travel

adventures

4th & long…


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DCIM104GOPRO

Today I went to the 49ers – Seahawks game, it was freezing but I was well prepared. As for the game itself, it generally seemed like both teams were doing their best to lose… and at times the 49ers were blatantly throwing the game.

For me, attending sport live is purely for the atmosphere, and it was there in bunches, the noise was amazing, the crowd entertaining…

except for two things I’ll never understand, leaving early & getting smashed. One lady was trolleyed by halftime & keept falling over, eventually taken away by a medical crew. The other, bunches of fans left with 9 & 6 mins to go with their team down in a close game against a good opponent.

As a sports fan you live for these moments, sure you may beat the traffic home, but you’re leaving a potentially fantastic finish (how many Rockets fans regret bailing early in this game) not to mention you’ve just payed how much to be there?!!

Niners comeback & win.

 

I mentioned it was freezing, I read in the paper this morning that a homeless person died last night because of the cold… preventable death seems inherently more saddening.

While I’ve seen & talked with a couple of houseless people around the touristy areas, they are few and far in-between. It seems that for many on the streets money is made by recycling, scouring through the rubbish bins for cans & bottles, then trading them in.

In San Francisco, you can’t do that around the touristy areas, the bins are padlocked & have special lids.

vlcsnap-2013-12-26-21h46m14s67I would have thought, having someone sort your recyclables from land fill for free would be a good thing.

During the course of my travels this morning a run into two guys who work with the homeless & we get to talking… the plan is I’ll follow a houseless guy around for the day, either here in San Francisco, or in Oakland, I’ll get to go through soup kitchens, shelters and some of the social services. The catch, this still needs to be ok’d by the boss who will be back on Mon or Tues (I’m assured this shouldn’t be a problem as it’s been done several times before)…

Oh, and I’m due to fly to L.A 6am Monday morning.

4th & long.

Do you leave early or stay in hopes of pulling off something special.

 

Low: Darth Vader has left my dorm… only to be replaced by the worst snorer in the history of humankind. Imagine what it would sound like to give someone liposuction by placing a straw on their belly & trying to suck the fat through the skin (sort of a reverse raspberry), now mix that with a chainsaw.

fml.

If I’m arrested for murder you’ll know why.

 

High: Great conversation with a gay-Iranian cab driver on life in SF, his parents moving after the revolution & culture.

 

adventures

Welcome to the USSA


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soviet-us

I remember studying Russia in history, it was one of my favorite subjects. Revolutions, Communism, Stalin, secret police… I always thought Soviet Russia would have been a cool era/place to visit, I will never get to. But I imagine I’ve come close…

I’ve had the opportunity to fly both to, and within the U.S, before & after 9/11. I remember bracing myself for craziness in post 9/11 2003 & being really surprised by the lack of security (with the exception of one internal flight to New York, where I had to go through security twice… long story).

So I was a little surprised by how amped up everything is now 10yrs later.

I can look past taking my shoes off, stripping naked, getting bomb tested & patted down at every airport check-in (ok the naked part is a joke, but sometimes I feel it would be easier to go through security in my pj’s & get changed after). I can ignore the cattle-herded lines, flipping gates & barking orders.

But the constant “report anything suspicious” PA announcements, the sign in the bus that reads “your image & voice may be recorded… Voice?!! wtf! what’s that about. The poster which reads “Can you spot what’s out of place?”, “Take a moment to observe your surroundings and report all suspicious behavior”…. well all that, that just feels like,

Welcome to the United States of Soviet America!

Just when I’m about to lose all hope, the guy barking at the cattle line cracks a joke, “Guy’s you don’t need to take your wedding rings off, I know you want to, but you can’t use us as an excuse”, he then proceeded to make fun of a kid with some impressive hat hair.

Faith restored.

Oops, spoke too soon… welcome back to Soviet Russia comrade Tim.

Honesty is not the best policy.

I made a cover for my kindle.

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I like the book feel, I like the added protection. I always declare what it is  when it’s scanned. Security generally chuckle & comment on it (Uganda, Australia, NZ, UAE, Bangkok).

