BIKESBIKESBIKESSSS! Bike tech, the “Ideal” bike, tool tips, how to save money or make it with bikes, durability and more. Podcast 0007

A longer podcast in which I give tips and my view on the “ideal” do-it-all, durable, affordable, low maintenance, least theft prone bike. Most basic tools needed to start fixing or making your own bike. How to successfully flip bikes and top tips for the best sites and people to learn bike tech from. Mentions of Sheldon brown, world touring, small wheel vs speed debate, Brooks saddles, hand building wheels and a whole lot more.

Click on the pics above to expand them and get an idea of my ‘ideal’ bike before and after making it all purpose and making it inconspicuous/uglier (reversible).

Below, my bike workshop with free heating, WiFi and music, love that place:

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A plethora of tools, nice but not needed:

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The Saint Sheldon Brown on that Sticker behind the spider:

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You need about a fifth of the tools in the cabinet to fix your own ride:

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Film, my long love affair with the medium. Podcast 0006

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Film has been a huge part of my life (and then sometimes a smaller part) for as long as I can remember. Today I talk about many aspects of film, the film industry, directors and films I rate, how my tastes have changed over the years, the ideal way to enjoy a film for myself as well as how films have molded and been a very big part of my most key relationships.

 

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Anonymous, 4Chan, Hacktivism, Memes, Basement Dwellers, Internet freedom and culture. Podcast 0005

Explaining what 4Chan and Anonymous are and how they actually drive a huge part of the internet in terms of activism, debate, memes and being instrumental in the fight against a closed, commercialized internet, Scientology, ISIS and more. Also a brief aside of how close I got to being a perma-virgin, live-at-home-with-parents-into-middle-age basement dweller.

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Houseshares, cleaning, motivation why notes are bad and a non schedule, schedule is good. Podcast 0004

A short podcast about my 20+ year experience with cleaning in houseshares, what does not work and what does in terms of people, preferences, schedules, notes and the lack of these things.

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On regrets and lack of them, Childfree, Social Justice Warriors, Feminism, and Lifestyles. Podcast 0003a & b

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Podcast in two shortish files about non-conventional life choices, regrets or the lack thereof. Dont know why the first minute is skipping. Content touches a bit on the problem with US Social Justice Warrior and US Hardline Feminism, Childfree living, taking stock of what you were doing yesterday, month ago, a year and projecting in future and so on.OFFENSIVE

Podcasting, Bike & Food Coops, SciFi/fiction, The Watchmen, Fantasy. Podcast 0002

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Talking about why i podcast (for myself), my podcasting history in brief, bike coops and (Anarchist/Vegan) coops, what is amazing about them and what is less so. Why SciFi, Fantasy and graphical novels can be amazing literature and also lead to unique thoughts and to self reflection and a few other topics in this short podcast.

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Found password, experiment… Posting first short podcast I ever recorded. 0001

podcast_15617Weird. I did not feel like posting for a months or two in 2013. Then, for some reason I could not log into my blog, despite being really rather sure I had not messed up the password. Today I try,.. and I can suddenly log in, great! Back when I posted weekly, my mom, Vincere and perhaps 1 or 2 others would read my posts, which was fine by me, it was always primarily for myself that I posted. Very therapeutic and fun to do. Who knows, maybe I will pick this back up. Maybe not. I record a lot of podcasts these days. Also mostly for myself. I would totally put them online but they seem to be much harder to host, upload and post than a Blogpost, which makes sense, but I am going to see if I can link to my podcasts here, and hosting them for free on Archive.org. ūüôā

Neon Nights, Buckets of Booze, Girls, motorbikes and Tropical Paradise

08-01-2013 
 

I leave Amsterdam on the evening of January seventh and was supposed to arrive in Bangkok on the¬†eighth. Right when we are to board at our stopover, Vienna, the stewardess announces over the P.A.: “I need volunteers as we have overbooked the flight. We can offer a free stay in a 4 **** Hotel, a flight tomorrow morning, dinner voucher, breakfast and E 600,-, cash…”. At first i thought that last bit couldn’t be right. Nonetheless i jumped on it and went right to the counter. Half an hour later i am sitting in the Hotel bar having free Weisbier with my new friend -and fellow volunteer- Ian.
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A retired Scottish cop he is a great guy and we have a good laugh about our great fortune while we chat to bar staff.

 
The room is amazing.
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Next morning the breakfast buffet is among the best and most varied i have seen. Take some¬†yogurt¬†for in the plane. The new flight is with Thai Airlines rather than Austrian. Very luxurious and i sit next to a retired German couple who are super nice. Watch a couple of movies i wanted to see for a long while. Don’t really sleep. There is this tall girl sitting next to me in the Airplane. She looks over a couple of times. Right after we disembark i introduce myself. Such a coincidence. Turns out Jocelyn is German, moved to the Netherlands and spend the last four years living about 300 meters from my house, though we never met before. I am beat from the airplane trip but it is great to have cool company.
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We have a great chat and decide to share a cab from airport to center together. We go to the largest mall in Thailand. She needed some slippers and the mall is quite fascinating as they sell everything. From massive wardrobes to counterfeit A tier branded t-shirts for next to nothing. We have a great dinner at a nice restaurant. She also shows me her fancy hotel.
 
Later i buy a map, catch the first Tuk Tuk in my life, exhilarating, though i could see why others would find them terrifying.
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Head out to my rather distant Hostel. “The Overstay” is a few kilometers from the real downtown which offers many advantages.
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The neighborhood is non touristy. Almost all prices are Thai tier… The Hostel is massive less than five Euros a night gets you a big private room with a lock, fan, double bed. Half the price if you don’t mind a big dorm. The place features a huge roof terrace, pool table, many comfy couches, super cheap big bar with a full back line (anyone is allowed to play the Guitar, Bass, Drum kit and Technics turntables any time as well as use the Art space and supplies on the first floor. The place is covered with amazing graffiti and street art style murals, there are parties and jam sessions on often. Everything you could ever want is very close by, amazing curb side stir fried meals.2012-11-01_BKKKhaoSanetc 013
The setting reminds me of “Bladerunner”.
There is such a sense of possibility, street life, activity neon lights, wonderful smells, mopeds and motorbikes everywhere, stray dogs and cats and extremely kind and helpful locals.
 
Khao San Road is a half an hour walk or very short taxi ride away..
 
