ON THE WRITE PATH: travel journal for Around-the-World in 2015, 16, 18.
For there are many paths.
A tlog. A travel blog. A keeping-track of my trials, er.. travels.
February 26, 2015 until ... June 18,2015.
January 12, 2016 until February 15, 2016.
November 13 to 30 2018 ... 2019,
I went nowhere in 2021.
2022: Portugal, Thailand.
Will include: Hawai'i, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Untied Arab Emirates, Portugal, Norway, Ireland and... (2015) ... Norway and Estonia (2016), México (2018), Taiwan, Balkans, Baltics, Turkey, Costa Rica, Nicaragua.
Vi får se.
"Where I have traveled, stayed and visited. Over 181 places."
|We all get things wrong, even about our own life. How does Maya Angelou's quote "“Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” apply to your writing process?
How to be factual? Write what you know about.
But what about fantasy? Are you quoting Trump or Q?
I'm in Thailand. Observations help; but, there's still other's point's-of-view. As Rick reminded me today about local workers using branches on the windshield to screen the sun: a sunscreen is cheap and not sticky and less messy. Then again... Rick smirked... it was a beat up truck.
So I wrote this "poem" with the prompts: goat/island/comb from "EXPRESS IT IN EIGHT"
They climb trees. They eat fruit,
s*** and spit the nuts,
that we collect, that we press
into argan oil put on your face.
Rake the ground then comb your hair.
No woman's an atoll when goats
must be tended; no man's a reef
where women tend to them.
Kåre Enga [180.48] (29.mai.2023)
"In Sousse-Massa [180.48] ((8))"
I explained myself to Solace.Bring The women of this region of Morocco have formed cooperatives. This is their source of money, not controlled by men. This region is Muslim. Gender roles may be strict. I intended to visit Morocco in Spring, 2020 but cancelled my tickets.
It may seem misogynistic to Westerners, but this is NOT a westernized culture. It's agricultural and traditional. I write from the women's point of view. Whether that makes any sense to them I don't know. I'll have to ask Moroccans. Much may depend on the age of the gatherers and workers. Argan oil is very expensive and a good income for the region.
It's tricky when looking at a culture from the outside. Hollywood Cowboy and Indian movies come to mind. The "Taming of the West" was a specific time in America, around 1880. Hollywood glorified it from the victor's point-of-view. The reality was messier. The Crow, Salish, Blackfeet... have their own understanding of what happened and it's effects on generations since.
Similarly, the US Civil War was short 1861-1865, although it really started with the Compromise of 1850 and lasted until 1870 when Georgia was readmitted. It has been glorified in the minds of many people since and appropriated to stand for opposition and threatened succession.
An outside view has limitations, as does an insider p.o.v. When one sees something from a distance, details may be ignored and intentions may be misconstrued. From the inside, there's the danger of myopia and not understanding how the personal and particular fit into universal patterns.
I write what I write and can always edit later. To quote Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”
A blog prompt would be Maya Angelou's quote applied to the writing process.
Original post on the Newsfeed, May 29, 2023. In "Blogville " "Maya Angelou and the writing process: "
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|Boss is pronounced like 'bot' and if the t (unaspirated) isn't heard one is left with 'baw'. And 'baw' is a negative like 'mai'. It may also be more Lao and Isan is definitely more Lao culturally. Minor details that a Thai might notice, but helps with characterization. Now... your comment... yeah! Really well played. In fact, the opening was extremely well done. It shows the tightness of the group (important for Thais), good cultural references, and that Cher cannot hide his feelings... they read him like a well-read book.
But his "I didn't just want to be friends" is a definite ouch moment. And very realistic. I think 'no drama' would be better because the truly-interesting story line would be weakened.
Hmm... in Thailand? I ask because I'm in Udon Thani and have a much-younger boyfriend and nobody blinks. Yet, the staff gossiping about the possibility seems very real and very Thai. Cher/Laem character is from Udon and the family's reaction to Gun's stay-over feels right culturally as well.
Around 09:30 ... the concern about playmates 'growing up' is very real.
