George and Lisa Rajna spent 11 months wandering SouthEast Asia, from Indonesia to Mongolia where they fell in love and got engaged. Now married and living in L.A., they are our Trippers of the Week.
Tell us a little bit about each of your backgrounds.
Lisa: I was born in Boston but grew up in Los Angeles. My family used to travel mainly to go skiing but one year we went on a cruise! During high school and college, I had extended travel time in Israel and my love of travel led me to work at Club Med after college and spend seven years at sea.
George: I was born and raised in Santa Monica, California. I am currently working as a bilingual speech pathologist and have traveled to over 100 countries mostly in SE Asia and Latin America. I found Lisa online and loved that she was interested in international exotic travel.
You both spent 11 months wandering Southeast Asia; what are some of your most memorable moments from your journey?
George: 1. Proposing to Lisa underwater in Koh Lipe, Thailand 2. Seeing the quantity and diversity of animals in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia.
Lisa: I would also pick our engagement day as one of the most memorable! Another part for me was Indonesia. George took me to Bali for my birthday and we went to Borbodur which was on my bucket list. I had heard about it while on the cruise ship and always wanted to go. George has helped make so many of my dreams come true. Another highlight was seeing Angkor Wat with my parents. They traveled with us for three weeks on our big trip.
George, you served two years in the Peace Corps. What is your favorite story from those years and how did that experience shape your world view?
George: I would say spending New Years Eve 2000 in Rio for the millennium with a dozen Peace Corps volunteers. We went from Paraguay for a ten day trip to Brazil.
As far as the locals, the first time I went to visit my school after I left, all of the children from the school followed me and were asking me questions. One girl and boy invited me to their house. I ended up moving in with their family and spent my first two and a half months on site in their home.
Lisa, you’ve visited more than 100 countries. What has been your favorite country to visit so far?
I would have to say from our year trip Mongolia was one of my most favorite! I loved the vast expanse of nothing that they call the Gobi Desert. It is spectacular. We did an eleven-day van trip with another couple who we met as we got into the van. I also think of Thailand as my future home. We cannot wait to get back to Thailand!
George: I have been fortunate to have met people who have taken me into their homes and shared their way of life, sense of humor and cultural customs. In Hue, Viet nam, I was walking down the street. A lady talked to me in broken English and invited me in for tea. She showed me her ping pong table. After she killed me, she threw her hands up in the air and cheered: “Viet Nam!”
Lisa: One of my favorite memories is from Tetebatu, Lombok, Indonesia. We were walking down the street after dinner and a young woman from across the way yelled to us, “Come here. I want to talk to you.” We chatted with them for awhile and met the whole group. She said, “You are chantik. Beautiful. I want to take your nose for my baby.” She was five months pregnant. I also loved going to a wedding party in Moni, Indonesia.
Lisa, you became a PADI divemaster – was diving something in which you were always interested? Of all of the places you’ve scuba dived, which has been your favorite?
I learned to dive in San Francisco while I was teaching. During my years at sea, I dove nearly every week and earned my Divemaster card. The best dive I have ever done happened at Sipadan, when we swam among a school of several hundred barracuda, near Barracuda Point.
Where are you traveling next?
We leave July 2nd for Bali, Indonesia! We are off to the Togian Islands where George learned to scuba dive and I have never been! Salamat Jalan!