2014 Travel~Living Update

Yo.
Well, I have been getting some periodic requests to post an update as now some friends and followers know I am traveling abroad again. To me though, it’s just living. I have this dance with life, and the floor I dance on isn’t limited to the corner~
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There has been a whirlwind of movement this past month, and it’s not normally how I have moved in the past. These years, I enjoy finding a special beautiful place and setting up shop there for a month, where I can enjoy community, do my work and eat new exotic foods. Well, for the Month of May, my travel has been~ USA-Netherlands-Belgium-Qatar-India and now Nepal. Tomorrow it’s Jordan and Israel.
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I’m used to it, and can manage and adapt myself at the drop of a mango. Yet, it does take some energy. Currently, I am writing from the town of Nagarkot, Nepal. From this mountain village, one can see 360 degrees of Himalayas. I am in the “Ganesh Cottage,” my little house for a few days. It has nice views from the cottage, and has some prayer flags sprinkled through it along with fabrics. My hotel is called “Hotel at the End of The Universe.” With a name as such, I had to stay there ~ It’s owned by a Nepali / Dutch couple and it’s a tranquil place.
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Some friends have asked me, “Why India?” And, the simple answer is, I felt the pull of my spirit to go there again. I had gone there ten years ago in 2004 serving with as a volunteer for 3 months. That time was life changing for me, and I was curious to see how this vibrant and massive country called India has changed and continue my experience with it.

One the Worlds largest Banyan tree, India 2004
One the Worlds largest Banyan tree, India 2004

As an American citizen, I was able to obtain a 5 year multiple entry visa, and so I can move in and out of this vast and rich land as much as I want for the next few years, so this trip was not about “seeing it all.” I sort of used to move that way when I was 18-20, but now I just like picking a few spots and “soaking” it. So I flew to Mumbai, stayed a few days there. Flew to Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and stayed there a couple days too. Then it a train up to Siliguri, there I caught a land rover to Darjeeling, the mountainous town famous the world over for its tea.
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It was a diverse town, with a mix of Tibetans, Gorkhas, Nepalis and Indians. The entire town is built on a steep incline of a mountain, and my guesthouse sat right on the top. I worked on my writings there, and took a 5 day trek through the Singalila National Park/Ridge. I hired a Sherpa named Tsering and together we hiked about 10-11 miles a day, stopping in very little Himalayan villages for tea and meals. The highlight for me was the opportunity to see with my own eyes the highest mountain in the world: Mount Everest.

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Another highlight so far for me has been to reconnect in person with a friend I made ten years ago in Calcutta. His name is Brother Francois, and he is a Franciscan priest serving the poor in the city. Most of his work revolves around addressing the needs of orphans living in the train station and also visiting those in the hospital who need support of any kind.
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When I volunteered with him ten years ago, it became the most intense day of my life as I saw the reality of a broken hospital system. I saw people who could have survived with available care, die and witnessed also the reality of young boys living on their own in a harsh environment.

Since then, Brother Francois has been doing this work EVERYDAY. To me, he is one of the most courageous and kindest humans I have met on this planet. When I surprised him, he was overjoyed to see me. And I came to a realization that I had not been aware of. As I talked with Francois, he made it clear to me that one of the main reasons he continued with his work in Calcutta in 2004, was because of my willingness to go volunteer with him when he asked me in the Mother House (Where the sisters of Mother Teresas order, Missionaries of Charity, live). At that time, he was still exploring the idea, since he was from France. The funny thing is, is on that particular day in 2004, I felt a strong pull in my spirit to go the Mother House. I was serving in an orphanage far away, and even though all the international volunteers met there each morning for breakfast before volunteering, I would not go because I needed to ride the bus for 45 minutes to get to the orphanage I was serving at. Nonetheless, I felt a pull early that morning to go. And that morning I met Brother Francois.

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I knew then I would have a friend for life, and through these past ten years my family and I have sent clothes to the children he serves. And, for the short couple days I had to spend with him in Hot Calcutta a couple weeks ago, I was blessed and also reminded of realities. I was reminded, because I went back to a hospital with him where he serves. There, I had flashbacks of the lack of cleanliness and care available. The elevator had dried blood in all the corners, the casualty ward had used gauze, urine and dust on the floors. The beds were simple and each patient, was just sitting up, basically getting what care they could from their family members, and an occasional checkup from a physician. I actually didn’t see any there, but it was towards the evening. What I did see, was a young man named Sambath. He was extremely thin and only had his Mother to offer what little care she could. Sambath had rectal cancer, and it was terminal. For a man who was 22 years old and was just in med school the year before, it was a difficult site to see. This is something a normal citizen of my home country just doesn’t get to see. Untreated cancer in your face.

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I was stronger to accept the reality than my last time ten years ago, but it reminded me of the fragility of life and how life is valued in other places. I gave Sambath a postcard from Hawaii that had a couple Hibiscus flowers on it. I hoped he would find peace until he moves on..

