Archive for January, 2012

The word ‘balictad’ in the Binisaya dialect of the southern Philippines means ‘ to do things the wrong way’……’to go about doing things backwards… reverse order’.  Colloquially it is a term of endearment for someone who doesn’t seem to have their lives going in the right direction . I have to admit to living in a state of’  ‘balictad’   for years without any permanent scar tissue precluding my generally positive attitude. What is normal anyway? Do your thing baby…whatever it is. Live your dream, seek your passion in life, live with creativity , imagination and love.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143

that lucky dragon

Posted: January 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

Penang Malaysia in the second week of the Chinese New Year festival…what a show! Incredible fireworks all over the city from 10 pm until 2 am. From our room on the 10th floor of the Oriental Hotel we could see everything as it happened in 180 degree’s of awesome rocketry. The smoke that blanketed the city simulated  a rolling fog moving in. As far away as  Georgetown across the harbor on the mainland the fireworks were visible and very active. The street level activity wasn’t bad either. There were so many shop houses cleansing the spirits out of their storefronts that the staccato firecrackers created a strobe light effect on the surrounding neighborhood. Something I hadn’t seen before in Asia was the setting of fires in containers in the street. There was obviously some coordination and local acceptance of these flaming buckets in the middle of the street because cars just drove around them. A wonderful thing for us westerners was the fact that sixteen firetrucks did not coming blasting in nor did an army of police show to arrest anyone… went by…..normally…how quaint.  Odd that there are so few western tourists here in Penang. It is the most under rated destination in all of Asia IMHO. Maybe that’s a good thing and the prices and the vibe will last a bit longer. Of course it has changed over the years but Penang  has not been over run…nice. Another perk for heavy sleepers is the Mosque alarm..a built in city wide wake up call that shakes you out of bed at precisely 6:15 so that you can get an early jump on the day. There are several mosques in a relatively small area and they had coordinated their call to prayer so that it sounds a bit like a choir…very exotic and definatley a ‘wow’ for someone who appreciates the human mystery. That lucky dragon is certainly in good hands here in Penang, well fed and secure for another twelve years.

kicked back in a hurricane

Posted: January 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

The sight and soundscape of living in this somewhat antipodal environment provides a fresh palette to anyone who wants to spend  time thinking, composing, sorting  out, creating etc. The alien sound track of language and the cacophony of   unregulated modernity provides a shielding blanket of incomprehensible noise that lets my own thoughts gel without interruption. I find it refreshing not to understand the advertising pitches or the conversations going on around me. Because my brain doesn’t process the noise intellectually I find myself freed of the influence of others in  society. It may sound counter intuitive but I can walk down a busy street and continue a train of thought from one end of the block to the other. I can sit in a coffee shop and not be annoyed by the mundane conversations of my fellow travelers. Their words have no meaning to my conscious mind and require no deconstruction. I am not referencing what is said or done  onto my  psychic template for  reflection.  I’m kicked back in a hurricane. As a writer, this is bliss.

Over a period of many years while we were still young and stupid we tortured ourselves at the midpoint of every vacation by asking ‘why do we have to go back’.  Back …meaning the city and country of  origin and had put down such an incredibly deep set of roots that we thought we would never be able to extricate ourselves. “It’s just too complicated,” was the excuse we used. In the end we realized that life was all about the choices we make for ourselves.  At the end of our journey we have no one to answer to but ourselves as to whether we enjoyed our one shot of mortality. No one is in charge of you except you in the final analysis. The leap from never never to always always always is really just a short walk on a path of paving stones that you throw out in front of you to keep you up and out of the muck and mire. There’s an advertising slogan somewhere, I don’t recall what they’re selling, I just like the words…’Just do it’. That sounds about right. Will you regret having lived….or regret having let life pass you by? Why am I thinking about this today….I don’t know..ask the weather.

strange year for weather in asia

Posted: January 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s supposed to be the best time of year to visit Thailand for overall ambiance…..that includes right now…..a mystical period called ‘yen sabai’ where the extreme heat and humidity abates and the sun shines everyday…..not happening this year. Weather reports on the local TV show that flooding and heavy rain is still affecting the entire country.

