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Welcome to TRIPPED!
This travel series follows Tim and Allison Diemer as they embark on their….all right, we can't write in the third person anymore. TRIPPED is a peek into our one year round the world journey where we shoved cameras in each others faces the entire time. We wanted to record the good, the bad, and the reality of travel. What did we discover? High highs and low lows. For every white sand beach, there was a tour hawker screaming at you to buy a whale shark tour. For every sunset over the mountains, a cloud of sandfly vampires with bloodlust in their hearts.
There are experiences so crazy beautiful that a heavily filtered pic from Instagram would never do it justice. There are also experiences out there that are just crazy. Or scary. Or that you walk away from thinking “I hope I never do this specific thing in my life again”. Episode format? Fast and furious, but with less Diesel. Expect chuckles and adventure every week via slick edited and colorful commentary. Where are we going? Fasten your seatbelts and keep that tray in its upright position- we're going as many places as our budget will take us!
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There is an almost endless amount of things to do in Ao Nang- One of the most popular activities is going on an elephant trek. It’s hard to write this and even get into this description without addressing, well, the elephant in the room: Elephant treks are an activity that are a hotbed of debate.
Back to the fun part of all of this- washing a baby elephant in a river is probably the most fun anyone can have in their lifetime. I don’t know that there have been fifteen minutes in our lives where we’ve smiled harder. In all the laughing, it’s important to remember not to let the 1,000 lbs baby roll on you. The day was topped off with a visit to Huay Toh Waterfall in the nearby national park to cool down.
One of the best places to visit in Thailand has turned out to be Koh Lanta with a day trip to Koh Rok. While you may want to sit around and enjoy the food and beaches, don't miss the trip to Koh Rok Island for a snorkeling tour. After a great time on the Koh Rok tour, the Diemers say goodbye to Koh Lanta and to their ant infested apartment. (Yes, the ants were really bad. Allison ate them by mistake in the last episode. No, she doesn’t recommend it.) After saying goodbye to this little slice of Thai life, they take the ferry from Koh Lanta to Ao Nang to wait for the arrival of their friend from back home.
After a few days in Koh Lanta, Thailand, the Diemers find that you can only spend so many days lounging on the perfect beaches before ya get bored. To add a little bit of variety and actually do some good in the world, they decide to volunteer some time at Lanta Animal Welfare by walking a shelter dog for the afternoon. The first dog they attempt to walk is apparently unaware the Lanta Animal Welfare is the #1 TripAdvisor rated thing to do in Koh Lanta and would rather just stay in its kennel. Things only improve slightly from there. Later, Finney discovers that you should always look at food before shoving it into your gob, especially when your hotel room is filled with ants and you're eating in the dark. Finally, the Diemers head out to Maikaew cave. If you're unaware from earlier, Finneys favorite things in the world include beaches, hugs and yummy ice cream. Dark, claustrophobic caves filled with spiders are nowhere on that list. (Off camera, Tim lies to Finney and tells her they're going somewhere to pet a fluffy bunny.)
Having wrapped up the Singapore/Malaysia leg of the trip, The Diemers say goodbye to the Finneys and are finally off to Thailand. After a short stay in Krabi Town to get their bearings, they immediately book passage on an overcrowded Ao Nang ferry filled with frat bros trying to find themselves and head out to Koh Lanta. In Koh Lanta it’s finally time to kick back and relax after a few days of traveling to actually arrive on the island. The Diemers show off what sick accommodations $12 USD will get you in Koh Lanta if you’re traveling on a budget... just another $5 USD for a scooter!
After a day spent in Singapore enjoying the family reunion, the Diemers and the Finneys sail out of port on a Princess Cruise. The week long cruise will hit the destinations of Langkawi, Penang, and Kuala Lumpur. In Penang, the group explores Little India. Later, they head out of town to a temple that is of course closed ten minutes before they arrive. Promising to do a bit better at the next step, the Diemers hire a boat in Langkawi for a day spent island hopping on relaxing on different beaches. WIthout a bit of surprise, the highlight of the day is feeding random beach monkeys.
