Mali Travel Stories

No Territorial Claim in Bangkok

No Territorial Claim in Bangkok
Bangkok, Thailand Southeast Asia

I walk in the streets of Bangkok, relaxed in the knowledge I do not need to claim my territory, I will not be tested today.

Walking in the world of West Africa I continually was challenged, embroidered in small men against men conflicts. Men and women would access me, measure me, try to see what I was made of, who, what, why I am. The test of how much they could take of me, how much I would take of them, was it possible to dominate me.

Animalistic claiming of territory is not a yes or no, it is not on and off, it is small trials, small test of my manhood.

These tests are needed in the world; however, on the continuum from savage to civilized the many-layered cake that is created is like traveling from a world of continued battle to a world where we lose the ability to fight, however safe and clear.

99 percent of the men of the world do not need to prove themselves, and that is OK, the test in the world should be optional.

No Territorial Claim in Bangkok

Starting the Snowball

Starting the Snowball
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Bangkok, Thailand Southeast Asia

Pack together some wet snow, pack here, pack there, dream of something, resume packing, lie the snowball on the grown, semi-push down and start to roll. Slowly it starts to pick up the conquered snow under its path and grows, a snowball too big to push alone has started. Stop, look around, pat you mitten together, hug yourself, take a bite of snow and scream for your best friends,
- Come help me push this snowball down the hill!-

Nothing compares to having the dead end gang working to roll up American dreams, life in rural Indiana, and they call me a Hoosier.

Today, Andy, a.k.a. Me and Andrew boy Genius from India had a mutual moment, I am here in Bangkok, he is Goa, India, we are chatting away on our project, and I say,
- We got the small snowball moving! -
He pauses on chat, the chats,
- I can feel it! -

Worlds apart, connected by Yahoo Messenger, from this way, and that way on the planet, we have been trying to start a snowball moving down the hill, and what a big snowball.

I have many lives, Andy off to Africa, Andy lying on the beach, Andy bailing Hay in Indiana, Andy going to Iraq to see what my country is doing. I am not just Andy Travel Journalger, I am what I want to be, not what anybody else wants to be. I am the little boy pushing the snowball as a child, stopping to dream, something my parents put in my eye makes me see big, to
- Live a life less normal ! -

Today October 2, 2007 I can feel me and Boy Genius from India’s efforts feeling some pride in our work. We bang away, plug, push, kick, think, make all the wrong moves, he says left, I say right, we are on the same page, but all are scribbles.

We have been working on together for about 2 years. I have been contemplating my navel for about 5 years, trying to put an idea into action. There is no amount of money a person could pay me to work on this project, I do it on faith, I think I can make a big snowball on the internet. is a site a person dream about owning, a home on the internet, a place for a Hobo brain, a young man that made snowmen in rural Indiana and hoped they would never melt.

Now, I can feel it, we are going to warp speed, beam me up Scotty, and engage.
I am excited, life is good, and my battery is recharging, all the emotional vampire activity of traveling in Africa is left in Africa, I am now in Dreamland.

Dreams are real, they are the kinder used, to take boys and make into men, then allow the man to become a boy again. I never wanted to grow up, just cannot find how to hedge my bets by growing up, like asking to be boring.

I have work on in my dreams, making lines on a page, clicking a mouse in my hand, clicking on this benefit, these options and trying to give the world a great way to travel the planet. It feels great to make my ideal dream of a hotel site, maybe I can stop the ludicrous wave of money hungry pages that just inflate the cost of travel, travel is cheap, it is not expensive, the shell game on the internet is like a leper, it feels like the internet some days is being lost to the boys in suits, those soulless sorts who cannot wonder or wander planet, taking all the dreams out of travel, and handing you an itinerary when you kept telling me you wanted to be free, they you pay for a boss.

Starting the Snowball

Rare Kindness of Kenya Airways Man

Rare Kindness of Kenya Airways Man
Nairobi, Kenya Airport

I watched extraordinary art being created.

I sat mesmerized for about one hour watching a super professional Kenya Airways man work, and then watch him give extreme acts of kindness to a young crying boy whose mother just walked away.

