Two Wheel Life in Vietnam

Once I hit the road pointed in the right direction to Huè, I promised myself I wouldn’t fly through the pass like I would any other time and I would actually stop and take pictures. So the first part, I stopping and took a few pictures here and there, but once I started riding into the single lane roads of the pass, my adrenaline spiked and before I knew it I’m flying through the corners. I did manage to stop once or twice to take a picture, but not nearly as much as I wanted to. That’s when I reminded myself that this is for me and my experiences and sometimes you have to keep those to yourself. After about 2 1/2 hours, I found myself in the town of Huè where I had a bus waiting for me to take me to a small village called Phong Nha. I meant two girls from Israel on the bus and we talked most of the time and one of them even told me that she had no place booked once we got there.  We decided to get a hostel together being that there’s only two to choose from. The next morning they automatically included me in all their plans which I really enjoyed because without their company I would not of seen nearly as much as I did.

We woke me up really early to go see the famous caves.  We didn’t want to take a tour, so we decide to rent a couple scooters and go on our own.  We get the first cave where we can swim, ride on the zip line, go on an obstacle course and also explore the caves (which had a lot of mud so I decided to skip the cave part). Instead I stayed on obstacle course and had a really good time for the first 20 minutes, but then I realize that me waiting for them got a longer than I thought. Once they came back they somehow knew that I was having too much fun as they did, so they took me out to lunch and we talked for a long period of time then we started making plans for the rest of the day.

On the ride back, we came across two Canadian girls broke down just outside the town we were staying. “The rental scooter decided not to run anymore”, they told me as I offered to help try to fix the problem.  After a minute or two, I got it running and followed them back to town. Once we got back to the hostel, we got really lazy and decided to stay around the hostel for evening.

The following day, the girls and I grabbed the scooters and rode out to the caves nearest to where we were staying. Riding down a long dirt road that the poor scooter wasn’t designed for, we found ourselves at a dead end right before the cave. Come to find out that only boats can enter the cave. We trekked back, found a tour boat and started our way through the dark cave. The boat took us about a mile in where they dropped us off and we walked the way back. The path goes around these mighty nature made structures that took millions of years to make. The locals brought in colored lights to eliminate the structures and wall making it a surreal feeling as we walked back.

We got back to the scooters when the girls brought up the idea of just riding around the outskirts of the town. This place wasn’t much of a tourist town and a lot of these streets were mainly untouched by travelers. This became apparent once we got a half hour in the ride. The girls wanted to stop at where a few local kids were running around a hut type building. One of girls took a bag of balloons out of her bag and started handing them out to the kids which became overjoyed with their new gifts. It was at that moment that I realized that that was their home which had no glass windows and hardly a front door and was also their place of work. These people barely had anything,  yet they were happy and smiling as if they didn’t have a worry in the world.

At that moment, it all hit me as if i landed there for the first time again. all the memories that got pushed deeper and deeper in my mind as I was having fun partying with the other travelers and walking through the oldest structures in the world in the past mouth, I started thinking of the stuff in between. The people living in the outskirts of the big cities that i saw while sitting in a bus to my next destination or that I interacted with at a truck stop. They all were just living life the best they could. Even with very little to live with, they were happy and joyful in the fullest. It was funny to me that a kid bopping a balloon in the air would make this rush of emotions come over me. Maybe it was the fact that this journey was coming to a close or the fact that I was blinded by the way I live and I was trying to compare it to life here. Whatever it was that came over me was just what I needed to really appreciate this trip for what it was and also appreciate what I had back at home.

 

Shortly after we back from our ride and we returned the bikes we planned our trip to Hanoi. Hanoi was my last stop, but not at this point because I had a plane ticket to Hong Kong for the weekend (Which is a another story on it own). After Hong Kong, I came back to Hanoi for one more night of my trip. In the end of the long flight home as I watched the U.S. coastline come into view, I shed a tear or two knowing that reality of everyday life was sitting there. It’s funny how just a month and a half before I was sitting at that same airport, finding any excuse to not get on that plane in fear of not knowing what Southeast Asia was going to be like. Now I didn’t want to come back!

 

 

Good Morning Vietnam!

