The itch is back

I recently received Christmas presents that were both exiting and agitating, ironically for the same reason: it made me thirst for adventure (This is of course a good thing and I am thankful for the wonderful gifts!). While I doubt my friends were intending to make such a statement, the best inspiration should be uncomfortable. For the last couple of years I have been back “in the real world.” I am in a good place and also happy to be employed these days, but that alone does not quench the fire-egg that is seeking to ignite the next adventure.

After all “…adventures don’t come calling like unexpected cousins calling from out of town. You have to go looking for them.” I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the certainties of life, and wild ideas that conflict a rational path to a secure future. I tend to think of life as a clear distinction between two trains of thoughts:
1) Life is hard, be prepared, and take no action which could compromise or jeopardize a comfortable future
2) Life is short, you get one shot, don’t squander it on certainty

I like to think I’ve been doing a decent job of finding balance recently, my eyes are only wild with satisfaction when I am consuming a flood of uncertainty, and I believe that is the purpose of living. I don’t mean being haphazard (I’ve been down that path and have learned that while mistakes will be made, nothing is exciting enough to justify a moment of anganorisis). I’m talking about chasing down the grand ideas that I presume inspired many of us as children. I don’t think anyone wants to grow up and be bland, but the irony is that the differentiation that sets us apart seems to be the same thing that can leave us at a disadvantage: taking chances. The fact is, most people who “abandon everything and do what they love” or “sell everything to start a business” (or similar pursuits) don’t seem to succeed and would have been better off making the most of what they had. While I don’t think anyone who makes these decisions sets out to fail, the fact is that in order to reap the bounty of uncertainty, one must set sail from a safe harbor (but after all, isn’t that what ships are for?).

So…what caused all of this ruckus? Two books:

1: 101 Ways to Die in the Outdoors
I believed I had generally been on a good path, and looking forward to a relatively uneventful future. All seemed well, until these books came along, reminding me that I’m likely to die of something boring like organ failure, or a car accident, or cancer (and everyone knows that it is way cooler if you break an arm falling of a cliff, as opposed to say falling off of a curb…hint, my birthday is coming up). Since your obituary gets written for you, I think it is one’s duty to give the author something to write about! In short, the first book simply reminded me that “we’ll become silhouettes when our bodies finally go,” and it would be way cooler to die doing something awesome, than from having sat around for a few decades being lame. Simply put, I am finding that I may have been succumbing to the daily grind: as content as I am, I think I’m leaning towards a lame death! Now, I like to think that I’m savvy enough that I could avoid being eaten by an alligator…but what a reminder that there is no time like the present to stoke those coals of adventure.

2: 50 Places to Dive Before You Die
I fell in love with SCUBA in Borneo, and you might have noticed a theme in my writing…I find the ocean to be both a source of inspiration and adventure. My awesome shower-curtain reminds me that there are so many places on the surface of this earth that I haven’t even had a chance to form an opinion about, yet more than 2/3 of our big blue marble is covered in water, the depths of which extend far deeper than the tallest mountain. Add to that people who are going out of their way to make it even more interesting, and there’s just no way I’ll get around to seeing it all. Although I have been fortunate enough to have checked one dive site off of that list, there’s a whole lot of world (above and below the surface) that I have yet to see.

It is true that so many sources can be catalysts for imagination. Thank you for the thoughtful and inspiring gifts; now I just need to find satiation in 2013!

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Some ask why…

It is not difficult to recognize that our time is finite. When considering where our bodies come from, our travels reach far beyond our lifetimes. Previously distributed throughout unimagineable expanses of space and time, the bits and pieces required for our existence have been gracious enough to arrange themselves (or to have been arranged) in such a way that we are enabled with consciousness. This applies to all seven billion others who share this small planet we call home (also see: http://scaleofuniverse.com/ and make sure you also check out Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s “Most Astounding Fact” tab). Also, I wanted to give credit to Richard Dawkins and Mark Twain for some great quotes.

