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Category Archives: Photography

Malacca, Malaysia – Bring On The Street Food!

Our first stop in Malaysia was Malacca.  Conquered by the Portuguese in 1511, the town was one of the first sultanates and had already been a center of trade for hundreds of years.  After the Portuguese the city had many other rulers including the Dutch, British, and the Japanese during  WWII .  The city is full of different architecture styles melting together the different cultures and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.

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The city was quiet during the day but Friday-Sunday nights everything went out for the Jonker Walk Night Market.  Everyone piled into the street for amazing food and lots of random stuff to buy.  We tasted so many things and enjoyed ourselves a lot at the market.

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We made it to Malaysia!!!

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Jonker Street Night Market – Malacca, Malaysia

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Of course there’s karaoke!

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Anyone need a ride? We’re suckers for bright lights.

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Laksa – It’s the best!  Noddles with a fishy, coconut, lemongrass, and red pepper broth.  Usually there are some fried fish pieces and a hard boiled egg!

Malacca also had a nice river where you could take boat cruises.  It was either too hot or raining whenever we wanted to do it but we can’t do everything.

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Malacca River

There were temples and churches and mosques all on the same streets, everyone living together in harmony.  I know some other people in the world who could learn a think or two from that.

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There are always tigers and dragons guarding the temple doors.

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Here is a giant statue dedicated to Mr Malaysia, the pride of Malaysian bodybuilding.

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We really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of this city.  It felt like a small town really.  The food was fantastic and made us super excited to explore more of the country!  Stay tuned for our trip to the big city, Kuala Lumpur!!!!

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Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok, Thailand

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Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok, Thailand, epitomizes the new generation of hostel life.  It’s chic design emanates feng shui calmness to chill you out in the midst of your big-city adventure.  The dorms offer big, comfortable bunk beds with privacy curtains and the private rooms provide hotel-level luxury at a hostel price!  The backyard garden is a great space to enjoy the free breakfast, do yoga, or drink beers and play board games with your new hostel friends!

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Yim Yam is more than just a well-designed hostel.  It’s also a community.  “Yim yam” means “Happy smiling” in Thai, and staying here sure will make you smile!  The friendly staff will help you get involved with all the hostel activities, like free yoga classes, game nights, or trips to famous weekend markets.  By hanging out in all the beautiful communal space, you’ll definitely meet some friends who. you can go party it up with on Khao San Road.

Best of all, since Yim Yam has only been open for two months, their rates are still super cheap!  You can get a special 30% off deal for your entire stay just by liking Yim Yam on Facebook.  Just book your stay on Hostelworld and ask the front desk for the Facebook discount when you check in!

Services Included:

Super-fast WiFi

Free continental breakfast with dorm booking

Free hot breakfast with private room booking

Air-conditioning in all rooms

24-hour reception

Cafe and bar serving food and drinks

Activities, games, and books!

Address: 503/2 Petchburi Road, Phaya Thai District, Ratchathewi, Bangkok, Thailand 10400.  Only steps away from the Ratchethewi BTS Skytrain station.

Email: info@yimyambkk.com

Website: www.yimyambkk.com

Prices:

12-bed dorm: 420 ฿

8-bed dorm: 483

Female-only 12-bed dorm: 448 ฿

Private for 2: 1113 ฿

Family room for 4: 2450 ฿

Twin room: 1323 ฿

Double room: 1323 ฿

Deluxe double room: 1533 ฿

Crater Lake National Park – Clean, Clear, Deep, and Blue.

 

Entering Oregon was something we were super excited for.  Carrie hadn’t been there yet, so it was her 44th state.  We found a free campsite in a quiet spot on the shores of Klamath Lake and set about relaxing for the afternoon.  The sky was again smoky from distant forest fires which created a cool haze.  After dark we had to escape into our tent because the mosquitoes were intense.

It the morning we got an early start and made our way north, passing through beautiful empty spaces.  Getting close to Crater Lake National Park we passed many cyclists racing up to the lake.  It looked like a fun ride, but grueling.   Our first view of the lake was very impressive.  I had been here before as a child and enjoyed it then just as much.  My family tells me stories of how I talked about it for weeks.

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Dirtbag life-131Crater Lake was created almost 8,000 years ago by the collapsing of a volcano.  It is the deepest lake in the United States, at 1,949 feet deep.  There are a couple of beautiful islands, Wizard Island being the most prominent.  We drove around to the north side, which took a lot longer than expected but was a stunningly beautiful drive.

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We parked at the top of the Cleetwood Trail, the easiest way to the bottom.  I had also heard from my father many times about how he had to carry my brother and I back up this trail after the whole family went to the base.  It was much easier now with full-sized legs.  There trail was just over a mile one way and we were quickly at the bottom.  The water was icy cold still even though it was August, but Carrie just had to get in so she cliff jumped off an awesome rock.  You’ll see it in the awesome trip highlights video we are making!  You can never complain about blue blue water and rocks, no matter how cold.

