Is Toronto Home??

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
Trip End Oct 06, 2013

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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Saturday, March 9, 2013

Landing in at Pearson airport was a bit sad. It was nice to be home (although I'm not sure it feels like home anymore), but the screeching tires on the tarmac marked the official end to Part 1 of our world tour. We're going to try to stabilize the Canadian government by paying our taxes for the last couple of years, catch up with friends who long ago routed all of our emails to their spam filter (DH who??), and hit the nearest gym to see if we can rediscover well hidden six packs. That said, it does feel like the adventure is over (at least temporarily). It seems a good time to look back over the last couple of years with misty eyes and to try and list some of the highlights:

The Top 10 Man-made WOW's We've Seen On This Trip
  1. Angkor Wat (Cambodia)- the centrepiece is a massive Khmer temple complex. Imagining it at the height of the Khmer Empire brings it alive
  2. The Grand Palace (Thailand)- every building gleams in the bright sun- it's a visual sensationThe Grand Palace
  3. Okunoin Cemetery (Japan)- the largest cemetery in Japan is set in a lush forest on a mountain side and spans the ages
  4. Sydney Opera House (Australia)- outside of the Eiffel Tower, there's probably no other landmark that is more closely identified with the city that houses it
  5. U.S.S. Midway (United States)- This massive floating city has a long and proud history stretching all the way back to WWII
  6. Petronas Towers (Malaysia)- the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004, these towers make for the most spectacular building profile at night
  7. Rice Terraces (Philippines)- engineering marvel of never-ending terraces covering mountainsides in the north of Luzon
  8. Cu Chi Tunnels (Vietnam)- The tunnels of Cu Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels that, in no small measure, contributed to the defeat of the Americans
  9. The Tower Bridge (England)- an iconic symbol of London itself and a poignant reminder of a once powerful empire
  10. The White Temple/Wat Rong Khun (Thailand)- an unexpected WOW. It seemed to explode out of nowhereThe White Temple
 The Top 10 Natural WOW's We've Seen On This Trip
  1. Halong Bay (Vietnam)- saw it in the mist and haze- just the way you're supposed to see these limestone guardians       
  2. Great Barrier Reef (Australia)- lives up to its hefty reputation
  3. Mekong River (Laos & Thailand)- a slow boat ride showed this mighty river in all its glory- hopefully the surrounding countries leave it in peace
  4. Sepik River (Papua New Guinea)- life along the river is much the same as it has been for hundreds of years
  5. Gobi Desert (Mongolia)- a green desert with varied landscapes that was home to some of the last true nomads in the world
  6. Pacific Ocean- six days on the ocean with no land in sight and it never ceased to amaze
  7. Himalayas (Nepal)- home to some of the planet's highest peaks, including the highest, Mount Everest, the Himalayas include over a hundred mountains exceeding 7,200 metres (23,600 ft) in height  
  8. Amazon River (Brazil)- there's no other body of water in the world with the mystique and intrigue of this mighty river
  9. Mount Pinatubo (Philippines)- the massive volcano that shook the world in 1991, it ejected roughly 10,000,000,000 tons of ash and changed the climate worldwide
  10. Aussie Outback (Australia)- miles and miles of empty spaces with Uluru as a destination, and all the while you felt like one of the original explorers
 The Top 10 WOW Experiences We've Had On This Trip
  1. Slow boat down the Mekong River (Laos & Thailand)
  2. Overwhelmed by the kids at the Full Tummy Farms Orphanage (Cambodia)
  3. Cheering authentic Mongol wrestling, archery, and horse race competitions at the Naadaam festival (Mongolia)
  4. Gyrating through the night at Carnival, one of the biggest, best, noisiest, and most colourful parties/parades in the world (Brazil)
  5. Blowing bubbles at a Manta Ray cleaning station surrounded by ocean gliders (Yap)
  6. Transfixed by the colour & chaos of the very unique Mt Hagan Sing-Sing (Papua New Guinea)
  7. Completing a very scary skywalk around the outside of the Auckland Skytower (New Zealand)
  8. In Trongsa, watching one of the most authentic festivals we've ever seen- almost a medieval feel to it (Bhutan)
  9. Paragliding through the awe inspiring Himalayan Mountain range (Nepal)
  10. Watching the Sumo wrestling championship in the heart of Tokyo (Japan)
 The Top 10 WOW Cities We've Seen On This Trip
  1. San Diego (United States)- a little on the expensive side, the charm and appeal of this naval town put it squarely on our list of potential retirement destinations
  2. Bangkok (Thailand)- the name itself just screams exotic and this hectic, old/modern city certainly delivers
  3. London (England)- it wasn't hard to see this city as the majestic centre of the worlds biggest empire
  4. Melbourne (Australia)- a very livable city with Aussie hospitality and a fixation on outdoor sports- my not-so-secret admirer lives there so I had to mention it
  5. Singapore- another city that ended up on our potential retirement list. It really surprised us with just how much there is to do and see                                                             Singapore At Night
  6. Siem Reap (Cambodia)- yes it's overrun by tourists, particularly during peak season, but it seems to handle the hoards with ease and delivers a chilled vibe
  7. Taipei (Taiwan)- often overlooked, this proud city was full of the old, the new, and the somewhat bizarre
  8. Vancouver (Canada)- when the sun is shining, it has to be the most beautiful city in the world; lots to see, do, and experience
  9. Tokyo (Japan)- yes, you can see grey workaholic side of the city but at the same time there's a quirky surprise around every bustling corner
  10. Porto (Portugal)- medieval Europe comes alive in this old city along the river and you can never have enough sardine dinners           
                                              Scenic Porto
The Top 10 WOW Hotels We've Seen On This Trip
  1. Marina Bay Sands (Singapore)- This hotel made the hotel all-time WOW list as well. Big splurge, big WOW                                                                                                Marina Bay Sands
  2. Chaaya Wild Yala (Yala, Sri Lanka)- there's not many places in Asia that you can still experience really good wildlife safaris
  3. My Dream Boutique Hotel (Luang Prabang, Laos)- not the greatest name but a really nice hotel in a really nice town, with a really nice hostess
  4. Nika Island Resort (Kudafolhudhoo, Maldives)- an over-the-water villa on one of the idyllic Maldives islands- nuff said?
  5. Decepticon Spaceship (Australia)- our hotel on wheels/camper van- a great way to see Oz and discover a huge camper van subculture Our Hotel On Wheels
  6. Hung Homestay (Can Tho, Vietnam)- probably the most comfortable straw hut we've ever stayed in
  7. Shojoshin-in Buddhist Temple (Mt Koya, Japan)- a couple of very unique days spent with the monks complete with ceremonies and vegan meals
  8. Gobi Desert Ger (Mongolia)- not our most comfortable sleep but how cool is it to bunk down in the same sort of accommodation as Genghis Khan
  9. Native Village Inn (Banaue, Philippines)- ancient native Ifugao cottages with views out to the surrounding Hapao rice terraces
  10. Obidos Castle (Obidos, Portugal)- a well preserved walled village that was an ideal place for the Princess aka DH to experience the life of royalty
  11. Obidos Castle
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Tina on

