Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day 130

Sitting here at the Tokyo Airport waiting for my flight back to the US, I was hoping a nice wrap-up summary of the trip would come to me... It didn't. And I guess that's good because before I could even do that I should first talk about Japan.

After China, I felt pretty burnt out and tired. So in all honesty I feel like I didn't give Japan nearly as much effort as I had in other countries. Either way, Will and I still saw some cool stuff albeit at a much slower and relaxed pace.

Before we arrived we picked up a Japan Rail Pass in Hong Kong (they're for tourists and only available outside Japan). The JR pass allowed us to travel around the country on the world famous bullet trains. The trains were so efficient, clean, and comfortable... (India, please take note). And it was just as much fun traveling in them as was each destination.

After arriving in Tokyo we headed south to Hiroshima. We got to stay at our first Capsule Hotel... in the city's red light district... of course. Each capsule was large enough to sleep in, had a radio, TV, and alarm clock. I can't lie, it was kind of cosy. Hiroshima, undoubtedly, will forever be known as the site of the first atom bomb used in combat. Here we spent the day walking around the museum and memorial grounds. The museum was fascinating, but at times it did get kind of intense. And you can't help feeling a little awkward being the only Americans walking amidst all the Japanese museum go-ers.

From Hiroshima we took a day trip south to Miya-Jima. The island of Miya Jima is known for its Torri Gate seemingly floating in the water. We explored the island and got to hike to the top of Mt. Misen, to get some good views of Hiroshima across the water way. A little side note about Miya-Jima... the deer on the island have become totally accustomed to human presence and will try to steal food from you... weird...especially seeing people start out feeding one deer then being bombarded by numerous others looking for a handout.

We then made our way up north making a stop in Kyoto. Kyoto is the "must see destination in any Japan itinerary" according to some guide books. Kyoto is the old capital, and is filled with numerous temples, gardens, and other relics of "old Japan". After seeing very similar temples throughout south east Asia and China, I had seen more than my fair share of temples... templed out! So merely walking by them was good enough for me. It was also in Kyoto where Will and I decided to take in a little bit of current American cinema culture. There's nothing like attending the new Rambo Movie with a bunch of elderly Japanese couples at an afternoon matinee.

After Kyoto we spent 2 days in Kawaguchiko, a small tourist town at the base of Mt. Fuji. However, its not so touristy now because of the rainy season. And for good reason too, it was cold and rainy and Fuji-San only made an appearance on the day we left. But the stop was worth it, if anything the free coffee at the hostel made it worth our while. We got to climb halfway up the mountain in a seemingly endless day of fog, cold, and rain. Upon our return we got lucky and hitch hiked our way back to the hostel instead of walking the many miles in the dark. And Will proved once again that knowing some key phrases (in this case "hello", "thank you", and "a little bit") could tear down that language barrier.

And finally we spent a couple days in Tokyo, ending our time in Japan and the trip all together. Tokyo was fun. We walked around this huge massive city of almost 13 million people, got lost on its myriad of subways, and had some great sushi. We opted not to do most of the "touristy" stuff, but instead spent the days walking around taking it easy.

And now here I am at the airport listening to the loudspeaker so as I don't miss my flight. Just like every other destination we've been to, Japan quickly came and went. And with the end of Japan comes the end of the trip. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't happy about coming home, but there's still a part of me that secretly wants me to miss my flight and continue to travel.

But for now I'm done...
... for now....

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

One more thing...

Here we are having a wholesome snack of SCORPIONS in Beijing...

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Ok, this one's going to be quick. I'm in Kyoto Japan right now, and its, well, expensive... just like all of Japan. I'm also running out of money and instead of spending my money on things I need, like food, I put you the reader first by writing a post... this is costing me 1 meal right now... not to make you feel guilty or anything.

China was awesome!

China Highlights:

Hong Kong was great, totally not what I expected. It's a beautiful mega-metropolis with plenty to do. But at the same time you can travel 1 hour on its superb public transportation and arrive at a beautiful, practically deserted beach.

Traveling 30 hours on a train in China was interesting... especially sharing a hard sleeper with a Chinese chain-smoking elder who has no idea what second-hand smoke is.

Xi'an- 2000 year old terracotta soldiers... thousands of them being unearthed one by one- simply amazing!

Floating down the Yangtze River on a goofy river cruise... fun, but like I said, goofy. The best part was traveling through the locks of the Three Gorges Dam Project, the largest engineering project in China since the Great Wall.

Climbing an ancient holy Buddhist mountain, was physically demanding but an extremely fun day, especially when the locals want your picture taken with them. (apparently, they don't see many white folks)

Beijing- Unbelievable food, Olympic stadium was crazy, the Great Wall was even crazier! And just trying to get around dealing with the language barrier made it all that much better!

And now for some photos...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I apologize for the sub-par title to this post, I am absolutely exhausted right now, physically and mentally, and for the life of me can't think of anything witty...

Throughout our travels we've met some people that have been here before. And all their stories have been off-beat colorful tales of their trials and tribulations in this beautiful yet mentally taxing country. And when you listen to these stories you nod your head, smile, and think to yourself, "well, how difficult can it be?"

Well, listening to the stories and being a part of them are two totally different experiences.

Before arriving in India we had heard it all, "don't drink the water", "people are always hassling you", "people are everywhere", "watch what you eat","we got dysentery and had to be hospitalized"," the water in the Ganges at Varanasi has over 2000 times the toxins of normal swim able water", "be careful with your money", and so on and so forth. Like I said, we had an idea of what we were getting ourselves into, but it still wasn't enough.

We arrived into Dehli at somewhat of an odd hour, 2:00 am. The previous day we had booked a guest house in the main bazaar of New Dehli and had arranged airport pickup. Upon arrival, many of the taxi drivers will drive tourists not to the hotel they have designated, but instead after a lengthy ruse, saying the hotel is overbooked, they will drive to a hotel where they receive a commission based on the number of tourists they drop off. Now you see why we opted for the airport pickup... Haggling with a taxi driver at 3:00 am after almost 22 hours of traveling was not something we were looking forward to.

And luckily everything went according to plan... so far so good. Our driver drove us right to the streets of the deserted (at the time) Main Bazaar, while dodging cows, dogs, piles of smoldering garbage, auto-rickshaws, and a few people here and there. Our hotel wasn't exactly off Main Baazar, but instead down a side street. It was here on this side street we passed a man defecating in the alley while curiously looking at us. Well, we're here!

As I read over these past couple of paragraphs I feel as though I'm painting a slightly negative picture of our experiences here. We have had nothing short of a good time, seen some amazing places, and met some of the friendliest people in the world. However, in our last 3 months of travel we have never experienced a culture like this. It is completely different from everything we have known, and of course with all things new and different, it takes time to adjust.

I can personally say that my first day of Delhi was a dizzying and surreal experience that paved the way for the rest of the trip. Stepping out of the front door of the hotel, my senses were immediately overwhelmed, women in saris briskly walking by, motorcyclists weaving in and out of people, blaring maniacal horns, men pulling carts filled with vegetables, people shouting, dust being kicked up and unintentionally inhaled, the pungent odor of garbage, urine (human, dog, cow, goat, and the occasional camel and elephant), exotic foods and spices and exhaust, and of course a desert-like intense dry heat (luckily we timed our visit with the dry season).
For 5 hours I explored New Dehli and Old Dehli, returning back to the hotel with a bleary eyed look upon my face and some much needed sleep. Day 2, After some mild sightseeing Will and I decided it would be in our best interest of time to hire a car and driver to visit Pushkar, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Agra, and Varanasi, the first three within the beautiful state of Rajasthan. The following day we awoke early and by 7:30 we were in a car with our driver Surresh, on our way to Pushkar.

