The American Traveler (traveling as an American Minority)

Throughout my travels something stood out to me, I am once again the minority.  In three different ways I found myself the minority amongst my diverse group of travelers.

#1.  I’m American (MURICA!)

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Photo cred: Reddit

American backpackers are not as common as the English, Australians, Kiwis, Germans and many others, but why?  Well, It’s simply not built into our culture.  During my initial 3-month European tour I encountered 2 American travelers in Berlin, 2 in Madrid and 3 in Istanbul.  Surely I thought I would have encountered more Americans in every place I visited, after all we have such a large population and overall good economy.  Strangely enough I encountered more Australians than anyone else.  Australia has a smaller population than my entire state, and their currency is weaker, yet you will find one in every inch of the world.  I asked my Australian mate   why this is, and he explained to me that Aussies are so far away from everyone else that they might as well make their trip worthwhile, but there’s more to it than the distance. Their culture encourages travel, and by the age of 25 most Aussies are globe trotters.

Unlike our kangaroo loving mates, Americans are built different.  We are driven by our capitalist nature and our need to achieve the American dream. This success is measured by our achievement in education, career, property ownership, family and retirement.  Derailment from this course is considered unwise and unsuccessful. Because of this we tend to push off traveling till we are older or better yet, till we reach the ripe old age of retirement.  Only then when we are old, fragile, with a small bladder, talking about how much harder life was back in the day, only then is it acceptable to travel. I’ve seen these herds of Americans flock the streets of Europe in their overpriced tour groups.  Because of this mentality I commonly found myself to be the only American in the group.

South East Asia was different, and I began to encounter more Americans, but still are numbers were small compared to others.

#2.  I’m Peruvian (Where in Mexico is that?)

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Photo cred: Xpatnation

The most asked question amongst travelers besides our names, is our place of origin. Typically, I’ll blurt out one of these answers: the states, U.S., California, San Francisco.  A common response I’ve gotten is, “No you’re not.  Where you really from?”

“Ummmmm, the fuck you mean? (confused look on my face).  I’m pretty sure I’m American.” (checks passport for verification) “See, the giant bald eagle on my passport confirms it.”

What people are getting at is what ethnicity I am.  Their doubt comes from the mere fact that I don’t look like the Americans they’ve seen on the tube.  At first glance many think I’m Italian, Israeli, some kind of middle eastern, Greek, Indian, Spanish, a brown Ryan Gosling, and the most dreaded one, Mexican (pukes a little in mouth).

Growing up I was the only Peruvian in my group of minority friends.  The outlier.  As my circle of friends grew outside the minority spectrum (white people) most would assume I was Mexican and when I told them I was from Peru they have no clue where it was.

I leave my liberal home state for Georgia, a place where people believe all of central and South America is Mexico. “Peru? What part of Mexico is that?”

Upon my return to the West Coast things had changed.  My countrymen were suddenly geographically inclined and when I told them I was Peruvian the response I would get is, “Oh man I love Peru! Machu Pichu, Incas, llamas, lomo saltado, fucking love it all bro.”

“Um wait a sec.  You been there?”

“Yea dude.  Hiked the Inca trail, did some ayahuasca and rode some barrels bruh.”

(Confused/surprised look on my face) What the fuck is going on? Somewhere during my time spreading freedom in foreign lands, my birth place had become extremely popular. Not only were people familiar with Peru and its culture, many had actually visited the country.  Peruvian cuisine had exploded in San Francisco and my family and I now had several Peruvian restaurants to choose from instead of one.

I’ve met one Peruvian traveler in all my time globe-trotting.  Like Americans culture restricts travel, but Peru’s economical place in the world is the major deterrent of travel for young Peruvians.

Many of my fellow backpackers had seen more of my birth country than I have.

#3.  I’m a Veteran (G.I. fucking Joe, Pew Pew)

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Photo cred: Pinterest

A fellow veteran once asked me, “What’s it like traveling as a veteran?  Do you they like us? Do they understand us?”

The United States has been at war since 2001, ever since the attacks on 9/11.  After many years of combat several veterans have returned home trying to find their place in the civilian world.  Just about every American has a veteran friend since so many answered the call of duty.  This of course does not mean that they understand us.  There is a great division between civilian and veteran, but over the years many organizations are bridging the gap between both sides.  This is not exactly the case for our allies.

