This News Just in: People Are Quite Nice!

It turns out that my scheme to find a way to volunteer in the Philippines wasn’t that far-fetched after all. I’ve received donations from 11 super nice people! I think I’m actually more excited about how nice folks are than the trip itself. Anyway, I leave on Wednesday!

I had asked anyone making a donation to have a corresponding request so I felt like less of a freeloader. Many people had no request at all, but a few did. I got off the hook quite easily though. Here’s my task list:

  • Several postcards for various people
  • A few want photos of the work and my suffering. This one never gets old.
  • A small local piece of art, craft or handiwork.
  • An item off the ground. Not trash though.
  • Some local online contractor research.

Well, thank you very much to all you donators! I very much appreciate your help, and I’ll do my damnedest to get you your moneys worth out of this three weeks. I’ll post some updates here, and you should also check out the project and follow along on the All Hands site. Thanks!


// Shawn

Help Me Help You to Help Someone Else in the Philippines!

I’m pretty damn excited right now. I just cashed in my air miles and booked a flight to Cagayan de Oro, Philippines to do some disaster response volunteering. It’s been nearly two months since the typhoon flooding hit Mindanao, so here’s a short BBC clip for memory refreshing.

The catch here, and where you become involved, is that I can’t actually afford to go do this. What I’d like to do is offer my services to you in order to help me raise the money I need. Here’s the scenario and what I hope I can offer.

The Problem: I am planning to be volunteering in the Philippines for 3 weeks in March (3/2 – 3/20) with All Hands Volunteers (the same group I went to Haiti with!). A really short time unfortunately. The catch is that I’m also coincidentally unemployed as of the end of February. So I have no income with which to fund this. Granted, this should mean I don’t go. I figure though that I now have the spare time. And air miles covers the vast majority of the expense. Plus, it’s not like the thousands of people made homeless by the flooding are terribly convenienced by it all either. If I can cover the remaining expenses, then get some work as soon as I get home, I can pull this off. I’m totally up for the challenge if you are. By my math, I need about $600 to bridge the gap. This is for airline tariffs, taxes, medical insurance fees, and ferry tickets. All the unavoidable junk.

My Offer: While in the Philippines, I am offering to meet any request you have. Maybe you want to know something about the area, people, local food, etc? Maybe you just want a postcard? Or a picture of a cat? A poem about rice? I don’t care what it is really. I don’t like just asking for money for free, so I prefer to offer something in exchange. Whatever you think is a fair exchange for your donation. While I’m there I’ll also be working my ass off clearing mud out of houses, demolishing ruined houses and hopefully constructing some new ones.

You! Can simply chip in to make this thing work out and make a request. Most people seem to prefer PayPal, but if you don’t then just email me and we’ll figure something out. Any amount you want to give is fantastic! I’ll post lots of pics and info here of course. Plus any requests I get will be posted here. Any questions? Just ask! Please make sure to give me your email address with your request so I can let you know when it’s posted or ask follow up questions. Donate some money via PayPal here!

Thank you all very much! This idea of asking other people to help me go help some other people feels a bit awkward to me. I’m pretty excited to make it work though. Thanks!


// Shawn

Horror Movies Make Me Travel. Sort of.

I really like horror movies. And I really like to travel. And I think the two are related. Or more specifically, the enjoyment of each comes from a similar source.

When people ask me why I like horror movies or traveling I respond with such informative feedback as, “It’s cool and junk” but there’s perhaps a smidge more to it than that. There is a common element between the two for me, which I hadn’t considered until now. And no, the common element is not screaming people or giant bats. Well, maybe yea, it is those things too, but that’s not my point here. Bear with me here and tell me if my logic sounds legit.

Continue reading “Horror Movies Make Me Travel. Sort of.”

Can A Kindle Replace Travel Guide Books? Part 2 of 2

KindleIt’s time for part 2 of my look at whether a Kindle can replace travel guide books or not. Part 1 from December ’09 is here. I’ve received some excellent questions, plus there are some really interesting feature improvements in the past year. We also need to consider new readers, technology and options on the market now. My choice for a guide book replacement today is much different than what I would have chose a year ago, and may not be at all what you expect. Let’s take a look at how the Kindle worked, and what I would choose to replace good old guide books today. With the Google eBookstore on the market our choices look much different now. Continue reading “Can A Kindle Replace Travel Guide Books? Part 2 of 2”

What if… there were traveler super powers?!