Although knowing our origins can help to place us in the big picture, how does that help fit within the world as we know it? Some are gifted with talents that others do not have or born into favor, and some are misfortunate in status or physical aspects, but we all have our strengths and weaknesses. There are many stories about less capable individuals succeeding because of nothing more than a burning desire to be successful (and likewise, brilliant minds that die idle). We know of small and ill-equipped armies defeating enemies believed to be indomitable. While breaking the mold is not something we think of as typical, it is borne of truth: we all come from a place we cannot imagine, and we are all capable of things that we do not believe are possible.

Whether or not you believe that a greater being assembled all of this, the world we live in, and your ability to interact with it is the result of a great deal of unlikely circumstance. What separates an atheist from a believer is whether or not you believe that a higher-power assembled us (or more specifically, which higher power). In any case, we were once stardust, and here we are now contemplating it. Aside from the big blue ball of space matter under our feet, the world we interact with is a structure of well-defined expectations created by humans. All of our cultural practices, religious beliefs, circumstantial mannerisms, etc, are all things that are taught, and nothing more than a certain way of doing things that has been passed down through generations. I don’t want to diminish the accomplishments of mankind, because we have come up with some truly remarkable things. I’m wanting to simplify all that divides us; if you grow up here you will learn it this way, if you grow up there you will learn it that way. Another way to accomplish the same goal, is nothing more than another way.

Even though we tend to believe that our differences are supposed to mean something, most of our differences are trivial. The mystery is why we feel so strongly about maintaining our separation, even at the cost of life. In order to let ones who are like us continue living a certain way, we are willing to refuse another’s right to do so; even if that means destroying (or giving up) the one thing that sets us apart from the ground we walk on.

Why all this talk of where we come from and the relative insignificance of ideas that humans have created? Simple: to propose that your life is not as complete or finalized as you may believe it to be. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Give up your preconceived ideas about who you are supposed to be or what you should become, for the only certainty is that your body will one day be reunited with the earth. Being that we are nothing more than a fortunate arrangement of molecules granted time to be animated, I say we have a duty to ensure that we don’t look back on our life and believe that there was anything left undone. When your body returns to the ashes, ensure your bones know adventure that dust cannot imagine.

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Will the real Dr. Rumack please stand up?

With the recent passing of Leslie Nielsen, it seems appropriate to recognize the namesake of his most famous role: Dr. Barry Rumack. Leslie was a brilliant comedian. Barry is a dedicated scientist.

Although Leslie’s character was named after Barry the role does not appear to be based on him past the fact that they are both white haired doctors (at the very least, I’d like to think the Zucker Brothers would not have overlooked his trademark bowtie).

One of my first memorable Denver events was when my family was visiting Colorado, and Barry introduced my brother and I to the restaurant Casa Bonita, I was 12. That was many years before South Park’s Cartman made the place famous in the episode where “Kyle chooses Stan, Kenny and Butters to celebrate his birthday at Casa Bonita. When Cartman finds out he’s not invited, he arranges for Butters to conveniently go “missing””. Cartman convinced Butters that a meteor the size of Wyoming is headed for earth and that he should hide out in a bunker to avoid being killed. Cartman got busted when Butters was discovered at the local trash dump, but not before getting to experience the things that Casa Bonita has to offer. Is it obvious that I’m a South Park fan? Another fun fact you may not know, South Park is an actual place in Colorado. From my experience it is a pretty boring place surrounded by beautiful landscape. As with many of the real references in the show, Matt Parker and Trey Stone depicted the restaurant almost perfectly, but you really have to see it in person to believe it. I can only describe it as what one might expect if Las Vegas and Chuck-E-Cheese’s were able to produce a child. It is like Las Vegas for children, but it’s so surreal that even adults can appreciate it at least once. It’s definitely not the kind of place I would expect to find my uncle, but he took us there because he thought we would enjoy it, and we did! I’m sure it was selfless for him to take us there, but I really got a kick out of it (I took the menu home to show my friends in Pennsylvania). Even now I will introduce friends who are visiting from out of town…and yes, that is an open invitation to anyone reading this.

