Celebrating our Two Year Travel Birthday

11th July 2014. We’ve been two years on the road – 104 weeks, or 730 days – where has it gone?!!

Celebrating two years on the road this week with a 'cake' in the BArbie Cafe and a supper at Flavours restaurant, Taipei

Celebrating two years on the road with a ‘cake’ in the Barbie Cafe and a supper at Flavours restaurant, Taipei

And now we’re embarking on Year 3 …. But only for a month, then we’ll be home, which we all have mixed feelings about! Can’t wait to see all our friends and family, enjoy some home comforts and we’re pretty happy about enjoying (hopefully) a pleasant British summertime. In those 730 days we’ve explored three continents – South America, Asia and Australia, plus Oceania – the collective name for the Pacific islands, which are not considered part of any continent. We’ve visited 32 countries, and unbelievably taken 57 flights – I’ve no idea how we managed so many considering we actually try to take trains, ferries and buses when we can!!

A rough guide to our family gap year (or two!)

A (very) rough guide to our family gap year (or two!)

In the past year we have lingered where we wanted, but also tried to up the pace in between to fit in extra adventures and still make it home in time for a new school year! Zoe’s serious passport-page shortage crisis, has been survived thanks to very accommodating immigration officials stamping where we asked them and one even putting a visa over another stamp. He didn’t even request a bribe!! You can see the details of our routes in our ‘Journey Pages’ drop down menu at Our adventures so far…. the first year and Our adventures so far … the second year

We seem to  be reflecting a lot these days on what we’ve experienced, what we’ve learned and what it will be like going back home and we’ll share it all, eventually, probably after we’re back. Suffice to say, travelling together and spending 24x7x730 days on top of each other isn’t always a bed of roses, even if our stories sometime make it sound that way. Sometimes it drives us crazy! We’ve had our share of homesickness, illness, stitches, allergies, parasites, we have our own song for getting the runs, the kids squabble and fight, we get sick of packing yet again, of saying goodbye to new friends almost as soon as we’ve met them and we’ve often fought and torn out our hair as we struggled to make road school work for us….!

But the rewards have been great – we’ve grown together, and closer (in between squabbling!) travelled in the footsteps of great explorers, received the most amazing welcomes, had some wonderful adventures, made many new friends and learned how to cherish them. We’ve discovered so much about the planet and the people in it, how powerful yet fragile is the world – the havoc wreaked by natural disasters and by man – war, earthquakes, tsunamis, genocide, displacement and yet so much beauty and harmony, friendship and kindness.

Last week, we were excited to be featured in an article in the Boston Globe that you might like to take a peek at ‘Gappers’ Leave Their Lives Behind for a Year (or Two) to Travel When I look back, I am endlessly thankful for what we’ve been able to do and staggered by how the kids have changed. When we watch them boldly interacting with the many different people we meet, navigating new languages and currencies, across cities and tackling crazy Daddy-challenges, I can’t believe how they’ve transformed and yet they are still just themselves too! We have no idea how they’ll get along back in a structured school environment, it will be so different but if their ability to adapt day to day in our travels is anything to go by, they’re going to be fine! This is how they looked before we left June-July 2012 – life back home and many goodbyes to friends and family…

dsadsadadads

Saying goodbye to Great Grandma (hope to celebrate her 100th birthday in a few months, last sports day, Jubilee celebrations and a farewell camping trip with best friend Jamie.

And here they were with Oma as we set off  for our flight on 11 July 2012 – Ben still has this red day bag and the rugby top (a bit holey)  and trousers (a little short now) and a lot more hair, we can’t remember him having it cut since New Zealand!! Zoe’s clothes and bag are long worn/grown out of and replaced , her hair hasn’t been cut at all and has grown long!  Lara’s bag was lost in Vietnam a couple of months ago inside a holdall of stuff, left in the street when a taxi dropped us off all weary from an overnight train ride and none of us picked it up! Her clothes which were well worn, especially the Barbie top finally gave up the ghost this year! She hasn’t had a haircut since Tonga but her hair just doesn’t seem to grow!!  All trainers have been replaced once or twice as feet have grown!  As a family, I think the running total of flip-flops has easily reached 20 pairs, though Ben has been determined in making his flip-flops last to their final breath and has only had four pairs!