Best part of this trip is the random act of meeting people. Next time you go to the grocery store, look over to a person in the freezer isle and imagine you will go and make dinner with them that night and become best friends just because you both were looking for the same thing. That’s about the same as what I go through on a regular basis while traveling. I’ll be waiting for a bus, look over at a couple waiting for the same bus and before I know it, we’re hanging out and planning a ride through the coast of Vietnam. It’s literally just that easy! Unfortunately those plans didn’t go through, but I managed to make good friends in the process. 

Getting into Saigon went smoothly, but once I got to the hostel is when it went south for me. The place I booked was over full, so they sent me to their sister hostel. Unfortunately the sister hostel was just their home and I decided it was best for me to find a actual hostel that was closer to my new friends from the bus hours before. Not only did I find them, I was even in the same room together. Somehow I never really did anything in Saigon. I meanly sat around, watched movies and tried to plan the next portion of my trip along the coast of Vietnam.

After 2 days of searching for a bike to ride up the coast, I finally decided instead to fly to Da Nang which is in the middle of Vietnam. I was running out of time and riding would to take a lot longer than what I had. I managed to buy a plane ticket for cheap and got a hostel near the airport for a night so I can figure out what I was going to do around that area.

The next day, I packed my things and got a taxi to the airport. That’s when journey took a bit of a turn. Knowing that my plane was supposed to leave at 3 PM, I got there early and got something to eat to pass the time until my plane was getting ready to board, But at 3 o’clock I noticed they never had any announcements and the board showing all the flights didn’t have mine on it. Not knowing exactly what to do, I just decided to go and talk with some people that work for Jetstar Pacific, which was the flight I was taking. That’s when she told me that my flight was going to be delayed until about 5 o’clock. Not really upset about all of it being that I had no where else to go, I just use the time to update the website off-line(being that there’s no Wi-Fi at the airport)

It was 4 o’clock when I decided to go to see if everything was going according to plan, but it wasn’t and the flight wasn’t going to be in until about 8 PM. They gave me an apology for the delay and even gave me my money back for my checked bag and a food voucher for the same stuff that I ate a couple hours before. There’s no way of leaving the airport because it was so far away from everything else so I just sat there. At about 8 o’clock we all lined up just to watch flight get delayed once more, but by the time I found a friend in line.

I went this whole time waiting for this flight with nobody to talk to because most of them were locals spoke very little English, but there was one girl that was there with very short hair and beautiful green eyes. She told me she was from the UK and that she just started her trip and her flight was on the runway when the plane broke down, so she was changed to this flight. I talked to her for a little bit before we jumped on a plane. She was in the front of the plane when I was in the back so I thought I would never talk to her again. The flight was very short and I knew that my hostel was about a 10 minute walk from the airport on purpose so I didn’t have to get a taxi this time. With my surprise I was waiting for my checks bags to get in when that girl with beautiful green eyes came up to me and asked if I can watch your bags so she could use the toilet. I was very surprised because we just talked for maybe five minutes before that, now she trusted me with all of her belongings. I got my bag and waited for her to come back. That’s when we started a good friendship. We sat for a little bit looking around the airport for her ride that had no idea that her flight was delayed. We found some people going to Hoi An, which was about a 30 minute drive down from Da Nang. She talked me into going with her and skipping the hostel being that there was really not much there and this time it was 11 o’clock and she was sure that they were closed. Now I found myself with three complete strangers in a taxi going a town I’ve never heard of. We got dropped off at a hotel where the two other strangers were staying, so me and the girls decide to walk around trying to find a place to stay being her place was canceled as well. After a while and a really good meal, we decide to stay at a hotel for the night.

The next day we packed up our stuff and knew that we need to find the hostel stay at, but she had different plans and with one glance she said that she needs to be going. That was the last time I saw her. That’s how things go here, you meet somebody that you really enjoy just to find yourself all alone the next afternoon. There’s nothing you can do about it except get used to the fact that that’s all part of backpacking.

  Hoi An is a beautiful beach town with a ton of custom tailors that makes suits and dresses all year-round. I found a homestay, which is kind of like hostel except it’s a house that the family actually lives in and they rent a couple rooms. It was really nice and the girl that work there helped me out tremendously on figuring out when last we can half of my trip. I managed to meet up with a couple people that I met on my trip previously and we all got to get it to go and explore the nightlife here. It was a good time and I even managed to get a suit made while I was there. Although I don’t know why? I never wear suits, but it’s nice to have in the closet and it was really cheap. The next day I rented a bike to ride through the world famous Hai Van pass. So early morning of my last day in Hoi An I threw on a helmet and started riding…
(Sorry for the lack of picture. The camera took mostly blurry photos for some reason!)

