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A week spent in Thailand

My time in Australia was short and sweet, and after a stormy stopover in Brisbane I latterly landed in Thailand.  Upon arrival I was taken to Khao Lak and headed straight into Similan Islands via my dive boat Dolphin Queen MV.

The first four days of my stay took place strictly on the boat surrounded by a friendly crew and amazing cuisines.  Having just come off a dive boat, I found that I was banging myself on the head for getting on dive boats in back-to-back sequence.  But what’s interesting about this boat is that all the dive instructors were foreigners whilst crew members were Thai locals.  I found out later that a lot of natives do not particularly enjoy water diving, resulting in a lack of interest to personally instruct, which is where foreign instructors for these great diving sites come into play.

The visibility was not the best throughout the four-day period, but we did get to see giant manta rays on two of our dives during the third day.  The amazing creatures flew directly above us, inciting an resounding sensation of serenity. Even though the current was strong throughout those dives, we came back with so much more experience than we anticipated.  Aside from giant manta rays, we encountered a higher concurrence of octopus sighting in comparison to other diving spots that I’d experienced in the past.

After the dive, I found myself back in the water partaking in regular touring with Captain Mark’s, with one day spent in Ao Phang National Park and another on the Phi Phi Islands.  Throughout the boat rides, I was continuously astounded by the beautiful characteristics of the islands formed through limestone over the course of millions of years, providing me with another element that I’ve yet to experience prior to coming here.  The structures built up to as tall as a few hundred feet, providing support for many bio-ecosystems around the area.

I was warned by Captain Mark about touts illegally using gibbons to lure tourists into photo opportunities. What really made me angry was seeing people actually involving themselves in the scheme on Phi Phi Isalnds.  With the fact that gibbons are endangered in mind, it’s disheartening to witness people kill parents of the gibbon just so that tourists can hold the corpse and take morbid photos.  It felt pathetic, disgusting, and evil that such behavior still exists and is accepted in our modern world, that tourists value the captivation of such photos more than they do the well-being of a species.  I really hope that the government will sustain more enforcement in the future, as well as educate tourists prior arriving to Thailand about the circumstances so that tourists don’t get trapped into these touts.

While I was once looking into these activities: I’ve avoided elephant rides as well as tiger petting after learning that tigers are being perpetually drugged for complacent purposes and that elephants are being chained. As I was leaving Thailand, I was overcome with sadness that we abuse the prosperity of other species simply for our own entertainment purposes in name of tourism.  However, the injustice of it does provoke in me the motivation to help promote a better world. I hope to be a part of alleviating future suffering in this world.

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Inspiration | travel

Having fun in Cairns, Australia

After the dive boat experience at the Great Barrier Reef, a group of us coincidentally found ourselves in a boat together again-this time visiting Cairns. That delightful and random occurrence encouraged us to band together, and it was great to be in the company of friends when it came time to explore the city as well as the rainforest nearby. Some of us ended up lodging at at the Galligans Traveler Hostel wherein the party scene was prevalent. The liveliness and vibrant energy made me reminiscent of my partying years; although I longer categorize myself as part of the partying demographic, I still found the hostels energetic vibe to be entertaining and well-spirited.

A couple of us expressed our desire to visit the Daintree Rainforest the following day. To be quite honest, I wasnt really expecting anyone to show so I was pleasantly surprised when the turnout tallied seven people, enough for our designated driver Alex to resort to renting a van. We had so many adventures lying ahead of us and it felt great to set out on them on this family-style trip knowing that wed be sharing these experiences with each other. We formed a bond through those shared memories, and that is something we can all hold no matter where we may find ourselves after this trip. Once we made it to the Daintree Rainforest National Park we were informed the this is cassowary hatching season, meaning that an actual sighting would be something of an far-fetched event. We also came across some other travelers that had been there for days without spotting one, so although we let ourselves hope for the inconceivable, we minimized any expectations we had harbored for a possible cassowary encounter.

We set off on a hike at the entry of the rainforest and attempted to locate a beach at the end of the forest. We soon learned that Australians are having a hard time swimming in the ocean due to the presence of jellyfish and just as hard a time swimming in freshwater lakes due to the crocodiles. Having been told there was a beautiful beach situated just before the 4WD required zone, we spent hours avidly scouring to find this hidden gem.  During the course of our search, we came across two German girls that has been living in their car-which happened to break down in the rainforest-for the past four months. Funnily enough, we had a German guy named Hendrick in our group who just so happens to be a mechanic; he ended up fixing their car while we continued on our mission to uncover the Legend of the Elusive Beach. 

