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My round the world travel inspiration.

Before my first G Adventures tour in South Africa/Namibia, and before the first season of Departures aired, my only real travel experience was a week long vacation at an all inclusive resort in Mexico. The type of travel these 3 guys did was completely foreign in my world. Long term travel and around the world adventures wasn't part of my vocabulary. I came from a work-o-holic family and the only family vacation we ever took, was when I was around 5 years old, to Taiwan.

Scott, Justin and Andre's passionate travel series got me off my ass and go experience the world. What I've done so far, could probably last 2 life times, and I'm hardly finished.

The DVD/Blu-Ray sets are definitely worth purchasing. I have the original DVD set, ordered them the second they were available and I can't tell you how many times I've watched them. I kept a copy on my laptop, and would watch an episode or two, on quiet days, or on days I felt burnt out and needed a little motivation. 

Photos from my Petra trip: Petra set

The benefits of long term travel No. 3

The polar Inuit assumed that they were the only people in the world, so when they saw their first white stranger, the explorer Sir William Parry, in 1821, they said to him, “Are you from the Sun or the Moon?
— The Tao of Travel, Paul Theroux

The best Thai cuisine is found in Chiang Mai

If you never traveled through Chiang Mai, or any part of Northern Thailand and currently believe you know what good Thai food is, sorry, a reality check is mandatory. Thai food around this area blows all other Thai food into carbon dust. Watch this documentary. Then goto Chiang Mai. Eat as much as you can. Maybe visit Andy RIcker's place if you happen to be in the neighborhood. 

Day no. 597, my first time in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Feeling quite burnt out from traveling and just constantly being on the move. Spending too much time bussing 5 hours here, 10 hours there, on unpaved roads, I was looking for a break and settling down for a bit - the backpacker, round the world traveler way =]

I thought I knew what Thai food was... I come from a foodie city. Food critics, writers and bloggers often say Vancouver has the best Asian cuisine outside of Asia. It's mostly true, but Thai food outside of Thailand is almost laughable, until I ate my way through Chiang Mai. Thai cuisine found in the Western world can only be best described in 2 ways. Chinese style flavours with a some Thai ingredients. Or, cheap knock offs, comparable to the horrendous dishes found on Khao San Road, Bangkok - aka, backpacker/tourist central.

My first day in Chiang Mai, right by the hostel I was staying at, was a little food stall, on a corner of a super busy intersection. Their specialty, a coconut curry noodle soup with braised beef - the Khao Soi. I can't remember if I just chewed any of it or just dumped the bowl and its entire contents down my throat, but my mind was blown. The only right thing to do was order a second bowl, didn't matter the temperature was nearing 40 degrees celsius and the humidity nearing 90%. That was my introduction to Northern Thai food and my palette made a bit more wiser.

Travel Gear: Nikon

This used to be my original travel setup, consisting of a Nikon D90, and quite a few lenses, plus a SB-400 ultra compact flash. When I first started my round the world trip, it was just 3 lenses: the Nikon 50mm f1.4, Sigma 10-20mm and Nikon 70-300mm. Two years later, I added the Nikon 16-35mm lens and sold the Simga. And another year afterwards added Nikon's 85mm f1.4, swapped the SB-400 for a SB-700 flash. I have no idea what I was thinking and can only chalk it up to G.A.S. - gear acquisition syndrome. One of most shocking things never to happen to all this gear, that I shoved in between my main backpack and day backpack, and typically left lying around in hostel dorm rooms, nothing ever went missing. But oddly enough, had a few, freshly laundered shirts, voluntarily relieved of its duty by other travelers.  Nowadays, my only Nikon gear left is a FE2 film camera.

Shooting digital, I've made the switch to a mirrorless camera and can't imagine going back to a bulky DSLR again. The advantages a DSLR once had over compact cameras, especially for long term travel that includes ocean and desert crossings, wandering the streets of densely populated cities, to multi week treks, mirrorless is really the way to go.

Coming back in print: The Decisive Moment

If you never read, "The Decisive Moment" by HCB, I can't recommend it enough. It's probably the finest collection of some of his most iconic shots and his personal thoughts and beliefs on making great photos. It's been out of print for quite some time now, so your only chance to see it, is at your local library (my library only has one reference copy printed in 1954) or being lucky enough to find it used. Fortunately, high end book publisher, Steidl is bringing back, and I can't wait to get my own copy of this amazing book.

Travel Gear: Merino Wool

Merino wool shirts are always part of my travel gear, I don't go anywhere without them. The two shirts in the photo are by Icebreaker and I've had them with me since day 1 of my round the world adventures. Other than some sweat stains (don't ever use anti-perspirants with aluminum, they will ruin the shirts) and a few really small holes, they've survived remarkably well to all the conditions I've put them through. The biggest advantage to merino wool is their no stink properties. Doing a 4 day trek in Patagonia, my clothes were all merino wool, 1 set for hiking and 1 set for sleeping. That's all! They never had that horrible smell you get with those quick dry, synthetic shirts after just a few hours of wear. I've since added more pieces to cover every travel condition, enough to handle a 12 day trek to Everest Base Camp, still following the same rule of 1 set for hiking and 1 set for sleeping. I still haven't found anything better than merino wool.

If I owned a hostel.

At last count, I've stayed in 100 hostels, and I've seen them all. I sometimes daydream how I would build my own super, amazing, award winning hostel. Guests, with luggage and all, would be required to hop, leap and jump their way to reception, because the floor is hot lava. Those that fail to make it across will have to pay for wifi . Successful hot lava ninjas will be awarded not only free wifi, but also keys to the special washroom, with proper water pressure, both cold and hot water, and clean toilets.

 

*hot lava ninja is copyrighted and trademarked to me =]