Some of the reviews i read included the following choice words:
 
“Oh – my – god! I have quite honestly never seen anything like it. My husband and I arrived late at night after searching for hours for the place. We had just arrived in Bangkok, but being seasoned travellers we know what to expect from a budget hostel. However, on my life, I never expected this!”¬†
“We walked up a few flights of stairs, in near darkness and a flurry of cockroaches, to our room. The door barely closed never mind locked, and the walls were covered in graffiti.¬†I ventured to the floor below to check out the shared bathroom. This was the deciding factor for us to go and find somewhere else to stay. The walls in the bathroom were covered in years of grime, the toilet was disgusting and didn’t even work, there was a strange plastic tub filled with dank water and soapscum, the electric shower was hanging off the wall and was clearly unused and there was rubbish everywhere!¬†
“So, unless you’re in the habit of drinking into oblivion, avoid this place at all cost.”
 
“The dismal bar area downstairs surrounded by cats that looked ferrel and disease ridden, who proceeded to rip holes in our bags!”
 
“Graffiti on the walls that was vile enough to cause nightmares and people sleeping outside on the corridors! The bathroom had no door handle, no shower curtain and hadn’t been cleaned any time in the last decade! We had originally booked to stay for 3 nights but left after the first!”¬†
 
“The only positive about this place was that we survived the night! Not recommended to anyone who has any ounce of self worth! Vile!”¬†
 
 
Yet, i loved it and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Perspective, expectations and previous experience make the difference. 2013-01-14_BKK_FoodMore 022
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The international crowd here is super kind, open, musical and artistic and the hostel is run by the people who live there as well. Very often someone will come to stay for a few days and will find themselves hired as part of the¬†bar staff¬†almost right away. This means there is a true sense of community in the place. Some people have been her for more than half a year…! I would never call the double bed in my private room clean, but i wash the sheet and with my silk sleeping sack, the fan, some earplugs, free wi-fi and common sense it is all i could want and nothing i don’t need. 2013-01-14_BKK_FoodMore 027I have met everyone from a German guy -Simon- that jammed and sang with me while i played guitar and he the Ukelee to a cute gal my age who asked for a back rub half an hour after meeting her, to a guy who looks like a mystic with very long Dreads and an Orange robe that proceeds to do the most limber yoga all the time not bothering anyone. I can’t say too much about it, don’t want anyone in trouble, but bud is in full effect. I have played more instruments and with more people here than i have in a long time at home.¬†
 
11-01-2013
 
Wild night on Khao San Road. Believe the Hype. It is as mad as they say. It is funny that always meet Dutch girls wherever i go, it has been a theme on my vacations since i was fifteen. Well except for the ladyboys and my mates of course,.. they are neither dutch nor girls.
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It was a blast! We hit up three clubs, none of them had cover charge and they had great PA systems, lights, C02 cannons and international crowds. We bought very little alcohol at actual clubs. Instead we hit up the 7-11 on the way there. A bottle of San Som Whiskey, a big bottle of Coke and three cups filled with ice for what two drinks cost back home and we were set for a long time. We met a bunch of interesting people and had great laugh. Dancing, chatting for hours and so on. Of course there were plenty of hawkers, “proppers” and scammy salespeople approaching us but the phrase “Mai Auw Kap” (Do Not Want, thanks) and a particular local hand gesture gets your message across clearly yet politely.
 
Every kind of entertainment is available on Khao San. Girls (the backpackers more so than locals) were very frisky. The only hairy moment was when a Swedish blond started dancing very suggestively and close to me. This went on for some minutes and she came over to me twice. However, her two big guy friends (it was pretty obvious neither was here boyfriend) got very pissed at that for some reason. They started pointing at me and gesturing angrily, strongly suggesting they were going to cross the five meters and try and kick my ass. The girl kinda laughed at them, flashed me a naughty smile and tried to calm them down. I just stood there, ready, waiting for whatever outcome. On the one hand i felt i had done nothing wrong and thought i would go at in self defense if they insisted on it. But much more than that i thought.. ‘This is Bangkok, if i fight, even if i “win”, ¬†i lose. This type of things always ends up in a Police cell and both Falangs have to pay a big fine before they are let out.’ Not my idea of a good end to a great night. Luckily it all panned out okay. They decided to back off.
 
Another wild night at the Overstay. There is a party with three bands, one Ska, One Americana and the last plays loud and inspired, improvisational Space Blues/Jazz Rock. The
drummer is amazing. One of the most energetic, experimental i have ever seen with perfect timing. He also looks exactly like a Thai version of ‘Animal’/Guy Tavarres except he wears a floral granny dress while playing. Fun guy! When their set is done, he still wants to play. I step up. Playing bass, guitar and even drumming and singing. A few others join us for some song. We play For about three hours! Guests at the Overstay love it, they won’t let us stop for a long time a w nd are dancing. The drummer and I vibe well, he is a great guy. We write down e-mails so we can hopefully Jam again at some other club. The Australian girl that works the Overstay bar asks me for my number so that she can have me come and play next time they have another open stage night. I will be back to the Overstay, it is not the best place to get a good nights sleep but there are very few other places where you can feel so welcomed and meet so many nice people so fast.
 
Before i came to Bangkok i messaged with Rachel. She is twenty four, from California but lives in Thailand where she works for and on the most famous and best map for non thai people: 
 
We go window shopping, she shows me a famous shrine, we talk about a multitude of topics and she introduces me to all kinds of new foods like Thai style omelets, fresh juices from fruits i have never even seen in real life before, Coconut juice drank from a fresh coconut and the she invites me to her house for a film. We have a lot of fun and agree to meet up again. The next time we meet is in Lumpini Park. It is beautiful there and they have massive monitor lizards running around! There are people doing all kinds of sports, from Tai Chi to running and there is a big open air free weights gym. The guys there are very buff, when i got time i think i am going there to hit some weights, why not!
 
I Couchsurf at Goy’s house. Goy is a pillar of the local couch surf community. She tends to host between four and eight people at any one time. Attends many meeting and is always keen to show her guest many of the unique sides of her city. The first night there she takes me and a couple into the most infamous shanty town in Bangkok. Some of the locals have moved back into a burned out shell of a large concrete apartment building. Yet this is in many ways the nicest place i have been to in Bangkok. There are colorfull lights everywhere. Underneath the very long burned out apartment building there is a equally long arcade. Here the locals have a little shrine, play chess and go daily, do Tai Chi and Aerobics, eat together at many stalls, have a magazine and book library, in short,.. more of that true community which many major western cities now seem to lack. While we saunter along the many little and larger streets the inhabitants are very curious. They smile and laugh at us and ask Goy where we are from. Almost no “Falang” ever venture here, they are too scared. We joke around with a man and a women that sell very black/dark moonshine whiskey from oversized glass pots. I buy one and down it in one swig. After that the woman takes an instant shine (she is quite drunk) to me and she and the man ask me if i like her and start jokingly propositioning me. I joke back that i could never keep up with her. A little later we get ourselves homemade Sodas from another stall. They have everything from Cream Soda to Raspberry lime flavors, it tastes great in the heat. We walk for a kilometer of more in this shanty town, then we sit down and i share the first hot pot i have ever eaten. Very, very good. Goy is like myself a fight sport afficionado, she loves UFC and Muay Thai. We agree to go to Lumpini when i get back. I love what she is doing so i both clean as well as declog the toilet during my two night stay and give her and her Chinese mother a glowing review. Goy would even feed us dinner and she introduced to my now favorite and new to me fruit, Mangosteens! I came to South East Asia wit the mindset that i would try almost anything once, i am so glad i did!
 
