7 Reasons Why Traveling as a Couple is the Best Way to Go

Most of you know that Ricky and I met while we were teaching English in China, and have been pretty much inseparable since. We planned our travels for months before we actually left, working on the details of what to pack, what route to take, how much to spend, all that jazz. 
Ricky and I when we first met.

And now we’re out, traveling around, having a blast.  Now, it’s not all a bed of roses, but it’s definitely an amazing and eye-opening experience. So here’s a list of why traveling as a couple is awesome.

7.  It’s cheaper
Everything is cheaper when you travel with someone else because you share a lot more. Food is cheaper, hostels are cheaper. It’s also handy to have someone there to keep you in line with the budget you’ve set. Of course, there are those times when you both want to splurge on something, but that’s ok, as long as you’re both aware of how it will affect the budget.
It’s also wonderful to have someone with you when shopping at markets. Haggling is a must, and it’s fun to play the good customer/bad customer card.  Sellers offer you a “special price,” which of course is far too high. One of you thinks it might be ok (which of course it isn’t), and then the other puts on a grumpy face and refuses the price until it’s lowered (which of course it will be).  It’s team haggling!
On a tea-boat in the river, Chongqing, China.

6.  Less shopping pressure
Like I said, markets can be an intimidating place to shop. Fun, and exciting, but intimidating.  People are shouting at you from every direction.  And it’s impossible to browse. As soon as you show a tiny bit of interest in something, they are there in your face, showing you how much it costs, what it’s made of, etc. When you have someone with you, you can just talk to them and avoid the hassle of trying to communicate in a language you don’t speak when you’re not in the mood for it.
So excited to have visitor passes for the International Financial Center in Hong Kong.

5.  Better packing
There are a lot of things that we need to carry with us. We have a first aid kit, complete with medications we may need for everything from headaches to bowel problems, flashlights, rope, guidebooks, a laptop, lots of hand sanitizer, and so much more. All of the stuff that isn’t our personal clothing we split up between us so our weight is more even. I can’t imagine trying to cram all of that into just one bag, and having to carry it all myself. When you travel as a couple, you pretty much share everything you take with you, which lowers the weight that one person has to carry.
Time to dye our hair blue!

4.  More Food!
Yep, we like food. A lot. We like trying new things at interesting places. When there’s more than one of you, you can order 2 or 3 dishes you want to try without having leftovers you can’t take home.  And then there’s always someone to eat the stuff off your plate that you don’t like. (I usually end up with an excess of mushrooms.)

3.  More adventures
I’m sure you know that Ricky and I are doing a motorbike tour through Laos now. Before two weeks ago, I’d never driven a motorbike, and was somewhat less than steady on the two-wheeled beast.  But now, here I am, having driven on upwards of 200 kilometers through the jungle. I never would have done this if it weren’t for Ricky and his ideas of adventure. And I’m loving it! I can’t believe how much I would have missed out on if I had been traveling alone, and I don’t know if Ricky would do it either.
Time to get on the road!

2.  Companionship
Outside the war museum in Beijing

Yes, this is kind of obvious, and perchance a tad mushy. My apologies. But yes, when traveling you need companionship. Well, maybe you don’t, but I do. There are days when we’re tired or worn out or stressed or annoyed and we just need to stop and relax.  It’s times like that when I’m especially glad that I have someone.  We can stay in the hostel all day, watching reruns of Parks and Rec or Top Gear, playing spider solitaire together despite the fact that it is “solitaire,”  only leaving for food. 
And it’s nice to have someone there to bring you a sandwich, make sure you have enough water, and spend the day reading without a complaint instead of exploring the town while you’re sick in bed.

1. Someone to share with
I don’t just mean food here. I mean a deeper kind of sharing, the kind of sharing that can only be done standing on top of a hill looking down on an amazingly lit skyline, or looking in wonder at giant pandas, or swimming at beautiful waterfalls, or exploring massive caves. 

