Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

One year ago today, we boarded a plane and set off to make our dream of traveling around the world a reality. We are happy to report that we are still alive and well. Today we are wondering, how did this year go by so quickly?! But in all reality, when we revisit the past year in detail, we realize just how much we have experienced.

Our ‘Year in Review’ includes two photos from every country we have visited in the past year. One selected by Mike and one selected by Amy.  This was an insanely difficult task, since we have over 12,000 photos now! Some photos are memories of a favorite place we visited, while others symbolize our mindset at that point in time, and a few are just pictures that we really love. We hope you enjoy and thanks for reading our ramblings for the past year; there is still more to come!


Mike's Photo - Spain

Mike’s Pick – La Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain

This place is unlike any other church in the world. Our visit to el Templo de la Sagrada Familia took place on the first full day of our journey and really started things off with a bang! I can’t wait to return to Barcelona to see it again when construction is completed after 2026.

Amy's Pick - The Alhambra - Granada, Spain

Amy’s Pick – La Alhambra – Granada, Spain

When we stepped off the train in Granada, we were shocked with an unexpected bitter cold. Despite the below freezing temperatures we had an incredible day exploring La Alhambra, one of the most stunning palaces I have ever visited.


Mike's Pick - Porto, Portugal

Mike’s Pick – Port Wine Boats on the Douro River – Oporto, Portugal

We try not to talk about work too much on our trip, but when you work in hospitality and tourism, a RTW trip is filled with very relevant learning opportunities. I have an all new appreciation for port wine after visiting several cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Amy's Pick - Lagos, Portugal

Amy’s Pick – Lagos, Portugal

Lagos was the first of many improvised stops of our trip. To be honest we had never heard of it before, but it was along our bus route from Spain to Lisboa, so we stopped through for a few days. I will always remember Lagos with special sentiment because in my mind it symbolizes spontaneity.


Mike's Pick - Our Riad - Marrakech, Morocco

Mike’s Pick – Our Riad – Marrakech, Morocco

Sipping mint tea in the refuge of our riad was one of the most relaxing experiences of our trip. I loved starting and ending our days sitting right here!

Amy's Pick - Colorful Tiles - Marrakech, Morocco

Amy’s Pick – Bahia Palace – Marrakech, Morocco

The colorful and intricate tiles in Morocco are unbelievably eye-catching. I would love to use tiles like these to decorate our house someday.


Mike's Pick - Mike & Nils - Osted, Denmark

Mike’s Pick – Mike & Nils – Osted, Denmark

Nils (Amy’s host dad from her study abroad experience in 2006) was about as excited for our trip as we were. He and I took many trips “around the world” using these fun shot glasses printed with a world maps.

Amy's Pick - Candles - Osted, Denmark

Amy’s Pick – Candles – Osted, Denmark

These candles represent Danish hygge to me; it is a difficult word to translate into English, but generally embodies spending quality time with family & friends while being cozy, content and relaxed. There was plenty of hygge to go around during our visit with my host family.

Czech Republic

Mike's Pick - Hockey Game - České Budějovice, Czech Republic

Mike’s Pick – Hockey Game – České Budějovice, Czech Republic

During our time in České Budějovice, I had a high fever and terrible case of the flu. I spent three whole days  in bed and even considered going to the hospital, but still but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see a Czech hockey play-off game.

Amy's Pick - View from Castle - Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Amy’s Pick – View from Castle – Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Český Krumlov is one of those magical places that makes you feel like you’re living in a fairytale. I love this photo because it captures the European-style architecture and lazy river that winds through the town.


Mike's Pick - Naschmark - Vienna, Austria

Mike’s Pick – Naschmarkt – Vienna, Austria

A major theme of our blog over the past year has been food. In Vienna, the Naschmarkt is one of the best places to take a stroll, grab a bite, have a beer, and see some really great artisan food and crafts.  We were in Vienna for less than 48 hours, but made two trips to the Naschmarkt during our time there.

Amy's Pick - Coin exchange at hostel - Vienna, Austria

Amy’s Pick – Coin exchange at hostel – Vienna, Austria

We only spent two days in Austria, using Vienna as a stopover for a train connection, however we found this clever coin exchange at our hostel. This photo reminds me of a game we play – whenever we leave a country, we try to use up all of the bills and coins that we have on hand, whether it be buying a piece of candy at a shop or giving it to a fellow traveler.


Mike's Pick - Széchenyi Fürdő - Budapest, Hungary

Mike’s Pick – Széchenyi Fürdő – Budapest, Hungary

Whenever I arrive in a new city and hear about hot springs, thermal baths, or the like I get really excited. Who doesn’t like a nice soak? After a few months of backpacking under our belts, a day relaxing in these amazing public baths was just what the doctor ordered.

Amy's Pick - View from Castle - Budapest, Hungary

Amy’s Pick – View from the Castle – Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is one of my favorite European cities. I love how the river splits it into the Buda side and the Pest side. This day we walked almost 14 miles, exploring both sides of the city and growing our appreciation for how massive, yet accessible, it is.


Mike's Pick - Old Town - Dubrovnik, Croatia

Mike’s Pick – Old Town – Dubrovnik, Croatia

After the Bed Bug fiasco was behind us, we really enjoyed the gorgeous walled city of Dubrovnik. I felt like I had been transported back in time.

Amy's Pick - Hvar Island, Croatia

Amy’s Pick – View from the Castle – Hvar Island, Croatia

This is my favorite self-photo of our entire trip. Somehow it captured Mike at the split second he was sneezing!


Mike's Pick - Stari Most - Mostar, Bosnia

Mike’s Pick – Stari Most – Mostar, Bosnia

When most people think of Bosnia, they think of the war. Few realize what an beautiful place it really is. The iconic bridge of Mostar was destroyed by bombs, but it has since been rebuilt and serves as a symbol of a country trying to heal.

Amy's Pick - War Tunnel Tour - Sarajevo, Bosnia

Amy’s Pick – War Tunnel Tour – Sarajevo, Bosnia

The Bosnian War is the first war I remember as a child, so visiting Sarajevo was very emotional. We took a tour with this man who lived through the war, and it was one of the most inspirational and educational things I did in the past year of traveling.


