Friday, August 16, 2013


As I write this, I'm sitting in place far different than where I would usually compose my blog posts. Today, instead of a white powdery beach and a vibrant blue ocean constituting my field of view, green, lush deciduous forests, soft grasslands, encompass a gentle lake and fill the scene. It is beautiful. The weather is nothing short of perfect, and this is no exaggeration. Crisp clear air wisps over my skin chilling it slightly. Before I chill too much, the sun warms me up, but never too much. Cordial and fluffy clouds flow through the sky; all of them carry themselves without the threat of rain. This is magnificent.

Returning home has certainly been an experience; one that I've never experienced before. In that sense, it's been fun for many reasons. Social norms here are certainly different than in Fiji and in Thailand. For example, if you were to walk do the street in Fiji and waved, smiled, nodded, raised your eyebrows (that's a popular way of saying yes or “what's up”), at literally anyone, you would receive some form of acknowledgment back. It's just the way it was. Here, it's not the case. I find myself saying “hey” to a lot of strangers on the street (especially on lakeshore path while on a run) and most of the time, I receive no acknowledgement of any kind. What I receive is usually a cold stare straight ahead and usually down towards the ground. Some even go as far as to look at their feet. Some, however, do shoot you back a smile or nod, but it's certainly rare. That's been hard to get used to, actually, as I made it a habit while I was abroad to look passersby in the eye and acknowledge them in some way. It isn't a problem, but it is something that I never noticed before. To be honest, I've taken a liking to the mentality of acknowledging, even celebrating, instead of ignoring those who occupy the space around me, especially when running or hiking. William Allen White, whom I wasn't familiar with before I stumbled across one of his quotes, once said:

“If each man or woman could understand that every other human life is as full of sorrows, or joys, of heartaches and of remorse as his own... how much kinder, how much gentler he would be.”

I'm betting if someone took this to heart, they would gladly acknowledge others around them.

UW-Platteville put together an pamphlet for study abroad returnees and one of the “symptoms” it described was called the “critical eye.” Someone returning from abroad might look critically at the home nation. They may be disturbed by the amount of waste Americans produce, or quality of fast food, for exampke. It's good to be aware of though, because I found myself thinking some of these things. However, just as I may have thought critically about Fijian ways of life, I got used to it. The same story applies here.

It's funny that, no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to explain my experiences with justice. It simply won't happen. At first, it was a bit bothersome, but now I understand. It's not the stories that you'll tell others that define a trip. It's who you spent it with, mostly, but also with what you experienced and how those experiences changed you. Jared, one of Kyle's buddies, just got back from China. Today was the first day that he got the chance to describe to us what China was like for him. He would be asked a question, and, not long after he starting answering, we would be distracted by something else. I really don't think he ever got to fully answer a question of ours. It wasn't that he was boring, but rather because everyone else couldn't connect the dots like he could. There was, and forever will be, a disconnection and there is nothing to be done about it. He was a good sport about it though, it never seemed to bother him.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Status Update!

I'd like to apologize for my lack of updates, I really don't have any excuses besides maybe the increase workload I'm experiencing.  It pales in comparison to work back home, so if I can't handle myself here, I'll be in a world of trouble back at Madison.