16:00 Give it all; take it all. Sizzling goosebumps!
Thoop and 10.000 baht. A lot of money. But... could be family, however that's defined. 21:15... Tian is dead. Thoop is his little brother. Laem is looking after him and Thoop is defensive. Makes sense. However, the back story could be even more interesting.
Flat landscape. Yep.
28:50... Udon... 29:00... Isan is known for hot-and-spicy. I can't eat it if it has too much chili (and neither can some Thais). 30:00 for an anniversary... is this related to Tian and Thoop?
Note that the clothes are loose and comfortable. They're working but this isn't a fancy place in Krungthep. And even if it's out in the middle of nowhere... if the food is great and people know... they go. Colorism is a big issue in Thailand; note that the customers are darker skinned.
The family's reaction to Boss spending the night is precious. I wouldn't be surprised if the fancy car and city clothes weren't a factor. But they may be hoping that Laem has found someone (a good catch).
32:40 papaya salad (the regional dish) and salted crab and fermented fish? So... Isan.
36:00 I haven't heard about The Ghost Widow yet; but the inclusion of local beliefs is another indication that the setting matters to the writer and director. 37:50. Lipstick and humor. Humor is important to Thais. 38:00 product placement. Helps the actors earn some extra money and provides funding for BLs. I've see some well known BL actors in ads and on billboards (Ohm, Billken...). 39:00 'cute' and 'face' both include 'na'; another inside Thai joke. 40:20 A/C is everywhere, so Gun may not be experienced in living with a fan, a net, and mosquitoes. And Isan can be very very hot. 38 degrees (99F) in Udon today. 41:30 Gun is becoming more playful. 42:00 Gun is claiming Laem as his own. "Shut down" may be a clue that Laem isn't ready... why?
|I need to empty the vessel of myself at times. Others call this introspection or meditation leading to a cleansing. I just call it vomit.
I'm not there today. I had a thought last evening as I was in the hallway, heard the joyful screech of a child as their father opened the door, heard the rumble of the train passing by 8 floors below and 100 meters to the east. Both filled the space with echoes of other places... and then it was silent again.
Unfortunately, I didn't write down my fleeting thought; so, ignored and miffed, it fled. I suspect it's surveying another landscape by now.
I'm settling in. Rural Isan is subtle fields of rice and sugarcane rubble. The villages are tight and life moves to the rhythms of mango and durian, the small dramas of daily spats between those who depend on each other.
Udon squats above it all. Lumpini soars 14 stories. I ponder about life in the alleys and view the distant mountains from the 8th floor, descending daily like a sloth to do my duty.
My life isn't boring; although, it must seem that way to those who need the adrenaline of adventure tourism or sightseeing. I smell whatever is blooming. I nod to whomever passes by. I need to clean before Ponnya comes home this evening and I find my solitude shattered by his warm hugs and radiant presence.
So, no vomiting today. I won't have enough time to clean up any mess I make.
|I am amazed at some cultural differences across the globe. Wehn I go back, I'll have to be aware of holiday schedules in Thailand but basically it's 7 days/week. The post office in Udon Thani is open 11-21... every day. The trains run on the same schedule... every day. Markets tend to be open... every day. Night markets have their day of the week... every week. Most places open late (after 10,11,12...). Few go out in the heat of the day. 7-11 is always open.
Here in the US there's a notion of working 5 days and 2 off. Thais work. When foreigners come to Thailand it seems they dress in vacation clothing (like their days off back home). Yes, it's hot; but, skimpy outfits on men and women just give the impression that you have no modesty or self restraint. I dress as I wish to be perceived... as a professional. I don't wear beach clothing 'just because I can'. Yes, heat bothers me. I carry water. I take it slow. No need to complain or have a tantrum.
And attitude. Thais are passive, but they are mostly kind and tolerant and unafraid of strangers. This 'stranger-danger' based on fear is very American and fortunately not global. It's a disease of naivity, entitlement and narrow-mindedness. I'm not saying that Thais are gleefully friendly. They're not. Most interactions are transactual. But tolerance rules. When I met Ponnya I was surprised that he grabbed my hand and led me around. No one blinked or said anything. And if they did, Ponnya ignored them.
