Goodbye Southeast Asia…

I sit here on a cliff side bungalow on my last night before the long two day journey home begins. Monkeys can be heard in the trees, little spurts of Thai float up from the trees, limestone cliffs are lit in the distance. It would be impossible not to say I will miss all these little things I've grown accustom to.

However, I am happy to be heading back home.

Looking back on my blog, it is cool to see how I have grown as a person as well as my transition into the backpacking lifestyle. Arriving in some of the world's most renowned Asian cities with no idea of the language or where to stay that evening…the idea sounded overwhelming a few months ago…now it is where I find adventure.

The stories from this trip will certainly populate my conversations for the rest of my life. To “actually go” and find out what the other side of the world could offer is a fact I am proud of as well. I also know that I will be back and am already in talks about where my girlfriend and I will be backpacking to next year…so the journey will continue.

I will have one more post when I get home with the statistics of the trip as well as a list of cities I have visited. If you have any questions about where I have been, what I have done, or traveling on this side of the world in general…feel free to shoot me and email or comment.

For now, enjoy the last few photos from the other side of the world and I will write one last time from home!

Up, Up, Up

 

Happy to get to any resting spot

 

Leaving these guys behind.

 

View point over Railay beach

 

Be One With the Monkeys

Welcome to Railay Beach, the last stop on my Southeast Asia tour. Also, probably one of the first stops next time I come to Thailand with my girlfriend. Known usually as a tourist area, I happen to catch it at the very low point of the season…the beaches are practically empty. It is the perfect spot to end my trip.

Climbing is the name of the game here at Railay, tomorrow morning I am going on a climbing tour to test out my vertical ascension skill set. Today I was able to try out some “small stuff” as I made my way down small cliffs to a lagoon surrounded by the island. By the end, I was covered in red clay, but was able to swim in a secluded lagoon surrounded by limestone with a killer echo effect.

Monkeys…I had no idea how many monkeys inhabit this area of Thailand. Not shy at all, the most common “macaque” monkeys walk around and “hang” out everywhere you look. I have included just a couple of the dozens of photo opportunities presented. Though not aggressive, many of the mothers have young clinging on for dear life, and I learned to appreciate my camera's 22X optical zoom instead of risk losing a finger.

As the journey home grows closer, it is hard not to reflect on where this trip has taken me. I will most likely have at least one or two more posts to sum up EyeonKyle. Thanks again for those who have followed me for the entire trip. It is always cool to know someone is reading.

Enjoy the photos for possibly the last time of this journey. Thanks again!

Not a bad little beach...

Extreme tides here at Railay

One of my favorite selfies

Mom

Your typical warning

 

Close enough?

 

Photo doesn't quite sum up how awesome this place was...or how hard it was to get there.

 

Waking Up In Paradise

I've woken up in a different city for the past 5 mornings. From Sapa, Vietnam…I made my way back to Hanoi, then flew to Bangkok, then to Krabi, and I currently reside on the island of Ko Phi Phi. While the majority of people my age descend upon the island of Ko Pha Ngan, home of the full moon party, I took an alternate root and am enjoying my last week of the trip on an island paradise.

Welcome to Ko Phi Phi, many may have heard of it when the 2004 tsunami caused extensive damage. I'm here to say it has a made a full recovery and is now a diver's paradise. Tomorrow morning I head out for two dives in the blue waters and even have chance of seeing a whale shark. Though I'm not betting on it, it would still make for an awesome experience.

I've officially booked out the last few days of my trip. After my dives, I catch a boat to Railay beach and plan on rock climbing the day away. I originally planned on doing the two beaches in reverse order, but diving too close to a flight is not recommended. Rock climbing also doesn't sound like a bad end to an amazing trip.

I've included a few batch photos from Ko Phi Phi as well as a picture from Hanoi. Enjoy!

Not a bad spot to wrap up the trip

Blue as far as you can see

Flying is still fun on this side of the world

Back to my buddy Evan's top floor Bangkok view

They were on a English person scavenger hunt...

Stopped on my hike to hang out with this guy :)

 

Sapa…Photos From Above

I sat in the Hanoi bus station after a 5 hour bus ride…thinking. The bus to Sapa had to be booked across town and it would then be a 10-12 hour ride through the night. I'm sure every backpacker has had the same feeling at some point in their journey. Worn out, frustrated, tired of fighting language and cultural barriers every day…these were all hitting me at one time. However, after a mental duel involving statements such as ” dude, you are in freaking Vietnam! Go!”, I rode across town and booked my ticket.

I woke up in Sapa. Needless to say, the answer to “Is it worth going?” was a yes. The last 11 days of my trip are going to be quite hectic but fun. Five flights, three countries, and more experiences are ahead. This post is brief in words, but heavy on the photos. Enjoy the beauty from Sapa I was able to capture…I will be in Thailand next time I post!

Sapa showing off

A glass of local apple wine and a book by my favorite author. View's not bad either...

A friend and I decided to go hiking.

Cat Ba National Park

Even the rain here is beautiful

 
 

Endless rice

This was taken from a very long way away. The work involved is insane

 

I dropped something!

Cat Ba...but proof I'm still alive!

 

A View from the North

I have recently left Hoi An which is a beautiful area based on the Thu Bon RIver. Though activities were limited, the architecture and peaceful nature of the city made for a relaxing halfway point between north and south Vietnam. I enjoyed “fresh beer” on the river for 3000 dong a glass…about 15 cents. Not bad.

