January 6, 2014

2013 HumbleBraggery (Travel) Year in Review

I just reviewed my #2012 travel year in review post.  If for no other reason, this blog is worthwhile for the simple fact that I can review trips.  2012 was characterized by a lot of travel within Australia and not much running due to ongoing injuries and health issues.  2013 was much the same with travel abroad and a slight upturn in running.  However, I wrapped up the year hobbling around with a sprained or partially torn meniscus.  So my running nightmare continues into 2014.  I did manage a few bouts of spectacular training in the Perth Hills during winter/spring and a finish at the Climbathon# for the second year in a row.
 
Last year I spoke about the revolving door of people in my life.  That is still true but I am starting gain a more consistent group to meet with in Perth (non-runners since I still am not going strong).  I reduced the amount of short camping trips outside of Perth to instead spend that time in town, with people.  I feel like I have seen of enough the southern beauty of Margaret River, Albany, Esperance, and Pemberton...etc.  And most of the North with a trip to Karijini National park still outstanding.  So I am finding it more valuable to stay put near the city opting to get on an airplane to go somewhere when I feel the itch.  I will continue this trend in 2014. 

So here is the list in chronological order of notable trips I have taken in 2013:  

Southbound.  I once again attended to the annual camping, music and arts festival down in Busselton.  It was a fun time but I feel I am getting a bit old for it or maybe I just don’t like being penned up in a place for 2 days?  The highlight was an intimate, impromptu acoustic session by First Aid Kit at 1am in front of 20 lucky fans. 
  
Tasmania.  What can I say, I loved it.  Better known to me as the West Virginia of Australia, Tasmanians are friendly, quirky, and love the great outdoors.  I spent the entire week in a rental car camping out everywhere I could, running every trail I could.  I got two, yes two!, flat tires at the same time and was stranded on a dirt road in backwater Tasmania.  I had no cell phone coverage so I had to walk towards the next paved road some 7kms away.  I knocked on a dilapidated door and hitched a ride to the town Triabunna where the local pub allows people to pitch tents in their backyard.  I huddled up there for two nights while doing a day trip to Maria Island which proved to be a real gem with dolphins jumping next to the ferry on the way over.  It should be noted that 40% of Tasmania is protected wilderness with a ridiculous roadless chunk covering almost the entire southwest.  The Western Arthurs Traverse and Franklin River have therefore been added to my Bucket List.       

Family Visit.   My mom and sister came to visit.  We had one week to see everything we could and I think we did a very good job.  We headed down south stopping in Margaret River, Pemberton, through to Albany, toured the mine site in a few days.  The remaining days were spent in the Perth Area with the highlight being Rottnest Island.  I have to say riding bikes around Rottnest Island is the best activity you can do in Perth.  It was good to have the family here over Easter and have a big dinner with friends.
   
Singapore.  I spent the entire week staying in one place which is uncommon for me.  The gap year hostel run by Dennis and Jerrlyn felt like a natural fit.  Max, a guy from Malaysia living out the “Gap” and I discussed life, girls, and our dumbest mistakes to each other late into the evenings.  People in general are interested to get the American’s Perspective on most things, but unfortunately they tend to follow American news and politics more than I do.  Singapore is a very western type city as far as the internationalism and the fast paced business world is concerned.  However, it is so diverse and the hawker centres are amazing for their food selection.  Basically, you just get into the longest line and you will be guaranteed a good meal.  Singaporeans love their food.  A typical meal costs about 5 dollars, which is at least double any other south east Asian city but still a bargain for me.  The highlight of my trip was doing some mountain biking on Palau Ubin, an island off the coast of Singapore.  That, or running around the city at night with the Frenchman from my hostel.  Singapore has one of the best skylines in the world at night.  But I didn’t take any pictures…
   
Melbourne.  My buddy from college the Dirty Dar was there for work so I shot over for the weekend.  We forgot to take a picture together so the best one I have is of the Melbourne library.  We are pretty awesome.  It was great to catch up to share a few drinks and hot chocolates all over Melbourne and St. Kilda and the infamous Nunnery hostel.  I snuck out to the Dandenong Range do some running and hiking which turned out to be a pleasant a short train ride from the city. 

