Thursday, February 26, 2009

Leaving Portland, next stop Chicago (Feb 21-26)

Feb 21-23rd

It feels like a part of me is missing. A part where greenery, hippiness, no-sales tax, relaxation, stocks, good Korean food, amazing Henry's & PCG happy hour,  hills, and most importantly, friends have been left behind to pursue my dreams. I do not know why I keep doing this. Is it because of the love of travel and culture? Or is it a deeper, psychological issue - perhaps the inability to settle down at one place. I let myself leave places where I enjoy and am comfortable with, to be at a loneliness I no longer want to endure anymore. But, again and again, I continue on this cyclical path - making new friends, falling in love with a city, getting up and moving again, to make new friends again, thus leaving old ones behind. 

My leaving Portland has been a tough one. It was apparent to myself and all those around me that I found love and peace with the Northwest. Leaving was incredibly hard, to the point where I questioned whether I want to even continue with what I had planned. The few days leading up to my leaving was even tougher than imagined. I thought by looking forward to the trip would make things easier, however, tearing myself from people I enjoyed and leaving a place I fell in love with was harder than expected. Portland is truly a place where the people made the experience worthwhile, but the city itself was a major part of it as well. 

The second to last night, 22nd, was great fun, however, the last night, 23rd, would be a moment I'd treasure dearly. I put together an international potluck, which consisted of 8 countries, ethnic food from each, 14 people, and a spectacular time. Here's some pictures of everyone at the potluck:

I received a rather smelly gift from my friends that night - a signed shirt stained with blueberries, devil's eggs, coffee powder, and wine, among other things. It is a wonderful memento, just not pleasing to the nostrils.

I took a 7am flight out of Portland to Chicago. I cannot express how much I dislike flying within the continental United States. There is absolutely no joy in it whatsoever. You fly for 6-8 hours and you are still in the same country. I did not get much rest the night before due to the potluck and not having packed sooner, so I spent the majority of the early morning before I left packing and finalizing everything.

No rest. Short 2-hr flight to Long Beach, California. Wonderful 60 degree F weather. Short layover, just 15 mins. 4-hr flight to Chicago.

*Thanks to Yu for hosting me, putting up with me, and waking up to send me off early in the AM.


Chicago is very cold. There's snow on the ground and having close to 100 lbs (45kg) of luggage to drag around is not a pleasant thing when you have to take public transportation and have to walk for half an hour. I had to endure the cold and walk to the train that will take me into the city, then walk to the bus station and get on the 77 bus to get to my fellow Couchsurfer's house. Then there's a 15 min walk in the freezing weather. I did not had appropriate snow clothing on as I left Portland where the weather was at 55 degree F for almost an entire week! I learn wind-breaker jackets are not meant to keep a person warm.

I had not eaten at all since the potluck on the 22nd night. I was tired, jet lagged, freezing. Upon reaching Kursten's apartment, I was greeted with a warm smile at a toasty abode. It was fantas-bulous. We ended up talking for a bit before heading out to grab a quick but tasty dinner before the movie. The rest of the night was filled with tears and laughter and reminisce of past endeavors. A wonderful time indeed, Cheers Kursten! 

We were suppose to have a wonderful breakfast before I took off in the AM the following day, but we were both exhausted so we decided to postpone it till Saturday when we'll get together again for a fun-filled C'est la night!

I will never again take the Greyhound. That was my initial thought after taking the Greyhound back from Seattle to Portland back in December. It was long, it was uncomfortable, and most of it, dreary. But, here I am again taking another 6-hr bus ride from Chicago to Iowa City to hang out with an old buddy Jacob and his family. 

It was real good to see them again. Really good. I have missed them much. The last couple of days have just been relaxing and not doing much. Had a delicious Korean dinner after getting off the Greyhound on the 24th. Played some basketball and caught up on some much needed sleep on the 25th. Shot some clay pigeons with a 12-gauge shotgun on the 26th and watched numerous movies. All in all a very relaxing time with people I've known for almost a decade now. I also miss Zack and Chicka (their dogs)! Pictures will come shortly.

