"Welcome to my site" ger4444's Profile

about my self

I found VT an wonderful site to learn about other countries, other people, getting uselful inforation and meeting people. It motivated me to help others to find inforamtion as well. Travelling is my passion. When its summer we pick up our bags and get prepaird for the unknown: seeing new exciting places.
In Europe there are many great spots you have to visit! My favourite spots are: Barcelona, Prag, Budapest and Madrid. As it comes to Europe, I have a certain thing with Eastern-Europe, especailly the South-East, balkan region. So, since i have been in Bulgaria in the summer of 2003, i defintely put this country on the numer one spot! Outside Europe my favourite country is Bolivia. Travelling has 2 important factors to calculate: first there is the money-problem I think, however, we managed to deal with this factor: our policy is to travel as cheap as possible. Flying with airlines that have dubious reputations, staying at chap hostals and staying away from all kinds of toursitic Dysneyland-like activities have untill now proved to help a lot. The other factor is that not everyone is that enthousiastic for these kinds of holidays. Most of the people prefere Ibiza or at least a nice hotel in a comfortable city. So, each year it's again that struggle to find people who are crazy enough to spend their money on it. Apart from that it's also important that only good friends are the suitable travelfellows, considering f.e. sitting two month in filthy houses somewhere in South America...
I like to explore a particular country till the bottum. I dont like to travel in the way such as people might do while visiting a whole continent in one month (f.e. the European thing) that is, in short: -What day is it? -Its July the 17 th. -Oh, then this must be Paris.
Not only seeing as many as possible the places of one country, but also experiencing that country in its fullest way, is what I like. I like to learn (at least some basics of) the language, like to stay at and meet with locals, and like to learn about the history, culture and contemporary society of the country in all its aspects. What are the other things I do then, when i am in the unknown??

what to do in the unknown?

Hanging around in foreign cities, tasting it's atmosphere and hitting the bars is one of my favourite activities when i'm in other counties. The other two are biking (the best way to see the country) and most of all mountaineering.!When I have saved money, I like to spend it as much as possible on travelling since I dont care that much for material stuff; yet i still hear people wondering why, since it is said that a journey will be over in one month and material stuff will rest; but then I think that travelling gives you everlasting memories, experiences, insights, sensations and friendships that a new computer or new televistionset will never be able to give you.
When I travel around there are two things that I definitely do NOT want to do. The first is travelling on a packagetour, that is, a completely organized trip including flight, hotels and a touringbus who brings the travellers to all the sights and places. You move around the country and see the country only from behind the glass windows of the touringcar, you get at each place you visit a restricted time to see the place, that is, staying as close as possible to the group and under the custody of your guide (as if you are a child that has to stay next to the nanny.) and not being able to explore the place yourself (dont get too close to the locals, they can bite) It is indeed as if you are visiting a zoo, you are not in that country at all but only see it from inside a glass cheese-cover that moves trough the country. You could in stead also stay at home and watch a film about the country. The other thing that I do not want to do on my travelling is overdoing the camera thing. I dont take a film/videocamera with me because then you are tempted to see the country only through the lens of the camera. I also try not to make too many pictures of things. Often I see tourists taking dozens of pictures from f.e. the furniture and walls inside a church and then I think: what is the real memory of this; what possible memory does 10 pictures of a pilar or wall inside a church give you !? I try to enjoy the things i see by trying to let it work on me by spending enough time to experience it in reality. Funny then, while you are enjoying it, dozens of tourists come by and leave again already having seen it, that is, quickly taking a picture of it and hurry on. So, I try to enjoy the moment in stead of beeing too busy by taking pictures. (some tourists are so busy filming and photographing, that they "really see" the country for the firsts time when they are at home again watching the pictures and films!)

still not tired of all this reading?

