Friday, April 11, 2008
Brizoni's Misadventures Abroad
GREETINGS FROM, UH, ASIA MINOR! I THINK. I'd be more geographically specific, but I have no clue what country I'm in, or if I've ever heard of it. After the fiasco in Jakarta, I just ran for the first train I saw. Didn't have the luxury of knowing where it was headed, other than "away."
I'm the only American I've seen in three days. My cell doesn't work here. Their coinage AND bank(?) notes are shaped like heptagons. When I ask my local guide where I am, he only says "Amakakhlakhbakhkakhlakh, Meester Zoni," which I hope isn't the name of this place. I asked him to write it down, but their alphabet looks like a cursive Korean, with lots of umlauts. I could solve this mystery in a flash if I hadn't left my Regional Ethnicity Color Wheel in the hostel back in Bangkok.
Luckily the gentle Bakalakhaberkaberkatalakh people and I get along well, because I'm stuck here for only the FAA knows how long. Here's a picture of me with my guide (couldn't spell his name if I knew it) chatting up the locals, who turned out to be every bit as lost as we were:
Me coming home at dawn or so from some fertility festival
or funeral, or something. It's Saturday or Tuesday morning
as I type this; Abakalakabookastan is like 58 hours ahead.
Sorry about the hair. They don't sell gel here. But their McDonald's has shish-ka-bobs! Can you believe it? Gotta take the good with the bad, I guess.
What am I doing backpacking in the ass-end of rural India (Bali? Sri Lanka?) when there's terribly important news stories in America to blog about? Here's the gist: I won 50 percent of the publishing royalties for the music in the first Mario game on a bet, and had to fly to Tokyo to collect. I had a day free, so I figured I'd fly in, catch a rickshaw or whatever to Yamamoto-san's brownstone, get the paperwork, have a couple rounds of sake, a few laughs, and fly out. Solid way to spend 24 hours, right?
I must be jinxed. I bought my (first) return ticket on discount carrier BlueFlush (I may be a young, sexy jet-setter, but I'm not made of money) the day before they declared bankruptcy and ceased operations. Every discount airline I booked with that day folded almost immediately after my credit card went through, one after the other. Finally I got fed up, and decided any trip that costs this kind of scratch needs to net me more than a measly Shinjuku pub crawl.
I bought a backpack, some clothes, a hackysack, turned my yen into traveler's cheques, and became an unwashed American youth painting the Orient red on five dollars a day.
First stop: Burma. Or, on odd numbered days, Myanmar. Everyone, and I mean everyone, I met told me all the coups and protests and riots you've heard about lately were all staged, to shoo away all the unwashed backpacking youths.
They seemed cool with me being there, though. Let me tell you something: The dollar still floats like a motherfucker on this half of the globe.
From there I hit all the typical tourist spots: Thailand (always, always check for penis. It's a cliche for a reason, folks), Seoul, Singapore, Fiji, all those temples in India with tons of short candles and finger cymbals lying everywhere, and I spent exactly 47 minutes on what I'm pretty sure was a real life Kong Island. I took a picture, but the big black blur at the top left looks like my finger over the lens. I'd tell you where it is, but my Taiwanese street vendor GPS has worse reception than my cell. Total blind luck I stepped on that ferry in the first place.
Ooh! Almost forgot Micronesia-- like the rest of the world, ha ha. Speaking of funny currency, the tiny island of Yap uses giant rocks for money! Which almost makes sense, when you think about it... and sort of squint. The more expensive ones are heavier. See?
Cool people, though. Cool people everywhere, mostly (just stay away from the Muslim countries. Jesus). And I heard Russia hates us again. And stay away from every non-English speaking country in the Western hemisphere, except for Tijuana, whose economy depends on the safe partying of rich white kids, and one or two cities in Brazil.
I tried to do the responsible thing and book a flight home 2 days ago. Done being burned by cheapo airlines, I picked a real one: American. Whoops. Told you I was jinxed.
You know what? I'm in no hurry to come home. I may be the only chance these people have of seeing an iPod in person before they die (and screw that, they'll break it), but they get CNN on satellite. I'm watching Lou Dobbs Tonight as I eat my big bowl of plain rice for breakfast. You ever watch this calvalcade of sham conservatism? He's enough to drive a man to fill his hollowed-out cat skull with rice wine before morning harvest.