As a child, I always had a fascination with anything that crawled, slithered, or creeped through the garden. It’s no wonder I now have a fascination with the snakes in Hong Kong.

I would capture every animal I could to examine it further; I even once caught a bluejay a rake when I was in the fourth grade. Fish, lizards, scorpions, snakes, I loved catching them like they were Pokemon. Who knew this love would lead to a scary story in this single dad travel blog?

Thankfully, I was never stung by a scorpion. But I was bitten by snakes as a child, nothing dangerous. But I witnessed their speed and precision first hand. 

Doi Suthep, Thailand
Happy to be alive enough to tell you this story!

And though I was never bitten by a poisonous snake, teeth are teeth.

Now, let me tell you about the time that I missed death by three inches.

The Encounter, Snakes in Hong Kong

As I made my final descent through the mountains of Sai Kung, I reflected on the    unique juxtaposition of city and nature in Hong Kong   . How just a few hours prior you can be in one of the world’s most important financial sectors, and in this moment be encapsulated by green mountains filled with fluttering butterflies, chattering cicadas, and resting snakes. 

I spent the day soaking in the sun on Ham Tin Wan, possibly Hong Kong’s most beautiful beach. The day’s tranquility belied the danger I was going to encounter upon my exit.

single parent parenting blog
Hiking through Hong Kong with my dad and daughtr

I left the beach with a several hour hike through the mountainous jungles ahead of me. 

The trail was partially muddy, a patrol of mosquitoes rose from its sludge and chased my legs as I squished through the trail. Then I felt a strong bite on my left calf muscle. Mosquito, of course. 

I reached down to slap it, inspect the splatter of blood between my hand and lower leg. 

I saw my hand, and slightly out of focus behind it on the ground was something black and pulsing

My eyes dilated and rapidly focused on what I was seeing: hundreds of large, black, diamond-shaped scales wrapped around a curved tube of a body thicker than a softball bat.

snakes in hong kong
I think you get the idea. This isn’t the actual snake I saw, it was not in a woven basket.

Its scaly body pulsed in ominous breaths just inches from where my hiking boot had landed before being bit by the blood splattered mosquito on my leg. 

Time to Die, Thank You Snakes in Hong Kong

Easily within striking distance, the large snakes’ fangs inside its cotton-colored mouth could easily deliver enough venom to kill me.

In the best case scenario, my brain quickly identified, you’re going to be hit with neurotoxins and cardiotoxins, you need to remain calm after you’re bitten to slow their progress through your body.

Knowing I needed to keep calm, I instead jumped, screamed, and nearly lost my balance on the slippery trail. 

The black mass flinched and slithered off into the tapestry of leaves and ferns. 

Had I stepped on that snake–just three inches to the left–with my hard ass hiking boots, it almost certainly would have struck me in defense. 

Hours from the nearest hospital, and quite possibly, the nearest antivenom, I could have easily died in the lush mountainside of Sai Kung. 

Hiking in Hong Kong can be dangerous–would you risk it?


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Considering traveling abroad with children? If you are, then I’m sure you have a million questions jetting around inside your mind: is it safe to travel with children? Do you children adapt well to new cultures? Should I travel with my child? Most importantly, why should I travel with children?

Let me give you a quick answer to the penultimate question: absolutely, you should. There are always things you can do beforehand to prepare, so, prepare.

Now, let me tell you why you should travel with them. First, I’ll hopefully ease your fears, then give you two more important reasons to take your children traveling abroad.

Safety Concerns

Like any parent who is asking themselves the question if they should travel with their child, I have been concerned about my daughter’s safety abroad. More importantly, I am more concerned about her safety in the United States. It seems that every week there is a massacre of one type or another, a horrific act of violence, or a ‘mistake’ that ends in the death of a child.

Traveling with children
Auburn playing safely in Hong Kong, safety equipment and all

So if you’re worried about your child’s safety abroad, I can assure you, they are as safe as anywhere you would take them in the United States. Obviously, travel with caution and diligence; it’s probably not a good idea to take your child to Syria, Somalia, or Iraq, at the moment.

However, don’t be afraid to take your child somewhere that has historically been belittled by American/Western media. Auburn and I have been to Colombia and Vietnam, places I had heard from other Americans (who’d never been there) that I shouldn’t go there because it’s ‘dangerous!’ Now I just laugh when I hear this because I’ve never been to a place outside of the USA that felt more dangerous than living in the USA itself.

