A Travellerspoint blog

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In Preparation for a Trip Around the World

This is it. The trip I have been thinking about doing for a number of years. A trip around the world.

I will leave California in two weeks and two days to travel for about 8+ months around the world. I will be updating this blog as well as sending out mass emails to those you wish to be on my mailing list.

Here is my rough itinerary:
New Zealand: Oct 2 – Nov 16
Australia: Nov. 16 – Jan 1
Malaysia: Jan 1 – Jan 8
China: Jan 8 – Jan 29
Thailand (and SE Asia): Jan 29 – March 20
Bahrain: March 20 – March 24
Turkey: March 24 – From Turkey I will be traveling throughout Eastern and Western Europe by train and hopefully ending my trip somewhere in Scandinavia around June. I don’t have a plane ticket back to the States yet, so my return date is not yet set.

I am currently applying to grad schools for communication studies and will hopefully receive a response from the schools while traveling. The plan is to return from the trip and attend graduate school in the fall of 2007.

My hope is for this trip to be a time of great transformation and enlightenment. I would love to stay in contact with as many people as possible and will try to check my email often.

See you on the road!

Posted by lost again 14:23 Archived in USA Tagged travel world rtw Comments (0)

First Impressions

North Island of New Zealand

semi-overcast

The Story

I am currently in the northern portion of New Zealand, enjoying the beautiful beach town of Paihia. When the winds calm, the conditions are perfect - beautiful scenery and sunny skies. Before arriving at this town I spent a few days in Auckland, the capital of New Zealand. I enjoyed a brief two day stay, wandering around Auckland with a girl I randomly met on a pier, and spending the evening with my couchsurfing host.

This was my first couchsurfing experience and I have to admit I am pleasantly surprised. I was a little nervous going into it and not really sure what the etiquette is supposed to be like, beyond obviously being a respectful guest. But it worked out well.

A few weeks prior to coming to New Zealand I decided to rent a car. It's fairly cheap in relation to the bus prices and it will give me a good opportunity to really explore the the two islands.

The drive north in my rented Toyota reminded me of the Irish countryside, beautiful rolling hills of green grass. A french hitchhiker, Celine, has accompanied me during the drive and provided good company for wandering around the town and countryside, sharing with me about her life in New Calidonia (near fiji). This is the first time I have ever picked up a hitchhiker.

Tomorrow I will leave for the West Coast and then make my way down to the southern portion of Northern New Zealand. I have decided that I will try to work when I arrive in Australia in a month - it will provide a different context to learn in as well as save money.

The Reflection

Travel is such a unique experience. For me, the entire purpose is simply to observe and participate. It's so different from the daily grind, I am not really trying to accomplish anything other than being present to my experiences. My time thus far has preserved a stillness that provides a time for quietly experiencing nature, people, and the inner voice/true self/infinite reality/ (whatever you want to call it). Travel helps me to cultivate a perspective of viewing each experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. The growth is tested in times when difficulties arise - which I am sure will happen when traveling in Asia. New Zealand is fairly easy to travel in, so I am not challenged in many ways, except the first two hours of driving on the left side of the road (not to mention in a big city) - which was so incredibly nerve-wrecking!

I have found that the most important thing I am learning while traveling is to listen within inner voice. I have found that it can guide me far better than any attempt at rationality. I feel more and more that my ways of rationalizing are so often limited. They are utterly dependent upon so limited experience. There doesn't seem to be any logic to how we come to our beliefs. We all have certain perspectives and those shape how we experience reality. We then use that experience to justify our perspective.

I'm uncertain about it right now but it's a topic I want to further consider, as I am embarking on a journey of inner transformation.

Thanks for reading, go well, and don't forget to look and listen!

Enjoy some pictures:
Auckland
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Paihia
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Paihia
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Posted by lost again 19:11 Archived in New Zealand Tagged new_zealand inner_voice Comments (0)

Getting Into the Flow

The Story

I parted with my friend from New Caledonia and from Paihai drove to the north west of New Zealand and then south, passing through and stopping at small beach towns, large forests, and rolling green pasture land.

