There once was a travel magazine named MERGE...
While UPickAPath is momentarily standing still, the pen and the stories keep moving….
Below is a sneak peak and an unashamed plug for an article of mine published in the spanking new travel magazine, MERGE.
It’s not just the egotistical orgasm of trivial self-promotion behind this brazen endorsement; it’s more the magazine’s take on travel writing as an honest reflection of the farthermost corners of the earth and a writer’s struggles, thoughts, observations and adventures in getting there.
Merging life and travel…I introduce to you the travel magazine, MERGE
Eight hours on a Lao boat to watch a woman pick her nose
Where? Mekong River, Laos.
“ This is obvious in the scenes that stand still - as they have for hundreds of years - as we glide by on the river like some boat ride at a fair. Scenes of village life and of a people and an economy dragged along by agriculture like a plough being dragged by a buffalo remind me of a time I never lived. And that chickens have feathers and are not born as pink filets cling wrapped to guarantee freshness.
The river is the supermarket, the swimming pool, the bath, the kitchen sink, a source of occupation and wealth (however minimal it may be).
Men and women in dome hats pan for precious stones in its silty bed. Taut, young men spear fish, aged ladies squat on the muddy banks scrubbing laundry, river weed is collected for drying and eating, butt naked children wave excitedly as we pass. And as the sun begins to make its descent, it seems the whole village is down at the river bathing, including the buffaloes. It is alive with splashing, children laughing and soaped up men playfully pushing each other off rocks into the water. These people do not know the world and the world has no idea who they are. And unfortunately, after they have spent many years of standing still, the world is progressing in light years without them and seemingly not giving a shit who they are.”
To keep on reading, visit MERGE...
Vietnam Motorcycle diaries. Day One: One breakdown, six hours, 170km’s, a red light hotel and complimentary condoms. Used.
Now, where were we...ah that’s right, Vietnam, motorbike, adventure.
Like in all healthy attacks on the habitual rational self, there were certain things left out when deciding to undertake this caper, traversing from the south of Vietnam to the north on the back of a motorbike.
For example: I have never owned, ridden or even straddled a motorbike. So the prospect of negotiating the manual gears and clutch on one was quite daunting. But when in doubt, call on Google. But while Google could teach me how to ride a bike, it couldn’t teach me how to cure my severe incoordination.
But I guess we all begin as virgins and even though evolution had left me behind somewhere along the line I am determined to catch its tail.
Statistics sound harmless, until you become part of them. A daily scrum between over four million motorbikes plays out on Saigon’s streets daily - A detail my tragically un-insured safety depended on.
As a pedestrian Looking on to the madness this congestion has organically created, you can do nothing but shake your head full of orderly traffic rules from home - and avoid the odd motorbike using the footpath as an overtaking lane.
Crossing the road can be quite an exhilarating experience in Saigon; like walking directly towards a firing squad’s relentless bullets with your eyes closed, hand over them - one eye peaking between the parted fingers; Like Moses parting the red sea, taking a step from the footpath and in amongst it; bikes coming within an inch on either side and it’s all playing in slow motion as I slither between the chaotic arrangement rushing past me, like a furious river’s current.
This was to be the environment I would learn to ride a motorbike for the first time. The length of the trip is 1700km, from Saigon in the south to Hanoi in the north.