The Essence of Compassion (AKA: my Bad Ass Mother)

Wow, so after some strenuous defrosting of the ice block that I’ve apparently been frozen in, I emerge from my hibernation in the attempt to share an update on la vida loca. So, here I am breaking the ice (ha! Get it?). After five months of not writing a post (minus my coltan in the Congo paper), I fill you in to the tune of my clicking keyboard…

I begin with wishing my baby bro a happy belated 19th birthday. May the freedom of legality bring you the liberty to purchase booze and cigarettes at the flash of a government-issued photo ID. I’d also like to take this paragraph as a chance to thank him for teaching me how to better communicate with people. Because of your ability to be straight-up and honest with me, Kaleem, you make it that much easier for me to realize how much of a (1) nuisance, (2) royal pain in the arse, and (3) mellow-dramatic baby I can be at times. Further, I honestly do not take your trust for granted. Whenever you’re sweating the small (and large) stuff, and find comfort in opening up to me, I not only consider myself privileged to have a snippet of your trust; but I also see an opportunity of learning more about you and myself in this brief moment of “spilling the beans” as some would say. If you’re reading this, and rolling your eyes at how sappy this is, I’ve done my job right. Love you like a brutha – oh wait…

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ImageKaleem poppin’ squats and getting his pre-game fuel since his junior days. Always were a little body builder, wernchya’?

As a ritual in my writing, I usually touch base with the academics; followed by something travel-related; proceeded by alcohol references/jokes (I swear, I’m not an alcoholic, but honestly some of the most hilarious moments I’ve ‘remembered’ or witnessed, have been that much more funny thanks to a cheeky little bevvie); and most likely continued by how my dadi-o has been a consistent inspiration throughout these moments. But I feel the unwitting need to dedicate a good chunk of this post to the person who I consider to be the epitome of humbleness without effort, optimism that comes naturally, and all around loveliness; and that person is my forever-smiling mama.

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Rewind to over 21 years ago to a time to when a newly-wedded lady emigrated from one of the Indonesia’s larger bodies of land, Sumatra, to huge-ass, chunky, Canada (to put it eloquently) in order to start up a new life with some gringo (my dad), who had a mustache that was strikingly passable for that of Tom Seliks. After a couple of years of putting a dent into the West Coast, a super excellent humanoid (who only gained her excellence through genetics) was sliced out of the Sumatran native’s belly, and two years later, the birthing process repeated itself, only this time, excellence came with different reproductive organs (i.e. dude, not dudette).

ImageExcellence pt. I ft. Sumatran goddess.

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Excellent pt. II ft. a very intellectual conversation with some gringo.

Fast-forward 21 years, and the Sumatran lady (my mother, in case y’all haven’t clued in yet) continues to be tough as nails, and I cannot fathom what an incredible person she is to this day. Now, let me just say that the idea of permanent residency in a foreign land poses as exciting as equally as it does scary to me, because of the both travel- and family-oriented broad I am. But my mom’s case is especially unique because of the large family she comes from, that consists of so many complex layers: all which make the idea of moving overseas near impossible.

Let me just paint a picture for you here: because of the former Dutch colonial rule, the idea of an Indonesian marrying a Caucasian lad challenges the pre-existing bitter dynamic between the two groups – although that’s a very general statement, but you get my drift. Out of the seven sisters in my mama’s household, there was a widely-held assumption amongst family and friends of their family that she was my Opung’s (Bahasa for “grandpa”) most ‘prized’ daughter (excuse the objectification). Because her birth followed the miscarriage of the only boy my Nenek (“grandma”) and Opung managed to have, she was like the son he never had. Furthermore, her against-the-grain demeanor (e.g. going to a Catholic school, when they weren’t even Catholic; majoring in Japanese in university just cause; informing her parents the day before departure that she had signed up for a CWY exchange to Canada) made/makes her distinctive to the already fascinating characters that are her sisters.

I find that having this relation at the core of her departure is not only inconceivable (because of her family’s deeply embedded roots on Sumatran turf – both mental and physical), but inspirational. By dedicating her life to the unknown, my mum’s kahunas and bravery are truly moving.

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Ma’s pad back in the motherland (Tanjung Merawa). How could you not miss a place like this?

