some days i feel like a brown bean...
bon news, bad news...
bad news: i went to the optometrist this week for a much anticipated eye exam. he told me that i was getting very old, my vision will only get worse, and when i get sick of taking off my glasses to see close objects, come back for bifocals. ouch. i forked over ninety bucks to be shot down in flames.
good news: the egyptian opticians did a really good job with my current glasses. they got the prescription spot on according to the doctor.
walk down memory lane...
i had a big bag of old t-shirts to sort out yesterday. THE find of the day? a shirt commemorating the 1978 commonwealth games in edmonton. my friends, it was like finding the holy grail. here's the bonus, it can be yours!!! wow, the first ever BTOG contest with a real prize. submit an essay, 1000 words or less but at least 50 words, expressing to BTOG the emotions you experienced as you watched diane jones-konihowski light the games' flame in commonwealth stadium back in '78. you have till december 19th to make submissions - just in time for xmas. out of town winners will be responsible for postage. good luck.
if there aren't any takers, i'll ebay the sucker. t-shirt memorabilia is sellin' for big bucks these days.
on more of a personal note, i found shirts that i wore for house league sports in junior high!! they still fit!! well, not really. anywho, i loved junior high. these shirts will be the first artifacts in the BTOG museum of natural history.
on tuesday night, gina and dave showed up unannounced at my doorstep. i love their spontaneity sometimes. ha. they wanted me to go to the flix with them. the weather was frigid that dark and stormy night but i decided to go with them. it sure beat huddling in front of the puter all night long trying to draw every btu of heat coming off the screen trying to keep warm.
off we went to see the Bourne Ultimatum starring the always hot matt damon. i was in trouble even before i stepped in the theatre. little did know watching the first two movies of the trilogy would have been helpful in understanding the third. dave told me to focus on two words during the movie: amnesia and revenge.
without his advice i would have been totally lost because the the action started about 10 seconds in and kept going, at a million miles per hour, all night long: brilliant chase scenes, fisticuffs, gun play, bad guys posing as good guys, and relentless plot twists. with the occasional flashback, dave's answers to my constant questions that began with "what/who the hell was that...", and the mantra of "amnesia...revenge..." rattling in my brain, i managed to follow along.
my review: Ultimatum was astounding in a flabbergasting way.
my recommendation: go to the library and sign out the Bourne I and II dvds, then watch III again.
what would a blog posting be without talking about global warming?
first, congrats to all my aussie friends for voting out their Bush crony of a PM.
second, my take on the current post-kyoto global warming talks in indonesia is this: china and india should call PM Steve-o's bluff and sign on to a pact that calls for mandatory c02 emission targets.
my prediction: PM Steve-o still won't sign on but it'd be fun to watch him squirm for a while.
is this tv show for real? it's hot...
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Saturday, December 01, 2007
(caution: do not lick metallic poles in sub-zero temperatures, you may be in for a nasty surprise)
for all those who know me, i'm pretty much a night owl. when i'm not partying or out on the town till all hours, i'm watching cool shows like letterman or conan.
suffice to say, the anguish i've suffered because of the writers' strike has been immeasurable.
for the love of god, i hope the repeats come to an end soon.
here's to the writers. studios, show them the money. they're not asking for the moon...
bubba's running tip of the day...
i'm often asked, "bubba, how do you pull off the herculean effort of running in minus 20 Celsius weather?"
good question, my friends.
first, minus 20 Celsius is nothing.
second, dress for the occasion. as with everything in life, it's not the volume but the quality of the clothes you choose that is the salient feature.
wear layers and wear them often.
for example today, for my upper torso, i wore 2 wicking layers comprised of nike "dry fit" material and 1 cotton long sleeve t-shirt. not finished yet... these were sandwiched between a base layer of MEC midweight transport long-sleeved polypropylene t-shirt and an outer windproof nylon jacket.
for the lower body, i wore a base layer of MEC midweight polypropylene long underwear. on top of that, my usually jogging shorts. then finally the gnarliest wrecked sweatpants (complete with strategically place vents) ever.
add mitts and a toque (with a totally breathable lining made of a super secret material), and i'm good to go.
(caveat emptor: the above ensemble is only meant as an anecdotal suggestion. if emulated, beware of any high voltage taser-like static electrical discharge that may occur upon disassemblage. persons with medical histories such as cardiac arrhythmia, and/or psychotic anxiety episodes should consult with a physician before wearing similar clothes and/or embarking on cold weather activities. BTOG is not responsible for any injuries resulting from electrocution or any other contraindications resulting from the above garment suggestions or extreme exercise programmes.)
Sunday, November 25, 2007
there's only a few minutes until the biggest CFL game of the year. so, for what it's worth, here is my prediction:
heart says winnipeg blue bombers in a squeeker. i like underdogs. i saw enough of this dimdoodle quarterback in the east final. he played ok against what was supposedly the best defence in the league. he could be worse. as for experience, it may be over-hyped. he might have a jeff garcia game. then he might not.
brain says the saskatchewan roughriders will run away with it. that hurt me to write. hopefully, they are off their game.
so, heart + brain = saskatchewan in a squeeker.
just sittin' here eating cheezies and watching the pregame festivities on the tube. they just had a piece on the 55 year history of the CFL on the CBC. hmmm...flashbacks of announcers like don chevrier, ernie afghanistan, ted reynolds, and don whitman. damn, those are really old school guys, eh.
got to get some more snacks.
go stamps go!!!
ps. spent the whole morning at the TNT big boom Supermarket in the ghetto. if you love hanging around a lotta chinese folks, go there girl/boy. no shortage of bruthas/sistas squeezing the oranges this AM, eh.
game update: for a moment there at the end of the game i thought they were going taser the grey cup.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
what is this mystery fruit?
what's hot/what's not...
what's hot? backpacks with side pockets made of mesh material. young people like to fill these with colourful nalgene bottles filled with plain water. cool.
what's not? the playlist in my mp3 device. i was driving to the airport when i noticed the sequence of songs emanating from the machine was similar to that of a "soft rock" radio station. ugh. not cool.
