Hung On The World: Blog http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog en-us (C) Hung On The World hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) Thu, 13 Apr 2017 04:56:00 GMT Thu, 13 Apr 2017 04:56:00 GMT http://www.hungontheworld.com/img/s/v-5/u455050366-o296981465-50.jpg Hung On The World: Blog http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog 120 80 Seattle, Vancouver, and my point & shoot camera http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/8/seattle-vancouver-and-my-point-shoot-camera I usually don't talk about what camera I use but I've been so impressed with my new point & shoot Sony rx100 that I am going to make an exception. I would also like to make it clear that Sony did not pay me or give me a free camera for writing this post. I bought the Sony rx100 used on Craigslist  a couple months ago for $500 just before my trip to Seattle & Vancouver, and I am so glad I did. It comes with a built-in Carl Zeiss f1.8 lens that is alone worth the price tag. Compared to other point & shoot cameras out there, it is definitely more expensive but then it also performs better than most entry level DSLR in its price range. However, what I love the most about this camera is its small size which makes it so portable and travel friendly. For my trip I also packed my Nikon D5100 but ended up using the Sony 90% of the time because I was able to put it in my pocket and take it with me all day everywhere. Here are the photos that resulted from my 8 days there. They were taken in RAW format and post-processed using the HDR technique with Photomatix software followed by minor color adjustments in Lightroom.

 

The quaint facade of the City Seattle Hostel where I stayed at 

 

Seattle Waterfront

 

View of Seattle Waterfront from the rooftop of the Bell Harbor International Center

 

A bicycle cop on the rooftop of the Bell Harbor International Center 

 

View of the sunset from the WTO walk connected to the rooftop of the Bell Harbor International Center 

 

A nice seating area overlooking the waters I came across on my way up to Kerry Park

 

View of the Seattle Skyline from Kerry Park

 

A nice small park with sitting area on my way to the Space Needle

 

A storefront I came across on my way to the Space Needle

 

Space Needle

 

View of the Seattle skyline from the top of the Space Needle

 

View of the sunset over water from the top of the Space Needle 

 

These pictures of the installations inside the Chihuly Glass Museum were taken handheld with my Sony rx100 as they did not allow tripods inside the museum.  The photos came straight out the camera without any editing whatsoever just to show you how beautifully the built-in Carl Zeiss f1.8 lens performs in low light settings. 

 

Canada Place in Vancouver, Canada

 

Vancouver Convention Center

 

A backpacker relaxing on the bench among one of the many parks along the Vancouver Harbour

 

View of the Vancouver Harbour with Stanley Park in the background

 

View of the Vancouver skyline and the Lost Lagoon from a hiking trail within Stanley Park

 

The tallest tree I saw in Stanley Park

 

Flowers I saw within Stanley Park

 

Somewhere along Sunset Beach

 

View of the Marina and Granville Island Public Market from the Granville Bridge

 

One of my favorite store in the Granville Island Public Market

 

A serene apartment complex somewhere along Granville Island

 

Somewhere along Vanier Park

 

Burrard Bridge at twilight

 

View of the marina from Burrard Bridge

 

View of Vancouver skyline from Ionsdale Quay

 

If you are interested in purchasing prints of the pictures above, visit my galleries where I offer a multitude of prints and products made from these images that you can buy and have ship to your residence anywhere in the world. 

 

I would also appreciate it if you can use the buttons below to tweet, +1, and like this photo travelogue to share it within your social network if you like what you see.

 

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) Bell Harbor International Center British Columbia Burrard Bridge Canada Canada Place Carl Zeiss Chihuly Glass Museum Granville Bridge Granville Island Granville Island Public Market Ionsdale Quay Kerry Park Point & shoot camera Seattle Sony rx100 Space Needle Stanley Park Vancouver Vanier Park WTO walk apartment architecture backpacker bench bicycle bicycle cop bicyclist boat building camera chocolatas city cloud color complex convention center couple cruise ship dock f1.8 flower glass harbor harbour hiking hostel installation lake lens lost lagoon lotus low light macro marina mountain ocean p&s camera parking pond reflection restaurant ripple rock rooftop scenery seat serene ship skyline store structure sunset sunset beach swan tourist trail train tree twilight view water waterfront http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/8/seattle-vancouver-and-my-point-shoot-camera Sun, 01 Sep 2013 06:42:02 GMT
Monkey Forest and Rice Terrace in Ubud, Bali http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/7/monkey-forest-and-rice-terrace-in-ubud-bali My flight from Singapore to Bali via AirAsia was fairly cheap for around $100 and for a budget airline, they were pretty decent. I got a visa on arrival at the airport for $25. Everything was going pretty smoothly except that it was pouring rain when I arrived so my plan to take a bus to Ubud, the center of Bali, proved problematic. Luckily for me, I ended up meeting a mom traveling with her two little ones, who was nice enough to let me share the car/taxi she has scheduled to come pick her up. On the ride into town, I found out that she is also from California like I am but is currently living in Japan with her husband who is in the army. Whenever her husband would leave on assignment, she would take her two kids, a 2 years old and a 5 years old, traveling. I found it pretty amazing that her adorable five years old little girl had already been to 5 countries and counting.

 

The taxi driver dropped me off at my friend's villa, which took awhile to find because there are no addresses in Ubud apparently. As for my so-called friend, I had connected with her previously online through a FB group called Create your Nomadtopia but had never met her before in person. When she saw I was coming to Bali, she generously reached out and offered me a place to stay at the villa she was renting. I didn't know what to expect but was more than pleasantly surprised when I arrived. My room upstair was newly built with all modern amenities and had an amazing view of the rice terrace and the view of the sunset from the balcony was spectacular. 

 

This place was so beautiful that I didn't want to leave the premise, especially when it was raining the first two days I was there. When the rain stopped briefly, I did managed to walk around for a bit and was amazed at how beautiful all the nearby houses were. I wandered into the house below thinking it was a temple or something but luckily the owner was very nice and understanding. He allowed me to walk around and take some pictures of the flowers in his small garden. 

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

 

I continued on my way and made it to the Sacred Monkey Sanctuary nearby when it started to rain again.  

Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

 

Families of monkeys huddled together for warmth and it was a bit uncanny how much they resembled humans in their closeness with one another. 

 

When the rain stopped again, I went inside the outdoor temple area which required that I wear a sarong they provided. 

Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

 

Not wanting to get caught in the rain again, I walked back to the villa shortly after. The following day when it stopped raining completely, I came back and walked through the Sacred Monkey Forrest beyond the Sanctuary.

Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

 

Not having to worry about the rain, I had more time that day to walk all the way around town, check out some galleries, and treated myself to some grilled tuna with Balinese sauce at a cozy and serene cafe. 

Gallery in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia Cafe in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Cafe in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

 

This dish looked good but was not as delicious as the crispy duck I had at another cafe the day before. Wanting to venture out and try some restaurants further away as well as visit the Tegalalang Rice Terrace, I rented a motorbike the next day. I knew the rice terrace was somewhere along Tegalalang Road but had no idea exactly where so I kept going until I saw a bunch of cars and and motorbikes parked on the road and a bunch of tourists with cameras walking about. I found a spot to park my motorbike and ventured down to where everyone else was headed. It turns out that the top part closest to the road had numerous restaurants and cafes you can relax at for a drink and/or a bite to eat while enjoying the view of the rice terrace. 

Cafe at Tegalalang Rice Terrace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

 

I wanted to get to the other side so I tried to find my way down. A young girl offered to take me for a small fee but I declined because I wanted to be on my own. After I made my way all the way to the bottom, I eventually found the bridge to take me across. 

Bamboo Bridge in Tegalalang Rice Terrace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

 

Turned out I had to pay 10,000 rupiah ($1) to a man sitting on the other side of that bridge for its use as well as another 10,000rp to another man at top to go all the way up. It was worth it though because the view from the top of the other side looking back was amazing. I also saw some pretty beautiful dragonflies as well. 

Tegalalang Rice Terrace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia Tegalalang Rice Terrace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

 

If you are interested in purchasing prints of the pictures above, visit my galleries where I offer a multitude of prints and products made from these images that you can buy and have ship to your residence anywhere in the world. 

 

I would also appreciate it if you can use the buttons below to tweet, +1, and like this photo travelogue to share it within your social network if you like what you see.

 

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) Bali Indonesia Monkey forrest Ubud bridge cafe crispy duck dragonfly family flower gallery lotus monkey rain rice terrace sacred sanctuary sarong statue sunset tegalalang temple view villa http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/7/monkey-forest-and-rice-terrace-in-ubud-bali Thu, 01 Aug 2013 04:35:40 GMT
Sunset and Sunrise at Yosemite National Park http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/6/sunset-and-sunrise-at-yosemite-national-park Yosemite National Park is a 3.5 hours drive from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. I've been told that campsites here book up to a year in advance. I figured I would find out for myself and drove in without any reservations whatsoever. I found out that the campgrounds closer to the entrances generally have spots open and was able to get a site for my first night. While I had a place to sleep that night, it took me an hour to drive to Curry Village, the center of Yosemite and where all the restaurants and supermarkets are. The campsites in Curry Village are completely booked up and only a few cancellations and no-shows are released on a first come first serve basis. I figured I try my luck the next day and drove back to my campsite on highway 140 that evening, just in time to catch a spectacular sunset that painted the sky a mesmerizing orange. 

Sunset behind trees in Yosemite National Park, California, United States

 

The following day, I packed my tent and belongings and headed into Curry Village once more. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it in at 8am like everyone else so my name ended up being pretty far back on the waiting list. So at 3pm when the park ranger called out names from that waiting list to give out a limited number of camping spots based on cancellations and no-shows, I didn't make the cut. Luckily for me, another young fellow like myself got a spot, took pity on me and asked if I would like to share his spot with him since he was also camping solo. I took a quick glance, decided that he didn't look like the serial killer type, so I gladly accepted his kind offer. 