Recently, I've been partaking on an adventure that tends to begin this time of year for me.  It's the adventure of "How far can I push my dollar?"  It's a bit troubling to think that my last two posts are about money, but, instead of ranting about money, I'd like to let you know about how I'm beating it.  It's nothing too clever, but it's been fun to see how far I can stretch a dollar here.  Food really isn't that expensive, but it's definitely my biggest expenditure. At the onset of the semester, I had the idea of bulking up and getting strong; I stuck with it for quite some time.  My calorie intake was quite high, and I was nearly meeting my protein quota everyday: around 100 grams or so.  I was doing this without protein shakes or bars, I was doing it with A LOT of tuna, eggs, and milk.  Milk goes for about $2 USD per liter here, and I was shredding through about 1.5 of those a day.  A dozen eggs may last around two meals, and a can of tuna was a snack between my three high calorie meals.  It was expensive!  I stuck with that idea for far too long.  I'm still eating well, staying relatively healthy (I'll get to that part later), but I've manged to cut down the cost of food considerably.  First I began to lay off the milk, second I lowered the amount of proteins I bought.  Most of my protein comes from eggs and Chinese sausages; the daily total doesn't come close to 100 grams like it used to, but that's alright.  Thirdly, I had to swap my expensive cereal from Cost-U-Less (about 20 FJD for a 2 kilogram bag) for the 4 FJD Weet-Bix box.  I don't particularly enjoy Weet-Bix because they get mushy instantly!  The trick is, though, to add a bit of milk with each bite instead of soaking the bales (yes the cereal comes in little bales) completely.  The addition of raw sugar makes it enjoyable; "A part of a nutritious breakfast!"  French toast is what's usually for dinner, and it's what's in my stomach at this very moment.  Eight sizable slices worth of cinnamon goodness in my tummy.  I had it a couple of days ago too.  The reason why I've been eating so much of it recently, is the same reason why my buddies have been too: it's super cheap.  A large loaf of fresh wholemeal sliced bread will run you out about 2 FJD, 3 eggs cost about 1.50 FJD, a splash of milk is almost free, and the extra bit of vanilla and cinnamon don't cost too much either.  For less than 5 FJD I was able to stuff myself!  In contrast, the hamburger that I used to make spaghetti was over 5 FJD to begin with.  I have just over 5 FJD to spend until Friday, and I see no particular problem with it.  I have the groceries I need and there are plenty of free things to do.  None of my friends are going on crazy adventures at the moment either, mostly because they're feeling the financial pressure and because we all have things that need to get done.  It's much easier to live/eat this way when everyone else is doing the same!  It's similar to how I felt my first year in Madison.  My high school self would have thought that waking up around seven every morning and hitting homework hard until, at least, eleven at night would really suck, and it did!  However, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, because everyone around me was doing the exact same thing, if not harder yet.   Funny how that works.

In summary, I'm winning the battle against money.

Bacteria on the other hand is kicking my ass!!!  Last week I developed this weird red lump on my thigh and then on my face. It looked and felt like a pimple, but it was quite hard to squeeze anything out.  Anthony would watch and cringe as I attempted to rid of anything that may be hiding in there.  Soon the "pimple" on my thigh turned into a volcano of pus and blood!  It's a bit of an exaggeration, but it was oozing a pretty good amount of bodily lava.  I decided to head to the doctor, because I didn't want that blood and pus party all over my face!  I was prescribed some antibiotics and instructed to return in a couple of days so he could make note of the progress.  The antibiotics worked on my thigh first.  All of the dead bacteria and white blood cells retreated to the lump on my leg; pressured would build and build until the lump couldn't take it anymore.  A marvelous geyser of all things nasty would shoot out of my thigh!!!  It didn't quite go like that.  The pressure was uncomfortable, but it was up to me, and whoever wanted to play with pus, to get it out.  Cassie was quite happy to volunteer her services after I showed Anthony and her how much fun it was to squeeze the nasty pus cocktail out of my leg like squeezing toothpaste out of its tube.  She had a field day releasing the worms of pus from their comfy home in my leg (that's not really an exaggeration, they looked like worms coming out!).  Anthony capture it on film!  After that initial round of pus filled fun, I sanitized and dress my thigh properly; it proceeded to heal. My face however... decided that it wanted in on the action!  I could feel the pressure in my right cheek, and knew that it would soon turn into something similar to my what was on my tight.  I really hoped it didn't match the scale though!  A couple of days ago, while on a hike, Liz, Alden, and Albert had to witness my face ooze its special blend of pus and blood.  I would clear it with what I found closest: leaves and other vegetation.  I couldn't see my own cheek, though, so they'd have to periodically remind me that my face was squirting again.  They are understanding friends, but it was still quite embarrassing.  Later that night I found that band-aids weren't hefty enough to stem the flow, so I had to resort of a full gauze patch.  I must have looked like a dweeb.  Turns out that the two lumps that plagued me were boils: infections caused by Staph bacteria.  They're basically gone now.  Not surprisingly, I'm very happy about it.