Security go mental over it on my flight out of Hawaii, I have to stand aside, eventually 5 people are looking at it, I try to explain, I get told to “shut up & stand over there!”. It gets tested for explosives, scanned again, tested for explosives again… I get tested for explosives again & then have a 15 min conversation with two officers, where I noticeably feel dumber afterwards, the level of intelligence displayed is killing my brain cells.

The conversation goes in circles something like this,

they’re concerned the Kindle is “malicious”, I point out I had no ill intent by showing it to them, they’re concerned the Kindle is malicious, I show them it’s just a normal Kindle… but why did you hide it? I didn’t I showed it to you. Most suspicious, they’re concerned the book is also a “malicious device”…

this conversation repeats before I eventually laugh & say, “If I was going to bring a malicious Kindle I wouldn’t put it in a book & I wouldn’t show you”.

I get the book back with some parting muttering. Most suspicious.

I’ve learnt that inside the US honesty is not the best policy, I’ve since taken 4 internal flights where I’ve gone through security (one to New York) and have just left it in my carry-on bag without any questions. The secret to smuggling Malicious Kindles it seems, is don’t draw attention to them & don’t show anyone.

I land in LA, am fortunate that my transfer gate is next door & 15mins later I’m on my way to San Francisco. I arrive pretty sleep deprived, so consider it a minor miracle that I can figure out public transport to BART(speedy train) & bus my way to my accommodation.

That night I wander around the piers in the drizzling rain, there are not too many people around, it’s a refreshing change from the madness of Waikiki… almost as refreshing as the crisp air (6 deg.Celsius).

 

High: San Francisco feels like a refreshing change, I’m enjoying the crisp air.

Low: Airport Security… I wonder how many times this will make the low column.

Surprise: all the seals around Fisherman’s wharf, fighting & barking for position, power & female attention… not too unlike ourselves 🙂

 

adventures

Kicked Out


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I’ve been in Hawaii for 5  or 6 days now, part of that time has been for vacation & travel, part has been to hangout with & do some film/photo/doco work around the homeless/houseless.

There are two reasons for this,

1) I hope to be able to put something together to raise a little awareness about the houseless & how we treat/interact with them,

and 2) I want to do it in such a way that it’s accessible for anyone to do. I’m by no means a talented editor, creative, film maker etc… I’m shooting everything on a GoPro. I guess I hope to provoke one or two others to ask,

what is it in your world that doesn’t sit right with you, what can you do about it, how can you engage with it & advocate for change

This was a beautiful moment I witnessed last night.

Last night after the sunset on the beach I spend some time hanging out with some houseless people. I take a few pics & do a little film work. I sit with one guy for a couple of hours & he just talks, he cries, he laughs, he shares his story, from the mundane to the comical & tragic.

I listen. I’m not filming, it stops being about what I need.

Unlike some of the other ‘houseless’ he doesn’t have a group he hangs with, the only time people stop to talk is to see if he can hook them up with weed.

I don’t know how to describe it other than it seemed to be a healing moment for him, he asks for me to pray for him, I’ll make a point of seeing him before I leave.

On the way back I stop by this really flash mall full of Prada, Armani etc… it’s a stark contrast to what I’ve seen in the last couple of hours, I decide to ask a couple of questions,

“Hey I’ve a couple of questions about Hawaii, can you answer for me”, yes. “How long have you been in Hawaii?”, insert answer. “Whats the deal with all the homeless people around?”.

“sorry sir I can’t answer that”. “ummm….”. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave”.

One lady called security. I start leaving, I’m on the 3rd story & it’s a little tricky to get out. Eventually I get asked to hand my camera over. I refuse, there is no way that’s happening. You’re not allowed to film or take photos in the mall without permission, I point out the dozen or around us that are filming right now.

It’s clear they don’t want a confrontation because of either my size or the scene it would create. I get asked to accompany them to their office, yep that’s not going to happen either. They inform me they can call the  police & have me charged, I’m sceptically but a little worried that this might jeopardize the rest of the trip (and judging by a few incidents I’ve witnessed, I have no confidence in the police). We reach a compromise were I agree to delete some footage off the camera under their supervision, I do so (in hindsight, something I would regret).

