I’m trying to keep you updated on my trip “around parts of the world”. I’m now two months in to my six-month trip and I’m at a major turning point. Read on to see what will be different over the upcoming three weeks! (Or click here to read my update from the end of Month #1).
Today is September 5th, 2019. I’d hoped to get this post out on the first of the month, but the WiFi in my hotel in Turkey was painfully slow. I think it had something to do with the guys at reception streaming Korean dramas on YouTube all day…
I am in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I’ve been here for two days and will be here for two more days before I join a GAdventures tour across Central Asia. This is going to my first ever group tour (excluding my overnight trip to Chernobyl last summer, but that was only for one night).
Places Visited Since Last Update:
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Gili Air, Indonesia
- Canggu, Indonesia
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Istanbul, Turkey
It was return visits to most of those destinations for me. Only Gili Air was a completely new destination.
The Good, The Bad and the Bizarre
I’m bringing you all of the updates on the best, the worst and the weirdest experiences on the road since I last checked in.
The Best Destination I’ve Visited
For me, it’s probably a tie between Istanbul and Gili Air, but I’m giving the prize to the latter as it was a new destination for me. Gili Air was only two kilometers across, and I was so happy to be able to walk everywhere along calm streets (with no cars or scooters!). Plus, there was a great community atmosphere and obviously the beaches were spectacular.
The Best Thing I’ve Eaten
Here, I think that Turkey takes the cake. In particular, the amazing mezze plate from Ciya Sofrasi, a local restaurant I first visited ten years ago, but which was recently featured on Chef’s Table on Netflix and is now quite well-known. I’m hoping to get a post out shortly about my vegetarian food recommendations in Turkey’s largest city.
The Most Amazing Experience I’ve Had
Last month it was scuba diving with giant manta rays on Nusa Penida, and this month it’s scuba diving with too many turtles to count on Gili Air! There is a dive spot there called Turtle Heaven, which is a sea turtle cleaning station, and you can barely swim ten feet without seeing a new turtle! I actually dived Turtle Heaven twice: the first time I forgot my underwater camera, so when I saw they were going again the following morning I signed up for another dive (and another… and another…). I did all my diving on Gili Air with Blue Marlin and had a great time.
Something Else That Made Me Smile
How freaking adorable was my hotel pool in Canggu, Bali? I booked in a for a full week at Sunflower Stay & Surf, a boutique, family-run guesthouse just a few blocks up from the beach. It was as chic as a luxury resort but my large private room only cost a few dollars more than the bare-bones places I’d been staying before. Besides the pretty pool with sun loungers, there was a communal kitchen and even a terrace co-working space! Highly recommended!
The Worst Place I’ve Visited
Yoros Castle, outside Istanbul near the Black Sea coast! I had visited previously and even have a photo of me with a Turkish celebrity at the castle (I don’t actually know who the celeb is, however…) and I wanted to go back this summer. So, I took the two-hour boat trip out to the nearest fishing village and climbed up the massive hill to the castle… only discover it had been boarded shut.
The Most Questionable Thing I’ve Eaten
Probably the pickle juice I drank on my Istanbul food tour. I don’t like pickles in the first place, and I really don’t see the appeal of drinking their juice voluntarily. I’ll take a lemonade. Or a beer.
The Most Frustrating Experience I’ve Had
I’m definitely having a hard time connecting with other travelers without filtering through a ton of dating spam. Too many local guys, and even other travelers, only want to get together one-on-one, and I’ve even had travelers I haven’t met yet suggest that instead of going out and exploring the city, we just “Netflix and chill” in their hotel room!
Something Else That Was Really Unpleasant
I think I got assaulted on my overnight flight from Istanbul to Bishkek! We departed at 1:00 am and arrived at 8:00 am, so I assumed everyone would want to sleep on board the flight. I was wrong, and when I reclined my chair to begin sleeping, it angered the man behind me so much that he grabbed the headrest with two hands and violently shook it back and forth before jamming my seat back to upright (against the mechanisms in the chair, as I wasn’t pushing the button that should have “unlocked” the back part of the seat). It took three flight attendants to get him to calm down and leave my chair alone. (I think they should have moved me to business class at that stage!)
The Most Random Place I’ve Visited
It’s not really a place I “visited”, per se, but I was about 300 meters from one of the bombs that exploded in Bangkok in early August. It’s not my first run-in with Thai bombs, as I was actually in the town of Surat Thani a few years ago when they were bombed as well. I consider it all part of my Trail of Destruction.
The Strangest Thing I’ve Eaten (Or Seen on a Menu, Or Been Served…)
Here in Kyrgyzstan, dehydrated goat yogurt balls are quite popular. I don’t like them, but if you made me choose, I’d still rather eat a dehydrated goat yogurt ball than drink a glass of pickle juice!
Something Else That’s Totally Unexpected
I’ve become a person who sleeps with their windows open at night… even if there’s not a window screen. I am still completely petrified of insects, but I now give more weight to fresh tropical breezes than guaranteed bug-free bedrooms.
If you missed it at the top, you can read about Month #1 (including my travels in Taiwan, Ubud, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan).