Travelogue Days 2-4: Grand London Walking Tour

london walking tourWhat’s it like to walk from the edge of Shepherd’s Bush on London’s far West end, all the way to Waterloo St around Southwark? The answer is very hard on the old feet. This personally invented London walking tour concluded with going back up the edge of the Thames, across Westminster bridge and finally to a SoHo underground station, reaching a total of around 9 miles of walking.

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Travelogue Day 1 – London New Years

london new yearsThe first day of international travel is almost always a rough patch for me. Without fail, I get sick. This time was no exception, as I finally caught the cold going around (the one that lasts days and makes you feel super sluggish). Couple this with very little sleep, the sudden timezone change, and a LOT of walking after I finally landed in the middle of the London new years, and I was the walking dead.

Taking the train to west London, I immediately realized it was bitter cold. My leather jacket wasn’t enough, and I had to fish for my gloves and scarf. Without a proper internet connection, I began searching for a Starbucks to get on Google Maps and get my bearings (next time, I should prepare more thoroughly). Slowly, I mapped out a walking route to the hostel. The 1.4 mile distance felt monumental given my sickness and tiredness. However, I was not ready to pay a fortune for a London taxi.

I arrived at the Monkey in the Trees Hostel, which is in an area near the borough of Hammersmith, near a very old market (Shepherd’s Bush Market). The hostel is actually part of a pub called The Greyhound. The pub is on the bottom floor, and upstairs are the bunk beds.

Unlike “pubs” in the West, many pubs in England seem more like family locations, and during the early evening the pub / hostel is swamped by families with their kids running around, while mom and dad drink pints.

I met with two wonderful Chilean women, Esi and Ninia. We immediately clicked and spent the evening together, making it to Leicester Square, which is the closest available place to watch New Years fireworks without having to pay a monumental ticket price. We arrived via the “tube” railway. A costly but effective mass transit system ($6.00 or so per one-way ticket).

Esi and Nenia met up with almost a dozen other Chileans who they had encountered the night before quite randomly. This left me feeling slightly awkward, as I don’t speak Spanish. And, by around 1 AM I wanted nothing more than to pass out.

We ended up in a Mexican restaurant. I was not that interested given that I was born and raised in the American Southwest, and it was about US $8.00 just to enter the place.

I needed a strategy to wake myself up, so I took a small shot of hot sauce. The others thought I was crazy, but it cut back my cold symptoms and gave me a second wind of energy.

Now with more energy, I managed to get a lot of exciting shots of different streets in the early hours, including Chinatown and it’s huge hanging orange lamp / orb.

Ended up having a lot of fun. I have yet to meet a single Londoner who does NOT have a sense of humor. This makes meeting random strangers both very fun and easy.

Returned at 5 AM. Despite everything I’d been through, I could only sleep 3 hours (maybe because of my cold). I woke up and had the complimentary breakfast, and then got to work on my computer. Around noon, the real tiredness set in. I returned to my room and passed out for five hours.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings

london new years

 

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Sibiu among the top cities with the most beautiful Christmas markets in the world

Reposting this from the Romanian travel blog “DraculasCastle.info”. Gotta add Romania to my bucket list (note: my bucket list never goes unfulfilled for more than a couple of years at a time).

Christmas Market, Sibiu, Sibiu County, Transylvania, Romania Sibiu was included on a list of cities with the most beautiful Christmas markets in the world. In a related article , Spanish newspaper El Mundo recommend seven cities around the world worth…

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I’ve been writing Kindle ebooks all year. Soon I begin my next round of adventures.

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Hello readers,

Clearly, my updates on this site have been less frequent as of late. As there’s only so much time in one day, I find most of my days are spent either creating new Kindle ebooks, or working in other business areas. In fact, truly, this whole year has been a period of my life dedicated to work, launching entrepreneurial projects, and trying to maintain some semblance of consistency in regard to things like sales. The reason is because at the end of this year, now merely two months away, I’ll begin the next fairly long expedition.

Here are some plans for this trip, in what is my current (final) itinerary:

Dec. 30th-8th: Depart to England, stay with some friends out there until around the 7th. Enjoy New Years in London.

Jan 8th-14th: Catch a flight to (ridiculously expensive) Zurich, Switzerland. Head to the Lifestyle Design Convention, with my VIP ticket where I’ll be having dinner with Steve Pavlina and other marketing and blogging leaders. When the conference is done, drink hot chocolate on a mountain somewhere. Bonus if I meet a beautiful Swiss girl with pigtails.

Jan1 14th-28th: Fly from Switzerland to Istanbul, Turkey. Two weeks in a youth hostel. Food blog Turkish cuisine. Explore Constantinople, as it was once known. Post photos to this website.

Jan 28th-Feb 14th: Spend remainder in Turkey going across the Nicean coast, making it to Antalya and Fethiye, both ancient world coast towns. In Fethiye, there are sarcophagi built into the edges of the mountains. Chronicle some of these lost civilizations, post them to my website.

