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November 8 ->The Best and Worst of the First Six Months

THE BEST of the first 6 months

1. Getting engaged on Akaiami Island, Cook Islands
2. In a glider above the Omarama plain, New Zealand
3. Dinner at Grandma's Kitchen in Beijing after a month of mutton in Mongolia
4. Helicopter ride over the Tian Shan range, Kazakhstan
5. Watching the shark feed, Holmes Reef, QLD, Australia
6. Climbing the massive sand dunes of Khongoryn Els, Mongolia
7. Showering after finishing the Kokoda Track, PNG
8. Bactrian camel ride in Gobi desert, Mongolia
9. Bicycle riding on the old city walls, Xian, China
10. Sunset over the minarets and madrassahs of Khiva, Uzbekistan

THE WORST of the first 6 months

1. Day 3 of the Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea
2. Any time we were on a bus in India
3. Nori projectile vomiting, Lake Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan
4. Flying a disaster-prone Tupolev airplane over the Himalaya from Kyrgyzstan to India
5. Glacier outhouse nearly collapsing into crevasse, Kazakhstan
6. Shakedown by crooked police in Tashkent Metro, Uzbekistan
7. The abject Jodhpur train station
8. Horrific pay-latrine near China-Kazakh border
9. Every time Gomez (Turo) took the wheel of the jeep in Mongolia (he could not shift correctly)
10. Scott's near-death scuba incident, PNG


1. Poo mountain in Chinese train lavatory (a whole life of squat toilets and a Chinese man still faces the wrong way?)
2. Scott staying up all night terrified about the coyotes and bears outside his tent in Kazakhstan (the sounds were made by tiny rodents)
3. Watching a marmot BBQ in Mongolia
4. Hearing "Hotel California" being belted out by drunk Peace Corps workers at an outdoor cafe in Almaty, Kazakhstan (of course we joined in)
5. Witnessing Polynesian rake-fishing in Cook Islands
6. Scott getting tricked into wrestling a Mongolian champion
7. Riding in tractor driven by one-eyed, stoned villager to the 'real' end of the Kokoda Track, PNG
8. The totally naked 'full-body' massage Scott got in India that seemed to focus on his groin.
9. The day trip to the Lonely Planet recommended hot springs at Shargaljuut, Mongolia (there were no springs, only hot dribbles)
10. Standing on a fishing trawler in the middle of a desert at the site of the old Aral Sea coast

MOST VALUABLE EQUIPMENT of the first six months

New Zealand - Soup thermos

Australia - Mobile phone
Cook Islands - Sunscreen
PNG - Water purification tablets
China - Toilet paper
Mongolia - 3-in-1 Coffee, air mattresses
Kazakhstan - Gloves
Uzbekistan - Sanjar (our guide)
Kyrgyztan - Ciprofloxacin and Immodium
India - Earplugs