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Kirk's South East Asia Adventure

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Hi everyone. My name is Kirk. I'm starting this blog to have somewhat of a living journal as I do a 3 1/2 month trip around southeast Asia.

I decided to do this trip as a reward for myself changing my life around. I'm a recovered alcohol and drug addict. In the course of my addiction it took me to dark places, and I was completely oblivious how lost I was until I was arrested traveling in a car filled with drugs. I hadn't been conscious when the car was pulled over in Yuma Arizona and was the only passenger who still had drugs on them. I was charged with everything they found in the car. It was by far one of the scariest moments in my life.

As I laid in jail I thought I had screwed up my life. That the years I struggled to get my bachelor's degree working full time and going to school were all for nothing. I decided I needed to kill myself, but God had other plans. Now I'm not trying to shove any religious ideas down anyone's throats. This is just my story and how I believe things happened for me.

While in my cell I found a christian book called Gaining Through Losing. It talked about how some of the greatest rewards in our life come from what seems like some of the hardest times. As I read that book I started feeling what I can only account to as God. I started feeling like there was still a purpose for my life and so I started praying.

There are many amazing things that happened in the course to get me to where I am, but this site only allows me to type so much in my bio. Ultimately I received an amazing deal, completed my probation early and got my charge reduced to a misdemeanor, which I'm currently working on getting the equivalent of expunged. I've remained sober the entire time and am amazed at how truly beautiful life can be.

This is meant to serve as a living journal. I appreciate you reading and being a part of my journey with me.

Closing The Door

Bangkok, Thailand

Alright so this is my last blog entry before I head back to the states. I'll check this entry and if I get lots of comments to continue writing when I get to Hawaii then I will.

This trip has definitely been life changing. I wasn't really sure what I expected when I started on this trip. I know this wasn't what I expected, but wonderful in such a different way.

It started out so stressful losing my bank card on the very first day, then dealing with trying to find a way to get cash in countries that are completely cash driven, all the time feeling like I couldn't catch a break. There were moments in the beginning where I felt broken. I thought of giving up and just going home; but a voice inside of me, and many voices from those I love told me to stick it out. 'This to shall pass' I kept thinking, and it did.

On this trip I was able to really discover scuba diving; and find something I'm truly passionate about. I got to take a hard look at myself and see how I handled stress and find better, more effective ways to deal with hard times.

I met so many wonderful people, who will forever be in my heart and memories.
One of the most exciting things about this trip was just to get to meet people. The world is huge, and yet when you travel in it, it opens up. Then it feels small at the same time. Sometimes we look at each other seeing only what makes us different.
Race, color, culture, and we miss what makes us similar. We really are all human. We feel, care, love, hate, struggle, thrive. Everyone has a story, and I feel blessed to have been able to share in others'.
I met so many people from all walks of life, and I was able to look at each one and see our similarities as opposed to our differences. It was a wonderful experience.

I had my heart broken seeing the poverty in some places in the world; and felt overwhelmed viewing a problem that effects so many men, women, and children, and having a feeling of not knowing how to help. This is the way of the world though. It will lift you up and break your heart. Even in the poverty I could still see people enjoying each other, and loving each other, which was very special.

I was able to experience the innate goodness of others and come out from the trip not bitter and jaded, but renewed with a sense of happiness with my fellow man.

There were points in the trip when I would find myself worrying about things. Literally letting fear of unknown run my life. On one of my dives I was diving on a drop off and kept worrying about controlling my breathing and weather a big shark might come up from depths below, Jaws still has put fear in me lol; and then it hit me.

I've been sober now for over 2 years now, coming from a dark place where the only options for my life were jail or death; and now I'm scuba diving in the waters of Indonesia. I thought (pardon my language), but fuck that theoretical shark that may come up from the waters. Far better I die living life happy and fulfilled than dying how I was living before.

I've gotten to know myself, and like what I see. I'm stronger than I give myself credit, and I care for others more than I thought. I was able to learn to let my guard down more and trust in that I will be taken care of. I've made peace with some of my inner turmoil over past situations that I sometimes struggle with, and am able to now trust in the thought that I will be taken care of in the future.

The bottom line life is beautiful if you take time to see the beauty, and it's painful and hard if that's all you look at. I'm taking more time to see the beauty right now. I don't know how my life will turn out, but I'm not going to worry about the future. I'm just going to do each day what I can to leave this world better than I found it, and strive to work at doing things I find myself passionate about.

Thank you to all my friends and family, and everyone reading for having been a part of this journey with me.

