"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."

"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."- Sir Thomas More's Utopia

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Happy One Year Traveli-versary!

Exactly one year ago (I may be late by a day - time zones confuse the hell out of me), I literally left the office and never looked back.

It is incredible to think that I have been on the road for one year now. I racked my brain for a special post to commemorate this mile stone but I don't know. Nothing really came to mind. So, I will just update y'all on my thoughts, but that's what I do here all the time anyway, so y'all should be used to it by now. Unfortunately, this whole one year anniversary thing kind of just crept up on me and it sort of just dawned on me during a conversation I had the other night, so, uhh, how about I get back to you guys once I fully distill my thoughts.

In the meantime, here is a radiciously dope video I randomly found during one of my 3AM bouts with insomnia. It's SOOOO totally true and it hit a few (more like, buckets of) chords with me.

SRSLY guys, enjoy your body but ALWAYS WEAR SUNSCREEN.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Revisiting Turkey

About two years ago, a good buddy of mine and I got the awesome idea that it would be pretty damn rad to celebrate Turkey Day in Turkey, you know, the country with Istanbul as one of its cities. Yes, I know. We were also pretty stoked about having such an incredible idea and making it reality.

Anywho, needless to say, it was one of the best trips of my life. I kind of wish I had begun blogging about my travels a lot earlier in life. Oh well, shoulda, coulda, woulda. You can, however, check out some of the pics I took on that trip on my Flickr Photostream. In the meantime, here's another little photo-story of some good times. Enjoy!

While exploring this unforgivably harsh landscape, we see a tiny figure off in the distance.

Having no real direction in our wandering, we decide to climb toward the strange figure.

The distant figure turns out to be a stout, old Turkish man who speaks no English whatsoever dressed in a three-piece suit - in the middle of an arid desert riddled with caves. A full suit. I'm pretty sure the suit was made of wool.

The well-dressed old man proceeds to show us a ring of skeleton keys attached to a string attached to a belt loop and he beckons us to follow him. Odd as this encounter may seem, we follow him. The spritely old fellow shames us as our unaccustomed feet find much difficulty in keeping up with the nimble old man's pace across the sandy, volcanic cliff sides.

After following the jolly old fellow for an awkwardly long time, we come upon a dark hole hidden in a small corner of the sheer side of a cliff. We nervously peer into the cold blackness, half awaiting to be ambushed by desert bandits wearing sand in their hair.

As our eyes adjust, the most magnificent view materializes before our sun-ravaged eyes. An ancient basilica with vivid frescoes of antiquity suddenly jump from the bleakness of the cave. Needless to say, we stood agasp at the miraculous sight we have somehow come to behold.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wanderlust Wednesday [5]

For this edition of Wanderlust Wednesday, I am stoked to present duo travelers, childhood sweethearts, Erica and Shaun. They are living the dream - together! I know, unbearably sweet, right?  Be sure to check out their photos and buy some prints of their awesome photography!

Name - Shaun and Erica Kuschel (look that name up in German, it drives Shaun insane.)

Site - You can find us at http://www.overyonderlust.com!

Occupation - Well, right now we both do not officially have jobs (it is hard to convince your boss to have a year sabbatical in the video game industry) but before, I (Erica) was a wedding photographer and pedicabber and Shaun was a manager for Blizzard Entertainment.

Birthplace - I was born in Laredo, Texas (and brought up in El Paso for 13 years) and Shaun was born and raised around Mesa, Arizona. I would try to explain my ethnic background but it is too confusing with 1/16 of this, 1/32 of this, 1/3 of blah.

Current Location - Our hearts belong to our hometown of Austin, Texas. We have yet to find a place that suits our fancy like home.

Trips Made - Well, our list is quite "short" for now. Ask us again in a year and it will have doubled in size. We have been to Barbados (honeymoon), Japan, United Kingdom, Spain, Mexico, Cuba, Belize and Guatemala.

