I’m on the plane right now on our last flight from Honolulu to New York. I’m in a good mood even though I’m enduring a 9-hour cramped coach ride, flanked by two crying babies. The guy in front of me immediately reclined his seat all the way back (leaving about 3 inches from my nose to the seat) and he is farting non-stop. (I’m not kidding! Don’t laugh at my pain – I hear you!!) It’s so bad I have my earplugs in my nose.
I’m looking forward to seeing family and friends while I’m reviewing the year’s events in my mind. What did it all mean and how do I feel?
I can tell you that it’s a powerful thing – and such a privilege – to see the world. Experiencing these far away places firsthand and fulfilling the dream to travel has made me feel more complete. Watching and reading news from around the world feels more tangible… it makes more sense to me. Setting out to do something bold and accomplishing it has brought a real feeling of satisfaction.
There were so many challenging and rewarding moments. You know the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” I can’t tell you how true that is. Certainly nothing had ever tested our marriage so much. But one year later, we’ve learned how to navigate the daily tasks of life on the road and how to cope and support each other when things go wrong.
So Many Moments
Seeing a billion stars at night while camping in Uganda.
Negotiating to buy things in India.
Whale-watching in Kaikoura.
Turning a corner near Taksim Square and walking into a wall of riot police.
Sitting down to a home-cooked meal made by Wanchuk’s Mom in Sikkim.
Enduring a rollercoaster-like ride dubbed “dune bashing” in the desert near Abu Dhabi.
Finding a snake in our bathroom in Bali.
Floating six miles up in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia.
Learning about the genocide in Rwanda.
Watching the hand and body movements of traditional dancers in Southeast Asia.
Eating street food in Penang.
Dancing on a bar on my 40th birthday in Zanzibar.
Walking around Delhi, India.
Our main camera lens breaking just as we entered the Serengeti.
Getting into a car accident in Sikkim.
Witnessing various religious rituals across Asia and the Middle East.
More than sightseeing, our travels provided an opportunity to interact with people and experience local life around the world. When language barriers meant few words could be exchanged, it’s remarkable how far a friendly smile, wave or acknowledging look went towards bridging the communication gap. I recall the conversation we had with a young man in Mumbai who later emailed me some of his favorite songs. The family we stayed with at a homestay in Indonesia. The women I danced with in Rwanda and the girl my parents sponsor in Kenya. The school children we met in Chiang Mai. The young warriors of the Masai tribe I let listen to my iPod. The men we played hackeysack with in Myanmar.
My Favorite Place?
It’s a hard question to answer because each place was so totally unique. How can you compare for example, New Zealand to India? You appreciate them in different ways for very different reasons. And yet still, you have your personal favorites.
The reasons why you love or hate a place can be hard to articulate why. It’s the sights, the sounds, the smells, the people, the culture… it’s just a feeling you get from being there.
My Top 5
Also known as “the pink city,” the buildings here are made with pink-painted sandstone. The streets are full of life and color with cows and camels mixed in with the tuk tuks and trucks. We had one seriously heart-stopping tuk tuk ride, saw a Bollywood film at an old movie palace, and a fun time negotiating with the shopkeepers.
UBUD, BALI, INDONESIA
“Enchanting” is the perfect word to describe Ubud. Known as the spiritual and cultural capital of Bali, there are countless temples, ceremonies and dances every night of the week. Women make offerings of flowers and incense and place them in spirit houses and on sidewalks. There’s a real community here (not all tourists) and chain businesses and clubs aren’t permitted. Take a walk through the rice paddies or monkey forest, eat at an organic café or take a yoga class… and enjoy.
INLE LAKE, MYANMAR
Inle Lake was one of the most scenic, unique and friendly places we visited. Here we witnessed local life in floating villages, the fisherman who row boats with one leg, ancient stupas and monasteries, floating markets and gardens.
Shortly after entering the Serengeti we stopped at a viewpoint. The view was incredible. It was that classic African landscape you could see for miles and miles and miles. It was one of those moments where you tear up and think “I made it here… I’m actually here and it was worth every difficult step.”
I fell in love with every corner of the city and could not put my camera down. The elegant art and architecture and the old bridges and churches were lovely.
Like a Dream
Now that we’re back, and everything is so familiar and comfortable again, it almost seems like a dream. Only the dream actually came true. I would say to anyone reading this that it’s incredibly empowering to take steps towards filling in whatever feels “missing” in your life. It’s incredibly empowering to make your biggest dreams a reality. What are your dreams?
THE BLOG CONTINUES IN 2015
Look for more posts about our adventures in Southeast Asia, as well as the rest of our photo galleries in the coming months.