The Difference of Actually Being There

Oct 15th, 2009 | Filed under Opinions and Perspectives, Travel

I have a lot of friends back home I talk to daily via the Internet, and all of them it seems, have a pretty strong image in their head, of what they think my life is like here in Asia. Sometimes I think they imagine me surrounded by guys in pointy bamboo farming hats, firecrackers going off in the streets, and ninjas hiding on the rooftops as I eat my rice with chop sticks.

People might think that Asia is poor and those around me are poor, but everyone that lives around me has far more money than I do. They own cars and houses, and all their necessities of life, and are usually debt free because they tend to not buy on credit here.

Just because I am in Asia, it doesn’t mean you can imagine anything about what my life would be like, your mind wants you to, but its impossible. The same if someone told me they were in North America, it is just too little information. For all I know the guy is living in an igloo in the north of Canada, or the slums of New York, or maybe even in a penthouse in Mexico City.

I find too many people when I mention where I am, imagine something in their mind of my life and actually believe it. Reality and imagination is just not the same thing.

Asia is the largest continent on earth, as you change your latitude and longitude, the local plants and animals change, as does the food. The languages, clothing, religions, politics, and customs.

Before I go to a new country, I have usually watched news about it, or maybe some television programs on it before I go. I try and educate myself about the country I am going to visit so as not to do anything that might be considered rude. I look at pictures and surf the Internet to read about them. The amazing thing is though, every new country I get to, is nothing like I imagined it would be, even after all my research.

I came to the conclusion quite quickly that “I know, I know nothing”.

Honestly with the vast amounts of knowledge in the world, not to mention the infinite things on the earth humans have not understood or documented yet, let alone other planets, the total sum of all my knowledge is so infinitely small, I know nothing. None of us do.

I remember one time back in 95 while I was in Vietnam, I met a guy in Saigon (Ho Chi Min City)that showed me these amazing pictures from Cambodia, of these ancient temples that were being eaten by the jungle and a bunch of the ones the french had done a good job of restoring including the Bayon and Ankor Wat.

That was enough encouragement for me to jump on the local bus that was leaving to Cambodia the next day

There is a long story I could insert here, but I will save that for a later date. I will give you the very short version now.

Even though I read newspapers everyday, watched the news on television, and had read books on Cambodia, I didn’t realize that the bus I was taking into Phnom Phen was actually taking me into an active and live war zone, we passed through military check points over and over again on the long road from the border of Vietnam to Cambodia’s Capital City Phnom Phen. Almost everyone, including children were carrying Machine Guns and Rocket Launchers, and gunfire could often be heard in the distance.

I had time to contemplate my lack of knowledge as I sat down at my guest house located on one of Phnom Phen’s lakes. I didn’t realize I was going into such a dangerous place. I came to the conclusion, that this particular war had at this point gone on so long, it just wasn’t news worthy anymore.

While I was sitting there contemplating, with other fellow travelers, we were actually watching tracers from large artillery firing across the lake in our general direction.

Over 5000 people died withing three kilometers of us that night, we could see a clear view of the fire that was killing them as it crept up the side of the lake towards our guesthouse. We had a knife ready to cut away the dock we were sitting on, if the fire got too close.

There is a difference between going to a place and actually experience it, when I go to a place, I do not travel in large packs of camera wielding tourists, where my guide speaks English as do all the people with me, as do the people at the restaurants and hotels I go to. I do not stay in my little western bubble of being surrounded by people that are trained in how to deal with foreigners. That is not really going anywhere as far as I’m Concerned. I actually get a little upset on the inside when people say to me, oh yeah I’ve been there, and when I see their pictures, it is all inside a gated resort where the “locals” are wearing uniforms. When they do go out to see the sites it is in a large pack. Basically doing absolutely nothing that involves getting involved in another countries culture, if they eat what they think is the local food, almost always the resorts have “westernized” it so as not to upset their customers.

I remember someone telling me about this beautiful resort they stayed in in Jamaica, and the outside walls had barbed wire on them, and that for some reason gave them the impression that outside of their walls was chaos. Too much imagination and too little information. If they had been brave enough to walk outside the resort gate they would have really traveled. Why on earth they bothered to take an airplane to a foreign country is beyond me, maybe they just should have gone swimming at the local swimming pool and saved the time and money.