Trips on the List - After our South American tour we are hoping to head to Southeast Asia!

Featured trip - I think one of my favorite memories was drinking with salarymen in Osaka, Japan. We were lead into this hole in the wall bar by this awesome guy wearing black rimmed, square glasses, a golfer hat, and a Hilary Clinton shirt - where people were watching bad movies like Biker Boyz. The bartender brought out a bottle of Cuervo and we played a card game. Lowest card had to take a shot of tequila. I would just like to notify you that my Texas drinking ability does NOT match that of the salarymen who drink every night in Japan. I had to be carried home 8 shots of tequila later. Regardless, I still reminisce about the people that we drank with that night. Good times.

Teach, learn, share - We're lucky that Shaun used to be a mechanic so when we come across people who are in need of mechanic help, Shaun is always willing to help. I take pretty pictures and unless someone wants to know how to work a camera, yeah, I'm not much help. We both are always wanting to learn Spanish so I would love to keep practicing with people!

Worst Hostel - Playa del Carmen: We arrived when it was hot and raining outside. Our gear was wet and our clothes were soaked through. Even though it was supposed to be low season, it seemed as though this hostel was booked full and just enough beds left for Shaun and I - except in different rooms... on different floors. When I was led to my bed I noticed that I had the top bunk and something integral was missing. What was it? Oh yeah - the MATTRESS. I was already unimpressed as this room had no windows and probably the most disgusting bathroom I had seen to date. I think you could get herpes just looking at it. We were told a mattress would be placed on it later and to go out and have a good time - which we did and got back to the hostel at 2am. Slightly drunk I stumble into the hostel room and notice I am still mattress-less. Shaun and I ended up sharing his very small twin size top bunk with no protective railings all night.

Needless to say we left very early that next morning.

Do you have any tattoos? - Shaun and I have quite a few. I have my "ode to Texas" chestpiece complete with yellow roses, a horseshoe, and guns. My right arm has a half sleeve of Oogie Boogie from Nightmare Before Christmas and on my wrist, a matching sugar skull (Dia de los Muertos) that Shaun has on his left wrist. Shaun on the other hand has his last name on his back and an "ode to hot rod Chevys" chestpiece.

We would like to get work done on the road but I'm not sure if we will. I used to work in a tattoo shop for 3 years so I'm super picky about who gets to work on me.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Memory Lane Monday

Okay, something new. While chatting with my awesomest friend in the whole wide world, Ireezie, we came up with the idea of sharing things that we have in common, something that brings us all together, no matter how different and far apart we are. It's a way for me to rationalize my current lifestyle and not feel so different from "normal." What did we come up with? Good ol' nostalgia. Nothing hugs warmer than a Snuggie than digging through memories.

So here goes. This week, what brings us all together is The Oregon Trail!!! Yeah. I know. Awesome. Now, here's why The Oregon Trail is this magical and invisible glue that binds us together even though we all range from students to cubicle workers to traveling bums to business owners, because The Oregon Trail will always hold the following universal truths:

  • We've all had to move before. Whether it's for a living situation upgrade, downgrade, or in the name of Manifest Destiny. 
  • Whenever stuck in a real bind, all you need is a rifle and a few bullets.
  • Every normal human being with a heart would break out into a cold sweat when faced with the dilemma of fording a river, especially with a wagon heavy with bison meat.
  • No one ever wants to come across the words, "You have died of dysentery."

I think this blog blurb has some potential. Seriously, Leaders of World Superpowers need to think more along these lines and maybe they will stop obsessing over bolstering their navy and measuring each others' nuclear armaments. Because yeah, any fool can kill 5,467 lbs of meat, but it takes a wise man to take a step back and realize, hey, we can only carry 15 lbs of meat.

So, everyone say thank you to Ireezie and add her into one of your circles on Google+ because it confuses the hell out of her. We can all have a good chortle about it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What's in the bag?

