Gameplan: 2010

Posted by Joel on April 13th, 2010 filed in Uncategorized
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I’ve been back for a while now and have been refocusing my life after being on vacation for so long.

I’ve done a bit of interior architecture photography for Benchmark Projects and plan on doing more professional photography in the future.

I’ve also been showcasing some of my photography along with stories from my trip around the world at a separate website, here.

I have been studying programming, specifically php, mySQL, and Actionscript 3.0 for some web and database projects. I’ll talk about those a bit more once they’ve solidified.

And I may finally be ready to begin working for someone else now that I have had a chance to get my own projects off the ground.

I’m having fun here in Brooklyn with my great team of friends and totally awesome girlfriend, so the rest of the year is shaping up to be an adventure I’m excited about. Awesome!


Trip Complete!

Posted by Joel on December 14th, 2009 filed in Uncategorized
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Well, this website was really meant to be a sortof personal “resume” for me, to give people I would be meeting on my around-the-world trip an idea of who I am and what I’d be doing. Now that I’ve returned from the trip, I’ll probably be turning it into more of a professional resume.

It was a phenomenal trip, and the best way to tell you about it is through the pictures I took.

Thanks to everyone who helped make it possible!

Keep in touch!


2 weeks notice

Posted by Joel on February 11th, 2009 filed in Uncategorized
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I am now two weeks away from heading back out to finish up my travels. In the next two weeks I’ve got to do my taxes, get a Visa for Brazil, and go to my sister’s wedding in North Carolina. I also need to get extra pages for my passport, but I hear it’s easier to do that at a consulate overseas than here so I’ll give it a try.

Coming up, it’s back to Tokyo then off to Beijing. After that it’s Sydney, New Zealand, and South America. I’m getting excited for it, but also looking forward to wrapping up and figuring out my NEXT big step. I’ve been unemployed and ‘homeless’ for nearly a year, and while it is a nice way to be I’m looking forward to setting up a place of my own somewhere in New York and working on my future.

That said, I’m not complaining about traveling one bit!


A Vacation Vacation

Posted by Joel on January 14th, 2009 filed in Uncategorized
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I’m back in Brooklyn now, back for 4 months after my first 4 months out. Came back for some weddings and the holidays and a preplanned break in the action to give myself a chance to make sure I can handle traveling like this. The good news is, I can!

I haven’t kept this updated like I should but luckily someone else went through the trouble of making me talk about it. Check out this interview with me on cheapsters.org where I try to explain how I tried to travel cheaply.

I go back out at the end of February to hit some Southern Hemisphere. Should be good times!


Update: Africa Down, London Calling

Posted by Joel on August 17th, 2008 filed in update
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It’s my last day in Cairo and since I’ve seen the pyramids and the museum already I figured I’d get back to updating my internet. Africa has been a pretty fantastic experience, full of sweat, safari, squalor, and smiles. Also, dudes walking arm-in-arm with dudes. I tried it, and it wasn’t so bad. Allow me to briefly break down: the rest of the highlights

Cairo:

I flew into Cairo from Madrid on an evening in July. From the plane I had seen a football stadium it up and filled with fans and now that I had landed and as in a taxi the streets were full of people cheering for the winning team. I pretty much hatehorn-honking and Cairo loves it. The taxi driver drove with a reckless finesse (if that is possible) that made me feel endangered but calm about it. “It’s Africa” I told myself, and acceptd that things are just different here. I would repeat that phrase many times.

My ‘Hostel’ was called the “African House Hotel” and had a rating of 100% on Hostelworld.com. The staff were very friendly, but the accomodations were certainly not what I would rate as “100%”. Though things were abviously cleaned regularly, the building (built in the 1800s) had a residual dinginess and the mosquitos everywhere didn’t help my impression, nor did waking up to the obvious sounds of a mouse SOMEWHERE in my room. But, it is Africa and it is $12 a night, so I’ll probably join the 100% rating bandwagon.

Through the hostel I arranged a trip to the pyramids and Memphis, a trip which would be considered absollutely perfect if not for the outrageous price I paid for a camel ride around Giza. I was new to the idea that you need to bargain for everything, and my driver told me it was a good pric, but in retrospect he was probably in cahoots with the tourguide and getting some sortof kickback. I did get an amazing photo out of it, though, so I guess it was worth it.

That night, I had a 3am flight to Ethiopia, and the hotel staff were nice enough to let me nap in an unbooked room until my flight, further reinforcing that while the place isn’t the nicest, the staff are.

Ethiopia:

I had been planning t go to Ethiopia for a long time. In DC I worked with 6-7 people from Ethiopia, and my friend Eskinder always insisted that I go there. I told him I would when he movd back, and 5 years later he DID move back so it was on me to uphold my promise. We met in Addis and I had to borrow 200 Ethiopian Birr from Eskinder to pay for my visa, but first had to convert the Birr into US Dollars, which I found a mildly amusing annoyance.

Our first 5 days in Addis were full of egg sandwiches, Ethiopian Chiiro, and hanging out with Eskinder’s friends. It was fun, but it was a welcome change to book a plane flight along te Ethiopian Historical Route and see some of the amazing cultural sites in Axum, Lalibela, and Bahir Dar before ending up in Eskinder’s hometown of Gonder. Axum was full of old buildings, tombs, and obelisks, old bibles, and kids selling crosses. Lalibela was a more rural mountain town containing the astounding rock-hewn churches. We also saw Bill and Chelsea Clinton there, at the airport. I lived in DC for 8 years but had to come to Africa to finally run into them. bahir Dar was where to took a boat out onto the largest lake in Ethiopia, lake Tana. We saw some island monastaries and the Blue Nile, the source of the river that eventually runs through Cairo. I also did a good bit of dancing in Bahir Dar, earning the name “The Gonderian Elvis” from one of Eskinder’s pals.

We ended up in Gonder where Eskinder’s family has a restaurant and I got to sleep in a room next to the room sheep are slaughtered in. I now know a bit more than  ever wanted to about how food gets to the table. Unsurprisingly, I’m still vegetarian. Traditional Ethiopian food has plenty of Vegetarian options, due to their predelection for ‘fasting’ a couple days each week, but I did end up eating the same meal a good number of times. It was delicious each time, but I began to miss variety.

Driving through the countryside there were people everywhere. 6-7 year old kids tending cattle along the side of the road and plenty of huts. There are about 80million people in Ethiopia, but only 5million in the capital city. Compare that to Egypt which also has 80million, but 20million in Cairo. I had expected the poverty of the 80s to have tapered off as foreign investment turned the place into a tourist destination, but there’s still plenty of national-Geographic-Style photo-ops to be had. I didn’t take many photos of people, as I didn’t feel comfortable doing so, but it definitely made me think about how lucky I am to have falen into the life I have. That said, many of the people I saw seemed very happy with their situation, Yorkpossibly moreso than most of the people I see in New York. 

Kenya

Everyone warned me that Nairobi would be  dangerous place, but after 3 weeks in Ethiopia where the muddy streets (it was rainy season) were full of people asking for money and most people spoke only Amharic, it was nice to land somewhere that people on the streets had ther own things going on and everyone could understand me. Also, I was able to get my first Veggie Burger of my 2+month trip there. I met up with another old co-worker, Christian, who put me up in his apartment which was admittedly in a fairly posh part of town, so my exposure to any sortof dangerous situation was very limited.

We did a safari when i arrived, which was something I didn’t think I’d have time for with only a week in Kenya. We drove through Nahuru National Park and saw plenty of Water Buffalo, Zebras, Flamingos, Storks, Antelope-type-things, Rhino, and Giraffes, but no Lions or ven Hippos. Maybe next time?

