Very occasionally famous.
As a flagrantly white person living and occasionally roaming around Asia, I sometimes stick out. Whether through the rarity of the wild honky or through lingering effects of the many times with which my ancestors brutally wedged their big noses into other places, or some mixture of the two, I tend to be an object of occasional fascination and consternation. Why does my hair curl just so? Why is my skin so pale, and why does it ripen like a fresh tomato after exposure to a moderate amount of healthy, life-sustaining sunshine? How is it possible that a human being with my configuration of body parts, complexion, hair texture, and eye shape can manage to breathe, eat, speak other languages, walk in a straight line, and perform simple arithmetic? Truly, it is a mystery for the ages.
As a walking enigma, I am sometimes photographed. I have grown mostly at peace with this practice, as I’ve also taken photos of other humans before, for reasons just as nebulous. (When asked, I will usually tell the person, “Because you look really cool in front of this thing!” This usually does not clarify the situation). But sometimes I am also photographed against my will, captured in perpetuity in a desktop folder entitled White People Doin’ Things. Sometimes people jam a camera right up in my grille, camera-lens-to-eyeball-lens, and they breathe heavily as they seal my face into their personal digital memory banks without my consent.
As such, I present a helpful guide to all the times when it is perfectly cool to take my photo, for whatever weird, crazy reason you might want it.
Behold glorious Hangzhou, city of a very nice lake, some cool pagodas, and actual woodlands! I can barely stand all the nature. Alas, like most weekends of late this particular weekend was shrouded in dark clouds and a hazy mistglob that covered all the lands in grey. Well, being China: greyer. Luckily, the Hangzh’ was still very pretty in its own dreary, spooky way, and I have collected a day’s worth of photography for you to point your oculoids at. Continue beholding.
After the glorious weirdness of Dalla and the delights of Yangon, we took, as all traveller in Burma must, the long road up to Bagan. Being the sometimes ignorant turd that I am, I knew little of the area except that it was full of temples, and possibly a lot of them. In Southeast Asia or India I had some inkling of history, connections to local religious beliefs and a sense of cultures, while Burma existed outside of my cultural awareness bubble. We slid off of the long overnight bus into the wilds of the archaeological zone and were left to fend for ourselves amid the prickly brick pagodas piercing the endless, scalding sky.
Let us now gather, children, around a warm sack of fermented woodlands beverage and enjoy some photographs of joyous, spectacular Myanmar. As an ornery completionist, the lack of Myanmar on my Big Dumb Asia MegaSojourn caused me great, undue anxiety. To the west of Thailand was a huge unruly blob of the unknown: dark roads, unseen temples, unslurped noodles. There were whole swaths of countryside I had not trod upon, great pools of sweat I had not yet exuded, great glories of the continent that were as yet a mystery to me. When friends from Korea declared their intention, I knew it was time to explore. Set your eyeballs on these shinies, kids. Myanmar is pretty golden. (The joke being that much of Myanmar is covered in gold leaf. Get it?)
Faced with a looming weeklong vacation, I was left a little bereft of creativity. Asia, once again, lied before me: wide and open and verdant and filled with noodles of various kinds. Of course, flight costs had begun to skyrocket, friends who I could reasonably pressure into travelling with me were thin on the ground, and most of my belongings were still held somewhere in a port in Shanghai. Stunted for choice, I decided to turn to my old stand-by.
Korea, the site of my growing up, my metamorphosis from boy to manboy. Korea, the current location of a large fraction of my social circle. Korea, land of a lot of food I wanted desperately to ingest. I think sometimes of how regularly I desired to visit Canada, how frequently I had requests to return to the homeland and shower them with my presence. I realized, of course, that Korea had formed another significant portion of my life, and that revisiting it was not out of the question. No, it was actually logical, and something that I hungered for deep in the wanty parts of my spirit.
I booked a ticket, I packed a bag. I went home. To one of my various homes.
Let’s look at it.
Oh, internet, I have tricked you once again! In preparation for my trip to Mexico, I went on a writing spree and pre-posted 4(!) different jewels of blogging splendour to be released into the wilds as I stuffed my face with quesadillas and low-grade tequila for 100 pesos a bottle. Even as I appeared to be rhapsodizing about my entry into India and regaling you with my fascinating anecdotes and bon mots, I was in the wind, as I often am.
Why did I go to Mexico? Why, to reward myself for all of my hard work in unemployment! But seriously, there were a few reasons. Some of my best friends currently live there. I had been to Mexico once before, but on a cruise when I was 17, and barely for a day, to the point that I barely count it as a notch on my travel belt. I had been feeling down from the job hunt, which has involved 5 months of continuous resume-ing and cover letter-ing all across the globe. Also there was that chance that I could have won that free trip but I totally lost and felt bad about myself, and nothing perks me up like a big frivolous money-hemorrhage in another country!
What was I saying? Something about Mexico. Avocados? I swear I had something for this. You get the idea. Let’s go!
And thus we have reached Vietnam, dear travellers. Having already been to righteous ‘Nam before, I was excited to return: to see new cities, to explore new sites, and to eat so much soup that my belly grows distended, pops, and floods a low-rent hostel room with local beef and vermicelli. We hoofed around the north, the south, and that middle part, and all of it was very pretty. When I returned to Canada, I learned how to use my copy of photoshop starting with these very pictures! (Interesting sidenote: the main photo my friend used to teach me photoshop is not included here. We chose this photo because it included a pony, and also an enormous pony boner which she spent careful time removing and replacing with with sky or grass or whatever was behind the horse. Scrubbing the photo of that equine erection helped to illustrate the majority of the tools I wanted to learn how to use anyway. This file is still saved on my computer, under the filename “horsedong.jpg”. Don’t ever use my computer.)
What was I talking about? Oh. Vietnam sure is great!