In my silent walks around village, cities and chaos, I observe who is doing this and who is doing that, and hope to find the masters at work. I am not prejudice, education, race, background, language I do not care; I want to see extreme excellence. I normally find this in the lower rungs, the ignored, the look over people, casual acquaintances of mine who see me giving as much respect as I know how to generate the culture of the day are annoyed with me, but she is just a banana bread girl they, and I say,
- She is a super-pro, a wonder to watch, sells, deals, covers a territory

The older woman who motherly prodded me to learn Ewe was a master of Popcorn. I always was infatuated with here tenderly testing the popcorn for the proper amount of salt, a taste to check, I watch her think she decides a little more, another pro at work.

Kenya Airways is Comme Ci Comme Ca, however one the big three that travel from East to West with Emirates, and Ethiopian Airlines.

The Kenya Airlines man controlling the Nairobi to Bangkok/Hong Kong was a master. I wanted to fly standby to Bangkok on the 11 AM flight and stop sitting on the concrete floor of the airport, I am in the airport now and I have another 12 hours before my reserved flight leaves. As I sat at the 11 AM flight gate a crazy melange of ugly walked up to and barged their way into him.

There was a very distraught British man who some how super planned about three flights and a ferryboat trip, room reservations foolishly. Changing airlines to save money, he had a plane delay and his bag would never find him because his path is too clever. The man listened to him personally and patiently four around 30 minutes, taking tickets, excusing himself, try to help the boy/man find a safe place. Doomed by his long itinerary to lose his baggage.

While listening like a politician the people with Hog manners going for the milk cream rammed at him in many language, French, Chinese, African something, English and every form of self-center I go first mentality prevalent on the planet, nobody see that a person should wait their turn, they have the right to interrupt, prod, and behave with zero respect. This work continually was calm, patient and gave zero blank I am ignoring you looks that the other four women worker were doing, they were typical, you do not exist.

Suddenly a young boy is lost, about eight, he is starting to cry, every person in the area feels it, and even the blank girls start to care about 20 percent, and what do the man do, he brings him into him, semi-hold him and made him feel safe. The women are all commanding the small boy, sit here, do this, and I think he did not even speak English, I almost went and consoled the boy, however a white man walking up to a young black boy can exacerbate the problem and the truth was I knew I was helpless for long-term solutions

The final at of kindness was when the plane is almost full the boy runs off, the man realizes this and goes after, the fat women are now at 5 percent care and the man is not at 90 percent, there is a small tug of war in the aisle, the boy lies down in protest, crying an away. The man stand up, no work, looks, gives him the eye, and than gives him his hand to walk down the aisle like father and son to find his mother.

Hard to imagine how callous some cultural groups can be, however my last distinct memory was watching a man on the plan spit on the flour four times inside the cabin. The emotions that go through my mind is anger, cringing, disgust. What type of person sleeps in their own defecation, come on, this is a plane, not your home? This is the type of individual who were bombarding this man while never losing his smile.

The one worker explains, they think they can demand.

To think of the same or myself as equal is very difficult some days, nonetheless every person deserves respect until they spit on the floor of a plane, I really do not care for excuses, and there is no excuse.

I thank the worker from Kenya Airways for showing a small dose of humanity I needed to see today.

Rare Kindness of Kenya Airways Man

Song of the Open Road

Song of the Open Road
A Traveller…
Bamako, Mali, West Africa
Friday, September 28, 2007

What is a traveller?

I was slowing plowing through my emails when I came upon a true traveler Blog post by Wade about what is a traveler.

I have a discussion with a one to two long-term travelers per year about what is a traveler, and here many mumbling to me that they are traveler and I politely ignore. Wade spoke, and I was obligated to listen, as I know he is a traveler.

Now read! To me it is quite clear, he knows the path.

My page on what is a traveler is located at:

Song of the Open Road

No Healthy Balance in Mali

No Healthy Balance in Mali
Bamako, Mali, West Africa
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sick in Mali.

I left Orodara, Burkina Faso and travel quickly to Kita with no day stops along the way, stayed one night in Kita and returned to Bamako around 800 kilometers. I have had a headache, fever, and extreme fatigue, a good way to diet. I first started to shutdown at the bus stop in Kita, and developed the chills.

This trip, plus crossing the Mali / Burkina Faso border was more or less and endurance run for a person having no desire to prove he can do it, I did three 35-hour bus trip almost in a row in South America, so 8 hours snaps in a bus are short in the world of backpackers. My guess is right around 35 hours of travel and miscellaneous time waiting for the bus to fill up so it will leave.