Our allied veterans are not as common in their communities as in the states.  Hardly anyone knows a service member in their country.  This leads to two things, a stigma and a curiosity towards veterans.

Since most foreigners have never had an interaction with a veteran, I am a sudden curiosity.  The questions start flowing in.  What was war like? What’s it like shooting guns? What’s Iraq/Afghanistan like?  What did you do?  Did you kill anyone? I tend to avoid revealing that I am a veteran when I travel to avoid these questions, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.  I don’t mind people’s curiosity, I’m sure I would be just as curious if I was in their shoes. I’m typically very vague with my answers because let’s face it’s hard for them to comprehend my experience.  There are very few travelers I have met where I have felt comfortable enough to share my experience with.  These are usually fellow veterans from other nations.  Sometimes I have fun with it and tell people it’s exactly like Call of Duty.

Then there’s the stigma with being a veteran.  A girl once told me after finding out I was a veteran, “Oh no sweetie, you’re damaged, you’re fucked in the head.”  The only detail she had about me was that I was a veteran and automatically she assumes I have PTSD, some mentally ill soul walking this earth seeking pity.  Yea, no, and go fuck yourself. Usually I play it cool and shake it off, but other times my twisted mind plays along and I recite the last scene of Rambo with my own twist of course.

Back there I had all these fucking guys. Who were my friends. Cause back here there’s nothing. Remember Danforth? He wore this black headband and I took one of those magic markers and I said to Feron, “Hey mail us to Las Vegas” cause we were always talking about Vegas, and this fucking car. This uh red ’58 Chevy convertible, he was talking about this car, he said we were gonna cruise till the tires fall off … We were patrolling the streets of Kabul and this kid carrying a shoe-shine box comes up. And he says “Shine, please, shine!” I said no. He kept askin’, yeah, and Joey said “Yeah.” And I went to talk to the village elder, and the box was wired, and he opened up the box, fucking blew his body all over the place. And he’s laying there, he’s fucking screaming. There’s pieces of him all over me, just…like this, and I’m tryin’ to pull him off, you know, my friend that’s all over me! I’ve got blood and everything and I’m tryin’ to hold him together! I’m puttin’… the guy’s fuckin’ insides keep coming out! And nobody would help! Nobody would help! He’s saying, sayin’ “I wanna go home! I wanna go home!” He keeps calling my name! “I wanna go home, Carlos! I wanna drive my Chevy!” I said “With what? I can’t find your fuckin’ legs! I can’t find your legs!” – John Rambo

Yea pretty fucked up, but if you assume all veterans are fucked in the head than yea you deserve to be fucked with.  Fortunately, this is not common and people are usually respectful and just curious about my experience.

So to my veteran friend I would say this, no they do not understand us but it does not mean they don’t like us.  They simply can’t comprehend our experience since they haven’t lived through it, therefore we can’t fault them for this.  Travel the world and express yourself freely, people will like you for you.  All I ask is to respect them with the same respect you seek.  They also come from a different world and experiences we don’t understand.  In the end we are all the same, human beings trying to understand each other.

I guess that last little part applies to everyone hahaha.  Safe travels fuckers, till next time.

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A Glimpse Into the World of Prostitution

Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession resulting in famous whores throughout history and biblical text.  Hollywood has even romanticized the profession in the flick Pretty Woman, but how many sex workers do you know that have ended up with millionaires.  Go ahead, I’ll wait, I just ordered another pint so we have time.  The sex world is an interesting one and it was through my basic curiosity that I was able to capture a glimpse of this world.  Here are my accounts of that journey.

Amsterdam’s Red Light District

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Photo Cred: Conde Nast Traveler

At the helm of the prostitution world is the red light district in Amsterdam simply out of popularity.  Not only is this a place where horny guys go to score, this is a place visited by every traveler out of a basic human feeling, curiosity.  It is a giant tourist attraction, and yes you will see grandpa and grandma waltzing through the red lit streets.  Of course it isn’t till the late hours of the night that the serious customers reveal themselves.  My fist venture here was during my first European excursion.  Like every tourist I went and checked out the girls flaunting their goods behind a glass window.  I couldn’t tell you price or what is negotiated as I did not inquire with one of the girls.  Instead I walked and stared in amazement for this world does not exist in mine.  I will say the girls are hotter than your average street walker in the states.