 

He didn't turn out to be the crazy psychomaniac type but was the crazy adventurous type instead. We ended up having a blast together. He did a 4 mile hike up to Glacier Point that afternoon and I drove up instead because I had a 10lbs tripod and about another 10lbs worth of camera gear to carry. Although even if I was only carrying myself and nothing else, I doubted I would have made the hike given how out of shape I was at that time. I miscalculated the time it would take me to drive up to Glacier Point which was a little over an hour so by the time I had gotten up there, the sun had already set. Walking in from the parking lot, I was able to capture the yellowish glow of the sky over Half Dome. 

Sunset over Half Dome view from Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park, California, United States

 

Me and my new friend ended up staying until 11pm that night gazing at the thousands of stars that lit up the darken sky. I just regretted that I was still such a photography newbie at that time that I did not have the skills to capture an adequate photo of the starry sky to share with you today. Because out of the 8 National Parks I visited on this trip, Glacier Point was definitely the best spot for star gazing. It was so amazing that we both decided to wake up early the next day and come back in the morning to watch the sunrise. 

 

So by the time we got back to our campsite it was around midnight. We got about 4 hours of sleep and drove back up to Glacier Point the next morning around 5am. Unlike the night before where there was a large crowd, this time there were only a father and his little daughter up at Glacier Point that early morning. As sleepy as I was at that time, it was definitely worth it because the sunrise over Half Dome was majestic. 

Sunrise glow behind Half Dome view from Glacier Point at Yosemite National Park, California, United States Sunrise over Half Dome view from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park, California, United States

 

We had also brought up some instant coffee, a small propane stove and pot to boil water. So while waiting for the sun to rise, we drank our hot coffee and it was the best coffee I ever had. After the coffee woke us up and I had gotten my sunrise shots, we had some fun photographing each other with my camera. Although this first pix, my friend took of me with his point and shoot camera when I wasn't looking. He definitely has a great eye for composition, not to mention he was also a crazy daredevil with his Karate Kid pose. 

 

After a day hanging out together, it was like we've been best friends forever. So needless to say, I was pretty sad to say goodbye the following day. Although I wished him all the best as he left his comfortable life in the US shortly after that summer trip in August 2012 for a 2 year missionary trip with his church. He is now in a remote region of Suriname, a small country in South America. 

 

Now that I am already in Curry Village, it was very easy for me to get to the office at 8am each morning to get my name down on top of the waiting list so as to be able to snag a cancelled/no-show spot the rangers give out at 3pm each day. The only drag was that everyday I had to pack up my tent and move to another spot. Although being in Curry Village definitely had it advantages of being close to all the scenic spots such as Bridalveil Falls. I also lucked out that when I got here, there was a double rainbow below the falls. 

Bridalveil Falls at Yosemite National Park, California, United States

 

I was pretty happy at Curry Village so even though there were open campsites in Tuolumne Meadows, I decided to make a day trip instead of an overnight one. 

Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, California, United States

 

On my drive back, made a couple stops at Tenaya Lake and a scenic stop point to catch the warm afterglow of the sunset. 

Tenaya Lake on the way to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, California, United States Scenic point in Touloumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, California, United States

 

So overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Yosemite and was definitely getting used to camping under the stars by then. So if you live somewhere in California, I highly recommend you do a weekend or week long camping trip here this summer. And if camping is not your thing, there are also lodges you can stay at. And if you do or did, I love to hear about it so leave me a comment to let me know how it went. 

 

If you are interested in purchasing prints of the pictures above, visit my galleries where I offer a multitude of prints and products made from these images that you can buy and have ship to your residence anywhere in the world. 

 

I would also appreciate it if you can use the buttons below to tweet, +1, and like this photo travelogue to share it within your social network if you like what you see.

 

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) Bridalveil Falls Curry Village Glacier Point Half Dome Karate Kid National Park Tenaya Lake Tuolumne Meadows Yosemite camp campground camping campsite entrance field grass meadow mountain sky star starry night starry sky sunrise sunset tree water waterfall http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/6/sunset-and-sunrise-at-yosemite-national-park Fri, 14 Jun 2013 00:29:14 GMT
Road trip & Camping at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/5/road-trip-camping-at-sequoia-and-kings-canyon-national-park It was a little over a year ago that I resigned from my full time job to pursue my passion in photography and travel. It was also around this time that I started planning for my 2 months road trip where I visited and camped at 8 National Parks, 3 State Parks, and couchsurfed with complete strangers at 7 different homes for the very first time. It was a completely terrifying and exciting trip all together.

 

As summer is upon us once again, I wanted to share with you the places I visited on this trip so that it may inspire you to take a road/camping trip of your own as well. This time however, instead of doing an extremely long post like I did for Vietnam where I try to cover everything, I will be breaking it down to several smaller posts for easier consumption. This post will cover the first 2 National Parks I visited on my trip.

 

I drove up from Orange County and made a quick lunch stop at Beach Park in Bakersfield, CA.  I sat to eat at a table underneath a big tree for shade and noticed many squirrels running about. Upon closer inspection, it turns out that they had burrow their way underground and made a home for themselves under this tree. 

 

 

They came out when they smell my food and happily ate bits and pieces of the bread I threw their way as they played with one another. It was good entertainment for my lunch break. 

 

After that, it was a straight drive to Sequoia National Park, or so I thought. Instead of directing me to the main part of Sequoia Park, my iphone lead me to a remote section of it known as Mineral King. The drive up this small winding dirt path of 20 miles or so took over an hour. By the time I got up to the first campground Atwell Mill, the sun had already set and I was fighting the light to set up my tent. To make matters worse, there was a "bear warning" sign so I had to unload all the food I had bought from Costco the day before and packed in my car that morning into the metal bear proof box to lock up. I hadn't been camping in over 10 years and as I laid awake that night in my tent listening for any sounds that resembled a bear, I was cursing myself for somehow thinking that this 2 months road/camping trip was a good idea. 

 

Atlas, the dark of the night soon passed and morning came. I walked around my campsite and came across some of the biggest sequoias I had ever seen. The first one is a picture of me sitting on a tree stump so you can get a general sense of how big it really is. 

Sequoia tree trunk in Mineral King at Sequoia National Park, California, United States Sequoia tree trunk in Mineral King at Sequoia National Park, California, United States

 

After seeing all there was to see at my campsite, I drove up to the end of Mineral King Road where the second campground Cold Spring was located. On the 7 mile drive up, I passed by Silver City where there were paid showers behind a small convenience store and restaurant. I also saw a few wood cabins along the way where this one couple I talked to at my campsite said retired people lived and that they were also looking to buy once they retired. 

Log Cabin at Mineral King in Sequoia National Park, California, United States

 

At the end of the road, I parked my car, walked around and striked up a conversation with another fellow photographer. He and I ended up hiking further inward on a small dirt trail to a nearby creek. 

Creek at Mineral King in Sequoia National Park, California, United States Creek at Mineral King in Sequoia National Park, California, United States

 

Along the way, we passed by a small stable with a few horses inside and deers nearby. I also saw a marmot, the Mineral King's resident mischief, that I was warned might chewed my car wires if I had parked and camped at Cold Springs Campground. 

 

After two days at this remote primitive campground, I was ready to head down and find the real Sequoia National Park. As my car came hurling down this small winding dirt road once again, my ABS brake light came on warning me something was wrong with my brake. And to make matters worse, I also realized that my gas light came on letting me know my gas tank was close to empty. So I coasted in neutral most of the way down and prayed that the brake would work so my car will not be hurling itself off the cliff with me inside. 

 

I guess my time had not come yet because I got down the mountain safely and got gas. Then it was off to find a mechanic that can check out my ABS brake light. Long story short, it turned out that although the ABS portion did not function properly, my brake still works. I ended up last minute that night couchsurfing for the very first time with an amazing Indian guy in Tulare, CA. Despite working late until 7pm that day, he still showed me around after and took me salsa dancing (my first time ever) that night. The guy turned out to be quite a ladies man and a good wingman as well. We had a great time and it was the best first time couchsurfing experience I could have asked for.

 

The next day, I headed back into the actual Sequoia National Park off of highway 198 and passed by these 4 humongous sequoias.

Road into Sequoia National Park, California, United States

 

I camped at the first campsite on my way in which was Lodgepole Campground . This place had a much bigger supermarket and restaurant with coin showers and even a coin laundromat right across from the campsite. Additionally, there were flushable toilets instead of the vault toilets like at the campground in Mineral King. Needless to say, it was so much better.

 

Once I paid the $20 for my campsite and got my tent set up, I drove to Moro Rock which offered the best vantedge point to watch the sunset that evening. The 30 mins walk up the stairs carved into the rock was not bad and before I know it, I was blessed with one of the most spectacular 360 degrees view I had ever seen. 

Rock staircase up Moro Rock at Sequoia National Park, California, United States

 

I was up here shooting the sunset well into 9pm. In the end, there was only me and another photographer and we both ended up going down the stairs in the dwindling light. Here is two of my favorite sunset pictures from that shoot. 

Sunset over rolling mountains from top of Moro Rock at Sequoia National Park, California, United States Lightrays over rolling mountains from top of Moro Rock at Sequoia National Park, California, United States

 

The next day, I checked out the Crystal Cave at Sequoia National Park which was a decent size. For a few seconds, our guide turned off all the lights so that everyone can experience complete darkness, to the point where I couldn't even see my hand that's inches away from my face. 

 

As I was walking back up from the cave, I came across this beautiful butterfly that was resting its wings on a metal pole.

 

Later that day, I visited the General Sherman tree, which by its volume, is known as the largest living single stem tree on Earth. It was so tall that I couldn't exactly photograph the whole thing but it is the one all the way to the right below. 

General Grant Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park, California, United States

 

After a couple days here, I continued on highway 198 north to get to the connecting Kings Canyon National Park. I bought a $80 annual pass valid at all National Parks in the US but for those only interested in visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon,  you might be pleased to know that you will get 2 for the price of 1 $25 admission fee into both park. Those of you who do not want to camp can chose to stay at Wuksachi lodge further in. It is also the only place in Sequoia National Park where you could get wifi so I spent a good half day here before continuing onward to Kings Canyon. 

Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia National Park, California, United States

 

The drive up north on 198 highway to Kings Canyon National Park was beautiful. And if you do decide to make it up here, I highly recommend you camp at Sunset Campgrounds like I did. As its name suggest, the view of the sunset from the back of this campsite over the hills is spectacular. I was lucky enough to get a spot in the back. 

Sunset behind mountains and trees in Kings Canyon National Park, California, United States

 

Another great view definitely worth checking out while you are here is Panoramic Point, a short drive up from the campsite. Although, becareful to drive the speed limit as there are cops/rangers here that can give you a ticket. I was pulled over as I was speeding my way down from Panoramic Point back into my campsite so I could photograph the sunset pix above. Luckily, with lots of apologies, some convincing that I am photographer chasing the sunset, and a nice enough ranger, I was able to get away with a warning. 

Panoramic Point at Kings Canyon National Park, California, United States Panoramic Point at Kings Canyon National Park, California, United States

 

Another nice drive that is a bit longer at around 30-60 mins, depending on how fast you drive, is the Scenic Byway at Kings Canyon. For most of the drive, I was parallel to a running river view and for other times, I was awarded with rolling mountain views at each turn. 

Rolling hills and mountains at Kings Canyon National Park, California, United States

 

There were also several waterfalls along the way that you can stop at and hike in. This is one of them. 

Waterfall at Kings Canyon National Park, California, United States

 

So overall, even though I had a rough start at Mineral King, the remaining campsites at Sequoia and Kings Canyon more than made up for it and prepared me for Yosemite. And being back in nature helped me to reconnect with a deeper part of myself that I had long forgotten existed. So if you live somewhere in California, I highly recommend you do a weekend or week long camping trip at these two parks sometime this summer. And if you do or did, I love to hear about it so leave me a comment to let me know how it went. 

 

If you are interested in purchasing prints of the pictures above, visit my galleries where I offer a multitude of prints and products made from these images that you can buy and have ship to your residence anywhere in the world. 

 

I would also appreciate it if you can use the buttons below to tweet, +1, and like this photo travelogue to share it within your social network if you like what you see.

 

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) Atwell Beach Park Campground Cold Spring Crystal Cave Grant Sherman Kings Canyon Lodgepole Mineral King Moro Rock National Park Sequoia butterfly campground camping campsite cave deer hill horse marmot panoramic point rock sequoia squirrel stair sunset view http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/5/road-trip-camping-at-sequoia-and-kings-canyon-national-park Sat, 25 May 2013 19:01:06 GMT
The people, animal, and food of Vietnam http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/4/the-people-animal-and-food-of-vietnam Today, April 30th, marks the 38th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon in 1975 and forever remembered by all the Vietnamese people abroad as Black April. Conversely, in Vietnam, it has been glorified as Reunification/Liberation Day and made a public holiday to celebrate the day the North Vietnamese Army captured Saigon and ended the Vietnam War. Saigon was consequently renamed Ho Chi Minh City shortly after. However, to all the Vietnamese living abroad, this city will always be recognized as Saigon.

 

I was born and grew up in Saigon and left with my family when I was only 10 years old. Since then, I have been living in Southern California for over 20 years now. As westernized and fluent in English as I have become over the years, I have never forgotten my country of origin nor my native tongue. And as a fortunate result, my Vietnamese fluency has allowed me to travel easily throughout Vietnam each time I came back to visit and communicate effortlessly with the locals wherever I go. So instead of sharing with you how April 30th changed the course of Vietnam 38 years ago, I would like to show you what my beloved country looks like today. 

 

My journey started in Hanoi where I spent only a couple of days. I would start each morning by visiting my favorite kebab street stall for a delicious variation of the traditional Vietnamese bánh mì (sandwich), followed by a refreshing glass of sugarcane juice from a sweet lady vendor nearby.  Banh Mi Kebab in Hanoi, Vietnam

Sugarcane drink in Vietnam

 

The rest of my day would be spent wandering around and people watching at Hồ Hoàn Kiếm (Lake of the Returned Sword). It is a place where the young and old gather, where couples and groups of friends hang out, where backpackers walk on foot and tourists are chauffered on cyclos. 

 

After Hanoi was Sapa, an mountainous area indigenous to the H'mong tribe. Walking around town you would see many adults and children wearing their traditional garment. Most of them walk miles into town from their villages to sell handmade crafts to visitors. Some of them can be very persistent and followed my friend below in the red & yellow jacket for quite a distance in an effort to get her to buy from them. 

 

There are a few villages to visit in Sapa and Cat Cat is the closest and walking distance from town. It is the most touristic but still interesting nonetheless. On the way in, it was extremely foggy and I could barely see 15 feet in front of me.

 

Once I got to the village, the fog cleared up a bit, and I saw both children playing and doing their chores as I walked through the designated pathway.

 

In addition to children, there were also dogs and pigs up and about or sleeping soundly together. 

 

And in this last pix of Cat Cat village, you have a little bit of everything. 

 

Other than Cat Cat, the next village further away that I really enjoyed visiting via motorbike was Ta Van village. On the way there I saw many beautiful rice terraces, little girls selling hand-made crafts on the side of the road, and a small mud pond with some water buffalos. 

 

Once there, I explored the village on foot and came across some ducks, a little kid and his grandma, and a guy washing his motorbike in the river. 

 

The last and farthest village I visited also on motorbike was Ta Phin village. On the way there, I came across a little house that sat atop a cliff with a little girl playing outside as her mom was hanging clothes inside the front yard. 

 

There weren't that many people at this village the further in I went nor was there a place to park my bike so I decided to turn back without exploring the village by foot like these local ladies here. 

 

At the end of each day of exploring, I would always enjoy a hot cup of soothing Sapa tea to warm myself up from the cold climate of this region. 

Sapa Tea in Sapa, Vietnam

 

From Sapa, I had to head back to Hanoi for one night before continuing to Ha Long Bay. This area were filled with fisherman on small rowing boats close to shore and out at sea. While kayaking, I even saw a guy fishing from atop a huge rock in the middle of the ocean and also found my way to Monkey Island. 

 

My next place on the list was the Trang An grottoes where I was taken on a small rowing boat along the waterway and through each grotto via low ceiling caves. Although the most impressive part of the ride was running into the resident photographer that offered to take my picture as he rowed with his feet. He even had a little printer on his boat where he could print and provide the pictures for you after payment is received. 

 

I continued south from Trang An to Phong Nha for more magnificent and majestic caves before arriving in Hue. Being a university town, I saw students going home from school during the day as well as hangout at the bridge late in the evening to enjoy the scenery. 

 

Even this stray dog was relaxing by the river and enjoying the sites. 

 

Overall, it seems that Hue has a very relax vibe.

 

But what I enjoyed the most here were the Hue specialty dishes, which are the best here of course. My favorite is the bún bò huế (spicy beef noodle soup with added special crab balls and pork ribs).

Bun bo Hue in Vietnam

 

Second favorite is the nem lụi (chargrilled pork paste wrapped in lemongrass), wrapped with pickled carrots & daikons and vegies in rice paper and dipped in a special sauce. 

Nem lui in Hue Vietnam

 

Third favorite is the bánh khoái (crunchy tacos with shrimp, pork, wrapped in vegies and dipped in a special sauce). 

Banh khoai in Hue, Vietnam

 

All the other Hue specialty dishes are also delicious and definitely worth trying. See my Facebook page for a more detailed description of the dishes below. 

Banh beo in Hue, Vietnam

Hue Specialties in Vietnam

Hue Specialties in Vietnam Banh bot loc in Hue, Vietnam Banh La in Hue, Vietnam Com hen in Hue, Vietnam

 

And after stuffing my face with all these delicious food, I would always eat a healthy yogurt to help with digestion. 

Yogurt in Vietnam

 

After Hue was Hoi An, where it rained a lot and there's not much to see except old town. 

 

The most memorable thing here for me was actually the bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwiches) at a specific street stall acclaimed as "the best bánh mì in the world" by Anthony Bourdain. I was skeptical at first but quickly became a believer after my first bite. The cơm gà (chicken rice) Hoi An was also pretty good and worth trying. 

"Best Banh Mi in the World" according to Anthony Bourdain in Hoi An, Vietnam "Best Banh Mi in the World" according to Anthony Bourdain in Hoi An, Vietnam Com Ga (Chicken rice) Hoi An, Vietnam

 

From Hoi An was a long overnight bus ride to Nha Trang. And as much as I hated and avoided tours throughout my whole trip, I reluctantly signed up with a friend for a tour to go island hopping in Nha Trang. The snorkeling part of the trip was actually a lot of fun and the on deck karaoke entertainment was pretty amusing. 

 

Next stop after Nha Trang was Dalat where I wandered the street, ate some yummy grilled street food, and saw an adorable little kid having so much fun helping his mom set up at the night market. There was also a beautiful horse I was able to photograph at Thung Lũng Tình Yêu (Valley of Love). 

Grilled street food in Dalat, Vietnam

 

From Dalat, I headed to Mui Ne and lounged poolside for a few days before making my way to Saigon. I spent 6 weeks here eating my way around town. And because I didn't always carry my big dslr around, you will have to check out my Instagram feed to see all the food pix in Saigon. I did manage to visit and photograph the lunch lady stall made famous by Anthony Bourdain for all her delicious soups, each one different everyday of the week. Unfortunately, the lunch lady was not there when I had my camera but it was her sister instead. 

Lunch Lady in Saigon, Vietnam Soup from Lunch Lady in Saigon, Vietnam

 

When I am not eating, I am either at a coffee shop working or at Turtle Lake hanging out with all the cool kids.

