193 Days International Travel, 13 Countries, 45,000+ air miles, 15,000+ photos and unending memories

May 25th 2008
Published: May 26th 2008
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Angkor WatAngkor WatAngkor Wat

Incredible history....
We landed on the tarmac at SeaTac airport and it was over. Just like that. We found it hard to believe that it could have gone by that quickly. It seemed like Sandy and Jerry had just dropped us off at the airport for an 18 hour voyage to Singapore that would be the start of our grand adventure.

The trip was awesome in so many ways it’s hard to know where to begin. To try and describe all that we have seen, learned and experienced would require several weeks and we still couldn’t hope to really scratch the surface of it all. It was exciting, captivating, stunningly beautiful, breathtaking, marvelous, a little scary at times (sorry Mom), and absolutely wonderful. We have described it before as a graduate course in world studies without the exams. Simply put, our trip has been an amazing adventure.

In talking with friends and people we have met, we are frequently asked the following questions:

What has been your favorite place on this trip? Laos (MJ) New Zealand (Dave)

Where is the most beautiful place that you have traveled on this trip ? New Zealand

Would you go back
Omar Ali Saifuddien MosqueOmar Ali Saifuddien MosqueOmar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

located in Brunei Darussalam
to any of these countries? Yes, all of them because we had a good time in each. We didn’t spend enough time in Malaysia to see all that we wanted to see so it is high on our “we might go back list.”

Best Food? Any place in Asia

What were the favorite things that you did?
The 3 hour boat ride to our hotel in the Malaysian jungle, our Thai cooking class, the Amazing Angkor Wat and the other temples of that region, the dolphin trip in Bali, the stars in New Zealand, The train across Australia with our friends Bill and Sheila, and visiting with our friends in London and Maine.

Favorite cities?
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam
Sydney, Australia
Melbourne, Australia
London, England

Favorite towns?
Kaikoura, New Zealand
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Kanchanubari, Thailand (the bridge over the river Kwai)

Favorite Museums?
S-21 Prison, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Killing Fields, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Hells Fire Pass Museum, Kanchanubari, Thailand
Hoa Los Prison, Hanoi, Vietnam
Dubai, Musuem

Best Festivals?
Bun Nan River Festival, Laos
Mid-Autum Festival, Singapore
Sallamat Hare Raya Festival, Singapore

Most Amazing Temples?
Angkor Wat, Siem
Sydney Opera HouseSydney Opera HouseSydney Opera House

Beauty comes in all forms
Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The Buddha Park, Vientiane. Laos
Pha That Luang, Vientiane, Laos
The Reclining Buddha, Bangkok, Thailand
The Emerald Buddha, Bangkok. Thailand
….each and every one of them were wonderful and unique in their own way!!

Special Moments?
Full moon at Vang Vien, Laos
Dinner under the stars at Ayer’s Rock, Australia

A few thoughts:

We have been reminded that nearly all people on this big blue marble are indeed very good people. The people we have met have been friendly and kind. Everyone is happy that you have come to visit their country and they want to know more about yours. For the most part everyone is trying to earn a living, raise their kids and make life easier for their family than it was for them. We’ve come to realize that there must be billions of people on this planet, who are trying to do the right thing, work to support their families, and be kind to their fellow neighbors.

This helps restore our faith in humanity in a time when we read in the papers and see on TV so many bad things that people do to one
Pacific Highway DrivePacific Highway DrivePacific Highway Drive

Amazing beauty south of Sydney
another. The good and honest people never make the headlines, but yet they are the ones who make the world a good place to live in.

Some additional things about our trip:

There are a myriad of ways to get around when you travel. Besides planes, trains, and automobiles, there are also ferries, tuk-tuks, buses, trams, vans, longboats, sailboats, steamships, taxis, cyclos, motor scooters, bicycles, and of course on foot. Most Americans don’t’ get these experiences of the most basic transportation as we simply get in our cars and drive…..

There were 27 flights on everything from 757s to turbo props. We rode on the modern trains in the Netherlands, and the 1940’s vintage cars in Thailand on the way to Kanchanaburi. We floated on a ferry that held hundreds of cars, and sat on the bottom of a longboat on a journey in the jungles of Malaysia. We bicycled from temple to temple in the old city of Luang Prabang in Laos. We also walked many a mile in our trusty Teva sandals, which we highly endorse for durability and comfort.

During our 193 days of international travel, we stayed in 76 different types of
Sheep in Nelson, New ZealandSheep in Nelson, New ZealandSheep in Nelson, New Zealand

They have a good life living in such beauty.
accommodations. They ranged from hotels to guesthouses, to hostels, to apartments, to homes of good friends. Each time we stopped in a new place, it was always exciting to put the key in the door wondering what the place would be like. Each time we did our best to make it our little home.

