Trip Notes

Random Notes
——
Today I met another Hater Hippie. I’ve so far found two in my travels and I suspect many more to be dwelling around the Asian continent. These people have left western culture and joined the Orient, usually sometime far back during a war like Vietnam, and they spend their time being angry and hateful towards both development, globalization, and the past. Maybe it is just when they are talking to travelers, but they seem to be just livid about anything Western. Today I met a man who “moved from the Wasteland” back in 1968. He seemed like he really wanted me to listen to all his hate against “those fuckers”. I understand the world is unfair and tragic, but singing crude and lewd outdated chants, like he did for me, is a little… insane. They also seem to keep stock examples of how criminal the United States has been to other countries. I see these people as a bit pathetic, or even creepy.

Everything that could be wrong with a country short of canablism is wrong with India.

I wonder if people in rocky environments would understand Japanese rock gardens

In Nepal, everyday is Halloween and the kids want sweets

I think I’ve learned more about what is valuable in life.

My head is an aquarium of phrases from different languages swimming around

India – I’ll never do it again

Asia: where your cell phone costs more than your house
Ghetto: where your car costs more than your bail

Chinese scrabble would never work

Lessons
Never give your laundry bag to the laundromat
Never believe a deal that is too good to be true
Never drive too fast on a motorcycle
Always ask the price before buying
Don’t lend things to other people

Hilarious situation: put a redneck American on a Punjab bound train from Delhi

Saw goats standing on a car to reach leaves on tree

Famous Large Mountains I’ve Climbed
– Haguro san
– Ishizuchi san
– Tapsa (Jeonju in SK)
– Huang shan
– Hua shan
– the peak in Cameron highlands
– Kyaiktiyo
– Nwa labu
– Adams Peak

How I’ve changed:
– I use a heck of a lot less toilet paper
– less sympathetic to beggars
– more racist than ever
– less daunted by unplanned excursions
– better judgement of distances
– stronger stomach
– weaker upper body
– less likely to lose things

New Asian Superpowers
– able to cross streets full of traffic
– able to withstand any food put in my stomach
– able to sleep in any kind of bed in any sort of noise
– able to completely ignore touts and beggars
– find things at their smallest price

He dances worse than a gogo dancer at a bar in Patpong district of Bangkok

billion people per million square kilometers
China: .138
India: .391

Painting: Hira Chand Dugar – Dal-lake

This museum is so old it should belong in a museum

Restaurant with a gimmic
I know I know it’s serious

Saw girl wearing shirt- legalize cocaine

The problem with travelers is that they are usually under stress and react more to negative situations and annoyances, causing them to misrepresent their culture as being a bit more like that

(talking about drinking)
“if there’s one thing we know how to do in the navy…”
“it’s look for mines.”
“heh heh, that’s right.”
“and that’s mine drink!”

As someone who enjoys the aesthetics (among other things) pertaining to noir films, I deeply appreciate the similarities between window blinds and coconut tree leaves

I have a new theory on ghosts. If they exist, then they take on a full human form and look exactly like other people, and have physical characteristics too, but they just disappear at times. That’s why more people have not noticed them.
You know how I know there are no ghosts? Because I watched Scooby Doo
as a kid.

I propose a new definition of success: the ability to bypass wealth to find enjoyment in life

Today I was dog tired, but unfortunately it is a dog eat dog world.

Serrated horizon

Roy Chapman Andrews

Kevin told me I “watch the landscape like I read a book”

Localized Adventures

Rubber bands, plastic bags, a knife, bottle opener, tape

Plastic bags on scarecrow arms to make them move

I had never seen a man spit so much. He must have had a grudge against dry land.

Asian Food
I’ve noticed that I kind of dislike a few of the Chinese native foods available. It just has an entirely different smell, taste and texture than I usually would associate with food. And it also sometimes does not seem so satisfying. Like street food. Stinky tofu is beginning to become very annoying because you can smell it a block away and it just smells like someone feet after they’ve walked a marathon. The various types of meat balls also are not that satisfying, as if they lack spices and seasoning. I’m sure some of the street stands do include that, but not many of the ones I’ve visited. It’s also incredibly difficult to eat these foods. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to chomp off noodles when you pick them up with chopsticks, or to slurp them to the end. And sometimes the food is just something that I know if I weren’t ambidextrous, it would become very difficult to eat, especially the ones using both chopsticks and the spoon. Maybe I just need to get used to it all. I know that once I get to Japan I’ll find a lot of good stuff I like.

Also around Asia there seems to occasionally be this waft of smell that I normally associate with tooth decay and old men (maybe related?). Or like old train stations (also maybe related?). There are a lot of smells that seem to be recurring. Not all are good.

