Right so, the summer after my European runaround saw me working as a security guard after repeating my final exams at school (between repeats I'd squeezed in a year at animation college) It had been a lonely old year, and working nights had made the summer just as lonely. But, like the Cylons, I had a plan. Greece. Greek island hopping with my friends, before inter railing back. All seemed set to go, when, the day we were meeting in town to buy tickets, ALL my friends pulled out, at literally the last moment. Distraught I emailed a friend.. What should I do? "Go to Thailand" she said. "Alright", I said and two weeks later I was sitting in a Jumbo Jet descending towards Bangkok airport paging through a guidebook belatedly trying to find a place to stay. I found a place, but couldn't for the life of me remember its name long enough to get to the taxi rank, so just barged through the waiting besuited touts, leapt into a taxi, and once again started paging through my lonely planet.
The weeks that followed were crazy. At first I was clueless at how to save money, my first dazed wander through the rickshaw and tuk tuk crowded streets saw me being ripped off by some tuk tuk driver and being ferried to a very expensive Thai Boxing match (expensive boring tourist seats that is), it wasn't until meeting a scottish lass and her spanish boyfriend in Ayuthaya that I had everything explained to me. The dos and don'ts of off the beaten track adventure travel. What to say, where to go, where to eat. The stress melted away, and the adventure flowed in.
A day on a train, third class with the locals, not a westerner in sight. People with corn on a stick and wierd satay chicken things in plastic liquid filled bags passing down the carriage at every station. Sitting with my shows up on hard wooden seats, yet it being the most relaxing journey of my life.
Forgetting to take my shoes off as I wander into a wood pannelled victorian looking hotel, a wat(temple) steaming with incense across the muddy brown river. Tramping in, fedora on head, as I walk up the steps it starts to clang, look down, somehow I've managed to get the 'remover your shoes' sign nailed to my booted feet
Getting carried away by independence, ignoring the offer of lifts (fearing touts) at some bus station, instead following my map and instincts to walk into town. Both proved flawed as since the map had been made the bus station had been moved to the other side of town. Also, the town being strangely symmetrical didn't help much. A friendly shop keeper drove me to a hotel for free.
Staying up alnight chatting to a british writer, traveling the world for a year now. The geckos scrambling around us.
Hiring a bicycle, the first I'd ridden in years, and spending a day cycling around the Ayuthaya ruined temple complex as it starts to rain. Avoiding someone someone aggressively selling postcards by climbing over the back wall, the snake I almost landed on was as scared and surprised as me as we both ran/slithered in opposite directions.
Best of all, signing up for a trek in Chaing mai the moment I arrived in the city, whisked off for final preparations with 6 germans, and then the next morning off we go in the back of a Saweng Chewang, or pickup truck jungle bound. Stop in an ancient abandoned monastery that made use of an extensive cave system, stunning my companions as I climb vertically down a narrow shaft in an antechamber, then dissapear into a labyrintine set of tunnels. As we drove through the jungle I hung out the side, "You are like Indiana Jones, Yes?" I could only laugh, as I grabbed at passing vines. One had thorns, I made no noise, just sat back inside, hiding the cuts on my hands. No German Will know of this...
We stopped off and walked through the jungle for hours, stopping in the village of a Karen hill tribe, most amazing dinner I've ever had was prepared for us, I went off playing with the kids, amusing them with my Irish ways, amazing night of chat and music. Next morning up early to bathe in a nearby river and meet our Elephant mounts. Once I got my chance to sit on the elephants neck, away from the bamboo sofas strapped haphazardly to their backs, I was in my element. I listened to the guides as they commanded the elephants, picked up what I could, and used it, my elephants sped away from the rest, and the rest of the trek became a race. Fantastic!
About this time it started to rain. It was Monsoon season. I encouraged everyone to join me in "I'm singing in the rain"
Soon we left our elephants behind and continued into the jungle, at one point there was a commotion up ahead and our party came to a halt with a mixture of gasps, ooos, and aah, I went to take a look, there on a nearby bush was a long green snake, like some thin vine with a bulbous head, it looked, wavered, then drew back like an archer drawing a shaft - our guide dived in, dashing against a tree with his stick. Killing it with a second blow across the head. It had been a green mamba, if it had bitten one of us, we'd have never gotten help in time.
That night we stayed in a hut by a river, for the next morning some locals had built us a couple of crude rafts, sticks of bamboo strung together with a triangular structure jutting up on which to hang our bags. The river was rough from the rain the day before (at times we'd been climbing through a veritable waterfall of mud) so it was advised we remained seated on our rafts, I was having none of that, so stood, surfer like and rode the rafts which didn't so much surmout the water as became one with it. At one point one of our guides behind me was twaked off by a low lying branch, they were standing too, me and a Chris, one of the Germans, quickly scrabbled to help him and grabbed him just in time.
Eventually it was back to dry land where, after an attack by army ants (I chose exactly the wrong place to fix my pack) and a shoe malfunction we were reunited with our pick ups. They took us to a waterfall where we showered, and the highest spot in thailand, obscured totally by the rainclouds sitting on top of it, in which we stood.