Almost a year on the road. Camping in the great American Wilderness. Torrential downpours in Singapore. Eating only God knows what in Macau.  Mosquito swarms in Indonesia. Cave-diving in the Philippines. Poutine in Canada.

And that was just a partial list of the crazy shit I've been subjecting my soft and easily bruised body to. So, how am I still alive and not curled up in a ball somewhere in a rainforest, trying to ward off leptospirosis with vinegar and cranberry juice? I am not entirely sure, to be perfectly honest.

I can tell you, however, of the awesome gadgets and knick-knacks I've been using that make life as a poor nomad totally doable on this episode of WHAT'S IN THE BAG? **in best Alex Trebek impersonation **

1. Timbuk2 Messenger Bag - Seems natural to start with the actual bag in this game of What's in the Bag? Right? Timbuk2 is a great company that makes uber durable bags out of waterproof material. The reason I prefer this to the regular backpacker bag is because I am not a hardcore backpacker so I don't need all that bag for my portable stove and machete, or whatever it is you crazy adventurists pack. Also, I do not like sticking out as an obvious traveler. Call me paranoid, but I'd rather not be an easy target for tourist scams, pickpockets, kidnappings, or torture-and-murder-for-fun-a-la-Hostel-the-movie. Sorry, but I'm just not into that stuff. Also, Timbuk2 is a San Francisco based company, so you know that not only will your bag last forever, it's also full of happy feelings and good vibes.

2. Katadyn Water Filtration bottle - I have had explosive diarrhea a handful of times during this newly acquired traveler lifestyle. Usually because I was retarded and drank local, unfiltered water  in the form of ice (which brings me to a good travel advisory, even if you drink only bottled water when traveling, a lot of the time ice isn't filtered so don't go pouring your bottled water into a glass full of dirty ice - kind of defeats the purpose). Without this bottle, I'd probably have huge tapeworms in my belly, or something equally, if not more, disgusting and terrifying. Hell, people in Newark, NJ should probably invest in these as well.

3. Headlamp with Lantern Attachment - I cannot express how awesome this thing is. It comes in handy whenever there's no light, obviously. This whole electricity going out without warning thing (AKA, blackouts) actually happens pretty often in the developing world. It's annoying when all the lights suddenly go out. Not to mention, a little creepy as you start to hear all the noises of the night slowly getting louder. Screw candles because who wants to light a fire in the middle of a jungle? It's already fucking hot and sticky as the devil's sphincter, no need to add to the misery. So, pull out your trusty headlamp! The reason I love this particular Mammut headlamp is it comes with a nifty lantern attachment. The attachment turns the directional lighting of the headlamp into a softer dispersed lighting, just like a lantern. How neat is that?? Definitely great when you're in a dark house and not a mine shaft. Also, great for reading at night. 

4. Teva Sandals - These things are literally indestructible. I've waded through bum-high flood waters,  hiked on stony caveman-esque trails, and even walked through Chicago's South Side in these puppies and not only am I still alive, my feet feel amazing! They're like walking on clouds and they haven't deteriorated one bit. Okay, they have a little, but only because someone's dog got a hold of one of them and made violent, animalistic love to it. I wanted to stop him but I was kind of entranced by the whole event. Also, I didn't want to catch its rabies.

5. The North Face Trail Running Shoes - These shoes are great. Durable and lightweight. My Teva sandals weigh more than these shoes, which kind of boggles my mind. They are made mostly of this mesh material that let your feet breathe and water can get in and out pretty easily. I have run 10K on paved roads and I've gone spelunking in these shoes. Comfortable and very versatile. When I'm feeling fancy, I wear them with argyle socks. 

6. Electric Shaver - Just because you're a nomad doesn't mean you have to look like a stinky hermit. Personal hygiene is very important. There is merit in shaving every now and then so you don't look like a crazy person. I don't use razors because they are too abrasive and cause rashes on my sensitive and supple skin. I use this electric shaver because it has its own cleaning system. The cleaning cartridges last a long time. I haven't had to change the cartridge in months. But then again, that might just be because I'm Asian and not Irish. Yeah, that's right, some stereotypes are true.

