I will be home in two weeks- it doesn’t seem possible! I’ve been crazy busy with travel this month, and it won’t slow down until I get home. It’s been one hell of a ride, and I’m just trying to savor these last few weeks. Last month you may recall that I was a bit homesick. Month eight I did a complete 180. I’m still so excited to see friends and family, but really enjoyed this last month of travel. I left behind Southeast Asia for last minute plans in Europe. My biggest worry was my mom’s surgery but she made it through like a champ and is in recovery mode. So now, time to dive right in.
There were a few dampers in month eight and I just know you’re dying to hear about them ;)
1. Day one of month 8, I lost my bank card! I left it at an ATM in Ubud, Bali. Oops. Luckily, I have a backup ATM card to a different account. Thinking that I was sooo prepared, I went to use it to find out I didn’t know the PIN number. I had to wait a week to access money. Lucky for me, I had a third backup bank: my friend Lauren!
2. In Amed, Bali I got a severe stomach virus. I’ll try to spare you the details but there was projectile vomiting involved (okay I lied about sparing you the details), and I’ve never felt so spent in my life. The next day I didn’t leave the room but we had a gorgeous place with views of the beach so if I were going to get sick, it was a good place for it. My friend took care of me, and the locals asked after me (even offering random drugs and local treatments). It took a week of eating just plain rice to recover from that one.
3. After landing in Malaysia, what I thought was a bug bite on my leg swelled into a red, infected mass. It was pushing on my quad muscle and was painful to walk and sleep. Lauren finally encouraged me to go to the doctor- I got medicine, it drained about halfway, and I felt much better! Apparently it was from a sting. Oh, and the doctor thought that since my permanent address was in Kentucky, I must eat Kentucky Fried Chicken every day. Haha. I explained that I probably hadn’t eaten KFC since the age of 10. Of course after that he wanted to know the history of the fast food chain as if I were a KFC expert!
1. Bali: We spent an amazing two weeks on Bali. We hiked through rice fields in Ubud and went to Pemuteran where we did the most spectacular snorkeling trip off of Menjangen Island. There is a 40 meter drop-off/ cliff in the water covered in magnificent corals, and there were so many amazing, colorful fish species. It was here that I met up with Adam of SitDownDisco.com. It was at his suggestion that we rented a jeep and barreled around the island with Lauren driving! After Pemuteran, we spent five days in Amed, a small coastline of five bays. We stayed in the village of Lipah and had a magnificent view and great snorkeling. From there we spent two nights in Sanur, where we got pulled over by the police and paid a ‘fine’ for not having an International Driver’s License (yes, by fine I mean bribe). Then, we ferried over to Nusa Lembongen, a small island with gorgeous views back of Bali. Lauren and I spent a couple of days hanging out at a resort during the day, swimming in an infinity pool, and reading lots of books. We both fell in love with Bali, the Hindu culture and architecture, the people, and of course, the snorkeling.
2. Malaysia: From Bali, we got our flights to Malaysia for a week stay. We spent several days on Penang, an island on the western side. We hung out in Georgetown, a town known for its architecture but even more so for it’s fabulous food. We ate well there! I caught up with Dave of WhatsDaveDoing.com over Indian food in Georgetown. We also visited the Snake Temple, which was really cool. After that, we headed to Cameron Highlands, which was also phenomenal. The weather was cooler… we actually wore long pants. We visited a tea plantation there that was beautiful.
3. Bangkok: After Malaysia, it was back to Bangkok for four days. This trip included a day at the spa, shopping for Halloween costumes, a great Halloween celebration, shopping for something warmer than tank tops for Europe, visiting prisoners at the Immigration Detention Center, and having lunch at the Bangkok Refugee Center. I met more travel bloggers here including Pam of SpunkygirlMonologues.com, Kate of AdventurousKate.com, Matt of BackpackingMatt.com, Kevin of TheMadTraveler.com, and Dwight of InSearchofSanuk.com. I also met a great girl when I was in Jordan in April who had switched jobs and moved to Bangkok. I stayed with her my last night. It was great to catch up and she took me to dinner at Cabbages and Condoms. Good food and a great cause.
4. Goodbye Southeast Asia: I said my good-byes to Lauren and to Southeast Asia. As always, the goodbyes were bittersweet. I boarded a flight to Berlin, wearing jeans for the first time in three months, and the stewardesses only addressed me in German. It was quite funny for me (until they served me sparkling water and I had to explain that no, that’s not water). I had a very interesting seat buddy who had biked from Berlin to Bangkok for seven months- how cool is that?! He was flying home early to see some friends, surprise a girl, and lastly, to show up on his parents’ doorstep on Christmas Day (since they think he’s in India). I love stories like that!
5. Berlin/northern Germany: I stayed in Berlin one day to do a free walking tour with Brewers. Then, I hopped a train to Neubrandenburg to visit my friend that I met while volunteering in Kenya. We bonded over four hectic weeks together in Africa, and I was happy to hear that she lived near Berlin. We stayed one night at her place, then headed north for the weekend to her hometown of Flensburg near the border of Denmark. It was one of the most fun weekends of my trip. I stayed in a beautiful, rural village and we made a day trip to the island of Sylt and then went to Denmark where I ate a Danish hot dog and toured the town of Ribe. Today is my last day with my friend before visiting a concentration camp tomorrow.
On Wednesday I am flying to Barcelona. I can’t wait for Gaudi, Spaniards, and more art and architecture. My trip is winding down quickly, and I still haven’t grasped the fact that I will be stepping off a plane soon to see my family. I have been extremely busy the past two weeks and my blog updates have been slow as a result. Unfortunately, the next two weeks will be even more of a whirlwind so hang in there. I am excited to announce that my first contest is coming this week as well as an important Sole Purpose update. And lastly, if you’re reading this sentence, thanks for hanging in there for my lengthy month eight post!