Saturday September 9th, 2017

Hiked 7.3 miles
3:44 am


The sea is much deeper blue up north. 

Well I got my room a little after 2 yesterday afternoon and have slept almost 12 hours. I woke up earlier thinking I would go out. My throat was a bit sore, and I was feeling weak so I considered I might be getting sick. I went back to bed. I am less weak than I was, and my throat is still a bit sore. I did get a green drink last night, a large one, that helped. I am impressed that I made it out of Asia without so much as a runny stool. I am only slightly concerned about the cold. It seems there were a lot of sick people in Hong Kong.

Fifteen minutes ago my roommates all came in very happy from a fun night out. I am feeling like I had too much sleep so I just got up, grabbed my keyboard and left the room. As I was leaving once of the young cute french girls said, "Where are you going?" I explained it was late in the morning where I am from so I am heading out to see Dublin. The girls giggle and one says, "Good night." I said, "Good morning." and they giggled again.
The green farms as we land. 

It was 0330 hrs when my roommates came back from the bar. They were cute young European girls and a couple of studs from Naples, or Birmingham. He said Naples first then told me closer to Birmingham. I suppose it makes not a difference to me as I don't know where either of those places are or what they are like.

So now I am sitting out in the lobby area, but only extremely wasted people are coming in now, in no condition to have conversation.

I am sitting here holding an energy drink. I thought it would be a gatorade as it looked like the ones I saw in Thailand without the Thai writing. I can read this though. One sip of it last night and Rockstar came to mind. It is not a good drink at all but I can not say it is worse than our energy drinks. It is carbonated, caffeine water with vitamin C and glucose with artificial sweetener. I brought down some blueberries for breakfast too. At least to hold me together until I can go get what they say is an Irish breakfast. In America we skip breakfast and throw money at Starbucks.
A curious bird watching me through the bus window. 

This hostel was built many many years ago. It has been updated and repaired, but the stairs that lean to one side amplify the sound of every drunk bastard going up or down them at night.

6:11 am

I had to go pee and did not want to wake up my roommates so I headed down to McDonalds. It seems to be one of the few places open at this hour. The streets were almost empty. I noticed a handful of people sleeping in nice sleeping bags, but I couldn't tell if they were backpackers or homeless people. The streets feel safe and the people seem friendly.

I walked in McDonalds a few minutes ago with my sweater on and my hoodie up because it was cold. A police guy stood up and approached me and ask if he could help me. I said, "I was just going to use the bathroom then enjoy breakfast if that is alright?" He dressed like a security guard but only had a camera strapped across his chest. He
Very innovative bridge. 

pulled his hand up across his bald head and I guessed it was a hint to take down my hoody. I pulled it down and he excused me. I went upstairs to go to the bathroom then came down and ordered the Big Irish Sandwich and coffee. When I walked to the front of the store the same security officer said I should go upstairs. I walked upstairs and enjoyed the sandwich. It is 2 eggs on a long bun with sausage and bacon. (Bacon in ireland is what we call sliced ham.) They ask if I wanted ketchup or brown sauce. I decided to try brown sauce.

The brown sauce ended up being gravy and it was just salty enough to be really good on it.

Since I have been here I feel like I stick out. Everyone seems to know I am American before I open my mouth. I noticed that every European is wearing skinny pants, skinny jeans, or somehow has their ankles snug tight with the only exception being a suit.
A very old mounted deer head.

The security guy came up here to make his rounds. He is a large black man. I tried to make conversation with him, but he just shrugged me off silently. He seemed to know english well earlier when he told me to come upstairs. I wonder if he does not speak English, or because he has a camera strapped to his chest.

6:58 pm

Well I learned a lot today. I came here having traced my family history back to William Carson of Ulster Ireland in the early 1700's. I did not know much else. My first stop today was the EPIC Irish immigration museum. It was 22 euros with the genealogy assistance. The museum was fascinating and I realized Obama, Ronald Reagan, Steve Jobs, and Billy the Kid are all Irishmen. I learned that 22 US presidents are Irish too. Prime ministers, comedians, and important people everywhere. It was well done and by the end of the presentation I was wondering if there was anyone that wasn't Irish.
The Spire at the end of Talbot street.

The gentleman that helped me out at the genealogy part was quite knowledgable with the websites. He knows the free ones and you get a trial of an Irish records site for 30 days with your tour. I found out that Carsons spotted northern Ireland and that my ancestor likely came over during the Ulster migration of 200,000 people in 1722. They primarily landed in the Boston area and North Carolina where William landed. I also learned that the Carsons were not originally from Ireland but came over at the wishes of King James in the 1600's to help Ireland become more protestant. I have yet to go to England and see where else my family history leads. I feel that it was well worth my visit and I even found two more leads from William Carson from another family tree. That would be two more generations of Irish in me.

My hostel on the right side. 

On the way back I went to Penney's so I can dress like a European. My baggy pants are giving me away as a yank. I got some tight sweats and a sweater. I had to go back and get sizes too big because I am not used to skin tight and it felt weird. I will wear them tomorrow. On my way back to my room I stopped at Istanbul Turkish food. I got the gyro plate. The Russian speaking man behind the counter made me a gyro fit for a trucker and just as many fries for only 5 euro.