Here's links to pictures of the trip:

Nong Kahi:

Chiang Mai:

Koh Phi Phi:



Whale Sharks:



Koh Tao and Koh Samui:


permalink written by  Kirk on November 16, 2012 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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That's Ketchak like Ketchup with out the 'up'

Denpasar, Indonesia

Ok So this is going to be a big post. I was in Bali for about 2 weeks and really had an amazing time.

Before I came I went on CouchSurfing.org and sent a couch request to an amazing girl, Marisa. I asked if I could stay at her place, and if not if we could meet up and hang out.

When I first got to Bali I booked a hostel for 4 nights and then was able to stay with Marisa. She met up with me the first night and we went and had dinner, and I got to meet her friends. The next day she introduced me to some people that were couch surfing at her place and we all rented a car and went to

Uluwatu, and some beaches down south in Bali. The car was pretty cheap to rent, and came with a driver, about $10 each for the whole day. The beaches were beautiful and at Uluwatu, which is a temple on a cliff, we went and saw a Ketchak dance at sunset.

Ketchak is pronounced like Ketchup but you leave out the 'up'. It's really a cool dance. It's a very intricate story involving multiple God's

and one of the God's stealing,through trickery, one of the Goddesses from another God, and all the other God's who help get this girl back and defeat the evil God. The whole thing actually has 50,0000 lines so each dance only displays a part of it. It's called Ketchak after the sound that 70 men are making to create a rhythmic harmony as the dance is performed.

The day after this Marissa had a party at the villa she was staying at

where we all had to let her paint our faces like cats faces. It was a lot of fun. A really cool mix of couch surfers and locals. Everyone had a blast. I really enjoyed meeting and getting to know such a wide varied of cool people.

While originally Marissa said I could stay with her for about 4 days we ended up getting along so well she let me stay for the rest of my trip.

The villa that we stayed at was so nice. It had a pool, and her two cute kittens, Sari and Ginger, which are only 3 months old. I fell in love with them. Still miss them and Marisa :(

One day when Marissa was working I was able to book a scuba trip up to Tulamben in the Northeast corner of Bali. The drive is scary, but beautiful when you get up there. When I mean scary I really mean terrifying. The only similarity Bali roads share with roads in the states is that they are paved and the vehicles have wheels. Other than that all bets are off. It's filled with small narrow roads that cars zip in and out of each others lanes and any other free space on the road is occupied by a scooter doing the same thing. I had to close my eyes and pretend to sleep the whole way up and back. If I was going to die I didn't want to see it happen. lol.

The dives themselves where stunning. I did a wreck dive where I saw a Potatoe Grouper, huge fish, eating a puffer fish. then I did a dive at a reef wall drop off where I saw a glimpse of a black tip reef shark as it dived into the depths. I'm definitely going to invest in an underwater camera so I can start filming my dives. I very much regret not having one on this trip.

The day after Marisa and I drove out to Tanah Lot. A temple on the water in the ocean of Bali.

Very pretty temple. We got ourselves blessed in the water flowing inside the temple and walked around the little shops littering the road.

A couple days after that Marisa, Julie and David, a french couple staying at her place, and I all went up to Ubud in the mountains for a few days.

Ubud was great.

I went and walked in the Monkey Forest. which was beautiful and filled with monkeys.
We then explored all the temples around Ubud which are amazing. There's one that has tons of fountains and natural spring in the center.
When we came there we got to see a blessing ceremony that was happening.
Then we went to another temple which was old and stunning. You had to walk down a million stairs to get there though in the heat so the way back up was no fun, but still what an adventure.

On the way back from the temples we stopped at a local coffee farm and were schooled on all the various methods of their handmade coffee growing and brewing. One of the specialties here for coffee is coffee from a Luwat. I really can't believe I decided to try a sip of this, but basically there is the is cat like creature called a luwat that eats whole coffee beans. The beans aren't digested but passed and fermented in the animals body and then passed out. They are then washed and cleaned, then roasted and grinded and turned into coffee. Supposedly it's very healthy for you. I want to meet the person who saw this animals poop and decided, hmm lets brew that. Alas when in Rome. It was super bitter. Definitely not something I really enjoyed, but I can say I tried it.

The other real treat I found in Ubud was the spas. They were fricken unbelievable. I found a spa called Sang Spa where you could get an hour long Balinese massage, an hour long body scrub, which included a shower, with a yogurt body rub, and a bath filled with flower petals, hot ginger tea, and cold passion fruit for about $15 US. I couldn't believe it. I went 3 times to make sure it was real. lol

Once back in Seminyak, the area I was staying I spent my last days in Bali relaxing and hanging out with Marisa and her friends.

One night we went to go to a movie down in Kuta; and it was crazy. All the traffic was stopped because there was a huge procession going on that was an exorcism.

