Here we go, more proof that I’m nuts. The 2009 Road Trip bracket. I planned to write this in March, when it was topical, but in March I was in Lawrence re-establishing bar cred and focusing on that other bracket, you know, the basketball one. If you are unfamiliar with my roadtrip bracket, it is, quite simply, seeding 64 trips that I’ve been on and having them face off. For more details, look here, starting from the second paragraph. At this point, I’ve been on well over 64 trips, to the point that an annoying system of conference tournaments are required just to set the field. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you. In fact, to keep this post shorter than, say, the portion of the Vegas yellow pages that lists “entertainment,” I’ll skip ahead to the Sweet 16.
South Region (seeds in parentheses):
Malay (1) - My summer vacation to Bangkok for two days, then Penang, Malaysia for five, then one more night back in Bangkok. Read more about it here first, then here.
FL1/9 (5) - My January 2009 trip Florida, in which I spent most days at the beach. My more recent Florida trip occurred in April, and is not eligible until next year.
CR2 (3) - My second cruise, to Cozumel in 1994. I had a rum and Coke with the Old Man on my 16th birthday after going diving. Winner of the 1999 Bracket.
HK (7) - My Hong Kong trip in December 2006, my first trip “abroad” when I was in Korea. Booked it a day before I left. Won the 2007 Bracket. Read more about it here, then here, and finally here.
Mis (1) - June 1996 trip to St. Louis with 4 buddies to see the Misfits. Features a hilarious story involving my buddy Anthony and homoerotic graffiti in a truck stop men’s room
190 (5) - My first big roadtrip without parents - when Daniel and I drove to Chicago in July of 1995 listening to 9 hours of punk rock each way.
Seoul (6) - We’re getting into technicalities of what a trip is defined as for the purpose of this bracket. Obviously going to Seoul was moving, not going on a trip, but it did involve a trip to get there. For the purposes of this bracket, the “Seoul” trip is considered to be from the moment my plane left O’hare until I moved into my apartment, ie, my first two nights in Seoul in a hotel. Read more about it here.
Euro06 (2) - My 2006 trip to Europe. This used to be broken into multiple parts, but as the years go by and trips add up, it got merged into one. The largest old portion won the 2006 Bracket.
LE REN (1) - May 1999 week-long road trip from Kansas to LA, via Reno and SF. Awesome trip that involved being down to my last $4 in Reno - with nothing in the bank - and winning enough cash playing blackjack to keep going to Cali. Won the 2002 Bracket
MIB85 (4) - My Michigan/Chicago/Indiana Beach trip in 1985. The Indiana Beach portion was the first without my parents, stayed with the grandparents. Fell for the girl next door in Indiana, but fortunately I got over it quickly.
IB92 (3) - Of the Indiana Beach trips that I took with my bro throughout our childhood/teenage years, this one was the gold standard. Inspired me to write a (horrible) book.
West (7) - A big chunk of my epic 2002 trip. Since the 2002 trip lasted 4 months and involved me moving to Chicago, it remains split into several parts. West was Wisconsin-North Dakota (after being kicked out of Canada) -Montana-Yellowstone-Seattle-Red Woods-SF-LA.
NYC (1) - My trip to New York, also part of the 2002 Road Trip, though I got there by train. Stayed 2 weeks with Dylan and Stong.
Lon (4) - My second Euro trip - with Wiley in January 2001, largely focused around London. Why no entry from my big 1999 Euro trip in the Sweet 16, you may ask? Because I was studying abroad, I “lived” there. Small weekend trips are eligible for the bracket, and in fact several made it, just not to the round of 16. The best parts of that trip were spent in Paris and Florence proper, which don’t count as trips, because I lived there. “Live” = cooking, laundry, getting mail, that kind of stuff. Plus, if I did count them, Florence would win this thing every single year, and this would be a boring endeavor. Well, more so. Lon won the 2001 Bracket.
BKK (6) - My August, 2007 trip to Bangkok. My first trip to Southeast Asia, unless you count Hong Kong as Southeast Asia. Read about it here and at several posts after that on the JaehakAsia blog.
Phils (2) - My Christmas 2007 trip to the Philippines, and also my longest Asia trip at 10 days. Winner of the 2008 Bracket. Lots of posts on the Phils, if you want to read them, start here. The next 6 posts after that are all Phils trip related.
