I’m not a morning person, but this is worth waking up at 4:00 AM.
Westerners don’t often think about Cambodia as a must-see tourist destination. That’s really unfortunate.
My wife and I just spent the last three days in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which was our staging area to visit Angkor Wat along with many other temples in the region. The experience was perfect: few tourists, amazing amazing amazing temples, and a unique and friendly culture.
Go now. See this country the way it’s meant to be seen before it’s too late. The country is still unspoiled, but who knows what it will be like in another 5-10 years.
Here are some highlights from Cambodia.
Vietnam made us nervous.
Not because my wife and I thought we would be in danger or anything, but this was the first trip we ever took where we didn’t plan anything in advance, other than the plane tickets to enter and exit the country. As novice travelers, the prospect of a blank itinerary was a bit nerve wracking.
It turns out that we had nothing to worry about; moreover, I’m now convinced that traveling without an itinerary is actually the best way to travel.
Vietnam is the perfect country to visit without any plans. As a Western tourist, you can get by very comfortably here: decent hotels can be found for under $20 USD/night; meals are normally under $5 USD; transportation is cheap-ish (less than $100 per in-country flight); and Vietnamese people are quite friendly and helpful. We had no problems booking transportation and accommodations on the fly, mostly through the smart phone we brought along. We thought that last-minute planning would stress us out, but it actually allowed us to feel more freedom.
The two-and-a-half weeks we spent in Vietnam went by in snap. We started in Hanoi in the North and slowly made our way down to Saigon in the South. My wife and I saw some amazing stuff along the way.
Here are the highlights of our Vietnam trip.
Yes, I’m afraid that these are my awesome friends. And they are photographing an ice cream burrito.
Food Porn (noun). Definition: Gratuitous images of delicious food that make foodies swoon.
I hate this term, but I hear it all the time because all my friends are foodies. My Facebook news feed is a complete disaster, where I hardly see actual pictures of my friends any more but instead high-depth photos of what they are eating (and increasingly, baby pics — urgh).
To make matters worse, I am guilty of being a food pornographer myself. I can’t resist sharing a good steak picture whenever the opportunity presents itself.
I didn’t have any specific expectations of Taiwan before spending a week here with my wife and several awesome friends. I was pleased to discover that the country is really beautiful, with incredible natural geography, hot springs, and villages. Taiwanese people are also really nice, which was a pleasant contrast to the somewhat cold treatment I felt in mainland China.
But the food in Taiwan—holy crap, it’s good. And cheap. And good. For less than $5 USD, you can eat like a king in this country.
I’m going to do something now that I never expected to do on this blog, which is dedicate an entire post just to food.
If you’re a food lover with wanderlust, I highly recommend taking a trip to Taiwan. We were here for a week, but we could have easily stayed longer.
Here are some highlights from our grand Taiwan food tour.
Jade master carver showing off his sweet jade ball.
China is weird. I can’t decide whether it’s a developing country or years ahead of the first world.
My wife and I didn’t spend too much time in China, we only got to visit two cities: Beijing and Shanghai. Both cities are so different that they could be separate nations.
Overall, I didn’t really enjoy China, but I do think that it’s a must-visit place. The nation offers a glimpse of a past history/culture that is incredibly rich, as well as a preview of what the future will look like for human civilization moving forward.
Here are a few highlights from China.
“Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got…” (says this baby Buddha from a temple in Daewon)
After an awesome week in Japan with friends, my wife and I hopped over to Korea to visit family. Most of our extended family lives in Korea today and it just so happened that the timing of our visit coincided with my wife’s grandmother’s 90th birthday.
Even with all the family stuff we were able to sneak in some quality sightseeing. We spent most our time in the southern part of the Korean peninsula, particularly Kwangju where my wife’s family lives.
Here are some highlights from Korea.
A picture of Mount Fuji, taken at about 81 mph. Very symmetrical, how Japanese!
Anthony Bourdain said it best: “Japan. Any excuse to visit will suffice.”
The first time I visited Japan was 2009. This was the first country that I’ve visited where I could see myself leaving the US to immerse myself in a new culture for several years.
The food. The geography. The people. The visitor to Japan will find all of these things utterly wonderful and bizarre.
After a fun few days in the Arctic Circle, my wife and I crossed the Pacific Ocean to kick off our 2.5 month Asia trip, starting with a week in Japan with some of our closest friends. We focused on traveling the Southern half of Japan, visiting many cool spots between Tokyo and Kagoshima.
Below are some of the highlights of our Japan trip.
I’m so glad I brought a decent camera. This is an unprocessed pic: F3.5, ISO 800, 30-second exposure
I’m writing from Whitehorse, Yukon Territories, Canada.
My wife and I recently decided to take a sabbatical from our Silicon Valley lives to focus on travel and new experiences for the rest of this year. For our first stop, we left sunny Northern California to travel North to the edge of the Arctic Circle in the Yukon Territories.
We’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights. And we saw them every night we were here (very lucky, it’s a crapshoot)! But what has been really surprising about Whitehorse is that there is so much to do even beyond just looking at the skies at night.
Here are some highlights from our trip:
This REI Vagabond Tour 40 Pack is all I need for the next 6 months.
For a long time I could stuff everything that I owned into three boxes. It was fantastic. I moved ten times during my early 20s, and each move was a breeze because it would take me about 30 minutes to completely pack up and get out of dodge. Not owning anything provided me remarkable freedom to travel and live anywhere I wanted.
But by the time I was in my late 20s, I started to buy stuff. I was newly married and wanted to set down some roots. Somehow my spending rose proportionally with my income growth. I soon became trapped by the junk I was collecting.
I started to buy nice stuff too. But instead of the nice stuff making me happier, it actually made me more anxious – like how I would internally shriek whenever someone would rest a glass of water directly onto my beautiful wooden coffee table (use a coaster, asshole!).
Owning nice stuff just freaked me out because I was always concerned about what would happen if something bad happened to it.
A few months before my startup was acquired, I created a list of things that I would buy with my newfound wealth. My list included some awesome stuff like: a Tesla Model S; upgraded bedroom set from Room&Board; 60-inch Samsung TV; and other crap – all things that I wanted at one point but couldn’t afford with my meager startup salary.
Then the acquisition went through and something funny happened: the moment I was able to afford all these fancy new items, I no longer wanted any of it. If a ding on my 2005 Honda Accord drives me nuts today, can you imagine what a paranoid freak I would be as a Tesla owner?
I didn’t want to buy new fear into my life.