Category Archives: Travel

Being Sick on the Road

After spending this past weekend being sick as a dog, it got me thinking about the times I have gotten sick while I was backpacking. It is not common for most people to get sick within the first few days they arrive in a different country, especially a 3rd world country. This happens because we are not used to the food and sanitary, or lack thereof. Heck, its common enough that they even coined it ” Traveler’s Diarrhea” . Traveler’s Diarrhea is the most common illness affecting backpackers. Of all my arrivals in different countries there are only 2 times where I remember getting sick.

My first encounter with this common illness was when I arrived in Bangkok for the time. I’ll never forget the wave of heat as I stepped out of the doors of BKK ( Bangkok’s International Airport). It was like nothing that I have ever felt before. The heat took my breath away. Already feeling tired and woozy from the 20 something hour-long flight, I grabbed a taxi and headed toward the famous backpacker hangout street called Khao San Road. With no hostel booked, I was hoping to just show up, grab a bed in a dorm and crash for a few hours. Well, turns out every hostel was fully booked and I was told I had to wait until checkout time to see if anyone was checking out and therefore opening up a bed for me. So I dropped off my backpack at the hostel and decided to kill the time ( as it was 3 in the morning) by walking around my new home city for a few hours. Khao San Road is littered with tourist traps and venders selling all kinds of random things to eat and buy. I came across a stand and the contents that it was selling just blew me away. DEEP FRIED FROGS. I had to try right? I mean I came half way across the world so I had to try one of these things. Those who know me, know that when I travel I eat like the locals. This was one thing out of many random things I’ve eaten that I will never try again. It didn’t taste too bad but I think the thought of knowing that I was eating a frog made it a little worse than it was. I ate it all and felt fine. Then a couple of hours later I felt the rumble in my stomach and knew I would be sick. I spent the 2 days recovering in my 10 bed dorm with no A/C. It was brutal. It had to be above 90 degrees in the room and all I had was a fan that didn’t even hit me. I soaked a towel in water and laid it on my face. I finally got rid of the sickness and was able to enjoy more street food. Those two days were some of the worst that I’ve had while backpacking. I’ll never eat deep-fried frog again.

The second time wasn’t really a sickness. It was the worst ear ache that I have ever had. I was on the amazing island of Bocas Del Toro in Panama. This island is unlike any I have been to. Its more of a chain of little islands connected together only by a long tail boat that you hire to get to each one. I was in the middle of getting my advanced scuba diver certification. It’s a three-day course that involves book work and a variety of dives including a night dive, deep dive, and a ship wreck dive. On the night before my final dive and the completion of the course, my ear started to really bother me. This was not my first time diving as I had gotten my open water diving certification a month earlier in Honduras and even then my ears were acting up. The pain was not too bad but I was a little hesitant to go on the final dive because I knew it could be bad on the ear. The dive instructor told me that the only way to pass the course was to do this final dive so I pretty much had to. It was bad idea. Less the an hour after the final dive my ear was killing me. I went straight to my room, luckily I had my own room, and tried to sleep it off. It was hot, really hot in my non A/C room and I couldn’t sleep. This was the worst earache I had ever had. I finally gave in and asked where the hospital was. I had to get some sort of medicine for the pain. I was told it was about a 20 minute walk so I headed there. When I arrived it was crowded. The workers didn’t know much English and I only knew a small amount of Spanish. I pointed to my ear and said ” dolor” which means pain. I was taken in the back and luckily the nurse knew a little bit of English and told me it was pretty bad. They gave me pills and ear drops and wanted me to go back everyday for the next 7 days to get a shot. This was a problem because I was leaving the island in 2 days so I just played along and said I would. This Dr. visit only cost me 6 bucks. I was astonished by that and headed back to my room. The following day my ear was feeling better and I was able to enjoy the sun again on the gorgeous island. I’ll never forget that time. The pain was incredible.