After a couple of days in Nairobi, I took a bus to Mombosa, a coastal town where there is an orphanage I was going to take pictures of for their press stuff. The bus reminded me of the chinatown buses between NYC and DC. I swam in the Indian Ocean, took plenty of pictures, and stressed myself out by letting some of the 30+ kids at the orphanage hold my expensive camera. The orphanage was a great experience and another instance of people to whom life has been hard still finding their own happiness.

I got drafted to help out with some of the things that needed fixing around the home, but my record wasn’t that great. I managed to fix a severed printer power-cable, but failed to repair a vacuum-cleaner and freezer gutted by rats, and a television with a burnt-out circuitboard. I did manage to give myself a nasty shock working on the TV while it was plugged in. Luckily, I didn’t die.

For more information about the orphanage, and to help out, have a look at onehomemanyhopes.com

Cairo 2

Now I’m back in Cairo. Yesterday I went to the national museum, which was a let-down for me because they didn’t allow cameras inside. the museum was chock full of old artifacts and most of them were unlabeled soit felt like more of a giant antique store and eventually my brain sortof shut-off.

Now, on my last day in Cairo, I’m taking it easy. I’ll walk the streets for a bit and get some Kochary (a delicious and cheap street food consisting of pasta/rice with fried onions and tomatoes) and just relax. I’ll definitely return to Africa someday soon, but for now I’m looking forward to Londontown.


UPDATE: Europe Done, Africa On Deck

Posted by Joel on July 19th, 2008 filed in Uncategorized
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I had planned to update this more frequently, but couldn’t find the time while I was travelling due to sporadic internet access and a desire to get out and see stuff outside. I haven’t had a lt of downtime in Europe. I expect I’ll have more in Africa, but probably less internet. Such is life.

My flickr account is still the best place to get updates, but for now I’ll post an update using questions my mom asked me in her last email.

What is new with you?

Just finishing up the European part of my trip. I am in Madrid and heading to cairo tomorrow. From Cairo I goto Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to meet my friend Eskinder. From there we’ll go to his Hometown of Gondar and after a couple weeks there I’ll head to Nairobi, Kenya and from there to Mombasa, Kenya where I’ll take some pictures at an orphanage run by a friend of a friend. Then I’ll go back to Cairo and then to the UK where I’ll spend 3 weeks getting a Visa for India and hanging out with UK pals and Anna who is coming over from NYC!

Everyone always want to know where you are and how the trip is going.  Do you get lonely and home sick some times?

It can get lonely sometimes, walking around a city where I don’t know anyone and can’t understand what people are saying. When I am in Hostels I can usually meet people who are travelling and we’ll go out together to see the city. Sometimes I prefer to strike out on my own, though, so I can spend more time taking pictures and getting off the beaten path.

I miss having friends around to takepictures with me, but I am usualy able to keep in touch with people through emails and chat which makes it easier.
Are you getting tired of living out of a back pack?

That hasn’t been a probem, really. I have been able to do laundry regularly (though sometimes a day or two past when i should) and I have brought plenty of things to keep myself entertained. One problem is that I have very little space to ADD things to my pack, so presents and souvenirs are rare. I take plenty of pictures, though.
Have you found the hostels and couch surfing to be a good way to travel?
Hostels are fantastic. Obviously more expensive than couchsurfing, but easier to arrange on short-notice and give plenty of opportunities to meet new people. Couch-surfing with friends is also great, though you can sometimes feel like you are imposing on them since they have work and school to attend to while you are there.

I had one successful couchsurfing.com expeience and my host was a really great guy that went outof his way to show me a good time in Helsinki. I tried a few other places, but in general my plans have been abit sporadic and it is tough to find a host 1-2 days in advance,especially since you need to wait for them to reply via email.

Is your money lasting like you thought?

I didn’t really have a precise budget for the trip, but more of a target. Since I worked an extra 2 weeks more than planned before I left, I can usually justify spening a bit more somewhere by saying that it is funded by the extra cash I earned for those 2 weeks.

