Where we are, and where we're going
02/03/2013 - 05/01/2013
It's hard to believe that we're over half-way done with our epic year-long travel adventure. We spent so long conceptualizing, thinking about, and planning the trip that it was almost a bit of a surprise when we found ourselves actually on the road. After we got into our rhythm, we've been doing a pretty good job of traveling as a family. Keeping updated on the blog has been more of a challenge than we thought, but we've done a great job of really being in the moment.
We're currently working on a separate blog post about what we loved, learned, and were challenged by during the first 7 months of our travels. However, since there's so much to discuss and write about in that area, and it requires that we get the kids to sit down and actually think about it, that will have to be a separate blog post (although we already know some winners - like snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, trekking Torres del Paines in Patagonia, and visiting Machu Picchu in Perú are at the top of the list).
Our itinerary started to get fast and furious once we finished our month in Australia and flew to Singapore at the beginning of February. It's going to stay crazy for the next couple of months, until we get some stability when we reach Chiang Mai and volunteer at the Elephant Nature Park (and, if you're so inclined, you can donate to our ENP fund here - it would mean a lot). After Chiang Mai we have broad strokes for our remaining itinerary (Shanghai, Chen Du, and Beijing in China, then Trans-Mongolia Railroad from Beijing across Mongolia and Russia to Moscow and St. Petersburg before flying back to the States).
Here's the map:
As you can see, we've been using Singapore as our hub. Although it's been great for flights (most carriers operate out of here, and have good hub fares), it's not a cheap place to live. It's worked great for us because we have family here - win/win being able to see Anne's sister and her family, and to be able to stay in a place that's free and has great wifi! Thanks Helen and Tom!
Stop 1: Myanmar (aka. Burma)
Our first destination in SEAsia was a "new" one to many US travelers - Myanmar/Burma. We spent a wonderful 8 days here in mid-February with Helen and her daughters, and we loved it. The people were extremely nice, the architecture of the pagodas and temples were breathtaking, and it was great to travel in a country that still feels un-tainted by tourism (although it's coming - get there now before the tour-busses take over...) We booked through a tour package ourselves, which is pretty much needed at this time, although not our usual style. Since the tourism infrastructure isn't well built out, visitors would be well served with a company that will help with visas, internal flights, drivers, and hotel bookings (this one is especially important, since many popular locations don't have enough hotel space for visitors). This trip will get its own post soon, but here are some of our favorite pictures from the trip.
Stop 2: Phuket, Thailand
We flew back to Singapore for a few days, and then the four of us headed up to Phuket, Thailand, for some time on the beach. We had found a cheap flight via SkyScanner, and spent some time looking around for cheap accommodations. Unfortunately, even in Thailand, cheap <> good, and it took a while before we found something that was a good value match for our budget. We ended up in Kata Beach, which turned out to be a lot nicer (in our opinion) than neighboring Karon Beach, and a LOT nicer that Patong (which just seemed crazy). In retrospect, we wish that we had been able to get over to Koh Tao (highly recommended by most people we spoke with), but we had a great time in Kata Beach.
We zipped around on a scooter:
We had our feet nibbled on by doctor fish (the most INCREDIBLE feeling!):
And basically enjoyed a couple of days just relaxing at the beach:
Stop 3: Bali
Now we're back in Singapore, and Anne and I are getting ready for a couple of days away, in Bali, BY OURSELVES! You could call it a second honeymoon, but after spending 24x7 with all four of us together over the course of the last 7 months, we're just happy to have some time alone. A big THANK YOU to Helen for hanging out with Alex and Leah while we're gone.
Stop 4: Borneo
After Bali, we have a couple of more days in Singapore, and then we leave for good. Next stop, Kuching Malaysia, where we will be taking a page from our friends Tracey and Colin and staying in a longhouse in the Sarawak jungle. We think this is going to be a lot of fun, but we'll probably be looking forward to that hot shower afterwards...
Stop 5: Penang Malaysia
From Kuching we fly to Penang Malaysia, where we will spend some time exploring the area, and finding some adventures on our way. Nothing too planned here yet, so we're hoping we'll find something cool.
Stops 6, 7, 8, 9...
After Penang, we fly up to Bangkok Thailand for a couple of days in the city, then hop over to Siem Reap Cambodia to meet up with Helen, Isobel, and Evie for a week exploring Angkor Wat and surroundings. We say goodbye to Helen the second week of April, and then fly to Hoi An Vietnam, where we will spend the rest of April working our way up the coast to Hanoi, with a quick visit to Luang Prabang Laos, where we will fly from to Chiang Mai at the beginning of May. Yeah, we just covered another three countries in that last paragraph - we're working out the details now...
So, it's going to be a busy couple of months upcoming. Hopefully we'll be able to continue to post to the blog, but more likely will only be able to grab a couple of minutes of wifi to upload status and a picture or two to our Facebook page. Head over there and "Like" that page if you haven't already - that will be the best way to get updates from the road!
And away we go...