Tag Archives: Travel

Thoughts in a hotel room in Cebu

1/23/15 Cebu City Philippines

I sit here in my hotel. A couple of days into a work-binge. Days spent resting, nights spent working. Room service and smokes. I will spend another few days doing this, or maybe another week on top of that. We shall see. I haven’t written anything in a while. I’ve been too busy doing the travelling and meeting people. I thought at one point, before I left the US, that I would write about everything that happened. I realize now that was a fools fancy. There are only a couple of stories that stand out now as deserving their own pieces of writing. I will write them, but for now I just relax and think about the Philippines.

I’ve been here for about six weeks now. I have a couple of weeks left on my visa before I need to renew. I’ve spent all of this time on Cebu island, and a large portion in Cebu City. I’ve made friends here, both locals and travellers. Most of the travellers are gone now, and I’m cordoned off and the locals probably assume I’ve left as well.

I’ve isolated myself right now so I can do a substantial amount of work and not be distracted by friends and fun. I think of my friends that I’ve met here. Jelmer, the dutch engineer, who I went through Southern Cebu with and who’s back in China now. Felix, the young Swede, who is back to finish his school. Teal, the Swedish manager, who is back after holiday. Hao, the Vietnamese software engineer who lives in LA, who is down in Australia diving. Maikel, the Dutch tour guide, who is on a Buddhist retreat in either Thailand or Vietnam right now. Shantae, the American diver, who is probably off looking for the next great shark dive. Nana, and Bella/Jaekun who are both back home now. Junior and Phillip, the Philippino couch surfing hosts that I met at a beach party and who let me and my friends stay with them and cooked us food. Keith and Emmett, the Irish backpackers that are now in Thailand before heading to Cambodia and Vietnam. Rafa, the Spanish expat who lives in Malapascua with Joon-Joon who owns the hostel Villa Sandra, one of the coolest places I’ve ever stayed. Shaira and Farieza the former of whom I think is in Indonesia, and the latter who is back home after her brief but tumultuous holiday. I think of my friends and how when you travel you make fast friends, but they leave just as fast. Technology helps, but is no substitute for long slow talks over fast beers and laughter. I could keep naming people for paragraphs, but it would just touch the people I’ve met.

It’s funny how people say travelling changes you. I’m not sure I believe that. I think I’m still basically the same guy I was before, but I have a better grasp of who that is. I find myself not worrying as much about who I am, or what I’m doing. I still worry some, about money, and my health. The money thing is actually one of the primary reasons I’m putting in so much time on working right now.

I know that I’m lucky to be able to work while I travel, as people so often tell me. It’s most traveller’s dreams, but it has it’s downsides as well. Staying up for midnight conference calls while everyone else is at a bar, or a party. Taking a week off to put in 40 hours on a project, and not being able to really let go of things back home. Letting problems percolate in your subconscious so that you can deal with them at a later date. I suppose that these are the realities that we deal with so that we can travel right? I don’t begrudge them, because my work, and the company that generously lets me work this way, make my travels possible.

As my friends enjoy pointing out to me, I’m not good at saving money, but I am good at my work. My skills allow me to continue my travels without having to leave the US with as much money as most people travelling for an extended period of time generally do. I’m grateful for that, and I need to get back to it now. Until later.

Cebu Island Part II

Bohol

The next day, on Christmas day, we went out to Bohol on the ferry, but Dora went off to meet up with a friend. It was pretty empty in Cebu on the way, especially compared to the madness of Cebu coming up to Christmas Eve. We stayed at the Tr3ats in Tagilarund (capital of Bohol), which was the same hostel we stayed at in Cebu. Till, Hao, Maikel and I arrived and woke up the other person in the dorm. A traveller named Vandana. We went out for food. Some of the only places to find food in Tagilarund are at the malls. Later we found out that there is some decent street food near the port, but not really in the rest of the city. That night, Christmas night, on the TV there was Frozen. I love that movie and own the soundtrack, so I started singing along. Louder and more effusively as there were more drinks had. The rest of the night was spent talking, drinking, and watching the stars.

I did very little the next day. I slept in and almost went to the beach, but didn’t. The next day or so I ended up at Alona Beach with Thomas and Felix, the Swedish guy that I might have mentioned earlier. We swam, and had some drinks and it was good times.

So it was right before New Years and everyone had plans except for Maikel and I. Felix had invited us out to meet up with him in El Nido, and Farieza and Shaira were there as well. It sounded fun, but there was no available accommodation and the tickets were a little pricey. After much waffling we said fuck it and booked the tickets. We high fived, and then ten minutes later someone asked us if we had heard all boats off the island were cancelled because of the typhoon. I believe our reactions were to swear and laugh. Yo get our refunds we had to go out in the storms and go to the pier, then wait in line for hours at the airport. It took almost the whole day. So after the next day the boats were cancelled again. The typhoon was coming and everyone at the hostel was stuck on the island just like we were. Some people were bummed, but as I always say when life gives you typhoons make TYPHOON PARTY!!!

We grabbed a huge amount of alcohol from the corner store, and waded through all of the rain that was already piling up. The hostel had BBQ in the evenings out back so food was taken care of, pay no attention to the plastic they use to start the fire. A few Aussies apparently had the same idea and brought a few more bags of booze and by the time everyone was out back it was maybe twenty of us. The party was a ton of fun, but it was cast in perspective the next day. We had been on the edge of the typhoon that hit Bohol and only had some light flooding and strong winds and lost power and water for a couple of days. There were about 140 dead on the island, bridges were down, houses were destroyed, and there was flooding in all of the rivers. To put it mildly we all kind of felt like assholes.

The boats were cancelled the next day and we were pretty sure that we were going to be spending New Years on Bohol. Maikel and I were OK with it, because when the boats were going again there was maybe a half kilometer line for tickets in the sweltering heat. We weren’t going to wait in that. Fortunately for us our friends Nana and Bella were already in line and got us tickets. We were set to go back to Cebu City for New Years. It wasn’t El Nido, but a sight better than Bohol.

We got business class tickets because that was all they had, and we got back to Cebu in the afternoon. Everybody ended up bailing except for me and Maikel. We met back up with Dora, and her friend. We hustled together more people from the hostel and were going out maybe 12 deep when we hit the bar district in Cebu. The bars in Cebu are not very big, and were all pretty full when we got there maybe an hour before New Years Eve. Corralling that many people is also inherently difficult. We ended up, at the recommendation of our Russian friend we met in Bohol, just grabbing some brandy, some mango juice and some cups and just going to the main square in Cebu uptown and hanging out and watching the fireworks. The fireworks in Cebu on New Years are impressive. We were in the center of Uptown, so some large buildings blocked some of our view, but you could still see a ton. Sitting on the grass around the giant Christmas tree was a great way of ringing in the New Year.

