenty degrees and sunny. I start to wonder how long I’ve been here now. The days blend into one and other and an unproductive routine develops. This is the alienation of the west in full force. My apartment is small and the window looks out onto a small enclosed courtyard. I am a hamster in a cage and I’ve willingly shut myself in.
Not to worry. This is an experiment. Now’s the time I should be working on my writing or future projects anyway…I have the material now. The problem is that I can’t seem to motivate myself to sit and write something that I like. Strange type of pre-writer writers block. I wander down to the Sen in search of stimulation, but apart from the odd idea here and there, nothing concrete has leaped from my fingers to the blank computer screen. Nothing has taken shape…but something is definitely forming.
As for the job search, a few options may have popped up. I’ve squandered far too much time already and should be making money. My hopes are that when my cousin and his girlfriend get back, she can get me a position on a film set (be it just to observe or as a coffee slinger). Possible video store work perhaps, and an interview for a real estate service of sorts tomorrow. Something does need to happen soon however, or I fear that I might end up in the metro, my underwear at my ankles, flinging trash and yelling about the government, or even worse, sitting on a park bench with a snow suit and rolled brimmed hat waiting for Godot.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I'm sitting in an Internet cafe in London England waiting for my flight to Paris. It's strange to finally be back in western society. Where I left of last was Dali, and that happens to be the place I returned right before flying out. So what have I been up to? Well I had planned on staying in Dali for around a day...two max, but I ended up staying two weeks the first time and then another week on the way back. As usual, the owners of the hotel where I was staying spoke no English, so I had no help from them. I was trying to figure out a few things about the town and my journey onwards to Tibet and Mongolia. The following morning they called me over and told motioned for me to wait. The owner ran upstairs and then returned with a pretty Chinese girl. "Your translator has arrived" she said. "Wow! You speak English!" "Wow, so do you" she replied sarcastically. So she helped me out, showed me the main tourist street in town where English is quite common and then brought me to her house to try to sell me a lonely planet China guide. I was more interested in the giant marijuana bushes growing all over her garden...planted by her landlord Mariush (a Polish guy in his late twenties). I didn't buy the guide book because I was now tired of guidebooks and their lies. I did however get the girl's name (Han Mei(pronounced Han May)...or Apple as foreigners often call her) and number. She told me to call her later, and that if I wanted to watch a movie, I should go to a bar called the Lazy Lizard. I did that and when the film was finished, I gave her a call. It was around eleven and she was already in bed (class the next morning) so she asked if I would have dinner with her the next night. So that's what happened and my stay was extended. Pretty soon Tibet was off the list and only Mongolia remained. So for two weeks I hung out in hippie ville with Han Mei and stayed at her place for free. One day we went to the mountains with her professor/friend who happens to be a 70 odd year old artist with bright red hair and the youthful attitude of a 20 year old. Our goal was to rent horses or donkeys and venture into the unknown to find the illusive "Rainbow Gathering" and photograph them. They're a bunch of dirty hippies who camp all over the world and smoke lots of weed and don't shower. Unfortunately the cops had kicked them out that day (which we found out later). In any case, the quest was a futile one, hippies or not. We rented donkeys after a long struggle with pessimistic villagers and then went on a little ride with the donkey owners leading the donkeys all the way. It was really pathetic. We finally got to the base of the mountains (around 10 minutes later) and then villagers told us to get off the donkeys. They took off the saddles and said the ride was over. So we argued saying that we were paying them to go up the mountain, not "to the mountain". They told us we could buy the donkeys, but we didn't want the damn donkeys. They refused to accept our money (as we refused to pay full price), so Joy, the red headed teacherfriend started feeding the money to a donkey. The villagers tried to keep their cool, but were turning red. Finally I left the money on a donkeys saddle and we started leaving. The men grabbed the women's arms and were yelling obscenities in Chinese. I pulled them each free and we started walking down the way we came...which took just as long by foot. It was a good day.
I eventually forced myself to leave Dali and Han Mei behind and began my journey overland to Mongolia. First though, I stopped in a few places. Chengdu, where I saw some Pandas and came to the conclusion that Koalas are cuter than Panda bears, Xi An where I saw the Terracotta Warriors (the 8Th wonder of the world) and then continued on to Beijing. There I met up with my Uni friend Vanessa Sacco and her boyfriend. It was good to see her, and he was a really nice guy too. We did a lot of walking around and ended up on the great wall the second day.