Although not intentional, there are a few other similarities which can be seen between Barry and Leslie’s character. Barry is a serious guy, so much so that at first impression I thought he was incapable of humor (although in his defense, I was a young child). With time however, I came to realize that the outward expression of a person is often far different from who they are inside. Don’t get me wrong, Barry is serious about his work, and anything that requires attention (to his credit, he makes sure everything he does is done well), but he also knows how to relax and enjoy life, and he is also a funny guy. Over the years I have been impressed with his character, and I have gleaned many things including the importance of meaningful interactions with friends and family, maintaining relationships, and being intentional about life. He tends to be respected among his friends, family, and peers…with many great qualities it’s easy to see why.

One lesser known similarity between Barry and Leslie are that they were both partially deafened during childhood. For the couple decades that I’ve known him he has never been down on himself about his hearing. Instead, he enjoys telling the stories of the quirks related to being deaf. For many years he thought my aunt did not get cold easily because she would turn the heat down in the car while driving in the wintertime. When hearing aids became available he learned that air vents make noise, and were making it hard for my aunt to hold a conversation with him! Being a good listener is just one of the great qualities of my aunt, who is an incredible woman. Barry was also a bit disappointed to find out that computer keyboards are not actually silent (He thought thought quiet keys were just another advantage computers had over typewriters). Still, after discovering this little fact, it was not really a problem because he has the added benefit of basically being able to turn his hearing off. I don’t think he’s ever had a noisy neighbor. I could not find out why Leslie lost his hearing, but Barry was too young to know the difference between chocolate and (a now outlawed) rat poisoning. It is not very surprising that much of his life has been dedicated to the study of harmful chemicals. He still loves chocolate, though he now only eats the real thing.

Jan 25th 2011 – UPDATE: I was fortunate enough to be able to verify with Jerry himself, the name was “Absolutely based on Barry.” Curious about the connection? Turns out the Rumacks and Zuckers were next door neighbors growing up. A favorite past time was playing “kick the can.” Apparently a few of the character names come directly from friends in Wisconsin. Barry had no idea about the use of his name when his mother suggested that he see the movie. How cool that must have been, to find a childhood friend made a movie and used your name.

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WARNING: In the name of free speech, censor warning labels

Smoking is bad m’kay? I’m calling this travel related because I was blow away by the images I saw on cigarette packages in some of the places I visited in Asia. I used to smoke over a pack a day. I was in a tough place financially and was having some health problems that smoking would have compounded. I quit for a few reasons, but the real deal maker was how much money I had spent over the years on cigarettes. I asked myself a simple question…would I rather have had the ~$7,000 that I had spent on smoking in the last few years, or all the cigarettes I had ever smoked? Making the decision to quit was easy, and I noticed almost immediate rewards. I felt better overall, had more energy, got sick less, and started a little rainy day fund that has allowed me to do some pretty cool stuff. At this point, had I never quit smoking I’d have spent enough on cigarettes to buy a brand new car. Aside from being highly addictive, I wonder how this type of thing becomes accepted by the mainstream. Further than that, I wonder how anyone can defend it with a clear conscience. There’s no debate: Smoking is bad for your wallet and your health…even smokers won’t argue that!

There is no doubt that in may aspects other countries have a ways to go to catch up with us, but it's a strange feeling to be in a third world country while witnessing things that seem so much more ahead of the curve than we are.

I saw the warnings and thought “This is such a great idea, why don’t we have these in America?” Well, after finding out about new legislation being proposed, I don’t have to wonder any more. The FDA is considering a similar label system. You can see the proposed labels for yourself in the link to the FDA site, but I’ve got to say they’re pretty namby-pamby compared to the labels I saw in other countries, and the real threats that people who smoke face. Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and I’m sure other countries portray a much more accurate image of what smoking does to you. So much for being a global leader in this department, but at least we’re making progress.

FDA is seeking public comment on the proposed rule from Friday, November 12, 2010 through Tuesday, January 11, 2011. To submit an official comment during this time period:

* Go to www.regulations.gov and insert docket number FDA-2010-N-0568 into the “search” box and follow the prompts.
* Send a fax, with your comments, to 301-827-6870.
* Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for paper, disk, or CD-ROM submissions) to the Division of Dockets

Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

All comments should be identified by Docket ID No. FDA-2010-N-0568. It is only necessary to send one set of comments.

