Published on August 10th, 201413
1,000 Days of Roaming the Globe!
29 October 2011 – 24 July 2014
The date crept up on me unexpectedly. A stray question in one of my travel blogging groups: What’s the longest you’ve been on the road?
So I checked. Added up the stray days, the months, the years. By golly, it was a nice round one, zero, zero, zero – days since I hopped on that plane in Seattle and first stepped toes in Vietnam.
Now I’m not one to bother (boast?) with counting countries, nor do I check this and that off on a bucket list (much less make one to begin with). But I’ve always been big on marking milestones in my life – even if only as an excuse to buy a bottle of bubbly… 😉
Ah but how to mark the dizzying goose eggs of 1,000 days roaming the globe?
I truly enjoyed cobbling together my 7 minute “Looking Back on 2012: The Movie” and I still savor watching that first full year in Asia digitally unfold. Indeed, I’ve said it here before, but it bears repeating – the best reward for all this TravelnLass pecking for the past near 4 years, is that these many posts (nearly 250 and counting!) serve as my own personal diary as I skip from country to country. Without them, I fear the details of my experiences in Asia and now South America, would begin to fade from my dodderin’ brain.
Still… that video took hours and hours to whittle, and I simply don’t have the heart just now to tackle digitally chronicling all 1,000 days in a gazillion photos, video clips, fades and sound. So what’s a (lazy) girl to do?
Why slice those 1,000 days into more manageable 3 month chunks and create a series of 11 collages – each depicting about a 90 day wedge of this 1,000 day odyssey.
Even then, it proved exceedingly tough to choose but a scant sample of images to define a thousand days of dazzling sights and memorable experiences. Nonetheless, I think I’ve managed to capture the essence of my life as an expat these past few years.
Ladies and Gentlemen (Lads ‘n Lasses), I present you with…
1,000 Days of Skipping ‘Round the Globe:
Dumping most every last bit of “stuff” I owned and buying a one-way ticket to Hanoi, Vietnam; gawking at the splendor of Ha Long Bay, hiking through picturesque Hilltribe villages amid the mountains of Sapa, flying south to Ho Chi Minh City, getting my first Vietnam apartment, diving head-long into a near sleepless month tackling the CELTA course, treating myself upon graduation to a few idyllic weeks gawking at wild orangutans and relaxing on the isle of Pulau Weh and the serenity of Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia, and celebrating my first ever “Tet” (Vietnamese New Year).
Starting my first (ever!) teaching gig, celebrating my birthday on the idyllic isle of Phu Quoc, and exploring the streets and alleyways of my new “home” in Saigon (and sampling the delectable bowls of steaming phở, bánh mỳ, gỏi cuốn, et al).
Taking advantage of my suh-weet teaching schedule (only Sat/Sun classes – with week days completely free!), a quickie flight to Cambodia to witness the stunning splendor of Angkor Wat; along with a dash to both Nha Trang and Mui Ne, Vietnam for some beach time.
Completing my 6 month ILA teaching contract, I was eager to tuck some serious Asian travel under my belt. First a quick trip to check out the cool, green French hilltown of Dalat, and then a whiz to Chiang Mai, Thailand (both possible relocation options after…) The BIG trip: a full month bouncing around MONGOLIA!
Upon my return from Mongolia, a blissful move to Dalat (and a new home at my beloved L’Auberge Ami), plus a quick dash to Singapore and 3 weeks trying to make a dent in the humongous land of Oz. Then back to dear Dalat for my 2nd Christmas abroad and another Vietnam “Tet”.
Another 6 month teaching contract, this time at the American Academy in Dalat (with my favorite class of “G4’s” plus a cooking class with my Juniors), another birthday in Vietnam (amid the wondrous garden at L’Auberge Ami), topped off with a FABulous trip to Laos for the annual Elephant Festival.
In the last few months of living and teaching in Vietnam, I enjoyed not one, but two wonderful photography courses in the picturesque coastal town of Hoi An. And on my final morning in Dalat, I rose at dawn to bid adieu to the sunrise view from my window at my beloved L’Auberge Ami.
