And just like that we were on a plane leaving Bangkok and the rest of the Asian continent behind. Saying goodbye to beaches, Bali, Buddhists, and banana pancakes was not an easy thing to do…. we have a ton of great memories from this part of the world, but for both Shawna and I, we were ready to move on.
To Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, and even a little bit of Malaysia – thanks for everything! To Myanmar, Laos, Nepal, and India… we will see you on our next round the world adventure!
Our flight path took us from Bangkok to Tokyo, across the Pacific Ocean to New York City, south to Miami, and then even a little further south, landing in Guatemala City! All in all it was a 38 hour journey, packaged with a mere 4 hours of sleep!
The first leg of our journey was fairly uneventful, with the highlight being the wacky flavoured Kit Kat bars in the Tokyo airport. I had no idea, but apparently Japan is famous for these bizarre tasting Kit Kat bars which in the past have included: Grilled Corn, Pumpkin, Soya Sauce, Green Tea, Camembert Cheese, Jacket Baked Potato with Butter, Yuzu and Pepper, Pounded Soybean Paste, and Veggie.
Come on, you remember that little jingle, don’t you:
Give me a break. Give me a break. Break me off a piece of that Blood Orange Kit Kat Bar!
The purpose of all these kreative kreations is two-fold. First the candy bar Kit Kat sounds very similar to the Japanese phrase “kitto katsu”, which translates literally to ‘you shall surely win’. What right-minded person is going to walk by a stack of “you shall surely win” bars without picking up at least a couple? As someone who enjoys a little gambling, I was entranced immediately.
The second reason is that the Japanese have a tendency to want to collect “one of everything”, and so the wise Japanese marketers play on this by introducing different flavours for a short period of time and then pulling them quick, thus driving up the demand. Anyways, next time you are in Japan, be sure to grab yourself a Lemon Vinegar Kit Kat… you will be one step closer to winning the lottery, I promise.
As for us, we weren’t quite as adventurous – settling on a Matcha and Cherry Blossom. Maybe a little anti-climatic, no?
Moving on then….
The trip over the Pacific was a long one, but a few bad movies and a couple glasses of Shiraz helped to fast forward most of it. Also, somewhere near the end of that flight, we did soar over Canada, officially completing our circumnavigation of the globe! Woo hoo!!!! (I get excited about these kind of things)
Next stop – NYC!
Neither Shawna nor I had ever been to New York, and to be honest we never really had any interest in going. But once we found out it would be a pit stop on this leg of the race, we were thrilled. It was cool to be on North American soil again, even if only for an evening.
We landed at around 8:00PM, and after going through security we found ourselves riding the NY subway to Manhattan Island and Times Square. Once there we were in awe. We now can fully appreciate the term “bright lights, big city.” We ate warm pretzels from street vendors, took photos of where the New Years ball drops, and simply drowned ourselves in the energy that was and is The Big Apple!
Time flew by, and it was a little past 2:00 AM when we jumped back on the subway, heading back to the airport. The subway was substantially less crowded this time around, and most of those who were riding with us left Shawna feeling a little bit nervous. The two zombie-like passengers walking up and down the subway cars offerring us (ahem) “frankincense and myrrh”, was enough to keep her on the edge of her seat for the entire 40 minutes back to JFK.
With our adventures in New York over, we tried to catch a little shut eye. Sadly the airport floor didn’t provide much comfort and we were still wound up from our time in the city. So instead we just patiently waited for the airport’s Starbucks to open up and got ready for our 7:30AM flight to Miami.
Eight hours later, we find ourselves landing in Guatemala City!!
From any research we had done, Guatemala City itself isn’t a place you want to spend a lot of time, and so… we didn’t. Instead we jumped on a shuttle, straight from the airport and headed to the colonial city of Antigua about 45 minutes away. It was absolutely the perfect introduction to Central America, and a wonderful change from the madness and intensity that was Bangkok.
Antigua is one of the most well-preserved colonial cities in all of Central America. It just seemed to have so much character – it was a very easy place to fall in love with. It is small, with the main city area being about 8 X 8 blocks. They vibe is incredibly relaxed, and the climate was….for a change…moderate. It reminded us of a warm fall day back home. We couldn’t be happier.
We checked ourselves in to The Yellow House (a recommendation from fellow travel bloggers The Globetrotter Girls). Shawna was ecstatic as we have not stayed in a hostel with cleaner bathrooms for our entire ten and a half months away. She jumped up and down with sheer joy for about twelve seconds, and then collapsed dead on the mattress and proceeded to sleep for three straight days.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite that extreme. But we most definitely had a little bit of rest to catch up on.
Our four days in Antigua were spent cooking some of our own food (something which was damm near impossible in Asia), walking through the cobblestone streets of town, eating home made tortillas, taking a free salsa lesson (it’s going to take some work), exploring the market, visiting the chocolate museum (guess whose idea that was) and hiking up to the nearby Pacaya Volcano (where we were able to roast marshmallows!) A very enjoyable, chilled out handful of days. We were so relaxed in fact, that we actually forgot to take our camera out for our entire time there… which is all the more reason to go back isn’t it?
But as we had mentioned previously, our main objective in Guatemala was to spend a month learning Spanish. And although there were more than enough Spanish schools in Antigua, we had previously heard many great things about Spanish schools in San Pedro, a small lakeside town only 3.5 hours away. And so it was ‘Adios Antigua’, and ‘Hola San Pedro!’
Guatemala – it’s great to be here! Really REALLY great!