Travel Monthly Journal RTW

Time flys on the road. This section is a chance to reflect each month on some of the highs and lows of our journey.

03/11/13 11th Month Trip Thoughts

11th month thoughts- 03/11/13 Hiroshima, Japan to San Diego, CA “Family time. Planning again”
5,984 Miles traveled this month
2 flights
2 Countries visited (Japan, USA)
2 Cities visited (Hiroshima, San Diego)
1 business plan in progress
52,444 Miles traveled total
32 countries visited
20,155 photos taken

So this is it! I’m sitting in Narita Airport with no wife and 2 chihuahuas. Wendy is sticking around with her mother 2 more weeks (i used air miles to take our dogs who have been living with their grandmother for 2 years while we traveled) before meeting back up with me in California. She wanted to stop over at our place in Hawaii to dig through our storage and get her business suits. Yup, thinking about assimilating back into the real world. I’m full of mixed feelings. A little sad this is adventure is coming to an end but we had such an amazing time and were able to accomplish a life goal it feels great. I’m also 150+ pages into the research for a business plan so I’m extremely excited about the future as well. We didn’t hit up South America like we were thinking about doing but we’ll probably do that later in life. We’ll be pausing in San Diego for 2 months before heading to the US Virgin Islands to look for opportunities and see what the Caribbean is all about.

Trip Highlights!:
Caribbean- Cruise across the Atlantic to start our voyage on the same route Christopher Columbus took but reverse;

Africa- Overnight camel safari and climbing the dunes at sunset in Erg Chebbi, Morocco; Camel ride around the pyramids of Giza and going down a small steep shaft to the middle of a pyramid without a flashlight, exploring the temples of Luxor with our tour guide, and chilling on our Nile cruise in Egypt; hot air balloon ride in the valley of kings

Europe-Climbing the rock of Gibraltar on an amazingly clear day and seeing into Africa; buying sold out tickets for a local professional football game in Spain and being apart of the chaos and excitement; stumbling upon Spanish holiday performances and celebrations; French Riviera and crashing the Canes Film festival (no we didn’t get in, we’re not that cool:); Criss crossing Switzerland by train with my parents; Munich beer halls and history tour; Touring the amazing castles of Bavaria; burning out on museums and palaces of Europe; free city walking tours everywhere; learning about the history and cultures of our visited countries; sampling all the beers especially the Bock at the 500 year old tavern U Flecku in Prague, Czech Republic; Getting caught up into the Eurocup football tournament in every city we visited especially the massive outdoor event in Berlin Germany, Brandenburg Gate; biking around the canals of Amsterdam, Netherlands and stopping at the local markets and shops; meeting up with a friend in London and wedding in Birmingham; seeing Stonehenge first hand, Scotland hostel lesbians, picnics in front of and climbing the Eiffel tower, hiking up to Mont Saint Michel and the illuminated night church tour, ATVing and drinks on the water in Naxos, Greece; Amazing views from the caldera in Santorini, Greece;

Middle East- Inside of the blue mosque and hooka bar with Wendy’s friend in Istanbul, Turkey; retracing Jesus’s steps in Jerusalem, and floating in the dead sea, Israel; Indiana Jones’ing it through the cliff carvings of Petra, Jordan; witnessing the Islamic people of Saudi Arabia during a airport stopover near Mecca;

India-Taking a day to slowly enjoy the beauty of the Taj Mahal, Agra India;

South East Asia-Thailand island scooter exploring, coconut milkshakes, and $5 massages, relaxing and dreaming on the beaches; Biking around and climbing to the top of many Bagan, Myanmar temples to watch sunset or sunrise, Ziplining, ultra light flying, and watching thousands of flying lanterns at a festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand; Day long jet boat ride down the Mekong river in Laos; Overnight cruise around the cliffs of Halong Bay Vietnam;

Australia/ New Zealand- koala sanctuary Brisbane, Australia; Snorkeling the great barrier reef and walking whit haven beach in the Whitsundays, Acrbatic biplane ride for my birthday; ringing in the New Year in front of the Sydney Opera House; Milford Sound cruise, New Zealand; skipping paying for a hostel and instead touring NZ microbrews and sleeping in the car; Auckland museum and Maori war dance performance;

