GAYS WITH PASSPORTS

A blog for globetrotting gays with travel advice, photos, personal stories and more!

Surfing in Gay Salvador August 27, 2009

Filed under: Central America,El Salvador — gayswithpassports @ 7:20 pm
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SurfingElSalvadorGoing on vacation sometimes means a high end resort with great service, food and amenities. Well when it’s a surfing trip to one of Latin America’s poorest countries, you throw out all your expectations. When my boyfriend and I landed in San Salvador, the capitol of El Salvador, we took a half hour cab ride to his friend’s house where we were greeted by three very hot straight surfer boys. We both knew we were here to strictly surf, so we wanted to avoid the whole resort mindset. Our friend’s house was around the resort area of Punta Roca, in Puerto La Libertad, so even though we weren’t apart of the resort, we felt safe. However, at night it’s a different story, so if you do chose to escape the resort idea just make sure you stay with some locals or someone who is very familiar with the culture and area.

The beaches around the Punta Roca area were totally awesome because depending on the beaches they were beginner, intermediate and really advanced waves. My boyfriend and I started off the first day of the trip at the beginner beach just so we could get used to the waves again. Of course our surfer friends just goofed off and waited patiently until we were ready to move on to the waves we’re normally used to. We spent a week in El Salvador and would wake up everyday really early to catch the morning waves, hang out on the beach during the day, play beach volleyball and beach soccer then go back into the water to catch more waves. The water is a beautiful blue and with an enjoyable warm temperature. The ocean’s warm water made it very fun for late night skinny dipping with my boyfriend, and of course our surfer buddies and their girls! If you are totally into surfing and cant afford Bali or Fiji, I recommend El Salvador for its awesome waves and its affordable economy.

Guest Post by Joe S.

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Samurai Swords and AK-47s in Sihanoukville, Cambodia August 26, 2009

Filed under: Asia,Cambodia,Sihanoukville — gayswithpassports @ 8:41 pm
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Imagine this: Luscious green tropical trees surround you and the Bahama blue coastline of Sihanoukville at your footsteps. You are sitting under the shady breeze of a bungalow, sipping on some ridiculously fresh coconut juice. Now, picture you and 41 other perky university students enjoying a good time playing cards, eating fresh seafood and exotic fruits and swimming in the super chill Gulf of Thailand. With no worries in the world, you relax and let time fly by. At this moment, you are at absolute peace.

This was no dream.

But just then and there, your concept of peace and your sense of tranquility become tainted to the reality that plagues Cambodia.

Two vehicles loom in the distance comes to a screeching halt. As they step foot out of their plush Land Cruisers, a mushroom of mafia-style smoke hovers over them. (Feels like a scene out of some Tarantino flick)

Their clique had no more than 15 people. All but two were males aged 21 to 25 at most. They had nice, clean, casual clothes. However, the two girls had on some of the skimpiest outfit I have ever seen. (Yeah, even skimpier than the Asian girls at the University of Washington during spring quarter!). Anyways, my instincts rubbed off negative vibes. I had a gut feeling that they were “bad news.”

An hour after their arrival, my instincts began to take form. The first sign–large consumption of alcohol. Contrary to the TV commercial, Red Bull does not give you wings, especially when mixed with Angkor Beer–it just makes you rowdy. Second, excessive smoking. I swear I could barely see their faces in the cloud of smoke they were puffing. And then their irrational behavior. Who in their sane mind would run around the beach yelling like wild baboons? Sure you can argue that these activities and behaviors are common among young adults, and rightfully, that is true. But let me drop in the final variable–guns.

Not one, not two, but I counted them all–13! Everyone had a small pistol stashed at their back, tucked underneath their nicely pressed shirts. This frightening discovery was made when a couple of the guys began to playfully wrestle each other. They pulled the guns out without fear but everyone around the vicinity including us felt uneasy of the situation.

The four of us nonchalantly brushed off what we saw by continuing to play cards. Several more games later, the group got noisier and rowdier putting us on higher alert of our surroundings. Their wrestling’s got more physical and at times, I wasn’t sure if they were playing for real. Out of nowhere, one the guys run to their car. At this moment it felt as though everyone on the beach was cautiously watching the chain of events that was unraveling right in from of our eyes.

