Over the last 9 months and 5 days, life saw us circumnavigate the globe as 2, and come back as 3. In this blog entry I am going to cover the best and worst of our trip around the world as well as what people voted for as their favorites. Nadine and I also sat down our last night in Zurich, Switzerland and went over what we thought was the best and worst of everything. Enjoy.
Best A) swimming, B) snorkeling, C) to look at, and D) overall beaches
A) Pulau Perhentian Kecil's Long Beach, Malaysia. Soft sand in a peaceful cove.
B) Koh Phi Phi, Thailand. Hard to believe this beat the Cook Islands and the Great Barrier Reef, but with clear water and massive amounts of colorful fish, this got our top snorkeling award.
C) & D) Without a doubt, the beaches of Aitutaki and the lagoon get our top nod for best looking and best overall beaches. Congrats Aitutaki. Maybe we can print up a certificate an mail it to them so they know they got this award.
Most historically interesting
We saw some pretty great stuff, but Rome is chock-a-block full of history that would take years to take in.
Most mordern city
Hong Kong and plenty of their lights to prove it. Of note, we don't base modern on the number of lights in the skyline.
Thai, Indian, Australian barbies, and Tex-Mex come in a distant second to Italian food. Any dish is a winner.
Best A) beer B) cider C) wine
A) Suprisingly the best beer wasn't found in Australia or Laos, but in Macau with their Macau Blond Beer.
B) South Africa has a smooth cider in Savanna Dry.
C) With good wine all over the world, our #1 was some of the Barossa Valley Shiraz.
Best experience with A) people B) adrenaline C) nature
A) Our time with the Bennetts in Melbourne, teaching English to the nuns in Saigon, and staying with the Brothers in Rome all tie, and that doesn't take into account all of the travellers we hung out with along the way.
B) Skydiving in Taupo, New Zealand was tops as we fell from 12,000 feet on a clear day.
C) Even though Nadine wasn't present for this one, being chased by mating orangutangs in Indonesia in the middle of nowhere was great.
Best A) natural wonder B) man-made wonder
A) Halong Bay was just a bit more amazing than the Great Barrier Reef and Punakaiki with hundreds of islands jutting out of the sea.
B) Angkor Wat compares equally with Machu Picchu, but distinguishes itself by being located over a much greater expanse of land.
Best place to conceive a child
Easy one here, Koh Tao, Thailand. Great beaches and buckets help. But given the number of kids we saw along the way, I think any place is a good place to conceive a child.
We have the opinion that people are great all over the world, and we met some great people, but the Cook Islanders friendliness, constant smiles, and the fact that a random guy have us a ride to the airport at 6 in the morning as we walked in the dark, has us giving the nod to the Cook Islanders.
Cheapest and most expensive countries
South East Asia as a whole is very cheap, but Indonesia and Thailand stick out the most, while Switzerland and Italy are the most expensive. We almost paid the same amount for a train from Rome to Zurich as we did for our flight from Zurich to Texas. Yikes!
Best and Worst Hostels
The best hostel was in Shenzhen, China with a very clean double with a very good strong hot shower and comfortable beds.
We liked Malaysia, but the worst hostel was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where we did let the bed bugs bite, several hundred times.
The top place to return to
So many places were fighting for this honor, but New Zealand is incredible with mountains, glaciers, sheep, great people, wildlife, sheep, and lots of adrenaline activities. Oh, there are lots of sheep too.
One visit was enough for us
Our visits to *Vietnam and Macau were suffice one time. *The only reason we would go back to Vietnam would be spend time with the nuns in Saigon with whom we taught English. I can go to Las Vegas if I want to gamble under bright lights.
Where you will meet the most backpackers
Thailand! Thailand is spilling over with backpackers. In some spots you have to look hard to find Thai people.
Most isolated location
Mt Moorosi, Lesotho was devoid of visitors, other than Nadine and myself, and maybe a few eagles flying around.
Best meal and dining experience
We have a tie on this one between our fish and chips at Pig & Whistle in Rotarua, New Zealand where I commended the chef that "it's gotta be a great meal when you completely forget that you have a large cold beer" and our Italian dinner at Il Sandro in Viareggio, Italy.
Emirates Airlines had plenty of leg space to go along with stars on the ceiling of the plane.
Best and Worst Bus
The best bus was in Thailand as we went from Khon Kaen to Bangkok as our seats had a back massage, all for $5 a person.
The worst bus was a bone rattling, leg numbing, butts in your face, stuck in the fetal position trip from the isolation of Mt. Moorosi, Lesotho to the real danger and craziness of Dubran, South Africa.
