Sunday, August 22, 2010

Memories of Kangaroo Island

KI is a magical place. My pictures, while certainly not bad, cannot do the scenery justice. In no particular order here are a few of my favorite memories. I've embedded the link to my Picasa web album in this post's title.
  • Blue-gray skies, blue-green ocean, green pastures, white sheep
  • Fresh oysters straight from the dock at American River
  • Watching a “classic” Australian movie: The Adventures of Priscilla in the Desert with our couchsurfing host, Dave
  • Chickens are called “chooks”
  • No security or luggage screening at Kingscote Airport
  • Playing Wii wakeboarding & bowling with Dave
  • Driving the unsealed (unpaved) North Coast Rd
  • Petting koalas & feeding kangaroos at Parndana Wildlife Park
  • Driving around Penneshaw one rainy night looking for penguins & wallabies (we saw plenty of both)
  • Holding and petting barking & barn owls at the Raptor Center
  • Torrential downpours followed by sunshine
  • Ligurian honey ice cream, an only-on-KI specialty
  • Bright yellow canola fields stretching to the horizon
  • Eucalyptus tree “tunnels”
  • The pounding surf and fur seals at Cape du Couedic
  • The truly Remarkable Rocks
  • A made-to-order chicken sandwich with “the lot” (pickled beets & cucumbers, sweet pickles, mayo, pepper, onion, cheese, etc.) & chicken-flavored chips eaten in the back of our Toyota RAV4 at Cape Borda
  • The index finger “wave” from passing locals
  • There isn’t a single stoplight on the island. In fact, there are no stop signs either. There are only a couple of sealed (paved) two-lane roads that cross the island east/west. Everything else is dirt!
This is the link to Greg's photos of KI, including Adelaide.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cairns & the Great Barrier Reef

By the time we made it to Cairns Monday evening, I was really suffering from a sinus infection and corresponding cough. Luckily I came prepared with prescription medications (Zithromax & an asthma inhaler) and decided to go ahead and start taking the 3-day course of antibiotics so I would feel better asap.

The weather in Cairns, while definitely tropical/humid, was not ideal the first couple of days. It was so overcast we didn’t see blue sky until Thursday, and it was rainy & windy. After consulting with the hostel staff as well as a local tour operator, we ultimately decided to book our all day reef trip for Wednesday as it was forecast to be the least windy that day. While this didn’t give me much time to recover from my head cold, I didn’t want to miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

We spent the day Tuesday roaming around downtown Cairns. There’s really not much to do on a rainy day besides browse the shops, restaurants & tour agencies. We eventually ended up at Blue Sky Brewery, one of the very few places in town that has free wifi. Beers, as elsewhere in Australia, aren’t cheap -- a “medium” or about ¾ pint was $5.50. But at least my True Blue Stout had flavor unlike so many of the other Australian beers we’ve tried!

We had to get up early (7am) Wednesday morning to allow enough time to get ready and walk from our hostel to the Reef Terminal where all the tour boats depart. We had chosen the Silver Swift because it was the only boat operating out of Cairns that makes three stops on the outer reef (Flynn reef in particular) which means you get to explore different parts of the reef and are not crowded in the same areas as the other tour boats. We had negotiated with the booking agent for 10% off (due primarily to my Youth Hostelling Association membership) which saved us each $16 off the $162 fare. Unfortunately the weather had not improved and we experienced rough seas on the 1.5 hour trip out to the reef causing multiple passengers to get sick. I used my Seabands & ginger tablets and, although I felt queasy towards the end of the journey, made it without incident.

We had approximately one hour at each of the three sites to snorkel. Even though the water was about 24C, Greg & I both opted to rent Lycra stinger suits (to prevent jellyfish stings) and wetsuits (for warmth). I definitely would have been cold without the wetsuit! The water was extremely choppy at the first site; combined with the overcast skies, visibility was not great. We also had to constantly be aware of our surroundings so we wouldn’t get blown into the reef or get too close to or far from the boat. Conditions improved slightly at the second site and were the best at the third site. It was never ideal by any means, but we still saw a lot of pretty coral, fish and other sea creatures.

