Backpacking in 82 Days: Kampot, The Witch of the White Mountain, Siem Reap, and Bangkok

I know, 4 topics for one blog is a little ambitious. But I’m an ambitious, amateur, pessimistic blogger. Devyn and I are currently in Bangkok (funny reference) and I personally hate this city. More on that later, let’s focus on the other 99 percent of the trip.

After a quick stay in Phnom Penh, we booked a bus to take us to Kampot. An alleged 3 hour bus drive doesn’t sound too bad at all. That is, until you hop on the bus. You need to give bus rides an additional 2-5 hours extra time because during your commute, you’re stopping every 15 minutes picking some random person up, or tagging along for their personal errands. No joke. We did a minor grocery store run as well as wait for the driver to make a personal call.

Once you get closer to Kampot the scenery is both breathtaking and heart breaking. It’s a vast landscape of rice fields and greenery. But this is where you notice how severely poor Cambodia is. Many of these houses are on stilts or no bigger than an average bathroom in the states.

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As hard as it is to see people living under .93 cents a day, being in these environments for over a month makes scenarios like this almost common place. The real trick is not to get used to it and remain appreciative of what you have. However, as grim as the conditions are, there’s oddly a sophisticated atmosphere to the poverty stricken lifestyle that is Kampot. These families embraced their relationships and did not appear to take for granted what little they had. Out of this simplicity, comes true happiness. In a way, I envied them.

Once in Kampot, at dinner we had our first unpleasant encounter with a Khmer person. It was just poor service, nothing like Bangkok. They just appeared to be irritated by us, or more specifically, westerners. It’s not the worst thing in the world. We get profiled at airports so we learned how to just take it with a grain of salt. After that dinner, we found our way to Kampot Pie and Ice Cream Palace. It’s a few doors down from where we were staying and thank goodness for that. It has a superb menu from breakfast to desserts, solid coffee, and a warm atmosphere. It’s basically Brad and Devyn’s restaurant baby. We love anywhere with hearty meals and a home like atmosphere. It harkens back to our love for Hobbiton. Its owner, Les, is this unique gent from Canada who owned property his whole life and ended up in Cambodia doing just that. He won’t steer shy from saying hello.

The following day, we found a tuk tuk driver and hired him for the day. Unlike our driver in Phnom Penh (who crashed into a car), this guy was a salty pro, but with a smile. He took us to their caves and the scenery on the way is, need I say again, stunning.

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The caves themselves are these gargantuan, cathedral like phenomenons. It’s a short trek, but you do some serious crawling and ducking. The coolest parts of the cave were not captured. It got too difficult while crawling through the dark.

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Afterward, our awesome tuk tuk driver took us to a Kampot pepper field. It’s a lot like a winery, but with Kampot peppers; these tiny little balls of fiery goodness.

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Serving wine at the pepper field wasn’t too shabby either. The coolest parts about taking a tuk tuk to these locations were seeing the people in their day-to-day lives on the way, as well as the awesome Khmer kids not skipping a beat when it comes to waving to you. It’s almost like being a celebrity. We were told that it’s just in the Khmer culture to display kindness and you certainly see that with the kids. I mean, I’ve rambled about Khmer kids already haven’t I?

Phnom Sor: The Search For The Witch Of The White Mountain This was something we found randomly in a pamphlet. We saw the words “hike” and “witch” so we were in. It wasn’t a tourist attraction and that has proven to provide the most fun days. Anything off the beaten path or locally recommended is the way to go. Nothing through tourist vendors or driving sightseeing tours.

Phnom Sor is more like an exaggerated hill than anything, but according to locals and others, it’s a 30 minute vertical hike to the top where an old witch lives.

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After taking a bit of a dodgy road, our tuk tuk driver stopped in a school yard. He thought we wanted to see the temples on campus, but we reiterated hike, mountain, and old woman he immediately asked anyone he could how to take the most direct path to the White Mountain.

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We ended up recruiting these two schoolboys who said they go up to see the witch all the time. This is a prime example of why you should find off the beaten path activities when traveling. It’s so awesomely random to end up being led to witch mountain by two boys after your tuk tuk driver was unsure how to get there. The boys led us along a long dirt road and you could see Phnom Sor’s looming presence. Dare I say, it has a Tolkien Lonely Mountain element to it. Refer to the the picture a few photos up.

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Once you reach the foot of the mountain, it’s almost a vertical hike to the top up rigid rock stairways. The scenery all over is breathtaking. The higher you get, the better the view gets. As our tuk tuk driver kept reiterating while walking up: “beautiful”.

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You almost forget you’re looking for a witch, being distracted by the great views. Once you get near the top, it gets eerie. It’s dark stones decorated with offerings leading up to a metallic hut. It is a place where a witch would live. The whole group kept their voices down to not disturb whomever we may encounter. So with our wits about and a $5 bill ready, (you’re supposed to bring an offering or you get cursed) we made our final steps to the top.

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Through the hut, there were more offerings and it led to another rock staircase leading down into the back of the mountain. There isn’t much walking room near the back and it’s where we found the creepiest aspect; the cave entrance to the woman’s rest area.

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We didn’t find the witch and the boys said she may be out and about collecting supplies. She must be a tough lady. I’ve seen photos of what she looks like and she is a small, frail looking gal. To make that hike is impressive. We paid our respects through prayer with our tuk tuk driver and just soaked in the views before hiking back down. If you’re ever in Kampot, this is something you should not miss. It’s a great hike and if you’re lucky, you will meet the legendary witch.

