Archive for January, 2011

The Cuteness Part 47

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…are at my parents mountain home in Boone, North Carolina having a Girls Weekend in the snow. From 4 months old to 70 years-old.

I miss and love them. They, as a collective whole, are the reason I am who I am today.

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Click HERE, Dad.

This is the route I plan to travel. This “Banana Pancake” trail. They say it like it’s such a negative thing. How did banana pancakes become the fanny pack of the backpacking crowd? And what’s wrong with fanny packs anyway? I happen to L-O-V-E bananas. And I love (regular, not all caps) pancakes. I haven’t had a proper banana pancake since I was back in NYC, but now that you mention it, they do sound awful tasty right about now. Annnd, I also remember quite the jolly tune written by one Jack Johnson (HEY! Don’t knock him.) about the same said yum-O breakfast food, and I also also remember that I happen to like that song. So why all the nose in the air, ho-hums about the deliciously nicknamed piece of planet that I am super pumped to explore? Well, apparently this is why.

Taken (illegally, I assume) from travelfish.org

There’s a story that’s been handed down for years from one backpacker to another as they parley in guesthouse lobbies throughout Thailand. It’s usually told by an elder of the tribe, anointed in patchouli oil and sipping a watermelon smoothie. The story is tinged with inaccuracies and a hint of self-righteousness, but that rarely distracts from the narrative. It follows this basic script [with brief editorial notes]:

“Once upon a time there were two travelers [named Tony and Maureen Wheeler] who decided to write their first Lonely Planet guidebook [actually their second] called Southeast Asia on a Shoestring. The book became so popular that it was nicknamed “The Backpacker’s Bible” [true] and travelers could recognize the yellow cover from a hundred yards away [I’ve heard up to a mile]. Soon business were literally [figuratively] fighting to get a mention in the book and they all ended up serving western breakfasts and Pad Thai which isn’t even a real Thai dish [sure it is, in fact it’s the national dish]…And now everyone who comes to Thailand just follows The Banana Pancake Trail…”

So what is the Banana Pancake Trail?

It’s a reference to the track laid down in 1975 by the Wheelers, the ruts etched deeper and deeper into the landscape with each of the eighteen subsequent editions of Southeast Asia on a Shoestring. The name comes from the fact that westerners, while traveling, are famous for enjoying certain creature comforts—particularly familiar foods.

Not long after the first edition of the Backpacker’s Bible hit shelves savvy business owners noticed that if their menus boasted banana pancakes and muesli alongside the traditional Thai breakfast soups johk and kao tom they seemed to fare better with budget travelers.

But the Banana Pancake Trail has come to embody more than just menu items. It’s a reminder that for many young travelers a trip through Southeast Asia (Thailand in particular) often ends with the unsettling feeling of having followed someone else’s footsteps a little too closely. This inevitably takes some of the thrill out of the adventure.

Because of this, the conclusion drawn by the self-styled road warrior delivering the Lonely Planet lecture is that Thailand has become a destination best left to package tourists. They assert that it’s no place for “real” travelers anymore. But the fact is—that’s just not true.

Well, pbbbbbt. I am very excited about my Banana Pancake experience and I’ll be darned if anyone says it’s not hardcore enough. I’m not that hardcore, to be honest, so it sounds right up my alley. Traveling alone through countries I’ve never been to (minus Thailand) where they do not speak my language, with only what I am capable of carrying on my back, is just enough thrill I think I can muster. So if my footprints happen to follow the footprints of someone who I’ve never even met (but is obviously as equally un-hardcore as I), well that’s just dandy. And I plan to eat banana pancakes at every opportunity I’m given and I’ll LIKE it. Ha!

Now. On to patagonia.com for the most overpriced, pseudo-backpacker, fanny pack they’ve got!

