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!

 

 

That One Time In Hong Kong

Hong Kong was simply beautiful! There’s nothing more to say about it other these pictures… 

The big city in China.

Of course I had to take a picture of the Mercedes AMG going through downtown!

First meal in Hong Kong had to be traditional.

Even blurry, the beauty still shows.

First taste of home on the trip.

Gondola ride to the Big Buda.

Aerial view of the man made island that houses the famous Hong Kong international airport.

Larger than life!

They’re everywhere!!

Beautiful, but fake.

Beautiful and real!

This was a trail named, “The Wisdom Path”. It was lined with these giant split trees that had random phrases in Chinese engraved in them. There was no translation so I had no idea what they said.

I really wish I knew what they said.

We ran into some locals on the path.

The architecture was breathtaking.

These statues were offering gifts to…..

THIS!! The Big Buddha.

Hong Kong is one of the most colorful cities I’ve ever seen at night.

This building was constantly changing colors.

The Bank of Hong Kong building.

This picture was a bit of story. Me and a couple friends I made there went on a journey to find a tram to the top of the hill overlooking the city. We got lost a lot on that journey, but finally had success being the last people up for the night. Once up the mountain, we walk to the famous viewpoint where I took the camera out, turned it on, removed the lenses cover and it was at that was about the time the bright city turned off their lights for the night. So this was the last picture I took on this trip, which was bittersweet being that I loved this place, but I just ran out of time!!

Old Temples and Sleepless Nights

Cambodia. To be completely honest, a lot of my journey through Cambodia will never be told on here(it got pretty… weird). But with that said, there is still a story to tell. 

  I flew into Siem Reap, Cambodia at about 9pm, where I had to go through my first “visa on arrival”, which went easier then I could imagine. Once at the hostel, I was instantly talked into going to the bar at the top of the hostel by a couple Irish guys in my room. For about two days that was the most I was doing in Siem Reap. I finally booked a Tuk Tuk tour to Ankor Wut and other temples around the area which started at 4:45am so you could watch the sunrise over the temple. 

  Waking up late, the morning wasn’t starting good. I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open and I fell asleep in the Tuk Tuk. Bunny, the driver of the Tuk Tuk woke me up when we got to the first temple and he told me that he’ll wait here till I’m ready to go to the next temple. So after a hour or so later I walked back and he was asleep in a hammock inside the Tuk Tuk. This was how most of the day went until I got dropped off on the west side of the temple and was told to find him on the east side. After going through the temple, I got to the east entrance where he was nowhere to be found. I searched for a hour and a half, but no luck. I found myself walking to the next temples and starting my way back. I walked for 2 hours until I found a Tuk Tuk to take me the rest of the way. I spent the rest of the day in the pool. 

  I was supposed to spend 3 days in Siem Reap, but 6 days later I finally went to Phnom Penh. There is not much to do there other than seeing the killing fields. Not really the best thing on my trip although I wouldn’t skip it for the world. I don’t feel right writing about it (although I just spent 20 minutes trying to explain what it is, only to erase it in the end. It just wasn’t coming out the way i want it to) If you want to what the killing fields are, Google it. You most likely never heard of it. 

  Cambodia was incredible and definitely worth the trip. I did party more than I ever had and made good friends in the process, but before I knew it, I was on a bus going to Vietnam. 

  

Side note: the pictures I posted were of the temples in Siam Reap and they were some of the only pictures I took that entire time in Cambodia! Like I said, crazy times and I don’t even drink!!

Walking With the Gentle Giants

There’s not much to say about Chiang Mai. I mostly sat in the hostel working on the website and figuring out what I was doing next on this trip. I did manage to go and see some Thai boxing with the owner of the hostel that I was staying at. I also got to cross a part off my bucket list and went to take care of elephants for a day. 

  It didn’t go as planned at first, being that they forgot to pick me up in the morning, but after getting picked up by the owner of the elephant sanctuary, I was on my way. 

