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The Ultimate Trip

By Jeanne Sullivan,2014-06-17 06:19
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The Ultimate Trip ...

     Ultimate-Trip.com

I wrote this letter to myself so as years go by I can read this and remember what I’ve

    learned.

    thSunday November 4, 2001. I woke up and went downstairs to feed my two cats Tim and

    Susie. On my way I caught a glimpse of my new desk and computer monitor I had bought. A

    gift to myself, purchased with extra money I had earned writing a website for a friend. It

    occurred to me that something didn’t feel right.

    The night before I had been out with my very good friend Paula and her 2 young

    daughters. We had had a great time at dinner and then we all went and saw “Monsters Inc”

    at the theater. The “something wrong” feeling was that I just wasn’t happy. Even after

    buying a few new things and spending a great night with Paula and her kids.

    The date, November 4thth was auspicious as well. I realized that it was the 30

    anniversary of the recording studio I had been working at as a sound engineer for 14 years.

    Manta Sound, the “Abbey Road” of Canada my friend had aptly called it. I had once said that

    “Work is what makes me happy”. My friend Paul had to remind me that I had actually said

    that. I thought to myself “When is the last time I felt like that in the last 5 years.

    Strangely enough 5 years ago was when I had started playing Ultimate…interesting.

     I had worked with some of my hero’s in music. Canadian artists like Rush, Rik

    Emmet from Triumph, Cowboy Junkies, Our Lady Peace, jazz legend Oscar Peterson, and

    international artists like James Taylor, Journey, Bush, Def Leppard, and even Edge and Bono

    from U2. Recently the interesting sessions had gotten few and far between as had my

    opportunities there. I thought, Why am I working at a place that makes me unhappy to buy

    things I don’t care about? Something had to change.

    It was at that very moment that I decided I had to do something drastic. The

    original thought was to quit my job, sell my place and my car and go traveling the world

    playing Ultimate for 2 years. The more reasonable plan was to take a leave of absence for 7

    or 8 months, lease my car, and have a friend rent my place while I was away. I had never

    had these thoughts before and they scared me. I had never willingly stepped away from the

    so called security (I thought) I had my entire life nor had I ever gone “travelingeither. I

    had been to a lot of places but had never traveled with a backpack for 6 monthsby myself!

    What a truly terrifying idea. I thought back to how terrified I was forming my first Coed

    touring team “NinE IncH Ales”, something else I had never done before. If you had told me

    that we would finish top 4 at Canadian Nationals and top team from the East I wouldn’t have

    believed you. Maybe this trip was a good idea.

    Our present studios were not long for this world. We had to move buildings and we

    were going to lose our beautiful Studio 2 that could hold 80 piece orchestras. My company

    was going to have to build some studios at our new facilities so what a perfect time to take

    a leave of absence. I arrived the next morning at work to witness a steam shovel tearing up

    our parking lot. A sign, I thought, that maybe I should do this.

    Years ago I had read a great quote from Jim Unger the creator of the Herman

    comic strip.

    “For years I bummed around the world looking for happiness. Then one day I

    realized happiness isn’t something you find. All the happiness in the world is between your

    own two ears.”

    can help yourself become happy by distancing yourself from what makes you With that firmly in mind I was sure I was not doing this to run away from my

    unhappy which I could have done by staying in Toronto but a side of me did not want to sit problems. You

    back at the age of 70 and say “Well I never did make it to Nepal to see the Himalayan mountains, or the South Island of New Zealand to see penguins and sea lions in the wild. Oh

    well too late now”. I have yet to say “what if” in my life and I wasn’t about to start then.

    With the fact that I wanted to do this for the proper reasons settled I had to

    figure out where to start. First off how the hell am I going to afford this? To make a long

    story short I refinanced my mortgage, took out a bunch of money and because my mortgage

    rate went from 6.6% to 2.75% I was still paying the same amount every month. Math is

    amazing some times. Next I sat down with all my friends who I knew had spent time

    traveling and asked them every question I could. My friend DC even had a detailed list of

    everything I should take right down to the smallest detail. I learned about travel doctors,

    Round-The-World plane tickets, Mountain Equipment Co-op, travel visas, hostels, and

    anything else you can think of. I could write another article on all the stuff I had to do just

    to arrange this trip. If youre looking for travel insurance make sure they cover Ultimate, most explicitly state they will not cover our favourite sport.

