The 30 Coolest Places I’ve Been (1): Foreign

I almost hesitated to do this one, because it felt like showing off: “look where I’ve been”.  But I decided to post it anyway, because exploring and serving the world that God has made is a priority  for me.  I post these places reflectively: thankful for what I’ve been able to experience, and hopeful that the next 30 years have even greater adventures in store.

The first 10 are foreign, the second 10 are domestic, the third 10 are “other”.


1. Machu Picchu, Peru, 2010 – one of the seven wonders of the world.  The four day hike made the destination all the more amazing.


2. Karen Villages, Northern Thailand, 2008 – I led a group of 8 guys on a trip to Thailand.  We spent a whole day winding through mountain passes in the back of a truck to finally arrive these villages just under the border of Myanmar.

3. Mae Lah Refugee Camp, Northern Thailand, 2008 – I remember this for the beauty of the people who lived in the camp, as well as the thought, “I can’t believe I am here!”  But it was the worst night of sleep I’ve ever had.  Dreams of snakes and bugs crawling into my mosquito net haunted me all night.

4. Lake Teletskaya, Altai Republic, Siberia, 2000 – To this day the single most memorable outdoorsy trip I’ve ever taken was one to this lake in 2000.  We rowed these massive rowboats the length of the lake, unsure of where exactly we were going.  I could tell stories about this trip for hours. It was epic.

5. Lake Baykal, Siberia, 2000 – The deepest lake in the world.  Also the most beautiful place in Russia that I’ve seen.

6. Republic of  Tuva, Siberia, 2000 & 2002  – once ranked by Outdoor Magazine as one of the most remote places on the planet. Got to go whitewater on the Little Yenisey River back in 2000.  In 2002, Melissa and I had an adventure here that included Tuvan throat-singing, live animal remains, a rickety bridge and a black lake.

7. Akademgorodok, Siberia 2000 & 2002 – I spent a month studying Russian at Novosibirsk State University in this little town in 2000 and again in 2002.  The university was built in the middle of a forest.  Every morning I would wake up and take a 30 minute walk through the woods to class.

8. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, 2002 – Easily the coolest museum I’ve ever visited.  Seeing the actual Rembrandt painting of the prodigal son was worth the price of admission (which was steep for foreigners!)

9. The Peterhof Palace, 2002 – I’m not usually impressed with people’s houses.  But this house, built by Peter the Great, gave meaning to the word palatial.

10. Trinidad, 2007 – was an eclectic mix of cultures with some of the most giving people I’ve ever met.  I will always remember eating a shark sandwich on the beach and body surfing on the waves.

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2 thoughts on “The 30 Coolest Places I’ve Been (1): Foreign

  1. I remember after you came back from the first trip to Russia, I think it took weeks for your feet to hit the ground. I still have the pic you gave me of your Bible on the shore of Lake Baykal.
    Thanks for posting this Bro, miss you.

    • Man, that’s cool that you still have that pic! It’s open to James right? We miss you guys too! Maybe we can buzz up there and see you sometime soon! Otherwise, you’re headed this way right?

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