Then it was back on my own again. And I sorely missed the company. I diverted down south, as I felt I owed it my time, but beaches have never been for me so I stayed only two nights. One night I ran the miles long beach with a skinny white bearded guru character and tried to sneak onto a 5 star hotels private beach by climbing along the underside of a bridge. Simply cos I had nothing to do. Next day I was about to get a taxi, but the man claimed his piece of laminated card was a meter so I jumped out of his taxi, out ran him protesting behind me and slung myself over the side of a pickup truck full of locals. The local way to travel was dirt cheap, and the wind was in my face.
Back in Bangkok after numerous other adventures everything was easier. I played games with the Tuk Tuk drivers, who knew I was onto them and laughed along with me, I took a detour over a random bridge, hopped on a ferry full of orange clad buddhist monks and sailed down river to a local shopping district, where a westerner was a surprise, and friends were easy to make. Then it was back home.
It had only been three weeks. But what a three weeks it was.
Location: Berlin, Germany, but born & raised in Chicago
Can't say I have intentionally planned an "Indy Adventure," but pursuing my diplomas in archaeology have led me to the UK (Scotland and England) at least four times, China, Myanmar, lived a year in Thailand (traveled the interior extensively for research purposes), Cambodia, Germany (currently living/working in Berlin/Magdeburg), the American Southwest (one year), Austria, Venice, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and in a couple weeks Greece. Having gotten my passport at 17, or around that age, it filled up rather quickly. Oh, looking back at my passport, I had forgotten two months in the Caribbean too.
And of course these come with their own fill of adventures off the tourist track. I love the tourist stuff, don't get me wrong, but when you travel for work or to do research they (your travels) take you to places like you see in the movies. E.g. negotiating your way down the Salaween River, NOT to the interior of Myanmar (like in Rambo IV), but to a real Karen village (Real Karens are rejected by the Thais and the former-Burmese and are forced to small inaccessible land between the two countries; the tourist Karens with long necks make a living from their long necks, with no tradition behind it). But our tiny canoe with a motor still needed to be searched by the Myanmar military with their weapons and strong dislike towards our Thai companions. It can get a little nerve racking having the Myanmar guard stab at the pig one of our companions was carrying with the bayonet on the end of his AK. But we made it, obviously, which makes everything ok in the end. Except for the pig...
Then there was the elephant riding, but not the tourist kind via bamboo couches! Studying mahout methods far far from Chiang Mai and spending most of my time in small villages meant going as the locals go: just with the elephant. But after a few days of that, I would have loved a couch on my elephant....
I could go on, but adventures are better experienced than reminisced in my opinion.
Sounds pretty great Archaeologist, not sure why I babbled on as long as I did. I followed an Archaeology degree too, but unfortunately in Ireland they only teach you Irish archaeology, three times in a row, and theres no opportunity for foreign travel. I Totally and completely agree that off the tourist track is far better, living in the country better still. Any traveling I've done has been gasped between bouts at college or field work in the wilds of Tipperary.
You're pretty lucky to have the opportunity to study in such places. If I'd had such a chance I'd probably still be an archaeologist. All the archaeologists I know are unemployed thanks to what the recession has done to Ireland.
Please understand, I wasn't trying to be boastful, or smug or anything. I'm certainly not trying to belittle anyone elses achievements. I'm no longer in a position to travel anywhere for quite some time. Reminiscing is pretty much all I have. I'm an impoverished actor now. Maybe someday I'll get the chance to travel again. Never happier then when I'm traveling. I guess I just got carried away.
Location: Berlin, Germany, but born & raised in Chicago
No worries, J.Jones, didn't think you were trying to be boastful or anything. Everyone who is/was excited about their travels should express them that way! I do it frequently between pints with colleagues or students and whilst searching for funding...
Too bad about only Irish Archaeology three times in a row too! I was fortunate enough to come from the school of approaching archaeology via anthropology, a method which has been taken up by the U.K. (albeit slowly) in the last couple decades. Point is, I could focus on the holistic study of mankind (and the given history) through material remains, as opposed to the study of history through material remains. Selfishly, I am thankful to people who have had a specialized focus (numismatists, etc) because it helps my interpretations of findings go smoothly and come into focus clearer. Good luck with your acting and if I am ever in Ireland I'll look you up!
Well im glad to see a bunch of you talking about your trips to Thailand. I actualy want to go really bad and am thinking about doing a trip in the spring/summer. Probably late May or early June. Can I get any advice from you guys who have gone. What beaches would be good that time of year, Phuket or Koh Samui? Id want to go for at least two weeks, what kind of money would that take? I know the dollar to baht exchange is actually strong( the bad part about traveling to the UK this year). I have looked at flights and from NY that seems to be at least 1000. I also gotta find someone to go with, cause I think going alone would get lonely.
DUDE!!! where in colorado did you go??? i live there and ive been almost everywhere in the state; Durango, Rifle Falls, just about everywhere!! hiking in Colorado is fun, especially with all the pretty views at the tops of the mountains...
