Our A-Z of highlights (A short list of nearly everything)

Without further ado, here’s a shortlist of some of the things we loved on our trip around the world in 389 days.

Ascending the Tokyo Skytree for sunset over Mount Fuji ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต

We went up a lot of high things. This was undoubtedly top of the pile!

๐Ÿ“‹ Tokyo, revisited (part I)

Braving the snow in Astana ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ

The coldest (and coolest) city we visited on the whole trip. So glad we made the journey up to 51 degrees north.

๐Ÿ“‹ Journeying to Astana – the ‘Singapore of the Steppe’
๐Ÿ“‹ Astana: So good they named it six times

Cycling the temples of Angkor ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ

So. much. cycling. And so. many. temples! But beating the crowds and experiencing sunrise alone in Angkor Wat was a genuine life highlight.

๐Ÿ“‹ Sunrise at Angkor Wat (but without the crowds)

Driving around the South Island in our little camper van ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ

What an incredible place – we just loved NZ so much.

๐Ÿ“‹ Ridiculously good views from the summit of Te Tapu-nui, Queenstown
๐Ÿ“‹ The roadtrip begins! Cruising on Milford Sound, the eighth wonder of the world
๐Ÿ“‹ Joining the Great Coast Road
๐Ÿ“‹ Glaciers and gold on NZโ€™s west coast
๐Ÿ“‹ Pedalling the West Coast Wilderness Trail
๐Ÿ“‹ Driving to the very end of the road (Punakaiki and Kohaihai) ๐ŸŒด
๐Ÿ“‹ Dophins and waterslides (not dolphins on waterslides!)

Escaping to the desert island paradise of Ko Adang ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ

Just like The Beach, except with far fewer drugs and murders.

๐Ÿ“‹ All of our desert island fantasies fulfilled on Ko Adang

Floating above the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท

Expensive, nervewracking and very, very cool.

๐Ÿ“‹ Flying high above Cappadocia

Going To The Sun in Glacier National Park ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

Over a million acres of beautiful mountains, lakes and bears beginning in a remote corner of Montana and stretching all the way up into Canada, accessible on the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road.

๐Ÿ“‹ Eating like a grizzly in Glacier National Park ๐Ÿ—ป๐Ÿป๐Ÿฅง

Hiking in the Cinque Terre ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Not exactly niche, but definitely worth the hype.

๐Ÿ“‹ Hiking in Cinque Terre

Ice skating on the world’s highest rink in Almaty ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ

Kazakhstan in general was a lot of fun and as always, watching people wobble around on ice skates didn’t disappoint, but this was also a truly spectacular setting in the mountains above Almaty.

๐Ÿ“‹ Almaty, our final stop in Central Asia

Joining the Silk Road in Khiva ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฟ

Our first taste of Uzbekistan’s section of the Silk Road had the biggest impact on us.

๐Ÿ“‹ Rejoining the Silk Road in Khiva

Kayaking in Lan Ha Bay ๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ

Paddling (somewhat) serenely through one of Vietnam’s most iconic and otherworldly seascapes.

๐Ÿ“‹ Kayaking between the limestone mountains of Hแบก Long Bay

Living like a monk on a Korean temple stay ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท

Probably the most baffling 24 hours of our entire trip, but we wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything.

๐Ÿ“‹ A Secret Diary of a Temple Stay, by Sara aged 13 ยพ

Meeting the hiking dogs of the Caucasus ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ช

Making friends with some gentle giants while hiking in the spectacular mountains of northern Georgia.

๐Ÿ“‹ Scrambling in Svaneti

Night skiing in Niseko ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต

Genuinely the most (and best) snow we’ve ever seen. SO GOOD!

๐Ÿ“‹ Chasing the powder in Niseko

Observing the New Year festivities at the Hokkaidล Shrine ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต

A very different New Year for us, but we loved embracing Japanese traditions and learning our fortunes for the year.

๐Ÿ“‹ New Year in snowy Sapporo

Paddling through the rice paddies of Luang Prabang ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

Making friends with Susan the water buffalo and learning how to grow sticky rice. Who knew it could be so fascinating?!

๐Ÿ“‹ Ten steps to the perfect Lao sticky rice

Quaffing wine in the vineyards of Marlborough ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ

Gorgeous weather and a whole day of NZ wine. Perfection!

๐Ÿ“‹ Marlborough by tandem, fuelled by wine

Riding the Otago Central Rail Trail on two wheels ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ

Four days of spectacular cycling through a wild, arid and sparsely populated corner of NZ’s South Island.

๐Ÿ“‹ We actually finished something! Cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail

Soaking in a snowy onsen in Tazawako ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต

Bathing in the forest while surrounded by deep snow drifts was a magical experience.

๐Ÿ“‹ Beef tongue and snowy onsens in Honshu
๐Ÿ“‹ Japan in 12 hot baths

Taking the slow boat down the Mekong river ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

An incredibly peaceful few days drifting along the Mekong River through Laos.

๐Ÿ“‹ Messing about on the Mekong

Urb-exing the sanatoria of Tskaltubo ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ช

An afternoon exploring a spa town full of crumbling sanatoria near to Georgia’s second city, Kutaisi. Fascinating and unnerving in equal measure, and totally different to anything else we did on this trip.

๐Ÿ“‹ Urbexing the abandoned sanatoria of Tskaltubo

Visiting Meteora’s mountaintop monasteries ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท

We loved exploring these precariously-perched monasteries in mainland Greece. The area is apparently one of Greece’s biggest tourist destinations (except that no one seems to have heard of it!).

๐Ÿ“‹ Walking the mountains of Meteora

Wading through the travertines of Pamukkale ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท

A weird and wonderful landscape unlike anything we’d seen before.

๐Ÿ“‹ Wallowing in the Cotton Castle

eXploring Singapore by night ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ

(Please forgive the shoehorning of the letter X in here – if only we’d had the foresight to do some xylophoning on our trip.) We do love a free activity and Singapore’s supertree light show didn’t disappoint.

๐Ÿ“‹ Celebrating the finale of our Southeast Asian leg in Singapore

Yodelling our way around Salzburg ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น

Salzburg way exceeded our expectations – another city to add to our list of places we’d happily live.

๐Ÿ“‹ ๐ŸŽถ The hills are alive with the sound ofโ€ฆbeer halls ๐Ÿป

Zooming across Japan on a bullet train ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต

Japanโ€™s rail network has got to be the best in the world, and boarding a Shinkansen felt more like getting on an aeroplane than a train. What a way to travel!

๐Ÿ“‹ Getting buried alive in Ibusuki
๐Ÿ“‹ Christmas in Hiroshima and Osaka
๐Ÿ“‹ Four together again in Tokyo
๐Ÿ“‹ New Year in snowy Sapporo
๐Ÿ“‹ Itโ€™s called Hakodate, mate*
๐Ÿ“‹ Beef tongue and snowy onsens in Honshu
๐Ÿ“‹ Memoirs of a geezer (in Kyoto)

We realised two things writing this post:

  1. We experienced way, way more than 26 highlights during our nearly 13 months away
  2. Fitting even 26 highlights neatly into alphabetical order was really quite difficult!

But you might also notice that there’s very little mention of food here – we had to make this a rule, or else all 26 entries would have been about what we ate! We might just have to write a food highlights post too. It’s making me hungry just thinking about it…