Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Oregon Trail

I made it up to Oregon. On the first day, I checked out the dunes on the coast. It was a welcome relief from the heat of the desert between Reno and Eugene (110). Eugene is much smaller than I had expected, but the University campus is really nice. My interview went great (I think) and I am looking forward to hearing back about it. After the interview, I drove up to Portland. I really like the vibe of this city. Only 60 miles from the coast, 60 miles from Hood River (windsurfing/kiteboarding mecca), 60 miles from Mt. Hood (snowboarding), and 2.5 hours from Seattle. I camped out on Mt. Hood last night and had the best night of sleep since I left on this trip.

Also, I think I came up with the winning idea for the boat parade. Its offensive, but on a different level and I think we can actually pull it off pretty easily.

Cowboys vs. Indians
People on leisure island in cowboy hats and supplied with firecrackers. Canoe tied to the back of Leisure Island with two people dressed as indians. Of course, we are all in speedos.

Well, I am in downtown Portland right now having a coffee to prepare for the drive up to Seattle. I am visiting my friend Kit and I am really excited to see the city. I have heard so many good things about it.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

On the road again

Mormons are a strange bunch. I saw several of them in Thailand and now on my drive through California I run across this strange gate. The mountain road I was on completely ended where this gate stood. Another larger gate was connected to this one: Lockhead Martin. As I stood there, two deer trotted across the Lockhead Martin parking lot...seemingly abandoned office building in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. I challenge my friends at work to search the internet (you know you've got the time) and find me some sort of connection....

Backpacking in the Big Basin Redwoods National Park. Santa Cruz is a great city...

I made it back to the states. Spent a night in Tapanga Canyon, near Malibu, with my friend that was taking car of my car while I was gone. Her parents made us a great dinner and I took off in the morning up the coast. I stopped in Santa Cruz, which is a great little city and then hit up a nearby redwood national forest for camping. The only sight left was a 6 mile hike in and I started it at 7:30pm (oops), then hit the trail at sunrise to get back out to my car. It was great fun! Oh, and I also ran out of water and literally had to drink from a stream on the hike out this morning. Then, I saddled up the Golf over the Donner Pass onto Reno. I'm staying with family and was able to see my grandma tonight. She was in good spirits and still has biting sarcasm at nearly 85. I am exhausted and need some sleep for the next leg of the trip up to Oregon in the morning.

I will post pics when I get some wi-fi. Until then you should check out my dutch friend's photos from Japan:

I plan on hanging out in Oregon for a few days and then heading back to MN for the 4th of July Boat Parade. We still don't have a winning theme, so send us some suggestions.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hong Kong

"...I mean whats the worst that could happen" is the exact thought that I had going through my head as I boarded the plane for Hong Kong. I figured, only 2.5 days in Hong Kong and then I am back in the states. At this point I am very tired and just ready to get back. Well, whats the worst that could happen: your backpack doesn't show up in Hong Kong. I'd say thats on the edge of the worst that could happen. Anyway, it probably got sent to LAX already and I will just have to deal with it.

Now I go wander around Hong Kong and try to find a bed for the least I brought my ipod charger.

Update: I found a cheap hostel and I have walked all over the city this evening. My first impression is that I am not very fond of this place. Its identical to NYC. I'll try to hit up all of the tourist spots tomorrow and then I am already out of here the next morning.