After 6 hours in the car listening to a limited variety of Surresh's Indian music selection, we arrived in Pushkar. Known as one of the holiest cities of India. Here they have the only Brahma temple in the whole country. And Hindi's travel from around the world just to visit and pray here. It's a small city situated around a lake literally in a desert valley. People bathe within its holy waters from the ghats (steps that lead down to the water's edge). Because the sanctity of the city it is against the law to consume alcohol and non-veg food (meat, chicken, eggs, etc...)And because we traveled west, it got hotter and hotter. Here we ate some great veg meals (R.S. restaurant if anyone's interested), hiked to a hilltop temple and observed the prayer services in the temple and down at the ghats. These few activities took up only a fraction of our 2 days there. The majority of our time was spent sitting in the shade trying to avoid the extreme heat of the season. In the hottest part of the day it would reach about 110 degrees. Water consumption was essential, we averaged about 8 liters a day.
A city of about 2.6 million people, it is home to the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort. An immense structure that was built to defend the city from any looming attack. It is also known as "The Blue City" because many of its residential buildings are painted indigo, a cooling color in the warmer months, and a natural insect repellent during the rainy season. We also were fortunate enough to arrive during Mango season! After a short trip to the market we were devouring a kilo of the juiciest most delicious mangoes I've ever tasted!
Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan. Its a large metropolitan city, but also has its fair share of historical forts, temples, and palaces. We visited Amber Fort, Jal Mahal- the floating palace, and the Galta Temple... also known as the Monkey Temple (did you know they like to swim?)

"Whoa, did you see that wild pig eating the carcass of that dead dog!?"

...Within the car, 1 hour outside of Agra...

So here we were, the city of Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, the single most reason why so many people visit this wonderful country. Simply put, the Taj Mahal is amazing, beautiful, an architectural and aesthetic masterpiece, and emotionally moving. Similar to how I felt at Machu Pichu, it was all very surreal. A piece of history I had read about since I was in grade school, and now having the opportunity to experience it in real life. Will and I made sure we arrived at the gate right at 6:00 am to be one of the first through the gate. We watched the sun come up over the trees and see it majestically reflect off the 500 year old, yet remarkably pristine white marble. Although filled with many tourists roaming the site, I still could find a shady secluded space just to sit and admire this wonderful building. I could go on and on with facts about the Taj, but instead, I will again refer to wikipedia...
In Agra we said our good-bye's to Surresh and boarded a night train to Varanasi.

The night train as it turned out went perfect according to plan. Our car was air-conditioned, the beds weren't double-booked, and it was relatively quiet for the 13 hour train ride... we didn't know how well we had it until taking the night train out of Varanasi back to Dehli... more on that later. Much to our surprise Varanasi wasn't as "intense" as we had heard. Perhaps the over-exaggerated stories came from over exaggerated travellers wishing to make their trip seem that much more exciting? Varanasi was built along the river banks of the Ganges, a highly polluted, yet extremely holy river to the people. It is here where people go to die, to die in Varanasi concludes your eternal death and reincarnation. While the sick come here to die and be cremated, the healthy come here to bath in the holy waters as well. Leading down to the river are the ghats, steps that lead directly to the water. The entire city has a multitude of ghats including one dedicated to cremating the bodies of the dead. The process is simple: A fire is built and started. Wood comes at price, with different grades of wood fetching a different price. The body wrapped in colorful veils is carried down to the water and submerged and prayers are said. By this time the fire is now large enough to handle burning the body. The body is then carried out of the water and placed in the open fire and cremated. This takes place all day, and anyone walking along the ghats can stop and observe the practice... very different with western approaches to saying good-bye to the deceased.
In addition, those opt not to have their loved-one's cremated on the ghat, instead just float them, down the river, paying their respects as they slowly float a way from sight. Keep in mind this is all happening while other's are bathing in the river.
With that said, Varanasi is also a place that is very beautiful. I've seen few cities with its same unique positioning with the river. The river's edge clearly defines its border. It brings life to the entire city, not just because of its holiness, but also as regular body of water. They use it for recreational swimming, fishing, and even the cows saunter down in the mid-afternoon sun to plunge their over-heated bodies in the cooling waters. The city's majority of roads are tiny, 5-7ft. wide; have unexpected surprises with each angular turn, and are always an excuse to explore and see what's just around that next corner. Varanasi of course has its main roads as well. Similar to other cities in Inda, they're an over-congestion of chaos with motorbikes, rick-shaws, cars, pedestrians, animals, and carts going each and every way. Lanes and direction hardly dictate flow of traffic. It was nice to spend time in Varanasi, but as with the other cities of India we've visited, it also takes its toll on any traveller.
The night train back to Delhi was interesting albeit frustrating. Our tickets were wait listed, but that problem was remedied, or so we thought. We each purchased a separate bed in the sleeper train only to find out after we had boarded we shared a single bed (used as a seat) with other people (not too fun for a 13 hour train ride). After much confusion talking with other passengers, the conductor (i use this title loosely), a stow-away (the heart of the problem) and a myriad of other people who thought it their business to add their own thoughts on the situation, we finally worked it all out. Each of us found an empty bed. However, the dozen (literally) of small children screaming and the many other passengers having loud in-depth conversations made it slightly difficult to fall asleep.