One aspect of the new proposals that I had not initially considered is the impact on taxes…that’s money that funds good things (then again, money saved because more people will be healthy can also be spent on good things). It seems awfully unfortunate that states will be in a position where they must debate legislature that will will inform the public at the cost of their own income. I’m interested to see where this goes…I just hope that they follow through and do the right thing. I also hope the FDA doesn’t wuss out and require the sunshine and butterflies version of these labels. Time will tell.

As you might expect, the cigarette companies aren’t too happy about this. According to CNN (paraphrased), David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., has said the warnings violate the company’s First Amendment rights of commercial, free speech. “Seizing half of our packaging, devaluing our trademarks, we’re challenging that,” he said.

I’m all for free speech. In fact, I encourage it. I’m not sure why these companies still think it’s the early 1900’s where tobacco use was believed to be harmless. I have a message for the fancy-pants cigarette lawyers and spokespeople: I empathize with your concerns about image, but I hate to be the bearer of bad news…your image sucks because your product sucks. You’re worried about a little label devaluing your trademarks? You should be concerned about the people dying of a variety of cancers and other health related problems…that’s your real brand killer there. Give me a break, the FDA isn’t trying to say smoking will give you AIDS. It’s not as if the public is unaware that your product is unhealthy. You already have an unfair advantage in that your product is addictive, and I know from first-hand experience that people who want to smoke will still smoke even with the warnings (Perhaps because they are hopelessly addicted? Are you worried that people will think twice about picking up that first cigarette?). So my question to you is this: How can you defend free speech while trying to silence an entity attempting to educate the public to the horrors of a bad product?

Then again, if you’re really worried all you have to do is put a picture of this guy on the other side of the cigarettes and I’d bet your sales will instantly double. Heck, just watching this makes me want to smoke…I bet all the girls would want to kiss my ash tray lips if I could do this:

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Homage, Omen, or Coincidence?

I stumbled across this Jacques Cousteau quote today:

“When one man, for whatever reason, has an opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.” – from “Diving for Sunken Treasure” by Jacques Yves Cousteau

Although I don’t really feel the need to defend myself, I want to say that I don’t like to sell who I am. I like to let those who know me discover who I am…by ‘peeling back the layers of the onion’ as an old friend once said. As someone who has spent much of my life being humble and/or lying quietly in the shadows, it’s a strange thing to be putting myself out here on the Inter-webs for all to see, even if I’m only giving a peek. The anonymity is liberating, and I’m still reserved at heart, but a passion for raw experiences has drawn me out of my shell. I am just an average guy, but for so many reasons there is no doubt that I have led an extraordinary life.

I’ve had respect and appreciation for Jacques since I feigned sickness as a child (so I could stay home from school and follow the travels of the Calypso). At my last job I was sent to a conference where I heard Jacques son Jean-Michele talk about how important it is to save our oceans. It made me wonder why I was sitting in a conference room in Las Vegas. Even though Jean opened up a resort in the Fiji islands and used the Cousteau name against his fathers wishes (among other things), I can’t blame a man for trying to make a dollar. So, I’m still giving Jean-Michele a plug for putting effort into the Ocean Futures organization that I heard him pander for. Although the controversy makes me wonder if business has mixed with cause, I’m in no position to judge what’s in his heart. If nothing else his organization appears to be doing good things and I think he is genuinely concerned with protecting the oceans of the world…as we all should be.

I’ve always been drawn to the idea of rising above mediocrity, breaking the mold, taking chances, and doing great things. I will never know how much influence Jacques may have had on my life (direct from quotes like the above, or indirectly from suggestions which permeated throughout the show, or perhaps I was looking more for justification than influence), but I ultimately admire him as a successful innovator. I believe that my experiences to date have been like the gathering of raw ingredients and exotic spices. I can say now that I have collected enough supplies to create something delicious for others to enjoy. Time will tell whether or not I am a good chef, but shame on me if I let anything rot on the shelf. Although I know I have lived an extraordinary life filled with many incredibly good and bad experiences, I feel like I am just getting started. Call me a dreamer, but I will never be satisfied unless I aim for something great. Success is never guaranteed, but I can’t sleep quietly unless I give it my best. Since it seems that following my folly is what I’d regret not doing in ten years, do I really have any other choice?

