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Hope For the Guest

If you don’t break your ropes while you’re alive, do you think ghosts will do it after?

Month

September 2015

The Jungle

_DSC0311Sitting in the middle in the backseat of a truck isn’t comfortable on a normal drive but when hurtling along on a winding jungle road as our guide tells about how two days ago a group of elephants tried to break into the truck it makes for an interesting introduction to the jungle.

Five minutes after we arrived at the dorms at the Endau Rompin national park headquarters Kenny our local guide drove up and threw a few inner tubes on the ground. I hadn’t read the itinerary so it was a bit of a surprise that was to be the first activity of the three days in the jungle. The water was warm and before long Kenny was pointing out monkeys as we drifted along the river. Kenny had been a jungle guide for years, he went into the jungle for one of the seasons of the TV show Survivor. Kenny seemed to have a lot going on for him, he had his own brand of perfume that he made from a local tree, he had a wife in the village over, two kids, a dog named “come here” and a monkey named Abu.

By the time lunch came around it felt like a full day, by the time two more days had past we had seen leeches walking up our legs, elephants, a jungle cat the size of a big house cat, mouse deer, a cobra, and innumerable small critters. I kind of expected the jungle to be full of crazy animals and plants but even so I was blown away by the diversity.

After three days in the jungle my awareness felt so clear, It was like having a wider field of vision. In the jungle I had constantly searched with all my senses for snakes by my feet, leeches crawling up my shoes, monkeys overhead, tapirs or leopards around me. I didn’t have the same pre-existing patterns to help it be easier to know what to pay attention to, so I tried to be aware of everything at once. It made the previously chaotic town seem calm after having the jungle surrounding me. I can’t wait for my next foray into the jungle.

Mersing

_DSC0013Mersing is a town full of cats, there are cats on every street, in every alley, and every restaurant. Nearly all the cats have some kind of deformity to their tail, some have full tails with a lump on the end and some have just a stub like a Bobcat. I’m not sure how many cats have homes but a few at least are fed and taken care of.
Besides the cats Mersing seems to be a fishing town and a gateway town to the islands to the east and the national park to the north. Despite not seeming like a destination town for travelers there are some great, cheap places to eat. My favorite so far is a bakery that serves meals of noodles and chicken, and for dessert a plethora of cakes, tarts or ice floss which is sort of like ice cream but lighter.

In the future I’ll try to keep writing little notes about towns and places I’m in to give a little color to my trip.

Setting Up (part 2)

The idea to travel through Southeast Asia was a faint idea but in a couple days it exploded into a plan with a start date. I wanted to leave around my 22nd birthday, I decided that three months before my departure date was set. I had three months to get everything in order for my trip.

I got a job in a week, I started working 100+ hours a week. Before it would have be awful but with this new goal it was easy to find the motivation. Anytime I wasn’t working I was getting my gear, budgeting or trying to get all the vaccines taken care of. I have trouble researching about places and things to do or planning exact routes so I focused on the basics of how to enter each country, the currency and the plants and animals because that is just fun for me.

I started selling everything I could sell, I sold my car my laptop, my bike, and anything that had value that I wouldn’t need.
I got my finances in order, I wanted to have money to come back to that was separate from the money I would travel on, I wanted a small portion of that saved money to be in my brokerage account while I was traveling, I hadn’t set any plans that I couldn’t cancel free of charge so those were easy to stop payments to and mostly I worked as much as I could to reach my goal before I left.

By a week before departure I had nearly everything ready to go. I had made it easy to get up and go by not having many payments to worry about and by saving a portion of my income the year before. When I added the three months of intensive work to that I made my goal no problem.

I left with three months of funds to come back to, and enough to travel for 8 months with a 1k emergency fund. I didn’t went to set myself up for failure so I made sure each estimate and budget I made was very conservative. I didn’t want to be living on the edge of a knife. I heard it was possible to live on around 15-25 a day so I budgeted around 35 per day.
I know the mistakes of shortsightedness my generation are prone to and I don’t want to subscribe to living my life one away from collapse.

It was hard work but hard work isn’t very hard when its for a good reason.

Setting up (part 1)

My first reason to travel to Southeast Asia was hearing that it was cheap.
To me that not only means it is less expensive but it means that it is wild and changing fast. I want to see the things that will be gone in a few years. There are parts of this world that simply won’t exist in five years. in 5 years or in 10 there might not be half as many small villages or native languages spoken in the developing world. I want to see some of that before its gone.
I also think that this kind of travel will be more fun for me while I’m young, I’ll leave Europe for the time when luxury is a priority over cheapness. So Southeast Asia sounded like the place for me.

My first preparations started with learning about money and how to be strong financially, I didn’t know it would prepare me for traveling at first I just knew that I hated to feel poor and I wanted to live my life as well as I could. Money would be important, not because it caused happiness but because it made the basics easy so the hard stuff could be focused on. I started with learning about money mindsets, and how to live decently without spending a lot of money. I learned to dislike payment plans, and enjoy finding cheaper ways to live. At first I sacrificed a lot of my time and energy, and sometimes happiness in order to save my money but after awhile I learned that there are two ways to have more money 1- save more and 2- make more. I also learned that money was less important than I originally thought. So now I generally think money follows after becoming an effective person so I spend my money as effectively as I can and I work knowing every hour I spend is irrevocably lost to my history. I will never get back the thousands of hours I’ve spent in pursuit of my financial goals, not a bad thing but something that is true. So when I work I have a damn good reason.

