Asian Muse Part 1
Stick: I thought you might enjoy this note. Also, interesting to see how your paradyne and intellectual growth from the primitive brain-stem oriented awareness vis-a-vis the punter scene when you first started your site has undergone such a dramatic metamorphosis. You are to be congratulated for growing out of a somewhat evolutionarily backward brain stem driven lifeview apparent when you started your site, into your present mature, aware, heads-up, socially engaged milieu!! Not many can make this step into a more advanced state of awareness in so short a time. .nice site, but it seems that some of your email is more and more coming to resemble that of the fantasy writers that playboy and penthouse hire to write the letters to the editor columns. You did not think those came from real people. Did you? Hehe I also really enjoy the occasional real-life travelogue.)
Some of the references herein are related to the "lao tzu" and "Ramblin' Richard" emails you have on your site.
I have had some of the people that I email ask about my typical day here….so I sent them this….thought Stickman might find some relevance herein comparison and information wise. I do not live in Thailand, but in a country that many expats seriously looking for wives oftentimes find themselves drawn: The Philippines.
Me, briefly, for perspective:
I have lived permanently in Asia for many years now. Came here in my late 40's. Unlike most of the others that propagate the literary arena of Stickman et.al. I have managed to find nirvana for as long as I can remember…this life at least…my past lives are still hidden.
My children are from an Asian wife. Since divorced, after a wonderful 20 years with a beautiful, intelligent women. We just grew apart. Now married again. What, oh an Asian of course, of the same nationality. Won once, and lucky to win a second time.
Not luck, really. 30 years of Asia has taught me something! I follow the heart and apply a flow chart. No, I will not tell you what that is. A successful niche book author once tried to get me to tell him the proper way to get a "good" girl and maximize the chances of success in a marriage. I told him I would not tell him these things, because I do not want all of the temporal and brain-stem controlled expat literati populating Stickman et.al. To be able to correctly identify and then know how to "get" the truly nice, feeling, "good" girls. This author is an expert at making money and was considering writing a book on this very subject. If he writes it, he will make millions. He never loses in the money game. The girl game and the lifetime companionship game is a different story!
I was in Asia in my early 20's and only left to raise some wonderful spiritual children in the US. Yeah, I know, perhaps a mistake.
("Ramblin' Richard", where did you live and where did you find "a good proportion of the women I met had not only read Ken Wilber, but could have an actual discussion about how his ideas related to their life.")
Kindly read spiritual as "meditative". As in post temporal hard-wiring, post brain-stem controlled, or evolutions next step now underway (for some). "meditative" as in Ken Wilber's sense of evolution of consciousness and depth in the universe ( both of which are manifestations of spirit). Meditative not, as the meme in Richard Dawkins book "The Selfish Gene", in which he coined the term as a cultural replicator to explain the transmission of ideas through culture. Also, meditative not, in the neurotheological sense of Dr. Vilayanur Ramachandran's research that demonstrated Darwinian survival of the social structure by temporal-lobe hard wired religiosity. The hard-wiring of the brain for this purpose patently obvious, even before his neurological work, to anyone who understood the meaning and necessity of social evolution. Incidentally I brought my children to Asia for several years specifically so that they could have this Tantric/Wilberian awakening-evolutions next step. It changed their lives. (a long story, that).
I do not even frequent bars. I go to a girl bar about once a year for an hour, end up terribly bored, go home to my young, beautiful (read: beauty contest winner) wife, and wait another year to convince myself that what every one else talks about all day is not for me.
"ben tzu" (an aware person, I recommend his note) in another email to Stick, spoke about being laid back. I actually had the director of the real estate department hating me for being laid back and enjoying my job and life. This was only work I had, short-lived, wherein I worked for someone else. Actually, a great job. Shortly thereafter, I was in Asia for some years working for myself. And, since then only, for myself. Can not suffer the fools the way some have learned to do. In the country that I live, the locals call me "easy". Not implying that I am a rental boy, I assure you.
The reasons for men choosing Philippine women are actually very straightforward and logical, FYI for those elsewhere: the women and society speak English (((there are so many dialects here that attorneys often practice law in English, so that they can be understood when they travel in courtrooms around the Philippines) (real communication is impossible with all but the upper class women in many Asian countries), the society has some of the cultural values of the Spanish and US, the culture instills an inherent sweetness, love of life, love of others and integrity in the women (excepting the obvious subsets of rental girls, the increasingly materialistic "me" oriented tagalogs of manila, and many/most Chinese women.)), the women retain an innate Asian-ness that makes them not as "me" oriented as the typical western materialistic woman, and the country with its many islands is beautiful. There is, perhaps, a more important reason to those of us that have chosen to live permanently in Asia.