  It was deep in the middle of the jungles of northern Thailand. Miles of dirt roads finally lead us to the place where the elephants roamed freely. We were instantly introduce to the family of five gentle giants and got to feed and play with them. One elephant took a liking to me and followed me around like a puppy. I honestly can’t remember her name (language barrier) but she was about 46 years old and was very smart. She figured out where I had the bananas and sugar cane in my shirt. Every once in a while I would feel her trunk picking the snacks out of my pocket.   We found ourselves in a creek bathing the elephants and mudding them. Mudding the animals cools them and keeps the bugs off. We spent a few more hours giving the elephants medicine and learning how to take care of them day by day.  


This whole experience was beyond my expectations and I really enjoyed myself more than I ever have on this trip. Before I knew it, we’re back on the truck heading back to the city. Later that night I finally managed to walk around the night market with a Dutch family that was stay in the same hostile I was. It was a good night and I really enjoyed resting for most of it before figuring out where I was going. My original thought was to go to Laos, but with their slow mentality and travel, I knew I didn’t have the time and so I bypassed it. Instead I took a night bus to Bangkok and jumped on the flight from there to go into Cambodia. 

 

Drinking the Salt Water

After my trip through the Krabi, I decided to go with the two Americans to Koh Phi Phi which is a small island in the Andaman Sea. This island was best known from the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio, which (once again) I’ve never seen before. It’s was a two hour boat ride to are destination. Once we got off the boat we got bombarded by people trying to sale us stuff. This is when we realized this island was a tourist trap and really made me want to jump back on the boat back to Krabi. I also ran into a friend that informed us that there was bed bugs at the hostel we booked, so didn’t take a chance and canceled our booking. Now homeless, we described to book a hotel instead and I was happy we did because it was the best view on the island!  The next day, they talked me into doing a boat tour to all the islands around the area. The thing I was worried about was the fact that they had snorkeling, but I don’t know how to swim well. Luckily they had life vests which helped me a ton from not drowning. The only bad thing was that the current took me farther away from the boat then I thought and that’s when I heard the horn blow to come back. Now it was a mad Dash/doggy pattle back which felt like forever. Sucking in about a gallon of sea water and dying of exhaustion, I finally made to the boat where I went over today’s decisions while coughing up salt water. 


  After resting for a bit we floated over a beach that still had signs of the 2004 tsunami. We continued the journey when the weather start to change for the worst and we had skip a couple island because of the choppy waters. We ended up at the island where they filmed that movie I never saw. At the end of the trip, we got to go to “monkey island” where the beach is infested with monkey although we only saw two while we were there. All in all, it was a good tour and we got back just in time to see the nightlife.   


On the last day on Koh Phi Phi the sun was out in all its glory, which was great if it wasn’t the fact that were leaving and I had to go up and down the stairs of the hotel a couple times. Unfortunately all the walking and the lack of water in my system didn’t do so well once I got to the boat and became sick and passed out for most of the trip back to Krabi. I got better at last bit of the boat ride and even managed to grab most of our bags to get off the boat. I made it over to the airport after saying goodbye to my awesome traveling partners. I had to leave the south to go explore the north of Thailand! 

No Reservations

The best thing about not having a plan is that you never know where you’ll end up. My thought was that I would be trekking it up north to Chiang Mai, but then a message from my buddy Ian changed all that. I wanted to sit on a beach since I got here and Bangkok and Chiang Mai was nowhere near that. Plans where changed within moments. 

Krabi is small town in the south end of Thailand and was just the place to Search for those beaches I was looking for. So early that morning I jump on my phone and booked a flight for that evening. That was the easy part, unfortunately the hostel I was booking was not available for the first night (which they informed me after the fact) now I was frantically trying to find somewhere else to go. I managed to find a “hotel” that was cheap in Krabi near the hostel I booked for the next couple of nights.   One crazy uber ride to the airport and the shortest flight I’ve ever been on, I found myself standing in a little airport about 15 minutes away from the center of Krabi. I hailed a taxi to the hotel, gave him the address and off I went. Unfortunately the nice taxi driver didn’t speak a word of English and come to find out, he had no idea where this “hotel” was. We drove around for 30 minutes when he pulled into a travel agency, where he got the agent to talk to me. After a little bit, we found the place on the map. Finding the place that I was staying was a bit surprising. The “hotel” was actually a sort of motel and most of the rooms had permanent residents in it. The room was fairly clean other than the lizards on the wall and the giant spider in the bathroom. I managed to sleep for a bit before they decided to either start working on the room next to me or was cutting up a dead body at 3 a clock in the morning. 



