Where in the world are we?

Where in the World are We?

13 August 2011

Just for Fun

To wrap up the 'Round-the-World blog, we have compiled a rather oddball mix of photos, numbers, and memories to share. The photos here have not been posted previously as they consist of some of our random "cutting room floor" pictures and a series we intentionally saved for the end: "Poses Around the World" (yoga for ginnie, just plain silly-ness for Anthony). We also took photos of nearly every room in which we slept (we forgot 2 or 3) and decided we'd put together collages of the varying accommodations to be found around the world for $25US or less per night (and, usually, it was under $20!). Due to the tedious and time-consuming nature of uploading and then rearranging photos, these are in no particular order.

We hope you enjoy our lee review of our adventures during the first six months of 2011. Peace!

Despite the fact we each used our own camera throughout the trip, somehow this moment is the only time we caught each other taking a photo. (Taken in Ayutthaya, Thailand during our last week of the trip)

So, we travelled in rainy season and found ourselves caught in rainstorms fairly frequently in South America. The beauty of rainstorms there is that they typically last for just a few minutes (not so much that morning in Machu Picchu, but we were blessed with the most amazing cloud- and mist-parting vision of the site that it was worth being wet and cold all day). That light colored raincoat ginnie has is NOT at all a good raincoat (be warned: don't get a rain coat from Land's End if you will be in heavy rain!); she was drenched; when home in March we picked up a coat that actually keeps the rain on the outside (it's from LL Bean) and that made the second portion of the journey much drier (though we didn't have as much rain then either!)
In these photos we are in Peru, the top left one was taken as we waited out a hail storm! The bottom right shows ginnie's creative use of a poncho to keep her feet dry (the Keen's were perfect for the trip, but wet and cold feet are just no fun)

Funny places where we found our names - Anthony's is in a brick, the store front sign looks just how ginnie wrote her name on a plate in pre-school with one n forward and one backward (and she spelled it with a y in those days, too)

If only we could share more of the interesting/amusing billboards. The first was on the PanAmerican Highway in Panama and is just disgusting (do we really need to fatten all the world?) and the second one is just plain confusing - how exactly does it relate to jeans?


Yes, we (and by we, I mean Anthony) actually calculated the number of miles flown, here is our journey by the numbers:

BOS to HOU = 1602 miles

HOU to PTY = 1770 miles

PTY to CTG = 283 miles

CTG to BOG = 408 miles

BOG to LIM = 1170 miles

LIM to CUZ = 364 miles

CUZ to LIM =364 miles

LIM to QUI = 826 miles

QUI to HOU = 2347 miles

HOU to BOS = 1602 miles

BOS to CHI = 863 miles

CHI to AMM = 6220 miles

AMM to CAI = 295 miles

CAI to ABD =1464 miles

ABD to JNB =3892 miles

JNB to CPT =790 miles

PEL to JNB = 562 miles

JNB to BOM = 4318 miles

BOM to BKK = 1885 miles

BKK to PNP = 329 miles

SAI to HUE = 390 miles

Danang to HAN = 390 miles

HAN to BKK = 601 miles

BKK to CMA = 353 miles

CMA to BKK = 353 miles

BKK to NAR =2880 miles

NAR to HNL =3810 miles

HNK to LAX = 2550 miles

SAN to NWR = 2420 miles

NWR to BOS = 200 miles

Total Miles flown = 45,311

What we do not include here are the miles traveled by foot, car, bus, taxi, bicycle, or train. We often lamented not bringing pedometers because we definitely walked 100's of miles. People continually comment on us looking as though we did not eat on this trip - trust us, we ate and we ate a lot, but when the primary mode of transportation is by foot, a lot of calories are burned!

We also did not calculate the number of hours spent waiting in airports, that would be interesting because it's going to be a fairly high number!

During our last day in Chiang Mai, we did a couple important errands: Anthony got a haircut after 3 months and ginnie had an eye exam in which she tested out prescriptions with some funky glasses

Oh, the places we slept!