Now back in Dehli its funny looking back on our brief time spent in this country. To say the least it was an experience. Was it negative? Absolutely not. Differences in culture can make you feel very uncomfortable and take time to adjust; if at all possible. It puts everything else that much into greater perspective.

"A stint in India will beat the
restlessness out
of any living creature"
-Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Monday, April 28, 2008

Before we left Bangkok

We had to stop by the weekend market for a tasty snack...

...How about some grub worms and grasshoppers?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

In And Out

Pretty much sums up our time in Siem Reap, Cambodia...

After flying in from Bangkok we checked into our hostel. And usually I wouldn't even mention a small detail like that, except that it is the best hostel we've stayed in to date! We're talking spacious rooms, air-conditioning, clean bathrooms, a pool, home theater (right next to the pool), and free breakfast buffet! All for 10$ a in luxury at The Siem Reap Hostel!

Anyway, because we arrived in the evening, sight-seeing was out the question. So we did what we do best whenever we first arrive in a new place...walk around and ultimately get lost, then find our way back. We also booked a Tuk-Tuk ( and driver to take us to Angkor Wat and some of the surrounding temples. We heard the best time to view Angkor is at sunrise... needless to say we took it easy that night.

There's nothing like waking up, riding in a tuk-tuk, wind in your hair... and still too early for the rising sun. However, when the sun did come up, we were lucky enough to be in the temple and it was beautiful. I don't know too much about it, and instead of just copying what other people say read about here We stayed at Angkor for at least couple of hours exploring the maze of hallways and smaller rooms. The hand carved reliefs on the walls were so expertly carved that even 800 years later their detail hasn't been lost.

After Angkor Wat we moved on and saw some more temples in the area. We lasted until about 2:00. Its easy to get "templed out" after seeing just a few of them. So we called it a day, and headed back to our luxurious hostel.

The next day, our final full day in Siem Reap, we saw some more temples and visited the Land Mine Museum. Cambodia's lands are riddled with un-detonated land mines, from the civil war only 30 years ago; now injuring and killing civilians. Even while walking around town you notice the high percentage of locals missing arms and legs.

That night we had some of the local food, checked out a Snooker Hall (still don't know how to play) and got some sleep. And so concludes our adventures in Cambodia.
With no time to spare we left the next morning... back to Bangkok!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Budhas, Baht, and Boxing

Welcome to Thailand!

Will and I decided after Bangkok, we would head north to Chiang Mai, check that out, then make our way south seeing some places along the way. However, true to form, we started talking to some people that recommended going across the border into Cambodia and seeing Angkor Wat, a huge 1km x 1km temple built in the 12th century (a post soon to come).

