A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: CRBackman

Surfer to Pirate

Couldn't find a Parrot so I got an Iguana

overcast -17 °C

I sit here without a topic to write about and, for the life of me, I haven't been able to come up with anything decent.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't to say that my previous entries are of quality linguistic entertainment or provide anything more than my experiences-turned-bumblefuck-stories of things that have happened on our trip. Throw in my disadvantaged imagination and my ability to read peoples thoughts/move objects with my mind, and you get what you are about to read; crap and waisted time. I mainly do it for friends of mine who have the type of jobs where they need my crap and waisted time to fill the void left by their decision to simply ignore their employment responsibilities.

It's not that I didn't literally have anything to write about;

There was the amazing city of Malacca, Malaysia that had been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site on just July 7th, 2008. It has a gorgeous old town thats history is more rich than the pirate ships that used to anchor here with its plunder. The people of Malacca have a history that runs paralell with the town itself. In the early 1500's, Afonso de Albuquerque of Portugal set sail from Goa to Malacca and installed a strategic base for the Portuguese expansion in the East Indies. There is still evidence of the Portuguese presence in Malacca with the ruins of A Famosa the Portuguese fort, and the small community of the Kristang, people with partial Portuguese ancestry. The Portuguese were eventually defeated by the Dutch in the 1640's to capture Malacca. The Dutch ruled Malacca from 1641 to 1795 where they built and left their landmark better known as Red Building and Stadhuys Square. At points during its history the British acquired Malacca from the Dutch in a treaty, was then seized by the Japanses during WWII and then back to the British. When the crown colony dissolved, Malacca became part of the Malayan Union, which later became Malaysia. During this broad history, Malacca like a lot of Malaysia, has been transformed with a high number of Chinese and Indian migrants creating a city so rich in culture and history its impossible to see it all with the amount of time we have to spend here and it is as equally as impossible to describe just how amazing this place is. My guess is that with its newly acquired title from UNESCO, this place will be overrun by tourists and will dissolve the gem that Malacca has become in a fraction of the time it took to create.

I could write about the 12 year old boy who worked at the French department store Carrefour who sold me a mickey of Gin, but other than those details, it was quite a standard transaction. Though despite its 'standard-ness' I felt the little Muslim boys judgmental eyes disgracing me, a look so dissappointing it could lead a man to drink.

There was always the innumerable creepers that Jennie attracted, the cat-calling that, in my opinion, was not a result of construction workers rights or my jealous nature magnifiying the situation or the simple rareity of her golden locks but a reality that these men felt the need to express their sexuality toward my wife because of a brutal suppression of it due to nothing else but their religion added with their idea of western womens, comparative, sexual liberalism. The same religion that wouldn't allow Jennie, my wife, and I to lay together on a grassy hill in a park (yes, we were clothed). It's the same sexual repression funneled by religion that forced Priests onto altar boys in the unholiest of ways. This topic could be argued by some to be over my head. I choose not to use it as a topic due to its "Debby-downer-ness." Honestly though, after Cole's apprentice, nothing will come close to as ungodly or uncomfotable anyways.

There was also the ever-present and obvious inability for people to accept us as a married couple because the locals (all but one) thought that I was too young and Jennie was too old for us to be married. It's not my fault I was blessed with my Fathers unnatural and awesome genetics, but because I am a good husband, I feel obligated and motivated to look older. As far a genetics go, I strongly beleive that to make up for a persons stronger attributes, they are given some lesser attributes to even everything out. We can't all be fucking Swedish, can we. For instance, I also obtained my Dads (in)ability to grow facial hair. If there was a "Pubic Hair on the Face Growing Contest," Dad and I would win 1st and 2nd every year. Hands down. No question.

I wanted to write about something else, something simple. I needed help and who better to help me than the person who thinks the most of me more than anyone else. (Excluding my Mom, Julio San-Chen and Brian.)

But first I needed to ask her a question.

"Babe, am I the raddest dude alive or what? Honestly."

"Umm. No. You might be if you didn't have your beard."

What she doesn't realize was that she acknowleged it as a beard.

What she doesn't realize is, this is why I'm the raddest dude alive...


Now, if I had obtained my Moms genetics in the beard-growing field, I'd look something like, well, this...


Have you made your Mom cry today? 'Cause I probably just did.

