A Bohemian Traveler

West Coastin’ 2013

In Personal Update on September 14, 2013 at 6:14 pm

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Since arriving back from overseas this year, it’s been westside till I die, laying low in my ’64 Impala, cruisin’ wit my homies, sippin’ on gin and juice, layback.

Well, not exactly. But it has been yet another nice summer in the west. It feels like it has been a hotter summer this year, which has set the stage for many adventurous activities to participate in. I love my family and in this season, they need my support as they plan to open new chapters in their life. After 25 years of being in Woodside, my family is looking to move on. And so keeping our property looking nice and show worthy is necessary.

And after 5 years of living in Seattle (with 3 off and on, due to work) I have decided to move on myself from the emerald city. I really do love the communal and casual vibe that Seattle breathes, yet unfortunately for this California boy, I need the sun more. It’s a tradeoff, yet after spending months in sunny South East Asia with warm waters and noticing the significant difference in energy, it sealed the intention it was time to go.

Whynam_view_800x533 When I moved there, I always knew I wouldn’t stay long and that going back to
California as a US base would happen again. So, I went up to Seattle in early August, participated in the SeaFair activities (lots of hydroplane boats, fighter jet demonstrations, and boat parties everywhere) sailed up to the San Juan Islands for a week, then sold my boat after 2 days. I promptly went back down to California to prepare for Burning Man.

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This has been my third year going back to Burning Man, and for all those who have not been there, please do not attempt to define what it is, because you can’t. People try to put it in a box and think they know what it’s all about, but really they don’t. It’s not a bunch of naked hippies tripping on acid, it’s not a huge “burning” event where everything is burned, and no, it’s not a pagan festival or even a music festival. It’s also not for everyone in my opinion. Mostly because some people are just not ready to experience such a dynamic shift from their day-to-day lives. Burning Man will challenge a person and enlighten about what is possible to experience communally between humans. As an anthropologist, I find the Burn to be an amazing social experiment, and actually other anthropologists like myself think so too.

To me, this years burn seemed short. After coming back from Seattle, I jumped straight into preparing (In)Visible, an art installation designed by my cousin Kirsten and her 4th time bringing art to Burning Man. Thus began the 12 hour days, shaping the iridescent panels to the steel frame, grinding, drilling and crimping, and getting ready for the desert itself, picking up necessary items such as hydration packs, baby wipes, and apple cider vinegar (counteracts the alkaline dust that will get on your skin most definitely). After the truck was packed, five of us shot off to Reno where we spent one last night experiencing pressurized water and relaxing before trekking to the desert. This year I gifted two tickets to my old friend Quentin and his wife as a wedding present. They were both very excited and as it happened, we both came to the gate at the same time and were able to enter together.

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In our 125′ x 100′ foot of space, we set up our tents, our campers and geodesic domes. There were hexayurts (created from insulation panels you would find at home depot, once attached with a swamp cooler, it is a nice oasis) and there were our shade structures. In total we would have about 30 people in our camp throughout the week. We had people from Singapore, Oregon, Thailand, California, Washington, Canada, France, UK and New Zealand. It was a fun week as it always is.

Personally for me, being a third year burner and having the opportunities to get acquainted and familiar with the community in various parts of the world, the Burn wasn’t as awe-inspiring of an experience for me. Rather, it was just good to see my friends and to share time with them. One particular person was named Takashi, whom I had met at last years burn. Our interaction only lasted an hour if that, yet we became acquainted on facebook and kept in touch over this past year. At the same event we met  at last year, we saw each other again and were both happy to share life again as our friendship had grown through the conversations we had had via facebook and such. Takashi was from Osaka, Japan and later that day I engaged in a meetup of Japanese burners, of which there were over 50. I also later participated in the red tea ceremony with artist Ken Hamakazi the next day, something Takashi gifts his time to support. It is also a highlight of the week for me.

Back from the Burn and as the dust settles, I am back in the west and am still quite mobile for the remainder of this month. I’m still writing, and I have multiple international friends flying in each week, which I have committed to some degree to host. I am thankful, happy and am now going to go for a walk here in Santa Cruz. Much love~

car (The vehicle makes it to the playa)

Indonesia and back to USA

In Uncategorized on July 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm

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After being in the quaint and memorable island of Island of Langkawi, I flew to Indonesia to see my friends before heading back to the US.

I remembered there why I loved Indonesia and why I didn’t like Indonesia. For the positives aspects, the Indonesians are some of the most friendliest, caring and hospitable people I’ve ever met in my life. When I came to Indonesia two years ago, I realized this and during my hiatus away from the country, I kept in consistent contact with the friends I made there. I had to see them before going back to America.

