Our 20 Most Memorable Moments of 2014

A Trip Around the World Means New Experiences

And we experienced a lot of things during the first third of our trip around the world, but these are the 20 things we remember—and talk about—the most.

1. Meeting Banano

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Banano is a scarlet macaw that lives at Essence Arenal. He's wild (so we were told), but knows a good thing when he sees it. So he often comes down from his tree to eat nuts and seeds from the hands of the people staying at the hostel.

2. Jumping off a Waterfall in Panama

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Sure, we saw the Panama Canal, and it was pretty great. But we had a lot more fun on Captain Carl's Jungleland tour where we got to jump off the waterfall in a Panamanian Jungle.

3. Visiting Easter Island

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I've always wanted to go to Easter Island, and a trip around the world was a great time to make that happen. It was as fantastic as I'd hoped it would be.

4. Driving a Campervan Through New Zealand

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We spent two weeks driving a giant camper van through the beautiful countryside of New Zealand where we encountered many unique towns like Ohakune, Bulls, and Oamaru. We also learned about the amazing jumping pillows.

5. The Melbourne Coffee Scene

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Someone told us that Melbourne had the best coffee in the world. A bold claim, and we were quite skeptical. However, Melbourne's coffee was indeed superb. We miss it something fierce.

6. WWOOFing

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We spent eight days working on an organic sheep and wheat farm in Western Australia. It was an experience we won't forget.

7. Tim Tams

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Our friend Gillan in Melbourne introduced us to Tim Tams, and we haven't been the same since. We met someone else from Melbourne on a boat in Vietnam, and she gave us her last Tim Tam that was stashed in her coat. We like those Melbournians.

8. Riding on a Scooter in Bali

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One of Jackie's most memorable moments was riding on a scooter. There's nothing quite as nerve-wracking as watching your youngest daughter speed away on a scooter in a foreign land. Except maybe realizing your wallet has just been stolen. Or that the monkeys surrounding you have suddenly become angry.

9. Soccer in Sai Kung

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When we were in Hong Kong, Frankie was invited to play soccer in Sai Kung with kids from around the world. She had a great night playing for more than two hours, and when it was over, she even got props from the coach.

10. Our First Trip to Shanghai

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A visit to China was on the itinerary, but we accidentally ended up there sooner than we planned. It turned out to be a crazy 29 hours.

11. Ra.a.g.f (The Bunny Café)

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12. Hello Kitty Apartment

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In Osaka, we stayed in a Hello Kitty-themed apartment. It was fabuolus.

13. Hiroshima

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We didn't know what to expect when we got off the train in Hiroshima. But it turned out to be one of our favorite cities, filled with extreme emotional moments about the atomic bomb and serene reflection on Miyajima Island. What an experience.

14. Tsukunejima

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We heard this small tempura restaurant was fabulous, so we hunted it down. It took us a while to find it, and we almost gave up. But we're a stubborn foursome, and we were rewarded for our efforts. It was one of the best meals we've ever had.

15. Studio Ghibli Museum

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Our kids and a lot of their friends were raised on My Neightbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Spiritied Away, Ponyo, and the many other movies from the imagination of Hayao Miyazaki. Missing a visit to this museum was not an option, even if getting tickets to the place were a little tricky. But it was worth it.

16. Seoul City Wall

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One of the most surprising things we learned in Korea, purely by accident, was that the entire city of Seoul was once surrounded by a wall almost 19 kilometers long. Much of it is still there, and there's a museum called the Seoul City Wall Museum that was really well done and educational.

17. The Great Wall of China

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It lived up to its billing.

18. Crossing the Street in Vietnam

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Street traffic in Vietnam is the stuff of travel legend. We got pretty good at crossing the street on foot in Hanoi, but that was just training for Ho Chi Minh City. And just when we thought we'd mastered it, we had to cross the streets of Saigon on New Year's Eve.

19. Excessively Long Travel

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We've spent some long periods of time on large vehicles.

  • 15 Hours on a Bus (Costa rica to Panama, with a bonus night-time border crossing)
  • 16 Hours on a Plane (Chile to New Zealand)
  • 12 Hours on a Train (Sydney to Melbourne)
  • 11 Hours on a Train (Beijing to Xi'an)
  • 34 Hours on a Train (Yes, the train from Hanoi to Saigon is 34 hours).

We may be done with trains.

20. The Kindness of Strangers New Friends

In addition to being taken care of by old friends like Wendy and family members like Kendra & Fred (and their children), and meeting fellow traveling families like Charly & Martin (and their kids) and Nicole (and her child), we've been pleasantly surprised by and grateful to people who have invited us into their homes for meals and even a place to stay. So we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our new friends Jon & Tanya (and their children), Gillian, Joe & Rebecca, Sarah (and her children), and Jason (and his family). You all gave us wonderful respites from the loneliness of long-distance travel (and filled our bellies quite well). For that, we thank you.

21. Bonus moment! Jackie's first flight on Jetstar.

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Maybe you heard. Jackie really hates Jetstar.

SO 2014 is in the books ...

... but we've still got eight months to go—plenty of time for a whole new set of experiences. We hope you'll follow along and enjoy them with us.

is a writer of things with a strong adventurous streak. He also drinks coffee.

Our 20 Most Memorable Moments of 2014
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