“Why is he running off to the car?”

“Is he really mad or what?”

“Or is all of this an act? They weren’t wrestling for real, were they?”

All of us pondered these questions in our mind but we were hesitant to answer them.

I blinked for a second.

Now, all I see in front is a demonically possessed Freshie boy with a large AK-47 in hand. My heart skipped a beat. I had never seen a massive piece of arms in front of my own two eyes until now. I was terrified beyond words.

With the AK strapped around his shoulder, the man came dashing towards the guy who he was wrestling with earlier. One man held him back, as though a fight was to erupt. We all held our breaths.

In the midst of the heightened tension and chaos, I started to ponder the worst case scenario and the well-being of my close friends. The four of us, quietly trying to avoid attention, began to make our refuge. We tip-toed, one-by-one towards the high deck bar for cover.

Another man intervened.

Reflecting back, he was likely the “leader” within the group. I could not make out his words but apparently what he had said squashed the conflict. The AK was no where in sight after I made an attempt to look over the counter.

The tension had dissipated. The four of us convened. It was a group consensus: We need to leave this area now. But night has befallen on us. Our original plan was to sleep on the beach. And our bus had already left to headquarter for maintenance and won’t return until next morning. What to do?

Option B: Talk a stroll (a rather long one) on the beach away from the “gangsters” in hopes that upon our return, the group leaves. In the barely lit beach of Ocheteal, we walked with complaint, catching our breaths and reflecting the earlier encounter. One of my friends had mentioned that prior to the wrestling incident; he caught one of their men playing with a large samurai sword in the back. In addition, another person in our group also noticed a large stash of guns in one of their two vehicles while they were out changing into their swimming clothes.

Over an hour had passed when we returned to our original beach site. The majority of our friends were playing beach games on the sand. I glanced over towards the area where the other group was at and realize that over half of the original number had left. The six or so that remained was still drinking and smoking up a storm. I still kept a watchful eye on them as we sat on the beach chairs catching the breeze. Another 45 minutes or so had gone and too, were the last remnants of the gangsters.

In all of my 25 years, I have never been put in the position where my safety and physical well-being was such at a high risk. In all of my 25 years, I have never seen a gun larger than the size of a hand pistol. And in all of my 25 years, I have never felt so defenseless as I did that weekend in Sihanoukville.

Cambodian_AK-47

Guest Post by Heterosexual-Khmerican: Phatry.

Phatry Derek Pan is a Cambodian-American freelance writer who has lived and traveled throughout SE Asia. You may contact him at info@phatryderekpan.com

 

Gays in Thailand

Filed under: Asia,Koh Tao,Thailand — gayswithpassports @ 3:46 am

MtnViewFeaturing landscapes straight out of Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach, Koh Tao, Thailand  is an idyllic island located near the eastern shore of the Gulf of Thailand and is one of a small chain of four islands, the largest of which is the better known Koh Samui. If you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing and cheap way to get some sun, sand and ocean, Koh Tao is the place to be! Aside to scuba Divers (both pros and wannabes): Koh Tao features some of the most beautiful dive sites in the world.

Getting There: Bus/Boat v. Plane/Boat There are two ways that you can get to Koh Tao and both of them involve a two-hour boat ride, which is somewhat of a mixed-blessing since it makes it a little less accessible, but it also means you have more beach to yourself and smaller groups for diving expeditions. You can either catch an air-conditioned private VIP bus from Bangkok for about $25-40 depending on time of year that includes a ticket for a high-speed Catamaran from the mainland pier at Chumpon or you can fly to Koh Samui from Bangkok (approximately $240 as of August 2009 & mostly via Bangkok Airways; limited trips by Thai Airways) and catch one of the regularly scheduled Catamarans heading towards the Chumpon Pier, which stops at Koh Tao on the way. The two considerations you have to take into account are time and cost. If you choose to go by bus, I’d suggest taking the night bus leaving from the Khao San vicinity. It will leave at about 9:30pm or so and you will step off the boat and onto Koh Tao around noon the next day. On the other hand, you can catch one of a number of flights leaving BKK daily to Koh Samui and catch one of a number of trips from Samui to Koh Tao (keep in mind that you’ll have to pay another $13 or so for the boat fare). Either way, it’ll be another $2-3/person for a “taxi” ride to where you’re staying.