Mike's Pick - Cave Church - Cappadocia, Turkey

Mike’s Pick – Cave Church – Cappadocia, Turkey

Our first day of exploring in Cappadocia included the Göreme Open Air Museum and its ancient churches and dwellings. Built by early Christians fleeing persecution, it is arguably the “birthplace” of the entire religion. Visiting was a very spiritual experience for me.

Amy's Pick - Blue Mosque - Istanbul, Turkey

Amy’s Pick – Blue Mosque – Istanbul, Turkey

The mosques of Istanbul are a sight to behold. Spending a few weeks in Istanbul taught me so much about Islam. Visiting Istanbul helped me to understand that it is possible for traditionalists, modernists, and everyone in between to coexist without surrendering their cultural identity.


Mike's Pick - Food Stand - Shanghai, China

Mike’s Pick – Food Stand – Shanghai, China

For me, one of the coolest parts of traveling is snacking my way through a city. We ate these rice dumplings almost every morning in Shanghai. Some cities in the US have food carts/trucks, but nothing quite compares to the street food scene in Asia. Forget what the State Department tells you; my advice, when you travel abroad EAT STREET FOOD!!!

Amy's Pick - Rice Terraces - Dazhai, China

Amy’s Pick – Rice Terraces – Dazhai, China

In the midst of China’s traffic jams, overpopulation, pollution, and noise, the rice terraces of Dazhai were the perfect escape for a few days of peace. I love this picture because we spent nearly an hour getting this shot with both of us in the air.

Hong Kong

Mike's Pick - View from Victoria Peak - Hong Kong

Mike’s Pick – View from Victoria Peak – Hong Kong

It may seem like a concrete jungle, but Hong Kong actually has some really great hikes, beaches, and islands. I really enjoyed our hike around Victoria Peak which ended with this panoramic view of the city.

Amy's Pick - Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong

Amy’s Pick – Cheung Chau Island – Hong Kong

The stark contrast between landscapes in Hong Kong surprised me: a mega city that also has remote wilderness islands. We spent the day at the beach and hiking the perimeter of Cheung Chau island.

South Korea

Mike's Pick - Haeundae Sand Festival - Busan, South Korea

Mike’s Pick – Haeundae Sand Festival – Busan, South Korea

There aren’t a lot of beaches in Colorado; so it’s not big surprise that I had never seen sand art like this before. These artists are ridiculously good.

Amy's Pick - Sushi Dinner - Busan, South Korea

Amy’s Pick – Sushi Dinner – Busan, South Korea

We had a hard time fitting this sushi dinner into one photograph! It included everything from raw sea squirt to mud eel. Even though we shared no common language with the couple sitting next to us, they walked us through each dish and how to eat it properly.


Mike's Pick - Restaurant - Tokyo, Japan

Mike’s Pick – Restaurant – Tokyo, Japan

When we sat down and ordered, we had no idea what we were about to eat. We just got what everyone else was having. I like this picture because it reminds me of how the cooks complimented us on our chopstick skills and Japanese table manners.

Amy's Pick - Fushimi Inari Shrine - Kyoto, Japan

Amy’s Pick – Fushimi Inari Shrine – Kyoto, Japan

I love this photo because of the sheer color!


Mike's Pick - Bowl of Phở - Hanoi, Vietnam

Mike’s Pick – Bowl of Phở – Hanoi, Vietnam

Phở. #enoughsaid

Amy's Pick - Madonna Rock Dive Site - Nha Trang, Vietnam

Amy’s Pick – Madonna Rock Dive Site – Nha Trang, Vietnam

SCUBA diving is one of the coolest things I have ever learned to do. This was our very first day of diving – we didn’t have the hang of buoyancy yet, so the fact that our dive master captured this photo was something of a miracle.


Mike's Pick - Banteay Srei Temple - Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Mike’s Pick – Banteay Srei Temple – Angkor Wat, Cambodia

What can I say about Angkor Wat? This place is just sooooo cool. Cambodia may not have delicious food like Vietnam or dreamy beaches like Thailand, but Angkor Wat is more than a good enough reason to visit.

Amy's Pick - Ta Prohm Temple - Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Amy’s Pick – Ta Prohm Temple – Angkor Wat, Cambodia

I love this picture because it allows you to actually see the thousands of years of history that has taken place at Angkor Wat. The sheer size of this tree’s roots growing into the temple walls helps you to appreciate its place in the past and present.


Mike's Pick - Elephant Reserve - Chiang Mai, Thailand

Mike’s Pick – Elephant Reserve – Chiang Mai, Thailand

We spent a lot of quality time with animals in Thailand: riding on elephants – cuddling with tigers – fending off monkeys.

Amy's Pick - Pad Thai - Bangkok, Thailand

Amy’s Pick – Pad Thai – Bangkok, Thailand

Pad Thai with tofu is my absolute favorite Thai dish and I miss eating it every day for breakfast! Surprisingly, considering all of the times we ate it, I can’t believe this is the only photo we took.


Mike's Pick - Mekong River - Vientiane, Laos

Mike’s Pick – Mekong River – Vientiane, Laos

This amazing sunset over the Mekong in Vientiane was one of my favorite from the entire year. You wouldn’t know it from this picture, but it seemed like the entire city came out to the river that evening to watch the sun slowly disappear.

Amy's Pick - Flight from Luang Prabang to Vientiane - Laos

Amy’s Pick – Flight from Luang Prabang to Vientiane – Laos

After the most horrifying bus ride ever from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang, we decided to fly back to Vientiane instead of enduring another death-trap bus. This was the most beautiful flight of my entire life – the mud brown Mekong twisting through deep green jungle.


Mike's Pick - View of Downtown - Singapore

Mike’s Pick – View of Downtown – Singapore

It may be a small country, but I was really impressed by Singapore’s modern architecture.

Amy's Pick - The Helix Bridge - Singapore

Amy’s Pick – The Helix Bridge – Singapore

The truth is that Mike stole the photo I wanted to choose for Singapore, so I picked this one instead. This photo is of the ground of a DNA helix-shaped bridge in Singapore. My nerdy science-loving side really loved this bridge:-) The A and the T represent the nucleotides adenine and thymine.


Mike's Pick - Salang - Tioman Island, Malaysia

Mike’s Pick – Salang – Tioman Island, Malaysia

SCUBA diving and beach-time pretty much sum up our month in Malaysia. 15 tanks each in less than 30 days. In retrospect, I think we should have stayed longer.

Amy's Pick - Long Beach - Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Amy’s Pick – Long Beach – Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

This is a place where two days turned into four, and four into six, and six days into two weeks. I loved living on the beach, relaxing, diving and having a blank mind.


Mike's Pick - Gnaraloo Station - Gnaraloo, Australia

Mike’s Pick – Gnaraloo Station – Gnaraloo, Australia

If you’ve been reading our blog since the beginning, then you may recognize our friends here.  It was our first time in Australia, but they really made us feel at home.  Juan wasn’t very pleased with the fishing that week, but the Coral Trout I caught is enough to keep me enthusiastic about giving it another go.

Amy's Pick - Fishing - Gnaraloo, Australia

Amy’s Pick – Fishing – Gnaraloo Reef, Australia

A memory of the first fish I ever caught in the open water!

New Zealand

Mike's Pick - Kaikoura, New Zealand

Mike’s Pick – Kaikoura, New Zealand

We almost left Kaikoiura the day before this picture was taken. I am glad that we decided to stay another night, because we would have missed out on a great hike and some unforgettable views.

Amy's Pick - Lake Wakatipu - Queenstown, New Zealand

Amy’s Pick – Lake Wakatipu – Queenstown, New Zealand

This is only one of the hundreds of beautiful scenic photos from our month in New Zealand. This road into Queenstown from the south is one of the most spectacular drives I have ever taken.


Mike's Pick - Laguna Tebenquiche - San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Mike’s Pick – Laguna Tebenquiche – San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

The water in this lake was so salty that it felt thick when I walked through it. The natural wonders of San Pedro de Atacama left me in awe day after day.

Amy's Pick - Pan de Azucar National Park - Chile

Amy’s Pick – Pan de Azucar National Park – Chile

After a week of camping at Pan de Azucar, one of the most tranquilo and beautiful places that I saw in Chile, we hitchhiked back into town to catch our bus. Our ride was from a local fisherman, and I had the luck of riding in the back of his truck along with his day’s catch. During that ride I remember thinking to myself “now this is traveling!”


Mike's Pick - Christmas Parrillada - Escobar, Argentina

Mike’s Pick – Christmas Asado – Escobar, Argentina

I’m really going to miss this. But I always have Tio Francis in Denver, so I guess I’ll survive 🙂

Amy's Pick - Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Amy’s Pick – Iguazu Falls – Puerto Iguazu, Argentina

During our second day visiting Iguazu Falls, we were graced with perfectly blue skies and a rainbow across the falls!


Mike's Pick - Practice for Carnival - Montevideo, Uruguay

Mike’s Pick – Practice for Carnaval – Montevideo, Uruguay

Hopefully this was just a small taste of things to come during Carnaval in Cartagena.

Amy's Pick - The Hand Sculpture - Punta del Este, Uruguay

Amy’s Pick – The Hand Sculpture – Punta del Este, Uruguay

This sculpture is just plain fun. It makes you feel like there is a giant living underneath the sand, waiting to grab you off your towel while you’re sunbathing.


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Despite the many posts that we have made about our RTW trip thus far, there is always so much more to share. Deciding what to write about and what to skip is a constant debate for us, and we are sure that many other travel bloggers encounter the same dilemma. Sometimes we leave stories out because you simply had to be there to get it; other times we choose not to write about a destination because we can’t find the right approach; and then there are the instances where we choose not to write because we’ve been posting so much that we don’t want to overwhelm our readers (or ourselves). The story of our week in Beijing falls into all three of these categories and will be the first in a new series of posts called “Travel Throwbacks” that will include tales of destinations, strange encounters, and of course many photos from past adventures that we have not yet shared on our blog.


We arrived in Beijing in May via high-speed train from Shanghai.Riding a long distance train in China (or any form of public transit for that matter) is always quite an experience, and this journey was no exception. The landscape between Shanghai and Beijing is barren and dry, almost reminiscent of Nevada in places. As we sped along the tracks, cities began to appear in the distance. Generally the term “ghost town” is used to describe cities that once were, but these ghost towns are cities yet to be. Huge boulevards, sky scrapers, and massive housing complexes sat complete but empty, still waiting for inhabitants. No doubt these cities are meant to help handle China’s enormous population and rapidly growing middle class, as well as to keep unemployment at bay, but it was a strange and eerie sight none the less.

Image Credits: http://financialpostbusiness.files.wordpress.com (top right), Michael Christopher Brown/TIME Magazine (bottom center)

Once inside the city, it became apparent that Beijing is China’s tourism hot spot for a reason – there are soooooooo many things to see. The city attracts not only foreigners, but an immeasurable number  domestic tourists each year. The main attractions are The Forbidden City and The Great Wall of China, but the list also includes the 2008 Olympic Green, Tiananmen Square, the Imperial Summer & Winter Palaces, Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum, the list goes on and on. Certainly we did not see everything in Beijing, but we think we made a pretty good run at it. So prepare yourself for a very long read…

The Forbidden City

This is probably Beijing’s most well-known and sought-after historical sight. Based on advice from fellow travelers, we showed up an hour before the ticket office opened in an attempt to beat the crowds, but lines had already formed. While we were thankful to be amongst the first to enter the city’s walls, we were still amazed by the sheer number of people flooding through the gates. Although The Forbidden City has been open to tourists for some time, some parts still are forbidden. We were frustrated by the red tape and barriers, but happy to find an amazing view of the entire complex from the hill of Jingshan Park. The walled city is so expansive that you need a panoramic lens to fit it all in one picture.

Tiananmen Square

Situated across the street from The Forbidden City is the famous Tiananmen Square, as well as Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum. It felt surreal to walk through Tiananmen Square. We grew up knowing the story of the deadly protest that took place there in 1989, and were moved to experience the surroundings ourselves. Perhaps not surprisingly, the square is heavily guarded by Chinese military. Unlike most public squares in the world, gathering and loitering here are not encouraged. You have to go through metal detectors and security just to enter the square. There are no benches where you can sit. If you stand in one place for too long, you’ll be told to move along. Yet, there is also a massive electronic display that continually plays propaganda films of a prosperous China with happy people and unspoiled nature. Interesting to say the least.

