World travel videos, photos, and blog.

TED and the Net

I attempted to find a bus to Mt Fuji last night but when I arrived at Fujinomiya Station I couldn't make heads or tails out of the bus signs. Everything was in Kanji. I asked some local youth if there was a bus to Fujisan's 5th Station and after consulting with each other for five minutes in hushed Japanese they replied, "No bus". The JR officials were equally as helpful due to their lack of English. I felt a little frustrated because I couldn't find the schedules for the southern stations on the net and I was sure there would be some sort of guidance for us foreign souls who just like to show up to places unprepared. In the end, the weather seemed a bit too harsh to do any hiking anyhow. No worries though, with the JR pass, I didn't lose any extra money on this exploratory mission to Fujinomiya. I tried to catch a film instead but I arrived too late for the last shows at 9pm here. By the way, my two reasons for stopping in Japan are to climb Mt. Fuji, which is done at night so you can catch the sunrise at the summit, and to see Pin, which is usually done at night because he works in the day. (Pin, there's a gay joke I could have made about rising but I'll keep that humor off the blog) The bonus to visiting Japan is the excellent food, meeting Pin's friends, the comfy bathroom, and hopefully meeting up with a few other friends from Cali.

This morning I found myself getting caught up in web surfing again. It actually started last night when I watched at least a dozen Human Giant skits on YouTube. I'd never heard of this show on MTV. Aziz Ansari, awesome. So this morning I got up and spent at least an hour watching videos at which led me to the Amir/Streeter Prank War on So painfully fun to watch. I also watched a technology video on CH that led me to

Finding TED was like finding an undiscovered tomb in Egypt. I have no idea if there will be anything of value in it but it is so full of seemingly valuable 'stuff' I'm overwhelmed. I can't believe I'd never heard of this Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference held annually in Monterey, California since 1984.
The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).
Now many of these amazing talks are available on this website for free. The best part, they're downloadable and ipod ready! I've been downloading random talks on the topics of culture, environment, technology... talks by people like Tony Robbins, Al Gore, Dean Kamen, Hans Rosling, Blaise Aguera y Arcas. It's incredible and I think it'll be amazing to watch these lectures while I travel the world. If I had a lot on my mind before, this is going to make me bleed from the ears. Scott, this is the kind of web site I'm sure you've stumbled upon. If not, check it out. I just downloaded a talk by Will Wright talking about his new game.

I'm downloading furiously... it'd be awesome if I could just get the whole website zipped. In my "if I was a wicked rich and could do this trip over again" fantasy, I'd have a staff of college students who would just sit and download material like this for me, rip new films with handbrake, and put together a top 100 of international music. It'd all be loaded onto my ipod for flights and train rides, waiting in lines, and insomnia. I wonder if there's a market out there for 'pre-loaded' media players. There has to be. For instance, I go to "" and punch in that I'm taking a trip to Japan. For a hefty fee, I get an ipod shipped to me with JPop music picks, a Japanese phrase audio program, maybe a Murakami audio or e-book, and heck, a couple of Kurosawa films or the Ring horror series. Similarly, I could ask for the 'global consciousness' pack which would give me a series of talks from TED on relevant topics. I doubt there's a service like that. The licensing issues and costs would be complicated. But like I said, if you're rich enough, I'm sure there's someone who could put it together.

You see how I got off on a tangent here, just telling you about finding a website?

I wish I had figured out how to increase my learning capacity. I admit I have a problem focusing. It's my imagination, it's out of control sometimes. It takes me twice as much time to read things because every interesting new tidbit makes me think about the past, the present, and/or the future in reality and make-believe.

I should go now. I have emails to reply to. A wonderful land of culture and beauty, just a train ride away and I'm stuck on the net!


Thank you Pin & Sarah- Ramblings

I didn't do much yesterday except for catch up on sleep. In the afternoon I went grocery shopping at Seiyu. It's one thing for me to visit a foreign food store but to be hungry at the same time. I was there forever, trying not to buy every weird looking snack they had. I also resisted a trip to Mister Donut. Last time I was here, I was lured to that shop everytime there was one in sight. You see, Mister Donut has these cute little prizes every week that you can get by redeeming points. But you've gotta buy a whole lot of doughnuts to earn points. I started bringing doughnuts to people as guests. How sweet this American comes bearing sweets. Oh no, I just needed the set of Pon de Lion glasses madame! I digress.

I got a little freaked out while paying for my bread, milk, Fruity Orange, bento box, and assorted potato snacks... everyone was taking their grocery basket to a separate table and pulling out their own bags. A woman was bagging her food in Disneyland Tokyo bags. I didn't have any bags, what do I do? Fortunately the store did in fact provide bags but if you bring your own, you're not only reducing waste but you also save a few Yen on your purchase. Ah Japan.

In the evening I met another one of Pin's JET buddy's, Sarah, for dinner. We had a great time. I poured out my life story for a good hour. Funny part was, we had just joked about how some people annoyingly pour out their life stories after just meeting someone. Hope you didn't mind Sarah. Thanks for grabbing the bill guys. When we got out of the restaurant, we ran right smack into a Japanese lowrider. He drove off before I could get better pictures but man, weird.

HA! No sound!? And I deleted the original video files. I'll never cut a video late at night again, after, um, snacks. It's probably better that whatever I was rambling about is lost forever.

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Lunar Eclipse of the Heart

I woke up feeling so happy to be in the comfort of Pin's apartment. I think I said, "Japan... It's so not India!" I think I got up too early though and was lured into an internet binge for a couple of hours. Online payments to make, people to Skype. I met Pin and his friend Rebecca for sushi near Shizuoka station. The restaurant had a sushi conveyor belt as well as a touch screen computer to place orders. When you are done, they scan chips inside the plates and give you some sort of smart card to take to the register to pay. Japan dude. In the restaurant the night before, the table had a button on it to summon the waitress. Service.

I spent the rest of the afternoon searching for a haircut joint called Snip Snap. I was failing miserably until I gave in and went back to Pin's to consult a map. What is it with me and wandering foreign places without a map? I've wasted hours lost in the heat this way... though I do discover neighborhoods much better this way.

The video below gives you a taste of my day. I mentioned walking around the streets here is like walking on a movie set because a) it looks so different from home and like something out of a 'movie' and b) it's so clean, like a movie set (on a film set everything is controlled, even the grime) And the vending machines... so convenient. I'm walking around sweating and I think, "Boy, I sure wish I could have a cold drink right now" Boom, a vending machine within 20 feet. Pin claims there's one vending machine per 7 people here or something insane. I dunno. I must say, it ain't cheap. I do miss the 50-cent water in India.

Pin's new place has one of these toilets that I thought was so great the first time I used one in 2004. The water is fresh, it's actually the water that refills the tank for the next flush. And I forgot to mention in the video that it also has a heated seat!

