A Travellerspoint blog

October 2013

Asia, first stop

Kuala Lumpur

semi-overcast 26 °C
View Liberty Goes East on Zaspirucho's travel map.

The flight over the Pacific was a mere 15 hours. Sleep, movie, dinner, sleep, breakfast, reading, and you're there. As we left rounding midnight, and got to Kuala Lumpur rounding midday, I didn't even get much jet lag. It was the heat that struck me though. The thick, humid heat. I should have expected it, and should be somewhat used to it, seeing it's not so different from the Veracruz heat. But I've never carried a heavy backpack around there, nor used the subway... This marks the farthest I've ever been from home. Just a bit further and I'd be halfway around the globe!

I didn't really research much about my destination. Good thing there's plenty of wifis to hang on to! Most people speak english here though, but you have to get used to their accent. And so, I made it to my cousin's address mostly on my own. I stepped out of the subway to the sight of this:
It's easy to find your bearings when your reference is more than 400 meters high and glows at night. I walked up and down, wound up in Chinatown. One day I'll see the real stuff, for now, I keep crossing Chinatown gates here and there; this one's the sixth already.

It's a lively place, Kuala Lumpur. With lots of movement and building of skyscrapers and avenues and malls. Luckily, there are a few nice parks as well. In one of them we had a little Couchsurfing event, where people brought local food, and visitors helped with some crackers, drinks, or their food, like the spanish tortilla contrasting with the... local currysome chickenly food. It was delicious. And it happened to fall on Eid al-Adha, so several of them were dressed in their traditional attire! I woke that morning to the chants of the nearby mosque, and finished it with chinatown drinks in company of fellow couchsurfers. Not a bad welcome to Malaysia.

So, on my fourth day, my cousin and her family came back from their trip. They'd gone to Penang, to eat and rest and have a good time. And now I got to see them finally! We had just met once before, but we kept contact since. She does live quite faraway, after all! So it was great to see her daughters and husband. Last time, little Andrea had been a toddler, now she's almost 10! And Carolina is a toddler now. Will I see her again in 10 years? I hope sooner than that!!

I would like to say that everything is different, being in Asia and all. It is not. Everything is similar, if only with some eastern tint. The food of course, and the language. But you can pretty much live here having no clue of bahasa. And the middle class, we're the same everywhere around. At least in the city; maybe outside of it, things would be different. People keep telling me I should go to the jungle; I'll be there soon enough. As for the people, the Malaysians have to potential to be really beautiful, what with the mixture of Malay, Chinese and Indian heritage. Sadly, they don't mix, and so, well, they're not really beautiful (statistically speaking). And it's getting more radical it seems, with racial issues gaining strength. There's even talking of it being outlawed for non Muslims to say the word Allah. Well Allah.

I say that three days is enough to get the essence of a place, as Kino taught me, and I find it to be true. The pure essence. Then, if you stay longer, you begin building bonds, developing affection. Run away at the third day, dear traveller, if you want to see the whole world. I didn't, so now have friends in this place. People I'd enjoy meeting again some other time. I met family and friends; I went walking on water with them, and took (a very little) part in the organization of a bikini competition. Too bad I won't be in town for that one!!

For the 23rd I fly to India. Meet up with my Captain, with the ocean, and see the Liberty with my own eyes. A very fitting name for a sailboat.

Posted by Zaspirucho 21:02 Archived in Malaysia Tagged malaysia city asia kl heat Comments (0)

Back to the Redwoods

Prologue of a trip

View Liberty Goes East on Zaspirucho's travel map.

And now the trip truly begins.
I spent almost three weeks at an organic farm, helping take care of the plants, and trimming some produce. Totally not working illegaly. Or on something illegal. Totally not. I would never get involved with anyone growing the devil's lettuce. I was just a simple tourist, visiting the countryside. Camping by the river.
María, my dear friend (I guess you could call her my girlfriend by now) had already been there for about two months, and after a lot of debate I decided to join her. She had already set a camp by a river, in a humongous tent-later replaced by an ever bigger one-so I had a place to crash. And such a good place it was. The white noise of the trickling water besides us would induce gentle rests, and sweet dreams. We camped there everyday; even the night when there was a storm, and a flash flood warning. The property's owner urged us not to sleep there that night but, well, we did. And the next night as well. The river rose by almost eight feet in all. It still needed three more feet to reach us, but if it had continued raining... But it didn't. And the rain gave us plenty of hours of work, what with broken branches and growing mold, there was plenty of things to do.
There were also leisurely days. One in particular, we rented a van and drove down to the Redwoods.
Those forests are magical. The trees are old and wise. They are warm and loving. We spent hours walking the paths, taking pictures, climbing and hugging trees. Or being hugged by them. We got lost, we found each other again. María and me strayed of the path, and found a big circle of redwoods. In it's very center, a very blue berry grew, rising from a bed of clover, shining in the last golden afternoon light. 1376110_10..352171568_n.jpg
I don't know how long we spent there, laying on the clover, dancing in the light, basking in the moment. In a moment, watching hundreds of rainbow butterflies dance to faraway drum & bass rhythms. Ah yes, I hadn't mentioned the mushrooms, right? We had some, and they made all the experience so much the stronger. 90_IMG_3195.jpg
As if in a dream within a dream, we ended up in the ocean. After my failed attempt at reaching Crescent City some weeks earlier, I was finally there. And suddenly it hit me. I hadn't completely realized what I've set myself to, this adventure that lies ahead. I saw the sea and thought as usual, how delightful it would be to up and sail over it, arrive to new places, witness new horizons. And that's exactly what I'm going to do! The thought broke my usual cool, left me with wide open, frightful eyes. At last, the emotional response I expected, but hadn't come.
Then the dream ended, we were back in the redwoods, the mushrooms starting to leave our brains. I could say I was sober when I plunged into the river in there. It was friggin' cold, but I could not leave that place without a swim. Who know's if I'd get yet another chance?

