That's All Folks!

By: leelefever on January 6, 2007 - 12:04pm

Dear reader, this dispatch concludes a 2 year odyssey for us – 1 year of preparation and 1 year of international travel.  And so it ends with one last dispatch before this site is frozen in time. 

Before we say goodbye, we want to remind you that a trip like this is something you can do too.  We often hear statements like “I wish I could do a trip like that” or “I could never do that now”.  Our message is that you can do it if you’re willing to make the trip a priority in your life.  The hardest part is mental – convincing yourself that a year of travel is a realistic and achievable goal.  Once you’re convinced, good long-term planning accounts for everything else.  It may not happen next year of or in five years, but the key is to start planning now. You’ll be surprised at how things fall into place.

  • Step 1: Set a realistic departure date (this enables you to plan ahead) and stick to it
  • Step 2: Alter your lifestyle to start saving money responsibly
  • Step 3: Tell your friends and family (a little peer pressure does wonders)

If you need help, we wrote a lot about our preparation and what we called “The Monetorium” – a change in lifestyle built around financing your next big adventure.  Further, you can always contact us with questions. 

Lastly, we want to extend an earth-sized thank you to the friends, family and readers who made us feel at home where ever we were.  Your comments, emails and advice gave us more support than we can put into words.  We hope that, through this web site, our trip became your trip too.

Into a New World

By: leelefever on September 28, 2006 - 12:24am

It's clear that in the short trip from Russia to Finland, we have entered a different world. Being hungry right off the train, we quickly found a cafe close to the station and walked in.  We are used to struggling through menus in other languages and this one was in Finnish.  However, what happened next did not happen for the last few months - a smiling gentleman approached us and said, in a slight Scandanavian accent  "would you like me to translate for you?"  Whahhh?  It was true - we are now in a different and more familiar world. 

The issue right now, however, is exactly which part of this world we'll see. Right now we have a place to stay tonight in Helsinki and that is the full extent of our future plans.  Before us lies the whole of Europe and where we'll go next depends on which hour you ask us.  Currently, we're considering at trip to Finnish Lapland - inside the Artic Circle. From there, maybe Sweden and/or Estonia and Latvia.    

Beijing to Helsinki Over 20 Days

By: leelefever on August 5, 2006 - 3:46am

It’s been a big and long awaited day for us.  Since the trip was just a twinkle in our eye, we have been looking forward to the Trans-Siberian Railway, which will take us from Beijing, China to Moscow, Russia and then to Helsinki, Finland over 20 days.  It is the longest train journey on earth.

We’ve found that it is one thing to want to do it and another to actually get everything lined up to make it happen.  The problem is trying to plan the travel and get Chinese and Russian visas while on the road.  For a 30 day Russian tourist visa, Americans have to outline an exact itinerary and have letters of invitation from hotels along the way.  Further, because we chose not to plan ahead too far, we have to get the Chinese visa and Russian visa while we are in (expensive) Hong Kong.  This is not to mention trying to plan the Trans-Siberian journey in the midst of the visa applications.

Luckily we found help and today we’re rejoicing in our luck at settling the whole issue in one fell swoop.  We saw an ad for an agency called Monkey Business that specialized in Trans-Siberian journeys that has an office in Hong Kong.  Today we walked into the office and within about 1.5 hours, we had an itinerary including lodging and all trains from Beijing all the way to Helsinki and applications for both Chinese and Russian visas. All we have to do is drop by the office on Thursday afternoon and we’ll be set until late September – certainly the longest range plans we’ve had thus far.  We feel like we’ve avoided a HUGE pain in the butt and have a lot of trust in our new friend Kelvin at Monkey Business. This is him:

Here’s our itinerary:

  • August 11th:  Hong Kong to Guangzhou, China
  • September 9th: Depart Beijing, China
  • September 10th:  Ulanbaatar, Mongolia (2 nights plus travel)
  • September 14th:  Irkutsk, Russia (Lake Baikal-Siberia) (2 nights plus travel)
  • September 18th: Ekaterinburg, Russia (Urals) (2 nights plus travel)
  • September 21st:  Moscow, Russia (2 nights plus travel)
  • September 24th:  St. Petersburg (3 nights)
  • September 27th:  Helsinki, Finland

It feels a little unreal to have plans like this and we’re both really, really excited.  We spend our time in a “Ger camp” (a Ger is a tent like structure, similar to a yurt) in Mongolia and do “homestays” in the homes of Russian families in Siberia.  We’ll spend 8 nights on the train with lots of instant noodles and coffee and perhaps a little vodka. In the end, we’ll hopefully gain some good friends in other travelers and local Mongolians and Russians.  After spending longer in Asia than we expected, it’s nice to finally see the “around” part of this around the world trip come to fruition.

