Memories fade and the travel stories become more and more inaccurate as the years go by. This is an attempt to get the facts straight. I actually haven’t been to that many countries but I think I have lived in more countries than most. I have lived in Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia and of course the US. The UN defines “lived” as at least six continuous months in a country.
1) Not that many people have lived in ten countries!
2) I have spent over 30 years living in foreign countries!
3) This is almost one-fourth of my life!
4) I think this background has shaped me more than any other experience!
I do have a permanent subprogram that automatically and immediately compares all experiential input related to human behavior with other human behavior cross-culturally.
Not everyone has this subprogram.
I have a wide range of interests that affect how I travel. Unlike most men I do enjoy shopping and I might be a sort of expert on shopping in Asia. I generally shop for books, comic books, and miniatures. I am also a big time window shopper and remember where things are even if I would not buy anything in the shop. A female friend of mine in Taiwan wanted to buy punk type clothes and black lipstick in particular in Taipei. There are exactly three stores in Taipei that sell punk clothes and I took her to all three stores. I also knew where the largest make up store in Taipei was and they had black lipstick. I personally have no interest in punk clothing much less make up but remembered these stores anyway. I generally shop in the day and hit the pubs at night in a place I am visiting. I generally take a local tour to check out stuff like museums and temples during the day.
I am absolutely not a back packer and prefer cheap hotels to hostels and will only stay in a hostel in very expensive countries. I will generally pick a major city as a home base and do day trips around the major city. I have no interest in seeing places that are not noteworthy. I rather explore one interesting city backwards and forwards than see a bunch of mediocre cities that no one has ever heard of and generally for good reason. I am not a big fan of hiking and will only check out a natural wonder of the world if in fact it is listed as a natural wonder of the world. I also am different from most travelers in that I have traveled throughout Latin America and Asia but not Europe. I do eventually want to do a grand tour of Europe.
In addition to having lived in nine countries, I have lived in over 20 different cities during my life!
City to City Moves
2) I moved from Westchester, CA to Hermosillo, Mexico in 1961
3) I moved from Hermosillo, Mexico back to Westchester, CA in 1962
4) I moved from Westchester, CA to Caracas, Venezuela in 1964
5) I moved from Caracas, Venezuela back to Westchester, CA in 1966
6) I moved from Westchester to San Fernando, CA in 1966
7) I moved from San Fernando to East Lansing, MI in 1968
8) I moved from East Lansing to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1971
9) I moved from Buenos Aires back to East Lansing, MI in 1972
10) I moved from East Lansing, MI to Saginaw, MI in 1981
11) I moved from Saginaw, MI to Houston, TX in 1981
12) I moved from Houston, TX to College Station, TX in 1985
13) I moved from College Station, TX to Lubbock, TX in 1988
14) I moved from Lubbock, TX to San Antonio, TX in 1992
15) I moved from San Antonio, TX to Suzhou, China in 1999
16) I moved from Suzhou, China to Taichung, Taiwan in 2,000
18) I moved from Taichung, Taiwan to Taipei, Taiwan in 2,001
19) I moved from Taipei, Taiwan to Daejeon, South Korea in 2007
21) I moved from Daejeon, South Korea to Nagoya, Japan in 2008
22) I moved from Nagoya, Japan to Samut Sakhon, Thailand in 2009
23) I moved from Samut Sakhon, Thailand to Bangkok, Thailand in 2009
24) I moved from Bangkok, Thailand to Bangsean, Thailand in 2010
25) I move from Bangsean to Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2018
I was in Argentina from 1969 to 1970. I spent seventh grade in an Argentinean public school. The public school in Buenos Aires I attended was on the Santa Fe Avenue. The school was within walking distance from our apartment on Montevideo Street. This was my second stint in a foreign school. I had gone to a private school in Venezuela fourth and fifth grade. I belonged to Club Ateneo and learned wrestling and got a belt in Judo. The wrestling coach introduced me to weights and I really bulked up that year. I made some good buddies at Club Ateneo and we would wander the streets of Buenos Aires together. I learned how to use the bus system on my own as well. I matured a lot that year and returned to East Lansing, Michigan a very different person.
