VIDEOS

Can the Heat of a Volcano Be Used to Power Holiday Lights?

Erik travels to the “big island” of Hawai’i, home of one of the world’s most active volcanoes, to answer the question: can the heat of a volcano be used to power holiday lights?

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How Many Chickens are in Chicken, Alaska?

Erik travels to Alaska and the Yukon, with a stopover in one interesting little town, Chicken, for a full investigation. He’s determined to answer the question: dead or alive, how many chickens are in Chicken, Alaska?

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How Do You Make Lichens Smile?

Erik travels to the lichen fields off the Skeleton Coast in the Namib desert to make the symbiotic organisms smile.

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Is It Cold Enough to Turn Boiling Water into Snow?

Erik journeys through the boreal forest of Quebec, Canada on a dogsledding expedition with outfitter Aventuraid. The weather is so cold during the five days that curiosities arose on weather or not boiling water could freeze in the air. (Read more about this video on Erik’s article on National Geographic Intelligent Travel.)

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Can a Finger Really Be Used to Stop a Leaky Dike?

Erik travels through the Netherlands, a European nation completely shaped by its relationship with water, wondering if the Dutch boy of Hans Brinker fame could have really heroically saved the country with just one finger. (Read more about this video on Erik’s article on National Geographic Intelligent Travel.)

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How Can a Man Prepare Himself to Dance Through Fire Without Getting Burned?

Erik travels through different regions of Papua New Guinea, encounter local tribes, to answer the question: How can a man prepare himself to dance through fire without getting burned? (Read more about this video on Erik’s article on National Geographic Intelligent Travel.)

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Can the Power of the Sun Pour a Cocktail from a Height of 72 Feet?

Erik travels to Gardens By The Bay in Singapore, to answer the question: Can the power of the sun pour a cocktail from a height of 72 feet? (Read more about this video on Erik’s article on Treehugger.com.)

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Can a Really Powerful Electromagnet Cut Through a Piece of Cheese?

Erik travels to the nuclear research center of CERN, on the border of France and Switzerland, to answer the question: Can a really powerful electromagnet cut through a piece of cheese? (Read more about this video on Erik’s article on Discovery.com.)

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Will a 14-lb. Bowling Ball Float in the Dead Sea?

Erik travels through the country of Israel to answer the question: Will a 14-lb. bowling ball float in the Dead Sea? (Read more about this video on Erik’s article on Discovery.com.)

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Silverback Gorilla Encounter

Erik gets up close and personal with a 300+ lb. silverback mountain gorilla in this POV footage shot in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. The video doesn’t look as tense and thrilling as the actual experience is in real life, although playing it over in slow motion helps a little. (This video corresponds to travel dispatch, “Damn Dirty Apes,” from January 2012.)

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Erik Gets Shot In Colombia

Erik gets shot point-blank in the stomach by a .38 caliber handgun while wearing a fashionable bulletproof leather jacket designed by Miguel Caballero, the “Armani of Bulletproof Apparel.” Miguel Caballero himself conducts the demonstration at his headquarters in Bogotá, Colombia. (This video corresponds to travel dispatch, “I Got Shot In Colombia And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt,” from December 2007.)

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Eating Live Octopus in Korea

Erik samples the Korean delicacy of sannakji — live, squirming, octopus — in a restaurant in Seoul, South Korea. (This video corresponds to travel dispatch, “Seoul Man,” from May 2010.)

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http://youtu.be/aw3y-AH6VzY>Elsewhere

Inspirational slideshow of highlighted photos from “The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World,” set to Rob Dougan’s “Born Yesterday” (instrumental). (October 2003 – March 2005)

http://youtu.be/aw3y-AH6VzY>Watch the video


Erik Goes Down Under

Legacy travel video of a 17-day trip to Australia, going from Sydney to Melbourne, Uluru, and eventually to the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef out of Cairns. (approx. 12 min., May 2003)

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Erik Goes South For The Winter

Legacy travel video chronicling an 11-day tourist expedition cruise to the Antarctica Peninsula with Quark Expeditions. (approx. 17 min., February 2002)

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Would You?

Inspirational and motivational legacy video trailer for Erik’s first long-term, continuous around the world tour, “The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First!)” (October 2003–March 2005). It showcases photos from Erik’s travels around the seven continents prior to late 2003, including Australia, Peru, Botswana, Europe, North America, and Antarctica.

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ARTICLES

The Secret Life of Solo Trekkers

Gore-Tex presents Experience More, April 2016

Reflections on how traveling solo enriches your life, from prominent travelers around the world. (Gore-Tex presents Experience More, April 2016)

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The Splitboarding Show Must Go On

Gore-Tex presents Experience More, March 2016

A helmet can save your life when you’re learning how to splitboard in the northern California mountains during a warm winter. (Gore-Tex presents Experience More, March 2016)

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Of Dogs and Men, At Thirty Below

Gore-Tex presents Experience More, January 2016

Learning how to dogsled like the old mushers of Quebec, isn’t as easy as it seems. (Gore-Tex presents Experience More, January 2016)

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The Wild, Wild West Bank: A tale of Bedouins and bladders

Travelers' Tales: Best Travel Writing, March 2016

A narrative of hiking through the desert of the Palestinian West Bank with a partner who overhydrated — the “Bad Trip” Silver Certificate Winner in the tenth annual Solas Awards. (Travelers’ Tales’ Best Travel Writing, March 2016)

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Into the Abyss: A deep dive into an underwater art world

Adventure.com, April 2017

Scuba diving the underwater art galleries with works from Jason deCaires Taylor started in Grenada, but has made its way across the Atlantic. (Adventure.com, April 2017)

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Mountains and Motown: Why Kyrgyzstan left me speechless

Adventure.com, April 2017

A narrative about horseback riding and living with the locals in the Lake Issyk region of northern Kyrgyzstan. (Adventure.com, April 2017)

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Sourtoe Cocktail: A boozy challenge involving human remains

Adventure.com, April 2017

In the historic gold mining city of Dawson in the Canada’s Yukon, a particular drinking challenge involves a severed human toe. (Adventure.com, April 2017)

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5 Cycling Tours for Foodies

Furthermore from Equinox, April 2017

A round-up of culinary cycling tours, where you burn off what you eat, each day on a bike. (Furthermore from Equinox, April 2017)

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5 Best Places to Go Heli-skiing

Furthermore from Equinox, March 2017

A round-up of the best places to find powder via helicopter. (Furthermore from Equinox, March 2017)

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The Glutton’s Guide to Adventure

Tasting Table, April 2017

A round-up of six of the world’s best active culinary vacations. (Tasting Table, April 2017)

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The Other Side of Central Park

JetBlue's Out of the Blue, March 2016

New York’s Central Park is a popular spot for tourists, but the northern area beyond the crowds provides a more tranquil experience. (JetBlue’s Out of the Blue, March 2016)

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Trekking into Peru’s Colca Canyon

Gore-Tex presents Experience More, June 2015

Working in corporate America, there’s a good chance you’re all too familiar with the mental gymnastics of trying to figure out your allotted vacation/personal/sick days to maximize your time out in the world. Follow along on a story where cubicles are left behind for a taste of ultimate freedom. (Gore-Tex presents Experience More, June 2015)

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The Wild, Wild West Bank

Gore-Tex presents Experience More, September 2015

Hiking in the Palestinian West Bank is no easy feat—especially when you get lost and you’re low on water. (Gore-Tex presents Experience More, September 2015)

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Best Trips 2016: Philippines

National Geographic Traveler (print & digital), December 2015/January 2016

In every family, there’s always an odd one out—and in the clan of Asia-Pacific nations, that member would be the Philippines.

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No Snow? No Problem!

Drive - The Magazine From Subaru, Winter 2015/16

Sandboarding has become an increasingly popular sport, particularly in Colorado’s Great Dunes National Park. (Drive - The Magazine From Subaru, Winter 2015/16)

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Freeski To The Extreme

Drive - The Magazine From Subaru, Winter 2015/16

It takes a bit of fearlessness to tackle the backcountry when freeskiing the mountains of Telluride, CO. (Drive - The Magazine From Subaru, Winter 2015/16)

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Discovering Banff’s Next Door Neighbor

Gore-Tex presents Experience More, August 2015

Outside the popular Banff National Park, there are still spectacular sights and trails nearby. (Gore-Tex presents Experience More, August 2015)

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Ascending to the Roof of Africa

Gore-Tex presents Experience More, August 2015

Trekking to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro’s Marangu Route isn’t as easy as it seems. (Gore-Tex presents Experience More, August 2015)

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Where to Find Traditional Eats in Modern Macau

National Geographic Travel, October 2015

Behind the casinos of the “Las Vegas of the East” is the traditional cooking heritage of the Chinese region of Macau, a fusion of Portuguese, Chinese, and African influence.  (National Geographic Intelligent Travel, October 2015)

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Namibia’s Landscape Safari

National Geographic Travel, June 2015

Many African countries are known for their wildlife, but in Namibia, it’s all about experience the different landscapes. (National Geographic Intelligent Travel, June 2015)

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Enter the Sambadrome: Shimmying Through Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

Puddingstone Post, February 2015

An anecdote about participating in the big Carnival festivities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Puddingstone Post, February 2015)

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On Safari, Meeting Namibia’s Most Laid-Back Black Rhino

Puddingstone Post, November 2014

An anecdote about desert rhino trekking in Damaraland, Namibia. (November 2014)

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A Beer Drinker’s Guide to Oktoberfest

Puddingstone Post, September 2014

An anecdote about attending Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. (Puddingstone Post, September 2014).

