World travel videos, photos, and blog.

Ha Ha!

I'm hanging out in a place on the northwest of the south island (huh?) called Nelson. Clean air, sunny days, very nice. Tomorrow I'll jump in a kayak to explore the coast of Abel Tasman National Park. Should be good.

Leaving Kaikoura, New Zealand's landscape reminded me of California. Similar colors. Oh, there was this suburban area of Christchurch that looked like the meaner streets of San Jose with less cars. (And the crowd is more Pac Islander than Mexican/Vietnamese, too) So it feels a lot like home except the shops close at 5:30pm (argh) and the weather's actually warm right now.


Dusky Dolphin Swim

After spending a brief day in Christchurch, I headed to the coastal town of Kaikoura on the south island of New Zealand. We had the choice between spotting sperm whales or swimming with wild dusky dolphins in the ocean. Feeling a bit hungary for physical activity, I decided to jump into the sea with flipper. Everyone needs a little porpoise in their life, right?

It was an expensive trip ($145NZD gets you a wet suit, snorkel gear, boat charter, and all the hot chocolate & cookies you want after your swim) and I was a little skeptical of what we'd actually find out there. A 25 minute ride took us to a spot where we slid into the water and tried to "entertain" the dolphins into coming to us. You do this my making as much noise as you can (I did a lot of "mooing"), making eye contact with the dolphins, and swimming in circles.

The moment the first dolphin appeared under me, I freaked out with excitement. I circled around and around mooing, squealing, and gasping as I tried to follow it. As soon as the dolphins swim away, we race back to the boat to find another group. And what a group it was. Our guide estimated that there were at least 300 dolphins out and about. The curious little guys were jumping out of the water, swimming under and around us, and appearing to have a grand ole time watching us humans flailing in the water. It was beautiful. As tempting as it was, I resisted the urge to grab on to one for a ride.

On the way back to shore I caught a glimpse of the large albatross that inhabit the area. Their wing spans were as large as the dolphins below. After a much deserved nap in the late afternoon, I woke up to a steak dinner that Amy and Carlien had cooked up. Not a bad day at all and what a nice start to my south island adventuring. Next stop, Nelson.

(the photo above is of a sperm whale's tail taken by the girls on their whale watching trip)



Woke up this morning and took another walk along the water, up through Lambton Quay and the downtown Wellington area to see this beehive looking building next to parliament. Around town, there are numerous public sculptures. I dig it. Wellington sort of reminds me of Toronto maybe. I went along the Terrace back to the hostel to find myself rushing to the bus to catch my flight to Christchurch. When I got to the airport in the knick of time, it was announced 15 minutes later that my flight had been delayed by 3 hours! I hate that. If I knew I had that much time I would have taken the cable car up the hill and grabbed lunch. Pacific Blue did provide a $6 (not enough for a drink with my Chicken & Brie sandwich) meal voucher to appease us.

I dropped $2 on Global Gossip internet before I realized that the airport has free (but really slow and weak) wifi. I've snuck into the conference area though and the signal's strong enough for me to bore you with these fine words while I kill time. Wish my phone worked. Maybe someone's online...

I forgot how rubbish I am about taking photos when I'm traveling alone. People told me to take a lot of pictures and aside from Asia, I really didn't take enough photos. I've learned that you never regret taking too many photos, especially when you haven't kept a detailed journal. Argh.


Taking It Easy

I brushed up on some New Zealand history at the Te Papa museum in town before taking a walk around town a bit. I really want to find a kiwi, suckers are cute as koalas. Wellington is pretty laid back and the people seem really chilled out. I'm diggin' it. I wasn't able to escape my head just yet and stopped to sit by the water and reflect on my travels a bit. Then this randomly burped out of my head:

The Quay

I saw you walking
With your tank top, ready to pop
Towards the harbor in
Your tight jeans
Long hair tied back
In a pony tail.
I was ready to hail
You down, thinkin'
Man, she's hot.
Then I thought not
Because you lit up.
Made me want to throw up
My hands to say, stop!
You're far too lovely
To let those cigs scrap thee.