While I ate I had an interesting talk. He was very concerned about our country and he said thousands were wiped out. I ask where and I thought he said Korea. I said, "Really I was just there." I said something about how I knew tensions were boiling up. He seemed more concerned and showed me a video in Russian about the devastating storm in Cuba and Florida.

I have to say I was relieved that we were not at nuclear war but it was comforting the whole world was concerned when we got hit by such a destructive storm.
11:51 pm

After my last entry I realized all my room-mates were sleeping so I stayed downstairs and finished
Old buildings are amazingly strong. 

my movie "Sand Castle". It was and interesting movie about desert storm in 2003. Then I started talking to a lady from Cape Horn Africa. She was an older lady who went by the name "B". She was a citizen of south Africa having a problem with her visa to stay for her work here. She said I should go to South Africa. She said they have blue ribbon beaches with no trash. She showed me pictures of awesome surf and only seaweed washing up on the shore. Sure there are lots of sharks, but I will take sharks over sewage.

I spoke with a few other hostel dwellers. Two guys from India who were studying IT at the center of technology. Then I decided to find a pub. I passed a few that were packed with tourist, as I went further up the road I saw two guys exiting and as I looked in the door I saw one seat at the bar.

I sat down and ordered a local light beer. Soon I struck a conversation with a guy named Kevin from Chicago. Kevin was talking to Mick who sat between us for quite awhile. Mick was a local who just dropped by after his visit to downtown to go to the store. He was just about retirement age and was already nearing his alcohol limit. He taught me a lot. I learned that in Ireland they play a sport called Hurley. The teams knock around a giant sized softball while trying to break each others knees with the sticks. They volunteer for this. There is no income so these are policemen, doctors, plumbers, and janitors all battling it out for free on a field where 82,000 fans show up to watch.

We talked about how American football players looked like pussies with all their padding, He found this hilarious. I think it was Kevin that brought of that word. Mick found it absolutely hilarious.

We all drank a few more ales. Then Kevin had to leave. I sat on the other side of Mick because he said he was deaf on the other side. We talked about current events, sports, how little we westerners know about rugby. Then he said joyful and loud, "Do you need a straw with that beer? Hey bartender, get this kid a straw! Hahahah!" We both laughed. I decided tomorrow I would go buy a taste for Guinness at the storehouse.

We had a lot of Good laughs. At one point we were talking about what I write about. I showed him a picture of a Yin Yang. He immediately ask, "Which side is evil?"

I replied neither and gave him a brief synopsis of my philosophy.

"Aye. That is too deep for me lad."

I was getting too deep for me too so we said our goodbyes, "Come back here when they knight you and we'll have a beer", Mick said. "Your a good man!", the bartender said. It was a very friendly bar. I had great laughs, learned a lot about true Irish drinking. I also know what I must do tomorrow in my new skinny sweat pants. Find a taste for Guinness.
Friday September 8th, 2017
Hiked 5.4 miles

11:14 am

I am sitting in a restaurant in Dublin Ireland called Flennagins drinking a Tom Crean's Lager. It is very cold and very good.  I plan to drink ale until noon then I am going to order the bacon cheeseburger the waitress recommended. 

London is the only place where you can get a tic tac and a
condom for a proper shag in the airport. 
This morning I landed too late in London to experience Fish and Chips the english way.  I walked to a restaurant and caught the manager.  She said they were closed, but the sandwich stand across the mall should be open. She also remarked that they don't have lager.  I walked back over to the sandwich stand and got a decent warmed sandwich, some chips, and a coke.  I ate it in the company of some other weary travelers without saying a word then decided to scout out a place to sleep.  There was nothing going on in Heathrow at this hour. The train looked like it would shoot me right into town, but I was beat.  I noticed that unlike China there were many people on the floor.  One man found a perch sleeping right along the window railing. It was quite a view and I almost wanted to do the same.  I was thinking I might be too tired and miss my flight, but I have not been too tired to wake up every hour this entire trip.  
You get more security coming to the US from England.

Thursday September 7th, 2017
Hiked 6.2 miles

2:43 pm

Seatbelt sign is on but no one cares.
I feel safe en-route to Moscow.  Before we took off I thought it was a bit cold so I covered up with my sweater.  I was pleased to see the flight attendant noticed and brought me a blanket. 

Hong kong appeared to me to be a very old, very large, very busy port city. You could see evidence of the East Indian Trading company out all the windows of the airport.  From edge to edge the island looks like docks and large warehouses.  I am amazed by how many sea fork-lifts are bobbing out in the ocean. The airport had people from everywhere in the world.  I noticed people from every country.  English was everywhere and that was not a problem. 

Wednesday September 6th, 2017
Hiked 6.4 miles

3:00 am

Seoul International Airport

Apparently the Olympics will be here next year.
I don't remember how much sleep I got on the way here, but it was not much. The Airline that took me here is an emerging discount airline from Asia.  There slogan is, "Now everyone can fly extra long." There were no electric outlets of any kind, no TV, no extras at all.  Just seats.  Plenty of leg room though.  It must be tedious for the flight attendants to do their safety check in Thai, Korean, and English. As soon as the wheels touched down I heard rapid unclinking of seat belts.  Even people getting up and getting their things together while we were still rolling on the taxiway.