We were lucky enough to arrive during Thailand's New Year, Songkran. Its a massive country-wide celebration of partying in the streets, throwing buckets of water on people and smearing others' faces with concoction of chalk tablets and water. You can only imagine what are reactions were upon our arrival into Bangkok when we see the people, painted white faces, showering each other with buckets of water... "uhhh, is this what they do in Bangkok!?"

During our stay in the country's capital, we were able to visit many temples (unfortunately after a while they all start to look the same). The most memorable had to be the Reclining Budha, a 50m long golden Budha which almost looked too big for its temple housing. We cruised down the Chao Phraya River in the public ferries, shopped the local markets for knock-off band name clothes, and ate our fair share of Thai cuisine.

Example: One night Will and I decide to dine at a little street cafe for dinner. The food was amazing, spicier than anything I've ever had before, but delicious! We're sitting at the table in the outside dining area (the sidewalk) finishing up our beers, when we see a man on a strange bicycle roll up, honking a horn, and stops literally in front of us. Before we know what he's doing, a line of people line up in front of him, money in hand and a mysterious eagerness in their eye. We examine more closely his choice of transportation and realize on the side of the bicycle is a rack... a rack of dried salted squid of various sizes! And behind the seat is a small table and cook pot with burning coals fastened to the frame. We intently watch the first sale...

Money is exchanged, a brief conversation is spoken, designating which size squid the customer prefers. The driver/ salesman/ chef, then heats up several squids over the pot of coals, lays them on the table, runs them through a hand cranked roller to flatten them, places them on a plate with a delectable chili sauce, and Voila!... Squid Chips!... delivered right to you!

Obviously, we're not going to pass up this opportunity to try this tasty little snack that apparently is quite popular to the locals, given by the line of people awaiting their plates.
After the line diminished in size we motioned to the man that we too would like to order, we choose our size squids, a choice between S, M, L, XL... we chose small. Again the process starts, and before we know it, on our table is a freshly (sort of) prepared squid chip snack.
Together, oceanic chip in hand... "cheers!"... chewing... facial expressions of displeasure (but not disgust)... chewing... swallowing... frantically searching for a beverage... gulping down the little beer we had left... "...That wasn't that bad." "Yeah, not bad at all, you want another?" "No!" "Ok, good, me either..."

And so goes the Bangkok Squid Chip story...

2 days later we left Bangkok for Chiang Mai via the night train. For about 20$ you ca get a nice bed in an air-conditioned car ( almost a necessity in the hot tropical humidity) for the 10 hour journey. For a fee you can also be served food and drink. So my first night train experience was quite pleasurable.
We walked around our first day in Chiang Mai and quickly found that walking in the heat caused an excessive amount of perspiration that was neither pleasant for us or the people we were around. And that the city is spread out so much that everyone else either drives a car or a motorbike causing the congested roads to virtually un-crossable (cross walks... what are those?).

It was only natural that we made the decision to rent motorbikes... check out the previous post and watch the video. Using my digital camera, some borrowed duct tape, my helmet, and a little bit of engineering skill, we had a helmet cam... and a source of entertainment for our visit!

Driving in Chiang Mai is just short of sheer madness. People on motorbikes swerving around other motorbikes and cars, pedestrians, the occasional farm animal (cow, chicken, dog...). The streets have designated lines, but no one pays attention to them, as goes traffic lights during rush hour (you kind of just have to go with the flow).

The motorbikes were also our transportation while there. We went exploring one day, about an hour and half out of the city. We started out on main roads, then it narrowed into a mountainous one lane paved road, and finally into a 6 ft. wide dirt trail. We stumbled across a coffee farm. We drank a cup of fresh coffee while admiring the view of the same farm where the coffee was harvested (you don't get that opportunity too often). That was the same day that I ended up with a flat tire and had to travel back in forth 2 extra times on the back of a mechanics motorbike... but that's a story for another time.

The Thai Massage Experience: Unlike a Swedish Massage that is intended to relax the subject, a Thai Massage is used to stretch and loosen the muscles. It consists of the Masseuse aiding (sometimes forcing) your body to stretch itself out, while using oils and an IcyHot like substance. Now we didn't want our Thai Massage in just any old place, we wanted it to be done with character.... So where did we go? Why the local Chiang Mai Women's Prison, of course!