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In Rwanda, Watching Gorillas In My Midst

Puddingstone Post, June 2014

An anecdote about gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. (Puddingstone Post, June 2014)

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La Tomatina, Valencia’s Biggest Food Fight

Puddingstone Post, August 2014

An anecdote about La Tomatina, the post-harvest tomato throwing celebration in Valencia, Spain. (Puddingstone Post, August 2014)

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In Pamplona, Run Like Your Life Depends On It (It Probably Does)

Puddingstone Post, July 2014

An anecdote about running with the bulls in Pamplona’s famous San Fermin Festival. (Puddingstone Post, July 2014)

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Watching “Hotel Rwanda” in the Hotel Rwanda

Puddingstone Post, May 2014

An article about genocide memorial tourism in Rwanda, commemorating the atrocities of 1994 (Puddingstone Post, May 2014)

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Glamping Review: Grootberg Lodge, Damaraland, Namibia

Glamping.com, March 2015

A review of the Grootberg Lodge, a resort in the Damaraland region of northwestern Namibia. (Glamping.com, March 2015)

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Glamping Review: Sabuk Lodge, Laikipia, Kenya

Glamping.com, February 2015

A review of the Sabuk Lodge, a resort in the Laikipia region of northern Kenya. (Glamping.com, February 2015)

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Pop Quiz: Can You Tell The Difference Between Fake Food And Real Food?

Epicurious, May 2014

A photographic quiz based on a visit to the Hangzhou Cuisine Museum in Hangzhou, China. (Epicurious, May 2014)

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Farm To Table: How Longjing Tea Is Hand-Processed In Hangzhou, China

Epicurious, May 2014

A tale about tea tourism in Hangzhou, China. (Epicurious, May 2014)

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Hardtail Rwanda

Gore-Tex presents Experience More, April 2015

Mountain biking down Rwanda’s western corridor brings adventure and cultural exchanges in a formerly war-torn African nation. (Gore-Tex presents Experience More, April 2015)

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How Angoulême, France Became a Street Art Capital

Condé Nast Traveler, May 2015

Street art is truly celebrated in the southwestern French town of Angoulême, the self-proclaimed “Capital of the Comic Strip.” In addition to a comic art school, museum, and annual international festival dedicated to bandes dessinée, it also has more than 20 commissioned murals. (Condé Nast Traveler, May 2015)

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Celebrate Your ‘Second Birthday’ Abroad

National Geographic Travel, September 2014

Name Day is a day celebrated in many Eastern European countries — particularly in Latvia, where this narrative takes place. (National Geographic Intelligent Travel, September 2014)

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To Mush or Not to Mush: Dogsledding in Québec

National Geographic Travel, December 2014

A narrative of dogsledding in the boreal forest of the Québec, Canada. (National Geographic Intelligent Travel, December 2014)

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Glamping Review: The Golden Eagle Tree House, Primland, Meadows of Dan, Virginia, USA

Glamping.com, April 2014

A review of the Golden Eagle Tree House, at Primland, a mountain resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia. (Glamping.com, April 2014)

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Glamping Review: Cottar’s 1920s Camp, Near Masai Mara National Park, Kenya

Glamping.com, March 2014

A review of Cottar’s 1920s Camp, near Masai Mara National Park in Kenya, for the discerning glamorous camper. (Glamping.com, March 2014)

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Heli-Skiing 101

National Geographic Travel, March 2014

A narrative of heli-skiing in the Bugaboos Range of the Canadian Rockies — from a non-experienced skier. (National Geographic Intelligent Travel, March 2014)

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DIY Olympics in the French Alps

National Geographic Travel, February 2014

A guide of winter Olympic activities in the French region that’s hosted the Winter Games three times — including the short-lived equestrian ski-joring. (National Geographic Intelligent Travel, February 2014)

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Going Dutch in the Off Season

National Geographic Travel, January 2014

A guide of some of the activities you can do in the Netherlands during the winter months. (National Geographic Intelligent Travel, January 2014)

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Making My Way Through Saguenay

National Geographic Travel, November 2013

A travel narrative about traveling through the Saguenay Fjord, and the culture of the locals found within. (National Geographic Intelligent Travel, November 2013)

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Authentic, Staged, or Somewhere in Between?

National Geographic Travel, October 2013

A narrative commentary on whether or not culture shows retain their authenticity when performed amidst tourists in Papua New Guinea. (National Geographic Intelligent Travel, October 2013)

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A Guide to Singapore’s Hawker Food Culture

National Geographic Travel, May 2013

A narrative guide to some of Singapore’s signature dishes, and the hawker food centers to find them. (National Geographic Intelligent Travel, May 2013)

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‘Gorillas in the Mist’ Amidst Gorillas in the Mist

National Geographic Travel, May 2013

An article about gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda — with an affinity for puns. (National Geographic Intelligent Travel, May 2013)

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Coffee Crisp and Panorama Cars: Riding and Dining Through the Canadian Rockies

Saveur, September 2012

An article about riding through the Canadian Rockies from Vancouver to Edmonton via rail — eating, drinking, and meeting friendly Canadians along the way. (Saveur, September 2012)

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In Kenya, Edward Norton’s “Club” Fights for the Environment, the Animals, and the Maasai

Discovery.com, April 2012

A look at the private conservation efforts outside the national parks in Kenya, and how it affects the local Masaai tribes. (Discovery.com, April 2012)

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How to Climb a Tree Like a Pro (or, How *Not* to Use Tree-Climbing Spikes)

Discovery.com, November 2011

A research report about the recreational sport of tree climbing, its techniques, its do’s — and its don’ts. (Discovery.com, November 2011)

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10 Tips for Taking Outdoor Photos

Discovery.com, October 2011

A round up of ten suggestions for taking more engaging photos in the great outdoors. (Discovery.com, October 2011)

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Geocaching for Beginners

Discovery.com, November 2011

A beginner’s guide to the world of geocaching, a real life treasure hunt game in which participants use GPS devices to locate over a million objects hidden around the world. (Discovery.com, November 2011)

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How to Quit Your Job and Travel the World

Discovery.com, December 2011

A step by step guide on how to tell your boss to “take this job and shove it” so you can follow your dream of traveling the world. (Discovery.com, December 2011)

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Along The Trail Of Brotherhood

Travelers' Tales: Best Travel Writing, March 2008

A gripping tale of survival from the Everest trail — the Adventure Travel Silver Certificate Winner in the second annual Solas Awards. (Travelers’ Tales’ Best Travel Writing, March 2008)

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Meet The Maharaja

Destination Elsewhere, April 2007

Landing a one-on-one interview with the Maharaja of Jaipur doesn’t necessarily give you the exclusive you’d hoped for.

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City Shorts: New York

National Geographic Traveler, April 2007

Spring time in New York spawns the arrival of retro Central Park Skate Circle, an outdoor throwback to the hey-day of the roller disco.

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Mistaken Identities

Filipinas, April 2006

When traveling around the world as a Filipino-American with an indeterminable ethnic appearance, blending in as a local of over thirty nationalities can be both a blessing and curse.

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Because Drinking Out Of The Bottle Is Gauche

Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, September 2005

In a “dry” country like Morocco, you learn how to improvise when you just have to have a glass of wine.

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The Season For Lookin’ Good On The Gauley

Chicago Tribune, September 4, 2005

When rafting the Gauley River in West Virginia, USA, surviving the raging whitewater rapids isn’t as nearly as important as looking good while doing so.

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Uluru (Ayers Rock) through Ancient Eyes

Travelmag, September 2003

Australia’s iconic rock formation is a sacred place, as seen by the Aboriginals who strive to keep it that way.

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Pretty In Pink

Travelers' Tales The Flying Carpet Editor's Choice, August 2003

At Montreal’s annual “Just For Laughs” comedy festival, slipping into a bra in public for comic value isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

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Growling Not Laughing

Travelmag, August 2003

With gruesome stories of hyena attacks on the brain, overcoming hyenaphobia is the hardest part of a safari through Botswana’s Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park.

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Taking The Polar Plunge

Lycos Asia Travel, July 2003

The ice cold waters off Antarctica’s shores don’t prevent the slightly-insane from taking a dip—or skinny-dipping either for that matter.

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Whiz Wit

BootsnAll.com, July 2003

Asking for a “whiz wit” is all a part of the jargon when ordering an authentic cheese steak sandwich at Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philadelphia, USA.

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Down Under & Out

BootnsAll.com, June 2003

In the country that brought the world Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, you can still take a “straight”-forward look into Sydney’s renowned gay scene.

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Candy From A Baby

BootsnAll.com, May 2003

In the economically-depressed city of Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2002, dealing with social unrest becomes a part of the journey.

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COCK-A-DOODLE-DIE!

BootnsAll.com, April 2003

In the Philippines, cockfighting is a national pastime, complete with big arenas, shouting fans, and betting gamblers.

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In the Rocky Mountains, the World is Your Oyster. Sort of.

BootnsAll.com, March 2003

In Colorado, Rocky Mountain Oysters are the ballsiest thing you can eat on the menu.

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Black Tie Affair

BootnsAll.com, January 2003

When you’re surrounded by the tuxedo-clad-looking penguins of Antarctica, any visit is a black tie affair.

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The Air France Fiasco

BootnsAll.com, December 2002

Nothing makes you crazed at the beginning of a trip to Europe than having the airline loose your luggage.

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Wipe Out!

New York Post, December 10, 2002

At the Mountain Creek ski resort in Vernon, New Jersey, USA, catching air from a big snowboard jump can impress the spectators—but landing is a different story.

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COPS In Uruguay

BootnsAll.com, November 2002

If you’re suave enough in Uruguay, you can talk any cop out of ticket.

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Follow That Bird

BootnsAll.com, October 2002

If you find yourself bored in Key Largo, look to the birds.

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When You Wish Upon A Star (Altitude Sickness Will Flee Far)

GlobeTrekkerTV.com, October 2002

With the undulating high altitudes of Peru’s Inca Trail, altitude sickness is an inevitable—but beatable—obstacle for some trekkers.

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When Good Parades Go Bad

BootnsAll.com, September 2002

A parade is always fun—until it turns out it’s not a parade and the riot police is releasing tear gas.

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The Little Ghetto Van That Could

BootnsAll.com, September 2002

Four days after Nine Eleven, you’ll do whatever you can to help out the recovery efforts in New York City.

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ENTRIES FROM THE GLOBAL TRIP BLOG CHRONICLES

Go Shorty, it’s your re-birthday…

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted July 12, 2003

“This is the best day of my life.”

That’s what I told the Chief Operations Officer Paul Finer of ACTV in my exit interview when I got laid off on June 19, 2003.  My Re-Birthday.