 

Other times, I would walk around to find interesting people to photograph, like a street sweeper amidst the chaotic traffic, a wedding shoot in front of the post office, and a balloon maker at a flower festival for Tet (Lunar New Year). 

 

There was a special instance when I met up with a Vietnamese photographer who was shooting a promo for Panasonic SLRs at a temple somewhere I Saigon. I came early so had some time to explore and saw a small pond with the most turtle, large and small, I had ever seen. Some were gentle giants and others were more like big bullies.

 

Apparently, people can purchase a turtle, write a wish on their shell and release them into the pond for good luck. One of these little guy was trying to make a break for it but the wall was too high for him to crawl out. Another little guy seem content being there and making himself comfortable. 

 

Although the most surprising thing of all was seeing this guy go to town with a loaf of bread. 

 

Oh yeah, there was also a koi pond.

 

When my photographer friend arrived, there was a whole crew filming him and they also invited a model for the on-location shoot to showcase the camera. She was beautiful in her traditional Vietnamese áo dài (long dress). 

 

Before I left Saigon for Kuala Lumpur, I took a short trip to the Mekong. I was planning to drive all the way to Can Tho to visit the bigger floating market but the motorbike ride from Saigon was much longer than I thought it would be. Therefore, after a night in My Tho, I decided to visit a closer floating market in Cái Bè in the Tiền Giang province instead. On the ride there, I crossed several canals where people traversed by small rowing boats. 

 

I also passed by a market that was set up right on the small highway I was traveling through that sold live ducks, chickens, snakes, and other animals. And then there were this guy selling balloon animals. 

 

When I arrived in Cai Be, I had to hire a boat to take me out to visit the floating market early morning the following day. The sunrise was spectacular and river life was fascinating. 

 

Our boat also made a couple stop where I saw this couple making rice paper and their pet snake.

 

Happy New Lunar Year of the Snake. I hope you've enjoyed this post and will be inspired to visit someday. You can check out my other post to see the scenery of Vietnam. If you are interested in purchasing prints of the pictures above, visit my galleries where I offer a multitude of prints and products made from these images that you can buy and have ship to your residence anywhere in the world. 

 

I would also appreciate it if you can use the buttons below to tweet, +1, and like this photo travelogue to share it within your social network if you like what you see.

 

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) Anthony Bourdain Dalat Halong Bay Hanoi Hmong Hoi An Hue Mekong Delta Mui Ne New Year' Nha Trang Phong Nha Saigon Sapa Trang An animal ao dai archipelagos backpacker banh bridge buffalo canals cave city cyclo dog duck ethnic floating market food grottoes horse kebab life lunch lady mi minority monkey mountain ocean old town people pig pond post office rice paper rice terrace river snake sugarcane sunrise tea temple tourist traditional long dress turtle village water wedding yogurt http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/4/the-people-animal-and-food-of-vietnam Wed, 01 May 2013 06:18:31 GMT
Birds and Butterflies in Kuala Lumpur http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/3/birds-and-butterflies-in-kuala-lumpur After Vietnam, I flew to Kuala Lumpur and spent 3 days there. I got so used to riding around on my rental motorbike in Saigon that the first couple of days walking everywhere in KL was horrendous. To add to it, there was construction everywhere and rarely any sidewalks to walk on. It was also extremely humid and I was dripping my own weight in sweat. All that aside, I loved Kuala Lumpur. 

 

The hostel I stayed at was right around the corner from the famous Jalan Alor Street known for their street food. The best being bbq chicken wings. 

BBQ Chicken Wing in Jalan Alor Street in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

There were also durians being cut opened everywhere I went on this street. Despite its distinct horrific smell, durian is an acquired taste that many people love. Personally, I've tried it and definitely not a fan. 

Durian in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

After checking out their street food scene, I set out to explore the city. My time here was short so I wanted to visit some place unique that I haven't seen before. Therefore, when I saw a brochure about Heritage Park that had the World's Largest Walk-in Free-flight Aviary and a 2 Acre Butterfly Park, I knew it was definitely worth visiting. Getting there however, turned out to me much more difficult than I thought. 

 

On Google map, Heritage Park looks like it is a short walk from KL Sentral Station. In reality, there was no direct path I could take after exiting the station so I ended up getting lost trying to find the shortest route there. And as much as I avoided the myriad of shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur, I ended up stumbling into one. This mall however, was not filled with shoppers and tourists pushing past one another, but was completely empty. Given the modern design, I initially thought it was a building for corporate offices until I saw the signs inside informing that the mall would be open in the next couple of months.

Mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

As much as I enjoyed admiring the architecture here, when I couldn't find my way past the building, I had to walk back to KL Sentral Station and ask someone from the Information Desk. What seemed like simple directions ended up taking me around all the construction, up the side of a highway entrance, across a 3 lanes highway with cars hurling past me, continuing up winding streets before I found myself at the bottom of Heritage Park. Along the way, I saw this cool looking castle-like building, the National Mosque, and the fountains in front of it with the Kuala Lumpur Tower in the background on the right. 

Castle in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

From the Mosque, it was more winding uphill roads that lead to the entrance of the Bird Park. All was well worth it because this place was huge. And it being a Walk-in Free Flight Aviary, most of the birds were allowed to roam around within the confines of the net-covered park while some were unfortunately caged. 

 

 

 

Some were in a cage by themselves and others were kepts together in a much bigger walk-in metal cage and free to make out with one another or fight each other over food. 

Those that weren't behind bars and/or in solitary confinement wandered the compounds with their own kinds and/or hung out with other birds. 

 

 

Some had an area all to themselves with their kind but preferred to be alone to do yoga and take care of personal hygiene. 

 

And then there were these little guys who were enamored with their own reflections in the water as they were definitely the most colorful ones of all. 

 

I stayed at the Aviary for hours until it started to rain intermittently and announcement was made that they are closing in 30 mins. By the time I found my way back out of the entrance, the rain came pouring down so I ended up taking a cab back to my hostel. Since I didn't have enough time to see the Butterfly Park, I decided to come back tomorrow. Having learned my lesson from the day before, instead of exiting at KL Sentral Station, I took the connecting red line to Kuala Lumpur Station, which was alot of a closer walking distance to Heritage Park. 

 

The 2-acres Butterfly Park was amazing. There were countless butterflies of varying colors and sizes everywhere. Some were easier to capture on photo than other, especially the ones that seemed to be high on sugar as they sucked the sweet from slices of pineapples and bananas laid out on feeding trays for them.

Others were taking a drink from leaves and/or just resting their wings. 

Most of them flew from flowers to flowers as I chased after trying to get a clear shot. 

 

In addition to all the butterflies, there were also a few dragonflies around. 

I could have easily spent the whole day at this Butterfly Park but I also wanted to quickly check out the Orchid & Hibiscus Garden nearby, also located within the boundaries of Heritage Park. Both of these gardens were small and didn't have a wide variety of flowers to photograph but I did managed to get a few decent shots. 

Other than flowers, I were also able to sneak a few unexpected shots as well that I wasn't planning to take pictures of in these two gardens. 

And just as I was about to leave, I saw the most beautiful dragonfly I had ever seen and spent the next 30 mins trying to capture the best shots of him until a staff came by and told me they were closing. 

As happy as I was to get all these photos of exotic birds and beautiful butterflies, I didn't want to leave Kuala Lumpur without taking a pix of the Petronas Tower. I read on a brochure that Sky Bar had the best view of the Towers so I set out on my last night to go there. I managed to find my way to the hotel that Sky Bar was located it in and enlisted the help of security guard out front to show me the rest of the way. He lead me from the front through the empty hotel to the back of the hotel and told me to wait while he went to check with a hotel staff. He came back to tell me that the Sky Bar was already closed even though it was only 10pm and the brochure said it would be open till 2am. Already tired from a long day and scheduled to leave early tomorrow morning, I didn't feel like trying to track down another bar/lounge with view of the Towers so I took this shot from the back of the hotel where I was at and called it a day. 

Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

If you are interested in purchasing prints of the pictures above, visit my galleries where I offer a multitude of prints and products made from these images that you can buy and have ship to your residence anywhere in the world. 

 

I would also appreciate it if you can use the buttons below to tweet, +1, and like this photo travelogue to share it within your social network if you like what you see.
]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) Butterfly park Free-flight Heritage Park Kuala Lumpur Malayasia Orchid Garden Walk-in World's Largest Aviary bird butterfly chicken dragonfly duck flamingo orchid parakeet parrot peacock http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/3/birds-and-butterflies-in-kuala-lumpur Mon, 01 Apr 2013 06:39:05 GMT
Vietnam, my beautiful homeland .. http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/2/vietnam-my-beautiful-homeland It's been a while since my last blog. There were a few obligatory blog posts that I wanted to write for the New Year but didn't feel inspired to write them so I figured people would be less than inspired to read them. In 2013, I've also decided to switch my blog posts about my experiences traveling to more of a photoessays about the places I've visited. So I thought there is no other place more dear to my heart that I would like to share with you than Vietnam, my beautiful homeland. So be warned, this will be a long post with lots and lots of pictures of the spectacular and mesmerizing scenery I saw during my time here. 

 

My family and I left Saigon, Vietnam in 1990. Since then, 15 years have passed till I first came back to visit in 2005. I fell in love with the country all over again and came back immediately after in 2006 and then once more in 2009. As wonderful as those visits were, they were brief 2-3 weeks haste where I tried to see as much as I could in as little time as possible. Now that I am no longer restricted by how much vacation time I can get, I decided that my 4th time coming back to visit would be a long one at 2 months where I would travel from North to South.

 

I initially arrived in Hanoi by train from China. Unfortunately, I only spent a total of 3 nights here and the majority of the time was spent eating and people watching (which I will do a separate post later on about the people and food of Vietnam). It was just so wonderful to finally be back and to be able to communicate with people after spending a month in China where barely anyone spoke English and almost everyone was mad that I couldn't speak Chinese (Mandarin to be more exact). I did manage to get a few decent night shots of Hanoi which you can see on my FB page here.

