mundan baby head shaved

Our 10 top travel stories of 2012

by Michael on December 31, 2012

We wrote almost 100 travel stories about our round-the-world trip in 2012. From a shocking level of pollution on Bali’s beaches to learning how to make pasta in Italy to an uplifting moment in the village of My Lai, these 10 stories generated the most reader interest. (Click on the story title to link to it.)

Top travel stories of 2012

1) We witness a Hindu head-shaving ceremony

One of the most memorable days of our journey was spent at Batu Caves, a Hindu holy site near Kuala Lumpur. Quite by chance we happened on a family celebrating the holy rite of mundan, the once-in-a-lifetime experience when an infant has their head shaved. The family graciously allowed us to take part and videotape the event.

Batu caves

After witnessing mundan, we climbed the 292 steps to the holy shrine at Batu Caves. It was also a task on The Amazing Race tv show.

2) Decadent pastries of Paris

Food is always a popular topic for a travel story. It seems like the higher the calorie count, the higher the level of reader interest. Feast on these photos of decadent pastries in Paris. At least reading about them is fat-free, and might even burn up a few calories.

Paris pastry another assortment

 I don’t even know where to start with these.

3) Footprints at My Lai

Sometimes travel provides healing moments. Michael experienced this when he toured the village of My Lai, site of the worst massacre of civilians during the Vietnam War. Read about how his contact with a local family transcended the violence that occurred there.

My Lai memorial

A healing moment at My Lai. 

4) Tips from the Afghan girl cover photographer

While we were in Italy we participated in an interview with Steve McCurry, the photographer of the iconic image of the Afghan girl with the luminescent green eyes on the cover of National Geographic. McCurry generously shares his top photography tips.

5) Don’t flush the frog: Our 10 dumbest travel mistakes, so far

Although we are fairly experienced travelers by now, we still make some fairly stupid travel mistakes. Learn from them, laugh at them but most of all, avoid them.

Luna Park clowns Sydney

Some days we feel just like these clowns at Luna Park in Sydney, Australia. 

6) Learning how to make pasta in Italy

Larissa took cooking courses in 7 countries, one of her favorites was learning the secrets to making pasta from scratch in Italy. Now she has a backup plan in case this whole travel writing thing doesn’t work out.

How to make pasta

There’s been some good eating after all these classes.

7) Review of women’s travel shoes

Sometimes people are just looking for practical advice from our travel experience. Larissa the shoe lover provided it with her review of women’s travel shoes.

8) A trashy beach in Bali

Travel is not all giggles and kicks. Our disappointing time on the polluted beaches of Bali showed how important it is to thoroughly research a destination before you go there, and to take some of what you read with a grain of salt. Bali is presented as a tropical paradise. Our experience there was somewhat different.

Bali Kuta Beach trash with girl

Yes, this is an actual photo of a beach in Bali. This woman seems determined to get her tan.

9) Our daily bread in Doha

The Middle East was one of the most hospitable places we visited, as Michael found out on a bread line in Qatar.

Travel stories bakery Doha

Michael in his “happy place,” waiting for treats at a bakery. 

10) The colorful vintage cars of Latin America 

Michael had a little fun with his camera on this one as he highlighted the vintage cars still on the road in Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay.

Vintage Studebaker Uruguay

It’s not unusual to see cars from the 50s and 60s on the streets in South America.

2012 has been a blast. In 2013, we’ll be roadtripping in the United States as we work on a book about our round-the-world journey. What are your travel plans for the New Year?

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

Lillie - @WorldLillie December 31, 2012 at 11:43 am

What a wonderful list!!! And great photos to go with it. May 2013 and beyond bring as many amazing adventures.

Cat of Sunshine and Siestas December 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Impressive list! Sending loads of good vibes your way for another great year of travel in 2013! All my best from Spain.

Joel Chusid December 31, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Happy new year, guys, wherever you are. Gloria and I send greetings from Barranquilla!

gabi January 1, 2013 at 3:05 am

i love this recap. makes me want to read tons from your site. thanks for giving me what to read…. i love by the way to opening pic and the mistakes you’ve made… and as always, that trophy….

Larissa January 1, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Thanks Lillie. It’s fun to look back, which gives us even more motivation to seek out adventure in the future.

Happy New Year! 🙂

Larissa January 1, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Same to you Joel & Gloria! We just enjoyed some Dulce de Leche gelato on New Years eve and thought fondly of our time in Buenos Aires. . .

Larissa January 1, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Thanks Steve. It was definitely a landmark year. We now have less stuff, but we are wealthy in terms of experiences. We highly recommend it.. . . .

Mette - Italian Notes January 2, 2013 at 4:13 am

You’ve certainly been around. What an great collection of travel memories.

Larissa January 2, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Thanks Cat–and thanks for sharing your tips for Barcelona! Maybe we’ll have a chance to catch up with you there sometime in 2013!

Larissa January 2, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Glad you like the photo and mistakes–hope you learn from them ;).

Keep following Little Rocky in 2013!

Larissa January 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Thanks Mette. Looking forward to crossing paths with you again somewhere in Italy this year.

Raj January 3, 2013 at 8:06 am

WOW what great Travel experiences ! hope 2013 will be also great !!! cheers and happy New from Nepal

Larissa January 3, 2013 at 11:08 am

We hope so too! Yours is probably the Happy New Year wish we received from the highest altitude 🙂

Terry at Overnight New York January 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Wow — what a year you had! Great recap, from Hindu headshaving to bread in the Middle East. How will you top that in 2013?

D.J. - The World of Deej January 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm

What a great year, although that beach in Bali is just sad. Cheers to a great 2013!

Greg Prohl January 3, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Great overview of a year in travel, I especially like the vintage cars and the Parisian pastries, yum! For us it will be off to Eastern Europe in the spring, hoping to hit Ukraine, Poland, Czech Rep. and possibly Hungary if time and budget permit – but of course it’s all subject to change at this point!

wandering educators January 4, 2013 at 11:08 am

Love these highlights! And what a joy, life is.

Michael January 4, 2013 at 2:47 pm

i don’ know if it can be topped so we’ll be doing something different by road-tripping around America. Of course, we may fit in an exotic overseas destination along the way.

Michael January 4, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Hi D.J.,

Yeah, that beach in Bali was unbelievable. Good luck in 2013 to you too.

Michael January 4, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Hi Greg,

We never got to Eastern Europe because of Schengen Agreement visa restrictions. Enjoy your time there.

Gina White March 4, 2013 at 11:53 pm

If you are going through Nashville, Tn email me and I can give you the non tourist places to go. Many have done this for me when we travel and I would love to pay it forward.

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