Traveling to a new place is like taking a cold shower in an unfamiliar bathroom. First you fumble around, not knowing what any of the knobs and buttons do. This shower is too small, the water pressure is too weak, where do I hang up my towel? Then you flinch away from the cold water. This sucks. I want to get out. I miss the comfort of the last place I called home. But you know you need a shower, so you stay. You start slow, you legs and arms can take the cold water, but not your head yet. You curse a little along the way. Grab the soap, lather up. Soon enough things fall into place. You get used to the cold water. Then you are on auto-pilot. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. You have to get out. But you just got comfortable. The water just started to feel nice. Oh dear you’ve been in the shower for half an hour already. Time to leave again.
Perissa, Santorini, Greece.
When you say “gracias” to a Tico, they don’t reply with “de nada”, but instead with “con gusto”, with pleasure. That exactly sums up the hospitality of this beautiful country.
It was everywhere I went, from the Monteverde campus of the University of Georgia, to the beautiful beach town of Nosara, where hustling tourists in the scorching heat bound to make someone grumpy and wishing for a nap more than anything else.
And it was in the phrase: “We invited you here, you ARE one of us.”
This film has won the following accolades:
– Best Daisy Duke (short shorts – under 3 minutes) at the Traveling Shorts Film Festival 2015, presented at Romantso Cultural Center and Incubator in Athens, Greece.
– Finalist in the Geocaching International Film Festival 2015 in Seattle, WA, USA.
I think I’ve developed a geocaching addiction. I have a constant urge to get out and play (a lot of walking, hiking and scootering involved).
Geocaching is a modern day treasure hunt using coordinates to hide and seek containers called “geocaches”. The hunt is happening everywhere around us, so next time you see a hiker looking around bushes, staring at a handheld device, you know what they are doing.
Footage shot in Hokianga, Northland, NZ (October 2014).
12 Tips on Geocaching from Chau Pham on Vimeo.
During my trip to the Bay of Plenty in North Island, New Zealand, one of my ultimate geeky dreams came true when I visited Hobbiton in Matamata. It was as if I got transported straight into Tolkien’s fantasy world. At 1.6 meters tall (5’2” for imperial system barbarians), running around shouting “I’m going on an adventure!”, I felt right at home.
While at Hobbiton, the peacefulness and the hobbit way of life really got me thinking and reevaluating my own lifestyle. So here are six life lessons from Bilbo Baggins, everyone’s beloved hairy feet shorty.
1. Explore the world
“I’m going on an adventure!”
I met an immigration officer who spoke to me. Nicely. And not about issues with my passport or visa or boarding pass or anything of that sort. He spoke to me about my travels. It was kind of like small talk, which was a little strange. He looked at my passport and saw the visas in there and asked me if I was going to Japan for school. Negative. I just got back from Hiroshima three days ago and my summer break just started.
“Where are you going then?” he asked cheerfully, genuinely curious instead of just asking as part of procedure. I paused for a fraction of a second, my mind temporarily blanked on my final destination. You have to cut me some slack, I don’t meet friendly immigration officers very often. “I’m going to … America,” I eventually replied. He flipped through my passport. “America, India, Japan, you’ve been around! Are you traveling while studying?” Affirmative. He’s spot on, actually.
Some words are better spoken. Thus I did just that. It was enjoyable, so follow me on SoundCloud and hopefully I will be making more of this.
Every time I find myself at a train station, I am hit with this overwhelming urge to run away, start a new life and not messing it all up this time around. But then just like almost every other dreams I’ve ever had, that running away fantasy ended up in the same old dusty attic.
Music: “The 49th Street Galleria” by Chris Zabriskie
I woke up to
a deformed sky
doused with the sunrise
the warmth lingered on my skin
the cold flame
chilled me to the bone.
I looked out the window
to see a blinding red
what the divine wind saw
cherry blossom farewell
send the sinners home
Life is a hospital in which every patient is obsessed with changing beds…It always seems to me that I’ll be well where I am not, and this question of moving is one that I’m forever entertaining with my soul.’…’poets’, who could not be satisfied with the horizons of home even as they appreciated the limits of other lands, whose temperaments oscillate between hope and despair, childlike idealism and cynicism. – Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel.
I, for all of my almost-two-decade-long life so far, have been walking forwards facing backwards. Partly because I want to remember what the past was, and to hold on that whatever that is that made me the person I am today. But mostly because I am an adrenaline junkie. Not in the sense that I want to go zip-lining every waking moment, but more like I want to always have exciting things happening in my life.
Yes, I went to Moshi, Tanzania for two weeks during our school’s intersession, and I didn’t climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. In my defense, I wasn’t really prepared for such a physically challenging feat.
However, what I did get to do:
– Saw baby zebras at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
– Got my glasses stolen by a very curious toddler.
– Dug a foundation for a new school building and carried surprisingly heavy buckets of cement under the intense Tanzanian heat (Important: Keep hydrated, always).
– Hiked the Pare Mountains range (did I mention that I was very out of shape?).
I have two more days. Reality still hasn’t hit me yet. It felt like yesterday when I landed in Albuquerque after a grueling six-hour flight from Boston, after a four-day orientation at a boarding school in Connecticut without any air-conditioning, after a whole day of traveling halfway across the world. I am not looking forward to the long trip home. If only Doraemon’s “Anywhere Door” really exists.
I left home on a rainy Tuesday night. I will return on a Saturday night. Hopefully it will be rainy. Living in New Mexico gives one serious appreciation for water and humidity.
My mom is very excited for me to come home. She has been counting down the days ever since I arrived in Albuquerque ten months ago. I’m sorry I’m growing up, mom. Really, I am. Life seems so much easier when you were coloring outside the lines.