I’ve been home almost two weeks now, and the reality of being back is slowly kicking in. It still feels strange, and sometimes I feel like this is so far just another stop on my journey, even though I know in my mind it isn’t. I’m occupying myself with sorting and editing my photos and videos, an enormous task because of all the material I have, meeting friends I’ve not seen in a long time, and obviously looking for a job (or any way really) to replenish my much depleted funds. I’m 28 years old, unemployed, with only several hundred euros in my bank account, and I would not have done anything differently.

I realize I’m still processing all the experiences and adventures of the past year, and will continue to do so for quite a while. Life has been so intense for such a long time, that the so-called dullness of home does creep up on me, even though I know it’s not necessarily any less exciting, it’s just exciting in a very different way, one that I’m not used to anymore. Regardless, as I was reminiscing, I automatically started thinking of all the best (and worst) places I’ve been, the most mind-blowing experiences as well as the most disappointing ones.

So I thought, why not share some of my rankings. Perhaps you might find them useful down the line, or at least entertaining to read. After all, everybody loves lists.

Here we go, the good, the bad and the ugly.

(Click on an image to go to the full story. Best viewed on larger screen.)

Best natural sights

Iguazu Falls Foz do Iguacu, Brazil
The greatest waterfalls on earth. An absolutely magnificent display of nature’s raw power and beauty, and a definite highlight of Brazil and Argentina.
Paradise Cave Phong Nha, Vietnam
As stunning as the Phong Nha region is above-ground with its shard-like mountains and lush jungle, the real awe should be spared for what lies beneath. Paradise Cave is the most spectacular cave I have ever seen.
Lake Atitlán Atitlán, Guatemala
After a four-day hike from nearby Xela, we reached a viewpoint and watched the sun rise over what is often talked about as the most beautiful lake in the world. And from my experience, I fully agree.
Runner-up: Salt flats Uyuni, Bolivia
An eerie landscape out of an alien world. That’s a good way to describe the immense plane of salt in the southwest of Bolivia. The flattest region on earth, it’s a place that boggles the mind.

Best man-made sights

Machu Picchu Andes, Peru
This lost Inca city perched high atop a massive mountain in the middle of the Andes is mesmerizing from every angle. It’s the combination of impressive ruins and dizzying nature that sets this place apart.
Valley of Kings Luxor, Egypt
The collection of burial sites for the ancient pharaohs is nearly 4000 years old, yet the hieroglyphs and paintings that adorn the tomb walls look like they could’ve been made just decades back. Simply amazing.
Angkor Wat Siem Reap, Cambodia
The largest religious building on earth. Even though a ruin now, the fact that I’ve visited twice, with a ten-year separation in between, made it even more special. Also there were monkeys.
RU: Las Vegas Casinos Nevada, United States
While Las Vegas wasn’t at all a pretty place to me, in many respects, the sheer size and overpowering nature of its casino’s were quite unique to me. Fitting with the intimidating and decadent feel of everything else.

Best cities

Medellín Colombia
Medellín takes you in and gives you whatever you might desire. Little over a decade ago it was the most dangerous city on earth, now it’s incredibly friendly. My favorite city in Latin America by far.
Chefchaouen Morocco
The Blue City in the middle of the Rif mountain range seems like a place out of a movie. Tiny, winding streets make up the medina, painted blue and white. It’s the perfect place to relax, with the smell of hashish everywhere.
Porto Portugal
Port wine, wrought metal arch bridges, small wooden ships on the Douro river. Porto is a place you can stay in for weeks and not be bored. It’s a wonderful European city, historic and highly cultural.
RU: Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Rio is madness; awesome, shocking, intense, dangerous. I ended my journey here and had one of the best weeks of the entire year. Probably the most vibrant city of South America, it took my breath away.

Worst rides

The longest one Bus Vang Vieng - Hanoi, 35 hours
The longest bus ride of the year had me perched in between an Italian couple and the rear toilets on semi-reclining seats over rough roads and humid heat. I did have some whiskey, a minor consolation.
Temperature extremes Train Cairo - Luxor, 10 - 35°C
The thermostat in the train wasn’t really a thermostat which meant that the only two settings were on and off. On being a freezing blizzard of cold air, off the equivalent of the outside air, hammering 35°C. For 12 hours.
The most delayed one Ferry Bohol - Manilla, 10 hours delayed
The ferry was subsequently two hours delayed, then four, then eight and so on. I saved my ass and made my flight out of Manilla by leeching onto a helpful Philipino and not letting go until he’d snuck me onto an earlier boat.
RU: The coldest one Bus La Paz - Uyuni, 5°C
Not having packed anything warmer than a sweater, I set off into an area that was known to reach -15°C during the night. The bus I was on didn’t have heating. Thus began my Bolivian cold period.

Best food

Couscous Chefchaouen, Morocco
I’ve been eating this traditional Moroccan dish since I was a child, but the way they made it in Chefchaouen definitely stood out. Delicious.
Pho Hanoi, Vietnam
Noodle soup! Everything is soup in Vietnam, but it’s goddamn great soup. As with many foods in SE Asia, the best varieties are usually served out of the dingiest-looking joints. No different here.
Phad Thai Chiang Mai, Thailand
The quintessential Thai backpacker dish, and something the locals don’t even really eat. Nevertheless Phad Thai is everything you expect from the ultimate street food; tasty, cheap and ubiquitous.
RU: Seafood Nazaré, Portugal
Portugal knows sea food, and I still recall the dinner I had just a week into my trip in the town of Nazaré. The setting was cozy, I was super hungry, and the fish-potato-salad dish tasted incredible.

