Our Travelationship in Review: December 2015

By: Heather

Travelationship Review

What a difference a month makes!

December started and ended in stark contrast to November. We had the internet, great food, beautiful weather, cheaper expenses, familiarity, less stress and a slower schedule. We spent the beginning of the month figuring out how to make our days better and put what we learned to use for the rest of the month.

We loved Bangkok! Neither of us had been before, but it still felt so natural. There was a perfect mix of familiarity and new to keep us interested and comfortable. Bangkok should be on everyone’s list of places to visit.

A few art spaces in Bangkok and walking the gritty streets got our creativity flowing and put us back on track to feeling inspired and ready to go.

Kathmandu, one of our favorite galleries in Bangkok.

Kathmandu, one of our favorite galleries in Bangkok.

Vietnam has been a different type of travel for us. We both have family & friends who served in the Vietnam/American war. A few are still dealing with PTSD and have concerns or certain feelings about us being in Vietnam. As we move through the country, we want to make sure to learn and reflect what we learn in a more conscious and respectful way.

The Infamous Hanoi Hilton.

The Infamous Hanoi Hilton.

Most of all, we scrutinized where and when we went wrong in November. In hindsight, it all seemed so obvious, but now we have a better understanding of how/when to recognize signs from each other and what to do before it becomes too much.

Also, we wanted to clarify our stress and issues in November didn’t happen just because we were in Ethiopia. We happened to be in Ethiopia when all our stress from several months compounded enough to cause us to meltdown. Ethiopia (nor Africa, for that matter) was our downfall. We hope to return soon to finish the Africa leg of our trip.

The Stops

Thailand: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Sai, Chiang Saen, Bangkok

Laos: Sibouheyang

Vietnam: Hanoi, Cat Ba Island

The Great

Thai food and massages. If we lived in Thailand, we would be the most relaxed and well-fed personas of us.

Speaking of food, the food in Vietnam is delish too.

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We got our teeth cleaned by a professional dentist in Chiang Mai. Just because we are traveling doesn’t mean we should neglect our health.

Chasing sunsets on rooftop bars in Bangkok. Even with the smog the city lights and the glowing sun cast a magic over the city.

Bangkok can be quite peaceful from over 50 stories in the air.

Bangkok can be quite peacful from over 50 stories in the air.

The Force Awakens movie premiere in Bangkok. The movie theater went all out with dressed up characters and movie props on display. It was a pretty fun night.

Working, reliable internet. We have been able to stress less just knowing we don’t have to spend time chasing ways to plug in. We have been able to catch up a bit that has led to less stress…such a wonderful little circle of spinning round and round.

Skyping with Matt’s folks and getting to see Hobee (our dog) curled up sleeping in his bundle of blankets. Soma (our cat), well she is a cat, so we don’t expect much cooperation.

In the noise and the frenzy of Hanoi finding moments of joy and beauty that transport you away from the chaos.

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Thank you to Sanne with Mitzie Mee City Guides for chasing sunsets, rooftop bars and street food with us in Bangkok. And thank you Sanit at Naga Café  for making us feel so at home. We look forward to seeing you both again soon.
Thank you to the wonderful Indonesian family we met on the overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. They gave us samples of all their snacks and fruit.

Heather, Sanit and Matt at Naga Cafe.

Heather, Sanit and Matt at Naga Cafe.

The Not So Great

Dropping our Sony RX100 III camera on the hard, unforgiving tiles at the toes of the tallest Buddha, Wat Intharawihan, in Bangkok. We are now down to 1 camera and two phones.

The last picture the Sony took :(

The last picture the Sony took 🙁

We received fraud alerts on 2 of our credit cards – again! Mine (which has a chip) I am convinced was skimmed at the airport when we flew Vietjet from Bangkok to Hanoi. Matt’s (does not have a chip) we are not sure when the information was stolen but think it may have been in one of our hotel rooms. This time, we don’t have anyone coming to meet us in the near future, and we don’t know where we will be in a few weeks time. Not sure how or when we will get our cameras or our new cards. Anyone from U.S. traveling to Asia anytime soon?

Crossing the street and all the honking in Hanoi. We liked Hanoi, but that place is noisy, even after the midnight curfew. And crossing the street was so incredibly stressful.

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Rain on Christmas. We were pretty excited to see the full moon on Christmas, but the weather was cloudy and drizzly in Cat Ba, Vietnam.

The turtle lady located in the front of the Chua Tran Quoc pagoda in Hanoi. Not only was she selling turtles of all sizes the largest one had a hole pierced in its shell and a string tying it in place.

The evil turtle lady.

The evil turtle lady.

The animal rescue cages located in the Cat Ba National Park were disheartening. The monkeys nor the bird housed in the cages had water. The monkey cages had not been cleaned for days that was evident by the littering of trash and poo in the cages. We asked at the ticket counter, and the employee assured us the animals were well taken care of by a doctor twice a day. We hope he was truthful and would love to hear from anyone who has seen the cages.

