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 […]
It’s hard to think of a place that we could have started our time in Europe that wallops your budget harder than London does. Regardless of where in the world you’re coming from, London is expensive, plain and simple. From the cost of a “cozy hotel room” (read: cramped) in a “local neighborhood with character” […]
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 […]
The ironic thing about being a long-term traveler is that the “travel” part of the process is soon the thing you come to like least about this lifestyle. Wax philosophical all you like about how it’s all about the journey rather than the destination, but I’m betting that 9 out of 10 travelers would vote […]
When Tony & I initially set out on this trip, we thought we’d be gone for the standard 1 year, maybe 18 months if we were lucky. But we’ve now been traveling long enough that when people we meet along the way ask us how long we’ve been on the road we actually have to stop and really think about it. I was astounded when I did just this last week and realized that we’ve now been traveling for over 15 months! Best of all, we’re still going strong and have no plans to stop any time soon.
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.
For such a small country, Singapore offers an astounding number of ways to enter and exit the country; if traveling to neighboring Malaysia, you can fly, drive a car, take a train, take a ferry boat, take a private bus, take a public bus, or even walk! Having taken our fair share of flights since arriving in Asia (the only country we hadn’t flown into thus far was China) and with a little money left on our transit cards, we decided to try for our cheapest international travel day to date and entered Malaysia using nothing but public transportation.
Time and again I hear other travelers bemoan their lack of confidence when it comes to taking pictures of people they meet along the way. Finding the courage to break that barrier and get a really great shot of a stranger is one of the hardest parts of photography, but also one of the most rewarding. Many times I’ve found that a place is really interesting not due to any intrinsic qualities it may posses, but because of the people who live and work there, so being able to photograph them is critical to capturing the “feel” of a location.
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!).
Although you wouldn’t think it to look at our blog, today marks one month since Tony and I left North America to travel long-term! We have been doing our best to get the blog a little more up-to-date and hopefully the gulf between our posts and reality will eventually lessen, but I wanted to break from chronology to share some reflections on our first month on the road. It seems important to share these thoughts now rather than wait until we’ve finished writing about Japan, so that these musings are still fresh, accurate & relevant. Rest assured, we’ll have more posts & pictures about our time in Japan up for you soon!