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3/7 of the sisters: Mida, Tetty, Itot.

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Mama in the middle, with her sister to the left, and of course, the queen of the household to the right: my Nenek.

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5/7 of the sisters (including my ma) and Tom Selleck.

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The chicest and most beautiful.

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Dinner with Opung (with dad about to crap his pants).

After a recent arrival from a trip back home, I can hear the sparkling nostalgia in her voice as she speaks of the rollercoaster of adventures she shared both solo, and with her sisters and their families. Despite the sturdy façade, I can’t help but question if that there is an imbalance of emotions (i.e. the longing of wanting to be in the motherland). Regardless, this Sumatran broad is what I consider to be the essence of compassion. Ma, if you’re reading this, I just want to say “terimah kasih, for all the sacrifices; the blood, sweat and tears; and the care that you have given to those around you on Canadian soil. I hope that the seeds that you have planted here can continue this legacy – NO MATTER WHERE WE ARE IN THE UNIVERSE. You inspire me to be kind; to not be engrained in my ways; and to treat the world as my oyster. You remind me that regardless of our location, we always have family and friends somewhere”.

So folks, let this post serve as an inspiration to be inspired, and to be grateful for gratitude and not take it for granted (I’m sorry, but all those Gs just make me feel like a G-G-G-Unit). Love you mama, dadi and Kaleem. You guys are not only my rock, but rock my world.

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PS: MAJOR shout out to my dad for snapping these B-E-A-U-TIFUL photos back in the day.

PPS: while we’re here appreciating the small things in life, I just want to thank Mother Nature and all the farmers for peaches. Bought myself a bag the other day, and I speak the truth when I say that each bite was sheer ecstasy.

Stay peachy,
Gonzo

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Today Marks the One Year Anniversary of a New Layday

Actually, that’s a lie; today marks a one year and two day anniversary of a new layday. That’s right, folks: it’s been a whole year since Gonzo returned to the True North from gallivanting in some of the nooks and crannies of SE Asia. Since then, that monumental life experience has constructed the broad that y’all know and love today (yikes, make that a pompous broad).

But in all seriousness, I can genuinely say that the marvels of travelling have forced independence; ignited curiosity; and create some sort of enlightenment and acceptance with who you are and your ‘purpose’ (if that’s the right word). So, at precisely 13:41 on May 10, 2013, sitting in my boudoir, what was the major life-changing ‘lesson’ – if you will – that I got from exploring some corners of the globe?

If we want a particular future,
use your moulding powers to its full advantage.

“What in tarnation do I mean by that, and how in Shiva’s name have I applied that to mi vida within the past year?” you may be asking. I’ll make it short and sweet. What I mean is: don’t be lazy! If you know you have the ability to conquer a goal, do it. I’ve applied this to my life so far through mostly: academics and health (if you want to know the details, leave a comment).

So anyway, there’s my opener, BUT, I also owe you an update on the finale of this year’s adventure abroad. I left off on Day 03 in Ubud, which was written in the afternoon. As fate would have it, the evening unravelled some pretty gonzo-esque events…

UBUD, BALI (CONT’D):
Day 03:

  • So later on that afternoon, after writing the previous post, I walked back to my new homestay at Ubud Sedana, where I got acquainted with my new neighbour: a German lad, who is presently residing in Australia.
  • We were both nearing the ends of our stay in Ubud, so we decided to meet back up later that evening to go to one of the most ‘happening’ pubs in Ubud to finish off our trip with a bang.
  • After three rounds of Extra Joss and vodka, and whiskey and Coke, we found ourselves chillin’ at the pub with good company and shisha. However, after topping off the former drinks with six more shots and a lychee mojito (you can’t get any more multicultural than that), I had to run back to the homestay, only to cleanse my body of the drinks via my esophagus.