7. Acer Netbook in sexy, sexy Sapphire Blue - This is how I stay sane. This is my connection to civilization. It's tiny and lightweight but it has WiFi and a camera and all the basic programs I need. I can keep in touch with loved ones via video chat, I can make a little money writing freelance, and what's most importantly of all, I can blog. Oh yeah, I just figured out how to install Angry Birds onto my netbook. Pretty stoked about that.

8. Nikon D90 DSLR Camera - My camera kit is by far the biggest, most important thing in my bag. All the clothes I pack? Yeah, they're just there to cushion my badass buddy, my recording device and best friend. I've abused this little sucker like a trailer park baby mama and yet it still gives me amazing shots. In all my romping around, it's still holding up and refuses to leave my side. 

9. On the Road by Jack Kerouac - This, in my humble opinion, is a must read for anyone in search of that something else which is hard to name, for anyone wanting to fill themselves to the brim with possibilities and get drunk on pure exhilaration. I must admit that this is a half-lie because before leaving the great US of A,  I gave my copy of On the Road to one of my most beloved peeps in the world. But I do have a copy of the Dharma Bums in my bag. Not as good as On the Road, though, so I am pretending it's still in my bag. Just play along.

10. Notebooks - No, not NETbooks. NOTEbooks. Yeah, you know, as in writing with an actual pen across real paper. Novel idea, I know, but I'm somewhat of a writer (pun intended). I love small Moleskines because I am an artsy fartsy hipster who puts notebooks in his back pocket. I particularly like brightly colored ones like the one pictured here because they are attention grabbers. They stand out and scream, YES, I HAVE THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS AND I LIKE TO WRITE THEM DOWN! ALSO, I MIGHT DOODLE EVERY NOW AND THEN!

11. Aviators - Nothing says swagger like a nice pair of aviators. Also, on a more practical note, prolonged exposure to UV rays can kill your eyes. Whenever looking at eye wear, make sure they provide 100% UV protection and that they are polarized so that they reduce glare. Glare is lame. These aviators are all of the above. And I swear, these Ray Bans are indestructible. I have stepped on them, slept in them, dropped them into places I'd rather not name, and still they live. I've had my pair for three years now and all they have to show from my abuse is a few scratches.

12. A Lighter - Now, I don't know about you but I am no Boy Scout. I never had to do any nature stuff in exchange for rad pins. Consequently, I never learned how to make fire, which it turns out is pretty damn difficult. Traveling, I always have the need for fire for some reason or another. Since coming face to face with my total and crippling ineptitude at starting a fire from scratch in Yellowstone, of all places, I have saved myself a lot of grief and invested in lighters. I normally use those really cheap lighters you pick up at the checkout counters right next to the gum and tabloid magazines, but for display purposes, here's a fancy Zippo lighter with a pretty sweet zipper design on it. I know, right? How clever!

Well, that about does it for the contents of my bag. A good, strong, dirty dozen. I mean, obviously, I have other things like my passport, a toothbrush, clean underwear, etc. But they don't really count as "essentials for a traveler." I can do without underwear, but I will not live without my camera. 

And no, this is not just shameless product endorsement because I've become a sellout. I really do use all of this stuff... It just so happens that you can get them all on Amazon.com. And if you do order said items via the links I've provided, I get paid a commission at no cost to you. How convenient is that? Next thing you know, you'll be ordering all of this stuff and joining me on my crazy adventure. See you soon? And oh, if you do come, please bring tacos. I especially enjoy buche and lengua. Gracias!

Besos y abrazos,

Friday, July 15, 2011

Semana Santa en las Islas Filipinas

Yes, I do know that it's July and that Holy Week was way back in April. I have no excuses for the tardiness.