On to my left shin!  Several days ago I was in the shower when I noticed an itch on my shin.  I used my sponge to relieve it; the area burst, and more itchy spots formed.  I didn't want to provoke it any more, so I gently washed it and hoped that it would just go away.  Now, on my left shin, sits a beautiful, dark, crusty, itchy, lumpy, oozey, rash the size of my palm.  It's on an imperialistic mission, and it's winning.  Not only is its mainland getting bigger, but it has formed satellites on the side of my leg, behind my knee, and up my thigh.  The ooze is its method of conquest; whatever touches it becomes its new territory.   Today I have been armed by another doctor with stronger antibiotics in the form of pills and creams.  It's a war of attrition now. This sort of antibiotic inhibits the bacteria's ability to eat!   Five days is all it should hopefully take!

Fiji is great! Really it is!  I'm utterly broke and covered in boils and malignant rashes!

But seriously, this is the neat part of this post, I am still having the time of my life here.  I may be broke, and I may be covered in bacteria, but I'm still smiling and still happier than ever.  If there's any testament to how awesome it is here, this should be it.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Thoughts On: Thoughts as I Write This Post.

We shall both discover what this post is about as we progress through it.

Money...  money money money money money.  It empowers you and it limits you.  Everyone can't seem to get enough of it.  Anthony and I were debating about if perfection is, by definition, God and God is, by definition, perfection. It was a long and heated debate, but still very civil, as are all of our debates.  I won't go into details, but one of my arguments struck me because it seemed as if my voice was talking to me.  At one point I said: "There's no such thing as a perfect amount of money."  Shortly after, I thought how weird that is.  We can never ever, no matter how much we try, have the perfect amount of money for ourselves.  You can have ample amounts or money or you can lack it; somewhere in between those two there doesn't exist a line that denotes a perfect amount: no optimum.  How odd.  Calculus tells us that a continuous function from point A to point B has, at most, one minimum and one maximum.  If we're talking about optimizations, something Calculus is very good at finding, we're able to quite easily compute that too.  If we were to represent our amount of money by use of a Cartesian plot, it would appear quite continuous.  There isn't a point, for example, were that "money" function is undefined, so shouldn't we able to compute an optimum amount? A perfect amount?  You might be able to narrow it down to a certain situation for a certain individual.  Say you have $6.02 in your pocket and you want to buy the Angus Burger Deluxe meal at the McDonald's in Marathon Wisconsin.  In that specific situation, you would have the perfect amount of money.  (I feel a bit troubled that I can remember the exact cost of a McDonald's burger but nothing else).  However, you'd be wanting more, because having no money in your pocket is not optimum; not perfect.  What's the perfect amount of money to be in your pockets anyway?   I'm still troubled by this thought, because the reason why greed exists is because there is no optimum; greed is always trying to get as much as it can because it doesn't know when to stop.  There is an optimum in box buiding, for example.  Say you're given a certain amount of wood and you're told to create a box with an optimum/maximum amount of space.  You can do that.  There's no better way of doing it; greed has no place in that situation.  Then again, in everything besides Math it seems that there may not be a perfect amount (if you could quantify it) of anything.  Say you're a marathon runner, and you win!  That's all well and good for you.  You had the best time for that specific race.  You might even have the best marathon time in the world, but you still didn't reach the perfect time, whatever that may be.  Say you're as fast as the speed of light!  Well then you would've completed the race in 0.0014 seconds.  That's pretty damn good, but what if you were faster than light, or would if... you completed the race before you started.  Isn't that better?  Marathon runners are "greedy" in the sense that they want to continue to lower their times; with no perfect time in mind.  Greedy is the wrong word to use here.  Greed's nice cousin goes by several names: determination, focus, motivation.  I would say the latter three are better suited for a marathon runner's description.