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My Stomach Hurts

The badmobile parked in the French Quarter of New Orleans. As you can see it was raining. I found a key parking spot...it required a few turns onto one way streets but was free!

I need to apologize. Not only for all the delays, but for the complete lack of communications. I hope this blog doesn’t have feelings…because I’ve been neglecting it. I’m really hoping there hasn’t been anyone out there looking for an update…but for the time being I can only continue the promise…more good things are coming.

There is a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ writing happening and I’m wrestling with the idea of tying in new experiences with old. I’ve got a good story, maybe someday I’ll share. In the meantime, I’m going to jump right back into hastily and poorly written blog entries that will be later updated with pictures…that seems to be working so far :)

So what’s been happening? I’ve been trying to define my current life and direction. I’ll get into the details later, but I generally feel like I need to do something with my life that breaks the mold. I don’t necessarily want to be rebellious, or strange…I just want to rise above the daily grind. I know I have more to offer, and I need more to be fulfilled. Maybe I just need to simplify my life so I can pull off a ‘plan b’ while working a nine to five.

Now that I’ve had a chance to collect myself back in the USA I needed to pick my car up from Florida…so that means road trip round two! As for my stomach, I’ve spent the last few nights in various parts of Louisiana. While here I’ve managed to find po boy’s, crawdads, fried pickles, corn bread, catfish, red beans ham and rice, jumbalaya, crab cakes, shrimp, beignets, etoufee, chickory coffee, and bread pudding. I’ve also promised a local pie shop that I won’t leave without a slice of “The best pie in the world.” Anything I’m leaving out? I’m going to be huge by the time I get back to Denver. I’ve been eating to the point of pregnancy during every meal, but I just can’t deny myself something that has been so rare and so good. Putting food in my stomach here is like putting money in the bank.

On one hand, these people need to take better care of themselves and watch what they eat. On the other hand, many other parts of the country could learn a few cooking lessons. I desperately hope the healthy eating craze doesn’t maintain enough momentum to force these flavors into history (ha, year right, that will never happen!). There has to be some middle ground though…because this grub is good. Maybe moderation is key, but if this is the taste of being alive, then life is good. Here are a few pictures that I hope you enjoy!

Nothing like my Nana's fruit pizza! It's been a long time since she was crowned prom queen, but she still looks as good as ever. She makes the pie from scratch but my aunt put it together this round...she loves halloween and you can see she added 'ghosts' to the center. How cool! I've been eating these for years, so good...

Thanks to a tip from my roommate and a good friend who used to live in LA, my first stop in the French Quarter was Cafe Du Monde for some beignets (french doughnuts) and chickory coffee. Delicious! I felt like I had taken a step back in time when at this place. Notice how much powdered sugar they use? I think the local fish must have diabetes. I can't imagine what would happen if you inhaled as you were taking a bite.

I was going downtown to check out some music and made some quick friends along the way. We were all strangers before this night. The guys were from Ireland and London, and the girl from Germany. It really is such a small world. We found some good music and also a throwback diner...

Nish ended up putting down about two and a half burgers.

Christina went with a classic burger and Owen wasn't hungry. The waiter looked like he'd been working there for a while so I asked what he thought was best. He didn't hesitate to suggest a burger with jalapenos, mushrooms, and swiss. I gobbled down that greasy mess with a smile...and paid for it later. Although I got used to eating hot foods in Asia my body still has no idea what to do with it.

Christina knew this couldn't be very healthy but still loved the place. She asked if I could send her a panorama. It's kind of a cool picture so I figured I'd post it

Times are tough! Then again it seems like there are always starving artists when times are good. I don't know her full intentions, but here she was just cranking away on an old fashined typewriter...she could have been in an office or any other setting where you'd expect someone hard at work. Her name was Erin (though I'm not sure if that's how you spell it). She was cheerful when approached, but otherwise appeared to be genuinely working. For a poet, I thought it was a great idea.