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The next day, following the high of an awesome day previously, we proved my earlier point; don’t do sightseeing tours. While some of the sights are neat, it’s relatively a waste of money and caters to tourists. It takes away the magic of it all. Here are some photos of the neater sights we saw.

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We both really like old, abandoned buildings so it was cool having this catered to our tastes. Other than the sunset cruise later that night, it was a pretty “meh” sightseeing trip. Luckily the company was good.

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Siem Reap: We had to bid a sad farewell to Kampot at one point. With the warmth of the community and how often we frequented Kampot Ice Cream Palace, we started recognizing faces, being recognized, and felt like locals.

The bus drive to Siem Reap was a 12 hour endeavor which included a transfer. Fortunately, the bus provided humorous Chinese music videos and films dubbed in Khmer. Once in Siem Reap, our tuk tuk driver couldn’t find our accommodation. It made for an interesting night and it was a moment where Devyn and I practiced our “don’t mess with me” looks, just like we do in Bangkok.

You know what, Siem Reap was a pretty low key point in the trip. When you’re gone for so long, you can’t have every day be adventurous or a “go-go”. It burns you out. For the most part, we stayed out of the heat by frequenting a coffee shop, read, did Christmas shopping at their awesome daily night market, and discovered Asian countries can’t do Mexican food.
Of course, we checked out Angkor Wat and the other temples. These are awesome sights to see, but overwhelmingly filled with tourists. It truly takes the magic out of it all. I’d suggest checking out some of the smaller temples on the outskirts. These are more decayed by age and are overgrown by vines and trees. To Devyn and I, we found these temples much more appealing.

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During our temple of doom run, we were ripped off by monks. They insisted on praying with us, burning incense, and making us bracelets. Of course, where there’s religion, comes asking for money. They expected donations the whole time. I gave them a few bucks and they saw a $20 in my pocket. Naturally, they wanted more. We took off fleeing and mind you, this was only a 15 second ordeal, so anything more than a few George Washingtons is a little excessive. Here’s a picture of me being frustrated after:

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But, we did have an awesome last night in Siem Reap. We wanted a romantic night together and we found this charming restaurant called Bugs Cafe. We enjoyed an insect fondue with each other. It’s love baby. Yup, just a cricket and silkworm dessert.

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The place is cleverly put together though. The owner told us he stresses that the restaurant be spotless clean to help customer’s psyche when eating bugs. The menu items are mixed with normal food items as well, so it’s not too overwhelming. A solid end to Cambodia.

Bangkok: Ok, so if you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know I haven’t had much positive things to say about Bangkok, Thailand. I’m keeping this brief. The flight from Siem Reap to Bangkok is hilariously short. Without exaggeration, it’s like flying from San Diego to Los Angeles. I listened to a song on my iPod before they announced we were descending.

We met a German couple who were coincidentally staying at the same place we were. Good thing too because the ride from the airport cost 400 baht. ($12ish USD) This commute shouldn’t have been more than 150 baht, but Don Meung Airport has a clever way of running taxis at higher rates. It is what is, and was no where like the scams we encountered.

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The people in Bangkok are polar opposite of the Khmer. They’re gruff and bitter looking. You get an unwelcome vibe in the city and they appear to be pissed off all the time. On top of that, everyone is out to rip you off. Our driver this morning to Siam Square filled up gas after picking us up, but kept the meter running. We told him to restart it and even though he knew he was caught, he was livid with us and rushed us out of the car once we reached our destination. Lonely Planet has sound advice about avoiding these notorious scams. Drivers will often offer flat rates that are three times what it should be or “forget” to turn the meter on and charge you a flat rate.

We checked out Siam Discovery which is a mall that of Singapore standards. Their malls are huge. We spent time in that part of town to avoid the heat and scammers. Getting home was a different story. After turning down two drivers trying to charge 500 baht for an 80 baht ride, we had to settle for the third driving offering 150 (originally 200). It was here that we realized during their rush hour, they scam foreigners with flat rates saying their meters don’t work. But, they have functioning meters when it comes to Thai people. It only takes a few looks in other cabs to witness this.

Basically, Bangkok sucks. The rest of Thailand is supposed to be amazing, but Bangkok sucks. Everything I wrote and more of the stuff I didn’t is the epitome of why Bangkok sucks. Everyone is trying to rip you off and those that aren’t, scowled at you and make you feel unwelcome. We take off the Vietnam tomorrow and we are ready for it.

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Kings 2014 Champs=Good for hockey in California

It’s probably been about 20 minutes (probably even longer once this is posted) since I watched LA King’s Alec Martinez score in double overtime in a game 5 against the New York Rangers to win their second Stanley Cup in three seasons. Easily, the King’s road in the playoffs, for me personally, was the most exciting four rounds of hockey I’ve watched in a while. A few weeks ago it was even hailed that the Western Conference Final between LA and Chicago was classic, fast-paced hockey. Needless to say, watching the King’s in the playoffs has been heart pounding and exciting, with an excellent finish.

Now, before the bandwagoning accusations start flying, let me set the record straight: I’m a diehard Red Wings fan from pre-puberty days and I laugh at modern day Kings fans who don’t know who Barry Melrose is. Below I will demonstrate my proof:

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I’m about 10-years-old here; around two years after the Wings swept the Washington Capitals to be the last team to win the Cup two years in a row.