Malapascua

Maikel, Dora, and I had decided to go up to Malapascua, and one of the Americans that we went out with for New Years was heading that way too. Shantae was a backpacker/diver from Utah, and was going to dive with the Thresher Sharks. Malapascua is one of the only places to dive with them in the world. Maikel was a diver too and was psyched. Dora and I were not divers, and I was just looking forwards to some drinks and some beach. So we took the bus at like 5 in the morning. I think Maikel enjoyed waking me up much too much. Shantae, me and some other people from the hostel had been up drinking until like 2 or 3. I was not bright eyed and bushy tailed to put it mildly.

We took the bus to Maya, then the boat to Malapascua. The day was dark, and the water was rough, so we made it on the last ferry going out and it was pretty wet and very up and down on the way there. It is worth noting that this was the time that I decided to get a dry bag. A dry bag, for our friends that aren’t aware, is basically a bag made out of rubber that is waterproof and airtight. They are popular with divers because you can drop them in the water and they generally float because of the air trapped inside. My bag was soaked. This was mostly my own fault because the captain had told me that putting the bag below decks was going to be drier. Long story short, get a dry bag. They’re awesome. So we got to the “Pier” in Malapascua, but it was just a beach. They laid down some boards for us to walk to, and then we were on the beach. There are no cars on Malapascua, so you get around by walking, or by hiring a motorbike, which comes with a driver (20p/person). If you have two bags being on the back of a motorbike is a pretty tight fit. We stayed one night at Thresher Cove. It was a beautiful resort, and one that had dorms. The dorms were thin mattresses in a concrete room, but it had a private beach, a pool, and was meticulously maintained. It was a bit outside of the village though. We took it pretty easy that night and the next night, on recommendation of the resort, we went to Villa Sandra.

Villa Sandra was probably my favourite hostel I’ve stayed at. Simple, inexpensive, right in the village, and the people were amazing. It rained for two days, but then the sun came out. The beaches in Malapascua were some of the nicest I saw in the Philippines, and they were pretty empty. The island is still primarily a place for divers, so during the day most tourists are out diving. The nights were filled with drinking, talking, and the occasional bout of karaoke in the village. We all spent several afternoons at Maldito’s, a bar with the IQ special. 60p for a single rum and coke, 50p for a double, and 40p for a triple. It led to fun times, and harsh mornings. Malapascua was my favourite place in the Philippines and I’m not quite sure how to get across the charm of the place, and of Villa Sandra. I awoke each day to people drinking coffee on the patio, smoking cigarettes, and listening to reggae. You could ask about snorkelling places and someone would volunteer to take you. Maybe it was the people I was with, and the people I met, but it was a very chill place. It was also just what I needed right then. It was one of the only places I could see living/working for a month or more in the Philippines.

I stayed in Malapascua for 5 or 6 days, but I wish I could have stayed longer. However my visa was running out and I needed to renew it. I also wanted to get my diving (PADI) certification, but the money/time/scheduling didn’t work out.

Sinulog

I came back to Cebu City after Malapascua and just hung out in the city while I waited for my visa to be renewed. I met some more people. I was planning on going back to Malapascua sooner rather than later because Sinulog was coming. Sinulog is the biggest party/festival in the Philippines. For scope I’ll tell you this. The Metro Cebu area has a population of about 800,000. During Sinulog the city swelled in 2014 to about 3-4 million people. Every street in the city is a party. I wasn’t going to do it, but after a night with Keith and Emmett, who were in town for the party, they convinced me to do it. Red, Will, and Marina were all in town for the festival too, so we all made plans to do it, but there was a problem with accommodation. We didn’t have any, well, Keith and Emmett and I didn’t.

Keith, Emmett, and I all went out for drinks with some friends of theirs that they met on the flight into the Philippines. We had dinner, then went out for drinks. We were telling people that we were looking for accommodation, and they just laughed and said that we were screwed, which was funny, but ultimately unhelpful. It was two days before the festival and people generally book months in advance. However after the dinner one of the guys said that they thought they had a friend that owned a guest house that might have a free room. We said that we would take whatever they had as long as it had a floor, and that was negotiable. The room ended up actually being pretty nice. Will and Marina ended up grabbing a hotel. It was kind of pricey, but it was available..

It was Sinulog, so it was pretty hard to get back to the guesthouse, but I made it. I was burnt out. I did not go out on Sinulog, and my friends gave me no end of crap about it, but I was feeling kind of sick. By all accounts it was crazy. Marina made a Youtube video of it, and if I can track it down I’ll link it.

After Sinulog I checked into a nice hotel to get some work done. I sat in a room just working and sleeping for a week, then I was going to go back to Malapascua, but some friends invited me down to Boracay. I ended up going to Boracay, but that story is for another time.

Cebu Island Part I

Cebu City

When I started this post, I’d been in the Philippines for about two weeks. I spent the first few days recovering from either food poisoning, or just adjusting to the food. It was hard to tell. I had some KFC in the Mumbai international airport at midnight that didn’t agree with me, and yeah I know it was stupid, but it was late and I was hungry and not a lot was open (stupid chicken sandwich). I went up to the roof at my hostel and met a bunch of people including a friend named Jelmer from Holland. It was on the roof of that hostel that I met a lot of friends and people that I would later end up travelling with. It was a tiny little rooftop commons area. This was both it’s problem and it’s saving grace. It was so small that when people went up there to smoke, or to drink everyone had to be in one tight circle. This, of course meant that that everyone had to interact, and there were no small groups as happens sometimes. Jelmer invited me to Moalboal in a few days after he got some work done, so I stayed at the hostel and killed time.

I mostly recovered my health in the next days, but I did have a fun night with a Swedish guy named Felix. I asked Felix if he was going out that night. He said that he had just flew in from Sweden and was pretty jetlagged. I said I was recovering from food poisoning, but we both agreed that a couple of beers on the roof sounded good. Of course one beer turned into three, which turned into several bottles of rum as more and more people from the hostel came to the roof. People came and people left, but Felix and I remained. We couldn’t figure out why people were going to bed so early until the sun rose. Now the funny thing about Felix is that he couldn’t really drink, but he was keeping up with me all night. When the sun rose I was surprised he hadn’t passed out. I found out later that Felix was 18 years old, and then I understood. I could do things like that when I was 18 too.

