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Kirk's South East Asia Adventure

a travel blog by Kirk


So my intro to myself gave you an idea of why I started this journal. This is a big trip I'm doing to Southeast Asia for about 3 1/2 - 4 months. This will serve as a living journal to document and let you know about my experiences. This trip will definitely be a life changing experience. While reading this hopefully you'll be able to share my joys and changes with me. Thank you for reading.

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Pre-Trip nerves

San Diego, United States


I have 6 days until I leave San Diego and take off to Asia for four months of backpacking. I'm not sure if it is because today is my last day of work or because we just had my going away party the other night, but the reality of my trip then move to Hawaii is starting to sink in finally.
Up until this point I've been making the moves I needed to make to get ready for this, but the actual finality of it didn't seem real. Now I'm started to realize how much I'm going to miss the wonderful friends I have here, get exited to travel and move closer to my sister, and get a little scared of the unknown, and am really having to quiet my fears with faith that I will end up where I should.
I know that this for month backpacking experience will be life changing, and I'm ready for that. Just definitely feeling the anxiety of it finally. Which is probably good. For a while I thought it wouldn't feel real until I got off the plane.
The reality of it is that I've worked extremely hard to get to this point to do this and there is a little of amazement in achieving such a big goal.
So 6 more days of seeing my wonderful friends and then Asia here I come!!



permalink written by  Kirk on August 15, 2012 from San Diego, United States
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
tagged Friends and SanDiego

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Leaving On a Jet Plane

Los Angeles, United States



Ok so today is the big travel day. I flew up to Los Angeles previously and had a layover for a night. My wonderful friend Chelsea picked me up and I was able to have a night in LA with her. So today is the big day where I head to Asia for almost four months.
Some of the reality of this trip still seems to take time to slowly sink in. It's been something I've been working on doing for almost two years, and now it's finally here.
When I flew out of San Diego yesterday, as the plane took off, it hit like a ton of bricks that I'm really gone. I no longer belong to San Diego. I no longer belong to anywhere. It's a strange and exciting, liberating place to be.
While sitting here in LAX it's all of a sudden vividly real that I'm leaving for an extended period of time. It's exciting and scary all at once. I'm so grateful that I've developed the gift of really liking myself finally and and enjoying my own company. The last couple years were life changing and I did a lot of work to really get to know who I am and become someone I love, and am so happy for that. I know that this trip will hold amazing adventures, and having the ability to like being on my own will make it not scary as it otherwise would be.
I'm filled with gratitude for everything in my life and all the people I've encountered so far. So, so long California. You've been great. I'll be writing and letting you all know what's happening once I land.


permalink written by  Kirk on August 23, 2012 from Los Angeles, United States
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Learning Curve