Now that I’ve introduced the competitors, on with the show:
Malay defeats FL1/9 to advance to the regional finals. FL1/9 was fun, but St. Pete Beach never stood a chance against my awesome Malaysian beach hut/house. This one is a blowout.
Cr2 defeats HK to meet Malay. Cr2 won out because HK, while fun, was really un-social. Plus, sometimes it comes down to what can be done again. I could go to Hong Kong tomorrow if I really wanted to, and have a similar experience, but I can’t go on a cruise to Mexico with my family as a 16 year old.
190 defeats Mis to join the Elite 8. Both trips were similar in some ways, and happened a year apart, but 190 was a week and Mis was a weekend. Plus, 190 was first, and the focus result of a years worth of scheming/begging.
Euro06 trounces Seoul. These trips were only 8 months apart, but Seoul was 3 days and Euro06 was 3 weeks. Euro06 took me to Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Czech, and Italy. Seoul brought me to a questionable love motel in Seoul, and severe jet lag.
LA Ren clobbers MIB85. Yeah, I couldn’t go back and be an 8 year old kid at an amusement park again either, but LA Ren is a monster. I spent a day playing in the Rockies, cruised the Loneliest Road across Nevada to party like a rock star in Reno at its end, met Daniel in Oakland and caught a horrible Royals-A’s game, and finished off at the beachfront apartment in Seal Beach that would be my home for the summer.
IB92 takes out West, this time on the same sort of principle as Cr2 won with - I can’t do it again. I mean, I could try, but if I went to Indiana Beach now and hit on 14 year old girls, I’d probably be arrested. At least, I’d hope I’d be arrested, it is Indiana after all.
Lon beats NYC in an upset. This was a tough call, as the New York trip was awesome and I think I like New York as a city more than London. However, the London trip also featured forays into Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam to push it over the top.
Phils murders BKK. The Phils trip was only 4 months after the BKK trip, but it beat Bangkok in every category except food (and art and architecture and high brow stuff like that). Filipino food sucks. There is Taco Bell there though, so props for that. The Phils trip had way more adventure, plus the best beach I’ve ever seen.
On to the Regional Finals...
Cr2’s journey ends here. Malay advances to the Final 4 in its first year of eligibility. This trip blended 5 days and 4 nights of relaxing on the Malaysian beach, eating the best food ever, drunken jet skiing, scooter crashing, and jungle hiking with 3 nights of crazy partying in Bangkok.
Euro06 is just too strong for 190. The 190 trip was historic, and I love Chicago, but its tough for it to compete with Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Brugges, Ghent, Antwerp, Rothenburg, Munich, Vienna, Prague, and Venice.
In a brutal triple overtime affair (how do I determine such things? Clearly I just did) IB92 prevails over LA Ren. It’s tough to say that many trips had more influence on me than IB92. It changed the way I thought about road trips, girls, and eventually writing. Really, along with sports, those are the only things I ever think about.
When I went to Europe in 2001, I was trying to find a way to move there. This was supposed to be the scouting trip for that, though once I arrived in London, I quickly gave that up for the sake of the usual Eurotrip cocktail of museums and debauchery. When I went to the Phils in 2007, it involved moving as well - I took this trip instead of a free plane ticket home, and decided to stay in Korea for another year. Of course, that choice had been made before I left for this trip, but this trip was definitely the result of a “life choice.” I think I made the right choice. In London, I don’t think I did, and it resulted in 6 months in Florida hell followed by my poorly-thought out idea to throw in my lot with Sprint. Phils wins.
Malay, the only one seed to survive to the Final 4, takes out Euro06. Penang has better food than Venice, and Bangkok has better nightlife than Prague.
IB92, no stranger to the final 4, somehow comes up short again. I could put the same test on the Phils trip as I can the IB92 trip - and though I took the Phils trip under a year and a half ago, I couldn’t fly there tomorrow and have the same experience. I just ran in to too many funny, weird, and awesome situations to duplicate them. Plus, the Phils trip has more influence over my life *today* than the IB92 trip - it was my first Asian beach trip (not counting Busan), and I’ve taken a slew of trips involving the beach since. I love the beach, I can sit there for days.
Wow. SE Asia vs SE Asia. Two trips that came only 7 months apart for the whole ball of wax. For the 2009 Road Trip Bracket crown, the winner is... Phils! For the record, that makes Phils the first repeat champion and and the first two-time champion in this, the 11th annual Road Trip Bracket. See you next year! (kidding, no way will I subject you to this again next year)