The New Chapter

It’s weird having those feeling in my stomach once again. Something I haven’t had in a little over a year. My head starts racing about every thing that needs to be done and what hasn’t been done. These are all signs of a new adventure just over the bridge as I pack up my bags and I head out to Southeast Asia.  

Random pictures throughout the year:
Taking photos of the Desert 100 on top of the Shortie 

Everything is drastically different then the last trip. One thing is that I need all my shots and meds to go on this trip. To be quite honest with you, the whole reason I’m doing this is because Southeast Asia just scares the crap out of me, but I know once I get there and experience the culture, I won’t come back the same person. There’s one thing that is very different from my last preparations of traveling, I’m a bit more seasoned with traveling. There is a lot less frantic phone calls to my good buddy Ian about if I’m doing stuff right or wrong, although there has been one or two already! It’s not like I haven’t done a 15 hour flight before. This time around, I have to get visas for almost every country that I am going to be entering. Last time, I just needed a passport to go from border to border. 
  As of now, things are a bit hard. The research that I’ve done is very loose in the fact of everything over in Asia is more relaxed then what Europe was. I’ve done some research on some places to go, but I am pretty much up in the air and only know where I’m landing and where I’m leaving. Me videoing most of this trip is not a goal that I most likely will reach. I tried doing some videoing during the spring time of small trips that I was doing in the Northwest and it just didn’t feel right. So I’m going to continue doing the brief summaries on the blog like I did before and maybe I’ll get a video or two to post up as well. 
  One thing that happened that was a little bit of a damper on this trip is that some of the money I saved had to be put towards the Project Short Bus(aka the Xterra) after it mysteriously started to act up on me. 

Where the Short Bus broke down…. Could of been worse I guess
How she got home from the dunes



Unfortunately that’s how life is. You can never plan this. This whole website is dedicated to stuff like this the whole fact that life is never a routine. Sometimes you just have to build bridges to cross to get where you’re going instead of finding The path with least resistance. I just remember that everything is a life experience. You can take everything you’ve learned with history and make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

Exploring the Ogg compound(aka my friends “off the grid” property)



  Showing my stories and what I went though in these trip will hopefully help someone else down the road. I’ve never once looked for money or to gain anything except to share my experiences to inspire others to get out of their comfort zone and see the world for how it is and not how we perceive it on TV or through the media. 

Camping at Dino Daze with my overland family, Lauren and Will 



  As for now, this will be the last post before my trip other than a few posts that I have done that was backlogged because of some technical issues. So until then, take care of yourselves and I’ll see you in Asia!!

The 31 hour day

(Sorry, Because of terrible Dutch Internet service I can’t post any pictures at the moment)

6:05am in Washington: Woke up one last time in my own bed and slowly got ready for the long day ahead. My nerves were all over the place, but I knew I had to force myself to eat a meal before I left. What I didn’t know was my next meal was going to be 40 hours later. 

4:00pm in Washington: After getting dropped off at the airport by my mother and my best friend a couple hours before, I was boarding my flight. It was 7 hour to Iceland. Two hours into the flight I found out that I was misunderstood on the meal on the plane. Apparently there’s a difference between “comfort economy” which gets a meal and “economy” that I was in… which doesn’t have a meal and for some stupid reason I didn’t bring any snacks.

6:25am in Iceland: After a fairly quick 7 hours, I was in Iceland. I got off the plane, walked to my next plane. waited 10 minutes to board and off we went. 3 hour to Amsterdam… easy right?!?!

12:05pm in Amsterdam: After One of the most grueling 3 hours of my life, I crawled off the plane. Hungry and tired, I tryed not to lose focus as I walked to the baggage claim where I finally reunited with my backpack. I walked out of the airport and instantly got lost. At this time I realized, I lost all focus!!

3:30pm still in the airport: After walking around in circles like a lost kid, I finally got a hold of my good buddy Ian, which helped me as much as he could over the phone. Calming myself down at a Starbucks, I finally jumped in a taxi and payed the 60€ to get to my hostel. Once there, I tryed to stay awake until finally it was bedtime(10:00pm)!! 