The ocean condition reports show similar turbulence at sea which makes the water too turbid for snorkelling anywhere close to the coastline. I’d want to be very careful traveling from island to island on a small craft in these conditions. Conditions in BKK are always the same…smelly.. crowded…jackhammer loud…..just great!! The beach trip so far is a bust……lets hope for a turnaround in what has been a very strange year for weather in Asia generally.

took a swim to the corner store

Posted: January 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Bangkok haze is thick with excess precipitation. It’s more like having your face over a boiling pot of water. My glasses fogged up as soon as I hit the street. Walking to the corner  reminded me of a ride I took on the Lady of the Mist under the Niagara Falls. I went out for an ice cream cone to cool down, it didn’t work. By the time I’d walked the short block home I was wet with the humidity and a good dollop of my own perspiration. The exercise did me good as I had developed writers ass and need to walk it off. The 9 baht I spent on the cone was wasted. A positive development is that the water in the swimming pool has warmed to a spring like Caribbean temperature making it just the few degrees cooler than the outside air necessary for  a very pleasant respite from the heat. A common mistake  farang make who come here for the first time is to start the cycle of drinking beer etc to try and beat the heat.  Don’t forget the alcohol is a diuretic and dehydrates the body faster than a beer can be swilled. The process becomes a virtuous circle of headache, cramping and constant urination. Many foreigners come to Thailand as alcoholics but others become alcoholics by trying to navigate the strange social waters and the heat. The drinking becomes more drinking. This is so common here that many Thai’s assume that every foreigner is a drunk. There is no magic bullet for the heat. The grocery stores shelves are full of competing products for hydration and prickly heat, not to mention every variety of cheap alcohol. The Thai’s are not immune, all you can do is adjust. Time on the ground will assist in acclimatizing you for the conditions. Dress appropriately and choose your battles wisely. Take me as an example. I look like I just took a swim to the corner store.

all we can do is hope

Posted: January 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

I had to take a break from writing and dive into the pool. My fingers were dripping sweat onto the keyboard. The constant beauty of the setting has allowed another month to slip by unnoticed. I have noticed that the planet is shifting a degree at a time. This has brought Neptune into view. It’s very cool to have two bright planets in the sky. This cosmic declination has apparently stimulated the termites to swarm. Clouds of them attack the light wherever they can find it, window screens are a big help unless you want to dine by candlelight. Plenty of unsung soldiers floating  in the pool, which the pool guy is dutifully skimming off as I write.

We want to thank all 58,000 people who have watched our YouTube video’s on patriciaolson9. We can only trust that divine providence will allow us more time to continue. All we can do is hope. “It’s a real stinker today,” says Patricia….I concur 100%.

You’re probably familiar with the phrase ‘”You’re not in Kansas anymore”. I read somewhere that nocturnal gecko’s can eat their weight in mosquito’s every night? They are welcome friends around here, cute too ! Daylight brings out the swallows and sparrow, they dip and skim or wash in the pool, it’s a lot fun to watch them ruffle their feathers and socialize. Both the natural world and the supernatural are on guard today with the advent of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Drum beats loud and faint fill the air. The cacophony of long strings of fireworks set to chase off wrathful spirits also has the dogs and birds spinning in circles, cats are no where to be seen. In the lead up to the auspicious  reemergence of the dragon after a twelve year absence local markets and hyper-markets alike are super busy. The nights are lively with people congregating around the festival lights and  special foods  are being cooked in the street by hawkers and commercialista’s alike.  Thailand is an equal  opportunity place where every holiday is embraced as a time to set off fireworks and throw a party. There’s never a dull moment in this frantic little country.

singing in the rain

Posted: January 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

The air is thick with warm mist after a few minutes of tropical rain fell from a passing cloud. I had to close up my laptop quickly and head for cover because of the sudden downpour out of a mostly clear  sky. I haven’t had a ‘Hawaiian shower’ since I was a kid so I decided to relive my childhood and stood in the rain and let it soak me down, glorious. Within minutes the cloud had passed leaving only the mist in it’s wake and the sun back on with full intensity. I wasn’t able to tell when the transition from being wet from the rain or the renewed streaming perspiration started, wet is wet. It’s a beautiful day, rain or shine.

We were talking about appreciating what we don’t have  opposed to what we would if we lived in the west. It started with a  comment about not wearing half the clothes we’d brought over with us when we came. The list continued to grow the more we discussed all the petty things we no longer find ‘necessary’. This epiphany was compounded by the fact that we are truly happy……despite possessing very little except a few pairs of flip flops and a change of clothes.  In the west we experience a high level of satisfaction…..because we are successful in the sense that we have the things that the advertisers deem necessary to  exist in  western society.  But being happy…..that concept is fleeting in the west……transitory and rare..Most people have to shop in order to alleviate their day to day frustrations…..that is not happy…you have to be happy in order to find true happiness…..only happiness will make you happy.