Wanderlust Chronicles

Beth and Pierce

Wanderlust Chronicles

Thanks to an incurable case of wanderlust (and the end of graduate school and the economy being in the pits), here we are...no jobs, no ties to Seattle, no apartment, and no commitments (not even a dog!) for the next several months while we travel the world. On this website, you will find tales from the road--read them if you have time (or maybe if you are bored at work) and make comments if you are so inclined.

“No Zena!” our driver, Joseph, commands as we gingerly shut the car door. The Australian girl, Anna, is the current subject of the reprimand. She gently closes the door, but Joseph merely grunts, opens his door, and makes a big show of walking around to Anna’s side to re-shut her door. “No Zena,” he dryly states. With the door debacle behind us, I look around. Where are we, exactly? As if reading my mind, the other Australian girl thumbs her phone and says, “Hey, we are in Syria!” What? I thought we were in southeastern Turkey. “Well, at least Google thinks we are in Syria,” she adds as she shows me the blinking blue dot on the map. Yep, we are practically in Syria. This is the closest I have ever been to the middle east. ... read more
ice hat
tourist entrance
Gobekli Tepe

Africa » Rwanda July 5th 2013

It’s not often that you can live out one of your childhood dreams. When I was a child, I loved the movie “Gorillas in the Mist: The Dian Fossey Story.” The film details the story of an American scientist who goes to Rwanda to live among the gorillas. Her conservation efforts are credited with being the major contributor to the gorillas’ preservation today. In the movie, Dian Fossey gets close to the gorillas. She sits, crossed legged, on the ground face to face with the gorillas. She mimics them. She shares their world. As a child, I dreamed that I too would come that close to the gorilla. The appeal was magnetic and inexplicable. Fast forward to July 2013. I’m an adult and traveling in Rwanda. The image of Dian Fossey among the gorillas has stuck ... read more
gorilla feet
curious young gorilla

South America » Peru » Arequipa » Colca Canyon August 1st 2011

There was never a more pitiful creature than the mule. Forced to be the “work horses” of society--without any of the gratitude or title. Whipped. Prodded. Mistreated. If ever there was an animal that ought to stage an uprising against humans, surely it is the mule. With these thoughts--and perhaps as an atonement for all of humankind--I lean forward and pat my mule on the neck, saying a comforting “muy bueno, mula.” The tenderness of the moment is shattered seconds later as the man behind me whips my mule with a rope and commands, “Vas, Mamacita! Vas, mula!” (“Go, little mama! Go, mule!). Mamacita, the mule, turns her ears backward, gives a slight snort of disapproval, and reluctantly snaps back into action. Lesson learned, I think. This is what you get for not taking better care ... read more
in the canyon
colca canyon

“Git in da water when I say go,” Captain Willie bellows from his perch inside of the captain’s nest of the boat. Everyone on the boat is already suited up in their snorkel gear, fidgeting with underwater cameras, and chattering with excitement. “This is it!,” Rory of England says. “I’ve been waiting for this for 30 years,” he announces--to no one in particular--and looks longingly at the water. I’m on a boat with experienced scuba divers and scientists, so I am feeling a bit intimidated by all of their confidence. In my fins, I shuffle towards the back of the boat and take my place behind a few others. This is our third “jump”--our first was into a boil (a cluster of feeding fish on the surface of the water where large sea life is known ... read more
its a big fish!
whale shark swimming away
pod of spinner dolphins

South America » Chile February 15th 2010

Looking at my plate, I knew that this was the beginning of the end for Chile. The outline of each piece of half moon-shaped pasta was rendered a distorted lumpy mound below a cloak of rapidly-congealing cream sauce, a few withered green pieces of oregano draped the side of the plate, and a stack of plain toast rested unappetizingly on an oily paper napkin just beyond the mountain of so-called pasta. And just when I thought we had reached the rock-bottom of food presentation, the waitress dropped off a sloppy shot of espresso--which splashed dark dots on to the white table cloth. Glancing up from our meal, I made eye contact with Pierce and he said, “It’s going to be a long two months in Chile.” Well put, I thought. I choked down the espresso shot ... read more
our attempted stomaching of a completo
day at the chilly beach
even the chips are messed up

