Rio

I spent 5 days in Rio and am just writing this at 1am on Saturday night (Sunday morning), waiting until about 4am to go to the airport to catch a flight at 6am to Acapulco, via Panama and Mexico City… a pretty brutal, long route, but hopefully my plan of staying up all night until my flight at 6am will mean I can sleep some of the 7 hour flight from Rio to Panama… but knowing me, I probably won’t, and it’ll just be 7 hours of groggy uncomfortable ultra-boredom.

I’m definitely glad I finally made it here, but Rio wasn’t all that great, imo… here’s the rundown.

To begin with, surprisingly, the weather here in the summertime isn’t nice all the time… they actually get quite a bit of rain in the summer here, and for about half of my stay it was quite grey and rainy.

As for nightlife, a lot of websites keep talking about Rio as being the most fun, craziest place in the world for nightlife. Unless I am massively missing something, I’d have to respectfully disagree.

While it certainly is light years beyond a place like Montevideo, and even Santiago, it isn’t that great. The main touristy areas in Rio are the beach areas of Copacabana and Ipanema. I only went out two nights, on a Tuesday and a Thursday, but both nights had nothing going on except at one club, called “Help Discotheque�. The name is explanatory because the place is hurting. I wouldn’t even really call it a nightclub though, it is essentially one big whorehouse, with about 100+ girls all working in there. I tried going to numerous places I heard about on the internet, but every time I got there in a taxi it was dead, and the taxi driver, EVERY SINGLE TIME, just looked at me and said, “Help?� as though that is the only place to ever go…

Luckily a friend had passed along a tip to me from some natural born Rio de Janeironites about a place called Barra de Tijuca. Barra is A LONG WAY from the Copacabana/Ipanema area… it is about 20-30 minutes by taxi (cost approx $20) but it is worth it to go out there. First of all, it’s not touristy at all… the crowd and vibe is a lot more 20-30 something locals. Plus, as another reason to go there, it seems way more nice and beautiful out there as opposed to the semi-grungy, semi-shady (as in lots of shady people walking around) Copacabana area. I went to a place called Nuth Lounge there which is pretty cool and seems pretty happening every night. I also ate twice at a restaurant right beside it, called 021, I think. It was very good.

In general, if you want to be near the main areas, I would suggest Ipanema over Copacabana… but if you don’t mind being a bit further out, definitely go Barra de Tijuca.

About the nightlife, however, I will say that there are a lot of attractive Brazilian girls… and wow, a lot of them really have nice, but unusually large buttoxes… and they seem really proud of that here… and wow can they move when they dance… I’ve actually never even seen dancing like I’ve seen here anywhere else… I don’t even know how to explain some of it. Sometimes, when they are playing Brazilian music, the girls are moving their legs around so fast you can barely tell what they are doing, it looks like a blur… but they don’t move the top part of their body that much. It is sorta the exact opposite of another unusual dance that mainland Chinese girls do, where they shake their head around at unimaginable speeds and force without moving their legs.

One thing I do have to say about the whole area though is WOW, what phenomenal natural surroundings. I’ve seen pictures and they all look pretty stunning, but it is amazing how high, and how unusually shaped and straight up, many of the hills/mountains/rocks are, and they are all over very cool looking. They put that troublemaker, Jezuz, on one of the hills which I found irritating, but other than that, very cool. The beach is quite nice, although a fair amount of garbage strewn about… I hear the beach at Ipanema is nicer and I hear that Barra is even better.

A lot of the things here, as far as nature is concerned, is very nice… like, for example, I had lunch today at a café near Copacabana. The view was of white sand beaches, very clear looking blue water, blue skies with puffy clouds and big birds that looked to be a mile or two up, just lazily circling overheard… in the restaurant a lot of people were drinking fruity drinks that were very bright, such as red and yellow colored drinks, and the restaurant had a few huge trees above the patio that would literally shower down large (like the size of your fist) yellow flowers down… while having lunch a few landed on my table… kinda neat. And at either end of the beach are huge, almost straight up rocks and lush green covered hills… it really is one of the most spectacular settings I have ever seen… it’s too bad that Copacabana is kinda grungy… if the city looked nicer, this would be outta sight… but I am sure there are spots up and down the coast with nicer looking cities (such as Barra) augmenting the natural beauty.

As for crime, I had so many people warn me to “watch out� here… and a quick look through the news showed a fair amount of gang violence here recently. But, as usual, I had no problems and didn’t see anything too out of the ordinary. There are a fair amount of ‘check stops’ around with police basically waving through every vehicle… a completely useless way of stopping whatever sort of criminal activity they are supposedly trying to stop but it makes the masses feel safer, thereby allowing the criminals (politicians) to stay in power longer, to steal and screw things up more.

My general take on Brazil, after this short stop in Rio is this: I have a feeling many, MANY parts of Brazil are a lot cooler, nicer and better than Rio… this is from what I have heard from numerous people and lots of reading. People tell me that the nightlife in Sao Paolo is way better. I also hear there are lots of cool, nice, fun coastal cities such as Florianopolis and Fortaleza and Buzios that are all supposed to be better than Rio. In actuality, upon talking to a few people who have been to Brazil, they both said to me, “Rio? Why’d you go there?� as though that would be the last place to go in Brazil…

In general, the vibe was pretty good here, but I am sad that on this trip I didn’t have time to check out many other areas of Brazil, which is a really monstrous country, in terms of geographical size and population, especially compared to any other country in South America.

So, I’ll be leaving in a few hours with a definite desire to make it back here at some point and check out many of the other cities and places here, but without any near-term plans to be back here… mostly because, just as I realized last time I was in Argentina, the southern parts of South America are a MILLION MILES from anywhere. No matter whether you come from East, West or North, you are going to have a major long journey.

And considering that none of the countries in South America really have enough interest to me to come and visit again anytime soon, it could be a long time before I am back down here.

However, I can now say and feel like I have seen most of South America, so that is good… in retrospect, I’d have to say that Brazil probably gets my top pick, even though I have only seen Rio… #2 is Argentina and #3 is Chile for me. The best part of this trip, though, is that it has helped me really make up my mind on a possible spot to stay for a while and open up a nightclub… I always had nagging thoughts that maybe Brazil was amazing and even places like Punta del Este had me very curious. But now I know that Uruguay is a definite no and Brazil could still be good, but not good enough to make me move on it right now.

I think I have finally made a decision on where I will do it… and, perhaps surprisingly, especially because I said I wanted to have a “beach bar� the location now, for sure, is going to be Bangkok. I have started looking at spots to buy/rent and existing clubs to possibly purchase… I may even have a name, “BKK�. But for the last year, as anyone who has spent anytime with me knows, whenever I am away from Bangkok all I talk about is how I miss Bangkok and how nothing is anywhere near as good as Bangkok… so now that I can cross off Brazil (at least in the near term) and the rest of South America off my list, I can focus on the place that just keeps drawing me back, Bangkok baby!

As for the “beach bar� part, after being at a hundred beaches in the last few years, I have finally realized that I don’t actually like the beach. I like being “near� the beach, but I rarely ever go to the beach. Something about the sand I just find, makes me feel dirty… So, now that I have finally realized that, I have taken the “beach� out of the beach bar plans.

Sooooo, anyway, I’ll likely spend somewhere between 4-10 days in Mexico, which I am looking forward to because I really like Mexico (In terms of the world, I’d put Thailand at #1 for me and Mexico at #2), and then will likely pass through LA on my way to Vancouver for a few days on some business things. Then, from Vancouver, likely take a flight through HK or Japan back to home sweet home, BKK.