Ross' Global Adventure - The Right Way Around

Blog thumbnail

About this blog

Travel the world. Experience everything in the moment - different cultures, people, wildlife, forests, deserts, mountains, cities, towns, villages...........the list goes on

Link my travels with short and long term goals of mine - learning languages, martial arts, dancing, personal and spiritual growth, increased cultural and social awareness

My name is Ross De Vincentiis. 12 months ago I set out with a plan to travel to: India, Nepal, Thailand, Japan, China, Central Asia, Middle East, Europe and finally Latin America. As I write this I have been on the road for 13 months, and the end isn't in sight. Latin America requires much more of my time than I initially thought. Then there is North America, and probably more time in the Middle East and Central Asia

Before I started traveling, still now, and the reason this travel blog got it's name, I wanted my travels to be done the right way. This isn't a booze trip. It's not about searching for the best nightlife where ever I go - although nightlife definitely has a small place in this adventure

The Right Way Around is about meaningful travel with a purpose other than just to travel around and see pretty places. It's about spending extended periods of time in selected places in order to go a few layers deeper than the average traveler does. It is also about finishing my travels with more skill sets than I started out with, a sharper mind, a healthier body, a more enlightened soul and a great collection of life changing experiences which were lived out truly in the moment

Below are a few summary pieces I have written along the way ____________________________________________________________________________________________

India / Nepal / Thailand / Japan / Hong Kong

----------------------------------------------------------------

Its been almost 3 months since I left Melbourne, but it feels like much longer. One of the things I've noticed since I started traveling is that every day is packed with so much that a week can feel like a month. Normally when time drags on its b/c you're not enjoying yourself.....I can assure you that this isn't the case here. I'm loving this traveling game!! Every experience I've had has been enriching, energising and followed by more exciting experiences. As those of you who've traveled a bit know, the world out there is sooo diverse....I mean, you don't need to cross country borders to witness the wild differences in human existance. Hell, just cross the road in India and everything can change

India truly is a country of contradictions (I've got a feeling that I have quoted someone here, can't remember who...), and I mean at all levels. Differences in the nature of the people; Indian traffic is complete madness, everyone cutting off everyone else, doing whatever they like without looking.....yet I only saw one car crash in a month and I never once saw a driver get angry. Indians are so accepting, its amazing...Yet, saying that, you also get nutcase indian shop keepers who will yell and scream at you because you leave their shop without buying something. Modern highrise office buildings towering over filthy, crumbling slums. Local restaurants that charge US$1 for all-you-can-eat goodness served on a banana leaf, while on the next street a five star hotel charges around US$100/dish. Cities packed so full with people,cars,fumes,dogs,cows and food that the smells as you walk down the street are....truamatising, while not too far from the cities people live a very basic life, off the land

Indian Food: Lots of spices, and often spicy.....even when its "not spicy at all". Often little attention to presentation. Its all about downing food quickly in India (they say "two hours to prepare, ten minutes to eat) using any method, usually hands. All you can eat rice, veg curries, beans etc, served on a banana leaf costs about $2

Nepal: I've attached a couple of pictures of the Everest Region in Nepal, but please believe me when I say that the images only convey 5% of the beauty of this part of the world. I've never been left speechless by a view before. Most days I found myself stopping every 20 m's to take a photo. I did my 3 week trek with a guide, which wasnt expensive and added to the cultural experience. It was really interesting operating at a high altitude. Once we got above 4000m everything became an effort. Just getting dressed would get the heart rate pumping. The Nepalese people are so warm and friendly. Nothing is too much trouble and their smiles are contagious. Nepal is a beautiful country with fantastic people and its very cheap to travel to. No reason not to make your way here at some stage, and if you do visit Nepal, you gotta do a trek!

Nepalese Food: The typical Nepalese meal is dahl bhaht, dahl being a lentil soup, bhaht being rice, you also get curried potatoes, and sometimes spinach; all this with as many refills as you want for about $1.20!

Thailand: Checked out Koh Tao for 6 days. In my opinion its better than Koh Samui (Koh Tao is much smaller) but still not my idea of the ideal beach holiday. I sea kayaked, snorkeled, went off-road with a scooter (rush level was up there with sky diving), got massages almost daily, and relaxed on the beach. Muay Thai and MMA in Phuket was bloody fantastic. www.tigermuaythai.com for anyone interested. 5-6hours of training a day, starting with one hour of yoga in the morning. Definitely do some preparation before arriving though, I didnt and was struggling at times. If any of you are interested let me know as I'm going to head back there at some stage

Thai Food: always good, bit more expensive then it used to be, however can still have a good meal of pad thai or meat/chicken stir-fry w rice for $4-5. Mango sticky rice is still the best desert ever!!! Oh yeah, i also discovered the best thai pancake combo ever. On Koh Tao Island (and I'm sure in other touristy locations) there are little pancake shops on wheels that go around feeding hungry party-goes. Ross's pancake special: Pancake tops with a banana, one egg, chocolate sauce and coconut cream!

