Archive: December, 2012

Taiwan (Photos)

Superior to mainland China in every respect that I can dream up. Taiwan escaped the wrath of Mao and has a lot to show for it: beautiful mountains and beaches, great cuisine, friendly and civilized people, efficient transportation, and fun nightlife in the north. Great place to see!

Welcome to Taiwan

Modern Taiwan was formed after the Nationalists fled to the island during the horrific Chinese Civil War. Changing from Japanese to Nationalist Chinese rule was a violent, confusing time. Taiwan’s White Terror (1949-1987) was a period of martial law under Chiang Kai-shek who simultaneously purged the island of enemies (whether real or perceived) and planned an attack on mainland China, his cherished and maniacal liberation scheme.

The US supported Taiwan politically and militarily until 1978 when they finally recognized the communists on the mainland as the legitimate sovereign of China. Like pulling a band-aid, Taiwan’s break with the US was quick but left a stinging feeling for the Taiwanese. Their violent anti-US reactions only confounded an already violent past riddled by organized crime and political corruption; these problems continued well into the 1980’s.


By the 1990’s Taiwan had become a wealthy, industrialized nation.

Democratization was finally realized in 1996 when the Taiwanese chose their first democratically-elected president, Lee Teng-hui. Since then peace has returned and the island has prospered. Today it is one of the safest and cleanest destinations in Asia and the rest of the world.

Ask any mainlander about Taiwan’s status, and the answer inevitably returned is, ‘Taiwan is a province of China.’ This is just one among many examples of how effective Mao and his propaganda have been at ‘smashing their brains down to size.’ China’s indefinite postponement of Taiwan’s independence has become a thorny issue to say the least. Both ‘solutions’ proposed to end this political stalemate, full independence or mainland control, each bring a host of problems. The best outcome may come from staying the course and keeping their defacto independence. Taiwan should probably rest in the history books as the interesting anomaly that it is, and nothing more.

Despite Taiwan’s turbulent past, it remains a top-notch backpacking destination, especially for native English speakers who should have no problem finding teaching work. Taipei is a fun and safe international city, and the east coast and interior areas of the island have fantastic natural attractions. Hot springs are littered throughout the island, the mountains are surprisingly high and beautiful, you can find snow in the winter (although not quite enough for skiing), there are tons of hiking/biking trails, the beaches on the east and south coasts are nice, and since it’s Asia you can of course find temples everywhere. The food is good, the people are civilized and friendly, and the country’s train system is world-class. However you find your fun, you’re guaranteed to enjoy your stay here.

Favorite Travel Quotes

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
–St. Augustine

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
–St. Augustine

All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.
–Paul Fussell

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.
–Lin Yutang

Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty–his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.
–Aldous Huxley

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.
–Robert Louis Stevenson

I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.
–Steve McQueen

Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.
–Cesare Pavese

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
–Henry Miller

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
–Robert Frost

When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.
–D.H. Lawrence

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.
–Martin Buber

Travel is a creative act—not simply loafing and inviting your soul, but feeding on the imagination, accounting for each fresh wonder, memorizing, and moving on. And the best landscapes, apparently dense or featureless, hold surprises if they are studied patiently, in the kind of discomfort one can savor afterward.
–Paul Theroux

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.
–Paul Theroux

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
–Lao Tzu

A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.
–Tim Cahill

Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.
–Pat Conroy

Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.
–Benjamin Disraeli

Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.
–Anatole France

A wise traveler never despises his own country.
–Carlo Goldoni

What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.
–William Least Heat-Moon

Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.
–Mark Jenkins

Travel can be a kind of monasticism on the move: On the road, we often live more simply, with no more possessions than we can carry, and surrendering ourselves to chance. This is what Camus meant when he said that “what gives value to travel is fear”—disruption, in other words (or emancipation), from circumstance, and all the habits behind which we hide.
–Pico Iyer

Powerful men do not necessarily make the most eminent travelers; it is rather those who take the most interest in their work that succeed the best; as a huntsman says, “It is the nose that gives speed to the hound.”
–Francis Galton

Favorite Good Life Quotes

People say that what we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.
–Joseph Campbell

In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
–Albert Camus

Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.
–Benjamin Disraeli

I am an experiment on the part of nature, a gamble within the unknown, perhaps for a new purpose, perhaps for nothing, and my only task is to allow this game on the part of the primeval depths to take its course, to feel its will within me and make it wholly mine.
–Herman Hesse

Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Anyone who becomes involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that there is a spirit manifest in the laws of the universe, a spirit vastly superior to that of man.
–Albert Einstein

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
–Albert Einstein

Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.
–Oscar Wilde

The future rests, then, with the cultivation of those sides of our nature which are, in terms of immediate productivity and success, almost useless.
–John Nef

The Call to Consciousness and Jill Taylor’s Stroke of Insight

Everyone agrees that the world is a problematic place these days, but no one can agree how to fix it. All too often, we fail to look inside for the source of our troubles. Although the developing world presents exceptions, political and economic programs are mostly ineffective since they only jab at the exterior of the problem. I’m of the opinion that we have to change ourselves before anything meaningful ever happens.

