Gift of GPS

gps1Imagine going to a country that one hasn’t been before, not knowing anyone, not speaking the language, or even a place to stay, that is how hopeless I felt when I had lost my phone abroad.

A smartphone is one of the best ways to navigate the world, and without it most travelers would be in limbo. As soon as my phone was stolen, I felt a heavy burden on me; yes I would have been fine had I been in a country where I knew the local language, and therefore could ask people to aid me. The smartphone was my only companion as a solo traveler, guiding me across the vast world.

A smartphone is one of the best ways to navigate the world.

I was never keen on buying a smartphone, until I was on a tour and a passenger sitting beside me was using the gps, to navigate to his destination. It was extremely helpful for not only him but also to me, as I knew exactly where to go with pinpoint accuracy.

Without gps technology, I wouldn’t have been able to find a place to stay that is walking distance to the beach, touring nearby places, restaurants, finding the quickest route to my destination, and dozens of other stuff that was so helpful to my during my stay. I would have been stuck in a forest with wild elephants for the whole night if it wasn’t for gps !

As I had written before about the dangers of technology creeping in, again it depends on the context of the situation, we can use these wonderful tools to enrich our lives or we can use it to create ‘the matrix’. It is people rather than the tools that will determine the outcome. My greatest fear is people will not utilize the full potential of our wonderful tools to create a better society.

It is people rather than the tools that will determine the outcome.

Bali Biking

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Smooth open roads, stunning scenery, the bright sunshine scorching the skin, and the light breeze tilts the head as the scooter zooms by, these are my favorite memories of being in Bali.

Most people use scooters, rather than motorcycles, scooters are much more relaxing to ride around, and is even suitable in harsh terrains. Bali has excellent quality roads, in majority of it’s cities, there are problems only in very rural parts of the town, or in remote locations such as in mountains. I have had the unfortunate experience of being a novice rider and ended up having an accident, with a scar on my right side of the face.

Everyone rides a scooter here, from kids going to school, to the office workers, even farmers use it to transport their cargo. It’s like the scooter is part of the Indonesian people’s culture, it’s where man and machine coexist peacefully.

Having no extensive public transport system, means the scooter is a necessity rather than a luxury. Roads are free with no hassle and traffic, people are laid back, most tourists rent bikes and tour around, if you don’t know how to bike this is the best place to learn.

Back Home

It’s been almost two months, travelling to different continents, crossing the oceans, seeing whales, living in quite mountains, observing nature, culture, meeting amazing people, eating delicious food, checking out of hotels, flights and airports and finally arriving back home.

A home that I no longer wanted to call it, but due to family circumstances had to come back to this shit-hole, this crowded city, garbage infrastructure, selfish people. It’s been a while since I had any access to a computer, where I could sit and right about my thoughts.

Ever since my journey started I could barely stop and think about what to write, I don’t use smartphones to write blogs, it’s not for me. I could write thousands of blog posts about my experiences abroad, however I wanted to see what it is like to stay away from a pc, but not a smartphone. Technology is not the issue here, without technology I wouldn’t have been able to cross oceans, go to amazing places, rather technology is the driving force that allows me to explore the world.

My travel itinerary would have been longer, much longer but family issues had bought me back; on the other hand, carrying a heavy backpack, finding hotels, eating out was taking a toll so I wanted to take a break and plan my journeys better.

As soon as I step into the matrix, shit storm begins, and I will be writing about this later on, both my body and mind has taken it’s toll. I am glad that you as a reader of this blog has stayed with me, and I hope to explore our deepest philosophical questions, our culture, our society with you.

Finding Meaning

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uncharteredbackpacker.com

In mid-afternoon, the air dry the sun smoking up any traces of water, eerily silence ensues as people stop buzzing around for a lunch break. Railway tracks, beaming in the heat, it’s surface as hot as a pan, I can see him from another railway crossing, his bright skin attracting the attention of other kids. Mindlessly walking along the rail tracks, the filth and smell didn’t bother him, walking with no clear purpose, physically tired, his eyes looking for answers, avoiding questions the kids were asking him, he looked similar to the picture above.

One of the last places you could ever think that a foreigner would go to, especially walking along the filthy rail tracks, for long distances, to pass time. A quick tour to any part of western europe and north america will give you the answer, people there are living meaningless lives. That’s why you can find them hoping from one place to another, like gypsies, staying in peculiar places that even locals don’t go, doing things that others wouldn’t expect, they are looking for meaning.