22-01-2013
 
A day that started out with intent of only having lunch with Rachel and picking up my Sleeper train ticket for Ko Phag Nan ended up amazing. Made a new instant French friend Alexander, explored an entirely new parts of the city including a beautiful park, a ride on the river and some totally new food, markets, dark alleys and piers.
 
After some hours we ended up on Kao San Road and said our goodbyes, agreeing to hang out again when we both return to Bangkok in some weeks. Ten minutes later i walk into a Hostel (checking them out for when i return from Island hop) and run into some couchsurfers i had surfed with at Goy’s a week prior. I spot a young, slender blonde girl with really long hair, beautiful teeth. 2013-01-23_BKK 028
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She looks a bit sleepy and bored. Sit down with a drink. Ask he how she feels about the Hostel, which seems shady and rather dirty. CeEElene says it is. We decide to explore together. Meet two young german girls, one of them called ………. talks as if she is a total nympho in Bangkok to plumb the depths of depravity. She excitedly talks about some very special ‘shows’ she has attended, both funny and crazy. We exchange Facebook details and I promise to try and meet them at Ko Phag Nan Full Moon party.¬†Afterwards Celine and I¬†go to the massive MBK market/mall, ¬†joke around a lot about getting engaged, talk about many things, try to find shoes for her and a Fake Rolexes as a present for my brother. After these¬†few ‘instant dates’,¬†we go to my Hostel. We only get halfway through “Moonrise Kingdom” on my bed. Celine sleeps over. It is a very memorable night. She leaves a hair pin. I keep it. She has to leave very early in the morning as she is going to Laos. But we might cross paths again in Bangkok in some weeks. Or not, nobody really plans much in South East Asia and that is a beautiful thing in many ways. When i wake in the afternoon i watch the last half of ‘Moonrise’ alone. I adore the film, i had no idea but it is a supremely romantic film.¬†I cry. In a the best of ways.
 
24-01-2013
 
I am increasingly feeling a bit like Hunter S. Thompson. I so translation work, have wild nights and life affirming moments, drink then write (not anywhere near the level of Thompson) about my experiences. The night starts at a restaurant with a party of five and ends with a very late night at Sam Wong’s bar. Some of the people there are truly intelligent, we talked about religion, working in Bangkok. liberalism, how to live and treat your fellow man and more besides. 2013-01-20_BKK_Wongs 010

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The Johnny walker Red label flowed liberally and Wong was in such high spirits that he kept slapping my back and hugging us all. He also gave me three free Whiskey’s. I made four new friends, exchanged details and all of us played Jenga and MegaJenga together which is a blast when you are¬†liquored¬†up. Despite my¬†inebriation¬†i didn’t lose once. By six in the morning there were about nine gay guys and three French girls there. One really wanted to dance, so i led her to the dance floor. She was,.. well,.. very French. Tiny black dress, beautiful smile, great figure, voluminous black bob haircut and a very good and sensual dancer. We communicated a lot but barely in words. I did manage to get her name right before they suddenly had to leave since they worked in the morning. She was called Elodi.¬†I type this from my bed in the train to Kho Pha Ngan.

 
Kho Pha Ngan is the same island and beach famous from the movie “The Beach” and the infamous monthly “Full Moon Parties”. 10.000 to 30.000 people all partying on a tropical shore while fireworks cascade over the marine blue water. Fireshows with sticks and poj, dayglo bodypaint, wild abandon everywhere. It is a huge party, inevitably there is some crassness involved as well. I booked a beach side cabin with pool a few kilometers from the busy ‘never sleeps’ beach. I¬†intend to have a stellar time at the Full Moon, it is a once in a lifetime type event. Yet it is nice to know i can get away from the intensity and actually sleep whenever i choose. Also throughout the month there are lots of smaller almost daily parties in the Jungle, at a big Pool, at a waterfall, everywhere… And all the parties also feature at least one sound system that blasts more interesting music such as Raggea, Jungle, breakbeat and drum and bass.¬†
 
I already miss Bangkok a little. There is so much i still want to do, like watch a whole night of Muay Thai fights at the most famous fight sport stadium in the world, Lumpini. Visit the infamous Soi Cowboy, visit the floating market and massive Chakatuk Market, go ice skating (seriously), check out the lively Sukhumvit boulevard and it’s many sidestreets (Soi) and a hundred more things. Just yesterday one of my friends from Wong’s, Mark, told me about this amazing bar called “Brick” where they have energetic live Ska music every night and where mostly Thai people go and everyone dances on the bar or wherever they please. And Mark’s friend Mike invited me to a house party, he has them almost every weekend at his beautiful apartment.
 
The sleeper train is extremely cheap and at least as clean and comfortable as my bed back home. Fresh white linnen, black out curtains and a window with mosquito screen so you are neither hot nor pestered. Shower, sinks, toilets and all kinds of food being sold right on the train. It is a magical thing to travel 700 Kilometers through Thailand at night. A few stretches are slow allowing you to see. Lights, colors, smells, and beautiful vegetation everywhere. Kids that live along the tracks talk to you in broken English and with big smiles when the train briefly stops.
I am sitting next to two Turkish couchsurfers dudes (i have been invited to surf Onur’s couch in Atalaya and use the Hammam his family owns) in the train and three girls from Carolina who are also going to the full moon.
In 15 minutes it will be 05:48 and the night train will arrive in Surat Thani. After that i catch a large high speed  Catamaran to the Island. It is a fine way to travel. The twelve hours have felt like four since i was able to stretch out, sleep, talk, eat, wash, walk around and relax.
 
I have been in Thailand a little over a fortnight and in that time i have experienced so much. More than i sometimes would experience in three months time back in The Netherlands. It seems like everything is possible in Thailand. Anything -expected, hoped for and undreamed of- can happen here. And it usually does.
 
