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Where We Journal

A series of our inner thoughts, emotions, experiences, encounters, & observations, as we interact with the people of the world

 

Bests and Worsts

Jenny & Adam

CLEVELAND, Ohio // We are constantly reminded of many things from our travels in our everyday lives. When we meet new people on the road and are questioned about certain things, we dig deep into our memories to remember the best, worst, and most memorable of times during the past year. With this in mind, and all of the free time we have had since returning to the USA and while road tripping across the country, we have come up with some fun opinions of the past year as well to summarize our trip. 

  • Best Country // Indonesia - We spent our entire 30 day visa here. There was so much to do in this country and we felt like we only scratched the surface spending most of our time just in Bali. We spent 1 week surfing in Kuta, 1 week at a yoga/meditation retreat in Sukawati, 1 week at a homestay with a Hindu family in Ubud, and 1 week in Labuanbajo SCUBA diving Komodo National Park. We were never bored, met awesome other travelers, and had great experiences with locals.
  • Best Accommodation // Christina's in Hoi An, Vietnam - When other travelers raved about a place to stay, we always looked it up. We actually changed our travel plans slightly to visit Hoi An based on others recommendations, and it didn't disappoint. We spent $104 US dollars total for 3 nights, and we ended up extending for an additional 4 nights because we had such a great time. This place was run by a Vietnamese guy who spent 19 years in the USA. He converted a large structure into a series of amazing rooms straight out of a design magazine, in the middle of a large vegetable garden. There was free breakfast, overly friendly staff, and free bikes to ride 10 minutes into town or 5 minutes to the beach
  • Best Coffeeshop & Coffee // Macallum Connnoisseur Coffee Company in Penang, Malaysia // On the outskirts of touristy Georgetown is a modern industrial warehouse with hip architecture and talented baristas. It is the only time I have ever had coffee from Yemen and it was incredible. There is currently a trade embargo with the USA and Yemen, so it is no wonder I have never tried coffee from there before. It was earthy but smooth, and made from a chemex.
  • Best Cup of Tea // Conor House in Mcleod Ganj, India - Run by Tibetan refugees, their hospitality and friendliness was unmatched in most places of Asia. The lemon ginger honey tea we ordered every day, sometimes multiple times, and is a traditional drink of the Tibetan people. 
  • Best Panoramic Photo // Upper Pisang, Nepal - With views of Annapurna, the monastery behind us, the Tibetan prayer flags flapping in the wind, the feeling of accomplishing hiking half of the circuit, this was our favorite "view" or sight of the entire trip.
  • Best Drink // Barcelona G&T from Marina Bay Sands Skybar, Singapore - Looking down on Singapore, the heat, the relaxation, the first bar we had been to in weeks, all made the drink worth it. We paid up for the view as the drink cost about $21 US dollars. It consisted of a special gin on a block of ice, a wedge of grapefruit, a sprig of rosemary, and 3 blueberries. 
  • Best Bird // Java Kingfisher in Ubud, Indonesia - When we stayed with the Hindu family, one of the activities we did was a birdwatching tour through the rice fields. We logged more birds on this 3 hour stint than anywhere else. We had a guide with us who pointed out special birds, but the one that stood out was this one. It is multicolored with bright reds and blues and is only native to this part of the world. It was the fourth bird we spotted and was resting on an electric wire over a field. 
  • Best Rock Climb // Lord of the Thais in Railay, Thailand - This climb was on my bucket list and most of my training the past year built up to being able to complete this climb on lead. Jenny also completed this climb making it one that we both were able to experience. The difficulty, the exposure, as well as the sight of Railay beach below, that few people get to see unless they make the climb made this one special.
  • Best SCUBA dive // Manta Point in Komodo National Park, Indonesia - We saw over 20 mantas that came within inches of swimming by us. The dive was shallow so we felt totally safe, and the visibility was unlike we have ever been in before at over 30 meters. It was one of the final dives we did in Komodo with a great group, so after completion we all got to talk about how fun it was. 
  • Best Street Food // Beef Pho Bowl in Hanoi, Vietnam - Right outside of our hotel room in Hanoi was a group of Vietnamese guys and a big bowl of boiling soup. We saw a lot of locals eating there on our way to check in, and when we asked for a dinner recommendation this is the place they steered us to. A huge bowl of beef pho was about 40,000 Vietnamese Dong, or $1.75 US dollars. Jenny and I split one for our entire dinner that night and it was perfect. An honorable mention should also go to all the gyros we ate on the streets of Athens Greece too. 
  • Best Museum // S21 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia - This was one of the saddest days of our trip, but was certainly one of the most memorable. S21 was a torture prison used by the Pol Pot regime that is still in the condition it was in when the soldiers left. S21 Museum is the actual location where all of the atrocities took place and you literally walk through blood stained rooms. This experience made us appreciate our lives. 
  • Best Beach // Maaya Thila, Maldives - It was tough comparing all of the beaches in Asia to the gold standard of beaches in Hawaii. The only place that we thought could come close was the isolated and uninhabited islands in the Maldives, particularly one that we had a chance to spend the day resting on from our scuba dive liveaboard. 