I spent the first 5 nights with my friend Yudha and met his new wife and enjoyed having good conversations and trying out other Indonesian delicacies I had not yet tried. After this time, I bussed over to Bandung, where I met with my friends and do what most Indonesians do in their country, eat and chat together!

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It was nice to see my friends, but I also realized how much I despise the Indonesia traffic. I mean, I have experienced some fairly bad traffic in my life. Los Angeles, India, Egypt etc… Yet, in the 4th most populated country in the world (300 million) some %75 of it lives on the small island of Java where I was. Traffic is not relaxed in Indonesia, it’s a fight from the time you leave the carport to wherever your destination is. The roads are small lanes and new roads have not been built. Motorbikes abound.

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I’m not one to get frazzled easily, but this traffic saps your energy quick. After 45 minutes, one needs to focus on positive thoughts :) I’m sure if I lived in Indonesia, I could adapt, but it got annoying and I preferred to stay close to the places I was staying. Yet even if I wanted to venture 5-10 miles away, it would take an hour due to the streets, one ways, and the sheer amount of cars and motorbikes. You need to go to experience it, it’s quite absurd at times and doesn’t make sense, but hey, this is Indonesia.

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After the traffic subsided as I flew away on a plane to Singapore, I took 4 more flights to get to the good old American town of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Here I was in the open plains, wheat fields and single farm houses that dotted this land. I came for my good friends wedding and I arrived after 45 hours of transit just in time for 4th of July fireworks. I had a juicy burger with harvati cheese to celebrate.

Now the wedding it finished and it was good to see my friend and enjoy a weekend in the Dakotas. Now I am in Minneapolis and I’ve decided I’m not ready to fly back to San Francisco and have opted to join a rideshare instead that will take 3-4 days across the western United States. Then after the open roads, camping and beautiful sites, I will arrive in the city by the bay and rejoin with family and friends.

Talk soon, I need to go~

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The Unknown Island of Langkawi, Malaysia

In Personal Update, Travel on June 12, 2013 at 1:10 am

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I came to Langkawi in search of sailboats.
Until I had come to Southern Thailand, I had never heard of the small 500 square kilometers island in Northwest Malaysia before. Close to the Thai border, Langkawi I discovered has quite a bit to offer. I came expecting to stay 3-7 days and now I’m going onto the 4th week here.

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There are some really nice yachts out here and I’ve been hounding the marinas, talking to Captains, brokers and long term expats about getting a larger sailboat here than what I currently have back in Seattle. Basically I’m looking for a 30-38ft cruiser that is able to make coastal passages through the straits of Melacca, the Southern Burmese archipelago and of course all of Indonesia. There are just too many islands here along with genuinely friendly human beings that make such an adventure hard to resist.

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This Malaysian island of Langkawi has the potential to be a base for such adventures. There are plenty of business opportunities both on the island and virtually and with an international airport on the island, one can get to practically any major Asian city in less than 5 hours for those occasional city fixes.

There’s sailing, there are beaches, mountains, jungles, bald eagles, high cable cars, waterfalls and lakes, foods of all sorts and literally people from all over the world here. This island doesn’t attract just the western crowd, but there are quite a few tourists from China, India, and the Middle East. Everyday I meet citizens from countries all over. Just yesterday I spent some time with a young Syrian man named Ahmed who fled the country from Bashar and is running a little stand selling middle eastern products in the mall. We’re friends on facebook now. ;)

Soluna Guesthouse, where I have been staying

Soluna Guesthouse, where I have been staying

The longer I spend out the country, the more I realize just how integral it is in my life. My family has a vibrant international history and my upbringing incorporated American, European and Asian traditions. While it’s more natural for me to be overseas than in America, I still appreciate the vastness and beauty of America. What I don’t like about America is that citizens are given only two to three weeks vacation a year. The culture is “live to work,” and it cripples Americans because they work so hard, and even when they take vacation, there are sometimes still the concerns of projects they attempted to leave at home.

This is why in the two months I have been in Asia, I have only met 8 Americans. Four of them quit their jobs to travel, the other 4 were either a post grad or long-term expat. It’s just too much to go to Asia when you only have two weeks holiday and the flights there and back are going to eliminate a couple of days already. So Americans float to Hawaii, Mexico or even Europe. It makes sense, But I tell you, Asia is “where it is at.” This is my 5th time back and I love it more and more every time I come back.

Get to Asia, eat all sorts of food, meet many interesting people everyday and make friends, enjoy the nature of mountains, jungle, oceans, reefs and underwater worlds. It’s all here, and it’s not going away.

I’m doing alright and feeling right at home. Hope Summer is beginning to treat everyone nicely~

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