Traveling Secrets of a 63-Year-Old Nomad

For the past five and a half months, I have traveled worldwide. My journey began in Istanbul and ended in Bangkok. I discovered many new things during this adventure, so I put together a group of random facts, thoughts, and situations I experienced during the 165-day tour.

Modes of Transportation

Fly

Train

Bus

Mini-van

Boat

Tuk-tuk

Scooter

Back of pick up truck

Favorite foods – 

India  – It’s the scariest place to eat something, but the 4- and 5-star restaurants supply excellent food with a lot of taste.

Thailand – where I came to love street food.

Best archaeological sites

Turkey, Istanbul + Selcuk Ephesus

Cambodia, Siam Reap Angkor wat

Bulgaria, Plovdiv – Sofia St John Basilica 

Favorite Tour Guide

Zer, a member of a Black Hmong tribe, pitched me at the Sapa bus stop around 8 in the evening. She gave me her Whatsapps #. I decided to take a chance, and she took me on a 10-mile hike through the rice fields of Sapa. It was one of the best days I have had.

The silliest answer by a tourist guide

In India, when I asked my guide what type of monkeys were running around Delhi? And his reply was, “Regular monkeys.”

Worst fact by a tourist guide

Vietnam. As we sailed down a remote branch of the Mekong Delta. Our guide mentioned that Apocalypse Now was filmed around that part of the Delta… FYI – Apocalypse Now was filmed in the Philippines.

Most surprising country

Cambodia, Phenom Penh

I was still waiting to see how modern the city of Phenom Penh has become. Riding on a boat up the Ma Kong River let me enter the city from a different direction, and I was floored by what I saw. Modern high rises sprinkled the town, and new architectural wonders were being built in all directions. I expected Phenom Penh or Cambodia to be something other than this Westernized.

Most frequently seen wild animal.

Monkeys. I saw wild monkeys in India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.

The most unique wild animal I saw.

A six or seven-foot lizard basking in the sun on the shore of an artificial waterway in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

I almost didn’t do it because I wasn’t sure if it would be worth my time.

Cable Car and Trip to Fansipan in Sapa Vietnam

 The cable car ride and the visit to the village on the mountaintop produced some of my most memorable photos of my entire five-month trip… and I almost said no.

Favorite small towns 

Plovdiv – Bulgaria

Selcuk – Turkey

Orhid – North Macidonia

Chiang Mai – Thailand

Most Relaxing Places

Vietnam – Island of Phu Quoc

North Macedonia – Lake Ohrid

Most Beautiful Country

Montenegro. Picture a bay of crisp, clear water surrounded by mountains that rise fast and steep shortly after beaches and storefronts end. Every view in the entire bay is picturesque and so stunning that it is hard to capture its nature in a picture.

Best Hotels for The Money

Vietnam

Thailand

Most Intense Country

India. I spent sixteen days in four different cities in India. The pace of life and the sheer number of people coexisting in small spaces is something to behold. Every day, when you leave your hotel, life bombards your senses with sights, sounds, and smells that are not available anywhere else in the world.

Country with Best Bus Lines

Turkey. Some buses in Turkey would bring a tray down the center aisle, handing out glasses of water along with a simple snack item. Similar to something you get on airplane rides. And during their frequent bathroom stops, they let you know how much time you had before you had to be back.

Most Adventurous Activity.

Indian Railway Rides. Riding the train in India can be an experience. What you see in the movies is no joke. Some trains are overflowing with passengers. I saw people hanging on to the train on the outside of train trains during various rides.

The trains don’t make announcements they stop for five minutes. People are waiting on the platforms and between trains, ready to barrel off when the train stops at the station. Depending on what stops you’re at, people need help to get on and off the trains.

Best Metro systems

New Delhi Metro – Taking the metro in Delhi, India, was more relaxing than driving in a taxi or Uber. There were no crowds, beeping horns, or jammed streets.

Sofia, Bulgaria Metro – Another new underground metro will get you around the city comfortably.

Best local transportation

Thailand has a private bus system that varies from city to city. The subways are efficient, go to places you want, and sometimes cost as little as 25 cents a ride.

I hope you enjoyed reading this random list of things I ran across during my five-month journey. As always, if you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Till next time, enjoy life’s journey.

Joseph OBrien

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