rants of the day...
did you see the videotape of that guy, a polish immigrant, getting tasered at the vancouver airport? brutal. really brutal. although i don't know all the facts of the case, i believe that the whole taser incident could have been averted by the obviously incompetent airport staff/management. i mean there were reports that the man's mother made numerous inquiries to find him. perhaps they could have searched or took her back to the luggage carousels? did they do everything possible to find him? it's a matter of basic customer service in this case. apparently this airport is run like a home depot.
as for the cops, who am i to question what it's like to be on the front lines? police work is tough. they are targets. my solution: get rid of tasers. their efficacy is pretty much a crap shoot. some suspects live. some die. police should just use their guns to subdue suspects.
whatever happened to common sense?
poor brian mulroney.
i thought we were finished with the guy when he sued us for a couple of a million bucks a couple of years back. yet look at what the cat (in this case, an incarcerated bitter to-be-deported german super entrepreneur/hustler) dragged in.
i agree with our honourable ex-PM. he's name has been and always will be good. now leave him alone. let him fade gracefully back into the wood work, again.
yet steve, the current PM, had the nerve to authorized another pointless, drawn out, expensive make work project for the lawyers association of ottawa to rehash brian mulroney's squeaky clean record.
what a waste...
crap, 1 or more years of poor brian mulroney in the news.
i dunno if i can handle that prospect.
movie review... The Railrodder (NFB)
wherever i go, people ask, "bubba, what movies have most influenced you in life?"
well, i remember, as a wee toddler in elementree school, watching a film about a strange funny looking guy (Buster Keaton) who traveled across this great land of ours aboard a weird looking open railway cart like vehicle.
he'd putted along the railway, from nova scotia to the west coast of BC. hilarity ensued of course. the funny looking guy "lived" aboard, pulling out all sorts of stuff to do that out of a small red box. i loved the segment where he camouflaged the cart for hunting for ducks/geese.
i couldn't help but notice how beautiful the landscape was.
i could do that (traveling and all), i thought. it looked like a lot of fun.
well, since the early viewings of the railrodder in elementree school, i haven't crossed canada yet.
the railrodder did inspire me to embark on some pretty epic journeys though...
get the railrodder dvd at your local calgary public library!
rating: 5 out of 5 overdue fines.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
don't touch the clicker, eh... but try some moisterizer...
deep fried cornmeal and alot of orange dye #72.
it can't get better than this...
before i settle down in front of the vid with a big bag of cheezies, i better make a pre-game prognostication for today's CFL western semifinal in regina.
ok, here it goes...henry burris, the on/off all-universe quarterback of the calgary stampeders, will be on today. we win 31-22.
back to my bag of cheezies.
Monday, October 29, 2007
figure 1. interesting species of fish/crustacean...
figure 2. i'll have what he's having...
during my travels i inevitably end up in some really bizarre traveler hangouts. the red sea resort town of dahab, egypt is not the least of them. local businesses such as restaurants cater to tourists from all over the world. in an effort to make their establishment more user-friendly, they are good enough to publish their menus in english, much appreciated by mono linguistic oafs like myself. however, sometimes their efforts go wayward as illustrated in the above photos. humorous, unless you actually contract the actual offending items. (photos courtesy of my very good friends sally and richard whom i shared 3 glorious weeks with in dahab. menus courtesy of the staff at the legendary 7 heaven motel and restaurant and grill located in the heart of the sinai. allah wa'akbah my friends. thanx for letting us play backgammon in your midst for 21 straight days while ordering absolutely nothing. my advice boys: get some beef shin on the menu.)
rant of the day...
the neighbourhood 7-11 is closing it's doors.
yup, the midnapore (a community just north of here) sev will be terminated sometime next year.
news of the shutdown brought tears to my eyes. i couldn't believe it. a man works like a dog, breaking his back in a dead end job 24/7, has one thing to look forward to at the end of the day: a giant big ass coca cola slurpee. now da man is denying him the most basic of human rights.
you 'd think it's the sev's parental unit, southland corporation, is at fault. oh no, the land the sev sits upon is owned by evil exxon. its gas station will be transformed into a super mini-mart complete with a tim horton's donut dispensary that will more than likely sell a unsatisfactory "slushy" drink. weak.
how pathetic. if i wanted a donut (i love donuts by the way), i'd walk across the street to a real full-fledged tim hortons outlet.
so, what am i really saying?
damn the man, fight the power and bring back the slurpee...
while i'm at it, damn suburbia...
video of the day...
you thought american football was boring? think again...
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
a blurry silvery plant in fish creek park.
some extreme random deep thoughts:
the diagnosis is in (albeit a internet-based diagnosis). i have trochanteric bursitis (i.e. a sore right hip). i went to the doctor to confirm but was disappointed again. he almost never gives me a diagnosis (even though i was bursting at the seams to reveal the fruits of my internet research). he just handed me a wack of NSAID's (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and ushered me out of the office pronto. seriously, i described to doc the twinge i've been experiencing in the hip area. he thinks there might be nerve damage. i have to go get a x-ray done.
i find it amusing that one of steve h.'s henchmen is pressuring canadian retailers to lower their prices in light of the strong loonie. ha! ain't gonna work. whether prices come down or not will be driven by supply and demand. canadians, show your displeasure by not buying from gougers. case in point, i haven't bought camera equipment from a canadian vendor for quite some time. it's my duty to buy canadian but when the US price is so low (even when shipping and taxes are included) it's a no brainer as to where to shop. even in the days of the 63 cent loonie i would still save a tonne of money by shopping online. only stipulation is the NikonUSA warranty isn't honoured in canada. it's a major pet peeve of mine but i'll save that rant for another day.
here's a shameless segue. if you need to buy cheap camera/video stuff, consider purchasing from B&H photo and video of NY, NY. they've signed on a sponsor of the BTOG (the bigtubofgoo). ok, the BTOG is a new B&H affiliate. B&H is NOT a sponsor. personally, i order all my camera/video stuff from them. very reliable. very reasonable prices (and dropping fast thanx to the flight of the loonie). go ahead and click away. i know u want to... all proceeds will be rolled into the "buy bubba a beer fund" and spent wisely.