Bangkok, Thailand


Ok so the first day was interesting. There have been a lot of moments so far that if I focused on what could seem negative, and there have been a lot of good ones too, I would feel miserable, but I'm choosing to have a different view point. So here it goes.
When I flew in last night after 20 hours of traveling I got to the hostel, and realized that I had somehow lost my bank card on during travel. I honestly have no idea how it happened. It was one of the biggest things I was afraid of happening on this trip and so I was trying to constantly safe guard it, but it still happened.
So being tired I freaked out and wanted cry. I figured out how to call US Bank from Thailand, that was a challenge too. You can't call the normal 800 number you have to find the international number, and then figuring out the pay phone whose instructions were completely in Thai was interesting, but I did it. So yay success!
Unfortunately the bank won't send me a new card while I'm here so I was freaking out on how I would get my money, but they said I can Western Union it to myself, and there is one near my hostel. So just takes a little more planning. Although I was upset and did not have a nice attitude on the phone with the bank teller I spoke to, something I'm still feeling bad about today. I'm having them mail a new card to my sister so she can mail it to me and then I have a credit card and some cash, and I also found out that I got paid close to $700 from some freelancing work I had done a month ago, which got deposited in my bank account.
So after taking a shower and mentally beating myself up all night I got a little sleep and woke up early. I showered and walked down to Lumphini Park in the Silom district of Thailand.
It was very pretty and relaxing. I then came back and had breakfast at the restaurant in my hostel which costed with tip about $5. Which is actually a little more then some of the cheaper places you can find here. After breakfast I decided I was going to try to go see Wat Pho, which is a buddhist temple. This was not as easy as I thought it would be. I tried taking the public buses which was a scary experience. They jerk all over, and I can't really read the signs so I was just hoping to see where I needed to get off.
I got off where I thought was right,but it wasn't, and then there was a guy on a moped who was trying to get me to hire him to drive me. He didn't speak English and I don't speak Thai, but we negotiated to do it for 50
baht, almost $2. This ride put the fear of god in me. He raced in-between cars where I thought my knees were going to be knocked off, ran up on sidewalks through crowds, and then dropped me off and told me that where I wanted to go was up around the corner, then he tried to get me to pay him more than we settle on so we had to bargain again.
When I went up around the corner I wasn't in the right place at all. He had taken me to china town, which is great for shopping, but also extremely claustrophobic. So I walked around for a while, and then hired a tuk tuk to take me home.
The tuk tuk driver convinced me to go to the temple so we agreed on a price he'd take me for, but then part way through said there was too much traffic and gave me a map and took me to a water taxi area. He told me there were two types of water taxis. One was a private charter that is 1200 baht, about about $40 or there's a public one that ranges between 20-40 baht, $1-$1.40. I obviously wanted the cheaper one, but he dropped me off at a pier that had the more expensive one, and the lady selling tickets wouldn't tell me where the pier was that had the cheaper taxi. I almost had a Mob Wives moment on her. At that point both taxi's I had taken hadn't taken me where I wanted to go, and I was pretty thoroughly lost.
Finally someone else told me how to get to the other taxi pier. When
I finally got to Wat Pho it was like the sun opening up and God smiling on me. The temple was beautiful, and they have an amazing reclining buddha.
I'm going to post all the pictures from today eventually on facebook and make it a public photo album so you all can see how cool it was, and totally worth the struggle.
After getting back to the area of my hotel I decided to get a thai massage, which was about 360 baht including tip, about $12 dollars. It's a little more in my area then in some places, but I didn't feel like exploring to find cheaper.
So what I learned is this:
If I look at all the things that didn't go according to plan I could be taken up with all the negatives and life would be miserable, but I can also look at it this way. I learned to use water taxis and walk to get around the city, take things as they come, and live in acceptance, and I also realized to value the friendships I have at home. Going through some struggles when you're traveling alone makes you really wish you had a friend to talk to about it, so these experiences make me remember the love I have for my friends and family. I can either wallow in the negative, or thrive and adapt in what life throws at me. I choose the latter.


permalink written by  Kirk on August 25, 2012 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
tagged Bangkok and FirstDay

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Easing in

Bangkok, Thailand


So yesterday I meant to just take a nap and then go out to experience the nightlife around midnight, but I ended up falling asleep from 7pm to 3am. I checked e-mail when I woke up and then forced myself to sleep more so I could try to get on the right timetable. I woke up again at 7:30. Good enough. I got up and ready for the day
For breakfast I had a brownie and a thai tea which cost 50 baht, about $1.80.

For those of you that know me you know I'm involved in a 12 step program which has kept me sober for almost 2 years now. I decided to try to get to a meeting today, even though I was scared of getting lost.
The meeting was supposed to be in the this hotel, that was an 8 minute walk from the Asok / Sukumvit station. I left with plenty of time, because I was sure that it would take me longer than 8 minutes, and I was right. I went the wrong way after exiting the station and probably walked around for about an hour before finding the location, and went to the 8th floor of the hotel it was supposed to be on, but that floor was all under construction, and I couldn't get information where it was located. Oh well. I felt good about finding the place, and also found a place that had thai massages for 200 baht, about $7 bucks right near by. How could I resist. I went in and got one. It was good massage, but a little awkward at points. The lady doing the massage told me how attractive I was and offered a happy ending, completely barking up the wrong tree, but I took the compliment not the happy ending lol.

