Round the World trip: Top 50 of our experiences

This article serves as a conclusion for this blog and our awesome year: we’ve been looking to aggregate in one post the most awesome experiences we’ve had as well as our favorites places.

Before doing so, here are our general impressions on the trip:

First, it was great. The words really can’t describe how incredible this year has been. That being said, here is one hard/surprising fact about travelling around the world for a year that our families still won’t accept:

It’s not vacations!

As much as we had an amazing time discovering all of what we’ve lived, it was really exhausting to change place and hostel every 2 to 3 days, having to figure out the next place to stay, the transportation, getting our marks in new cities, etc. Moreover, we had to be on our guards all the time to avoid getting robbed or scammed (apart for Japan, Australia, Hawaii, Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong). And living out of a suitcase ended up growing on us (I’m sick of those same 7 tops and 4 shorts!).

Obviously, we’re not complaining: our instinct really developed and we got much, much better at getting around quickly, negotiating, and meeting and socializing with new people. But we got a bit tired of travelling during our last month – which is why our rhythm slowed down so much in August compared to the rest of the trip.

Lastly, as a lot of people asked us: yes, it’s hard to travel one year with one person. Even when being very good friends, being 24/7 together was not always easy. Moreover we tended to pick up small things about the other one that wouldn’t bother us in everyday life, and those grew on us. We actually had a fun night together sharing what was pissing us off about the other one’s habits. But obviously we managed to make it work, and we’re both really happy we did that journey together.

The world trip in numbers, it’s:

  • 19 countries
  • 34 flights
  • About 56 800 miles flown (91 410km)
  • About 16 400 km driven
  • About 25 000€ each ($33k)
  • About 122 different accomodations

Before starting the top 50, here is a couple of bonuses:

The video of the trip:

And a compilation of the worst moments of the trip – the ones that almost made us wanting to go back home. Almost.

Shit happens: the hard part

 

  1. Making a deposition at the Vietnamese police

    In the middle of the night with my passport being stolen, making a deposition with the Vietnamese police wasn’t easy. They were yelling at me and not willing to help at all. The thought that I might actually spend the night in prison crossed my mind.

  2. Getting out of Vietnam with an Emergency Passport

    I had to get a verbal note from the French embassy to show at the Vietnamese immigration to get an exit visa. They didn’t want to give me my passport back until 1h before my flight, and not without being bribed first.

  3. Realizing I needed a tourist visa to go to the US with an emergency passport 48h before my flight

    This one is partly on the French embassy, which told me I could travel to any country with an Emergency passport. However, since it’s not electronic, I couldn’t get a ESTA and a tourist visa usual takes 3 to 4 weeks to get. Thankfully, I managed to delay my flight and get a visa in 48h.

  4. Having the boat capsizing in the sea with our luggage when leaving Apo Island

    We got lucky and didn’t loose much, but the experience was painful.

  1. Getting stuck in the sand with our car on Fraser Island

    We dug for a good hour around the tires and had quite a lot of people passing by without helping until a couple of nice Australians helped us out to get the car out. We definitely didn’t have enough clearance.

  1. Maxing up Thomas’ credit card right before renting a car in Mexico

    My credit card having been stolen along with my passport, we had been using Thomas’ quite a lot, especially for renting car. We maxed it up right before renting a car in Mexico, realized that at the check-in of the rental company and had to wait another couple of days before leaving Mexico City.

  1. Going back home

    Yup, it did felt weird getting up this morning knowing it was our last day around the world. We’ll live though.

Now, without further ado, here is the list of our top 50 experiences (for those of you counting, yes, there are actually 55 of them but it didn’t make as good of a title).

I. Man-built wonders

  1. Bagan

    IMG_1116
    Exploring Bagan was an out of everything The 2000 temples site is huge, and we were cycling around the temples on dirt roads. Unforgettable.

  2. The Taj-Mahal

    IMG_1272
    It’s hard to describe the feeling at its first sight. The Taj Mahal is truly magical and its visit was definitely a highlight of our trip in India.

  3. Angkor

    2014.04.23 - Angkor 44
    Angkor is the main attraction of South East Asia and it’s no wonder! The ruins are beautiful and imagining what the city used to look like during its golden age was thrilling.

  1. Banaue rice terraces

    IMG_0801
    It was incredible to imagine that those beautiful and huge rice terraces were actually created more than 2 000 years ago!

