The Travel Journals: 2018/Q2 Edition

The Travel Journals: 2018/Q2 Edition

Jordan Goes To China

A friend of mine reached out to me and asked if I was interested in joining his China trip. He needed a companion after his previous companion had to back out on the last minute. I was happy to jump in and take on...

TRAVEL DATE: May 25-June 4
A friend of mine reached out to me and asked if I was interested in joining his China trip. He needed a companion after his previous companion had to back out on the last minute. I was happy to jump in and take on... this opportunity to travel with a friend. I only made plans to do two things: eat great food and have a lot of fun. Those two boxes were definitely checked.

Throughout my trip, I couldn’t help taking pictures of the architecture. Buildings that were hundreds of years old had a distinctive design that is unique to China. I especially enjoyed visiting a lot of temples, like the Lama temple in Beijing. While there, we also visited the Olympic Park. It’s a complex of buildings and arenas that were built for the 2008 Summer Olympics. We also spent time in Shanghai, where I got to experience the beautiful Bund Area. At night, the area lights up and becomes a night life destination.

One thing that really stood out to me was how people didn’t care to be seen doing certain things in public. Things you and I might consider embarrassing (like relieving yourself in public) was completely normal. Then again, what we consider normal comes down to the society we are raised in. Also, people there use their car horns for anything. Everyone, everywhere, used their car horns to accomplish even the simplest of driving tasks. Needless to say, walking near roads was a loud experience.

All in all, I really enjoyed my trip to China. I literally took a thousand photos. Slowly, but sure, I will dig my way through them and upload the best shots to my social media page. My only regret was not making it to the Great Wall. We had so many places to go and things to do, we ran out of time to go see it. However, I plan to go back and will make sure it’s on my to-do list. I also look forward to visiting the smaller towns and villages that surround the big cities.

Josh I. Goes To Costa Rica

My trip to Costa Rica was, in a way, not planned at all. I decided I wanted to go somewhere tropical to escape the rain and cloudy skies in Seattle. I ended up joining an “Under 30” tour experience. It was my first time...

TRAVEL DATE: May 18-28
My trip to Costa Rica was, in a way, not planned at all. I decided I wanted to go somewhere tropical to escape the rain and cloudy skies in Seattle. I ended up joining an “Under 30” tour experience. It was my first time... going there, so I knew nothing about Costa Rica. I tried looking up information on travel forums, but a lot of the information didn’t make sense to me. For example, one “visitor” said locals didn’t wear shorts, ever (PS: I saw a lot of locals wearing shorts).

The first half of my trip was in the jungles. We stayed in a permaculture ranch - totally organic and self-sustainable. The entire ranch adapted to the jungle’s ecosystem. I went zip-lining, too, which was pretty fun. The second half of the trip was on the beaches, near a town called Manuel Antonio. My to-do list there involved a lot of floating and relaxing.

One activity that was very meaningful to me was our group’s visit to a small island that’s only 5 minutes from the beach. The island is home Nicaraguan refugees that the Costa Rica government does not recognize as citizens. Therefore, they work hard to survive without basic assistance from the government, such as water, electricity, and garbage removal. The “Under 30” regularly selects families to spend the day with us and show us around the island. Our day included meeting local people, learning their way of life, being taught to cook a meal, and enjoying that meal with them. The program reimburses them for their expenses, plus families keep a lot of extra food for themselves.

During my trip, two things stood out to me: 1) The bio and climate were very similar to Washington state’s forests in the summer. 2) On December 1st, they are celebrating 70 years without a military. It struck me to think about how the United States, joining the military can be a career, a way to pay for college, show your patriotism, etc. In Costa Rica, the military is not a part of their teachings or culture. It was eye-opening to see how different we are in that aspect.

Overall, I don’t have any regrets that I can think of. There is something I will do differently, though, now that I’ve been to Costa Rica. Even though it can rain in the forest for great periods of time, the sun will still come out for at least 30 minutes. During those 30 minutes, the sun beams down on you hard! I learned you will burn very quickly. It’s a lesson learned the hard way, but I will be sure to pack sunscreen with high-level protection next time.

 

Skyler Goes To Iceland

The idea to go to Iceland came from friends who told me it was a great way to fly to Europe on a discount. I saved almost half the typical price of flying to London by flying with Iceland Airlines and...

TRAVEL DATE: April 17-30
The idea to go to Iceland came from friends who told me it was a great way to fly to Europe on a discount. I saved almost half the typical price of flying to London by flying with Iceland Airlines and... stopping in Iceland first. I didn’t know much about Iceland but I was open to seeing new things. One thing I really miscalculated was the weather. I thought it was going to be very cold (like freezing winter weather) so I packed lots of layers. The temperature ended up being 36-40 degrees. Iceland turned out to be arctic yet oddly tropical at the same time.

Another thing I didn’t expect was just how beautiful Iceland was. Yes, I had seen great photos of Iceland on the internet, but sometimes you think those are pictures of specific sightseeing areas. Instead, I was consistently blown away by one beautiful experience after another. The architecture there is equally beautiful and unique.

Being from Washington state, one thing that really threw me off was the fact that Iceland has NO trees. Once in a while you could see a few short twigs here and there, but no full-size trees. The other thing that was stunning were Iceland’s dramatic landscape changes. In some locations, the flat and gray landscape made me feel like I was on the moon. Suddenly, you would see dramatic slopes, sharp rock spikes, or jagged mountains. On top of that, these slopes and rocks were often made of textures and colors that were so odd, they were appealing.

While in Iceland, we completed a trek called the Golden Circle. It’s a highway that wraps around a big lake. The country itself is the size of Washington, so we were able to see all of its hot springs, geysers, beaches, and waterfalls in about three days. One thing I regret is not studying more about Iceland prior to making the trip. I thought I had planned enough activities for the days I was there, but instead found myself with an extra day with no plans. I will be better prepared on my next visit.