Monday, December 3, 2012

Castle Herzing

I am lost somewhere inside this castle size - house in Bavaria! 

  This lovely abode is what I've dubbed Castle Herzing. It has three stories plus a basement and  measures approximately 4,300 square ft.. Each floor is a home all of it's own. All are complete with their own bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, etc.. Who could need all that space? Well, this grand structure serves as residence to my aunt, uncle, grandfather, cousin Michael, his wife and their two children (the Herzings). My cousin and his wife have the top floor which is a completely brand new build out. Even as I write this there are a few renovations still in the works, such as the permanent addition of a walkway from outside to their separate, private entrance. My grandfather just moved in on the second floor and my aunt & uncle occupy the ground floor. I've been visiting all of them for the past two weeks now. I wonder if they would notice if I never left Germany and instead made a space for myself in the basement. Hmm???

Friday, November 9, 2012

Munich & Meandering: Motion Helps With Motivation

Yesterday I went for a stroll in downtown Munich. (Yep, more pictures... click HERE).

Anyway, I'm not exactly sure what I want to do with myself lately. I have a lot of ideas and yet nothing sounds good. Plus, if I think about all the steps involved I get overwhelmed and wonder just how am I going to do anything. 

Sound familiar? Do you search for your missing inspiration or wallow in self criticism sometimes? Do you find yourself in a vicious circle ever? I can relate. 

While meandering in Munich, I was reminded of something that I think can help and I feel the need to share. "You gotta give action to get action". That's one of my favorite quotes from the movie Swimming Sharks. Basically, this means nothing happens from sitting around and thinking about it. Action leads to action. 

The other day my cousin asked me to join him for lunch and I dreaded the idea of finding the city center on my own. It's three connections involving one bus and two metros. After my recent train trip from Bucharest I don't blame myself. That trip has had overlapping affects on my mood lately. (Or, I've allowed it too). Nonetheless, I did want to see the city and I am here to visit with him so I knew that it was just a matter of overcoming my emotions and taking one step at a time. If I got lost, was late, had to pay for a cab or had to try to ask someone (with my limited German) for directions, or whatever shit-case scenario I could think of, I might be inconvenienced and I might feel embarrassed but that's about it. I know these thoughts are just my minds silly way of trying to talk me out of doing things.

Whenever I get caught up in milling over the details of things I find it can be depressing. There is nothing  wrong with careful thought and planning. However, over analyzing can lead to indecision and inaction. My advice (note to self), for what it's worth, if in doubt, stop thinking so much, pick something to do and do it. If you change your mind great! Just keep moving! If you need a break sometimes, that's alright too. Take one by all means! Just remember if you find yourself sitting with your thoughts and your mood is slipping the cure is ACTION. Pick something and start moving again! Long story short: I'm still not sure what to do with myself but the more I'm doing and less I'm dwelling the better I feel. 

I met up with my cousin yesterday. We had a great lunch. Then I went for a stroll in the city center. I did a little shopping at the mall (the Christmas decorations are up already). After he finished work for the day we met up again and we went to the gym. With such a busy day I never had time to sit with my thoughts. I was in motion! 

By the way, I was on time and didn't get lost on the way to lunch. I just followed the directions, one step at a time, piece of cake!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Trains, Pains and Uncomfortables

Peregrination - Europe - 2012 update:  

  Being an avid rail passenger, when I decided it was time for me to backpack from Bucharest to Munich my first choice was of course the train. In retrospect it was not such an ideal choice... 

I just love taking the train ordinarily. So, when the locals in Romania looked at me funny for favoring a long train ride vs. taking a plane (which cost about the same) I didn't think much of it. However, in the back of my mind was the one train trip that I took from Hungary to Germany in 2004 that didn't go so well. It wasn't a complete disaster but it was nerve racking and a serious a pain. What happened was, I went to the station in Budapest about 2 hours early. I found a spot next to the track for my scheduled train. A fellow backpacker and I sat drinking beer and conversing while I wait. Then, some time had past and the train was late. After 10 minutes (from scheduled departure) I began to wonder what was up. Up to this point, I had never know trains to be late (my experience was with Western Europe). To make a long story short the train never arrived and I ended up waiting overnight in the station until the next one arrived in the early morning. I missed all my previous connections and I was never really sure if I was even going in the right direction until I got out of Hungary. The train was also totally run down and had no amenities to speak of. Plus, the toilets were disgusting. I felt really sorry for any women on board that couldn't hold it.