At the far end of the Square, opposite the Forbidden City, sits Mao’s Mausoleum. If you do not know who Chairman Mao Zedong is, please stop for a moment to find out here. Mao’s body is open to the public for viewing most mornings, and we were interested to take a look. It was quite the experience! We stood in the long, winding line for nearly an hour and, after going through metal detectors, we entered the building. The Chinese people treat this as a religious experience. There are no photographs allowed, no talking, and one must not stop walking. The body itself looks fake, like a perfect wax replica. Perhaps it is, we will never know.

Olympic Green

We took a day off from exploring Beijing’s ancient sites and rode the subway to the Olympic Green. It was fun to see the buildings in person that created such a world-wide frenzy during the 2008 Summer Olympics. It was also exciting to be there just months before the 2012 Games began. The first thing that we noticed was the fact that acres of land must have been flattened in order to open up room for this massive pavilion; we could only imagine the masses of people that roamed the land four years ago. The Water Cube is a true architectural wonder. Its luminescent bubble-like structure make you feel as if you’re swimming in a bath. As we walked away from the Water Cube and Bird’s Nest, we noticed that the Olympic Green sits on a straight axis with the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, which you can see on a clear day (we were lucky as this is rare in the often dusty city). Overall, visiting Beijing’s Olympic Green made us want to attend the Olympics someday. It has officially been added to our bucket list.

Temple of Heaven

Yet another example of Beijing’s very ancient cultural heritage is the Temple of Heaven.  Located in the southeastern part of the city, this temple complex dates back to the early 1400s and was used for religious ceremonies.  Its primary purpose was to serve as the site for an annual sacrificial offering to heaven asking for a plenty harvest. Rightfully so, the main attraction is an enormous, three-tiered, circular structure known as the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. An interesting and somewhat comical bit of history that we came across was a small wooden called the Seventy Year Old Door. The story goes that at the age of 70, Emperor Qianlong was in poor health and had a small doorway cut into a temple wall to shorten his walk to the offering sight. He feared that the new door would cause his decedents to become lazy, so he made a royal decree that only those who had reached the age of 70 should be permitted to pass through the doorway.

Surrounding the temple are a series of gardens which are a popular weekend getaway for locals seeking a bit of refuge from the chaos of Beijing’s streets. Families pack picnics and spend all day lounging in the shade, listening to music, playing games and dancing in the squares.

Summer & Winter Palaces

While The Forbidden City is the most iconic Imperial Palace, it is not the only royal residence to be found in Beijing. Trust us when we say that the Summer and Winter Palaces are not too shabby either.  They may not have the labyrinths of rooms, courtyards and corridors that The Forbidden City does, but boy oh boy are they stunning!  The Summer Palace is situated outside of the city center and the grounds contain two substantially sized lakes. There are numerous temples, galleries and reception halls speckled amongst rocky hills, small rivers, cool woods and green lawns. It isn’t hard to imagine why the emperors and their families enjoyed spending the hot summer days in this little slice of paradise.  The grounds of the Winter Palace, on the other hand, are quite a bit smaller (probably because not too many people enjoy leisurely strolls in the freezing cold) and are located right in the heart of Beijing.

The Night Market

Aside from its many tourist attractions, Beijing is also know for a unique characteristic that has been dubbed “hutong culture.” Branching off of the main streets are a maze of small alleys and walkways. Some of the best food and hang out spots can be found in the most conspicuous locations. If you are seeking a taste of the wild side, but aren’t a fan of wandering around in places that aren’t on any tourist maps, then we suggest checking out the night market instead. As is the case with many international cities, Beijing has a happening night market with an entire section dedicated to quick eats. Beijing’s market in particular definitely offers some things that you won’t find anywhere else.  Case in point: skewered scorpions! It took us a few minutes to work up the nerve to give it a go, but eventually we did manage to stomach four scorpions each. Scorpions may be dangerous, but they had better remember who is really on top of the food chain.

Lastly, no trip to Beijing is complete with a day spent on The Great Wall. Just after our visit, we dedicated an entire post to our day of hiking there, which you can read here. We think you’ve probably read enough for the day, so we’ll leave it at that. Thanks for reading.

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It’s hard to believe that our time in Asia has drawn to a close. 5 months in 9 countries and we’ve only barely scraped the surface of this enormous continent. In many ways, Asia really stretched us beyond our comfort zone. We became comfortable communicating using improvised sign language with people who spoke no English, tried foods we never knew existed, learned how to SCUBA dive, perfected our chopstick skills, witnessed extreme gaps between wealth & poverty, met new friends & reconnected with old ones, rode on elephants, played with tigers & fended off monkeys, learned how to use eastern toilets, climbed the Great Wall of China, visited schools in Korea & Japan, rode a Shinkansen bullet train, explored ancient ruins, learned how to drive motorbikes (on the left side of the road), went to a Muay Thai match, and survived the most terrifying yet beautiful bus ride of our lives.

While we have seen and done a lot, we are already talking about our next trip to Asia. When that will be, who knows? But when we do return it will be with a sense of pure excitement and anticipation. We have truly come to appreciate that the blanket term “Asian” as in “Asian food” that is often used at home is really a very poor descriptor. The diversity of cultures, foods, languages, religions and geography of this continent is simply astounding. This time around, we stuck to the eastern side of the region, but western China, Nepal, Russia, “the ‘stans”, India, Burma, Bangladesh and Indonesia are ranking high on our list of places to visit next time around.

Now we have departed on a new phase of our journey: 6 weeks in Australia and New Zealand. Looking back on our first continent jump, from Europe to Asia, we were both a bit apprehensive and anxious. We were ready for more excitement and the uncertainty that Asia would bring, but we were also nervous about visiting a region of our world that was so foreign to us. On the surface, this continent jump may appear to be an easier adjustment, as we will be returning to “western” customs and the English speaking world; however, it is often said that going back to what you know after being abroad can actually be the greatest culture shock of all.

As a recap of the past 5 months, below are 5 of our favorite blogs from our time in Asia. If you have some time on your hands, you can read all of our posts about Asia by clicking here.

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As a nation, Malaysia boasts one of the highest numbers of public holidays in the world, so it is no big surprise that our trip to the city of Melaka overlapped with Malaysia Day, a national holiday to commemorate the country’s formation. As usual, we had no idea of this before we arrived. Luckily we had booked a hostel in advance based on the recommendation of a bartender on Tioman Island, so we were all set to battle the crowds when we arrived. And were there ever crowds! Since Melaka is less than a two hour drive south of Kuala Lumpur, many people from KL made the short journey for the holiday weekend. The celebration was in full swing, with live music, fireworks and food filled streets.

