Where We Went: Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra, India
First Moment Here: We were fully expecting so much crazy and sightly disappointed in just how normal this place feels. Okay, okay, I did see like more guys taking a piss along the side of a major 4 lane (with 5 lanes of traffic) highway than I did cows, which is saying something in India. And thankfully Nepal prepared us for all the honking. Just following my golden rule of “never look out the front of the vehicle” and keeping my blood pressure normal while en route.
Funniest Thing We Did: Try to understand a single word (mind you, they’re speaking English). It makes it all the worse!
Craziest Thing We Did: While driving we saw: pigs, goats, monkeys, dogs (unfortunately many dead on the roadside), antelope, cows, bulls, camels, buffalo and ELEPHANTS! I’m probably missing a few animals in there but you get the idea.
Best Thing We Did: On our sixth day here (in the third city we visited) came the grand finale, the Taj Mahal. We went early in the morning so there was great light. It was cool to see this “wonder of the world” with our own eyes.
One of my other favorite memories is when we were at a mosque (shoes off and everything) and these girls wanted a picture with me. I wanted a picture with them too. Lots of kids smiled and waved (and stared) at me throughout the trip. 10 time more than in any other place we’ve been.
Tastiest Thing We Did: Garlic Naan. And ALL the Indian food we ate.
Coolest thing we Learned: We learned a ton of history while we were here. Gandhi’s story was pretty incredible and hearing it while standing at his memorial was amazing, We also learned all about the previous rulers, the expanse of their empires and different people groups, religions and architecture.
Biggest Surprise: We had trouble communicating sometimes and found that the hotel reception wasn’t always the most helpful.
Mystery Solved: With Holi approaching, I noticed women on the sides of the streets selling these little brown dome frisbee shaped things (but smaller). I asked our guide and they are what I thought they are (manure) for lighting fires in their house (as all Hindus do) to celebrate Holi.
The roads are, of course, crazy. A few things we saw were tons of guys riding on tops of busses, a caravan of gypsies (no joke!), cows laying down in the middle of the highway, dogs running across the road making us slam on our brakes, people hauling all kinds of crazy loads that looked like they could tip the vehicle (in the loose sense of the word) at any moment, lots of tricycles and rickshaws, cars coming at you head on (on the wrong side of the road) for no reason, and people digging a hole in the middle of the street, shoeless, all while men, women and children successfully crossed the road.
Where We Went: Kathmandu, Nepal
First Moment Here: It started before we even landed. It was a little breezy making our airbus sway over the humungous mountains. It was the kind of landing where everyone applauded when we were on the ground. Yeah. I was one of four women on this full airbus, ya know, the plane with 9 seats across. And there was a guy taking pictures of me before we even got off the plane. I loved everyone saying “namaste” in the airport, hello. In the airport parking lot we saw, well heard first, then saw, a guy toting nine crates full of chicks (below). A few times, it looked like he was about to lose a box and I can’t even imagine what the scene would have been with 100 little peeps on the loose. On our drive to the hotel we saw three cows in the street, maybe they were bulls, not sure. All I can say is oh. my. god. And the honking, don’t even know how to describe it. Anyway, I can’t wait to fall in love with Nepal.
Funniest Thing We Did: One morning while at breakfast in the hotel, the waiter asked, “How was your sleep?” but we thought he said, “How was your trip?" (we had just gotten back from a scenic everest flight) so we replied, “Cloudy, very cloudy.” He gave us a strange look so we continued on, “Very sad” since we were disappointed that we didn't see the Himalayas and Mt. Everest. We haven’t stopped laughing about this interaction since. And we see the guy like every day.
Craziest Thing We Did: We visited a holy temple where every Hindu must come once in their life. Outside they cremate about 35 bodies per day and send the ashes down the river which meets the ganges. People are in the river looking for gold that comes from the gold teeth of the deceased. As we’re watching recently deceased have their feet washed before being cremated there is a monkey eating an orange popsicle right behind us. This is a random and crazy place.
Best Thing We Did: We had hoped it would be the scenic mountain flight over Everest but sadly the clouds lifted over the mountains rather than letting the peaks break through. So, instead, it was the sum of the interactions we had with all the amazing Nepalese people we met. We also saw an awesome band play live one night. The guy had such an amazing voice and I’ve never seen such a good electric guitarist. Amazing.
Tastiest Thing We Did: Milk Tea! And the typical nepalese meal. Had it a handful of times and it never disappointed. The presentation is probably one of my favorite parts of it.
Dumbest Thing We Did: Drink liquor, not beer. Even though we were ordering name brand off the menu, it was a far cry from what we are used to and we got the worst hangover ever. Nothing like being hungover in Nepal. Ughhhhh.