Japan: A crazy week in Tokyo. Wow, it didnt feel like asia....everything was clean and the city runs like clockwork. Toilets keep your bum warm while making sounds to cover up your own noices, your seafood meal is still alive literally a couple of minutes before you eat it, no one j-walks and no one breaks any rules. People give their McDonald's order via mobile bluetooth, you get the attention of a waiter by pressing a buzzer, and an appology message is given when i train runs 1 minute late. Loved the place, wanna go back, preferably with a tour guide by the name of Zena Japanese Food: Nearly every restaurant I went to only had menus in Japanese, so I had heaps of amazing food but cant tell you the names of any of it. Most times I just randomly picked an item on the menu. My first meal in the country included squid, octopus, and other weird looking raw fish. Strangely enough it all tasted fantastic. In Tokyo 7/11 stores offer a fantastic range of take-away meals, no one eats in the street (i do) and drinking alcohol in public is allowed (when in Rome...) Hong Kong: Cool place. It took a couple of days to see the beautiful side of HK. The pollution and crazy number of ugly high-rises was too much at first, but the bustling street shopping, delicious food, energetic vibe and friendly people makes HK a very lovable city. Its definitely worth a weeks stop next time any of you are going through

____________________________________________________________________________________________

China,Central Asia,Dubai‏‏

-------------------------------------

Im currently finishing up 12 days in Dubai. I've been looked after proper,good food,company, and lots of crazy hot sun. Since my last email I've travelled through China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Highlights and points of wisdom as follows:

China: - Hefei was a fantastic place. 3hr train ride west of Shanghai, hefei isn't a touristy place at all. Chilled out, modest night life and really good food. I was lucky enough to spend time with some university students which was eye opening. Their blind patriotism is scary, and don't even think about having an adult conversation about China's actions in Tibet - Chinese trains aren't bad at all, just don't buy any food on board and avoid use of the toilets where ever possible (36 hour trips can be a bit tricky) - KTV (karaoke TV - sitting in a room with mic's, TV screen, singing like you do in the shower) is embarrassing the first time....., and doesn't get any better the second time, but it's very Chinese and must be experienced if one visits China - Beijing has it all. The Great Wall, historic architecture, highways where houses were only months before the olympic games, and fantastic public transport. The Hutongs are where it's at. They're sort of like Melbourne's alleys, they are what makes the city, what adds to its cultural depth and where unique bars and restaurants spring up. I didn't have long in Beijing, but a good portion of my time there was spent enjoying what the hutongs had to offer, and on Anzac day that offering included an Aussie bar serving VB and Crown lager! - Xi'an has the army of terracotta warriors, which are pretty cool, but it was the Muslem Quarter of the city (centered around a wide, leafy and happening street) that was really interesting. An exciting mix of foods, people and energy - Xinjiang Province, NW China didn't feel like China. The people are different, so is the food, religion, culture and the countryside. It's no surprise Xinjiang people want their own country. The wild west is much less populated than the east and you really do feel like you are in the middle of nowhere

Kyrgyzstan: - The border crossing into Kyrgyzstan from China is on a 3500m mountain pass. There is a no man's land (disputed territory) between the two countries that takes about an hour to drive across. People live in this area, so they effectively don't live in a country. The checkpoint to enter Kyrgyzstan consisted of an old farm gate and a few soldiers (sorry,no photos allowed so cant show you). As we drove from the border crossing it was like I was on a different planet. The terrain was barren, mountainous, and half covered in snow. The condition of the road nicely matched its surroundings - Many places didn't have hotels so we stayed inside Kyrgyz homes,which was amazing. It was the same deal with restaurants. Some towns didn't really have restaurants, they were big halls with some tables and a couple of meal choices.......Central Asia definitely isn't vegetarian friendly - We travelled around the country by minibus as there is no public transport. There is also very little infrastructure and the Kyrgyz economy hasn't been in good shape since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Talking to an old Kyrgyz woman at dinner in Bishkek, she spoke of her love for the period under Stalin and how she wished another Stalin would come along and bring back the 'good old days'....Its amazing hearing the opinions of someone who comes from a very different place and time - My highlight of Kyrgyzstan was walking outside my Yurt (traditional Kyrgyz tent/hut) in the morning and seeing everything around me covered in snow.....wow, it was unforgettable. Kyrgyz countryside is so beautiful!!