  1. The Mayan ruins of Edzna and Uxmal

    2014.06.22 - Ednzá 50
    The beauty of Edzna was breathtaking. Uxmal was a way bigger with its impressive pyramid and allowed us to more imagine what life must have been during the Mayans time.

  1. The Hong-Kong skyline

    2014.05.21 - Hong Kong 07
    Hong-Kong skyline is probably one of the most beautiful skylines in the world and we couldn’t get enough of it. Even as a New York City lover, I must say it matches easily the Manhattan one.

  2. Christ the redeemer

    2014.08.21 - Rio 13 Christ Redempteur
    Even though Christ the Redeemer was actually smaller than we imagined, it’s exceptional location dominating the city of Rio and offering a fabulous view on the bay made the visit great. Seen the Christ from all over the city was also quite amusing.

  1. The Golden Pavilion

    2014.05.31 - Kyoto 1 Golden Pavilion 12
    The Golden Pavilion is a very good example of the traditional Japanese architecture that we truly find beautiful.

 

II. Natural wonders

  1. Uluru

    2014.01.27 - Uluru-Kata Tjuta (30)
    Nothing can describe the feeling of seeing Uluru for the first time after hours and hours of driving in the middle of the very flat Outback. Ayers Rock is truly massive and surprisingly elegantly shaped. Knowing that it’s just the tip of the entire rock and that most of it is in the ground makes it even more impressive.

  2. Ha long Bay

    2014.05.14 - Halong Bay 37
    Cruising around Ha long Bay was definitely another highlight of the trip in South East Asia. The site is exceptional, and kayaking within the countless islands was great.

  3. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    2014.06.11 - Hawaii Volcanoes NP 54
    Active volcanoes and lava. What else is there to say? Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was a great way of realizing the power of natural forces.

  1. Ometepe

    2014.07.22 - Ometepe 01
    Ometepe is a surprising sight in Nicaragua. It’s a beautiful island formed by a pair a twin-volcanoes.

  2. Boracay

    2014.03.09 - Boracay (10)
    As much as we didn’t enjoy the atmosphere of Boracay, way to touristy and not representative of the Philippines at all, we have to say that the beach is probably the most beautiful one with seen. With its perfect white sand, its palm-trees and it’s blue water, it’s no wonder tourism developed so fast there.

  3. The Great Barrier Reef

    2014.02.18 - Great Barrier Reef (9)
    The snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef was simply amazing, with natural tunnels, tons of different fishes and beautiful corals. We would happily go back to dive it!

  4. The Comoroan Peninsula

    2014.03.04 - Coramoan Peninsula Island Hopping (82)
    The Along bay of the Philippines, the Comoroan Peninsula is incredibly beautiful, with stunning islands and beaches.

  5. The Daintree Rainforest

    2014.02.16 - Daintree Rainforest (37)
    Daintree is the oldest rainforest of the world, and its location right by the sea made it even more fascinating to visit.

  6. The Bohol Chocalat Hills

    2014.03.11 - Bohol - Chocalate Hills (5)
    It was quite fun to discover those 1268 almost identic hills ranging from 40 to 120m while driving around Bohol.

 

III. Activities

  1. Petting tigers in Chiang Mai

     

    2014.04.06 - Chiang Mai 22
    Well, we’re talking about tigers here. Getting to touch those big cats knowing that it could kill us in a few seconds was exhilarating.

  1. Sleeping in a Maharajah Palace at Roopangarh

    2013.10.13 - Rajasthan 96 Roopangarh
    Sleeping in a Maharajah Palace is already quite an experience. But it was even more amazing in Roopangarh, since we were the only guest and had the entire palace for ourselves as well as an amazing staff at our service.

  2. Eating weird food in Vietnam

    2014.05.18 - Hanoi 02
    Dogs and cobras are not the kind of animal that is easy to find. Our gourmet day in Vietnam necessitated some guts but was a blast.

  3. Elephant riding in Chiang Mai

    2014.04.05 - Chiang Mai 33
    Honestly, we couldn’t have imaged it was that fun. Elephants are massive and riding them is quite an exceptional feeling.

  4. Learning to cook Thai cuisine

    2014.04.04 - Chiang Mai 25

    We love Thai cuisine, and being able to cook and eat our own food made it even better!

 

IV. Sports

  1. Caving in Sagada

    2014.02.24 - Sagada (17)
    That was the first time for Thomas and I doing “extreme” caving. We love caves and we love to climb. Caving in Sagada was combining both and was seriously a difficult hike.

