Archive For The “Humor” Category

The Day I Took A Tuk

The Day I Took A Tuk

Pairs Well With…International Travel + Carin’s fetish for taking over motorized vehicles in other countries

It’s not unusual that I borrow things that aren’t mine, but I usually always give them back. Case in point borrowed clothes, money…and the float that I stole in Rio during carnival. (Yes, this did indeed happen.) It’s even better when it’s a motorized vehicle. In another country.  I’m starting to notice a pattern to my shenanigans. 

The first week I landed in Cambodia, I got this bright idea to drive a tuk-tuk around town. Tuks are Cambodia’s primary form of transportation, and you can expect to hear tuk?” or “you need tuk-tuk?” on every corner. God bless you if you have a long walk ahead of you and have to hear the same question a million times.  On bad days, it kind of makes you want to bang your head against a wall. 

Now, week one, I worked out a deal with the tuk-tuk driver who is routinely stationed out front of my apartment building.  He agreed, eagerly at that, to let me cruise around town in style. Why?  I’m not sure. Perhaps my innocent looking demeanor doesn’t give off the “I’ll mess up your shit” kind of vibe.  So, with that, I waited until my last day in Cambodia to pull the trigger on this.  And, here we are.

Heads turned, people smiled and waved and I laughed my ass off.  In hindsight, had I done this sooner, I might have found a nice form of supplemental income for the month and have thought to pull off some sort of Cash Cab type kind of action.  Dually noted for future countries. Maybe even figure out how to get Missy Elliot to pop out of the backseat like on James’ Corden’s carpool karaoke.   

But, I don’t know that any more words are really needed to intro today’s adventures.  So, without further ado, my infamous tuk-tuk takeover!

You Can Have My Fried Rice, But I’m Not Goin’ Out Like That

You Can Have My Fried Rice, But I’m Not Goin’ Out Like That

Pairs Well With…”Goin’ Down For Real” by Flo Rida

If you’ve ever gotten robbed, and we’re not talking about losing your dignity at the bar last Saturday night, it might have felt like your world flashed before your eyes in slow motion.  In those seconds when it’s all going down for real, it seems like an endless moment.  Yet, there are so many details that take place with that three-second span of time.  Now, I must state for the record that I didn’t get robbed, but it was a very close call.

So, here I was merely being a Citizen of the World and attempting to cross the street with a friend on the way back from dinner. Crossing the street in Phnom Penh, like Vietnam, means walking and weaving between oncoming traffic. While the motorbikes in Vietnam were intense, they at least knew how to maneuver around pedestrians.  Here, there may not be as many, but they will full on take. you. out.  Drivers here have no concern for your welfare. None.  And, if dealing with traffic isn’t scary enough, I now have two things I have to highly guard: my physical life and my other life, my purse.

(more…)

Will The Real Wayan Please Stand Up? (Adventures in Bali)

Will The Real Wayan Please Stand Up? (Adventures in Bali)

Pairs Well With…”The Real Slim Shady” by Eminem

Last month, I made a visit to Bali, one of the places on my travel bucket list.  I spent many years dreaming of teal pools and sandy beaches in quiet, serene surroundings, the kind that offers solitude and inspires my writing.  For a while, I romanticized my Remote Year trip to be a bit like Eat, Pray, Love.  Going to Bali for a few days gave me a chance to dig deeper and do some soul searching.  I was a few weeks into my trip when I went to Bali and was feeling overwhelmed from the rhythm of my new lifestyle.  I wanted to check in with myself and get crystal clear on my intentions and personal goals for the year, especially my business goals.  

Days before we arrived in Bali, the owner of the Airbnb I rented messaged to let me know he’d be in Milan (rough life) and his house manager, Wayan, would be on point for any questions or needs throughout the duration of our trip. The place I rented was beautiful, but in a very remote, very secluded area which would cause us to need a driver.  

A solid five hours after we were supposed to land, we finally made it to Bali.  I was given the instruction to look for a man holding a sign that had my name on it.  It was the first time I had a driver, and it made me feel fancy.  Quickly locating the sign with my last name on it, mainly because it goes on forever, I walked over to my driver and introduced myself as Carin.  “Hi, Carin.  My name is Wayan.”  Huh.  I thought that was the house manager’s name.  Did the house manager come pick us up after all?  No, as it turned out, both the house manager and driver’s name are Wayan, a name I hadn’t heard before, except for maybe in Eat, Pray, Love.

The next day, after a morning filled with pool time and sunshine, we headed to the beach for lunch and a beer.  It had been so long since I’d been to the ocean that I forgot how much I loved that distinct smell of warm air, breeze and salt water.  A while later, the sun had worn us down, and it was time to recharge at the house.  After many failed attempts at getting an Uber, and the Bali Beach Patrol (BBP) trying to price gouge the hell out of us, out of principle, we began walking to a spot where we would more easily be able to get a ride since we refused to pay the tourist markup.

Well, that didn’t exactly work out the way we had imagined.  Not by a long shot.  The BBP had the transportation game on lock, and Ubers weren’t allowed in the park systems for pickups, a way to keep local cab drivers in business.  We were pretty much at the mercy of negotiating a reasonable rate to get us back to the house or living on the beach indefinitely.  (Hey, I voted for beachin’ it indefinitely, but someone else in my group had a flight to catch, soooo….)

You could tell frustrations were running high, especially since only one cab driver was passing by every twenty minutes, and the first two said no deal to our offers.  It was now or never, and time for us to get in, shut up and just get out of there.  A few minutes into the conversation with our driver, one of the gals I was traveling with asked his name. Wayan.  

