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Kirk's South East Asia Adventure

a travel blog by Kirk

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

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Rainy Days

El Nido, Philippines

Ok So it's been a couple of days since I last posted. that's because I just got back to Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan from El Nido. I met up with my friends Angela and Samantha in Puerto Princesa and we took a 6 1/2 hour bus ride to the small coast town of El Nido.

After traveling all day to El Nido we arrived at night time when it was dark. So we really couldn't see much of the place. We took a tricylce, which are riding carts attached to motorcycles in to town and proceeded to try to find a place to stay. The tricycle rider seemed like he was helping us out going into various hotels with us and speaking in Tagalog for us inquiring about rooms. It wasn't until a little later that we realized that he was speaking to them so that they would charge us more and he would get a cut. We only discovered this after Angela went into a place Samantha, the tricycle driver, and I had just gone in and the price she was quoted for a room for us to share was 900 pesos, about $25, as opposed to 1300, about $33, we were quoted when with the driver.

We took the 900 pesos room, and were happy to have that taken care of. Our room was right on the beach and was beautiful. When we walked into the room though Sam in a flurry of fast movement slammed her foot down to kill one of the biggest cockroaches I've seen yet. These are pretty common in tropical places. It still scared the crap out of me. Sam assured us that they traveled alone, were lone creatures, there wasn't any more, many other lies to ease Angela and my fears. Sam then went to pick up the body only to find it was still alive and she squashed it again. We all screamed.

We were right on the beach but couldn't see what any of the scenery looked like, because it was so dark. El Nido is a town of maybe 4,000 people, so it's very tiny, not tons of lights. It also has brown outs every day where the electricity is off from 6am-2pm, and the internet isn't great hence the late blog post.

We ventured out that night and went to a beach bar right near by and ended up making friends with the live band singers, and a guy from the UK who was days away from opening a dive shop there in El Nido. We followed these guys to one of the oldest bars in the city and enjoyed the company and live music.

For being such a small town it's crazy how much live music they have. it was awesome. I think there's a huge percentage of the population that performs music.

After calling it a night, at 3AM (have no idea how time got away from us), we went back to the room to find another huge 'friend' waiting for us and for Samantha to squash again. That quite dispelled the lies of them being lone creatures lol. Every time I went to the bathroom that first night I was scared I was going to run into another one.

The room we stayed in didn't let much light in so we didn't know what time it was, and ended up getting up around 9:30 am and were amazed

at the scenery from are hotel. The view of the bay we were in was breath taking.

Now it's the rainy season right now while I'm traveling which in most places means it rains for maybe 90 minutes a day and then it's clear and sunny. Not so in El Nido. The clouds of rain roll in unpredictably any time of day, but the fog rolling over some of the limestone cliffs was something to behold.

That first day we went to breakfast and then ended up going to a beach near by where there was a resort called Las Cabanas. The beach it was in was beautiful

and had clear waters you could swim, and if we had brought gear, snorkel and see the beauty of the depths beneath. At one point we got caught in a rainstorm so we went into one of the restaurants of the near by resorts and spoke for a while with other people waiting out the rain and the hotel manager.

The day was nice and ended with us again going to a beach bar then turning in early for the night.

The second day we woke up early and walked around bargaining to get the best price we could for an island hopping tour. There are so many breath taking islands off the coast there that it is one thing you have to do when you are in El Nido. We ended up getting the tour we wanted for 900 pesos, about $21, and it included are snorkel gear and lunch. We had to bargain in the snorkel gear to get included, but it's easier to do right now while there isn't much tourists.

As we went out to the first island we went through quite a heavy

rainfall, but fortune smiled on us and for most of the trip the sun made it's appearances and we were able to enjoy the beautiful islands, limestone cliffs, and the
crystal clear waters.

At night we went out again and made friends with a group of local dive instructors. The people in Philippines, and especially El Nido have been some of the most friendliest, fun people I've met all trip. No one seems to have a guard up or large egos. They're just nice, fun loving people.

It's a good thing we went island hopping the day we did, because the next day, our last, ended up raining all day long. We went to try to go swimming at Las Cabanas beach and ended up being stuck in the same restaurant reading all day long.