After the massage I took the subway to Chatuchak Park, where a tuk tuk driver told me that there was a weekend market that was more for locals and I could find better deals for shopping than I would in Chinatown.

The market was cool, but I wasn't really looking to buy a lot, but did get a tank top for 150 baht, about $5, because it was so hot that I had sweat all over my t-shirt.

it was a cool experience, and even more exciting to have found my way around, only getting lost for a little. After taking the subway back to the Silom district where I'm staying I found a coffee shop with internet and uploaded the photos I had and wrote this blog.

All the subways and sky train payments totaled to about 108 baht, about 3 dollars and some change. You'll notice I keep putting what I spent on here. I just want to give anyone reading an idea of how much everything cost, and if I find cost effective tips for people to be able to have a fun trip I want to give them that. So so far today I've spent 653 baht, about $21 (I bought a coffee for 100 baht and lunch for 95 baht I didn't mention before). So I'm still living pretty cheaply.

It's not too difficult to live modestly since everything is so cheap. I've found food and everything is cheaper when you get away from the tourist areas, and much nicer and not as claustrophobic. I feel the stresses from the first day are not as dramatic, and I'm getting a little bit of a better feel for getting around. I'm very grateful to be able to be here and experience all that I'm experiencing.

Tonight I plan to actually make it to the night life so stay tuned for pictures and a blog post. Also as promised here is the link to my photo album of the photos of Bangkok so far: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4179219235409.173854.1132242665&type=1&l=bd7fdd1f47

Thanks for following me. I love you all.



permalink written by  Kirk on August 26, 2012 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Adventures in Motion

Ko Samui, Thailand


Ok so I have a lot to talk about since my last post so prepare yourself. As promised I drank a Redbull and stayed up late to go out to a club.
The gay club I was looking for was around others located near the Patpong Night Market, which is also incidentally a big sex district. It was interesting to see vendor's selling clothes and DVD's right next dildos.

I also cannot tell you how many times I had to tell people I didn't want to see a 'ping pong' show, even if it was only 100 baht. I had to keep telling the same people this too, because I couldn't for the life of me find this club or any of the other ones that were supposed to be around it. I must have walked up and down the street 5 times tell finally I gave up. As I was

in the sky train terminal above the street walking back to get on the sky train I finally saw the club. If you look at the picture on the left, that is the alley it was in, and then then the non lit up sign which I'm sure you can't see that's posted above the lighted ceiling, completely invisible from the ground is the sign that says 'DJ Station'. That was the club. So I went back down to the street and went down the alley and low and behold there were all the clubs and bars I had been looking for, unfortunately midnight wasn't late enough, because they were all empty, and I was drained, but I'm still happy I found it.

The next day I woke up and went to the Jim Thompson Museum. Jim Thompson was the American who moved to Thailand and made Thai silk famous. His silk's were used in the movie The King and I and he got designers associated with Vogue magazine interested in the fabric.
Jim Thompson became rich and famous and then at the age of 61 disappeared while visiting the Malaysian jungle. According to our tour guide there were many reasons this possibly happened. One he had no kids. Two he wasn't married. Three he collected artifacts and ancient Buddha statues that were broken, this meant your home would be broken. Four he was a horse sign, and the age 61 is the age horse's need to be careful. Aw superstition.

One thing that was cool at the house was the spirit house, which as you can see I'm scared of. The spirit house is built before you build your house, and then when you build your house you must build it so that the shadow of your main house doesn't touch the spirit house otherwise it brings you bad luck.