I met some interesting people along the way. I picked up a hitchhiker along the way. He who spoke of his troubles finding work in the small farming region where he lived and that he was going to look for work in Auckland (the capital). At a hostel/camp site, I I met an interesting English couple who had been traveling for the past 9 months through Canada working on organic farms and are now doing the same in New Zealand. While driving through the Coromandel Peninsula, I met three German girls (Johanna, Julia, and Patrica) at a hostel that decided to travel with me for a few days. They are also spending their time here working on organic farms, which I am finding is a very popular option for free accommodation and about 4 hours of work a day.

It's been such an insightful and joyful experience to connect with these people from different parts of the world and hear their stories. It is opening my eyes to so many new ways of life.

I am currently in Tauranga, New Zealand, a medium-sized town, and fairly busy, compared to the rural places I have been visiting and staying. I met Jason, who is also from California, and is managing the hostel I am staying at. Though it's been enjoyable to interact with all these people from different cultures, it has been incredibly refreshing to be around another American, not to mention a Californian. There is a sense of comfort and ease being around someone from the same culture: you get the same jokes, understanding cultural references, and have a similar communication style.

One of my best experiences thus far was the jam session I attended last night at a local Irish Pub. It was an open mic/jam session format where people would come up and play original songs and others would come up and create instrumental jams. I was fortunate enough to be able to play bass most of the time. It was so rejuvenating to play music, I didn't realize how much I missed it. The musicians were really good and we our music really connected. By 2 am, it felt like we had been friends for years and that it was just another night of playing music at the pub.

The Reflection

Since I have been traveling and interesting with a number of people whose native language isn't English, I obviously am needing to simplify my vocabulary and rate of speech. It's interesting that my process of doing this had made it harder for me to formulate sentences as fast when I am speaking with native English speakers.

I have been very philosophically minded lately. I have been thinking about how our perspectives on life, the way we interpret our experiences, and our values systems are so intertwined. It seems like all three are simultaneously influencing one another to such an extent that we can't look at them objectively. Our values always shape how we interpret our experiences and then shape our perspectives of reality. Right and wrong or good and bad, all of this seems so relative. And how can anyone justify their value system as more morally "right" than another persons?

I was raised with such a strongly sense of right and wrong. I feel that within the past few years this has been feeling less true for me. More thoughts to come on this.

Pictures

New Zealand Coastline
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A Hill I Climbed
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Friend from New Caledonia
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Posted by lost again 14:06 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Finding Traveling Companions

An American, Dutch, English, and German get acquainted

semi-overcast -18 °C

The Story

From Tauranga I traveled onwards towards the highly geothermal-region of Rotorua with the California guy I met in Tauranga. We had a very enjoyable car ride filled with conversation on postmodernism, films, travel, and how surprisingly pleasant it can be to meet someone from your homeland when traveling alone. I spent my time in Rotorua visiting several geothermal sites (see picture below), hanging out with people I met in the hostel, and exploring the town. I parted ways with my Californian friend Jason and moved on to Taupo alone.

Walking Across a Geothermal Pool
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Upon arriving in the beautiful lakeside town of Taupo, I immediately recognized an English women I met in the Rotorua hostel walking down the street. I pulled the car over and ran over to say hello. She (Sarah) was joined by a Dutch woman (Karin) and a German guy (Lukas). The three of us decided to meet for drinks that evening and I left to find a hostel and walk around the town. We met for drinks that night and had a great time socializing. We decided that the next night we would all camp together out by a natural hot spring just outside the town. This was the start of our travel camaraderie.

We spent the next night camping (illegally) at a beautiful natural hot spring along a river. It was so relaxing and enjoyable to stare up at the wonders of the night sky while sitting in a hot spring, drinking beers, and talking about the meaning of life. The next day we took a beautiful hike and relaxed in the tall grass near the base of the mountain/hill (see picture).

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We have traveled several days (about 5) together through the Tongariro national park (some of my favorite terrain so far, see picture) and down to Ohakune where we spent a day relaxing while it was raining out. We then went on to Wanganui where we rented canoes for the day and paddled down the main river.

