• Vietnam



    I’m saving all my words for Vietnam so no greeting this time. It’s going to be very hard to describe all 3 weeks we spent in Vietnam in one short email, but I’m giving it a shot (if anyone values brief communication, it’s me). Although we stayed at seven very unique places (Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa, Hue, Hoi An, Na Trang, Saigon) I definitely see general themes and characteristics that ring true for Vietnam as an entire country. These include 1.Insane/Incredible Traffic; 2.Karaoke; 3.Interesting Food; 4.Unique Transport; 5.Football (soccer); 6.Contrast.


    1.Traffic – I know why they don’t shoot car chase scenes in Hanoi, because it would be pretty uneventful when the hero crosses to the wrong side of the road weaving through cars going the wrong direction and pulls up on a family of 3 on a scooter doing the same exact thing while transporting their chickens to the day market. Traffic in Vietnam mirrors the ocean where the whales (buses) and big fish (cars) cruise along without a worry while all the minnows (motorbikes) jock for every square inch of space and dip a dodge their way to their destination.


    2.Karaoke – Vietnamese love karaoke and will always invite you to enjoy these private rooms of bad singing, fruit plates (sometimes flying), and endless snacks and drinks.


    3.Food – If it is alive, it can be eaten in Vietnam (with one exception, human), and the more obscure the more of a delicacy it is. I’m very proud of our American stomachs (and tongues!) through everyone of these cultural delights/fear factor challenges.


    4.Transport – woven boats the shape of a rice bowl, bicycle and human rickshaws, tuk tuks, 3 person bicycles. They’re all fun


    5.Football – this sport is everywhere (except America), especially Vietnam.


    6.Contrast – contrast is seen in Vietnam on so many levels. The people have a huge contrast in personality between their tough-negotiating, thick-skinned business owner/vendor vs. their warm, welcoming, friends as family hospitality shown to outsiders who are willing to connect. The country is a great contrast between old world tradition, craftsmanship, and practice vs. new generation modernization, tourism, and technology. If I give more examples, I’ll have to make a sublist in this list which would just be confusing so on to the pictures:


    North Vietnam with our crew of 5.


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    South Vietnam with the remaining 3 munchskateers.


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    Cambodia will be coming soon! Until then, eat something crazy…


    Love and Wahoo’s fish sandwiches,


    Tyler


  • Laos



    Dear Jane (America),


    I’m breaking up with you because I have a new woman in my life, her name is Asia…


    I am totally kidding and still do love you America(ns), but if Laos were a girl she’d be one of those secretly beautiful ones like the movie……….thinking………. “She’s All That” (one of those really cheesy Freddy Prince Jr. movies where he’s this stud who transforms the nerd girl into the prom queen) Anyway! Laos is Asia’s best-kept secret beauty and I would’ve never ever ever thought of visiting it (except I just did, and I’m glad I did).


    I think Laos is still off our American radars as a travel destination because:


    1. It is still developing and totally not a part of our first world yet


    2. It doesn’t have any major natural resources that we’ve found a way to exploit (Totally Kidding about the exploit part, I’m all for industry specialization/trade creating wealth/all other global-economization-omics-etrics-ology)


    3. MOST IMPORTANTLY, it is a very humble/mellow place that doesn’t boast of it’s beauty and potential tourist attractions.


    To elaborate on #3, this is seen in it’s happy and laidback people, who may be selling something at the local night-market but don’t hound tourists with “You Buy! Cheap Price! etc.”, but rather sit there content and greet any interested parties with a smile and a hello “Sapaidi”; as well as in the scenery which is beautiful and tranquil but also seemingly humble with careening rivers, perfectly green and peacefully maintained rice paddies, even the egotistical cragged limestone cliffs of Vang Vieng are softened by unique and dense vegitation. Ok, I’m starting to sound like a tour book full of run-on sentences here so I’m going to get on with the happenings….


    The 5 of us (Tai Lai Lai, LBJ, Swoops, iMatt, and Biceps) immigrated from Thailand to Laos via longboat over the Mekong River. From there we caught a 2 day slow-boat that stopped in Pak Beng overnight to the town of Laung Prebang. We bussed from LP to Vang Vieng and then later bussed to Laos capital Vientiene. Highlight reel:


     I found bullets that are Apple icons, iMatt would love this! (if the bullet points don’t show up right, you’re obviously not on a Mac so get hip and buy one now, after saving up for a couple years)


     Boat Trip: Playing guitar on the roof of the boat, being told to get down, acting like we didn’t understand and having our disciplinary take a group photo of us


     Pak Beng: Going to bed at 10pm when all the town’s power (that runs on generators) is shut off


     Laung Prebang: The cruiser bikes with a banana seat over the back tire and pegs. Pegs rock!


