Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

travel update from Nepal

I am going t write two updates within a few days of each other because I have not written in a while and there is a lot to cover. This first update will be the traveling adventure part and the next one will be the view from the spirit trail.
So there I was in Kunming china. I became buddies with Dror an Israeli former officer in army intelligence, and we were room mating and discovered we had the same airplane to go to Kathmandu together. We would share a taxi.
Everything went smooth until we got to Kathmandu. Drors credit card would not work at the airport. We finally disentangled money issues and met with the management of Jet Airways so I could be sure that I would not need a visa to change planes in India on my way to Sri Lanka.
So I finally arrived in Kathmandu and found my guest house. got into my room, nice room very big but they had no small rooms left so even though I booked a single I got a triple! Got settled in and then went for a walk about.
The tourist neighborhood, the back packer ghetto is called Thamel. My hotel was just outside this area but easy and close to walk into. Quiet at night yet close to all the "action". I went out exploring and found just what I was looking for. TOTAL CHAOS! the sheer madness of "exotic Asia" Finally, I was beyond the reach of globalization! Finally I am out of New Jersey!
So within an hour I had eaten an amazing " Veg Tali" lunch and obtained something local and fantastic to put into my pipe and went back to my room with a new box of Nga Champa incense, and a potato to sit on the couch with me!!
I passed a most pleasant week in Kathmandu. Stayed the whole time in Mountain Peace guest house and had No complaints at all. As good of a $3.50 USD room as anyone could ask for! As for Kathmandu, well all I can say is it is crowded, dirty, chaotic, confusing, mad, non sensible, as cheap as dirt, and the food is pretty good. Who could ask for anything more?
After a week, I took an early bus to Pokhara. famous for its beautiful lake and incomparable views of the mighty Annapurna range of the Himalaya mountains! I stayed there for a week to, quietly walking around the lake, doing some strolling in the old village and reading Tao De Ching, meditating and smoking the Kathmandu hash during lulls in my otherwise exhausting schedule!
After seeing photos of the views in Pokhara I was really excited to go. But unfortunately for me, the sky was almost always clouded and overcast while I was there. Nepal is experiencing a late monsoon season this year and it is still a lot of rain. So I did get to see some nice snow capped Himalayan peaks but not what I as expecting. One f the rare occasions of my travels where I have been somewhat disappointed. Perhaps it is an omen. What can the travel gods be trying to tell me?
Next on my tour of Nepal, was a real moving experience for me. I went to Lumbini. Birthplace of Gautama Siddhartha, the world honored one, the Buddha. On the full moon of May about 2552 years ago Maya Devi was on her way home when she realized the baby was coming. So she bathed in a pond and gave birth to Price Siddhartha. There is a big shrine and temple at the pond. Monasteries from a dozen Buddhist countries are all located there. There is a world peace pagoda. It was a very special spiritual place.
I stayed for 3 days and then came here, to Sauraha a village at the entrance to Chitwan National park. There are a lot of elephants in this village. There is elephant poop on all the roads. Every time you go walking around you see boys riding elephants. Chitwan is also famous for the rare one horn Rhinoceros. The Unicorn of Asia. Tomorrow I will go n aon an elephant safari trip to see the one horn Rino. I will write again soon.
Peace and Love,
"In life never do as others do…Either do nothing—just go to school—or do something nobody else does." Gurdjieff

"Ram Tzu believes In the law Of cause and effect. He just doesn’t know Which is which" Ram Tzu

"Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity." Voltaire

"This is universal. You sit and observe your breath. You can't say this is Hindu breath or Christian breath or Muslim breath." Charles Johnson