On our way out of the forest,  we witnessed the rules of inconceivability be defied in the form of a cassowary followed by two chicks. The German girls had spotted them just as we were approaching the outer parameters of the rainforest. After a moment, the cassowaries became aware of our loud and very visually apparent presence and proceeded to continue inwards into the rainforest. I immediately scrambled to follow their trail until the abundance of spider webs became too big a hindrance for me to continue. Later on, I learned that that following after them was a crummy move as these birds are extremely aggressive and would have likely chased after me had they known I was alone. Thankfully I came away unscathed and our group came out of that forest with an air of privileged demeanor, having been graced with what felt like a small miracle. If there is such a thing as perfect timing, we witnessed it in full effect.

The entire road trip/forest expedition-including food-costed us approximately $40 AUD which almost felt like a steal for such all fulfillment and excitement we received for it.

On Day 2, a couple of us visited the tropical zoo at the Palm Cove wherein we were able to see most of the native and exotic animals that inhabit Australia. We were afforded the opportunity to feed the kangaroos, which was memorable to say the least. They didnt show much fear or apprehension towards us, making the feeding feel like a casual and natural dynamic, which was inspiriting to be a part of. I also got close and personal with a koala that didnt mind being held (as opposed to wild koalas reaction to being held, which I learned may potentially reduce their life span because of how unfamiliar they are with human contact) and hopefully doesnt mind that hes featured in what is now my Facebook profile picture.

I have just one outstanding complaint to make about Cairns-their crying lack of cocktail choices.  We came across a nice, standard bar with great decor and a vibrant atmosphere, but their consumptive selections threw me off entirely. While a sweeping sector of their inventory was solely dedicated to beers, I found that they didnt even have something as basic as vermouth in stock (meaning they cant even throw a simple vodka martini together!). This struck me as odd and considerably underwhelming for a liquor establishment.

The Esphalana area was a unique experience: when looking up we would see the sky fluttering with colonies of bats circling overhead; we lapped the scene up, as we did with the majority of Cairns sights. Theres something magical about seeing things that dont belong or exist in your usual surroundings. I realize that as we get older, we are less enchanted by life because new experiences and feelings seem to be so few and far between, so much so that sometimes were convinced weve seen all there is to see, and experienced all this world has to offer. But coming to Cairns-and more generally, exploring these new and foreign regions in the past month-I feel that prime sense of child-like wonder that comes with moments like this.

My days in Cairns hold so many meaningful and fun-filled memories of experiencing new and enthralling things with great company. As I left Cairns, I felt such appreciation towards the city for imparting to me these good times, ones that I know Ill be telling for a lifetime. 

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Hiking | travel

Diving in the Great Barrier Reef

Diving in the Great Barrier Reef has been on my bucket list for quite some time, though it always seemed like a far-off excursion that I would put off for some time. I never imagined I would be checking it off so soon and even after booking my live-abroad tour with ProDive Cairns months in advance, the trip still felt surreal. But months later, the time finally arrived: only then did it really hit me that I was really going forward with this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Cairns was my sixth stop of my traveling itinerary. Hauling my scuba gear across the handful of previous destinations didnt strike me as a practical move so I shipped the equipment over to DoubleTree Hotel and retrieved it upon arrival.  At 6:30AM sharp the bus picked me up and just like that, I was reef-bound. Being that I was traveling the entire day prior to this and had only racked an underwhelming four hours of sleep that night, I was exhausted when we arrived at the docks.  Luckily the trek to the outer reef lasted about four hours, so I was able to catch up on some much-needed rest to prepare for the four dives I would participate in later that day.

This time of year proved combative to the water visibility which can be explained by the simple fact that this is the optimal period for the reef to spread its spores out for reproduction. But even with these untimely circumstances, I still perceived the Great Barrier Reef to be one of the most enchanting sites Ive ever ventured to. The region appeared to be highly maintained as a result of mechanisms induced by the government as well as locals. I observed that there were giant concrete blocks at the bottom of dive sites used for boat anchoring-the incorporation of these blocks productively ensure that the boats dont anchor on live coral; it also provides divers a sense of direction. ProDives intricate albeit flexible routes appeal to two classes of divers-those who wish to explore with their diving buddies and those who wish to solely follow the guide.