     Vang Vieng: Two-way tie, 1a.Water Cave! and 1b.Swiss Family Robinson meets Cabo spring break Swim Bars with mud-pit volleyball, 30 ft water swings, sketchy waterslides, loud music, and the ability to simply tube (or kayak) down river if you want to leave


     Vientiene: Bowling at the LBC (Laos Bowling Club); FYI: Laos people love their recreation and are often seen playing hardcore badminton (seriously, like indoor arenas for badminton serious), bowling, volleyball, and extra difficult small ball giant table billiards.


    For those of you who were lazily and improperly diagnosed with ADD, and should probably just have a little more patience, the pictures are FINALLY here.


    Remember, we love you all and are just as jealous of aspects of your American life as these experiences may make you (weird sentence, good luck diagramming this one).


    Until next blast,


    Ty, Jay, Dubs, , & Benny


    Ps. I love lists (can’t you tell). Realized I can’t even journal, even though many people have recommended it for this trip, so I’ve made a bunch of lists instead. I mean really lists are much more efficient, effective, visually pleasing, reader friendly, and convey a message to a much more broad audience. Go Lists


    Pps. I’m kinda feisty in this email; probably because I had a full night’s sleep last night and am writing this from a full size bed next to a giant window, instead of on a crammed/sweaty/sickening buss ride. I hope I didn’t offend anyone too bad with my crass and immature and super-awesome humor.


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  • Thailand



    Well-rested/Chipotle-eating friends,


    We (Tyler, Jason, Ryan + Yuuki + Ben + Matt) are currently on a swaggering double-decker bus commuting between towns in Laos, I’ll tell you all about it later…I just wanted you to know that if there are any long pauses ____ and/or weird symbols #####, it was because I’m getting motion sickness and have to take a little time out _____ or am emptying the breakfast from my stomach #####. Lets hope for the _____ best.


    So we now have a crew of 6 travelers with the addition of Yuuki (my elementary school friend from Japan who I haven’t seen in over a decade) joining us for 2 weeks, as well as Ben Watson (old friend from Littleton) and Matt Matteson (new friend from Colorado somewhere *I’ll ask him where later) who are joining us for 3 weeks. With new “wolf-pack” members comes new excitement, new energy, new jokes, and increased organized chaos in general; which is awesome!


    Yuuki met us 3 “old wolfs” in Kuala Lumpur for a couple days where we relaxed, internetted, and wrote really really boring email blasts about boring Indonesia. We also ate amazing food in KL and had some great but seemingly uneventful (or at least not noteworthy) times. One thing to note: I bought a much much much needed new computer (a 10” dell minilaptop for $400) and after a long night of loading applications and fine tuning this beautiful new machine, I spilled a 2 liter jug of water straight on the keyboard and totally fried it, bummer, serious bummer. #####. It still makes me a little sick (obviously).


    Our growing pack of 4 young strapping scruffly wolfs met Ben and Matt in the KL airport and we surprisingly had time to sample every snack in the airport candy story (6 times over) and hack the airport internet (Matt the Mac Guy). We arrived in Bangkok and sang with crazy annoying exitement on the hour bus ride from the airport to the city (don’t worry fellow Americans, anytime we do something annoying, we tell people we’re from Canada….seriously though, we actually do).


    ….enough intro junk, now to the good stuff. We’ve been pretty consistently on the fly/wheel/float/street beat since our friends have a limited time to see ALL of Asia. Because so much has happened, I’m going to refer to my favorite email blast format (no it’s not bullet points, that’s a close 2nd), PICTURES!


    We arrived in Bangkok the evening of the 8th, took an evening bus to Kanchanaburi on the 9th, returned to Bangkok on a late afternoon bus on the 10th followed by a night train to Chang Mai (that we cut really close and almost missed) an hour later. This makes the 1st set of pictures.


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    We arrived in Chang Mai the morning of the 11th and had an executive committee meeting while riding in a Tuk Tuk to our potential hotel; we quickly decided to bus straight to Chang Rai because Chang Mai wasn’t quite the amenity-packed noisy Bangkok and also wasn’t quite the lush jungle-country Northern Thailand that we were expecting; this was a great choice and gave us more time to “settle down and relax” in Chang Rai for the 11th-13th. I had one of the top 5 days of my life here, thanks to Kwan and Mamaban.


    I spilled the beans already and let you know we’re in Laos right now, but you’re going to have to be patient for the next email (always leave ‘em wanting more).


