Best Moments of 2012

2012 was definitely an interesting year for me. I had a lot of changes in my life (mostly good), met a lot of new/interesting people, surfed a lot of different waves, and experienced many unique cultures. These photos are a representation of the different moments that impacted me throughout the year.

Happy New Year!

January 2012
Ringing in the New Year with my parents in Huntington Beach, CA. Little did I know that later in the year I would be moving back to the West Coast.

February 2012
Morocco was an amazing place... great surf, beautiful scenery, delicious food, and friendly locals. This was also my frist experience in a Muslim country. It's a very beautiful culture with respectful traditions (also managed to sneak away to Marrakech for a day). 

March 2012
My last trip to Asia while working for New Balance (definitely miss all the people I worked with and learned from over the years)... I also finally managed to capture a photo of a family of 5 on a motorbike while in Vietnam! 

April 2012
My last spring season in Boston... spring and fall are definitely the best time of year to be in New England. It's awesome to see everything coming back to life in April. 

May 2012
Peru is a country of contrasts and extremes... giant mountains, lush jungles, barren desserts, and waves that can be measured in miles. This was definitely one of the best "surf trips" I've been on. 

June 2012
My last night in Boston. 

July 2012
Welcome to my new home in Santa Barbara!

August 2012
Fiji reminded me of many places, but was unlike anywhere I had ever been. It reminded me of Hawaii because of the plant life and polynesian culture. It reminded me of the Caribbean because of the crystal clear waters and beautiful coral reefs. It reminded me of the Maldives because of the tiny islands and because your main source of transportation was boats. It was also one of the only surf trips I've been on where I was hoping for the waves to get smaller (still have scars from hitting the reef during this trip). 

September 2012
A walk through the Golden Gate State Park. It's awesome to be a short drive from San Francisco and so many other cool places. Given Santa Barbara's location, it feels like every weekend is a mini vacation. 

October 2012
My first trip to Asia with UGG. I was lucky enough to go on a side trip to the Shaolin Temple while visiting. It was great hanging out with the new team and getting to know everyone a bit better. 

November 2012
"A Very Tropical Thanksgiving" (in the Dominican Republic). I successfully convince my parents to go on a little holiday to the Dominican... and we happened to stay right in front of the one of the best waves in the Caribbean!

December 2012
Christmas time with the family in Chicago. 

Stockings Hung On the Chimney With Care

Waking up on Christmas morning, the first thing I would do was run down the stairs and look at all presents that had been "delivered". It was definitely one of the most exciting times of the year. This was the first view I would get of the Christmas tree and fireplace in the background. My brother and I were allowed to open up any presents in our stockings... but had to wait until later in the day to see what was under the tree. It definitely helped build up the excitement. 

Oh Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree is the centerpiece of a house during the holidays. However, when I was young, it was my least favorite item to decorate (which is probably why I've never gotten one for my own apartment). We would spend hours putting the tree together, hanging lights, replacing broken lights, unwrapping ornaments, hanging ornaments (there were hundreds upon hundreds). My brother and I would actually go in shifts. Each year I tried to convince my mom to reduce the amount of ornaments... but each one had special meaning to her and brought back memories. Therefore, I was never successful.

These are a few photos I took of my parent's tree this holiday. Can you see the tree underneath the ornaments?

Lighting Up the Christmas Spirit

When I was young, one of my favorite things about this time of year was looking at all of the houses decorated with lights. It always felt kind of "magical". My family never went overboard with the decorations on the outside of the house (maybe went a little overboard on the decorations inside the house)... but it always looked quite nice.

These are a few photos I took of my parent's home this year... my mom and dad are still keeping the tradition alive.
(wonder how much power is wasted during this time of year?)

Christmas Time

I was looking through the photos I took during the Christmas holiday and tried to find one that I felt best represented the feeling of this time of year. For whatever reason, this one caught my eye... fireplace heating the room, stockings hung with care, ornaments on the tree, colorful lights, dark setting, warm colors... can't help but get a warm/cozy feeling looking at this setting. 

Temple Silhouettes

Temples and shrines make for pretty awesome sunset silhouettes. Bali life!

Bali Life

Despite being part of a country with the largest muslim population in the world, the primary religion in Bali is Hindu. Religion (and family) are a big part of people's lives in Bali... and this is extremely evident when exploring the country. Puras (temples) and shrines are everywhere... and with an estimated 20,000 puras, Bali is know as "the island of a thousand puras" or "island of the Gods". The temples feature intricate details/textures and are very beautiful. The first photo in this series is one of the many temples in Canggu.

Family is also a very important part of the culture. Unlike western cultures, where children leave the home when they come of age, families in Bali live together in compounds and stay together throughout life. Everything an individual earns goes to the family and is shared. It makes for a very interesting way of life.