Help with the NEXT 6 Months? (Please)

By: leelefever on May 22, 2006 - 7:20am

We’re quickly approaching the halfway mark of our trip, which also means that we’ve written about 6 months of information and posted 6 months of pictures onto this web site.  On our minds recently is what we will post in the next 6 months.  We want your help with making the next six months more compelling than the past.

First, we should let you know our goals for the site because there are a few.  Luckily two of the major goals are accomplished with the same stroke- documenting our trip and sharing it with you, dear reader.  Selfishly, we want this site to be our virtual memoir and photo gallery – something we can refer to in years to come.  Of course, writing wouldn’t be nearly as fun or exciting without knowing that there are people who are interested in reading.  Your involvement in the form of comments, emails and travel experiences is the secret sauce that motivates us to post as much as we do.  That is the beauty of blogging- it’s a two way street and when we write, we think about what would be interesting and compelling for you to read. 

As such, we’re curious about your thoughts, ideas and/or feedback.  What would you like to see more or less of?  What you expect to see that we haven’t posted?  Can you think of specific posts (or types of posts) that are your favorites? 

Many thanks and arigatos!

New Itinerary

By: leelefever on March 3, 2006 - 1:55am
For the first time in a long time, we have updated the itinerary through March 28.  Lots to look forward to and a full helping of foreign people' languages, food and cities.

Our 10 New Years Resolutions

By: leelefever on January 4, 2006 - 1:00am




  1. Do not drop laptop in a river or other body of water
  2. Do not wear a single pair of underwear more than 5 days in a row without a wash
  3. Stay out of Turkish prisons
  4. Remember that our dog Amos is happy in a comfy bed with Mark at home
  5. Be adventurous with food, even as eyeballs stare back at us
  6. Keep the contents of our pockets in our possession
  7. Keep the contents of our digestive system flowing in the proper direction
  8. While on chicken buses, do not play with the chickens
  9. Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  10. Have a good time, even as adverse conditions prevail

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On Location: Hawaii

By: leelefever on January 3, 2006 - 11:22am
Our time so far in Hawaii has been marked by relaxation, exercise and food, lots of food.  Sachi's Mom is a wizard in the kitchen and there is always some wonderful smell wafting across our noses. 
All this food represents a bit of a conundrum for us. We're heading for places where people wear little clothes and we'll be emulating the locals I'm sure. While neither of us have problems with weight, I'm personally weighing more than I ever have at the moment and would prefer to start the trip on a less giggly foot.  We've heard conflicting reports about how travel affects weight.
Another conundrum regards being in Hawaii, but not taking advantage of the islands as most people would.  For instance, we're on Oahu, where Honolulu is located. We would tell people to really experience Hawaii, go to an outer island like Kauai. Yet, here we are for 7 days.  We looked seriously at going deep sea fishing which would have cost about $400 for two people. But we chose not to go.
Why? It's all about opportunity costs.  Hawaii will always be here for us, it's comparatively easy. Islands off the coast of Malaysia are not so easy, so we'll trade Hawaiian islands for Malaysian ones.  The same is true for fishing- we'll trade deep sea fishing in Hawaii for doing it in New Zealand. Each dollar we spend in America is a dollar we could spend in a place we may never visit again. It helps too that our dollar may buy more.
We're also saying goodbye to the last bits of Americana.  There can't be a better example than this, which we found on a walk around the neighborhood:

Our Packing List for World Travel

By: leelefever on January 2, 2006 - 12:30pm

One of the most popular questions people ask is "How do you pack for such a trip?"  The answer is "very carefully", but that doesn't help much.  So, we're providing this list for curious people and people who may be planning a similar trip.  Keep in mind that we haven't left yet, so this is what we *think* we'll need.

Sachi's Bag

Shorts 2
Zip-off Capri pants 1
Long Pants 1
Tank Tops 2
Long Sleeve (light and heavy) 2
Swim Shorts 1
Swimsuit 1
Rain Jacket 1
Pack Towel (3X2) 1
Underwear  4
Socks 3
Sleep Sac 1
Money Belt 1
Small Satchel 1
Misc. small pouch 1
packs of pocket kleenex 8
Elastic Head Band  1
Plastic Comb 1
Hair Barrett 1
Pack elastic hair bands 1
Foot Scrubber 1
Toothbrush 2
Deodorant 2
Lotion with spf 15 1
Daily Vitamins 1btl
Inflatable airplane pillow 1
Motion Bands (pair) (wrist) 1
Waterproof pouch 2
Pack-It Cubes (Full Cube) 1
Pack-It Cubes (Half Cube) 1
Earphones 1
Backpack (w/ zip-off day pack) 1
Compression Sac 2
LongSleeve Fleece  1
Padlock 1
Hiking shoes 1
Sandals 1
Pack Towel (3X2) 1
Scarf 1
Bandana` 1
Passport 1
Copy of passport 1
Copy of Birth Certificate 1
Pairs of Eyeglasses 2

