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Awards

14 Dec

We thought we would compile a list of awards for the trip, a “best of” and “worst of” of sorts. We came up with a number of different categories and nominations for each. We voted on the winner of each category to determine a winner (denoted by bold type). Most of the categories resulted in three different votes, so we argued and pleaded to narrow it down to one winner (except in two cases). Here goes…

 

THE MOST SURPRISING MOMENT AWARD

1)  Tahrir Square being peaceful and empty when we drove through it in a cab for the first time.

2)  Being split up at the very start of our trip when Typhoon Bolaven “forced” our flight to be cancelled.

3)  Having the exact same itinerary as Dan in Jordan and him offering to drive us through the country.

4)  Alan telling us he was flying to Australia.

5)  When Alan realized Dane and Eric would not be going to North Korea, and he was on his own.

comments:  It blind sided everyone, even Alan a little bit. Nothing else could top it.

 

THE CRAZIEST EXPERIENCE AWARD

1)  Being driven by a drunk taxi driver in India.

2)  Taking the local bus in Nepal with wooden floors that accelerated through the winding mountain turns that hugged cliff faces.

3)  Having to walk past a cobra in an alley in Varanasi.

4)  The overnight trains in India.

5)  Shark diving in Cape Town.

6)  Dealing with altitude sickness on our Everest Trek.

7)  Witnessing the training of young kids to perform at the Mass Games at the Children’s Museum in North Korea.

comments:  There were a number of crazy experiences on our trip, and any number of them could have been chosen as the craziest. We had to go with shark diving, though for the sheer amount of crazy we personally had to have in our own minds to actually go through with the experience, especially since we had seen a youtube video days before which showed a Great White breaching one of the cages.

 

FAVORITE PLACE AWARD

1)  Varkala, India

2)  Cape Town, South Africa

3)  Petra, Jordan

4)  Namche Bazaar, Nepal

5)  North Korea

6)  Mark’s Parent’s house

comments:  This one was unanimous. Cape Town is beautiful and there is lots to do there. We were meant to stay for four days and ended up staying for eight. We could have stayed longer.

 

FAVORITE SITE AWARD

1)  Mount Everest

2)  Taj Mahal

3)  Petra

4)  Pyramids

5)  Table Mountain

comments:  One of the ties. It’s hard to separate these two. Dane voted for Petra number one and Pyramids number two. Eric voted Pyramids number one and Petra number two. Alan wasn’t there, so he voted for the Taj Mahal number one. We had to overrule him.

 

MOST CONTROVERSIAL BLOG POST

1)  A Day in the Life of Alan

2)  India Wrap Up

3)  The post where Eric drank the finger water

comments:  Alan was in no part responsible for this blog, but it caused quite an uprising amongst friends and family because Dane and Eric failed to fully specify that it wasn’t written by Alan and it was a joke. Our bad.

 

THE “WEIRDED US OUT” AWARD

1)  When an Indian man looked into Eric’s eyes as the sun disappeared below the horizon on the beach and lovingly asked, “What are you thinking about?”

2)  Alan telling us he was flying to Australia.

3)  Ram getting jealous when we were interacting with another trekking group on our way up to Everest Base Camp.

comments:  As Eric said, only his girlfriend has ever asked him such a question. So, it was strange for a man who he didn’t know to approach him out of the blue and ask it. It definitely weirded us out. Still does.

 

THE “INCREDIBLE INDIA” AWARD

1)  Trash everywhere.

2)  The constant lies and the constant cheating.

3)  The drunk taxi driver who was allowed to keep driving after paying his fine.

4)  The overly crowded liquor store in Alleppey at 11 am on a Monday.

5)  The seemingly 496:1 ratio of men to women.

comments:  Unpopular opinion alert:  we didn’t absolutely and totally fall in love with India, which everyone else in the world seems to have, especially the other travelers we met along the way. We didn’t absolutely hate it, but we didn’t absolutely love it. That’s why we picked our “India Wrap Up” blog ended up on the most controversial award list. That said, the drunk taxi driver who was let off with a fine and handed his keys to continue driving has to be the most ridiculous thing we experienced in India.

 

THE BEST NIGHT OUT AWARD

1)  Dane’s birthday in Maun.