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Top 5 Things I Look for When Choosing a Hostel

Through my travels I have stayed in many types of hostels, guesthouses, cheap hotels, you name it and I have stayed in it. There are many different types of cheap accommodations while backpacking and each one has its own style, amenities and good and bad things associated with it. When im choosing a hostel there are a few things I look for that will sway me to choose where ill be staying that night or how ever many nights I am in that particular city. Here’s my top 5 things I look for when I choose a Hostel:

5. Free Breakfast

Most hostels that I have stayed at will include a free “breakfast” with the price of a nights stay. This is a good thing to look for if you either on a budget or a cheap skate, like me. While most of the time the free breakfast will only consist of cereal or bread, jam, fruit, and juice and coffee it’s still free and will save you a few bucks from having to eat out somewhere. Even if you wake up and you’re not too hungry its smart to head to the kitchen area and grab a couple of pieces of bread and some fruit and save it for later because now you have something to eat for lunch and you also just saved money that will no doubt be spent on beer later that day.

4. Free Internet

Internet is a must have for backpackers. It provides a means of keeping in contact with family and friends back home, reserving a hostel in your next city, checking how much money you have left and even seeing whats going on in the world. In Europe especially internet is insanely expensive as most internet cafes charge you by the hour so when im looking for a hostel that I want to stay in I usually go with one that offers free internet. I love anything free and hey, its more beer money that ill have to spend each night.

3. Location

Location is a pretty important factor to take into account when I look for my hostel. Obviously the hostels that are closer to the city center or the popular areas of town will be cheaper than the ones further away. Even though one out-of-town may be a good amount cheaper than in town you have to remember that you will have to pay for transportation from your out-of-town hostel into the popular part of town and back again. This can add up to a big chuck of change at the end of the day. I have stayed in both of these types and ive learned my lesson: pay the money to stay close to where the happening spots are. Most of the times the price of transportation everyday adds up more than the price of the hostel. Location is a big key for me. Spend the extra money and you will have more coins to spend on beer that night. ( Crazy how that works, huh?)

2. Atmosphere

Theres nothing better than walking into your new hostel in the city you just arrived in and seeing that it has its own bar packed with other backpackers partying and drinking and laughing and just having a good time. If I hear or read that a hostel has a great atmosphere than chances are I will head there and see for myself. I mean that’s what backpacking is all about. Seeing the world, meeting people, and having a great time all the time. Now, there are some times when I am just over the drinking and loudness and want to find a quite place on a secluded beach and be alone but most of the time I look for the hostels that are packed with loud rowdy drunk kids. Then I spend the money that I saved on not having to use an internet cafe and buy beers. All.Night. Long.

1. Price

It’s no secret that I am a cheap skate so this one so come as no surprise. The number one thing I look for when searching for a hostel is PRICE. I’m a backpacker not a tourist. I don’t have loads of cash. My money has to last me weeks, not days. I’d rather have a crappy dorm room than a 4 star hotel. That’s just how I am. Usually the cheapest rooms are dorms rooms. This means that you will be sharing a room with strangers. Anywhere from 3 to 24 other people will be sleeping and staying in the room with you. What better way to meet people than to have to “live” with them? The biggest dorm room I stayed in was a 25 person one in Amsterdam. It was cheap but not THAT cheap being that the Euro dominates the USD. It was fun and since we all saved money by booking the dorm we all went out for beers!

Old Post from 2 months before Thailand last March

I was looking around and found this old post that I had posted on another blog site that I know longer use and wanted to share. Kinda crazy reading this after the trip. I had forgotten about it.

Well there is just under 2 months left until i head back to one of my favorite countries that ive ever wandered around: Thailand. People always ask me why do i love Thailand so much and for some reason its tough to answer. I can not just name one thing that makes me want to go back there again and again. I love everything about that country from the amazing beaches to the nice people and not to mention its extremely cheap. The food is amazing and it is probably in my top three of favorite kinds of food. Theres nothing better than buying some chicken on a stick on Khoa San Road and strolling up and down looking at all the tourists buy the things tourists buy. I am not a tourist. Backpackers are not tourists. I like to go off the beaten path and stay in the cheapest places possible. Tourists go for the most luxorious hotels and always travel in a group of other tourists because they over paid by hundereds of dollars at the tour agency office. I like to get places on my own. Take the cheapest route possible. This way allows you see the real country for what it is and gets you away from the fake tourist side of things.

Now all there is to do is wait. I hate this part. The flights have been booked, the hostel in bangkok for when we arrive has been booked and the hotel for the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan has been booked. Yes, i did say “hotel”. This is we be one of only a handful of times that ill have stayed in a hotel while backpacking. Like i said before I always go for the cheap hostels but this party is so insane and so much fun that it calls for a badass hotel on the beach. That is exactly what we have booked. The resort in called Blue Marine. we reserved two rooms and both are ” beachfront cottages”. They consist of two beds and a balcony with two chairs, a table, and of course, a hammock overlooking the ocean. This place is pretty cheap. We got the two rooms for five nights and the total was just under $600 bucks. So thats just under $150 USD per person for a sweet room beachfront room during the world famous party. This is by far the most ive paid for a room while backpacking but i know from experience just how crazy this party is and it warrants a room like this.