Later in the evening we went to the harbor in Shimizu for drinks and snacks while checking out the lunar eclipse. A little cloudy but still pretty special. I've been in such a good mood here. Too many days of rough travel perhaps. I really need to figure out where to go in the few days I have here. I wish I could stay longer but my budget's already hurting enough. I'll try to head to Mt. Fuji soon and do some day trips to Kyoto, Nagoya, Tokyo, and see Hiroshima.

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Thoughts on India

I'm planning to write a few thoughts about India but I'm going to have to do it later.

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Yay Japan!

It's deja vu all over again. I'm back in Japan after my first visit in 2004, incidentally, that was also my first trip out of the United States (not counting Mexico... in California, you don't count Mexico).

Tokyo is the polar opposite of Delhi. It's immaculately clean here. My friend Pin is hosting me and rushed me straight to a restaurant to treat me to a big meal of sushi, fried chicken, drinks, and tofu dessert. Mmm! I'm in heaven and everyone's Japanese.

Gotta wash the travel dirt off me and get to bed. Oyasumi!


Last Day, Himalayas

I'm continuing to meet fascinating people on the trip. A French chef staying at my guest house recently sold off everything and is traveling with his wife and 7 year old for four years. His first trip ever was a 3,000km motorcycle ride from France to Norway when he was 16 years old. It's wonderful to sit back and just listen to the smokers wax poetic about their experiences and everything 'shanti shanti'. They find me to be a quiet and peaceful person (not quiet and creepy like they do in the States, ha!). In fact, that's been one of the encouraging things about meeting people on this journey... often, people have commented that they've found me to be a generally good human with a positive energy or aura. I had a lot of trouble appreciating that when I was back home.

Dear Mom, Thank you for mailing the box back. It has been received and my refund is being processed.

Dear Valentina, When you return to Paris from Africa, expect a funny looking package sent from Delhi, India. I hope the color pleases you.

I think I jumped back into normal food to quickly yesterday. Potaotes, eggs, and buttered toast... bad call. So far toast, porridge, and mint tea seems to be working out. Wish me luck on the bumpy 12 hour bus ride tonight.

My long puffy hair makes me look skinnier in photos. I need a buzz cut desperately. I was thinking about a 20 Rupee hair cut in India but the other day, I watched a bunch of people crowding around this guy from Yemen at my guest house. They were checking out the lice eggs in his hair. Mmm, let's make an omelet. Pin, hope you have a good place for me to get a trim- number 2 on the sides, chop the top.

I'm excited for Japan, it's going to be sooo different! India is an incredible place but you need to take your time here. Have a friend with you. There is no way to do it at the pace of my European trip.


Here Comes the Sun

I had a hard time sleeping last night and I started to think about this whole Earth in 20 years business. I think I may have come off as pessimistic (blame the indigestion). I don't want you to think that my outlook is so bleak. After seeing so many beautiful things and witnessing what human beings are capable of when they have chosen to do good things... it's a beautiful planet.

The key for me over the last few years is to strike some sort of balance. Life is ups and downs, beautiful and ugly, easy and difficult, yin and yang. I want to do my best to be a good human being. I think if there are enough people making this effort, the planet will find more balance. I left LA a few months back because something was way off. Now, I feel things leveling off a bit.

The morning sun has warmed up Vashisht. I need to head out and find some mellow food to get my strength back. Tomorrow night I'm jumping on another night bus back to Delhi.



I've been spending more time at the Rainbow Cafe, talking to various travelers. Topics of discussion have included world cinema, relationships with nature, and prophecies told by tribes from around the world. Apparently 2012 may be an interesting year for moving up a dimension. My friend Chris here told me how he has chosen to believe in this upcoming event where the world will experience a great energy exchange. Some will go to the other side and some will... who knows? Kind of wild stuff to digest if you're not high like everyone else but what he did say that kind of struck a chord was that he chose to believe in this fantasy of the future because the future's reality was harder to believe in. This was profound to me because, sadly, 20 years from now, I do not believe we will be in a better place. The momentum in which the world is moving towards environmental destruction, war, poverty, and so forth seems unstoppable. I do believe we can slow it down but in five, ten, twenty years... I'm glad I've taken the opportunity to see as much as I can.

I received the typical Indian souvenir yesterday- belly problems. I was so confident that I'd be able to avoid it but bam! weird sharp pains hit me at night. The worst part was rolling around in bed for three hours. I couldn't turn my brain off and I just kept thinking and thinking about different things, having conversations with people in my head. All the while, it felt like a knife was sticking out of my stomach. The next day I popped immodium, drank the guesthouse's host's lemon-salt concoction, and had a reiki treatment performed on me by a Russian girl. When you're in the Himalayas, you try everything, heh. Today, my belly's still out of whack but my head feels better.

You know what's creepy about this blog? You're all getting to know me way too well.


Where Are You From?

You get that question frequently as you travel. The best compliment I get is someone conversing with me in the local language because they think I'm from there. I've had quite a few people start telling me things in Hindi. When I tell them I'm from the US (in aggressive touristy areas I've started saying I'm from Toronto, Canada) they look at me strangely and say I look Japanese, Chinese, etc. The Indians can really spot my "Chino Eyes" (my Mexican friends throw that term at me, not the Indians). I have to explain my Vietnamese heritage and they nod with that "I thought so" expression. I swear, I should really just buy a local outfit wherever I am and I think I'd manage a little better, maybe avoid "tourist" prices.

I seriously need a haircut.

I've decided, there's no '5 second' rule in India.

It never stopped raining today so I played cards with some Canadians and listened to music on the balcony for a couple of hours. I took a nap and had a dream where Jack Nicholson played a part. Weird. I sat and had Nepali style chicken at the Rainbow Cafe (run by six dudes from Nepal) while watching the clouds roll into the valley, making everything disappear. Crazy Himalayan mountains man. It's nice to feel cold in India.


Finding Peace

I've spent about a day in Vashist and I feel this strange turmoil weighing on my shoulders. I sat staring out at the mountains yesterday thinking how I've felt least at peace in India than anywhere else. I want to go out and create a beautiful video for you of the natural beauty surrounding me but I think I'll just sit and do some writing and some reading.

Vashist is an interesting little town in Manali. You see a lot of "hippie" looking guys and girls. Everyone's smoking hash or ganja. I think I may be the only one who's not. There's a temple here and a hot spring where people bath all day or do their laundry. Cows roam all over the place (watch your step, there are fresh droppings on every path). At meals, I enjoy the company of creatures. A fly stood and ate a grain of sugar yesterday while I had my vegetarian thali. This morning at breakfast, a bird stood in front of my plate and ate rice and bread crumbs. In another mood, it could be spiritual but right now, I think of loneliness, the future, and the why.