They were doing a parade with the whole community walking this man with a bad spirit in him, and if the possessed man felt he needed to stop then the parade would have to stop and try to get the spirit out. The spirit felt it needed to stop in a busy intersection. I thought it was fascinating to see a whole community care so much about someone that they would have a religious parade to help him. Really neat.

One thing I can say is that Bali wasn't exactly what I expected, simply because it's so populated, about 5 million people on an island the size of Oahu which has only 1 million, but it is amazing and beautiful, filled with a lot of lovely people, and culture.

I'm now in Bangkok enjoying my last 5 days in Asia and then on to Hawaii to start my new life. I'll probably do one new post before I leave, but all of you please pray for me, send good vibes my way, whatever you do to put positivity in the world send a little my way so I hopefully have an easy transition into life when I get to Hawaii. Thank you all.

permalink written by  Kirk on November 15, 2012 from Denpasar, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Great Balls of Fire

Nong Khai, Thailand

So this is about a week late. I have no excuse besides laziness. I'm sorry guys. So when I last left you I was heading to Nong Khai for the Naga Fireballs festival.

I took a VIP bus from Chiang Mai to Udothani. I made sure to pay for the VIP bus this time. It was a much better experience then the trip I took from Phuket to Bangkok. The bus did no smell like pee and I slept for a good portion of the trip.

When I got off the bus at Udothani I knew I had to take another bus to Nong Khai. I got of the bus and was trying to go to a bus stop and there was a cab driver who kept trying to tell me that I couldn't take a bus from that bus stop, that I had to go to another one and that he would take me to it. He wanted 100 baht. I accepted and he drove me somewhere and stopped on the side of the street and said that was a bus stop. I refused to leave the cab. I told him I wasn't getting out on the side of the street where there was no ticket counter or signs for buses. He then took me back to the same bus stop we had come from and pointed to another bus and said Nong Khai. Then he wanted me to pay him for taking me absolutely no where. I don't think his heart was in it though, because as I started to argue with him he jumped in his car and sped off.

I jumped on a bus to Nong Khai and then took a tuk tuk to the Mutt Mee hostel where I had booked a room. It was a cute place right on the river. I liked the hostel for the most part. The owner seemed a little fake and pretentious when he talked to you, but other than that it was nice. Nong Khai was a cute town, but compared to Chiang Mai it is very sleepy and not as pretty. I spent most of my time in Nong Khai reading and relaxing.

I had to take a night train from there back to Bangkok on the 30 to catch my flight to Bali on the 31st so I had to try to see if I could see any of the fireballs that were supposed to shoot up from the Mekong river on the 29th.

I originally thought I could see it directly from where I was in Nong Khai, but I found out that the best place to see it was about 40 km away in Phon Phisai. So I rented a motorbike and drove out there.

I unfortunately didn't see any fireballs, but did see an amazing festival. The fireballs don't come on an exact date; they are just around certain times. This year they were predicted to happen around the 29th and the 30th. Sometimes the fireballs don't even show up until after the festival happens.

When I got to Nong Khai I found they were holding the big festival on the 30th, but there was still a good size on the 29th. I had been hoping to see the fireballs but that's OK. I still enjoyed myself.

At first I thought I was seeing some fireballs, but then realized it was people lighting off lanterns into the sky. They do this on the full moon of October. It was beautiful but would trick me and get me excited if I saw one floating far off down the river.

I took a night train to Bangkok on the 30th. It was very nice. I just laid in the cot, watched some movies I had on my computer, and slept for the night.

We arrived in Bangkok around 6am. I paid 20 baht to use the showers at the train station. They were pretty gross, but I got showered and changed and was ready for my trip to Bali.

The trip there would have been OK except the ticket counter in Bangkok forgot to give me my boarding pass for my connecting flight in Singapore, and I didn't notice until we landed in Singapore. This part of the trip ended up giving an aerobic workout. When we landed we landed late, and my next flight was boarding at the end of the terminal I departed the first plane in. I ran down there and told them I wasn't given my boarding pass and showed them my booking confirmation e-mail. The sent me to the beginning of that terminal strip to get a boarding pass. After waiting in line at that transfer desk they told me I had to go to a transfer counter that was at the far end of a completely different terminal. I ran down there, waited in line, and then had to literally sprint back through 2 terminal strips to barely make it on my plane. I wasn't alone at least. There was another couple who had the same thing happen to them that were my running partners. Ugh!!! I made it to Bali though. So I will be doing a post on that very soon. I hope everyone is good.

permalink written by  Kirk on November 6, 2012 from Nong Khai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Chedis and Temples and Food Oh Mai

Chiang Mai, Thailand

First of all let me start by saying I'm very sorry that I haven't updated my blog in about a week. I did about 36 hours of traveling to get from Phuket to Chiang Mai a little over a week ago. The train portion of the trip wasn't too bad, but if you read my last blog post you know that the bus trip from Phuket to Bangkok was horrible, but all worth it in the end.

