It’s been a little over a month since we disembarked from a plane at Burlington International Airport, looking about as bad as we felt after 30 hours of travel time. Despite the idyllic green image of home we held onto for our 16 months away, we were greeted by tired, wet, brown, mid-spring surroundings—a truly disheartening time of year.
But, home would not be home without our friends and family, and good times have been had. The world is now green and beautiful, our garden is partly planted, and our wiffle ball field has already seen plenty of use. It is good to be home.
There are days when it seems we might never have left, like we’ve awoken from a dream. But others bring back memories from lands far away, such as the lupines blooming along our driveway. Along that vein, we thought we’d share the whole collection of title page banners that we used rather like calendar photos along the way. Viewed together they present some beautiful contrasts that capture a bit of what travel is like.
We are not quite done posting to this blog and we’re also cutting together hours of video into a short film for entry into some film festivals later this summer. Until then, enjoy the photos. Click the pictures to see the related post.
The relentless snowfall of Hokkaido, Japan. January, 2011.
Frosted peaks in Daisetsuzan National Park. January 2011.
Birch trees clinging to steep slopes on Yarigatake, Hakuba, Japan. February 2011.
Windows into old Japan, Kyoto. February 2011.
Close up on the Buddhist temples dotting Luang Prabang, Laos. March 2011.
Burning rice fields cloud the Nam Hou river, Laos. March 2011.
The best beach ever. El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. April 2011.
Lush eucalypt forest along the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia. May 2011.
First light on the Tasman Sea. Croajingolong National Park, Victoria. May 2011.
Mandarin harvest, South Australia. May 2011.
Watching over Uluru. Australia’s red center. June 2011.
Floodplains at Ubirr, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory. June 2011.
Filtered sun through fan palms, Daintree, Queensland. July 2011.
A sea of vines, Marlborough, New Zealand. August 2011.
The Kaikoura Peninsula, New Zealand. September 2011.
Tree fern silhouette, Abel Tasman, New Zealand. October 2011.
Glacial meltwater, Fiordland, New Zealand. November 2011.
Lupines. Omarama, New Zealand. December 2011.
Vine leaf, Marlbourough New Zealand. January 2012.
The dry and golden Wither Hills, Blenhiem, New Zealand. February 2012.
Morning light on a distant glacier, Aspiring National Park, New Zealand. March 2012.
Ferns in the kauri forest, Northland, New Zealand. April 2012.
After three hot, wonderful months in Southeast Asia, we’ve landed on Australia’s southern coast, where winter is just beginning to set in.
Before we begin exploring this vast country, we wanted to share a few things we are thrilled to be leaving behind, and some things we will desperately miss.
Things we will not miss:
1. Riding in any variety of public vehicle.
2. Prevalence of hard-boiled eggs on said vehicles.
3. Being treated like an ATM.
4. Watching people throw garbage on the ground.
5. Toilet paper being replaced with a butt washing spray hose.
6. The beer selection.
7. The lack of cheese.
Things we will:
1. Fresh fruit on every street corner. Especially mangos!
2. Paying $3 for dinner and $10 for a hotel.
3. Wearing flip-flops all day.
4. A spring roll appetizer at every meal.
5. The feeling of being very far away from home.
6. A change of scenery every few days.
7. Thai curries and Lao sticky rice.
8. El Nido’s tropical beaches.
9. Rice paddies.
10. Excited children yelling “hello.”
Our first post from Australia is coming soon!
Immediately after purchasing our plane ticket out of Laos, we felt a surge of regret. We suddenly felt like idiots for leaving a country we loved so soon. Here are seven things we will miss most.
The overall atmosphere
Immediately after setting foot in Laos, you notice a change, and breathe a sigh of relief. Everything is a bit calmer, slower, more laid back. Tuk-tuk drivers wait for you to come to them, people pause to say hello to you on the street, and foreigners are not the center of attention. Tourism hasn’t seemed to change Laos as much as its neighboring countries— or maybe it’s just the way Lao people are. It’s hard to put a finger on it exactly, but there’s just a feeling here that makes you want to stay.
Sticky rice (and new Lao dishes)
After eating it with every meal during a trek through Nam Ha, we were hooked on sticky rice. Chewy and flavorful, a perfect finger food for dipping into anything else on your plate, it is the standard accompaniment for Lao cuisine. And though dishes here are not as boldly flavored or expansive as the more familiar Thai food, they do include delicious flavor combinations we had never tasted before. A particular favorite is chicken laap—minced chicken bursting with flavors of lime, mint and ginger. The fried spring rolls in Laos also seemed unusually tasty.
Lazy days in Nong Khiaw
Some of our favorite memories from Laos will be of the times we did nothing at all. Our shady deck had a commanding view over the Nam Ou river valley, and the constant activity on the opposite bank made long-term lounging an entertaining pastime.
After a steady stream of tasteless, colorless beer in the rest of Southeast Asia, Beerlao Dark is a shining ray of hope in a gloomy tunnel of beverage despair. It’s an impressive 6.8 percent and it actually tastes like something. Something good.
Biking is an excellent way to explore a new place, and it was especially nice in Laos, where drivers are a bit less maniacal and tons of locals also ride bikes. It’s slow enough that you can appreciate the details in passing scenery, respond to hellos and palms outstretched for high-fives, yet fast enough to cover a lot of ground. Plus, you can feel like you’ve earned those spring rolls.
Nong Khiaw is a stunning small town nestled between towering karst mountains on the banks of the Nam Ou. Sitting on our riverside deck for hours a day, we watched leaves flutter down in the breeze, long painted boats motor past the village, and time float by.
If you ever find yourself in Nong Khiaw, we highly recommend the riverside rooms at Sunset Guest House. The views are unbeatable!
by Stephanie Choate
The town of Luang Nam Tha in northern Laos is perched along the fringes of Nam Ha National Protected Area—2,224 square kilometers of rolling jungle-clad mountains. Many companies offer guided treks through the jungle, and though we had avoided the more popular trekking scene in Thailand, we wanted to get further into this amazingly beautiful countryside.