Welcome to Our Travelogue!
On January 15, 2010 we returned home to California after a trip around the world. 5 continents, 22 countries, 410 days on the road. This site documents our journey.
Landing small hopper flight to San Jose, Costa Rica
Lila and I have been home for just about a month now. Setting up house, buying cars, paying bills, and visiting with family and friends. Getting back into this so-called “real life” has been taking up most of our time, so there has been little time to work on finishing up our blog. How do we summarize our thoughts about a whirlwind trip that took us through 22 countries in thirteen and a half months? What did we learn about the world? What did we learn about ourselves? These are all things that will take time of reflection and discussion with family and friends before we truly have answers. In the meantime, we thought we’d give you a different view of our trip. We started this list a couple of months ago while on a night train between Hanoi and Hue, Vietnam. We finished it over a bottle of wine just a few of nights ago…
Our Year in Numbers
16 Ferries & Boats (not including dive boats, houseboats, or kayaks)
9 Motos & Scooters
2 Rental Cars
17 Paid Tours (i.e. Safari, Valley of the Kings, City Tours)
100′s of tuk tuks, taxis, and minivans
1000′s of kilometers walked
4 Illnesses (2 each, but not counting 6 weeks of general bellyaches in India)
1 Volunteer Program
40 Dives each (Brazil, Seychelles, Zanzibar, Egypt, Thailand)
49 Coral Species Memorized
2 New Dive Certifications
74 World Beers Sampled
3 Cameras (1st underwater cam got water in it, 2nd camera left in campground in Uganda, 3rd camera huge scratch on lens)
6 pairs of flip flops (Jeff). Lila – too many shoes to count:)
15 cooking classes
15 pounds lost (Jeff)
10 pounds gained (Lila)
Money Spent? Don’t even ask.
Life experience. priceless.
Hong Kong was our final destination, so Jeff and I decided that, even though we were practically out of funds, we were going to splurge and go out with a bang. After traveling for thirteen months we needed to make ourselves presentable for our return home. We checked into a nice hotel, located in the financial center of Kowloon, and set to work dispensing of our old clothes and purchased a couple of new things to get us through the next few days of unexpected chilly weather.
Similar to Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong was an interesting mix of old and new. We travelled by ferry to Hong Kong Island where we explored the steep streets of the SoHo neighborhood defined by its antique shops and trendy restaurants. We delved into the bustling markets in search of inexpensive clothes and shoes, stopping occasionally to taste some foreign delicacies. The tramway carried us to the top of Victoria Peak where we had fantastic views of the harbor and endless skyscrapers. Our short time in Hong Kong was well spent and we left the last leg of our incredible journey with new excitement for the next chapter of our lives.
Check out our photos of Hong Kong.
Bow Down to Penang
After a bone shattering speed boat ride, we arrived at the Island of Langkawi, just off the north-western coast of Malaysia. Popular for its duty free shopping, the modernity of the island was a bit overwhelming after laid back Thailand. Drinking stiff cocktails and listening to a cover band play reggae tunes, we brought in the new year dancing with the locals and tourist in the surf while bonfires raged on the beach. Definitely the highlight of our short stay before departing for Penang.
Penang was the jewel on our trip through Malaysia. Once under the rule of the Brits, who turned it into one of the most important trading ports for the East India Company, Penang was a melting pot of cultures that showed in its architecture and its food. We explored tea houses and temples in the old Chinese quarter, colorful sari shops in the Indian neighborhood, and the old British fort that once protected the island.
A modern and seemingly wealthy city, Kuala Lumpur was an interesting mix of the old and the new. The Chinese district was a tangle of narrow streets lined with food stalls and vendors hawking the latest Gucci knock offs. As we ambled from neighborhood to neighborhood, we snacked on delicate fresh made dumplings and bowls of steaming hot soup. High speed rail systems connected us back to the modern high-rises, luxury super malls and 5-star hotels downtown. The Petronas Towers, once the highest buildings in the world, soared high above the skyline.
Looking for a reprieve from the heat we discovered the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park. We spent the afternoon feeding parrots and admiring peacocks. A world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. At night entire streets were closed off and restaurants set up shop grilling satay and stir-frying clams with chili paste. There were fruit vendors selling the stinky durian fruit and carts unfolded to an incredible assortment of anything on a stick.
Click here for our Malaysia photos.
Back to the beach at last. After two months of traveling through South East Asia, Jeff and I were exhausted. Our muscles ached and we were in need of some R and R. We hopped a flight from Vietnam to Phuket Thailand. A popular tourist destination, the white sand beaches of Phuket were a warm welcome to our weary bodies. We immediately signed on for a dive trip that took us out to a karst outcropping in the middle of the ridiculously clear turquoise blue water. It had been five months since our last dive in Egypt and it felt great to be under the sea once again. We saw our first giant manta ray, nurse sharks, moray eels and myriad of colorful tropical fish.
After a few days of sunning ourselves along side the Scandinavians that flock to this part of the world, we were ready to find something a little more “out of the way”. We heard of a little hotel on a nearby island only accessible by boat and decided to check it out. A couple of hours on a ferry brought us to Koh Phi Phi. The spot was perfect. We checked into a little thatched hut perched over the sea with just enough room for a bed and our bags at our feet. We spent our days between the little restaurant, reading and playing cards, and the private beach just out front.
Feeling rested and ready to head off on the next adventure, we hooked back up with our friend Josh in the small town of Krabi back on the mainland. We rented scooters and spent days riding through the spectacular karst studded landscape. We visited the Tiger Cave Temple and climbed the 1200 steps up to the giant Buddha statue overlooking the spectacular landscape below. Krabi had a fantastic night market and Josh knew just the place for breakfast – roti with Musaman curry. Yum!
Koh Lanta, a long narrow island just off the coast of the mainland, had lovely pebble beaches and crystal clear water. We spent a few days crisscrossing the island, exploring the many beaches, and searching for the perfect fruit smoothie.
Next stop, The bustling town of Trang. As usual Josh showed us the best places to eat and we spent the afternoons in the main public park exercising along side hundreds of locals. The countryside surrounding Trang was similar to Krabi with the giant limestone cliffs jutting skyward. Josh, having been to this part of Thailand many times, acted as our guide leading us on hikes to beautiful waterfalls and through traditional villages.
After several weeks, we said goodbye to Josh once again and Jeff and I headed off to continue the rest of our journey. We hopped on a ferry to the tiny southern most island of Koh Lipe. Not a car or scooter to be seen, the island is easy to explore on foot. At it’s narrowest point it is about a fifteen minute walk from one side to the other. Being the height of the tourist season, the island was crowded and the nights were filled with western tourist kids that had obviously come to party. Fire dancers spun to the rhythm of the pulsing music that played throughout the evenings. The coral reefs, just off shore, were some of the most spectacular I have ever seen. We were happy to spend our days snorkeling amongst the massive coral heads, radiant schools of fish, and giant purple clams. It had been nearly half a year since our days in the Seychelles studying coral and, when we surfaced, we tried our best to remember the names of the species we had just seen below.
This is why kids should play with fire
Click here to view our photos from Thailand.