World travel videos, photos, and blog.

Full Circle

Updates are long over due. You miss me?

I'm back in Burbank, exactly where I started this incredible journey. Fill you in on more when things become a little more certain.

Supporting A Cause

I've been spending the week in Los Angeles and amazingly, I've managed to go six days without spending much money. Thanks to the generosity of friends like Noah, Tristan, Nina, Amy, Manash, and Rich. I often feel guilty for having to 'mooch' off of friends but it's good to remember that we all have moments in life where we need a hand. Call it karma, paying it forward, whatever, but I think it's important to try to return the favor somehow. I've been keeping a positive attitude amidst the continuous news about unemployment, collapsing economies, and the rise of this and the fall of that. We'll get through this by making some sacrifices and looking out for one another. A couple of my friends are working on upcoming projects that I'd like to share with you. If you feel moved in some way, perhaps you'll make a donation.

Valentina and her Ayoka Productions are heading to Columbia to produce a documentary about Luis Soriano, who is spreading knowledge to the people of impoverished villages, by delivering donated books on the back of a donkey! Read more about it at Ayoka Productions.

My friend Nedda is participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, D.C. Every 3 minutes someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer kills nearly 41,000 people a year - that means 1 every 13 minutes. A woman in the U.S. has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. Support Nedda in reaching her goal of raising $2,000 for this two-day walk. She's already half way there.

Update: Engineers for a Sustainable World is an organization that my friend and Iceland travel buddy Regina is very passionate about (she's also one of the founders). ESW is a national, non-profit organization that aims to build an engaged technical community with the vision of changing the world through engineering education, innovation, and practical action. Read more about their efforts towards sustainability, renewable energy, and engineering education at the ESW website. All donations will be matched until March 31!

Thanks everybody!

Starting Over

I'm back in California after a month long stay in Washington, D.C. I'd gone out to New York and D.C. to visit some of my east coast friends, attend Barack Obama's inauguration, and to wait for word on a job opportunity. I had a nice time hanging out with friends I don't get to see very often, got really lucky and scored tickets to the inauguration, and made my first visit to Baltimore. (Thanks for showing me around Danny)

The job opportunity didn't pan out so I'm joining the 11 million unemployed Americans trying to sniff out work wherever it is. The big trip left me with an enormous amount of debt and I've had some tough days, reflecting on my decision to leave my job in 2007 to discover some of the planet's incredible sights and experiences. There are days when I feel blessed and amazed that I was able to do it. But more recently, there are many days where I wonder if it was a mistake or perhaps bad timing. It's certainly a life experience which will reveal its benefits in hindsight. Right now, the panic over paying my bills is quickly overshadowing the nostalgia.

On my solo journey to places unknown, I embraced being lost. That unknown made me fearless and full of curiousity, hunger, and adventure. Back home, I'm lost again but now I'm full of anxiety, hopelessness, and worry. Home is where one is meant to feel safe. I do not feel safe. I feel dependent. I'm thankful for friends and family who have housed and fed me but my stupid pride makes every couch more uncomfortable and every bite less palatable.

But I'll swallow it. I'll swallow my pride and ride this low out like the rest of the world during these grim times. I just hope you'll forgive my ever-glum mood and humor me as I continue to ask to crash on your couches while I wander around the country, looking for work and my independence.

Video Iceland

UPDATE: I've added some notes on Iceland, some of which is lifted from tips I've sent to others interested in Iceland. As of March, the US currency is four times stronger than it was when I was there!

My first big activity in Iceland was scuba diving in 32F water at Silfra in Thingvellir National Park.

I booked my dive through Reykjavik Excursions, one of the biggest tour companies in Iceland. It was slightly cheaper to book with them and in the end, it was that provided the gear and guide. All I needed to stay warm under the dry suit were a couple of pairs of socks and thermal underwear.

New Year's in Reykjavik was incredible but too difficult to capture on video.

New Year's Eve provided me with a wonderful introduction to Icelandic cuisine and culture thanks to my friend Ingvar and his family having me over for dinner. I think the only traditional food I'd had at this point was skyr, made of cultured skim milk. Its taste is similar to yogurt but its creation is closer to cheese. I had it with the included breakfast at the guesthouse.