Coolest thing we Learned: Nepal is the one of least developed country in the world with the only 15 minute increment time change and NON rectangular flag. Kathmandu is about 100 miles from Everest. The 1,500 mile long Himalayas including Everest are formed by collision of the Indian Subcontinent and Eurasia. The Indian plate is still moving 2 inches per year so Everest is actually getting taller! They speak 92 languages here and 15 of their provinces aren’t connected to the others by year round road access. We learned SO much here, I could go on and on.
Biggest Surprise: Everest beer cost $4.50 (pint and a half bottle).
Mystery Solved: This thing out in front of our hotel (and other hotels) is some kind of machine with “current” as the man out front explained. I asked, “electricity?”. He nodded yes.
Where We Went: Moalboal (Cebu Island), Dumaguete (Negros Island) + Manila, Philippines
First Moment Here: The 3:45 ride from Cebu airport to Turtle Island Dive Resort covered on 45 miles. So, needless to say, it was slow, windy and a bit nauseating at times. The last mile or two of off-roading on dirt roads barely phased us but had Randy and Nicole (friends from Atlanta meeting us there) researching other properties for our stay.
Funniest Thing We Did: When we booked our last AirAsia flight of the trip we figured we better get a meal. Somehow we ended up with FIVE between the two of us. When the flight attendant dropped them off, he said, “Enjoy your buffet”.
Best Thing We Did: We took a vacation this week and stayed at two gorgeous dive resorts. We never had to think about where our next meal was coming from or arrange transportation (via tricycle) to dinner or diving. We got to spend six nights in three locations with Randy and Nicole. It was amazing being around friends, diving and enjoying the Philippines.
Tastiest Thing We Did: The food at Atmosphere Resort was all amazing but getting to enjoy a green salad with seared tuna was a highlight. I think I ordered a salad every day!
Dumbest Thing We Did: Randy and Adam ate hamburgers at Turtle Bay and lived to regret it.
Coolest thing we Learned: A marine biologist did a presentation on the underwater world in the Philippines and we learned a bunch of fun facts. Frogfish are the best! We also went diving with a guy named Julian who had an amazing underwater camera and shared his photos with us. These were taken on our dive!
Where We Went: El Nido, Palawan Island, Philippines
First Moment Here: After 13 hours of travel (Bali-Singapore-Manila) we stayed a quick night in Manila before grabbing a flight to our final destination, El Nido. There was a ton of security at the airport (metal detectors + sniffing dogs) but it seemed normal to them. Our flight to El Nido was a little interesting as we were back on a propeller plane and this time, seated backwards. Upon arriving at the open air tiny airport there were women singing a welcome song with a guy on guitar.
Funniest Thing We Did: Chilean with some chileans.
Craziest Thing We Did: No taxis here, instead they drive motorbikes turned into three seaters by making them into tricycles. We had to wait a while for our tricycle since there was a plane taking off and the road crosses the runway. Lol. Then we had a 15 minute ride which was a little unnerving at times and about a mile walk in the heat of the day with our backpacks on to arrive at our hotel. This was the first time Adam used his backpack (2nd time for Chelsea) and it was good to have them since we were walking on dirt roads.
Best Thing We Did: We dove three times here in El Nido. Saw tons of turtles, razor fish, a ribbon tail blue spotted ray, several lion fish, clown fish, puffer fish, really colorful box fish, tons of trigger fish, an eel, really cool schools of fish over cabbage coral, tons of nudibranch and a HUGE bump head parrot fish. The dive master was all ours and these were some of the most relaxing (and longest) dives we’ve been on!
Tastiest Thing We Did: Lunch during our island hopping tour. Kind of crazy that the best meal we’ve had was cooked on the back of a boat. Shrimp, octopus, mussels, grilled fish, pork, salad and the sweetest pineapple I’ve ever had. Plus yellow watermelon, bananas and a few other local specialties. They carried it on their heads from the boat to the beach.
Dumbest Thing We Did: Wait to book our hotel and end up with a one star hotel for $75 a night (super STEEP for this part of the world).
Coolest thing we Learned: The Philippine language shares about 20% of their words with Spanish. El Nido or “the nest” is the name of the town we’re staying in and we hear people using Spanish words for fork, spoon, knife, etc. and counting in Spanish. This is because Magellan conquered the Philippines. Also, the population is about 100 million with another 10 million people living and working in other countries.
Biggest Surprise: How hard it is to use our local SIM card/data and wi-fi. It’s pretty accepted that no one has access to the internet.
Mystery Solved: Though it sounded like it, there was not actually a cat on our SCUBA boat.
-Chelsea was SUPER sick again. Pretty sure I brought it with me from Indonesia.