Diane and Alex
Diane grew up a farm-girl and Alex was born and bred a city-boy, but we have spent our lives together in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia. We met while working at the same restaurant at a popular ski resort, got married on the border with Alaska, moved to Vancouver Island and now base ourselves in Northern BC. After 25 years together, we are 50ish travel bloggers, trying to see and share as much of the world as we can.
The Best Laid Plans
As we camped through the Yukon and Alaska on our honeymoon, we decided our life together should include plenty of adventure and romance. And what could be more adventurous and romantic than traveling around the world? We decided right then and there we would do just that.
A year later, long before smart phones and travel bloggers, we had scrimped and saved enough money to buy two round-the-world tickets, a couple of backpacks and six months’ worth of traveler’s checks.
Hitting The Road
We left our tenants in charge of our three cats and condo, and set off backpacking around the world.
Southeast Asia was the perfect jumping off point for two newbie backpackers. The first order of business was to find a beach where we could decompress and wrap our heads around the upcoming year. With a bungalow on the beach and the ocean lapping at our doorstep, Tioman Island was just the place.
Into The Fray
A month in Malaysia was magic. But, after a month beach-hopping in southern Thailand, we became a little … bored. What? After less than two months! How could this be? Too much romance and not enough adventure. As much as we loved lounging on the beach and discovering delicious foods, we needed more.
Before all this, we had taken a couple of vacations to Hawaii. While staying at a friend’s condo, we decided to try the snorkeling gear we found in a closet. WOW! We had no idea how amazing and beautiful the underwater world is and explored as many along the Kohala Coast as we could.
Our Southeast Asia guidebook suggested Koh Tao was the cheapest place to learn to scuba dive, so off we went. After two weeks of diving and studying every day, we were Rescue Divers. It was a rewarding and life-changing experience, and we had found a new passion. Every vacation we’ve ever taken since our round-the-world trips has been all about the diving.
Eventually we left the southern beaches for the rivers and jungles. We spent three more months exploring the Buddhist temples and Khmer ruins of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
Subcontinental Homesick Blues
So, we headed to Nepal for a month-long trek around and into the Annapurna range. This will always be a highlight of our travels. With its breathtaking scenery, fascinating culture and welcoming locals, returning to Nepal remains on our bucket list of travel destinations.
Halfway through our trip, thinking we were well on our way to becoming seasoned backpackers, we landed in India. We were wrong. Independent travel through the subcontinent is nothing if not humbling! India is a world unto itself and definitely not for the faint of heart. A healthy dose of patience, fortitude and perseverance is required.
Istanbul to Cairo
After the heat, hustle and hassle of India, our plane landed at the edge of Europe in the middle of the night. For the next three months we made our way from Istanbul to Cairo. Turkey was a welcome change after India – reasonably well-developed, clean and friendly.
Even prior to 9/11, western media reports about Syria and the Middle East were less than favorable. So, with some trepidation and misgivings we found ourselves at the Turkey-Syrian border. If there was one place that made us aware of the unfounded prejudices, it was Syria. We are grateful for the opportunity to visit such a special country before the start of the ongoing conflict.
The ancient city of Petra, starry nights under the desert sky, and the sights around Amman greeted us in Jordan. “Hello, pleased to meet me!” invited us into every Dahab shop, restaurant and dive center. But, as we learned, “Canada Dry never buy”. Soon, we found ourselves immersed in the depths of the Red Sea. We could have stayed longer, but Egypt has so much more than diving to offer.
Morocco was the last stop. We visited as many Imperial Cities and desert towns as we could, tried crossing the Tizi-n-Test Pass and ended up stranded in Ouarzazate (where’s it at?). So, we turned around and headed home.
Get Back Truckin’ On
We returned home and immediately started planning the next trip. We spent another year and a half working, skiing and biking, then found another set of tenants to look after the cats and condo.
This time we circumnavigated the globe in an easterly direction. We started our first trip about a degree north of the equator in Singapore, and we started our second one about a degree south of it.
We landed in Quito, Ecuador on April 1. When we woke up the next morning we thought it must be an April Fool’s joke – surely it’s not snowing! Ash from active Mt. Reventador was dusting the city. We escaped across the equator, then spent the next month working our way south to the border of Peru.
South America was unforgettable – Peru’s Machu Picchu, Colombia’s Amazon Basin, Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, Argentina’s Iguazu Falls and Carnaval in Brazil kept us busy and on the move. Five months of romance and adventure and still more to come as we made our way across the Atlantic.
Under African Skies
The Dark Continent was another exotic blend of cultures and traditions, along with thrilling close up encounters with the continent’s “Big Five” (or six if you count Great White Sharks!). Adrift in a cargo dhow off Tanzania’s coast, diving in Malawi, kayaking on the Zambezi in Zambia, surfing in South Africa, and Africa’s natural beauty only fueled our excitement for travel.
Despite this, believe it or not, we were once again complaining of boredom! It’s not that we were really bored, but South Africa is extremely well set up for backpacking, and traveling there was relatively easy and relaxing. We were ready for somewhere a bit more challenging.
A Slow Boat Through China
Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it – and did we! China is one of the most challenging places we have visited. Fascinating, frustrating and foreign. A country so vast it’s impossible to see it all in one trip. Diane almost suffered another near breakdown when she saw the condition of the sleeper bus in Guilin on which we were to spend the following thirty hours, but we survived.
Buses through Guangxi and Yunnan, flights in and out of Tibet, boats down the Three Gorges, and trains to Xian, Beijing, Shanghai and back to Hong Kong, China is the only country where we have taken every form of long distance transportation.
We found an empty beach on Lantau Island in Hong Kong on which to decompress during our last two weeks before returning home.
Our first flight on our first trip was from Vancouver to Hong Kong, and our last flight on this trip retraced its path. In a sense we had come full circle for a fitting end. And we landed before we left.
Throughout our travels, we came up with lots of ideas on . We also kept journals and emailed updates to our friends and family, and in a sense have always been travel bloggers. Many of our blog posts focus on the theme of , and are based on these journals, updates and ideas.
Back in Canada once again, our priorities and outlook had changed – funny how travel does that. So, we decided to follow through with a plan we hatched in South Africa – buy and operate a guesthouse. We could still be part of the travel lifestyle and host travelers to our part of the world.
As aspiring travel bloggers, we had a great time welcoming and sharing stories with visitors at our guesthouse on Vancouver Island. But after several years, mountain life came calling again and we bought a property farther north – lots of space, a small house with a large garden, biking and skiing trails out our back door, and a stunning view of the mountains across the valley.
We started our travels with three cats, and sadly lost one during each of our round-the-world trips.
Recently, we ran out of cats as our long-time friend, Fire, left us after nearly twenty years, also leaving us bereft and longing for animal companionship, and some new adventures and romance.
The travel bug’s been itching for a while, so we packed everything we own into a storage unit, rented out our house and hit the road. We are currently house and pet sitting our way around the world. So far we’ve been focusing on the Pacific Ocean, with housesits on the Baja, Vancouver Island, the Great Barrier Reef and a beach in Costa Rica.