3 of My Favorite Travel Memories

By Mark Wiens 28 Comments
Travel Memories
Travel Memories

Meeting people, observing cultures, experiencing natural beauty, and eating food are just a few of the many things that build memories.

No matter how far we’ve traveled or how much we’ve accomplished, we all have lasting memories.

I was asked to be part of a travel blogger relay.

The idea is for each blogger to share three of their most memorable travel memories then pass the baton on to another blogger who will also share their memories. The longest chain of memories takes gold and has a chance to win a few cool prizes.

So here they are, three of my most memorable travel experiences. Enjoy!

1. Rice Terrace Hiking and Chicken Eating

There are a number of breathtaking rice terraces in the Philippines, and after seeing Banaue, I was addicted to the beauty and decided I had to see more.

Through a friend of a friend I hired a local guy to lead me by foot on a route from Mayoyao to Batad. The trail, an overgrown farmer path, lead through majestic rice fields, across ridges, and through valleys.

Wrapping my chickens
Packaging my chickens

We stopped at my guide’s home village to visit his family and I decided to purchase two chickens from his father in-law to bring to Batad, the village we were en-route to.

The chickens were packaged in a woven basket.

Incredible beauty in the Philippines
Incredible beauty in the Philippines

Despite my poultry squawking manically for the next 12 hours as we hiked, the scenery was breathtaking.

Burning off the feathers from the chicken
Burning off the feathers from the chicken

I was completely drained of energy when we arrived to Batad and my mind was on the chicken we were about to partake of.

The family was just as excited as I, happy we had arrived and excited about the protein rich little treats we had brought as gifts. The father quickly got to work on a local northern Filipino chicken dish known as pinikpikan.

The chicken was flavorful, scrawny and chewy, and the journey, the experience, and the meal shared with the family was priceless.

Hiking in Torres del Paine
Hiking in Torres del Paine

2. Meat in Patagonia

Upon graduating from university I headed to Buenos Aires to attend a 1 month English teaching certificate course. After completing the course, I along with a friend I had met, decided to venture south to Patagonia. A few weeks later we were in Chile, about to embark on a 10 day hiking trip through Torres del Paine National Park.

At that time my desire to see the world was much stronger than my wallet – in other words I had little money to spend if I wanted to continue traveling.

After gathering our final supplies the night before the hike, we planned to go back to our guesthouse and eat huge bowls of oatmeal – cheap and filling.

On the way home we stopped at a steak restaurant and longingly admired the tantalizing display of meat through the window, yet knowing there was absolutely no way we could afford such a meal.

In the midst of our dreamy lip-licking meat daze on the side of the street, the door opened and out popped a motherly looking waitress who had just finished her shift.

(following conversation in Spanish)

“It’s a very good restaurant,” she told us.

“Yah, we are just looking though, because the prices are too high for us (there was a menu pinned on the window),” we replied.

“Would you like to come back to my home for some tea?” was her reply.

15 minutes later we found ourselves in a local Chilean home sipping on cups of hot tea with grandma, mom, kids, and an entire family excited to have foreign visitors.

Tea turned into snacks and snacks into sausages and finally meat filled sandwiches. The warm hospitality from the family to two strangers was remarkable.

Upon leaving we expressed our sincere thanks, and the grandma sent us back to our guesthouse with a bag full of sandwiches for us to take on the hike the following day.

It’s often the best travel experiences that come when least expected.

Furious Rhino!
Furious Rhino (this is a different rhino – no time for photos in the story!)

3. Charged by a Furious Rhinoceros

Rhinos are MASSIVE creatures.

When I was 10 years old my family moved to Kenya.

There we purchased a small car with a manual transmission. Though my father had been driving a stick since he was a child, my mother needed to learn.

In Nairobi, nearly everyone goes to the National Park to learn how to drive – it’s the only place where you don’t have to fight the traffic and be aggressive (well that’s what we thought).

So one day our family went to the game park.

Jump forward, rev, jump forward, stall, engine cut… like a roller-coaster we went.

Then we stopped to admire two rhinos across a ravine posing on the top of a hill. What we failed to see was a massive territorial rhino hiding in the ravine next to where we were.

Seemingly out of nowhere, the rhino came barreling towards our car, like a bus on legs.

“Goooooooooooooo,” my dad screamed.

“Vroooooooooooooooooooooom,” our car leapt forward, my mother managing to balance the clutch and gas in a powerful burst of acceleration while just barely throwing off the line of charge by the angry rhinoceros.

I remember looking the powerful beast right in the eye and my skin shriveling into goosebumps. I saw its horn literally just meters away, meters that saved us from being skewered like a shish kebab!

I hope you enjoyed my travel memories!

28 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Michele

    3 years ago

    I really just adore you and your family. Truly!! I’m in Bangkok as I type this for the first time with my two daughters and we are looking at different sections of your blog and books daily (as we have daily for several weeks leading up to our big trip!) . Somehow I had missed some of these first/early blog posts and I just read some this evening and have to say I grew even more fond of you – if that is even possible! Thanks for sharing your bright light, sweet smile and wonderful experiences with us all. Such a blessing!

  • Rebecca

    9 years ago

    Love the second memory – what amazing hospitality!

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Thanks for reading it Rebecca, random acts of hospitality are such powerful gestures!