2)  Eric-Sean 2012.

3)  Long Street in Cape Town.

4)  The umbrella drinks only night in Kovalam.

5)  The braai and bar crawl in Kommetjie.

6)  Sunday night watching Home Alone and drinking beer in bed at our Cairo hostel.

comments:  Lots of food, lots of beer, lots of friends. A wonderful time that slightly edges out the other nights on the list (except #6, it blows #6 out of the water).

 

THE BEST IMPROMPTU JOURNEY (SITE) AWARD

1)  Australia

2)  India/Pakistan Border

3)  Dahab

4)  Mount Sinai

comments:  We were all there for this one, and it tuned out to be an absolutely amazing experience I would recommend to anyone. There were hype men!

 

THE MOST CHAOTIC PLACE AWARD

1)  Varanasi

comments:  No other place even comes close to making the list. It would be an insult to compare anything else to it. It’s the most chaotic place anyone of us has ever been times 100.

 

THE MOST STUNNING FIRST LOOK AWARD

1)  The Pyramids at Giza

2)  The Treasury at Petra

3)  The top of Mount Everest

4)  Varanasi

comments:  This was a split vote, but again anything on the list easily could have won the top award. The top of Everest is something neither of us will ever forget.

 

THE BEST IMPROMPTU CREW AWARD

1)  The backwater boat tour group

2)  The attendees of Eric-Sean 2012

3)  The A-Team on the first leg of the safari from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls

comments:  There were some great people we met along the way. The A-Team was an odd collection of people that really meshed together. They made the long drives between stops on the safari enjoyable, a hard task to do.

 

THE BEST ALAN REPLACEMENT AWARD

1)  Dan from Jordan

2)  Narelle aka the “oracle” from the safari

3)  Peter from India

4)  Rich from Bangkok

comments:  The chef from London takes this one. It was a heated race, but Peter pulled it out by a nose. He was wonderful company, and it helped that we met up with him days after Alan left.

 

THE BEST RANDOM GAME AWARD

1)  Throwing rocks at other rocks everywhere

2)  Playing catch with minnows in the Okavango Delta

3)  Converting a rugby ball into an American football for a game of catch on the beach

comments:  The reason this idiotic game wins is because we did this in every country we visited.

 

THE MOST DISAPPOINTING MOMENT AWARD

1)  Missing North Korea

2)  Alan leaving

3)  Alan returning

comments:  This one will haunt Dane and Eric. We really wanted a peak behind the curtain, especially after living in South Korea, but it wasn’t meant to be. All we have are Alan’s amazing photos and stories from his time there.

 

THE MOST ROMANTIC MOMENT OF THE TRIP AWARD

1)  Eric and Alan’s one year sleeping in the same bed anniversary

2)  Eric not going on any international vacations without Dane for the last two years

3)  Eric and Dane spending nearly every moment of three months together

4)  Alan flying to Adelaide to surprise his lady love.

comments:  No question.

 

THE WEIRDEST DAY AWARD

1)  The day Alan told us he was going to Australia

2)  Day one of the trip when Eric and Dane were still in Seoul.

3)  Day two of the trip when Eric and Dane were still in Seoul.

4)  Taking the coast road along the garden route and seeing the coast for a maximum of 10 minutes.

5)  Not knowing who the President of the United States was while we were camping in the Okavango Delta.

comments:  The day Alan told us he was leaving was still the weirdest. We went to the southernmost tip of India. It wasn’t worth it, and we were trying to piece together in our mind why Alan was leaving what we saw as a trip of a lifetime. It must be love.

 

THE MOST DIFFICULT DAY AWARD

1)  When altitude sickness hit Eric hard after the second rest day.

2)  The Trek down to Lukla from Namche Bazaar.

3)  23 hours of flight time, not including a four hour layover in Abu Dhabi, on the way back to America.

comments:  For the three of us, the trek down to Lukla was probably the most difficult. It was raining, we were tired, and the distance took us all day to cover. But what Eric went through with altitude sickness has to top it. And he continued hiking!

 

THE BEST OF NEPAL AWARD

1)  Base Camp

2)  Eating steaks in Kathmandu after returning from the Himalayas

3)  Having internet again after 10 days without it.

comments:  An easy choice. It’s where we literally were at the foot of the top of the world. It was the pinnacle of our trek and the reason we went to Nepal in the first place.

