For the last two weeks I’ve been volunteering at a children’s shelter full-time and between that and some unexpected but welcomed work I haven’t had much if any time to think about what to post so pardon me as I try to put something together at the last minute. A couple months back I promised some kids that I’d come back to visit them during their school holiday in June. I told them I would only be staying here in Malaysia for one week however when I tried to leave last week I was unable to deny the earnest pleas of a few little girls who really wanted me to stay. Some of them even went as far as vowing to eat only vegetables and to never eat candy if I stayed, haha. I told them such vows were unnecessary and that regardless of whether or not I stayed they should try their best to eat more vegetables and less candy.
I generally take a wider, distant, and more objective view of things and this allows me to escape all of the emotional ups and downs most people experience however it seems my one remaining weakness/soft spot are kids in these kinds of situations particularly ones I can see are benefiting from my time with them and I know will one day help other people and the planet with what they’ve learned from me. Sitting at a table attempting to explain to some of the teary-eyed kids who are closest to me why I had to leave and why I wasn’t sure when I would be coming back almost made me shed a few tears of guilt. Next time I’m preparing to leave I’ll have to arrange for those few kids to be out and surround the table with a few other kids that saying good-bye to would if anything cause me to shed tears of joy.
For now it looks like I’ll be staying here for the summer so tomorrow I’ll be going back to Thailand to get my skateboard, slackline, and other some other things I’ve missed having around the past two weeks. I look forward to jumping into my cold mountain river and enjoying the peace and nature there for around 5 days before returning here for a 7 or 8 week session at a new place I just rented. They wanted $1000 a month for the house which is in a prime location next to a park and a 3 minute skateboard ride away from the market but I got them to rent me a room and give me a temporary two month stay for $250 a month as they search for someone to rent the entire house long-term. I already told the kids I won’t be putting in the kind of hours I put in the past two weeks and they understood. Hopefully I can toughen them up a little over the next 8 weeks and make my next departure go a little smoother.
P.S. Check out this gorgeous red-tailed racer I had slither into my house in Thailand and this beautiful tree frog I saw here in Malaysia.
There was a tokay gecko at the restaurant near my home and the owners wanted it gone because it was defecating all over their kitchen. A couple of weeks ago I saw it on the wall so I grabbed a kitchen towel to protect myself from it’s blood-drawing bite and captured it. I then proudly showed the owners the big gecko and one of them asked if he could kill it which is what they probably do to any tokay geckos that try taking up residence at their restaurant.
I was like why would you want to kill such a beautiful specimen when you could just walk across the street, a little ways into the forest, and release it into the wild. I told them that’s where I was headed and that I first just wanted to show them the fellow that’s been shitting all over their kitchen. The point of this introduction is to tell you that I had no reason to venture out onto the road and into the forest that night and only did so so I could release this tokay gecko.
A man that lived down the street from me died a few days ago. He was conversing with a neighbor near a coconut tree and…, no a coconut didn’t fall on is head, it was even worse, a coconut fell from the tree, bounced off of a rock, and then hit him in the head. He was taken to the hospital where he spent 3 nights before being discharged and returning home for a family wedding being held at his house and right after the wedding he died. There was a gathering all week at that house, first for the wedding and then for the funeral. I thought I’d share this sad story with you and remind you to be grateful you haven’t died in any freak accidents because any of us could at any time. Hopefully we won’t but the low probability of such an event shouldn’t leave you thinking you’ll always have another day to get something done or to mend a relationship with someone.
Enjoy the full moon tonight and this frog photo I took last month.
Today as I was cleaning around my porch I lifted up a plastic crate and gently tossed it over to the side. Unfortunately there was a gecko stuck to the bottom of it which was nearly decapitated when the crate landed. No surgery I could’ve performed could’ve repaired the severed spinal cord of this poor house gecko. I’ve seen paralyzed dogs using dog wheelchairs however for a gecko that makes a living running up walls this was not an option. So I did the humane thing and smashed its head in with one swift swing of a wooden juggling club. I then grabbed it by its still twitching tail and tossed it into the creek next to my house because I knew it would be immediately eaten by one of the snakeheads that live under the rocks and wait for lizards, frogs, and any other edible items to fall into the water.