It was a terrible start to my adventure and I made some bad decisions (like not eating) but sometimes the adventure doesn’t go as smoothly as you thought it was going to. You just got to learn from Your mistakes and carry on. Everything will figure itself out eventually!! 

10 Miles in Flip Flops

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

    Never really being outside of my home state and never being in anything with wings, I booked a plane ticket for a secret trip to the “City of Sin” for one full day.  Only a couple of my friends and my boss knew about my journey.  The less that knew about it, the easier it would be to slip away for a while.  After a dizzying couple hours at the airport, I jumped on a jet plane pointed torwards Nevada. 

  Fresh off the plane, my original plan of staying up the whole time fell ill with a tiring check in at the hotel and a saying my grandmother once told me a long time ago(and apparently A saying on a popular TV show) , “Nothing good happens after 2am”.  A saying that I’ll stick to in my travels especially in Las Vegas.  So I got some well needed rest and got ready to tackle the town early that morning.  A quick breakfast was followed by a short walk to the New York New York’s “Manhatten Express Rollercoaster” for little morning adrenaline rush. 

  Once off the first thrill ride of the day, I decided to take a walk around the south side of the strip which included the MGM Grand, New York New York and the Excalibur where I was staying. After getting lost in the MGM Grand I found myself heading back to my hotel being that the weather was getting quite warm and was a perfect opportunity to go for a swim. The Excalibar has a impressive pool which includes a water slide for the kids of all ages, a bar and even a restaurant. It was at this point I realized that half the day was already gone and I still had the rest of the strip to tour before the nights festivities began. 

  Throwing on some flip flop, I journeyed deeper into the jungles of Vegas, hitting all the iconic hotels of the strip. Deep in one of the hotels was a car museum, where I got to see some of Elvis’s old cars, Pres. JFK’s limousines and even a legendary Jaguar supercar. From there I decided to book it to the Stratosphere at the end of the strip. Being that I have a keen sense of adrenaline that I live off of, I had to experience the thrill rides at the top of this thousand foot needle in the desert. I jumped on the first ride which was called the Xscream. This ride was basically a teeter-totter that catapulted you off the needle and stopped just in time to watch your heart fly out of your chest and splatter on the concrete a thousand feet below.  After that thrill, I was eager to jump on the next ride when a big gust of wind came up and stayed there, closing down the rest of the rides for the night.

  Realizing it was getting late and being that I was on the opposite side of the strip that I wanted to be on, I jumped on the monorail and headed towards my hotel to get my costume on and meet up with a couple friends that were in Vegas as well to enjoy the festivities of Halloween on the Vegas strip. That night was so big, it deserved it’s own story!! Looking at the time, I started to loose steam from exploring the whole day, I decided to call it a night 30 minutes before 2:00. The next morning, I was at the airport flying home.

  The whole point of this adventure was to see how I reacted with traveling by myself to an unknown part of the world. It wasn’t too far compared to my big trip to Europe, but I just reminded myself that if I can survive Vegas at Halloween alone, I can survive in any city around the world just fine. The only thing I wish was that I could’ve stayed a little bit longer, but I have a lot of time ahead of me and there’s so much more to see then a tourist filled town in the middle of the desert. All in all, I enjoyed my stay in the end and that’s all that really matters!! 

  

         

The Night of Tricks and Many Treats

I knew this night was going to be really big when It got so crowded in the MGM Grand that I had to slowly squeeze myself through the walkway. There had to of been over 3000 people in the food court of that hotel. Every one of them in different costumes… except me. I was in a rush back to my hotel to get my costume on and meet up with Sarah and Bryon in a matter of an hour. I felt like I was running behind, but once I walked out of my hotel, the party began. We decided to walk the strip and people watch. Sarah joined a silent rave. Bryon and I enjoyed some roadside pizza. It started out great and what happened that night can barely be described in words. So with that said, I had to make a photo gallery with mix of mine and Bryon from Exploring Elements photos of that night. IMG_2159.JPG

