A Travellerspoint blog

The fat lady is singin!!!!

Oh man, well I have gotten a few emails about writing another entry, so I guess I have to get going!!!

Hey, hate to do it to you all, but this is the last entry for the time being.

Damn, I checked last night and I dont think I have written an entry in almost two months! Last time we left off was when I got back from Iran. From there I cruised back to Thailand, spent a few days in Bangkok hangin around the old haunts, and then headed back to Malaysia. I spent a few days in Kuala Lumpur (KL), then headed to Melaka, then back to Singapore, and then back to KL.

In Melaka I became part of a street show where a man stuck his finger into a ten pound coconut. It was pretty sweet!

They also have sick rickshaws. The sickest I have ever seen!!!

I was walking around, and this guy called me out as a foreigner and I made some jokes with him and the crowd and then he joke fired his assistant and I did the entire show with him. He had been doing the show for 9 years, and was about to retire so he wasnt as sharp as his first showing. For example, when he swallowed the gasoline to blow fire he choked and the gasoline went into his tear ducts and then he vomitted all over the place.

So I picked out the coconut for him to stick his finger in and then I split a newspaper with a whip, threw some cards at a newspaper to cut it, and all these other funny things that entertained the crowd.

Oh yeah, and then I met Rolf. So I was partying with these Canadian chicks in Melaka, and we went to the bar and were dancing when this old dude started dancing with one of them. We joked, and then talked after. Turns out the old guy (I would have guessed 30) was really 44 and was travelling with his 83 year old grandfather Rolf. Rolf was absolutely amazing. This dude spoke 13 languages, paints, writes poetry, has lived in Africa and Asia, has three homes, and walks about 20km per day. He had waaay more energy than his grandson, and drank with us till 3am every morning.

In Singapore, I met a dude who had been driving a motorcycle for the past 8 years throughout the world. Dude was sick!!! Oh yeah, he was deaf too – I think he was setting some sort of record.

Singapore has some cool areas. Like the esplanade, and others.
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Sure as hell doesnt seem like the recession has hit them. Crane Mania!!!
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Beetle... I mean esplanade

Somewhere along the way I met this crazy Russian dude who had been riding a motorbike for 8 years around the world. Now that is a serious dude!
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Then I got totally inspired when I heard they had lugeing (spelling?). I had a grandioso image of me donning a skin suit and aerodynamic helmet. Sure Singapore was melting at 90 degrees, but maybe they had an ultra modern teflon luge track. Who knows – its Singapore, anything is possible.

Well, it turned out to be a real letdown when I saw a flock of 13 year olds running to cut me in line. The luge was more like cruising on some sort of a track and kart kind of thingamajig. LAME!!!
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In the interest of retaining my manhood I will refrain from showing any pictures that include me and show you an actual representation of what it looked like while I was rollin.
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In that same time I was really on a roll. I was knocking things off my life to do list left and right.

I:
smoked a hand rolled cigarette
solved a rubicks cube
went lugeing
cracked a newspaper in half with a whip
completed my trifecta of weird run ins with people I know

Yeah, as for the last one lets backtrack to what has happened to me so far. In Salta, Argentina I was half asleep having a conversation with a mick when it turns out that none other than Brett Farell was in my hostel. I drank with Brett a few times in uni, but forgot about it. We had all the same friends, and went to all the same parties. We also were doing the same world tours but in reverse order, had the same backpacks, same boots, and were reading the same book.

Second ephiphany was when I was in Penang, Malaysia and I ran into some chick at 3am over pancakes who pretended to be my friend Ashley Cornelius. Out of all the people in Malaysia to be at that one pancake spot, I was probably the only person who could call her out as being a total liar!

Ok, so the third event happened when I was in Singapore. One day I was walking around on the street near my hostel, just doing my thing and I come across these two chicks that look familiar. We pass eachother, and then look back. I really know that I had seen them before, but I couldnt remember where. Well, I kept going but I was hoping to see them again so I could ask them. The next morning I woke up, and went downstairs to cook my eggs and there they were! I Knew where I had seen them – it was in Ecuador. No shit, when I was in Ecuador nearly dying of salmonella we shared the same dorm in Quito!!! Then a few days after that we climbed Mt. Cotopaxi!!!! Seven months after Ecuador, we somehow reunited in Singapore. It was really weird. We laughed about what we called “flight of the condor” which was when we were in Ecuador I got so excited about condors that for every picture I would make them take a picture as if they were condors. So we did one last flight, and then I boogied out back to KL.

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Flight of the Condors!!!

I was supposed to fly from KL to Perth, but when I got to the airport for my flight it turns out I bought it for one month later than I was supposed to so I had to get on the next days flight. I was short on cash, so I just slept in the airport with all these really dodgy Vietnamese guys who were bringing about 18 sex slaves back home and who were trying to pickpocket me every 5 minutes even after I went into the inside of a sleeping bag to protect my pockets.
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About four days later I got to Perth, and immediately got smashed with my buddy Johan. Johan and I traveled for a month and a half in Asia, and he was doing his thing in Perth so I figured I better see what its like. Perth is the most isolated city in the world. Sitting on the west coast of Australia, there is literally nothing around it. It has some really sweet beaches, all of which have free barbeques which means that every night we would get 10 or 15 people together get wasted and bbq.

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At 3AM I found this guy in the subway with a Dinosaur BBQ shirt, and we totally laughed it up. He was so happy to hear what it was. He bought it at salvo....

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Rotness Island, Western Australia - This place is sick!!!

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RI

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The aussies get so pissed, even on the battlefield they enjoy a nice bevvy every now and then!

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Scarborough beach, Perth - this place is sick!!! If you ever hit Perth, you need to BBQ and drink there every single day.

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Again

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Do it like this!!!

After Perth, I headed out to New Zealand which is my final stop on the trip. I am in the process of getting settled and am looking for work. My buddy Jim Cullen, brother of nutjob Bill came to Auckland, and we hung out for a few days. He was travelling Oz/NZ for a few months, and was really into my blog - so this beer is for you Jim!
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Cool bird in Rotorua

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Weird thermal baths that smell like dirty diapers in Rotorua

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My plant...

I wish that I had a more interesting end to such a long chapter in my life, but thats all that I can come up with right now. As I was going along this amazing trip I would always try and think about how I would end my blog, and I never imagined that the day would actually come.

