The Other Side

India 1 Comment »

Sanjay was clean-cut and dressed in an American 80’s style. He looked like a dark skinned version of the guy in Three’s Company, but with a mustache. A baby blue athletic shirt with cutoff sleeves was tucked tightly into his jeans. I sat with Sanjay under the canopy, looking out over his things for sale at passing tourists.

Sanjay asked me what my dreams were. I was caught off guard, not expecting such depth to a conversation with limited English. It took me some time to communicate all the big and exciting things I want out of life. When finished, I asked him the same.

He faced his palms to the sky and waved his hands over the dusty trinkets in his shop.

“This” he said.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “This is what you want, nothing more?”

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Pushkar

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I got on the sleeper bus from Jaisalmer bound for Jaipur, but made some friends during the night and decided instead to get off with them in a place called Pushkar; a town that surrounds a holy lake, with holy monkeys and holy cows everywhere. A place where the pace of life is slow, spirituality is big, and meat and alcohol is forbidden. Lots of travelers come for a few days and end up staying weeks or months. I skipped all the sights, and instead found a roof top restaurant where I spent hours watching the lake and reading and writing. After two nights, I escaped to the North as planned. Here are a few pictures I took while I was there.

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Marwar Song

Audio & Video, India No Comments »

In the recording of this song it’s easy to get distracted by the mysterious Marwar language and loss of rhythm or tone, but being there I didn’t notice.

The moon was full and gave more light than the small crackling fire. The sand was warm and endless and a steady breeze blew on my back. We sat in a circle with the guides grouped closely together. Their drums were empty water bottles and cooking oil jugs. They were four including my friend Kamal and the twelve year old Mr. Win.

Even through the off beat drumming and vocals, if you listen, I think you can hear their love for the desert. It shone from them like the moon and the fire that night.

Listen Now! | 4min 44sec, 5.6megs

Top 100 Things I’ve Done – #32

Top 100 Things I've Done 1 Comment »

Work for an Adventure Camp

During my final semester of college, I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I was burned out from studying Quantum Mechanics all day, so I started searching for outdoor summer jobs. I made a few applications online and ended up getting offers for a couple different positions.

The first was as a white water rafting guide on the Kennebec River. I had been a guest with the rafting company the year before and .interested in a job there since, so I was pretty sure I would take the offer. Before I told them I’d spend my spring break at guide training, I got an email from Sara Johnson at Longacre Expeditions saying she’d like to do a phone interview with me.

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Blue City

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Camel Safari

India 2 Comments »

I’d never seen a camel in real life before. They stunk, which was fitting I thought. The sounds they made were loud and abrupt, a deep gargled whine that sounded almost human, but unearthly. The only mental connection I could make was the Star Wars character Chewbacca. My camel was docile, but Linda’s was manic. The way they’re controlled is a steel spike is driven through the bridge of their nose, to which ropes are tied. The sound of their cries, wincing of their eyes and blood from their wounds made me uneasy. For lively hood, an animal’s pain is acceptable, but I’m becoming uncomfortable with trading it for tourism.

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Snippets from Siem Reap

Audio & Video, India 2 Comments »

I’’ve had these clips sitting on my computer for awhile, waiting for me to add voice-overs. I’m accepting the fact that video takes too much time to make it as good as I’d like, so I promise I’m going to start uploading more footage. I have got hours and hours. It’ll be mostly straight stuff, with little information, so if you have any questions, ask me or my friend.

These clips are from Siem Reap, Cambodia. It starts with a buffet dinner Stacey and I went to, where there was some Cambodian dancing. Then some footage Stacey took of us doing a little bit of walking in Angkor Wat, where we pass some street musicians and little kids trying to sell us stuff.

Out of Reach

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I’m currently attending a retreat at the Tushita Meditation Center in the Tibetan exile city of McLeod Ganj, India. There I am learning about the philosophies of Buddhism and the practice of meditation. The retreat started on April 20th and lasts ten days. I will not be reachable during this time, but pre-written posts should show up almost daily. Notification emails won’t be sent, so you’ll have to come back on your own!