Continue reading...


Bye Bye Lycos!

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted July 27, 2003

Well, that was short-lived.  After just three weeks of my break out into the travelogue column scene at Lycos-Asia, it is no more.

Continue reading...


Wheels In Motion

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted July 28, 2003

AirTreks received my payment today for the first half of my flights, and the tickets are in the works.  I should have them in a couple of weeks.  I was only able to book the first half now, as airline ticket inventory only goes so far into the future.  The other half I’ll book on the way.  Perhaps by the halfway point my itinerary will be completely different, and I’ll just go where the wind takes me.  Only time will tell.

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To Plan or Not to Plan

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted July 30, 2003

So everyone lately has been asking me, “How’s the planning going?”  Well, the short answer is that there isn’t much planning at all…

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RTW People

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted July 31, 2003

Some may think my traveling around the world is a crazy idea, but in fact, outside the USA, it’s pretty normal.  Every time I’ve gone away before, I’ve always run into a Brit, Aussie, Canadian, or Kiwi that was on sabbatical for a year, touring the world.  They all thought I was crazy at the time for only going away for “two weeks.”

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61 Days To Go…

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted August 18, 2003

Well, according to my countdown on http://www.theglobaltrip.com/2004 , I leave in 61 days from the writing of this entry.  Am I excited?  Still, the answer is no.  In all the trips I’ve taken so far, it never really phases me that I’m going on a trip until 2 or 3 days of actually being in the destination already.  I don’t even get too excited at the airport because they’re all generic.

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The Human Pin Cushion

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted August 26, 2003

A couple of weeks ago, I called up my travel medicine doctor for an appointment for any immunizations I would need on my big trip.  The conversation went something like this:

RECEPTIONIST:  So how’s August 26th at 4pm?
ERIK:  That sounds good.
RECEPTIONIST:  Just tell me what countries you’re going to now, so I can look them up before you come.
ERIK:  Sure.  Um, you gotta pen?

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Thanks Alice and Rina!

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted September 01, 2003

I’d like to give shout outs to Alice Mao and Rina Cantimbuhan for pledging to my cause.  Thanks!

If anyone else is willing to pledge, you can do so by buying TGT apparel here:
http://www.cafeshops.com/theglobaltrip_p

or donating via PayPal to

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

.

Continue reading...


“Bon Voyage [Erik Trinidad]!  And Don’t Come Back!”

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted September 09, 2003

Hey all you blog readers and friendsters out there!  (Please tell me you get the joke in the subject heading.)

Anyway, SAVE THE DATE:  October 17, 2003.

That Friday night in New York City will be my big bon voyage party — quite possibly the biggest party I’ve ever thrown.  Those of you have been to one of my house parties may know what to expect.  Well, be prepared to expect the unexpected.

Details to come as the date approaches…

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T-Minus 23 Days… Back to the Doctor

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted September 25, 2003

Yes, I know I’ve been a blog slacker, but there really isn’t much to say.  (I’m still HOME you know.) 

The past couple of weeks, I really haven’t been planning the trip so much; it’s been a lot more of taking care of unfinished business before I leave — freelance jobs, prepping my car for sale, cleaning, etc. 

That’s not to say I have ignored trip planning altogether….

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Welcome to the All New TheGlobalTrip.com!

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted September 30, 2003

When I originally started this website last year, it was just supposed to be a simple, single page where travel editors could quickly review my clips of published work. 

Over the months, it has evolved into the place where people would come to see my videos and pictures, plans for my upcoming trip, and above all, that “Would You?” slideshow that seems to have been forwarded all over the world so far (and continues to be.)

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The Music in “Would You?”

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 05, 2003

Because so many people send me emails asking the same question, I’ve decided to answer it here:

Q:  What is the name of the song in “Would You?” and who is the artist?
A:  The name of the song is “Nara” and the artist is DJ/composer E.S. Posthumus. 

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Last Licks

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 11, 2003

Well, I’m officially within the 10-day countdown to The Global Trip 2.  The past couple of weeks has been less about planning the trip and more about finishing up things in New York — including being a tourist in my own home city and seeing things that I wouldn’t be able to see abroad, like the newly renovated Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History.  I have fond childhood memories of the great hall and its big lifesize model of a blue whale, and I just had to see it one more time in its new “underwater hall” environment.

Other than that, I’ve gone to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, done more barhopping in the Village, and even attended the last outdoor roller disco of the year in Central Park.  In a way, my tour around the world has already begun.

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A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned…

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 14, 2003

...but 35 lbs. (15.876 kg) of pennies, is how much earned?

I’ve had this empty tin can from Danish Butter Cookies that I’ve filled with pennies over the years, whenever I’ve remembered to.  Realizing that I’m about to leave for a really long time, it’s about time I cash it all in and see how much it actually is. 

How much do YOU think it’s worth?

Post your guess as a comment.  The closest guess without going over (Price Is Right style) gets a postcard!

Continue reading...


I Broke The Bank And All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 16, 2003

So I went the other day to Commerce Bank in Hackensack, New Jersey to cash in the 35 lb. (15.876 kg) can of pennies I had collected over the years, to see how much it would add to my trip finances.  Commerce has a machine that counts coins for you, targeted for kids (but not exclusive to them) called the “Penny Arcade.”  Basically, it’s like the CoinStar machines in the supermarkets, only free-of-charge and more accurate. 

The machine interface is a touch screen presentation with a cartoon character named “Penny” (of course) and she talks you through the process.  Penny told me to pour the contents of my jar, and so, I poured the entire 35 lbs. of pennies into the little orifice, probably only meant for a small piggy bank worth of coins.

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Missing: One Drunken Monkey

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 18, 2003

A tradition has developed between one circle of friends of mine:  when we all go out partying, whoever does NOT decide to go out that night is inundated with a series of drunken voicemail messages.  There’d always be at least one person who didn’t go out on a night of partying, and to this person (different every time), we’d call, pass a cell phone around, yell at them for not coming out and lay on the guilt trip.  And we’d always end the voice message with crazy monkey noises. 

My friend Mienri said it best when he said, “If everyone goes to your bon voyage party, who’s gonna get the drunken monkey noises?”

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Sinking In Like The Titanic

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 19, 2003

It is the night before I leave (well, technically, the morning of the day I leave) and I’m more or less all packed.  Leave it to me to wait until the last minute.  Once a procrastinator, always a procrastinator.  In fact, I only tried to reserve my hostel for my first night in Quito earlier today, with no reply just yet.

There is a weird feeling I have; part anxiety, part sadness.  Funny how on all my previous trips, the feeling of going away never really sunk in until three days into a trip, and here I am on the eve of The Global Trip 2004, feeling almost nauseous over what is about to happen.  (Or is it just the exhaustion of partying all weekend long?)  For months, I was notoriously nonchalant about everything, and now, it’s all happening so fast.  Never before have I embarked on such a grand — and long — trip.  But, as I’ve told people before:  “If you’re anxious or nervous, that’s why it’s gonna be good.”

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The Ups and Downs of Air Travel

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 20, 2003

DAY 1: After a crazed morning of last-minute packing, a run to the Home Depot for luggage locks and some Dunkin’ Donuts bagel sticks, I had a final lunch at Chili’s with my parents and brother, who all took the day off to send me off.  (You can all say “Aww…” in unison now, like the live studio audience used to do on Happy Days.)  I short drive down the New Jersey Turnpike, and we arrived at Continental Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport.

“Where is your returning ticket out of Ecuador?” the Continental Airlines attendant asked.

“Oh, I’m just gonna take a bus into Peru,” I answered.

“Where is the bus ticket then?”

“I was gonna get it there.”

“Immigration won’t let you into Ecuador without proof that you are leaving.”

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The Ecuadorean-Looking Gringo

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 21, 2003

DAY 2: I actually slept for a good nine hours, three times more than my usual back home.  Outside I could hear the pitter-patter of rain and cars and trucks whizzing by.  I just laid there for a while until I leaned over and noticed I had a roommate in the lower bunk across the way.  “Hello,” he said.

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Back to School

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 22, 2003

DAY 3: Yigal managed to leave for his 3am flight in the middle of the night without waking me or Judy.  The only thing that woke us up was the sun blaring through our window around 8am.

Judy and I had breakfast at the Magic Bean Cafe downstairs.  It didn’t occur to me until then that “Magic Bean” was a reference to the fact that it’s a coffeehouse as well, and I mean that in the coffee way, not the Amsterdam way, so there was no waking and baking.  I introduced Judy to Josh and Gordana, who were at the next table.  We all ate our free jugos, cafe con leches y “toasted bagels.”

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Old School

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 23, 2003

DAY 4:  I woke up an hour before class and was off to take a shower, when I ran into Anna, this girl from Nebraska that I met in the TV lounge the night before.  “Wanna get some breakfast?” she asked.  I saved the shower for later and went out with her.

We went wandering for a really cheap breakfast place.  “Most of the places in the gringo district are pretty expensive,” she said.  “I’ve been going to places about four blocks away where it’s a lot cheaper.”  We found a small sit down restaurant where a full breakfast — including bread, eggs, coffee and juice — was only a buck sixty.  “It’s funny when you think a whole two dollars is too much for a breakfast,” she said.

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Class Trip, Road Trip

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 24, 2003

DAY 5: I checked out of the hostel room around 8, managing not to wake up Lars, who was pretty much out cold anyway since he drank half a bottle of rum the night before in front of the TV.  I left my bag with Carlos in the office and went off to class.

Every Friday at the school, the second half of the morning classes go on a field trip somewhere in town.  A las once, four of us students, plus all of our teachers headed off to a museum of Ecuador’s history, in the Old City.  One of the students was a tall, lanky Dutch guy named Hugo, who towered about 6’5”.  He was one of those goofball gringos that didn’t care how embarrassed he’d get talking to locals, knowing that they’d just brush him off as a gringo.  Using his broken Spanish, he managed to buy candy off a blind man on the bus.

