Category: Everything Else

Diving Solo Around The World

By , August 12, 2011 7:38 am

Meet our traveler of the week! We had the fortunate experience to meet Lana while we were in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia. And then again by crazy coincidence in Malaysia, a few weeks later.

We liked Lana right away; she is a sweet person who is full of energy and life. Boris had the pleasure of diving with her among the oceanic Manta Rays in Komodo National Park. While she likes to pack light, don’t underestimate her as she has dived in the South Pacific, Fiji, Samoa, Rarotonga, Bora Bora, New Zealand Poor Knights, Australia: Manly Bay, S.S. Yongala in Ayr Whitsunday Islands, Western Australia, Ningaloo Reef, Indonesia: Lombok, Bali, Flores/Komodo, Thailand, Malaysia, Egypt, Caribbean, Hawaii, and Florida.

We hope to run into Lana again some time soon.

Lana Guanabana

Lana Guanabana

Relationship Status: | Single.
Age: | 27.
Where do you currently live? | South Beach, Florida.
Where is your next trip? | Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and visiting my family in Malaysia and Singapore.

Tells us a bit about yourself?
Lana: My two best friends went traveling without me while I did my final exams in university. I met them in Thailand and my world unfolded before me.

How long did you travel for in your last big trip? Which countries did you visit?
Lana: I just finished a 6-month trip. I went to Thailand, Bali, Lombok, Flores, Sulawesi (Indonesia), then Singapore, back to Thailand to meet friends and travel down to Malaysia, Penang, Perhentian Islands, and Kuala Lumpur, then to Miami, California, OC, and San Diego to visit friends, and Cabo San Lucas in Mexico to visit friends. :)

What was your budget and how did you do about staying on that budget?
Lana: My budget was £8000 ($USD 13,000) for diving and flights in between countries and special experiences.  I took the cheapest flights and got all the diving deals.

How do you fund your travels?
Lana: I work really hard!

What did you do to prepare for the solo aspect of your trip?
Lana: I visit old friends; I make new friends; I combine the two. I let friends know where I am planning on going, if anyone wants to come, and if any one can put me up for a few days/ week.

What is your favorite thing you always pack with you?
Lana: My passport. I love my stamps.

What is the most difficult part of solo travel for you?
Lana: Deciding where to go next.

What advice would you give female travelers who are nervous about traveling alone?
Lana: People are really nice and you can find boys/ friends on beaches in cities, at the hostels. Just be friendly and you’ll be fine!

Any general advice for all travelers?
Lana: Make sure you do as much as you can! Make the most of it. If you’re umming and arring over things, just do it. You don’t get this opportunity every day! And think of the jealousy factor when you get home!

What did you learn about yourself on the trip?
Lana: I’m too nice to people who constantly let me down … and I can do anything and go anywhere I like.

What was your favorite country you visited so far? Why?
Lana: I have no idea. Bora Bora was breathtaking on a daily basis. Thailand is so much fun and it’s so easy to go places and do everything. The people are lovely in Laos, very trustworthy. The South Pacific is paradise.  Asia is soooooo diverse and fun!

Any scary stories or low points in your travels?
Lana: I woke up to an earthquake. The whole room at the beach hostel was shaking, but I just assumed it was minor and was too tired so I went back to sleep; I slept through the sirens and evacuation. When I woke up again, I had a bad feeling and just thought to grab my stuff and run. I saw that the ‘beach’ didn’t look too nice and later discovered that it wasn’t a beach at all. I had just landed here at midnight the day before and hadn’t seen it in daylight yet. A local Samoan in a van asked me where I was going and I said I don’t know, as I didn’t know what was going on. He said there is a tsunami. I told him I was going with him. We picked up his father from the care home and other family and they took me up a mountain where 6 schools had been evacuated. Not one soul spoke English. It was scary and I didn’t know what was going on. I text my Dad in UK and he was at football game so I called my mum at home for updates.

Tsunamis can be survived and strangers can look after you in a life or death situation.

Full tsunami story of Lana on BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/8287183.stm.

Was your traveling experience any different to how you imagined it would be?
Lana: On my first night, I realized that I can go anywhere and do everything and there are people out there doing it already, waiting for you! It’s better, more diverse, relaxing, beautiful, fun and complete and addictive than I ever thought it would/could be!