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jules.de.com

From the safety of their comfortable home, where they can be sipping coffee, driving suv’s and going to the latest shopping mall, yet these women are getting their hands dirty in south asia. So you have to ask the question, why someone from the ‘modern’ civilization be toiling under the heat ? This answer can only be told my ‘natives’ people who had evolved and adapted to their surrounding, testing and experimenting ways of life that works.

Anthropologist Dr. Joseph Tainter offers to explain this as well, complexity is what drives society to collapse. The west are in a civilization collapse, because of civilization itself, without complexity there is no ‘modern’ civilization, and the increased sophistication from technology, architecture, government, corporations, laws, affects the social dynamics and lifestyle.

“We need a society in which market incentives play less of a role in people’s lives, where people can find happiness in things other than material consumption.” Dr. Joseph Tainter

Hunter gatherer societies have a dozen social personality, whereas modern civilization has over 20 thousand occupations, these increased level of social hierarchy is bound to collapse. Increased commercialization, technological tools in other parts of the globe, hold similar outcomes, the key is can the world learn from the mistakes of the west, or will they succumb to the selfishness of the human desire.

Leadership example

He is a colorful character, trying to fix the mess in his country. The US empire goes to specific countries to issue their moral high ground to others. Obviously the Philippines president has had enough of being lectured to be a puppet leader for the west, and snapped by calling Obama names.

If only, there were more leaders like Rodrigo Duterte in the east, people who have the balls, to stand up to globalists. The Philippines has loads of issues, poverty, crime and drugs, drugs is more severe in that part of the world. Now, one can debate the actual tactics that are being used to deal with drug users, however one needs to keep in mind that each country, culture, and structure differs from one another.

One will never hear the abuse being committed in MENA region from the western empire, having Saudi Arabia in the UN human rights commission is a joke, as the western civilization depends on petroleum and will turn a blind eye to their activities. For other countries they always like to control them by keeping a puppet, or threaten them with military action, and aid.

The game has changed, with more superpowers rising in the east, the same tactics the west had used will no longer work. Rodrigo Duterte is proving himself to be a shrewd diplomat, standing up for what he believes in and maneuvering his policy to get necessary support. Other cowards need to take notice and learn to lead.

Travel: Voluntourism

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guadangmyart.blogspot.co.id

Most volunteer opportunities always involve teaching, it’s usually tourists from the west, travelling to ‘exotic’ locations and teaching locals, who don’t have access to schools, resources and teachers. Whether these projects are effective at all, considering they are only short-term stints, depends on the kind of project, the resources, intentions and lastly the teachers.

There are almost none or very few exception of volunteering for ‘free’, even teaching at these locations require some form of ‘donation’ to institutions, however it may be a good deal, as the accommodation and food costs will be far less than staying in a luxury villa.

Research projects that I had seen online, are one of the worst offenders of making people work and charging excess fees. These projects are mostly animal related, it involves statistics, field work, collecting specimens, so a lot of adventure hence they are very popular among tourists. Although there are some good organizations, majority of them are just ‘cash cows’. They want excessive fees from volunteers, by saying they need cash for saving endangered species all the while having dozens of Lexus.

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‘Voluntourism’ has become a huge industry, thanks to the appetite of the westerners, eager to travel to exotic locations, putting their moral high ground to others, just to take a selfie with local kids in the background. Organizations which used to provide free food and stay has turned into a tourism industry.

 

Red Tape

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Looking at the passport index of the list countries I can go to, is extremely limited. There is probably a dozen countries that lists port entry for our country, the rest needs to be applied through official procedures. Just having the thought of going through ‘red tape’ is enough to put me off.

My earliest experience of going through ‘red tape’ was when we applied for US immigration. I was in primary school, wondering why all those people are waiting in line for hours, when they got their visa they looked as if they won the lottery. However, when they arrived on the other side of the continent, their core belief was broken, all those months of standing on gravel, going through hundreds of security checks inside the embassy, filling out thousands of forms, waiting in a room with bright fluorescent lighting, seeing morbidly obese foreign officials, and then to put their foot on the ground, reality hits them in the face.

I came across several countries, that I never thought would have allowed ‘visa free access’, most of them are in Micronesia, Caribbean islands, Barbados. All these countries are very far, but they look incredible, most of them offer several months to stay. It’s countries where our citizens won’t usually go, there is no point going to carribean islands, because there isn’t any economic opportunity, if there was I can assure you the islands will be overrun.

Maybe that’s the best place to go, where people are not there in hordes, where the society doesn’t run like a factory, where one can relax with happy people. However just to go that far, is going to cost me a fortune, and there is no direct flight, I have to apply for transit visa, that’s the catch to enter paradise.