After a 17 hour night bus ride to Hanoi, I immediately booked a ticket for Cat Ba. Two buses and one boat ride later, and I finally arrived. Currently, I am sitting at a small restaurant overlooking the bay and am enjoying fresh fried squid with grilled mystery fish…I'm getting used to it. ;)

When you think of the classic photographs in asian restaraunts of cliffs jutting out of the sea, the area surrouding Cat Ba is about as close as you can get. A single line of hotels surround the bay and “mountains” literally rise out of the ocean. Feel free to scroll down and peek at the photo's first…I don't know how else to describe the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Today I went on a boat tour through the “islands” which included kayaking, exploring a cave, and snorkeling in a small cove. The boat ride alone was worth the price of the admission. Small floating villages and fish farms line the bays. Locals in small wooden boats, who face forward and fight physics for whatever reason, paddle around the sheer cliffs. One area we explored was once an underwater cave which has long since dried out. It now serves as a passage leading to a small protected lake surrounded by cliffs. About as close to “The Beach” by Alex Garland as you can get…

I plan to spend another night or two exploring the areas surrouding Cat Ba…but I need to move on towards Sapa and then fly to the Thai islands. More freediving and a few days in the sun will be the closer to an incredible journey.

Enjoy the photos and expect a new post from the rice terraces of Sapa!

The beautiful Hoi An City

Paddling among the canals

Welcome to Cat Ba

Boat for scale

View from the top

Seconds before I jumped off the side.

 

A Single Breath of Vietnam

I just finished taking a free-diving course, from a Russian, in Vietnam, in the South China Sea. Quite an interesting life. I have enjoyed free-dive spearfishing off the North Carolina coast for many years…however, past certain depths it is neccesary to learn proper technique, physiology, and safety standards behind the dive.

Free-diving, also know as Apnea, is a quickly growing sport in which divers descend on a single breath through a multitude of disciplines. Certain disciplines with weighted “sleds” have taken divers to depths of over 700 feet! Though I have been free-diving for quite a few years, I quickly learned that 90% of my technique was completely wrong.

After a hour long one on one class, we hit the water. Though the breath hold is a large part of diving, proper technique and mental preparation are what determine a good dive from a bad one. The first day included dives to 14 meters ( 45 feet), proper entry, and the correct way to descend and ascend the line. I quickly became comfortable at this depth and we even experimented with breath holds of 30 seconds or more while at depth.

We happen to be free-diving off a dive boat, so it became a running joke to descend down to the scuba divers and suprise the new guys. Being able to reach scuba depths off a single breath of air can really mess with a diver's perspective. I also practiced saftey techniques in case of the rare, but occuring, shallow water blackout.

The third day was when I decided to break new ground and reach a new personal best. After discussing it with my instructor, we set the rope to 23 meters (75 feet) and began the warm up. After a few shallower dives, I began my descent and eventually felt my hand hit the end of the rope. In a funny turn of events, the rope was about 1 foot away from the actual ground, so I threw technique aside and reached down and grabbed a small shell to “prove” I had made it. A safe ascent and a high-five later and my free-diving story was a success.

The final day was a fun day, and I actually went even deeper to 25 meters ( 82 feet). The rest of the day we spent messing around the shallow reefs and spending extended periods of time at around 40 feet.

I have to leave the beach tonight on a night bus…for 10 hours…to head north to Hoi An. Though the bus will not be fun, I look forward to experiencing the rest of the Vietnam and the last 20 days of my Southeast Asia trip.

As always, enjoy the pictures and shoot me any questions you may have about travel!

Meet Andrei...the awesome instructor

 

Can't complain about visibility

 

Underwater ninja Kyle

 

We say hello

 

Andrei hanging with a diver

 

Back in ‘Nam

After an interesting 10 hour night bus, (I included a picture below), I landed in one of the craziest locations of my whole trip. Saigon, Vietnam.

Crossing the street in the city resembles the ultimate game of real-life frogger. Thousands of motorbikes charge through intersections with traffic lights merely trying to keep order. Larger vehicles plow through the ranks and only my training in Phnom Penh allowed for safe passage across even the most basic walkway.

The city itself is massive. “5 star” hotels dot the skyline with the Bitexco Financial Tower towering as a symbol of the areas rapid growth. I actually took the elevators the tower, moving at around 21 feet per second, to the 49th floor and took in the view of the sprawling metropolis.

Though I enjoyed visiting the city, I decided to move on rather quickly and currently reside in the beach-side city of Nha Trang. Clear water, a bustling nightlife, and rapid growth define this area. Though I have yet to find the nightlife…I have spent my days walking the beach and recently returned from a dive trip.

During the two dives, we descended through clear waters and saw a mulittiude of marine life. Eels, trigger fish, and most of the cast from Finding Nemo all inhabited the reefs we visited. During one particular dive, we swam through a cave full of fish and sea urchins. Our Russian dive guide then preceded to take a breath from an air pocket trapped beneath the rocks. #coolkid

As it turns out, my dive guide also happens to be a certifed free dive instructor…and as a belated birthday present to myself, I have decided to stay an extra day or two and take his course. By the end, I will able to safely dive to depths upwards of 60, 70, and 80 feet on a single breath of air. I am excited to say the least.

On a final note, I decided to get a haircut in Vietnam…more or less just to say I did. I never even told the guy what to do with my hair…he just sat me down and brought out the shaver and some odd looking scissors. I regrettably included a picture below…I think he went for a David Beckham? But who knows! Don't laugh too hard.

After I finish my course, I will continue my journey north towards Hanoi with a few stops on the way. Thanks again for those who read my blog and I hope it inspires you to travel. Enjoy!

Welcome to the night bus!

49 floors above the city

 

Saigon and on and on

#safe

 

Nha Trang

 

Afternoon fishing

 

Hand picked fried squid

 

Beach selfie after a 3 mile walk

 

Haircut cost 70,000 Vietnamese dollars.