A lot has happened since I left the good ol US of A. The world has seen a lot of change, as have I. Some of my friends I ring back home dont recognize me on the phone – I cant say if that is necessarily a good or a bad thing, but it for sure is a thing. My 401k has shit the bed real hard, and my president is black. It will be interesting to see what the next 9 months have in store....

I dont really have any special words of wisdom, but I will say that you should cherish every moment in life as if it is special. Dont settle for the mundane, dont let life pass you by, and for sure dont ever get roofied in Cuzco (or so I hear...). This world we live in is an amazing place. You would have to be a fool for missing out on all it has to offer.

I have done my best to try and ease the negative stereotype that all of the world shares against Americans. I try and understand and let them know that as an American citizen I am not such a son of a bitch like Bush and his drinking buddies. We actually have souls, and arent as shitty as a majority of the others you meet out on the travel trail.

Compassion, understanding, and tolerance is what its all about in this world and I have tried to do my part.

I really want to thank each and every one of you for your support and patience with some of the longer blogs. Its been a hell of a ride, and I hope that you enjoyed reading.

I also would like to thank all my travel partners:

Nir, Itai, Raz, and Noa from Bocas
Flight of the Condor girls (Emma and Huelwen)
Christian Capper
Catherine Dumont
Clemens Sproll
Natalie Rivero (sos mi chancho preferido)
Ashley Cornelius
Lisa and Tilde from safari
Emma and Georgina (you gals are rockstars!!!)
Chris Nancrede
Clancy and Danae Gardner
Johan Van Ophem
Tim Dougill and Gareth Tantrum (Dont worry, I slept with your moma boys!)
Kylie Agraval
Flight of the Condor girls again!!!
Johan Van Ophem 2.0!!!

PS: Watch a lot of flight of the chonchords. Its absolutely amazing.

Firsts:
time to south america
drinking with a 13 year old (he was the one buying me beers and giving me advice on women, dont worry!)
rafting a class 5 rapid
bungee jump
scuba diving
falling for a foreigner
grinding with a man, more specifically a ladyboy (oh well, jolly good fun regardless)
dancing to kumbia
going 14 days without a shower or changing clothes (himalayas will do that to you)
near death experience with salmonella

Peace out cub scout!!! till next time space warriors...
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Oh yeah, before I forget - I recently went to the beach, and something intrigued my me. It turns out it was a secret message written in the sand.....
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Posted by bejuan99 23:10 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Lets backtrack to Iran. Shall we? Part Deux

Last entry was too long so I had to split it up. If you are just seeing this one and havent read the first part on Iran, then read that part first.

Two more things I want to go into before I sign off. The geylyon and taroof. The geylyon AKA sheeshah in Arabic, AKA hookah, whatever you want to call it is a part of Iranian life. Kids use it as an outlet, a social gathering of sorts, and become experts in it. Everywhere you go you are within a spitting distance of a geylyon, tea, and dates. Its a great experience to share with someone, but whatever you do dont ask for a sheeshah in Iran. In farsi sheeshah means hashish which gets your hand cut off if you have some, so dont ask....

Ok, now onto taroof – this makes absolutely no sense to me and frustrates me. Taroof is the process of being overly kind. If you see a man on the street and he has bread and you ask him where he got it – he wont tell you. He will offer all of it to you, and tell you to take it. If you dont he will raise his voice. If you try three times and he is still in his same position you have to take it or you will offend him. The same goes for anything. Everything is free in Iran, or at least thats what you would think if you didnt know. Taxi drivers will tell you the ride is free, its on them. The hotel will be absolutely free because you are so kind. The food – shit, thats free too! You know its not so its only a game. The joke is if you go to buy something and they actually tell you the price. Most of the time the reaction is like “wait a minute, howcome your not going to taroof with me???”, like its offensive if you dont – its really funny.

My pop will tell you that Iranians are the biggest bullshitters in the world. They can talk and talk and talk – if you ever get invited to someones home they will talk till 4 in the morning without stopping about things you and I would consider worthless for discussion. But thats the Iranian spirit. They are passionate about everything – business, poetry, sports, life, the mountains, history, a beautiful girl, fruit, etc. and they love talking about it all. If you take a taxi, in all likelyhood you will hear about every single relative of the driver. He will go on to tell you about every single business transaction he has made in the past 20 years. He will then invite you to his house for tea to meet his family down to the third removed cousin. Its ridiculous! It makes me realize how cold we are in the states to strangers.

I will leave by sharing a wonderful saying I heard when I was over there – a wise man told me what he thought about the world, and summed it up by saying that Iranians have all the soul, but no freedom and that Americans have all the freedom but no soul. I really believe that...

Im in Singapore now, waiting for my Australian working visa to finish processing and then Im outtie 5000 to Perth. Australia has some of the most strict immigration policies in the world (next to the US). In case you didnt know it, the entire world wishes they were in the US, but we really let in only the smallest fraction. In all corners of this planet people have a burning desire to be in the US, but little do they know its not all that they imagined. I guess thats the way its been working for the past hundred years or so going back to the immigrants that came to Ellis Island. They were treated like shit, their careers disregarded, and were forced into decrepid housing. One hell of a paradise! The message is though that most of you reading didnt have to even lift a finger to be given a gift that has allowed you to live such a comfortable life. Dont take it for granted!

Im crying here because I have to fill some forms for oz, but at least I have a shot. Most folks who dream to come to America will never be able to.

Random pics:
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Outside the Golestan Palace. This place was built a few hundred years ago as a guarded place where the Qajar King could keep his harem safe. He had a few hundred wives in this place! PIMPS UP - HOES DOWN! (thats a movie, and you should watch it....)

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Inside the bazaar. They were giving out free food for anyone who wanted it.

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This is where superman comes from

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Me and the old man at dinner with mohandes (engineer) Rahimi and his family. For some reason I look like him in this picture... not happy about that one.

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My pop the politician, and mohandes Rahimi – this guy spoke like 4 words of english but was all laughs throughout the day.

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Mountains of Karaj, about an hour and a half outside Tehran. My fam used to own an orchard near here.

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I dont heart snow!

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View from one of the many parks just outside Tehran. In the summer its a great place to hangout and cool off and enjoy the fresh air.

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View of mosque by the Tehran bazaar. The country is run by a few people who control the bazaar. You can buy anything in there. My pop used to sell thousands of tons of raw materials to make anything in there.