Malaysia is a very young country, only celebrating their 55th birthday on this past Malaysia Day. As a port city, Melaka is a good representation of Malaysia’s long history of foreign control and struggle for independence. The city was captured by the Portuguese in the early 1500s, taken by the Dutch in the 1600s, then fell to the British in 1824. All of these nations exploited their military power to seize and utilize the port of Melaka as a major trading station. During WWII, Melaka was even occupied by Japanese before finally be liberated in 1948 to rejoin the current day nation of Malaysia.

These historic factors, including the heavy immigration of Indian and Chinese populations, make the food scene in Melaka a diverse and delicious endeavor. Its been awhile since we made food the main focus of one of our posts, but our passion for it hasn’t gone anywhere. We spent a good amount of time exploring the street food scene and local restaurants. One of our favorite dishes, roti canai, is an Indian style flat bread that is served with curry and/or chickpea dipping sauce. At only 1.60RM (or about 50 cents USD) it cannot be beat.

Based on a recommendation from the owner of our hostel, we headed out one night to try Capitol Satay, a famous restaurant in Melaka where you cook skewers of veggies and meat in a bubbling vat of peanut sauce at your table. We arrived to a “closed” sign, perhaps because of the holiday, and were quite disappointed; luckily, we noticed that the entire street is full of knock-off skewer restaurants imitating their renowned neighbor. We found a suitable alternative and decided to give it a shot. To put it plainly, the meal was cheap, fun and delicious.

The food stalls at the weekend night market on the popular Jonker Street are a good representation of Melaka’s melting pot. Everything from chicken rice, poh piah, potatoes on a stick, grilled seafood, stir-fried radish cakes, sushi, noodle bowls, sweet iced drinks like soya milk and hibiscus tea, dumplings, sago gula Melaka, shaved ice, and so much more are available.

Aside from chowing on food all day long, we managed to get ourselves out for a bit of sightseeing as well. As is evidenced by the multi-cultural food scene, the presence of diverse religions is also clear. In one block you can walk by an ancient Buddhist temple, a mosque, and a Christian church. One day when we were walking through the Dutch Square, we decided why not go inside the Church of Melaka? While the architecture wasn’t particularly impressive, there seemed to be a service about to begin so we grabbed a couple hymn books and sat down to join. After reading through a few pages, Mike looks up and says “Is this a memorial service?” It sure was, and next thing we know a casket is being wheeled in through the front door. It was an awkward moment to say the least, but we managed to squeeze out the side door before anyone could ask us to share a memory about the deceased. Phew, that was a close one.

After celebrating Malaysia Day and grubbing our way through Melaka, we were faced with the choice of how to best fill our two weeks of time before catching our October 2nd flight to Perth. Two weeks is certainly enough time to explore some of Malaysia’s great national parks and the well-known Cameron Highlands, but we realized that after 8 months on the road, we had hit a bit of a wall; we were not tired of traveling, we were tired from traveling. There was only one solution that we could see, so we did what any reasonable person would have done…We found another great island and decided to spend the remainder of our days here basking in the sun.

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The snoring began at 11:57pm on Tuesday September 18th on a night bus from Melaka to Kota Bharu. 40 minutes into the hurricane of noise coming from the seat behind me, I decided to whip out the computer and write this…

The guy on my bus right now clearly has a terrible case of sleep apnea, causing him to inhale massive gulps of air through his mouth, nostrils and what seems like many other holes on his face. I am seriously in fear that he might suck up all of the oxygen on this bus, leaving the rest of us dead. But that may actually be a nice reprieve. He is a true sasquatch, as I’ve come to call them. Just being a snorer does not make you a sasquatch. One crosses the line into sasquatch-dom when at least 5 different noises are produced while snoring.

I mean, how is Mike sleeping through this? I am in awe that those ear plugs are doing any good.

No clue how he does this

Me on the other hand, I am not so enthused. My thought right now: why the hell are we going to the Perhentian Islands anyway?

Me being really pissed off

My disdain for snorers started long ago, and has grown to a deep seated hatred over the course of this RTW trip. Let me share a few of the stories to help you understand why.

Zagreb, Croatia – March 28th, 2012. After taking the train in from Budapest, Mike and I stopped for the night in Zagreb before making the long haul down to Split early in the morning. We met one of our dorm mates, a nice college girl from the States, and enjoyed a fantastic Croatian/Italian feast up the street from our hostel. We climbed into bed, a few glasses of wine in us, and fell asleep rather quickly. After a few hours, *slam* goes the door, *sound of rustling clothing*, feet up the ladder, and BAM the most intense snoring I have ever heard begins faster than you can say fuck. I swing my head off the top bunk and say to Mike, “Oh my god, I’m going to kill those 2 guys!” and Mike’s like “What 2 guys?” I could not believe my ears, but that horrible sound was seriously only coming out of one person. It didn’t take long before my anger was boiling so high that we relocated ourselves to the couches in the common room.

The best couch bed in the world

Istanbul, Turkey – April 11th, 2012. We checked into our hostel, a lovely and clean place right in the heart of Sultanahmet, just a few blocks from the world famous Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. After an awesome day of sightseeing, we came back, showered up, and plopped ourselves into bed. After some time, a fellow dorm mate arrives and starts up snoring louder than I have ever heard in my life. This guy takes the cake by 255% over “man who sounds like two” from Zagreb. Unfortunately this hostel’s common area locked at midnight, so there was nowhere for us to go. I walked out in the lobby to sit and let my anger fester a bit, which prompted some questions from the front desk guy. I explained the situation. He said “just wake him up or stuff a dirty sock in his mouth; I used to do it all the time back when I was in the army.” Never before in my life did I imagine that I would shake a stranger awake for snoring…but, I did. And so did Mike. And so did another bunk mate. We shook this guy awake over and over and over and over and over again and he just kept at it. Snoring like mad. No one in our 12 person dorm room could sleep. Mike even resorted to taking a sleeping pill. Finally, after a few hours, I went back to my friend and the front desk and begged him to let us sleep in the lobby. He wouldn’t let us sleep on the couch, but agreed to something even better; we finally got some solace in another dorm room.

