Mikes Thoughts

News, Views, Subterfuge

You’re looking good today down by the Port of San Francisco. Have not wandered here in awhile. All good.

Now its Japan in the morning after a day of flying on very comfortable airlines. Because of the eruption of Mount Taal south of Manila, I changed my flights away and booked tickets instead that cost me more $$ to Hong Kong and then to Narita yesterday. I had some doubt about the connecting flight on Cathay Pacific but Vietnam Airlines in Saigon helped me get priority seating and someone to meet and greet me at Hong Kong International Airport. She saw me to my new gate and made sure I was okay. I also had Cathay Pacific check my baggage because I checked it through to Narita. They let me know that the baggage was located and was being treated and taken to the new flight. Yay for Vietnam Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Very nice and efficient people that went out of their way to get me accommodated.

This evening at 5pm I board my flight from Narita to the US so I have time to do nothing. I have to check out of the hotel by 11am so will probably go catch the shuttle after that at noon or so. I am on a ANA flight which means food will be decent and it will be on time. Then back to California first for a week.

I am so glad to have changed my flight! I don’t like big things like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that send ash into the air and put people at risk. It’s hard enough to do things without all that and I feel sorry for the folks there. They just had a typhoon too.

Now I sit in my room at 730am and its rainy in Narita Japan. I can look out at the airport. That’s how close the hotel is. Last night I got in around 9pm here and got settled and was a bit hungry and thirsty so found the hotel coffee shop and partook of French fries and a few draft beers. A little more expensive but who is really counting. I had two delightful flights and the food was really good on both airlines. Vietnam Airlines does really nice for people on longer flights and Cathay Pacific treats everyone with respect.

On to California!

The edge will fall away from my sight Wednesday. I’ll be reaching back to a place I have not been for two years. Not a house. Not a home. A place with states that are perhaps united. A month to see, ride the Amtrak, fly just a bit. Crossing the country by rail almost both ways. A dream surfaced. Vietnam left behind.

The edge fades to a holographic memory of living easily with nothing in place. No big things like debt, property. Perhaps no friends left in those states but for a few. It’s ok. I hoboed farther and they went backwards. No beer or food or visits bring them back.

I’ve seen too much. Small streets in Kaohsiung. Cold beers in Phnom Penh by the mighty Tonle Sap and Mekong River. Side streets with nothing of note let my feet touch their mysterious presence. I saw more in the less but those that remained behind ebbed away into some past. Now they are gradually fading to other parts unknown. Will I see them? I don’t know. Maybe.

Does it matter? Not really. Life is not there. It’s in suspended animation here on the edge. I’ll reawaken it and find no purpose and no things waiting. Hanoi will greet me like a forlorn lover. It will touch my old weathered cheeks. Make love to my spirit and heart.

Then I’ll know that I’ve come all around. Will I go again to those states? I am not sure. There is truly nothing for me to grasp there. My spirit and soul slips through and will ignite passion and wonder down so many side streets and alleys. Nothing to miss when there is nothing there. The edge holds all the cards.

My last few days in Vietnam around the corner. Saigon has been a lot of fun just to walk and eat and sometimes drink. Tuesday I fly to Manila for a day and then I catch my original flight to SFO. I have a week there the first time at a Airbnb in Daly City which ends up costing less than most lodging in the city. I will wander around the US for about a month getting from California to Texas via Amtrak and then off to Orlando Florida to see my daughter. Then back on Amtrak to New York and on to Seattle across the US. The very nice thing is that all of the Amtrak voyages are in sleepers which make comfort a bit nicer and its a promise I made myself some years ago to do the Amtrak across the US. I’ll be recording the trip and my destinations with the iPhone 11 and with the new Moment Lens I have. I will have three lens to play with including the Telephoto, Wide Angle, and Macro. The ultra wide angle on the iPhone is pretty cool as well but it does have some limitations like shooting in RAW mode. I will also treat myself to a few days in Seattle and then a week in San Francisco downtown at a hotel to wander around the city with no one to see or things to do. Then its back to the edge. Back to Hanoi to live. That’s the best part for me of all this moving around is ending up for longer in one delightful, wonderful, somewhat strange place. Hanoi is a lot of fun to wander around and with a few Vietnamese friends and a long time to simply unwind from two years of wandering, I think I should reach the good point with life. I could have chosen Cambodia just as easily and bummed around there on a retirement extension which is very easy to get. I may still do that after my year visa ends in Vietnam but its likely I will spend more time in Malaysia as well since I can get 90 days there with no problems.