While I can’t compare our experience on the Silver Swift to other boats in Cairns, I have been snorkeling at dozens of locations in the U.S. & Caribbean and this does compare favorably to the best of those trips. There was an adequate crew to passenger ratio; they only book the boat, which can hold 160 people, to a max of 80 (our group was about evenly split between snorkelers and divers); plenty of good food was available at the specified times (breakfast sandwiches & muffins, hot & cold lunch buffet, afternoon sweets & cheese); and the cabin & restrooms were kept clean throughout the day. I will mention, however, that if you are a first-time or nervous snorkeler then this probably wouldn’t be the trip for you, at least under the same weather conditions we encountered. Also, there was not a dedicated crew member assisting the snorkelers in & out of the water or helping them with their equipment, but there were plenty of flotation devices (pool noodles, life jackets) to make you feel more comfortable in the water.

Our last full day in Cairns, Thursday, turned out to be beautiful & sunny. We had not planned any other activities and debated whether to rent a car and drive north up the coast to Port Douglas, Daintree & Cape Tribulation or west to Kuranda for a look at the rainforest. Ultimately, the added cost of the excursion (at least $100 for the car rental, gas & food) outweighed what we thought we might get out of the trip. So we ended up spending the better part of the day strolling the full length of the waterfront Esplanade, watching the tide recede and water birds feeding, and looking for crocodiles (which are mostly seen in the summer months).

That’s about it for Cairns. My overall impression of the city is that it was built up around the tourism industry for the reef. There aren’t any particularly historic sites to visit, just natural ones. In fact, I thought Cairns had a bit of a seedy vibe, not in a bad way that made me feel unsafe, but there were generally more homeless people & local drunks hanging around (I’m guessing because of the warm climate). There was no viable way to get to/from the airport other than a taxi ($24+) or a shared bus ($10 for 1person, $15 for 2). Food, as elsewhere in Australia, was still expensive. I was starting to get tired of our pbj’s for lunch but luckily we had almost finished off the original jars from Sydney by the time we left Cairns. Still keeping to our budget, we had the following for dinner:  the first night we had Lean Cuisine frozen entrees ($4pp), one night we had Asian take away noodle bowls ($9-10pp), another night Domino’s pizza ($7 for a large ham & pineapple), and the last night I cooked thai noodles, stir fry vegetables & chicken ($8 + $7 for a bottle of white wine).

Our hostel, Dreamtime Travellers Rest, while rated one of the best in Australia, was only okay in my opinion. There was no free wifi ($4 for 1hr); the curtain rod in our double room had no finials, so if you moved the curtains the pole would fall down; the kitchen in our section of the hostel was quite outdated (toaster was melted, all markings on the oven/stove were illegible, pots & pans were in bad need of replacing); the hostel staff was generally friendly & helpful but less so when you don‘t book tours through them. The hostel was located on the far side of the train station, not in middle of town, which required an extra 5-10 minute walk to get into the CBD but did mean it was very quiet at night. Another positive is that the shared bathrooms were thoroughly cleaned every day.

One more note about our travels in Australia so far. Not once for our three Jetstar domestic flights have we ever had our identification checked. Not during check-in, where we were required to check our backpacks due to strict cabin luggage regulations; not at security, where the only thing we had to remove was our laptops (nor did they check our boarding passes); and not at the gate. Bottom line, it seems that anyone could fly within Australia under an assumed name, or someone else’s name, and never be questioned!

P.S. Sorry, but the internet connection here at the library was not sufficient to post pictures within this blog entry. Nor have I been able to upload my remaining Cairns photos since we arrived in Adelaide. Still, if you click on the title of this post, you can link to my Picasa web album which at least has our snorkeling pics in it.. I will add the others asap!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Weekend in the Blue Mountains

Well, we weren’t technically in the mountains the entire weekend, but we were definitely not in the city, and that’s the whole point! Since I previously wrote about trying to “do” Sydney on a budget, I will include some comparative information for our subsequent three nights outside of the city.

Lodging = $275 vs. $0
To save money on lodging, we stayed with David, whom Greg connected with via David lives in Horsley Park, about 26 miles west of Sydney. True to its name, there is lots of farmland in the area. David’s house is very near to the Sydney Equestrian Park, which was the site of all the equestrian events for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. We slept on a full-size sleeper sofa in the main room of the house which is open to the kitchen and features a wood-burning fireplace, large flat screen tv, and dining area. The one bathroom with a shower was in the rear of the house. It was a cozy arrangement, made even better by David’s hospitality and the friendly farm animals on the property (two horses, a bunch of chickens, and a cat).

