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


  1. Welcome home Lee and Court! I have really loved reading your blog - It was so inspiring to learn about all of these amazing places through your stories and pictures. And of course, it was awesome to make it into the story in South Africa! Can't wait to see you soon.

  2. Lee! You made me cry! And want to quit my job. I'm glad you guys got to explore the world and I'm also so glad you are home in my arms safe and sound!!

  3. Thanks guys. Can't wait to catch up with you all soon!

  4. This is fantastic! I've really enjoyed following your travels. I'm sure the memories will be ingrained in your hearts forever. You are truly fortunate to have this experience and one another...welcome home! :)

  5. I'm getting teary over here. Amazing.

  6. Reading that took me back to all of the places we discovered together, and made me smile when remembering the stories you always came back with when you went it alone!!

    Brilliant ending, you have done Lonely Planet proud!

    &us! It wouldn't have been the same without you.

    BTBFs!!! (Best Travelling Buddies Forever!!!)


    x x x x x x

  7. Great blog - I'm impressed, Little Bro ;-)
    So glad you were able to spend so much time with us, and happy that even little old Gwaelod Y Garth now has a claim to fame, appearing here!

  8. What an amazing last blog entry!! You brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. So glad we met and shared some of these experiences with you. I know without doubt that we were meant to met you on our trip and it wouldn't have been the same without you. As the song goes....."tonights gonna be a good night...." and it always was!
    Love you both lots
    Kate xxxx

  9. Hi! I can't remember if I've commented on any of your posts before, but I've been reading. Your blog got passed to me through a fellow UD grad, like myself (Go blue hens!). Anyways, I backpacked South America last Sept-Jan and have been home about 8 months now. The last entry of a blog is always the best...
    Let me tell you, the trip will make you smile at random times. Sometimes I'm driving and I think about riding on the back of a motorbike through the slums in Rio de Janeiro or sandboarding in the deserts of Peru or also doing a wine tour on a bike, but for me in Argentina. The memories will find you at times you'd never expect!
    I think maybe you found the same website I know of the 50 greatest travel quotes as I recognize several from there in my own blog.

    Well, congratulations. I love hearing about other Americans's really nice you got to do it with your bf. Or gf, not sure who the main author is for the blog. ANyways! I did S America alone and now my bf and I are discussing a big world trip prob similar to yours in the future. I might have to hit you up for some advice...or you know what's more likely? Maybe I'll see you out there. ;)

    Glad you made the best decision of your life to backpack!

    Also, good luck re-assimilating. The first week is kind of exciting, then "reality" sets in and depression can set in a bit...don't worry, that will wear off.

    But the memories never will. :)

  10. After reading your article, I also want to share with you my experience. Not so long time ago I arrived from Thailand. Chiang Mei, I learned in the first, it was my first city in Thailand. Upon arrival, I settled in a bungalow near the mountains. Can't remember the name of that hotel. Then I went for search of two-wheeled transport. And there along the way I found in my opinion not a bad rental service It was good decision, because, I immediately went to investigate that mount Mae Rim near what I supposed to live. Nothing even eating I went for adventures. In my bag was a pair of protein bars and sandwiches from an airplane, it was enough for me to ride on hier point of mountain. Oh that was nice journey, I miss this so much.

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