Whistle Another Day

My grandma asked me something a couple of decades ago now that I still think about from time to time, she asked “Why don’t I ever hear people whistling anymore? Men used to walk down the road whistling a tune in the morning, now it seems nobody does it anymore. Do people still whistle?”

I never grew up in my grandma’s time, but I do remember people whistling in some of the older books I have read, as well as in movies and on TV, The Andy Griffith show pops in my head when i think about old time whistling.


Wow look at how young Ron Howard was back then.

I remember as a child I had wanted to whistle, I used to practice it when I was very young, and got fairly decent at it. Whistling though, seems to have become somewhat of a lost art. I wonder, why people had stopped whistling? Is it possible people don’t whistle in the rest of the world as well these days? I don’t remember hearing any whistling by anyone on my world travels. Well other than myself, including the occasion I will tell you about below.

As many of you know, in my early twenties, I took quite a long, nineteen consecutive month, trip around Asia. After my first stop in Hong Kong, I made my way to the old Portuguese settlement of Goa, situated on the west coast of the Indian subcontinent. Goa is a wonderful place described in the Lonely Planet as something similar to “Perfect tropical suburbia” It also boasts ridiculously beautiful beaches, occasional surfing, and a night life that often carries right through till the afternoon of the next day. Though my European readers are of course completely familiar with Goa and all its stories, for some reason North Americans, for the most part, have not discovered it.

Goa Beach Palolem

Goa Beach In the Afternoon

About a month into this trip, which I had taken on my own, I had already found a good bunch of male British friends to spend my time with, but I was especially happy when I found myself a couple of lovely, and fun, female British friends, one was named Trudy, and the other, Klowie.

Trudy, Klowie, and I had many adventures around Goa together. After sleeping off a night of partying, we would often jump on our motorbikes, and head off to eat our afternoon breakfast at the local German bakery, on a few occasions if we all got up early enough, we would then head off to some remote, quiet beaches, or perhaps a nice hot springs for a soak in the middle of the jungle, just the three of us. It was great, just me and two pretty ladies. Though I suspected both might have been interested me, I was growing closer, faster to the lovely, long brown haired, Trudy.

As Trudy and I continuing to get closer, Klowie had stopped spending as much time with us, after a while though Klowie would still eat breakfast with us, it was normally just Trudy and I for the rest of the day. We were still not a couple at this time, but one lovely full moon night, like something out of a romance novel, Trudy mentioned how dirty her hair was, and I suggested that I should wash it for her. OK not really a romance novel, but it was the way it happened. So off we went back to her place for some good old team scrubbing.

CENSORED

Somewhere around 5 AM the two of us were still awake, and not wanting to sleep, we left her hotel for a nice long full moon lit walk down the long empty beach. We were both smiling as we held each other’s hands. After some time, the moon and stars faded, and the sky started to get light with the coming sun. As the sun was rising, the waves were breaking on the shore, a school of dolphins were spotted, birds were chirping, and then for some reason in my happiness I began to whistle a soft practiced tune.

At the sound my my whistling, Trudy stopped, looked at me, and said. “Stop that.”

“Stop what?” I asked.

Trudy looked at me sternly. “Stop your whistling, I’m not going to walk around with someone whistling.”

“Why?” I said “There is nobody around.” and then proceeded to continue my tune.

Trudy turned around, and stormed away from me, off the beach, as I stood there, whistling. Once Trudy was out of sight, and I realized she was not coming back, I lost my moment of happiness, and no longer felt like whistling anymore.

Trudy and I only saw each other once after that, across a crowded room, but we did not talk.

I do not regret my continued whistling that day, though Trudy left me alone, I was free to whistle another day.

A song for Trudy:

Simian Madness

A few weeks ago my girlfriend and I decided to take a week off, for a short trip to one of my favorite quiet tropical beaches around the Cambodian/Thai border, just a few kilometers away from the beach I wrote about in “Beach Beyond The Guidebooks” We decided to go to this beach, because the Beach Beyond The Guidebooks beach did not have any water or electricity, and this time I was determined to be conveniently clean, and be able to recharge my laptop.

It is a very beautiful beach with many types of restaurants within walking distance, usually cooked by the nationality themselves, things like French Food, Chinese, Italian, Cambodian, Mexican, Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, American, and there is even a Canadian restaurant, I never knew such things existed!