While the hospital visits were still melancholy, the next day Francois invited me to speak to the boys from the station. He gathered them together and for a couple hours I shared with them lessons of geography, and showed them photos of my travels around the world on my laptop. They were fascinated to see images of massive Redwood trees, European architecture and scenes from the movie “Samsara,” a movie that travels around the world. My intention was to expand their horizons a bit, and by all the smiles and affection after, I think I succeeded.

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There of course, are other highlights, such as traveling in the Netherlands with my Mom, who is Dutch and had not been back for 39 years, and visiting a tea factory in Darjeeling but for now I will sign off. A new adventure awaits, and another dream will be fulfilled: To pilgrimage to Israel.

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Thanks for your encouragement and thoughts, prayers through the journey~ Some more photos below… IMG_0788 IMG_0867 IMG_0756 IMG_0952

A Grand Year of Adventures in 2013~Now onto Another Trip Around the Sun

Sun Trippin

Well, as I write this morning, I am in a spiritual retreat center on the north shores of Maui in the islands of Hawaii. The weather is so nice and energetic here and its been a few years since I last was in the islands. Sunrises on top of volcanos, spectacular coastal drives and trekking through rainforest to ancient Hawaiian swim holes are a few recently made memories that will bring smiles to my face in years to come.

I hope to those that keep up with my updates and travels all had a wonderful holiday and New Year. I am truly happy to share life with friends, be it in person or through a blog. I haven’t posted for a few months now, so I figure it is time to give some “juice.”

In 2013, I went around the world. I traveled in early February to Europe where I spent two months in the Netherlands, with side trips to France and Germany. It was then off to South East Asia, where I spent close to four months venturing Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. And then it was right over to good ole’ North Dakota just in time for 4th of July Fireworks and one of my best friends weddings. From there, I hopped on a ride share across the northern part of the States to California, where I spent a majority of the rest of the year. It seems I’m destined for another round the world journey in 2014, yet this time flying West.

Of course this wasn’t a vacation, as some can assume. Throughout the entire time being abroad, I was writing. Both in my professional 9-5 job with Visual News, and also with book projects I plan to publish. Personally, I find more inspiration being in a completely different environment than my own home country of the West Coast. While I love to see my friends and family in the states, I’ve personally evolved to a place where I need the chaos of a foreign context to shape and stimulate my heart and mind.

Each day is anew, filled with tones, noises, tastes, weather and relationships. And more.

I’ll give a few highlights from last year I enjoyed throughout the movements~

Carnival in Netherlands

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Carnival is widely celebrated in Holland, and the Dutch recognize that the best festivities are held in the South of the country. I happened to be in that particular area at the time it was happening and though it was quite cold outside, my spirit was warm with song, dance and of course, beer!

Yoga in Thailand

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Thailand Yoga

I began my Yoga journey finally in Thailand. I had waited until I could learn directly from my cousin, who has been a Yoga Ashtangi for over 20 years. Her practice is quite well known around the world and I was privileged to learn from her on a beautiful island.

Friendship in Langkawi

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After spending time in Thailand, I went over to the Island of Langkawi in Malaysia to explore, meet up with a friend and check out sailboats. I found a wonderful expat community there whom I had a lot of fun getting to know. Langkawi itself is a great island to check out as it is unique in its own way. Definitely stay at Soluna Guesthouse if you get there and tell Claudia I said hello.

Art in Black Rock

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It was another year of art installations in that special place in the desert. It was a wonderful year again full of expression, exploration and community.

Hiking in NorCal

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I spent some of the Autumn writing in Northern Cal/ Southern Oregon. To be in the quiet stillness of the vast forest is renewing and energizing. In a world where the race gets faster by the millisecond, finding these sanctuaries are more important than ever, and I was lucky to find such raw nature so close by to my SF bay home.

Well, I’m back to Hawaii Life now and am already making great memories for this year. I hope you do too, because really, anything is possible if you project your intention into the universe enough~ Thanks for reading as always~

The Unknown Island of Langkawi, Malaysia

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I came to Langkawi in search of sailboats.
Until I had come to Southern Thailand, I had never heard of the small 500 square kilometers island in Northwest Malaysia before. Close to the Thai border, Langkawi I discovered has quite a bit to offer. I came expecting to stay 3-7 days and now I’m going onto the 4th week here.

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There are some really nice yachts out here and I’ve been hounding the marinas, talking to Captains, brokers and long term expats about getting a larger sailboat here than what I currently have back in Seattle. Basically I’m looking for a 30-38ft cruiser that is able to make coastal passages through the straits of Melacca, the Southern Burmese archipelago and of course all of Indonesia. There are just too many islands here along with genuinely friendly human beings that make such an adventure hard to resist.

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This Malaysian island of Langkawi has the potential to be a base for such adventures. There are plenty of business opportunities both on the island and virtually and with an international airport on the island, one can get to practically any major Asian city in less than 5 hours for those occasional city fixes.