Colombia (that room with 3 beds was just a couple nights to wait for a smaller room to become available - the one next to it is that smaller room)


Ecuador (we forgot to get photos of 2 of our rooms and one of them was so nice!!)

Jordan (we included the bathroom because we {this time, we means ginnie} was fascinated with the shower situation - there is no curtain, but we had a squeegee which was used to push water that left the shower section down a drain in the floor)

South Africa (sometimes our bags exploded); that one on the bottom right shows the entire room - it was a teeny one

Egypt (we did not even bother with a photo of one of the rooms - you will understand why later)

Cambodia (another bathroom shot because the shower situation in Southeast Asia is even more fabulous - it's just a shower head in the bathroom with no worry about tubs and such, the water simply flows to a large drain in the floor. If they introduced the squeegee like in Jordan, it would be pretty awesome, though nearly all our bathrooms drained really well)


Thailand (we included the Bangkok condo; the upper left shows our really awesome room in Chiang Mai)

The airport in Lima - this was our first 24-hour flight and overnight in an airport. This one was planned, others just happened due to delays or whatnot. For the trip through the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia, most of our flights were overnight with the long layovers during the day, so perhaps we should have taken a photo of the plane seat... hehe:)

More fun times
This is all of ginnie's luggage for the entire 6 months! You can see a glimpse of Anthony's - just the orange pack.

There are just so many t-shirts

Not the only Turkish toilet we encountered along the way

Sign at the entrance to the trail up Lion's Head in Cape Town. We wonder if dogs are prohibited from pooping or if people should just clean up after them. And, do you think if a lone dog saw this sign, s/he would suddenly decide not to walk there? Hmmm... Also, it really just reminded us of Maya.

Total World Heritage Sites

As we mentioned at the beginning of our journey, we planned our trip with an emphasis on World Heritage Sites as a starting point. Here is the rundown of the World Heritage Sites we visited around the world. Our best count is in Vietnam, where we saw 5 out of 7!


*Panama Viejo

*Fort San Lorenzo


*Cartagena de Indias: Port, Fortresses, and Group of Monuments


*Machu Picchu

*Lake Titicaca - Taquile Island (the people of the island and their culture is really the item on the list)

*City of Cuzco


*City of Quito




*Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur

*Historic Cairo

South Africa

*Robben Island




*Hoi An Ancient Town

*Complex of Hue Monuments

*Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long (or, as we call it: Flag in Hanoi)

*Ha Long Bay

*My Son Sanctuary


*Historic City of Ayutthaya

And, just because it is interesting (to us, at least!)

Bodies of Water

*Dead Sea – Lowest Body of Water on Earth

*Lake Titicaca – Highest Lake on Earth

Good Eats!

Latin America. Colombia was by far the most challenging place to be a vegetarian, even the majority of cans of beans had pork in them, but we found a way. The top middle photo shows an arepa - a ground corn masa filled with cheese that oozes when it's hot! The others show vegetarian meals we found in Ecuador and Peru. Bottom right is the BEST eggplant pizza (Banos, Ecuador) and bottom left is a vegetarian version of a popular dish in Peru called Lomo Saltado, which is stir-fried meat (in this case, soy-based) and vegetables put over french fries and served with rice - delicious!

Middle Eastern - we had a lot of mezze (appetizer-sized dishes) in Jordan since there were not a lot of vegetarian main dishes available and the bottom photo is a fatir, which is like an Egyptian pizza where dough is flipped and tossed and then the "toppings" are wrapped inside and it is baked in a hot hot oven - it can be a savory meal or a sweet dessert depending on your selections - we had one of each!

We ate some of the most amazing meals in Asia! 3rd down on the left is ginnie's favorite from Vietnam - Cao Lau (a Hoi An specialty that we only found there). The bottom right shows mock meat seafood - we don't know how they do it, but it looks like real shrimp and squid!

Coca-Cola is everywhere! Fortunately, the rest of the world uses real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. That has made it challenging to drink Coca-Cola in the US, but made it a perfect treat during the travels

There are some good snacks to be had around the world. If only some of these were available back in the US (like the Peruvian Lay's sweet potato chips or the Tandem bar which is half ice cream sandwich and half chocolate-coated ice cream bar - what an ideal combination to enjoy after a day trekking through Inca sites!)
The photo on the bottom left shows our stash of snacks packed for our day in Machu Picchu! Also, Inca Cola is not delicious, and Anthony may have developed a bit of an addiction to Inka Corn snacks.