The beach itself has a white powder like sand, the kind of sand that sort of jumps up and separates as you step down on it, there are lots of little crabs running around, who will run and hide in their sandy holes as you approach. The sand continues right deep into the ocean where on stormy days, waves decent enough to surf on, break in the shallow bay.

The two of us ended up renting a normally vacant, thirty year old or so teak house part way up a cliff facing the beach for about twelve US dollars per night, it was clean, had air con, electricity, hot water, and also a very large balcony, with a beautiful sunset facing view, below you can see exactly what I saw from my patio every day. I found I spent a lot of time there on the patio, every morning, afternoon, and evening was a stunning one, but all was not perfect in our little the house on the hill.

View Of The Beach From Our Balcony

View Of The Beach From Our Balcony – Click to Enlarge

Now as you can see in the image, everything pretty much from the water up is covered in virgin rainforest, the kind of stuff that is hard to see these days, because it is first growth, ancient, rainforest, that has probably been there since before the dinosaurs. The area around and above this house was all ancient rainforest also, and in that forest not only are there foot long grasshoppers, centillions of ants, giant moths, scorpions, crocodiles, huge lizards, pythons, cobras, bear, boar, deer, and wild elephants, but there are also some little, annoying, chaotic, but always amusing monkeys.

Monkey Behind Us On The House

Get Off Our Turf

The house had been vacant for a while before we got there, and I think the troop of monkeys that fed daily around and above the house had pretty much decided that we were invading their turf. Mostly they just left us alone, and we hadn’t had any real problems with them, we watched them each morning for a few days, and listened to them calling at one another from a distance in the jungle, but on the fifth day, while returning from a swim on the beach, we found them around and on top of our house, some of them were actually standing right in front of the door. They are fairly large and a few of them together defiantly demand some respect. We approached them slowly and they backed away from the door slowly, eventually we could get in the house. As the monkeys were still running around on top of the house and around the doors we decided to stay inside a bit until they left.

After a while we went out on  our balcony and looked around to see where they were, I brought my camera to take some picture if I could. Some of them were on the trees above us, and some of the others had run over to another house down the hill a bit. After a short while there was a huge bang on the roof, a very large branch had dropped a hundred meters or so from the trees above us where some monkeys were, onto the roof, putting a fairly large hole in it, after a while we went outside again to try and get some pictures, and look what decided to come down and inspect the freshly made hole.

Monkey On The Roof

Are You Seriously Going To Blame Me For This?

There was quite a bit of movement on top  of the house again, so we took shelter back inside, after a few moments, they dozen or so monkeys started screaming, then things started banging all over the house, as the monkey had all decided to throw  branches and fruit at the house for a while. After a  couple minutes of this, all calmed down, and we were once again able to go outside, they had finally moved on.

Later that evening when we were heading out for dinner, we discovered they had stolen one of my girlfriends shoes. We looked around for it for quite a while but it was no where to be found. The shoes were not very expensive, and thankfully she had brought another pair so it was not that big a deal. We enjoyed our evening  and went to sleep to the sound of the monkeys occasionally fighting with one another in the trees.

In the morning I woke up itching, to my horror I soon discovered fire ants all over the bed, I jumped out and onto the floor only to find out there were millions  more all over the floor also, I had never experienced quite so many ants running all over me in my life, nor seen so many in such a small area as I did that morning, and fire ants are some of the worst ants around as they are very aggressive. I jumped in the shower and quickly got the ants off me, then turned on all the lights so as to see a safe passage through the house without getting too many more on me. I went outside on the balcony to see the reason for the invasion. The fruits the monkeys had pelted the house with had attracted all the ants. It is amazing the amount of trouble a group of monkeys can cause in just a matter of minutes. We left later that day, as was planned, though I am sure the monkey were all high fiving each other as we left, thinking it was a victory well fought.

I will return to the beach a few more times over the next couple of years, although the monkeys were an occasional pain in the behind, they provided entertainment, and I am glad they were there. I plan on staying in the same house, and we will probably see them again soon. They probably won’t be there much longer however, as there has been some roadway development on the bluff, someone has begun building condos on a hill, and a five star hotel is being built right in the center of the beach, so soon the trees will be gone, and with it the monkeys, the beach will become spoiled, and in order to find an unspoiled beach, we will be forced to go back to Beach Beyond The Guidebooks once again, hopefully by that time they will have running water.

I Never Reached Superman

A long time ago, when I was six, I remember fondly walking outside the theatre after seeing the Superman Movie for the first time. I was not just simply walking however, but striding, and jumping. I was convinced that if I could just get it all right, I too would eventually be able to fly.

