October 2016
  • Day27

    Pai Vieng Fah resort in Pai

    October 30, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Yesterday we set afoot a 150km or so journey north to Pai. I felt confident enough to rent a bigger bike for the trip as I have been putting around on a 110 cc scooter all week. We got a Honda CB500X with a luggage option behind the rear seat for snack storage and some clothes. What an amazing road trip with over 700 turns twisting back and forth with tight hairpin turns that come out of no where and no posted speed limit. Lush jungle scenery filled our eyes as we left the city, then we were ensconced in pristine rainforest air. Such purity is was therapeutic for us as walking in the city you get snorted on with gross exhaust by taxis and tuk tuks as they pass. I quickly bonded with the machine adjusting all of the controls with a more refined fashion more and more as we travelled. Shifting up and down gears, using front and rear brake all change the centre of gravity of the machine and when you have a passenger onboard any small change gets exasperated because of the added weight. Luckily Beth's calm warm touch and willing trust allowed me to work through any mild turbulence to maximize rider comfort for the most part.....well nobody got sick I mean. Riding a motorcycle is very meditative for me: all senses are heightened with your wholebody moulding to the machine and becoming one with the fiery dragon of Rpms. There is no thinking of yesterday or tomorrow, no regrets, no "what ifs" and no doubts. When you approach an unknown corner with the love of your life strapped to your back you do everything to set your self up for maximum success. Choosing the right lane position to take and line to accelerate through, appropriate gear/rpms so the machine can respond quickly by speeding up or slowing down if needed, looking through the turn while being cognizant of the road directly in front of you, being aware of the situation and always having an emergency option if something was to jump out in front of you or having anything unsuspecting happen such as mechanical failure etc. This is why I love riding motorcycles so much. It is the best life metaphor one can experience. Let's face it, riding a motorcycle is dangerous, but so is life. We set ourselves up the best we can with our knowledge and information that we have and head into a blind turn of life. Life can end at any moment and I think it's important to acknowledge that every day in order to appreciate it more and more. We take all these steps to live the best life and be healthy and assess risk etc. But it could all be over In a blink of an eye so the message here is be grateful, live life full of love, be aware and equanimous, as this too shall pass. All of this passed through my mind as all of a sudden we rode into a cloud filled rainstorm with raindrops that felt like paint balls pelting me. It quickly passed though and luckily Beth didn't get so wet because the big pylon named Jarris took the brunt of it. Pai is a very small town with mostly foreigners shuffling about on scooters and flip flops but a really cool place. It sits nestled in a valley with rolling hills and mountains surrounding us on all sides. Weather is cooler here and we don't actually need the AC on at night.Read more

  • Day29

    Boomelicious Breakfast and Coffee House

    November 1, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    We had a nice relaxing day yesterday did some sight seeing around Pai. Found an amazing breakfast and coffee place to peruse our next chapter online and make some plans. The food here is amazing and suits our tummies well. We stopped by a bookstore and I purchased a neat little card/coin trick book to try and impress Beth with some sleight of hand action. Today we ride back to Chaing Mai to tackle some admin and prep for our flight to Kathmandu tomorrow morning.Read more