Even with the rain the trip was amazing. Also one good thing, in El Nido they had a gas station that let me do a cash advance charging my credit card so I was able to access some cash, which you all know has been an issue on this trip. Hopefully I will resolve that soon.

The trip was amazing, and the company was wonderful. Right now I'm in Puerto Princesa for a few more days. I'm going to go to take a tour of an underground river here tomorrow, which is one of the new 7 wonders of the world, so that should be exciting. Things in my travels are good right now, because I have some cash to work with. I'm still trying to figure out ways to access my checking account until I get my ATM card but baby steps. Sorry for such a long time in between posts. I will be better while I have access to internet. Hope all is well with everyone.

permalink written by  Kirk on September 12, 2012 from El Nido, Philippines
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Friendly Encounters

Cebu City, Philippines

So when last we left off I was in Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan in the Philippines.

On my last couple days there I took care of extending my visa, because I'm here a about 5 days over the 21 days they give you when you fly in. I then booked a trip to the Underground River. Which was a blast, but also required patience.

The trip was 2 hours of diving to get to the first stop of the tour. There we ate a wonderful buffet lunch while we waited for our boat to be ready which would take us to the area we would take a boat tour of the underground river. They only allow 700 people in a day, and I believe it's supposed

to be allotted time slots, but with coordinating boat ferries to the location and then boat trips through the river once you are there you end up with having to learn to be patient and appreciate the beauty around you.

Luckily I made some friends with a family on my trip. Their kindness

really made the trip. They were so friendly and spilled with positivity. In fact I was amazed they told me this story that last month, August their house in Manilla was in a flash flood, and they were having to live on the 2nd floor of their house for over a week eating only what they had. It ruined their downstairs and they lost their car. Were they angry or bitter, absolutely not. They are building a new house in an area not in a flood zone, and they seemed to live in happiness and acceptance about the situation. It gives me something to strive for. I want to be able to still bring positive energy to this world and accept the stuff I can't control. We're now facebook friends so you know that it's officially a real friendship
now :D, but really if they hadn't been there the trip would still have been neat, but not nearly as fulfilling as it ended up being.

I was also told that Filipinos love the mall, and when we got back to Puerto Princesa city from the trip I found out why. I went there and watched a movie, and it was heavenly. When you're in a developing area especially in the tropics it's like having a little bit of luxury to go to a nice, clean, air conditioned place and just relax. I went to a movie. The only American one that was playing was Resident Evil: Retribution. There was terrible acting, but whatever it was nice to have popcorn, drink a soda, and watch a movie. And the movie was cheap. It was in 3D and cost about $5.

I then flew out to Cebu. Once landing in Cebu I used the jeepneys to get to get to a bed and breakfast I had found online. I was actually pretty proud of myself for figuring the jeepneys out. You basically jump on these trucks with benches in the back and pack yourself in until you reach different stops. I had to take 2 to get to SM City, a big mall in Cebu, which was a block away from my hostel.

It was nice having the mall near by, because most of the stores take credit cards, which was great, because I still don't have an ATM card, but I did receive my pin to my credit card so I can now pull out cash. It's more expensive, but at least I have options now.

Today I went to the mall and got Siopao, a steamed bun with sweet meat inside, for breakfast and then tried going to church. It was a Tagalog mass when I went. I still stayed for a little and then

walked down to this area that was home to Fort San Pedro which is a military defense structure that was built by the Spanish during there occupation in the Philippines. it now has beautiful courtyards overflowing with flowers and trees.

While there I met a South Korean guy named James whose in Cebu studying English at an international school. He was so friendly and nice and had an infectious laugh. We went around to see Magellan's Cross, Balisca Minore Del Santo Nino (one of the holiest of churches built in 1565, burned down 3 times and then rebuilt in 1737), and then we

managed our way on jeepneys to go to see a Toaist temple located in a swanky rich neighborhood of Cebu. After running around seeing sights all day James and I made it back to SM City mall and had dinner. He has to do school work all this week, but next weekend we'll probably meet up and hang out again.

I feel so blessed to have met so many amazing people on this trip. I've definitely had a rough start, but have no reason to complain about anything. Ultimately I'm blessed to be able to be on this trip, and blessed to be able to learn whatever lessons come my way.