Far more important for the expats that have chosen to live in the never boring, every day a new experience, Asia is the stability of the country vis-a-vis its visitors. That is to say the expats that live there. Make no mistake about it. If you are a permanent resident, or a worker, you are only a guest. You forget that at your own peril and the sanctity of the lifestyle that you are experiencing in Asia. The Philippines is the only country in Asia that has historical, cultural, and a special type of economic ties to the US, Spain and the western world. One of the main reasons for this is that English is a language of instruction in the schools, unlike any other Asian country. Also, the billions of US dollars in inward remittances of overseas Philippine workers is the only thing keeping the Philippines from bankruptcy. This money inflow and the huge number of Filipinos that live, work, marry and raise their families in the US and Europe, give this country an unbreakable tie with western words, the US in particular. This tie has protected now and will protect in the future the expats that have chosen to live permanently in the Philippines. The angst that the expats are going through in Thailand regarding the above issue, could easily proceed to its logical conclusion. Stickman is smart enough to realize this as his column makes clear. He is aware.
I know many expats that travel both to Thailand and the Philippines. Some live in Asia full time. They seem to get quite different life satisfactions in each country. (that issue is quite interesting but beyond the scope of this monologue.) Even though most of these expats from north American, Europe, New Zealand and Australia that I talk to are after the same essentially brain-stem (primitive, originally evolutionarily important species survival neurophychosocial drives) type of satisfactions. (see my note about Ben Wilber et al regarding the more evolutionarily advanced forms of individuals in society.) In retrospect, the Philippines used to be, in some respects, what the sex subset of tourism of Thailand is today to the world. Many long time expats will have fond memories of the Ermita area of Manila, American servicemen by the thousands had their night spots in Olongapo and Angeles. (no, not military, me…could not, would not, awareness is a disease that the military will eradicate in individuals at all cost. My hat is off to those that managed to survive the military's psychological tortures to remove the last vestiges of contemplation and awareness from all entering therein)…..the closing of the manila nightlife scene by a Chinese mayor (lim) to satisfy the desires of some offshore Chinese to control the land in that area, was the death bell to that period of the Philippines and also Philippine tourism, as it were.
Ok, ok to a typical days schedule: awake at 10pm. Yoga for 15 min to loosen up for the day, then some meditation. I had gone to sleep at 6am, just as the sun came up. My oftentimes strange schedule made this a day for reading and contemplation in the metaphysical quiet of the mystical hours after 12 midnight.
A steaming hot cup of Nescafe Butterfinger frothy was my answer to the breakfast muse. Shave, shower and my morning greeting from the tantric vibrations emanating from the magnificent Chinese temple outside my window. Ever sq. Meter of the exterior wall of my huge third story flat is windowed. I have the entire third floor. Bright, airy, views of green foliage and fresh breezes great me this and every wonderful morning. Never use air conditioning. In the US, I was outside riding my mountain bike at least 4 hours a day, everyday, in Austin, Texas. But, that is another story.
Down one flight of stairs, through the green corroded gate out into the squatter infested street. My "hood" is owned by Chinese and completely safe. The squatter hood is behind and adjacent to the creek. The children consume the street with their joyous inventive games. A western child would be in front of a TV. These children are inventive, athletic, since they play street ball all day, and street smart. I love having them around. Asia, never boring. I dislike paying rent and we have turned the flat into a boarding house for girl students at a nearby medical university. I therefore live in the most desirable, uptown, area for nada. Walking distance to restaurants, nightclubs, coffee shops, an Olympic size swimming pool, an Olympic track, clay-court tennis club, pool halls, snack bars, dozens of universities, three modern hospitals, internet cafes, pasty shops, gyms, yoga center, three malls and city library. My "hood" has it all! Oh, I can also see the ocean from my flat. I live on an island, after all. On weekends I am at my house at 1000 meters elevation, overlooking both sides and seas of this captivating tropical island.
Slices, little pie shaped sections of life tasty as home baked everyday, the reason'd'eta of living in Asia. The US was so boring even though I was in one of the true Mecca's of bohemian life in the US Austin, Texas. Austin had the most internet connections per capita of any city in the US. It also had one of the youngest populations, being dominated by the fifty thousand plus student body at the university of Texas. Ut was the home to the students of the money and power elite of central and south America. It was also home to some of the best professors that oil money can buy. (UT has an endowment close to the size of Harvard universities). All of this and the tuition was subsidized by the state, making this one of the best education buys in the u.s. This explained the many Chinese and other Asian students pursuing their masters and phd's in Austin. People would graduate and take any job they could, just to stay where the action was, Austin. Your bartender in one the many mice-brewery pubs could be a Ph.D. In anthropology. He took his current job just so he would not have to leave his found paradise. By the way, one of British style pubs, a artsy artsy place really (can one say that about a British pub?), had more than 50 beers on tap from all over the world, not counting the absolutely mouth watering fresh ones that they brewed on the premises. This was a frequent stop of mine on my daily 2 hour mountain bike ride to central Austin and back home to see my children when they arrived home from school.
