Welcome to the "Off the Face : A Journey of Epic Proportions" Travel Blog.
For 6 years now I've been exploring new regions around the world, at times pushing myself out of the comfort zone for sure. The sights and sounds and smells, the historical places and structures, the beautiful and interesting people, and the religions and cultures that I've learned about during this time has been phenomenal. It has been a great experience to expose our children to some of these destinations as well, and they have become quite travel savvy. This time we are taking it to a new level, thus the phrase "A Journey of Epic Proportions" -- a little dramatic, I suppose, but all in good fun. But it really is a trip like no other, all custom built by myself -- no travel agents or groups. It involves 4 of us: myself (Robert), my wife Rosanna, our daughter Haley, and her boyfriend Connor. The entire trip encompasses 53 days of travel. Connor will be with us for the first 27 days. Rosanna will join us in Manila for a 18 day trip, and Haley and I will go for the entire 53 days.
This type of travel blog has dual purpose for us. Rather than coming back from a 53 day adventure with countless memories, pictures, and stories to tell, and try to share them all with family & friends at once, it is more fun to share them along the journey.
Additionally, the blog helps to document and organize the details -- those interesting moments or names and places that aren't always easy to recollect once at home. Our intent is to have blog postings every 2-3 days, depending on internet connections, along with pictures for you to follow along if you wish. If you are not interested, please feel welcome to "unsubscribe" and it should remove you from the list without any issue.
78.75 hours in flight time
37,379 miles (precisely 1.5 times the 24,901 mile circumference of the earth at its equator)
Chiang Mai, Thailand
After a 11 hour layover in Vienna, Austria, we'll arrive for our first stay in the city of Chiang Mai. It will be a short stay here of 3 nights and 2 full days, with some Buddhist temple exploration, foodie touring , and a silversmithing class.
I'm looking forward to my return visit to Myanmar, after a short visit 3 years ago with Bobby. This time we will spend 5 days on motorcycles, with our same guide, Sam, from last time -- and using the riding skills I learned from Tim at School of Dirt ! It's all nomadic, roaming place to place, seeing the amazing sights and rustic villages all over the Mandalay & Sagaing regions of Myanmar. Every night is a stay in a different location, traveling about 100 miles per day. We go away from the touristy areas, visiting small local villages and amazing temples everywhere, and travel back in time as ox and cart are still used in some regions. I think Connor and Haley are going to dig on it -- not luxury, not even close -- but really cool sights, very friendly people, language barriers, different foods, extreme weather conditions, and adventures on motorcycle.
It's not considered the ideal time of year for weather in this region. While it is not just hot this time of year, it comes with the added bonus of monsoon humidity. The weather site shows this 90-96 degree temperatures, some rain each day, and "feels like" temperatures of 111 degrees ! Should be interesting !
Rosanna and I look forward to our return visit to the Philippines, and it will be the first for Haley & Connor. Aside from brief stays in Manila, we will spend 2 weeks there, spread between 3 islands in the Central Visayas: Bohol, Cebu and Dauin (Negros island). Our intent here is all centered around some great scuba diving, nice resort living, and of course, karaoke !! I'm looking forward to reuniting with my friends I met on a dive trip in Philippines last year, and have promised them no Trump shirts this time. Connor recently completed his scuba certification, and we're excited to show him a whole other world underwater. It's going to be much more enjoyable with 83 degree water, compared to San Luis Obispo. I'm telling you, Connor, you're going to love it -- you'll just have to endure the karaoke nights, as Haley & I have some experience getting crazy in that scene. And no trouble finding karaoke in this country !
At this point, we will say farewell to Rosanna and Connor, as they depart home from Manila. Haley & I will continue the adventure for our first trip to Africa. First we have a nice stay in Cape Town, which I have read so many good things about. We're looking forward to seeing our friend Jenna, who volunteered with us in Malaysia at a orangutan wildlife center. We're also getting a bit wild with a great white shark cage dive and breaching trip at Seal Island. Hoping to see nature in action with Cape fur seals in their habitat, and hungry great whites flying out of the water. The tour is called "AirJaws" ! The owner is known as "shark legend Rob" and has spent 25 years with expeditions in this area. Haley should gain a good amount of information from him.
Zambia & Malawi, Africa
We then continue to Zambia for a 3 day safari in South Luangwa National Park, with morning and evening game drives. Looking forward to that. Then, to Lilongwe, Malawi for a 2 week volunteering adventure. Haley and I will both provide volunteer work for the 2 week duration at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, but one of the weeks for Haley will encompass a special course: Primate Medicine and Husbandry Wildlife Veterinary Experience. This 1 week course is an intensive hands-on introduction to wildlife veterinary medicine, lead by Malawi's leading wildlife veterinarian. Only 6-8 students in the course, and it includes physical exams, patient monitoring, and sample collection and analysis. It will be a great experience for her as a 4th year animal science student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Our flight home has a connection in Dubai, so why not, let's stay a couple days here ! It seems like the land of extravagance, so we'll check it out. Haley really wants to do an activity involving camels. Then, from there, the 16 hour flight home, which sounds terrible, but I think we'll enjoy this thoroughly in business class on an Emirates A380.
We are all up to date on our Typhoid Fever vaccines, and Haley & I also required the Yellow Fever vaccine for our stay in Zambia. We're not leaving home without our deet, to ward off the hungry mosquitos. Myanmar and Malawi are both malaria regions, so we'll each be on anti-malarial pills and mosquito nets for the duration. For Haley & I, it's challenging to pack for 53 days and everything from wet/humid 95 degree temperatures to the 50's in South Africa since it's their winter. My plan is to pack light, as it's just so much easier to get around that way -- and we'll just adapt as we go, maybe buy clothes here and there as needed -- plus, most of it is rustic and it won't matter how clean or fresh our clothes are. Febreze bottle, check !
It has been 8 months of planning, off and on, and an incredible amount of logistics involved. I've worked through all of the extensive itinerary for all stages, and I feel like it's all been covered. This is almost twice the journey of my prior biggest trip of my life. Do I have some loose screws in my head ? -- quite possibly. But I think this is going to be an epic one -- a trip of a lifetime.
We are really looking forward to the cultural adventures during this journey, meeting other visitors from all over the world, and meeting local people in their local environment and culture. We look forward to some fantastic scuba diving in the Philippines, all new experiences for Connor. And we anticipate having memories for a lifetime.
Away we go, "Off the Face" for a Journey of Epic Proportions ! We hope you enjoy the blog site and our stories. We welcome you to post comments as you wish -- it certainly makes it fun for everyone. See you back home on August 11th !