Day 04:

  • Bless the souls of the roosters in the courtyard of Ubud Sedana: if it weren’t for them, I probably would have slept in, missing my flight back to Medan.
  • Because the doors can only be locked by a room key from the inside, rather than a standard lock, I woke up in laughter while still in a semi-drunk state, as I had momentarily lost my keys (which were hiding in the in crevasse of my bed), therefore locking myself in my room. Whoops.
  • Again, lucking out in Bali, my former scuba diving instructor that I had last year while living in Makassar (who over the past year has become a bro), was diving in Tulamben. He and his school mate from his studies in Holland – who is actually originally from Spain, but currently living in Koh Tao, Thailand (remember that lychee mojito? I take that back: you can’t get any more multicultural than this) – were heading down to Denpasar the same day I had to catch my flight. Perfect! Killed three birds with one stone: saved 50,000 IDR in transportation costs, travelled with old/new pals, and trekked in the comfort of the private auto mobile (a major bonus considering my nausea).

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Some hungover chick, the scuba diving master, and the Spaniard living in Thailand who studied in Holland (again, multiculturalism at its finest)..

MEDAN, SUMATRA:

  • After a four hour delay in Jakarta, my family back in Medan so graciously picked me up at Polonia International Airport during the wee hours of the morning.
  • The remainder of my stay in Medan essentially consisted of family gatherings, family gatherings and family gatherings. And I can’t complain. It was amusing reminiscing on and fascinating learning about my childhood in Indonesia (apparently I used to be covered in mosquito bites and calamine lotion. Fun fact: I’ve never gotten malaria), and discovering the Batak roots of the Siregar family (e.g.: being raised on Dutch colonial sites; the palm oil plantation bizz; each of the seven sisters’ – including my ma – adventures during their adolescence ).
  • One of the most genuine relations I’ve had with my mom’s side of the family has been with my uncle, Om (uncle) Kiki, who I remember used to carved me and my brother wooden pencil cases and draw us sketches of Earthworm Jim just for fun. When we left Medan, saying goodbye to him (and the rest of the crew, of course) wasn’t the easiest thing to do.
  • Here are some photographs of our last couple days in Medan:

ImageEnjoying ayam pecel with the most comical aunt.

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The legend (Om Kiki) himself.

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Over the short few weeks in Medan, this gazebo became the primo hangout spot.

ImageSome very modest cousins.

LIFE AFTER INDONESIA (BUT STILL IN ASIA):

  • After the expected few hours of sleep that we got during our final night in Medan, mi madre and I hopped on a plane to Singapore, where we spent one night in Little India.
  • Although we were burnt out anyway, we thought we’d exhaust ourselves out even more so we could go to bed early (having to wake up at 2:30 the following day in order to catch an early morning flight to Hong Kong). Activities included being overwhelmed by the craziness of Mustafa Centre, being overwhelmed by the craziness of Orchid Road, and not being overwhelmed by the craziness – but rather at ease with the tranquillity and aroma of shisha – on Arab Street.

ImageLittle India.

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Mayhem on Orchid Road.

ImageMosque on Arab Street.

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Alcohol-free perfume shop.

  • After our short stay in Singapore,we boarded a plane to Hong Kong where we had a short (just kidding) ten-hour layover. So, we did some exploring in the city centre and had dim sum (duh) in Kowloon.

ImageRia getting her bean curd dim sum on.

ImageSleepy time in HK (I am so with you gents).

LIFE AFTER ASIA (IN CANADA):

  • Well, obviously I miss Indonesia like crazy, but we gotta face the reality that all good things come to an end.
  • Exciting things are brewing for Gonzo (work back at the summer camp and transferring universities) in the months to come.
  • However, travelling will ALWAYS be on my agenda. In fact, as soon as landing on home turf and being reunited with family and freinds, discussion of future travels were already being talked about.
  • Picked up the bruv the day after our arrival from his rugby tournament in Japan, and I am genuinely thrilled about the new lad that this opportunity has made out of him.

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Travel sickness will probably take a bigger slap to my face once I get over this jet lag, but in the meantime, let’s leave this post on a optimistic note. Welcome home, Kaleem. Hope your recent travels have brought the same joys that mine did this time last year (plus two days).

Yes, My Eyebrows Are Real

Salutations from Ubud, where Gonzo is presently mooching off a Mexican restaurant’s wifi (authentic, I know).