Tuesday September 5th, 2017
Hiked 3.1 miles

6:56 am

A very clean, new, and trendy hostel lobby.
Just thirty minutes ago I woke up and left my room so the other guest can sleep. I only met one, James, briefly.  He was in his 20's and rode down from Bangkok on his moped. He was excited to know where the beach was at. It is incredibly humid and warm here.  I am watching two mosquitos trying to bite my ankles and am glad I am wearing long pants. Last night I was awoken at 10 pm by a muslim prayer.  It is quite startling to hear such booming from a deep sleep. At 4 am I heard a torrential downpour beating the metal roof.  I woke up and tried to look outside to see if my shoes were still there. The patio was covered but it was raining very hard.  I woke up again at 5am for another very loud prayer on the loudspeaker. I am trying to figure out where it is coming from and I can not see it.  From the sounds of it I would have thought it was right outside my window.
Lots of trash on the beach in the morning.

Monday September 4th, 2017
Hiked 4.1 miles
The ATM that stole my money.

10:19 am

I am back at that great coffee shop I came to yesterday.  I ordered the iced coffee because I was particularly hot after walking all over the place.

I have learned that you can lose your money in a million ways in Thailand.  One is to simply go to an ATM.  An ATM that gives you a 1000 bhat bill with four cigarette burns on it across the image of the king.  I did not give it too much mind as in our country as long as you have most of the bill you can get your change.

After the bill came at dinner I left that 1000 bhat bill with the check.  I saw them all gathering around the cashier.  I was surprised how many people worked there.  I thought it was just two, but now there are at least five or six all looking at the bill and pointing at me.   I can not make out what they are saying, but this bill obviously was bringing bad luck.   I motioned for them to give it back to me and I gave them a 500 bhat bill that was nice and crisp.  They bowed in thanks and appeared eternally grateful that I relieved them of my curse.

Sunday September 3rd, 2017
Hiked 6.5 miles

11:00 am

The beach is beautiful, but the sand as dirty as ash tray sand.
This morning I showered and checked out pretty quickly this morning.  My first stop was 7/11 where I grabbed a cold coffee.  I was hot after spending all night refrigerated. I walked over to the pier and watched the boats.  I saw a local getting his long-tail boat ready for a long day. He jumped up on the stern by stepping onto the anchor ropes first.  In his hand he carried a gallon oil container with a very dark oil in it.  He walked to the shaft of his propeller and poured the oil down the shaft where it ran right out the other end and onto the beach water.  I am not sure how bad that is for the environment, but it made me feel better about my old 2 cycle outboard motor.
Saturday September 2nd, 2017
Hiked 3.3 miles

5:49 am

Bangkok International Airport - Domestic Terminal

Nok airlines makes their planes look like birds.
I am getting ready to board my plane to Phuket.  The cab driver was at my hotel right on time. I arrived at the airport just as Amy said.  Every envelope seemed to explain that my passage was paid in full already and I was free to pass.  I pulled out the envelope this morning and what looked like a blank receipt with a small pen mark was enough to get me first class, personal, service to the airport. I have had a nice visit, until this morning in line for my long anticipated Thai Latte with the foam design that I saw in the picture, and that Mr Terry told me about in Hawaii.  It sounded wonderful.

Friday September 1st, 2017
Hiked 5.7 miles

5:23 am

Any picture you take here is magical. 
So I fell asleep very early last night. I woke up about an hour ago, took a shower, and came down to the lobby to see what Bangkok looks like in the wee hours of the morning. I walked outside to see almost everything was locked up tight.  There were very few commuters going to work.  They seemed to have the entire road to themselves. Sporadically shops are starting to open.  I saw one woman walking down the street with bags of produce.  I came back to see some trendy American music videos on the large ceiling mounted TV, it was familiarly comforting.

The receptionist has just told me that I am welcome to eat my breakfast early since it is already laid out.

I am sitting in front of a tourist safe, nutritious, and quality fresh breakfast.

Thursday August 31st, 2017
Hiked 5 miles

3:00 am

Well I made it to Bangkok. Checked into the Great Residence Inn, and am laying on a fairly soft mattress in an air conditioned room.  It appears slightly dated, but well taken care of.  Some items had slight damage to them, but were clean.

So when I got off the plane I had no idea what to do so I went with the flow.  The flow eventually opened up to a well lit, very clean, open terminal with bright fluorescent colored lights presenting a tropical feel. It felt bright and welcoming.  There were plants in the secure immigration area.  It was relaxing and felt peaceful. I got in line with Montana when we were reminded by the official in line that our arrival cards need to be completely filled out.  I had left off my signature and Montana left off where he would be staying because he was an awesome backpacker going with the flow.  

I offered the address of my hotel to Montana and lent him my pen.  A pen is valuable to have when traveling. I signed my card and we proceeded easily through immigration.  No one was worried about us and we felt they trusted us. As I stood by the curb, checking out transportation cost to the hotel, I realized that when I thought I would stroll the few miles to the nearest airport hotel that I had no idea how tired I would be, or that most of the sidewalks and streets happened to be flooded from the those thunderheads full of lightning we just flew through.  They were warm torrential shower heads that had just cleaned every street in Bangkok. 

I stood in the very warm humid air by the curb where all the taxi's were waiting patiently. I liked how the very large structure adjacent the terminals was lit up in bright, but very subtle and classy purple. My phone connected easily to data and I was looking for a car service.  Montana came up while I was looking for an Uber and had no idea where to go so I suggested he can stay at my hotel with me as I have two beds in the room.  He accepts and we climb into the Uber.  The driver is playing some Johnny Cash music but does not speak English much. I sat in the front seat and was pleased that this older car was taken so well care of and smelled of a lavender air freshener stuck in the vent. 

The streets had an unusually dark appearance to them.  Everything was soaked and not a single person was on the street or sidewalk.  It was a long desolate raised road from the Airport.  It would have been an adventure all in it's self to have hiked, but we both were exhausted from our trip. 

The Uber driver exited the highway and we drive down an unfamiliar exit on the opposite side of the road than we were used to. At the bottom of the ramp, the raised highway continued on and dripped over a darkness that completely enveloped the shadows. There was one ultra bright bluish light shining on a pole that left ripples in the landscape of water that consumed the road in front of us.  To our right was an abandoned car 3 foot deep in water.  The driver makes a grunt as his car enters the water and he hits what sounds like a decent pothole. He slows way down and I can clearly see a wake halfway up the door on the car.  The driver is very attentive with his American cowboy music playing softly. We pull up to a very large rectangle shaped building that we can see is our hotel by the large red lights on the top. The rooms all look empty with the lights off.  I think maybe that is because everyone is sleeping. 

Busy intersection near Khao San Road.
The red lights reflected down the entire long building,  There were no other lights, except a porch light by the dimly lit lobby. We pulled up close to the front door, thanked our driver, and instantaneously were greeted by the doorman, wearing that Thai smile we heard about. He welcomed us into the office where the manager was standing proudly as if he was awaiting our arrival right there at attention. He ask about my reservation.  He spoke good English too, I was surprised.  He didn't smile as much as the doorman, he was a bit more stern. 

$2.17 Original Uber Fee with tip on app.
$6.89 Uber ADJ help.uber.com additional charge on my account. (I don't know what this is, but the guy deserved an adjustment for using his car as a boat.)
$9.06 Total

I explained in my plain American english that I had reservations for tomorrow night, and not the current morning, but wanted to know if it was possible that I could check in early for tonight since we were both very tired.  I stopped there, but in my mind continued. "Besides we are stuck here, and unless we want to swim in whatever is flowing down the street and is creating potholes in the road. We are either going to sleep in your lobby or a room."

Wednesday August 30th, 2017
Hiked only 1 mile traveled thousands.

11:57 pm

I am beginning to feel illiterate.
Our plane arrived as on time, but I was surprised to hear the unclinking of seat belts long before the seat belt sign was turned off.

As we came in through immigration everyone lined up with the speed of school children going to recess. It was subtle, the differences are slight, but if it happened like that in our country people would think something was wrong. I stood around and looked at the Chinese writing. I noticed that almost a quarter of the people standing in line happened to know someone that was approaching and would let them cut in. I didn't think much of it  I thought maybe more families are traveling here. You can go through customs with your family. Even as I step in my first foreign country I realized I was overwhelmed with slight differences everywhere.

I write this as I am leaving China. I knew everyone was watching me and didn't feel comfortable writing a novel in the middle of the airport. I did not see a lot of visible cameras, but I could feel I was watched just because I was different.   I felt like the elephant in the room. I was different than everyone.  This particular airport in China has only recently allowed international travel through as soon as 2 years ago so I am suddenly completely engulfed in China. I may have been the first white man some have seen.  I saw men and women looking at me all very different.

The immigration officer stamped my passport for visa and not Transit visa so she called a supervisor who came over and escorted me to a bench outside an office where about 12 others stood waiting on some special circumstance or another. The immigration officers wore very decorated military style uniforms that had stars on their collars and all either had 1 to 4 stars to show their rank.  I got lost trying to establish the rank because everyone was doing their job with serious confidence.  It did not look like a place to tell a joke.  I think you can smile, but few are going to return it. 

I stood over to the side because I figured that with all these people standing by that office my passport just disappeared into, I would be here a good hour of my visit. That officer that proudly carried my passport away walked with a very swift purpose.  He walked right into what appeared to be a brightly lit bathroom sized office with a speed I felt most have carried him right through the opposite wall. 

He came out and broke through all the waiting citizens of somewhere and approached me with my passport in hand and said, "Ok.. you go."

I guess they had a higher ranking stamp in there that had to approve that the mistake had no fault, and was simply an accident.  I opened my passport to make out a stamp that said Cancelled over another that said "Permitted to stay in China." 
Stamped under that was "Temporary Entry Permit" with an entrance stamp. 

I continued out to the main terminal.  I walked to the street and noticed the slight differences in automobiles and traffic, taxi's, and the weather.  It felt kind of like Chicago outside. Somewhat arid with cold water. 