One of the guys tries to snatch it off me quickly, the GoPro is attached by a cord to my wrist, dick move, “I’m going, try & stop me”. We’re calling the cops…

Once I get out and around the corner I’m sure I’m shaking. I head back to the hostel & knock back a few local beers with people from around the world, there’s a really good group in tonight, it’s a shame I’m leaving tomorrow.

Great-beers-best-local-beer-hawaii-beer-longboard-lager-big-wave-golden-aleHigh: the “random” timing in witnessing a beautiful moment of kindness. The comradery of  travelers.

Low: indifference

adventures

Swim with the Fishes


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Last night I thought I’d hit the,jackpot with my room, I’m in an 8 person dorm split into 2 rooms. I had one room to myself & the Aussie dude had the other…

It was short-lived, some guy came smashing through at 4am.

At 7am I’m on my way to the North Shore (other side of the Island) to look at some fish…

You’re in a cage with about 5 other people. The first time someone else bumps into you, you sh!t yourself… after that it’s just spectacular. We got a really calm clear day & could see 12-15 sharks out, which we were told was higher than normal.

How they attract the sharks is very cool. Basically for the last 50years crab boats have been stopping in this place and discarding the damaged crabs or the ones that are too small & the sharks come eat them. So the dive boat is fitted with the exact same engine, nothing is thrown into the water, the sharks come because  the engine sound/vibrations mean feeding time…. and then we hop into the water in a cage 🙂

On my return I chill at the beach for a bit, catching this sunset.

DCIM102GOPRO

High: Sharks, magnificent.

Low: the guy that crashed through at 4am was gone when I returned, just a layover to his next destination, he took all my toothpaste & toiletries etc

I could never get tired of: Sitting on the beach watching the sunset.

Random Conversation: Random well dressed guy (RWDG) stops me as I’m walking down a busy street,

RWDG: “hey are you from Australia?”

Me: “Nah, New Zealand”

RWDG: “Are you from Auckland or Wellington?”

Me: instantly impressed. “Christchurch”

… conversation carries on a little bit…

RWDG: “Do you know Charlie?”

Me: yeah cause I live on an island with a population of 200 people. “Who?”

RWDG: “you know Charlie… (me looking puzzled) … Charlie man… nose-candy”

New Experience: Someone trying to sell me crack.

 

adventures

Kauai


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A shuttle picks me up at, 3.30 am, I’m on my way to the airport (on 3hrs sleep), and off to Kauai. I only have time to visit one other island, it was a tossup between Kauai or Maui. I chose Kauai because of pictures like these.

Napali Coast

Kauai-Waterfalls-kauai-the-garden-island-15360348-1600-1200

I share my shuttle ride with a Grandmother, Mum & Daughter who are on their way to Maui for 2 days, I’m only in Kauai for the day.

Hawaiian Airlines were really average, they’ve just moved from “free-for-all” to assigned seating… so you pay extra to pick your seat etc, for a couple of long flights I’ve done that for the leg room, being tall in a plane is not that fun.

I didn’t this time, it’s a short flight. My mistake.

It’s the shortest space between seats of any plane I’ve been on, myself or the person beside me can’t put their tray down. My legs are hard pushed up against the seat & my knees are close to my head… but it’s ok because the emergency exit seats in front of me are empty, there are 7 of 8 seats free.

Except it’s not ok, I’m told I can not move because I didn’t pay the extra to choose my seat… I secretly wish for the plane to crash, because no is sitting there to open the door.

On arrival I stagger to the car rental & get a boring Sedan, the lady makes some comment about it being her last one & in demand… I’ve spied a few Mustang convertibles, so tell her I’d be happy to take one of those instead.

Jackpot! I’m in.

I spend the day driving from one side to the island & then to the other for the sunset. In between I stop at a few secluded beaches, do a couple of walks… oh & I put the Mustang through its paces on a couple of unsealed roads, bottoming out a few times & giving myself a couple of scares.

Thankfully it runs after dark, washing away the worst of my transgressions.

A few clips of the day.

On my flight back to Oahu all the emergency exits are empty, I just take one & “fall asleep” before I actually fall asleep… take that Hawaiian Air.

Kauai is nice, I’m still pretty blown away from the scenery from the day before, there is one massive coastal hike I’d love to do one day.

I get back to my room around 11.30 & crash… epic day.

Quote of the Day: “it’s for newlyweds & old people” –  the group that went to Maui.