If anyone wants to view my pictures from Palawan here's the link:

And from Cebu so far:

permalink written by  Kirk on September 16, 2012 from Cebu City, Philippines
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Slowing Down

Cebu City, Philippines

This blog entry will be a short one. I don't have tons to report. I've been in Cebu for a couple of days now. I found a cheap hostel that is relatively clean and near one of the malls to stay in. The hostel is fine, except that theirs been a group of people the last couple nights that come in and are really loud for quite a while.

The way it is set up is that on each floor there's a lobby you first step into which has TV's, computers, etc. This is where people are supposed to hang out, and then they have all the rooms in the back with signs posted to be silent when in the room areas. That doesn't happen, but oh well it's cheap so my wallets happy, and the bathrooms aren't completely disgusting so that's even better.

For the last couple days I've been planning to take a bus trip to Oslob at 3am so that I can get there at 6 and go snorkeling with these whale sharks. The last couple nights the alarm has went off and I've shut it off without thinking about it. Tonight no trying to sleep early. I'm just waiting up, going to shower around 1:30, then take a taxi to the bus stop and jump on a bus. Come hell or high water I'm snorkeling with those beasts. So I should have some fun pics to put up tomorrow.

I haven't really moved on from Cebu to other places, because I've been comfortable, and they have 12 step meetings here, which I've been lacking in most of the places I get to. I find if I don't got to meetings enough I start getting too focused on my own shit, and then I miss the important stuff. So I've been enjoying the slow pace.

I've been doing some free lance work I was lucky enough to get, drinking coffee, going to meetings, and watching movies. It's been nice.

I should also inform you all of some other developments. As you all know the start to this trip was very rocky. It's been a struggle being able to get cash, which has left me in some moments crying, and worrying weather I would be able to eat or have a place to stay, it's not a really credit card friendly place.

Also while having some amazing experiences I've had some moments of real homesickness and loneliness at times too. After praying and thinking about things a lot I decided I wanted to be back in Hawaii for Thanksgiving. I decided to check with my travel agent to see how much it would cost to change my return flight from December to November. I've also been a little worried about keeping the budget I set out for myself.

When calling my agent they advised me to check with the airline directly, because it would be cheaper. I tried calling 2 times, and had bad reception. I then started to wonder if that was God telling me not change my flight. So I called one last time, and told myself if the reception was bad and I couldn't get through or the cost was too much then that would be my sign not to, but the call went through crystal clear, and I found out it was free to change my flight the first time.

So as of now I will be going back to Hawaii November 19. I feel good about it. I'm still going to accomplish everything I wanted to on this trip. I'm still going to Bali in November, and seeing the Naga Fireballs festival in October in Thailand. I also will be able to have a little bit of a nicer budget, because I have a little bit of a buffer now. It's something I feel good about and am at peace with.

This trip is by far amazing, and a huge growing experience for me. I continue to find truths about myself, and strengths I didn't know I had. I believe through this I've been able to be at a place where I could really slow down, think about, and process how I handle life, and evaluate areas I want to be different, and find ways to strive for that difference. It's so easy to rush through life without giving thought to the negatives and positives of our personalities. It's been really eye opening to be able to take this time to learn about me.

permalink written by  Kirk on September 19, 2012 from Cebu City, Philippines
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Gentle Giants

Oslob, Philippines

Alright so I stayed true to my word. I stayed up last night and showered around 1:30 in the morning and was headed to the bus terminal in Cebu at 2:15 to catch a 3 am bus to Oslob to swim with the whale sharks. On the bus ride over I thought I would sleep, but I was just too excited.

Oh and get this. If you remember the last post I told you that the hostel I'm staying at has some guests that were really loud at night. Well of course last night they weren't there. Would've been a perfect night to sleep at the hostel. lol.

Any who. I read my nook, and we when I made it to Oslob as the sun was starting to rise on the Ocean. I could see the red splash of it's tip reflecting off the water.

The bus actually dropped me off about 9 km short of where I needed to be so I hired a guy to drive me on his moped and enjoyed a cup of

coffee at the whale watching resort before the snorkeling at 6am.