Most enjoyable way to get around
Scooter, scooter, scooter! Outside of Saigon of course.
Toughest place with language
We expected to China to be the toughest and it was, but at the same time it wasn't that difficult.
Most interesting language
In Lesotho and parts of South Africa where they speak Xhosa as one of their languages. Xhosa includes clicks in speech and a click is written as "!"
Most surprising country
Seeing the disparity between rich and poor along with the transition from apartheid to "equality" was interesting in South Africa.
Arriving downtown Dubran, South Africa at night with the craziness of people running around and roaming the streets in large groups. That weekend there was 11 murders in Durban. Good thing we only stayed there a week.
Our very first Thai massage on the island of Koh Lanta without a doubt was the one experience that left us in stitches having just had our crotches pushed on with the full weight of the masseuse and folded up like oragami. We came away feeling like we had been beaten up, but in a stretching, relaxing manner.
Longest amount of time backpackers had been packing
In Malaysia we met two English backpackers who had been traveling for 5 years. That pound really does go far.
Best and worst tours
The best tour was running around Addo Elephant Park and Schotia Lion Reserve spotting 4 of the Big 5 along with Nadine's friend Melissa and her boyfriend Jesse in the back of our truck.
The worst tour was to the Cu Chi Tunnels with our guide talking about American women all having fat asses. At first it was funny. Tenth time it was old. Twenty-first time was annoying.
Our ride out of Hanoi to Sapa was the nicest train decked out with wood panelling and soft sleepers.
Best and worst toilets
We encountered a really nice toilet in the land of Swatch and Lindt chocolate in Zurich. The toilet did double as the sink, didn't use the same water fortunately, but everything was hands free.
The absolute worst toilet I have ever seen were in southern China. I could go into more detail, but I will just say that aim was not important in any matters.
Worst day of travel
This is another tie between any travel within Indonesia and our 5 buses from Mt. Moorosi to Durban. Days like these make you wish you were on the massive paved highways of Texas.
Best reading spot
Hogsback, South Africa on the edge of a cliff with virgin forest and waterfalls in front of you as you can hear birds and monkeys in the distance.
Individual places we only were able to spend a brief moment, but would like more
The entire country of Burma with its' forbidden land, the Garden Route of South Africa with its' incredible topography, and Lucca, Italy with its' nooks all demand more time to explore.
Highlights of each continent
Australia - Aitutaki
Asia - Thai beaches and pregnancy
Africa - Big 5
Europe - Cinque Terre, Italia
Best targets for jokes
New Mexico and New Mexicans!
A few entries back, I put out the question to get people's favorites and here they are.
This quote is from Jill and what is funny about it is that she answered a question I didn't know the answer to, and the correct answer was New Mexico of all places.
Oddly enough, I found info on the WWW that states New Mexico has some pretty old prints - 210 million years old, and that David Loope, professor and chair in the Department of Geosciences, University of Nebraska, had studied depressions of dinosaurs in Nebraska and was the first scientist to recognize them as the fossilized footprints of large animals... but I don't think that I found the oldest prints. I just don't have the adequate internet searching skills to win these things... Miss you two to bits! Can't wait to have an evening with you in person sometime so we can listen to you tell stories. Take care and God bless - jill
Here is another funny quote. This is Jeremy's response searching for my question asking for a funny joke about New Mexico, where Jeremy is from.
How about "The New Mexico Board of Education actually doesn't care about citizens who drop out of Kindergarten because, in order to feel smart, most of them quickly move to Texas!" Or: "Why do so many New Mexicans have car accidents on Texas Interstates? Folks pass out after holding their breath a long time because of the smell." How 'bout them New Mexico jokes? Can I expect to receive a postcard? Or even better: "How does a New Mexico camera company make sure that their cameras are foolproof? -- They make sure that a tall, lanky Texan can use it! (refer to video in this blog entry)
He wasn't that bitter was he?
Most popular blog entry
With a total of 3,900 visits, Uncle Ho, Those Rice Paddies Are Way Too Green! was the most popular.
Hat Rai Leh was voted the most popular location.
See the itinerary of this trip, and details about each destination.
Favorite story was my riding a scooter along the beach in Koh Lanta into a volleyball net.
This video shows me crossing the busy, scooter filled streets of Saigon.
Favorite Photos, narrowed down to three
Punakaiki, New Zealand
Street vendor outside of Phnom Pehn, Cambodia
Balloon guy taking it all in Ho Chi Mihn City (Saigon), Vietnam
Whew, congrats if you have made it to the end of this entry.
Question - whoever can identify the location of this photo will win a personalized postcard from ODESSA, TEXAS!
Have a great Easter