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*Caveat: Italy is a very large country and costs can fluctuate dramatically based on where you go. Thus, although we saw more than just its capital city, it feels a bit disingenuous to claim that this is a comprehensive budget guide to all of Italy. Really, it’s more an overview of traveling in Tuscany, Rome, […]

Nov
13
2014

When we set ourselves a daily budget of $100US for our RTW trip, we assumed that we’d come in well under this while traveling through Asia, but more than make up for that by steamrolling it while in Europe. I was certain that if London didn’t annihilate our budget, then Paris surely would. It’s not […]

We knew that following our time in Asia that transitioning to Europe would be hard on our dwindling travel funds. Many people joked that we couldn’t have picked a worse destination than London as our entry point with respect to sticker shock. While it might be true that London is a very expensive city, we […]

After years of fantasizing about Sri Lanka, there was a lot riding on our visit. In fact, given our past experiences with heightened expectations, my repeated mantra on the flight over was “Don’t expect too much. Sri Lanka probably won’t be that great.” I was certain my hopes and dreams for the country would prove […]

It may have taken us 19 months of traveling, but we finally made it to Laos. Who can say why it took us so long to finally make it to this sleepy little country—we had heard such great things from so many people about it, and yet whenever logical travel plans would send us to […]

I’ve gone back and forth about whether to write a wrap-up post for our time in Borneo—normally I only do these for countries (which Borneo is not, made up as it is of three different countries) and much of what I have to say about Malaysian Borneo is true for Malaysia as a whole. Then […]

Jan
08
2014

Normally we call these posts “Everything You Wanted to Know About…”, understanding that, even with weeks (and sometimes, months) in a country, these titles are perhaps a shade hyperbolic. Probably a more accurate title would be “A Small But Important Fraction of What There is to Know About…”, but even if that latter title has […]

As a Canadian, I’m always going to root for the underdog. On a map of the world, Singapore looks like little more than Malaysia’s toenail, so I probably should have felt some solidarity for this little sovereign nation all along. Alas, I can’t honestly say that before we left on our trip (and Chris sent me a sternly worded email that I clearly deserved) that I realized Singapore was a bona fide independent country in its own right. I guess I can consider it divine justice for my ignorance every time someone on our travels insists that “Canada is pretty much part of the United States”. My apologies, Singapore, and also: I get it. You’re your own country, and a pretty kick ass one at that.

After spending nearly two months in the Philippines, we were positive that we’d visited the friendliest island nation on the planet. There was no way we could possibly find a country to rival hospitality and warmth that Filipinos displayed, a place we’d never been but that immediately made us feel like we had come home.

And then we visited Taiwan, and boy did it ever prove us wrong.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that when we first set off with our bags strapped to our backs to travel the world that the Philippines wasn’t a place we ever really intended to visit. We flew in on a gamble, thinking we’d spend three weeks and wound up tumbling so head over heels in love with the country that even after nearly two months spent idly drifting from island to island (seeing but a scant fraction of all there is to discover) it was hard to tear ourselves away.

It’s fair to say we had a lot of expectations when it came to China, and yet it somehow managed to shatter every single one of them. There’s so much to say about this huge monster of a country, and yet one thing is for certain: there’s no middle ground when it comes to China. It may not be the most divisive country that travelers visit (that crown is probably still held by India, or maybe Vietnam), but China is one of those countries that people either love or hate. The only way to find out is to visit yourself and see on which side of the divide you fall.

After spending a heavily scheduled month in rule-oriented Japan, bursting into the teeming, chaotic streets of Hong Kong was a breath of fresh air. We were invigorated by the vague sense of lawlessness that infused the city (a sense certainly heightened by our previous destination – we have never jaywalked so much or so gleefully as we did in Hong Kong!), and we felt like we were finally getting a glimpse of madcap Asia, and a primer of what was to come in China.

Japan was the first country we visited on our Big Trip, and what a way to kick off our adventure! While many long-term travelers opt to skip Japan for budgetary reasons, we found the country a perfect place to ease ourselves into Asia and learn to travel without training wheels. Japan is remarkably traveler friendly, irrespective of the number of stamps in your passport; especially for those without a lot of international travel experience, we can’t imagine many other places in Asia that would make one’s first month of travel so stress-free and easy (natural travel growing pains aside!).