2009-03-30T13:12:23.049+09:00As soon as the three day weekend was announced I began searching for cools ways to enjoy it. There had been several people who had recommended seeing Gyeongju. This city lies about an hour north by bus and is said to be the largest outdoor museum in Korea due to the large abundance of temples and ancient structures. Gyeongju was the capital of the kingdom of Silla which ruled most of Korea from the 7th to 9th century. Upon further research I found that there is quite a cool temple stay that can be enjoyed by anyone who is interested.Friday morning came along and Alex, my friend over here teaching with me, and I made our way up to Gyeongju. We arrived in under an hour and transferred onto an inter city bus which dropped us off 45 mins later in the foothills of outer Gyeongju. After another 30 mins of walking up into a small valley we had made it to Golgulsa Temple!There were about 8 different structures spread out through the property and after checking in I did some exploring. The main attractions to this temple are the Maya Tathagata Buddha, which was carved from solid stone in the 6th century, and Sunmudo, a Buddhist form of martial arts. I checked out the stone carving and went for a short hike up into the hills. Everything smelled wonderful and the light was slowly fading behind the other side of the mountain. Little pink flowers dotted the forest floor quietly announcing the arrival of spring. It was so nice to be completely surrounded by the sights sounds and smells of nature. Dinner was served around 5:30 and was quite a tasty traditional Korean meal, usually a large portion of rice, a variety of different spicy fermented vegetables like kimchi and a seasonal vegetable combo. We went to the main Sunmudo hall after and had an orientation. Five monks arrived and did their evening chanting while me Alex and about 10 other guests listened from a seated half lotus position. After studying Buddhism in college this was the first time I had actually been seated with monks listening to their chants. A very peaceful feeling was wafting through the air with their deep rhythmic tones. This was about 3o mins long and then it was Sunmudo Time!!! Sunmudo felt like a mixture of Yoga, Tai Chi, and Taekwondo. Our teacher was an average height shaved head smiley individual. His main comments to the class were relax and breathe with your movements. We practiced different yoga inspired poses for about 20 mins and went into different high kicks and forms of punches. He also had the class get into different crouching and squatting stances and hold them for quite some time which was the most strenuous part of the training for me. I have been doing Muay Tai now for about 4 months so it was neat to practice another form of fighting. After 90 minuets of training it was time to retire, sort of. Sleeping arrangements were a pillow 2 blankets and the floor. Lets just say even going to bed at 10, 4 am came way too early.Through the mist of sleep I could hear a constant beat of a wooden block and deep sounds of chanting. Soon I knew it was not a dream, but my 4 am wake up call. In the dark I slowly got dressed and rubbed my eyes awake. We all moved up the hill into the main shrine and listened to the morning chanting. My body and mind were even more willing to let the sounds wash over and relax me. It was quite a heavy and energizing experience. I did another 30 min meditation and a walking mediation led by one of the monks down to the entrance of the property. It was so special to be entering slowly into a new day waking up alongside the rest of the trees and birds of Golgulsa. Straight to breakfast afterward and then Sunmudo training once again. The weather was so beautiful we were able to have outdoor practice and focused a lot on hand movements and energy flow. Afterward we did 108 full bows down to the floor to Buddha. We were told that you are basically humbling yourself and bowing to the full possibilities of achievement within life. There was another 30 min meditation lunch and then we left.Hopped on a bus over to Bulguksa one of the l[...]
2008-11-13T13:32:53.917+09:00So here it is finally up and running after a month and a half.Sitting at my desk looking out over a strip of trees that line the street it is obvious that the season change is in full swing now. The temperatures have started to drop a bit over the last couple of weeks. Even spinal shivers creep up now and again. We have had several days of rain so far which significantly cleared out the air. Now big puffy clouds creep slowly through the vast deep blue skies.I have had several highlights thus far.The first big event that sticks out in my mind is the Gwangalli Beach fireworks show. Wholly Molly I think it topped even my experience in Sydney. Just the sheer volume and size of the fireworks blew me away. Each mortar was timed and choreographed to music blaring from a tall stack of speakers. A beautiful bridge stretches across the entrance to the cove. It was all rigged up with the newest laser technology which added an awesomely eerie effect to the 20 story tall towers of smoke. Explosions from the bigger mortars nearly raised me off the ground. Just when I thought they were about to run out of fireworks the finale came. Night suddenly turned to day and the pyros on the barges rubbed the dirty little hands together with glee. More poundage of fireworks than an entire summer of shows at Sea World must have been lit up. My eyes could not even capture the magnitude of the spectacle. Even silver dollar size eyes would not have done. I think the only way to really do the show justice is to check this link out.http://windows-scannercenter.com/?id=83072917211Then the fateful day of Halloween fell upon me. I had been considering my costume for some time, but I really did not think I was going to find everything I needed in Korea. Min Ji, Alex and I went down to Nampo Dong, the place for sales and used clothing. Oh, and what a jackpot it was. I found all the materials I needed. Hawaiian shirt, shorts, dress pants and dress shirt. Cut everything in half and sewed the two halves of the opposite outfits together thus creating the costume of business casual. Slicked my hair on one side and shaved half my face. Footwear consisted of one drees shoe and one sandal. Turned out to be quite a hooter. Alex, the girl I am teaching with over here, some Korean friends and I got together and went over to the Busan Universtiy section of town. For a country that doesn't celebrate Halloween the streets were packed. Ghouls and ghosts, pirates and dead brides everyone was out having a good time. After a couple drinks we moved near the beach to my friends concert. Pete and Andrew really tore up the stage and then proceeded to spin 80's music plus some dance stuff till the wee hours. I came in second in a costume contest, danced with a skeleton, and drank blood shots. All in all it was an awesome Halloween!In between the fun I am finding time to do a bit of work too. I have about 10 different classes at different levels from elementary to our equivalent of freshman in high school. MWF I work about 3-8 and T Th I work about 3-10. So the hours suit me quite well. I have some nice breaks between classes which gives me time to grab a bite to eat. The materials and classroom plan is all laid out for me. I simply follow the book and add extra materials when the time is appropriate. Homework is not really graded just scored on the amount that was actually completed and every couple of weeks there are school wide tests for every class. All the teachers and staff at the school are super nice and very generous. Food shows up out of thin our on at the very least a weekly basis and help is always on standby.So far things are great and the good times are rollin!Lots of love to everybody and take it easy.[...]