I can blame the water, I could blame the food, I could blame the heat, the idle pointing at something, but I have learned, I thought I had Malaria a year ago in Niger, and now I think I had food poisoning. The real life situation is may layers and twisted problems resulting in me feeling very bad.

I think last night the fever broke, and all that was left was caffeine withdrawal, a cup of coffee and I am at about 60 percent, still weak, have not eat more than a couple of hands full of food in a few days.

I realized in Kita that I was actually sprinting as each stop gave me zero enticement to stay, and if the guidebook is correct, I am leave the 15-20 dollar anti game, and upping the stakes to 30 dollars. I can concede and donate 20 dollars per night, but paying 30 dollars per night for a Hotel in some of the poorest countries on the planet starts to be ludicrous.

My body is out of healthy balance, I am having trouble finding food to eat in Bamako at any price, and I am worried I need to eat some salt. I developed a pimple on my cheek, and a small one at the corner of my mouth in Kita, which is a sign my body is having some maintenance problems.

Today, I feel sub-standard ok, and I think I am working my way out of this headache. The body is in full repair mode, and providing I do not do some self-induced torture run, I think I am clear.

It is not a happy day when I become sick in these desert island countries, I am alone, by myself with no clear path to health. Mali being 175 out of 177 on the Human Development Index does not mean they have answers to problem, quite the opposite, more in the realm of witchdoctor randomly trying cures. Bamako is a very modern city, and it must be rated more on attitude than money, because this place has four-lane roads with mediums, and high-rises all over the place, only Abidjan, Ivory Coast has seemed more modern for a Capital of West City, plus the streets are cleaner.

Whatever the situation, I close to refuse to put my health in the hands of a doctor outside the USA, I trust Pharmacist more. However, to go around interviewing Pharmacist for do-you-care, is not easy when you are in a city of one million that sprawls

I suspect I have abused my body, often along the way a person could not purchase water, they only sold milk, I was happy for Africa to see the Milk, however still was in need of more water.

I cannot decipher the guidebook, there is no clear backpacker path, and I do believe they have outlined a good path for a 4-wheel drive person with a non-backpacker grade budget. I am starting to believe the only budget that warrants the word backpacker is below 15 dollars per day for non-drinkers and closer to 25-30 dollars for a drinker. A person that travels for less than three months, or more less puts on a backpack to go to Europe is a tourist with a backpack. Note spending 25-30 US for a European is comparable to a person in the USA spending 10, what you get for the money is much less.

None of this is important and the reason to travel is for enjoyment.
I know sometimes a person needs to go prove themselves, and that is just an inner battle, hopefully does not take too long, sort of like getting in a drinking contest with the boys and winning, then waking who knows where.

I feel good now, I took a shower, which was aborted for 2 days, I ate some Salty Cracker by accident, and this is good. As I said, there is no way to be specific as to what problem I have. I have more or less decided in Africa, I wait about three day to see if I am on the up or down path, and then I need accept and adhere to the pay-through-the-nose health plan. I need to be more afraid of dying, how does on develop a wimpy go to the doctor over a cold mentality. I have not been to a doctor in about three years and that was in the USA some malnutrition symptoms that developed in India and Tibet.

I am starting to see the small signs of a bad diet in West Africa, since leaving Togo; I have the worst combinations of food possible. Not that Togo is better, I was moving around very slowly, so one-two days of bad, food while I searched for places to eat, then five-ten of adequate, moving faster has removed the good and the result is bad. I try to find places to eat, however I need to take a taxi or drive, then pay 15 dollars for meal that I can get anywhere in Asia and South America for 1-2, I find it very difficult to promote with my feet over-priced anything.

The good part in this story is I avoided the toilet reality, and somehow I have bleached my hair to a summer blond by being in the sun, I am now ready for more enjoyable relocations at one-third the price.

No Healthy Balance in Mali

An Algerian Man in Mali

An Algerian Man in Mali
Bamako, Mali, West Africa
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The manager said there was a man from France in that room. I never presume or guess the country of traveler; it tends to start out a good conversation by annoying the person.

- Are you from the USA? -
- No, I am Canadian. -

It is always better to ask which country; therefore, I ask the man as we waited for one of the two showers serving about 150 beds, I am glad this place is vacant.