Perhaps the most captivating highlight of the reef was the live corals we witnessed among our first few dives. The movement of most of the corals gave off a very evident differentiation from the places I have visited.  The reef fish who live amongst these corals were undoubtedly one of the most aesthetically-pleasing clan of sea creatures Ive seen-after gaining that visual experience, I know trying to replicate and recapture that vivid scene with fish tanks and aquariums would be doing it a severe injustice. Another thing Ive noticed is that many of these corals act as a cleaning station for the big sharks, turtles and other big fish, with the reef fish serving as the appointed cleaners.  It was truly enthralling to witness the ecosystem of daily life in the reef, which entails the feeding station, jelly fish farms, and the cleaning station. There was unexpected solace to be found in seeing the different entities carrying out their specific purposes in life, in knowing that this unexplored sea world has established and maintained interdependent roles, and in realizing that nature just has a way of sustaining life through organic workings.

Another major highlight was a night dive excursion on the second day: we went through a dive site called Mickey Mouse at the Flynn Reef.  Having dived there on during the day, we were fairly familiar with the layout but this time around, we became acquainted with a sizable turtle that had an appetite to match-his days are spent munching on jelly fish at the outer reef, but by night he returns to a pretty sweet abode situated under the coral. We were advised to be respectful towards him and not direct any flashlights in his direction, and though we followed that sensible protocol, he surprised us by coming out of his coral cave apartment anyway.  Of all the things that may have been going through his mind, I imagine his most resounding thought at the time was, Jeez, what does a turtle have to do to get some sleep around here?? As we returned from our dive, we encountered a couple of reef sharks surrounding our safety stop; it felt as though we were literally planted in the middle of the shark pit, a notion that inevitably provoked an adrenaline rush. But I have to admit, the slightly perilous nature of this adventure made it all the more thrilling.

The boat provided an excellent selection of food, and the wifi-capability was a welcomed commodity. The boat even accommodated my slumber as I found the sways and movements of the boat was very much comparable to the soothing sensation of being rocked to sleep in a cradle. After being granted this sneak peak of the reef, Ive developed a fervent desire to visit Cod Hole during the whale season and become more intimate with the reef and its inhabitants, and after seeing this overwhelmingly gratifying experience through with ProDive, Im just waiting to pounce on another opportunity to dive with them again.

When I set out on this adventure, I was convinced I would be undergoing a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Following all the action within the reef amidst such breathtaking scenery has given memories I will treasure for a lifetime, but it has also given me so many reasons to come back to make more unforgettable memories. Great Barrier Reef: thank you for this rewarding experience. Until we meet again!

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Inspiration | travel

The Singapore stopover

My flight from Hong Kong to Australia ran through Singapore wherein I had a stopover. I wasnt going to let the 14 hours of layover time go to waste when it could be spent exploring new territory.  On my flight over to Singapore, I met a Jewish guy named Avi who is currently in a semi-permanent residential situation in Singapore; he was kind enough to pass on some of his local-based suggestions on places to visit in Singapore with the extremely limited time I had to get acquainted with the city. After getting briefed on Singapores must-sees, I entered the city equipped with Avis condensed list of recommendations and a determination to absorb all that I could in that mere half a day.

My first stop was MBS (Marina Bay Sand), a popular casino with a unique architectural structure that attaches three buildings together. I was provided free entrance, a privilege that is extended to all visitors. However, gaining admission to the casino as a local requires a relatively steep expense of $100. As an third-party perspective to the matter, I dont have a problem believing that the local policy is a pretty efficient way to reduce gambling habits in the city while still capitalizing on the wealth of foreign entities. The MBS arranges a great water show at the plaza that integrates a projection with the water fountain. The building across the street gives way to a rooftop bar named LeVeL33 from which you can take in the spectacular view of MBS. Whats more, the establishment brews its own beers right there at the bar.

My next stop was Lop Pa Sak which is located around the center of the city. In a nutshell, its a farmers marketplace that vends a vast selection of street foods.  My favorite was the satay, which I found at the Malay Corner for a well-spent 60 cents. Having spent most of my money back at the bar, I was left with $20, but that quickly diminished as well what with my hasty inclination to sample all the stands at the market square.  At around 8:30 I found myself in a state of monetary ruin; having no money left on me at a time when all the banks had already closed was quite simply an adverse position to be in. I resorted to begging for money in order to afford the train fare, which would be my golden ticket to one of the only money exchange places open in town-Mustafa Centre, an establishment tucked within Little India.