That brings me to present day. When I looked up the schedule for Bucharest to Munich I saw that I would only have one change of trains. Online the connection showing was in Vienna. So, I was getting excited and looking forward to the 25 hour ride. I was picturing conversation and beers shared with fellow travelers on board in the lounge area and soaking in some terrific scenery on what should be a relaxing and pleasant trip. Nothing could have been more opposite from my experience. My first clue should have been when I went to purchase the ticket that the change of trains would actually be in Budapest not Vienna. Of course, I didn't want to let one previous rough experience ruin things for me and I kept thinking how fun the ride would be and that surely things would be better going through Hungary this time. I was wrong! First, the train from Bucharest was fine but no frills. Or if there was anything (such as a lounge car) I could not access it from second class. I was alone in my cabin and being that I left late in the afternoon the sun set early on this leg of the trip and I couldn't really see anything out of the window. Okay, I thought. This will be a long dull journey but at least I'll get there eventually and there's no stress. Wrong again! At about 4am the train stopped in the middle of the nowhere. We all sat on the tracks, in some remote area, which looked like a scene out of some post apocalyptic film. Dilapidated trains were surrounding us on both sides. It was as if the one I was on went there on purpose to die amongst it's confederates. To make matters worse the heat shut off and it was about 0 degrees outside and so it was inside, after about 30 minutes (it also never came back on)! After, what seemed like forever we finally started moving again and I checked the time. It was 6am. Great! I would be once again be stuck in a situation from Budapest trying to get a different train out and wondering about my connection. The biggest issue is communication.  I don't speak Hungarian and the Hungarians aren't learning English at the pace of the rest of the world. So, finding someone to tell me what train to take at what time, what track, etc. is tricky. I finally figured out if I take one headed for Salzburg I would at least be going in the right direction and I could make another connection (an added one from my original schedule) to get to Munich. To make matters worse I was scheduled to meet my cousin in Munich at 17:15. If my train would have been on time I'd have no worries. I was supposed to get in at 14:35, plenty of time to find our meeting place, relax have a beer and lunch, etc. Now I was running a couple hours late and had no idea how long I'd have to wait for another connection that would take me from Austria to Germany. I was hoping my nearly 3 hour buffer from before would be enough to make up the difference. Well, good news. It was but just barely! 

After I got off in Salzburg I went as fast as I could to find the reader board for schedules and noticed that a train was leaving for Munich in 7 minutes. No time to waste! I haled ass with my 40 pounds of luggage in my arms and on my back and just made the connection. Relief, or so I thought. I'll still get in early and finally have that beer! Nope. The train wasn't the express, it made every stop along the way putting me into Munich at 17:20. The worst part was I hadn't been able to update my cousin that I was running late and I was starting to think I was going to end up having to find a place to stay for the night until I could reach him. Yet, another hassle I wasn't looking forward to after what was supposed to be a pleasant trip turned into disgusting, freezing, lonely and exhausting. Well once there, I bolted off the train in Munich and sprinted from track 5 to 20. I was able to make it by 17:30 just as my cousin had decided to leave the station and await a message from me since he figured by then I wasn't coming. Luckily, I spotted him on his way out and after all that we met up. 

11.6.12 Amendment: I can hardly believe I almost forgot to mention the most frustrating portion of this recent trip, which happened at the very start. I somehow boarded in the wrong section of the train and worse I had to get to the correct train-car because the train actually split at one point with one section (the one I was on) headed somewhere else then where I was going! Okay, fine no problem right? Wrong! I could not go through the train to my car because it was on the other side of first class, which was locked to coach. I would have to wait until the train made a stop, get off with all my bags in hand, run to my car and get back on all in a matter of seconds before it took off again! What a trip, glad it's over...

It's nice to be writing about this now from his comfy couch in his cozy apartment and gazing out the windows at the clear blue sky. It sure beats living it. On that note I'll think twice about trains from Eastern Europe that involve long schedules and connections. Basically, if I can't use one like a bus, on and off and without transfers then I think I'll just fly. I'm flying back to Bucharest from Munich to catch my return flight to the U.S. in 2013 for sure!

I managed to get some pictures along the way despite my tension and being beyond knackered. Click this LINK if you want to have a look.    

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In Reality It Is Always Just TV - And Not Reality

Today I am snug as a bug in a rug! Yesterday...