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The street during Ashura which is the holy time that Shiite muslims remember the death of Imam Hossein in the battle of Karbala 1,400 years ago. Men carry large metal thingamajigs on their shoulders, and the others beat themselves with chains. The pain is supposed to be a reminder of Hosseins suffering. I remember they used to do it with swords, and would bleed all over the place but I didnt see any of that these days. They also slaughter sheep in the streets, and give out free food.

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Funny mairrage ceremonial table with all the necessary offerings. All tradition.

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Designed by a woman... use a little imagination guys.

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This is the Azadi Tower in Tehran. Its famous for being the scene of demonstrations. It was designed by Farah, the Queen and wife of Shah Pahlavi.

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Tehran skyline – huge mountains in the background. Tons of traffic, high rises, and cement factories (although not so evident in this picture).

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Cool pic of guard trying to keep warm

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Pics of green palace of Shah. The room with all the mirrors took 11 years to complete, and looks like they spent 10.99 years too long – looks tacky as hell to me.

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I love Hinds! This one flies with an Iranian flag, but was captured during the Persian Gulf war. About 65% of the Iranian air force today was aquired when Iraqi warplanes flew over the border to escape coalition bombing during Gulf War I.

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These legs are from a bronze statue that once stood of the Shah. Similar to that famous scene when the big statue of Sadaam was toppled in Baghdad the same happened in Iran in the 70s.

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My pop with the US ambassador to Iran. He is a pretty affluential guy and has met John Rockafellar, Ahmedenijad on more than a handful of occasions, Khatami, and about every major minister in the govt. He holds fond memories of when the US was in the country and cherishes this photo.

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Darya styling my shades. She is such an alligator!

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On my way out of Tehran I was having a string of bad luck. I couldnt find a hotel for anything under $120, and I was down on my luck sitting in the lobby of this one place trying to figure out what to do. I saw some white dudes and started talking to them. These Russian tourists then took me in, gave me the hotel room they were in (they were leaving at 1AM), and then we drank homemade Russian hooch (90%) they snuck into the country and smoked a geylyon. These guys were cool. Now I have a hookup for when I head to Moscow!!! They told me its really expensive and shitty to go unless you know someone. Free hotel room, free booze, free geylyon - WIN, WIN, WIN!!!!

I have to be careful what I say because I might get in trouble for writing some of this so if you don't hear from me, Ive probably been snatched up by the Iranian popo!

This one is long. Sorry, but I have a lot to say. Later - B

Posted by bejuan99 03:52 Archived in Iran Comments (0)

Lets backtrack to Iran. Shall we?

Get ready for a major history lesson!

Alright, so finally I have to write about Iran. I hadnt been there in 13 years, and when I was in Africa I tried to go but it didn't work out so I gave it a second go when I was in Thailand. I went through all the nonsense you have to go through to get a passport renewed, but it was a little more complex because I had an exemption from military service that I had to make sure was in line before I left. Otherwise I would have been arrested in the airport and forced to dig ditches in the desert for two years. Ive never been a fan of conscription.....

So I headed out from Bangkok to Tehran via Doha. Im think im becoming an expert in that place. On the plane to Doha I got really loose on red wine, and was bored and I saw a good photo opportunity in the bathroom, so I had some fun. God knows what people thought I was doing, but I got the photos I wanted. In the end I looked like that guy from the James Gandolfini special about wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. Konko, you know what Im talking about.

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From the minute I landed it was a far cry from what I remember from my last trip. There was advertising of modern brand name clothing, there was a coffee store, and other little details that made me feel like its changed. Then when we hit the parking lot I saw more than one type of car. That was unheard of back in the day (more on this later)!!!

Ahhh, the Islamic Republic of Iran. The freest country in the world according to Ahmedenijad! So free in fact that you can do anything you want – that is unless you drink alcohol, own porn, show your ears if you are a woman, own a dog, talk bad against the government, own western movies, have premarital sex, practice the Bahai religion, support Israel, have a party with boys and girls, or wear boots if you are a woman – because all those things are illegal!

I wanna start off by mentioning that I am sure you have many stereotypes in your head about Iranians. They may include images such as these:

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propoganda on blood and fire in Gaza
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Well – you can throw all those stereotypes out the window because if anyone has at least one eyeball they would be able to see that the country is nothing like the propaganda that smears the world headlines. Im pretty sure if you had zero eyeballs you could figure out the same kinds of things, but definitely not with negative eyeballs – that just wont work (sorry – oh wait you have negative eyeballs you cant read!). The voice of the Iranian people is muffled over by the loud and ostentatious leadership of the nation which has its own agenda by sending such messages to the world. Most of it is laughed at by the citizens, and none of them take it serious. They think its funny, but there isnt anything they can do because of the way the government is set up and the way the police is run.

As a matter of fact, if you ask the people where is their favorite country (besides Iran) they will all tell you the US of A. Yeah, they dont like Bush – but then again who did??? All the people in the world realize that its not bad people that make a country bad, its bad politicians. America is no different.

If you did go through all the rigamaro and one million dances to get there, then you will find the people warm and friendly (almost too much! - more on this later), and have experiences more like this:

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Typical 16 course meal at an Iranian household.

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Everywhere we went there was food. We stopped to look at this mountain, and next thing I knew obgusht (traditional meal), tea, and sweets were shoved in our face. Oh yeah, you are disgracing them if you don't try it, so you have to eat.

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What a wonderful family. I dont remember all their names, but the daughter is Rayhoney, then Mohammed, and the young boy is Ali. The little girl is Layla.

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Me and Daryas pop sit down for some chai and jokes about Rockefellar

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We lit candles for Ashura (neither Darya or her friend knew what the exact rationale for the ceremony was), then in protest of not being able to walk in certain streets because the girls were wearing boots we burned this box. Those boots they are wearing are illegal.

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Getting silly in the palace

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This is Darya, my pops secretary. I hung out with her most of the time I was there, and she really helped me get around. She brought me flowers to welcome me to Iran, and when her pop said she couldnt meet me at the airport she cried. She had never met me before, but that is their level of hospitality.

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Lunch with out cab driver. He looked really gay in the other picture I had, so I used this one. As always, way too much food.

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Old man with moon in background

So lets start out with fact and fiction.