So...I see you're still reading all this stuff... Great! I shall then treat you to some more extra small trivial facts about myself.
-nationality: Dutch
-nose: 1"2
-hobbys: Travel, arts, politics, writing , drama (cabaret/performing sketches; try some of them at the bottom of this homepage), music (singing&guitar,clavier, songwriting).
-favourite game: chess.
-favourite music: Pixies, Joy Division, Pink Floyd, U2, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Rammstein, Placebo, OMD, The Doors, and eighties New Wave (and Neue Deutsche Welle)
--Trivial fact: My dreams at night get always interupted by commercial breaks.
-favourite filmdirectors: L.von Trier; S. Kubrick
-favourite films: Trois couleurs (Rouge), Idiots, Abre los Ojos, A space odyssey, Natural born killers,
The party, the Razors Edge, being John Malcovic, Once upon a time in America, the Meaning of life, Pappilion, Once upon a time in the West, Knoflokari.

-Trivial fact: I am jealous of the soft-drink vending machine at the mall: the way he is standing there, with that self-confident, severe look, while being sexy at the same time. (standing relaxed next to the counter, with its cord hanging on its back in a casual way)
-favourite author(s): E. Zola, G. Orwell and B. Easton Ellis.
-favourite book: On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
-favourite humor: Monty Python, A bit of Fry and Laury, Rowan Atkinson.
-favourite sound: the sound an ATM produces when it relaeses your cash out of the machine, indicating you will be able to continue living for another day...
-Thinkers I admire: Baudrillard and Wittgenstein
-favourite medicine: A2-proXX87
-favourite composers: Albinoni, Mussorgsky, Bach and Beethoven (his Mondsheinsonate being the most imressive composition ever)
-favourite insect: archidipodeae-mixtae
-favourite painter (s): Manet, Monet, Degas, Van Gogh
-favourite transportation to travel by: trains (the older, the better)
-favourite disease: influenza.
-languages I speak: dutch, english, french, german
-favourite architecture style: Jugendstil, art deco and Bauhaus.
-Trivial fact: the man who is living in the wardrobe of my sleepingroom never cleans up. Yesterday I found 3 empty bottles of wiskey lying in front of the wardrobe. The man is a real pain in the ass; he even hasnt had the decency to introduce himself to me, since he came living in my wardrobe.
-favourite food: greek and thai.
-favourite foreign contemporary culture/society: germany.
-favourite moment of the day: 17.h. 22
-cult: TINTIN. He definitly influenced me to become a traveller, yet he is a bit of a bore; luckely there also Haddock...
-what i can't believe: why are you still reading this?

A bit of my VT philosophy

Think of this: 'Society'' will always be imposing and enforcing the way we should life. Consequently, if you don't conform, you are not 'normal' So, people who do not dare to stand out, who follow the 'mass:' I feel pity for them: Dare to choose your life. You only life once, so don't say when you are 80 years old 'I always wanted to do this and that, but then I got a buzzy uninteresting job and I couldn't follow my dream'. Your dream is NOW! A consequence of this philosophy is that I am not fond of taboo's, conventions, narrow-mindedness, people who follow the mass, people that necessarily want to be "normal." I am fond of people who have the opposite qualities of the latter: people who are different, people that may be crazy types, people being themselves (Why fullfilling the expectations of others in stead of your own expectations!!?) Without these human qualities the world would be a dull place. Coincidentely or not, I find the people who travel and are interested in enlarging their worldview, the people who are liberal, tolerant, authentic and open-minded. VT-community being a global club of people who have understand how to life! Dont follow the flock, have your own opinion: GO YOUR OWN WAY!