Anyhow, You haven’t been “there” when you travel like that, and you didn’t “Do” the country. Please take a step back and realize you traveled on a tourist trail and all the people you met were there to try and part you from your tourist money. You probably didn’t meet any normal locals of the country at all and learned nothing about them.

Now there are a lot of great travelers out there and I met them in every place I went that I would consider really traveling, so I am not saying I am unique or alone in what I would consider “real” traveling, far from it, but still people that do it are in the minority.

There is only one place you can see a good view of the whole world, and that is the moon, have you been there? Do you think because you can see it from earth and you have seen pictures that being there wont be any different?

Anyhow I don’t know where you are, and you don’t know where I am, so lets not assume we know anything.

The Birds and The Bees

Oct 14th, 2009 | Filed under Poetry

I wrote this a long time ago when I was 23 on Kovalam Beach in Kerela India, as I sat on the edge of a beautiful beach and my new girlfriend had just gone to the store.

I used to try and find it once,
now I wait for it to come.
I used to go out seeking it,
which wasn’t very fun.

When a bird does come alone,
Who sings a friendly song,
I tend to buzz towards their claws,
Then parts of me are gone.

But If for once I find a bird,
who’s heart is made of gold.
May the passion never leave us,
and our love forever told.

Quest for the worlds funniest t-shirts.

Oct 12th, 2009 | Filed under Travel, Work

Let me tell you what I am doing currently. Right now I am traveling around and looking at funny shirts all over the world.

I have found some really funny shirts that I know have been produced in my current location for over 15 years. I recently found out a five year old T-Shirt company that is now one of the biggest shirt sites in the world have actually gone out and gotten patents on designs this company has been selling for more than ten years longer than their website has existed.

These poor stores that are producing them have customers like myself that buy in bulk from all over the world, but this big company whom I shall not name until the day they give me grief over selling these shirts. Has actually patented their designs.

How is this possible you might ask, well I guess they saw the shirt, and had some artist reproduce it, then they patented it without the original company having any idea, and of course now its too late.

Anyhow I am on this quest to find all the best shirts and put them on my site, I have about 80 funny ones up now, and a few hundred to go.

But right now I am not making money at this and funds are running a bit low, I am considering breaking into less competitive items, but then i don’t know if all my hard work on these shirts will be lost and I get known as a dress dealer instead or something.

Anyhow, I have about 2000 shirts I have actually bought and am busy photographing, I have to show color variations as well of course.

Lets hope “The Man” doesn’t see them all and patent them on me so he can stop me from selling them.

Hello world! Wow, my own blog!

Oct 10th, 2009 | Filed under Opinions and Perspectives, Travel, Work

Well hello all, this is my first time blogging.

I am having a hard time with this, I have deleted my post several time and started over.

I have a business I have started myself out of what I would define as personal necessity. I like many people was dissatisfied with my normal 9-5 job. Actually where I was working in Canada recently, that had become a 8:45 till 5:30 job.

You see that’s my original problem.

A long time ago when the earth was green my forefathers in Canada, when they worked 9-5 they actually got a one hour lunch break. They worked 7 hours in that day, and got to digest their meal.

At my last job, we were expected to work an eight hour day, so the 30 minute lunch and the 15 minute break had to be made up for at the end of the day.

We all have our gripes about the system, or as I jokingly refer to it, as “The Man”, as do many many others.

Anyhow this blog will be probably be mostly about me trying to escape “The Man”, as I no longer can fit into his system. Many others in this world are currently competing with me to do the same thing.

I decided to start my own business.

Let me tell you a bit about myself so you can maybe understand my choices here. I was a commission electronics salesman when I was 18 until the age of 23. I did very well at it. I became the top salesman in the 150 person company after the first 2 years, and remained that way. I got to know the owners and was promoted to a manager after the third year. I did well at this also and was promoted to a sales trainer for the company.

Unfortunately I had a nasty breakup with the woman I loved because of this work. Once I became a sales trainer I was traveling quite a bit, and my love didn’t understand unfortunately. Once my heart was broken, I was depressed, and soon quit my job.

Little did I know that this was the best job I was ever going to have to date, 15 years have passed since then, I am now 37.