Oslob

So Jelmer hit me up a day or two later, and we went down to Oslob, because the only hostel in Moalboal was booked up. We met back up with Matt, who we had met in Cebu. We all three went to swim with the whale sharks the next day and decided to stay in Oslob for another day because it was so chill and everyone was so nice. We stayed in Luzmin BH, which is ran by Lucy, and she’s helped by her son Mark. Almost every evening people come by and play pool on the pool table in the back. The cost for a game is 5p (about $0.10USD) and the standard bet is 20p (about $0.40USD). It was fun even if I almost never won. The people in that area play a ludicrous amount of pool, as did the people in Moalboal. Some of my fondest memories of Lagunda, and Oslob in general, are just hanging out in that back courtyard area and losing pool consistently to the local guys. While we trash talked each other and feigned pain when we missed, all without any grasp of each others language. It was good fun. Matt was actually the first person I met travelling who played serious pool. I used to, many years ago, but my skills have atrophied to the point where I can only beat my friends. Although they like to think I’m really good, I’m not, but it makes them feel better about losing.

We went to swim with the whale sharks pretty early in the morning, or at least for me it was. We got up and around 7 and got out there maybe 7:30. It was one of the more expensive touristy things I’ve done since travelling, 1000p (about $23USD), but it was so worth it. That included the snorkelling as well, so it would be a few hundred pesos cheaper if you didn’t want to go in the water, or a few hundred more if you wanted to dive. You go out on a little bangkha about 50-60 feet from the shore and just jump in. The snorkels they rented us were terrible and I kept inhaling water and ended up ditching the snorkel and keeping on the mask. The whale sharks were 8-10 meters long. That is around 30 feet. That doesn’t quite due them justice, because they are also very big around. Google some images, because I forgot my camera, but suffice to say they are HUGE! The people in the boat feed the Whale Sharks, so they are constantly moving around trying to get the food. You go through an orientation before you go, and it mostly consists of, “DON’T TOUCH THE WHALE SHARKS!!!” also maintain a 10-15 foot distance at all times. That is easier said then done and I had to frequently dodge the sharks when they almost ran into me. They are so big that you don’t even register to them. At one point I was hanging off of the side of the boat with a whale shark coming by beneath me with the man driving the boat yelling at me, “UP! UP! HIGHER!!!” I was completely out of the water at this point and hanging on trying not to fall on the whale shark inches below me, and then the man yelled at me, “BUT RELAX! RELAX!!!!” I wanted to yell back at him, “QUIT YELLING AT ME TO RELAX! IT’S NOT HELPFUL!!!” However I was out of breath and trying not to fall. Over all it was one of my favorite memories in the Philippines and I would highly recommend it.

So now we went to Moalboal. Unfortunately the rain started coming down. I was reminded that the Philippines doesn’t have Summer or Winter. They just have the rainy season and the not rainy season. Typhoon season is generally at the beginning of the rainy season. We had been making jokes about the rain for a bit while we were lounging in the sun, but then it started coming down. Jelmer sat on a little chair in the rain with an umbrella while we were trying to wave down a bus. It was one of the saddest most pitiful things I had ever seen. I wanted to take a picture, but it seemed inappropriate. Also my camera was all the way in my bag. I offered to take a shift with him, but he said that there was no sense in getting two of us wet, and I didn’t argue very hard.

Finally we got a bus. Unfortunately it was the wrong bus, but we didn’t realize that until we arrived at the end of the line. It was not the town we thought we were going to catch the next bus at. We asked the driver if we could just flag down another bus on the way. He assured us that it would not be a problem. It was a problem, and illustrates something that happens a lot in the Philippines. People will tell you where something is, because they are helpful, but they might not have any idea what you’re talking about. If you get directions I would recommend asking a few different people and getting a consensus. It will save you many of the days I spent looking for restaurants and landmarks. None of the buses stopped and we ended up taking a trike to the next bus station. We still had to wait an hour or so in the rain huddled with everyone else under some thatched roofs trying to edge out the vendors and the chickens.

Moalboal

We got our bus and went to Moalboal. When we got to Moalboal I thought immediately that I would hate it. It was packed, noisy, and everyone was yelling at you trying to get you to take a trike etc. I was pretty wet and beat so we grabbed a trike for like 150p (we found out later the going rate is 30p/person). So the way that Moalboal is laid out is that there are two major areas around the water, and the city. The city sucks. The other parts are called the little sun and the big sun. The little sun is where all the backpackers and cheap diving people hang out. The big sun is resorts and private beaches. I did not go to the big sun. The little sun was cool though. Good food, nice bars, not too expensive. We grabbed some beers, met up with the girls and just hung out. The next day was a bit of an adventure. I accidentally went canyoning. That day warrants another post, so I’ll link it here when I’m done. Although Seven Sins bar was pretty cool and is worth noting because it’s a little bar in Moalboal that takes bitcoin. It was pretty awesome and Jelmer and I had a great talk with Abraham, the owner of the bar, about cryptocurrencies.

I ended back up in Cebu after Moalboal. It’s a 4 hour bus ride North from Moalboal to Cebu City, but in rush hour its more like 5-6 hours. I relaxed in Cebu for a couple of days and met up with some guys. Till from Switzerland, Hao from Vietnam (but who lived in LA), and Maikel from the Netherlands. We were all thinking about heading to Bohol. We decided that after Christmas Eve we’d roll out.

We went out on Christmas Eve. We started the night at an Irish Pub, and there was a hilarious exchange when an American guy we we were hanging out with tried to order Irish car bombs. Keep in mind this was an Irish pub, that I’m pretty sure was owned by an Irish guy. After half an hour of trying to explain to the bartender and the bouncer how to make them he just asked for the ingredients. So if you’ve never tried to make 10 Irish car bombs from shots and cans of Guiness and pint glasses on a rickety table in a crowded bar I will tell you it’s challenging. We finally succeeded. Serge felt triumphant, and I was happy to get free Jameson and Guiness, and then went to the club. We danced our asses off, but the club didn’t seem very Christmassy to me. I headed back to the Hostel with Maikel and Dora, from Australia. We got back to the hostel and heard merrymaking across the street. The two shops were having street parties. One had house music playing loudly, and people dancing. The other shop had an amp, and two guitarists, or maybe a guitarist and a bass player. We grabbed beers and started listening to the music. However in the Philippines if you know the words to the song then they’ll just pass you the mic. I sang some Janes Addiction with Dora, but had issues because I blew out my voice at the club. I could only sing bass very low. We partied, then went to bed. I have a video of it somewhere that I might upload.

