“for what it is”

Excitement often follows suit after a good trip away and often we catch ourselves saying, “I really enjoyed  (insert geographical location here), I just love being there, the feeling I get while I was there”. Until a close friend comes around and says, “shut up about the love for a place you just traveled to”, with a smirk, “you just haven’t been to too many places yet”. Truth is, there is a lot of clarity in that.

People are afraid of commitment, people are afraid of uncertainty. Most settle with the comfortable lifestyle and operate with 50 miles of their hood, and many settles for the sense of safety and the comfort within the for sure certainty. Until they put themselves in a place thousands of miles away in a foreign country surrounded by words spoken in a language that brings to similarity and sweating from pure adrenaline alone.

People travel for many reasons, and if you are like me…. you get more excited about food than anything else while you are on the road. Since we are on the subject of food, I truly think it does more than just filling up your empty stomach and provide you the calories needed to keep yourself standing. It is a feeling associated with emotions, a deep emotion that is derived from memories, some, distant memories that have been… forgotten.

Take this bowl of beef noodles, by the looks of it, it is quite… insignificant. Most would say that it is just an average looking bowl of noodles, perhaps average tasting. No surprise here. To a certain extent, yes. But allow me to share with you this story.

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It is 9:07 pm, after 14 hours of work, my buddy who was also the lead for the project that I was working on over the summer, looked at me and said, “bro, time for dinner”.

“oh yeah?”, I was stoked, “bro, hit me with the best shit in town”.

“Dude, don’t worry, I got you”, he smirked back at me, “you’ll get to try the best noodle on this side of the world”.

I held him to his promised as we locked up the store and walked towards a white Volkswagen cross-over, filled with dents on the side doors because his ass can’t drive for shit.

As we are pumping some then really popular song and dancing away like two idiots in a pot, we slowly made our way out of the financial center and towards the outskirts of town.

From tall fancy brick buildings to mid-sized commercial halls, then to single tiered street side dwellings and back on to the busy main street of this town tucked away on the east side. People jam packed the streets, filled with puddles of wet dirty water, used napkins, plastic wrappers and old cigarette butts.

“Bro, prepare for some good shit”, as my buddy parked randomly on to the side of the street with the car’s ass sticking out onto an exit pathway, but you know, it’s China so no one gave a shit. Really. “Let’s go, it’s here”.

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To me, this type of experience has only been on TV screens, where peeps get down and dirty with the locals and truly experience the culture. When I put my foot down out of the car and into the dirty smelly streets of this side of town, I was fucking stoked.

We made our way into a narrow room within a building, there placed a couple of wooden cheap tables and chairs, and a line of locals waiting for a bowl of noodles. There a lady stands, yelling out “what do you want” in Mandarin while flipping her hair back with her fingers, which will make most germaphobe to nuts, but I didn’t care, I like the atmosphere. She was so chill, and… sweaty just like her man standing behind her.

Bowls of noodle with broth and plates of cold cut beef with green onions are ready for pick up soon after my bud figured out the payment issue. Apparently, they don’t take Alipay, wild. HA!

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Picked up a spoon, and sipped some broth, piping hot and filled with MSG. Hmmm, that local taste that you can’t duplicate. Threw in the plate of beef and green onions then dumped in some table side chili paste that a fly probably took a shit on, mixed that bowl up and it was borderline magical. 

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You know, at times it is not entirely about what you shove into your mouth, but where you are and who you are with. This perhaps average bowl of beef noodles won’t make it onto anybody’s page if it was served in your local Chinese restaurant somewhere in a shithole in DTLA, but the fact that it was in a back alley-way filled with trash and the smell of wet dirt and car exhausts, made it a whole different experience.

“Bro, tell me if this is not one of the best bowls of noodles”.

“Bro.”, I chewed with my mouth open.

I wasn’t being untruthful. It was for real. 

Needless to say, almost everything comes at a cost. Whether you exchange an item, or your spend your time working exchange for what you want. In this case, the satisfaction of the experience came at a cost – some out-of-bounds intense diarrhea.

It was all because of I got skewered.

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Note to self, when traveling, be mindful of the cleanliness and bacteria level of the food and water locally. If someone like me who is traveling to China for the first time in 13 years, perhaps a city center McDonald’s might’ve been the better choice.

But… nooo…. I had to jump into the experience. I also 1/2 blame my buddy for this dick move. But fuck, it was a great meal, and now a great story make.

The point is, travel when you can. The road more traveled, put things in perspective. For someone like me, great stories are always better than a Brand New Fararri. 

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Perspective

Rather you believe in it or not, I do think Horoscope at time is ridiculously accurate describing a person’s behaviors and personalities. With me being cancer, apparently I’m more likely to believe is this bullshit, but hey, shit is entertaining.

As a cancer, being sentimental and emotional is up in neon EDC styled lights and lasers, like omfg-ly true. For most of us, home is where the heart is, home is where the fun is, home is where the tears fall,  and home is where all the binge eating and drink happens. Never had strong thoughts of going anywhere far, anywhere new, and anywhere fun, and most of the trips were circumstances and was forced to be taken.

We can literally spend two weeks inside the house and not see a single person, well, the pizza delivery boys do not count, and sometimes 3 cases of Shin Ramen will do.

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I recently lead a international study group to Italy, the funny thing is that as a cancer, I’m suppose to stress over it then fall deeper and deeper into a emotional limbo about how, when, where, why, and what the fuck was I suppose to do. Instead, I felt calm and collected, as if the sky can fall down and shit will still be okay. The trip turned out to be more than splendid as our group ventured from city to city, sure there were problems but the pros definitely outweighed the cons.

As I sit on the street of Florence, left hand holding a sandwich, right hand shaking a can of coke, the world seemed to calm and things seemed so effortless. As the gentle breeze roams through, my mind drifted away unconsciously as if nothing mattered and as it is slowly goes blank – much like fishing.

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Life now is not about how high you can climb, how rich you can get, sure having mega-billions of dollars could make A LOT of things come true, in fact, a lot of money is pretty… good. BUT realistically speaking, I’d rather be in a country side, grow my own food, dig my own water, instead of being wrapped in all the judgement, politics and frustrations. Well, as long it as WIFI, AC and no bugs.

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A pair of shoes, can take you anywhere, accept who you are and what you are given. Count your blessings, my grandmother would say.

It is a matter of perspective.