 

From Hanoi, I took an 8 hour overnight bus northwest to Sapa, a magical town high in the mountains known for its amazing rice terraces. I explored the nearby villages on motorbike and was in awe at each turn of the road as the landscape laid out before me. 

 

Rice Terraces in Sapa, Vietnam Hut on the rice terraces in Sapa, Vietnam

In addition to the rice terraces, the town of Sapa itself also has a very mystical feel to it. I remembered one day, I just sat on the balcony of my guesthouse and watched as the low flying clouds came in and engulfed the whole city in a matter of minutes only to disappear shortly after. This process repeated itself countless time that afternoon and I was never ceased to be amazed each time it occurred. I will be working on a timelapse video of this mesmerizing phenomenon but until then you can see some pix of what I am talking about on my FB page here.

 

After Sapa, I made my way back to Hanoi for one night rest before heading to Ha Long Bay, which is a 5 hours bus ride east. From there, I took a ferry to Cat Ba Island and saw some of the most amazing archipelagos on the 40 min ride in. You can see more panoramic images on my FB page here. 

Archipelagos in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam Fishing boats in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam Fishing boat in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

I also rented a kayak and explored all the area around the island and found myself on a secluded beach amongst many.  Kayak in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

 

From Cat Ba island, I took a hydrafoil to Hai Phong and made my way south to the Trang An Grottoes. They were pretty but I couldn't get any shots good enough for my website because the row boat was moving pretty fast. If you are interested, you can see them on my FB page here

 

For more spectacular caves where you can walk around and explore, I highly recommend you check out the Phong Nha Caves south of Trang An. They have motorboats that take you in to the front of the cave and then row you in after that to a spot where you can get out and explore

Boat on the river in Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam Cave in Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam

And if the caves in Phong Nha wasn't big enough for you, go in another 30km further and visit Paradise cave, which at one point was designated the largest cave in the world before they discovered Son Dong Cave nearby, which has not been opened up to visitors as of yet. It is a +500 steps climb to the entrance of Paradise Cave and then more stairs to go down into the cave where the wooden path goes on for quite a distance. 

Paradise Cave in Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam

Paradise Cave in Phong Nha Ke Bang, Vietnam

 

From Phong Nha, it is a 4 hours bus ride to Hue, where I had some of the best food of my life. As far as scenery, the pagoda and citadel were the only two places I enjoyed seeing. There were many tombs to visit but after seeing one, it was enough for me. 

Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam

Hoi An was a short 2-3 hours bus ride from Hue. A majority of tourists come here to have clothes tailored (which I did not do due to limited space in my suitcase) but I found the old town with its hidden temple, Japanese bridge, and colorful houses quite beautiful and worth a visit. 

Temple in Hoi An, Vietnam Japanese Bridge in Hoi An, Vietnam Boat on the river in Hoi An, Vietnam Rickshaw in Old Town in Hoi An, Vietnam

From Hoi An, I rode my motorbike for an hour to visit the My Son ruins, which was quite a site. 

My Son Ruins in Hoi An, Vietnam My Son Ruins in Hoi An, Vietnam

My Son Ruins in Hoi An, Vietnam As beautiful as the ruins were, what I really enjoyed the most here were the abundance of interesting creatures. 

After Hoi An, it was a long overnight bus ride to Nha Trang. The Po Nagar Cham temple was interesting, the beaches here beautiful, and I definitely enjoyed island hopping, snorkeling, and diving for very cheap. However, the thing I enjoyed the most about Nha Trang had to have been my awesome hotel for $15/night with an enormous balcony that had a 270 degrees view of the city and allowed me to watch both sunrise and sunset. 

Po Nagar Cham Temple in Nha Trang, Vietnam

Sunset in Nha Trang, Vietnam Sunrise over the city of Nha Trang, Vietnam Sunset from the balcony in my hotel in Nha Trang, Vietnam

I made my way inland towards Dalat after Nha Trang and enjoyed a beautiful scenery of the mountains on the bus ride in.  Here, I visited Dalat's Golden Valley

Walkway in Golden Valley in Dalat, Vietnam Hut in Golden Valley in Dalat, Vietnam Lake in Golden Valley in Dalat, Vietnam Golden Valley in Dalat, Vietnam Lang Biang Mountain where you can either hike 3-4 hours to the top or pay a small fee to be taken up by Jeep,

View from the top of Lang Biang Mountain in Dalat, Vietnam View of river from Lang Biang Mountain in Dalat, Vietnam and the Valley of Love.

Valley of Love in Dalat, Vietnam Horse Carriage in Valley of Love, Dalat, Vietnam Valley of Love in Dalat, Vietnam As spectacular as the landscapes were at these places, I visited all three places within a day. Whereas, I spent the whole day at the Dalat Flower Park being completely enamored with all the strange and exotic flowers/orchids there. I spent hours in their greenhouse photographing all the gorgeous flowers/orchids in there at the dismay and confusion of the vendors who were wondering what the heck I was doing. 

Coming from the warm weather in Nha Trang, Dalat was quite chilly. Therefore, I was happy to be heading back to the beach again after Dalat towards Mui Ne, a small resort town in Phan Thiet. The sand dunes here are worth a visit if you don't mind getting sand everywhere. Although, I must admit I spent most of my time here swimming, then lounging poolside and watching the sunset. 

Sunset over a resort in Mui Ne, Vietnam Sunset over a resort pool in Mui Ne, Vietnam By the time I got to Saigon, I was pretty exhausted from all the quick pace travel I've been doing. I found a great apt with an amazing 360 degrees view of Saigon from their rooftop on the 18th floor so I decided to stay  longer. Although, my month and a half here seem to flew by and as hard as it was, I did manage to get out of the city last week to do a quick trip to the Mekong and see what life is like on the river. 

Houses on the Mekong River in Cai Be, Vietnam Fish Market on the Mekong River in Cai Be, Vietnam I came back to Saigon just in time to celebrate Vietnamese Tet (Lunar New Year) of the Snake. With lights up on the main streets in celebration of New Year and Tet, Saigon is very lively lit. The firework on the Eve of Tet viewed from my rooftop was pretty spectacular. 

 

Hotel in Saigon, Vietnam Hotel in Saigon, Vietnam Firework during Tet in Saigon, Vietnam

 

Happy New Lunar Year of the Snake. I hope you've enjoyed the scenery of Vietnam and will be inspired to visit someday. You can check out my other post to see the people, animals, and food of Vietnam. If you are interested in purchasing prints of the pictures above, visit my galleries where I offer a multitude of prints and products made from these images that you can buy and have ship to your residence anywhere in the world. 

 

I would also appreciate it if you can use the buttons below to tweet, +1, and like this photo travelogue to share it within your social network if you like what you see.

 

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) Cat Ba Dalat Halong Bay Hanoi Hmong Hoi An Hue Lang Biang Mekong Delta Mui Ne New Year' Nha Trang Phong Nha Saigon Sapa Tet Trang An archipelagos architecture balcony beach bridge cafe cave citadel city ethnic firework floating market flower garden grottoes island kayak life minority mountain night nightlife ocean old town pagoda park pool resort rice terrace river sunrise sunset tomb valley http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2013/2/vietnam-my-beautiful-homeland Thu, 14 Feb 2013 13:01:32 GMT
Recaps and Recommendations http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/12/recaps-and-recommendations This year didn’t exactly start out well for me. Exactly a year ago, I got one of the worst phone calls of my life. I had gone in for an annual checkup a week before and gotten a routine STD testing. A week later, Dec 30, 2011 was a Friday, I was still at work when the nurse called at 4:45pm to tell me that I had tested positive for Hep C. Two months later in Feb 2012, due to the overwhelming amount of stress I was under, I had a horrible panic attack that started in the late afternoon at work and lasted well into the late hours of the night after I had gotten home. Then a month after that, in March 2012, I was rear ended while going to work by someone who didn’t have insurance or a driver’s license. I had to go through almost 2 months of treatment with a chiropractor as a result of that car accident.

 

 

While all of the above was difficult to endure, it really forced me to reevaluate my life and start considering how I want to spend it if I really had a limited time to live. It made my desire to travel the world all the more appealing and sensible. The only thing I was really concerned with at the time was obtaining private insurance after I would no longer be on my employer’s plan and getting treatment for my Hep C diagnosis. Fortunately, after further intensive testing where they took 4 and then 8 vials of my blood, the results came back better than I could have ever hoped for. Both test results did not reveal any traces of the Hep C virus in my blood and the specialist my doctor referred me to deemed that in some rare cases such as this one, my body had fought off and cleared my system of the virus on its own. The only thing left remaining was the antibody, which was why I tested positive for Hep C in the first place. I was ecstatic!

 

 

So in mid April 2012, before I turned 33 years old, I resigned from my +5 years career to pursue my passion. It was the best birthday present I could have ever given myself. I left early June for a 2 months road/camping trip to visit 8 National Parks and attended a life changing World Domination Summit in July where I had met/made so many new amazing friends. And then on Oct 2012, I left for my first extended 6 months international trip to China, SE Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, which I am now more than 1/3 of the way in. 

 

Now, it’s past Dec 21, 2012 and the world didn’t come to end. But if it did, I would have been happy with the decisions I’ve made and how I chose to live this year of my life. A lot of time, being still fairly young, I think that I have many more years left to live; while in reality, life can be very fleeting. I can get hit by a bus and die today or be diagnosed with some fatal disease and have 1 month left to live. What is even worse I think, would be to live but never feeling alive.

 

Making a life altering decision is never easy, even if it is for something I’ve always wanted. And while I don't think everyone should quit their job to travel the world, I believe everyone deserves to live the life they’ve always dreamed of, whatever it may be. So for those of you who need a little more inspiration as I did before and still do now, here are some (e)books and travelogues recommendations. Some have helped to inspire me to make the leap of faith myself to follow my dreams and others have helped to ensure me that I’ve made the right decision during hard times. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I have.   