    At age 35 I had finally realized that I was what one would call a creative person.

    That’s not a good or a bad thing it just is what it is. A lot of people often try to convince

    others they are creative so they can be viewed as special or different. I think that’s a bunch of crap. Creative types just have a need to express themselves in some way and if

    they aren’t able to do that they feel unsatisfied. Because I was doing fewer and fewer interesting things at work that need wasn’t being satisfied so I started to go through long periods of depression which drove me to look for creative outlets outside of work such as

    playing Ultimate and freestyle frisbee, working on our league website (www.tuc.org), making

    screen savers, playing guitar, skateboarding, or whatever. Finally figuring out that I needed

    to be creative all the time made my life a lot easier.

    With that in mind I had to figure out how I would stay creative while I was traveling.

    Some might say that traveling in of itself would be enough but I knew it wouldn’t be for me.

    The easy way out was to bring a guitar but I was intrigued by the idea of not playing

    everyday like I had for the last 20 years or so. Music itself had become a reminder of my

    bad situation at work anyway.

    For some reason I came up with a very ambitious (or stupid) idea. Shoot lots of video

    during my travels, edit it on some kind of laptop, compress it down to QuickTime movies and

    then look for some place in a remote part of the world for an internet connection to upload

    it to my website so my family and friends could see what I was up to. Sounded pretty

    straight forward to me. I guess it never dawned on me that I had never shot any video or

    edited any movies in my life but why should that stop me.

    Through exhaustive research I decided on the Canon Elura 2MC Mini DV digital

    video camera that fits in the palm of your hand and the Sony Vaio SR27K laptop computer.

    It’s only 3 pounds, about 8” x 10” x ?”, and has a 30 Gig hard drive with a firewire connection and a built in modem and network card. (They both made it all the way around

    the world with me with no problems what so ever). I also found every AC & phone adapter I

would need for all the countries I was going to visit. I then loaded my laptop with all the

    programs I was going to use and about 1000 Mp3 songs to add to the movies I was going to

    try and make. Laptops also make great Mp3 players.

    February 1st, 2002 I emerged from studio 5 at Manta Sound, looked over the

    staircase railing to the lobby and announced to my long time co-workers that I had finished

    my session. With that said Manta Sound after 30 years was now officially closed. Little did

    I know that it would also be my last session ever for that company. I went downstairs to

    the “Big Room” to join the farewell party that was attended by a lot of the people who had

    frequented our studio over the years. Later I would be in tears saying good-bye to all my

    friends I had spent my entire adult life with and at the end of the night I walked out the

    front door. The start of something new? I didn’t know, I was terrified.

    Later that month about 30 of us from Toronto went down to Mike Gerics’ WUFF

    National Coed Tournament in Wilmington, North Carolina. I used this opportunity to test my

    travel setup taking with me my fully loaded backpack complete with camera and laptop. My

    flight took me to Raleigh NC which is about 2 hours plus drive from Wilmington. Mike put me

    in touch with a guy named Tim Brooks from Ring Of Fire and Tim offered to pick me up at the airport and give me a lift down the next morning. Tim arrived at the airport at 11:30 pm

    and suggested we just go for it and drive down immediately. I was totally up for that and

    upon arrival in Wilmington I offered him some floor space in our hotel room so he could

    crash for the night.

    Sunday night after the tournament Tim offered me a lift back to Raleigh and

    offered me his couch for the night. Monday morning he took the day off work to show me

    around the town. I was so amazed by his hospitality being that we had only met on Friday.

    It felt so great to not be worrying about anything or having to be anywhere. I was totally at

    peace for the first time in 5 years. How was it possible that I could feel that way while

    driving around to different Fedex offices in Durham? I’d only been off work for 2 weeks.

