If you must know...
Our names are Miin and Niel. Age is just a number and pretty irrelevant to us!
We hail from...
- Miin: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Melbourne, Australia
- Niel: Johannesburg, South Africa
But we are truly happy to be citizens of the world! (If only immigration officials at borders thought this was a good idea too..)
Why Travel the World?
The question is, WHY NOT? :P We wanted to see the world on our own terms and discover cultures on a deeper level, as well as focus on visiting Sustainable Communities dotted around the planet to learn and experience. This is all as a footing to create our own community in the future, and to help us decide where we want to live. Travel is magical and makes the world a better place (mostly!). We don't ever want to have desk jobs, we want to create our own passions and bring abundance through positivity- anything and everything is possible!
We have been traveling for 16 months through Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Australia, Philippines, South Africa, India, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and now the US (since January) and have experienced so many amazing places, been inspired by new friends and their journeys, and our travel bug has only grown in size!
What's with the Van?
We chose to drive starting in the US as we wanted to avoid traveling by air but we aren't game enough to walk, hitchhike or cycle all the way from North America to South America. Also, we love that we can sleep in our van and not have to lug backpacks around anymore!
Let us introduce you to our van. Her name is Suzie Wong, she's a 1991 Toyota Previa LE, she's red, curvy and totally sexy, especially when her huge butt is decorated with bumper stickers! We bought her in Oakland via Craigslist from a rather shady individual and three days later somehow made it alive to Cambria, CA after driving down the Pacific Coast Highway with a leaking Brake Master Cylinder. The mechanic was NOT impressed!
Note: California is definitely THE state for foreigners to buy a car as it's easy to register etc, while other states we researched require a lot more paperwork that non- US citizens/ residents wouldn't have.
We Support Generic Modification!
We've had to put in a new Brake Master Cylinder, 4 new tires, new brake pads and had to install a radio, but we haven't made any safety related modifications yet. We took out the middle seats so we would have our own cozy little sleeping zone and added some storage boxes for clothes, food and books.
Our windows are already tinted at the back and we will get them done in the front in Mexico, as well as getting a wireless killswitch, putting our number plates inside the car and a locking gas cap. (Thank you Drive the Americas for all the useful info on car modifications!).
Besides "What was your favourite country?", the most common question we get is, "How can you afford it? Isn't it really expensive to travel the way you do?". The answer is anything is possible. We both saved up money and had some from savings that we used for the trip. Last year, having travelled in cheaper countries, we managed to only spend about USD13000 each (which included airfares, accommodation, food, insurance, vaccinations...) which is cheaper than paying rent and living in our respective countries! This year, our costs have gone up because the US is more expensive and we have a little leeway with our budget but we save money (and have much better experiences!) by:
a) Couchsurfing- check out couchsurfing.org. It's not just about saving money, it's about making new lifelong friends and seeing places through the eyes of locals.
b) Not partying- we spend most of our money on good food, which keeps us healthy and happy. Shopping at grocery stores is always the better option but do treat yourself sometimes!
c) Buying a vehicle you can sleep in! And camping a lot :)
Time is But A Construct of Our Minds
We don't have a definite stop date as we are wanting to discover where we should live, but we think about a year from now we will be ready to spend a good chunk of time in one place and start an ecovillage, which is our dream and motivation.
Where To, Oh Fair Maiden?
Currently (May 2010), we are in Washington state and will be heading to Yellowstone National Park, before travelling to Mexico via Nogales, Arizona. We will be building an adobe house with some friends in Oaxaca whilst also touring around the country, then all through Central America, get Suzie and ourselves across the infamous Gap, and then continue through South America, probably in an anticlockwise direction, ending up in Brazil. Then we'll be taking a sailing ship (hopefully!) from Brazil to South Africa. Then.. who knows????
Other People's Opinions
The interesting thing about life is, you really have to learn to make yourself happy first, otherwise you cannot make others happy. Sounds selfish, but trust me, it makes sense. Neither sets of parents were supportive of our travels, and my siblings were unhappy too. It's something to do with Asian culture that travel of this sort is seen as doing nothing. Travel is supposed to be reserved for vacation time, during your two weeks of annual leave- I can't imagine anything worse for our choice of how to live! Our friends were all envious but we know a lot of people who have done similar trips before, so they gave us nothing but love and good vibes.
The bottom line is, you can't base your life choices on other people's opinions of how you should live.
Hablan Espanol Un Poco...
Nada. We had never spoken Spanish before (unless you count imitating Speedy Gonzalez as a kid) and we have been listening to Pimsleur (highly recommended) on long drives, which is certainly not sufficient. We will probably stop in Guatemala for two months and learn some Spanish because we really love languages and think it is very important. Perdon Senor, encantada. Donde esta el banyo? :)
The Most Common Question..
Favourite place or country. That is like asking what our favourite band is, or food, or movie.. we just can't answer that question! The world is such an amazing place in so many ways, that every place we go has something that enriches us and changes us, both physically and mentally. We cherish that and feel blessed to have these opportunities!
We'll fill you in at a later date about our weirdest experiences and worst border crossings when driving the Americas.
Break On Through To the Other Side
We did engage in some nervousness on arriving in the US as we flew Johannesburg- Cairo- New York, where we were greeted with poker faced immigration officials who were carting many a bewildered tourist into the interrogation room. Luckily the officer gave us 6 months in the US, and we thought we were off scott free, but the customs officer couldn't believe how small our packs were and thought that suspicious. Once again, he let us go, with a shaking of his head and wrinkled brow.
We hope that any Americans or Europeans or Aussies reading this thank their fine countries for their passports because you really do have relative ease of travel. We have to contend with getting visas for many places (although in Central and South America it is only a few countries we have to worry about) and even to get into the US, we had to fly back to South Africa to apply (a long and tiring process). Thank the Passport Gods!
You Wanna Do WHAT?
People to People- Basically keep an open mind at all times, smile, be genuine and friendly. We really think that breaks a lot of otherwise rigid cultural barriers. In the end we are all people and warmth of heart, feelings of connectedness will always get you through. In the US, we have only had love from everyone we come across and know this will continue. It also helps to give from the heart- little gifts, cook dinner, sharing experiences and say YES to almost naything!
Health wise- eat well and drink clean water (findaspring.com). This will extend your trip and save you money. Try to exercise! Yoga is always a handy thing to do as you can pretty much lay your mat down anywhere.
100% YES we would do this again! Even without knowing what Mexico, Central and South will be like, we would not hesitate to repeat this trip. We'd try to start in Canada though (visas, again, prevented that this time). We'd also like to travel other countries this way of course!
weareallmadeoflove.blogspot.com - Embodiments of Love!
My email address is email@example.com. Please don't hesitate to email me for any reason! We'd love to meet up with fellow travelers on the road, any time, any place.