Catching Up and What’s Next

After seven months on the road, and our first real “no pressure to do anything but sit on the beach vacation” we’re ready to take on the final leg: Southeast Asia.

I know what you’re thinking… vacation?

Yes, it sounds ridiculous. But think back to your last trip that involved a fair amount of sightseeing or physical activity or even, visiting a huge amusement park or attraction. By the end of the day you’re pretty beat, right? Now imagine doing that for weeks on end. Add in the challenges and demands of international travel and keeping up with photo editing and a blog. It’s easy to get burnt out.

One of the many things we’ve learned is – just like in your normal life, you need downtime and a weekend off now and again. 

So in hindsight, things would have been better if we had built in more downtime, but then again – we had an incredible run the past two months.

Amsterdam to Africa

Things picked up in Amsterdam where my parents met up with us. We saw some fantastic art and architecture and marveled at the maze of canals and bicyclists that weaved through the city. From there we traveled together by train to Bruges, Ghent and Brussels – stopping in each place for a few days. It was a whirlwind of culture, history, and let’s not forget – the world’s best beer. It was cool to share the journey with them for a while.

Mom’s favorite Belgian beer was Delirium Tremens.

In Brussels we spent a couple of nights with our friend Dave. It was so fun just hanging out and catching up. One night we enjoyed a meal at one of Dave’s favorite restaurants and had to walk back a different way as the streets were blocked off in preparation for the G7 Summit. Obama had just arrived in town, as well as other world leaders, and they were stepping up security everywhere.

Hanging with Dave in Brussels.

Trish - how did we not get a single photo of you while we were there?! Well we did get one of the residents sitting at the table waiting for a proper English breakfast.

We then took the Chunnel to London, where we were treated to more hometown hospitality at our friend Trish’s house in Black Heath. We only had a couple of days and so much to do to get ready for Africa…get more malaria pills and various supplies at the pharmacy, buy some camping gear, coordinate a meeting with Caroline, get a whole pile of USD cash to bring with us for the overland tour, and more. But we had some fun too. 

Our friends Jen and Brian from back home had arranged to meet us in London and invited us to join them on a road trip through England and Scotland. We met them at a restaurant in Soho and then saw a fabulous cabaret show called Meow Meow: Feline Intimate. It was so nice to see familiar friends in a far away place and enjoy the city with them.

The following morning we headed north, admiring the picturesque English countryside (as pretty as we imagined) for the next three days. We stopped in charming old towns along the way to stretch our legs, wander around and sample some local cuisine. Before parting ways, we spent a full day and night in the lively city of Edinburgh before jetting back to London to catch a flight to Nairobi. 

Here I am with Bryan and Jen in York.

Just a couple of days in Nairobi before joining our overland tour, we visited a local orphanage and met Caroline, a girl my parents have sponsored for the last seven years. Shy and sweet, she told me her favorite subjects are biology and math, and she wants to become a doctor so she can help people. I sensed she is well cared for even though the living conditions are desperately poor in this part of the world. When I complimented her on her bracelet she took it off and tried to give it to me. It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about that. Learning more about the organization and the impact of my parent’s support on this girl’s life inspires me to support a child too in some way once I get back.

So glad I got to meet Caroline in Nairobi.

It is a tradition... each visitor to the orphanage plants a tree. Maybe one day I'll be back and see both Caroline and the tree fully grown.

This brings us to the tour. For 33 days we traveled through Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania and it was amazing. The game drives, the landscape, the people – we have so much to share with you (and so many photos to filter!) but don’t worry, it’s all coming up on the blog. My brother Tommy even met up with us for two weeks.

Our overland truck crossing the Nile.

A parade of giraffes welcomed us on our first game drive in Kenya!

Root, Tommy and I visiting a Masai village in Tanzania.

Our original plan was to go back to Rwanda after the tour, but our friend there had already moved back to the States. We also decided against going to Capetown on this trip after learning that the weather is just awful at this time of year. We figured, let’s just plop ourselves down in Zanzibar for a little while. Rest and relax. Research and regroup. And it was exactly what we needed.

Root in Paje, on the East coast of Zanzibar.

We stayed in this top floor bungalow in Paje at a cool backpacker place called Demani Lodge.

So what’s next?

We’re headed to Indonesia. And believe it or not, the cheapest way to get there was through Dubai, so we flew in last night and we’re making another pit stop to see our friends Kathy and Brian before catching a flight to Jakarta. They just moved so we’ll get the distinction of being their last guests in Bahrain and their first guests in Abu Dhabi! (By the way, check out Kathy’s blog BLONDE IN 'BU DHABI to follow all her adventures.) 

After Indonesia, we’ll probably spend some time in Malaysia and go from there, skipping around to avoid where and when the heaviest rains are in the region. We’re also excited to apply some of the lessons learned over the past seven months by traveling longer to fewer places, and with a more flexible schedule. 

So that’s the update. Stay tuned for the answers to our “AMA” (ask us anything) post tomorrow.