Tokyo, Japan – June 19th, 2012. One night Mike must have figured, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. The previous night we’d discovered that we not only had a snorer in our dorm room, but a sleep talker as well, a very boisterous and animated sleep talker at that. In an effort to help ourselves sleep a bit more heavily on our second night in Tokyo, we shared some beverages with a few Aussies at our hostel. They must have done the job for Mike more than me, because he was out like a light as soon as his head hit the pillow. Soon enough sleep talker starts up. And not too long after a new arrival has added in his snores. Next thing I know, Mike has joined the crew too, and I had a god damn snoring/sleep babbling symphony on my hands. If you think snoring is bad, you don’t know anything until you’re in a room with 3 of them!

So there you have it, a brief history of my hate for snorers. Although, I will admit that I’ve had an epiphany on this bus ride tonight.

There is nothing I can do about said snorers, other than physically remove myself from the situation (although not really possible in this particular instance on the bus, I did consider throwing myself out the bus when sasquatch started up a few hours ago). Anyway, if I can’t control the situation, why not just laugh about it? People who willingly put themselves into a dorm room of strangers, knowing full well that everyone will hate them for snoring, are buffoons and buffoons deserve to be made fun of. After nine months on the road, and many encounters with snorers, I have finally learned that to remedy my hatred, all I have to do is laugh.


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Our days in SE Asia are numbered, and as they draw to an end we have found ourselves drifting among the islands of the Indo-Pacific. Well, not drifting in the literal sense, more like hopping from island to island without knowing how long we will stay nor where we will go next.

The last two weeks have been spent on two islands that sit in stark contrast to one another, yet have both found a special place in our hearts. Our post today is a tale of two islands: the bustling island-nation of Singapore and the once famous, but now somewhat forgotten, Tioman Island.

The Isle of Singapore

Like so many of our favorite stops on this RTW expedition, we hadn’t initially intended on visiting Singapore. Its reputation amongst young backpackers is that it is far too expensive and really not worth the time. We heard similar complaints about Hong Kong and enjoyed it, so when we found a cheap flight on Tiger Airlines, we opted to make Singapore our launch pad into Indonesia.

After spending months in Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao & Thailand, Singapore hit us like a sack of bricks.  “Wait, that’s the price for one beer? I thought that was for a whole pitcher.” The rumors about steep prices couldn’t have been more true, but over the next few days we came to realize that Singapore is definitely worth every cent.

The first thing to catch our eye was the skyline of the city. The architecture is a perfectly woven combination of restored historical buildings, ultra-modern design, multilane highways and small public squares and parks. The city is also immaculately clean; you literally have to seek out rubbish and graffiti. This, however, may be due to the fact that nearly everything is against the law; where else will you find yourself getting fined for not flushing the toilet?

As if in symphony with the city’s complex structural design, the people of Singapore offer a diverse mix of ethnicities, cuisines, religions, cultures and languages. As is the case with most major cities, the first immigrants to Singapore formed smaller communities leaving the modern day city with a Little India, China Town and Arab Street, but the city center is far from segregated. On just one street you can walk by a mosque, temple, shrine, church and synagogue, all while hearing people speak English, Malay, Tamil, Arabic and Cantonese.

After a few days exploring Singapore’s urban sector, we were beginning to feel trapped by the concrete jungle, so we hopped on a bus across the island and headed for, you guessed it, another island. Pulau Ubin is small, sparsely developed and sits between Singapore and Malaysia. It is reachable by a 15 minute ferry and is a popular escape for Singaporeans looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Mountain biking, kayaking, camping, fishing, and trekking make Pulau Ubin the best bet for outdoor enthusiasts visiting Singapore.

Exhausted and with sore butts, we returned to the city after a day of biking and headed to Brewerkz, our favorite watering hole in Singapore. Any beer loving person who has spent some time in Asia will tell you that stumbling across a micro-brewery is like finding an oasis in the dessert. We figured if we were going to drop some coin on beer in Singapore, better to spend it on these delicious craft brews instead of the same old watery Chang, Tiger, and Beer Lao that is found throughout the region.

As we said earlier, Singapore was supposed to be our gateway to Indonesia, but the ferry situation turned out to be more costly, time consuming and complicated than we originally anticipated. We had been hoping to do some more SCUBA diving anyway, so we decided to look into some other options…

Tioman Island – A Lesser Known Paradise

One night in Singapore, we sat at our hostel pouring over information about the best dive sites in Malaysia. The good news? There didn’t seem to be a shortage. The gold medal goes to the world-renowned Sipadan, however, due to its distant location on Borneo and the fact that diving there requires months of advanced booking, we decided on another option.

Tioman Island was made famous by the movie South Pacific and in the 1970s was included in Time Magazine as one of the world’s most beautiful islands, but in recent decades has lost much of its luster.   It was a place we’d never heard of before, but we were intrigued by the beautiful pictures of its coral reefs and seemingly easy commute from Singapore. Without giving ourselves time to think twice, we booked our tickets and were setting off to Tioman just 24 hours later.

To make a long story short, we fell in love with Tioman, spent many more days there than we intended, and could not stop SCUBA diving. Two dives turned into four, four into six, and six into nine. There are many reasons to love Tioman. First, the entire island is surrounded by a marine park with crystal clear water that gently fades into a spectrum of turquoise blue that can only be found in a true tropical paradise; perfect for diving and snorkeling. Our adventures at sea offered us glimpses of Hawksbill Turtles, Reef Sharks, Barracuda, and a seemingly endless abundance of marine life.

What’s more, the entire island is duty-free! What does that mean exactly? Tioman is one of the few places in Malaysia where you can find cheap booze and cheap tobacco, in a country that otherwise imposes a very hefty tax on these items. Shhhhhhh….don’t tell the wild party kids that have managed to ruin so many of SE Asia’s most beautiful places. Despite the duty-free aspect of Tioman, it still does not attract hoards of party-ready backpackers, but rather offers a bar scene that is a very chilled out, one where tourists and locals mingle and chat under a star-filled sky.

Furthermore, the entire island is layered with jungle that covers the land from shore to mountaintop making it virtually inaccessible by vehicle. So what’s so great about thick jungle? It’s ideal for island trekking (assuming you’ve applied a thick layer of DEET) with plenty of chance to see wildlife, ranging from monitor lizards to monkeys to the world’s largest flower.