Rajasthan

With about a month left to go In Goa, I had a choice to make. Do I head south for more beautiful beaches or do I head north for the land of snake charmers, camels and turbans? The idea of spending more time on the beach was definitely something that interested me, but it was time to move on and explore what I like to call the “real India.” It is often said that Rajasthan has more history than the rest of India combined. From the vast deserts to the camels and elephants clogging up the roadway, Rajasthan is a place that encompasses what India is truly about. I knew that I would regret not exploring this magical place before it was time to move onto Nepal. So I booked a 24 hour train journey that would take me to the small southern town of Bundi. For the next month, the state of Rajasthan known as the ‘Land of the Kings’, would be my home.

India is full of overwhelming and chaotic towns and cities. Bundi is not one of them. Bundi can be described as laid back, blue, captivating and has a magnetism all of its own. Surrounded by rolling hills, Bundi is a small town full of narrow streets, shops, step wells, temples and palaces. Looking down from the hillside Bundi Palace, nearly the whole city is painted in a light shade of blue. Bundi is full of people from many different religions, yet they go about there day in perfect peace. Whether walking the narrow streets or shopping in the market, almost everyone you pass will greet you with a smiling face and a warm greeting. Bundi is also a town full of parties and festivals. On any given night there will be music blaring from speakers and fireworks going off while crowds of people parade down the street celebrating who knows what. Bundi is a place to get lost in your thoughts, a place to escape the madness that is India. You may plan on spending just a couple nights in this enchanting town, but don’t be surprised if those couple nights turn into 7 or 10.

A 5 hour bus ride north from Bundi will take you to the hustle and bustle capital city of Jaipur, also known as the ‘Pink City’. Not one for big cities, I was not sure how my 4 nights in Jaipur would go. By the end of it, I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty that this crazy city holds. On my first full day I decided to venture down the famous shopping district known as M.I. Road on my way to the old city. Now more of an orange color than pink, the old city is full of shops selling everything from copper wire to barrels of spices and childrens clothes. There is also the beautiful City Palace which was built by Sawai Jai Singh in the 1700s. It is quite a fabulous place with museums devoted to armories and royal clothes. On my second and third day, I hired a rickshaw driver to take me around to all the major sites in Jaipur. Our first stop was the mesmerizing Amber Fort. There are many courtyards, a beautiful garden and other sub-structures within the complex but I found the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) the most impressive. This is a room covered in tiny mirrors and the total effect is mesmerizing. One could easily spend several hours within Amber Fort. On the way to Galwar Bagh (the monkey temple) which overlooks the whole of Jaipur ,we stopped at Jal Mahal which stands in the middle of Man Sagar Lake. You cannot actually visit the palace premises inside the lake but even from the shores it is a beautiful site. From the age old temples to the Louis Vuitton and Nike shops lining M.I. Road, the capital city is worth a visit while in Rajasthan.

In the month before I had planned to visit Jaisalmer during the famous Desert Festival. The festival is full of competitions such as camel racing and polo, turbin tying, Mr. Desert and of course the popular mustache competition. Outside of the hectic festival sits a desert town full of ancient ruins being overlooked by the amazing Jaisalmer Fort. The city of Jaisalmer continues on into the fort which is full of Jain temples and Havelis. A very popular activity while in Jaisalmer is taking a desert camel safari overnight. Jaisalmer is a great place to get lost. Just when you think there is nothing else to see, you stumble across another beautiful temple or lake. At the end of each day I would make a trip to the famous ‘Lassi Shop.’ These arent just any kind of lassi, which are a yogurt drink by the way, these are special bhang lassis. Go ahead and look up bhang lassi to get a better idea. Rajasthan is one of the few places in India where Bhang is legal, so I was sure to take advantage of this opportunity while I could.

From Jaisalmer I headed by bus to the busy city of Jodhpur. Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan, and it is also known as the blue city. Though the small town of Bundi was much more blue, Jodhpur definitely has its share of the color. After finding that there was a hostel named after Bob Marley, I knew I had to come to this city. The center of town is based around a century old clock tower, which happens to be right in the middle of the enormous Sardar Market. If you want to do some cheap shopping then this is the place to do it. Looking up from the market you will notice the massive Mehrangarh. This military fort stands almost 400 feet about Jodhpurs skyline. From the fort you can walk to Jaswant Thada, which is a beautiful white memorial to Jaswant Singh II, which is made almost completely out of marble. After just a few days of wandering the city and market, I was ready to escape the craziness and head to the small peaceful and holy town of Pushkar.

Pushkar with its laid back and spiritual feel was by far my favorite place in all of Rajasthan. It is said that Lord Brahma, the creator of the world, was looking for a place to perform a ‘mahayagna’. In order to search for an appropriate venue, a swan carrying a lotus in its beak was released. It was decided that the yagna would be performed where the lotus fell. The lotus fell in Pushkar, forming the Pushkar lake. Pushkar is now home to one of the few temples in the world dedicated to Lord Brahma. Pushkar is not a place in India where you come to see the sights, for there are not many to see. This is a place to relax and go with the flow in order to soak up the culture and allow India to show you its true beauty. My days were full of walking down Sadar Bazaar, eating amazing food and reading on the many ghats that surround Pushkar Lake. Being a holy city, Pushkar shut down quite early in the evening. Though there was never a shortage of loud music and parties due to the insane amount of weddings that take place here. The feeling I got being in Pushkar is like no other I got while in India. I could easily spend weeks, if not months in this small and enchanting town. Pushkar will forever have a special place in my heart, and I hope to one day return.

In the end, Rajasthan lived up to everything that I had hoped it would be. It was crazy, beautiful, hectic and captivating. Rajasthan was able to show me what India was all about. The people were so welcoming and the culture simply amazing. If you want to really see India, than Rajasthan is a must see for anyone planning a trip. With about 10 days left in India, lets see what Agra and Varanasi have to say for themselves. Rajasthan, its been real!

