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2012 has been a fun-filled year for Kelly and me, even more so because of all the visitors we’ve had to Austin in recent months.  I absolutely love when we are able to re-connect with people from our trip – it just reinforces that the short, yet intense bond you shared at one point doesn’t change over time or despite the distance between you.

Kelly and I met Marianne in Argentina towards the beginning of our travels and were able to meet up with her again in Australia.  After graduating from medical school in Norway, she had some vacation time and decided to come to Texas.   We had a blast taking her around the town, drinking, dancing, and stuffing her face with Tex Mex.   Her timing couldn’t have been better since she was here for Kelly’s 30th birthday ‘Party Like It’s 1982 – Electric Boogaloo’ shindig.

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Breakin

Us and Marianne!

Us and Marianne!

We were also proud to talk Marianne into doing her first ever keg stand and she reminded us that she is still the caipiroska making queen – just as she was several years ago at the Blue Parrott in Sydney.

Luke the Aussie visited us not long before Marianne.  He stopped in Austin for a couple of weeks on his way down to travel extensively in Mexico and Central America.  I had visited Luke 8 months before in Melbourne, so I was thrilled to get to spend more time with him.  Besides the usual Austin haunts, we were also able to check out a couple of Austin staples that I had not yet experienced for myself – Hamilton Pool (absolutely stunning) and Chicken Shit Bingo.  In case you were wondering, it’s exactly what it sounds like.  You pick a number and if the chicken shits on your number, you win the prize.  That’s right, ya’ll.

Luke and me at Hamilton Pool

Luke and me at Hamilton Pool

Since I had Luke for a couple of weeks, we took a 4-day detour to New Orleans for Jazz Fest with my usual crew and our lovely local hosts Carol and Lionel.  We visited our favorite bars, restaurants, got pretty inebriated everyday and danced our asses off at the festival.  New Orleans is always a good time and I loved getting to experience it with Luke.  I was sad to see him go.

Pigging out at Jazzfest

Pigging out at Jazzfest

Kelly, Seth and I met Ed from London in Turkey on the bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia and hung out for a day or two while we were there.  Ed works for BP and just happened to be in Houston for a week for work and decided to make a weekend trip up to Austin.  Kelly took him out on the town one night and I spent his last afternoon with him driving him around the city, checked out Mount Bonnell, and had a drink on the lake at the Oasis.  Turns out Ed is still up to all kinds of travel adventures.   Check it out here: www.dromomaniacs.com

Having a drink at the Oasis

Having a drink at the Oasis

Kelly and I also hosted some new travelling friends – Stella from Australia and Courtlen from Canada.  Stella is a friend of Kelly’s roommate and had spent some time working in Canada.  She came to spend Austin in Halloween and we almost lost her to a band of gypsies and guy on a donkey.

Golden Girls, Ellen and Portia, and Boy George (aka Stella)

Golden Girls, Ellen and Portia, and Boy George (aka Stella)

Courtlen is a friend of Luke the Aussie’s – they met while working at a hostel together in Nicaragua – and I put him up for the weekend during Fun Fun Fun Fest.  Courtlen is probably the most hardcore traveler I’ve ever met.  He’s hitchhiked across Mexico and Central America (hell, he even hitchhiked to Austin in a farmer’s PLANE) and spent 6 months living in a favela in Rio de Janeiro.

kickin it at FFF

kickin it at FFF

And lastly, Thiago, a Brazilian work colleague of mine that I met while travelling for work, decided to base himself out of Austin for a month.  I’m making sure he is getting his fair share of chips and queso and trying to see that he packs on the same ten pounds I did while I was in his country.  Payback’s a bitch buddy.

Thiago and the ladies at Tacky Xmas Sweater Party.

Thiago and the ladies at Tacky Xmas Sweater Party.

Happy New Year everyone – hope to see your face in Austin soon!

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I bet you thought we’d forgotten all about posting on this blog, huh?  Well, we haven’t…we’ve just been using this time to get settled and now that Kelly and I are both working full time jobs again (more on that later), hitting the gym on a regular basis, and spending time a lot of time with friends, our schedules are jam packed.  Ah, how we miss the days of lying on a beautiful beach for hours and hours and doing absolutely nothing!

I promise to update soon.  Really.

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Real Time Update

Big news!  I leave tomorrow to head back to the States, stopping for a few days in New York City on my way home to Texas.  After ten months and seventeen countries, this fantastic journey is coming to an end for me.  Kelly comes home shortly after another week in Spain.

Obviously, we are waaaaay behind on the blog.  Part of it has to do with us just being lazy, but mostly it’s because we’ve been trying to enjoy the rest of our time abroad and not spend too much time sitting in front of the computer.  However, seeing as I have no job when I get home, I’ll have plenty of free time to work on the site and get all our stories and photos posted. 

We can’t wait to share our adventures from Turkey (which we LOVED), Jordan, the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Spain, and Portugal.  I hope that you will keep reading about the rest of our travels and how we adjust to getting back to ‘the real world’.

Personally, I have very mixed emotions about coming home.  Of course I am excited beyond words to see my family, my friends, my boyfriend (who I haven’t seen in TEN fricken months), get back to Austin for some proper tex-mex and a margarita, and have my very own bathroom.   But…another part of me is extremely sad that this whole crazy journey is over.  It’s been a hell of a year, and  I’m interested to see how Kelly and I cope to getting back into a ‘normal’ routine and not being together 24/7.  I’ll be sure and let you know how it all goes down…Kelly will have her own post about her feelings on going home as well, so stay tuned for that.

