Since we’ve been back and catching up with friends and family, here are the questions everyone seems to have (and our answers):
What was your favorite place?
This is the toughest question to answer since we generally liked almost everywhere we visited. If we had to narrow it down, we both agree that Chile is the place we wish we’d spent more time, Santorini was beautiful, and Cambodia was the place we made the most friends.
Which place did you dislike?
Nepal. I can see how it would be amazing if you were there to hike. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to go hiking so we were just there to check out Kathmandu. It was dusty, it was cold, it was crowded, I saw a woman get hit by a bus, there was a yeti outside of our window, there were long power cuts (where we didn’t have heat), and the people were in your face about trying to sell you things. That being said, the temple was beautiful, the people were nice, and the food was good. It was just overwhelming.
We also weren’t fans of Dubai since it was unwalkable and boring (unless you have money to burn). Bangkok wasn’t so great, either, but we were there during violent protests so maybe it wasn’t the best time to judge.
What’s the weirdest thing you ate?
Crickets. They didn’t taste like anything. We accidentally ate balut eggs at one point, too. I think. It was dark. Truthfully, you really have to seek out “strange” foods to eat; usually they’re exotic treats, even for locals. We ate similarly to how we eat at home although in some countries food was fresher (and in some it wasn’t), there was more of an emphasis on rice, and there’s a serious lack of cheese outside of America and Europe. I missed cheese.
Did anything bad happen?
We never had to bribe anyone. We were never accused of smuggling drugs and thrown into a prison. We were never yelled at and no one made disparaging remarks about America. We had nothing stolen and we didn’t break anything major. We never even got sick, other than a few minor colds and at least one really bad sunburn. All in all, we did really well for ourselves.
That being said, we had friends who had had all that happen to them. While in Cambodia, one of our good friends got typhoid and needed to be treated (she also went on to be bit by a monkey in India). We met several people who had their cameras, laptops, and money stolen. We witnessed riots and protests as well as the response by police in different countries. We made friends with a police officer in Jo-burg who told us stories of scams he’s witnessed and experienced. I think we were really, really lucky. I also think, though, that a lot of this stuff is just random and you can only worry about safety so much. Any of it could’ve happened at home (well, maybe not the monkey but you never know) so you might as well be traveling when it happens!
Why did you come back?
Money, of course. Originally, we wanted to travel throughout 2014. We probably have enough to keep going for awhile, actually. However, hockey season starts in the fall and Randy needs to attend a seminar if he wants to referee (if we weren’t back in September, he’d have to wait until next September to renew his license). Plus, early in the school year is when I am most busy with testing kids. We could’ve spent a few more months on the road but we would’ve spent more money and come back to bleaker opportunities for earning it back.
Plus, I have to say, we were getting really tired of moving around. The first half of our trip was good because we spent long chunks of time in one place. I think we burned ourselves out by moving through so many European countries so quickly, though. It’s tiring to keep looking for a place to sleep and places to eat. It’s also monotonous to go to beaches, museums, sites, etc. It sounds like it would be amazing but if that’s what you’ve been doing for months and months, it loses its luster. I didn’t want to go see things just to see them and I didn’t want to lose excitement for traveling. If we had been able to afford to keep traveling until next September, it would’ve been a prime time to settle into a long housesit and recharge for awhile.
What are you most excited to do now that you’re back?
Sleep in a comfy bed. Do our laundry in a washing machine (not a sink). Unpack and buy non-thrashed clothes. Sit on a couch (there aren’t many of those in hotel rooms). See our friends. Understand what I’m eating. Cook my own meals. Have our own space. Drink good beer. Foster shelter dogs again. Use our library and read actual books (no need for ereaders anymore!). Sit in a green park in tolerable weather without sweating through everything. Drive wherever we want to go, whenever we want to go there.
Will you do it again?
It’s hard to say right now. I doubt we would ever do things exactly the same as the first time. I would definitely want to do another extended trip but I might prefer to split it up between 3 or 4 countries so that we spend a few months really getting to know a place and people. We also had the most fun when we had a purpose – whether it was housesitting, volunteering, or photographing certain things (e.g., graffiti). I think an adventure with a purpose (such as volunteering with multiple agencies, hiking an important trail, or circling the world in a unique way) would be the most fun for the next time around.