Blogging and Changes and Platforms and Stuff

A friend Mikka Luster changed his blogging platform from Write.As to SquareSpace. I have never used SquareSpace but in looking at its promotional materials and costs it appeared to be oriented toward professional and business movers and shakers and it offers perhaps some tools that extend how blogs work on a single domain. I am not sure because I only have one blog and cannot ever imagine a second one. Everyone though must get what works for them and as long as Mikka can write his content, share pictures and stories, I am so happy. If its easier for him, so be it. I can see why people that want more or want to be able to extend how they can manage multiple blogs, images, and other rich data want to find better resources to be more productive and be happy. For me and only for me, I left WordPress because I was not happy and I had grown tired of the prevalence of a few things which damaged the credibility to me of the platform:

  1. WordPress is oriented and focused on business users. To be able to use two rather interesting solutions you have to subscribe to higher accounts which then cost more money. There are no upgrades that blend different platform tools. You cannot just purchase a year of theme support on a lesser account. You cannot just get plugin support on a lesser account. You cannot really extend the storage if you plan on using it for images or a photography blog without upgrading to a greater account. It’s all about the push to the business account. There is also the forever frustrating likes and comments trap. Back in the Technorati days, a blog was judged with authority based on linking from another blog to a blogpost. These were harvested and Technorati would publish the top 100 list of blogs based on authority. This gave blogging the readability and referencing and one was able to continue the conversation. Now with the WordPress business orientation to me, the actual roots of blogging are soon forgotten in the push for ads and domain authority and SEO. I’m sure all that is important to influencers and others that wanna be influencers. It does nothing at all for those that merely want to create. It brings me to my second point.

  2. Creation as the Goal. To me the art and act of writing these things is the creation itself. It’s the pushing words against each other and feeling the release sometimes of producing a piece that no one may read. Here on Write.As there is no button to say “like”. There is no “comment” field. There is only creation. For those wanting to sell its probably not a platform that they would ever go to. I’m, convinced that most of the travel and lifestyle bloggers do not write for the joy of creation ever. They write to become something else. Successful, more followers, more comments. Travel bloggers do not write the feelings and thoughts of the place they just saw too often. Creation as the goal has been dropped in favor of ads and sales and traffic generation. Gone are the halcyon days of writing these things because you loved to find the words next to each other, the feeling it conveys, the joy of simple creation bending that creation to no one’s will. Now this brings me to the last point in this exposition.

  3. Joy and Love of the Word. I write only because I want to write and create and if you read or don’t read, I don’t really care. It’s my joy and love to bring words either good or bad to this canvas. Let you see and feel and find out about one old retired guy that wanders a world he has found so many and actually so few things in. It’s about taking these three things together into one focus point. Getting away from Wordpress with its myriad swings toward business accounts and those that wish to write these things not because they love the words or the goal is creation.

Luckily because of Mikka I found Write.As and I knew as I wrote the first piece that this was it. No plugins and no ads. No likes and comments. Just a canvas to exercise the words and the joy bringing them. For me, its meant more by being less than a thousand WordPress travel blogs with thousands of followers. It’s the canvas folks. It’s the method of the creation and the joy.

I wish Mikka happiness and success in his endeavors writing and I know I will find much in his stories and images. His blog, wherever he writes it, is the stuff to find. The real stuff.

And that’s how I got from here to there. It’s good to relate sometimes when you feel that blogging perhaps has gone so far down that looking up is not seeing the view from the top but just a low ceiling that many so-called bloggers want to find.

If you want detritus and BS and some dirty words once in awhile, you could find them and perhaps interspersed with little tales about the places and the little things with no real merit I have found in wandering. That joy also fuels the creation and the joy in it.

