Flashback Friday – Sept. 6, 2004

I love people’s #FBF (Flashback Friday) and #TBT (Throwback Thursday) Instagram posts, so I thought it might be fun to do a flashback blog once in a while when the dates line up!

It just so happens that nine years ago on September 6 Kelly and I embarked on the trip of a lifetime to backpack Australia and Thailand.

We were both 20-years-old and had been dating for over a year. We had been excitedly planning, scrimping, and saving for the months leading up to it.

Our plans were simple: see the sights, enjoy the beaches, and not work!


Four flights and many hours later, we landed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to complete culture shock. We stayed long enough to see the Petronas Twin Towers, ride scary public transit and relax by the pool.

We then hopped on another plane to Brisbane, Australia where we promptly shuttled to Surfers Paradise to start our three month holiday (the maximum amount of time you could stay without a visa).

We only stayed in Surfers for a couple days then flew north for the heat before bussing our way south. We spent time in Cairns, Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest, Mission Beach, Magnetic Island, Airlie Beach, and Surfers Paradise. We finished off the Australia leg with six weeks in Manly Beach, a suburb of Sydney.


Manly’s slogan is, “Seven miles from Sydney, a thousand miles from care”. It is the perfect description for the seaside town.

We climbed a mountain in the rainforest, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, saw wild kangaroos on our runs and wild koalas on hikes, hitchhiked with a milkman, went to the Indy races in Surfers Paradise, toured the Whitsunday Islands and swam with giant sting-rays, and spent days exploring Sydney and its surrounding beaches.


We said farewell to Australia ready for another adventure in Thailand where we visited Bangkok, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Phuket. We fell in love with the Thai culture and people and the pristine beaches.


Kelly’s family flew to Asia to meet us in Phuket for Christmas where we were spoiled with great company and a five-star resort!

Unfortunately it all came crashing down on Dec. 26 when the deadly tsumani struck Southeast Asia. Miraculously Kelly’s family flew north that morning and left the island just before it hit. Kelly and I moved beaches that morning and as fate would have it were walking to the beach from our hotel, which was perched on a huge hill.

The next couple days were simultaneously heart-breaking and terrifying.  The Thai people’s kindness and heart were unwavering. We got off the island and made it home five days later.

The trip was absolutely the coolest adventure we’ve been on. We had some of the best memories of our lives and also the worst.

Every year since from September to December, I occasionally pull out my journal and reminisce about where we were and what we were doing.

Every year on December 26, I think of all the people who lost their lives, family members, and everything they had. It’s a sobering thought.

But, today and most other days, I remember our adventure together, the amazing places and memories, and smile!

Have you ever been on a backpacking or cross-country trip? 

20 responses to “Flashback Friday – Sept. 6, 2004

  1. What an amazing adventure. You guys take the most interesting trips. I can’t believe you were there and experienced the tsunami. Thankfully you and Kelly were safe, I cannot imagine how hard that must have been (and probably still is to think about).

  2. Wow, what an experience. Though I’m sorry about the tsunami, I’m really glad to hear you got to have such a fun and beautiful adventure. I’d love to just pack up and go one day… though I’m not wanting to move, a long trip would be fantastic!

  3. I spent time in Thailand last summer — it really is such an incredible country. What an incredible place to spend Christmas! It must’ve been surreal to be there during the tsunami.

  4. Wow I cant believe you were there when the tsunami hit!! thats crazy. thank goodness you and your family were ok! and all the backpacking leading up to that moment sounds like an incredible trip! i’ve never done a straight up backpacking trip, the closest i came was mulling about europe during one of my semesters abroad. that was a blast.

  5. Wow, this sounds like an amazing experience! Can’t believe you were in Thailand when the tsunami hit. So glad you were safe! I would love to take an extended backpacking holiday. If I had to do it all over again, I would have done something like this right out of college.

  6. That is so cool!! I love that you guys still continue to travel!! That looks like an amazing trip!! I am glad that you got home safe and sound. How scary though to be in a different country while a natural disaster occurred!
    I went to New Zealand for a month! It was so amazing. I would love to do more traveling.

  7. Wow this is pretty incredible! What an adventure. Unbelievable that you were there during the Tsunami. Craziness. Glad you’re all right! And I’m definitely jealous of the amazing travels you guys did together!

  8. Wow – first, I’m totally jealous because that trip sounds amazing. But far more importantly, as awful as the devastation and loss was, I’m glad that you, Kelly and his family were all safe when the tsunami hit.
    And, I’ve never taken a trip like that but now I sort of want to plan that for when Chris retires!!! (although we are already planning to move to a beach then so that makes me happy, too!)

  9. This trip sounds incredible! I can’t believe how close you were to the tsunami. Natural disasters are definitely terrifying and can change your outlook so much.

  10. That sounds like a trip of a lifetime! You and your family were so fortunate to not be in harm’s way on December 26. So glad you were in a safe place.

  11. Backapacking is an experience everyone must do, yours sounds amazing.
    I’ve been backpacking on a similar trip to yours, at the same times. Mine was Australia and New Zealand though, and I was with friends. I flew into Brisbane then up to Cairns the following day. My friends and I did a 3 week road trip through the outback up to Darwin, Kakadu National Park and all the waterfalls, then through the middle to Alice Springs and Uluru, onto Cobber Peedy and Adelaide in South Australia. We took the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne (where we saw Jamiroquai in concert – 2nd row!), then I headed to Auckland and the northern tip of the North Island of New Zealand for a week. Back into Sydney then home to Wpg. What an awesome adventure, thanks for the reminder 🙂

  12. Thank goodness you all were OK during the tsunami. It was so tragic and overwhelms me to this day, even though I wasn’t there – I can only imagine how you guys felt.
    I backpacked through India and Nepal, Morocco, and through Southeast Asia – all great memories! Canada one day!

    • When did you backpack India and Nepal? Nepal is the number one place on Kelly’s list, but I think we’ll try to go to South America before going back to Asia. I’d love to hear about your travels one day!

  13. I had no idea you were so close to the tsunami. How terrifying!! I love that your memories of the trip are still mostly positive. That does sound like the trip of a lifetime though. Glad you were able to go!

  14. Stephanie@nowiun.com

    Wow! What a story. What a sad and terrifying time that was for the people in Thailand… it must have been gut-wrenching to be there and see the devastation.
    Your pictures are just gorgeous. It doesn’t seem like a trip that you would ever forget.
    The furthest out of the country I’ve been was to Canada. I know that doesn’t count.

  15. That is a great throwback!!!
    I went backpacking through Australia for 2 weeks iwth my bro. It was incredible!

  16. What an amazing trip! I can’t believe you were there during the tsunami. How heartbreaking that must of been. That definitely sounds like a trip of a lifetime though. Those are places that I would love to see!! You guys have had some amazing adventures together!

  17. Pingback: Highlights from our California Coast adventure | Change of Pace

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