There’s sailing, there are beaches, mountains, jungles, bald eagles, high cable cars, waterfalls and lakes, foods of all sorts and literally people from all over the world here. This island doesn’t attract just the western crowd, but there are quite a few tourists from China, India, and the Middle East. Everyday I meet citizens from countries all over. Just yesterday I spent some time with a young Syrian man named Ahmed who fled the country from Bashar and is running a little stand selling middle eastern products in the mall. We’re friends on facebook now. 😉

Soluna Guesthouse, where I have been staying
Soluna Guesthouse, where I have been staying

The longer I spend out the country, the more I realize just how integral it is in my life. My family has a vibrant international history and my upbringing incorporated American, European and Asian traditions. While it’s more natural for me to be overseas than in America, I still appreciate the vastness and beauty of America. What I don’t like about America is that citizens are given only two to three weeks vacation a year. The culture is “live to work,” and it cripples Americans because they work so hard, and even when they take vacation, there are sometimes still the concerns of projects they attempted to leave at home.

This is why in the two months I have been in Asia, I have only met 8 Americans. Four of them quit their jobs to travel, the other 4 were either a post grad or long-term expat. It’s just too much to go to Asia when you only have two weeks holiday and the flights there and back are going to eliminate a couple of days already. So Americans float to Hawaii, Mexico or even Europe. It makes sense, But I tell you, Asia is “where it is at.” This is my 5th time back and I love it more and more every time I come back.

Get to Asia, eat all sorts of food, meet many interesting people everyday and make friends, enjoy the nature of mountains, jungle, oceans, reefs and underwater worlds. It’s all here, and it’s not going away.

I’m doing alright and feeling right at home. Hope Summer is beginning to treat everyone nicely~

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Pilgrimage as a Form of Travel

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I just left a mass from a large cathedral here in Holland and its focus was to bless the many “pilgrims” that are walking the famous Camino de Santiago trail. While participating in the service, I felt inspired to write a post about the idea of pilgrimage as a form of travel.

Map of the pilgrimage trail the Camino de Santiago. The most traveled route is in Northern Spain, and many routes go to that direction.
Map of the Camino de Santiago. The most traveled route is in Northern Spain, and many routes go to that direction.

Some of my past travels have been spiritual in their nature or involved traveling to very spiritual countries such as Tibet and India. While some of these travels have seemed distant to me at times, I was reminded today about some of the joys I felt when I was in that place in my life. A young man seeking answers to life’s mysteries and taking a bite of the world in the process.

While I didn’t get all the answers I was looking for then, I found enlightenment in my own way. And I expect each person will find their own as well if they decide to pursue it.

I went to Tibet for the summer in 2002. It proved to be a life-altering experience.
I went to Tibet for the summer in 2002. It proved to be a life-altering experience. Photo by my travel companion Jared Kachurak

I think the idea of pilgrimage can conjure up thoughts of it having to only apply to someone who believes in deities and a spiritual world, but I think it applies to each human. The act itself can be beneficial to each person. While there can be many ways one decides to journey as a “pilgrim,” I think there are two ways I would like to spotlight from my own experience. Let’s call them the “slow way” and the “fast way.”

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The slow way is exactly what it implies; Slow motion. In my mind, this mostly involves the idea of walking for a period of time. Although I think it can also apply to sailing and possibly even tour-biking. There is something that happens in this act that I have found magical. I wasn’t expecting it, but after sailing slowly in the raw and vast ocean away from news, cars, computers and phones, something happened.

While “pilgrims/travelers” may walk for a couples days to countless years, I find that if someone is committed to a journey the slow way, they may start to realize a very different reality that they were used to. I had this epiphany when I was sailing in Mexico for two months.

Image of the sailing trip in Baja, Mexico
Image of the sailing trip in Baja, Mexico

One of the first things I noticed was I began to lose track of time. The idea of time was invented by humans, and so much of our lives can be determined by time. Yet, in the open ocean it didn’t matter. I found my schedule revolved around waking up when the sun rose and going to bed not too late after the sun went down.

Initially, I lost track of the hours, and eventually I lost track of days and even weeks. But it was of no matter, I was engaged in the present. There wasn’t telling what the wind or weather was going to be like, so focus was on the now. As a result, I felt an amazing liberation and every action of the day was that much more meaningful and exciting.

During this voyage, I remembered a scripture verse in the Bible told that I heard when I was younger and it said:

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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That’s a fairly difficult mantra to live by it seems, but I found supreme peace in living in the present and not focusing a majority of my energy on the future. There’s another verse in this chapter that says:

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

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I found a peace with these sacred words as well because instead of worrying about if we are going to survive for years to come, it encourages the idea of trusting that our needs are going to be provided for us, and to focus on the present. Some may consider this a false reality and hope, but I think there is a release on worry and stress to consider such an idea.

If the “slow way” is pursued, detached from the busyness of life, it most likely will prove to be beneficial that person. One may find themselves further “enlightened” by this action if their heart is open to listen and experience daily.

Ok onto the “fast way.”

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The “fast way” is in a way another form of pilgrimage. To me, this term involves the act of travel but not solely focused in just one form of transport like walking or biking. It can be that one travels by train, plane, bus and car, but because the individual is seeking something in their journey, they will be inspired in their own way.