Location: Neuchâtel, Switzerland (Canadian from Montreal)
Well, I just had an adventure this past weekend.
Since it was my birthday, my girlfriend treated me to a weekend in beautiful Lugano, Switzerland which is right near the Italian border. Planning our route, we chose to drive through the famous Furka Pass and St. Gotthard Pass to traverse the Alps but little did we know that they're only open from June-October. Signs along the road indicated that the Furka was closed off but the 1st section was open so we went for it. Splendid scenery. Eventually, we reached a semi-barrier which a car could drive around. The barrier pole was up but there were warnings (in German ONLY!) about danger/driving at your own risk, etc...Feeling adventurous, we continued on...(simply to see how far we could get).
Evidence of recent avalanches were abundant. No living thing was in sight and we drove forward in solitude & bliss amongst the majesty of the surrounding mountains. The first tunnel we reached was a downward curve. Shortly after entering it we realized that the tunnel lights were shut off and it was pitch black so I hit the brakes because my girlfriend started freaking out. While reversing, another car with two dudes came up behind us. I waved for them to pass and they tore off into the darkness. Then I had to DRIVE BACKWARDS on these tight, twisty roads for about half a mile before finding a suitable place to turn around. While doing so, one of the rear wheels went over the edge and the car shifted! As my girlfriend SCREAMED, I got us level again and we were O.K. (Thank G_d for 4-wheel drive!) I can be pretty fearless at times but this moment gives me shivers just thinking about it!
Later down the road, I got out to take some photos and a few seconds after I shut the car door, heard ROCKS FALLING! Soon after that, the car with the 2 dudes came back down, too! Ha ha. Seems like it was really blocked off further ahead. (And that’s just ONE story! Heh heh.) Kind of a scary experience but...what a THRILL!
I dream of seeing many of the ancient wonders around the world: the Egyptian pyramids, the Sphinx, the (new)Alexandrian library, the Great Wall of China, the ziggurats, Machu Picchu, the Acropolis and Parthenon (whatever's left of them), Stonehenge and a host of others...
I've been on an adventure in Belize. We canoed up the river to our campsite in the jungle, we explored the Xunantunich ruins, sailed to the islands to dive for conch shells, had a run in with a would-be bandit on the beach (one of the guys in our group chased him with a machete, until the cops stopped them both), and stayed for the month in a beach cabana. Easily the best adventure I've had yet.
Today I hiked prehistoric mysterious site: (taken from the NPS.gov site):
"Mysterious Spruce Hill is the world’s largest Hopewell hilltop enclosure and one of only three such rare hilltops surrounded by a mound of stone. Though little remains of the stone walls, hikers will get a sense of scale for the prehistoric project when standing in the middle of the mesa. Spruce Hill is not normally open to the public without prearrangements, so this is an uncommon opportunity to explore this amazing site within the scenic Paint Valley."
I also managed to squeeze into my Europe vacation next month, a trip to Wewelsburg Castle...Himmler's SS Castle, which sounds very Indiana Jones-ish: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wewelsburg, then the next day I'm following in Young Indy's footsteps on the battlefield of Verdun.
'Baywatch' Babe Donna D'Errico Cancels Quest for Noah's Ark
Donna D'Errico is canceling her life-long dream quest to find Noah's Ark because she fears if she makes the trip, she might never return.
D'Errico announced her plans in January to head out on an expedition to Mount Ararat in Turkey -- where the Bible says the Ark came to rest -- something she's wanted to do since she was a little girl. She's been training to make the climb for the past 12 weeks and it's all been filmed for an eight-part documentary.
But now D'Errico is scrapping the plans, saying she now fears for her safety if she goes.
First, her hiking partner canceled because of death threats. Then, her guide (a local Kurdish man) "relentlessly attempted to talk [her] out of" going, D'Errco said, and eventually he jumped ship as well.
I've been on quite a few adventures of my own.
I'm from the UK, but I've lived in Russia (where I was shot at), the US, the Bavarian Alps, Poland, Ireland, and now I'm in Germany. I've also travelled to the Ukraine, China, South Africa, Egypt (where I narrowly avoided the Luxor Massacre) and a healthy handful of other locations..
Last year I did a 'proper' Indy trip: I travelled to a remote monastery in East Tibet (complete with fedora, of course! That said, all the nomads wear fedoras there and have done so since meeting Westerners in the early 20th C).
The trip was a real eye-opener. I even managed to acquire a couple of 'artefacts that belong in a museum': ancient wood print blocks from the monastery.
Here's a picture of my shadow at the monastery (I couldn't resist!)
Below that, some images from there.
When i was little i used to go camping all the time, and i think 4 years ago i went to catalina and explored some caves there, and i have visited Calico ghost town many times with my dad, and last summer i went river rafting near Coloma, where the california gold rush started, and this summer im going to visit the peat bogs in ireland. Oh and i might visit moaning caverns this summer too, which is also in california, near sacramento.