I’ve performed a couple other mercy killings over the years but the one that came to mind today was one that took place a couple of months ago at a children’s shelter. There was a sick and/or injured pigeon flopping around in front of the building and although I didn’t know what was wrong with it I could tell by its limp neck and the way it was moving that it was going to die within a day or maybe within hour. I already knew my answer but I asked the kids that were with me at the time if we should let it lay in the sun and let the ants go to work on it until it eventually dies or should we put it out of its misery. We went inside to get out of the sun to discuss the matter. At first a couple of the kids were shocked that I, the person that doesn’t even eat animals, would propose killing one however as we laid out the bird’s only options they started agreeing with me.
As we discussed the matter I saw another kid though the window, a 5 year old boy who was about half the age of the kids I was discussing the matter with, approaching the sick and/or injured bird with a badminton racket and before I could say anything to him he smashed it over the head. We all ran outside to find a dead bird and a little kid still holding the murder weapon with a “How am I going to get out of this one.” expression. It was ironic because we had pretty much come to the consensus that the best thing to do was to kill the bird however the problem was the kid that performed the execution knew nothing of our deliberations and just wanted to smash a bird over the head with a badminton racket. I brought him inside and explained to him in simple English that it was wrong to hit animals and that they should be treated kindly but I also told him that he was lucky that that particular animal was very sick and was already going to die.
I returned to Thailand earlier this month and have been here catching up on some thoughts and things that I put on hold while in Malaysia however as promised I will be going back to visit the kids in Penang next week. Before I do I decided to do the 40 hour water fast that I wanted to do around New Years but put off until I was back in Thailand. As I write this 30 hours in I thought it’d be a good opportunity to challenge you to not eat for a full day and to follow up with an improved plant based diet and healthier eating habits. In the meantime here’s a challenge you can do right now.
Enjoy the full moon and I’ll chime in again a month from now,
P.S. Here’s a slow loris photo I managed to get a couple weeks ago with a camera in one hand and a flashlight in the other along with a few recent photos of the kind of habitat you’re likely to find a slow loris or me living in. I also saw a colugo aka kubong a couple weeks ago but I was unable to get a photo. Speaking of forest gliders I had a paradise tree snake on my porch earlier this month and although I haven’t seen any flying dragon lizards this year I did have a couple fly past me while I was in the forest a few months ago.
Snake Takes Flight
Flying Dragons Of The Jungle
Kubong Gliding Through the Trees
The Truth Behind the Slow Loris Pet Trade
I hope you had a good 2017 and I hope your 2018 will be even better. I’ve been in Penang for the past few months because I had some visa issues in Thailand. The Thai consulate here in Penang red-stamped my passport for too many back-to-back tourist visas and told me that if I wanted to stay long-term I needed a proper long-term visa. The problem is such a visa is a bit of a pain to get, much more so than a tourist visa which doesn’t require many documents, a Thai spouse, or a Thai sponsor, e.g., a business or school. The red warning stamp usually means they won’t issue you any more tourist visas at least not for a while or perhaps until you apply in your home country rather than in one of the countries bordering Thailand however I wrote them a letter explaining why I needed one more and luckily they gave one to me. That last 60 day + 30 day extension = 90 day tourist visa finished in October. When I stopped flying in order to do my part to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions I was afraid this would happen. Before I could fly once a year from Thailand to Taiwan and back and that eliminated the need for me to get too many back-to-back visas in either place. If only Taiwan was a short train ride away from my home in Thailand like Malaysia is.
2017 begins much like 2016 ended, rain and more rain. After a few days of heavy rain the once peaceful little creek that ran along the side of my home has swollen into a raging river. I’m not too worried about that however I am a bit worried about all the rain bringing down a large tree on a steep slope that has my roof in its sights. Earlier today I went to pick some fruit but was unable to make it to the orchard due to much bigger raging river. I thought about testing my luck but if the rapidly moving knee deep water that was covering the narrow bridge took out one of my legs the other would certainly follow and I’d be washed off the bridge and pummeled against many boulders as I was sent downstream so it wasn’t worth it, not even for some rollinia.