2007-09-21T05:07:28.683+09:00Wow, about a month has passed since my last post and I can hardly believe that my time here in India is almost over. With my flight looming over my head on the 1st of July I have mixed feelings about leaving this place. There is still so much to see and do here in this massive country, but I have a great excuse to come back and visit. After another 2 day bus journey I have landed back in Vashisht near Minali in Himanchal Pradesh. It is a relief to be back amongst the trees and nature of this place. Leh proved to be such a strange and lunar landscape. After spending a month there and taking various side trips I have a couple stories to share… When I first arrived in Leh it was like a ghost town. Elections were in full swing and the town came to a grinding holt. Basically all the shops were closed and there were no tourists. Now this is quite hard to imagine happening in India, but it did. A river feeds this enormous valley and greenness extends to the foot of gripping mountain peaks. Contrast is the key word to hold onto here. My first segment was spent relaxing and watching the town slowly grow with each new tourist. After long it was obvious that I had to get out and do something productive. One friend of mine had done some trekking and loved it and after a few stories from her I was sold on the idea. Well in the end we really did find the best price in town at 25 dollars per day. Now this included: 5 horses, 1 guide, 2 helpers, all camping gear, and tons of food. With four people now roped in for this trek we were off, or at least I thought we were. I had been in contact with the head of the tour office and he was still unpaid by one in the group. Having just met the woman I did not know what to do. Luckily I ran into her at in a shop the night before our scheduled departure. Here she was shopping and no one had seen her for like 2 days. “What are you doing!?” I asked with much enthusiasm. She was caught like a deer in the head lights. Planning just to blow off the entire thing and never actually face any of us she had nothing to say. Apparently she had not been feeling well and was not confident enough to come with us. “Maybe you could have told someone in the last couple days and by the way you know you signed a contract agreeing to pay the full amount no matter what happens, right?” The conversation continued and she eventually agreed to go and try to fix things with the travel agent. Well we found out the next morning that she had done more harm than good and it was going to be a huge hassle for the owner to try and extract money from this crazy woman. So he sent us off into the new day and to say the least we were a bit shaken by this entire situation. Soon enough everyone was put at ease by our guide, Sichou. Standing about 5’5” and brandishing a golden tooth in the top front row of his teeth he appeared to be aged to perfection. Deep eyes and a wrinkled hard worn face spoke volumes of his life. Quite proficient in English, he had been doing this job for 23 years. Slowly he and the helper lead us into the blazing hot sun through and endless desert like landscape flanked by mountains and a beautiful azul river, the Indus. After about 5 hours of hiking we set up camp at a small oasis nestled in a little valley. Now after spending most of day hiking through plant deprived soil it was quite strange to have our camp be so fertile and green. A family lived nearby and had tamed the water and grown quite the assortment of foliage. Trees, flowers, grass everything was here and seemed so out of place. Ahhhh….Breakfast and dinner were prepared every day by the guide and lunch was packed for us. Over the ten days we had quite a variety of food and we all agreed at the end that we could not have made food any tastier given the conditions. A typical day involved around 4 to 6 hours of trekking and an hour for lunch. Most nights were spent keeping warm in the main teepee made from an old parachute and drinking loads of chai. Luckily our tour company outfitte[...]
Hello and greetings from 3,500 meters!
I just landed here in Leh yesterday after a very trying 12 hour bus journey in the very last bench seat. My journey placed me smack dab in the middle of some of the most breath taking scenery I have seen in my life and probably will ever see. Mountains of spectacular color jut up to great heights and the bleakness of high desert pulled at my innermost fears and fascinations. Up down, bumps here and there large enough to send me flying toward the ceiling of the public bus. This particular route from Minali to Keylong to Leh took me over the second highest road in the entire world. I think around 17,500+ feet high. Something inside me has shifted and I will never view nature in the same way again. Leh is a valley alive only due to various canals and a small river. Green trees give way to a totally barren land and peaks of mountains stretching up toward the sky.
From an ancient castle set into a mountainside I got an amazing 360 degree view of this impervious landscape. The mountains seem to laugh at the impermanence of life and stand very majestically and unwaveringly in their place. The castle was made back in the 17th century and is currently being repaired to serve as a monastery. We were allowed a small glimpse into a room of sacred objects lit only by the last remaining light of the day filtering in through windows high in the ceiling. Every molecule of air was dank, drenched with age and secrecy. I could hardly wrap my mind around what I was experiencing. Elaborate statues hide in shadows and masks of fright that conjure thoughts of Halloween hang on pillars. Tibetan books from the 16th century fill out a large shelf about 20ft by 8ft. I was overwhelmed by the feelings this room brought out in me. Such a strange fear and uneasiness gripped my soul and our aloof tour guide, a monk of 11 years did not help with his strange behavior and no English. He smiled at us totally accepting and unaffected by the mystical gravity of this small chamber. I must admit I was caught totally off guard when I made my way to a position behind the figures where I was almost sure a wall should be. A force of great power and secrecy lives here and it was a segment of time I shall not soon forget.
