Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Point to Point

I read somewhere that the happiest people are those that invest in themselves. I guess this whole adventure has been an investment in me....in my happiness, in my development and in my search for love. At times, we feel selfish for doing what makes us happy.

In Catholic school, I was taught that life was meant to be a sacrifice and that you were meant to pay for your sins for life. You were not meant to be happy to have pleasure but instead “carry your own cross.”

Colombian culture to a certain extend follows those believes - the group and family are important and the needs or desire of the individual are not that important.

As a gay man living in Sydney, I often felt like I was living a very selfish life. “What do I want..., Where do I want to go? What do I want to buy? Who do I want to fuck today?” I felt like it was all about me. There was an emptiness about it...a life that only is projected inward. I decided to do a number of volunteer activities: work with the homeless and telephone counseling with a gay and lesbian hotline. That was the good teachings I took from Catholic school - the idea of social justice of helping others. Helping others and volunteering does make you happy. It did for me. I realised that having that external focus helped.

So quitting my job and traveling the world did feel a bit selfish - this adventure was all about me. My development, my journey...but at the same time right now it is all about me. I’m single. I have no children, no mortgage and no real responsibilities. As grandma would say, if God gives you lemons, make lemonades.

So if you are a free spirit...then take off. That is one advantage of being single..of being alone...no plus 1...just me and my suitcase.

It has been a month since I left Sydney..since my old life...my old job, my old apartment...my ex boyfriend...my broken heart...and I feel free. I am excited about each and everyday. I have dreams of a lover in Rome and of a wonderful new life. I took the plunge...sink or swim and a month in...I am swimming and loving the view.

I realised that taking control of my life - making changes and going down a different path is what ultimately will make me happy - going where I want to go...which at the moment is Rome. I do not know where I will end up...or with whom but I know it will be different to where I started from. That’s the thing about travel...once you go from A to B, you tend to come back to C. You are never the same after a big journey - your mind and heart will have grown, new memories will affect your outlook on life and you’ll discover new and wonderful things about you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Table for Two

We are in Bodrum. Just two of us, Sam and I. Victor stayed in Istanbul to see his family. Bodrum is a holiday resort in the south east of Turkey. It is very popular with Brits and other Europeans.

It no longer feels like we are in Turkey (except for the Mosques and call to prayer) you could easily think you were in Greece. The weather is amazing, cloud less days and cool nights. I can see why the Brits (who often do not see much sun) want to come down here.

The beaches are full of young sun worshipers (sometimes in small speedos) and the drinks are cheap.

We spent the day in the beach yesterday. Sam and I are travel buds. We met in Sydney about six years ago when he was doing a work stint. He was going through a bad break up - he had come to Sydney with his Scottish boyfriend but the minute they stepped off the plane they broke up. It was his first love and Sam took it badly.

We became friends (after a few non dates) and since he moved back to the states, we’ve done a few trips together: China, Hawaii, San Fran and now Turkey. Sam is in many ways a total opposite to me: he is reserved, quiet, drinks a lot and uses the word fuck. But we seem to travel well - low maintenance for an American. We are both romantics - always saying that on our next holiday we’ll bring our partners. We’re both husband hunting - confused as to why such great guys like us (employed, drug free, attractive) are still single!

We talked about life and relationships - a favorite topic of gay men and Turks. Everyone seems to want to settle down. It is nice to travel with friends  - but nicer to travel with someone you love - boyfriend, partner, husband. Bodrum is made for couples - romantic walks on the beach, romantic dinners on the beach, sunsets....you see couples everywhere. It is a perfect holiday destination. Even the managers at our hotel thought we were a couple - they wanted to give us a double bed. “We’re just friends,” thank you very much.

I fear being alone. I wonder if I’ll ever take that romantic holiday with my ideal partner. Travel is my passion. My last boyfriend only wanted to travel to English speaking countries. I hope to travel to at least 70% of the world before I die. I want to travel with someone I love...I want to tell the hotel manager “yes, we’re a couple. We’ll take that double bed with rose petals on it!”

Sometimes single life is like being in a few city - you’re looking for that new neighborhood and the next adventure. Sam and I are not sure we’ll have perfect husbands for our next planned holiday - maybe we’ll be traveling together until we are 60. Boyfriends and partners may come and go but good friends will stick around and drag you to many places.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lawyer, Dancing and Bodrum

I know. It has been a week. I guess I have been too busy living life to write about it. I have fallen in love...with Istanbul. I guess like with any relationship in the early stages, I have neglected my friends and my blog. I love the energy here and for the first time in a really long time, I feel happy. I feel really happy - excited about life and excited about what tomorrow will bring...another adventure, another magical discovery, another boy??

I can’t help but wonder if this is what life should be like always - all the time.

I went to Starbucks and met up with a cute lawyer. He was young and Turkish but had a lovely smile. Turks are happy people - the economy can be crap, it can be expensive to live in Istanbul - but they’ll eat, drink and be happy. This is a very different Muslim country to others I have visited - they like their alcohol and the partying starts at 1 am. It is more Mediterranean then Muslim.

So back to the lawyer. He’s lovely...his English is not that great but we communicate. He works near Taksim and he lives at home with his mother and sister. This is normal in Turkey. Everyone lives at home until they get married.

We talk and talk about travel, work and gay life in general. He tells mea bout Tek Yon, this club I need to try out on Friday. Tek Yon actually means one way - as in a street sign.

He asks where I am staying...and wether he can kiss me at my hotel. How sweet. I text Victor to see if he is in the room. He’s out. I tell the lawyer to walk with him heading for my hotel. There are two guys at reception and I’m pretty sure they will not let the lawyer inside. There are strict no guest polices at most hotels - specially for male to male visitors.

But it is only 7:30 pm. So I hesitate. But what the hell. He’s a cute lawyer. Kissing is allowed! So I take him in and the hotel guy says something in Turkish. I tell him in English that this is a friend of mine who is collecting something I brought back from Australia - he tells him something in Turkish and writes down our room number.

We start kissing in the elevator. I feel the beer rash. We get in and get into the shower. I was surprised we could both get inside. I tell him I’m giving him a hamam (minus the painful massage) and he laughs. We kiss some more. These Turks know how to kiss...even the young ones. They can make something like kissing so passionate and special.