After a relatively short flight from Hanoi Vietnam to Singapore, the Diemers find themselves exchanging motorbikes and backroads for Ubers and skylines. The Diemers are in town to meet up with the Finneys before departing for a cruise out of the Singapore port and heading North to Malaysia. Never ones to waste a day, the group makes the most of their 48 hours with a hike in MacRitchie Reservoir, food in Chinatown, a Singapore Sling at Raffles, a nighttime walk through Gardens by the Bay, and capping off the day with a light show at Marina Bay Sands Fountain. Sidenote: Sawadee Thai Cuisine at Tan Quee Lan Street is home to one of the best meals eaten during the entire trip. This is coming from a couple people who usually could care less about food- The set menu was worth every penny-every dish that was brought out was better than the one before it and if you’re in Singapore looking for a place to eat, don’t miss this restaurant.
After 55 days spent riding from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi as well as a victory lap through the north near the Chinese border, the Diemer's Vietnam motorbike trip finally draws to a close. In this final leg of the journey, the Diemers rack up 2 flat tires and need to go to 3 different mechanics in less than 10km... it’s a long story. After finally getting their bikes road worthy again, the Diemers head tour the highway close to the Chinese border of Vietnam and visit the towns of Lang Son and Cao Bang before heading south back to Hanoi to kill time before their flight to Singapore. During those precious last kilometers, they make time to smash down some shots with locals, get pulled over by the police, and shoot some of the best drone footage from the entire trip. Vietnam was the adventure of a lifetime-the motorbike trip from south to north is a bucketlist item that exceeds your wildest expectations in every way.
The road to Hanoi from Ho Chi Minh City has been a long one, but this week, the Diemers finally arrive. To make the milestone even better, it’s New Years Eve and they’ll ring in the new year at a rooftop party in downtown Hanoi. While Hanoi is an endpoint destination for many Vietnam motorbike trips the journey won’t end there. Also in this episode, the drive East to Hai Phong and a motorbike tour of Cat Ba Island. Cat Ba is an island in Ha Long Bay that is accessible via ferry from the town of Hai Phong (only $6USD/person!)
After a week spent in Hoi An the Diemers realized that they would need to make up some ground on the Vietnam motorcycle trip. The constant rain was definitely slowing them down and making the ride miserable and a lot less safe. After a quick discussion on strategy, booking an overnight train from Da Nang to Ninh Binh seemed the only way to go. That also meant of course figuring out how to ship their bikes along on the train, which was no small feat. All goes well (except an SD card errror and losing all photos and video of the event) and the Diemers and their trusty motorbikes arrive in Ninh Binh and get to explore insane surrounding landscapes, as well as get off the paved roads for a bit.
Hoi An is a major tourist destination in the Vietnam , but don’t let that deter you. Turns out, people flock there for a reasons. Hoi An has great beaches, restaurants, places to stay and things to do. The Diemers head to Hoi An specifically to check out the Lantern Festival.
Included in the their stay at Tra Que Hotel is a cooking class. While guests are invited to help in the creation of their noodle bowls, it’s heavily suggested that they just watch so they don’t screw up everything.
The last thing the Diemers expected to do is go out and have custom clothes made while in Hoi An, even though it’s famous for it’s tailors. After Allison explains that she has now mastered riding a motorcycle by herself and is ready to carry luggage beyond just a single pillow, the Diemers decide that they do indeed want to lug around more clothes. Allison has dresses made for every occasion she might possibly need them for the rest of her life. Meanwhile, Tim has a leather motorcycle jacket made from scratch and imbued with defensive wards. Some say the sentient jacket still casts a spell of protection over him to this day.
After taking in the Hoi An Lantern Festival, the Diemers head to My Son Sanctuary just outside of Hoi An Vietnam. Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary is a cluster of ruined Hindu temples spread across a relatively large area that tourists can get up close with. My Son is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and that’ll be the big fact for today. Being rather simple minded, the Diemers are still surprised that people are just allowed to go jumping around on these ancient temples and touching anything they feel like.
Tour the Hue Royal Palace in Hue Vietnam with TRIPPED! The Hue Royal Palace is easily the biggest tourist draw in Hue but a month into the trip the Diemers are feeling a bit burnt out on ancient temples and ruins. They have also discovered the the majority of tourists are just running around taking selfies in front of ancient relics, so they join in on the fun and save the learning for another time.