Life-Hack self-checkout

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Note : one can easily get into trouble or those who are uncomfortable in these activities, don’t take part in this life-hack. I found out that this is more of a technical problem for self-checkouts, so even if you are breaking the law, you can point out the technical aspect of the machines that allows it to happen.

With self checkouts, there is actually no employee there to oversee the shopping process, only you and the computer interact with one another. You can ‘fool’ the machines in several ways, the easiest one is taking items with no bar-codes, the machine detects items when it is placed on the scanner, which also acts as a weighing scale, however it cannot detect the ‘type’ of item, when someone puts an apple or orange it cannot distinguish, remember it’s just a machine. One can easily place an item and choose a different pricing, so placing a dozen freshly baked breads, but paying for one croissant can be done, due to it’s own technical failure !

Another quick way of hacking the checkout is, if one scans one item, then proceeds to pay, during the payment processing it’s other sensors are not active, one can easily put several more items on the bag. Then there are glitches in the system, so for e.g. if an item has a discount or offers, repeatedly selecting the item would reduce the actual price to only 10% of the value, this depends on the glitch of the system. These are more of a technical problem, which one can easily get away with.

There is the morality aspect of this issue, people who are religious voluntarily follow the rules, which makes the market function . Let’s take a look at the whole picture, the self-checkout machines have replaced workers, due to cost benefit ratio. Each workers average annual salary is ($15,000) one machine roughly costs ($3,000) that’s a 80% savings in cost. If supermarkets implemented self-checkouts throughout all the chains, it would save the company 80% in employee operating cost, which leads to job loss. The moral issue doesn’t apply to companies, their main goal is to increase shareholder earnings.

Automation is likely to take up plenty of jobs, most of them are in ‘blue collar’ sectors, like manufacturing, services, for now a basic income looks like a solution. In the meantime if you don’t like automation, just showcase the errors of the machines by using the simple life-hacks.

Minimalism buying

ibm

As I stayed with other foreign students, most of them had plenty of ‘indoor’ entertainment, large tv, music system, phones, and computer. I didn’t need so many of the stuff, but I needed a computer, and asked my roommate how much his pc cost, he replied 40 pounds (no pound symbol in my keyboard), I was shocked. In a european developed country a pc costs the same as in a developing one, but he told me that’s it’s refurbished pc. It was a ‘used’ dell pc, I was surprised that it was still running faster than any new pc. Most of them bought used stuff from shops at a price one-third the cost of a new one.

My budget was very low, and coming from south asia to a european city which is regarded as one of the most expensive city in the world, I had no choice but to put my bet on buying refurbished goods. I had some experience and knowledge in dealing with pc’s, looking up online to find a computers, I came across a IBM pc, I called up the guy who was going to sell and met him at his place. He was from south africa, and he was leaving so he had a lot of items to sell, I checked the ibm machine, and everything looked good, and paid him 60 pounds. A new computer would have cost me at least 300 pounds, I bought a tough reliable computer for only 20% of the value, and it was much faster than any new machine I used before.

I wouldn’t recommend buying stuff from others,  if one doesn’t have any idea about it. Someone who never opened up a computer it’s best to avoid it. In the same way, if one doesn’t know about cars, engine, and maintenance it’s better to avoid buying cars from other people. It’s quintessential to ALWAYS check the product before you pay, because there is no warranty, I heard some pretty funny stories when buyers didn’t check the product. If you don’t know about the product just take someone with you who has expertise. These are all ‘negotiations’ that one has to do in the market, and only instinct, experience, and knowledge can get you through, but if you do know how to buy ‘used’ goods it will definitely ease up the wallet.

River view

Far from #citylife outing in #river

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A family on the boat ride, umbrella used to shelter the bright sunshine, the colorful clothes dancing with the river,  connecting one part of the city to another, the river is the quickest and easiest route to take, the boat an early built vessel.

I decided to explore one part of the city, that was not always the easiest to get to, because concrete and asphalt haven’t yet plundered the place. The smell of asphalt is intoxicating to conquerors, and finally found it’s way to the village. It’s only about 10 miles from here, and didn’t take me long to reach.

As I went to the bridge built out of bamboo sticks, a tool used for so many centuries in this part of the world, one can ‘feel’ the structure as one get’s on it. The view diverged to several paths, each connecting one another, but the view was green, quiet, peaceful it’s as if I was taken to another part of the world. A world, that may cease to exist for conquerors are doing everything they can, to make a world of asphalt devoid of any culture, tradition, and life.