When I first conceived of the idea months ago, it was a modest dream: a dozen or so writers contributing to a small book to support two outstanding charities (Unbound and Save the Children). That vision has given way to reality, and what a wondrous reality it has become.

Over 80 travelers and writers from all over the world and from all walks of life signed up with a shared goal: to sponsor and support children everywhere. Each contributor is sharing a trip that changed his/her life. The finished product, a book appropriately titled The Trip that Changed My Life, will comprise of these incredibly diverse stories.

Gergana from Bulgaria is writing about her life-altering adventures traversing the Sahara Desert. Ivonne from Guatemala shares how her to move to Madrid gave her the confidence to tackle all of life’s many challenges. Eric from Vermont retells his epic adventure with then friend and future wife Tara and how that trip gave him wings to cross the divide between youth and adulthood. Noemi from the Philippines provides a humbling story of what it means to be happy with her visit to a friend in Doha. And even 7 months old Manny from Seattle is getting in on the fun, dictating his many milestones on a trip to Vegas to his doting father.

These are just some examples of the stories readers will enjoy in the book that is AVAILABLE NOW at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-trip-that-changed-my-life-book-for-charity/x/13856908#/




I could stop writing here and accomplish everything I needed to provide awareness to our beautiful endeavor, but this project has evolved into something more than what I had anticipated – and it’s this evolution that has given me the most joy.

While I will be contributing a story of my own about the trip that changed my life, being a part of this project has also changed my life. I’ve met so many wonderful people friends whose enthusiasm, energy, and spirit of collaboration have breathed life and hope into my being. Originally, I envisioned that the stories would inspire others to go on their own life changing adventures, but having read through the submitted stories so far and interacting with these great friends, I AM THE ONE INSPIRED!

Over the years as an adult (sounds scary, right?) I’ve learned to ignore the news because it’s full of despair, pain, suffering, atrocities, hate, violence, death, and greed. So to give myself that glimmer of hope in the goodness of humanity, I started this project. Humanity answered. Friends all over the world answered my call.

We didn’t put our differences aside. We embraced our differences because that’s the stuff that makes life beautiful. That’s what makes traveling so special. 

This is no longer my project. It’s OUR project. It’s OUR book. We invite ALL OF YOU to join us and make a positive impact AND receive an awesome book as well. Say hi to any of us on our Facebook Page, read more about our project on Release Wire or here, GET THE BOOK and/or contact me (Hung Thai) with anything at ht@upupandabear.com.

On behalf of the Project Alpha team, THANK YOU!!!









Reading time: 2 min

Sydney is fun. There is no better word for it. This is the city of beaches and amazing urban environment. This is a destination for waterfront, culture, parks and entertainment. You name it – Sydney has it. This was the landing place for weary Europeans who first arrived in Australia. While those first settlers were not a cheerful bunch, things have drastically changed since then – Sydney is the place to be, and you need to visit it. Just like any big cities, you need to know which of the neighborhoods is cool and hip and which to avoid. Actually, you can’t really go wrong anywhere in Sydney, but here are some tips for the best of the best that this beautiful city has to offer.

The Rocks: Place Where History Meets Today

This is definitely the historic, cultural and the touristic epicenter of Sydney. This is where Sydney began and this is where everybody comes to see the cobblestone streets, old buildings and the birthplace of this city. Needless to say, culturally, this is the place to be. All the museums and galleries are here, whether you’d want to check out the modern art or classical pieces. Some great attraction include the Rocks Discovery Museum, Cadmans Cottage, and the Dig Archaeology. Also, the Rocks is where you’ll be immersed in the most amazing art markets that are open from 10 am to 5 pm. Staying here isn’t cheap, but this is definitely a lively spot.


Surry Hills: The Cool and Urban Chic

If you want to check out the trendy, chic scene, then you’ll definitely want to head over to the metropolitan spirit of Surry Hills. Here, warehouses are turned into bars and restaurants serve an assortment of amazing international cuisine. Street art and cool architectural designs are what make Surry stands out. Bring your money because this is shopping central. Find yourself some awesome  and unique handmade clothes that you won’t find anywhere else. 


