Matthew Meeks

Journey of Echoes

Matthew Meeks

This is my creative outlet, my passion, and my gift to those planning life-changing adventures!

What you'll find in my entries: Adventure, humor, realness, information, and motivation!

Someone wise once said, "It's the journey, not the destination."

"Be curious, not judgmental." - Walt Whitman

Asia » Taiwan » Taipei » Beitou April 2nd 2015

China gets a lot of heat in the news these days. If it's not blinding pollution levels in Beijing, it's the protesting in Hong Kong, or the website filtering throughout the mainland. And then there's of course the whole “these islands are ours, not yours” debacle. Whew! So, on that note, what is in fact part of China and NOT part of China? This short-lived conversation with my coworker will help us get started: “Are you staying in China for the holiday?” My coworker asks. “Actually, I'm headed to Taiwan!” I reply. “Taiwan IS China,” she squawks back. Not wanting to argue I say, “Right, then umm, I guess I'm staying in China!” The contestants: The ongoing debate of the autonomous region of Tibet. The slightly confusing Hong Kong debacle with the “one country, ... read more
Street Vendor
Doughy… Flaky...
Pondering off Steam

Asia » China » Zhejiang » Anji May 5th 2014

“Why are you going there? What will you do?” Confused faces with a hint of actual concern seemed to be surrounding me as I told my coworkers I was going to Anji. “Well, there's the mountains, and the bamboo forest, and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was filmed there, ya know!” I responded confidently only to get more puzzled looks... I've come to realize that the majority of Shanghainese locals I meet tend to travel for the status, and are far more interested in following the herds of people to whichever destination is most "popular." I use that term loosely because I've learned that what's most popular isn't necessarily what's the most beautiful or most interesting. Three hours by bus from downtown Shanghai. Three. That's it! You could do this place in a single day, that is ... read more

Asia » South Korea » Jeju » Seogwipo April 8th 2014

“Wait... I don't think they're going to cook it,” I say looking down at the freshly slaughtered sea cucumber we just bought; chopped rings of flesh still wriggling and pulsating on the plate. It was alive seconds ago... and maybe it still is? One of the women gives us a spicy sauce for dipping and some seaweed. We plop down at a table a mere 20 feet from the sea. “Cheers!” we say tapping our chopsticks together and then slurp down a slimy animated morsel... More about the squirmy seaside delights in a bit... Known as Korea's signature honeymoon destination, Jeju Island boasts a giant volcano right in its center and is blanketed endlessly by flowers in the Spring. Charcoal cliffs and jagged formations rule most of the coastline causing waterfalls to pour directly into the ... read more
stone statues
Penis Rock
Soph and Matt seaside

Asia » China » Shanghai » Xuhui March 25th 2014

Most people who share a deep lust for travel tend to be extraordinarily optimistic, especially when it involves an adventure. As wanderers we're open-minded; seekers of the unknown whose thirst for the new and unfamiliar is nearly unquenchable! I admire this optimism. Once a few years ago on an island off Panama's Caribbean coast, my friend and I were caught in a torrential downpour. I was sopping wet, a little cold, and pretty sure my camera was ruined. Yet, it was PERFECT. So perfect in fact that I stretched my arms outward, droplets bouncing off my palms, and I raised my grinning face to the clouds. Without a care, my friend and I casted our drenched clothes aside and plunged into the warm dotted bay. Fast-forward to today. Location: Shanghai. It rained pretty much nonstop, I ... read more
Pagoda in Qibao
canals in Qibao
Guard dog

North America » Mexico » Quintana Roo » Cozumel 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

Asia » China » Shanghai » Pudong 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 and a ... read more
High speed train

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Ko Chang 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
Elephant headshot

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok November 7th 2012

"I don't know... I just feel like this place has been written about so 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
A photo I took last year
Partying in Thailand

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Medan 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," 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 the entire ... read more
Praying statue...
Dingy Medan

Asia » Indonesia » Sumatra » Katembe October 27th 2012

My brain still rattling around in my skull, I stagger out of what should only be referred to as an earthquake on wheels. "We made it to Kutacane," I say with hope as I attempt to see if my brain still works. Another bumpy 45 minutes by van into the wilderness and we arrive in small Ketambe where I drag my numb backside into the guesthouse and begin to find my equilibrium. Oh Ketambe, you little barely-even-a-village tiny unruly place. You're not even on most maps of North Sumatra. Ketambe! Doesn't it just sound wild? Say it out loud... Keh-Tom-Bay. It sounds like a place off the map doesn't it? I hear it and think tribal, African even. And with all the rugged terrain I've endured on various modes of transport to get here I feel ... read more
Tree beard? That you?

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