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For example, someone could be seeking to experience the idea of community. In their journey, there wasn’t a set plan or place to go, it was just a “mission.” And in that journey, that individual may have found themselves accepted by a group of people, sharing meals, dancing, laughing and drinking and finding a satisfactory answer to what they were looking for. Other examples could be seeking friendship, faith, learning others ways of life or even love (though we all know that could be risky 🙂

There doesn’t even need to be a focus really. Just the idea of going with an open heart and mind to receive is enough. Personally, I always try to travel this way. One can travel with a very set agenda, with all the places they researched before on the schedule. It’s one way to travel, yet if someone has the option to stay and travel longer with flexibility, then it’s rewards will definitely be much more than the short-term option.

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In a way we are all pilgrims, seeking answers to life, contemplating ideas of Truth, existence and purpose. There are many opinions, and each person has their own thoughts. The thoughts we are exposed to when we are young in our home environment are just that: thoughts we know at our local environment. The world is much bigger than that though, and when one goes to other environments and exposes themselves to other ideas and ways, one will definitely find themselves more “enlightened,” and maybe that is pilgrimage too.

Thanks for reading, feedback is definitely welcomes 🙂

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cami

Time to talk about Paris

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I’m sure many have been able to visit Paris at some point. For me though, the first time I was able to explore this famed city was last week.

On my first trip to Europe in 2000, I did go to the Paris airport. But that experience was only limited to eating a croque monsieur, buying Cuban cigars and finagling a customs officer to stamp my passport. Hardly the experience.

And even though I had been to Europe many times after, and spending the better part of a year throughout the continent, Paris never happened.

Maybe I was dissuaded by the tourism of cities like Paris, Rome and Venice. I much rather preferred smaller towns and cities with less cameras and tour buses.

But this is February, in the heart of Winter and not many people travel during this time (at least not to the Northern hemisphere.) I had a friend who had moved to Paris three years ago and I promised to him that when I was in Europe again, I would visit him. So to honor that promise and to finally check out Paris, I hopped on a ride to the City of love, arts and baguettes.

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From Maastrict, Netherlands to Paris I caught a ride share for 22 euros. A train would have cost close to 100 and a flight the same. I had used ride share in the US and am always happy to make new friends through the activity. While some people have an issue meeting and interacting with strangers, I have found it to be quite fun. I also promote the idea of renewing trust between people, so in a way I promote this through the action. If you do find yourself in Europe and want to find a ride, check out the website here.

I arrived in Paris and upon parking the car, I see an artist painting on his easel and hear a semi-pleasant voice singing opera from a 4th floor building. Ah, Paris. City of the arts! 🙂

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Upon my first walk, I saw the famous Notre Dame cathedral. From a distance it looked massive and the front was one of the most impressive facades I had seen.

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I got to a Metro and met my friend Jason Brown , whom I had been friends with since university days. It was nice to make his acquaintance again after a long 3 years. There was a lot of catching up to do and catch up we did.

The following day I met up with another friend Astra from the UK, who happened to be in Paris studying French. The funny thing about Astra besides her personality, is that we always seem to see each other every time I come to Europe. The past 5 times I have come to Europe, I have run into her. Sometime for just 15 minutes and sometimes for a few days. I have love for her and she’s a good friend.

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Together, we walked to the Eiffel tower and Wow, what an amazing structure. I mean, yes, it’s the Eiffel tower, but some monuments lack the awe upon seeing them (such as the Pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall for me) but the Eiffel tower really was a treat. We of course went up after waiting for only 15 minutes in line and saw some nice views.

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We walked to the Trocodero, to the Arc de Triomphe and finally to the Champs Elysees. It was sort of surreal day to me because, you are somewhat raised seeing these places and then you actually see them all in one day. It was a good day, I took the metro back to Jason’s and rested that night to prepare for the next couple of days of tourism for me.

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The next day Jason and I traversed around the city. We checked out some nice viewpoints, the front of the Opera house, a really nice Starbucks (you’ll see the photo below) and some art districts. One of the crazy highlights was the consuming of “Steak Tartare.” That’s straight up raw ground beef, mixed with a little soy sauce, tabasco and some other flavor. I don’t know why I did it, I guess Jason sort of “egged” me on. It was his first time trying it too. I didn’t get sick, but I definitely felt weird after and proceeded to eat a whole lemon and get drinking some beer real quick. What the @#@@ was I thinking?? Ah, this is what travel is all about 🙂

Ah, steak tartare...
Ah, steak tartare…

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Yes, this is a Starbucks
Yes, this is a Starbucks
Ah, Europe
Ah, Europe

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The day was nice and it ended with me of course going to a Couchsurfing meetup in Paris. The pub where it was held got seriously packed out with “CSer’s” and I met many people from all over the world as I always do. It’s always a great and fast way to make friends and get great local advice on the region you’re traveling to. If you’re in Paris, every Monday night at the Lions’ Pub at 8pm is the meetup. Good times~

My last day was spent visiting some museums. I decided to skip the Louvre for the next trip and went to the Musee D’Orsay and Musee Rodin. Together I saw some pieces of art I had wanted to see for a long time and Rodin is my favorite sculptor, so it was a treat to see some of his works. He truly had a gifted hand. I couldn’t take photos all the time of these works, so I’ll post which art I really enjoyed below.