Dinner at Ingvar's started with salmon marinated in salt and dill (graflax) served with a creamy mustard sauce and toast. We followed up with a beautiful pork roast, caramelized potatoes (Brúnaðar kartöflur), pickled red cabbage (Rauðkál), and mixed salad. Regina fixed us pomegranate and champagne cocktails but I was curious about the Egils Malt Extrakt that Ingvar's brother was drinking. It looked like dark beer. He mixed it with orange soda (Egils Appelsín) to make jólaöl. It wasn't a combination that looked very quenching. Days later I finally picked up a bottle of both. I prefer them both on their own than mixed. The Malt Extrakt is a brown sugary, malty drink that wasn't as bad as I expected. It's said that it keeps the Icelanders beautiful. Next time I'm bringing home a case. For dessert we had milk ice with fresh berries and chocolate sauce. I was stuffed but had to have a bit. It's like an icier version of ice cream. After dinner we ventured out to the beach for an enormous bonfire. Locals and tourists gathered around, faces illuminated, bodies toasting. I got a kick out of Bjork's black house amongst the row of prime beachfront properties. After chatting with other revelers we headed back to the apartment to join the swarms of people lighting fireworks on what seemed like every street. Ingvar had bought a couple of crazy rockets and a massive fireworks "cake". I lifted my personal ban on lighting fireworks to launch a rocket into the sky and was awestruck as the cake exploded into a mini pyrotechnic show. The amazing thing was, similar shows were going on for hours on every other street. And it wasn't even midnight.

Back in the apartment we imbibed Reyka vodka with pomegranate juice and I sampled Brennivin, a liquor made of potatoes and caraway seed that's often referred to as "BLACK DEATH". Awesome. Regina and I made some New Year's calls while Ingvar tuned into Áramótaskaupið, a satirical year end tv show that most of the population watches before midnight. Afterwards, we rushed over to Ingvar's grandparents' apartment for a better view of the city of Reykjavik as it seemed to explode all around us. It was a sight that has to be seen in person. We danced like maniacs for hours at a couple of clubs on the main strip. I wandered back to my hotel around 6am or so. It was one of the better New Year's Eves I've had the good fortune to experience.

In town, I mostly wandered around and got lost which is always nice. I went to the National Museum (free on Wednesdays) and the weekend flea market (not much there). The restaurants were pretty empty because of the economic crisis. Most Icelanders cook and drink at home. On weekends at midnight, they hit the clubs. I danced like a maniac at Salon and Vegemot (really beautiful people there). Some bars and cafes I popped into were Cafe Paris (touristy), Hresso (live bands some nights), and Dillon (kind of a rock and roll joint). I was trying to save cash so I ate a lot of sandwiches from the 10-11 shops (all night convenient stores). I had a nice dinner at Cafe Reykjavik (seafood soup and grilled halibut are good). I tried a pricey but tasty bowl of soup at Sea Baron (The New York Times allegedly named it best Lobster Soup in the world, you can get whale kebabs there, too, I passed). I also tried hot dogs at various stands. Gotta get the crispy onions. I never tried the fermented shark but I had plenty of lamb.

The landscapes in Iceland are generally out of this world.

Thanks to Ingvar's dad, we had a car and were able to skip town for a night and explore some dark and lonely beaches and wander around one of the national parks. The rest of the time, I booked day tours. All of the following were worth checking out: Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss water falls, Mýrdalsjökull glacier, Vik and the cliffs at nearby Dyrholaey, caving, scuba diving, and just wandering around Þingvellir National Park. The Blue Lagoon.

If you can't afford a car rental, you're left with day tours. There are a few big companies like Reykjavik and Icelandic Excursions. The most popular tour is the Golden Circle which takes you to geysers, waterfalls, and parks. Anytime you get out of Reykjavik and start to make your way into the countryside, it's breathtaking. Really beautiful landscapes. The Southern tours take you to a glacier, more falls, and a national park. Since it was raining, I chose more active trips like caving in lava tubes, glacier walking, and the scuba diving. I enjoyed them all but they get pricey. It was about $80, $120, and $300, respectively. Prices vary with the crazy currency fluctuations.

Day tours are great. They pick up from just about every hotel/guesthouse. They pretty much provide you with transportation and don't lead you around like sheep. Once you get to a place, you're usually free to wander. If you stay at Baldursbra, the host can book your tours for better prices. You can save 10% on Reykjavik Excursions with a coupon in the Visitor Guide. The Reykjavik Welcome card is only worth the price if you're taking the bus around the city a lot. Otherwise, most art museums are free and the other museums have free days if you plan accordingly. The Tourist Center in the middle of town has brochures a plenty but don't count on them to book the best prices. You really have to compare and do some currency conversions.

My last stop was the Blue Lagoon. It's mentioned in every tourist piece about Iceland so I was skeptical of its appeal. But I was blown away. It really is pretty beautiful. I bought a package that dropped me off there for a few hours on the way to the airport. This was enough time to soak in the lagoon, sit in the steam room, and take a walk around their grounds, which are stunning.


