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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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Chedis and Temples and Food Oh Mai

Chiang Mai, Thailand

First of all let me start by saying I'm very sorry that I haven't updated my blog in about a week. I did about 36 hours of traveling to get from Phuket to Chiang Mai a little over a week ago. The train portion of the trip wasn't too bad, but if you read my last blog post you know that the bus trip from Phuket to Bangkok was horrible, but all worth it in the end.

Chiang Mai might actually be my favorite city in Thailand. I'm so thankful I was able to make it up here.

Where ever you walk in Chiang Mai you'll run into a temple or chedi just amongst the buildings in the streets. It's amazing. I would be walking down a street and then BAM there in what looks like a driveway is a huge gold buddha, or BAM there's a temple, or BAM there's a chedi. I felt like Emril I was saying BAM so much.

When I first arrived in Chiang Mai I took a tuk tuk to a guesthouse someone in Phuket had recommended to me only to find it was closed. I asked the tuk tuk driver where to go and she took me to a place that was right near by. It was OK, but a little bit of a hole. Not super clean, but about 250 baht for a room with hot water ($8). I woke up late the next day so I wasn't able to check out and had to book one more night. During the day I walked around and ended up researching places to stay, and I'm so glad I did.

I found a hostel called the Eco Resort by Immeco hotels, or just called the IM Eco Resort, and let me tell you I felt like a king. They had a deal that if you booked over 3 nights the room was only 187 baht.
That's about $6, and when you get to the place it's amazing. The hostel room only has only one other bed which was unoccupied for 3 nights, came with a buffet breakfast, had a beautiful garden area, and had a swimming pool with 6 lanes for swimming laps. The place is immaculately clean and decorated too. It's one of the few times I felt something was too good to be true and it wasn't. I've been really happy.

I did end up getting a freelancing job on the way up so while I've been here I ended doing about 30 hours of work programming some websites, which took up some time, but it's nice to be able to have some money coming in rather than going out while traveling.

The people up here in Chiang Mai are so nice. It's different than in southern Thailand. Some times in the south I would feel like I was viewed as an ATM not a person, like people were approaching you trying to see what angle they could play to get money out of you or sell you something. The people aren't really aggressive up here, and they're very polite and kind. So I've done my part to give the same respect and love back.

I rented a motorbike one day and drove up to this temple on the hill.
It was beautiful and there were stunning views of Chiang Mai on the way up. It's an interesting temple. It was built up there after a king put a holy relic on a white elephants back, and
where the elephant collapsed and died was declared a holy place and they built the temple.

While driving the motorcycle though I took a corner wrong, going slowly, but I ran into a steel door on a wall. I ended up busting one of the plastic outer casings of the bike near the foot rest. I had got insurance, but was still worried, because I would still have to cover a huge deductible. Luckily everything is cheap in Chiang Mai. I went to store and the guy gave me a name of his mechanic shop. To fix the bike it cost 345 baht, about $11. I was shocked.

One of the real beautiful things about this city is to just walk around. They have a huge moat and pieces of the old city walls going around the original town of Chiang Mai.

The views are very striking.

Finally one of the other thing I love about this city is the price. It's so cheap, and filled with amazing restaurants, and street food. I found these street deserts they make where it's cooked cups of sweetened coconut milk with corn or green onions in it. They're amazing, cheap and delicious. I fell in love with this dish local to the area called Khao Soi. It's a dish made with curry filled with vegetables, noodles, topped with crunchy noodles garnished with lime and onions. Sometimes it has chicken, but always really crazy good.

Comparatively to the south of Thailand things are a lot cheaper here. Like 60 baht for a 1/2 foot massage ($1.50), 120 for a full hour massage ($3), food ranges, but is generally pretty cheap like around a buck / buck fifty to eat.

I'm so thankful that I was able to make it up here. After coming here I can't imagine going to Thailand and not traveling this way. I guess everything works out the way it's supposed to.

I'm leaving tomorrow night to head to Nong Khai in north eastern Thailand for the Naga Fireballs festival. I'll update you all shortly after that. I hope everyone's well.