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Shopping Spree

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 25, 2003

DAY 6:  A rooster crowed around 5am and wouldn’t stop until we had no choice but to get up.  Navid sat in his bed all groggy-eyed.  “I hope that rooster ends up in a cock fight today.”

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Money Matters

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 26, 2003

DAY 7:  I learned a new expression in Spanish today:  “Su banco es esta fuera de linea.”  Translation:  “Your bank is off-line.”  I have decided this is my least favorite Spanish expression so far.

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Shit Happens

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 27, 2003

DAY 8:  I checked out of the Crossroads Hostel while everyone was still asleep and brought all my gear to class.  Class was more of the same — more verbs and vocabulary, and conversations with Rosa that went off in tangents.  During the break, I met a new student, an English girl on her first day of class, who — unlike everyone else I met so far — actually thought I was Asian and not Latino.  (She had just flown in to South America after six or so months wandering Southeast Asia.)

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When You’re Sliding Into First and You Feel Something Burst, Diarrhea…Diarrhea…

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 28, 2003

DAY 9: “El domingo pasado, miro una pelicula divertido sobre una abuela que tener una casa, pero ella le va a perder a menos que gana $250,000.  Entonces, su nieto juga golf — pero dice muchas malas palabras en el television!  Hubo un beep y beep y beeep…”

Translation:  “Last Sunday, I saw a funny movie about a grandmother who has a house, but she is going to lose it unless she earns $250,000.  So, her grandson plays golf — but says many bad words on the television!  There was a beep and beep and beeep….”

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My Big Fake Gay Wedding

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 29, 2003

DAY 10:  In South America, I’ve noticed that most of the hot showers are electric.  A pipe runs to a shower head which is connected to two electric wires, which run a power switch.  As water enters the shower head, it heats it before it comes down.

The problem I’ve found with this is, when a fuse blows in the house, like it did in the morning, the water immediately gets freezing cold right when you have shampoo all in your hair.  I blamed my iBook in the bedroom, which had been plugged in and rendering a video file for a New York client for the past two days.

If it’s not one thing with clients, it’s another.

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The Secret of My Success

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted October 30, 2003

DAY 11:  I think that I’m learning Spanish a lot quicker than the other students in school.  I don’t know if it’s because I took French in high school and the language is very similar, or because I come from Filipino heritage and Tagalog borrows many words from Spanish.  All I do know is that most students I’ve spoken to are doing way more written exercises in class (and for homework), while I’ve moved on to more conversational work.

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Virgin by Day, Witches by Night

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 01, 2003

DAY 12: Spanish class with my tutor Rosa was going pretty normal — we reviewed some more helpful verbs — until she mentioned a card game called Cuarenta, which is Ecuador’s national card game — so much that every year there are championships for money.  For the whole second half of my morning class, I asked her to teach me, and we just sat at the table playing cards.  We got weird looks from the other students and professors who were still trying to figure out the difference between the two verbs for “to be.”  It was a perfect way for me to “learn my numbers.”

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Erik Vs. The Volcano

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 01, 2003

DAY 13:  “Did you go out partying for Halloween last night?” a Danish blonde asked me in the back of a truck at 8:03 in the morning.  She saw that I looked pretty exhausted.

“Yup,” I answered all groggy-eyed, waiting for my coffee to kick in.  “And you?”

“No.”

“Ah, you’re smart.”

And so began my trip to Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world, just 90 minutes south of Quito by car.

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Pee On The Trees

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 02, 2003

DAY 14:  After breakfast, I updated The Blog at the German computer nerd’s internet cafe around the corner.  Outside, all the stores were closed for Sunday and even in GringoLand it looked like a ghost town.  Arne said it reminded him of the movie 28 Days Later.

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Mallrats

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 03, 2003

DAY 15:  My morning started as always: getting out of bed to take a piss.  However, this day it was different.  In the center of the bathroom, atop a small drain gate, were three turds.

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La Gripe

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 04, 2003

DAY 16: I woke up at about 3 a.m. feeling a little feverish.  I popped a couple of ibuprofen and went back to sleep.  I woke up around 7 with the sun feeling better, but still a little feverish, but managed to finish my homework.  I had to write a story in Spanish using as many of the new verbs that I had learned.  I wrote one about the final battle between a secret agent and an evil scientist — in the end, the secret agent defeats the him, but not after saying “Hasta la vista, PUTA!”

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Everything That Has A Beginning Has An End

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 05, 2003

DAY 17:  For the past week and a half, I had fallen into a routine in which I’d wake up, shower and have breakfast with Arne and Blanca.  Things were different this morning.  It was Arne’s last day in the house, since he was planning to move to his friend’s place a couple of days before he starting work in a hospital the following week.

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Ecuadorean Jedi

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 06, 2003

DAY 18: Back in the days when I had a 9-5 American corporate job, I was only allotted the miniscule vacation time of two weeks.  Two weeks, compared to other countries, is an embarrassingly short period of time and I would always use these two weeks to rush through a destination, doing one thing after the other after the other to pack it all in.  I slept very little in attempts to make two weeks seem like three.

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Movin’ Right Along

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 07, 2003

DAY 19:  I had my last breakfast with Blanca in the morning, which was a good and bad thing.  A good thing in that I was getting fresh food and a lot of it served to me on a ceramic platter with no effort on my behalf.  A bad thing because — just as every morning I’d been living there — it was way too much food for me so early in the morning and I almost had to force myself to eat the whole thing.  My stomach simply can’t handle a huge plate of fruit three inches tall plus an egg and bread and juice and a cafe con leche.  I think for once I would have actually preferred just having some McGriddles.

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Hot Bath

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 08, 2003

DAY 20: Baños is a town in a valley surrounded by lush green mountains, one of which gets really excited and ejaculates liquid hot magma every so often.  In 1999, the Volcán Tungurahua erupted, causing a major evacuation of the town, and since then the town has been on guard.  In Baños, after you look up the weather forecast, you look up the volcano forecast.

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The Gorge

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 09, 2003

DAY 21:  When I ran into Dutchman Hugo on my first night in Baños, he told me about his adventures since he left Quito, one about the time he and his friend Alberto were threatened to be beat up by a group of villagers unless they respectfully ate cuy (fried guinea pig) with them.  (They snuck out the back door and ran away.)

“Quito is weird because you go there and even though you are traveling, you aren’t traveling because it is just like any big city,” he said.  “Only when you leave Quito and start seeing the smaller Indian villages does the real traveling begin.”

By the time you finish reading this blog entry, you’ll see what he means.

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Liquid Hot Magma

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 10, 2003

DAY 22:  Navid had moved to my hostel since his other was too noisy, so it was easy to find him for breakfast.  We played a quick game of generic Jenga before looking for the other thermal baths of Baños on the outskirts of town.

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Crossroads of Ecuador

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 11, 2003

DAY 23: Whenever I’d walk around with Navid on the streets of Baños, newly arrived backpackers would always stand out with their big packs strapped to their backs and their smaller daypacks strapped in front.  This is like trying to simulate being both pregnant and a camel at the same time.

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A Trainful of Tourists

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 12, 2003

DAY 24: Once upon a time in Ecuador, the railway system was the fast way to go north or southbound through the Andean countryside.  Over the years, this railway system was replaced by the faster and cheaper bus network.  But there is one train that still runs, so that tourists can ride on the roof and take pictures of the countryside faster than the locomotive.

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For The Better of Humanity

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 13, 2003

DAY 25:  Being in Cuenca, Ecuador’s third largest city, is like being in Old Spain.  With its well-preserved Spanish colonial houses and cobblestone streets, it’s no wonder it was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999.  The red-roofed houses, the plazas and cathedrals make it one beautiful city with — I later discovered — beautiful women.

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A Day “On” in Cuenca

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 14, 2003

DAY 26:  In modern life, the “norm” is to work most of the time, with a day or two off to “smell the roses.”  Well, as I’ve been “smelling the Ecuadorean roses” all this time (as well as the bus fumes), I needed a day to just do some work.  So I took a day “on” in Cuenca.

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Defending Guayaquil

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 15, 2003

DAY 27: “You know what I heard?” Anita said at breakfast.

“What’s that?” I answered.

“That the train derails, for the tourists, so they can take pictures.”

I had met Anita in Spanish school in Quito, and we had both finished and headed south at about the same time.  She and her friend — I forget her name — were having breakfast at the cafe in my hostel in Cuenca and were planning to head to the Peruvian border afterwards.

“I’ll probably see you somewhere south,” I said.

“Most likely.”

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Line of Hope

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 16, 2003

DAY 28:  In Spanish, the verb esperar translates into two things in English: “to hope” and “to wait.”  This is especially noteworthy when you are waiting on the “Linéa de Espera” for a standby seat to open up for the Galapagos Islands at Guayaquil airport.  You wait on line and hope to get a flight.

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God Vs. Darwin

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 18, 2003

DAY 29:  Andre and I were lounging out on the hotel terrace, watching the sun rise over the bay as the sounds of ocean waves crashing into rocks filled the salty sea air.  Nearby, three seals were lazily sitting in someone’s boat.

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Alone in the Dark without Jesus

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 18, 2003

DAY 30: Andre was up by six to get the 7:15 shuttle bus & ferry back to Isla Baltra (where the airport is), to hop on his boat from there.  I assumed he got on the same bus as Chris as I stayed in bed for another hour.

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Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 19, 2003

DAY 31: When Andre moved out of our hotel room with a view of Pelican Bay, I was switched to a single which cost me $15/night.  However, this newer, more expensive room wasn’t worth its view of a brick wall, so I switched to the hostel Chris had lived in for only $6/night with windows that looked out to some palm trees.

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A Day at the Beach

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 20, 2003

DAY 32: Three kilometers west of Puerto Ayora lies Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay), with a white sand beach open to the public.  During the high season, I can imagine it being crowded with beachgoers and surfers, but it being the lowest of the low season, I had it all to myself.

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Idiot on Wheels

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 21, 2003

DAY 33:  Rosa, the old woman that ran the Los Amigos hostel, let me use the big sink in the yard to do my laundry.  We chatted for a bit while I scrubbed my underwear, about this and that in Puerto Ayora.  She seemed happy to talk to one of the travelers; most of them just kept to themselves and lived in a bubble, never interacting with their hosts unless they needed something.