We took about 15,000 photos. Despite this daunting number, they were still relegated to only the snapshots of all the things we saw and experienced. A picture is worth a thousand words perhaps, but it still wouldn’t begin to tell the whole story.

Our “graduate course” afforded us the opportunity to observe and experience many cultures, stunning architecture and natural beauty. We could easily pen a thesis-length summary of all we have seen and done, but a book the size of “War and Peace” would surely bore the pants off the normal person, so we will attempt to be as brief as possible. Here are some of our observations:

Income levels are so low in most Asian countries that the average person is just trying to get by day by day on the meager amount of money they earn. Buying a house, car,
Rice Terraces in BaliRice Terraces in BaliRice Terraces in Bali

Serene and lovely
or traveling is so expensive that they would not be able to earn enough money in a lifetime. Many people in Asia go without electricity, running water and indoor plumbing. They simply can’t afford it when the majority of their income is spent simply housing, feeding, and clothing their families.

We have been exposed to many things that we never imagined that we would see in this lifetime. As Americans, we enjoy the best that the world has to offer in terms of amenities and services. We now have a new appreciation for our place in life and we hope that awareness never fades as we do not want to take things for granted anymore.

We have learned that we need to be better stewards of the planet we live on. Each of us impacts our world in ways that can sometimes be difficult to imagine. The act of disposing of a plastic bag from the market means that bag will take a thousand or more years to degrade, and then still not be healthy for the planet.

People on this planet are incredibly friendly and genuinely care for others. The people that make the news are
The Amazing Ayer's RockThe Amazing Ayer's RockThe Amazing Ayer's Rock

Uluru is a spiritual and energetic place
the ones who have done something extraordinary, whether good or bad, because that’s what makes them newsworthy. They make up the smallest fraction of people on our earth. The rest are kind, caring, and unique people who face many of the same challenges as everyone else. They want to get along with others and hopefully make life better for their families. We encountered people who went out of their way to be helpful to us, whether giving us directions or advice on what to see or where to eat. They enjoyed sharing with us and we are so very grateful for this.

The people we met like Americans. This was the case time after time in discussions with the folks we encountered. Overall they are not enamored with our President, but they like the American people and are quite curious about the country and the people. They are also quite astute on the subject of politics and were able to discuss with us the candidates in the primaries, which were taking place at the time. We found this interesting as some people in the U.S. only know a little about American politics, let alone other countries. Quick…..who is the
Vietnamese Woman in SaigonVietnamese Woman in SaigonVietnamese Woman in Saigon

Local woman on her bike
Prime Minister of Canada? See what we mean?

A few words on each country that we have visited:

Singapore: the perfect place to start an adventure of traveling in Asia. It’s very clean and easy to move around as the public transportation is superb. It is a small island country/city so you can see all of it in a short period of time. Modern and clean. Singaporeans like two things; eating and shopping.

Brunei: we loved this small country. It was a true cultural experience as we were there during Ramadan. The city of Bandar Seri Begawan is small and quaint. The people were so nice to us. The buses are cheap. The mosques are beautiful structures.

Malaysia: loaded with great natural beauty and also contains a very vibrant and international city in Kuala Lumpur. It also had one of our favorite hotels, the Pacific Regency, which had wonderfully large rooms, a pool on the roof, and the best breakfast all for about $75 a night! Don’t leave Malaysia without visiting Taman Negara National Park.

Thailand: a country of diversity, from great cities to awesome beaches, from a booming business world to a back country village. Thailand is the most advanced of the Asian countries that we visited. Great food as well! We enjoyed our cooking class and many massages, as they give the best!!

Laos: the best way to describe Laos is lovely and unspoiled! Tourism is starting to grow but it hasn’t commercialized it too much yet. The temples are magnificent and the people are incredibly friendly. The mixture of local cuisine and the French influence make their food quite special.

Vietnam; it’s a beautiful country and has very friendly people. They have come an enormous way since the war ended. They have 83 million people in a small space. They are in quite an economic battle as free enterprise goes up against communism. Stay tuned. If this country can get some more infrastructures for transportation it could become a popular travel destination.

Cambodia: this country has stark contrast between the most amazing temples and the extreme poverty. The Siem Reap area is one of a kind and a must see. Many expatriates live in Cambodia. Surviving the Pol Pot regime was arduous, but the people are resilient.