Now, the three others guys im going with have never done the backpacker thing before so I thought “what better way to break them in than have there first taste of a hostel be a shitty one?” So thats what I did. I searched for the shittiest room in bangkok i could find but i also wanted it to be near Khao San Road so I found one thats cheap and kinda shitty. Ive definatly stayed in worse hostels throughout my days but this one will be good for them. We have a four bed dorm so we will all me in there together and it was only $4 bucks a night/person. My first time in Bangkok I went real cheap and had a ten bed dorm with no a/c and a broken fan that didnt do anything for me and it was $1.35/night. It was miserable. So this should be a slight upgrade.

Im looking forward to this flight because we have an overnight layover in LA which means ill get to see my family and Halo. It also means that ill be able to take Ed and Tim around my hometown for the night which will be fun. It was pretty stressful trying to find flights that would allow us to land in LA and have Jason get on the same flight as us but I made it happen after days of searching for the perfect flight. Overall, we got a pretty good deal on the price. the price of the flight from DFW to BKK ( Bangkok ) was $1179 after the price of the travel insurance. I normally never buy the insurance but this was pretty cheap so I got it. Jason’s flight from LAX to BKK was under $1000 and that was what he wanted to stay under. Also, on the way back we have an eight hour layover in S. Korea which happens to be home to some of Ed’s relatives so we are gonna wander around S. Korea for a few hours and hopefully meet his relatives.

Two months away. Seems like a long time but im hoping it goes pretty fast. I have a lot planned here in the next couples months so im thinking it should go by rather quick.

Hostel Spotlight: Khaosan Road Rainbow Hostel

This hostel is located just a 2 minute walk from the legendary Khaosan Road in the heart of Bangkok. Every backpacker has heard of Khaosan Road and its the location where everyone wants to stay. Rainbow Hostel offers a good amount ofdifferent rooms from the common dorm with shared bathroom to the single rooms with private bathrooms. You can also choose between A/C or fan rooms.

Bangkok is hot, extremely hot in the summer time so I would grab an A/C room if available. Usually I stick with the fan room but here its only a couple bucks more the a fan room so I “splurge” for that added comfort. Nothing worse than trying to fall asleep in a room that’s above 90 degrees F. Believe me, I’ve tried.

During my last trip to Thailand when I went with my buds we stayed here twice. At the begining and end of the trip. None of them had been backpacking before so I wanted to find the most basic hostel I could so that they can get their feet wet in the backpacking/hostel world. I browsed Hostelworld.com for a little bit and came across Khaosan Road Rainbow Hostel. It really was the perfect choice. Right near Khaosan Road, cheap price for A/C dorm, and had free internet.

Free internet is a huge factor for me when deciding where to book. Every traveler needs internet. Its a way to stay in touch with friends and family back home, book future hostels, and of course, keep up to date with how your favorite sports teams are doing. This hostel has free WiFi so I booked it.

When we arrived and headed to our room it was a simple 6 bed dorm ( 3 bunk beds). Just how I liked it. The beds were pretty hard and thin but I was used to that. The WiFi worked decently as we were up on the 3rd floor. The shared bathroom was down the hall and I never had to wait for it to be unoccupied.

Downstairs in the lobby was also an indian restaurant. I never ate there but it always had a few people eating in it. The staff were friendly and accommodating and had good knowledge of the area. There was no curfew which was nice as the crazies on Khaosan Road come out late at night.

Overall this was a decent hostel and you did get a lot of bang for your buck. Clean bathrooms, OK beds, A/C, and free WiFi made it a pretty enjoyable stay. We stayed a total of 4 nights here and it was a good hostel experience. Not the best place we stayed on the trip but if youre looking for a basic hostel with the necessary ammenities then this is a great place. Plus, you can not beat the location of this hostel .