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Ships Ahoy, But Not The Beer

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 29, 2003

DAY 34: To kill time before my 8:00 pm boat tour departure, I went back to Turtle Bay to chill out and read.  On my way down the winding path, I ran into Chris who was on his way back to town.  I chatted with the 63-year-old South African from Toronto until that uncomfortable silent lull you inevitably get when you bump into an acquaintance on the street and there is no good gossip to talk about.  Your options usually are to A) Talk about the nice or shitty weather; B) Scratch your ass; C) A followed by B; or what I did, D) Say, “Well, I’ll be seeing you.” 

He left for his flight back to the mainland later that day and I never saw him again.

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See Crabs and Sea Lions

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 29, 2003

DAY 35: The Galapagos Islands attracts many kinds of visitors, from retired American couples and their funny-looking beach hats and Bermuda shorts, to scuba divers and their funny-looking everything if they ever walked out on the streets with all their gear on.  I put all this gear on for my first dive at 5:45 in the morning off the coast of Isla Rabida.

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The War With Portugal

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 29, 2003

DAY 36: I was up on deck at sunrise before the others.  Manuel was there doing morning chores and I rapped with him for a bit.  We exchanged English and Spanish words until he saw something off the starboard side.

“Mira, hay tortugas que haciendo sexo.”  (“Look, there are turtles having sex.”)

And thus began my second day on a boat trip of the Galapagos.  (Others started by jumping off the side of the boat for a morning swim.)

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The Dating Game

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 29, 2003

DAY 37: There was a knock on the door at 5:45 in the morning.  It was Mauricio waking everyone up for an early sunrise pre-breakfast land excursion on North Seymour Island, land of frigate birds and blue-footed boobies, birds whose mere name makes little kids — and this author — snicker immaturely.

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The Land of Land Iguanas

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 29, 2003

DAY 38: Manuel was tidying up the lounge area in the morning while I was waiting for the first diving group to return.  He poured himself a drink and told me it was his wife’s birthday back at home.  “Salud,” he said as he raised his glass.

“Salud!” I reciprocated.  Funny, I had no idea he was married all that time.

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The Bird Slut

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 29, 2003

DAY 39: Each island of the Galapagos archipelago has its share of endemic species — species that are not found anywhere else.  Sometimes we’d be treated to a new animal, sometimes it was the same old marine iguana, sally lightfoot crab or the ever-popular sea lion (which never got tired.)  This was the case when we landed on the shores of Gardner Bay on Isla Española, the southern most island of all the Galapagos and walked along its white sand beach.  However, as Darwin discovered, Life finds a way to make things interesting.

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Postcards From A Weirdo

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 29, 2003

DAY 40: For my fourth and final scuba dive, I went underwater around Enderby Rock, a popular dive site off the coast of Isla Floreana.  It was a very good ending to my series of dives; I saw two Galapagos sharks, a huge school of baracudas, puffers, and sea turtles — all swimming around a beautiful coral reef grown over lava rocks.

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I Love Boobies

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 30, 2003

DAY 41:  Birgit and I were so used to the early morning wake-ups on the ship that we were both lying in bed awake at 6:30.  Birgit had developed a fever, so I lent her some of my medicine.  La Gripe was back.

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Escape from Paradise

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted November 30, 2003

DAY 42: I had a 9:30 airport shuttle to catch back in Puerto Ayora in the morning, which would have been an easy thing if I was there.  I woke up with the sun as always around 6:30 wondering how the hell I was going to get out of the Middle of Nowhere.  I laid in bed next to the girl I had only known for a couple of hours, figuring I’d wait til at least 7:00 to make any moves.

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Adventures in Border Crossing

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 02, 2003

DAY 43: Navid and I were out of the hostel in the Guayaquil suburbs before eight and caught a city bus to the main bus terminal.  A fake Christmas tree stood in the center of the main hall and for the first time, it was beginning to look a little like Christmas.

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On the Road Again

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 02, 2003

DAY 44: I bid a fond farewell to Navid when we left the hostel before eight in the morning.  He hopped on a mototaxi which brought him to the airport for his flights to Cuzco.  For the first time since I touched down in South America, I was alone again.

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Tomb Raider

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 08, 2003

DAY 45: In 1987, when most people were discovering the idea of boiling rabbits in Fatal Attraction, a group of archaeologists discovered new ruins just 30 km southeast of Chiclayo, Peru.  This find contained the tombs of Sipan, an ancient city of the Moche civilization, a people who pre-date the more widely-known Incas.  The reason for their decreased popularity is due to the fact that they didn’t leave any written records — which is sad because we will never know if boiling rabbits ever appealed to them.

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Eastward Ho!

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 08, 2003

DAY 46:  Since no roads go to the Amazonian jungle city of Iquitos, there are only two ways to get there:  by plane or — if you have time to kill like me — via a cargo boat up the Rio Marañon, one of the main tributaries that make up the mighty Amazon River.  The closest river port for these cargo ships is in the city of Yurimaguas which involves — as Lonely Planet describes — “a tiring road trip from the coast.”

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A Fresh Young Boy

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 08, 2003

DAY 47: The sun came up over Tarapoto and broke through the morning mist, revealing a pretty town surrounded by mountains.  I got dressed and sorted out and went looking for a place for breakfast — there was one on the fourth floor with a view of the city, and it was included in my fee.

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A New Shipmate

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 08, 2003

DAY 48: The sun broke through the river fog to reveal what I didn’t want to see: through my “first class” “window,” I saw that we still hadn’t left the port in Yurimaguas.

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Tally Me Banana

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 08, 2003

DAY 49: The sun was already up when our cargo ship stopped in Maripoto, a tiny village on the riverbank where the Rio Huallaga meets the Rio Marañon.  It was the first of many stops along the way where we picked up bunches and bunches of bananas.

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Houses On Stilts

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 08, 2003

DAY 50:  You would think that Amazonian city of Iquitos, the largest city in the world without any connecting roads, would be reminiscent of a lost Shangri-La or an ancient city out of a Tarzan set.  The fact is, Iquitos, the Amazon River’s first port during the rubber industry boom, now has over 500,000 residents and is a bustling modern city — it was evident as soon as we arrived at the port.

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Urban Jungle

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 09, 2003

DAY 51: Like Tarzan swinging from vine to vine in the jungle, I swung from person-I-could-possibly-trust to person-I-could-possibly-trust.  With the girls off on a flight back to Lima, I only had Richard to turn to for advice — which was a good thing in an urban jungle crawling with Shady Tour Men trying to make a quick buck.  Knowing a local also came in handy when I noticed the massive army that came marching into town in full attack gear with crossbows, missile launchers and machine guns.

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Welcome to the Jungle

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 15, 2003

DAY 52:  I bid farewell to the hostel desk attendant — who, hearing that I was from New York, assumed I was Puerto Rican — and rode with Andres to the docks.  He put me in a motorboat taxi for the three hour ride upstream on the Amazon.

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Monkey Business

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 15, 2003

DAY 53:  My lip had swollen down about half way from the night before, and sensation was coming back, which was a good thing being mistletoe season — not that there was any mistletoe around.  In the steamy jungle, it was the exact opposite of “looking a lot like Christmas.”

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In Deeper With A Really Big Knife

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 15, 2003

DAY 54:  Alone in my hut in my mosquito net tent, I heard rustling outside, followed by the sounds of small footsteps of monkeys.  Suddenly one of them landed on the roof of my mosquito net and so I grabbed my things and ran off to the main hut — not for fear of monkey bites, but that they’d steal my stuff.  When I got into the main hut, I saw that a monkey had gotten in and taken a scoop of rice before running off.

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Slimy Yet Satisfying

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 15, 2003

DAY 55: Juan and I woke at dawn and left our things in camp to go on a morning hike.  We walked along a trail, on logs, through creeks, looking at the different medicinal plants.  Juan showed me a coconut tree with small coconuts the size of a fist, which he cut open with his machete.  Inside were butterfly larvae that had hatched from eggs their mother had injected inside, to use the fruit and protection of the coconut to nurse them.

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Survivor: The Amazon

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 15, 2003

DAY 56: I woke up around three in the morning to the sound of a distant static.  Gradually the white noise got closer and closer until it started pouring rain in camp.  The wind blew out all the mosquito candles, leaving base camp completely dark.  Perhaps it was best this way because it hid the fact that, when I woke up in the morning, I found a tarantula in my bed frame.

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Amazon Dot Com

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 16, 2003

DAY 57: I was off to drop my laundry off in Iquitos to wash out the stench of vinegar-flavored yogurt and bug spray, when I ran into Richard on the street again.  It was weird, because the run-in didn’t feel random — it was like he was waiting for me to come out so he could ask if I wanted him to guide me to the zoo that he mentioned to me the week before.

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Looking for Christmas in Lima

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 16, 2003

DAY 58: Call me old-fashioned, but during the holiday season, I like it to feel a little bit like Christmas — you know, with the trees and decorations and people following shoppers leaving the mall to snatch their parking space, only to find out they were just dropping off bags in the trunk.  Being in the jungle city of Iquitos, I was far away from anything remotely resembling a stereotypical Christmas, and so it was time to move on.

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Across Lima and into Mordor

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 17, 2003

DAY 59: The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a phenomenon in many countries around the globe, Peru included.  Tolkien’s world is very much a part of Peruvian pop culture as it is in the States, and with the worldwide December 17th release of the third film, Peruvian nerds, like their North American and European counterparts, lined up in hordes to see El Retorno del Rey.  In fact, a front page article in the national newspaper El Comercio had a picture of the hundreds of Peruvian nerds who sat in theaters for ten hours straight watching all three movies back to back to back.

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The Taxis of Miraflores

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 18, 2003

DAY 60: Just south of Lima is the affluent oceanside suburb of Miraflores, a place that despite its fancy restaurants and hotels, is suggested as “the better place to stay for budget travelers” according to Lonely Planet.  Perhaps this is why the South American Explorers moved their clubhouse there, so it warranted a visit.

