Fortune Favours the Bold

May 6th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink § share on facebook

Ni Hao!

Below are headings if you want to skip to what interests you =)
A Very Interesting Pole (Korea), Leaving Korea – Gymgoobar (Seoul), Flight Korea – China, Basket Ball Game (Wuhan, China), Defensive Driving on Crack (Hangzhou, China), Travel Path + Cell Phone Number, “Collective Conception” – Business Idea

A Very Interesting Pole (22nd Apr. Korea)
The highlight of ChungJu was a interesting Polish chap I ran into. He had left Poland young and travelled Asia, Europe, India. He had spent some time in the underground/streets in Paris, hitch-hiked, squatted. Married a fellow traveller he met in Thailand, trained in Shaolin Temple in China, motorcycled across India, travelled by horse in Mongolia and was now training full time to compete in K1 fighting in Thailand. We had very similar philosophies on travelling and I had dozens of questions. He reminded me to not get caught into a tourist traps and to travel without concern.

Photos from ChungJu – Link

Leaving Korea – Gymgoobar (23rd Apr. Seoul)
The general intent of my travels was to take every day as it came, with no plans. I get a sense of joy when things seem to fall into place effortlessly; and leaving ChungJu was fantastic. I realised late in the afternoon that I would need to leave the night before to make my plane to Shanghai the next day. On the bus I met a local Korean cartoonist . We arrived in Seoul with $7 at 10.40pm and was worried where I was going to sleep, but over the course of conversation I remembered something Helen (friend I stayed with in ChungJu) had told me about, a Korean public bath house where people sleep. Using a combination of the free-style swimming stroke and sleeping symbol I communicated it to the cartoonist and he helped me find a ‘gym-goo-bar’! I slept there the night, on a mat, in a large room with a dozen other Koreans for $6, leaving $1 for the bus to the airport the next morning =). There were no tourists in sight. The next morning I took a communal shower (fracking big mental barrier to get over), and the cartoonist met me again for breakfast and showed me to the airport.
Would I have experienced that if I had planned every detail of the trip? Or had plenty of resources? Do the sparrows worry about the winter? Whatever your religion, spiritual texts hold enormous wisdom;

“So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing?”

There was an interesting book, “Celebration of Awareness” by Ivan Illich. He proposed a perfect society where all basic needs guaranteed freeing you to live doing what chose. He placed the answer in the future, in technology. Perhaps the answer is with us today, through changing our mindsets?

Flight Korea – China (24th Apr)
The plane landed in Shanghai about 1930. On the plane on the way over I had a 4 hour stopover in Jeju, a tropical Korean Holiday Island. I had intended to get out and about but the city was an hour away. Instead I strolled the airport, the Korean airport-security are decked out in black and carry automatic weapons. There were three gorgeous women wearing traditional Korean dress, big balloon-like dresses in dozens of bright colours. I hazarded a hello and was greeted back with a flow of fluent English. Damn, it was good to hear English again. They were part of an entourage for cell phone industry dignitaries arriving later that day. I killed the next few hours with them in a German bar in the airport!! It was fantastic.

I was only in Shanghai briefly but it left a magnificent impression. Enormous buildings stretched on further than you could see. There were people everywhere. Initially I wondered how you could fit so many people into a city, but it is easy to see when every suburb, block and building has dozens of people. Shanghai is a nice city but felt heavily influenced by the west so I stayed a night and headed deeper into China. I took a train to a city called Wuhan where I have a friend named April. On the train I met a government member who was part of encouraging privatisation of companies in China! Basically from our discussion, China is almost not communist! It is better described as a ‘pseudo- democratic- socialist- capitalist government with corruption issues’.

All the foreign languages have been brilliant and my mind has steadily absorbed bits of Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Chinese. I’m working on getting conversational chinese as fast as I can! All of a sudden I remember highschool French as well for some reason? Chinese sounds pretty offensive at times. They sound like they are constantly arguing about something.

Basket Ball Game (27th Apr. Wuhan, China)
One afternoon in Wuhan I wondered back alley ways to capture some of China outside of strip malls outlets, seeking the average Chinese person. I stumbled into an open park area on the corner of an intersection with a half basket ball court. Without thinking twice the players passed me the ball and I proceed to miss the hoop over and over again :). We got into a rhythm and played for the next hour and a half, 5 of us v 1 legendary guy. I was more of a ‘strategic player’ – I passed it to guys who could aim. Absolutely shattered and dripping with sweat, I reflected on the experience on the walk home. I set out looking for sadness and poverty, when I stumbled on an incredibly wealthy people. They are rich in joy, friendship and community. They highly value relationships and family ties and are [almost] always willing to extend a smile :).
I had many preconceptions about China which so far have not been true. So far it has seemed safe as any other country, and at times safer. It seems reasonably wealthy and happy, and the city’s ‘poor’ are always smiling!

Photos from Wuhan – Link

Defensive Driving on Crack (2nd Apr. Hangzhou, China)
April had a holiday and we went to visit her friend Marie in Hangzhou for a few days. While there, we were all out late and needed a taxi to Marie’s flat. It was dark and there were some pretty dodgy unlicensed drivers around but this guy seemed legit. We haggled on price and finalised on 15RMB per person ($2). The ride was over an hour on the bus, to see how long the taxi took we started the stop watch without the driver seeing. GO.
We started smooth, he accelerated to 120KmH over a hill and the car got air, shit, this guy is nuts. My next thought was, where is my safety belt? Only to find – huzzah! No safety belts! Over the following 20km we addressed almost every single road rule. Why stay on your side of the road? Driving down the middle of the street is much safer after all. And when you are driving on the wrong side of the road, why stop for oncoming cars? Or, for that matter, why stop at red lights when you’re in a hurry? My personal favourite moment was the taxi driver swerving around two cars waiting at a red light, into the other lane, so he could get through. Here is a little sketch to help the imagination:

Traffic Sketch – Link
Photos from Hangzhou – Link

We then cut off another taxi driver, and forced him to stop, while we were driving down the wrong side of the road! We arrived in 18 minutes flat and only stopped at one set of lights because apparently there are cameras watching. I read somewhere that the only road rules in China are ‘don’t hit anyone, and don’t get hit’.

Travel Path + Cell Phone Number:
My new chinese cell phone number: +86 15907116099.
Plus Updated Travel Path – Link

“Collective Conception” – Business/Organisation Idea:
I’m sketching together a new social entrepreneurship concept which I’m hoping would apply entrepreneurship principles to speed up improving the world. The concept relies on the benefits of working together, and as such I am opening up the business concept itself for public review. Below is a link to the one-page summary of the concept, if you get time I would appreciate review and feedback. I will take feedback and evolve the concept =). I am especially looking for ideas how to make it self-sustainable and remove reliance on sponsorship.

Collective Conception Summary 0.3


“At some point you have to leave home to embrace a larger world. That is
the absolute prerequisite for being able to care for others.”
- Shambhala – The sacred path of the warrior