The weather was nice and the day was beautiful. The process was really quick they boated me in a catamaran down the beach where I paid my fees and got briefed on how to act while in the water with the whale

sharks. Then my drivers paddled me out about half a football field length off shore where another catamaran captain was throwing shrimp pieces in the water for the whale sharks. As we passed over one I could see it was huge.

I know they're harmless, but there is still something about a huge fish in

the water that made me hesitant, but I pulled off my shirt and got in. Once in I was amazed at how beautiful they were, and really cute kind of.

They're faces reminded me of something I would see as a Japanese anime character. It was amazing to be in the water with them for

30 minutes. I'd be watching one and then another one would swim right under me or on the side of me. It was such an unbelievable experience I wish I could share it with everyone. To see these huge gentle creatures so close just struck me such a realization that I was having a once in a lifetime moment.

I have tons of pictures on the following Facebook album:

After completing my mission I jumped back on a bus to Cebu. Still my nerves kept me awake not being able to shake the amazing morning I had just had. I probably slept maybe an hour on the bus ride back, and then I came straight to the hostel and passed out.

I have no idea if I'll ever experience something like that again, but I'm so grateful to have been able to have had this moment in my life.

That was really the big highlight of my day. Stayed tuned for more of my adventures.

permalink written by  Kirk on September 20, 2012 from Oslob, Philippines
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Dichotmoy Speaking

Dumaguete, Philippines

When I last left you I was in Cebu. I stayed in Cebu until yesterday, monday, where I traveled down to Dumaguete, which is on the next island over from Cebu called Negros.

While in Cebu I traveled one day with, James, my friend from South Korea to Lapu Lapu City to see the shrine of Lapu Lapu.

Lapu Lapu was the person who lead the Filipino's in a rebellion against Magellan, which Magellan was killed in. The
Shrine itself is nice, but the grounds it was on was very small for traveling about an hour to get there, but it was still really nice to hang out with James.

Dumaguete is called the 'Town of Gentle People.' So far it's lived up to it's name.

I belong to this online group called CouchSurfers.org. It's an online community where people let people traveling come stay with them at there houses all to be be able to form friendships with kindred spirits. When you log on you can send requests to stay with people, and are allowed to see their profiles and read what others who have stayed with them have said. I haven't actually stayed at anyone's place yet from there, but decided to get over my fears and reach out and try to meet people.

I made contact with a girl, and met up with her when I got to Dumaguete. Her name is Circee and she is so sweet. Unfortunately she lives a little far out, and with the weather being rainy right now it's

not the easiest to get to and from her place, so I got a room at this awesome hostel called Harold's mansion, and her and I hung out all night with another guy from Japan, named Shuto that she had met from CouchSurfers as well. It was so nice to arrive somewhere and immediately meet and become friends with people. Hopefully I'll be able to replicate such experiences as my trip goes on.

The hostel I'm staying at Harold's is so amazing, because of you get for the price. The hostel is 250 pesos a night, which is about $6.50, and you get a bed, sheets, towel, air conditioning, hot water, and breakfast, and locker storage. At the hostel I was at in Cebu for the same price I got a bed. That's it. So it's really nice to have all the amenities here, and they have bicycles they'll let you take out and ride around town.

I'm really hoping to go diving tomorrow morning in Apos island which is right off the coast. It's supposed to be some of the most beautiful waters to dive in in the world. So hopefully weather will be permitting.

Now I titled this blog Dichotomy Speaking, because while I'm having an amazing time in the Philippines, and seeing some beautiful things there has also been some things I've seen that have made me so sad to the bottom of my heart.

While I was in Cebu riding the public transportation there was this little boy I saw riding in the drivers seat who couldn't have been more than 4 years old. I thought that his grandpa was the driver and that he was just riding along. He was an adorable little kid, and I thought it was cute that he was riding along with his grandpa, until the bus stopped and he got off, and I realized he was just riding alone, by himself. He was 4 and just another passenger like me. I then started noticing how many children there are that are just on their own. It made me so sad.