For two years it’s been me standing and looking. Seeing the little places maybe other forgot. I spent longer in places to always get a sense of life there. How people do their daily things. How small side streets lead to other streets or sometimes in Taipei to dead ends. Once I walked in Tokyo randomly down small alleys. Turned left or right. Maybe around in circles. Who knows. Who cares. Life is about circles. Crazy Venn diagrams that pulse and shine and always leave me wandering them. I don’t count places or attractions. I miss the big things perhaps. It’s always me standing.

Walking, seeing, believing in my no mission and goals and finales. The stretch has not been much yet now I find myself dreading the return to the US. So many little things touched and fewer people found. I’m not good friendship material. I know how the currents drift and people’s sails take them to new ports of call. Whether in Vietnam or Cambodia or wherever life has been the rich unfolding of little moments. I just gather them like a Neo hunter gatherer. Each one sustains me. Maybe a life spent in search of little moments is the best. Little places where I hear laughter and see the Khmer children waving and saying hello. Where nothing intrudes.

It’s me. Standing there. Living a life of moments and experiences lets me dawdle over a coffee and see the excruciating glory in mundane places. Now I head back to beautiful, wondrous and often incredible Vietnam for a year. I’ll find more mundane and trivial and share them as I ought. You’re invited to armchair the voyage. Just be patient. I move at my pace. Maybe you will see something new in the little. I still do.

The next year starts in February and Hanoi beckons. Only me standing. An old retired guy that has no real insight but will light a little path for you if you want.

Stay cool. Have no expectations. Never get jaded. I’m a terrible guide but I’ll mark the trail.

Going into my trip back to the US was a longer Middle Eastern thing. I would have seen Morocco, Turkey, Egypt and Dubai. Then the whole President Trump and Iran thing happened and more dire announcements about travel advisories and security in various places close to the countries I would visit. It’s not good if you worry about the places way too much and you are not even there yet.

So I changed everything and cancelled the whole thing. Now I head back to Vietnam for a year but what it really signals is an end to the whole wandering thing. I had known I would stop in 2020 because I had started craving longer stays and living in places for better than a month or weeks. I have gone pretty slow and do not count the places so really the change is less dramatic. What I will do now is fly back to Hanoi Vietnam and live in Vietnam for a year in various places I like. In Hanoi I will stay outside of the frenetic Old Quarter and out by the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in a location I like with wide tree-lined streets and coffee shops and restaurants. The main road leads back to Hoan Kiem Lake which is about a 15 minute walk. The area is not a hugely touristy area which is nice.

end of wandering days

I have known for some time that I would stop the wandering part of things this year like I mentioned above. I just thought it would be later in the year. It’s a different mindset but seeing as I have been craving the slowing down and seeing my friends in Vietnam longer, now is the time to make the end happen in a month or so.

With the end of the days of wandering comes the need for a place to stay so I chose Vietnam. Vietnam is an easy choice for me because I get the place and it gets me. It’s easy to live here and people, food, beer, coffee are all good. Staying longer means more time to see things that may be right before my eyes. I also slow down and the days matter even less.

So the wandering will end with my visit to the US. I’ll get back to New York on amtrak and then ride it again all the way across the US from New York to Seattle. Then I fly to San Francisco for a week and fly on to Hanoi.

Changes are good and I feel better about the course of things now than before. Now its time to eat breakfast and see Saigon in the morning. Cool breezes often ply along the earlier mornings here. Horns honk and you can see the stores beginning to vie for business. Last night it was delicious Japanese curry down the alley at a wonderful little place called Curry Shika. Today will carry forth much like any other day I find myself in. Now I know that Vietnam will keep me for longer and I feel better. The end of one kind of wandering. The beginning of another.

Change is good.

Sitting at the Corner Cafe in Saigon District One. There is beer involved and the warm Saigon evening tempts with more. Saigon is busy, big and sometimes strange. If you think you know it turn around. It’s all different. So I sit with beers and consider that in 1.5 weeks I leave this edge. This comfort. This soft pillow. Southeast Asia is habit forming. It turns you around and reboots you and pours another beer. Then it pouts and reminds you that life here is special. Different. Same. You know.