Posted by CRBackman 23:24 Archived in Malaysia Tagged animal Comments (2)

The Indonesian Animal Kingdom

Appearance by: Cole's apprentice.

sunny 38 °C

I haven't had the opportunity to write for a while. After leaving Ubud on the island of Bali, Jennie and I took a trip of complete spontaneity to Lombok and Gilli T islands. This led to some completely unexpected events of which I was unable to write about due to being on an island with no internet, and what internet there was, was "expensive." That's how I say, I just didn't feel like it.

Gilli Trawangan was the perfect tropical island. It is forever what I will picture when thinking of the tropics. Aside from the garbage problem, but thats just this part of the world in general, the Gilli Islands were some of the greatest beaches I've ever seen with absolutely clear water. You can ride a bike (but mostly walk because the sand is too hard to ride in) around the island in about an hour. The back side of it is largely uninhabited and brilliantly quiet. Where we stopped for a break on our bike ride, the waterfront land was all for sale and gorgeous. The water, however, was not what we expected. Jennie ran in ahead to cool off and yelled back at me that it was hotter than the air. I scoffed at this, put away my video camera and walked in beside her. She wasn't bullshitting, not even a slight exaggeration, it was scorching. Aside from such a terrible thing to have bloody-hot tropical weather system, the place was, for lack of effort to find better terminology, fucking awesome.

Absent from the Gilli's were dependable phones, any motorbikes or cars and it was even uninhabited by ugly rabid dogs (like the rest of Southeast Asia.)

However, broken-tailed cats roamed free like the majestic wild horses of the old southwest. Like people in the wild west used to tame the crazy-eyed stallions, I tamed the broken-tailed kitties to come when they were called, roam around on our patio and sleep on our furniture. I am a pussy tamer*. Two in particular were relentless in their screams. No amount of pets, captured beetles, cans of tuna or BBQ chips shut them up. They screamed like a Veteranarian## told them they only had 3 more days before their voice box stopped working. I named the twins Frankie and Mickey La Bouche.

Goats were also another semi-wild, mostly retarded animal that rummaged through the garbage areas** feeding on whatever they set their creepy little devil-eyes on. Jennie says they're cute, but I saw a hellspawn twinkle in its eye.

So I wrestled it.

Jennie claims this never happened, but she also claims that her and Lisa aren't Dragons either++. There are pictures that Judge Jennie herself took providing evidence for my case that I indeed wrestled the shit out of that little demon and whipped its ass (in a totally humanitarian and non-abusive way.) Please, don't think you're clever and add comments with responses of which state or even imply I sexed the goat up. You should be ashamed. My peeps did nothing of the sort.


Jennie and I were walking home from an Irish pub one night, just before the Rumble in the Jungle between Sugar Ray Backman and Goat (he claims his name is an acronym for Greatest Of All Time, but it's clearly not) and out of a restaurant/bar a person asked us if we wanted a drink.

"Hello nice couple. Come in for a drink? Maybe some magic mushrooms? Honeymoon mushroom shake? Make your man stay up all long time! Good for you, you know?!" We felt this to be quite an interesting selling tactic but still declined the invitation.

Before our week long stay on Gilli Trawangan, we stayed 2 nights on Lombok at a beach called Sengiggi (pronounced sen-gee-gee). We arrived late at night to Sengiggi after a 5.5 hour ferry ride that cost us 32,000 Rupiahs each, just under $4 CDN. Luckily they provided large bunk-bed styled areas where one (or 147 people) could take a nap and sleep the trip away. I couldn't help but think about BC Ferries and how they charge twice as much for a twenty minute boat from Campbell River to Quadra Island.

Sengiggi the next morning was about as creepy as creepy could be. As soon as Jennie stepped outside she found a local man sitting on the step in front of our room. He talked and talked and Jennie was polite and answered his questions and continued on with the harmless conversation. For most, a conversation with a local whom is not trying to sell you something is just a conversation. It is said that if they encroach on personal topics such as; your age, how much money you make, if you are married, if you have kids or what position you conceived them in, it is just harmless coversation. A way for them to practice their english. It is just in their culture/nature to be so open. It went beyond all of that when I noticed Jennie's nervous giggle (some call it a cackle, but thats not the point) disappeared, so I decided to make an appearance out on the patio. I said hello, introduced myself and sat down beside Jennie and listened. As if I was a ghost or an ignored, unwelcomed figment of his imagination, he continued on. And on. And on.

