Wanderlust satiated. Homefront…for a bit at least.

There is something about South East Asia. The exotic nature (both literally, and figuratively) of these places have long enchanted the western mind. The flights are brutal, parts of ones ass go numb that you didn’t realize existed. There is, however, an inherent sense of accomplishment after the grand return. When I returned from Sarawak, and Bako national park, burned and salt blasted, I felt like an exhausted, yet intensely proud “million bucks”.  Climbing a mountain, located within a rain forest in one of the more remote places on the planet, meeting with a group of good people from various countries, and taking  the view from the top…surreal magic.

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and suddenly, its all worth it.

Getting back to Singapore the next day was a drastic shift on every level. Still exotic, but in a vastly different way. I wanted to hit a few hawker markets and make the most of my remaining time in one of my new favorite cities.  I have a friend who lived in Singapore for a few years, and insisted that I make my way to what I will call “satay” street, and also to the Lau pa sat festival market, to stall number 7, and to seek out the mighty prawn debauchery that would ensue. Let me just say here and now; I survived (mostly) my pepper crab battle… Now the prawns came at me in force, in multiple numbers and their later reinforcements brought garlic, butter, and their heavier brethren, the king prawn. My imminent seafood drunk lasted near 24 hours.

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They come by the plate, and on sticks! A mighty combination.

IMG_7506 His close ally, the octopus came to join, also on sticks.

 

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all the butter garlic goodness.

This is always the pain of traveling solo. You have no reinforcements of your own. The table was soon littered with the vanquished exoskeletons of my enemies, and I lived to fight another food stall, another day.

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Victory!

Stumbling back to the wee hotel, in  haze of proper food drunk satisfaction, I counted my brief return visit to the merlion city to be great success.

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Meat sticks. Hot like fire.

My next day venture came complete with a day trip via ferry to Batam, Indonesia… which made for country # 66! Although there isnt much to Batam, and Indonesia will require quite a bit more exploration.

As I was boarding the long series of flights home, I was bummed for a bit. For a brief moment all of the things I had waiting for me on my return suddenly loomed large. I was tired. The geriatric vacationer next to me was all kinds of twitchy, and didnt fit into his seat, despite his seat-belt extender. After telling me the same details about his cruise from Hongkong 4 times I was less than thrilled about the next 11 hours.  My mind turned to the mountain of grading, the office work, the various en devours and projects I have undertaken this year…I felt overwhelmed and a touch defeated.

And then, all of a sudden it was quiet.  I realized that I was answering student emails from 40,000 ft up, sitting in a dream liner, sipping a ginger ale,  returning from climbing a mountain and running down my dreams almost harder than I know how.

…and it felt fuckin great.

I was excited to get back, see friends and family, and keep working on the projects, making needed progress.  Knock out these exams, get grades submitted and look forward to what lies ahead.

Now I acknowledge privilege.  I truly do. But for so many people, if you want to make it happen, there is one key factor that decides that.

 

YOU

 

Dreams don’t work, unless you do.

 

Find a reason to go, or be okay with your excuses not to.

 

Hope you enjoyed this savage run.

Drop me a line with any questions/feedback.

Thank you!

“He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man”

I’ve been chewing on this one for roughly 24 hours now. I arrived back in Kuching last night. Shoes still squeaking wet across the hotel lobby, sand and salt blasted hair from the beach and the South China Sea… a deep sunburn scorched across my aching body, yet smiling as if I’d won the damn lottery.

Dawn of that day I set out for Bako National Park. Which the trails into the rainforest I was destined for are only reachable by boat. (That’s how you know you’re headed into the shit).

I waited around the boat terminal for 30 min or so as I didn’t hire a guide, I simply bought the ticket, and took the ride, to the tune of about 14$ US for park admission and two one way boat taxi trips.

There is something about ripping across the water, taking the occasional spray with the few “oh shit” moments before a big wave that truly get your blood pumping, and the day started.

Once in the park, most folks have a solid idea what they are up to…I was not that prepared, I thought tagging along with a duo of Swedish girls would be fine, until they turned out to be possible marathon trainees. They selected one of the more difficult trail options and promptly vanished. So much for my Ikea jokes.

So what was I to do? Climb. Climb some more. Keep climbing.

A regular companion who made a few appearances to mock my efforts is shown above. The “bearded pig”. I was super stoked to capture a picture of one of them on the beach.

Now that my team had abandoned me, the sun was peaking and it was becoming hot. Higher I climbed, and the more sweat poured out. The doubt demon begin to take hold. “What the fuck are you doing?! YOU don’t hike mountains.”‘

“Just had to go to Borneo didn’t you”

“Ummm, hey genius, who hikes up a mountain…in the rainforest…during the wet season”

“We are lost, bearded pigs will eat our bones”

“Local news head line “dipshit dies in far away forest”

I’m thinking I might die, when a small group comes crashing around another path that runs into mine. A tall Hollander, a Swede, and a brit. All backpackers who invite me to join them. Well, I’m here to tell you, team work makes the fucking dream work. Our merry band finished the ascent, slowly but surely, and even enjoyed lunch atop old volcanic flow looking down over the beach. I’ve never been that hot in my entire life. Your heart beat coming fast right behind your eyes, sweat forcing them into slits…not enough steam-turned-air getting where it needs desperately to go. But then, there it was. One of the absolute majestic views I’ve ever been lucky enough to absorb.