I learned a lot about investing, Grocery outlet, Whole foods, selling things, what is expensive for no good reason and what is worth spending a lot of money on. I learned that there is essentially unlimited amounts of money in the world but only a finite amount of time in my lifespan.
I spent six months learning about business and money. I learned the basics of a couple internet coding languages, and how to draw traffic and up your websites rank in google.
But I have a shortcoming when it comes to focus, I force myself to continue past the point where my happiness is negatively effected. I’m somewhat used to being uncomfortable so I don’t fully notice my discomfort until I am very low emotionally. I got to that place after months of working very hard on business, I got to the point where I couldn’t put much into my projects so I decided it would be better to focus on dealing with my depression. I worked on a better daily habit, I learned that exercise, sunlight, human connection, Omega 3 fatty acids and not too much time to ruminate were suppose to help. I have always struggled to stay happy in one place, I need some kind of immediate reason to get up and go, I used to think I wasn’t motivated but now I think my motivation is acclimated to the dramatic and not the regular. It makes me feel happier in intensity and restless, sometimes moody in the ordinary.

A new dream started to form in my mind, I wanted to travel. I had been working a long time to save up for my next step. I didn’t know what it would be but over those months It started to seem crazy to wait to travel, waiting was ignoring the fact that time is incredibly valuable, maybe the most valuable thing.

The Cost of a Dream

_DSC0006I’ve been tracking my spending over the first week of travel. I enjoy this kind of math and I wish there was more information about exact costs when I do research for traveling. I find it ridiculous when travel info websites don’t talk about cost, even a ball park estimate. I know there are many reasons the prices change but for most people the cost is a concern, a defining concern. Its a reason not to travel, the idea that travel is very expensive has probably stopped many amazing trips before they even got to the planning stages.
I would thoroughly enjoy destroying any reason not to travel.

In the first week I’ve spent 577 Ringgit (133USD). 81RM (19USD) per day all inclusive.
I’ve been in Kuala Lumpur, Palau Ketam, Teluk Kemang and Melaka.
2RM (.50USD) for an hour bus ride. 4RM for a couple hours.
7.50RM (2USD) for an hour and a half train ride.
5RM (1USD) for street food.
10-15RM (2.50-3.50USD) for a nicer restaurant.
20RM (4.50USD) for a very cheap single bed room.
40-70RM (9-16USD) for a double with A/C and wifi.
23RM for the Zoo.
15RM for a boat tour.
15RM for a movie at a theater.
2RM for a 500ml water bottle.
4RM for 1.5L water bottle.

19 US dollars is what a lot of people make an hour. But even if you make minimum wage in the US you could save an hour of your pay per day and still travel for a week every two weeks once you have enough for your plane ticket. Which I suspect is a big stopper for a lot of people.

I paid 527USD for my plane ticket from Seattle to Kaula Lumpur. So in total travel cost I’ve spent 660 for a week of travel, or 94USD per day. Not as good as 19USD and I haven’t even taken into account the gear I bought to make my trip a little easier.

I think its about setting yourself up to do the things you want to do.
I will talk about how I set myself up and I can really only give advice for that way of being. I have put a lot of effort into setting myself up to succeed, not just in the short term but in years and decades. I’m not going to say I’m ready to let my setup ride without continued work but I think I’m proud that I’m even thinking of my long term.

I will talk about setting myself up for this trip in a future post.

Letting Go and Stepping Forward

_DSC0050First thing this morning Kaari and I held a little ceremony to allow us to move into this trip with more clarity. We wrote down what we want to let go of this trip and what we want to carry with us. I’ve done this sort of thing before at the Wilderness school I went to from the age of 9 until I was 17. I always found that it helped me to feel more fully present with my time on the trip.

We picked one item from our belongings to leave behind symbolically and we ate a bit of zucchini bread that Kaari had brought as a snack for the flight. We used the bread as a symbol of things we want to carry with us as it would become a part of us. It was a simple way for me to contemplate why I’m here and how I want to move forward. I’ve often had the experience that I get out of something what I put into it, if I go into a trip without an idea of what I’m trying to do it tends to be less impactful than the trips  I go into wanting something out of it.

I let go of being so cynical, as I’ve grown up many things have turned my expectations lower and lower until expecting bad things prevents some good things from being a part of my life.

I am taking with me a desire to be more compassionate of the people around me. I care a lot but its still easy for me to be negative about people. I want to use this trip as an opportunity to open myself up to connecting with the world and the people around me. I think its a piece of life that I would really benefit from.

I want a lot from this trip and I’m going to mine it for every scrap of growth I can.

Taiwan, Tai When?

_DSC0022There is something hard for me to understand about the limbo state of being in planes and airports. Somehow I took a plane ride at 2am that lasted 12 and a half hours and I arrived at 5am… Oh and I lost a day in the process so its now the 3rd.

I haven’t been able to access how I’m feeling yet. It comes in little waves but nothing very strong yet. So far it doesn’t feel like I am really anywhere. I think I will feel differently when I step out of the airport in Kuala Lumpur.

A couple odd things here at the Taipei airport: they have hello kitty breastfeeding rooms, and every airport employee wears a somewhat stylized uniform that looks something like Anime.

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