Evolution And Realization

This blog entry was originally posted on April 03, 2005.

My apologies for the lack of Blog entries in the past couple of days (or is it weeks now?); life back in Greater New York has been crazy — but in a good way.  Rather than moping around with nothing to do feeling depressed that I’m not off climbing a mountain or something, I’ve been more than occupied with a lot of projects, and not in a corporate structured nine-to-five kind of way either.  There’s been more than enough stuff for me to do these past couple of weeks since DAY 503 — most of them requiring me to wear the hat of a designer, not the hat of a writer — but it is necessary as it pays the bills.  If this keeps up, I’ll be ready to go around the world again in no time, with a whole new Blog.

As I said before, life back home is pretty much the way it was back in 2003, which, at least for me, wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Freelance projects, my hobbies, following leads, cycling, parties, happy hours, and pooping (sans diarrhea) are all a part of the norm, just like before I left.  I stated in a previous entry that it doesn’t feel like The Global Trip 2 changed or transformed me at all; I’m still the same guy as I left in October 2003 — and everybody here seems to agree.  “Yeah, you’re exactly the same,” said Moelicious.

“You’re the same,” my friend Heide said.  “Those guys [on the Blog who only know you from the Blog] don’t know you the way we do.”

Fellow RTW traveler and Blogreader PC (a.k.a. Claudia), who had gone around the world in twelve months and had experienced “Re-Entry Syndrome” before me, told me that depression would probably sink in during my fourth or fifth week, although everybody’s different.  I am currently writing this in my fourth week back, and I’m happy to report that depression really hasn’t sunk in — except for perhaps the gradual reversion to teen angst from being a thirty-year-old single guy living at his parents in the suburbs to pay off credit cards.  (Actually, it wouldn’t be so bad if only the house was accessible to a subway station, and if saying the phrase “living with my parents in New Jersey” actually scored brownie points in the NYC dating scene.  [It’s the “New Jersey” part that’s the turn off.]) 

Perhaps this supposed “Re-Entry Syndrome” hasn’t sunk into my mind because I’m not one to dwell on the past.  “[You don’t feel it because] you only live in The Now,” my friend Allan said at the DAY 503 party, after having a more than a couple of beers. 

“You know,” I told him.  “That’s it!  That’s it exactly.  You hit it right on the head.  That’s it exactly.  You hit it right on the head.”  (I’d been drinking too.)

I guess on a subconscious level, before, during, and after The Trip, I’ve strived to live life in “The Now,” not knowing what the next day will bring, as much as I can.  Thankfully, many times, that “next day” usually involves beer.

TO BE FAIR TO THOSE BLOGREADERS who say that I must be a changed person after such a big worldly experience, I’ll admit that I’m not completely and utterly the same.  While I’m still basically the same person, The Trip has made me wiser and has evolved my personality and lifestyle, in more ways than one:

1.  PATIENCE IS A BIGGER VIRTUE.  A lot of people back in the New York area are surprised to hear anecdotes about when I get angry at something.  “Erik, you can’t get angry.  I can’t picture you mad at all for anything,” they’d say.  My parents would probably disagree with that — they’ve seen it all through the years — but perhaps that’s just a result of the intrinsic teen angst in all of us.

Generally speaking, over time I’ve built up my tolerance for discomfort and waiting — a definite must-have for anyone planning to go backpacking — and it’s true; I don’t often get angry since I try not to “sweat the small stuff” as they say.  (Everything is small stuff.)  I’ll have to say that The Trip has only forced me to be even more tolerant and patient than before.  I remember being in Baños, Ecuador in the beginning of my trip, trying to decide whether or not to take a bus to a town three hours away or one five hours away, and I opted for the former because, Five hours?  That’s so long! 

Of course over time, I had no choice but to take longer and longer rides and ultimately just got used to them.  Twenty-five hours to Rio?  Eh, sure, whatever.  In the end, my longest overland transit time in one leg was over thirty-three hours, on a train across Siberia.  Thirty three?  Feh.

One thing I have learned on this trip is that most of the world is more patient than the West.  Most countries joke about their lack of punctuality by saying things run on their nationality’s time — i.e. African Time, Filipino Time, Bolivian Time, Indian Time — and all of these “times” are generally 30-60 minutes later than the time actually stated.  Buses don’t leave at 3 p.m., they leave 3:30ish. 