I ended up meeting some people who were from other countries, but now lived in Bangkok. I ended up going to lunch with them that day. It was nice to talk and socialize with others. We ended up eating at the hospital cafeteria near where I was staying, but unlike our hospitals there food was amazing. I got a Thai meal with two different entree items and a bottled water for 45 baht, about $1.60. Amazing!!

It was interesting at lunch they talked about many things. About how there was a noodle soup census done and the price of noodle soup in the last 7 years has gone from 20 baht to 35 baht. Now for Americans this isn't really a big deal, because that's still about $1, but if you live here that can be a very big deal if it's reflective of the inflation in the entire economy. That's a 75% increase, and when you only live on 10,000 baht a month, roughly $200, you are probably accounting for each baht you have. It made me appreciate what I have more.

From lunch my new friends suggested I should go to the Wat Arun

Temple, also called The Temple of The Dawn. It was really cool. I took a water taxi, and ferry over there and back. The total trip with admission was about 130 baht, about $4.

The temple is very old and beautiful. You can climb up it to get a look of the whole city, and of course in the prayer building next
to it are rooms lined with Buddha's.

After a long day I went back to the hostil, and got some dinner on the way at a hole in the wall Thai restaurant.

I got gaeng gai, read curry. Probably some of the best I've ever had. One of the guys I had had lunch with said that the Thai food in America can't touch the flavor of the food out here, and I'm inclined to agree. Maybe it's that I'm here that it makes it tastes better, but I think the spice and taste was just great.

I went to bed early, because i had to get up and travel to the Don Muaeng Airport to go to Surat Thani.

So when I woke up today to travel to the airport I had to take the sky train, subway and regular train, about 45 baht, less than $2.

After many transfers I made it to my plane :D

Once getting to Surat Thani I needed to get to Ko Samui tonight. To do this I took a bus and ferry to the island.
This cost about 721 baht, about $21. Arriving in Ko Samui was a little scary, because I didn't know where I was staying at yet, but that problem got quickly solved. There was a ticket stand at the ferry station where some ladies where selling tickets to the other islands. I have to get to Ko Tao tomorrow because I'm starting my scuba diving course in the afternoon. I booked a ticket with them and they told me right across the street was a cheap place to stay, and they were right. Only 300 baht for my own room, about $10, which also had
a great street food area across the street where I had dinner, some pad thai and a mango shake. Which cost about 70 baht, $2.

So it's definitely been a full couple days. I feel much more at ease with my traveling than I did at first. I realize that Bangkok is not Thailand. Just as New York City is not America. They are their own entities which you can't compare the rest of the country to. While initially in Bangkok I felt overwhelmed and a little scared at times I left feeling at ease and really finding a love for the city I didn't know I would have, but now being in the gulf and on the islands I feel I'm stepping into more of what I was looking for on this trip. While I love the temples, and movement of Bangkok I think I will enjoy the slowness and warmth of the islands. More to come stay tuned!!

permalink written by  Kirk on August 28, 2012 from Ko Samui, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Travel Day

Ko Tao, Thailand


So today I woke up around 7 am and showered and got ready for the day. I was in Ko Samui where I arrived last night. I had to take a ferry this morning from there to Ko Tao an island just north.

The hotel I was staying at had shared showers and bathrooms for each floor which is fine because I'm already used to staying in a hostel, but this was my first cold shower. I know that this will be pretty common in Thailand, because I've heard from people most of the cheap places don't provide hot showers. It wasn't horrible though. The water isn't freezing and even early in the morning it starts to get hot outside so the cold shower is invigorating.

After my 'refreshing' shower, have to stay optimistic right lol, I went and had breakfast and talked on Skype with my dad. I've talked with my Dad twice since being here and my sister once. It is great when I get to talk to people because I don't feel so disconnected from my old life, and Skype is great in letting you feel like you're in the same room with the person you're talking to.

After Skype I walked around the town a little before i had to go meet my ferry. At the hotel there was a really cute pug lounging on the counter. Apparently she is well adjusted to the island life.