26-01-2013
 
Full Moon Party. At 17:00 there is barely anything on the beautiful tropical beach. By midnight there are 23.000 dancing, laughing people, wearing day glo clothes and paint on their bodies, dancing at the 13 soundsystems in turn, from Reggea to minimal house, from Drum and Bass to Old School. There are massive decorations, fire shows, a big waterslide, hawkers, freaks and primadonnas, regular folks kids and octenarians… My friend¬†Lithuanian¬†friend Julian and I¬†explore A plethora of Bars, people selling buckets with Sang Som Whiskey, Red Bull and coke, all the small clubs, shops and¬†restaurants¬†on the docks are open too. We run into a few girls and guys that we know, and have fun spending time together. Sometimes we go into the Ocean to cool down. I have bought a half liter of Sang Som Whiskey previously, which lasts me through 08:00. Which means nine hours, a whole a night, of one of most impressive parties i have been to and the total damage is about five euros including a softdrink and some food… I make sure i sober up and ride my rented motorcycle home, i hit 100 KM/hour on one deserted straight stretch, such a blast! Most of the way i stick to 50 KM/hour, i am not in a hurry and the thing is to get there in one piece! No passport? No license? Not Thai? No Problem! I love the saizze la faire of this country.
 
This is another item i can cross of my bucket list. I could write for many paragraphs about all i saw but the photographs speak for themselves.
 
28-01-2013
 
Twenty days in. I am having brunch at a small place on an alley. It is is painted green, a little ratty looking and there are only neon lights. Under which a quiet 55 year old Thai Lady works. It is rarely busy. It is also the best (Thai) food on the Island. The first time i saw it i walked past, that was a mistake. Whether it is spring rolls, spaghetti Bologonese, very traditional Thai food with fish, meats, unusual veggies and amazing curries, chocolate moose or South East Asian deserts, this lady is a true pro! She doesn’t take any shit which i love! Her menus have beautiful pictures and all the ridiculously low prices of the many dishes. A hand written sign proclaims that she asks customers to write their orders and hand them her. Another hand written sigh says “Please take full responsibility for your Children. Any damages must be paid for by the Parents. Thank You.” She is focused on cooking the best possible meals not on humoring every whim of every costumer, a good¬†philosophy¬†i think.. I met an ex pat who has been living on the Island for six years. He says he comes here several times a week as there is no better food anywhere on Ko Pag Nan. After dinner i am moving to another bungalow. I want to see more of the Island so going a few miles south will give me a whole new area to explore and tropical sea coastline to swim in. ¬†Tomorrow there is an open Jam session at a place which is quite famous here the “Jam Phagnan”. Might well go. My blisters from playing at the Overstay are pretty much healed, plus i have some gaffer tape i can put on my fingertips. I still have 50 days in South East Asia, what a great prospect.
 
On the Island strangers will offer you rides on back of their motorcycles all the time. Especially if it is hot out and you are carrying things it is a common courtesy here which i love, and i offer rides to people when i can. It is very sunny and i see a tattoed girl with quite a big packpack looking like she is struggling with the weight and heat. I pull over and ask her if she needs a ride. Turns out she just arrived and is looking for a guest house. I tell her i am just on the way to a cheap one up the road and tell her that they will likely have more rooms if she is interested. Caroline is from Sweden, twenty five and seems nice. We ride on and the bungalow is really idyllic. I can almost touch the sea from my window. It in traditional Thai raised style with all wood construction  and banana leaf weaving, yet has all the modern conveniences like good electric power, a very clean and comfortable bathroom with toilet and more. The way it is build also means a lot of airflow which makes it much more airy and cool than my last place. We hang out some in the evening and then go to our respective beds.
 
The next day we run into one another in the morning since our bungalows are right to each other. We decide to take a long tour of the Island on my motorbike. It is beautiful and very romantic. We see some crystal clear blue bays, elephants, vast swasts of jungle, a strange second hand shop and end up by the shore in a village that is specializes in sea food. We eat as we watch a fisherwoman up to her neck in the sea cast her line into the ocean. Caroline puts her head on my shoulder. When we return in the evening she lingers at my cabin long. We both express our feelings and how much better the already great Thai experience is once you can share it with someone.
 
In the late evening after dinner Caroline is tired. Me not so much. I go to the Jam Phangan, well loved open jam space and bar by the shore. I meet the owner Robert, a fellow Dutch man, within minutes of arriving he hands me a joint and slice of Pizza. I have a few Red Label shots. The Jam is a ton of fun and mostly acoustic. I meet a lot of people including a supremely fit and friendly Martial Artist Yogi vocal Freesteeler guy called Eddde who looks like a young pre surgery Carrot Top. We agree to play more on Saturday when it is non acoustic and more rock orientated.
 
02-02-2013. I saw a girl rolling a cigarette on the street with a really nice rented motorbike. I want to ask where she got it so that when my current lease was up i could go there. Also, i am not much of a smoker, but like to have one a week on average, so i ask her to roll one as i can not. KoPa2HB 050Turn out Sveta is from St. Petersburg, 23 and was about to go the motorcycle rental to extend her lease ten days. She offers to show me. I agree. KoPa2HB 061In this short interaction i notice right away in her eyes she seems,.. lost.. She also confides she had a huge fight with a friend that she was traveling with. She could not stay with him in the same hostel so she is also looking for a new place. Since she shows me the bike thing i return the favor by saying i can show her my place and we can see of there is vacancy. I did spend some hours looking for the cheapest nice¬†bungalow¬†after all. Turns out for 300 Baht she can have the little house next to mine, she is overjoyed and we joke around about being neighbours. I tell her i was planning to go out, maybe play some pool, dance and more. She wants to come. We go to Baan Tai beach. Buy a liter of Sang Som at 7-11 and a liter Coke. We talk and dance together all night. KoPa2HB 052Many times we clasp hands and spin around and around almost out of control and giggling. At the end of these spins she gyrates in to my arms and i spin her around at chest height before i disengage and we both cry out, laughing so loud. She is tiny, lithe and light. She goes from downcast to quite drunk and radiantly happy! But not so drunk that she can not do three cartwheels in¬†succession¬†on the beach. KoPa2HB 053Her amazing smile is etched in my mind… We dance by the fire performers, stumble on a toddler dancing on a table with his mom clapping. We join them urging the kid on, everyone is beaming. At one point we run out of drink and decide to go home. There is no way i will let her ride her bike, she agrees. Holds on to me in a way that reminds of a small Koala bear, her head resting on my back, seeming to almost fall asleep. KoPa2HB 060Her trust is absolute. I have sobered up quite some, but the road from Baan Thai is very much like a rollercoaster, except a very dangerous one. There are a really big number of accidents here. Due to the really steep hills and rapid drops combined with hairpin turns and dead man’s corners. I concentrate to my utmost and drive very defensively and quite slow. I can not have it on my conscience if we fall! When we are still 5 minutes from home she starts touching me in a very much “more than friends way”… I am of course very happy about this. Never had this experience on a bike. We get to her house. I stay. We don’t sleep much. In the early afternoon we go to pick up her bike and end up on the beautifull beach, she makes sand Angels, and she almost could be one as far as i am concerned. KoPa2HB 063We swim for very long and then sleep on the beach for even longer.
 