 

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I also got arrested in October of 2011. Notice anything? That’s right! My face does look chubby!

 

 

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I’m also a huge fan of the sport in general. I played for my high school and won state back in 2006. So does this eliminate any bandwagon allegations yet? If not, well, I can poop on your face if that helps.

 

Back to the topic at hand: the Kings, at the hands of muppet face Darryl Sutter, now lead the three California hockey teams (Anaheim-1 cup, San Jose-0, LA-2) in Stanley Cup Championships. Now, regardless of how you feel about the Kings, set aside all emotions and just hear me out. With LA bringing the Cup to SoCal twice, not only is California slowly being put on the map in regards to hockey, but it seems California residents are finally paying attention to a great sport. Now that the Lakers suck, those alleged sports fan have another local team to root for.

Throughout my childhood, basketball, baseball, and especially football dominated popular sporting events and I was always the outcast watching those pasty Europeans and Canadiens chase a piece of rubber around. Now, California’s basketball teams don’t make it past the second round of the NBA playoffs and the NFL is turning into a circus sideshow, with players bitching about pass interference to get an extra 15 yards. And baseball, well, I’ll try avoid being bias about baseball (it sucks). When the Anaheim Ducks won back in 2007, it brought some minor attention (and yes, bandwagons) to the sport. It was also great seeing Teemu Selanne get his name on the cup. I mean, who doesn’t like that guy? Unfortunately, Anaheim is not a major city like Los Angeles, so the attention is minimal. And let’s be honest: The San Jose Sharks are the San Diego Chargers of hockey. They look great in the regular season, but blow it in the playoffs. I don’t think anyone is waiting around for San Francisco’s unwanted step brother to pull off any magic.

With Los Angeles, people know that name. With Anaheim, I generally had to remind my friends in San Francisco (I spent my college life there) that it’s where Disneyland is. When I say hockey is a great sport, I don’t use “great” lightly. It’s fast, physical, intense and most of all, there’s so much respect in the game. I recommend to anyone who is new to the sport to read The Code. It discusses the aesthetics of fighting in hockey and how wrong people are when they call it “barbaric.” Anyone else notice how at the end of every playoff series there’s a handshake line? There’s so much respect and class in that sport that it’s mind boggling how people watch anything else.

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And I can’t fathom how Superbowl Champs call themselves “world champs.” It’s an American sport! No one else plays it, so I guess technically, you are the best team in the world. But I was too distracted to give a fart during Kurt Russell’s pre game introductions. Going back to class in hockey, watch Teemu Selanne’s post game 7 interview, after the Ducks lost to the Kings earlier this playoff year. It was Selanne’s last NHL game and the Kings pounded their sticks on the ice (it’s a hockey way to convey various positive emotions). I think he sums it up quite nicely. “[Class] it’s what the game is about.”

 

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https://www.evernote.com/shard/s370/sh/374afba9-c68b-4e14-8fb9-1b63e06bff77/35c79a29b5042ae895545803516a749b

Click that ^ please to further your understanding.

Once LA started gaining momentum and looked like a threat in the playoffs back in 2012 (first time since 2001) people started paying attention. I’ve noticed a surge in old friends and companions I had back in high school who started waving the King flag, but flash back to when I’m 16, they didn’t know what icing was. Now, they’re talking hockey smack and going to sports bars to rep their team. Hey, I completely agree with many of the bangwagoning accusations. Yeah, more likely than not, they’re paying attention because the Kings won. The Kings have them. The Ducks had them. The Red Wings have them. There’s no escaping it. But regardless of that, it’s a great stepping stone for hockey to gain more West Coast recognition and fans. Those poor souls who wait all year for a 16 week season (football) of prancing goons, or those who have the time to watch all 8,435 baseball games, now hopefully, have had their eyes opened. There’s a great sport being played and we can finally stop basketball from being played at every restaurant! The Mid-West and East Coast are fine; they don’t need any additional help. The West Coast does! Especially California.

We’re a coastal state. People are surf bums, potheads, hipsters, assholes, and there’s a ridiculous rivalry between NorCal and SoCal, where all the beef is really in the Bay Area for reasons I’ll never understand, other than to toot their own horn. Even if you’re a disgruntled Shark fan, look at the grand scheme of things! We’re not known for this sport on ice, but we’re slowly gaining momentum and fans along the way. It’s the last few sports played with any real heart.

Sure, some of the fans will probably dwindle away once the Kings lose their crown, but to sum all of this up, how I see this, it’s great exposure to one of the greatest sports ever played. The more fans that this sport can gather, the better. Speaking of cups, I say this with the upmost sincerity:

There is only one cup in my book and it has nothing to do with soccer.

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Hockey memes courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/hockeymemepage

Check that out! Quite hilarious.

 

Jesus, let’s grab a beer: Mormons Part I: 1/25/14

This recap was written 2 weeks after the actual date. Serious noting didn’t start until my 2nd visit with the Mormons. I sent a text to the number the “Book of Mormon’s” playbill to receive a free book. One week later, two Elders visited my house.

My initial encounter with Elder Larman and Elder Cheung is exactly how Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park and Book of Mormon musical, describe them. They really look like they’re on the verge of dancing/singing. They are so friendly and polite. I invited them in and they asked if they should take off their shoes. I almost broke out laughing, not because I’m trying to mock them, but because it was so shockingly polite; that uncomfortable laugh.

