It is almost unbelievable that it has been almost 10 months since we left the USA for our world trip. We started with a 14-month plan that now has been extended to 18 months or so. It has been an amazing journey so far and we have yet to explore the African and South American countries. But now we are taking a break from traveling for a month and relaxing with my family in India. So it is good time to take stock.
We haven’t had a single moment where we regretted taking the decision to pack our stuff and travel. Traveling just feels right. Living – and not working – just feels natural. We can’t imagine going back to an 8 to 5 job. We can’t imagine getting stuck in a routine. Well, luckily we have at least 8 more months to live our fantasy.
The thing we miss the most are all our friends back in Boston. We miss the impromptu get-togethers with our neighbors. I miss my badminton buddies and sweating it out at my badminton club.
We believe that we will return as a better version of ourselves. There have been a few eye openers during our travels. We are traveling around with only a backpack and we feel like we have more than we need. Why in the world did we accumulate all that stuff back home? We have seen firsthand that how much you own has no correlation with how happy you are. What we have learned is that it is more important to be content than rich. We have met people from all over the world from all walks of life. As they say, a man is a man is a man. There are good people everywhere. There are bad people everywhere. And there are definitely many times more good people than bad people.
We have a grown a little travel weary. It takes more to impress us than before. Don’t get me wrong, we still get goose bumps every time we get to a new country. The first 24 hours in any new country are magical. Everything is different and you have to figure it all out. But the more we travel, the less we are interested in ‘sights’. After the 5th Catholic church, all the churches are just the same. Even the most splendid ancient roman theater is not as exciting after you have seen a few of them. And Mariya has vowed never to see another Buddhist temple. What we care for more now is the culture, the people and their daily lives. Couchsurfing is a great way to experience that. Through Couchsurfing, many people have hosted us in various countries and we have not had a bad experience yet. Anyone remotely interested in meeting people from different parts of the world, please check it out. We highly recommend it.
We knew from the start that getting visas on the road will be a painful exercise. But it has been worse than we imagined. The first thing we have had to do in many countries is to run to the embassy of the next country. Many embassies are just not well-organized and you have to make repeated phone calls and visits to get things moving. We have had to make many changes of plans due the visa paperwork. It is still a minor complaint compared to what we are getting out of this experience.
Here are our winner and losers so far:
- Favorite country for unique destinations – Indonesia
- Best city – Prague for me; Venice for Mariya
- Best country for monuments – Egypt
- Best food – Thailand
- Best culture – Japan
- Best value for money – Turkey
- Most expensive country – Norway
- Least expensive country – Cambodia
- Worst public behavior – China
- Best country to relax – Laos
- Most pessimistic country – Eastern Europe in general, Bulgaria in particular
- Most optimistic country – India
- Worst intercity transport – Indonesia
- Best intercity transport – Turkey (bus), Europe (train)