Travel Journal Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Travel Journal

Why I Travel (A Personal Story)

suriname amsterdam

I wasn’t sure I would ever write about this but after a few decades I realized that’s the point of the story.

When I was 15, I received a phone call that would change how I viewed being alive. On a beautifully monotonous sunny summer day, I was outside with friends doing nothing worth a mention. Not a care in the world. Some of the best moments of life are those so dully blissful you would never remember them otherwise.

We would pop in and out of our apartments like feral badgers to get water, food, and cool off for a moment before heading back into the wild. On one such water trip, a family member casually mentioned getting a phone call. A friend of a parent had died, there might be a funeral, and maybe I would want to go. Details at this point were murky. I vividly remember an internal monologue about why should I care about some old people? Old people died. Who cares? I had no interest in going to a funeral. There were more important things on my schedule like sitting outside and doing nothing. Life was for me or any perception of it, casually predictable.

When the next phone call came in, it was for me. Again, old people died. Not close friends barely in their 20s at least I thought, until that call. For most of us, death is something distant – a future event that happens at the “end”. End of how we roughly sketch our lives to look like from an early age. I went to the funeral confused as I slowly came to the realization that our existence begins and ends randomly.

This death was not a grand assassination like in the Godfather or some heroic sacrifice to save people from a burning building. Hey, we all draw our stories differently. Maybe yours is in a rocking chair surrounded by loved ones or running through a tomato garden chasing grand kids. But I’m afraid to tell you we don’t get to write the final chapter.

An accident. The details are unimportant but that’s the mundane of it. People cried at the funeral. In Islamic tradition you’re placed in a white sheet and buried. You can see the outline of the body under the cloth as people carry you to a hole in the ground. It is not glamorous or spiritual nor is it special. I wish it were but that day I learned it won’t be when I die. Or when you die. It happens and then you become a series of biological processes until eventually, there’s nothing left to decay. The end.

You don’t get to control that part of the story but if you’re one of the lucky ones – you have some control over the middle parts. Since that day, I have told myself I might die today, every morning. Because dying is not something we’re guaranteed at age 80 or 90 and I’m sure even then, I’ll want a few more years. Ceasing to exist can happen at any moment and for any number of stupid reasons.


Some people are so scared of dying that it prevents them from living. Any day could be our last and I try to remember that as much as I can. There have been stretches I’ve forgotten that fact and it’s often when I’m least happy. So, I try to live and do and see as much as I can while I’m here and capable. (Make no mistake though, I’m quite apt at focusing on self-indulgence at the expense of more important things like people – hey, we’re all a work in progress.)

Speaking of people, be kind to them and understand where they come from. Don’t be mean, bring people up, don’t put them down. Make a small positive impact on someone they might pass along to someone else. It’s how I honor my friend – by doing all the things she didn’t get to do and living the lessons I didn’t know I was learning. I never got to say how much of a big sister she was to me. I was shy and nerdy (not much change there) but learned to be bolder and make little adventures where you can. Enjoy life. Like I said, small positive impacts.

When I die, nobody should come to the funeral and be able to say he didn’t have a good life. Feel free to use my skull as a soccer ball for all I care. There should be a party for me and I hope for you too. A party to say that you, despite all the bullshit the world throws at you – and there is a heaping galactic ton of it – were able to make the most of existence.

Your life may stop at 22, 43, or who knows when. It’s kind of funny when you think about it, just how absurd this all is. You are here and then you are not. An infinite amount of time passed before you were born and much longer will pass after you die. So if you are fortunate enough to be here for a while with the rest of us, have fun when possible. Make little adventures where you can. If all of history can pass and every atom since then bumping into one another can lead you to reading this, if that infinitesimally small collection of events got you here? Well, then you shouldn’t think anything you can dream up is impossible.

I once read about a culture who believes you don’t die as long as you’re remembered in the memories of other people. So strive to have a long existence. Life is contagious. Live it and it shares itself with others.

Mint Mobile’s Data Usage Might Be Confusing Your Phone

A few months ago when I reviewed Mint Mobile, a popular pay-as-you-go cellular service in the United States, I noted there was some lost data. Meaning that the amount of cellular data usage from my phone once Mint was activated skyrocketed, resulting in a lot of unexplained data usage.

It’s a mystery I’ve been testing and investigating since it’s come up and I’ve got some answers but now a few more questions. Here’s the latest.

Gigabytes On Up

Prior to using Mint Mobile, I was averaging about 2.5-3 Gigabytes of cellular data usage a month. Primarily tied to WiFi in most cases, I’m not a heavy user. So it made sense to get a $15 a month 4GB plan to test on for a minimum 3 month term. Yet a week or two into my plan though I hit that data limit and got a notification I’d have to purchase more data – so I got 5 GB for an $15 extra dollars. And then 10 days later, guess what? The same thing happened.


In fact this happened each month so at the next 3 month interval, I went with a 10 GB plan. Same thing, went over my data limits, had to buy more. Then I went with the unlimited plan and well, that’s when things got weird.

Looking For Leaks

Prior to this I had tried to find if there was some data leak on my phone. I made sure WiFi Assist was off on my iPhone, a feature which uses cellular data when you’re on a weak WiFi connection. iCloud and iCloud Drive were off too, which they always are. Apps were checked for data consumption and my phone was left in airplane mode for days at a time.

Still, I went from averaging 3 GB a month, getting Mint Mobile, then averaging 15 GB or more a month. That is until I switched to an unlimited plan.

