Patience on Processing the Big Picture
Since I spent a great deal of time in the four countries I recently went to with the Asia Trip and had great expectations about revelations and conclusions, I decided to try and summarize some closing statements with a few more pictures. Below are mostly from the new Lumix converted from the raw high-quality image format to png and slightly reduced in dimensions. The camera and lenses I’ve already thought to sell because of the quality of pictures achieved with the auto function of the Google Pro 7. Actually you can adjust settings mid-shot with ease. I know however that the darker images from the raw format that the Lumix captured in some auto-mode, tells me I just don’t quite know how to use a dslr’s full capability as a manual tool. It was a good idea to have two devices as far as battery is concerned and without touchscreen gloves, I’d have to quickly pull off my glove to frame any photos using the Google Pro 7 with each press.
So starting with Thailand or the city of Bangkok. This first picture is the scene of where I was struck by some type of moving vehicle and then later woke up paying the hospital bill. From what it looks like the walkway is blocked off and I couldn’t really tell if one whole roadway is missing from 2013. Anyways this didn’t really teach me much in reflection. There are train tracks there and the hotel’s parking lot also has a driveway passing this shortcut, so the possibilities about what exactly put me unconscious increase. There doesn’t seem to be a crosswalk as I remember, if this is indeed where I crossed and the convenience store is no longer there. Henceforth I was somewhat disappointed walking away from this checkpoint. I bought a snack nearby at a street shop and a convenience store beverage, then took the bus to the rooftop bar for some more photos.
Bangkok has changed with the arrival of medical marijuana shops. I didn’t even go into any of them partially because of the prescription needed, but they definitely looked appealing. Even if I was determined enough to get a prescription, I don’t think I would have jumped right into this scene. I was waiting to hit the ten-year mark of abstinence for me, which is later this year, to work with Swift Transportation. A recruiter had told me that they wouldn’t hire someone who had admittedly smoked pot within a ten-year period. I then however removed my CDL last year to save some money on a health check and because I didn’t feel the career was ever going to work out. It’s amazing how creative these shop designs are mixed with an Amsterdam vibe and a totally unique Bangkok vibe of technology and electricity. Later I heard that one can purchase with a prescription, again I wouldn’t bend the intention of the rule at this point because I am also adhering to directions the health laws are trying to steer tattooing as well. Again my biggest surprises in Bangkok were about how offended I was from street vendors in reference to the dress code for the Grand Palace and the astounding National Museum. I had fun going out as a vegan for the first time in over five years as well. Like many of the countries I first had a feeling that I didn’t think I’d ever need to come back. Bangkok overly frustrated me when I tried to walk to the scene in the first picture. Terribly inconsiderate drivers, lack of traffic lights and when walk signs and lights were present, they were rarely respected. This immediately answered the question about how I was hit. I got the same feeling that I just have to go and hope someone slows down to ever cross the street. So beware if you want to walk around freely in Bangkok and at night in off-the-beaten-path explorations. Most tourists should be fine. Still I was also evaluating cities about living in, towards the subconscious of my thought process. This one would have failed quickly because of this problem. However like the other three places of these thirteen nights, they all started to win me over again.
What was the biggest difference between when I lived here and taught and now, nearly ten years ago? Well as a vegan with these many years of sobriety, everything is different. Also when you are trying to work somewhere and there is pressure to get a paycheck happening really fast, we always skip many of the culture hot-spots that are deemed touristy, but they are the roots of living somewhere that everyone should probably do first. The weather was much more pleasant in February than last time, which was late Summer. Above is Lumphini Park around the area I first stayed. I saw a boxing match that time and it was cool to remember some of the reference points I used then for orientation.
