Stories

Traveling the World For 12 Months

12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days. There are many things you could accomplish in 12 months. You could pay off your debt (thankfully we don’t have any) get fit and healthy, buy a house, or start your own business.

 

We decided to buy a house!!!…… And then we changed our minds. “A house can wait” we both agreed. And 12 months later we are living in Thailand enjoying every minute of it. We can’t believe 1 year has passed so quickly.

 

12 Months on the Road-Egypt 12 Months on the Road-India 12 Months on the Road-Nepal 12 Months on the Road-Vietnam

Deciding to travel the world together has been the best decision we have ever made. We believe had we stayed home for the year and not traveled the world, we would still be happy and grateful people loving life. But what we have experienced in these last 12 months you can never learn at home in your comfort zone, at work, or in a book.

Cambodia

The Temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

We have experienced true kindness and hospitality, rich history and culture, stress and aggravation, sadness and love, endless compassion, incredible fun, hard work, and an incredible appreciation for our circumstance and our first world problems.

We have been humbled by these last 12 months.

Cairo, Egypt

Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt

While in Egypt we decided to visit Tahrir Square, the site of Egypt’s 2011 revolution. People were welcoming and friendly. They wanted to share their stories with us. They fight for peace and freedom. These are things we don’t even think about at home. People are willing to die for this cause, and some have. It was a powerful, and memorable moment at the very beginning of our trip.

12 Months on the Road-Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt  12 Months on the Road-Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt

While in India we had the chance to celebrate Holi Festival. Holi is a spring festival celebrated by Hindus. Local shops sell perfumed coloured powder and everyone celebrates by covering eachother in a rainbow. People also celebrate with food and drinks. While walking back to our hostel we were invited into a home by some young women. They simply wanted to talk to us, and feed us savories and sweets. By the end of the day we were coated in colour, and our bellies were full. We had heard a lot of negative things about India, and even though it was a little mad, these moments are what stand out for us.

12 Months on the Road-Celebrating Holi in Jaipur, India  12 Months on the Road-Celebrating Holi in Jaipur, India  12 Months on the Road-Celebrating Holi in Jaipur, India

In June of 2012 we traveled to Cambodia. We loved it, and we loved the warm people. It is a beautiful country with a painful past.

12 Months on the Road-The Killing Fields, Phnom Penh, CambodiaFrom 1975 to 1979 Cambodia was ruled by a mad man. His name was Pol Pot. Pol Pot attempted to form a communist peasant farming society with brutal force and unimaginable violence. The country was shut off from the rest of the world.

All foreigners removed, religions were banned, businesses closed down, bicycles and radios were confiscated, and the use of money forbidden. Education was halted, parental authority was revoked, and healthcare was eliminated. All cities were evacuated and 2,000,000 Cambodians were forced by gunpoint, and on foot into the country side. They were forced into slave labor in Pol Pot’s “killing fields” where they began to suffer and die due to disease, malnutrition, and being overworked. Workdays would last 18 hours a day and people were fed a small tin of rice per person every two days.

The Killing Fields

The Killing Fields, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Throughout Cambodia they began to eliminate remnants of the “old society”. Buddhist monks, the wealthy, police, artists, the educated, lawyers, doctors, teachers, and former government officials were all executed.

Anyone suspected of breach of trust, including many Khmer Rouge leaders was shot or bludgeoned with an ax.

12 Months on the Road-Tuol Sleng Prison, Phnom Penh, Cambodia  12 Months on the Road-Tuol Sleng Prison, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The Killing Fields

The Killing Fields, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In villages, unsupervised gatherings of more than two people were forbidden. Children were taken from their parents and placed in communals. They would later be married (unwillingly) in collective ceremonies. Up to 20,000 people were tortured into giving false confessions at Tuol Sleng, a school in Phnom Penh that was converted into a prison. At the killing fields there was a killing tree where babies were slammed head first so not to waste bullets.