It got me thinking.  From what I’ve seen, there are more people in the world that run by this other “time” than people who are “on-time.”  Which means that Westerners are actually the odd ones out; everyone else in the world is more laid back with a sort of simpler philosophy on Life, knowing that Stuff will get done eventually, so what’s the rush?  In the end, I’ve learned that it’s the West that is just uptight about a lot of things, like schedules, relationships, and diets.  It’s no wonder so many are on Prozac.

2.  MORE CIRCLES.  Back in the New York area, I have many friends, but in different circles that don’t necessary clique together; with my eclectic upbringing — I was raised Catholic in a Filipino household in a pre-dominantly Jewish town, and hung out with Jamaicans, Hispanics, Indians, Italians, Jews, Asians, and this one Iranian kid — I have acquaintances from many walks of life.  It’s funny; in a recent Chris Rock stand-up show I saw on HBO (recent for me at least), he says “You’ll never meet a guy who likes both Seinfeld and the Wu-Tang Clan,” — but as soon as I heard that, I thought, But hey, that’s ME. 

Some friends I have go as far as to say that I’m “the nucleus” that brings people together.  Now I don’t know about that — it’s beer that is the real nucleus — all I know is that most of my free time has been spent bouncing from friend to friend having one-on-ones since I didn’t have time for it during the DAY 503 party.  Four weeks later since that night, I’ve spent quality time with most of my old friends at least once — drinking at Tracy J’s, meeting up for coffee, “doing lunch,” playing video games, watching Conan O’Brien live and Chappelle’s Show from bit torrents — but it hasn’t stopped there.  The Trip has only expanded my circles and created new ones; since DAY 503, I’ve met even more Blogreaders that I didn’t know beforehand:  Hanalei, Stephanie, Dan (of NeverBeComplete.com, in town for a layover on his own global trip), and SBR-turned-latecomer commenter RachelJC, a recent east coast transplant from Oregon who had relocated to the NYC area in Jersey City (or, as she playfully refers to it as, “The J.C.”).  Concurrently, my e-correspondence has broadened to more places in the world — Siberia, Japan, Singapore, Bangkok, and Canada to name a few, as well as more of the states in the U.S.A.  In turn, I feel more connected to the world than I’ve ever been, which is a really good thing.  It’d be cliché to say “It’s a small world after all,” so I won’t.  Oh wait, I just did.

3.  JADED.  Going in on this trip, I remember being excited about the world, about seeing new places that I’d only heard about on Discovery, National Geographic, Michael Palin’s travel shows, Globe Trekker, and The Amazing Race.  The first half of the trip was great, being an impressionable backpacker, taking everything in like a sponge — but over time everything started looking the same, even across continents.  I became churched out, templed out, villaged out, parked out, jungled out, museumed out — completely and utterly jaded.  Some travelers say that once you hit that point it’s time to go home so that new places continue to be “special,” but this is usually said by Europeans travelers who have the convenience of month or more-long holidays and can go around and explore one country for a while, then another country the next big holiday (with salary).  North Americans really don’t have this luxury, what with their two weeks vacation and all, and the only way to “see it all” is to do it in one big shot between jobs.

A hackneyed phrase on the backpacker trail when entering a big city is “Eh, it’s just another big city.”  In defense of cities — I think they are appealing travel destinations as long as they emit a vibe — I believe you can equally say, “Eh, it’s just another small village” about a small village when you’ve seen as many as I have.  For some reason, many little villages look the same, whether it be in South America, Africa, or Asia, all with a hardware stand, a fruit and veg market, a place that resells clothes from the Salvation Army — all under corrugated tin roofs.  In the end, the urban scene, the rural scene, and everything in between has homogenized into one big blur in my head.

As awful as this sounds, I have found some pluses in being jaded.  For one, it’s sort of cool to have seen it all and not be afraid of “exotic” things, sort of like when Indiana Jones meets the villagers in The Temple Of Doom and isn’t phased by being served bugs to eat.  Been there, done that.  Another advantage to being jaded is the fact that I can finally see travel writing from the mind of travel editors, who are usually inundated with submissions from aspiring travel writers who just write about how impressed they are about something “new” — when in reality, it is not new.  From what I’ve learned in panel discussions, travel editors are jaded too and every destination has been written to death already, no matter how remote.  The key to writing a viable story for publication is to write for the jaded mind, which in turn, makes the piece more engaging.

