Archive for February, 2013

The press to please your sweetheart is a social phenom here in Texas…people here really believe in the importance of this day…..you’ve got my assurance that Texans are crazy for Valentines. In the spirit of Texan true love…I wish you all a Happy Valentine and truly wish you the best on this day.

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I’m well settled into my newest travel destination…Dallas Texas, Frankly I love it. The extensive transportation network here allows for easy access over some pretty incredible distances…all in a days drive. The 16 lane freeways take some getting used to. There are overpass exchanges stacked five high in some places…enough to give you a feeling of vertigo as the spans fly off in every direction and the motion parallax of your mind’s eye can’t quite catch up when traveling 80 miles per hour in heavy traffic. This is an experience in itself, of which I have seen nowhere in the world to this extent…it is truly civilization on steroids. The Dallas Metroplex is massive…13 cities and hundreds of towns all linked together by on ramps serving 10++ million people. In fact, the freeway system is upgraded at such ferocious speed that my GPS Navigator…the very latest Garmin….is obsolete almost as soon as it’s upgraded as new roads appear almost overnight. It takes some serious common sense and dead reckoning at times. Once you’ve made the freeways your friend..and you really have to in this place that is centered around the automobile….the world opens up and freedom is at your beck and call. The day trip opportunities have so far seemed endless to us and Texas is an endless fascination, far different from the misgivings and stereotypes we’ve been fed by outside media. Its the kind of place you simply must experience to appreciate…once here…guaranteed…you will appreciate the wide open spaces.

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Being from a predominately Chinese community in Vancouver Canada, the days ceremony in Texas wasn’t in the grand style of political statements that I’ve become accustomed to. Although Texas has the fastest growing Asian community in North America it’s still much more diversified than the ghetto atmosphere of most ethnic area’s in Canada. In this way of merging the communities into a greater whole the Chinese Lunar festival was attended by a broad cross section of the Asian community rather than being promoted as dominated for one ethnicity or another…quite refreshing, compared to Canada’s politically stoked tension between singular groups for vote,s cash and favor. IMHO Texas comes out on top again for pride and mellow good times.

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When people think about travel they think primarily of tourism…balmy breezes..palm trees, and other exotic fantasies. Have you ever thought of the economic migrants and business travelers you’re sharing the flight with? In a place like Dallas where head offices are ubiquitous, there are working professionals from around the world working on the various contractor visa’s that the US allows…..some stay for short contracts…others live away from home for years. In other major capitals the colonies of ex-patriots are replicated similarly, living a different life than most, and many children, including my own, have had classrooms as diverse as the plant they grew up on.

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Everywhere you go, behind the scenes, there will thousands, and in some cases, such as Dallas Texas, tens of thousands of ex-patriots living as temporary residents. This is unlike any lifestyle an average tourist will observe from their hotels or guest houses.The ex-pat community itself has it’s hierarchies, that of the professional…engineers, technical writers, administrators , lawyers , representatives and managers , retiree’s, the flotsam and the jetsam.

There are the longer term visitors, on short term travel visa’s split into defined groups of those who are seeking something, either spiritual or banal, and those who are running away from something, some of whom tend to participate in activities that extend and perpetuate a certain stereotype about foreigners that tend to smear us regular folk with a dirty brush. The latter are usually the most visible, they appear as loud barflies with a distinctly foul sense of humor, and tend to be the standard pimple on the ass of any decent society and didn’t fit into their own communities either.

Trish and I have been part of the ex patriot community both as professional visa holders and long term residents retiree’s. We tend to choose the contracts and locations that interest us most and that determines our status of ‘working or not’…..right now we work…after this year we may ‘retire’…and so it goes. After traveling extensively as tourists in our younger years we chose to continue that lifestyle and designed our professional lives accordingly. It’s certainly fun and interesting, but there are many elements to adjust to, such as the fact that community is always temporary, and your friends inevitably fly away.

Next time you’re visiting an exotic capital on a sight seeing or short visit, and you see a person looking dressed for the office in traffic, on the bus or train, you’ll have brushed up to an ex patriot, away from home, on the way from one gig to another…and not going home after two weeks away.

BTW…check out the extended picture gallery…and new video’s on the Bangkok Living and Travel site.

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