Traveling with children in vietnam
Auburn playing with her new-found friends in Ho Tram, Vietnam. I’m pretty sure this sand pile was for construction purposes so likely not the best example of traveling safely 🙂

Learning Opportunities

Can your child get a solid education in the United States? Sure, if you send them to a private school you know and trust. I may sound like a hater in this regard, but the American education system sucks, it sucks big ol’ donkey hooves.

So you think I’m a hater? Not true, I love the United States, but I also love and respect other places for knocking us around in the education department. Take for example that American education ranks just 14th in reading, 25th in maths, and a sad 17th in science.

Traveling with children, class in Ho Chi Minh City
Auburn enjoying her birthday in Ho Chi Minh City, summer camp 2016!

Now I’ll hand you over to my personal experience in public education: donkey hooves. I grew up being taught the letter ‘w’ could sometimes be used as a vowel, that Christopher Columbus was a class-act, and that the USA had never lost a war. Let me scribble that out for you: (1) is B.S., (2) is vomit-inducing, and (3) is utter nonsense. A university-education and the internet have taught me heaps more than what I could have ever hoped to learn (unlearn) from the over-lavished, sub-standard, American public education system.

Now take for example that if you travel with your child, they’ll have the opportunity to learn in a different culture (avoiding common mistakes), see things from a new perspective, and pick up on languages that you probably won’t be able to speak. Get them to put down the new iPhone, the latest gadget, and get outdoors and meet some new people! The new language alone is the best investment you can give your child. Aside from the fact that it might cost $10,000 in the future to learn a new language from a university and you can save that by simply immersing them in the language and culture, but learning a new language also changes your brain, makes you more open, and helps you understand things that monoglots cannot.

Memories Increase Your Lifespan

So maybe you don’t care about your child’s education that much or learning a new language isn’t really on your radar of things you want your child to achieve. Fair enough.

Then, for a moment, imagine a life without memories. Or, more common, a life with the same memory over and over again. How short is that life? Painfully, in my experience.

Traveling with children
Me, my daughter, and my sunburn, all together. Koh Tao, Thailand

I can remember spending each day waking up at the same time to go to the same job at the same place through the same amount of traffic. In my memories, months can pass without any significant change, and that’s where your life gets lost: when you’re not making new memories.

I don’t want to pretend like every day will be different traveling and you’ll remember everything, no, that’s not true. You can fall into routine traveling or living abroad as well. But the move itself, the plethora of new sounds, sights, smells, tastes, textures, people, all add ages to your memory. A year will no longer feel like it flies by when you live or travel abroad, a year can actually feel like a proper year, imagine that?

Traveling with children who sleep on your head
Auburn sleeping on my head in Hong Kong, a memory I won’t forget and she won’t remember 🙂

Travel, Travel Now

So your child will learn more than your standard American B.S., will pick up a new language, will be as safe as ‘back home,’ and you’ll expand your lifetime through an increased diversity of memories? That’s right; if you do it right.

Give me a shout out if you have any questions: do you agree? Disagree? Leave a comment 🙂 And don’t forget to sign up for reminders of future posts through the submission form at the bottom of the page 🙂

Traveling with children to U.P. Michigan
We didn’t have to travel far for this one, just a few hours north of home. Kitch-iti-kipi, Michigan. Simply gorgeous, though it’s better in color, to be honest.

By: Julie Morris 

If you’re a single parent, you may think that single parent travel is out of the realm of possibility. There are always commitments and reasons to put yourself on the back burner, but the truth is, taking time to travel by yourself can be extremely helpful in getting to a place of self-discovery. There’s no reason to feel like you need to be forgiven for this.

It’s difficult to be our best selves when we’re faced with daily stresses and a schedule that never eases up, so in taking time for yourself, you’ll be doing something to help your relationship with your children… and yourself. So do some single parent travel and be a better person for it. 

single parent travel
Get out and enjoy yourself!

The key to traveling solo is planning. Safety is always a concern, especially when you’re in a new country, so being prepared is essential. Packing the right items and knowing how to get around once you’re at your destination can help your trip go smoothly, as well.
Here are some of the best tips on traveling solo and staying safe while having fun.

