Insomnia Sometimes Suits

Balcony, 18th floor apartment
at the rail watching
eight lane intersection below

Foshan, Guangdong, P.R.C.

Running a Screenphoto courtesy of author

The traffic light turns red and vehicles start to move. A van comes from one way and runs the red light as a motorbike is going through the intersection. The van nails the motorbike. Luckily, neither one is going too fast, but the motorbike driver gets knocked off his bike, slides.

… takes this as his cue and throws a punch …

The motorcyclist picks himself up, brushes off the dust and steps toward the van as the driver is getting out to check to see if the motorcyclist is all right. The motorcyclist lays into the van driver employing all nine tones of Cantonese. The van driver instantly forgets he is at fault and starts a face-saving yelling match with the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist takes this as his cue and throws a punch at the van driver. The van driver fades back and delivers a kick to the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist blocks the kick and then a full on kung fu brawl erupts.

A crowd gathers around the fight in the middle of the intersection. Traffic in both directions is blocked. The crowd grows, the motorbike lies in the street, and the van sits in the intersection with the driver’s door open. While they are busily trying to maim one another, I notice that a new player in the crowd is making his way around the back of the van toward the driver’s side door, and quicker than shit he reaches into the van and pulls a bag off the seat. He thrusts the bag under his arm and runs off in the opposite direction from the fight. The fight continues until the police arrive.

He thrusts the bag under his arm and runs off in the opposite direction from the fight.

By this time I’m finished. I figure that after witnessing an accident, a fight, and a theft anything else is going to be boring in comparison. So I go back inside and chuckle myself quietly to sleep.

Sometimes it pays to have insomnia and be awake at two o’clock in the morning. Even when you have to get up at 6!

Imprinted, a First Walk in K.L.

Alive in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the layout is totally nonsensical until you realize how many hills and valleys are randomly dotted across the landscape. Sections of the city only have freeway access in and out. Once you are in a neighborhood, the local roads just make loops or dead end. Try to go for a walk outside the center, and you get the attention of the local police, not because you are doing anything wrong but because you are walking. “Nobody walks, no air conditioning when you walk,” they say.

Wander around the plaza and try to find unsecured Wi-Fi. Employees are giving me “the eye” because I am camped outside the café with a computer and vibe me that “you must purchase from our overpriced selection of burnt bitter corporate coffee beans” glare. Better make it quick, now, before they come after me with a battery powered portable coffee grinder!

Roam the street market that fully emits the most wonderful smells. Vendors of ingredients, as well as prepared dishes, dot and dashed under tarps and tin. Spices unsmelt before. “Makan asam laksa,” a taste you wish you had discovered years ago. Add to that the scent of cloves, and you got a double nostril full of spice!
“As you probably know, Malaysia is safe, no militants … at least for now,” in conversation at kedai makan, “Malaysia is far less extreme.” Only a couple women in Niqab, with only eyes showing, they are not Malaysian though. The style here is a headscarf that covers the top of the head, ears and neck, with skintight jeans and stiletto heels.
Malaysia is a widely diverse crossroads from way back in the beginning of things, an aware and open culture with various flavors of style and ways of life.
K.L.is definitely not dull!

Lots of spice everywhere, not just in the soup!
Kuala Lumpur is a spicy dish.

Stay real from whatever part of the globe
you happen to be trotting around.

Take it easy ya’ll.

KLMY Nov 5, 2007

Global Position

green

It’s the last kick `
Maybe kick it all
From smokes to lethargy.

Maybe not.

Maybe, just maybe,
Paw your way

Through all wires,
Fiber cables,
Transmission lines-

Extra high to low
Frequency hubs,
Gamma rays and
Waves of all kind.

Maybe, just maybe
Paw your way

Through all rules,
Habits, bias and change,
Never finding origin.

Ambiguity
Is the name.

Add up all the points,
And what you get
Is right now.

No real direction
Or challenge to pose,
Just rage for rage.

Thank you.

End

A place, a time, a group of people that will never happen again, that is one of the hardest parts sometimes of moving onto the next adventure with a semi-nomadic lifestyle. For a while we achieve a state of being with trees, each other and ourselves that works. Ties are tied; a quantum web woven; yet that web may never come together again. Yet the threads stay bound.

All spiders weave new webs, though a few old strands remain to connect a pair of spiders here and there to one another. The only problem is that a huge windstorm can catch those spiders as they stream their webs out. The gust blows those spiders to the four directions hopping currents and out across the seas. A long time to back track that safety line….

But as with all things, that thread eventually comes to an end.

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Life

In a word: experience.

In a 1000 words, it is a bit more complex.

When new friends ask me, “Why have you traveled so much and lived in so many countries? What are you looking for?” My one word reply, “experience,” usually halts the thought line in their head. They can’t look at this as a trip, which returns to its origin to stay. They must reroute their thought path to consider true travel, cultural immersion and life as a story. No longer metaphorical, but actual. A life’s journey becomes a life of journey.