High: Secluded beaches & the Mustang

Low: Hawaiian Air

Random Moment: Driving with the roof down & some sort of fruit fell out of a tree & exploded all over the back seat.

Inspiring Moment: On the flight back there is this old couple, kissing, holding hands, laughing & looking madly in love. They’ve been married 45yrs… beautiful.

adventures

Byodo-in 2


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DCIM102GOPRO

I awake to the sound of rain. It’s pouring down.

Beautiful.

Eventually I get out of bed & during a break in the rain decide to head to Byodo- in temple (take 2), freshly armed with the exact bus route I head off. I reach my transfer point only to discover that as of a month ago my connecting bus no longer connects… guess the website updates are running on island time.

Not only that, but because it’s Sunday it’s hardly running, not wanting to miss another opportunity I grab a different bus to get me closer, then suck-it-up & take cab.

My driver, Ricky (most popular name on the island so far) is a Vietnam vet who moved here after the war, he has seen Honolulu go through a ton of change, single lane highways to 8 lanes etc. He cuts me a good price as he picks up  another job over that way, gives me an umbrella & wishes me well.

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Byodo-in Temple is at the back of this cemetery & it is in the most pristinely beautiful area, these photos dont do it justice. It begins rain heavily, driving the few remaining tourists away, I’m absolutely soaked, but it’s Hawaii so I’m warm.

 

 

 

I hangout til dusk.

DCIM102GOPRO

I’m dry by the time I get back to Waikiki, although I freeze with bus a/c.

Heading back I stop by a group of homeless people, I ask if I can do some time-lapse photography, I’m chatting away while I’m setting up. One of them gets into an argument with another, the cops are called, one says,

You’re only here because I allow it!

I’m sitting on the pavement with them & realise I fit in, until one of them notices the GoPro & I’m asked to move along. The petty crime, smoking, littering, urinating, searching through trash cans, and drinking doesn’t appear to be a problem. But scare the tourists, that’s another story.

I return a couple of hours later & make some new friends. Deciding to give photo’s a miss, I film, I ask questions, they talk BS, they share the heartfelt, their stories & I get a tour of Waikiki.

Here’s a little something I put together, when I get a chance I’ll do a more thorough edit. I imagine I’ll be spending some more time with “the houseless crew”.

 

New Experience: bending busses! hawaibus47

High: Chilling at Byodo-in & new friends.

Low:  It’s a toss up between really muggy nights & mosquito bites (if you go to Byodo- in, use bug spray. The mosquito’s are like ninjas, you don’t know they’ve been there til to late.

Biggest Surprise: It’s been 2 days & I haven’t been for a swim yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

adventures

Aloha!


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I departed on the 30th & arrived in Hawaii on the 29th – I love time travel! I’m here for 3 things, lazy-relaxing beach days, hop in a cage with sharks (I just reread that, the sharks are preferably on the outside of the cage) & a visit to some Lost film locations.

I descended upon Ohau on a rain filled cloudy night, so unfortunately I see nothing flying in. My cab driver offered to pick me up tomorrow & drive me around the island for $200, once he saw where I was staying he suggested I could do the same on the bus for $2.50… yep I’ll be taking the bus, which funnily enough, is called ‘The Bus’.

Loaded up on a complementary breakfast of peanut-butter & toast, I knock out a quick 3k walk to Ala Moana mall.

look at me! rugged & ready to take on the world!
look at me! rugged & ready to take on the world!

Yes a mall, I’m disappointed in myself – disgusted actually.

It’s kinda cool that it’s an “outside mall” (not enclosed), but not really practical on this overcast-showery day – just what I came to Hawaii for. I head straight to the Microsoft store to grab a case I’d ordered for my tablet… the beautiful contraption I’ll be blogging & editing video on.

 

 

At some stage I saw a pic of a Japanese styled place & thought it would be a sweet place to visit, chill, photograph & reflect. Google told me it was Byodo-in temple, it’s Buddhist & modeled after one in Japan.

Byodo-In_TempleLaie Hawaii TempleBut during my googling I also found this one, which was a perfect backdrop for a couple of lines of spoken word I was wanting to film in front of a few places.