If it doesn't rain, I'm going to try to make it to the top of the mountain today. And if the weather holds up tomorrow, perhaps I'll venture on farther.


Mountains of India

I was on the craziest bus ride of my life last night. Twelve hours. It was like being on Star Tours for twelve hours straight except you're not strapped in. The seats recline all the way back so you can try to sleep- if you can stay in your seat. I wasn't worried though for some reason. I think I've reached this point in my travels where I decide to do something, shrug, and put my faith in the hands of the world spirit.

I reached Manali and it's a beautiful and peaceful place in the mountains. I tried hiking to a waterfall but I cut my toe so I turned back. Plus, the path completely disappeared on me. I may head to a higher place in the Himalayas tomorrow or Monday. I forget how to spell it. Wish me luck. I'm gonna go chill now.

-Force Feeding-

I forgot a little experience in Agra the other day that I wanted to make note of. I did the Taj and then I went to cut my thank yous at Costa coffee. When I got out, I went to the sketchy internet cafe before trying to head back to the hostel. My rickshaw driver was persuading me to go to a handicrafts place so he could get a commission, even if I didn't buy anything. But I was feeling woozy in a weird way so all I wanted was to get out of the sun and wait for my train. He wouldn't stop persisting so I handed him some money and tried to get another driver to take me. He tried to get me to go to a shop, too. I was so frustrated. Then this woman with a baby came tugging at me for some change. I refused and she begged even more. I swear, this was the most aggravated I'd ever been in the three months I've been traveling. I just wasn't feeling well so I marched down the street and over-paid a guy to take me back to the hotel. That's where I ran into John and got eaten by skeets. (the bites have swollen up since they rubbed all over the bus seats while I crashed around last night on the ride here)

I mentioned to John that I'd felt a weird kind of woozy and I didn't know whether it was fatigue, the heat, or some disease I picked up from a bug. He told me that the heat can make you lose your appetite and I realized that was the problem. I hadn't been hungry since coming to India. I'd somehow managed to sleep away a lot of meals. He told me that he had to force himself to eat three meals due to an earlier ailment. So since then, I've also been forcing myself to eat, even when nothing seems very appetizing when my head is breaking out, I can actually smell myself, and all I want is to bath in a nice, clean, shower that's separate from the toilet area.

I'm seriously thinking about checking into someplace ritzy when I get back to Delhi. Though I could hold out til Japan... though the showers aren't much more 'Western' there. Okay, enough whining. Just wanted to tell you that the heat will play with your body. Remember to eat! (Yes, mom)



While I tried to kill time by counting the number of new mosquito kisses I could collect in one hour (twelve), I ran into John, my ten-month traveling British friend. We were discussing our journeys and beyond. He mentioned that traveling had enabled him to soak up knowledge a lot quicker, like a sponge.

I liked this idea of being a sponge. As we travel, we soak up images, smells, sounds, stories, knowledge and so on. By the end of the trip, it's dripping out of you. It'll definitely take some time to sit, reflect, and squeeze it out to see what you've got. Otherwise, it'll evaporate, leaving you damp at most. I think I'm going to actually have to take some time off, after my time off, to sort through everything I've been collecting in my brain.

I was telling John how I'd come to the decision to travel and mentioned that no one ever regrets traveling. He said he'd met two people who told him that traveling had wrecked their lives. I grew nervous for a moment thinking that perhaps taking time off had cost them some sort of opportunity. What they said was that once they had returned from their trips, they found themselves eager to go back out again. They'd sit at work and find themselves trying to figure out when they'd have enough money to go to the next generation. The funny thing was, I'd had this imaginary conversation with myself on the train to Agra the other morning (I make up a lot of random dialogue... stop looking at me that way):

- How'd you guys deal with getting acclimated to being back home after seeing so much and traveling so long?

+ You don't, you just come back and try to figure out how you can get back out there again.

= Yeah man, you're $%^ed. You've got 'it', you've got the travel bug.


+ I'm sure everywhere you went, someone told you what you should have seen.

- Yes! People were like, "Are you going to Turkey? You should spend at least a month in Turkey." And I'd say, um, I'm spending zero days there, you think that's enough?

= You'll never see everything. You have to realize that. It's not possible.

+ You'll try though. Every moment you're back at the office, you'll be working towards the next trek.

So it was interesting that John mentioned these 'wrecked' lives. I'd already started to feel it. One of my newest fantasies is to return to the States for a few weeks and figure out how to make some quick cash to continue on to South America as soon as possible. You can't travel five continents and just stop can you?

I'm heading to Manali today on a night bus. I'm currently passing time, pre-typing blogs in the sanctuary of another air-conditioned coffee house (today Barista, yesterday Costa). To my dismay, there's no wifi nor an outlet to keep my laptop charged. But the paneer sandwich and ginger fizz were yummy.


Thanks to the Raiker Family! Taj Mahal Morning

Before I left for my big trip, the Raikers sent a handful of rupees with me for my trip to India. They've helped me get to Agra to visit the beautiful Taj Mahal. I got up early and headed over to see it in the morning light. The skies were a bit hazy so it was a bit different than a normal sunrise but I couldn't believe how incredible it was. An amazing monument to love. I spent about three hours on the grounds just checking it out from different angles and watching as people from around the world showed up to experience it. At times the sun peeked out and made the whole side of it sparkle. Definitely a wonder of the world. I ended the morning with a nice breakfast at the hostel and in a few hours I'll head back to Delhi before heading North to Himachal Pradesh

Have a safe and pleasant trip to Peru. Many many thanks. I'll see you again soon enough.

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Thank you Harai! First Day in Agra

It's probably just as warm in Sherman Oaks but at least there's a mall or something to escape to. Yesterday I hired an autorickshaw to take me to a few of the sights around Agra. It was a pretty relaxing day. The Agra Fort was massive and pretty cool. I wandered around for a couple of hours, spotting monkeys running across walls. I was driven out to the river where I could catch the backside of the Taj Mahal. This was my first close up view of this magnificent building. I watched buffalo going for a swim and had kids coming up to me asking if I wanted a photo for a few rupees. Finally, for lunch, I stopped into a restaurant called Indiana and had a fresh lemon soda, butter naan, and chicken murg masala. Pretty tasty. My last stop was a marble shop where a fellow by the name of Krishna told me stories of how eleven generations of his family had been working on the Taj Mahal. I got some background on the Taj which made today's visit more interesting. I wish you could have been there. Hope you get the cardio class going. Can't wait to tell you stories in person when I get back! Take care and stay cool. One of us has to.

