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GoNOMAD Writer Profiles: Gary Singhgary-singh

Gary Singh has been a staff writer for Metro Newspaper for eight years. As a professional journalist, Gary has written on a wide variety of subjects: artificial life, skateboarding, vampires, neurofeedback, Big Bird, soccer, local politics, information technology and more. He also authors the widely-read Silicon Alleys column.

Stories and photos by Gary Singh:
Colossal Olmec head at the Tijuana Cultural Center. Olmec head at Tijuana Cultural Center, Mexico. photos by Gary Singh.

Baja California, Mexico: Nothing to Worry About

I probably didn’t need five mayors to tell me that Baja California presented no threat to American tourists, since it was obviously a safe place to haunt, but that’s exactly what transpired during a rainy weekend south of the border.


Since scribes of a more sensationalistic ilk have recast drug cartel violence as if it regularly explodes on street corners everywhere, many tourists have simply stopped visiting Baja. As a result, the five mayors felt compelled to make their cases over the course of a few days.

Sure, Tijuana includes a few dangerous neighborhoods, just like any city of two million people. And like anywhere, if one goes looking for trouble, it usually appears. If one rolls with the troublemakers, then, well, guess what happens? Read more...Colossal Olmec head at Tijuana Cultural Center. photos by Gary Singh.Collosal Olmec head at Tijuana Cultural Center. photos by Gary Singh.

Hawaii's Big Island: Somewhere Between East and West

On the Island of Hawai'i, also known as the Big Island, the Mauna Kea Access Road slithers its way past the visitor’s station and up to a dozen observatories at 13,790 feet above sea level. Fourteen of us are comfortably crammed in a four-wheel-drive shuttle piloted by Jon Knight of Hawaii Forest & Trail.

As we weave and bob our way up the lava-shrouded mountain — it resembles the moon, they all say — our driver, to break the ice, poses a question to each of us.

“What is your passion in life?” Jon asks from behind the wheel.

One of the Japanese female tourists at the back of the van says, “Bon Jovi,” stretching out the end, so it sounds like “Bon Joveeeeeeeee.” Read more...

 harbor

The skyline of the Media Harbor.

The harbor in Dusseldorf, GermanyThe harbor in Dusseldorf, GermanyDüsseldorf: A Beautifully Incongruous Hodgepodge of Old and New

“Eighty percent of Düsseldorf was destroyed during the war,” explains Renate Morton as she escorts me through a supreme navigation of the city streets. A tiny firecracker of a personality, Morten says she’s been around for a long time.

Although she spent years living in both England and South America, she is Düsseldorf’s resident woman-about-town. A walking encyclopedia, Renate is on familiar terms with every single crack in the pavement and every juicy tidbit behind every new development project. She knows both old and new.

As we embark on a walking voyage, historical facts gradually emerge like bubbles in a boiling pot of water. Renate tells me that Claudia Schiffer was discovered in a nightclub in Düsseldorf. I learn that Düsseldorf has Europe’s largest Japanese population. She spills the goods on statues, galleries and herbal liqueurs. Her enthusiasm is infectious. Read more...


Berlin: Music Tour Highlights Rock & Roll Milestones

Berlin has the strange ability to make you write only the important things – anything else you don’t mention. -- David Bowie

Right across the plaza from Berlin’s unwavering symbol, The Brandenburg Gate, one finds the Hotel Adlon, a bastion of celebrity gossip. It is here that I meet Thilo Schmied, a veritable connoisseur of Berlin’s rock music history.

After we shake hands on the sidewalk, he points up to a third floor window of the Adlon and informs me that said locale is where Michael Jackson notoriously dangled his baby out the window for all to see.

Thus begins the Fritz Musictour of Berlin. Sponsored by Fritz Radio and with Thilo as the passionate sound engineer-turned-guide, various mythologies come to life behind seemingly nondescript buildings and windows throughout the city. Read more...

 

A cafe once frequented by David Bowie in Berlin.A cafe once frequented by David Bowie in Berlin.Spooky Switzerland: Alien Nightmares and Mystical Savages
.
gigerInside the Giger bar, Switzerland.

Unlike some tourists, when I contemplate Switzerland, I don’t think of army knives, watches, the alps or secret bank accounts. I think of the late psychologist Carl Jung writing about alchemy — transmuting base metals into gold as a metaphor for personal and psychological transformation.

I think of the macabre surrealist H.R. Giger, whose horrific biomechanical nighmarescapes have influenced morbid self-seekers for generations.

I have no use for standardized guides, so before my infiltration of the Swiss countryside, I landed a used copy of Richard and Iona Miller's The Modern Alchemist: A Guide to Personal Transformation, a work utilizing some Jungian concepts. Read more...

Malaysia: A Home-Stay in Kampung Pachitan

A dozen musicians sit in a semicircle on the outdoor stage, each one playing the kompang, a Malaysian hand-drum. Backed by synthesizers and a western trap set, they run through a repertoire including traditional Malay folk songs, Middle Eastern music and even Dean Martin covers.

woman clad in traditional Muslim attire belts out the lead vocals while the band rocks the accompaniment.

It is a few days after Hari Raya Aidilfitri, literally "celebration day of fasting," the Malay version of the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan. As a result, the rural community of Kampung Pachitan, population 500, is welcoming busloads of guests from nearby beach resorts, plus a few dozen travelers, like myself, who’ve decided to cast aside all Western concepts of predictability by staying with a host family in Malaysia’s homestay program. Read more...        

 
Monks with their offerings in Thailand. monks

 
Gary Singh is a freelance journalist who surfaces most often in San Jose, California.


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