This fanaticism and control resulted in over 2 million deaths. Lives have been torn apart and people are still picking up the pieces.

We can’t even begin to imagine going through something so devastatingly cruel. Yet with all of the hardships and misery they have endured, Cambodians are some of the most warm and welcoming people we have had the pleasure to meet. We look forward to returning.

 

 

Fast forward to today. We have been living/traveling/working in Thailand for 7 months. A one week volunteer adventure with elephants turned into 6 and a half months with Elephant Nature Park. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would have been caring for a new born baby elephant in which we got to spoon with and fall asleep beside. Or going on several private morning elephant walks with our friend Jodi, the resident elephant geek, and tattoo artist extraordinaire. Our experience with the elephants, caring for dogs that were rescued from the dog meat trade, and spending time with all of the other rescued animals at the park really woke us up. We realized that there is no difference between a dog and pig. That all life wants to live, and compassion is much much more important than ” that’s just the way it is” and gastronomical pleasures.

12 Months on the Road-True Love  12 Months on the Road-Sapa, Vietnam

Every one of our experiences during these 12 months have changed us immensely. We think for the better.

We know for the better.

 

So if you’re thinking about doing it; Paying off your debt, quitting your job, buying a backpack and a one way ticket to who knows where. It will change you. If you are open to change.

Comments To This Entry.
  1. Mark Stewart February 14, 2013 Reply

    It is amazing what I have learned from the two of you Your job and adventures.
    The world and its people should be loved and treated with respect.
    You have taught me what compassion is.
    I love following Your travels and pictures of your ventures.
    It’s funny I have never met Giselle but think of her like a good friend. Reading this has taught me a lot about the world I never knew existed and I thank you. The cruelty and suffering when we complain about our cable being out and the stupid little things we take for granted.
    You guys have done a great job to show compassion to all living animals.
    Thank U for letting me share your journey.

    Happy Valentine’s Day Giselle and have a great day Cody

    Keep up the good work

    Your friend Mark Stewart

    • Giselle and Cody February 15, 2013 Reply

      Wow Mark, thank you so much for the kind words. We are so happy that we are able to inspire some and bring out the compassion that we all have inside of us. We hope to visit with you in June when we visit home for a while. Thanks again for following!

  2. Franca February 15, 2013 Reply

    We are only on our 5th month of traveling and couldn’t agree more with you. Quitting our jobs and selling all our belongings is the best thing we ever done! 🙂

    • Giselle and Cody February 16, 2013 Reply

      It is such a great feeling walking into work and telling them you are quitting. 🙂

  3. Mindy and Ligeia February 16, 2013 Reply

    We loved reading about all your adventures, especially the travelling (and learning) you did before coming to Thailand. We will be visiting Israel this summer and have planned to take a trip to Jordan as well. After reading your post, we are now considering going to Egypt as well.
    Oh, and we completely agree with traveling now instead of waiting until this concept of “later” to get out there and start living! Just do it; it’s as easy as that. 🙂

    • Giselle and Cody February 16, 2013 Reply

      You two should totally go to Egypt if you get the chance. It is one of the most breathtaking countries in the world. The history, the people and there is so much to see there. We are excited to go back…even thought we don’t know when that will be. We do know that will will continue to go to Egypt in our life. People wait till “later” and that is not the way to live. 🙂 Jordan is amazing as well. We would love to go to Israel and can’t wait to read about your trip there.

  4. Cez February 19, 2013 Reply

    Amazing story! I’m really happy that you made it over the first year together, happy and still want to do/see more! Good luck on your way and keep us all posted.

    By the way, Cambodia’s recent history is shocking and it’s just hard to believe what those smiley faces went through… Going to museums and reading about it is touching. I strongly recommend book “First they killed my father”.

    • Giselle and Cody February 20, 2013 Reply

      Thanks Cez, we still plan on traveling for quite awhile.
      At least until 2014 🙂

      We will look for that book online. Cambodia is such a beautiful place and there are so many smiles!!!