Another Update (Hong Kong doesn't deserve two posts): I made my way all over the city today and sweat like Paul Dennis at a Falafel King Buffet (which he refers to as ”greasin”).  That doesn’t bode well for the 4 day on the same clothes and the fact that I have been greasin' for all 4 of those days. Anyway, backpack has been located and they are keeping it for me at the airport. The place I was staying was so, so sketchy that I didn’t trust my baggage being delivered.  My flight leaves early in the morning, too early to catch the bus, so I am going to spend the night at the airport. This also enables me to get some clean clothes and wash myself in a drinking fountain or something. haha

Sunday, June 18, 2006

You wan masaaaaaage

Ah, exhausted from the 3 day trek. It was fantastic, we stayed in a Karen Village and at a Waterfall in these little grass huts that they villagers live in. It was great to get out of the city and away from everything. There were a strange mix of about a dozen people on the trip. A group of Korean girls that spent the majority of the time wiping themselves with little towels (they don't like to sweat in their culture, apparently?). Then, in the evenings they would spend hours washing their clothes and applying makeup, it was one of the strangest things I have seen on the trip. They made the OCD guy from Double Dare look normal. Obviously, there were 3 Israelis on the trip...don't they have some sort of land dispute going to take care of and not be hanging out in Thailand? Maybe, I'm wrong? If you didn't notice, this is the part of the blog where I rant about stuff, I've been in the jungle for 3 days, give me a break....also, on the trip was a group of 5 british girls who talked incessantly, about nothing. On the ride back to the city, they had resorted to describing drawings they made in Pre-School. Ok, I'm done. Anyway, the trip was amazing and probably contained some of my favorite moments from the trip. It made me think about doing a longer Eco-Trek sort of thing on my next adventure. Its great, the guide explains the culture and you harvest your lunch/dinner from the jungle while you are hiking.

GREAT NEWS! I made it to the Second Round of the Application process for a City Planning job in Oregon. It is a job for a year and then onto grad school at Portland State. So, I need to figure out how I am going to drive up there from LA when I return to the states....

Thursday, June 15, 2006


I made it up to Chiang Mai today and I really like it up here. Its much smaller than Bangkok and full of history. I was able to see quite a few temples on foot this afternoon. Tommorow, I am headed on an Eco-Trek for 3 days into the mountains. We will be staying with some hill tribes and I think one of the tribes that does the "stretched-out neck ring thing" (yah, i'm really informed). I feel quite rejuvenated since getting off of the island, the people here are much more chill and into actually experiencing the culture instead of listening to their shitty dance music and wearing men's capri pants. On a side note, sorry to bother everyone with my digestive problems, but it seemed very important at the time. ha Also, I purchased a Norman Mailer book today, so I don't need to fake interest in Soccer to make friends anymore.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Snorkels, Kayaks and Planes

I am leaving the island, maybe from the pictures it looks like paradise, but I am currently bored out of my mind. After seeing all ends of the island, its time to go. Maybe I sound like I am in a bad mood, its because I am, I have a poopie baht (this is funny, cause the thai currency is baht, for those in the know). Some wack green curry has quarantined me to my bungalow for the day. Tomorrow morning I am headed on a sea kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking trip to the National Marine Park. Its a group of 40 islands and I am stoked. After the kayaking, I am hopping a plane to Bangkok, spending the night at the cockroach hostel, and then catching a flight up to Chiang Mai. It is the ancient capital of Thailand and is up in the mountains. A change of scenery will be nice and moving back to hostels will be nice. I won't feel like the hermit in bungalow #7 anymore. Wish me luck in returning to my regular digestive state, otherwise it could make for an interesting day of sea kayaking.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Shants, Trance and Ladyboys

Its the day after the full moon party and I am a bit tired. It was a crazy scene, something like 10,000 people all on one big beach for a party. I wish I would have taken some pictures, but I ended up with one blurry picture of Mellow Mountain, which was appropriate for the night. It was the biggest drug scene I have ever been around. I guess that is what its known for, but there is no way to really prepare yourself for it. So many spaced out people staring off at the ocean. The island was teaming with brits and Europeans...and they brought their shants and electronic dance music with them. Finally, I managed to make some new friends at my bungalows, so it was nice to have some people to hang out with. We all stuck to the drink buckets, which consisted of red bull and vodka. The strangest part of the night was when I got attacked, I mean attacked by a Thai Ladyboy. Needless to say, the people watching was fantastic and we made it back to our bungalows on a sketchy tuk-tuk just as the sun came up. Actually, on the ride home the tuk-tuk driver got pissed at some drunken brits and pulled some thai boxing on their asses! Overall, it was a really strange and fun evening.