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I haven't been taking photos of India which is a shame, I know. I've always been uncomfortable taking photos of street life in poorer areas. Valentina says it's called "the gaze"... those pictures of kids smiling while living in poverty. I'll try to snap something 'real' while I'm here but for now, let me try to paint the picture in words. (Half of you just stopped reading and scrolled to the YouTube videos ha!)

To catch a 6am train to Agra the other day, I decided to book myself into the Smyle Inn across from New Delhi Railway Station. The hostel's actually located in an alley off of the Market Bazaar. Now, imagine chaos. Double that. You get the area around NDRS. Across the street is this market where you're subjected to all sorts of unpleasant smells and constantly have to watch your step as there's animal droppings, food debris, or people spit everywhere. You'll also have to dodge cows, motorcycles, autorickshaws, and people pushing carts or carrying goods.

When I finally found the Smyle Inn, I thought, "hmm, it smells like a toilet" (that's not exactly what I said to myself but I have to clean up my language- mom's readin' this). I couldn't figure out where it was coming from until later when I realized, there was actually two open squat toilets right at the entrance of the alley. Only once did I see someone use it and thank goodness he was only urinating.

Bathing has been a chore in India. Most of my bathrooms have a shower with low pressure, no hot water, and no toilet paper. What they do have are buckets. 'Bucket showers' are a new fact of life. You fill up a bucket, try to soap up, and use a smaller bucket to poor the water over you. This makes 'a quick shower' not so quick. Meanwhile, you end up with the entire floor completely wet. All of this was part of the adventure at Caroline's because I knew that she was the only one using the place (plus she's got a great squeegee to clean up the water). But there's a whole lot of shuttering going on when I start thinking about how people use the other tiny bucket for the toilet next to the shower. My poor feet. Oh, and in Agra, I was showering and looked up to see dozens of tiny insects hanging out in the corner above my head.

Last night I came back from my day roaming the Agra Fort and other sights and saw something run across my wall. I was spooked. The four different types of insects I spotted didn't bother me so much as long as they stayed out of my hair and shoes but this thing was big. I pulled the bed out and found a lizard. ::sigh of relief:: I thought, at least he's helping to eat the bugs.

On the streets of Agra, I've been spotting a variety of wild life. Again, I wasn't able to whip out the camera in time. There are elephants, camels, buffalo, goats, burrows, dogs, (a rat just ran out the door of this internet cafe) and my favorite- families of monkeys. It's a zoo out here!

Lying in bed last night, I started to get a little impatient. I was constantly shifting my body around to get out of my own sweat spot. I'm laying there under a fan, swatting away flies, and I'm thinking, this is only the beginning. Thailand, China, Vietnam... there are some funky places ahead. What have I gotten myself into. But this morning, I met an Englishman who's on his last stop before returning to the UK from a 10 month trip (shortened from 12). I can do this. I stink right now and there's something crawling on me but man, what an adventure.

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If You Like Dosa Masala...

...and getting caught in the rain. You'd love Delhi.

Eating Indian food alone has been an adventure. I never quite know what to do with everything in front of me. Yesterday for lunch I tried Sagar restaurant in the Defence Colony. I believe it's supposed to be 'South Indian' cuisine. I sat down and asked the waiter, "Whatsa vada?" He had a hard time explaining it to me but I ordered it anyway along with a dosa masala which I've also never had. Oh, and a mango milk shake. Mmm. Anyway, out comes two metal bowls of some sort of sauces and a metal cup of water (they love metal plates and cups here). Then the vada arrived. They looked like doughnuts! Why didn't he just say so? I cut into it and dipped it into the coconut sauce. Definitely not sweet like a doughnut. More spicy and maybe a hint of onion. The other sauce was brothy like a spicy vegetable soup. I dipped the vada in that, too. Then the guy brought two more metal bowls of sauce and the dosa masala soon after. A dosa is pretty much an Indian crepe. Except it's not sweet but rather spicy. (it's like they've taken western desserts- doughnuts and crepes- and added a bunch of spices to play jokes on your tongue's expectations) Overall, pretty good light lunch. Though I've already acquired a taste for Indian in the past.

Oh, I forgot to mention the pre and post meal customs I've encountered at Punjabi by Nature and Anand Restaurant (where I had some tandoori chicken and biryani tonight). They brought out an appetizer 'salad' of sliced onions with a spicy powder or sauce on top and a wedge of lime. If you like raw onions, it's not too bad. Though I only eat a few bites to keep the mosquitoes from kissing me. After the meal, you might get a plate of fennel seed, sometimes sugar coated or mixed with rock sugar. This is used as a breath freshener. I kind of dig it. (Fennel has a bit of a licorice flavor due to a compound called anethole that they both contain) At PbN, they also brought out bowls of water to wash our fingers as much of the dining involves using your hands. (at Anand, I used wipes I keep in my pocket)

Last night, I also met up with Manash's cousin Ankush and his girlfriend. We got caught in a bit of rain but it did seem to cool down the city a little. Over some bottles of Kingfisher, we had some good discussions about child development, Indian cinema, cultural differences within the country, and why I should have spent more time here. Time is really flying. I took my brother's advice and decided to just relax for a couple of days in Delhi. I've tried catching up on a million emails. Sorry if I haven't replied.

I finally managed to escape the apartment and go shoe shopping for Valentina at Dilli Haat (not very interesting to me as the only thing I bought was a Maaza mango drink). I jumped into an autorickshaw [video below] and went to Janpath market where I finally found the shoes but instead of buying them, I talked to an Indian merchant for an hour. He tried to convince me that I should visit Kashmir instead of Manali and make use of his houseboat. If only there was more time, Shaki. Hmm, why do I keep talking to locals and eating chicken immediately afterwards? That's three countries in a row.

Man, I'm rambling now. At least you're all ready for a nap now. Night!

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Working Day, Delhi

I had so much catching up to do with messages, I've spent the day at Caroline's place cutting, blogging, and uploading.[Egypt and Greece photos are up on Picasa] Maybe tomorrow I'll actually see what Delhi looks like in the daytime!

Again, much thanks to my family- Walt, Charley, Binh, Carol, John, and mom who continue to support. I hope you don't need a video to know that I appreciate your assistance as it's made things like broken cameras and whether to take faster ferries much easier to deal with. Love you guys!

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Thanks Caroline! Broken Water

Caroline, I'm so glad I caught you before you took off for Geneva. Thank you for the delicious welcome to India meal at Punjabi by Nature. I swear I thought I was back in LA for a moment until we walked back out into the humidity and roads crowded with rickshaws, stray dogs, and cows. It was an amazing evening. The bats flying over Lodi Gardens... I'll remember that forever. And the water adventures, too funny. Sorry for wrecking your bathroom. And by the way, I've been eating your pears and bread... wouldn't want you to come back to spoiled food now would we? I wish we could have spent more time together but I guess that means we'll have to meet up again somewhere on the planet.