I was in Australia September 2002. Part of a tour package from Taiwan. I visited the Gold Coast of Australia and Brisbane. This is one of three package tours I took from Taiwan. Taiwanese package tours are an incredible bargain. The Taiwanese are thrifty and to get their business the tour operators have to cut their costs to the bone. You basically get a four star experience for the same amount of money it would cost you to get a two star travel experience. You are staying at nice hotels and great buffets for the same amount of money as a hostel and noodles. The Taiwanese are the most boring people in the world and at night would retire to their hotel rooms despite the fact they didn’t know English and all the channels had English programming. I hit the bars of the Gold Coast on my own despite inviting some of the younger Taiwanese gals to come with me. Taiwanese gals often take tours with their best female friend and two or three of these groups in turn become a larger gal band. I do have a soft spot for Taiwanese gals though. I really liked Australia and the Australians!
The gals are a bit fitter than their US counterparts. Aussie gals also dress in a sexier manner than their US counterparts. Last but not least they noticed my Yankee accent and of course the first part of getting to know a gal is to get noticed. Despite being next door to Asia, many Sheila’s have not been to Asia and did “oh” and “ah” at my Asia stories. I think I would do alright if I lived in Australia. The proximity of Australia to Asia is attractive. Aussies produce great beer and great steaks and who can argue with that? Australians are rarity back in the US but all over Asia and generally my drinking sessions with Australian guys all over Asia have been a lot of fun. One of my friends in Taiwan was an Australian and I can comprehend a lot of Australian slang even if I can’t produce it. Australia is expensive compared to SE Asia and this is one reason I haven’t returned.
I visited the Bahamas in 2009 and 2016. 2009 was my first cruise. If you absolutely do not want to have anything to do with the people of a country and eat yourself silly then this is the way to go. Its all you can eat all day and all night and the food wasn’t bad. I was pretty bored with the ship by the third day. I do have to say the cruise was good value for the money. It worked out to about a hundred bucks a day and a beachside hotel is going to run you fifty bucks a day at least. You toss in six meals a day, I confess, and the trip to the Bahamas itself is practically free. I went with my uncle on the second cruise in 2016 and had ten times more fun! Never cruise alone!
I was in Bali for about a week on August 2002. I went with Polly my Taiwanese girlfriend at the time. This was only Polly’s second trip out of Taiwan and she was super impressed. Bali has an almost other worldly beauty. This was my second exposure to a Hindu culture after India. Thai Buddhism also has Hindu elements to a much greater extent than East Asian Buddhism.
I am a Buddhist and find different expressions of Buddhism at the cultural and national level interesting but I prefer an experimental view of spirituality to faith based views of spirituality.
I also have a general interest in religion and philosophy that shapes my travels. I will go out of my way to find an interesting temple/church.
I was in Bolivia in 1970. On the way home from Peru my family stopped in Bolivia. I was 13 at the time and in good shape but I could still feel the effects of the thin air. You literally feel a little dizzy. At the time the natives did often wear traditional garb. I have only been to two countries were none Western clothes are the norm, India being the other country like that, and this does make a country seem much more exotic than any other factor. My father has shown linguistic similarities between Quechua, the native language of Bolivia and Phoenician and theorizes a historical connection.
I was in Brunei for a couple of days on my way to Australia in 2000. I was part of a package tour from Taiwan that included Australia. Brunei is not worth a trip on its own but is an ok stop over. The Grand Mosque is incredible and you can’t believe you are in SE Asia as opposed to the Middle East. The Sultan has a museum with life sized replicas of various events of his coronation that is an interesting display concept and other museums should consider copying this idea rather than putting artifacts associated with a famous event in a glass case.
I visited Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in March of 2002. Angkor Wat is one of those tourist spots that is better than its rep and well worth the trip. Cambodia is far poorer than the Phils or Thailand and many of the streets in the capital city are unpaved. You need to be a little careful at night in Phnon Penh and are better off staying in the more well lit tourist areas. The above was written in 2002 when I VISITED Cambodia.
I would strongly recommend Cambodia as a place to retire. Your money goes further and the Khmer (Cambodians) are the friendliest and most honest people I have ever met. My two biggest problems are (a) too much good food of every type imaginable as temptation and I am trying to be fit and if I eat 20 times a day then I will be fat or at the very least fatter.