It is true a day can make a difference. Yesterday I arrived in Bucharest. I had a few wrinkles upon arrival. First, I could not get money from the ATM. Not good! I decided not to buy any Romanian currency before hand so I was in a pickle. After calling the bank from my computer, which required me to search the airport high and low for wifi first, I got things sorted and was able to make a withdrawal. Relief, crisis conquered! Next, feeling a bit a drained I decided I would take a taxi instead of the bus to my hostel. I knew I'd probably get taken for a ride financially if i took a cab so I originally planned on using the awesome instructions for the bus provided by Holiday Hostel. However, I really didn't plan on being drained after an ATM ordeal so I decided on plan B. I'd read online about catching a taxi from departures not arrivals as they would be cheaper. So that's what I did but the cabby still ripped me off. He charged the rate from arrivals and then some. I was so grateful just to have made it to the hostel and have access to money that I just let it go when on top of overcharging he then short changed me. Driving for 45 minutes with the "Empty" gas light on was no picnic on my nerves either. On the bright side, I made it! Safe and sound and in no time I had met some people to talk to. One even gave me a beer!

What's has this got to do with TV? Good question! During and shortly after my cash and cab troubles a thought had occurred to me that I wasn't getting all this on film. Now that I've had a night to sleep on it I'm actually glad. Why? Well the answer is simple. I don't find reality shows that entertaining personally and it's not the sort of TV I want to make. I feel good knowing I can share my adventures and misadventures right here on this blog. As for any shows I make I think I like choosing what to film and when, as apposed to trying to catch every moment, under the guise of creating something real. TV isn't reality in my opinion and I feel better about not rolling camera all the time.

On that note today is a new day and I've had an awesome rest. This hostel is amazing. There is just one small issue... I woke up for the day not long ago and the time now is 6PM. I guess I am a bit jet lagged!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Making TV

WVITV © 2012 Created by: Michael J Trojak
Call it TV, call it television, I like to call it TRAVEL VISION! I just completed my latest pilot for a show about hostels called Hostel Review. 

"Hostel Review is as the name implies, a show about hostels and how the host scores them on various factors, including: amenities, feel & flavor, cleanliness, etc. This is the pilot episode where the concept for the show is presented. The idea for this show is to give the viewer the same information they would get when reading the reviews from the hostel/backpacker sites, while putting that into an entertaining audio/visual format."Michael Joseph WVITV

Check it out  on this blogWVITV Shows OR by clicking on the links below...

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for watching!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Prineville Not Nashville and Romania Not RIO (at least not yet Brazil & Tennessee)

I just spent the summer in Southeast Asia. What am I gonna do now? I am not going to Disneyland.

Alright, summer is over! I'm still on the move and life is still showing me who's boss! As usual I've a ton of ideas about what I might do and where I may head off to. Somehow though, I wonder if this is really up to me or if it's part of some plan that's bigger than me? 

Anyway, I was contemplating a trip to Nashville upon my return from Asia. I thought a little southern hospitality from my home country was in order. Also, I was invited further south to Rio De Janeiro. Pretty awesome right? I think so. Well, my itinerary as of now includes neither destination. So, what the heck happened? It's simple really. I can only do so much at one time, "life happens when you're making other plans" and I change my mind often. I'll explain...

While I was in Asia I was considering my options. I had initially planned on more travel throughout Asia but decided Thailand and Malaysia was just right for this trip and a change of pace was in order. Thinking carefully about my budget and what I was in the mood for Nashville came to mind. Okay, I'd fly back into Portland from Kuala Lumpur and take Amtrak to Tennessee. I love riding the train! I would get my southern hospitality fix and I could even head on over to Memphis while I was at it to see all the memorabilia of the King. A rather cool trip in my opinion and certainly in the budget. Oh but wait, I still have Brazil to consider! First of all, I have had South America on my list of places to go for a long time; with Rio being at the top of the list of cities there that I would like to survey. Apart from that, I had an invite which included a place to stay! What to do? This is the part when "life happens when you're making other plans", comes into play. After I got back to the states I wanted to unwind and see some friends. The next thing I know I'm attending a wedding and I hook up with a friend that I haven't seen in around 20 years. She lives in Prineville and came up to Portland just for the wedding. We seemed to have fun together so I decided I wanted to hang out with her more. In comes Prineville. I have not visited Central Oregon much, (if at all) so, I thought it would be a bonus checking it out on top of spending more time with my friend. I was right. I had a wonderful time visiting with her and I really liked visiting the small town life in Prineville. I decided the charm I was craving from a trip like Tennessee was satisfied by this unexpected reunion and unplanned side trip. (Check out pictures of the town and our side-side trip to Reno by clicking HERE). 

What about Rio? This is where changing my mind often comes into play. As much as I still want to go to Brazil and many other countries in South America for that matter; I just felt like a return to Europe lately. Hopefully, I'll be able to take my other friend up on her invite to Rio an other time. As for now...