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A Pair of Turtles

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 20, 2003

DAY 61: I was writing a rough draft in the rooftop cafe of the Lima hostel early in the morning when two new pet animals, a pair of turtles, wandered in and walked under the tables and chairs.  It took sometime for the turtles to get anywhere.

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Sweet, Sour and Sandy

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 20, 2003

DAY 62:  Ica, capital city of the department of the same name, is known for two things:  its massive and dramatic surrounding sand dunes (picture below), and its pisco brandy and wine-producing vineyards.  The easiest way to see them both is with a city tour.  At just ten dollars, the tour wasn’t a bad deal considering the amount of free booze samples you get.  And what’s not to like about free booze?

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NAZCAR

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 21, 2003

DAY 63:  Nights in pisco country are great, but the mornings after aren’t so much.  With the absence of my usual greasy Hangover Helpers in New York — Union Square’s McDonald’s, Flatiron District’s Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop or Chinatown’s Wo Hop — I turned to the regional breakfast specialty, the Tamale Iqueño, a corn dough treat stuffed with pork, olives, beans and spices.  It might not have been greasy enough to make a sheet of paper transparent, but it did the trick.

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Where They Drew The Line

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 23, 2003

DAY 64:  I was lying in bed in the darkness of my room with no windows when there was a knock on the door.  It was my driver for my transport to the airport — an hour and a half early.  Lizet, the girl I booked the Nazca lines air tour with the day before, must have mixed something up, because I was suddenly on an 8 a.m. flight instead of a 9.  Groggily, I put on my clothes and hopped in the car.  It was the first time things in Peru actually ran ahead of schedule.

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On the Trail of Lara Croft

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 24, 2003

DAY 65: In 1996, the adventure video game Tomb Raider was born, starring the full-lipped, big-breasted virtual heroine Lara Croft.  The gun-toting Lara adventured around the world in search of artifacts like a modern, female Indiana Jones.  The popularity of the Tomb Raider video game spawned two movies in which the full-lipped, big-breasted virtual Lara Croft took the human form of Angelina Jolie.

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Horses for Hangovers

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 25, 2003

DAY 66:  It’s one thing to be hungover after a night of boozing, but it’s another to be hungover when you haven’t yet acclimatized to the thin oxygen 11,000 ft. above sea level.  I woke up feeling just awful (but with no regrets) and laid in bed questioning why I was alive — Lara felt the same way.  We weren’t sure if it was the pisco or the altitude, but perhaps it was a little from Column A and a little from Column B.

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Christmas in Cusco

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 25, 2003

DAY 67: I woke up to the sound of firecrackers in the streets early in the morning — the kids had been setting them off all night.  For me, the sounds of Christmas morning sounded more like the sounds of the Fourth of July.

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Catch Him If You Can

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 26, 2003

DAY 68:  Some people would say that the best invention since sliced bread is the “snooze” button.  You know it and its contribution to Mankind — why wake up and face reality when all you have to do is simply push a button and stay in dream land another ten minutes?

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Two Women, A Llama and The Bird

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 27, 2003

DAY 69:  I was having breakfast at the cafe across the street from the hostel when I noticed the same two women I had noticed at various places in town almost everyday.  They were two local women who dressed in traditional Andean clothes that walked around with a llama, asking tourists if they wanted to take their picture for a small fee.  The Ecuadorean group in the cafe ran out to pose with them, while I stayed inside and finished my yogurt, fruit and granola bowl.

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The (Andean) Village People

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 28, 2003

DAY 70: “Guess what,” I asked Lara at an early morning breakfast before our day trip to the Sacred Valley.  “I got a traditional Andean band to play ‘Y.M.C.A.’ tonight at 8:30.”

“Excellent,” she said.  We were both looking forward to it.  I even sent out an e-mail to The Ohio Boys about it in case they got back from Machu Picchu in time.

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The Redemption Cookie

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted December 29, 2003

DAY 71:  I was up by seven o’clock in the morning to see Lara off before she left with her transport to her 4-day/3-night trek to Machu Picchu — a trek I had already done in 2001.  It was her goal to ring in 2004 by entering the “lost” city of the Incas on the morning of New Year’s Day.  She left the hostel by 8 a.m. with her new fleece, the cheesy water bottle holder I got her for Christmas and rations of Twix bars and Oreos.

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New Friend For New Year’s

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted January 01, 2004

DAY 72:  Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city, is nestled in the valley of three volcanoes.  The lava of these volcanoes have hardened over geological history to form the white-colored rock known as sillar, which many of the buildings were made of — hence, Arequipa’s nickname, “The White City.”

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Decisions

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted January 02, 2004

DAY 73:  MY LAST DAY OF 2003 started at one o’clock in the morning.  My alarm woke me up twenty minutes before my 1:20 pick up from my guide who would take me and Heidi down Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world, with the lowest point at a depth of 10,433 ft.  A knock on my room door at 1:15 signaled me that my guide was running five minutes early, and so I grabbed my smaller bag — my bigger was locked in storage — and hopped in the taxi with him.  The taxi driver drove us to Heidi’s hostel, where we picked her up before continuing onto the bus terminal.

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New Year, New Adventure

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted January 02, 2004

DAY 74: Usually I wake up on New Year’s Day hungover, with a feeling like I am at the bottom of the deepest canyon in the world.  When I woke up at 4 a.m. feeling that same way, I realized, “Holy crap man, I am at the bottom of the deepest canyon in the world!”

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My First Stolen Item

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted January 02, 2004

DAY 75: Being in a No Internet Zone (aka N.I.Z.) for two days or more often forces me to take an entire day to sit in front of a computer to catch up on The Blog.  On my last day in Arequipa, that’s what I did.

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Bargain Hunter: Puno

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted January 05, 2004

DAY 76: Dave the Australian was up and out of our room by 7:15 in the morning, less than four hours since we checked in, for his day tour of Lake Titicaca.  He left me a ten soles note on my bedside, and with the exchange rate, I felt like a Two Dollar and Eighty Six Cents Peruvian Whore.

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School Days On The Titty Side

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted January 05, 2004

DAY 77:  Lake Titicaca, the lake that Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening once called a place whose name is guaranteed to make kids snicker, lies on the border of Peru and Bolivia at an elevation of over 12,500 ft above sea level — one of the world’s highest lakes.  Rachel, a 22-year-old Chicago native working in northern Peru — and my new roommate for the day — told me that Peruvians say that the Peruvian side is the “Titty” side, while the Bolivia is the “Caca” side.  Now if that doesn’t make the kids in your life snicker, I suggest you start making fart noises with your armpit.

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The Orange Hat

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted January 05, 2004

DAY 78:  I woke up on a rainy morning on Isla Amantani feeling a little bit better from the night before.  Basilia came to our room with a breakfast of bread, eggs and muña tea, and then bid us an early goodbye.  “[I have to go to work,]” she explained.  Rachel gave her the gifts of such groceries as cooking oil and rice before she head off.

“That goodbye was pretty anti-climactic,” I commented.

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Saved By A Twelve-Year-Old

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted January 06, 2004

DAY 79:  I was awake by 6 a.m. feeling a little bit better from my illness.  I ate a mango for the extra vitamins and gathered all my belongings.  As always, I was amazed when I looked around the room to see if I forgot anything, only to realize that everything I would need to get by on a round-the-world trip fit conveniently in two bags.

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Jackie Chan to the Rescue

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted January 07, 2004

DAY 80:  Still feeling sick, I just slept in my hostel dorm bed all morning to recuperate.  Joel the Australian chemistry student probably thought I was lame because instead of staying a couple more days to hang out like we were planning, he decided to ditch me and the city of La Paz and head south with a bus ticket.

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Making Peace With La Paz

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted January 09, 2004

DAY 81:  From what I’ve gathered, my initial reaction to La Paz is similar to many other travelers, that it’s just a big crowded city with no vibe or coolness factor.  However, things started looking up when I left my hostel in the middle of dark alley to a new one in a livlier part of town, which had some amenities that the other one didn’t: hot water, toilets that flushed all the time and the absence of some guy who would sing loud opera tunes early in the morning.

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Journey to the Moon and the Zoo and Brazil Three Times

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted January 10, 2004

DAY 82:  Before I left New York in October 2003, I didn’t have any visas — as an American, I can freely travel to most countries, in the tackiest clothes if I choose.  Brazil is one of the few countries in South America that actually requires a visa for Americans, and with Rio de Janeiro’s famous Carnivale coming soon, it was about time I got one.

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Coca Puffs and Llama Fetuses

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted January 12, 2004

DAY 83: Bolivia has been blamed for supplying the international drug trade with its coveted coca leaf — which is processed with ether and a bunch of chemicals to produce cocaine.  However, the coca leaf in its natural form has been infused with Bolivian culture for centuries.  Years ago, one of the first things a family would build right after a house to live in was a coca garden, as coca leaves were an integral part of Bolivian life. 

All this information was given to me at a visit to La Paz’s Coca Museum, where Lara, Tim and I went in the morning.

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DISPATCHES

Heading to Central Asia

Here I go again on my own — this time to Borat’s home country.

 

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Up in Smoke

My flight landed in Almaty, Kazakhstan around 5 a.m. It was still dark outside when I entered the meeting area with all the taxi drivers and I couldn’t find a sign with my name on it. (I had asked the hotel I had a reservation at to send a driver since I’d be arriving at an odd hour.)

ME TEXTING HOTEL: Is the driver here?
HOTEL: yes
ME: I don’t see a sign but I am by the door next to the cell phones in a green hat
HOTEL: hi he has been waiting for you 40 min and he said he didn’t find you and left
ME: The plane was delayed and immigration took 25 min.
HOTEL: and Eric there is a hassle in our hotel. At night there is a fire has occured in the hotel. we are here if you want you may come here. to the hotel. we are outside of the hotel

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Morning Drive

I’m in a stranger’s car (one of my host’s friends) and we just got pulled over by the cops. I’ve only been in Kazakstan for four hours.

 

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Running Errands

Somehow I managed to get dragged to an auto parts and supply mall.