I may have gone off on a tangent,so now I'll attempt to elaborate on what started this post: money.  I clearly don't have a perfect amount of money.  I want to scuba dive here, for example, but if I did I wouldn't be able to afford to feed myself!  That doesn't really bother me a whole lot, because snorkeling is fantastic and quite satisfying.  The only reason why I want to get PADI certified is because my friends are: envy.  (I just discovered where I may be going with this post (greed, envy, ...).  Can you tell?)  Anyway, I have plenty of cash to be able to everything else here in Fiji, so I shouldn't be complaining. I'm living as full as I can; I have no regrets.

Someday, hopefully sooner than later, I shall follow my uncle Tim's footsteps by hopping on a motorcycle for over 2 weeks, see some beautiful sights, and sleep under the stars with, maybe, the mesh of a tent separating me from them.  How cool would it be to make it to Alaska in such a fashion!  If I had a dog and/or a girlfriend to join me that would be quite spectacular as well; no complaints there.  Problem is, at the moment anyway, I lack the money. 

I want to change this.  Money is crushing my ambitions and I despise that.  

I've started to learn more about back-end web technologies so I can make myself more relevant to the Freelance Web Development scene.  There is good money there and, best of all, I can do it while I travel.  In fact, I am doing while I travel!  I'm still getting paid from my employer back home to update and maintain websites.  It's a pretty sweet deal, but it's proving not enough.  I am admittedly being greedy because I want more money so I can travel more!  However, my greed does morph in motivation and determination.  It motivates me to learn, work hard (no Sloth for me!), and better myself.  

I unfortunately must be headed to a meeting now.  I'm the secretary for the University of the South Pacific International Student Associate and I have to take minutes.  Can't be late!  Although this is Fiji, and no one is ever on time.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mount Korobaba

Yesterday I ascended the highest point in Viti Levu (the main island of Fiji) here's how it went.

Around 9:30 am I woke up and prepared myself for the day, filled my rice bowl with Mini Spooners (similar to Mini Wheats) and Devondale Full Cream Milk, and hopped on the internet to see where exactly Mount Korobaba was.  I remembered my friends: Liz, Alden, and Evan saying something about it being near "the" cement factory which I knew to be in Lami.  Google Earth confirmed this for me, and with that I geared up. I threw on my spandex, black running shorts, gray Smiley Invite cutoff, long black socks, hiking boots, and my Budweiser baseball cap.  My rain jacket, swimming shorts, camera , 2 liters of water, a pack of breakfast crackers, can of tuna, Twisties (chicken flavored), 3 small New Zealand Gala Apples, leathermans, fork, and a can opener became the contents of my backpack.  I looked absolutely absurd, but it didn't matter.  I was sure the mountain wouldn't mind.  

I set off, with a skip in my step, down the path leading away from 10th hall, and bumped into Michelle and her Mother, Mary.  We exchanged small talk, and I went on my merry way.  A short while after, I hopped on my first bus (cost: 70 cents) which took me to the bust station in downtown Suva.  It was from there, where the adventure began.  I found myself at the bus station and not having the slightest clue which bus to board.  Lami, I remembered the town next to the Mountain was Lami, so I began looking for a bus that was headed there, and I discovered there were two, but they were absent at the time.  So there I stood, with my short shorts, hiking boots, baseball cap, white skin, and a smile in a crowd of Fijians waiting for the bus.  The first pulled up, but, after asking the driver if his route went passed the cement factory, I discovered it wasn't the bus to take.  The second, however, turned out to be the right one, and for a buck fifty I was able to reach my destination.  "Alright, I'm on my way" I thought to myself as I sat down towards the back of the bus.  My excitement grew when the bus began to pull away from the station and take me towards my destination.  Problem was, I wasn't quite sure were to get off.  I asked the gentleman next to me if he knew where I should get off.  Turned out he was Samoan and hadn't a clue.  I asked the two people in front of me, one woman and one man who didn't know each other, if they could help me out.  The woman was quiet, but the man, a middle aged Indo-Fijian, was happy to give me advice: "200 meters passed Novotel."   I didn't know where Novotel was, so I asked him if he could clue me when to pull the cord to let the bus driver know that I wanted to get off.  He was getting off before my destination, so he couldn't quite help me there.  No matter, I decided to just wait until he got off, and then I'd begin looking for the hotel.  I didn't trust myself, so I headed up to the front and asked the bus driver and his attendant if they could help me get off at the right spot; they were happy to help.  The attendant said "TWO MORE!" and I replied "STOPS?"; he nodded.  

