RTW Travel: Six Months In

Trying on a traditional Red Dzao tribe hat in the market in Sapa

That’s right folks. It’s been six months since I left the Louisville Airport heading to Venice. Although I still have another 2-1/2 months of adventures ahead of me, I know it’s going to go by fast, perhaps too fast. I recently booked six flights in six weeks. I have a flight home now (in time for Thanksgiving!), but before that I will be visiting Thailand, Bali (and possibly Jakarta), Malaysia, Berlin, and Barcelona. I’m excited for the remainder of Southeast Asia. My stops in Europe were a bit unexpected but it was the same price for me to fly directly home as it was to stop in these two cities, and Barcelona has been on the bucket list for a while now. I will be meeting up with a friend in Berlin who I actually met on this trip while I was in Kenya; I’m really looking forward to seeing her again. So, now that I’ve blabbed my upcoming travel plans here’s a look at what I got into this month.

My friend Cehe from the Hmong tribe, Sapa, Vietnam
  1. Spent 2 days in a beach town in Cambodia getting my visa for Vietnam before taking off for Ho Chi Minh.
  2. Visited Dalat, Munei, Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay, Hanoi, and Sapa in Vietnam. Some highlights included: Valley of Love in Dalat, driving my first motorbike, the tailors and art galleries in Hoi An, seeing Uncle Ho’s body in Hanoi, and making friends with some girls from the Hmong tribe in Sapa while exploring perhaps the most beautiful scenery I’ve come across to date.
  3. Took a miserable bus ride across the border into Laos (after being asked by border police for proof of life insurance).
  4. Settled down in Muang Ngoi Neua for 4 nights, a village only reachable by boat with electricity powered by generators for about 3 hours per day. It was a phenomenal experience, and I made friends with people that I will dearly miss. Oh yes, and we were invited to a wedding reception in the village- it included drinking lao-lao (rice whiskey) starting at 10am.  We had to call it quits by noon.
  5. Was enchanted by Luang Prabang. Although I had heard it was really touristy, being there in off-season helped. I biked out to a waterfall for a swim, which was a 12 km uphill ride. My bike was stuck in the highest gear- needless to say I was really sore but the swim was great!
  6. And yesterday, I wrapped up my sixth month with a visit to the archaeological site Plain of Jars in Phonsavan, Laos. It was really neat.
  7. I wrote a post about my volunteer experience in Malawi for GoOverseas.com.
Trekking through rice fields near Muang Ngoi Neua in Laos

I also wanted to give a little update on Sole Purpose. In terms of running, I have my next race scheduled. Since I’m no longer going to Nepal on this trip, I had to find a race in Indonesia. It’s a 5k in Bali on October 17th. It was a bit stressful as my bank transfer would not go through, and I didn’t meet the August 31st payment deadline; however, the race organizers agreed to let me pay on arrival. Phew! In terms of donations, I have approximately $180 left. I just made a donation in Laos on a project that I’m really excited about! I’ll be sharing the details shortly.  I’m in the process of finalizing plans for volunteering in Thailand on the Myanmar border, an area full of refugees. I believe I will be doing some administrative work on a fundraising project for a technical school. Again, details to come as soon as I know that I’ll be going.

Six fabulous months have come and gone and I can’t wait for the next few (which finally will involve some beach time!).

16 thoughts on “RTW Travel: Six Months In

  • I’m so happy that you had a great time in Vietnam! Sounds like you experienced all of the highlights! I’m sure your last 2 1/2 months will go so fast! Looking forward to following your next marathon!

    • It goes by incredibly fast! Vietnam was nice but it was unfortunate that I felt rushed since there was so much to see. Leaving Laos soon but it’s been amazing!

  • Time spent traveling certainly goes by quickly, but I’m glad to hear you’re still enjoying every moment of it! I just had to laugh when you said you ‘only’ have 2-1/2 more months to go.. haha, you’re so lucky!

  • Wow, looks like you’re having an amazing time. I’d be willing to bet our paths have crossed somewhere, as my wife are in Vietnam having been to many of the places you mention above.

    We’re not quite as adventurous as you, but you might be interested in hearing how our experiences differed on my blog.

  • Such a variety of experiences on your trip!

    I love to read about other traveler’s Vietnam experiences because my visit there several years ago didn’t go so well and I decided to leave after a week. But after reading such posts as this, I want to return and give it a second try!

    I’m definitely interested in hearing about the volunteer work in Thailand as well…

    • Earl,
      It’s funny that you say that because I actually didn’t enjoy Vietnam as much as I thought I would. I didn’t think it was all that friendly and it was a bit tourist overload for me. Everything seemed geared for tourists. With that said, it seems like the smaller towns are where to go though and I thought Sapa was one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to!

  • Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time. I absolutely loved Vietnam both times I’ve been, but I haven’t made it to Dalat or Sapa yet. Maybe next time!

  • Lovely photos, RTW sounds fun. I don’t know how you do it, but sometime I wish I can do that too. Just drop everything and stop working and RTW to feel and experience. Have fun in your coming adventures.

  • I enjoyed reading about your travel experiences in Vietnam. Thanks for sharing! It brings back so many incredible memories of Sapa, Hoi An, Hanoi and Halong Bay. Glad to see you also traveled to Laos and Indonesia… 2 of my favorite countries in Southeast Asia.

    ~cheers, @hiptraveler

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