Lots of time on my hands as you can see. After another nap, I woke up and checked out Charlie Wilson's War starring Tom Hanks. Good flick. Took me away for a little while before I returned to the hostel and slapped this together. Yes, it's been a silly weird day in my brain.

NOTE TO MOM: Dear Mother, I've shipped a box of clothes and books to your home. Just toss it onto the pile of other things cluttering up my old room. Thanks!

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Keep Moving Forward

I was just browsing a couple of old posts from Spain. It's freaking me out. Did I really go there? Did I really make eye contact with that girl? Did I savor the horchata as I trudged up the hill to Park Guell? Thank God for the places I've been able to see and the experiences I've had. I hope I can remember them again!

Azad's off to Spain and Germany. My buddies from Koln are getting together again. Anyone want to give me $3k to send me to Carnival? Just kidding, I've got some mountains to climb and stuff here.

My brother told me to get out of my head and to enjoy my trip. I'm trying, I'm trying but the last nine months, this upcoming month... I'm going to explode!

Why can't you all be here with me?


New Zzzzzz

I arrived safely in New Zealand today, Wellington to be precise. I haven't really been sleeping well the last few nights... inner turmoil and the whatnot. So when I got here, I sorted through my things and napped the rest of the afternoon. Seems a bit chilly outside and wasn't the best time to discover that I'd left one of my favorite fleece jackets on the plane. (You know, the black American Apparel zip jogger that I always used to wear. Bum deal.) Looks like I may have to shop for some sort of Kiwi jumper tomorrow.

I'm going out for a stroll. I hate going to sleep with turmoil and waking up with turmoil. It's giving me indigestion. What's eating you, Tony? Life, sunny Jim, life. A good walk to sweat it out perhaps.

I'll try to bring you some photos from around town tomorrow. Checking out the history museum and maybe taking one of the nice walks up the hill for some fresh air and fresh thoughts.


Weary Chest

I've been in touch with some of you out there. It always surprises me to find out that people are still reading this blog. A bunch of you have pointed out that I've become a bit different over the last month. "Dazed" "Down" "In a rut"

I'm heading into the final month of travel and it's making my head and chest convulse with confusion. Eight months of travel seem to sneak up to you and pose a slew of questions about what I've learned. The future is waving to me from down the block. It's beckoning me to make decisions and to choose the next path. Debt is piggy-backing and whispering sour-nothings into my ears.

Then there's the romance. Ah what I live and die for.

New Zealand tomorrow folks. One last month and then it's back to your lives and our reality.


Meat and Wine

"300g Prime cut Australian Angus fillet grilled to order with special in-house basting. Served on a bed of wilted spinach, Forrestiere potatoes, mushroom confit and cafe au lait sauce. Drizzled with truffle oil."

Served up with a glass of 2005 Kumkani Pinotage from South Africa, the above was one of the best meals I've had in nine months. I have to thank my cousins for taking me out to the Meat and Wine Co. in Parramatta last night. It's nearly lunch the next day and I'm still full. I'd also like to say a huge thanks to the whole family here in Sydney for taking me in and making my stay here so comfortable.

** Above is a photo of a couple of my cousins and me on top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge about a month ago. I finally got it scanned in.

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Schnitzel Challenge!

Big thanks to my buddy Cal in Sydney for treating me to a "Schnitzel Challenge" lunch yesterday at a Bavarian joint near Martin Place. That was way too much food for one afternoon. You're lucky you didn't catch a rocky ferry boat after that. It was good to see you and hopefully we'll meet up again in some other faraway country.

I spent the rest of my day strolling around Bondi and hanging out with the girls on their last night in Sydney. It would have been a wonderful day if I had kept my mouth shut but sometimes you get a lot of thinking done wandering around a strange city at 3am. Other times you just get tired.