Afterwards, they realize that about after a month on motorbikes and dealing with Vietnam weather for the past two weeks, that maybe everyone is a little sick of the road and the rain and seeing more temples so head south back to Hoi An to spend Christmas and catch the Hoi An Lantern Festival.
Of course, this means that the Diemers get a second go at doing the Hai Van pass on motorbikes, this time, with less rain.
TRIPPED splurges on hotel accomodations at $33 a night for two people (including breakfast of course!) and stays in the Tra Que area of Hanoi, close to beautiful herb gardens and just a few minutes via motorbike outside downtown Hoi An.
TRIPPED continues the Vietnam motorbike tour north finally arriving in Danang. While in a large city, there is much to do Oil needs to be changed in their motorcycles, passports need to be renewed, bribes need to be made, and beautiful sunny weather needs to be soak up on beaches. Of course, none of that was filmed because the camera crew also needed a break from shoving cameras in each others faces after months on end.
The magic of the ride to Hue however is captured in all its glory. The Diemers finally get to experience Vietnam weather in all its glory. The minute they depart the hotel, it starts raining down so steady and for so long that only a quote from Forrest Gump could sum it up “We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin' rain... and big ol' fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night…”
Arriving in Hue, Vietnam, the Diemers take a much needed break from eating Pho for every meal and hit the Big C Superstore for groceries and scotch. (Sidenote- The Diemers get more excited about a Big C trip than a suburban soccer mom does over a Sunday afternoon run to Costco. )
After a few days spent in Buon Ma Thuot, it’s time to burn up some pavement on this Vietnam Motorcycle trip. Over the next week, Tim and Allison Diemer head north through the towns of Pleiku, Kon Tum, Buon Ho to get to the cities of Danang and Hoi An during their Vietnam tour.
During the week, they hit some of the more remote and off the beaten path locations they’ll find during the trip.
One of the best parts about not having a strict schedule is the ability to check out anything that might catch your eye. For example, Minh Thanh Temple in Pleiku Vietnam was just one of those temples towering over the nearby landscape. There was plenty of time to pull over and check out what was going on, even though it didn’t seem like a major tourist destination for Pleiku.
Additionally, plenty of time during this leg of the trip to drone Vietnam. The landscape was stunning for this portion of the trip and flight conditions were perfect, so the drone was in the air as often as possible.
On this leg of the TRIPPED Vietnam Motorcycle adventure, Finney finally must come to terms with the fact that she has to learn how to ride her own motorcycle. It would seem the Diemers drastically overestimated how comfortable riding two up on a small 125cc motorbike would be. In her first day of solo-riding, she is thrown from the frying pan and into the fire as she navigates gravel backroads, wet mountain highways, congested cities packed with trucks, as well as dodging the random cow or wedding reception.
The destination on this leg of the journey is Buon Ma Thuot, which, truth be told, the Diemers never learn to pronounce properly (not for lack of trying). Buon Ma Thuot is the center of Vietnam coffee growing operations and homebase for Trung Nguyen Coffee Village. On top of falling in love with the country of Vietnam, Tim specifically declares his undying love for Vietnamese Ca Phe Sua Da or Iced Coffee with Milk. Trung Nguyen Coffee Village is perhaps the best place in all of Vietnam to have a definitive “best” Ca Phe Sua Da.
While in Buon Ma Thuot, the Diemers also hop over to Lak Lake in the Dak Lak Province for a day trip. The main tourist draw here is of course elephant rides across the lake. However, upon encountering a very sad elephant chained up on concrete, the Diemers decide to skip perhaps the saddest elephant ride in Vietnam.
TRIPPED makes the motorcycle trip from Dalat, Vietnam to Nha Trang and encounters the best roads in Vietnam for motorbikes. Once in Nha Trang, the best thing to do is head straight to Monkey Island for some crazy monkey hijinks.
Turns out, Allison is not the biggest fan of mobs of insane monkeys and Fiona feels much the same way. On the flip side, the boys think Monkey Island is the single greatest tourist destination in the history of mankind, so they head there with bananas, Pringles, and hearts full of love for their little simian friends.
