Monday, January 2, 2012

catch you on the flip side


Over these past couple of weeks of traveling around Southeast Asia, I’ve found myself taking photos for future “daily(ish)” pictures and making Jules wait to eat until I’ve snapped a pic of her food each meal. I still find myself writing little posts in my head as leave this sight or that, making mental notes on what I thought about it so I could later share it with you. Old habits are hard to break, but after much thought, I’ve decided this is the end of the story. At least this particular one.

I’ve been writing for over 4 years about our lives. It has been amazing to share it all with our loved ones back home and new friends, some we’ve never even met. It has been a labor of love and sometimes just a labor. For those of you who blog, you know what I mean. I am thankful to have these memories recorded and to have shared them with you.

I can’t begin to sum up these past few years. When I think about how they are ending in just under 12 hours, I am overcome with emotions. I have said it before and I’ll say it again- it is time. We both feel it and we both know within the depths of our bones that we will miss traveling, but our next adventure is at home.

I want to end all of this by answering the question we get most. It is the question that almost every single person in our lives and those we meet asks…

“What is the most amazing/awesome/favorite/incredible thing you’ve seen?”

I’ve been unsuccessfully working on a collection of short stories about our travels. I always need a bit of perspective about things before I can write about them or at least that’s my excuse for not having gotten very far.

I’m going to share with you a very short excerpt from what will be the final chapter in my book. Yes, I realize working on the final chapter before even finishing the first one is a little odd, but hey, you should know I’m not that conventional by now. Anyway, it answers that question.

Each time I try to focus on what it is exactly that we have come away with from all this, my mind swirls around and around, but ultimately lands on the same thing- an overwhelmingly deep appreciation for human kindness.

Human kindness has allowed us to see the world. It is the one thing that I have found in every single corner of the globe. Without fail.

When I say human kindness has allowed us to see the world, I mean it in the most literal sense. Living in places foreign to you, where you don’t know the culture, don’t know the language- you find yourself completely reliant on the kindness of strangers.

The guy behind the wheel of the taxi takes you where you need to go. Eventually, anyway.

A waiter smiles and helps you decipher the menu and points you to the best dishes.

People on the street see your look of complete confusion and help you find your way.

The tour guide shares his culture, his people’s history and takes a thousand and two photos of you along the way.

The cashier at the store helps you count out coins on the counter to pay the correct amount.

People you’ve known for just a few weeks listening, sharing your joys and your sad times, filling in as family when yours is so far away.

Strangers overhear your conversation and suggest a better way, a better sight to see, a cheaper way to get there.

The receptionist at the doctor’s office laughs and puts you as ease as you both struggle to fill out the paperwork.

People all over the world have granted us patience, have lent us their hand and have helped us in a million ways. Without them, without their kindness, we would have never seen all we’ve seen, never experienced all we have or enjoyed it as much as we did.

We are different. We speak different languages. We wear different clothes. We eat different foods. We listen to different music. We worships different versions of God. We value different things. We live different lives.

Yet, we are all human. Even if our stripes are different, we recognize ourselves in one another and we honor that innate drive to take care of our own.

It has been a humbling experience to be on the receiving end of so much kindness. It is truly the most awe-inspiring thing we have seen in this world. By far.

Thank you for reading, for humoring me and for being such a big part of all this.



Saturday, December 31, 2011

the daily(ish)

I was blessed with the opportunity to cross off two more things from my Life List during these last few days of  2011…

#100- See Angkor Wat…




#101- Spend a day with an elephant in Chiang Mai, Thailand…



Both were just as amazing as I had hoped that would be.  2011 was truly a great year.  

I’m really looking forward to what 2012 has in store for us, obviously a lot less travel, but I’m sure a whole lot of wonderful as well. 

May you all have a healthy, peaceful and joyful New Year.



Friday, December 30, 2011

the daily(ish)

We missed Christmas at home this year.  It was a decision that really weighed heavily on us because we’ve never missed a Christmas before and we really miss our family and friends. It was tough being away from loved ones, it is for a lot of the holidays we miss during the year.  The good part was knowing that this would be the very last holiday away from them since we’re moving home in just a few days.

Christmas wasn’t too Christmas-y for us.  We traveled most of the day on Christmas Eve and thanks to a couple of delayed flights, we missed out on what was going to be a fairly traditional Christmas meal.  We spent Christmas day on a tour, we didn’t exchange presents and we ate Thai for dinner that night.  We did sit up singing carols to each other, laughing at how many we didn’t actually know the words to and watching snippets of Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special on my phone. 

I’d say the most Christmas-y thing we did do was buy a teddy bear in Siem Reap from our hotel…


The bears were to be given to children in a local hospital and all the proceeds donated to their care.  I was so happy to see how many bears had been purchased by guests before us. The real spirit of Christmas, of giving to those less fortunate and doing what you can to make someone else’s day a little brighter- that’s really my favorite part of the holiday anyway. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

the daily(ish)

I was able to cross off a few Life List items in China...

#40- Eat and swallow a piece of Durian

It was cooked and I still want to try it raw, but I liked it. It tasted like an onion.

#107- See rice terraces

Saw them!

#56- Eat a soup dumpling in Shanghai.



BTW- Wasn’t that good, but I also just picked it up from a random vendor instead of the famous place because the queue was crazy long and it was freezing outside. Julie said she liked it though…


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

the daily(ish)

I may have been on a first name basis with the owner of a pearl store in Shanghai…


I’ll miss you, Sara!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

the daily(ish)

If we lived somewhere really cold I would have totally bought one of these little hot water bottle muffs…


I borrowed this one from a hostess stationed outside at a Xiantiandi restaurant. Of course, I would get one with a panda.

Monday, December 26, 2011

the daily(ish)

I never got around to posting about our cooking classes in Shanghai.  Better late than never, huh?

Click the pic to read all about it…


Sunday, December 25, 2011

the daily(ish)


Wishing everyone near and far a very merry Christmas!  I hope Santa and his precious reindeer brought you everything on your list!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

the daily(ish)

Shanghai really has some incredible buildings.  Architecture in Asia is just insanely modern.  This was my favorite building…


Not the craziest design, but I just loved it!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

the daily(ish)

I think we were the last hotel in Shanghai to get a Christmas tree.  The night we came home and they were finally decorating the bare tree that had been up for 3 days I decided to help them out…


They didn’t really want my help and I didn’t really care.