But perhaps the biggest advantage to being jaded is the realization of the universal themes of humanity.  If I am jaded because everything just looks the same to me, regardless of location on the globe, then I’ve definitely witnessed for myself, and made the self-discovery that we, as human beings, are all connected to each other.  Generally speaking, humanity and civilization has evolved in different places thousands of miles away from each other in a similar manner, regardless of religion or race.  In the end, we can only realize that we are all one people and it’s a small world after all.  (Oops, I said it again.)

ANYWAY, THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO REPORT on the Blog for the time being.  I’ll end this entry now since I should really get back to my work.  Besides, I am really just starting to babble things at random like an idiot now, the way most people with Blogs do.  I swear, before this trip I said I wouldn’t write a Blog until I had something interesting to write about — a trip around the world, for example — and now that the trip is over, I think I’m reverting back to that policy, as Blogs are a lot of work when you go into detail the way I do — and I should really use that time to work on stuff or get to the next level of Metal Gear Solid 3 on my PS2

Going around the world was easy, but going around the world while maintaining a daily Blog was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.  I only hope that this Blog has inspired you, the desktop reader, to go out and travel the world yourself — whether it be a couple of weeks trekking the Andes, a safari in Africa, or a sixteen month circumnavigation of the globe — because reading this, as good as you think it was, doesn’t do real travel any justice.  All you have to do to get on your way is want it — and I mean really want it — and you’ll soon figure out your own path.  Who knows?  Perhaps one day you’ll get jaded the way I did too, realizing that it really is a small world af—well, you know what I mean.

Next entry: Now Showing: “Elsewhere”

Previous entry: Songs Of New York

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Comments for “Evolution And Realization”

  • FIRST!!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/03  at  10:39 PM

  • Have fun with the projects. Oh, you sure inspired a whole lot of people in Mumbai. They cant wait to grow up and travel like you did. 8-)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/03  at  11:59 PM

  • I know what you mean about patience after visiting africa.  Great to read about your re-entry to NYC!  -Dory

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/04  at  12:07 AM

  • There is no spoon

    Posted by Dtella  on  04/04  at  12:14 AM

  • Nice little bio you got on me Erik. Am I semi-famous now? In like a public brodcasting sort of way?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/04  at  12:44 AM

  • expanding circles and connecting them like a ven diagram…

    so when we going to mars?

    any DC readers wanna buy me a drink?  email me…i’m in town till thursday nite!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/04  at  12:54 AM

  • I forgot to mention one evolution/realization that I mentioned to ANTHONY (Vancouver): 

    “[You know how you’re supposed to learn things about yourself on a trip like this?]” I said to him as we cruised around Vancouver in his Benz.  “[If there’s anything I learned about myself, it’s that I’m completely dependent on the internet.]”

    Call me a technophile, but I was dependent on the web before in 2003, and I continue to be that way nowadays, even more so I think.  On the road, the internet was a necessary tool not only for The Blog, but for my sanity; it was my only real constant.  As I told DAVID SEBASTIAN (Vancouver), “Home is where the Internet is.”

    BTW:  This isn’t the last entry.  MORE TO COME!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/04  at  03:10 PM

  • Hey man, you still have great stuff to say!  Still an interesting post, even if you think your just rambling!  I’m going over and re-reading your trip now! 

    Thanks again for sharing all the great info, pics and thoughts, and all the hard work on the blog just so you could share it all with us…cubical-ites!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/04  at  04:49 PM

  • This was a good post.  Not dwelling on the past is always a good thing!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/04  at  06:21 PM

  • Writing for the jaded mind… I like it,

    Now the only thing I have to do is develope a jaded mind…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/04  at  10:20 PM

  • ... and learn to spell develop.

    (Bloggers beware: Td0t syndrome rears its ugly head)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/04  at  10:26 PM

  • Now I just want to leave LA again… My travel to SEAsia just inspired me to travel more!!! If I haven’t gotten a job by the end of April, I think I’m selling my car and moving to BKK. Just so you know… and then I’ll become jaded about Bangkok!!

