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 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.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam
Kaikoura, New Zealand
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Kanchanubari, Thailand (the bridge over the river Kwai)
S-21 Prison, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Killing Fields, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Hells Fire Pass Museum, Kanchanubari, Thailand
Hoa Los Prison, Hanoi, Vietnam
Bun Nan River Festival, Laos
Mid-Autum Festival, Singapore
Sallamat Hare Raya Festival, Singapore
Most Amazing Temples?
Angkor Wat, Siem
Sydney Opera House
Beauty comes in all forms
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!!
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 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 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,
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 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
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
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!!
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