What To Do & Where to Stay: Accommodations range from air-conditioned villas at $150/night to fan-cooled huts at $15/night. Koh Tao doesn’t really have a main drag, but if it did, it would actually be Sairee beach and the small paved/dirt/cobblestone road that roughly follows it. Aside from laying in the sun and swimming in the clear, azure waters, you can find a diverse array of culinary delights on the island. One of my favorites is a bakery that is actually operated by a team of Burmese women. Also, did I already mention that Koh Tao is one of the premier diving destinations in the world? BeachBungalow

Chumphon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post by Hong @ his personal blog.

 

Gay in Granada August 23, 2009

Filed under: Europe,Granada,Spain — gayswithpassports @ 9:13 pm
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Granada

While visiting Granada you can’t avoid noticing the Middle Eastern influence on the clothing, architecture, and food. I loved walking along the smaller streets there and bargaining with the local shop owners for a colorful clothing and trinkets. *You may need to pick up an extra bag to take home some of your newly acquired souvenirs!* I brought along baggage with extra room, but also ended up needing more space.

Granada is also home to some of the best Shawarma in Spain. Shawarma is a middle-eastern dish filled with yummy veggies and your choice of lamb, chicken, pork or a halal – a mixture of meats. Don’t miss out on this local treat.

No trip to Grandada is complete without a visit to the Alhambra! It’s the most visited site in Spain. Just try to visit it on a Sunday morning, you may just avoid the hustle and bustle common to busy tourist sites like I was able to. Seriously, it was great! I recommend researching a good deal on a tour guide before going. Tour groups will allow you to see parts of the Alhambra in private and learn interesting history about the Alhambra’s cultural significance to Spain.

Don’t forget to visit the beach while you’re so close to Spain’s southern coast! 30 minutes away from city center is the  Municipio de Salobrena. Playa de Salobrena has some great small cliffs for diving. There are few tourists there but plenty of locals doing some crazy cliff diving! You can dive from 30 to 40 feet up and jump head first (some dive with their hands behind their backs!  After the beach, I suggest walking up the main street, Avenida Salobrena, and stopping at the restaurant,  Il Padrino. It’s named for The Godfather movies and you can even buy a shirt with the Godfather Logo on it. The restaurant is run by a couple of very friendly and funny English folks. The Pizza is tasty and I highly recommend a visit. Salobrena

– Guest Post by Oscuro816

 

Gays and the Jungle

Filed under: Asia,Cambodia,Siem Reap — gayswithpassports @ 6:00 pm
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Templeអង្គរវត្ត – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Adventure Gays lucky enough to make it to Cambodia, a small southeast nation sandwiched between its much more tourist popular Thailand and Vietnam, will find a real adventure experience . Think – Tomb Raider -the film was shot there and Jolie even picked up a souvenir with a faux hawk. In the heart of Cambodia, lays the Angkor Wat Temple complex, the largest religious monument in the world and the former capitol of the Angkor Kingdom. Over a thousand years old, these breathtaking ruins are still in use as a sacred place for the majority Theravada Buddhist Cambodian people. It has survived centuries of wars and natural decay and is currently being restored by the UNESCO as a world heritage site. It is a must see for anyone traveling in the region. Travel Tip: Rent bicycles!! Many of the tourists visiting Angkor Wat are Koreans or Japanese who arrive on tour busses to visit the main temple at sunset and then leave. Others, with some more time on their hand,  may take a tuk tuk (motor bike pulling a carriage) or may even rent their own motor bike with or without a driver. Renting a bicycle costs no more than 5 dollars for the entire day and allows you to visit all the temples at your own pace. The roads are well maintained for bicycles and a map and good signage will prevent you from getting lost. Note: You may get tired, it may rain on you and you may sweat alot, but it is definately worth it! Information on bike rentals will be available at any hotel or guesthouse in the area. BikePhotoAngkor Wat