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Review: AK-47 Flip Flops

I was first introduced to Combat Flip Flops at the 2014 NW Overland Rally. A flip flop company in a sea of overlanding gear that stuck out like a sore thumb, which got my attention and for good reason. When I’m home, I practically live in my flip flops and was in the market for good pair, being that the ones I usually have were cheap plastic and always falling apart. I also was in the mindset of a good pair to bring with me to Europe for the hostels and long train or plane rides. Other than my hiking boots, the only other footwear I would be bring with me would be my handy dandy flip flops.
After a good conversion with Griff, the CEO of CFF. I quickly realized that this was not just a some normal footwear company with a fancy name. Griff was a former Army Ranger that wanted to give back to the people that were impacted the most in the Middle East. I told him about my trip to Europe and my other journeys in the future. He gave me some very helpful pointers on some of the countries that I will be traveling through. He also hooked me up with my purchases of my flip flops and a bag, as long as I blog about them and get the word out about CFF!! So with that said, here is my review.

AK-47 Flip Flops

Within moments of purchasing the AK-47 flip flops, I kicked off my shoes and slip them on. I spent the rest of the weekend in them, never to wear shoes again until I got home. At first, the flip flops were a little tight and the sand colored leather was a little slippery, but within an hour or so, my feet slowly formed itself into the leather and it started to fit perfectly. Every step in the AK-47 were getting better and better, even in the grassy field that we were camping in for that weekend.

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After the 3 months of the getting the AK-47’s, I rarely go a day without slipping them on. They are made very well with durable leather, footing and strap decorated with bullet shells. The seals show very little wear with many miles walked in them. The only downside that I have encountered is the the big toe area and heel are starting to discolor a little. Other than that minor detail, there is no other problems to report.

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Pros:

•Durable
•Good-looking design
•Breaks in easy
•Good quality leather

Cons:

•Starts to discolor after a while
•A little pricey
•Hard to wear when wet

Overall:

If your a world traveler and you’re looking for a cheap pair of flip-flops to go through the hostel showers or on the train rides, I wouldn’t recommend them to you. If you’re a person that lives in your flip-flops day in and day out, I would definitely recommend taking a look at Combat Flip Flops. If you do a lot of overlanding or just camping, these are definitely durable enough to take the abuse. I will be taking them on my journeys through Europe to put them to the true test to as they hold up.

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For more details on the AK-47’s or any of the Combat Flip Flop products, visit Combatflipflops.com

Gas Station Food for Breakfast

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Since the Overland Rally in Plain, WA, I’ve been laying low and conserving my money for my Europe trip. After a couple of mouths of just hanging around the house, I was starting to get very anxious to do something. So saturday came along after hard week of work. I packed up my gear, loaded up my dirt bike in the back of my Dad’s truck and set off.

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We gassed up and got some breakfast at small gas station on the way to Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Once there, we jump to the bikes and headed though the trails to a beautiful campsite called Cat Creek. Sitting along the side where Cat Creek flows into the Cispus River. It’s a group of about five camping spots, which was packed full. We managed to find a way to the creek and admired it for a bit before packing back up and heading to the next destination, Hamilton Butte.

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Hamilton Butte is an amazing look out, where you can see almost every mountain in the northwest. At 5722 feet, it’s a breathtaking site to see on a beautiful day, but halfway up I had some “technical difficulties” and broke my kick starter. So we turned to our third and final stop, being that it was mostly downhill on the way.

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Blue Lake is a lovely lake that you can only get to by trail. It was once a creek about 400 years ago that was damned up. Now it a dark blue 12 acres lake that’s homes a ton of fish and millions of annoying flies. When we finally got to it, we were surprised to see a bunch of hikers camped at the shore. One of the hikers was a guy from Spain that transplanted himself to the Northwest several years ago and started a family here. He hiked out there with his 3 kids for the weekend. We sat and talked to him for about a hour getting some pointers on backpacking though Spain and Portugal. We said our goodbyes and continued our way back to the truck.

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On the drive home I realized that every once in a while we all get caught up in the working life and we lose the realization that we aren’t stuck inside a bubble with work and home in it. Theres a whole world around us, just waiting to be explored and it’s just outside our front door. The beautiful thing about an adventure is that you can take a trip 10,000 miles from home for 6 months or a trip 10 miles from home for weekend. An adventure can be a hike or bike or even a small road trip for a day. There’s no rules to adventures as long as you come home with story’s to tell and a smile on your face:-)

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