Amazed by the giant Buddha in LeShan
  But there’s also someone to commiserate with during the times that aren’t so great. There’s someone there to share the times when you’re both suffering on a crowded hard-seat train for 20 hours, and when you’re lost somewhere in a huge city.
Forget those silly pandas--look into my eyes!

After swimming at the Kuang Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang, Laos.
It’s the kind of sharing that makes traveling—and life—better.

Like I said, traveling together isn’t all smiles and happy-go-lucky skipping through fields of flowers. Sometimes it’s hard—really hard. But the good times outweigh the bad, and I can honestly say that there’s no one else I’d rather live this experience with.

Hong Kong skyline.

How Does it Feel?

Hey guys! So Talia gave you guys a run-down of how the bike journey went! I have to admit it was a very fun and exciting experience.  I’ve been on long journeys  before but this really was something special.
When you sit in your car and start the engine, fix your mirrors, turn on your air conditioner or heater and start travelling you have a sense of comfort that the car will regulate the temperature, tell you accurately the stats of your fuel levels, your speeds etc. But on the bike it was just us and this single cylinder, going from A to a very faraway B.
Granted on a motorbike you also have these stats given to you but it has much less of a “time machine” feel. You don’t step in a door and know that when you step out you will be somewhere else, simply because you feel the distance pass you and smell the flora as it passes.
 This particular B was 230 kilometers away from our start point, and oh my god it was the best 230 kilometers of my life. Every second I got the smell of the rice paddys, the feel of the wind on my face, the insects hitting me and my bike, instead of my windscreen and front grille.
Consider closing your eyes and imagining driving down a road that winds, twisting, turning, with a vast upwards sloping jungle on your right. This jungle has vines, bamboo and palm trees. You know in your mind that this jungle has tigers, bears, leopards, snakes and more, all living and hiding somewhere amongst the trees.
While on your left there is a steep drop with only a small patch of grass and on some turns a small barrier to prevent certain death. Beyond the steep drop there are mountains, as far as the eye can see, literally, everywhere. Some mountains are way higher than you as you zip past and you can only see them to a certain point before they are lost to the clouds. Other mountains are below as you look over the cliff and you can clearly see their peaks.
As you drive this winding road you are passing through villages of local tribes’ people. Some of these people are just farming,  and you wonder to yourself whether they just farm for sustenance or if they sell their wares at a local or nearby market. You see families of animals wandering and meandering all over the road, some with a purpose you will never understand and some just crossing your path.
As you continue on down this road you notice the temperature around you is rising and dropping constantly at small increments. You don’t notice it at first but it takes a while, as you continue on the winding road southwards.
At some points you may have to slow down, as a recent landslide has covered the road and you have to traverse the rubble with care. Or in other cases slow down to watch an old dog, or slow lizard or snake cross your path.

It’s at this point you know you’re in Laos.

The 4 Best Things About Driving a Motorbike in Laos, Part 1

Well, we weren't eaten by tigers. We survived the motorbike trip from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng, without a hitch.
Here's the video of the departure:


And here are the best things about the trip. Be jealous.

4. The scenery
China doesn't have anything on Laos. We put up a couple of posts on Chinese scenery here and here. Now, China is beautiful, but dang. I mean daaaaang! We saw some of the most beautiful things either of us had ever seen. We drove up into the mountains, I mean straight up into them. And there we were at the top, staring straight at the tops of the other green mountains around us. Lush green jungle surrounded us, and on the hills around us were fields of rice and banana trees. Tiny villages dotted the hills and cloudy blue skies were over the whole world.