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Last update from China

September 2, 2011 Ni Hao Everyone,
I am beginning this letter from Chengdu a city in Sezuan province of China. Tonite I will take an overnight train to Kunming, where I will finish this letter before I leave China and go to Kathmandu Nepal on September 6.
Since my last update I left Ping yao after 5 days there. The time spent there was uneventful but It was there that my interest in the writings the Tao de Ching were renewed. I read a nice book there called the Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet, which seeks to explain "The Way" of Lao Tzu in terms of Winnie the Pooh characters. Here in Chengdu I traded up my copy of Norman Mailers classic war story "the Naked and the Dead" for the penguin classic edition of The Tao De Ching and I have been reading it ever since.
Its funny how on the surface I think of my time in Ping Yao as having little significance but on the other hand it may be that one is quietly, gently guided through life to find what one needs as one needs it. In Ping Yao the Dao came alive for me! I met a Chinese hotel manager there who is a taoist, and we read a chapter of the Tao de Ching together every day.
From Ping Yao, I traveled by over night train to Xi An and couch surfed with a Scots man called Ali and his chinese girlfriend called Joy. Ali has a degree in Philosophy from somewhere in Britain and studies Kung Fu and teaches English in Xi An. He and I had a lot of totally cool talks about the nature of reality and the philosophy of Kung fu and Tai Chi.
We went to some great restaurants near his apartment and generally hung around drinking tea and talking and going for walks in the evening. During the days i hung around the Buddha gardens near the Wild Goose Pagoda and just relaxed my mind.
China, like everywhere else I have been, is a lot different than I expected! There is plenty of religious freedom here. There is a booming economy and there seems to be none of the usual signs of urban decay, like public drunkenness and drug abuse, there are almost no beggars and I have no fear of violence, there are certainly enough police but most of them carry no weapons. Buddhist and taoist monks walk freely in the streets un molested by the government.
That being said, this is certainly NOT a democracy, and there is a great deal of political repression. The great wall has been replaced by the great firewall. I can not read my blog, or post anything on it here in China. Google searches and wikipedia topics are censored. On an everyday kind of walking around life, it is just like anywhere else I have been but beneath the surface...it can be quite repressive, though most chinese will (just like everywhere else in the world) never have a run in with the police or the government.The days of "the Great Leap Forward" and the "Cultural Revolution" are over.For most practicl purposes this is a capitalist country with an oligarchy running the government.
I think that most people dont give a hoot about politics or really even political freedoms. Most of us do not want to run for office or change the government. I think it is fari to say that in my own country most of us do not feel our government cares about what they want, or does what they want, or spends their taxes on what they want them to spend them on.
So I think that in this respect China is no different from most western countries. they have an admitted one party system, while my country has a one party system which it claims is a two party system. both countries put lots of people in prison and even execute people they feel have lost their right to live...Barbarians both. I feel both are more oligarchy than democracy and I base this on the fact that 95% of the people who get elected are actually getting re-elected!
These things are of little importance to me. All I get from my government is a valid passport so i can come and go as I please. Of course I want more but I wont likely get it. What is really important in life, A person must get for himself.
The reason we are here is to raise our consciousness and I do not think your government can help or hinder you in this. Their power, their authority is all just illusion. Their rules are just that! Rules, not laws. Man makes rules God makes laws. It is easy to tell which is which, you can break the rules but not the laws! So before leaving Cheng du, I managed to trade my copy of Norman Mailer's "The Naked and the Dead" for Lao Tzu's The Dao De Ching.
I am now in Hunnan provence, in Kun Ming after a very pleasant overnight train from Cheng Du. I fly to Nepal in 3 days where i will write another update.Until then I urge all of you to continue breathing and being where you are!
Peace and Love to you all,
" Sincerity is the key to self-knowledge and to be sincere with oneself brings great suffering." Gurdjieff

"Concepts can at best only serve to negate one another, as one thorn is used to remove another, and then be thrown away. Only in deep silence do we leave concepts behind. Words and language deal only with concepts, and cannot approach Reality."Ramesh Balsekar

"You are Timelessness in which no death can enter, for where there is no time there is no death. That Timelessness is Now, and that is Being. Being is always shining. I AM is the Light of Being. This Diamond cannot hide and can never be hidden." Sri H. W. L. Poonja