    Tuesday morning Tim woke up ridiculously early and drove me to the airport. We

    said goodbye and I jumped on the plane back to Toronto. “Wow” I thought to myself “I hope

    everyone I meet traveling is as nice as Tim. This trip is going to be so great”.

    When I got home I found time to edit my first movie about our journey down to NC.

    I uploaded it to my website www.Ultimate-Trip.com on my friend’s server and made one posting to rec.sport.disc our Ultimate newsgroup announcing there was a WUFF movie

    available for download. The next day my friend was alarmed to find out that 140 people

    from around the world had downloaded my 22 Meg file effectively shutting down his server.

    This was not good, I wasn’t expecting this. I had to try and find some sponsors that could

    provide me with the required bandwidth.

    I phoned up the Ultimate fanatics at DataRealm in Philadelphia who host our league’s site and UPA’s site as well to look for some help. I think I was greeted by Brian, “Are you the guy who did the WUFF movie? I watched that last night and really enjoyed it. Great

    job”. I thought to myself “Wow, what are the odds of that”. Later that night I emailed a

    guy named Steinar in Singapore looking for a spot on his team going to Worlds in Hawaii as

    my Toronto team had not yet received a bid. I opened his reply email. “Are you the guy who

    did the WUFF movie? I watched that last night and really enjoyed it”. I thought “Wow, what are the odds of that…I really need to find a sponsor”.

    I didn’t know it at the time but finding some sponsors to host my website would be

    my first indication of what a sense of community the Ultimate players around the world

    have and share. With one posting again to rec.sport.disc my friend Barry Goldlist from

    CanUltimate.Com offered to host my QuickTime movies and Marty Brutvan from New York

    Ultimate whom I’d never met suggested I put up Windows Media Streaming files and that

    he could host those at his companies site SmartPros.Com. That would affectively more than

    double the size of my upload files but I thought in for a penny in for a pound and warmly

    invited the sponsorship from my friends. I guess it was time to go.

    thMy friend Paul drove me to the airport at 8 pm on March 5. With tears in my eyes

    I hugged him goodbye and boarded the plane for London England where I had a place to stay

    at my friend Mark’s. The plane taxied out to the runaway and I thought to myself, “What the Fuck am I dong? What the Fuck am I doing?”. I felt almost detached from myself like I was watching someone else leaving their life and friends for half a year. I’ll never forget

    how confused and afraid I felt.

    Landing in Heathrow I took the tube to Mark’s work which is in downtown London

    (inside the square mile business district) and dropped off my belongings. It was 10 am

    London time and I had been awake for 20 hours. I had to last another 7 hours before Mark

    could take me to his place after he finished work. I spent the day wondering through the

    streets trying not to pass out. When we got back to Mark’s place in Clapham Common I

    slept for a grand total of 2 hours and then he woke me up so we could go to the pub for

    some beers. I have very little memory of that night.

    London provided me with a good starting point to just hang out and get my bearings

    before I had to start being on my own. The first pick-up game I went to play in Regent Park

    was cancelled due to wind but amazingly along with my friend Shelley there were 2 girls

    there from Toronto. Christian, and Lauren from our top Women’s team “Urge”. What a cool

    surprise.

    Later in the week I was able to play indoors at an American school where Shelley’s

    teammate Melissa worked as a teacher. Later that night I made the pilgrimage through the

    rain to see Abbey Road studios where the Beatles recorded all their albums. As a recording

    engineer that’s like our Mecca.

    Later that week I found myself on a train going north up to Edinburgh, Scotland to

    visit my good high school friend Pete Miller. My favourite shot in my U.K. movie is the shot

    taken from the train window at dusk looking out on the Scottish countryside. It was the

    first time I had had a chance to calmly reflect and think about what lay ahead. I gazed out

    that window for over 5 hours. That was to be the start of a very long process of my brain

    untangling itself from the previous 5 years.

    I spent the week with Pete and his better half “Fi” in the little town of Lauder.