Feb 15th: Somehow get back to Istanbul, take a flight to Zagreb, Croatia

Feb 15th-March 15th: Spend a month in Zagreb, being around good natured central European folks, enjoying the low cost of life in Zagreb, plus it’s famous party scene

March 15th – April 15th: This will be time spent in either Zagreb or Dubrovnik, “a stunningly intact” walled medieval coastal city. The weather will finally start to thaw from the long, cold winter–and tourists from around Europe and Russia will be flocking to Dubrovnik.

April 15th – July 15th: The rest of my time in Prague, enjoying spring and summer in this famous and beautiful city.

July 15th: Either return to the USA depending on family reasons and / or business reasons (have I amassed 10k in credit card debt, or am I fully self sufficient? that’ll be a big factor), or take a flight to India to begin the next half. In that case, I’d be going from India through back to Thailand, landing then in Japan for autumn, and likely beginning the new year in Hong Kong or Shanghai.

When the exploration renews, I’ll be keeping everyone updated here at CyrusKirkpatrick.com. So if you’re interested in seeing what I hope to be photos of some awesome places, then be sure to check in around that time. With any luck, I’ll plan to chronicle my adventures one day at a time for the length of the trip.

See you soon, in fact — if you happen to have a place to crash in England, Switzerland, Turkey, Croatia or Czech Republic… Let me know and maybe I’ll literally see you soon ūüėČ

– CK

Why Life as a Travel Blogger is Sometimes a Bad Idea

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Life as a travel blogger must be ideal, right?  Live anywhere, enjoy the blue skies, work on your laptop, make some updates to your site, get paid, and then get back to surfing.

Sounds amazing in theory. However, blogging is no picnic (something I make clear in my book, How to Actually Make Money Blogging). I’ve run several blogs before, and a highly functional operation can be VERY profitable, but there are some big downsides, as well.

I highly suggest reading this post to its entirety if you want to learn what the lifestyle of a travel blogger is *really* like — and why I personally think blogging is not always the best option for obtaining a mobile, freedom oriented business.

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North Korea Photos: Living and Working in the Urban Centers

These North Korea photos were taken around April, 2013. Those in urban city centers enjoy a higher standard of living than others. Most go home to large residential developments and condominiums; often with limited water and electricity, with several family members to each room. North Koreans often work six days per week. The meandering tourism industry (primarily from China) represents many urban jobs in hospitality, as well as a constant need for civic short-term employment, such as construction and infrastructure. Markets exist in unvisited sectors of Pyongyang; where tourists have never been allowed to go. During a stay in a city like Pyongyang; you are required to be accompanied by a government approved guide at all hours, except when you are in your hotel. – Cyrus

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A new book! How to Make Money While Traveling

how to make money while traveling¬† ¬†EDIT: This book is currently an Amazon Best Seller in both the job hunting and adventure travel categories. It’s taken months of work but I’m finally a best selling author! — Hey everybody, I have a brand new book up this week. Below is my description from the Amazon.com page. Basically, I’m selling it dirt-cheap, and it’s about how to make money on the road and live to your full potential.¬†Continue Reading

On Interacting With North Koreans

Kaesong

Unfortunately, going into North Korea sometimes yields the impression that you’re entering a giant theatrical display; and those who are not designated actors are off-limits.

However, this act of theater is actually very thin. If you happen to get a bad group of guides (it’s never happened to me), then you might find your access to the general public is off limits. However, by establishing trust with your supervisors and demonstrating that you’re not some kind of loose canon, you’ll find that you’ll suddenly be given permission to meet, greet, and hang out with various locals.

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Pyongyang, the City of Secrets

All photos were taken in April 2013 and are copyright to Cyrus Kirkpatrick, all rights reserved.

Click on any image to expand it

The spirit of Pyongyang (“city in the flat-land”) has endured for thousands of years, and despite being continually shattered by warfare, it always springs from the ashes in some unique way. The form the city has taken in the last century is perhaps the most peculiar in its 5000 year history; it is now a city of forbidden sights ‚Äď a showcase capitol of a socialist utopia that never quite achieved its promise. It is a city filled with lights, grandiose monuments, amazing breweries, high-quality restaurants, hard-working people, and dark secrets.

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Back to North Korea This Week

Next week I return to the mostly frigid conditions of Pyongyang and the regions around the infamous “Central City”. This trip is marked by political turmoil and what appears to be another extended winter, with freezing conditions at night and a chilled air in the daytime. Will the skies be gray and filled with a dwindled sense of hope after international sanctions, or will it be the same happy and bustling place I experienced during the jovial 100th anniversary festival last year?

My expectations lean toward the former. This is one of the more turbulent periods in the North’s history, and I don’t know if there’s going to be the same charm I experienced the first time around.

But what I am excited about is the opportunities that accompany this trip. A major focus for me is the creation of new media out of the country to further cast a light on the people of the North, and this can be done through film and photo. Challenges include the same issues I faced last time, namely working with limited production equipment and trying to edit together a video when it’s all finished. However, with new lenses and hopefully better audio equipment, I aim to make this project a bit higher quality.