Eventually we came back home, next day we had an almost 11 hour working day, slight difference from running around gigantic trees.
The days passed us by, and it was soon time to leave. We made our way to San Francisco, but that trip deserves a post of it's own...

Posted by Zaspirucho 23:34 Archived in USA Tagged california oregon farming redwoods prologue Comments (0)

Road trips and missed planes

From Oregon to San Francisco, and beyond!

View Liberty Goes East on Zaspirucho's travel map.

So we set out of Oregon in style.


María swiped the American Express, and we came back home that night on our own rented Nissan. Doin' the 'merican thing. Maybe it wouldn't be necessary if the traveling infrastructure wasn't so bad (or non existent), or the buses so expensive. Specially having just hitchhiked a similar route some weeks earlier, the greyhounds and such just didn't seem worth the trouble or cost.

We set out early and out towards Crater Lake. María was dead set on visiting that place, having heard only wonders of it. So we drove up the hill and into the forest. A beautiful drive but, when we got there, Oh surprise! National parks were closed due to the government shut down. Brilliant idea that one. Close Yosemite! Close everything up! So we just kept going forward. A random hiker said we should go some other road, so we did, and somehow we ended up in the Lake of the Woods. Middle of nowhere, never heard of it. Yet there we were, in front of a beautiful lake, enjoying the little sun there was. And, hungry as we were, we got an awesome avocado cheeseburger, with a side of sweet potato fries, at a restaurant next to the marina. Not bad for the middle of nowhere. Not bad at all.
Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods


When we left that morning, we had two options: After Crater Lake, we could come back (turned out our farm friends were having a party), or camp out in the Redwoods. Yet somehow he ended in Mt. Shasta. At some point we decided not to go back, just keep going forward, and the mountain was our best shot at finding a free campground. And find one we did! Unfortunately it was closed due to... Government shutdown! So we got off the road, and just slept in the car. It was warm and spacious, and I had a wonderful night. María did not. It's not the first time she envies my bum-like ability for passing out anywhere. It's a good skill to have, you must admit.


In the morning we went as far up as the car would take us, and waited for the sun to reach us. I had nothing to wear but my sandals, and it sure was cold. Somewhere, not far away, singing and drumming could be heard: the Rainbow Gathering was not yet over. We both wanted ti visit, but it would have to wait. It's not the kind of event you want to crash for only a night... And coffee was calling out to us too, so we had to get of the mountain and caffeinate. The town of Mt. Shasta is a quiet and cute one. With some good coffee shops, a couple of shops full of incense, quartz and nepalese products, and a couple of bookstores, it had everything we needed to pass the time. Even I got a souvenir. María got plenty, but the best of them was a particular used book. So many bookshops wandered in search, and there it was, in the $1 box: Montessier's the Long Way, waiting for us.

Little after dark we made it to the Harbin Hot Springs. A beautiful place, during both day and night. You can soak to your heart's content. And when they say clothing optional, they mean it, so you're basically around naked bodies most of the time. And if you're done soaking in the warm water, there's also places to meditate, to walk around, a library, café and market. It's not a cheap place, but I would say it's worth it! And we saw a gray fox on a path, not afraid of humans, but still keeping a safe distance. Same thing with the deer, who seemed more annoyed by having to circle around us, than actually afraid.

Two nights we spent soaking, before getting to San Francisco, the town of many faces. That's what most surprised me of the place: you walk for three blocks, and find yourself in a different city. And it changes all over again after dark. It's difficult to take it all in, how can Disney-like wharfs stand next to the lively Chinatown, or the small italian coffeeshops, with the tweakers and aggressive musicians. We walked up and down, and back again. We enjoyed the city, our company, and yet another goodbye... We've had a couple already, but it seems this one's for longer. But we had an extra day. I'd like to call it a freebie, but it was certainly not free. I had had some credit card trouble and had not been able to book my flight to Malaysia, got it two days before leaving. So I didn't have a ticket yet, but María did. Somehow though, we mistook the departure, arrival, or something. We didn't find out until the morning, when there was nothing else to do, but get a new ticket and try to enjoy one last day together. And it was a nice one. Beach, wine, fondue, music, and a Golden Gate background.


So after a couple of costly mistakes, a lost flight, and a wonderful trip, María was walking down the Oakland Airport, to be seen again someday, somewhere. Well, she is now officially part of The Clipperton Project, so we just might meet again in some other sea.

As for me, after a random Couchsurfing powered night, I woke up somewhere in Daly City. Don't ask how. But it involved beer.
Lots of it.

Lots of it.

Now, on my own again, I've left the continent already. I can no longer walk back home, so there's only forward to go!

Posted by Zaspirucho 23:33 Archived in USA Tagged road_trip hot_springs goodbyes departure ransack Comments (0)

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