 

THE BEST OF INDIA AWARD

1)  The India/Pakistan border

2)  The Taj Mahal

3)  Varkala

4)  The Golden Temple at Amritsar

comments:  There is a reason everyone goes to see the Taj Mahal. It’s beautiful, and it dominates the surrounding sky. If you get the chance, go. You won’t be disappointed.

 

THE BEST OF JORDAN AWARD

1)  The road trip with Dan

2)  Wadi Rum

3)  Petra

4)  the Dead Sea

comments:  Jordan turned out to be a solid destination from top to bottom. We enjoyed everything we did there. But again, there’s a reason Petra is a wonder of the world. It must be visited by anyone who travels to Jordan.

 

THE BEST OF EGYPT

1)  Scuba diving in the Red Sea

2)  The Pyramids at Giza

3)  The Library at Alexandria

4)  Mount Sinai

comments:  Like the first two, there’s a reason people go out of their way to see the Pyramids, and none of them leave disappointed.

 

THE BEST OF SOUTH AFRICA

1)  Noel’s 75th

2)  Coffee Bay

3)  The drive down to the Cape of Good Hope

4)  Seeing old friends and their families and friends

5)  Kruger

comments:  It was nice connecting with people from Korea and Alan’s old friends and family. It’s always nice to know the locals. They give you the best advice about places to stop and visit and afford you the opportunity to do things most tourists miss out on.

 

THE THING WE’RE MOST LIKELY TO DO AGAIN AWARD

1)  Shark diving

2)  See the Pyramids at Giza

3)  Visit Cape Town

4)  Visit North Korea

5)  Go on safari

comments:  Alan, if he had not been in Australia, would have gone on his second safari already. As it is, we all stand at one. We hope, however, to run that number to at least two. Going on safari is terrific. Seeing wild animals is always fun.

 

MVP OF THE TRIP

1)  Dane

2)  Eric

3)  Alan

comments:  Alan disappeared for part of the trip. It’s as simple as that. He got a nice consolation prize, though, as he and his lady will be spending Christmas together in Ireland.

Farewell (For Now)

14 Dec

Our last day was spent in Johannesburg. Eric and Dane fly out today. Alan flies out tomorrow. So, our trip will end as it began, with the group split apart. This time, however, we’re ready for it. It will be nice to get back home. It will be nice to see old friends again and to be with our families for Christmas. We’re sad the trip is coming to an end. We’re sad to be leaving each other’s company for who knows how long. But it’s time.

Eric:  We’ve been traveling for 106 days. Me and Dane at least.

Dane:  Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

Alan:  It will be 109 for me by the time I leave tomorrow.

Eric:  Always trying to one up us.

Dane:  Part of that was spent in Adelaide, though, missing Petra and the Pyramids.

Alan:  I did get a pretty amazing girl.

Eric:  Wow!! What a suck up! You can write that, too. I must say, though, I am happy for Alan and Inyoung. And I’m happy he came back.

Alan:  So am I.

Dane:  So, Alan, what’s your favorite Eric story of the trip?

Eric:  There’s not many good ones.

Alan:  Favorite Eric story? When he drank the finger water.

Dane:  That’s 100% the right answer.

Eric:  Let’s not forget Alan abandoned us and should be the one we are making fun of.

Dane:  Go for it. Favorite Alan story?

Alan:  I didn’t put my foot in my mouth as much as you did.

Eric:  No one does.

Dane:  What about at Noel’s 75th?

Eric:  Oh yeah! When you were asked to say Grace at Noel’s birthday dinner, and you stumbled through it. You looked more nervous than when I talk to women.

Alan:  Now, we have to do Dane stories…

Eric:  Dane is so cool, calm and collected, he rarely does something you can make fun of him for. But, he lost his charm a bit, when he scared away Daisy from Botswana just because she had no shoes. She probably couldn’t afford them.

Dane:  I don’t respect the 47%.

Eric:  Which includes both Dane and myself.

Dane:  Not an ounce of respect.

Alan:  I would be a part of that, too, if I wasn’t Irish.

Dane:  So, it’s sort of the end of an era here. We have all been in Korea/traveling together for the past 2 years and 4 months. It’s been a helluva time.