    Much love from the howling wolf-pack,


    Yuuki, Matt, Ben, Ryan, Jason, and Tyler


    Ps. I know many of you (especially parents and family members) are plan oriented and wonder what’s next on our super-official, stone-inscribed itinerary. Well today is your lucky day/night. We’re spending the next week in Laos August 14th – August 21st, followed by Vietnam (traveling North to South). I hope that’s enough because it’s pretty much all we know right now…


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  • Bali Indonesia



    Text-based Travel Mates,


    Indonesia part 2, so much to write about…All I can write to (re)introduce this place is…wow, this country really has a place in my heart/mind/future.


    After the boat trip, us “Colorado Boyz” returned with the rest of the STN crew to Kuta Beach, Bali. Kuta is the biggest tourist town in Bali and amidst the chaos of scooters, surfers, tourists, and American restaurant chains (Pizza Hut, Hard Rock Café, McDonalds), Kuta felt like home. This homeliness was largely based on the relationships with local people that were built through consistent interaction including: morning fruit purchases of Mangosteen and Passionfruit (Pudu and Pudri), surf hoots and hollers followed by soccer kickaround sessions, bizaar/fun/loving/smartass comments to local vendors, and chickenfighting/airplane/jungle gym/wrestle sessions with local rascalmonkey kids. Kuta highlights include:


    * Circus on The Beach night that included a 5 level human pyramid that consequently inspired a $5, 1.5 hour, full body massage


    * STN banquet with local cuisine, friendly guests, and Balinese dancers how loved to pose for 2+ hours of photos with kooky surfer tourists


    * Day trip to Ubud monkey temple, where Kevin “young hercules” Sweeny got his bag of 30 Bananas snatched by a 2.5 foot tall 35 pound toothy snarly gremlin (a mere 2 minutes after purchasing them outside the temple) to which he responded in pure fear and prancing excitement


    * Incredible 5 star, $8 dinners at TJ’s Mexican food and The Balcony where favorite dishes were sampled, loved, shared, and repeated following nights…Chili’s eat your heart out (and then charge me $15).


    * Scooter chaos: picture thousands of people playing a game of transportation charades, who have just pulled the action card of “fish swimming through a tunnel”


    You have now earned the right to look at our pictures from Kuta, thanks for reading!


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    From Kuta, 8 of us stragglers stayed in Bali while our friends returned to Hawaii, Sweden, Bangladesh, California, and Florida. We decided to take our show on the road and head to Uluwatu (30 minutes south of Kuta), soon to be known as Paradise or Shangri-La or El Dorado or Nirvana or Heaven (depending on your religion/ethinic background/cultural upbringing/sensitivity level). All of you who weren’t completely offended and are actually still reading, Uluwatu is indescribable, it is __________.


    We stayed at a homestay called Thomas’ that fed us meals of our choosing and gave us a temporary palace (without a/c, or warm water) overlooking completely transparent water, 3 world-class surf breaks (Uluwatu, Pedang Pedang, and Bingin), and a local laidback vibe where worries (and Blackberries) have never existed. At night, this view lost nothing with an unadultured night sky mirrored by hundreds of gleaming fishing boats, and our lovely addition of night-time festivites that included: a guitar and water jug jam session, freestyle battle, freestyle game of “Sit Down!”, and of course the game of Farkle.


    That should be enough to introduce these photos, please enjoy (if you don’t you should probably go to the doctor)


    Colorado Island Boyz,
    Tyler, Ryan, and Jason


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  • Indonesia Boat Trip Details



    Patient friends,


    So much has happened in the last three weeks that I’ll be writing about Indonesia in 2 doses (just to keep you wanting a bit more after this email). The first portion of our trip was spent with Surfing the Nations, a humanitarian Christian organization based on the North Shore of Oahu Hawaii. To learn more check em out at www.SurfingTheNations.com, they are a group of truly amazing people with a very unique perspective and purpose (that’s my plug).


    Jason and I started our journey from Kuala Lumpur to Bali with a delayed Air Asia (yuck!) flight and late arrival to Bali (10pm). We followed Ryan’s prescriptive directions , and arrived to his welcoming screams, hoots, and hollers of joy to finally have his travel companions join him, rather than follow in his footsteps (if this sentence doesn’t make sense please read the last post where Jason and I missed our Australia flight and subsequent Kuala Lumpur arrival to meet Ryan).


    The details of the STN boat trip were vague so we set off with what little knowledge we had; a street name “Poppies One” and the name of the hotel “Ayu Beach” that the STN crew MIGHT be staying at. After a good hour and a half of Indonesian scavenger hunting, which included the random yelling of our contact’s names “Chris Rehrer! Tom Bauer!”, we stumbled upon our 4th hotel of the night to be greeted by Tom Bauer (picture a flowing white haired Moses in boardshorts). Upon our late arrival we were welcomed as one of the family and informed that the boat trip was leaving the next morning at 7am; what a close call, whew!


