Monday, November 8, 2010

Traveling Tips

Lately, my blogs have been about my traveling destinations and experiences. I will get back to that for the next blog, but I decided to list some tips for longer travels for anyone that is interested in pursuing that. Here are my tips for traveling as well as some backpacking.

1) When backpacking take the bare essentials, also recognize that you can get clothing cheap in the third world countries so it is better to underpack slightly on clothes here. Also having things that can double as two outfits is good, such as zipper extensions to shorts/shirts. This is not an exact science and you will get better over time. Here is a site I found useful for this:

2) Finding hostels can be tough, is a great site to use to find them. I would also search on kayak for hostels, and then I'd type them each in to google and check out the reviews. With the reviews, check back on the prices and what you and your traveling partners need/care about, then try to select the one that fits your needs the best.

3) Do not set up dates, for my last trip I realized with just having a one way ticket to Thailand, that I was going to be able to leave when we wanted. Well, when we were checking out flights home, it actually did not cost much more to travel to all the stops I will blog about, instead of just going directly home. This is why I decided to turn the end of the trip in to a backpacking trip. Some stops you will love and want to stay for a while, and some stops you will inevitably hate and want to leave. By leaving yourself open ended time tables at destinations, you make it so you can dictate how the trip goes and where you stay, this is extremely important. We did not have enough time at each stop as we would have liked so we pushed for one month straight to see everything. We absolutely loved it, but were ultimately dead by the end of the trip, and our bodies were very fatigued.

4) VACCINATIONS, this one is huuuuge. It is very very easy to just see the shots you will need and try to get them at the last second. However, immunizations such as Hepatitis A & B require more than 1 shot! Some shot periods take over a month to get administered, and it also depends when you can get in to the offices for appointments. Shots such as Typhoid only need one single visit, but absolutely plan for this ahead of time and do not leave shots for the last second. It is also smart to get an immunization card for the places to initial when you leave so that you have your own records for personal keeping. Budget for the shots, they can be very expensive!

5) Budget your travels, this one is self explanatory, but some people overlook and do it on the go, don't burden yourself if you do not have a tight budget, but give yourself a rough idea by seeing how much the cost of items are in the various countries you are going to are to get an idea of how much to bring/budget for.

6) Bring a money belt for around your waste to protect your valuables, people are always trying to find easy marks in life, and tourists are tops on their lists because they are not as familiar with their surroundings.

7) I believe it is also possible to get prepaid cards with foreign currencies before you leave home. This means you don't have to pay the enormous exchange rates you encounter everywhere on the trip. I am not positive on this last tip, but was told by a traveler that this is the way to go and I will be researching it before my next adventure.

Good Luck at the tables,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok was certainly one of our least favorite stops on the trip. The city was described to be very dirty. Well, that is because people refer to it in comparison to their other cities, in comparison to New York it is extremely clean. Here, the hospitality that you see in most other parts of Thailand evaporated, with the barters being more aggressive and not quite as friendly. Also, the cheaper prices seen through out Thailand rised here to what I would compare to the US as standard prices in smaller towns/cities. I had taken my hiatus from poker for a few weeks and my mind was nice and fresh. The coolest part was definitely the Sirocco Rooftop bar in Bangkok that is rated at the top of every list in the world for rooftop bars. We were also not looking to see any more Wats(Temples) as we'd already seen so many. Here are some pics from around the city.

researching the city before we go to find the train station, I'm drinking a real coffee, sugary whip creamy thing in front is Laurie's, it looks like I'm drinking from hers.

Elephant Salt Shakers doing their thing

Laurie on our hotel balcony

Laurie pretending to be tough while waiting for the train

The park near the huge market in Bangkok

The same park

Scary tatted up guy at the Bangkok Market

A shot of how packed the market gets on a Saturday

Their ads are much more entertaining than American ones, you could look at them all day if you wanted to and still be amused

Laurie in the park on the way back from the market, I believe I'm carrying everything that we bought

Same bridge, different shot

Random couple romantically canoeing down the stream

I never felt too safe exchanging money from a random van on the side of the road, entertaining nonetheless

Random cop dude that helped us locate Sirocco Rooftop Bar, ranked here as the #1 rooftop bar in the world, we also made it to #3 on the list

Shots from the rooftop of Sirocco bar, $15 a drink, no cover though, fun to go and see one time, offers almost a 360 degree of the whole city of Bangkok which was really neat