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Bush Country

India 1 Comment »

It was late, probably too late, but I love the beach at night. Somehow not being able to see the horizon makes it so much more infinite. I walked down the steep broken steps on the cliff in Varkala and made my way across the sand and sat myself down.

I’d been practicing meditation with little success and thought such a peaceful spot might help me along. Surveying the beach, I saw it was empty from me to the pitch blackness that sat beyond the edge of a giant spotlight’s beam. I closed my eyes and thought that with the sound of the waves, I might not hear someone coming, but I then remembered reading when meditating one should actually be more conscious of what’s going on around them.

That would have been nice if I could actually meditate. I opened my eyes thinking I heard someone in the distance and saw a single line of fresh footprints passing inches in front of me. I followed them and found a young kid walking away. He looked back past me. Turning that way I saw his three friends walking towards me. They approached looking, but talking only to each other. On the giant empty beach, they passed close by me.

“What are you doing?” one asked.

“Actually, nothing” I said.

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Packing List – Updated!

Plans & Itineraries 3 Comments »

UPDATE (April 2006) – My pack is too heavy! I was sick of lugging the weight and hand to send some stuff home. I’m considering doing a portion of this trip without my electronics gear, which would mean this website would be put on hold, but there are serious benefits to travelling light that I feel I’m missing out on. But don’t fret, it wouldn’t be until July at the earliest! Updates are marked in red.

Obviously everyone will bring different things with them if they decide to travel long term. Much of my stuff is geared towards the region I’m starting in. For example, I didn’t pack many warm clothes and I brought stuff to sterlize water with. Weight is a big issue when backpacking. I thought my bag was a decent weight until I had to walk a couple miles in it. I’ve sent stuff home twice already and it’s still too heavy. I’ll be updating this list as what I’m caryring changes. If you’re thinking about travelling with only a backpack, I hope this helps.

published a story I wrote. They really do make the most resourceful and up to date travel guides.

Other Miscelaneous Book – See right hand column for list. As I finish eading new books, I send them home. It costs more than it makes sense, but books are about the only thing I collect. April 2006 – I’ve sent home about ten books now.

Healthy Travel – Asia & India – Jammed inside my first aid kit. Worth keeping in case I need to attemp a self diagnosis.

iPod – Playing the guitar is something I really miss when travelling, so with this at least I can listen to music anytime. Also when going weeks without hearing a familiar accent, music is a nice reminder of home.

 

ELECTRONICS

This entire section adds more than half the weight to my pack. It’s not stuff most people would bring, but it’s all necessary for my photography, website and making money while traveling.

Sony VAIO TX-650 Laptop– The smallest and lightest laptop I could find at the time. It has a DVD burner, so I can mail home images as my hard drive fills up, wireless internet and a memory card slot for easy transfer of images.

Nikon D200 Camera– Amateur Professional Digital SLR

Nikon 18-70mm Zoom AF Lens – Standard lens with nice wide-angle for landscape shots.

Nikon 70-300mm Telephoto Lens – I use this primarily for shooting portraits of people without them knowing.

Panasonic SD-100 Video Camera– Smallest video camera I could find with a somewhat professional quality picture. It takes no tapes or discs, just a miniature memory card. The less wires the better.

Wide Angle Lens – Mini Camcorders never seem to fit everything I want in view, so this was a must. The lens has some fish-eye distortion to it, but the massive field of view makes it worthwhile.

USB Jump Drive – 512megs. I’ll often work on my laptop in private and then bring the files on this jump drive to an internet café and upload to the internet. The less gear people see me with, the less likely something will get stolen.

International Cell Phone – Initially I was going to bring a phone only for emergencies, but then I learned about “unlocking”. With my, unlocked Motorola RAZR (thanks to my friend Jeff who owns some cell phone stores in Philly), I can buy prepaid SIM cards in foreign countries and make calls at local rates.

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