I walked back in and realized the building was hardly different from any terminal here.  The only real difference is the 8 or so Chinese flags all hanging around the large square ticket terminal which resembled a basketball gym. It was new, built within the last few years and looked just as clean as any airport does.  I would have taken pictures, but was brand new to an area that I was obviously brand new too. I did not want to be questioned because I noticed that in this airport there are very few, if anyone with headphones on, or glued to a phone. I did not see anyone taking pictures and I did not want to be disrespectful. It would be rude for the animals in the zoo to study the masses, they all must act normal.

No one was sitting on the floor.  For 2 hours in that busy terminal I watched and no one ever sat on the floor. They must have been tired.  I was.  Sleeping on the flight proved to need some practice.  I only got a few hours.  I sat down on the floor near a corner that was public enough I didn't look like I was hiding.  I got my phone out and was about to watch some TV.  I didn't.  I looked around to see any reaction from anyone to me sitting on the floor.  No one seems to care, yet none of them are going to do it. Am I the first one ever to sit on the floor in that airport?  People were sitting on the few inches of ledge that surrounded x-ray scanners that were not in use, but I was the only one with my butt on the ground.  

I thought. Maybe the bathrooms are disgusting and no one wants to sit where their feet trample.  That made sense to me, but I could not tell if others were envious or disgusted by me.  They seemed to go about making no ones business of their own. 

At one point a man was walking his baby around the terminal.  She must have been just old enough to walk and had a pacifier in her mouth.  Her father held her hands on a finger each and she walked right over to me and smiled.  I smiled at her.  Then her father smiled at me.  We exchanged short mumbled greetings.  Mine in English and his in Chinese. Neither understood each other but we still smiled and had not offended each other.  Eventually the young child saw enough of the bearded man exhibit and wandered off with her dad in tow. 

Alternating between corners I moved a few times, watched people pass, walked around the terminal, and observed for a few hours. About a half hour before my ticket window opened so I could check in, I found a seat near the only other American I could spot for miles. I sat down and noticed he had been trying to communicate with a local who happened to speak some broken English. 

I introduced myself, "You speak english."

"Yea.", he replied

He is half my age and works as a first responder at a ski resort near Big Sky Montana.  He couldn't have been more American and was a good deal taller than me. We talked for a few moments and were both heading to Bangkok on our first solo international expeditions. We didn't actually talk as much as I thought I would.  I was tired and after my new friend and I got our boarding passes we parted.  

I saw Montana once again.  Somehow he was 15 people in front of me in the priority immigration line.  I did not know it was the priority line at first.  It wasn't until a group of 15 chinese cut in line right in front of me.  I was the last one in the line.  The lady right in front of me waved for her approaching friends to join her.  They all filed in right in front of me, it pushed me backwards several feet.  None of them looked at me.  They all faced away from me as I was nudged by alternating sides and elbows backwards.  Once I started walking I might as well have turned around and gave up.  At least that is what it felt like, but no one seemed to show me any sign of care. 

That is when I looked up and noticed it was the priority line.  Big Montana was already 30 people ahead of me and I am pretty sure we are not special.  I see that the normal line to my left is actually shorter anyway.  They must have just changed the signs.  I walk over to the next line and stand a conservative American distance of about a yard of the man in front of me.  I guess someone thought I was just standing in the way of the end of the line cause they just filled the gap.  I closed the gap and was standing no more than a few inches away from the man in front of me.  As the line inched forward another dressed up and important looking Chinese man in a suit stood besides me in line. He placed his rolling carryon in front of him and nudged it forward just ahead of him and I.  He nudged it toward the line in front of me slightly. Then I felt someone nudge or tug at my backpack.  Everyone stands so close together you would probably actually never know. I suppose that explains why I see so many walking around with their backpacks in front of them.  It looks like a huge belly and it makes people walk around leaning backwards.  

So I turn to the side casually and glance at the man next to me, his bag, and whoever was behind me.  I smiled and turned back around. No one else cut in front of me before I got my exit stamp and on to the gate. 

I got to the gate and every seat was filled, the entire hall was packed with travelers. I found an open seat and sat down.  On my way to this seat an older Chinese citizen glared at me with a hate that transcended our cultures.  I was happy to be standing in an airport with a layer of security and public witnesses to stand between this individual and me.  He watched me with some perception, some history, or prejudices that meant no good to me, and he would probably only be able to explain with his fist.  I felt that this one man,  this one man in all of these thousands of respectful Chinese does not like me, but I was sure glad this man and myself had not met alone in an alley. It only takes one man to hate you in the wrong place to do some damage.

Montana made his way over to me and sat for a few then wandered off. When they announced the flight was boarding everyone seemed to rise at once.  It was immediate and my observation already set me at the back of the line, so I just continued to sit and watch people board. 

At the boarding gate there were two men with very professional and expensive looking cameras.  They have official badges hanging from their necks or jacket and yellow safety vest on.  They are standing next to the gate and taking pictures of everyone as they scan their boarding pass. Most people only got one or two photos from one or both directions.  There was a photographer behind the line and one on the opposite side or priority lane. 