As many women grow up with the ideals of Barbie in their heads, the pretty blond with the attractive figure, closets full of clothing, cute dog, handsome boyfriend, a house, and the corvette. I grew up with thoughts of being Superman, the honest good looking guy every girl wanted, using his superhuman abilities such as super strength, laser beam eyes, super breath, and virtual indestructibility, to flight the bad guys, and save the world.

That really is a lot to live up to.

Superman Movie Poster 1978

Superman Movie Poster 1978

I am sitting here now thinking of all the things I did to try and be a bit like Superman, the physical training I have put myself through, and the risks I have taken. I am not sure why I did it, if it was for the adrenaline or to prove something to myself, but I did it just the same.

When I was young, I used to like to jump off of things, each time I tried to jump from just a little bit higher than the last time. I would sometimes jump off things while riding other objects such as my bike, skis or skateboard, all in the attempt to just see if I could do it, and feel what it would be like to fly just a little bit. I have still not grown out of this really, just last week, I jumped off the roof of a sixty storey tower on a zip line, it was pretty cool, but Superman would have just leaped over the building in a single bound.

If you want to be a superhero, of course you need to learn to fight. At the age of ten I started to study Karate. I had to postpone my studies at thirteen for a couple of years, as I broke my arm quite badly while testing to see if I was indestructible, I am not. I later continued studying various martial arts formally for about eighteen years. I fought a few times, I even managed to defeat the number four ranked fighter on the Canadian kickboxing team several times. I never fought any higher ranked fighters. I found I did not like hurting people, and didn’t really like getting hurt either.  If  Superman kick boxed,  he would be number one, I don’t think he minds the pain so much, but I know he doesn’t like hurting people either.

I did a fair bit of mountain and rock climbing in my life, but for some reason volcanoes were always the most interesting to me, there is just something about their sheer awesome lava spewing power that I found irresistible, and once you get to the top, you not only get a view, but you also get to look in to their centre. One of the most memorable volcanic experiences I had was in the northern Philippines, after climbing the volcano, my friend and I then climbed for hours through the lava tubes inside it, right into it’s underground river systems. There is nothing quite like squeezing through small limestone holes and dropping ten meters or so through pure darkness into pools of fresh drinking water. Another memorable volcanic occasion was when I had a semi active volcano I was standing on in Indonesia erupt right under my feet, thankfully I survived. I had this picture taken of me, standing right over its billowing molten heart less than a minute before it erupted. I ran away in fear  from the top of the volcano as it exploded, I am pretty sure I freaked out a little bit also. Superman would not have freaked out or ran, he would have kicked that volcano’s ass.

Scott Vs The Volcano - Seconds Before An Eruption

Scott Vs The Volcano - Moments Before An Eruption

 

Large waves are another force I have felt a powerful attraction to. I have learned to swim and surf in some huge waves over the years. One particularly wavy January day in southern India, I chose to ignore the warning siren of the concerned lifeguards in the lighthouse on the point, and the people on the loudspeakers warning us of a dangerous wave coming into the bay. I had seen their “dangerous” waves before, and felt I could handle them. Larger waves break further out, so as everyone else was busy getting out of the water, I swam out into deeper water to get ready to body surf this wave.  After a moment, I found as I looked out past the fairly common five meter wave in front of me, I was able to see a much larger wave towering over that one, I would guess it was seven meters high or so.  Realizing it was breaking too far out for me to ride it, I was forced to swim towards it as fast as I could, so as not to get caught in its dangerous break. Once I reached the top of that wave, which was shockingly high, I could see an even larger wave coming, it was already well over eight meters tall, and still growing fast. I swam towards this truly giant wave as quickly as I could, there was no way to get away from it as it was sucking me towards it as it was building its height. I made my way over it just as it was beginning to fall, I am not sure how high it was exactly, I would guess ten meters or so, I remember looking over at the people on the beach, as I crested it, I was both a long ways from them, and towering over them, as they scattered up the beach, and away from the water. Luckily, I made it over the wave before it broke, because when the enormous wave did fall, it fell right over top of the beach, destroying quite a few things, including some holiday houses, the retreating wave then brought all sorts of things back into the water with it, chairs, tables, doors, glass, dogs and even some other people. The next thing I knew I was being sucked a good kilometer or so, at a very high speed out into the open ocean. It took me an hour or so of hard swimming to finally make it back to the beach. Of course Superman would have just started flying and saved everyone, but for me, my own survival was barely possible.

