I am just over six months into my trip. I just arrived in Vietnam which is country number six of this trip. I just recently passed 60 countries, I am reading my 6th book and have now been to 6 continents. These numbers might shock some but just know there is still so much more out there and I am not on this trip for the numbers (I am far more interested in culture – so I try to go slowly and emerse myself) but statistics are pretty fun!
A lot has happened in these six months, so many new experiences and cultures have been encountered. I have also seen many friends and old coworkers (Australia, Japan, Korea) in their home or new countries which has enriched my trip even more…many of whom it has been years since I’ve seen them.
I am loving each stop and learning a lot, each place is quite distinct and so amazing to see first hand and not rushed. Below is a quick run down of my past 6 months.
Spent 90 days
Currency – NZ Dollar
Did N. And S. Island
Drove on left side for first time
House sit for first time
Coachsurfed for first time
Thoughts: love nature, both islands are gorgeous, North seems more cultured due to higher Maori population, people are super friendly in NZ, loads of tourists hiking, was surprised by Christchurch terrorist attack…was there during…also very surprised by the very serious and quick reactions to event (during and after), so hilly (training on bike), queenstown is ridiculously expensive/ beautiful/touristy, many people live in NZ on working holiday (many stay after), Maori people kiss cheek to greet (felt like latin america), loved the Maori culture side (there are pros and cons – I know and I feel I saw both) as views about Maori people can be quite racist (obviously not from all), the mythical stories of NZ are lovely, no dangerous animals/creatures
Food: major healthy food trend, lots of raw treats, lots of fruit but seasonality respected
Spent just over 1 month (split into 2 separate visits) – barely scratched surface of this continent! Australia is huge, no wonder it is called a continent!
Currency – Australian Dollar
Ran Marathon in Hobart (#8)
Finished 1st full Ironman (Port Macquarie)
Parents visited me
Saw many friends here, lots from LatAm are now living here
Thoughts: Australia is huge, loved Tasmania (stunning and pure), Australia actually gets cold in winter, people love the beach and beaches are everywhere, hostels are over crowded, Sydney felt crowded, soooo international (people are literally from everywhere), way too many health care professionals (doctor/dentist/physio), Aussies love talking to travelers (so many random natural conversations) aka very friendly, Australia is far away from everywhere, literally!, animal population is so different from anywhere else I have been (marsupials – pouches)
Food: lots of options, very international, healthy
Spent just over 3 weeks
Currency – Japanese Yen
Traveled part of trip with my mom
Saw friend (Runa) from my study abroad in Bilbao, Spain some 13 years ago
Thoughts: blew my mind; felt like it was most unique culture I have ever seen (so many traditions, respect, cleanliness, very defined culture), lots of athletes (runners!), people bike everywhere (bikes with baskets and kickstands), fashion capital is no joke!, Tokyo is a massive cities that feels very calm/relaxing (so interesting), strict no shoes inside (below korea and vietnam too), the toilets are quite entertaining (music for #2, heated seats, bidet feature lol, etc)
Food: everything was amazing; loved everything I tried, fruit is expensive, lots of raw fish options
Spent just over 3 weeks
Currency – Korean Won
Biked about half of trip (some 900km or more) – bike packing
One of my best friends visited me and we traveled together for 1st time in 12 years (Kirsten)
Saw first of my Brandeis friends, Sean
Thoughts: not many speak English outside of big cities, tons of cyclists, many hikers and walkers too (you can literally walk the whole country and people do – generally older), very interesting fashion (sporty, relaxed, baggy, basic and hip), interesting to learn about N.Korea and sad to know it has been over 70 years since war/separation, so many coffee shops it’s ridiculous, younger people are crazy about Instagramable photos (feels of a fake world), seems many issues for women and their faces…lots of surgery bc faces can look literally like anime or fake (reminds me of Colombia’s problem with surgery which is more related to breast and glutes but also very high rates), feels like there is serious over fishing (nets and boats are everywhere along their coastline), very high suicide rate there (cultural pressures to be best I think – local laws for hours worked/studying trying to change this I think), not many tourists – seemed foregners mainly there studying or teaching English (unique place that shouldn’t be missed!)
Food: felt super healthy (due to veggies used); lots of veggies, also lots of seafood! Crab seemed very important, can be quite spicy, Coffee crazy
Spent just under 1 week
Currency – HK Dollar
Hiked a lot, even with monsoons
Thoughts: fascinated by huge and often very dense buildings, seems like Panama on drugs, so hot and humid, interesting history with China/England/Japan (also sad to see true Chinese control from a closer perspective), rich v poor and modern v old is very visible (at same time hidden), felt safe, so much hiking and beaches here (who would have thought)
Food: lots of dim sum but also tons of international food, only filtered water is drinkable (80% is supplied from China and China buys about 50% of it’s water…chao natural resources :/)
I will be here 1 month
Currency – Vietnamese Dong
Thoughts day one: love the streets, so lively, lots of scooters, lots of tourists, cute houses (French influence maybe), cheap!
Food: delicious, so many fruits, can’t drink water (aka less sanitary here)
I have so much to write about but haven’t had time lately (past 2 months ha ha!) so I hope to bust out some good reads very soon! I did ditch my computer though so could be interesting these following blogs.
I am not sure where to after Vietnam but I do know I will be in Asia until mid September. Contemplating currently, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Sri Lanka…