When I handed the lady my boarding pass all suspicions that I was different were suddenly confirmed.  Both photographers lit me up like the paparazzi.  It was a shower of strobes as I saw the ticket agent hand me my passport back in flashes. I walked outside and stood in the bus that would take me to the plane and watched as Montana got the paparazzi treatment as well. He got on the bus next to me.  I said, "We must be famous." He laughed as we watched out the window at the rest of the passengers only getting one photo each.  We both were slightly relieved when we saw one more man get lit up by the photographers.  He was carrying a large bouquet of flowers and appeared to be pushing someone in a wheel chair.  I wondered if we would be famous. I wonder if I will be the poster American for tourism in China?

When our bus got to the gate we all piled out and walked with a purpose to the plane as if it was leaving without the passengers.  I get to the ramp and suddenly I am stopped.  There is a funnel of short Chinese clamoring to get on the plane.  They are not just pushing me, but the poor flight attendant trying to take our boarding passes.  She keeps getting her balance by leaning on the rail. I only got on the plane because I made little baby steps forward and am large. Once we were all on the plane I was amazed at what you can learn on such a short trip to a foreign country. 

Now it is late.  I am tired.  Going to try and sleep.

Taking the BART to SFO is easy. It goes right into the
terminal and long term BART parking is cheaper than other
options, free on the weekends as well.
Tuesday August 29th, 2017
Hiked 2.9 miles

4:57 PM

I am less than halfway done with this flight and I feel like have so much time to kill. I am hoping I get get some sleep this evening, at least for a little while. I aired up my neck pillow and it seems like it may work well. We will have to see.

So far I am impressed with Southwest China Airlines. They served me a full dinner free of charge, and a glass of wine, even a refill of wine and it was completely free. The large plane looks fairly new and they have an entertainment system full of Chinese movie titles. I watched one Chinese movie about a man who goes to have his memories erased, then tries to reverse it and gets someone else's memories. You would be surprised how much drama that ensues when you mess with shit like that. It was a very deep movie. I tried to watch a few other movies, but none caught my interest. I am not sure that it is the 5 hours I have already been flying that is making me tired, or the thought that I still have 9 hours to go. Luckily there are just enough bathrooms so a line does not build up. I see a lot of Asian people on this flight. I notice many speak little English.

I thought it was pretty neat that the flight attendant gave the safety demonstration in both English and Chinese. Now I am ready to get some rest, maybe a short nap.

10:35 pm

I am doing the math and I underestimated the length of this trans-pacific flight. I am surprised by the flight path that goes straight up to Alaska then down straight over North Korea. I have been able to sleep a little bit with my neck pillow, and feel confident that I should be well rested to see China.
I had my last American Bacon Cheeseburger for 15 days. 
Monday August 28th, 2017
Hiked 4.9 miles

1:45 pm

Union Square has lots of foreign tourist doing
exactly what I am doing in this pic. 
Well I made it to San Fran.  I am rather tired this afternoon.  Last night I couldn't sleep so I turned on my Waze app to see what the traffic would be like. I decided I would go ahead and get an early start so I took off at about 3am and made it to the Castro Valley BART station long term parking lot at 6 am. I took a 3 hour nap in my vehicle, then I hopped on the BART to the Powell street station stop in San Fransisco and walked to Union Square where I am watching people.

I wonder while I watch them how many are tourist. Tourist here seem to be so happy with everything around them. Like the Asians taking pictures with pigeons, or the Euro looking couple with tight pants taking pictures of the statues and monuments.

I wonder what to do next. This is what my whole trip is going to consist of. For the next 15 days I will be living out of my backpack. It is like jumping into cold water. You wonder if it was the best decision shortly after hitting the water. Once you warm up to it, you are quite sure it was the right decision. I hope.

I hear every man say he likes long walks on the beach, but I have walked a lot of beaches and see
Where I am leaving my vehicle for 15 days.
Castro Valley BART Station.
very few men. I wonder if that is because the sea swallows them up, or because men lie about walking the beaches. I am fascinated with the old spiritual journey called the walkabout. I love to walk and find it is the most scenic mode of transportation, and more social as well. I don't have enough resources to walk around the whole world.  That would take a year I bet. I plan on a goal of 6 miles a day, but I would love to do 8.

I still need to go get shower shoes. I suppose I could walk around and find some. I may want a shower tonight, or the morning.

I have no clue what to do first. That silence while I watch everyone going about their business along with that feeling that tells you, you ought to find something to do. Watching everyone doing things makes me want to do something too. The difference between the locals faces and the tourist are the locals look busy and asleep, the tourist look like they are dreaming.

Well I am going to log off for now. Watch people instead of type. I will have time for that once I check into my hostel.

The BART goes right into SFO from anywhere in the Bay Area. 


Sunday August 27th, 2017
Hiked 3.9 miles

10:09 pm

My itinerary was easy to understand and helped document
my journey on two pieces of paper. Kiwi.com
Well I am laying in my bed with my new bluetooth keyboard connected to my phone. For ease and lightweight travel I am opting to leave my laptop home and use my phone only this trip.