Also, it must said that I might post things about places and events but this is not journalism by any stretch of the imagination. This is just me, a guy who takes a lot of pictures and has a lot of accompanying opinions. If you want to know more about Semana Santa in the Philippines, here's a Wiki article on it. I didn't actually read the entire article because its pictures-to-words ratio really leaves a lot to be desired.

Caveats aside, everything included in this is true to the best of my knowledge.

Every year, during Holy Week, the Philippines goes crazy. Not Girls Gone Wild crazy, because that would be sinfully blasphemous, but clinically crazy. Insane, if you would. Regular people walk the streets, whipping themselves into bloody pulps, only to literally bathe in gin once night falls to disinfect the self-inflicted wounds. Of course, some of that gin, if not most, also makes it into the bellies of the penitents.

Once Semana Santa (Holy Week) starts with Lunes Santo (Holy Monday), Filipinos are all abuzz with Catholic rituals. You can see penitents walking the streets, whipping themselves, dragging huge crosses, lying face down in front of churches, kissing the dusty earth while being whipped by the crowd. These practices are clear vestiges left by Spanish rule in the Philippines. We got rid of the whole colonialism thing, but we kept the die hard Catholicism.

If you ever make it to the islands during Semana Santa, try to keep your distance from the penitents unless you want blood splattering all over you. I'm pretty sure you can get STDs that way. Or at the very least, Mono, which is totally lame.

The whole bloodily gruesome week takes a pause on Thursday, because that's when Jesus was praying under some olive tree, or having his last supper, or something. Then it's Biyernes Santo (Good Friday). The fateful day of the crucifixion. On this day, there's a huge reenactment of the Passion in San Fernando, Pampanga (among other places). In a little, unassuming neighborhood tucked into the interiors of the Philippine city is a clearing made specifically for this day.

It's hot. It's hot as hell. There are people everywhere, which makes it more hot. The trees have been cleared away, making it even hotter.

In the center of the clearing is a raised plot of land with three crosses standing and casting eerie shadows Ben Hur style. There are vendors everywhere selling cold bottles of water from makeshift coolers of styrofoam and duct tape. Media crews from all over the world are everywhere, interviewing on-lookers, trying to find the most politically correct way to ask why Filipinos do this crazy shit. Why whip and bleed? Why nail yourselves to the cross? Why all this crazy?

The usual response? Panata. The Tagalog word roughly translates to vow or faith. Carabou dung and endangered tarsier piss. Tell the camera crews the truth. You get paid. I hate to dispel the miracles of religion, or whatever, but let me lay down some truth. I met a guy who used to participate in the Holy Week "festivities," and he gave me the low down. If you need money, you "volunteer" and if you get "chosen," you agree to a "contract" where you whip yourselves for a few years in exchange for a small stipend for your "faith."

P.S. - they cut themselves with razorblades before they start whipping so that more blood comes out. Some people use cow blood diluted in water to make it look more gory. I'm sure the whole self-flagellation thing hurts anyway, but the blood is mostly theatrics. My new buddy showed me the scars on his back, which he has since covered up in some pretty dope tattoos.

Anywho, before I go further down that tangent, back to my story.

Everyone waits. All morning long, into the afternoon. People take turns reading the Passion in a sing-song voice blasting through speakerphones that mangle syllables. It's hot, the sun burns, you can't understand anything being said. A few of the penitents whipping themselves faint in the ungodly heat(I mean seriously, who wouldn't?) and are carried off in stretchers. Then, 3:00PM arrives. Allegedly, about the time that Jesus is pronounced dead on the cross.

Men arrive, dressed in gaudy red capes and plastic armor, escorting a long line of Jesuses and thieves ready to be crucified. There's even a mourning Mary Magdalene. Three by three the Jesuses and thieves are tied to the crosses, nailed to the wood, and hoisted. There, they are on display to the gasping audience as they grimace in the unbearable heat, and probably the pain of being nailed to splintery wood. Probably.