Romania has come up in conversation a couple of times. Perhaps it was a sign? Besides, I have loved Europe since my first visit back in 1985. In '04 I went back and made my way around to about a dozen countries mostly in the west. I have yet to make my way to that many countries in the east. So, after milling it over I decided Bucharest here I come! My flight is booked for 10.15.12. Lets see what happens from here...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Percy: Imagine - Travel - Go

Inspiration is a pleasant & precious commodity and I've got a new source from which to draw. 

Meet Percy the panda. Percy goes on adventures just like I do. So far he's been to the Old West and Outer Space. Who is Percy? Percy is the brain child of my good friends Kenn and LeeAnne Gibney. 

Alright, I confess I'm not going to Outer Space any time soon but I do love my travels and I am moved by others who are also venturesome and seek to live out their dreams. Percy and his creators are proof that a little imagination, followed up with some motivation and a ton of perseverance can take you anywhere! 

It's my great pleasure to share with you that my dear friends have created and now published their first two digital books (available on! They are creative children's tales, beautifully illustrated about Percy, a Panda with heart and soul for adventure! 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reprieve - Renewal & The Road Ahead

What next? Where to? What to do now?

Questions are looming in my head theses days! Three weeks back stateside and I'm already feeling stir crazy.

Lately I've been dwelling on what I'm supposed to be doing with myself. I forget that my life isn't a checklist it's an open itinerary.

I have a wicked ego that is fighting violently to maintain the life that is safe and familiar to it and the harder I struggle the more it resists. I know it is useless to convince someone of something that doesn't want to listen so why do I try so hard? I'm in charge of my life right? Not my insecurities! Nevertheless, I can't see anything beyond the road that lies directly ahead and sometimes that's just blank and frightening to me.

Since my thoughts aren't serving me productively, starting today I'm canceling all appointments with worry, resetting my brain and muting my ego.

The road ahead is waiting...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Asia Summary 2012: Intense - Educational - An Experience Of A Lifetime

It is the sixth of August 2012. I now have less than 48 hours left before I board a flight headed back to the U.S.. I've been thinking about what to say to people when they inquire about or when I am grilled for my opinion of this & that related to my trip. I imagine the questions: "How was it?" coming in first place and "How did you like it?" being a close second. Not that my opinion even matters it's just rote questioning whenever you've been somewhere.

What I came up with is that it's far more perplexing than whether I liked anything about the people, places and things I have encountered over the past 90 days. During my time here I simply got used to things as they are and accepted them. Lucky for me I've had practice so I am better equipped to do that these days. To try and put it simply, I'd say this journey for me was an extraordinary clash of: like it, love it, hate it as well as come to embrace it. Also, I am sure to reflect, learn and continue to grow from this exploit for much time to come. 

On that note, I'm ready for the next adventure to be much more frivolous! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012


cuttlefish |ˈkətlˌfi sh |

noun ( pl. same or -fishes)
a swimming marine mollusk that resembles a broad squid, having eight arms and two long tentacles that are used for grabbing prey. Its internal skeleton is cuttlebone, which it uses for adjusting buoyancy.
Order Sepioidea, class Cephalopoda: Sepia and other genera.
ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from cuttle + fish 1 .

I ingested one of these things for the first time today (actually I had a few of them) and I didn't even know I was going to when I ordered my meal! Although this thing is sort of weird looking it is tasty. Sometimes it's a good idea to try things with complete blind faith. The dish I ate is called Fried Mee Jawa. Click this: link from to learn more about Mee Jawa! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Car Accident, Salsa Dancing & 86 Stories To The Top Of The World.

Well, my past five days have been quite enthralling! First, I was a passenger in an automobile accident last week. My friends' Benz was the last link in a three Tin-Lizzie like, chain pile-up. Luckily, by the time the middle car played bumper-car boogie with my buddies 1994 Mercedes, it was merely a low impact incident for us. The real loser was the driver at the core, as he got it in the front and rear, both figuratively and literally. Most important though, no one in any of the involved vehicles was injured. Mercedes Benz bumpers are pretty amazing as well, apart from a few scuffs it appears like nothing ever happened.

Later that week I went out to a local Latin club called QBA, inside the Westin Hotel Resort in downtown Kuala Lumpur. To my surprise it was one of my friends' birthday! He kept the event a closely guarded secret. Never mind though, now I can mark it on the calendar for next year! Hours of dancing, towers of beer and a piece of cake, that was my Friday!

Today I took the lift for a ride up and down the Petronas Towers and captured some really jaw-dropping views! 
(Trivia: The Petronas Towers were featured in the film Entrapment and they are the tallest twin towers in the world).    