Since setting up camp in Lombok, life has been eventful. Let me fill you in in the most organizational manner I can provide for you…

SENGGIGI, LOMBOK:

  • In sum, adventures here consisted of bonding with my most comical aunt, and the mamacita. Also, the original intent of the trip here was to check out my mum’s old stomping grounds when she was the leader of Canada World Youth (an exchange program, AKA the program that hitched my ‘rents… essentially I owe them a big one, or yours truly wouldn’t be alive).
  • Went to the Sade Village. Members of the village still practice their age-old tradition of kidnapping potential wives, all in the name of love.
  • Later, we went to Kuta Beach (which is not be confused with Kuta, Bali), where we spent a mere 10,000 IDR ($1.00 CAD) for a fishing boat to take us out to sea so I could swim in my undies and urinate in Lombok’s beautiful turquoise waters (I’m so sorry).
  • Our driver (but I’d rather call him a homie) Zacky then drove us back to Senggigi, where my mama and auntie bought martabak manis/terang bulan (an extremely rich pancake from originally from the Middle East), while I pulled a classic Mir Mir manoeuvre and got masakan Padang bunkus (to-go).
  • Spontaneously booked plane tickets for the three of us to head to Bali.
  • Met family friends from Medan who run a pediatric centre in Lombok. Extremely friendly, and gave me jell-o. Yum.

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DENPASAR/KUTA, BALI:

  • As luck would have it, the mother was fiercely struck with a stomach illness as soon as we landed in Denpasar (I should throw in that our plane getting there was hella old school – we’re talking propellers so loud I couldn’t even hear the flight attendants on the intercom, and luscious navy blue shagged furnishings – groovy, baby).
  • But, typical Ria (my mum) was such a trooper and recovered the next day after being heavily medicated by prescribed antibiotics by another aunt back in Medan (who actually helped me quickly recover from a stomach flu when I was sick last year in Jakarta).
  • Because of the present situation, we hectically jumped to reserve a hotel right on Kuta’s main strip. Felt like I was in rap video. Yo.
  • In fact, this hotel was located right next to the surf school that me and bruv went to last year when we were in Kuta, and go figure: they remembered us! On a side note, you gotta appreciate how stoned the surfers look because of excessive exposure to salt water (or maybe it’s not the water…).
  • Checked out Pasar Krishna, which is pretty much a crazy Costco/Tesco/whatever y’all have in your country of residence, but solely committed to Balinese souvenirs.
  • Went to a Hard Rock Café for the first time, and surprisingly I thoroughly enjoyed it: the live music was good, excellent stage present, and it was grand just watching my mum and her sister enjoying themselves.
  • Mama and the aunt headed back to Medan after two nights in Kuta, while I stayed on the island, and found myself headed a bit further up north for Ubud.

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UBUD, BALI:
Day 01:

  • Before going to the homestay, the youngster who drove me took Gonzo to a sweet temple after swerving around the afternoon traffic that builds up as flights from everywhere land and provide travelers who crave the zen ambience of Ubud.
  • After arriving at my homestay (Pondok Oka), I went for a long walk about Ubud’s centre with memories of last year’s travels with family and friends (awe).
  • Went to Gianyar’s night market, which is all about the babi guling (suckling pig), which I passed on, but helped myself to some sayur pecel, tempe and papaya. PS: a lady I photographed last year who made me sayur pecel was in the exact same vending spot. Check it out the original photo here.

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Day 02:

  • Kicked off the morning with some pisang goring courtesy of the homestay and a tomato smoothie (so delish), and a morning chat with Agung, one of the gentlemen who runs the homestay.
  • I’ll throw in this: the two guys – Agung and his nephew, Agung (no joke) – who run the homestay, are some of the most accommodating and happy folks I know. Not only did they provide a bike for me to ride free of charge (all about the savings, baby), but seem to take deep interest in the well-being of their guests.
  • Went to Ubud’s art market to get some more souvenirs. But before delving into the art of the market, chilled outside with some new buds: a taxi driver and a parking guide, who initially didn’t believe my eyebrows were real. After gallivanting inside (and getting more remarks about the brows), hung outside again with the new pals, this time minus the parking guide (who was busy making it rain IDR directing motor vehicles), but ft. an toothless older gentleman, dressed in Balinese attire, offering body massages (what?).
  • Found a rice field with a cement path and stairs that allowed me to enjoy leftovers from Gianyar smack-dab in the middle of the greenery. Best lunch I think I’ve ever had.
  • Checked out the Balinese tradition of the Kecak dance (known as the monkey dance), which is followed by a fire dance, where a horse rider who is in a trance runs through hot coals. The horse (made of straw) carried by the rider and gamelan beats puts him in a trance that allows him to run through the coals. The function of this segment of the dance is to protect society from evil forces. Again, Agung’s hospitality was brought to the surface as he accompanied me and gave a lift to and from the performance.
  • Finished off the day with a night bike ride to the most delicious Thai cuisine (and most expensive meal in Indo at a whopping $10.00 CAD) I’ve had: crispy fish and mango salad ft. vegan thom kau soup. One of the owners, Rata, left me with some words of wisdom, and although I can’t quote him word for word, it went a little something like this: “if we are happy today, our future is happy”. In sum, be happy everyday folks, and your future looks bright.

