Vacation Escape: “Stray-ya” and Bali


 Greetings from Hue, Vietnam, where culture thrives and history is preserved. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get around to see much of it since I’ve been hit with another case of the Belly Bugs, which has kept me indoors (and close to the bathroom) for the past few days. So at least it’s given me time to sit down and collect some pictures and videos from the past month and put together this blog to show you what it’s like when you’re actually feeling good on an adventure around the world. It’s good for me too to remind myself I’ll be back at it in a while, and that this attack on my insides won’t keep me down for long!

So like I said in my last blog I had taken a spontaneous flight to Australia and then Bali following the disaster at the Daiichi Nuclear Plant in Japan last month. The plan was to return to Japan after things cooled down and finish up my contract which would finish in June and then take off with Seamus and Rob to see Thailand and as much of SE Asia as we could before time and money. Well that wasn’t in the cards so I took off earlier and started the trip on my own, which has brought me here after two weeks in Northern Vietnam. The other guys will be joining up next month sometime. So plans change and I was sad to go, but I was fortunate enough to get to see a few countries that I didn’t think I would get to experience for some time. So let me tell you about the first of them, and the week and a half I spent on the east coast of Australia.

To visit to Vietnam, you can get electronic visa here: evietnamvisa.org

My first impressions matched up with my expectations; a jaw-dropping and beautiful country, with funny looking people (well they were non-asian looking!) who spoke a kind of English and carried about with a relaxed yet purposeful and skilled manor. I landed in Sydney and spent the first week casually exploring the Harbour area with Rob and Seamus, soaking up some sun on the beach (smeared in sun-block), hitting up some great restaurants, pubs and riding the ferries to surrounding areas. The second week took Rob and I up to Brisbane where we had an unexpectedly wet and wild night in Dave’s tub recreation area before spending a few nights in a rowdy hostel in Byron Bay. I left the country knowing I only skimmed the surface of an amazing country, but I saw enough to know a return trip is in the plans sometime in the coming years. Highlights included firelight dinners and patio parties at Seamus’ gorgeous pad outside the city, seeing the incredible western desert art displayed around the great museums in Sydney, and most fulfilling of all, hiking the winding forest trails around the three sisters UNESCO site. Oh and hanging out with the park bats watching the sunset over Sydney Harbour is tough to forget too! Definitely a great time thanks to our incredible hosts, the Ryan family and Dave “beef” Halsted! I’ll be back as soon as I save up enough for your costly country, so get the Roo steaks out and stock up on that goon!

So after a great few weeks in Stray-ya, I said goodbye to the crew and got on the plane to Bali, where I would spend the next week on my own for the first time in a totally new culture. I went in without much preparation or knowledge, and a “that’s the way she goes” type of attitude, which was a healthy challenge for my habitual super-planner approach. I had a great feeling about the trip, especially after meeting an unbelievable young adventurous couple on the plane, who I later spent some time with around Ubud and the Green School (an all bamboo eco-friendly community focused elementary/ hippie-high school in the jungle). And that’s when I immediately realized the perks of traveling solo. The way you’re forced to seek out social interactions and are naturally exposed to a wider array of experiences. It can be such a rewarding and exhilarating challenge. (Thanks Miki and Joe!) As most of you know, I seem like a really social person, and I really value making connections and spending time with lots of different people. At the same time I really enjoy and need those private times to reflect and just Be, and I feel like the week in Bali really helped in finding a good balance in terms of figuring out those needs and limits.

Traveling and seeing incredible places around the world is fantastic, and what’s more fantastic for me at this point is taking the time to reflect on how these experiences are influencing me as a person. How the way I approach and act in each new day is actively shaping my character and sense of self for the rest of my life. It’s this step that I’ve been focusing on, and I think it’s really what my journey is all about. Discovering how I want to live, and even more important, how i want to be in each moment, whether it’s on a bus across Vietnam or at a computer desk in an office. The things I’m going through now, when reflected upon and digested, all contribute to this process of self discovery. I think with some effort, they can be used to positively form my core values and help to create my evolving philosophy on life!

It’s exciting to test this learning process out as I travel, and I get to see how life can be enriched by this introspection and development of awareness. I guess I’m bringing this all up because Bali was kind of the biggest “test” of my life so far, to see whether the stuff I’m starting to apply to my approach to daily life is taking me in the right direction towards what we’re all seeking, a sense of true well-being and fulfillment. So what’s the results so far you ask? Well, I certainly ain’t no enlightened being! hahaha. But what I have found out is that I am beginning, just beginning to be able to identify certain methods, a type of path through the craziness of what we all go through on a daily basis, that may just lead to a greater understanding of what life is all about. And then again it may not! But it’s this path, and the experience of creating/following it that seems worth it to me.

So I’ve kind of begun to write down this evolving philosophy of daily life and I hope I can share it with you guys soon enough as it starts to take shape over the next while. Maybe it’s kind of weird but I thought why not put it out there and I could get some cool feedback or comments! It’s more of an outline of stories and experiences that relate to a list of values I think are worth cultivating. Basically stuff that seems important to me that may be important to you too. And then it’s adding the why and how to take it to the next level. The fun part i think!

For example, getting into idea of ‘learning’ and gaining ‘knowledge’. And then taking this concept and making it personal. Challenging what it means to “learn’ something. What does it mean really? To skip to the end of that internal discussion process I can tell you I came to really like the idea of Wisdom, as the preferred approach to gaining “knowledge”. And it’s in the way we relate personally to that which we encounter. Wisdom gets to a deeper level, which is what I’m seeking in this process of inquiry, transcending the process of “knowing about” something, involving an Action, a Becoming, if you will.

To be specific, I think of ‘Wisdom’ as a Becoming of what we have Actually Experienced and Realized.

It’s in that depth of understanding how we relate to our personal experiences where this wisdom comes from. Only then can we truly reap the benefits of what we ‘learn’. And that process of discovery helped me, and maybe it shows how if we inquire about any sort of concept, we could stand to grow a little bit. I could possibly even lift some preconceived notions about the world, some ignorance or wrong ideas. Shake things up, gain a sense of freedom. Get confused and have fun :0

So I know this may seem like a simple game of ‘playing with definitions’, but it’s the process of coming to that definition that’s important, or at least pretty fun. And then of course it’s analyzing these concepts, figuring out which ones I want to apply to my life, and how often, and why, testing them out, seeing which ones are difficult, which ones fit together and how each relate to my life, one that is constantly changing and evolving from moment to moment. So really it can be a full time job, and actually it is! It’s life and it’s pretty awesome to play around with, right!?

Ok that was a super long stream of consciousness and I didn’t really talk about my travels…and this is supposed to be a “travel’ blog, lol. Oh well, I’ll let the pictures and videos tell the stories and I hope you can enjoy them and laugh at any one that features this ridiculous looking guy (seriously i think i look dorkier and dorkier in every picture im in!).

To visit to Vietnam, you can get electronic visa here: evietnamvisa.org