Thursday, April 26, 2012

Next Stop: Adventure

About three years ago, my former Chief told me a few things about his experience in Afghanistan. He prepared for a rigorous trip packed w/ warfare and terror. What he hadn't counted on was a life-changing experience. He just hitched rides w/ various units, traveling across the land with his camera and documenting the beginning of the war in Afghanistan v2.0. The experience opened his eyes and mind. Says it changed the course of his life.

So he told me not to expect anything before I left for Cuba last year. I went high and right. I suffered for it too. Now I'm getting ready to head back out to my favorite places again, with some of my favorite people. But things have surely changed.

Some of these books are beat up because they got some heavy use on my previous trips to the region over the past three years. They opened up the fun and fascinating tips to get more out of the places the Navy takes me.

I found a custom sandal maker in Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat while visiting Cambodia.  I found the best trinket shops, massages, incense, temples and night life Thailand had to offer. I explored the intimate tie between the Philippines and US - and the stark contrast of life since the American departure there.

Now I have new adventures in new places. Hawaii. Okinawa. Vietnam. Indonesia. Malaysia. I've never been to these places. So I'm reading up.
Book after book and country after country, I'm finding the same story.

"despite many efforts to promote (insert SE Asian country) as a tourist destination in its own right - has little to offer apart from souvenir shops selling shells and some reasonable beaches outside town. It's a fast developing area, and the port has been upgraded to service the nearby industrial states." 

I'm jaded. It continues.

"The XXXX Navy has its principle base just outside town, and some 25,000 sailors make up the overwhelming majority for the town's inhabitants."

My previous trips to the region afforded me tons of freedom and latitude. It's incredibly difficult not to build expectations about what will and will not happen on my trip. Whether it's more of being in the back woods of a developing third-world country or Singaporean highrise condos - it will be an adventure. 

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