I respectfully declined their request. They say down with their shoes on and we opened up in prayer; another thing they asked before proceeding with. After, from what I remember, they gave an introduction about who they are and what they do. They’re Mormon missionaries serving in San Francisco, but are from somewhere else and serve almost 24/7. They wear those slacks and ties you normally see, and they share a cell phone. So, whenever I call Elder Larman, I’m calling Elder Cheung as well.

They asked what I knew about the Mormon religion and they seemed surprised that I had decent knowledge about the reason and resurrection of Jesus, the Angel Moronai speaking to big J. Smith, and Smith translating a third part of God’s testimony, now known as the Book of Mormon, from gold plates with special seeing stones…..even though no one ever saw it. They asked what I thought about Jesus Christ. I replied, “I want to view him as a historical figure, and discover more about him, in some context other than a Bible.” Apparently, that’s what the BOM is, according to them in answering my statement.

For the most part, it was very much an introductory sit down and to get information, I’d have to seek out God and their teachings. I showed an interest to keep our conversation going. There’s only one thing that sticks out from this encounter. I asked Elder Larman why he finds Mormonism to be the right religion, as opposed to the others. He grew up in a Christian family, in Texas, and he was at an age of trying to find “answers.” A great meaning to life so-to-speak. He got on his knees and prayed to God to help him discover the truth. It was here, where he felt God tell him, “You’ve always known the truth.”

Flashback: Elder Larman remembered a time where he was briefed about Joseph Smith and the BOM and this moment, is what he correlated with the truth. He felt the “Holy Ghost” tell him that Mormonism was the way to go. Through Larman’s story and him discussing his faith, something struck me. Seeing him describe his life and religion on such an emotional level got me ALMOST sharing his emotions. I felt, “Holy shit! What if he’s right? This is a powerful feeling!” But, after this split second, this moment reminded me of a ceremony I attended at a Christian church when I was younger. At this time, I stopped calling myself religious, so I must have been 17+. The pastor was speaking about the blood of Christ and how being born again is an amazing experience. What I felt here, was the same feeling I had with the Elders.

But it was the emotions that were striking me, not their belief. It’s such a fallacy; appeal to emotions. I’ll touch more on this later. But, what I can say is, if I was someone who was seeking a sense of belonging or answers, I’d probably buy into Mormonism and let me emotions take over and throw out rationality. My emotions and brain would be convincing me that I’m feeling Jesus. This was really the tip of the iceberg. I discovered more of this emotional appeal when I visited them at their chapel.

BUT…….I finally received my free books!

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Jesus, let’s grab a beer: Intro

It has taken me a while to transcribe my thoughts and feelings about these endeavors. Everything I am writing (now and in the future of this “series”) probably won’t be conveyed as well as I hope. I’m sure I will forget minuscule, yet important details. This series, if I bother to keep it going, will include something I hate doing; taking myself serious. 

Before getting to the main point of all this, like everything else, it’s probably important to start in the beginning. My girlfriend and I went to see the musical, “Book of Mormon” and the show’s playbill had advertisement saying “the book is always better.” It offered some number to text, and receive a free copy of the actual book and being a sucker for free shit, I caved in. 

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A few days later, I get a call from Mormon missionaries asking if we could get together. I knew it! There’s a catch! I can’t even get a free book without a lecture. It’s like those time share scams. But, I agreed and they came over. And this is where my journaling started. Being fascinated by religion, I started meeting any religious affiliate I could to not just educate myself, but understand how people believe this stuff. “Jesus, let’s grab a beer” includes my journal entries about my conversations, while including my two cents. 

INTRODUCTION: 

To explain what I believe in takes too long and may sound too vague. I guess you could say I’m an Agnostic deist if we had to use labels.  I do feel like there’s something spiritual out there and if there’s a higher being or creator, he doesn’t give a shit. “You’re a bad game of sims.”-Bo Burnham 

Any religious belief, be it Christianity or Mormonism, the burden of proof is on their end and I have yet to be convinced that what they believe is credible. I don’t dismiss Evolution and I lean more toward science than faith, and why I lean that way is a different discussion and not the point of why I’m doing this.

Whether or not a person believes religion is the heart of evil or the central foundation of a person’s life, I find religion fascinating and want to learn more. I don’t know, maybe it’s my love of fantasy or science fiction as a result of what excites me about religion, as cooky as they are. It’s why I haven’t converted to anything; I want to learn about beliefs on the whole spectrum, but it’s impossible if I have a presupposition about Jesus; then discussion turns to debate. Basically, I can’t be a Christian trying to learn about Mormonism because it wouldn’t be a learning experience; it would be a “No, my fairytale has more truth than yours. You’re wrong!”

I’m not looking for a heated debate nor am I trying to call someone stupid, I just want to talk. The discussion aspect has a tendency to turn to mockery, while religion uses hell and outdated metaphors to oppress gay people. I don’t want anything like that. I did this for myself and I just recorded my own thoughts and reflections.

After spending my last year in college reading Richard Dawkin’s book, or following the late Christopher Hitchens, the debate excited me. I was fascinated with Lawrence Krauss’s discussion on “nothingness” and I watched a lot of Atheist Experience out of Texas. I also laughed every time Pat Robinson and Ray Comfort opened their mouths. I started leaning toward the atheist perspective, but it became a bias and I would just look for anything that would discredit religious beliefs. If I really want to learn about this, and if I’m as “open” about it, I should hear it from other people that aren’t on the internet.

