Extraordinary Vagobond Interview with the Planet Earth – Happy Earth Day

Today is the day we celebrate this wonderful world. I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot of this big blue marble and to see some wonderful things, places, cultures and natural wonders.  Today, rather than celebrating another traveler – I would prefer to celebrate the place we all travel on and the greatest traveler we all know. The planet Earth – Terra – Mother.

In a year- Earth travels about 940 million kilometers around the Sun, however, this does not include the distance the Solar System has moved around the Galactic Centre during that time. Nor does it include the distance you have traveled as the earth rotates every 24 hours.  Since we are all on this wonderful spaceship – each of us is actually traveling further than anyone (and the same distance) every second of every day. We are all great space explorers.  When it comes to cheap flights – planet Earth gives us some of the cheapest. Tenerife is just one of her many places that fly through space on her surface.

Whether you want to travel closer to Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, or Mars – she allows it. Whether you want to go to the far side of the sun or take a vacation to the close side. And then there is the moon…but that’s another story.

The symbol of the Earth consists of a cross over a circle and here is a funny thing, humans always thought that the other planets moved, but they actually thought that Earth was standing still!  It wasn’t until the 1700’s that some radicals started to really dig how the Earth travels.

It’s not uncommon to think of Earth as a person or a diety –  called Gaia by her friends and Mother by her children,  she is most often thought of as a woman – and who can imagine a man with such incredible fertility? Right? Of course, a lot of the ‘big’ religions think this is a terrible thing but then they say to ‘honor thy mother’ and continue to deface and devalue the biggest mother of them all. Our mother planet where (as far as we know) all life was born.

A very funny thought today is that for most of human history – people thought of Earth as being a flat, one dimensional place.  Of course, you can’t flatten a good woman and Earth demonstrated a lovely spherical shape as humans began to circumnavigate and even visit outer space!

And that brings us to today, it really wasn’t until seeing that big blue marble photo above that anyone thought about the fact that this planet is all connected. That things you do in China (or anywhere) actually affect what happens everywhere else. It’s no coincidence that spaceflight and the modern ecological movement began at about the same time.

Earth agreed to a very short interview with me when I caught up with her this week.

Vagobond: Where is your favorite destination?

Earth: Well, all of my regions have their charm, but to be honest it is the oceans that I love the best.  The constant movement, sound and beauty – the diversity of life. The oceans are really like my womb and what woman doesn’t love being able to create life?

Vagobond: Are you upset at the way humans have treated you?

Earth: What mother wouldn’t be? But you know, the dinosaurs shit all over me too and look what happened to them. Like ‘the Dude’ I endure – by the way, I’m a big fan of The Big Lebowski. I feel like if more people were to watch that film, the planet would be better off. I hope that in a few centuries Dudism is a major force on my surface.

Vagobond: What’s your most dangerous travel travel moment?

Earth: Actually, it’s hard to say but I think when the planet between Mars and Me got smashed by a comet, that was a close call. You have to be careful of those who travel with no plan – sometimes it can be beautiful, but often it can be cataclysmic.  In this case, I was given a beautiful moon after the break up but the impact was large, I have huge craters to show for it.  And, you know, we were pretty deeply involved. At the time, there was an advanced civilization that moved between both our surfaces – no traces remain of course – at least not obvious enough traces for my arrogant human children to find -yet.

Vagobond:  Fascinating. I thought I knew something of astronomy but I’d never heard that before. Can you share any other secrets with our readers? Maybe you have some travel tips?

Earth: Actually, I’m filled with secrets but now isn’t the time to reveal them, but I”m happy to share a few travel tips that will make your life easier. They’re pretty common sense but it’s surprising how many people ignore them.

1) Don’t shit where you eat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about feces – I’m saying that you need to take care of your home or else it becomes incredibly unpleasant. In this case, just look at my atmosphere and oceans, all the garbage and you should get what I mean.

2) Time heals all wounds.  No matter how much destruction or devastation is caused, eventually things return to a balance. Chaos is a myth. The universe is orderly and that includes the lives of humans and planets.

3) Time is the only true wealth.  Whie I’m very old by human standards, my clock is ticking down. Eventually I will transform and become something else. It’s for that reason, that I treasure each moment. Sure, it hurts to feel my resources pulled out and sent into space, but in fact – as long as I have time, I am the wealthiest planet around.

Vagobond: I thought there would be more ‘green’ tips – aren’t you going to suggest that we take better care of you, use less water, develop clean energy and things like that?

Earth: Why would I do that? I don’t tell a deer not to make a path in the woods. I  don’t tell termites not to eat trees. Humans are just another animal species and you will do what you do. You think that you are deviating from nature, but in fact – there are lessons you have to learn and as your mother, I would love to save you from the pain those lessons might cause but I know that the pain is what will actually make you learn. Okay…well, just one thing.  Enough with the plastic – it’s everywhere and it doesn’t go away.

Vagobond: Thank you for the wonderful interview and the wonderful world Mother.

Earth: You’re welcome – it’s nice to actually be noticed!

Vagabond Anarchist – Emma Goldman

anarchist emmaEmma Goldman was a very well known female radical, especially for her role in developing the anarchist philosophy in North America and parts of Europe in early twentieth century. She was born on June 27, 1869 in Kaunas, Lithuania (then Kovno, Russia), Emma shifted to the USA in 1885, where she began her political career. She was always a caring and helping person (though notoriously rowdy), and she soon began to attract attention through her articles, editorials and other writings. She also began to speak on issues, and managed to gather large crowds wherever she went. She was especially active on women issues like birth control, ill treatment of women, etc.