Trip Memorable Moments- Seeing the worlds largest communications dish in Puerto Rico; watching a car crash and almost flip while waiting to cross the road, sneaking rum onto our ship in our foldable water container, and finger lickin and spicy ass jerk chicken wings in St. Thomas USVI; accidentally stumbling upon a nude beach on St. Martin; being surprised by towel animals in our room, wine cheese and salami, and push away from port on Royal Caribbean; sampling local Lanzarote wine and olives in the canary islands; Delish churro with chocolate on Tenerife, seeing wicker chair sled rides on Maderia, Getting up before sunrise to rush to stand in line for sold out Alhambra entrance, trying to navigate around the labyrinths and markets of Fez with my small directional GPS and having it go out; hiding out in KFC trying to get AC in Marrakech; walking the F1 course in Monaco; renting bikes in interlaken with parents and Swiss fondue in Zurich; walking the infamous sites of the Nazis in Germany; busting out uncontrollably laughing during a sound of music screening in Austria; old school outdoor beer hall in Austria; Berlin wall and ruin bars; walking he redlight district of Amsterdam; London British museum; Guinness brewery and going back to my bar in Dublin Ireland, red hot chili peppers concert in Dublin; Belfast tour; Scotch museum tour with ride and samples in Edinburg; visiting the London 2012 Olympics sites; getting a 3D hologram of us at the top of the Eiffel tower; D-days Normandy beach cemetery; Athens Acropolis and ruins; braving the crazy horse cart taxi drivers to visit dangerous temple; our funny friends Tom and Nancy and our favorite under the table bartender; having to get our train ticket on the black market in Luxor; college aged military kids with backpacks and machine guns walking everywhere in Israel; overly friendly Indian guy who wanted to video a conversation with Wendy; parade people sticking sticks and metal through their cheeks and skin during the vegetarian festival in Phuket; watching a lightning storm and local fireworks at our table on the beach and half in the water in Ko Samui; checking the US presidential election results at a foreigner only wifi zone of a ancient golden temple of Yangun, Myanmar; getting warned about the Laos people and to seek out the hill tribe people if I needed protection from some hostel owner dude in Thailand; crazy busy Vietnam streets and anti-American vietnam war propaganda posters; checking out the petronas towers with an Auzzie girl during a stopover in Malaysia; scoping out best place around Sydney harbor to watch NYE fireworks; hippie people selling herbs out of a home made mobile home and tripping out over an actual rainbow over the water in Byron Bay; watching the hobbit in New Zealand; celebrating Wendy’s moms b-day in Japan.

Trip ‘Other’ moments- Getting a massive blister from walking 10+ miles a day exploring our first couple destinations, getting a crazy huge bulging vein on my forehead in Seville, going out of our way to see a dancing horse show in Jerez Spain and having it closed, getting drenched in Cadiz while searching for our hostel, waiting forever waiting for a cab that wouldn’t rip us off in Fez Morocco, wondering what the heck we’re going to eat in Fez and being the only foreigners in the local square scared to try the ‘meat’ kebab; overnight bus to the Sahara dessert dropping us off in the middle of nowhere and our hotel pickup not being there then some guy showing up late and taking us on a 40 minute ride in the dessert without roads, Hot, dusty, dirty, stinky, disgusting, Marrakech; flys all over the lobby of our Casablanca hostel; getting woken up in the middle of the night to loudspeakers blaring the calls to prayer; sweating my ass off on an hour long ‘AC’ bus to Canes; super expensive food in Switzerland; cloudy view at the top of Jungfrau; nice Romania guy in Germany who said he thought 911 was faked; rapping mentally retarded couple performing on street stage in Prague, Museum of Terror and communist history of Hungary; hostel no longer there upon trying to check in in Budapest; walking amongst the concentration camps of Auschwitz; wendy getting sick for friends wedding and me in Galway, Ireland; loosing hearing in one ear from a whistling idiot at red hot chili peppers concert; freezing temperature during the summer in Scotland; calling out an Algerian punk in order to get him out of our hostel room in the middle of the night after the lesbo girls; Sweating ass off in Istanbul hostel and getting flea bites at a hostel called ‘stray cat’ with tuns of actual stray cats, frickin crazy driving horn honkin and ‘revolution’ obsessed Cairo; loser Nile cruise tour guide; Wendys cousin almost getting head stroke at the pyramids and in luxor; catching a street kid trying to pick pocket me in Aswan; VERY uncomfortable day train Luxor to Cairo with crazy Koran reading rude dude next to me, people sleeping in the overhead bins, and being the only foreigners; holeing up in Cairo for 10 days waiting for our our India visa and not wanting to go outside among the crazy revolution people; longest and most difficult 100 mile trip that included going from Amman Jordan to Tel Aviv Isreal; starving fly infested stinky people walking the streets of India and no one seeming to care; finding several ticks in our bed and gross unsanitary sesspools along the sides of the streets of India; $4 a night Chiang Mai hostel and getting bit on the face at night by some bug; making a run from the Myanmar temple entrance guard; crashing the scooter because of a flat tire in a rural village of Vang Vieng; mosquito infested Vientiene hostel; being forced to walk a mile through the mud and mist to cross into Vietnam and the 26 hr bus ride to Hanoi; long hot Australia driving to Cairns; long days driving around NZ with very little civilization and no radio/music and sleeping in car; Christchurch earthquake devastation; no English TV or anything on remote Hiroshima house.