As each three to four day segment ended, I didn’t feel rushed by packing or that the visit was too short. I didn’t really feel the waterfall until listening to music at the airport or in the plane. The worst part of going from country to country, often was security checks, lines for immigration and that whole process. Emptying our bags or getting all frazzled while being rushed through the x-ray machines almost was never pleasant. I felt harassed and offended almost every time. Even if I planned it perfectly and repacked neatly, something would happen to mess all that up. Still I was precise with timing and got quicker at getting through all that each time. I knew I was going to Germany in December with a quick one of these in Milan on the way to the UAE, so I thought of it as practice to make that connection and get to Dubai from Abu Dhabi affordably before the bus stops running.
By the time I reached Taipei 101 in Taiwan, most of the hard work had been accomplished of my plans in this country and with a lesson on communicating through Google Translate, I couldn’t believe how much easier it was in 2023. Still not easy or that quick, but seems anything is possible for anyone intimidated by international travel. I don’t think you could sustain a more complex relationship that way, but it’s definitely taking the place of my former job as an ESL teacher in many ways.
Would I ever go back to live and teach in Taiwan? I met an awesome teacher from Argentina at my former school who is leaving in the Fall. We talked quite a bit and I think I was more inspired to visit South America then take her place, but I would definitely always standby the Taiwanese in any time of need. War or the classroom.
The character of the buildings on my trip didn’t let me down. On this late day, it was almost like Taipei 101 called in the clouds to show a different side and then the town even put on a show later that night after highlighting some other buildings. I think the city was also telling me I have to come back and spend a little more time next visit. Was I an architect in a former life? What is my fascination with skylines, high-rises and towers? Glad I still love them.
Seoul has changed with many new tall buildings. It lost me sometimes and I kept trying to get a grip on parts of town that wouldn’t lend a hand that way anymore because of the amount of time since my last visit. However I felt at home as soon as I walked onto the roof of the Airbnb accommodation. I thought I could easily live here again. I wonder about being tempted by the nightlife and drinking lifestyle I overindulged in when I lived here in my mid-twenties. If I could teach in South Korea again and had to for some reason, it would probably be a no-brainer. I don’t know about long-term as a teacher since it’s been so long. My previous boss’ son asked me that question and I said probably in retirement. He said that sounded perfect. I couldn’t take that many pictures in Seoul because I was astounded by my memories trying to feel who I was today. When I saw Kehlani and my friend from Nebraska left to go home to his wife and son, I was a foreigner again with a make-believe star friendship taking me back home.
Japan or Tokyo I should say, took hold like the locals were going to trample me. Rewind to the airport and I got a taste of travel while covid was a major fear. Again I was feeling betrayed and ready to go home to the USA or get a bottle of sake and hide in the hotel room. I continued with my plan and my friend and I met after Skytree the next day. I thought we were really in sync and for musicians that’s the most important thing. We could navigate through public transportation, a theater, a food hall and more with natural momentum and rhythm. Our conversation was inspiring as well even though he said his English had gotten much worse since college. My conclusion after he went home was that we have to work on a studio recording in the future. He was the first and only person so far I’ve showed the lyrics to my only song I’ve been writing in the last few years. Japan never really took to me as a teacher though, so I understand how they are true to my dreams as a musician and I respect that stubbornness. Wataru was even trying to conclude for me that I’ve found the answer in my quest! On the last night I seriously pondered buying a little Japanese guitar from Akihabara, but figured it would cost more to get home than its sticker price.
What’s the last word? When I returned I kept telling everyone how the trip was tons of work and I felt like I was complaining. My Uncle said he always tells his family that there is a difference between vacation and travel. Will I ever be able to sit on a beach again or crave the shoreside hotel and not want to be somewhere else without a stiff drink? My intentions of this trip idea I conceived while drawing in my Houston apartment during the onset of covid, were to touch base with my friends and family overseas before setting off to new territory. At one point I thought I should just do this exact trip again and that made the explorer in me feel selfish and sad. If I hadn’t already committed to the trip to Germany, I might have just booked the same trip with some variations at that point. I still have places to revisit and dream to keep travelling one day like a true rock n’ roll heartbreaker.