I will miss reading about your adventures and ability to travel through your photographs. I look forward to stage 2. Enjoy catching up with friends and family and look forward to the six pack update :)

Jim Mackrell on

Amazingly enjoyable blog. Your photos are great. High enough definition to appreciate. Breakfast or lunch a must before you leave. You circle the globe with all of us in tow.

CarolC on

WOW, so many Wow's it is amazing! What am I going to do each morning now that you are back home? I have been living my life vicariously through you and feel as if I am travelling with you when I read and see all those amazing pictures. Hurry up and pay your taxes and get back on the road!!! I need more of the world from your perspective. And yes thanks for adding my beautiful city of Melbourne (oh damn now everyone knows who your secret admirer is!!) Love to both of you and enjoy your time at home!

Deb P on

I, on the other hand, am selfishly happy to have you home and will keep you here as long as possible.


Roland Pauksens on

I hold both of you in awe - I will miss reading the posts while on the other hand I know it is temporary and the upside is that we have you both back in the big city for a break and a chance to meet live - Cheers - RP -

Bruce S on

Unbelievable journey you two. Everyone back home liviing vicariously through your travels while we all slave away back here. There are not too many who have the ambition and the fortitude to do a journey like that. Congratulations.

Vic and gloria Omaha, NE on

Really enjoyed our dinner at Lemon Zest, Jaco, Costa Rica and chats in the
Monte Carlo pool. You are a great inspiration to Gloria and I. We are working up
our nerve to sell the house and cars and follow you into the adventure of world travel.

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