...19 Buses - 10 Flights - 7 Trains - 1 Road Trip !
3rd of May 2017, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
So... time flies when you're having fun! It's been 6 months today since we left from Poland and a bit over 6 months since we left our house in London and packed the boxes, which are resting (hopefully in peace!) at our lovely friends', George and Laura, houses (thanks guys!).
It's been a long journey so far - we visited 8 countries and are in our 9th now. Nepal, India and Sri Lanka were quite rushed as we had only 6 weeks to see as much as we could, but 6 weeks in Australia allowed us to catch up on things and reconsider our journey through South East Asia.
Once we got to SE Asia, things have been much better than at the beginning - we've had approximately a month to stay in each of the countries, we were used to Asian culture a bit more, plus travelling through SE Asia is so convenient in comparison to Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, that everything felt easy.
We also managed to kind of work out the work & travel balance with the work not bringing too much profit yet, but we're on a good path!
Since getting to Laos, we put effort in developing our commercial portfolio and managed to create some great short films (no, we're not narcissistic - we made some of our viewers cry so we treat it as a proof of our films being great haha!) and photographs for hotels, tour companies, bars and cafes.
On the way, we also tried to make an effort to meet and make friends with as many local people as possible - there is no better way of getting to know the country and the culture than hanging out with its people!
Our favourite part of each country has definitely been the people - there is nothing more exciting and nothing motivates us more to go ahead than inspiring people, who are just like us but living on the other side of the world.
And so it happened that we got a little souvenir from each country by accident! We decided at the beginning that we're buying absolutely nothing because we can't afford to carry it on our backs. But we were surprised by the people we met on the way - and now we have a little souvenir from each country, a gift that reminds us about the lovely people, who we were lucky to meet.
We gathered our favourite encounters & all the souvenirs from each country below.
If you want to read more about other adventures and places we visited, click on a country's name - it will take you to our other posts from the given country.
...was definitely one of our favourite countries so far. We cannot wait until we can go back there for longer. It was a special visit as well because we were lucky to hang out with Bichitra, Hanna's long-time friend, and his lovely family, wife Pramila and little son Prachit.
Our little trek in the mountains was stunning and we loved walking around the Durbar Squares and eating momos.
Once, when visiting a local momo bar, a friendly group of strangers were so grateful that we had come to their country, that they offered to pay for our momos! We didn't let them and tucked the notes into their hands, but we were very grateful for their welcoming attitude.
When the time to leave came, Pramila surprised Hanna with a beautiful lilac scarf that we still carry with ourselves!
...was a tough one because we had a problem dealing with 'indian stare' (yep, it's a real thing!) and the amount of men looking at us everywhere, in a not-so-friendly way. But luckily we came across Anita and Rajesh, who were like our parents for a couple of days when we stayed with them.
Taj Mahal was simply stunning and when we got to Chennai, our host, Arun, was so helpful!
By the time we got tired of the busy life of Indian streets, we met a wonderful couple - Anamika and Rama, who we hope to visit again one day. Their attitude to the world was so similar to ours and we can't thank the world enough for making our paths cross.
On our last night, Anamika and Rama gifted us with a pretty little pouch and a lucky pair of little feet for a good rest of our journey.
...was amazing not only because of it's beautiful landscapes but once again thanks to the awesome people.
Lynne and Elmo, who hosted us in Negombo, were a joy to be around!
In Colombo, one kind man helped us to find the bus station whilst we were being hassled by countless tuk tuk drivers.
In Sigirya, our little friend, Charmin, took us for a swim to the nearby lake and although the lake wasn't as we imagined, it was great to hang out with such a cool kid!
During a bike ride, we were chased by a family...who wanted to invite us in for tea and wood apple with sugar!
And in the end, a local craftsman created a little charm-keychain with an elephant and Hanna's name carved in it, adding to our little collection of unexpected gifts.
...was just a short stop-over before we got to Australia. We stayed there only for 3 days. We really liked the city and its amazing street food, high quality art galleries, air-conditioned walkways (never seen that in any other city before!) and cool graffitis all over the place.
Unfortunately we didn't have any encounters during these short 3 days and that's the only places that we didn't get the souvenir from but we have some lovely memories that we've taken from there with ourselves!
...was a place to catch up with all the family & friends, who haven't seen us for 1.5 years. We discovered some new places, cycled a lot around the seaside, visited Melbourne's CBD, spent a day in Geelong, did a road trip to Sydney and back, patted Zach's parents' lovely dogs, and took a lot of the photos of all the cute nieces, nephews and our friends' kids. Zach's parents spoiled us to bits and we had all the fun catching up with everyone.