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Our English friend Sarah had to start heading north but the rest of us would continue south. We had a quite pleasant unexpected experience today. I am writing this email from the home of a family that lives out in the countryside of Plymoth. We were driving on some country roads looking for a place to camp and happened to meet Andy, who was cutting the grass on his property with his tractor. We asked him if he knew of any places we could camp. He warmly welcomed us to stay at his property and even us his barn for running water and a toilet. After setting up camp, we took a hike to overlook the ocean, surrounding mountains, and see the south island of new zealand - a stunning sun set that won't be forgot (see picture).

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The group that has formed has been the most meaningful experience though. We have come so close, we are like family - traveling together each day, sleeping in the same room, driving in the same car. We have had so many good laughs. Our favorite topic of humor is making fun of the stereotypes of our respective homelands. Tomorrow will take a long drive around the southern region of the North Island tomorrow and come back to spend the night again with this great family we met. Everyone in NZ has been incredibly friendly and so helpful whenever needed.

The Reflection

The pace of travel has interrupted my habits of pondering my life experience. I spend so much time trying to intellectually analyze everything, it is nice to take a break from living in my head. Traveling as changed this. I don't have time to read my books on philosophy, nor to write and journal, and I haven't spent much time sitting and reflecting on things like I normally do. I am learning to just be present to my experience and to stop analyzing them.

The travel life is so unpredictable. I never know where I am going from one day to the next. I often don't know where I'll be sleeping, what I'll be eating, or who I will be meeting. Despite the chaotic nature of it, I feel so completely comfortable with it, and in fact really enjoy it! It's one big adventure. I recognize it is such an incredible privilege to have so little responsibility. Also through this process of meeting so many new people, my sense of identity is different. I can be anyone I want to be. I am able to experience each moment with a curious hope, learning from new people and being changed by the landscapes and experiences I encounter. I feel such an openness to learn from and see the beauty in every new person I meet, new place I see, and new idea I encounter.

I have been intrigued by my companions perspectives on life as well as other travelers I meet. Many people I have met from various different cultures seem to share some of the new believes I have been coming to embrace. I find some of my spiritual inquiries into pluralism also shared by new Dutch friend Karin. I have changed so much over this last year of college and following summer. This trip is complimenting my inner transformation in so many ways.

I feel like I have experienced so much and yet I have only been traveling for less than three weeks. I have no clue of how I should get the most out of my travels. So far, I have learned that the less planning I do, the better the adventures. Attempting to make too many plans for this travel experiences can distract from the good that is waiting to be discovered. I think so much of it correlates back to listening to our inner voice of intuition. When we attempt to rely on our logic or rationale for organizing our life experiences, we limit our ability to openly listen to the best opportunities that lay before (though we can't always seem them with our naked eyes). By cultivating silence, patience, and acceptance of the experiences I encounter, I find life to be more fulfilling. So many of the people I have met on this trip seem to believe that everything is meant for a reason in life (a believe I strongly share). There are so many implications to this belief though and it doesn't seem like other people take these into consideration

It feels so wonderful to have travel companions and I can't wait for what tomorrow will bring.

Posted by lost again 02:36 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Too Much To All Take In

rain

The Story

After the first night at the farmer's house, we traveled down to to Cape Palliser at the southern end of the North Island. It was one of the most amazing environments I have ever experienced. I was so moved that right after getting out of the car, I told my friends to go ahead because I needed some time to soak everything in.

Cape Palliser felt like the end of the world. Imagine sitting in tall wind swept grass overlooking a turbulent turquoise sea, sunny sky, jagged lava rock colliding with the ocean, some of the strongest winds you have ever felt, towering hills behind you, sparsely populated little fishing settlements, and a misty cloud layer in the distance that seemed to collide with ocean.

Few people were around and to add an even more striking element, there were seals all along the coast line swimming through the crashing waves and lying on rocks to soak up the sun. You could walk right up to them. One baby seal actually swam towards us, hopped up on the rocks, and sat about a one meter away from us. There were so many seals, that you had to be careful not suddenly hop over a rock and land on one. I almost stepped on a baby seal and was quick to move away when the mother started barking at me.

