Welcome to America

Welcome to America

Most Americans would probably agree that it is quite easy to enter this country. But not so. All foreign visitors are subject to an intimidating pre-admission process. Starting on the plane, I had to fill out an entry form answering an array of questions and then sign away my rights to legally challenge any immigration disputes. Upon arrival, I was questioned by an agent and then required to give my fingerprints. Not just one print – but all ten fingers! And then came the face scan for facial recognition security software. “Please, Sir, look at the camera over here.”

As if that weren’t enough to make anyone feel like a criminal, the Department of Homeland Security has gone one step further with their new ESTA scheme. Continue…

California, Here We Come…

…right back where we started from (before Berlin). And we’re doing it in style – in business class!  A very lucky mistake on the part of Philippine Airlines resulted in our being bumped up to business class. Good food, seats that recline into a virtual bed, and, best of all, flight attendants that treat you like you matter. Oh, the pain, will we ever feel comfortable in coach again?!? I fear not.

California, Here We Come

So, what’s in store for us in the “new and improved” version of the United States? Will the Obama-nation feel any different? Will a soon-to-be-bankrupt California feel like we’ve landed back in India? Stay tuned for ContemporaryNomad.com’s coverage of the post-Bush America. Has it really changed? Don’t think we’ll pull any punches just because it’s my home country.

Money, Money, Money

Abba was wrong, it’s not necessarily a rich man’s world. So how can you finance your next intercontinental extravaganza? It’s not as difficult as you might think. The only trick is, you’ll have to spend some money to make some money.

Carl

Our Swedish friends Emelie and Carl, who we met while traveling in India, had the brilliant idea to buy Indian textile items that would appeal to Westerners and then sell them in Sweden. During a recent trip to Calcutta, their entrepreneurial side quickly took over and they went shopping on a big scale. Scarfs, bedspreads, handbags, shawls, and other decorative items. I would have had a lot of fun with that.

But then came the shipping Continue…

Rainy Days on Koh Chang

Thomas on Koh Chang

I don’t know what the heck we expected when we headed for Thailand’s second largest island – sunny beaches and crystal-blue waters? Duh! Koh Chang is one of the wettest places in the country AND it’s monsoon. Not the ideal combination for beach bums.

So now, from different vantage points within our bungalow, we are watching sheets of rain pouring out of ominous clouds – and actually liking it. What’s most enjoyable is Continue…

Khao San Road

khao san

Khao San Road is a travelers’ institution, a piece of backpacking history. Not so long ago this was THE hub of Southeast Asia, the ultimate intersection where travelers spent a few days rejuvenating on mango lassis while they exchanged travel tips and stocked up on the latest boot-legged cassettes. The street was lined with postcards, Nepal bags, some jewelry from Thailand’s northern tribes, and a few pharmacies. Any backpacker worth anything had been to Khao San. The street gained international attention in the 2000 film adaption of “The Beach”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio (and more importantly Tilda Swinton). Perhaps the focus was a little more than Khao San could handle.

Today Khao San feels like the place where manic Fort Lauderdale spring-breakers have crashed into the drugged-out Ibiza crowd. Embarrassingly goofy Continue…

One Night in Bangkok…

… makes a hungry man humble! As Tony mentioned before, food is one of Thailand’s biggest attractions and, I have to admit, my number one motivation for traveling. After having exhausted all my food options in India, I was ready for a new culinary onslaught that would leave my taste buds tingling. And Thailand is just the place for it.

Bangkok Sushi Bar

Food is everywhere and most of what we do revolves around it. Our visit to the Grand Palace wouldn’t have been the same without the spicy Vietnamese pho afterwards. Then there was the Bangkok walking tour which mutated into Continue…

Chatuchak Weekend Market

The great thing about Bangkok is that we get to hang out with our friend Poy, who we first met in Udaipur, Rajasthan and later re-met during the Ladakh festival in Leh.

Eager to show us a little of her city, we all piled into Poy’s car and headed out to the outrageous Chatuchak Weekend Market. OH MY GOD, this is the most Continue…

Bangkok

The last time I was in Bangkok was 1991. Back then, Bangkok was a steamy, filthy third-world capital which wasn’t much different from our last location, Calcutta. I loved it 🙂

My god, it’s unbelievable what 19 years can do! Gone is the filth. The air is far cleaner than it used to be. The low-rise third world city has been replaced with a glistening, ultra-modern, high-rise metropolis which rivals Hong Kong and Singapore. Wow!

My initial disappointment at the fact that my old Bangkok was gone has given way to curiosity at Thailand’s version of modernity. I’m baffled at the hype over China and India when I see what Thailand has become. This appears to be the real country of change.

Two Years on the Road

Just Click a Thumbnail Above to Begin

Wow, two years! We can hardly believe it ourselves. It seems like we just set out from Berlin last week. From Germany to Hong Kong across China and Tibet to India via Nepal, year one saw a lot of movement. Our second year has been almost entirely spent on the Subcontinent. But as those who have followed along have seen, India is a world unto itself. To recall some of our adventures, we’ve put together an interactive gallery.