Pascha in Cologne Germany

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Photo Cred: Carpe Diem

During my time in Cologne I was informed of a famous brothel named Pascha.  After conducting my research through the worldwide web I discovered that Pascha is a hotel where prostitutes rent a room to conduct their services.  Revenue from clients is solely theirs and the hotel does not take a cut.  They make their revenue through entrance fees and alcohol sales. If you ask me this sounds better than working for an abusing pimp.  Yes, yes I don’t know what actually transpires behind the scenes, but if the information is accurate then it is a good deal in an industry that has a seedy reputation.

Pascha is the biggest brothel in Germany. There was no way I was going to miss it so I convinced my fellow hostel mate to join me in this adventure.

It was quite a walk from our hostel to the brothel but upon arrival we were greeted by a single bouncer at the entrance.  We paid our fee to enter the premises which wasn’t hefty, 15 euros I think.  This was two years ago so I apologize for my memory being a bit hazy.  The place didn’t seem quite populated, but it was early in the night.  At this hour most people are just arriving at the bars and the bros are testing their luck.  I’m assuming after failure and last call the place gets packed.

We made our way through the dim lit hallways, floor after floor.  If a girl is open for business she will have her door open and will usually be hanging by the doorway.  Some are quick to offer pricing and services while others gaze at you and wait for you to make the first move.  Starting price is 50 euros.  This can be many different things such as basic sex, blow job or hand job, all depends on what you negotiate with the girl.  Any additional services cost more.  Of course every girl has different prices but the standard I kept hearing was 50 euros.  We got to the final floor of regular services.  Any further up and we had to pay another fee.  What’s on these special floors you ask?  Why trannies of course.  I guess trannies provide a special service to that special gentleman with specific taste.  That was our cue to get the fuck out of there.

Hamburg’s Reeperbahn

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Photo Cred: Muncher Merkur

During my travels I had mentioned to a fellow traveler that I was headed to Hamburg.  She informs me of a place that is forbidden for women to enter.  Of course I asked why and she tells me it is Hamburg’s red light district.  Unlike Amsterdam, this place is closed off to women and according to her there were guards at the entrances preventing women from entering.  She was so intrigued by this that she encouraged me to go and give her a full report on what I had witnessed.  I was enticed.

My stay in Hamburg was short but I did manage to explore the forbidden zone to women.  It did not live up to the hype. It is exactly like the red light district in Amsterdam except it is only a small alley with girls behind the glass.  I didn’t see any guards at the entrances, but it is walled off to keep out of view from the public.  The district it is in is called Reeperbahn, and here you can find plenty of strip/whore houses and street walkers. Reepeerbahn is located next to the St. Pauli quarter which is popular with tourists/backpackers for drinking and partying.

Thailand’s Nana Plaza

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Nana Plaza

My visa in Vietnam had come to an end so I had to leave the best country in South East Asia.  I flew back to Bangkok so I can work my way North.  I booked a hostel far away from Khao San road because I was not in the mood to party. In my search for my hostel I came upon a street with a large unlit sign, it read Nana Plaza.  A friend had mentioned this place to me but during my initial stay in Bangkok I had no desire to visit it.  This time my hostel was a block away so fuck it why not.  I had time to kill anyway.

I returned later that night and oh man this place was something else.  This street was lit up like the Vegas strip. Everyone on this street were either prostitutes or clientel.  There are the few curios minds like mine who are venturing these streets but unlike Amsterdam this did not appear to be a huge tourist attraction.  This place is strictly business, you came here for sex, because “she will love you very long time”.

Unlike the other places I visited, the clientele here was much older.  To be more specific, older white guys.  These fuckers are everywhere, with whores half their age. I went through 3 phases of emotions:

  • Disgust: Bro these girls can be your daughters and for some of you, your granddaughters! The fuck is wrong with you? You old perverted fucks!
  • Humor: Hahahahaha you are about to get fucked by an old wrinkling dick.  Can he even get it up?  Oh man this is so gross it’s funny.
  • Sadness: Fuck, you girls are probably part of the sex trade and are not here out of your own will.  These old fucks are probably here for a reason we don’t see on the surface. Perhaps it is loneliness. For the first time I saw men paying these girls for their time.  They were out on dates and having casual conversations.  Sure the sex probably came later, but unlike their young male counterparts in Amsterdam, for these old blokes it was more than just sex, it was the pleasure of human company from the opposite sex.  At their age there isn’t much to look forward to but death.

