Ten years after The Global Trip blog began in 2003, Erik sets off for experiences in three countries. First, Canada, specifically Alberta for trekking in the Canadian Rockies, followed by attending the world-renowned Calgary Stampede rodeo festival. Then, for his first official assignment for National Geographic, he heads to Papua New Guinea for a taste of tribal culture, followed by a short R&R side trip to New Zealand (via Brisbane, Australia) to go snowboarding on South Island. (He finds it mediocre until he decides to do it via helicopter.)




TRAVEL DISPATCHES (in chronological order)

Northern Hospitality After The Floodapocalypse

Posted: June 29, 2013

PART 1 (DAYS 1-4): “Get ready to be killed with kindness,” Leigh-Anne said as she picked up from the airport, referring to the Canadian reputation of being amongst the nicest people on earth. “And I don’t mean that southern bitchy kindness.”

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The Wows of Canada Day

Posted: July 07, 2013

PART 2 (DAYS 4-5): “BAM!” Leigh-Anne proclaimed as we drove around a bend on the highway to reveal the Canadian Rockies, less than an hour from downtown Calgary. “This is the best part of living in Calgary. Being close to this.”

“Now I know why they call it *BAN*ff!” I said.

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Language of the Valley

Posted: July 09, 2013

PART 3 (DAYS 5-8): “Wait, I haven’t nut myself yet,” I informed Leigh-Anne in the morning, in a very Arrested Development Tobias Fünke way. We were not in the sleeping quarters as you might think, but in the kitchen, where I had not yet put a spoonful of peanut butter in my bowl.

Breakfast was pretty genius. It was Leigh-Anne’s idea to make a camp version of satay noodles by simply making an instant ramen noodle pack with hot water, adding in its flavor and spicy oil pack, and then adding in a spoonful of peanut butter. Not only did it taste good, but it gave us an extra boost of protein and calories in the morning, before a day of hiking.

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Hell or High Water

Posted: July 09, 2013

PART 4 (DAYS 8-11): “How’s this look?” I asked Leigh-Anne, trying on a white cowboy hat in the Lammle’s concession store in Stampede Park, grounds of the Calgary Stampede festival. When you’re at one of the world’s biggest celebrations of western heritage, the least you can do is put on full-brimmed cowboy headwear.

“Uh, you look like someone who’s going to Stampede,” Leigh-Anne admitted.

“Good,” I said. “That’s the look I was going for.”

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The Rodeo Within A Rodeo

Posted: July 09, 2013

PART 5 (DAYS 10-11): “I can tell you’re not from around here either, because you don’t have cowboy boots,” I told the friendly stranger in line next to me, wearing sneakers.

“I’m from Montreal,” he admitted.

The Québécois city slicker and I, along with Leigh-Anne and hundreds of others, were lining up for burgers at the free barbecue of the Dogie Do Rodeo, at the ranch of the local Shriner’s Club on the outskirts of downtown Calgary. It was by far Leigh-Anne’s favorite part of Calgary Stampede, a sort of rodeo within a rodeo, and not just because it has an open bar for twelve hours.

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The Brisbane of My Existence

Posted: July 12, 2013

PART 6 (DAYS 12-14): “Put your bag on the scale,” the nice Virgin Australia employee requested of me in Los Angeles International Airport. While my luggage’s width and height were within carry-on boundaries, its long depth made it look (and weigh) suspiciously heavy. “You’ll have to check it in.”

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#AnythingCanHappen

Posted: July 21, 2013

PART 7 (DAYS 14-17): “Things could be worse, right?” I told Ally, California-native who worked for the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (in LA), who had organized the press junket I was traveling to PNG for.

“That should be the motto of PNG,” she told me. “‘Things could be worse, right?’ with a question mark at the end.” She shrugged her shoulders with a funny smirk for that last word, after a comic beat. In fact, Ally’s whole personality was full of great comic delivery; she mentioned this one time during an open mic in Venice Beach, she’d gone up and did Dave Chappelle’s stand-up routine in The Nutty Professor verbatim (“Women be shoppin’! Women be shoppin’!...) to see if anyone would notice, before abruptly segueing into a deadpan, “But seriously folks, poverty is crazy, right?”

Little did we know at the time, that the first three-day part of the junket’s proposed itinerary would be canceled (due to a missed chartered flight connection to Tufi), and have to be replanned on a whim, based on whatever activities or accommodations were available in and around PNG’s gritty capital city, Port Moresby.

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Team Go-Getter

Posted: July 23, 2013

PART 8 (DAYS 18-20): “We’re literally in the middle of nowhere,” I said when our motorized canoe paused for moment as it entered a small tributary of the Sepik River, in the middle of the jungle of northwestern Papua New Guinea. Nearby, a flying fish jumped out of the water, followed by another. “If my phone rang right now and they asked me where I was, I would say I have no idea.”