    Population - 1100, number of pubs - 4. Every pub we went into we were greeted with “Peter this must be your friend from Canada”. I took the bus into Edinburgh everyday to wander through the streets, and go to tourist sites like Edinburgh Castle, The National Gallery, and

    several graveyards. On the weekend I went to Edinburgh University where I found a game

    to play in versus Team Fusion the school’s Open team. We only lost by a couple points and we were playing Coed. After the game a bunch of us went for a beer. 30 minutes later I

    realized I had to catch my bus or wait another 3 hours for the next one. It was then I

    realized a very important lesson. I thought it’s a heck of a long way to travel to Scotland

    just so you can get the early bus home. I was doing this trip to do exactly what I was doing

    at the pub. Experience new situations and to meet and get to know new people from

different cultures blah,blah,blah…. As it turned out I barely caught the next bus. Probably

    because I was drunk.

    Later I flew from Edinburgh to Paris. For the first time in my life I got off a plane

    with nowhere to go. That felt pretty cool. That night I would realize why I don’t live with 7

    other guys at home. 2 snored and one other guy had a hacking cough. It was almost comical.

    I got to the hostel pretty late but I was so excited about seeing the Louvre museum

    and the Paris skyline I ran down there at 11:30pm to witness the French Navy in full uniform

    getting their picture taken in front of the famed glass pyramid in the Louvre square. It was

    awesome.

    The next day I did an 8 hour walking tour around Paris to see the sites and break in

    my trekking shoes. If you ever start feeling conceded about anything creative you’ve ever

    done just spend 10 minutes in Paris and you will soon be humbled. In short it’s the most

    beautiful city in the world. The Paris movie I made is one of my favourites and it often

    brings a tear to my eye even today.

    I then took a train to Rimini, Italy. Home of the famed Paganello Beach Ultimate

    Tournament. Not only is it the biggest tournament in Europe every year (96 teams from 24

    countries) but it also features a world class freestyle event. Check out the Paganello movie

    if you’ve never seen freestyle you’ll be amazed by what they can do.

    I was really looking forward to arriving because I was playing with one of my

    Toronto touring teams “Aged to Perfection” in the Coed division. It was great to see all my

    friends again as well as meet up with teams I had played with in England, Scotland, and

    France. This was to become a recurring theme to the trip. 7 days of 5 on 5 Beach Ultimate

    and parties with countless friends, nuff said.

    Also playing at Paganello was my friend Duro who had moved to Toronto the year

    before from Bratislava, Slovakia. His girlfriend (soon to be wife) Eva who lived in Prague,

    Czech Republic was playing with us and she was kind enough to arrange a ride for me to

    Prague and she also offered me her apartment to stay in whom she shared with her

    roommate Lanka who was playing at the tournament as well. So the last day of Paga I

    jumped in the car with 3 Czech players and we drove 10 ? hours through Italy, Austria,

    Germany, and then finally Prague. It’s probably a very beautiful drive but I didn’t see any of

    it because it was night time. We arrived in Prague at 2:30am and Poppy dropped me off at

    Eva’s and Lanka’s apartment. I had beaten Lanka home so I had to go into each of their

    bedrooms and see which one had a picture of Duro on their night table to figure out which

    bedroom was Eva’s. I then crashed for about 10 hours.

    I spent the week exploring Prague. What a city of music, it is so beautiful.

    Everywhere you look there are classically trained musicians. On the streetcars and subways

    on the corners it was amazing.

    One day Lanka invited me along to a small town outside of Prague to demonstrate

    Ultimate to an elementary school. It was such a great experience. We showed them

    Ultimate and freestyle and then played some disc golf with them. They all seemed to enjoy

    it so much, what a thrill that was. That’s one thing you learn really fast traveling is that kids

    are the same everywhere, they just like having fun. Maybe we could learn a few things from

    them.

    The next destination of the journey was to fly to New Delhi, India. I hadn’t planned

    on going there but it was the only way I could get to Nepal with my Round-The-World plane

    ticket. I met 2 people from the UK, Ross & Emma, and together we traveled to Jaipur, Agra

where the Taj Mahal is and then I set out on my own to Varanasi where they bring over

    1000 dead bodies every day to cremate by the shores of the Ganges river to end their cycle

    of reincarnation and send their souls to Nirvana. It is very hard to order food on the patio

    of your guest house when all you can smell are burning bodies 24/7.