Dig deep enough, and we’ll find a crisis of conscience. The modern psyche’s resounding materialism comes at a high cost to its spirituality. The time has come to take a deeper look into the relationship between mind, brain and spirit.


Alex Grey’s Meditation

Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroscientist who suffered from a stroke that caused the left hemisphere of her brain to shut down. Being that this hemisphere is responsible for creating the illusion of separateness, she experienced a total unity with the universe while she was temporarily residing in her right hemisphere.

She was lucky enough to come back from her trans-dimensional travel to share her experience with the rest of us. She describes humans as energy beings connected to a physical body with manual dexterity. We harness an enormous amount of unknown potential that she assures us we have to be more serious about exploring. I’d like the heed the call of her message to delve into the realm of consciousness and see what we might discover to grow our collective consciousness to a new plane .

Perhaps you’re wondering what this has to do with travel, but it’s connected in every way. Traveling is a window into the world of differing cultures and mind frames. Putting sincere energy into travel inevitably demonstrates the diversity and power of our minds, so it’s the perfect primer for such a call to consciousness. Traveling is a great first step amongst many others to solve our crisis of consciousness.

Freddie McGregor – Irie Christmas

Hip hip hooray
What a Irie Christmas Morning!

Bill Withers – I Wish You Well

Bill Withers is a master of soul and good vibes. If this doesn’t make you happy, I can’t imagine what does.

Travel to Philippines (Video)

Every country shows a different side of its unique beauty with each visit, but my time in the Philippines stood out above the rest. Take a look and find out why:

Highlights From the Video: Eating balut (duck fetus), island hopping and snorkelling in Busuanga, cliff jumping, waterfall swimming, biking, SCUBA wreck diving, transport on top of busses and inside dump trucks

Places Seen in the Video
Manila, Busuanga Island (Busuanga): Concepcion, Salvacion, and nearby islands

Important Notes for Philippine Travel
Manila is a mostly horrid city, but don’t be dismayed because the world’s best islands are only so far away.
Some areas like Manila and Cebu have crazed locals who see foreigners as walking ATM machines. Know where you’re going in these areas and BE AWARE of your surroundings.
English is spoken by nearly everyone, so it’s quite easy to find your way around the country.
Some of the world’s best wreck diving can be found near Busuanga, Palawan.

Best Time to Travel to the Philippines
The best time to travel always depends on what you’re looking for in your trip (do you want to see lots of people or none, for instance). The dry season for most of the Philippines starts in November and ends around April. Since I don’t like constant rains and prefer to see less tourists, the best time for me is in late November/early December when the rains have stopped but the massive crowds of the high season haven’t quite shown up yet.

Transport
Manila has a modern train system that’s easy to use, but you’ll have to be careful of your belongings here as thieves are on the prowl. Generally speaking, travel on land isn’t a problem.


Jeepneys and tricycles are always ready for hire.

When it comes to traveling between islands, boats are a little sporadic, oftentimes around one per week. Flights are fairly cheap (only a little more than most boats) and tend to leave about every day.

Lodging
Most of my time was spent in Busuanga, so I can only recommend two places that I thought were top-notch. Ann & Mike’s in Concepcion is a cheap stay (600 pesos low season/700 pesos high for double capacity). Ann is Filipina and Mike is her Dutch husband. Mike is a very talkative, friendly guy who rearranged his life at 50 years old. He quit the grind, or the mice wheel as he likes to say, and chose to live the Good Life with the business he’s now running. Both Ann and Mike are a delight to stay with.

I have to give my highest recommendation for Al Faro Resort, across from Puerto del Sol, which is 3 km from Concepcion on the way to Coron. Their list price is 3700 pesos for a room, which is well out of the realm of backpacking prices, but you can do much better if you find some roommates and negotiate the price. The atmosphere, food, swimming pool, view and company of Al Faro are incredible.


View from the legendary tower of Al Faro at night.

Eats & Drinks
Like most east Asian destinations, you can spend a lot of money in the Philippines if you want to, or you can spend a little. Fortunately food is fairly cheap here. Street food comes in around 30 to 50 pesos and food is restaurants are in the 80 to 500 peso range. Drinks can be damn cheap if you buy them on the street (~50 pesos for a liter of coke and 80 pesos for a liter of rum), but if you buy in a bar or restaurant they’re going to be much more expensive. Local specialties are balut, adobo and seafood!

The Philippines (Photos)

With so many incredible islands, fantastic dive sites, endless outdoor activities and relatively high level of English, the Philippines is a country that shouldn’t be missed by anyone!

Meet Dave

Meet DaveUnfulfilled by consumer lifestyles, I left on a really slow trip around the world. As a 3rd eye traveler on the New American Dream, my aim is to inspire and cultivate conscious living along the way....Read More...

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Road Trip Through Bali, Indonesia

Random Inspiration

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
Henry Miller

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