At the end of our trip, we tried to make a list of our top 10 experiences. Instead we came up with two lists of “tops;” when we tried to come up with the tenth, we decided that there were too many competing for that tenth slot to complete the list. So here are our top nine, to complement the other top 11 experiences. Continue reading
Well, we’re home. It was a wonderful trip, but we’re happy to be back in the comfort of the United States. But before we get back to the reality of work (or seeking it), I wanted to give you a sampling of our top experiences overall. I’ve broken this into two posts. Below are our second-tier experiences, those that were great but just short of incredible. The next post will have our top nine, the experiences we’ll definitely never forget. Continue reading
Rebecca and I spent a few nights in Bangkok at the end of the trip. But instead of taking in the sights and reveling in its legendary nightlife, we met up with a friend and spent an hour feeding the homeless on Bangkok’s popular Sukhumvit Road. The experience was eye-opening and better explained to me the intersection of human trafficking, organized crime and homelessness in Southeast Asia. Continue reading
We have a few days in Bangkok before we begin the long journey back to the US. Unfortunately, this is a weird time to be here. Every time we have tried to visit Thailand on this trip, there has been civil unrest. This time, the city is under martial law, as the military successfully executed a coup d’etat two weeks back. Nothing seems to be happening on the ground, but we thought it might be wise to speak with our hostel owner about the situation in case there was something we needed to know. Her response:
“This happens all the time here. There have been like 20 coups that I can remember. It’s too bad the military has stopped the protests; I usually send guests there to get free street food!”
So next time you’re in Bangkok during some kind of uprising, don’t be afraid. Just look for the best snack cart you can find and chow down!
We have been in Pemuteran, the small town on the northwest coast of Bali, for about two weeks now, patiently waiting on the beach for our visa extension to finish up. It’s such a small place that we have been to nearly every restaurant in town, some more than once, and are becoming familiar faces in the area. In an otherwise sleepy town (bedtime is about 9pm), a lot happened today, but there’s no local daily newspaper! So for a change of pace, I’m going to indulge my inner journalist and report the real-ish news here on my blog. Continue reading
It’s the last month of our nearly six-month trip, and we’re ready to come home. Travel has worn us out. And even though we couldn’t wait to get to Indonesia and were excited to see as much of it as we could, it’s just too large of a country to do justice in month. So we had a choice: spend the rest of our time island-hopping or stick to one island. We chose the latter, and decided to spend our time on Bali. And now that our brains have finally entered vacation-relaxation mode, I can say confidently that we made the right choice. Continue reading
It has been awhile since I have been to the ballet. I think the last time was the San Francisco Ballet’s version of the Nutcracker, a lovely production Rebecca and I attended in an effort to relive her childhood Christmas tradition. I cannot say that I am usually a huge fan of the ballet; I’m not a dancer, so I usually just end up falling asleep to the music. But yesterday, in Yogyakarta on the island of Java, the Ramayana ballet we attended exceeded my expectations and rounded out nicely our mixed visit to Yogyakarta.
Traveling as an English speaker is a luxury. English is essentially the universal language today, which means that wherever we go, someone speaks our language, with varying degrees of competency. Being able to speak English in the countries we have visited is a highly prized skill, one that everyone we have encountered in Southeast Asia has been eager to hone with us. But the strangest incident of English learning we have seen has been here in Indonesia, where for the past week, we have been physically stopped by kids looking to “practice English” at tourist sites.
We began our brief waterfall trek at a restaurant, where local drivers and tour guides hang out and smoke while tourists eat and drink. Moments before we were ready to start out, it began to pour, with water falling in torrents off the warung’s roof. I declared that due to inclement weather, I would leave my camera in the car for the hike.
“No!!!” the guides despaired, “You cannot hike without the camera! How will you take pictures??” When I said I’d simply remember it, they got so exasperated that I ultimately gave up and took the camera.
The photos were nice, but I didn’t need them; the best part of the experience was talking with our guide.
We’ve become a species more inclined to capture moments on film than experience them fully. I love taking photos, but seeing something through a camera lens distances you from it. So don’t be afraid to leave the phone/tablet/camera behind once in awhile and just let yourself be immersed. Your takeaway might end up being something entirely different.
Fun story about our trip to Lombok, the island directly east of Bali, known for its surfer beaches and referred to as an “unspoiled Bali.” Most go to summit monstrous Mt. Rinjani, but we opted for an easier hike to a jungle waterfall.
Our guide, a 17-year-old boy from Senaru, did his best to communicate his interest in America by mentioning a few of his favorite artists. After taking a picture with us at one waterfall, he exclaimed, “Me with Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne!”
Continuing with the pop star theme, I asked him if he liked Lady Gaga. Rebecca and I were shocked when he replied, “No, she is too sexy,” and said he liked Selena Gomez. We decided teen-dom would be better off if more hyper-hormonal teens had this attitude.
We sang pop songs all the way back to Senaru, and now we’re Facebook friends. Thumbs up for friends in faraway places!