Seven stops later I  was told I was where I need to be, and sure enough to the right of the bus was the cement factory.  A policeman exited the bus, I followed him, and made my way towards the cement factory. It was there that I found myself, yet again, at a loss for where to go next.  I looked around; there was no sign.  There was nothing that let me know that I was in the right spot.  Sure there was a mountain near me, but it wasn't alone, there were many other mountains too.  I wasn't sure which one to climb.  I yelled for the policeman, now several hundred meters away from me, in hopes for his knowledge.  He didn't hear me, and continued to walk away.  I tried asked two gentlemen, who where waiting for a bus, if they had any idea where to go.  One said "that way" and mentioned down the road.  I asked if he knew specifically how to get up.  He shook his head, and suggested that I find a local (he appeared to be a local to me).  Since there were no more locals around I proceed "that way."  "That way" didn't seem to be the right way, so I turned around and headed back towards where I came from.  There were two women standing near the spot where I had approached the two gentlemen earlier.  They were no luck.  I then asked a Chinese man (in English) if he had any idea where the path was.  He responded with "I don't know" after several questions.  It very well could've been all that he knew (of English anyway).  After the Chinese man, whom I found a dozen meters away from the women, I headed back to where the women were because in their place now stood two different Fijian guys. Bracing to be let down, I asked them if they knew the way up the mountain.  The taller one looked at me and said, "Yes, and I'll take you there!"

Away we went! Just like that, I had two Fijian guides who were excited to climb the mountain with me.  The taller one introduced himself as Dan.  Bill was the younger one.  Dan was 26, Bill was 19.  They were looking for work at the dock.  Apparently, every now and then, they help load the fishing boats with ice, but today there wasn't any work for them.  My suspicion of their intentions grew when Dan told me that.  Firstly, why would anyone simply agree to take a total stranger the entire way up a mountain on a whim?  Secondly, since they didn't find work, I thought maybe they intended to make a quick buck off of me.  It wouldn't be hard to overpower me in the woods and take my things.  I was on to them, but I let the scenario play out a bit.  Down the road we proceeded towards a Chinese construction site, making small talk along the way.  I guess it wasn't an issue being in a construction zone, even though there were live wires from welding machines everywhere and cranes hoisting large steel objects over our heads.  We smiled at the Chinese workers as we strolled through, and they smiled right back.  After clearing the site, we approached a dirt road that appeared to make its way up the mountain.  Dan suggested that we take a shortcut instead, and motioned for me to follow him through a small path that didn't quite seam to go the right way.  This added to my suspicion even further, and soon after entering the trail I had to declare what was on my mind to them.  I told them that, where I come from, we are told to be weary of strangers, especially ones that would enthusiastically claim to join you for a multi-hour hike up a mountain.  I also told him that I was told that sometimes some Fijians will take advantage of lone hikers; steal their belongings and make a quick buck.  At this, Dan turned around, looked me in the eye, shook my hand, smiled and assured me that there was no funny business here and that we were simply going to enjoy a long hike together.  On paper, this doesn't seem convincing, but the way he said it and the way he laughed at the idea let me relax a little. I decided to trust them, and proceed forward.  Besides, I was much bigger than Bill, and I had my leathermans (which has a knife) if I really got in trouble.

