For year’s I’ve clowned the “selfie” movement. But in 2016 I decided to give it a try. And to be honest, it’s kind of fun. Now I’ll never be Kardashian level selfie. But it’s fun capturing quick candid moments. Maybe in 2017 i’ll get a phone with a better front camera. Good full Zoolander for yall. So here are my favorite selfie moments of 2016. Don’t forget to follow the links. Extra goodness to be had.
First Times Square Selfie
This was the beginning of my downward spiral into selfie hell. I KEED I KEED!!!! It’s a wonder I’ve never had my picture taken in NYC. The Iconic Time Square, shortly after NYE was the perfect place to get this little project going. Like many, I’ve always love NYC. The energy, the noise, the chaos. All appeal to my personality type. I hope to live here a few months someday but for the time being, i’ll take a selfie.
I love meeting up with friends while traveling. But it’s a special thing when friends trust me with their loved ones. This is the little sister of a good friend of mine from Germany. She was touring Southeast Asia and was staying at the same hostel that her brother and I met at four years ago. So in true German fashion, we got drunk.
Locked Up Abroad, Bangkok Edition
A common claim around the world, if you have enough money you can buy your way out of anything. Well in Thailand it’s entirely true. After a particularly debaucherous night out with the fellas, I receive a call around noon the next day. NO ONE calls me, ever. When I answered it was a friend of mine. He quickly explained to me that the Thai police were “messing” with him and he need help getting out of jail. Around 50,000 ($1300) baht worth of help.
Long story short, he was WRONG and deserved to be in jail after we found out the details of what happened. But, you don’t leave friends behind. That jails are an intriguing place. After we arrived with the money, the price went up. Simply put, we had to pay around 100,000 ($2600) baht to get him out of jail. No charges files. No records. Free and clear. That’s Thailand and westerner privilege.
I took this selfie at his cell. Which we could just walk up to and give him food and drinks. It’s like an old western movie out here.
Grappa in Bologna
While working my yearly travel conference in London a spritely young woman approached me. Her family owns a beautiful Boutique hotel in Bologna and she invited me to come and visit. She also organized a wonderful food tour during my visit. And might I say, it was easily one of the best “press” trips I’ve done. Not only was this small hotel charming, but the tour was possibly my favorite ever. And ya’ll know I love a good food tour.
This gentleman was part of a group of friends from Norway. Nine men who had been friends for decades. And every year they take a boy’s trip somewhere new and explore cultural events. They chose Bologna and happened to be on the same tour as I was. This was shot after having Grappa.
Andrew the Baptist
I meet some CHARACTERS traveling the world. But Andrew stands out. I don’t like extreme religious types. Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, whatever. Andrew is a devout Christian. Coming from a non-religious background, he’s fully dedicated his life to traveling and converting the masses. And when I say convert, I mean disciple level. He tried to convert the girl in this picture. Andrew is an interesting man for me. As I said, these types normally annoy the hell out of me. But Andrew has a certain charm about him. And he never came at me again once I told him I wasn’t interested. Which I have respect for. After we met I headed off to Italy and returned a few weeks later. I went shopping at a grocery store and who did I run into at the food court? Andrew telling some young Romanians about Jesus Christ. I couldn’t believe it. The guy is committed. I believe he’s currently in Tel Aviv but not sure because he doesn’t have any social media. . It’s impressive because he’s traveling with very little money. Only barter. Work in exchange. Staying in the most meager accommodations.
Finding Clinton in Kosovo
Like Desert Storm, the Yugoslav Wars were my conflict growing up. These were the conflicts that I saw on the news. We talked about in school. Wars that are conveniently glossed over in today’s conflict narratives. These were the first, and to date only, wars in Europe after WW2. And reshaped Europe into what we know today. Chief amongst these was the Kosovo War. An ethnic conflict that lasted from 1998-1999 until the UN intervened. I won’t go into detail but look up the Račak massacre. This will give you some insight into what happened. And let me tell you, traveling through the Balkans region is interesting, to say the least. I honestly felt like a fight could break out between these countries again. Especially given that some countries, including neighbors Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria, don’t recognize Kosovo as a country. And don’t get me going on the Greece-Macedonia name beef.
This made for an interesting visit to my 90th country, Kosovo. Kosovo is VERY pro-American. Given the UN intervention into the war was led by the U.S. and General Wesley Clark. As you can see, there’s a massive Bill Clinton statue in the center of the city.
I Can Be A Tourist in Italy
By total accident, Italy is now my most visited country. I’ve been to every major city and have visited it more than any other place. Pisa was a special surprise. There isn’t anything unique about it like Venice. Nothing truly historic like Rome. But the city has a laid-back charm I enjoyed. Once I ventured away from the Duomo area, the city revealed itself.
