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New Blog: Joey Goes Global

August 16th, 2009

If you’ve stumbled across this blog and want to see what I’ve been up to lately check out my new blog @ Joey Goes Global

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Dominican Republic Part I

May 7th, 2008

I´m traveling again.  Ah, how I missed the frantic search for a hotel in the midafternoon sun, the itchy ankles from all the bug bites, the slow as hell internet connections and funky keyboard layouts.  I had to remind myself my first couple of days, of why I actually put myself through this.  I really should have brushed up on my Spanish a little bit more before coming down here.

What is it about the first 24 hours of travel that always end up being the most frustrating?  I arrived at the airport in Santo Domingo around 1030p and held up a small cardboard cut out sign with my name on it.  I thought there would be a handful of people at the exit of the airport but I was surprised to find there were in fact, hundreds.  With no luck locating my ride I decided to find a taxi and head into town to search for a place to stay. 

Welcome to the Dominican Republic… where everything costs twice as much as it should for some ungodly reason.  After overpaying for my taxi ride to an overpriced ´´budget´´ hotel I went off to sleep.  The next morning I immediately checked out of my hotel with my bag over my shoulder and walked around the Zona Colonial (Colonial Zone obviously)  I made my way to Caribe Tours which offers the only regular buses out of Santo Domingo.  I bought my bolita for 300 pesos and endured a 5 hour air conditioned bus ride to Samana.  (thanks Lonely Planet for telling me this trip would take half of that time)

I arrived in Samana, a small coastal town on the Peninsula de Samana, around 3 in the afternoon.  I walked around a bit looking for an affordable hotel and I was damn near giving up when I came across a budget hotel by the name of Docia. I checked in and paid 600 pesos ($16).  I was excited to not have to pay $40 for a place to sleep.  I wondered around town some more aimlessly since there isn´t much to do other than stare out into the bay along the walkway.  From anywhere in town you can hear the speakers set up by the marina blasting merengue and reggaetone all day.  I was a bit frustrated at the noisiness of the Dominican Republic but I would find out later that there was a specific reason for it this week. 

I have come to realize that I really enjoy the evening while traveling way more than the middle of the day.  There just isn´t as much to do and the socializing is a little more difficult.  When night came I headed down to the bay and purchased a delicious grande Presidente (very good Pilsner) and sipped on it.  The music continued on and crowds gathered around the speakers, some people danced and some people held flags with the face of Manuel Vargas, the presidential hopeful in the upcoming elections on May 16th.  The scene was energetic and electric, the reggaetone was full blast and a parade began.  I was smack in the middle of a pro.Vargas political rally.  I always remember reading travel warnings about avoiding political gatherings but there wasn´t a moment that I felt unsafe.  People clapped and danced and screamed out his name, drivers honked their horns, sirens were on car roof tops.  It was all around very festive and a lot of fun to watch. 

A little later in the evening I had overheard some serious English being spoken so I decided to get a closer look.  Turns out I meet a Dominican-American woman named Nancy from the Bronx who brings her 4 daughters to the Dominican Republic all the time.  It was nice to chat with them and they were really friendly.  Her entire family was beautiful. Nancy hooked me up with her cousin who works in the next town I was visiting who would take me by moto the next morning. 

Manuel, or Bomba as everyone calls him picked me up from my hotel around 9am and we headed to La Galeras.  It was a quick 40 minute ride along the coast.  There was some amazing scenery along the way.  When I arrived at La Galeras I dropped my bags off at a bungalow about 100 meters from the beach.  La Galeras was very small and very quiet. Also, extremely hot.  I didn´t mention it yet but I realized in Samana that I had brought the wrong charger for my I’pod so I was limited on when I could use it.  I know I shouldn´t concern myself with my Ipod so much but I was really looking forward to watching a ton of movies I put on it and just being lazy for 2 days.  It turns out I was lazy.  I slept in my bungalow most of the daytime because it was scortching hot. It wasn´t till around 4pm that I was able to stroll the beach.  I had a lobster meal at the kitchen right by the water and then took a small bottle of rum, my ipod and a blanket and found a spot on the beach away from the main stretch inbetween a couple of palm trees and an old wooden boat.  This was what I was looking for.  The only thing I didn´t get was my hammock but that is OK.

There isn´t much to do at night in La Galaras so afterwards I strolled up and down the main street and had a couple beers before heading to bed.  The next day I slept a lot and performed the same beach and rum ritual from the night before during sunset.  I know it is crazy that I don´t like being on the beach during the middle of the day but it just isn´t my thing to lay there and get beat down by the sun.  I prefer breezy and dusky, even if it means fighting off mozzies.

