Welcome to the ‘Lono Travel Thai-aries®’**
In each piece, (of which I imagine 10 to 15 of in the coming months) I will ask everyone to start here. I just want to explain some things and set some ground rules to make this a better experience for both of us.
My background – I am somewhere in my lower 40’s, from Denver, CO, and recently spent a couple of weeks traveling in SouthEast Asia with the awesome wifey. It was an AMAZING and powerful experience. Like all good travel, it taught me more about myself and my own culture. I had to write about it. For me, the way I process things is to write. Writing, to me, is like breathing. I am going to document my adventures and observations regardless. Normally, this would just go in a personal journal to be recorded and likely never looked at again. BUT… I get a lot of positive feedback about my writing.. So, I decided to share these observations with you.
I took over 1400 pictures with my awesome cell phone camera in those two weeks. It’s a Samsung Galaxy S5 with an 18 megapixel camera. It’s a really, really nice phone camera. Much nicer than my actual and proper digital camera (which is ten years old). In almost all occasions, the pictures you will see were taken by me. In fact, odds are there will be a whole piece just on my phone and my experience with it.
In the coming pieces, please understand my ‘style’. I speak in wide-ranging and sweeping generalities. You could almost call it stereotypes. These essays are not meant to be even-handed or even fair. If you want objective information, go to Wikipedia. What I am sharing is my experiences through my totally subjective background. I have been around Europe a bit, but this was my first time to anywhere in Asia.
I may say something like ‘you can tell which tourists are Japanese, because they are the one with cameras’. That may sound jokey or dismissive, but it is actually quite thoughtful. Almost everyone these days has and uses a cell phone camera. Most of our cell phone cameras are nicer than our proper digital cameras. Interestingly, though, the Japanese still carry nice (and very big) 35mm cameras. A few days after I noticed this, I got the courage to ask our guide about it. I was terrified of sounding racist or flippant (not sure which is worse). He said I was spot on with my observation, and found it pretty funny. Our guide is a guy who spends 5 days a week year round going to tourist places. So, if he sees it and agrees with it, that is good enough for me.
The problem with my style of writing is that I won’t usually go that far to explain. In the interest of expediency and storytelling, I will likely just say ‘Japanese are the ones with actual cameras’. You will just have to understand and have faith that there was more to this observation that what is on the surface.
I will likely say something that just sounds pissy and ethnocentric like “Chinese people eat the weirdest shit. These people are disgusting”. That may sound mean and shallow. However, I went to a LOT of markets and talked to a LOT of people… and it’s true. So much so that I could look around in the stalls and stands and say to my guide “we are in the Chinese part now, aren’t we?” Seriously, Chinese people eat the weirdest shit. Ask anyone in Asia who isn’t Chinese. This isn’t a judgement, it is an observation. Keep that in mind that with everything. I’ll be writing about that (the Chinese food thing, not the semantics thing), with plenty of photos and anecdotes to amuse and educate.
Please do leave comments. Maybe from your own stories, or maybe to be critical of me. I have NEVER deleted a comment because it was critical of me. In fact, I prefer them. It humbles me, and forces me to dig deeper as a writer. I only ask that you be specific and thoughtful with your criticisms. Don’t say “you are a dumbass and a racist”. Be specific and tell me why I am wrong. Also, feel free to share the links or pictures or whatever. Hell, take my name off the pieces and put your name in and sell it as a book. I just want it read. Sound crazy? Where do you think Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas came from? Think that crazed drug addicted dead nut job Thompson had the presence of mind to string together a single sentence?
Point being, please excuse me for the constant sweeping generalizations, and we’ll both have a lot more fun. Every place and culture I visited, we had absolutely fallen in love with all the people. So, there is no axe to grind. These subsequent pieces are simply my love letters to Asia
** regarding the registered trademark symbol above. Here is the deal; I totally invented that word ‘Thai-aries’. It is just a smooshing together the words ‘Thailand’ and ‘Diaries’. I googled and checked and see no instance of that word being used. So, it’s mine now. I pretty sure that is how patent and copyright protection works. To be sure, I contacted an old family friend who spent 30 years in the patent office in Washington DC to ask him if this was sufficient enough to file claim on the new word. He wrote back saying
What are you talking about? You can’t just invent words, and you certainly can’t just patent them and own them. Even if you could, that involves thousands of dollars and a several year process. Just making up words and sticking an ® at the end isn’t exactly legally binding. You are an idiot. Just to destroy another language, and stop calling my house. Seriously, just leave my family alone – Nathan Thurm
and finally – this: I am far too wordy. I know it, and I struggle with it. Each piece is meant to be brief, but they are hitting a thousand words each. I am sorry. I am not, however, brief. I really do edit down a lot. Imagine the first time you saw Las Vegas at night, or NYC, or ate 3 hits of micro blotter at Disneyland. Try and put that into words. You can’t, but I can. At least, I try with some success. Here is what happens in my writing process. I write about 40% more than you end of seeing. I always over-write, and then edit down. Generally, once I have finished a piece I can go back in a month later and cut another 25%. In your interest, that would be the best thing for me to do. THEN publish it. Here is the thing, though, I am so excited to share these stories and adventures I just can’t wait that long to share. What if I die tomorrow, and I never got to tell you about shitting in a hole in the ground, and no TP.
that was long and unnecessary. Ironic, isn’t it. Just skip all that nonsense above. Especially the part about Disneyland. Never happened. Cool?
If I were reading these, I would paste a few of the articles into a Word doc, then print it (at work, of course), and read it on the loo.
*** crap, he used my real name. Someone edit that out, please.
Ed: I can do a strike through, will that be sufficient?
me: No, you jackass. They can still see the name even with the strike through. Don’t believe me? Read this:
I just fired my useless fucking editor.