Today is the first day of the last month of the year and I hope this month will be far less disappointing than last month. I’ve been relatively busy with work and thinking deep thoughts the past couple weeks so you may have noticed I haven’t been posting like I was Pre-Trump. I won’t be chiming in here again until New Years however in the meantime I will continue to try and help get important links noticed on Twitter.
P.S. A friend of someone I buy fruit from got hit by a car a few days ago in front of the fruit sellers home, went into a coma, and died a few days later. It reminded me of a very promising individual who was hit and killed on his bike at the age of 14 by a careless driver so with both of them in mind I say please be careful on and around the road especially if you happen to be in Thailand or in one of the few other places with as abysmal of a traffic safety record.
Yesterday I took what I guess was a 3 or 4km hike up a slippery mountain slope in search of a waterfall. There were no signs just a very narrow path used by off-road motorcycles which the locals use to haul down fruit. However I went late in the afternoon so the motocross fruit farmers had already gone home for the day and there was nobody in the mountain forest and I couldn’t get a phone signal. Although it was only a short hike from 3G and the rest of civilization you could really feel the disconnect. After a bath in what was probably the coldest water I’ve ever experienced in Southeast Asia I headed back just before it got dark to continue working on some work stuff. Continue reading
Yesterday I was working and reading on my computer for most of the day and didn’t get much farther than my front porch so today I decided to get away from my computer and go for a long walk. Today’s walk was around 20km and culminated in a refreshing swim in a cool mountain river followed by some freshly fallen durian. I’m not a fan of dogs or pets in general, particularly those that are more like prisoners such as caged birds that have been robbed the ability to fly, but any dog that loves durian as much as this old stray/abandoned dog did is fine with me.
I was going to spend a night or two away in order to let the paint dry but the fresh mountain air and tree-ripened organic fruit kept me away for three. I slept in a little wooden bungalow surrounded by trees and immersed in the sounds of frogs, crickets, and other small creatures of the night and as I lay in bed last night I wished that more urban dwelling people had the chance to spend a few nights surrounded by nature because it may teach or remind them that they are a part of a world that is much bigger than their country and the rest of human civilization including any of its creation myths.
Here are a few pictures to stimulate your appetite before you lose it watching tonight’s debate and no I’m not talking about the cows because I don’t find slitting the throats of those gentle beasts, gutting them, and eating the human-like flesh off their human-like bones to be very appealing.
Last time on our way back to Thailand we encountered two police checkpoints and our Thai driver had to bribe the Malaysian police in order to pass without being held up and hassled. When I returned from that visa run last July I sent an email to the Malaysian Tourism Authority, Malaysian Police, and their Anti-Corruption Department however it doesn’t seem to have done much good as they are still stopping and hassling Thai mini-bus drivers and probably some other drivers as well. Even though it didn’t seem to do any good last time I emailed another complaint today.
Next time you see or encounter something that isn’t right and could really use some improvement I hope you’ll take a minute to do something, speak up, or write an email because if enough people do these unjust and inconvenient situations will eventually improve. With that said here’s my 4 day visa run trip from Southern Thailand to Penang in 4 photos.
Yesterday I spent the night at a fruit farm in the middle of fruit season and you don’t get any more “right place right time” than that! Early this morning I went tree climbing for ripe fruit and after breakfast the owner offered me to use his scooter so I went to a couple places in the area that I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise since there was no public transportation available to get to them and I didn’t have enough time to try my luck at hitchhiking which is generally pretty good and is what got me there and back home this evening.
Today was the first time, and probably the last time, I’ve ridden or driven any vehicle that wasn’t powered by my legs this year. Besides being super convenient it was also pretty fun and although scooters burn fossil fuels just like your average car they do it way more efficiently. The scooter I rode around on today got somewhere around 51km/l or 120 mpg. The only way you’re going to match that with the average new car is by loading it up with 4 or 5 passengers and that’s only if you compare it to a scooter with one person rather than a scooter with two or three which is very common here.