 

- The Art of Nonconformity and $100 Start up by Chris Guillebeau

- Exile Lifestyle and Iceland India Interstate by Colin Wright

- Ten Lessons from the Road and There are other Rivers by Alastair Humphreys

- Happier than Billionnaire by Nadine Hays Pisani

- Married to Bhutan by Linda Leaming

- Wrecked by Jeff Goins

- Pretty Woman Spitting by Leanna Adams

- No Sense of Directions by Eric Raff

 

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/12/recaps-and-recommendations Sun, 30 Dec 2012 15:22:09 GMT
Travel and Transport http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/12/travel-and-transport  

Living in Southern California, my main method of transportation for over 15 years was driving. I got so lazy to the point where if it was cold and I didn’t feel like walking the 10 minutes it took to get to my parents house nearby, I would drive instead. So it was a difficult but refreshing change of pace to not have to get behind a wheel of car since I left the US a month and a half ago. Since then, I’ve been using almost every other means of transport available from airplanes, trains, metro/subways, buses, taxi, motorbikes, bicycles, ferries, and kayaks, to the most old fashion way of getting around, walking.

 

My one-way flight from LA to Tokyo and then Beijing took a total of around 17 hours. With an endless number of on-flight movies to keep me entertained, the time passed by fairly quickly. I’ve also been on several international flights before that took around the same time so I knew what to expect. Nothing was out of the ordinary.

 

Once I got to Beijing, I wanted to try something different and travel by train and make my way south through China and into Vietnam. My 6 overnight train rides from Beijing => Pingyao => Xi’an => Shanghai => Shenzhen/Hong Kong => Guilin => Vietnam all added up to a total of 85 hours. So that’s almost 4 days spent on tiny train beds and doing everything I can to hold it in so as not to have to use the disgusting bathrooms on there. But I endured and made it to Vietnam finally after a month in China.

 

And just when I was slowly becoming accustomed to train travel in China, my 12 hours sleeper bus ride from Ha Noi to Sapa took uncomfortable to a whole new level. These recliner seats mean to be slept on are half the size of the small train beds and twice as hard. The seats are also packed right next to one another so I am just inches away from my neighbor. Turning on my side took careful positioning so as not to disturb and invade the space of the person sleeping right next to me. Also, because these recliner seats only recline to a maximum of about 165 degrees, my body ended up slightly crooked after a night of sleeping on my side. It was quite an experience I plan on not repeating unless necessary.

 

Then there are the metro/subways and buses. I knew China was crowded but I didn’t realize truly how crowded until I was jammed packed into a metro/subway and/or bus like sardines in a can. One time, a staff had to literally push me and the backpack I was carrying inside so that the subway door can close behind me. I also made a rookie mistake of over packing and having to lug my huge luggage up endless flights of stairs to change metro lines was exhausting to say the least. I learned my lesson the hard way and quickly shipped my huge 32inches duffel bag along with 1/3 of what I had packed back to the US once I got to VN and bought a much smaller luggage about half the size.

 

It may not come as a surprise when I say that taxi, motorbike and bicycles are my preferred methods of getting around. Although cars in China rarely obeyed traffic signs and I almost got hit a couple times, renting a bike for a day to explore Beijing was very fun and allowed me to see different parts of it that I hadn’t seen. Biking around the Xi’an high city walls was also amazing and allowed for spectacular views of the city from above. In Sapa, Vietnam, I rented a motorbike to explore nearby villages and the view along the way of rice terraces carved into the mountainous region was stunningly magnificent.

 

All and all, the best views I had the pleasure of enjoying were from the short Star Ferry from Hong Kong Island to Tsim Sha Tsui, the long ferry from Tuan Chau to Cat Ba Island in Ha Long Bay. The view of the Hong Kong skyline from the Star Ferry is quite impressive considering everything was man-made. On the other hand, the natural view of the archipelagos from the ferry in Ha Long Bay was almost otherworldly. Kayaking in Ha Long Bay and navigating around endless archipelagos to find tiny deserted beaches to relax and swim in was definitely my favorite thing to do.

 

Then there is walking. My first few days in Beijing proved to be trying as my feet was not accustomed to walking so much. It took at least a week for my leg muscles to kick in and get used to walking everywhere. In the beginning, I only carried my iphone around because even carrying my DSLR was an extra weight I couldn’t bear. Now, more than a month into my travels, I can comfortably walk for miles with two DLSRs and a tripod in my small backpack. Not only my feet but also my back is adapting to the extra weight and extra abuse I am putting it through.

 

It hasn’t been an easy 6 weeks getting from place to place but the amazing sights I’ve seen make it all worth it. I am determined to travel by land as far as I can after Vietnam through Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia, to the tip of Singapore before I will need to fly to Bali. All these different modes of transport, good and bad, is helping to shape me into a more experienced traveller. I try to my best to enjoy every single moment, from the most visually rewarding to even the most disgustingly uncomfortable, and remind myself to be thankful everyday for being able to travel and see the world. 

 

I would love to hear your thoughts regarding this post or your own personal travel experiences in the comment section below. Also, check out my travel photography and shoot me an email to say hi or connect with me on your social media of choice to get updated pix from my travels and new blog posts.  Thank you for reading, visiting my website, and sharing it within your social network if you like what you read and see.

 

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/12/travel-and-transport Sat, 01 Dec 2012 13:33:59 GMT
Home to Hostel http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/11/home-to-hostel I’ve been travelling for more than a month now. And to keep cost down, I’ve been staying in hostels, which ranges between $5-10/night in China as well as Vietnam. The reason it is so cheap is because you are sharing a room with other travellers and sleeping in bunk beds with 2 or 3 levels. The average dorms in hostels typically range between 4-6 people. The maximum number of people I’ve shared a room with was 20 in a Hong Kong hostel. As there is only 1 bathroom that is shared between everyone in the dorm room, the wait to shower or use the toilet can be quite long during peak hours in the morning. Furthermore, bathrooms in China and Vietnam generally do not have a bathtub or enclosed shower space. There is just a shower head hanging from the bathroom wall and when you shower, the whole floor, toilet, and sink also get wet. There was only on one occasion that a hostel in Xi’an, China had a curtain that you can use to separate the toilet and sink so they do not get wet as well. Not having a bathtub to save space and cost I understand but why they do not at least have a dividing curtain (which should be fairly cheap) in all the bathrooms, I do not know. It was something I had to get used to while travelling through Asia and I did.

 

Other than the strange (by Western standards) design of the bathrooms, the worst thing for me about staying in a hostel is sharing the room with other travellers. There is absolutely no privacy and there are always people coming and going at all hours of the day and night. Most people are fairly considerate and try to be quiet as possible when they are coming/going early in the morning or late at night but if you are a light sleeper, your sleep will surely be disturbed. Then there are the people who snore. I usually do not snore unless I am really tired. And apparently I was really tired one night in Guilin, China and snored quite loud because I was woken up in the middle of the night by the guy that slept above me and told that I should get a private room. I thought I was dreaming the next morning because myself, like most others, just cover my head with the blanket to try and drown out the sound of someone who snore. I would never consider and also never actually had someone woke me in up the middle of the night because I snored and told to get a private room. But then I overheard the same guy outside my door talking to the staff there that he would like to switch rooms because there was someone who snores in his room. I felt bad that I kept him awake but at the same time, I was also offended at his inconsiderate behavior of waking me up in the middle of the night. He must have not stayed in hostels before I thought to myself and tried to let it go.

 

Besides the one isolated incidents above, most travellers I’ve shared dorm rooms with are pretty easygoing. And while sharing a room with others is the worst thing for someone who values his privacy such as myself, it also turned out to be one of the best things. I met a Dutch girl my first day in a hostel and we ended up sightseeing together in Beijing and travelled together to Pingyao and Xi’an. I also met a Hong Kong guy in my room in Beijing who ended up treating me to dinner and showed me around Hong Kong when I visited there 2 weeks later. And while luck of the draw doesn’t always guarantee I’ll get awesome roommates, staying in hostels have been the easiest way to meet other travellers and hang out together. After more than a month of sharing rooms with others however, I was ecstatic to finally get a room all to myself in Sapa, Vietnam for the same cheap price of $7.50/night. And here I met another girl from Australia who was staying in the room right next to mine. We’ve been hanging out for the past two days I’ve been here and it has been pretty awesome because she is quite an amazing woman and quite the world traveller herself. So although I’ve decided to travel solo, I’ve pretty much always had someone to spend time with if I wanted to. It’s been great and I look forward to meeting and making many more friends along the way for the remainder of my trip. 

 

I would love to hear your thoughts regarding this post or your own personal travel experience in the comment section below. Also, check out my travel photography and connect with me on your social media of choice to get pictures and blog post updates. Thank you for reading, visiting my website, and sharing it within your social network if you like what you read and see.

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/11/home-to-hostel Sat, 24 Nov 2012 11:53:50 GMT
Company = Compromise http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/11/company-compromise  

Being an only child, I am used to being by myself. Therefore, I have no problem traveling solo. I actually prefer it this way as I am able to decide when and where to go, for how long, and what I'll be doing there. It works best for short vacations where I am only able to take 2-3 weeks off from work and cannot afford to waste anytime making compromises with others on my travel plans.

 

This time however, I will be traveling overseas for 6 months. It is a long time to be away from home without the company of family and friends. What made it even worse was that the first country I visited was China, where Facebook is blocked. If I was at home, not being able to access FB would have been fine because I can just call up my friends and go hang out with them. However, when I am thousand miles away from home, not being to connect with my friends on FB is pretty daunting. I felt cut off and disconnected.

