For a long time I was mystified by the idea of backpacking and long-term travel... and I decided to finally take the leap! I lived in China for 20 months. My contract ended on August 31, 2012 which marked the date I embarked on a journey unlike any I've done prior.
I'm now living back home in Tampa Florida studying for my MBA and saving up for my next big adventure. The plan is to save for a six-month stint that will take me to two continents in which I've never stepped foot in...
Someone wise once said, "It's the journey, not the destination."
"Be curious, not judgmental." -Walt Whitman
October 14th 2013
Oh the irony! It’s kind of ironic that I’ve trotted to the other side of the world to various exotic countries yet haven’t been to the one that’s right next door to my homeland. And if not for the close proximity why have I not been of the basis of FOOD alone. Mexican cuisine has always been one of my top culinary contenders! So, it was time to set sail in search of a plate of tacos to remind me why Taco Bell is merely a façade of what authentic Mexican should be. Vamanos! Despite the catastrophes Carnival Cruise Lines had been involved in over the past couple years, I decided to take my chances AND take advantage of the low prices that were likely a result of all the bad media. Carnival Paradise: Tampa to ... read more
February 9th 2013
The preserved wetlands of Everglades National Park and the island-dotted teal waters of Florida's southern coast represent a labyrinth of adventure full of exotic edibles and wildlife. A landscape that truly left us captivated and hungry for more. Florida is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States and the world. With many travelers only experiencing the state's theme parks like Walt Disney World, the preserved southern landscapes of the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park are often overlooked despite being only 15 miles outside the major city of Miami. Everglades National Park is a protected subtropical wilderness in Florida that has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance. Extending from this vast wilderness and into the Atlantic Ocean is a 1700-island archipelago kno ... read more
December 26th 2012
A City of Superlatives Everything's bigger in Texas. I think most Americans have heard this claim before. I was in Texas briefly once, but I don't particularly remember anything that left a large impression. I mean the Grand Canyon is in Arizona and the Sears Tower is in Illinois so... I don't know. None the less, apparently Texans like their "everything" bigger. If there's one place I know that's mastered this Texas mantra, it's Shanghai. After backpacking for three months and getting sick more times than I had planned, I was feeling the dire need to bunker down in a "safe place" for a bit. I wasn't ready to end my travels, but I wanted to be somewhere familiar. So I found myself once again flying to Shanghai, a place where I had friends I trust ... read more
November 13th 2012
Multicolored umbrellas cast shade upon the beach chairs below. A rainbow of frozen beverages, locked into death-grips, are slurped up by their consumers in a race against inevitable melting. Bikinis, speedos, flip flops, sunglasses. Forgotten smudges of creamy sunblock cling to unflattering body parts. Hot sun, scorching sands, boiling sea water. Lobsters turn belly up right in the surf and offer themselves with a side of melted butter... It's officially the first place in Asia I've been where there are visibly more foreigners than locals. As if a virus-induced zombie apocalypse has hit Europe and a lucky bunch escaped only to rot away on this island. And like the doomed populations they left behind, the escapees drag their limbs down the sand grunting for piña coladas instead of brains. But isn't that why we traipse off ... read more
November 7th 2012
"I don't know... I just feel like this place has been written about sooooooo much, you know? Anything I write will sound redundant and cliche," I explain to my friend. My lack of desire to blog about Bangkok is threefold: 1. Commonality Oh the places you'll go! Some of them unique and others not so... Bangkok is the most frequented city by tourists and backpackers in all of SE Asia. It's a central hub, a gateway to the region. And for good reason! Cheap flights and a throbbing city of entertainment and exploration. Great, right? Sure, but let's face it, most who go to Bangkok end up on a preordained itinerary unintentionally yet effectively following in the exact same footsteps of the millions of tourists that traveled before them. It's like an iPod playing the album ... read more
October 29th 2012
Dear travel Lord, There comes a point in a backpacker's odyssey when the knots in his back and dirt under his finger nails come together and demand a higher standard of accommodation. With a bag full of stinky clothes and the anticipation for a soft mattress, I stroll up (going comando no less) to the counter at the Cambridge Swissbel 5-star hotel in Medan. "I have a reservation for three nights," I say as a member of staff hands me a complimentary fresh squeezed pineapple juice. "Of course, sir," the receptionist responds then informs me about in-room dining, the spa, and pool. "Enjoy your stay, sir." Recuperation and relaxation here I come! I arrived in Medan by a small van twisting and turning once again through the mountain curves. My driver and his buddy chain smoking ... read more
October 27th 2012
I wrote a lovely long blog entry on the small town of Berastagi with it's volcano climbing and incredibly friendly people. I also wrote this using an application on my phone. However, I've suddenly and incidentally found myself phone-less. Maybe the monkeys ran off with it. Either way it's my own fault. I left my iPhone out in the open and now it's gone. Stolen. Taken. Never to be seen again. And I'm afraid the same goes for the original blog on Berastagi. Berastagi in a nutshell (because I can't be bothered to write the entire thing again): Two volcanoes dripping with green tower over Berastagi. When the storms roll in, the clouds come pouring over the peaks like a white flood preparing to drown the city. Just after sunset, twilight casts a navy blue shadow ... read more
October 16th 2012
Location: Inner Sumatra. Date: Millions of years ago. What happened? A catastrophic volcanic blast created basically the largest crater on Earth, which over time with the help of rivers and rain became Lake Toba! A large island rests in the middle of the lake, laced with jungle, and home to the friendly Batak people who possess a mysterious past... And that's exactly where I'm headed. So, hop on the back on my motorbike as I zip around this rock and unveil its secrets. A Brief Batak History The ancestors of the Batak people are known to be from Yunan province in China. Legend has it, they arrived in Indonesia by canoe around a thousand years ago or so, and based the style of their houses on the canoe-like shape. Stone Chairs: Just like it sounds. A ... read more
October 8th 2012
The buses are honking. A woman on the overhead speaker lists off scheduled departure times. Incomprehensible chatter surrounds me. Noise has taken over the Kuala Lumpur bus station. Luggage wheels scraping, cell phones ringing, loud voices. I crawl onto my bus, pop in my earphones and let my music drown out the chaos. The bus comes to an abrupt halt and spits me out at 5 AM. It's dark, it's quiet. I'm on the Northern East coast of Malaysia and in the distance the silence is interrupted by the Muslim "call to prayer." I walk down the lifeless streets with the haunting prayers echoing off the houses. Exhausted, I find a bench, fall down on it, earplugs in, and I'm out. Two hours later I jolt awake and have one of those, "Where am I, I ... read more
September 28th 2012
Laying on the concrete at the bus station, watching the clouds roll over the hills. My Malaysian friend, Roy, is on his way to pick us up. It's warm but the breeze keeps the heat at bay. Back in the tropics, the trees look greener, the flowers more vibrant. I see a "Welcome to Penang" sign. Alright, now bring on the food! I was told in Penang you must eat eat eat! So away I chomped! Indian, Chinese, and Malay cuisines all melt together on this island of fusion. The spice combinations will leave your taste buds bewildered and tantalized. If you're feeling adventurous go for the century-old eggs, and the baby octopi. Malay people are very proud of their eclectic food choices and rave about how no where in the world cooks like them. I ... read more