Anyone who’s lived or traveled in less developed countries learns quickly to consistently watch their head and where they place their feet. Over the years I have on countless occasions avoided stepping into holes, getting poked in the eyes, or smashing my head into something that shouldn’t have been hanging down or jutting out into a public space. However I’ve also had my share of fails and this morning was one of them. As I was squeezing past people at the market I snagged my thigh on a nail that was jutting about 3cm out of a table. Luckily it was the head of the nail but it still hurt and could’ve resulted in a tetanus infection had it broken the skin. Thanks organic cotton shorts! Continue reading
For the first 15 years of this century I recall visiting an emergency room twice however over the past 5 months I’ve visited the same one 3 times. Today’s visit was the result of a fall while bouldering. I landed barefoot on a rock which snagged my second smallest toe and snapped it like a popsicle stick. I didn’t need a ruler to tell me that thing was pointed in the wrong direction, gross/ouch. I immediately ripped the worn-out organic cotton t-shirt I was wearing into a bandage and used it to tie my bad toe to a good one. I then made my way to the hospital for an X-ray. Continue reading
Last night there was a tourist at a bar and she was alone but met some new friends, a couple from California, who this afternoon told me the following story on a little boat returning from the beach it took place. Yesterday evening after a few drinks this young lady left the bar and was later spotted by her new friends walking with a guy. Not too long after in a secluded place not too far from the bar the guy tried to molest her and while fleeing from him she stumbled and fell off a cliff. Continue reading
Yesterday I decided to go to a hot springs not too far from where I live to soak for a few minutes and swim like a beaver in the muddy brown river that runs next to it. I went to the bus stop to get on a “local bus” which are generally 30 year-old mid-size Japanese trucks with a cap and two benches running along the bed. I happened to know the driver who was in line to take off next and he just happened to be taking the afternoon off and was going to the hot springs to nurse his knee so I went with him. I’ll refer to him as K. K is in his mid sixties and speaks so loudly that I need to use my earbuds as earplugs when I sit up front with him. Continue reading
While in a cave this afternoon I bumped my head on a stalactite. After confirming there was a decent amount of blood leaking from the back of my head I rushed back to civilization to have my scalp pulled back together. Stitches without any procaine aka novocaine, ouch. Luckily I only needed one. The grand total for my emergency room visit was $13. Such a simple and quick procedure probably would’ve cost over $500 in the States. Maybe Republican voters in the U.S. wouldn’t fear socialized medicine so much if they knew how cheap and efficient it could be. Thanks Ministry of Public Health Thailand and all the wealthy and middle class people who paid a little more in taxes so they themselves and everyone else could have access to affordable health care. Physicians for a National Health Program
After hearing about the recent bombings in southern Thailand I figured a few people might visit my site to see if I posted anything about it so I figured I’d post something, but not about it. So what’s up? This past weekend I went for a long walk, about 28km or 17 miles. I set out after a big breakfast at the morning market with no destination in mind. I just knew I wanted out of my room and away from my notes so I started walking. After a couple hours of walking I came across some caves which I did some climbing in and then after a couple more hours of walking I came across a creek which I took a bath in. After that I hitchhiked back home and eventually refueled with a few organically grown tree-ripened bittersweet durians followed by a load of vegetables. Continue reading
I picked up my visa in the afternoon as soon as they started handing them out to all the people that applied the morning yesterday and as soon as I got it I dashed for the border taking a series of local buses in hopes that, unlike last time, I could get through before dark. I made it to the border crossing at dusk and when it was almost my turn to get checked out and stamped in a guy from Singapore in front of me who arrived with me on the same bus told me to put 1 MYR in my passport with my arrival card to speed things up. I told him I would not be doing that and was thinking not only would I not give them the equivalent of a U.S. quarter for simply doing their job and be complicit in corruption I wouldn’t even give them a penny, not even a really dirty one I was just looking to get rid of. Continue reading