Leaving Benaulim

Hmm, a lot has happened since my last post occurred. Zach and I did a perfect week. That means a solid week of going out partying every night. We have been in Benaulim long enough we’ve seen a few crops of tourists go through. Some were pretty cool and we kicked it with them for a few nights like the Ukranian couple Ruslan and his wife. Some are here for longer periods and we have seen a bunch like the group of Russian tour guides Sergei, Viktor, Vladimir, Lena, and both of the Katarinas. A few have become fast good friends like Vitale who might meet up with us in Indonesia, Morris from Italy who went back home after an extended 5 month holiday, Chris who is from Goa and just went back to Kuwait for work, and Scott from Scotland who partied with us even after he dislocated his clavicle and was in a sling.

I thought of writing up every night on the perfect week, but I thought that it would get monotonous. Meeting people every night and drinking and laughing at jokes and at the language barrier while the music is pumping and the bottles keep coming. We’ve become regulars at a couple of places and they don’t mind that much if you bring in some of your own booze. However with a fifth of good rum at the bar only 400 rupees (about $6.50 USD) it’s not that hard just to get them there. Although you have to pay for every coke separately at 30 rupees or so. Some nights would just be me and Zach and Chris chatting and kicking it, but usually we would see people we knew or meet new people and would fill up our table, bring another over, fill that one and then grab another. I remember these nights for the heat, the lack of fans, the bugs swirling like vortexes around the light bulbs of Malibu (the shack not the restaurant that we might have mentioned elsewhere).

I was going to separate out the partying and my general thoughts on Benaulim, but I can’t really. However there is another piece that I wrote up about partying with some of the crazy Russian girls. Completely separating partying and daily life implies that there exists some line between them. The places we’ve eaten in the day aren’t generally the places we go at night, but they are all a part of the town. The fallout of the perfect week was that I ended up with pretty severe food poisoning that put me out for 3-4 days. It was another few days of issues before I had a doctor come out and give me some antibiotics. Jack, the owner of the guest house we’re staying at, was super cool. He heard I was sick and offered to get me a doctor. It was a couple of days before I took him up on it, but he got a good one out, Alejandro I think his name was, and then went and got me my antibiotics. I mostly stayed in while I took them over the next several days. Zach went on partying straight for another two weeks (three weeks total as he keeps reminding me) and now is getting over a bad cold. We both hit the wall and our bodies fighting back.

I guess I’ve been thinking about Benaulim in general a lot. I decided a while ago that I’m going to break off by myself for a bit. I’m flying to the Philippines on December 8th. I’ll be there until the end of March and then I’m meeting back up with Zach in Jakarta before we head to Bali for his birthday. When we first got to Goa we were some of the only people here and I got a bit stir crazy. It was some the lack of interaction with people. Mostly though it was the lack of things to do. When you’re working full time you don’t feel a need to really do anything else. You get off of work and just want to relax. You might go out on the weekends, but the time fills itself. I’m still doing some work, but not that much. It started driving me crazy. You think that when you do something big, like going across the world to travel, that things will suddenly look brighter and all of your problems will go away. You’ll be more gregarious, and be able to leap over buildings. Unfortunately people don’t just change overnight. You can’t flip a switch and be an entirely different person, or even flip a switch to stop doing things that you don’t like. I’ve known that in the past, but I had forgotten it. It took a trip to India to remind me.

Basically I was having some issues adjusting to travel, and the realities of what travel would change, and what it wouldn’t. Zach and I talked about it, and he said that he had noticed it too. After talking with Zach I decided that I wanted to travel by myself a bit. Travelling with Zach is great and I enjoy it, but he is a pretty experienced traveler, and I don’t think I’ll be able to develop some of those skills unless I put myself in a more sink or swim environment. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Goa, and I enjoy how I spend my days. I used to be much more frenetic, but now I can just sit and drink tea and watch the street for an hour or two and it doesn’t seem that long. I’ll hang out on the beach for half a day and be surprised when the sun is going down. I also find myself talking a lot less, because a lot of what I say (witticisms, puns etc) don’t really translate to non-native English speakers, especially who speak minimal English. I’ve been relying on Zach for meeting people because he’s much better at striking up a conversation with people in crowded environments. I met most of my friends at work, or school, or through mutual acquaintances.

There is no progress without sacrifice, and I’m a little sad that I won’t be here in Benaulim for the holidays, but Sunnny who owns the Hungry Duck is throwing me a BBQ tomorrow (December 6) for my going away party. Zach is super psyched about Northern India, especially Rajistan. I’m excited to see the Philippines, where Nate, a good friend, spent several months and has always raved about. He also met his wife Sally, another dear friend, there. I officiated their wedding, my About Us picture is actually from that wedding. For my conduct in the photo I blame the fact that Nate fed me like three 40s of Steel Reserve before it was taken. That wasn’t really relevant, but it still makes me chuckle when I see it. We’ll both still be writing and a few months isn’t very much in the grand scheme of things. We hope everyone will keep reading, because we’re going to keep writing.

In Goa drinking with Russians

Quick setting for Tuesday night. We spent the day kicking on the beach for quite a bit, maybe 4-5 hours. I had several drinks, Zach had a few, then we went back to the guesthouse. The bar we were at with the chairs on the beach said that they were doing karaoke that night, so of course we were down. We only had a Saturday karaoke place. We definitely needed another. So we went back to the bar Dominic’s for karaoke. It was pretty much just Zach and I. There was a French guy doing some singing too. We got him to sing “Could you be loved” with us. It was awesome. I sang some “Gangster’s Paradise” which went over very well with the Russian women at one of the tables. The song selection was awesome. Zach and I sang some Will Smith (“Miami”), and I even sang some Everclear, “I will buy you a new house”. I was super impressed, most places in the states don’t have Everclear. I also got down with soe Sublime. We drank, and sang, and smoked hookah until they closed down. They said karaoke was over. Zach and I asked the waiters where the party was at. They said it was at Malibu next door and to come back next Monday for karaoke. I went over and invited the French guy and his table to join us next door. They said that they might when they were done with their drinks.