In search of my mythical temples I attempt to jump on a bus, only to realise the driver can’t break a ten because they don’t handle money, you need exact change to pay a machine (guess you can’t trust those bus drivers). Not wanting to wait another 90 mins I say, “don’t worry about the change”, at which point she let’s me on for free – Jurassic park!

Celebrations are short lived when I realise this bus won’t get me close enough. I jump off at the highway – which has a footpath – it’s a little disconcerting walking down a highway with a 10ft tall sound wall on oneside & 8 lanes of traffic zipping by on the other.

Eventually it looks like the footpath runs out, oh wait is that it over there? It must continue down below the highway  that’s much safer? This path isn’t well looked after, is it even a path? maybe it’s a drain… whatever it is, hopefully it runs the length of the highway.

WP_001493It doesn’t.

Just as well I’m a traveler today, a tourist would be lost. Travelers don’t get lost, where ever they are is where they’re meant to be. Which is good, because the Santa-sized American man, standing in just his board shorts looks very surprised that I’ve walked into his back yard, “I guess that’s not a path then”… his name’s Rick, I have a beer by his pool.

Full of liquid courage & directions to a bus to return me home, I head on my way.

After a small eternity I duck into a Mexican restaurant to grab a Powerade, it’s run by a lovely Mexican couple. Diego is into ball, he asks if I play… we talk ball, Hawaii, life & family. He has a 30yr-old son who hasn’t settled down yet, seems too interested in traveling the world… I think Diego would get on famously with my parents 🙂

Coronarita!
Coronarita!

I eventually get back to the mall & celebrate the day with a visit to Bubba Gumps, I’ve failed to reach my destinations today, but have had a couple of magical moments meeting new people. I could live a million lifetimes & never run into Rick & Diego, I’m much richer for it.

Walking home I pass some homeless people… then some more…

& more.

The plan was to relax for a week, the plan was to do some photo/film work with the homeless when I reach Las Vegas…

plans are for tourists, & I’m traveling 🙂

 

New Experience: Bubba Gumps, Coconut Shrimp, Coronarita’s.

High: “Random/chance” encounters

Low: I spent about 5months in NZ searching for a Tripod Mount for my GoPro & finally got one, only for it to break the first time I went to use it.

Biggest Surprise: Wow! there are a lot of homeless people in Hawaii

 

 

 

 

 

adventures, News

Let the adventures begin!


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The Lone Traveler

I’m about to hop on a plane with a half-crazed plan, a bunch of tickets, a GoPro, $100 in my pocket & a whole bunch of the unknown.

I’ll be gone 2 months & will visit half a dozen countries. Some places I’ll definitely be at, some I’m hoping to get to, some I have no idea how I’m getting there, where I’m staying or how I’ll pay for it…

this will be a grand adventure of epic proportions or a cautionary tale.

 

Here’s a list of places I’m going to be (bracketed are places I’m hoping to get to), in rough sequential order. I’m already catching up with a couple of readers for coffee, so hit me up if I’m in your area pillscoffeeheresy@hotmail.com

Honolulu, Hawaii

(Kauai, Hawaii)

San Fransisco

(L.A)

Las Vegas

Springfield, M.O

New Orleans

Tel Aviv

Jerusalem

Bethlehem

(Jordan)

(Egypt)

Amsterdam

(Bruges)

(Prague)

Helsinki

New York

Osaka

 

A little over a year ago I decided I wanted to visit Palestine for 4 weeks over my summer holidays (Christmas in NZ), I guess that’s what set the wheels in motion. Turns out though, that flying to Tel Aviv from my little island country is ridiculously expensive.

So I started looking at alternative ways of getting there, and by alternative I mean Every possible combination of dates & places… long story short, I’m flying to a bunch of places for a little more than the original cost, albeit on some airlines that don’t appear to even have logos – there’s a good chance I end up in the back of a single prop full of crates of chickens.

Oh & this trip has ballooned from 4 weeks to 2 months.

So what do I plan on doing?

Well some of the trip I’ll be a traveler, some a tourist (yes, there is a difference), some a photographer, artist, filmmaker (more on that to come).

I’ll be writing this blog when I can, planes, airports & buses.

 

I’m chasing dreams & sunsets, welcome to the journey.

See you in Hawaii