Asia » Japan » Tokyo December 16th 2009

“How adventurous of eaters are you guys?” Andy asks from across the table on our second night in Tokyo. Even in the dim light, his eyes shine with a familiar spark of excitement. Andy is the older brother of my dear friend, Alan, and I have seen this same look on Alan’s face moments before some hilarious high school or college antics ensued. Trusting this familiar glimmer--and wanting to see where this is going--I reply for both Pierce and myself, “Pretty adventurous, I think.” With that, Andy’s face splits into a smile and his eyes dive into the entirely-Japanese menu--no doubt searching for the perfect selection to test our bravado. His fingers drop on to a particular section of the menu, before he ups the ante and says, “I’ll order something without telling you what it ... read more
Andy - adventure food coordinator
tuna sashmi
salad with salmon

Asia » Vietnam » Northeast » Quang Ninh » Halong Bay December 5th 2009

“I wrote a warning in the sand,” says one of the Australians in a nearly-heroic tone. He explains, “It says ‘watch out for the monkeys--they bite!’” and we all nod in agreement. “Good on ya,” his Australian girlfriend acknowledges. “That ought to give ’em a heads up,” I add. I kick the sand a little before turning back to the jungle to keep watch. It’s been only 45 minutes and it feels as if we have been on this forsaken island for two days. Under any other circumstances, this would be an idyllic setting. It’s about 3pm, the sun hangs low in the wide blue sky, a warm breeze sweetly carries the smell of the ocean, the horizon is punctured with several majestic limestone islands rising out of the emerald green waters, and large junk-style boats ... read more
monkey on kayak
Aussie with bamboo stick
tourists keeping watch of the monkeys

Asia » Cambodia » North » Angkor November 17th 2009

It’s 5:30am and we are crammed onto the damp dirt on the water’s edge along with the hordes of other tourists. Cameras are ready. Tea and coffee are being peddled by the locals. A few lucky people are seated in plastic chairs, but it’s standing room only for the rest of us. We are all here for the sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s crown jewel of a temple and one of many intricate ancient temples built at this site. Angkor Wat is home to a collection of temples that were built by various ancient rulers--each trying to out do the other. Angkor Wat is claimed to be one of the largest religious sites in the world and is certainly on every traveler’s must-see list for Cambodia. The sky slowly turns purple and then a soft pink. ... read more
One of many waving children
The benevolent stone faces at Bayon Temple at Angkor Wat
victims of the Khmer Rouge

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Chiang Mai November 7th 2009

“Yo-od,” I hear myself stammer out as my elephant steadily lumbers towards the river--one step throws me back and threatens to upset my balance. I repeat the command to stop--but it is more of a request or a plea even. “Yood,” I say again in my most confident voice. ‘Please, please stop’ I think to myself and I hold tighter to the top of her head--pressing myself into her coarse black bristly hair and wrapping my legs tighter around her neck. She rapidly fans her pink-speckled ears--a cooling method for the elephant--and, in turn, lightly slaps my ankles. As she takes another gigantic step closer to the river, I turn to see if my mahout (the elephant trainer) is watching. He is not. He is sitting on a sun-soaked rock, slowly dragging on a cigarette, snapping ... read more
James Bond the baby elephant
group pic in the mud
deliriously happy

Asia » Thailand » North-West Thailand » Chiang Mai November 1st 2009

We sort of get stuck in Chiang Mai. After a month in India, we are tired and we quickly succumb to the charms of Chiang Mai--both it’s easy access to all things Thai (e.g., great Thai food, Muay Thai boxing matches, inexpensive Thai massages, lots of tourist attractions) and it’s easy access to all things comfortable (I.e. wifi, coffee, and a modern mall). On our first day in Chiang Mai, we discover an excellent hole-in-the-wall restaurant near our hotel and quickly become regulars. “Oh, no thanks,” we will say to the hostess when she offers us a menu as we head past her for our regular table immediately after opening time. “We already know the menu,” we add as we plug in the laptop and our cell phones. It turns out that we are not the ... read more
sky lantern
another krathong bound for the river
holding a krathong at the river

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