Home.  I did my annual 3 week trip back to the USA in August.  I felt like an outsider this time, as if I am more accustomed to Australian custom these days.  I spent the first few days in LA with my brother.  I did a fair bit of running Baldwin Hills Park running repeats from bottom to top.  I like the people and the encouragement that goes on there.  I also like the beach culture near Venice and Santa Monica.  You wouldn’t get characters like that on the Australia beach scene.  I then went back east to Pittsburgh to surprise my mom for her 60th birthday, did a road trip to North Carolina with my sister and saw Aussie-Americans Running Store owners, and sent my little sister off to Turkey.  It all went by really fast so I am looking forward to the next trip back. 

Borneo: Malaysia/Brunei.  I really nailed this trip.  I met so many interesting people which made the experience remarkable.  I can hardly remember them all because it seemed like every new town I landed in (and there were many) I seemed to run into incredible people and share the sites with them.  I exchanged running war stories with the global crowd at the Climbathon race, spent a day being chauffeured around mysterious Brunei with people I met on the ferry (now good friends), experienced World Heritage listed Mulu National Park with the Irish, and cheered for the home soccer team with most interesting set of Backpackers in the surprisingly chill city of Kuching.  I really need to write a report or post a video to do this trip justice.  11 days jammed packed with adventure and people.  Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu Park for the Climbathon race, then hopped a ferry to the sultan country of Brunei with is loaded with oil money, then bussed it to the transient oil town of Miri, flew a prop plane to the Limestone caves of Mulu National Park, another prop plane to Kuching to finish off the last 3 days of the trip partying with backpackers and locals, and watching the goofy Orang-utans and running up Mount Suntoberg at Fastest Known Time speeds. 

Bali.  I officially became a West Australian in November.  Bali is a west Australian playground.  It is cheaper to fly there than Melbourne or Sydney.  I can’t say I really enjoyed it but did have one awesome day walking around the villages.    

Perth Hills.  This isn’t a real destination but I spent a significant time here this year.  I love the trails and the feel of the region, especially during winter when the water falls are in full force.  Most People don’t travel here because it is about 40 minutes’ drive inland from the coast.  I don’t understand it because people choose to live in cookie cutter suburbs on flat land when they could live in a unique neighbourhood in the hills.  To each his own.    

2014.  My travel plans are set thru March with trips planned to Jakarta, Kyoto, and North Island New Zealand.  I am still working out the logistics after march but intended to do my annual 3 week trip home to the USA, Northern India to visit Brother Athang’s School (pictured above), and another trip to Bali/Komodo?.  My running still is not going so great so I don’t want to make any promises but I would love to do the Climbathon in Malaysia in October for a 3rd straight year, the Kepler 60km ultra in New Zealand in December, Mount Fuji in June would be a life list event, and have toyed with the idea of doing a stage race in Nepal.  If I had the chance to do just one of those 4 events, I would be more than satisfied.  But I really just need to use 2014 to build up again.  2015 I will target 100 mile race……….YEA YEA YEA… 

2014 goals.  Secret.

I wish I would have written more, took better pictures, and shared the adventures with people.  I did however manage to somewhat succeed at taking a picture a day for 2013 (still need to update that blog).  I really fell off the ball in November and December because I thought it was a dumb undertaking.  And It was for the most part since I did not spend much time trying to actually improve my photography skills, but quickly flipping through every picture last weekend allowed me to relive the entire year in 5 minutes.  I liked it so much I decided to do it again in 2014.  Take one snapshot that epitomizes the day.  I upgraded phone so I can now take pictures on the phone which will greatly simplify the undertaking.

Favorites of 2013:

Movie: Lincoln (only other movies I can remember watching were: Annie Hall, Cloud Atlas, and Man of Steel).

Book: Choose Yourself by James Altucher.  A big reason why I have started to revaluate my routine during the second half of 2013 and refocus on intentionally living. 

Song: Wally Wider or the Ballad of Speck and Pebble by Delicate Steve (xcmcvey recommendation)

TV: Game of Thrones (all three seasons watched).  Crazy and morally bankrupt show but I can’t imagine the amount of work and dollars that has gone into making it.  Epic.     

I promise to Blog more in 2014…

Bye

Pictures aren't working now...so I will update in a few days

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