As a consequence of the little philosophy as stated above: what do i think about the about the Ideal path then? (the nice familylife with its family values living somewhere in a nice litlle suburb). Of course, we all want that. But watch out. The close, muggy world of community life with its smalltown gossip and the outward decent looking fellowmembers can be the breeding ground of hypocrisy: not having an own opinion but parroting what the mainstream thinks and playing roles (both to ensure acceptance by the rest of the community) and being intolerant against everything that is strange or not fitting into what the community demands its members to adapt themselves to. BE YOURSELF!!! This all is a stereotype of course, but it is still going on, due to such forces as conservatism, which is the ideological basis of adaption referring to tradition and customs. (saying: its good, because we have always been doing so.) (Thus: conserving that what we are used to do and resisting to any changes) and this way of thinking, interlinked with strong pressure on conceps such as values and national vitrues, would like to bring society back to the fifties.... Alternatives and changes are the sources of progress: real ideas that have lead to the progress of mankind came from souls that were not letting them being obstructed by conventions. As normality hinders any form of progress, changes of thought and changes of scenery make a life worth living, and thats why travelling, which is all about changes of scenery, alternative ways of living and thoughts, is the ultimate way of spending your time, and if it were possible, your whole life. Indeed, just like arts, travelling is food for the soul! And again, its clear why travellers, that is I guess all VT people, who are interested in enlarging their worldview and stand open for change and alternative ways of life, are per definition liberal people. OPEN YOUR MIND

So, is it possible then to give your self a way? Depends on what you think the Self means. I believe there are three categories of the Self: that is, what you ARE (personality, character, intelligence, knowledge, strength etc); what you posses (property, possession), what you mean to others (how others value you: that is, status, fame etc). The first category overrules the latter two: if your character does not put value on possession or external opinions (without necessarily being egoistic or anti-social) its much more easy to give your Self its way, that is being more free than a person who is tangled in the latter two forms of the Self. Lets say f.e. I have studied totally in another direction than english teaching and decide to choose a living teaching English to children in India in a development project. Then, I would not have the money I could earn as i would earn in my "normal" profession, I would not forfill the expectations of the State who has partially financed my studies, but I do give my self a way, Yet, that choice does not deprive me of all that ypu have learned during your studies and life and thus, as a person you keep your richness. Only the first category of the Self is what counts.

Finally; beware of regarding Culture as a natural existing entity. As an objective, unchangeable phenomenon it does not exist. Culture is not a fixed category, it has no fixed core. People are inclined to provide a culture with a certain essence or core, which gives it its characteristic property. Because of this, cultures are perceived as entities with a fixed content. Yet: the content of a culture is not essential: it changes every time when we redefine our culture by marking our differences in regard to The Other. Then our Cultures are reinvented and that happened in the past, and will continue in the future. So, since culture is not something that is born somewhere in the past, but constantly is reinvented by the ruling elites, all actual political national discussions that dominate the media nowadays, about the other cultures, such as muslims ,within a county having to assimilate/adapt to the Main culture of that country are non-sense. Since Culture has no fixed core, we cannot univocally determine what exactly this Main culture is, that newcomer cultures should adapt themselves to; subsequently what the exact identity is that the newcomer cultures in our country should give up. In short: anti-multiculturalism is a wrong way to solve so called problems. Again, as what I think to be true about individuals not having to adapt to what the mass, that is, what mainstream society, requires, cultures do not have to adapt themselves to the mainstream culture. All that being Fanatatic about conceps of nationhood and patriotism is narrow minded as dangerous as well. As a consequence: imposing western values with the motto that they are THE universal values is quite a farce: how can Western values being Universal at the same time? So, open-mindedness and tolerance (or better: respect) is the right answer. Since people who travel learn to respect other cultures, and people who respect other cultures like to travel; travelling is cause and effect of The Good Life.
So, since I define culture as an non-essential fact, (allthough it is a beatifull thing to expolore) I don't identify with particular cultures, such as the so called 'Dutch Culture' ; I am reather cosmopolitan; and that's I guess why I like travelling that much!

Travelling is being curious, and being hungry for new things, that is, being interested in alternatives and change, in doing so one has an automatic aversion against conservatism (sameness and normality) as perceiving this as an obstruction against otherness (the source of individual and collective progress). The logical comeout of this view is tolerance and openmindedness . This, however, is not unmproblematic, since you are allways confronted with the Paradox of Tolerance, that is, that you are intolerant against intolerance.