Friday, June 09, 2006

What day is it?

Every day is really long here. I am not doing much besides the occasional hike or dip in the ocean. Its nice, however its still been really hard to meet people. Its all Israeli Hippies and they are in large there like a discount airline to here that I don't know about?? Sean, can you fill me in on this? haha

I added some pics to the entries below.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Turns out there is Heaven on Earth

View from a hammock.
View from my bungalow.
I went on a 4 mile hike and saw one other person the entire time. This beach was amazing!

Well, I made it to the island. It was a long miserable trip, but it was definitely worth it! This place could not be anymore beautiful and its all really cheap. I am staying in a great little bungalow right on the edge of the beach and my "resort" has a big bar and restraint overlooking the ocean. Blue water and white sand....damn I wish I was doing some reinsurance right now. haha There are some down sides, its all tourists and its seems like I am the only solo traveler here. Everyone else is in big groups or couples. Plus it seems there is a game amongst "travelers" in which they just want to one-up everyone with the remote area/beach that they've been to. They all speak at eachother and no one listens. Which has brought something to my attention: there is a difference between traveling and vacationing. I feel that coming the island has turned me into a vacationer, which is fine, but I kinda miss the grittiness of the city or the confusion of Japan, however I am SO relaxed. It reminds me of the movie Bottle Rocket, when he says "i woke up one morning, i couldn't decide if i wanted to go waterskiing or not...then i thought, i don't ever want to have to decide about another watersport again in my life...." you get the point, i think? My internet is hit or miss i'll upload pics if i get a chance.

2 days Too Many in Bangkok

Crowded Markets.

Bangkok is a super dirty city. Its completely unorganized, I guess I was spoiled by Tokyo. It is super cheap though and the food is delicious. I ate every kind of thai food from street vendors, at about 50cents a meal, my $ could go a long ways in Bangkok. The prostitution in Bangkok is horrendous, I didn't think that it would bother me, but its in your face all day, every day. All of these dirty old white guys walking around with really young thai girls in the markets during the day and go-go bars in which there are 40 thai girls sitting around, when you walk in as a westerner...they start going nuts. You may ask, "this sounds fun?" It isn't, I find it really depressing.

Then, I hopped a 14 hour overnight bus and 4 hour ferry to the islands!

Monday, June 05, 2006

After my long day of travel, I arrived at my new home at 2am. I met a bunch of cool people on the airplane ride and was in a great mood by the time I arrived in Bangkok. The homesickness was erased by the excitement of a new city. The place I am staying is a complete dump in US standards but average in Thai standards it seems, but for $5 usd, what do you expect. In my 6 bed, hostel room I was awakened in the middle of the night by a cockroach on my pillow! The next 10 minutes where a hilarious battle of travel-weary Nick vs. Bangkok cockroach. In the end, I won, but that damn cockroach certainly intruded on my dreams (i had a year's worth of nightmares in one night). However, I ended up having the best day of the trip so far! After wondering down many of the crowded markets, I met a native Thai (now living in Australia) whom showed me around the city. It was great, I'm sure I got a much different view of the city than the average tourist. He was once a buddhist monk and gave me a tour of many of the local temples/shrines. By tuk-tuk and boat, we weaved our way through the city. Tonight, I am headed to Kho Shan Road, which is known as the place for backpackers to meetup. Then, I am on to Kho Phang Nan tomorrow by overnight bus and ferry. It is an island, that will be much more touristy than my experience today, but I am ready for some relaxing. I have planned it so I will be there for a Full Moon Party....good times. Wish me luck!!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Planes, trains and escalators

Kraemer Roll-Offs Temple.
Cemetery.My new dutch friend.
Me, hungover at the Golden Temple. Zen Rock Garden.

