|From Jamie's Philippines Pics|
We have also had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places in China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Bali. We have archived all of our travels and living experiences abroad; and if you wish, you can read about our adventures by finding the archives on the right of this page and by checking our Photo Album.
We appreciate all of our family and friends who have stayed in touch and emailed us with encouraging words throughout the year. We hope you will continue to keep us in your thoughts as we continue our adventure of living abroad teaching at an international school. For those who have stumbled upon our site, check out the "About Eric and Jamie" section on the right for more information.
Thanks for checking us out!
- Mark Twain
- Maya Angelou
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Top 10 Lists after 15 months!!!
After our recent trip to the Vietnam, I thought I would post our Top 10 Places and Top 10 Experiences that we have seen. We have also created a Top 5 Most Disappointing Places/Experiences. Jamie and I both agree on these lists and have previously discussed and ranked them. You can search on our blog concerning these places as well as check out all of our Photo Albums on Picasa HERE. Hope you enjoy...
Top 10 Places:
1) Angkor Archeological Site, Cambodia - This was the #1 place we wanted to see when we found out we were moving to China, and it didn't disappoint. We spent 3 full days and an evening at these Hindu/Buddhist temples and each one was unique and special in its own way.
2) Great Wall of China - Everyone knows about it, most have seen pictures, and a few have had the pleasure of walking on this amazing human feat. We were able to go in the winter and the summer and each time was equally special for us. It is simply one of those jaw dropping moments in your life and certainly unforgettable.
3) Hong Kong - We have had the pleasure of going to this wonderful city several times because we are just a 40 minute ferry ride away. It has just about everything you can ask for in a city and is especially great for us as we find places to eat great western food and see English movies.
4) Coron Island, Palawan, Philippines - The beauty of this place was simply breathtaking. We spent 4 days here and the water and beaches were amazing. It is really paradise and we had entire beaches and islands to ourselves on some days. It is a bit difficult to get to, but definitely worth it.
5) Chiang Mai, Thailand – This walled city was perfect getaway for us after our not so wonderful visit in Bangkok (Bangkok has since grown on us). We stayed at the cleanest little guesthouse for only $5/night and were able to see a Muay Thai boxing match, zip line through the trees, and see the famous Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand. We only wish we had stayed longer in Chiang Mai. As a side note to this, we stopped by Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand, on the way to Chiang Mai and thoroughly enjoyed the ruins.
6) Hanoi and the Hill Tribes of Sapa, Vietnam – We found the city of Hanoi delightful. The food was great, and the Water Puppet Show was entertaining. The traffic with all the motorbikes leaves little to be desired, but it is still a great place to visit. Sapa is a sleepy little mountain town an overnight train ride from Hanoi. Despite battling kidney stones, we took hikes in the rice terraces led by the local H'mong hill tribe guides. Wonderful experience seeing the yellow rice terraces.
7) Terracotta Warriors, Xi’an, China – Certainly one of the highlights of visiting China is going to see the Terracotta Warriors if you have a chance. It is simply amazing what has been discovered there and still being discovered. Perfect day trip and the city of Xi’an has a lot to offer the traveler. I can see us finding our way back to Xi’an.
8) Boracay Island, Philippines - We were surprised at how much we enjoyed Boracay. We knew it would be touristy, but the beach is arguable the best in the world and the convenience of the restaurants along the beach was nice.
9) Karst Landscape of Yangshou, China - We were fortunate enough to take a river cruise along with my parents and niece to see the landscape up close as well as stay in the midst of the landscape in a little lodge outside the city. Perhaps the most memorable event of this trip was the hot air balloon ride over the landscape - stunning!
10) Tiananmen Square/Forbidden City, Beijing, China - The history behind these places and the sheer size of them are staggering. You can spend days in the Forbidden City. Again, we went here twice and was amazed each time.
Just outside Top 10 (in case you were wondering):
11) Macau - Macau is a Vegas like town about an hour ferry ride away from us. We have went there to see a Cirque de Soliel show and eat the world famous egg tarts at Sir Henry's. Macau has just been a great getaway for us this year.
Top 10 Experiences:
We listed these separately because they are bigger than just a visit to a particular place. These are truly experiences that are not necessarily good or bad but definitely important to our world view.
1) The Adventures of Seymore - This is fun. After buying Seymour at IKEA in Shenzhen, we've taken him on each of our trips to pose and take pictures. After each trip he gets a commemorative tattoo and he stands on our dining room table waiting for the next adventure. Loved by all who meet him (other tourists and local vendors love him), Seymour is our keepsake from every place we get to visit.