 

Luckily for me, I made a new friend the first day in Bejing at my hostel. She is a Dutch girl from Holland also traveling for 4-6 months through Asia. She left home 3 weeks before I did and had already traveled through Russia and Mongolia before arriving in China. We got a long fairly well so we ended up sightseeing together for the majority of our time together in Beijing. It was very helpful to have a second pair of eyes to look for directions and help one another find our way in a foreign country where neither of us can understand the written nor spoken language. We were able to figure out how to take the metro to nearby places in Beijing like the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and The Summer Palace and avoided having to sign up for a tour and be shuffled around like herds of cattle. We also saved a ton of money when we went on our own and took the bus to the Great Wall instead of paying an expensive fee for a tour. Together, we made a pretty good team and therefore decided to continue on our way together to Pingyao and Xi'an, where we also saved alot more money by taking the bus to see the Terra Cotta Warriors instead of paying for a tour.

 

As helpful and great as it was to have a travel companion, there were compromises to be made. I had to stay in Beijing longer than I planned to and didn't really have enough time to get all the shots and videos I wanted to at the places we visited together because I did not want to keep her waiting for too long. Then there were also minor compromises like what hostel to stay at and where to eat at. Overall, the benefits of having a travel companion outweighed the compromises I had to make. Have a new friend along the way for the first one and a half week made my transition into long term travel all that much more easier and smoother. It was also actually very entertaining as well. Because she is white with blond hair and green eyes, everywhere we went, there were Chinese people asking to take a picture with her or trying to sneak one when she wasn't looking. It was as if Chinese people had never seen a white person before and felt as if I was traveling with a celebrity or something.

 

As nice as it is to have a new friend along for the ride, our itinerary no longer matched up after Xi'an. At this point, I also felt confident enough to make it on my own through the rest of the China and wasn't willing to make any more compromises regarding my travel plans. So we said our goodbyes earlier at the hostel in Xi'an and I am writing this blog post on my overnight train to Shanghai. I will have a few days there to explore the city on my own before I head to Hong Kong where I will meet up with a friend from Salt Lake City who is also flying in. Where I will head after that is undetermined at this point and who I will meet along the way is unknown to me. And there in lies the beauty of traveling solo with an open itinerary.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts regarding this post or your own personal travel preference in the comment section below. Also, check out my travel photography and connect with me on your social media of choice to get pictures and blog post updates. Thank you for reading, visiting my website, and sharing it within your social network if you like what you read and see.

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/11/company-compromise Sat, 03 Nov 2012 13:16:27 GMT
Leave to Live http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/10/leave-to-live  

I love my studio loft that I have completely renovated into a contemporary space and made into my cozy home for the past 4 years. I love my hard top convertible 230 Mercedes SLK that I fully take advantage of driving around under the Southern Californian sun. I love living in Orange County where I have access to the best Vietnamese food outside of Vietnam for half the cost of what I would pay for American food. Compared to most, I have a pretty good life. Yet I am about to leave everything behind for 6 months to travel the world. While this may seem pretty glamorous, I will be practically homeless and living out of a suitcase. Since my travel funds are limited, instead of fancy hotels, I will be mostly staying in hostels where it's cheap and relying on the kindness of strangers as I "couchsurf" in their homes in cities where accommodations are more expensive. Furthermore, I will be without a car and making my way around via, train, subway, metro, bus, and the old fashion way of walking. And lastly, I will also be working on the road so it's not entirely an extended vacation but instead, more like a "workation".

 

As I was planning my 6 months trip to Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, I was very much excited with only a small amount of concern for being on the road for that long. However, as my leave date came closer and closer, my initial excitement slowly dwindled and my minor concern grew into a large overwhelming fear. What if I got rob or run out of money sooner than I planned? What if I hurt myself or end up getting killed in a mugging? What if the plane I am on crashed into the ocean or is hijacked by terrorists? I have an excellent imagination so I could go on but I think you get the point. It got pretty bad to the point where I actually considered calling the whole thing off altogether. And the worse part is I couldn't really tell anybody. It was already crazy enough when I told all my family and friends that I quit my job to travel the world, it would sound much worse now if I told them I am too scared to go and is considering getting back on the hamster wheel again. Therefore, I kept my mouth shut.

 

So in case you are wondering if I chickened out or not, let me tell you that I am writing this blog post on a connecting plane to Beijing from Japan. If I've learned anything in my life, it's that I always regret much more the things I wanted to do but didn't than the things I did do, regardless of what the end results are. I let fear held me back from my dreams of world travel for years before I saved up enough money and gathered enough guts to actually quit my job. There is no way I am going to let fear stand in my way of what I have always wanted to do.

 

As Lao Tzu once said, "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." And the funny thing about continually putting one foot in front of another is that eventually, you will get somewhere, whether it is to where you initially wanted to go, or to a completely different place you never imagine yourself going. The thing that I actually enjoy the most about travelling is being in a completely foreign place and totally out of my comfort zone. As uncomfortable as this maybe in the beginning, it is where I am able to discover what I am truly capable of and change with each new experience I encounter and grow from each challenge I am able to overcome. I am able to make new friends and learn so much more about myself and the world when I travel than I ever could staying within the comforts of home. All of these factors combine help to transform me into a better version of myself. So all and all, while it isn't easy to leave everything I've ever known behind, there is really no other way I rather live.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts regarding this post or your own stories in the comment section below. Also, check out my travel photography and connect with me on your social media of choice to get pictures and blog post updates. Thank you for reading, visiting my website, and sharing it within your social network if you like what you read and see.

 

 

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/10/leave-to-live Mon, 22 Oct 2012 16:49:13 GMT
Disconnect to Connect http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/9/disconnect-to-connect  

In Jan 2012, I made a conscious choice to cancel my cable television. I made this decision because I was watching between 3-4 hours of television a day for most of 2011. Exhausted after getting home from work, I would plop down on the sofa and escape into an endless number of tv shows and movies. So when I cancelled my cable, I had much more time after work to do the things that interested me instead of watching other people do it. I learned more about the art of photography and the business of selling photos online. I researched more about travel hacking to start earning miles for free flights when I travel overseas.

 

When I quit my job in April, I had a lot more knowledge to start planning the next chapter of my life.  In June, I took off for a 2 months road/camping trip and visited 8 National Parks and 3 State Parks. Camping in the wilderness and seeing the beauty of nature really helped me to reconnect with a more spiritual part of me that was slowly dying before from being malnourished with all the visual muck I was watching on television.  I started to feel alive again and more connected to Mother Earth.  

 

I timed my road trip to be able to attend the World Domination Summit half way through my trip in July. And after WDS, another world had opened up to me that I didn’t even know existed before. So when I got back from my road trip in August, I began to immerse myself in this online world where digital nomads travel, live, and work from all over the world. As inspired as I was by all of this, I began to get sucked in again without realizing it at first. I started spending between 3-4 hours a day engaged in social media and various websites and blogs. I started becoming more disconnected to the physical world.  

 

Don’t get me wrong, I find myself very fortunate to live in this digital information age where there are multitudes of medias available to me with a click of a remote and/or mouse. Although I have to be careful and constantly remind myself to find a balance between spending my time online vs. offline, consuming information vs. creating content, viewing the digital world through my computer screen vs. capturing the natural world through the viewfinder of my camera.

 

There are only so many hours in the day and how I chose to spend my time ultimately determines my priorities in life. The fantasy I had about working for myself is that I get to decide what I want to do with my life. The reality I am starting to discover is that I need to actually put in a lot of work in order to achieve what I want to do. I must be able to disconnect from all forms of distraction when needed in order to connect to a part of myself where curiosity fosters creativity and inspiration promotes action.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts regarding this post or your own stories in the comment section below. Also, check out my travel photography and connect with me on your social media of choice to get pictures and blog post updates. Thank you for reading, visiting my website, and sharing it within your social network if like what you read and see.

 

 

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/9/disconnect-to-connect Tue, 25 Sep 2012 07:09:54 GMT
Global is the new Local http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/8/global-is-the-new-local  

Growing up in Vietnam, I knew all the local kids in my neighborhood and hanged out with them almost everyday. All this changed completely when I came to the US with my family at 10 years old. The area we lived in with our grandparents was predominantly Caucasian and I was the only Vietnamese among the few Asians throughout my middle and high school. The ironic thing was I didn’t feel like I really belong with all my American friends in high school and in college I was somehow too whitewashed to fit in among my new Vietnamese friends I had made. It took me many years to overcome my cultural identity crisis and truly embraced both my Vietnamese and American side.

 

As I was coming to terms with my cultural identity, another split in my personal identity had unknowingly occurred. The Vietnamese friends I was hanging out with during and after college were older than I was at the time. They were more matured and I had learned much from them but I was also unwittingly influenced by their rather traditional view of the world. Similar to the metaphorical story, I felt like the eagle egg that had mistakenly hatched among all the chicken eggs. I wanted to soar the sky but was told by all the chicken that it was irrational and impossible to do so. And for years, I believed them.

 

It was an extremely difficult decision for me to take a leap of faith and jumped off the mountain that was my secure career to see if I can truly fly into the uncertain sky of solopreneurism that held the freedom I’ve always longed for. Even though most of the people in my life tried to be supportive, I could feel most of them does not truly understand my true reason and motivation. It wasn’t until the World Domination Summit in Portland that I immediately felt “belonged” and that everyone understood me before I even opened my mouth. WDS’s theme of “community, adventure, and service” and underlying question posed to 1000 attendees of “how do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” has attracted countless remarkable people from all over the world and all walks of life.

 

In Australia, there are:

 

In Europe, there are:

  • Blogger Milo McLaughlin who freelance as a web-savvy copywriter and content strategist. A Scotsman with many interest, a full-time job and part-time passion, he is undoubtedly my “brother from another mother”.  
  • Confidence coach Steve Errey who lives in London, England. Personable, genuine, and inspirational, he is the older brother I wish I had growing up.
  • Guillaume Ceccarelli, starter and supporter of meaningful projects around the world, who resides in Paris, France. An amazing wheelchair dancer, he is a true testament that one is never limited by circumstance.
  • Yoga teacher Bettina Shzu who teaches in Berlin. A quiet introvert who listens before talking, she is a calming presence to be around.