I had to meet my friend Sam for dinner. The lawyer decides to join us. In Australia, a guy would leave the minute he climaxes. In Turkey, he takes you out for dinner - along with your travel companion. We went to Midpoint a lovely restaurant in Taksim overlooking the city. It was a great date - plus Sam. It was sorta the other way around - sex and then date. The lawyer told us more about Turkey, more about his life (closeted) and his siblings and other things we should do while in Istanbul. I tried to ensure Sam did not feel like the third wheel. It was the first time I had a date with a shag.

On Friday we did go to Tak Yon. It was a typical gay club -except for the fact that it was playing Turkish music. There were so many cute guys - but no sign of the lawyer guy. We had less smoke and more dancing than our last night out in Istanbul. This time to avoid being hung over we stuck to water (Su). But like the Turks, we did not start our night until 12:30 pm and ended up going to bed at 4 am. No picking up, just hanging out with the boys.

I saw the Turk again on Saturday. He kindly agreed to take me to buy a cable adapter for my computer. Yesterday was the last time I would get to see him. He’s so sweet and giving. We had a good time and chat about life - about relationships - the challenges of gay relationships in Turkey. It is rare that you connect with someone so quickly - but I had been warned about these Turks by Myra - their passion and intensity is amazing and I found myself feeling sad when I said goodbye to him. I promised to keep in touch, to come back to Istanbul after Rome.

Today we flew to Bodrum on the south east coast of Turkey - a beachside resort town which feels more like Greece.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Make Over

The men in Istanbul have perfectly coiffed eye brows and beards. My friend Victor said that Turks are hairy and therefore they need to maintain their hair well groomed. While men in Sydney prefer to be hairless, it seems that Turks prefer to style their man hair, particularly on their face. In true Istanbul style, I decided to have a Turkish make over and have my eyebrows and facial hair done. So off we went to a local barber.

He spoke no English and only charged me 2 Turkish Lira but within 10 minutes, my monobrow was gone and my ear hair burned off...literally...he used a lighter to burn it off. I also got a type of wax mask to remove my facial hair - felt like waxing.

Having felt more Turkish, it was our turn to get the rest of our body done with a traditional Turkish bath (Hamam). It involves a lot of sweating and hot water, followed by a heavy duty scrub and massage. This literally removes all of the dead skin and you feel really clean. Turks have been having hamams for thousands of years and in Istanbul it is a bit like having a spa day.

I have never felt so clean. I felt like I had a new layer of skin. The rooms were very hot and the scrub was very rough. The semi naked massage guy was a chunky Turkish guy who did not speak much English. The more my friend and I squealed the more he seemed to enjoy roughing me up. He used a lot of pressure on the massage and I felt a bit sore afterwards. I normally like my massages, nice and relaxing...not hot and hard.

In half a day, I felt brand new...my face had less hair and less skin....I figured I would spend the rest of the day getting to know more about Turkey through date 2 with doctor #2. I refer to him as “the Turk” from now on....just easier.

He was kind enough to pick me up from my hotel in Taksim. In Sydney, I can never get guys to call me back..but in Istanbul after just one day, I had a doctor boy come and pick me up and take me to dinner. We had a traditional Turkish meal and I was able to get to know the Turk much better. We actually had a lot in common. He had his own adventure a few years back when he quit his job and went to the UK to study English for seven months. Like my decision to leave Sydney, it was difficult to make but it ended up being the best thing to happen to him. He ended up changing jobs and focusing on a different area of medicine. He had always wanted to study overseas.

He told me about his family - the fear of coming out but the hopes that one day he will be able to live openly as a gay man. It is even harder to be an openly gay doctor in Turkey. He only has one gay friend in Istanbul, but his passion like me is to travel...and see the world. He loved living in London.

After a check up - we talked about life...decisions....outcomes....the Turk was very passionate. Myra had warned me about how quickly the Turks moved....he was saying all the right things....and this was exactly what I wanted...why I had left Sydney. “I would love to be with your forever. You are not only a sexy man but also a mature friend with a rich brain,” he texted me after I left his place. Total make over - of the guys I attract.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Love

In London I went to gay heaven. In Istanbul, I went to Love. The place where gay boys find love...temporary or long term. It is the happening gay club in Istanbul where drinks are strong and so are the bar tenders. My friend Victor who is Turkish and Myra and I decided to check out the scene...when in Istanbul. We had to take a power nap as clubbing does not get going until 1 am. It was the latest I went out in a really long time..normally I’m coming home..not going out at 1 am.

There is something very sexy about Mediterranean Turkish men...maybe it is all that testosterone which could explain why they go bold. But you do not see the camp types you would see in Sydney. A gay club is a gay club no matter where in the world it is located..you’ll hear Gaga and Britney and Whitney - the usual gay anthems. But the guys seemed friendly..except it was hazy...even though smoking is not allowed, I think Victor, Myra and I were the only non smokers.

I learned from Victor’s friends that finding Love at Love is just as tricky as in other parts of the world. “All the men are either gay or married,” one girl told me. It sounded like a broken record. Amazing that in a city of 17 million people, you could not find a date.

I was not hoping to find love at Love but possibly see the cute Turkish doctor who I met at Heaven in London. I wondered if all the Turkish men at Love were as good kissers as him.

I left Love early - without a Turkish pash and enough second hand smoke to shorter my life by five years...and was amazed to see the traffic at 3:30 am in Istanbul. People were just going out...finishing drinks and getting ready to party - there was a full on rush hour. I ensured that Myra arrived safely home.

The music from the club was still buzzing in my head - that and the two drinks I had at Love were keeping me up. I logged onto GRINDR to realise that my other doctor friend was logged in...maybe he was getting ready to head out. This Turkish doctor was a pediatrist. He was my height, good body and thinning hair. We chatted online a bit and I told him about my experiences at Love. “I never go there cause I do not smoke,” he told me. I think he was the only Turkish guy who did not smoke.