    The Surfing the Nations group was comprised of charging Hawaiian loc dogs (shoots!), crazy fun and hilarious Swedes, smiling and occasionally biting Bangladesh boys, laidback Californians, eager Floridans who only know how to surf Hurricanes, and us landlocked “Colorado Boyz”. The group was about 50 people distributed between 4 boats, where you live/play/eat/sleep/dance/jazzercise/jam session/scope/swim/and overall enjoy the paradise that Indonesia so naturally provides. Our boat was the guys boat, rightfully named the Coconut Boat. Through the seven days there were many activities, places, and events that can be much more efficiently addressed in a list so enjoy my efficiency/laziness as I number the days:


    1: Leave in afternoon, go to nearby island Noosa Lombongan and surf Shipwrecks at sunset, learn to jump off boat with surfboard and catch first wave in Indonesia a 3-4 foot mellow and peeling right, “Welcome to Indo”


    2:Arrive in Lombok and surf Desert Point which is small and full of longboarders and party waves. Evening jam session with Jason, Ryan, and myself including reggae riffs on the guitar and freestyle lyrics. Including a fiberglass boat roof that imposed an uncomfortable late night itch followed by a 3am shower.


    3:Lombok in morning with bigger surf at Desert Point, tiring swims in the ripping current to access flips and backflops off of our neighboring boat. Gili Island in the afternoon which included soccer with the local kids and walking the island with a couple of them (Harry, Danny “ladies man”, and Johnny) who scaled 30 ft coconut trees for us to enjoy as a refreshing beverage to compliment our island sunset; I really wish I had a camera for this moment (this is what traveling is all about, enjoying the locals lifestyle and connecting with people)


    4: Sumbawa Island where we cliffed jumped in beautiful Yoyo’s cove and I performed my 2nd wonderful backflop off a rather high cliff. I was a little out of it for the rest of this day while we sailed to Scar Reef, but do remember night time when the always optimistic and radical Alan found an 8 foot poisonous sea snake in his bed. Upon our discovery and congegration, our boat’s noise was overcome by the sound of roman candles firing double-fisted off a neighboring boat, which was reprimanded by the 3rd of 8 shots and was followed with the phrase “I can’t stop em, I can’t stop em” (hilarious, thanks Tyler Bitner). Ryan also happened to comment that the surf had been so mellow and relaxing that STN should be Stoneskipping the Nations.


    5: Swell hits Scar Reef and turns on a wave machine that produces constant lines of 14-18 foot reeling and hollow “bombs” that you could easily drive a VW bug through. It was amazing to witness these waves and the crazies that tamed them it; this was also a full celebration of Jason’s 23rd birthday which also included a baby bird feeding of Chris Rehrer and a reggae dub man-choir version of happy birthday that Jason called “my best happy birthday song ever!”


    6: Scar Reef is still pumping in the morning and I decided to muster the courage and commitment to charge after one of these monsters. After much contemplation I dropped in on a solid 10-12 foot set wave, planted my feet while racing down the face of the wave, and was suddenly “closed out” on my bottom turn and instantly thrown into the most powerful whitewash I’ve experienced (like an American 110volt washing machine plugged into a 240volt international plug and set on the “angry” setting). After multiple flips, spins, and the powerful muffled roar I found myself inside for 5 more set waves, sitting a mere foot above jagged reef, humbled and powered by the comradery that Chris was also stuck inside with me (misery definitely loves company, which also suppresses the onset of panic). It was a great event and intense experience and in the words of Chris, “awesome” (no he’s not a sadist, it truly was amazing to experience, although I’d rather make the wave and not do it again).


    7: Commute back to our port and enjoy the rolling ocean and times shared through music, surfing, soccer, hanging with locals, and living life to the fullest.


    I’m getting too wordy with this email and will now direct you to the pictures; or if you’re like me, you scanned this email, realized it’s long and you’ll read it later (which you won’t) and will go straight to the photos below.


    We are alive (fully) and breathing (sometimes underwater). Thanks for caring,


    Tyler, Jason, and Ryan (our latest addition, aka. “Newbie, New Guy, and Wolfie”, honestly he’s never known by any of those names)


    SAME PICS AS BELOW/BEFORE


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  • Lazy in Indonesia



    I’m having too much fun in Indonesia to write a thoughful/funny/time consuming email blast. I’ll write next week when we return to Malaysia. We did return from our Surfing the Nations Indonesian boat surf trip (Bali to Nusa Lembongan to Gili Island to Lombok, to Sumbawa and circling back in reverse order) safely and have posted the first set of photos. Enjoy for the time being, because this is all you’re going to get! Patience is virtue…


    Off to surf,


    Tyler, Jason, and Ryan (our new addition)


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