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Day 03:

  • Today, being my last full day in Ubud, I decided to treat myself to a spa day (damn, I feel like a Stepford wife). You know, a sore ass (from biking; get your mind out of the gutter) calls for a good ol’ massage. However, the spa, Bali Hati, makes pampering yourself a good deed for others. Their program functions to empower Balinese men and women through education, employment and health.
  • We’ll see what the remainder of my stay in beautiful Ubud has for me. In the meantime, I leave you with a photo of the gents who have made my stay as excellent as it has been so far:

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As That Canned Heat Tune Once Went

ON THE ROAD AGAIN:
Due to both family matters and travel cravings, Gonzo is back on the road again, exploring without claims of objectivity. It all started in January when the news of engagement of a cousin was announced. The wedding, planned for late April, conveniently (that’s a lie) fit into my final exam schedule. This particular cousin, however, aint just any ol’ cousin. First off, and simply put: she’s the shit; the bee’s knees; the cat’s meow.

Last year, during my adventure abroad, when I was experiencing culture shock or homesickness, just chatting up a storm with this gal would ease the anxiety, and make my realize everything was gonna be A-OK. Further, the fact that she is (a) a brotha from another mutha and (b) a psychologist, she had this super power of being able to ‘read me’ and essentially pull the words out of my mouth when I struggled to express myself (damn, this paragraph is full of clichés, but I want us to all be on the same wavelength).
So, here I am, back in the motherland (Indonesia, by the way), learning more about my roots, with a side of adventure.

I LEAVE YOU WITH:
Some photos of the wedding in Medan, and the update that I’m currently in Senggigi, Lombok, zonked as ever due a 5:45 AM flight from Medan and a potential flu in the making (which makes for eyes as red as Cheech and Chong’s). Until then, zen out to this excerpt from The Art of the Pilgrimage:

“The word sacred comes from sacrifice, to cut up. That means that in order to have a sacred journey, you have to give up something, sacrifice.”

                Haven’t figured out what that sacrifice is yet, but my hopes are that it’ll be apparent during my time in this surfer’s paradise.

IMG_4259IMG_4260IMG_4263Prepping grub for the big day.

IMG_4277Vows.

IMG_4293IMG_4310So, what happens here with the food, is that relatives of the bride and groom individually feed them as a blessing.

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This gentleman explained the significance of each food article (e.g., the fish symbolizes freedom, I’m guessing the eggs have something to do with fertility, etc.)

IMG_4418Not enough food.

สวัสดี from Thailand!

So after what seems like eons of not writing, I finally find some discipline to update y’all via cyber space.

Last snippets of Indonesia:

  • Went to Yogyakarta to travel the home base for university students studying the arts in Indonesia and to meet up with the guy who took me scuba diving in Makassar. With Yogyakarta as his native city, I feel like I got the perfect dose of tourism, day-to-day life, and just all around good times chilling out.
  • The pinnacle of hilarity in the trip was when we built up drunk courage to go to a club and then bailing out as soon as we saw the array of sexy club-goers compared to our homeless, backpacking attire.
  • Went to Borobudor with Patrick (the Dutch/Indonesian scuba instructor) and his friend Markus from Papua. Simply spectacular.
  • Also attended a political demonstration which was activating against the rise in fuel prices in Indonesia. As with the Occupy movement, there was a fair share of anarchists, rallying against a cause that they just didn’t get the jist of. Oh well.
  • Spent my last few days with mama back in Jakarta before she headed back to good ol’ Vancouver.
  • Chilled with a cousin in Jatinangor at her university for a couple nights before a couple more evenings in Jakarta.
  • As of April 8th, I was Phuket-bound and 1.6 million Rupiahs poorer (don’t over-stay your visa, folks).

