peat o’neil

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Posts Tagged ‘life writing

Touristville, Asia

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Events - 1285Events - 1937 Events - 1955 I’ve been to Asia again and it sucks.   You know those places on the Lonely Planet beat?   They’re crowded with brusque, loud  travelers from  places where respect for other cultures wasn’t taught or the current bunch of road-killers didn’t learn.

Here we are in South East Asia, where the overland hippies from Europe and America brought banana pancakes to Samosir Island in Lake Toba in the 1960s and 70s. Where  Bali was already an artsy rest stop by the 1930s.  Where Thailand lured Vietnam War vets on R&R leave.  The same areas that by the 1980s found Swiss and Germans with months of paid vacation hanging out on remote Andaman islets frittering away long winters.

Then came the ’90s and the ’00s.  Western travelers flew to the obliging “Far East” for smokes and more-different-stranger-sex.   Indonesia’s money values swooped low, some Christians were killed in Ambon and there was a worldwide slump with the dot-com bust.  And hello, wake up,  what happened to quiet peaceful Asia?  Now comes terror bombings on the beaches where Ozzies rave.  The world recession-depression through the ’00s, meant travelers didn’t need a trust fund to waste a year on beer, naked mud slides, temple massages and cheap beds in Chaing My and Koh Tweetie.  Tsunami Tragedy and more of the same.  Wow, what an awesome mess.  No one spells correctly anymore and respecting local cultural norms has ended, full stop.  And don’t think it’s only the westerner travelers who dress inappropriately and spurn local customs.

Asia’s relentless push to acquire the  consumer veneer of success has displaced the traditional culture that attracted travelers in the first place.  Do locals have any images about life in the west except what is online or in film/video/tv?  They see a Droid sized version of superficial trappings.  A  highway of revved cars, bright skimpy clothing, painted fake fingernails and Red Bull parties. That’s the western culture dumped by itinerant bored travelers on gap year and beyond.   The intellectual and cultural understanding, once as necessary for successful travel as a passport and a guidebook, could be missing.

Development Requires Water

In a land of monsoons, peninsular Malaysia and Western Indonesia are developed with scant regard for water run-off or sustainable civic management.  Public buildings spring up swiftly without plans for increased car ownership, traffic routing, sidewalks or transportation safety amenities like cross walks, ramps for the handicapped and bicycle lanes.  Existing public facilities that don’t serve the image of the emerging computer chip state, like bus stations, cross walks, public toilets, are left unmaintained.  And all the bustle and growth is to the tune of the requisite recorded mullah blaring off-key from radio speakers, rooftops and storefronts.  No, I’m not politically sensitive, so what.  This is the reality I experienced.

Highway fatalities escalate because driver’s licenses can be purchased and training would take too much time.  Perhaps even contrary to the arrogant Muslim male who feels the seed of Allah in his loins, and struts as if he alone were responsible for populating the world.  Women are said to share public life, yet they aren’t seen and certainly not heard.  Facilities for women are limited and shared public space can harbor danger.   In a world of men, litter, urine, cigarette butts, trash, chewing gum and food wrappings are tossed everywhere.  No one cleans up when women don’t have a place or voice in the public spaces.

In a world where men believe they are the holy endowed, women are ignored, patronized or baited into compromising and uncomfortable situations.  Mercedes speed along the roads beside open sewer drainage ditches which irrigate the city and overflow when it rains.  Tropical forest has been slashed for furniture, replanted for palm oil production and bordered with toll plazas and shopping theme parks.

Huge tour groups from the new middle class of China and South Asia parade around,  while tour buses chug, sending fumes into the already smelly air as the drivers smoke and chat, or sleep in their seats, bus motors running to fuel the A/C.  How much water do these visitors use?  Can the local villages in Myanmar, for example, sustain their own people’s needs with the onslaught of tourism?

Contemporary politicians have grafted their ideas onto the glory and prestiege of the sultanates to gain depth to their history.  Has regard for the masses ever mattered to those elevated by lucre, king or church?

Did I really expect places to be the same?

In Kraabi, the town appears changed for the better with a jetty promenade and flowers planted down the new four lane roadway.  Why did they need a four lane road?  To handle the tourist influx.  Yet the old buildings endure and you can still find a clean bed for $4.  Thailand seems more prosperous than years back, but not in the flashy way Malaysia has opted to express prosperity.  Public services, structures facilities are reasonably advanced.  Trash bins, road signs, curbs, stoplights a bus station with waiting benches and an indoor  toilet.  Here, I see a balance of women and men in public.  Women wrapped in headscarves stare vacant eyed and follow careless, pushy loud men.  At least they’re not smoking.

In the bright morning light filled with promise, fishing boats chug out from Kraabi to sea. Dried fish on woven mats during the day.  A cat nibbles at the fish.  Women sort the dried minnows and smelt.  I saw a cicada caught in a spider web last night.  Cigarette butts everywhere around the public space.  Why is it travelers never realize they’re littering when they flick away a butt?

