Poetry Corner – The Eternal Wanderer or Home

The Eternal Wanderer or Home

wanderer
From Nowhere...
From Everywhere...
Dirty dreadlocks
Scraped moccasins
Torn backpack
Scuffed map poking out (why do they need a map? they'll never get to where they're going)
A shower is beckoning to them, like a siren to a filthy sailor, tempting, yet out of reach
Phone in hand, but who are they texting, everyone back at home has already forgotten about
them or given up
A look of eternal loss across their expression
"Life's an adventure," they think but it's not what they feel
They just want to go
Home

Poetry Corner – Drifter

shrunkdrifter
Drifter

A Drifter, I've lost all direction
A nomad, I've lost all purpose 
A piece of trash, I've lost all worth 
A skeleton, I've shed all flesh 
Inhuman, I've lost all shame
Alone, I've pushed away my closest companions
Selfish, I’m able only to look out for myself 
I feel like I may drift forever, never returning home…

Poetry Corner – The Weathered Backpacker

The Weathered Backpacker

You can always spot him: 36 but looks 47, sunburnt battered skin, sunken hallow face, deplorable teeth, few days beard stubble, the reek of alcohol emanating from him, still pungent from the night before, stayed up all night till 6am (what's a good night's sleep to him anyway?), but already on his next beer today, dirty dingy flip flops (when was the last time you wore shoes, sir?), dirty beat up backup that's been places, oh it's been places, seen things, the backpack itself mirroring the traveler's worn legs and weary eyes, but keep pushing, keep going, never stopping, yet never going anywhere... Do you have a home, weary backpacker? Do you even remember where home is? Go home backpacker, it's time to go HOME. Why don't you go home?

Reel Vietnam – “My Accident”

Reel Vietnam – “My Accident”

by Cameron Brtnik

Excerpt from a letter I wrote to a friend in Taiwan just after moving to Vietnam

Speaking of accidents…

    I had a bad one last month (worst one since I started driving a motorbike in Asia). I was going about 50 km, which isn’t that fast in Taiwan. I was in a rush as it was a Monday morning and I was running late for a job interview. It was an old bike and I knew the brakes were shoddy, so I shouldn’t have been driving so fast in the first place.. but it totally wasn’t my fault. I was driving merrily along, and the car in front of me made a left turn – and suddenly there was this old dude on his motorbike just stopped in the middle of the goddamned road!

    Now that I’m more experienced I realize this “maneuver” is “normal” here. The back of his bike had about 100 boxes loaded on top of it. He was just sitting there like he was daydreaming, and I saw him too late… I tried to brake but the brakes were shit, so I swerved to miss him and flew off my bike like Superman… landing on the pavement with my entire body weight broken by my left hand. I got up and dusted myself off – seemingly fine due to the adrenalin coursing through my body – thankful I was alive and apparently uninjured, but furious… The guy actually stopped on the side of the road, but didn’t get off his bike to help. He just looked somewhat scared and confused (*note like in Taiwan locals are often scared of hitting foreigners). I then did something I’ve fantasized about since I started driving a motorbike: I walked right over to him and kicked his bike as hard as I could, tipping it along with him and his boxes over.. but he somehow caught his balance on one leg (these old dudes are strong!), then drove off.

    My bike was shattered and leaking gas, but miraculously it still worked. I defeatedly drove off and continued to my job interview.. and that’s when the adrenaline dissipated and the pain kicked it… It felt like my left hand was broken, so I drove myself directly to a hospital (where the doctor actually laughed at the frantic state I was in). It was extremely painful driving, but luckily my hand was only sprained. I wore a cast for two weeks. My hand is still healing and sore if I use it, but I’m sure it’ll fully heal. So there’s my accident story! On the plus side I now feel a lot more confident when I’m driving – It’s a different art altogether in Vietnam.

