Molos bay is essentially a massive naturally formed swimming pool on the east side of the Greek Island, Paros. The bay is an inlet flanked by two steep mountains at each side, a beach and vineyards inland, and the island of Naxos on the ocean side just a few miles away.
The aging city of Georgetown on the Malaysian island, Penang is a melting pot of people, cultures and traditions from all throughout Southeast Asia. Years of grit and dust cover the faded and cracked walls of buildings in the historic district. Layers of paint, plaster, city grit and artwork fade and blend together into a timelessly weathered and living appearance that few cities in the world are able to achieve. Walking the quieter side streets and alleys the sheer scale of the human history this place has experienced really sinks in. We’re careful to tread lightly, both because there are still dangerous areas, but mostly because our wake – even to the smallest degree – might shape the perpetual collage of people and experience that is Georgetown, Penang.
Set at the side of a pond with rowboats in the center of the Tiergarten park is the best beer garden that we visited in Berlin. Long tables and benches are lined with people from all over enjoying cold beers and hot pretzels at this festive oasis in the center of the city
Nothing could have adequately prepared us for our arrival in Southeast Asia – A completely new and different place. Kuala Lumpur is a highly developed, major international city. It has skyscrapers, public transportation, western comforts and you can always find someone who speaks English – It didn’t seem like a place that would really require much adjustment for us.
I vividly remember arriving at our airbnb that first night. It was early fall and the sun was setting hours before it had just days earlier in Europe. The ground was damp from thundershowers earlier that day and bugs buzzed around the illuminated streetlights. The heat was staggering and inescapable as though it radiated from everything around us. As we walked, the evening call to prayer from a nearby mosque resonated powerfully through the hot, twilight air, which was filtered by the thick canopy above and grew darker with each passing minute. At one point we stopped and turned to the west to see the one remaining glint of light from the faded sunset, our eyes wide with anticipation. This was going to be a bigger adjustment than we had expected…
We stayed in a lot of different places this past year and had both good and bad Airbnb experiences. Southeast Asia is far and away the cheapest region we explored, but nothing quite tops the bang-for-buck of Southern Spain during the depths of the Great Recession. In the small Spanish town of Ronda our $45/night Airbnb, which we expected to be a simple apartment, turned out to be a 3-story villa in the heart of the historic district.
Accessing money abroad became a routine and for the most part it’s pretty similar to back home: Walk up to the ATM, check out your surroundings, walk away with the cash concealed. Sure, we had to be more cautious carrying large amounts of cash in countries like Cambodia, but aside from that everything else was the same. The mundane chore of getting cash from an ATM abroad really doesn’t deserve any special attention, except when your visiting Indonesia.
It was dusk on one of our first nights in Ubud, Bali. We were exhausted and running low on Rupiah we had received in exchange for Thai Baht when we entered the country. A constant stream of motorbikes raced by us, their wheels kicking up dust that hung in the air as we walked on the main road past locals who followed, persistently trying to sell us things. We had tried two ATMs already – both out of cash – and arrived at a “bank,” which was still under construction with an ATM out front illuminated by a single fluorescent light plugged into a power strip in the wall.
A few locals on the side of the street watched as we cautiously approached the ATM so as not to wake the stray dog that slept on the steps outside. Bethany kept one eye on them and another on the dog as I tried to discretely cram a 50-note brick of 2.5 Million Rupiah into my wallet. The Rupiah is valued at about 11,500 (IDR) to 1 USD and almost all ATMs have 1.25 or 2.5 million IDR limits. The highest denomination note is 100,000 IDR, but most ATMs will only provide 50,000 notes.
It’s not easy to swiftly conceal a stack of money the size of a small paperback with tired hands and the perception of a foreigner handling the equivalent of several months income in this part of the world quickly attracts attention. As soon as I forced the wallet to fold shut we quickly left, careful not to be followed by anyone down the quieter side streets toward our guesthouse.
I almost fell into moving traffic on a busy street in Berlin. We were walking back from the S-Bahn to our flat in Neukölln when Bethany told me about something that she had seen while riding the train. As she told me, the words rolled off her tongue with the same casually indifferent tone she’d use to describe one of my favorite shows on the discovery channel. It took a few seconds, but as soon as the words sunk in I immediately reached for my iPhone and feverishly starting tapping with my thumbs trying to make it make words. After a couple tries I finally type them all in: Berlin International Beer Festival
What better place to attend an international beer festival than Berlin? Thousands of people and hundreds of brewers from all over the world turned out for the event, which went on block after block for over a mile in East Berlin. We tried beer from all over Europe and Asia – Some of which we got to try again during our travels through Southeast Asia – and enjoyed some of the best beer snacks Germany had to offer
Enjoying the hills, streetcars and unique culture of each bairro in this city by the sea