Since this is island time the ferry of course wasn't on time, but it didn't bother me. I met some Australians and ended up talking to them before and for the entire ferry ride. It's crazy they're on the end of a long trip where they've just spent about 6 months in South America, and our now finishing their 6 week trip in Southeast Asia.

It's amazing. Every time I'm backpacking I always meet Aussies that are traveling for really long periods of time. I have no chance at ever beating them. It's like talking to the one up guy.
me: "I'm backpacking for four months."
Aussie: "Oh that's great. We just finished 6 months in South America and now are doing 6 weeks in Southeast Asia."
me: *smile with hidden jealousy*

Just kidding. It's great to meet other people who are out and about exploring the world as well. They were super friendly and made the ride more fun. Especially since the first ferry was so packed. I wish I had taken a picture of it, but I was trying to get on board and didn't think about it. There were literally people hanging and lying on every inch of the boat. The seats floors deck were full. I didn't realize that the full moon part was going on right now.

The full moon party happens every month on the island Ko Pha-ngan. Which is the island right before Ko tao. From what I gather it's a big party stretching all over the beaches of the islands where everyone is smashed and getting more smashed all night. So the first half of the boat ride was cramped, but the second half from Ko Pha-ngan was really comfortable.

When arriving in Ko tao I new that this was what I've been looking for in my tirp.

There's something nice about being on islands. I always feel comfortable and relaxed, and the island is beautiful.

I took a taxi from the ferry and checked into the dive resort I'm staying at to get my PADI certification. I had to do about 2 hours of class room

work today and then I came to the reception to do a little freelancing work which has an amazing view of the ocean. I loved my experience in Bangkok, but I'm so happy to feel less of the hustle and bustle and more of island breezes. Tomorrow I'll be doing more of the dive class. I've posted a little of the pictures I've taken from Ko Samui and Ko Tao so far, but nothing amazing. I'll be adding to them though so keep looking. You can see that album at :
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4193395109797.174274.1132242665&type=1&l=cfc3615967

Talk to you soon.

permalink written by  Kirk on August 29, 2012 from Ko Tao, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
tagged KohTao and KohSamui

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Oh Happy Days

Ko Tao, Thailand


As you all know I'm still on Ko Tao getting certified scuba diving. The dive course is going good so far. I finished all my academic work yesterday
including the final written test and passed, and I did all the confined dives demonstrating skills in the pool. Today I'll be going out in the boat for my first Ocean dive. I'm really excited since the scuba here is supposed to be some of the best in the world, of course any tropical location you look online tends to say that.

Stacy, one of the Australians I met on the way here, told me when she was scuba diving here last once and that she saw a whale shark. I know they have been seen here a lot, but I'm not sure if right now is the season for them to be here, fingers crossed though.

It was really nice after the class work I had today that I ran in to the Australians again. I had forgot to get there facebook information when we talked on the ferry so I wasn't sure I was going to see them again, but low and behold I did. Of course the populated areas of Ko Tao is small so I guess I was probably bound to run into them.

We all went to dinner and then just watched the sunset at various

bars and restaurants on the beach. I was happy to see that I can still make friends pretty easily out of my comfort zone.

Most of the time when I make friends it's because we work together or are in some situation where we'd have to talk to each other at some point. In Bangkok I didn't meet too many people, and I think was a little nervous because I was out of my element and wasn't sure how to start conversation, but it's nice to see that as I get more comfortable with traveling that the good social skills I thought I had are still present.