If you want to see the pictures there at :

permalink written by  Kirk on October 25, 2012 from Chiang Mai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Great Balls of Fire

Nong Khai, Thailand

So this is about a week late. I have no excuse besides laziness. I'm sorry guys. So when I last left you I was heading to Nong Khai for the Naga Fireballs festival.

I took a VIP bus from Chiang Mai to Udothani. I made sure to pay for the VIP bus this time. It was a much better experience then the trip I took from Phuket to Bangkok. The bus did no smell like pee and I slept for a good portion of the trip.

When I got off the bus at Udothani I knew I had to take another bus to Nong Khai. I got of the bus and was trying to go to a bus stop and there was a cab driver who kept trying to tell me that I couldn't take a bus from that bus stop, that I had to go to another one and that he would take me to it. He wanted 100 baht. I accepted and he drove me somewhere and stopped on the side of the street and said that was a bus stop. I refused to leave the cab. I told him I wasn't getting out on the side of the street where there was no ticket counter or signs for buses. He then took me back to the same bus stop we had come from and pointed to another bus and said Nong Khai. Then he wanted me to pay him for taking me absolutely no where. I don't think his heart was in it though, because as I started to argue with him he jumped in his car and sped off.

I jumped on a bus to Nong Khai and then took a tuk tuk to the Mutt Mee hostel where I had booked a room. It was a cute place right on the river. I liked the hostel for the most part. The owner seemed a little fake and pretentious when he talked to you, but other than that it was nice. Nong Khai was a cute town, but compared to Chiang Mai it is very sleepy and not as pretty. I spent most of my time in Nong Khai reading and relaxing.

I had to take a night train from there back to Bangkok on the 30 to catch my flight to Bali on the 31st so I had to try to see if I could see any of the fireballs that were supposed to shoot up from the Mekong river on the 29th.

I originally thought I could see it directly from where I was in Nong Khai, but I found out that the best place to see it was about 40 km away in Phon Phisai. So I rented a motorbike and drove out there.

I unfortunately didn't see any fireballs, but did see an amazing festival. The fireballs don't come on an exact date; they are just around certain times. This year they were predicted to happen around the 29th and the 30th. Sometimes the fireballs don't even show up until after the festival happens.

When I got to Nong Khai I found they were holding the big festival on the 30th, but there was still a good size on the 29th. I had been hoping to see the fireballs but that's OK. I still enjoyed myself.

At first I thought I was seeing some fireballs, but then realized it was people lighting off lanterns into the sky. They do this on the full moon of October. It was beautiful but would trick me and get me excited if I saw one floating far off down the river.

I took a night train to Bangkok on the 30th. It was very nice. I just laid in the cot, watched some movies I had on my computer, and slept for the night.

We arrived in Bangkok around 6am. I paid 20 baht to use the showers at the train station. They were pretty gross, but I got showered and changed and was ready for my trip to Bali.

The trip there would have been OK except the ticket counter in Bangkok forgot to give me my boarding pass for my connecting flight in Singapore, and I didn't notice until we landed in Singapore. This part of the trip ended up giving an aerobic workout. When we landed we landed late, and my next flight was boarding at the end of the terminal I departed the first plane in. I ran down there and told them I wasn't given my boarding pass and showed them my booking confirmation e-mail. The sent me to the beginning of that terminal strip to get a boarding pass. After waiting in line at that transfer desk they told me I had to go to a transfer counter that was at the far end of a completely different terminal. I ran down there, waited in line, and then had to literally sprint back through 2 terminal strips to barely make it on my plane. I wasn't alone at least. There was another couple who had the same thing happen to them that were my running partners. Ugh!!! I made it to Bali though. So I will be doing a post on that very soon. I hope everyone is good.

permalink written by  Kirk on November 6, 2012 from Nong Khai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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That's Ketchak like Ketchup with out the 'up'

Denpasar, Indonesia

Ok So this is going to be a big post. I was in Bali for about 2 weeks and really had an amazing time.

Before I came I went on CouchSurfing.org and sent a couch request to an amazing girl, Marisa. I asked if I could stay at her place, and if not if we could meet up and hang out.

