Where/How did you meet?
Camille and I met in a house church in the Philippines. It was a very interesting group of people that were learning how to be loved and as a result reciprocated that love in a tremendous way. We started off in this community of friends and grew intimately close. In the church we were empowered to seek the miraculous, know that in our movement of love the impossible would happen. Over the course of a few months we literally saw hundreds of miracles.
Shortly after we met, Mark accepted a job to teach at an international school in Saudi Arabia. During this time we feel in love through letters, online chats, and daily Skype conversations. In one of those conversations Mark asked if I wanted to accompany him to his aunt and uncles 25th wedding anniversary. It took me a while to answer as I wasn’t sure this would be an appropriate first date and it seemed pretty high pressure. I ended up saying yes to being his date. Mark quit his job in Saudi, telling his colleagues and friends he was going to the Philippines to be with the girl he knew he would marry. As for me that was the last thing on my mind.
First trip away together?
Mark has always been obsessed with travel so on one of our first dates (before we officially labelled ourselves boyfriend/girlfriend) he told me he wanted to take me somewhere but wanted it to be a surprise. He asked the night before if I wanted to go north or south. My answer was south, we ended up a couple hours out of the city to Pangasinan Falls, a famous waterfall in the Philippines. We spent an entire day on a canoe, rowing through rocky river until we reached the famous waterfall.
Camille, what is the most romantic thing that Mark has ever done for you?
Before going to Shanghai (while I was still in the Philippines) Mark wrote me 30 letters, one for every other day until he came back to visit. I was surprised with how much time and effort he put into the letters. Two months worth of beautiful words, affirmation and love. He knew I was not a fan of long distance relationships but those letters made it a whole lot easier for the both of us. Giving that sort of assurance to our relationship was by far the most romantic gesture anybody has ever done for me.
Mark, what is the most romantic thing that Camille has ever done for you?
While we were living in Shanghai, I was teaching at a school there. Camille, with the help of one our friends (also a colleague at work), sneaked into the school. Before one of my classes she planned a birthday surprise. With a group of 2nd graders she came in with a cake she made, sang happy birthday and shared the love with the entire classroom. You could only imagine how a group of 2nd graders acted after meeting their teacher’s lover. This was the most romantic for me as it was one with a child-like spirit, exactly the way we should be living.
What is your favourite travel destination and why?
This has to be one of the most difficult questions we have to answer. East Africa demonstrated extremes in every aspect of life, from the poverty to the natural beauty. We got robbed in the same month that we reached the roof of Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. We safaried through 7 different safari parks, volunteer taught in Tanzania, visited orphanages, and worshiped with charismatic Christians in an over 3 hour church service. It was a very difficult place to backpack given the security issues, the lack of English speakers, and the poor infrastructure.
In Central America we really enjoyed Guatemala. We took Spanish courses in the small city of Queztaltenango tucked away in the mountains. The culture, even after years of civil war is visible and in most areas of Guatemala its easy to find indigenous dressed in their traditional clothes. At Lake Atitlan we stayed for over a week, popping into different lakeside towns and discovering another side of our spirituality. Antigua was a quintessential colonial city similar to others you will find throughout all of Latin America. The mysterious Mayan temples scattered throughout the jungle were mesmerizing. To have all this and more packed into one little country was such a great landing into the region. Even though we only planned to spend 2-3 months in Central America, we ended up land travelling from Guatemala to Panama over the course of 5 months. Of course, when we got to South America we we’re in for a whole new ball game. The distances were longer, the region was more diverse, and the people were incredibly kind. We ended our trip in Ecuador (one of our other favourites) before going home to the states and the Philippines and found ourselves with a bitter-sweet feeling with the promise that we’d be back.
What has been your favourite hotel that you have ever stayed in?
Before we set out for a year long honeymoon we took a shorter, 40 day trial run. Our first year anniversary (from our civil wedding) coincided with this trip and we spent a few days at the Songstam Lodge tucked away in a pristine Tibetan village with views of its gorgeous snow-capped mountain range. The days we filled with walks around the countryside and through the little village photographing the simple life of these villagers.
Define your idea of romance?
For us we always try to live our lives to the fullest, part of that is the expression of love we give and receive each day. Our idea of romance is that special everyday moments are found in the simplicity of being in love and being in the moment. Moments of laughter, smiles and joy should be seen as romantic gestures from this world. And for those of us who are able to receive with open arms and an open heart, allow love to grow even further. After all, giving entails a recipient. From this, unconditional love is realized and established and a reciprocity of it moves forward. What can be romantic than that!
