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Monkeyrockworld

Extreme Rocker and Writer Marco Ferrarese's Hardcore Opinions on Living and Traveling Asia
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Archive for the ‘Vagabonding’

Possessed by guidebooks: how to exorcise yourself

April 21, 2013 By: Marco Ferrarese Category: English, Opinions, Rolf Pott's Vagabonding, Vagabonding Visited: No Comments →

Travel scientists have unearthed that a human subspecies called backpacker, or traveller, has been observed across many of the furthest flung corners of the globe reading guidebooks more than interacting with locals.

“So do you want to come with me for breakfast?”
“Sure! “
“Any preferences? I saw a street stall at the corner selling what looks like an awesome fruit salad”
“Well… actually, if you look here at page 267, the guidebook mentions this place… I’m sorry, we have to eat there.”
“Why?”
“Well… because it’s in the guidebook!!”

If there was a Travel Exorcist, dear guidebook, its power would compel you; because you can be the reason why such a conversation has become a standard among travel circles.  I am sure that, whether you are born a Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, Footprints, Moon, Bradt or any other, you and the authors and editors who put your attractive paragraphs together are not the only ones to blame. (more…)

Vagabonding series – Reflections on Hitching a Ride in Asia

March 17, 2013 By: Marco Ferrarese Category: Asia, China, English, Journey to the West, Opinions, Travels, Vagabonding Visited: No Comments →

Chinese police: serving the law and taking me for a ride – picture by Kit Yeng Chan, 2012

Hitching a ride was, is and always will be evoking images of young, reckless, crazy travel. It is for adventurers, because you do not know who will pick you up and when you will arrive at your destination. And it is indeed for adventurous drivers too: our imagination is so full of hideous stories based on this phenomenon that, before you would pick up that random guy standing at the crossroad, you would definitely think twice.

Luckily, this kind of popular culture has not invaded the Asian media as much as the Western ,and seeing a foreigner at the side of the road generally does not ignite serial killer’s thoughts: on the contrary, it is quite easy to be picked up and helped out.
You may think that only someone with a very low civic sense or a very desperate need for money would be thinking of hitching in Asia. Sorry friends, but you are dead wrong: there are many people, surprisingly foreigners and local Asians alike, thumbing at the side of those roads.
Furthermore, in countries with a big exponential growth such as China, where transportation and fuel prices have doubled or tripled since the last decade, buying bus and train tickets to get around can be killer for low budgets. Hitching is on the contrary a great way to travel the extra mile, trying to have a more authentic experience observing what actually happens inside of those Asian cars you do not have to pay for. Sounds strange, isn’t it? Well, it is not, in reality: you just have to try. (more…)

Vagabonding series – Travelling with a guitar helps indie travel

December 09, 2012 By: Marco Ferrarese Category: Asia, English, India, Journey to the West, Music, Rolf Pott's Vagabonding, Travels, Vagabonding Visited: No Comments →

A guitar gets me behind a Railway Reservation counter in Ayodhya, India... / picture by Davide Antonello

Last week, Lindsey Rue’s post on Vagabonding inspired me to reconsider slowing down to enjoy the music from another perspective: the musician’s.

I have been a punk rock guitarist for the best part of my twenties, and I have started to love travelling because of the long, inspiring van drives linking venue A to venue B across beautiful unfolding scenery. At that time, the goal was to hit a stage, play a great show, set the crowds “on fire”, and leave excited for the next town. As I started travelling for the sheer pleasure of vagabonding a few years later, the experience I made as a touring musician proved very helpful in many ways. However, besides an MP3 player filled to the brim with my favorite classics, I preferred not to include music on my travels. In fact, music was such an overwhelming part of my previous life on the road that I preferred to put it aside, and enjoy travel to a different extent. (more…)

From Vagabonding – Travelling the Danger Zones

November 22, 2012 By: Marco Ferrarese Category: English, Opinions, Vagabonding Visited: No Comments →

photo credit: Flickr/D’Oh Boy

There are some places in the world where we, as travelers, or as humans, are discouraged from going. First of all there is Afghanistan, the mother of all evil. Then comes Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Iran, and a few more monsters on the list. I did not expect that Turkey was on it, too. But as I crossed the border from Iran and got off a car in the small town of Yuksekova, that smell of burnt chemical in the air made me think otherwise. Lacerating for my eyes and throat, it just did not seem right; nevertheless, we kept walking as we needed to get out of the main road to hitch another ride.

It was then that I understood something was going wrong: normally, they do not welcome tourists burning tires in the middle of a traffic light’s junction. And normally, they do not do so holding metal crowbars and hiding their faces behind black scarves and sunglasses. This was not a normal Turkish welcome. I am not completely sure, but this way of Eurasian greeting may relate more to the PKK, better known as the Kurdish Liberation Front. (more…)

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