Chiang Mai might actually be my favorite city in Thailand. I'm so thankful I was able to make it up here.

Where ever you walk in Chiang Mai you'll run into a temple or chedi just amongst the buildings in the streets. It's amazing. I would be walking down a street and then BAM there in what looks like a driveway is a huge gold buddha, or BAM there's a temple, or BAM there's a chedi. I felt like Emril I was saying BAM so much.

When I first arrived in Chiang Mai I took a tuk tuk to a guesthouse someone in Phuket had recommended to me only to find it was closed. I asked the tuk tuk driver where to go and she took me to a place that was right near by. It was OK, but a little bit of a hole. Not super clean, but about 250 baht for a room with hot water ($8). I woke up late the next day so I wasn't able to check out and had to book one more night. During the day I walked around and ended up researching places to stay, and I'm so glad I did.

I found a hostel called the Eco Resort by Immeco hotels, or just called the IM Eco Resort, and let me tell you I felt like a king. They had a deal that if you booked over 3 nights the room was only 187 baht.
That's about $6, and when you get to the place it's amazing. The hostel room only has only one other bed which was unoccupied for 3 nights, came with a buffet breakfast, had a beautiful garden area, and had a swimming pool with 6 lanes for swimming laps. The place is immaculately clean and decorated too. It's one of the few times I felt something was too good to be true and it wasn't. I've been really happy.

I did end up getting a freelancing job on the way up so while I've been here I ended doing about 30 hours of work programming some websites, which took up some time, but it's nice to be able to have some money coming in rather than going out while traveling.

The people up here in Chiang Mai are so nice. It's different than in southern Thailand. Some times in the south I would feel like I was viewed as an ATM not a person, like people were approaching you trying to see what angle they could play to get money out of you or sell you something. The people aren't really aggressive up here, and they're very polite and kind. So I've done my part to give the same respect and love back.

I rented a motorbike one day and drove up to this temple on the hill.
It was beautiful and there were stunning views of Chiang Mai on the way up. It's an interesting temple. It was built up there after a king put a holy relic on a white elephants back, and
where the elephant collapsed and died was declared a holy place and they built the temple.

While driving the motorcycle though I took a corner wrong, going slowly, but I ran into a steel door on a wall. I ended up busting one of the plastic outer casings of the bike near the foot rest. I had got insurance, but was still worried, because I would still have to cover a huge deductible. Luckily everything is cheap in Chiang Mai. I went to store and the guy gave me a name of his mechanic shop. To fix the bike it cost 345 baht, about $11. I was shocked.

One of the real beautiful things about this city is to just walk around. They have a huge moat and pieces of the old city walls going around the original town of Chiang Mai.

The views are very striking.

Finally one of the other thing I love about this city is the price. It's so cheap, and filled with amazing restaurants, and street food. I found these street deserts they make where it's cooked cups of sweetened coconut milk with corn or green onions in it. They're amazing, cheap and delicious. I fell in love with this dish local to the area called Khao Soi. It's a dish made with curry filled with vegetables, noodles, topped with crunchy noodles garnished with lime and onions. Sometimes it has chicken, but always really crazy good.

Comparatively to the south of Thailand things are a lot cheaper here. Like 60 baht for a 1/2 foot massage ($1.50), 120 for a full hour massage ($3), food ranges, but is generally pretty cheap like around a buck / buck fifty to eat.

I'm so thankful that I was able to make it up here. After coming here I can't imagine going to Thailand and not traveling this way. I guess everything works out the way it's supposed to.

I'm leaving tomorrow night to head to Nong Khai in north eastern Thailand for the Naga Fireballs festival. I'll update you all shortly after that. I hope everyone's well.

If you want to see the pictures there at :

permalink written by  Kirk on October 25, 2012 from Chiang Mai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Veggin out

Phuket, Thailand

So I after my awesome trips to Koh Phi Phi and Railay I came back to Phuket. I stayed a really cheap clean hostel in Patong that I liked. When you're backpacking and you find a place that's cheap, has hot water, and is clean it's hard to leave.

I was also waiting for my friend Art, who was visiting Thailand from San Diego, to make it in to Phuket. Unfortunately I was to find out that Art couldn't make it. Art has a Mexican passport and a US Resident card. When he bought his ticket he went to the Mexican consulate and they informed him that he could fly in to Thailand and get a visa on arrival. This ended up not being the case. When Art went to the airport they told him he needed to have his Visa already. The airlines originally told him they would help re arrange the flight if he went and got his Visa. He went and did this only to find out that the travel agency listed him as a no show and in the end they wouldn't help re arrange his flight without him having to pay $1800. It was very sad.