I cannot seem to find trash cans when I need them around here. You’re pretty much screwed with the wrappers and skewers you get from street food for a couple blocks. And there are almost no napkins.

The Chinese language is completely alien to me. I was wondering today if it would even be possible to decipher the language if you had no other guide than a bunch of text, as if you were an alien culture stumbling among some ancient human ruins. Just looking at it superficially, it’s like some artist on heroin tried to draw an urban scene involving telephone poles, trains and houses, and many drawers. It just makes absolutely nonsense. And even if I stare at a multitude of these characters and try to identify the same parts, it’s all for naught because I make no progress at all.

It’s already a several day occurrence that I am the only foreigner on a bus or in a restaurant or on the subway. This attracts a lot of looks, and I can’t figure out what these people are thinking when they look at me. These young girls in front of me in line for the subway today kept on giggling and shooting glances at me. Did they think I was cute? or funny looking? or was there a booger hanging out of my nose? I have no idea. Another thing is that I’m a short foreigner, which I suppose is unexpected. Being American means you have to be 6 feet tall at the least. No one has noted this yet directly to me, but I’ve noticed all the other foreigners here are about that height. And I don’t talk to the foreigners either.

I’m also very young, so whenever I go to a place with all these old people we exchange beaming smiles. I feel like I’m bringing youthful energy to those places. In specific I’m thinking about the hot springs in Wulai. They just seemed to love me there, and it was really nice. Even though we communicated in smiles and pointing.

I’ve found a mixture of friendliness and hostility here. Some people are the friendliest, and will try to help me as much as they can. Others just say “sorry” and don’t want anything to do with me. There are a few consistencies. Anyone who is directly trying to sell me things will always be fairly hostile and rude, especially if they don’t speak English, or if they realize I’m not going to buy anything from them. Anyone who is not receiving anything from me, on the other hand, will usually be fantastically friendly. This seems to be true when asking people on the streets for help. This one woman who was hanging around at her mother’s friend’s hot spring spa is a good example of someone who wasn’t directly getting money from me, so she gave me all the good information on what to eat and where to go, and showed me all the different rooms for the spa. Public servants can go either way, like police officers and information booth guides and ticket sellers. Some are friendly, some are not, which by the way has nothing to do with how helpful they are.

Another thing that I’ve been thinking about is that there are a few sights that I happen to stumble upon, or experiences I have, that are so much more worthwhile than seeing some monument or tourist attraction. In Hong Kong there was some small kid waving around a realistic looking toy gun and running down the street. I was walking around Taipei 101 and there was this modest looking girl in front of me, with very plain glasses and a blue dress with a simple floral pattern on it. Suddenly a gust of wind came by the path we were walking on and lifted up her skirt so high that I got a very clear view of some very sexy black underwear she was wearing. Then while on the bus coming from Keelung to Taipei, there were some orange LED lights strung along the side of the road, pinned every 4 or so feet, and while driving by it if you looked straight out the side of the window it looked like this crazy bobbing snake of lights. It’s like… all of these things I would love to see so much more than a stupid rock that’s in the shape of a woman’s head. It’s just that those things are not in the right frame of mind to immediately view them as the main sights. These are also not place specific sights so much as they are the rare visual attractions of the world in whole. It’s just unfortunate that those are so under rated. And it seems that they don’t attract attention because they can’t be marketed or expected.

Oh yes. Umbrellas. It seems that the majority of women in Asia have a hatred towards the sun and rain, so they will always be carrying an umbrella to shield them from all things hailing from the sky. Suddenly while noticing this it hit me: Asia in a huge untapped market for umbrella hats. And then the image of all the Asians walking on the streets around me in umbrella has came into my head and I almost cracked up. Just the image would be well worth photoshopping. Maybe I’ll commission Jon to make it for me. But this could be the next million dollar idea.

I’ve also noticed that I can easily mistake an Asian person as Western if viewed from the back. They have the same color as a very tanned person, in fact my arms are now the color of a non-tanned Asian person. Really the only definite different is in the face. The nose and eyes are usually the most different, but also a bit in the ears, and the shape of the face.

I’m getting a little bit more used to the weather, but I’m still sweating quite a bit. Just now, smelling myself, I think my body odor has also changed slightly because of my change in diet. I could just be imagining things, or I’m just soaking in the smells of the places I’ve been to.

I haven’t had too much down time, and this is a problem because I know I need to relax and take this trip slower than I am. I don’t have to go out every day, but I feel like I should because I’m here in a foreign land. Although at this point I feel like I’ve completed Northern Taiwan, at least enough to be satisfied, and I can sit back over the next few days, unless I have some crazy partying with Tiffany.


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