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Room Service @ Victory Hotel - Fried Meehoon / Bee Hoon Singapore Style

I'm so happy to be spending my final weeks in Malaysia in comfort. I really feel more like a local now having a home base and the opportunity to learn the area from a central vantage point. Backpacking from place to place has it's pluses but when I came to Asia this time I thought I'd do that for a while and then find an apartment. Well, I did not find an apartment this time. However, I did find the hotel I'm at and a huge advantage, that being room-service. 

The menu at my hotel is from a nearby restaurant called Sakura, which delivers. They have Chinese, Singaporean, Malaysian and western style dishes on their menu. A new found favorite for me is Meehoon, click this link: Fried Meehoon / Bee Hoon Singapore Style, for a recipe. It's a delicious light meal made with noodles, seasonings, vegetables, shrimps and meat as desired. When I get back to the United States I'll be preparing this one for my mom to try. She's going to love it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


WVITV © 2012 Photo by: Michael J Trojak

It's a jungle out there! Are you making your way through foliage of life? 

I started a countdown a couple of weeks ago. If I live to one hundred years old, I have 62 years, 1 month, 30 days and so many hours, seconds, etc., until check out time. Put like that, it's a reminder for me to do something with myself. (What? I don't always know).

traverse |trəˈvərs|
verb [ trans. ]
1 travel across or through : he traversed the forest.

We are all just making are way across time, through this life. I try to make my journey and adventure! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


WVITV © 2012 Photo by: Michael J Trojak

I'm not going to write a blog post about how people should be grateful for what they have and make a cliche remark or two about how someone else likely has it so much worse. What's the point in that anyway?  


Monday, July 9, 2012

"TRY" Time In The Mirror

 (photo from Bangkok - interesting the word try was captured - at the time I hadn't noticed)

It has been a full year now since I started my latest odyssey. Life as I remember it then seems like it was just yesterday and forever ago all wrapped up in some kind of weird time-warp. Time is a very interesting thing. The present can feel so surreal, the future so uncertain and the past like a dream. 

I have experienced a lot over the last year. The one thing I continue to work on is being fully engaged in the moment. I think planning for the future and reflecting on the past are both healthy things. However, I don't want reflection to turn into dwelling, nor do I want my planning to become obsessive. Time is our most precious resource and it shouldn't be wasted. That said, I will take the advice from this photo I took recently, while enjoying a moment in Bangkok and always "TRY" to do and be my best.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Have Decided To Live In Malaysia


Yes you read that correctly! Wait... No, it's not permanent.      Skype Emoticons

When I set out on this trip I always kept it in the back of my mind that I might want to settle down over here. There certainly are plenty of opportunities for me to live in Asia. My heart was set on exploring and leaving it partly to chance and partly to how I feel about what I can make of a life over here. Well, so far the past couple of months haven't been anything like what I imagined. Is that bad news? No! It's perfectly fine. I have had one hell of an experience and I'm glad I came. In life nothing really turns out as we imagine it, imagining things is the best way to get started though. I not only got started by I feel satisfied with the outcome and myself for doing what I set out to do. 

As for living in Malaysia, I am thrilled at this point. First, I feel I've placed enough miles on myself and explored enough that I'm ready to chill out in one spot for a while. I'm in a great neighborhood in the city and many of my favorite things to do are close by and easy to get to. So, I secured a room for the entire month and I'm going to mingle among the locals here in Kuala Lumpur until it's time to fly back to the states. Okay, I'm still considering a weekend trip to Singapore but if I go I have a place already set up to come back to. This is my home for the next thirty days!

Skype Emoticons

Travel Lesson 101

Do you like to sit or squat? 

Do you like camping? Would you quit your job and live in the woods, in a tent, without your TV, cellphone, computer, etc.? Relocating abroad is a similar question. 

The lesson: Before attempting to relocate overseas first, know yourself. Also, know what you need and what you want and what the difference is. In addition to that know how much you're willing to compromise. Then go out and explore! 

Bottom line the grass isn't greener on the other side, it's the same green everywhere! What do I mean? Well, take a look at the pictures above. I took these on a previous trip to China in 2006. One is the typical Chinese style of toilet where you squat and the other is a western style toilet which you can sit on. What comes to mind? Are you thinking, hmm that's interesting I'd be willing to try the other kind or are you thinking something else? 

If you aren't intrigued by differences traveling will be tough. If you have dreams of relocating someplace and think all will be so much better because it's cheaper or people are going to be nicer to you just as examples, think again. Life will be different and it's that fact which makes exploration something you need to do or something you need to avoid. 

I've been to and lived in a lot of different places. I love something about them all, even the places I've grown tired of. Something I can say with certainty that has helped me is that I'm willing to try things out because I know what I want and what I need and I know the difference. 