I shook off my emotions and continued to explore.

Walking through the plaza the girls are more aggressive than others I had encountered.  They were constantly waving me over, blowing me kisses, showing me nipple, grabbing me and doing ungodly things with their mouth.  I played it cool of course, nodding no thanks to each and every one.

I wandered into one of the brothels where I was greeted by a hostess who sat me down.  In order to stay I had to purchase a beer, so I ordered the cheapest beer they had, good old Chang.  This place had a similar layout to a strip club with a stage in the center.  On stage were several girls with numbers pinned on their bra.  They moved around the stage like one of those pre-made sushi restaurants where the food revolves around a massive table.  Hmmm let’s see? Oh this one looks good. I’ll fuck this one.

The gentleman next to me had selected a number and the hostess brought the girl down to his table.  After a few minutes she brings the girl a drink. The gentleman perceives to pay. I can only assume a drink for the girl is mandatory for her time to talk to you.  Cheeky cunts eh.

After minutes of conversation or negotiation, they strike a deal and the gentleman disappears with the girl in hand behind some curtains.  Finished my drink, waved at the hostess who gave me a disappointed look for not ordering a girl, and took off.

By now you are probably wondering if I paid for sex.  I mean I must have after visiting these places right?  Wrong! I did not have sexual relationships with any of these women.  Man I’m starting to sound like good old Bill but unlike the 42nd president I’m telling the truth.  Hookers simply aren’t my thing, for many more reasons than the fact that I’m cheap.  If hookers are your thing, that’s cool, I’m not judging, I just ask to please do it in a legitimate place otherwise you are contributing to a much larger darker world of the sex trade.

Well that’s about it.  Like I said this was only a glimpse into this world.  I wish I could give you guys more insight but I dare not go any further in my research.  However, if you dare dive further into this world there are plenty of books and documentaries out there.  I’ll let you do your own research.

Till next time fellow travelers.

*photo cred for main photo: Rebel Circus,

Hostel Etiquette

Hostels are one of the cheapest forms of accommodations when you are traveling.  My favorite thing about them is the opportunity to meet so many different people from all over the world. Hotels, Airbnb or couch surfing don’t present this atmosphere as well as hostels do.

In a hostel everyone is in the same boat, traveling on a budget.  It’s a great place to establish some serious friendships and meet some interesting people.

When staying in a hostel there are universal rules that everyone should know just out of common courtesy, but of course there are those who are habitual rule breakers, or they were simply raised by wolves.

#1 Respect for Space

Hostels can usually be pretty crowded when staying in a dormitory. Space becomes even more limited when there is a lack of storage in the rooms, therefore forcing everyone to keep their belongings on the floor.  There is a simple solution for this, maintain everything in your bag and place it under the bed to allow room for walking.  Don’t be the person that has clothes thrown everywhere forcing people to tip toe around the room to avoid stepping on your clothes.  Ladies, I’m looking at you, for you are the biggest offenders of this crime.

#2 Noise

This is the mother of all fuck ups.  Some people seem to care less about the noise they make in a room they share with 10 other individuals.  If someone is sleeping you should be respectful and minimize all noise levels, even during daylight hours.  This is why hostels have common areas to chill at.  Now if you are staying at a party hostel you can almost throw this rule out the window, almost.  I don’t know about you guys but I’m even more of a ninja when I’m drunk, but if you are staying at a party hostel you paid to have a great time, not to sleep, so you can’t really complain about noise.

#3 Packing

If you are leaving in the ass crack of dawn don’t be a douche and pack your bags minutes before leaving, you are disturbing your fellow hostel mates. Be a nice cunt and pack your bags the night prior.

#4 Sex in Hostel

Ok ok so we have all been guilty of this, including myself (sorry bro sleeping right above me).  I mean when shit gets hot and heavy all fucks go out the window, but I’m here to tell you that fucks should be given. Karma taught me a valuable lesson, hearing others have sex is quite traumatizing, so do us all a favor and take it to the bathroom, common area, rooftop, park, alley, ocean, stairway, anywhere but the hostel room.