You've been YouTubed:

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Thanks CJ & Uyen! Nights at the Palace

Time goes by, so slowly. I have fond memories of NYE: Berlin. Snowball fights in Rosenthaler Platz? Come on. When are we going to tear it up again? Wish we could all have 'summered' in the Greek islands. I skipped out on the party islands but the closest I got was hanging out at the Pink Palace in Kerkyra (Corfu).

This place is like a summer camp for college kids. The place can hold something like 900 backpackers and they provide everything you need from breakfast in the morning, cheap lunches at their beach cafe, and dinner in the evenings. The beach is at your doorstep, they run kayak trips, quad safaris, and the "Booze Cruise". Below the dining hall is the Palladium night club where they have toga parties, plate smashing Greek dancing, a magic night, and until the wee hours of the morning, deejayed dance music. I did some people watching on the dance floor but never partied all night. I spent my days on the beach and in the water instead. Sometimes I even left the "compound" as I liked to call it and explored other parts of Agios Gordios (the beach town) and the island.

Often in the mornings, you'd run into kids at breakfast who were still lit from the club and hadn't slept yet. Too much. Thanks for the contribution, it helped out with meals, drinks, ice cream, and internet fees while I hung out on my last Greek island. Here's a sample of the silliness:

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Thanks Dan and Kelly! Kayak Safari

Dan, the renaissance man. Have I ever told you how amazed I am at your multi-talented-ness? Your vast knowledge of film and literature... your quick-witted yet completely screwy humor? I'm not only saying this because you've put some dollars towards my tummy. I miss you guys, hope Medium Rare and the job are coming along nicely. Lovely Kelly, thank you, too. I forget that you must always include the better half in thanking married men. My bad. You guys rock!

I took your fundage and put it towards a Kayak Safari at the Pink Palace in Corfu. It was a great trip on a two-person Kayak (shared with the French-Canadian girl) to cliff-jumping spots and deserted islands. The trip was led by this guy who had traveled around a bit, gotten various degrees including a PhD, and ended up on Kerkyra where he's spreading peace to partying people at the Palace. My favorite part was sitting in a circle on Aphrodite's island. There were maybe 20 of us up there. We passed around a cup of moonshine as we each shared a bit about ourselves and said 'cheers' in our native languages. It was awesome to hear about where people had come from and where they were going. One girl was about to head to Africa for 27 months with the Peace Corp. They told her she wouldn't know where she'd be stationed until she got there. Whoa! At least three of us had recently quit our jobs to travel. A bunch had just finished college or grad school (and didn't know what was next). A couple were on holiday. There was one guy ready to pursue acting in LA. So many stories. (So many cute girls) So many people discovering things about themselves.

Thanks for helping ease the financial pain of the trip. BTW, it was more snacks than lunch on the Kayak Safari- meatballs, dolmades- rice wrapped with grape leaves, and this nice Greek pine wine. Here's a video of the view outside of my room at the Pink Palace (and above is a photo of me on the beach, my rock wall, and a naked dude- He wants in on the next game of Liar's Dice):

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Thanks Angela! Luck from Luxor

Ang! Miss you guys at the house of mouse. I miss our lunches in the lounge watching Springer, Lucy, or just exchanging self-deprecating humor. Hope you guys are still making animation magic. Every now and then I run into people who are delighted to hear of my work on Meet the Robinsons. I met this family from Ottawa who watched it on their flight and thought it was great. These great Italian friends I met in Corfu had heard of it as it may have just been released out there. They treated me like a movie star at dinner, very amusing. Thank you for helping me stay fed and healthy on the trip. As always, give everyone my regards.

At the Temple of Karnak in Luxor, there's a statue of a scarab beetle dedicated by Amenhotep III to Khepri, god of the rising sun. It's fun to watch people walk around it. They say three times for luck, five times for marriage, and seven times for children. Check out this video (though it'll probably be a blurry mess on YouTube).

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Thanks Oscar! Hamdi-la!

Houston baby! So great to hear from you. It's nice that you, Rick, and Cara are doing so well in Texas. Still heading to Patagonia? Can I tag along?

I used your contribution to stay hydrated in Egypt. With all of the desert trekking through tombs, temples, and pyramids, you have to keep drinking the water. I also treated myself to a few orange sodas. I mentioned in another blog that I loved drinking Fanta in the heat. I never drink soda in the states but it just tastes so good in Egypt. While I was in Luxor, I also had a nice chicken meal with Hamdi, this young Egyptian merchant that I ended up chatting with for three hours. He asked me why I didn't have a girlfriend and I told him I didn't have money. He thought this was odd but later, I asked him why he didn't have a girlfriend and it was the same sentiment. He said, why would I want a girl? To talk to her? I can talk to myself. To eat dinner with her? I can eat with myself, cheaper. On other reasons, apparently religion prevents other benefits of a mate. He seemed to have dreams of visiting Costa Rica. He had friends in California. All of his brothers worked together to run shops. Later I also tried to explain my shyness. Hamdi found shyness in a man to be ridiculous. He simply explained that I am man and a woman does not expect shyness in a man. I had to be strong like an Egyptian. Later, we were hanging out on the street and found myself in a tag team with him as we flirted with a tourist. He said, you are not shy. And I told him that he was strong enough for the both of us. So I told him whenever I needed a boost of courage, I'd think of him and would say, "Hamdi-la!" It was all very amusing. Great time.

I hope to see you guys again someday, maybe over some Texas BBQ... unless we can find a good paella somewhere.

And now for the great statue of Ramses II in Memphis and the awesome hypostyle hall at the Temple of Karnak:

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Thanks Angelica! Kushari and Friends

It's nice to "meet" you, Angelica. I'm glad my travels have brought back fond memories of your own trip and good luck with your next journey. In Luxor, Egypt, I met a cool guy from New York who was on the tour of the temples with me. After being beaten down by the desert sun all morning, we headed into town to find some lunch. We stopped at a kushari joint and I had a big bowl with a bottle of orange soda. I don't what it is about the desert, but it makes me crave orange soda. (similarly, Athens makes me crave lemon Fanta). Kushari is like this Egyptian fast food where they serve up a bowl full of macaroni, lentils or other beans, dried sweet onions, and a side of watery tomato sauce that is just slightly spicy. At the table you can find a lemon and spice mixture to pour over the kushari as well. But I wasn't up for anything that was sitting in the sun all day. (I've seen people put their thumbs on the top of the bottles to mix the lemon juice up... yeah, no thanks)

Me and my new friend watched the scene on the streets below of people praying, carrying carpets on their heads, and selling fruits and breads. It was a good meal and cheap, too! Thanks for feeding me. My camera broke that day so I don't have photos yet but here's a video of me and another traveler crawling around a tomb in Saqqara:

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Thanks Julie! Eat Like an Egyptian

It was great to see your name come up on, it's been so long. I'm diggin' your artwork, I love finding old friends from SJ who are living the life of the artist. I'm doing my best to drink all of these travel experiences in so that someday, something creative will be born of it. I took a tour of temples and pyramids in Saqqara, Dashur, and Giza, Egypt a couple weeks back. I had a driver named Hossein who cracked me up all day with his singing, his reckless driving, and his Egyptian humor. We stopped by the Saqqara's Nest restaurant for a hearty meal of chicken, hummus, falafel, eggplant, spicy tomatoes, and this rice wrapped in some sort of cabbage leaf. De-friggin-licious! Here's a little video thanks for you, keep creating!It was great to see your name after so long. I'm diggin' your artwork, I love finding old friends from SJ who are living the life of the artist. I'm doing my best to drink all of these travel experiences in so that someday, something creative will be born of it. I took a tour of temples and pyramids in Saqqara, Dashur, and Giza, Egypt a couple weeks back. I had a driver named Hossein who cracked me up all day with his singing, his reckless driving, and his Egyptian humor. We stopped by the Saqqara's Nest restaurant for a hearty meal of chicken, hummus, falafel, eggplant, spicy tomatoes, and this rice wrapped in some sort of cabbage leaf. De-friggin-licious! Here's a little video thanks for you, keep creating!

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Thanks Shilpa! Three Day Thira Crush

As you requested, I went to have stuffed tomatoes in Santorini my second night there. I went to a restaurant in Fira town and had a nice little seat to myself (slightly depressing). I started with a beef soup and a stuffed potato which were pretty good. While I ate, a cat kept wandering around the restaurant. They're everywhere on the islands. This couple at the next table kept calling to it, "Bella! Bella!" Finally, it came up and took a nap on the chair next to them. Pretty cute I guess, if you're into animals and junk. A little while later, these two women sat at the table in front of me. There was a blond facing me and a brunette with her back to me. I could hear them speaking English but I couldn't make out what they were saying as music was starting to play at a lounge downstairs. Slowly, I could feel a crush developing on this blond. I scanned fingers for wedding rings (none) and did my best to figure out if they had boyfriends back home. I was so attracted to her I ate my food slowly (so not me) and even ordered an espresso (totally not me). At one point she smiled right at me and I smiled back (hopefully a real smile and not one of my 'blank' smiles). This totally made me nervous. I thought about making a sign and holding it up saying "Room for dessert?" But I couldn't figure out a move. But that smile, I was completely enamored. So much so, my brain started cranking out weird storylines to romantic comedies. Inspiration, what else could I want? To talk to her I guess.

But I relented to my shyness, shot my free ouzo and paid the bill (with your money). Later I wandered around the Fira strip doing lots of people watching. I really enjoyed this because there were so many different people wandering around curiously following dance music coming from different clubs. While I was walking around, I passed the two girls from the restaurant. Again, me and the blond exchanged smiles and a 'hi'. I was freaking out at this point. I tried to work up some courage in case I found them again. And I did! They were sitting in a bar. I stood outside and tried to figure out a move. I decided I'd slide right up next to her and order a drink, maybe refresh theirs if they needed. As I was about to walk in, they walked right out in front of me. I was stunned, like I was caught or something. They didn't see me though and I hung back for a bit.

Finally, after consulting with Azad online, I found them at a cafe and just walked up and sat down next to them. Turns out they're from Michigan. The blond, better looking up close. The cafe was closing though and practically booted us out so I walked them back to their hotel room where they had the most incredible view of the moon over the caldera. It was so quiet and peaceful. I chatted with the blond while her friend was inside on the phone. I kind of gathered that they were not single but I was having such a nice time hanging out with some attractive girls rather than staring at the moon by myself. Finally, I took off as it was getting super late.

The next morning I went back to their hotel and left a note inviting them to dinner. In the evening I met up with them at a beautiful and romantic place called Sphinx. Wonderful views and scrumptious food. I had pasta with prawns and we shared a really good Greek moussaka (eggplant, minced meat, potatoes, yumness!) They went to bed early, I said goodbye, and went to for a long walk with my ipod.

My last night there, I spotted down on the street as I ate alone at a restaurant in Fira town. And that was my 3-day Santorini crush.

Now check out this Red Beach:

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Thanks Ana and Bao! Fira Fish

In Santorini, I had lunch at a place called Nikolas in the Fira town. It's a nice little place where the waiter comes up and asks you what you feel like eating instead of giving you a menu. I hadn't had fish in a while so with your funding, I treated myself to a plate of sea bass. It was pretty tasty. My favorite part though were these little round vegetables that tasted like zucchini. Maybe it was but it sure wasn't shaped like the zucchini I'm familiar with. I wasn't a big fan of the Mythos Greek beer though. Next time, a white wine maybe. is coming along nicely. I wish I had more time to contribute. I'll definitely have plenty of tips and reviews to share when I get back to the States. Loved the new videos from your South America trip, can't believe you ate so much beef! Have a look at the sunset from a Greek ferry:

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Thanks Willy! Athina Sandwiches

Willy man! You must be having a wild time with fatherhood and your cute new daughter. In Athens, I used to stop by this bakery on the way to the metro. I'd get a fresh squeezed orange juice (perfect on a hot Athens morning) and these grubbin' little turkey sandwiches on fresh bread. They reminded me of sandwiches mom used to make. You know how great it is when your parents make you food. Moms, they give you a bit of dressing, some fresh lettuce, tomato, and a nice portion of meat. Served up on a plate even. The best food has a little love in it. Someday your daughter's going to be eating a delicious meal and thinking of her parents. Maybe she'll be in a far off place like Greece or Korea. Crazy! Parenthood's a whole other journey man. Have fun changing diapers! I can't wait to meet Audrey in person.

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Thanks Rob! Athens, Greece

Hey Rob, thanks for the support back on my birthday. I hope you're working on your master plan. You've got all the elements there, I know it will happen. Can't wait to get back to LA and have some good nights out on the town with the fellas. So, let me tell you how your dough was spent.

Back in Athens, I had lunch at a restaurant near my hostel one day, after touring the Acropolis. I ordered a chicken plate stacked with that doner style chicken, fries, salad, pita, and tzatziki. I ordered a Lemonade flavored Fanta and fell in love. Not only with that lemon soda but with this cute brunette sitting with her two friends at the next table. I eavesdropped on them a bit as I sat, eating alone. I tried to figure out where in the States they were from. Then I called upon the gods and the power of Kaiser for the cajones to say hello.