Yep, traveling super powers. It’s a slow news day, ok? Do you have some super powers that are key for traveling? Wish you had some? Or maybe just know someone who has some? It’s going too far if you know someone who wishes they had some. I mean seriously now, we can only stretch this junk so far.

Over the years, I’ve learned that I have some exceptional skills. Some may seem negative at first, but as countless legitimate comic books have shown us, even crappy powers have their useful situations. And yea, one would definitely think that some powers would cancel one another out. Go figure. That said, here are my traveling super powers. Plus a few I just wish I had. Do you have any of these? Continue reading “What if… there were traveler super powers?!”

Bangkok Shopping Tips

Bangkok is a shopping mecca. The city’s skyline is dotted with multilevel shopping megaplexes that offer a full spectrum of products and services. From fashion stores, book shops, lifestyle goods and electronics, shoppers will find everything they need when they indulge in some Bangkok retail therapy. But the air-conditioned and modern shopping malls are only one element of the shopping experience. The city’s bustling street markets also showcase the diversity and vivacity of Bangkok life, and offer a range of products at very low prices. It’s also a great way to experience local culture. Continue reading “Bangkok Shopping Tips”

10 Practical Tips For Visiting Reykjavik

This sadly isn’t a tale of Icelandic adventure and romance. As cool as that would be. No, this is practical info that will be interesting for folks who have an upcoming trip to Reykjavik. Which, when you think about it, is necessary for making Icelandic tales of romance and adventure happen, right? Here are a few items that might be nice to know before you arrive in Reykjavik. And for kicks, I put a little album of photos from my recent visit to Iceland at the bottom. Ísland er dásamlegt land! Continue reading “10 Practical Tips For Visiting Reykjavik”

Hostel Review: Capital Inn, Reykjavik, Iceland

I spent a full week at the Capital Inn in Reykjavik, so I feel qualified to give you some info on it. I’ve tried to break things down into categories that I find important in a hostel. Such as Cleanliness, Comfort, Convenience, Community and Crime. Crime would have just been called Safety, but the allure of a five word alliterative list was too strong.

Here are my opinions on those 5 C’s, plus some other bits of questionably relevant info on the Central Inn in Reykjavik. If you happen to have stayed here also, it would be great to hear your opinion in the comments. Continue reading “Hostel Review: Capital Inn, Reykjavik, Iceland”

This One Time, In Reykjavik, Yoko Ono Tried To Murder Me!

This is the predominantly factual story of how I was very nearly murdered to death, in Reykjavik, by Yoko Ono. I would consider this a cautionary tale for anyone who doesn’t personally know Yoko, or for anyone who occasionally enjoys going outdoors. Or I guess both of those types of people, but I can’t imagine such a person. Continue reading “This One Time, In Reykjavik, Yoko Ono Tried To Murder Me!”

Why I Won’t Go To China (AKA Scapegoat Ethics)

China and I are not cool. Or more accurately, China is the current scapegoat for my travel conscience. I firmly believe that how I spend my money needs to try and match my ethical standards. Really, the only feedback you have into products or places is your money. No corporation or government goes on to Facebook and randomly checks how many members the anti-whoever groups have. Why would they care? The only statistic they want or need to know is money. All of the rhetoric and slogans in the world are barely a murmur compared to the sound of cash. So when you choose to travel to a country, you contribute your money to their community and government, and in turn you’re endorsing them and their policies. That is why I will not visit China — I strongly disagree with the Chinese government’s policies and tactics and will not support them with my hard earned money. Things are always a bit more complicated though, aren’t they? Continue reading “Why I Won’t Go To China (AKA Scapegoat Ethics)”

Postcards Are The New Black… Again. Get Some!

The original purpose of postcards has obviously been long since antiquated by Facebook, Skype, Foursquare and of course email. However, there’s definitely still plenty of great reasons to stick with this old traveling tradition. As a born again postcard sender, I’ve compiled a glorious list bemoaning the questionable benefits of sending and receiving postcards.
Continue reading “Postcards Are The New Black… Again. Get Some!”