I was talking talking later with people that live here in the Philippines I found out really how much prostitution there is here. With the dichotomy of rich and poor so great here you can almost understand the prostitution. When people work at a store all day long to make about 300 pesos for the day, about $5, not even enough to buy 2 Starbuck's frappacino's even here, and then they have an opportunity to make 3,000-4,0000 pesos in much less time I can understand the drive of why they would think that selling themselves. Then though there is the prostitution in areas of these open field in Cebu, where the girls are called 'The Cardboard Girls' where you pay 30 pesos to have sex with them, not even a dollar, and if you pay an extra 20 pesos they'll throw a piece of cardboard on the ground so you won't get dirty. Then even still there's an area of town where there is this whore house called the Casa, which has lots of girls 18 and up, but apparently as you drive up to it you have to keep your doors locked, because there's tons of girls under 14 trying to get in your car and get you to pay them to have sex with them.

It breaks my heart to see the amount of poverty, and hardships the people here have to endure. There is so many beautiful and amazing parts of the Philippines, and there is some unbelievable lows, ghettos, and poverty. I suppose it's all shocking because it's not really things that are ever a part of my world, and it makes me so sad to see people in pain. I wish there was something I could do, and maybe hopefully someday I'll find a way to be a part of change. I'm not really sure how, but I'm sure that I'm shown things in my life for a reason. So I'll wait and keep looking for opportunities to arrive where I can contribute to being a force of positive change to areas like this.

It's just a lot to take in. This trip has definitely changed me.

permalink written by  Kirk on September 24, 2012 from Dumaguete, Philippines
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Life of Luxury

Manila, Philippines

So this next leg of my trip has been pretty amazing. I was in Dumaguete really hoping the weather would permit and I could go diving off Apo Island. Luck swung my way and we received sun, and were able to dive. Unfortunately the side of Apo that is a marine sanctuary was struck by a typhoon last year so people aren't allowed to dive there for a while to allow the coral to rebuild itself.

The dives were still amazing. We swam out from the reef a little for one and were along side a school of jack fish. It was very serene, and then the last dive we did was a wall dive, which are amazing, because you can't see the ocean floor really below, and you get this amazing profile view of the reef and everything living there. It was beautiful.

After Dumaguete I went up to Cebu for one night and I met up for dinner with my friend James, who I met there, and then with another two friends, Shuto and Francis, who I met while in Dumaguete. Well I met Shuto in Dumaguete, and then I met Francis that night in Cebu. Shuto I met through a friend I made in Dumaguete, Circee, from the site CouchSurfers.org. Shuto was traveling around too, and Francis was a friend who Shuto had made through the same site. Francis had hosted Shuto for a little in Cebu. I made a lot of friends as a direct result of that website so I'd definitely recommend it to people traveling alone.

After dinner Francis, Shuto, and I went and did karaoke. It was a blast and a great way to end my Cebu trip. The next day I flew up to Clark, and here's the part of my trip where I had a taste of luxury.

One of my friends in San Diego, Carlos's, dad is mayor of Rizal, which is

in the greater metro area of manila. Carlos told his family I was coming for a couple days, and they really rolled out the red carpet. It was unbelievable. When I landed in Clark airport, about 3 hours from Manila, they had a personal driver pick me up and take me to a resort,
they may own I'm not positive, and gave me such an amazing room.

Then as if that wasn't enough they had the same driver drive me around while I was in Manila and take me back to Clark so I could catch my flight tomorrow for Phuket. The driver was a really nice guy named, Aries, who really loved working for Mayor Boyet, Carlos's dad.

While in Manila I went to an aquarium they had on the ocean. It was a lot of fun. I was able to see a some shows. They had a sea lion show
which was really cute. One of the sea lions kept tapping her trainer to get food and when she didn't get some she would applaud and then tap her again like 'See look what I did give me food.' It was really adorable. Then the aquarium was really neat
too. They had a big jellyfish area full of tanks of various forms of jellyfish in LED lit aquariums. Then they had a large aquarium full fish which
I had seen while diving and some I hadn't.
There was multiple kinds of sharks. The whole thing was really facinating, and then to be able to go back to the resort and really relax was such a treat.

I was invited to lunch with my friends family today, before I left to go to Clark. I am so grateful to have so much generosity extended to me, and what a luxury after backpacking and living on such a budget for a month. I don't know if Carlos is reading this, but if he is thank you so much to you and your family, you were all so welcoming and kind.