I have saved four people’s lives, two people were drowning once in Goa, and I swam out with a large log for all of us to grab onto and swim back to shore. One time when I was in Thailand, a lady that could not swim fell into a river in Bangkok, I grabbed her hand as she was going under the water to pull her up. Another time in Indonesia, a group of people were trying to kill my rickshaw driver, something about him picking me up on their turf. One of them smashed a large brick into his head, and I stood up to them all. They decided not to fight us both, my driver was bleeding quite a bit from his head, but he survived because of me. I really am quite proud of actually saving some lives, Superman would have done the same, but of course for each one I saved, he saved a billion.

Although I have a lot of stories about things I have done, I look back and notice a pattern of me putting myself in harms way, in hindsight it seems a little bit stupid,  and when I really think about it, I am a little surprised that I am still alive. I tried hard to do as much as I could, but now as I am nearing forty, my body is in its decline, and my risk taking days have ended, I realize, for all my efforts, not for a moment, did I ever come close to being Superman.

Five For Fighting (John OndrasikOndrasik) Superman – It’s Not Easy Lyrics

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
I’m just out to find
The better part of me

I’m more than a bird…i’m more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside a train
It’s not easy to be me

Wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
About a home I’ll never see

It may sound absurd…but don’t be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed…but won’t you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
It’s not easy to be me

Up, up and away…away from me
It’s all right…you can all sleep sound tonight
I’m not crazy…or anything…

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
Men weren’t meant to ride
With clouds between their knees

I’m only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me
Inside of me
Inside me
Yeah, inside me
Inside of me

I’m only a man
In a funny red sheet
I’m only a man
Looking for a dream

I’m only a man
In a funny red sheet
And it’s not easy, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm…

Its not easy to be me

Different Priorities

Almost two decades ago, I veered sharply away from the track that hosts the rat race, and started to cut my own paths. Nobody really understood why I did it, and some people feel they can no longer relate to me because of it.

Back in 1994, when I was 22 years old, my financial life was going pretty well, I already owned most of my fully furnished 1200 sq foot, 8th floor condo overlooking both a National Park, and the city of Calgary. I had just become the corporate sales trainer for an international electronics company, a job which included the responsibility of hiring, firing, and training about 150 people at any one time.  I was on track for a $60,000 income that year already, but on a recent business trip to Los Angeles, stock options had just been offered to me, as well as a substantial raise. The real serious money was about to come rolling in.

The beginning of my corporate life was like sitting down to play the first two levels of a video game I had been anticipating for quite some time, only to discover it was just too easy for me to invest any more of my time in. As far as I was concerned at that moment, I had already proven to myself that I was going to win the game. The constant business trips eventually became boring to me. Though the meetings were all in different restaurants and cities, I was always meeting with the same people usually we would order the same things, talk about the same business, and have the same discussions after too many of the same drinks.

I decided it was time for me to step out of the rat race for a bit, and try and live a more interesting life than I was living. Making money, talking about how to make more money, training people, and in general just getting the business done was pretty boring after a while. My father had worked very hard until the day he died, and I did not want this to happen to me.

Before I could quit my job, I decided I should sell all my stuff, so I proceeded to sell my condo and car, big screen TVs, my CD and movie collection, my couch, my stereo systems, my dresser, microwave, coffee machine, waffle maker, dinner table, pots, pans, plates, knives, forks, spoons, phones, my bed, bedsheets, and even my towels.

With everything I had accumulated with my five years of productive work since I had left my childhood home turned into cash I was able to buy my backpack, quit my job, and begin my travels.

I bought a one way ticket to India. Why India? you might ask. A very well travelled friend who had hired me at the electronics firm originally had recommended it to me, of course by this time he had actually become one of my employees, but he was still a friend, and wasn’t resentful of me moving up so fast.

One night in a restaurant as we discussed my trip to India over steak and beer, some woman at another table, chose to interrupt us just to tell us that India was a horrible place and asked us why would we go there. We asked her if she had been and she said “No”. I chose to ignore her.

Kovalam India 94

Kovalam Beach In India

India was amazing, I could type story after story here about things that I saw in India, did in India, and experienced in India that are probably well beyond most peoples imagination. So I will skip that for now, but will give a few reasons why India was the best place I have ever been, of course I could also give you the same amount of reasons why it was the worst, but here I will just add the best.