i still haven't figured out the results of the 2007 Calgary election. i can't for the life of me figure out why Pave bronconnier is still the mayor of our rather spread out city.
kudos to alberta premier Ed stelmach. he had the guts to open up the file on oil and gas royalties, not like his weak predecessor. i thought he was revealing his half baked royalty plans tonite on the vid. i wasn't watching but understood the 19 minute tv presentation (which cost taxpayers $124,000 CAD) was short on steak but big on fluff. disappointing. however, i'll be watching/listening carefully tomorrow Ed for the details. don't let us down Ed. show us da money... remember Ed, two words: fair share... you do the right thing and i'll vote for you in the next election...
i feel the shame. i hang my head. shame on me. i went ahead and bought a bike computer. i've quantified the last bastion of unadulterated fun in my life. that's biking. i'm on the slippery slope of electronic quantification and surveillance. what next? procuring a cell phone? nooooooooooooooooooo!!!
i can't figure out facebook. it's not really that fun. the only buzz i get from it is when someone wants to be my "friend". but hell, if you're in my "friend's" list i know you're my friend without facebook. there are people out there who have thousands of "friends". i've got something like 30. does that make me a lesser "friend"? maybe... look, i'm desperate. if you want to be my friend, find me on facebook somehow or leave me a comment. i'll take on all comers. no questions asked.
i didn't know joe sports (a local sports broadcaster) died when i was in africa. that's very sad.
this morning i was biking around in shorts and t-shirt (something like 22 C). tonite there's a raging snowstorm on the canadian tundra. that my friends is a definite SNAFU.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
pretty orange leaves...
my cup of tea...
delicate, fluffy plants...
the gig is up, for now...
9 Oct 2007, 3:19 PM
Distance: 2.15 km
Pace: 5:24 min/km
well, the above nike+ipod data says it all. i gave my ailing right hip two days rest then ran on tuesday. it felt ok for a while then i succumbed to my weakness. how embarassing... the plan now is rest it for at least a week rest then try again. i'm going to lose some endurance but there's no choice.
good news is that i can still ride a bike. i love biking. however, unless you bike at lance armstrong-type speeds and distances you won't get the same workout as running. maybe i should just leave the bike in the highest gear possible. ha!
now i'll have to buy a bike 'puter. yikes.
rant of the day.
they canceled the 2007 Calgary Santa Claus Parade. what the hell? too much construction happenin' downtown was the lame excuse. weak, i say.
why not run the parade down 4th Ave and or 3rd Ave (i'm sure the ho's approve)? nothing being erected or blow'ed up on them streets. am i right?
it just goes to show you what this city's priorities are. work, work, work... the all mighty buck. give it a rest, eh.
now the all the kids have to look forward to is a "party" on olympic plaza. nothing like watching santa traipse around on stage... i'm gonna be so excited the nite before the "party".
bubba's conclusion: to the organizer's of the former parade, screw'em...
Monday, October 08, 2007
this song has been swirling in my head for weeks now. thank you steve jobs for killing me slowly... the consolation is the fact that the singer is the canuckistani version of bjork.
here's the last run:
6 Oct 2007, 3:59 PM
Distance: 8.52 km
Pace: 5:24 min/km
not a bad run. average. two problems: 1) i was 6K from home, and 2) i badly tweaked something in my right hip. i thought i could gut it out but it really hurt. i could not lift the leg.
it feels ok today. i haven't done much but give it rest for a couple of days. i may rest it or cut back tomorrow.
i am weak.
contrary to popular belief, i'm not training for a marathon. well, realistically, i'm not sure if i can get to that distance before snowfall. right now i'm at 14.5 km. that's before my little set back. a half marathon is definitely possible. 3/4 marathon in a month's time. that takes me into november. brrr... if i can run 2 complete 3/4 marathons in november, a full marathon is possible.
even if i did kill myself like that, i'll only run the sundance super marathon. that involves running loops around my neighbourhood and hiring a kid to take care of the drink table set up in the driveway. knowing the kids around here, he/she will hand me a hot coffee.
is anyone tracking her progress to austin, TX? i have. she's a pretty tough cookie. i did not know the bikin' went into the wee hours of the nite...
my favourite quote so far: "I'm so tired I practicially fell asleep in my pancake this afternoon!" i'd probably be napping in my food as well. slobbering on my buns.
i am weak.
rant of the day...
major oil/gas companies in the alberta oilpatch like encana have predictably threatened the peoples of alberta with economic sanctions if royalties were to increase.
my verdict: screw'em. the multinationals, i.e.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
i managed roll out of bed this morning (aside: damn it was cold. how do people get up in the dark, eh?) just in time to hoof it down to CyclePath South to bid qtlibrarian a bon voyage on her quest to raise funds for cancer research, cancer survivors and their fams.
she's very brave because the fundraiser is a marathon bike ride down to the land o'lance, austin TX to be precise.
if you have spare cashola on hand, give it to the cause by clicking here.
here are some pix i took at the party...
back row: cute lil' car, middle row: kick ass lance bike, nice bike rack, eh, front row: qtlibrarian looks pretty good in a uniform, eh?
if qt feels as good as she looks, damn she must be feeling really good.
qt chillin' in the chase van...
qt and groupies...
qt and team...
nothing like being sponsored by good carma...
the big team...
off topic: exciting to see mr. ski (a local celebrity) at the breakfast...
Saturday, September 08, 2007
i like playing badminton. not sure if it's an asian thang. i was playing the thailanders back in the day. damn they're good. i loved playin' with LG and LB the other day. it's a good way to bond with the young people. sisters!!
nike+ipod running update...
i reached another milestone. according to lance armstrong it's was my best performance yet. coming from lance, it means alot to me.
8 sep 2007, 11:28 AM
Distance: 9.85 km
Pace: 5:20 min/km
i usually stop by the liberry along the way to pick up holds and gross the clientele out with my sweat drenched running ensemble. what the hell? it's only sweat. salty gatorade, eh...
after signing out the johnny cash at folsom prison CD i had on hold, i ran home.