Your Taiwanese buddy, Cameron

Poetry Corner – Not A Good Day For Pigs

Not A Good Day For Pigs
(or Tet Holiday)

a poem by Cameron Brtnik
Not A Good Day For Pigs

Today is not a good day for pigs
Cause heads'll be rolling and chopped off like wigs

They sit happily dirty in the mud as they grunt
Not knowing that farmers have begun the hunt

The pigs try to run while they twist up their tail
Then we catch'em and lock the pigs up in a jail

Why they've no idea that they're the next target
To slaughter and butcher and sell at the market

They squirm and they scream and they struggle and squeal
And are not aware that they'll be our next meal

Yes a pig is oblivious to how he'll meet his end
From the same people he trusted to be his friend

Not to worry, these pigs don't have names like Babe
Like David or Charlie or Peter or Gabe

But we don't give a thought when it's under the knife
That this pig had two sons, a daughter and wife

All's not lost; All parts of the piggy are taken
And used to make hot dogs and pork chops and bacon

Yes a pig is only as good as it tastes
And we eat it all; leave nothing to waste

And if you are left with a small hint of doubt
We'll eat the feet, belly, tail and snout

So get your knives ready 'cause tonight we dine
On pheasant and fish and veal and swine

This message is going out to all pigs:
Today's looking grave; the kind that you dig

The word that we celebrate Lunar New Year
Is sure put every piggy in fear

Yes today is the day that all pigs will die
"This ain't fair!" I swear could hear all the pigs cry

As their pleas fill the air, the streets are spilt red
Another pig sacrificed, in other words: dead

But hey pigs - If it's any consolidation
We all agree everything's better with bacon!

We eat pigs for breakfast, and I've got a hunch
You had pig for dinner, and bologna for lunch

There's nothing like pork, no it just can't be beat
Not beef, fish, nor chicken, yes pork's the best meat!

To the the pig that was murdered for our meal here's a toast:
Your sacrifice was rewarded - to us with this roast

No today's not a good day if you are a hog
Cause a pig is not quite "Man's Best Friend" like a dog

The world's appetite is voracious for pork
We'll kill every last pig by blade or by fork

As we slice and dice and pierce with a skewer
With each pig with eat there are actually fewer

I know that it's horrible, makes me angry and sad
Does this make us animals? I believe just a tad

Give up eating pork? "The day when pigs fly"
But to save just one pig I am willing to try

It's enough to make me give up meat and eat plants
To stick up for the pigs, fight and make a stance!

You see pigs are actually cute and they're smart
And switching to chicken is at least a start

"But what of poor chickens?" You ask in a shock
My reply: I just have no love for the cock

END

*I am still a meat eater but is considering switching to a vegetarian diet. But bacon.

Travel-ogue: Reel Vietnam – Ninh Binh Family Homestay “Home From Home”

Travel-ogue: Reel Vietnam

Ninh Binh Family Homestay 

“Home From Home”

SO YOU’RE TRAVELING in Vietnam: You’ve been to the South and navigated the dizzying traffic of Ho Chi Minh City (still referred to by its original name Saigon), visited the amazing Cu Chi Tunnels, and took some selfies in front of the magnificent Notre-Dame Cathedral. Perhaps you worked on your tan on the pristinely white sand of Phu Quoc. You certainly explored the luminous and magical Ancient Town in Hoi An, and definitely visited the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, walking through the bustling Old Quarter, strolling around the beautiful West Lake, and stopping by some historical temples where you can even view Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body at his mausoleum (which amusingly was named the world’s sixth ugliest building in 2012). And of course, no Vietnam trip is complete without a boat cruise through the hauntingly beautiful Halong Bay. But, perhaps towards the end of your trip, you’re ready for some peace and quiet away form the hustle and bustle and all the tourists… That’s when you open your Lonely Planet and discover the small city of Ninh Binh. Located in northern Vietnam, and the capital of Ninh Binh Province, the area is best known for its largest nature reserve, Cuc Phuong National Park. “But why travel to Ninh Binh?”, you ask. To stay at the Ninh Binh Family Homestay, of course!

Run by a young, lovely Vietnamese couple, Mr. Nguyen Thanh – or Scott as his guests call him – and his wife Mrs. Tran Hang, along with their two adorable children Bo and Min, the Ninh Binh Family Homestay really is, as their motto says, “Home From Home” (mind the endearing grammatical error). And I should know; I’ve been here for one week! I discovered the NBFH on the Southeast Asia Backpacker Facebook page, advertising that they were looking for a “volunteer English teacher,” and that they provided free accommodation, food, as well as a motorbike! I was traveling through Southeast Asia at the time and couldn’t resist; a chance to do what I love – teaching children, a profession I’ve been working in for the past five years in Taiwan – and explore a remote and authentic region of Vietnam.

