Monday, October 26, 2009

Blair, Obama, and Mr. Harper

Due to some excessive relaxing on Railay beach causing a lack of scandalous typhoid filled travel news, I decided to post a general rant about some general political happenings around the world that are close to my heart. As for a general update. Blair and our new friend Jason will be heading up to Ko Pha Ngan for the full moon party and Halloween on the 29th, then we will spend a few days in Ko Samui and a day or 2 in Bangkok for a bike tour.

First, Tony Blair as the 1st President of the EU! No! no! no! and a fourth and definite no! surely the European Union and its member nations could find someone with less ideological baggage than Mr. Blair to be its nominal first President. While on the surface, Blair seems like a sensible candidate for the position, having spent 10 years as Prime Minister of arguably Europe's most influential nation. His attempt to re-enter European politics is not only pathetic and shameless, but indeed quite sad. Blair is almost the last person the EU should want to see at the head of its organization. Someone who holds this position should bring credibility with fame and charisma, both characteristics Mr. Blair does not hold. As the co-captain of the Iraq war, he alike his partner in crime have yet to atone for their Iraq war sins, and with the global re-focus on the Middle East and relations between Arab nations and the rest of the world, is Tony Blair really the noble leader for a new peace in the Middle East, I think the answer is a resounding no. During his ten year reign at No.10 downing street, Blair has failed to keep GBR at the heart of European politics, instead his Iraq war follies have left him alienated from Germany and France. Blair has done little to reunite the European Left, instead many painful vestiges of Margaret Thatcher's era have yet to be rolled back. He has kept GBR out of the Euro, instead holding on to the diminishing prestige of the pound sterling. Having gone for world empire to global umpire has been hard to accept for most British nationalists, but I think its something that needs to be acknowledged rather than dragging out the last memories of empire through the 21st century. Blair's invovlement in the Iraq war will stick out as a sore thumb constantly questioning at his credibility and his decision-making process. The reason why he was able to commit GBR to war was his contempt for the views of others in his party and in Britain. Whether or not the position is a symbolic or influential one, it does not matter, the fact that it may be just for symbolic purposes makes this appointment more important. The leader must come with a sense of humility and modesty to be able to tackle important issues on a multi-lateral level, and I think Blair has proven to show none of the qualities of a great leader and should be relegated to retirement and the odd speech here and there. On another note, I hope the recent conference in Copenhagen can produce some real plans for tackling climate change!

Secondly, the issue of a nationalized health care in the United States is absolutely reaching ridicules proportions. An issue that is neither conservative or liberal is reaching a very heightened pitch for the wrong reasons. Rather than focusing on the issue that millions of Americans are without a health care plan, and that the current system of health coverage is simply not working, American conservatives are turning the issue of health care for all into a bash Obama session. Maybe many Americans don't deserve a charismatic leader like Barack Obama. Many like I do feel that Obama is a once in a lifetime leader, however real change also depends on the will of the American people. This isn't an issue that is Left, Right, or Center; it is about the willingness of one person to make sure that his neighbor, brother, sister, dad, mother, father, or significant other is being taken care of. It is absolutely absurd that the country that calls itself the most industrialized, civilized, and exceptional nation on earth cannot agree on a plan that would take care of all Americans. GBR has the NHS, Canada has health care for all, France and other industrialized European nations have health care coverage for its citizens so why can't the Americans figure it out? All comes down to the power of government, and I feel many Americans still re-visit the old Federalists vs. Republican argument of how much power should big government have? When it comes down to it, I rather have the government handling my claims than profit-driven HMO's who want to deny deny deny health coverage to rightful recipients. For their sake, I hope they come to their senses soon and end this hurtful partisan bickering. Also, congratulations to President Obama as the recent recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, a high honor in any regard. His commitment to international diplomacy and bridging gaps between people should be admired and followed.