Further Reading
Anarchism and Other Essays
Living my Life by Emma Goldman
Red Emma Speaks
Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman

Emma showed rebellion early in life, right from standing up for her when her father used to beat her. That made her father only angrier, but Emma was not one to back down. Her life was filled with constant movement from city to city and town to town. While she was still young, her family moved to Papile, a small village in the then Russian Federation, where her father ran an inn. There she witnessed her first sight of a peasant being whipped, and that began her dislike of violence that authority puts in people. Then, when she was seven, the family moved to Konigsberg, then part of Germany, where Emma had her first taste of education. The teachers there, however, were either very religious or harsh, and she could not stand either.

Vagobond AnarchistHer school career came to an end after a year when the family again moved to Saint Petersburg, Russia, where her father opened a store. The venture proved to be unsuccessful, which led to another store, and another. He could not succeed. That forced the kids to work, and Emma herself had to work many jobs, most of them menial. Emma’s interest in education was sparked, and she began to educate herself in her free time, starting with the revolution that was going on in Russia at the time. She was a quick learner, and she soon managed to know how things worked.

Emma Goldman AnarchistIn 1885, at 16 years of age, Emma moved to Rochester, New York, this time not along with her father, but with her mother, and joined her elder sister in New York. She started working as a seamstress there. They were soon joined by her father and elder brother who were unable to survive the harsh conditions in Saint Petersburg. Emma started to actively take part in revolutions around her, and was allegedly involved in many high-profile incidents that occurred at the time. She started a journal, Mother Earth that was home to radicalists from all over the country. Her involvement became so severe that she was deported from the US to Russia, where she stayed till 1921. She wrote a book named “My Disillusionment in Russia” where she recounts her experiences during her stay there.

Emma left Russia in 1921 for Germany, where she found the conditions too harsh. She then moved to England, where she stayed till 1927. In 1927, she again moved to Canada, where she tried to settle but could not because of the political unrest. In 1936, she returned to the USA, having become quite a well-known figure by then. She finally moved to France in 1938, where she underwent a couple of prostate gland operations. Then she moved back to Canada, where on May 14, 1940, she took her last breath. She was buried honorably in German Waldheim Cemetery (now named Forest Home Cemetery) in Forest Park, Illinois, where her burial was attended by all her colleagues and well-wishers.

Extraordinary Marseille Vagobond – Pytheas of the Midnight Sun – Namer of Britain

Marseille, Pytheas the NavigatorWhile I was in Marseille, France last week, I passed upon what looked like a Greek statue – I was surprised to see it was a Greek man name Pytheas – now, this goes to show you that we all have our ingnorant spots – my first thought was to mistakenly wonder why the inventor of the Pythagorean Theorem was famous  in Marseille – and then my mental stabilizer kicked in and I realized it wasn’t a statue of Pythagoras, but Pytheas and that I knew nothing about him.

How fitting that I should discover his statue just prior to going to Britain. Many people don’t realize that Marseille was the ancient Greek colony of Massalia – and Pytheas was a native of that town. So, that statue of a Greek – was actually a voyage of a Frenchman before there was ever a France. And here’s the real interesting part – Pytheas was the first sailor to record a trip to Britain, where I am now. We could say that he ‘discovered’ Britain, though like saying Columbus discovered America, that is pretty much ignoring the fact that the people living there, discovered the respective countries long before Pytheas or Columbus ever lived and breathed.

Pytheas was one of the great geographers and explorers of the ancient Earth. He left Marseille  in 325 B.C. and set off to explore the great unknown seas and lands of Northern Europe. Along the way, he became the first documented source to describe the phenomenon of the Midnight Sun – that is where the day does not get dark in the Northern lands.  As if that wasn’t enough – Pytheas was the first person to discern that the moon was responsible for the tides of the Ocean and the first to encounter and write about the Germanic tribes.

Sadly, the complete work of Pytheas is lost to history and his writings only survive as excerpts in the writings of later explorers. I find it astounding that work of such importance can be lost to history, but there it is. History does not discriminate in the fading of memory.

Even the title is gone though some different authors later said it was similar to “My Trip Around the Earth” or “Of the Ocean” – but really, we just don’t know.  With no reason to it, I like the title “Of the Ocean and My Trip Around the Earth” 

Scholars suggest that another mariner from Marseille reached Britain first, but his name is completely lost to history.

In fact, it was Pytheas who named Britain and the British. Britanniae meaning all the islands easily became Britain and BritishMany scholars however, are quite certain that the word began with a P until the time of Julius Ceasar when it changed to the present ” form.

Pytheas described his Britains as a people who baked bread, stored grain, and lived in thatched huts. Like hobbits.  He reported “they are of simple manners and happy with plain fare..” – like hobbits.  After leaving Middle Earth, Pytheas went North seeking Elves and Thunder Gods – okay, wait, let me get back to history.

From Britain, Pytheas sailed North to the land of Thule where he encountered ice sheets and the midnight sun.  The explorer, Richard Francis Burton wrote a detailed study of Thule much later. We can reasonably know that Pytheas went through Scotland and the Orkneys and straight on until Morning when the sun stopped setting.

All of this was done with hat modern sailors and navigators would consider very primitive equipment.  An astounding accomplishment which ceratinly has more than earned him a simple statue in his hometown of Marseille – which I’m certainly happy to have come across.

 

Graham Hughes – Every Country in the World with no Air Travel – Amazing Vagabond

Editor’s Note: The uptight folks at Guinness have finally given him credit as of January 5, 2014. Republishing now from 9 Feb 2013.

