What better time than now?
My wife, Maddy, and I had always talked about traveling around the world. I think everybody does at some point. But we didn’t just want to talk about traveling our entire lives and wait until we were old and retired to actually do it. So, when Maddy finished her PhD, I quit my job, we put all our belongings in storage, and we took off for Japan.
We spent two weeks in efficient, clean, well-designed Japan. We utilized the impressive train system to travel around Tokyo, Hiroshima, Miyazaki, Takachiho, Hemiji, Osaka, and Kyoto. We loved Japan and the food. I could eat raw tuna everyday for the rest of my life!
Bangkok was a harsh awakening after the clean efficiency of Japan. We traveled by train and bus to the rainforests of Khao Sok National Park and the beaches at Ao Nang. Our favorite was Khao Sok, where we spent a night in a floating pontoon cabin and saw monkeys and toucans.
Singapore is some kind of futuristic utopian mega-city. The entire city is a perfectly manicured garden. The zoo was particularly impressive—you can just walk into some of the enclosures with the animals!
We spent a couple days in Kuala Lumpur as a stopover between Singapore and India. We really enjoyed it!
We flew into Delhi, met up with our college friend, and a few hours laters were on our way to the Himalayas. Ladakh is a region of Kashmir in northern India, and the capital city of Leh is at 11,000 feet! The mountain landscape was vast and profoundly beautiful. We hiked to mountaintop buddhist monasteries and listened to monks chant prayers. This was our favorite week of the entire trip.
After our time in Ladakh, we began a month-long trek across central and western India. India felt lawless and wild, with its confronting poverty, dirt-cheap prices, and colorful people. We saw the Ajanta and Ellora caves of college art history class lore. We also visited Mumbai and the Rajasthani cities of Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer.
The United Arab Emirates
We were lucky to have two weeks of rest and relaxation in Abu Dhabi, where my wife’s parents currently live. We visited the beautiful grand mosque, lavish hotels, and the expansive, empty desert.
We spent three weeks island-hopping by ferry in Greece, starting, actually, in Bodrum, Turkey. The Greek islands are some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. We visited Kos, Santorini, Naxos, Paros, and Tinos. We ended in Athens for a week.
The food in Italy is amazing. We ate pizza nearly every day of the two weeks we spent in Naples. From Naples, we took day trips to Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, and Caserta before making our way to Rome. We had the good fortune to stay with a family friend in Rome and later traveled with them to Tuscany to help pick olives for the yearly harvest. We took the train to spend one night in Florence before making our way to Turin, where we took a day trip to go hiking in the Alps.
Maddy’s family gathered in Abu Dhabi for an early Christmas, and we took a family trip to Oman. It was interesting to learn the history of a culture that developed in such a hot, harsh environment. This was our last stop before returning to the U.S. and real life.
It’s Good to be Back
Taking sixth months off from life to travel the world was a transformative experience. However, I found myself craving the sense of purpose of having a job to do. I find my work as a UX designer fulfilling, and I’m glad to be back in a work-day routine.
My wife Maddy and I on our honeymoon in Hawaii near the peak of Mauna Loa.