As with many stories, it all begins with a circle, the wheel. For me it was the bicycle wheel spinning down the country roads of Oregon. A country kid has freedom to roam, as long as he’s back by dark. Ever growing loops grew larger, particularly during summer. Until the limit I could ride before dark reached its maximum.

Day adventure bicycle loops became longer over night circles. Long overnight circles curled and bent into rambles by foot into the mountains and canyons of Cascade peaks. Backpack always tight on shoulders, a map to find the way. My eyes were always fresh for signs of unwritten road rules and chances for the unexpected. The circles kept getting broader. Long holiday trips down the west coast, a few days cycling up the Columbia Gorge, a few weeks trekking further back and up into mountain crags.

Then local journeys branched out to expanded loops. The circle stretched to the American desert southwest and unknown cacti forests, pushed down to Mexico, Belize and further south. In Guatemala City, a chance encounter led to immersion in the culture of the Central American street performer. I was no longer traveling and seeing. I was now participating actively in my adopted societies. These growing loops were not only of geography, but also of personal growth.

The idea of movement to journey and experience became the guideline. The plan slowly started to become much, much looser. The destination was no longer even a consideration. All focus got poured into the points along the way and how to get experience with the unexpected. This concept translated from just physical travel to the inner journey of growth and adaptation of experience. In time, it became even less about physical movement around the globe, and more about the focus on details of where I reside. As the landscape, people and languages change, so does the nomad.

These changes and experiences built into instinct. Life had become dynamic for me. The next journey, new challenge, higher hurdle kept me pushing forward. When difficulties were at their utmost tension that is when the instinct of the road kicked in hard core, and I was right there in that moment and knew exactly what to do. My impulses began to drive the moment before stress, when I just knew exactly what was up and how it would all pan out in the end.

The circle of travel expanded over the Pacific Ocean, and I found myself in another hemisphere, Asia. The circle back home grew ever broader, until the loop did not reconnect, and I was out there on the lines of the web. The loop had failed to return home because home had become the planet, not just one town. Instinctual knowledge builds and accumulates out in the world. It changes you down to the core. The chemical makeup of each cell is altered, and you are never the same again.

True travel’s circle does not encompass a tourist checkpoint list. Instead, the traveler gets to know a place, a culture, a people, or more specifically, a neighborhood. In the neighborhoods where I stay there are chance encounters to trade stories in a mix of languages and styles. Through exposure to so many diverse cultures and participation in the local society, random chances have lead to the next chapter when I thought the book was finished. All these factors contributed to one of the most useful circles I have completed in my travel experience, the circle of communication that goes beyond the spoken or written word.

When you must communicate, and there is no shared vocabulary, you learn how to exchange complex ideas through instinctual language. A desire and deep yearning to learn and share is the motivating force that can drive an inherent human ability to communicate thru body, hand, tone and more importantly, eye contact and intuition. It is there. It exists. We only have to experience the right conditions, like any learned skill. It is not until the mind gets scrubbed clean by an overload of drifting, changing, challenging experience that we can drop our conditioned blocks and filters. When those preconditioned filters get removed, the moment of communication can be grasped with someone who doesn’t share much vocabulary-based language with you. On some levels, the circles of travel show you how instinctual communication can be tapped to tie into a dialogue with new friends in a way to just get an image across and know what the other knows, not one under the other but equal, not understanding, equal standing.

Courage and confidence develop with instinct. In time, perception directs you and the journey works it self out. When you leave the map and go into the unknown, the new and unexpected become the plan, and the path ahead writes itself. That is when the journey’s circle becomes a tale unraveling within each passing moment.

Excitement in my chest builds in anticipation of the next circle to come. Every peak moment has a platoon of trials and difficulties as its minions. They are ever present, lurking in the curves of the way ahead. All the problems that can stumble you up somehow get worked out through diligence or instinctual chance. The story has become so interested in its own writing that it can’t end yet, and it doesn’t.

This is the experience of an adventurous life journey born from instinct. The circle bumps and bends in ways unpleasant, but the need is always there to tell a good and intriguing tale, even if it is only told to myself as memories for rainy days.

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Walk with Me

DSC05321

Deep in these shadow streets runs a way set away from sun. A bridge, then a waterway, we wander along the banks. Along the edge of midnight into a city lost, unknown to now. We walk swift and quiet, take it in, in one stride we are out through the other side. Now well past one, the 13th hour.

You gotta wonder as we wander, and let the thoughts free themselves loose on a limb balanced over a notion of where the night air flows. The streets not known, the city fresh, and you never really know what is around that next corner.

We push on until quadrants and angles and buildings and land marks and the way the sidewalk runs over there become a bit more familiar.

Then you know where you are, in the general sense of the notion, until the notion gets lost. We always know the general way back, if back is something you even want to bother to do. It just might take an hour or eight to completely back track depending on the size of the unknown we are wandering.