Food & Drink = $140 vs. $63
We went to the shopping centre with David shortly after we arrived and chipped in to purchase a bottle of white wine and the chicken for our dinner of homemade chicken schnitzel, sautéed fresh vegetables, and sweet potato fries. The meal was delicious and our conversation covered a wide range of topics including our respective world travels, a rugby (Australian football) tutorial, politics, family, etc. For breakfast on Saturday David cooked a ham, vegetable & egg scramble using eggs from his hens (he gathers about eight a day), served with multigrain toast, fruit juice, and coffee. Greg & I took our leftover pbj supplies to make a picnic lunch while we were in the Blue Mountains, then ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant that evening. On Sunday, we ate our instant oatmeal for breakfast, leftover Chinese food for lunch, and leftover pasta with homemade Bolognese sauce for dinner with the remainder of a 2nd bottle of white wine which we had purchased the day before and beers contributed by David. On Monday we had oatmeal again for breakfast and leftover Chinese food & chicken schnitzel for a snack before we departed for the airport. When we arrived at the airport, I used my Priority Pass membership to enter the Virgin Blue club which had a very nice array of complimentary hot & cold foods and beverages. After eating a quick bowl of pumpkin soup and drinking a beer in the club, I managed to put together a nice sandwich to smuggle out to Greg (who would have had to pay $27 to enter the club) along with some snack mix and a bottle of beer!
Transportation = $17 vs. $173.65
While there is train & bus service to David‘s area as well as the Blue Mountains, it is extremely limited and would not have given us much flexibility in terms of sightseeing. With my Hertz #1 Club Gold membership along with a discount code, I was able to rent a compact car for three days for $142.35 all inclusive with pick up in downtown Sydney and drop off at the airport. We drove almost 350km which consumed about half a tank of gas, which then cost $30.50 (@ $1.19/liter) to refuel. It is very easy to explore the Blue Mountains by car, as the Great Western Highway runs right through the middle of the park. They are widening the road from two lanes to four, so there is significant construction this year. We didn’t encounter heavy traffic, although it was more congested around the towns. On Monday, the most direct route to the airport from David’s house was on the M5 which required a $3.80 toll.

Entertainment = $0 vs. $0
We arrived at David’s house mid-afternoon on Friday. He was already pretty much finished with work for the day and offered to show us around town. We hopped in his car and drove to the Western Sydney Recreation Park near his house, where there is a beautiful view of downtown Sydney from the ridge. We actually bushwalked about 45 minutes round trip to an unobstructed overlook called Devil’s Back. When we returned to the house, Greg & I went for a walk around the property, befriended the two horses and also saw a huge jackrabbit. On Saturday we drove into the mountains and stopped at many beautiful overlooks including Wentworth Falls, Eagle Hawk, and Govett’s Leap. We also walked down to Jelly Bean pool and around Euroka Clearing where we spotted a kookaburra and numerous cockatiels and other birds in the morning, then got lucky and saw our first kangaroo when we returned that evening. Note that there is a $7 fee to enter the National Park but most sites are accessible for free. The only site we entered that had a fee was Glenbrook, but since we weren’t staying long and the booth was unmanned both times we passed through, we didn’t pay. We drove as far as Mount Victoria before heading back down to Horsley Park. We hung out at David’s house on Sunday, watching a couple of movies (Scream 3 & Blade) with his friends while he went to a rugby match.

Miscellaneous = $17 vs. $0
Since David operates his audio/visual business from home, he had excellent wireless service so Greg & I were able to upload pictures, catch up on email, and generally surf the internet much more efficiently than we had at the hostel.

Total = $449 ($225 per person for 4 nights or $56 per day) vs. $237 ($118 per person for 3 nights or $39 per day)
In reality, we didn’t save that much money by venturing outside of the city. Any savings on accommodations & food were offset by the cost of the rental car (only $36/day but with almost $50 in taxes & surcharges added on) and the high cost of gas (approx $4.50/gal). Still, it was definitely worth it for the experience of seeing the mountains at our leisure, hanging out with David, and waking up to roosters crowing.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sydney on a budget???

How far this DOESN'T go...
It’s pretty hard to write the words "Sydney" and "budget" in the same sentence. Not just because the Australian dollar is relatively strong compared to the U.S. dollar right now, but because Sydney is an expensive city overall. All amounts mentioned in this post are in Australian dollars.