8 sep 2007, 1:03 PM
Distance: 1.83 km
Time: 9:45 min
Pace: 5:19 min/km
not a bad run. most impressive was the 545 calories burnt! hell, that's 8.38 christie's pirate peanut butter cookies or almost 2 (1.94) servings of cheezies (100g). or even better, that's an infinite volume of diet coke.!! wahoooo!!
i know the exact route for the full and half marathons through my neighbourhood now.
i know that i'm weeks or months are away from either marathon.
i know the effort that it's going to take.
i know that you've got to include a couple of slow songs in the ipod mix.
i know that eminmem will kill you if he's the last song.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
007 meet vladimir putin, mr. putin meet james bond... dead ringers, eh?
movie: Casino Royale.
wow, what a movie! actor daniel craig, the "new" bond, is fantastic, bringing to screen a version of ian fleming's double O spy whose mean, detached, calculating, cold blooded, tough-as-nails, ego maniacal, and occasionally reckless. the new bond wreaks havoc just about everywhere he ventures. just what spies should be like.
the script is tight as a honey jar's lid, highlighted by the delicious razor sharp repartee between bond and his leading lady, vesper lynd (oh how i love that name), played by an even more delicious eva green.
what would a bond flick be without the thrills? not shortage here. the opening scene is delayed a bit but it just blows you away. i was just hooked big time after that and hung on for a really wild ride.
no worries, the future of the james bond franchise is secure and in good hands.
phew... when i went away i thought politics in alberta would irrevocably change with the departure of HRH ralphie klein. just my luck. it seems this character craig chandler, a potential PC nominee in the riding of calgary egmont, has picked up the slack in the "i can't believe he said that" department of the PC party of alberta.
in response to the falling fortunes of the PC party in the polls and a less than positive door knocking campaign, craig wrote this masterpiece in an online forum:
"Firstly, Alberta is growing in a way that was never expected and many of the people coming here do not truly appreciate Alberta or even understand the history of this province or the relationship with the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party. To those of you who have come to our great land from out of province, you need to remember that you came here to our home and we vote conservative. You came here to enjoy our economy, our natural beauty and more. This is our home and if you wish to live here, you must adapt to our rules and our voting patterns, or leave. Conservatism is our culture. Do not destroy what we have created."
hmmm... it's like deja vu. or maybe a second coming of sorts.
thanx craig for bringing back the good ol' days. or should i say, the voters of calgary egmont thank you. especially those commie bastard constituents who migrated to alberta to partake in the economic boom.
Monday, September 03, 2007
on my nano ipod:
January 21. 2000 5:12 PM
Distance: 5.87 km
Pace: 5:25 min/km
Paula Radcliff says, "congratulations you've set a personal record for longest workout".
Update: Lance Armstrong today said, "congratulations, you've just set a personal record for the mile".
1. normally i don't listen to muzak while i run but i really like this ipod+nike setup. the voices in my head are cool.
2. thanx bb.
3. what the hell's a "mile"?
Friday, August 24, 2007
ok, if you didn't like the last video clip, you'll love this one.
to understand this clip to its fullest you have to be a really old person. young people will find the crack spidah most humourous.
i had lunch with my friend sal today. last time i saw him, we were bombing (not literally) around the south african outback. not often do i come home to someone i've traveled with. nice to be alive to see him.
i saw part of his photo collection from that segment of the trip. very nice (hard to believe we were on the same trip, eh). but then he had a hammerin' lens on his camera. oh, it's not about the camera is it? ha!
hopefully, i'll post some of his pix as well.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
i know some loyal readers will be disappointed.
i don't know how to say this other than to say i'm home.
good things must come to an end. well at least for now.
it was a crazy final couple of days in asia. it was fun though (in a logistical kind of way). it was the closest i could come to "trains, planes, automobiles". there was the flight from BKK to Macau, the boat ride to HK, the HK subway/train system to my friend's, wasta, place in the New Territory, the bus to HKG for the flight to YVR, then finally the flight home to YYC.
i was ready to bust out of the airplane cabin on the trip from HKG to YVR.
at least, i got to see wasta (see below). we, his bud steve and gf candy, went out that night and reminisced about the good ol' days in pakistan, india and nepal over dinner at a thai restaurant. he picked up the tab (for brunch, as well)!! if you find yourself in HK, make sure i give you instructions on finding his house. ha!! anyways, it was 7 years since we last saw each other. so, it was really good to see him still really wasted. ha!
would you believe thai people actually talk like this? (l to r: wasta, bubba)
if he's out there reading this, wasta thanx again for your hospitality. like i said, i think we'll meet up again sometime. hope it's not another 7 years between visits.
as for me, it feels very weird to be home. even weirder than previous trips.
observations, so far:
damn it's quiet here. i'm not scared of silence but calgary's a city with a million people, eh? c'mon peoples and make some noise. look alive. man alive.
there aren't not many afro-canadian people in calgary.
damn it's cold here. people are complaining about the oppressive summer heat here. i've lived in 30 plus temps since leaving ethiopia in early may.
since i came home, calgarians have been killing each other left and right on the news. 4 were murdered with guns, 1 homeless bum was beaten senseless by a gang of thugs, 1 woman was murdered despite people hearing her cries for help, 2 calgarian men were killed in a hit and run incident, and last but not least a kid was deliberately pushed into the path of an on coming LRT (train)... i find it ironic that people worry about my personal safety when i'm traveling in places like africa. africa's tame compared to calgary in terms of violent crime, eh.
i renewed my library card immediately.
i've begun running again. man, i'm outta shape.
i've resumed a north american diet. man, we eat alot of meat/protein. i don't think my stomach knows how to process it all. it's going right through me.
i weighed myself. after a month of continuous eating, i'm only at 160 lbs (72.64 kg or 13 1/3 stone). i swear i packed on at least 5 to 10 lbs. since egypt. i was 200 lbs. at the beginning of the trip.
1) apologies to friends in calgary. it takes me awhile to acclimatize to being home again. we should go for beer soon.