1)Fact - Iranians are not Arabs! As a matter of fact they in a certain sense look down on them as not being able to get their act together, and for being dirty. Arabic and Farsi are two totally different languages, and are in no way similar. The word, Iran, actually means “Land of the Aryans”. Aryans are the name of people who practice the Zorasrian religion. Iranians were originally Zorastrian, the world’s first monotheistic religion, and following the invasion they were forced to adopt Islam. Zorastrianism has probably had more influence on mankind either directly or indirectly than any other religion.

2)Fact – Iranians poo in a hole in the ground. But then again, so does 90% of the world so that is nothing new. Oh yeah, they also dont use toilet paper. In every bathroom there is a hose that hangs from the wall. You are expected to maneuver the hose with the left hand and wash with the right. You have to do all this while standing and make sure you dont get water on you at the same time – its quite a challenge. The right hand is therefore considered dirty, and you should NEVER take food with the right hand. This also is done all over the world. It is viewed as being a more thorough way to clean yourself than good ol TP. The hose is most of the time the only option because TP is either not available or is too expensive for the people to afford. In the 10% of the world that uses toilet paper, 90% of that 10% dont have proper sewage systems and the pipes cant handle tp so you have to ball it up and put it in a bin in the corner of the loo which is damn gross in itself. Sounds gross, but that's how the world works. Of course, the wealthy install western-style toilets in their homes and do have toilet paper but thats a small fraction of the world. So next time your sitting all comfortable on your throne reading the paper thinking about how grand life is, or how fast that Kennedys is flowin through your system imagine squatting with a hose and wiping your ass with your hand - yeah bud, youve got it made!


3)Fact – Iranian women make the best wives. Sike!!! Haha, that's what my pop keeps trying to convince me so the running joke was that when I was there he was going to take me to the wife shopping mall. Iranian women are very considerate for their men to say the least, and never complain. When the man comes home they have a tea ready and give him a massage. I view them as having no soul....

4)Fact – I have seen more American flags burned in Peru than in Iran (total = 1). The people have a heart bigger than anyone of you can imagine, and have no interest in hating Americans.

5)Fact – Dont fuck with Iran!!! Dems some tough S.O.Bs as Bush would say. He was too scared to attack, and Israel cant do it alone. During the Iran Iraq Qar with no weaponry mass waves of tens of thousands of teenagers at a time (name is Basij) would attack the Iraqi front lines with nothing more than sharpened sticks to defeat the enemy and capture their weapons. Nobody knows the exact numbers, but thousands were mowed down by machine gun fire during the attacks. Oh yeah, and they did that all while suffering from biological and chemical attacks supplied free of charge by our kind Uncle to Sadam Hossein. Oh yeah, and when they werent being shot to pieces or gasses they cleared minefields by walking through them chanting prayers about the battle of Karbala and Imam Hossein (martyrs). Thats one hell of a way to spend puberty!!! At the end of the day you can sleep good tonight knowing the bill was picked up by you – the US taxpayers. I have seen the damage done to the survivors. Its horrendous. Mustard gas is by far the most horrible invention I can think of.

6)Fact – Even if Iranians were pissed at the US (they are not) its not like they don't have every right to be. In the good ol days the CIA overthrew Mossadeq, the nations first democratically elected president. The nation was robbed of its oil at rockbottom prices, and the Shah was forced to buy armaments while the poor starved. Nowadays the trade embargo has put a damper on the economy. Id be pissed too! As a matter of fact I give them credit for not being pushovers.

7)Fact – Even though it is an Islamic Republic (the only one in the world) not many people are religious. They have to follow the rules, but a lot of people dont go to the mosque, dont believe the hejab (head covering) is necessary, etc. Of course there are still a lot of people who would be considered conservative, but dont get the idea that everyone carries an AK in the name of Allah....

8)Fact – Many of the worlds greatest poets come from Iran. Ferdowsi, Hafez, Sa'di, Ohmar Khayam, Rumi, etc... all reign supreme in the world of poetry. My name, Bijan, comes from a poem in an ancient book (1,000 years old) called the Shanameh by Ferdowsi about a prince named Bijan and a princess named Manijeh (my sisters name). The Shanameh is the national epic and was written around 1000AD when the Persian language and history was being threatened with extinction because of the Arab Invasion. It alone has been the one item that is credited with keeping the Farsi language alive when Arabic was becoming the universal language of the region. The Shanameh is reveered by Iranians, and almost every household has a copy. Ancient Iran used to center around poetry. Men would go to a local hangout, smoke the geylyon, drink tea and one man would read poetry as the others listened. I think it is this fascination with poetry that gives Iranians such a philosophical outlook on life.

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9)Fact – Caviar from the Caspian Sea is the best in the world. The Caspian Sea which is the worlds largest lake has the best conditions to raise sturgeon. Their numbers are dwindling, and so the price of the black gold is going up. Get it while its hot!!! Oh yeah, so the pistachios, saffron, and dates (not the female kind!) are also world class.

10)Fact – Iranian hospitality is so over the top they will bend over backward in ways you have never seen to make sure you are happy. Just as an example if you go to someones home and you tell them you like their carpet they will start to move the furniture aside and pack it up and give it to you to take home! If you tell them their daughter is beautiful they will make sure you meet all three of them so you can have your pick! And the list goes on....

11)Fact – If you go to an Iranian home you will not leave until 1) you have eaten more than you did for the previous month (I can guarantee they will ensure this), and 2) you will hear about everything under the moon about what is happening in life, they sing to you, or you dance.

12)Fact – Booze is illegal, and so are night clubs. Shit, thats a bad fact! I should mention that people do anything in the privacy of their homes and generally don’t get caught. Secret satellite dishes bring in Western TV stations, the youth recreate discos, bars, and night clubs in their basements, and booze is transported in opaque gas cans. Many people make wine in their own bathtubs!

13)Fact – I saw snow when I was there and didnt like it. Didnt like it at all. Never living in a snowy place again.

14) Fact – Iran has the largest population of Jews in the Middle East outside of Israel. Jews have lived and practiced their religion in Iran for thousands of years and continue to do so. There are also Persian Jews scattered throughout the world, especially in Great Neck, NY where there are so many, they form little rivalries based on the town in Iran they came from. For example, the Tehrani Jews know exactly who the Mashadi Jews are, etc. There also are Christians in Iran. The days of non-muslims being looked at strangely are gone. When my pop wanted to work in the US consulate in Esfahan when he was in his 20s my grandma no kidding told him this "those people have blue eyes. Do you know what they will do to you? The people with blue eyes who dont believe in Islam will kill you and turn your body into oil!!! Do you want that?" That was the attitude for a while, but we all know that people from the US dont kill you and turn you into oil. We just kill the people and then steal their oil (or at least that has been the agenda of the govt as of recently, we will see about the future). Apparently they havent figured out the part about how to turn a corpse into oil, but as twisted as it sounds she was almost right.