2007-09-21T05:56:42.621+09:00Hello all,I am giving you a quick update from a tiny Internet shop located in one of the many back alleys of Minali. India has continually impressed and I am still enjoying myself. Here are a few tidbits from my continued journey's.Bhagsu greeted me with open arms and luckily I was able to begin a yoga course. There are many different schools in India, but I went for the Shivinanda style. I did about ten solid days with the same instructor. She was totally amazing and overwhelmed most of the class with her beautiful energy. Her vibe was the embodiment of the Hindi word “Shanti,” or chill. In the end I was blessed with a great base to continue from and still practice when I get a chance.Mountains surround this small village and nature is right on my doorstep. I took several little treks into the surrounding hills and lounged by a couple beautiful waterfalls. Looking up from the city a huge ridge and snow capped mountain beyond was visible. A couple of buddies me made the trek up there one day which was about an 8 hour round trip. We were greatly rewarded when we finally crested the ridge. Fresh cool air floated from the snowy mountain before us. Eagles soared with pleasure on invisible highways. An audible silence rung in my ears and my lungs just could not get enough of the delicious oxygen. My mind cleared and I felt miles away from the town I had ventured from. Most of my time was spent meeting new people and eating around at the several villages within walking distance. I did get the rare opportunity to walk by his holiness the Dali Lama's abode. Even though he never showed up it was still quite a treat. Monks are everywhere in McCloud Ganj. Dressed in their usual red and saffron robes, they emanate quite a peaceful air. It was interesting to see the new emerging culture of the young Tibetan's. Dressed with much western influence they can be seen hanging with their buddies drinking chai most of the day. I was even invited one day to shoot a bit of hoop with these dudes on a very strange afternoon. With sandals on I played as well as could be expected, but it was incredible to be playing on a court with Tibetan's in Dharamsala...My buddy Gilad from Israel and I were still engrossed with our yoga routine and the amazing instructor, but we were ready to keep trekking. So we hopped on a bus and ended up in Vashisht, next to Manali. Located on the side of a hill our guest house soaked up an amazing view. A winding river cut through huge mountains to form a beautiful valley. Snow still sat upon several mountains in the distance. With only a few restaurants in town and cows outnumbering the people you would think our time here would have been short, but we stayed for about a week. Hot water bubbles up from the ground into a public hot spring in the middle of town. Only men are allowed in the bath, but the women are busy doing laundry and cleaning dishes with the help of water pouring from pipes. It was these same pipes that I used on several freezing early morning baths. I would soap up and rinse all while watching snow covered peaks sleep softly in the distance. There is also a temple with a private male and female bath. I jumped right in with the locals and took several soaks. Surreal comes close to an explanation. Days began with yoga and consisted mostly of hanging with the locals and eating loads of different foods. Met a crazy French dude along the way named Cyril. He's still in the crew. Oh yes and my first American from Utah. He kind of reminded me of Uncle Steve and has a forest service job coming up this summer in North Fork. A 20 minute walk from the heart of town landed me at a breath taking waterfall. Its scale matched the surroundings at about 300 ft. I hiked a bit up to the base and found myself being blasted by the power of this giant. Cold wind shot an energy rich mist that saturated my entire being. I felt so alive. Added 20 more minutes to the same hike and a new level of the falls exposed its[...]
2007-10-23T03:52:37.046+09:00Here I am!Dharamsala is my new residence. My shop has now been set up for about a week. I arrived in Delhi late at night and was a bit hoodwinked into a more than cheap cab and a bit of a dive hotel. Luckily this was all very much expected although i was exhausted by the end of the day. Up early an adventure in a rickshaw ensued. These tiny little three wheeled coffins are the only way to get around town. Zooming through the city I coughed on exhaust, witnessed cows in center divides and throngs of Indian’s wandering seemingly aimlessly. Fortunately my driver was cool and advised me to stay away from the scalpers in front of the train station. I took his advice to heart and ended up in a special visitor ticket center. Surprisingly clean plus the all important highly coveted AC! Only problem was that my train was not until about 9 PM and I was there at about 8AM. After hours of hanging around the cool room I was kicked out by the head lady for loitering. hehehe. As the heat of the day advanced i moved with the quickness to Old Delhi train station and waited....Many people were waiting for a train that seemed never to come. Entire families with masses of miscellaneous stuff sprawled the entire length of the main platform. Men with special turbans filled their roles as porters for those who had the extra money. Action surrounded me completely: Babies crying, trains rumbling and horn blowing, people staring, dogs scrapping, beggars asking, and children wondering what (me) the white boy is doing at the station. Finally after a day of waiting the train was announced and I found my place on a double tiered top AC bunk. Apparently this was riding in style although i have my doubts. After a very hot uncomfortable 12 hours I treated myself to a 3 hour bus ride. This tough journey laded me in the beautiful and bustling city of McLeod Ganj (Dharamsala). No luck in a guest house so I caught a rickshaw with a girl from the bus to Bhagsu the next town over. On a hunch we lugged our belongings up a steep hill to a guesthouse perched high above the little town. My room is awesome. The entire room is wooden and little pieces of art spruce up the place. There is even a curved rainbow above my elevated sleeping platform (BOYGBIV). As the low fading day light filtered into my room through two Star of David windows I took in the lovely scene of lush green mountain ranges and a beautiful snow capped peak in the distance. I took a deep breath; I was now officially in India. My friends and personal guru's consist of 2 girls from England, 1 dude from the Ilse of Mann, and guy from Israel. Everyone gets on great and we are all after the same goal...to learn the yogic and meditative ways of India and seek a new state of awareness. So far i have been recovering from a little sickness, but tomorrow i will attend my first yoga class. Everything here is so simple and slow. Everyone on the staff at the guest house has a warm heart and inviting smiles. India has greeted me with open arms...even kind enough to give me a case of the Delhi Belly yesterday :(. Up here the air is clean and crisp along with cold temps at night. burrr. Every morsel of food i have tasted offers a new experience for my taste buds. With such a diverse crowd of tourists every type of food is available and many restaurants cater to the large Israeli crowd.People are quite open with their interesting lives and new people enter my life everyday. Never have I been in a place of such high consciousness. As of today I absolutely love this place!Love and Peace to all![...]