It’s Vietnam. It’s the big city where the motorbikes rule and coffee shops dictate. It’s a warm evening and I won’t be back after the 15th for months. It’s my home. This big blob on the map where people are what they are and smiles come with the territory. Where life is not measured for me by accomplishment or goal surmounted.

Now it’s should I have one more tiger draft beer and stumble back and watch old YouTube movies and dream.

It’s life and Saigon restarts itself again. This city. This manic and cool and beautiful place. Bring the draft beer one more time. I’ll survive.

Here’s to you. My tiger draft salutes you.

Greetings all. It’s the last day of the year and my last day in KL before leaving tomorrow for the airport and then flying to Saigon for two weeks. I had no real expectations when I decided to come here for the 9 or so days. I knew that things like food would always be the best here. I did not set a group of things I wished to see or tours or anything really. I just decided to go and live for 10 days like I have lived for the last almost 2 years. The last 2 years has been a random and nomadic existence where I just go where I want and do as I please. I decided last moment to not return to Philippines after KL and to go back to Saigon. So tomorrow I go. I don’t have any real expectations there besides to take my L out for dinners and coffee and spoil her a bit. She will work days all the time so I will be free to go for walks in Saigon. If you have been, you know that Saigon is immense. Wandering there is like a fantasy land of things to see. Then you have the wonderful Vietnamese people. Then you have the food. It all combines for my last two weeks on the edge for a wonderful time before leaving for a few weeks in the US split between California, Texas, and Florida. I may have mentioned that in California and Florida I will board the Amtrak with a sleeperette to travel the rails much like I have wanted to do for so long. I’ll ride from California to San Antonio Texas and take a break for a Greyhound bus and ride up to Austin to see an old friend from the IBM days and stay with her. Then back to San Antonio and two days later to Orlando Florida to see my daughter. The second Amtrak voyage will be from Orlando to New York. I’m so excited about both!

To me, 2020 is about a final set of wandering in the Middle East. Places of mystery and history, touching points of Asia and Europe, wonderful foods and people. Places I had never thought I would get to. I’ll get to see Morocco, Turkey, Egypt and finally Dubai. This gets me to June of 2020 and I get back to Phnom Penh Cambodia on June 11th. At that point, things will change for me. I’ll spend a month in Cambodia resting and doing some stuff around a new passport, visiting Khmer friends, drinking some beer, but the real thing is moving one more time to Da Nang Vietnam. Simply put, I will end the nomadic and vagabonding ways then and settle down to longer stays in Vietnam with trips every 90 days because the tourist visa I will get requires me to leave every 90 days. So I will gratefully bend to what Vietnamese immigration says and have trips planned every 3 months. My first one will be to Sri Lanka and perhaps onward to India. I have friends from Chennai to Mumbai I would like to see. I would also have to stop in Bangalore. So many places I have not been for so long. India was a dark period for me and I wish to erase those lines and create new ones.

The main thing though is I will slow down and live in different places in Vietnam for longer. I have my shortlist:

  1. Da Nang. Because Da Nang is the Han River and the Ocean and a beautiful city by both. There are wondrous islands I could go to and beautiful parks. The food and people are so wonderful there. So I will stay 90 days.
  2. Hanoi. I am always enthralled by Hanoi. It’s the meeting of old and new and the totally unexpected things one can find there. its getting to different places like Halong City. It’s finding my Vietnamese friends there and taking them out for dinner.
  3. Saigon. I love the city but the traffic... Oh boy! The city though is massive and it changes each block and there is shopping and eating and drinking. Wonderful cultural sites and places to walk solo. Nice parks and beautiful views.
  4. Hue. The city of Hue interests me so I must go back again. It’s the old capitol city and the history and culture and food there is incredible. The forbidden city and the tombs of several emperors are so mysterious. Each one speaks to a period but each one is so different and speaks to the man and the empire then.
  5. There is the city that L will likely be living in as well. Quy Nhon City is in central Vietnam and is by the ocean. It’s not so visited by tourists so I will stay there.
  6. Can Tho. I love Can Tho on the Mekong Delta. It’s where the second L lives. It’s a quiet and peaceful place where life can be lived to no one’s desires but my own. I will stay there too.
  7. Da Lat. Da Lat is the break from heat and the mountains and nature. Delicious food and friendly people. Coffee all over. I will stay there again.