It has been slow and wonderful. I could not have asked for anything else. Figured its a good time to sign off so I'll be doing that now. Until next time...

P.S. Thanks to Oko D., I finally have a website domain up and running. We will collaboratively design the website and it should be up and running within the next couple weeks. Looking forward to that, and so should you!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tentative trip Itinerary + Timeline

Timeline in each country: March 15 - August 3

Duration per country Countries
3                                 England, Ireland, Scotland
1                                  Portugal
2                                Spain
3 or 4                        France, Switzerland
3                               Italy
1                               Greece, Turkey
1                               Croatia, Austria, Czech Republic
3 or 4                        Germany, Holland, Belgium, Denmark

Feb 21 - C'est la Night with Shaun!
Feb 22 - Last dinner
Feb 23 - Chicago
Feb 24-27 - Iowa City
Feb 28-March 4 - Chicago
Mar 5-14 - Manhattan, New York City
Mar 15 - London, England

If I am in your part of town and would like to see/host me in your wonderful home, then leave me a comment and let me know. I will make the effort to meet up with you.

I will finish up this post before I leave the US.

Note: I am leaving Portland on Feb 23rd heading to Chicago. I will then be in Chicago until March 5th. I will continue onto New York City till the 14th. So, if anyone is in the area the same time I am, feel free to drop me a line and we'll catch up!

* Thanks to Mindy Y. for helping with the maps! You are simply wonderful!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Portland, OR -- its sunny out!

I awoke not knowing where I was. Cold, dark, rats everywhere. TdC's basement. I'm kidding about the rats - it actually is a really nice place to be. I wouldn't mind staying down there for a longer period of time. Note: TdC is a very nice girl for letting me crash down in her basement and I am not a prisoner down there. She even made me tea this morning - Il a ete tres bon, merci beaucoup, Tee.

I tested out my Mountain HardWear 32 degree sleeping back. Extremely comfortable, snug yet breathable, and lots of zippers to keep me occupied. I urge all of you to buy mummy sleeping bags and sleep with them instead of your beds.

Ok, I promised I'd tell you the reason why I am doing this trip. The biggest 2 reasons are; A. trying to network & start up my own organization that helps people who are interested in traveling to make it easier for them to do so, and B. because I enjoy it, I'm still young, I have the opportunity, and I want to live without a bed for a year. I just love couches that much. Other underlying reasons: 1. I want to research more on how TCK works (Third Culture Kids) and possibly do a bit of presentations around Europe to high school students on how to acknowledge the emotions/feelings that arise with being immersed in a different culture.

Definition of TCK: "“A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture. The third culture kid builds relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the third culture kid’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of the same background...""

I have had the honor to sit one on one with the co-founder of this TCK culture - Dave Pollock ( I had the opportunity to meet him in Tianjin, China when he came through to talk about the TCK culture. It was something that hit close to heart for me as I never realized why it is that I was so very different from everyone else. Not only have I moved about all my life, I also come from different cultures as my Dad & Mum are mixed blood. Therefore, I'm just a confused little boy. But I enjoy being a "mutt"!

Moving forward. The last couple of days has been terribly chaotic. I moved from TdC's basement to Yu's place. She was generous and kind enough to host me for the rest of my time in Portland and for that I am grateful. Had to collect the rest of my baggage from my old house and re-organize everything in TdC's basement. I'm hoping to get things shipped to Singapore by the end of this week and hopefully selling the car by the end of next week. If all goes according to plan, I will be in Chicago for the 1st of March, then NYC for the 6th, and onwards to London for my first stop of my adventure, on the 15th. However, I know things never go according to plan, so we'll see how it goes. I'd like to stay as concrete on the tentative schedule as much as possible until I get to Europe, then I'd be able to be free in what I do.

Luke, thanks much for listening even when you were sick. I needed that talk, buddy.