My trip has been so crazy, with all it's highs and lows. I'm sometimes amazed at my life, and all I'm lucky enough to get to experience. I'm looking forward to this next months adventure in Thailand.

permalink written by  Kirk on September 30, 2012 from Manila, Philippines
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Underwater Adventures

Phuket, Thailand

So I got to Phuket. The trip here was an adventure on it's own let me tell you.

My flight was supposed to leave Clark airport in Angeles City in the Philippines at 11:05am, I was to have a lay over in Kuala Lampur, and then I had to fly to at 8:40 PM to Phuket. Well the night before the flight I received an e-mail from Air Asia saying urgent pre-boarding info on your flight from Clark to Kuala Lampur, that's what the subject read. Then the e-mail said your flight from Manila to Kuala Lampur is moved to 10PM to arrive in Kuala Lampur at 2AM. There were many things that worried me with this e-mail: (a) My flight was from Angeles city not Manila. Manila was a 600 baht bus ride away, and I had just traveled from there to be in Clark for my flight, but I didn't worry too much about this, because in one of my flight bookings prior from Air Asia had said I was flying from Clark Airport and then in parentheses put Manila. So if they wanted to say a city was a different city than it was that's their prerogative. (b) I was going to miss my connecting flight, and this is the same airline that once told me a flight I had booked a couple months ahead of time was canceled a couple weeks before it took off. They refunded the money, but I then had to pay more to find a different airline to fly at the same time on short notice. They made no effort to help me get a different flight, so I wasn't sure if they'd actually help with the connecting flight even though I booked it as one trip.

I called Air Asia and then they told me that the flight wasn't delayed it was still for the same time, and if there was an e-mail to ignore it, they didn't know that an e-mail had been sent. So I did as they said and showed up to the airport at 9 AM to check in.

After checking in and getting through security, paying the stupid terminal fees they slap on for nothing, and went through customs they then said the flight was delayed until 10pm. Luckily some really nice worker there made sure that I got put on an earlier flight to make my connection. The flight took off at 3:15PM. So I waited around and read until my flight. Finally oh finally I made it to Phuket, unfortunately I couldn't say the same for my bag. I made the connection, but my bag decided to stay in Kuala Lampur.

One thing with having had such a rough start to this trip is that nothing really phases me all that much at this point. I handled everything without getting angry and lashing out at anyone. I let things run their course.

When I got to Phuket I was very happy to have found an amazingly

cheap dorm room in Patong Beach, which is really touristy. The next day, after the airline delivered my bag, I ventured out and explored the beach. I also checked around with dive shops for prices on fun dives.

Something I've discovered on this trip is that I'm addicted to scuba diving. I can't get enough of it. I found one shop that had decent prices and went back to go book a trip of 3 dives with them, and when I went in the owner talked to me a little, and sold me on getting an advanced water certification, which is the next step up from the certification I have. It allows me to dive in deeper waters and do some different sort of dives I wouldn't be able to do otherwise. he gave me a discounted price and also through in an extra dive for me. You usually do five dives with this course so he gave me six. It was awesome

I woke up the first day and went diving. My first dive was a deep dive,

which really just means between 18 to 30 Meters. We dove down a reef wall on Koh Doc Mai, a small island off Phuket. It was amazing. We swam into this underwater cave on the ocean floor. That was a little scary being in the dark, but then when we turned around to go out you could see the illuminated blue entry hole swarming with fish.

The second dive we did was out at a wreck called King Cruiser's Wreck. It's a huge ferry boat that sank on the way to Koh Phi Phi and it had 350 people on it at the time, no one died or was injured. Actually people think the owner's sunk it on purpose to collect insurance money, because some people say that they were getting the life boats ready before the wreck and that a speed boat made out to where people were stranded with in 20 minutes, when it would take longer to get out there usually, and to get a speed boat in the first place in Phuket generally takes a couple hours. However the wreck got there thank you. It was amazing. Were swimming and all of a sudden the boat was covered in this school of fish that were long, thin and yellow greenish in color. There was so many that I couldn't even see the boat anymore at all it was like it was formed out of fish. Then as we swam up the hull if we stayed still they completely enveloped us and it looked as if I was standing in a prairie with long grass blades blowing all around me. After we swam a little I saw a pack of barracuda swimming through the school. It was such and incredible dive.

