Culture shock in Sydney

As I speak with friends, they’ve mentioned their curiosity about the culture shock upon my return. I’m also curious as to how this “culture shock” will affect me or treat me when I hit home in a month or so.

For the last 6 months we’ve been traveling in various parts of Asia including Jordan, Iran, India, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. We’ve gotten accustomed to different traditions, foods, currencies, languages, and more. I figured Australia and USA are similar countries and I would experience some type of culture shock when arriving to Sydney.

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How to volunteer while traveling abroad

I’m writing this post to answer the question Sara and I had when we were planning our around the world trip: how can we volunteer for a short period while traveling abroad?

When Sara and I were planning our trip, one of the things we wanted to do was dedicate between a week to a month on a volunteer project. Sara’s a doctor and I’m an engineer turned business guy. We really wanted to offer our skill set to a non-profit.¬†Unfortunately we could not find a project that would take us or that we wanted to be a part of.

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Jumping off a 4 meter waterfall. Fear of heights bye bye!

Yesterday we heard there are some beautiful waterfalls near Luang Prabang so we planned to look for a tuk tuk to head off to Kouang Si Waterfalls. We find a tuk tuk for 35,000 kip/person and with our british friends Steve and Lou we head off.

Little did I know that paradise could exists beyond beautiful beaches in the middle of a jungle.

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4,000 islands – Kayaking the Mekong River

After arriving to 4,000 islands from a dreaded long trip from Cambodia, we look for activities to do. We find a kayaking 1-day tour that will take you to river rapids, search for river dolphins, and visit some water falls. With our new friends, we book the trip and hope for a better day.¬†The tour was about 180,000 KIP (but it’s been a few weeks since we did it so I may be wrong!) with breakfast included!

We wake up at 6 am to the sounds of roosters next door. I head down to the restaurant to use WiFi and have a short phone meeting with one of my clients. After a successful meeting, Sara and the gang meet up with me to head to the kayaking office for breakfast.


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13 hour bus ride to Laos

We left Phnom Phen at 6 am for a 13 hour trip to Don Det, 4,000 islands, Laos.

Our bus ride was quite scary and long but still fun because we met a great British couple, Steve and Lou, traveling for 10 months as well! We met because Lou stepped on my foot when she was stowing away her backpack and I said patiently: “Maam … my foot…”. She apologized and the rest was history. After a 13 hour bus ride, you really get to know your neighbors and we learned “loads” about them. They’re engaged and will be getting married on their return to England .. yea, the smart way to do a honeymoon, before the wedding! They are only one month into their trip and have 8-9 months left! So jealous! =) Of course Sara and I could not keep our mouths shut with all the recommendations we could give them about India and South America. We had so much fun on the bus that we decided to look for lodging with them and plan activities together in 4,000 islands.

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Laos … No, not the capital of Cambodia.

We finally arrived in Laos after a 14 hour bus trip from Phnom Phen (capital of Cambodia).

We can’t really pin point as to why we came to Laos. Originally we had a flight into Bangkok and another out of Bangkok 3 months later, but no plans. We knew we wanted to visit Vietnam (for the food and islands), Cambodia (for the temples), and Thailand (for the culture, food, and islands). Laos was mentioned because we’ve heard (don’t really know from who) that Laos is amazing. Based on that, we decided that Laos was the place to visit.

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