Now, its not what you think. Its actually quite nice. The prison has a program for its inmates that are being released in the next 6 months to be trained in Thai Massage and can use it as a means of making money upon their release (I now consider myself an International Philanthropist). So for almost 2 hours I was twisted, stretched, and pounded by elbows, feet, and fists. And when it was all said and done... I felt like I had gotten beat up (surprise surprise). I have never been so limber like that in all my life. My flexibility had improved dramatically in the course of 2 hours!.. albeit I was sore for the next couple of days, but that's why the locals consistently get them.

Cooking School: Another little activity we participated in was The Thai Cookery School. For a whole day we were introduced to the culinary world of Thai cuisine. We started off at the morning market, each of us in the class was instructed to pick out 1 or 2 ingredients after a brief lesson in vegetables, fruits, and meats. I picked out some of the best kale and bananas you could ever imagine. Once the shopping had been completed we headed back to the "classroom", was given a lecture and demonstration how to prepare our first dish, rice noodles and vegetables. Then it was our turn!...Surprisingly, mine turned out very well. And for the rest of the day we made 5 more dishes, spicy prawn salad, chicken with cashew nuts, steamed fish in banana leaves, yellow curry with chicken and bananas in coconut milk. All of which turned out to be delicious... although i have the sneaking suspicion that when i try to duplicate these dishes at home the results will vary...

Muay Thai Boxing: Nothing like a good ol' boxing match... Thai style! Kicks and knees are allowed as well as fists. We were a little worried when the first match was between 2 boys no older than 11 or 12... "uhh, is this legal?" But eventually the matches moved beyond the realm of "little league" boxing into the real deal. And one of the best "between match entertainment" we saw was 4 person blind folded boxing. Pure genius! No other time have I seen 4 people frantically swinging punches and kicking, sometimes connecting with another contestant that almost every time would come as a complete surprise. The final match, the best of the night, was an intense 5 round spectacle. And yes, there was some money put down, just like the Van Damme movies (Chris, you owe me 100 Baht).

Chiang Mai quickly came and went, and before we knew it we were back in Bangkok... impulsively at the ticket counter buying a plane ticket to Siem Reap, Cambodia.

... next post!

Monday, April 21, 2008

For 5$ a day...

You'd be crazy not to rent motorbikes...

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Monday, April 14, 2008

Not even 2 hours into Thailand...

... I'm standing amidst hundreds of people shooting water guns and smearing my face with a white paste.
Happy Thai New Year!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Down Under, and Way Down Under

3 weeks in Australia is not nearly enough time for this beautiful and amazing country. But we did our best, and had a great time doing it!

We started out in Sydney, and spent a couple of days exploring the city. We walked through some of the streets, briefly experienced King's Cross, saw the Botanical Gardens, had a beach day at Manly beach, and of course visited the Opera House.

The Opera House, Sydney's number 1 icon was beautiful. Set upon the backdrop of the Sydney Harbor and the Harbor Bridge, it has become a major cultural destination for tourists and locals alike. The square is filled with hundreds of people, taking pictures, walking around, and just admiring the beautiful views. It was a fantastic place to get a beer at one of the cafes and relax.

After Lindsay arrived, the Australia team was complete. We flew from Sydney north to the eastcoast city of Townsville. Here we disembarqued for a 4 day 3 night scuba diving excursion to The Great Barrier Reef and the SS Yongala, considered to be one of the world's greatest wreck dives.

Our vessel for this trip, the Sea-Esta, was anything but a relaxing afternoon nap...a little rough around the edges, but that's what gives it character. And the crew and the dives definitely made up for it. It was 2 full days of diving, starting out in the early morning and ending with a night dive in the evening. With each dive we saw crazier and crazier marine life, tons of different fish species, white tipped shark, eel, rays (one at least 1 1/2 meters in diameter that almost razzed William... when marine photography goes horribly wrong...), sea snakes, sea turtles, dolphin, and yes even a nudibranc and a wobbegong (go ahead, just ask me what they are...)