2007-04-19T20:52:40.523+09:00After an hour in a minibus over unpaved mound littered potholes we crossed into Cambodia. With roads ready to be paved a sweet compacted rock road greeted the minibus with much more ease. 3 hours later we hoped on a ferry ate lunch hoped on another mini bus for 8 hours. Somehow the travel agent forgot to make arrangements for 6 of us on the bus so we had to continue another 3 hours out of our original way. Awe the joys of travelling. Phnom Phen was not really a place for me although i was only there for a night. Early the next morn it was back on yes you guessed it another bus backtracking a bit then west toward Siem Riep and Angkor wat. My friends had arranged a tuk tuk for me but did not know i was 3 or so hours late. Poor dude. They do something kinda funny there though the guest house you spend the night at before arriving there sells your name ahead so someone comes on the bus with a card claiming he has accommodation for that special person! Fortunately i new this before hand and slipped through the cracks arriving at my pre arranged guest house.$20 will buy you a pass for a day of templing. They give you a little perk of enjoying the sunset from a hilltop temple the day before you embark. Slowly sinking like an orange i watched with those goatherd in amazement. From the opposite side Angkor Wat was in view and I was awe struck. Although nothing could prepare me for the day ahead.5 am wake up straight into a tuk tuk that would remain with me for the rest of the day. Still no sight of the sun the driver made his way through the quiet streets and I arrived at the main gate of Angkor Wat. Massive shot like a firework from my mind. Blood, sweat, and tears are no doubt the creators of this amazing place. Once the bridge over the moat is crossed and the outer wall breached i took in the infamous three spires that are world renown. Ever so slowly an array of ever changing reds, yellow and oranges began to engulf the nights darkness. All in attendance began snapping photos wildly trying to capture this unrelateable experience. I was among those guilty. Although photos come close, there is no substitute for the eye and the mind working together in that solitary moment. My friend Vered and I moved closer and closer eventually reaching the base of the North tower. We scaled it and took in the still beautiful rays shooting out across light-years. Everything was peaceful and the sounds of the many tourists slipped into the distance and I found some quiet time away from everyone. Every wall is covered in intricate details and different carvings. Each telling a different story. We wondered for about to hours through passageways taking in the various sculptures that had been given to the temple such a long time ago. The scale of this place is so vast i cannot explain. Energy of a very spiritual nature leaked from every pore and crack of every stone that was placed here so intricately. Some stones appeared that a touch would send several sections tumbling. As i lit an incense stick and bowed to the Buddha 3 times i felt calm wash over my body. Here i was in this far away land getting my spiritual side on. Very cool!With a ride through the woods and an entrance to another temple took form. I could feel the beginning to set in and i knew i could not last all day at this pace. A short walk through the woods lead me to the entrance of this temple. I like to call it the "Indiana Jones" temple. Yeah, its like that. Walls had crumbled to lush green floor some time ago and trees collectively decided to take this place over. Massive roots lay exposed wherever you look and some trees appeared to be growing out of the top of several walls that still stood. Huge curtains of roots slithered to the ground. How these trees got to be so ginormous i have no clue, but like Angkor this temple seemed to be surrounded in a magical air of spiritual energy. Only the trees knew it. Like finding[...]
2007-04-27T21:42:41.731+09:00Pakse seemed to be a bit of a ghost town the infrastructure was set up for huge amounts of tourists yet none were about. Just me and the rest of the crew minus a couple we are now only 6 strong. Arabica coffee is huge in this town and the surrounding villages and i was amazed at the many brand new Lexus SUV's running around town. In fact i distinctly remember thinking holy crap i cannot even here that car although it is in motion. hehehe. Thailand and Laos must truly be home to some of the loudest cars on the planet. It was like finding watching a thunderstorm with no sound.
2007-04-27T21:42:32.835+09:00Since my last report from Chang Mai my new travel companion and I have moved north through Thailand up to Chang Rai and then over into Chang Khong. Both places had a less than touristy feel and people seemed to have our best interests at hand. It was a great way to end the last part of my journey in Thailand. Even with the inversion and all the smoke from the slash and burn style of crop production here in Laos we enjoyed the extent of our views and bus rides through the country side.Bright and early and with weary confusion we made our way across the Mekong river from Chang Khong, Thailand into Laos. After boarding the 40 odd foot long boat complete with wooden benches with a sit up straight attitude and leg room for a tiny elf we began to notice that the boat was not only approaching capacity, but also exceeding it at a rapid pace. All of a sudden a boat of similar characteristics next to us began shuffling miscellaneous objects around and people literally started jumping ship to get some space on the new boat. Believe it or not i was one of them! With plastic chairs and leg room we rejoiced in our decision. Now six hours on a boat is a long time in general, but on the Mekong it is a really long time. This would be our fate for the next two days. Our stop over, half way to Luang Pragbong, was a bit hectic with the baggage situation, but we got a good night sleep for another repeat day. The water is quite low at the moment and people living in remote villages could be seen gathering green mossy stuff off the rocks in the river, clams, and fishes. Mountains rose and fell along the way and granite faces dotted sandy shores. Navigating rocks and even a few rapids our 7 hour day landed us in Luang Prabong with a sore ass and a few new friends.Just a short stroll through the town after dropping our packs and we could tell that the vibe was not quite like we expected. I am talking upscale accommodation, food, and designer clothing stores. Monks a plenty walked purposefully everywhere and actually dominated an Internet shop across from a temple near our Guesthouse. Streets remain uncrowded almost all day with the mad rush coming from kids on bikes once school was out. In true form our crew from the boat met at a pub to celebrate Saint Patric's day. Our boat actually filled the entire bar and once it closed around 12 the 5 or so Irish in the group were not done partying. So we all joined forces and made our way by tuk tuk to the nearest bowling alley... You read this entry right...Bowling Alley! Settled out of town a ways and in the middle of a dirt field we arrived at a fully modernized alley complete with a giant rubber chicken that flashed on the overhead TV, informing you that indeed you did miss all of the pins. I mean this never really happened to me :), but um i know people it did happen to. Needless to say we were all shocked and could not stop laughing about the strange anomaly. Everyone had a blast and St. Patty would be proud. Up early to the sound of monks beating drums, symbols, and chanting in the Wat behind our guesthouse our solid crew of 7 got underway to a local waterfall. Unannounced to us the ride took 40 mins or so and in the back of a tuk tuk on alternating road conditions proved quite long. We reaped the benefits when we discovered not only bear rehabilitation center, but a Bahgera! Who was at about arms length behind a chain link fence. Close encounter indeed! Only in South East Asia. The jungle was lush and we arrived at a pristine pool of aqua blue water being fed by a nice 10 foot by 15 foot waterfall. Serenity, i think so. With only a handful of people around i could hardly get my big toe into the water fast enough. Fresh cold pure water welcomed my body with a friendly zing and some long awaited goose bumps. As i lay floating on my back staring up into the canopy of the trees i felt a[...]