INSERT PICTURES

The next day we moved on to Wellington, the cultural center of New Zealand, and our last stop on the North Island. Lukas, the German traveler with us, knew a girl we could stay with in Wellington. Upon arriving in town, we found the four of us staying at college student apartments. As the many students had just finished their first year of college, they inspired us to join in the evening celebrations, quite the festivities I must say. Our day time was spent attempting to sober up for the next big night and explore the town in somewhat of a daze. I am often not prone to enjoy such elaborte celebrations and after a few days of so much partying was quite ready to move on - overall though it was quite fun as well as rather stimulating to be with such youthful spirits (not too mention a relief of realization I have matured enough to have no interest in living my life from one party to the next). Our dutch friend, Karin, departed north while my german friend, Lukas, and myself travelled to the south island. We have both missed Karin, she always had a smile on her face, was always ready to laugh at herself for some of her ridiculous actions, and had such a kind spirit towards the world. She will be missed.

The last several days have been spent sleeping in the car after long days of driving through the south island and hiking to the nearest panoramas. It is quite comfortable and cheap to sleep in the car, so it seems as though we might start a pattern of two nights in the car, one night in a hostel. We have seen some amazing landscapes all throughout the south island. Two days ago we saw two massive glaciers situated in the back of mountain valleys. Tomorrow I will be attempting the second largest bungee jump in the world 440 feet - rather exciting I must say. It has been a great joy to travel with my german friend, we get along on many levels and have similar travel interests. Last night we intended to stay in a hostel but it had closed. Having not showered or shaved for several days, we decided to sneak in to take a shower and shave and then made an exciting get away and slept in the car in the town of lake wanaka where we will be situated for about two days.

The Reflection

How does one attempt to approach consistent beauty? The south island has been full of so many diverse environments from galciers, to tropical beaches, snow caped mountain ranges, torquise rivers, peaceful grass valleys, and vast lakes bordered by rocky mountains. Part of me wants to sit in each beautiful location for several hours, just taking it all in, burning it into my memory, and savoring the moment. Another side of me has almost become used to consistently seeing so many gorgeous landscapes and is ready to pass on to the next beautiful location around the corner. How should one approach beauty? Is it to be appreciated only in the moment or constantly remembered? So much of me wants to take these visions with me but obviously the camera does little to capture the feeling of being enraptured by nature.

What role should memory play in our lives? Does memory only detrack from living in the moment? Does it work on automatic or must it be cultivated daily? How often should I immerse myself in the past or is it of little value because it can only become a distraction. Memory obviously forms who we are today but in what ways does it change according to refleciton?

I am consistently moved to embrace an outlook of spiritualistic pluralism as each new encounter seems to teach me about the inability for humans to create an objective perspective. This time of travel has helped me to live from moment to moment because that is all that is existing and real to me. I am moving further away from viewing things as one way or another, good and bad, wrong and right, beautiful and ugly - these binary oppositions seem to be attempts at proclaiming our "great understanding" of the nature while all the while we are so scared shitless of the unknown we hold on to the first "rational" thought that is proclaimed. Everything consists of everything depending on how you look at it and how you look at it is dependent upon what you have come to know. It may seem hopeless to some yet it is inspiring to me. I am trying to no longer worry about disagreeing with people, with attempting to be "right" or "rational", or trying to make "good" choices. I am reminded of the boat keeper in Hesse's novel Sidartha. He was so patient, quiet, ready to listen and learn, and embrace the lessons cultivated within that can be developed through time spent in the quite of nature and in the joy of human interaction.

...but perhaps I have it all wrong, no, actually, it may better be stated I do have it all wrong and that is what may make it all right for my perspective. By recognizing my perspective and value system are limited, I am able to embrace that which precedes my current beliefs in a greater form of truth. I hope to better learn how love is encorporated with learning and with experience, this will be perhaps my next contemplation.

I don't know if more than a few people are reading this but my heart is with those whom I have known over the years and I do appreciate all the lessons others have shared with me.

Posted by lost again 22:27 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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