On a Motorbike trip from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi, TRIPPED makes it to Dalat on day 2, otherwise known as the honeymoon capital of Vietnam, otherwise known as the CIty of Flowers, otherwise known as the city of Eternal Spring, otherwise known as the whatever moniker you really want to throw at it.
The group finally settles into their Vietnam motorbike travel groove of having one travel day and one rest day/sightseeing day. Having just ridden up from Mui Ne the day before, the gang is only too happy to take a break from the open road and spend the next day resting up.
While in Dalat, the group makes it a point to go out and visit Datanla waterfall. Datanla waterfall becomes more of an event than expected though as there are archery ranges to practice your aim at, cable cars to ride, rivers to jump across, and most importantly, roller coasters to ride.
The group caps the day off with Swan boat rental at Xuan Huong Lake, also known as the big lake in the center of town for those of us who don’t know how to pronounce X’s at the beginning of words.
With sore butts and happy hearts, TRIPPED sets out from Mui Ne with a destination of Da Lat as their target for the day. Before they get there, the day is going to be filled with sightseeing and sunburns.
Mui Ne is famous for its Red Sand Dunes and it’s White Sand Dunes, along with Mui Ne Harbor. Mui Ne is also notorious for it’s morally ambivalent police who are always looking to shake down a few tourists for a few thousand Dong.
A bit to the North is Bau Trang (White Lake) right on the base of the white sand dunes. Road crews are happy to take a break from work to watch you put a drone up in the sky.
The motorbike convoy then heads north through a mountain pass where they have the slowest drag race in history but still manage to pass a broken down tour bus full of sad travelers.
With only two days on the road, the group is happy to reach Da Lat and get some down time under their belts as they rest up for the drive to Nha Trang.
BUCKETLIST: VIETNAM Motorcycle trip. There are those who said this day would never come- TRIPPED buys motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City and sets out for Mui Ne Vietnam. We will spend the next two months driving the same distance as Key West to Chicago
The Diemers are joined by Jaime “the Coward” Hobstetter along with his lovely girlfriend Fiona, who is clearly dating beneath her potential.
The group buys Honda Blade motorcycles from Tigit in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam because they offer brand new motorbikes that are more reliable than the crap Chinese knock off Honda Wins that can be found in Backpacker quarters for sale around the city. (Tigit will buy back the bikes in Hanoi).
The group also does a bit of shopping to prepare for the journey ahead. Vietnamese roads are a bit crazy with all of the motorcycle traffic, so helmets and proper clothing are necessary. Allison opts for a helmet, kneepads, and elbow pads because she’s careful, while Jaime goes with rolled up sleeves, an unbuckled helmet and flipflops.
TRIPPED spends a week in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City to get geared up and ready for a month long motorcycle trip to Northern Vietnam and Ha Long Bay. (What they don’t know is that this little motorcycle trip is actually going to take two months.)
While in Ho Chi Minh City, they take a time out to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. The Cu Chi tunnels were used by the Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam (Or American) War. The tunnels have been greatly increased in size to accommodate tourism but retain their original claustrophobic feel. They aren’t a place that you want to get stuck between two overly excited and nervous tour groups.
In perhaps the most historically sensitive move, visitors can also shoot a wide array of guns while visiting the site. Everything from a M1 Garand up to a jeep mounted machine gun can used and visitors just need to pay for the ammunition.
The Cu Chi Tunnels are a short drive outside of Ho Chi Minh City and are an attraction you don’t want to miss if you’re in the Southern part of Vietnam. It was especially interesting to visit as Americans almost 50 years after the end of the conflict.
Allison and Tim can't stay away very long from the beach. After spending a few days visiting Angkor Wat in the central of Cambodia, the crew heads to the backpacking town of Sihanoukville to enjoy more sunsets and boat tours.
Nothing is ever as it seems traveling through South East Asia. The disappointed crew makes the best of a Spear Fishing trip with no Spear Gun before taking the most memorable car ride of their lives squished in the back of a non- air conditioned van to cross "local-style" from Cambodia to Vietnam.