I woke up horribly miserable today and decided to find distraction at the cinema. I caught Juno which I hear got a few Oscar noms. Not the best choice for my mood I must say. I left a bit more frazzled than I was before. So much so that I practically ran away from a girl with lovely green eyes who started to chat me up because I reminded her of "one of her mates". Hm. Oh well. I'll be hanging around Sydney the rest of the week trying to figure out how to tackle the final country on this incredible world voyage. I make my way to New Zealand on Sunday morning.

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Oh No

I think I could get hooked on surfing. I had my first opportunity to learn how to surf the other day at Arrawarra Beach, north of Sydney. Once you get up on that board and ride a wave for a few seconds, it's addicting. I easily got lost in the experience of spotting the wave, flipping that board around, and trying to hop up and let it take you as far as your balance can manage. Afterwards, I was really looking forward to my last stop in Hawaii (maybe I'll find some waves in NZ as well).

It'd been an exhausting few days with a dive, another hike to the Byron lighthouse, surf camp (and afterparty), then a miserable six hour bus ride back to Sydney. It's time to say goodbye to the girls once again and after hanging with them for a few months, it's getting a bit more difficult.

I'm looking forward to seeing my family in Sydney again. It's been more than a month since I left and whirled around the rainy eastern side of Australia. I have to say it hasn't been the most pleasant time of my travels but there were amazing moments that I will not forget.


Dive and Surf

Had a fun afternoon diving in Byron Bay, spotting sharks, turtles, rays, and mermaids (ok, not mermaids). Heading towards Sydney for Surf Camp today. Full report later!


Ticking Think Bomb

I've been in ultra-pensive mode over the last few days. As some of you know, I can be really annoying to be around in that mode. Steph often asks, "Are you alright?" and Carlien tries to break my brood by physically forcing my mouth into a smile. Not good. When you confront a thinker's mood, it's like pointing out an amputated limb. Just don't do it, it's obvious something isn't as it was but the amputee will sort it out, no need for you to remind him. I can't help it. It's what I do. I think. Over-think even.

Australia is a pricey place coming off of Asia. Accommodations here run around $25-$35 per night in high season (now). Throw in the cost of food and the bank account starts sweating profusely. On top of that are the costs of 'experiences'. I missed my opportunity to dive the Great Barrier reef which is a shame but diving with boat charter and equipment can run close to $100/dive. I had dental work done in Thailand for less than that!

You start to fall into the "once in a lifetime" debate. This is where you say "when am I ever going to have a chance to do this again?" Or you think, when I'm sitting back home with a mortgage over my head, stuck in traffic, on the way to 40hr/wk grind, am I going to say, "Boy, I wish I hadn't spent that $150 to sail the Whitsundays in Australia because I could really use the cash right now for my latte and a new DVD." It's a tough call because you know the deeper in debt you plunge yourself into now, the bigger the struggle you'll face getting back on your feet back home. I've spoken to a few people who've done their round the world trips and they returned with $30,000+ debts... but they have no regrets other than they'd wished they had more time. Debts get repaid. Or you die. Either way, why worry so much?

I think I mentioned the Oz Experience before. It's this hop on, hop off budget bus tour that takes backpackers around Australia. I signed up for it to do a little more traveling with Steph and Carlien who were already booked on it when I met up with them in Cairns. Unfortunately, I haven't really enjoyed it all that much. After 8 months of backpacking, I'm pretty much over that scene. These buses drop you off in beach towns and try to push you into raucous bars where you're to drink 'til you do something stupid. The last couple of nights, I've found myself in a joint called Cheeky Monkeys. The first night we were greeted by a girl at the door who nodded to us, "you're staying at -blank- backpackers right?" We weren't but agreed anyway to obtain free entry. Later in the night, the wrist band we had entitled us to a free drink. Whatever. I had resigned myself to observing the scene soberly. I would do a sociological study of sorts, maybe gather some reconnaissance for future fiction.