#5 Hygiene

I get it, you are a wanna be hippie and want to live that lifestyle to the fullest even though you have wealthy parents.  I guess you want to know what it feels like to live with close to nothing, be a minimalist, experiment with drugs, have an expensive organic diet, and not shave.  This is all cool with me bros and ladies, do you, but for the love of Zeus take a fucking shower.  You are staying in a hostel dormitory that usually has little ventilation so that means everyone can smell your nasty ass.  Even the true hippies from the 60s that originated in Haight street in San Francisco knew the importance of healthy hygiene and showered often.  You choose a healthy lifestyle by going vegan, well guess what, good hygiene is a major part of that.  We all know you can afford a bar of soap cause you’re buying craft beers from the shop.  Oh and guess what?! There is organic soap free of chemicals! We truly are living in the future ladies and gents.

#6 Theft

I have been fortunate not to have anything stolen from me throughout my stays in hostels, but my friends haven’t been so lucky.  Look, we are all in the same boat, just don’t fucking do it, don’t be an asshole.  There is no bigger asshole than thy who steals from his fellow travel mate.  I’m pretty sure this is the 11th commandment.

#7 Cleanliness

Hostels are typically not the cleanest, especially the cheaper ones since they mostly rely on volunteer staff, but hey here’s a genius idea to having a clean environment, PICK UP AFTER YOURSELF AND CLEAN YOUR FUCKING MESS.  The staff would appreciate it and so would your hostel mates.  Once again don’t be an asshole.

I’m drawing a blank right now but I’m sure there’s more.  Remember don’t be an ASSHOLE and follow these simple rules or Zeus, Allah, Jesus, Buddha, or John Cena, will smite thy.

Safe travels cunts.

The Greatest Hug

Let me tell you a story.  Like any great love story this involves a boy and a girl, but what makes this story great is the risk taken for a chance encounter.

In a Galaxy far far away, on a planet called earth a young boy was enduring harsh training in the scorching lands of Georgia to become an instrument of death.  Meanwhile at the same time a young lady was enduring harsh training in the land of Texas to become an instrument to save lives.

Two individuals with two different missions who shared a love for each other, but were separated because they had decided to answer their country’s call.

For four months the only form of communication was through hand written letters.  By this point the sorrow of missing the other person was so great that the boy decided to take a huge risk.

During Airborne school (where they teach you to jump out of planes) he saw an opportunity to see the girl he loved.  It was a small window, with a huge risk, and minimal room for error

For the first time during his training he was allowed to have a weekend off, Saturday and Sunday.  He would be released Saturday morning and would have to be back Sunday evening right before dinner.  He was ordered to stay within the city limits and by no means could he leave the state.  If caught severe punishment would ensued and his career to join an elite group of men would be over.

The young lady would have the weekend off as well, but she would have to be back later that evening.  If everything worked out as planned they would have maybe 8 hours together.

And so the day came.  The boy had everything booked and packed the day prior just like they had taught him, to always be ready to move at a second’s notice.  Upon release he did not run but walked with a quick pace as to not raise suspicion.  He grabbed his small backpack and rushed to the airport which was an hour and a half away.  The whole time he kept his head low and avoided anyone in uniform.

Traffic was good and he made it to the airport on time.  Plane was on time and departed on schedule.  He landed in Atlanta and rushed towards the arrival gate.  Till this point Aphrodite was on their side till out comes his phone to contact his love but nothing, no missed phone call, no text, no voicemail.  His calls and text messages go unanswered.  She should have been released by now.

On his way to the hotel he finally receives a message.  The instructors were delaying the release and had threatened to cancel their weekend pass.

Fuck.

He can sense her frustration through her messages, and he too was frustrated, but he stayed hopeful and told her everything would work out.

Two hours after the original release time, they were finally let go.  She raised to downtown San Antonio.

He waited for her at the hotel entrance anxiously waiting for her to show up, and then finally it happened.  Imagine this scene happening in slow motion because this is how he remembers it.

She gets out the cab first looking in the direction he was not facing.  She turns her head towards his direction with her brown hair flying through the air seemingly missing her face.  She sees him and a frown turns into a smile.  She runs towards him with watery eyes and he catches her in his arms and an unforgettable hug is forever etched into his memory followed by a kiss that will last a lifetime.

At that very moment their world was complete and everything around them had vanished.

At that moment he thought, this is it, I’m never parting from her again.  Unfortunately, it did not work out that way.  He parted from her 3 more times on deployments, and finally several years later life decided that this love story had to end.