I was welcomed graciously by Scott and his family, and on the first evening we enjoyed a delicious traditional dinner on a rug shared by other homestay guests from Australia, and the States, with a hearty chicken and vegetable soup, crispy spring rolls Vietnamese style (both Family Homestay specialties), and homemade “happy water” – you’ll find out what makes it “happy” once you try it So far I’ve taken my motorbike out on day-long excursions, exploring the countryside, and generally getting lost – the best way to figure out your bearings! It’s not unusual to encounter a herd cows blocking the road, free range chickens frantically scurrying about, and “goat traffic” which, instead of being gridlocked behind a line of cars, you’ll find yourself stuck behind a traffic jam of goats! We also take morning bike riding excursions with the guests – and there are plenty of guests to keep me company during my stay as the the Homestay is always at 75% occupancy – through the peaceful rice fields, admiring the local farmers as they plant all the rice seeds by hand, and the abundant livestock as you’re sure see some intimidating but friendly oxen lazing along the dirt roads, gaggles of garrulous geese (sorry for the cheesy use of alliteration), as well as a wide array of other farm animals grazing in the grasslands.

There are of course some excellent local tourist destinations you can visit just a bike-ride away: Ninh Binh City contains the impressive Bai Dinh Pagoda, the largest pagoda in Vietnam, as well as the biggest bronze Buddha statue in Southeast Asia! For a unique excursion, you can take the Trang An boat tour, winding through the Song Sao River and breathtaking mountains made entirely of limestone, and even passing through natural cave – but just a “heads up,” you’ll have to duck your head! Cool fact: Trang An is the site where they filmed the new King Kong film “Kong: Skull Island!” Scott also offers his own unique tours, scenic bike rides through the countryside, and his “special tour” designed only for the bravest guests with a sense of adventure, and danger… I have posted some photos, but pictures cannot do justice to what you’ll see when you explore Ninh Binh yourself. I’ll be updating you again soon, and posting photos daily on their Instagram account “Ninhbinhadventure.”

So stay tuned, and when visit the Ninh Binh Family Homestay, remember to say, “Mot hai ba zho!” as you down your first, but certainly not last, shot of happy water. Cheers!

-Cameron
Ninh Binh, January 26, 2017

Cameron is a freelance writer and blogger, and currently works as a tour guide in Hanoi, Vietnam. He now enjoys happy water on a weekly basis

Poetry Corner – A New Hope

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A New Hope

A new feeling...

A feeling of contentedness...

Of wanting to leave what's familiar...

Of wanting to shed all things external, unimportant in the scheme of things, useless for

survival...

Of being open to learn again...

Of knowing that I don't know anything...

Of wanting to be close to the people I love...

And not pushing them away...

Of not wanting to live in solitude...

An evasive feeling...

A feeling of hopefulness...
 
Of wanting to finally LIVE


-Bali, Nov 1, 2016

Poetry Corner – The Italian Girl

The Italian Girl

... Deep, hazel eyes, like staring into them too long would be dangerous, the threat of never escaping... Sumptuous curves, elegantly, delicately put together, sculpted from Eve herself... Without knowing her past, she maintains a childlike innocence, no way of knowing, but it doesn't matter... 

I want to be lying alongside her now, stroking her platinum blonde hair, brunette roots showing, adding a feeling of realness to her, proving I didn't just conjure her up in a sun-stroked daydream... Caressing her magnificent tits, boobs, breasts, these words too crass to do any written description justice, like just by saying them would offend her unequaled beauty... 

Lying there apres-sex, our sweating bodies heaving, melting together... Our fingers exploring each other's bodies, still unknown even after making love, even more foreign than when we only fantasized this... Our feet intertwining like latin dancers, latin lovers under a howling full moon...

Soft, luscious lips, softer than air, they would disintegrate on contact, upper and lower lips pursing together like two pillows, pillows you want to rest your lips on, and never part from, both her and your saliva acting as coital glue, breathing through your noses, listening to the charged sounds of your breathing, feeling each other's heartbeats, and you could stay like this forever...

-Bali, Jan 12/2017

Poetry Corner – Bali

                                                 

Bali

"Boss!" like I put them on payroll

"Yes, okay," like I had already decided to buy the thing

"Massage?" like after a tough day at the beach all I could use was some relaxation

"Transport?" as if my feet weren't carrying me fast enough to my next unknown destination

"Valium," to ease the anxiety of being mobbed by a hundred street pedlars in the span of one block

"My friend!" like we haven't seen each other in donkey's years

"Teedak, teri makasi," my answer to all of this


-Bali, Jan 12/2017