Southeast Asia: Land of a Thousand Smiles

Sunrise and Angkor Wat

Southeast Asia has been on my travel wish list for years.

I’m no 20-something looking for price-conscious adventure. Admittedly, that’s how I envisioned the stereotypical tourist visiting Southeast Asia.

Instead, the region’s reputation for incredible food, enchanting temples and friendly people drew me here. Not to mention, every person who has visited the area raves about it.

Southeast Asia is what I’d call restrained exotic. It’s different enough to stimulate all of your senses, but sprinkles in plenty of smiles to make you feel comfortable.

Fave Finds on Hawaii’s Big Island

Kilauea Iki Crater Trail in Volcanoes National Park

If you love rain-soaked, lush locales, you’ll find them on Hawaii’s Big Island. If you prefer sunny, black-sand beaches and lava fields, they’re here, too.

As we drove from Hilo up the east coast and wound around to the Kona area, it felt as if we had entered some kind of time warp to experience both climates and terrains within minutes of one another. One moment we were flipping on our windshield wipers and the next we were slipping on our sunglasses.

Quito on Speed Tour: Give It More Time

Courtyard in Quito, Ecuador
Beauty in Quito is more than street deep. We stumbled across this courtyard off of one of its busy streets in Old Town.

We were just passing through on our way to the Galápagos Islands. We had booked two nights in Quito, Ecuador, to avoid any chance of missing our ship in case of plane delays.

What a mistake it would have been to not have given this city its due touring time. If you’re heading to Galápagos, intentionally pass through Quito and plan to spend a few nights there.

Appomattox 150 Years Later

Civil War Reenactment at Appomattox National History Park
Civil War re-enactors set up camp in Appomattox, Virginia, for the 150th anniversary of the Confederacy’s surrender.

When we pulled up to the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, we didn’t expect to be waved on to shuttle parking. Little did we know we had arrived one day shy of the 150th anniversary of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

You’d think we would have considered that as we planned our Civil War tour across Virginia. Nope. Serendipity led us here.

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