Finishing up my teaching contract, I was once again free to wander as wide and long as I pleased. And wander I did – first to the Land of Everest (Nepal), then down to Malaysian Borneo to track down those cute little Pygmy elephants, a dash by boat into the land of Brunei, and finally I resettled into the Land of Smiles (Thailand) – just in time for the legendary Yi Peng lantern festival (plus the annual gathering of 1,000 monks).
Sooo many wonderful memories of my final adventure in Asia: Myanmar. Ever so hard to choose just a handful of pics for the collage – I STILL haven’t managed to write a post or twelve about my many extraordinary experiences there: the tanaka patches on every cheek, trepidatiously sucking a mouthful of betel nut concoction, gambling in the streets of Rangon, whizzing on the back of a motorbike through the Hilltribe back-roads from Kalaw to Inle Lake, the THOUSANDS of temples at Bagan, bouncing 2 feet in the air on a rickety train to Manadaly, the candlelit pre-dawn market at Hsipaw, and on and on. Stay tuned, I promise to catch up on all the tales. But meanwhile…
After more than 2 incredible years bouncing around Asia I opted to move on to explore a whole new continent: South America
Settling into the tippy-top of the Andes mountains in Cuenca, Ecuador, I fell in love with the red-tiled roofs and cobbled streets of “El Centro” (a World Heritage site). The temperate climate, the beauty of the Rio Tomebamba (one of four gurgling rivers that run through Cuenca), along with the language (I already had a rusty base in Spanish from working as a tour operator in Costa Rica for 20+ years) – all combined to make me decide to hang around this charming spot on the Planet for a spell.
Needless to say, words utterly fail to describe my delight in having a KITCHEN again, and I arrived just in time for Carnival, my birthday, and – I even managed to organize the (the first annual) Easter Egg Hunt (Búsqueda de Huevos de Pascua) in Cuenca!
Now bringing us up to the present… Seriously settling in here atop this mountain, and relishing staying put for awhile. A new apartment (TWO bedrooms, so your bed is waiting, friends!), face-painting for the Word Cup Ecuador game (inspired by my fond memories of face-painting for the SAFF Semi-final game against Afganistan in Nepal), celebrating the solstice “Inti Raymi” festival at the nearby Inca Temple of the Sun, and *finally* (after nearly FOUR months of acky dawdle) my Ecuador PERMANENT RESIDENT visa!
I’ve also been diligently working on improving my Spanish – jabbering with any local who will listen to my inelegant hacking of their native language, have hired a great private tutor who comes to my place twice each week, and am slowly making a few Ecuadorian friends like Martha, an “abogada” (attorney) with her many nephews and the family’s beloved “caballo” pictured above.
Oh and… further proof that the TravelnLass is slowwwing waaay down in her wanderings – I’ve even gone so far as to – OMG, adopt a pet KITTY! Seriously, “Dulce” (“sweet” in Spanish) truly is a doll, and adds such a comforting touch of “home” for a nomadic expat like me.
So, Does This Mean…???
…the TravelnLass is turning in her gypsy slippers in favor of homesteading here at 8,000+ feet forever? Plowing a potato field, cobbling together a chicken coop, penning up a pig or two?
Though it’s mighty nice to be somewhat settled in one place for a spell (and bear in mind, my apartment is fully furnished, so I’m still pretty much packing but a single rollie and a backpack), the “plan” is for Ecuador to serve as a base for slowly exploring the vast South American continent. Indeed, I still hyper-ventilate at even the THOUGHT of purchasing any “stuff” bigger than a scarf or a pair of earrings.
For starters, I’ve got my baby-blues fixed on those luscious Galapagos Islands off the coast, along with neighboring Columbia and of course that legendary icon in Peru (Machu Picchu). Oh and Cuba, as long as I’m now in the neighborhood. And Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, heck… with any luck, I’ll even make it all the way down to Antarctica!
In short, if I have my way (and these dodderin’ legs hold out) I can’t WAIT to see what new and exotic adventures await – among the next 1,000 days!