Once out of that wonderful hellhole, I decided to walk to my hostel. That afternoon I went and explore downtown Krabi and got food at the their market. That night I met a few pretty awesome people, two from the US, one from France and one from Australia. The two Americans, the Australian and I describe to rent scooters the next and go explore the beaches down the road from Krabi. This was a first for me because I’ve never been in the waves before. Later that day, we rode to a hot springs that seen better day, but we made the best of it. 


  We rode the scooter the next day where we saw more beaches, climbed a big rock and got caught in a thunderstorm while riding back. We seeked refuge at a restaurant with one of the best food on the trip so far. 


  Known of this was reserved or planned weeks before, it just happened. I think everyone needs a trip like this! Nothing to this extreme, but just something random and reservation free. 

Stomach Pains: Starting Off in Bangkok

  21 hours! 

 That could explain a lot of my journey to Asia. When the girl at the front counter of the hostel asked me, “how was my flight?” I simply replied, 21 hour and 3 different airports. She just nodded and laughed. 21 hours earlier, I was dropped off at the SeaTac airport by my buddy Mike. Unfortunately it was 4 hours early and the wait felt like forever. That didn’t make me feel any better than what I was, being that my nerves where already uneasy about what I was jumping into. 
Inside of a Boeing 777
The first leg of the flight was 12 hours to Taipei, Taiwan where I spent 5 hours eating breakfast at a café in the airport. The next and final leg was a 3ish hour flight to Bangkok, Thailand. Once off the plane, I went through customs (twice because I forgot the immigration forms) After, I quickly found a shuttle to the street near the the hostel I booked, leaving that airport in record time!!   Once I stepped out of the shuttle  and grab my backpack is when the heat and humidity hit me. It was a bit overwhelming, but luckily I met a lovely couple on the shuttle from New York that was visiting Asia for a couple weeks, so at least it wasn’t alone for my journey to the hostel. Their hotel was just on down the street for me. After being guided through the hostel I decided to put my stuff away and go down to the lobby to see if I could meet some people I could go and explore with. I know if I laid down for a nap the jetlag would sit in and I would end up like the time in Amsterdam where l was jetlagged for several days. The great thing about these trips is that you learn from your mistakes. 

The streets of Bangkok 
   I decide to go walk the markets and experience the street life which is very difficult than home. The smells can be good and bad within a couple feet. the drains to their temporary kitchens just go out into the street. Some of the food looks delicious, but every once in a while you find something that was either questionable or just down right disgusting. This is when I start developing some problems, every time I sat down to eat with the group of people I was with, I would instantly lose my appetite even though I was hungry. This went on for about four days and as I’m writing this, I’m still going through it. (Although I have been eating a little bit more than I have been.)   


My days in Bangkok were very much the tourist route. I never did anything to extreme. I managed to go see the Royal Palace one day and got to see some temples the next day. I was prepared for this though, I knew that the first part of my trip would be a hit or miss, but once I get used the way how things go in this country I become more laid-back and start doing the fun and out of the ordinary thing that backpackers do!   

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!!

Bad For Running, Worst For Fighting

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Back in 2014, while attending the Northwest Overland Rally, I stumbled across a guy displaying flip-flops. In search of some equipment that I was going to take with me to Europe, one thing I wanted was a good pair flip flops. I knew that a lot of the countries that I was going to would be quite warm. I was also looking for something that would hold the weight of the backpack and the long walks. So on that Saturday, I start talking to a guy named Griff and he gave me the lowdown of his business. He was a retired Army Ranger that got out of the service and wanted to create a business that he could make a living off of and help the people that were affected and some of the worst war-torn countries. I wasn’t really in the mindset of buying anything, but I was more curious of why there was a flip-flop company at an Overland meet? It just didn’t mix in my head, but I think curiosity got the best of me and after about an hour or so of talking about everything from my goal of traveling the world to his time in the service. The conversation gradually sway towards Combat Flip Flops.

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Las Vegas
He offered to give me flip flops and a day bag as long as I write a good review on his products. One bad thing about that was that I didn’t have a website at the time, so in some ways I credit him for starting this site!

