We have our one-way tickets to Indonesia and still I’m practicing the line in front of the mirror. “My wife and I are traveling around the world for a year.” Nope: still a little douchey. It’s extremely hard not to come across as pompous when you tell your friends this. “Must be nice,” they sneer. “Rough life, huh,” they say, rolling their eyes. And honestly, I’d glaze over too by the time you got to Thailand. I also might need new friends. And haters gon hate. So I’ll keep rehearsing.
My wife and I are traveling around the world for a year. We’ll start in Indonesia, then Burma, hop up to Mongolia, take the Trans-Siberian railway across Asia to Russia, on through Eastern Europe, then Scandinavia, down to some islands in the Mediterranean, then Morocco, then fly to Cuba, then Panama, Colombia, Brazil and Patagonia. We will give you photos, stories and some video of the people, places, cultures — and our adventures and meltdowns — along the way.
Some highlights to expect include hanging with the Moken tribe, or sea gypsies of Burma. Camping in the Mongolian steppe by horseback. Trekking through the Carpathian mountains of Romania. The islands of Malta and Sardinia. Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro. Also, changing plans and going blindly. Did I mention meltdowns?
Who are we… My wife, Rachel, is a talented fashion designer for a company in LA. She’s from a little town in the desert, halfway from LA to Vegas and has been to a few places in the world, but a lot of this will be new to her. (Too busy gettin' dat college degree and being successful!) My name is Beau and I’m a writer and magazine editor and I’ve traveled quite extensively writing articles in over 60 countries, so this more or less ain’t my first rodeo. Regardless, most of these places will be new to me too.
A little bit more about Rachel. I think she was a teenage Japanese girl in another lifetime. For a leggy Mexican broad she loves all things miniature and cute. She wears Minnie Mouse ears whenever a situation merits it (which, go figure, is surprisingly more than just a Disneyland visit). She covers her mouth when she laughs even though she's got great teeth. She’s obsessed with French bulldogs and has a pinup calendar in her closet with a new Frenchie for each month and I’ve watched her turn the page on the 31st and get a look on her face that is frankly a little scary. She shares random bits of world news with me that I know she heard on Big Boy’s hip-hop morning radio show. I've literally watched her cry at Pepsi commercials or Youtube videos about sloths. Sometimes when she eats she unknowingly hums. But, so do I. All of this is precisely why I fell in love her. That, and those sweet Mexican cans.
Recently, we sat down and made a list of all the countries we wanted to visit along the way. Hers was like: Greece, Spain, Europe, Ireland, definitely Greece, Af…ri….ca? And mine was like Sumatra, Mongolia, Burma, Romania, Russia, Ukraine (civil war pending), Colombia, Malta, Sardinia, Cuba, Scandinavia, Isle of Skye, Madeira...
My list got me a lot of “Sooo, what are we gonna do in’s…” The convo went something like this:
“Soooo, what are we gonna do in Mongolia?”
The horse trek to reindeer tribe, baby.
Transylvania, possibly vampires, apparently good hikes….also, Gypsies.
Well, we gotta take a train through somewhere to get from Mongolia to Europe.
It’s kinda between Russia and the other ones... I say, with a face that looks like the emoji baring its teeth awkwardly.
There was moment of silence but so far most hitches in our marriage are salvaged by sushi, Ben and Jerry’s, or sex. Preferably all three, in no specific order.
Clearly, there will be speed-bumps — the kind without Ben and Jerry’s on the other side. She’s not fully aware that ceiling fans don’t exist in every hotel. Squat-toilets in Indonesia will be…an adjustment. Our first 48-hour train ride will be interesting. Italian men might be an issue (I can’t compete with those leers!) She loves to camp, but camping in the rain — not so much. She is still not totally sold on Russia. But she’s also from Barstow, which scenically, kinda resembles Fallujah or Mogadishu, so it’s not like her standards are through the roof. Baby ain’t hard to please, and that’s also precisely why I fell in love with her. And why I want to see the world with her.
Yes, this is pretty much a travel blog. And travel blogs, like a lot of blogs, can get pretty boring when taken too seriously or become self indulgent. So in the vein of newly weds, how about some vows on behalf of Rachel and I:
I promise to have fun. I promise to be a real person and not some schmuck that refers to ourselves as modern explorers. I promise never to quote Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, Bukowski or any other trendy junkie-author that sells well at Urban Outfitters. I promise to go easy on the ellipses. I promise never to say, allude to or surmise that, “the journey is the destination” (two totally different places!). I promise never to use some tired, banal gimmick in photos like a quirky beard or mustache (unless the gimmick is my wife’s smokin’ bod!). I promise never to begin sentences with People say that…or People ask me if…. I promise not to be [too] pretentious. I promise to be respectful of nature and foreign cultures, but also fabulously honest! (F**k some towns, amiright?!) I promise never to get back to America and comment on how strange it feels, as if I’ve forgotten how to be a normal human in the span of eight months. I promise to be continually optimistic and creative and to approach each day like a kid getting out of school before the first day of summer break. I promise not to be too cynical. I promise to entertain you. I promise to make you smile.
So f**k it, let's hawk it all, let's quit our jobs, let’s sell our cars, let’s leave L.A. and let’s not look back. Let’s make our way around this pale blue dot. Let’s have nowhere to be. Let’s change our plans. Let's make love in more countries than people can count. Let's get in trouble, let’s get stuck, let's bribe border agents with cigarettes and nudie mags. Let's get Russian visas. Let’s not tell your dad about Ukraine… Let’s get lost. Join us.
Beau Flemister is a writer and the Editor-at-Large for Surfing Magazine. Follow Beau and Rachel’s trip RTW @planestrainsballandchains May 25, and installments of their blog “Planes, Trains, Ball and Chains” here at Fjällräven.us. Photo Credit: Mike Smolowe @msmolowe