As you can see there are a number of places to reach. Some are longer stays and some are perhaps weeks or a month. But all of the travel is within Vietnam and its at a much slower pace.

You probably notice I have left off places like Hoi An. It’s because I will not go back to Hoi An. It’s just a tourist zone disguised as an ancient city and I don’t like it much. A second city is Nha Trang. Nha Trang has different issues with tourism and I did not like it there so will never go back.

Rounding up the Numbers

Now its the 31st of December 2019 evening here. It’s early evening and I sit in the room considering how the year has been for me. I started this year in Cambodia and the last year has been one of vagabonding, changes, walking many miles, and eating and drinking. Who could ask for anything more? I’ve rounded up on the numbers and I know that this next 6 months will be the best and will show me more than Southeast Asia but my heart and soul belong here. Wandering in Vietnam or Cambodia or Malaysia (not Thailand thankfully). Perhaps Taiwan which I loved so much. Places that hold so many memories and the pictures that let me see. Literally thousands of pictures with different devices. Cameras that did not last and smartphones that did. I’ve left behind a lot including hefting around cameras and lens and batteries. I still carry around desire, lust, and need. Just because I get old does not mean I don’t dream or have fantasy moments on a bus or high speed rail.

When I float down the Nile River later in 2020, maybe then I will also look back at the year. The mighty and mysterious Nile. Source of all for the Egyptians. Maybe then I will see the moments and memories that have lit my path and also show me back to Vietnam and the edge.

See you next year.

I’ve been reading all the new bloggers. Those guys around less than 10 years or so. They all write retrospective posts for the past year. Many swear to put down their social media swords and laptops and phones until some day passes. Others show you all the greatness of their year or perhaps their sorrow and trials and tribulations. So sitting here in my hotel in Kuala Lumpur on the aftermath of deciding to not go back to Philippines, I decided what the hell. I mean

WHAT THE HELL!

There. That’s better. So now I can feel justified in writing my puny retrospective post and try not to mention my successes and failures but maybe remain objective. You know. Like I am throughout the blog. Hahaha. Also since I’ve been doing this blogging thing for over 20 years I feel compelled to mention my view on the current state of blogging too. After all I participate even if I changed providers to something I can actually deal with. In a word or two before getting to the meat of the matter, lets briefly talk blogging. It sucks and it has always sucked. People start them and end them and fill them with whatever they do these days to make money and become important and significant in the so-called blogosphere. Lifestyle and travel bloggers and their wordpress instances and their ads and their affiliate links are just that. It only makes the blog harder to read for what I come for. I come for the content and the words and to see if the blog measures up or goes down to my subjective measure. Pretty much one ad or affiliate link dooms it I am afraid to say. If you Pinterest you may have lost me at the first image. If you ‘gram I am gone. Don’t like this? Too bad. You will notice there is no comment facility on write.as. So go write your toady blog content with the lists and tips and tricks. I won’t be there.

Anyways, lets get started in no particular order and see where we go from here on this Thursday night.

  1. I hobo’ed and vagabonded around Asia a bit this last year. I went to Cambodia, Vietnam a few times, Laos, Thailand (never again), Malaysia (will always go back), Taiwan and a brief stint in Philippines to see my friend AFT. Then I bailed on Philippines for KL because there is something about KL that is spiritual and soulful and charming and warm. Now I am on the cusp of leaving yet again for Vietnam for two weeks because I want to. I’ll leave for Saigon on 1 January 2020 so I’ll start the new year there.

