It is incredible the lifetime of experiences one can cram into a short amount of time. With every experience comes knowledge and enlightenment. That is what I love about travel. When David Peters and I set out on our SE Asia journey to visit Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia in four weeks, we never imagined the breadth of shared experiences we would have.
Transportation alone to get to some of our destinations was daunting: planes, trains, taxis, motorbikes, speed boats, local carved boats, tuk-tuks, cyclos and bamboo trains.
But that is just the tip of the experience iceberg: We endured smells and environments that we can never begin to describe; we encountered many wonderful, and some not so wonderful personal experiences with locals; we stayed the night in a tribal lodge on top of a mountain with only primitive means; we ate ethnic food like Pho soup, Cambodian barbecue and fresh spring rolls that we loved…and braved some things we didn’t love as much like Pad Thai garnished with shrimp heads and eyeballs.
We tried local beers from every country; felt natural hot springs and majestic waterfalls; we floated along the Mekong River in a primitive boat and tried local catch from the depths of this famous body of water.
We climbed through ancient temples and jungles in 108 degree heat; we rode an elephant on a narrow mountain trail through thick brush and spiders. And, I tackled one of the most prominent items from my bucket list: fishing for the Giant Mekong catfish.
We sucked in smog in Bangkok, dust and dirt in Cambodia and haze in Vietnam. But, we also smelled green tea and lemongrass in the clean air of Laos. We found desirable and not-desirable in every country we visited, but through it all we gained a global knowledge and understanding about people and cultures different from our own.
Four weeks, four countries, four currencies, 12 flights, tens of thousands of miles traveled, one elephant, six waterfalls, four giant spiders, 40-million people, one nasty Tuk-tuk driver, one hospital, 25 Giant Mekong catfish, a dozen mystery meals, a hundred temples and a million memories.
Life is good.