After my dive today I'm supposed to meet up with my new friends for

dinner. It's Stefan's birthday so we'll see how crazy that gets, but so far I've loved every minute of my stay on Ko Tao. I'm pretty sure the majority of my trip will be beach stays. At least that's how I see it right now. I'll let you all know how everything goes today. I have to dive today and tomorrow and then I'll have my certification. After that I'll spend a couple days on Ko Samui and then fly back to Bangkok for a night and then head to the Philippines to meet friends and do more diving. I hope all is well with everyone reading, and I'll talk to you all soon.


permalink written by  Kirk on August 30, 2012 from Ko Tao, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Heating Up and Winding Down

Ko Tao, Thailand



Hi everyone. Hope every one reading is doing good. I finished my scuba diving certification this morning. Yesterday I went out on two dives around an area called Twins.
There is two twin peaks under the water here we swam around, and then we went to another area called White Rock, which a big white rock that peaks a couple meters from the surface. Both dives were amazing, but I got chased for a little by a trigger fish at one.

Trigger fish are these fish that eat coral so they have sharp teeth. They're called trigger fish, because when they are going to attack they have a small fin on the top of them that sticks up like a trigger. They are also an aggressive, territorial fish. They have a territory that is a cone shape of where ever they are to the surface so if you ever run into one you should swim on your back straight out of their territory, and defend yourself with your fins if need be. Don't go up because then you're still in their area since it gets larger as you get closer to the surface.

It wasn't too scary since I knew what I was supposed to do. I'm glad that my reaction was to not freak out and instead to think about what I was told to do. The final dives this morning were back at Twins, and an area called Buoyancy world, where they've set up multiple metal shapes and swim throughs on the bottom of the ocean you can play in. After that we went to an area called Pei Wei. It was amazing, because it was much deeper, there is also a shipwreck right near there that we swam over to.

Doing these dives got me so excited to do more with scuba diving. It is such a beautiful experience to be able to be a part of an underwater environment and see all the amazing creatures and formations of the ocean.

After the dives last night I met up with Stacy, Carl, and Stefan, the Aussies, for Stefan's birthday.

We went to a bar restaurant initially to watch the sunset, followed, by another beach bar, and then another beach bar. At night time there was lots
of fire dancers on the beach, which were mesmerizing to watch. At one point Carl even got into the action and one of the fire dancers taught him to do a fire dance with these two chains with balls of fire on the end. As he got comfortable with it he entertained us by dancing around as
he twirled the balls of fire. It was so much fun. I had wished that I didn't have to leave early, but my dives this morning were at 7 am. I'm still a pretty early riser here so it wasn't too hard to get up that early.

Now that I have my certification I'm ready to meet my friends and do some diving in the Philippines in a couple days. For now I will spend one more night here in Ko Tao and then I will head to Ko Samui for 2 nights, fly back to Bangkok, and then on to the Philippines where I will be for the rest of September. This trip has been amazing so far and I feel blessed and lucky to still be at the beginning of it. It's had challenges, but I've felt grateful to be in a position to take on those challenges. I continue to grow and change, as we all do, and strive more and more to live and love. I hope all is well with everyone reading. I'll keep you updated as usual as things go along.

permalink written by  Kirk on August 31, 2012 from Ko Tao, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Beginning Transitions

Ko Samui, Thailand



Hi everyone. I hope all is well. Currently I'm sitting at a coffee shop in Ko Samui writing this blog post. Yesterday I took a ferry here from Ko Tao, because I have to take a ferry from here tomorrow to Surat Thani and then the airport there where I will fly to Bangkok. After staying in Bangkok for a night I will travel to Angeles City in the Philippines for a night and then on to Puerta Princesa where I will be for about a week and a half.

In Ko Tao I got certified scuba diving, and made some friends from Australia that I hung out with the whole time. I couldn't have asked for a better time in Ko Tao. The new friends and amazing dives well forever be vivid in my memories. After completing the scuba course I decided to come to Ko Samui to spend 2 days here, because initially I wanted to go out. Ko Tao is fun, but Ko Samui is the island that has a little bit more as far as night clubs.

I spent the day with day with the Aussies hiking to a cool rock out crop on the ocean

and then
we went out for our last night together and I had a chicken bbq skewer, which did taste amazing. Unfortunately for me I woke up that night really sick. It figures I eat tons of street food, and don't have a problem with sickness, but the one time I spend a little more for a nice dinner and I get sick. I had already bought my ferry ticket so I had to go to Ko Samui. The trip over was a little miserable because I still felt weak, and couldn't really hold down anything.