I watched as girls and guys stripped down to their underwear (and less) to win prizes. Four sober college years kept me out of this sort of environment so I'd missed all of this type of silliness. It's a bit fascinating, kind of amusing, and a little bit depressing. As the night went on, I watched the inebriation before my eyes. For some, it was gradual, for others, much too fast. If you paid close enough attention, you could watch little dramas unfold as the boys and girls fraternized or fought. By the late hours of the night, I was a bit caught up in my own little mental soap opera and had to flee the scene.

Yesterday, I was irritable and tired of laying around (which is a big part of the backpacker "morning after"). I decided to have myself a bit of a hike up to the Byron Bay lighthouse. With an old 'On-the-Go' playlist blasting Radiohead, Ray LaMontagne, and Sigur Ros into my ears, I sweated my way to the "Most Easterly Point in Australia" before reaching the towering beacon on the hill. It was invigorating. For a few moments I forgot about the garbage below and remembered that I am enjoying freedom and beauty. I took a deep breath and looked at the crashing coastlines in the distance. And for a moment, I stopped thinking.

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Life's a Beach

"Everything's fun and game."

Thank you Uncle Kim for keeping me away from employment for a few more weeks!

Yeah! Go ME!


Byron Bay

Leaving Brisbane today, off to Byron Bay for the week.


Greek in Oz. Thanks Jim!

I spent the afternoon shootin' the breeze with Jordan and the girls around Southbank in Brisbane. We stopped into Kapsali's where I took a break from pasta and sandwiches to have a huge serving of Greek moussaka. Huge thanks to Jim for picking up the tab. Without you I may have spent another evening eating Kangaroo bolognese, not that there's anything wrong with that (it's tastier than you think!)

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Cinema Brisbane

It was pretty warm and sunny in Brisbane on Monday. I should have been at the beach. Instead, I took in a double feature of the Darjeeling Limited and No Country for Old Men (note: I think you should see these films and skip reading this blog entry). Wes Andersen and the Cohen Bros. in one afternoon. Woof. Watching these guys' creations, I wonder why I ever think I could make films myself. (Alas, I remember that I haven't tried yet)

I felt a little damaged by art after taking in the films. I was wandering along just getting my head together in the oddly familiar city of Brisbane. After I exited the cinema, my head was full of thoughts and emotions. I felt tired. A film is basically the integral parts of a character's journey through a lapse of time. The film itself is usually about two hours. You can get pretty caught up with the characters and feel a bit like you've been along with them in that time.

After 254 days of travel, 74 cities, and 21 countries I'm already a bit exhausted. So I guess good films with amazing journeys take me a bit further.

I've been having a few days lately that are like a bad film. That is, I don't know where the characters are going, I'm growing bored with the shoddy dialogue, and I almost give up on caring where things will end. I'm just waiting to get out of the theater and get back on with my day. Yes, there are definitely problems in the third act. Heck, I don't even know what act I'm in really.

There's still a chance to bring it all back together for a great ending... I hope. And then what? A sequel perhaps? Who's tired of this analogy? I am.

I'm meeting up with my buddy Jordan and maybe getting together with a friend of Mateja's. Then it's off to Byron Bay, another beach town. Soon, I'll be back in Sydney and then it's goodbye to land of Oz.

Getting on the internet here is a bit difficult and expensive so I'm not sure when I'll get to post again. Go check out the latest photo blog at Life Goes on in Tehran!


Subway, Eat Cheapish

Alex! It was crazy running into you at the airport in Saigon. I think you're the first person from home I've randomly run into on my travels. I think that's awesome. It's great to see people escape the States for a bit.

Australia's been wonderful but it's painfully expensive. I've been having many 'backpacker' meals of pasta cooked in youth hostel kitchens and during the day, my lunches are usually Subway sandwiches. It seems like there's a Subway shop here every two blocks. I've been eating so many of them, I feel like the Jared** of Australia. Except I don't need to lose any of my weight.

Anyway, thank you for funding my six-inch turkey on wheats. Hope you have many more trips abroad in the new year!

**He was/is the American spokesperson for Subway in the US... he'd lost something like 100 pounds on a diet of Subway sandwiches for a year.