Graham HughesGraham Hughes (@everycountry )is an Amazing Vagabond. The British man is the first in the world to ever visit all 201 countries without using air transport. The task took him four years and was completed in November of 2012. At the moment, there is some controversy attached to his feat as the Guinness Book of World Records has refused to acknowledge his accomplishment because his crossing into Russia was illegal. They don’t hold with breaking the law – and yet, he did it. Early this year he crossed into Russia legally and is waiting to hear back from the uptight suits at Guinness.

Graham Hughes

Hughes was born in Liverpool, England in 1979.

graham hughesHis quest began in 2008 and was covered by a program on the National Geographic Channel called “Graham’s World”. During the course of his “Odyssey Expeditions” he was arrested numerous times and proved himself to be a regualr pain in the ass to authorities and a pretty cool guy to the rest of us. He was imprisoned in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, arrested when he snuck into Russia, and ran a blockade in Cuba.

The rules of his trip were: no flying, no private transport (a rule enforced by the Guinness World Records race regulations, which cannot condone a public race in private vehicles) and no travelling to far flung territories and counting them as visiting the motherland. For example he couldn’t visit French Polynesia and count it as visiting France.

Hughes traveled 160,000 miles in 1,426 days – all on a budget of just $100 a week. He kept costs low through couchsurfing and hitching rides with locals and cargo ships.

Best quote?

I think I wanted to show that the world is not some big, scary place, but in fact is full of people who want to help you

Although, this bit from his bio page might be a close runner up:

If you had to define in a sentence what drives him perhaps it’s the desire that years from now schoolchildren across the land will be required to learn his date of birth.

Graham Hughes Route
Greaham Hughes Route

In fact, Hughes description of his journey is worthy of quoting all by itself

It was an adventure of epic proportions. I spent four days crossing open ocean in a leaky wooden boat to reach Cape Verde, I was imprisoned for a week in Congo and was arrested whilst attempting to sneak into Russia.

I ran the blockade into Cuba, blagged my way into Eritrea, ran around Iraq with an AK-47, spent seven days in Tibet and warned schoolchildren in Afghanistan about the dangers of men with beards.

I met the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, rode on top of a 18-wheeler through the northern badlands of Kenya, hitched a ride on a cruise ship to The Dominican Republic, joined a Bwiti tribe in Gabon, screamed at the ocean in El Salvador and watched a space shuttle blast off in the USA.

I’ve fed the crocs in Australia, hunted the dragons of Komodo, befriended the orangutans in Borneo, played with the lemurs in Madagascar, washed the elephants in India and eaten live octopus in South Korea.

I tip-toed into North Korea, took the slow boat to Nauru, danced with the Highlanders of Papua New Guinea and was rescued from Muslim fundamentalists in The Philippines by a ladyboy called Jenn.

Yes, he’s an Amazing Vagabond. No doubt about that.

Herodotus – The Father of History (and all Vagabonds)

Father of VagabondsQuite a title to hold  “The Father of History” and yet, it is quite firmly in the dead cold fingers of Herodotus. Nephew of the poet Payasis and not only the father of history but of anthropology, and one can equally (but not so forcefully) argue he is the father of all travel writers and vagabonds. One should also point out that because of his sometimes fanciful tales he has also been known as the ‘father of liars’ which also seems to make him the patron saint of modern travel writers.

Born at Halicarnasus, which is modern day Bodrum, Turkey in the year 484 B.C. He was a rich kid and we can guess like modern rich kids in Bodrum, he spent plenty of time on his parent’s yacht and enjoyed the perfect summer climate there. At 20 years of age, he left, not for a gap year travel, but to explore and document as much of the known and unknown world of his time. As far as we know, he was the first to undertake such a journey with such a goal.

He first headed towards Memphis – no silly, not the home of the King of Rock and Roll (Memphis, Tennessee) but Memphis, Egypt. He visited the pyramids, watched the Nile overflow its banks, and wrote of Heliopolis and Thebes. It’s he who was really the first tourist of the world.  He described the religious rituals, the daily life, the food, and the culture of Egypt and in the process, he set the foundation of anthropology.

From Egypt he set out to Libya where he was amazed by snakes, elephants, and an animal he described as “having no head but eyes on the chest” – from this we can guess he wasn’t averse to trying out the local psychedelics.  From there to Ethiopia before leaving Africa and heading back towards Bodrum by way of Phoenicia (Lebanon), Syria, Palestine, and Arabia.

He described Arabs as the people who ‘kept any vow they might have made’ and wrote lyrically of their spices and religion in Assyria and Babylon (Iraq).  Next he went to Persia (Iran) because he wanted to document as much as possible about the wars between the Persians and the Greeks – at the time, Persia wasn’t a Muslim place and Herodotus notes that the Persians of that time didn’t like their gods to be depicted in human form either. He was enthusiastic about the Persian custom of transacting business over too much wine – something that would probably make the mullahs of Iran a bit mellower today if they adopted it.

Next, Herodotus ventured into India, the Punjab, and Afghanistan.  From there he ventured into the ancient country of Media – which today is what we call ‘the ‘stans’ of Central Asia. From Central Asia he ventured around the Caspian and Black Seas and into the Caucasian Mountains. He explored a considerable portion of what is today European Russia including stretches of the Volga, the Don, and the Danube.

Around the Black Sea and to the Bosphorus before returning back to the Aegean Sea where he explored the many Greek isles and introduced his readers (later of course) to the Amazons, Lesbians, and Cretans – three terms today which have very different meanings than in his time.

World Map of Herodotus
The World According to Herodotus

After eight long years – he returned to Halicarnassus and read his travels at the Olympic games in 456 BC. At this time he was exiled to Samos by a dictator who was obviously threatened by what he represented (an open travelers’ mind perhaps) – he returned in rebellion and the tyrant was overthrown – at which point he was again exiled to Samos.

