How To Lose 10 pounds, The Unhealthy Way!

I have this new weight loss program everyone should try. It’s amazing. Ok, first, stop working out. That means you’ll lose muscle, and muscle is heavy. Plus women hate muscle. Bones are in. Everyone loves bones! Shoulder blades are the new biceps. Second, stop eating meat. You’ve always wanted to see what it was like to be vegetarian, right? You’ve always wanted to deny yourself the pleasure of delicious, mouth watering meat, just admit it. Well now is the time. Ok, still with me? Next, get food poisoning. That’s right. Order yourself some nice, not so fresh street food, preferably made one, maybe two days earlier. Who knows. It doesn’t matter. Just make sure that when you taste it the first time, you immediately question whether you should keep eating it, but because you are so stupid and hungry (no offense), you shove the entire thing in your face and hope for the best.

Boom, 5 weeks later you’ll see ribs you never even knew you had.

A Trip So Nice I’m Doing It Twice

It’s been awhile since I dropped off the face of the WordPress world. Since my last post about white water rafting on the Zambezi back in July, I’ve kept myself pretty busy. I’ve hiked the highest peak in Wales, explored London and Eindhoven with the ever energetic Loes (remember my traveling partner from South Africa? She’ssss backkkkk), jumped in the canals of Amsterdam after being overcome by festival euphoria and a good amount of gin, devoured waffles street side in Belgium, stood by my good friend Shahram while he said “I do” to his lovely bride Laura, dedicated 6 weeks to yoga in a desperate attempt to finally touch my toes, and took in the night life of San Francisco with old and new friends alike. All this, plus spending some much needed time with family.

It’s been about 9 months of travel, but I’m still hungry for more. So here I sit, in London once again, counting down the hours until my plane departs for my next around the world trip, this time starting in Uganda (Ok, it technically started in London, but whatever). For roughly two weeks, Loes and I will be renting a car and making our way through Western Uganda on our own, equipped with camping gear, a map and hopefully a whole lot of patience. After weeks of careful planning and preparation, our current itinerary for the two plus weeks is as follows:

Day 1: Arrive in Entebbe, Uganda.

Day 2-16: Um, I’m not sure. We’ll figure it out.

Day 17: Return car, assuming we make it out alive.

Rock solid plan if you ask me. Contact me if you need helping planning your own vacations. I’m very affordable.

Day 18 through Day 48 will consist of volunteering with an HIV/AIDS awareness program in the city of Mbale, in eastern Uganda. Loes will be using her background in nursing to help with children, and I’ll be using my background in finance to sit at a computer and smash a keyboard, pretending that I know what I’m doing. It’s going to be great.

After that? I really don’t know. And to be honest, it’s that next unknown adventure that really excites me the most. Solo motorcycle trip through parts of India? Yeah, I don’t know how to ride a real motorcycle, so could be dangerous (Hi, Mom!). Trekking in Nepal? Setting foot on the Maldives before there is nothing to set foot on? Skydiving in New Zealand? Fleeing from cannibals in Papa New Guinea? I did bring my Asic running shoes, just in case.

But that’s so far away. It’s not really something I will think about just yet. For the entirely of this trip, I’ll be doing my best to live in the moment. Because honestly, that’s really the only place worth living.

So wish me luck. I could always use a little more.

Gratitude

I want to personally thank the jellyfish in Khao Lak for welcoming me into the ocean on my first attempt at surfing. I can still feel your loving embrace hours later.

Also, I’d like to apologize to the frog that stowed away on my bike. I’m sorry I didn’t realize you were sitting on my bike until I was racing down the main road at 80km/hr. I’m glad your feet were so sticky, though.

A Tin Rocket

A tin rocket on wheels, shooting across the countryside.

“Where are those damn seat belts?” all of the foreigners cried.

Road bumps so mighty each butt leaves its seat

But there is no time for safety, there are time deadlines to meet!

Karaoke plays loudly, sweat starts to drip

Remind me again why I decided on this trip?