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Kangaroo? Delicious!

I'd made my way quickly through the beach towns of Rainbow Beach and Noosa on the Oz Experience bus. I met quite a few solo travelers along the way. Some with no intention of returning home. Don't worry, I don't share the same desire. I found my way back into Brisbane and another torrential downpour on Sunday. But the rain didn't last long and I was welcomed back to Jeihan's house with a dinner of roast kangaroo and veggies. The roo was tender and tasty, definitely a fine introduction to kangaroo meat (I'm not counting the teriyaki jerky I got for Christmas).

We ended the night with a Christmas pudding lit on fire with brandy and extinguished with vanilla custard. If the weather holds up, I may do some Gold Coast exploring this week but it looks like more rain.

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Another Grey Sky

After a quiet night in Airlie Beach, the Oz bus took us to Kroombit cattle station. The evening's activities included learning how to use a whip, mechanical bull riding, and a number of party games which brought us a bit too up close and personal with each other. By 7am the next morning, I was on horseback, riding out to muster up goats. My horse, "Buffy", wasn't the liveliest of horses and didn't seem as groomed as I fantasize all horses should be groomed. (Carol and John's horses on the other hand...)

It was pretty amusing to round up goats for a bit, shouting "hey opp opp opp!" After we'd put them back in their pen, the group got together for a goat rodeo where we tried our hand at roping and branding (with a cold brand).

Later in the day we were dropped off in Hervey Bay where we found out that another cyclone was in the area of Fraser Island where I was supposed to be on a 4x4 Safari drive and camping trip. Needless to say, that was canceled and here I am in the Palace hostel waiting to take off to Rainbow beach tomorrow afternoon.

I bought a hat at Target. As I was at the register, I realized that the shorts, underwear, and t-shirt that I was wearing were all bought at Target. Gotta love

300th post... so what.


Happy 2008!

Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year celebration. I spent the last couple of days on a boat and I'm happy to be on dry land again. UPDATED...

It was a little too expensive to get back to Sydney in time for New Year's Eve celebrations. My Oz Experience tour had me around Airlie Beach for the holiday but Airlie is reputed to be the party capital of the East Coast. When I'd asked tour guides what their impressions of the place were they'd all said it was a place for drunkenness, sex, and drunkenness. Not really what I had in mind. Fortunately/unfortunately there wasn't a single room available for NYE in town. Instead, I ended up on a sail boat for three days.

I think there were 18 passengers and three crew members on the ship which was tinier than I imagined for such a big group. There was no private quarters and for two of the days, only one tiny bathroom compartment. The rocking of the boat meant staying downstairs was a quick way to get seasick. Just about everyone hung out on deck.

The funny thing about the first day is everyone's eagerness to sunbathe. The antipodean sunshine is said to have no ozone protection. Its evil rays cook you to a nice red pretty quickly. I did my best to slap the 75spf on my face and spray a 30 on my body but our days were filled with napping on deck, strolling along white beaches, snorkeling, and hiking through rainforests. Sun burn was inevitable and by day two, the sting of red skin had everyone hurdled under sanctuary of shade as much as we could manage.

After the recent storms, the diving visibility was horrible, wiping out any reason to pay extra for scuba. We did get in some nice snorkeling. Because of the jellyfish present in the water, we had to wear 'stinger suits' including a hood. As silly as it may have looked, I appreciated the protection from the sun and the fantasy of being suited up for some sort of special forces work. I think I'm more afraid of being stung by a jellyfish than running into a shark. I had a nice moment running into a sea turtle who was devouring a jellyfish in front of me. If I could have shook his fin, I would have. The turtles are the only natural predators of these jelly menaces.

For New Year's Eve, we were dropped off on Half Moll Island to join other sailing boys and girls for the festivities. The fireworks weren't nearly as grandiose as Sydney's show, I'm sure, but a couple of people did have sparklers. Shortly after the stroke of midnight, we shuffled back to the jetty and back to our boat before a night storm brought down the first rain of the New Year.


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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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