2) i will publish more photos soon.
3) anyone know of any job openings in cowtown?
Sunday, July 22, 2007
#1. i wish i could insert the video but this kid i shall call mr. xylophone wiz. i contributed to his college fund.
#2. before... (ed. note: sorry for fuzziness. my glasses suck.)
#4. putting on the moves...
#5. a nice day for a walk for what seemed to be 1 million people.
my bad. walk this day was actually a pro-democracy rally.
1. some people really hate bangkok. i love it. people are really friendly (unlike cairo, where everyone's kind of stoic). there's stuff to do. there's alot of stuff to eat. it's alive. it's vibrant. not dead, i'm sorry to say, like cowtown.
2. photos #1 to 4. went down to the weekend market today. glad i did. i was supposed to go shopping but i lost track of time. it was a circus down there (a good circus vs. khao san rd.). plenty of people watching.
3. photos #5 to 6. funny thing happened on the way to the weekend market. encountered a parade of 1 million people dressed in yellow shirts walking down the street. i thought, 'what a great way to honour the king' (yellow is the royal colour). just happened that it was a march protesting against the military junta running thailand. holy crap. i broke security rule #6: "stay out of political rallies to preserve life". how was i suppose to know? my bad.
4. went down to patpong a few nights ago with my brazilian girlfriend. patpong is bangkok's infamous redlight district. hasn't changed a bit. clean but still sleazy... we took up all offers of free "looky, lookies". in one joint a banana landed within a metre of our feet. should of saw expression on the face of my brazilian friend. i laughed my head off. avoided thee bevy of "ping pong" shows.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
the croaking frogs are killing me...
a 7-11 with no slurpees? can that be possible. that's like starbucks without carmel macchiatos...
girl or boy? do i have to ask?
dedicated to my friend sal. he loves satays...
top 10 things overheard on khao san road...
10. how many of them mango/sticky rice thingies have you had tonite?
9. the tom yam fried my brain last nite...
8. is that kenny rogers with that hot, young Thai girl?
7. erik estrada has left the building!!
6. i can't believe i got ripped off on khao san rd.
5. are you sure you're a guy...?
4. wow, i'm the biggest jackass on khao san road...
3. these croaking frogs are killin' me...
2. if the rest of thailand is like this, i'm going to have a swell time here.
1. where are all the thai people... ?
1. for my loyal readers in calgary, khao san rd. to bangkok is 17th ave to calgary except in this case khao san rd. is 17th on 'roids, crack, and amphetamines. to my other loyal readers, khao san is the centre of the backpacker universe, a never never land for travelers (well for some of them).
2. i haven't been here on khao san in 7 years. nothing has changed except for the frog ladies and the presence of bar girls on the pavement.
3. i'm off to the thailand vs. australia asia cup game tomorrow. wahoo. i'm going with a brazilian girl and a guy from the land o' oz. hope to see some football hooligans, eh.
4. i wanna go home.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
July 9, 2007
Cairo, Egypt - Cairo International, terminal 1
11:55 +1 day(s)
Bangkok, Thailand - Suvarnabhumi Intl Airport
Egyptair MS960 e
1. happy bday mr. K.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
i'm staying at the venerable dahab hostel in downtown cairo. it's located on the rooftop of a seven story building. nice view, eh? your challenge is to tell me how many satellite dishes are in the above image. who says this blog is boring?
thanx for all the emails from loyal readers about my whereabouts.
after dahab, i came back to cairo. i've been on the internet for hours upon hours researching the next destination.
1) to the bastard thief in dahab who stole my glasses: i replaced my eyeglasses yesterday. i can see clearly once again. next time trip an old lady while she is crossing a street and leave visually impaired people alone.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
you can't see this, but i'm dancin' a lil' jig, eh...
first, happy canada day!!!! to my loyal overseas friends, it's our national bday!!! to my fellow canadians, drink up and celebrate till the wee hours (even though that means till 9 pm for most of ya).
second, I'M LEAVING DAHAB!!!!! WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! i think that deserves repeat of the chorus:
Oh happy days are here again!!!
man, i think i just winded myself.
seriously, i've never been in a place as long as i've been in dahab. it's been definitely a love/hate relationship.
i'm going to miss the sea. i just finish 2 SCUBA dives. i thought i could pick up where i left off 7 years ago in thailand. unfortunately diving is nothing like riding a bike. you need practice to keep up the necessary skills. thus, i was pretty much floundering around in the deep blue sea. it was too bad. however, i did see some pretty cool stuff. the fish and coral are genuinely amazing. however, when it comes to SCUBA skills, i'll pick them up with a refresher elsewhere. perhaps, back in thailand?
i wish i traveled to dahab back in '95. back then (not long ago) i think it was a backwater. a true backpacker chillout spot where chill really meant chill. no hassle (even i have a hard time believing this one). but, i'll never know.
here's to the people of dahab...
to the touts and taxi drivers, everyone's got to make a living. let's just leave it at that.
as for the other people, it's about an ecclectic bunch as it gets. first, ricky, the greasy, flunk out from manchester. you're just 17 yrs. old and you're a wasta already... too bad. then there are friends from the dahab hostel in cairo who seem to have suffered the same fate as i. if he every reads this, Mo', my advice is to get the hell out of here. not tomorrow. i mean immediately. forget about western union. btw, you owe me 270 LE. jason, you got out in the prime of your trip. good on ya!! richard and sally... dunno how u did it but 2 months in dahab... how the hell did u do it? finally, to the blonde woman pushing the baby carriage back and forth, day after day, you are really really really hot.
to all my rushion friends, dost va donya!!! i luv u all!
finally, bob marley is the greatest human being to set foot on this planet.