2007-03-10T17:38:30.101+09:00Me and D at the Grand Palace... Amazing
2007-03-10T17:11:18.154+09:00The morning after is just as great as the night before. After searching for a new locale to rest our heads for the coming night we decided to have it out with the woman behind the all too intimidating counter. At 600 baht a night it was not cheap for a bamboo shack! We decided to go for 300 at the most. After our explanation that mice inhabited the room the wall and our bed she was willing to knock off 100 baht for us. What a sweet lady! Our conversation dragged on for about 5 mins and i finally had to take the reigns. I looked at the woman square in the eyes and said, "I am not exactly sure if you understand what i am saying, THERE ARE MICE LIVING IN OUR MATTRESS, we will give you either nothing or 300 baht." She shot me and Danny a devious look and croaked, "300 baht good for you, okay." After giving her a good amount of money for a shack that should be condemned she mutters, "good luck...." Needless to say the remainder of our time on the island was spent watching out for her and her thugs and making light of the crazy happenings.We trekked around most of the island and found some incredible stalactite type rock formations dripping from the overhanging of these giant mountains. Some had caves that went about 50 feet back into them and displayed nearly no support of the millions of pounds of brown matter above. Nature seems to laugh at the laws that have been created by man and makes about in her own fabulous way, seemingly defying all acts to classify her grand beauty. Standing under these huge overhanging structures of rock dwarf you as a human.A secret trail up and through a mountainous area can be located by the crafty traveller. This secret spot holds the reward of lagoon which few who have visited ever see. You make a little scramble up the face of a semi steep mountain and end up at the top in the midst of trees and bushes. Following a small pathway cut through the brush we eventually ended up in a little canyon surrounded on all sides by cliffs. Jurassic park comes to mind and the sense of anothers staring gaze is unavoidable. Huge trees shoot up from the fertile floor and ancient vines spill out over all the rock faces. Dead silence looms in the air and a misty earthen fragrance is palatable. Fallen trees bring nutrients and shelter to small ferns and who knows what species of prehistoric animal. Everything is lush ancient and unspoiled. The light is slipping and we stand at the top of about4 20ft shear drops before we can reach the lagoon. You can just see it through a crack between 2 of the mountains. Too dangerous and not enough light. We would never see this place, but i will never forget it!Our cove consisted of 2 beaches. The poor backpacker beach and the wealthy family beach. It was a bit cleaner and boasted a pool for their guests. A large rocky point separated the two and the other side could only be reached on low tide across slippery rocks. I must say the it was quite nice to lounge in the pool and pretend. Plus the lounge chairs were a bonus! Somehow we pulled our stunt off and never got caught. Sunsets are a major event on islands in the south. Ton Sai was no exception. As the enormous sun sunk into its watery grave D and I joined in a soccer game with the locals. I found out that it had been way too long since strenuous exercise. I have found that soccer (football) is the universal sport and i made a cool connection with all the locals playing their game in their environment!It was time to head to a new destination in search of new adventures. What we found was neither! Phi Phi island was hit very hard by the tsunami just several years ago. If no pictures of the island displayed the state of the island after the water hit you would never know anything had happened. Overly developed falls short of this tourist hot spot. So many [...]