If that wasn't enough we went and did a third dive off what's called

shark point. It's called this because you generally see leopard shark here. Sometimes black tipped reef shark. Neither of these attack humans. While I didn't see any sharks that dive; but the coral and visibility was amazing. The only thing I could think of was that the scene looked like what the underwater world was displayed like in The Little Mermaid when they were singing the song 'Under The Sea.' there was so many bright colors and varied fish.

Three unbelievable dives. The last three I did today were okay, but didn't compare to the ones yesterday. I still enjoyed them but I still

have a pleasure buzz running from the first three.

I'm not sure where diving will take me but right now it feels like a drug. I can't seem to get enough of it.

permalink written by  Kirk on October 4, 2012 from Phuket, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Monkeying Around part 1

Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

I made it to Koh Phi Phi and had such a great time. The island is beautiful. The first day I hiked up to a viewpoint which over looks Ton Sai Bay. You can see on the picture to the left it's a strip of land with water on both sides connecting the two large portions of the island. The view is very stunning. I then hiked over the mountain and walked to some of the northern beaches. It was about a 2 hour journey, but totally worth it. I came to one beach that had a security guard by the entrance. I tried asking him what was down the beach but he just smiled and waved me in. Thinking about it later I believe he thought that I was a guest at the private resort that the beach was on, but it worked out great for me. There wasn't many people, the water was so warm and there was a great hammock I curled up in and read a book all day. I then hiked back to Ton Sai Bay.

When I got back I made friends with a couple people in my hostel and went out to dinner with them and then some bars. I only drank cokes while they drank buckets and it was such a fun night.

The next morning I ended up going on a snorkel tour with one of the girls, Merrie, who was from London. It was loads of fun. While on the tour we met some really fun Kiwis (people from New Zealand),
and another two girls from London and Boston. I believe it's because we were all the funnest people on the boat so we naturally gravitated towards each other.

The tour took us from our beach to Bamboo island to snorkel and lay around, then we went to a reef outcrop near our beach for more

snorkeling and finally to monkey beach to interact with the local monkeys. The journey was great and we started to accumulate quite a large group of people to hang out with on the island.

After the tour we all met up and went out that night; which couldn't have been more of a good time. Everyone laughed and enjoyed each others company, and we stayed out til 3AM!

The next day Merrie left and so did Steph, from London, and Sarah, from Boston. Which left me and the Kiwis. I found out that the Kiwis, Penny and Emma, were headed to Railay as well so we decided to travel together the next day. After checking out of our rooms we all went to go have a massage at one of the places on the near their hotel. It was probably one of the most un relaxing massages ever. Not necessarily because the girls doing it weren't good but, but because we couldn't stop laughing. Penny had this one lady who was very strong, and every time I looked over her face was wincing, but if she showed that it hurt the lady would push and prod that area more, and Emma kept being ticklish and laughing or screaming when the lady pulled her in a direction she didn't think comfortable. The strong mas-sues then started to get into our laughing and was smacking Penny in Emma in the butt all the time. I laughed so hard I was crying.

Phi Phi was amazing. I'm in Railay right now which is stunning, but I'll report to you all about that tomorrow or the next day in part 2 of this entry. I hope everyone is well. Thank you for reading.

permalink written by  Kirk on October 10, 2012 from Ko Phi Phi, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Monkeying Around part 2

Railay, Thailand

So I traveled over to Railay beach with the Kiwis. I have to say it might be one of the most stunning beach areas I've been to yet on this trip.

Railay is a very small destination of beaches spreading on both sides of a land strip surrounded by dramatic cliffs. It really is breathtaking. It doesn't take very long to walk around any of it either. The accommodation in Railay is a little more expensive, but the food is really cheap so that helps make up for the price difference of places to stay.

When we arrived on Railay we pulled into the mangrove side of the town. There is not a swimming beach there, but to walk to any of the beaches in Railay it literally takes like 5-10 minutes on really easy paths. When you read about it in the tour books they talk about east and west Railay and it makes it feel like it is a hike to get to the different sides, but it's not at all it's a very quick walk.

What Railay is really known for though is the rock climbing; and with the dramatic cliffs you can easily see why. There's
not a huge night life here, but it was nice to have some time to just unwind. Definitely has the feel of a lover's destination.

