The 99% Theory

IMG_2567Why is it that the most defining experiences of our lives are often the most difficult to describe? Just when we need the “right words” the most, suddenly we have none. Try as we might, it seems impossible to string together the most accurate series of adjectives, nouns and verbs.

Does our desperation to paint the perfect picture override our cognitive abilities and cause our brains to force-quit? Should we have been paying closer attention in the moment in order to have a better memory of it later? Or, is it because there are some things in this world that can only be seen, heard, tasted, smelled, touched and felt by means of personal experience, and there is no substitute for the real thing?

The Cambodia Vacation Blog: There Are Many Like It, But This One Is Mine

I was reminded this winter vacation why teaching abroad is such a cool, and great thing. Very few jobs or “careers” permit the time or prompt one to travel to another country on their vacation. It’s strange; there’s no reason why I couldn’t have traveled to other countries for vacation during all those years of working in another career. I just didn’t.

Teaching English in a place like Korea makes it easy to travel for a couple reasons.

English Camp in Korea IS Vacation (so I’m told)

It’s that time of the semester.

English camp time.

The 2 weeks following the end of both the spring and fall semesters is English Camp. It’s also when all the teachers in the school begin their vacations.

That’s right; for the two weeks that I’ll be conducting English camp, everyone else will be at home with family, traveling somewhere, or drunk. Maybe all three.

The days following the end of English camp are what comprise our “vacation” time as EPIK/public school NETs. It comes out to 8 days in the winter and 10 in the summer.

DSC03012 1024x768 English Camp in Korea IS Vacation (so Im told)


Blatant Pimping: The Worst Motorcycle in Laos

We usually don’t demean the fair cyber pages of this blog by something as base as promotion, but screw it, I’ll shed my secret identity and let the cat out of the bag: I, Chris Tharp, aka “Mr. Motgol,” got a new book out YOU should stop what you’re doing right now, click on the link below, and buy it. Hey, it can’t be that bad. After all, these guys had some nice things to say about it:

“In The Worst Motorcycle in Laos, Tharp takes us on a wild ride from the neon streets of Tokyo to the dirt tracks of Indochina. The essays are insightful, humorous and unflinching. A great read for the active and armchair traveler alike.”

- Michael Breen, author of The Koreans

Pondering the Infinate: Angkor Pixelated

Maybe it was the fact that everyone who ever built any of this stuff was well and truly dead, but after wandering around Angkor for while, I couldn’t help thinking that this will inevitably happen to to us too.

It’s 2014 and humanity continues to grief each other over irrelevant shit like skin colour, birthplace, gender, where we stick our genitals, and which invisible man-in-the-sky we believe or don’t. For all the technological advances we have made in the 900 years since the Khmer empire fell, humanity hasn’t really changed much.

Four easy ways to lose all your money in Southeast Asia

Who needs money anyway?

I generally try to prepare as little as possible in all aspects of my life. I tell others it’s more fun this way, and that I like to see where the wind will take me. But to be brutally honest, I’m hideously lazy and utterly scatterbrained. So, I find anything involving any real forethought to be way too much effort and a monumental bore.

So with that fantastic attitude, I found myself unemployed and strangely brimming with cash earlier this year. I took off on a three month trip around Southeast Asia, and while a good time was had, I fell for some of the most common scams out there.

Therefore, I’ve decided to write up a bit of a guide for other travellers to Southeast Asia intent on squandering more money than they can afford.

Here’s four easy ways to get scammed in Southeast Asia:

The 1000 Linga adventure

Nestled on top of Kulen mountains is another treasure in Cambodia. We drove for about an hour and a half from Siem Reap through windy roads to reach the top. With such sights, greenery and bird calls, time just flew by!

Many faces of Siem Reap- Bayon Temple

Our trip to Siem Reap started with my favorite Temple of the lot, The Bayon Temple after a sumptuous breakfast at the resort. We needed every bit of that energy to walk through the beautiful Temple. I had booked a taxi and a guide for the trip through the Temples all through the internet. And they were there at the hotel right on time! Always. They spoke good English and were quite helpful and informative.

The Cambodians or Khmer kings were Hindus and seem to have enjoyed the Indian epics very much. What connection the country had, with the Indians is not very clear. But Mahabharata, Ramayana, Dasa Avatars have special place in their culture. Especially churning of the ocean for the nectar. The entrance to the Bayon temple is decorated by the huge sculptures of Vasuki and the Devas and Asuras pulling.

Angkor Wat - The gem in Cambodia

As one of the most corrupt developing nations in Asia, engulfed in a turbulent war until 1991, Siem Reap in Cambodia does seem like an odd choice for a vacation destination. But the gems it holds beneath the rough exterior is just too precious to miss.

  Siem Reap, Cambodia houses the largest religious monument in the world. The Ankor Wat Temple. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and then later became a Buddhist Temple. Though i had read the dimensions , imagined it quite a lot, nothing ever prepares you for the size and grandeur of the building. The moat itself threw me off with its 109m width which took me quite sometime to cross in the hot sun. The water in the moat plays an important role in holding the Temple in place. If the moat water recedes, the Temple will collapse. They had some clever architecture in the older times!

The Weekend Warrior’s Guide to… Siem Reap

With the city’s innumerable temples, overeager moto drivers, unofficial tour guides, flocks of one-dollar kids, and absurd humidity, 48 hours in Siem Reap can be a rather beguiling experience for the unprepared. This weekend warrior’s guide will set you straight.

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