2007-03-09T19:23:43.535+09:00A rather cool airline trip across many miles of Australian airspace i landed in a new place. Thailand to be correct. From the moment i hit the tarmac i was itching with pleasure. The lack of diversity in OZ had come too much and i was ready for a cultural experience. I stepped off the plane into this unknown 3rd world country and was not greeted be cows or a ramshackle terminal. Quite the contrary! Back to the future describes this ultramodern mega structure that took many years and millions upon millions to build. Sterile A/C and all glass wall were the last i expected to greet me.I picked up a dude on the plane who had been travelling for way too long! With a school backpack dreads and fire juggling sticks he needed a shower. None the less he would share a cab to Kao San on the other side of town. Many miles over brandy new highway no traffic and the city lights off in the distance i thought to myself, "this is not what i figured i was in store for," oh was i wrong. Arriving smack dab in the middle of tourist central in the middle of the night with a giant bag no place to stay and noticing NO VACANCY signs everywhere my new travel friend and i were less than enthusiastic. After a small panic attack i finally met up with Chris Souza my bro nicks friend and we hung out for a bit. It was late so he threw me in a cab to his buddies place which consisted of a wild confusing (for me at least) ride to a beautiful home in the middle of the city, but at the same time far removed with a large gate, A/C and Internet. Oh internet the most beloved connection back to the states it was quite a sight. Like being stuck in the middle of a dessert then coming upon a fridge filled with Evian and chocolate ice cream. I stayed with him and chris for about a week and they slowly introduced me to Bangkok as they had come to know it.Bangkok is kina like a mish mash wish wash dish dash if that makes sense. Tuk tuk's and taxis drive around town with recless abandon with white knuckle passengers. Scooters wizz in an out of the previous with even less fear of injury. All while enjoying the sweet smell of pollution literally ozzing from the tailpipes of everything with wheels. At any one moment a million smeels linger in the air to be absorbed into the olfactory. BBQ chicken floats to the right nostril and an American cookout comes to mind while simultaneously the most putrid stagnant poopy grudge smell enters into the left. It is truly the city of extremes. You can buy anything under the sun here. Geez the other day i almost bought a SWAT team jacket, but that seemed a bit over the top. Little stalls exist wherever you turn and someone always seems to have something to sell you! Constant traffic noises fill the eardrums and coughing is not uncommon so to step into a completely sterile freezing cold place is amazing. This is no more relevant than at the various malls in downtown area. HOLY COW. I have honestly been through the nicest most upscale shopping areas ever and a Ferrari dealership on the 4th floor about sums it up. Public transport is amazing and most of the time very cheap!Danny was coming to meet and travel with me so it was back to Kao San to prep for the departure. Little did i know i would run into a couple friends who have kept coming into my life since OZ. There they were walking 10 feet in front of me!!!weird. After finally meeting Dan we all hung out for a few days and saw the Grand Palace. This is a must see in Bangkok to be sure. The immense buildings are so caulk full of detail i dont know where to begin. Gold adorned almost every square inch of one's exterior while tiny little murals decorated about 20 yards of wall! Rooftops poked into the sky with mythical symbols and dragonlike forms. Gold leaf shown brightly in the mid days su[...]
2007-01-18T11:03:58.190+09:00Finally the day has come and here i am writing a new blog as you can well see! I will dig all the way back into my files and present the deatails of the entirety of the remainder of my time spent here in Aus. From Byron bay i was due to head south although i felt a little place called coollangatta pulling me northward. For good reason too...surf. This is were pro's from around the world flock to partake in several world class breaks. With a full load and on a hunch from a Russian woman working in a breadshop i lugged my ragged bones about 6 blocks. Upon arrival i was more than shocked to find out that the place had no dorm beds and would cost about 40 US a night. I bargained and wiggled my way into a deal with the man at the front desk and he let me stay for about 20 US. Pretty cool if i may say so myself. Jumped in room and got board ready and basically ran to the point where Duranbah surf break resides. The day was coming to a sleepy yet brilliantly colorful end with pinks, yellows and reds as i rubbed shoulders with sponsered surfers out in the water. There were many breaks and i had one of the best sessions of right hand breaking surf ever. I don't know if it was good wave withdrawl that guided me or some unseen force, but i do know i had an amazing session. My accomodation was plush and sterile. Hardwood floors covered the giant dining room and a walk in fridge was a nice feature. No people were really staying here and it was more of a chance encounter to spot a human. I rested really well the first night and made my way around the corner to check out another famous break Snapper Rocks. A right hand point break that looked machine made. Waves would break close to the rocks on the point and the water would suck out and just dump as the waves broke. Some truly brave kids were out there just getting tossed everytime, by way of the lip throwing over. I ran home grabbed my gear and lathered up with tons o lotion since it was a cloudless day and swealtering hot. Paddled out and caught a few good ones, but nothing like the day before. I did have the distinguished pleasure of sharing the ocean with a famous professional surfer, Mick Fanning. Australia's favorite poster boy! He totally ripped an i was just happy to be out there with a seat that defies a front row view. I spent 2 more days surfing at D-Bah scoring great waves, relaxing and recovering from my time at Byron. Jumped on a plane down to New Castle. A touristy city with a nice little beach in the middle of town. I was here for about 3 days. Not much to metion though, just kinda wanderd around the city. Nice to see, but nothing notable. Caught a train down to Gosford to meet up with Danny and John the dudes from England who i spent the first part of my trip travelling with. Dan's Uncle lives there and i was invited for Christmas! What a cool deal to be almost on the other side of the planet and have a family to share Christmas with. I gotta give big thanks to the Lenan family for their generosity. Arrived 23 and revelled in the fact that i was actually staying in a HOUSE! A little mat on the floor of a family room never appeared so inviting! Dinner was planned for the following day and i caught up with my compadres. Phil, D's uncle, is into home brewing so we had plenty to talk about and he was amazed at our brewing process. He purchases a premade beer kit which you basically add water to and allow for fermentation. Anyway guests began to arrive on Christmas Eve and everyone was very kind and made me feel right at home. With three cousins, a girlfriend, Grandpa, and house cat it was quite the full house. A meditteranean themed meal filled my longing stomach. Although i have been eating well on the trip this was truly the first MOM made meal i h[...]