Last night I decided to walk a little further from my hotel in search of a good night spot.  I ended up at a bar named VIP.  I saw and heard a TV playing the NBA playoffs so I propped myself at the bar and ordered a beer.  A few minutes later after reacting to a few shots made by the Celtics, the bar tender asked me in Spanish if I was European or American.  Turns out he is another Dominican American, this time from Boston.  We talked for awhile during the game.  He explained to me that his father owns the bar and he left his 9 to 5 job in Boston to come live here.  He said he misses some of the comforts of home but living in the Dominican Republic is far better.  As a shot in the dark I asked him if he by chance had an Ipod.  He pulls out his Iphone and told me I could use his charger this morning.  I woke up this morning and met him at the bar and let it charge for 45 minutes.

I took a gua’gua (mini bus) from La Galeras, back to Samana where I am currently. I went and visited Nancy again asked her where the internet cafe was.  She told me to get on a moto’taxi with her daughter and she would show me. My treat, because she wanted to use the internet as well.  Here I am now, writing and writing… I haven´t blogged in awhile.  I´m not sure what I´m doing the rest of the day.  I will probably head back to the hotel and rest until nightfall and then meet up with Nancy and her family for some drinks.  She said she would wash a few articles of clothing for me as well, which is really nice of her.

I decided to go back to Santo Domingo tomorrow instead of Friday.  There isn´t a lot to do around here during the day and in Santo Domingo I can visit a lot of the churches, parks and memorials to Christopher Columbus. 

I will update the rest of my trip when I return home.

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Dominican Republic!

March 3rd, 2008

Well, this time a year ago I was somewhere in South East Asia backpacking around.  Now I’m back home and itching to get back out again.  I decided to take a week off from work and school to enjoy the splendors of the Dominican Republic.  I’m real excited to be able to travel again even if it is only a short hop down into the Caribbean.  I plan to have a book and a hammock and do a little bit of relaxing.

Details coming!

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6 months out

November 13th, 2007

It has been about 6 months since my return to the United States. I am back to work part time and attenting community college. My goals at this point are to finish school to get my degree so that I can find work outside of the country a little more easily. I have about 2.5 full years of college left and should be able to transfer to University at the end of next year. Looks like I’ll be going for an anthropology degree while also taking some education courses.

Out of all the places I visited on this last trip Hong Kong and Chiang Mai have been the most attractive as far as living goes. Hong Kong is definitely more expensive and a huge urban city but it will provide a better income and maybe more excitement. Chiang Mai is the complete opposite… it is a very relaxed laid back city that will pay significantly less for teaching jobs. That being said… Chiang Mai doesn’t require the same amount of money to live off of and with a modest paycheck I could last awhile as long as I live accordingly.

I have a long way to go but these are my current thoughts. One of the reasons for taking this trip was to see how I might deal with living outside of the country and it seems like these two locations fit what I want the most.

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Beer and Pizza Review #7

June 6th, 2007

Ok, this is the final Beer and Pizza review. I know, sad isn’t it?

Cambodia & Indoniesia addition.

I have a sad sad regret. I never tried pizza in either Cambodia or Indonesia. However I did try brains. I’m not sure what kind of animal it was but in Bali I munched on some bright yellow curried brains. It was terrible mostly because I knew it was brains. The interesting thing about pizza in Cambodia is that lots of shops are called “Happy Herb Pizza” or “Happy Pizza” and that is basically a pizza with THC cooked into it or magic mushrooms. You can tell by the name of the place and the picture usually has a crazy bloodshot eyed cartoon character eating it. I did not try any so I have no review on the pizza itself although it is completely legal in both Laos and Cambodia.

The beer in Cambodia was some of the cheapest I was able to find. Angkor Beer is the cheapest and is brewed locally. Happy hours had the beer sold at .50 for about 12 ozs and .75-$1 any other time of the day. The beer wasn’t all that great but for a price like that there was no other option in my opinion.

There is also Anchor beer which I’m not sure where exactly it is brewed but you can find it all over SE Asia and it is a bit better than Angkor. They are both typical ales. Light and tasteless but they do the job.

Then there is Bintang which is a beer sold through out Bali in Indonesia. It is the only non-ale of the beers around the world since it is a pilsner. It had a lot more flavor but it was more bitter than any of the others. Still, it was the only choice in Bali unless I wanted to drink a Heineken or a Budweiser. I spent most of my time in Indonesia drinking tequila and whiskey. It was my final week… I was allowed to celebrate.

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So what’s next?