Children shouting "hey Joe", "namaskar" (a tantric greeting, meaning I see the spirit in you), as I walk the short distance to where the cab and jeepney (small, bus like, public transportation) route is. Jump in the front seat next to a 40ish man with no front teeth and a T-shirt that the pope would be proud of. 8 cents u.s. To a more distant, 10 minute ride, mall and my exercise spa. 3 hours later I emerge from the health spa/gym in the basement of the large western style 5 story mall tired, endorphin loaded and freshly showered. ((or, could have swam several kilometers at the Olympic pool, or, run on the track. Or, played tennis. (all walking distance) or, played golf (taxi)…take your choice, varies from day to day)) clad in my uniform of tight bike pants under shorts with an umbro yellow shirt and original teva teradactyl sandals, I sauntered to the Idea Italia cafe for a rest in my usual seat against the wall, outside the restaurant, next to the mall entrance and elevators. I enjoy people, (read: university girls), watching while sipping my brewed abaca coffee from northern Luzon, with fresh cream and brown sugar from the durano mills in northern Cebu. Cebu is the university center for all of central and southern Philippines. It is also the geographic and shipping center for the entire Philippines. I can be at a ship in 15 minutes that leaves to anywhere in the Philippines and also take a direct ship to Borneo that takes two days. A great trip. I have made twice.
"you look like a local", a heavyset white American gentleman says as he towers over my steaming coffee. He has a black baseball cap that says u.s. And more rings, bracelets and gold necklace jewelry than a pimp in Harlem. "have a seat", I say and motion him to an empty gold painted wrought iron chair at my table. He proceeds, as strangers are wont to do in Asia, to tell me his life story. And an interesting one it is. He left home at 13 because he found no love in his family of double digit children on his family farm in the northern u.s. Worked his way down to Texas, finished school and ended up in the docks in Los Angeles. Surviving on his own since the age of 13 and good genetics gave him a green thumb. The color of money, that is. He traveled all over the word importing and exporting while working a high paying union dock job. Married a Chinese girl, since divorced. He said he was planning his retirement at the young age of 70. With business interests all over, he was buying condos in the places that he wanted to spend some time each year. Cebu was one of those places. Shanghai was another with northern Europe and Rio de Janeiro, brazil his other locations. He would divide his year with several months in each location, with several months thrown in traveling through Europe. Travel was in his blood, movement in his genes. "must go", he said, "have to pay for the condo before I leave on the plane tonight." "cheers", I said as I thought of all the places that he chose to live completely alone, save the occasional visitor. He needed less money and more of a connection between hearts. It seemed he wore his life on the outside for all to see, leaving nothing inside.
"you look like a local", I heard for the second time today. This time looked up from my daily cryptic crossword puzzle to see a long haired hippy type, mid 40's, from the southwestern united states. A beautiful turquoise ring gave him away. Arizona somewhere without a doubt. As I wear my hair long and have been a hippy type since my teens, I am not unaccustomed to visits from strangers from that era. Selling his house and moving permanently to the Philippines, he related. As we talked, I could tell he was quite surprised to find someone who could actually understand his logical and I might add "aware" ideas about religion and culture in the u.s. He told me he couldn't even talk to anyone in phoenix as they were so narrow minded they would not even listen to new ideas. We got along well, as he had visited the towns in Arizona that my family founded some years ago, we also have a mountain and some rivers in Texas named after us that he had crossed in his travels.
I told him that I had attended a lecture by a well known author and university professor of philosophy from brazil in Austin, TX. She had traveled all over the word lecturing for 30 years. I asked her what her favorite and least favorite countries were for intellectual conversation. She said France was tops. The French would talk about anything on an intellectual level and could understand and argue from any position. They also did not take any offense during conversations, just showing an intellectual curiosity, willingness to listen to other points of view about everything, and a certain "awareness" that did not extend to specifics about their culture. What else is new? Her least favorite country, intellectually, was the u.s. She said that the people in the u.s. Were generally not well traveled, not familiar with the world outside their own work day, completely intolerant of new ideas, and among the most unaware people in the world. ( if you stood up and screamed but they are the richest country in the world you twit, take a seat, take a deep breath ommmmmm as you breath out, close this browser window and spend some time becoming "aware". Your mind is on the wrong page, or a blank page perhaps.) She said it was impossible to have an intelligent discussion with most of the people she met in the u.s., as they were so narrow minded and rigid in their thinking. Note that she was around mostly university professor and intellectual types! Here, here, exactly my take on most of the people in the u.s. Of course, there are exceptions, but considering the whole population, very few and hard to find. You must go to the end of the bell curve and almost fall off to find this awareness in the western world.