Single Parent Travel, Plan Well

Do some research on your destination to find out local customs, such as how they handle tipping or shaking hands, and find out what the local scene is like. Is it customary to wear certain items of clothing?

single parent travel
Get lost if you have to, but stay safe

If so, come prepared so you won’t have to go shopping once you get there. It’s important to be able to blend in when you’re in an unfamiliar place, as tourists are often targets for theft or are taken advantage of because they don’t know any better. The more educated you are on where you are traveling to, the better off you will be.

Work out a budget

Solo traveling doesn’t have to break the bank, but you don’t want to find yourself in a tough position in a strange place, so work out a budget ahead of time and stick to it. If you’re in a foreign country and exchanged currency when you arrived, try not to carry too much of it when you go out. Ask the hotel manager if you can keep some things in their safe, including any expensive jewelry (though it’s best to leave these items at home if possible), and your ID and passport, which you can make copies of to carry with you. That way, if you lose your bag or wallet, you’ll still have the originals.

Focus on yourself

When you’re a single parent, your focus is likely almost always on your children: making sure they’re well fed and rested, taking care of anything related to school and childcare, dealing with illnesses. There’s very little time to focus on yourself, so make that a priority on your trip. Book activities that you’ve always wanted to try, and explore areas you’ve always wanted to visit. Bring a camera and journal to document everything and solidify your memories.

single parent travel
Find yourself by putting yourself in perspective

This experience is especially helpful if you’re going through recovery. Substance abuse, grief, and anxiety can take a toll on our bodies, minds, and emotions. Focusing on yourself during a solo vacation can help you get back to a healthy place and can lead to some self-discovery, which is an important part of recovery. Spending time in a new place can really help you see what areas you want to work on and eliminate from your life when you return.

For more information on how traveling can help during recovery, read on here.

Improving Yourself Improves Your Family

Remember that this trip is all about you, but that doesn’t you reap all the benefits. Find the best ways to enjoy yourself and relax, but remember to make your safety a priority at the same time so you can return safely to your children. Stay connected to someone back home and let them know where you’ll be at all times, especially if you’re going exploring.

 

 

 

camping with kids

One of the best things you can do for your children, in my personal experience as a child and as a parent now, is get them outdoors. The majority of my childhood memories are outdoors, and memories are what makes your life longer and more meaningful. Sure, I remember playing video games and watching TV as a child, as well, but I don’t have any particular memory that comes to mind that is nearly as enjoyable to look back on as my memories of being outside.

If you’re looking to get your child outside, take them camping! If you’re unfamiliar with who I am and what I consider to be a proper camping experience, then you should know straight away that I don’t consider using an RV to be camping. Plenty of people do, that’s fine, but we have a difference of opinion on that. Going camping is about connecting to nature, engaging with the elements, and removing as much of your comforts as you can. Now, some people are more extreme in their views of camping than even I am, but everyone has their own tastes and preferences. Here’s what I believe to be a camping experience and why is it important to go camping with your children.

Auburn and I went camping several times this summer. Tahquamenon Falls, Kitch-iti-kipi, and lots of smoked fish was on the menu. Rockstar of a summer. My dad even came out camping with us once!

camping with kids
I’m not a selfie-taker but the Upper Falls of Tahquamenon Falls deserved one

 

Why Should I Go Camping With My Children?

#1 Prepare for Doom!

Not really, but sort of. What if the electric grid goes down? What is a solar flare knocks out all the satellites in the sky? What if you get lost on a hike someday and can’t find the trail? Have you spent enough time outside to know that, hey, the end of the world isn’t so bad? I have, and Auburn is on her way there. She can help set up the tent, gather firewood, and prepare the food.

camping with kids
Auburn preparing some corn to cook in the fire

Camping is essentially wildlife survival training if you do it correctly. I’ve been trying to become more and more rustic in my camping adventures, but I’ll admit that I still bring along a blow-up mattress, an electric coffee maker, and a waffle iron so I definitely do not completely do rustic camping.

camping with kids
My little helper
caping with kids
It’s hammer time! Goodness, I’m old.

