He Said/She Said: 6 Month Review

He Said/She Said: 6 Month Review

Six months have passed since we fled winter in Minnesota for Southeast Asia.  Over these months we’ve traveled extensively through Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.  Not only is this a calendar milestone, but also begins a new chapter of our journey as we head north to Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, China and Mongolia.  Looking back, these are our thoughts about the region and what we are looking forward to.


I am ready for a break: eating sushi on a bullet train sounds great.  That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy Southeast Asia.  I thoroughly did; in fact, I am looking forward to coming back in a few months to see the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.  Even so, I am ready to escape the stifling heat for a few months.  I am excited to spend time with friends in Hong Kong, eat sushi in Japan, use fast internet in South Korea and witness booming China.

I will never forget this period of the trip, not only did it serve as a starting point, it changed my understanding of the region.  With all the memories we have here, the best will be the friendships we made.  Although we don’t talk about it much, Southeast Asia is probably the world’s most established backpacker trail.  This is not a place to seek off-the-beaten-path adventures, rather a place to travel weeks and months seeing many of the same people.  We made lifelong friends whom we will travel with in the future.  As we head to lesser-traveled places via even lesser taken routes I will miss the camaraderie and connection with other travelers that Southeast Asia offers.

Due to the backpacker trail, I think it was one of the best places to start a trip like this.  We had debated long and hard about where to start Australia/NZ, India or here.  This was the right choice because it offers short bus rides, just enough language barriers, minimal daily frustrations, and general comforts.  It isn’t a Western culture like Australia/NZ or the trauma of India. This was just right, the Goldilocks choice.

During our trip here I learned more than I probably realize.  The lessons about the United States involvement in the area were the darkest.  The cultural diversity from country-to-country, or even within countries, was the highlight.  We even got a crash course in Buddhism.  There is no way to summarize what we learned, I came into this region knowing very little about it, the history and geography, I am leaving with a new appreciation for a part of the world I had rarely thought of prior.


Wow, six months in already?  I can’t believe that we have been away from home that long.  The time has flown by, but at the same time, home seems like a distant memory.  I am happy to report that adjusting to the backpacker life wasn’t too tough for me.  Granted Southeast Asia makes it even easier to adapt with nice, affordable accommodation, English speaking people everywhere and lots of other backpackers.  The last six months were essential to prepare us for the rest of our trip, where English speakers will be harder to come by and other backpackers might be scarce as well.

I look back on the last six months and have many fond memories.  I know that we made the right decision to leave home with just our backpacks, unemployed and homeless to take to a nomad lifestyle. Starting in SE Asia was the right decision as well, looking back I know that starting in India may have been a lot from the start and Australia and New Zealand may have been too much like home. While there was a short adjustment period we have hit our stride.  This first 6 months in SE Asia was crucial in learning about life on the road, meeting other travelers and finding our own travel style.  I will never forget this part of the trip and the incredible lessons learned, some the hard way.

Many of the lessons that I have learned thus far you have read about on this blog, but others I have only made note of in my personal journal.  The growth that I have seen in myself and in our relationship have been due to these lessons.  Many of them have been gained through insights from other travelers or someone that opened me up to something that I would have never seen without them.  To me the first six months has been not only about the lessons learned, but the amazing people that have taught them to me, including my husband.

To say that the people and places that we have experienced in the first 6 months of our travels has whet my appetite for the rest of our trip would be a gross understatement.  I am more excited than ever for what is to come even if it will be completely different than the adventures we have already had.  We have made life long friends and learned more about different cultures than I could have ever expected.  I cannot wait to continue our travels and learn from new places, cultures and people.

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» bka :
Jun 15, 2011

incredible…….we too find it hard that 6 months have passed, somedays it is 6 years, other days 6 minutes…….although we get a glimpse of the changes occuring in your lives, we also see greater snapshots in how you write, relate to each other and share your experiences that indicate “major” life changing things are taking place…..it is these very changes that were one of the initial motivators in taking on the challenges you have faced…..enjoy the change, the growth and love your experincing daily…….it is indeed life changing…….love you…..be safe ……dad

LOCAVORista Reply:

Dad, that is exactly how we feel-time plays tricks on you while you are traveling. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday we left and other times it feels like forever. I know the changes we have undergone and will continue to make will be for a lifetime though, not just 6 months. That’s the beauty of travel, lifelong lessons and memories.

» Donna :
Jun 15, 2011

Wow! Six months!! That seems like a l-o-n-g time to be gone … and yet it’s just a drop in the bucket if you actually keep traveling for three years! I think it really is something you have to do while you’re young. I used to think I’d love to be able to retire in Europe … but now I find I’m actually anxious to go home at the end of my 14-18 days traveling over there. Maybe as you age you need that security of a familiar place to lay your head at night, a pillow that’s already molded to fit your noggin, just the right amount of blankets on the bed and lots of wind chimes outside the window to lull you to sleep. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy living vicariously through your travels, even though you’re visiting places I never desired to go. I’m looking forward to many more months of watching your escapades, reading your articles and looking at your beautiful photos.

BTW, a last trip note from my last journey. Received a letter in the mail from Switzerland. Seems the photo cop caught either Bill or I speeding … yep, we had to send 180 Swiss francs over … with the wire transfer that came to $262! Shocked at first, now I consider it a great travel tale!!! We split it … didn’t want to get picked up at the airport sometime in the future for an unpaid speeding ticket, now would we??

Stay well and have fun!


LOCAVORista Reply:

Donna, of course we still miss our comfy beds (but, we sold them) and we miss everyone back home, but really the past 6 months has gone by so fast. Glad your still with us 6 months in and we’re keeping it interesting enough for you to keep following. BTW, love your story on the speeding ticket, bummer it was such a hefty fine.

» RT :
Jun 20, 2011

Your friend looks oddly familiar…

LOCAVORista Reply:

RT, I know you won’t be surprised, but that familiar friend caused us to use your gift for the first time…good thing we had it.

» Jackie :
Jun 22, 2011

Finally able to catch up on your travels. The past few weeks have been all about teens and I haven’t had my daily ration of “Where are Matt and Erica now?” So glad that your travels have been all that you wished for.

Tell your friend Donna that my aunt and uncle had a New Zealand speeding ticket track them back to Grand Forks. They looked in their travel journal to see which of the two couples traveling together was driving that day. Crime never pays!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Jackie, Thanks for catching up with us, it’s good to hear from you. We’re still playing catch up on the blog as we had so much to say about Myanmar we haven’t even posted anything about Hong Kong or our current country Japan. Hope all is well with you.

» Cindy :
Jun 25, 2011

It seems much longer than six months to us. We miss you both…Mom

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.


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