We decided to catch up on Sunday night - not for Love but just for a Turkish tea. I went over to his area, a suburb in the south of Istanbul. This was less trendy than Taksim and more Turkish - more Muslim too. Doctor #2 was single, and had only recently started sleeping with men. He was only out to his sister. “I’m single because in Turkey I cannot have a boyfriend. Everyone would gossip,” he told me. His family lived upstairs in the same building where his apartment is located. He lives in a spacious 3 bedroom flat.

After a second cup of tea, he made his move. Yum. It is official. All Turkish men are great kissers. He was sweet. Expressive. Talented (physically) and definitely knew what he was doing....how to press buttons. There are the selfish guys who just want to cum and guys who like to seduce. The doctor was the latter type - full check up. “When will I see you again?” he told me. “I can’t believe you do not have a boyfriend,” he added.

All I need. A boyfriend in Istanbul when I’m moving to Rome. I wanted to tell Victor’s friend that all the good ones are married or living in Istanbul.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gay Turkey

Turkey is at a cross roads - wanting to join the EU but at the same time grappling with the fact that many in the country want Turkey to be more religiously conservative. Gay culture is somewhere in the middle - alive in the large cities but still very much below the radar in the country side.

On one hand my friends tell me that Turkey has a very hereto-flexible culture - tracing its history back to the Ottoman Empire. This is not a gay life - just straight guys who have sex with other men. You see this in a lot of countries - India, middle east where sex before marriage is not possible so men fuck each other. But the top (active) is not really seen as gay - they all eventually live a heterosexual and married life. Think of the Turkish wrestling - not gay - just muscly guys wrestling semi naked and all lubed up.

This explains why every guy in Turkey seems to be a top. They are not gay guys - as one of friend put it..they do not kiss, suck, touch - just fuck and probably they pretend they are fucking a woman.

You see a few online ads for straight guys looking for very feminine bottom (passive) guys...almost to the point where they wear women’s clothes and are in the process of becoming women. There is a big transvestite and transgendered  scene in Istanbul.

The line in Turkey between straight, bisexual and gay is much thiner and blurry than in say Australia. It is ironic as this is a more conservative country - yet straight guys are more open to having sex with other men.

In Turkish, “ibne” and “oglan” mean boy. Both are used as an insult - “ibne” means “faggot”  and “ogla” gay. Boys or gays are seen as not “manly” - no beards, soft skin, female voice. In the old days, boys were equivalent to women.

Gay men in Turkey are divided into two groups: “active” ones who would never considered themselves gay and are mostly bisexual and the “passive” ones who are seen as women in bed. Therefore the top or bottom label is very important in Turkey.  Gay action in Turkey is still based on the active-passive relationship...and maybe that’s not so bad...clear..no room for versatile guys!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lost & Found

After my first day in Istanbul I’ve learned two things: 1) there are cats everywhere 2) strangers will stop and try to talk to you - in the hopes that you buy something or go to their mate’s bar....ok possibly I’ve learned more than two things, make that four things 3) that I’m going to gain at least 5 kgs with all this amazing food and 4) that Turks are not big planners.

My friend Myra is Japanese. Japan loves to plan. The Japanese guidebook for Turkey has even photos of traditional Turkish food so that travelers can point and they will know exactly what they are getting. Nothing is left to chance - diagrams with toilets and instructions on use of Turkish toilets (a hole in the ground) are also included.

She was telling me how she was loving living an unplanned life. She had been here a month to give it a go with her Turkish boyfriend. Things were going well...week by week. In Turkey, there is not much planning (this could be evident by the traffic jams).

But what there is a lot of is passion and living....and sometimes that’s the best way to live...the best way to be happy. I spent the afternoon walking around my new neighborhood in Taskim. I’m really falling in love with Istanbul. After one day and one sunset over the phosphorus, I’m ready to stay here and live like a local. There is something magical and romantic about this city.

Taskim is up on a hill over looking the various waterways surrounding Istanbul on the European side. It is filled with amazing streets and hidden lanes full of restaurants, cafes and bars. You can hear live music and laughter...the sun peeps through the various streets so you can have a view of the sunset. Couples walk hand in hand around the cobblestone streets.

I found this amazing coffee shop in a building that looked 800 years old. I normally do not drink coffee as it makes me sick to my stomach but I had to have a Turkish coffee - that woke me up. I thought about what Myra said - how we spend our lives working on the perfect plan: education, career, partner, marriage, children, money...etc. Sometimes I think those without a plan are the ones really living...the crazy people on the street who do not conform to society’s planned plans.

Life is truly amazing and when you let yourself get lost sometimes you find the most wonderful thing...like the best Turkish coffee this side of Europe. Sometimes you have to get lost to start finding yourself.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Istanbul

I just landed in Istanbul, Turkey. I have always been fascinated by Turkey. I was meant to come here 6 years ago with a boyfriend. But unfortunately we broke up a month before our planned trip. He ended up going and I ended up going to Germany, where ironically I met a number of Turks. Germany has the biggest population of Turks outside of Turkey.

There is something magical and mystical about this city..which lies between two continents. I am staying in Taksin, a cute area in the Europe side of Istanbul. So technically I am still in Europe...even after a 3 hour flight from London.

I can see the contrast and the cultural clashes - a modern metropolis that looks European on the outside but still very much Turkish on the inside. The men seem very masculine and attractive...definitely looking forward to exploring that...

I am meeting my friend Myra. She used to live in the Gold Coast until about two months ago. She took a holiday with her mum and came to Turkey. She took one of those organised tour groups - she’s Japanese. She ended up falling in love with her tour guide. She went back to Australia and quit her job (she was very unhappy with her work) and decided to come back for a few months - she’s dong a Turkish course. She’s very un Japanese - giving it up all for a chance at love. I think she was inspired by my own decision. After all, how many guys do you actually have a spark with? worth chasing them.

We were all worried and suspicious about this Turkish guy - did he want money? a visa? We had heard of these scams by Turkish men to try to seduce western girls. But she seems happy - and it is all very romantic...a Turkish guy...Istanbul....love...it does happen...sometimes when you least expect it. There are happy endings...in Turkey and Thailand.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stonehenge and British Sex

Jim and I decided to visit Stonehenge yesterday. It was built around 3,000 BC. They still do not know what it really was...a temple? an observatory? the purpose still remains a mystery. But thousands of tourists travel each year to see it. It seems to be just a pile of rocks, but like many things in life we want to find meaning in it.