Happy travels!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bangkok Was Buzzin'

WVITV © 2012 Photo by: Michael J Trojak
As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words; above, a photo I took of bees swarming a water lilly in the garden, on the grounds in front of the Grand Palace of Bangkok Thailand. This illustration sums up my trip to Bangkok: a very intriguing, subtly dangerous, eloquent & beautiful, hive of activity that isn't completely understood by this outsider, but nevertheless respected and appreciated.  

I suppose I could go on about the sort of "checklist" of activities I managed to complete or how my first impression of the city was thrown by the sites and smells I'm not used to, but I'd rather not. If you want to know more about Bangkok from this blog have a look at the photos I took in the Photos Tab. I didn't include any description or labels, nor are they in any real order. Flip through the pictures and enjoy their cornucopia of chaotic randomness just as I enjoyed it in person.

Of course, if you really want to learn about Bangkok I recommend a visit!

Monday, June 25, 2012

One Night In Bangkok

Okay, actually I have 48 hours left before I catch a bus back to Phuket.

This is one of those cities that if I lived here a full year and spent my time just trying to see everything, I would only be able to scratch the surface.

It's been interesting so far to say the least. Catch my next post for a recap on what I did and saw here over the past week. Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Are You A F(focused) - A(attention) - N(now) of Life?

WVITV © 2012 Photo by: Michael J Trojak

Do you ever find yourself thinking about tomorrow and not paying attention to the here and now? How often do you reminisce about or dwell on the past? One of my favorite quotes: "If life is a gift, please tell me you kept the receipt", written by yours truly, reminds me how I just don't appreciate the present enough. 

Lucky for me I take time out to travel. It helps me focus my attention on the now and become a  F-A-N of life again. If you want to feel present and alive I highly recommend you pack a bag and hit the road!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bangkok Bound

I'm busing it to Bangkok from Phuket next Thursday. I'm both excited and frightened. I once heard both emotions trigger the same physiological responses. 

Anyway, fingers crossed everything will be fine. It seems no matter how many times I venture off somewhere new, all alone, I still get jitters. So far, I've always come back just fine and glad for the experience. If you ever have doubts about venturing off yourself, by yourself, take it from me, it's better to go and know then to sit and wonder. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Elephant Trekking & Full Circuit Training

Yesterday was my first time. Riding an elephant that is. What a ride! You really have to get up and close to one of these creatures to truly appreciate what a sizable beast this is. To ride one, or should I say hang on to one for dear life while it's moving, is pretty magnificent. It's also, one hell of a workout. While it moves slow, there is considerable rocking from side to side thrust upon the rider. It was worse for me at first because I was tense (unlike my other first time I wasn't drunk). After I got used to it and over the fear of falling off it became easier to go with the flow. Still, after 45 minutes trekking, it feels like every muscle in your body was put to use. I highly recommend the experience and report that it's one hell of a workout! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Address In Thailand - Immigration Wants To Know

Staubi Relaxing By The Pool.

Funny story,

I took the immigration entry card a bit too literal when I arrived in Phuket just a few days ago. On the card it asks for your address in Thailand. I actually don't live in Thailand so I left it blank. Of course, all they wanted was the address of my hotel or wherever I was staying. 

I knew better too. I read about the Thais sending you to the back of the line or refusing entry if you don't fill out the form entirely. Was I denied? Oh yeah! I didn't realize at first what was wrong but luckily I figured it out with a little help. Then, got back in line, after finishing the form (with my aunt & uncle's address). I also signed it like I was supposed to this time. After a couple more minutes in line, I was on my way to "my address in Thailand". 

Below, a few pic's of the house. To see more pictures inside and the neighborhood click HERE or go to the Photos tab. 

P.S. now I'm on vacation!
My Room.
The Kitchen With Breakfast Bar.

The Living Room.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Phuket Takeout Food - Duck Noodle Soup

Yesterday I experienced my first Phuket Takeout food. For the real deal here in Phuket it's a must to stop at a local roadside restaurant. Everything you order will be incredibly fresh!

To see the other photos for this little food trip go to my Photos tab under Duck Noodle Soup.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Travel Fantasy Is Like the Open A Coffee Shop Fantasy

I remember reading some time ago about the reality of opening a coffee shop compared with the fantasy. The gist was, people can't get an accurate sense of what it takes by having a cup at there favorite spot 3 times a week. To truly get a idea of what it's like it would be best to get a job at one (for starters). The same thing can be said about traveling. Sometimes when people come back from vacation they feel that they would like to travel more, perhaps even relocate to the city they were just at and having such a wonderful time there. It seems life is grand. People are friendly. The food was great. The weather was so nice, etc. I call this Travel Fantasy. 

