We're now in France, which means that in the past two weeks we've been in seven different countries (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Macau, Hong Kong, Qatar, and France). That's a lot. We left Taiwan in early June, and that was really the last time we were properly settled.
This style of travel is pretty exciting. We usually don't plan for the next country until the night before we go, and sometimes we don't even get to it that early. When you're only in a country for a couple days, you tend to do a good job of maximizing the the time that you have there.
Despite this, I'll probably avoid this type of travel in the future in favor of staying long periods of time in one place.
When we were in Panama we really got to KNOW Panama. We know street names, restaurants, neighborhoods, people, and the little quirks that make the city unique.
Same with Japan. Tokyo feels familiar, like home. We stretched out all over the country and have a bit of insight into the different prefectures.
Taiwan, where we spent a month, is the same but to a lesser degree. Even one month didn't seem like enough time.
But the worst part is that it really wreaks havoc with the bare bones routine we have. Eat healthy food. Work out. Work. That's not to say that we haven't done SOME of that, but I can't remember the last time I had a meal that I was SURE didn't have any surprise ingredients.
Work has suffered. I get the minimum done, but it's hard to justify sitting at home on the computer when I'm in Qatar for two days and know that we can go to the middle of the desert and rent ATVs to ride through the dunes.
"When's the next time we'll be here?"
That's our call to battle that closes the lid of the laptops and gets us out the door.
On the other hand, it's nice to get a sneak preview of different countries. I now know that I'd love to spend more time in Hong Kong. I probably wouldn't go back to Qatar. We had a blast there, but I think that other Middle Eastern areas might have a bit more to offer. Also walking around feels like someone's blasting you with a flame thrower. 113 degrees the one day I measured.
Two months is the right amount of time to get settled and check out a city. I think that next year when we start our three weeks in Austin and three months abroad schedule, we'll probably spend two months in one place and then the last month exploring the surrounding area or a few countries on the way back.
Until then, it's time to rack up some more stamps in the passport.
woah...u guys are in europe? what are your travel plans? I'm in england right now and am heading to the mainland soon...
Why did you guys plan it like this in the first place?
And when are you guys going to review those funky vibram slippers you have, I'm really curious how they work out.
I just found your website. Wow. I am a vegan, a writer and a budding entrepreneur, with a love for travel and minimalism. Every one of these themes is hit regularly here, so it's no wonder I love keeping up. I've read the whole blog.
I wanted to say thanks for inspiring some unorthodox plans that I hope to make more realistic over the next 6-8 months. I really love the idea of spending 3 weeks in a "home town" and then 3 months abroad. This seems like the perfect compromise and an option I hadn't thought of before. I'm going to start thinking about how I can make this work, using Toronto as a base.
While in Paris: Check out the Abbey Bookshop. It's owned by a Canadian man who got one taste of Paris and decided to stay forever. He shipped his giant book collection to France and thus became the book store. He knows everything about the city and will tell you stories over hot tea that he freely offers. And you can definitely find a classic, cheap, tiny paperback to enjoy while in town. You'll know it when you see this:
You two do great work! Keep it up...I'm reading!
Man do we have a lot of catching up to do. This rapid fire traveling schedule doesn't leave us with all that much time to contemplate and write. If we aren't checking in somewhere, we're checking out and trying to catch a plane.
We were worried about where we'd stay in Hong Kong. It's a famously expensive city and we intended to be there for about ten days.
I always say, "Everything always works out perfectly," to which Todd always replies that it's dangerous to say that.
Making your first trip to East or Southeast Asia? Wondering where to go?
Okay, I've spent significant time in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. I can weigh in on those places for you. I haven't been to Macau, Laos, Burma, the Philippines, North Korea, or Indonesia yet - of them, I've heard great things about the Philippines and Indonesia in particular, but I can't comment.
So, some thoughts about every country -
Japan - Still the crown jewel of Asia, Japan has something for everyone. There's ancient and hyper-modern culture mixed all together. There's amazing technology, high levels of development, basically nonexistent crime, ridiculously high standards of quality and hygiene, and the people are friendly and polite. English isn't widely spoken, but the Japanese take being good hosts seriously and you'll be fine in any major city. You can find quite literally anything here - amazing camping and mountains and forests and oceans, or hyper-developed space-age districts in cities.
The downside of Japan - It's fucking expensive. Like, really really expensive. I hate spending money on eating and sleeping - every dollar I put into basic "staying alive" stuff is less money to be invested in commerce or philanthropy, or learning, or having unique experiences that are more interesting than... well, eating and sleeping. Yet, eating and sleeping is brutally expensive here. If you're not a veteran traveler and don't have friends here, you'll be hard pressed to spend less than $100/day in Japan. If you slum it hard, you can maybe get down to $50/day. Everything's ridiculously expensive, ranging from 400% to 2,000% higher than still-developing countries in Asia.