Our New President

I was really excited to have the opportunity to witness the swearing in of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States. I really don't buy into presidential candidates very often and voting has always been about choosing the lesser of two evils for me. What thrilled me about Barack was seeing how supportive the international community was towards him. Having traveled around the world under the Bush administration, I noticed a slight hostility towards Americans. I often jokingly apologized for being an American. In turn, most people would clarify that it was the government they hated, not the people (though one did chuck Euros at us in disgust). I really believe Obama's election has united people domestically and internationally. I told myself back in the fall that I would try to make it to Washington, DC to be a part of this historical event.

Fortunately, my friend Anthonette lives half a mile from the U.S. Capitol Building and kindly offered up a sofa bed for me to crash on. I rolled into DC the Friday before the Inauguration and spent some time with our friend Faisal and his family (watching Battlestar Galactica, in fact). We spent Saturday wandering around town trying to figure out the best strategy for watching the event. We had no idea when or how many people were going to show up. You could feel that it was going to be chaos though.

On Sunday, we headed out to the Lincoln Memorial for the We Are One concert that aired on HBO (USA Today, Live-blogged it). Despite the cold and crowds, the show was pretty good with performances that included Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, U2, John Legend, Usher, Jon Bon Jovi, and Garth Brooks. Some famous faces like Tom Hanks, Tiger Woods, Jamie Foxx, and Denzel Washington showed up to do various readings. Jamie Foxx did a great Obama impression while Tom Hanks' Abraham Lincoln tribute felt a little long-winded. Garth Brooks ignited the crowd with "American Pie" and "Shout". Later, two bald eagles were brought out and displayed. The crowd seemed to expect them to be released in some sort of dramatic way. They weren't, it was a bit random. Finally, the Man, walked out and the people exploded in cheers or "Obama" and "Yes We Can". It was the first time I'd seen Barack in the flesh (I'm not counting the two seconds his motorcade passed us by in Hawaii). The energy was amazing around us. I looked behind me and the mass of people went farther than the Washington Monument. There was no doubt that Inauguration Day was going to be nuts.

Exhausted from standing out in the cold all day, Anthonette and I walked home and passed out for a couple of hours. We woke up and went down to a local pub called the Hawk and Dove for a night of dancing and tomfoolery. At 4am, we rolled home and collapsed til mid-morning. Monday was a day of lazy for us rather than a day of service. We hung out with some other out-of-towner friends and decided to try to turn in early so we could head out to the mall by 5am. Around 11pm, we got the email.

Anthonette's friend had extra tickets! By midnight, we were walking to a Congressman's office to pick up a pile of extra tickets. We scored two blue tickets which placed us in the standing room immediately behind the seated section. This changed everything. We spent an hour working out how we'd tackle the next morning and after snapping photos of ourselves with one of the town's hottest tickets, we got a few hours of shut eye.

Tuesday morning we got out of the house around 7am and started making our way out to the Capitol. There were crowds of people everywhere. We made our way towards the Blue Gate but it was one of those situations where you join a crowd that isn't 100% sure of what's going on or whether we were in the right place. Two hours later the mob started moving. Fortunately, we were able to move up the side of the line and up to the security check-point pretty quickly. We found our place among the million and a half people stuffed into the National Mall and smiled at our good fortune.

The ceremony was freezing and pretty exhausting. It was hard to really get my head into what was going on. It was too much to take in on so little sleep. The view of the crowd was incredible. Hundreds of thousands of people behind us waved American flags. People of every background, cheered, cried, prayed, sang, and smiled. We looked at our new president and hoped for the best, knowing that the country and the world was in a tough spot. After the swearing in we watched George Bush's helicopter fly away from the Capitol. People flipped it off, waved, and watched bad memories drift away in a helicopter.

Next up was the parade. We'd already decided that we would retreat to our friend's condo in the Newseum to watch the parade on TV. But our blue tickets enabled us to grab a spot at the beginning of the parade route where Obama's motorcade would pass by. Little did we know that we'd be standing in the cold for three hours before he drove by. But it was worth it. I was awestruck as his armored limo cruised by and he waved from the window. He was so close! As soon as he was gone, we bolted down the street to the Newseum and warmed our bellies with soup and wine. It was an exhausting day. But it was definitely a memorable one.


The Inauguration

I'm in Washington, D.C. for inauguration festivities. Been having a
good time meeting new people. Tonight my friend scored us tickets to
the ceremony. We'll be standing on the south side, in front of the
reflecting pool (and behind people who actually get to sit). It's
going to be cold and crowded but we're excited.