Since I was no longer waiting for Art I decided to stay in Phuket a shorter amount of time and then go to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand which I had wanted to see, but didn't think I would make the journey up here this time.

I stayed for a little while in Phuket to see some of the annual Vegetarian Festival. Now to the novice this sounds cute. Let me explain what this festival is about in the cliff note version.

So back in the day some Chinese actors in Phuket were struck with Malaria. They believed that they were sick because they weren't

honoring their Gods. So in order to honor their Gods they went on a vegetarian diet and got better. The local Thais liked this and they started a festival on the 9th lunar month each year spanning 9 days for good luck. During this time they are to wear white, abstain from alcohol, sex, and meat. During this process some believe that the Gods inhabit them and they are spared pain which they inflict on themselves.
You will see people with various objects pierced through there mouth like the guy on the left, and the guy on the right is holding an axe which he is scraping his mouth with. You will see them walking down the street in a spiritual trance. They also throw firecrackers into the street during the parade to ward off evil spirits.
There was a few times I was pretty scared of getting maimed by the fireworks. While the Gods were protecting them I was pretty sure the same wasn't being held true for me. It was a neat festival, but very intense as well.

After 2 days of the festival I did a long trekk in an overnight bus to Bangkok about 12 hours, and then a 15 hour train ride to Chiang Mai. It was a very long trip. The train ride was comfortable, but I think I would I would have appreciated anything after that bus ride.

I bought the ticket for the bus ride through the hostel I was staying at without thinking about it. It was cheap. After buying it I read about the multiple different kind of buses that do this trip. Just in case anybody decides to take one of these buses take the VIP buses. They are about 300 more baht than the others, $6, but I believe probably worth it. I was not so lucky. My bus trip was a 3 or 4 different rides, changing buses to end up in an overnight bus that smelled so horrible. I have no idea how anyone else slept. When ever the bus started moving and pumping air it smelled like a man's urinal. I barely slept at all. I was so grateful to be off that thing once we arrived in Bangkok; and since have been testing the air and appreciate the non piss smell all around. You live and learn I guess.

I just got in Chiang Mai after about 36 hours of traveling so I will let you all now how my adventures go here after I sleep. Take care.

permalink written by  Kirk on October 18, 2012 from Phuket, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Monkeying Around part 2

Railay, Thailand

So I traveled over to Railay beach with the Kiwis. I have to say it might be one of the most stunning beach areas I've been to yet on this trip.

Railay is a very small destination of beaches spreading on both sides of a land strip surrounded by dramatic cliffs. It really is breathtaking. It doesn't take very long to walk around any of it either. The accommodation in Railay is a little more expensive, but the food is really cheap so that helps make up for the price difference of places to stay.

When we arrived on Railay we pulled into the mangrove side of the town. There is not a swimming beach there, but to walk to any of the beaches in Railay it literally takes like 5-10 minutes on really easy paths. When you read about it in the tour books they talk about east and west Railay and it makes it feel like it is a hike to get to the different sides, but it's not at all it's a very quick walk.

What Railay is really known for though is the rock climbing; and with the dramatic cliffs you can easily see why. There's
not a huge night life here, but it was nice to have some time to just unwind. Definitely has the feel of a lover's destination.

We spent our time going snorkeling on the beaches and lying around in the pool at the hotel
. It was very nice to just have some slow time to relax, and because it was so remote and not very populated there were
monkeys that would travel right through the hotel area I was staying at. These monkeys were pretty calm. The ones on Phi Phi were a little ghetto, I think because the tour guides fed them sugar; but these ones here wouldn't try to run up to you and steal stuff which was nice.

I spent my time in Railay just being grateful for the gift that I get to spend in such a beautiful place in the world. It's amazing to not be working every single day, and be able to really just experience this.

I wish I had more to report, but it wasn't an excitement filled trip to Railay; just a very relaxing beautiful time.

permalink written by  Kirk on October 12, 2012 from Railay, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Monkeying Around part 1

Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

I made it to Koh Phi Phi and had such a great time. The island is beautiful. The first day I hiked up to a viewpoint which over looks Ton Sai Bay. You can see on the picture to the left it's a strip of land with water on both sides connecting the two large portions of the island. The view is very stunning. I then hiked over the mountain and walked to some of the northern beaches. It was about a 2 hour journey, but totally worth it. I came to one beach that had a security guard by the entrance. I tried asking him what was down the beach but he just smiled and waved me in. Thinking about it later I believe he thought that I was a guest at the private resort that the beach was on, but it worked out great for me. There wasn't many people, the water was so warm and there was a great hammock I curled up in and read a book all day. I then hiked back to Ton Sai Bay.