    I arranged travel on a bus that would take me to Pokhara, Nepal which is in central

    Nepal and where most people begin and end their treks as Nepal is a very popular place to

    trek in, the Annapurna Trail being the most popular. On the bus I met a very nice Aussie girl

    named Alana who was traveling by herself. We ended up at the same hotel in Pokhara as did

    2 other guys from the bus Michel from Berlin, Germany who along with his friends hold “The

    Love Parade” every year (1.5 million people attended last year) and Andi who was also German but had been living in Dublin, Ireland since he was 12 or 13. Andi’s goal was to trek

    the entire Annapurna Trail for his father who was once a mountain climber but now had

    arthritis and was unable to climb. I had considered maybe doing a 3 or 5 day trek at most

    but had never considered a 20 day trek through the Himalayan Mountains. My nickname

    “Wheels” comes from 15 years of skateboarding and I skateboard mostly because I hate to

    walk. I was amazed to find myself accepting his invitation and along with a 5th person we met,

    Liz also from Dublin, we set out for 3 weeks together.

    I started having doubts the first half hour of the trek but had researched certain

    escape routes along the trail in case I changed my mind. I could turn around at Poon Hill and

    return to the starting point or I could fly back to Pokhara from one of 2 airstrips along the

    way. Saying there are 2 airstrips on the trail definitely does not paint the right picture of

    how isolated you are. The Annapurna Trail is how the Nepalese have traveled from village to

    village through the mountains for hundreds of years. We foreigners discovered that it was a

    cool place to trek back in the 70’s.

    The second day we encountered a staircase that ascended three quarters of a mile

    up a mountain side. We began to have serious doubts but one day led into another and we

    finally got into a routine of waking up at 6 or 7 am, trekking approximately 6 hours, finding a

    village guest house to stay in, relaxing with a book, having dinner, playing cards, maybe some

    hash, and then going to sleep at 8 pm. The altitude started to become a problem above

    3500 M (1150 feet) but our bodies slowly adjusted. The trail had been quite empty due to a

    perceived threat from the Maoists who were involved in a civil war with the Royal Nepalese

    Army. Tourism was down 50% because of the conflict and we were there during the last 2

    weeks of the trekking season. It is quite an experience to walk pass 8 guys with rifles by

    yourself in the middle of nowhere and not know what side their on. I just said “Nameste” (hello) 8 times and kept going. Michel who was further back on the trail was a little more

    scared than I was as he happened to be rolling a joint when they passed him. Also I think we

    should have told Andi not to wear a “Che Guevara” T-shirt while hiking in a country that is involved in a civil war.

    About one week into our trek an amazing thing happened. My mind actually turned

    off. For the first time in years I wasn’t thinking about 8 different things or the past or the

    future I was just thinking about taking another step and I was able to simply enjoy my

    surroundings. The only word I can use to describe that feeling is “peace”. I guess the

    concentrated effort it takes to hike 6 hours a day is a very good way to learn how to focus.

    Around the 10th day we had been living at 3800M (12,500 feet) for a few days but

    we had to spend time acclimatizing our bodies to go even higher. You do this by trekking to

    high altitudes and then returning to lower elevations to sleep. This tricks your body into

    producing more red blood cells so you can retain more oxygen in your blood. Due to a 5 day

    national strike imposed by the rebel Maoists we had to enter the trail from the place that

    most people finish it. In other words we did the trail backwards which doesn’t mean a whole

    lot until you reach the Thorung La Pass. If you go the preferred way you go over the Pass

    from Thorung Phedi at 4450M (14,600 feet) to the top of the pass which is at 5400M

    (17,600 feet). Going our way leaving from Muktinath at 3800M (12,500 feet) you have to

    ascend a vertical mile spending half your day trekking through snow and ice and living with

    the inconvenience of having fully one third less oxygen than you do at sea level. It took us

    10 hours and it was without a doubt the most physically and mentally demanding day of my

    entire life. That’s the first time I’d ever thought “If I don’t move from where I’m standing

    I’m going to die”. As you look around you and you see nothing for 50 miles the last thing on

    your mind is “Gee, glad I got medical insurance before I left home”. Honestly every day of

    my life after that day seems easier somehow. Anytime I have a challenge in my life I

    remember that day and I know I can overcome any obstacles.

