Guest post: Trip recap

Coconuts in Cambodia

I’d like to start off by declaring it a huge honour to be given posting privileges by wewander hosts Mark and Meghan Gosen. For those who aren’t familiar, myself (Mike Davis is my birth name) and Sarah Davis (my begrudging wife) are long-time bridge partners of Mark and Meghan, turned friends. Since Mark and Meghan left the soils of North America, the friendship has made a transition to more of a stalk-er, stalk-ee relationship. Until February 17th…

Sarah and I booked what was for us a 3-week vacation/reunion with the Gosens in Thailand, with a small, 4-day detour to Cambodia. The flights over consisted of: Ottawa-Toronto, Toronto-Tokyo and Tokyo-Bangkok (we’re sorry for any taint the word ‘flight’ may have on the website and its followers). I don’t know if there is any degree of comfort that could make such a lengthy, claustrophobic experience enjoyable, so I guess you could say that the experience was to be expected. It was made all the more pleasant when we were graced with the surprisingly odour-free presence of Mark and Meghan at the gates of the airport. I guess Merino wool really does work!

The second we arrived, Sarah and I essentially put our navigational tools aside and let Mark and Meghan ‘do their thing’. Although they had only been in Bangkok a handful of hours longer than us, it seemed as though they were navigating via homing signals. It certainly was a nice luxury to be travelling in surroundings which were culturally shocking to Sarah and I without having to worry about small details such as directions. Mark and Meghan had accommodations arranged, a tentative plan set out for our stay and new bridge conventions that made Sarah and I salivate… sorry.

Note: The subsequent views are my own and may not be endorsed by the creators of this website. Keep in mind that I live, and have only ever lived, in North America and have only visited western/western-like civilizations.

Bangkok. I can’t argue, it was certainly worth the visit. There are stark contrasts of lifestyles within the city boundaries, some of which I certainly wasn’t expecting to see. Bangkok provided amazing heat, an array of transportation modes (tuk-tuk, water taxi, sky train), excellent Thai dishes at every turn and some of the busiest markets I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, to go along with all these appealing attractions was the sense that a standard of sanitation was long since forgotten and/or abandoned. Bangkok’s main waterway had limitless garbage floating in it and it was hard to avoid less than desirable aromas in many locations throughout the city.

Angkor

After only a couple of days in Bangkok, we made our way over to Siem Reap in Cambodia for a visit to the Temples of Angkor. Although our stay in Siem Reap was very short and our visit to Angkor Wat was only for a day, I think all of us can safely say it was one of our most enjoyable experiences. We stayed in two very different guest houses, both of which were excellent. Our second guest house included free 30 minute massages for all! For a mere $3 more, you could get an additional hour long massage! Apparently too steep a price for the females, Mark and I essentially signed up for an awkward ‘couples’ massage. Greatly appreciated ladies. (I’ll never forget it Mark).

Awkward indeed

The temples of Angkor were the most elaborate pieces of art we’ve ever seen. Not much justice can be done to describe it (at least by me), but the experience was magical. Because it exists in such a relatively poor and developing country, the access you are granted to explore the temples’ vast grounds is unbelievable. Nothing is blocked off with rope or deemed too dangerous to climb! We climbed the steepest stair cases you can imagine to reach the summits of the temples. It was glorious. To help us navigate the expansive grounds, we had an excellent tuk-tuk driver who operated his own version of the bat mobile! It was great for us because each time we left one site in search of a different one, he was certainly easy to locate. It’s safe to say that Batman (I think we agreed he was the Michael Keaton version) was the best tuk-tuk driver I ever had.

Climbing steep temple steps

After our short but sweet stay in Siem Reap, we headed back through Bangkok and on to the island of Koh Tao. This was the leg of our trip that Sarah and I were looking forward to the most. Mark and Meghan have adapted well to the life of constant mobility. Although we really enjoyed our 4-day trip to Cambodia and the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, we really wanted to establish a relaxing home base, if you will. Freedom Beach Resort turned out to be the perfect destination. It provided easy access to the busier and more entertaining parts of Koh Tao island, but it was perched on a rather remote section of Chalok Bay. Our beach seemed almost private. While our most popular hobby is likely obvious, we also had the chance to snorkel, take numerous scooter rides to explore the island, drink a variety of Asian beers, eat some excellent seafood and sun bathe. I think the unexpected highlight of the trip for Sarah and I had to be getting our open water scuba diving certification.

Scooooooterin'

As Mark had previously mentioned, we ran into friends from Ottawa (hi Katie and Jamie!) who had just finished their last day of open water diver certification. Although I was hesitant and Sarah eager, they did a very good job convincing us that diving wasn’t so much an option, but something we had to do. After a few discussions and a visit to the esteemed Buddha View Dive Resort, we were sold. We signed up a few days later and officially committed ourselves to 4 and a half near full days of underwater submersion. The actual breakdown of the course consisted of a few hours of class time, a few more hours of “study” time and about 15-20 hours in the water, either submerged or on a boat receiving verbal instruction for what to do below surface. We went through a large variety of skills we had to master underwater in order to reach the certified standard. These included being able to retrieve a lost regulator, to remove our mask and put it back on, breathing from your buddy’s regulator, floating on the surface for 10 minutes, swimming 200 metres, etc. Sarah mastered all gracefully while I often struggled to even get into my wetsuit. Luckily, they hardly fail anyone. By the end of our course, Sarah and I were hooked to the point where we needed to get one more dive excursion in before we left. I think we both agreed that this last outing was our best underwater experience. Our last “fun dive” consisted of an 18 metre dive at Chumphon Pinnacle, where we were able to see an unbelievable variety of fish in the thousands set along a backdrop of mountainous coral. The only thing that would have made this experience even greater would have been if Mark and Meghan were able to partake, but we have obligated them to pursue advanced diving certification with us in some exotic destination in the future.

Getting Scuba Certified

I’d like to finish this off with a testament to Mark and Meghan’s trip. Sarah and I were lucky enough to take part in this worldwide adventure for a mere 3 weeks and although our trip was an eye opener in itself, it was truly an eye opener to the hard work and time Mark and Meghan put in while travelling. The travelling itself can exhaust the most energetic person, but to actually document and narrate so many details encompassing their travels is truly impressive. I’d feel ashamed to say how long it took us to write this one post

So for any of you who have 2-3 weeks on your hands without prior obligation, I strongly suggest tagging along their journey because you’re in for a treat. Just be sure to plug your nose (Sorry Mark. The Merino wool wore off during the trip).

On our way home

Comments

  1. Mother Goose and Bruce the Moose

  2. Thanks for posting Mike and Sarah. It was delightful reading about your ‘great’ adventure with Meghan and Mark Gosen. Did you by chance see Meg Gough and Mark Rosen I think they were somewhere in your vicinity?

    Great post guys ‚Äî thanks for contributing! It was an awesome three weeks to be sure. It’s exciting for us to read a fresh perspective on our travels, and we’re really happy that you both came to have this experience with us. Miss you guys already!

    How nice Mike and Sarah, great guest blogging! What a cool trip you guys had, and like Mark said, a fresh new perspective on the, not-so-fresh smelling, Gosen’s wanderings.

    Nice work on the post, Team Bravis!

    I love your post Mike and Sarah. I miss you. You’ll be happy to know we’re doing laundry today. The first time since Ko Tao. haha.

    I’m almost a month behind schedule in reading this, but great post Dev! Looks like you guys had a blast, and you make an excellent point about how impressive it is, not just that Mark and Meghan have undertaken such an incredible journey, but that they have managed to document it in such impressive and entertaining detail!

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