That said, europe is pretty brutal on the wallet right now. Even with the railpass, train reservations cost extra ($7-$45 depending on whether it is a night train or express or regular) and food can be pricey. I try to eat frugally when i can. In Switzerland I ate a lot of bread and cheese and yogurt from supermarkets. But, when I find an interesting restaurant, particularly a vegetarian one, I will spend $15-$25 on a meal. Iam hoping that Africa will be a bit cheaper, but we’ll see!

Hopefully moreupdates to come, sooner than later!


How Can I Help If I Don’t Know Anyone Overseas?

Posted by Joel on May 27th, 2008 filed in faq
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One way that would be pretty helpful is to sign up for couchsurfing.com and friend me! Then you can leave a comment or note to let people know I am trustworthy (only do so if you think I am!). That way people will know I’m not some cheap traveling axe-murderer and will be more likely to offer to show me around town or give me a place to stay.

The site is pretty amazing and full of some great people who enjoy meeting people from around the world and putting them up at thier places. I intend to start putting people up in the place I live next, to pay back the karma I’m eating for this trip.

Here’s my profile:
http://www.couchsurfing.com/people/amigarad


Around-The-World Ticket Purchased!

Posted by Joel on May 27th, 2008 filed in update
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I bought my Around-The-World Ticket from American Airlines on Thursday, May 22nd. I get 20 stops (on June 1st they are changing it to only allow for 16 stops due to restrictions for electronic ticketing) on 5 continents. I am going to Africa, but not through them. I’ll buy a separate set of flights from Cairo to Addis Ababa to Kenya and back.

Here’s my planned route:

1. New York City (North America)

2. Helsinki, Finland (Europe)

3. Krakow, Poland (Europe)

–At this point I will take a road trip from Krakow to Romania, Budapest, and Prague, then heading to Amsterdam.

–In Amsterdam I’ll be using a railpass to get to places in Western Europe including Geneva and Pisa before ending up in Madrid, where I’ll restart the around-the-world flights.

4. Madrid, Spain

5. Cairo, Egypt (considered Europe)

–From Egypt I’ll get a flight to Addis Ababa to visit an old co-worker in Ethiopia, then head to Mombosa, Kenya to take some pictures at an orphanage for thier pres releases, then fly back to Cairo to restart the RTW ticket.

–For the African countries I will need visas, but I believe I can get them at the airports.

6. London, England (Europe)

–While in London I need to get a Visa for India, since they will require one be obtained before I arrive. I’ll spend a few weeks in the UK while I wait for the Visa, possibly taking a trip up to Scotland in the meantime.

7. Dubai, UAE (Europe)

8. Mumbai, India (Asia)

9. Hong Kong, China (Asia)

10. Taipei, Taiwan (Asia)

11. Tokyo, Japan

–At this point I plan to head back to NYC to hang out in America for a few months. I’ll get a round-trip ticket using frequent flyer miles.

12. Beijing, China (Asia)

13.  Sydney, Australia (Australia)

14. Christ Church, NZ (Australia)

15. Auckland, NZ (Australia)

16. Santiago, Chile (South America)

17. Buenos Aires, Argentina (South America)

18. Lima, Peru (South America)

19. Sao Paolo, Brazil (South America)

20. New York, NY (North America)

In theory I can add another leg and possibly change some flights, for $125, but I’ll do that later if need be. It’s an exciting time!


When would you arrive?

Posted by Joel on February 19th, 2008 filed in accomodations, faq
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My arrival in your town is unknown at this point, and would largely depend on where I am coming from and when it is convenient for you.

That said, I have a vague itinerary here that will be updated as the trip goes on.


How long will you need to stay?

Posted by Joel on February 19th, 2008 filed in accomodations, faq
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Generally, it would be 2-3 days.

In areas outside of Europe and the US I would love to stay a bit longer, but only when convenient to my hosts.

Actual stay times stay duration would be worked out with you, based on what works within your schedule.