  • Best Gym // Mr. Big Muscle Gym in Luang Prabang, Laos - This place seemed in the middle of nowhere, but had all modern exercise equipment. Add in the funny 1980s pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the old school rap music, and this place was a daily stop for us in Laos to stay in shape while traveling
  • Best Indian Food Restaurant // Betel Leaf in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - In NYC we got Indian food every Sunday night and would try to find an Indian restaurant in every big city we went to. Although we went to India, we found our favorite Indian food in Malaysia. We went for dinner all three nights we spent in Kuala Lumpur with our friend Bart. 
  • Best Sail // Fiskardo, Greece - There was scenery of old Venetian lighthouses, there was crazy wind getting us to move at 6 knots with our full mainsail and jib, and we felt safe the entire time. Also, the previous day we did our first mediterranean mooring which gave us the added confidence. 
  • Best Massage // Railay Beach, Thailand - After one massage Jenny wanted to return for another the following day. She ended up going every day for 2 weeks. Same time on the terrace (as the sun was setting), and with the same sweet Thai lady. 
  • Biggest Ripoff // Laundry in Dubai, United Arab Emirates - We had a bag of clothes that needed to all be washed after our liveaboard SCUBA trip. When we called to get them picked up to wash they directed us to an itemized bill sheet in our room, which instead of paying by the kilogram (as we did everywhere else) it was by the piece of clothing. The T-shirt I bought in India for $3 US dollars would cost $6 US dollars to get washed. We soon realized that if we wanted all of our laundry done it would cost over $100 dollars! Most of my clothes in the laundry bag don't even equal that much. Needless to say, we choose to wash our underwear in the sink, hang it drying near the window, and doing laundry in a less expensive country. The price to do laundry in Dubai could have stretched to 3 days of travel in Cambodia or Laos. 
  • Best Dinner // Strofi in Athens Greece - We sat on a terrace with stunning views of the Acropolis. There was wine, lamb, goat, cheese, and local olive oil. This was one of our most expensive meals the entire trip, but it was so good, we went back a few nights later. 
  • Best Snack // Sushi-Zanmai Higashi Shinjuku in Tokyo, Japan - Our final night in Tokyo we tried to find a local sushi spot to just go crazy ordering non-stop. This is exactly what we found, as we got the tuna tasting plate. Red tuna, fatty tuna, fattier tuna, fattiest tuna, broiled fatty tuna. We then got a second tasting plate, followed by a few more tuna ala carte pieces. 
  • Biggest Logistical Nightmare // Landslide in Pokhara Nepal - A 6 hour bus ride turned into a 24 hour bus ride. There was a landslide and it blocked the pass from Pokhara to Kathmandu. The Nepalese army had to come in with bulldozers to move the boulders. To make matters worse it was after our 14 day Annapurna trek, when all we wanted to do was have a nice and quiet place to sleep that night. 
  • Scariest Moment // Jenny attacked by large monkey in Rishikesh, India - We left our ashram to pick up toilet paper, tissues, and chocolate cookies. A huge monkey must have recognized the package and while walking down the street jumped onto Jennys back. Had the monkey bit her, the trip would have been over, and we would have flown back to the USA 3 months earlier. Jenny no longer likes monkeys or even thinks they're cute.
  • Best Train Ride // Jaipur to Udaipur, India - This was the first time I felt like I saw "real India." The sun was setting and we got to see the rural side of that beautiful country, while passing cities located essentially in the middle of nowhere. It was like a movie passing before your eyes every time you would go through a town or a village in the countryside
  • Most Spontaneous Thing We Did // Summit Mt. Fuji Japan, in a day -  We were flying back to the United States in 48 hours. We planned to just relax and walk around Tokyo the following day before our flight back home. Instead we took an impromptu ride to Fuji to "check it out." We both had sandals on, no jacket, and no map. We started to hike up the mountain to see the view from mid way, but once we got there we realized that if we hustle, we could summit, descend, and catch the last bus and train back to Tokyo that night. We caught summit fever and made it to the top, spent 15 minutes enjoying the sight, and returned safely to Tokyo that night. 
  • Dirtiest City // New Delhi, India - We had seen a lot of poverty in Asia and the world in general in our life times but nothing compared to what we saw in New Dehli. This forever changed our lives. There are some things in life that you can not "unsee."
  • Best Burrito // None, there was no Mexican food in Asia - The week we got back to the USA I couldn't wait to eat Chipotle. We could not find guacamole, tacos, burritos, or any kind of Mexican food anywhere in Asia and were craving it upon return.
  • Worst Food // Egg at night market in Phnom Penh, Cambodia - I thought it was a traditional hard boiled egg. Instead there was something that looked like a fetus inside this thing. It was not by accident though because a local guy next to me was actually eating the thing. It didn't taste good and was one of the few things I just could not stomach. The night market had really great food, including some of the best noodles with soy sauce I have ever eaten. Just don't get the eggs.
  • Most Difficult visa or border crossing // India - We needed a visa that you must fill out at least a week before you enter the country. There is no guarantee that you will even be granted a visa if you apply either. We had to pay $50 US dollars for the application and had to answer out all sorts of questions such as our religion and if we have any Pakistani relatives. 
  • Easiest visa or border crossing // Malaysia - We literally did not need anything except our passport. No visa, no paperwork, no arrival fee. We crossed this border twice on our trip and both times there were hardly any lines.
  • Best part about traveling // not ever using an alarm clock to wake up in the morning.