Monday, June 18, 2007
thanks for the emails from my loyal readers with regards to my health and lack of postings.
i'm alive and well in dahab. i've been here for a long while now.
it's beautiful here. the scenary's pretty stark. the nearby desert mountains are jagged. they're butt up against the brilliant turquoise waters of the red sea. to the east are the seaside cliffs of saudi arabia.
dahab for the most part is a street and a half town. very touristy. the "strip", as i call it, rims the shoreline. there is a wall of chillout restaurants (and their annoying touts) on the seaward side of the walkway, while hotels, gawdy souvenir shops, internet cafes and ubiqutous scuba shops line the otherside. add to this, a caravan of gypsy-like beduoin girls, selling homemade bracelets.
not many tourists are here. the tourist trade is pretty much dead. those that are here are an ecclectic bunch. a plethora of vacationing russians, japanese/korean hippies, and a surprising number of canadians.
there's not much to do here unless you like to SCUBA dive or snorkel. otherwise, you work on your suntannin' and chillin' skills.
you'd think chillin' would be easy in a place like dahab but not really. the touts are relentless. actually, if you've been around awhile, the touts' remarks get quite personal. for example, on the way to dinner tonite, there is a bridge i cross. there's a troll, sorry that's tout, flogging a trip to a local attraction. i'm not interested and say "no thanx, i love dahab". the troll answers, "dahab doesn't love you." what's with that?
here, and in most of egypt, the traveler is nothing unless they fork out the cash. it's ironic that the very people who benefit from tourist spending actually talk trash to them as well. very strange sales techniqes...
i spend most of my time now avoiding "the strip". there isn't a local public beach in town. so, i've got to walk a half hour either north or south of town to get some peace and quiet.
i've got a few more days here. i've got to spend some of my hard earned cash to go scuba diving.
after that, i'm getting the hell out of here.
1. not all egyptians are nasty sob's.
2. i still do not know where i'm going. i'll return to cairo and make some kind of decision quickly.
3. i went snorkeling yesterday. the biodiversity of the surrounding reefs is incredible. the show just starts about 25 metres off shore. it's shallow at first then all of a sudden the ocean floor just drops off. breathtakingly deep blue sea. beautiful corals. billions of colourful fishes. i haven't seen a Nemo fish yet...
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
alexandria's corniche on the Mediterranean sea. i guess this kind of marks the end of the trip...
wacky egyptians hamming it up at the market.
well, i'm back in cairo. there's a price to pay though. bright (well, as bright as it gets here with the smog), sunny and 40 C. since the last posting , i've been to alexandria and the extremely isolated oasis of siwa in the great sand sea close to the libyan border.
alexandria's sort of like a mini cairo; however, the people are much more relaxed. founded by the one, the only alexander the great, it was famous for the great liberry back in the day. until it was torched and razed to the ground. i went to see the new replacement liberry. i must say it didn't have much of a collection yet. it could fit 8 million books but currently held only a half million. lot's of empty, dusty shelves. alexandria was also famous for having one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. well, it was dismantled and the pieces were used to construct a fort.
perhaps what alexandria is most noted for (well, in my books) are it's people. really friendly folks. i think the lack of tourists or reduced numbers has to do with some of the friendliness.
next, i headed deep into the western desert to the oasis of siwa. i've never been to an oasis before. the landscape prior to arriving was horrifically bleak. i mean nothing. flat for as far as the eye could see. nary a soul. hot as hell. then the bus i was on dipped into a shallow depression, and voila, we were in a patch of a date palms, surrounded by pools of cool clear water! soon thereafter, we were inundated by donkey carts, the preferred mode of siwan transport, at the bus station. funny how things work out in the end.
not much to see in siwa. the chic thing to do is rent a bike and visit some of the exquisite springs in the outskirts of town. you can escape the oppressive heat of the day by taking a refreshing
this is my new bud, robbie, from amerika taking the plunge into "cleopatra" spring.
dip in the coolish waters. very nice. alternatively, you can do nothin' and sit on your butt all day reading a book or watching siwan life go by. ain't that fun, eh? plus, it's quiet as hell. Siwa's an anomaly in egypt that's for sure.
nice sunset, eh? if you have yo tv screens adjusted correctly, you can see a small sample of Siwa's 70 thousand date trees in the foreground.
siwa's pretty conservative in terms of adherence to tradition and islam. the women are covered from head to toe in public - even in the oppressive heat. as my friend, sal, would say, the full ninja suit. the whole nine yards. they can walk around, but they can't drive the donkey carts.
however, traditions are a changing, just as the shifting sands of the surrounding desert. i had this conversation with the hotel manager, mano:
bubba: so, mano are you married? (one of my favourite questions).
bubba: (feigning shock and dismay) why not!
mano: i'm just 24.
bubba: that's really old. (well, relatively old)...
mano: i need money to get married...
bubba: ha! how are you going to meet your wife?
mano: my folks are going to set me up.
mano: then we are going to meet...
bubba: ...and go on a date?
mano: ha! no.
bubba: play cards?
mano: no. maybe watch tv (with her parents present of course). if the parties are interested, her family will talk it over (family meaning parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.). if they like me, we'll get engaged.
bubba: when would that happen?
mano: could be next day or maybe ten years... hopefully, not ten years.
bubba: why not 10 years?
mano: very expensive.
bubba: how do you know if she's the right one?
mano: if her family is good then everything is good...
bubba: what about the woman?
mano: she doesn't matter. just as long as the family is good.
bubba: when are finally going to get married?
mano: before i'm, say, 30.
bubba: that's quite advanced in age. hmmm...what about your friends?
mano: well, 99 percent of them are married. i don't get to see them much.
bubba: they just disappeared?
mano: yep. i like my freedom.
1) i've been sick for the past few days. that certainly put a wrench into my plans of chillin' in dahab (capital of western decadence by the red sea - i'm sure it drives the islamists crazy). it's been pretty rough. high grade fever, head eck, muscle and joint eck, and to top it off, you guessed it, explosive diarrhea. dunno what it is. any doctors out there? anywho, i'm resting for next couple of days.
2) while i was bedridden, the ducks won the cup. that kind of sucked...
Sunday, May 27, 2007
back row: the red pyramid in darshur (south of cairo). front row (l to r): cop, akira kurosawa, cop and camel.
pyramids are sharp.
dead pharaohs live forever.
just a stack of rocks.