June 4th, 2007

You are probably wondering what kind of crazy adventure I am going to get myself into next. I can’t only about a week and a half home and I’m already daydreaming about travel. I honestly thought it would take a little longer. Thailand is the first place I have been that I have an instant urge to return to. I also would like to see more of central Africa while it is still untouched by travel.

I have had a lot of dream trips in mind over the last few years and the one I actually just took was a little off course at times and I spent more money than I should have on airfare with poor planning. I’d like to limit the amount of flying for my next travels. Maybe London to Saigon overland by train that way I’m only putting a few hundred dollars on the one-way flight to London and I can get there non-stop from Tampa. I’d like to take Spanish lessons at some point to get a basic understanding and then eventually travel through Central America to get my practice. I would like to get back to Africa for a safari and Kilimanjaro climb but I have to smart about this and that is just too costly for the amount of time I would get to be there.

I’m still set for school in the fall and a class over the summer and I don’t plan on doing epic trips for awhile and most likely after I graduate but in the mean time I will just have to figure out a nice 1-2 week spot to get to.

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One week later…

May 31st, 2007

After a nice Memorial Day weekend back home with friends I decided to spend the week taking care of some business. I am still jobless and will probably stay that way for a few more weeks. I’m not sure what exactly the plan is other than looking for something part time. I went and registered for classes for the 2nd summer session at school and decided to focus on education as a possible major. I met a lot of teachers while traveling and every one of them felt that it was the best thing they could get into to allow time to travel.

My short term goal is to get my degree and eventually try teaching overseas first. Out of all the places I traveled on this trip Hong Kong seemed the most likely place for me to live and teach. The city is really nice, it is close enough to the rest of Asia to use as a jumping off point for more travel and it is just very livable. For now though, I have to just keep at school and make sure I finish it this time.

I used to think I had no time to travel but I met a lot of older people doing the same thing I was doing so there is no limit on age for backpacking and experiencing the world so it takes the pressure off needing to see everything before I turn 30. At least I got a big trip out of the way and hopefully it keeps me going for awhile. I still plan on leaving the country during school breaks but I think it will be on a much smaller scale. Maybe a week in Europe or hitting up some of the islands in the Caribbean. I guess I could also visit more of the United States too.

I have handled returning home pretty well. I do miss the freedom of the road but it is nice to be home with the comforts I remember. My first meal back was a soft taco from Taco Bell and then Carabbas Italian Grill. I really miss Thailand. I think I started missing it the minute I left but didn’t realize it. The people are so nice in Thailand and I spent more time there then any other country. I didn’t like the food much but I think I am itching to get to a Thai restaurant here to bring back some memories. Hopefully it won’t do to my stomach what the real Thai food did.

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Cambodia Review

May 26th, 2007

Best Experience: Exploring Ta Prohm and other interesting temples at Angkor.
Worst Experience: Getting tricked into watching a fund raising movie when it was supposed to be a cello concert.
Best Accommodation: Red Lodge Hotel
Worst Accommodation: n/a
Best Food: I didn’t try Khmer food unfortunately, I was not there long enough. In Siem Reap there are a lot of good western restaurants and especially English. I had decent mashed potatoes.
Worst Food: Buffalo wings.
Scariest Moment: At night I felt a little unsafe walking Siem Reap by myself but overall it was never too bad.
Best Scenery: Cambodia isn’t really known for its stunning scenery but the jungles around the temples of Angkor were really interesting.

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Laos Review

May 26th, 2007

Best Experience: The rain falling while on the slow boat down the Mekong River.
Worst Experience: Stomach bug in Luang Prabang and the fatigue from the smoke haze.
Best Accommodation: Jayala House in Luang Prabang
Worst Accommodation: n/a
Best Food: Great baquettes! It was a former French colony.
Worst Food: I didn’t like the sauce that most rice dishes had.
Scariest Moment: Nothing scary about Laos. It is a very peaceful and quiet country.
Best Scenery: On the 2nd day of the 2 day boat trip down the Mekong and about 3-5 hours into it the scenery is amazing!

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Thailand Review

May 26th, 2007

Best Experience: Meeting Lyndaile and getting to spend time with her.
Worst Experience: The motorcycle accident in Ko Pha Ngan
Best Accommodation: NuanPranee House in Chiang Mai
Worst Accommodation: I really never came across poor accommodation.
Best Food: I enjoyed the spicy green curry even though it was never kind to my stomach.
Worst Food: Pad Thai. I think it is the oil or the peanuts but I just don’t like Pad Thai
Scariest Moment: Realizing that I was about to crash the motorcycle coming down the hill.
Best Scenery: The southern islands.

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