 

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Battle of Wits

Lunch in Almaty involves meat with fried egg and polenta.

 

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Horse Milk Time at the Green Bazaar

Mürat gets us a liter of fermented horse milk. “It’s healthy. It will make you stronger. Also, you might feel a little drunk.”

 

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Not Your Borat’s Kazakstan

Some Kazakh kids playing on some former artillery — at the Park of the 28 Guardsmen (of World War II).

 

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Watching Borat

This isn’t really one of my usual travel puns, but I’m watching Borat in Kazakhstan. (VIDEO)

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Heading South to the Mountains

The crowded #12 bus takes me (and this guy who caught me trying to take a sneaky photo) to the snowcapped Zailisky Alatau mountain range, just 20 minutes out of the city.

 

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Enter Shymbulak

The slopes of Shymbulak Ski Resort — one of the sites of the 2011 Asian Winter Games — won’t open for another month, but the gondola is still open to take people to the hiking trails and resort restaurants at the top.

 

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Day Hike

This road eventually turns into a hiking trail.

 

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Fancy Nomad Food

Kuyrdak, a traditional Kazakh stew from the nomadic era, is made from horse meat and liver with onions, peppers, and potatoes. It sure looks fancy when served on an fine white plate.

 

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To Kok-Tobe

Another public bus to another mountain. Also, when I crop my nose out like this, I sort of look like a Muppet, amirite?

 

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God Almaty!

God Almaty! It’s a hazy albeit spectacular sunset over the city of Almaty.

 

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Home-Cooked Meal

Home-cooked meal: My host Alisher had some extra Laghman for me — a national dish with thick noodles, meat, and veg in a thick beef broth. Erin and Cale, a young Aussie couple also staying at the apartment because they too were refugees of the other hotel’s fire, declined because they are vegetarian. #moreforme

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Switching Stans

My weekend jaunt in Almaty, Kazakhstan was short but sweet. Now I’m watching action movies on the minibus to my next Stan: Kyrgyzstan.

 

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Visas and Taxis

Stressful times at the Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan border: We disembarked the minivan to go through immigration as per usual. Everyone else in the transport was local, so it was just me being hassled. At the Kazakh exit, the officer kept asking where my visa was. He apparently didn’t get the memo that as of July 14, 2014 (mere months ago), Americans don’t require a visa for Kazakhstan. I argued I didn’t need it and he stamped me out.

 

 

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Welcome to Bishkek

Sidewalk flower vendors at the intersection of Moskovskaya Street and Yusup Abdrahmanov Street.

 

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Kyrgyz Food

Local Kyrgyzstani cuisine includes Boso Laghman, which is not unlike beef lo-mein from your favorite Chinese take out place — at Bosmoka, serving local dishes and fast food 24/7.

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Through the Ala-Too

The sun rises over the mountains as my driver Azamat (coincidentally the name of Borat’s driver/producer) takes us out of Bishkek and into the countryside in a Honda Fit. “Almaty is more European. Bishkek is not so much. When you’re here, you go to the mountains,” he tells me.

 

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Meet Baha

The local CBT office (for Community Based Tourism) leads me to Baha, my horseback riding guide for the next new days. He speaks Kyrgyz and a little Russian but no English.

 

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High on Horses

As we ascend higher on horseback, Lake Issyk-Köl comes into view with the snowy peaks of the Ala-Too mountain range behind.

 

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Kyrgyz Hospitality

Home-cooked meal: a stew of mutton, potatoes, veg and barley.

 

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Along Lake Issyk-Köl

Lake Issyk-Köl is the world’s second largest alpine lake, after Lake #Titicaca in Bolivia and Peru. The northern shore is mostly beach clubs, bars, and resorts, but the southern shore is much quieter. Back in the 1960s-70s its surrounding area was known for opium and cannabis production. (And I thought it was this pure lake for nomadic people.)

If you’ll notice in the back of this photo, several peaks of the Ala-Too mountains jut above the clouds. #jaqshe

 

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The Issyk-Lake House

Accommodations for the night: another local homestay arranged by CBT, where your money goes directly to the community. This one isn’t in a village; it’s more like a standalone shelter in the middle of nowhere, near the lake. There is no electricity and the only way to get cell reception is to hike up the hill behind it and walk a few dozen meters with your phone in the air.

 

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Horsing Around

Enter the canyon.

 

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Home on the Range

The last leg of our three-day horse trekking journey is through a big valley where we first started. Baha leads me to his home in Jaichy, seen in the distance.

 

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One Night in Bishkek (And the World’s Your Manti)

Like Kazakhstan’s Almaty, Kyrgyzstan’s Bishkek is a city flanked by Tian Shan mountains, where hiking and ski resorts are a short drive away.

 

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To Fly or Not to Fly: Kyrgyzstan

To get to southern #Kyrgyzstan, you can either get a shared taxi and ride on treacherous mountain roads for 14 hours, or take a 35-min flight above the Ala-Too mountains for $20 USD. (I opted for the latter.) Twenty dollars gets you a reservation on the plane, $5 gets you a seat reservation, and three more dollars get you extra leg room. I “splurged” and paid $28, just for this view. (VIDEO)

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Intro to Osh

Folklore says that the city of Osh, once a hub for the Silk Road, was founded by King Solomon or Alexander the Great. Over the centuries, it’s been destroyed and rebuilt, and today it’s a vibrant city and college town that’s not as cosmopolitan as Bishkek. One thing that has remained constant over the years is Suleiman Too, the huge five peak crag that stands in the middle of the city. It’s hard to miss.

 

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Do You Suleiman Too?

Sacred Suleiman Too.

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Osh Bazaar

The bazaar in Osh is one of Central Asia’s largest, with stalls selling everything from clothes to sacks of potatoes to fresh meat.

 

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Adventures in Border Crossing: Into Uzbekistan

I had been told that the crossing from Kyrgyzstan into Uzbekistan would take a long time with crowded, so I decided to try and beat the rush. After a rice porridge breakfast at the Biy Ordo Guesthouse with a couple of dudes who’ve been bicycling through the Stan’s for six months, I took a taxi for the 15-minute ride to the border. It’s not nearly as crowded as I thought; it’s only just before 9am. Only me and an Uzbekistani woman walk to through the first gate.

 

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The Birthday Host

Akmal, friend of @gldncrl, invited me to stay with him, his wife, and daughter, at their home in Tashkent. When I arrive, there are already some dishes on the table. There is spicy picked tripe that has a familiar taste to me. “Is this Uzbek?” I asked him.

“Korean. This is a big Korean neighborhood,” he tells me.

 

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Make It Rain

It’s a known fact in Uzbekistan that exchange rates on the black market are better than national bank rates. Everyone knows a guy, or knows a guy who knows a guy, so Akmal brings me to his. Five hundred US dollars gets me over a million and a half Uzbekistani som, and I become a millionaire in an instant.

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Tashkent: A Proper City

Seeing the many tree-lined streets and park fountains on a pleasant autumn Sunday, I start to form my initial thoughts on the sprawling capital city of Tashkent. Akmal drives me around town to give me an overview before I head out on foot.

“It’s huge,” I tell him, especially when comparing it to Almaty.

“Almaty is tiny,” he says. “This is a proper city.”

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Exploring Tashkent

To the uninformed, it would seem that the giant green dome of the Old Town is of a place of worship. However, inside is the huge meat market at Chorsu Bazaar with dozens of butcher stalls. I guess it still is a place of worship — if you’re a carnivore.

 

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Farewell Akmal

Akmal had been such a great and helpful host for my stay in Tashkent. (Thanks for the introduction, @gldncrl!) To thank him and his family, I took them out to dinner, to this new place down the block they hadn’t tried yet. It had outdoor seating, and two indoor areas, one of which evolved into a dance club where a bunch of dudes got down on the dance floor to Arab dance tunes mixed in with Lil Jon’s “Turn Down For What.” (VIDEO)

 

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Fast Train to Samarkand

A police officer stares out the window as the Afrosiyub high-speed train travels from Tashkent to Samarkand.

 

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The Silk Road: On the Beaten Path

It’s funny that to the American audience, most people don’t see Uzbekistan as a cultural sightseeing vacation destination. However, to many other countries — many European because of proximity, I gather — it very much is “ON the beaten path;” with a plethora of restored historical sites, modern cities that surround them, and a decent travel infrastructure, people arrive in hordes by the busload — literally.

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Three Taj Mahals For The Price of One

The Registan is the centerpiece of historic sites in Samarkand, or in all of Uzbekistan, or as my guidebook argues, all of Central Asia. It’s a massive three-building complex, so big that I can’t fit it all into frame, even from the observation platform the government made for wide shots. Each of the three madrasahs has its own courtyard and peculiarities. Together, they served as the big commercial, intellectual, and cultural hub of Central Asia. The experience of being there is like going to three grand Taj Mahals next to each other for the price of one.

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Encounters on Tashkent Road

It’s really easy to get to all the main “101” sites in Samarkand’s Old Town. Tashkent Street is a tree-lined walking promenade that links them all. It’s sort of like following the Yellow Brick Road, only in grey.

 

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The Story of Bibi-Khanym

The Bibi-Khanym Mosque, was once the Islamic world’s biggest. It’s actually a complex of three mosques, but the original was one ordered by Amir Temur’s Chinese wife, Bibi-Khanym, as a surprise while he was away pillaging as conquerors do.

Legend has it that the architect of the mosque fell in love with her and wouldn’t finish the job unless they kissed. Obviously this did not go well with Temur when he got back, and he since decreed women to wear veils so this temptation could not happen again.

 

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An Uzbek’s Conception of the Philippines

Two Muslim women lean on the wall, most likely contemplating life like Charlie Brown and Linus do, at Hazrat-Hizr Mosque.

 

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Promenade of Mausoleums

Shah-i-Zinda is not just a cemetery, it’s a showcase of some of the most intricate mosaic and tilework of the Muslim world. Walking through this initial “canyon” of mausoleums brings you to a promenade of other resting places of prominent people. This picture was taken before a busload of Chinese tourists arrived.