#2 Meet the Animals

Children love animals, at least mine does. She may be slightly frightened of some of them, but she adores little mammals like squirrels, chipmunks or ‘chick-monks’ as she says, and rabbits. One of the coolest things about camping is that the animals who live near the campsites are generally used to humans. They are still skittish if you get too close, but if you camp for a week or so, you’ll notice that the little animals will get quite close to you if you’re nice to them.

camping with kids
Meeting the ducks on Indian Lake

#3 Get Comfortable in Uncomfortable Settings

You’re not going to have a lazy boy, a big screen TV, and a microwave unless you are using an RV. And that, dear reader, is why using an RV is not going camping. You’re certainly not camping with kids if you’re using a wheeled home. An RV, no matter its class, is a home, and simply going from your usual home in the city to a home with wheels under some trees is not going camping.

camping with kids
Auburn playing at the campsite

I’ve been in campgrounds where there are 100 campsites full, and 90 of them are RV’s. (Sure, it’s because I’m in the RV area because I need an electric outlet for my waffle iron, coffee maker, and blow up mattress, but I’m hoping to cut down one day and get some cots, boil water over the fire for coffee, and simply not eat waffles.) But the point is that when the 90% of my fellow ‘campers’ experience rain, or thunder, or both, they retreat into their wheeled homes.

camping with kids
Doing a little trail hike 🙂

They aren’t taking the time to experience what camping is meant to give you, a level of discomfort that removes your brain from the plugged-in, electricity-driven world. Sleeping in a tent in a rainstorm is amazing: it’s loud, your tent may shake from the wind, and if you have to get outside to use the toilet, you’re gonna be part of the storm. If you’re not comfortable in those situations, you’ll probably be one of the first people to die when doom happens (see #1).

camping with kids
Found the most interesting tree

#4 Get Dirty

You know you’ve witnessed a parent who tells their child to stay out of X, Y, or Z because “they’ll get dirty.” Makes me cringe, ya’ll need to go camping with kids. One of the top reasons (hence why it’s on the list) that I like to get my daughter outside, especially in a camping situation, is because it gets her dirty. If anything, I fear the clean. When I take her to school in the morning, I’m probably the only parent who opts out of the teacher at the door holding hand sanitizer, “no thank you,” I say.

camping with kids
Getting dirty racing Grandpa to the restroom.. she lost

I’m not afraid of germs, dirt, but leeches yes because they’re weird, wormy vampires. Go camping with kids and show them that being dirty is okay! Getting filthy improves the immune system, calms the soul, and creates memories that last a lifetime. Just stay away from leeches, they’re little graboids trying to grow big enough to eat your truck, I think.

camping with kids
Running through the forest, she fell a few times and got quite dirty

#5 Pee on the Trees

There’s no better feeling than being able to let loose on a bush with no one judging you. That’s all I need to say about this.

 

The Wrap-Up

So go camping with kids, it’s fun, educational, and an experience that adds time to life because memories are what makes life long. A comatose person will not have memories of their coma (usually), and an able-bodied person who spends their whole life indoors is just a thinking comatose patient.

camping with kids
Auburn and I visiting Kitch-iti-kipi

Do you already enjoy going camping? Where is your favorite place to go? Let me know in the comments and I’ll comment back with one of my favorite places 🙂

From planting a garden, to swimming at the lake, to camping and canoeing the Tahquamenon River, we have had a refreshing and relaxing summer, mostly.

Of course, I came home to make sure my mom was fed and kept on her meds while she recovered, but it wasn’t the only thing I did. Now that she is starting to get back on her feet again, I feel I have finally have enough time and energy to get to updating you on our life and a relatively mistake-free summer.

The Garden

We started our summer with getting some plants in the ground. The garden beds needed some TLC and Auburn was happy to help. She helped shovel in new soil, plant some vegetables, and put in this beautiful sunflower that is now standing taller than me!

_DSC3775

What We Grew

From tomatoes to kale, marigolds to other types of marigolds, the garden did quite well this summer. That is, except for the tomatoes. Why? Because we planted a few varieties with indeterminate growth and didn’t have a trellis system in place to support them. So what did we do? Improvised!

Gardening tomatoes, growing tomatoes
An old chair that I axed the seat out of to use as a support system for the tomatoes

Gardening is a learning process year-to-year. To me, it doesn’t matter if the garden looks professional, is well spaced out, or has an particular aesthetic to it. As I’m trying to learn in life and gardening: plant your seeds, care for them, and make due. If people want to judge you, oh well, that’s on them. Set your own standards and you won’t be flailing for reassurance from anyone else. The tomatoes will turn red either way, and they taste no less delicious.

Growing tomatoes, unconventional methods
An old guitar stand I used to prop up another tomato plant

If there’s on plant I can’t recommend enough to grow, it’s kale. It’s a delicious superfood that goes great in smoothies, salads, and steamed with butter. It grows quickly, has a a solid yield per plant and is also quite attractive on it’s own. Gardening with children helps them learn about where food comes from as well. You may find your own children are more likely to eat vegetables with them grow them themselves. 