I hope you liked that section. I used the Rick Vanness syle of fact stating which knocks em dead every time...

So Tehran has seen a lot of change in recent years, and its pretty clear. The skyline is growing, the span of the city spreading, and the culture is becoming westernized. The rules for the hejab which is the traditional covering of women have loosened to the point where I was almost going up to girls telling them to raise it on their head for fear theyd get arrested. I saw someone with a lip piercing which is another thing that I could never have imagined. Young people have sex (from all I can tell probably more than me and you). Crystal meth (they call it glass) is wreaking havoc on the youth, and the youngsters are so materialistic that unless you have a beamer you don't have any luck scoring a girlfriend. They are addicted to text messaging, trendy clothes, and listen to techno music (also illegal). Almost everybody young has been to jail for breaking the rules. Its not a jail, its more like a detention center where you go if you break the Islamic codes. If you go there a Mullah (religious leader) will give you some sort of a verbal punishment and lecture, and then you have to get picked up by your parents. For everybody who has been, they laugh at this and think its an absolute joke.

All that being said, the people of the country hold themselves in the highest manner and despite all that still act in what we would consider to be a conservative manner. I just mention all those things to give examples that they face the same issues we do in the states, or in any modern country these days.

There are little to no tourists in Tehran, and the numbers for the whole country are pretty dismal at best. If you are from the US, you might as well give up before you start. To get a visa takes something like 90 days and is a real pain in the ass. For other countries its not much better. As a matter of fact when I went to get my passport renewed in Bangkok the embassy there was really of no help – and Im a citizen! They have a goal to get 20 million tourists by 2020, but thats not going to happen. There are some package tourists that visit the more historical parts of the country (Shiraz, Mashad, Esfahan, Persepolis, etc.), but I cant say much about it. I think Russians have a pretty easy time getting a visa because so many come there for business.

As a matter of fact, when you are in Tehran there are so few outsiders that you are looked at as a bit of an oddity. People stare at you, and secretly listen to what you are saying, and always want to understand why you came to Iran. In my opinion they wonder why you came because they have such a negative self image of their country they cant understand why anybody would want to come, which is a shame.

The youth have a real problem with their country. They are upset that a country with so much culture, so much history, so much resources (2nd largest reserves of oil and gas in the world) that they are not in a more prosperous situation. They are upset by all the restrictions and laws placed on them by the government, and want to live free. Additionally there is very little opportunity for the youth jobwise. Almost everyone I met was an some sort of an engineer, or had a business degree (or both), but they had administrative type jobs that couldnt use their potential. For all these reasons the youth are jumping ship and see living abroad as their only hope. Thats not to say that they dont love their country – just the opportunities and living conditions are better elsewhere. Its putting a real brain drain on the country as well. The embassies in Tehran fight over the most educated and give them free visas, free education, and compensation packages because they know what good citizens Iranians make and what kind of contributions they can make.

The pollution in Tehran (17 million peeps) is some of the worst in the world. Something ridiculous like 10,000 people a year die because of it. They have a new metro system that is running in a limited capacity and is only just beginning to help things out. Part of the reason its so bad is because the city is surrounded by the Elborz mountain range which keeps it all the smog locked in that one area. Its absolutely gross, and I don't know how people don't think anything of it.

So what I was saying before about there only being one kind of car – thats entirely true. Fifteen years ago there was literally only one car company – Paykan. These son of a bitch cars were such poor quality, and are so inefficient that everybody hates them. Being the only national car manufacturer you would go onto the street and it would be nothing but white Paykans. It was almost like an episode of the twilight zone. Every once in a while you would see a black or yellow one if you were lucky. Last time I was in Iran me and my pop road tripped to the Caspian Sea, and this god damn paykan broke down at 4 in the morning and we had two push it for two hours! Today they are being phased out. Its kind of a love hate relationship we share, and so I told everyone I was going to buy a Paykan and put a nice motor in it and nice wheels. Thats the new goal. Pimp my Paykan!!! A majority of the taxis are still Paykans, and im pretty sure in the countryside they will last at least another few millenia.

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There is a trade embargo of US goods on Iran. You cant find a single thing from the US there. My pop buys cheap shirts from Old Navy and gives them out as gifts because the people hold them in such high regard. If you wore an Old Navy shirt with a big logo on it you would get all the chicks. Last time I was there I had a small American flag on my shorts and I had to cover it up and destroy them for fear of what would happen if the police saw. Its a funny world.

The US Navy – with MH-60R helicopters sits out in the Persian Gulf making sure no US goods go in there, make sure the oil comes out of all the Arabian countries, and when they get bored they shoot down civillian airliners. Oh yeah, if the details are a bit fuzzy let me refresh your memory. In 1988 a US guided missile cruiser sitting in the Persian gulf (straight of Hormuz) in Iranian waters shot down an Iranian airliner flying in Iranian airspace immediately killing all 293 on board. During congressional testimony the crew maintained that they interpreted the airliner as an attacking (RIAF) F-14 fighter. It was during a time of war (Iran vs. Iraq), so tensions were high but I still dont see how you could mistake an F-14 with an airbus A300.

One thing about Iranians and their long history with many notable highs and lows is that they NEVER forget. I mean, NEVER. When Ahmadinejad wrote President Bush two years ago, in his 17-page letter he wrote about the 1953 Mossadeq overthrow and things from years ago that would probably never be in the mind of an American. I’ve asked Americans who lived through the Cuban Missle Crisis, for example, what it was like and some can’t even remember it happening. Some criticize us for being too short sighted. On the other hand, Iranians never seem to let go and many live in the past still thinking of their country as if it’s the days of the Persian Empire which ended over 1500 years ago. Like they met Alexander the great personally, and dined with Genghes Khan. They know the whole history inside out.... Who got a bj in the oval office again - I forgot???