On the way out we joined the traffic headed north for the big event.  It was eclipsing time and we were pumped.  Stay tuned for stories from Solar Town

 

 

Bishop, aka L.A.’s Reservoir

The eastern Sierras offer an abundance of outdoor activities and, with climbing being our main goal for this leg of the trip, Bishop was a great home base for exploring the area.  We Couchsurfed with a very nice guy named Doug who showed us around town then left for work for four days.  It was very generous of him to let us take over his house for that time.  Gotta love Couchsurfing!  Having just climbed Mt. Whitney, Doug’s house was a perfect place for us to rest our tired bones.  I set up my solar panel out back and we made nice meals.  Life was grand.

Before leaving on his work adventure hauling oil from the Nevada desert to Long Beach in southern California, Doug drove us around the small town telling us interesting facts.  He told us about the Lone Pine earthquake around the turn of the 19th century that left the whole valley to the south 30 feet lower.  He also told us about how Bishop could never expand because of the fact that all the land around the town is owned by Los Angeles County.  Great amounts of water flow in from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the spring and summer, accumulating in the lakes and rivers around Bishop.  This water is collected and diverted into aqueducts that carry it more than 250 miles to the dry metropolis of L.A.  It seemed wrong to us, but what do we know.

After Doug left for work we drove north towards Mammoth and checked out a few hot springs near the Mammoth Airport.  First we found Wild Willy’s, which was awesome at first but then a van full of adolescent French kids interrupted our scenic soak.  But there were more springs down the road and we found a cool group of people at Hilltop Hotsprings, a small pool with an amazing view.  Everyone soon left except a guy who owned a ski shop in Mammoth Lakes.  We talked about forest fires, as one had ignited nearby.  He explained his idea to drop giant fireproof tarps over the fires to extinguish them.  Sure, dude.

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Wild Willy’s Hot Spring

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Gorgeous, gorgeous eastern Sierras!

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On our second day in Bishop we headed back towards the north looking for a recommended climbing crag called Clark Canyon.  We got off road for a long time then realized we went the wrong way in.  Around the other side of the hills the road got bad and we took our rock-crawling Prius to its offroading limits.  The area was remote and probably a lot prettier before recent wildfires had blackened most of the trees.  Just when I though we could go no further, about six miles and an hour through dirt, we came to the parking spot and geared up.  The rock was fun volcanic tuff and we climbed a few routes.  Several ways up I found some sketchy bolts and had to downclimb, but in general the area was great and we soon found ourselves worn out and headed home.

For our third day we headed to the famous Happy Boulders near Bishop.  We got out there around 8 to avoid the heat and quickly found lots of fun rocks.  There were hundreds, if not thousands of problems and we hung out for a few hours sending a few popular routes such as Heavenly Path, a great rock with a scary 20+ foot top out.   We wore ourselves out early again and relaxed through the hot afternoon, making dinner and catching up on some TV shows.  It sure was great having our own house.

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Yay Happy Boulders!

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Our last day in town we wanted to do some more climbing but all the spots around Bishop had some kind of issues, so we got up in the dark and drove south to try to tackle more routes in the Alabama Hills area near Lone Pine.  We wanted to send the Shark Fin rock around sunrise to capture the classic picture of the climb with Mt. Whitney in the background.  It was a fun climb and we got the perfect shot.  Afterwards we went to the Tall Wall near the Meat Loaf Campsite.  This was my first 100+ foot lead climb– super nerve racking but the adrenaline was well worth it.  We climbed a little more nearby then went and found a fun chimney but it was nearing 100 degrees and we were tired so we hit up the Pizza Factory lunch buffet in Lone Pine and drove home to nap.  We were finally feeling safer climbing and it was great.  If only we had a few more months to bum around the States we might actually be good!  But this would not be the trip that we became climbing pros, Alex Honnold your title is safe for now.

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Carrie on the Shark Fin, Mt. Whitney in the distance!

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Zach up on the edge!

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We love rocks!

Stay tuned for tales of our adventures in Yosemite, Northern California, Oregon for the eclipse, and back to Black Rock City for the infamous Burning Man!

 

Trinidad: Buildings and Beaches

Trinidad, Cuba is a small colonial city on the south coast of the island, about a four hour drive from Havana.  Nestled on a hillside overlooking the Caribbean, Trinidad offers pristine examples of colonial architecture.  The buildings were painted in all different bright colors and the streets where cobblestone.  This was our favorite city for live music as you could literally hear three or four bands from any spot you stood at in the touristic area.

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Plaza Mayor

Our second day in Trinidad we rented bikes from our casa particular (15 CUC for two mountain bikes for the day) and set off on another adventure.  We were headed to Playa Ancón located about 15km from the city.  It was an easy, flat ride so in no time we rolled through the small fishing village of La Boca and along the coast towards the beaches.  We passed trees of tamarind and swarms of dragonflies and the weather was perfect.  The asphalt road was potholed and sandy the whole way, so bikes were perfect for the journey.  Playa Ancón is the most idyllic beach on Cuba’s southern shore, though it’s popularity pales in comparison to the northern Veradero-area beaches. The beach had beautiful white sand and the water was the exact postcard-perfect blue that we all idealize.  This was our only beach day of the trip because well, we live at the beach in San Diego, California.