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Friday was my official 90 day mark here in K-Land. WHATWHAT. I can’t believe it. 3 months have gone by crazy quick, which just reassures me that the next 9 months will go by crazy quick too. Due to this, I find it important to start thinking about my next step now. I have a feeling if I don’t start contemplating 2011/2012 ASAP, I’ll wake up from a short afternoon nap one of these days, and realize it’s time to pack my bags for home.

As you may have taken from the adjective riddled post I wrote on my visit to Thailand a few weeks ago, I had a pretty good time in that country. Obviously, a trip back to my 2nd most fav place on the planet is definitely part of the plan. But, as many people back home probably know, from adjective riddled e-mails on the subject, I have a strong desire to make Nashville, Tennessee part of my plan too. So, keeping both places in mind, I have come up with the following 3 year itenerary…

Due to my penchant for mind-changing, this plan may (definitely will) become subject to alterations.

Step 1. Save a bunch of money and finish up here in Korea at the end of October. Step 2. Go to Thailand for the month of November to take this TEFL course I need to be a certified ESL (English as a second language) teacher. Step 3. Backpack December, January and February through Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia. Step 4. Go back to Savannah for March (visit all my peeps in NYC/ Austin, Texas/ Tulum, Mexico) Step 5. Get another job in Vietnam or Laos for the next year (April 2012- April 2013). Step 6. Save more money to move to Nashville and buy (dreamin’ BIG here, people) a house, Spring of 2013. Step 7. Become a famous writer and start a collection of vintage cowboy boots.

Sounds easy enough, right? Ha. Cross your fingers for me.

As you sort through all my big plans and far away dreams, you may ask, as so many recently have, if I have any desire to be a “real” teacher back in the states. I generally have a different answer each time I’m asked. All of which are equally vague, mind you. Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about this and here’s what I’ve come up with. “This” being public schools, wayward kids, crappy pay, even crappier parents, gang bangin’, metal detectors, spray paint, teenage pregnancy, that song “Lean On Me”, the entire United States school system in general, etc. Sometimes (when I’m feelin’ frisky) I play with the idea of coming home, going back to school and becoming a leather jacket wearing, karate kicking, badass of an ex-marine teacher who inspires a whole generation of under privileged Savannah gang members. Through the medium of music and song, nonetheless. Other times, I think I’ll just ride this ESL train until I’m ready to come back to the States and call it a day. I don’t know. Considering I’m teaching kids here in Korea that are basically on point with the 2nd grade class at Savannah Country Day (economically speaking) I don’t really know anything about teaching in the states other than what I’ve learned from mid 1990’s movies starring Michelle Pfeiffer. I have a friend who taught at a “school of hard knocks”, more or less, right out of college. I tried to bring to light for him no matter how tough it got, to realize that just bearing a week with a classroom full of kids who have already “done time” would assure even Hitler a place in Heaven. (Maybe not, but you get the point.) To me, this qualifies all teachers as awesome and, yes, a piece of me does want in on that awesomeness. How badly? I’m not sure yet. Badly enough to go back to school myself and get a degree in teaching? Ummmm…

So, I just wanted to clue everyone in on my big plans for The FUTURE. If for no other reason than to verbalize what I want so desperately to come to life for me. Verbalizing is the first step to making a dream become a reality. Positive thinking and positive speech are also a big part of it. Mantras, meditations and prayers don’t hurt either. And now, before I totally run the risk of sounding like Joel Osteen, I’ll sign off here. Gotta get to yoga!

Ohmygod, I think that just made it worse.

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Kids are funny.

“Santa Claus was real, but he died in 1993.” – Cindy, 9 years old

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From one of my FAV blogs…

The Sartorialist

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I sent an e-mail to my Dad yesterday to toss around the idea of teaching school in Saudi Arabia next year. This was his response.

I missed this email and have just now opened it.
I just have one thing to say about Saudi Arabia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO ALCOHOL

How would you survive in an environment like that?
I could go for living on your income. I know they have golf there.

Just kidding.
Love you,

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