    A Word of Strong Advice: If you ever do the Annapurna Trail never attempt the Pass with

    less than 5 people in your group, you could die. On our day over the Pass we encountered

    exactly 7 people in 10 hours. Hire guides to escort you over. They don’t have to guide you or

    carry your packs they just need to be there in case you get too sick from the altitude and

    can’t descend on your own. There are graves of people up there who thought it wasn’t worth

    the $8 US a day to have an escort.

    On the 20th day we reached Bhulebhule at 840M (2755 feet) and the end of our trail. Andi

    and I celebrated by ordering our first beer in 3 weeks. I grabbed a chair and sat out in

    front of our guest house and looked way way up to the clouds in the sky. I said to Andi “We

    use to be up there”. I sat there for another 2 hours.

     The Annapurna Trail movie that is on my website is by far my personal favourite and

    I often watch it and feel like I had nothing to do with its creation. As an aside it’s the first

    time I appear on camera because my friends were complaining that they never saw me in any

    of the previous movies.

     The 5 of us returned to Pokhara to take it easy for a week and I tried to regain the

    10 pounds I had lost. It was so bad that I had to send a bunch of clothes home because they

    didn’t come close to fitting anymore. In the bars we were often greeted by other people we

    had met on the trail by “These are the people who did the trail backwards”. One guy even

    bought us a beer explaining “Every step I took down the Pass I imagined you guys taking a

    step up”.

     We each separately made our way to Kathmandu where we met up again in the

    tourist ghetto and spent another week together exploring the city. Almost every night we

    went to the western bar “Tom & Jerry’s” which has become quite famous due to the fact that a lot of mountain climbing expeditions go there to celebrate a successful climb. It was

    cool to see shirts and memorabilia on the walls from all the famous mountain climbers I had

    been reading about. There was even a big Canadian flag on the ceiling with a great poem

    proclaiming you weren’t Canadian unless you knew who, among others, Don Cherry and The Tragically Hip were. That made me feel at home. I even spotted a frisbee hanging on the

    wall and proceeded to show one of the owners “Tom” how to throw a forehand. If Nepal puts a team into Worlds next year I will feel like I had a hand in it.

     Nepal was absolutely my favourite place that I visited and I am already making plans to return early in 2004 to trek to Everest Base Camp with, if you can believe it, Andi and his father. That would be so cool. I want to try and arrange a trip for as many people who want to go with us no matter where they’re from in the World. A years notice should be enough

    and one months worth of vacation/leave of absence time ought to do it. Check my website to see if I’ve followed through or not.

    I said goodbye to all my friends I had made and flew to Bangkok, Thailand where I

    hung out in their tourist ghetto Khoasan Road for 9 days which is a really crazy place. Just shit loads of hotels restaurants, stores, etc. catering to backpackers. I hiked all over Bangkok checking out amazing Wats (temples) and the Grand Palace. I was even able to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Carolina Hurricanes NHL play-off series in my hotel room on ESPN Thailand. On the Saturday I headed out to Lumphini Park to play some Ultimate pickup. There I met Michael Riley who let me come to his office and hook my computer up to his network where I was able to upload my Nepal movies. I had dinner with him and his girlfriend that night where I met his friend Mark who is George Winston's (Windham Hill artist) tour manager.

     I was waiting for Ross and Emma to arrive in Bangkok but they were late so I got a little impatient and I booked a flight to Mai Hong Son in northern Thailand where I met a 22 year old Swiss girl named Sonia. We spent some time exploring in Mai Hong Son, going to Karen villages and mostly swimming because it was so unbelievably hot. We then took a bus and then some motorcycle taxis to Sappong where we hiked to a school near the Burmese border that is protected by the army because of all the feuding going on there due to the Opium trade. Coming back we trekked along and mostly through a river to get back to the Cave Lodge where we were staying and got caught by the dark. That was very interesting trying to find our way in absolute darkness along a flowing river. Luckily it was raining and we could see the reflection of the sky on the path because it was wet. We also visited the world renowned caverns there. One cave ceiling was 27 meters (over 80 feet) high. The cave is also home to about 100,000 birds that enter and exit the cave once a day, what a site.