  • Arti

    9 years ago

    Its memories like these which make us remember our travels after all those years. Your stories are captivating Mark!
    Best Luck with the contest 🙂

  • Aaron

    9 years ago

    Great travel memories Mark! Didn’t realize rhinos could be so aggressive. I would have panicked without the rhinos and just having to drive a manual versus an automatic haha. 🙂 Loved the meat sandwiches story, it’s amazing how many nice and great people you come across in traveling. Glad I came across your site on this relay, look forward to your future posts and adventures.

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Hey Aaron, thanks for reading this article! There are so many kind and generous people that we all meet along the course of our journeys – even complete strangers that offer their hospitality. Looking forward to connecting with you more in the future!

  • fotoeins | Henry

    9 years ago

    I dig the green rice terraces in the Philippines in contrast with the jagged snow-capped mountains in Patagonia. Those are some totally kick-ass travel memories!

    Thanks for the passing the “baton” to me!

  • lola

    9 years ago

    loved reading this! great stories…all 3 of these places are on my list to go to someday! glad #teamBlue introduced me to you. i’ll be following along from now on 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Thank you very much Lola! Glad you enjoyed these memories and thanks for the support. Hope you have a chance to visit these places soon!

  • Arianwen

    9 years ago

    Despite having committed myself to team purple, I have to say I really enjoyed reading about your experiences. I can’t wait to see the Torres del Paine later this year. I hope I’m never charged by a rhino though!

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Hey Arianwen, thanks for stopping by… even though we’re RIVALS!!! Cool to hear you’re going to visit Torries del Paine later this year, it’s honestly one of the most beautiful natural in the world!

  • Waegook Tom

    9 years ago

    GO TEAM BLUE! Seriously, great job. I love the last story about the rhino the most…oh, who am I kidding, it’s the meat sandwiches that gets my vote here! That sounds like an amazing – and delicious – experience.

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Thanks a lot Tom – delicious meat filled sandwiches from a stranger is such a great act of hospitality and tasty as well!

  • Leigh

    9 years ago

    What a set of travel memories. I can just feel the tension in the car as your Mom tries to get the car in gear. Exciting to say the least. And time and time again I am impressed by the friendliness of strangers. This post was a wonderful read.

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      I appreciate it Leigh, thanks for reading this and glad you enjoyed it! Sometimes we’re just blown away by the kindness of strangers, just out of their own hearts. The thing that I love too is that hospitality can be practiced by cultures around the world. Sure some cultures are more known for their hospitality, but there are people around the world, regardless of race, ethnicity or background that are extremely kind and hospitable.

  • Leah Travels

    9 years ago

    I love these, especially the rhino one. WOW! The Philippines is the next country I want to visit in Asia. I’d love to have an experience similar to yours. How special!

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Thanks Leah! I hope you can visit the Philippines soon, it really is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and there are so many places to explore!

  • Audrey

    9 years ago

    Nice one, Mark! You weren’t kidding about the beauty of the rice fields – that’s a seriously stunning landscape! And I loved reading about Latin American hospitality. 🙂 It was so kind of her to invite you guys for tea at her home and then have it turn into a feast!

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Hey Audrey, I still dream about hiking the rice terraces in the Philippines – mind blowing beauty and the solitude is what also made it so majestic. Acts of kindness by random people are such powerful experiences!

  • Christina

    9 years ago

    Wow, what memories! The rhino one is just priceless (I was once chased by an angry sea lion), but I think I like the Torres del Paine hospitality best. You’re right, the best things happen totally unexpected. Love these kind of stories, randomly meeting locals and them showing you around, or inviting you for a snack, etc. Let’s pay it forward 😉

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Thanks Christina! Wow, an angry sea lion – I think any story of being chased by a wild animal is a pretty lasting memory (either good or scary). You’re right, after thinking about these memories I found that nearly everything I remember best were all things that surprised me, or things I didn’t actually plan, but just happened – and that’s probably true for a lot of us.

  • Cathy Sweeney

    9 years ago

    Wonderful people, food, scenery, hiking and being charged by a rhino? Memories for a lifetime! Love reading your stories and seeing the photos. The rice terraces are so lush & beautiful.

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Thanks Cathy, after thinking about travel memories I realized that for me it’s not really about the “attractions” I saw, but more about experiences, people, and food (food that’s part of interaction with people). Thanks for reading this!

  • Jeruen

    9 years ago

    Wow, you’re hardcore. I assume you know what pinikpikan is, right? Us folks from the city call it “double-dead chicken”, because first, you gotta box the chicken and bruise it until it is dead, then you butcher it.

    Anyway, I am glad you got to see the rice terraces in the northern Philippines; they’re really a sight worth seeing. This was the first place in the Philippines I decided to see, when I realized I’ve been backpacking to other countries and haven’t actually traveled my own. My only regret is that I didn’t have enough time to go all the way to Batad, and only spent time in Banaue.

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Hey Jeruen, thanks for reading about these memories. Yup, I know a little about how pinikpikan is made… it did taste pretty good, though it being a pretty skinny chicken from the start!

      If you get a chance to go back to Banaue, definitely visit Batad and also do some hiking back into some of the further rice terraces where very few visitors go – it’s absolutely gorgeous. That’s a place I want to return as well!