    Just seeing all the places that you’ve been has helped me to realize that I don’t have to travel the non-beaten path - Thanks!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/05  at  09:42 AM

  • I’ve just tweaked a couple of things in this entry, so read it again if you’re bored waiting for the next one: the much-anticipated “best of” list.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/05  at  03:02 PM

  • Still enjoying your blog, Erik! Don’t ever stop!

    Will you make any fun videos from this trip?

    Posted by HeatherB  on  04/06  at  01:04 AM

  • HEATHERB:  A slideshow is coming up, similar to “Would You?” which is technically not video, but a Flash animation.  As for actual video from the footage I shot on TGT2, at this point I probably won’t get to it in the immediate future; it’s currently in a time capsule to be opened at a much less hectic time in my life (i.e. retirement).

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/06  at  07:18 AM

  • I have enough time to read all your entries lately & I’m having a ball.  I had such pee inducing laughter looking at your Andean women w/ Llama picture.  I’m still cracking up remembering it. ;D

    Posted by ravissant  on  04/06  at  03:55 PM

  • RAVISSANT:  Wow, “pee inducing laughter”...  That’s a first for me.  (A very welcome first.)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/06  at  04:33 PM

  • I’m slightly disappointed that you didn’t find a RTW life-changing, earth-shattering, etc, etc. since I myself would hope that I’d come back different. But then again I think judging from your entries you were already a very laid back person who wasn’t easily frazzled (ie almost dying on Everest). Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/06  at  06:27 PM

  • JOYCE:  Well, it’s not like I haven’t traveled before this trip; it was in my previous travels before TGT2 when I became enlightened, transformed and bitten by the travel bug—so much that it inspired this 16-month trip to begin with.  It was in 2000 that my wanderlust really started to take form, after a safari I did in Botswana.  It was after that experience that I learned that “adventure travel” is actually a lot “less wild” and more organized than National Geographic would make it seem.  Actually, it’s funny to me now when I see National Geographic or Amazing Race go off to some “exotic” location; most of the time, that place is not far from a backpacker outpost with an internet cafe and an Irish pub.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/08  at  08:47 AM

  • And here’s Noelle to say CHEERS to the Irish pub!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/08  at  11:29 AM

  • And here’s Noelle to say CHEERS to the Irish pub!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/08  at  11:38 AM

  • And here’s Noelle to say CHEERS to the Irish pub!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/08  at  08:09 PM

  • oops - my computer was having issues - i apologize. apparently my computer was envious of my blonde moments.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/08  at  08:10 PM

  • As a member of the jaded traveler club, my two takes on traveling are 1) time and money are about the only real limitations for traveling, and 2) the world is not such a big place anymore with the huge advancements in commuting.  If you think about it, in less time than most of our average work day we can be in any of the worlds countries.  Thats the bummer part about time.  Everybody actually has the opportunity to fly out on Friday do a day tour in any exotic location and fly back on Sunday.  Its just not a big world anymore.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/09  at  08:05 PM

  • noelle - nope…just USER error… (or impatience)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/10  at  06:57 PM

  • Hi Erik,
    Yes, that was the other thing I was going to add (that you had already travelled quite a bit). In addition to becoming jaded as you see more places - does your wish list keep getting longer still?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/12  at  12:04 AM

  • I know the lists are coming - but where did you WANT to go that you did not get to go?

    Rank your favorite beers and meals too!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/12  at  12:39 AM

  • JOYCE:  Yes.  Even if “it’s a small world after all,” it’s still a HUGE world that one can not explore entirely in one’s lifetime. 

    It was a depressing feeling when I browsed through that “1,000 Places Before You Die” coffee table book that’s in stores now; after investing $30,000 and sixteen months around the world, I’ve barely put a dent in that list. :(

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/12  at  04:46 AM

  • SARA:  If and when I can afford TGT3, it’ll be NYC to Central America for at least four months, then down to Argentina, Chile, Easter Island to New Zealand (Fiji on the way?), Indonesia (for real this time), another month in China (all new places this time; that country is huge), southwest India, the ‘Stans, the Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Mali, another month Eurailing through Europe (all new places this time including Scandinavia, plus some oldies but goodies), Iceland and/or Greenland, the Azores, and the U.S.A.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/12  at  04:59 AM

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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:
Now Showing: “Elsewhere”

Previous entry:
Songs Of New York


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)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

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.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

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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The views and opinions written on The Global Trip blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official views and opinions of the any affiliated publications.
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