Armenia,  Azerbaijan,  Cambodia,  China,  Favourite places,  Georgia,  High five,  Iran,  Kyrgyzstan,  Malaysia,  Round the world,  Turkmenistan,  Vietnam

12 moments from 12 months of round-the-world travel

Yes! That’s that! A year ago we left home and were standing in Kosciuszki street with our thumbs up. 12 months later and I’m sitting in Kuala Lumpur, drinking coconut water and wondering whether I should have Indian or Chinese for lunch. Oh, the adventures that we had! Sure thing – today must be all about anniversary memories :). Let me tell you about our top moments.

The tastiest one

The lunch plans made me hungry, so let’s start with the foodie experience.

For Piotrek – easy choice. Nothing tasted better than the Kyrgyz sheep shashlik after a whole day spent on snow. This is what I have in mind when I say “a day spent on snow”:

Along with the paradise for your palate you get a whole ceremony of preparing and dividing the animal, since the Kyrgyz customs state very precisely who gets what. The taste, the tradition and warm wood stove.

Me, on the other hand, a maniac of exotic streetfood. For a while I thought I would have an internal battle choosing between the perfect Vietnamese balance of flavours and the Thai aroma of ginger, lime leaves and lemongrass served in a pineapple… But then this one entered the competition:

Get your hammer and crack this baby open!

The most touching one

Our Armenian hitchhiking driver took us to his home in Dilijan and we were immediately adopted. The level of concentration of the grandma’s care and grandpa’s storytelling, an extra blanket for each time I sneezed at night, the overview of old photo albums, two huge jars of homemade jam packed into our backpacks and a crossing our foreheads, just like mom does when I leave for a long time. We still have tears in our eyes remembering that couple!

The most surprising one

We’d sooner expect the Spanish inquisition than Piotrek becoming a Chinese commercial star. You know the story already, don’t you?

The most jaw-dropping one, bonus: best camping spot

An impossible choice, but luckily we both get to vote 🙂

Piotrek says – Yading. The essence of mountain beauty.

I say – Darvaza, the door to hell. That’s a place you don’t believe actually exists, until you get burnt (sic!).

The most inspirational one

Even if Buddhism isn’t your thing, and mountains aren’t your natural habitat, there’s something mystical about the Tibetan Plateau. The colours of the dusty towns, the flutter of the half torn prayer flags, the smiles of the locals and the snowy peaks majestically taking care of it all provided us with a completely new and unknown energy.

The one of the biggest cultural shock

So what, you pay or you don’t pay? Why would somebody refuse to accept money and then chase Piotrek around an Iranian town? And what’s with those questions?! Out of nowhere, asking about religion and the number of zeroes on our account? And this: do women in Poland get irritated when their husband wants to get married again? Eee… We needed a few days to get some general orientation in the local etiquette.

The most disgusting one

Discovering that a cockroach tastes just as lousy as it looks. Hey, if the Khmers fry such indecent and inelegant animals, one would think (one meaning me) that they at least taste decent (the animals, not the Khmers). Well, I’ll save you the experience, they don’t. Spit, forget. Silkworms are a different story, though, those are quite okay.

The funniest one

This was like taken live from the Czechoslovakian cartoon Pat & Mat or an Armenian version of Laurel and Hardy. Two slightly-more-than-tipsy guys driving their mature but life-loving Ladas through mountain meadows. The youth, the adventure, the freedom on their side, the evil drainage ditches against them. One would drive right into the ditch, the other one would help him out so effectively, that he’d fall into the opposite ditch. That lasted for quite a while.

Drainage – sure, but why in a ditch?!

The most stressful one

Spoiler: it all ends well, we live happily ever after. But mom – don’t read.

Our search for a camping spot ended with a nice man getting us another cup of tea and inviting us over to his place. Not surprised at all, after all the Azerbaijani are very generous and hospitable people, off we went. Barely had we stepped inside when the nice man said he was off to his apartment and he’d pick us up the following day at 8am. And then he locked the door.

I looked around. I have a rather high grossness endurance threshold, but this dump hole just had exactly everything needed to exceed it.  Filth, bugs, food leftovers, construction tornado catastrophe, bars in windows and no running water. And doors locked from the outside. By spreading three layers of foil on the floor (we made use of the thermal blanket from our first aid kit J), we created cozy space where I could sit down with a limited amount of revulsion, but I needn’t say, there was not much sleeping going on that night… As almost never, before 8am we were ready and set, before 9am we were ready, set and irritated and by 10am – ready, set and desperate. The dump hole owner opened the door when Piotrek was just starting to saw the window bars.

The one closest to nature

A tropical island bar, I’m just finishing my shift, Piotrek is downing his beer, a gecko is peeping out from behind a lamp. Big, spotted and handsome, for a gecko. They’re really nice and helpful creatures, the geckos. For the past weeks, they’ve been taking care of all the mosquitoes in our room, we developed a strong connection. The tiny geckos chirp like a mix of a lark and a mouse, while the big ones very politely introduce themselves, going “gecko, gecko”. This one didn’t spare its time for small talk. It crouched like the crouching tiger and hunted the first thing to fly past it. A bat.

Yes, we saw a gecko eat a bat.  To death.

The laziest one

Sometimes you just wanna pitch your tent by the river, go fishing (him), read a book (me), light a fire, drink wine, rinse and repeat, times 7. The Georgian Martvili canyon happened to be the perfect place for this kind of chill.

The most familiar one

Yesterday morning Justyna and Marek arrived and for the next two weeks we’ll be travelling together around Malaysia. What’s better than friends coming to visit us? Plus, they brought my favourite Polish salty cucumbers!

And we’re starting another year!

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