Ten countries in three continents…
We can’t believe that we are already at the half way point of our 8.5 month trip around the world! We thought it would be fun to look back at what we have experienced so far.
Hotel: Metropolitan in Bangkok and Navutu Dreams in Siem Reap
Serviced flat: The Forest by Wangz in Singapore and Fraser Place in Istanbul
Independent flat: Adderley Terraces in Capetown, South Africa and Avemore in Stellenbosch, South Africa
Gym – hotel: Metropolitan in Bangkok
Gym – flat: Fraser Place in Istanbul
Hotel room view: Anantara Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai (runner up: Mweya Safari Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda)
Flat view: Fraser Place in Istanbul
Shower: Dhow Palace in Stonetown, Zanzibar – our room was on the top floor and there was a huge outdoor tub/shower
Airport lounge: Johannesburg, South Africa (runner up: Cape Town, South Africa)
Country for food: Thailand
Cocktail: Siamjito at Metropolitan Hotel, Bangkok (Thai whiskey, brown sugar, lemon grass, ginger and lime) (runner up: South African cosmopolitan at One and Only Hotel, Cape Town)
Experiences: The day we spent at Betty Kahima’s house in Uganda, which included learning how to make banana beer; meeting the elephants at Anantara in northern Thailand
Sights: Cambodia temples, Diversity Destroyed exhibits and related memorials in Berlin
Sunset: Stonetown, Zanzibar
View from an airplane: Arusha to Ndudu airstrip, Tanzania
Expensive city: Singapore (here are some of the costs in USD: Singapore sling $26, head of lettuce $3.99, chicken cold cuts $8.95, jar of peanut butter $4.90)
Longest layover: eight hours in Nairobi en route from South Africa to Switzerland (Nairobi is also our least favorite airport)
Crowded metro: Bangkok and Istanbul
Terrible drink: Phenom Pen Airport FCC Angkor bar – Ginger Rogers (gin, ginger ale, mint, sugar – it sounded great, but it tasted like the bartender dumped in an entire bag of sugar)
Terrible meal: spinach and pine nut salad at Mozza in the Marina Bay Sands Mall – imagine a salad swimming in a soup of super tart lemon dressing
Unusual airline safety videos: Bangkok Air (it was like a music video with singing and dancing) and Pegasus Air from Istanbul to Barcelona (kids dressed as a pilot and flight attendant delivered the safety briefing).
Unpleasant flight: Jetstar from Siem Reap to Singapore. Jetstar is a low cost airline, so the base fare is cheap but you have to pay extra for everything (the luggage fee was expensive). The flight was very loud (there were lots of small kids yelling) and someone had stinky gas. The flight connected in Phenom Pen: after a 30-minute flight everyone had to exit, get a transit pass, go through security again, wait 30 minutes and then board the same aircraft in the same seats. The only good thing was that no one was seated in our row so we had some more space.
Annoying airline pet peeve: You know how some airlines board on the tarmac on stairs at the front and back of the plane. When we boarded in Koh Samui, they did not direct people to the front or back based on row number; they randomly split people. We were in row 9 and tried to go to the front stairs but they made us board in the back. Inside, it was a giant mess with people squeezing past each other both ways to get to their seat.
Mishaps and Near Misses
Food poisoning in Cambodia: We got dysentery from a take away lunch. Lori got a mild case, but Michael had to spend the night in the hospital.
Boat transfer from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan: There are two piers in Koh Phangan and when you buy the transfer ticket at the airport, the fee is based on the destination pier. The captain dropped the entire group at the first pier and then refused to continue to the second pier. There was a small group who paid the extra amount, and after some strong words, the captain took us to the correct destination. But when we arrived, he pulled close to the beach instead of docking at the pier, so everyone had to jump into the water and throw down our luggage while trying to land in the sand instead of the water.
Nearly missed flight: En route from Koh Samui to Cambodia, we almost missed the connecting flight in Bangkok. The flight departed late from Koh Samui. Then, the signage at the airport was non-existent, so we (along with other travelers on the flight) had trouble finding the gate. Then we had to go through security again (which made no sense because we never left the gate area) and got stuck behind a large group that was moving very slow. The security staff decided to open our bags and look through everything. We asked the fellow traveler to advise the gate to hold the plane for us and literally ran super-fast through the airport to get to the gate, where they closed it right behind us and took off.