I was supposed to be born and raised in Iran. My sister was born there in 1979 just a few months into the revolution without a US embassy and it was a bad time. They were killing Americans in the streets, accusing them of being spies. Then the war broke out with Iraq and all hell broke loose. There was missile attacks in Tehran, and Esfahan that nearly took our family out. Both times (1979 and around 84) we were in the bazaar, and the missiles came too damn close. Well anyways, my pop somehow figured a way to smuggle my mom and sister out and they vowed to live in the states.

For those that don't know, Iran in the 60s and 70s was under rule of a king – Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. He was a forward thinker, and westernized Iran and did away with a lot of the traditional Islamic rules. He was in bed with the US, and was purchasing a hell of a lot of armaments and was selling the countries oil at rock bottom prices. That said, he was viewed as neglecting small farmers and large capitalists alike, but exploiting the country’s resources to cozy up to the West. Many of these farmers and merchants alike went on to become revolutionaries overthrowing the Shah. In any case, with all the rapid modernization Iran was well on its way to becoming a force to be reckoned with on the global playing field. Thousands of Americans lived in Iran, and champagne and caviar flowed through the streets. It was a time of real prosperity. As a matter of fact, Telephonics QE Kirt Weik (sorry if I misspelled) lived there at the time for a handful of years under the Shah working as a liaison for Grumman when we sold Iran E-2s in the 70s. His opinion as an outsider is that he has absolutely nothing but good things to say about the country and the people.

Well, the people were pissed at such rapid change and in 1979 they initiated a coup and threw out the Shah and brought Ayatollah Khomeini out of exile and to put him to power as the supreme leader. At the time the new regime considered the US embassy to contain a “nest of spies”, which is warranted considering that in 1953 the CIA popped its cherry when they were sucessful in their first coup to overthrow the then democratically elected Prime Minister Mossadeq. So the new leadership allowed a contingency of university students to hold the embassy hostage. Fifty two US diplomats were taken hostage for 444 days, which eventually led to the defeat of President Carter in the 1980 presidential election. When Reagan took office, all the hostages were released.

During the hostage situation a unit of Delta Force soldiers developed a plan to fly into the Tehran soccer stadium with special fitted C-130 cargo planes and CH-53 helos to rescue the hostages and then fly out. Well, Operation Eagle Claw was a complete disaster when in a sandstorm well south of Tehran three helicopters crashed making the mission impossible. The CIA agents in Tehran were compromised, and the US was terribly embarrassed.

When the revolution came, those who were considered loyal to the Shah were killed. Those loyal to the revolution (really called the Islamic Revolution) were jailed, tortured, and killed by SAVAK (anti sabotage secret police). More on this later....

So since then the country has been run by religious clerics. Its probably the same situation that the US was under before we ensured the separation of church and state. I don't know about you, but if our prime minister was Billy Graham I'm not so sure Id be a happy camper!

They have a parliament and a president but these really hold little weight compared to the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Khamenei (the successor to Khomeini). Whenever you go to a government office you will see pictures of Khamenei and Khomeni. Its hard to miss their intimidating powerful stares. In order to be a mullah (and eventually Ayatollah) you have to study at the theology school in Qom, a few hours outside Tehran. Then you will have the tools to be sucessful in Iranian politics. If you look at all the Iranian presidents (sans Ahmedenijad) you will notice they dress in a traditional robe with a turban. Those guys are mullahs. Ahmedenijad never went to theology school, and therefore doesnt wear the holy garments but instead opts for more casual attire (for which he has been criticized). He is a religious conservative however and this allowed him to become prez. Before Ahmedenijad was Khatami who was still a religious man, but was seen as being too liberal so he wasn't re-elected. When Ahmedenijad took office, all the liberal movements of Khatami were immediately reversed.

The mullahs are the ones that run the country, and therefore are the ones who brunt the attacks at how the country is behind but nothing will ever happen. The people in power will ensure they do everything possible to stay there. This paranoia dates back to the days of the Shah and SAVAK, and will in all likely hood never go away. Random house raids, wire taps, etc are commonplace and are accepted as everyday life. Be careful what you say and who you say it to – those are the rules. You never know if somebody is going to talk with you about the government as if they are the opposition and then the next minute throw you in jail. For these reasons nobody talks politics.

My pop and I have a pretty non existent relationship, so I figured hanging out with him on a tour of Iran would be pretty cool, but I had to cut it short for a bunch of reasons. When I left Darya and her mom felt bad for me, so they saw me off by taking me out for cheeseburgers and a geylyon!

These next pictures highlight what my pop does best....
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Looking around smiling
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Pointing at something interesting, and explaining how he knows about it. Then finding all the flaws with it and explaining how to do it better next time. Its amusing. Everywhere he goes he gives all the advice in the world about how to do shit better. Like a commander doing an inspection.
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Then giving advice for two hours on what to do in life to everyone around who will listen including taxi cab drivers, ice cream salesmen, waiters, gas station attendants, etc...

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“Hey, taxi driver – come back here, I need to explain how I am the man and you should listen to me because I know better...”. This sequence of jokes doesnt sound funny but if you knew the man youd be wetting your pants.

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"That over there, yeah - thats a real piece of shit!!! Haha, what a fool was the man who made that!!" Maybe thats a little out of context, but I made you laugh and that is whats most important!

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Farewells with geylyon

Continued in the next entry....

Posted by bejuan99 03:40 Archived in Iran Comments (0)

I boozed with an 83 year old dude last night!!!!

First of all - shoutouts to Frank Kesller's manager. Dont know who you are - but your a brother to me. A brotha from anotha motha.... Do me a favor bud - dont shitcan Frank if theres layoffs. Keep making those sauces and riding those bikes!!!

As you can imagine taking all these chicken busses and midnight trains I have a lot of time to think. Think about the future, the past, my family, friends, home, ex-lovers, current relationships, the time space continuum, nunchuck skills, Rolandos, etc... Ive had a lot to think about recently and a lot to reflect on. I dont know – I have more to say on this, but dont know how to put it to paper so maybe I will add more in this department in the next post. Its really important though so I want to make sure I leave it at the top.

We made 10,000 hits on the website! GO TEAM!!!! My original goal was 5k and when I made that then I figured 8k would be where Id hit the plateau (on a sidenote plateau is a very silly word). So thanks again for your support. I spent a lot of time on the website, and I think you have spent a lot of time reading and I think we all enjoy so its like a win, win, win!

