Us in Golden Bay, New Zealand

Our 2013 Country Run-Down

It’s nearing the end of the year and like most people, Andrew and I have been reflecting on what we’ve achieved in 2013 and looking forward to what 2014 holds. This year was very special for us because we finally got out on the road and started travelling full-time; since leaving the UK in March we’ve had the most incredible, extreme ten months of our lives – it’s been tougher yet more rewarding than we ever imagined it would be. Here’s a look back at the places we’ve visited in 2013 and what we loved about them.

New Zealand

The view from Ben Lomand, Queenstown

Where we went: Auckland, Paihia, Keri Keri, Tairua, Raglan, Rotorua, Taupo, Tongariro, Wellington, Golden Bay, Franz Joseph, Fox Glacier, Queenstown, Christchurch.

Length of stay: one month.

What we loved: pretty much everything but particularly the spectacular scenery, the laid-back atmosphere and cleanliness.

What we didn’t love: the prices; accommodation, activity and basic food costs made New Zealand our most expensive country to date, you can take a look at exactly what we spent in our cost post.

Fave places: Golden bay, Queenstown, Taupo and Raglan.

Top travel experiences:  Skydiving, hiking the Tongariro crossing, the Rock Boat Overnight Cruise.


Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House

Where we went: Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, Sydney, Cairns, Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation, Townsville, Airlie Beach, Rockhampton, 1770, Hervey Bay, Brisbane, Surfers Paradise, Byron Bay.

Length of stay: five weeks.

What we loved: the amazing bustling cities, staying with Andrew’s family for a week, holding a koala and meeting all the weird and wonderful animals.

What we didn’t love: the backpacker party scene, the prices and the long distances from one place to the next.

Fave places: Melbourne, Hervey Bay, Sydney.

Top travel experiences: Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, the Neighbours Tour and Trivia Night, visiting Lone Pine and Featherdale wildlife parks.


Ubud Bali

Where we went: Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Kuta, Ubud, Kerobokan, Gili Islands and Senggigi.

Length of stay: six weeks.

What we loved: the prices; as you can see in our cost post, Indonesia was our cheapest country to date. The weather was also incredible while we were there and we saw some spectacular scenery.

What we didn’t love: Jakarta, culture shock, giant spiders, being hassled.

Fave places: Ubud.

Top travel experiences: the Bali Eco-Cycling Tour, our Midnight Tour of Mount Bromo, visiting Borobodour.


View from the Longhouse, Malaysia

Where we went: Kuala Lumpur, Borneo: Kuching, Batang Ai, Sri Aman, Lahad Datu, Danum Valley, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu.

Length of stay: three weeks.

What we loved: the friendliest people we’ve come across so far, amazing wildlife in Borneo, getting off the beaten track and feeling at home in Kuala Lumpur.

What we didn’t love: over-priced, bad quality hotels, the food – apart from one stand-out meal at Bike and Tours in Lahad Datu.

Fave places: Kuching, Danum Valley, Kuala Lumpur.

Top travel experiences: staying in a longhouse and sleeping out in the jungle in Batang Ai, staying at a scientific field camp in Danum Valley, our river boat tours in Kinabatangan.

The Philippines

Banaue Rice Terraces, the Philippines

Where we went: Manila, Bohol and Panglao, Banaue, Batad, Sagada, Baguio city.

Length of stay: three weeks.

What we loved: pretty much everything; the landscape, the polite people, the mountains, food and incredible treks.

What we didn’t love: the cockroaches, the overnight bus from Manila to Banaue, Baguio city.

Fave places: Sagada, Banaue, Batad, Bohol.

Top travel experiences: Hiking the Batad Rice Terraces, going caving in Sagada, visiting the Chocolate Hills.


The River Kwai, Kanchanaburi

Where we went: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi, Pai, Chiang Rai, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi, Surat Thani.

Length of stay: three months.

What we loved: the comfort and ease of travel, meeting up with friends and family, staying in an apartment in Chiang Mai, finding great food.

What we didn’t love: overnight trains and buses, some overpriced taxis and tuk tuks and the negative effects of tourism such as rubbish on the beaches.

Fave places: Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi, Pai.

Top travel experiences: Volunteering at the Dog Recue Project, visiting the Elephant Nature Park, riding the Death Railway in Kanchanaburi (Amy), visiting Erawan national park (Andrew).


Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang

Where we went: Huay Xai, Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Phonsavanh, Xam Neua.

Length of stay: one month.

What we loved: the extremely laid-back people and atmosphere, cheap prices, baguettes, the non-touristy feel, the history.

What we didn’t love: some of the food, the bus journeys and the ATM fees.

Fave places: Luang Prabang, Phonsavanh, Luang Namtha.

Top travel experiences: the Vieng Xai cave tour, our trip to the Kuang Si waterfall, visiting the plain of jars.

A Look Forward to 2014…

We’re rounding off the year by spending a month in Vietnam before heading to Cambodia and swinging back through Southern Laos. Towards the end of February we’ll be flying to Burma before spending a month in Thailand, re-visiting the Philippines and finally exploring Taiwan before heading back to the UK for a three-month visit. In September 2014 the next phase of our adventure will begin when we move back to Asia to work for a year – something tells me 2014 is going to be just as incredible as 2013!