No Records

I reached out to Mint Mobile to see if they could share a history of my data usage over the months but they replied that since they’re a prepaid service, they don’t have such records. If that’s true, it would make it very difficult, if there was some sort of data issue, for Mint Mobile to investigate it since they wouldn’t have any records to go back and check.

Whether they have the information but don’t share it, or could access such records but don’t have the data parsed, or just don’t keep such records at all, in all 3 cases that’s a bad look. It means as a consumer you have to track all of your data usage by month and record it. Should there be a potential issue you noticed last month, well Mint Mobile wouldn’t be able to help you much since they can’t verify or cross reference the data usage you’re seeing from your phone to any records on their side.

And here we are. So far this month I’ve used a small amount of data and am wondering, what will happen when I go back to a 4GB plan or 10GB? We’ll see and I’ll update you in a few weeks with those results.

Asking Demonstrators Why They Attended The Million MAGA March

The Million MAGA “Make America Great Again” March didn’t draw a million people to Washington D.C. but it did bring with it thousands who show the divide in the United States. Compared to the widespread party D.C. turned into after the election was called for Joe Biden, MAGA marchers were a demonstration of the ideological contrast in the nation.

I walked through the crowds, asking why people were attending the MAGA March – you can hear their replies in the video above. Since I published that video the reactions have been as divisive as the march itself. Some were upset that I didn’t counter the claims or add an opposing opinion.

I may go more in depth into the controversy on an upcoming foXoMad Podcast episode but these are pro-Trump supporters in their own words. They speak for themselves but depending on who’s listening it’s either disturbing or encouraging; a division which ultimately surprised me. It’s worth noting the demonstrators were more diverse than I expected, defiant, and as the evening wore on some turned to violence.

Some of you may have rather I not have made this video. Despite what many in the crowd think, on January 20th Donald Trump will no longer be president yet the march is a reminder that 72 million voted for him. A significant percentage of whom believe were it not for an election conspiracy Trump would have won a second term.

Here’s The Party Washington DC Turned Into After Election Called For Biden

One week ago on election night around the White House the initial energy waned as the night wore on and no clear result in sight. A few days later on Saturday late morning, Pennsylvania’s vote count made Joe Biden president-elect and not long after Washington D.C. erupted into a massive party.

There were groups of people on every block dancing to music, random cheers of joy, air horns, and what was the most jubilant I’ve seen a city… for any reason. I was there and you should watch the video here to catch a glimpse of the atmosphere.

It’s been a busy week filming and for those of you who want a bit more behind the scenes of what it was like interviewing, editing through the night, and things that didn’t make it on film – check out the latest episode of the foXnoMad Podcast.

What It Was Like On Election Night 2020 In Washington D.C.

A few hours before the polls closed on the east coast of the United States on November 3rd hundreds of people gathered in front of the White House. The combination of a Black Lives Matter demonstration plus the U.S. election turned the atmosphere from party to protest, with people there for all the reasons in between.

I spoke with a few of them throughout the night to hear what brought them to Black Live Matter Plaza in front of the White House’s security fences. You can watch their stories in the video here.

What It’s Like Visiting A Gun Show In America

There are over 60 gun shows in the United States over a given weekend and I attended one that takes place right outside of Washington D.C. The Nation’s Gun Show is a large expo where people can purchase firearms but there’s a lot more than just weapons which keeps bringing people back.

You can see my experience in the video above or read on.

Pandemic Interest

Gun sales have surged since the coronavirus pandemic and every state can regulate gun shows based on their individual mandates. In Virginia, where The Nation’s Gun Show takes place, masks were mandatory indoors and most in line outside were wearing them. Signs reminding people to social distance were conspicuous as were those saying “Enter At Your Own Risk” due to Covid-19.

the nation's gun show

The large halls inside the Dulles Expo Center gave people plenty of space when walking around – the show was busy but not crowded – but most of the congregating was around the gun vendor tables. In particular, around the semi-automatic gun vendor tables.

Looking Around

None of the guns were loaded – vendors or otherwise; there were signs stating not to bring loaded firearms inside – but a few visitors wearing bulletproof vests with rifles strapped to their backs. A bit unnerving at first if you’re not used to being around so many guns but after a short while that feeling wears off. Vendors (notably younger ones) taking apart guns for assembly demonstrations, answering questions about ranges, use, gun quarks… all of what you might expect at a gun show.

the nation's gun show

Surrounding that though were booths explaining the gun laws in various states, as well the regulations for Washington D.C. Cards were handed out in line explaining the gun laws in Virginia, where you can carry a gun, open-carry, concealed, what those terms mean.

Gun Culture

Looking back at you around the gun show are soldiers from the paintings of Civil War battles, America’s Founding Fathers with quotes about freedom and liberty underneath their portraits. As you move around the show floor with the crackle of tasers being demonstrated in the background, vendors come up and ask if you’re registered to vote.

The Republican banners around the voter registration booths, not to mention plentiful Donald Trump banners around, make it obvious who most of the vendors are supporting in any given election. After registering to vote, you can vote for whoever you want in an election, but the idea is to get as many people voting as possible. At The Nation’s Gun Show though, the biggest barrier to voting in the U.S. – registration – is made easy and extremely likely to mean a vote for a Republican candidate.

Revisiting The Show

The Nation’s Gun Show is a large 3 day event but it’s not all gun sales keeping it from recurring once a month on average. There’s a lot more than weapons on a sale here, it’s a community not too unlike other forms of fandom. Guns might get you through the door the first time but everything surrounding them back over and over again.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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