a travel log and video postcard from angkor wat.

Last year, one of my best mates, Jamie made a surprise trip to Cambodia to see our friend Bailey. It was one of the coolest things ever. Very few things matched that experience. Jamie basically decided one morning that he would buy a flight from Toronto to Cambodia for the evening of that same day. He sent me a message after he bought the flight and told me what his plan was. Of course, I immediately made arrangements to rendezvous with him.

The other sweet thing was that Sara was off traveling with Beata at that time. Beata had taken time off from her job in Atlanta to come over to Saigon for a visit and the both of them were roaming around parts of SE Asia to go see some wonderful things together. I knew that part of their trip would steer them right into Siem Reap to check out Angkor Wat. So… I got in contact with Beata and asked for permission to crash the party. With Beata’s permission, we planned a surprise where I would “run into them” at the night market in Siem Reap. The plan went off without a hitch. Sara’s facial expression was unforgettable and I really wish I planned a way to film it but I wanted to experience it rather than be preoccupied with the filming bit.

Anyway, if you have 6 minutes to kill, check out my latest travel log and video postcard highlighting this trip. You should see it in full 1080p HD, but if you can’t see it on this blog then go to the actual link below for full HD. Enjoy.

https://vimeo.com/123385000

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BOAT in Boracay, 2015. Teaser.

Another year abroad has gone by real quick and another Boracay Open is in the books. This time, I was successful in forming my own team with misfits largely from Canada and the remaining from the US and one from the Philippines. We came in to the tournament seeded 4th (which is too high), but without the Boracay Dragons actually competing for a seeded spot this year, we were able to break out and top off the tournament with a 3rd place finish on universe point.

Big ups to BOAT and the friends who made it amazing. Let’s go for another next year!

Check out the teaser video I made above. If you need to see it in HD, go to the actual link here.

a new passport and what to expect in the new (lunar) year.

So Tết has come and passed this year all too soon. I have now been in Asia for about 13 months. It felt like not too long ago I was incredibly giddy while anticipating my first Tết where I am old enough to remember what happened (my parents took me Saigon during the Tết holiday but that was a long time ago when I was barely walking). I have now experienced the Tết holiday twice since moving to Asia.

ImageThe kids at one of my aunt’s place scrambling for lì xì.

It’s incredibly scary thinking about how the year just bounced by. It’s enough to make me acknowledge a small number of things:

a)   One year abroad is not enough.

b)   As short as one year is, I was able to fit into an entirely new environment and get comfortable in it. Along the way, I made friends and various connections. I can even honestly call this place my lovely second home.

c)   Apparently, I can get homesick. I’ve never been away from home for more than a couple of months max. I was certain that even if I were to be away longer, I probably wouldn’t get hit with homesick that bad. Well that was a silly notion because I indeed can miss my original home. I don’t just mean my favourite restaurants, bars, friends, food and stuff like that. Everyone misses that sort of stuff when they venture off for any amount of time. I mean my actual home: my bed, my sheets and my dinosaur of a mother (just kidding, mum… sorta).

d)   Since I mentioned my mother, it’s also worth saying that my relationship with my mother improved considerably. We weren’t on bad terms but we weren’t always on the best terms. I have a thing for egging her on and testing her limits while she has a thing for nagging incessantly. I suspected the sour aspects of our relationship stemmed from the fact that my opinions and beliefs as a person are starting to solidify as I grow older and they happen to be markedly different from my mother’s own set of opinions and beliefs. I also suspected that distance would do well for our relationship but in the past I wasn’t quite ready to move out because I had an aggressive savings plan to bank enough money in order to move abroad later on. I think I can safely confirm my suspicions.

So that now I have acknowledged the above among other things not mentioned, what do I plan to do? Well, the first thing anyone who is reading this will notice is that I’m still writing from Asia. In fact, my original plan was to be back in Toronto sometime in February of 2014. It is now early March of 2014; I do not have a return flight home any time soon. I continue to work, live and travel abroad.

I do, however, intend to fly home probably in mid-September. I’ve been eyeing a couple of dates when the flight back is on the lower end. I made a promise to my good friend, Danielle, that I would be back in time to attend her wedding so there is no way I’m missing out on one of her biggest and most important days in her life. That is something I’m really looking forward to.