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Once it was time for my trip, the flip flops was big part of my carry on because I wanted to be comfortable on the plane and if they lost my bag, I could live in them until I got my bag back. Out of the airplane in Amsterdam, I was in and out of my flip-flops until I got into Italy. When it started getting warm enough to keep them on all day long and I didn’t see my shoes for two weeks. At first the weight of the backpack was giving me blisters on the bottom of my feet because (truth be told) these flip-flops are really not for long distance backpacking trips, But once they got broken in, they could take the abuse. I managed to walk least 200 miles in the flip-flops.

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Amsterdam

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Poland

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Venice

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Barcelona

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Rome

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Mediterranean Sea
The last portion of my trip of Europe was a bit colder and the flip-flops didn’t get much action. On my way home I managed to hit New York and Washington D.C. By this point it was about 90° average in both cities, so the flip-flops came back out and I managed to walk a long ways for both those cities and even managed to make it home all while wearing my “AK-47” flip flops.

 

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Brooklyn Bridge

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Washington DC

I wouldn’t say these are the best flip-flops in the world, but they never let me down and to this day they haven’t let me down. I can probably do the same trip again without any problem with these flip-flops. They are well-designed and the quality is top notch. As for the Claymore day bag that I brought with me was with me for almost every day. Especially in places that I couldn’t leave my valuables in the places that didn’t have safes or lockers and it never was uncomfortable, no matter how much weight was put in. Most of the time I just carried my iPad, the GoPro and a water bottle in the bag. It definitely came in handy when I was going from airport to airport. There’s not even an ounce of damage or wear on this bag, even though it made it through 19 different country’s.

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While planning my next trip around the world, I am sticking with the Combat Flip Flops Company for the same product as I used for my Europe trip. I already purchased a couple new flip-flops one of which I’m going to bring with me and I have plans of bringing the same bag. 

 I expect nothing less but the best out of these products going all around the world once again I am grateful that I know Griff and his wonderful brand. I hope all the best for him. But I have a feeling the future is going to be nothing, but up. Especially after being featured in the Shark Tank, where they had huge success and got three sharks to invest in the product! I wish nothing but the best to CFF family and happy to be a small part of it!
 

Back Into Routine

It’s been about 6 months since I’ve seen the inside of airplane or carried a 40lb backpack through a city and it’s been a wild ride on getting back into the normal routine of life. After surprising everybody by coming back home early, I decided to rest for a few weeks and take my time on getting back to everything. Which turned into a pretty good idea because the jetlag hit me hard and not only that,  I managed to get a severe ear infection that resulted in a temporary hearing loss in my right ear and with no insurance, I just had to deal with it and eventually it went away.

     One day on my days of rest, My good friend Eric stopped by to enjoy a cigar on the lake and caught up on all the events of the past 3 months. he asked what I was doing for work being that I quit my job to do this trip and he mentioned that his company was hiring. At that time I was in the mindset of finding a dead end job to have temporarily until the next trip. After some time of thinking of what he told me about this job opportunity that he presented to me, I set up an interview a couple days later. Before I knew it, I was working for one of best companies I’ve ever worked for. The people there are extremely pleasant and very supportive and my boss is one the most down to earth guys I’ve ever met. He too, has a certain love of traveling and understands my dream of seeing the world. With that said, he supported the idea of me continuing my travels and he’s granting me time off to do so. 

   Other than working all the time, I found time to go out and take mini expeditions with the Short Bus. Over the summer My best friend and I finally achieved our goal of driving the 101 loop around Washington state’s Olympic mountains. 

    
   
 Unfortunately we managed to do it in a day, but in the end, we had tons of fun. I’ve also got to take some camping trips with some good friends in the rain and in the sunshine. 

   
Life can easily get consumed by work or school, family and friends. Life can also slowly past you by if you don’t stop for a second, look around and enjoy the little moments as if they were the big moments. As for me… well I’m going to take full advantage of this knowledge and I’m not going to waste these opportunities that I have in front of me. I’m still young and debt-free (for the most part) I have the chance to take time off a great job to go pursue another incredible adventure. So as I write this to you all, I’m planning another big adventure for next summer and who knows, maybe I will discover more of life’s secrets along the way… wherever that’ll be? 

 ….but I have a pretty good idea where 😉