Humans are constantly trying to find meaning in their lives...why are we here? what is the meaning of life? What does it all mean? We probably never find any meaning but we keep trying...

After Stonehenge we decided to find some simple meaning in sex...we decided to check the famous Vauxhall sauna Chariots. Saunas are sorta like gay spas - expect you are naked (well you wear a towel). You can visit the turkish bath, sauna, jacuzzi...or just meet people at the bar. You can watch porn or go to the secret rooms to have sex. It is all very European....interesting.

I normally do not go to Saunas. Why pay for sex when it is free - it is like paying for water. But when in Europe...do as the Europeans. The place was not so busy for a Tuesday night. But still there were some cuties - it is a bit like window shopping...find something you like...try it on in the change rooms and then buy.

I saw a cute tall guy - nice smile and dimples. Yes. He’s semi naked and I’m looking at dimples. Jim thought I should go after him. I’m really shy. Jim is very confident in these places. I on the other hand feel fat - ugly and not up to standard.

So I begin the chase. We make eye contact and he tells me his name is Richard. Cute accent - British. I had not had much luck with British guys in the past - they were all heartbreakers. But I’m a soccer for that cute accent. And dimples?

It was nice (British guys are not all assholes). There was foreplay...cuddling post sex. It was nice...romantic. He was all into me. I’m trying not to use sex as validation - but you can’t help but feel good after a hot guy is really into you. Maybe he was just saying things to get into my pants (or maybe he actually meant them). I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt.

My time is done in London - great friends, history and boys. Not bad for my second week of travel. What have I learned? beside the history of Stonehenge? hmmm

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ex-tasy

I met my ex for lunch yesterday. He lives in London now. I originally met him two weeks after I moved to Sydney. He was my first boyfriend and my first love. I broke up with him because as a newly out gay man, I wanted to play the field and experience things...he wanted to settle down and buy a house.

I often wonder if I made the right choice. That’s the thing about choices. You can never go back to see what would have happened if you had chosen the opposite option. Would I be any happier? Would I own property in Sydney...worth a lot? I probably would not be on this experience.

My ex is single...still looking for that long term love. He’s a sweet guy and it was fun catching up on old times - trips, people and family. Exes know you better than anyone else and you can reconnect with them almost immediately...even if you have not seen them in a long while.

I wondered if I was still attracted to him? I guess I still am...he was looking cute. For me, if I have loved someone..I never stop loving them. If it is real love. It is the romantic in me. I can’t switch off emotions like a light switch. I’m not British after all. But those feelings are always there.

Normally I am not friends with my ex. I can’t. It is too hard. But this guy and I had dated like 10 years ago. So there was plenty of time to get over any unresolved feelings and emotions...breakups are never easy...or clean. There’s always a mess. You say things you regret and hurt people you love.

London is a place where you could never bump into your ex - a huge metropolis of over 8 million people and spread out over a large distance. You could spend your whole life in just one area of the city. Even the gay scene is spread around different suburbs - unlike Sydney.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Beat It

Long before GRINDR, manhunt, gaydar or even gay bars...gay men used to frequent beats (public places - toilets and parks) to socialise and meet other gay men to have sex with... many men continue to use beats - maybe they are not out or maybe they enjoy the thrill of outdoor sex.

My friend Jim frequents beats. I was really curious as to how they work...what prompts guys to go to beats. “Isn’t it just easy to use GRINDR?” I asked Jim. The thing with beats is that they are very sexual - everyone is there for the same purpose. There are no games no waiting around for messages. Just go up to someone and start fooling around.

Jim agreed to take me on a tour of London’s biggest outdoor beat - out in Hampstead Heath. I figured this trip was all about trying new things - I was curious to see an outdoor beat in action. I have to admit I was a bit freaked out about the whole thing  - seemed like a lot of work to just get laid.

The beat was in a park in the middle of nowhere in north London and it was bloody cold and dark. I realised that I’m actually blind in total darkness - even though the moon shed some light I could not see much.

We arrived around 10 pm (sun in London is still out until 8 pm in summer). The whole place was a scene out of the Sleepy Hollow movie. I was waiting for some guy on a horse with a head to come out of the bushes. As we walked into the park, I thought...this is a bad idea. What if we get killed...chopped up by homophobes...what will our parents think?

Jim is experienced with beats. He first discovered toilets back in Sydney and enjoys checking out outdoor beats. He’s been doing it for a while so at least I was with someone experienced.

All I could see where shapes and shadows but I was surprised by how many men there were...20 or more...all walking around this big park at night There were lots of trails. We even bumped into the police and this gay organisation who were patrolling for safety (talk about progressive London). They were giving out info and condoms - clearly this is a famous beat.

The romantic in me was not sexually aroused one bit. It was cold, dark..scary. I could hardly see the guys....the though of sex in the bushes was freaking me out. I just wanted to run away back into the light. But we walked...and walked. Jim figures it is good exercise. There are no lights...you just have to feel your way through. Guys stand at areas...waiting for you to touch them. A few guys chat - but it all seems so normal...it is like being a bar except it is in the park...in the middle of nowhere and it is pitch black.

For many gay men, the thrill of outdoor sex is what keeps them coming back. Many are maybe married. To me, the beats take gay sex back to when it was dirty - had to be hidden..in the dark...anonymous. But the concept of beats is interesting from a research perspective - this is the beginning of gay relationships and contacts. In many countries or regional areas, beats are still the way gay men socialise.

I wanted Jim to hook up, but then again I was freaked out about being left alone. I was really scared. The dark freaks me out....must check my eye sight. But it was a different type of gay London - an attraction I had not seen on previous trips. And after all, I think those men at the beat were after things we all seek - a connection...just one in the dark.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Heaven

When I was in primary school, the nuns used to tell me that gay people could not go to Heaven. Last night, they were proved wrong. I went to heaven. It was full fabulous of  gay and lesbian people. Heaven is a famous gay club in London.

My friend and brother from another mother wanted to show me the London scene. I am normally not a fan of clubbing but when in London...how could I pass an invitation to Heaven?