From what I assume, a conversation is an informal exchange of information through talk between persons. If I am right, then this was not a conversation but actually a one 38 year old local Indonesian talking at my wife explaining the finer points of his romances with western girls, how he will only have relationships with western girls and the kicker, how he sees a lot of newly married couples come here for their honeymoon and they get into arguments.

"These are the girls I like to take."

Like they're a fucking mint in a bowl sitting on the coffee table.

I don't claim that my brain is a well-oiled thinking machine, but through all of my calculations, the only answer I had come up with for how he expected me to respond was, 'It's my wife, but sure, have a go.'

Somehow we rid ourselves from Cole's apprentice and went for a swim. Bored, we floated around the shorline with our masks on trying to find peices of coral in the shapes of letters to spell out our names. After some time, the current of the ocean was able to separate Jennie and I, although I hadn't realized this until she obtained my attention by throwing a large peice of coral at me. She looked quite surprised and nervous. She had her back to the beach and was stealthily (I taught her everything she knows about being stealthy) motioning up the white-sand beach.

There he was again.

Looking at him, all I could imagine was that shortly after we departed for the beach, he grew lonesome and frustrated that his new girlfriend had left him to swim with her husband. In a passionate rage he beat the shit out of a five year old boy and stole his underpants and was now standing on the beach with his hands on his hips wearing nothing but an expression of glorious and triumphant success and the five year olds faded underpants to show his undying love. If that's not true love, I don't know what is.

"...do you take this woman for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Do you promise to beat the shit out of a five year old and wear his underpants to prove this?"

"I do. Now where's the kids table!?"

After a sufficent amount of ignoring he hung his head like a defeated goat in a wrestling contest and agonizingly walked away. We were free.

A short time later as we laid on our towels picking through the broken peices of coral, a hocker selling necklaces made of leather, cow bone and coconut shells made his way over to us. I found one I liked and made sure the symbol actually stood for Gilli Island and not something vulgar (you can use your own imagination here.) As he showed me all of the other symbols, he explained what they stood for and the names.

"Dis is Gilli Islands, dis one Lombok, dis one gecko, dis one sexy toilet, dis one girl gecko, boy gecko, I hab many more."

"Uhh, wait. Go back."

"Boy gecko?"

"No, it sounded like you said sexy toilet."

"Yes. sexy toilet. Good one dis sexy toilet."

"What does it mean?"

He looked at me like I asked him if I could have a go 'round with his wife.

"What you mean? It is sexy toilet. Dis is it."

"Cam will love it. How much?"

  • Cats, dont be perverted.

  1. #These don't exist here.

  • *Large areas of land designated for garbage collection that never get collected. These areas are usually called by the locals and tourists alike as "Indonesia."

++If this statement does not make sense to you, it can be cleared up by Brian McQuarrie. His email: brian_mcquarrie@hotmail.com

Posted by CRBackman 21:17 Archived in Indonesia Tagged travelling_with_pets Comments (0)

Corey's Travel Tips

Tips 1-3


Scenario #1:
If located inside a cooler is a refreshingly cold bottle of Kiwi-Strawberry Snapple that upon first glance(s) looks mirky and brownish in color, with the familiar "pop" sound as you unscrew the metal lid somehow missing, the taste is like that of a bottle of wine-in-a-bag gone horribly wrong garnished with napalm and various STD's, please, do not hold the bottle to your lips and slam the whole thing regarldess of how hot and thirsty you may be. I beg you don't do it. It may or may not have caused the ear ache I now have.

Tip #1:
Check the expiry date because it might say March 2008, when it's currently October 2008.

Scenario #2:
If you're going to exchange your traveller's cheques at a "money changer" or even a "credible bank," always, always, always ask, regardless if they have a big shiny board displayed in large letters outside the office in question with an exchange rate clearly written, what the actual rate is. Those silly money exchangers are so forgetful, they might have just forgot to change the big shiny board outside that says 8600, to what the magical exchange rate changed to on this fine Sunday morning, to 7800.

Tip #2:
Always ask what the rate is before handing over any money or passport information. Never assume the exchange rate is the same from money exchanger to money exchanger or from town to town. It is common for all money exchange establishments to work together and monopolize an entire town and take an extremely outrageous commision.