We enjoyed the local flavors made by familiar brands (and wish they'd sell these flavors in the US!)

We love local signs!

At our guesthouse in Siem Reap since we were there for our own Indiana Jones/Lara Croft adventures through Angkor

In Cambodia and Vietnam those Choco Pies were everywhere! We did not have one.

Two banana splits in Vietnam; the bottom one saved them because that top one is just ice cream and a piece of banana

I can't remember where this is!

Anthony enjoyed testing out new haristyles with his long hair

Posing throughout the world

~~Anthony’s Reflections~~

Favorite Special Treat? All of the glorious and I’m sure terribly bad for you, Cadbury chocolates in South Africa

Favorite Day or Experience? This one is virtually impossible to narrow down, but if I have to pick one day/experience, I'd have to say the day we spent with Me in Sa'Pa Vietnam. She was a very friendly and quite funny Hmong woman who lived in a small village up in the mountains. The great thing for me about this day was the fact that she met us in town early in the morning so that she could provide us a guided three hours-plus walk/hike to her home. En-route we passed through beautiful rolling hills with rice terraces on all sides, more colors of green than one could count, and snapshots of daily village life in Vietnam. We spent the rest of the day eating a home cooked lunch with freshly harvested rice and veggies, talking with her and her family, and learning more about the Hmong people than I had ever known. At the end of the day I think we both realized we had really been part of something special and it will definitely stay with me for a long time.

Favorite New Food? Eggplant and falafel pita pockets and I’m down for just about anything Thai or Vietnamese…yummy!!!

What you missed the most from home? I like a nice comfortable pillow to rest my head on at the end of the day, unfortunately, these were often tough to come by. We actually experienced many creative attempts in the pillow department, but when it comes down to it a nice pillow makes a huge difference in the quality of sleep, regardless of how tired one may be. I also missed Marie Sharps hot sauce…I still do in fact.

What you’ll miss the most from traveling? I’m not sure since three weeks after I arrived home I was already getting the travel bug again, itching to go somewhere. I will miss all of the amazing people with whom we talked, laughed, shared meals, hiked, and spent quality time. The world is an amazing place and to travel to places that pushed us even further outside of our comfort zones is humbling. There are an immense amount of incredible, amazing, and genuinely kind people in our world who always teach me something new about whom I am and why it is so important for us to take care of one another as human beings.

Something you’d prefer to forget? Absolutely nothing… Everything that I experienced, whether good or bad, became memories that I will always have with me.

Worst Hotel? Ditto with Ginnie on the New Palace Hotel in Cairo

Worst Meal? I can’t remember the name of the place, but we had a cheese pizza in Aguas Calientes, Peru. This was not only one the worst pizza I’d ever had, but also ranked right up there as one of the most terrible meals I’ve eaten in my life.

Best Meal? Another tie. The Thai red curry that I made from absolute scratch in cooking school and the Pad Thai dish in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (only $1.75 too!); oh, almost forgot, the pizza topped with fried eggplant in Banos, Ecuador…MMMMmmmm.

Best Hotel? Casapaxi in Quito and Hoang Trinh Guesthouse in Hoi An, Vietnam

Something you’ll never forget? A tie. Standing in the tombs of Saqarra and staring at the wall still etched and painted with hieroglyphics from thousands of years ago, pretty darn amazing. Second, waking before the sun to arrive at Addo Elephant Park at sunrise and then spending the day viewing some of the most amazing and beautiful creatures on Earth.

~~Ginnie’s Reflections~~

Favorite Special Treat? Lay’s Sweet Potato Chips in Peru – we went on long walks searching shops for these, they are just that good and there have been none to rival them anywhere else!