04-02-2013 Sveta has one local, older Thai friend. He rents out a cabin where she had stayed before. She goes to see him just to hang out. He gets very drunk and starts saying very lewd and creepy things,.. another friend betraying her trust. I am at an amazing Waterfall party having a good time, meeting some people and dancing among the water, the neon colors and the jungle. at 02:29 i get an SMS from her. “Are you sleeping already….?” For some reason i get a terrible feeling. I call her right away. She says she must ¬†leave her friends house quickly and asks if she could please sleep at my house since she no longer has her cabin paid for. I say: “of course, if you don’t feel good there, please come! She does. I can tell something is really horribly wrong, something other than the friend acting creepy. She is very tired, doesn’t want to talk about it, but mentions something terrible happened and she has to go be there for her mother and is cutting her vacation two weeks short. I don’t push at all and give her her space in every way. Soon she is asleep. In the morning i decide to do whatever i can to make her have fun, smile, laugh, feel good. It seems she really is in a hole. Soon she is much happier, we have a great breakfast. Then it slips out. Her father died yesterday and she had wanted to talk to her Thai friend about it. I feel so bad for her! So much ill luck. She want to go shopping for some presents for her mom and herself. Somehow, she manages to forget for some hours and is actually smiling and laughing a lot. I decide to do anything at all she seems to want or need. We go clothes, shoe, presents and¬†accessory¬†shopping for hours, maybe 30 stores and i give her feedback. She is amazingly cute in many outfits she tries on and is suddenly carefree again. We see about returning the five days left on her motorbike but it is not possible. She gives me the bike. So now i have two and as my own lease runs out in 3 days her longer lease for a much better bike is very welcome. I buy her some headphones, some food, some drink and phone credit. She insists on paying me back. I tell her how i feel, that the one particular night was an amazing and beautiful experience to me and that the days were awesome too. I explain how i hope one day we will see each other again when things are better for her. I put her on the boat and leave. Sad. But grateful. And happy. Miss her already.
 
To make things more surreal, on the way home from the Waterfall party I conversed briefly with two girls who live a hundred meters away from me in Berlin. And while rushing away to Sveta i see a huge, muscular dude, Marcus, kind off shambling home over the really rough and long path away from the resort. His shoulders, his gate, his expression and vibe tell me he is in the pitts. I decide to at least offer him a ride. He gladly accepts. He tells me how he has been in prison for most of his life even though he is quite young. And how he was having a terrible night, as his friend went on a very bad drink and said and did some horrific things to Marcus. After i let him tell me his brief story and the short ride is he is almost in tears. Tells me how bad he was feeling and had kind off lost all faith and wasn’t sure what he might have done. “You just being kind and helpful to me, gave me a boost, thank you!
 
08-02-2013. Last couple of days i went to quite some parties, the Waterfall Party, Shiva Party and the Jam Phangan. Danced and played music into the morning. KoPa2HB 043

‘Berlin. How did i get here? Where did all these kind people and amazing experiences come from?’

I shall start by trying to briefly explain why i feel Berlin is the best European city i have ever been too. In Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain there is a very obvious and political large squat on almost every block.

Most of these places have one or more of the following: A free shop, a VoKu that is cheap as chips, amazing gigs, little cinemas and a plethora of other fun things to do. Committed folks are generally running these places for the love or ideals and not for profit, and it shows. Even Amsterdam is a village compared to Berlin. The latter is so much bigger, has more space, way more and bigger parks and green areas and triple the (sub)culture. And there is park and curb life. In summer locals from all walks of life just sit on corners or in parks enjoying a beer and chatting, playing guitar, busking or reading Kant or a comic. This outdoor socializing feels very southern or Mediterranean and i have yet to experience anything like it in Paris, Prague, Antwerp, Hamburg, Helsinki, New York or any other Northern place for that matter. Oh yes, that is another thing. Drinking in public at any time and any place. Many Berliners tote half liter bottles of beer. Mostly it seems to work just fine! From what i have seen there is no more public disorder, fights or issues then there in in The Netherlands where you are fined a lot for even carrying a half Dixie cup of beer anywhere in public.

We arrive in Berlin. Behind a perfectly normal and neat front door of a cluster of very small, cheap modern apartments, in a residential area, there is a Couchsurfing mecca. They call it A-Flat.

A German couple in their early twenties rent the apartment. Clemens and Lisa attend university plus hitchhike and travel often. Six months ago they decided to host almost any and all couchsurfers, buskers and hitchhikers. They also keep everything in common. Free, luxurious, dumpstered food, sleeping gear, tools, musical instruments, whatever. If you need it simply ask or grab. Nor do they live by other ideas or standards themselves, they will sleep on the balcony on a camping mat with sleeping bag the same as all the guests. Sure, they have a double bed but if someone needs it more (for instance because they must rise early in the morning) it is theirs! They would be offended if you offered any money or goods for the kindness of letting you share their house and all belongings. Instead they love it if you contribute to keeping the household going. Cooking, cleaning, dumpster diving (there are daily sorties and these always yield amazing and tasty things) and whatever else needs doing. Everyone pitches in, nobody needs to be told or asked, new people pick up on the example of long stay surfers.

The total floor space of the apartment is 52 square meters. Yet at their zenith they have hosted 23 persons there… Couchsurfers sleeping in the hallway, the kitchen, everywhere. Packed in like happy sardines, and it works!


People clean, dumpster dive, make music, share and especially have fun together. Nobody is stressed nor possessive about possessions or personal space. They use your laptop but are careful and would never dream of stealing it. I stand humbled and even a little ashamed. My house/building in The Hague is absolutely massive, yet we don’t even have the smallest of dedicated guest rooms, despite the fact i have clamored for it for years. If you host several people -that go in and out of the house- in your own room for longer a few fellow residents will likely get antsy and worried. I understand their reasoning! It isn’t judgment. But i do see there is also another way.

