So I’ve been doing Muay Thai since August last year at Charn Chai in Pai, Thailand. I was never that physically active before this time. Since I’ve been traveling I’ve walked a ton, trekked mountains in 40 Degree Celsius heat but have never really been consistently physically active until now. So here I am thinking that after 7 months I should put the wheels in motion and prepare to get into the ring.
It is a scary thought, to train to be beat, to get kicked and punched for five 3 minute rounds against another person. I’ve never been a violent person, I never ever thought about doing martial arts in my life before meeting a friend in Taipei and just deciding to go and do it.
So here is the question, why should I get into the ring? To push my physical limits beyond what I believe I can do, to test you’re the techniques I’ve learned from the trainers and other people at the gym, to say I’ve done it, to become more physically confident, so that my body learns how to take a beating (although I would put this in both the pro and con lists). To
The why not is probably a bigger list but let’s go for it, the danger of getting hurt, the risks involved preparing which are getting hurt, the potential disappointment of losing and letting down everyone that helped you on the way, that I fight someone with way more experience who just wants to knock me out and it goes on and on.
I feel like I need to train to fight to raise my game, to do more and push harder otherwise I’m just doing this to be fit and that’s it and personally that isn’t enough for me. It will feel like I walked to the edge but didn’t jump. Fighting isn’t for everyone and I am not sure it is even for me but I will not know until I try. I have to try, I will not let fear drive me and I will use fear to motivate me, to banish it. Before I set off traveling I would have never thought about fighting and to actually do it would be a triumph.
I have to work my ass off, get hurt, be humble and say to myself every day that I can, not that I can’t or I shouldn’t. I’ve lived like that for far too long and why to get into the ring isn’t really about my opponent it is about my focus and dedication to put everything I have on the table. If I can do everything within my power to prepare then I want to know I can compete with the other person not out of fear but competitive drive and a belief in what I can do.
So let’s hear it to put it all on the table and prepare so that no matter what happens in the ring I can feel like I won…. Well screw that because I want to win. You never want to prepare except to win, that has to be the goal, the aim the mission. So let me begin the long walk, run and or sprint to the ring.
My flight to Myanmar from Thailand, just another road to travel upon.
I have no clue what I am doing, who I want to be or why I am here? I’ve traveled for more than a year and a half and although I am not the same person I was I am still searching for who it is I want to be. I guess we do that all our lives, that life is about a constant stand of reinvention from one version of ourselves to another. I always lived having the safety on, being careful. I was never a risk taker and I really wish I could say I was that but I am inching closer to be more of that but also have balance of when and what risks to take.
I am not a child anymore I have limited experience in life in comparison to my peers but that’s OK, that allows me to see things from a perspective that others can’t because I frame my life differently based on what is yet to come. I can’t say I know what I will do but I do know that it isn’t time to go back to Canada. I’ll know when that comes but until then I keep on walking, stop just traveling and just try to find ways of making some income so I can keep this trip of a lifetime going.
How do you know you are different? Sometimes its in the subtle things, sometimes its obvious like when you get a tattoo or you meet someone. I hope to change in both physical and mental ways that will allow me to go beyond my preconceived limits and remove my fear of failing.
I want to have a clear direction of who I will be, I need it and I have to focus on just a few things that resonate with each other and get me to that goal. I plan on getting a story out if it kills me cause I know it is there deep down inside. I can feel it but now I must accelerate its rise to the surface of the sun because I can’t afford to wait a few million years before it is out in the world.
I will be open, experiment, do things I would not normally do and enjoy every moment as I can because each second I am out wandering is a second that was worth all the time I was lost because it is helping me finally be found, not be found by someone but find myself and define it on my terms and no one else’s.
As you search for inspiration for the story you are taking so much from the world you see but as you perceive it changes everything. It is the difference between seeing the brighter side of its darker one. I’m a science fiction guy, love the idea of looking up and wondering what is up there, what exists beyond not just our planet but our solar system.
So last year I decided to do some world building, I created a universe that I didn’t think exist, that I would want to read about. I’ve worked out the science, technology, development and places. I dove in before I ever had the story developed but I need to get beyond everything that I’ve already built to find the way to introduce it for me.
I thought about how transit seems impossible between Earth and another solar system, I wanted to take a different spin on faster than light travel, so I took a good hard look at it and tried to make my universe’s transit different but familiar at the same time. I thought about keeping it as real as possible.
Like many modern movies and stories I wanted to show that life, is rare and that intelligent life is rarer still, by magnitudes. The world sees the distance and the vastness and it isn’t forgotten, the dangers for traveling far are real and tangible in this world. It is not something that s like driving a car.