We walked next door and the music was blasting, the Russian dance music. That is apparently all they play at the Malibu. We had been to the Malibu restauraunt and go periodically for dinner (free wifi is nice). We hadn’t been to the shack yet. We setup, ordered a couple of Fennys, and surveyed the place. The dance floor was full of Russian women and the mandatory Russian guy with no shirt. They all seemed to be from the same table, and I was trying to think of a good way to introduce ourselves. You see it’s a little challenging to introduce yourself to Russian tourists out here because they speak little to no English and my Russian is limited to saying “Hi”. I was considering this when Zach saw they had a bottle of rum at their table and just turned his chair around and was then sitting at their table. They waved me over too. We started chatting a little, they said some of them were from St. Petersberg, and some others were from places I couldn’t pronounce. We all ordered more drinks and started dancing our hearts out. A little while then the French guy, who’s name was Joaquin I found out, and his girlfriend came in and pulled up chairs to the table. He was in town for a couple of days covering a soccer match for the magazine he wrote for. Also an Indian guy named Chris pulled up a chair too. We had seen him at karaoke and he seemed to enjoy our singing and I saw him at the bar seeming to be trying to find a way to come party with us. He also just pulled up a chair. I think our giant table was the entirety of the people at this bar at this point. We danced and talked and there were huge language barriers all around, but it was tons of fun. Language is overrated for having fun with people when the music is thumping and the drinks are flowing. They kept playing great music all in Russian that I had never heard of and we all kept dancing.

Eventually I told Zach I was heading home if he wanted to come, but he was fairly intoxicated and wanted to dance/drink more. I made it home and got through the gate to the guesthouse then to the room and laid down. I remember wondering how Zach was going to get through the gate when he didn’t have a key. I considered just leaving the gate open, but that seemed like a bad idea in general. That was about all the thought I put into it though. Fortunately Zach came back shortly after I did. He had a plan to get through the gate. He shook it and yelled drunkenly until someone let him in.

So fastforward to the next day, I wake up, Zach is hellaciously hungover and naked. There was an “issue” with his sheets and clothes. I felt a little rough, but Zach was close to catatonic. We went down to eat lunch at Jack’s, and then he went to sleep and I messed around a little bit online. We grabbed food for dinner, but were just going to have a low key night. I wanted a couple of beers, and Zach wanted to just go out for a bit. As Zach said to me later, we approached the night with the best of intentions. We went to this little lounge bar where some people were dancing and had a couple of drinks and just relaxed. Eventually the DJ sang along with the songs a bit too. He did an awesome version of Pink Floyd, and a couple of other songs too.

Then Mahal closed and we decided that we had a couple of more drinks in us before we wanted to go to back to the guesthouse. We walked directly over to the beach shack next door, not at the time realizing that it was Domnick’s. We were walking up to the bar when we heard people yelling at us “Zach, Noah!” We looked over and it was the girls from the night before. Zach and I both looked at each other and just had that telepathic moment where we just went, “Well, shit. I guess this is going to be one of those nights.” They called us over for drinks and said that they were going to the club in Colva, and we should come. One of the local guys arranged the cab and everything. We just kept drinking and had Svetlana’s daughter do some translating for us. There was this crazy blond girl that was all over Zach. I know that some of you guys might be taking umbrage with me saying crazy girl. I know that’s a term that guys throw around with abandon. However she borrowed my water bottle to pour it on Zach because he said he didn’t like Vladimir Putin, and kept biting his fingers. She also spoke about as much English as I do Russian. But did this discourage Zach? Nope. The party consisted of a really cool Russian guy, Svetlana the married mother, the blonde girl, the brunette girl, the guy who worked at Dominics, and our grumpy cab driver, you can see him in the group picture from that night. We ended up going to this club in Colva called Margarita. The guy who setup the cab and club got us in with no cover. The drinks were pretty expensive there. A double rum and Coke was 200RP, expensive is relative though. That’s still only $3 USD or so, but a double rum and coke is usually like 60RP or so, or $1 USD. I’m sure everyone is overcome with pity for us having to pay that much for drinks. The club was great. There was much dancing and little talking due to the volume.

I wake up the next morning. I see Zach walking around the room. I also notice that I’m naked, so as you can the shoe is now on the other foot. I had this witty rejoinder to Zach, “My mouth tastes like death.” He laughed and told me that he was going to take a shower then he would tell me what happened the previous night. So the last thing I remember is having drinks at the club and dancing, but not any event in particular. According to Zach I had a few too many and was about to fall off of a bar stool. He sent me in to the bathroom and sent a bouncer after me to make sure that I was OK. I fell down and the bouncer carried me out to a cab. I gave my bill clip to Zach for safekeeping, very weird by the way, and went home. I miiiight have paid for my cab. I saw the cabbie the next day and he said that he was paid. I just had to kick him a few hundred rupees for cleaning the cab, don’t ask. Zach stayed at the club for a bit and then headed back. The blonde girl wanted him to come up with her to the hotel, but he said that he was too drunk to want to and just came back to the guesthouse, waking up the people working there again. He said he felt bad because he promised Cool that he would make sure to come back home with me so that he wouldn’t wake up everyone.

This was the first, but not the last time that a bunch of Russians got us much too drunk.

Mumbai, India

Stepping off the plane, the overwhelming feeling of being in India hits you. Whether it’s the heat, different smells, the people or even the sudden impact of just how noisy this place is. Mumbai is spread across almost 450 sq kilometers and boasts a population of nearly 19 million. Mumbai is also the capital of the state of Maharashtra which is an island connected by bridges to mainland India. Mumbai became the official capital of Maharashtra after Independence and the split from the state of Gujarat in 1960. Formerly known as Bombay during colonial times, the city’s name was officially changed back to Mumbai in 1996 to help recapture the cities lost history. Mumbai is a city that not all can handle. But for a seasoned traveler or someone who is really seeking out a city far different from home, Mumbai is truly the gateway to India.

Arriving at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is most common for people coming to Mumbai. It is located about a 45 minute cab ride from the center of town, mind you that may double depending on time of day. We decided to stay at Hotel Travelers Inn, about a 10 minute walk from the heart of the tourist center, Colaba. This small Guesthouse has single and double private rooms as well as 3 bed dormitories which Noah and I stayed in. At $10 a night, it is not a bad price for its location and a constant feeling of safety and security. The ride in from the airport will take you through many parts of Mumbai including the slums, high rise buildings, neighborhood block parties, discos and past countless food stalls. Our guesthouse was also a close 5 minute walk to the amazing, hectic, colonial style Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, also known as Victoria Station.
With our Guesthouse being in a busy commercial area of Mumbai known as Fort, since this is once where the British fort once stood, walking was made easy. Just south is Colaba, home to many of the city’s attractions including the Gateway to India, Taj Mahal Palace, National Gallery of Modern Art and Leopold’s Cafe, which in 2008 was the target of a terrorist attack. The Fort & Churchgate area are just as interesting. Home to the Oval Maiden, a vast open park in the middle of this bustling part of the city, this is where you want to be in order to truly appreciate many of Mumbai’s majestic Victorian buildings. This area is also home to the Prince of Wales Museum, Marine Drive & Girgaum Chowpatty beach, the High Court and the University of Mumbai.