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Fishing beach at the Rio Guarabo river mouth in La Boca

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Playa Ancón

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Viñales – Enchanted Land of Tobacco

Havana was great and all, but after spending four nights in the the busy big city we were ready for some country time.  Our señora in our casa particular arranged for a taxi to grab us in the morning for the ride east.  The shared cabs only cost about 10% more than the Viazul buses and get you there way faster with their door-to-door services.  We were picked up by an old blue 1950s Buick – a wobbly, feel-the-springs-in-the-seat, smell-the-exhaust-in-the-cabin, but still-watch-music-videos-on-the-dashboard kind of taxi.  No seat belts in Cuba, but the AC worked somehow.  We rode with a pair of students from New York, who were on a whirlwind tour of the country.  Outside the city we felt like we had gone back in time.  Horse-drawn carriages and tropical farms of bananas and sugar cane.  Everything was green and lush and it was hard to believe that there wasn’t an abundance of all foods on the island.  We were headed for Viñales, the land of the worlds finest tobacco.

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Rain storms over Viñales, Cuba

After about a three hour drive we arrived at our new casa, a cute pink house run by Cary and Anay, a mother and daughter.  Like all the houses in Viñales, it had rocking chairs on the front porch, from which you could lounge and people-watch the day away.

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Viñales, Cuba

Day two we rented bicycles and headed out into the countryside of Parque Nacional Viñales.  The grand moros (rocky hills) were all around us.  Instead of the mountains raising from the earth, underground rivers had caused the valley floor to fall creating the dramatic landscape.

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The Cuban countryside

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Riding bikes past La Cueva El Palenque

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Transportation

A few miles outside of town we came to La Cueva del Indio, one of a series of many caves in the area.  The cave tour is accessible through a restaurant and costs 5 CUC.  The caves had a nice walking path through them that led to a boat ride down an underground river.  It was nice except for a super-obnoxious family in front of us.  Seriously, who yells in caves and moves precariously-balanced rocks around trying to find a lens cap?

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The underground river at la Cueva del Indio in Viñales, Cuba.

Once back in town we headed down a side street to the edge of the village where we were found an organic tobacco farm.  We took a tour (in Spanish) where they explained the growing, drying, fermenting, and rolling processes of Cuba’s famous cigars.  They also explained the difference between organic and chemical tobacco production.  At the end we tried some of the organic Monte Cristos dipped in local honey.

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Organic tobacco drying house

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Traditional tobacco drying house

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Fields of tobacco

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Telling us about Monte Cristos, Che’s favorite cigars!

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Rolling a cigar.  They use four leaves and honey to hold it all together.

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Packs of cigars in banana leaf packs

We only had the bikes for one day so headed out again in the other direction to the strange and epic Mural de la Prehistoria, a strange giant painting on the cliffside.  Apparently it took several painters many years to complete.

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Mural de la Prehistoria

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On day three we decided to go for a hike.  We walked past the turn off for the Mural then after about one more kilometer took a right turn and headed towards Los Aquaticos, a village on the hillside.  The Lonely Planet had some general directions but we asked some farmers along the way, brushing off several dudes who wanted to guide us up there.  The views were fantastic along the way and we felt at peace amongst the country animals and fields.

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Carrie’s new bestie!

At the top there was a small blue ranch house with a view of the valley.  They sold delicious  coffee grown on site that you could sip while enjoying the scenery.  A cute pig snuggled up to Carrie.

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Royal Palms

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The view from Los Aquaticos

You could hike up farther but it was growing late in the afternoon and we were satisfied with our adventure.   After eating dinner we took a nap then went out late to the government-run dance hall.  Every town had at least one of these places with a salsa band and bar and lots of people.  We really need to learn some moves!  Until we do, it’s still fun to watch everyone boogie down.  Viñales was an all-around great time, with lots of nature and fun nightlife!

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Let’s salsa!

Havana’s Rumba Paradise

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Havana is a paradise for music and art, and on our Sunday there we decided to check out an amazing little spot for both!  Callejon de Hamel is a short block in central Havana that’s also the center of Afro-Cuban culture in the city.  Eclectic and artsy, it almost seems like the Burning Man of Cuba.  Funky art galleries, rapping buskers, recycled street art, Santería icons, performers, and wall-to-wall people enjoying the lively atmosphere.

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“I am art among the arts, and in the hills, I am a hill.”

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Bathtub art

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At the end of the alley was a whole rumba group.  The crowd was thick but we gradually made it close enough to see most of the action.  The rhythms were free-flowing and improvisational, each drummer vibing off the others.  The singers chanted, and other percussionists danced maniacally with maracas.  Check out the video below!  We loved it!

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