RATING: 7/10

My future University

When I get out of the military in December of 2012 my plan is to use the GI Bill and go to school in Thailand. There are quite a few schools that accept the bill but all except one, are located in Bangkok. Bangkok is a crazy city and I think living there would be insane so i’m hoping to attend Webster University in Hua Hin. Hua Hin is a small beach city on the eastern side of Thailand. Its about 3 hours from the port that can access a couple islands as well as 3 hours by train south of Bangkok. I think it will be pretty fun to live there. I was there for 3 days during my last trip to Thailand and the town is nice and quiet and kind of off the beaten path so there wont be too much tourist action. On the weekends or when i’m not in class i plan on scoping out the island in search of a bar/hostel I can buy. That’s my plan. I want to live and work on the beach in Thailand. Ill be going to school for my bachelors degree in business as I hope to already have my associates degree by the time I am out of the military.

http://www.webster.ac.th/

Reasons why I love backpacking

I’m addicted to backpacking. There are so many places that I want to go in the world and I really do not see a reason why I will not visit them. Backpacking the best way to travel in my opinion. The basis of it is to travel cheap which in turn makes your money last longer and extends your trip. Backpacking is not for everyone. It involves eating cheap (street food), sleeping cheap (hostels/guesthouses/couchsurfing), and traveling cheap (on foot instead of taxis). There are many reasons why I love to backpack and i’m going to try to narrow them down to five (in no particular order):

The feeling of being out of your element

Those of you who have been out of the country no exactly what i’m talking about. Its the scared/excited feeling when you get out of the airport and realize you’re in a different place than what you are used. The signs are in a different language, the food smells and looks different, the people drive differently and look at you differently because they know you are not from here. Some may be wondering ” why is this a good thing?” Well its really hard to explain but when you get this feeling you know that you better open up your mind get ready for an adventure you will never forget.

Time has no meaning

If I had to pick, this would most likely be my favorite thing about backpacking. There is no specific time you have to wake up and get out of bed everyday. There is no specific time you have to be here or be there. When you are backpacking you are free. Free to do what you want when you want and how you want. I like the saying ” you have no where to be and everywhere to go”. That sums it up perfectly.

Lugging around that heavy backpack

My backpack is much smaller than others but when i pack it, it gets packed full. I mean your backpack is the holder of everything you own while you are on the road so it better be able to fit it all. One of my favorite things to do is walk around with my backpack on regardless of how heavy it is. It feels good to have it on. It makes you feel like you’re part of an elite club that doesn’t have very many members.You’re part of the backpacking club. Now, every time i’m at an airport I look around for backpackers. They are easy to spot not only because they carry a giant backpack on their back but they just have a certain style about them. It’s hard to explain but they just look like a backpacker. It makes me jealous of them when I see them and i’m not with my backpack because they are about to go on an adventure of a lifetime. I just tell myself that that will be me one day very soon.

Street food

Street food is my favorite. Not only is it cheap but its authentic. Its what the locals eat. Whenever I go to another country I do my best to eat like the locals. Most of it is really good. In every country i have been to so far there has been the fast food chains that we are used to readily available for all the tourists but why would I travel thousands and thousand of miles to eat like I do at home? I do my best to limit the amount a whoppers and big macs and Subway subs I eat while on the road but I’d be lying if I said I have never eaten them. I usually visit one of these chains once every 10 days or so. There’s no doubt in my mind that if i had never left the country that I would have eaten scorpion, grasshopper, deep fried frog, whole octopus, maggots, and all the countless other great/horrible tasting things i’ve tried. But hey. at least I can say i’ve eaten those things! Can you?

Meeting great people

When you backpack its really easy to meet people. I mean, you already have one thing in common: youre both backpackers. I have met countless numbers of backpackers during my travels so far. Some were just friends while on the road and others I talk to till this day. A great place to meet people is at a hostel or bar. This is why I try to book hostels that have a bar in it. You can meet people there very easily then if you get along well enough tag along in a group to the next city then go your separate way. Once you break out of your shell of talking to people it becomes real easy. I friends all over the world that will have a place for me to sleep if i’m ever in their neck of the woods.

Activities

I have done so many crazy activities that I would not have gotten to do if I didn’t go backpacking. some of these include: scuba diving in Honduras and panama, climbing up to and being 2 feet away from flowing lava in Guatemala, white water rafting in Honduras, canyoning in Switzerland, canopy tour in Costa Rica, horse back riding in Nicaragua, elephant riding in Thailand, petting tigers in Thailand and much much more. Life is all about making memories and having stories to tell.