We had many lovely encounters here, including the one, which was new - we discovered an amazing photo lab Hillvale, and did an interview with them, which is coming up soon on the website, and the guys surprised us with a few rolls of the precious negatives of their own production!
...surprised us with encounters of many amazing creatives.
Starting in Phuket, through Koh Phangan, to Bangkok, we really liked this country and learnt so much by making interviews with the artists we met along the way.
In Phuket, we discovered a cool hub - The Drawing Room, and got to meet and talk to its talented creator - Ids.
In Bangkok we met up with Ark Saroj, a super-talented photographer, filmmaker and creative director of Trasher party (which we think will be on the top of the things to do in Bangkok soon!). The interview with Ark and a video from Trasher is coming soon!
Ark was kind enough to invite us, and our friends visiting Bangkok back then, to the Trasher world - we don't think there is a more fun pop party on Earth!
We also got to hang out for an evening with Linda Charoenlab, a designer and founder of the colourful and wonderful brand Lalalove which makes the headlines of Thai magazines, such as Elle and Vogue.
Not only did we do a little shoot with Angelika from Apple Models but we also got to know from Linda herself, about the beginnings and struggles of Lalalove. We can't wait to share with you the interview with Linda soon!
And as our unspoken tradition continued - Ids surprised us with a beautiful drawing done by him, which we shipped to Zach's parents to keep it safe for us.
...was, like Nepal, one of our favourite countries. People were so lovely!
We had a chance to spend two weeks doing a Workaway experience, and part of it was teaching local staff English. We also ate the Lao food they prepared everyday and chatted as much as their English allowed.
Our favourite memory is from one of our last nights in Luang Prabang. We were walking down the street and stumbled across the locals having a party outside their house. They dragged us in and gave us so many beers that we couldn't keep up with drinking them! They were so friendly and we spent an evening drinking and dancing with them.
For goodbye, Nanta from Novelty Cafe, who we made a video and took photos for, gave us a little rubber duck, and the friendly staff from Thongbay surprised us with a little scarf.
Then, as we travelled through Southern Laos, we stopped for a night in Paksan. We bumped into a couple, who we spent the evening with, eating delicious duck by the Mekong River.
...was wonderful! We spent time in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. At the beginning of our stay in Siem Reap we met Miky, an owner of a tuk tuk bar (a video about Miky is coming soon!) and we also met a local couple, Phalita and Pancha, on holidays from Phnom Penh spending their weekend in Siem Reap.
Then, when riding on the scooter around the temples & Siem Reap, we stopped to have a soup from the stall by the main road. The group of Cambodians were downing their beers and they invited us over. Even though we didn't understand each other too much, they were so friendly and shared their beers with us!
When we got to Phnom Penh, Phalita and Pancha took us out, together with their lovely friends, to show us how they like spending their free time. We felt extremely lucky to join their friends' circle and not only did they drive us around but they and their friends wouldn't let us pay for our night out in Phnom Penh's Jet Container!
They also took us out the other day to try delicious goat meat and pho soup and as a thank you, we did a little photo shoot for them!
Besides all these lovely people and encounters, we also got to celebrate our birthdays whilst doing projects in Ring Boutique Hotel (Hanna's birthday) and House Jane (Zach's birthday). And just look how lovely Sophov and his wife surprised Hanna, and how Diane and Mieke surprised Zach...Aren't they amazing people?
And as always, this time we also got an unexpected gift - on a tour about Buddhism, that we were invited to, a monk gave us a blessing and a red string bracelet each.
- we just got here so let's see how the story unfolds! So far we spent a week in Phu Quoc island, where we did a film and photographs for Thanh Kieu Beach Resort, and a couple of days in Ho Chi Minh City.
As much as we have loved the last 6 months, we don't want to lie - we've had some struggles on the way!
Sometimes it wasn't easy.
Sometimes people were hassling us, the mosquitos were biting us without the end, and the bus rides were hot, sticky, bumpy and very long.
Sometimes we would get upset thinking whether our family and friends still remember about us as they don't reply to our messages, busy with their daily lives.
Sometimes, someone would be rude to us, and sometimes someone would lie to us about a price of a meal, ticket or room.
Sometimes our stomachs would hurt all day and sometimes we would be struggling to find the medicine we're looking for at the pharmacy where nobody speaks English.
Sometimes we would be annoyed with each other as all the work colleagues, best friends, beer buddies and travel buddies we've had, were only us two. Besides being a husband and a wife, we had to work out how to play all the other roles to keep each other sane.
All these struggles have been a part of the journey, but we would never change it for any other way! The amount of things we've learnt so far, the beautiful sights we've seen and all the amazing people we've met - these things are the prize for all the difficult times we've had!