Being sick from the food poisoning made me homesick as well. All I wanted was to be in bed and near family. When I got to Ko Samui I took a songthew, which is just a pickup truck that has benches in the bed to Chaweng Beach. Chaweng Beach is the beach with all the night life. I figured if I felt better I could still try to go out. That didn't happen though, I just felt like babying myself so I got a room with air conditioning, and hot water, took a long shower and watched movies in the cold. It was great. I felt silly for even going all the way to Chaweng Beach with not going out, because this morning I had to take a songthew back to Nathon Pier, where I originally was at, and get a room here. My ferry tomorrow takes off at 8 am so being on the other side of the island wasn't acceptable.

Oh well I still enjoyed my hot shower and air conditioning. I'm spending the day mainly relaxing. I got my room here and have been using the internet to figure out how to send myself money via Western Union because I lost my ATM card in the beginning of my travels and then I booked my hostel for tomorrow night in Bangkok. I have a couple days ahead of me of traveling so I'm going to spend some time reading and walking around in whatever city I'm in.

One thought that I thought was interesting was that I was thinking about how I'm beginning to feel more comfortable with nomad status right now. I thought about home sickness and then thought about what home was defined for me. Is a space that holds all your possessions? Is it because you bought a couch, or a car, or a house, that it becomes a home? I don't believe the material defines home for you. If you can feel at home in yourself and in your heart then you can be at peace where ever you are.

I don't have much more to report but keep reading and I'll keep updating.

permalink written by  Kirk on September 3, 2012 from Ko Samui, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Bi-Polar

Puerto Princesa, Philippines


Ok I titled my blog bi-polar, because that's how I've been feeling lately. This trip has been amazing and difficult.

So if you've been following you know that I lost my ATM card while traveling here. So the only funds I've had have been my credit card and the cash I had on me. I'm currently waiting for my new card to arrive at my sisters so she can forward it to me, and I was told by my bank that I could try using Western Union to get myself money.

So while I tried starting a Western Union transfer from my bank account. It asks you to verify your bank account either by doing it as a bill pay, where you set up a bill to be paid as Western Union and pay that amount, or it will charge my account and once the charge has been processed then I can see a number from the charge on my account online and then go back to Western Union put that in and my account would be verified.

Well first I tried the billy pay way and their system would cancel the transaction every time, not allowing me to set up the bill pay. Then I tried doing the account charge method, well it cancelled this charge too before I was able to verify it. I called Western Union and found out that since I'm doing the transaction from a computer in Asia that the system automatically denies the transaction, and they don't have an override option to allow me to verify my account. The only option they have they said is that I can take cash to one of their vendors and pay to transfer the money, completely useless, because if I had cash their wouldn't be a problem.

I was finding all this out as I had about 800 baht to my name, about $26; and I was about to fly to the Philippines. Very stressful. Luckily my mother sent me some money Western Union, and my sister logged onto the Western Union site as me and sent a transaction so hopefully I'll be able to verify my account now. For me this lesson was that I can't do it alone. I still had to wait though for my mothers money until I got to the Philippines, and I had to travel from Bangkok to Clark airport, stay the night there and then travel to Puerto Princesa the next day.

It's difficult down here to use a credit card. Many places are strictly cash. So I didn't really eat anything to start the day of traveling, because I didn't know how much a cab from the airport would be to my hotel in Clark. The hotel I had already paid for. When I got to BKK airport and tried to check in for my flight I found out I had to show a return trip ticket which I didn't have printed out, and they said I had to go to the internet cafe and pay to print one out.

I went up to the internet cafe and their credit card machine wasn't working. They told me I had to find an internet phone machine downstairs and e-mail them the file to be printed and then come up and get the paper printed. Oh and finding the internet cafe from where I was in the airport was a struggle all by itself. I found the internet phone sent the e-mail to find I had written the e-mail down wrong. I went back down to the internet phone and sent it again. Printed it out, and then went and checked in and went through customs.