We arrived at this apartment, fit right in, and it became clear quickly that we could stay as long as we wanted. They prefer guests that stay over a week! They want meaningful exchange and mutual learning. Right after entering it the said “Oh, would we like a freegan meal of some steak, fresh egg pasta, herb butter and veggie, all from the bin?” It was perfectly fresh and tasty. “Later, we are playing a board game and watching a film on the beamer, please use the WiFi, have fun.” Nobody is in a hurry, moody or stressed. When i was cycling outside and got the worst eye infection of my life a beautiful Check girl Zosha (almost done studying to be a doctor!) treated me. There are people who have been there for months, including the quintessential Dutch Goa Trippy Hippy “Renaqua” who once never touched and did his best to not think of money for nine months. Or the quick to laugh Argentinian Gabriel who has been Couchsurfing for many months. There is one double futon bed in the common room. The first night i fell asleep there. An hour later i wake up when two eighteen year old blond girls from the UK have decided to crawl into bed with me. No. Not really like that. More like the sleep over you used to have with your friends as a kid… Why do we mostly stop doing that? Ok so perhaps, it was a little like that… It was cold and we did hug lots and got somewhat sexual, but mostly it was,.. cozy!

We, the Couchsurfers, clean, help out, fix some bikes and picture frame or offer to hang up their broken shower curtain. After three nights T. and I decide (we truly do not have to) to go to another Couch surfing place, in order to experience more people and areas. Fred, Sunna, Obi and friends live there. This house is the total opposite except for the very left leaning tendencies of the inhabitants. The place is very big, gorgeous, old but perfectly refurbished with double glazing a FuBball machine, and really big rooms. We get a big room to ourselves and are given home made cookies and later taken to the only 100% vegan, mostly organic fast food joint i have ever seen. One of the residents works there. We pay all of 6,50 for a massive, fresh vegan Bacon Cheeseburger, a huge big salad and gargantuan plate of fries. Next time we are sharing one. The place is full of Bike messengers dudes, artists, straight edge girls and activists but also just regular people of the street since it is very much a public restaurant.

The second day at A-Flat i find an unlocked and truly abandoned 24 speed mountainbike. It has a fair amount of damage but nothing that i can not fix in under 90 minutes. I leave a note just in case and just like that i have a beautiful free bike! Things like that happen to me in Berlin all the time! I find money, love, friends i instantly like and trust to a high degree, a bike, a job offer and more besides.

RegenbogenFabrik. This was one of the first places i visited and i kept coming back. Stayed there several nights, befriended most of the super nice staff and volunteers and volunteered myself at the bike diy shop. A former squat with more than thirty years history these guys do it all. A 10 euro a night very clean, homely and comfortable youth hostel. Oh.. on all three of my nights staying there i ended up in a really nice ten person room with,… nine girls ha ha! Not interested in the least by that point for reasons that will become clear later. However it was fun! Talking a bit and sharing drink.

Besides Hostel they have an open to the public (you pay three euros an hour) well sorted DIY Bike repair workshop and woodshop and cheapest bike rental in Berlin. A 5 euro a movie cinema that is full of welcoming Chesterfield couches and that only shows intelligent and quality films including classics. A totally peaceful and quiet, green courtyard in the middle of the downtown area. Free internet terminals. A cafe with some of the best and cheapest coffee, breakfast and foods i have ever had. Oh,.. and the cakes, pies and pastries! By the stars! Made fresh every day, massive variety and all scrumptious!


A few days in i meet up with my older brother at a night time flea market. It is a blast. Great DJ, festive atmosphere and really nice hand made or second hand goods.

Koppi. Mad Max. Fall Out. Post Apocalyptic Punk enclave. This humongous, ancient and (in squatter circles) world famous squat is surrounded by a huge fence of cast of metal plates. Big bars, large concert area, well sorted, grimy but in the way i like it. Graffiti everywhere, people hawking punk art and crafts. On the wall there hangs a huge reproduction of the severed head of the statue of liberty with what appears to be rust or blood coming from the eyes. Eerie. Meaningful. Inspiring.

We saw the amazing all female ‘Beyond Pink’ band as well as two others. The pit was top notch, had a blast. They too have several services like a bike coop/workshop, a big cinema, a Vegan restaurant and much more. I intend to become a regular.

Couchsurfer and friend James invites us to join him and Jiulia (a very kind German punk gal) to check a place that is famous among Urban Explorers. It is a massive long abandoned terrain quite a way out on the outskirts of Berlin. It has begun to revert back to forest and there are even signs of wild boar. On it are some humongous, beautiful, intricate long deserted buildings that are also spooky. The place was a Tuberculosis treatment center way back.
We take pictures and at one point stumble into either a Porn or fashion shoot. We can’t quite tell. They are not happy to see us but we don’t get into trouble with the law and keep walking around for some time in basements, attics and weird rooms whose former medical function is hard to ascertain. A thing that strikes me is that there are so much lush green areas with big trees very close to Berlin and big lakes too.

Thursday 19-07-2012

I decide to head out on my own so i can just wander, go into any shop of place for as long as i want and just let my thoughts run wild. As i slowly cruise and listen to ‘Rise Against’ i have a massive smile plastered on my face and joy in my heart. I walk in to a Mall that to many would look very crass, i don’t judge, i simply feel compelled to give it a look. I find a K-Mart clone, get a two euro bike pump since there is a lot of glass on the streets. A little into the mall is exactly my kind of of bike shop. It is hidden, dingy but large and a bit dark. Chock full of restored second hand bikes of all makes and types as well as filled with the most beautiful vintage racers from the golden era. Including the much vaunted Peugeot PX-10. I half seriously start contemplating a vintage bike export business since in the states some of these racers go for triple what they cost here. And they have second hand parts. I decide to replace my saddle’s quick release, so possible theft is no longer an issue. Off hand i comment ‘Nice Store! I worked as a mechanic for four years, so i really like this place.’ The manager/salesman just smiles and says.. ‘Would you like a job?’. I am like ‘Hell yeah!’. He says “Come in for a trial day on Monday.” and smiles some more. I am happy, elated, excited!

Friday 20-07-2012

I set off alone and agree to meet T. later to see about a bike for him. I buy a tiny 0.6 kilo, quality ultra light yet warm sleeping bag from a super helpful young German dude, Matthias, at an outdoor store. 40 euros, that is not even close to doable in The Netherlands. I was a little cold the last two nights in A-flat since it was overcast. As amazing as my silk sleeping bag liner is. As it turns out my new bag will come in very handy tomorrow night.

I go by the bike store in the mall. My friend T. gets a very good deal on a real sturdy bike and is very pleased with it. Will simply sell it when he leaves. I talk to the main boss and he is a kind, muscular man. He asks me how fast i am at replacing inner tires (6 min.), patching back wheels on complicated dutch bikes (20) on lacing wheels (33 or more) and truing wheels (5). He seems happy. Asks me to start Monday, i work from 10:00-19:00 and get a one hour break or two half hours, my choice. I am excited and of course a tiny bit nervous.