I am sitting on the train right now heading to Malaysia and got an inspiration that I have to share with you. I dont think I have written a poem since I was about 4 but once I got started I couldnt stop. I suppose its the natural evolution Ive taken on this safari. First live out of a hobo sack, wear your clothes more days than anyone would image, become a pacifist and start writing poetry. Soon you will see me around a campfire with one of those mexican ponchos made of hemp talking about how Bush is an alien that smokes secret alien hash thats so strong it fuels the space shuttle. Please – if that ever happens, go to Michigan and open a savings account. Then take your free gun to the barber shop where you can purchase armor piercing ammunition with your elementary school ID and put a few in me like my name was Amadou Diallo! So here goes....

Im in love with a woman

Shes long and slender with a heart full of gold
Her skin is golden brown and always well moisturized

She goes to sleep when the sun comes up
Yet every morning she wakes before me with a smile
Throughout the whole day her energy is inviting and warm
I must be the luckiest man in the world!

Shes got gorgeous mountains up top
Down below her bush is enough to make a heart stop

My god, what a rush
Her taste, her smell, her touch!

Ive seen many like her in my day
But nothing can compare

Shes fair, gentle, and kind
And if you meet her she will blow your mind
She must come from heaven!

Its the type of love you cant get out of your mind
Its there with you all day – something you cant shut off
You need it like a pig his trough

We only spent a short time together but it feels like a lifetime
The train is leaving – this is it babe
We had one hell of a ride, one I will never forget

In the meanwhile I may be a bad man and be with others, but you will always be in my thoughts

I hope you can find it in your heart to let me back into your arms one day when the time is right

Im sorry – I have to go....

Her name is Thailand.... and yes, she only has one name like Seal or McGlovin...

From beaches and buckets to tigers and temples theres something for everyone. God do I love this place. Now pass me a Chang mange and lets write the next chapter!!!

Oh yeah, so I have told some people but some of you may not know that Im not coming back to my old life. Reliability Engineer level 2 Bijan Azmoodeh is going to have a go at life overseas. I cant get my heart set on exactly what I want to do, or where at but hopefully it will be somewhere warm! I have two days left before I want to leave so I still have 47.5 hours till I have to decide where to go.

Well, im coming close to the end of my trip and I really cant believe it! Its sad and terrible and awful all at the same time. I have had one hell of a run, and am grateful for everything that has happened – I truly have been blessed!

I still have to write about Iran, but maybe my next post will be from my new homeland!

Posted by bejuan99 01.17.2009 21:44 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Shit this place is nuts...

Ok, so I have to take a step back and go over the last part of Vietnam which included Sapa and Hanoi.

After chilling in Ha Long Bay for a couple of days me and Kylie headed out to Sapa on this damn train where they robbed us blind. What we got was nowhere near the service we payed for. I dont think I ever mentioned it before, but I would say that unless you watch yourself you really will be lost in Vietnam. Every step of the way they are out to take your money, rob or pickpocket you but at least they dont smash bottles on your head like in Thailand... But seriously, when you to to buy a bus ticket or you have an issue they will laugh in your face like “haha, stupid white man, if only he knew how much hes getting ripped off”.

A lot of countries have two tier pricing for nationals and foreigners, but in Vietnam its taken to a whole nother level. Oh yeah, and whenever you pay for something whatever you get in the end is always 4 classes lower. If you pay for first class your sleeping with the chickens, if you get the premier service you ride on the roof.....

Oh yeah, and when you book something with a tour agency they show you pictures of what you are paying for and they are photoshopped pictures of accommodation or trains in Europe, which have absolutely nothing to do with what you pay for. The country just recently opened the doors to tourists, so the infrastructure isnt there at all. Its a free for all, and in a poor ass country some greedy people are out to get theirs. Also, white people weren't the only ones getting the shaft – so were Malays, Singaporians, etc...

So when we got to Sapa we did a three day trek which through the hilltribes which was amazing. They do a similar deal in Chiang Mai in Thailand, but I think if you had the choice you should go ahead and do it in Sapa. First of all the town of Sapa is like an alpine resort. Old buildings which are the remnances of the French occupation make you feel like you are in Europe rather than North Vietnam. The terrain is mountainous, and it gets pretty cold at night as a result.

You could tell that when the French came they made their pretty little Alpine village, and kicked out all the locals to live on the periphery of town. So, just outside the village of Sapa is all these cool villages and the farther you go away from the town the cooler it gets. The mountainside as far as one can see has these really intricate terraces that hug the hills. I would imagine the only place like it in the world would be Denpasar or maybe something like that. Anyways, its really cool even though we went in the winter.

Funny enough, the year before it was so cold that 10,000 buffalo died.... Thats a lot of fuckin buffalos!!!! You could make a killing if you were the guy who handles frozen dead bufalos!!!

In and around Sapa are 6 or so different hilltribes who all have different customs and you can pick them out a mile away by their clothes. The most annoying are the Black Hmong tribe which suck teet and follow you every where you go until you buy one of their handicrafts.

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Basket full of polos

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These were the red hat women. They didnt hassle you to buy anything and therefore were my favorite

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Woman with singular polo

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I freakin love chanchos!

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Chancho y polo

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I really like this photo. This hilltribe is among my faves also... She wasnt trying to sell a damn thing.

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My type of place!!! Hell yeah!

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Suckfest...

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Then we saw this guy feeding his pig in the pig house. In Spanish we call this a chancho casa.

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Rare albino buffalo

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Then at night it was so cold we had to warm up so we drank rice whine from a benzene container. Or was it benzene from a rice whine container??? I for sure couldnt tell the difference.

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Pig taking a piss...

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Me and Kylie at a waterfall. The day before some cockass lost his footing and slipped and fell down this huge ass waterfall and got really hurt. What a cockass!!!

Then there was Shona... We met this cool woman who was an absolute riot!!! I told her I would buy her a beer if she would give me one of her bracelets, and then she went on about her husband how she doesnt like beer and next thing you knew we were carrying her basket and chilling in her shack of a house. She was honestly my favorite person in all of Vietnam, and was super funny.

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I love this woman! Her eyes are closed, but thats the face she made when I told her I really like beer. Hillarious!

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In order to get to her house you have to walk .5km on this tiny little walkway on the edge of the terraces.

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Cribbo

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Living room

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Children. One had an infected hand which was swollen like a grapefruit. It was the dirtiest thing I had ever seen, and they didnt have any medicine. It was disgusting..