Favorite Day or Experience? All of it? No, to pick one is hard, but two things jump to mind: 1) walking with an elephant’s trunk in my hand and feeling no fear and 2) spotting my first giraffes in the game park and the excitement of that sighting

Favorite New Food? Koshary (from Egypt, it’s made of rice, brown lentils, chickpeas, macaroni and topped with a spicy tomato sauce and then crispy fried onions)

What you missed the most from home? a couch (sitting on a bed is just not as comfortable!)

What you’ll miss the most from traveling? Experiencing new things daily, all the walking, learning to say things in different languages and interacting with some of the most amazing, friendly, open and generous people all over the world - what a wonderful place we live and how lucky I feel to have had the chance to see so much of it

Something you’d prefer to forget? The pain that develops in the lower part of the body when riding a beach cruiser bicycle through streets of Cambodia or Vietnam for several hours due to wrong turns or following well-meaning people who decide our intended path is not as good as where they think we should go. Truthfully, I agree with Anthony, there is nothing I would wish to forget because every moment made an impact.

Worst Hotel? The New Palace in Egypt – HORRIBLE (we stayed one night, but immediately checked out upon waking the next day!) Let me expound some – it is in a bit of back alley (first sign of alarm upon arrival from the airport) and is on the 6th floor of a dilapidated building that requires taking a rickety elevator and passing empty, abandoned floors that looked as though they would collapse at any moment. Once in the room, we were attacked by mosquitos and could not find their lair. Then our toilet leaked continually and the response from staff was to just turn it off and they would look at it the next day; they also simply brought in a new bathroom rug to soak up the water and then be smelly. Finally, the staff is super creepy and rude – not comfortable to be a woman there – and when we checked out they wanted us to still pay for the remainder of our reservation (hence the reason we NEVER pay for rooms upfront because we would never have been given our money back). So, do NOT stay there if you go to Cairo!

Worst Meal? I don’t really have a worst meal (perhaps on the two occasions we had to have beans right from the can since there was no way to heat them was not my favorite, but it works), but I do have the worst dining experience and that came just days into being in Jordan when because we could not cook at our hotel, we had to eat out and since there are not a lot of vegetarian meals, we ate hummus, pita, falafel, or baba ghanouge and I felt like I never actually had substinence the entire time we were in the country! (Oh wait, not true, the night we stayed with PCVs we had an amazing spaghetti and fresh vegetable home-cooked meal that was super delightful!). The sad thing is, I was so excited to eat hummus in the Middle East, but I was so sick of hummus and pita after a few days that I just could no longer enjoy it and it was a burden!

Best Meal? The most amazing eggplant pizza at the small little unassuming restaurant in Banos, Ecuador ties with the meal we cooked ourselves at the Thai Cooking School (I am quite proud of that Pad Thai I made from scratch!)

Best Hotel? If I’m cheating, I’d say our condo in Thailand, but since that was using the timeshare I’ll pick one of the many fabulous locally-run places – Casapaxi in Quito. I also really loved Hoang Trinh in Hoi An, the people are amazing, the breakfast is fantastic and they gave us a gift when we left.

Something you’ll never forget? The adrenaline rush of having 3 lions walk right next to me and the excitement of first seeing hieroglyphs on the walls of tombs in Egypt

Well, that about wraps it up for the first half of 2011. Now, we are settling into our new home for the next 3 years here in Philly where ginnie is about to embark on the journey which really began when she became determined to fight human trafficking, slavery, and other human rights abuses. We are excited about this next adventure.

As far as travel, we know we'll be back to it when the time is right. As of now, it feels good to have a comfortable home in which to dwell and learn and relearn life in the US. We can say that there was much talk of exploring castles in Scotland and Ireland, camper-vanning through Chile, and visiting ancient ruins in Greece, so perhaps one of these will make up a forthcoming journey.

Thank you for following along with our adventure; we hope we've inspired you to leave your comfort zone and visit new places, too!

Peace and Love!

07 August 2011

The Perfect Transition

It is said nothing is perfect, but for us there is a perfect place in the world for complete relaxation and that is Waikiki Beach on Oahu, Hawaii. This is the only place to which we have returned in our travels and to which we will continue to return when we are in the vicinity.