Ultimately they spent maybe 6 hours together with a cost of around $800 USD in cab rides, plane and hotel fare.  Was it worth it?

ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY

So why do I tell you this story?  Well first of it’s a great fucking story.  Secondly to encourage folks to take risks, it’s so fucking worth it even if it doesn’t work out in the end.  It will take you in many different directions you never thought were possible.  Shit, you might find yourself globetrotting hahaha!  Like the Amalfi story, my friends told me to take the risk because it would make for an interesting story and they were right. Hmmm, maybe I should write that story too (insert pondering emoji here).

EXCLAIMER: In no way was this story told to rekindle anything with the ex.  Don’t get shit twisted people

 

Land Down Under Pt. 2 (Exploring the East Coast, Byron, Nimbin, Gold Coast, Noosa)

After 5 days chilling in Sydney I began to move up the east coast.  My fellow mate and another American decided to cruise up in a four-wheel drive, for it would be the cheapest method of travel. Our first stop was Port Stephens.  We took a dip, ate lunch and continued to drive North.  I was excited for this portion of the trip because it was my turn to drive.  Driving on the left side of the road is a mind fuck, but after an hour I was comfortable.  My copilot did have to remind me to go left around the roundabout.  I probably would have crashed if it wasn’t for him, for my mind constantly drifts when I drive and I get lost in the music.  Most times I don’t even remember getting home.

Port Stephens
Two Americans and an Australian at Port Stephens

Our next stop was Port Macquarie, or McFlurry, as we pronounced it.  This small town is located at the mouth of the Hastings River in New South Wales.  The views from lighthouse were amazing.  One can easily get lost in thought staring at the view.

Port Macquarie
View from the light house

We continued to move north to the tunes of Johnny Cash and CCR.  Daylight was evading us so it was time to find a camp ground and rest for the night.  I can’t remember the name of the campground we stayed on, but there was a beach nearby.  Prior to bed we took a dip and enjoyed the sight of an overcast sunset.  The mixture of colors in the sky encouraged reflection ones more.  Standing in the ocean at sunset looking at a storm in the horizon approach us is like something out of a movie where the protagonist awaits valiantly for the troubles ahead.  Unlike the movies this protagonist had no troubles awaiting him, instead he stared into a storm of the past and all he could do was smile.

Our next stop was Coff Harbour home of the Big Banana.  Pretty cool spot to check out, it’s a tiny little attraction perfect for kids.  Our time was limited so we race on to Byron Bay.

Byron is an absolute fucking dream.  Not only is the beach fucking awesome, but its hippie vibe is very welcoming.  Yes, it is a huge tourist attraction but this place is still great.  This is my favorite place in Oz, I could live here for a couple of months.  Memorable moment of Byron was swimming in the ocean while it rained.  Water coming from below and above reminded me of Forrest Gump, “it even came up from under you”.  About an hour away is the small town of Nimbin, a hippie haven where we saw Tijuana Cartel take the stage.  If you are looking to partake in smoking the peace pipe, this is the perfect place to do it.  Unfortunately, my photos of Byron our stuck in my not-charging GoPro but he’s a picture of Ben approving the message.

Ben-Taco Message

Byron Bay was the last stop for me and my companions.  I would continue the rest of my trip solo.  My next stop was the Gold Coast.  I was not impressed by the Gold Coast.  The beach was long and endless, but it lacked the aesthetics of Byron.  For a place deemed surfer’s paradise, I did not see anyone surfing, although there were plenty of waves.  Its downtown area is geared for drinking so the night life is pretty good.  The beauty about backpacking is that every day is the weekend.  A good time can be found any day of the week. I stayed at Surfer’s Paradise hostel which is good, but nothing to brag about.  I did meet a cool couple here whom I ended up drinking with.  Just another cool story of two travelers who met and vibe very well with each other so they decided to travel together.

I decided to follow the advice of my mates and skip Brisbane, and head to Noosa.  Noosa is gorgeous. The main beach is crowded, but if you take a short coastal walk not only will you enjoy beautiful scenery, but you will end up on an empty beach.  I was pouring sweat from my run, so I jumped right into the ocean to cool off.  Another place I could definitely live, but more of a summer getaway.  Unlike Byron, Noosa contains a yuppie atmosphere with homes ranging in the multi millions.

