Over the course of about 11 months, I’ve had the opportunity to visit roughly 15 countries. I don’t say this to brag, I say this to give you an idea of just how many different types of people I’ve come across in this short period of time, and how many times I’ve had the privilege of going through various airport security checks. This equates to a whole lot of unexpected weird shit, especially when you’re dealing with me.
I recently removed the portion about Costa Rica. Maybe someday I'll setup a "B-Side Stories" blog about some of the more crazy things that transpire in my life.
We were on the beach in Uba Tuba, Brazil, and we had a whole lot of candles that needed to be lit. The sky was turning darker and the clouds leered at us threatening to shed some extra water weight on us.
We were there for my friends’ re-wedding; they were already married but were doing the ceremony in Brazil for her family and friends.
Nothing too crazy happened up to that point, save for Jaidev and Mikey almost drowning out in the great zealous South Atlantic. Jaidev truly thought it just might be his last day on earth before getting pulled in by someone. We were staying in a house owned by an ex-Playboy model, and it was a sexy place, if I may use that adjective to describe a place. There was a pool in the middle of the house, one outside the house, a sauna, and a bunch of awesome Brazilians.
Make no doubt about it, those Brazilian friends and family will always hold a special place in my heart. And not just because I got really drunk the night of the wedding with them and proclaimed myself to be an honorary Brazilian. They’re just incredibly accepting. Sometimes I wonder if by some freak genetic anomaly someone slipped
My friends, perhaps in a moment of insanity, decided that I was to be the one to officiate the re-wedding. I had never done anything like that, had no spiritual license obtained from the archangel Gabriel, and wasn’t in the slightest bit religious. It didn’t matter, I was in.
The candles just would not light, and we had a small number of matches. The ceremony was going to start soon, the candles wanted to stay in the nether-world, and my friend was wearing shorts and a tank top (a singlet for you international readers). His grandmother approached, and with a voice bordering on anguish pleaded that he at least put on a shirt that didn’t look like it had been worn by a trucker for 5 days on a cross-country trip.
Soon the bride would be approaching in a resplendent white dress, and people were worried. A breeze subtly snuck in and blew out a candle, and a drop or two of rain started to appear on all of our faces like the sky was playing a game of gentle paintball without the paint. We scrambled to get the music going, which was by the group Explosions in the Sky. She appeared from out of the foliage at the outskirts of the beach, and upon seeing her husband, paused with a look of utter bemusement on her face.
If only the photographer could have captured that moment.
She was a tough woman, however, and continued down the sand aisle that we had created. The ceremony was to begin, but before it got completely underway, Josh ripped off his pants and shirt.
No, he didn’t suddenly go crazy and decide to join a nudist colony on a remote Micronesian island.
He had on underneath his shorts a tuxedo speedo. A friend handed over a nice pair of shorts and a crisp white dress shirt for him to don. It was all planned. After much laughing and sighs of relief louder than the rumbling of a volcano from those present, the ceremony went on.
It was beautiful, and at the end, we all took a shot of tequila which was the start to a pretty amazing night in at an ex-Playboy model’s house in Uba Tuba, Brazil.
My notable experience in Argentina is outlined here.
There are a few things that really stand out about the Philippines. The beautiful islands, the warm people, the old expats with young Filipinas, Justin Bieber, and crazy taxi drivers. Oh, and the fact that tampons aren’t sold here, divorce quite literally doesn’t exist (at least in a semantic sense), and like the rest of SE Asia, there is skin whitening cream in every 7-11. Yes, there are myriad 7-11’s in the Philippines and other SE Asian countries.
Following are a couple of real scenarios. The first one happened in Manila, and the second in Cebu.
I was trying to get to Paco Park. The driver that pulled up at the ATM kiosk I had just failed to use wanted to charge me 100 dollars to go a few kilometers (this was after I had already gotten in). I admit I made the mistake of asking him if he took U.S. currency. In response to his request for $100 I started laughing, thinking that he had to be joking.
I told him fuck no, and he kept going down, all the way to 10 or 20 dollars. I wasn't even negotiating, I just kept saying no...to everything. Believe me, that dude wanted to get the Benjamins that I didn't have real bad.
All the while he was pulling away at his cigarette that dangled from yellowish brown lips in front of a few brown rusty looking teeth. He kept leaning in as if proximity was going to somehow sway me one way or the other. After about 1 minute I told him to stop and let me off.
He didn't stop.
Instead, he offered to bring me to a whore. I told him to stop again.
He still failed to stop the car.
He wanted to take me to some bars. I told him to stop and let me out.
He. Kept. Driving.
By that point, I was pissed off and told him to stop the fucking car and let me out. I gave the guy a dollar.
He was incredulous at getting only a dollar. Whatever.
I had just gotten off the ferry that took me from Bohol to Cebu and needed to get a ride to my hotel. After negotiating a price or somehow convincing the guy to use his meter, the taxi ride began. For the 349th time in a span of a month, the opening question was: “where are you from?”
So I told him I was American, and then the fun began.
“Good, Americans don’t smell.”