The other photos (and video) in this series are from inside a family's compound. I was lucky enough to be invited inside to celebrate a ceremony with them. Ceremonies take place almost every week (which makes it difficult to do business in Bali since employees will be taking lots of time off)... I happened to be there during the midst of a ten day festival called Galungan. It was pretty awesome to share this experience with the family.
(The gamelan music in the video is pretty sick... has a great beat)

If you look closely, one kid learned how to use his middle finger (I promise that I did not teach him that).
Too cool
Yes, those are peppers in the pig's noise/mouth/head.

Magical Garden

When I was staying in Bali, this is what greeted me every time I returned to the villa. It was like I was walking into some type of magical garden. It almost doesn't seem real... 

One More Wave

A lone paddle boarder heads out for one more wave before the sun goes down. I loved the colors of the sky and ocean this evening.

Footprints In the Sand...

There is an ancient Greek saying that "the sea can wash away all evils"... and a wide range of cultures have sacralized the sea, trusting in its power to wash away what is dangerous, dirty, and morally contaminating. The sea makes life on land possible by keeping it "pure." In this particular photo, footprints are in the process of slowly washing away with the incoming tide. Shortly after, all traces that a couple walked by will have vanished from sight... only the memory remains. 

Bali Evenings

Every weekend the villagers from Canggu gather on the beach to enjoy the last moments of the day and watch the sunset together. There are street vendors (with AMAZING grilled corn), families, super competitive soccer games (if the tide is low enough), teenagers, lovers, pets, and just about anyone you can think of (including tourists like me). The hour before the sun goes down is the best time of day in Bali... the temperature cools down, the sand becomes tolerable to walk on, and the sunsets are worth the cost of a plane flight. I thought the first picture was a good representation of the crowd. The stone steps act as the stadium while the ocean and nature put on a show.

The other pictures in this set are of a fishing village further down the beach. The fisherman head out on the boats after dinner... and they stay out all night (or until they catch enough fish). If you're ever in Bali and wonder what all of those lights are in the middle of the ocean at night, it's these little boats. Also, if you wake up early enough in the morning, you can see all of the boats coming in. It's a pretty cool site... and if you help the boat drivers come in, you might score some super fresh seafood.

Bali Gold!

More "sunset porn" from Bali. Enjoy!

Want to go for a walk on the beach?

The pathway between two towns in Canggu... the sand acts as a natural "boardwalk" in Bali (much more convenient than trying to find a paved road). 

Indonesian Dreamin' On Such a Winter Day

I'm not exactly sure why, but Bali will always have a special place in my heart. I've traveled to better and less crowded surf locations and have seen beaches that are just as or more beautiful. Perhaps it's because I've always visited Bali after experiencing a different extreme in the heavily industrialized Southern China (which skews my perception a bit)... perhaps it's because of all the interesting/friendly people I've met while traveling in the country... or perhaps it's because my expectations have always been wildly exceeded in terms of accommodations ($40/night for beachfront villa), food ($4 for giant tuna steak), and the graciousness of strangers. Regardless of the reasons, Bali is an awesome place. In my opinion, this photo is a pretty good representation of its awesomeness. 

Langostinos a la Papi

The little beach town of Cabarete is an unspoiled gem. It doesn't get the massive amount of tourists that flood into Punta Cana or some of the other resorts towns. However, it's just as beautiful. For the most part, Cabarete is free of major developments and maintains a local vibe (have the recession to thank/blame for that). There is one large hotel further up the beach and some of the bars can get a bit noisy... however, if you want to experience a relaxing Dominican beach town with local flavor, Cabarete is the place to go.

On this particular evening, I got a tip about a little seafood restaurant that specialized in langostinos and camarĂ³nes: La Casita De Dom Alfredo Papi. I was warned that the prices would be a bit high and it's the one place that will be filled with tourists... however, the langostinos a la Papi were supposed to be "to die for". Plus, the ambiance of eating on a beach (during winter) with the sand in your toes was worth a few extra dollars. My parents and I decided to give Papis a try. The food was great and the service was extremely slow (which was perfect since we had no where to go!)... got to enjoy our surroundings all evening.

(sorry, the langostinos were gone before I could take a photo)

Life After People

Just next to the condo I was staying at in the Dominican was this giant abandoned property. Walking around it made me feel like I was in one of those post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies... kind of expected zombies to jump out from one of the rooms.

After asking a few locals, I figured out that this building was meant to be a plastic surgery hospital. Apparently, millions of dollars were invested in this project... and the engineers in charge of it decided that they liked money more than building things. Therefore, before the project was even halfway finished, they bailed with the money and were never seen again. The abandoned building has now been sitting here for over 5 years. According to the locals, it has found a second life as a sanctuary for homeless people and drug addicts. 

Fresh Fruit While You Wait

If I had not been in the midst of drinking an ice cold Presidente, I might have enjoyed some fresh fruit juice from one of the women balancing baskets on their head. They were not successful selling to me this afternoon, but the business seemed to be thriving with the other tourists on the beach. 

"Ice Cold" Presidentes

In the Dominican, when they say that the beer is "ice cold", they literally mean it... the beer is kept buried in ice and is served just above freezing temperatures. It's a great refreshment after spending an afternoon in the hot caribbean sun.