Enough of this gregariousness for me. Back to the flat for a late lunch. I earned it with my weight lifting and cardio-transport work in the gym. My cook has prepared a wonderful meal for me. I sometimes eat out, but can never really find the type of food that I prefer, except in Singapore. Singapore is known as the food capital of Asia. Of all the places we have traveled, that is our favorite place to visit and eat. The food is the best we have had, with spicy Malaysian dishes at the top of the list. Even in astounding, breathtaking, new city of Shanghai, china, food could not compare to the variety and taste of the ethnic food in Singapore. (by the way, we were in Shanghai and Singapore during the height of the crazy SARS thing.) If I had to live somewhere else, Singapore would be it. Although, the housing and beer prices are absolutely crazy. Eight dollars u.s. For a beer!!! Although, the only microbrewery in Asia I am aware of, Brewerkz, is in a breathtaking beautiful water causeway with Hooters a short walk on a bridge to the other side of the water. They had a daily happy hour with 2 u.s. Dollar beers and pitchers. Ah, yes…it was my home every afternoon for a month! Bliss. (well, ok, not exactly a tantric sort…exactly. Hehe)
Did you know that from Nov 1918 to Jan 1919, only three months, twenty million people died from the flu in the world. And from 1916 to around 1926, five million died from a viral infection. Just wanted to put the 1000 or so mostly elderly and already sick people that died from SARS in perspective. Also the only around 3000 people that died in new York. Much to do about nothing, welcome to the unseeing and unaware world that overlooks the important things and only highlights the politically important ones. The Brazilian authors comments cover this issue precisely. And, to drive that point home the following true u.s. Poll: sat down to a nice late lunch of fresh mangos and papaya from our plantation. A Caesar salad with freshly graded parmesan cheese and olives. Italian pasta with fresh herb, roasted garlic and onion, and extra-virgin olive oil sauce. Toasted multi-grain whole wheat garlic bread. And a glass of Spanish full bodied red wine, for health (as my French friends always say).
Ok, it is now around 3 or 4 PM. Time for an after lunch walk to the uptown traffic circle and a cup of hot Chinese jasmine tea.
A former audio/visual university professor in Florida that also worked in TV stops by for a chat. He travels all over the world and is the friendliest and most gregarious person I know. He spends time is Costa Rica, Thailand, u.s. And the Philippines each year. Although he seems to be here 9 months of the year. He used to keep a small flat downtown with his main girlfriend in the crowded old historical part of cebu. Also, one of the main university areas. I think this part of town, colon, was one of the first cities in the Philippines. With the main street the oldest street in the Philippines. Lots of history there. This is also walking distance from my flat, but around 15 to 20 minutes. He has since purchased a new car for around two thousand u.s. Dollars and moved into a house in a sub-division not too far away.
Back to the flat to read and relax for the evening. Maybe walk to a local club around 9pm and listen to some bands play, girls in little outfits, at my usual table they keep for me. Then home, some kirtan and meditation before sleep. Or, maybe just read all night and/or watch a DVD. We get the new movies on DVD BEFORE they are in the theater.
Disclaimer: these observations are mine and are valid only for specific subsets of each social group mentioned. It is also a given that your perceptions and experiences will certainly be different from mine. Isn't it wonderful, the diversity. For a nice explanation of why society must be as it is, and you are what you are, and I am what I am, read Dawkins: "the selfish gene" as a good starting point for those that really want to be aware. Please note: awareness does not seem to be selected for evolutionarily. Therefore, tread therein with caution. Your circle of Non-aware friends will not be so valuable to you anymore. It will be difficult to find actual, real, aware individuals to help you investigate contemplative matters. Last but not least, everyone thinks they are aware so you must learn to keep your mouth shut most of the time with what is visible to others but they do not really "see". Ah, I feel an intellectual roast from those with occluded vision coming on…I was a little cold anyway. Heheheh.
Just see how the flow goes….just like every day. Some people row upstream…I am lazy and row with the current although I see some rocky (as in solid, unyielding, unmoving, unseeing, unnnnnnaware) emails to row around further downstream. Love the exercise.
I'm not sure if life in the Philippines, and its effects, are for me.