Scenario #3:
If you're going to make a phone call, regardless if it's a local call, expect to pay an international rate. A four minute local phone call could end up costing you astronomical amounts of money. Even if the phone cuts out and hardly works, the little ho-bag across the counter will call all of her guy friends to the store and argue with you for 15 minutes about how the phone isn't broken. Apparently I was broken. "Arso, may you arso broken not my phone. Not my phone broke, possibree you are broke, not my phone. My phone not broken. Why you not pay now, my phone not, you broke, pay for call now! Yes, yes, you phone Indonesia from Indonesia but it still International call."

Two things were broken, her fucking phone and her uncanny ability to butcher the english language; second language or not, it was horrible. She could pronounce 'international' like a scholar but not the word 'also.' ARSO, her boyfriends facial region just about obtained broken status.

Tip #3:
Always ask what the rate is going to be. Never assume anything is fair. Always assume you are about to bend over and take it. Assume everyone wants your money and they don't want it honestly.

Posted by CRBackman 21:52 Archived in Indonesia Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (1)

Down Time

Villa Jaya, Lovina Beach, Kalibukbuk, Bali, Indonesia

31 °C

Today I woke up from my 13 Canadian dollar per night pristine room, slid on my green skull patterned shorts and added some blue flip-flops to finish off my simple attire. Slowly, patiently, I gathered a towel, sun glasses, sun block, complete with my book and made my way down to the restaurant to eat my banana pancake breakfast that spoiled me as it's included in the room rate.

After having some water, some herbal tea and a platter of fruit, also included, I sat with my wife as we watched the McCain-Obama Debate. At some point, the debate ended and the sun was fully exposed and blistering at around 31 degrees so I decided to jump into the crystal clear water of Villa Jaya's pool.

My afternoon consisted of entering and exiting the pool, entering and exiting the pool-side shower, and entering and exiting the comfort of my deck lounger to read where I, at first laid on my back, then rotated around like a human rotisserie.

At an unknown time on this unknown date in October, the sun, an intruding blanket upon my blackening skin, became too overpowering and forced me to retreat to the shaded coverture of my room.

Oh, to be away from the Octobers of home.

Suck it Canada.


Posted by CRBackman 00:16 Archived in Indonesia Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

Bromo to Bali : Geysers to Goiters

STARRING: Jennie Backman as Scared White Girl, Corey Backman as Awesomest Dude Alive & Crazy Driver McGoiter as Himself.

Let me start out by saying, I shit you not, I was electrically shocked by a computer yesterday. Not some bad ass 'attack of the Robots' type scenario either. I was just typing and my knee touched it and shocked me.

Yes, it hurt.

No, I didn't die.

Yes, I can move things with my mind.

No, I've always had this ability, it is not related to the shocking incident.

I have no further information on this topic so let's carry on.

Jennie and I climbed a mountain the other day, it was like a 7.0 on the B-A scale. The climb of the 2329 metre volcano of Mt. Bromo was easy compared to the garbage we had to go through with the people who "organized" our tour. I'm not even going to get into that (like I thought I was going to) because by the time we got to the top of the mountain and watched the sun ascend over a set of active volcanoes of which my new-ish (slight tarnishing has taken place, my Dad says its normal [apparently I don't like the romantica]) wife and I had just done the same; it didn't matter anymore. It didn't matter even if I wanted to shove him in a Zorb (http://www.zorb.com/), fill it full of assorted animal feces with ten thousand African Bees and roll him down the mountain side! Gooz frabah, gooz frabah. Breath... and we're back.

She had a cold and felt like hell (still looked beautiful [because I like the romantica]). I had a stomach issue of which, I'm pretty sure, produced me to pull both hamstrings and turn my colon into an inverted human geyser causing me to blow out my lower intestine. (Respect B-shaw, respect.) I have gone two rounds with traveller's diarrhea already and it has beat the shit out of me. Pun intended. Jennie has been fine, but that's to be expected when you have a Father who lives on Quadra Island and thus, your stomach is a mixture of cast iron and technology only known to NASA.

The site of Mt. Bromo was nothing short of brilliant. We walked across the huge expanse of black sand dunes caused by old erruptions of ash and rubble layering on top of the hardened lava rock from older-yet erruptions. We walked in the pitch black with the only source of light being our small headlamps. We walked until we reached the top. We succeeded.