When all the Jesuses are done redeeming mankind, about 15 or so, we all go home. Sweaty and dusty, but all a little less sinful. At least, that's the idea. Sabado de Gloria (Holy Saturday) is quiet, because Jesus is dead, and we all somberly reflect. Most people sit and reflect with a few bottles of brandy. Then Easter Sunday comes along, Christ rises, and we all rejoice. Again, usually with a few bottles of brandy.

In the States we just dye eggs and throw parties Martha Stewert style. Oh yeah, there are also those weird things called Peeps. Boy, do we have it easy.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I ate some stuff in Macau.

How beautifully frightening is that strange cornucopia of colors, shapes, and textures? What made this more fun was the fact that the vendor did not speak a lick of English. That's what I get for wandering into Macau's alleyways. At least it was just a few bouts with language barriers and not something worse like oh, say, rape.

It was totes crazy trying to get some food, but I was starving so I tried my damndest. Luckily, I remembered my Kanji studies from way back in high school and although Japanese sounds very different from Cantonese, the characters are the same. So I recognized the characters next to the numbers 15 and 25 to mean "small" and "big," respectively. Alright, so 15 Pataca for a small order and 25 Pataca for a big order. I pointed at the number 15 and said, "CHIISAI." Blank look from vendor. Ok, so Japanese word for small is not the same in Cantonese. Ok, how about, "PEQUENO?" Is that Spanish or Portuguese? Both? Blank look again. Fuck. I am going to die of starvation.

Finally, I pulled out 15 HK Dollars (Hong Kong and Macau currency are pretty much equal in value and most of Macau accepts HKDs) and made a gesture to my mouth. The vendor laughed and started saying something to me, very loudly. I think she was asking me what I wanted to eat, so I made a general gesture at her entire stock as if to dare her, give me your worst.

And boy did she deliver. She handed me a stick of colorful (squid?) balls, a stick of what I think was tripe (?), a stick of tentacles, and a stick of some sort of green leafy thing. All four sticks were quickly blanched in boiling water then drenched in a spicy, peanuty sauce. It was a feast, albeit unorthodox, all for under $2USD, but I think the vendor gave me some free food because she was so amused by my pantomiming skills.

This was a much easier meal to obtain since it was in a restaurant off of one of the main tourist thoroughfares in Macau. Although the waitress couldn't really speak English, there was at least a menu that had pictures with a smattering of English words so I managed a little better. This is some kind of a braised beef in a curry noodle soup, all washed down with a very Macanese drink that is half coffee, half tea with a little milk and sugar.

USEFUL TRAVEL TIP: In Macau and Hong Kong, McDonald's does this great thing called Happy Hour. Usually it's lunch time (12PM-3PM), but some branches do it all day. During their Happy Hour, you can get an entire Big Mac meal for 25 Patacas (approx. $3USD). I know, why go all the way to Macau just to eat at a McDonald's? Uhhm, some people are allergic to tentacles...?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Batik from Bali, anybody?

While traipsing around Indonesia, daring each other to drink kopi luak (coffee made from fermented beans literally shat out by cats), I noticed a bunch of guys in dresses. Yep, EXTREMELY good times.

The sarong, also affectionately known as the Asian Kilt, is still very much in use in Indonesia. And I must say, it is great. Do you know how hot it is in that jungle? Goddamn, now I know why girls love wearing skirts. It's breezy! And yes, real men go commando under their sarongs.

Batik is this amazing thing that is made in South East Asia. It is a specific type of cloth that is created in a specific way (more on the process in a bit). In Indonesia, you can find the decorative cloth being used in a variety of ways, from collared shirts to handkerchiefs to place mats to man-dresses.

Here are a two examples of popular batik sarong styles as worn by men:

Fashion forward dude chillin' in a great shirt that brings out the highlights and patterns on his batik sarong. He's also accessorized with a cute little salmon sash. Kind of wish he'd gone with a complimentary color for the sash to better accent his waist, but hey, to each his own.

