Six Months of Travel: The Numbers

WOW. Today marks exactly six months since Alan and I packed up our little home in Christchurch, New Zealand, prepared to spend all our savings (eek!), and set off to travel through Asia. In many ways it feels like we have been gone for so long, though in other ways it feels like just yesterday that we left.

As this six month milestone whizzes by, I’m feeling reflective on whats changed in my life over the past half year. It’s been an absolute whirlwind – I have learnt a lot about the world, about myself, my values, my hopes and dreams, about the kind of life I want to lead. In many ways I have gained a lot of clarity, but in other ways I’m more confused than ever.

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The Awe-Inspiring Longmen Grottoes

Don’t you love it when you have little expectation for something and it turns out to be AMAZING? That’s what happened to us when we visited the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, China.

To be fair, it wasn’t so much that we had low expectations – more that we didn’t really know anything about them. We had planned to stay in Luoyang so that we could visit the nearby Shaolin Temple, so after our research what else to do in the area kept popping up with the nearby Longmen Grottoes we figured we should make some time to visit. And I’m so glad we did!

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A Day Trip to Shaolin Monastery from Luoyang

“It’s not here,” I panicked. “The hostel isn’t here!”

It was pitch black at night and after arriving into Luoyang an hour ago we had already missed our bus stop, backtracked in a taxi for ten minutes to the address of our hostel, and anxiously walked up three flights of stairs in an abandoned building with broken tiles, dust and glass fragments strewn everywhere – at the exact address our hostel was supposed to be. This building seemed like no one had graced it’s stairs for a number of years.

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Love and Luxury in Huangshi, China

China was added to our itinerary months ago because we had a wedding to attend! We decided to make the most of it while we were in the country and take a three week tangent from our route through Southeast Asia – an interlude from the heat and instead layer on the winter woolies to beat China’s glacial mid-winter temperatures.

To be perfectly honest, I was a little nervous about travelling in China. Of course I had heard plenty of good things, but on the flipside, I had also heard that the language barrier can make it a particularly tough country to travel. I’m always up for a challenge but after spending four months in the well-trodden tourist paths of Southeast Asia, China was beginning to feel particularly scary. Southeast Asia was so easy (well, most of the time), what on earth was ahead of me?

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A Helpful Guide to Renting a Scooter in Southeast Asia

Although the internet has many posts about renting a scooter in Southeast Asia,  I still feel compelled to write a comprehensive guide of my own as we have learnt so much about this topic along the way!

This post is not trying to convince you to give up on renting a scooter, in fact my intentions are quite the opposite. We have rented scooters a number of times now in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, and will no doubt rent many more as we continue our travels through Asia. Our favourite destinations seem to consistently be when we have the independence of a scooter.

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A Nontraditional Christmas in Bangkok

We arrived from Phitsanulok to Bangkok’s hectic Mochit Station late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. After managing to coax a tuk-tuk driver into not ripping us off too much, followed by zooming on the MRT to our conveniently located Soi Sukhumvit hotel, we dashed out for a quick fill of street food before collapsing into bed.

This would be my third international, family-less Christmas, though, I was able to spend it with my brother and my boyfriend in one of the world’s most popular cities so I can’t really complain. But there’s something about being away from home at Christmas that makes you crave the special warm-fuzzy “yay, its Christmas” feeling so much. That feeling is so hard to come by in Asia – of course with no discredit to their commercial efforts and over-decoration of everything!

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Sensational Si Satchanalai

If I thought Sukhothai was ‘off the beaten track’, then Si Satchanalai took that ten steps further.

Dubbed by the Lonely Planet as a ‘suburb’ of the Sukhothai empire, Si Satchanalai is another incredible historical park housing even more incredible ruins from the 13th century Kingdom of Siam. Meaning “The City of Good People” it was built after the city of Sukhothai and became the major second town of the Kingdom in the 13th and 14th centuries.

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Surprised by Sukhothai

Sukhothai wasn’t really originally on our Thailand “plan” – and I say that in inverted commas because we didn’t really have much of a plan at all. So when my brother took a rather impromptu trip to India with a week in Bangkok on his way home, we immediately began to scratch together a plan to meet somewhere in Thailand. Considering Alan and I were in Northern Thailand and my brother would be flying into Bangkok, what better place that bang smack in the middle: Sukhothai. Yeah, that would do the trick.

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