When I got to Clark, initially the first cab driver told me it would be 500 pesos to go to the hotel. When I converted all the cash I had then I had only 1000 pesos. I told him no and found another guy to do it for 300. This is actually expensive for how far he took me.

The hotel I was staying is was not very nice. I feel bad saying that, because I met the owner the next day and she is very sweet, and from what I gather she bought the hotel and is trying to slowly make it better. Angeles City, where Clark airport is located, is also kind of a hole with a lot of prostitution places, and no cheap rooms anywhere. It was just depressing, and the wifi was out so I couldn't get the information I would need to take to Western Union to get my money from the e-mail my mom was sending, so I still had that stress going on in my mind.

I should say I did eat in the airport because I found a place that took a credit card.

The next morning, today, I woke up and didn't eat again, because I still wasn't positive when I would have cash next and didn't know how much it would cost to get to my hostel from the airport in Puerto Princesa. The owner of the hotel, Jocelyn, drove me to the airport for 240 pesos. She was very nice, and told me if I came back she would give me a special price on the room. I would almost want to just because she's so sweet, but I definitely didn't feel comfortable sleeping there.

Now when I got to the airport this morning, my bag was 5 kg over the free weight limit. I thought I had bought extra weight when I purchased the ticket, but I guess not, and again having to use the credit card was a huge ordeal. I had to follow this girl to the other side of the airport where another girl tried to run the card and was having problems with their machine, had to call multiple people, and finally got it to work, again I should mention both the girls were very nice. So then having that paid I found out the airport itself then makes you pay 150 pesos has to be in cash. I thought this was BS, because my ticket already had airport fees charged on it, but they said I couldn't fly if I didn't pay it.

I would love to say I was handling all this stress well, but I wasn't. I wanted to cry.

While getting on the plane I ended up talking to a really nice Filipino couple who just so happened to be from San Diego, and where gong to Puerto Princesa for 3 days before they flew back home. Also when getting to Puerto Princesa I got a tricycle cab, actually it's a motorcycle with a riding cab attached for 50 pesos to my hostel. The cab drivers name was Laurence and he was very friendly, and then when I got to my hostel the people here were all very friendly as well.

One thing I can say is that the Philippines has some of the friendliest people I've met yet on my trip.

Once getting to my place I connected to the internet and was able to get the information I needed from my mom and go to Western Union. Hooray!! I celebrated by eating.

It's difficult because some moments of this trip have been so amazing, and some have been so stressful. In in some parts of this stress the last 2 days I've felt a little bit like that story where a man was praying to God and asked for sign God was listening and God made the wind blow, and he asked again and God sent a butterfly, and so on and so on; and at the end of his life he asks God why God wasn't listening and God said I was I sent you the wind and I sent you the butterfly (there's other similar tales). I felt a little like that man in some points because I was so stressed out about my situation, and then I would meet some really friendly, really kind people, and I would have to think OK someone does see me, but it was so easy to not notice that and be caught up in my own stresses. I also talked to my mom and she reminded me of a time I went through were just so many bad things were happening and while it was going on I told her "Well God must have something really great planned for me if all this bad is happening." I remember that time and a lot of amazing things did happen after that hard ordeal too.

I know that this to shall past. It's difficult to go through the hard times, but I guess I won't actually grow with an easy road. I have to have faith that I'll be alright and that the lessons I learn will prepare me for whatever else is needed for me in this life. Tonight I'm OK. I have a roof over my head, I have some cash in my pocket, and some food in my belly.

I appreciate all the prayers and good energy you all send me. Thank you again for reading. I promise I'll have more optimistic posts to come :D

permalink written by  Kirk on September 6, 2012 from Puerto Princesa, Philippines
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Kirk Kirk
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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...

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