Finally, he retired to Italy (like all good travelers should) and died in the year 406 B.C. – one can imagine that he was completely unaware of the iimpact he would have on the world, but as you can see – as I write this nearly 2,500 years later – he was one very kick ass vagabond.

Amazing Vagabond: Anthony Bourdain

I still miss Anthony Bourdain. Remembering he is gone makes me sad although, I don’t know that he would have been enjoying himself in Covid Times – hell, he wasn’t enjoying himself in pre covid times, I guess. I hope in whatever comes next he is doing what he loves and finding joy where he found pain here. This world isn’t easy for those who see beyond themselves.

Anthony Bourdain is Not a Bullshit Artist

Anthony Bourdain is Not a cuntOne of my favorite celebrities in the world – Anthony Bourdain. I was introduced to him back in 2005 when a close friend handed me a book called Kitchen Confidential and said “Read this. You’ll love this guy.”- The title sounded like a bullshit Hollywood Madam type of book so I took it with low expectations and planned to give excuses whenever she asked me if I’d read it.

Then, one day when I knew I’d be in the bathroom for a while, his book was the closest thing on hand aside from a box of Apple Jacks I’d already read – so I grabbed it. Within two paragraphs I was hooked.

You see, I’ve worked in some kitchens. I’ve made sandwiches, worked as a seafood line chef in a high-end kitchen, been the sous chef in a southern BBQ joint, and washed all kinds of dishes. I’ve smoked more dope and done more lines of coke with kitchen staff and pantyless waitresses than I care to admit. Check out this line:

I want to tell you about the dark recesses of the restaurant underbelly – a sub-culture whose militaristic hierarchy and ethos of ‘rum, buggery, and the lash’ make for a mix of unwavering order and nerve-shattering chaos -because I find it all quite comfortable like a nice warm bath.

Hunter S. Thompson was dead but this guy was still alive and kicking. I read his book and then I went looking for more. I found it. This was a guy who could write, made me hungry for food, made me feel like my adventures were pretty tame, and who was traveling the world and making a spectacularly kick ass television show where he didn’t seem to be pretending to be someone else.

Anthony Bourdain is smart, funny, irreverant, and successful. He’s introduced a whole generation of punk-rock lost souls to the joy of food and travel.  Here’s a bit of his backstory (pulled from Wikipedia and his website at AnthonyBourdain.net)

Anthony Bourdain was born  in 1956 in New York City.He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978 and went on to become a professional chef. Hi s love of food was kindled by an oyster he ate in France as a boy. It was given to him by a fisherman while his family was on a vacation there. In 1998 he became Executive Chef at Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan.

Kitchen Confidential was a New York Times best seller in 2000 which led to his writing two more best sellers – The Nasty Bits and A Cook’s Tour. He’s written nine other books including a graphic novel for DC Comics.

His TV show : No Reservations began in 2005, so when I went looking for more, I found one of the most enjoyable food and travel shows ever produced. Yeah, I’m a fan, that’s why I’m writing this to introduce you to him.

I have no idea how many countries Anthony Bourdain has been to, nor does it matter. I would guess that he doesn’t even know…the important thing is that he goes, he eats, he shares, he learns, and you know what?

He’s not a bullshit artist. He shows respect to the food, the cultures, the places, and the people wherever he goes. He doesn’t mind disrespecting blatant commercialism, celebrity, or even himself and calls bullshit as he sees it. That’s why I’m a fan and that’s why I recommend you read his books, watch his series (there’s another called  The Layover) and miss him like hell.

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

Wedding in Bali – Planning an Extravagant International Wedding in Bali

Planning an Extravagant International Wedding in Bali? You Will be Glad you Budgeted for It!

If you plan on having an international wedding in Bali, budget is an important factor to consider. Whether you plan to have an extravagant wedding or you look to have a small intimate ceremony, your budget plan could break or make the dreams you have for your big day. 

Sometimes couples may not want to spare any expense when planning for their big day. However, having a destination wedding in Bali could turn out to be a very expensive affair. Budgeting not only keeps you out of debt but also ensures that there is enough money left for your romantic honeymoon plans. 

Is it Necessary to Have a Budget Plan for an Extravagant International Wedding?

When you are not on a tight budget, Bali offers many destination weddings options to choose from. Couples can have their wedding on the beach, mountain resorts, private villas, exquisite vocational rentals, vineyards, remote countryside locations, historic mansions, or stand-alone banquet halls. 

Sometimes it is not so much about money than a chance to spin beautiful lifetime memories with the person you love most in the world. However, Bali’s tranquil wedding experience could cost a fortune, and therefore, it is inevitable to have extra planning.  

There is no laid-out blueprint to a perfect wedding plan. The planning process is often marred with huddles that could potentially ruin a perfect day. Couples often make hasty decisions that they regret later on. 

For instance, if you are looking for an expensive venue for your wedding in Bali, you might be required to pay a non-refundable deposit immediately. If, later on, you came across a venue with a better wedding package, it could be difficult to change your venue location. Having a budget, therefore, prevents extravagant couples from making decisions on impulse. 

Having a budget enables couples to discuss all aspects of the wedding with suppliers before signing any contract. They therefore save more for the things they consider more important.

How Do I Prepare an International Wedding Budget?

The last thing you want to have as a couple that is just about to tie the knot is an argument about money. The first step towards budgeting for your wedding in Bali is to agree on the amount of money you and your significant other are willing to spend on the wedding preparations. 