Off we went on a rainy Friday night. We started off with drinks at GAY in Soho. The thing with gay clubs and bars is that they all look pretty much the same - same types of men, music (Gaga, Britney) and same vibe. There was less muscle in London (compared to Sydney) but similar attitude. It was all very cruisy.

I guess for many gay men...that type of environment is heaven. There is sex and alcohol on tap and clubs are very much places to hook up. The music is so loud no one can have a real conversation and the dance floor is so packed, you have to grind with the person next to you (the old fashioned GRINDR).

Jim wanted me to get a London pash. He’s so sweet. I mean who else but your gay friends are willing to take you out in the most miserable cold and rainy days. The truth is that Jim is a big clubber and he wanted to go dancing. He’d been to Heaven many times before (he’s a good Christian boy after all).

I’m usually pretty bad at picking guys up at clubs. Normally, I tend to attract freaks and the guys who hang around them. Tonight was no exception. I was being harassed by a creepy Elton John look alike...he was following me and actually touched my neck. Creepy.....I also got approached by two older short gay guys asking me if I wanted to join them for a threesome. Freaks, dorks and couples - my total target market.  Heaven was starting to feel a lot like earth for me.

Gay clubs often depress the hell out of me. I wonder if this is the gay life that awaits me for the next forty years...looking for the next one night stand...worrying about my looks...body and skin...trying to remain attractive. It may be heaven for some but hell for me. I want to develop and grow...find love and a partner and settle down. At Heaven, everyone was looking for Mr Right...now.

So at around 3 am, this cute guy checked me out. I moved closer to him and introduce myself. His name (I can’t recall) but he’s a Turkish doctor. Let’s call him the Turk. He’s cute...nice face..very masculine body...big watch. He’s ticking all my boxes...and being a doctor my grandmother would be proud. I tell him I’m off to Istanbul next week, talk about his work (Gynecologist!)....I ask him to teach me some Turkish...”What is the word for cute?”

He has this smile...it looks like a drug induced smile. But he’s cute. We grind a bit closer and start making out. He’s a great kisser....the passionate kind. I think I am going to like Turkey...ding dong...we make out in the dance floor...the “get a room” kind of making out. He’s so good...very hot.

We stop...dance a bit more. More kissing....I think I’m going to stop dating white guys. I think I need a Turk or a middle eastern or Italian guy. These boys can kiss...you feel the passion. I ask him if he’s on drugs...cause that smile is starting to freak me out. He’s a doctor ..on holidays..maybe he’s prescribed himself some happy pills. Maybe I want some. He just smiles.

Ok. Freaky drug guy. He walks away. I go and find Jim. He’s happy. He got a pic of us making out. I realise it is 4 am. I’ve never been up this late...not since I was at Uni. “You’re a student now. This is what students do,” Jim reminds me. He’s right. I have not done all night clubbing since college days in Boston.

We left the club to face the rain and cold...not hell but just earth. I wondered if the chances of me going to heaven were greater than finding love? I wondered if hell was just the gay version of Heaven?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

London Calling

I survived the twelve hour trip to London via Zurich. The whole journey actually took more like 20 hours when you take into account transit, travel and airport waiting time. It still amazes me that in a few hours, you can travel from one side of the world to the other. I left hot and steamy Bangkok and arrived in partly cloudy and rainy London.

I often wonder if I was born in the wrong continent. I must say I love Europe.  Maybe it is because I love history. There is so much history in Europe...200 years is so young! Australia truly is a baby. With history there is knowledge and appreciation for the important things in life. And European men are pretty hot too!

It is as though Europeans have matured. I always like older (not old!) men and I seem to do well in Europe. On my flight from Zurich to London, there were the cutest men in suits. It was a flight to London City airport, so the hottest and most masculine men were on it..reading the financial times, in their perfect suits with matching perfect briefcases. It was a nice welcome to Europe's financial capital.

The immigration officer asked me what my profession was...I answered honestly - "student." What are you studying? he asked. I wanted to say life. But I explained what my previous job was in Australia and what I was doing in Rome. I think he was suspicious by all the stamps on my passport. He gave me a reassuring smile and entry into the UK for 90 days.

I feel like I belong in Europe. One of my greatest loves (to date) was European (British) so I think the odds of finding my great love in Europe are good....there’s something about the men over here...they are just dam sexy...to me at least. And they are more open to a wide range of nationalities...

Before my husband hunting begins, I met up with a great friend from Sydney, Jim who moved to London back in March. I missed him. He and I are similar in many ways and we both travel very well together. I was surprised by how much weight he had lost! I almost did not recognise him.

Leaving Sydney was one of the best things that happened to him. I guess everyone is constantly changing...evolving...moving....developing. I never thought he would actually leave..so it was good to see him in London.  It was as though I had taken the best of Sydney with him.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Asian Fever

Ok. My first illness on this journey. I got an upper respiratory infection = basically a high fever with a very sore pain. I’m scheduled to fly to London tonight too. So yesterday I went to see a very experience doctor at some international clinic to get a shot of penicillin (yes, it does hurt a little).

I’m a sickly person. No matter where I go...travel makes me get this sore throat/slash fever. It is the fever that makes me feel more sick. It is not great...but it is a good diet...no food only liquids for a few days.

I am hoping this will be the first and last illness on this journey. It really takes it out of me....not to mention my credit card.

When I was little, I would get these things that neither of my brothers go...they got chicken pox, I got herpes zoster which never goes away and only afflicts elderly people. So when I do get sick and my immune system goes down, it flares up. It is painful and lucky for me the rash now appears on my face and my back. There is a vaccine (now) but only for those over 60. It is very rare that you get it when you are young - doctors often wondered if I was HIV positive cause young people like me just do not get those deceases.

So back to the fever - I never like to hear the sound of high fever in a foreign tropical country. There are bugs, bad water and diseases my poor and weak immune system is not ready for...so I headed for the first international doctor.

You get a bag full of medications - but still the fever was not going down. I thought this would be it...I would die alone in some gay hotel. My mother would have to walk past the rooms decorated with images of naked me to find me. Not a happy thought. 