The judgemental, puritanical attitude common in America (left-wing-right-wing-whatever) just isn't Thai. It's sad that some may see this passive approach as demonstrating weakness; but, Thai/Lao culture is old, much older than modern Western Europe or newbie North America. It's strong, steeped in tradition and like India, knows that patience wins the day.
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Khorat: gateway to Isan.
Phimai: vestiges of the glory of the Khmer.
Chaiyaphum: pathumma and pillars of stone.
ปทุมมา or ดอกกระเจียว https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curcuma_alismatifolia
Pa Hin Ngam (Thai: ป่าหินงาม) is a national park in Chaiyaphum Province. "Bua Sawan Field".
หินงาม = beautiful stone
Udon Thani: found hostel, park, markets, train station... Large busy, congested, 'not relaxing'. Easy to get to and easy to get in and out by train; bus more complicated: Khon Kaen, Nong Kai, Chaiyaphum, Mahasarakam/Roi Et. East to MeKong?
Nong Kai: land of the Naga hugging the Kong.
Khon Kaen: liveable university town. Will someone there be able to advise me on Thai Noi?
Mahasarakham: small university town no one visits.
Roi Et: is it scenic?
Thoughts on what to write: "Once in Thailand"
Rice Queen Diaries: https://books.google.com/books?id=Sq02DwAAQBAJ&pg=PA150&lpg=PA150&dq=Udon+Thani+...
Pathumma of Chaiyaphum
|🇵🇹 Fotos de Lisboa, Lagos, Faro, Silves, Castro de Verde, Evora. Abril e maio, 2022:
Evelyn from Denmark in Lisboa
Silves castle Lagos sardines Ourso in Lagos
Lagos Lisboa Metro Stutz in Evora
Lagos palms Lagos breakfast boy TAGhostel dinner
Evora gelato Evora corgumelos P. Romana, Silves
Aerial, Lisboa Salada de polvo Old Evora Hostel
Decadente, Lisboa Tilia, Faro Silves
Faroway, Faro Castle entry, Faro
Silves Castle Nisperos, Silves Independente, Lisboa
Windmill, Castro de Verde and O Ascensor da Gloria
Post office, Castro de Verde Lagos Victor
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|ẂebẂitch and StephBee: This is the 9th entry for
🇵🇹 Wanna lose weight? Walk.
One can walk from Kamchatka to Kapstad... with enough time and water.
Or one can walk the Camino de Santiago...
But even walking around a new place is better than sitting at home or napping in bed.
Movement is life.
Losing weight is just a no-cost benefit... which is preferable to getting sick .
My April-May 2022 trip:
I took Delta/KLM. Left early in the morning both coming and going.
I try to avoid that.
Friend drove me to MSO by 04:ish. Taxi took me to LIS at 02:45. I didn't sleep the night before either time.
I bought a 'comfort+' seat going and upgraded to 'premium select' on the way back. I really need 32" of leg room. I've had DVT three times; my legs demand room; I wear compression socks.
I was easily able to change my flight from OSL to LIS coming back.
Nice chat in MSP with Isaiah, a young Hmong from Sacramento. Fascinating discussion with an Algerian on AMS-LIS flight. The 'lowlight' of the return trip was SLC: customs extremely slow; terminals A-B a half mile apart; avoid until finished... 2026?
METRO - FUNICULAR
Welcome to Lisboa where the airport is actually connected by buses and the metro to trains and the funicular da Gloria! Easy and cheap. The metro has various lines that interconnect. The stations are well marked. There is art... of course. Masks were mandatory and people wore them.
I took the metro again when I returned using my card. The funicular's ticket is for two trips. I used it for going up the steep grade twice. It's crowded but convenient.
Trains connect all major and most minor cities. Buses connect the rest. I had a choice of bus/train to Lagos; I took the bus. I had a choice of bus/train to Faro; I took the train. The stations are close in Lagos; they are almost next to each other in Faro. I also took the train to Silves.