Upon arriving to Little India and maneuvering the somewhat unkempt neighborhood, I couldnt help but notice that this is the only part of the city (that I had seen, at least) that did not maintain the immaculate conditions I was accustomed to with the rest of Singapore. However, I paid no mind to the neglected state of the streets once I reached my destination. It appeared as though Mustafas inventory likely carried everything besides cars and houses; they seemed to have just about every conceivable product imaginable in stock . Whats more, my wallet and I were pleasantly surprised to find that the price-marks were cheaper than other shops in the city.

After exchanging my money and indulging in a nice authentic Indian cuisine-themed dinner, I took a cab on my way back to Lop Pa Sak, this time clad with financial security. But when we neared the destination, I was disappointed to find that the market squares lively atmosphere did not carry into the night. Most of the stands had already closed shop which I should have half-expected given that it was 11:30PM. This turn of events left me with the choice of booking a nearby hotel or just killing the next four hours exploring Singapores nightlife. Knowing that I would probably be spending the same amount either way, I asked the cab driver to drop me off at a neighborhood with a prevalent nightlife, which led me to an area (the name of which is eluding me) that encompassed a strip of bars situated just by the riverside. I had no interest of getting drunk and dealing with the morning-after repercussions whilst traveling. However, I later figured that I didn't have to be all that cognizant in my alcohol intake having come to the conclusion that cocktails are not one of Singapores more distinguished specialties. Nevertheless, I was pleased to have scouted out a couple of bars that satisfied my palate.

My time was arguably too brief, but I feel that even within this radically limited time frame, the city spoke to me through some of the more evident appeals: the notably sanitary atmosphere/streets, the inexpensive and convenient transportation, and most importantly, the level of safety I felt as a tourist here, which is more than I have sensed in any other city Ive visited or lived in. Fourteen hours is not nearly enough time to capture the soul and spirit of the country, but I intend to get the full experience next time around.

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Inspiration | travel

My three days in Hong Kong

Hong Kong was our fourth leg on the trip as well as the last and final destination that the five of us would travel as a group to.  Having booked an Airbnb within Sheng Wan, we were able to obtain access to most of the public transportation services.

Considering that we had already explored major parts of Hong Kong in past ventures, we decided to take our journey to a site we’d never seen: the Tian Tan Buddha statue, a popular tourist attraction that we felt attracted to because we felt it would provide a degree of religious insight to our travels.  After spending a week visiting countries that were home to historic cathedrals, we were hoping that the Tian Tan-a monumental Buddhist statue-would contribute a new dimension to the group’s religious perspectives and comprehension. It certainly catered to those hopes as the site taught us quite a few things about Buddhism and even other religions. For one, we learned that in the same general manner in which Christians pray to saints, Buddhists pray to bodhisattvas. Another point of insight that stood out to me was that the temple does not provide services on a daily basis as opposed to cathedrals, which do. As a Zen practitioner, that makes me a little uneasy-the notion of temple service limitations is, in a sense, a limitation on my practices. During my time absorbing the Buddhist monuments I also developed a sense of appreciation for the the Christians whom built the cathedrals, as the sound architectural structures are capable of  accommodating both worshippers and tourists. On the other hand, I feel that the heavily prominent tourist population at the some of the Buddhist sites (which are not as grand or lavish as cathedrals but instead more quaint and humble in infrastructure size) somewhat diminishes the religious integrity of temples and the Tian Tan statue in particular. 

After the statue sighting, we proceeded to take a bus to Tai O brought us out to an old fishing village wherein we gained a deeper understanding of a village that has maintained a pronounced fishing culture over the years. Tai O Heritage Hotel assisted us in satiating our curious appetites-we were catered with samples of shrimp paste in our fried rice, which is made from foul-smelling shrimp bricks produced locally. For the most part, the briefing provided us with a unique experience that other cities did not offer.

Dim sum was a pronounced high point throughout our Hong Kong trip-the food was inexpensive and incredibly satisfying.  Then came the check: tipping culture left us a little bewildered, to say the least. After an instance of extending a 20% tip to the owner of a street food joint, we were heavily scolded for the gesture and our basic token of appreciation was sharply dismissed. Looking back on our time in Hong Kong, I can now say that the even after a few days of indulging in the recycled routine of dim sum for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it never got boring or repetitive.