The final day of diving was 2 dives on the Yongala. For some reason everything here is bigger, the sea turtles were massive, sea snakes twice as long as we had seen before, and yes, we even got to see V-dubs.... the groper that got its name because....well, he's the size of a VW bug! The Yongala dives were amazing and a great finale for the diving trip. After getting back to land, taking some time to get our land legs back, we caught up with the crew got some drinks and said our good-byes.

From Townsville, we drove south to Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands; 74 of the most beautiful islands I've ever seen. But before we got too far we made a quick stop at the Billabong Wildlife sanctuary. What could be any better than getting to hand feed some open range kangaroos, hold a koala, see some sleeping wombats, and view a crocodile feeding!?

We got some good beach time at the Whitsundays, all of us getting burned at some point or another, with some inconclusive results on the "tan-off" competition. We toured the islands by yacht one day, exploring Whitehaven Beach, the jewel of the Whitsundays, with the some of the purest sand in the world, 98% silica. We also had teh opportunity to travel some of the islands by kayak. There's nothing like rowing through beautiful blue green water to a deserted beach and exploring a desolate island! The Whitsundays absolutely amazing!

Next stop was Melbourne. This little gem of a city surprised us all and for us ranked just as good if not better than Sydney. Here we explored the little alleys, met up with old friends, walked along the waterfront, and saw footy game! Its back to Sydney for a couple days, to do some planning...some laundry, and figure out our POA... plan of action...

Here we are at the end of our Australia leg. Sad to go but excited for what lies ahead... in 24 hours William and I will be on a plane to Singapore!

Monday, April 7, 2008

I know...

I know... I haven't posted anything in awhile, but I will... I promise!!

give me a couple of days...

ps. Australia has been AMAZING!

Friday, March 21, 2008

New Zealand- 3000 km in 9 Days

Off the plane and into a Ford Fiesta, the party on wheels... And the best Ford I've ever driven.

Picked up our music listening selection," some snacks and supplies"
Within hours we arrive in Waitomo and sign up for a swimming / caving tour 60m under the surface of the Earth... Blackwater Rafting. Glow worms are really maggots.

We spend the night in Rotorua, passing out abruptly once checked into a hostel.

The next morning we purchase our sleeping accommodations for the rest of the trip, a cozy 3 person tent, the Promo 3!

We tour more of the North Island, getting a true taste of Middle Earth.

We arrive in Wellington, a beautiful city on the water, but unfortunately with no time to spare. We board the ferry, and enjoy the 3 hour ride to Picton in the South Island.

The South Island is literally made up of several National Parks. Each with their own ecological environment, coastline, jungle, desert, and mountainous glaciers; all within only hours of each other.

Enjoyed camping on a deserted beach, falling asleep to crashing waves.

From the western shore line to the East, up and over Haast Pass. Pushing the limits of the Fiesta's offroading capabilities (4 in. Clearance) to find the perfect camp site on a dried up river bed, reminiscent of all those Alaska trips.

Eating a delicious meal of Chef Boyardee-like spaghetti, tuna, and some crackers... Washing it all down with a delicious Ranfurly beer.

March 18
12:30. Arrive in Queenstown, bungy capitol of the world.
12:35 Inquire about cost and times for bungy jumping
12:50 Signing the waiver form to jump from the Nevis Highwire, 134m high.
5:10 Falling to the Earth with a smile on my face the whole way.
7:30 Having a celebratory beer back in Queenstown.

Drive to Mt. Cook National Park. Hike 13k alongside the Tasman glacier. Spend the night at the Ball Hut Shelter admiring the amazing views; and getting to know the Kea's (New Zealand's 2nd most popular bird).

Drive into Christ Church, enjoy the night out.

Return the car, good as new... Fly back to Auckland... For 11 hours.

Get back on the plane, destination Sydney, Australia!

(1:07 till we land)