Myself and the city beneath me

A shot of the upper bar at Sirocco

Myself and huge random statue at the Bangkok airport, we're getting ready to depart for Cambodia which will be on the next blog

Last shot for the blog, had to pretend I was in, note where my hand is pointed, this lady was too tired perhaps and had her boyfriend pushing her around in a cart everywhere

Good luck until next time - P12

Monday, October 4, 2010

Awesome Trip - Part 2 Chiang Mai continued

Hey everyone, sorry for the huge gap in between posts, I have been extremely busy catching up with friends and just living my life. After Chiang Mai, Laurie and I headed to Bangkok, Thailand so I'll post the rest of the pictures from Chiang Mai and then try to upload the other trips in the coming weeks as soon as I get to them. I've been playing a lot of poker lately with mediocre results, I am putting more time in to studying though so I have plenty of confidence I'll be back to old form soon. I had been in a rut the first month of travel, and now while back at home. I took the last month off on the trip to just enjoy the travels, so in all my last 3 months of poker have been the worst results wise each month for any month in the last 2 years or so, this can also be attributed to the games being harder these days. They've still been winning months and I'm glad I can say I've still yet to have a losing month in Limit Hold Em since beginning in December of 2007 which makes it 34 straight winning months. Without further ado, I present to you Chiang Mai.

We decided to site see as Chiang Mai was a great location for this. We had already seen a bunch of Wats (temples) so it was not high on our list at this point. We decided to check out the gold though in Wat Phan On located in the Old City of Chiang Mai. The old city is in the heart of Chiang Mai encapsulated by what appeared to be old moats. It is a neat little historical area.

Wat Phon On, note the great photo taking to get it symmetrical

I decided to then bug Laurie in to letting me see Chiang Mai University since I wanted to compare it to American college. It was mostly the same except for all the motor bikes zigging in and out everywhere.

Me on my first day as a student at CMU

Here I am at their outdoor workout facility which is just a neat combination of mainly things already found in the outdoors. I thought it'd be fun to try out, this one is comparable to dips for the triceps, they had about 5 more workouts there

Afterwards, I decided to get in some hands so I went to the internet massage where they didn't massage me on the internet. Actually I didn't even go in, just enjoy all the random signs they have that are confusing.

From there we decided to get an American meal since we had only had primarily Thai cuisine for over a month at this point. And, doesnt' get much more American than McDonald's which were everywhere, but not seen as frequent as KFC's. Out of respect I bowed doing the wai, which is a form of respect shown. Typically Americans misuse it by doing it in spots where they are of a higher social standing or it is unecessary. However, Ronald is a worldwide icon and deserved the respect.

After such a grueling day, Laurie and I decided to have some drinks. We ate at a little restaurant near by that costs us a total of $4 USD. Next door was the owners brother who operated a mobile cart that transformed in to a bar when he got there. He also had an ipod with incredible tunes on it, mostly American.

On our last day I decided to take Laurie to the elephant conservation center since she seemed to really like the elephants and wanted to see the cause first hand as she had learned so much from our countless nights watching Animal Planet.

Not only did she get to see the big boys, but she also got to see some baby elephants as well. The place would try to buy elephants that were abused and help them in life. Many people use them as a form of income by raising them to walk the streets and make money from tourist donations. In fact, even at the mobile bar one walked down the street.

What is a trip to see the elephants without riding one?

The view from atop him, couldn't get any better and also didn't have anyone on the ground to take some of us.

I'll post within the coming days on the next stop on the trip, Bangkok, Thailand


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Back in the Jerz, Awesome Trip - Part 1

So I got home on August 2nd, but it still feels like just yesterday even though it is about a week. For the last month I probably got about 3-4 hours of sleep a night on average, pretty ridiculous, but my body is young and can still take it. We crammed it all in and pushed it hard to see as much as we could at each place. It is way too much to put in to 1 blog so I'll make about 4 or so over the next week if I can stay on top o f it. From Phuket, Thailand, we took a flight over to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Before doing so we shipped home all 4 suitcases and picked up backpacks to travel with for the rest of the trip, I EVEN SHIPPED HOME a laptop, which meant I wasn't going to play poker for 1 whole month when I haven't taken off over 10 days straight ever since I began playing. It was well worth it and I'll be getting back to the grind shortly.

Chiang Mai was a change of pace from the everyday quiet and fun beach life we were living at the time in Phuket. Chiang Mai is a nice small city with a lot to see. It doesn't have your large building like a Bangkok would. It was a nice place to see some sights and relax for some cheap drinks, here are some photos.