What has been your most exciting adventure together?
Our most exciting adventure together was when we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Being on top of a mountain, on the roof the world is exhilarating. The sense of accomplishment we felt for each was overwhelming. The diversity of the landscape on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro was incredible. We started of in the forest, then trekked through moorlands which seemed like a dessert, on more difficult days we would have to nearly rock climb over and around boulders, and as we reached the top of the roof of Africa we saw glaciers. While this was easily the hardest thing we’ve done on the trip it was also the most exciting and the most rewarding. Both of us getting to the top has been one of our greatest moments together!
Favourite place to eat in the world?
Our favourite place to eat is the Philippines. There’s always a craving of comfort food in the form of kare-kare, chicken adobo, pork sinigang, roasted pork, longganisa, and all the other traditional dishes that make up Filipino cuisine. The mixed cuisine of Malay, Spanish, Chinese and American make a wide range of what Filipino food is. If you have no idea what any of these dishes are you need to check out the Philippines. Of course it’s easy to be overshadowed in Asia considering the dominance that Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, and Indian food have. Also, as a point of clarification when asked what our favourites are, our responses are simply what are favourites are so far. We’ve got a lot of travelling and a lot of eating to do!
How would you describe yourselves as a couple?
When we describe ourselves to people we like to believe that we are ordinary people seeking extraordinary experiences. Sometimes those extraordinary experiences include jumping off a bridge or out of a plane. Other times these moments are gastronomic orgasms from exotic street food to fine dining restaurants. When at home we really are just ordinary people trying to catch up on the latest episode of Game of Thrones over dinner with our little French bulldog, Pepper.
You’re on your extended honeymoon. How long have you been travelling and how do you plan your next stop off?
We’re currently in the Philippines on our 15th straight month of travel. We “stopped” our trip abruptly in Ecuador because Mark was offered a job in Austria. We thought we’d be able to get our visas at the Austrian embassy in Peru but were told we needed go to our place of residence (USA for Mark and the Philippines for Camille). We’re now just waiting for the visa to be processed and will likely be in Austria at the end of October or the beginning of November. In the meantime we’re hopping from island to island trying to discover more of our own backyard. We’re not really planning where we go but have been getting one way tickets to different destinations and simply hop back on a plane or bus to go to Manila whenever visa and work-related issues come up.
Once we get our visa we’ll be working and living in Austria. On the weekends and long holidays we plan on discovering Europe and hopefully some of the Middle East. The contract is for two years so hopefully it’s enough time to run around. We’ve got a long list of places we want to visit.
What is your favourite thing about travelling together?
When you discover something or have life-changing realizations it’s always nice to have someone to share that excitement. We’re happy to have sat on 20 hour buses through Africa, Asia and Latin America holding hands as we drove past different landscapes. Of course we have our own individual experiences and when we talk about what we saw the two perspectives are sometimes completely different. Sharing those differences are always eye-opening for us as well.
The other part of travelling together is that we’re able to learn more about how we see the world, individually and as a couple. We’ve seen each other at our highest and lowest points and being on the road those are intensified. To be able to lean on each other becomes even more meaningful. We’ve seen how each other reacts to extreme situations such as when we got robbed and how we bounced back. We’ve discovered passions and dislikes and continue to seek new experiences to know the difference between the two. This love, this life, and this journey, they are all meant to be shared.
What is your dream trip?
Mark- I’ve always shot for the stars. My dream trip is to go into space. I truly believe in the impossible and truly believe that we’ll be able to go to the moon and into outer space especially as space tourism advances and is starting to become a reality. If not I’d settle for a trip to Antarctica.
Camille- After watching Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and seeing friends pictures of Iceland I really want to go there. The landscapes and raw beauty of the country seem unreal. Of course there are tons of other places that I would consider dream trips but this one will do.
What would you say to other couples considering travelling?
Dream the impossible with whatever you have in mind when it comes to travelling. Don’t worry about money, logistics, or what other people have to say. It’s your dream. Find a way to do it and if you’re unsure give us a shout, we’d love to help ya. We have yet to find couples who have travelled whether short-term or long-term say they regretted it. If your exotic dream destination of Fiji isn’t feasible take a weekend trip or a short road trip. There are always adventures to be had in your own backyard. This will continue to feed your wanderlust.
While on the road try to find your (as a couple) balance. He might like extreme sports, she might want some pampering at the spa. Be open to negotiation, compromise, and support each other in your passions.
Check out what Mark and Camille are up to on their website www.365traveldates.com