  • Day31

    Andes house in Kathmandu, Nepal

    November 3, 2016 in Nepal ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    Woke up quick this yesterday at 4:40am to rummage around and finalize packing and check out from Tarntong Boutique in Chiang Mai. We took a taxi to the airport departing through Bangkok to Kathmandu. Arrived after 1pm and were completely overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork we had to accomplish. Luckily we read ahead online to see what it would be like and it was a bit of a gong show. So we were given two immigration forms to fill out on the flight, then filled out another smaller yet identical form to fill out again once arrived. Then went to a passport scanning machine which basically formalized the exact information electronically, then we went and stood in a line like confused idiots just like the rest of the foreigners with no visa with all of the paperwork plus some passport photos (that were no use to anyone after all). The line was to only pay for the visa corresponding to the amount of time you wish to stay. 30 days cost 40$ usd. Little conversation was spoken as the guys working were all business ripping paper and frantically writing scribbles on allegedly important forms (really just writing a receipt). Then we went to another line with our portfolios and chuckled as we watched other foreigners who were more confused than us stumble through everything without directions or advice from anyone. Lastly the immigration officer just scanned my passport again and made sure I looked like my picture and waved me through. Also this was all in a terminal that looked like it was built in the 70s and had not been upgraded at all.
    Onward to the sea of taxi drivers all jousting for position and gesturing to come with them. We put up a fight negotiating before we found a really nice local who was very friendly and more laid back. I thought Thais were friendly, wow this gentleman was one of the kindest, most optimistic souls I have ever met. (Next to Bethany) After a nice lift to our hostel we checked in and went for a walk. I've been lugging around 12 pounds of laundry so we dropped that off at a small shop down the road from us and we met another amazing couple. They invited us in and fed us hot black tea with sugar and we had a wonderful time visiting with them. They run a school/home for orphaned kids and ended up showing us a lot as they pulled out a laptop from the 90s and clicked away on their facebook account sharing many stories.
    The streets here are soooo narrow and cars and scooters just honk politely as they whizz by less than 4 inches away. We are staying in backpacker central and it's the busy season here so all the shops are eagerly awaiting anyone half interested. The trick is to walk with a purpose and not make eye contact. A slow meanderer looking around will get heckled and approached more. I am overwhelmed but I love it.
    Today we visited the great Boudha Stupa which is a world heritage site and also the largest and most significant Buddhist monuments in the world. Wow!
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  • Day32

    Boudhanath Coffe Shop, KTM, Nepal

    November 4, 2016 in Nepal ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Kathmandu Nepal, wow what an explosion of intrusive gong shows. Even the simplest of tasks turn into hour long adventures from trying to find an actual bank not just a random crumby ATM on the side of the street to taking a taxi ride 2km across town. I would not survive here as a taxi driver. Take 1 lane in Vancouver then jam small compact cars, scooters and pedestrians heading in opposite directions all going straight at each other, then take the road make it a dust filled gulch made of loose gravel and chunks of cement haphazardly with holes everywhere. Multiply the horns of everyone honking simultaneously to politely inform everyone else to move out of the way and then take us. A couple of spoiled first worlders choking on the dust and sneezing like idiots with our sterilized water bottles in hand carrying our probiotics in one hand and clean toilet paper in the other. I may be embellishing. There is rubble everywhere surrounded by dirt and sand in every crevasse. Its either left over remnants of building post earthquake in 2015 or materials for new developments. Either way it's everywhere. The people here are amazingly kind yet walk around with a neutral face sometimes cold but without a trace of malice. We have gotten into some bad traffic situations in taxis that compared to back home would have erupted into fists being thrown around with the use of foul language. However, here everyone just honks, barely misses hitting(sometimes actually hits) each other and moves on. Both of us receive a lot of attention from the locals. Mostly staring at Beth for a long time, then me. Something that I've gotten used to over the past 4 years we have been together. Beth ignores it all the same, she's great like that, she's so wise with her selective naivety. She throttled me around this morning just after 5am to head up to the monkey temple to watch the sunrise. This privilege is taken very serious by the locals and they chant, pray, and sing daily as a ceremonious way of life. Other younger locals were stretching and doing push-ups amidst a massive tribe of monkeys screeching around looking for food climbing up and down the 300 something steps to the temple. The Buddha taught only to believe something to be true once you've experienced it yourself. Then and only then it is truth. But until then question everything. We all base our lives on our belief system and faith. Sometimes even blind faith because of something we have read, learned, or experienced. I believe life demands us to be constantly challenging our belief systems pragmatically in order to be a better person everyday. Why accept things as face value and wallow around in our safe bubbles of routine and comfort. That's not the life I want to live. If you're not challenging yourself in some way you become stagnant, and plateaus gradually turn into downward spirals eventually. Bethany has helped me realize this over the years as she inadvertently inspires me to constantly impress her.
    Temperature here is mid 20s sunny getting cold at night with about 40% humidity kind of like back home. Today is our last day in Kathmandu and tomorrow we are taking a bus to Pokhara for some epic adventures!
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  • Day33

