To read all of the posts from the original Lost Girls round-the-world journey, click here!
To check out the photo gallery from our RTW adventure, click here!
Why We Left
It was in New York City, dead-of-winter 2005, when we- Amanda, Holly and Jen-found ourselves in the midst of a collective quarter life crisis. Sure, 20-something burnout may sound a tad silly to anyone born before the advent of MTV, Atari or Guess jeans, but long workweeks at stress-driven offices had taken their toll. Despite having creative gigs that fueled our passions, we were frustrated that we’d let our careers become our identities. We were starving for real connections with family, friends and significant others-who wants to date a woman already married to her job?
It turns out, we weren’t alone. Like millions of young women in our generation, we were plagued with doubts about the paths we were choosing. Though intense workdays left us little time for contemplation, we often found ourselves asking: What exactly were we doing with our lives? Could we ultimately commit to one career, city and lifestyle (and man), when so many opportunities lie before us? On our own, with no parents, advisers or a syllabus to guide us, you could say that we were a little, well, Lost. Okay, very Lost.
So before making the ultimate choice of which way to go as (gulp) adults, we decided to take a major detour, one we hoped might provide a little insight into these questions and just maybe, a road- map to our futures.
Kissing our jobs, boyfriends, apartments, families and our beloved Manhattan goodbye, we officially became “The Lost Girls,” and started making plans for a yearlong, 60,000-mile journey around the globe. Loosely building an itinerary that began in South America and crawled eastward through Africa, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia and Australia, we planned to explore the cultures, mindsets and lifestyles of our international counterparts, getting to know thousands of strangers so we may better know ourselves.
Our Route (The following entries were written while were on the road!)
June 2006: New York City
Yup, we’re still here….but not for long. Jen will say farewell to Manhattan at end of May, when Mom and Dad will be driving her home to Bowie, Maryland (a little like the last day of college, but they’ll be schelpping even more boxes). Amanda’s sticking around a couple weeks longer, but after the 31st, she’ll officially become a futon crasher (a breed of Manhattan houseguest only slightly more desireable than, say, termites or mice). Fortunately for her friends, she has a plane ticket home to Tampa on June 12th, so her days living the bohemian, rent-free life are numbered.
As for Holly, well, she’ll be hanging at her home with her man until June 20th. On that fabulous and fateful day, she’ll cab it over to JFK, check her very tightly stuffed backpack, calm her nerves with a few mini bottles of Bacardi and get on an airplane bound for Lima, Peru. There, she’ll meet her fellow LGs (flying together on a flight from Miami), share an oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-we’re-doing-this moment, take a huge gulp of South American air and officially begin the adventure of a lifetime.
June – August 2006: South America
The Lost Girls have arrived in our first destination, Peru, home of the ancient Incas, Andes mountains and pisco sours. Starting in the capital of Lima, we headed to Cusco, whose Incan name means “navel of the earth.” Part Andean mysticism, part East Village hip, part Colorado ski town chill, we planted ourselves here to chew on coca leaves and adjust to the high altitude before travelling 70 miles to hike the Inca Trail.
The Lost Girls survived the gruelling 4-day, 26-mile hike to the sprawling ruins of Machu Picchu and loved being out in the fresh mountain air. We celebrated by sipping red wine, eating ice cream sundaes and watching old movies at the Sanctuary Lodge—the only hotel allowed inside of Machu Picchu. We took the elegant Orient Express train back to Cusco to plan the rest of our travels in this diverse country.
Now we head to Puno on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, where we’ll visit the floating islands and check out Copacabana in Bolivia. Then we’re making our way up the coast to canyon country in Arequipa to spot condors in Colca Canyon, and Nasca (where we can’t wait to go to Ica Desert to try sand boarding). Next up are Islas Ballestas, or the “Poor Man’s Galapagos,” and beaches south of Lima before flying north to the Amazon Basin in Iquitos to sleep in a jungle lodge. Stay tuned for our next exotic locale—Brazil!
Oct 2006: Kenya
After making a four day stopover in Northern India to check out the “Golden Triange” (that’s new Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, we’ll be jumping an Air India flight to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. We’re planning to spend our first four weeks in the country working with pre-teen school girls through a program called Village Volunteers. We love this particular organization because they donate a pretty significant chunk of the program fee to the local community (rather than keeping it for overhead). During our stay in western Kenya, we’ll take a short break to hit the Maasai Mara, the famoujs game park where four out of the “Big Five” roam. If we’re lucky, we’ll spot lions, hippos, zebra, giraffes, gazelles, and other gorgeous wildlife. While we probably don’t have a shot of catching a leapord in action, we’ll keep our fingers crossed! After our mini-safari, we’ll head east, taking an overnight train from Nairobi to the coastal city of Mombasa. Few people back home know it, but Kenya has some pretty spectacular beaches…we intend to take full advantage of them!