Uzbekistan: - Much more developed and prosperous than Kyrgyzstan. Uzbekistan is filled with history and beautiful old architecture. The food is very similar to Kyrgyzstan though; salads (mainly tomato and cucumber), soap, bread bread and more bread, mutton, and everything is seasoned with dill. Fat is considered the best part of the animal so a beef soap will contain very little actual beef - The largest note is 1000 Uzbek Som which equals about 75AUS cents,so paying for dinner for 6 people requires several hundred notes.....i went out with some rich russians one night and they carried a separate bag for their cash! - Tashkent was surprisingly clean,with some nice restaurants, bars and night spots. The streets were really wide and lined with big trees, giving it a spacious and natural feel....really cool place

I think the real advantage of travelling such a long distance over land is that one is able to experience the gradual shift in culture, language, religion, people and landscape. Travelling from Beijing to Tashkent educated me in the similarities and differences between the various cultures along the way

Kyrgyzstan was definitely the highlight for me. If any of you are looking for an interesting and very different location for your next holiday, try out Kyrgyzstan. Just prepare yourself for a real culture shock

Dubai: - Kyrgyzstan wasn't a huge culture shock for me. I've seen many countries that are rough around the edges, but Dubai....wow, that was a super shock to the senses. Four the first two days my head was spinning. The abundance of wealth, shiny everything, big tasteless buildings and fast cars was such a massive change from Asia/Central Asia. The heat was also a slap in the face, mid 40s every day - Now that I've spend 1 1/2 weeks here I've come to like Dubai.....in a strange sort of way. It's not a place I could call home, but its exciting, shocking and a continual assault on the senses. So many cultures are mashed together, and it works, in a very unique way - Its the city that tries to be everything and have everything. From the biggest mall in the world, a sky field in a shopping center,the only 7star hotel in the world,the tallest dancing waterfall, to the most tasteless buildings in the world

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The European Adventure: Part One Finland Estonia Latvia Italy

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From now on my group emails will be a bit different. No more talk of long train rides, sick stomachs, interesting smells, or middle-of-nowhere experiences.....Now, it's all about nice restaurants, beautiful cities, fine art, trendy clothing.......and street fights in animal costumes (reference you tube: ). Ok, so my budget doesn't allow for most of these things, but even still, there has been a huge shift in the way I travel from Asia to Europe. Some examples:

- I stay in backpacker dorms instead of midrange private guesthouse rooms with en-suite, and I pay double the price

- The backpack has gone, bag on wheels much better

- A fresh juice at the local juice bar costs AU$5, the same price as 25 fresh juices in India

- Less mosques, minarets and temples, replaced by a bucket load of churches

- I'm no longer the tallest person in the room....though I'm still the coolest

Finland: Helsinki is a rocking city. Beautiful when the sun is out, pretty plain for the other 350 days of the year though. Definitely worth a visit is summer for 20 hours a day of sun, parties, and interesting conversations with Finnish folk. Must sees include: The Sunday market at the end of the Esplanade and The Tiger nightclub

Estonia: Tallinn is a small city with a nice little old town. You can walk around the outside of the old town in an hour, but to explore all the little alleys takes the best part of a week. I spent nine days in the old town, which had a community feel to it. Lots of good food (The African Kitchen), long sunny days, and easy to approach friendly people. Big shout out to the Tallinn Backpackers gang!

Latvia: I love this country, so could write all day about it......I won't, will dot point you to death:

- Midsummer camp in the countryside - singing, dancing, food, beer, all night saunas

- Riga for a month - Huge apartment in centre of old town - dinner parties, cool people, Pancake & Mojito parties, graduations, beach volley ball, jiu jitsu, salsa dancing, amazing architecture!

o The House Hostel, Barons Backpackers, Riga Old Town Hostel

o Lido's (Latvian restaurant in Dome square), Bistro next to Old Town Hostel,

- Liepaja - Cool beach town. The sand dunes 20km south are fantastic

- I almost cried as I left Riga. I tell ya, there's something special about this city

DV Family holiday - Italy: I met my family in Rome and we travelled east to Abruzzo region to visit the town where my Dad was born, Roccacaramanico. Abruzzo is such a beautiful area - green rolling hills, mountains, and amazing little old towns dotted around the area. Highlights include: Climbing Mt. Morrone, relaxing in the sun, family stretch sessions, the food.....oh, the food!!