These are a few reasons why I love to backpack and I will always be a backpacker at heart till the day I die.

City Spotlight: Bruges, Belgium

During my first backpacking trip in 2007 in Europe I decided to go to a town called Bruges. Bruges is located in the small country of Belgium. With a population of just 120,000 people I was very intrigued to check out this city. I arrived via the train from Frankfurt, Germany. It was the longest train ride of my life at that point but I didn’t mind. The views of the country side were breathtaking and I had just arrived in Europe a week earlier so I was just excited to encounter something new. When the train approached Bruges station it was a rainy and dark day. This weather definitely set the mood for this city. Bruges just gives off the feel of an old, medieval city. Its architecture is that of the Gothic style and it makes you feel like you’re actually in the medieval time period.

I had pre booked my hostel here in Bruges ( this is a must during this time of year in Europe because there are a lot of backpackers ) so after getting off the train I now had to figure out how to get to it. The streets here are small and narrow and most are cobblestone. They wind all around and most dont have street name signs ( or at least I could always find them). There are many canals running through the city as well which makes locating a specific building that much more difficult as i would find out. When i finally found my hostel I was tired, wet from rain, freezing and in need a large cold Belgium beer. Luckliy my hostel, St Christopher’s Bauhaus Hostel, provided me with the opportunity to fulfill my needs. I booked this hostel on hostelworld.com because I had just come from one of their sister hostels in London and that hostel was amazing so I was hoping that this one would be just as good. When I walked in there were not many other backpackers there and it was very quite. It was the complete opposite of the hostel in London. I paid around 27 USD for a bed in a 6 bed dorm room ( Europe is crazy expensive) but it was pretty comfy and there were only 2 other people in the room with me during my 3 night stay. The view from my room was pretty sweet. I could see throughout the city and into the country side and considering it was rainy the whole time I was there i spent a few hours a day sitting on my bed reading and sipping coffee while gazing at the amazing city through the rain and fog. An image that will forever be stuck in my mind.

Bruges offers a lot to do for such a small city. On the second day I was there the sun finally poked out through the clouds so I decided to rent a bike and just wander around. I got a recommendation from one of the dudes that was working at the hostel that there was a small quaint town about “20 kms” away that would be cool to check out and have lunch so thats where I went. The road there was long and windy and parralled a canal most of the way but I passed houses and windmills and belgium people going about their daily business. Its odd for me to think about what they must think when they see me ( and I clearly did not look Belgium with my mohawk and flip flops) mesmerizing at all the things they are accustomed to. Anyways, I finally reached the small town and it was indeed that, small. They was on main street that had a bank and bakery and little stores so I

parked my bike and walked around a bit. I had to the tourist thing and eat a Belgium waffle so I decided to get one here. It was fantastic. After about 2 hours the clouds were moving in so I jumped on my bike and made the hour trek back “home”.

In the guide book I had it mentions “things to do in Bruges” and one of them was that this church here has a relic that contains actual blood from Christ himself. Now whether or notthis is true or whether or not I believe it is to be debated but of course I had to see this. The church is called The Basilica of the Holy Blood. Its tucked away in the corner down a small street and honestly if I wasnt looking for it I would have had no idea what was stored in there. There was no entrance fee which was good ( backpackers like free stuff, remember?) but they did ask for a donation so I made a small one because I HAD to see this. There was a small line to see it but when it was finally my turn I walked up to the stage and a priest held the tubular relic in his hands lifted it up to my face. Good thing I paid attention to the people that went before me because the reason he lifts it to your face is for you to kiss it then he wipes it clean. The blood was indeed in there although it looked like red brittle paper. This was very cool

to see and im sure not many people in the world have actually seen this.

Bruges is, without a doubt, in my top 3 cities I have been to. The small medieval town just gives you a feeling like no other and its loaded with old, gothic buildings and tiny roads. Not many cars clog the street and the main mode of tranportation is a simple bike. I love Belgium. Its home to my favorite beer as well. I will return here one day hopefully stay longer than just 3 days.