You can then choose a location, agree on the guest count, and choose the cuisine you would like for the wedding together. It is always good to make your checklist with approximate costs before meeting with a wedding planner. This allows you to make informative vendor comparisons before settling on the wedding package that best fits your budget and plan. 

Preparing for a wedding in Bali could force a couple to make several overseas trips, especially if they are very particular about their wedding plan. However, a couple could work closely with a wedding planner in Bali or one provided by the resort. The latter option requires a lot of faith in the planner as the couple may not have a chance to evaluate or make approvals until the set date. 

How do I Choose the Best Wedding Planner in Bali?

Selecting a good wedding planner is one of the most effective ways of sticking to your budget. However, many international couples seeking to have their dream wedding in Bali have little knowledge of Bali’s best wedding planners. They are often bombarded with numerous honey-coated options on the internet that makes decision-making a daunting task.

When selecting a planner for your wedding in Bali, choose one that has managed many international weddings before, and that has an established network of suppliers.

Although you may have the fortune to spend on your special day, having a budgeting plan for your international wedding in Bali could save you a lot of unnecessary expenses. It also helps you to save plenty of money for a rainy day after the wedding.  

Jack Kerouac

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

On the road or on the seas, a vagabond must travel. It doesn’t matter if you have money or not, you simply have to see the world. Jack Kerouac and his friends were extraordinary vagabonds.

Jack Kerouac was an American novelist and poet born in Massachusetts in 1922. He is a literary iconoclast and a pioneer of the Beat Generation. Jack Kerouac was very much influenced by Neal Cassidy, they met in New York and soon became friends. Some people even say that they even fell in love with each other.

Jack Kerouac VagabondVery soon they both began the series of cross-county adventures which was mentioned on Jack Kerouac’s book “On The Road”. They roamed all over USA like vagabonds. Jack Kerouac started writing about their travel experiences as and when they were taking place, but somehow he was not able to find a style suitable to the content, and he put the project away in that frustration. After a series of letters from Cassidy to Kerouac , he began the project again and the letters gave him an idea to write a book “On The Road” and it was a success. The book became a sensation by catching the voice of Cassidy. On The Road inspired the generation to travel across America in search of freedom and adventure.

More about the beats and Jack Kerouac:
Jack Kerouac: Road Novels 1957-1960: On the Road / The Dharma Bums / The Subterraneans / Tristessa / Lonesome Traveler / Journal Selections
On the Road: The Original Scroll
The Dharma Bums
Memoirs of a Beatnik by Diana DiPrima
Beatniks: A Guide to an American Subculture

Personally, The Dharma Bums is my favorite of his books, though On the Road is much more famous.

Vagabond KerouacCassidy married many women and he became the father for many children, his life has been explained in On the Road by Kerouac. In his final years he settled down with Carolyn Cassidy in San Jose. Whereas Kerouac married Joan Haverty, but she left him while she was pregnant. Next several years Jack Kerouac spent his life traveling and writing. He took long trips all over US and Mexico and he fell into drug and alcohol use due to depression. He died at the age of 47 due to internal hemorrhage because of heavy drinking. Kerouac’s life was a good inspiration for world travelers and a good lesson for heavy drinkers!!

Amazing Vagabond – Chris Guillebeau – Every Country in the World

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

Some years ago, a friend sent me a link to Chris Guillebeau’s website.

amazing vagabond chris guillebeau“Wow. You should do this.” That’s what she wrote to me. As if it were the simplest thing in the world to visit every country of the world. And that is really the magic of Chris Guillebeau – he makes it seem that simple. Maybe he even makes it that simple, though I haven’t met anyone else who is going about things the way he is, so I really can’t say.

One thing is for sure, Chris is amazing. The website I looked at and was referred to was his blog at http://chrisguillebeau.com/. If you haven’t yet heard of him or his work, let me give you the cliff notes version from his bio page.

I served as a volunteer executive for a medical charity in West Africa from 2002-2006. It was thrilling, challenging, and exhausting—all good qualities to have in an adventure. I gave keynote speeches to presidents, hung out with warlords, and learned far more in those four years than anything I learned in college.

After my time in West Africa came to an end in 2006, I came to Seattle for a graduate program in International Studies at the University of Washington. I enjoyed my studies, but I enjoyed travel even more – during every break between quarters, I traveled independently to countries like Burma, Uganda, Jordan, Macedonia, and 20 more.

And then…he decided to change the world.

Chris is a self-employed dude who set himself the task of visiting every country in the world and created a blog called The Art of Non-Conformity. In 2008 he published a manifesto called (not surprisingly) A Brief Guide to World Domination. I recommend that you download it free from his site right now. In 2010 he published The Art of Non-Conformity and as of right now, Chris has visited all but one country in the world in his quest.  Along the way, he has inspired people, created new projects, and shown countless (I’m sure someone could count them, but I can’t) people how to ‘travel-hack’ i.e. use airline systems of points and rewards to improve their travel and improve their lives. His recently released book The $100 Startup is a entrepreneurial self-help masterpiece that I recommend you read (even if I do tend to think that Chris and the people he profiles are far from the average folk he portrays them to be).

Here is something truly Amazing about Chris – despite his intense popularity, his incredible accomplishments, and his ultra-positive ‘you can do it’ message – you would be hard pressed to find anyone who will say a bad word about him. Compare that with author Tim Ferris who I will profile next week and you will see why that is so amazing. Chris Guillebeau is such a genuinely nice guy that even the hater trolls can’t seem to hate him.