So, my journals encompass my experiences as what they are; learning experiences. I don’t profess to know anything and quite frankly, I understand jack shit about the majority of these topics. These are not meant to really be viewed as anything more than journal entries and if someone decides to read it, awesome. But, come on Jesus, let’s grab a beer.

Riot Fest, Denver: You Are Unprepared

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I could be wrong about everything you are about to read. If I am, this blog doesn’t get any better.

Normally, I hate music festivals and even took the trivial time to write an opinion piece about how much I hate them. But with a lineup consisting of some great punk bands, new and old, Riot Fest, Denver sounded like a great, nostalgic time. With the festival expanding to Colorado and Toronto this year, these sounded like better locations then, let’s say, Palm Springs is for a festival. It even seemed worth it to fly out to Colorado from San Francisco just for the weekend. Then, late September happened. Colorado has been no stranger to severe weather this past week. From severe thunderstorms and flooding, it makes someone like me happy to live in a state like California. Rain or shine, the Riot Fest was scheduled to continue. To sum up how the weather affected the festival (and since this is not a narrative about my weekend,) if you have been paying attention to the flooding, the festival was postponed Sunday for over two hours because of a severe thunderstorm. Bands eventually performed with shortened set lists. It was during this whole fiasco that I realized how unprepared the organizers of Riot Fest: Denver, were for weather problems and arranging a festival all together. I camped the weekend, so this is from the perspective of just some silly camper.

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The festival was held on a giant stretch of land known as May Farms, owned by Gary May, and it is located in the small town of Byers, which by the way, has some of the nicest people you can hope to meet. One of the liquor store clerks I met mentioned that holding this festival in their small town, according to May, was supposed to put their small town on the map. It sounded logical. Nothing like bringing in a few drunken idiots to put some revenue into your small town. And that’s where some of the problems started. In my opinion, Mr. May did not realize what he was getting himself into. You have punk music, you have drunk people and you’re charging over $130 to camp and park; you’re going to piss people off. Not to mention a last minute booze itinerary list change of what campers can bring in caused some confusion. Refusing to purchase beers at $7 a pop, my girlfriend and I would drive to local liquor stores to buy our own case of beer. According to the liquor store owner I met, (whom I’m leaving her name and store name out of) it was not well communicated between liquor store owners and the festival organizers about what type of booze is allowed to be brought in and as a result, you have glass bottles and wine coolers being dumped at the campground check-in grounds. Also, liquor store owners couldn’t warn booze purchasers that no glass bottles, liquor or wine wasn’t allowed in because they found out from the attendees the day of. This was not well communicated to the festival attendants either until about a few days before the festival, so for all we know, our booze was being stored in May’s private farm barn. However, if you worked the festival, it was no problem to bring in glass bottles of tequila.

The results? A bunch of pissed off, drunken campers. Aside from the people working the small general store, the staff did jack to provide assistance. They were virtually ghosts unless it involved dumping booze in a trash can. You don’t really expect much when you’re camping, but you can tell that the festival was rushed into formation and the staff didn’t know how to handle a festival crowd. I have snuck in festivals before, but this was way too easy. I don’t know if the staff was too focused on enforcing the “no outside food or drink policy” but myself, and people who clearly didn’t purchase the tickets, were hopping fences to get in. That’s how I got my outside beer in.

I don’t want to rip on the staff too much; they were enforcing a set of unclear rules from an oblivious person. My girlfriend and I drove around the town of Byers in between bands and had the privilege of meeting the great people of the town, but also learning how some of the townsfolk were up in arms about the festival. Oh, the reason we drove around was out of boredom. Aside from overly expensive carnival games, people were lying around out of boredom because the festival provided nothing to do. If I’m dishing out cash for the festival itself, I don’t want to pay extra money to ride a ferris wheel. Take notes from Coachella. But one thing we learned from the townsfolk is that their local firefighters had to also work the festival, as volunteers, and unpaid. They were not well equipped with a medical staff, so they were borrowing from the town without bothering to pay them. Keep in mind, this is just what I heard from local liquor store owners and farmers. I don’t know how accurate it is. Being unpaid was the theme for this festival. I got two free beers from the beer vendors because I tipped three bucks. What the bartender said is that the festival is NOT paying them hourly and they are solely paid from tips. Which sucks, because with how expensive beers were, it was not likely you were going to tip. They were getting screwed. Speaking of beer vendors, work on what you have to offer for beer Mr. May. Every festival I’ve been to has some decent choices. An IPA and a Pabst should both not be $7. But hey, your land virtually was destroyed by this festival, so what do I care. Here is a pretty good list about what did and did not work at Riot Fest, Denver if you want to check it out.

Then, alas, came day two. It was pretty sunny until about 5 pm, when Public Enemy performed.

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After their set, the rain started coming down hard. The rain and shine festival soon turned into an emergency evacuation. Over loud speakers we heard that the weather was going to be severe and to seek shelter. We packed up our tent and bolted to our car. It was unclear what we were supposed to do at this point so everyone in the parking lot just honked their horns, and were being loud, making the best out of a seemingly dangerous situation.

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This too, was another point in the weekend that made the festival appear unprepared. In an article published by The Denver Post, Lt. Chris George of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department was quoted saying “We had an emergency plan prepared, and put that plan in place in cooperation with Riot Fest.” I’m not sure what this emergency plan was because it did not appear there really was one.