Lodging = $275
To save money on lodging, we stayed in a hostel, Eva’s Backpacker’s, for the four nights we were actually in the city. We did our accommodations research on,,, and other websites. We also searched on but couldn’t find anyone in the city center that could host us. I chose Eva’s for their location in Kings Cross, about a 20 minute walk from downtown Sydney, with plenty of public transportation options, shops, restaurants, etc. nearby. A bunk bed in a shared dorm room was about $25 per person per night and a private double room was $75 per room per night, both with shared baths. Comparable hostels in the city center were over $100 per night for a private room. We had booked a private room for the three nights we originally planned to be in the city, and when we arrived a day early, we settled for one night in dorm beds as that’s all that was available.
cheap local beer - doesn't have much flavor but it was only $8 for this pitcher!
Food & Drink = $140
As is common in most hostels, we had full use of the kitchen facilities at Eva’s so we could buy groceries and cook/eat in to save money. On our arrival day in Sydney, upon perusing the menus at various Kings Cross restaurants, we discovered even fast food cost over $7 and the average dinner entrée was over $20. We ended up eating Thai food for lunch; the “specials” were all $8.50 so the meal cost us $17. We went to the grocery (Woolworths) afterwards and were able to purchase the store brand loaf of wheat bread, peanut butter & jelly, along with a box (12 packets) of instant oatmeal, a few bananas, some rice crackers for snacking, and a pre-made sandwich and container of soup to share for dinner. The total bill was $9 for the dinner items and $16 for everything else. We ate oatmeal and shared a banana for breakfast each morning, plus supplemented that with any freebies that other backpackers had left behind in the community food pile when they checked out of the hostel. I made pb&j sandwiches to carry in our daybags for lunch along with the rice crackers and our Katadyn water bottles. Our splurges were for two beers and a hot lunch at the Pyrmont Hotel Bar ($5/pint + $10 for a shared lamb shank & mashed potato entrée), a dozen oysters from Claudios Seafood at the Sydney Fish Market ($11.90) and a pitcher of beer at O’Malley’s ($8) on Day 2; and four beers at the Lord Nelson Brewery ($4.30 for about 285mL or a “half pint”), two beers at The Australian Hotel Bar ($6.80/pint) and a pizza from the shop around the corner from the hostel ($17 for a large/4 slices each) on Day 3. I cooked pasta at the hostel ($7 for 2 people) one night and we bought cheap wine at the liquor store ($5/750mL bottle) since bottled beer was so expensive (over $16 for a 6-pack). On the day we ate lunch out, we had pbj sandwiches for dinner.
a pbj picnic
Transportation = $17
Our airport transfer was provided free by the hostel but involved waiting at the designated airport meeting point for over 30 minutes, then walking outside the airport terminal about 5 minutes to reach the shuttle van, sitting in the van for over 10 minutes waiting for other potential passengers from the international terminal, then driving around to the domestic terminal to pick up a passenger there. Total time from arrival at airport meeting point to arrival at our hostel: 1.5 hours. The cheapest alternative if we had booked the transfer on our own was $12 per person. We quickly learned that public transportation is not really affordable. I had hoped to take the ferry to Manly just as a sightseeing excursion, but at $13 per person round trip that got nixed. We then planned to take the public bus to Bondi Beach and when I looked it up online, I thought the fare was $2 per person one way. Totally reasonable! However when we bought the tickets from a drugstore at Circular Quay, they were actually $4.25 per person one way. We had already planned our afternoon around that little side trip, so we handed over the money, but that eliminated our budget for food & drinks somewhere near the beach. This was our solution (followed by a trip to the grocery for the ingredients for a pasta dinner to be cooked at the hostel later that evening):

Entertainment = $0
I could only find a few sights in Sydney that were actually free. The National Maritime Museum offers free entrance every day, but you do have to pay extra to have a look around the boats docked in the harbor. However, it is totally free to roam around the city on foot, and I think Greg & I walked about 10 miles per day to see the better part of the city. On our first full day we covered Hyde Park, Pyrmont Bridge, Sydney Fish Market, Market City, and Chinatown. Day 2 included St. Mary’s Cathedral, Millers Point, Sydney Observatory, walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks, Sydney Cove, and the Opera House. Day 3 saw us in the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Customs House, and at Bondi Beach.

Miscellaneous = $17
The laundry facilities at the hostel were limited to one working washer (out of three) and two dryers and were not particularly cheap ($3 per wash, $3 per dry, $1 for detergent). We packed enough clothes to only have to do laundry every five days and that’s if we only wear each outfit one time. I crammed all our dirty stuff into one load but, of course, it didn’t get completely dry so we had to use our expandable clotheslines to hang everything up in our tiny room. The hostel did have free wireless internet but the connection was so poor we could barely read our email. Still, it allowed us to let everyone know we made it safely and were doing fine the first few days of the trip. One minor thing we did have to purchase was an Australia/New Zealand plug adapter ($10) because even though I thought our multi-adaptor sets covered the entire world, the outlets here are different.