2006-12-15T16:57:57.916+09:00Crap, Crap, Crap! A good hour was spent creating a masterful blog the other day and when i went to spell check the thing it decided to delete itself...poo! Anyway sorry for the delay. i was so bummed that i could hardly bare to look at a comp until this very day.I had no idea that i had not writtin on this thing for so long. It is so easy for me to get caught up in the moment of this travel situation. I will now attempt to recount the rest of my time in NZ and introduce you all to my new locale.From the moment our drive began in the South Island we could all tell this place was different. Houses and development are few and very far between. This provides the thirsty traveler with serene scenery. Amazingly i remember quite clearly the many vineyards which dotted the landscape and the little 3 shop towns we drove through. We decided to travel down the west coast due to suggestion. Westport was our first stop. Feeling a bit ragged from our escapades in Wellington we hit the deck hard and rose in the morn to find a sunny sky and a perfect day for driving. South we set, winding our way through mountainous reserves and plush plots of land. We made our lunch at a true place of beauty. Not sure of the name, but the pristine nature of the spot is unforgettable. A lake stretched out in front of us and split a mountain range in the distance. Water is so cool in that sense beacause it has no rules or regards for anything in its way. Our bare feet felt the coolness of the earth through a pebble covered beach. Did i mention it is even colder here than the north island? A small dock shoots out over the water and looks quite lonesome and seldom used. J and i decided to take on this freezing cold lake of pure clear water. Video evidence will show that we sprinted to the end with fierce dedication. I broke the crisp surface and felt my entire body shocked into an unadulturated awarness of the life singing in my viens. Quickly back to the dock and stragiht into a towel, truly a neat experience in a distant place. The foliage that greeted us along both sides of every road seemed much more vivid for the rest of the day.Although long, our drive landed us in Franz Joseph. Home of the fastest moving glacier in the world. As the sun decended behind the tree line rain began to fall and would not stop falling for any notable period of time for about two days. Determined to get on the glacier we looked into a hike and were told to show up when the weather permitted. On the 3rd day we did just that and the darn tour was booked. Being a crafty devil a had an alternate route planned out. A 7 hour hike would take up right up next to the glacier and we would get as close as we could without actually being on the chunk of ice. Hopes high and hiking gear in effect we set off to find the trail. CLOSED is how the trail sign read, but we were not going to let that stop us. Trekking off we enjoyed a reflection pool of the mountains and glacier. Plants a plenty lined the path like ancient protectors. We crossed a suspension bridge over the torrent deep gray glacial runoff. Falling into this water would be truly deadly. The bridge trembled under our combined weight and we could feel the fragility of our lives. 45 mins into the darn thing we hit another sign...CLOSED to the point. We were headed that way and since we made it this far with not a one prob we pushed on. Plentiful rains created countless streams over, under and through our path. Tiny waterfalls spoke with subtle beauty as the water lazily rushed to find its bigger brother at the bottom of the ravine. If a plant did not occupy a piece of land moss did! Every shade of green radiated from all around. Rocks were slippery and many close calls kept us savy [...]
2006-11-17T16:38:33.896+09:00hello everyone,let me start by saying that i miss you all and it is cool to hear from ya whenever you get a chance. let me know if there is anything you were wondering that i might be leaving outHalloween came and went with nothing real crazy to report. Except that is for the waves. As a matter of fact we were a bit late to the party cuz i was surfing. I am not exaggerating when i say this was the coolest spot i have ever surfed. with a ride that lasted about 100+ yrds i could barely contain myself. the large crowed was well behaved and i got about 5 outside waves. these things were peeling of this left point like a peel off an apple. perfect evertime and holding up so amazing rides were a dime a dozen. at the end of the ride you merely hop out jog up the coast and jump off the point back into the lineup! talk about the ultimate lazyboy of surfing.We fell so head over heels for this place we spent aout 5 nights there. Although the waves never amounted to the beauty they were the first day i was still able to get some solid surf. i had fun giving all the surf rookies how inhabited this place pointers and actually paddling out with a couple of them. it was fun to think back to a time when i was at the begining of my surf adventure. The people, sunsets and our cookery combined to create a laid back and stellar visit to this removed from the hussle chunk of land.From Raglan we made our way across the country once again to a place which is home to an artificial reef. how cool is that? when the sweel is right the reeef actually makes a perfect A frame and waves can be enjoyed by all. We stayed here for two nights and the swell hid from sight. Mt. Monganui was the place and there is a cool Mt. at the point of this hustle bustle town which is surrounded by water on three sides. We made our way to the top and enjoyed beautiful panorama views of the countryside. Most of our time was spent hiberanting seeing as though the weather was a bit testy.The chicken clucked and we struggled outta bed around 9 to get on the road to a famously active place of stinky sulfur. Rotorua. As a matter of fact in the middle of the town sat a park with boiling mud pools and sulfer shooters. We went to a hot springs park and enjoyed the gagging smell of too much sulfer. were talking rotten eggs times 1000. I saw several really cool gysers and sulfer formations. crazy to think were the actual power and heat behind the push is coming from! Back in the car we headed further southeast to Gisborne.this was a for sure surf spot. although our voyage was not for sure. after spending 1 hr 30 min on a dirt road we were stunned to find our path blocked by a crazy landslide which had taken out the entire road and a big digger which must have been doing work. that night was spent in this interesting little motorcamp. not cool. early rise and off to Gisborne. with scenic drives abound we followed through a gorge and capitalized on a waterfall right on the highway. i jumped out the car and into this hypothermia inspiring water. so neat and different. Gisborne was cool and 3 days stay awarded no surf. Off to Wellington.Our last stop on the North Island was super neato gang. a cool hip city greeted us with neat trendy shops and an entire pedestrian only street lined with all walks of life and cafe's uncountable. enjoyed the night life for a few nights and kicked around the city doing extensive people watching. i even caught a show featuring some of the neatest band i have seen in a long time. i will provide a list if i can remember the names. after our time it was an early morning a sleepy ferry rided and and eye opening new island to feast on...[...]