I know, I'm twelve years old. Someday I'll have an antique balzac of my own. I passed this on the way to a po boy shop called Mahony's. I was expecting cold cut meat when I ordered the roast beef, but it actually reminded me of my Grandmother's pot roast. They make everything from scratch and it was all really good. A large man at the counter said it's the french bread that makes a po boy. On the wall was 'graffiti' saying 'Guy was here' from that Food Network TV show.

The famed Parkway Bakery and Tavern. The first time I stopped by was on a Tuesday...and they're always closed on Tuesdays! That's why I ended up at Mahony's. Luckily for me I was staying only a few blocks away so coming back was no problem at all.

The wait was short, but well worth it! The staff were kind and attentive. I told them I was fairly new to this whole po boy thing but heard they had a good 'surf and turf' (fried shrimp and roast beef). They suggested I try each seperate before having them together. Since I'd already had a roast beef I went for the shrimp. Once again, New Orleans food didn't dissapoint!

Proof I was here. I just had breakfast and wanted to get on the road so I brought this along for lunch. Can't wait to dig into this!

What a meal this was at Crawdads Kitchen...a feast really. Corn bread, red beans and rice with ham, jumbalaya, crawfish etoufee, crab cakes, and here's what's left of the bread pudding. Earlier in the day I found a catfish sandwich and fried pickles at a little place called the Lazy Fisherman (if it wasn't 1/2 pound I'd have tried thier specialty: a peanut butter burger). At this point I'm literally in pain and struggling to smile, but I'm nothing short of fat, dumb, and happy. My friend taking the picture is about to fall off her chair.

I’ll be in Louisiana for another day and them I’m on to Texas and New Mexico for more friends, food, music, and general good times.

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It’s Just Beginning…

Quick Update:
Back in Denver
Recovered some (not all) lost pics from Bali!
Cleaning up my garage/room/life
Have so many things that I will soon write about…

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Japan Rocks

Malaysai was incredible. The Perhentians were just about everything you would expect, although I didn`t think I would add boredom to the list (still, the peace and quiet was good for me). At one point I hiked around the island and found a deserted beach with some unique and cool manmade items. An old and tattered handwritten note (written on waterproof paper) said “…is a place where nothing ever happens -Byrne.” David Byrne is the songwriter for The Talking Heads, and one of the songs repeats “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.” Everything on the beach had to have been put together by a group of people with a lot of time and ambition…maybe a successful band on vacation? A note from the man himself? After the islands I got `stuck` in Kuala Lumpur for a few more days and found probably the grubbiest/coolest hostel and most interesting people that I have met thus far. I sadly had to say goodbye and spent a couple days in Singapore before heading to Japan. More details and pics to come soon!

I feel bad that the last few weeks have been “coming soon,” but when I only have access to extremely slow internet and can only use a computer for a day or two at a time it is very limiting. However, I have easily fifty pages of handwritten notes that I`m pretty exited to sort out. Ideally I`d like to document it all online but I will definitely share the highlights of each place, with some great pictures as well. My trip may be ending but most of the people reading this are enjoying the break from the daily grind. Since that will continue, and I`ll want to re-live a lot of this, you can absolutely expect more to come. Although I haven`t been able to give details along the way I will be posting lots of goodies in time! With that said, here are a few quick notes about current status…

For my flights an inevitable stop is Japan. I was thinking I would just stay for a day or two, but the hospitality of a family friend has made me feel like I`m visiting my own family here. I am located close to an hour outside of Tokyo but I have been able to get to the city many times. In one word: holy-freaking-crap-Tokyo-is-massive-and-awesome. OK, maybe not one word, but a metropolitan area that houses 12 million people can`t be summed up easily. If you count greater Tokyo we`re talking more like 35 million. In comparison, my current home city of Denver has about 2 million. Much like New York and the other great cities of the world, Tokyo has collected into very seperate and distinct areas. I have only visited a very small fraction of those areas, and a very small part within each area. Each location has a unique atmosphere, contains unique people, and provides unique experiences. My pitstop interaction with Tokyo cannot do it justice. I am overwhelmed. Tokyo is cool, young, respectful, innovative, hip, clean, organized, sensible, fashionable, and really makes me think I could be happy living large in a big city. I clearly understand why Tokyo is included on short lists of world class cities.