Resources:

Virtual Tourist – Dress Code in Asia

Got Passport – Correct Behavior for Buddhist Temple Visits

Written by patwa

01/05/2013 at 12:10 am

My Books

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Book CoverTravel Writing by L Peat O'Neil

Book Cover
Travel Writing by L Peat O’Neil

E-Books are just right for travel -lightweight, nearly infinite, a library in your hand.

If you plan to buy books, try my web-store, Double00Books!  Use the Search function to find any Amazon title.

Pyrenees Pilgrimage Cover The Way

Pyrenees Pilgrimage, my recent book about walking across France alone, is also for sale in Kindle format on Amazon.  

Prefer a paperback edition?  Pyrenees Pilgrimage on walking across France alone is ready to read, available on Amazon.

Recent interview on my Travel Writing experiences on Money for Travel.com  with Canadian inspirational speaker John Beede.

Get started in travel writing with Travel Writing: See the World, Sell the Story.  Signed copies available from the author on Half.com

Wish You Were Here article in Writer’s Digest Magazine May/June, 2011 on travel writing tips and tricks.Travel Writing pb edition cover

A few copies of Travel Writing : A Guide to Research, Writing and Selling are available online.

You are welcome to visit and subscribe to my websites and  blogs —   AdventureTravelWriter.org  *   FranceFootsteps

NoWhiteFood   *    MexicoEducation  *   OpenGrave    *   WorldReader   *   PyreneesPilgrimage

*   Writing Wild NatureWriting

 

Interviews + Publicity About L Peat O’Neil
 

Travel Writing as a Career?

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Check out this web chat about travel writing and global networking experiences.

http://moneyfortraveling.com/specialty/travel-writing/start-a-writing-career/

Resources:

AdventureTravelWriter.org

AdventureTravelWriting

 

Written by patwa

21/01/2013 at 3:15 pm

Travel Writing at Hill Center

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Hill Center near Eastern Market on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC is sponsoring a   Travel Writing and Blogging class July 24, 2012, 6 to 9 pm.    Register now for this creative adventure.

Travel stickers when the going was great!

Hill Center partners with The Writer’s Center  in Bethesda, Maryland to recruit instructors for Hill Center’s writing classes.

Written by patwa

06/07/2012 at 4:49 pm

Posted in Travel, Writing

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Hitchhiker’s Guide to Earth

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I recently learned about a project initiated by Everett Pompeii — a college student currently in Japan.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to Earth

Here are his words:
 “The more people you inspire to get out there, the better off the world is (in my view, anyway). Before we get too far, a bit about me. I’m a college student from the US, but I’m studying abroad in Japan.
On the way here, I backpacked and hitchhiked through most of Australia, New Zealand, and the East Coast of the US. I’m currently working on a how-to manual specifically for travelers like me; it’s called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Earth.  The project is on a crowd-sourcing website called Kickstarter, and it runs until June 29, 2012
7:00 PM EST.”
Everett asked me for advice and a blog post might help spread word about his project.  Does he know I have about 20 different blogs? Check out his travel blog to learn more about this enterprising nomad’s paths.

Written by patwa

13/06/2012 at 5:55 pm

U.S. Flags and Henry Miller’s Air-Conditioned Nightmare

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“It has become so to-day that when you see the flag boldly and proudly displayed you smell a rat somewhere. The flag has become a cloak to hide iniquity. We have two American flags always: one for the rich and one for the poor. When the rich fly it it means that things are under control; when the poor fly it it means danger, revolution, anarchy. ”

Henry Miller portrait from Library of Congress.

Author Henry Miller wrote this in 1941 during a cross-country road trip of the United States of America.  He had lived in Paris during the 1930s and settled in California after returning to the States, as described in the  Air-Conditioned Nightmare.

I apply Henry Millers mid 20th century observations to the 21st century ornamental habit practiced by Congressional elites, Cabinet members and corporate executives  — the wearing small U.S. flag pins on their suit lapels.  Do they control the flag and what it stands for?

The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, Henry Miller, New Directions Publishing Corp, 1945, p. 37.

Henry Miller Online Resources:

A review of Air-Conditioned Nightmare that appeared in The Satirist.

Henry Miller website by Valentine Miller, his daughter.

Nexus, The Henry Miller Journal.

Henry Miller Memorial Library, Big Sur, California

Written by patwa

11/06/2012 at 5:52 pm

Food Writing at Hill Center

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More to writing than this…..

Hill Center near Eastern Market on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC is sponsoring a Food Writing Master Class June 14, 2012, 6 to 9 pm.  Hill Center partners with The Writer’s Center  in Bethesda, Maryland to recruit instructors for Hill Center’s writing classes.

Register now for this creative adventure.  Or choose the  Travel Writing and Blogging class July 24, 2012, 6 to 9 pm

Written by patwa

11/06/2012 at 4:49 pm

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