It’s been a month since we’ve been home, and it’s almost as if it never happened. Lucky for us, we have the pictures as proof of our adventures! I literally took thousands upon thousands of pictures along the way, but I thought I would pick just 14, one for each month we were away. These aren’t necessarily my favorite moments (though they’re all great memories!) but the ones I thought really showed what our trip was all about.
Of the 430 days we were away, the first was by far the hardest. I ended up getting sick on the plane ride there and threw up on the plane, in the cab, and in Breada’s Red Sox hat. To make matters worse, we were too early to check in….or so we thought. I had originally booked in for the night before, so we would be able to check in when we got there around 7am. Unfortunately I was too sick to realize what was going on and slept on the cold concrete floor of the hostel lobby until just before check in. On the bright side, the trip only got better from here!
Welcome to Asia!
Koh Lanta Sunset
If you don’t get a picture of a sunset, did you even go on vacation??? This particular shot comes from Koh Lanta, Thailand. We fell in love with this island within our first month of being away, and later returned with my sister Brittany and her fiance Chad last November. It’s a little piece of paradise, and somewhere I highly recommend people visit when going to Thailand.
Angkor Wat was one of the highlights of our trip, and we were lucky to have gone with the best tour guide in Siem Reap : Mao Khvan. He was highly recommended online by a lot of other travelers and he didn’t disappoint one bit. He knew all the best spots for photos, knew a better route to take around the grounds so we avoided massive crowds, and was overall just a really great guy. Because he practically lives there, he knows all the employees working the temple grounds. This was good for us because when closing time came at 6:30, he was able to convince his friend to let us stick around for a few extra minutes and take this amazing photo. On a regular day there could be a couple thousand people in this spot alone!
The Flicks Movie House was our first Workaway, and still one of my favorites. Like I mentioned in my previous post, The Flicks was the first place that I was really able to see expat life firsthand. Phnom Penh is full of expats, most of them working as English teachers or for various NGOs. We also had some of the best roommates of our entire trip : Hannah , Cora, Marco, and Ramon!
Sand Dunes Selfie
The White Sand Dunes of Mui Ne are one of the most interesting places in Vietnam in my opinion. You’re standing there, surrounded by these massive sand dunes as if you’re in the Middle East, yet if you look out you can see the South China Sea not too far in the distance.
It’s also here that we met Kyle from Wales and Vincent and Sanja from Luxembourg. Great people who made the day that much more fun!
My god is Sa Pa beautiful. This is one part of Vietnam I want to explore a lot more when we go back. We only had a few days up here and that’s just not enough time. When I think of Vietnam two very different pictures pop up in my head: traffic jams in the big cities and rice fields like this one above.
This was our view when we woke up every morning during our time in the small village of Ta Van, located about 10km outside of Sa Pa Town. We were smack dab in the middle of a National Geographic cover.
Raohe Night Market
While it may not be the biggest night market in Taipei, it was definitely my favorite. It was here that I fell in love with Taiwanese favorites like Hu Jiao Bing ( pork pepper buns ), pork bone soup, and the scallion pancake. In terms of food, there is something for everyone at Raohe. Just make sure you bring your appetite! Also check out my three part series : The Many Foods of Taiwan!
Intercontinental Da Nang
Our trip was a mishmash of backpacker budget living and the occasional baller moments. The Intercontinental Da Nang on Son Tra Peninsula was clearly the latter.
The best part about the whole thing : both nights were free! Had we paid out of pocket it would have been about $900. Clearly we can’t afford that, but if you keep up with our writings you’ll know we travel hack, which gives us the opportunity to stay in places like this for free or very cheap. I already can’t wait till we go back next year!
We were finally hitting the end of our road trip : Hanoi. We had been going for about five weeks by this point, and this was literally the last leg of the journey : Ninh Binh to Hanoi. It was only about 50km, but what hell it was. All traffic on these little roads filled with 18 wheeler trucks and busses driving like maniacs. I couldn’t have been happier when we got to Hanoi, even though it had its own chaos to deal with. To read up more about this part of the trip, check out our Motorbiking Vietnam segment!
Hai Van Pass
Someone should really thank Jeremy Clarkson and the boys for letting the world in on the beauty of the Hai Van Pass. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Top Gear did a special episode where they motorbiked from Ho Chi Minh City to the Hanoi and then Ha Long Bay(sound familiar?). This led to the massive trend of people doing the trip themselves, and riding one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever been on in my life.
The Hai Van Pass itself is only about 25km long, so it’s over before you know it. Don’t worry though, the beauty of it all will make you pull over every couple minutes for photo op after photo op.
Pictured in the photo is myself and my buddy Danny, who I met in Hoi An and proceeded to have two solid months of banter, drinking, and the occasional work with. Til we meet again my friend!
This was one of the last things we did during our time in Asia. We spent a total of three months volunteering at the English center on the outskirts of Hanoi. We loved it and it was our experience there that led us to make the decision to come back to Asia and teach full time for a while.
We wanted to do something nice for the school before we left, so we raised $500 with the help of our friends and family back home to buy school supplies. This picture is all the supplies we bought with the money. We still had about half the money left, so we gave it to the school to use at its discretion.
Prague Old Town Square / Tyn Church
Prague is one of my favorite cities in Europe. Yes it is overcrowded and it’s not as cheap as it used to be, but it is still absolutely beautiful and has enough attractions to keep you busy no matter how long you stay. This shot was taken from the top of the astronomical clock tower, which overlooks the OId Town Square.
It wouldn’t be a recap of our trip without touching on food at least once. Some of the best foods I’ve ever had in my life came on this trip, and this particular dish had me hooked from the start. It’s Gai Saab aka a spicy fried chicken salad. I found this dish in a street stall a few blocks away from Khao San Road. It’s fried chicken (many cuts to choose from), with some rice powder, red onion, cilantro (coriander), lemon juice, soy sauce, crushed red pepper, and a side of cucumber and cabbage. It also came with rice, which I usually declined as this was plenty. Best part : $1.15!!!
If you go to Bangkok let me know and I’ll point out her stall on a map!!
Our First Business Class Flight
I love travel hacking. Mostly I love a deal, and travel hacking has given me some of the best deals I’ve ever had. Take this picture for example. This was our first business class flight we took of the trip : Hanoi to Hong Kong with Dragonair (now Cathay Dragon). If I were to book this flight in cash it would have cost $1008 per person (insane, I know.) Instead, I booked it with my British Airways Avios for 18,000 Avios plus ~$40 for both of us. If i were to redeem those points for cash I would only receive $180, so you can see just how great of a redemption this is.
I wish I could post up all my favorite pictures, but it would never end and you would all be sick of me. I hope this pictures give a little insight into the type of trip we had. I also hope it gives you a little motivation to get out there and start seeing some of these places first hand. I promise you, you won’t regret it!