Passing Time

Sleeping, eating, walking. That's the extent of my New York activity.

I've posted some snapshots from the Iceland trip in my Picasa Gallery.

I might be going to Iran pretty soon and I wanted to tell you about Rick Steves' Iran: Yesterday and Today, airing on PBS this week. The one hour special explores the history and culture of Iran in the city and the countryside. Check your local listings. (Channel 9 or 10, Mom)

I'll be at the Inaugural Concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC this Sunday. The concert will include Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Bono, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, John Mellencamp, Usher Raymond IV, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor,, and Stevie Wonder. It will air in the evening at 7pm on HBO.


Island to Island

I stepped out of Penn Station last night and felt a brief awestruck as I looked up at the tall buildings of Manhattan. I clearly wasn't in Iceland anymore. 7th Avenue looked more crowded than any part of Iceland I'd been to.

I'm having a little rest today. I thought I'd put the small batch of photos from Iceland up and cut some YouTubes for you but I thought wrong. Oatmeal, laundry, and bed rest me thinks.

My last stop out of Iceland was pretty incredible. I visited the famous Blue Lagoon. I was skeptical of its appeal as it's mentioned in just about any piece of writing about Iceland tourism. Now I know why. Built out in the middle of nowhere amongst a moss-covered, volcanic landscape, this hot spring lagoon looks like another planet. I'll write more later. I need to blow my nose.


Glacier Walking

I've caught my first cold in months. I mean months! Yet I'm about to
go prance around a big block of ice all day today. Yesterday I only
made it through one museum on my day of museum hopping before an eye-
stabbing headache put me out of commission. The National Museum was
pretty interesting though. Regina and I brushed up on our Icelandic
history and had fun in interactive children's exhibits trying on armor
and ancient costumes. We were amused to watch to really young girls
'reconstruct a heathen grave' complete with a realistic recreation of
the skeleton lying in a grave.

I got invited to a lamb dinner for the last day of Christmas. While we
munched, fireworks exploded all over the city again.

Other notes: I had a bowl of soothing lobster soup at Sea Baron by the
harbor. I grabbed a bottle of Eglis Malt Extract to drink. I expected
it to taste pretty rank but it was tasty. It's a super popular drink
here and is said to be healthy for you and to keep you looking young.
I may have to stock up.


Lamb Dogs

Two with everything (though that's not my Coke, I don't drink soda)


Coffee and Caves

My sleep schedule is so erratic here. I can't tell if it's due to my
new taste for coffee or my annoying habit of having sleep for dinner
(a favorite meal in college by the way). Anyhow, for the second
evening in a row, I'm up at 1am too tired to read and not tired enough
to turn my brain off.

Sunday afternoon I hit the indoor flea market with Regina and Ingvar.
There weren't too many things of interest from sellers buy Ingvar did
give us a nice explanation of the different fish, meats, and other
delicacies for sale in the food section. Some interesting bits that
you don't see back home were sting ray, shark, and horse meats and the
first milk of a pregnant cow which when sold in a plastic water
bottle, looks like it could be orange juice. Black licorice is a very
popular candy and flavor here. It flavors everything from drinks to
chewing gum (salty licorice Extra?)

We had a couple of hotdogs from the stand made famous by Bill Clinton
a number of years ago. A typical Iceland dog is thin, made of lamb,
and served with crispy fried onions, fresh onions, ketchup, mustard,
and remoulade sauce. Tasty little buggers.

We ended the day early at a cafe, sipping coffee and playing cards.
Two cups of coffee ended up making me walk the streets listening to my
iPod at 1 in the morning. The streets were almost completely dead with
the few drunk tourists stumbling here and there. A stark contrast to
the midnight-6am partying of the night before.

On Monday we hopped in a van and went out to the national park where I
did my diving. This time I headed below the earth into the underworld
of a lava tube. Icicles dropped from the ceiling as we climbed through
melted rock chunks. At one point we stopped for a hot cocoa break,
turned our headlamps off, and took a moment to wonder in pitch
blackness. Your brain gets a little weirded out as your eyes search
the surroundings for any bit of light to adjust your vision. But
there's nothing. The pap of water on my wind breaker made me flinch.
The vulnarability of blindness made me raise my guard against funny
business. I was sure our guide was out to spook us after telling us
the legend of a farm girl who disappeared into these caves and was
said to appear topside wearing golden shoes. But after a few minutes
we were off again and later emerged from a snowy hole.