Kale, dew, gardening
Morning dew on the kale.
Tomates, gardening
Tomatoes growing

Marigolds are a great addition to any garden. They come in many varieties and colors and are incredibly easy to take care of. Give them water, and dead-head the dying flowers. At some point you might even be overwhelmed with how well they do. One of plants went from a tiny sprout to a flower plant nearly 2 feet in diameter with flowers sprouting from all over!

Marigolds, flowers
Marigolds: blooming and wanting to bloom.

Gardening with Children

Auburn has helped me create the garden at my Mom’s for several years now, but this was the first time she was actually helpful! Previously, she was keen to shovel out the soil I was shoveling in. This year however, she managed to fill several of plots all by herself and loved it! There’s nothing like watching a little kid get dirty and enjoy themselves, it makes me wish I was still a child sometimes. Aside from the fun they having gardening, there are numerous health benefits to it: fresh air, exercise, relaxation, and the microbes in the soil that get under your nails are beneficial to your immune system. Dig on, my child! And parents, try gardening with children and see how they do, it could be your next family activity 🙂

Gardening with children
Putting in work with her Auburn-sized shovel

 

Museums in Hong Kong, skyline

Guide to Visiting Hong Kong’s Museums

One of greatest parts of visiting any big city is the access to museums and the wealth of knowledge you can gain from them. If you’re traveling to Hong Kong, the museums here are no different, and only a loser would pass them up. Did you know Hong Kong was occupied by Japan for nearly 4 years in the 1940’s, and that the Japanese enslaved not only Hong Kong people, but also the Brits? Ever heard of the Opium Wars? Did you know some people of Hong Kong almost never leave their boats? These are just a few of the things you can learn about in an interesting and fun way by visiting the museums in Hong Kong. If you’re looking to visit the museums of Hong Kong, this guide will provide you with an economical and simple way to do so. Your first step should be getting a coveted museum pass. Don’t make a mistake you’ll have to forgive yourself for later; don’t pass this one up.


 

Get a Hong Kong Museum Pass: What is it?

Hong Kong Museum Pass
My Museum Pass, hot off the press

This is by far my favorite part of Hong Kong. The museum pass allows you to enter the permanent and special exhibitions for free as many times as you’d like. The value that you get for purchasing a museum pass is bar none. Make sure you bring a form of identification with you to prove you are who you say you are when applying.

*There are ways to visit some museums for free on certain days, but I wouldn’t recommend going on those days; they get packed with people–including students’ field trips–and are much less enjoyable.

 

Museums in Hong Kong

There’s a lot of museums in Hong Kong. What Museums are included?

The museum pass grants access to the permanent and special exhibitions of the museums operated under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Here they are linked with the address to each in parentheses and their phones numbers in brackets.

 

Hong Kong Science Museum (2 Science Museum Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui East) [2732-3232]

 

Hong Kong Heritage Museum (1 Man Lam Rd, Sha Tin) [2180-8188]

 

Hong Kong Museum of Art (10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui) [2721-0116]

 

Hong Kong Museum of History (100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui) [2724-9042]

 

Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum (Kom Tong Hall, 7 Castle Rd, Central) [2367-6383]

 

Hong Kong Space Museum (10 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui) [2721-0226]

 

Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence (175 Tung Hei Rd, Shau Kei Wan) [2569-1500]

 

Best Museum for Children in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Museum of Science is one of the coolest museums in Hong Kong to take your child. There’s got to be 100 different stations they can interact with. Everything from toying with electricity and magnets, manipulating puzzles of all types (some of them are difficult!), VR systems, video games, and my daughter’s personal favorite: the construction yard for smaller children (technically the child must be between 80-120cms tall, but they seem to be quite lenient on this).

Museum of Science Construction Yard
Moving blocks around in the construction yard

The children are given a construction vest and helmet and can proceed to build a building with foam blocks, move blocks around with carts on and off a track set, operate a crane and way station, and more! They are allowed to play for 15 minute intervals at which point a bell will go off and they will have to get back in line if they want to go again. Get a museum pass to go on any day you want because if you take your child on the ‘free day’ everyone else and their child will be there and the line can get quite long. Get there on a Monday or Tuesday morning and you’ll likely see just a few kids playing at a time. Your little one can get right back in if they want!