Lastly, Stephen Harper please bring back Omar Khadr. For those who don't know this issue, please google it. I guess in the end you can't fix stupid, and that is what the Mr. Harper represents, backwards conservative politics that has no place in Canadian politics.

That's all the ranting for now, I'll revert back to travel blogging when the time comes to update. Hope everyone has been enjoying the blog so far, and that this senseless deviation into a political post won't turn anyone off. Being a political science and history student just gives you the urge to write and rant when possible.

Best wishes,
home in a month,
Johnny Wu

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I just got to Railay beach in Southern Thailand. After a long un-eventful boat ride from Phi Phi island, I've finally reached the rock-climbing capital of South-east Asia. We got to Railay yesterday pretty tired and hungry so we decided to stay in the first bungalow accommodations we found. It was only 300 bahts, but not surprisingly the front-desk person informed us that the price was going up after 1 night, claiming it was some tourist holiday. We met our friends Jason (Vernon, BC) and Adam (L.A) and we soon discovered that their place was much better. Although it was slightly more expensive, 500 bahts or 15usd, to our delight it has a TV, fridge, and a hot shower. We moved their this morning, and so far its been fine and dandy. It is nice to have a TV and a fridge, I watched a few sports highlights before mid day. Not much to report from Railay yet, I decided to take a personal day and finish my book before I lose it along with the other books I have lost. I'm currently reading Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" which is quite interesting. His book defined what is commonly known in the U.S. as the counter-culture and/or the beat generation, and it is interesting to see how his book influenced the rise in the counter-culture in the United States leading up to the Vietnam War. I've gotten over 150 pages into the book, and is finally getting into it. Being on the last half of my trip, I've been trying to find more private time for a bit of self-reflection. Railay is good for that, its quiet and less touristy than Phi Phi! Anyways I'm going to get back to my book, so far I have a planned hike and maybe some rock climbing tomorrow. Limestone Karsts make for a good climb!

Tah tah,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ko Phi Phi

Firstly, I had a great time traveling in Melaka, Malaysia. I met my new best friends Jason and Swiss who were travelling around the world, which I am highly jealous off. They are graduates from Purdue University and I wish them the best in their travels. It just proves it is never too late to go out and do what you want no matter where you are in life. I got to spend a decent few days with them in KL and Melaka, which made for an enjoyable time. However, I did not get to spend a proper amount of time in Malaysia, and I hope next time I'm there I would be able to tour the whole country. Malaysia has quite the cuisine and beautiful cities, and maybe one day I can take my Mom and Dad here, I think they would quite enjoy it. Nevertheless, I had to be on my way to Thailand!

Finally after an un-nerving 2hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket, I have finally settled in to write a quick blog post. I caught the red-eye flight from KL to Phuket on the 19th, which was perhaps not the best idea. I got into Phuket, Thailand at almost midnight and having never been to Thailand before and having no place to stay, I was a bit nervous coming in. I managed to find a place to stay for the night in my Lonely Planet manual, which told me to go to the Phuket hostel somewhere in old town. Obviously, I had to get the taxi driver that was completely new to the area and had literally no clue where to go. Although I had the address all written down, he still stopped at 5 different locations to ask for directions. At one point I thought he was going to drop me off at the side of the road and leave me to fend for myself. Thank god the latter didn't happen and eventually I arrived at the hostel at close to 1am. There were lots of people at the hostel to make me feel less nervous about being in a foreign country and having no idea what to do and look forward to. I felt a lot better after reaching in the hostel, there were other travellers to make me less tense.