After three days of exploring the city, my traveling group and I reached the divergence-while they wanted to keep exploring Southeast Asia, I had my sight set on Australia and continued en route to the next adventure in store. 

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Inspiration | travel

The Amsterdam Stopover

Our third stop was Amsterdam, wherein we were had over eight hours to explore the city.  To sum that experience up quite simply: it was far too short a time.

We took a bus to Leidsebosje station where we booked our boat tour and proceeded to miss it. We replaced the experience with something much more authentic to Amsterdam’s culture-a good old visit to the local coffee shop. My throat hadn’t fully restored itself from partaking in cigar smoking back in Prague so I sat out for this leg while my fellow travelers smoked on a couple Amsterdam joints.

We caught the next boat tour which was extremely informative and tied up not only the grand scheme of things around the area; I think we better understand the Dutch culture after hearing about their background and perfections in the water. Amsterdam is actually the only city thats climate-change proof, meaning that rising of sea levels will not affect the city.  That intrinsic quality may save the a chunk of the human population some day when global warming drowns the rest of the world.

Within just hours left, we were able to visit the Vincent Van Gogh museum, located in the museum’s  quarters. The audio tour led us through the highlights of Van Goghs sad albeit fascinating life.  It accurately depicts the tribulations of an artist’s genius and talent when it is unrecognized by the people of his time; his brother Theo-who showed unwavering faith and support in Van Gogh’s masterpieces-foreshadowed our present captivation with the late artist’s works. After the visit, my preconceived belief that his genius stemmed from his insanity dissolved entirely. It was replaced by a clear understanding that his hard work combined with his talent to express his anguish in an artistically innovative manner were factors that resulted in his inevitable success.

 

Eight hours was inarguably not enough time to capture all of Amsterdam’s wonders, but it did grant us a fun sneak peak of the city.  Id love to come back sometime in the near future and explore the other magical crevices of the city.

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Inspiration | travel

Prague, the Medieval Fairy Land

Prague was the second destination in our trip around the world, and it was undoubtedly a beautiful one. After our taxi picked us up, we proceeded to witness a night view of the castle as well as the city, and the only similarity that I’d drawn to the states was that this looked like Disney World, except real.  For the majority of the trip, the city called out to us like a medieval theme park; it wasnt until later that I learned that Prague has had few chaotic attacks in years past, so the city is easily able to preserve the original architecture, which includes some dungeon-resembling medieval basements.  

I woke up early the first morning to pay a visit to Charles Bridge. 7am promises a shortage of people, which created a great opportunity to take photographs and explore the city.  The consistency of the architecture added a tremendous touch to the city; every crevice of Prague was another scenic masterpiece, showing great details that blessed the city with its intricate beauty.  It also gives me a feeling of collectivism-the buildings themselves appear to be built not to stand out, but to complement one another.  The detailed sculptures perched on each building not only add to the style of the building, but also sketches an overall look towards the city.  This made me realize that people who built these buildings and lived there did so for the benefit of society rather than individuals, and the city is simply a reflection of that ideology.

Getting lost in this beautiful city can not be more appealing. After my venture to the bridge I somehow found myself at the Castle without a map or directions.  In the beginning I was wondering what the process of entry was; it wasn’t till later on that I discovered this is Prague’s biggest tour spot.  The St. Vitus Cathedral was magnificent, presenting its gothic style both through old portion as well as the new portion.  The rain from the previous day left drops of water on the gargoyles’ mouth for a natural touch to the sculpted monuments.  For just 100 crowns I was able to book my official tour from the castle, which granted us access not only to the Cathedral, but also to the tombs of Charles IV, his four wives, and Rufus II, both Holy Roman Empires.  The relic viewing in the afternoon showed many unique pieces, one of the most interesting being a piece of cloth from Jesus Christ himself, donated by the Vatican.

My second day entailed getting lost in the city again.  To linger around the Old Town is to expect the flocks of tourists surrounding you.  Walking towards south end of the city, I successfully exited the central tourism spot.  Ive walked as far as Varylestic; the balastica was setup for the first King of Behomia, the modern day Czech.  The architecture never fails to impress-the old stone building managed to maintain its form after 500 years, blessed by the saints for whom the chapels were built.