We coincidentally met up with a German couple on our bus, which took us from Bromo to the island of Bali, that we had met in Jakarta roughly five days prior. However, after the ferry docked and we officially landed on the other island, the bus stopped and we parted ways. Those of us who chose to go to Lovina, rather than Denpasar, exited the comfort of our air conditioned coach only to climb aboard a mini bus. After such a hellish trip we'd endured on our way up the mountain, due to my stomach and unbelievably chaotic traffic, the way down was a delight. Then it all changed.

We exited the large coach in the middle of hectic traffic and were somehow able to organize our bags and scurry across the pavement without getting blasted by one of Indonesia's highly trained drivers. We followed the man around two street corners and were finally led to an open and relatively docile parking lot. Just I I crossed the street and hopped onto the safety of the curb, a large coach rushed passed us honking its horn. I glanced up and realized that it was the same bus and horn-crazy driver that had just kicked us out in the middle of a hazardous, to say the least, highway. I'll never understand the logic of these men, I thought. Not that mine is so refined. I've been known to sprint into trees, drunk. I blame Sailor Jerry... and Ryan Mackenzie for that.

We arrived at our bus that, maybe just to me, looked similarly shaped to that of a small van. On top of the bus was a dark skinned Indonesian barking orders that seemed routine for everyone to fully ignore. Perhaps, I thought, as I threw up our bags noticing there was no roof rack to keep our belongings from flying off at random, he was just the local crazy guy (whom the actual drivers hire), screaming obscenities, who climbs onto the roofs to secure baggage. Then us four transferee's were funneled into the small blue van where 16 other people sat, crammed like sardines in a can. Then the baggage man got in. Silly baggage man, I chuckled to myself, he thinks he can sit in the drivers seat. He's crazy, but I like him!

Why are you starting the van crazy baggage man? Jennie had a look of horror that was frozen to her face. She must be thinking the same thing as me, I thought. Her giantess, McMartin head blocked the view of Crazy Baggage Man (he gets capitalized now). Nope, okay, Crazy Baggage Man is putting it in drive. Crazy Baggage Man is Crazy Driver Man! He continued to spew god-knows-what from his mouth as we pulled away, so I decided to lean around the mass (beautiful, wouldn't change anything about it, mass) that was, and still is, my wife's head. There it was. A not so beautiful, sure-as-fuck would change it in a heartbeat if I could, get this guy some iodine in his diet, Goiter (It gets capitalized too). http://i160.photobucket.com/albums/t180/pyrosteve6009/goiter.jpg. This thing was like his little buddy, I bet it followed him wherever he went. With my calculations and logic, I assumed that this specific goiter was not due to iodine deficiency thus causing his thyroid to expand beyond all bloody-hell. I estimate that it was his body's defense mechanism, from the way Indonesians drive (Wallace-like, or worse), to form a meaty, thyroidy, mutated mass of a neck brace.

  • *I now urge all persons to whom of which still, beyond any and all understanding that man can find, choose, are forced or otherwise, to explain that your body may indeed inflict upon itself, only as a defense mechanism as previously stated, a massive fucking goiter.**

I'm a stare-er. It's what I do. I like to call it "people watching" to be polite, but any way you slice it, I enjoy staring at weird shit, rude or not.

So I stared. My only thought was of the goiters immaculate complexion and of how I so desperately wanted to draw a face on it.

He drove.

Then suddenly a hand gripped my thigh like the all mighty himself reached down and punished me for my impolite and sinful ways. I cringed and was not-so surprised to find Jennie's white knuckles clamped across my leg. Her eyes were still frozen, looking forward and, unlike mine, hadn't looked over at the driver. Not even for the tiniest of glances. Then, exorcist-like, her head turned but instead of spewing green acid vomit she spewed lazer beams out of her eyes that burned into my dysfunctional soul. I could sense her judging me.

Her once-frozen face freed, her eyes locked on mine, then dropped slightly downward.

"What am I going to do?" Her voice was uncharacteristically soft and characteristically polite. She asked a legitimate question. Then repeating the exact same words, the meaning changed to not question but a remark of complete horror.


Crazy Driver McGoiter was my new best friend.

Take a seat Julio. Yeah, over there in the back beside Tay, the guy consoling Brian.

Posted by CRBackman 22:58 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bus Comments (0)

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