  2. I’ve been writing a bit about 2020 and what happens after 6 months seeing Morocco, Turkey, Egypt and Dubai. I’ve decided to slow down and live in Vietnam somewhere. That somewhere most likely will be Da Nang. There is a spiritual thing which will always take me back to the wonders of the beautiful city by the ocean and Han River. It also means more time in places because I’ll rent apartments or such that give me a stable value for months at a time. Vietnam has no retirement visa but there is a year long tourist visa for US passport holders. It means visa runs every 3 months which is just about perfect and tailor made for my slower wandering the last six months of 2020.

  3. On tap I believe for the final 6 of 2020 is Sri Lanka, India, and China. There is a Japan trip I want to do so maybe something else will happen. I guess the last part of 2020 is like this year in many regards. Just slower.

  4. I don’t remember if I wrote one of these for 2018 but perhaps I did over on wordpress. I most likely may have called out the year almost I had spent traveling at that point. Its not really traveling though. Its definitely not backpacking or digital nomading or round the worlding or solo hiking or solo backpacking or hosteling or doing any of the millennial stuff. Its not counting countries. What it is and I want to mention this is its counting moments and experiences. Life is better when you don’t count places. I mean what the hell is the upside of counting or planning or charting your course? All you do are those things. I don’t see many of the travel blogs and instagram influencers talking about what they actually did in a place like Taipei. Like did they wander the streets and find nothing like I did time and again? Yet the nothing was more and different and richer. Who knows. You cannot read their blogs and tell. Its too full of the 5 tips and the 10 places and the wonderful hostel experiences. No matter hostels are remarkably like US Army barracks and I did that before. So lets round this one out and say that both 2018 and 2019 were remarkable for the little I did in a few places. I mean I spent a month in Taipei. A wonderful month walking to a coffee shop or three each morning, reading the news, talking with the baristas, watching the morning traffic and people. Wonderful people asking where I was from and how I was finding their home. Over and over again this has been asked me. Once in Saigon a mom and daughter at a park wanted to make sure I was happy. I offered to tell them if I could take their picture. The mom said no but I gently urged both and of course the desire to have pictures taken in Southeast Asia took over and I was able to take a candid photograph of them. Its an interesting photograph because the younger daughter, perhaps 6 or 7 is attacking a can of Pringles potato chips while the mom and older daughter smile and talk to me.

  5. Finally 2019 was a year of nothing. No schedules, plans, requirements, responsibilities. I changed travel as much as I did it. I paid a bit more to change but my ex-wife told me to be happy with life. She also told me to meet someone special in Asia and I did do that too. I wanted to mention relationships with Vietnamese women because its so different. The cultures and belief systems are completely different to me yet L and I meet at a place. Its not a romantic or sexual relationship which I don’t want or need. Its more of a soul to soul thing. A compelling and joining thing which makes me happier and feeling like I have someone to care for me again. And Vietnamese women care! L will remind me to eat, sleep, drink water, rest each day. She admits to worrying about me when I go out walking all day. She is honest and truthful but wraps it all up in dedication and love. Its something to find. Let me tell you. 2019 was a wonder year in the relationship category.

And that kind of wraps it all up. I’m not a world traveler. I don’t count the places or when I revisit. I just know where I wish to go and I go there. If I don’t like it I change the assignment. I have done this more than once in 2019. I bailed on Thailand because I did not like it. I just cut off the remaining month of a trip there and flew to Siem Reap and partied and ate and had fun in Cambodia. I also did the same just now. It makes the wandering more primal and almost random in nature. Streets are like countries to me. I can turn left or right at a street and I can turn to or away from a country. I won’t spend my miserly money in Thailand ever again and I know the other places I will never go again. I will not go to Hoi An or Nha Trang Vietnam ever again. Neither place floats my boat. So perhaps its not so random as all that but I still feel like the old retired guy that finds fantasy and reality mixing it all together and many times ending up as fodder on this blog. I figure I have been doing it for over 20 years and its okay.

So 2020 will dawn soon. I’ll go to the Middle East, take a river cruise down the Nile, see friends in Dubai and make it back to Cambodia. All of that no doubt will be covered in my 2020 retrospective if there is one. You will have to just read along every so often and deal with opinionated assholedness.