So, where have you been in 2013? Here are the awesome places some of our fellow bloggers have visited:

The Nomadic Family – Oh, the places you’ll go – everywhere we’ve been on the globe
Travel with Bender – How many countries did we travel in the last 574 days?
World Travel Family – How many countries have you been to?
Wagoners Abroad – No Schengen visa for Wagoners Abroad 2013
Renegade Travels – End of year review
Great Big Scary World – 2013: teach, cycle, get arrested, raft, get arrested, start again
Ramble Crunch – So, how many countries have we been to?
Act of Traveling – 20 years of travel: the places we have visited
Capturing la Vita – Our Favourite Family Spots in Tuscany for 2013

  • Manfred
    Posted at 04:14h, 21 December Reply

    We visited half of those this year. Hope to get to a few of the others next year. Now I’ve added the Neighbours Tour to my list of things to do. LOL.

    • Andrew
      Posted at 04:46h, 21 December Reply

      It’s definitely worth doing Manfred, the Neighbours Tour and Trivia Night were awesome. 🙂

  • Alyson
    Posted at 09:30h, 21 December Reply

    I see we agree on Malaysian food ( blegh!) and crappy yet expensive accommodation. Happy Christmas guys!

    • Andrew
      Posted at 09:41h, 21 December Reply

      Yes we do Alyson. Happy holidays to you and the family. Hope you find somewhere nice to stay. 🙂

  • Heidi Wagoner
    Posted at 10:34h, 21 December Reply

    This is great! I love the format you followed so we can easily see what you liked and didn’t like for each place. You are a fun couple to follow and thanks for sharing all of your amazing adventures and costs!

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:25h, 22 December Reply

      Thanks Heidi! We love following your journey too.

  • Jamie
    Posted at 13:31h, 21 December Reply

    What an amazing year and some really lovely photos. I am jealous of all your Asian adventures and am flying out there myself before the end of this year, hoping to spend much of 2014 in a part of the world I love.

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:27h, 22 December Reply

      Thanks Jamie, our first year on the road was more incredible than we ever anticipated and has only inspired us to fill as many more years with travel as we can. Exciting to hear you’re heading back to Asia!

  • Erin Bender (Travel With Bender)
    Posted at 08:54h, 22 December Reply

    We obviously went to the wrong places in the Philippines, one month in Manila and I was ready to never go back. 3 days in Boracay & I can’t wait to go back 😀 Merry Christmas & Happy 2014 travels! 😀

    • Andrew
      Posted at 12:34h, 22 December Reply

      Thanks Erin, we didn’t spend long in Manila, although we should have explored more. Happy holidays to you and the family! 🙂

  • Patti
    Posted at 22:00h, 24 December Reply

    You’ve done some major exploring in the past 10 years and I’m glad to have followed the adventure. Did you land teaching jobs for September 2014?

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:58h, 25 December Reply

      Thanks Patti! We haven’t landed jobs yet, we’ll start looking into that when we visit Taiwan in May – fingers crossed it works out!

      • Patti
        Posted at 04:35h, 28 December Reply

        Ha! Ha! I just realized I wrote 10 years instead of 10 months. My bad. Good luck with the teaching gigs, I hope you land exactly what you’re looking for.

        • Amy
          Posted at 12:08h, 28 December Reply

          I thought that’s what you meant 🙂 Thanks for the nice wishes too.

  • Emiel
    Posted at 15:50h, 27 December Reply

    Wow, you have big plans! Looking forward to hearing about the place you intend to return to in Asia for work… Our family keeps on investigating new destinations but almost every year we return to Asia…you now also know why! Great run down.

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:27h, 28 December Reply

      Yes, we definitely know why! It isn’t definite yet but we are hoping to make a decision about which country to settle in for a year once we’ve visited Taiwan in May.

  • Renee - RambleCrunch
    Posted at 00:50h, 28 December Reply

    What an excellent year! Laos sounds worth a visit. I haven’t been yet but keep hearing great things about it. Happy travels to you in 2014. 🙂

    • Amy
      Posted at 04:29h, 28 December Reply

      Laos is very different to the other countries surrounding it; very, very laid back and slow paced. Definitely worth a look! We’ll be back to sample more ourselves in Feb.

  • Brendan van Son
    Posted at 03:19h, 02 January Reply

    Wow, an awesome year! I’ve got a bunch of these places on my travel plans for 2014, so this has me really stoked!
    All the best in the New Year!

    • Andrew
      Posted at 04:46h, 02 January Reply

      Thanks Brendan, hope you Have a great 2014 filled with travel too.

  • gabi (the nomadic family)
    Posted at 22:34h, 05 January Reply

    hi kiddos. i love how you break down the year with a photo and then what you liked, didn’t like, favorite place and the rest. how sweetly you organize your life. can you teach me how? what a marvelous adventure you’ve had this year. what a joy to be able to witness it. proud of you two. gabi

    • Amy
      Posted at 05:04h, 06 January Reply

      Thanks Gabi! We certainly have had a marvelous adventure – can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!

  • Laurel- Capturing la Vita
    Posted at 13:41h, 15 January Reply

    What a beautiful adventure! I really love how you put all of this together. We are hoping to visit SEA soon, and this is a wonderful overview of your experiences. Good to know about the spiders and roaches 🙂 Cheers to an experience-filled 2014!

    • Amy
      Posted at 14:17h, 15 January Reply

      Thanks Laurel; yes, definitely watch out for the spiders and roaches in SEA!

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