Chris has been featured in the New York Times, Psychology Today, Business Week, Budget Travel, Oregonian, La Presse, Washington Times, MSNBC, Anderson Cooper’s 360 and on a laundry list of great websites you should read if you don’t already: Seth Godin, Slate, LifeHacker, Zen Habits, Behance, Career Renegade, Happiness Project, Rolf Potts Vagablogging, and literally hundreds of other blogs (now including Vagobond.com).

He currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife Jolie although where he is at any given moment is incredibly difficult to say for certain.  If you don’t virtually or personally know Chris yet, I recommend you bring him into your life.

Vino Vagabond Writer – Linda Kissam

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

Linda Kissam has brought Vagobond readers exclusive stories about travel in the world of wine since 2012. She is a professional travel, food, and wine writer based out of Southern California.

Linda specializes in easy, breezy destination stories focusing on what makes each destination special through it culinary and wine, beer and spirits scene and the soft adventures that surround those pursuits. She loves sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. She never knows if a story will end up being based on finding the perfect latte, ordering Pommes Frites with Parsley Butter in a small French bistro, searching for an Internet cafe in Sicily, or attending a wine seminar aboard a cruise ship. She never travels without a notebook, camera and a great pair of Brighton flats. She has an addiction to personable people, interesting wines, gourmet coffee, fabulous chocolate and spicy foods. Anyone who knows her will tell you that she loves traveling anywhere, by any means, and is somewhat obsessive about jewelry and a good taco.

Welcome to Vagobond, Linda!
Vagobond: What’s your personal travel philosophy?
LK: Commit to the regionality of the trip. Appreciate the moment and circumstance of what is being offered.

Vagobond: How many countries have you visited?
LK: I’ve been lucky to visit over 15 countries so far representing 4 continents

Vagobond: What made you start to travel?
LK: I became a travel agent on a whim one year. I was sent to Thailand to better understand the activities and accommodations offered there.My eyes and soul opened to the universal possibilities of international travel through that gift. I was hooked from that point on.

Vagobond: What’s your scariest travel moment?
LK: Circling the Atlanta Airport for an hour in a thunder storm. We couldn’t land until the thunder storm was over and we couldn’t go to another airport because we didn’t have enough fuel.

Vagobond: What’s your funniest travel moment?
LK: The day the shuttle driver misunderstood his instructions to pick up my writers group ASAP.  The four of us writerswere in a small golf cart on a very restricted one lane, no vehicles allowed, nature trail which incidentally included alligators on each side of the trail. The thirty something year old, 20 passenger shuttle driver breached the “Do Not Enter” warning signs and blockades. He came rumbling down the trail, lights on,pedal to the metal, until he found us, loaded us up and backed out the entire winding, twisty road, which at that point was probably 3 miles. It wasn’t until then that he shared he was the lead fire truck driver for the local fire department and there were never any passengers left behind whenever he got the call!

Vagobond: What’s your greatest adventure?
LK: That’s like asking me which of my children I like best, or what wine I like best.  There is no definitive answer. I believe that each trip has a message to share.  I love every minute of every travel adventure.

Vagobond: What’s your dream destination/vacation/trip?
LK: I’ve yet to take a cruise around the Greek Isles, go on a safari & do some wine tasting in South Africa, or experience UK Canal boating.

Vagobond: Are you a traveler or a tourist? What’s the difference if there is one.
LK: I am a traveler. I enjoy the opportunity to explore other places through regional activities whether in my home state or in far away places. I am there to do more than vacation. Long ago I learned not to expect toilet paper — but carry my own with the cardboard roll removed, paper pressed flat.

Vagobond: What’s a great travel tip most people don’t know?
LK: Pack light, in one color palate, and think & do regionally!

Vagobond: What are your travel plans for 2012?
LK: 2012 looks like a great travel year split between North America and European travel. My travel schedule is just starting to firm up, but on the boards now I am looking forward to visiting Oregon, Las Vegas, Arizona, California, South Dakota, Germany, England, Switzerland, Berlin, Canada,and France. Anywhere I can find an interesting wine region, spa, or train ride…calls to my soul.

 

Nomad Vagabond – Genghis Khan

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

 

Traveling round the world doesn’t usually involve conquest of foreign lands but for Temujin, also known as Genghis Khan, conquest was probably just a means of travel. Starting with nothing as an exile and prisoner means he was certainly an extraordinary vagabond.

Genghis Khan was a nomad, in other words he was a world traveler of sort. Genghis Khan’s real name in his childhood was Temujin. When his brother poisoned his father Temujin killed his brother and in punishment he was thrown into forest, he was held in prison by his former friends after that. vagobond genghis khanAfter few years, Temujin rose up as a powerful leader and united the tribes of the Mongol people. With this goal accomplished, he and his Mongol hordes targeted many and far lands. From the time of his unification of the Mongol tribes, the Mongols called him Genghis Khan.

Genghis Khan first attacked the Tangut tribes to the west of the Mongol homeland. His first important foreign venture was not an easy one, but he brought the tribes of Tangut to their knees by 1209, which was the beginning of his empire. Genghis targeted east and south after that, this was the land ruled by Jin Dynasty of China. Genghis Khan captured Beijing, bringing the pressure to the Jin emperor and managing to restrain the complete northern half of the kingdom.

Kara-Khitan which is called “Xinjiang” today by the Chinese government was the next battleground of Genghis Khan. With just 20,000 soldiers, the Mongols brought the surrender of Kara-Khitan by 1218. Now Genghis Khan’s empire extended from shores of China in the east to Kazakhstan in west.

genghis khan mapThis was not enough and Genghis Khan desired more. He set his eyes on his new neighbor, the Khwarezmid Empire. It stretched from Kazakhstan to the banks of Persian Gulf, surrounding most of Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and half of Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. At first Genghis Khan tried to establish a booming trade partnership with Khwarezmids, but the leader of Khwarezmid attacked his 500 man caravan. After this, he foolishly refused to pay compensation for his act. Genghis Khan later sent his group of ambassadors to the Shah of Khwarezmid in a hope to have some kind of political trade relationship. But the Shah refused his proposal, Genghis Khan invaded Khwarezmid and executed the Shah. After this horrible conquest of Khwarezmid Empire, he headed across Afghanistan and northern India.