What in the hell was happening here and why is everyone’s name Wayan?  For crying out loud.  We now had House Manager Wayan, Driver Wayan and now Cabbie Wayan. I got to the point where someone would go to introduce themselves, and I would think to myself, “Wait.  Let me guess.  Your name is probably Wayan.”  After all, I had about a 40% chance of being right.

In Bali, an island populated with 4.2 million people, about one in five are named Wayan. We learned this because we had asked Driver Wayan the next time he was taking us around town.  He explained that in Indonesian culture, the firstborn male is always named Wayan.  Okay, but why?  I mean, can you imagine being in a classroom on the first day of school during roll call when the teacher calls the name Wayan and about fifteen hands go up?  It’s bad enough when you have a second Sarah or Katie in a classroom, let alone a room full of Wayans.

The Balinese name their children based on the order of which they were born, the first being Wayan. The second through fourth children is named in the same fashion with a name given to those second through fourth birth rankings. What happens if the family has more than four kids?  Then the cycle repeats itself, and the fifth child becomes another Wayan.  Interesting cultural learning, that’s for sure, but the first thing that popped into my mind was this:

“YOU’RE a Wayan….and YOU’RE a Wayan…and YOU…are a Wayan!!!!

via GIPHY

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not mocking other cultures.  There are just certain cultural concepts that make my head spin, this being one of them.  These learnings fascinate me all the same and are one of the main reasons I love to travel as much as I do.

And Wayan?  Well, he was one of the kindest and most interesting men I’ve met on this trip.  He took great care of us and showed us the best parts of Bali.  If you’re ever in town, give him a shout.

This episode of Keeping Up with the Wayan’s has been brought to you from Bali.  

Want more? Check out Project Made’s video to see footage of the beautiful beaches and temples, as well as our other Bali adventures. 

Motorbikes & Dongs: Vietnam’s Sensory Overload

Motorbikes & Dongs: Vietnam’s Sensory Overload

Pairs Well With…Motorbikes + Dongs + Sensory Overload

Motorbikes.  Dongs.  Pho.  Those three things, all plentiful throughout the city, are what I first noticed upon my arrival to Vietnam.  (Imagine, if you will, the number of dong jokes that are exchanged within our group each day.) Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), month 2 stop of Remote Year, is a beautiful city with a French colonial and cool street-style vibe.

Just when I thought I was getting the “hang” of Asia, enter Vietnam.  Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is not only wild, it’s a freakin’ sensory overload.  Granted, I was here all of a day before I took off on a work assignment to Hanoi and Halong Bay, but still.  My head has been spinning trying to take it all in. That first day had me like whoa!

When we left Malaysia, sure, of course, I knew Vietnam would be different.  They don’t front about getting into their country.  I mean, you need a visa to enter, and you’ve already overstayed your welcome minutes after your 30-day allowance in the country.  You can’t go home, but you can’t stay here.

So in case you’re wondering what my whereabouts this month look like…

WHERE I KICK IT: District 3

I live in a complex called Saigon Mansion.  Now, I’ve always wanted to live in a big, dreamy house like a mansion.  In fact, I’ve been channeling that shit for years.  It appears that I haven’t been clear enough in my intentions about what kind of mansion I would like, as well as its location or whether its permanent, but for now, this will to do.

Bedroom

Living Room

Kitchen

 

WHERE I’M WORKIN’ IT: District 1

This month’s office space is a little bit different and more untraditional that where we worked in Kuala Lumpur.  It’s cute – and it’s got a pool!

Poolside office anyone?

Easy, breezy cafe seating

 

THE HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM SCOOP:

  • Population: 8 million
  • Currency: Dongs ($1 US Dollar = 22,600 Vietnamese Dong = Dong jokes)
  • Language: Vietnamese (my sign language is not cuttin’ it here)
  • Key Landmarks & Attractions: 
    • War Remnants Museum – Contains exhibits relating to the Vietnam War and the first Indochina War involving the French colonialists.
    • Independence Palace – Home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.
    • Thein Hau Temple – One of the oldest, largest and most beautiful temples of about 30 Chinese pagodas in HCMC.
    • Ben Thanh Market – The market is one of the earliest surviving structures in Saigon and an important symbol of Ho Chi Minh City, popular with tourists seeking local handicrafts, textiles, souvenirs, as well as local cuisine.
    • Traditional Medicine Museum – A private museums in Vietnam which are devoted to the Traditional Vietnamese Medicine & Pharmacy.
    • Cu Chi Tunnels – An immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War.  (I will visit the tunnels later this week.)

 

FIRST WEEK OBSERVATIONS:

  • The way people drive here, I’m not sure that there are any licensing or age restrictions to operating a motor vehicle.  I’m pretty sure an eight year old on a motor scooter almost took me out the other day.  But I haven’t seen any accidents which is impressive.
  • Dong is the only recognizable word in most conversations I have.
  • The only thing the Vietnamese culture dislikes more than Americans are pedestrians.  Cars, motorbikes, anything other than your walking self has the right away – always.  Good luck and may you live to see tomorrow.
  • I am a minority in this country and at times have felt watched or judged by my appearance. Layer on a sometimes severe communication barrier and you can find yourself in high levels of stress and frustration, leading to feeling deflated.
  • I am doing things in Vietnam I wouldn’t normally be doing and am having experiences grounded in Vietnamese culture.  I mean…when was the last time you saw me catch a catfish with my bare hands?!

 Want to see how it’s done?  Watch and learn!

 

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