It’s been just over two weeks since The Return and we’re finally settling in. Sleep is, once again, our friend, eating food is delicious and edible and I scored two goals playing hockey. All good. Well almost. Even though it’s only been 2 weeks, my memories and thoughts are quickly dissipating like so much water in California (and here for that matter). That makes me sad. I guess I better get this last post finished before I forget that I went anywhere at all.
I’m going to expand just a bit on the last blog. This one will concentrate on my favourite places and things, a top 10 list so to speak. Although I’m not too sure that there will be 10 things. My apologies in advance if I’ve repeated anything. Anyhoo..
Favourite city – Istanbul. Such a lovely, vibrant, beautiful place. Great food and very nice folks. And they have little houses and nibbles for stray cats everywhere! I could live there (not in the cat houses, I mean).
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Pickering, Ontario (Hah! Just kidding)
Favourite place we stayed – The Seaflower on Koh Phangan, Thailand. No surprise there seeing as we spent 2 months enjoying the beach, the bar on the beach, the great food and the amazing folk who run the place and work there. Made us feel very welcome and like part of the family. I’d love to return.
The apartment in Istanbul. Top floor of a lovely old house run by a very nice couple. There was a balcony which overlooked the city where we would have coffee in the morning. Pretty special.
The apartment in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Favourite Island – Gili Air, Indonesia. Again, no surprise. One month on that amazing little island with no cars, great snorkeling, fabulous food and scorching sunsets.
Koh Lipe – For the best water. So strikingly clear and blue.
Favourite Eats – Breakfast in Istanbul. Found this place that does the most amazing traditional Turkish breakfast – eggs and sausage, cheeses, dips, breads, olives (the wife likes them). I’m salivating just thinking about them.
Other meals – Anything and everything I had at the Via Via in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Easily the best restaurant of the trip even if I didn’t care much for the city. Not one misstep and we ate their plenty. The martabak and beef rendang on Gili Air, oh man! The Joy Luck Club in Bangkok, Thailand. Terrible name, great food. Sushi and ramen in Japan. Lamb terrine in Fes, Morocco. Phở in Hanoi. Street meats in Indonesia. Pad Thai and fried mussels in Krabi, Thailand. Great little tapas restaurant in Seville that was recommended by a friend. I could go on but I’m too hungry to keep writing.
Favourite activity/experience – Celebrating Songkran in Thailand. One big, city-wide water-fight. Still brings a smile to my 50 year-old face.
Riding a camel through the desert in Jordan.
Playing in the waterpark with Swanson at Legoland in Malaysia.
Walking around Hanoi and ending up at the Bia Hoi (Fresh Beer) corner. Great place to sit and watch the world go by.
Swimming in the waters of Koh Lipe.
Photobombing unsuspecting tourists. Swanson became quite good at it even if he got caught a few times.
Hanging out on the beach in Barcelona (among the other great sites in that fine town).
Being driven around in a tuk-tuk by our man, Mr. Moth, in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Sunrises and sunsets in Thailand and Indonesia. The latter now with more volcanoes!
The train from Bucharest to Brasov in Romania. (Not a young girl’s erotic journey) Stunning country.
Snorkling with the sea turtles on Gili Air.
Meeting friends from home on the trip – in Spain, Thailand and Japan. Pretty awesome to experience these places with familiar faces.
Feeding elephants at an elephant rescue farm just outside Chiang Mai. Who knew they liked to eat children?
Just walking. So many great cities and places we visited. We must have walked over 10,000 km.
I’m sure that there are tons more great moments and experiences – like kicking a dude’s luggage onto the subway in Lisbon as the doors were closing and he was taking too long to board – that I left out due to memory loss or brain damage, but that’s OK, I’ll regale you with my endless tales over beers in the future. I hope.
Some of the things that I will not miss about traveling and things and places that I’d rather not see or experience anytime soon.
Backpackers. The scourge of humanity. Most are fine but S/E Asia is just crawling with gap-mouthed, poorly-tattooed, short-fingered, Neanderthal, privileged assholes who look at this lovely part of the world as their playground and have no regard for the locals or their customs.