I realized that many of you do not understand who I am and why I do the things that I do. Perhaps its because none of you have been with me from the beginning, but that is neither your fault or mine. Life is a constant change and that is what keeps it very exciting. My only regret, and I mention this to people whom I'm close with, is that I feel left out on the whole "settling down" aspect of life, and also the fact that I've done travels either with family or myself and never really had a good friend to share the experiences. I know that people will not fully understand who I am until they have traveled with me. 

I had a re-connection with Elise this evening and she talked about doing a national trip around the US. I urge my followers to follow her upcoming blog. She's an editor at the Vermillion, which is a newspaper in Lafayette, LA, so she'll probably have much more entertaining entries than mine, but hey, competition is good right? Jokes aside, she is awesome and I will be putting up a link to her blog once she gets it up and running. For the time being, endulge yourself to a scoop of icecream and immerse yourself in my entries.

Why is it that I always find myself bonding closer to people only to tear away from them? I've done that time and time again, and it tears me to pieces when I leave, but I never find happiness in the place that I'm at - it's as if I'm searching for the perfect place that may or may not exist. Nevertheless, I will keep searching as that is my addiction, purpose/aspiration, and downfall, always on the move, never settling, and leaving people behind. Perhaps one day, I'll be filthy rich and get tickets for all my friends to come visit me at my island in the tropics and we'll have a grand ole time...

Never hurts to dream, right?


Portland, OR -- moustache "fiving"

This might be a long one, guys and girls, so prepare you a nice warm cup of tea and settle in.

I will get to the following in today’s blog: plans for the big trip (when & where), reason why I’m doing this, what I have to get through in order before this can even take off, etc etc.

I was suppose to get a whole bunch of things done today, however, due to a faulty slave cylinder that is leaking in my car, I find myself stuck at home instead of running around town like a chicken with its head cut off trying to tie up loose ends around town. It ended up taking me a good 2 hours to pull out the old slave cylinder, put the new one in, bleed the clutch system, then proceeded to tighten the clutch back to normal. (Thanks Luke F. for giving me directions- would have been faster if you were here buddy.) But I completed the job without the help of any directions or manual and I am very proud of myself for actually being successful.


Here’s part of the list I must get through before skipping town:

-          Sell car

-          Contact bank to tell them I’m traveling

-          Buy more gear from REI

-          Forward all mail to a new address

-          Pack up everything to move to a temporary place

-          Figure out flight plans, weather conditions, to all places that I’ll be at

-          Pack up rest of belongings to be shipped to Singapore

Yes, I am having a huge headache from all this important shit. Why can’t I just drop everything and leave? Society has designed it in a way that it is hard to do that. But I will give them the middle finger and move on silently, undetected. Well, that wouldn’t work because then I’d have to end this blog but I know that if I did that, all of you who are reading this would be sad and mourn from not hearing from me again. Did that sound egotistical? Hope not.

After posting my entry yesterday, I immediately posted a note on my Facebook account to get some exposure. I then proceeded to check my blog every 10 or so minutes addictively to see if I have any followers and asked those that I’ve tagged to see if they have read it yet. I felt like a 12 year old school girl giddy with excitement and obsessing over her lover. Plenty of people who have read it have gotten back to be asking me what this trip is all about, why I am doing this, and how long will I be gone for. Well the reason I did not mention any of this in the first entry is because I was using that as bait – and it worked damn well at that.

I had planned on completing this entry to be posted last night, however, because of many minor mishaps I prolonged it to today. Spent the first half of the day packing and throwing away miscellaneous crap that I have accumulated over the years. It’s amazing how much random shit you can accumulate over the years. Well most of that is gone now, so I feel “lighter”.

