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We returned from our year on earth seven years ago this week, and now we’re back at it again–this time it’s three months around the world with two kids under five!  Follow along with our sure-to-be-wild adventures on our new site, One Family On Earth.

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We’ve been traveling for almost six months now and among the many lessons we’ve learned is this: travel can sometimes feel like a full-time job. Okay, like a really good job where we have neither assignments, deadlines nor specific working hours, but all the same, finding places to sleep each night, navigating new places every day, deciding where to eat every meal and making sure that we see everything we can in every place we visit can take its toll after awhile. Happily, we have the freedom to leave all of that behind for a few days and take a vacation within our vacation. And that’s just what we did for two days in Nha Trang and a few more in Phu Quoc.
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A westernized beach town on the southeast coast of Vietnam, Nha Trang boasts rows of hotels where guests lounge by the pool by day and a plethora of beachfront bars and restaurants where they migrate at night.  We were pleasantly surprised by Nha Trang, as other travelers had given it fairly mixed reviews.  Although it’s certainly not the place for you if you’re looking to experience “Authentic Vietnam,” the long stretch of beach is clean and dotted with manicured gardens, making for a picturesque escape from the bustling, pre-Tet crowds in Vietnam’s larger cities.
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A better choice for those looking to steer clear of the beaten tourist path, Phu Quoc Island sits in the Gulf of Thailand, off of the southwest coast of Vietnam.  Rumor has it that huge hotel complexes are headed its way in the near future but, for now, laid-back beachfront bungalows share the island with forests, mountains and a sizeable military base (necessary to prevent Cambodia, which claims the land as its own, from encroaching on Vietnamese interests).  Derek and I spent a day scuba diving1 and the rest of our time lazing by the beach and walking the miles of sandy shoreline.  At the end of our time in the sun, we were fully recovered from any travel-related stresses and ready to continue on with our adventure.  

  1. Our review of Phu Quoc diving: Enjoyable, but not alone worth the trip to the island.  The water was so clouded with sediment that, at times, we felt like we were swimming through a snow storm. []

While it goes without saying that we’re loving every minute of our luxurious hotel stays and our incredible meals, we haven’t forgotten that one of our goals for this year of travel is to spend a significant amount of time doing community service work.  Internet research has uncovered some very viable service options, but we’re still in search of some reputable places to lend a hand–far too many websites offer the opportunity to assist “Real, Live, Impoverished Asian People” if only we’re willing to pay $300 a day to do so…

We head to China in less than a week.  We plan to spend about six weeks there, traveling around the country, and we would really like to do some volunteer work. Here’s where we’re hoping that someone reading this knows someone (who knows someone who knows someone) who can point us in the direction of a good Chinese service project.  And, if you know of a good project someplace else along our planned travel route, we’re all ears.  This past month has been an amazing reminder of how lucky we are to be traveling like this, so now it’s time to switch gears a bit to start trying to be of some service. 

Just a quick check-in to let you know that we are safe and sound here in Penang, Malaysia.  As many of you know, a plane crashed in Phuket, Thailand yesterday, and we’ve received some concerned e-mails.  We actually flew from Thailand to Malaysia yesterday, but had no problems.  Now, we’re off to go explore this historical port-city.  We’ll write with updates soon.