After four years living and exploring outside the USofA, there was really no better way to make our transition back to the states. So, when making our travel arrangements, we purposely worked the schedule so we would have to pass through Hawaii on our way back. True, we could have just flown over the state, but where is the fun in that?

We left Bangkok at 8am on Friday, June 10th and after flights of 7 and 6 hours and 5 hours in Tokyo, we arrived in Honolulu at 9am on Friday, June 10th (love that International Dateline!). For a time, we considered staying in Japan for two nights since we have never been and really want to spend time there, but we decided it will be better to simply return for a longer journey when we can really explore. However, we still enjoyed the little bit of Japan we saw at the airport – how fun are Japanese treats? We were tempted to take photos of the electronic control in the bathroom that offers everything from flushing, to a water spray, to moving the seat lid, but we refrained :)

Anthony has given his seal of approval on this green tea-flavored KitKat; the remaining half patiently awaits us in the freezer :)

Our transition time in Hawaii was devoted to rest and relaxation … and sticker shock; welcome back to the US. We clearly did not realize how expensive it is to eat in this country – seriously, one place (which we will not name, but they have famous cheeseburgers) charges $3.75 for one soda – a soda?!? What? We ate entire meals for less than that during this trip! So, we kept it simple: picked up groceries and prepared meals for ourselves and a couple times picked up inexpensive eats at smaller places (like the awesome Udon noodle place – if we’d gone there the first night we may have had it every day! We should have known since every time we passed there was a steady long line of Japanese tourists waiting to eat!).

Our days were filled with long walks around town, swimming and reading at the beach, and more walks through town at night. Our visit coincided with two major events: King Kamehameha Day and the Pan-Pacific Festival. We wandered the street market that took over the main street in Waikiki and was filled with treats and trinkets and lots of people watching, watched a sunset Hula Show, and found curbside seats at the closing parade. The festival exists to unite the many Pacific cultures found in Hawaii (whether as local residents or the many people who visit annually from Asian-Pacific nations).

Perhaps the most delightful discovery made on this trip was Yogurtland. We saw people with these large bowls walking through the streets, but having been tainted by the unappetizing taste of frozen yogurt from the TCBY days, we were not so sure, then we went inside and saw a dreamland where we could choose from 15 flavors and serve ourselves the soft-serve and then put our own toppings on from the topping bar filled with 20 or more items. It can add up fast at $0.49/oz, but we did well at not overdoing it (though ginnie’s fruit toppings are heavy – why does the healthy stuff always cost more?) and ate there twice (had we gone in sooner, that may have been our dinner for 5 nights!). You can imagine our excitement when we saw this dream land existed in a plaza very near to the brother’s house where we stayed while in CA (and it’s got a lower cost per oz there). Sadly (or perhaps fortuitously) there is not such a place in our new neighborhood; although, ginnie did discover a similar place in one town on her apartment search so we know we can make our way out there for a treat should we be in the vicinity ;).

I really like making my own frozen yogurt sundae!

sometimes when I take hundreds of photos at sunset, I happen to shoot a pretty fantastic portrait :) it helps to have an attractive subject

We spent six days resting in Waikiki and felt ready to return to the mainland where our first stop brought us back to California (after 7 years away) where we spent time reuniting with family for a Tarzia brother’s wedding and connecting with friends. Ginnie even made a trip to visit the amazing new Ronald Tutor Campus Center at USC – what a different place! All in all our initial return to the USofA was quite joyful.

Fun times with our nieces and nephews

Since our return, we have gathered our worldly possessions (and reduced them, too) and moved into a new city. We’re adjusting back to life in the US and while there are definitely challenges, a lot of new things to learn (like when we had to ask a salesperson what Android is since we are now 4-years behind technologically, which is weird for people who were pretty tech-savvy before we left), and days when we really, really miss our life in Belize (and Coca-Cola made with real sugar) we cannot complain about an automatic washing machine, an automatic dishwasher, knowing we will find our favorite cereal on the shelf when we go into a store, and m&ms that aren’t melty in the bag.

Life is good :)

Peace, Love and ALOHA!!