Still not bored by all this serious stuff? As for me,my brain is hurting as a result of writing so many wise words...I think i really must stop now and get a bit less serious again.

Humor being universaly the same?

Sometimes i like to put unsignificant events in an absurd spotlight. But often i wonder wether humor is universaly the same or that it strongly is influenced by local culture or mainly subjective. Try it out with some of my sketches I once wrote: some of you may find it to be so totally not funny, others may like it.

News sketch

- A (Newsreader): "We now directly switch over to our correspondent in Frasersburgh and have live contact with Peter Collins, who is at location in Fraserburgh. Peter, what exactly is happening in Frasersburgh?"
-B (reporter) "Well Martin, in Frasersburgh nothing is happening."
-A: "nothing is happenning... I see. Do you have any idea how it could come this far?, How could this situation arise?"
-B: "Well Martin, as far as I am informed there hasnt happened anything here for ages. Its just a small town where not so much is happening. Locals of this place actually don't now themselves how this situation could come into being."
-A: "Are you able to describe the situation over there Peter?"
-B: "Well, I see people walking here in the pedestrian area, they seem to be busy with buying things such as food, drinking, but also things like compactdiscs or clothing. This morning I spoke a 35 year old woman who was buying clothes at the local mall, Martin. At the market place vetgetables are being sold and I have seen children going to school right here in this street."
-A: "and this is as a matter a fact often happening in Frasersburgh?"
-B: "Yes Martin; and in my opinion we can conclude from all this, that in this particular town, a situation has appeared, in which there is nothing up. In this town there is nothing going on of any particular interest."
-A: "What is being done to help these people in this situation?"
-B: "At the moment nothing. The authorities are monitoring the situation, but since not very much happens in this place, one does actually fear that there will also be no help-actions in the near future."
-A: "Thanks for your estimation of the situation in Frasersburgh for this moment Peter,we will get back to you if there is going to happen less than at this moment in Frasersburg."

Pet shop sketch

-A (customer): "Good afternoon. Do you sell mice?"
-B (pet shop employee): "Only the best sir, only the best. What sort of mice are you looking for?"
-A: "Mice that burn long enough".
-B: "Than I have for you exactly what you are looking for: voila: mice that burn extra long, from our special offer."
-A: "How much mice do I need for one buning-hour?"
-B (using his calculator) "3 kilogramm of mice is one burning-hour. With that amount of mice you have exactly one hour of light sir."
-A: "Mmmh..I have to work tonight for a long time, so I do need light. Do me 6 bags of 4 kilogramm. If these mice are not functioning well, can I get my money back than?"
-B: "Sir, with all respect, we are a specialist shop here; we guarantee for the things we sell here."
-A: "how much is this going to cost me?"
-B: "24 kg mice comes at 7 euro and 50 eurocents.
-A: "At the shop that sells bulbs it's 1,15 euro for a lamp that has 30 burning-hours; you are really a rip off!!"
-B: "very well sir. If you are looking for that kind of modern equipment to light up your room; its your choice; but we are a specialist shop; that always cost more"
-A: "well, ok, eh, do me the 6 bags then.. and a box of pinguins for the hearth, it will be winter soon..."

What the future brings...

I have a few countries and activities on my list: China, Nepal, Tibet, Russia, Mongolia and India. In Russia i would like to do the transiberia express -- but with making stops -- and i would like to see the polar light (Aurora). In these countries i would like to travel for a long time, hoping i can get enough holiday off days then. i am also interested in Transdnjestria, a non-existing country, which could have escaped from a TinTin comic. But thats all far away. As for now i am in my room, enjying VT.

  • Intro Updated Mar 13, 2013
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ger4444

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Real Name
Ger Mennens
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Member Since
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