I got in and bought my one-way boat ticket to Phi Phi island, which is where Blair was staying and I desperately just wanted to go there and meet him. My boat left at 7am in the morning, which proved to be far less dramatic than other boat rides in South-east Asia. The boat took a tad longer than expected, but reached Phi Phi nevertheless. I ran into Blair pretty fast, and he had already gotten us a room set up. Phi Phi island is considered one of the resort islands and therefore is a bit more expensive than the rest of Thailand. We have our room for 400bahts which is equivalent to 6-7$ us dollars each per night. This is my 3rd night on Phi Phi and so far its been amazing. Still trying not to catch anything after my Typhoid fiasco, I have been more careful with what I eat and drink. However, the food is quite pleasant and proper overall, quite spicy though. I plan on taking a cooking class when I reach Chiang Mai, so friends and family back home beware, Johnny Wu will be moving his new skills into the kitchen very soon. Tomorrow Blair and I are making our way to Railay, which is another beach in Southern Thailand. We look forward to rock climbing and snorkeling adventures when we are there.

As far as my Typhoid fever goes, I am nearly 100% and feeling much better than before. God it was miserable when I did have it. I'm glad to be out of Indonesia and into the last major country of my trip. The Thai people have been very nice and hospitable and overall we are harassed far less here than in Indonesia. The beaches here are stunning and there are plenty of holiday goers here. However, southern Thailand is quite expensive and we should be only staying here till the beginning of November, and moving our way to the North. Accommodations are not expensive in general, but food is, and we do eat a lot so its good to save when we can. Anyways, I will post again soon, I hope everyone back home is doing well. I got mildly home-sick for the first time awhile back and do look forward to coming home at the end of November. I miss clean beds, home-cooked meals, and the general conveniences of being back home. Until next time! bye for now.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Johnny Wu the Typhoid Kid

I am indeed still alive, after not blogging for ages I have finally found time and more importantly the good health that has eluded me for the last 12 days. So I left off after leaving the Gili's, which was a wonderful time and maybe I shouldn't have left because as soon as we got into our next destination that is when all the trouble started. We got to the town of UBUD 2 hours north of Bali central (Kuta Beach) UBUD is not known for much besides relaxation and basking in the culture their. UBUD is loaded with rice paddies, steep ravines, minor trekking, and its filled with Balinese culture. There were dances, shows, artisan shops, and craft shops to visit. They usually won't be pawning their regular souvenir tourist knock-off items but crafts that they actually made themselves and are selling at their store front. The food was interesting and definitely somewhat agreeable, a mixture of Indian and Balinese food. We travelled in a 4-some to UBUD, Blair and I met two wonderful ladies and we decided to all travel together during our time in UBUD before they headed down to Australia. Needless to say they provided outstanding company and enjoyment, and we had a very much the time travelling with them. Sally and Amy are off to Aus now so I wish them good luck in their travels their.

The problem started when Blair first got sick, I woke up one morning and Blair was literally immobilized to the bed, he couldn't move, all his joints hurt and he felt like he got a concussion. Possibly a mild form of dengue fever, but we aren't sure since we never went to the clinic to get it checked out. This lasted for a total of 3 days, then it was my turn to get sick, this time I got proper sick. I won't bore up with the gross details, but I felt absolutely nasty for the longest while. I couldn't move, my bones felt dead, joints were useless, and my brain was getting a heatwave not seen since Africa. I was lying in bed for a good awhile, it hurt to talk and I was a complete mess. Blair had to take care me for the first week, which was awesome to not be travelling alone and have someone take care of you when needed. We ended up wasting a lot of time in UBUD being sick and not doing much, which is quite unfortunate since there seemed like a lot to do there. We headed back to Kuta, so Blair could at least go surfing and I could go see a doctor.

We got to Kuta and I went to see the Doctor, which was more settling. Long story made short, I got diagnosed with Typhoid and a high fever. The former being more serious than the latter. I had to take a series of shots and medications, which I'm still taking. Determined to not let Typhoid hit me again! This comes to one of Johnny Wu's travel lessons, if the only lesson you get from me! Please please get your necessary shots before you leave for a long trip overseas. The process may seem tedious and slightly painful, but it is inexpensive and it saves you a lot of potential nightmares and hassles when you are overseas. I know people constantly say they didn't get them and they were fine, but every body reacts differently to different situations, and its seems silly not to get it when it can prevent so much undue headaches. Anyways on my next trip I will definitely get them, or I might even get a few in Thailand, which is known to have some good doctors kicking the can around.