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02/11/13 10th month- Nelson, NZ to Hiroshima, JP Micro Dreams to Country Living

10th month thoughts- 02/11/13 Nelson, New Zealand to Hiroshima, Japan. “Micro Dreams to Country living”
6,337 Miles traveled this month
2 flights
2 Countries visited (New Zealand, Japan)
4 Cities visited (Nelson, Christchurch, Auckland, Hiroshima)
7 Micro-Brew books read
1 Sumo Tournament watched
46,460 Miles traveled total

As I sit here at Wendy’s mothers house in a remote island small village there is an overwhelming lack of distractions. No Internet (at first), no english TV channels, books or magazines, or pretty much any other outside stimulus. After 10 straight months of nonstop adventure this is a more than welcome change. It’s the perfect environment for focusing on our next step. I’m pretty much always half a step in the present and half starring into the future so a few weeks prior to arriving here I purchased 4 books on amazon that arrived here shortly after we did. I’ve spent my days studying these books, highlighting useful information and taking notes pretty much all day every day. I read each one with sweaty palms and nervous excitement.

Earlier this month we were shocked at the devastation and seemingly post apocalyptic earthquake shaken Christchurch. Whole neighborhoods stood still empty in designated uninhabitable “red zones” from the earthquakes 2 years prior. Broken windows, boards holding up walls and fences, businesses closed, and slow construction. Despite its reconstruction efforts, which everyone is optimistic that it will allow for a new grand vision, there is a sad feeling of so many broken dreams. We spend much of our time visiting with one of Wendy’s old friends and in the local library.

9th month highlights: Auckland history museum and Maori show, reuniting with our 2 lovable dogs after 2 years!

9th month ‘other’ moments: Crazy people in public library’s, 3 hr drives to eat okonomyaki, trying to get used to ‘normal’ life (cooking, cleaning, use this not that, do this not that).

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01/11/13 9th Month- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Nelson, New Zealand

9th month thoughts- 01/11/13 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Nelson, New Zealand. “Down under”. Reefs, rainforests, sun, surf, hikes & scenic drives in Oz & NZ.
8,396 Miles traveled this month
3 flights
2 Countries visited (Australia, New Zealand)
12 Cities visited (Kuala Lumpur, Surfers Paradise, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Airlie Beach, Port Douglas, Cairns, Sydney, Dunedin, Queenstown, Nelson)
8 Craft Breweries visited (Monteiths, Speights, Harringtons, Monkey Wizard, Stoke, Lighthouse, Moutere, Golden Bear)
8 nights sleeping in car (chose to go to Craft breweries instead of hostel)
40,123 Miles traveled total