Racial Profiling in Medan Indonesia and The Human Spirit
Sometimes fate puts you in positions to meet people that will change you for the better. This man, Mr. Dickey, went out of his way to show me the “locals” side of this city. All while trying to supervise two events at his 7-floor hotel where I’m staying. I learned more about Indonesia spending one day with this man than I had in five trips here before. A friend asked me recently why everyone smiles at me while we walked down the street. I said, it’s because I smile at them. And meeting people like Mr. D is why I’ll never lose my faith in people. This same day I was racially profiled (admitted by the immigration officer when I asked) at the airport. I could have let that ruin my visit. But I kept it moving as I tend to do. And was greatly rewarded for it. Also, he got me to eat Stingray for the first time. Not bad.
Motorcycle Tour with Tours By Samadhi
While on assignment in Kuala Lumpur with Secret Retreats at the absolutely stunning Villa Samadhi, I was asked did I want to take a private tour. OF COURSE, I do. And what a tour it was. Granted, it’s not for everyone. This was a motorcycle tour from Kuala Lumpur to Fraser’s Hill, about 100km away. Fraser’s Hill doesn’t offer much. The true attraction is the open road. Seeing how “raw” Malaysia is outside of Kuala Lumpur. Wonderful tour.
Thai Wedding Opulence and Great Friends
Anyone that knows me, know’s I take friendship very seriously. Family are friends you’re forced to hold on to. True friends are the ones you choose to hold on to. These two guys have proven to be damn good friends in an industry that doesn’t breed particularly loyal people. This was from Ric’s wedding. A ridiculously opulent affair where we all drank far too much. As you can tell by my crown and Ian’s Leopard scarf. The day after was rough. And i’ll say it again, Ric’s wife is amazing. One of my favorite people despite the fact she keeps trying to marry me off to her friends. Might work actually.
Eurotrip Starts in Copenhagen
This was the start of my train tour of western Europe with Rail Europe. I had an absolute blast but what made my trip was catching up with friends like this. Mikkel and his wonderful girlfriend, who tolerates our craziness, Malene have been inviting me to Copenhagen for years. I was able to briefly visit in 2015 but only for dinner. This time I was able to stay 5 days. It’s great having friends around the world to travel and explore with. They introduced me to the stunning Frederiksborg Castle In Hillerød.
Living Like Bond in Monaco
Country counting, ENGAGE!!!! I was going to save Monaco for my final country but as I’ve been on this journey, I’ve realized I need to visit when I can. Monaco was country 92 and where I currently stand on this adventure. Not sure what countries 2017 will bring but I hope to at least hit 100. Looks like the next will be Belarus. Also, Monaco is a damn car show. It’s ridiculous.
Making New Friends in Paris
I love meeting new people traveling. And these two will forever hold a special place in my heart. Some people you just click with. And I have a feeling us three have many more adventures to go.
Exploring Paris with Oneika the Traveller
OMG OMG OMG!!!!! It’s Oneikaaaaaaaaaaa. There are very few people that I would say inspire me. Oneika is one of them. I have absolutely no idea where she finds the drive to do what she does but it’s damn impressive. After a couple of years of narrowly missing each other, we finally committed to meeting in Paris. As we were both doing our thing, we only had one day. Paris wasn’t ready for this much swag. Expect more in the future. We should start a travel show or something.
Lesson on Life From Jay on Life
This woman is truly amazing. I’ve followed here journey for quite some time. And she’s the epitome of grace and determination. Prior to us meeting, I watched her question the Minister of Tourism to India about handicapped accessibility in India tourism. Fearless. Oh, did I mention she travels the world while living with Polio? Which honestly, I didn’t know anything about until I discovered her. When people make excuses why they can’t do something, I point them to jayonlife.com.
Jubril the Chocolate Man
The original traveling brother. I can’t tell you how many times over the year’s people have asked me do I know of Jubril. Yes. Jubril hit the scene a few years ago with his life in Thailand videos and Facebook marketing work. He was a pioneer in the game and is still innovating. He’s possibly the most recognizable face in black travel next to Oneika. We casually ran into each other at the World Travel Market Conference. Having interacted online for years.
Becoming a Romanian Godfather
Words can’t do this experience justice so check out the videos here and here. People wonder why I love Romania so much. It’s because of the people. People like Alin who asked me to be Godfather to his son. A community that welcomed me and my culture to share in theirs. The humility I feel comes from a deep place of appreciation because I don’t know if I deserve it yet.
Istanbul Will Always Be Home
The Hagia Sofia holds a special place in my heart. You see, growing up in Cleveland was tough. Very tough. And seeing the Hagia Sofia in magazines made it seem so grand. Special. Exotic. Exactly what I always wanted. To escape my surroundings and find something new. The Hagia Sofia, in my 10-year-old mind, was the furthest place away. So to find myself here again shows me how far I’ve come in my life, career, and journey. Istanbul will always be home to me.