    Hotel Tara in Pokhara

    November 5, 2016 in Nepal ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    A Bumpy, jostling, thrashing, 30km/hour crawl in a bus filled with locals was embarked on today from Kathmandu to Pokhara. On a map it's only 200kms however it took an Expedited time of 8 hours. The landscape changed dramatically to a lustrous 360 degree panorama of epic mountains, plants trees and fields from a giant dust filled bowl named Kathmandu. In the backdrop the Gigantic Himalayans sat calling us in an inspiring way. Wow I felt so small looking at them. Such an amazing country and the weather has been gorgeous out too! We found some good coffee and food and set out for a stroll. Very productive day ahahaRead more

  • Day34

    World Peace Pagoda, Pokhara, Nepal

    November 6, 2016 in Nepal ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    This morning after a nice coffee we hired a young man to whisk us across the lake in a canoe to hike up a small hill to a world peace pagoda that is world famously known. We were able to capture some amazing shots of Pokhara and the lakeside district is where all of the tourists from all over visit. This is also the most expensive city in Nepal where we have easily spent 15-20$ cad on dinner for both of us(which is a lot). We decided to hike down the other side and ended up meeting a really nice taxi driver who is going to take us up another mountain tomorrow morning for sunrise view over the himalayans. I made Beth proud today as she is always encouraging to be more of a hippy, so I bought a couple pairs of hippy pants to match the ones she loves wearing all of the time. I saw a funny sign in front of a washroom that read " men to the left because women are always right." But we all know that it's not about who's right, right?Read more

  • Day41

    Still in Pokhara.....

    November 13, 2016 in Nepal ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C

    We spent another early morning in a taxi up a small hill in Pokhara called Sarangkot. It is where all of the paragliders take off from every day with between 200-300 flights daily all around 30 min long for about 100$ cad. We really wanted to go and do it because it gives a great birds eye view and looks like a lot of fun but thanks to Bethany being very pragmatic and smart we chose not to go. After doing some research and reading some blogs we found out that it's actually very dangerous. Not because of the winds or elements of nature but because of other idiots. The problem is that trainees doing solo pilot train take off in the same small area as professional tandem pilots so it becomes a huge mishmash of skill levels in a relatively small space. It is very easy to get tangled and collide so write that adventure off. Over the years it has become more and more busy as the tourists line up to do it so the pressure to do more flights and worry about safety measures become skewed. So for now all you get is to enjoy some pictures of the sun......and Beth Photosynthesizing :)Read more

  • Day44

    Chitwan national park

    November 16, 2016 in Nepal ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    What an amazing opportunity to get out of the city and go on some jungle adventures. We took a 6-7 hour soul crushing bus ride over the worst road I've ever been on in my life. The roads here aren't roads, they are composed of randomly sized rocks placed haphazardly with rubble and other random leftover carnage from the landslides caused by the earthquake in 2015. Pitted and rudded potholes bigger than the wheels of busses are scattered throughout the 100 something km journey in copious amounts. The best thing to do is Medicate up, engage the core and submit to it like drinking tequila. It burns along the way but afterwards you feel euphoric.....and very grateful for everything we have back home. For me this experience here in Chitwan National Park was a collision of heart and mind. The right and left sides of my brain firing fully in order to make the next power move decision and be at peace with it once made. "The paradox of life" is something Joel used to say to me and I heard him saying it a few times to me these past few days. I remember asking him more than a few times what it meant and then googling it after too still being confused. Ahaha. Now I think I know what he meant. The resulting brain collision resulted in me getting a stress cold and probably getting Beth sick too however the experience was a little enlightening.