We spent our time going snorkeling on the beaches and lying around in the pool at the hotel
. It was very nice to just have some slow time to relax, and because it was so remote and not very populated there were
monkeys that would travel right through the hotel area I was staying at. These monkeys were pretty calm. The ones on Phi Phi were a little ghetto, I think because the tour guides fed them sugar; but these ones here wouldn't try to run up to you and steal stuff which was nice.

I spent my time in Railay just being grateful for the gift that I get to spend in such a beautiful place in the world. It's amazing to not be working every single day, and be able to really just experience this.

I wish I had more to report, but it wasn't an excitement filled trip to Railay; just a very relaxing beautiful time.

permalink written by  Kirk on October 12, 2012 from Railay, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Veggin out

Phuket, Thailand

So I after my awesome trips to Koh Phi Phi and Railay I came back to Phuket. I stayed a really cheap clean hostel in Patong that I liked. When you're backpacking and you find a place that's cheap, has hot water, and is clean it's hard to leave.

I was also waiting for my friend Art, who was visiting Thailand from San Diego, to make it in to Phuket. Unfortunately I was to find out that Art couldn't make it. Art has a Mexican passport and a US Resident card. When he bought his ticket he went to the Mexican consulate and they informed him that he could fly in to Thailand and get a visa on arrival. This ended up not being the case. When Art went to the airport they told him he needed to have his Visa already. The airlines originally told him they would help re arrange the flight if he went and got his Visa. He went and did this only to find out that the travel agency listed him as a no show and in the end they wouldn't help re arrange his flight without him having to pay $1800. It was very sad.

Since I was no longer waiting for Art I decided to stay in Phuket a shorter amount of time and then go to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand which I had wanted to see, but didn't think I would make the journey up here this time.

I stayed for a little while in Phuket to see some of the annual Vegetarian Festival. Now to the novice this sounds cute. Let me explain what this festival is about in the cliff note version.

So back in the day some Chinese actors in Phuket were struck with Malaria. They believed that they were sick because they weren't

honoring their Gods. So in order to honor their Gods they went on a vegetarian diet and got better. The local Thais liked this and they started a festival on the 9th lunar month each year spanning 9 days for good luck. During this time they are to wear white, abstain from alcohol, sex, and meat. During this process some believe that the Gods inhabit them and they are spared pain which they inflict on themselves.
You will see people with various objects pierced through there mouth like the guy on the left, and the guy on the right is holding an axe which he is scraping his mouth with. You will see them walking down the street in a spiritual trance. They also throw firecrackers into the street during the parade to ward off evil spirits.
There was a few times I was pretty scared of getting maimed by the fireworks. While the Gods were protecting them I was pretty sure the same wasn't being held true for me. It was a neat festival, but very intense as well.

After 2 days of the festival I did a long trekk in an overnight bus to Bangkok about 12 hours, and then a 15 hour train ride to Chiang Mai. It was a very long trip. The train ride was comfortable, but I think I would I would have appreciated anything after that bus ride.

I bought the ticket for the bus ride through the hostel I was staying at without thinking about it. It was cheap. After buying it I read about the multiple different kind of buses that do this trip. Just in case anybody decides to take one of these buses take the VIP buses. They are about 300 more baht than the others, $6, but I believe probably worth it. I was not so lucky. My bus trip was a 3 or 4 different rides, changing buses to end up in an overnight bus that smelled so horrible. I have no idea how anyone else slept. When ever the bus started moving and pumping air it smelled like a man's urinal. I barely slept at all. I was so grateful to be off that thing once we arrived in Bangkok; and since have been testing the air and appreciate the non piss smell all around. You live and learn I guess.

I just got in Chiang Mai after about 36 hours of traveling so I will let you all now how my adventures go here after I sleep. Take care.

permalink written by  Kirk on October 18, 2012 from Phuket, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Kirk Kirk
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Hi everyone. My name is Kirk. I'm starting this blog to have somewhat of a living journal as I do a 3 1/2 month trip around southeast Asia.

I decided to do this trip as a reward for myself changing my life around. I'm a recovered alcohol and drug addict. In the course of my addiction it took...

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