Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 22 November 2015





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Wild and memorable

Julie and Carols on an explore Asia journey pick Sri Lanka as the best place for wildlife excursions:

Adventure couple and bloggers from Canada and Brazil, Julie and Carlos, who took a year off their busy lives to explore Asia, covering a grand 62,313 kilometers / 38,720 miles through 111 cities in 16 countries have in identifying the Asia destinations, picked Sri Lanka as the best place for wildlife excursions picking Yala National Park as the clear winner.

“The best wildlife excursions were those where we observed animals not in captivity, but in their natural habitats in the wild,” they write enthusiastically. Wildlife in Borneo; Snorkelling and Diving in the Maldives receives honourable mentions.

Calling themselves regional experts in Asia, the blogging twosome claim they are often approached for advice on where to go for an Asian vacation. “The way we would answer that question would be to ask what kind of vacation one is looking for. A tropical beach getaway? An exotic cultural experience? An exhilarating adventure through the wild? It’s impossible to pick one favourite place during our Asian travels, but we know our favourites in every category,” they say.

Julie and Carlos’ best of Asia destinations


Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

The most exciting cities were bustling urban centres filled with sprawling skyscrapers, megamalls, endless people, and always something to do.

Winner: Hong Kong
Hon. Mentions:
Bangkok, Thailand;
Kuala Lumpur,





View from Upper Pisang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

The best adventures on the road were not only scenic, but are unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences in remote and extreme locations.

Winner: Trekking the Himalayas, Nepal

Hon. Mentions: Camel Safari in
Jaisalmer, India;
Volcano Trekking in Indonesia





Classic palm tree photo, Maafushi, Maldives

The most idyllic beaches had the softest sand, clearest waters, as well as an abundance of marine life and aquatic activities.

Winner: Maafushi, Maldives
Hon. Mentions:
Koh Kradan, Thailand;
Boracay, Philippines






Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The top landmarks were world-famous iconic structures that symbolize … and attract millions of visitors from around the world.

Winner: Angkor Wat,
Hon. Mentions:
Taj Mahal, India;
Bagan, Myanmar





Dan Zai Noodles, Tainan, Taiwan

The best countries for a foodie tour were ones with a deep history of traditional cooking methods, local ingredients, distinct flavours, all combined for the full sensory experience.

Winner: Taiwan
Hon. Mentions:
Vietnam; Thailand





Eye-Opening Experience

Row of bodies waiting to be
cremated, Varanasi, India

For the most eye-opening experiences, we caught glimpses of people and communities with a completely different way of life, places where it felt like a whole other world.

Winner: Varanasi, India
Hon. Mentions:
Sapa, Vietnam;
Inle Lake, Myanmar




Julie and Carlos in Malaysia

Note from Julie and Carlos


We definitely know which countries we would go back to in the future, though this is more based on having places we missed this time around. Nepal for sure, especially since we weren’t able to finish the Annapurna Circuit. Indonesia for another, as we only saw less than a quarter of the whole country. It’s hard to say when we’ll really go back, because for every place we visit, we learn about three new places we want to go to. Destinations-wise, we did what we set out to do during this Asia year: thoroughly explore east, southeast, and south Asia.


Food has been a huge part of our Asia year. Not only because we are foodies, but because food is such an integral part of Asian culture. Everywhere we went, food was so much more than just sustenance; it was a way of life, a reflection of thousands of years of history and tradition. We observed a deep level of appreciation for food in Asia that is unseen in the Western world. It was almost an identity – to taste the cuisine is to know the people and the nation.

Some countries had much stronger native food cultures than others. Vietnam, Thailand, and India come to mind. Regardless, we always tried to get a taste of what the locals ate, to varying degrees of success. While we are by no means food experts, it was fun to sample and be surprised by new flavours. We joke that sometimes we travelled in our Asia year just to eat. If so, we could not have picked a better continent.


We started the trip as complete photography amateurs, first-time DSLR owners.

All of the buttons and settings were overwhelming. Fast forward to a year later, we can’t imagine ever travelling without a camera. Photography has definitely become a hobby and we’ve slowly but surely improved. Looking back on the early photos is a bit cringe-worthy, but it’s proof of how far we’ve come.

Throughout our Asia year, we took over 28,000 raw photos! While a majority of them were not of good quality, the fact that we took this many is mind-boggling. As hard as we try, the photos were never as spectacular as the real thing. Not only because the camera lens can’t compare to our eyes, but also because a photo is devoid of the full sensory experience. We can never quite capture the complete atmosphere; it is but a small glimpse of the joys of travel.

Through photography, we’ve also grown to appreciate the environment and the need for sustainable development. Our planet is a magical place, precious and fragile. It takes seeing and experiencing it first-hand to remember to value what we have and never take it for granted. The more of the planet we see, the more we want to treasure and preserve it so generations to come can share in the wonder. The Gallery tab showcases our best photos for every destination.


Asia Year in Numbers

386 days
16 countries
111 cities
62,313 kilometres / 38,720 miles within Asia
Average of 2.7 days spent per bed
Average of 3.5 days spent per city
Total of 1,860 km walked
Average of 4.8 km of walking per day
Total of $33,870 spent
Average of $43.90 per person per day



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