When I first got to Bali I booked a hostel for 4 nights and then was able to stay with Marisa. She met up with me the first night and we went and had dinner, and I got to meet her friends. The next day she introduced me to some people that were couch surfing at her place and we all rented a car and went to

Uluwatu, and some beaches down south in Bali. The car was pretty cheap to rent, and came with a driver, about $10 each for the whole day. The beaches were beautiful and at Uluwatu, which is a temple on a cliff, we went and saw a Ketchak dance at sunset.

Ketchak is pronounced like Ketchup but you leave out the 'up'. It's really a cool dance. It's a very intricate story involving multiple God's

and one of the God's stealing,through trickery, one of the Goddesses from another God, and all the other God's who help get this girl back and defeat the evil God. The whole thing actually has 50,0000 lines so each dance only displays a part of it. It's called Ketchak after the sound that 70 men are making to create a rhythmic harmony as the dance is performed.

The day after this Marissa had a party at the villa she was staying at

where we all had to let her paint our faces like cats faces. It was a lot of fun. A really cool mix of couch surfers and locals. Everyone had a blast. I really enjoyed meeting and getting to know such a wide varied of cool people.

While originally Marissa said I could stay with her for about 4 days we ended up getting along so well she let me stay for the rest of my trip.

The villa that we stayed at was so nice. It had a pool, and her two cute kittens, Sari and Ginger, which are only 3 months old. I fell in love with them. Still miss them and Marisa :(

One day when Marissa was working I was able to book a scuba trip up to Tulamben in the Northeast corner of Bali. The drive is scary, but beautiful when you get up there. When I mean scary I really mean terrifying. The only similarity Bali roads share with roads in the states is that they are paved and the vehicles have wheels. Other than that all bets are off. It's filled with small narrow roads that cars zip in and out of each others lanes and any other free space on the road is occupied by a scooter doing the same thing. I had to close my eyes and pretend to sleep the whole way up and back. If I was going to die I didn't want to see it happen. lol.

The dives themselves where stunning. I did a wreck dive where I saw a Potatoe Grouper, huge fish, eating a puffer fish. then I did a dive at a reef wall drop off where I saw a glimpse of a black tip reef shark as it dived into the depths. I'm definitely going to invest in an underwater camera so I can start filming my dives. I very much regret not having one on this trip.

The day after Marisa and I drove out to Tanah Lot. A temple on the water in the ocean of Bali.

Very pretty temple. We got ourselves blessed in the water flowing inside the temple and walked around the little shops littering the road.

A couple days after that Marisa, Julie and David, a french couple staying at her place, and I all went up to Ubud in the mountains for a few days.

Ubud was great.

I went and walked in the Monkey Forest. which was beautiful and filled with monkeys.
We then explored all the temples around Ubud which are amazing. There's one that has tons of fountains and natural spring in the center.
When we came there we got to see a blessing ceremony that was happening.
Then we went to another temple which was old and stunning. You had to walk down a million stairs to get there though in the heat so the way back up was no fun, but still what an adventure.

On the way back from the temples we stopped at a local coffee farm and were schooled on all the various methods of their handmade coffee growing and brewing. One of the specialties here for coffee is coffee from a Luwat. I really can't believe I decided to try a sip of this, but basically there is the is cat like creature called a luwat that eats whole coffee beans. The beans aren't digested but passed and fermented in the animals body and then passed out. They are then washed and cleaned, then roasted and grinded and turned into coffee. Supposedly it's very healthy for you. I want to meet the person who saw this animals poop and decided, hmm lets brew that. Alas when in Rome. It was super bitter. Definitely not something I really enjoyed, but I can say I tried it.

The other real treat I found in Ubud was the spas. They were fricken unbelievable. I found a spa called Sang Spa where you could get an hour long Balinese massage, an hour long body scrub, which included a shower, with a yogurt body rub, and a bath filled with flower petals, hot ginger tea, and cold passion fruit for about $15 US. I couldn't believe it. I went 3 times to make sure it was real. lol

Once back in Seminyak, the area I was staying I spent my last days in Bali relaxing and hanging out with Marisa and her friends.

One night we went to go to a movie down in Kuta; and it was crazy. All the traffic was stopped because there was a huge procession going on that was an exorcism.

