During the Airbnb Open 2015 in Paris, Lene and Reinhard Muller participated in a competition. In the spring of 2016 they got a phone call from Airbnb, that they had won the 1. prize, a trip around the world.
The trip started on January 2, 2017. We found out where to go and how long it should last. So during 2016 the trip was arranged with great help from Anne Mueller, Airbnb - also by Frederica Comoglio and Linda Demirhan, Skyteam and last but not least Leonard Dijkstra from Schipol Travel. 1 month was set aside for the trip. It could have lasted longer, but the work at home submitted its limitations. January was chosen as the most appropriate to go. And we choose sunny/warm destinations, less kilos of luggage!
It was the first time that Lene would travel around the world. And the first time that both should visit Cambodia and Vietnam. I was looking forward to show Hawaii to Lene. And we both were looking forward to meet our boys, Maximilian and Moritz in Miami.
Tour highlights were scrutinized in books and on the web. Among other things, the Khmer Rouge's ravages in Cambodia in the 80s. Angkor Wat's amazing story. Meeting with Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and visit the Mekong Delta. See Hawaii with the volcanoes on the Big Island as a major theme. And finish with Miami Beach, Key West and the Everglades.
The greatest experience on the trip.
The 16.1.2017 early morning, we flew from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam via Seoul, Korea to Honolulu, Hawaii. We landed early morning on the 16.1.2017 in Honolulu. To experience 2 Mondays in a row was quite an experience. But it happens because you cross the date line in the Pacific. And as our flight had the direction from Korea against Hawaii, we got 1 more new day given. Absolutely fantastic. A good day to meet Hawaii.
We stayed in Pepeekeo. A beautiful area close to the Pacific Ocean and only a few miles to Hilo. The first morning, we drove few minutes, close to Hawaii Botanical Garden, where we parked the car - and entered the path that led us to the ocean. We went through the most lush landscape, we had ever seen. We could hear the ocean roar and we came to a clearing, where the Pacific revealed it self.
The great nature experience continued wherever you were. We went to the volcano crater Halema'uma'ns. What forces are unleashed. Sending lava to the surface - and overturning lava over the island. And see how everything grows on top of the burnt soil, which contains so many minerals (nutritions) together with the humid climate allows the growth potential beyond the ordinary. A paradise on earth with all types of plants, flowers and fruits.
Akaka Falls and the Pacific Ocean.
Everything is green and greener than usual. And the entire eastern side of the Big Island is covered by lush land. Plantation after plantation. What glory. Bananas, coconuts, pineapples, mangos, papayas, coffee and macadamia nuts. In addition, vegetables in all variations.
We met nice people everywhere. Helpful, friendly, Hawaiian and as newcomers - everyone was incredible open and willing to talk about the island. Many we met at the local market in Kalapana. Large hippiemarket with food, drink and dancing. New born again. Love Hawaii.
The biggest surprise on the trip.
We did not believe our own eyes when we landed in Ho Chi Minh City. We could see the city was huge while on our way down to put the landing wheels on ground.. But when we first got our feet on settled and drove from the airport to the city center, we got a shock. We had seen pictures and videos of the old Saigon and probably also of new Ho Chi Minh City, but it was still the old Indochina charming city we had in mind. Of course there were towers and lot of cars, but to imagine a city with 13 million people - where about 10 million of them sat on a motorcycle, a scooter or a moped together with tons of cars, then you have to kick your self somewhere. It was more than wild. It took our breath away and we had some difficulty to take it in again, the air and sound pollution was maximum, when you live in small mountain village like ours.
On the other hand, we met nice people who are incredibly diligent in their everyday lives. A young guy, who first had a normal 8-hour working day as an engineer and then drove UBER for the next 8 hours. Every day. But he was happy, saved up for his future child that was coming soon. Full speed on this city 24/7.
Here we felt at home.
Our home in Bargemon, Provence is very nice. But should we choose a place on this trip, where we could see ourselves in a daily work - it should be in the Miami area. Miami Beach (some of the places) is very nice.
In Miami Beach we had our daily visit at LF Café (breakfast/lunch/dinner place), owned by a French family. Their way of living reminded a bit about ours - super quality, professional service and double-bags mentality - always let your guest feel welcome. We really love that place.
And of course the nice temperatures the year around - the good ingredients within reach, the beautiful beach (only 3 blogs away from where we stayed) - and an attractive quality of life in many ways - and also the beautiful art deco architecture you see on the South Beach.
in Wynwood, new neighborhood with artistic and cultural values. Before an old quarter where the different buildings have been converted into art galleries, art stalls, restaurants and cafes as well as a great visual face via pop art on all fronts. Very interesting - not far from downtown or Miami Beach.
From host to guest.
Mostly we stayed via Airbnb. In Can Tho, close to the Mekong Delta, Vietnam, we had arranged us with Nugyen Thai. He is a fascinating personality and host - has built 6 small but nice apartments near to the city center. Incredibly helpful, and great to receive his kindness and to feel at ease. He lent us bicycles and was even the front-runner in traffic. Showed places we never would have found on our own.
In Hawaii, we had 2 different hosts. One an B&B and the other a small apartment. The description of the B&B was as we expected, but unfortunately, we were told when we arrived, to share the only bathroom with some other guests. We always choose a place where, we have a our own private bathroom and toilet. However, we managed! But it is very important to expect what you have payed for.
The second place, Kono, Hawaii Big Island - a small beautiful situated apartment with covered balcony. We have never seen a place that was so brilliant - all in the description 100% - it is what we think superhost stands for.
In Miami Beach, we had a lovely apartment located very central to shopping, restaurants and beach. However, the apartment was not quite designed for 4 people (our twin boys came from Copenhagen and joined us in the last week) and the convertible sofa was not intended for adult boys. But again, a sweet host immediately tried the best he could to change it.
Overall good experiences - however, we will point out that the clarity of some of the informations are not corresponding to the facts. It will be a good idea that the host describes the place as it is. It's annoying as a guest to arrive tired after a long journey and then find out that there are many shortcomings. Even though you have chosen to rent from a superhost.
How was the trip overall?
Now we have been home for some times and, we think almost every day of our amazing journey with gratitude and humility. The things we have seen and experienced can no one take from us. And we have already decided that we will take on a great journey as often as we can and hopefully every year.
Visiting the rivertown close to Siem Reap in Cambodia, where people live a harsh daily life. The term well-being does not exist. There are very poor conditions. Those who have a bit are poor fishermen, who might feed their family. Orphans we met, live in small buildings by the river. They receive little education in the same room were they eat and sleep. Their meals was rice donated from people like us. The river was used for washing dishes, clothes, but also as a bath and toilet.
But when you look at the kids, they were happy and cheerful. It was almost unbearable to watch and to think that the future does not look bright for them. An eye-opener and how important it is that help comes directly to them. When asking what the government is doing about it, no clear answer - all are left to themselves.
We met nice people who also opened the eyes and ears to us. Our guide at the Floating Market in Can Tho, Hí A Trúdng, told us about his quest to teach his friends and families in English - his helpfulness towards his own people was enormous. And we have agreed to keep each other informed and the opportunity to help.
We still work to address our memories, we have from this great trip. It will take some time and comes along the way. We are happy and grateful that this was possible.
Big thanks to all involved including our friends Elisabeth, Sven, Kirsten, Pou Erik and Tom who took care of our house and our lab Sille and cat Mimi.
From the great poet and author we finish or story