87 were taken by bus to Byers High School for shelter. Which is great, but this sounds like a Titanic-type of situation. There were thousands of attendees and campers and only 87 were evacuated. Great emergency plan. Look, my opinion on this whole situation, for all I know, is misguided and completely false. I don’t want to take a shit on the Sheriff’s Department or anyone else (too much at least.) I’m just thinking out loud.

The real emergency plan appeared to be every man for themselves and go hide in your car, which for the record, is a pretty safe place to hide during thunder and lightning storms. So I guess their plan was great. Besides close lightning strikes and loud thunder, the storm never got much worst. If it did, I’m really curious how they would have handled it. That’s a lot of people to evacuate and there was no staff or medical presence before or after the storm. If their plan was to have the crowds of people drive away from May Farms before the severe part of the storm hit, that is a dangerous idea. Aside from the fact traffic in and out of that place is a nightmare and the main highway is only two lanes, everyone has been drinking. The people we were hiding out next to and ourselves were discussing how dangerous this night could get if it was decided to have everyone leave on their own. They would have been sending out drunk drivers in a storm. It almost sounds like an ethics question really: “Would you send out a drunk driver to drive away from a hurricane if it meant that was their only option to be safe?”

We never received an “ok” to return to the festival 2 hours after and it was obvious, we were all on our own. We were left out of the loop with information about the storm and festival; most of us just followed weather patterns on our phones to put it all together. We all sort of guessed when it was safe to return to the festival. To justify charging us full price, we saw the remaining bands for the day play for about 20 minutes instead of the scheduled hour. It is better than nothing I supposed and to give credit where credit is due, many of the bands were fantastic live. Against Me! primarily.

We slept in our car that night and planned on leaving early Monday morning. It rained all night and the patch that was once a dirt parking lot, turned into an ocean of mud. Anyone who attempted to drive that did not have a truck or jeep, were stuck. Words can’t explain how much of a shit show this mud grave of cars looked like. It looked like a scene after a huge weather disaster. People were stuck left and right and it was every man for themselves. Once word got out that no one was getting out, the festival organizers quickly arranged for help to come. Just kidding, they weren’t around and when the one staff member I saw drive by, they turned the other cheek. Maybe we should have given them a bottle of wine to dump out first.

Everyone called their own tow trucks, but with the serious flooding and how many distress calls of being at the mercy of mud AAA was receiving, no one was coming for at least 2 hours minimum. We were on our own. Strangers soon became our best friends. We helped one couple push their car all the way to stronger ground and the favor was reversed. Two hours later,  we made it out of the mud. Driving out of the exit, it was desolate with the exception of other cars being stuck. Staff remained a ghost and it as corny as it sounds, it was a sad and lonely scene. All these cars trapped with people getting dirtied up in the cold rain trying to push them all the way to the exit. No help came nor was given, except the assistance between festival attendants. I feel lucky that my girlfriend and I met this guy, Nick whom we helped. Otherwise, I’d be writing this blog from Denver International. No help came nor was given, except the assistance between festival attendants.

I learned from AAA that they were working with the actual county to send in help for everyone that was stranded. If this was a result of festival organizers assisting to help, then the only thing they really had to work on was relaying information better. I’m probably just a whiner about this whole scenario, but when you hear from other townsfolk about how unprepared their town was for this festival, it makes sense. They were a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off when it came to handling a large group of people. If the storm got worst, I’m really curious how that would have turned out.

On a positive note, the bands kicked ass and I hope Riot Fest continues expanding to various locations. Their lineups are awesome and I’d even go to the Byers location again. If they learn from the mistakes of this past year, it has potential to be something great in years to come.

The Guide To Being A Man?? LOL

How old this column of “advice” may be, I was just recently exposed to it. It is essentially CNBC’s John Carney, who also is behind the @GSElevator twitter account, giving his insight on being a “real man” You don’t know who John Carney is? It is ok. A simple google search won’t clear that up. Anyway, Mr. Carney was kind enough to offer his insight on what it takes to be a “real man” in 2013. But it all it ends up sounding like is a graduated frat boy’s list of how to remain a douchebag, yet, still try appear as an adult. You can check out the original page here. In the meantime, here are my rebuttals to his list. I am just another asshole with an opinion, keep in mind. 

(my responses are in bold)

You will regret your tattoos.- Will I really though? I love my tattoos. Mine are just a reflection of my Norwegian background and my love for Irish music. Mr. Carney, do you have tattoos? Do you regret yours? I’m pretty sure I’d regret my tattoos as well if it was ridiculous font spewing out “Only God Can Judge Me” or having my last name tattooed on my back. Then yes, I would regret my tattoos. I’d also be writing a column on how to be a real man, when in reality, I’m just suppressing how big of a tool I am. 

Stop talking about where you went to college.- This is the first of many words of wisdom that has no correlation with being a man. Yes, someone who talks about their college continuously is irritating, but so are roided out brothers talking about how many handles of no-label vodka they killed. To each its own Mr. Carney. This does not contribute to one’s masculinity, it contributes to whether or not people are going to want to hang out with them. Let people be proud and live in the past as long as they want. 