I decided it is wise to wait until I return home before I post anything on this trip. If only to pay attention to the moment, lest I get distracted and post something foolishly offending people when I only want to show respect. I need to understand. I am not as interested in seeing the sites as the people. I want to see people around the world. Really that is all I expect. I expect to see people just as us, similarities, and differences. It will be enlightening. I am excited to travel alone as it exposes me to interact with people. I expect I will just make short notes on here. I am not going in secret, or surprise, just not advertised. Most Americans I know have little experience with this, and I dread their opinion. Only those close to me know of it so they may be on the lookout for my return. It is kind of hard to sleep before a long journey. I doubt the wisdom in the planning of the trip. Planning that I did so quickly I can not remember if it was thorough.

So I HAVE to trust myself. Tomorrow I will be at the Castro Valley Bart before 10am to be guaranteed a spot. I have no plans for the evening. I will check into the hostel and enjoy a tasty beverage of sorts. Then I will have something very American before I go. Tues I will wake up and make my way to the airport via the BART. I will get on a, what appears now to be a 14hr leg. I will land in Wuhan China. It is new to allowing visitors, as new as 2015, and I will only be there a short time on a layover on the way to Bangkok Thailand. I reserved, in Bangkok, a three star hotel for the night after my arrival. My plane is going to land in the early morning so I don't want to reserve a hotel for the arrival of my trip.

We will see how that works out. My trip to Hawaii in July was tiring after 10 days. By twelve days, I was so happy to go back home, I felt like it was a new vacation. The return trip from Hawaii was brutal and I was beaten emotionally and physically from delays and missed connections that I am kind of surprised I am going to do this. In fact it will mark the end of my retirement and when I return I will be out of money and in need of a new job. I have seen some emails regarding available jobs from head hunters in my inbox, but am too distracted running this trip over in my head to worry about that until I get back.

So early tomorrow morning I will drive to San Francisco to visit one of our very own famous metropolis before heading out overseas. My plane to China leaves the next day.

Tonight I need to scan copies of my passport to Google drive, as well as my Drivers License and Bank Card in case they go missing. Earlier I printed out a hard copy of my ticket information in case my phone gets destroyed, goes missing, or the battery dies writing about my trip. I keep taking a break to Google things last minute to make sure I am good to go. Things like Visa requirements for all the countries I plan to visit and whether I am going to get Shanghaied in Hong Kong because Moscow won't let me pass through. I could have easily avoided Moscow, but I want to see our far eastern or western friends in the "Red" state, if only for a short while.

My bag is packed, checked, and double checked. Most important inventory is wallet/phone and passport. Everything else can be replaced along the way. I took out my sweater, rolled it up nice, and stuck it in my backpack so I could easily put it on, relieving pressure on my bag, if does not fit under some seats. I am going to try and keep my bag with me at all times.

All entries will be posted 2 weeks after they happened.

✅  Day 0 - Night Before Departure - August 27th, 2017
✅  Day 1 - San Francisco, USA - August 28th, 2017
✅  Day 2 - Flight to China - August 29th, 2017
✅  Day 3 - Wake up in Wuhan - August 30th, 2017
✅  Day 4 - Welcome to Thailand - Land of Smiles - August 31st, 2017
✅  Day 5 - Ayutthaya - September 1st, 2017
✅  Day 6 - Phi Phi by way of Phuket - September 2nd, 2017
✅  Day 7 - Done with Phi phi - September 3rd, 2017
✅  Day 8 - Criminal Abroad - September 4th, 2017
✅  Day 9 - Muslim Experience - September 5th, 2017
✅  Day 10 - Korea Day - September 6th, 2017
✅  Day 11 - Hong Kong - September 7th, 2017
✅  Day 12 - London - September 8th, 2017
✅  Day 13 - Irish History Day - September 9th, 2017
✅  Day 14 - Pub and Ale Day - September 10th, 2017
✅  Day 15 - Thinking of Home - September 11th, 2017
✅  Day 16 - The cold passage o'r the North Pole - September 12th, 2017
✅  Day 17 - Post Thoughts and Memories - September 13th, 2017

August 26th, 2017 

4:27 pm

So... two weeks ago I ordered a world trip online at Kiwi.com.

It started out as simply a trip to Thailand.  I became curious about this exotic place after I had discussed it in great detail during my July trip to Hawaii to my roommate Terry. He was an American with 15 years experience living and working in Thailand.

Terry was an older gentleman who was passing through Waikiki at the same time to spend his holiday returning from the mainland on business. We shared a few days checking out the tourist route of Honolulu. He told me endless stories of Thailand and the people there, their customs, legal, and religious aspects of the culture.  I pictured something that I knew I must see. I must fill in the blanks in my my mind.

I learned it is best to write about things as you do them so instead of spending hours trying to recount all the events, I am keeping a journal.  I will of course fill in some blanks while I can remember them as I won't always have a keyboard in my hand.

This trip I have very few and specific goals. There are things in my American perception that I need to know are worth it. I feel I might be spoiled in ways as an American. I need to see people doing things, speaking, eating, working, praying, everything we normally do everyday, and I want to see them in their home, doing it their way. I want to listen and look them in the eyes.  I want to feel their fears, doubts, cares, values, and in their atmosphere - to really understand the similarities. For this I need to go alone.  Nobody can be invited.  I need to remain as a fly on the wall and take it all in. I am going to listen to how they talk to others and how they respond to me as a foreigner.