On our merry way we went!  After I expressed my concerns to them, I found it easy to converse and learned a lot about Dan and his background.  He was quite knowledgeable about the animals we stumbled across, and he knew the area well.  There were two streams that had perfectly clear pools which intersected our path.  Turned out that they were suitable to drink from.  I know this, because I'm living proof (going on 36 hours and still no adverse side effects).  Clay, either soft and squishy or hard and slippery, constituted the path.  On the steepest parts of the ascent, roots became nice footholds.  We made good time, only stopped twice, and, after about an hour and a half, we had reached the summit!  

Several meters below the summit someone had pitched a tent, from tarp, and slapped a bed inside.  It looked sturdy, and appeared to have been there for quite awhile.  The summit itself yielded an absolutely stunning view of Suva and of Fiji.  The cement factory, from where we started, seemed several miles away.  We were able to see the entirety of Suva.  Tappo City, and the port were discernible even at such a far distance.  After admiring the view of Suva, I had a look around the entire island and was shocked to realize that I could nearly see the entire thing!  We could see the entire southern part of the island, we could see nearly all of the eastern side, mountains blocked our view of the western side, but to the north we could see the ocean way in the distance!  At that moment did I realize the small size of Fiji, and I couldn't help but feel slightly claustrophobic.  I come form a land of rolling fields and vast forest; I'm not used to being able to see the entirety of the land that I live on.  It was mind blowing.

We enjoyed the food that I packed, and they shared with me different facts about Fiji.  They pointed out Snake Island, Mosquite Island, Kadavu (from where Dan hails), and a Chinese Vessel making its way out of port.  For several hours, we sat there and talked and marveled the view. Eventually, we decided to make our descent.  

Proving their kindness ever more, they waited with me until the bus came.  I was, and still am, blown away by how nice they were to a complete stranger.  How does one quickly and enthusiastically decide to spend an entire day with someone they don't know?  I had a great time, and all credit goes to Dan and Bill.  They have reminded me, yet again, that I am not fully independent and that I can't do everything alone.  Without them, I would've never found the way up the hill.  Without the kind people on the bus, I would've never known where to get off.  There's a saying: "It's not what you know, it's who you know" and it's usually applied to careers.   I, however, feel that it applies quite well to my experience that day; maybe a bit too literally.  I didn't know anything, but I was lucky enough to know people that did.

Dan on the left, and Bill on the right.  I'll never forget these two, or the wonderful experience they gave me.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Summary of Suva

It's been awhile since I've written a thorough post, and I hope this post will end the drought my blog has been experiencing.

Suva has been treating me absolutely wonderfully.  I'd like to shed some light on this.

I was wondering how heading back into dorm life, after escaping it last semester, would treat me.  There are two downfalls that I can think of.  First, there's no oven here.  Second, the campus and dorms are alcohol free.  For the past couple of months I've grown quite accustomed to ordering a beer with every meal, or grabbing a cold beer, each time I visited a store/shop that sells some, to enjoy later.  Last weekend, some international friends threw a pool party and it was BYOB.  "No big deal," I thought to myself "I'll just go to the nearest store (happened to be MH), buy some, then bring it back and store it in the fridge.  It'll be nice and cold by the time the party starts."  I found some 750 ml Fiji Bitters on sale for 3.62 FJD, bought two (which triggered the woman behind the counter to jokingly ask me if two would be enough, to which I cordially replied that I'd be back if I needed more), finished buying groceries, hopped in a taxi, and headed back to USP.  At the gate, I suddenly remembered that I could not have my beers on campus!  As the taxi passed the gate, I quickly pretended to look for my lost change in the seat and, at the same time, shove my bag of beer out of the guard's sight.  I noticed him suspiciously looking at me, and quickly blurted "Bula!", smiled, and wave.  It was probably the most unconvincing "I'm up to no good" reaction I could have given, but before the guard could act the taxi drove away.  As we "taxied" (nice pun, no?) up the road to 10th hall (where I stay), I asked the driver to take me as close as possible to my dorm.  He happily agreed and dropped me off about 20 meters away from the stairs to my flat.  Trotting down to the stairs proved sketchy as well, because, as the bag waved with the cadence of my stride, the bottles clanged loudly. I managed to get to my room without anyone noticing, which was great.  What wasn't so great, though, was that I couldn't store the beer in the fridge.  My flatmates probably wouldn't care, but if my RA were to stroll through and have a gander at the contents of our fridge, I'd be pinned.  So I opted to store the bottles in my backpack, and then slide it under my bed.  The party wasn't for several hours, so by then they'd be quite warm.  I couldn't have executed buying beer for the party any worse.  All that carrying and sneaking would only account for two warm beers. Turned out to be fine, though, because four of us decided to pool our  money together to make jungle juice for the party. The recipe required beer, cold or not. In fact, if you'd like to try it yourself, here's Anthony To's jungle juice recipe:

12 750ml Fiji Bitters
750ml Vodka
about 2 gallons of Juice (we used pineapple juice)
6 or so packets of juice powder (Kook-Aid for example)
half a watermelon, chopped up

Mix it all in a large tub, and have a great time.

The locals are genuinely nice people.  If you smile at them, they'll send a warm smile back at you every time   I'm not so sure we Americans could say the same thing.  Thailand was just as friendly.  After being absorbed in such friendly atmospheres for the past couple of months, it'll be interesting to see how Americans compare when I return home.

Being a minority has been a new and eye opening experience for me.  I, as well as my international counterparts, stick out quite a lot.  Yesterday I mistakenly went to class an hour early.  Some locals in the same class did the same thing, and, knowing that I was in their class, asked me where lecture was being held.  I, obviously, didn't recognize them as being in my class, so I was a bit shocked when they asked me so surely.  It got me thinking a bit.  I was that white guy at class, and everyone knew it.  There's no hiding in a crowd here; I'll always stick out.  It made me ponder how I was perceived by everyone around campus, and it made me believe that, now more than ever, it is important to act appropriately everywhere you go.  If a local where to act in a peculiar way, he/she could assimilate into the crowd and everyone else would just forget.  If I were to act in a peculiar way, I wouldn't have that luxury; they'd remember and label me.

I've been going to the gym quite a lot recently.  It has been about two weeks now, and my body is slowly growing bigger.  Yesterday was slightly embarrassing for me, because I could only bicep curl 6 kilograms.  I did do four sets: 10 reps each.  Even still, it's a bit humiliating.  Now I'm probably that white and weak guy.  No matter, that's why I'm going to the gym: to change that.  In fact, I'm going to head there now.  Anthony isn't feel well so I'm going to have to go by myself.  No problem, he's taught me most of what I need to know to get a good lift in.  Sometimes I wonder what Mr. Streit (a high school teacher of mine) would think if he saw me lifting.  I had always given him, and the rest of the track staff, such a hard time when it came to lifting, because I had absolutely despised it.

Today is Olivia's, an Australian international student, birthday.  We plan on celebrating at O'Reilly's tonight; should be a good time.  Sunday, on the other hand, will probably prove to be terrible.  I can already feel the hangover starting, and I have yet to have a drink.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Status Update

Hello Everyone!

I have only 10 minutes to write this, because I have class at 2:00 pm. Here's a quick report of what's going on in my life.

First of all, let's point out the things I could go without here.  I can only think of one: heat!  It is so hot and humid here! Right now it's 86 degrees with 70% humidity.  There is no breeze, and standing in the sun is difficult.

That's it!

Everything else is absolutely wonderful.  I've been fortunate enough to make quite a few new friends.  We've shared numerous great times together; there are more to come!  My "dorm" isn't much of one, in fact, it's more like an apartment.  I have my own room.  There is a stove, fridge, microwave, sink, table, couches, and tv in the commons area.  I have access to a free washing machine, and the showers are rain showers.  Not too shabby, and it's less than half the price of where I lived last semester: 120 South Randall Ave.

Classes are going to be easy.  I'm going to have so much time to do whatever I want.  I only have one today: Pacific History.

Suva is said to be the New York of the Pacific.  There are endless things to do here!

Supplies have proven to be a bit pricey, but the food costs about the same here as it does at home.

