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Meet the Feet: Post-trip Interview

Well, it’s hard to believe but our trip has finally come to an end. Now it’s time to take a look back and reflect on the last 7 weeks.

Trip Recap: 

Countries: 4

Flights: 9

Hostels/guesthouses: 23

Motels/hotels: 3

Homestays: 2

Minor injuries: 3

Lost items: 2

Stolen items: 0

Means of transport: 18

Favorite Airline?

Coley: Emirates. Great food and fabulous flight attendant outfits.

Kim: I really enjoyed flying on Thai Airways, but Emirates definitely had the best food. Air New Zealand and Quantas were nice too….I can’t decide.

Favorite hostel or place you stayed?

Coley:  This is the hardest question!

Favorite hostel/guesthouse: Charlies—a charming little guesthouse in Chiang Khong, Thailand with a pool, bikes for cruising around town, and homemade pancakes in the morning!

Favorite hotel: Aiyara Palace. Its modern design and amenities made for a luxurious night’s stay right in the heart of Pattaya.

Favorite home stays: Tan’s family in Thailand and the Hutchinson residence in Australia. Both families spoiled us beyond belief and showed us around their amazing cities.

Kim: Accents on the Park hostel in Nelson, New Zealand felt more like a home than a hostel. It was clean, comfortable, and the owner Royce was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They even had heated floors in the bathroom!? Talk about luxury hostel.

Favorite place you visited?

Coley: Thailand. I really just loved everything we experienced here from elephant rides to the floating market. It is just an incredible country filled with the nicest people imaginable.

Kim: I think it’s difficult to pick a favorite country because each one is so different that they’re too hard to compare. So instead, I’ll tell you my favorite place in each country: Wellington, New Zealand, Melbourne, Australia, Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Luang Prabang, Laos.

Favorite adventure activity?

Coley: Ziplining in Chiang Mai—a definite thrill without the scare factor

Kim: Ziplining in Chiang Mai definitely wins, but zorbing in Rotorua, New Zealand would come in second place.

Favorite moment?

Coley: Dancing in the rain while tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos

Kim Teaching a newly ex-monk how to dance for the very first time in his life in Vientiane, Laos

Favorite food you tried?

Coley: I had some rocking crab curry at a beachside restaurant in Pattaya, Thailand.

Kim: I had the most amazing chicken parcels meal in Ashburton, New Zealand. I’d also like to give honorable mentions to Fergburger in Queenstown, New Zealand, the banana chocolate roti from a random street vendor in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Pancake Manor in Brisbane, Australia, and the homemade stir fry our friend Allan made us in a hostel one night.

Least favorite food you tried?

Coley: These crazy little pork balls with beans in the middle that we had at a restaurant near Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

Kim: Squid is absolutely disgusting.

Favorite drink you tried?

Coley: Most definitely Thai iced tea. Seriously, that sweet little concoction is addicting.

Kim: Thai iced tea is the bomb.

Favorite dessert you tried?

Coley: Gelato from Kaffe Eis in Wellington, New Zealand. My personal favorite was coconut in a cone. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Kim: It’s a tie between the cookies from Cookie Time in Queenstown, New Zealand and the Chai gelato from Kaffe Eis in Wellington, New Zealand.

Best purchase?

Coley: Scarves from markets in Thailand and Laos. My family and friends loved them…wish I had bought more!

Kim: I bought a prosperity cat on the street in Bangkok, Thailand and within a week of having it I won $50. Hopefully it keeps working!

Favorite quality about your travel partner?

Coley: Her ambitious nature—if there’s a way for us to see the best parts of a city in only one night, she will find way to do it.

Kim: I love that Coley just totally goes with the flow in any situation. She also doesn’t get easily annoyed or frustrated like I sometimes can.

What will you miss most about traveling?

Coley: No responsibilities except waking up to catch your bus!

Kim: I honestly just love living the backpacker lifestyle. Backpacking is really a culture of its own and you get to meet so many interesting and like-minded people. I’m also going to miss never knowing what day of the week or what time it was, and it not really mattering.

What skills did you acquire on the road?

Coley: Making PBJs with inadequate utensils, being super quiet getting ready in the morning as not to wake hostel roommates, and just going with the flow.

Kim: Distinguishing where people are from based on their accent, grocery shopping in Australia and New Zealand without spending more than $3 on any single item, using chopsticks, mixing and matching outfits to make it appear like I owned more clothes than I actually did, learning how to properly cook rice, and learning how to speak some basic Mandarin Chinese.

If you were to go back and plan your trip again knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

Coley: I would want to explore more of Southeast Asia because the culture is fascinating and cost of living is ridiculously cheap.

Kim: I would visit less countries and stay for longer amounts of time. Because we tried to fit so much in in 7 weeks, we didn’t have much flexibility in our schedules. There were a few cities that we really loved and wished we could have stayed longer to explore them further. It is also quite exhausting to be traveling for a minimum of 4 hours almost every single day.

How many items did you cross off your life list on this trip?

Coley: Too many to count.

Kim: 28

What were some of the best items you packed?

Coley: Flashlight, green zip-up hoodie, and mini speakers. Best items I didn’t pack? Warm socks and green oil.