By the end of his life, Temujin had conquered everything from Asia all the way to Europe’s doorstep. Most of modern Turkey, parts of Greece, and even portions of Bulgaria, Romania, and Russia were his domain.

As a world traveler, he spilled a lot more blood than most, but the fact is he controlled the largest contiguous empire in history and saw more of the world than most people ever will.

Welcome to 2021 – Aloha to the World!

We made it through what may have been the most difficult year of our lives. Here we are.

This year, I’m going to change my focus on Vagobond a bit. My intent is to publish 1-2 articles per week.

Since I’m not traveling much these days – (and who is?) I’m going to start out 2020 by looking at some  of the great Vagabonds of the past for inspiration on the many reasons we travel. I wrote a book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point”  about the great vagabonds several years ago. It’s still available as an ebook for kindle on Amazon for just $3.99. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of those characters from the past (and present).

Vagabonds

Last year my publication schedule was Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – but this year – let’s switch it up to Tuesday and Thursday.

 

Around the World with 40 Bloggers – From Lonely Planet

I’m pretty stoked to be one of the 40 bloggers featured in this. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen. Thanks for reading. Thanks for tweeting, liking, stumbling and sharing Vagobond with your friends. Thanks for commenting.
Back in 2008 Lonely Planet picked their favorite bloggers around the world and began featuring their blogs on the Lonely Planet website.

Those bloggers (blogsherpas) have come together to showcase the best that travel blogging can offer. Around the World with 40 Lonely Planet Bloggers.
These aren’t 40 backpackers or 40 anythings. This group is diverse with focuses on family travel, expat life, volunteerism, art, budget world travel and long term backpacking too. Lonely Planet has said that they wanted to shine a light on the very best travel writing and photography on the planet.

Around the World with 40 Lonely Planet Bloggers introduces readers to the world of professional travel blogging. Lonely Planet knows what it takes to produce amazing travel writing and photography, and these bloggers are producing up-to-date live content from around the world while still managing to travel.

The new ebook shares a collection of stunning photos and descriptions that captures the essence of travel. It walks the reader through almost 70 countries and 40 unique ways of experiencing the world. It lets you research your next destination from a variety of perspectives, depending on your own interests and needs.

I could go on and on describing the book, but it’s better to just dive into 88 pages of colour, excitement and passion for travel. So download the book now!

Happy travels and see you on the road.

Tenerife Playa De Las Americas

The Playa de Las Americas inthe Canary Islands just off of Africa’s West Coast is a divine place for tourists, especially the beaches. It was built in 1960 and it’s geographical location during winter is the main reason many Northern Europeans come and visit this. It is somehow different from the other Canarian culture. Concerning the budget, it is sometimes affordable for some people and expensive for others. Tenerife Playa De Las Americas is a favorite spot for many tourists. And because of its security and safety, many people bring the kids with them too.
Canary IslandsWalking on the streets you can find British pubs, restaurants, pizza and fast food parlors. For the Brits it is as if they are already home – but warmer. Anyone will enjoy going to the beaches and partying. Other spots like Fanabe and Costa Adeje are great for people of different nationalities. And for those who love shopping there is El Duque.

El Duque is a beautiful place almost like paradise with sunny weather and entertaining activities. The beaches are full with people all the time and even at night you’ll find those who love to enjoy the nightlife out and about. It is a nice and warm place even in the winter.
Canary IslandsIn Playa de Las Americas you’ll find lots of exciting and fun stuff to do for entertainment, but to make it easier for you, we are going to list a few places here:
1.Eden Catamaran is a tour by boat, famous for whale watching and dolphins. You can even snorkel and swim.
2.K16 Surf Shop: Famous for shops, monuments and water sports.
3.Piramide de Arona: A theatre.
4.Wannadive
5.Golf Las Americas: For those who enjoy golfing and it is not that far from the city.
6.Exit Palace: Theaters that include dinner along with watching performances.
7.Veronicas Strip
8.Linekers Bar is a well known chain of bars.
9.Freebird Sailing
10.The Patch: A place where you can find lots of bars and restaurants to eat.

Canary Islands BeachesAnd in case you are looking, here is also a list of nightclubs that you might like:
11.Babewatch Lap Dancing
12.Bobby’s Club
13.Busby’s Club
14.Crows Nest Club
15.Jumpin Jacks Club
16.Sound of Cream Club
The Playa de Las Americas is an amusing place where all kinds of people, of all ages and from different countries will love spending their time. Everything you want, you will find it on this unique island. Happy Vacation!

Neither a Traveler Nor a Tourist – Are You A Moovist ?

I don’t like to be described as a traveler nor as a tourist. I’m something else. Since no word exists, I’m going to coin it here. I am a Moovist (pronounced Moove-ist).

I’ve met lots of people who are away from home. Among the backpacker crowd there is always that cute declaration that they’re not tourists, but travelers.

touristIf you’re like me, you’re neither a traveller nor a tourist. Not really anyway. I never knew what to call us so I decided to make up a new word – Moovism, Moovist. We’re not on our way around the world (at least not with a timetable that falls within 1-2 years or with a set agenda), we don’t have the money for fancy travel gear or cameras, we aren’t even really traveling…we’re moving. There is a big difference.