 

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My Crown Jewel of Samarkand

I walk back down Tashkent Street the way I came, go through a park, and end up near my hotel, where I started. It’s much later in the day, and the bus crowds have subsided at the famed Gur-E-Amir Mausoleum. When I get there, it’s just a few people and a toddler walking the grounds. He soon realizes he’s lost and starts yelling for his mother, who is just out of frame.

 

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Brooklynites in Samarkand

“This will be the first time I don’t take pictures of my food,” said the older American man across from me at the dinner table, back at the Antica B&B where I was staying. He had just come from spending a few days in a remote, less-frequented village in the mountains, and it was a culture shock for him to be seated at a proper dinner in civilization, with other people. It was a bigger shock that in our conversation, we found out that he was not only American, and not only from New York, but also from Brooklyn. “By relocation,” he said.

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Thanks to My Uzbek Connection

Thousands of miles away in northern India, my friend @Gldncrl — who had introduced me to Akmal in Tashkent — is on her way to Bhutan, when she realizes something about the Hotel Antica, where I’d mentioned I was staying at in Samarkand. She sends me a group Facebook message with “Diora,” just as I’m waking up.

“Hi Erik, Diora’s family runs hotel Antica. She also knows Davlat, who you met in NYC. I wrote her another message trying to find out if she is in Samarkand. If she is you should meet!”

This excites me: “We met yesterday!”

“Omg!”

 

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Registon of Savings

Old and New: Across the street from the historic Registon, is the big Registon supermarket. It’s a registon… of savings!

(FYI: Registon, Registan. It can be spelled both ways since the “o” has an “a” sound in these parts.)

 

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The Puppy of Ancient Afrosiyob

When I arrive at the Afrosiyob museum, I’m greeted by a little puppy. (VIDEO)

 

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Renaissance Man

This is Mirzo Ulugbek (a statue of him anyway), grandson of the great Amir Temur, who ruled from 1394–1449. Although a ruler in the 488-year-long Temurid dynasty, he was more known as a Renaissance Man, valuing the importance of music, art, math, and particularly astronomy in his society. He looks rather regal in this statue, especially when not surrounded by wedding parties.

 

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Lost Backpacker

“Do you speak English?” a confused backpacker approached me with. I could tell he was backpacking with his big pack on his back and daypack strapped over his chest. (I believe I used to call this a “two-sided camel” on my old blog, before it got reincarnated as a social media feed on Instagram and Facebook.)

“Yeah,” I answered. I saw that he was some sort of Asian, and — I’m guilty of it too — assumed he was Japanese. Turned out he was Malaysian, the ethnicity I’ve been getting mistaken for in Uzbekistan after Japanese.

 

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My Big Fat Uzbek Wedding

Wedding time. 

 

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Night Train to Bukhara

The night train from Samarkand to Bukhara. It appears to be an old Soviet train, and I have flashbacks of my journey on the Trans-Siberian from my original Global Trip ten years ago. There’s a corridor with a hot water station at the end, and sleeping compartments. (Thankfully there is no one pulling a gun on me like that time in Siberia.)

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Welcome to Bukhara

Bukhara, another main stop on the Silk Road tourism trail in Uzbekistan, was once an oasis capital where many a caravan passed through. Today it’s full of many historic buildings from those ancient and medieval times, from madrasahs to mosques to minarets. A lot smaller than Samarkand, the vibe is a lot more laid back, with many of the historic areas in and around residential neighborhoods. It’s also full of people getting around on bicycles.

 

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Tourists of the Lost Ark

The Ark of Bukhara was once Bukhara’s grand citadel, from the 400’s to the 1920s. That’s quite a long run, and it might have gone longer if the Soviets didn’t bomb it.

 

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Wandering Bukhara

The Bolo-Hauz Mosque from 1718 is still a functioning place of worship today.

 

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Just Browsing in Bukhara

The main bazaars on the historic path are housed in old arcades as they were in the Silk Road days, which kept traders in the shade from the hot sun. Nowadays, vendors sell cliché souvenirs to tourists, from scarves to ceramics. — at Taki Telepak Furushan Bazaar

 

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Minarets, Mosques, and More

Char Minar, which translates to “four minarets,” is not near a mosque. In 1807, it was the gateway to a madrasah, but now houses a souvenir shop in what is otherwise a residential neighborhood.

As I was leaving the area, people in a small Japanese tour group greeted me, “Konichiwa.”

 

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Three Amigos

I was just finishing up my plov and yangilik (an Uzbek dill-ladened salad with potatoes, cucumbers, coriander, and green peas) along with a beer on the rooftop terrace of the Minzifa restaurant, overlooking the roof of the Taki-Sarrafon bazaar.

“It’s okay, you can turn down bread,” I said to the solo traveler I’d noticed that had just been seated at the table across the way. He had just turned down the bread the waiter offered, just as I had.

“Every meal comes with bread and it’s a bit too much,” he said.

And with that said, the ice was broken.

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When It Rains, Set Your Balls on Fire

While it rains, I head to the ancient indoors of Bozori Kord, a 16th-century Bukharan hammam. Light peers through the skylight to illuminate the stone and brick work that looks centuries old (because it is) and that’s part of the charm. History aside, Bokori Kord is still a proper hammam for men in the mornings and co-ed (in separate rooms) during the rest of the day.

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Ladies Who Lunch and Laugh

Laghman for lunch at Chinar.

 

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Lost Out of Bukhara

Moritz, who I met the evening before, told me that it’s worth checking out the Emir’s Summer Palace, an eclectic collection of buildings about 5 miles out of town. He told me it would be a good change of scenery since after so many mosques and madrasahs, they start looking the same. I could have taken a marshrutka (mini bus) there, but I rented a bike instead, figuring it wouldn’t be too far. However, things are easier said than done.

 

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Back in Bukhara for Beers

Back in Bukhara, a fisherman tries his luck at the pool of Lyabi-Hauz, across from the Nadir Divanbegi Khanaka.

 

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Taxiing Through The Desert

Akbar, the manager of the Hovli Poyon B&B in Bukhara, had been asked by Akmal in Tashkent to arrange a taxi for me to my next city on the Silk Road trail: Khiva. But there was some sort of misunderstanding; he hired me a PRIVATE taxi for $100 for the 6+ hour drive — the fastest, most common and “convenient” way to get there — but I thought I’d just be getting help locating a shared taxi for a fraction of that cost.

(The train between Bukhara and Khiva is no longer in service, and flying there requires a pricey ticket back to Tashkent, a three hour layover, and another flight to Khiva, i.e. the same amount of travel time, at four times the price.)

 

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Khiva: From Dusk ‘Til Dawn

A bird flies amongst the minarets as dusk approaches in old Khiva.

 

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Minarets on a Movie Set

Khiva, once known as a brutal slave trading post on the ancient Silk Road, is now a showcase city on today’s Silk Road tourism trail. Its monuments are very well-preserved, so much that it feels like being on a movie set for a period piece. This man wearing a traditional fur hat in front of the Kalta Minor Minaret could be an extra if it was.

 

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More Mosques, Madrasahs, and Mausoleums

Kids on bikes, outside the Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum.

 

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The Wedding Dancer

The temperatures cooled off in the Kyzylkum Desert, it’s wedding season in Khiva as it was in the other cities I’d visited. Throughout the day, more than a dozen wedding parties paraded around the old city, each stopping outside the museum of music where a music shop owner/DJ played a couple of tracks for the party to dance to — primarily men while the bride just watched. (VIDEO)

 

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I Wear Many Hats

There are several vendors in old Khiva selling hats made of Uzbek fox fur, sheep leather, and/or wool. (Cotton is also a big industry in Uzbekistan.) I have my eyes on one in particular, so I inquire for a price, after trying on many hats. The teenager running the stand quotes me $50.

 

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Last Sunset in Central Asia

Outside the west gate, a little kid gets stuck in a big vase.

 

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Final Moments with a Familiar Face

For my last few moments in Khiva, I headed to Bir Gumbaz, this centrally-located outdoor/indoor cafe where every indie traveler seemed to end up at since all other options were already closed for the season. It was there that I’d had dinner with a German/Russian couple I’d met in Samarkand the night previous, but my final evening was in solitude — until a familiar face showed up.

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ABOUT ERIK R. TRINIDAD

When he’s not making a living as an interactive/motion designer or playing with fast food, Erik R. Trinidad is a travel writer, blogger, video host and producer focusing on adventure and culinary content. His work has been featured on National Geographic Intelligent Travel, Adventure.com, Discovery.com, Saveur, Condé Nast Traveler, and Hyenas Laughed at Me and Now I Know Why, which also includes the work of Tim Cahill, Doug Lansky, Jennifer Leo and Rolf Potts. He has also referenced his travel experiences in his solo book, Fancy Fast Food: Ironic Recipes with No Bun Intended.

For over ten years, Erik has traveled to the seven continents of the world — from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo — with a curiosity for exotic foods and a thirst for adventure (and writing material).  In his travels, he has been mugged at knifepoint in Cape Town, extorted by corrupt Russian police on the Trans-Siberian Railway, stranded in tornadic storms in the American midwest, and air-lifted off the Everest Trail by a helicopter that was thankfully paid for by his travel insurance.  But it hasn’t been all fun; he has also donned a tuxedo amidst the penguins of Antarctica, paraded with Carnival-winning samba school Beija Flor in Rio, run for his life at Pamplona’s “Running of the Bulls,” cage-dived with great white sharks, gotten shot point-blank in the stomach in Colombia (while wearing a bulletproof jacket), and above all, encountered many people around the world, including some Peruvian musicians in Cuzco who learned and played “Y.M.C.A.” at his request. He loves the irony that, after everywhere he’s been, he has never been to Mexico.

Erik writes stories and news articles when he’s at his base camp in New York City, and continues his blog when he is on the road — provided he’s not occupied tracking down lost luggage.

Additional news/article clippings at ErikTrinidad.com.



See Erik talk about travel in an American Express ad:



Read about Erik in this feature article from Filipinas magazine by National Geographic Traveler Associate Editor Amy Alipio.



The views and opinions written on The Global Trip blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official views and opinions of the any affiliated publications.
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