Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day 5 - Independence Square - Kiev, Ukraine

Wow, I can't believe it's my fifth day here and I finally got to spend some time in Independence Square...

I was just a lost for words... While there are areas of destruction and signs of battles, I felt real safe.  An abundance of Ukrainian flags, music, and an atmospheric ambiance of pride was all here.  I literally stood in one spot for almost an hour just allowing the energy of this site to permeate my soul...

Photo edited by Poli, http://alongcamepoli.blogspot.com

Soldiers walking around, eating, chatting... Reporters with their camera crews recording videos... Me, standing there, trying to imagine what happened at this very spot... Acknowledging what happened in the past, living in the present, and providing hope for the future...

Photo edited by Poli, http://alongcamepoli.blogspot.com
My words cannot do this justice... See for yourself and try to imagine...
Photo edited by Poli, http://alongcamepoli.blogspot.com
Photo edited by Poli, http://alongcamepoli.blogspot.com
Photo edited by Poli, http://alongcamepoli.blogspot.com

Special thanks to Poli, for editing the photos... Don't forget to check out her blog... 

Monday, April 14, 2014

TravelTalk - My 4th day in Kiev, Ukraine (danger vs fear)

 I swear all of my Couchsurfing hosts must think I am bipolar.  I am literally sending out messages like, I'm going to Warsaw, then 5 minutes later, I am staying here... let's go hang out for a drink...

Why am I writing about this.... well, I think there is a difference between danger versus fear.... Danger can be quantified and minimalized if certain steps are taken to remove your self from risk factors which causes the danger.  With that said, today, I was quite freaked out about going to a new place, on my own and even meeting other people today, I kinda did not want to be in public.

After meeting my new host (more about him below), doing laundry, taking a nap and waking up to the sun, I finally agreed to leave the house and hang out with Dmitriy (pictured below)...  Ha ha... 

Seriously... my texts to him were like...
D: Let's hang out
M: Perfect
D: Want to meet around 1400?
M: Kinda paranoid, don't want to leave the house because I got punched in the face twice.
D: I hope you are fine

After nap:
M: Hey let's hang out... 

While, I am not saying you should not be careful, you should calculate risk.  Yes, I was walking around by myself to meet Dmitriy, but it was in a public street, during daylight, with a bit of crowds walking around - that's not to say that I was perfectly calm... but hey, I'm starting to feel a lot better...  

I didn't taste this... just took the photo.

My first pizza in Kiev

My host Arseniy and sister - a jam session!
He's my 2nd host here in Kiev and he's really laid back, inspiring English teacher - which he shouldn't have any trouble, likes to travel as well... and is prone to freak accidents - toe nail and surfboard - in Bali... (interesting story)

Funny thing is, I almost missed out on all of these things today had I listened to my fear... and not the actual danger which was minimal, since I took common precautions, such as traveling during the day, not walking alone (if it could possible be averted), well, for those of reading the news, try not to freak out, everyone here is not really sure what is going to happen to the lack of military response from Ukraine... 

PS.  Apple - you are F***ing stupid.  WTF. I'm selling this iPad as soon as I get back to Spain.

 Mahalo for reading. Until next time.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

TravelTalk - My 2nd and 3rd day in Kiev, Ukraine

My 2nd day in Kiev was yesterday before the incident... (CLICK here to read about my run-in with extremists), and it was a pretty cool day, did a lot of walking around, the weather was grey, but it was still an interesting experience, the buildings have quite a grand difference between rich and poor and Ukrainian and former Soviet.

I'll be uploading more pictures on my Google+ - so don't forget to follow me!

These are my friends debating on which potatoes to pick... 

After walking around all morning, eating some tasty potatoes for lunch and taking a nap - it was time to hit the town.  It was also a celebration party because in the group, someone just bought a house... hell yeah!  

The food was tasty, everything from tomatoes, pickles, red cabbages, cheese sticks, fried chicken to a meat and potato dish... oh yeah and beer.

Well, these party people obviously didn't go home... lol incident...

Third day...
The weather wasn't perfect... it was cold and chilly... 

After the incident, I'm just a bit more paranoid, this afternoon we spent about 3 hours walking and taking pictures and I would be always conscious of the people around me, how many they were, height, ages, if there is anything I could grab while walking, positioning myself between the three of us so I'd have more time to react (something that kind of comes instinctively for me).

Under normal circumstances, I would have enjoyed the breathtaking sights that was in front of me, however, today I was in a different kind of mind set... scanning the area and looking for groups of people.  Beatiful nonetheless, hopefully tomorrow brings a more peaceful day.

Unfortunately, I think I am a bit too paranoid, who knows, maybe I should be paranoid.  Now, I am contemplating on flying to Warsaw tomorrow or staying a couple more days.  

I'll guess you'll see in the morning... hahaha

PS.  The swelling on my face has declined dramatically... looks kinda normal... kinda... lol

 Mahalo for reading. Until next time.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

TravelTalk - A run in with extremists in Kiev, Ukraine

It was about 130am earlier today, (which was quite a fun day).