They were talking about their trip to the islands and I was still trying to figure out where I was going to go. So I said, "Where ya headed?" I think they had assumed that I was Greek because they seemed stunned that I spoke English. They explained that they were on a tour taking them to Mykonos and a slew of other islands. I asked the cute one where she was from and she said Spain. I sarcastically said, "Yeah, I can hear it in your accent". As usual, my sarcasm did not translate and she thought I was serious but I clarified that I she didn't sound Spanish. Turns out she's from Florida and moved to Spain a year ago. Her friends were visiting from Florida and they were all in Greece together to take the island tour. Pretty uneventful conversation but at least I got a little practice breaking out of my shell and actually speaking to the girl instead of stealing glances at her over my meal. Progress man, baby steps.

And now, a view from the top of the Acropolis in Athens:

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New Day, New Delhi

Flew into New Delhi this morning, no problems- my luggage even made it to my surprise (I had to change planes in Munich... you know what happened last time). After I made it through customs, I noticed mosquitoes flying around my luggage. I thought, "Nice, the mosquitoes have actually come to the airport to greet me". Then on the way to the money exchange, I saw a cat... in the airport, just chillin'. Other than that, all of the cringing people did when I mentioned flying into Delhi didn't seem warranted.

I hopped a taxi to my friend Caroline's place in the Defence Colony (that's how it's spelled here). The drivers here are almost as crazy as the driver's in Cairo. Lots of honking and a complete disregard for lanes. I was completely wiped out when I got here so I've been napping all afternoon. I was going to try to catch up on my blogging and photo uploading but I can't seem to figure out how to get my computer online here yet.

Thanks for taking care of that package, mom!


Kayaking and Killing Time, Kerkyra

Spent most of the day yesterday on a 'Kayak Safari' exploring places like Aphrodite's Island, learning about Greek mythology, and sampling pine wine and moonshine. Not much energy left so I had dinner and crashed out early.

While I was in Italy, I joked with Anthonette about calling my mosquito bites, "mosquito kisses" to give them a better ring. The mosquitoes have been making out with me here in Corfu. The other night I was eaten alive... I kept waking up to buzzing in my ear and in the morning I had bites on my legs, shoulders, arms, face, ear, and fingers (ears and fingers are the most annoying and painful). It's worse than Cairo maybe. I'm going to need more Deet for Asia.

Today I took long walks through Corfu town, getting pretty lost but enjoying the old Venetian influenced architecture and Greek influenced girls.

I'm killing time now before I take a night bus back to Athens to hop a plane to Delhi, India. My European journey is coming to a close and now I will head into the next chapter: Asia!

I have so much writing to do so maybe I'll take some time to go blog crazy with my laptop in Delhi. You can't wait to see all of that text, I can tell.


On an Island

Sitting at the Pink Palace internet cafe which is super expensive. Bought a digital camera at the airport at a $100US markup but I had to do it. I didn't know when I'd find another opportunity.

From this morning's Moleskine scribblings:

I missed last night's dinner and partying. I got caught in one of my familiar "recovery comas". This is basically 12 hours or more of sleep after some harsh days of walking, trains, planes, and buses. It also involves a lot of strange dreams [in last night's dream- I was arrested for interrupting a major league baseball game which was being played on a little league field. One of my ex-girlfriends was imprisoned on an island - in Princess Leia-like threads- as I passed by on a felucca through a canal. Weird man] But I'm awake early, writing by the beach, waves crashing on the shore. Over breakfast I eavesdropped on other tables' stories of last night's hedonism. Bleeding heads from broken plates and dirty dancing in dorm rooms.

Traveling has exposed me to socio-economic differences. I've heard locals from Havana to Cairo tell me how difficult life is for them [it feels like they're trying to reel me down from my tourist's perspective in the clouds- for my own benefit]. But you can also see harsh differences in the lives of animals. Every area of ancient ruins I've visted- Pompeii, Roman, Greek, Egyptian- seems to be ruled by bony dogs, napping in the shade of temples or crumbling statues. At Athens airport, I read on the cover of a magazine that we're spending $41 billion a year on our pets. A staggering number! Immediately my mind thinks about how that money can be used to help troubled humans. Just as quickly, another part of my mind argues whether humans are worth saving. Are we living in a sustainable world? It's a giant planet but we in the 'western' world are leaving massive footprints, crushing everything beneath. How do you choose what to save, what to fight for? So many big questions on this Earth, so many little people who cannot begin to think about answering them (their big question could be, how will my children eat today?) I write and think about this stuff and feel like a bleeding heart who'll end up not doing anything more beyond thinking. Tomorrow, I'll put my headphones on and fantasize about driving my car...

[at this point a French-Canadian girl that I hung out with yesterday walked up and had a seat... a nice interruption]

We're off to the beach! :)


Dance Like Nobody's Watching

Back in Cairo... another hot day. I wandered the streets a bit on my way to the post office. Had some kushari for dinner and went back to do some reading at the hotel.

I started to feel a bit miserable. Three months of traveling. I miss my friends and family. I wonder what you're all up to. It trips me out to be lying on some bed in Africa, staring out the window wondering what's to become of my life. (I'm sure Anonymous has plenty of ideas but you can keep it to your damn self)

I fantasized about the 'perfect' life. I realized that I'd pretty much packed everything up before I left and upon my return, I'd still be 'traveling' essentially. There's no place of my own to return to. I'd love to come back to my own place. So that would require some sort of job. But then a full time job just gets in the way of my dreams. So the fantasy is to make just enough... Just enough to be on my own and to continue working on the dream. I'd like to have time to visit everyone who's helped me out these past few months. I'd like time to digest the experiences I'll come away with from the trip. America though, it's difficult not to conform. Will I return to the path of conformity or will I continue on the road less traveled? This freedom I have right now, how attached will I become to it?

At some point I'll want a partner. But I can't help but think that I won't accept anyone unless I'm on this path of conformity. I still haven't been able to shake that. Maybe I'm looking for the wrong type of woman. I've certainly run into many on my travels who aren't 'typical' in the late 20's, early 30's American sense.

I continued staring out the window and wondering whether I'd be able to pull the pieces of my master plan together. I looked to the journey ahead, the rough streets of India, the other sweaty beds I'd be lying in, in Southeast Asia, and the dire financial situation I'll be buried in once I return to Paradise.

I flipped through my ipod and put on the TMF '06 Video Mashup. This collection of pop hits from 2006 has become my new anthem on the second phase of the trip. In the beginning, I was lulled and intoxicated by Feist's albums but now, it's beat-filled dance music that reinvigorates. I got up in my hotel room and danced by myself in the dark. I danced like I knew how and I danced til sweat bathed my back and chest. I'm still alone. I'm still traveling. And I'm still livin' it.


Hatshetsup's Curse!

