5 Months Back Home & Some Big News

Robert and I are excited to announce that we have a new addition to the “We” of We Go Wandering. Come the end of July, a baby girl will be joining us on our greatest adventure yet, parenthood.

I’ve been giving it some thought, and I think I am going to keep our little travel blog up and running. Which really means I need to get it back up and running. I was feeling a little apprehensive at first, like having a baby might actually hinder our wanderlust. But after digesting the fact that we are actually going to have a baby, I began to get really excited to explore the world through the lens of our child.

We’ve been back for 5 months now and honestly at times it kind of sucks and at other times it feels like it’s right where we need to be. Since we have been home we have thankfully both returned back to our previous jobs and we enjoy receiving an income again. We’ve settled into a home that we love in a neighborhood that feels perfect for us right now.

Getting reacquainted with real life went real smoothly on the outside for both of us, but I think we can’t help feeling nostalgic for that time we lived out of van in New Zealand or traveled and camped across Africa. Those kind of memories will probably stay with us forever and are always in the back of our mind as now once again wake up to an alarm and report to our jobs on time and to go bed at a reasonable hour in order to do it all again the next day. That might sound depressing, but I don’t mean for it to be. It’s just a reality of life.

Lately I’ve been feeling like it might be therapeutic to start writing about some things going on in our life again. I don’t really want this to turn into just another mommy blog in blogosphere, but I have to give credit where credit is due. And having a baby is pretty freakin’ life changing and that deserves some recognition in our lives! Furthermore, I’m also incredibly lazy, and this blog is all ready set up and ready to do it’s thing without me having to “build” it.

As much as I would have enjoyed continuing our trip if we had an unlimited bank roll, I wanted to start a family even more. Traveling around the world was pretty cool, but I think having a kid with the love of my life will be even cooler. And of course, we still plan of traveling with our little Quinn Elise (pending she is a healthy and happy kid), it will just be a slightly different kind of travel. Plus, Robert and I plan of taking full advantage of the whole “kids under two fly free” thing.

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So, this blog probably won’t be as interesting as it used to be. Nonetheless I have only ever used it as a platform to document our adventures that I can occasionally go back to read and think,  “Wow, we were pretty cool once”. Even though it’s now taking on a different trajectory, I hope I will still use it an outlet to record the latest happenings in our life.

 

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What’s it Really Like to Overland Africa?

I realized that I never shared our experience through Africa, and that is such a shame because it was one of our favorite places. This post is heavy on words and light on photos, but I hope you will still enjoy it. It’s quite long, so grab a comfy chair and a coffee, and read all about what is was like for us to  take an overland trip through Africa.

We spent 5 weeks traveling though East and Southern Africa. Most of the nights were spent tent camping with our group. We travelled a whole lot of miles in a big yellow truck and passed through seven countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana. We spent the majority of our time in Tanzania and Zimbabwe, and other countries we just passed though.

So, What’s it Really Like to Overland Africa?

Taking an Overland trip through Africa was the perfect way for us to experience a piece of the huge continent while on a budget. Like so much of our Big Trip, we really had no idea what to expect once we boarded the airplane and landed in Nairobi. The little we did know came from a small collection of blog posts that I obsessively googled before we left, and the 30-page document that the company sent that outlined the trip.

Based on what I had read, I was excited but also slightly concerned. We would be spending 35-days camping with strangers. Would we have anything in common with these people? What if they were really strange? How many people would be on our trip? Would they be hardcore campers that set their tent up in 2-minutes and looked down upon newbies? What would the food be like? Would it be enough?

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Marangu, Tanzania. The foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Continue reading “What’s it Really Like to Overland Africa?”

Thailand: Wrap Up

We spent a total of 16 nights in Thailand and loved nearly every minute. It was just what we needed. We flew in to the Northern city of Chiang Mai and settled into a perfect hotel in the city center for eight nights. We enjoyed the night markets, walking around and looking at the pretty temples, a day spent with elephants, and a day spent learning how to cook Thai food. We spent a lot of time in cafes trying to determine which Thai islands to choose for our island getaway.

Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai

We ultimately decided on Ko Phi Phi and Koh Lanta. They both offered two different experiences that seemed appealing to us. Phi Phi gave us stunning beaches and with perfect sand and a good number of restaurants to chose from. Lanta gave us a perfect beach villa in hideaway resort near the National Park. Both of them gave us plenty of sunshine and a fair amount of R&R. We hated that we had to leave. Like, really hated it.

Because when in Maya Bay, you must selfie.
Because when in Maya Bay, you must selfie.

Now, For the Stats:

Number of beds slept in: 3

  •  Trip Total: 41

Modes of transportation: taxis, long-tail boats, motorbike with a rebar side car, and a few ferries.

Number of beaches visited: 6

  • Trip Total: 46
Uni Bay Sunset
Nui Bay

Coffee Culture: Chiang Mai had a very modern and progressive coffee scene. Many of the coffee places are huge chains (Starbucks & Coffee Club) but we managed to find some local digs with great iced coffee. The Thai islands didn’t offer much in the way of coffee with the exception of our favorite cafe on Phi Phi called Aroy Caffiene. The owner was a young 20-something Thai lady just making her dream happen.