Eric:  An amazing two year run. Because, yeah, our first trip was together, Hong Kong/Macau, and now, we’ve finished our last trip together.

Alan:  Hopefully not our last trip.

Dane:  When might that trip be?

Alan/Eric:  BRAZIL 2014!!!

Alan:  Or Vegas anytime.

Eric:  Alan’s bachelor party.

Dane:  I’m game. Any final tales of the trip to mention or closing remarks?

Eric:  I’d just like to say thanks to Dane and, even Alan, for everything, for the trouble we got into in Seoul to the drive through South Africa, I’ve enjoyed every second of it!

Alan:  The wolf pack shall be reunited in Brazil. We should tag James Finnie in that statement.

Eric:  Haha… We’re going to need someone to show us around.

Alan:  It really has been an amazing two and a half years. From the orientation class where I asked Dane how the hell does Eric drink like that and still have a smile on his face in class…

Eric:  That’s me, mom.

Alan:  …to being on the soccer team together briefly to the countless barbecues we had together on the weekend, it’s all been good.

Dane:  I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m going to miss you, boys. See you in Brazil or Vegas.

Alan:  Cheers to that.

The Okavango Delta

28 Nov

The Delta was the only ‘true’ bit of safari we participated in. We were truly in the “bush,” as they say. There was nothing around, no electricity, no showers, no toilets. And we didn’t drive around in 4×4 vehicles searching for game. We moved around on foot. There was nothing between us and the Africa wild.

Dane:  We were taken to the camp site via canoes, all our supplies, all our water, everything.

Eric:  After setting up camp, we realized it was too hot to do anything. We sat around making small talk for the next six hours.

Dane:  This was the first place we truly started bonding with some of the safari group. Out of boredom we created nicknames for everyone. Some people liked their nicknames more than others (e.g., the girl we nicknamed the Oracle. She brought a bottle of vodka on the trip for the group. She claimed it would’ve been rude not to buy a bottle of alcohol in duty free).

Eric:  We refused to make nicknames for ourselves. We told the group to come up with nicknames for us. They failed to offend us.

Dane:  We did go swimming in a place in the Delta that afternoon. Supposedly it’s a safe place. No hippos or crocodiles go there during the day.

Eric:  Our guide Andrew pretended to be a hippo.

Dane:  It was so hot there. The swimming hole was the only thing to provide relief.

Eric:  Even at sunset it was pretty hot.

Dane:  That’s when we went on our first walking safari.

Eric:  And that’s when we found out we were terrible at walking safaris.

Dane:  Just our group.

Eric:  The A-Team! Me, you, the Oracle, Arnold, Harvey the Bully, and Jandals (for that first walk).

Dane:  We struggled to be quiet to the level necessary for not scaring the animals.

Eric:  No one should find it surprising I couldn’t maintain that level of quiet.

Dane:  We saw nothing.

Eric:  Well, not nothing. Poop.

Dane:  Our guide struggled. When there were no animals, he tried to entertain us by stopping at different animal droppings and describing them. Our first walking safari basically turned into a series of poop jokes.

Eric:  Our next walking safari wasn’t any better.

Dane:  Yeah, we went to bed early in order to wake up for another walking safari in the morning. We saw more poop. That was all.

Eric:  In the afternoon, though, we accomplished something amazing!

Dane:  Yes!

Eric:  We went swimming again. There were tons of minnows in the water, so we started catching them.

Dane:  Everyone did. But we took it to the next level.

Eric:  We played catch with the fish!

Dane:  At first, we tried to catch the minnows with our bare hands. That failed. Then, the catcher cupped water in their hands.

Eric:  We threw one minnow back and forth and back!

Dane:  That’s when we shouted ‘we win Africa’! No one else understood our elation.

Eric:  They’re dumb.

Dane:  Then, we just sat around camp.

Eric:  We spent that day about the same way we did the last. Just making small talk and getting to know one another.

Dane:  That night, after dinner, the guides put on a show.

Eric:  I loved it!

Dane:  Oh, I forgot something, the boat ride at sunset.

Eric:  We were told we were going on a sunset cruise, so of course we had to bring our beers.

