Howard and Faythe Landis have been together for 40 years and have the kind of marriage that most people dream of. They have two children, a home in beautiful California and have traveled extensively over the years. I was lucky enough to meet Howard and Faythe one night after work in Harbin, China when I was heading to my favourite dumpling restaurant. Since that day they’ve become great friends and I often refer to them as family.
Howard and Faythe Landis
When did you catch the travel bug?
Howard: When I was a kid my parents used to take us around the U.S, I think that was the start. When I was a senior high school I went on my first missions trip to the West Indies to an island called Barbados. I fell in love with the place, fell in love with the people and the beaches and I think that’s where the travel bug bit me hard. After that we’ve traveled quite a bit and each time we travel I get re-bitten. I keep thinking about places on our list that we have yet to see
Faythe: I don’t know that I had it
Howard: She married into it
Faythe: I married into it, that’s it! But I enjoyed being in Kunming and I enjoyed being in Thailand when we traveled there. There were things to explore, there were interesting things and I haven’t really found that in Harbin. The people are good but I haven’t found the interesting things in the city, it’s just regular city things
Howard: I love being here, I love the antic markets, I love going to the fabric market, I love seeing all the fabrics, the fur and the leather. Everything is an adventure for me
Off the top of your head, how many countries and continents have you traveled to?
Howard: We’ve been to about 45 countries, we’ve been to Asia, Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, we have not been to Africa, we haven’t been to the Middle East and we haven’t been to Antarctica and we have no desire to go there.
Where are your top 3 destinations?
Faythe: I’d say Thailand
Howard: New Zealand, we really liked New Zealand a lot
Faythe: I enjoyed seeing places in Europe like Paris.
Howard: I love exploring China too though. The history here, the deep history is fascinating to me and seeing Xian and seeing the minorities in Kunming in Yunnan province and getting to know them and learning about their customs. Going to Dali and Lijiang those small minorities towns, I love those places too.
Where is the oddest place you’ve ever spent the night?
Faythe: In the Chinese country side, outside of Jiamusi we went with a teacher friend and he took us to his families home, it was in the country side. The whole family sleeps on one bed and the bed is a concrete bed called a Kong and to stay warm across the wall on either side, the kitchen is in the middle and they have a fireplace to cook on each wall and then they push the coals under the wall under the bed
Howard: From under the cooking area to the bed to heat the bed
Faythe: And then they put big quilts on top. There were about 7 or 8 underneath us and then the whole family sleeps on that
Howard: It’s like a California king size. We had never slept together as a family before. For the first hour we giggled but it was comfortable, we stayed warm and it was part of country living in rural Heilongjiang province
Throughout your life, what has allowed you to travel so often?
Howard: We both worked as teachers so we had great vacations. We had 13 weeks in the summer and 3 weeks to a month over Christmas and New Years and always a week during spring break so those were great. For 6 years I volunteered with an organization called People to People and I took middle school kids on trips through out Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and that was a great deal of fun because the kids that we traveled with were good kids, they were bright, they were well behaved and our trip expenses were covered. Faythe traveled with People to People for two years with me and I did it four years by myself. We saw a lot of wonderful places and everything was paid for. I love to travel when someone else is paying the bill, that’s the best way to travel in my book.
Faythe: Now we’re retired and were traveling a lot now here because we’re over in China so we might as well see what’s in this part of the world. We know that we won’t be able to travel so much when we get home because our parents are aging and we’re going to have to look over our parents a little bit more.
Howard: But we’re not going to be bound to the house. We probably won’t do a long-term thing like this again in China, as much as I’d like to do that. Our parents plus our grandkids are getting to the fun age where we can hang out with them and maybe even take them on the next trip; we think that would be fun.
Top spot in the world you haven’t been to yet
Howard: I think Africa. My sister and her husband go to Tanzania pretty regularly, every six weeks or so. My brother-in-law is involved in some non-profit NGO stuff there, they know the country well. I’d like to go to Zanzibar which is an island off the coast of Tanzania, my sister has told me the beaches are wonderful, there’s lots of neat antiques and I love to do antique shopping wherever we go so I’d like to see Africa. I would like to see east Africa, Tanzania and West Africa. We’ve met some great folks here in Kunming from West Africa and as people typically do they say “come visit us” so I’ve kept their contact information so hopefully we’ll be able to get to Africa and take in the east and the west.
What were thinking about now is when we leave here is to go down to southern China in Kunming again and spend a little time there then fly to Nepal and then after spend some time there then head down and do the Golden Triangle. Do Agora, Jaipur and Deli, I am hopeful we will see India before we head back home
The world world be a much better place without:
Howard: People who have greedy nasty hearts
What piece of travel advice would give someone?
Howard: Don’t put it off. Don’t say I can’t afford it, don’t say I’m too old, don’t say I’d like to go to that place, just do it. Travel is such a good education and such a good thing for expanding your worldview. You’ll be a better person and you’ll have a better attitude towards people who are different that you are. Just do it. Don’t make excuses and just travel.
Faythe: I would say do you research, you need to know the temperatures, take the proper clothes, know the ways of travel you’ll be going, be prepared for those type of trips
Howard: The world is such a great learning place with wonderful people of different stripes, different understandings, different customs, and to be able to go and to learn from them and to appreciate what God has given us in such a beautiful world is such a great thing. I’m so thankful that we’ve been able to travel because it has definitely enriched our lives in many ways.
Faythe: In every place we’ve been, most people are just like us. They want to be loved, they wanted to be needed, respected, cared for, they want to have a family
Howard: They love their children, they want what’s best for their children, they want to have a better life than their parents had.
Don’t be critical and judgemental, be flexible. We’re all different, we all do things differently we always have and we always will but that’s the beauty of how God made us
Faythe: That’s probably the best travel advice; be flexible. And if you tend to have things bothering you take a journal and write those things down so you can get it out of you so you can let those things go and enjoy the trip and enjoy the trip and not take those things with you.
Howard: Take lots of pictures and write a journal so you can show your children and you can plant that travel bug in your grandchildren’s hearts.
You can follow Howard and Faythe’s traveling adventures below