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Renoir
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Monet
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Tiffany Vase
Tiffany Vase
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Rodin

I had an amazing time in Paris, there is so much to see. It was a wonderful 4 days, and I hope to spend more time there soon. Thanks for reading, and if you need tips on traveling there or anywhere, feel free to connect with me on my facebook.

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5 Tips for picking a country you want to travel to..


So you want to leave the country for a trip? Where to go???

Have you traveled before? How long are you planning to go, what do you want to do? So many questions with answers to come, whether before or during your trip.

I have traveled to about 45 countries ( I think that’s the count so far) and I have learned a thing or two when it comes to preparing and deciding where to go. I thought this post could be focused around what has worked best for me when it comes to deciding where to explore, discover and enjoy internationally. Here are some of my personal tips when it comes to deciding where in this beautiful world to travel to.

1. Don’t set too many expectations


When deciding to travel abroad and if you’re a first timer, you’re probably having loads of thoughts and things to expect when you get to that country. While there are things that are certain, such as the Colosseum in Rome is still in the same place and cheese in France is still stinky, there are many things you will encounter that you just cannot foresee. It’s a beautiful thing to not know everything you are going to do and experience. Keep an open agenda when you will travel and you will have an amazing fruitful experience.

One can plan a trip making bookings for everything from restaurants, museums, sights and nightlife. If you have a short trip and you want to “pack” it all in, go ahead, but I used to do this a bit and while it is fun at first, it will be even more rewarding if you allow to the trip to “give itself to you.” You may meet someone, make friends with other travelers who invite you to go with them to a secret beach town, or a festival is happening somewhere that you had no idea was happening prior.

If you need to make extensive plans, because that’s just your personality, then do it, but allow to be flexible for the “unexpected” to happen and allow the trip to evolve. It will be wonderful.

2. Pick a country/region based on how much time you have.

Once I was in a Tibetan/Nepalese shop here in Seattle, where I live, and I got chatting with the owner of the store, who was a seasoned traveler, having gone back and forth from the Himalayas most of his life. He told me a quote that has stayed with me since that conversation and that is: “Time is currency.”

It’s true, when traveling, if you have money, you probably don’t have that much time, and if you have time, you probably don’t have that much money. It can be one or the other commonly with the traveler. Determining how much “time” you have for a trip or journey will influence where you go.

Of course you can travel anywhere in the world for however long, but some places deserve more time so you can experience and soak it all in. Places like India, Africa or South East Asia should be experienced in more than a couple of weeks, while places in Europe, the Caribbean or Central America may not deserve as much time. The farther you are traveling, the more time you should probably commit to your journey.

So decide the time frame. Two weeks, three weeks, three months, one year, or just a long weekend. One you have figured a basic idea of the time, you can think about where you want to begin your international travel.

3.Take some time to contemplate.


You have decided you want to go abroad. Wonderful! You have an idea of the time frame..Yes! Now where to go, where to go….:)

I have found that taking some time to contemplate, whether it be in a place of nature, a walk, a coffee shop or somewhere in solitude will help in determining where to go.

How good are your geography skills? Are you familiar with many regions of the world and all they have to offer? If you don’t, going to your local library or bookstore and exploring the many travel guide books may help. Look at a world map for a little bit, read up on some potential places and then find a relaxing spot and dream away….Where to go…Where to go…


Sometimes for me, I take months thinking, and sometimes, it just hits me and I know right away where I am supposed to go. Try to follow your heart’s instincts and it will be great.

Rick Steves
, a well-known travel writer, recommends going to places that will challenge you the most. I would have to agree with Rick on this. Travel will ultimately make you grow and learn about the world around you, so if you’re up for it, think about places that will be great and also challenging. Stepping out of your “comfort zone” and “shattering the box” will give you many rewards in the long run. But don’t let me influence you… 😉
Dream away…


4. Once you have picked a country, do some research!


So you have picked a country or countries, and are excited to be going! Now for some homework. First, do you have a passport? Can you travel to that country? Does it require a visa? Where are the cheapest flights? These are some basic questions one should ask once after deciding, (unless you already factored these into your decision process already).

“What is the culture like? What is the history? How is transportation? Where should I stay?”
More questions to ask. Go to the library and check out the guidebook on the country. Or if you’re a seasoned traveler, just go, you know you can get around and people are generally helpful most places in the world.

What language is spoken in the country is an important one to know about and it will be helpful to know how much of the language is needed to move around. If you are an English speaker, you generally can get around, but don’t always count on this to help you out. Learn the language, or buy a phrasebook. Learning the phrases will open countless doors to otherwise unexpected opportunities to fellowship with local people.

Doing some research may change up your travel destinations and you will learn of various places you want to check out.

5. “Is there peace in my heart about it?”


Do you feel this is the place for you to go? Ask yourself that question again and follow your intuition. You know what will be good for you.

There are so many places to explore and discover, things to eat and drink, people to laugh and smile with, stories to be heard and stories to be told and moments where you say to yourself “This is amazing.”

Happy Traveling, if you have specific questions, feel free to email me at saleme@gmail.com or add me as a friend on Facebook here or follow me on twitter @shawnsaleme.