If you want to know what it's like to travel it won't be discovered on vacation. If you think your new dream land is somewhere to move to you might be right but you won't know until your living like one of the locals, which, are not on vacation. Much like learning about a coffee shop by working in one will help you figure out if such a dream is in reality the right fit for you, take traveling seriously, make it your job. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

More Stamps On My Passport - Is It Getting Easier?

I arrived in Phuket yesterday afternoon. At first I felt a little depleted from the flight but then I was replenished by a mini-family reunion. 

Then, I woke up this morning and realized I should share my thoughts...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Luxury For The Backpacker

Every backpacker knows that to keep sane it's a good idea to reclaim some personal space & creature comforts during a long trip. Translation, there comes a time to splurge for a private room and get out the hostel dorms. If you haven't spent all your money at the pub there should be something in the budget left to treat yourself.

I happen to be in luck! First, I am traveling through Asia so the hostels have lower rates then some parts of the world (Western Europe for example). Anyway, I already had a private room back at Paradiso, the hostel I chose as my first crash pad here in Kuala Lumpur due to their reasonable rates. Nevertheless, it was still a hostel and accommodations are basic (read my other post Crashing At Hostels Is Like Camping - Inside The City for details).

So, what's the recipe for luxury for the backpacker? Well, basically add one measure  of privacy, a dash of the comforts of home and roll it up with a budget price tag and you're cooking with Crisco! 

I set out to find my peace & I discovered Victory 2 Boutique Hotel where I then settled in for some pampering. Now, I've got Wifi, my own TV, air conditioning, private bath with soap & shampoo! Throw in a comfy bed with fresh linen every day and clean towels and I call this luxury. Never mind if you stand up and turn around then you've seen the entire room. Size doesn't matter, really it doesn't. Forget about the fact that this room is lacking a window. Don't fret over the fact that the shower, sink and toilet are all sharing the same space. If you are seriously minimalist like me and just appreciate simplicity then some personal space and minimal indulgence is luxury to you as it is to me. 

Check out some pictures of my digs.... 

Thailand In Two Days

In just under 48 hours I set off for Phuket Thailand. I decided it was time to give Malaysia a break so I went online today to book the flight. I went with Air Asia. The price seemed right and they had a flight leaving and returning on the schedule I desired.

I'm visiting my aunt and uncle there, which I haven't seen since 1985. Ah, partial family reunion!

I wonder what Phuket will have in store for me.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Malaysia Likes Master Card!

Quick Tip: Traveling in Malaysia I discovered something. The convenience of credit cards is not so prevalent as I would have expected. This is mainly linked to my budget lifestyle. Hostels require cash payment. When you are able to book with a credit card Visa is not the number one choice. I've also noticed the Master Card logo is much more prominent at restaurants and grocery stores than Visa. So, if you're a savvy traveler like I, and you hope for racking up points on a credit card stick with Master Card in Malaysia. Visa may just not go through. 

As they say... for everything else, there's Master Card! 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Crashing At Hostels Is Like Camping - Inside The City

When I travel it's always on a budget. I'm not independently wealthy, sorry to say. However, I can find ways to make money stretch. One of those ways is looking for dirt cheap accommodations. 

Hostels are one of the most affordable options but cheap comes at a price too. Basically, think of staying in a hostel as you think of camping. Out in the wild there will not be room service. If you want towels, soap, breakfast, coffee, blankets, toilet paper, etc. when you go camping you must pack accordingly. If you want even more such as your own bathroom with a shower, well then, you better bring an RV. Hostels work in much the same way. Now, that isn't to say that you won't have anything provided. Basics at a hostel are a single bed in a shared dorm room. Breakfast consisting of toast and jelly plus juice is also common. Above and beyond that you should be prepared to share a toilet and shower down the hall. You may be given a towel but don't expect it. Forget about soap & shampoo on your pillow! Bottom line you are paying rock bottom prices for a place to hang your hat. If you want all the comforts of home don't go camping and don't travel. Take a vacation and book a hotel.  

My room at Paradiso Hostel in Kuala Lumpur. This is less typical of the room I normally book. Notice that only one bed is present. I consider it a treat to afford a private single room.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Batu Caves Probably = Batu Graves

Yesterday was a reminder just how fragile life can be. Luckily, tragedy was averted when timing probably saved my friend's life. 

My friend Steve and his girlfriend took me up to the Batu Caves here in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. He and I climbed up to the top and explored for a bit while I stocked up on photos. After which, we proceded to make our way back down the seemingly infinite staircase. Just as Steve had reached the bottom, a woman had lost her balance and came crashing right into him from behind. The impact knocked him down the remaining few steps he had left in front of him (luckily it was just a few). 