Total = $449 (or about $225 per person)
How could we have saved even more money? Obviously by drinking less beer and never eating out, but also by staying in a dorm instead of private room. However, we sacrificed about as much as we were willing these first few days of our trip and our overall experience did not suffer one bit as a result. As an aside, I am writing this post from a farmhouse in Horsely Park, about 30 miles outside of Sydney, where we’ve been couchsurfing with a wonderful host for the past few nights. I’ll update again soon with a brief comparison of our costs for these past few days versus our time in Sydney. You will notice a marked difference!

P.S. The link to all of my Sydney pictures is embedded in the title of this post. Just click the title and my Picasa web album will open.

Monday, August 2, 2010

And we're off...

Well, it wasn't without some suspense and drama, but I am writing this as my official first post of our RTW trip! We arrived in Sydney, Australia this morning around 7:30AM, about an hour late due to air traffic holds and a brief mechanical problem with our plane at LAX, but still a day earlier than we had originally planned. We decided to leave Nashville on July 31st due to the flights filling up (we were flying standby on Delta using my mom's passes). As I've already written about that drama in my previous post, I'll just say here that we definitely made the right decision to spend a couple hundred dollars to ensure we made it to LAX yesterday. Everything went smoothly with the American Airlines flights, with the exception of the not-very-nice gate agent at DFW who tried to force me to check my backpack because it wouldn't fit in the "size-wise" device. I pleaded my case and removed the one thing (the "extra" empty Pacsafe purse) from the outer pocket on my pack, which made it appear thinner, and she eventually let me get on the plane. She also made Greg test his bag, but luckily his fit with no adjustments necessary. Of course, after we boarded, we observed many passengers with bags much bigger & bulkier than ours, trying to cram them in the overhead bins with little success.

We walked from Terminal 4 to Terminal 5 at LAX and re-cleared security without too much hassle, although the TSA agents thought they spotted something in Greg's backpack so part of it got searched. After a quick check at the departure gate, we checked in at the SkyClub where my mom had already called ahead and notified a Delta staffer that we'd be stopping in. Teresa was as helpful as she could be, and Greg & I settled in with beer & snacks while I kept an eye on the cleared list for the flight to Sydney. It wasn't looking very good (number of seats available versus number of passengers & standbys awaiting seat assignments) but we weren't ready to give up just yet. When they finally started clearing the nonrevs after pretty much all of the revenue passengers had boarded, Greg & I headed back to the gate to be ready to jump on the plane at the last minute. Sure enough, there were at least one or two inbound flights that were delayed so about 20 passengers were going to misconnect., and the gate agents freed up their seats about 10 minutes prior to the 10:35PM scheduled departure. We were on!!!

I was assigned seat 30G, the bulkhead row immediately behind first class on the 777. Greg was on the opposite side of the plane, in seat 34A. We didn't mind being separated at that point; we were just so relieved to have actually gotten on the flight in spite of the odds! As my luck would have it, my seat was next to a mother traveling with her two young children, a 16-month-old and a 4-year-old girl. The baby was a lap child, which means she didn't have a ticketed seat and thus the mother would have to hold her (10 kg) for the better part of the 14+ hour flight. After my years of flying, I certainly am sympathetic to mothers traveling alone with young children, so I just hoped she was well prepared. The 4-year-old, Cynthia, started talking to me right away, and continued to interact with me during the one hour we sat on the plane prior to taking off. Unfortunately, Cynthia also apparently has a tendency to get sick on airplanes, and proceeded to vomit all over the floor in front of our seats about 45 minutes into our ground hold. The mother had her hands full with the baby, so I pitched in to help clean up. The flight attendants made it pretty clear they weren't going to help in any way and finally brought a cleanup kit just prior to take off.