After they left, I took a long bus ride, then a train to Ulanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. The train was sold out, but as usual I met the right person. Otgoo, a Mongolian shoe importer and salesman told me he could get me a ticket. He did just that and soon I was in Ulanbaatar. The entire time since I left Dali, I'd had a bad stomach problem. This really came into play when I went to the country with Otgoo, his family and friends. I stayed at their house and they fed me most of the time I was in Mongolia (although I protested and tried to escape on many occasions). In the country, we stayed in a gur (a traditional hut) and ate lots of mutton. All they eat in Mongolia is MEAT. I use capital letters because it's not like normal meat. It's MEAT. You take a slab of sheep loin and tear chunks off the bone with your teeth while clutching the hunk of flesh in your hand and letting off a huge belly laugh with your mouth full. Hence, MEAT. The Mongolians I was with (as well as the remainder of the population I'm assuming) love to get drunk on vodka and sing and fight. I witnessed much of this. First I saw an old alcoholic literally thrown out of a bar (his legs went over his head when he was thrown, then eventually he clawed his way back in). The second was bear knuckles vs. pool cue man (not sure of the outcome of that one) and then there were several others.
The countryside was very nice. Green grass, trickling streams, trees, grass seeds floating in the air and beautiful wild horses grazing all around. We had a MEAT barbecue, drank Mongol vodka and did some Mongol wrestling. Only Otgoo (pronounced Otgoh) and his wife spoke any English. One guy named Ochoro (big and burly, loving singing and the drink) wouldn't stop hugging me with joy and telling me "MONGOL NADDAM!" which is their yearly festival that I'd arrived just in time to witness. Another guy who's name slips my mind could only say two things in English "I'm sorry" and "I'm hungroo". The former he would say to me constantly whenever he wanted me to pay attention to him. "Justin, I'm sorry" he would say, pointing to horses. That night I got into my bed, only to find out that there weren't enough for everyone. The guy got into my bed. Luckily I had my own blanket and we slept head to foot. "Justin, I'm sorry" he said as he clambered in. "You damn well better be sorry" I said. The following day my sickness got worse. Night and drunkenness and debauchery and violent sickness followed. My stomach which had felt better, got incredibly worse as did the drunkenness of all those around me and the violence. Two cases of spousal abuse ending in blood took place while I was at the climax of my illness. I wandered into the woods as a man elbowed his wife in the face. I threw up first out of my mouth, then out of other places once I'd gotten deep into the woods. When I returned, The man had gotten what he deserved. His face was covered in blood and his were lips all split. The Mongol women are just as tough and violent as the men. I got into bed, sick as a dog and this time Otgoo got into bed with me. I was too sick to protest. "are you OK my friend?" he was laying behind me and started rubbing my thigh. "No" I said and elbowed him in the stomach. He was drunk as hell and his wife had gone home because they had had a dispute. I was pissed cause she knew I was sick and wanted to go to the hospital, but left without me. I told Otgoo to get out of the bed as I was paying for my own, and so deserved my own bed...and was violently ill. I insisted and he left. There were other beds available that night anyway. The next day he took me to the hospital and I started on meds. I then became prisoner of their apartment. They would leave me there, and I couldn't leave cause I had no key. At one point there was nobody home and I needed a drink. I didn't want to drink the tap water, so I filled a kettle with a trickle of water that came out of the tap, then put it on the stove. I left the room, then smelled melting plastic. I returned immediately and found a flaming melting electric kettle on the stove. "SHIT!!!" I turned off the burner and turned on the tap. Trickle. "SHIT!" Flames were darting out of the kettle. I opened the fridge. Juice! NO. Cooking oil. That was close. Back to the trickle. I started flicking water at the flames while trying to curse them out. Eventually they were extinguished. Now I had to hide the evidence before anyone came home...which could be any time. After much stress and melted plastic inhalation and scraping, I'd managed to hide and cover up all evidence (save the missing kettle). So I got away with it and simply gave them money to replace the kettle, without them knowing that that was what it was for. I was tired of staying with them and felt as if they were using me for the purpose of getting a Canadian visa. Leaving was a difficult process, but eventually I managed it and checked into a hostel. Before leaving Mongolia, I went on a camping trip by myself. Otgoo gave me some hunks of MEAT and I rented a horse, then set off alone into the forest despite protests from the gur owners...they just wanted more money. It was raining but it was that night or never, and I needed some alone time. I found a place to set up camp under a large tree and built a fire. I cooked my MEAT and made toast. It wasn't so much a camp as a dryish area in the dirt for me to sleep. I had no tent and no sleeping bag. I did however have my trusty sheet bag which once again aided me in a difficult situation. It rained and I got a bit wet, but the tree helped me out a lot. At sunrise I rode my horse back to camp, following