Bill Faries and Dana Peterson are the 2006 Chivas Life Editors, a prize offered by the Chivas Regal whiskey company. It is second annual competition for adventurers who love to travel and write about what they encounter. .
Five years ago, Bill and Dana started a life-long trip as husband and wife. This year, they embarked on another exciting adventure together - one that has taken them to dozens of destinations on 4 continents.
"I think a lot of people have places they've dreamed about going to all their lives or read about in magazines," Bill says. "We, Dana and I, wanted to check a few things off our 'life list'."
"It has been fabulous. I don't want it to end. I wish I could do this for the rest of my life," Dana adds.
Dana Peterson works with the U.S. Agency for International Development. Bill Faries is a freelance journalist. They have traveled extensively around the globe for work. However, Peterson says, this experience is a unique opportunity for them to spend time together doing what they enjoy most.
"We like to have diverse experiences, we've met some amazing people and learned more about fabulous cultures," she says.
Now just halfway through their journey, they have toured centers of adventure and intrigue in more than a dozen countries over the past three months.
"We did a bike trip from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea, in Jordan over a course of a week," Faries says. "We did some amazing kayaking and rappelling off of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa." They also visited Robbin Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. "We were given a tour by a former political prisoner who was in prison with Mandela and met him. He was able to share his experiences of the Apartheid struggle and getting to know Mandela then."
Faries says they also visited countries they didn't know much about… like Turkey, Bhutan, Thailand and Vietnam.
"Hanoi, Vietnam, was a place we knew very little about before going into and had one of the best experiences of the whole trip so far," he says. "You know with the relationship the U.S. and Vietnam have had in the past, we didn't expect what kind of a welcome to expect. We found people to be incredibly friendly and hospitable and really excited to see Americans coming into their country, learning about their country and culture in a way that we never learned growing up from books or anything."
He says they found that warm welcoming atmosphere almost everywhere they visited.
"You definitely come across people who may be opposed to U.S. policies in some parts of the world, but we haven't seen that trend toward Americans in general," he says. "In Jordan, when we did this bike trip, I remember this man stopping his red Toyota Corolla right in the middle of an intersection as we passed by and saying, 'You are welcome to Jordan.' That's one of those kinds of things that we'll remember when the trip is over."
In addition to meeting new friends and making memories, the couple is compiling tips on traveling the world that will be included on the Chivas Life Guides website. One of these tips, Bill Faries says, is getting enough information about your destination before you get there. He suggests that talking to friends who have lived in or visited the place might be more helpful than just following what's said about it in the news.
He says their experience in Bangkok, which has served as their base in Asia for the past two to three weeks, is a good example of why the news alone may not be a good source of information about a city or country. "There has been a lot of political turmoil here. We've mostly seen this through CNN and what's on the news," Faries says. " By and large, [in] our travels around town, we have not affected by a lot of that turmoil. There is a lot going on here, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's not a good place to travel."
While the couple appreciated getting a real sense of life in the places they visited, they say the chance to spend more time together has been a more valuable aspect of their adventure, enriching their relationship as husband and wife.
"It has absolutely strengthened it because we're having moments that we're sharing together that we just wouldn't have in our sort of day-to-day 'ordinary life,'" Peterson says. "What we found on this trip is you still learn more about the other person when you're in the situation where you spend essentially 24 hours together for weeks and months,'" Bill adds.
Bill Faries and Dana Peterson have documented their journey in many ways. They keep journals, e-mail friends, videotape their adventures and take photographs wherever they go. There are still exciting destinations on their agenda over the coming weeks before their tourist adventure ends. You can follow them on-line, at thisisthelife.com