n and I have some great pictures that I'm not able to post from this computer. I hiked around the city and saw a bunch of the famous temples and gardens, several World Heritage Sites. Then, I met a crazy dutch guy staying only a few mats down at the guest house. We went out on the town in Kyoto thinking there wouldn't be much going on, but with a population of 1.2 million, we were proven wrong. It was nice being able to speak english with someone and he was at the same kind of point in his life (trying to figure shit out). One too many sakis lead to a late start the next morning. I checked out the Golden Temple, probably the most recognized, a killer zen rock garden and then caught a train to Tottori to visit a friend from college. It was great hanging out with my buddy, he has been teaching japanese for 3 years and is headed back to the states in July. He is going to Harvard for a Masters/PHD in Asian Religious Studies, not bad. Anyway, he lives on the other side of the country from the airport and I have had a horrendous day of travel: two hours on a commuter train, 4 hours on the bullet train, one hour on the subway, and now boarding a plane for 6 hours to Bangkok. I am really stoked to get into Bangkok. The plan is to chill (if thats possible in bangkok) for a couple days and setup some travel to the beaches. I have alot of mixed feelings about Japan, that I don't have time/energy to explain right now, but its a country of contrast. Just when you think you have it figured out, you are slapped upside the head with something completely different. All of the travel, has me feeling a bit homesick today and at the same time I feel really lucky to be able to have an experience like this...

Friday, June 02, 2006


Well, my internet sucks here in Kyoto, so this will be short. I took the bullet train and it was a pretty ride...mixed with ugly industrial cities. Kyoto is a much smaller city, but full of history. I am excited to explore. Also, I am staying in a traditional guest house type thing. Mats on the floor with 10 other people in the room, in other words, Nick needs to either drop some Tylenol PM or several Sapporos before bedtime.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

We are living in the future

Last night, I hit up the Shinjuku district where the "nightlife" exists and it was cRazy. There are over 2 million people passing through that area everyday, so in true Japanese style it's filled with lights and noises. Also, its filled with drunken businessman and prostitutes. I got harassed the entire time I was there. By the end of the evening, I was really tired and ended up getting lost. Eventually I found my way and had to take a different subway back. Well, unknown to me the f'in subway shuts down at midnight! So, I was stuck walking nearly 4 miles back to my hostel. Now, 4 miles Tokyo is a long, long way. By the time I got back at 2:30am, I was not in the best of moods.

I spent most of the morning in bed, sleeping off the disaster of an evening. Then, I decided that I would do the special Nick Kraemer Super Happy Fun Time sight seeing tour of Tokyo Bay. First, I checked out the fish market, which was enormous, but not at all exciting. Tokyo Bay is home to many of the superskyscrapers in which people live/work/eat etc etc. I had lunch at the Shiodome, which is one of the largest of these superskyscrapers. Then I hit up the new rail line that takes you to the coney island of tokyo. Shiodome.

Rainbow Bridge

Then onto the Fuji TV building. It was the strangest building I have ever, ever seen. At first, I thought it was beautiful, but after awhile I wasn't a fan. While sitting outside the building enjoying the breeze off of the ocean and listening to some John Prine, a group of 10 school girls came up to me and wanted a picture with me. It made my day, they were squealing and making all of these weird was quite funny to have John Prine in the background on my headphones during all of it!

Tonight, I am going to get a bunch of beers at the local store and chill at the hostel to save up energy for tomorrow. I am headed to Kyoto for the next couple days, to check out some temples and onsen (hot springs). Finally, I got a hold of my friend, Ethan, who has been living in Japan since we graduated, however he lives on the other side of Japan (near osaka), so it might be tough to meetup. I am excited about the possibility of having someone who speaks Japanese show me around, because it seems that NO ONE here speaks any English. Many of my days are spent in silence or with my Ipod rockin' (btw-do yourself a favor and get the new Walkmen album)