What Have We Been Up To?
The time away from our professional careers has not only given us the opportunity to travel, but also the capacity to learn new skills. We built this website, cultivated a growing Instagram following, and started a YouTube channel. With these channels we have actually started working with partners including a travel visa company and several tour operators. Most recently in Mongolia, we helped an agency develop content and strategy for ITB Asia, their first international trade show for travel in the Asia market.
We have really loved working on and updating our blog. In many ways it extends the joy we get from each experience.
- The joy of looking forward when researching and planning for each trip.
- The joy of the experience when we’re on the trip.
- The joy of reflection that writing and reading about the trip gives us.
We take turns writing and editing each post and love getting to understand each other’s perspective through their writing. Jesse’s posts tend to focus more on the history, politics, and economic development of a place- he also tends to weave humor into his stories. Quan’s posts focus more on the food, culture and landscapes – she tends to find the drama or romance in any situation and tries to weave that into the story.
We have traveled to some pretty remote areas which entails not only long flights, but also hours spent on trains and cars to reach these far flung places. It’s given us a lot of time to think, write, read, and listen. Below are some of our top recommendations:
- Locked Up Abroad
- PBS Newshour (to stay on top of US news while we are away)
- To get an intimate look into medina life in Morocco: A Street in Marrakech
- To understand the history of Shanghai’s French Concession: The Street of Eternal Happiness
- To understand why Mongolians revere Genghis Khan so much: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
- For a trip to Nepal, this book is part spiritual journey part mountain adventure: The Snow Leopard
Where Have We Been?
MONTH 1 – US National Parks, Turkey, and The “Stans”
In our first month, we bid goodbye to our home in Denver and set off to hike US National Parks including Zion, Bryce, and the Grand Canyon. Before leaving the US, we spent time with our families in New York and Virginia. From there we explored Istanbul, had a short stop in Kazakhstan, and then set off on the famed Pamir Highway. Formally known as the M41, the highway runs through the Pamir Mountains from Tajikistan to Kyrgystan along the northern border of Afghanistan. The hairpin mountain turns put the drive on the list of world’s most dangerous highways. The region is bordered by the Hindu Kush mountain range and gave us a glimpse into pastoral life as well as access to hikes through rugged untouched trails. Following this, we traveled to eastern Kyrgystan and rode horses in the Terksai Ala-Too range of the Tien Shan mountain.
On the summit trail to Ala Kol Lake (3,560M/ 11,500Ft), Quan befriended a pediatric neurosurgeon from Israel who happened to be a Medtronic customer. It was surreal in this remote region of the world, to be reminded of her work and how much she valued getting to work with surgeons.
MONTH 2 – Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Morocco
From there we spent a week exploring Crete, Greece, discovered charming Sofia, Bulgaria, attended a wedding in Verona, Italy, and visited the Alahambra in Grenada, Spain. We road-tripped across Morocco, navigated the medinas of Tangier, Fez, and Marrakesh, camped in the Sahara, and summitted Mt Toubkal (4,100M/13,600Ft ) the highest peak in North Africa and the Arab World. For the Jewish High Holidays we went on a search for an active synagogue in primarily Muslim Morocco and in return received an amazing education of Jewish communities of past and present around the world.
MONTH 3 – US, Mongolia, China, Nepal
We then made a quick return to the US for my integral coaching course at New Venture West. From there, we start the Asian leg of our travels. In Mongolia, we experienced nomadic life in ger camps across the Gobi, climbed the highest sand dunes in Mongolia, hiked canyons that were once seabeds, touched four-thousand year old petroglyphs, and stood in reverence of ancient monasteries that were destroyed and then restored as Mongolia transitioned from communism to democracy. In Beijing we hiked Jianguo, the “wild” section of the Great Wall of China and are currently in Shanghai French Concession reconnecting with old friends before setting off to Nepal to hike the Himalayas.
Who Have We Met?
Simply put, we have met THE MOST AMAZING PEOPLE in the world. It is the memories we shared with them that we will cherish the most at the end of this trip:
- Abdi the abdominal surgeon who moonlights as a Pamir Highway driver. He was our guide, protector and friend during our time in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. No matter how long the drives were he always made time when individuals in the village sought him out for medical advice.
- Bayaman the two year old nomad who led our horses across the Tienshan Mountains- he was as adorable as he was brave.
- Husein, Husein, and Rachid in Imlil whose humor and hospitality made a little mountain town in Morocco feel like home
- Our amazing crew in Mongolia for whom we have already written a love letter
- Our dear friends Oihane and Aitor who met us in Kyrgyzstan and Helen and David who met us in Morocco. It was great to see familiar faces in such far away lands.
- Finally, the random strangers we met along the way who became friends over the course of a meal or a cup of coffee and the many children we met who inspired us with their joy and wonder.