1. hope i can leave for alexandria soon.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
the train from/to hell...
train from/to hell, part 2...
the nubian desert...
second class passengers...
pray time on board the ship from/to hell...
Hello my friends,
The traveling has been hot and heavy for the past while. A little too quick for my taste. (even though I'm theoretically control the pace). So, I find myself in Cairo now relaxing after the rigours of traveling the Sudanese outback.
The train from Khartoum to Wadi Halfa really was a physical and logistical nightmare. The debacle started right away. After the stampede (I don’t know why people rush because each passenger has a ticket), I was unceremoniously yanked from my 3rd class seat. Apparently they sold it previously to another passenger. A blessing in disguise, I thought, when they plunked me in padded seat in a 2nd class compartment as a replacement.
From there, the train slowly chugged out of Khartoum. As it turned out, ”slowly chugging” was its only speed. It didn’t matter though. We were soon out of Khartoum and into the bleak landscape of the nubian desert to one side and the occasional rendezvous with the Nile river to the other side of the train.
I shared the compartment with a really nice family: Mahmoud, his wife and 5 kids. The smallest kid was pretty nasty. He’d wail away every time he wanted sometime. Very annoying. I wanted to club him one right over the head. But, for the most part, his parents did the corporal punishment for me. From my observation face and wrist slapping of children was a quite common occurrence. Anyways, Mahmoud was a junior high teacher in Khartoum. He was taking his family to Cairo for a holiday. For hours they plied me with drinks. In return I entertained them with my 10 word Arabic vocabulary. All the while we watched the desert dust pilfer into the compartment.
The fun did not last however. When we arrived in Atbara, the train stopped and I decided to get out for a breath of fresh air and escape the stifling heat in the train. In the meantime, unbeknownst to me, the compartment was being usurped by a contingent of women. I barely got back when I saw my backpack being tossed into the hallway by an unscrupulous male relative of one of the ladies.
There I was, at the cusp of nightfall, an honourary sindeega for god’s sake being forced to sit on someone’s water cooler with no where to go.
To complicate matters at the Atbara a swack of new passengers (paying and non-paying) including an American guy named Matt (non-paying) climbed on board. The train packed to the rafters now.
I thought I had a brilliant idea when I thought of staying in the dining car. It turned out to be a good idea. I mean there were empty seats and lots of room to bed down for the night. The only problem was the dust pilfering through the windows. Waiters would come by every 15 minutes to wipe off the micro-sand dunes that would form on the tables. The idyllic situation would of course come to a crashing halt. Along came Mustafa, the Nazi dining car owner. Mustafa was the big man on campus who apparently paid a million Sudanese dinars for the exclusive rights of dishing out the slop, he called food, to unsuspecting passengers. Unfortunately, he thought he owned the entire car. He sussed out our plan (Matt American, also homeless, joined me for “dinner”). Let’s just say I was nursing my bottle of coke for a long long time. He became enraged. The fury was palpable. He kicked us out. I was homeless again.
I tried to return to my water cooler seat only to find it hijacked by an old lady. No matter. The way was blocked by 2 rather obese women who had packed it in for the night and were blissfully asleep on the narrow hall way floor.
Long story short, it was a helluva sleepless night. Taking turns with a nice koran-toting man, I spent the night either standing in the aisle or sitting on a wooden crate.
Next day, the obese women somehow got off the floor after their comfortable slumber, thus making room for the homeless. I was lucky enough to be able to share a seat on a cardboard box the rest of the way to Wadi halfa.
After a restful night in Wadi Halfa, sleeping under the stars, we climbed aboard the venerable SS Sagalnaam. From Wadi Halfa, it was a 16 hr. overnight “cruise” along the entire length of Lake Nasser, the largest man made lake in the world, to the Aswan high dam. I had the luxury of a second class ticket. No, there isn’t a third class. This meant sitting on a barely padded bench in the mid deck. What it really meant was another sleepless night. Only this time there was A/C in the cattle section I shared with 200 other folks.
Looking back now, those were the best of times (on the entire African trip). The living conditions were horrendous. But I shared them with so many nice people, despite various Nazi-like figures. There was Mahmoud and his family. They were also kicked out of dining car. That was the last I saw of them (just kidding). Really, they traveled first class on the boat. Good on them. There was Ahamed, who I met while buying my train ticket in Khartoum. Lucky bastard. He got to keep his third class seat on the train. Better third class than no class I always say. He learned a lot of his English while working for chevron in the oil fields. Retired now, he was moving back to his beloved village of Abri in the north of Sudan, because he thought khartoum was “fucked up”. By the way, he also worked for Talisman Energy of Calgary, Alberta before the “fucking” americans forced it out of Sudan. He was “fucking” hilarious. Then thanks to Ahmed and his family for buying me drinks on the boat. They also gave me a whole chicken to eat. They, too, laughed at my arabic. Plus, there was a boat load of other great people I shared these unbearable 4 days with.
I’ve been thinking seriously of finishing this particular journey. Like my friend wasta said, it’s been only 7 months. But it’s been 7 months through Africa. I’m a wee bit tired. I’ve been thinking of going home. Getting a mundane job. Finding a proper woman. Settling down and producing some offspring. Any objections out there? Words of wisdom?
I went to the American University in Cairo to leaf through some of their lonely planet guidebooks hoping to spark my imagination. Nothing. The logical place to go next is perhaps Yemen or to Asia. To Iran. Perhaps re-visit Pakistan (the AUC was missing the LP Pakistan). Or, visit the “stans”, even though I feel totally unprepared (language-wise) to go there. To tell you the truth, language has not stopped me in the past from going somewhere.
But then, I met this Korean girl from Seoul last night. She bought a ticket to Bangkok (from Cairo) the other day for $340 USD (tax incl.). Damn that’s a good price.