Boris mentioned to me your fascination with nudibranchs. Can you talk more about this?
Lana: Nudis are just so wonderful, colourful, elegant and lovely. I wasn’t really into them until after diving at several places and then I could appreciate the range of varieties and how cool they are. I get so excited when I see a new one I haven’t seen before! The colours and patterns and textures are just unimaginable!

Nudibranch

Nudibranch

You have an exhausting diving list. What is your favorite diving spot so far?
Lana: Komodo / Bali / Australia

Any tips for divers?
Lana: Do as many dives as possible because we’re killing this planet and all the beauty and tranquility will be lost forever very soon!

How do you adjust after a big trip?
Lana: I book another one. :)

Finally what’s the best thing about traveling?
Lana: Everything is possible!

Diving With Manta Rays

Diving With Manta Rays

Do you enjoy our traveler of the week section? If you or a friend has a crazy travel story to share, contact us and provide a short description of your travels, a link to your blog if you have one, and we will gladly send you questions our readers want to know about you.

Another way to be on our blog is we are looking for guest bloggers who want to share their travel stories with us. Share with us your Holidays to Croatia or places we haven’t gone to before.

Merci!

Japan Video: Hayaku

By , July 29, 2011 9:23 am
Tsunami in Japan

Tsunami in Japan

During our 13 months circling the globe 2.4 times, we were very fortunate that we were not at the wrong place at the wrong time.

We were in Thailand right before and after the shootings occurred in Bangkok. For New Zealand, we came after the 1st big earthquake in Christchurch and took our flights to Australia before the 2nd earthquake. Soon after leaving South America and Australia, there was heavy flooding.

Japan was on our must-see list and we changed our plans at the last-minute because we realized it was not a good place to visit on a low budget and were going to save it for later. Then Japan experienced an earthquake and tsunami at the same time.

Did we know these things were going to happen and when? Of course not. Yes we were scared at times, but no, we did not want to turn around and go home.

Boris showed me this video of Japan and I knew my videos didn’t stand a chance. So for today, I’m sharing a video that does two wonderful things beautifully: (1) highlights Japan and (2) captures various movements in people and mother nature.

Thank you Brad Kremer for producing this video called Hayaku (or Hurry up).
 

 

Traveling Solo Through Japan By Foot

By , July 26, 2011 12:57 pm

Thanks to our readers who told us they want more of Couple of The Week. So due to popular demand, we are going to continue highlighting, not just couples, but all travelers who want to share their stories with us.

If you are interested in being in our blog, contact us and provide a short description of your travels, a link to your blog if you have one, and we will gladly send you questions our readers want to know about you.

Without further delay, I would like to personally introduce our Traveler of The Week. Anthony is not only a good friend of ours, but we thank him for always entertaining us with his outrageous stories. Anthony is the kind of person that won’t leave you indifferent. This is mostly because of his passionate personality type. From an early age, his passion for foreign languages grew from curiosity of learning about other cultures. It now has become a very useful vehicle for him to meet and speak to others while he travels to foreign lands. Today, he can speak 6 different languages (French, English, German, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Italian) and is in the process of learning Greek. He financed business school and his travels through his obsession for poker. Besides being a Manchester United fanatic, he is also lover of Japanese pop music (Ayumi Hamasaki) and dead French singers (Claude François).

Anthony Traveling Solo In Japan

Anthony Traveling Solo In Japan

Relationship Status: | Single.
Age: | 27.
Where do you currently live? | Montpellier, France.
Where is your next trip? | Greece.

What was your first big solo trip?
Anthony: My first big travel was in 2005. I spent one month in Beijing, China for a linguistic internship. I was in shock because everything was so different. From that day on, my definition of travel literally became “a big change”.

How do you prepare for your travels?
Anthony: I don’t like to prepare things. I don’t like to plan because things lose their spontaneity. The only thing I planned was vaccinations, which cost me 600 Euros ($870 USD) for 4 different shots. I was also given Malaria pills. I took them in Laos and they made me sick. My conclusion: no more planning! If I did not plan for any vaccinations, I would have saved 600 Euros. I didn’t plan anything else. I didn’t even know how Thailand looked like before going or what was the name of the capital of Vietnam. I don’t regret my choices because things were most surprising.