2) Killing Fields/Tuol Sleng S-21 Prison, Phnom Penh, Cambodia - It is difficult to describe this place and the fundamental horror that you feel by being in it (which is why we list this as an experience rather than a great place to go). Since most people don't know much about it the easiest way to help you understand is to say that it must be similar to visiting Aushwitz (which we haven't done so we are just assuming). Obviously not fun but it had a huge impact on us emotionally.
3) Living in Shekou, China - Definitely an experience. Western enough that we don't feel totally lost, but we still get the experience of living in China. What can we say? It's hot, humid, dirty, with good food, odd (to us) customs, and people who are quite polite but not necessarily friendly. TIC (This Is China) explains everything without explaining anything, i.e. kids peeing and pooping on the sidewalk with their split pants, odd ways of arranging work orders, Communist policies in action, and crazy driving.
4) United States of America - Ah, the good ole US of A. We are so enormously lucky to have been born US citizens and even luckier to get to see the rest of the world that increases our appreciation of our homeland. From freedoms to cleanliness, and of course the food, we enjoyed our trip home for the summer and were sad to leave our family and friends. We'll be returning next summer for another visit.
5) Teaching in an International School - Has certainly changed our view on teaching. It would be hard for me to go back to teaching in a public school in the states. Class sizes less than 15 and practically zero discipline problems. Students who genuinely want to learn and support from the parents. It has been challenging teaching English language learners, but we have learned so much about ESL and this knowledge will help us in future schools in which we teach. Long term, it will make Jamie and better future administrator and me a better college education teacher. We have written extensively about the teaching throughout the year. If you go back to the archives and start at August 2008, you'll get a basic idea.
6) Trying Kopi Luwak Coffee - We were able to try some in Bali at one of the coffee plantations. We only spent a few dollars for a cup, but this coffee is the most expensive in the world selling for as high as $38 in Australia and a blend at $99 in London. Certainly an experience to remember, but we won’t be buying any anywhere but Bali.
7) Seeing and playing with the Tarsier monkey - The smallest primate in the world, we'll remember these little guys because the worker let us get our picture made with them and hold them. Great pictures of us with them.
8) Traveling in Asia – Walking, Taxis (metered and not), Buses, Metros (subways or skytrains), Overnight Trains, Light Rail Cars, Trolleys, Begging for Rides, Motobikes, Tuk Tuks, Jeepneys, Bicycle, Large Commercial Airplanes, Private Leer Jet, Small Prop Planes, Motobikes with Sidecars, Horses (really just donkeys), Ferries, Small boats, Riverboats, Hot Air Balloons, Kayaks, Private Vans, Cable Cars, and Escalators that go all the way up a mountain. You simply find your way around. Whether you plan or not, it is still an adventure.
9) Bumrungrad Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand – Certainly an experience that we’ll never forget. I stayed here for 12 days when I had kidney stones and surgery. We took a private leer jet from Hanoi, Vietnam to Bangkok where they took care of me. The doctors, nurses, and facilities were simply top notch and it would be difficult to find a place in the US that could be better. Certainly a place I do not want to go back to, but something we’ll never forget.
10) Buying Cookbooks – Our souvenir from every country we have been is to purchase a cookbook. Whenever we get back to the US for good, Jamie can dig up all of her cooking utensils and kitchenware, and we can host our guests to some of the marvelous food we’ve been able to eat abroad. Sometimes hard to find, but we’ve managed to purchase one in every country so far.
Top 5 Most Disappointing Places/Experiences:
The following are things that we just weren’t wowed by. None of these were horrible experiences because they were all new and exciting at the time. However, they just didn’t live up to the hype.
1) Manila, Philippines – Dirty and incredibly difficult to get around. We will probably only go to the airport from now on.
2) Bali, Indonesia – In general, Bali just didn’t do it for us. Beaches were touristy and overpriced. We had one great day of traveling in the countryside, but other than that, it was a letdown.
3) Bangkok, Thailand – 1st couple of days only. We know actually enjoy Bangkok now, but those 1st 2 days were just annoying due to the constant hassle with tuk tuks and cab drivers and being lied to.
4) Kidney Stones – Hate the fact that I had to deal with them, but also hate the fact that we missed out on our last day of Hanoi, which was going to be spent drinking cobra blood wine.
5) Things We Miss – Family, Friends, Food, College Football in the Fall, Rome Braves games, golf, Jamie misses her job at Sonoraville, our kitchen table and all of our wonderful kitchen utensils, and finally, Cloey and Kitty.