Noosa-Private Beach
My private beach in Noosa

I stayed in Nomads, which is a party hostel.  Living conditions were good and pretty standard for a party hostel.  I was bunked with a group of Irish folks who were way older than me.   I could understand the ones who were living in Australia but the one that was visiting was a different story.  I forget how strong the Irish accent can be, holy shit I could not understand this cat.  I like this group of people, they were very welcoming and told me stories of when they were young backpackers.  They admired what I was doing and encouraged me to keep going.  I left the next day with a neck pillow as a gift, and words of wisdom, “May the road rise to meet you and may the wind be always at your back”.

The Land Down Under – Sydney

Sydney is a great and beautiful city with lots to see.  I tend to compare every city I visit to San Francisco.  To me San Francisco ranks number one, but of course this is a bias opinion since I grew up in the bay.  However, every traveler that I’ve met who has visited the states ranks San Francisco as their favorite American city.  Like any city SF has its flaws, but it is the cultivating cities that make up the bay area that make it a great place to live.  Similar to home, one can escape Sydney and head over to Manly for a more relaxed vibe.

Walking through Sydney it’s tall buildings resembled those of the skyscrapers from back home.  As I walked from the ferry station to Bondi beach I stumbled upon many different districts such as the gay district on Oxford street.  I could have easily mistaken this area of the city with that of Castro in SF.  As I escaped the financial district of the city I entered a posh district, once again on Oxford street.  A series of suburban homes followed before I hit the infamous Bondi Beach.  Bondi did not strike me as an impressive beach and had more of an industrial feel causing it to lose its charm.  I suppose the hype over the beach also did not help, still this beach is better than anyone we have back home simply because you can enter the water without risking hyperthermia.

bondi-artwork
I did however find this remarkable (Bondi Beach artwork).

What I was looking for in Bondi I found in Manly.  Manly beach in my opinion is greater than Bondi and delivered the beach town vibe that I was looking for.  Regardless of what I say you should still visit both beaches and form your own opinion for I have encountered mixed reviews amongst fellow travelers.  I visited Bondi against the advice given to me by my fellow mates who said the beach was filled with tourist and not worth my time.  They forgot I was a tourist and wanted to do touristy things.  My advice to you is to always visit the major touristy landmarks of any new city you are in.  Don’t be that retard know it all hippy traveler that is to cool for that.  In my previous travels I was advised against Oktoberfest in Munich by fellow travelers (the retard hippy) and locals because of the same reason, “it’s too touristy and crowded”, my response, “ummm, I’m a tourist and I fucking love crowds”.  I had a great a time at Oktoberfest by the way.

In both places you’ll find several shops, eateries, and watering holes, but be warned Australia is not a cheap place to visit.  Unlike my Europe excursion, I actually find myself in the kitchen prepping meals.  I can definitely afford to eat out in Oz, but not if I want to make a year of traveling a reality.  I do enjoy the curious eyes of my fellow backpackers as they assume I am cooking for two and are left surprised when I consume the entire meal.  Typical American and his large servings.  Actually it’s just me, I’m a fat ass.

There were many highlights to my Sydney trip such as attending Field day and watching Chance The Rapper and Childish Gambino perform sick sets, two artist who have rekindled my love affair with Hip Hop.  I’m going to tell you about a personal highlight that might not be significant to you.  As I walked through Sydney, carefully choosing busy streets for the sole purpose to stumble upon city landmarks, I stumbled upon one rarely visited by tourist and locals.

ww1-memorial-sydney

From the moment I saw it I knew this building was special but I had no clue what it was till I walked up the steps and asked the guard many his post.  “It’s a memorial to the Australian soldiers who fought and died in World War 1”.  The inside was small and circular with a statue of a fallen figure drenched over a sword.  On the hollowed parts of the wall, battles the Australians were involved in were carved into the wall, with Gallipoli being one of the most famous.  It’s easy to forget that such a small nation who was just formed in 1901 was involved in such a large war.  Since then our Aussie mates have fought alongside us in every major conflict.  Let us not forget these top blokes.  Till Valhalla mates.

fallen-on-sword

I was fortunate enough to be in Sydney for NYE.  Entering the new year in a foreign city watching the fireworks from underneath the Harbour Bridge I stared at the Opera house with a smile on face knowing it was one of many to come.

Cheers! And safe travels friends.