Some Ross Wisdom: - Up to a week in a city or town gives you time to see the tourist attractions, meet a few locals and try the local cuisine, beer, etc

- Over a week allows you to get beneath the surface of a city. You start to see what makes the place tick, what the people are really like, and what the true vibe of the city is. You form good friendships and begin to feel like a guest in the community rather than just a tourist looking in from the sidelines. People respect that you are giving their city a good amount of time so they open up to you more. A side effect of all this, is that you may fall in love with the place and not want to leave. However, the beautiful experiences you do have during a prolonged stay in one location definitely out ways the heartache when you have to leave

- Must have's for the professional traveller: Olympic rings, skipping rope, blender, audio books, language CD's

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The European Adventure: Part Two

--------------------------------------------------

I write this email from Iran, with my European Adventure (for this year at least) behind me. My plan was to spend 2-3 months in Europe. Five months later I finally left, with a longer list of things I still want to do and places I want to see in this huge continent. So much has happened since I said goodbye to my family in Italy back in July. My journal would be up to the third book if I wasn't four months behind in writing it

Dot points for your reading pleasure:

Croatian Islands are spectacular. Benita and I explored the Islands and Dubrovnik for nine days. Lots of ice-cream and UV rays were consumed

My cousins in London let me call their mansion home for short breaks between trips around continental Europe. Biddy and Paul's five star hotel is worth the high rates. The room on my first visit had a huge bath with disco lights, while for my third visit I was put in the presidential suite with probably the coolest bathroom ever

I fell in love with a diffident 12 year old blonde in London.....so we drove around Europe for three months together. Her name was Michelle, and we hit it off. This sexy VW Golf survived over 20,000km of driving over some pretty bad roads....and she didn't cause me an trouble, well apart from a burst tyre while doing 130 on a highway in heavy rain and traffic

La Tomatina, Bunol Spain. A town of 9,000 packed with 30-40,000 people for a one hour (that turned into three hours) tomato fight. The whole event confirmed one thing for me: Spanish are crazy people....and I love them. I was finding tomato seeds in my hair and clothing for days afterwards

Belgium: I'm not a smart man, but I do know that Belgium waffles don't come from Australia.....I think Portugal? So, I was a bit surprised seeing an Australia waffle shop in Antwerp. Believe the rumours, Belgium has mouth watering, stomach expanding, unbelievably good waffles, chocolate and beer

Coffee shops in Amsterdam don't serve coffee, but the red light district does have red lights (Chris Mays helped me confirm that one)

Austrians should be the fattest people in the world. They aren't big on the whole exercise thing and they have an abundance of really good fatty foods. The correct alignment of the stars meant that I met up with my cousins Kylie and Virginia in Vienna. We spent two days eating all the cake, chocolate, etc that our poor stomachs could handle

Spent my 26th birthday canyoning in Slovenia. Watched Geelong win the AFL Grand Final (arguably the best final ever) in an Irish Pub in Ljubljana

Drove to Italy (Trieste) for lunch from Slovenia (Piran). I had gnocchi AND pizza

Piran is a little old town situated on the short stretch of Adriatic coastline in Slovenia. Romantic, relaxing, and lots of good seafood!

At a Latin dance club in a small Hungarian town, a local woman told me that my English was so bad she thought it was my second language.....For all those people out there who also struggle with their first language, I punched her in the ovaries. Not really, but I did give her a mean look

Spent three days trekking over the High Tatras mountains from Slovakia to Poland

Visiting the Auschwitz and Birkenau WWII death camps just outside Krakow in Poland was not an experience I want to have again. Saying that, I recommend all to see the camps with their own eyes

Driving through Lithuania nearly killed Michelle and I. Snow, rain, fog, more snow. It made for interesting driving

The WWI battlefields, cemeteries and museums around Flanders in the south of Belgium gave me a much better understanding of the Great War and what a sterling job the ANZACs did

Allowing three months to see Europe, or even a year, would still leave you wanting more. Each country needs at least two weeks.....unless you end up liking it, then you need a month or two

Iran Highlights:

Spent over a week enjoying life in Tehran. It's modern by Iranian standards. Most women dress like their Western counterparts (plus the head scarf of course)