Tavel update from Beijing

August 18, 2011 Nei hao
I am in China. I was in Beijing for 7 nights and it was a very nice experience. At first Beijing is very difficult for the independent traveler who does not speak chinese. I arrived by train to Er Lian from Mongolia. My last memory of Mongolia is getting taken by the ticket office at the international train sales window. I bought a combination train/bus ticket. The train part went smoothly enough. I was told when I bought my ticket that a person would be waiting at the train station with a sign with the name of the bus company on it and I would be taken to the bus and taken to Beijing to arrive at 7or 7:30 am. Well what a line of bullshit!
There was no one there to meet me! I showed my bus ticket to some taxi drivers and they said they knew where the bus was and they would take me. Now remember I speak no chinese and the taxistas speak no english. This is all done in charades, grunts and gestures.
I felt i was being cheated again but was at a loss as to what else to do so I went with the most persistent driver and he took me to the bus station and a little shop where a woman immediately got out her calculator and started screaming " Change money! Change money! " This turned out to be her only english!! I showed her my ticket and she took out a stack of identical tickets so i knew I was in the right place and paid my taxdriver.
She in turn walked over to the bus station and bought me a ticket on the next (the only!) bus to Beijing which was at 4:30 pm so I had to wait 5 hours and paid about 3 times what i would have paid if I had done all this on my own. Just shows that even an old road dog like me can get ripped off!! Ah hahh well what is traveling for if not to learn? huh?
So the real shit was that I would now have to arrive in Beijing at 4am not 7:30 and as any experienced traveller knows that really sucks! It is never good to arrive in a strange city where you do not speak the language and do not know where you are going in the middle of the night.
I had a reservation at a hostel and had instructions from the bus station to the hostel by public bus but the public bus and metro do not begin service until 5:30 and check-in time at my hostel was 12 noon. So I finally took a taxi 5 kilometers to the hotel and paid more than the price of the bed for the ride.
I have had a fine and interesting first week in China. Beijing is a fantastic city. An excellent example of all man can create by using his mind. Lots of noise, traffic, pollution, art, beautiful old architecture, FABULOUS indescribable foods, beautiful new architecture, all the latest fashions and McDonalds! It just may be possible that the air quality here is even worse than Los Angeles. I aint sure. The sky is always grey. It is amazingly dirty air i am breathing!
I did the tourist stuff, went to the great wall and the forbidden city. What a bunch of hoooey. Crowds and touts and tour operators with their silly little flags and... well if any of you want to know more about it you can look it up on google!! As for the great wall...Well here I go kids...
The wall is just another example of the minds unwillingness to accept impermanence. In mankinds history, we create false ideas like countries and religions and artificial groupings of humans like tribes and clans and races, and try to maintain these artificial notions through propaganda if possible and through force if not.
The wall did not work. It never works. Millions of chinese peasants were conscripted to do the work. More than a million ( I am told ) died of starvation exposure and exhaustion and OF COURSE it did not work. Just like all the walled cities that fell under seige in all the wars in history did not work. Just like the Maginot line did not work. Just like Stalin's iron curtain did not work, or the Berlin wall or the DMZ between north and south Viet Nam. None of them worked none will ever work. Stalin could not keep out McDonalds, Coca Cola and Christian D'Orr.The Chinese could not keep out the barbarians.
I come from a country (USA) where millions of retards think we should construct a 2000 kilometer wall on our border with Mexico at a cost of trillions of dollars and then to patrol it at a cost of trillions more. This is a bankrupt country mind you, that can not possibly pay for this any way other than to borrow the money and increase the national deficit!! When it will not, can not possibly work!!
After all the pain and money the emperors spent on the wall, Ghengis Khan came to it and looked up and saw it and called out to the guards and gave them bribe of a basket of gold coins and they opened the doors to the gate and... he...just...waltzed...in!
The mind wants to make permanent that which was never real (an empire, a country) to begin with. The mind wants security when there is no sescurity. All things must pass. All times are local. At the end of the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.
So now I am here and here it is now and I am in Yao Ping. It is an ancient walled city in central China. Things here are as they were 300 years ago. It is like being in a different century. Some times it is hard to say just what time it really is, what century we are all living in. All times truly are local!! If things go as planned (hahhh!!) I will be here for 4 more nights and then go to Xi'An. I am in the process now of getting a train ticket. Travel in China is almost as difficult as Russia. It is very frustrating because I have been to so many countries where things are so much easier.
Xi'An is famous for Noodles. it is said to be the place whrerr noodles were invented. I am stoked to go and try some of the best noodles in the world. Chinese food here in China is fantastic, delicious, awesome, radical, and ten times better than the chinese food one gets in Chinese restaurants in other places in the world.
I am reading and discussing Chinese spiritual teachings with the locals when I get the chance. I am learning a lot about the Tao (the way) as taught by Lao-tse and Chuang-tse. I am having fun in a chinese kind of way. i am happy to be alive, I am happy to be here and I am happy it is still now.
Peace and love to all of you,
Rambling Robert

"A well frog cannot imagine the ocean, nor can a summer insect conceive of ice. How then cn a scholar understand the Tao? He is restricted by his own learning."Chuang-tse

"Fine weapons are instruments of evil. All Creatures hate them. Therefore followers of the way do not use them..To rejoice over victory by violence is to rejoice over slaughter. He who rejoices over slaughter cannot unite within the empire ... the wise ruler sees military triumph as a funeral. " Lao Tse (from Tao Te Ching)

"If you compare the city to the forest, you begin to wonder why it is that man considers himself superior to the animals" Benjamin Hoff