When I got back I made friends with a couple people in my hostel and went out to dinner with them and then some bars. I only drank cokes while they drank buckets and it was such a fun night.

The next morning I ended up going on a snorkel tour with one of the girls, Merrie, who was from London. It was loads of fun. While on the tour we met some really fun Kiwis (people from New Zealand),
and another two girls from London and Boston. I believe it's because we were all the funnest people on the boat so we naturally gravitated towards each other.

The tour took us from our beach to Bamboo island to snorkel and lay around, then we went to a reef outcrop near our beach for more

snorkeling and finally to monkey beach to interact with the local monkeys. The journey was great and we started to accumulate quite a large group of people to hang out with on the island.

After the tour we all met up and went out that night; which couldn't have been more of a good time. Everyone laughed and enjoyed each others company, and we stayed out til 3AM!

The next day Merrie left and so did Steph, from London, and Sarah, from Boston. Which left me and the Kiwis. I found out that the Kiwis, Penny and Emma, were headed to Railay as well so we decided to travel together the next day. After checking out of our rooms we all went to go have a massage at one of the places on the near their hotel. It was probably one of the most un relaxing massages ever. Not necessarily because the girls doing it weren't good but, but because we couldn't stop laughing. Penny had this one lady who was very strong, and every time I looked over her face was wincing, but if she showed that it hurt the lady would push and prod that area more, and Emma kept being ticklish and laughing or screaming when the lady pulled her in a direction she didn't think comfortable. The strong mas-sues then started to get into our laughing and was smacking Penny in Emma in the butt all the time. I laughed so hard I was crying.

Phi Phi was amazing. I'm in Railay right now which is stunning, but I'll report to you all about that tomorrow or the next day in part 2 of this entry. I hope everyone is well. Thank you for reading.

permalink written by  Kirk on October 10, 2012 from Ko Phi Phi, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Underwater Adventures

Phuket, Thailand

So I got to Phuket. The trip here was an adventure on it's own let me tell you.

My flight was supposed to leave Clark airport in Angeles City in the Philippines at 11:05am, I was to have a lay over in Kuala Lampur, and then I had to fly to at 8:40 PM to Phuket. Well the night before the flight I received an e-mail from Air Asia saying urgent pre-boarding info on your flight from Clark to Kuala Lampur, that's what the subject read. Then the e-mail said your flight from Manila to Kuala Lampur is moved to 10PM to arrive in Kuala Lampur at 2AM. There were many things that worried me with this e-mail: (a) My flight was from Angeles city not Manila. Manila was a 600 baht bus ride away, and I had just traveled from there to be in Clark for my flight, but I didn't worry too much about this, because in one of my flight bookings prior from Air Asia had said I was flying from Clark Airport and then in parentheses put Manila. So if they wanted to say a city was a different city than it was that's their prerogative. (b) I was going to miss my connecting flight, and this is the same airline that once told me a flight I had booked a couple months ahead of time was canceled a couple weeks before it took off. They refunded the money, but I then had to pay more to find a different airline to fly at the same time on short notice. They made no effort to help me get a different flight, so I wasn't sure if they'd actually help with the connecting flight even though I booked it as one trip.

I called Air Asia and then they told me that the flight wasn't delayed it was still for the same time, and if there was an e-mail to ignore it, they didn't know that an e-mail had been sent. So I did as they said and showed up to the airport at 9 AM to check in.

After checking in and getting through security, paying the stupid terminal fees they slap on for nothing, and went through customs they then said the flight was delayed until 10pm. Luckily some really nice worker there made sure that I got put on an earlier flight to make my connection. The flight took off at 3:15PM. So I waited around and read until my flight. Finally oh finally I made it to Phuket, unfortunately I couldn't say the same for my bag. I made the connection, but my bag decided to stay in Kuala Lampur.

One thing with having had such a rough start to this trip is that nothing really phases me all that much at this point. I handled everything without getting angry and lashing out at anyone. I let things run their course.

When I got to Phuket I was very happy to have found an amazingly

cheap dorm room in Patong Beach, which is really touristy. The next day, after the airline delivered my bag, I ventured out and explored the beach. I also checked around with dive shops for prices on fun dives.

Something I've discovered on this trip is that I'm addicted to scuba diving. I can't get enough of it. I found one shop that had decent prices and went back to go book a trip of 3 dives with them, and when I went in the owner talked to me a little, and sold me on getting an advanced water certification, which is the next step up from the certification I have. It allows me to dive in deeper waters and do some different sort of dives I wouldn't be able to do otherwise. he gave me a discounted price and also through in an extra dive for me. You usually do five dives with this course so he gave me six. It was awesome

I woke up the first day and went diving. My first dive was a deep dive,

which really just means between 18 to 30 Meters. We dove down a reef wall on Koh Doc Mai, a small island off Phuket. It was amazing. We swam into this underwater cave on the ocean floor. That was a little scary being in the dark, but then when we turned around to go out you could see the illuminated blue entry hole swarming with fish.