Nov 2006: India After spending a couple days trying to avoid getting trampled as we roam the frenetic city streets of Bangalore, India, The Lost Girls part ways for the very first time. Holly will be heading off to get her yoga teacher certification at the Sivinanda Ashram (Om Shanti!), while Jen and Amanda will be cruising the sleepy backwaters of Kerela by houseboat. Can you guess which LG is more industrious than the others?
Dec 2006: India Holly continues submitting herself to torture at yoga school by rising every day at 5:00am to chant and meditate; we’re keeping our fingers crossed that she makes it all the way to day 30…a certificate and graduation! Meanwhile, Jen and Amanda indulge (and overindulge) in too much sun, alcohol and french fries as they skirt through Goa, India, Northern Laos and the islands of southern Thailand.
Jan 2007: Cambodia and Vietnam After making a mad dash back to NYC to visit her family and eternally loyal BF, Holly rejoins her fellow Lost Girls for culture, adventure–and a much-needed bottle of Khmer Beer–in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Pulling off our best Lara Croft impressions, we’ll climb up, over and around the dramatic ruins at Angkor Wat…argueably, one of the Seven “New” Wonders of the World. From there, we’re heading down to Phnom Phen, Cambodia and Ho Chi Mihn City, Vietnam to visit museums recalling some of the darkest moments in Southeast Asian history. The month wraps up in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi, where we’ll soak up some big city culture, stock up on fabulous silk dresses and take side-trips to stunning Sapa and Ha Long Bay.
Feb 2007: Thailand and Myanmar We just can’t seem to keep ourselves together! Just six weeks after Holly rejoined the Lost Girls expedition, Jen’s jetting off across the Atlantic to visit her extended family–and celebrate her Grandpa’s 80th birthday. While Amanda was shocked to learn that five members of her own clan will be visiting her in Bangkok, she’s even more blown away that her dad and his new wife are willing to journey through the heart of Myanmar to hang with the remaining LGs. Once there, the foursome will take a seven-day river cruise past the country’s famed pagodas, then return to Bangkok to meet up with the rest of Amanda’s family. Wisely distancing herself from the pack, Holly will hightail it to Koh Tao to get her dive certifiate and catch a few gorgeous sunsets.
March 1-15, 2007: Bali Together at long last, we’re leaving the mainland to go surfing and sunning in gorgeous Bali. After two weeks spent getting up at noon, drinking pina coladas and otherwise acting like total bums in Kuta Beach, we’ll head inland to check out the artwork and accessories in the bohemian town of Ubud.
March 15-April 11, 2007:New Zealand It could take a lifetime to experience everything there is to see and do in naturally stunning New Zealand, but we’re going to pack as much as we can into just four weeks. The Lost Girls will be renting a vehicle for the first time on the trip and using to it mow down the miles between major site and destinations. We can’t wait to climb glaciers, hike volcanoes, kayak over aquamarine seas, dive into steaming natural mud baths and of course–throw ourselves off the famous Nevis bungee jump. As our resident Lord of the Rings expert (read: geek), Jen will be steering us towards all those cinematic locations made famous by Peter Jackson and his lovable Hobbits. As a fellowship nearing the end of our own epic journey, we’ll be trying to make the most of every remaining day.
April 11-June, 2007:Australia We can’t believe it either–Australia is the last stop on our Lost Girls round-the-world journey! We’re gonna make the most of our time in Oz by renting an apartment on Bondi Beach in Sydney (just a block away from the water!) and taking road trips to cool spots up and down the East Coast. All three of us are dying to learn how to surf, so we’re definitely signing up for classes with the hottest instructors we can find!
After our two months in Sydney are up, The Lost Girls are parting ways…Jen goes back to the States to do the “friends n’ family tour,” Holly is returning to NYC and Amanda will stay on in Oz to dive the Great Barrier Reef. Are we abandoning the blog? Hell, no! Stay tuned for regular updates about our American re-entry, reverse culture shock and latest travel adventures.
Or choose one of the 14 countries that we visited during our trip to see all posts covering that destination:
- United Arab Emirates
- New Zealand
To find out more about the countries and regions we visited as reported in real time throughout our trip, visit the Our Route: Where in the World page.