Museum of Science
Operating and the crane/way station

 

Cost of a Museum Pass

Family pass (up to 4 people)…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..$100 HKD

Individual Pass……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….$50 HKD

Concessionary Pass (applies to full-time students, persons over 60, and disabled persons)………….$25 HKD

 

How Long is a Hong Kong Museum Pass Valid For?

1 year from date of purchase. They used to sell monthly and weekly passes, but those have been abolished.

It’s possible that the orders for passes may be backlogged and you will have to wait 2 weeks to pick up your official pass, but don’t worry! In the meantime, you can use the receipt for your purchase as you would the museum pass itself. Just don’t lose your receipt, you need it to get your pass once it’s ready!

And luckily, if you do ever lose your pass, you can get a replacement for $5-$10 HKD depending on the type of pass you have.

 

Where can I buy a Hong Kong Museum Pass?

You can buy your museum pass at the following museums in Hong Kong, address to each will be listed in parentheses, see above for links and contact information.

 

Hong Kong Museum of History (100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui)

 

Hong Kong Heritage Museum (1 Man Lam Rd, Sha Tin)

 

Hong Kong Science Museum (2 Science Museum Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui East)

 

Hong Kong Space Museum (10 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui)

 

Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence (175 Tung Hei Rd, Shau Kei Wan)

 

Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum (Kom Tong Hall, 7 Castle Rd, Central)

 

Looking to Visit the Museums in Hong Kong for Free?

It can be done!

Firstly, some permanent exhibits have been opened for good. Secondly, the museums in Hong Kong without permanent displays open for free have free days you can visit. As stated before, this isn’t ideal because the museums get jammed with folks, but if you’re looking for free, be ready to join the hoards who are doing the same.

 

Which Hong Kong Museums are free?

Free Entry to Museums
Free? Get outta my way!

The permanent exhibits of the Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence, and the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum are all open for free. The free entry does not include entrance to any special exhibits. That’s what the museum pass is for!

If you’re a full-time student, the Hong Kong Museum of Science and the Hong Kong Space Museum are also open for free to you.

 

Free Days for Hong Kong Museums

The Hong Kong Museum of Science is free to the public on Wednesdays. Beware, lots of field trips on this day, so come early if you want to beat the army of children that will be running and screaming throughout.

 

Other Perks of the Museum Pass

10% discount on souvenirs and publications purchased at the museums

Special offers at the catering outlets within the museums

10% discount on museum extension activities

Special offers on the Annual Pass to Ocean Park and the Magic Access of Disneyland

 

Conclusion

Hong Kong traffic
Museums are a great way to escape the congestion of the city

Visiting the museums in Hong Kong can be entertaining, enlightening, and an all around lovely morning or afternoon. I would highly recommend the museum pass if you plan on visiting multiple museums to see special exhibits, or if you plan on returning to the same museum more than once. I love to take my daughter to the Hong Kong Museum of Science at least a couple of times per week and the value of the museum pass paid for itself in the first few days.

 

I’ve failed repeatedly, disappointed family, pissed off and lost best friends, broken the law, stolen, cheated, lied, and hurt people who didn’t deserve it. I’ve murdered innocent animals, propagated torture, condoned the killing of humans, threatened, punched, cussed at, and made fun of other people. I’m a huge loser and probably always will be, not even seeking forgiveness.

Quit judging fool!

If you’re already looking down on me, you might as well be looking in a mirror. If you haven’t done the awful things I’ve done, or similarly awful things, then you must be Jesus or Mohammed or the Dalai Lama or whatever other person who you think is the holiest of the holy.

dalai-lama-2244829_1920.jpg
Not a picture of you, so you’re a loser

But you aren’t, so guess what, you’re a loser, too.


At least that’s what society would make us believe, if you aren’t a winner, you’re a loser. I grew up in the golden era of the American feel-goodery machine. “You’re special.” “You can be anything you want to be.” “I’ll love you no matter what.” “Here’s a trophy for showing up.” I literally got a trophy in the 7th grade for being the basketball team’s ‘Assist Leader’ for the season and was super proud of it. Forget the crazy number of turnovers, the low shooting percentage, and average assists per game being less than 3. I deserved a trophy damnit and I got one! And I’m not sharing it!