“Well, we took a four-hour bus ride, then two hours on a boat, then another hour…” Ally explained. We had “gone deep,” as she put it.

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Mask Tourism

Posted: July 25, 2013

PART 9 (DAYS 20-24): “Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to seek out tradition, not traditional tourist traps.” This was a comment that had appeared onto Tina’s Facebook page, when were back in the glory of wifi after not having had it for so long.

“It’s from this guy that used to be a missionary I know,” Tina told me.

“Oh, a missionary? Well, he has a lot of questions to answer too,” Ally retorted.

Regardless of its source, for the travel journalist, such a statement is a little off-putting. We’re out in the world to discover new places off the beaten tourist path — or rather, discover new stories or angles of destinations already written about because, “Every place is ruined,” I told Tina. The former missionary’s disconcerting message had come in as we were having a one-to-one over SP Export beers in the bar of the Kokopo Beach Bungalow Resort in Rabaul, our base of operations for our third and final leg of our press trip in Papua New Guinea.

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Rabaul Adventures

Posted: July 29, 2013

PART 10 (DAYS 20-24): “It’s five o’clock all the time here,” I said, noticing the wall clock stuck on 5 a.m. (or was it p.m.?) in the baggage claim area of Rabaul’s airport, when we touched down from our flight from Wewak around 11:30 a.m.

“It’s happy hour somewhere, and that somewhere is here!” Emily proclaimed.

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Race on the Brisbane River

Posted: July 30, 2013

PART 11 (DAY 25): “I started the African-American Community of Australia. The A.A.C.A.,” said the familiar voice of Maurice, a.k.a. Moe, an African-American ex-pat living in Brisbane. “Guess how many members are in it?”

“I dunno,” I answered before making a hypothesis. “Five?”

“Two,” he replied, chuckling. “And the other guy is a white guy.”

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Beautiful, Yet Remarkably Mediocre

Posted: August 03, 2013

PART 12 (DAY 26-30): “Where should I go?” I asked the guy at the Snowbiz One Stop snow gear rental shop in Queenstown, world-renowned adventure sports hub on the South Island of New Zealand. I had rented it all: snow pants, goggles, gloves, boots, and snowboard — even a jacket. They don’t call it “One Stop” for nothing.

“You should go to Remarks,” he suggested. He asked a co-worker nearby — a fellow ski bum with a job at a gear store — who confirmed that I should indeed go to the Remarkables, nearby mountain range and home to one of two local ski areas.

“What about Coronet Peak?” I asked them. I’d heard that one to be the more popular skiiable mountain of the immediate area.

“Coronet’s shit,” they told me. Not that it wasn’t a formidable place for snow sports, but the recent rain on that mountain had washed away all the recent powder and left over a crust of ice — shitty conditions for snowboarding.

And so, I paid for my rental and lift ticket to the Remarkables for the following morning.

“Cheers.”

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Middle Man in Middle Earth

Posted: August 06, 2013

PART 13 (DAY 26-32): There are different types of tourists that travel around New Zealand. Those with a limited timeframe of two weeks or less — mostly Americans — often do a package tour to pack as much as they can with an organized schedule, even with the 13-16 hour timezone difference. Others may stay put at a luxury resort, and play golf or something. And for the past decade, director Peter Jackson’s country of birth has seen an influx of Lord of the Rings nerds, who come to experience their beloved Middle Earth. There are several companies that offer tours to film locations — some even with costumes and re-enactments by other nerds.

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Hello, Heli.

Posted: August 07, 2013

PART 14 (DAYS 31-33): “Two things. Don’t shake the pilot’s seat,” instructed one of the heli-ski guides. “Don’t touch the stick.”

I particularly had to pay attention — and heed caution — because I sat right between my guide Chris and the pilot with his control stick, due to me being the shortest in the group. “I’d be honored to be the shortest man here,” I told Chris. My 5’6” height advantage got me the front and center seat for the spectacular view of the North Harris Mountains, as the helicopter pilot took me, Chris, and four other skiers and snowboarders up above the snow line.

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Up and Over

Posted: August 11, 2013

PART 15 (DAYS 33-35): “How’s everything here?” I asked Chris, the manager at Southern Laughter Lodge, when I arrived back in Queenstown for a day in order to catch a homeward bound flight early the following morning.

“Oh, it’s quiet. It’s finally slowing down,” he answered.

“Oh, is the ski season over?”

“No, the season can go all the way until October,” he told me. “But all the Aussie kids have gone back to university.”

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COWBOYS, DUK-DUKS, AND KIWIS (in chronological order):



PRAISE FOR THE GLOBAL TRIP BLOG

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the “Top 100 Sites You Didn’t Know You Couldn’t Live Without” (in the travel category) in 2005.

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- letter to Erik R. Trinidad from Roger M. Brown, Senior Legislative Assistant, Office of U.S. Senator Wayne Allard

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- Luke Kesterton, UK

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