Reality Check

MacKay and I post up out on our little balcony at Soluna and pour a couple of Maker’s and Cokes. Kick the feet out, another fine afternoon on Langkawi island, cheers. Ahhhhh I’m gonna miss this place. It ended up being the perfect spot to wind down the trip and finish things up in style. Scooters, Jet Skis, ATVs, a sky bridge, killer beach, great food and night life, super chill vibe and great new people to hang out with.
Can’t ask for anything better than that.

We crack open the lappy and pull up a map. Time to start planning the next adventure. We pitch a few ideas back and forth. Maybe something nautical? We come to the conclusion that there’s something to the whole roadtrip thing (yes, boats still count as roadtrips). The Mongol Rally and the first part of our Pan-Am trip both had a ‘je ne sais quoi’ about them. Part of it is the freedom to go wherever you want whenever you want. You’re not bound to bus/train/plane schedules. Another bonus is just being forced off the path, into ‘real’ places. Stopping in quaint little towns along the way that no one ever goes to just because you need gas, water or a fucking snickers bar. On the outskirts where we truly don’t belong. And of course nothing smells quite like two sweaty dudes blaring dance metal tunes in a steamy jalopy totally lost out in the middle of nowhere.

With that in mind we start putting together a tentative route through (—DFN LVL9 Seguridad—) and toss some preliminary ideas into a shared google doc.

On to our next drink and we’re divvying up the rest of the blog posts we need to write about this here SEA adventure. Hard to keep up with the writing when you’re out doing something awesome every day/night. Doesn’t help that my shitpad took a shit and died way back in Hue. I email us all the notes I’ve got in my phone so we can ‘remember’ the finer and dumber details of the trip.

With the ‘business’ wrapped up we kill the rest of the Maker’s talking about what MacKay will be up to next. He says he’ll be playing it by ear and seeing how far the money goes. Might go to Taiwan, he’d missed that whole part of our Taiwan/Hong Kong trip. He’s got friends in Japan he could visit. Will probably kick around Langkawi a bit longer. Must be nice. I’ve got to get back to reality unfortunately.

The taxi pulls up. It’s time to go. I fake for the man hug with MacKay and go in for a tickle fight instead. On contact he starts giggling like a school girl, “Weren’t expecting that were ya, were ya?” and it turns into a man chuckle handshake and back clap combo. “Meet you in Japan?”, “Yep. Have a safe trip back”, “Have a good… rest of your life?”, “Haha, yeah. No idea.” I grab my gear and head for the cab. (I can hear MacKay crying behind me but I don’t even look back)

 

It’s always surreal finishing up one of these trips. You get into such a different mode and cadence of life. Mostly off the radar and truly detached. Vacationing but still Rally Hard. It feels more natural than ‘real life’ in a way.

I sleep on the flight from Langkawi to Singapore. I’m wiped. It’s been a blitz. We packed in a lot of amazing shit in six weeks. And I was pretty much sick with one thing or another for the duration. Despite my best efforts to ward it off with alcohol and insomnia.

The Singapore airport is fancy pants. Feels a bit like the one in Hong Kong, all high end shopping, hip lounge areas and glitzy lights. I’ve got a few hours to kill, then an 8 hour flight to Qatar, 4 hour layover there and then fly 16 hours into LAX. (Do the math… it sucks). For some reason the security for my flight is right at the gate. They take the bottle of water I just bought away from me. Once you go through security all you can do is wait to board. There isn’t even bathrooms in there? So there’s no way to bring water on this flight? 8 hours. That’s fucking stupid.

 

The Qatar Airways flight is also super swanky. It’s no Hello Kitty flight but it’s probably the nicest airplane I’ve ever been on. I’m in the very last row unfortunately. Oh actually, looks like I’m in that row all by myself so this is awesome. A super cheesy safety vid comes on featuring Mascherano and Pique from FC Barcelona being really really lame. Still, it’s the best damned safety vid I ever saw. The production value…

I get comfy and drift in and out of sleep for the duration. I’m insanely tired. Without the momentum of adventure and drinks to keep the levels up I’m just a puddle of sleepy goo. I simply can’t stay awake. Every once in a while I’ll wake up and swipe through some trip pics. What a whirlwind. Caught a few natural and man made wonders of the world. Went to some amazing cities and vibrant little towns. Speedboats up the Mekong twice. Trains, planes and automobiles (and balloons) in a giant loop around SEA. Amazing cuisine. Stunning scenery. And of course the people. The wonderful local people we met along the way with their unending generosity and hospitality. The other travelers that we shared drinks and laughs with. That really makes it.

I guess I can say I’ve been to Qatar now, although I don’t really have time to leave the airport. I don’t even go through security on my layover. Oh wait, it’s right at the gate again. And they take the bottle of water I just bought… again. And I have a 16 hour flight, I chug as much as I can before handing it over. That’s cool. I wasn’t really interested in drinking water today. Who’s in charge of the user experience at these airports? It’s terrible.

Narco and I are so disheveled at this point. Dirty smelly pieces of shit. Hours and hours of shitty airplane ‘sleep’. Damn, I haven’t shaved the entire trip. Airports make you crazy.

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On the next flight I somehow end up with a row all to myself again. Glorious for a long ass flight like this one. I phase in and out of sleep and blockbuster movies. Of course the only ones I remember aren’t blockbusters, Mr Fantastic and Kingsguard. They were good. I put a dent in The Road to Oxiana as well. Great book so far, I borrowed it from MacKay. Apparently it’s the bible of travel novels. Holding up so far.

I land in LAX. Don’t wait for luggage, all carry on, all the time. The Fly Away bus doesn’t come for an hour for some reason. So I miss the first two eastward trains. Catch the next one and get dropped off in San Bernadino. Overall travel time is something stupid like 36 hours at this point. Langkawi to Singapore to Qatar to LAX to the bus to the train. I’m totally zonked.

Tha Queebs is there smiling to pick me up at the station, “Beeeeeeeeester!” Giant hug. It feels like forever. Now I’m thinking of Pillow Mountain, ahhhh that’s gonna be sweet. My own bed. A shower. Real life is pretty good too. Very comfortable. Very very convenient. For better or worse.

I get back to Narcopark and debrief my mission findings with Dr Birdrito. He’s very pleased. Another adventure in the books. One of the top… five? times of my life.

I check in with MacKay. He’s still in Langkawi hanging out. Lucky bastard. I’ll be back to work tomorrow. Talk about a reality check. Fuuuuuuck! I’ll be biding my time until the Adventure Detectives are off on another case.

In the meantime, I’ll be following along with whatever McBurger puts on these pages, very jealously… in my pajamas.

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