11 countries in 2011

At some point during the year, probably when I realized that the travel gods were on my side, I decided that I was going to attempt to visit 11 countries in 2011.

And lo and behold, I did.

I started my travels this year with a much needed getaway to culturally rich and geographically diverse Nicaragua. That was followed by the legendary banana pancake trail and a Europe camping trip. It was very poetic that the 11th country I visited was in Latin America as well, the beautiful Panama.

If I were to talk about all of those individual trips, this would be an excruciatingly long blog post that no one will read (because, let’s admit it, we don’t like long blog posts). Instead, here is a little photo montage of my most amazing year for travel ever.

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The Kuala Lumpur Detour

(First and foremost, apologies for taking a break from writing about the most amazing trip ever. That being done, enjoy the post!)

To go from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Luang Prabang, Laos was either going to cost us $250 one-way each or a day and a half. Laos doesn’t have well-developed railways and only one airline: The Laos Airline, which enjoys monopoly over the Laos skies and jacks up the prices. Already sulking over the fact that we didn’t have enough time to take in all of Southeast Asia we really couldn’t afford to loose 30 hours on a bumpy bus ride. Even worst, recent graduates with the last of our savings spent in this trip, $250 ONE WAY was just crazy.

There were tons of options: stay longer in Siem Reap (and visit more wats? No Thank You!), go to Chiang Mai a day early (but that was costing us more or less the same), hang out in Bangkok (or not)…

Man and McDonalds - It's a strange relationship

OK I lied, there weren’t tons of options. Since tour planning is my calling in life (along with being a detective, a photographer, a film director etc.) I found $80 tickets to Kuala Lumpur and 80$ tickets from there to Chiang Mai a day later that would put us right back on our original itinerary. God bless Air Asia!

We boarded a plane out of the gorgeous Siem Reap airport and were dropped off at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur – probably the most non-glamorous airport I have ever been to. But, it redeemed itself. It presented us with a McDonalds! We love trying foods of different cultures (in my case, fruits and rice because everything else in Asia was meat) but sometimes you just need a reminder of the junk food life back home and what better way to do it than treating yourself to some McDonalds.

Since we were on a vacation from our backpacking vacation, we decided to spoil ourselves a bit by staying in the newly renovated Mi Casa hotel. If that wasn’t bad enough, we tacked on two hearty meals on the 28th floor restaurant of the G-Tower (which, by the way, has the best view of the Petronas Towers at night and the greatest service in the whole world). We also checked off some KL must-sees off our list. Continue reading