The best public restrooms are in hotels.-Um, I’ll call bullshit. The best public restroom is the great outdoors. Ever been camping and were in desperate need of a quick piss or poop? Have no fear. You just drop your pants and let your body do the rest. There are no stall lines and you don’t have to deal with the pesky task of washing your hands. I don’t need my shits to feel prestigious, elite or 5 stars. I just need enough dirt to bury my shit in a hole. 

After college, never stay out after midnight three nights in a row… Unless something really good comes up on the third night.-Or unless there is a 3 day weekend. You let me dictate my own sleep pattern Mr. Carney. A real man comes inside when the street lights come on. 

If riding the bus doesn’t incentivize you to improve your station in life, nothing will.-Do you live in San Francisco? Owning a car sucks, and has nothing to do with your station in life. Riding the bus is great! You can drink all the Natural Ice you want and not have to worry about driving home! Why does owning a car make you a man? At $4 a gallon, it makes you stupid. I have professors on tenure or sabbatical and they ride Muni. I would say my professors, who encouraged my growth and learning experience, have a great station in life. Does owning a nice car make you feel better about yourself? Most people just end up making fun of your penis size.  

Time is too short to do your own laundry.-…said the person who doesn’t know how to do their own laundry. But hey, I can’t help but agree. Time is too short to wipe your own ass, blow your own nose, pump their own gas: YOLO bro.  

When the bartender asks, you should already know what you want to drink.- Unless you’re at a brewery bar or speakeasy. Been to one of those? You’re foolish if you don’t take the time to enjoy the different options of the beers or cocktails they offer. But no, you’re right. Just continue having your whiskey or rum watered down with Coke. God damn, what a man! You probably drink Cosmopolitans too. 

You don’t have to like baseball, but you should understand the concept of what a pitcher’s ERA means. Approach life similarly.-Well that’s stupid. Do you understand the concept of icing, cross-checking, boarding or a Gordie-Howe hat-trick? If not, it is probably because you don’t watch hockey and I wouldn’t expect you to know these things otherwise. Speaking of which, if you want to discuss manliness, just look up professional hockey players Steve Stamkos or Greg Campbell, and that will help define your precious definition. The best part about these guys and sport is the humility, which, if we are going to discuss being a “man,” just makes you a decent person; much more than discussing those bitches you fucked with your frat buddies while jerking off on each other. Take notes. I don’t like baseball because it’s stupid, boring and being how unpatriotic I am, I could care less if it is America’s favorite past time. Also, stop trying to sound deep by applying the concept of understanding baseball terminologies to living life. Try this one on for size: If you don’t like something, don’t watch it. Deep, eh? 

When people don’t invite you to a party, you really shouldn’t go. And sometimes even when you are invited, you shouldn’t go.-When people don’t invite you to party, you really shouldn’t go because you weren’t invited. It’s rude. When you are invited, and still don’t go, well then you’re just a flake and most people will stop caring about you making an appearance. Nothing to do with manliness, just being pretentious. You’re on a roll good sir. 
 


When in doubt, always kiss the girl.-Sure, but your mom doesn’t count. 

Tip more than you should.– Also, nothing to do with masculinity. However, a very kind gesture. Anyone in the service industry will certainly appreciate this. So, you’re not completely hopeless. 

When the bouncer says it’s time for you to leave, it is.-Yeah, probably. What’s your manly point? 

Buy expensive sunglasses. Superficial? Yes, but so are the women judging you. And it tells these women you appreciate nice things and are responsible enough not to lose them.-Are you only going for superficial girls? I have Star Wars posters in my room and heck, my girlfriend still likes me. I also have an HD Television as well as a Pearl Export drum set. Both of which are more expensive than sunglasses, more useful, in good shape and I appreciate these nice things a lot. Does that really say anything more than I enjoy my movies in HD and I play music as a hobby? Guess what Mr. Carrey, or is it Carney? Sorry, this got long. Chicks dig musicians! I’ll stick to my Wal-Mart sunglasses while being better at something than you. This doesn’t make me more of a “man” than you; it just shows that I have a passion for something other than being Patrick Bateman. Enjoy your spray tan. 

Do 50 push-ups, sit-ups, and dips before you shower each morning.-You’re health conscious. That’s a great thing. Something that applies to both sexes. You’re so smart.  


Eat brunch with friends at least every other weekend.-Why brunch? Whenever I’ve had brunch, no one has ever walked by and said, “Hey Connie! Look at that man!” Is brunch really the manly meals of all meals? Can’t I just circle jerk with my friends every other weekend instead? It’s cheaper and we still have time to watch the game. 

Be a regular at more than one bar.-Or get a new hobby/past time. If drinking is your main activity of nightlife other than having people make fun of you, you’re stupid. 

No selfies. Aspire to experience photo-worthy moments in the company of a beautiful woman.-You sound like someone who instagrams their food. 

Posting pictures on Facebook from a private jet or Vegas suite let’s everyone know it’s your first time… and probably the last.-Or you can just let them post pictures about their life, when in reality, no one cares. Your pictures serve no more purpose to the general public or your friends than the aforementioned. I’d personally be pretty stoked to be on a private jet. Is being stoked about something you normally don’t get to do make you less masculine? Well then, I lost all my masculine points getting excited over Miley Cyrus’s new jam.   

You can get away with a lot more if you’re the one buying the drinks.-You can also have some money left over for that manly brunch date the next day if you’re coaxing others to buy your rounds. I can also get away with a lot more on the internet. What’s your point Darwin? 

Ask for a salad instead of fries.
-Dressing on the side right? This will make it ok to continue pumping alcohol in your system. Thank goodness for that salad. 