Traveled with Evelyn Lagos>Faro. Nice chat with young university student from Tunes. Train to Silves did not announce stops. Trains are cheap but basic.
I took the bus to Sete-Rios in Lisbon (metro is better) and used Eva to get to Lagos, about 4 hours away. We made one rest stop. I paid 15 euros. I paid less on other trips, Silves>Albufeira (local), Albufeira>CastroVerde, CastroVerde>Evora, Evora>Lisboa. Tickets are cheaper bought in advance; sometimes senior rates are available. No one cared that I'm not Portuguese.
Would've been nice if the bus would've stopped in Castro Verde instead of passing it by and having to double back.
I did keep track of costs... but travel within Portugal is fairly cheap and easy when done in advance (there may be fewer options on certain days of the week or holidays). Cost was not an issue. To compare: a taxi at 3 am in Lisbon cost 8,80. A taxi in Missoula costs $20+.
Hmm... cobblestones. You need to understand cobblestones. Many are smooth and slick when wet. They are mostly black and white and used to make designs. If the cobble is pink it's probably marble from Estremoz. Street cobbles can be grey and rougher. Cobbles can be missing or sunk. Watch your step and wear proper shoes.
Beaches are sandy? But the cliffs aren't. Some very nice beaches are reached by 200+ stairs, others by boat or kayak. Wear proper shoes. Wear a hat. Carry water.
Many streets are narrow in all the places I visited. There may not be sidewalks. Portuguese tend to acknowledge that and drive slow. Tires on cobbles make noise. Learn to listen at all times. I do not advise renting a car, especially if you are American. Learn how to walk.
Unless your ride is a classic Stutz.
Portugal is not flat. Lisboa is known for its hills and stairs. My legs got a workout. My thighs actually strengthened. Walking every day at home will prepare you. I wasn't properly prepared.
Cycling is an option, but in urban areas... did I mention cobbles?
My legs got stronger and I think walking helped me with weight-loss.
On those days when I was worn out, I reminded myself: Movement is Life.
Me? Not unless I need to catch a bus.
|ẂebẂitch and StephBee: This is the 8th entry for
🇵🇹 A hosteling we go (Portugal)
Not all hostels are created equal. Consider:
1. type of bed.
2. type of room.
3. type of bath and toilet rooms.
5. towels and linen?
6. proximity to transportation.
I prefer close to buses/trains/planes/ferries/ufo-ports...
I prefer 4-6 bed dorms but...
I don't do upper beds (legs, vertigo, age... excuses all...)
I like bed curtains.
I like hot water!
I do like breakfast included as I'm not a morning person.
Towels and linen are nice. I travel with a thin pair of sheets and a small towel.
I prefer quiet and loud bar music disturbs my nerves.
I prefer local and/or knowledgeable friendly staff.
I prefer sociable guests.
Price? Depends on country and time of year. Portugal is better in April and May than June.
Climate? I don't like toasty and if they have a/c? It can get too cold. I usually travel with a jacket, even in the tropics. And an umbrella, even in deserts.
The Independente: Three tiered twin beds! I always ask for a lower bed, days in advance (no curtains ). Lots of stairs (has a lift for luggage). Breakfast is wonderful; Lourdes is a force-of-nature. Staff is very good. Location? The best. Easy to get to by bus or metro/elevator and it's across from a miradouro that overlooks Lisbon. The guests tend to meet at breakfast and in the common room which has a kitchen, laundry and a TV. Most are friendly. Stayed 7 days (5+2). The restaurant/bar inside is The Decadente:
TAGhostel: Double beds. I asked for a lower and was put in the same bed as before (on purpose!) The 8 and two 4-bed rooms are by the dining/common room. The 6 bed room is down a flight of stairs. There are other options (curtains don't help much). Breakfast is very good. Location? Not far from the bus or train or beach; right in the center of town. Multiple bathrooms (good privacy). Very social. Community dinners 3/week. Roof terrace is a great meeting place. Filipa is the goddess-of-the-hostel-world and very knowledgeable. She treats everyone as family. Staff: Carmen has been there for years and Timo and Ana were great. Stayed 7 days. Very affordable.