I dread being alone sick in a foreign country. Luckily for me, my sister (by another mother) Jenny was here to look for me. She brought me over some medicine and fluids. I was too sick to get out of bed. That’s the thing about family - blood or by friendship...they’re there for you no matter what.....in sickness and in health. She’s earned some brownie points.

I’m off to London tonight - not looking forward to the over night 12 hour flight sick. I figured I’ll take a few painkillers and try to get some sleep. The journey continues.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Budhist Me

I figured as I was not having any luck with men, I decided to go in search of Buddha in Buddhist Thailand. The great thing about Bangkok is that Buddhism and Buddhist temples are literarily everywhere. Like many Buddhist countries, you can feel the spirituality.

I grew up Catholic. It was a religion that was imposed by my parents - if you are born in South America you really do not have any choice in regards to religion. Culture and religion are very much intertwined. I went to Catholic school for most of my life - and pretty much learned that everything is wrong and sin and that I am going to hell. The good news is that most of my friends will be there - which means it will be a big old party.

I am not a religious person. I do consider myself spiritual. I very much believe that we have a soul - an inner being. I like a lot some of the Buddhist concepts. I used to work with a lot of Buddhists in the past and learned a lot about this religion...mostly from their example. I think it was the healthiest work environment.

So back to me...and finding myself. After all, this journey is all about me. This blog is all about me...so much for leading a less selfish life. As I stood in front of the many Buddha, I could not help but think about my life...where I was...where I was going...where I had been in the last twelve years.

Life can sometimes take a very strange direction. If you told me twelve years ago that I would go and move to Australia and then pack my life away on a journey that would take me to Thailand...I probably would have not believed it. The chaotic streets of Bangkok seem so far away from my life back in the states or even Sydney. It really feels like I left that life (and blog) years ago. I feel completely disconnected...alone yet not lonely...full of hope..but lacking direction....a strange place....I know where I am going but I do not know where I’ll end up. I wonder if I’ll reach Nirvana? or if this journey is just the start of something much bigger...and longer....

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Australian

I went to breakfast later to avoid the Mexican. After all, I did not want any awkwardness while enjoying my eggs. To my surprise, I ended up chatting to an Australian. Yeah, I came to escape Australians and here I was sharing my breakfast with a guy from Perth. He actually had been living in Bangkok for a number of years. I wondered why he was having breakfast at my hotel - post hook up meal? Maybe it was the lovely fruit buffet.

Many gay and straight men come to Thailand because they are into Thai girls or Thai boys - the me love you I can do anything with ping pong balls. You can actually buy love in Thailand - and affection. The sight of older European and Australian men with younger Thai men and women is common. Although I hate to generalise, I am normally not attracted to Asian guys (way too smooth!) and shorter them me. I like my women feminine and my men manly (a bit of chest hair is nice). So if you are a single and sexually traveller, the options for white meat in Asia are somewhat limited.

Back to the Aussie. He’s a consultant and lives nearby. He seems interesting enough, lived in New York for a few years, well travelled...good job...apartment with a view. We decided to meet later in the day. I was feeling like some white meat and it was going to be a bloody hot day - good day to stay inside.

So we meet up again. We get naked and I start playing with his cock (sorry mum!). He asks if I mind of he smokes. Normally, I hate smokers...but again beggars cannot be choosers. I was waiting for him to take out a cigarette...he’s from European Melbourne after all. To my surprise I see a pipe..a bong!!! OMG, had not seen those since college. Maybe he’s doing put.

“What ya smoking?” I ask. “Tina,” he says casually. OMG! Tina AKA crystal methamphetamine, tina, crystal meths, krank, tweak, ice. This is totally illegal in Thailand. This is the drug as  that makes you fuck for hours. The minute I started sucking his cock, he started sucking on Tina. This wasn’t the first time a drug had killed my drug mojo. I could see that he was already getting drug fucked. Big turn off. I wondered if I could get high from just the fumes. What about kissing a guy who’s smoking it. This felt bad...really bad.

I’m a drug prude. Sure, I’ll take anything with a prescription but like Nancy Reagan (I realise this will age me..think of 1986) had said to my generation, I normally said no. At least to hard heavy drugs. Of course, I inhaled and tried pot in college. Who hasn’t? You can still be president. I also tried ecstasy one dance party about 8 years ago...all my friends were doing it and I wanted to know what it felt like. My friends enjoyed the best Mardi Gras party ever. I ended up in the medical tent and was on what it felt like speed for the next 48 hours. The half the pill ruined my night. It made me paranoid and I thought someone was chasing me the whole night. I took the same pills my friends did. I guess anxious people should not take ecstasy. Learned it the hard way.

On the bright side, I did alphabetize my CD collection, and sorted my wardrobe by colours and did not sleep for two days. But now, a 42 year old guy doing drugs in Thailand where penalties are severe..life and death.  I had flashes of me stuck in some Thai prison (a la Bridge Jones in her second film) and of having to call my mum to tell her I had been busted while sucking cock for using Tina. ARGHHHHH





Ice or Tina is the drug of choice of many gay men..the scary thing is that professionals do it...working people....tina on the weekend and business trips during weekdays. In Sydney it was as common as poppers.  There is really an epidemic in many gay communities.

So while my Aussie friend sucked off, I could not help and think about this drug fucked life...orgies...unsafe sex....Thai prisons. I could not go through with it...I wanted to run away...run away to Nancy Reagan and tell her I said “NO to drugs.”

So I did. I ran. I told the guy I was not really into it. I should have said I was really not into him. What was I doing anyway....having some dirty sexual affair with some white guy who’s into drugs. This is not me. So I decided to stop having casual sex all together...before I meet another looser. Or at least no sex until Europe...everyone knows Europeans put a bit more thought into foreplay than their bong.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Mexican

One of the nice things of traveling on your own, is you never know who you will meet. When you are on your own, you are more open to meeting new people. Singles tend to attract other singles.

I went down for breakfast. I’m an early riser, so it was just me and this other guy. After 15 years of being officially gay, my gayer is finely tuned. I could tell this guy was family and he was checking me out.

I figured instead of sitting alone and having my breakfast while reading the paper, I would ask him if he wanted company. He did.