What is your favorite thing you always pack with you?
Anthony: I have a teddy bear, a plush donkey, but I didn’t take it with me on my last trip because I was scared to lose it! I made the right move because I lost so many things like my USB stick and cell phone. I would have lost my monkey for sure.

I would recommend travellers to be careful if they take something important with them during their travels. There is a high chance they can lose it.

What is the most difficult part of traveling for you?
Anthony: First, I have to say money. It’s difficult to consider that you don’t have income anymore, that you just spend and at the end of the month, nothing’s going to happen: no salary. Your bank account only gets lower and lower everyday.

Second is handling family. You always have to reassure them.

Third, I would say loneliness. If it happens that you are alone in a foreign country, far from your home, it can be difficult to handle, psychologically. It happened to me in my first days in Germany for example. Your friends are not there; you don’t know anyone; you don’t know the city. It can be difficult. But it doesn’t last long because as a foreigner, you can easily meet a lot of people.

What advice would you give other travelers?
Anthony: I have one regret during the Southeast Asia trip I did, which is to have been only to the popular sightseeing sites. I regret not have been beyond the established trails. I would have preferred to reject conventional wisdom and be gutsier and go meet locals. Every time it happened by chance, it was so great, but sadly it didn’t happen very often. I’m guilty for it.

A second advice is never listen to what people say, “this place isn’t good, this temple is not worth going to, this place is not beautiful”. If you feel like you want to go, just go and make your own opinion! It’s only a matter of taste. Try not to stick that much to travel guides and absolutely not to fellow travelers, or backpackers you meet randomly in youth hostels!

What is your favorite country so far?
Anthony: I could say Vietnam because of all the variety of landscapes: busy cities, desert of white sand, nice beaches, Ha Long Bay, and Sapa are all so different, but still within the same country. And then there is the “Asian touch” with crowded streets, scooters everywhere, dirtiness, and hotness.

I could also say Japan for the cleanliness and politeness of the locals. It’s not a legend. It’s incredible how they make it easy and comfortable to live in their country.

But if I have to pick one and I swear I’m not chauvinistic, I’m going to choose FRANCE! I’m able to say that with more legitimacy now that I’ve been travelling in many different countries and I’m able to compare. There is no place like France; I must say South France. We have a perfect climate, 300 days of sun a year, many different cultural places, a long history, amazing landscapes, castles, churches in every little village. Even though there are only 70 habitants living in my village, we still have a church and a 1000-year-old castle; I find it just incredible. I didn’t realize it before, but people are nice too. We have beaches by the Mediterranean Sea, snow-capped mountains, and we are also near two amazing countries, Spain and Italy. I swear I’m not saying this because I’m a southern French guy! France is the most visited country in the world and there are reasons for it.

You just finished a trip to Japan. Why did you want to go to Japan and tell us about your trip?
Anthony: The reasons that made me want to go to Japan were very personal. I grew up with Japanese cartoons. Then I got interested in Japanese culture, the country, and the language. So since I was 5 years old, I was always into it. Going to this country was just the next logical step.

I stayed 2 months in Japan in July and August 2010. I spent 2 weeks in Tokyo and then I backpacked for 2 weeks. Then I spent one month in Osaka, in the region of Kansai where you can also find cities like Kyoto. I don’t recommend going to Japan during these months because of the weather. It’s fucking hot and humid and it can easily spoil your trip.

How many days did you hike for in Japan? Why did you do it?
Anthony: I hiked 15 days from Tokyo to Kyoto for a total of 400 kilometers, 30 kilometers a day of just walking. I carried a 22 kilos (48.5 pounds) backpack on my back and another 2 kilos (4.4 pounds) on my chest. I hiked for two reasons.

I have to admit the first reason was related to money. Tokyo is hella expensive! I didn’t expect it could be that expensive. I had been travelling in countries like China and Thailand before, so the shock was double the intensity! I wasn’t ready and willing to spend 400 Euros ($560 USD) for a train between Tokyo and Kyoto. I found a 25-euro bedroom in Tokyo, but it was a very bad hotel. It was very small and I had to leave between 8am and 4pm, even if I had booked 2 days in a row. So I was upset and decided to find a way to spend the least I could. Walking and sleeping outside was the solution. Nights were around 25 degrees celsius (80 fahrenheit) so it was fine. I slept on the beach often and overall, it helped me be in better physical shape.