Indonesia: we loved our time in Bali. The beauty is endless. The people and the food are wonderful along with a large art community in Ubud. We loved the seeing the dolphins, rice terraces and hanging out on the beaches. There are so many places to explore!!

New Zealand: mountains, rivers, streams, oceans, sounds, meadows, and sheep abound in this amazing land. New Zealand is beautiful. There is beauty around every bend. It is easy to run out of words to describe how amazing this place is.

Australia: amazingly big and so few people. We were surprised that the highway system is mediocre and the food so average and expensive. The most beautiful beaches and scenic drives!! You must take the train across country!! Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) is an amazing hunk of rock… a must see. A trip to Tasmania to see the devils is highly recommended.

Dubai: the biggest, the best, the newest, the….. they want to compete with the world and have the best of everything. We can not imagine how all of those stores survive. They have come a long way from the days of earning all their money pearl diving. The oil has changed them forever.

London, England; jolly ole England is always wonderful. Great people and pubs. History abounds. One of the best cities in the world….enough said.

Netherlands: watch out for the bicycles!! We think walking on the sidewalks were as dangerous as crossing the streets in Saigon. Beautiful architecture, rivers, canals and a wealth of museums!!

Life would have been easier if we had gotten all of our visas before leaving but we wanted to go with the flow and not over plan. It worked out fine.

Immediate changes that we want to make in our lives because of this trip:

1. We want to become more involved with charities that work toward clean water around the world.

2. We want to stop using plastic bags and plastic bottles. They are piling up around the world.

3. Just be nice. Have more patience and appreciate the world around us.

It’s been a pleasure taking you with us on this journey. We hope you enjoyed the blog and maybe learned a little more about the world through our experiences. Thank you for writing to us while we were gone we appreciated hearing from you.

We would love to hear from each
Angkor ThomAngkor ThomAngkor Thom

It's worth the trip to Cambodia.
of you. We would like to know if our blog has increased or decreased your interest in traveling to the places that we have gone?
What has peaked your interest ?

Thinking about traveling??? If you can dream it…….it is possible!!

Additional photos below
Photos: 33, Displayed: 30


Wineglass BayWineglass Bay
Wineglass Bay

An amazing beach in Tasmania-- a must see.
Koala BearKoala Bear
Koala Bear

Near Melbourne
The 12 Apostle'sThe 12 Apostle's
The 12 Apostle's

Along the Great Ocean Drive near Melbourne Australia
St. Paul's CathedralSt. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral

London's famous church where Charles and Diana were married
Dubai's most famous hotelDubai's most famous hotel
Dubai's most famous hotel

Looks like a sailboat to me
Houseboat on CanalHouseboat on Canal
Houseboat on Canal

.......in Amsterdam
Dolphins at suriseDolphins at surise
Dolphins at surise

Lovina Beach, Bali
Milford Sound          Milford Sound
Milford Sound

South Island New Zealand

25th July 2008

Thanks for sharing~
Hello Dave and Merry Jo, I just so happen to come across your site. Thanks so much for sharing your unbelievable experience. The beauty of most of the picture that you captured was amazing. Who would ever thought that I would every think about traveling to some of the locations that you express. Your experience has broaden my horizon. Thanks Again P.S. I don't know you but it also seen like your trip has also increase your spirituality, and you are right people are people and we all just want the very same things peace, love, and happiness.
18th October 2008

nice trip
Hi Dave and Merry Jo, I just read your blog and I felt so amazied and fantactis. I just wonder that how much money that you spent for your trip? Did you have any plan for using money in each country? I really love to travel but i don't have much money. Anyway I am really happy that you love VietNam cause I am Vietnamese. PS/ Your pictures are wonderful
9th June 2010
Dubai's most famous hotel

name of this hotel
what's the name of this hotel ? and the adres
12th June 2010

The hotel is in Dubai
Burj Al Arab Dubai
27th June 2010
Dubai's most famous hotel

22nd September 2010
Dubai's most famous hotel

it"s amazing hotel
22nd January 2011

Fantastic blog
Loved reading this blog & loved the pictures, glad you enjoyed yourself in London.
29th January 2011

I missed this!
Don't know how i missed this blog. I may have been traveling when it hit the front page. Great blog. I'm jealous whenever I find rtw travelers. I can't do that for personal reasons. Good only for a few weeks to a couple of months on a single stretch. Thanks for sharing this.
10th February 2011

VERY interesting
I like this kind of blogs: simple, interesting, useful and you can read them quickly. Very nice pics.
10th February 2011

And Latin America???????????
It seems you haven´t been to Latin America yet. I do hope it is in your plans...

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