Sunday, August 2, 2009

Advice to Future World Travelers

I guess we never officially told you guys that we're home safe. We are! I moved back to Charleston this past Thursday and Krista heads up to Vermont next week. We're missing each other like crazy, slowly adjusting to our independent American lifestyles, struggling to answer questions like "Was it amazing?", "What was your favorite part?" and, in my case, "What are you doing now?" so excuse the nervous giggles and/or blank stares while we figure out the answers to those questions....

Anway, thank you everyone for the thoughts, prayers, and emails throughout - it was a wonderful trip, logistically everything went so smoothly, we learned so much about other cultures and more about ourselves, and for those of you worried about our health from the first few blogs (sorry for being so graphic!!), we came back in ship shape, even a little more round and rosy than when we left!!

To give ourselves a laugh during the trip, we kept a continuous list of things we wish we'd thought of, might have done differently, and/or did (without too much thought but much benefit) for future world travelers! I hope we've inspired some of you.... it's not all puking and haggling :-)

Here they are:

1. Print business cards with your name and email address on it for people you meet in passing, so much easier than finding scrap paper, pen, and rushing to write your email while a train is pulling out of the station...

2. Check the seasonal weather in all destinations i.e. don't go to India in June if you can help it. ha
It's impossible to be in every country during their most beautiful season, but it is possible to be a bit more prepared

3. 1 good wrap (sari in India, kikoi in Kenyan) is a very handy item to pack. Can be used as a wrap, scarf, sheet, napkin, pillow, tablecloth, picnic blanket, towel, cold compress, bad smell blocker...

4. Make sure your watch is waterproof and sunglasses are cheap.

5. Start the trip with a real holiday like relaxing on a beach in Costa Rica rather than in the middle of the city of Lima so you have some time to adjust to being away, but not shocked into it.

6. Change continents to keep things fresh - we talked to a lot of travelers just visiting Southeast Asia and they said that although it was cheap, all the countries and experiences started running together.

7. Go to the dentist at least a month before you leave so you have time to get any work done!

8. Really don't drink the water! A good investment is a super duper water filter that plugs into the top of a reusable water bottle (I can't remember the brand, Krista help!). It saves a lot of toothbrushing agony and saves the expense and extra garbage of buying bottled water all over the world...

9. Carry around a palm-sized spiral notebook that's not your journal to scratch notes and directions, etc.

10. Bring face wash pads and or wipes instead of bottled facewash - you don't need running water to wash your face!

11. Eagle Creek packing cubes are AMAZING!

12. Always clean your underwear in the shower, especially if you're in a warm climate where they can dry - it's always the first clothing staple you run out of!

13. Budget for domestic travel which can be expensive.

14. Do volunteer while you're abroad- it's a quick way to see a culture from the inside.

15. Do not eat all street food! You have to try some, but try to go to stalls that look clean and well-attended by locals with their children and other tourists.

Bye for now....back to real life.

With love and dreamig of future adventures,

Cate and Krista

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We're coming home.

So, Cate and I are in the Seoul airport having completed the first of our 12+ hours flights to get home. It's a bizarre mix of emotions, which we have decided when combined with very little sleep last night mostly just leaves us feeling numb! Ha. But lots of sadness, gratefulness, reflection, excitement, awareness, and surrealness also.

We had a good trip up the rest of NZ...the glacier hike was beautiful and we had a hunky Maori guide who looked like a Disney hero.
We then drove up the stunning west coast to Punakaiki where there is a Pancake Rock formation and stayed there for a night. We walked on the beach looking for greenstone, or jade, and out to the rocks, which are layered stacks of limestone, in the morning. Then we made it through Marlborough. the wine country, stopped for one wine tasting and stayed the next night in Picton because we'd missed the last ferry to the North Island. It'd just like to state here for the record that NZ has the most pimped out hostels in the world (we can make statements like that now being world travelers and all)...there was a hot tub in Picton and we got free chocolate pudding and ice cream!
We got the ferry in the morning and started a mission of a drive up to Whitianga where our friends Sarah and Juddy were at Juddy's family's beach house! Totally sweet. On the way we lunched in the hip area of Wellington (like the village in NYC), stayed a night in Taupo (which is surrounded by steaming hot springs that smell like sulfur), and stopped for the world's biggest hot chocolates in Rotarua (seriously, it was served in a soup bowl). It was pretty exciting to see Sarah and Juddy after 3 years! They had a couple of other friends staying so we had dinner and drank lots of wine and played a card game called 45's (For the Buckley family, it's like Euchre on crazy pills!). The next day we ((very)briefly) ran into the freezing ocean then checked out the much photographed Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach, where geothermal hot water comes up through the sand! Today we got up at 3:45(!) to drive to Auckland to catch our flight here and we after a 14 hour flight tomorrow we will be back on American soil for the first time in 5 months.
Just wanted to send one more post from the road. I'm sure we'll post a few more times now that we'll have regular internet access(!) and will post some links to photos etc., so keep checking but just wanted to say thanks for following along throughout this trip. It truly has been incredible, and we'll try our best to accurately convey it to you when we see you. :)
Love and adventures,
Krista + Cate

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Down Under!