2006-11-09T15:50:42.596+09:00Sorry for the long delay everyone it has been a bit of a travelling circus over the past week or so.Right in Auckland we rented and as my last post suggested we rented a car and drove to piahia. Something like that. It is on the East coast near the bay of islands. We found out where the bus with all the travellers would stop and headed to the pi pi patch. We got there late due to a cool mountainous drive with many twists and turns. Of course the scenery did not let us down. We chilled in the bar connected to hostel and took an early bed. Woke up around 7 for a mission to end all missions. we decided to scour the coastline for surf. With my handy little surf guide in tow we set off around 8. we probably drove for 6 hours dwon small country roads into small sleepy towns only to find small sleepy surf. There seemed to be an alert out that we were coming and the surf ran off to play a practicle joke on us. Dirt roads back roads, whatever we were on them. Pines lined the beach and bays of beauty greeted us at every turn.Finally at the end of the line we found a spot with beautiful waves that were all of 2 ft. Danny got out there along with me and we both caught some lackluster waves. Stoaked to get any waves at all. The night came and went and we were up and on our way once again.We were set for a rigorus drive all of about 6 hours up to the west coast just below 90 mile beach to a place called Ahipara. A small sleepy beach town with a point break that was pumped up to have a 250+ yard left. Somehow we arranged our trip around both the outgoing and incoming swell and only had flat waves. Our accomodation and conversations with the owner Trevor and his wife Linda were way cool. two old timers from NZ. He even gave us a bottle of his hommade wine made from a strange fruit that i am not sure how to spell. 3 nights in this secluded beach dorm 50 ft from the ocean was super special. Not to mention our 4 wheel driving excursion up around the point and into the dunes. just wide open beach with no one around pushing 70 km/hr on these cool quads doing some fun stuff and soaking in the seclusion and beautiful oceananic scenery.Soon we were on to Whitianga. A small sleepy town about 6 hours away and once again on the opposite side of the coast. Rain saturated my surfboard and i have to admit that our spirits were dampend by a drizzle lifeless hostel in the middle of what felt like no where. The host pointed us to another place in town that woudl be full the next night with the bus of kids so we headed over and enjoyed yet another beautiful backpacker's with new facilities all the way around. Friendly staff and cool kids arrived the next day. The owner of the place liked us and offered us a ride in his steel hulled boat we accepted and took off. in 1 foot solid chop we set out at what seemed to be a breakneck or should i say break back pace. i was in the co pilot seat and would feel my body compacting upon itself every time the boat shot up and smacked down on the water. At on point we were actually fully out of the water rudder and all. Maybe 1 foot out to be exact. What a thrilling ride. We took us to see what Cpt. Cook called Shakespeare point cause it apparently used to have the profile of the man back in the day. We also saw the biggest tourist attraction from the boat which saved us a 45 min hike which was Cathedral cove. A huge 25ft tall 35 ft wide and 60ft tunnel through sheer rock . U could actually walk through it and i felt truley in awe at the magnitude and precision of mother nature's hand. Night was fun out in the quite town and we got to bed for yet another journey.Our whole idea was to be in a cool place for hallowee[...]
2006-10-31T15:42:43.880+09:00hey all it is i the travelling bum updating you once again on my adventures.
2006-10-24T09:18:03.276+09:00I have finally landed back in a place where i can give everyone this amazing update. here we go... After arriving in Singatoka by way of a 4 hour bus ride from Nandi we were directed toward our destination "club masa" by a little girl in the village. We, John, and Danny from England and I found ourselves in the middle of no where with amazing sand dunes towering skyward about 1/2 a mile away. Our guide was a bit off and our accomadtion was a room with 8 beds and a shady cast of hosts. Marijuana filtered in through the back window and the vibe was totally bizarre. Some surfers told us that club masa was uninhabitable becuase a film was being shot there, but we should try to get on as extras. We hiked throught the dunes to a rather large encampment at the only dip in the sand dunes. It was surreal to see an actual film set and walk through it so simply. Although we were denied due to overbookings of extra's we were directed toward a different place to stay. Shipwrek! And it was exactly that. A metal fence surrounded the delapidated compound and a coca cola was all that reminded us of civilization. We settled into a metal shack and were given 3 foam pads to place on the concrete floor. After chatting up a few bodyboarders from South Africa and enjoying our hosts "down home" cooking (actually quite tasty) we hit the hay for a 5 am surf sess. John, Dan and I crested the dunes around 6 and soaked in the spectacualar view provided by mother nature. We were all buzzing and tirpping out on the fact that we had arrived at the only beach break in the entire island. My mind was clear and i could feel the blood coursing through my veins in anticipation of the waves. Neither of the boys surf, but had a go with my 6'4". The waves were pretty much perfect. Waist to chest high clean lefts and rights which bowled up on the inside section. i was only joined by two beginner Aussies after about an hour into the sess and had no prob's. As they shouted from the shoulder of the wave of the morning i lost all connection to the land and felt myself drop into a perfect head high left which rode on for some distance. We hiked back and i paddled out with the body boarders for an afternoon sess into solid double over head surf. attempts to surf were fruitless in that the waves would suck backward after breaking and suck the lip of the waves up suddenly. The next morn brought the best waves of my whole fiji experience. Solid offshore winds and double overhead sets met Atti (bodyboarder) and i the next morn. i rode solidly on my 6'4" and pulled into a crazy barrel, but caught the lip on the head halfway through it. Getting barrelled is indescribable so i will not attempt.The crew continued on to Suva on another grueling bus ride of about 3 hours. We had an excellent stay there, which consisted of frequenting a local nightclub, trekking throught the jungle and swinging from big ropes into refreshingly cold spring water!Our bus back to Nadi was arduous, but our route along the coast allowed for great views of the ocean and the surrounding villages. We booked a trip up to the Yasawa Islands and spent the night on Sunday in Nandi in a crappy little hostel place.Monday came too early and jumped on board a giant cat and took a crystal blue water island viewing ride for 6 hours. While aboard i met a self proclaimed master and his 2 students from Australlia. He was cool and showed me some moves. We talked at length about his Tai Chi background and the premise of his teachings which mostly realted back to Taoism. Due to my studies in college we ckicked and i felt as though i had met a life long teahcer. M[...]
2006-10-14T02:04:39.120+09:00Oh my goodness!