Other activities left for the week include museum hopping Tuesday
followed by the last holiday dinner if the Christmas season, a glacier
hike on Wednesday, and possibly a visit to the famous geyser and falls
on the Golden Circle tour. Though I may skip that because the weather
is poor and so is my bank account at this point. Afterall, I've got
New York to reckon with next week. Ah but I did prebook a stop at the
Blue Lagoon geothermic baths on the way to the airport. That'll make
my tourist checklist more complete.


New Winner

Tonight, this dance club, Vegamot, single handedly stole the title of
country with the most beautiful women away from Russia.
Congratulations Iceland, you're women are incredible. I only wish they
would speak to me.

It's 6am and people are finally leaving the clubs now. I guess I
should sleep. I'm going to miss free breakfast. Boo.


Dark and Lonely

Visited some black beaches, waterfalls, and licked a glacier
yesterday. I keep joking that Iceland is dark and lonely which suits
me just fine. Off to have a duck dinner.


Fireworks Wednesday

Happy New Year! Festivities in Iceland were amazing. The evening
started with an incredible home cooked meal followed by an enormous
bonfire on the shore in front of Bjork's house. After lighting a few
fireworks off we took a breather as Ingvar and the rest of Iceland
watched a year end TV program that satirizes the year's biggest
events. Not much made sense but I hear it was pretty amusing. We
rushed over to another home for a champagne toast before midnight as
the whole city exploded with fireworks. I mean the WHOLE city!!
Imagine every street launching a fireworks show for an hour straight.
There's no way to properly describe it or even photograph it. It's 360
degrees of explosions near and far. After a few cookies and chatting
with Ingvar's family we stopped home to do a little prepartying with
some if Iceland's quality beverages.

Then we hit a dance club where I flailed around the dance floor for
hours. Two scuffed up shoes and one broken camera later, it was nearly
6am. I made some calls to friends back home and met some very friendly
and attractive locals who were wondering why I was shouting into my
phone. Today I recuperated in my hotel room, thankful that I'd stocked
up on sandwiches.

Tomorrow we're taking a drive down south and spending a night outside
of the city. I'm looking forward to seeing some new sights.


Iceland Head Trip

I arrived in Reykjavik safely and met my friend's Regina and Ingvar.
They dropped me off at the Baldursbra which is a great little
guesthouse. I enjoyed a big breakfast and passed out til 3pm in jet-
lagged exhaustion. I spent the rest of the evening wandering the city
looking for free wifi. It's taken me three days to figure out that the
tourist center has some. So I'm sending out a quick hello from my

I went diving yesterday in 32 degree waters in a fresh water lagoon
where the American and European tectonic plates meet. It was pretty
amazing but the most difficult dive I've done. Drysuits are a whole
different ballgame. There was at least 70 lbs. of gear. But it kept me
warm and the scenery was incredible. A trippy volcanic underwater

I've been surviving on nuts, the free breakfast, and roast beef
sandwiches from convenient stores (though there are Subway and Quiznos
joints here). Without the generosity of donors, I'm
keeping the food cheap and budgeting my limited funds towards day
tours. Getting out of the city brings me to the amazing natural
landscapes I always dreamed of existed in Iceland.

There's about five hours of daylight here that doesn't start til
around 11am. It's really been messing with my head. You walk around at
9am and it feels like 9pm. The streets are so quiet I always wonder if
I'm supposed to be out.

Tonight should be interesting for New Years. I'm having dinner with
Ingvar's family and heading out for a long night of bonfires,
fireworks, and celebration. I hope my jet lag works for me rather than
against me.

PS or PU maybe... The hot water is geothermically heated and it smells
like sulphur or rotten eggs. It's like Rotorua in NZ... you're always
wondering who cut one.


Hitting the Sky Again

I had a funtime rolling around in a rented Mustang convertible over the weekend and being treated to movies, brunches, and dinners. I saw a bunch of college friends at my friend Tristan's wedding which was fun but exhausting.

I took a redeye to New York on JetBlue and immediately got grumpy over the scent of makeup or perfume behind me and the sweltering heat of the airplane cabin. I woke up in the middle of the night with a stabbing headache. Sinus trouble? At least the sweet potato chips were delicious.

Landing at JFK completely wiped out, I spent five hours snoozing in a chair at baggage claim. Every twenty minutes, I'd find a different body part had fallen asleep. I was tempted to store my bag in Terminal 4 but I got cheap and lugged it into Brooklyn with me to grab lunch with my friend Brant. I'm glad I escaped the airport (and my grumpiness) for the afternoon. I'm looking forward to being back in NY in two weeks to drool over cute hipsters again.

