From Mr. John to just an American guy in room 1514
Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
53Trip End Oct 17, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
My accommodations I've slept in so far have been as diverse as the countries I've gotten a glimpse into
At my disposal I have a pool, gym, restaurants, doormen and even a karaoke bar thrown in for good measure. There's even a green arrow on the ceiling of my room pointing the way towards Mecca should I ever become so inclined to take a kneel towards Allah, and my big picture window provides an amazing view of all the skyscrapers. Sounds great, doesn't it? All the comforts of the US. Aaahhhh, paradise found and an oasis amidst all the charms of Asia.
Well, honestly, I feel like I am on an overnight for work in anywhere USA. Every few minutes I hear the clickety clack of the elevated train, and if I close my eyes, I could almost imagine I am in Chicago
Maybe those backpack purists I talked about do indeed have it right in some ways. They take a week in battered buses bumping along potholed roads to make the gradual transition back to big city life. I just got quickly catapulted right back into it via an Airbus rather than their intercity bus. Now that I sit here thinking about it, that Airbus still is more my style, don't you think?
So far in places like Delhi, Vientiane, and Siem Reap I've stayed in very small locally owned places where the owners and staff went out of their way to make sure I got the most out of my stay. As soon as I checked in they knew me by name and remembered me. Even the dirty run down place in Amman provided me with a five star level of personal service that even the Ritz Carlton couldn't match. The owner there would entertain all the backpackers and added into that motley mix me in his office nightly over tea and coffee. We would share our travel experiences and tips and he would tell us how to reach our destinations in Petra, Syria, Jerusalem and beyond. Try that in a Hilton manager's office at 10pm.
I haven't been able to walk through a lobby without someone calling out "Mr. John, how was Taj Mahal" or "Can I get you some water Mr. John?" They wanted to know all about the US and my life there and I was able to get a small glimpse into how they lived there (I wish now I had taken a lot of pictures of friends, family and Atlanta to show them). I wasn't the big evil American but just some regular traveler from an exotic far away place known as "Mr. John."
Now I am in KL with this nice huge $22 room and it's killer $1,000 view, but you know what? I think I would rather be back in my small hotel in that run down cramped Delhi back alley where I could savor the atmosphere from the rooftop using all my senses. Looking at KL through a plate glass window to me is more like watching a zoo animal in a cage. I can see it for sure but I can't smell, hear, taste or feel anything from behind that glass. Those $22 certainly did not drain my wallet but they sure did drain my senses.
Yes, in the blissful short span of a few airconditioned hours, Air Asia flight 813 along with the Quality Hotel have transformed me from Mr. John to just that American guy in room 1514. This morning I woke up in an American style hotel room (not a wood floored room with actual 1970s Brady Bunch furniture like in Bahrain), rode the modern elevator downstairs (not that tiny one in Amman I got stuck in), walked past the front desk without so much as a glance (no "Mr
Like my identity, my whole travel experience has been transformed as well for the time being. In KL, I am back to the anonymous life I so desire in the US just like most of us. Traveling through all these counties has taught me that if you take your foot off the gas pedal just a bit, life won't pass you by like it does back home.