Prague lives in my memory as some form of medieval wonderland. The rich history and beautiful architecture paved the way for tourism around the world. The inexpensive pricing gives a better reason for any explorers that want to visit the city.  I don’t doubt that I’ll find myself back here in the future so as to get lost in the fairyland trance once again.

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travel

Looking goooood in Milan

Traveling through a one-way across the world can be a major thrill, especially during the planning stage.  After striking an airfare deal at $168 flying from New York to Milan, then Prague to Hong Kong via Amsterdam, my friends and I have been in planning mode for this trip for the past five months.  But before we knew it, we were landing in Milan.

I was aware that Milan is the fashion capital of the world, but upon arriving I was still alarmed to realize that I was virtually the worst-dressed person in town.  The kids who were coming out of middle school were clad in more fashionable attire than me.  After acknowledging that, we spent our first day shopping for clothing that would allow us to blend in and look good.  Whilst buying a new set of cloths, I finally realized that a sense of fashion is almost an art form; it is a composure of different pieces for one to present oneself.  Too often weve ignore this notion in the United States, where fashion is considered a luxury rather than a necessity as it is in Milan.

On the other hand, we also faced some moderate self-esteem issues being that were were surrounded by so many beautiful people.  While partying at Just Cavali on our second night there, we witnessed some of the most beautiful professional models just constantly checking their appearances in their mirrors.  What supposed to look good and feel good now becomes a liability not only on professional life, but on personal consciousness as well.

Visiting Fernet Branca factory was another highlight of our trip.  Ive only known Fernet as a drink that is  usually taken in shots and tastes like Chinese medicine.  The factory tour did open my eyes to what Fernet is really about.  What tasted like Chinese medicine is in fact Chinese medicine, brewed and extracted from more than fifty types of herbs from across the span of five different continents. Fernet Branca not only gets people inebriated, but is actually extremely healthy too.  I am no cocktail expert, nor an alcohol expert per se, but after seeing the ingredients, as well as the passion and craftsmanship theyve put into their drink, Id say I will definitely be drinking more of it for health purposes.

Another highlight in Milan for me would be seeing the Duomo di Milano.  Duomo di Milano was a magnificent piece from both architecture and spiritual perspective.  Ive woke up early enough for a early visit right after it opens, upon praying inside the Cathedral, it felt as if I went through a psychedelic state without being on drugs. There was no more sense of self, only the awareness.  An hour of sitting felt more like five minutes.

Perhaps the most important part of the trip was “The Last Supper” at Santa Maria delle Grazie, where we bore the vision of a Da Vinci masterpiece and one of the most famous paintings in the world. Not knowing it was even located in Milan prior to the trip, I somehow managed to acquire a viewing ticket right before departing.  Due to the heavy demand, you’re only allotted fifteen minutes with this masterpiece. Once we entered the room the precious clock started to tick.  Although photography was prohibited, the image of the Last Supper will be imbedded in my memory for the rest of my life.

Milan is an amazing city, despite being one of the most expensive regions Ive visited.  The copious supply of culture and art really made me feel the presence of spirituality in Christianity.  Also, there arent many places in the world where the majority is extremely conscious about the way they look and I appreciate that I can get a better fashion sense just by walking amongst them.

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Inspiration | travel

Adventures on the island of Maui

It has been two years since my first trip to the island of Maui, and I’ve ended up coming back to explore some of the things I wasn’t able to experience last time around.  I claimed my stay at the The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort that I booked for a week’s vacation. I originally purchased the package for my parents, but their lack of interest in traveling incited a fun stay for me instead.

To continue the scuba diving pattern apparent throughout my other travels, I secured three days of diving with Lahaina Divers.  After diving at the Molokini Crater and The First Cathedral at Lanai, I’ve realized this is by far the best visibility I’ve seen among all my diving trips.  What continuously amazed me was the abundance of sea turtles that reside in the region; they are such friendly and calm creatures, roaming freely across the ocean alongside curious divers. 

Due to the turtle harassment law, we were prohibited from touching any sea turtles.  During one occasion I was forcefully driven into the sea turtle whilst filming him feast on corals by the current, only to realize he was driven backwards by the current as well.  He gave me a look, almost as if to reassure me, “It’s just the current, just stay calm, there is nothing we can do.”  The moment was special, not because I was able to tape good footage from GoPro, but because a neutral understanding was shared between us with only the language of common civilities.