     Sonia and I then traveled to Pai which is where everyone goes to become lost in Thailand. Everything is about half price there. Our Bungalow was about $4 Canadian ($2.40 US) a night. I couldn’t take it anymore so I broke down and bought a guitar. Amazingly they

    sold them there, a really nice black acoustic with soft case, strings, picks, and a capo that cost me $120 Canadian ($80 US). It was hard to leave there but all we did was sit around and smoke up all day anyways. We traveled to Chang Mai where we said goodbye and I spent a day or two shopping there and watching the World Cup (of Soccer) at an Irish Pub.

     Now it was vacation time. (I have found that most people who have never traveled think that traveling is a vacation. But as all travelers know, when you travel you are subjecting yourself to hardships that you never ever experience at home therefore traveling is the opposite of a vacation.) I took a plane to Koh Samui then a water ferry to Koh Pha Ngan and found a very remote beach that Michel had told me about to chill out on for 12 days. It was amazing. Great people, about 20 or more dogs and about 12 new born puppies, electricity for 6 hours a day, Ganja Shakes on the menu, Swedish sisters, and everybody played frisbee there. They'd all come up to me and ask me how to throw a forehand. I practiced freestyle there every day too. I also finished reading “The Art of

    Happiness” written by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler, a western psychiatrist. That is the

most helpful book I’ve ever read. I think about what I’ve learned from that book every

    minute of my life now.

     Twice a day we would congregate at one of two TV's to watch the World Cup on the beach (they have satellite dishes there). Once during a semi-final game the owner switched the TV to Showtime during half-time. Much to my shock the movie that was on was "Urban Legend - Final Cut" the scene we were watching was when the girl is chased through a music scoring stage. The very studio I had spent the last 14 years in, the very room that was shut down after 30 years on my last day of work February 1st, 2002. I almost spit up my drink. Think about the odds of being literally on the other side of the world on a small remote beach and having your office appear on TV.

    About a week into my beach retreat something wonderful happened again. One

    afternoon I went down to the beach to grab a beer and look out on the sea and do some thinking about my life. Something I had been doing in some form or another pretty much everyday since I’d left, almost 4 months by then, and when I sat down I found that I had

    nothing left to think about or resolve. It was as if I had finished. It had never occurred to me that you had to set aside time to absorb everything you experience in life. I really missed not having anything to think about, it was so enjoyable, almost euphoric and now it was gone. Of course that was a good thing because I realized I had made my peace with everything that had bothered or upset me in my life up to that point. The person who was entirely to blame for me being increasingly unhappy for the last 5 years was me. In time I would learn to forgive myself as well. The untangling process had ended.

    After 2 weeks it was time to leave so I took the taxi in to town, caught a 3 1/2 hour

    ferry to Surrtanti, Thailand and waited for 7 hours for my train that left at 1:23 am. There is not much to do there so I found a small restaurant to hide in that was showing "Total Recall" and hid in a corner drinking beers. The outside said they were open till 11:30 so I was a little surprised when they started closing down at around 9:30. The owner came up to me and said don't worry about it and showed me his DVD collection where I selected "The Sixth Sense" to view. Around 11 pm I felt a little guilty so I prepared to leave. Sam the owner offered to drive me to the taxis but we couldn't find one so he drove me all the way to the train station that was about 15 Km (9 Miles) away. I boarded a very nice train at 1:30 am and went to my sleeper thinking I had 11 hours to sleep till we got to Butterworth, Malaysia but at 8 am we were all woken up so we could go through the Malaysian Customs border crossing. When we returned to the train much to my surprise all the sleepers had been folded up and we now had to try to lie down on the seats instead to try and get some rest. That was incredibly uncomfortable.

