My 10 Favorite Experiences

Posted: March 28, 2011    Categories: Travel

Me with kids in the Solomon IslandsThis the ninth installment in a series for my 4th Travelversay Celebration.

This was a very hard list to assemble. I’ll be honest, if I wrote this list on a different day, I might come up with a different order or maybe different experiences altogether.

I ended up picking a list of things which I remember vividly and had and impact on me at the time I did it.

There are a fair number of adventure activities as well as some which really on mean something to me.


10) Getting a Tattoo in Rarotonga

I sort of have to put this on the list because it is something I look at every day. Not only that, if you actually visit my website (as opposed to reading it in RSS) you’ll notice a little guy on top that is my logo. That little guy is called a tikitikitangata, and it is the Cook Island maori symbol for a man. It also happens to be permanently inked onto my arm. The entire tattoo is the story of my travels: The man by himself represents me, the birds represent travel, the mountains with birds represent far away places and the shark teeth represent a safe journey. Here is the video I took while getting my tattoo.

9) Being a Professional Underwater Photographer for a Day

In 2008 I was in Cairns, Australia when I ran into professional underwater photographer Peter Mooney. He runs an underwater photography store in Cairns and had a housing unit for my camera and lens and agreed to take me out on the Great Barrier Reef so I could experience doing real underwater photography for a day. It was much more difficult than I ever expected. I was glad I had the opportunity to try my hand at it and it is something I would love to do again.

Underwater Photography

8) Zip Lining in Puerto Rico

Prior to visiting Puerto Rico I had never been zip lining before and I had also never been rappelling before. I managed to do both in the same day. I also managed to ride the highest and second longest zip line in the world at the Toro Verde Adventure Park. Here is the video I took of the ride (I held my iPhone vertically and didn’t realize what I did until I was done)

7) Watching the Sunset in Hong Kong

This sounds like an innocent enough thing, but sitting in Kowloon, watching the sunset on Hong Kong and all the lights of the skyline turn on is something which has always stuck with me.

Hong Kong at night

6) Watching the Bat Exodus From Deer Cave

Deer Cave in Mulu National Park in Borneo is one of the largest single caverns in the world. It is also home to over 3,000,000 bats. It was raining most of the time I was there so the bats couldn’t go into the rainforest to feed. When the rains finally ended, all 3 million of them decided to leave the bat cave and head for the jungle. I spent over and hour with other travelers watching this endless river of bats in the sky heading out for the night to gorge on insects.

Bats in Deer Cave

5) Swimming With Whale Sharks

Unfortunately, I have no photos or video to show. I didn’t have an underwater camera with me to record what happened. Nonetheless, jumping in the water and staring at the world’s largest fish was something I will never forget. There are many places around the world where you can swim with whale sharks, but I did mine in Exmouth, Western Australia. Regardless if you are in the Philippines, Mexico, Belize or Australia, if you get the chance to swim with whale sharks (they are filter feeders and totally harmless) do it.

4) Bungee Jumping in Queenstown, NZ

The day I went bungee jumping it was only me and two small girls from India who were doing it because of the weather. They had you go in order of weight, so I had to go after the two little girls. There is no way you can chicken out after two little girls did it moments before you.

3) Swimming with great White Sharks

In October 2010 I visited Grootbos, South Africa and got to get in the water with Great White Sharks. It is a very…..unique…experience. You literally get in a cage while they chum some of the most shark infested water on the planet. The water is extremely cold so you have to wear a thick wet suit. In the video below, I am the person in the cage closest to the camera.

2) Photographing Political Protests in Bangkok

Protester in BangkokMost of the red shirt protests in Bangkok in 2010 took place pretty far away from where I was staying on Sukhumvit Soi 33. However, one day the protesters decided to pay a visit to the Prime Ministers house, which happened to be a block away from me on Soi 31. I picked up my camera headed out to see what I could do. Being a white guy with a fancy camera, no one really questioned what I was doing. I spent several hours between thousands of angry protesters and several hundred Bangkok police in full riot gear. I have to confess it was totally exhilarating experience. Not only was I right in the middle of a potential riot, but I was actually covering some real news.

1) Swimming With Jellyfish in Palau

I can’t describe what it is like to swim in the jellyfish lake. There is nothing like it in the world. It is ethereal and it is surreal. I spent so much time in the lake that the group I was with was yelling at me to get out of the water. I didn’t want to leave. If you want to have an idea of what it is like, check out the video I made.

Honorable Mention: Watching the blowholes in Samoa / Night time on Rennell Island / Finding a moon rock in the Solomon Islands / Camping in Wadi Rum / Diving the ruins of the Great Lighthouse of Alexandria / Watching a tree full of fire flies in Papua New Guinea / Experiencing the Holi Festival in Singapore / Songkran in Thailand / Almost getting trampled at the Taiwan National Day Celebration / Visiting Preah Vihear Temple

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