Throw away those travel books, travel on your terms

We are coming to a quick conclusion that to enjoy travel you must do it on your terms. That means you don’t necessarily have to follow the books, or follow the tours, or pay for every package, or fight the crowds or shed those tears of boredom visiting monuments that really don’t mean anything to you. Travel needs awareness, it helps to be aware of who you are and what it is that you want to accomplish for the day. You could be lazy or one of those freaks(nothing but respect) that gets up at 4AM and needs to accomplish 50 things by the end of the day. What is it that interests you and what is it that is feasible within your budget. Are your plans solely for a future slide show? Or are you really inquisitive about the plan for the day. Do you want to be surprised or do you know exactly what to expect? Are you really interested in standing in those long lines?

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Much of history is sad and the monuments which may be architecturally fantastic bring nothing but sad emotions. Yet why do we keep visiting them? We did that just the other day-the Korean War Memorial in Seoul which is a monument to the horrors of war, we were saddened by the history but to be frank our mood was great because the kids ran around the tanks and planes and had a great time playing. Why should I set them into a somber mood? Why not have them just play? Why not just do things on our own individual terms.

Our time in Seoul is hardly a Korean experience but we have found great richness in being comfortable with the idea of just staying at one spot. We got to experience life like the locals, we were treated like family and we have inherently expanded our family of friends. We didn’t visit many of the tourist sites-our travel within the city was prioritized by what’s easily accessible, is there room for our children to run about, will we get a good feel of different Korean demographics, will there be good and genuine local food and was it low cost or free? Our budget constraints had us avoid many fee based theme centers but we managed to make the most of the local parks, street vendors, a walk to a stadium, watching the para olympics, intentionally getting lost a few times and just following the locals get around their daily lives. We did this on our terms and the result was that we are very satisfied.

Here are some considerations when reading a travel guide. It helps to be aware of who exactly wrote the book? Is it written by someone who is paid to fill out the pages with destination guides and just shares the result of spending an inordinate amount of time visiting mostly historical sites whether they like it or not. They seldom put in their emotional responses to these places. That’s just left to travelers to find out the hard way. And I don’t care how fantastic a monument maybe, if I suffered during the process it always leaves a bad taste.

I am finding that blogs by locals are a much better way to go. Why is it that in every city you don’t see many of the locals enjoying their day at the tourist spots? Or the historical monuments? Do you do that in your own town or city? The locals are usually hanging out with each other in fun neighborhoods, going about their business of daily living but also trying to enjoy a good quality life. Why not just follow the locals around? We like it. 

Enjoy your travels and if you can, try to do it on your own terms and talk to the locals. I promise you will have a much better time. 

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Express yourself

In support of the umbrella

 
 
“Repress anything and it becomes valuable. Repress more, and it becomes more valuable. Don’t repress and it loses all value. Express it, it evaporates.” – Osho

Indonesia Summer 2014

IMG_2114We enjoyed a month in Bali and the city of Jakarta but due to a motorcycle accident we were immobile for about 10 days towards the end of the trip. The climate in Bali is wonderful however the island is now packed with tourists and its a zoo in many areas.

 

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“The 12 hour night” by Charles Bukowski and one year after I quit my job

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Sharing momo culture with a wonderful Korean family in Seoul

Its been exactly one year since I quit my job in Seattle. At the beginning of 2013 I was sort of cozy. I was 44 yrs old and going on almost 18 yrs working as an engineer with King County. I found myself in quite a comfortable situation. I had a relatively easy job, 18 years of seniority has its perks – we got almost a month long vacation time, good pay, great benefits and job security. We lived in a nice house, our bills were paid on time, we had a routine that was simple and all in all a comfortable example of living the American dream.

But deep within there was a great deal of unhappiness. I wasn’t performing as I should at work, the dedication wasn’t there. My primary objective at work was to keep that paycheck coming. Any attempt for self empowerment and involvement in decisions was quashed by a hierarchal system and work culture suffered from inefficiencies typically found in government and big companies. I smoked pot-obsessively and fell into a cycle of marijuana euphoria and when the high faded I was angry-at home and at work.

I found myself in a great deal of confusion. I remember indulging in self pity, being angry all the time, quarreling with my co-workers, being tardy and causing propaganda against others. I found a rebellion in me to fight the status quo, I did it mostly wrong but I started to stir up other employees. We were heard and committees are formed. Committees by definition is the death of a cause. The ego was out of control, and when it is so you only blame others.

One day I got a call about my son, my wife said that he was segregated in school from participation in PE due to his autism. I immediately felt a deep pain, I was mad as hell and I felt very vulnerable.

Then it clicked to me, I must make a change to solve my worry about my son. I thought I need to make sure he is financially well taken care off in his future. I decided to start a business, an engineering company. I began to recruit people. I thought about a set up that would instill some of the same work culture systems you see in Silicon Valley.