So that's how my RTW trip started, with a sickly (but very cute and precocious) 4-year-old sleeping "on my lap" for half the flight (really just on my armrest but she asked if she could lay on my lap) and me becoming her impromptu baby sitter, taking her to the bathroom, helping change her dirty clothes, etc. and the lovely smell of vomit permeating the air around our seats for the entire flight.
view of downtown Sydney from the airport bus 

We're a long way from everywhere!
After 36 hours of traveling and very little sleep, I was definitely ready for a hot shower and a nap when we arrived at Eva's Backpackers hostel in King's Cross this morning. We had only made our reservation to start on 03AUG (based on our original U.S. departure date of 01AUG) but luckily when I called from the airport they still had two dorm beds available for tonight. So we caught the free shuttle, and after getting an extended tour of the airport to pick up other passengers, we finally arrived at Eva's around 9AM. We also got lucky in that the two beds had not been occupied the previous night, so we were able to check in and go to our room immediately upon arrival. We quickly settled in, took showers, and slept for a couple of hours, then headed out into the sunshine (but windy and around 60F) to get some lunch. We ended up at a small Thai restaurant a few blocks from our hostel and enjoyed a tasty & filling lunch of pad thai w/pork (Greg) and panang curry w/chicken (me). Then we walked to the nearest grocery store (Woolworth's) because we had quickly realized by perusing menus during our neighborhood walk that eating out for every meal in an expensive city like Sydney would do serious damage to trip budget. We stocked up on instant oatmeal, bananas, and the cheapest wheat bread, peanut butter & jelly, and even bought a pre-made sandwich & soup to share for our dinner. We were in for another shock when we stopped in the adjacent liquor store and discovered the absolute cheapest 6-pack of beer was around $17AUD. We opted for a cheap (5.55 AUD) bottle of Australian white wine.
ready to dig into some panang curry
Perusing the meat section at Woolworths - Greg spotted some bacon
We came back to the hostel to get organized but first took a glass of wine up to the roof deck where we enjoyed a little sunshine and the nice view of downtown Sydney before it got too windy & cool for our taste. We've been hanging out in either the communal kitchen or small living room of the hostel ever since, catching up on everything and observing the comings & goings of the other multinational guests. It gets dark here early (it's 6:30PM and it's pitch black outside but it is winter after all) and has now started raining. I'm glad we decided to lay low today, but am looking forward to more wandering around (hey, walking is free!) tomorrow.

I also realized that I haven't posted the latest version of our itinerary, so here it is:

Date    Nights    Time (CST+hrs)     Location
31JUL    2            in transit     Nashville-Sydney
02AUG    7            15        Australia - Sydney
09AUG    4                         Australia - Cairns
13AUG    3            14.5        Australia - Adelaide
16AUG    3                         Australia - Kangaroo Island
19AUG    1            14.5        Australia - Adelaide
20AUG    4            15        Australia - Melbourne
24AUG    15           17        New Zealand - self driving tour from North to South Island
08SEP    5            14        South Korea - Seoul
13SEP    4            14        Japan - Tokyo
17SEP    6                       Japan - Kyoto & Hiroshima
23SEP    6             13        China - Beijing & The Great Wall
29SEP    14                    China - Yangtze river cruise Chongqing-Yichang, Guilin, Suzhou, Xian…
13OCT    4            13        China - Hong Kong
18OCT    11            8        Turkey - Istanbul, Cappadochia, Pamukkale, Antalya…
29OCT    9             8        Egypt - Cairo, Nile cruise (Aswan to Luxor), Alexandria
07NOV    6                    Israel - Jerusalem
13NOV    7             8        Jordan - Amman, Jerash, Petra, Wadi Rum
21NOV    11            8        Kenya & Tanzania safari
03DEC    10            7        South Africa - Cape Town, Garden Route
14DEC    29            12        Vietnam - Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hue, Mekong, Laos - Louang Prabang, Vientiane…
                                         Cambodia - Phnom Penh, Angkor…
                             12        Thailand - Bangkok…
12JAN    14                    India - Kerala: Kochi, Trivandrum…
26JAN    11            10.5        India - Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Mumbai
06FEB    29            7        Arrive in Europe (via Amsterdam)
                             7        Italy - Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome, Naples, Palermo, Sardinia
                             7        Spain - Barcelona, Madrid
07MAR    8            6        Morocco - Marrakesh, Fes, Tangier, Rabat
15MAR    1            in transit    Marrakesh-Madrid-Atlanta-Nashville

Any dates after 12JAN are approximate as we have not booked any further flights. How long we continue to travel and where we go will be dependent on our remaining funds. Also, we have not yet thoroughly researched many of the places we're going weeks or months from now (China, Turkey, Jordan, Southeast Asia, India) so the cities listed are just ideas, not a definite itinerary.