    We found a great place to stay that provided tours and treks in Nepals only national park and saw some really neat wildlife. Last year this park was poach free apparently however the years of hunting and mans need to control everything and capitalize is very clear here. In the mid 1900s before this was a park hunting was rampid until the rhino population was almost completely depleted. Elephants have been completely dominated in Nepal. There was a breeding centre here in which we did not visit but I asked our guide on the jungle trek some questions about it and the answers I received were very disheartening. Newborn elephants are immediately trained and broken in, male elephants are then shipped off to one of the many army posts. 2 elephants a guard post with about 45 posts around the park. The tusks are sawed off when they become a threat. Female elephants remain in captivity forever basically even though they do go on daily walks into the jungle they chain them up the rest of the time.
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  • Day51

    Mumbai, india

    November 23, 2016 in India ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    The adventure continues to Mumbai, India where the recent demonetization has caused some serious turmoil for most of the country as the economy is 85% cash based and hundreds of millions of people don't even have bank accounts. Line ups were everywhere outside of banks and post offices as people are scrambling to exchange the now useless "old" 500 and 1000 rupee note. I could feel the tension instantly even in the airport terminal where we waited over an hour and a half just to exchange a small amount of money for ourselves. It's not a good time to travel to India so we kept it short and sweet. Our journey from Kathmandu to Mumbai connected through New Delhi and was filled with hours of standing in long leg-panging lines. We were told completely conflicting information by 4 different Indian officials regarding where to go all followed by a head waggle which is used to insinuate a myriad of different inferences. I had a full conversation with a woman in security and all she used to communicate was her head and eyes. It was quite adorable and very understandable. We arrived around 9pm at night and it took an hour and a half for our taxi driver to maneuver down a 3 lane highway (that people drove like there were 5 lanes) for a distance totalling only 30 kilometres. India wasn't as dirty and smelly as I had thought. Although in some areas the smells almost knocked me off my feet. There is extreme poverty right next to massive high rises, and business districts intertwined with shops, tuk tuks filling every free square inch of road space. People have stared a lot at us but are deeply in love with American pop culture and Hollywood so we had a couple people ask to get pictures with us. We both agreed that getting used to Nepal first helped us not be overwhelmed by millions of people and the constant nattering of honks and head waggles. We found a cosy shared apartment using Airbnb and met some amazing British Indians. We then blew a breaker in their home, then locked a door that we weren't supposed to (which resulted in calling a locksmith... face palm). We spent a day getting oriented and then a full day at the Global Vipassana Pagoda which was just a short ferry ride away in Gorai. We used Uber a couple of times as well which was a little more expensive but also quite cool. The food was quite delicious and we didn't get sick as I learned my lesson in Nepal about eating salads. India will be a country to come back to one day.Read more

  • Day51

    The Global Vipassana Pagoda, Mumbai

    November 23, 2016 in India ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    The Global Vipassana Pagoda deserves its own blog post because it has meant so much to me in my life as I have attended four 10 day Vipassana courses in the past (all entirely free of charge, supported by donation only) and plan on attending annual retreats yearly with my wife. The life path I have chosen to this day is built off the experience and wisdom that I have acquired with Vipassana. Also I have learned how to be a better partner to the love of my life. (Basically I kill all the scary bugs around her and keep her well fed, with tea and chocolate for afterwards....well slightly more than that lol). This non sectarian, non religious, universal technique provides an opportunity to practice good morality, mind mastery and acquire wisdom through the scientific pragmatic observation of the relationship between the mental structure and the physical structure that makes up this impermanent mass of atoms named Jarris, all understanding the impermanent nature that this too shall pass. We signed up for a 1 day course and were able to sit and meditate inside the main Pagoda for 4 one hour sits with short breaks (including a yummy free lunch) in between. We were the only foreigners but were welcomed as all walks of life are. The dome is built with Basalt, sandstone, and marble, and was completed relatively recently in 2008 with more construction being added around the main dome. It is the biggest pillar-less stone dome structure in the world taking 3.87 million man days to complete with 2.5 million tonnes of stone used. It is almost as high as a 30 story building and can fit up to 8000 meditators at once!
    The pagoda is to serve as a monument of peace and harmony. The Global Vipassana Pagoda has been built out of gratitude to the Buddha, his teaching and the community of monks practicing his teaching. Its traditional Burmese design is an expression of gratitude towards the country of Myanmar for preserving the practice of Vipassana. The shape of the pagoda is a copy of the Shwedagon Pagoda (Golden Pagoda) in Yangon, Myanmar. It was built combining ancient Indian and modern technology to enable it to last for a thousand years.
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