By Bob Shacochis Go among strangers in strange lands. Sniff, lick, and swallow the mysteries. Learn to say clearly in an unpronounceable language, ‘Please, I very much need a toilet. A doctor. Change for a 500,000 note. I very much need a friend.’ If you want to know a man, the proverb goes, travel with…
“Araki was the only drink on offer, and the owner sloshed it into a plastic bottle from an unwieldy jerrycan before moving around the room to refill clients’ glasses for ten cents a shot.”
“Whatever Johnny Wadie Red Tabel was, it wasn’t whisky; its flavor was a medicinal blend of anise, vanilla, and laundry detergent, and its buzz arrived in tandem with its hangover.”
Cultural criticism: Dennis O’Rourke’s 1988 documentary “Cannibal Tours”, which probed the absurdities of global tourism, was as brilliant and cringe-inducing as any episode of “The Office” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Twenty-five years after its initial debut, the rise of social media self-documentation has made the film feel more relevant than ever.
Cultural criticism: When, two generations ago, Susan Sontag wrote how “needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted,” she very well could have been making a prophetic observation about “selfies.”
Commentary: A Chinese teenager defaced the Luxor Temple. That’s bad, but scribbling on Egyptian antiquity is as old as tourism itself.
Commentary: The same travelers who insist on dropping the “s” from Laos in the interest of linguistic accuracy would never call Egypt “Misr” or Finland “Suomi.” What factors influence the names we give to the places we visit?
Rolf leaps off of cliffs, soars through the trees, and jets up rivers near Queenstown, on New Zealand’s South Island.
On a 24-hour train transit from Bangkok to Penang, Rolf learns the social limitations of Thai whiskey, and meets a fellow traveler who embodies the antithesis of “traveling light.”
Back in Thailand after a seven-year absence, Rolf revisits the Khao San Road backpacker scene, eats insects in Chinatown, and tests his no-baggage wardrobe in an upscale nightclub.
Stuck with a cold in an isolated corner of South Africa’s Welgevonden Game Preserve, Rolf’s cameraman Justin comes face to face with an unusual bush cure.