3. The road
Now, as some of you may know, I (Talia) am not an expert motorbike rider/driver/pilot or whatever it is you do with a motorbike. Ricky, on the other hand, is. So he sped along, taking the tight curves at high speeds while I tried to get the hang of leaning into the turns instead of braking and inching along. I'll have you know I am improving. Often, Ricky made me go in front so he wouldn't unintentionally leave me behind, because he is the tenderest morsel of them all.  So there I was, struggling around tight mountain curves, dodging potholes, in too high a gear going uphill...
and I freaking loved it. It was the most exhilerating and frightening thing I've ever done, and I can't wait to do it again! Remember all that stuff I said about the scenery? Picture driving through that. Picture the jungle around you, the wind rushing through your...er...helmet. For safety. The twisting roads and the downhill speeds, everything. Everything was perfect.

And here's a video of a little break in the trip:


2. The local fauna
No, we didn't see tigers or monkeys or elephants. But here's what we did see.
1 lizard, which Ricky almost destroyed.
1 small brown tortoise, which Ricky did destroy (accidentally).
A million butterflies, 7 of which destroyed themselves upon our chests, helmets, and goggles.
2 dogs gettin' it on in the middle of the road. Don't worry, all the traffic drove around them so as not to sour the moment of passion.
Several cows, which I shot with my finger gun. (pyew pyew!)
A family of sprinting pigs.
4 fat ducks waddling slowly across the road.

1. The people
Oh man. The people. This is where Laos has China beat again. The people are so nice and friendly. Many a time we drove through a mountain village and small children waved at us. When we waved back, they let out a cheerful "wooohooo!" At one point, after we stopped to fill up the bikes, I started to pull away. A girl waved to me, and when I waved back, she ran after me, waving and shouting.
Later in the afternoon, we passed a whole horde of kids going home from school, some walking, most on bikes. They waved, we waved, smiles all around.
Not just the kids were friendly. Many adults waved and smiled at us, including truck drivers, other motorbikers, and villagers. There was no way we could be unhappy.

Well there it is. The 4 reasons we had more fun than you'll ever have, ever. No. I mean, 4 reasons we loved driving for 8 hours despite potholes and humping dogs.

Second Thoughts and the Swedish Man

Tomorrow's the day. We're nervous. We're excited. We're packed and ready to go. Tomorrow we begin the motorbike tour of Laos!
We've spend the last two days packing and tying our bags to our bikes, to make sure they'll stay, and Ricky even figured out a way to tie up the guitar so he doesn't have to carry it on his back. We finally got our license plates, too, so we're actually legal.
As of this afternoon, we were ready.
And then we had dinner.
The only other customer in the Indian restaurant was a white man that we thought we recognized. We started chatting, and remembered him as Dan, a Swedish man working in Luang Prabang. We got to talking about the trip we were about to embark on, and he tells us that he did part of the same trip in March.
He proceeded to caution us about the cold, the many hours spent on a bike, sore legs and back. He said he even cried as he drove, wishing he didn't have to finish the trip.  He also told us the trip was double what we had calculated it to be, because of the twisting mountain roads.
Well, that took us by surprise. And by that I mean that we almost wet ourselves thinking of the misery that lay ahead. Admittedly, I was a little distracted by Dan's accent (oh yah!), but once I got past that, I was a little scared. And now, second thoughts. I'm all for it still, but Ricky was fairly certain we ought to just cut our losses and sell the bikes now. But we're doing it anyway. We have to.
So here we are, going to bed, hoping we are ready and prepared for what might come our way: rain, flat tires, running out of gas, breaking down in the middle of the jungle...
This is going to be an interesting ride.
Stay tuned for the update on how it went!
If you don't hear from us in a few days, we were probably eaten by tigers. Seriously. There are still wild tigers in Laos. 

Bigger and Better: Building the Blog

Hello readers! We're glad you have found us at our new address!  We're still in the process of making the blog bigger and better, so bear with us. We've made a logo, which needs some work, and have changed the name of the blog.

For those of you that are new to the best blog you'll ever read, check out our older posts at taliaandricky.blog.com. You're in for a treat. There are pandas, waterfalls, monks, elephants, temples, complaints, and a few laughs. You won't be disappointed.

Until next time!

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