We’ve been home sweet home for more than a month now.
We’re back in our house in Ottawa, Canada and back to our pre-travel life.
Hints of fall and the end of our endless summer are everywhere. There are fresh apples at the market, a few leaves on our maple tree out front have lost their green, and school busses have joined the traffic. The mornings and evenings are getting cooler as summer winds down—our first tastes of frigid air in more than a year. Soon, our sun-kissed hair will darken, we’ll have to give up the comfort of flip flops, and L, who travelled the world for a year with a single pair of shorts, will have to put on pants.
But the season isn't the only change...
We first used Airbnb a few years ago for a one-month trip through Vietnam.
We stayed in a narrow, four-story apartment with an outdoor roof-top kitchen in Ho Chi Minh City; in a small house with a garden steps from the beach near Hoi An; in an apartment with bunk beds and a neat full-wall mural in the centre of Hanoi; and in a family home in the mountains of Sapa. Each stay went really well and these experiences sold us on Airbnb.
Since then, we’ve used the platform in more than a dozen countries on four continents and almost all of our stays have been great.
I love this photo.
It pretty much sums up this year for LJ: new friends, the beach and soccer.
Recently, the kid had her last soccer experience of our world trip. She attended a camp with the Valley District Soccer Association. We've spent the last month with my parents in rural Nova Scotia. There aren't many kids around so the camp not only let her play her favourite sport, but also provided some much-needed kid time.
If you’ve followed our stories, you’ll know that soccer ended up playing a big part in our year-long, around the world adventure.
Okay, how about I answer some big, sort of awkward questions about our one-year trip around the world...
Many people have asked these questions and I’m sure there are a few more who’ve been wondering but feel weird about asking.
First, no, we didn't get major diarrhea.
Second, yes, we did get head lice.
Third, let's talk money.
I'm writing this from my parent's house in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. Twenty countries, four continents and countless memories later, our world adventure has come to an end.
One year ago, we left Canada from Nova Scotia and now we’re back, having travelled around the world.
L is back in Ottawa getting ready to return to work and LJ and I are here, taking it easy. We'll head home at the end of the month when we get our house back. I think we're both happy to have a bit of a slower pace, more of a routine and time to ease back into "normal" life. I'm getting some work done; LJ is finishing up some schoolwork, hanging out and going to soccer camp; and we're both fitting in some fun with Grandma and Grandpa.
We’re on our way home.
I’m in a hotel in Niagara Falls. Neither L nor I had ever seen the falls until yesterday. The three of us spent the evening watching them while fireworks lit up the sky.
Today, we're hanging out in the room for a while to watch the Canada vs. Netherlands women's soccer game. LJ is very excited to see two of her favourite players face off on the field.
This year, amongst all the amazing moments, it's often the simple ones that stay with me. Those moments of connection – to people, cultures, each other.
We love Parque Juarez el Llano.
Every evening it bustles with activity. But's it’s not loud or overwhelming; there's an almost relaxing buzz in the air.
As the heat of the day subsides, families come out for a walk and to let the kids tire themselves out on the playground, the bouncy castle or at one of the other activites that are set up each night. Around them, young people practice dancing, couples cuddle and kiss, little girls take rollerblading classes, a drumming group perfects their timing and vendors sell all kinds of tasty treats.
After Vietnam we took our eight-year-old homeschooler on a “highly educational” trip to…
WTF! Talk about reverse culture shock! What were we thinking?!
After having been away from North America for nine months stepping back onto our own continent via the Vegas Strip was…bizarre!
Jarring! Ridiculous! Crazy!
There's a spot in Vietnam, just outside Hoi An, where a narrow street that's not open to cars turns into a dirt path. The little path opens up to a quiet stretch of a long beach. Its shores are lined with traditional basket boats still used for fishing and the water carries endless waves.
In the spring of 2017, after a week in Ho Chi Minh City and a 20-hour overnight train, LJ ran excitedly down that little road.
When she hit the ocean, it was like every ounce of tension in her little six-year old body was washed away and replaced with a sense of freedom, excitement and ease. She sat in the sand with her legs in the water and took it all in, seemingly completely in her element.
4/24/2019 0 Comments
There is much to love about the city of Luang Prabang in Laos.
It sits at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it’s definitely picturesque. It also retains considerable French influence, has great food and every morning Buddhist monks walk the streets for the daily alms giving ceremony (tak bat).
After Thailand, we spent five days in this small city in north central Laos. I really liked the area and could have maybe stayed longer; however, it ended up being a good thing that we only planned for five nights.
Travelling has turned LJ into a bit of a foodie and her food-loving parents couldn't be happier!
She loves trying new foods and will pretty much try anything at least once. She's also really gotten into cooking shows and can't wait to have a full kitchen again.
One of our favourite things to while travelling is a self-guided food tour. Guided food tours can be expensive, but they're totally doable on your own for a fraction of the cost. We basically read a bunch of blog posts from people who did it before us, make a map on our phone with some key locations and notes about the dishes to try, then...spend the entire day eating!
Thailand was different for us.
We've been trying not to move around too much within a country, opting instead to pick one or two spots and stay put so that we can have downtime, save money and really get to know the place.
But for Southeast Asia we were keen to travel over land as much as possible so we started in Johor Bahru in southern Malaysia and headed north all the way through Thailand and then east into Laos. We did settle for five weeks in Malaysia, but were more ambitious for its northern neighbour. We moved eight times in 30 days while in Thailand and were busy most days.
It was quite the adventure!
It’s after dark and we’re whizzing around Bangkok in the back of a tuk tuk after a long day of exploring.
We’ve been in the city for just two days and will leave tomorrow morning.
“Mom, are we almost home?” asks a very sleepy LJ as she leans into me.
We have just a few more days left in Malaysia.
It's clear that three things have come to define our time here.
But before I get to that, let me catch you up a bit...
For the last four weeks we've been living in a small apartment in the home of a Chinese family on Penang Island. Our neighbourhood is great – close to the beach, grocery store and lots of street food; and allowing for easy bus access to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Georgetown and the beach town of Batu Ferringhi.
The highs and lows of long-term travel with kids
We had a great two-weeks in Bali, spending Christmas and New Years in Ubud, a town in the island's uplands.
It was strange and a bit difficult to be away from friends and family, but we managed to make the holidays very special and certainly memorable.
LJ actually picked this destination. We let her chose between Sri Lanka or Bali and she opted for the latter. We even let her pick our Airbnb (after I came out with four suitable and affordable options). She loved having a big say in our adventure and she made a great choice.