I was lagging behind a bit and did not see the collision because I spent half the time looking at my feet  while carefully negotiating each step. The incline is so intense that I felt like I would fall right off the hill at any moment. Apparently, that is exactly what does happen to some people. As I gazed up to see how much further I had left I saw the human pile up and realized my friend was part of it. I'm happy to say, at least on this day, lives were spared. Had Steve been higher up that hill it could've meant his life! Anyone would likely crack their head open tumbling down those concrete steps. Fortunately, that wasn't in the cards and Steve walked away. The girl, crying and seriously shaken up did as well. Once I caught up with Steve at the bottom and could tell he wasn't seriously injured I felt a sense of relief but in that same moment I couldn't help thinking how it could have gone much worse. The experience left me wondering how many people call the caves their final destination in life.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Traveling Has It's Advantages.

In a recent post I mentioned not being on vacation. That is because in my opinion full time travel isn't a vacation it's a lifestyle. One, that at times can be just as challenging or more so than any other lifestyle choice.  

Most of us know how to save enough funds to take vacation complete with adventure and or a much needed reprieve from everyday life; all the while surrounded by the familiar comforts of home at a nice resort or hotel. 

What it is to travel means something else. It means removing yourself from what is familiar. It means budgeting and sacrificing comforts in order to learn and grow as a person. Travel also means reacquainting yourself with all the things you thought you already knew through a whole new experience. For example, laws and beliefs are different from back home. The every day things such as crossing the street, getting a haircut or grocery shopping are no longer rote operations performed at scheduled intervals. Everything requires engagement of the brain just like when you learned it the first time. 

So, what are some advantages? 

First off being engaged fully in life is an advantage of it's own! There are many others as well but I won't post about them. I'll let you think about it a little. I will share my favorite aspect... 

If you've planned right, then you will regain your time and it is yours to use how you like. The number one thing I like about travel is not having to give up my time to someone else. For example, this lifestyle choice is one where work is a means to an end not an endless search for a paycheck. Also, it means if you grow tired of a place you move to the next without a lease that obligates you to stay put.  I could go on. Simply put full on travel mode means my time is my time and it's the best part of this way of life. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fast Forward A Week Later - KL.

                                     Vagabond or vagabozo? 

Wow, what a first week!

 First off, I get lost whenever I go out. Sidewalks here just run out all of a sudden every few blocks. Plus, street signs are clearly some insidious eastern plot to drive westerners crazy from going in circles (which they seem to point you in on purpose). There doesn't seem to be a price on a lot of things. For example going out to eat I cross my fingers every time that the bill isn't triple what I expect. When grabbing from the ala-cart it seems they just make up a price when you stop eating. Even when I go to a pub or restaurant with a menu and prices listed I still have to be careful of the old bait and switch tactics usually reserved only for electronics and car salesman back in the states. I nearly lost it though the other day when I went to purchase a beer at a pub called the Library. The menu listed some choices I pointed to the beer I desired and the cheapest price next to it. FYI Malaysia isn't cheap and beer especially is stupid. My order was a 1664, half pint 26MYR (about 8.70USD). Told ya! The shit aint cheap! Anyway, I get the bill (the bar back is also bringing me another beer) and it's 38MYR (you do math) all I know is it equaled me being PISSED! I nearly reached over and chocked the little fucker out. It wasn't until I calmed down and realized that while I had spent 50% more I actually got 200% more for the buck. So, Don't get me wrong deals can be found but it's work. I realized it pays now to double check by having them repeat back to me what they understand it is that I actually want. Dealing with street vendors to haggle a good price over any of their cheap knock off shit is also work and another can of worms all together. I'm staying away from them. There seems to be no good deals to be had. If I truly want something than I'll just have to surrender to paying US prices for it, but only if there is something out of this world is there reason to bother, and that's just not likely from the street vendors. Taxis are another mystery. Every one has a sign on the car saying metered (metered cabs have set and cheaper rates). None of them actually are metered, and talking to the cabbie you find they want about tripple the price for a ride off the meter. Needless to say I've done a lot of walking! Taking the monorail seems okay, but at night it's down right depressing to look at some of the people on there. I don't know if it's that they are poor it's just that they are disgusting with their hygiene. Come on already if you can afford a token for the rail you can afford a little self dignity and put on some clean clothes over a showered body, just my opinion. Poverty is not an excuse to be gross. Otherwise stay home.

Okay, now that I've got that off my chest... I know I've left out a bunch but that's fine. Who reads this shit anyway? I'm happy to say my confidence is building. My learning curve is solid. Also, my attitude is improving. "Always look at the lighter side of your life".

 What's next? I wonder!