Algeria more or less on the other side of an Arabic culture gap between West and East, I hear of very few people going to Africa and even less going to the country of Algeria. There is some interjection of Libya here in Mali, signs of promotion everywhere, a big push for some reason, Bamako from a goods transport perspective is a windfall. The Niger River weaves up through these countries and the train from Dakar connects with Bamako making a chain of cheap shipping.
The Algerian man says he has traveled to South America, Asia, Europe and most of Africa and speaks excellent English. We are to get together later for a conversation. I am excited to hear the opinions of a person who is also a channel jumper. There are many channels, and easy is hypnotic until you jump enough channel, every culture I enter is another channel, another perspective another way of rationalizing their world. He is not in a Starred Hotel therefore he is walking around with the local channel, and not avoid it.

It is possible this man in his anonymous and safe status of being in Mali, speaking English will give me his interpretation of the planet non sanitized.

An Algerian Man in Mali

Stealing Trump Cards in Africa

Stealing Trump Cards in Africa
Bamako, Mali, West Africa
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

An American is socially trained to believe all people are equal, and now with over 200 years of training, only a very minute percentage of Americans realize how the rest of the world works. Generally as simple as I can envision, the way of the world is,
- Might make right -

While as President Lincoln said,
- Right makes might -
- Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us to the end, dare to do our duty, as we understand it. -

Abraham Lincoln, U.S. president.
Address at Cooper Union, New York

As my travel years pass, idle thoughts slowly turn change from confusion into clarity. With time passing, I accept the need to be ever vigilant of new social rules being applied in new cultures, however at the end of the day, the smell is always the same, might means right. If a person has the power, they have the right to do as they wish, and the people under are afraid of the people above.

As an American traveling in West Africa there is a glitch in the system, because we represent as Paul Theroux so astutely stated,
- Money-on-Two-Legs-

The best trump card is money, however difficult to steal, so with the an American and I suspect with the Europeans it is continually flapping of their jaws that we should naively follow them down some scammy road to loosen the money from our pockets. There is a never-ending set of extra cost if you start to pay, if you do not, then you do not. There also the poor me connected, and you should feel sorry for me, as the person answers a call now on his Mobile Phone.

Africa is prone to Marxism because it makes common sense when you have little knowledge of the world or history.

- the history of society is a history of class struggle in which the ruling class uses religion and other traditions and institutions, as well as its economic power, to reinforce its domination over the working classes. -
Karl Marx as explained in Encyclopedia Encarta.

The nations of the normal world are run by good old boy clubs, a family, a group, a monarchy, or something concerning a gun. In the end, the leaders have the money habit, and cannot stop.

- Once one has got the money habit, it is extremely difficult to kick it. -
Godfrey Golzen (1930 - )
British business writer.
Smart Moves, "The Money Junkies" (co-written with Andrew Garner)

Once a person has more than adequate amounts of money, people in general develop an unquenchable thirst for more money. I do not believe this quote or adhere to the fatalistic conceptions of the world, however there is some validity to the idea that the rich get richer.

- The rich have become richer, and the poor have become poorer; and the vessel of the state is driven between the Scylla and Charybdis of anarchy and despotism. -

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 - 1822)
English poet. A Defence of Poetry

The poor do not get poorer, they remain the same, and the rich do appear to have a never-ending increase in money, and power, until the next Military Coup as so keenly demonstrated recently in Military Coup in Thailand when they ousted Thaksin.

Thaksin I believe was great for the country of Thailand, his direction, however skewed encouraged business grow, which in turn provides jobs, and with a job, a person is happy. Another example of creation of great wealth is Bill Gates and Microsoft, I believe selling good products at a good price; however do so well his company will forever be under attack.

The way West Africa works in my opinion, as they sit in the bottom of the barrel is might make right, with the religion and rich forever keeping the poor at status quo, unheard, uneducated and even if they do get an education there is no jobs, their best option is to leave, which probably make the leaders of the moment happy.

Might Make Right

Might is not right, therefore in the rules of might, to steal a trump card, to use a trump card is allowable in the rules of Trump Card Nations. If a religion can get an upper hand, if a politician can buy his way around, if a Chief, a Family, a Patriarchal some good old boys club can all agree on how to steal trump cards they can progress.

