Indian’s Don’t Nod

India, Thoughts & Reflections 5 Comments »

Let me explain this little cultural difference that took a few days to catch on to. Indian’s don’t nod. They shake their head to say yes. Try that out for a day. It’s a lot more awkward than it sounds.

Ok, it’s not a full on no-shake; they throw a little cock in the head. It’s kind of like a shrug of the shoulder mixed with a no-shake, but the shoulder doesn’t rise up. If they going for a full on yes-nod, as opposed to just your typical OK sure-nod, then they really get the head moving. You know those little animals or sports figures that cool people put in the back window of their car, with the head that that wobbles around when they hit the brakes. I think maybe they call them weebles? Well, it’s like that. Just like that.

At first I kept thinking everyone was saying “maybe, I guess”, “no not really”, or “I don’t know”. I thought maybe my charades technique was fading. I’d ask people a question and they’d wobble their head, so I’d ask them again. I’d rephrase and they’d wobble. Rephrase. Wobble. Rephrase. Wobble.

Now that I’ve got the wobble down, communicating has gotten a little easier.

Incessant Honking

Audio & Video, Cambodia 1 Comment »

Everyone in Southeast Asia beeps their horn often. Since lines in the road are merely suggestions, it’s used as a means to warn people you’re coming. One driver we had in Cambodia was a little overboard. This mp3 is a sample from a stretch of open road. He’d honk as we passed traffic in either direction, people on bikes, people walking, people working in the fields, dogs, birds, side streets, holes in the ground, change in pavement and sometimes it seemed only because it’d been quiet for too long. After you listen to this clip, imagine multiplying its length times 600. That’s how many times you’d have to listen to experience the full five hours.

Listen Now! | 29 sec, 464KB


India 2 Comments »

Hotel MariaAfter being in Bangkok and Singapore for eleven days each, it feelt good to be moving around again. I was in Kolkata just three nights, with only two full days of seeing the city. However, the Swedish girls were power-walkers, so we saw close to all the temples and markets we’d circled in our guidebooks.

Locals wait around tourist sights and practically latch themselves on to you upon arrival. They follow you around offering information in hopes for a tip at the end. I’m never quite sure if the information I’m being given is true or not, but I figure when it comes to religion, truth is pretty blurry anyway. When they are persistent enough and do a decent job, I’m usually fine with paying them.

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Singapore Photos

Singapore 3 Comments »

Singapore is probably the cleanest and safest city I’ve ever visited. I felt totally comfortable walking anywhere, anytime. The people are friendly and hospitable. The water’s safe to drink. Everything works the way it’s supposed to. The economy is good. There’s not too much traffic and public transportation is cheap and efficient. One might try to say there isn’t much history or culture in Singapore, but the mix of Indian, Chinese and other Asian heritages makes for plenty to see, taste and do.

It’s an easy and interesting place to live, but I can’t say I’d trade the stars and stripes in for it.

Here are some people in Singapore doing their thing…

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India No Comments »

The only internet connection I could find here is a single virus infected computer with a 33K modem in the back of a photo shop, so if I owe you an email…sorry about the delay!

There’s an old temple here and maybe a few hundred residents. Less polution, slower moving and a whole different character. Cows nap in parking lots. Kids beg everywhere. Food is amazing. Heat is climbing. Still travelling with the German.

I’ve got a ton of pictures, video and stories, which I’ll post when I get to Goa sometime late this week.

In India

India 2 Comments »

Kolkata is amazing. Amazing! The yellow taxi’s are straight out of a Dick Tracey film. There’s dust, smoke and noise everywhere. The poverty is atrocious. Strangers smile back. Traffic is as wild as in Asia.

I quickly made friends with three other backpackers on my flight; two girls from sweeden and a guy from germany who’s been travelling for two years. Having arrived late at night, most places we went to were full. We’d knock on the metal doors, someone would come and poke their head through an opening, shake their head and say “FULL!!”. This could have been bad, but I enjoyed it and ended up finding a bed for $1.60 per night at place called Hotel Maria.

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On the Roof

Singapore No Comments »

I’m on the roof of my hostel. There are two picnic tables out here and I sat at one when the air was still hot and the sun was still burning everything. Now darkness has come and with it high lightening, soft thunder and heavy winds. The corrugated metal doors of the outdoor showers across from me suddenly and simultaneously swing open. My eyes pass over the glowing laptop into this new black space as my stomach dips to the squeak of their swing.

While I sit here reading and enjoying the sudden cool of a pending storm, a man walks out onto the roof. Slowly and peacefully, he shuts the glass door behind him. I watch his careful movements and see his collared shirt, tucked into jeans that fit as formal as blue jeans could. I think he must work here, maybe even own the place for he is so careful. As he approaches the shower, the winds again swing the doors, this time for him.

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Cambodia No Comments »

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Farts & Fires

Singapore, Thoughts & Reflections 1 Comment »

This morning I noticed the soft rustle of plastic bags around the room sounded like small fires burning. The knock of hands against bed posts, added pops and cracks.

The zip of zippers distracted me from visualizing this, until I found them to sound like farts. Quick, squeaky ones. Slow, deep ones.

I made images in my mind of the farts and fires around me.

Kolkata Or Not, Here I Come

Plans & Itineraries, Singapore 1 Comment »

Oh wow, it’s Saturday? My Indian visa should be ready on Monday, so I better start looking for flights. It’s kind of last minute, but last time I checked the budget airlines don’t care how far I booked in advance.

First let me search my favorite site, Orbitz. Ahh..they don’t book flights out of Singapore. Ok, so I’ll try my old favorite Travelocity…damn, the cheapest flight they can actually ticket is Singapore Airlines at $500. Gulp!

Oh yea, Lonely Planet reccommended that site Zuji. Why don’t I give them a shot?

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