Sorry. Or maybe not. Welcome to the end of 2019 and the beginning of more aimless wandering in 2020.

Thus ends my 2019 retrospective BS blog post. I accomplished nothing and went nowhere. And I did it for months at a time. Life is fucking good.

Greetings on Christmas Day here in Malaysia. Its the 25th of December and only a week or so until a new year beckons. I’ll withhold writing a retrospective or year in review thing and may not do it at all. Its been a pretty good year nonetheless. I made it to a number of places, went back to places, and ended up in Malaysia for the year end. Not bad.

Someone asked me about life on the road with minimal possessions and cycling slowly through the edge of Southeast Asia. Its interesting, fun, and easy. Let’s face it. Life in Southeast Asia is just easy. Its different and the same. Kinda like that quote I put on here awhile back:

same same but different

You know its the edge because more people smile, talk and ask all the questions. I met a very nice young Malaysian woman today over breakfast pastries and then 4 young women from different countries where I went for coffee after. English is spoken here widely so meeting and talking with people is so very easy. But while so much is the same there is an element of difference too. I’ve felt very blessed for both things. Its made me realize I should write about life vagabonding with nothing to stop me and with little to carry. I’m not a backpacker and far from a millennial. Neither impress me too much. The so-called travel goddesses that rack up countries and like to tweet and ‘gram and blog it are just what they seem to be. The lifestyle bloggers that touch so much and write beautiful stories on Instagram but pretty much write the tips and trips stuff on their blogs are just what they seem. Pretty much they are fluff and stuff and if you want to find the content underneath, the true feelings of a life spent doing what they seem to say they love, where do you look. Where are the articles of love and want and desire and passion for them? Where is it they wax poetic about their lives and the most personal of things? Not done hereabouts. What is it like wandering the alleys and side streets with no schedule and no place to be? There are the little Hems in Hanoi where the men sit out and smoke and tell stories and drink rich Vietnamese coffees. They wave and smile and say hello. The streets are lit with small signs of hair dressers and beauty shoppes and little coffee stands where the tourists and backpackers never go. Do the backpackers get there? If they do, they never blog it or ‘gram it or tweet it. What of meeting local people? Do they have friends in all the 50s of countries they touch? Not likely. They hang with others like them. Party with others like them. Take pictures with others like them and ‘gram them. Don’t forget the selfie in all of it though.

My friend AFT that has lived in Manila for years told me that they all come for a set of reasons to live there. Its not the mystique of Asia and perhaps he is jaded a bit about Manila. Its not why I go but if you visit the bars and nightlife and the women peddling sex and companionship surrounded by drinks and desire, you can find a reason some go. Others may go for loftier reasons. Who knows? I don’t talk to backpackers or round the world travelers or digital nomads. I mean, what the hell is the upside talking to them? AFT thinks they all look arrogant and narcissistic.

I can see them here on Christmas Day in KL too. The youngish with the fancy packs with that far off and perhaps not so noble look in their eyes. Malaysia perhaps just another country to add to their totals. Instead I see very friendly people that love to talk to others, smile, laugh. I admit to enjoying teasing them a bit too about life on the edge in Southeast Asia. From the NU Sentra Mall playing Christmas songs to the blocks where the people roam to wonderful food explorations, KL has it all. I am but a minor cog in its wheel. Spinning, changing, re-arranging itself. When you leave and come back, its not the same KL. Cities are urban experiments of change. They will reboot themselves, create new realities, and the traveler with the 3 days and 5 things never can see even a sample. KL laughs at them. So does Hanoi and Saigon and Phnom Penh. As AFT says, they are:

a non noteworthy flash in a pan

So go forward and see it all. Get the country counts. Don’t write a Christmas missive about your real adventures, thoughts, fears, desires. Create new realities for your 2020. Its all okay. I got you covered. I will go sideways while you forever charge on. Its okay. I’m but an old retired guy who lives on the edge. You are just traveling through on your way to your countries and tours and instagram moments.

Merry Christmas anyways. I’m here on the edge standing but AFT and I think you are just traveling through.

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