Ciao~~~

Another Post, Another Country

So it has been a few weeks since the last post

Time to write again. In a nutshell, the past month has involved:

*Snorkeling at night with handmade underwater flashlights in Mexico.

*Diving with rich sea life in the Holchan Reserve in Belize.


*Climbing atop large Mayan Temples in the middle of a vast forest, full of wildlife.

*Eating Belizean Stew Chicken and having Coconut Brittle for some dessert. Mmm!

*Continuing to heal from Ankle injury by doing physical therapy, acupuncture, applying arnica and massaging.

There has been other news as well. It’s nice to remember some of the good highlights so far this year and I hope there will be more to come this year, thanks for reading and looking.

Shawn

Shawn’s Top 11 of 11

So here it is folks, the top 11 of 11. Some of the top highlights of this year and indeed it was a good year. So without further adieu…

#11. Montana in the Winter

Had a wonderful time exploring Western Montana in February, seeing Buffalo, Elk and snowboarding. Yellowstone was beautiful and Livingston is a great little historical town. Thanks Harmony for the great time!

#10. Greenwich, Connecticut.

I went to Greenwich, CT for work and it was a wonderful East Coast, New England of a town. Throughout the week I met some wonderful people who have big hearts, saw world class musician Rob Mathes play some amazing gospel music and witnessed the live poetry of Maya Angelou. Phenomenal week. Thank you Greenwich community for a wonderful time.

#9. Schweitzer, Idaho.

Amazing day of snowboarding. This resort in Sandpoint, ID reminded me of the slopes in Switzerland with long ridge runs, plenty of back country and many opportunities to bomb hills. Had a blast with my good buddy Aaron Kuhn, a guy I had not seen in over 10 years! We both volunteered building a school in the Caribbean. Funny how impactful experiences like that bring people back together.

#8. Seafair, Seattle, Washington.

So picture thousands of boats on Lake Washington, all partying and playing, with high speed boats racing not too far away and the US Navy’s flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels doing an airshow a couple hundred feet above your head! Yeah this is Seafair! My sailboat was dead on in the center and the perfect place for viewing. Did I have as many friends come to my private marina? Oh yeah!

#7. Dumpling House, Xian, China.

So Xi’An, China is home of the Terra Cotta Warriors archaeological site and also a famous dumpling restaurant. My sister and fellow travelers which included, an Israeli, two Brits, a Finnish man, Chinese Beijinger and a guy from California all came together to enjoy the feast of the town. All sorts of plate of dumplings, soups and the famous Dragon Tea. It was all wonderful and a meal to remember for years to come. My #7.

#6. Jjimjilbang, Seoul, South Korea.

A Jjimjilbang is a Korean bath house/spa for the family. The men have their bathes, the women have theirs and there is a large communal area to relax, steam, sauna, cool down, watch movies, eat, bask in salt rooms or yellow charcoal rooms and just let your body have some rejuvenation. Great time! Read one of my previous posts about it to learn more.

#5. Meeting Freddy Gaughana and couchsurfing in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

So I came to Chiang Mai without an agenda, and an agenda was brought forth to me immediately. I loved it. I met a couchsurfer that instantly became my brother. Freddy Gaughana was an Indonesian with a big heart. He served in Banda Aceh for five years right after the Tsunami hit and witnessed horrible atrocities for the weeks, months to come. He was working for the Indonesian government managing the logistics of the aid coming in. Then after his five years, he decided to join the VSO (British Peace corps) and serve in Thailand assisting Burmese whose human rights are violated everyday under a hostile government. We clicked instantly and we had a wonderful time. We went to an Anti-Trafficking concert sponsored by MTV/USAID/Australia AID and he introduced me to his friends in Indonesia when I went there. Such a good friend.

#4. Secret Waterfalls, Bogor, Indonesia.

I came to visit Bogor, Indonesia and came to a wonderful waterfall that was only accessible by moto-bike and hiking a good distance. My couchsurfing host Yudha, took me a this place I felt like I was back in time, primal and extremely free. I thanked God for being there. Thank you Yudha and Brother for bringing me here. 🙂

#3. Bandung, Indonesia.

Bandung was the former home of my family. My Dutch-Indo history was taught to me as a kid and being able to see the history and make friends there was amazing. My Oma, who is 100 years old, lived the first 40 years of her life there until WWII and I had seen many photos from the 20’s. I had a wonderful time exploring places such as where my Grandparents met and had their first dances, where my Oma had played as a kid and going all over the place with couchsurfer’s who were the most active I had ever met in my life. Motorcycling all over, volcanos, foods, sweets, candy shops my relatives ate at. Yes, it was wonderful.

#2. Angkor Temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The Angkor Temples of Cambodia are majestic, rugged and just amazing. It was adventurous, awe-inspiring, spirit-filling and I loved every minute of it. I hired a Tuk tuk for the day and explored a vast wilderness. Read my former post here.

#1. Meeting Romi at Burning Man, Black Rock City, Nevada.