Trash Trophies and Other Places Self-validation Should Go

Fast forward a pair of decades and that trophy is likely buried underneath a mound of other people’s garbage they didn’t want, or simply no longer needed. Not only was that trophy a waste of physical product, its wastefulness extended to its intrinsic value. Sure, it made me feel good at the time. But it also made me think I was good at basketball. So, a big smack in the face came when the 8th grade team cut me and I had to resort to wrestling for a season, which I would eventually quit because, well, wrestling sucks. And quitting made me feel like a loser, which I was, even before that.

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You’re the best at being the best, what to go, you amazing, best person

Before I was 14, I had already committed at least half of the transgressions I confessed at the beginning of this post. Now that I’m 30, I realize it doesn’t matter. Mostly because we are all losers, but also because we can’t escape being losers. Sure, we can do these things personally that make us more of a loser, but we’re trapped in a system that demands we be losers. You don’t want to condone murder and torture of innocent humans? Too bad, you pay your taxes that are used to bomb civilians. Don’t want to lie, cheat, or steal? Better not become part of any American system of wealth building, because that’s the only way to grow. Your making money always comes at the expense of another, or at the growth of something worse than yourself. Don’t want to be responsible for the extinction of species, or the crushing of humans under unsecure buildings? Better not buy any new clothes, ever. Every major brand in the US employs people to work for a penance with tactics that damage the environment. You’re a loser, maybe you just didn’t know it.

Just Figuring Out You’re a Loser? Erm, this is awkward.

You didn’t know it because the American system constantly tells you to feel good about yourself. “Forget about the mass extinction event we’re undergoing and buy more stuff!” Your monstrous carbon footprint due solely to your lifestyle of using American transportation, eating an American diet, and consuming American media is destroying the world. You can’t avoid it, sorry. You’re a loser, just like me.

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Nope, you’re still a loser.

This is partly why I find it so important to take my daughter traveling around the world, and no, it’s not because it’s inherently healthier for the planet (it’s not, airplane travel is a killer, too). It’s to relatively shield her from the outlandish and image-obsessed culture of the USA, but also to show her that there are different ways to live and that people across the world actually exist, not just Americans and their worldly desires and ignorance of people around the world. So, if you’re one of the Brian Williams types (look how beautiful our bombs are!), remember that bombs killing people is terrorism. You can’t beat terrorists with terrorism. I digress.

We’re all losers, hooray!

Back to it: I’m a loser, you’re a loser, let’s all scream for being losers. But traveling helps. It teaches you to be comfortable with ignorance, impatience, discomfort, and different. It helps you notice that the shoes you wear aren’t nearly as important as the words you say. That the $300 or $3,000 watch on your wrist might tell you the time, but it doesn’t tell you the story of the child who put it together in Bangladesh for mere pennies. Your clothes might accurately represent who you want to be as a person, but they don’t post the number of river habitats that were destroyed making that shirt on the tag. But the dye by-product has to go somewhere, and if it’s a bird’s nesting grounds, or a crocodile’s favorite hunting spot, they’re going to ingest it. So guess what? Your shirt? Makes you a loser. Your watch? Makes you a loser. Your taxes? Makes you a murderer and a torturer. Now you might say, ‘that’s not fair my taxes also go to blablabla…’ That’s true. But if a man had a $1000 and he gave half of it to subsidize the death of a random person, and the other half to save a random person. Is he a good person? Or is he still, like all of us, a loser?

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My daughters playing with some underprivileged children in Ho Tram, Vietnam

Traveling helps me teach my daughter what is important. Our food choices, how we interact with people, the environment and we treat it, these are just some of them. And I don’t have time for that in the States. I’m too busy working 2-3 jobs, spending an hour at least commuting, then buying fast food or eating something upsetting because I don’t have to time to take life seriously. It’s buy, buy, buy, earn, earn, earn, then die, die, die. I don’t mean to make you feel bad for being as much of a loser as me. It actually feels good to know it and let it out. Doing so helps me remember that my choices matter. So join me, fellow losers, travel, see things that change your perspective. It doesn’t matter who you voted for this time around, how much money you make, or how many people you can sleep with because you’re a Tinder master. What matters is what you leave behind.

But can we be winners?

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Oranges are for winners, however. They’re just so juicy and delicious. Sairee Beach, Thailand

What I hope to leave behind is an intelligent daughter who takes time to consider her actions, thinks holistically in her approach, and challenges the status quo. Because the status quo, like me, is a loser.