Faroway: Single twin, no uppers. Bathrooms okay. Adequate kitchen and nice adjacent roof terrace. Joao and his wife were attentive. Location is good. Social enough. Not my favorite place but it was fine. Plus... I was ill. Reasonably quiet and dark.
Tilia Lower bed in three-tier room; good bed curtains. Has laundry. Washed clothes by hand and dried on roof terrace. Large common area; adequate kitchen. Staff was good. Guests weren't overly social, but I was ill. Location is good. Reasonably quiet except in early morning due to construction across the street.
Casa de Madalena Small two-tier dorms. No curtains. Banana pancakes. Seems social, partially due to Adrian, the enthusiastic owner. Very good location. I didn't stay here because it was full. I'll consider next time.
Horta Grande I booked a lower bed but ended up in my own room in a twin bed with adjacent bathroom. The bunks have curtains. No breakfast but a bowl of fresh fruit always available. Close to center of town, Lidl, and bus; a bit further to train. Owner was nice as was resident cat. This sits in an orchard next to an historic bridge. Quiet. Not as sociable; although, it was almost empty (not quite season yet) and I was still ill, but getting better. Washed out clothes and dried on rear terrace. There are two terraces, a living-room and kitchen.
In My House Well... other than climbing through the window? I had my own room with 4 twin beds. Another room had bunks and curtains. Quiet. Very good location near bus-station. Has a pool. A nice breakfast was included. Not season yet, so no one to talk to.
Old Evora Hostal I got a lower bunk bed. Quiet. Good location between bus station and center of town. Good breakfast included (fresh lemon juice). Common room and kitchen. Has TV. Some guests were 'working' and therefore less out-going. Adelina, the owner, was approachable and Mafalda was born to work in the hospitality business. I was able to connect with guests and would've done better if I hadn't gotten ill for half of two days (intestinal). A courtyard with a blue fountain in the middle.
Prices? In euros per night: 13 (7), 14 (4) 18 (7), 20 (2) 25 (9) or ~541 for 29 nights.
Rating? They were all good. All over 8.5. I did well in choosing places to stay. It helped that I was familiar with two of the hostels (among my favorites in the world) and 3 of the cities. 3 cities were new and that's always a guessing game. I did well.
Advice to others: know what matters to you, be prepared to be flexible, don't get sick, be aware of connections, schedules, check-in & check-out times. Read the reviews of others! Nothing is perfect and you can't 'have it your way'.
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|StephBee and ẂebẂitch This is the 7th entry for
🇵🇹 Not a Lighthouse (Faro, Portugal)
Evelyn and I caught the train from Lagos. We were joined by a young college student from Tunes. Nice experience. The train is old and slow, but it gets there! Once in Faro, Evelyn and I ate and then parted ways, meeting up a couple times later over three days. The center of Faro is 'cozy'.
Faro = lighthouse, but these days the city is a major transportation center with the only airport in Algarve and a railroad going west to Lagos and east to Spain.
It must have had a charming old center once-upon-a-time; but, much is being torn down for renovation or who-knows-what. If concrete condo high-rises, seen everywhere to satisfy the needs of ex-pats, take over it will lose what little charm it has left.
I wasn't too charmed myself.
I stayed in two hostels: first Faroway and then Tilia. Both were fine, but I really wanted to stay at the Madalena, which seldom has an empty bed due to the charming owner Adrian and banana pancakes for breakfast. I did drop in for a tour.
So... where's the story...
"One can depend upon the kindness of strangers."
At Tilia I slept in the common area as I couldn't stop coughing and my head was stuffed. No fever. Doubt it was covid, but coughing isn't acceptable while traveling, even though no one complained... as least not directly to me.
The night person Raquel saw me on the couch and put a blanket over me. I appreciated this.
A bit of coughing at the Faroway as well. I unplugged a room deodorizer because it was nauseating and making it hard for me to breathe.
Great chat with a 77 year-young world traveler from Wales. And the group of Italians was a hoot. João was a gracious host. Watching the swallows swoop from the roof terrace and planes passing barely overhead are two interesting memories.