One of the things that Noah and I could not wait for once we landed in Mumbai was of course, the food! Walking down any street you will pass numerous hole in the wall cafes, five star restaurants, street vendors and food stalls. This city is shaped by countless different types of food and spices from all over the world. A couple of our favorite places to eat in Bombay included Cafe Universal, although relatively expensive compared to other local places, had a good atmosphere as well as an extensive menu with food ranging from Indian favorites to pizza and burgers. Pancham Periwala is my personal favorite, to leave Mumbai without going to this local favorite to try one of their several thali meals would be a serious miss. To come to India without an open mind regarding the food would be a mistake. Whether it is the thali meals, kebabs, aloo mutter, paneer, naan, samosas or dosas, all deserve a try as you will not regret it. Of course we can’t guarantee you won’t get sick at some point, this is India after all.

Mumbai is big and I could go on and on about this city. It is a city full of business men, day laborers, politicians, poverty, stray dogs and everything in between. It is home to the world’s largest film industry as well as home to some of the worlds largest slums. Mumbai is a city that can quickly become overwhelming, even to the not so faint of heart. The key is to give yourself the right amount of time. Come with an open mind and appreciate everything around you, no matter how maddening and stressful it may get. Who knows, by the time you leave here, Mumbai just might start to make a little sense to you. Maybe!

A day in the life of the Bromads: Goan Edition

The direct sunlight finally reaches our room and the temperature quickly rises. The quick increase prompts us both to slowly open our eyes, by now we already know that it is roughly 10 a.m. It takes a second to adjust to the fact that we are once again waking up in a tropical paradise halfway across the world. But with it comes the morning body inspection of insect bites obtained during the warm humid night. Our daily life is rather simple and we know the first thing to do is to go for our morning swim.

Jack’s Corner is roughly a kilometer from the beach. As we walk down the long stretch of road we pass local women laying out thousands of fish from the morning catch by the local fishermen. The women must start early in order to have the fish sorted and perfectly laid out in order to catch the blistering afternoon sun for drying. Greetings of “hello” and “where are you from?” are a daily occurrence during our morning stroll. Halfway up the road we pass through wide open fields of palm trees and water buffalo washing themselves in the warm ponds of water. We reach the end of the road and there is the beautiful white sand beach with fishing boats every few meters, followed by the warm water of the Arabian Sea.
A half an hour is all we need before we head back to the hotel for our morning shower. While I typically do a bit of reading, Noah enjoys recounting the previous days events in his notebook. Around 12 or so we decide it is a good time to head down the other street towards town for lunch and our daily trip to the supermarket for mixer, sweets and water. Lunch is usually pretty light as we enjoy a heavier meal at night when the sun is no longer beating down on us for the walk home. By 2 we are back in our room ready for our midday siesta by the fans and break from the hottest hours of the day.

We know it is time to get up when we hear the call of the birds out our window and the sun has slowly begin to set. Following our post nap showers, we grab our soda we bought earlier in the day and make a couple rum and cokes to enjoy out on our balcony over looking palm trees and local passer-byes. By 6 we are on the road again headed for the beach for our evening swim and to watch the sunset with locals alike. After yet another shower, it is time to venture out to find some delicious Indian food for dinner.

There are numerous restaurants in the small, sleepy beachside village of Benaulim. We make it our goal to try and eat at every establishment before our time here is up. While we try to keep lunch around 100 Rupees apiece, this allows us to splurge a little on dinner and post meal drinks. Mind you splurging is roughly 250 Rupees, or about $4. We are never disappointed with our meal nor the amazing service we receive throughout, as the owners and waiters make sure we are pleased with their establishment. After dinner drinks usually consist of the local favorite Feny, a clear strong liquor made from either cashews or coconut. Due to the unknown strength of this locally made spirit, we mix it with either water and lime or soda. Trust us, one 60ml shot of this stuff is all you really need. That is unless you are looking for someone to carry you home.

By 10 o’clock our day has come to an end. Laying down while my eyes slowly begin to shut, the days events pass through my mind. Here I am, laying in bed in a country that I have longed to visit ever since I was a child. A year ago if you would of told me this is where I would be, I would of told you that you were crazy. I had a wife, kids, a good but stressful career, bills and of course never ending responsibility. Though if I had my choice, things may be a little different then they are now. But how can I possibly complain knowing what a stress free and calm day tomorrow will bring.

Oh what a difference a year can make!

Central and Baltic Europe

Sitting in my room at my grandparents house in Saltsjobaden, Sweden I knew I had a decision to make within the next couple of weeks. My grandmother was coming to the end of her radiation treatment and her immune system had taken a turn for the worst. She was to be hospitalized to help combat the side effects of her treatment. I knew that the best thing for her was to have a limited amount of people around her. With about four weeks also left until Noah was to arrive, now was my time to venture out to a part of Europe I had yet to discover during my travels over the last ten years. Central Europe and the Baltic States had always interested me. A week later I was on a cheap flight to Prague on a 16 day adventure that would take me to 5 countries and 6 cities.

Prague is a beautiful city which has been the center of the Czech Republic for over 1000 years. Constantly packed with tourists from around the world, the Old Town Square is filled with churches, food stalls, restaurants, the astronomical clock and a number of street performers. From the Old Town Square you can walk across the always bustling Charles Bridge to the historic Prague Castle. If you arrive in the early afternoon you will be able to catch the changing of the guard, which is always a site to see no matter what city you may be in. Prague has become a tourist haven for all travellers ranging from the broke backpacker to the elderly packaged bus tours. With prices still being relatively cheap, Prague is an amazing city to visit that won’t break your budget. Well, depending on how much you like to go out and drink that is, but you can still find beer for as cheap as $1 a pint. Prague is a must see city for anyone planning to make a trip to Central and Eastern Europe. The beauty of this city is overwhelming and deserves to be seen on any European itinerary.

Bratislava, Slovakia was a city that had no real attractions but interested me just to say that I have been. After the release of the movie ‘Hostel’, tourism to this small capital city dropped by an amazing 75%. After hearing several stories I decided that one night would be more than enough. After arriving, I was immediately surprised by the beauty and the numerous bars, shops and cafes that lined the streets. While not as interesting as most other European capitals, Bratislava was a nice break from the bustling major cities that surrounded the small nation. With the city being so small, it was easy to navigate and enjoy the small alleys and side streets without having to follow a guide. With the beautiful architecture and great nightlife, Bratislava was well worth the trip and would recommend a visit for anyone looking to get away for a night or two.