Down under looks pretty much on the up and up after the rest of our trip! We've battled through a strong dose of culture shock (we can drink the water?! the shower is hot?!) and have had an indulgently enjoyable couple of weeks in Australia & NZ! Highlights include:

*Marveling at the amenities of the Seoul airport on our layover- free showers and TV rooms!, a Smoothie King!, and even southerners (Cate met a girl from Spartanburg in the airport!)

*Being picked up in Sydney by Cate's parents' friend, Averil. Such a luxury and no haggling for taxi prices.

*Sydney was gorgeous! Coastal walks along Coogee and Bondi beaches watching surfers.

*The Opera House at night, the Taronga zoo with a view of the harbor, walking around markets.

* Walking past the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, in the botanical gardens.

*Meeting up with my friend Mike, from Sydney, for a drink and then reuniting with Flynn, an Irish friend who hiked Machu Picchu with us and happened to be in Sydney also!

Onto New Zealand, where we jumped to Queenstown to meet up with my sister, Marissa, for a week!

*Seeing my sister after 9 months of not seeing her and 5 months of not seeing any family was pretty exciting!

*Also meeting up with my friend from high school, Stephen Downey and his wife, Rachel, who have moved to NZ! Pretty awesome to reconnect with people in crazy places.

*We took a cold, but beautiful trip to Milford Sound, skied through a cloud at Coronet Peak, Marissa and I bungee jumped 134m (amazing!), survived a pub crawl, danced the night away a few times at Winnie's, the bar where Marissa bartends, attended the 'Top Bloke' contest which is basically a 'Mr. Queenstown' contest complete with a talent portion and hilarious choreographed dances.

Now we've taken to the road with our rental car to make our way to Auckland where we fly home from on the 16th!

So far we've hiked the Franz Josef Glacier and stayed at some pretty pimped out backpackers hostels (complete with hot tubs!).
We'll try to post one more time before heading home!
xx k+c

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

For Kathleen, our number *one* and only supporter

Thanks for reading our blog and knowing how to comment on it!

We spent a week in the hippie Himalaya oasis of Vashist outside of Manali, hanging with Argentinians, hiking up waterfalls, yoga-ing, gawking at drum circles, taking baths in the hot springs, and just enjoying the view. Were very sad to leave.

After an overnight bus and an overnight train, we are back in Mumbai, where it's cooler as the monsoon has arrived (not nearly as scary as it sounds, more of a drizzle), awaiting an overnight plane to Sydney and the last leg of our trip. :(

We will be in Sydney Friday morning and are admittedly both glad to be getting back into first world territory - most excited about drinking water straight from the tap, reliably safe public transport, well and MARISSA!

Report soon from Down Under!


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Apparently 46 Celsius is 115 Fahrenheit.

It was hot. Real hot.
But also unbelievably stunning, serene, magical.

Golden Triangle

We've been in India for about a week and half now and have already seen a good bit of the Golden Triangle!

We moved from steamy and humid Mumbai where we spent a day at Elephanta Island, had a fancy dinner near the Racecourse with one of Krista's dad's friends from business school, and starred as extras in a Bollywood film to Udaipur where we saw a beautiful sunset from the Monsoon Palace, watched a late night screening of James Bond's Octopussy (a majority of which was filmed in Udaipur), played dress up with saris and were convinced to have some Indian clothes tailor-made, to Jaipur where we took a day break from the bustle at an organic farm, read our books and paddled in the half-full pool and then had one day touring the Pink City with a rather incompetent, but well-meaning tour guide. Highlights included Mantar Jantar, one of the largest and most well-preserved astrological parks in India, and seeing Dr. Vinod Shastri for a palm reading and astrological charting (after the guru that our guide took us to tried to sell Krista a pendant to unblock her heart shakra(?!) and made me cry!) Looks like according to the stars both Krista and I are going to have long, happy lives filled with travel - let's hope he's right!

Yesterday, we spent the day in Agra. We were both feeling a little bit overwhelmed by the heat and victimized by pushy and somewhat mafioso drivers/tour guides/shop owners, but a late afternoon and sunset at the Taj Mahal was a cure-all. The Taj really is the jewel of India - more beautiful and grandiose in real life than any photo or postcard can portray and a calming aura with the pristine white against a stark bright blue sky pervades which is refreshing after the mishmash of colors and sensations of the Indian streets.

We got into crazy Delhi late last night and are staying in the Tibetan refugee area of town having our own little refuge. It turns out that, at least in India, Krista and I are country girls! Doing some maintenance today- emails, postcard writing, uploading photos - and are excited to head north to the hill stations of Shimla and then Manali tomorrow morning where the temperatures should be less than 46 degrees Celsius (we're scared to look up what this means in Fahrenheit, I think over 100!) and perhaps do some hiking and, if I can convince Krista, some yoga.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Charmed Indeed.

Having sundowners at Shaba National Park, Kenya.

New continent. New internet connection. Maybe a chance at posting pictures...let's see if our charmed streak is still goes!