Look numero dos is another popular way men show off their beautiful batik. The look is achieved by layering a simple sarong with a very tamed trim above a more intricately designed batik pattern to subdue what could easily become tacky. The fancy front knot (a little difficult to see in this shot) also brings the sarong just high enough to smartly display his sturdy mankles. The dapper gentleman definitely understands that in fashion, sometimes less is more.

While in Indonesia, I was fortunate enough to visit a batik studio and got to see first hand how these precious pieces of jungle couture are made. It's a fascinatingly laborious process.

Now, LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow style: Listen closely, friends, as I share with you the lessons I've learned!

Tools of the trade. On the upper right-hand corner are blocks of solid wax which are melted in the bowl-wax-melter-thing (red contraption to the left of the wax). Beneath the wax is an array of wooden handles with metal spouts which are filled with the melted wax before it's applied to the fabric. They also use stamps (square carved with the rooster), to apply intricate patterns to the fabric much faster.

Before the fabric can become batik, the designer decides which patterns will go on her carte blanche. Some patterns are predetermined by templates, but some batik artists, like this fine woman, just goes at it freehand. She draws from centuries-old patterns with each having its own meaning. For example, certain patterns can show where you're from, your social status, your thoughts of the weather, etc.

To get the show started, the batik artist takes one of the wooden handles and fills the cup on the tip with melted wax. The wax then drips down as she draws on complicated patterns handed down from generations upon generations of cultural history. The woman on the left was way ahead of the other woman and was all like, jeez girlfriend, hurry yo' ass up so we's can get paid coz I needs mah skrill to buy milk coz my baby daddy been left for Brunei like months ago and the lazy bastard sill ain't sent us no child support! And the other woman was all like, psshh chica, don't be rushin' me, you gotta chill coz we in paradise tho mija.

After the wax dries, the batik artist dips the entire piece of cloth in a single color of dye. The wax prevents the dye from coloring the cloth so you get a cool looking negative. Once the dye dries, the batik artist goes over the cloth again with wax and dips it again in dye to get another layer of color. This woman is only two colors in, but look at how awesome it looks already. I love how the jungle sun hits the opaque wax and dyed cloth. It's kind of poetic, or something.

The waxing and dying process is repeated over and over again until the design has been fully colored in and the cloth is laid out to dry one last time before the entire cloth is dipped in a solution that melts the wax off, revealing the product of hours upon hours of tedious work.

After countless hours of drawing and dripping and waxing and dying and drying and re-melting and such, the final product is something like this. A symphony of colors and patterns. Then, they charge you up to thousands of dollars (US) for pieces of cloth you can't wear outside of Indonesia and Malaysia without looking like a complete hippie. Yay, culture!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy birthday, America. Long time no see.

Fell off the blogger wagon again. Fuck. It really is extremely difficult to post regularly. I am trying my damndest, but frankly, I am too busy doing things that I'd rather not share. You know, like having explosive diarrhea and sinking into hot, steamy love affairs with yoga instructors. Not at the same time, of course. No worries though, I will eventually put every disgusting and sordid detail into a memoir. Correctamundo amigos, I will charge you for the good stuff. Mama ain't raise no fool.

In the meantime, here are some fairly mediocre pics of Macau:

Macau is this magical place that speaks three completely different languages.

It's so easy to forget that you're in Asia. Except when you look around and see all the Asians.

Seriously. How trippy is this? This is ASIA! NOT Europe. I'm still shaking my head as I type out this caption.

Then I walk into a supa-Asian scene like this and I breathe a little easier.

Since this is a travel blog, I feel obligated to say something useful so this last pic is of the zodiac ceiling in MGM Grand Macau. Macau is something like the Las Vegas of Asia. Also, cool fact. All of the casinos have free shuttles so you can get around town by pretending to be staying at one of the gajillion casinos of this tiny island nation.

P.S. - Happy Fourth of July!