As for now, we have left Kuta and I'm not back in Malaysia hanging out in the cultural city of Melaka till the 19th and I will be on my to Phuket to meet up with Blair. Melaka has been great, the food mostly. After recovering from Typhoid, I've had a voracious diet, so I've been feeding my face at a near alarming rate. O well, better than not eating.

I'll try to make a more detailed update on my plans soon, I know this isn't a lot, but having Typhoid doesn't give you a lot to write about. Cheers all, Thanks a million to my Dad! Mom! Peter! and friends for the support!

one love,

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Post-Quake happenings

As many of you have already heard, Blair and I are doing just fine after the massive 7.6 quake on West Sumatra in Pedang. So far we haven't been affected, we are pretty far south and out of the epicenter zone. I do send my deep condolences to the good Indonesian people of the Sumatra area, it seems like since 2004 they've had a run of brutal luck. Tsunamis, hurricanes, and earthquakes seem collect around that fault line, terrible terrible happenings. The plan was to go to North Sumatra (Banda Aceh) from Medan on the 13th and stay there till the 19th, but that plan has obviously changed. While the north was barely hit, it seems extremely innapropriate to go there other than for humanitarian purposes. Surfing and leisurly walks on the beach certainly do not qualify. So we are going back to Malaysia for 5 days then heading up to Phuket, Thailand. There is lots to do in Malaysia, and I felt we rushed our time their the first time around.

The plan now is to go up to Penang in the North, not to be confused with Pedang. There we will enjoy many Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian culinary delights. Apparently, according to my brother, it is the best food in all of Southeast Asia. I certainly do not have a problem filling my face with delicious cuisine. We will spend 4 nights up there, after a 5 hour bus ride from Kuala Lumpur. It should be brilliant indeed. I will try not to over indulge myself and over-eat like I've been constantly doing on this trip. Also, Malaysia is a much cheaper country than Indonesia, and I find their people much friendlier overall.

The other odd thing about Indonesia is I have constantly been asked if I'm Japanese, and the people here have even went as far as just plainly speaking loosely put together colloquial Japanese to me. I really despise being associated or confused as Japanese, since Japan has a rather dark and dubious colonial record in Indonesia and everywhere else in the world; I definitely do not want to be mistaken as a Japanese. So, I've been very firm in answering every time. Not Japanese! Canadian! or if you want to indulge in my background further, I was born in Taiwan. Bottom line; No JAPAN!! It is very similar to my mate Blair being confused as American in Vietnam. A big no no that everyone should avoid. American travelers in Vietnam go as far as saying their from Vancouver, Canada to avoid potential hostilities and a thorough verbal accosting. Other than that, the Indonesians have treated us very well thus far.

The Gili's are a mystical island, and you really could get lost here if your not careful with time and money. So far we've been on this island for 6 days and potentially more. There is not a lot to do, but its a nice change from the bang bang no-rest traveler lifestyle. Sitting on the beach, eating pineapples and fruits is a nice way to relax for sure. However, we are leaving soon, to the chagrin of the many locals here who we have befriended. We will be venturing Easterly to the island of Lombok where we will attempt to ascend with a group of porters the great Volcano of Gunung Rijani. It is similar in height and technical difficulty to Mount Fuji in Japan. The climb although not perilous is a very arduous climb to the top. It is an active volcano, but it has been reopened after being closed in June 2009 due to inclement weather and potential eruptions. The climb will take 4 days and during that time I will be unable to send updates. I will for sure update with pictures after the hike is done.

For now, I'm going to rest after a day of snorkeling and swimming. Yes! life is difficult. Anyways, thats all for now! Bye everyone

Speak soon,