While in Poland I was able to enjoy 2 very different cities. There was Krakow, which was well preserved with its medieval style buildings, cobblestone streets and small town feel. Then there was Warsaw, a city that was decimated during WWII and is now the business center and capital of Poland. Krakow is original and offers beautiful architecture, lots of culture and history from many centuries. In addition, it’s very walkable as nearly all sights are located in the compact old town or nearby Jewish kazimierz district. One weekend is enough to explore the city, however if you also wish to visit some popular places in Kraków’s surroundings (e.g. Wieliczka salt mine, Zakopane in Tatra mountains, Auschwitz), you would need 2 or 3 days more. Warsaw is totally different from Krakow. The old town and other historical quarters are charming, whereas the rest of the city is more business-like with lots of shopping malls, offices and high rise buildings. The old town is a total reproduction from pre WWII but is amazingly done and is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. Both Krakow and Warsaw deserve a visit if you plan to go to Poland.

Vilnius, Lithuania and Riga, Latvia were very similar to me. But Riga seemed to be moving more into the future while Vilnius was kind of stuck in the past. Both cities are  beautiful with large parks and open squares full of food, street performers and alcohol as far as they eye could see. I was lucky enough to be in Vilnius during the Vilnius City Fiesta celebrating the cities birthday. The streets and squares were full of concerts, food stands and stalls selling everything from beer to paintings. The Vilnius nightlife was quite the surprise though. On any given night the bars and clubs would be packed full of people of all ages drinking, listening to live music and trying their best to find someone to go home with at the end of the night. It was a city that never had a dull night, I quickly learned this after spending the first couple nights going out. Riga also had a great nightlife with free flowing beer, beautiful women all around and clubs that would not close until the sun came up. If time permits, both of these cities deserve a visit but can easily be seen in a two night stay a piece.

This 16 day adventure was just what I needed to help fill the time before Noah was to arrive and also the void of needing a cheap and quick journey. I was reminded that I am no longer 18 years old and that I now need more time to recover after a long night out or even after a full day of travel. But more importantly, I was reminded that my love of travel is stronger than ever. My sense of adventure and the feeling of getting lost in a new city was still alive and well and I am ready for the next 2 years of travel, wherever they may take me!

 

Puerto Vallarta – Nacho Daddy’s

I was going to put this in my other post, but it was getting long. I also like this story enough to want to include it. After the beach, while I was passed out, Zach started talking to one of our hotel neighbors in the lobby. He was in his 50’s and named Bill. Bill was in town for a conference. He was an engineering professor in Florida. We ended up grabbing beers with Bill a couple of times at the Sea Monkey and he told us about this band that was playing just down the street on Thursday. The place was a tex-mex restaurant named Nacho Daddy’s and was owned by this really cool (based on the couple of minutes we chatted when we dropped by to check when the band was going on) ex-pat. We got there about an hour early and got some food and beers ($2 pacifico). True Tex-Mex queso too, yum. Kind of an aside, but I haven’t had queso that good since I was in Oklahoma visiting family. The trick is bacon grease people, it’s not that hard. Anyways, I hadn’t watched a band setup in years and that was kind of fun

.At Nacho Daddy's

People started filtering in, and Zach and I were probably the youngest people in there by twenty years. Not an issue, but it was quite a few old hippies. We started chatting about wanting to come back to Mexico after our Asia trip and learn the language. They gave us some great contacts to talk to, and tips on surrounding towns. The story from each of them was pretty similar.

“I came for a couple of weeks, and just never left,”

or the other

“I own a condo down here and just rent it out when I’m not using it.”

Puerto Vallarta is super expensive, but the towns about 30 mins bus ride out are not. It’s apparently pretty cheap to live there and they don’t have the tourism hustle that Puerto Vallarta does, but it’s close enough to come in if you want to see the city, or kick it with other ex-pats.

Back to the bar, we were chatting with these people and Bill finally showed up, and sat down with us and grabbed a beer. The band started playing. They were a cover band that played everything from Jefferson Airplane to Daft Punk. It was a lot of fun, and they even did a bit of an improv light show with the lights out.

The old hippies were super digging it, and dancing a ton. There was this one older guy. Picture a heavyset man, not necessarily fat but barrelchested, completely bald man with a white handlebar mustache in a completely black suit with black shirt. He looked sharp. He also did interpretive dance to almost every song. I heard from one of the guys there that his brother had passed from heart problems and that his doctor had said that he needed to take it easy or he would go to. He told his doctor that he preferred to live his life as much as he could with the time he had. This guy went out every night drinking, dancing and generally having a grand time. I have a lot of respect for that kind of commitment to life. He also did a pretty impressive pole dance on one of the support pillars for the bar during a song.

I love to dance and was waiting for a song that I could dance to. I think I ended up cutting loose on “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. I danced with some older lady and ditched my sandals to really get my dance on. There’s a reason my friends call me twinkle toes. My feet hurt like a bitch though. So the set ended up wrapping up, and we tabbed out. It was pouring rain by this point. I mean a true torrential downpour. There was probably 5-6 inches of standing/running water at some points in the street. This is why I love the tropics though, it was warm water. In Oklahoma that water would be cold, not frigid, but unpleasant. This was like wading through warm bathwater, that was probably dirty as hell. We ran/walked back to the hotel. I didn’t care about the water as I was in a swimsuit, a shirt and sandals, but I had our trip notebook with us (for notes). We said good night to Bill and crashed out. Minus an epic fight with a cockroach in the middle of the night (we won, although there was a lot of RAID in the air), we slept well.

I checked my feet the next morning to see why it hurt to dance and I had like 3-4 huge blisters on each foot. Zach had been mocking my strappy sandals (Chaco’s) the entire trip and I had defended them. The issue is that, while I love strappy sandals, in the tropics the constant changing humidity causes them to stretch oddly. Teva’s or something would probably be fine, but Chaco’s are pretty tightly fitted. I chucked my Chaco’s at that point, and just used my flip flops. Zach was using slip on Van’s and they worked great for him. That’s probably what I’m going to use for the main trip. Just remember.

FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS WEAR STRAPPY SANDALS!!!