  5. Federico February 20, 2013 Reply

    As you very well say, what you learn when traveling cannot be learned anywhere else. Congrats!

    • Giselle and Cody February 21, 2013 Reply

      Thanks. Having a blast and we will continue on…….forever!! 🙂

  6. Loriann February 21, 2013 Reply

    Well for me there is way too much to say ! LOL I mean I’m one of those that just happened to stumble upon your blog, Liked your Facebook page and got hooked ! What you two are doing is my lifelong dream. No one in my life shares this with me, so I must wait I guess until the time is right.
    My stomache literally does flops when I read about all of your experiences. I envy you two more than you will ever know ! What you do is on my “bucket list” – I just hope I don’t get too old before I can do this.
    I think one of my problems is – “can I really do this alone?” I really wish I could find someone that shares the same dreams as I do. That’s another reason why you two are so very fortunate !
    Thanks so much for sharing all that you do. I can’t wait to read more !

    • Giselle and Cody February 22, 2013 Reply

      Loriann, Thanks so much for your kind words.
      If it is your lifelong dream to travel then make it happen.
      You can do it alone. There are so many solo travellers going around the world.
      Hopefully one day you will hit the road and then we can meet up somewhere 🙂

  7. Abby February 21, 2013 Reply

    Congrats!!! That is huge! I love that you have fallen in love with Thailand and Elephant Nature Park. (Take care of my D for me!!) Taking life as it comes has led to some wild rides for me, but it’s the only way I know how to live. Truly, congratulations!!!!

    • Giselle and Cody February 22, 2013 Reply

      Thanks Abby, Diana has become one of our best friends on our trip. She is an amazing person.
      We have fallen in love with traveling and what to continue on…..ummmm forever Hahaha

  8. Joel February 21, 2013 Reply

    Kudos to both of you, Giselle & Cody..you are doing what most people only dream of and never get to do in their lives. Travel is the world’s best education and can be promulgated on a shoestring budget , if need be. For most, the hardest step is the first , just venturing forth into the unknown. But traveling tests all of ones senses and ($cents$ )too, the personal enrichment & rewards of which far surpass any expectations.
    Keep your fire burning and never relinquish your travel passions to the mundane.
    Have a great journey now and henceforth.
    Joel

    • Giselle and Cody February 22, 2013 Reply

      Joel, we agree with you that travel is the world’s best education.
      We have learned more on this trip about the world and ourselves then we did in all of our school years.
      Once you start to travel you see how much this beautiful world has to offer.
      It has been so amazing and we don’t want to stop anytime soon!!

  9. Raymond @ Man On The Lam February 22, 2013 Reply

    What a year you’ve had! I was in Chiang Mai for quite a while but never did make it to the Elephant Nature Park. One day…

    • Giselle and Cody February 22, 2013 Reply

      Chiang Mai is an awesome city and by far one of our favourite places in Thailand. The atmosphere is so laid back.

  10. Elizabeth February 22, 2013 Reply

    What an amazing story! I am so proud to be your aunt! I learn from your stories/posts. When I’m having a shitty day, and I see one of your posts or pictures, it makes me smile and improves my day. Thank you! Love you guys to the moon! xo

  11. Giselle and Cody February 23, 2013 Reply

    And we love YOU to the moon! Thank you for continuing to read about our travels and supporting us, and thank you for being proud of us! We are happy that we can improve your days with something so simple as a photo or story 🙂

  12. Alex February 24, 2013 Reply

    What a beautiful summary of an amazing year and thank you for sharing it with all of us along the way! Here’s to another 365…

    • Giselle and Cody February 26, 2013 Reply

      Thanks Alex ,we have had a blast so far. Hopefully we will see you again on the road somewhere.

  13. […] seems like just yesterday we were posting our 12 Months of Travel video.    #gallery-2 { margin: auto; } #gallery-2 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: […]

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