30 July 2008

Finale

I have been thinking for some time about how I ought to end this blog, what an appropriate final post should look like in terms of overwrought, sentimental summation. I've had quite a few ideas. I thought, once, that I should drop my characteristic irony and say something sincere and uplifting about the transformative power of world travel. I thought it would be an appropriate way to cap my adventures to communicate to you, my readers, the genuine joy and excitement that thrilled through me each day of my encounters with the unsought and unexpected, how much I learned and how much more I recommend the same magical/spiritual/mystical experience to everyone (please drop whatever it is you're doing right now and GO). But does anyone really want to hear all that crap?

I thought I might even write an abstract poem on the subject:

O Earth, all serried natives,
and one word to combine all;

stitchings of nations,
over mountains and moraines,
lain carpeting, draped;

stirrings of the many-hued,
the long sung and the new upsprung,
into the dusty continents poured;

shifting borders, blending,
only porous definitions--

the lines that divide
are the lines that bleed.

Did you catch the sophisticated syntax and all the double-meanings?

I thought I might provide a sober, unsentimental assessment of what travel means to me and how I really feel about it and how it fits into, shapes, or alters overall life experience. I could say, along these lines, that it can, among many possible options, broaden your perspectives, sharpen your judgment, and stimulate senses you didn't know you had, but also confirm your deepest prejudices, confuse you, frustrate you, and make you run screaming home certain you'll never leave the safety of your IKEA futon again. I could cop out and say that I really don't know what it means or does or why I keep doing it. I can't actually recommend it to everyone. Some people don't seem to me cut out for it. Sure, if you have an expense account, you can do it in relative comfort, but, then, why bother do it at all? I think to travel, you need to work without a net as much as possible. If you aren't relying much on local means and local sources of kindness, then you're seeing the world but not engaging it. Sightseeing is fine, but don't tell me you're jealous of what I do if you yourself aren't prepared to sit on trains and buses, overcrowded and in stifling conditions, for 24-36 hours at a time, sometimes overnight, sometimes on particularly dangerous routes; if you aren't willing to talk to "regular" people, to love them and even more, if you aren't willing to despise regular people, because they are people, too, after all--just like you--and sometimes despicable, just as deserving of your hate as anyone else when it's justified; if you aren't willing to wait and wait for no apparent reason for no specified length of time for just about anything; if you aren't willing to go without most of the comforts of home; if you aren't willing to eat what there is to eat or cook for yourself night after night or sometimes live on biscuits or sometimes starve; if you aren't willing to deal with extreme emotional experiences like crushing loneliness and hysteria-inducing confusion; if you aren't willing to spend days or weeks puking and shitting out the taint from a befouled piece of fruit; if you aren't willing to endure relentless stares and personal questions about your religion, marital status, and income; if you aren't willing to pay too much because you're a foreigner but still remain capable of staring beggars in the face and saying, "No." If you aren't willing to do at least these things, don't tell me you're jealous of what I do, and don't tell me you're a traveler. There's no shame in just being a tourist or travel hobbiest. In fact, it may be better. I'm insane.

I thought I should offer some kind of pithy and glib recap of each country I visited:

Vietnam
Quite possibly the best food in the world; enjoyed the mountainous North more than the floodplain South. Commies.

Cambodia
"One dolla! One dolla!"

Thailand
Heaven and Hell rolled up into one country and stuffed with sticky rice.

Malaysia
Boring, but I was only there a few days, so my opinion is worthless.

Japan
Vague, but tea-licious.

South Korea
I loved it--the food, the people, the sights... just the energy of the place in general. Pretty girls.

Peru
Great trekking, fantastic landscape, interesting history and culture, spectacularly-situated ruins, and overall incredibly depressing.

Bolivia
Friendly, untouristed, compellingly remote, cheap, and very clearly governed and financed by drug dealers.

China
Worth visiting just for the food, but there are too many people and they all spit too much. Huge. Good train system. Commies.

Tibet
Most affecting place I've ever been. Very, very high.

Nepal
*The* backpacker nation; an interesting blend of different cultures, but the food gets tiring pretty quickly. Too many tourists, but the great mountain views make up for it.

Bangladesh
Doesn't really feel as crowded as it is. I had a great experience there with archaeologists. Dhaka is dirty.

India
Probably the most real place I've ever been. Almost every country I've been to since then has felt artificial somehow. I did not necessarily like it.