Leaving Oma's house for Heathrow, July 11th, 2012

Leaving Oma’s house for Heathrow, July 11th, 2012.

A year ago, I posted some my ramblings about our first year at  ‘A year of adventures half way round the world.’   Year Two has seen us leave New Zealand, island hop some more in the south West Pacific, make a big loop around Eastern Australia before crossing on a 3 day Indian Pacific rail trip from Sydney to Perth, then we’ve zig zagged our way through South East Asia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Southern India and North East Asia, as you can see!   Blogs are still lined up, hopelessly behind as ever, meanwhile here is a quick photo-fest and some favourite moments from this year…..

 

July 2013 we celebrated our first year birthday in New Zealand…

We adored our time in New Zealand with Claire and Jack, the wonderful Kiwi outdoors and feeling  alot like we were 'at home' down under!

We adored our time in New Zealand with Claire and Jack, the wonderful Kiwi outdoors and feeling a lot like we were ‘at home’ down under!

August 2013. Back in the Pacific, we swam with humpback whales in Tonga, basked in the warm welcome and waters of Fiji and watched stunning Mount Yasur erupt in Vanuatu

Leaves you breathless! Swimming with a Humpback and her calf

Leaves you breathless! Swimming with a Humpback and her calf

 

There she blows!

There she blows! Looking into Mt Yasur, Vanuatu

September – October 2013. Our Australia Adventure was incredible – in 6 weeks we whizzed all over by road, rail and air, we stayed with and had some fantastic times with alot of friends and family in Sydney, Cairns, Geelong and Philip Island, we camped, took two campervan trips and criss crossed the country on the classic Ghan and Indian Pacific railway journeys.

Amazing Australia

Amazing Australia

Crossing Australia on the Indan Pacific

Crossing Australia from Sydney to Perth

November – December 2013 And so to Asia, Bali was so amazing we went back for a second month in December and January, flitting off to Sumatra, Malaysia and Singapore briefly in in between!

Beautiful Bali, Malaysia and Singapore

Beautiful Bali, Malaysia and Singapore

The elephants have more fun with us after the bathing and showering! Sumatra

The elephants have more fun with us after the bathing and showering! Sumatra

Amazing day out with new friends hiking in the National Park then enjoying the beaches and boat back.  Memorable for the fun we had and memorable for Zoe's jellyfish sting and the brotherly love of Ben peeing on her to relieve it.  Penang, Malaysia (embarrassing photos withheld!)

A day with new friends hiking in the National Park then enjoying the beaches and boat back. Memorable for the fun we had and memorable for Zoe’s jellyfish sting and the brotherly love of Ben peeing on her to relieve it. Penang, Malaysia (embarrassing photos withheld!)

January 2014 So we eventually tore ourselves away from Bali – if it wasn’t for the 1 month Indonesian visa, we’d probably still be there! We headed to Malaysian Borneo, and then to KL before heading off to Sri Lanka, all on insanely cheap Air Asia flights that we couldn’t resist and really made us shift our itinerary to take advantage:)

a morning with the cousins! Borneo.

A morning with the cousins! Borneo.

February  – March 2014 We flew across the Indian Ocean and stopped in Sri Lanka and then the Maldives before landing in S India

Wonderful train journey in Sri Lanka, Lara takes a hort break from the views for some maths!

Wonderful train journey in Sri Lanka, Lara takes a short break from the views for some maths!

 

A fabulous afternoon in Negombo with two of our favourite travelling families:) One of the highlights of our year 2 journey was hooking into a virtual community of travelling families and meeting them whenever we could. We stayed with and  travelled together with these lovely people through Malaysia, Indonesia and again here in Sri Lanka.

One of the highlights of our adventures has been hooking into a virtual community of traveling families met through our blogs and a fantastic facebook group, and meeting in person whenever opportunities arise. I think we have met up with about 15 families and made some amazing friends. We stayed with and travelled together with these lovely people at different times in Malaysia, Indonesia and again in Sri Lanka.