My companions shared their water, and even their biscuits (cookies) with me. We joked about cultural differences, and what a miserable bag of smashed assholes currently sits in the White House.

There are certain moments which seem

To stretch out and play over and over again in ones mind. Sitting atop that mountain with new found friends watching the water crash on an untainted beach after heavy exertion is one such moment.

By the time we came down, the hour was late, a boat came for beach pickup, I wandered out into the surf, pushing and hopping in for the journey back to the city. Coming around a bend and discovering a pack of otters enjoying a late meal. I remembered a freshly posted sign warning visitors not to swim at any nearby beaches as a spate of crocodile attacks had happened recently.

That jungle is still with me. My shoes are still a bit wet. The socks and boxer briefs from that day didn’t make it back. I’m once again nestled in this crazy metropolis of Singapore and yet my mind keeps drifting back to the jungle. How absolutley alive it is. The hum and pulse of this living thing enveloping you, finally disconnected without even 3g service, just wandering through this multi thousand year being…this process…and remembering what a small place you occupy within it.

This is the first installment…as I am in desperate need of sleep 🙂

Thanks for reading. There will be on Borneo soon I’m sure

Please comment and share your thoughts/feedback.

Thank you!

To the wilds of Borneo

Remember the “wild man of Borneo”? The kind of urban legend muttered in casual jokes? He must have been best buds with “Nanook of the North” and other such sordid characters. (Or maybe just two really old movies)

This image evokes a certain connotation of Conrad esque jungle. Deep, brutal and unforgiving. Think of Predator. (The film) when Jesse Ventura’s character remarks “you lose it out here, you’re in a world of hurt”. Borneo has long fascinated my imagination. Headhunters, cannibals, etc…how could I not want to go here?!

I loved Singapore. As in I enjoyed the shit out of exploring the cultural whirlwind incased in modernity that is the premier “Asian tiger”. I could not have switched it up more than leaving for Sarawak aboard a dirt cheap Air Asia flight for the long weekend. (Which by the way, SIN is by far my new favorite airport the world over. Changi deserves its own post)

I arrived in Sarawak a bit late, and made my way into the city, having little expectation for this bustling city of Malaysian Borneo. Things are CHEAP here compared to Singapore. My 25 minute uber ride from the airport was 6$ US. Kuching is busy, but reserved and a bit understated. I started my trek, umbrella in hand the next morning. Stumbling across the layers of weekend life typical to this city.

Making my way to the riverfront I noticed a few key things. First and foremost, people notice me. I’m broad shouldered, tall (ish) and glow in the dark white. Everywhere I went people notice me. They will smile eventually, and say “hello”, sometimes nodding, or waving. So far I have yet to encounter another American here, which is tremendously rare these days. My Uber driver let me know I was his first American passenger, before informing me that our last presidential election was “big disaster”. Which at this point has become a conversation starter for me all over the world.

Thanks Obama.

Sarawak hints of the wild elements close by. The mountains in the distance and the heat. I have finally in my years of reading and traveling come to fully understand the concept of the term “wet season”. Often times thought of as “rainy season”…which has little to do with it. It rains sure, in short bursts a few times a day, but that’s nothing. The true nature of this beast is in the title. “Wet”. Everything is wet. All the fucking time. For these months, it never truly dries out. The street is wet, the buildings are wet, YOU are wet. Your shirt is stuck to your body every moment you are outside sucking in wet heavy air. “Slay your ass hot” is an understatement. Hailing from the midwestern US, we can’t know this kind of heat without being literally submerged in it.

As counterbalance to being soaked, and then frozen by blessed AC, the people here are insanely friendly. Kuching may be a stopping point for the wilds of Sarawak, but don’t overlook this wee spot on the river. The markets are cool, the people inviting, and the authenticity is high.

What about the food? Oh baby. There are hawker cafes around everywhere, and the best part is, you have no true idea what you are getting, because it’s whatever they have that day. Like a Michelin Star tasting menu, but from a plastic table. See that chili sauce in that bowl? Treat it with respect. These good size dishes are around a dollar and blast anything from a value menu to Hell. McDonald’s and such here come in at roughly 5x the price of a local dish. Kiss my sweet ass Ronald.

There it is, in all it’s uncontested barbecued glory. Kolo mee! Bow before greatness.

Of course the nature is what draws most (including me here) time for a run through the jungle and see what we can see. Thought we might need an update. The next two days will be dedicated to orangutans and Bako National park. Get stoked on it!!

Drop me a comment with reactions or questions.

The Wild man of…

Bako-National-Park-Malaysia-(Borneo)

 

This weekend here in Michigan proved rather cold. A bit of rain, overcast skies, and plunging evening temperatures. This was absolutely perfect, as I had work to do. The most important kind.

 

Plotting.

 

What kind of plotting? The adventure kind of course! The decision was looming about where to build this sites initial episode from. After weighing the feedback and thinking over this weekend, It looks as if first up will be Singapore, followed by Borneo! I’m super stoked on hitting  the big city, and then escaping to Boko natural park, and exploring the Orangutan sanctuaries. orangutan-in-borneo

Most of the votes and feedback wanted far flung, I hope Borneo accomplishes that! I will be adding more details over this next week before departure.  So be sure to check back. As always I welcome your comments and feed back, drop some words here, or email me Thegypsyprofessor@gmail.com

Happy Sunday Funday!

 

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