Chiang Mai was our first real and formal introduction into Thailand. We were in Bangkok last year, but it was a rushed two days with a tour guide (who we loved) and we didn’t get a real good feel for the culture. Bangkok is really just another huge and bustling metropolis with grand malls and lots of people.
We had heard (mostly) excellent things about Chiang Mai, which is found in Northern Thailand. I would say that we had pretty high expectations but kind of expected it to be a bit like any other major Asian city. Even though it was oppressively hot when we visited (like all of Asia in April, are you starting you sense a theme here?) we still had a really good time.
We entered Laos not knowing what to expect and maybe that was the best thing we’ve done all trip, because it completely took us by surprise in the best way possible.
We weren’t expecting a crazy-fun New Year celebration, or a lazy day spent floating down a river virtually to ourselves. We weren’t expecting wide, leafy boulevards with laid-back locals enjoying a slower pace of life.
As I sit here and type this post, I am almost in near denial that we have been traveling for six months. If it weren’t for the albums of photographs I keep organized on my computer then I would likely believe that everything we have experienced over the past few months has only been a dream. A really good one. The kind of dream where you feel upset from waking up from too early.
Luckily for us, this isn’t a dream; it’s real life.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to say here. Like, how much reflecting do I want to do? There are a lot of new things that have been on my mind in terms of travel, such as what it means to be a responsible tourist and keep my moral compass straight, and what it means to me to to be born in a developed nation with limitless opportunities. Because it’s in this place, where the distribution of wealth has never been so starkly obvious, that I find myself feeling particualry insightful. I don’t want any person or any animal to suffer at my expense or in the name of tourism. There is so much to say on these subjects, but I just cannot find the right words to describe how I feel about them without stepping on too many toes.
So Let’s Keep It Simple, For Now
So for the sake of not writing a novel in one post, I’ll keep it simple, change the subject, and just explain what has been going on in our neck of the woods.
Six months on the road has found us in a very good place. We are feeling incredibly happy and excited for what the future holds.
You may recall our post about what our life was like at the three month mark. We were feeling euphoric, having touched down in the dreamland that is New Zealand. Our time spent there was nothing short of incredible.
After New Zealand, we touched down in Vietnam and were greeted with the chaos that is Hanoi. Even though we had visited this city before, we found it quite difficult to assimilate back into real life on the Southeast Asia backpacking trail.
We struggled quite a bit those first few weeks in Vietnam. It seemed like everyone we encountered just wanted make a buck off of us. The weather was crappy. We were tired and behind on lots of “administrative” tasks.
We strongly debated buying a plane ticket to Japan. I cannot tell you how many times we looked up airfare and went over the pros and cons of blowing our budget (Japan is very expensive). In the end, we decided not to. We decided to stick it out and complete our circuit of Southeast Asia. Even though we weren’t very excited about it, we knew we could survive the next two months.
After that low point, things really started to get better. For starters, the country of Laos really took us by surprise. We were kind of expecting it to be like Vietnam (which we didn’t quite love) or Cambodia (which we loved even less). But it wasn’t like either of those countries; No, it had its own thing going for it with its own culture and food and customs and beautiful scenery. And we liked what we saw.
After spending 12 days in Laos, we decided that Southeast Asia was really redeeming itself. After Laos, we flew into Northern Thailand, and again, were taken by surprise. The locals have been really kind and there are plenty of activities that interest us to keep us occupied. Thailand has been good to us so far.
And now here we are, living our island dream. You know how much we love the tropics, and were so looking forward to beachin’ it in Southern Thailand. We have eight nights of beachy bliss and so far it has not disappointed us.
The Future Is Looking Bright
We are so excited for the next few months. I mean, so, so, so excited. For starters, after our beach time in Thailand we fly to Penang, Malaysia. Um, hello food capital. We don’t know much about malay cuisine, but we what have tried we love.
Also, the final countdown for Africa has commenced. Like, whoa. We are going to Africa in 11 days! The thought of it fills me with so many emotions; I’m both excited and nervous at the same time. We will be on a 35-day safari and camping in a tent for over a month. We will have extended contact with other humans for a month. This could be interesting…
After Africa, we fly into London at the end of June. Once we hit Europe, we hit the ground running with a whistle-stop tour on the continent. So much of it is still unplanned, but the best parts are planned and important accommodation is booked. What are the best parts of the Europe leg? Well, we are meeting up with family and friends FOUR times! Yes!
And then, finally, we fly home. We fly back to Florida from Paris on August 25. And yes, we will be ready at that point.
These last few months hold so much goodness that I think I might burst with excitement. And now, it’s time to get back to island time!
After spending half of our time on the North Island in New Zealand we took the Interislander Ferry over to the South Island for another four weeks of epic road trippin’.
In our opinion, the Interisland Ferry should not be missed when taking an extended trip to NZ. Although it was outrageously expensive, it was the only way to get our beloved home-on-wheels from one island to the other. Thankfully, the 3-hour journey was both relaxing and beautiful, redeeming itself for the high cost. It’s also remarkably convenient. You drive on, spend a few hours taking in the stunning cook straight waterway, and then drive off.