Oh, it was 65 in Brooklyn today! Warmer than the chill I left in Cali. Off to Iceland now. Hope the rain turns to snow.

Ah Ha

Sending full sized photos solves the problem. San
Francisco's City Hall.

Mobile Blogging

I may try blogging from my iPhone when I hit the road at the end of
the month. So I'll be testing different methods this week. Pictured:
SJ Sharks vs. Edmonton Oilers, zamboni

Update: Well, I can email photos from the phone but they don't display full sized. Guh.

The Year of Living Miserably

Hey folks, I don't know if you've noticed but I've updated my itinerary (to the right) for 2009. I'm off to a brand new country. Looks like Iceland for New Year's Eve! From there, I'll hang out in Manhattan for a week before hopping a bus down to Washington D.C. for President Barrack Obama's inauguration. No, I don't have tickets, but I do have a place to stay.

Afterward, I may be on my way to another new country for three months. This is still in the works so please cross your fingers for me. It'll be an incredible opportunity if it all comes together.

For now, I'll be wandering around California dropping in on friends and family. Have a wonderful and safe holiday. 2009 is the year of CHANGE!

P.S.- If you're doing your holiday shopping at, support me by using:

Autumn Update

Wow, it's been a nutty few months. I had many reasons to worry about my overall well-being for a bit there but things are finally getting sorted out. The lengths I go for stories to tell later in life. Anonymous, guess what, I am still unemployed. But as long as I'm unemployed, there's no reason to stagnate. So I shoved off to the Bay Area in October for my buddy's wedding in San Francisco. It was a great time that continued when much of the same circle of friends traveled to Oahu two weeks later for another wedding. It was an amusing time filled with dancing, eating, diving, surfing, jumping, and sun-burning.

You must try Puka Dog next time you're in Waikiki. Hot dogs with garlic sauce and tropical relish. They've got yummy shave ice as well. I did a great dive with an outfit called Aquazone (tip Erin and John for me if you see 'em, I didn't have any cash on me). We checked out the Kahala Barge wreck and Fantasy Reef. I saw turtles, a shark, octopus, eel, and all sorts of funny lookin' fishies. And finally, I roasted my back in the sun, laying on a surf board for an hour and a half. I just wasn't feelin' the waves and ended up floating around like driftwood. Alas, I will be back Hawaiian waves... you will be surfed.

My friends Dan and Kelly graciously put me up in their guest room in LA while I went to Halloween and election activities. Then I shot back up to the Bay Area again to house-sit and watch my brother's kids while he and his wife were off on a travel adventure of their own. After a few more days of playing Mr. Mom, I've gotta run down to LA for some other wedding activities before the Thanksgiving holiday. Back and forth, forth and back. At least gas prices have come down.

I've got some interesting things in store for 2009. Hopefully, I'll have some more stories to tell.

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Book It

Just finished this book. And if I had a faster internet connection, I'd probably be planning a trip to South America or Africa right now.

A Summer Behind

Summer '08 in review, with YouTube video and links to my summer "soundtrack"...

After returning from my trip to North Carolina, New York, London, Sevilla, and Washington DC in June, I started my mission to hug 500 people for an internet video contest. I worked my way down from San Francisco to San Jose to Los Angeles, approaching complete strangers along Fisherman's Wharf, the Castro, Venice Beach, Hollywood Blvd, and Santa Monica Pier and asking them for a hug on camera. It was a bizarre experience that forced me to communicate with people and sell them on a silly/unusal idea. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to boost my spirits for very long.

I spent most of July house-sitting in Studio City where I fell deeper into a state of malaise and sadness. I scoured the internet for short films and videos that would reinvigorate my passion for filmmaking and maybe spark some of my own creativity. Some of the more interesting bits I posted on, the short film blog I spun off of my production site.

Towards the end of July, Azad and I found ourselves house-sitting a multi-million dollar house right on the Venice Beach strip. We joined friends for an all night art event in Santa Monica called Glow. Our buddy Danny cut together a great video:

Azad and I worked on various videos while taking care of the cats, people watching, and skateboarding around the enormous beach house.

In August I popped up to San Jose to visit friends and family and to figure out my next move. I spent some time with old friends, supporting the downtown art scene and having late night discussions in garages.