I wanted to set it at the point where we had climbed out of the nest but were still tethered to home, that the risks are unknown and the fact that intelligent life had not been found meant that people had free rein to do as they please. While this isn’t the case I wanted to open a door to a new world.
It is about feeling like you can look over the horizon and still not know what is out there, that there is still so much to discover and that you could be the first person to set their eyes upon the wonders we have yet to comprehend.
So I have more than 30 thousand words written of background, as John Truby would say the ghost. All this work is the foundation of the world I built but it isn’t the story that I have yet to find but each day I get closer to seeing what it should become. You can go anywhere, I can go anywhere and I want to make a world that feels like it can be real no matter how impossible it seems.
To make something that exists beyond a person but is felt to be owned my all those who read the words and imagine what it looks like to them. I think that’s my goal, what matters and that is why I write.
So what does it take to build a world that exists within the confines of your mind’s eye and give it some sort of tangibility in this world? I don’t know and I’ve been sitting on a world I created for the last year. I spent a ton of time in 2014 building the all the parts of the world. It is a science fiction world that I wrote a bible for before I got to the story and now I have all this material but no idea where to begin.
That’s the trick right now for me, taking everything I’ve thought about and making a story out of the world while also being internally consistent without losing the soul of what I’ve created. It’s hard to talk about something that you are so close too, that is a constant work in progress. I’ve asked people to destroy my world, break it down and nuke it to hell and back because at is the only way I know to make it better from the tatters of what it is right now.
They say to start with the story and build the world around it, as a gamer I think in those terms and built the world first as an exercise because I thought it would be fun but now I want to go deeper into this world and see what can be done within it. I remember first playing Mass Effect and the world seemed so large. As an RPG if felt like you could go almost anywhere and that was a thrilling experience.
Then as each game in the trilogy came and went that scope and scale seemed to shrink with each passing game. It’s not that it ever left completely but one of the big selling points of the game was that your choices would have meaning, making it feel even if it was just an illusion that your choices mattered. That grand ambition was scaled back as part of the game design process and it never felt like you reached those immersive heights that the first game was reaching for even if objectively Mass Effect 2 and 3 were far better games.
So I wonder if I should write it at all, this will be a time sink no matter what but I know I want to do it. I know it will be horrible but I have to try right? If I don’t what’s the point. Will this work, I doubt it, at least in the first incarnation, hell that’s what rewrites are for but if I can inch up the mountain just a little then maybe that will be enough.
My roommate confronted me after tensions rose beyond all sense of reason. She came to my room, knocked on my door, yelled at me then threw a water bottle at me. After I tried getting her out of my room for fear she may try to break my computer or something valuable she kicked me and grabbed my arm scratching me and trying to force me out of my room. I didn’t do anything back except get her hands off me and get her out of my room.
She said that I was pathetic, ugly and hated at the gym as if that would in any way hurt. I know words that hurt and for me those are better words than I tell myself, I think we are all way more brutal on ourselves than anyone ever could be. I know my weaknesses, my faults and I live with them every day. I can’t change who I am but I can stop getting walked over. I had put it out on Facebook just how unreasonable she has been, how I thought she was passive aggressive but this confrontation just reinforces how I feel, that is I don’t regret anything I said at all.
She called me pathetic because I happen to be abstinent at this point in my life. It wasn’t something planned but it is also something that I will not give up until I feel it in the right moment. Maybe that makes me pathetic in some eyes but it can also be seen as strength to resist the urges that drive us until that moment when you truly feel ready to be physically as well as emotionally naked. The truth is it lay somewhere in-between.
I never told this person this but she used it as a weapon against me but I have nothing to be ashamed off. I am not advocating that everyone stay that way until marriage but that only for me I will not fear labels or be bullied by people that have no understanding of where I am coming from. This person tried to strike a low blow but failed, it didn’t hurt because it isn’t something that I am ashamed off and no one should be. It just shows what a shallow person she was.
The thing is so could this person, just be confident in what you are doing and let go of what anyone else says. Her violent reaction lets me know I hit a nerve and while many think I should just keep it to myself, today I see that as condoning their behaviour and that shall not be something I will ever do. I think too many people are quiet and maybe I am not trying to save the world but I can start not giving a single cm in my life, that’s what this represents to me.