The second reason is that I wanted to know Japan in more detail. I wouldn’t have done it in any other country. So I went through the countryside, where I wouldn’t have gone in any other case. I got lost sometimes and got upset (I lost 2 days without knowing I was going in the wrong direction and had to come back the day after: 10 kilometer to go and another 10 to come back). Of course I had difficulties with the sun waking me up around 5am everyday and the hotness that goes with it. It was also difficult to take showers; I was dirty. Now I realize how crazy it was, but I loved it!

What were some your budgets for your travels?
Anthony: Not considering cost of flights:

While I was on my internship in China, I had a budget of 900 Euros ($1,305 USD) per month, of which I spent 400 Euros ($580 USD) on classes and 500 Euros ($725 USD) for everything else (housing, food, transportation).

In my Southeast Asia trip, I traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China again. I spent 2,500 Euros ($3,620 USD) in 3-months.

In my Japan trip, I spent 2,000 Euros ($2,895 USD) in 2-months, but this was a very low budget for Japan.

Any closing remarks?
Anthony: After each big trip, I am like, all this happened so fast, just like a dream. I would recommend to all those that want to do the same thing, to do everything that you want to do in your trip, have no limits, no restriction, and don’t restrain yourself. Go crazy because such travels are crazy, so they are made for crazy people. LOL.

Our Around The World Trip Statistics

By , June 20, 2011 7:11 am

On March 17th 2010, we left our beloved city of San Francisco with the hopes of seeking new adventures while circling the globe. After 384 days (1 year and 19 days) of doing exactly that, we finished on April 5th, 2011 with our arrival into France. We want to THANK YOU, our readers and supporters, for following us along the way on our amazing journey that had us circling the globe 2.4 times! And while we completed our first “world trip”, we are never going to be done with traveling so when you are in need of an escape, MeAndFrenchie will be here as we still have lots to share.

around the world trip statistics

Here are some of our atw trip statistics:

around the world glove » Days gone:  384
» Countries visited:  17 [USA, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, France, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, India]
around the world glove » Fights occurred between Me & Frenchie:  80
» Nights spent apart:  0
around the world camera » Photos taken:  7512 [MuiMui],  27280 [Boris]
» Photos kept:  7512 [MuiMui],  3382 [Boris]
» Average photos taken per day:  20 [MuiMui],  71 [Boris]
around the world pen » Posts written:  153 x 2 [English and French]
around the world backpack » Total weight of bags at start:  24 + 10 pounds  [for large + small bag each person; weight lessened along the way as we started to donate things we did not need like clothing]
» Total weight of bags at end:  35 + 10 pounds  [because of souvenirs]
around the world lock » Stolen goods:  0
» Lost or broken goods:  2 [MuiMui lost one camera and then broke another]
around the world people » People we already knew before and met along the way:  28[Big shout outs to the following people: Holly, Megan F., Anthony, Matthieu, Damien, Noel, Sam, Michael, Kin, Tony, Megan Y., Amy, Damien M., Coralie, Marie-Hélène, Gerard, Zhi, Uyen, Leon, Caellum, Aleki, Ben, Daveena, Tai, Shan, Lia, Nolan, Kaylene]
around the world lodging
  • » Sleeping arrangements …
  • Hotels+guesthouses:  303
  • Friends+family:  45
  • Airport:  1
  • Plane:  3
  • Boat:  9
  • Bus:  4
  • Caravan:  12
  • Train:  7
» Best paid accommodation:  House rental  [aka White House] in Koh Samui, Thailand
» Worst paid accommodation:  Guesthouse in Chiang Khong, Thailand [before crossing border to Laos]
around the world sick » Days Sick:  6 [MuiMui],  5 [Boris] from local food and ice
around the world diving » Scuba dives:  14 [Boris]
» Best dive:  Manta Ray in Komodo National Park, Indonesia
around the world animals
  • » Chased by …
  • 1 alpha male Sea Lion in The Galapagos
  • 1 female Komodo Dragon in Indonesia
around the world crime » Crime experienced:  0
» Kidnapping stories heard in Peru:  4
» Crime heard in Colombia:  0
around the world jetsetter » Flights flown:  40
» Flight hours:  146 [over 6 days]
» Miles flown:  60,193 [over 2.4 times around the globe]
» Free hotel nights due To flight cancellations:  2 [at 5 star hotels!!]
around the world elevation » Highest elevation:  16,000 feet  [Peru]
around the world moments » Favorite country to visit overall:  Thailand
» Least favorite country to visit overall:  Indonesia
» Most visited country:  Thailand [3 times]
around the world likes » Favorite place to live:  France [MuiMui], USA or anywhere in South America [Boris]
» Least favorite place to live:  Cambodia [not entirely fair as we spent the least time here]
around the world surprise » Country with the greatest culture shock:  India
» Country with the least culture shock:  Singapore [if you don’t include the life of Singaporean housewives]
around the world gear » Most useful item: silk mummy sheetsaround the world sheets [MuiMui],  siliconized storage bagsaround the world bags [Boris]
» Least used item:  compassaround the world compass and emergency aluminized blanketaround the world emergency
» Favorite travel item:  iXpenseIt app [MuiMui],  Camera Canon T2iaround the world iXpenseIt [Boris]
around the world wifi » Best wifi:  Buenos Aires, Argentina  [free]
» Worst wifi:  China [does not exist],  New Zealand [rare and expensive]
around the world food » Best local dish:  foie gras in Paris [MuiMui],   chicken tikka masala + naan in Kolkatta, India  [Boris]
» Worst local dish:  Vegemitearound the world vegemite in Australia
» Strangest dish:  coconut worm in Amazon, Ecuador
around the world coffee » Best coffee:  Colombia
» Worst coffee:  Indonesia [taste bad and not filtered]
» Best non-alcoholic drink:  Sugar cane juice with a little bit of lemon or orange
» Best alcoholic drink:  Pisco Sour in Peru
around the world durian » Tastiest fruit:  mangosteen
» Smelliest fruit:  durian [tip: pinch your nose before and while eating it]
around the world flag » Most overrated town:  Vang Vieng, Laos  [beautiful but spoiled by tourism]
» Most underrated town:  Salento, Colombia
» Worst border crossing:  Laos
around the world moments » Most inspiring moment:  Meeting a family who is biking through Southeast Asia for 1 year with their 1 & 4 year old children
» Most frustrated moment:  Trying to find transportation to Mt. Bromo
» Funniest moment:  Watching a waitress hang out inside a large glass freezer because it was so hot and the restaurant had no air conditioner in Vientiane, Laos
around the world bugs » Worst bugs:  sun flies in the Amazon [luckily we were not bitten by a botfly]
around the world skill » Best skill learned:  Flipping over roaches[Full story: In one of the hotels we stayed in Cambodia, we encountered the biggest roaches we had ever seen. Before going to sleep, we try to sweep them out of our room, but they would come right back. Instead, we put them upside down during the night and flipped them back up during the day.]

How You Can Win Free Custom Lasik

By , June 10, 2011 7:57 am
Me And Frenchie

Me And Frenchie

Back in January 2010, we shared our Custom Lasik experience with you. Two months after having Custom Lasik surgery, our eyes were doing great and we got the thumbs up to leave for our world tour.

Throughout our travels, we did not experience any dryness, irritation, or night vision halo. In fact, we did not have any problems with our eyes. Maybe we would have been okay traveling with glasses (even traveling with contact lens), but we are so much happier with Custom Lasik. We don’t take for granted our new vision and it has really allowed us to travel worry-free and live hassle-free.

If you are considering getting Custom Lasik, don’t choose a doctor by price. We recommend selecting a doctor by experience, technology they use, and how personal they are. In any case, check if you can set up a flexing spending account with your employer to help with the costs. Even better than that, if you live in the bay area, you can win free Lasik with Dr. George Simon, our Custom Lasik Vision surgeon.

Official Rules for Custom Lasik Vision Will Change Your Life or How Custom Lasik Vision Changed My Life:

You have to be a legal resident of California and reside in one the following counties:
Alameda, Contra Costa, Lake Marin, Mendocino, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma. Hurry because the deadline is June 30, 2011.

We entered the “How Custom Lasik Vision Changed My Life” part of the contest. Here is our video:

THANKS and good luck!

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