Topic: Asia Trip
We have uploaded a number of long-lost photos from India so check them out if it interests you. They are from the beginning of our India trip and will be in the bottom section of the album. We have also loaded the rest of our New Zealand photos so check them out too.
I feel like we have not written very much about New Zealand and I don't want you to get the impression that it was uneventful. I think that the lack of words is because the culture and sights are not that different than ours. With that said, they have some amazing landscape that just makes your mouth drop open. As far as culture goes, both Marisa and I have remarked how we feel like outsiders sitting among other English speaking tourists and the Kiwis. They have so much in common with each other and chat away. The English, Scottish, Irish, Australians and the N-Zeds (the New Zealanders pronounce the letter Z as zed - don't ask me why) with their tea (meaning a small meal - it usually does not include tea) ; breaky (breakfast); pies (just like a Swanson pot-pie, but they sell them everywhere - especially in "tea houses" which by the way is not a place focused on tea) ; posties (cute short name for postmen, they have cute little names for everything) ; uni (short cute name for university) ; and of course the Queen and her dumb family. They even include the Canadians - must be the Queen thing.
Our cycling trip was a real highlight of our NZ experience. We rode about 50 miles a day, which is much shorter than this summer, but the distance felt right. Going unsupported and carrying our clothes has given us a new confidence and sense of freedom. So much so that we rented bikes for two days in Central Otego and did an overnight trip on the rail trail there.
As many of you know, I am a big Philadelphia Eagles fan so Superbowl Sunday (Monday at noon for us) was a big event on our itinerary. We were in Queenstown and found a bar that was having a party and showing the game. The night before we noticed that our waitress was American and started talking. She told us that her roommate was a huge Eagles fan and let us in on where to go to watch the game. As I was waiting outside the bar at 11:30 am waiting for it to open (yes, I was the first one there to get the best seat), I saw a jersey boy coming down the street in a homemade Eagles shirt like the one that I had on. I had written Eagles with a magic marker on my favorite, but grayed and frayed T-shirt. He had a big smile, a beer in one hand and a twelve pack under is arm and was ready for the game. Despite the outcome, we had a good time and it was fun to be among a group of fans, and fun to watch all of those Americans on TV -- being American the glitzy intro, the halftime show, and the players and fans with their celebrations.
After the game, the opportunity finally came my way. I have been talking about Bungy jumping for a long time and was boasting before the trip that I would do it in New Zealand. Well all of our time in NZ and we had not come up on a jump site. On our way out of town we stopped at the famous bridge where it all began to watch the jumpers.
Well I had to do it! Click here to see a bit of the jump
The jump was terrifying! More than I had imagined. I thought that I would be able to enjoy the jump by assuring myself that it was safe, that I had a rope tied to my feet that would catch me. I repeated it to myself, over and over to no benefit.
If you have ever had a dream where you drive off a cliff or fall out of a window, and have woken up to a terrifying panic then you know how I felt. Except that I was woken from my real dream by a wet cold sensation on my head as it was submerged in the cold river, a nose full of water and a disorienting-nauseating-spinning-swinging-will this ever end-I'm going to throw up-upside-down dangle. Then once back on land, I threw up. Hey, but I did it so check that one off.
Now that we are back on US soil, the trip being over, I need to put some thought into some final remarks. Perhaps answer the questions of how have I changed, what have I learned about the world and myself.
I told Marisa a few weeks ago that I think that my mid-life crisis is over. She was as happy and shocked as I was, but it is true. While I have many questions about what I will do with my career and how I will get wherever it is that I am going. I have a renewed interest in "my next big thing".
I left the US feeling cynical and negative. Having a government that I disagree with and that discriminates against you can start to get on your nerves after a while. Smile.
When we started our trip, I was ready to say that we were from Canada for fear of backlash from people and because I was ashamed of how our country is acting globally. Now I see the US for our good and bad. It is funny isn't it? Most people who come back from a trip like this would say something similar, but they would mean that they now see the wrongs we have done - being that they were in the mindset that we don't do wrong. I am just the opposite.
This trip has made me very patriotic. Don't worry DC gals, not in the "these colors don't run" kind of way. We have a lot to improve in our system and the way we practice government and politics but we have some great traditions and a good base system to start with. I ended the trip by telling people I was American and being proud of it. Proud enough to claim it for the good things and the bad things.
The other day I convinced Marisa to get out of the hot afternoon sun and go see a movie. The only thing showing was an overly patriotic firefighter film. While the movie was pointless, I enjoyed the Baltimore scenery and the African American characters. It reiterated the fact that we had not been around any black people for a long time. It occurred to me how unique their history is and how uniquely American they are. There are Asian immigrants in many places around the world (I realize that I am lumping them together) , and European people have migrated around the globe; these immigrants have a similar story to tell. Black Americans story of slavery is unique and special. While I'm sure that most black folk would rather not have that history. We saw many examples of black American culture making it's way into other societies. The Thai kids in Bangkok with their pants hanging low and hats turned sideways, the new fusion Indian rap songs are two examples. The movie made me miss them even more. I also miss Latino people; the Mexican, Central American culture and food that are so much a part of American life. These people make me proud to be American.
Before this trip my view of the world was very narrow, though I did not know it, nor would I admit it. While talking to people who had traveled and hearing them say "you have to travel to really understand", I would nod my head in agreement but inside think them to be arrogant. "Why couldn't I understand? I am open-minded and smart." But now I understand what they meant. A change in geography does give you a different view. Now I have seen two sides of the world. Unfortunately, I still in the dark because the world has many more than two sides.
Marisa and I have discussed several times how different our experiences, comments and feelings would have been had we done the trip in a any other order. How differently we would have handled India. WOW! If we were off to India now you would gave a much different impression from us. As we look back at India now we look with high regard. While you may not have been able to tell, we loved the time we spent there and want to return someday to see other parts of that large country. I have a new appreciation for the amazing temples and historical forts that we saw there. The really are some of the most beautiful treasures in the world.
This trip has given me a new love for world travel and adventure, and I know that I want to make it part of my life. With this said, right now I feel a strong draw pulling me toward couch travel, adventure coffee shops, supermarket trekking, family visit safari and extreme web surfing.
Our trip: 144 days
Northern India, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand
Our transportation: horses, elephants, camels, scooters, motorbikes, motorcycles, cycles, sailing boats, junk boats, long-tail boats, speed boats, basket canoes, sea kayaks, moto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, the back of a pickup truck, buses, trains, planes.
Thanks for reading our Blog, adding your comments and sending us E-mail. We spent many hours in Internet cafes writing and hoping for feedback. We will leave this site up for a few more months and may choose to write a boring entry about our job and home search. Yawn.
I think Marisa will be writing in the next week about her final feelings, so come back soon!
Please email us at the addresses at the bottom of http://marisaandmolly.tripod.com to let us know what you are up to and how we can reach you.