Don’t split a check.-Your server would probably appreciate that. You have some kind gestures littered through here Mr. Corny. 

Pretty women who are unaccompanied want you to talk to them.-…said Captain Douchebag. Have you ever worked in a bar sir? Often times, a pretty woman just wants to read a book (or iPad) and drink their wine. Or did your steroids and spray tan give you the impression everyone likes you? “They hate us, because they ain’t us.”-said every insecure jackoff. 

When a bartender buys you a round, tip double. -I will give you this; when it comes to restaurant etiquette,

 I’d really hope to serve you one day. Your man tips, however, come across as vague. 

Find a Times New Roman in the streets and a Wingdings in the sheets. She exists.-“A day without sunshine is like night.” What’s your point? 

Piercings are liabilities in fights.-Very true. Do you just assume, Mr. Manly, that being a man, means you’re going to fight? Anyone who has the audacity to make this list can have their asses kicked by my sister. (she’s pretty scary though) Pressing your faces close together, resisting a quick smooch, while yelling “What the fuck bro?” isn’t a fight. This is a fight.

Desserts are for women. Order one and pretend you don’t mind that she’s eating yours.
-Excuse me? Have you ever had Chubby Hubby? You’re missing out. You appear to fancy yourself a prestigious fellow. What about those fancy 3 course meals? I managed to have one in Napa, paired with different types of wine. When they handed me the dessert paired with a Cabernet, I didn’t act sexist and respond, “Oh, no thanks! Desserts are for women.” Desserts aren’t like a piece of clothing. 

Buy a tuxedo before you are thirty. Stay that size.
-You sound very health conscious. I admire that. But does it have to be a tuxedo? Girls do the same thing with a pair of jeans or their wedding dresses. The desire to want to fit into a piece of clothing you purchased at 30 doesn’t mean you’re a man; it means you want to remain fit. 

One girlfriend at a time is probably enough.
-Oh man, could you imagine having two? Think of the headaches! Actually, having more than one makes you a dick. 

Throw parties. 
But have someone else clean up the next day.-Be an asshole! Why don’t you have the people who do your laundry clean your house? Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?

Measure yourself only against your previous self.-A good piece of advice for everyone. Still, not applicable to one sex. You suck. 

If you wear a baseball cap in bars, the girls will assume you are balding.-What about beanies? Fedoras? Those cool hats from the 30s? If you wear a muscle t-shirt in a bar, the bar will assume you’re a tool. 

Revenge can be a good way of getting over anger.-Well, good thing I’m writing this.  



If she expects the person you are 20% of the time, 100% of the time, then she doesn’t want you.-No one ever liked you for your personality, did they?

Always bring a bottle of something to the party.

– A very sweet gesture again. There’s a human being in there! I can sense it!

Avoid that “last” whiskey. You’ve probably had enough.-It’s not whiskey if you put Coke in it, pussy.  


If you are wittier than you are handsome, avoid loud clubs.-Yeah, probably. Clubs are stupid and only exist to boost your ego for your mediocre social status. Enjoy your $20 vodka tonic. If you’re handsome and a real man, you spend an hour on WordPress responding to a “Be A Real Man List…” Duh!  


Learn how to speak before a large audience.-That’s what my speech teacher said. That class had more than just dudes in it. Probably a good skill to learn for everyone. 

Do not buy the product insurance.-Just because you said not to, I’m going to. You mad bro?

If it’s got velvet ropes and lines, walk away unless you know someone.-If the line is too long, get a Fastpass, and go on the Buzz Lightyear ride.  


No one cares if you are offended, so stop it.-This whole piece is just ironic then isn’t it, queer? Is that offensive?  


Never take an ex back. She tried to do better and is settling with you.-What are you, 17? 

Eating out alone can be magnificent. Find a place where you can sit at the bar.-It really can. But I thought if someone was alone, it should be assumed that they want us to talk to them. 

Read more. It allows you to borrow someone else’s brain, and will make you more interesting.-Well, if you’re trying to pick up on superficial girls, they can’t read anything else except their iPhones, so the idea of reading is obsolete. Also, reading “The Hunger Games” doesn’t make you more interesting. 

Don’t ever say, “It is what it is.”-You’re a douche. it is what it is. 

Start a wine collection for your kids when they are born. Add a few cases every year without telling them. It’ll make a phenomenal gift in twenty years.Or be a “real man” and build them a treehouse, eh? What if your kids don’t like wine? What a phenomenal waste of time. 

Don’t gamble if losing $100 is going to piss you off.Probably, yeah. I still don’t get where this ties in to the man factor.

 

Holy shit, did you get through all that? If so, here’s a picture of the Emperor.

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Do you also find it funny that I took the time to respond to all of that? So do I. I’m just another asshole with a blog, my opinion doesn’t really matter, but I certainly have fun writing it. Thank you and go with Christ. 

I Have Too Much ADD To Write A Novel

My life is not that intriguing or interesting, but it makes me laugh. Nothing I write you will probably find compelling and quite frankly, i don’t know why I’m prompting a blog as if someone will read it.

My life is not one continuous journey; to me it’s just a collection of short stories. I don’t have the mental capacity or patience to write anything with a continuous story line and I have too much ADD to write a novel.

Short stories sound like the easiest format and outlet to put into words shit that makes me laugh, my uncreative mind or just hilarity. I have a boner.