Best hostels

Lost & Found Hostel Chiriqui, Panama
Located in the middle of Panama’s cloud forest, the L&F hostel is the perfect blend of nature, friendly vibes and a supremely chill place to spend some time. I should know, I ended up working there for a month.
Home Hostel Mexico City, Mexico
A small, quiet hostel in the middle of Mexico City. The people are unpretentious, the beds extremely comfy, and the vibe almost like a small family home that just happens to be shared by backpackers.
Reggae Mansion Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Worthy of the mansion title. A massive hostel, with all the amenities you can think of, a huge rooftop bar serving shisha and the scene of lively parties. And the beds are simply on a different level.
RU: Wild Rover Hostel La Paz, Bolivia
One of the most intense party hostels in South America, and the world by extension. Despite the debaucheries, the place is kept extremely tidy, and every day has a new activity to join.

Worst screw-overs

Onward journey Osaka, Japan
On my flight from Kuala Lumpur to San Fransisco I had a layover in Osaka, where a polite lady informed me I needed a ticket out of Mexico to be allowed to board. I managed to get a fake one online, major stress.
Lost backpack Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Upon arrival in yet another city, I discovered my bagpack was no longer in the buses cargo hold. After 5 hours and serious semi-Spanish threats to everyone I could find, the bag miraculously showed up on another bus.
Stolen stuff Mexico & Colombia
Although this happens to nearly everyone who travels for a long time, it still sucks. Mexico took my phone, Colombia my camera, and in total I lost stuff amounting to around 700 dollars. Such is life.
RU: Night club bliss Marrakech, Morocco
Local bouncers squeezed me out of 35 dollars before letting me into a vast and nearly empty night club. I was subsequently harassed by prostitutes and shady drug dealers, decided to leave and walked over 5km to get home.

Best parties

Sky Garden Bali, Indonesia
Sky Garden is the Sodom of Bali, with cheap open bars every night to get people absolutely wasted. Jeroen and I went here on our first night in Indonesia, and let’s just say things got out of hand…
Party Week Mexico City, Mexico
On my second day in Mexico City I met a group of life- and party-loving locals, who took me under their wing for much of the remainder of my stay. Topless bar dancing was a standard move in their repertoire.
Books Hostel Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This hedonist party hostel in Rio is known far and wide for its raging, booze-fueled evenings. It doesn’t hurt that it’s situated in the liveliest party neighborhood of Rio. I had fun here.
RU: Aqua Lounge Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is known in Central America as a place where people come to take in the sun, take off their clothes, and generally disregard their dignity. Aqua Lounge adds water towers to the equation. Enough said.

Filthiest toilets

Toilet of Death Vietnamese border crossing, Vietnam
This actually happened on the longest bus ride, so you can imagine the compounded bliss of having to go number two at 2am in the pouring rain on a squat shared with dozens of dead cockroaches, and living moths the size of my face.
The Shit Storm Ferry Lombok - Bali, Indonesia
We had rough weather on this four hour ferry ride. So rough that over half the passengers became seasick. I’m sure you can appreciate the joy of trying to use a toilet in a rolling boat with all the walls covered in vomit.
Hole in the Wall Luxor public toilet, Egypt
There’s not much to be said here. I understand that you might want a squatting toilet instead of a nice, shining, porcelain bowl. But in that case at least put it in the ground, so I don’t have to fight gravity.

No runner-up, although that term could probably be used to refer to a number of toilet-related events I ended up featuring in.

Best activities

Diving with dolphins Hurghada, Egypt
Ten meters underwater, on only my second dive in the Red Sea, a female dolphin decided to show up and swim with me and my instructor for nearly a minute. He said he knew her, I said sure you do. Magnificent.
Hiking and beach-bumming with Maria Guatemala & Belize
From intense walking in the hills of western Guatemala to even more intense lazing on Belizian beaches, Maria and I did it all, and it was the absolute best. And some gin and tonics as well.
Getting my first tattoo Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I’d been thinking for a very long time about getting a tattoo as a symbol for this journey, and a memory. I finally went for it in my final few days in Rio de Janeiro, and got my tattoo in the most local way possible.
RU: Campervan trip California & Nevada, USA
I, Stéphanie and Fany spent a week riding through California and Nevada in a campervan. We parked overnight at Home Depot, drove hundreds of miles from SF to Sequoia to Vegas, and it was epic.

In all these moments that I mentioned, and all the ones I didn’t, the people I met have always played a huge role in making my experiences as memorable as they are. So to all of you I want to say thanks, and in particular to

Cyrus, Raquel, Karima, Latore, Yassin, Guilherme, Thomas, Rachel, Jamila, Ilze, Stefan, Sara, Julia, Alex, Bianca, Priscilla, Heidi, Jeroen, Anouk, Stephen, David, Stéphanie, Fany, Juan, Vane, Caoimhe, Tina, Jannik, Lieselot, Ayla, Laetitia, Anne, Antoine, Florine, Jean-Marc, Saki, Marta, Melissa, Jorrit, Alicia, Ash, Shay, Jamie, Travis, Paul, Nicoli, Guilherme, Ana, Syed/Josh, Peter, Max, James, Georgie, Francisco, Felipe, Sandra, Mitt&Sam.

I hope I'll be fortunate enough to meet at least some of you again.

It's been a tremendous year, and with this I've written my final story about it. Obviously I still exist, and so does the world, so who knows, I might post some more stories here down the line.

Stay tuned!

August 7th, 2017

Get In Touch

If you have a question or comment, or simply like my stories, write me a message at
You can also follow me on Instagram.