The Squeaky Robot

A Meddling Robot in a Human's World

Posts tagged “backpacking

Hunan Looking Glass

Posted on August 11, 2015

A young man lifts my broken bicycle into his tiny red truck. The day is ending and he is heading towards town now, and he picks me up nonchalantly like all his other deliveries. The industrious little engine begins to buzz and cough, the wheels roll forward, and the man smiles. You walk into a train station, let’s say in Changsha, and beyond the large words ‘Ticketing Hall’ above the entrance doors, there is no English written or spoken. You are met with a long hangar filled with a thousand echoes. The back wall is covered with an electronic timetable showing arrays of fire red Chinese characters, a code you can’t access. You think you’re a little smart and you’ve got a piece of…

In My Hands, Beneath My Feet

Posted on July 16, 2015

The place was at once in my hands and beneath my feet. My map indicated the road between Buon Ma Thuot and Dalat was a major artery, it had that bolded yellow quality that typically signifies cartographical importance. But the spot where my motorbike – an old semi-auto with the words ‘Splendid Cruiser’ stuck to its side – was then rumbling, eager to dash forward, looked abandoned. It actually reminded me of the roads in Chernobyl town – domed and cracking, overgrown, the bush quietly reclaiming the land stolen from it in the pouring of hot tar. Stark evidence of mudslides also burdened this highway. At times you could only pass with two feet or so of pavement width, the rest covered in lumpy piles…

The Spectrum of Conveyance Connections

Posted on March 28, 2015

There are days in which I choose to fly. One of those days was in Hpa An, in Myanmar, when I zoomed around on two wheels from cave to mountain, mountain to cave, sweet wind-whipped apexes to moldy cool nadirs. Another one was in Ko Lanta, Thailand, as we circumnavigated the island like cushy explorers in hot pursuit of diamond water. Today was yet another one of those days when I flew around the greater area of Battambang, Cambodia, holding promises of ruins and Buddhist enlightenment in my pockets. 
It was 125cc’s of torque. It was a black Honda Future. It was a rental. With it I set off from central Battambang, a sleepy ‘colonial’ (that’s supposed to sell me?) city with long riverside…

On Fearlessness & Other Illusions

Posted on October 27, 2013

I decided that a bracelet inscribed with “fearless” would make me so. The letters – bold, loud, capitalized, with the avant-garde color scheme of white-on-black – were themselves fearless, and so I reasoned that their choking presence on my wrist would make me the message, incarnated. With age, it is easier to pick out the false starts before they do any damage. This morning, I can’t drink my coffee so much as stare at it because I am scared. Rare is the travel blogger that says this, but I am scared of travel. There is at least one maxim regurgitated all too often: be fearless. For those of us who are fearful, this maxim is, at best, useless and, at worst, implies that we…

The Smaller Picture

Posted on April 24, 2013

Let me break it down for you: There was a bird on the glass. It reminded me of an ancient Hungarian fairy tale, “The Glass Man and the Golden Bird,” that describes a king who must travel to the Kingdom of Magic to find The One. Along the way he encounters great foes, like a witch who has turned herself into a monstrous black spider with two swords for two front legs. A little golden bird accompanies him on his journey; it serves as companion and songbird in times of peace and protector during times of trial and despair. Eventually the king finds The One when the golden bird sings a song for a lily, transforming the lily into a beautiful maiden. Sometimes even…