A sad set of monkey cages in Cat Ba National Park.

A sad set of monkey cages in Cat Ba National Park.

Getting scammed by the fruit ladies in Hanoi. The women approach you innocently offering for you to try holding their fruit on your shoulders only to be charged after the fact. We fell for it.

The fruit ladies got us.

The fruit ladies got us.

Downton Abbey is over forever. Europe did you watch the last episode? U.S. brace yourselves for the last season.

The Oops!, WTF?, LOLs – Lessons learned, head scratchers & hilarities
Oops! Let’s not do that again lessons

Time helped us re-evaluate our November issues, and we came away with a few new lessons.
When we are traveling in places with highly emotional triggers (poverty, human and/or animal abuse, inequality, etc.), we need to give ourselves time to process our experiences. We saw heart-wrenching struggles day in and day out thinking we had a handle on our emotions and our thoughts. Instead, we found we didn’t have our emotions under control at all. Now we know we can’t keep moving on to the next place or activity without letting all our senses or emotions process properly.

We are both seasoned and realistic travelers and thought we were prepared and equipped to handle whatever we came across…but at times, different things hit people in different ways. We learned it was ok to have variances on how and what things may or may not affect us. Our goal is to approach each situation with respect and kindness.

We can’t save everyone or everything all the time. This one is hard for us, and we expect to make more mistakes.

Communication is key. Listening and discussing with each other when things are tough for one or both of us. Not hoarding our discomforts because we don’t want to cause issues with the other. Had we communicated better not only with each other but with ourselves we would have been able to handle the levels of stress in a more productive manner.

WTF? Did that really just happen?

FaceTime or Skype in a private room or a more secluded area. No one wants to hear one side of most phone/computer conversations, so we sure as heck don’t want to hear both sides. A few times now we have heard conversations that should not be happening in public spaces, especially when kids are present. Use common sense people.

When traveling in other countries, PLEASE be respectful of their rules and customs. We lost count of how many times we saw inappropriately dressed men and women enter temples in Thailand and Vietnam. We also saw people not take off their shoes and sit, crawl and walk on temple walls, which were off limits. The worst was the guy who rudely made a monk stop reading his book, moved him to a different location and posed him for a picture. He didn’t ask to take the monks photo nor did he thank the monk after.

A young 20 something-year-old female jumped the fence at the Temple of Literature to sit on and rub the heads of the ancient and treasured Stelae of Doctors. Signs are posted everywhere not to touch the stelae, and the fence alone is a huge sign not to enter. On top of the fact, these are historical relics – WTF?! I wanted to punch her in the face when she came back over the fence.

I am not sure what it was about Thailand and Vietnam, but we experienced more rude or idiotic travelers in these two countries than anywhere else in all our travels. I had such a long list of WTF moments I had to erase them and stop because it was making me so mad.

I have started to take photos of horrible tourists and am looking for a website that features idiot travelers. Know of any?

LOLs our laugh out loud hilarious moments

Late in November, we were looking for ways to perk our spirits. We found laughing at our funny photos lifted our spirits. We have now decided to create a regular photo feature of our photo outtakes.

Kong from the Cat Ba Central Hostel had us smiling for days. Every time we saw him, he would serenade us with the latest popular country song. If you are ever in Cat Ba, Vietnam stop by and meet Kong.

Kimojis! Yes, we admit it we saw all of them and were laughing out loud. No, we did not buy them, but we wouldn’t mind getting some Star Wars emojis!

The Posts
The Collaborations, Interviews, and Features

Couples Who Travel and Blog series at Travelettes.net

13 Iceland Highlights from Travel Bloggers at BreatheWithUs.com

Postcard From…Rwanda at Emily Luxton Travels

Gifts for the Gen X Traveler in Your Life at Gen X Traveler

Our Ears and Eyes
Heather

Twilight over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess” by Inge Sargent
I’ve been a podcast nut this month. My two new favorites are “Sounds of the Trail and “Serial Season 2.

Matt

Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith – A Cormoran Strike book.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” – Predictable but hilarious.

Up Next

We are currently in Vietnam. Pretty sure we will use up our full 30-day visa before moving on to…?

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Have any suggestions on where we should go next? Let us know in the comments!

Comments 3

  1. Pingback: Our Travelationship in Review: January 2016 - Travelationship

  2. Heard Cambodia is nice. My sister-in-law (Art’s sister) and her husband will be traveling there this month. Love all your blogs and photos you have taken. I’m sure there are more photos to post. Can’t wait to see you guys at the end of your travels and just talk about the places you’ve been, the people you’ve met and how you felt about this entire experience. I hope you two plan to write a book after this. Be safe always. Miss you both.

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