Upon arriving in the airport

The night market

Laurie and I at Phuping Palace where the King and Queen of Thailand live during the winter

The fountain of celestial water of people from the Queen

The 300 some odd steps to the top of Wat Doi Suthep, a famous temple near the King's Palace

Laurie and I with a monk, he told us to make sure we didn't touch him

The view from Wat Doi Suthep

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Leaving Kata, Phuket, Thailand - Part 1

Our trip has ended in Kata, Phuket. Laurie and I have flown to Chiang Mai, the northern capital of Thailand, and are here another few nights. We really enjoyed it, our stay was a 5-star resort, with really good food and a nice pool/workout area. Here are some pictures from the stay. I will post 2 more series of pictures from Kata in following blogs.

View from our pool

View from our apartment

View from hotel lobby
Views from 1-year anniversary dinner

For those who call me P-Fresh at the tables when I'm taking their monies

Cocktails and beer

Big Buddha - 147 foot high statue the monks had built, can be seen from all over Phuket, it was truly massive

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Money Management

This blog is more tailored towards my poker buddies, but you may be able to find applications as it applies to your lives elsewhere too. Having a good chunk of money as a 'kid' is an interesting spot to be in. While not many people make a great source of income out of poker, many of the few that do cannot hold on to it long enough to get full satisfaction from it. People will read my blogs on traveling and such, or see my facebook status, and just assume that I blow through my money and am reckless with it at times. This could not be further from the truth, I recognize that poker games are much worse these days, and so less money can be made from them. I have enjoyed all the freedoms working for myself have brought me so I intend to be smart with my money so that I do not have to work for someone else.

That being said, I do enjoy my money and ensure that I use it to have a great time. Even right now, while I am staying at a 5-star resort for this month in Thailand, I have budgeted for my next huge trip over the course of 3 weeks. While it was rather expensive to book flights everywhere, I do not plan to be put up at the most expensive of places. I budgeted and thus we are staying at some hostels as well as some hotels. We did some good research and are trying to keep it in a certain price range while still having a great time. If anyone seeks any financial advice you can post here and I can let you know how I have everything structured as of right now. My investments right now at 24 years old are as follows:

Minor owner of a health chain restaurant: Muscle Maker Grill

Part owner of a rental property in St. Augustine, FL

Maxed out Roth or Traditional IRA for 3 years now

Full contributions to SEP IRA yearly now (self-employed retirement fund, comparable to 401k for a company)

Liquid cash: 40% in stock market, brother who is a CFA helps with figuring out my long term and short term goals to help allocate the money, 30% for online bankroll for poker, 30% in bank accounts to cover anything that comes up, have a good time, and also for when I purchase a house as a partial down payment or decide to start a business.

There is a lot I am forgetting and many more options. For poker players, a bunch go broke because they go out and blow it all, not realizing they are only getting temporary satisfaction, and making it so they will not have secure futures. Countless others venture into the business world spotting people too much of their capital without truly realizing the scope of their business and its downsides. Hope this helps at least one person, I know for a few years I was pretty clueless what to do with my money, and had it sitting dormant in bank accounts.

Friday, June 18, 2010

World Travels

Originally I had planned to stay in Thailand with Laurie for 2-5 months. As is the case with me though, I quickly alter my plans often staying in the moment. We love the Thai people and the 5-star resort we are staying in. However, we have decided that while we are half way around the world, we might as well see more. So after this month, we are leaving Thailand to embark on a journey that will take course over a little less than a month, here are some pictures of places we are going. Of course I will post as many pictures as I can. I had a crappy camera because I accidentally lose and break things alot, but since the sites are so amazing I have a new camera being shipped to me better capture our surroundings. Before I get started with the pictures I'd like to thank all the fish who have deposited to my travel fund through out my poker career.

Chang Mai, Thailand
The Wat Chiang Ruins

Bangkok, Thailand
The Marble Temple

The city during the day

The city at night time

Phnom Phen, Cambodia
Angkor Ruins, perhaps the largest ancient city in the world

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Their City

Bali, Indonesia
Bali is known for their beautiful oceans

And the views you can get at sunset

Melbourne, Australia
Some of their architecture

Their city

Sydney, Australia
The Opera House

Honolulu, Hawaii
The Coastline

Up there with the beaches I have been to

After this, I will sadly be going back to New Jersey, then most likely moving to Florida