His name was Francisco and he was here on business from Mexico City. We did the usual small talk, what to do you for work...why are you here...etc. We quickly learned we both travelled extensively for work...and we both loved the same cities: Cape Town, Vancouver, San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro. So he likes the gayest cities in the world.

He had recently visited Sydney. One way to come out to a stranger is to tell them where you go out on the weekends or what you do on the weekends. If you name a gay hood or a gay bar, it’s basically a way to tell them you are gay. So the Mexican told me about his Sydney adventures...how we went out in Darlinghurst to bars on Oxford Street including the Colombian. Ding Dong - we have a gay one.

He asked me what I was doing for lunch. I was free...no longer working..just studying after all. I really could not tell if I was attracted to him. Normally I am not attracted to Latinos, it’s a bit like dating family. But he seemed nice enough and interesting enough. Everyone after all has a story and I had not met a Mexican in a while.

So off we went to a nice restaurant for lunch. It was the place where all the expats go to - you could have been in a trendy European city. Good food, nice company, all the white people in Bangkok having exported food in one place.

Expats in Asia tend to stick together - I think expats fall into two categories - those that like the locals and want to learn a lot about the culture and those who want to pretend they still live in their former countries and who stay in certain neighborhoods and eat in certain restaurants. The restaurant (Kappa Cafe) was full of the latter group.

Again conversation flowed...and so did the wine. I normally do not drink at daytime but after all I am on holidays. He picked up the check. I think he expensed it. We walked back to our hotel. He was on the top floor and wanted to show me his view. I had a bad feeling about where this was going. I was still very indifferent as to whether I wanted to hook up with the Mexican.

I could tell he was keen. He kept touching me without any real need...touching my knee, touching my back in the left, patting me on the shoulder. The Signs were as clear as his  sexuality. 

The view was pretty impressive. He lied on the bed and asked me to sit next to him. Crap. I’m really bad at saying no. He bought me lunch so now I felt like I owed him. I dashed to the toilet and sent Jenny an emergency text. Save me!

She replied. I told him my friend was waiting for me = thanks but no thanks. He was surprised. But I did not care. I’d probably never see him again. Normally I never pass on sex but there were just no sparks. All I could think about was how much this guy looked my uncle (younger version). I’ll try anything once except incest!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lady (Boy) Luck

Thailand is one of the most tolerant Asian countries I have visited. It could be the Buddhist culture...but from rent boys to lady boys...they seem to let anything go here...live and let live. Lady Boys (trannies) are very prevalent in society. They are in the shops, at reception at my hotel, in commercials and even in movies. I’ve seen a number of guys wearing make up - no biggie here. No drama. There is even a tranny politician.

I’m in awe of the tolerance level in Bangkok...very rare for many Asian countries. Even in many progressive societies, the issues surrounding gender can polarize people. There is a case in Canada where a child is being raised in no gender - progressive? child abuse? the jury is still out. What about little boys who dress up as little girls?

Gender is the first label we are exposed to - boys wear blue and girls wear pink. Boys play with trucks and soldiers and girls with dolls and tea sets. What happens when boys want to play with dolls? and girls with trucks? Or a boy wants to wear dresses?

My nephew has been ‘cross dressing” for more than a year. He likes wearing his sister’s clothes and is obsessed with Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. He likes pretty much anything glittery. My brother and his wife are very progressive and allow him to wear what makes him happy (he does have fabulous style - after his uncle). I took him shopping once at the GAP and he immediately went into the girl’s section. The sales lady looked confused - and other parents were giving him weird looks, wondering if he was a little girl or boy.

I could not help but wonder how things have changed in 20 years. When I was little, I wanted to play with dolls. I wanted to have a tea set. But I had two brothers (no sisters at all) and little boys could not play with dolls. I never thought I was born in the wrong gender or wanted to be a girl, although I did use to roll a towel around my head and pretend I was Miss Universe - but that’s a whole another story.

The society I grew up was not accepting of any variations to gender or sexuality - it would take them years to come to accept being “gay.” I do not think they would be ready for gender reassignment - not that I think my nephew will become a niece anytime soon - not that would be an issue.

I do have a friend who is male but has started dressing as female (he looks better as a female) and is making the transition - no surgery plans yet. He’s struggling with his dual identity - work and friends. He came out as a gay man, but I think he feels like he’s coming out again - this time as a female.

I find it hard enough trying to figure out who I am as a man - can’t imagine how to sort out if I’m a female too.

Me Love You A Long Time

They say sex sells. It seems in Bangkok sex is for sale..everywhere...from money boys, to sex change operations for A$1500 or ping pong shows...you can’t help but see naked men or women anytime you get on a taxi. If you are a foreigner, you’re constantly being harassed to buy fake watches, porn and see one of the sex shows.

Older Western gentlemen flock to Thailand...for a bit of attention and a bit of luving...sure it may be something they have to pay for... but who says love is ever free? I can’t help but wonder and think if there is always a cost for love? either a financial cost or an emotional one? We sacrifice jobs, careers, savings...all searching and wanting love...we put up with abuse relationships at times...just to hold on to it.

And many men pay for it....it is an easy transaction...money = Thai love. I get a lot of messages on GRINDR from Thai guys. Some say they just want to practice their English or show me Bangkok. I worry that they only thing they want to see is money. One guy was at least honest: “Hello my name din. i am looking who can help me pay rent room If you can help me I can have sex with you.”

Poverty in many developing countries drives many poor people into the sex industry. Sex sells...and I’m sure many Thais probably make a better living selling their bodies than working a regular job. After all there is a big demand for sex - from rich Russian tourists to older Australian expats...gay or straight.

In college, I had a professor who used to talk about his “adopted son” in Thailand. The professor was probably in his 60s, creepy and sleazy. He once invited me to his house for dinner and I left before he could touch me. I had not been to Thailand then but during my first trip I thought about my 60 year old professor and his “adopted son.” It all made sense.

Although I’ve never paid for sex, I have no issues with paying for a massage -another activity popular in Thailand. Although many offer a happy ending, I find it too relaxing to be sexually aroused. A few have tried going down under - but I’m not really into it. I wonder if paying for a massage is any different than paying for sex...after all you are paying for someone to touch you - to make you feel good.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Journey

A long trip is a bit like life...the destination does not become important but it is all about the journey - the people you will meet, the things you will see and the food you will enjoy.