I also plan to stay in Toronto for about 4-6 weeks to take some time off to lay low, reassess what I want/need to do and reorient myself based on where I want to go in life and destination. Currently, one of my best friends, Seb is strongly considering going to Taiwan to work. There is a very real chance that I end up relocating to Taiwan to work with him. This is largely contingent on whether or not Seb settles on the idea, and right now it sounds like he’s keen on the idea. This is good because one of my old flatball teammates from our university days, Ivan Peng, is now located in Taiwan and working there until at least mid-2015. I have also made a few friends based in Taiwan and it would be really nice to hang out with them more on the regular. A few years ago, if you were to ask if I was interested in going to Taiwan, I would probably shrug it off. But after seeing some of my friends’ pictures, hearing about their experiences and doing a little bit of research, I am pretty stoked on the idea and possibility of relocating there. Not everything is certain of course but I like that there are serious talks and consideration for this.

Oh, Bangkok HAT 2014 has also come and passed. This was one of the biggest tournaments in Asia that I was looking forward to and it lived up to my expectations despite the recent issues and political tensions in Thailand. Of course, it was also a great excuse to meet new frisb fanatics and reunite with great friends from all over Asia.

ImageFrom left to right (above): Will, Ozzie, Tat (myself), Ryan, Sid, Jason Chen, Kim, Matt. From left to right (below): Julia Chan, Ekk, Mondster.

I did notice one or two protest sites that were going on and it was not as aggressive and messy as I had imagined based on some of the news reports and readings I went through prior to landing in Bangkok. In fact, Bangkok was incredibly peaceful and the protests appeared good-spirited. Not once did I feel myself threatened in any way. This makes me think about how much is embellished or sensationalized in the news regarding issues such as this and others like it. For the record, I am certainly not downplaying the severity of the issue nor am I denying that what happened at the protests and in Thailand in general have not been violent or chaotic. It just seems to me that when it comes to issues such as the one taking place in Thailand, responsible journalism should be of extreme importance. That means that the positives should also be reported in conjunction with the negatives. Responsible journalism and journalistic integrity is a big issue that I don’t want to go much further into so I’ll just leave it at that.

Prior to Bangkok, I was also in a bit of a pickle regarding my passport. Like I mentioned above, when I first left for Asia, I was intending on coming back to Toronto within my passport validity period. Obviously, things changed. I was soon caught in a weird situation where my passport was indeed valid but there was left than 6 months left until it expired. What this means is that it is very challenging or impossible to go to other countries as most places demand that you have at least 6 months of validity remaining on your passport. Fortunately for me, I was able to get some help from the Canadian consulate and get everything finished on time for a new passport. I might look like a registered sex offender on my new passport, but I got another 5 years’ lease on traveling and moving around.

ImageTop and bottom comparison of my passport 5 years ago and my current passport. Goofy-lookin’ 5 years ago. Still pretty goofy-lookin’ now.

So with my new passport, where do I go next?

Well, this coming weekend I will be in Phnom Penh for the first time in my life attending the Big Phat Phnom Penh HAT (BPPPH2014) tournament. The level of competition for this tournament has been increasing every year and it has a reputation for being a super sweet intimate flatball get-together.

The following weekend after BPPPH2014, I will be taking some time off work for another tournament and a bit of a vacation on the side. I will be heading back to the Philippines, but this time I’m going to Boracay for the Boracay Open 2014 beach tournament. This is probably a top 2 tournament I’ve been eyeing since moving to Asia and hearing about it. It’s a 3-day beach tournament on one of the best beaches in the world. I’ve Googled pictures of this place and I’m beyond stoked for this place. It’s going to be a good place to take a lot of shots, videos, and go nuts with my new GoPro 3 Black Edition. I’ll keep you all posted with pictures and hopefully a video postcard.

ImageLooks good as honey.

 I will probably be returning to Cambodia in May for another tournament. If I can get some time off, I would also like to make a stop in Angkor Wat and check out one of the wonders of the world.

There is a possibility that I take part of my June summer vacation in China to play Shanghai Open and explore a bit.

I am also committed to playing in the Malaysia Ultimate Open in July, so I will be in Kuala Lumpur around early-mid July.

One important thing I do plan on doing other than traveling is reassessing my goals, ambitions, objectives and whatnot. Over the past several months, I’ve been looking into some options on what I want or should do; some are short term plans while others are long term. Things are a bit vague with respect to this but I hope to have a more clear picture of what I want and need to do with my personal growth.