In Vietnam a hip hop music video shoot becomes a big night "in" for the bathrobe-clad crew before getting caught by the hotel maintenance staff through the window.
TRIPPED and company touchdown in Siem Reap. Why Siem Reap? Why, to go stand with the herds of tourists at Angkor Wat of course. If you didn’t already know, Angkor Wat is the largest religious site in the world.
Local opinions on the management of tourism around Angkor Wat are quite the hot button issue. Ticket concessions are operated by Sokimex. Many locals believe that the corporation is not sharing profits with the Cambodian government or local people in a way that is fair. What's the truth? Seriously-no one knows. I expect the comment section to be a firestorm. If you’re bored reading this, head off to the depths of the internet and see for yourself.
The heat in Cambodia hits you like a slug to the chest, so the crew inevitably finds a waterhole to hide from the sun. After a pregame session of margaritas the group heads off to Angkor Wat to play with some monkeys and stomp around the grounds looking for the best Instagram picture they can find.
What else is on the agenda? How about getting off the beaten path, sunrise in a rice paddy, and going touring around town with their tuktuk driver.
TRIPPED in Coron, Busuanga Philippines! Continuing to kick things off the bucket list in the Philippines, the group heads to Coron Town to rent a boat for a day spent island hopping to such destinations as Coron Island, Barracuda Lake, Twin Lagoons, and Cayangan Lake.
After the best day of their lives spent island hopping, the group splits up in search of their own adventures.
Some head out to new depths to do some wreck diving around Akitsushima, Okikawa Maru and Irako. Others hire motorbikes and head for the west coast of Busuanga Island. Still others think the best way to spend the day is lounging by the pool at the Coron Westown Resort.
After the boys take off for Bangkok, the Diemers spend the night in a treehouse at Sanctuaria Treehouse. The also spend a few nights at the Coron Underwater Garden Resort before flying off to Cambodia.
TRIPPED says goodbye to the island of Bohol and heads North to meet friends in the Philippine city of Cebu. After flying from the other side of the planet, little time is lost as the group of friends heads to Oslob to experience swimming with the whale sharks!
After a dip in the sea amidst drowning tourists and hand-fed whale sharks, the group departs for the second experience on their bucketlist: A swim at Tumalog Falls. To get to the falls, one only has to trust their life to one of the (I’m sure) very safe motorcycle taxis that speed balls out to the base of the waterfall.
If swimming with the largest fish in the world and purifying themselves in the azure waters of the Tumalog weren’t enough, the group caps the day with an afternoon spent on the private Sumilon Island. Sumilon Island is a paradise as long as you’re cool with paying $6 USD for a beer in the Philippines. Other than that option, guests can relax by the BlueWater Resort pool or go snorkeling near the white beach. We definitely got the best of all the worlds as prices to stay at the BlueWater resort are hundereds of US dollars but we got to use the facilities for the day as part of the Whale Shark tour package.
TRIPPED finally arrives in South East Asia by kicking things off with a few weeks in Bohol Island, Philippines. Bohol is located just south of the city of Cebu. What’s on the bucket list for Bohol? Chocolate Hills and plenty of beach time!
Bohol Philippines is known best for being home to the Chocolate Hills. Over 1,500 brownish hills ripped straight from the screen of Super Mario World. Doesn’t sound exciting? Totally understand. It’s a bit tough to make hills sound thrilling, but these are easily the most interesting hills this planet has to offer.
Additionally, there's plenty of island to discover by scooter and the Diemers log in plenty of hours at Alona Beach while people try to sell them whale shark tours.
While at Chocolate Hills, the Diemers spy bikes floating through the sky E.T. style? Why is this? Chocolate Hills Adventure Park (CHAP) is located just short scooter ride away from the Chocolate Hills tourist spot and has ziplining, tree adventures, and the perhaps the coolest thing- a bike ride through the sky. Allison is brave enough to balance on two wheels while Tim meekly hides on the ground but offers to pilot the drone.
Finally! Time for Dubai! After dipping their toes in the unfamiliar city of Istanbul, Dubai represents a place completely unfamiliar to both of the Diemers. The only knowledge they have going in is that there is a really tall building and it’s super hot there.
