In A Dark Back Alley

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This blog entry about the events of Friday, October 22, 2004 was originally posted on October 26, 2004.

DAY 370:  One of my worst fears in life is to be stranded at sea, the lone survivor of a boat sinking or something.  The fear isn’t the actual being alone or being miles away from being rescued or even the threat of sharks, it is the fact that at any given moment, a big giant whale’s tail could pop out like in those nature documentaries and slap me down silly.  Every time I see one of those whale documentaries on TV and see that happen, I cringe.

One of the worst fears I have pertaining to this Blog is that I don’t do something interesting on the road to write about.  Even at home I get antsy when I just sit around and do nothing and I feel like time is just wasted when I should be out doing something.  But doing something was harder in this circumstance, as it was the third day recuperating from The Incident on The Everest Trail in the Himalayas — that and the fact that I had an awful pain in the neck from sleeping on a hard pillow, and a pain in my leg from some strange insect bite I got in the overnight.  But while I was still a bit exhausted and a bit dizzy when walking around, I figured the least I could do to be productive was get a haircut.

Thamel was still pretty much closed for the Dashami holiday, but a few businesses remained open to cater to the tourists in the area.  One such business was an old-fashioned barber shop/massage parlor, down a dark and sketchy narrow alley where everything else was closed (picture above).  The barber was waiting out by the street for clients and he seemed nice so I gave it a whirl.

The barber was thorough and cut my hair finally back down to the short, fuzzy style I have on my passport photo.  In the other barber chair was a British guy from Guernsey, the British Channel Island where Lara (Peru, Bolivia, Brazil) came from, although he said he didn’t exactly know her.  The guy wasn’t there for a haircut but for a back massage, and he raved about it when he was finished before my hair was finished being cut.

It was just me and the short Nepali barber in the shop in the back alley, and immediately after my cut he started with the touching and rubbing.  “You want massage?” he enticed me.

I’m sorry, we just met, I thought.  This is really out of the jurisdiction of the barber/client relationship, you know.  “Sure,” I said anyway.  Never mind that we were two lone men in a secluded back alley in Kathmandu; my neck was still sore and I wanted him to knead it out for me —  plus the gay connotations involved were nothing compared to a big whale’s tail coming out of nowhere in the middle of the ocean (not that there’s anything wrong with both).  The barber was gentle with me in the back massage as I remained in the barber chair and simple leaned forward for it to happen.  He cracked my back and my neck in all the good ways and rejuvenated my joints. 

I wandered around Thamel again that sunny day afterwards, passed the snake charmers and the tourists who had never seen one before.  I still wasn’t 100% just yet, but I could feel myself able to focus on objects stronger than the previous day — that is, until after the time I thought I could handle a beer at the curry restaurant I went to, which just got me more tired and sleepy.  I bought a bunch of bootleg CDs — I collected all twelve of the Buddha Bar CDs since they were so cheap — and even bought a CD wallet to keep them in to minimize the bulk of jewel cases.

When I was too tired to walk around, I went back to my room and finally watched the bootleg I, Robot DVD I got in Beijing but never got around to watching.  With my new haircut, I entertained myself for a while by trying to simulate the suspicious facial expression Wil Smith has on the cover of the movie. 

I slept early again that night and all was fine; in the safety of a bed in a landlocked country, I had nothing to fear from big whale tails in the middle of the ocean.


If this is your first taste of this Blog, please forgive me for how lame this entry is; I didn’t have much going on as I was recuperating from an almost-fatal incident on the trail to Mount Everest, which you can read about here.






Next entry: Nepali Again

Previous entry: Slowly But Surely




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Comments for “In A Dark Back Alley”

  • so, uh, no happy ending?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/25  at  08:42 PM


  • Sleep is a great way to end the day - and makes for a happy ending - don’t know what you’re talking about tjw. smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/25  at  09:10 PM


  • My sister and I try to imitate facial expressions and body gestures from movies all the time. LOL!!!!
    My fav is from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, when Mike Damon?s eye brow pops up, when asked by Stacey, ?Do you wanna take your clothes off now?

    Posted by HeatherB  on  10/25  at  09:25 PM


  • I love Buddha bar CDs!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/25  at  09:38 PM


  • i guess tjw enjoys happy endings with nepali male barbers, or at least fantasizes about it…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/25  at  09:57 PM


  • mmmmmmmm, nepali male barbers.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/25  at  11:08 PM


  • tjw: Hahaha…

    Erik, you worry about us way too much. “YOU ALMOST DIED!” Stop worrying about what we’ll read and get some DAMN REST!

    Are we that demanding? (uh, yes!)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/25  at  11:24 PM


  • Erik:  Glad to see you had a few days of chill-time (even if it was pretty much obligatory due to the Everest ordeal).  Also glad to see you are up and around and back to enjoying a well deserved cold beverage with your meals. 

    No worries on the posts, which are always entertaining, even when you’re not scaling some of the world’s tallest mountains.  You know what they say, its all downhill from here…(I’m going to go ahead and borrow your catchphrase, although I have’nt been to Everest).  All the best!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/26  at  01:55 AM


  • Tuborg? Were you actually drinking Tuborg beer or was it just the printed mug? Oh, so many memories from Denmark…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/26  at  06:21 AM


  • Dude I think I see a booger in the “simulate the suspicious facial expression Wil Smith” pic…

    you need all the oxygen you can get, make sure you clean that shit outta there.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/26  at  06:52 AM


  • LETS:  It was “Everest” beer in a Tuborg mug…  (I got the Everest bottle with the picture of Tenzing Norgay on it).

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/26  at  07:10 AM


  • I think North Americans are getting jipped.  Getting a massage is all part of the hair cutting experience in Japan.  Anyone know how it is in Europe?  First time I got my hair cut here, I was in heaven.  They also serve you beverages (tea, juice, soda).  So much nicer than in Canada. 
    Of course, there is the issue of them wanting to shave your cheeks, but that’s another story.

    Posted by Liz  on  10/26  at  07:25 PM


  • One of my worst fears in life is to be stranded at sea, the lone survivor of a boat sinking or something. The fear isn’t the actual being alone or being miles away from being rescued or even the threat of sharks, it is the fact that at any given moment, a big giant whale’s tail could pop out like in those nature documentaries and slap me down silly. Every time I see one of those whale documentaries on TV and see that happen, I cringe.

    No…seriously? That would be my greatest dream! Not the slapping down part, of course, but you would have to be very unlucky for that to happen. No, if I win the lottery, I’m on the next plane to Alaska to go kayaking with the humpback whales in Frederick Sound off Admirality island (Sept. - Jan.)—how’s that for a mission?

    Posted by Denni (whalewatcher)  on  10/30  at  01:01 PM


  • DENNI:  Oh, believe me, it IS exciting to see whales up close (even their tails).  I was essentially face to face with two humpbacks of the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula and it IS truly amazing—because I was on the safety of a ship and not stranded in the water.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/31  at  08:25 AM


  • Viva Alaska!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/01  at  11:11 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Nepali Again

Previous entry:
Slowly But Surely




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

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The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

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1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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