Driving up to Haleakalā and roading up to Hana posed a relatively extensive challenge.  After waking up at 3am, we proceeded to drive up to Haleakalā, or “The House of the Sun.” I never thought I’d be bringing winter apparel to Hawaii, but being at the top at the summit sent chills through me that I’ve never even encountered at ski resorts. The temperature does drop down to lower 30s Fahrenheit, which is cusping the freezing point.  When I return here in the future, I will definitely try to arrange a camping expedition and experience solitude under the House of the Sun.

The other side of Road to Hana was Haleakalā; that most of this road was paved certainly provided a different experience.  Hiking to the Waimoku Falls was one of the major highlights to my trip; standing in front of the waterfall provoked a feeling of insignificance that ran through the core of my being. As the water perpetually crashed against the rocks, the dirt on my body and in my mind were carried away with the movement.

Beyond these adventures, I engaged in a few more activities: surfing at The Break, watching fire dances at a Lu Au, and paying a visit to the Blow Hole as well as checking out different colors of beaches like Red Sand Beach and Black Sand Beach.  Among all these things, what I miss most about Maui is the ensured privilege of jumping in the water at any given moment, and immersing yourself completely in the ocean.  Thank you Hawaii for giving me this wonderful experience, I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time before we meet again.

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Hiking | Inspiration | travel

Wildlife of Galapagos Island

Ever since studying Charles Darwins theory of evolution, Galapagos Island has always been on many peoples interest.  This October, I had the privilege of given a sneak peak of what goes on here at these magical Islands for 6 and half days.

Upon arriving, Ive booked my Diving trip through Academy Bay Diving dive shop and booked my 3 day diving trip, one day in North Seymour and Daphanie, one day in Gordon Rock and one day on Florna Island.  This is probably the best choice Ive made on this trip.

Despite the water visibility not being perfect the first two days, we were still able to see eagle rays, manta rays, sea turtles, and many other different schools of fish which I can not even name.  And on the Isle Floreana we were able to see white tip sharks and sea turtles resting in the cave.  Swimming among them makes feel not how vulnerable I am, but also how amazing and friendly the animals seems to be, even the sharks.  There were moments where Ive gotten lost and search for bubbles of my dive master and dive group, the feeling is not only surreal, but it gives me a sense of serenity,  where time and space was completely suspended not only in a figurative description, but in a literal experience in the middle of the nothing but toqtoise colored world.

After 3 days of diving we finally had 2 days of land tour, it was just as amazing.  Our host at  Casa Germania was able to give us a ride to the El Cato on the Isle Santa Cruz, it gives me a great pleasure watching tortoises here roaming freely here, most of them were afraid and stick their head inside when we get closer, but there were a few thats brave enough that our presence were merely a distraction, their tortoise eating business is still as usual.  After all, it is their home, and we are just visitors.

The marine iguanas are another specie thats unique to the Galapagos Island ecosystem.  At Tortuga Bay they rest peacefully in groups until people came too close, then they start spitting salt at them as a warning sign.  The land iguana are suppose to be  bigger, but since our plan for a North Seymour land tour did not materialize, we were only able to see them at Darwin Research Center, it is there Ive learned that they were once extremely populated, and at due to humans distraction of the ecosystem, they were almost on the verge of extinction.  The shape of these magnificent lizard reminds of dragons in the mythical tales, the only difference would be spitting salt instead of fire.

We spent our final day on Isle Isabella, which is the only guided land tour weve taken, and probably the worst choice weve made after coming to the Island.  The feeling of freedom being taken away is nothing short of torture in my travels, especially knowing that I can do it myself without the tour itself.  But we did get to see Galapagos penguins and boobies, two amazing birds thats master of swimming in the ocean.

Another highlights would be how friendly the pelicans and sea lions are, at a local market wild sea lions would be waiting for fish heads or other parts to be tossed, it looked like the chefs pet dog, except its a sea lions.  Pelicans on the other hands keeps trying to steal the food from chefs prep table, trying to eat just about anything, including sharpening stone. 

Living among these wildlife made me realize that it is possible for humans to be part of the wildlife ecosystem.  It also made me start to humanize them as well, by putting myself in their shoes.  After all, they just want to live freely and have a place called home, have a few friends they can lay next to when they get cold, have a mate and give birth to the next generation, and have fun during the day while living their life.  But the bigger question is, dont we humans just want that as well?

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