I`ve tried to visit many of the major destinations and a few other places that also look interesting. Yesterday I was a few hours from Tokyo visiting a college friend who is teaching English in rural Japan. Also a very neat to see a glimpse into the past. We spent one afternoon having a BBQ with some friends, and swimming around in the clear waters of a mountain river…two things that have topped my list for events I am sad I have missed in the USA this summer!

So although peninsular Malaysia was my last hoorah, it`s hard to move very quickly when you are in a foreign country and ask yourself “What will I most regret not doing ten years from now?” Had I been in Japan wholly on my own dime I`d have had no choice to leave days ago, but being in a foreign country with good people, having a place to stay, and eating many free meals…leaving immediately would be regrettable.

With that said I am in many ways feeling pressure to go home. Throughout this trip I have milked the travel cow at every opportunity (as it stands I am going on four months…but only planned to be gone for five weeks!). Like drinking from a fire hose I have encountered much more than I could have ever expected, and it`s time to give the teets a rest. I am still looking into flights, but I will be leaving as soon as tomorrow, possibly as late as Monday. I still have a few connecting flights too worry about, but no places left to spend any serious time. In a few days I expect to sleep in my own bed.

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The last bamboo

As you read this I am either sitting on the beach, jungle trekking, swimming, snorkeling, or diving at what Lonely Planet calls “Tropical paradise. Full stop.”

The Perhentian_Islands will be my last planned destination in Malaysia. In local currency, I have less than the equivalent of $100 USD in my pocket and I’m drawing the line on withdrawals. I’ve set aside enough cash to get back to Singapore and the island has no ATM’s…so I won’t be able to stay even if I want to. I will attempt to milk cash on hand for as long as I can…could be three days, could be two weeks. There is a clear end to my time here (but don’t worry, I still have plenty of great stories that I will share in weeks to come!).

So why the Perhenthians? It is always an easy choice to immerse ones self in tropical paradise while it is still within reach (believe it or not, I’m still fairly pale). Cheap lodging ($3-7 USD) and the option for camping ($1.50) was another bonus. The food on the island is known to be very expensive by local standards ($5+ per meal), but I still have a few meals surplus left over from Maliau that I have been wondering when I would use. Although getting there will require eight hours on a night bus followed by a few hours waiting for a spot on a speedboat, it is also the place I figured I will most regret not visiting in ten years. Being a top dive destination doesn’t hurt either ($20-30 per dive, or $3/day for snorkeling equipment rental).

I’ve set this up to post while I’m gone, but with very limited internet access it could be a week or more before you hear from me again. I’ll find a fruity drink and think of you all while watching the sunset. This is my chance to say goodbye to the wonders of South East Asia. Soon I will be on my way back to the real world…

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Buh Bye Borneo

I have left Borneo and am currently in peninsular Malaysia deciding what to do for my ‘last hoorah’ in this country. The sun is setting for this adventure…but the blog will not reflect that.

I can say with confidence that I have a lot of great things to write about. I have been keeping track of it all and will update as I am able, but for now I wanted to let anyone reading this know what to expect. I want to write more when I can curl up around my own computer and really take time to organize ideas. I would also like to offer more than the rough draft that pay-by-the-hour internet terminals encourage.

This trip, especially the last few weeks, has been like tasting exotic fruits for the first time (literally: rambutan, mangostein, and longsan). Although I’d like to share the experience and tell you all about it, my mouth is full. For the moment I am savoring the flavors of adventure. I’d prefer to make regular updates, but that’s difficult without a working laptop and more time (read: money) to stay in each place a bit longer. However, my teeth are sunk into the sweet flesh and the juice is still running down my chin. The fruits are ripe and now is the time to explore. I have been keeping a handwritten journal though, and the time for me to share images and experiences is on the horizon.

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