Now to the juicy part that most of you are anticipating this whole time. I know, I know, I should have just started with this and kept it short. However, that would mean that you wouldn’t have known what happened before I started this trip, and I wanted to force all of you to read about my “fun-filled” life because I’m selfish like that. I unveil to you my plans… Bear in mind it is a tentative schedule and I kept it as non-specific as possible to avoid any concrete plans. I want to be on my own schedule – most of you can relate to this. Well here it is:

 TENTATIVE ONLY!! Trip Itinerary

City    Country Time Spent Visa Requirements

London England April-May no

Glasgow  Scotland April-May no

Dublin    Ireland   April-May no

London England April-May no

Lisbon  Portugal May-June no

Strait of Gilbraltar Morocco May-June yes

Madrid Spain    May-June no

Barcelona Spain   May-June no

Raine   France June-July no

Paris France    June-July no

Lyon France    June-July no

Geneva Switzerland June-July no

Milano Italy July-mid July no

Roma Italy    July-mid July no

Naples Italy July-mid July no

Lafayette, LA USA August to October : 2 month break for 2 best friends' wedding

Athen Greece Oct-Nov no

Istanbul Turkey Oct-Nov no

Sofia Bulgaria  Oct-Nov n/a

Bucharest Romania Nov-Dec no

Budapest Hungary   Nov-Dec n/a

Vienna Austria       Nov-Dec no

Munich Germany   Dec-Jan no

Cologne Germany   Dec-Jan no

Luxemburg City Luxemburg Dec-Jan no

Brussels Belgium   Dec-Jan no

Amsterdam Netherlands Jan-Feb n/a

Copenhagen Denmark Jan-Feb no

Stokholm Sweden    Jan-Feb no

Berlin     Germany    Jan-Feb no

Frankfurt Germany   Jan-Feb no

Prague Czech Rep.   Feb-March no

Warsaw Poland       Feb-March no

Kiev Ukraine            Feb-March yes

Moscow Russia        Feb-March yes

St. Petersburg Russia Feb-March yes

Mumbai India           March-April yes

Agra/Jaipur/Delhi India March-April yes

Kathmandu Nepal     March-April yes/on arrival

Llasha Tibet             March-April yes

Xinjiang China         April-June yes

Ulaanbaatar Mongolia April-June no

Beijing China            April-June yes

Tianjin China          April-June yes

Xian China             April-June yes

Shanghai China        April-June yes

Macau/H.Kong China April-June yes

Guilin/Yangshou China April-June yes

Hanoi Vietnam        June-Sept no

Vientaine Laos        June-Sept yes/on arrival

Phnom Penh Cambodia June-Sept no

Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam June-Sept no

Bangkok Thailand      June-Sept no

Pattaya Thailand     June-Sept no

Phuket Thailand      June-Sept no

Ko Samui Thailand   June-Sept no

Langkawi Malaysia Sept-Oct no

Penang Malaysia    Sept-Oct no

Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Sept-Oct no

Johor Bahru Malaysia Sept-Oct no

Singapore Singapore   Sept-Oct no

Well, that is the plan. Its suppose to be a year long trip with a 2 and a half month vacation to a vacation spent in Lafayette for my 2 best friends' wedding, but we shall see how far I can go with what little money I have and overcoming random obstacles. It is 1:40am and I am getting tired. I've spent the majority of the day packing and moving to Thevi's basement, where I am currently typing to you now, and tomorrow is another day of moving. There's more errands to be ran and I'm just absolutely knackered. That means overwhelmed/tired/exhausted for you American folks out there. I will add another post tomorrow regarding the reasons why I am doing this and hopefully it'll make sense to you, because it's still complicated to me. Good night all.

P.S. Moustache "five" to Caroline! We will dance like spider monkeys in Amsterdam!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Lafayette, LA -- Portland, OR

Feb 1, 2009

Blogging... I don't quite know what to think of it yet. But I was inspired by a certain Matt Harding to start my own ( ( Not only has he inspired me to start selfishly writing about how "amazing" I am or the things I've done, or the places I've been, etc, reading his blog has motivated me to somehow convey all that in some sort of literary artform that many call Blogging. So this is, therefore, me breaking my virgin blogging experience - I am glad I can share this all with you.

I suppose I shall start in the middle instead of the beginning. I can come back to the beginning after I'm retired and have plenty of free time to try and remember the past 22 years. Rest assured, I have had loads of fun and I will never trade it back for anything. 