Anyhow after leaving my job I took another commission job for a short time with a competing firm, I didn’t like it very much. So I decided to go traveling.

I spent the next two years backpacking around Asia, I experience things I wouldn’t have normally experienced in a lifetime, then eventually returned home where I got a position in commission electronic sales again.

I had itchy feet, I was not content with florescent lighting for most of my day with flashing electronic panels and LEDs for my view.

After being away for two years traveling around India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, The Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, and Japan. I was not happy with my life back as a regular Joe back in The West.

Also my time away had changed me in ways people back home couldn’t understand. My friends had mostly moved away, or gotten married etc, and I just didn’t see them very much anymore.

So off I went to Korea for a year to teach English, after that I went to Japan for a year to teach.

Having saved a bit of money in Japan I decided to go back to Canada to study computer programming. I went to CDI College in Vancouver and took a Two Year Course. I finished in just under a year. My average for the the 12 or so courses was 97%. Let me just say I barely passed high school, I skipped a third of my last year and was thankful they didn’t expel me. I am a horrible speller, and I am probably too lazy to ever create a great game or something which was my dream when I was 29. And although I can absorb books easily, I am not able to have much of a conversation most of the time.

I looked for work in Canada for six months, I applied everywhere I wanted to work. I even had a few interviews for what I would consider dream jobs, but no one called me back. I am not really sure why this was. I think it was probably because every job required two years experience and I had none. Since it was impossible to get two years experience when no one would hire me, I gave up.

I ran off back to Asia, Thailand actually, i brought my computer and packed it around, this was a full desktop PC with a monitor etc, not a laptop. I worked and worked and worked, and actually made two games. They were alright, just 2D scrolling action games.

Also during this time I had managed to marry a woman I had known from Japan and we were expecting a baby.

I took my games back to Canada and went to work for a friend of my family as a programmer, however they never gave me a start date, after the interviews. After a month I finally received the answer that for some reason I didn’t get the job.

I returned yet again back to Asia, as my wife missed me and we were expecting our child.

After the usually nine months of wait, we had our lovely son Nicholas.

I moved back to Canada again with my wife and son, and worked as a commission salesman again, in the car industry. Yes I was a car salesman.

Selling Cars isn’t really all that bad. But there are a lot of greedy people in this world, and big commission sales really brings out the worst in them. After selling cars for three years and doing very well at it. After the second fist fight I was in over a commission that another guy though was his. I should mention I am not large of stature, so I was getting bullied occasionally by the large salespeople, it is in my nature to refuse to be bullied, basically I wouldn’t stand down, and neither would they. Hence the senseless fighting for money, sad sad. Very depressing.

I gave up selling cars, and went to work in a technical support firm for HP. I actually enjoyed this work very much, I mean the job itself was pretty horrible, but the people I worked with were great. The pay from this, was not enough to support the family. My wife missed Asia and wanted to move back there very badly, and I missed it as well.

Anyhow here I am now, currently in South East Asia, though I have just come from Laos and will be going to Malaysia in a week.

I am not backpacking. I have started a business

Here is the Link:

Clothing, Hilarious T-Shirt Galleries

It is called PlanetaryBargains.

I started this because Items on this side of the world are surprisingly less expensive than the exact same item can be purchased in the Western World. In fact retail here is generally less than wholesale is in the west.

I want you to understand something. I can buy items in Asia, before it is shipped to western countries, and dutied and taxed etc, and handled by lots of high paid people until that item has become very expensive for the retailer to sell. I will be off to China soon to see some manufacturers also.

I am trying to bypass that system. I am the little guy here trying to find a way to make money in this big world, on the Internet. Competing with Big Box Retailers, and huge established companies etc (aka The Man).

Speaking of `the Man`I have recently had a battle with a large company, actually one of the top 100 in the world I believe, over the sale of one of my joke t-shirts. The man is keeping me down. I wont say more right now, I fear if I do `The Man`will take his giant thumb and squish me until I can no longer talk.

That particular shirt was 80% of my site traffic, I removed the shirt to avoid a legal battle with a huge company I couldn’t afford to win, and am currently without customers to view my site.

Hence this blog.

Anyhow, I will try and talk more later, I seem to be rambling on without point at the moment. Thank you for taking the time to read.

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