Meeting Romi has been a wonderful and serendipitous adventure that has shocked, shaken and lifted me all at the same time. We met the first day I arrived at Burning Man and had never left each other’s side. We danced, explored, did acro-yoga, ate foods, met wonderful people, participated in huge art structures, and just enjoyed life. The environment provided at the playa was one big playground with 50,000 creative, expressive and fascinating individuals. It was a great place to come together and we haven’t stopped adventuring. Burning Man was a phenomenal experience and I look forward to going back. Nothing like anywhere on this planet.

That’s it folks, thanks for reading and looking! Happy New Year to All! May 2012 be even more wonderful for you!

Love Shawn

Shawn’s Top Five Travel destinations (from previous experience)

So I get asked a lot, what was your favorite country? And, the truth is, that is tough to say because each country has its own uniqueness and beauty to it. And each travel experience has its own significance to the traveler at that given time. So, instead of posting favorite countries, I would rather post some places I have visited that have been special experiences for me.

These are places where there isn’t a whole lot of tourism, the culture is great and its a little off the beaten path. Enjoy~

#5. Galway, Ireland

I first went to Galway, Ireland in March of 2003 (Yes, for St. Pattys day) and it was a wonderful little town. The Irish are some of the most genuine fun people you can be friends with on this planet, and many a pint (The Guinness is amazing) was shared with the elderly Irish who spoke words of wisdom and cracked a few jokes in the pub. I had some great conversations, made some friends and enjoyed the spirit. On the Western side of Ireland, you can fly into Shannon Airport, or catch a bus from Dublin.

#4 Siem Reap, Cambodia

So Siem Reap is in Cambodia, and it does get it’s share of tourism due to the majestic Angkor Temples, but it wasn’t so bad in my opinion.

The Angkor Temples are absolutely a must to see in one’s lifetime. See it now before more tourists go to visit. When I visited the Pyramids, the Taj and the Great Wall (the 2nd time), there were all sorts of people trekking around. While it would be nice to see it when no one’s there, you’d probably have to put some “palm oil” in some security guards hands (say $100) to get a personal showing…But the Angkor temples were not that crowded surprisingly and I felt like I was in another world.

Picture massive stone temples spread across miles with all sorts of jungle and nature intermixed with it. It was stunning.

There are plenty of guesthouses to stay at. If you decide to go because of my account, go talk to Mr. Kunn at Jasmine Lodge, tell him you are friends with me and he’ll hook you up.

#3 Big Sur, California

Okay, so Big Sur is only 2 hours away from where I grew up, but it is one of my favorite places in the world. Why? Because it is absolutely beautiful there!

Picture big trees and high cliffs with awesome Pacific ocean crashing into the shore. A peaceful place to relax, reflect, drink a glass of wine, soak in a hot spring, enjoy some local exploration.

Many a good memory made in Big Sur. You can camp, rent a cabin or a house (Check Airbnb.com) or even stay at a monastery if you are looking for some reflection. Contemplation.com

#2 Dahab, Egypt

Dahab, Egypt. On the Red Sea coast in the Sinai peninsula, it takes about 12-14 hours by bus to get there from Cairo. I had taken a different route (van in the western desert, bus to the coast, Ferry to Sharm Al Sheik and bus to Dahab. 🙂

It is a small divers town, and it is one the best reefs I have been to in my life. I went diving 150 feet deep here and was amazed on how intact the reef really was. Since it lies between two deserts, the reef doesn’t suffer too much damage from storms.

Chill guesthouses to stay at, great seafood and other cuisine as you relax by the water. Read a book, go snorkel, dive during the day. Relax, dance, have a drink at night. Make some friends with the expats that have chosen to live there long term. It’s one of those places you don’t really want to leave. And if you get antsy, then go bus up to Israel only 4 hours away. Or hop a ferry to Saudi Arabia if you feel so bold.

#1 Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

So I was recommended to go to Cesky Krumlov by two of my good traveler friends, and when the opportunity presented itself when I was living in Europe, I took advantage of it. It was a wonderful three days.

Many towns and cities in Europe got destroyed during WWII. But when the Germans came to Cesky Krumlov, the citizens ran to surrender pleading that they wouldn’t bomb the city. And it wasn’t bombed. It still is the same city that has existed for hundreds of years. And it is very very beautiful.

One doesn’t need a car or a bus to get around. You take a three-hour train ride from Prague and here you are in Cesky Krumlov. Cobblestone hilly streets, small shops, good food, great beer (and cheap), secret tea houses, castles, cathedrals and surrounding forest and rivers.

If you go, stay at the Krumlov house. Or if you want some more action, stay at Hostel 99. Good places. Enjoy.

if you find this room, you have found a great secret spot....(hint: Monks)

That’s it folks. There are many places to go and many more places I love, but these stood out for me over the years. Happy Traveling!

1111 a time of waking up

Why is it that I see 1111 frequently and at the same time experience significant shifts in my perspective and feeling as I reach the age 30?

What is it about this time in life? Is it just a number or a symbolic time? Mr. Jesus Christ began a journey at 30, I’ve been told “never trust a person over 30” and well, let’s be honest, 30 just doesn’t sound that young anymore. Of course, there will be people who will always tell you “you are young” or “you are old.”