Favorite Meal: That would be the one we cooked ourselves at our Thai cooking class! It was a lot of work but the food was all delicious. We made two kinds of curry, spring rolls, pad thai, cashew chicken, sweet and sour chicken, tom yum and coconut milk soups, and mango sticky rice. It was a lot of food!

Robert at his little station
Robert at his little station

Best Experience: 

It’s really hard to choose just one. We loved our day at the Elephant Nature Park where we interacted with the rescued elephants. I think our top experience would be our time spent on the island of Koh Lanta. We had a private villa with an ocean view, and infinity pool, secluded beach, and wild monkeys nearby. I’m not sure what can really top that!

Sea Kayaking
Sea Kayaking

Worst Experience: We both got a pretty bad case of traveller’s diarrhea. I’ll spare you too many details but just know that it was enough to make anyone lose their mind. Luckily it passed almost as quickly as it came.

Things we loved: We really loved how easy it is to travel throughout Thailand. It’s the biggest tourist destination in Asia, and while that does have it negative sides, overall we just really appreciated the ease of it it. The Thai people are also very warm and friendly.

Things we hated: THE HEAT. It was much better on the islands when we had a sea breeze.

I spy.....
I spy…..

Things we hate we missed: We would love to go to the tiny island called Koh Lipe. It sounds amazing.

Although, what could really beat this sunset?
Although, what could really beat this sunset?

Lessons Learned:

  • In Chiang Mai, beer cannot be served between the hours of 2-5pm
  • Everything tastes better with coconut milk in it
  • The little stand by the East gate in Chiang Mai really does have the best nutella crepes in all of Thailand
Surely we will miss $6 1-hr massages on the street!
Surely we will miss $6 1-hr massages on the street!

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A lovely day out at Elephant Nature Park
A lovely day out at Elephant Nature Park

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Seriously couldn't order my food because I too busy gasping at this incredible view!
Seriously couldn’t order my food because I too busy gasping at this incredible view!

Was Ko Phi Phi an Amazing Destination or Our Worst Nightmare?

You betcha we were gonna make it over to the Thai islands at some point of this trip. You all know that we are total beach bums. We were totally looking forward to some time to basically do nothing but sit on a pretty beach and watch the waves roll in. It has been nearly four months since we got some good beach bummin’ in. We were obviously overdue.

Finding our perfect island paradise in Thailand proved harder than anticipated. First of all, there are the crowds. It seems like every person in the world wants to get their hands on a piece of beach paradise in Thailand.  Then there are the full-moon parties which we hoped to avoid because that’s not really our thing. Then there is the fact that it’s really hot at the moment and we needed a place with air-con.

We needed to find this... and we did! Sunset over Lana Bay on Phi Phi
We needed to find this… and we did! Sunset over Lana Bay on Phi Phi

Robert and I have really high expectations when it comes to loving a beach. This is mainly due to the fact that we had some incredible experiences at some of the most pristine and beautiful beaches in the world. Even after seeing the amazing pictures of the Thai islands, we knew it would be hard to top the Philippines and Australia’s beaches.

Continue reading “Was Ko Phi Phi an Amazing Destination or Our Worst Nightmare?”

Getting Cultured in Chiang Mai

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.

Mother and Baby
Mother and Baby

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Laos: Wrap Up

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.

Monks just a strollin'
Monks taking an afternoon stroll

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Where Six Months Finds Us

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.

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Um, this sunset feels like a dream.

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.

Animals for use in the tourism industry is a perfect example. Did you know that riding an elephant is harmful? That's why you should just feed them fruit instead :)
Animals for use in the tourism industry is a perfect example. Did you know that by riding an elephant you are contributing to harmful practices? That’s why you should just feed them fruit instead 🙂

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.

How I felt about spending two months in the sweltering heat
How I felt about spending two months in the sweltering heat

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.

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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.

Like these waterfalls... Why, hello, Laos!
Like these waterfalls… Why, hello, Laos!

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.

Mhmm, 8 nights of this.
Mhmm, 8 nights of this.

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…

Our we're-so-excited-we're-going-to-Africa! face
Our we’re-so-excited-we’re-going-to-Africa! face

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!

I MIGHT BURST WITH EXCITEMENT AT SEEING OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS IN 1.5 MONTHS!
I MIGHT BURST WITH EXCITEMENT AT SEEING OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS IN 1.5 MONTHS!

South Island, NZ: Part 1

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.

The Interislander Ferry
The Interislander Ferry

Continue reading “South Island, NZ: Part 1”

Vietnamese Motorbike Magic: How Do They Do It?

The motorbikes of Vietnam deserve its own post, because the culture is just mind-blowing. First of all, the sheer number of bikes on the road are impressive enough. There are around 39 million motorbikes and only 2 million cars. On our first trip to Vietnam I wrote about learning how to cross the road in a place where pedestrians don’t really have the right away and there are no crosswalks.

Here’s a basic summary:  You just GO (and pray really hard).

Yeah, those people aren't going to stop for you.
Yeah, those people aren’t going to stop for you.

Continue reading “Vietnamese Motorbike Magic: How Do They Do It?”