Lee's Bag

Raincoat 1
Padded gadget pouch 1
Earphones 1
Sunglasses 1
Moneybelt 1
Zip-off long pants 1
Short sleeve button down 2
Shorts 2
Long sleeve pullover 1
T-shirts 3
Underwear - boxers 3
Socks (pairs) 3
Hooded Pullover   1
Pack-It Cubes (Full Cube) 1
Pack-It Cubes (Half Cube) 1
Waterproof zip-lock 1
Padlock 1
Wirelock 1
Laptop ac adapter 1
Palm treo adapter 1
Palm treo sync cord 1
Earphone plug adapter 1
Extra styli for Treo 2
Headphone splitter 1
Pentax camera charger 1
USB SD card reader 1
Camera Pentax Optio WP 1
Extra Camera Battery 1
PalmOne Treo 650 1
Extra Treo Battery 1
Protective pouch (laptop) 1
Sony Vaio T350 series laptop 1
Extra Laptop Battery 1
256MB SD card 1
1GB SD card 1
2GB SD card 1
Small stuff sack 1
Sandals 1
Hiking shoes 1
Backpack w/ zip-off daypack 1
Wristwatch 2
Sleep sac 1
Electrical adapters universal 1 set
Compression sac 1
Hat 1
Sunglasses 1

Shared (both bags)

Dental floss 1
Toothpaste 1
Bar of soap 1
Shampoo (4 oz.) 1
Conditioner (4 oz.) 1
Sunblock SPF 23 (4 oz.) 1
Medical Kit 1
Spare Zip Locks bags 5
Doxycycline (Malaial)  1btl
Zithromax (Travelers Diarrhea)  1btl
Trans-derm motion patches  1
Immodium 1btl
Benadryl Tablets 1btl
Advil Cold and Sinus 1btl
Prilosec OTC 1btl
Ex-Lax 1btl
Pepto-Bismol Tablets 1btl
Aloe 1btl
Tylenol 1btl
Ibuprofen 1btl
Duct Tape (3 yds) 1
Zoomkit photo album 2
Q-tips 30
Benedryl cream 1
Purell 2
Chapstick 2
Mini mag flashlight 1
Sawyer insect repellent 2
TwinF Cards 200
Various Guidebooks 1-2
Deck of Cards 1
Caribiners 4
Passport Pictures (extra) 40
Rubber bands 20
Safety Pins 20
Gift Cards 2
Traveler's Checks 5


TraveI Insurance - World Nomads

By: leelefever on January 1, 2006 - 9:42pm

In doing research for the trip, we quickly learned that travel insurance is recommended and decided that it would be a necessary cost.  Luckily we got hooked up with World Nomads, which is a provider of travel insurance for organizations like Lonely Planet.  We were a bit skeptical at first but liked their converage and really felt good about the way they communicate- it means a lot to us.  Here is an example of how they describe their coverage:

If you are wildlife-watching in the extremes of Alaska and are attacked by a polar bear, are you covered? It depends. You see, if the bear attacks you while you were watching them as a part of a wildlife safari or trekking, then YES we would cover you (assuming the bear didn't catch you of course), but if you were chasing the bear having had a beer too many the night before and you thought it would be a laugh, er, then NO we wouldn't.

We're happy to have World Nomads as a TwinF sponsor for our travel insurance and, judging from our experience so far, we recommend them to others. We should also disclose that we are also a World Nomads affiliate, meaning that if we point potential customers to World Nomads, we can make a small commission.

The Last Moments of Home

By: leelefever on December 11, 2005 - 12:09am
With over a year of planning leading up to this very night, you'd think things would be 100% in order and we could relax and take in home for the waning moments of our normal lives.  Not so.  Tonight has been a surreal fire drill, with mutiple lists going, things getting lost, champagne getting drank, and emotions running high. We could use just 1 or 2 more hours.
The clock reads 12:1O am and today is December 11th, a date that has been top-of-mind for a very long time.  We can't really believe it's here. Tomorrow we will wake up at 5:30 am and soon after, board a plane to New York City, leaving all normalcy behind for a year. It all starts in about 5 hours.
I just asked Sachi and the only words she uses to describe the feeling right at this moment is "free".  By the way, her words came as the walks around the house with her backpack on.  When, I asked "how does it feel" she said "heavier than I thought".  I had to say, "not that - I mean how does it feel to be living this moment?"  I guess "free" is a good way to put it, though it's a pretty damn heavy feeling too.

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