Kim: Columbia fleece jacket, padlock, and the UV filter on my camera lens (see Q&A #5).

What advice would you give to someone thinking about planning a trip like yours?

Coley: Do it! Pick where you want to go and start saving.

Kim: If traveling has always been a dream of yours, then it’s up to you to create the opportunity and make it happen. Save your money, buy a plane ticket, and go. No excuses.

Sum up 3 things that you learned on the trip?

Coley: 

  1. American backpackers are the minority among travelers. We heard from several people that we were some of the first backpackers from the U.S. they’d met so far on their trip. Let’s change that!
  2. Living out of a backpack is easier than expected. We had plenty of wardrobe choices, and having everything in one spot was nice
  3. If you need help with something, just ask. Most people are super willing to help travelers. They’ll recommend great places to eat, give directions, and genuinely hope you have a fantastic time exploring their country.

Kim: 

  1. While I loved Australia and New Zealand, you can travel much longer and much more comfortably if you pick a cheaper destination like Southeast Asia. For example, in Laos, we got an hour long full body massage, herbal sauna, bungalow suite accommodation, and three meals (including drinks and desserts), all for less than the price of one nights accommodation in New Zealand.
  2. We’re extremely lucky to grow up as native English speakers. I really admired the motivation and determination people have to learn and practice the English language.
  3. The best experiences are a) the unexpected ones b) the ones that require you to step out of your comfort zone
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Awesome Eats Aussie Edition

We brought you the best of the best eats from New Zealand, so here’s our top tasty treats from Australia.

#1: Pancake Manor

Are you a breakfast person? You’ll love this place. If not, Pancake Manor will turn you into one. Flip right through the lunch menu items and go for the gold: perfect pancakes in epic proportions. With flavors like Black Forest Cherry, Bavarian Apple, and Bananarama, be prepared to be “wowed” with breakfast delicacies that will fulfill your appetite and your sweet tooth. Pancakes aren’t your thing? There’s always “The Ultimate” crepes. Pancake Manor regular Adam Hutchinson said the joint is open 24 hours and a popular spot for late night drunkies. Way classier than Taco Bell, right? Kim and I were sad to leave Pancake Manor behind in Brisbane but to our excitement found Pancake Parlour in Melbourne. More fantastic flavored pancakes topped with heaps of ice cream. Lovely.

#2: Koko Black

A dream come true for chocoholics anywhere. After hearing from a Melbourne local that it has “hot chocolate to die for” we made it a priority to find this slice of heaven called Koko Black. Here’s a challenge: try not to drool when you look through the menu. The beloved Belgian hot chocolate (also available in flavors like chilli, chai, and hazelnut) shared the page with “spoil” treats including chocolate cake, shortbread cookies, chocolate mousse, ice cream, and divine individual chocolates. After one sip of the Belgian hot chocolate, it became clear why the chocolate parlor was packed. As if the sweet treats weren’t enough to lure you in, the décor of Koko Black matched the items on the menu perfectly-rich and luxurious. Perfect pick for a romantic evening with a significant other or for a girl’s afternoon.

#3: Lord of the Fries

A Melbourne staple that claims to have the “best fries you’ll ever try.” Its niche? Authentic international sauces to top your cone of salty potato treats. From the thirteen flavors available, Kim and I tried Persian, Vietnamese, and Thai . Persian is an aioli garlic mayo sauce, and Thai is a golden satay sauce. Our favorite? The sweet chili mayo referred to as the Vietnamese sauce. A little sweet, a little heat, a lot of goodness. Open to the wee hours of the a.m. for your late night fry fix.

#4: Issus Café

This low-key café is nestled sweetly in the middle of Center Place laneway of Melbourne. Serving up lattes, sandwiches, breakfast, and most importantly- homemade ricotta cheese donuts. These bad boys are fried to golden perfection and topped with heaps of powdered sugar. The warm chocolate sauce and strawberry compote compliment the dish fantastically. So good we made Issus our café of choice for breakfast the next morning.

#5: The Soup Place

While dining at Issus Café one day, we noticed a teeny restaurant tucked away in Center Place with a line out the door and half way down the street. Obviously, when we see a line like that filled with Melbourne locals, we knew we had to check it out. So cleverly named “The Soup Place” this gem offers a huge variety of hearty and healthy soups. They are all made daily free of preservatives, colors, and additives. Kim asked to have the best selling soup and was served a huge bowl of Spicy Moroccan Chicken soup.  To compliment the soup, they also offer fresh (and free!) olive bread. Great choice for a cold winter afternoon in Melbourne. Luckily, “The Soup Nazi” was nowhere to be seen.

#6: Manly Grill

Did we see a kangaroo in Australia? Only on our plate. Kim and I had the opportunity to try a kangaroo fillet at Manly Grill in Manly, Australia. So, what is kangaroo like? It’s a very gamey meat best served medium rare. The taste is most comparable to a super lean steak. One bonus about switching up a normal steak dinner for kangaroo is the great nutritional value. Kangaroo is high in protein and iron, low in fat content, and big in flavor.

Now that we’ve left behind traditional Western style cuisine in New Zealand and Australia, it’s time for Thailand and Laos to bring full on flavors at ridiculously low prices. Yum!