Stop after stop, people stream onto the bus.

25 people for 18 seats, but it’s no use to fuss.

Pitch black outside, but there is no way I can sleep.

Not with the symphony of car horns and motorcycle beeps.

When the bus rolls to a stop, an eruption of cheers and chants.

First item of business: A much needed change of pants.

A Simple Gesture

Yesterday, while walking around the lake in Da Lat, Vietnam, a young university student named Ngoc Lan approached me wanting to practice English. We walked and talked for about 2 hours, jumping from favorite foods to family to school and everything in between. She even became my Vietnamese teacher as I practice greetings on all the strangers who crossed our paths. It was a wonderful evening.

Fast forward to today when I hear a knock on my door. In pops the woman from the front desk with a bag full of Banh Bao (dumplings) with a thank you note to “Mr.Larry” from Ngoc Lan. I was awestruck. Who was I to her, other than a study partner, yet she went out of her way for me.

Such a simple gesture, but one with such impact. I’m a very lucky man to have met her.

It’s the Small Things

Let’s take some time to appreciate some of the small things about traveling:

1) The traveler’s smell check – At least once a night, you will see someone in the hostel pull clothes out of their bag, bring the soiled garment to their nose, and do the standard traveler smell check. Is it clean? Will I smell like warm trash on tomorrow’s bus ride? It’s a common procedure, but often one of futility. My friend Amy put it best (I’m paraphrasing a bit):

“It’s not like a backpack is some magical washing machine. If it was dirty when you put it in, it’s dirty when you take it out. Hell, it’s probably dirtier”

After a little thought, I realized a traveler is not actually performing a smell check, but instead a standards check. Sure, the clothes haven’t changed, but perhaps personal standards have. Maybe those formerly blue but now brown shorts don’t seem so bad anymore.

2) The ¾ seat concept – When traveling by minivan in Asia, which is often the case when going to smaller towns or areas within a couple hours of each other, you are never sold a full seat. That would be way too comfortable. With the introduction of the ¾ seat concept, it’s a sardine can on wheels. 16 people in a 12 person van, not including bags, which hang perilously from the open back gate. Get to know your neighbor, because you will be thigh to sweaty thigh with them for the foreseeable future.

3) Book exchanges – These things are a godsend. Done with a book? No problem, drop it off and pick up another. Who needs to buy a Vietnam Lonely Planet when you can grab it out of the exchange. The selections vary pretty wildly, from books on economics to the latest airport trash novels. Sadly, the selection of Calvin and Hobbes is in short, short supply. A 32 year old solo traveler reading Calvin & Hobbes? Ain’t nothing wrong with that!

4) Pineapple Shakes – I’m still addicted. No explanations necessary. Drink it up. Daniel Day-Lewis would.

5) Being American (Except in Vietnam, where I might pretend to be Canadian) – Sadly, the rumors are true. Most people believe Americans are uneducated or rude. It’s fun to talk to fellow travelers in an attempt to disprove the stereotypes. On the flipside, embracing those stereotypes is an amazingly efficient way to be left alone. Pro tip: A couple of comments about guns and creationism will guarantee you a bus ride of silence. Also, try to use the phrase “personal freedom” as much as possible.

6) Rice – Embrace it. It’s everywhere, and it’s spectacular.

7) Tuk Tuk Confessions – Not as seedy as the HBO taxicab confessions tv show, but far more interesting. Most tuk tuk drivers are eager to talk, and many have fascinating stories. It can break your heart though, so be wary

8) Rediscovering music – I don’t listen to enough music at home to blow through my playlists very fast. But on the road, I need to keep it varied. I’ve rediscovered old favorites and even found gems I never gave the light of day. So thank you, Javier Dunn (album: Winnetka), Clams Casino (Song: I’m God) and Kid Cudi (who on a scale of 1 to 10, I give an 8.5). However, I still can’t explain the full Justin Beiber album on my Itunes.