(See last year’s North Korea Uncloaked: The Movie)

As usual, I am hearing a lot of negative feedback from friends and family, as North Korea is not your typical destination, and most wonder why I would choose to ‘vacation’ in such a place. The truth is that this is not a vacation. While I really enjoy being an adventurer, I am trying to do some type of work that I hope somewhere, somehow, pays off – whether through increasing awareness of the plight of North Koreans or perhaps even to eventually help fund an existing charity.

Personal, Mental Notes:

– Bring more backup camera batteries this time.

– Fill out my antibiotic prescription and take it with me. Last time I lucked out, but eating North Korean food can be a gamble. However, it’s still not as bad as Thai street food.

– Be thankful I can walk. I broke my leg almost 5 months ago now. It’s still harder to walk up stairs and do certain movements, but I am mostly healed.

– If I can find a second digital polaroid between now and tomorrow, that’d be great. Jordan’s was a big hit last time, and it’s needed to help lighten the mood, especially if I am trying to take portrait style pictures of locals.

– Keep some pictures on my cam from Arizona to show my guide and others who have maybe never seen / heard of saguaros before.

On the 6th of April I’ll be back in the USA, and I’ll begin the process of unloading all of the media produced from within the DPRK. Stay tuned.

 

My Eternal Thailand Summer

The humid, coastal / tropical conditions of the gulf of Thailand is beginning to get to me as I start to miss the lovely Arizona winter climate. Out here, it’s 85 fahrenheit every-day, and when I step outside my face drips with sweat.

But, I also realize I am on the swan song of my months in Thailand, and I’ll probably miss a lot about this country, including even the atrocious weather. I only have so much time left to make an impact with more cool photos and videos, while simultaneously I have to start thinking about my next job abroad and where¬†else I can¬†adventure¬†(aside from my return to North Korea at the end of March).

It’s hard to leave a country you’ve adapted to. To leave means I must say goodbye to my girlfriend who I’ve been with for months through various arduous trials. She was there when I broke my leg in November, and helped nurse me back to health. Today, as I walk normally after a surprisingly fast recovery, I cannot take for granted that a few months ago I thought I’d be leaving Thailand in a wheelchair.

I’ve had a lot of crazy experiences out here. From the awesome friends I made in Bangkok, to my not-so-awesome experiences at an office-based job that completely fell to pieces. I’ve dealt with crazy farangs (that is – crazy British expats), crazy bar girls, and crazy¬†Tuk Tuk¬†drivers. But, even the crazy stuff has helped define my experiences in a positive way.

From going deep into Isaan, to the giant Buddha art of Ko Chi Chang mountain, there’s a lot of sights to see in this place. But, to understand Thailand you have to look beyond the tourist nonsense that everyone is over-saturated with, and get to know the Thai people – whether through new friends, or maybe a new lover. The Thai people are enigmatic – lots of smiles, but most certainly a level of poverty that influences their behavior – sometimes in a very negative way. But, nobody is perfect, and it’s impossible to leave this country without a ton of new friends and family.

I never really thought much about Thailand before my opportunity with a travel company brought me here. Now, inevitably, I will return here. The low cost of living is a major draw, but my need to stay in-touch with new friends and surrogate family ensures my eventual return.

My last chapter involves going to Phi Phi island in the pristine Phuket region, one of the nicest places on Earth (which means it will be swarming with tourists). After that a final reminiscent week in Jomtien / Pattaya, then back to America.

My return to North Korea – Post Your Requests

Playing bumper cars with North Koreans

As some may know, I am returning to North Korea in just over six weeks from the date of this post.

It’s admittedly an unusual time to go, given their nuclear detonation this week. Some elements of the DPRK government remain completely outside the realm of logic and reason. I wonder how much the latest sanctions and provocation will affect their tourism industry.

That being said, aside from the strange political time to enter Pyongyang, this trip is going to be very interesting for a lot of reasons. The first reason is because we will be accompanied by a very well-known TV channel. That is all of the details I can disclose about this, but there’s going to be some very interesting material being produced about the country very soon, in particular during our trip.

The trip is also bound to be memorable as I am again going with famous dating coach Jordan Harbinger from The Art of Charm, and renown North Korean photographer Joseph Ferris from An American in North Korea. Odds are, it will be another crazy and eccentric good time.

Post Your Requests

All that being said, if you found this page from Reddit or elsewhere, I wanted to provide an opportunity for people to post requests (within reason) and I’ll see if I can fulfill some of them.

This may include pictures of specific things in the country, or how you’d like to see me interacting with locals.

For space reasons, I cannot make large purchases for you. But, if there’s a specific item like a North Korean magazine or one of their many souvenir books about their eccentric Juche philosophy, then contact me ahead of time at the below e-mail. I would need payment ahead of time to make the purchase after I am in North Korea, plus shipping after I return to America.

If you want North Korean shampoo, I may be able to smuggle one or two little bottles out of the Yangakkdo hotel for you. It’s surprisingly high quality.

I won’t be able to fulfill every request, but I can definitely handle a few. Don’t be angry if I can’t or am unable to complete a request.

You can reply to this comment to make a request, or find my post on the North Korea reddit page. Or you can e-mail me at Cyrus@cyruskirkpatrick.com.