 

In North America, there are:

  • Vegan connoisseur Laura Lynn from Canada who is as talented as she is elegant. She is a Jill-of-all-trade who doesn’t say much but will get more done than all of us talkers combined.
  • Writer Dave Ursillo who lives in New York and creates leaders all over the world.  Amiable, charming, and soulful, he is a natural ladies man and true gentleman to all.
  • Trail guide Syndee Stein in Woodland Hills, CA who sees deep into your being and helps you to move to where you want to be in life. She is as much a rad girl as she is a radiant woman and you can’t help but shine when in presence of her light.
  • Humanitarian Joshua Harbert in Chicago, IL who also helps creatives create website to showcase their work and projects. Being introspective and intelligent, he rarely speaks but when he does, everyone listens.
  • Web developer Katie Benedetto from Durham, NC who is as bright as she is beautiful. Underneath her youthful exuberance, she is an extremely capable woman that can accomplish anything she sets her mind to.
  • Designer Rob Modzelewski from Chicago, IL who helps entrepreneur with visual communication and telling their stories. A handstand enthusiast who gets just as excited about people as he does about entrepreneurism. 
  • Sharepreneur Chelsea Rustrum who is based in San Francisco, CA when she is not traveling the world. Online marketer by trade and possibilitarian by belief, she is living proof that anything is possible when we work together.
  • Videographer Jason Digges from Boulder, CO who runs his own production company. Spiritual with a peaceful demeanor, he instills a sense of calm in everyone around him. 

 

And there are my fellow world travelers with no home base:

  • Sun lover Morgan Daniels who is an ex-corporate gal spreading her passion of funemployment and living life joyfully. 
  • Traveler Dave Dean who is currently traveling throughout Europe and writing about the highs and lows of being a long-term traveler for the past 3 years.  
  • Artist Yamile Yemoonyah who helps free minded creative spirits around the world start and grow their own online business.

 

I came to WDS by myself and in a week, I’ve made more like-minded friends than I had in all my life. And the wonderful thing is that even though we’ve all just met, it feels like I’ve known them for years.  I can go on about each and everyone I’ve written above and there are also many others I’ve met but haven’t had a chance to get to know all that well yet. Through Facebook, we are able to stay connected and find out what each other is up to. And thanx to Google Hangout, most of us are able to participate in weekly chat sessions and continue having meaningful conversations where we help keep each other inspired, motivated, and accountable for our own aspirations in life. Twenty-five years ago when I was 8 years old, all the friends I had were locals within a mile radius of my house; whereas now, all my new friends span the globe. Global has truly become the new local!

 

I would love to hear your thoughts regarding this post or your own stories in the comment section below. Also, check out my travel photography and connect with me on your social media of choice to get pictures and blog post updates. Thank you for reading, visiting my website, and sharing it within your social network if like what you read and see.

 

Interbeings

by Hung Pham

 

Global has become the new local

Connected we are one and all

I am in you and you are in me

Close your eyes and you will see

 

 

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/8/global-is-the-new-local Fri, 10 Aug 2012 20:46:13 GMT
Career => Calling => Cause http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/7/career-calling-cause  

While I was working as a Career Consultant, one of the saddest things I observed was that many people had to settle for a JOB (Just Over Broke). For those with families and children to feed, it was an understandable sacrifice but still a heartbreaking sight to watch when I know these people are capable of so much more. Compared to many others who are struggling to make ends meet in this dwindling economy, I am among the lucky few that have made a good career out of helping others and making a difference in their lives. Yet I can’t help but questions if this is it, if this is what I was meant to do in life, a persistent question that has lead me to where I am today. One of the main differences I’ve come to find between a career and a calling is that of financial compensation. In a career, one enjoys his/her work nonetheless but would likely not do it if he/she were not paid for it. On the other hand, for those fortunate enough to discover their calling in life, they would happily do it even if they were not paid for it.

 

I recently attended the second annual World Domination Summit hosted by world traveler and writer/blogger Chris Guillebeau. While the name of the event may raise some concerns, the only question that was raised by Chris at WDS is “how do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” He asked this question to a 1000 attendees at the beginning and demonstrated the answer with his evident action at the end of the Summit. The first WDS in 2011 had suffered a $30,000 lost due to inexperience but this WDS had made a good amount of money after learning from what worked well last year. Even in the face of many tempting offers to sponsor this year's event or buy the entire brand, Chris had deliberately decided to continue to keep WDS non-commercial and sponsor free. Although, an inspired anonymous donor who attended in 2011 did donate an undisclosed amount of money to Chris with no strings attached and no recognition needed. In the end, the money donated plus the profit gained ended up to be around $100,000. Instead of keeping this money for himself or putting it back into WDS next year, Chris generously decided that he would invest this money in all the attendees. At the beginning of the Summit, Chris gave all the attendees a copy of his new book $100 Start Up and in the end, he gave back 1000 attendees $100 each to go and start something remarkable. I, like many others, were teary eye by this surprisingly act of trust in us that Chris had demonstrated. I truly believe that inspiring others to live a remarkable life by leading the way is Chris’s “calling” in life.

 

Not many of us are able to find a career we enjoy doing, and even a smaller few are able to discover our calling in life. Those that do find their calling will eventually come to uncover their cause, a purpose greater than themselves. This is the case for Scott Harrison, founder of Charity Water and one of the keynote speaker at WDS. "Face with spiritual bankruptcy” after “living selfishly and arrogantly” as one of NY’s top nightclub promoters, Scott followed his calling and “signed up for volunteer service aboard a floating hospital with a group called Mercy Ships.” Traveling to the poorest parts of the world, Scott was finally able to “put a face to the world's 1.2 billion living in poverty. Those living on less than $365 a year - money I used to blow on a bottle of Grey Goose vodka at a fancy club. Before tip.” In choosing to now devote his life to a cause much greater than himself, Scott slowly came to realize that “charity is practical. It's sometimes easy, more often inconvenient, but always necessary. It's the ability to use one's position of influence, relative wealth and power to affect lives for the better. Charity is singular and achievable.” He got 1000 attendees, myself included, to stand up and pledge to give up our next birthdays so that we can bring clean water to people in need. Will you join us?

 

So if you are working at a job you hate, what transferable skills can you use to move into a career that you love? If you have already found a career that you love, what have you learned that you can apply to your calling in life? If you are already following your calling in life, what charitable element can you include to give back to a cause greater than yourself?  

 

I would love to hear your thoughts regarding this post or your own stories in the comment section below. Also, check out my travel photography and connect with me on your social media of choice to get pictures and blog post updates. Thank you for reading, visiting my website, and sharing it within your social network if like what you read and see.

 

BE THE CHANGE

by Hung Pham

 

Be strong to myself I say

It's just like any other day

I changed yet the world still

Suffers with peoples broken will

 

From my face a tear drops

For just a beat my heart stops

Much to do, where to start

Compassion has become a lost art

 

People met I now leave behind

Thank you those who've been kind

All your essence I take with me

Parts of me with you I leave

 

All my like-minded friends

A calling to you I send

Together lets take a stand

Worlds apart hand in hand

 

Be the change we want to see

We can do it if we believe

A difference we can make

The world is ours to take

 

 

 

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/7/career-calling-cause Mon, 16 Jul 2012 15:56:18 GMT
Pursuit of Passion and Purpose http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/6/Water  

Perhaps it is because up to 60% of my body is made of water that I feel a similar state to it. If you ever notice water in a lake, still and silent on top but dirty and murky underneath. That’s usually how I feel whenever I stay stagnant in one place, or at a job for too long. On the surface, I remain unaffected and quiet and go about my day as if nothing is wrong; however deep inside, I feel muddled, unclear about myself, and the life that I live. On the other hand, like moving water that is constantly clear, lively, and ever flowing, I feel so much more clarity, alive, and ever changing when I am on the go and traveling. This feeling is something I have forgotten or tried to suppress in order to go about my day, do my job, pay my bills, and go on with the life I am supposed to live. Until a three weeks trip to Europe in the fall of 2011 stirred things up again and revived my dormant wanderlust. Soon after I got back, I started planning my escape from cubicle nation. Five months later in April of 2012, I resigned from my Career Consultant position so that I can travel the world and pursue my passion in photography. I will be starting with the National Parks in the US first in the summer before heading overseas to Southeast Asia in the fall of 2012. Taking this creative sabbatical was a very difficult decision to make but at 33 years old, I've come to realize that I generally come to regret more the things I've wish I've done but never did then the things I did do, regardless of their outcomes and consequences.

 

For those of you that may be envious of what I am doing, I would like to let you know that I will be sleeping mostly in my tent and living out of my car for this first road/camping trip and pretty much homeless after that living out of a 32 inch duffel bag when i travel overseas. However, it is a sacrifice I am willing to make to pursue my passion and live life on my own terms. I have either had people tell me that what I am doing is inspiring or they look at me like I am crazy for quitting my job in this economy. I see it as just being honest with myself and what I really want out of life. To be lying to myself and pretending to do anything else otherwise would be crazy.  And if you are thinking “Well, that’s great for you, but I could never do something like that even if I wanted to”, I urge you to read this blog post by Chris Guillebeau, a fellow world traveler who has been to 185 countries in the world and he is only 34 years old. If he can do it, so can I, and so can you! 

 

And if travel is not your thing, have you given any thought to what you are passionate about? Are you truly honest with yourself about what you really want out of life? Are you living the life that you wish or secretly wishing to be living another life? 

 

I would love to hear your thoughts regarding this post or your own stories in the comment section below. Also, check out my travel photography and connect with me on your social media of choice to get pictures and blog post updates. Thank you for reading, visiting my website, and sharing it within your social network if like what you read and see.

 

WATER

by Hung Pham

 

Water is in us

We change as we rise and fall

God is in the rain

]]>
hungontheworld@gmail.com (Hung On The World) http://www.hungontheworld.com/blog/2012/6/Water Fri, 15 Jun 2012 18:49:00 GMT