This weekend there will be hiking!

Life is rough.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sunset and Sunrise

In order for a new day to begin, one must end. To land in Fiji, I must leave Thailand. Unfortunately, I cannot be in both places at the same time. I knew the day would come, it was no secret to me, but knowing it wouldn't last forever hasn't made it any easier to accept that this trip through Thailand would, at some point, reach its end. Its mortality troubles me, and it is suffocating my ability to write this post.
Before my find my ability to complete this post utterly stifled and before my raw feelings evade me, I want to be sure I bring to light a very special person whom I've mentioned only briefly in a previous post.  Her name is Kitima Maleehom.  She is responsible for single handily stirring a radical change of heart within me.  Like I had noted in a previous post, she had given Anthony and I an excellent deal on a bungalow which was extended another night.  We paid a fraction of what she usually charged, but this first gesture was only the tip of the iceberg however, and I would soon realize the full extent of her genuine and kind nature.  I believe that typed words are truly incapable of describing Kitima; it would be an injustice to try.  The best way to understand what I'm blabbering about is to meet her personally; I wish this for everyone.  In fact, here are the details you'd need to do so.  The name of her resort is Banyan Bay Vila.  Its address: 292 Moo 2, Sriboya, Nueaklong, Krabi 81130.  Her mobile phone: +66 86 102 5248.  The website:  I may be able to describe properly the experience she bestowed on us verbally, so I'll have to wait to meet you in person to tell you exactly how I feel.  What I can do now, however, is describe the change.  Kitima's personality is shaped to "pay it forward."  Many times during the two short days we spent with her, in the midst of the thousands of thank yous Anthony and I had expressed, she kept reminding us how different the world would be if everyone would adopt the "pay it forward" attitude.  Her degree of "paying it forward," however, was unlike anything I had ever experienced.  Shamefully, I must admit that at the onset of her hospitality, I was a bit apprehensive; I wondered if she was truly genuine.  The proverbial saying "too good to be true" ran through my mind many times during the first couple of hours of our acquaintance.  Soon, though, I realized that she was 100% genuine and had only the purest intentions.  I came to this conclusion (it was further reinforced throughout the duration of our stay) because of her actions. Of which, as stated before, are best expressed verbally.  What she had indirectly helped me realize, in the end, was that I, like most people, approach others with a barrier (that I place) between me and them.  I speculate who they are as a person, what their intentions, and whether or not they are genuine long before it is appropriate. This barrier is has an equally ugly cousin which goes by the name First Impression.  These barriers are grotesquely unfair and limit an infinite amount of opportunities for each and every one of us.  I also use this barrier to give myself the impression that I am completely independent person, and that I can make things happen solely by myself and with little to no help from others.  Because of this barrier, I have (and always have had) troubles accepting help from others in whatever form it may be.  I stumble, for example, to graciously accept the groceries my parents so generously provide me.  There are no insinuations when it comes to parents buying groceries for their children. It is solely their duty they happily recognized and happily accepted when I came into this world: to feed me and help me grow as a person.  My delusion of independence began to secede when I realize that no matter how hard I planned this trip, no matter how much I read, no matter how much time I invested, there was absolutely no way I could have experienced what I experienced during my stay with Kitima solely by my own efforts.  It was her, not me, that deserves all the credit for such a wonderful time.  My independent efforts had nothing to do with it.

The best course of action now, for me, is to keep honing the new found ideas and better myself as a person. I challenge you to join me in letting your guard down a little, and (if comfortable) maybe get rid of it completely, and let life happen.  It worked well for me, and I'm betting it will be the same for you.

I end this post with higher spirits then when I started.  I have written down how I feel, and because of that I can now fully recognize it and return to it whenever I feel I'm misguiding myself.

For me, Thailand's sun is setting and it's nearly dusk.  Its dusk, though, will allow for a new dawn which will give birth to a new Fijian sun soon.

I've only started.

Anthony, Kitima, and I on the deck/sitting area of her wonderful restaurant