Last but not least, the entire island offers fantastic food. OK, not the entire island, but there is an amazing BBQ seafood restaurant in Tekek village that serves up fresh snapper, prawns, marlin, barracuda, lobster and so much more, all for a ridiculously cheap price. You may be thinking “fresh fish from a marine reserve?” Don’t worry, everything they serve was caught well outside the boundaries of the Tioman Marine Park; we’re certain of this because we saw the island’s lead marine biologist and conservation team eating there every night.

While relatively close together, Singapore and Tioman are worlds apart. Singapore offers all of the luxuries of an international hub, but comes along with traffic, high prices and over development. Tioman can leave you feeling a bit isolated, with nothing more than small villages speckled along its coasts, but provides a genuine island experience. Is one better than the other? We don’t think so; they’re just two different islands on this planet we all call home.

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What, you may be wondering, is the meaning of Rastafarthai? It’s quite simple actually, Rastafarai + Thai person = Rastafarthai. We started using this word to describe some of the locals who work on Railay Beach in Thailand, which we visited a few weeks back. And thanks to Google, we now speculate that we may in fact be the original coiners of this well suited term. Although we did not take any photos of said Rastafarthais, we did manage to pull one off the interweb. It was probably taken by some backpacker who pointed their camera way too close to the rasta’s face and then walked away, like we saw so many tourists do. I mean, how would you like it if someone walked into your office, took your picture, and then turned around and left without saying one word to you? #awkward. Anyway, without further ado, here is a visual of a real-life Rastafarthai.

We aren’t sure how dreadlocks and reggae made their way from the Caribbean to SE Asia, but think it’s worth mentioning since many of the activities on Railay are not exactly traditional Thai customs. Most are quite “hippy” really (i.e. tightrope walking, fire dancing, Connect Four, rock climbing, joint smoking, guitar playing…you get the picture). Sure, we’re taking some liberties here by drawing a parallel between rastas and hippies, but it’s not too far off really, is it?

Railay Beach is an interesting place. A drop dead gorgeous place. A relaxing place. An island paradise (that isn’t technically an island). A place with no cars, only footpaths and boats for transportation. A place where wealthy tourists staying at 5-star hotels mingle with backpackers sleeping in $3/night huts. And of course, there are the Rastafarthai who are a strange breed in this predominately Muslim region of southern Thailand.

While the ocean view from our bungalow and delicious food at “Mom’s Kitchen” made the thought of staying for weeks tempting, we decided to relocate to nearby Koh Lanta; while not as abundant as in Railay, the Rastafarthai culture seems to be gaining ground on Lanta as well.

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“Oh, you make visa run” was the response of a travel agent when we first inquired about booking a bus ticket to Vientiane. He was a bit surprised when we told him that we actually wanted to stay there. Bangkok, Saigon, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore are all bustling, world-renowned capital cities of SE Asia, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. And then there is Vientiane, often called the world’s sleepiest capital. For many travelers in SE Asia, Vientiane is nothing more than a place to go to renew their Thai visa. They cross the border and then head back to Chiang Mai or Bangkok the same day. We didn’t have high expectations, but didn’t want to dismiss Vientiane without giving it a try, so we decided to spend a couple days checking it out.

Like many other cities in the region, the mighty Mekong River is at the heart and soul of Vientiane. Here it is very wide and flows slowly beside the city creating a natural border with neighboring Thailand. As if saying “Welcome to Vientiane,” Mother Nature granted us a spectacular sunset over the river on the first evening. The fire-like reds and subtle purple hues in the sky were simply incredible.

Just 30 minutes outside of the city lays Xieng Khuan, known to many as the Buddha Park. It was a hellishly bumpy and dusty tuk-tuk ride to get there, but well worth the journey. The main attraction at this relatively small park is an enormous statue of Buddha lying on his side. When we say enormous, we mean it; the feet alone are about two meters tall! Although it may be a cop-out to say “pictures don’t do it justice,” we’re going to play that card anyway.

On our last day in town before boarding the night train to Bangkok, we felt obligated to visit Pha That Luang, the Great Stupa. This temple is the quintessential image of Vientiane, also featured on Laos’ currency. While not as stunning as the statues at the Buddha Park in our opinion, it too was worth a visit. It is an impressively symmetrical structure and worshiped as the holiest Buddhist temple in Laos due to a sliver of Buddha’s breast bone which is kept as a relic inside.

Our walks along the Mekong, visits to the Buddha Park and Great Stupa, and days spent wandering through markets on a quest to find tasty Laotian noodle bowls were all reasons we enjoyed our time in Vientiane. It is certainly deserving of more than its Visa run reputation, and we would encourage all who come to SE Asia to stop through Vientiane.

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Please Don’t Rush

The nation of Laos is officially known by the name of Lao P.D.R. (People’s Democratic Republic), but to many travelers this name also symbolizes a deeply rooted part of the Lao identity. It is often said that locals operate on “Lao Time,” meaning that they are friendly and helpful, but in no particular hurry to get anything done. So backpackers have dubbed it with the not so official name of Lao P.D.R. (Please Don’t Rush). We embraced the P.D.R. attitude and took our time exploring the town and outskirts of Luang Prabang.

It was a welcomed change to move away from the backpacker party scene in Vang Vieng and into the beautifully serene and laid back town of Luang Prabang. The town even has a nightly curfew of midnight which contributes to its low-key environment.

We hired bikes one morning and set off to explore the rolling hills that surround Luang Prabang. The Mekong and its tributaries wind through the landscape while temples and shrines speckle the countryside. On our single-track bicycles, we quickly learned that the “rolling hills” are steeper than they appear. Hydration stops and fruit shake breaks helped us get through the toughest parts.

Waking up very sore and stiff the next morning, we opted to take a boat cruise up the Mekong River.  We piled on board with two other couples and set off towards some villages and caves up river from Luang Prabang. There is something so mesmerizing about the Mekong. It really embodies the “please don’t rush” mentality as it meanders its way through the lush green countryside. The muddy brown waters were running high from the recent rains which made the journey to the cave a bit slower than usual but equally if not more beautiful. We stopped in a small village whose specialty is lao lao whiskey, made from sticky rice, had a few tastes for good measure, and kept on our way.