Sat 21-07-2012

Our hosts decide to spontaneously host and announce a live acoustic music/busker party. The location? An absolutely gigantic, long abandoned Hops factory with a overgrown area around it. People are informed the same day through an announcement on Couchsurfing. A total of thirty five show up. We trespass onto the overgrown terrain. After some walking we begin our climb up. It leads us over a ten story roof, we have an accordion, three crates of beer, a flute, and two guitars in tow. We feel like ninjas as we clamber way up and can see out over night time Berlin. It is quiet up here, yet there is life all around us below, in the distance.
The party just goes off. I play and sing my heart out joining the three professional buskers and performing a few songs on my own, including Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger” and The Pixies’ “Where is my mind”.

Though i have only been singing for a year and my vocals need work everyone seems very into it and a few British girls i have never seen before are particularly enamored of my rendition of Torrini’s “Beggar’s Prayer” and tell me so. All attendees clapping, roaring, dancing, joining in. It is a thing of wonder. Made the more surreal by the location of the factory hall, barely lit by many candles. I learn several new songs. There are sincere hugs, smiles and shared stories all around. Everybody thanks one another for coming and contributing. This is DIY, mutual aid or even “Anarchy” in action as far as i am concerned. We do not need “clubs”, bouncers, ticket prices or 2 euro beers. A crate of beer costs four and half euros in Berlin, including the deposit, so we just give it away for free.

I meet a 28 year old girl and we agree to hang out the next few days, just for fun. Doesn’t materialize in the end but was nice to talk. I also meet a girl that i dismiss out of hand as a romantic interest and i purposefully steer clear off. She looks very (too?) young and is strikingly cute with big blue eyes, raven black hair, somewhat elven features and a petite frame. However, i don’t want to be “that guy”. Hitting on the youngest, cutest girl there. How self limiting these assumptions and rationalizations we burden ourselves with. As there are fewer and fewer people as the night winds on, we eventually do end up sitting next to one another. It turns out later she is one year shy of being half my age, eighteen. Still an hour later neither of us gives a damn.
There happens to be a big, soft burlap tarp lying in the factory. The seven or so stragglers all sit there. She and I talk. Long and well. As we do our legs touch, unnecessarily. Neither of us seems to want to change that. M. has just moved to Berlin from Saxony. One by one the others drop off to sleep on the tarp. We end up having a heavy make out session. She confides she is extremely excited, wishes we were alone and tells me all the things she would do to and with me,. if only.. She far from being as innocent as she looks. Which is a good thing.
By three in the morning neither of us can stand it anymore. We walk to Couchsurfers paradise, plonk a mattress in the kitchen and things just happen. Twice. We are exhausted but only sleep a couple hours, we are too busy holding one another and exchanging lingering kisses. Then i go to drop her off at her parents neighborhood, but before i do, more great conversation, Lattes, and the freshest sandwiches and cheese cake from a local bakery. The Germans do their bakeries right! Delicious. We agree to rest up and meet later in the famous Mauer park where there is a huge flea market (they sell everything!) juggling/poi, musical, karaoke and other performances including a home made robot composed of scrap. It is fun to see the robot handing a glass of water to a toddler, make faces and to spit water on the crowd.
By this point i am in love (yes really, laugh if you wish, i know i am) and we agree to see much of each other during the two weeks i have left in Berlin. I decide to sleep very well at a Regenbogen, work all day tomorrow and accept zero money from the bike shop. I am only interested in helping out some hours when i can and possibly setting my self up for a job when i return to be in Berlin for longer. Right now i am on vacation. I want to experience as much of this city as i can, and.. i want to see her!

24-11-2012

The 9 hours at the bike shop were intense, tough, but fun. I had to use all my skills. In the end they made it very clear they really, really wanted to hire me, full time. I explained i would only volunteer sometimes, and why, they totally understood. I brought M. with me, i think that made them see it from my perspective ha ha! I loved my colleagues, such nice and interesting guys. One had been in a coma for nine months after a horrible motorcycle accident. He had had to learn everything over again, from walking to talking and even thinking. Now he was doing perfectly fine and conversing with me in English. Impressive.

After work i meet, and we hang out.Later i meet up with M. We walked around holding hands having the most natural and lovely conversation. While we lie down in a park on a wooden porch she suddenly says, “You should move in with me, next week when i get my own rented room..” If it were any other girl i’d balk and find some gentle way to convey: ‘Hell No!’. With M. i was surprised but flattered, excited and full of joy. I am going to give myself a week to think and talk to M. about, well,. everything! If i still feel as great about her and she is remains as amazing as she always has been, i will do it. I last two days. I e-mail my resignation for my job, inform my housemates and sometime soon will travel home to sublet my room and get my affairs in order. Then i will try to live in Berlin for two months and figure out what i want after that. I actually hope it will all pan out that i will there for years!
M. keeps saying things that are beyond perfect yet i can tell she means every word. How she loves threesomes with girls, how she is totally faithful otherwise/when it concerns other guys and she keeps sending my SMSes that are so full of love and kindness. She has nothing of that fickle, ill considered, disingenuous or desperate vibe that a minority of young girls sometimes have about them when they first get into a guy. She is secure, mature beyond her years, could get any guy she wanted and for reasons that are partially a mystery, she has chosen me… For years now i have always felt i have a blessed life, almost like a i was born in to nobility. That feeling has never been stronger than the last few days in Berlin. Of course i tell her it will be very difficult sometimes and that we will have days when we will be pissy at each other. She knows. I tell her i love her and i want to try and see how far we can get!

I half jokingly tell M. we should buy a cheap mattress, clamber on top of the 15 meter high factory roof where we met and sleep there. She is totally into it, excited and thinks it is romantic…! My god. She keeps getting better and better. I get the mattress, we buy some candles and spend on the most romantic nights of my life up there. Though we have slept a total of 9 hours during the last three nights we still have amazing ehm “interaction” several times. It appears our libidos are very compatible. We both laugh and exclaim: “If we can do this while we just met and are dead on our feet, what can we do when we are rested and have known each other for a while?!” I intend to find out. M. is heavily into photography and has a top notch pro camera. I take a bunch of pictures. Which i can not and would not share. Her, no clothes and big but slightly shy smile. Candles. Matress. Graffitti. Big roof. Squat. Visions of perfection. At least to me.

Another day we attend a dinner party at James house and meet a Barista friend of his, Allie. Great girl and the home cooked Lasagna like meal is the best i have had in a long line of great meals in Berlin. I drink Rose and blaze a little because, why not? M. and i crash on James’ big couch on the balcony.