At the same time I decided to start a beer shop, the craft brew industry was taking off and I thought I could get a piece of the action. I researched, I met many master brewers and I began to consume (test?) large amounts of beer. I couldn’t tell one from the other but she was great at distinguishing taste. We were excited, our friends and neighbors got excited at the idea and I was going mad. I contacted an Austrian company that made the best automatic growler filler. I found a used 30’x8′ cooler, I was negotiating with agents for a commercial space. 2 deals fell through, now I was close on signing with an attorney and my 3rd space. It was close to home and I bought the rights to growler30.com (our business name). I thought I would revitalize growler culture back into America.

Last but not least, at that time I decided to enter politics. I put my name in for city council and got some energy moving in that direction too. I said fuck this feeling of being powerless, I’m going to take on the power myself. A vacancy had opened due to the resignation of a supposedly corrupt council member, so I applied. I knew I wouldn’t get it but I was just initiating the start of a campaign. I had confidence that I could recruit enough minority votes, I was visiting people and talking to people everywhere about my ideas. A Mexican friend who worked on radio said he’d help during the campaign. My political ambitions began to form.

Is anyone laughing yet? :) Yes, I was spiraling out of control. Fortunately my engineering brain came to the rescue. One day I did an analysis on the amount of time I would be removed from the presence of my family because of all these initiatives. As you can guess, it didn’t look good at all. Especially if you multiply it into years or another 10 years. Then the madness stopped, I settled down to earth. And I gathered my senses, I calculated my finances, I took inventory of my skills, my investment record and I laid out my priorities.

I watched TedTALKs, I read, I listened to podcasts and I looked within myself and realized my own hypocrisy. I was able to correlate how people found success by the decisions they made. I was able to find a potential path toward inner peace. I began to read about travel. I learned that it was sometimes less costly to travel than to live in America. I began to realize the viciousness of the societal traps, 30 yr mortgages, college fees, the constant borrowing and the mundane life I lived. I began to find courage to take on the challenge of creating a happy future for my family. I read Dave Ramsey’s quote “we buy things we don’t need with the money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like”. I also learned about the concept of observing ego and mindfulness. I found that the answers were all within our own nature as human beings. I found that society many times just fucks it up for us.

So I talked it over with my wife and children, we all decided together to sell all and travel. It took us a while but we sold the house ourselves to a lovely young couple. And then we travelled first to Disneyland to treat the kids. And then onto India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and now Korea. I think we’ll be doing this for a long time and there is so much to see. We have never looked back. And as with Charles Bukowski, we feel our lives have been touched by magic.

“the 12 hour night” by Charles Bukowski

I found myself in middle age
working a 12 hour night,
night after night,
year after year
and somehow there seemed to be
no way out.

I was drained, empty and so
were my co-workers.
we huddled together
under the whip,
under intolerable conditions,
and many of us were
fearful of being
fired
for there was nothing left
for us.
our bodies were worn,
our spirits whipped.

there was a sense
of unreality.
one becomes so tired one
becomes so dazed,
that there is confusion and
anguish mixed in with the
deadliness.

I think that, too,
kept some of us working there.

12 hour nights.
I can’t explain why I
remained.
cowardice, probably.

then one night I stood up
and said,
“I’m finished, I’m leaving
this job now!”

“what? what? what?”
asked my comrades.

“do you know what the
hell you’re doing?”

“where will you go?”

“come back!”

“you’re crazy! what will
you do?”

I walked down the rows
of them, all those faces.
I walked down the aisle
past rows and rows of
them,
all the faces looking.

“he’s crazy!”

then I was in the elevator
riding down.
first floor and out.
I walked into the street,
I walked along the street,
then I turned and looked
at the towering
building, four stories high,
I saw the lights in the
windows,
I felt the presence of
those 3,000 people
in there.

then I turned and walked away
into the night.

and my life was touched by
magic.

and it still
is.

 

Meaning of life

Joseph Campbell said “deep down inside, we don’t seek the meaning of life, but the experience of being alive”. I have found this to be true.

The process in which you experience being alive can come in many ways but it must be on your own terms, travel is just one of the methods. Travel sets you in different locations and you face different circumstances everyday. That is why people tend to generalize that the only avenue to feeling alive is by travel. I disagree, I think you can experience this change within your mind, or by changing attitudes, or by finding congruency in what you do for a living and where you find your passion or by inventing and creating new experiences during your free time.

If you avoid change and avoid getting outside your comfort zone-you will feel that void. I know because I felt it many times in my past.

Travel update: We are currently in Korea, after travel through India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan. :)

Genius book of world records for me?

Today while I was sitting outside a store here in beautiful Bali, I realized I am sort of an alumni from 9 different colleges: North Point College Darjeeling(1 yr? Can’t remember), Delhi university ( almost 2 yrs, I flunked one year miserably due to another possible record for low attendance), University of Rhode Island (2 days), Univ. of St. Thomas(one day), Troy State University (8 months-here’s where I took things more seriously), South Seattle Community College, Green River Community College, Bellevue Community College and finally 2 yrs at the University of Washington in Seattle where I finally received a B. Sc in Civil Engineering. Can I be in the genius book of records or fools? Talk about school of hard knockabouts. Haha

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