Perhaps, if I spent sometime resting by the Red Sea, I might have a change of heart.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
salaam aliekum my friends,
I've been in Khartoum for the a few days now. it's been just roasting hot outside with temperatures between 40 to 46 C. that's really hot. i've never experienced such intense solar radiation. there's not much that the uninitiated can do during the day except to keep outside or inside activities to a bare minimum. for me, that's walking slowly to and from the local shop for multiple bottles of life giving water. cool clear water. i'm not kidding. once you're in the throes of dehydration you are toast. i certainly picked the wrong time of year to visit sudan.
i do go out at night. the area i'm staying in is called souq al-arabi (the arab market). each and every night the streets are lined with vendors plying their wares (undergarments to bottled parfume). it's pretty chaotic. alot of shouting and thousands of shoppers. i've noticed a couple of things. khartoum, well this part at least, is a dump and most sudanese are pretty tall. i'm surprised more have not followed in the footsteps of manute bol (nba player extraordinaire).
so far the people have been pretty friendly. when i'm walking about people shout out SINDEEGA (sp)!!. that's a term of endearment assigned to each and every chinese national working in sudan. supposedly, there's 5 million brothers and sisters who drew the short straws and call sudan home. surprisingly, there isn't a chinatown in khartoum, and the laundry biz is not dominated by the chinese (yet). i've only seen a few chinese in town. apparently, a bulk of them are working the oil fields down in the South.
i've unabashedly used my unofficial sindeega status a few times already. to hell with being a canadian in these parts, eh. the police don't hassle me and soldiers shake my hand. i was trying to buy some laundry soap last night (ok, it's my heritage). a guy was trying to help me out because of my poor command of the arabic language (i used the right word, that being "become" when asking for the cost of something). sometimes people are so shocked that i can utter a few words of their language that they are in a state of de-nile (get that joke, ha!). my helper asked me whether i understood english or not. that's hilarious because i had been speaking english with him for at least a minute. he asked where i was from. china (of course). well, the chinese are very supportive of sudan. they (the chinese) are great people. uh huh... blah, blah, blah... look buddy, once the motherland wants payback it's lights out for sudan if you can't fork over the oil.
the "d" word...
it's amazing the conversations i have on buses. i figure talking with the normal folks is like taking the pulse of the nation. you know, getting to down to the nitty gritty. well, i made my first sudanese friend, asser, on the air conditioned bus from gederaf (see map) to khartoum (see map). asser's a really nice guy. when the steward put on the feature movie (a really bad d-grade hollywood flick about some american dude blowing up stuff), asser turned his head.
are you ok, i asked.
"i don't watch american movies"
"american movies always makes us look very bad"
"you know it's a story and not real?"
the conversation some how turns to the subject of the D word (i'll just say it's in the west of sudan). according to asser, the "problem " in the D region is exaggerated by the western media. sudanese people are beautiful. i agreed (well, most of them are). if he sees any foreign troops in sudan, he wouldn't hesitate running up to them and slitting their throats with a dagger (the latter comment was done with great animation). there is a silver lining though. tourists are ok (thank Allah). that includes american tourists. i digress. the only way foreign forces can "take" sudan is if they killed all the sudanese people because each and everyone will fight till their last breaths.
he was really working himself into a lather by now. i was flabbergasted. yet, i couldn't resist asking him what he thought about george bush. surprisingly, he calmly replied that if he ever stepped on sudanese soil he'd call him a tosser and give him the one fingered salute (i.e. the worst thing a sudanese could give dubya). asser demonstrated the latter gesture by slowly lifting the middle finger of his right hand. well, at least dubya won't need the aid of a translator in that case. he went on to complete his thought by saying after the hand gesture he would have to, on the spot, disembowel dubya. ok...
i think i fell asleep after that. a/c has that effect on me.
by the way, asser said "death to america" as i faded. he tried to teach me the arabic translation but i can't remember what it was.
1. no corresponding artsie photo this week. i'm required to purchase a photography permit at some horrendous price. i can't take pix of men/women in uniform. because the po-leece and armed forces are ubiquitous, i can't take a whole lotta pix in any case. therefore, in lieu, this week i have to type a million words to explain myself in place of the pix.
2. monday will be my first attempt at escaping the mirage called khartoum. i managed to get a ticket for 3 class (i.e. the cattle class) on the world's slowest train. no a/c. no diner car. sleeping sitting up. i'm going to treat it like a big picnic at bowness park. in 36 to 50 hours, theoretically, i should arrive at wadi halfa, a frontier town on the southern tip of lake nasser. there i take a 16 hr. cruise up the lake (i.e. the nile dammed) to aswan, egypt.
3. they ain't got beer here, but someone did offer me hashish though. go figure...
4. update: there was a break in the heat spell today. the sun was blocked by a massive sandstorm. there is a god. Allah.
5. it took me 5 hrs. yesterday to purchase the train/boat tix. today, it took me 5 hrs. to be registered as a foreign alien. for the latter, it was 44 USD to tell them i'm an alien...
6. i'm hiding in this internet cafe b/c they have great a/c.
Friday, May 04, 2007
granny...my what big spots you have...
9. "fasil, look at that japanese farangi. if he lost anymore weight, he'd be an honourary habeshi (ethiopian).
8. "a farangi is a star trek character. NOT. haha."
7. "if there is a "special" jacked up price for farangi, i've got some extra arid land in the danikil depression you might be interested in buying. haha."
6. "bob marley has left shashemane..."
5. "learn how to play a Wurlitzer and you'll have the world by the tail, my friend."
4. "that girl is flatter than injera..."
3. "are you carrying a kalashnikov or are you just happy to see me?"
2. "would you like some injera to go along with your injera?" (ed. note: i'm not kidding.)
1. i ate an entire 13 in. deep dish pizza tonite hoping to disguise the emaciated look. ok, it was deep dish as it gets in ethiopia. pretty thin on the ham, cheese, and sauce. crust was thick though.
2. spent the "weekend" in harrar (N9 18.793 E42 7.849) dodging obnoxious guides. old town was interesting. and, what about them hyaenas (see above), eh. 15 cm from my big mouth. there seems to be a recurring theme in this trip abroad. first, charging elephants. second, getting really friendly with gorillas. now, it's snacking hyaenas.
3. just got my sudanese visa. now only if i can find some transport out of addis. suffice to say, i'll be switching countries soon.