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Sunday, November 24, 2013

What This Blog's About

Location: Minneapolis, MN 55410, USA
This was the online manifestation of my travel journal, which up to now consisted of a few scrawled notebooks and thousands of digital photos. Each entry is a painstaking recreation of all the notes I have, poring over Google Maps street view, and cross-referencing geographic and financial information online, all to enable me to tell the most complete story possible.

Failing that, I've injected plenty of my own opinions on other people and my nation's conservative bent.

On Feb. 23, 2015, Google announced that they would begin deleting adult-content blogs starting March 2015. This isn't an adult-content blog, I don't have any adult-content blogs, but this gesture represents an encroachment upon freedom of speech and expression, and I refuse to support it. I've begun migrating my blogs to other, rival locations that do support freedom of speech.

As of Feb. 27, 2015, Google retracted its intent and will support its previous policy. It's good that Google listened to the concerns of its users, but this does not change my plans: I'm migrating my travel blog to TravelPod. Please visit me there!

And I'll be deleting this blog as I repopulate the entries on TravelPod.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Grand Adventure: Drawing With Children

Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
This entry is an aside from the normal journal. It combines a few days in one post, to talk about a specific activity.

In Cambodia, as everywhere in SE Asia, there were children begging in the streets. In Indonesia, they begged on the median of busy highways, waiting for a distant light to turn red and back up traffic so they could rap on car windows. Their families lounged nearby, keeping half an eye or less on their activity. In Lao P.D.R., they haunted temples and shuffled around restaurants, carrying a small cardboard box filled with tiny trinkets, small knit dolls or bracelets. These kids were usually organized by a leader who collected their earnings.

What was different about the children in Cambodia was that their begging was treated more like a formal job, something children did even in average families where there was enough to eat. In the above examples, those kids were part of an ethnic underclass, and they didn't go to school and they didn't eat well. We spoke with a little girl in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, who told us about her busy school schedule, after which she had to hustle books to tourists until 11 p.m., at which time her mom would drive out and pick her up, and she got as much sleep as she could before starting it all again at 7 a.m. She admitted it was exhausting but explained it all to us as a matter of course, like this is how everybody lives.

Think of what effort it takes to ask an American teen to do any small household chore once a week, for a sense of perspective. And this Khmer girl wasn't even getting an allowance, and she didn't even have an iPhone 4 to be withheld for 24 hours as punishment if she failed to comply.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Grand Adventure: Entering Thailand

Location: Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), 999 Bang Na-Trat Road, Rachathewa, Bang Phli District, Samut Prakan 10540, Thailand
We rode a shuttle, "Melayani Dengan Bus Eksekutif," otherwise known as International Bus Service, to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport for Rp. 20,000 (about $1.75 USD). Taking some moments to rest before our flight, we parked ourselves in a coffee cafe and wrote postcards with the intent to send them off that same day. What was interesting was buying postage: I had purchased stamps in Bali and paid face value for them; I bought postage on Gili Trewangan and experienced a nominal markup, but in this airport they simply charged twice their worth without even a flinch from the cashier. I was not yet jaded to let this roll off my back, no matter how familiar I was with it. My tip to travelers would be to purchase postage stamps at an official post office in a small town or village in order to not get ripped off or (negligibly) fund micro-corruption.

Friday, November 2, 2001

Road Trip to New Orleans: the Swamp and the Departure

Location: Pearl River, LA, USA
We woke up, packed up most of our clothes and crap, and I drove Paul to work one last time. Janet, Joel, Ursula and I drove out to Cajun Encounters for our 2:30 PM swamp tour. We chose this one with just a smidge of regret: it was the company of that amazingly brash and rude pitchman from two days ago, but it was also the best-sounding package.

Our guide was Luka Cutura, a ruggedly handsome young man whose father owned an alligator meat-packaging plant. (I tried to contact Cajun Encounters when I got back home to find out more and procure a few pounds for my Kung-Fu Grilling event, but I never heard back from them.) The tour boated us down West Pearl River, through thickets and, once, right under a large but nigh-invisible spider web with an angry little beast in its center. Luka took us deep into the swamp and showed us a tall and dead tree with many branches, explaining this was where moonshiners would congregate and vote on who distilled the best hooch. The winner got to market a "Best Of" label for the following year, and the location was perfect for moonshiners who needed to lose lawmen on their tail: they knew the swamp's ins and outs and the lawmen didn't, so it was easy to get lost and hidden. This tree was also a location in Interview With the Vampire, I guess, where Lestat or someone dumped someone's body. I dunno, I never saw it, but Luka delighted the tourists who had with this magical little tidbit of trivia.

Thursday, November 1, 2001

Road Trip to New Orleans: Cemetery

Location: 430 Barracks St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
Woke up quite late today but still in time to drive Paul to the 201. Returning to Michael's, I roused Ursula and we brought Janet and Joel out to a cemetery. I want to say it was the St. James, but there evidently was some contention as to where exactly we ended up. That'll come up later.

Yours truly, the author.
Regardless, I had an amazing time touring a real New Orleans cemetery! I didn't care if it was the "right one" or a "popular one," it was ancient and decrepit and gorgeous to me. The crypts must be above-ground, because the region is so prone to flooding that graves would commonly be exhumed and corpses distributed in most undignified fashion throughout the town. Without even considering what a bureaucratic mess that would be, the biohazard it would represent was enough to make my skin crawl.