After a month of low physical activity and rapidly diminishing spirits, I decided to head off to Yosemite for a hike up to Half Dome on my own. I loaded my ipod with Chinese tunes and audiobooks by the Dalai Lama and Randy Pauch (of "The Last Lecture" fame who had recently passed away). Sa Ding Ding's album lifted me up thousands of feet in elevation on what felt like an epic journey. Later, as I listened to his holiness, the Dalai Lama, discuss pain and suffering, I realized that I was a fool to think I could do a 17 mile hike with no warm up. Staring at the wall for a month had not helped to prepare me for the aching hips and the crippling pain in my knees. The hike took about 13 hours to complete with moments where I wondered whether I could be airlifted from the trail. Upon returning to my brother's house, I found it not only difficult to walk but also to lay in bed. A year of hiking across the planet, across cityscapes, volcanoes, sand dunes, and mountains... To think I was almost beaten by Half Dome. But I made it.

I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, astounded by the spectacle and sheer magnitude. It brought me back to China and seeing Zhang Yimou's amazing show in Yangshuo just last summer. I played with the idea of flying out to China again but restrained myself. I instead ended up back in Los Angeles where I did some more house-sitting in Reseda and watched all three seasons of Veronica Mars. I caught Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl and reminisced about my past in Los Angeles.

And now I'm taking some personal time alone (pardon me if I'm hard to reach for the next few weeks) to get healthy and to sort out some upcoming options. This Fall, I plan to rise.

Music of Summer:
Beirut, Beach House, Sa Ding Ding, Yeasayer, Midlake, The Virgins, Ra Ra Riot

Films of Summer:
Wall-E, Wanted, American Teen, Hellboy II, The Dark Knight, Vicky Christina Barcelona, The Wackness, Elegy, Transsiberian (Ben Kingsley anyone?)

Come Fly with Me

I was chatting with my brother as I walked along the lawn at Capitol Hill yesterday when I just sort of looked around and said, "Dude, I hella travel." Walking through my sixth airport in four days, I thought about all of these crazy flights over the last year. I counted 72 flights since last spring. I always love to list these things, just to boggle my own tired little brain:
Tijuana to Guadalajara
Guadalajara to Mexico City
Mexico City to Havana
Havana to Mexico City
Mexico City to Tijuana
San Francisco to Frankfurt
Frankfurt to Paris
Paris to London
London to Edinburgh
Edinburgh to Dublin
Dublin to Krakow
Prague to Amsterdam
Rotterdam to London
London to Paris
Paris to Zurich
Zurich to Barcelona
Barcelona to Zurich
Zurich to Vienna
Vienna to Moscow
Moscow to Berlin
Berlin to Barcelona
Barcelona to Munich
Munich to Rome
Rome to Zurich
Zurich to Athens
Athens to Cairo
Cairo to Athens
Athens to Corfu
Athens to Munich
Munich to Delhi
Delhi to Bangkok
Bangkok to Narita
Narita to Beijing
Hong Kong to Beijing
Beijing to Bangkok
Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi
Hue to Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh to Bangkok
Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang
Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap
Chiang Mai to Bangkok
Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh to Singapore
Singapore to Sydney
Sydney to Brisbane
Brisbane to Melbourne
Adelaide to Cairns
Sydney to Melbourne
Melbourne to Sydney
Sydney to Wellington
Wellington to Christchurch
Christchurch to Rotorua
Auckland to Honolulu
Honolulu to San Francisco
Los Angeles to Kansas City
Kansas City to West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach to Tampa
Tampa to Los Angeles
San Jose to Atlanta
Atlanta to New Bern
Raleigh to Washington DC
DC to New York
New York to DC
DC to London
London to Sevilla
Sevilla to London
London to DC
DC to Chicago
Chicago to San Jose

Airlines flown: Aegean, AirBerlin, Air New Zealand, All Nippon, Bangkok Airways, British Airways, ClickAir, Delta, DragonAir, EasyJet, JetStar, Lufthansa, Mexicana, Niki, NokAir, Olympic, Pacific Airlines, Pacific Blue, Ryan Air, Singapore Airlines, SkyEurope, Southwest, Swiss Air, Thai Airways, Transavia, United, Virgin Blue, Vietnam Airlines

Let's Get Out of This Country

One Nation

I slipped into Washington DC Sunday night and into the Best Western Dulles. It was a nice room and I was ready to order up a fatty American meal to be delivered from the local pub but they didn't answer their phone. So I ended up snacking on popcorn and a Twix that the plane gave me. It was probably better that I didn't end my late night with potato skins and fried chicken tenders. Even better for my wallet.

