I lived in Sacramento, California from 2003-2011 before moving abroad, and it still is one of my favorite cities and I make it a point to come back and visit every year. A lot of Sacramentans and outsiders put their own California capital city down, but I think it has a hell of a lot to offer. Escaping the traffic, rat-race mentality, sky-high prices and, frankly, snobbery, you might find in San Francisco or Los Angeles or other major cities, it’s pretty laid back and fun extremely fun.
Not only is the location perfect as you can drive to majestic Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Napa Valley, etc. all within 2 hours or so, but I’ve also read that it’s the most racially diverse city in the country. Awesome people, great weather (except for a few 105 degree + hot spells in the summer) incredible food, arts and culture, plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, boating and wine tasting, charming neighborhoods, a real community feel, and now, the nicest downtown basketball arena in the world for the Sac Kings.
But the best part of my visits is always seeing my old friends here. I always appreciate the love I feel when I come back to Sacramento!
My 18-year old nephew, Colin, just started attending Wake Forest University in North Carolina this fall. I couldn’t miss a chance to visit him so I flew all the way cross-country just for a weekend to check out Wake Forest and say hi. It was really cool seeing him and being back, but boy-o-boy has North Carolina (and college) changed!
It's actually not my first time at college in North Carolina. My freshman year in college (100 years ago) I attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Ok, so it was 1990, not 1890, but back then, Charlotte was just a sleepy little city and UNCC didn’t offer much socially for this Yankee, so I transferred north of the Mason-Dixon line to the University of Connecticut for my sophomore year. But I learned a hell of a lot and always appreciated the North Carolina sunshine and hospitality.
The controversial video trailer for The Queens of Dragon Town
After publishing my latest travel memoir, The Queens of Dragon Town, in February, I intended to put together a cool video trailer to show people what the book is all about. Well I got super busy (including co-authoring another book) so it took me more than six months, but I finally finished!
It wasn’t without controversy, as I had to take down the first video I posted and redo it because it had too many scenes that could get me in trouble with the government of Thailand.
But be warned – don’t watch if you’re easily rattled by real life!
I got to attend my first ever Oakland Raiders football game, which was definitely interesting! You hear horror stories about how rowdy, drunken, and downright dangerous their fans are, but the good news was that everyone was friendly (and rowdy and drunk). Then again, I made sure I was wearing a borrowed Raiders jersey, while the brave guy in the Atlanta Falcons jersey might have had a slightly more challenging experience.
My other impression is that Oakland Colisseum is a dump – by far the worst stadium in the NFL. There are unofficial plans for the Raiders to move to Las Vegas soon, and it’s not hard to see what they’d want to.
The $23,000 sneakers
I took a day trip into New York City with my sister and nephew Ryan, who's a “sneaker-head” that loves creating his own custom kicks. We checked out a lot of sneaker shops that have rare and high-end athletic shoes, including many styles that regularly cost $800, $2,000, and even $10,000.
But check out this pair of sneakers that actually cost $23,000. I was shocked but it's true - the Eminem x Air Jordan IVs come with a modest price tag of 23-large!
When Australian Kate Hutchinson came to Cambodia on holiday years ago, she was shocked by the lack of help for women that had suffered abuse and sex trafficking. So she started an amazing non-profit called Connecting Hands that runs The Connecting Hands Cafe in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, rescuing women and girls from abuse and trafficking and giving them safe housing, medical care, education, valuable skills and a way to make money working at the cafe, and helping them reintegrate into society. As the girls thrive, they have huge smiles on their faces and love Kate like a mother!
Kate works tirelessly to keep the non-profit running and help "her girls," never asking for any thanks or fanfare for herself.
So this month, let's all recognize Kate for being our Quiet Hero! Check out the Connecting Hands Cafe and say hi to Kate on their Facebook page!
I'll be back in Sacramento, California for most of October, working and meeting some new clients, seeing old friends, and hopefully taking a couple of trips to Lake Tahoe and Southern California. On November 8 - Election Day - I fly back to The Philippines to settle in for another season living in Asia!