Alright, that’s it for now. I will try to get an update as soon as I can once I return from my trips to Phnom Penh and Boracay.

it’s been awhile….

It’s been awhile but here’s my next video postcard. It took a bit of time to put this together. Hopefully, those who are following will enjoy it.

I learned quite a bit from putting together my first video postcard and I tried to apply that here in my second video postcard.

In this video, we return to Nha Trang, the location where I shot the clips for my first video postcard. This time, however, we are treated to a much more local experience.

The following is the description I wrote taken directly from the Vimeo page:

My cousin has a couple of friends in Nha Trang. They’re fishermen and aquaculturalists working offshore from the mainland. We were fortunate enough to be able to spend a full day with these guys on their houseboat, which is normally off limits to tourists. They let us check out their aquaculture business, took us on a ride on their ridiculous rounded canoe(?) type boats, encouraged us to snorkel and swim around their property, and asked us to eat and drink with them.

These are some of the nicest guys I have ever met, and the experience can’t be matched. I wish I had more footage of them but I didn’t want to appear intrusive pointing the camera in their face and shooting their every movement. I wanted to become friends with these guys first, which panned out because I’ve been invited back whenever I’m in the area again.

Everything was shot handheld on a Canon 7D with 17-40mm f/4 lens and a GoPro HDHero 2 and put together on Final Cut Pro X.

Music: The Album Leaf – San Simeon

seems legit.

 

I’m stoked. I finally get an official name tag from the Asian International School after having worked there for nearly three weeks.

Somehow, having this name tag to pin on my shirt makes it all feel more real – it cements the feeling of success and of having made it here in Saigon. Well… sort of. I’m still on my two month probation contract with the school, which ends on April 17th. Once I get all the stupid administrative/paper work completed to secure a work permit with the school, along with a good track record for the probationary period, then I will be offered a long term contract.

Still, this is one step in the right direction… right?

Image

a teaser from my time in the Phu Quoc Islands.

Before I upload my pictures, I’m just gonna post a few teaser pics taken from my cousin’s kid’s phone camera. Not the best quality but I felt compelled to give some of you friends and family members who might still be visiting my blog a taste of what we ventured off to.

This was a very brief trip during the Tet Holidays. My second uncle and his family wanted Rosie and I to come along so we booked a short three day excursion with them. I can tell you that the next time I come here, I plan to stay for a week. If not more. On this trip, I also got to go squid jigging at night. Videos of that to come.

For now, enjoy a few flictures from my cousin’s kid, Kevin Pham.

Rosie, myself, Baby Tram Anh and her mother/my cousin Chi Tet (Chi means ‘Bigger Sister’). Image

Kevin (the family calls him Ti Em) and I.Image

The same peeps plus Kevin (Ti Em). Image

Rosie and Ti Em. Image

Baby Tram Anh.Image

Where we stayed in Phu Quoc. It was a beautiful hotel. Image

And here’s Baby Tram Anh just sitting in the middle of our table as lunch is being brought out.Image

I need to force myself to pull pictures from my DSLR. And I promise video clips will be coming. I’m just slacking because there’s a lot of other fun things to do while I’m not teaching or lesson planning. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy updating this blog… but when I’m invited to cheap beers and cheap, delicious food then I’m inclined to choose cheap beers and cheap, delicious food.

Anyway, this is a small teaser from our trip to the Phu Quoc Islands. These pictures were taken by Kevin (Ti Em). I’ll have my own pictures up with a full recap shortly. That’s all for now!

some iPhone photos from Nha Trang

As promised, a few shots taken from my iPhone while I was in Nha Trang.

I was working on my essay for my TESOL course when I got bored and decided to go take a break. I ran across the street and stopped in at the Sandals Restaurant. This is a view from my table of one.Image

I ordered iced coffee and spicy Goan fish curry. Image

Rosie joins me an hour later for some coffee and people spying.Image

We come back to the Sandals Restaurant the next night to cap off our stay in Nha Trang. Here’s Erika Kanduth and Rosie as we wait for our meals. Image

It happened to be a full moon that night. The iPhone pic doesn’t do justice to the scene but trust me when I say it was an amazing bright  orange moon. Image