Monday morning I got up way too early and rushed out to take a walk around Washington DC. I thought about how I was happier to come back to the US this time around than I was when I returned from the round the world trip. This last month away from home was a little rough mentally but I knew I had to take just a bit more time to get into the right mindset for tackling the next wave of life challenges. I stopped by the White House and grew excited about having a new President next year. I reflected by the reflecting pool. And I ran up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and wiped the sweat off my brow as I snapped a few photos. I was tired. Tired of the pain. Tired of wandering. Tired of wondering.

I couldn't wait to head back to fresh clothes and the comfort of the familiar. But as I sat around Dulles Airport contemplating life, I noticed my flight gradually becoming more delayed over the course of a few minutes. Thankfully, I took this as a sign to have a word with the ticket counter. As a thunder storm filled the sky, making the planes outside seemingly disappear, the line of people behind me grew to about fifty people.

Thankfully, the storm passed in an hour and I was on my way to Chicago where I had to sprint across two airport terminals to catch my flight to San Jose. But now I'm back, my head screwed up from four time zones in four days. I have hope.


Sun to Rain to Sun Again

To recover from our Friday night of flamenco and pitchers at La Carboneria, my friends and I hopped a bus out of Sevilla to the beach in Huelva . We wandered around a bit, stopping by a beachfront cafe where we were witness to a chubby boy showering and peeing in public at what we believed to be too old an age. To 'cleanse' my brain of those images, we sat on the beach a bit and I tried not to stare at topless sunbathers. I guess it wasn't really staring as it was just having my eyes open. We'd somehow selected a spot with boobs in every direction.

Our last day in Spain was spent trying to stay out of the 100 degree heat. While Dan and Yasmin explored La Giralda, I took refuge in the shade, scribbling project notes into my notebook, listening to the chatter of backpackers, and watching the brides, tourists, gypsies, and pretty girls walk by.

I never did have my glass of tinto de verano but I was happy to fulfill cravings of tortilla Espana, horchata, and iberica. After munching on the last of many bocadillo sandwiches, it was off to England where we met 45 degree temperatures and rainy skies. Early the next morning, London bid me farewell with a sunnier day. The only 'cloud' was an hour sitting on the plane as we waited for Air Force One to land at Heathrow. The Americans groaned when we heard President Bush was the one keeping us from going home to Washington DC.

Holiday Road

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Sunny Spain

Sevilla is beautiful but my brain can´t really focus on anything other than how I´m going to scramble to pay the bills when I get back. Hence my huge drive to get people to Digg my video contest entry. Big thanks to everyone who´s taken the time to support.

Good news is, I´ve already won a smaller prize. Hopefully, I´ll take the Digg prize and deal with some summer bills.

Bed time here in Spain though. Miss you.


Another Detour

My friends Dan and Yasmin needed a little holiday so we're going to visit one of my favorite cities in Spain: Seville. We're catching a plane in a couple of hours but I wanted to give you a sneak peek at another quick project I cut tonight for a Tic Tac contest.

Don't forget to Digg my other video per the instructions below!



Oh man, I'm watching this WWDC 2008 Keynote... how could you not want an iPhone? Doesn't Apple know I don't have any money?

I created a video for the contest. The video with the most "diggs" wins a prize. Here is how you can help...

UPDATE: Some dude beat me by 12 Diggs.


Hot Town Summer in the City

I spent my weekend in places like St. Albans, Clapham, Croydon, Greenwich, and get this "London". I'm definitely not in East San Jo. It was a hot day in London yesterday as I roamed the city, working on a project. That's right, I'm working on projects! You don't know how important that is for me right now. I went from Tower Bridge to Big Ben to the London Eye to Buckingham/St James Park to the National Gallery to the Natural History to the Victoria & Albert to the British Museum to Greenwich... and boy is my Oyster Card tired. (that's a London tube joke- I can make bad inside jokes internationally, that's how talented I am)

An exciting part was seeing my girls Carlien, Steph, and Amy. Weird not being in Thailand or Oz with them. I have to finish my project right now and then it's back off to London for the night. Later this week, maybe I'll chime in from another favorite spot of mine on the big ole planet.

Then it's home again! Homecoming (mp3)


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Location: United States A 29 yr old filmmaker from California traveled through Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia/NZ over ten months from April 2007 to March 2008.

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    April 6:
    April 30:
    Czech Republic
    June 3:
    June 20:
    June 22:
    June 27:
    June 30:
    July 22:
    August 9:
    August 27:
    September 10:
    October 3:
    October 30:
    December 3:

    January 23:
    New Zealand
    February 26:
    March 1:
    Florida, North Carolina,
    New York, England, Spain

    December 29:
    January 9:
    New York City
    January 17:
    Washington D.C.
    February 18:
    March 18-23:
    New Orleans