Unfortunately, I was ill most of the five days I was there. Fortunately, I wasn't on a top bed at Tilia and Faroway only had twin beds... better to be close to the floor.
Neither place had breakfast; so, sick or not, I had to find food. There was a mini-mart close-by with a machine that squeezed fresh oranges. I even brought one of the 100 ml containers home. Oranges.
I stopped in one small diner for locals and bought a bifana (pork sandwich). I told the cook that it was wonderfully juicy. Give praise where and when it's deserved. Kindness counts.
Evelyn invited me out to a restaurant within the old castle walls the night before she left for Sevilla. She had roble (sea bass) and I had a plate of cod and shrimp (a traditional winter holiday meal).
Gateway into the old fortress in Faro, marvel at the brickwork.
Evelyn was a dear. She looked after me in both Lagos and Faro.
Sad to say... I didn't enjoy Faro. One makes the best of it. Maybe banana pancakes next time as its airport is a convenient gateway to the Algarve.
|StephBee and ẂebẂitch This is the 6th entry for
🇵🇹 Red Sandstone, Romans and Me (Silves, Portugal)
No one mentions that it's a no shade walk up from the empty train station... and then a long trek down again. Fortunately the road isn't busy as there isn't always a great place to walk. 20 minutes? If you're young...
However, the bus station is right in the center of town by Lidl.
My hostel was near the bus station, across the Roman Bridge on the south side. I could see it from there. It's just to the right in the photo above.
Small towns can be quirky. Silves is connected by bus to Lagoa, Albufeira and São Bartolomeu de Messines... not that that's that helpful... but at least it doesn't cater to just high-end tourists and condos for wealthy ex-pats.
It doesn't have a beach... a blessing imho.
But it does have a castle.
The old Moorish castle (8th-13th centuries) sits upon the hill overlooking the Roman Bridge (apparently constructed in the XV century... after the Moors, long after the Romans) that crosses the Arade river. Infante Dom Henrique (more famous than his brother the king) was mayor in the mid-1400s. In 1491, the town of Silves was given to Queen Eleanora by her husband, King John II of Portugal. Johnny was buried here (I saw the tomb in the church floor) but then exhumed and moved elsewhere.
Silves built wealth on cork then oranges as the castle-fortress had an artesian well. But it was not always held in favor by the powers-that-be and it became eclipsed by other settlements. Even now its lack of a beach keeps the aforementioned tourists from overrunning it.
I stayed in a great place at the southern end of the bridge. "Horta Grande" is a working orchard and ranch. It has oranges, mandarins, lemons, figs, pomegranates and nisperos... and brown-leather cows.
No breakfast was provided but there was always a bowl of fruit... or guests could pick their own.
I squeezed a few oranges, added lemon; but no complaints, I had my own instant coffee and I was just 5 minutes away from a cheesecake and pastries.
The other exciting feature was Clarita-the-cat. She wanted in. Her owner wanted her out. It was amusing to watch.
At least I could wash my clothes by hand and hang them to dry in the searing sun. It hit 90 degrees one day... unusual for May. Silves is just 15 kilometers from the beach but blocked from sea-breezes.
Did I mention that I was ill the whole time? Did I mention the heat? Fortunately, I had a room to myself (4 beds, but it was off-season). Had a couple nice chats with Jackie... from England.
I climb up to the castle... twice... entered once. It's quite impressive. Walking the ramparts gave me bad vertigo... heat, ill, vertigo... I enjoyed the cool Moura Cistern turned into an exhibit on the endangered Iberian lynx (there's a refuge close-by). At one time the water stored here from the 200 ft. deep 'well of the dogs' (Cisterna dos Cães) supplied the whole city.
I took lots of pictures and there was shade in the garden. Guess where I sat.
Ah... Silves. A 4 day rest and a visit to the pharmacist on Day 2 for fluponex. My sinuses dried up enough to let me breathe through my nose and my coughing lessened.
The last sight of Silves? I was too preoccupied surreptitiously adjusting my pants as they had fallen down while I stumbled onto the bus. I can only hope...
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