Weekend in El Paso, TX

This past weekend I made another trip up to El Paso, Tx to visit my brother’s family. El Paso is an 8 hour drive from where I reside in Abilene. This time I was lucky enough to get the hookup from my mom’s good friend and be seated in first class. After over sleeping and missing my first flight out of Abilene I finally made it to DFW where I had a layover. When I boarded the jet that was to take me to El Paso my seat was 5E. This was my first time ever in first class. I was extremely excited to see what this was all about but it really was nothing special. The main thing that I observed that was different than coach was the extra leg room. This was a very welcoming sight as im a pretty big dude. The flight was short and within an hour and half I was on the ground in El Paso. El Paso is a pretty big city that borders mexico. You can litterally see mexico and how poverished everything looks. Its quite an amazing sight. Its also very hot, like all of Texas.

When I got off the plane and saw my brother Mike his wife Jenny and their son Landon I was so excited and couldnt help but smile. I love them all so much. First thing we did was head back to their apartment and I got out of my uncomfortable ” first class” attire. Shorts, tank top and flip flops is what I need. Then we headed to one of my favorite fast food joints that they do not have in Abilene, Carl’s Jr. I love that place.

The main thing that intrigues me about this city is all the food places that they have. On saturday we headed to this place called Kiki’s mexican restaurant. This place was featured on the food network and I wanted to check it out and see why it was so popular. To say the least, none of us were pleased with the food. Maybe because were from the state with the best mexican food this side of the border but the food was nothing to write home about.

I love visiting my bro’s family and im real glad he got stationed in Texas as well. El Paso is not the greatest city but its really not bad either, at least I dont think it is. This was another fun weekend filled with swimming, eating, movie watching and just enjoying the time i have with Mike before he deploys next month. Hopefully this wont be my last time here before he deploys but if it is then I will definitely be back to El Paso when he returns.

My First Hostel Experience

Back in 2006 I decided that I was going to “backpack around Europe”. I honestly had no idea what backpacking consisted of as this idea was solely for the purpose of trying to make my brother jealous for deciding to cancel or annual Angels Baseball Roadtrip the following season. This was just an idea at the start but the more I looked into it and the whole backpacking lifestyle, the more i was intrigued and realized that it is really easy to do. I mean you all you have to do is: request time off work ( or quit if they do not allow you to take time off ), buy a backpack, buy a plane ticket, and get excited for the time of your life.

My First Hostel

Backpackers are budget travelers. We try to eat cheap, stay cheap and find free activities to do. The most expensive aspect of backpacking is obviously trying to find a cheap place to crash at night. That’s where hostels come in to play. I know, I know hostels are scary places where kids get drugged and taken to torture chambers where sadistic freaks pay to brutally kill them right?? Not even close. Hostels are a great way to save some cash when you’re on the road because they offer dorm style accommodation. These rooms are simple rooms with anywhere from 2-20 beds in a room with shared bathrooms. This may not sound too appeasing to many out there but it is really is not that bad. So after weeks of reading travel blogs and forums and getting all the knowledge I could, I booked my flight and booked my very first hostel: St. Christopher’s Village in London, England. I departed LAX in late May, 2006 and arrived at Heathrow Airport in London, England. It was a pretty surreal experience to be thrown into the chaos of London as a foreign backpacker especially for the first time being out of the country. After a hour ride on the London Underground ( subway system ) I made it to the stop I needed to reach my hostel. I arrived at the hostel at a little after midnight local time and I was beat. The time change and jet lag were a lot to handle. When I walked in the door I was blown away at how many people there were. The place was packed and there was a bar, music, chill out room, tables all over the place with random strangers exchanging travel stories while playing cards and drinking beers. As much as I wanted a beer after the 10 hour flight, dealing with customs, the hour ride on the Undergound, and now the overwhelming feeling of being in a foreign place, I decided that I would just lay down and take a “nap”. My dorm room had 3 bunk beds and my bed was on the bottom. It was comfy, especially considering how tired I was I fell asleep rather easily. When I finally did wake up it was 4am and I went downstairs to see what was going on and it was like I never even left. The bar was still packed, the tables still full of fellow backpackers being loud and consuming sweet English lager. I was obsessed with the backpacking scene from this moment on. Since this was my first hostel that could be why my memory of it is so vivid but this is still my favorite hostel i’ve been to to this day. The atmosphere was amazing, the people I met were fun to be with and explore London with and the late night drinking games were more than memorable. The next time im in London I will without a doubt be going back to this hostel. St. Christopher’s Village hostel. Where my addiction to backpacking started.

