This is the second part of our conversation with travelers Britnee and Mark Johnston, of One World One Year. Check out Part 1 here, for more on what it was like to settle into the role of long term travelers.
TOTW: Let’s talk about the places you visited. Tell me about a destination that left a lasting impact on you.
MARK: Our itinerary was very extensive, even compared to other long-term travelers we met on the road. In all we visited 26 countries between us: Japan, China, Mongolia, Russia, Finland, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, England, Scotland, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Bolivia and Peru.
Nepal, by far, was my favorite stop along the way. We had two whole months there, half of which we spent trekking in the Annapurna Himalayan Range. The combination of those colossal landscapes and vibrant culture was spellbinding and if all our trekking hadn’t been so physically taxing, I imagine I could have happily stayed in Nepal far longer. I’m already looking forward to a return visit.
BRITNEE: It’s hard to just pick one place! A memorable destination for me was around this time last year when we arrived at Red Square in Moscow. I had imagined Russia as a dreary, grey place, instead I found myself under bright blue skies with the beautiful red-bricked Kremlin and colorful onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral taking me by surprise. It far exceeded my expectations and it felt unreal to be at a place that I never thought I’d see in real life.
TOTW: Conversely, were there any places you visited that were frustrating, fell short of expectations, etc.? Why do you think that happened?
MARK: I think that being so worn out by the time we reached South America prevented me from enjoying it to the fullest. Chile, Boliva and Peru were still wonderful, but if I’d had the energy I think the experience would have been even better. Also, having too little time or too tight a budget to enjoy certain destinations was sometimes frustrating. We often joked that this trip was just the travel appetizer platter, giving us a little taste of many delicious flavors leaving us hungry for more.
BRITNEE: China was pretty frustrating for us. I think we made the culture shock harder on ourselves because we went to Japan first expecting our next destination, China, to be similar. It was a rookie mistake. In Japan, it was spotlessly clean, locals had polite manners and went up and down stairs in an orderly fashion. There was also rules like no spitting in the streets and no talking on the subway for peaceful rides. I will also never forget their fancy, high-tech toilets. Now, imagine the complete opposite and you get China.
TOTW: What about food. I know you ate hundreds (thousands?) of meals while traveling, but what was something that stood out for being particularly delicious, weird, etc.?
MARK: When we started this trip I considered myself a huge fan of Vietnamese food. Britnee and I had visited Vietnam before and loved the food and also ate it frequently at home in America. Only on this visit we had the pleasure of traveling with family and got to experience truly local cuisine that turned out to be more challenging that expected, at least for me.
BRITNEE: Before I left my co-workers were convinced that all there was to eat in China were seahorses on sticks. I’m still not sure where they got that idea, but in honor of them I searched for a seahorse-on-a-stick at the night market in Beijing and ate it. I was going to just take a picture with it, but Mark convinced me that I had to eat it. It was double fried so wasn’t that bad. It tasted like tuna.
This Part 2 of our conversation with Mark and Britnee Johnston. Check out Part 1 here, and come back tomorrow for the third and final installment of this series. Also, definitely visit the Johnston’s website One World One Year for more stories, photos, and ideas from their trip.
— Jim Dalrymple II