I end up at an All Vegan Potluck barbecue in Gorlizter park. There are fifty people there! They have a big cardboard sign where you can offer goods and services, free of charge. I fix a girls bike brake, her name is Colleen. I make new three friends. Colleen, Peter and Dutch guy Andre. Top notch brownies, vegan or otherwise and so much varied food. Feel at home.

28-07-2012

Our second hosts, Sunna and Fred invited us to a Party. We play Singstar (M. is a trained singer) and i meet some great people, toke a little, eat the really great vegan food and just enjoy myself. I meet Maia, tattooed punk girl that lives with hubbie and two dogs she loves. We agree to hang out with the dogs sometime, i miss playing with a dog. I invited couchsurfers James and Darra also show up, i love those guys. A kind, very intelligent, green mohawked, tattoed guy with a degree and great job in Micro biology is all right in my book! And Darra is an Irish indie filmmaker, gender bender, skirt wearing tough guy that i seem to have a lot in common with.
At two we are wasted, dead tired. We try to go to A-house. Nobody is there. It begins to rain quite some. We wander around. A test. Even now she is not short or unkind with me. I resolve to figure something out. Decide to go back to Sunna’s and ask if we could crash and wait out the party. It is all good. Takes until four for party to die down. We are about to fall blissfully asleep when a big, fat, punk dude that looks like Shrek turns out to also sound just like him. His head is right by ours. We can’t move the couch. He is happily asleep and snoring like a chainsaw,.. or like an Ogre. It ends up being funny more than anything and in the end we sleep some. In the morning we help clean as much as we can and go out to see about breakfast.

29-07-2012

Indian food. I walk into a restaurant, have great rapport with the Berlin born guy with Indian parents. He ends our interaction by giving me way more food than i i paid for and saying that if i need any advice or inside info i am always welcome. The Masala is amazing, the kindness even better.

01-08-2012

Dark Knight Rises. We go see it in the cinema in order to wait until we get the keys to our new temporary home in wedding. The place is not bad initially. Later,.. well that is a story for another time. M. cooks a great pasta for us as well as her guest and friend Leni. This place is also a WG type deal, we all sit and watch a movie on a four by four couch with some other tenants.

I could go on for so long about Berlin but i will cut it short. I will just end with some pictures. For example of the amazing variety of food, such as Mexican, Mietnamese, Italian and much more you can get for 60% of the cost you’d pay in Holland:

Or i could talk about that in three neighborhoods there is an all vegan and usually organic restaurant every 500 meters or so! And that every other “normal” place has vegan options. This is the meal i had at the 100% Vegan/Organic fast food joint i mentioned earlier!

02-08-2012

9:26. I have gotten Mitfahrtgelegenheit. We cruise in a Fiat Panda going 180 km/hour. I am with 3 crazy and very nice germans, who are obviously gay. But no matter what comes up in conversation they won’t say it even though i am cognizant of the fact that there is a big Gay Pride in Amsterdam this very weekend and they are going to,.. Amsterdam. Guess they are in the closet. ūüôā Surprising since they are from Berlin. They only want a little gas money and we have good conversations.

08-08-2012

In Hamburg, saw my older brother and 2 year old nephew. I love that Noa! Wish i knew him better. I will have more opportunity now. Tomorrow i will be in Berlin.

While in Holland, went to my old workplace. My former boss was so cool about it, she understood as she too was once in love, youngish and is crazy about Berlin. Sublet my room for two months to two Punk Bask women (50, and 21, mother and daughter) who needed it bad since they were being exploited by their former landlord and generally having a tough time. They were so happy and grateful. Made me happy to see. Left them a lot of food, told them to use ALL my stuff and left them some weed, Dutch hospitality ha ha!

Ideally in two months i hope return to The Hague for mere days, organize a flea market, sell almost all my stuff, and move to Berlin for to stay some years. That is the plan. Time will tell.

They Took my Job! and other good tidings. :) 6 gram stoves. Ultralight.

So all the Art institutes in The Hague are being heavily defunded. Which means that my work contract will not be renewed starting 01-01-2013. Funny enough i am very happy about this! I have really given working in the art world a square go, but it had run it’s course, the particular place i work at is great in many ways but i felt like i needed a change. On top of that i have been planning a 2 + months trip to Thailand for a long time now and that never seemed compatible with work. I am booking my ticket for the first few weeks in January when it is very cold in Holland. Lastly since i lost my job through no fault of my own i can probably get a letter of recommendation and if i should need it (economy…) money from the government until i get a new job.

Just planning the trip has motivated me and given me enjoyment. Besides the trip in January i am also hitchhiking with a friend to Berlin in less than two weeks. For both i have bought and made some new gear. Mostly technical outdoor clothing. I realized that buying multifunctional, light and quick drying gear also makes sense from a frugal perspective. The clothes tend to look better and last a lot longer than the stuff i usually buy. Being multifunctional and from light fabrics makes me more comfortable in that i need to carry less and sweat less. Tim Ferriss was one of the influences that light me to Ultralight backpacking:

So far i have bought some super light zipp off Columbia pants that look neat, a very neat, never crinkles shirt from Fjall Raven (thanks mom!) Tevas and some amazing! shoes. A few weeks ago i met this American girl that is really heavily into minimalist footwear running, cross-fit and long hikes. She said it was the best footwear she ever owned and every review i came across, from ultrarunners to just average people, was glowing. So i bought them in the most inconspicious gray/black color so i can wear them everywhere.

http://birthdayshoes.com/merrell-barefoot-road-glove-review

I am amazed! I have never had such ridiculously light shoes in my life and they are by far the most comfortable too! On top of that, they breathe very well, do not stink, look pretty normal and have Vibram soles! Which are the same soles as you find under mountaineering shoes that are meant to last ten years or so..
175 grams of bliss per shoe, i wear them all the time, both for casual use or running. Best 100 euros i have spend.

On the other end of the spectrum i spend 60 cts for a Cat food can and 8 euro for a tool to make one of the most effective and lightest camping stoves in the world. The 6! gram SuperCat stove.

http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/SuperCat/

There are a million enthusiast ultra light backpackers out there making them and offering cool websites about them. So, in short:
No moving parts (whole thing is one part) widely available fuel (ethanol) and you only take as much fuel as you need. Whisper quiet. Cook or boil things fast and proven design. I tried mine out the other day to make a few cups of tea and it worked a charm. Definitely taking mine on my hitchhiker trip for Coffee, Tea, Noodles and Oats on the go. Might even try cooking a full meal on it.

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