A year (and 2 weeks — as always, we are a little behind on the blogging front), we left Korea and set out on our longest ‘vacation’ to date. Over the year, we’ve experienced some extremes: the longest travel days, hottest temperatures, and cheapest meals.
In honour of the milestone, this post is dedicated to all the superlatives of our trip; the ‘most’s and ‘-est’s that have made our year so flipping cool.
Hottest Day: Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India
We traveled in Rajasthan in May — hot season. All five cities we visited were pretty stinkin’ hot, but Jaisalmer was by far the most extreme. During our few days there, the temperature hit 50°C more than once, sending even the hardiest locals running (well, staggering) to the shade. Phew.
Longest Hike: Annapurna Circuit, 211km
We’ve written plenty about the Annapurna Circuit here, here, here, and here. All in all, it was not only by far the longest hike I’ve ever done, but hands-down the best.
Highest Point: Thorung La, 17,769′ (5,416 m), Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
On April 7th, we dragged our butts out of our beds at high camp at 4am, hiked through the snow past multiple false summits, and eventually danced on the highest navigable mountain pass in the world.
Friendliest People: Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
While wandering the streets of Jodhpur, I managed to wander straight into a sewer-filled gutter, losing my jandal in the process. A kindly gentleman, seeing me scrabbling around in the poop for the lost jandal (they were new, okay?) stuck his hand right in and scrabbled with me. Once we found it, this motley crew escorted me to a tap and rinsed off my feet.
And not one of my rescuers tried to sell me anything. Woah.
Best Day Hike: Tongariro Crossing
Some pretty rubbish weather put a spanner in our plans to do the Northern Circuit in late 2012, but the Tongariro Crossing was not a bad consolation prize. The views were insane, the scroggin was plentiful, and the company was fantastic.
Longest Land Journey: 30 hrs (Train from Delhi to Goa)
We traveled almost exclusively by train in India — they’re cheap, comfortable, and safe. We mostly stuck to the second class sleepers, but I splashed out on a first class ticket for this day-and-a-half long trip. $30 for 30 hours worth of a/c, free water, and free meals.
Most Beautiful View: Gyaru, Nepal
This was an insanely difficult one to judge. In fact, we very nearly drove ourselves crazy poring through our Annapurna albums and trying to find one picture we didn’t think qualified. We walked up to Gyaru in a snowstorm, and woke up to this.
Cheapest Meal: Aloo Tikka Masala, Jaipur, India
We bought these amazing little piles of potato-y, chana-y, cilantro-y goodness at a street stall in Jaipur for 20c a piece. Plus, unlike some other equally cheap street food offerings, Aloo Tikka has more than enough tummy-filling power to count as an entire meal.
Cheapest Room: Hotel Greenland, Pokhara, Nepal
Our double room tucked behind this glorious garden set us back a whopping $3.50 a night. There was no light in the bathroom, sure, but the plentiful crops of marijuana more than made up for that.
Cheapest Beer: Beer Hanoi, Vietnam
Fifty cents a bottle, and pretty darn tasty. We heart Ha Noi beer!
Cutest Kid: Dancing kid, Village near Kalaw, Myanmar
I’m not quite sure how it started, but I ended up having an impromptu dance-off with this rather androgynous wee cherub in a village between Kalaw and Inle Lake, Myanmar. She/he put up a good fight, but ended up with her bum in the dirst trying to mimic one of my more complex moves.
Smallest School: Ngawal, Nepal
Ngawal Secondary School, at an altitude of 3700m, is home to three students and an incredibly enthusiastic principal, who almost recruited us as English teachers. Maybe next year…
Dirtiest River: Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu might just be my favourite city in the whole wide world, but clean it sure ain’t. Swim, anyone?
Largest Portion of Rice: New Marwadi Restaurant, Pokhara, Nepal
This was the waiter’s response to ‘Does your dal bhat come with free refills?’ I’ll take that as a yes. Perhaps the only serving of rice ever to defeat me.
Grooviest animal: ‘Mark Hammel the Camel’ in Jaisalmer, India
We (like everyone who has ever visited Jaisalmer) went on an overnight camel safari through the desert. All the camels were pretty great, but this dude had a particularly charming grin.
Raddest School Name: ‘Cosmic Brontosaurus’, Pokhara, Nepal
….and there you have it! We set the bar pretty high this year. Now it’s almost time for us to stop for a bit and replenish our bank accounts in preparation for the next adventure. It’s got a lot to live up to.