These six months have been some of the best in my life. This trip has challenged us mentally and physically, but every challenge has been worth the reward. We’ve been to five countries, eaten tons of delicious food, and made total fools of ourselves attempting to speak a host of new languages. It’s been an amazing six months to say the least. Trying to pick my five favorite experiences was pretty hard, especially since we’ve had no shortage of them, but I did my best to narrow it down. These are in no particular order.
Climbing the Steps to Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi, Thailand
This was by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. Climbing the 1,237 steps to the buddha on top of Tiger Cave was grueling, but the end was well worth the work. At this point we’d only been away for about a week, and everything still seemed so magical. Now imagine it’s your first time in Thailand (or anywhere for that matter), and after climbing 1,237 of the steepest steps of your life in the bright sun you’re rewarded with a massive golden buddha looking out over all of Krabi Province.
We were both so tired, so jet lagged, and barely eating due to the heat (not to mention incredibly out of shape), but somehow we made it and the views were worth every drop of sweat. It was so amazing that we’re going to be tackling it again in just about a month with Anthony’s sister and her fiance! I hope they’re ready!
Teaching English in Hanoi
While on this trip I’ve realized that I really don’t like not having a purpose. I’m one of those people that loved going to school because it gave me a routine and a sense of purpose. I loved being good at waitressing even though I don’t want to do it forever because going to work and being great at my job was a way to define myself. Long term backpacking can sometimes make it feel like I’m living without any purpose, but thanks to Workaway I’ve been able to keep this feeling at bay most of the time.
Of all the workaways we’ve done though my favorite has been teaching English to children outside of Hanoi. I loved teaching these kids, and even though I had no experience teaching prior to this, I think it’s something I might want to pursue as a career whenever we return home.
Teaching gave me a huge purpose, and the kids were the highlight of my day for the entire month we were there. We’re planning on going back to volunteer at the same school for several months, and I honestly can’t wait.
These kids don’t have much, but they’re so happy and full of life. Being around them warmed my heart and soul more than I could ever explain. I want to give them the best possible experience learning English that I can because they all deserve it.
For those of you who’ve read the post I wrote about my first day on a motorbike, you know that this was something I really wanted to do but was terrified of at the same time. Motorbiking from Saigon to Hanoi was an incredible experience all on it’s own, but the best part for me was the fact that I actually did it and I didn’t chicken out.
There were so many times I would look around as we made our way down the road and feel an overwhelming sense of amazement at what I was seeing and what we were doing.
We saw so much of Vietnam and a majority of what we saw we would have missed if we’d traveled the country by bus. Vietnam is an absolutely stunning country, and the people are some of the warmest I’ve ever met. I’m thankful that we spent three months really getting to know this beautiful place.
Don’t get me wrong, we had a few scares and I cried more times than I care to admit, but in the end I would do it all over at the drop of a hat. Selling my motorbike, Donna, was actually one of the saddest days of my life.
Karaoke in Dalat
As Anthony mentioned in his post, part of what made traveling by motorbike so great were the people we met along the way. During the first part of our Tour de Vietnam, we traveled with the same group of people for three cities. One of these was the beautiful mountain town of Dalat. Anthony and I were both picturing a quiet town where we’d spend some time taking in the scenery during the day and getting some much needed sleep at night. We were very wrong. We spent three nights in a row getting absolutely smashed at the 100 Rooftops bar which everyone just calls “the maze bar” because of its crazy maze like design. Seriously you can get lost in there…a few of our friends actually did. 100 Rooftops was incredibly fun, but the best part of our time in Dalat was singing karaoke until four in the morning with the massive group of people we were traveling with.
Karaoke is HUGE in Vietnam. We could be riding through the tiniest most middle of nowhere town and it would still have a karaoke bar. So every night in Dalat we lived like the locals and packed ourselves into an airless room with green light to chug Saigons and sing everything from Beyonce to Queen until our voices finally gave out.
It was sweaty, messy, and smokey, but some of the best memories I have of this entire trip. There may or may not be a video of me crushing “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and Anthony and I were declared the “winners” of karaoke after our duets to “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “I’ll Make Love to You” brought down the house. Nothing beats drunkenly singing (screaming) along to “Call Me Maybe” with a room full of 30 of your closest backpacker friends.
Songkran was without a doubt one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. Learning about different cultures is always amazing, but especially when it’s a holiday that involves drenching everyone within a foot of you with water. I love the meaning of Songkran, and truly feel like we’ve had some amazing luck in the months since. I also love that the Thai people have embraced the backpacker culture and love having anyone and everyone join in their Songkran festivities. From getting our faces covered in baby powder by little kids on the side of the road to Anthony getting blasted with a hose by an old woman waiting for victims in front of her house, we felt fully embraced by locals and tourists alike. The weather was beautiful, we were in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and everyone everywhere was celebrating. I’ll be very sad to miss the festivities this year, but with any luck Songkran 2016 wasn’t our last!
These five things barely even scratch the surface in terms of the experiences we’ve had. I can’t believe we still have another six+ months to go when it seems like we’ve already packed in a lifetime of memories. It will be hard to top the first half of our trip, but I have no doubt that the second half will bring us some of the best times yet. Keep following along as we continue to conquer Asia, and if you find yourselves in this corner of the world, come find us and we’ll make some memories together!