  2. Hiking to the rim of an active volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    2014.06.12 - Hawaii Volcanoes NP 47
    Few things beat the feeling of arriving at the rim of an active volcano after hiking through the solidified lava to get its top. Mauna Ulu crater was quite deep and smoking, making it really impressive.

  3. Climbing Uluru

    2014.01.28 - Climb of Uluru (41)
    Uluru is really, really steep. Climbing it right after dawn was demanding, but sitting down at the top to enjoy the view on the surrounding desert was a feeling worth the effort.

  4. Volcano Boarding

    DCIM100GOPRO
    Going down Cerro Negro, the world most active cinder cone, at more than 60km/h on a wooden board was thrilling! Volcano boarding alone was worth going to Nicaragua for, and the hike up the volcano was quite enjoyable too.

  5. Hiking up one of Ometepe volcano

    DCIM100GOPRO
    It took Adrien and I 6 hours and 40 minutes to make the round trip to the summit of one of Ometepe’s volcano, hiking through the jungle and the rainforest. Another demanding activity that was really rewarding.

  6. Oodnadatta track

    2014.01.26 - Oodenata track (10)
    615 kilometers of unsealed road in the middle of nowhere, without seeing anyone and with only desert around: that was Oodnadatta track experience. To be honest, it was fairly stressful but fascinating at the same time.

  7. Biking in the Philippines

    2014.03.13 - Siquijor (7)
    Riding bikes in the Philippines was a really fun thing. There aren’t too many cars around, so it’s a pleasure to go and explore the islands on a bike. We did have a few problems with the bikes we rented, but it was worth the trouble.

  8. Sand driving in Fraser Island

    2014.02.10 - Fraser Island (31)     2014.02.10 - Fraser Island (30)

    Another fun yet stressful activity. Driving around the sandy tracks of the island and its beaches was truly freedom.

  1. Bungee jumping and zip lining

    2014.03.11 - Bohol - Danao (5)
    Whether it was zip line over a gorge in the Philippines or jumping off 145 meters in Costa Rica, we enjoyed the feeling of leaping into the void.

  2. Climbing ruins in Bagan

    2014.03.26 - Bagan (9)
    Most of Bagan’s temple were penetrable and we could climb up to the top of some. Again, Tom and I love climbing, we like ruins and combining both was great.

 

V. Water world

  1. Learning how to dive in Koh Tao

    2014.04.17 - Ko Tao 10
    We were surprised by how cool diving is when we did our Open Water course in Ko Tao. And we couldn’t dream of a better place to learn: the dive sites were great, the island beautiful and the life / party in the dive center right on the beach was awesome.

  2. Snorkeling with whale sharks

    2014.06.28 - Isla Mujeres 03
    It was breathtaking to discover how big whale sharks are when we went snorkeling with them in Mexico. It was actually quite scary at first, then really exiting to follow those massive fish.

  3. Wakeboarding in Naga

    Naga
    Wakeboarding with cables is a feeling very much different from the one of being towed by a boat, and an afternoon wakeboarding in Naga helped us to master a few tricks such as the 180 and the olie.

  4. Surfing in Central America

    DCIM100GOPRO
    Surfing in Australia was nice, but surfing in Central America was awesome. Nicaragua had sweet surf spots, whereas being dropped by a boat on the reef in Panama was an awesome feeling.

  5. Swimming with turtles in Apo Island

    DCIM100GOPRO
    Apo Island was beautiful and a its underwater water world even more! In a couple of days, we got to swim with more than a dozen turtles. Definitely a blast!

  6. Diving Cozumel

    DCIM100GOPRO
    We loved Ko Tao, but the dive sites of Cozumel are absolutely out of this world. Between the fishes, the caves and the corals, we didn’t want to get out of the water.

  7. Following a shark while snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef

    2014.02.18 - Great Barrier Reef (4)
    That’s a cool one. While snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, Thomas and I saw a shark that we started following. At some point, the shark turned around and faced us. We immediately left him alone.

  1. Swimming in a volcano lake

    DCIM100GOPRO
    Swimming in a volcano lake was a nice reward after hiking Cerro Chato, a smaller volcano next to Arenal Volcano. Clouds were covering the lake, so I quickly lost sight of the shore and ended up in the middle of fog, making it even more magical.