My attitude is to be as respectful as possible in each culture, smile, and attempt to talk to anyone I can. When I can't understand I will watch their body language, and that will teach me more than words. I figure smiling is a pretty universal way to show you are not a threat. Even a smile, though, can also be a seen as a weakness, naivety, foolishness, or even contempt and disrespect.

Activities

  • Read and watch local TV and newspapers
  • Take pictures along tourist route when appropriate and respectful
  • Find specific items (gets you looking at things) like shower shoes
  • Pay attention to kitchen, service attitudes, cleanliness, and stock rotation.
  • Eat where many people of all ages are eating
  • Avoid local yogurts, milk, or unpeeled fruits
  • Watch locals interaction with tourist
  • Try to blend in
  • Show more respect than the average tourist
  • Attempt to use Google translate to get around
  • Keep a travel journal
  • Eat small quantities and often
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Collect currency for family gifts
  • Observe everything
  • Document my activities in a journal
  • Track my walking adventures with GPS.

Long trip medium pace

This is a 15 day trip so I plan long layovers in places that I can not easily and quickly get a visa. (You can have up to a 24 hour transit visa.) I made reservations for hotels and hostels sporadically throughout my trip. Like most backpackers, I figure I will spend a few nights going with the flow, but I also want to be assured I have a few reservations to rely on.  Most of my sleep I am allocating toward flight time.  I am not worried because I only plan to use public transportation, so being too tired to drive is not a concern.

After pricing trips to Thailand for $700 for a week, I wondered about making another stop in Korea.  That was only $1,100.  Then I wondered what it would be like to go all the way around the world.  I picked Ireland as my direction of flight because I had traced my genealogy to that point, and got stuck.  I figured I would spend some time their trying to find my ancestors. The entire flight package was about $1,600.  Then I decided I could use that 24 hr transit visa to visit places that I might otherwise not have enough time to apply for a visa to enter.

I planned 4 days in Thailand, 2 days in Seoul, South Korea, and 4 days in Dublin, Ireland.

By the time I got lots of layovers, as long as possible, I ended up having 10 flights. It cost me more to get so many transfers, but still only came out to $1,700.

So I will spend

  • 24 hrs in San Francisco
  • 14 hrs in the air with China Southern Airlines - big plane
  • 4 hrs in Wuhan China
  • 3 hrs in the air with China Southern Airlines - domestic plane
  • Land in Bangkok
  • Plan as I go to Phuket in 4 days to fly out
  • 1.5 hr in the air with Nok Air
  • 2 hrs in Bangkok
  • 5hr 25 min in the air with Thai AirAsia X
  • 1.5 days in Seoul, South Korea.
  • 3 hrs 40 min in the air with Hong Kong Express Airways
  • 4.5 hrs in Hong Kong
  • 10 hrs in the air with Aeroflot Russian Airlines
  • 3 hrs in Moscow, Russia
  • 4 hrs in the Air with Aeroflot Russian Airlines
  • 9 hrs in London, England
  • 1.5 hour in the air with Aer Lingus
  • 4 nights in Dublin, Ireland
  • 3 hrs in the air with WOW air
  • 5 hrs in Reykjavik, Iceland
  • 9 hrs in the air with WOW air
  • Returning to San Fransisco

Packing Light.. very light.

I am traveling very light.  So light that everything I carry will fit nicely into the very small personal item space they allow you.  This sometimes varies, generally it needs to be under 20 lbs and the size of a purse or school backpack.  Anything bigger and they might get you with a hefty checked cabin baggage fee up to $40 US.

I packed 4 wearable outfits of layers.  My clothing filled 50% of my pack,  health and hygiene 20%,  15% survival, and 10% tech.

50% Clothes

  • 4 pair underwear
  • 4 socks
  • lightweight swim /sleep shorts
  • 1 sleep shirt
  • 2 shorts
  • 1 light twill pants
  • 2 button up silk shirts
  • 1 heavy sweater
  • cotton hat for sun
  • neck wrap (works for light too, sleeping on the go)


20% Health and Hygiene

  • 1 bar soap
  • toothbrush
  • small toothpaste tub
  • body scrub cloth
  • medium microfiber camp towel
  • safety razor (for shaving)
  • sunscreen
  • hand sanitizer
  • salt and pepper

15% survival

  • military poncho (waterproof and can be used as makeshift tent)
  • nice hip belt for backpack (if you plan to walk a lot, I planned 5 miles a day)
  • bandages
  • neosporin
  • meletonin
  • ecxedrin
  • vitamins
  • latex gloves
  • gauze
  • gorilla tape
  • medical tape
  • clothing glue
  • 550 cord
  • pocket knife (very small)
  • padlock (for hostel lockers)
  • 2 needles
  • polyester thread
  • pen (customs forms)

10% tech

  • iClever blutooth android keyboard
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 with wallet case and AT&T international wireless plan.
  • long charger cord
  • universal international outlet adapter with 6000 mah battery pack
  • bluetooth wireless headphones
  • classic corded apple headphones
  • pair of shoes, sandals that were good for walking.
  • passport
  • sunglasses
  • shine 2 (fitness and sleep monitor)
Below are many of the items I purchased for this trip.  Everyone was well worth it and worked well.  Except for the neck pillow.  It worked as good as any, but I prefer a rolled up sweater.