Dane:  But as was relatively consistent with our time at the Delta, we were not given all the necessary information. At one point, the boats docked and we were told we were getting out for one last game walk.

Eric:  We weren’t even told that. We were just told to get out of the boats and walk.

Dane:  We were wearing sandals.

Eric:  And had our beers in hand.

Dane:  Both groups were mixed together at this point, and the other group was not impressed with our talking. We were “shushed.”

Eric:  Not even my mother “shushed” me like I was “shushed” by Hawkeye (a girl from the other group). But you’re skipping ahead. You’re leaving out the moment you made Daisy run away.

Dane:  I saw one of the guides, Daisy, not wearing any shoes. I asked her where her shoes were. She said on the boat.

Eric:  Then, you told her she was crazy!

Dane:  Yeah, that’s about right.

Eric:  She ran away faster than the animals we were scaring with our talking.

Dane:  Many girls have walked away from me in my life, but none faster than her.

Eric:  I think you just like making fun of poor people.

Dane:  Nothing is more fun than making fun of a 47%-er.

Eric:  The election also happened while we were in the Delta.

Dane:  Yeah, it was weird being disconnected from the news during such a monumental event.

Eric:  Our guide made a phone call to try to find out who won. He said, “Obama…probably…I think.”

Dane:  Yeah, he was a little unsure. It made the next 24-hours a bit tense till we discovered there was no “I think” or “probably” about it.

Eric:  Yeah, I’m not sure exactly why he made it seem so close.

Dane:  Back to the impromptu walking safari. We made it to a group of trees near the water. We heard a churning in the water, a loud churning. Then, we saw elephants.

Eric:  That was cool.

Dane:  That was great!

Eric:  Seeing them on foot and up close was definitely a highlight.

Dane:  And then that night was highlight number two, the performance.

Eric:  I loved it! I thought it was terrific. The guides all did a dance performance and sang traditional songs. We were really lucky for them to put that all on for us. The ceremony was really fun.  I even got pulled up to dance!

Dane:  The next day, we were canoed out of the Delta. Some of our group, us included, paid for an extra helicopter ride over the Delta which I really enjoyed. We covered lots of ground and saw lots of game.

Eric:  We also got a new perspective on the Delta. It is massive. It’s hard to tell where you are and where you are going as you brush past the reeds through the small canals, but from above you can see it all.

Dane:  Yeah, I agree. It was a nice way to cap off the whole experience before setting off to our next destination.

Safari

20 Nov

There are a couple of things that deserve special mention from our two week safari:  the Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls. They will get their own posts. For now, we’ll just focus on the rest of the two-plus week journey.

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Dane:  What is your vote for the worst aspect of the safari? What was the best non-Delta/Vic Falls aspect of the safari?

Eric:  The worst:  being in a tent for 15 or whatever days. The best is hard to choose. I loved the people. I loved the animals. I loved our crew.

Dane:  The tent is an obvious choice for worst. Setting it up. Taking it down. Not sleeping in a bed. The bugs. The dirt. The sand. There were a lot of good things on the safari, but the best by definition can only be one thing. What is it?

Eric:  What is yours?

Dane:  The animals. That’s the point of going on a safari, isn’t it? Our guides made the safari better. The other people on safari with us made it better. But the best thing? The animals. It has to be.

Eric:  Yeah, we saw a ton of game and were lucky enough to see some very rare things.  The African dog is endangered and incredible difficult to spot.  We saw a baby elephant that had just been killed by a lion and was still warm!  We even saw some black rhinos which are also nearly extinct!

Dane:  Nearly extinct because they have the propensity to walk toward humans when they smell them, a cruel twist of evolution.

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Over the course of our safari, President Obama was reelected, Dane turned 25, and Alan flew to Cape Town. Yes, Alan flew to Cape Town to rejoin us on our trip around the world. Somehow that is the biggest non-safari thing that happened during the last two-plus weeks. He missed Petra and the Pyramids, but now he’s baaaaaaaccckk!  …  and hopefully has brought us some sort of “sorry for abandoning you guys for a girl” peace offering.

The safari was terrific. We met a whole crew of great people on both legs of the journey and saw some incredible things. It was well worth the experience, but it’s time for regular showers, reliable wi-fi, and a bed and pillow again.