To celebrate our one year of travel (on September 11th), we thought we'd do something a little bit different. We've traveled to 15 countries within the past year and had experiences that we'll never forget. Below, we've listed out our top five experiences and our...not-so-top five experiences.
our top 5 experiences:
✧ being a tuk tuk owner for a month ✧
Sri Lanka holds some of our fondest memories and experiences that we find ourselves reminiscing about often. We feel like we're always scheming about how we will one day return to our favorite little island and be reunited with our tuk tuk, Toro! Everyday was an epic adventure spent riding around on dirt roads and seeing parts of the country we might not have otherwise seen. We definitely had our ups and downs with the adventure, but those downs makes the trip even more memorable. We drove the island from end to end, swam with sea turtles, ate fresh tropical fruits everyday, drank freshly grown tea high up in the clouds, and saw wild elephants in the jungle. Forever in our hearts, Sri Lanka!
Head here to read all about it.
✧ meeting friends all over the world ✧
Meeting like-minded travelers has been the absolute highlight of our year abroad. As much as we love spending time with one another, it's nice to have others to socialize with as well. Our first day in India, we met our French friends Thomas and Mathilde, who we have kept in contact with and seen many times. We spent a few weeks traveling through Vietnam with Carine and Derek (Cambodia & Philippines, too) and Liana and Alex. We attended Joan and Ricky's wedding (our friends from Portland) in Indonesia. A few others we've been blessed to meet are all of our friends in Thailand through our TEFL course, a solo traveler Kate (she is doing big things in her life!) who we met in India, Walter and Jodie, Danielle and Dominic, Alina and Bryan, Joel and Marla, Gigi and Nico, Josh from The Spindrifters, and our most recent friends, Katie and Wes.
✧ sleeping under the stars in India ✧
Rajasthan has some sort of magic floating around in the air that can't be described. Pair that magic dust with sassy camels, homemade chai masala made by a desert fire, and sleeping on a mattress under the milky way, and you've got an unforgettable night. Although our bums were quite sore from riding camels for a few hours, gazing at the stars for hours on end was one of our favorite memories from the year.
✧ setting lanterns afloat in the thai skies ✧
We had a camera casualty the day that we arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the Yee Peng Lantern Festival. As a result of this, we were camera-less for one of our favorite experiences of the year and therefore failed to blog about it. The Yee Peng festival occurs every year on the full moon of the 12th lunar month. Thousands of people gather and set off oversized paper lanterns into the night sky. The locals believe that this time of year is when the rivers are the fullest and the moon at its brightest -- making it a perfect time to make a good wish of fortune for the upcoming year. The night of the event, we headed to the famous bridge in Chiang Mai with our lanterns in tow. What we didn't expect was how dangerous this event would be! Thousands of people crammed onto this bridge like sardines with open fire lighting giant paper lanterns. We quickly learned that there was a specific technique to successfully lighting and releasing the lanterns. On several occasions, we almost had our eyebrows and hair burnt off. Both of our lanterns sailed off into the night sky, so we're full of good fortune! It truly was a sight to see and something we hope for everyone to experience once in their lives.
✧ eating! ✧
What would a year of travel be without mentioning the flavors of the world?! We have had the most mouth-watering food in every country we've visited (well, almost). Still to this day, we dream about Sri Lankan curry, aloo gobi with garlic naan in India, acai smoothie bowls in Bali, and khao soi from northern Thailand. We're excited to someday have a kitchen again and try our hand at cooking these incredible dishes.
our worst 5 experiences:
As for our "worst" experiences, we will be the first to admit that we've been incredibly lucky during our travels. We haven't had one personal belonging stolen, haven't ended up in the hospital, and haven't ever been stranded without a place to sleep. Therefore, our bad experiences aren't all that bad. But, here are the five circumstances or experiences that weren't our happiest.
✧ dying technology ✧
Technology, although so important in the life of bloggers, is such a pain in the ass! We've broken our fairly new camera to the point of no repair, had to purchase a new camera, broken a Fitbit watch, purchased a new laptop in order to teach online, bought a brand new iPhone, and lost that brand new iPhone a month later. In addition, our one shared iPhone we own is on its last leg. As we keep saying, "it's always something..."
✧ getting sick ✧
The thing about getting sick is you can never plan ahead, and once you are sick, you're on the schedule of whatever is wrecking havoc on your body. Luckily, most times we have been sick, we have been in ideal situations. The one and only time we booked dorm room bunk beds in India, we ironically came down with a bad cold - including body aches and fevers. The hostel staff member must have seen the panic on our faces because he upgraded us to one of the most comfortable private rooms we have stayed in to ride out the sickness. Food poisoning has crept up on us too -- for Bre in Vietnam and for Daniel in India. It comes on like an unexpected raging storm but tends to blow over in a day or two. When it comes to bacteria and viruses, we are quite the petri dishes and have probably built up immunity to some of the nastiest sicknesses. Once again, we've been pretty lucky avoiding sicknesses. Although, as I'm writing this, Bre is sneezing and sniffling up a storm nearby.
✧ bumps and bruises ✧
Amusingly, these ego-bruising memories are also some of our funniest. We still laugh about that time Bre fell up to her waist into a flooded drainage hole in Bali and that time Daniel tumbled down wet stairs at a hostel in India. During one 24 hour period in Nusa Penida, Indonesia, we had a motorbike crash that sent us both flying, fell down a hill of stairs, and got attacked by monkeys in a tree house. We're lucky that we can laugh at ourselves often and only walk away with some bumps and bruises!
✧ awkward overnight stays ✧
Have you ever checked into a place and snuck out hours later awkwardly? We have... multiple times. In Bali, we checked into a hostel that gave us a bunk bed room (which we didn't book) that smelled like sweaty school children. Turns out, the private room that we paid for had been double-booked. We left after finding the first decent-looking place on a booking website. This "decent-looking" hotel ended up giving us a windowless, smelly, dirty room. We left that one the next morning after a sleepless night on top of the covers.
Another uncomfortable Airbnb experience was recently in South America. The host stayed up partying in the living room all hours of the night and discussed her drug use openly. Her young daughter walked straight into our unlockable bedroom. Needless to say, we left while she was passed out one day at noon. We have learned that no matter how a place looks online, you really never know what it will look like until you get there. Sometimes we encounter weird situations like listed above, but sometimes we stay in absolutely beautiful luxurious places. Life's all about balance, right?
✧ attacked by leeches ✧
My (Bre's) worst nightmare has become leeches. I actually dream about them sucking my blood until I have no blood left in my body. In Indonesia and Sri Lanka, we were attacked by leeches on more than one occasion. The thing is -- they're actually harmless. So why do they bother me so much? Because they crawl their slimy selves underneath your socks, in-between your toes, and hold on for dear life. At one point during our travels, we each had about 30 attached to our skin. Yuck!!
We've also had our fair share of mosquitoes and various other critters too. In Krabi, Thailand, the mosquitoes are so desperate that they were chomping on our faces. No amount of deet can keep those suckers away.
As always, thank you for supporting our travels and following along on our journey. If you have any questions regarding our travels (or anything for that matter), please submit them below in the comments or send us an email to [email protected]. We are planning a FAQ blog post in the near future.
For the love and adventure,
bre & daniel