So, the middle then.

I recently graduated from my undergrad studies from Univerisity of Louisiana Lafayette with 2 business degrees - Marketing & Int'l Business. I then proceeded to move to Portland, Oregon as I had quite a number of options available for me up here - not to mention the weather in the summertime is absolutely one of the best in the continental US. The winter...not so. But that really doesn't have that bad of an affect on me like it does on everyone else up here in the NW. I do not excessively drink coffee to stay hyped up and happy throughout the day, nor do I stay indoors all the time. OK that last one was a lie, sort of. I'm on the floor typing random things that pop in my head instead of going out and enjoying the NW. (FYI: NW stands for Northwest).

Side note: I just sold my futon that I've been sleeping on for the last 8 months and slept on the floor last night. Was surprisingly comfortable. I like sleeping on hard wood floors, I should do that more often. They say its good for your back too. 

Back to the timeline. I moved up here because I thought that I would be attending graduate school for my Masters in IB (Int'l Bus.) and everything will be just fine and dandy upon graduation. After a long thought process, and moving up to Portland officially, I rejected the notion of attending school for another year and a half and decided to find a job. I took up a job at Waddell as a financial advisor, but quickly found out I wasn't getting paid b/c it was more like an internship until I pass some exams. Therefore, went searching again for another job. This time I landed in with Phillips and Company which is the 2nd largest investment firm in the NW. Its located on the 21st floor in the tallest building in Portland. I had a great view from my desk. I dealt with stocks and was trying to become the greatest investment advisor they have ever seen. Trying is the operative word there. Well, towards the end of my stay and my work visa expiring, I started looking at options for adventure outside the US. I am getting tired of being stuck in a place for 4-5 years and I definitely need a change of scenery. Don't misunderstand me, I absolutely adore Portland. It is one of the few places in the US that I can see myself settling down and kicking it for a while. However long that while is, I have yet to find out. 

I figured with the shitty economy, high unemployment, and me just itching to get the hell out of here, I came up with a trip that I've always wanted to do. It's very complicated and the people that I've mentioned this to have been supporting but has also been weary that I may not be able to get through much of it, but I am determined to do it and live off grass and tree barks, if I must, to survive. To summarize quickly, this trip is a way and means for me to just live for a while, outside of responsibilities, careers, and also for me to finally put together a business plan for my own organization. I will be traveling through 35 countries, 30,000 miles, sleeping on random people's couches (, walking, hiking, busing, training, flying, eating, drinking, sleeping, trekking, and anything else you can think of. I leave in April for London. So soon, yet not soon enough. I still have yet to buy tickets from Portland to Chicago (to visit a Jacob & his family), then Chicago to NYC to see my sister Shermaine and spend Spring Break with her, then onwards to London and the beginnings of new beginnings - as the blog is so aptly titled. 

Rewind a bit.

I suppose my journey truly began when I moved up to Portland from Lafayette. After staying in Lafayette for 3 years, I decided it wasn't for me to stay. It is not in me to settle in some place for long periods of time. I have no understanding of home, nor nationalism or patriotism. I suppose I can attest to that because of how often I've moved in my life and how many different countries and cultured I've immersed myself in. Well, for what it's worth, I wouldn't change it for anything. 

My move to Portland was anything but uneventful. I drove 3000 miles, across plains, deserts, coastline, oh and Texas (which I will never ever drive across TX again), to make it up to Portland. Not to mention I had a car full of crap that I've accumulated over the years. Looking back, I don't understand why I didn't just sell everything and live like a minimalist. I actually enjoy being a minimalist, but it is hard for me to do. I hate that I can't just do it. Any way, I suppose I am rambling for my de-virginized blog now. I shall post my itinerary for all of you to see how far I drove and under the conditions in which I drove. 

And this was my driving route courtesy of Michelle who did a wonderful job in outlining my whole trip with pictures and everything. I appreciate it, Michelle. Maybe you can help me on this next portion of my trip.