     In Butterworth I jumped on a Bus to Kuala Lumpur for a 5+ hour drive. As we drove in to the city I got my first glimpse of the Petronas Towers the tallest buildings in the world (but still not as tall as the CN Tower in Toronto). I found a cool backpackers hotel in China Town where I finally had a chance to rest for a bit. Looking at my watch I realized I had been traveling for 36 hours.

     The next day I traveled to the Petronas Towers to go up to the sky bridge that links them together at the 41st and 42nd floors of the 88 floor towers. The bridge is actually a fire exit in case one of the towers catches fire. Quite clever I thought. I was also pleased to find a world class concert hall in there so I bought a ticket for the afternoon show and was treated to the world class Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and they also had a jaw dropping guest violinist, Cho-Liang Lin, performing with them as well.

     After 2 days there I took a bus to Singapore where I was able to meet up with a few

    people from Singapore Ultimate. I played pick-up with them on the Tuesday and the

    Thursday after which we went out for beer and dumplings.

    Then it was time to fly to Sydney where I was offered a place to stay by my friend Alana whom I had been traveling with in Nepal. Her friend Ian was kind enough to put

    up with me for a week. He lives right in Bondi Beach which was great even in the winter.

    By that time my website had grown quite popular among the Ultimate community and among the numerous kind letters I had received from many people around the world I

    started to get invitations from people asking me to come out and play with their league.

     In Sydney I was able to play Ultimate in their Monday League, Tuesday Men’s Hat

    League, a Wednesday practice game for "Feral" the Open team going to Worlds in Hawaii,

    and Saturday pick-up. I also got to watch the 2 Women’s teams going to Hawaii as well, 7

    Green Bottles, and Freya.

     Ian with whom I was staying is a lighting operator for the Sydney Opera House so I was

    able to get a full tour of all 5 venues and I was also able to sit with his friend Paul, the

    sound engineer for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, right in the middle of the concert hall,

    which was a real treat.

     I then flew into Christchurch, New Zealand which is a lovely small city that caters to

    the traveler. It is incredible there. First off the Airport Shuttle took me right to the front

    door of where I was staying, there are travel centers everywhere which do all of your

    bookings for free, there is a free! city bus service, there are countless guitar stores there,

    and well over 300 Hostels across the country which are all dirt cheap and all have kitchens,

    and laundry. It’s usually cheaper to buy a car there, travel all over for a few weeks then sell

    it when you leave. The insurance follows the car not the driver. Also the exchange rate is

    amazing; 1 US dollar equals 2 NZ dollars. I don't know why more people don't go there from

    North America.

    I spent a few weeks on the South Island visiting Queenstown where I was able to do some skiing in July at Coronet Peak and do an unbelievable 134M (440 feet) bungy jump

    from a cable car suspended over the Nevis Canyon. You can’t describe an 8 second free fall

    going 128 Kmh (80 Mph). It’s in the South Pacific movie if you want to see it.

    The best day in New Zealand was the day I left from Dunedin to take a tour of the Otago Peninsula to see the sea life. It was so incredible to see Albatross with 9 foot

    wingspans or Sea Lions and Fur Seals right in front of you lying on the beach. I couldn’t

    believe we actually got to see Penguins in the wild, what a site. That was maybe one of the

    best days of my whole trip. That’s in the movie too if you want to check it out.

    After a week of touring Auckland on the North Island it was time to journey to Hawaii, the site of the World Ultimate Club Championships (WUCC). 120 teams from 24

    countries and 2,350 Ultimate players. I was so excited, after 5 months of being away from

    my friends I was about to be surrounded by countless teams from around the world that I

    had played with including my own Toronto team “Aged to Perfection”. Little did I know I was

    about to meet a fair number of people who had come to know me through my website.

    Arriving in Waikiki, Hawaii I made my way to our cool little hotel and reacquainted myself with all my friends and teammates. I was so excited to find my skateboard there

    which my good friend Dean had agreed to bring with him. The next afternoon we attended

    the opening ceremonies for WUCC which was quite a cool experience seeing all the players in

    one place. Later at the party under the stars I would be asked by several people if I was

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