Sometimes traveling alone can be a bit like being single. I’ve been single for a while...I’m used to it..although I often wonder and wish that I would like to be to travel with a partner. I’m very passionate about travel. Some people get joy from decorating their houses, buying a fast car, or having more money in the bank...me, I get excited about filling in my passport with exotic stamps for faraway countries. I hope to visit every country of the world before I die..so far I’m up to 45...150 to go!

Traveling alone can have its advantages...you never know who you will meet. But it can also be lonely. I always try to remember that I may be lonely, but I’m not alone. I’ve got a very supportive group of friends and family.

My first trip abroad was when I was three years old. My parents took me from Colombia to Disney World in California. I think since then I’ve had the travel bug. I lived in the USA and then Australia. My job takes me overseas every other month. I feel comfortable at airports yet I sometimes cry on planes.

This journey is beginning with familiar faces. My friend Jenny is in Bangkok from East Timor where she recently completed a contract for a job. She is more like the sister I never had but always wanted, we both share a passion for adventure. Jenny inspired me to come on this journey and it was appropriate that we should start the journey together.

In the last few years, Jenny has been filling up her own passports with journeys that have taken her to Guatemala, USA, Spain, Italy and most recently East Timor. She’s off for a year to work in Kenya. She’s very driven and I’m sure she’ll end up working overseas for a number of years. I’m excited as it means that I can come and visit her.

Even though we never spend a lot of time in the same country, when we do catch up we start off where we left off. There is no need for introductions or background..she knows me better than I know myself. We’ve been there through shitty times for each other...we’ve travelled together...she’s my confidant. I can be totally honest with her...and she’ll be the mirror I cannot hide from. In many ways, she’s a soulmate...and I know we’ll be friends forever even if she is living in the Sudan. She’s always an email away and knows what’s going on with me...even if I’m on my own journey.

I’m proud of her...she’s a real adventurer and has been persistent in achieving her career.  She’s a person who’s part of my journey. We both do not know where we will end up...but we both know the importance of the journey.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bangkok

I love traveling to Thailand. There is something unique about the “land of smiles.” Everyone here is really happy - must have something to do with the Buddhist lifestyle. People are poor, there are political issues in the country and the traffic is horrible, yet everyone seems to be happy - such a contrast to the West where we medicate ourselves to be happy - spend hours with shrinks and no one seems to smile.

Everyone is friendly here - and not just cause they are money boys. I have been lucky in the past to travel here a number of times for work. It is always one of my favourite places. Even when I’m here for work, I feel like I’m on a holiday. There’s a tropical feel.

The weather change is nice - hot 32 degrees and sunny. It had been so cold in Sydney prior to my departure - typical winter weather with rain, rain and more rain.

I grew up Catholic but if I had to choose a religion I would want to be a Buddhist. It seems like such a positive way to live life...healthy...be happy...happiness should be the focus of life in my opinion.

I have travelled a lot of the world and I have to say some of the happiest countries tend to be Buddhist countries (except for Brazil).

My whole journey is to be happier - I was not happy in my previous life which seems so far away...the cold and dark rainy skies on Sydney. And if you are not happy, you have two options: bitch about it (which I did for a while) or do something about it. The Buddhist would do the latter. Action is the key to happiness.

Catholicism was all about sin, about pointing all the bad things you were doing and all the bad things that were going to make you go to hell. Buddhism is about you - your happiness without hurting anyone...about letting go of anger and hate - and thinking about the positive aspects of life. The mind has such power over the body.

Thais are known for their hospitality and kindness. Unfortunately, Bangkok is also known for the sex industry. The drawback of being a foreigner man in Bangkok is I get approached by working girls and their pimps constantly. “No, I do not want a ping pong show. It is 10 am!”

Many older foreigners, gay and straight come to Bangkok to be “loved a long time.” I’m not ready to pay for love...not just yet but who knows..maybe when I’m 65 I’ll be back here...with my Thai boyfriend.

There is something mystical about Thailand...spiritual almost...and contrast...there are small temples even at bars and venues that offer sex shows. You really can get anything in Bangkok..temples, ping pong shows and even underwater sex shows.

My Story

This is my story. It is not extra ordinary. I am a normal person out there looking for the same things everyone is looking for. I’m 34 years old (gay) formerly of Sydney, Australia. Over the last year and a half I felt as though I was not living life. I was going through the motions. I was getting up, going to work, coming home, watching TV and repeating it 365 times per year.

I was lacking in passion...and in love. I had a terrible break up. The love of my life dumped me for another guy and left my heart shattered. I was on emotional life support.

I decided to radically change my life. I quit my government job (secure and well paying); put all my earthly possessions into storage and purchased a round the world ticket. I decided to live in the most passionate place on earth: Rome, Italy.

I do not know where my adventure will take me..or where I will end up. But this is my story.

I feel empowered, hopeful, positive about the future. Life after all is not a dress rehearsal. There is no rewinding back to do it all over again. Life is like a big countdown.

I had wanted to do this for a long time, but a secure job, mortgage, friends, relationships always held me back.

I am scared but excited. I am free - just me and my suitcase and months ahead of travel and learning.

I will be studying along the way, catching up with old friends and making new ones. I am a blogger and this is my online diary - unedited and raw...emotional and mundane at times. It is really for me - but you are welcome to tag along.

It is my own version of Eat, Pray, Love - more focused on travel, pashing and loving. I have to look after my figure - less carbs and more running around. It is my own amazing race.

When I look back on life, I know this experience will stand out. Time is such a luxury and I am lucky to be able to afford time..time for me. Time to learn and to think..time to love and to pash! We are always learning...changing..at least I hope so.

I’m not a wise person...but I do feel alive. We all have our ways to cope with the ups and downs. For the woman sitting on the seat next to me, it is by downing whiskey (she’s luckily passed out so I do not have to deal with her for the 9 hour flight).

My route - somewhat planned and somewhat up in the air - a bit like my life. I have a rough outline of where I want to get to..just no clue how to get there....Sydney - Bangkok - London - Istanbul - Rome. 6 months, 6 continents, 6 degrees of separation