The second dive we did was out at a wreck called King Cruiser's Wreck. It's a huge ferry boat that sank on the way to Koh Phi Phi and it had 350 people on it at the time, no one died or was injured. Actually people think the owner's sunk it on purpose to collect insurance money, because some people say that they were getting the life boats ready before the wreck and that a speed boat made out to where people were stranded with in 20 minutes, when it would take longer to get out there usually, and to get a speed boat in the first place in Phuket generally takes a couple hours. However the wreck got there thank you. It was amazing. Were swimming and all of a sudden the boat was covered in this school of fish that were long, thin and yellow greenish in color. There was so many that I couldn't even see the boat anymore at all it was like it was formed out of fish. Then as we swam up the hull if we stayed still they completely enveloped us and it looked as if I was standing in a prairie with long grass blades blowing all around me. After we swam a little I saw a pack of barracuda swimming through the school. It was such and incredible dive.

If that wasn't enough we went and did a third dive off what's called

shark point. It's called this because you generally see leopard shark here. Sometimes black tipped reef shark. Neither of these attack humans. While I didn't see any sharks that dive; but the coral and visibility was amazing. The only thing I could think of was that the scene looked like what the underwater world was displayed like in The Little Mermaid when they were singing the song 'Under The Sea.' there was so many bright colors and varied fish.

Three unbelievable dives. The last three I did today were okay, but didn't compare to the ones yesterday. I still enjoyed them but I still

have a pleasure buzz running from the first three.

I'm not sure where diving will take me but right now it feels like a drug. I can't seem to get enough of it.

permalink written by  Kirk on October 4, 2012 from Phuket, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Life of Luxury

Manila, Philippines

So this next leg of my trip has been pretty amazing. I was in Dumaguete really hoping the weather would permit and I could go diving off Apo Island. Luck swung my way and we received sun, and were able to dive. Unfortunately the side of Apo that is a marine sanctuary was struck by a typhoon last year so people aren't allowed to dive there for a while to allow the coral to rebuild itself.

The dives were still amazing. We swam out from the reef a little for one and were along side a school of jack fish. It was very serene, and then the last dive we did was a wall dive, which are amazing, because you can't see the ocean floor really below, and you get this amazing profile view of the reef and everything living there. It was beautiful.

After Dumaguete I went up to Cebu for one night and I met up for dinner with my friend James, who I met there, and then with another two friends, Shuto and Francis, who I met while in Dumaguete. Well I met Shuto in Dumaguete, and then I met Francis that night in Cebu. Shuto I met through a friend I made in Dumaguete, Circee, from the site CouchSurfers.org. Shuto was traveling around too, and Francis was a friend who Shuto had made through the same site. Francis had hosted Shuto for a little in Cebu. I made a lot of friends as a direct result of that website so I'd definitely recommend it to people traveling alone.

After dinner Francis, Shuto, and I went and did karaoke. It was a blast and a great way to end my Cebu trip. The next day I flew up to Clark, and here's the part of my trip where I had a taste of luxury.

One of my friends in San Diego, Carlos's, dad is mayor of Rizal, which is

in the greater metro area of manila. Carlos told his family I was coming for a couple days, and they really rolled out the red carpet. It was unbelievable. When I landed in Clark airport, about 3 hours from Manila, they had a personal driver pick me up and take me to a resort,
they may own I'm not positive, and gave me such an amazing room.

Then as if that wasn't enough they had the same driver drive me around while I was in Manila and take me back to Clark so I could catch my flight tomorrow for Phuket. The driver was a really nice guy named, Aries, who really loved working for Mayor Boyet, Carlos's dad.

While in Manila I went to an aquarium they had on the ocean. It was a lot of fun. I was able to see a some shows. They had a sea lion show
which was really cute. One of the sea lions kept tapping her trainer to get food and when she didn't get some she would applaud and then tap her again like 'See look what I did give me food.' It was really adorable. Then the aquarium was really neat
too. They had a big jellyfish area full of tanks of various forms of jellyfish in LED lit aquariums. Then they had a large aquarium full fish which
I had seen while diving and some I hadn't.
There was multiple kinds of sharks. The whole thing was really facinating, and then to be able to go back to the resort and really relax was such a treat.