On that note, I would like to say thank you to my sister.  Looking back, I can’t even begin to imagine doing this trip without her.  She’s been my compass (literally), my backpack guardian while I went to pee, my translator, my comic relief, my confidant, and my best friend for the past year.  Thanks for being your amazing self and chucking it all to live my dream with me…I love you!

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Thailand Wrap Up

Thailand is a pretty kick-ass country.  The fact that it is sooooo touristy did rub Kelly and me the wrong way from time to time, but hey…places are touristy for a reason, right?  Overall, we had a great time and of course, hope to make it back one day.

The Landscape

You’ve seen the pictures.  Awesome beaches, jungle, and mountains.

The People
Thais are so friendly!   Although at times, they kill you with kindness while ripping you off.   We did appreciate the fact that women are a bit more respected here; we were never harassed (unlike in Costa Rica and South America) and actually felt quite safe everywhere we went.   You can get by without being able to speak Thai, although the language barrier was definitely more of an issue for us here.

A popular stop on the ‘backpacker trail’, we met tourists from EVERYWHERE, but mainly a lot of young Brits traveling overseas for their first time.   Also, a ton of Canadians…it was great to meet up with the two Jeff’s and hang with them and their fellow countrymen. 

The Costs
Thailand is cheap, but not nearly as cheap as we’d thought it would be.   After breaking our budget in New Zealand and Australia, everyone told us ‘oh, don’t worry…in Thailand, you will get by on $10-$15 a day’. These people obviously did not travel here during high season.

While street food is dirt cheap, accommodation was still pricey in our opinion – $10 per person, per night for a room in a guesthouse.  For the full moon party, we paid $45 a night.   Northern Thailand is a lot cheaper and we paid roughly $5 per person, per night for our accommodation.   Bus transport was reasonably priced, but the buses were pretty ghetto.

The Food
FANTASTIC.   Spicy curries, greasy fried noodles and rice, tangy soups, yummy pad thai, tasty meat skewers, fresh seafood, fruit shakes (our favorite was watermelon)…the list goes on and on and we cannot say enough about how wonderful and cheap the food is Thailand. 

 A lot of U.S. travel health warnings urge travelers to ‘avoid street food’ for sanitary reasons, which is hilarious.   It’s convenient, cheap, and DELICIOUS!!!   After Hong Kong, it is definitely one of our favorite food cultures.

Of course, there are still plenty of McDonald’s if you need your comfort food fix.

The Booze
Beer. Our choice was Chang because it was the cheapest and tasted good, but a lot of people preferred Singha or Tiger.

Buckets. Ugh.  Most people’s bucket of choice is vodka and Redbull, but there is no way Kelly and I could stomach that disgusting mixture.   We went with the plain vodka/soda route which wasn’t much better because the club soda SUCKS here.

Other Random Thoughts
-There are a lot of squat toilets in Thailand.  Western ones exist as well, but instead of pushing a handle to flush, you fill a bucket of water, dump it in the toilet, and repeat this process until the force of the water has pushed everything through the pipes. 

-The Thais don’t use toilet paper; they have a water sprayer next to the toilet that you use to clean yourself, which we actually got quite used to and sort of prefer.  We liked to call it the ‘bum gun’.

-Riding in a tuk-tuk is fun!

-If you come to Thailand and plan on visiting any of the temples, bring a scarf or sarong.  Upon entering a Wat, your shoulders and legs must be covered.  Also, don’t point your feet towards an image of Buddha or he will be pissed. 

-Now, onto Laos!

 
 

 

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Just So You Know

Kelly and I are in Nepal and leaving tomorrow on a 12-day trek to Annapurna Base Camp through the Himalayan mountains.  This means no internet for the next two weeks, which in turn, means no new posts for awhile. 

We have more fun stories to tell though!  We’ll wrap up the rest of our time in Thailand and the couple of weeks we spent in Laos as soon as we get back.

Have a great two weeks!  We know we will…

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It’s hard to believe, but as of today, Kelly and I have been on the road for six months!   It seems like just yesterday we were saying goodbye to our friends and family and getting on that first plane…

We’re still having a blast and can’t believe how lucky we are to be doing this.  Right now we are in Laos, trying to mentally (and somewhat physically) prepare ourselves for our upcoming trek in Nepal.   Yes, we realize that we have a lot of catching up to do on the blog…thanks for being patient and we promise more posts soon!

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We Heart Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is considered by some to be the ‘Paris of South America’ and reminded us a lot of Barcelona and even New York. Sidewalk cafes, museums galore, amazing architecture, and bustling nightlife…whichever city you want to compare it to, Kelly and I absolutely loved our time here.

We crammed in a lot during our twelve days in Buenos Aires and attended the obligatory tango show, visited the MALBA art museum, Recoleta Cemetery and La Boca, strolled through the Japanese gardens, shopped at the San Telmo Feria, and had coffee and churros at the infamous Cafe Tortoni, all while gorging ourselves on steak, red wine, and pasta. The funny thing is that we barely scratched the surface and hope to make it back one day to see even more of this fantastic city.

Tango 101

Tango Show. The pics aren't the best because we couldn't use the flash.

Musicians at the Tango Show

Musicians at the Tango Show

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Cafe Tortoni

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Us at 1880, our favorite parilla

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Booth at the San Telmo Feria

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Enjoying a beer in Plaza Dorrego

More than anything though, Buenos was a nice opportunity to stay put in once place and feel like we were at ‘home’.  It felt good to unpack our things and be able to cook dinner and watch movies while drinking wine and lounging on the sofa.  We’ll miss our little apartment in San Telmo and having our own bedroom (despite the uncomfortable bed), our own kitchen, and our own bathroom, but we’re excited to move on and explore more of Argentina…

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