 

Madrid in the Summer

Filed under: Europe,Madrid,Spain — gayswithpassports @ 3:10 am
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Madrid

Madrid gets to be very hot in the summer time. But if you’re worried about your hair going “poof!” you can relax. You’ll find that Madrid is scarcely humid and the driest place I’ve been to in Spain. Just check out the summer forecast for yourself. Go ahead! I’ll wait. But for fun and for the sake of keeping cool, try beating the heat out-doors and in awful non-air-conditioned buildings, buy yourself a cheap fan from one of the vendors sitting on the ground in Madrid’s main plaza, Puerta Del Sol, or “Sol” for short. These fun fans which can double as souvenirs back home, are on almsot every street surrounding Sol and will cost you 2 euros. They’re medium-sized and mostly made of thin metal. Fans come in all shapes and sizes for all types of travellers. They’re all the rage in Spain, but mainly for their practical use, so no need for anything extravagant. Also, another way to grin and bear the heat while exploring is to leave a few buttons un-buttoned and roll up those pant legs.

*Speaking about dress: avoid shorts! The Spanish consider it appropriate to dress conservatively in public even in the hot weather. Wearing shorts will be sure to put that giant “Tourist” stamp on your forehead you’re desperately trying to avoid. This is a tip I received from one of the Madrilenos (pronounced Mad-ree-len-yos).

One of the best parts about Madrid is the food. If you want to have the Spanish food experience your friends back home are sure to ask you about, you’ve more than likely considered washing down a glass of sangria with some paella. More power to you, but I recommend staying away from Cafe & Te. Cafe & Te’s are as ubiquitous in big city’s as Starbucks is here. In fact, maybe even more so. But they’re not to be avoided because of their 15 euro paella. That’s actually a reasonably priced paella, as my host mom told me to stay away from the 7 euro paella. Also, there are many mom & pop restaurants that are plenty charming and sometimes stocked with even more delicious dishes. Madrid has a diverse selction of restaurants that you need only walk around and discover for yourself. Even the Mcdonald’s cheeseburgers are worth a try (I won’t judge), Doner Kebabs (yummy Turkish-style sandwhich made with lamb meat) can be easily found, Italian food, and delicious thai food from a snazzy restaurant called “Bangkok” (near the Opera station from Line 2, just walk toward Sol after you get off).Guest

-Post by Oscuro816

 

Cheap and Chic in Gay Paris

Filed under: Europe,France,Paris — gayswithpassports @ 2:08 am
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Sacre CoeurWith a weak dollar and Paris already being one of the most expensive cities in the world, it’s almost impossible to find a place to stay that is both cheap and chic. For the backpacking gay with a sense of adventure, a hostel is traditionally the cheapest option. Even the least expensive hotel in Paris will set you back around 150$ a night.

Travel Tip: Craigslist Paris. Apparently there is more to Craigslist than M2M Personals and Erotic Services. Check out the Housing: Vacation Rentals section. There are dozens of Parisian apartments being rented out by the night or week for less than a night at a hotel. I recently spent a week in Paris in a beautiful Parisian apartment in walking distance to the Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre – think Amélie. Since there were two of us we were able to split the cost by two, something you cannot do at a hostel. A chic studio apartment with Wi-Fi, kitchen, washing machine, dishwasher and shower big enough for two turned out to be only 20 Euros (28$) a night per person while the cheapest hostel was 30 Euros (42$) per person. With our own apartment we were able to get the experience of living in a quiet Parisian neighborhood and not have to feel like tourists. We were able to buy groceries in the morning and prepare our own petit dejeuner. Avoiding drunken Australians barging into your hostel at 4 am is also a plus. Note: Use your best judgment when dealing with Craigslist’s posts if the renter doesn’t speak english well enough, try to find a friend who speaks french.