I used to believe that freedom of the press and the now unstoppable reach of the press would expose the depraved nature of leaders and the population would revolt. However, in a might is right situation, they only use this trump card as a way to put themselves in power.
- Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. -
The Who with Roger Daltrey a rock musician.

It is very hard to collect taxes from poor people, mostly they bosses get money from import-export duty and aid sent from nations, and my guess is 80 percent goes in a pocket of someone.

I was lying in a dorm bed in the Voyager Hostel in Panama around January 1, 2000, so about seven years ago when a young Israeli man said to me a comment that had entrenched itself in my brain.
- Send them Televisions they will self-destruct. -

I do not believe they will self-destruct, however a checks and balance is implemented with the Television and Cell Phone. The leaders of nation trying to collect money have discovered they can make themselves extremely rich if they promote the television and cell phone, similar to a the lottery a voluntary tax.

Extracting money from people is easier done when voluntary, the normal ways are:

- Sales of Purified water because the government keeps it bad.
- Lottery
- Gambling or Casinos

The leaders continue with the levy of no way to calculate import-export duty, a toll gate as you enter and leave any city, the walk into an large business that has to pay or go out of business, it is hard to put a poor person out of business. Then the extortion of money from all the rich natural resource, like oil, diamonds, uranium, etc.

Thaksin in Thailand made a major portion of his wealth from his cell phone company; he understood how the world works. Africa is learning the same, and the powers that be are adopting a free trade, capitalistic system that work, however probably the eventually demise of the good old boy system and trump card system.

Selling of information is not a great way to keep your people stupid, and for sure, a stupid person is easier to abuse.

Football, Music Television, Soap Operas, Cartoons, and Slap Stick Comedy is saleable as a voluntary tax. Oops, I forgot BEER.

Religion, Forced payment of taxes, Bribes, etc. just do not compete well when a young person desire to go watch television, better to sell a television and extract money on the cable access. The poorest of person will buy a cell phone, so right down to the bottom they government is able to collect money for their habit of money. A person will buy a cell phone, a television or a motorcycle before they would fix their house. Often the confusion with poverty, I am not poor, I think along lines of practical and healthy, however I am not bored, I do spend 24/7 bored out of my brain, I can read, I am mobile, I can leave, however if you are bored, a TV is great.

The capitalistic system provides the opportunity whereby a person with a good idea can sell it.

The selling of Beer, Cell Phones and Televisions with the resulting residual fee of Direct-broadcast satellites is profitable for leaders of nation. However, I truly believe they will eventually put tyranny out of business, as is a difficult sale.

There is no need to send them televisions and cell phones the nations of Africa are buying as fast as they can. This is good because I think they will stop stealing trump cards or extorting and understand earning money is easier when voluntarily paid.

Stealing Trump Cards in Africa

My African Travel French is OK

My African Travel French is OK
Bamako, Mali, West Africa
Monday, September 24, 2007

I am not sure how well I speak, I do know I speak good enough to go down the Congo River now, my French was a question mark that just desired to be answered before I would go to the Congo. I do not know how well my French is, because I meet very few people in Africa now that speak French better than me, and I have begun to speak simpler and careful with words from my vocabulary or the locals will not understand. I can easily know when they do not speak French.

I felt very good in Orodara, Burkina Faso when the one woman said my French was better than the Peace Corps girl; this was like getting a big gold star. I am happy, I know people normally travel to places where they are already half competent in the language or know they do not need to speak a language. I am learning French on the fly, and now I know my biggest obstacle has been the locals do not speak French well.

If I met just one French Traveler, with a personality rating above 4, then I could have a conversation as an examination. Their accent and pronunciation is different, however I am semi-clear they speak ok, if not Euro-Trash, and always hard to know this or that, some 1 or 2 hanging around. Many of the French girls I think are in Hiding; I suspect they do not want the world to know that having a go with the local men.

I have resorted to saying I am from France, as this really belays problems of communications. If a person here hears I am from the USA, their French almost stops, and they say their 2 words of English, when I say I am from France, they want to prove they can speak French, thus they turn on their brains.

Moreover, now if they do not like me, they will blame it on France, however, I think I am little too handsome to be from France, and I do not smoke.

One smart gentleman started to quiz me about French, asking about who politicians in France were, I admitted I was from the USA, but think, the reason for the quiz was because he was not sure…!

My African Travel French is OK