Asia Year in Review

Oct 17, 2015 - ourglobaltrek

We always knew we would write a wrap-up post as a tribute to completing our Asia year. Now that it’s time, however, it’s much harder than we ever thought. How do we even begin to go about capturing it all? For a year in which every single day was an adventure in and of itself, it seems impossible to describe the whole thing in a few words. 

For every country we’ve visited during our Asia year, we wrote final reflections, thoughts, and take-aways from that particular country. Four months into the trip, we chose our “Best of 2014,” though that was only a third of the whole thing. We celebrated 365 days on the road sharing some wisdom we’ve gained along the way. These posts we would consider some of the most challenging, having to distill mass amounts of information into concise, thoughtful morsels. Well… putting this “Asia Year in Review “ together made those look like child’s play. 

So without further ado, we try our best to briefly sum up each aspects of our Asia year.

Asia Year in Numbers

  • 386 days
  • 16 countries
  • 111 cities
  • 62,313 kilometers / 38,720 miles within Asia
  • average of 2.7 days spent per bed
  • average of 3.5 days spent per city
  • total of 1,860 km walked
  • average of 4.8 km of walking per day 
  • total of $33,870 spent
  • average of $43.90 per person per day

Destinations

“What was your favourite place?” This is the question everyone asks about our Asia year that we never know how to answer. Every country had something unique and distinct that we loved (or we would not have wanted to go in the first place!). Of course, this is not what people want to hear. So in an attempt to properly yet honestly answer this question, we present our Top Asia Destinations!

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We definitely know which countries we would go back to in the future, though this is more based on having places we missed this time around. Nepal for sure, especially since we weren’t able to finish the Annapurna Circuit. Indonesia for another, as we only saw less than a quarter of the whole country. It’s hard to say when we’ll really go back, because for every place we visit, we learn about three new places we want to go to. Destinations-wise, we did what we set out to do during this Asia year: thoroughly explore east, southeast, and south Asia. 

Budget

Money is obviously a crucial and often limiting factor in any trip. Many people we meet assume we’re very wealthy in order to be able to afford to travel for so long. As we’ve shown with our budget summaries throughout the year, this was not the case! Asia has been the ideal budget destination and we were able to spend the year on the road for less than what we spent at home the year before. Along the way, we picked up tips for how to travel frugally that allowed us to travel for even cheaper. 

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In total, we spent $33,870.43 over the course of 386 days traveling through 16 countries in Asia. That is an average of only $43.90 per day per person! This includes EVERYTHING from flights in and out of Asia, gear we bought for the trip, insurance, as well as our living expenses in the countries we visited. For a more detailed breakdown of our spendings, check out Asia Year Budget Summary. We hope we’ve shown that travel doesn’t have to be as expensive as we may think.

Trip Planning

The one aspect of traveling that has evolved the most for us was trip planning. We had a slow-paced traveling style – usually a month per country. In the beginning, we had everything planned out, pre-booked, and thoroughly researched. This lasted maybe the first month. As we settled into long-term travelers, we planned less and less. Fluidity and flexibility became our friend instead of a source of uncertainty and stress. We learned to be adaptable, to think on our feet, and to embrace the unknown. The confidence of knowing we will figure out whatever may be thrown at us is something we will forever take away from our Asia year.

trip-planning

It’s hard to maintain the same level of energy and enthusiasm over the course of the whole year. The first six months were not the same as the last six, and what we chose to fill our days with changed drastically from beginning to end. It has been interesting to think about how the order we’ve chosen to travel has affected our perceptions of each country. Our trip and we as travelers have undoubtedly evolved over time, and we’ve let that natural progression reflect in our trip planning.

Food

Food has been a huge part of our Asia year. Not only because we are foodies, but because food is such an integral part of Asian culture. Everywhere we went, food was so much more than just sustenance; it was a way of life, a reflection of thousands of years of history and tradition. We observed a deep level of appreciation for food in Asia that is unseen in the Western world. It was almost an identity – to taste the cuisine is to know the people and the nation.

food-collage

Some countries had much stronger native food cultures than others. Vietnam, Thailand, and India come to mind. Regardless, we always tried to get a taste of what the locals ate, to varying degrees of success. While we are by no means food experts, it was fun to sample and be surprised by new flavours. We joke that sometimes we traveled in our Asia year just to eat. If so, we could not have picked a better continent.

Blogging

Someone once said that blogs are like icebergs; what you see is only a tiny part of everything that goes into creating and maintaining it. This is the absolute truth. It was a constant struggle to continually produce content this Asia year – write posts, edit photos, keep up a social media presence. We were so behind in the beginning that we felt like giving up altogether (and still at times feel so). The only thing that kept us going was the thought of how much we will enjoy this for years to come.

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We wrote a total of 194 blog posts in regards to our Asia year, with 114 related galleries (!!!). In the beginning, it was easy to get caught up in the numbers – how many likes we got, how many followers we had, how many page views we received. However, we quickly learned that at the end of the day, those numbers meant nothing. It didn’t matter if no one read the blog because ultimately, we did it for ourselves. Even though the website has so many imperfections and so much room for improvement, we’re incredibly proud of it. It was a true labour of love. We will always have this as a permanent record of one of the greatest years of our lives. 

Photography

We started the trip as complete photography amateurs, first-time DSLR owners. All of the buttons and settings were overwhelming. Fast forward to a year later, we can’t imagine ever traveling without a camera. Photography has definitely become a hobby and we’ve slowly but surely improved. Looking back on the early photos is a bit cringe-worthy, but it’s proof of how far we’ve come. 

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Throughout our Asia year, we took over 28,000 raw photos! While a majority of them were not of good quality, the fact that we took this many is mind-boggling. As hard as we try, the photos were never as spectacular as the real thing. Not only because the camera lens can’t compare to our eyes, but also because a photo is devoid of the full sensory experience. We can never quite capture the complete atmosphere; it is but a small glimpse of the joys of travel.

Through photography, we’ve also grown to appreciate the environment and the need for sustainable development. Our planet is a magical place, precious and fragile. It takes seeing and experiencing it first-hand to remember to value what we have and never take it for granted. The more of the planet we see, the more we want to treasure and preserve it so generations to come can share in the wonder. The Gallery tab showcases our best photos for every destination. 

Asia Final Thoughts

Our Asia year has been the best year! This was our long-term, low-budget, backpacking, see as much as we can, roughing it while we’re young, trip. The worst days on the road were still better than the best days at home. We loved every moment. These 386 days have only fueled our desire to keep traveling as a priority for the rest of our lives. We’ve learned a great deal about what kind of travelers we are, what we like and don’t like, and how we best travel. In the future, we have much more specific activities and expeditions in mind.

Julie and Carlos watching the sunset over Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia

Until our next adventure!

Julie + Carlos