I've got some terrible news. I was visiting Deir el-Bahri on the West Bank of Luxor yesterday and my digital camera stopped working. It doesn't turn on anymore. It could have been the desert heat or it could have been this photo I took in front of the god of the underworld (or something creepy like that).

Either way, no photos or video! I'm shipping a new camera to my mom immediately. I have no idea how she's going to get it to me in Greece or India but hopefully FedEx, USPS, DHL, UPS, or a messenger pigeon can find me without a lot of hassle from customs. So enjoy the last photo I took with my Canon Elph SD400.

On the upside, I hung out with a cool Egyptian dude named Hamdi in Luxor. We chatted for three hours. It's very strange how I keep running into locals and striking up long life conversations over chicken meals. It's fantastic stuff. I walk away with a lot to think about and a new perspective on life. Hopefully I'll find time to share some things with you later but right now, I have to wash up. I've been wandering through tombs and crazy streets. I've just hopped off an eleven hour train ride (looking out the window at these different Egyptian towns is completely unreal... sheep herders, mosques, farms... a completely alien world straight out of the movies).

Okay, I really gotta go, they're trying to clean up around me as I type. I'll take the hint.


Get Me Out of Here

[I scribbled this out in my Moleskine notebook while on the train, forgive my grammar and randomness]

Wednesday, Aug. 1- Cairo, Egypt:

I was booked on a 10pm train to Luxor from Cairo. The hostel receptionist told me a taxi would take me to the train station. I killed time in the evening posting the YouTube video (45 minute upload, hope you liked it) and reading a Lonely Planet Egypt guide. Sometime around 9:30pm one of the guys that work at the hostel takes me downstairs. He stands in the street trying to flag a taxi down. They pass by one by one. Some stop, he speaks Arabic to them, they shake their head, and zoom away. This happened about five or six times before he called up stairs. Whatever they told him made us start walking down the street ("More taxis", he told me). We try to flag down a couple more cars. No luck. He's on the cell phone again. This time his eyes light up and he beckons me to follow him as he starts a slow sprint down the busy sidewalks. I ask him what's going on and he tells me, "Four minutes". We're running now. I'm smashing into people, men, women... I'm jumping over merchants' goods spread out on the sidewalk. People are shouting at us. It must have looked like I was chasing a thief. I'm carrying two bags and I'm exhausted. I slow down as my stomach starts to cramp up. He beckons to me frantically. I shout at him, "I'm carrying bags here!"

We get to the station. It's chaos. We bolt to a train, he asks different people questions. We bolt down stairs and through tunnels. I remind myself of the tomb descending and horseback riding I'd done earlier in the day. Rather, the pain in my thigh muscles do the reminding. Wrong platform. The kid jumps onto the train tracks, a meter drop. He beckons. I pause for a moment to see if he realizes that I'm still carrying luggage. He beckons again. I toss him my backpack and leap down. We run across grime and debris, I glance back and forth for moving trains. We toss the bags up onto the platform and use a pipe to boost ourselves up. He asks people in windows, hanging out of doors, and standing around the platform if they know where 926 to Luxor is. I notice how crowded and sweaty the train looks. I'm not sure if I even want to get on it if we found it. He runs off again. Jumps down to the tracks. I follow. At the other end there is no pipe to help us up. We struggle for a second, toss the bags up, and use our arms to pull us up. He runs around asking again and again. The train is gone.

We sit on some steps by the station while he phones the hostel manager. I am laughing in disbelief. His manager instructs him to exchange the ticket. So we head back through the tunnels to the ticket office. No one will help him. After an hour of climbing up and down stairs, back and forth from different offices, booths, and whatnot, I lose my patience. I was sweating head to toe, more than I ever had on the trip. (I powdered my junk but at this point, it didn't matter) My Geox Respiras definitely weren't respirating enough.

The officials all refuse to exchange the ticket. Aziz, the manager of the hostel, shows up and asks me to cough up 90 LE for a ticket to the next train. Angrily, I hand it over though I'd been fantasizing about heading straight to Corfu. It's close to midnight now and my train has just pulled up. The kid (who turned out to be 19) showed me to my air-conditioned car and I was on my way to Luxor.

Note: The train was actually too cold. I didn't bring any sort of jumper so I tucked my arms inside my shirt to sleep. A plain clothes security guy spent most of his time sitting in the seat in front of me with a sub-machine gun. So I wasn't too worried about my bags.


Great Pyramids?

Went out and checked out Saqqara, Dahshur, Memphis, and Giza. Had a fun driver named Hossein take me around. Met an Aussie named Tom who spit some history knowledge at me while we climbed up and through things (the Mastaba of Ti was pretty cool). Had a meal sponsored by Julie (Thanks! Video when I find a fast connection) at the Saqqara Nest restaurant. Climbed into a pyramid, wandered into a tomb, rode a horse for the second time in my life, and survived not only Egyptian traffic but the Egyptian meal as well (so far).

Part of the tour involved checking out a carpet school (where they tried to sell me some goods) and a papyrus shop (where they tried to sell me goods). I can't be buyin' nothin' folks, sorry. Though after learning a bit about papyrus history and stories behind the art, I was tempted. I suggested that they make smaller pieces.

The tipping thing is frustrating. Everyone wants a tip for something. At the step pyramid, the guides wanted some so I slyly pointed towards the Aussie who hadn't come out yet and they went after him. My driver got a kick out of that. At the carpet shop, the merchant wanted 10 LE after I offered 1 LE. He refused to take it. My money's no good unless it's more (granted, I think 1 LE is 20-cents... but if you're an Egyptian, that'll get you a bottle of water where I have to pay five times or more as a tourist) The horse guide also didn't like my tip. But you know what, I've got six more months to live and some plastic debt building up, I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I've learned how to say no and thank you in Arabic. That's all I need I think.

I've also started to tell people that I'm from Canada. I think I should switch it to Australia. Can't let them know there are poor people from California wandering the world.

The one mistake I made today was to take the horse around the pyramids instead of going in on foot. I think I overpaid even after 15 minutes of bargaining and everyone wearing very unhappy faces. What happens is that you take these horses or camels (I'll ride one of those tomorrow) around the hills of the ancient sites. True you get some nice photos from there but you don't actually go inside the grounds where you have to pay for entry. It was an interesting experience but I may have to return to get a closer look.

Toilets: I've suddenly encountered the toilets with a hose next to them for spraying your bottom off. Makes me worry about touching fixtures and handles around the place. Fortunately places catering to tourists have had TP. I've also had to deal with showers with no shower curtain. You get a small square to stand in and the water sprays all over the floor. On the Greek islands this got pretty messy and here in Egypt they often have a big squeegee in the bathroom for pushing the water towards the drain afterwards. Fun.

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Location: United States A 29 yr old filmmaker from California traveled through Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia/NZ over ten months from April 2007 to March 2008.

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