I’ve never cared much for age, I mean so what, you’ve lived a few more days than someone else, does it really make you that much more wiser, beautiful, worthy or intelligent?

So far I’ve noticed shifts as I age, shifts in thinking, and a greater acquirement of experiences, knowledge, people encounters and new feelings. This all adds to the soup of life and it’s wonderful.

TO tell you the truth, I have felt like I am already past thirty and am happy to say, “my twenties were well lived.” I never want to die suddenly knowing that I didn’t live life to the full. For me, I would say, yes, I have lived life to the full. I have attempted to be a loving person, positive, and learn how to better interact with my fellow human being, be it a person who is from any part of the world. I have felt I have come to a good place in having a very good comfortability interacting with just about any person on this planet. But hey, we just reached 7 billion, there’s all sorts of people. Not to say I like everyone deeply, but I always try to impart some positivity or some love to someone. We need as much love as we give to each other on this planet and yes there is an overwhelming amount of darkness out there. Suffering, hurt, pain, death, abuse, betrayal, lies. I’m not living as if it doesn’t exist, I just have decided that I don’t want to dwell on such things and instead focus on the good that exists and that should be the norm instead. Love, care, compassion, community, happiness, eating together, laughing, touch and dancing. Much better, yes?

So I’ve been having this reoccurrence of the number 1111 come up in my life and I’ve been told it is a number that symbolizes “waking up” in a nutshell.

I first came to know of it as I was in my cousin’s art structure at a festival called Burning Man. The art structure was called “Constellation of One.”

The Constellation of one
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Inside I walked in, because you see, there is a secret door. I knew about it having been a supporter of the project prayerfully and financially, but not everyone knew there was…

I hunkered in with a friend and two new friends, and came to meet one "Mr. White."

Now I don't know if Mr. White was an angelic being, a shaman, or just another person walking this planet. But something was special about him. He was extremely kind and welcomed myself and buddies to the inside of the mirrored constellation of one, and together we communed. As we chatted in our circle lit somewhat by electric candles, we talked about the uniqueness of the shape of this structure. It had seemed that the Constellation of One was a sort of mystical shape, found in various cultures. It is known as the "Merkabah."

In Hebrew tradition, the Merkabah is considered a “Chariot of God” and is found in the Hebrew scriptures and in Ezekiel’s vision of the throne of God. I had been familiar with this vision in the past and it was interesting to find so much written about the Merkabah. Some define the Merkabah as a spiritual vehicle to achieve access to the higher realms. Had this been some of the inspiration behind my cousin constructing her art?

My cousin Kirsten and I (right after I walked out from the Constellation of One)

So as we were talking about the significance of the Merkabah, Mr. White also mentioned the significance to the number 1111 and 1112. I told him, “wait did you just say that 1111 was a significant number?” He said “yes, why?” And I said “Well, last night I spent the night in Reno at a hotel and my room number was 1111!” Everyone in the Constellation then went “Whooooaaaaa”

Intriguing. Wonder. Excitement.

Mr. White told me it was very significant and I embraced that it occurred but didn’t dwell on it all too long. I had felt a call to come to this gathering known as Burning Man, and so it was yet another confirmation that indeed Shawn Saleme was supposed to be here at this very moment, in his cousins art project that he had been wanting to see for two years, with friends who had been kind enough to bring some of his supplies and gear down from Seattle and in an environment that already was expanding and enlightening his already existing paradigm of life regarding the social interaction of human beings.

Yes, I was supposed to be here. I felt good, positive, very happy and so very happy to be in this art project of my cousins. You know she did projects like this as a teenager when I was a kid? She would take pieces of mirror and put them on a pyramid like structure with wet tissue! Did you also know she has spent the better part of her life in India, Thailand and Bali teaching Yoga and I never see her?! I was hoping to see her at this 50,000 plus person gathering, but there’s no cell phone coverage, no wifi, no nothing. So if I saw her, great, but if I didn’t, oh well. Maybe in Thailand. 🙂

“The three wise men” (my friends who were dressed as such) and I walked out, thanking Mr. White for his conversation and wisdom and as we walked out of the Constellation of One, my friend asked “I want to meet your cousin man” and as I was ducking out of the doorway I said, “Well I don’t know if I will see her..” and as I turned my head to the right, who was there??? “She is here” I said As I stared with an awe and wonder and joy and yes! I walked straight to her and her partner Mitchell and said in a loud dutch voice with accent and all “IK HOU VAN JOU!” Which means I LOVE YOU!

We hugged, we laughed, we were happy to see each other and be united. You know I only have three first cousins, and our family history is fairly international and eclectic so it was absolutely wonderful to see her when I can and tell her how much I had been enjoying the Constellation of One. I asked her if she had known about the Merkabah and if it provided her the inspiration for her art. She said she found out about it later, but that she didn’t know about it and that she had come up with the design in her dreams.

Intriguing. Wonder. Excitement!

It was time to go! I got on my bike and biked off into the desert….The waking up had begun.

Mitchell and I

to be continued yes?

Pray for me in this time if you consider yourself a prayerful person…