Turns out, Dubai has been built from the sand-up to be a tourist destination of the next century. Endless clean beaches, desert sun, shopping malls that are attractions in themselves, Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, Old Dubai, Dubai Fountain, Mall of the Emirates, water parks like Wild Wadi, Boat rides across the Dubai Creek…..the list goes on and on.
After a cold and rainy visit in Poland, the Diemers make the most out of a long layover in Istanbul. Initially planning on taking the free bus tour of the city, a series of delayed flights and jetlag influenced decisions had them missing out on the complimentary tour by 5 minutes. Rats.
When life hands you lemons, the only thing to do is make martinis with lemon twists. Sucking it up, the Diemers put their sleep deprived minds at work to figure out public transportation to the city and salvage the day.
With an upcoming schedule that puts them in Dubai, Istanbul, and the Philippines all within two weeks, the Diemers take time to pump the brakes, visit family in Poland, and rest up.
After a late night arrival in Warsaw, they hop aboard the most luxurious $5 cross country bus ride they’ll see the entire trip.
Arriving in Bydgoszcz, the Diemers meet up with Allison's cousin Megan- who is on exchange through the Rotary Youth Exchange Program- who takes them on a whirlwind tour of the city, culminating in the top rated Tripadvisor attraction Museum of Soap and History of Dirt. The Museum of Soap turns out to be more fun than could have been anticipated. The group has fun beating each other with sticks, making custom soap gifts for Grammi that would never make it home, and learning about how humans slowly became less gross thanks to the magic of soap.
Rounding out the site seeing, they trio takes walks along Mill’s Island, checks out the Tightrope Walker sculpture, Old Market Square, and Bydgoski Channel. Unfortunately, while Bydgoszcz was beautiful, weather didn’t cooperate and it was impossible to put the drone up for the duration of time spent there.
After a final day spent day drinking on Perissa beach in Santorini, the Diemers manage to collect themselves enough to board a ferry bound for Athens.
What is there to do in Athens, Greece? Why, flock to the Acropolis along with every other tourist within a 100 mile radius. While at the Acropolis, the Diemers marvel at both ancient greek architecture and modern asian instagram models alike. As could be predicted, the historical significance of the Athens Acropolis is lost on Allison. Her obvious boredom stands as an insult to Zeus, who sends a vengeful pounding rainstorm to exact revenge.
Quickly fleeing Athens, the Diemers make their way to Cyprus. Don’t know what Cyprus is? Neither did the Diemers. Turns out, it’s Cancun for Brits. What is there to do in Cyprus? Wander around lost in the Tombs of Kings in Paphos and make stupid jokes about being tomb raiders. To further their cultural enrichment, the Diemers book passage aboard a booze cruise. The boat navigates quickly by anything interesting, such as the world famous sea caves of Cyprus, while bartenders push cheap gin at tourists.
The Diemers finally head off to the #basicbitch bucket list destination of Santorini, the picture perfect island in the Greek Cyclades. Tim's un-informed opinion of the island was a place to get instagram pictures taken while wearing linen shirts. In reality, the island held adventure aplenty: cliff diving, volcano trekking, donkey riding, mountain climbing, clear water free diving, scooter driving, and gyro eating. (Maybe gyro eating isn’t adventurous, but Oia was home to the best damn gyro in Europe).
To stay on budget the Diemers set up shop in Perissa where they could enjoy the black sand beaches of Perissa Beach. Beautiful Oia was only a short scooter trip away. A short drive will also get you to the top of Profitis Ilias, where one can stare down on the entirety of Santorini from Oia in the North to the home of Akrotiri light house on the southern tip.
Finally! Oktoberfest in Munich! Having a proper "Mas" (Maß) of beer while sitting in a tent in Munich has been a long time item on the Diemers' bucket list. Oktoberfest turns out to live up to the hype as the Diemers quickly make new friends and sing along with the alcohol-fueled crowd.
The surprise highlight on the day is no doubt the Teufelsrad (Devil’s Wheel). Basically, it’s a motorized merry go round built to spin around drunk Oktoberfest go-ers. If the spinning doesn’t kick you off, the difficulty ramps up as swinging padded cannon-balls are launched at your head in an effort to knock you off your balance.