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Then there was the daughter who was really beautiful and could speak perfect english for never studying. She too had an infected foot that was so swollen she couldnt walk. No medicine at all (we were in the middle of nowhere), and im pretty sure if she continued on she would lose the foot.

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Water Mill son!!!!

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Cool waterfall

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Me with flamboyant hilltribe scarf

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Peace in the Middle East!

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Oh shit yeah... then I found this dead snake and was throwing at people. It was a sign from Buddha, before I left Vietnam I would drink the blood of a snake!!!!

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Then I bit his head off Ozzy Ozbourne style... Sike!!!!

Unfortunately something like only 70% of children go to elementary school and then something like 45% of kids go to high school. A majority of them are left to fend for themselves as the parents do one thing or another. The rest are forced to beg from foreigners by their families.

I wanted to seperate out these ones into a seperate collection all about the Vietnamese children. I love dirty poor children! I hadnt seen any since Nepal, so it felt good to see them again...

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This guy was destined to be a traffic cop. He has had a lot of practice with buffalos! Achtung!!!

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Ok, you can go Mr...

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We gave these children Oreos which was hillarious because they didnt know what they were. They had never seen anything like this before so they smelled it and were totally confused. One of them threw it away. I think it was the 5 year old on the right with the Tiger beer. None of these kids went to school.

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Then there was this three year old who was playing with a big old harmless butcher knife

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Crack kills!

Then we went back to Hanoi, went to the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh who died in the late 60s. It was really creepy, but he looks in good shape. God knows what the hell they did to him, but the 15 soldiers guarding him damn sure wouldnt allow any photos. Sorry : (

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Then we headed to his home. The French had an amazing governmental palace, but of course as a communist he decided to live a more simple life. He had a house that had two rooms, two telephones, and a steel helmet and that was about it. The most simple of abodes.

Then I lived out my dream. Some of the weird stuff I have eaten on this trip I had seen on that tv show called weird foods, and there was one that I knew I had to do – the cobra blood. I cant remember much of the episode that I saw, and I had no idea what to do but I gave it my all and it payed off in the end. If there was two things I really wanted to do in SE Asia it was 1) to shoot a rocket or RPG, and 2) drink snake blood.

So I fucked up with the rocket. I waited to see if it would be cheaper in Vietnam than Cambodia, but they didnt have it (maybe it was there, but I didnt try all that hard because I was super low on funds). So with no rocket I knew I couldnt go home empty handed with the snake blood....

So when I was in the south I finally found someone who spoke english and had them write in Vietnames “I need to drink the blood of the snake with alcohol, this that and the other, etc etc...” or at least thats what I think it said. So I tried and tried and then tried again. I must have shown this damn piece of paper to 100 people asking where I can do it and everybody shrugged me off. They told me I was crazy, or just laughed at me, or just walked away and told me it was impossible.

I was getting discouraged, and literally on my last night in Vietnam I had a lead. There was no more time for bullshit – I had to do it. So me and Kylie took a taxi to some place we had no idea where and werent convinced it was right but it was as good info as we could get. So I take a million dongs and we rolled out to this shady ass place that was 10 minutes away from the main road – like the type of place where they steal your liver at..... They they tell us to go inside this building that looked more like a school than anything else. I showed my card to the woman and my picture of a snake, and then it was on.....

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We are getting warmer... but where is the good stuff???

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Even this little nasty creature was creepy

We walked over to a cage and we looked around. For 500,000 dongs I could get this snake and get 8 dishes with it. I was intimidated, but then my instincts kicked in. Fuck that – I didnt come to the middle of nowhere Vietnam to eat a baby snake – I want the big boy, I wanted the king of the jungle, I wanted a King Cobra....

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So then we went over to the cobra cage and they had this huge ass cobra. This fucker was probably 2.5 meters long!!! The biggest one at the shop. It was 800,000 dongs and since I was worried about having cabfare back to Hanoi I opted for the smaller cobra which was impressive enough for me.

Apparently this whole snake operation is meant for asian dudes who think their penis needs a boost. After all, I felt pretty confident in that department so I was ok with the smaller one.

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So then we picked it out of a sack of snakes and took it to the restaurant. We then went through this whole schpeil that rocked my mind.

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Astah La Vista Baby!!!

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First they took the poison from the fangs

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Then cut the fucking belly of this thing and seperate out the main artery.

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Then when you slice that the heart pumps and it shoots blood out into a cup of alcohol....

Then they cut out the heart and put it in a shot with alcohol
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Bottoms up suckas!!!
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Then came the tears... jk

Definitely not finished... Then they cut out the stomach and slice it to get the bile and mix that with alcohol.
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Then they take it to the kitchen and make 8 dishes out of it. Well some of the dishes were made of Cobra, and some of the small filler snakes so all in all we had 3 snakes, one of which was one of the smaller ones that they found dead in the cage when we showed up. I thought they were going to throw out the one that we found dead in the cage, but nope – we ate that son of a bitch!!!!

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Kyles with snake wine, her fave... Way better than any French bordeaux...

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And when its all finished – Voila! $40 USD later, and you have yourself two ice cold tall ones of Cobra blood and bile with the finest benzene, I mean rice wine....

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This place was mental, and I have their business card in case any of you would like to go. You can eat porcupine, monkey, cat, gecko, snake, turtle, etc. If you can think of it im pretty sure they have a way to give that to you could cook it up. Shit – if you wanted a T bone made from a unicorn Im pretty sure they could hook it up.

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Menu. I heard the chef really recommends alcohol prepared from venemous snake heads. Mmmm – I hear its all the rave in that new spot downtown. Appletinis are so yesterdays news – make way for snake head alcohol!

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Of course I had to make a friend in it. I drank with him because he looked like he needed help in the penis department.

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Uhhhh the blood was gross, but the bile was a million times worse.

Some of the dishes they had.... I give Kyles credit because she gave it a go and had some. My favorite was the barbeque cobra, then the ground snake, then the snake spring rolls, then snake soup, then the rest... Snake skin was fucking nasty. It was really rubbery and chewy and hard and slippery. The stomach wasnt bad, but the gross factor was about a 9.3.
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Mmmmmmmmmmmm – I shower in this shit. Jagerbombs!

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For christ sak they hade snake wine with a damn alligator in it!!! Anything is possible in Le Mat province....

On that note, im out of here. Later - B

Posted by bejuan99 03:45 Archived in Iran Comments (0)

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