The Khmer women are also quite beautiful and the last thing I need at this point in life is a wife and family. Most Khmer women especially the really beautiful ones are not into pick up culture and want a husband not an affair. I cannot tell a lie these days so my lack of desire for a family much less children is a deal breaker. If you want women that are into pick up culture go next door to Thailand. For a marginal fee you can sleep with all the beauties you could ever want in Thailand. If you want good food, a lack of scams and friendly people come to Siem Reap.
I have been living in Cambodia for seven years and going to write a book about this experience. Below are some pictures of me having fun doing my werefox thing in Siem Reap. I ditched the mask for reasons of comfort and to show of my beard (LOL).
In 1973 hitchhiked in Canada. I visited Toronto and Montreal. I often crossed the border when I lived in Michigan. Canadians outnumber Americans at least two to one in both Taiwan and South Korea. Canadians themselves mention economics. I also think that Canadians appreciate the warmth of SE Asia a lot more than Americans since they have no equivalent to Florida in Canada. If you live and work in East Asia then SE Asia is an easy and cheap holiday destination. Playing in SE Asia is a major reason people do live and work in East Asia. The provincials back home that have never been to Asia have no idea and think of Asia as one big monolithic block. Idiots! No I need to be more forgiving because a decade ago I was like them. There is an expat Canadian bar in Itawhon in South Korea. My two best friends in East Asia are Canadians. Interestingly I didn’t become close to any Americans while in Taiwan and mostly hung out with my British office mate and my two Canadian friends. My best friend in Daejeon, South Korea was also a Canadian. I think one of the reasons I made Canadian friends instead of American friends in East Asia is just numbers. There are more Canadians that you can choose from than Americans in East Asia.
I was very amused by the section of the movie Bowling in Columbine were the Michael Moore tries to figure out why the US is so much more violent than Canada despite almost the same popular culture and similar availability of firearms. I have my own theories and think the movie does a better job at bringing up questions than answering them.
I taught in China from 1999-2,000. I found the Chinese to be highly educated and intelligent. At the time relations between China and the US were good. Since then US politicians have chose to demonize China in order to get votes. Plus, the military-industrial complex of the US makes money from war and has decided to make China the latest opponent using the excuse of Taiwan. Taiwan is part of China period. I taught and lived in Taiwan for six years and all the Taiwanese want is a prosperous life and would find a two systems one country solution quite acceptable. I still maintain contact with some of my Taiwanese students and they do NOT want to end up like Ukraine. I doubt there will be a war between the US and China over Taiwan. The DPP has lost local elections because of their pro-independence stance and in all likely hood a pro unification President will be elected in 2024. Will the US use its vast intelligence assets to over turn the results of a lawful election as they have in the past? Certainly the US will try but the US will find itself isolated and reviled if it uses such illegal tricks again. Hopefully the dangerous military-industrial complex that now runs the US will realize that its the end of the line and accept the results of the 2024 Taiwan election and reunification of China and Taiwan. Maybe I am too optimistic. WW III would be unfortunate.
I taught in Suzhou from 1999 to 2,000. This was my first visit to Asia. I had traveled a great deal as a kid. I had been to Europe been all over Latina America, lived in Venezuela and lived in Argentina, by the time I was in 13. I had taken a long hiatus from international travel except for a few trips to Mexico and one jaunt to England. I turned 39 and something kicked in! I needed to travel again and I haven’t looked back since then. I visited Shanghai, Nanjing, Beijing and Xian and all sorts of cities around Suzhou. This was the beginning of my long stay in Asia that continues to this day. I do have a soft spot for China and the Chinese because of my childhood in Latin America. The Chinese have done a great deal with very little. China has almost no natural resources and occupies a land area similar to the US but has six times the population. China is much safer than the US in terms of crime despite having less than one tenth of our income!
I think there is an often overlooked difference between US and China government besides the very obvious ones:
1) The US is run by lawyers.
2) China is run by engineers.
3) Lawyers do human software better.
4) Engineers do human hardware better.
China needs a lot more lawyers in their government but the US also needs more engineers in their government! The engineers have been very busy in China!
I was in Paris in the summer of 1963 as part of four country European tour as a kid. My most vivid memory was trying to touch the fish in a fountain in the Louvre and falling in.
I was in Germany in 1963 as part of a four country European tour as a kid.