A taste of South India - these are my next post, so watch for more!

Breathtaking South India – more in my upcoming posts, watch this space!

April – May 2014 Back to SE Asia to enjoy much craved Thai food, a rare month in one place in Siem Reap, Cambodia and a wonderful journey from south to north in Vietnam before we flew to Hong Kong for the last birthday of the trip – Zoe’s 9th!

At the Bridge on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. And the huge WW2 allied graveyard - amazing history lessons here with the Dead Railway story told in the local museum and along with POW sites and graveyards throughout Asia, Australia and the Pacific.

At the Bridge on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, Thailand. And the huge WW2 allied graveyard – amazing history lessons here with the Dead Railway story told in the local museum and along with POW sites and graveyards throughout Asia, Australia and the Pacific.

Back in Siem Reap at Angkor Wat. Now 6. Last time we visited she was only 3, as seen on our blog header!!

Back in Siem Reap at Angkor Wat. Now 6. Last time we visited she was only 3, as seen on our blog header!! History lessons jump back 1000 years as we explore all the temples of the ancient Khmer Kingdom then fast forward to the 21st century as we learn about the Khmer Rouge regime at the landmine museum and war museum.

 

A great day with our new friends and tour guides at Saigon Street Eats

A great day joining our new friends on one of their wonderful Saigon Street Eat tours. Ben bravely eats the  ‘delicacy’ – a 1000 year old egg, actually preserved for about 100 days !)  We meet for breakfast in a local Pho (noodle) shop, buy all the goodies as we tour the streets and market then finish with a huge feast in the park by the temple where the kids perform Buddhist fortune telling rituals.

Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam. Alot of horrific recent history learned in Cambodia and Vietnam that shocks the kids as having happened in Mum and Dad's lifetimes!!

Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam. A lot of recent history to discover and learn about in Cambodia and Vietnam – it shocks the kids as having happened in Mum and Dad’s lifetimes – we talk a lot about war and life in war zones!! This is world school!

Picturesque Hoi An, Vietnam

Picturesque Hoi An, Vietnam

Birthday Girl loving Hong Kong by day and night!

Birthday Girl loving Hong Kong by day and night!

June 2014 After thinking we wouldn’t have enough passport pages, we managed to get china visa squeezed into our passports in HK, so headed off to do a speedy circuit around China and somehow packed in just about everything on our China bucket list!

Joyful reunion with Dolphin and Dinosaur whom we met in the Maldives, here in their hometown of Guangzhou

Joyful reunion with Dolphin and Dinosaur whom we met in the Maldives, here in their hometown of Guangzhou, with the spectacular Canton tower

Chengdu Panda Reserve, Yangshuo and Longshen Rice terraces, China

Chengdu Panda Reserve, Yangshuo and Longshen Rice terraces, China

The Terracotta Army at Xian and the Forbidden City in Beijing

The Terracotta Army at Xian and the Forbidden City in Beijing

The Great Wall, somewhere that was on my bucket list for so long I couldnt stop smiling!

The Great Wall, somewhere that was on my bucket list for so long I couldn’t stop smiling!

July 2014 And so another year is up as we make shorter than hoped for stops in South Korea Japan and Taiwan, getting just enough of a taster to know we will come back for longer next time! ISoaking up the culture and he heights of Tokyo Sky Tree, worlds tallest tower, 2nd tallest building at 634m, Tokayo and Kyoto, Jpan 9707[1]

Taipei this week, Zoe's building up her travellers bracelet look, the most amazing dumplings ever, Sibling love and Taipei 101 -  tallest building (and tallest structure) in the world 2004-10, being the first to exceed 500m, before being overtaken by the Burg Khalifa.

Taipei this week, Zoe’s building up her travellers bracelet look, the most amazing dumplings ever, sibling love and Taipei 101 – tallest building (and tallest structure) in the world 2004-10, being the first to exceed 500m, before being overtaken by the Burg Khalifa.