“Huh?” I murmured.
He then proceeded to go into a politically incorrect diatribe that would make Donald Trump blush.
“The Africans and Chinese smell.”
“What the…” I stammered
Unfettered, he continued on. “It’s because of the spices. Seriously, ask any taxi driver and they’ll tell you. They smell. Americans and Canadians don’t smell, so I was glad to know you were American.”
“Well,” I carefully worked out, “that’s something I’ve never heard in my entire life.”
He then flipped the topic completely to gender, misogamy, and some other crazy shit that I’ve forgotten. This was one conversation that I wish I had recorded but didn’t. “Most of the guys are gays here, that’s why there are so many women. Filipino women will stay at home and take care of the house for you. American women don’t do that. They work right? It’s better having a Filipino woman.”
I had to put on my figurative liberal hat and make it known that the idea of women having to stay home and not work is a social construct and that women can do whatever the fuck they want. Of course, I didn’t say it in so many words. The guy was stalwart in his opinions, like Ron Burgundy in Anchorman. It was just damn interesting. He dropped me off, and I got my supposedly non-smelling ass in the hotel.
Additional Quick Notables
- Divorce doesn’t technically exist, and tampons aren’t sold there.
- What is sold there is the ever-ubiquitous whitening cream, which I soon found is everywhere in SE Asia.
- To board the ferry that goes from Tagbilaran to Cebu you have to go through 3 ticket booth lines, qualifying it as the most inefficient ticketing system in the history of the world. I still love the Philippines.
- You can ride a bike suspended 1 mile in the air on cables on the island Bohol.
- I got a tattoo from a tattoo artist without a sketch. I just let him roll.
- When I went to Padang Padang beach, it was beautiful but pretty disgusting. While swimming out it felt like I was literally swimming through a landfill. You could probably find things you may need like I don’t know, toothpaste, used underwear, half used aerosol cans, oil filters, every candy wrapper known to man and alien, etc.
- The Indonesian authorities will kill you if you try and smuggle drugs: http://mashable.com/2015/04/28/indonesia-bali-nine-australians/#NZ2hZAWZ5kq4
I don’t really have any weird stories from NZ. Even if something weird happened it was overshadowed by the sheer beauty of that place.
I wrote about some interesting times in Australia in the following posts:
Same with Vietnam; here are a couple of posts:
Nothing too crazy here, though I did hang around with one of the craziest people I’ve ever met one night. Maybe I’ll tell you all about it sometime.
Thailand is awesome and depending on where you go, can be very chill or extraordinarily crazy. Phuket can be like a joint, a 5th of whiskey, and a couple lines of cocaine all rolled into one adventure (I’m being figurative here people). On the flip side, Koh Lanta or Chiang Mai can be chill like a bourgeois white picket fence.
Nothing really notable here with regard to WTF moments.
There were two things about Hong Kong that threw me for a loop:
- I saw a number of old dudes walking around shirtless, one of which was giving a haircut. It was just interesting seeing this very old and dude with a buddha belly giving someone a haircut without a shirt on. I mean, I just can’t imagine it would be very comfortable for the person getting the haircut.
- It’s a beautiful place with a lot of cool trails and beaches.
I love Lombok. When I first arrived I hired a driver to take me to the place I was staying on the southern end of the island. The following conversation ensued, which will be Lombok #1:
Driver: “Oh you’re from America?”
Driver: “Is it true that you have a lot of aliens there?”
Me: “You mean like immigrants…people who are in the United States either legally or illegally?”
Driver: “No, I mean aliens…from outer space.”
Me: “…oh…no, we don’t. That’s just stuff on the television that isn’t true.”
Lombok #2 is the best quote from a German friend of mine who said this while we were trekking up Mount Rinjani:
“Who needs sex when you have tea with sugar?”
Ben Affleck is posing as a German for an up-and-coming role. Well, not really (that I know of). It’s just that this dude I met staying at the same place as I looked exactly like Ben Affleck.
Gum is illegal.
There was nothing too unexpected here, but there are a few things worth mentioning.
1. In Munich, there are many naked people who sunbathe along the river Isar.
2. A friend of mine from Munich took me to a spot where we could climb and get the best possible view of the Neuschwanstein castle. Evidently, it was “illegal” for us to be there, and there were about a million signs saying the equivalent of “stay the fuck out.”
On the way up and down, my friend made some pretty hilarious comments. Here they are:
Friend: “You know what I mean when I say "dangerous" right? It means if you fall you'll probably die.”
Most of that trail fell under the "dangerous" designation
Friend: “If you see a lot of rocks falling, just run to the side. I'm serious. I have no idea what may happen with all of this loose rock. It's not a real trail.
It's very illegal for us to be here.”
A discussion with some very awesome dudes from South Korea at a hostel:
Awesome dudes from S. Korea, talking about the general height difference between Koreans and a lot of people in Austria:
“Maybe we're shorter because gravity is stronger where we're at.
“I’m pretty sure that's not scientifically sound.”
So there you have it; a taste of the interesting I experienced while on my global journey.