Posted by Kim Pitingolo
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.
Minor injuries: 3
Lost items: 2
Stolen items: 0
Means of transport: 18
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.
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.
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.
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?
- 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!
- Living out of a backpack is easier than expected. We had plenty of wardrobe choices, and having everything in one spot was nice
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The best experiences are a) the unexpected ones b) the ones that require you to step out of your comfort zone
Tags: accents on the park, Adventure, Air New Zealand, aiyara palace, australia, backpacking, Brisbane, Charlies, Chiang Khong, Chiang Mai, Coley Nelson, Cookie Time, Emirates, Fergburger, Food, interview, Kafe Eis, Kim Pitingolo, laos, life list, Luang Prabang, monk, nelson, new zealand, Packing, Pancake Manor, pattaya, Post-trip, prosperity cat, Quantas, Queenstown, roti, rotorua, Southeast Asia, Street food, Thai Airways, Thai iced tea, thailand, Travel, Tubing, Van Vieng, Vientiane, Wellington, ziplining, zorb, zorbing