I was told I was acting childish, maybe I am, I can’t disagree but in comparison to her reaction I’ve been downright benign. It some ways it’s what I expected, I am not surprised at how blind this girl is. If nothing you can say is right, if they are always the victim, if they warp themselves into a frenzy then what else can I do but expose it. You know they will never listen, so why bother with a losing exercise. Yeah I get the brunt of her anger but that’s a small price to pay to expose what’s behind the mask even if it’s only to a few people.
She told me I suck at Muay Thai, well I agree but I’m trying not to. I am working on it every day I am at the gym and that is all I can do. She yelled “and you want to fight” and I said yes. That I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself. Just by getting into the ring I’ll have proven that I don’t have to be owned by fear. It’s not that I will never cower but that if I can get past that once then I can do it again. So it’s funny that nothing she said actually hurts because I know myself, my weaknesses and my strengths.
I didn’t realize until after she tried and failed to insult me that nothing she could say mattered, some of it is just opinion but overall I know what I am working on, it is hard, I fail a lot and I have a lot of problems but acceptance is part of the process that I’ve learned and has been worth each day I’ve been out here.
I can’t help but think about things with this girl cause we live with each other but I let any caring about what this person thinks about me go a while ago. It doesn’t matter, the threats are empty and reflect on her and not me. She took physical action no matter how slight on me that doesn’t diminish my actions that led her to this and I have no regrets but it removes the mask this girl puts on to the world.
I have not been the best roommate either and I’ll admit that. I could have made a better attempt at peace but instead I went full avoidance. I was threatened once on the second day by this person when they moved in and after that I knew she was worth nothing but trouble and not someone I wanted to associate with and with the 4 or 5 threats she’s given to me today, I give them the same credence. I took my concerns to the owners so they know where I am coming from and am taking precautions against the crazy but beyond that I regret nothing but I will not leave it to chance.
If a person like this isn’t called off they will continue to do what they are doing. I can’t change much but if I can let a few people know about the face behind the mask then I’ll have done the right thing, at least from my perspective. I can’t control what a girl like that thinks and it doesn’t matter, what I know is that for all my innumerable faults that I am taking action on them. If people hated me then I hope they wouldn’t say hello. Ugly, well that’s in the eye of the beholder and I may not be attractive to a lot of people but you don’t need a lot, all you need is one. Writing this is cathartic for me. It is a form of expression where I am most comfortable and I can look at the issue as much from the outside as much as from within.
On the second of January 2015 after the fireworks are only an echo and the lanterns have all returned to Earth what shall I think about what is to be this year. It is unknown, can’t be known but let me give voice to my intentions or focuses.
I’m a pretty quiet guy, I keep everything from intentions, hopes and frustrations within and although it is not healthy to do it has been how I defend myself from pain. My contradiction is that I am both too open and too closed and I have yet to reconcile those elements.
So one intention is to get into the #muaythai ring which is a way is my way to conquer my physical fears, that I can’t do it because I have to believe that it is possible to surpass the limits I’ve self-imposed.
Another is to #writethestory of a world I’ve crafted out of the ether, I’ve been stuck afraid of what it could be and what it can’t but I let that go, keep it in 2014 and I will write the story, not to prove I can but to change my life. To climb the writer’s mount, so I will express my soul in some way each day through the immense power of the word, those we speak to others, to ourselves and to the wind.
I will overcome my fear on intimacy, vulnerability and connection to find moments of passion and fire, even if they are for a moment. In my own understanding of the lone wolf I know it’s worth the effort and the pain. Connection from both friends, family and lovers is something that I’ve kept out of a fear that has caused me nothing but lonely days and nights and I know it’s not because I am not worth it but because I fear what it means and I can’t, I will not, that will not be my path today.
I shall not live in shame of what I am or am not. I’ve had the chance to travel across Asia, meet amazing people from around the world and do
it from both great friends and lovers, both are needed but are things I keep outside.
This comes from a lack of self-worth that is not worth the time. You can’t go back but I can go forward with the intention of letting go of the past, the pain, the emptiness and living for the moment. To dedicating myself to being the best me, a confident one, worthy of connection, love and passion that I see all around me but that I seem immune from.
In some ways I need to regress from caring what people think to taking more chances to seeing risk as a friend not any enemy. Today is a day of contemplation, of setting the path with intentions, hopes and passion to see how far I can take to change, of what it means and how everything before me be it pain, challenge and opportunity is a chance to rise above and be better.
I seek this moment of understanding, that the hope will never vanish and that it will lead to possibilities that I cannot even comprehend. I intend to be the best me, to never be afraid of being me and to stand up for what I believe.
I seek to repay every moment of generosity sent my way and use my own experiences to tell stories that matter and to live a life that matters. We are what we think and I am a writer, I am working to be a fighter and I want to be worthy of every kindness given and to return it 5 fold.