They were doing a parade with the whole community walking this man with a bad spirit in him, and if the possessed man felt he needed to stop then the parade would have to stop and try to get the spirit out. The spirit felt it needed to stop in a busy intersection. I thought it was fascinating to see a whole community care so much about someone that they would have a religious parade to help him. Really neat.

One thing I can say is that Bali wasn't exactly what I expected, simply because it's so populated, about 5 million people on an island the size of Oahu which has only 1 million, but it is amazing and beautiful, filled with a lot of lovely people, and culture.

I'm now in Bangkok enjoying my last 5 days in Asia and then on to Hawaii to start my new life. I'll probably do one new post before I leave, but all of you please pray for me, send good vibes my way, whatever you do to put positivity in the world send a little my way so I hopefully have an easy transition into life when I get to Hawaii. Thank you all.

permalink written by  Kirk on November 15, 2012 from Denpasar, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Kirk's South East Asia Adventure
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Closing The Door

Bangkok, Thailand

Alright so this is my last blog entry before I head back to the states. I'll check this entry and if I get lots of comments to continue writing when I get to Hawaii then I will.

This trip has definitely been life changing. I wasn't really sure what I expected when I started on this trip. I know this wasn't what I expected, but wonderful in such a different way.

It started out so stressful losing my bank card on the very first day, then dealing with trying to find a way to get cash in countries that are completely cash driven, all the time feeling like I couldn't catch a break. There were moments in the beginning where I felt broken. I thought of giving up and just going home; but a voice inside of me, and many voices from those I love told me to stick it out. 'This to shall pass' I kept thinking, and it did.

On this trip I was able to really discover scuba diving; and find something I'm truly passionate about. I got to take a hard look at myself and see how I handled stress and find better, more effective ways to deal with hard times.

I met so many wonderful people, who will forever be in my heart and memories.
One of the most exciting things about this trip was just to get to meet people. The world is huge, and yet when you travel in it, it opens up. Then it feels small at the same time. Sometimes we look at each other seeing only what makes us different.
Race, color, culture, and we miss what makes us similar. We really are all human. We feel, care, love, hate, struggle, thrive. Everyone has a story, and I feel blessed to have been able to share in others'.
I met so many people from all walks of life, and I was able to look at each one and see our similarities as opposed to our differences. It was a wonderful experience.

I had my heart broken seeing the poverty in some places in the world; and felt overwhelmed viewing a problem that effects so many men, women, and children, and having a feeling of not knowing how to help. This is the way of the world though. It will lift you up and break your heart. Even in the poverty I could still see people enjoying each other, and loving each other, which was very special.

I was able to experience the innate goodness of others and come out from the trip not bitter and jaded, but renewed with a sense of happiness with my fellow man.

There were points in the trip when I would find myself worrying about things. Literally letting fear of unknown run my life. On one of my dives I was diving on a drop off and kept worrying about controlling my breathing and weather a big shark might come up from depths below, Jaws still has put fear in me lol; and then it hit me.

I've been sober now for over 2 years now, coming from a dark place where the only options for my life were jail or death; and now I'm scuba diving in the waters of Indonesia. I thought (pardon my language), but fuck that theoretical shark that may come up from the waters. Far better I die living life happy and fulfilled than dying how I was living before.

I've gotten to know myself, and like what I see. I'm stronger than I give myself credit, and I care for others more than I thought. I was able to learn to let my guard down more and trust in that I will be taken care of. I've made peace with some of my inner turmoil over past situations that I sometimes struggle with, and am able to now trust in the thought that I will be taken care of in the future.

The bottom line life is beautiful if you take time to see the beauty, and it's painful and hard if that's all you look at. I'm taking more time to see the beauty right now. I don't know how my life will turn out, but I'm not going to worry about the future. I'm just going to do each day what I can to leave this world better than I found it, and strive to work at doing things I find myself passionate about.

Thank you to all my friends and family, and everyone reading for having been a part of this journey with me.

Here's links to pictures of the trip:

Nong Kahi:

Chiang Mai:

Koh Phi Phi:



Whale Sharks:



Koh Tao and Koh Samui:


permalink written by  Kirk on November 16, 2012 from Bangkok, 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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