When we arrived in Japan on a balmy summer day, we were prepared to step into a quirky futuristic wonderland, where cartoon characters roam the street, social order is near perfection, space age trains run faster than a speeding bullet, and temples are made from sushi. Fortunately for us, the country we uncovered was exactly nearly what we had been dreaming of. The following seven reasons capture why travel in this fantasy world is so special.
Wild Japan is amazingly gorgeous. The expansive wilderness is everywhere, ranging from lush green forests to rugged volcanic peaks. But the best part? The country’s national parks are relatively unknown to foreigners. These are not the National Parks in the US, where people travel from all over the world. But the beauty of Japan outside of the cities is among the most epic, pristine and unique. This is a hiking destination that should be on even the most avid hikers and nature lovers trekking list.
“The road to peace, from the beginning of the fire started.” The sign was trying to tell us something, but exactly what was up for debate. We could narrow it down to either instructions, directions, prohibitions, or perhaps an ancient Chinese proverb. Regardless of its message, it was hilarious. Chinglish signs like these are all over China and made travel in this misunderstood country, well, still misunderstood.
The Great Wall snaked ahead as far as we could see, following the most difficult path across mountains with impossibly steep ridge lines. We were trekking atop 2,200 years of history, where numerous dynasties defended the borders of modern day China. Many phases eventually left almost 10,000 kilometers crossing the country. It was built to stop invasion from barbarian nomads, and close to 500,000 people had died during its construction. The very wall that had faced the Mongols now made our trail through wild North China.
The sword arced methodically, shining brightly in the morning light. People were all around, paying little attention as she swung the meter long blade on the sidewalk with unwavering concentration. This was not a show, this was just another day on the streets in China.
The Yangtze River raged beneath us, but the sheer depth of the canyon silenced the churning rapids at our vantage in the cliffs above. Trekking through Tiger Leaping Gorge kept us on the literal edge. With towering mountains plunging almost 4,000 meters directly into the waters below, a thin path snaking around the rock face provided the only path forward.
We stood high in the mountains of Southern China, surrounded by some of the world’s most incredible rice terraces. These paddies had been built over 600 years earlier and continued to be farmed to this day. We had the perfect view as the mist rolled across the valley below, making the water in the fields shimmer in the golden light. These were the famous Longi Rice Terraces, and we had traveled halfway around the globe for this sight. After stops in Hong Kong and Yangshuo, our trip in China was off to a fantastic start.
India is a different world in every way. The sites, smells, sounds, culture and architecture all stand apart from those found in any other country we have visited. It has a blend of the most amazing and most uncomfortable experiences, making it a destination for travelers who are not faint of heart or stomach. If you are prepared for the adventure, don’t miss these 15 must see places during your visit.
Every old man on the bus was demanding “MOVE, you and your big ass backpacks are blocking the aisle!”. Or at least what we assumed they were saying. In reality, a half dozen agitated men plus another few women were all pointing at us and demanding something incomprehensible through broken teeth in a language which was probably one of India’s 22 official languages. It seemed that everyone wanted us to move somewhere other than where we were standing in our hard won spots in the bus aisle. The only thing between us and moving anywhere were the other 1.4 billion people standing in the aisle with us. But they weren’t the problem, just us. We had fought to get on this bus as it rattled past, barely slowing to allow the hordes of riders to enter. One of us had to dive into the back door while the other sprinted towards the front entrance where there was a just enough of an open step to hold a body braced against the doorway. It seemed that everyone in India was between the two of us as we rode the only bus with enough room, hoping it was going in the right direction. Even the family of five sharing the single seat moped to our left looked quite a bit more comfortable.
We are trying really hard to enjoy India, but it is difficult. We have visited over 50 countries and our month and a half in India has been amongst the least endearing. This is tough to admit as a traveler since every country is supposed to be mystical, tantalizing, or some other rubbish term meant to conjure magic feelings in a land far far away. Occasionally, a country can feel more like a visit to a trash pile and smell like urine. When we arrived in Delhi, our expectations of grandeur were quickly replaced with thoughts of escape to, well, anywhere else.
Have you ever dreamed of trekking through the Himalayan Mountains, surrounded by some of the highest peaks on Earth? We lived out this dream recently, marking one of the most incredible experiences imaginable. Read further for detailed information about trekking the Annapurna Circuit, including everything you need to know to arrive prepared.
We spent eight days having one of the most amazing experiences the world has to offer. We had been dreaming of trekking through the famed Himalayan Mountains for years, and made sure to build our round the world itinerary around a visit to Nepal. We decided to tackle the Annapurna Sanctuary with a destination of Annapurna Base Camp for our first trek in the country. This route takes you amongst some of the highest mountains on earth which culminates below an amphitheater of peaks and offers an experience unlike trekking anywhere else in the world.