United Arab Emirates
God-awful. A grim vision of our future society, stripped of politics, a hulk of banal consumerism.

Oman
Like something out of The Arabian Nights. Pretty. Expensive.

Yemen
More amazing than pith has leave on which to expand. Ignore the travel warnings and visit a remarkable, unthought of land; has all the authenticity those annoying authenticity people are always looking for.

Armenia
Reminded me of New Jersey but with an ex-Soviet twist. Ararat!

Nagorno-Karabakh
Non-recognized. I turned 30 there.

Georgia
A slice of Europe dripping down from the Caucasus into the Middle East. More pretty girls.

Turkey
Incredibly nice people. More expensive than expected. Lots of ruins, which I love. But you have to pay to pee, which I don't love.

Greece
I liked it better this time, but I got to hang out with Greek people. Really very magical.

Albania
Not as dysfunctional as I was expecting. Is that a disappointment?

Montenegro
Whatever.

Croatia
Too expensive and too touristy. Sorry, fans, I didn't like it, but maybe it's just not for me, because everyone else does.

Slovenia
Inoffensive. Nice people. Home of Zizek.

Italy
Oh, the food...

France
Oh, the food...

Spain
Sedate enough by day for a pilgrim, wild enough at night for the unpenitent.

Portugal
Charming. Cheap(er). I want to go back for more.

United States of America
Dopey.

In the end, I couldn't decide what to do, how to end this yearish-long blog started on a whim, its content (and discontent) since more complexly evolved. So, as usual, I sat down, began typing, and typed until something came out that is at least long enough to qualify for the burdensome office of Last Post. To refer back to my first post, by way of closing things out for good, I have to say, though I didn't mean it seriously at the time, that my world, and the things I did in it, really did go down smooth (,baby), so I think I was prescient in choosing my otherwise arbitrary title.

Goodbye.

52 comments:

Devo said...

>>There's no shame in just being a tourist or travel hobbiest.

Good -- because I admire, but I do not envy, your travels. Sorry to see you've closed this blog down. Clearing space for next year's work? I should be visiting some time this fall. Cheers.

出張ホスト said...
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家出 said...
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救援部 said...
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逆援助 said...
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素人 said...
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SM度チェッカー said...
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セフレ said...
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デリバリーホスト said...
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瘋狂的 said...

失意人前,勿談得意事;得意人前,勿談失意事。..................................................

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DianneG2587 said...

人必須心懷希望,才會活的快樂,日子才過得充實,有意義,有朝氣,有信心。........................................

DesiraeF_Creech0709 said...

一句話,那就是,"船到橋頭自然直." ....................................................

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6665kathlinec_brobst9 said...

感謝分享哦~會再來看看的~............................................................

冠中 said...

志不立,天下無可成之事。........................................

D415_evonN_Risinger0 said...

天下沒有走不通的路,沒有克服不了的困難,沒有打不敗的敵人。 ..................................................

fatgui said...

ooh!!!
slavoj!!!!!
what do you think of him?

i'm a few years late reading the final entry...
but, worth it, it was!

where are you these days?

-javier

曾文詠 said...

你不能決定生命的長度,但你可以控制它的寬度............................................................

burkere said...

噴泉的高度,不會超過它的源頭。一個人的事業也是如此,它的成就絕不會超過自己的信念。..................................................

SadeRa盈君iford0412 said...

Many a little makes a mickle...................................................................

溫淑芬 said...

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葉婷 said...

知識可以傳授,智慧卻不行。每個人必須成為他自己。......................................................................

家谷家谷 said...

在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」......................................................................

靜宸靜宸靜宸 said...

卡爾.桑得柏:「除非先有夢,否則一切皆不成。」共勉!............................................................

盈廖生家秀蔡 said...

It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

嘉剛青卉 said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。............................................................

竹青 said...

人生最可憐的是半途而廢,最可悲的是喪失信心,最遺憾的是浪費時間,最可怕的是沒有恆心。..................................................

俊成俊成 said...

No one knows the weight of anothers burden. ............................................................

婷珊 said...

人生最重要的一件事,就是從生活中認識你自己。.......................................................

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不能記住往事的,人注定要重蹈覆轍。......................................................

琬安琬安 said...

Man is not made for defeat. A mean can be destroyed but not defeated..................................................................

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It is easier to get than to keep it.......................................................................

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于庭吳 said...

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石JaquelynS_Whitesi白 said...

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