Balmain and Birchgrove: The Picturesque Spirit of the Old Days

Right across the Rocks are two suburbs that are magnets for those who come to visit Sydney. This used to be and industrial palace full of factories. Soap makers, steel workers, and boilermakers used to call this beautiful part of town home. Now, the area is going through a revival. All those not-so-remarkable spaces have been turned into living quarters and they are simply stunning. Bright, fun, and industrial looking, there is a charm about it that leaves one yearning for more – not to mention all the awesome bars and restaurants that surround this wonderful neighborhood. 


Randwick Area: Parks and Horses of Sydney

The gorgeous Centennial Park is in this area. Also, it is an absolute failure to come to Randwick and miss out on the awesome horse races. There’s no shortage of activities here, either. Skate park, bike tracks and tons of outdoors activities will keep you busy and entertained for days! Open pools and even ocean pools make for a perfect day at the beach. You can find affordable Randwick accommodation, even in some of the Victorian-style villas.


Manly: The Mecca for Surfers

Since the surfing community is well-established and strong in Australia, it is definitely worth the trip to this area, even if you’re just there to watch surfers glide easily over the waves. And don’t forget the views. Manly is home to the famed Manly Beach. Don’t want to drive around too much? Well, this is a perfect spot to relax, hang out, sip on a cold one, and spend your time every day and night. Bonfires, surfers’ bars and gatherings – these are promises of a great time to be had. If you’re looking to save on accommodations but still stay close to Manly’s main attractions, head to nearby Manly Vale.


Lilyfield: The Vibrant Clash of Energies

Wondering what it’s like to live like a typical Sydney cities? Then head to this area for some local eats, attractions, and good times. The unique and beautiful harmony of differing cultures, together with awesome cottages and quaint shops, makes Lilyfield a very cool place to visit, especially if you rent a renovated cottage. The area itself is very near the CBD, so you can reach it whenever you like. It is a great place to experience the Sydney community and also enjoy some pretty amazing weekly farmers market.


Of course, everybody loves spending time around the Central Business District because of all the amazing buildings and close proximity to the Sydney Opera house. If you like people watching, head to the Central Business District, find yourself a bench, and observe people go about their day. However, this area is not dollar-timid as you’ll like be spending a hefty sum to stay here. Why not give the other fun neighborhoods a try? You’re always within a short hop to the Central Business District anyway. There are better ways to spend your savings, and they can be far more fun.

Travel on my friends!

Reading time: 4 min

Hi, my name is Chris. I’m not a monkey. Sure, I enjoy eating bananas daily, but who doesn’t, right? Does that make me anymore a monkey than you? And just because I like to swing from tree to tree with my lengthy arms doesn’t automatically make me a primate. What? Because I can swing around with ease you think you can take pictures of me like I’m some kind of animal?! I will have you know that I am an engineer for a very important manufacturing company! Oh! You think that because I groom my friends at lunch, picking things off their heads and eating them, that somehow I am a monkey of Capuchin origins? How dare you!

See, it’s this kind of jumping-to-conclusion thinking that has resulted in so many misunderstandings and the subsequent pain and suffering all around the world. Let’s try to understand before passing judgment. Let’s be friends. Let’s hold hands. Let’s sing songs of joy and happiness. But first, you need to understand that I am not a monkey. I just like to monkey around. That’s all. Pinky swear.



And now… feast your eyes on some more pictures – I am a photographer after all.



hmmm… is this where i hid my snacks earlier?



i can’t find my snacks… 🙁


parasailing with the sunset… nothing better than this



hey! you took my sunny spot



sunset lighting up the sky



but mom… I don’t wanna go to school



weeee over the water



the cloud forest of Monteverde is cloudy



hi i’m jetski, i enjoy sunsets and slow walks on the beach



up close and personal with hummingbirds



looking for food or for a purpose?



one of many markets in San Jose



who goes there?



my name is megabuildingtron



on a mission



nom nom nom



the wheel on the oxcart goes round and round



a most beautiful view



is this paradise?



time to beach it



Monkeying around in Costa Rica - a 10 days adventure

Reading time: 2 min
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