Those are my intentions this year, for this moment, a moment I hope will not pass to resonate for the weeks and months to come. I hope they will echo into the wind, make a difference in what will come and set up an amazing 2015. It’s funny there are people outside my door laughing talking and all I can do is sit here and pour out my soul into the electronic ether, wanting to be noticed but hoping I am not. That is one battle in my war, one I will win each day as I climb the mountain.
This photo was from India near Pakistan when I was feeling like the only person in the world. I thought it was only fitting it go with this post as I say goodbye to who I was then and say hello to someone new.
After spending 3 and a half months in Pai it was time for a chance, time to wander again. While my time in Pai was far from over I was called to Myanmar otherwise known as Burma to see what it was before it changed to meet the modern age.
In my first few months of world wandering Southeast Asia I had seen many of the countries and by May I had covered all except one Myanmar. It was on my list for a long time, since I heard about the changes occurring across the country as the military slowly relaxed its grip on the country.
Seeing the money generated in Thailand and other Southeastern Asian countries Myanmar made reforms to make tourism more open. In September of 2014 they implemented an e-Visa program significantly cutting down the hassle for getting a visa into the country.
After getting to Bangkok wandering Siam for a day I took an 8 am flight to Yangon. It arrived an hour later and I was greeted to the usual army of taxis waiting to grab a tourist with an overpriced fare into town. The airport while small is relatively modern with ATM’s and foreign exchange booths being plentiful
Airport rates always suck so if you change money make sure to only do enough to last a day or two because you can probably get a better rate at the banks or even the private money changes.
Just make sure you have new crisp and clean bills at the ready at the airport because they won’t take anything less. If you have older US dollars then save those for the privately aka non-bank exchange places. You may get a lower rate but at least you can change them there.
I found some other folks from my plane and we caught a taxi to Yangon for 10000 kyat which is about $10 usd which we split 5 ways to cost 2 dollars each. We were driven a block away from the Sule Pagoda in downtown Yangon. From the start you could see the remnants of Myanmar’s colonial history with buildings that look like they came out of Europe not Southeast Asia.
There was construction everywhere you went and a country that didn’t have readily accessible mobile phone networks is now awash in them and smartphones. Even at the airport you could see the near omnipotent branding of Samsung with humidifiers at immigration. So the goal in the morning was to go hostel hunting.
Now I know that prices for accommodation in Myanmar can more expensive than in Thailand but I was able to find a bed at the Cherry Guest House for $10 usd which I thought was a pretty good deal. I had one bed in a four bed dorm and they had decent Wi-FI access and the best breakfast I had anywhere in Burma if only for the tiny tangerines.
If you want good internet speeds then Myanmar is not the place for you unless you are in the big cities like Yangon where it was decent in comparison to the country side. As the former Capital of Myanmar Yangon is at the heart of their identity even now after the capital was moved to Naypyidaw. You can still walk U Wisara Road and see the long empty ministries.
This is a city that is dominated by the Shwedagon Pagoda which is visible for kilometres around and is surrounded by parks and a litany of other Pagodas, Stupas and Temples that all lead to the Golden laid Shwedagon. Close by there are several parks which allow you to marvel at the golden Pagoda in the peace of greenery.
As you walk up the layers of stairs you must take off your shoes, leaving them at the front counter for a donation. There is a $10 usd price for foreigners to go to Shwedagon but there are four entrances after you enter the main gate and up the stairs right before the last set of steps all you have to do is go through the western entrance where the ticket booth faces the inside of the pagoda and make a left.
You may still have to pay if you look like a foreigner because the ticket booth minders will ask for your ticket. That’s one way to do it the easier way is just ask one of the tourists exiting and ask to buy their ticket for a few dollars.
From a block from the Sule Pagoda the Shwedagon Pagoda is about a 30-40 minute walk but from where I was the closest thing to wander was the Bogyoke (Scott) Market. It carries a little bit of everything from jewelry, clothing and food. On any day except on Monday there will be people selling and on the street food a plenty.
You can eat on the street in plastic chair surrounded by locals having tea or your can try out one of the many restaurants. Just a few blocks away from where I was staying there was a great Southern Indian place where I had Naan for 1000 Kyat.
If you are looking for a party town then Burma probably isn’t gonna be for you at least not for the next while but it is a place you can almost see transform before your eyes. It hasn’t become too touristy yet and there are still many places you can go where the locals see any foreigners at all and that is a gift that is rare and worth discovering. So that was my first day in Burma known today as Myanmar.
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