I’m currently sitting in our “super” compact car/ freedom camper-car in one of the many small towns of New Zealand while we kill some time before moving on. We’ve had this car for a week now and have already logged 2,800 kilometers around much of the south island. While this country is one of the most scenic I’ve ever been to, which is great for the nature lover, after a few days of hikes and scenic viewpoints, we soon realized there was not much else here. With so few people on this island, we find ourselves driving on windy roads for hours at a time without any radio channels or passing other cars or towns. When we do run into a place with more than a gas station and a few general stores we try to soak it up by spending time in the local library (for the only free Internet we’ve seen aside from McDonalds), local craft breweries, or browsing the stores even though we never buy anything. Naturally we’ve had WAY too much time to think while driving and are starting to plan our next adventure in life. With about a week left before we take a long break with Wendy’s mother in Hiroshima, my thoughts are far from the here and now. “What do you want to do today”, Wendy will say. My answer- “I don’t really care. I’m checked out”.

Before I checked out, earlier this month we had an amazing time exploring Australia up the coast of Queensland in our rental car. We stopped long enough to pet a koala & kangaroos, visit my old Uni, snorkel the great barrier reef & stroll whithaven beach in the Whitsundays, take an acrobatic biplane ride, sleep in our car a bunch, and then spend a great week which culminated in watching New Years Eve fireworks from the Sydney opera house in Sydney. As always, w packed it in this month, but with 2 weeks of freedom in a car, we really went balls to the walls.

9 month highlights: Byron bay & lighthouse with Wendy’s friend, day at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Whitsunday fast boat day trip, Biplane acrobatic flight gift from Wendy for my birthday, super yummy chocolate birthday cake and outdoor BBQ, watching the hundreds of huge bats in Cairns, NYE camping out at the Sydney Opera house, Milford sound camping and cruise, “saving money” by sleeping in our car yet having $50 picnic’s and microbrew sampling.

9 month ‘other’ moments- HOT Australia nights in our car, booking the wrong day in a Sydney hostel, getting bitten up by gnats during a picnic, reading a sign above a hostel toilet that said to “please use the spatula to flush the toilet button” and complying, getting crazy weather in New Zealand, trying to stay sane on LONG boring drives.

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12/11/12 8th month- Mandalay to Kuala Lumpur

8th month thoughts- 12/11/12 Mandalay to Kuala Lumpur. Lakes, rivers, farms, long rocky country roads through the simple life
3,220 Miles traveled this month
6 long buses (3 overnight)
1 overnight train
3 flights
6 Countries visited (Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia)
11 Cities visited (Mandalay, Inle Lake, Yangoon, Chiang Mai, Chiang Kong, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Kuala Lumpur)
10 large $.50 bottles of Hanoi Beer
31,727 Miles traveled total

I’m currently sitting on a 7+ hr plane ride from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Surfers Paradise, Australia. We’re finally leaving South East Asia after over 2.5 months of exploring this beautiful backpackers paradise. This month we stomped around, floated through, flew over, and skid along many smaller sleepy country towns and popped our heads into a few pulsating larger cities as well. We found a way to squeeze in all the remaining experiences that we could of this region, making for a most memorable month on the move. A long 26+ hour “sleeper” bus, overnight train, several “overnight” busses that pulled in at 4am, an overnight plane, even an overnight boat all helped us cover lots of ground. At times slowed our pace enough to bike around country farm animals, walk over century old rickety lake bridges, climb up 40 minutes of stairs to reach a mountain top temple, get lost while hiking and meet some helpful monks and friendly village people, help a lost puppy find safety, kayak around floating fishing villages and massive limestone cliffs, wandering among the stalagmites of a massive cave, night squid fishing, and overnight cruising around Halong Bay. Other times we searched for excitement and heart pounding moments speeding on small boats around Inle lake and down the Mekong river, flying above Chiang Mai with feet dangling out our ultralight plane, zip lining and abseiling through the trees near Chiang Mai, scooter riding through country Laos roads, white knuckle mountainous dirt road bus rides, and even participating in the most breathtaking 10000+ flying night lantern launch. We need some time to catch our breath from this insane month!

8th month highlights: Too many to list, see some above…

8th month ‘Other’ moments: Getting bit up in dirty $7 Chiang Mai hostel, mosquito infestation in Luang Prabang hostel, showering over toilets in every hostel bathroom, scooter tire going flat and crashing our scooter in Vang Vieng!

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