If you want to tell me I’m wrong and point to the many places I’ve been, then you need to look at this blog a little closer.

Reread some posts about the places I’ve been.
In 1995 I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina thinking it would be great. It wasn’t what I expected.
In 1996 I moved to Bellingham, Washington. It was and is great, but I wanted to be more than a big fish radio guy in a small pond. Besides, I wanted something different in terms of culture and weather.
In 1998 I got rid of my things again and moved to both Alaska and the UK with the intention of staying, though I didn’t.

In 2001, I got rid of all my possessions and went to Asia looking for a home. I wandered from China to Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and a few other places and ended up in Sumatra where I took a job teaching and started to build a life. This was at the point that George Bush was starting to create problems for Americans living in Muslim countries and I took the advice of my friends in Parapat and ‘went home for my own safety’. Only when I got back to the USA did I realize I had made a terrible mistake.

Later that year, I again got rid of everything and jumped to Hawaii with $100 and no plan but to escape the insane American patriotism that was gripping the USA post 9-11. I didn’t have enough money to go back to Asia, so I went to Hawaii where I thought there would be less fervor and insanity. I was right.
I admit that while in Hawaii I did some ‘traveling’ and some ‘tourism’ while exploring the other islands and going to Tahiti although with the Island of Kauai, I moved there for almost 2 years.

In 2003 I went to the Philippines and planned to stay but when the plot of my girlfriend’s brothers to kill me and my brother was discovered, I had to abandon my plans of building a mead empire in the barangay and my bride to be too, after all, when you marry a Filipina, you marry the family and if they want to kill you with big knives, it’s not a good sign of things to come.

After that, I stayed in Hawaii until 2008 when I achieved a degree in Anthropology from the University of Hawaii and once again got rid of all my possessions and set out to find a new home outside of the USA.
I made my way to the East Coast of the USA in the cheapest way seeing the people and places I didn’t want to miss and then I jumped the pond to Spain, started exploring Europe in search of a place to live (Granada almost had me!) and then to Morocco where I fell in love and lived for nearly two years, though I did have to make a trip back to the USA to fix my paperwork so I could get married and I arranged my necessary movement to accommodate seeing some places I’d never been (travel and tourism – see? I’m guilty too) Germany, Ireland, France, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, Quebec, etc.

Are they travelers? The point is that I was actually on my way to someplace for the purpose of living there. I wasn’t just traveling to see, though I admit that in all of my moovism there is an element of both the touristic and the travelistic. I mean, I want to see places and things along the way. I believe that the journey is just as important as the destination and in some cases, more important. I’m a traveler and a tourist and for that, I deserve to be insulted and belittled too. Maybe I’m just confused. Somehow though, travel and tourism just seem – fucked up.
I came to Turkey- not as a tourist but evaluating if it would be possible to move here with my wife. Sure, we did a lot of travelistic and touristic things, but mainly we were looking to see if we could live here. We decided yes and so back in Morocco, I got rid of just about everything she would let me and I moved again.

Look, seriously. I’m not dissing you travelers out of spite. I love that you go out and see the world. I’m not dissing the tourists without a purpose either, I love that they are expanding their worldview (and their wastelines). If they hadn’t of shown those slides, maybe you never would have left home, but what I’m saying is that I don’t feel at home with travel or tourism as it exists anymore. You both make me envious, excited and slightly disgusted at the same time. We need to rethink global tourism.

So, by way of closing here is my new ‘cute’ breakdown of the difference between travelers, tourists, and moovists.

Tourist – Someone who has a set agenda, knows what they will see, where they will be, and when they will return to home, family, work, etc.

Traveler – Someone who travels without as many known details as the tourist but still plans to return at some point to home, family, work, etc.

Moovist – Someone who gives up home, family, work, etc. and sets off to another place with the intention of staying for an indefinite period of time and no plans of returning to home, family, work etc. I suppose, you could also say a Moovist is a vagabond.

I’m a Moovist although I admit, I’ve also been a tourist, a traveler, and of course, I remain a vagabond.

Maybe I’m worse than a tourist because I don’t spend as much money and worse than a traveler because I don’t go away at the end of the day. I don’t know.

What about you? How can we improve the act of travel? What is wrong with global travel today? What is right with it?

Vagobond Travel Museum – A European Wander

Much to my surprise, what I had thought would be a sort of never ending, round the world holiday, had suddenly become mired down in love – mainly because I’d fallen in love with a Moroccan girl with no passport and in order to bring her into my world – I had to get the right papers, find a job, and prove that I could be a good husband.  Not easy when my plan hadn’t included any of these things, I was thousands of miles from home, and I didn’t even really like being in Morocco. I needed time to think. I needed to step away.

My bride to be had told me that I could marry her or that she would understand if I chose the world instead…frankly, things had moved so quickly, that I needed to see if the world still held the same appeal – so I decided to take a few weeks, explore a bit of Europe, visit some friends along the way and clear my head.

This trip was all about deciding whether to continue traveling and leave the girl behind or whether to follow my heart and leave the travel behind – or perhaps to find a way to marry both the girl and the road. In any event, things quickly turned south when all three of my debit cards were shut down because I had yet to learn that banks need to be notified that you will be using ATMs when you are abroad.

This particular trip follows up on leaving Hawaii, taking an Amtrak across the USA, spending my first month in Spain, and then finding love in Morocco. So, there was a lot going on as I tried to figure out what the hell to do next.

Sevilla – The Flower of Spanish Beauty and Culture

The King of Seville and the Barber of Seville

Brussels – Comic Murals, Skate Parks, and Chess Bars

 

 

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