World Travel Itinerary

Just a rough idea of my plan to travel around the world.  4 days into Sydney and the plan is already changing, which I find is the best way to travel.  It’s good to be prepared but you have to let some of the pieces fall where they may.  (photo credit: @worldtravelfans) 

*get Vietnam visa online

*look at hostel bookers.com

Australia

Cheap Airlines: Tiger Airlines, Jetstar

Bus: Greyhound Australia Pass

Rideshare: Look at hostel bulletins to hitch a ride with people or look at Kangaride, Jayride and Gumtree

Things to see:

Uluru(Too far, towards Alice Springs), sail Whitsundays, hike the Daintree

Route:

  • Sydney – 3 – Opera house, Harbor Bridge
  • Melbourne – 4
  • Sydney – 2
  • Byron Bay – 3 – Aquarius backpackers hostel
  • Gold Coast – 3 Surf N Sun Hostel
  • Brisbane – 3
  • Whitsunday – 3
  • Magnetic Island – 3 base hostel
  • Cairns – 5 – Gilligans hostel, Great barrier reef, Kuranda Rainforest, mission beach, crystal cascades

Total days = 29

Philippines

  • Boracay – MNL beach hostel
  • Cebu

Thailand – must have passport at all times (law)

Bangkok

  • (5) NapPark hostel

Ayutthaya – Ancient City

Phitsanulok

Chiang Mai

  • (4) Spicy Thai hostel
  • Songkran Festival Thai new year, water fight (13-15th April) originated here

Chiang Khong

  • border with Laos
  • purchase 30 day tourist visa here, $30-$40 bucks

Laos

Houay Xai

  • Bokeo Nature reserve

Luang Prabang

  • (5) lots of shit to see here

Vang Vieng (4)

Sakura Bar

Vientiane – (5) capital city, visit Vietnam embassy here to get visa.

Tha Khaek

  • Do the Thakhaek loop on motorbike if possible. Takes 3 days but preferably do it in 4 days
  • Phou Hin Boon National Park
  • Konglor Cave
  • Tham Nong Pafa Cave

Savannakhet

  • Second largest city
  • Museum on dinosaurs and unexploded bombs from Vietnam War
  • City host many festivals (look them up).

Ao Nang, Krabi – Slumber Party hostel

Koh Phangan – The Nomad House

Ko Samui

Ko Phangan

  • Hat Rin, full moon party

Ko Tao

Krabi

  • Popular beaches – Ao Nang, Tang Sei, Rai Leh

Ko Tarutao National Marine Park

Vietnam

Dong Ha

  • A day is recommended here

Hue

  • Ancient city
  • Hue Citadel
  • Emperors tombs
  • Pagodas

Hoi An (4)

  • Riverside town
  • Party town
  • Beach is not far

Nha Trang

  • Backpackers house hostel

Dalat (4)

  • Lakes, forest and waterfalls (outdoors)

Mui Ne

  • Desert, sand dunes and beach (theres a desert in Vietnam? Da fuck?)
  • Not much going on apparently but great place to unwind. Probably will recharge my batteries here and regroup.

Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)

  • largest city
  • Pham Ngu Lao area, good place to find food, sleep, and drink
  • Lots of war sites

Hanoi – Hanoi backpackers hostel

Old Quarter, Hanoi – Central Backpackers

Cambodia

Phnom Penh

Koh Rong – island near Phnom Penh MUST GO

Sihanoukville

Siem Reap

  • Funky Flashpackers hostel
  • Temples of Angkor Wat

Israel

  • Jerusalem – 6 days, Abraham Hostel
  • Tel Aviv – 3 days, Florentine Backpackers Hostel
  • Day trip to the Dead Sea
  • Mediterranean coast
  • The North (???)
  • Petra – get there early, whole day trip,

Greece – Island hopping (link up w/ SF mates)

  • Santorini
  • Ios
  • Mykonos

Croatia – Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb,

Hungary – Budapest

Czech – Prague

Germany – Munich

Spain – Link up with the moms.  Visit Madrid and Barcelona.

FUCK IT I’LL FIGURE OUT THE REST AS I GO

Morocco

Scotland

Ireland

Brazil

Bolivia

Argentina

Chile

Peru – Regroup in Lima.  Spend a month.  Link up with pops

Colombia

Panama

Costa Rica

Cuba

Home (Noooooooo 😦