I love beaches, I love waves, and surfing, I love snorkeling and scuba diving and India has the longest coastline in the world, the beaches are incredibly beautiful and usually almost completely unspoilt. It has the oldest cities in the world, with the oldest temples in the world in it. It of course has jungles, deserts, and the Himalayas are the highest mountain range in the world. An amazing history of being the birthplace of most of the major religion in the world. The first churches and temples of every major religion, always seem to be in India. Every jungle topped hill you can climb in India, has a view of ancient temples, stupas, churches, mosques, castles and fortresses, most of which are older than Western written history. It was a fantastic trip, I was present at many astounding parties with thousands of westerners in some amazing places, no one could ever understand without going there.

Hampi India 95

Hampi India in 1995

Ten months into my first trip, I returned to my home country of Canada for my brothers wedding, I had suffered a nasty parasitic infection called giardia in India that nearly killed me, I lost a third of my body mass, and looked almost like a walking skeleton, my short business haircut had grown ungroomed and uncut for almost a year. I tried to tame the hair for my brothers wedding, which had caused it to look really horrible. I guess I didn’t look as much like a winner as I did before I went traveling to at least some people. At the wedding one of my brothers friends came up to me, and said, “Why did you leave it all man? You had everything? ”

“Why did you leave it all man? You had everything? “

I didn’t know what to say to him, he had just finished university studying commerce, and I guess to him I was on a path to having everything he wanted before I left, namely Money.

I said “Everything man? I had nothing.”

I didn’t know what else I could have said, where would I start to explain to him that a life of working under fluorescent lights, and having only slight variations of the same experiences every day was not a life at all. Without the freedom to do what I wanted and go where I wanted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is just an existence.

I could not write a book about the life I used to have, but the life I have now I could.

Obviously my money could not last me forever, so I often need to work, I returned to my home country in Canada to make a living two times. Although I was able to make good money again, I was not really able to adapt back into life under fluorescent lights. I preferred working in Japan, Korea, and Thailand, although the lighting is pretty much the same, being a stranger in a strange land is always exciting.

I am blessed that I can now work on this website and write for this blog for a living. I enjoy it. I am happy. The best thing about my current job, even though I am not writing about where I am, this particular article has been written during my travels to three different countries, I have been sitting in Kuala Lumpur for part of it, another part I was on a white sandy beach on Ko Samet Island in Thailand with my son, and part of it was written on the edge of the Mekong river in Lao where I sat and enjoyed a meal as the sun set over lush green tropical Asia.

I don’t make a lot of money doing this, I have to take the second class train, and buses where ever I go, but at least I am going somewhere. This to me is more important that being some rich corporate big wig.

I mentioned to a good friend of mine what my brother’s friend had asked me about “Giving it all up”, and he said to me something that seemed to explain the situation completely.

He said “You and him just have different priorities, that’s all.”

Maybe he was right, maybe that is all it is, just different priorities.

I have traveled a lot since then, seen a lot of things, and taken a lot of pictures, these are two of my favorites.

Mentawin People of Siberute 1995

Mentawin of Siberute

Khmer Jungle Temple Angkor Cambodia 1995

Khmer Jungle Temple Angkor Cambodia

Pictures From My Recent Holiday In Lao 2010

Recently I returned from a short trip to Lao, it was good, we had a fantastic hotel room with hot water, air con, satellite TV and everything for only $14 per night,  the rooms were cleaned every day, and the sheets and towels all changed etc.

We ate mostly french food but went to the local all you can eat Barbecue for $4 a person most evenings. The food was good.

The are pictures from a Buddhist park outside of Vientiane Lao.

Millions of tourists every year, cross the bridge within bike riding distance of these two places,  and don’t even know they exist.

Lao Temple Life Heaven Hell

Into The Mouth Of The Giant

Lao Giant Of Death

Giant Carries the Dead to the Next Life

Wold Eather Lao

World Eater

Multiheaded Lao Divine Figure

Divine Figure Watches All

Payana Faces Giant Of Death

Five Headed Payana Faces Giant Of Death

The pictures below are the  only pictures I have with me currently  from the Thai temple in Nong kai that were built by the same monk, after he built the Lao temple.  All though I do have more,  they are in Canada and I am currently in Malaysia. I do plan to travel back to Nong kai in a few months though to take photographs of it.

Thailand Buddhist World Eater

World Eater

Buddha Sits On Piyana, Rising above the Jungle

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