 

VI. Cities

  1. Rio De Janeiro

    2014.08.21 - Rio 28 Christ Redempteur
    2014.08.17 - Rio 10 Copacabana

    Rio de Janeiro is probably our favorite country of the trip. It’s been built in the middle of an incredibly beautiful natural site, and the city has many different neighborhoods with different atmosphere. Copacabana beach in particular was really beautiful.

  1. Singapore

     

    2013.10.22 - Singapore 44
    Singapore felt like a mini New York in the middle of South East Asia. We really enjoyed its dynamism and privileged location, so close from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. We would love to experience living in for a while!

  1. Udaipur

    2013.10.15 - Rajasthan 45 Udaipur
    Udaipur was definitely our favorite city of India. It’s more quite than the other cities we went to, and the buildings are jewels of architecture.

  1. Hong Kong

    2014.05.21 - Hong Kong 03
    Hong Kong is a really interesting city, mixing the Chinese culture with modernism and business. That’s another city we’d love to live there for a while to discover more of it.

 

VII. Countries

  1. Philippines

    2014.03.14 - Apo Island (1)
    The Philippines are definitely our favorite country of the trip with Thailand. The Filipinos are incredibly nice people, and the country is composed of thousands of islands more beautiful than each other, every one of them with its own personality and its own vibe. We really want to come back to keep on exploring this fabulous country.

  2. Thailand

    2014.04.09 - Ko Phi Phi 13
    As said before, Thailand is our second favorite country of the trip. There is so much to do there, between exploring the southern islands, discovering the ruins, hiking in the jungle, riding elephants, diving, kayaking, etc. It seems impossible to get bored, the country is cheap and the food is awesome.

  3. Mexico

    2014.07.02 - Zipolite 05
    Mexico was a really nice surprise for us, but the country as a lot to offer: colonial cities, Mayan ruins, blue water and nice beaches on the Caribbean side and surfing on the Pacific side. Again, it seems hard to get bored in Mexico.

  4. Costa Rica

    DCIM100GOPRO
    Costa Rica is probably our favorite country of those we went to in Central America. It’s a tiny country but it’s got so much to offer, between volcanoes, surfing, beautiful beaches, waterfall and jungle. The only downside is that the country is a very popular holiday destination for American tourists, and the prices are high compared to the rest of Central America.

  5. India

    2013.10.11 - Delhi 06 Streets
    India was an incredible country. It was hard to visit, even harder to start with, but it is so different from anything we’re used to. It’s really a different world with an enchanting history that is fascinating to explore.

 

VIII. Parties

  1. Isla Mujeres

    2014.06.29 - Isla Mujeres 02
    Isla Mujeres was a small island with all the party gathered in on place: on the beach of the main hostel. It was great parties.

  2. Ko Lanta

    2014.04.10 - Ko Lanta 04
    Every night in Lanta has its specific bar where everybody is going and where the party is. So even if there is less people than on Ko Phi Phi, the party is just as great – although a bit less crazy.

  3. Hanoi

    2014.05.17 - Hanoi 23
    We stayed in a huge backpacker hostel in Hanoi that was filled with young people willing to party. Every night started at the hostel before moving to the bars nearby and finishing up in the same nightclub after midnight. So much for the curfew.

  4. Ko Phi Phi

    2014.04.09 - Ko Phi Phi 24
    Ko Phi Phi is the party island. Every night, every restaurant on the beach turns into a bar offering fire shows on the beach and really loud music.

  5. Rio de Janeiro

    2014.08.17 - Rio 28 Copacabana
    There is always something going on in Rio. Between Lapa nights were the party is everywhere in the streets and open bars in Ipanema clubs, the Brazilians know how to party.

  6. Sydney

    2013.11 - Sydney
    We had a great time partying in Sydney, starting slowly on the rooftop of our apartment before moving to our favorite bars of the city, always packed with young people.

  7. Montezuma

    2014.07.18 - Montezuma 01
    Montezuma was a cool place to party in too. Our hostel had a huge table in the common area where everybody was meeting up every evening, playing games before going partying on the beach.

 

Overall, this world trip was unbelievable. This was an incredible experience that helped us both to grow tremendously, and probably the best year of our lives so far. We’re now looking forward for what’s next, happy to go back to “real life” and looking forward to some more travelling!

2014.03.04 - Coramoan Peninsula Island Hopping (46)

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