Once we decided to leave the bar, there weren't many people, as soon as I stepped outside I saw group of men wearing hooded masks, (kinda like something a skier would wear, so you can only see their eyes), I knew what it automatically meant and I tried to rush to the taxi.

The three of us (me and two of my friends live here in Kiev), were cut off by a couple of members, what happened next, happened quite quickly.  I remember someone lunging towards me, I managed to swerve and miss, but there were too many of them, after a punch in a face (which looks a lot worse than it actually feels), I went into the fetal position protecting my face, I recall getting kicked in the back.  

There were many people circling me, some people offering me a hand, I grabbed the wrong hand as others were trying to pull me back into the club I got punched another time in the face.  I made it inside after, shaken, but I wasn't in too much pain, kinda uncomfortable... I was more concerned for my friend who had a bloody nose...

From there, we called the police and waited, the police asked for identification (which of course, I don't have because I don't carry my passport with me), but they didn't really need it.  There were 6-7 of them in full uniform guarding the front.  They exchanged conversation in Ukrainian/Russian, they assured me everything would be safe, and it was.  After what felt like 5-6 rounds of handshakes, a quick conversation in Spanish with a spectator, we hopped into the taxi straight home.

Yes, while I'm shaken, I still can't wait to see the rest of Kiev... Just a couple of notes, try not to go out at night, if you have to with your group, just be vigilant...

 Mahalo for reading. Until next time.

Friday, April 11, 2014

TravelTalk - First 6 hours in Kiev, Ukraine

OMG... You're going to Ukraine?
OMG... You're going to Ukraine?
OMG... You're going to Ukraine?

Yes... not only am I going, but I am already in Ukraine.

My first 6 hours here has been quite amazing.  I landed, was greeted with weather that is similar to Galician winter (without the rain), had no issues with customs (the only thing that was kinda funny was he showed my passport photo to the guy next to him, as kinda of a joke if it was me... yes, my hair is quite different) nor with finding the skybus (which is what you will need to go into the city), once you leave the terminal (D), its right outside.

On the bus, a guy sat down next to me and started talking to me in English - super cool guy, he's Ukrainian and just came from Denmark - he let me use his phone and also showed me on my metro map (which I printed before coming) where to go... and he even gave me money - hahaha... yes... I didn't have any local currency so he gave me 10 hryvnia (about $0.90) which was enough for 5 one way trips on the subway.  =D Thanks to him... I talked to my host and changed my metro stop...

My host is super cool... he doesn't speak a lot of English, but he's learning and he's super friendly... he even has a twin, but besides physical features, they're two completely different people. 

After getting settled in... I had some homemade Ukrainian food... Yup... really good... that salo.. #nomnomnom  ha ha ha.

Well, then off to the pub.. which had live music where the 3rd runner up of Ukraine's Got Talent was playing.  After a couple of beers, shots of tequila, a couple of cigarettes, made a new friend (whose name was also Max - kinda random... ha ha ha), it was one of his friend's birthday - so free Vodka shots!!!

It was a pretty cool night.  There was one run in with a bunch of guys, while I don't want to label them as extremist, this group of guys were wearing masks and walking down the street, and one shoved me... (which wasn't a big deal), thanks to everyone else around of me who surrounded me... 

While there is tension in Ukraine, its not going to stop me from getting to know this city and its people.

If you live your life in fear...

Mahalo for reading. Until next time.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Random Update - #selfie

Yes, some of my friends make fun of me because of my work schedule, but I am seriously really, really busy!  I am leaving for Madrid then Kyiv (Kiev) in less than 20 hours and I still haven't packed.

Yup, I haven't even had time to go to the gym!  I'm going to try to squeeze in a quick trip to the swimming pool later today... even though I have tons of things to do... The last 2 night I went out to dinner... I've been eating so much (well I normally eat a lot anyways, but more than normal... #oinkoink).  

There are so many things I need to do, (I haven't even had a chance to write about my weekend in Las M├ędulas), nor the three things I love about Galicia... (yes, I do love Galicia!).  Yes, I still need to record videos (I am behind on that as well - don't worry I have many video ideas lined up!)  

Anyways... quick blog... hahaha, what do I do after getting an awesome haircut?


Will be updating this blog with more #selfies.

 Mahalo for reading. Until next time.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Hair Today - Gone Tomorrow - Donating Hair.

I donate my hair every two years and this weekend just seemed like the perfect time!

There are many companies which accepts hair for donation to create wigs for cancer patients.

This one is my favorite one - +Pantene  Beatiful Lenghts.

Some general rules...

#1 - Take a bunch of selfies... you've been growing out your hair... 

#2 - Follow the directions, set by the company you will donate your hair to, 

#3 - Have some fun - You deserve it!  Do something Funky!

#4 - Take a pic with your hairstylist! Thanks +Kat O'Connor 

#5 - Mail in your hair!


CHECK OUT MY YOUTUBE VIDEOS HERE: http://www.youtube.com/user/hawaiiinsomniac/videos 
Mahalo for reading. Until next time.