Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Been There, Done That

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

So that’s it then. We’re done. Eight months have passed in what seemed like the blink of an eye and as we write this we’re at 35,000 feet above the Atlantic aboard our nineteenth flight, our last flight, and in the final leg of our complete circumnavigation of the globe…the conclusion of our around-the-world adventure.

What a trip. It has been a truly memorable journey and an experience we will cherish forever.

We’ve seen some amazing places…

We’ve watched the sun rise over the ancient Temples of Angkor in Cambodia and watched it dip below the trees in the African bush. We’ve seen snow-topped mountains, verdant rolling hills, and white sandy beaches. We’ve been lost in the chaos that is Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, we’ve chilled out on deserted beaches in Thailand. We’ve visited some of the most amazing historical sites in the world and seen more World Heritage Sites than you could shake a really, really old stick at.

We’ve done some pretty cool stuff too…

In New Zealand we held on for dear life in a white water raft on Grade 5 rapids and then jumped out of a plane. We camped with dingoes on the largest sand island in the world and then wiped out learning to surf in Australia. We dined on insects in Bangkok and went on an elephant trek in Northern Thailand. In Laos we jumped into a waterfall, went tubing into an underground cave, swung into a river, and fell off of a motorbike. We had our feet cleaned by fish in Cambodia. We motorcycled along the coast from Hue to Hoi An in Vietnam and partied all night with the locals in the tiny fishing village of Mui Ne. In South Africa we went wine tasting on bicycles, tracked the big five on safari, and watched our boys compete in the World Cup Finals.

And along the way we’ve met some wonderful people…

During our trip we’ve visited over 50 places in 11 different countries. Although we were only really passing through on many occasions, we were fortunate enough to meet some amazing people. Like Pop (P-O-P as he would say) the 8-year-old street bookseller from Cambodia who goes to school in the morning and then sells books in the afternoon to help make money for his family. He had the biggest smile you’ve ever seen, a great little personality, and he could teach you more about world geography in 5 minutes than you ever learned in school! And the Vietnamese woman who, after chatting with us briefly one day, invited us back to her home to meet her family over some tea and coffee. We met her mother and father and some extended family over a cup of strong Vietnamese coffee and she told us how she’s trying to help put her daughter through college in Danang by selling nuts and coconut treats that she makes in the streets everyday. And then there’s the 25,000 South Africans that we danced and sang the night away with in Rustenburg to celebrate the opening match of the first ever World Cup Finals in Africa. Black, white, rich, poor all came together to celebrate the World Cup and get behind the Bafana Bafana. Magical.

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill

Of course, the trip wouldn’t have been the same without some of our fellow travelers that we met along the way, like the slow boat crew in Laos who helped make Lee’s 31st birthday one to remember, Chris, Sarah and Shop-run Gary who we chilled out with in Southern Thailand and who inspired Lee to get some new body art, the cyclists who cycled the length of Africa and then boozed their way around South Africa with us, Foxy/Moonhead/Taff/et al who made the football much more enjoyable even though our teams were terrible, and last but certainly not least are our favorite travelers – our partner’s in crime, our trip buddies, our travel companions, Kate and Lizzie, who we’ve had some brilliant times with over the last 8 months and we feel like we’ve known them forever (we mean that in a good way guys ☺)

It really has been the trip of a lifetime. We already feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to do this but it will be over the coming weeks and months, maybe even years, that it starts to sink in how enriching this experience has been for both of us.

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Heeey buuuudddddy!

Last weekend we went to sunny Brighton on England's south coast for a fun-filled, booze-fueled reunion with Kate and Lizzie.  Kate lives with boyfriend Chris down in Brighton and she invited all of us down to visit for one of the biggest events on the Brighton calendar - Gay Pride Festival!

We had a great time.  Kate and Chris' place was lovely and they were the perfect hosts.  Kate cooked a special Thai meal for us when we arrived on Friday night (a rare treat apparently according to Chris) and we got to meet the famous Foxtrot, Kate's massive rabbit...more like a small dog really.

Heeyy buuuddddyy!

On Saturday we started early with breakfast cocktails before heading down to watch the parade.  There was something like 160,000 people at the event and as you can imagine, there were some real characters!

Lady Gaga?
What can you say about this?

After the parade we followed the crowds down to the park to continue the festivities.  We rounded out the night at one of Kate and Chis' local pubs where more alcohol was consumed, some drunken singing took place and Lee made several attempts to dance with an old man who was having none of it.  What a weekend!

The perfect end to a perfect day.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Who comes on the big bus??

This past week we've been up in Wales visiting Lee's sister Kylie, husband Huw and the little ones James and Eliza.  The weather wasn't as agreeable this time which put a bit of a dampener on things (literally) but nonetheless we still had a great time.  Little James was quite excited for our visit this time as he knew from our previous visit that we would lavish attention on him the entire time we were there.  When coming to pick us up from the bus stop Kylie asked him, "who comes on the big bus?" to which he replied "Courtme!!"  Aww (Uncle Lee has still got some work to do to win him over apparently!)

Uncle Lee doing his best to impress James

Even though the weather wasn't great we still got out and about.  Among the highlights were a visit to the "woolly mammoth's house," also known as the National Museum Cardiff (or Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd for you native Welsh speakers), a walk along the barrage at Cardiff Bay, and a visit to historic Tintern Abbey - founded in 1131 it's one of the most spectacular ruins in the country and has inspired poems by Wordsworth and Tennyson.  Yea, we were impressed too.

James at the Woolly Mammoth's House.

Riding the horses at Cardiff Bay (much more impressive than shoulder carries clearly!)

Lee putting his backpack carrying skills to good use.

At the playground with little Miss Eliza.