“I was driving myself, pounding out the miles because I was no longer hearing or seeing. I had passed my limit of taking in or, like a man who goes on stuffing in food after he is filled, I felt helpless to assimilate what was fed in through my eyes. Each hill looked like the one just passed. I have felt this way in the Prado in Madrid after looking at a hundred paintings—the stuffed and helpless inability to see more. This would be a time to find a sheltered place beside a stream to rest and refurbish.”
–John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley (1962)
Travel can be hard work. Adrenaline may keep our heads spinning and our feet moving, but it’s important to consider the hidden exhaustion of long trips. Weeks of momentum, scheduling and packing/unpacking will take its toll on your body and dull … Read More »
Not all the music I love is appropriate to pair with travel. For instance, I can recite any song by The Smiths, but I can’t admit that “I Know its Over” is a great soundtrack as my train pulls into Beijing. There is some music that has always seemed like it was made for exploring landscapes or cityscapes. I keep coming back to these when I’m traveling down the road, rails or sidewalks.
7. Pavement, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994)
With their second album, Pavement explored the Delta conduit of their world-famous home state of California.
This is not the familiar image that the Beach Boys or 2Pac may have introduced you to. Pavement explore the changing farm towns and “manmade deltas and concrete rivers” of rural and suburban California. He reminisces about evenings roaming a subdivision on his skateboard in “Range … Read More »
Long-term budget travel can be strenuous and take its toll. In addition to the long bus rides, the heat, and the constantly-changing environments, your accommodations will generally be modest and sometimes downright uncomfortable. Many budget travelers try to keep to a $1,000-a-month budget, which comes out to about $30 a day, accounting for cross-border flights and visa fees. When considering this budget, it is generally wise to keep accommodation around $10/day, which will allow for a modest guesthouse or dormitory, depending on the country.
When budget allows, I recommend finding a sweet deal on a luxury hotel, arranging a 10 a.m. check-in and just spending the next 26 hours relaxing on the premises. It will give you the chance to take a steaming bath, clear your head, get excellent sleep and even wear a damn robe. You will likely get a … Read More »
I understand: you’ve just arrived from the airport. You look like hell. You really do; you’re sweaty, tired, hungry and you’re wearing sports pants. You just want to check in, put down your bag, shower and eat. You don’t yet want to go out exploring your new city, scouring for the best hidden place to get your first meal. Again, I understand. I’ve seen you looking anguished in countless hostels, hotels and guesthouses across the world, and I have been in your sandals before.
Be patient. I don’t believe I’ve ever eaten at a guesthouse, hostel or hotel eatery that could survive on its own as an independent restaurant. The food is always dumbed down for tourists and built to fill a hole and make a buck, not to cherish. Food is one of the joys of travel, so fight the … Read More »
How is there so little street crime?
Don’t get me wrong, there is crime in Asia. There is government corruption, bribery, domestic abuse and organized crime. However, a traveler is highly unlikely to get caught up in this. “Street crime” such as robbery, assault, rape and murder are astonishingly low, especially in North Asia (Mongolia somewhat excluded). In large Asian cities, I have no fear listening to my iPod and walking home through unknown neighborhoods for two hours in the middle of the night.
Travelers and expats appreciate this quality over here, yet can’t seem to explain exactly why it is. Rich and poor are living together. Surely, there are plenty of “opportunities” for crime walking down the streets. So why is Asia so safe?
Here are a few factors that likely influence the low street crime of Asia:
THE SHAME FACTOR
In the USA, … Read More »
5. Malcolm Lowry, UNDER THE VOLCANO (1947)
In On the Road, Dean and Sal head down Mexico way to get their kicks- and experience little else in the process. For contrast, in the less-manic Under the Volcano, alcoholic British consul Geoffrey Firmin stammers through his accepted hometown as his beloved urban purgatory- the somewhat mythical Quauhnahuac, Mexico (based on Cuernavaca, where Lowry spent much of his own life).
Under the Volcano is not a book concerned with travel, but is instead features a fascinating examination of place; particularly how it can mirror our own personal standing in life, or vice versa. Lowry paints a vivid picture of the small city, with its dirty cantinas, disappearing (and reappearing) volcano, overgrown gardens, and luminous circus spinning eerily in the night. Anyone who has traveled through Latin America will feel these places vividly on each … Read More »
Upon my death, I hereby request to be sat upright in the back of a long-distance Malaysian bus. Then, when the day comes and they find a cure for whatever it is that I succumbed to, I can be unfrozen and enjoy a nice bowl ofHokkein mee in Penang.
Buy a ticket on a Malaysian bus or ferry and you may just get a seat next to Walt Disney. Yes, Malaysia is a sweltering tropical country, and the nation’s relative prosperity now allows for some extra travel comforts. This certainly includes air conditioning, which is heavily utilized and paraded out for travelers, allowing for us to experience a bit of the Andes right in the heart of Southeast Asia.
Some tips for surviving a bus or ferry trip in Malaysia. Remember that women constitute 2/3 of all cold-related deaths. So, ladies- take note:
The stages of … Read More »
So, what’s the difference?
To a non-Asian, the divide between Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia is a curious one that takes much time to understand. But as a first-time traveler may find out, there are obvious differences in the people, the traditions, the daily lives and the social and political characteristics between these regions. Let’s try to break it down a bit:
Northeast Asia (China, Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia the Koreas, Japan and Taiwan) and Southeast Asia(Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore) are both extraordinary places to visit- with thousands of years of history, crowded metropolises, warm people and wonderful culinary traditions.
Generally, North Asian countries, while all having unique characteristics, are largely influenced by Confucianism and ancient China. With the recent economic rise of China, the continuing growth of South Korea and Taiwan and the established prosperity of Japan and Hong Kong, North Asia is one of the world’s most prosperous regions and also one of its … Read More »