Music – Holy hotdogs is their ever a plethora of terrible music out there in the world. Terrible techno (always played way too loud) from about 11 years ago to bad pop music – think Carly Rae Jepsen – to the fucking Eagles (I must have heard Hotel California 15,000 times including reggae, ska, easy listening, muzak and various covers), Sting’s Englishman in New York (!), Jack Johnson and a million covers of Its a Wonderful World. At least I got to listen to some Led Zeppelin on the plane ride home. Physical Graffiti holds up pretty well.
7-11. The Sev. Spent way too much time in those awful, wonderfully air-conditioned hellholes with their cheap beer and heat-lamp hotdogs (at least I think that they were hotdogs).
Wet toilets. Most washrooms don’t have anything separating the toilet from the shower, so everything gets wet. Any idea what a drag it is to sit on a wet toilet seat? Also it’s nice to be able to flush the toilet paper instead of tossing it in the garbage. I felt very bad for the poor souls who clean the rooms and have to empty to cans. One thing I noticed was the insistence of installing wooden doors in these bathrooms. And yes, all were in various stages of rot and decay.
Cab Drivers. We tried to avoid taking cabs as much as possible as many seemed to go to great lengths to rip us off. I’m looking at you Romania, “Meter is broken!” he says turning it away from us. Not in Japan though. The drivers are very courteous and wear fancy white gloves and the doors open automatically.
Smokers. Smoking is so lame and I’m always aghast at how many people smoke and just how much they smoke. It’s everywhere. Especially in Romania where they smoke like fucking ghouls. It’s nice that folks can’t smoke in restaurants and bars and hospitals here.
Killing bugs – I actually punched a large red centipede to death with my bare knuckles (well, I tried to kill it with Tami’s shoe but to no avail. So I ended up punching the shoe to crush the critter – Tami’s foot was not in the shoe at the time). I don’t know how many times I said “Ow! I think something just bit me!”
Other tourists. Not just the lowly backpacker. Tourists are everywhere (can’t blame them at all since traveling is awesome!) but it doesn’t mean I have to like them. And what’s with everyone using their straw to slurp the bottom of their drinks?! I hate that sound so much. You’re not 5 years-old. Grow-up, jerks.
Driving. It’s so refreshing to come back to Vancouver and have cars stop for you at crosswalks instead of having them actively try to kill you. Even on the sidewalks (when there are sidewalks).
Smells. Part of the joy of walking the streets of – insert city name here – is the variety of aromas that assail your senses. But you have to take the good with the bad. For every waft of grilling meat, you might get a nose full of an open sewer. Kind of kills the appetite.
Airports. We took over 35 flights on our trip (sorry Earth) and with that comes spending a lot, and I mean a lot, of time in airports, waiting. Just waiting.
One Room. No Love. So nice to come home and have our own bedroom. We spent that vast majority of the trip with all of us sleeping in one room. You get the picture. Now stop getting the picture. Perverts.
Where to go from here?
Not to Malaysia. The people were incredibly nice and the food was mostly excellent but it’s super hot and there really wasn’t a lot to see or do. Kuala Lumpur is a cool city but, outside of the awesome Petronas Towers, there’s not much else going on. Unless you like malls. They have lots and lots of malls. Georgetown was just OK. The island of Langkawi was nice but way too many partiers and jet skis for my liking. Malaysia is probably the only place on the trip I wouldn’t go back to. Maybe Morocco but we didn’t go to Marrakesh or Casablanca or anywhere else besides a couple of day trips out of Fes, so maybe a return visit. The sights and smells of the tannery will be forever etched in mine, and Swanson’s brains. And not in a good way.
I would love to go back to Turkey. So many places we didn’t get to check out. Another visit to the Seaflower on Koh Phangan is in order. I wish we visited Greece, Myanmar, Laos, Philippines, India (still on the fence about India), Europe, Hong Kong, South America, the Moon. So much to see and experience so little time and money. Well that’s about it for the blog (I am still trying to get our older photos from the backup so I can do a favourite photos blog, but who knows?) I hope that the seven of you who read it enjoyed our tales of travel and adventure. I loved writing it and plan to continue my bloggy ways. Probably will have something to do with movies…Stay tuned.