Post script. Some days have passed as I’ve been finishing this post – we are back in India, this time in the north. We are in Agra and today were roaming the mighty Taj Mahal – we finally step inside the great mausoleum, shoes off and with signs everywhere to be quiet and not to take photos, it’s surprisingly even more humid and hot inside. Ben and I are lingering and examining the tombs are in the centre. Zoe groans and exclaims ‘Why do we have to be here? Why are you so interested? It’s just a big lump of old marble!’  She picks up back outside where she and Lara find tadpoles to catch in the ornamental ponds until they get told off…. and she’s happy enough taking some fun shots with me before we leave….. but perhaps we’re ready to come home!

It may be a big old lump of marble but its fun to try to pick it up!

It may be a big old lump of marble but its fun to try to pick it up!

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mike McNISH
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 08:50:29

    Amazing……..a time you will always treasure…it has made fascinating reading…..cannot wait to hear how you settle down to a drab normal life!!
    Mike McNISH

    Reply

    • Mo
      Jul 20, 2014 @ 08:53:35

      Thanks Mike, it was a real pleasure being able to catch up with you in Bangkok too 🙂 I will certainly share a post or three sharing how we find the drab normal life !!!!!

      Reply

  2. Bill Cook
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 09:11:57

    Brilliant summation of your two (and still going) years. Looking forward to getting together later this year.

    Reply

  3. Tracey - Life Changing Year
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 11:53:46

    Wow – this is awesome! What great pics and a HUGE adventure you guys have had! You will never be the same!

    Reply

  4. Gloria
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 22:59:58

    Oh I can so relate to the mixed feelings of returning home. Our family of five traveled across 5 continents over 8 months in 2013/14, arriving back in Canada in late January (www.thefab5ontheroad.wordpress.com). As much as we felt travel weary at the time (we loved Africa in the latter part of our journey, but it was exhausting for a host of reasons), I’ve missed being on the road every day since we’ve been back. Every day. It’s a melancholy, “Those were the best months of my entire life”, pit in my stomach kind of sad. I thought that this feeling would pass… but nope. The kids are happy to be back. My husband and I? Not so much. We would back our bags and head out tomorrow if we could. Maybe your experience will be different!

    Reply

    • Mo
      Jul 21, 2014 @ 10:53:49

      Hi Gloria, I enjoyed following your blog, must have missed later installments and didn’t know you were home! I can imagine how the 8 moonths must have passed in a flash – it was around he 8-9 month mark that we felt we simply HAD to start considering a second year – perhaps that’s given us the chance to get it out of our systems, perhaps not! Perhaps the kids won’t even want to go on holiday again, we’ll see. For Martin and I, I think we’ll always have our eye on the next adventure, the next possibility! I wish our paths had crossed. You had an amazing adventure, fitting 5 continents into 8 months, – wow – am headed back to look at the parts of your blog i must have missed 🙂

      Reply

  5. Linda Parker
    Jul 21, 2014 @ 11:55:28

    You have packed in a lifetime of experiences – can’t wait to see you all when you get back, Lara can’t believe how much little Lara has grown! As to returning to formal education, am guessing the children could run the history and geography lessons easily (and make them fun!) Safe travels, Linda and Lara xx

    Reply

  6. Val Phillips
    Jul 21, 2014 @ 17:23:02

    Hi Mo
    Thanks for this amazing round up of your second year which I shared with my pupils at an assembly this morning. They were blown away by all your latest adventures and it led to an interesting discussion about what it would be like to settle down back into school again! They send Ben, Zoe and Lara their love and best wishes.
    Hope to catch up with you when you get back.
    love Val xx

    Reply

    • Mo Clark
      Jul 27, 2014 @ 15:52:57

      Hi Val! Brilliant, love to have heard what they thought!! Now you have broken up for the year – have a fab summer holiday. Hopefully catch up soon in Brighton:). Mo xx

      Reply

  7. Julia
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 13:16:08

    Is that all?
    Hurry home now Clarkies – we’ll show you some culture…. innit?

    Reply

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