my compass. I got a bit lost, but found my way eventually. A couple days later I left Mongolia to head back to Dali and Han Mei. The flight to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province which is close to Dali, was a bit cheaper than to fly direct to Hong Kong, so Dali for another week was a sensible option. Right before I took the train, I was on the phone with Han Mei. She had told me before that she was cooking for people at the Lazy Lizard and getting paid quite well for it. Her strange friend Chris owned the place and allowed her to cook there as it brought him more customers. She told me that after cooking there the night before, she had accepted a drink of water from Chris. She told him she was heading home and he tried to get her to "Stay and rest a bit". She said she was tired and was going to bed. As she was walking home she started to feel strange, and upon arrival at home, felt very light headed and stoned and fell asleep. When she told me this I remembered an event that had occurred during my initial visit to Dali. I had helped a Chinese girl named Beibei carry her bags from the Lazy Lizard back to Han Mei's place. At the bar, Chris gave us both water and kept refilling our cups. He then was trying everything to get Beibei to stay a little longer. Gave her several cigarettes and tried to get me to remain (as I said I wanted to go) by giving me more water. When we left upon my insistence, Beibei described symptoms of light headedness and feeling stonned and we had to rest for around an hour at another bar as she couldn't continue walking. So I put two and two together and confirmed her suspicions that Chris had drugged her. I'd heard bad things about him before and it was now clear just how much of a sleaze bag he was. I was furious and wished I was in Dali right then and there. But I had to bide my time.
I headed back to Beijing and continued on from there after spending the day waiting for my flight with some backpackers and exploring a Taoist temple filled with strange and horrific statues. I arrived in Kunming quite late and spent the night, then returned to Dali the next day. It was great to see Han Mei again. She told me that she was going to cook for me at the bar that night. I told her I didn't want to go there and she told me that it should be OK for her to go there while I was there, as I could watch out for her, and it was still good money while it lasted. So I bit my tong and bidded my time some more. I saw Chris fought the urge to kill. Han Mei and I spent the week together and she cooked a few times at the bar. I met her brothers and her aunts and uncles and even met her father, an abusive alcoholic, who she never visits, but had to in order to deliver some bank papers.
My thoughts of revenge against Chris had escalated by this point. I was planning on returning the favour by drugging him, tying him up then leaving an anonymous note of warning, saying that "we" knew what he had done etc. I spoke to Mariush, who happened to be a former friend of Chris's. He told me that Chris does in fact drug women and that the mafia has been raising his rent in order to get him to leave town. So my 99 percent suspicion was escalated. The last cooking date arrived and she didn't end up cooking, so at around midnight, I headed over to the bar with Han Mei. I told her to wait outside and around the corner. I went inside and found the bar to be much busier than usual. Earlier I'd decided against drugging Chris for moral reasons. Basically, Han Mei threw a book at me (the Prophet) and I caught it and was open at a page all about judging others and how individuals have no right to enact judgement upon other individuals and that God is the only judge etc (in a nutshell). Strange how life works. So I decided on a good old fashioned and simple confrontation. I found Mariush there and got the house key from him. Chris went upstairs, so I followed him. There was nobody else up there. I called him over and said I needed a word with him. "What can I do for you?" he asked. "Well," I began, "I know what you did to my girlfriend." "What do you mean?" "I mean I know you drugged her, and I know you drugged Beibei, and have drugged other girls as well." "What?" he stammered unconvincingly, unable to meet my eye. "I never would do-" "Save your bullshit!" I said. Then I did something I've never done before and hopefully won't ever do again. "I'm not going to do anything this time, but if you EVER do anything like that again, I swear, I will fucking kill you." "What??" He screamed, "I would never do that! You're crazy!!!FUCK YOU! GET OUT!" He was screaming like a Polish robot. "I'm not the only one who knows." I said honestly, as apparently numerous neighbours knew as well. "You're lucky I was in Mongolia when I found out cause I would have come in here with a baseball bat. As is, I've had time to cool off." He pushed me, so I pushed him back and he ran down the stairs and made things much worse for himself. I had tried to make it as non public as possible, but I suppose we're our own worst enemies. "He's fucking crazy!" He proclaimed to the now even more populated bar. "This asshole says I drug women! Do I drug women?" he asked Mariush. "I don't know..." Mariush shrugged silently. He turned to another girl who had been in town staying in the same house as Han Mei and Mariush for around 5 days. "Do I drug women!?" "Nooo!!" she shouted, shocked and glaring at me. "Listen," I said, "I didn't want to make a big spectacle about this, but I know that you drugged my girlfriend, and I know of another girl to whom you did the same because I was there. Don't do it again."
"Get the fuck out!" he yelled again in his robot voice. "I'm leaving" "GET THE FUCK OUT!" "Have a nice evening" I said and walked out. He followed me. "WHO TOLD YOU THIS?" "It's irrelevant. I witnessed." "WHO TOLD YOU THIS!!!" The robot yelled louder attracting the surrounding street dwellers. "I'll call Han Mei! I don't drug women! I'll call her!" "Just leave her out of it I said" "WHO TOLD YOU THIIIISSS!!!?" I walked away. He returned to the bar and the now muffuled screaming robot continued. I do feel bad that I threatened to kill a man, as I would have no intention of following through with murder if he did do anything just came out in the heat of the moment. I met up with Han Mei. I couldn't help but laugh, and neither could she. So we walked home. I'm pretty sure he'll never do that again, and if he does, the suspicions are all over town, so he won't get far.
So that was the last significant event in Dali, and I headed out for Hong Kong, took some planes, got jet lagged and now I'm waiting for my last plane to take me to Paris. Prior to this, I felt like my "madcap adventures" were coming to an end now that I'm back in the west, but I'm not so sure. I guess maybe it's just a new chapter opening.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

This is the second time I will attempt to write this, as the first time, after writing around 10 pages, the computer crashed. So, where I left off was at Lopburi with my monkey friends. After that, I made my way up to some other ruins and from there realized that I may not have enough time to make it out of Thailand before my visa expired. So I headed for the Mai Sot, the border town to head into Myanmar. I hopped a motorcycle taxi to get to the border, and when I arrived, was told that I needed my departure card. It had been in my passport, but when I was in Kho Pang An, the lady from whom I rented my motorbike ripped it out absentmindedly while she was talking on the phone. I had put it in the top compartment of my large backpack. So I had to go all the way back to my hotel. Once I got into town, I hopped on the first transport device I found, which I thought was a motorized wagon of sorts. It turned out it wasn't motorized so I slowly made my way to my hotel while the driver peddled me along. I took a truck rickshaw back and finally arrived, ready for a day trip to Burma. I crossed the friendship bridge and wandered around for a while. It reminded me a lot of India in that everyone stares at you and wants to know about you. One guy actually stopped on the sidewalk right in front of me, pointed at my face and yelled to his friend across the street to look. I left the border and travelled up to Chiang Mai where I remained for a few days. I ate fried bugs with some girls that I met, and the next day we went on a long motorbike ride and got quite lost. We ended up around 30 km out of the city and had to make our way back. That night we went to a jazz club as well. After Chiang Mai, I went up to the Laos-Thai border. I had to take a boat 2 days down the Mekong river in order to get to Luang Probang. It was a long trip as the seats were tilty wooden benches. Luang Probang was controlled by the French up until the 70's so it's a mix of French and Loaitian architecture...really nice. Actually Laos in general is just really beautiful. Full of limestone cliffs covered in trees, and rivers. I visited some waterfalls and found a rope swing and a waterfall I could jump off of, so that occupied me for a day. I met some British girls that night and the next day we went to a cave. It wasn't good, but it was full of Buddha statues. I'm a little Buddha statued out though to be honest. All they do is is, stand or recline. Do something else! I'd been reading Kerouac's "On the Road" and was becoming interested in the idea of hitchhiking, so the next day I was out on the road waving cars down. In Laos you don't stick your thumb out in your direction, but sweep your arm inward towards you, palm down. I got a ride pretty quickly. Picked up by a trucker heading in my direction. We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant with other truckers and ate bull stomach soup, then continued on our way. He dropped me off a while later in some small village and continued. So now I was stranded in a small village and no cars were passing at all. Thanks a lot Kerouac. Eventually a bus came by and I flagged it down. The trucker had taken me around a quarter of the way to Vang Vien, so I bargained the ticket down and saved some money, then arrived in Vang Vien later that night.Checked into a hotel then went to the Organic Cafe to get some food and a mulberry smoothie. When my food arrived, so did Angelo, a man in his late fifties who began to talk at me, and didn't stop for around 2 hours. I allowed this as I thought he was enough of a nut to merit my attention. He started off by capturing my attention, telling me that he'd just overheard something that was really depressing, that he'd heard before. He didn't want to tell me though because it was upsetting and life changing. I would never look at the world the same again. I was obviously interested. He kept me hanging however and stated telling me his back story, about his home in Cicily and his travels. He ended up being a racist bastard, blaming all the problems of the world on the Jews, using bad terms for black people and supporting certain Islamic views of death to the American culture. I pretended to be unphased so as to gain his trust. So it came down to this. That day was the third time he'd heard this tidbit of information and now he was a staunch believer. On January first, 2008, the government will implement a new manditory vaccine. Inside this vaccine is a small microchip. When the microchip is activated, the government (which is run by the Jews) slowly kills you. It activates the vaccine. The reason for this is simple. Fist, the government can kill anybody causing them problems. Second, it will save the government money. They have a problem. If pensioners live too long, it will cost the government loads of money. If they're sick and constantly in need of medication and treatment, that also costs a lot of money. The key is keeping the pensioners healthy and having them expire early. This vaccine is the answer. Also, little known fact: George Bush is actually a Jew. I always thought he was a staunch "born again Christian" but apparently it's just a cover. Later he told me that he could control women through yoga mind control. "give me two months and I can get any woman". He was mostly talking about Thai prostitutes however, and he could only control them to a certain point...they still always wanted 1500 baht. So after a while we said our tear full goodbyes and I went to bed.The next day I went tubing down the river. It's a sort of bar hop where the bar people toss you a line and drag you in. You're then supposed to drink a lot and go off massive rope swings. I enjoyed these rope swings so much I went two days in a row. All my training had finally lead me to the big times. I met some girls there who I would later travel with. The one girl Toiosi suggested that she and I go again the next day, but without tubes, which I immediately thought was a brilliant idea. So that's what happened. We were to swim and float the 4 km down the river. This worked up until the final 2 km when the water was too shallow. We tried walking, but that didn't work, so we started walking to the shore. Once there, I tried climbing a mud hill. I made it to the top and was about to pull myself up via a broken bamboo shaft sticking out of the ground, when something pricked my arm. Barbed wire. I contemplated what to do next, but my thoughts were interrupted when the bamboo I was holding onto broke, and I fell. So we continued walking up the river as bar-folk floated past us, wondering what we were up to. "where are your tubes?" We made it back to the bar and decided we'd have to swim to the other bank of the river. Toiosi got tired half way across and I had to tow her the rest of the way. Then we walked up a hill through some dense bushes where there was a hole in a fence. we thought it might lead to a road that may or may not exist. So we proceeded through a clearing full of wooden bungalows. A guard pointed us the way to the dark mud road and our way was lit by nothing but fire flies. Then it started raining, which was alright cause we were already wet. We made it back to the city and jokingly agreed never to discuss it again. The next day we headed to Vien Tien, the capital of Laos. There is nothing much to do there, besides get your Chinese and Mongolian visas and crash your motorbike and cut up your right arm. So that's about all I did there.
Next I headed to Luang Nam Tha. That bus ride took 24 hours and (as happens with most Laos buses) it broke down. I decided to go to one more place in Laos, so I hopped a truck rickshaw to Muang Sing. I found that it was just an isolated town with no technology ie, Internet, that I needed to use, so I left the next day for the Chinese border. I left Laos in style as I always try to do. Hopped on the back of an old man's chopper. It was equipped with golden speedometers and leather tassels hanging off the handlebars. He wore a leather jacked, a wicked black helmet, aviator goggles and was somewhat lacking in teeth.I changed the rest of my Laos money and hopped on a bus to take me to Mengla. It cost exactly the remainder of my money. I wasn't worried however as I knew that Mengla had a large population, and therefore had banks that would at least take my credit card. I should have worried. On the way over, I found that Chinese people are loud and often seem angry as they talk to each other in outdoor voices all the time, and tend to scowl. So I arrived and went in search of a bank. Nobody spoke English. A motorbike taxi seemed to know what I was looking for and told me to hop on, so I did and we went in search of a bank. The first one didn't work, and neither did the following two, so I was a bit worried. He took me to a money changer, and he didn't accept credit cards, so I was in a word, fucked.He was really nice however and told me that he'd dealt with this before. He said I could eat dinner at his place and that he would pay for my hotel and my bus the following day to a city that would take my cards. I didn't accept at first because there was one more major bank I needed to try. The motorbike driver kept harping on at me in Chinese while the money changer was talking to me. I had a pack of cigarettes for some reason, so I just handed it to him and he shut up and left me alone. I had told him that I didn't have money...even shown him my empty wallet before getting on the bike. Also, he wore a straw helmet that had no straps. He looked humorous.
The last bank didn't take my card either. The money changer had given me his phone number so I decided to take him up on his offer, only problem was that I didn't have money for the call. I tried several different phone companies trying to explain that I had no money and that I needed to make a call, but nobody was sympathetic to my cause, or spoke even a little English. I was thirsty and hungry and it was getting late. I figured if I could get some water I could make it fine till the next morning where I could meet the money changer at work. I contemplated stealing. Actually had a water bottle in my hand, but finally put it back and decided to try one more phone company. The kid spoke some English so I was saved. I called the guy and he picked me up in his bicycle wagon and drove me to his house. There we ate rice and pig's ears and I met his wife and one year old son. The next day he paid for my hotel and my bus and I took his bank details so as to pay him back and was on the road again.So next stop was Jiang somethingorother and I emerged from the bus terminal looking for a bank as usual. Couldn't find one. I saw the first white person I'd seen in days and ran after him. "Excuse me!" "Hello!" He seemed really happy to see me and invited me into his house/cafe with his pregnant Chinese girlfriend. His name was Charlie and hers was Lena. I hung out with them till the banks opened and then he walked me there. She found me a hotel as I wired the money to the money changer and finally had money in my hand. I was overjoyed. I spent the next two days hanging out with Charlie and Lean, ate at their cafe and another Swedish guy walking by at random came in as well and he did the same. I bought around 60 movies for 8 dollars the next day. Then I left for Dali, which is where I am currently, sitting in a cafe, typing on a laptop and drinking a milkshake. And in a nutshell, that's what's been happening lately.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

So, some of you know that one of my main goals for this trip was to be somewhere where I could get angry because a monkey stole something of mine, ie, a shoe. I wanted to be able to yell "Hey! Monkey! Give back my ....! and have it taunt me and not give it back. I figured that maybe then my life would have some meaning. Well today I accomplished just that. Also my goal was to have a pet monkey, which I'll try for in the future, but I came close today. The monkeys stole my stick eventually, which was my only defence against them. I managed to get it back after a, them jumping on my back. At one point I had 5 monkeys on my back...most of the time just one...and I couldn't get the monkey off my back. I also played a game called monkey on a stick where monkeys cling to your stick and you fling them off at other monkeys afteter spinning them around for a while. Also, a large group of them got angry at me and started all moving at me at once, so I defended myself by swinging a monkey on a stick at them, and eventually throwing a monkey at them. So yeah, lots of monkeys and I got to yell "Hey! Bad monkeys! give me back my...stick!" another check off the things to do before you die list.
I know more pictures of various things is expected of me, but lets be honest. Monkeys. Come on. Everyone likes monkeys.

Monday, May 14, 2007

These pictures are all out of order.

Hand stand in front of the Taj...figured it'd be the appropriate thing to do. Next we have an example of the male love that is ever present in India. Ahh, the cow going into the guys I laughed. The guy inside was really angy. Then a filthy dog by a filthy trickle of water and finally a cow eating a box. Oh India, how I miss thee.