My Top 5 Favorite Islands

During my years of backpacking I have been to a handful of islands. While most islands may look the same they all have a different feel to them. Here is a list of my top 5 islands in order of great to greatest:

5. Caye Caulker, Belize

This gorgeous, tiny island is located in Belize. Its by far the smallest island i’ve been on but dont let that stop you from visiting it. It has a great feel to it as there are no cars allowed on it and

the streets are all dirt roads. The vibe here is very relaxed and calm. The locals are friendly and helpful and will point you in the right direction to some very cool local spots. The is so small that you can walk from end to end in a couple hours easily. The only bad thing that i can say about Caye Caulker is that there is not really any place to swim. there is no “beach” if you will. The only place that i found to swim was on the east side of the island and it was a little place in front of a bar that you could relax at. No waves just cool calm relaxing water. I planned on only staying here for a couple days but

ended up staying for 8. This is one of those places that just sucks you in and makes you never want to leave. Although there is not much to do on the island the relaxed chilled out vibe is welcoming and there’s always snorkeling and other excursions you can pay to do so this place is a must stop for any island lover!

4. Koh Tao, Thailand

I’ve only been to Kho Tao one time. When I was there it rained and thunder stormed the

entire time. It was always wet and overcast and dark. So why did I like this island so much? That’s a very good question. I guess its because of how the island made me feel. Its just very relaxing there. Its a rather small

island but large enough to where you need a to rent a motor bike to get around. The center of town is very welcoming and lots of good bars with good live music and decent food. While I was there they had the annual “Save Koh Tao” festival. It featured many local bands and food and of course, beer. This island is most known around the backpacking community to be a great place for scuba diving. Although I did not do any diving on this island I did have a couple buddies who dove here and they absolutely loved it. With a large number of different dives shops offering certifications and rooms, this is a great place to relax from your travels and go diving for a few days.

3. Koh Phangan, Thailand

This small island on the eastern side of the peninsula is home to the most famous full moon party in the world. Each month the beach of Haad Rin gets filled with thousands

and thousands of backpackers eager to get drunk and party the full moon away. Ive been to the Full Moon Party twice now and each time I can only recall certain parts of it. It gets crazy and is a must stop for anyone backpacking Thailand. Aside from hosting one of the craziest party in the world, Koh Phangan offers much much more. My favorite thing to do here is rent a motor bike and take to the crazy, windy roads on the islands. The best time to do this dusk. Find that perfect spot and pull over and watch one of the best sunsets you will ever see. This is much more enjoyable with a cold Chang beer in hand. This island will provide you with a time you will never forget.

2. Phuket, Thailand

Phuket is the largest island in Thailand and for most backpackers is the starting point for hitting the other islands around. It is really easy to get to from Bangkok or Chiang Mai as it has an airport that both those other cities fly into for relatively cheap. Phuket, pronounced “poo-ket”, is filled with a mixture of old, rich people as well as the younger backpacker crowd. The beaches are lined with giant corporate hotels and small guesthouses. The water is absolutely gorgeous. There is every water activity you can think of available here from jet ski rentals to paragliding over the turquoise water. The night life in Phuket is probably the craziest of all the islands. Because it is so big and there are so many people who come to this island, there are many many bars to grab a drink at. The main street where the bars are is called Bangla Road. Here you will find anything you are looking for and even things you wish you never would have seen.

1. Koh Phi Phi

I remember the first time I stepped off the ferry and onto this tiny island. The only thing I knew about it was that the movie “The Beach” was filmed here. I had planned on staying here for 3 nights and then moving on to the next place but something about Koh Phi Phi made me not want to leave. This island is tiny.There are no cars on the roads, heck there aren’t even really any “roads”. Just dirt paths winding across the island in between shops selling the usual tourist traps and amazing food. The beach isnt really that great. Giant rocks line the ocean floor for as far out as you can see and the its really shallow too. There are no waves so the water just sits there, still as can be baking under the 100 degree sun all day. At night, there are a lot of bars for you to wander to and many things to do. Its a quite island but there’s something mysterious about it that caught my heart and made me not want to leave and also made me go back 3 years later. This island was completely destroyed during the tsunami of 2004. It has since been rebuilt bigger and better than ever. There is a memorial set up on the view point up in the mountains. The trek to this view point is very steep and tiring but when you get there and you over look the entire island it makes it all worth it. I planned on staying for 3 nights but ended up staying here for 17 nights. This, by far, is my favorite island that I have been to.