Thailand, thus far:

  • Hit up Surin beach with 2 girls I met at the hostel, which was INCREDIBLE. Never seen a beach as pristine as this.
  • Met a fellow British Columbian who is working as a teacher in Cairo, and since we have acquainted, we travelled to Krabi, Rai Leh and Ao Nang.
  • Rode elephants – at an ethical sanctuary! Fear not, people. The master, who I feel was either semi-loco or a tad drunk, Lulu, thought my name was Umbrella.
  • Oh yeah, and ran for our lives up a hill in Rai Leh after everyone was running and hollering, “tsunami, tsunami!”. Freaky at first, but the philosophy of most of the people at the restaurant that we were evacuated to was to drink beer to calm nerves.
  • During the evacuation, Meaghan and I met a Canadian broad and a fella from Goa who both are currently residing in Dubai. Very nice hanging out with them, and I was ultra flattered when they said it was cool that I was travelling solo at such a ripe age (little do you know, I freak out when I’m not keeping myself busy with other activities).
  • Officially became ROCK STARS! That’s right, we went rock climbing, and oh boy, it has been one of the highlights of my trip thus far, despite an aching body the morning after.
  • Celebrated Songkran back in Krabi, which is essentially a huge water fight to ring in the new year. People on the backs of trucks, motorbikes, tuk-tuks, and everything in between, engaged in a water war with pistols and buckets spitting out H2O.
  • Shitty outcome though: after having my fair share in getting soaked, I got into some dry clothes and carried my backpack for my 12 hour bus ride to Bangkok, which, little do people know (I’m talking visitors here, folks), shows no indication for travelling. Got a tub of icy water dumped on me and my luggage. The result? I came down with a 24-hour fever due to A/C and damp hair for a good 12 hours. Just minty.
  • Arrived in Bangkok and what can I say? I wasn’t a fan. Could not wait to peace it and head up to Chiang Mai. I did manage to check out Chatuchak weekend market which was sweaty, huge, overwhelming, and above all: super awesome. Also got to see the massive reclining golden Buddha at Wat Pho. Although this was a hotspot for tourists, it was bucket-list material for myself. So beautiful and in a nutshell, I was speechless.

Well, after my 17-hour train and a night at the Little Bird Guest House, I’m now I’m in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand and I have quite the bit of travelling to do in order to complete this mission I have set for myself: get to Laos by tomorrow evening; find my way to Cambodia (which may call for crossing back into Thailand – apparently the Laos-Cambodia crossing is insane); get to Ko Pha-Ngan, Thailand no later than the 4th in order to attend the Full Moon fiesta (I’m no party animal, but I’m so close that’d it be something that I’d regret more skipping out on than going to).

From a coffee shop in Chiang Mai,
Amira Loosemore est. 1993 – infinity

 Raging nanny – this lady knew what was up.

 Anarchist romance.


Evacuation to higher grounds after tsunami warnings; our new friend from Goa remains calm in the midst of chaos.


Songkran in Krabi.

Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho.

Quick Update, Thick Post

Greetings from Medan.

So, I haven’t been as persistent as I’ve been hoping to be, especially since Bali would have so much goodness packed into it. Get ready for a chunky post, people (if you’re going to shimmy through this, just jump to the last bullet point – that’s what I want you to read).

Bali:

  • Checked out the monkey forest near our accommodations. The little buggers stole Freya’s newly bought bunch of bananas, mistaken her for their mother (biting at her boob), and rubbed their poop on my pants. Splendid. But I guess you can really blame them: always being teased by tourists and all those unfortunate shenanigans.
  • Met some girls from Germany studying in England, who gave me that extra boost of confidence when they told me that travelling after finishing school is the best thing you can do. Especially when you’re as clueless about the future as myself.
  • Kaleem and I made our way to Kuta. Our taxi driver, Putu, gave us insight into Hinduism in Bali and how it differ than what is practiced in India. Mainly because the three major gods – Trimurti, Brahma and Vishnu – are all categorized into one, whereas in India, they are in different sects of some sort. What is right? That, I cannot tell you.
  • Went surfing in Kuta with Kaleem. Got some lessons from a super chill, very patient and all around friendly guy from Padang. “Horas”, my Batak brotha.
  • Overall, wasn’t a fan of Kuta. Not trying to sound like a self-absorbed traveler, but it was much preferred to mingle with the locals. I can tell you something that I know for sure, and that’s that the Balinese people rock. Always smiling, hospitable, and very bubbly. A majority of the foreigners there were drunk, shirtless and cruising the streets with their BINTANG wife-beaters being obnoxious.
  • However, one of the highlights of Kuta was a late night hunt for martabak with Kaleem, which consisted being guided down an alleyway and jumping on the back of a motorbike with a random dude to get to this little piece of heaven.
  • Met up with mama coming from northern Bali, and headed to Uluwatu. Although their were plenty of tourists here, they’re definitely the bunch I’d like to associate myself with. It’s a nice little town where a bunch of surfers go to catch some advanced waves. Myself? I’ll just watch. Still a rookie.
  • After two nights in Uluwatu, went back to Ubud to reunite with out family friends, and enjoy our last couple of days in Bali.
  • Oh, and some more random hitchings of motorcycle rides.

Jakarta:

  • Final days with friends and my little bro.
  • Discovered that my second eldest cousin is the coolest person ever. It’s different talking to a psychologist on a personal, more casual level as to discussions with your pals. They read you so well and essentially say all the things your words lack and what you struggle to explain. Kak Wita, you rock, my friend.

Medan:

  • Reunited with a majority of my mama’s side of the family. That needs a whole post to itself to get the gist of the different dynamics, personalities and all-around interest that I, and I’m sure many others, would find in observation of these 5 out of 7 sisters. Let’s just say that each one has their own cliché character: the drama queen, the free-spirited tomboy, the stubborn one, the cautious sister, the humble being, and the list goes on… slash, I don’t want to be disowned by my family.
  • Learning about my mama’s youth has also been one of the coolest experiences in my adventure. Staying in the house she grew up in really dawned on me how rich and dense her family history is. It’s not the first time that I’ve been here, but I guess with maturity (what are you talking about, Amira?), you develop a sense of appreciation for your roots. No matter how bizarre matters may be now.
  • Skyped my pops for the first time in a while. I know some readers may be looking at this section of the post and be skimming right through this. People, just take a moment to read this part
    Talking to him was awesome. In one word: enlightening. Before I continue, keep in mind that this is as personal as it will get, and also note, I’m not a fan, nor am I a veteran in pouring my heart out via internet. That being said… don’t hate.
    Okay, so as you may or may not know, I’m travelling. Travelling by myself. I have not yet reached the pinnacle of solo-venturing (I’m planning on starting that as of April in Laos), nonetheless, I’m still nervous. For what? Yes, I’m concerned for my safety and the customs that come as a female travelling alone, and yes, I worry that I won’t meet any companions along the way… but no.
    What I’m honestly nervous for is that this epiphany or inspirational moment that everyone speaks of when travelling won’t come along. And that challenge is even further escalated when it comes to who I can share these moments with. Meeting new people at this point, I’ve learned, is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. Sure, I’ve met people from corners from all over the globe and we’ve shared some pretty magnificent stories, but what poses as a challenge here is that all the folks I’ve met are either a.) a lot older than me and although I have no right to say this, my impression from the way they speak to me, especially at my ripe age, is that I come off as naive; or b.) if anywhere remotely close to my age, are already travelling in groups. This is just being very, VERY, general, but the encounters that I’ve had with group travelers, is that they weren’t willing to mingle. That’s cool though and I totally understand that some people want to share these experiences with those near and dear to their heart. HOLD ON THOUGH, FOLKS. Before you get pissed off and I get an inbox of hate mail saying of what an ungrateful bitch I am, let me give you the best lesson I’ve learned from this – epiphany courtesy of Michael Loosemore.
    I need to be less selfish. Travelling is not about me. It’s about the world about me. Don’t force anything. Although I may not be inspired now, it’ll slap me in the face when I return home. And above all, let things happen. Go with the flow. You never know what’ll happen next, and let it be that way. After all, I’m here to travel without claims of objectivity.
    Thanks, dadi.

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