I was invited to lunch with my friends family today, before I left to go to Clark. I am so grateful to have so much generosity extended to me, and what a luxury after backpacking and living on such a budget for a month. I don't know if Carlos is reading this, but if he is thank you so much to you and your family, you were all so welcoming and kind.

My trip has been so crazy, with all it's highs and lows. I'm sometimes amazed at my life, and all I'm lucky enough to get to experience. I'm looking forward to this next months adventure in Thailand.

permalink written by  Kirk on September 30, 2012 from Manila, Philippines
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Dichotmoy Speaking

Dumaguete, Philippines

When I last left you I was in Cebu. I stayed in Cebu until yesterday, monday, where I traveled down to Dumaguete, which is on the next island over from Cebu called Negros.

While in Cebu I traveled one day with, James, my friend from South Korea to Lapu Lapu City to see the shrine of Lapu Lapu.

Lapu Lapu was the person who lead the Filipino's in a rebellion against Magellan, which Magellan was killed in. The
Shrine itself is nice, but the grounds it was on was very small for traveling about an hour to get there, but it was still really nice to hang out with James.

Dumaguete is called the 'Town of Gentle People.' So far it's lived up to it's name.

I belong to this online group called CouchSurfers.org. It's an online community where people let people traveling come stay with them at there houses all to be be able to form friendships with kindred spirits. When you log on you can send requests to stay with people, and are allowed to see their profiles and read what others who have stayed with them have said. I haven't actually stayed at anyone's place yet from there, but decided to get over my fears and reach out and try to meet people.

I made contact with a girl, and met up with her when I got to Dumaguete. Her name is Circee and she is so sweet. Unfortunately she lives a little far out, and with the weather being rainy right now it's

not the easiest to get to and from her place, so I got a room at this awesome hostel called Harold's mansion, and her and I hung out all night with another guy from Japan, named Shuto that she had met from CouchSurfers as well. It was so nice to arrive somewhere and immediately meet and become friends with people. Hopefully I'll be able to replicate such experiences as my trip goes on.

The hostel I'm staying at Harold's is so amazing, because of you get for the price. The hostel is 250 pesos a night, which is about $6.50, and you get a bed, sheets, towel, air conditioning, hot water, and breakfast, and locker storage. At the hostel I was at in Cebu for the same price I got a bed. That's it. So it's really nice to have all the amenities here, and they have bicycles they'll let you take out and ride around town.

I'm really hoping to go diving tomorrow morning in Apos island which is right off the coast. It's supposed to be some of the most beautiful waters to dive in in the world. So hopefully weather will be permitting.

Now I titled this blog Dichotomy Speaking, because while I'm having an amazing time in the Philippines, and seeing some beautiful things there has also been some things I've seen that have made me so sad to the bottom of my heart.

While I was in Cebu riding the public transportation there was this little boy I saw riding in the drivers seat who couldn't have been more than 4 years old. I thought that his grandpa was the driver and that he was just riding along. He was an adorable little kid, and I thought it was cute that he was riding along with his grandpa, until the bus stopped and he got off, and I realized he was just riding alone, by himself. He was 4 and just another passenger like me. I then started noticing how many children there are that are just on their own. It made me so sad.

I was talking talking later with people that live here in the Philippines I found out really how much prostitution there is here. With the dichotomy of rich and poor so great here you can almost understand the prostitution. When people work at a store all day long to make about 300 pesos for the day, about $5, not even enough to buy 2 Starbuck's frappacino's even here, and then they have an opportunity to make 3,000-4,0000 pesos in much less time I can understand the drive of why they would think that selling themselves. Then though there is the prostitution in areas of these open field in Cebu, where the girls are called 'The Cardboard Girls' where you pay 30 pesos to have sex with them, not even a dollar, and if you pay an extra 20 pesos they'll throw a piece of cardboard on the ground so you won't get dirty. Then even still there's an area of town where there is this whore house called the Casa, which has lots of girls 18 and up, but apparently as you drive up to it you have to keep your doors locked, because there's tons of girls under 14 trying to get in your car and get you to pay them to have sex with them.

It breaks my heart to see the amount of poverty, and hardships the people here have to endure. There is so many beautiful and amazing parts of the Philippines, and there is some unbelievable lows, ghettos, and poverty. I suppose it's all shocking because it's not really things that are ever a part of my world, and it makes me so sad to see people in pain. I wish there was something I could do, and maybe hopefully someday I'll find a way to be a part of change. I'm not really sure how, but I'm sure that I'm shown things in my life for a reason. So I'll wait and keep looking for opportunities to arrive where I can contribute to being a force of positive change to areas like this.

It's just a lot to take in. This trip has definitely changed me.

permalink written by  Kirk on September 24, 2012 from Dumaguete, Philippines
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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