The caves at the end of the trip were more impressive than we’d imagined. For thousands of years, the two caves we visited have been used as places of worship. The native people of Lao used to worship spirits of nature and believed that the riverside caves were connected with the water gods. After Buddhism arrived in the region, the caves gradually became religious shrines and house countless statues of the Lord Buddha left as offerings by faithful pilgrims.

Another well-known attraction in the area is Kuang Si Falls. When it comes to waterfalls, Amy is hard to impress. The many falls of the Colombia River Gorge near her hometown of Portland, OR are tough to beat. This particular waterfall definitely met her expectations. At first, it seemed like nothing more than a fast flowing jungle river with some small drop offs, pools, and rope swings. As we made our way upstream, we stopped for some fun and took a few turns on the swing ourselves before running into one of the most spectacular waterfalls we have ever seen. This bad boy seemed to stretch on forever as it disappeared into the clouds escaping the reach of our camera lens.

Luang Prabang is the type of place where you can easily get swept away by the nightly market, amazing scenery and easy going locals. Our goal of circumnavigating the globe, however, means that we have to keep moving, even when we want to stay. The lengthy bus ride through winding, mudslide-ridden, mountain passes that we took from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang was more than we could handle for a second time, so we opted for a short 30 minute flight to Vientiane. In true Lao fashion it turned out to be the easiest and most stress-free travel experience of our trip so far; factor in the brand new airplane, tasty on-board vegetarian snack and breathtaking aerial views of the Mekong, and it may go down as the best flight ever!

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To Tube, or Not to Tube

There is pretty much one reason that young travelers go to Vang Vieng, Laos: to tube down the Nam Song River. But would you hop into an inner tube and float down a river where nearly 30 people died last year?

We arrived in Vang Vieng last week after an exhausting journey on four different buses. Our original plan was to spend a few days in Vientiane before heading north, but pretty much everyone on our mini-bus was enthusiastically headed to Vang Vieng for some tubing, and since we had already been on the road for 14 hours anyway, we decided to tag along. It wasn’t until we arrived in town and started doing some research that we realized just how fatal the activity can be. While any river can be dangerous, it’s the atmosphere in Vang Vieng that makes the Nam Song especially treacherous. The banks of the river are lined with float-up bars that indiscriminately hand out welcome shots of whisky and serve everything from beer to opium.

After some deliberation, we decided to attempt floating the river the next morning, but with safety, not partying, as our first priority. By 11:00am the next day we were at the river’s edge with inner tubes in hand. The summer is rainy season in Laos, and the mud-brown river was flowing quickly with water levels high. Needless to say, we were feeling a bit apprehensive. The tubing launch site was located at a bar on the opposite bank, and as we crossed over on a ferry we couldn’t help but wonder, “What the hell are we getting ourselves into?” To be honest, we did accept the free shot of whiskey for a bit of courage and set off down the river with our life jackets strapped tightly and a leash that we devised for keeping our tubes together. Once in the water and on our way, the tranquility of the scenery hit us. We had expected raging crowds and loud music, but what we found was a bit of solitude. In a lightly falling rain, we drifted alone along the base of tall stone cliffs. The lush vegetation and blanket of fog that covered the peaks made them appear to stretch on forever.

The experience was completely different than what we had expected. Many of the bars along the river had not yet opened for the day, but we did stop at two. The families that ran both places were happily surprised to see us. Since we were the only ones on the river, we were able to spend some time talking with them. We learned that the mayhem starts daily at around 2:30pm and got a tip about the best bar to visit for a chilled out couple like us. Having survived one trip down the river and having seen the serene side of the Nam Song, we decided to return for a second run after lunch to see just how wild things get.

At 3:00pm that afternoon, we were again standing across the river from the launch site, but this time with countless others ready to begin their first run of the day. Again we felt a bit uneasy, but for a completely different reason. As we looked upon the scene at the bar on the opposite bank, we witnessed sheer insanity. The tranquil wooden shack from that morning had been transformed into an all-out raging party. Blasting music, buckets of liquor, spray painted bodies, beer pong, chugging contests…you name it, it was probably happening there. As one sign read, “Anything is allowed.” The place was jam packed with people in their late teens and early 20s, some already nearing blackout status before even getting in the water. We quickly realized that we were among the few who were actually wearing life jackets. Some people were even sharing one inner tube between five or six people, barely managing to hang on as they jumped into the water. Keep in mind that there are no lifeguards, no rescue boats, no paramedics and only a very basic hospital in the town. It is said that the reasoning part of the brain doesn’t fully develop until around age 25; Vang Vieng may be the perfect place to prove this theory. At 26, we were amongst the oldest in the crowd.

The idea of cutting people off at the river bars is non-existent. We could only stand to stay at the first place for one beer before deciding to take off and stay ahead of the drunken masses. Along the way, the debauchery continued and bars began to up the offering from alcohol to laughing gas, magic mushrooms and opium (for obvious reasons, we did not partake). The most inebriated became separated from their groups. It became ever clearer that the Nam Song River is not responsible for the high yearly death toll; extremely poor judgment is the real culprit.

The further we separated ourselves from the crowds of annoyingly wasted backpackers, the more we enjoyed the experience. The last bar along the river is located on stilts high above the water and hidden around a bend. We reached it just as the skies opened up to a torrential rain and sat around a fire under the thatched roof, chatting with new friends and contemplated our great day of tubing.

Although we thoroughly enjoyed our day on the river, Vang Vieng is sadly another example of tourism gone array. The city now depends on its tubing industry to survive, so despite the near 30 tourists deaths attributed to the river last year, the madness will continue. Any genuine Lao culture that the city once held has been obliterated. We are glad that we made our way down the Nam Song, glad that we had a good time, and glad that we did it in a reasonable manner. To tube, or not to tube? We say go for it, but remember that only you are responsible for your own safety.

7 Tips for a Fun & Safe Tubing Trip:

  1. Wear a life jacket!
  2. If you drink too much, DO NOT go back in the river. There are plenty of tuk-tuks along the banks to drive you back to town
  3. Stay away from drugs
  4. Don’t share a tube. 1 tube=1 person
  5. Never float the river alone
  6. Stay away from swings, slides, cliffs or anything that sends you plunging into the river
  7. Finish your run before it gets dark

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