Just outside the city of Shiraz are the remains of the ancient city of Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid). Nearly 2,600 years old, the city was almost completely destroyed by Alexander the Great just over 100 years after it was built. Persepolis is one of the most important historical sites in Iran

The Iranian island of Kish in the Persian Gulf is where many Iranians travel for a beach holiday. Kish definitely isn't your standard resort island. The men relax on the beach and swim in the Gulf while women sit to the side fully covered, tanning their hands and face

Iranians are kind and inviting people. I was often invited into homes for meals, offered a bed to sleep in, and driven around to various attractions

Yazd, surrounded by desert was the most beautiful city I visited in Iran. Yazd is the oldest continually inhabited city in Iran, and possibly the oldest in the world, competing with Damascus. The old part of the city is filled with beautiful mud brick buildings, accompanied by spectacular mosques and minarets and a bustling bazaar

The desert around Yazd is filled with history....and would you believe it, lots of sand. A Zoroastrian Silent Tower, the place where the last Zoroastrian escaped to as the Arabs killed off the rest, a 7,000 year old palace, and a tiny old desert town that is still inhabited. This area was by far the highlight of Iran

The biggest problem with travelling in Iran is that before you even get there you've been brainwashed by all the negative media surrounding the country, the nuclear program, etc. As long as you avoid some areas in the south east, Iran is a safe and very enjoyable country to travel in

Words of wisdom:

Travelling for long periods of time in non-English speaking countries results in ones vocabulary reducing to about 100 words. It's so bad.....it's really not good

Lengthy stays in cities every now and then is the only way to really get to know a country, avoid burnout from prolonged travel, and make good connections with locals (not just other travellers)

Car is a fantastic way to travel around Europe. It's not the cheapest mode of transport, but it gives you a greater degree of freedom....getting off the tourist trail is so much easier

__________________________________________________________________________________________

South America: Part One

---------------------------------------------

- My first stop in South America was Bogota, Colombia. In my first three days in the capital, there was a shooting, knife attack down the street from my hostal, and I was attacked by a crazy local 24 hours after landing. But don't let that put you off planning a holiday to Colombia - over the following 7 weeks I had no troubles at all, in fact, I had an amazing time!!!

- 6 weeks in Medellin learning spanish, salsa dancing and brazilian jiu jitsu. Medellin is Colombia's 2nd largest city, at an altitude of 1500m, it has perfect weather all year 'round. Beautiful people, fantastic vibe, a crisp clear spanish (so good place to learn the language), tasty food and the colombian 'fiesta' culture - Medellin felt like home from the day I arrived. Medellin is even more alive around Christmas - with many outdoor festivals, and a Christmas lights display along the river stretching 1 km

- Peru: I flew into Lima in late January....and I'm still in Peru....and I still haven't seen Machu Picchu! I don't know about you, but I knew almost nothing about Peru before arriving in South America. Everybody talks about Argentina, Brazil and maybe Ecuador, but apart from Machu Picchu, Peru doesn't really get a mention. Peru is a travellers dream destination, this country has it all - beautiful mountains, historical ruins, cultural festivals, desert, jungle, ancient cities, amazing coast line, world class surf beaches, wildlife, GREAT FOOD, and funky cities - the list goes on

Some Peru highlights so far: - Colca Canyon: One of the biggest canyons in the world - deeper than the grand canyon. I did a three day trek into the canyon - danced the night way as part of a local festival, relaxed in natural spring pools, and did some walking

- Mt. Chachani: climbed my first mountain over 6000m. It was a very quick climb - two days, one night, but sleeping at base camp (5400m) after leaving Arequipa at 2300m was one hell of an experience - whats that called.....'character building'

- Lima: The seafood restaurants will blow your mind away. Come to Lima, eat Ceviche, relax in Miraflores, drink Pisco Sours (local drink) - its all good

- Surfing in Huanchaco: I've been living and volunteering in Huanchaco since the end of Feb. Huanchaco is a quiet beach town of 15,000 people about 30 minutes from Trujillo in the north of Peru. The weather is great, the surf is consistent, the food is brilliant (cooked by my Peruvian mother Patricia), and there's a muay thai club I can train at in Trujillo - so it's everything one needs to live happy. I'm living in a family run hostal - they don't speak english and they all love to talk, so my spanish is getting worked overtime

  • The Beginning - getting into traveller mode
  • Jul 28, 2011
Trip Start Jan 25, 2009
1
103
Trip End Ongoing


Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines
shadow

There are 103 entries in this blog

Start your own travel blog

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: