My Life Abroad: The Adventures of Two Birds
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Wed
16
Jul '14

Baby’s first Asian Holiday

Seriously, no time to blog while on holiday anymore, the baby just keeps me so busy.  We had a good time, it was so hot in Thailand, and no so much hot but the humidity would just knock you flat out.  We spent every day in the pool, and about every other day getting massage – heavenly!  We’ve all come home with a tan, including baby and we got to see so much while we were there!  The beach near our hotel was divine, some great sunsets while we were there.

sunset surin 2

Surin Sunset Day 3

sunset surin

Surin Sunset Day 13

 

I’ve been promoting different animals in our lead up to Thailand, saying “Elephant” and “We will see an Elephant in Thailand” – so when we get to see the Elephant it is exciting for her.  Raegan fed bananas to the baby elephant, and we took a 1-hour trek on the big momma, which was about 30 minutes too long for Rae – it was so hot she was not handling it well.  But still fun and there were some good views.   Here are some snaps from our day – click the link to see our Asian Holiday photoalbum:

The full photo album can be found here, enjoy:  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152257354106309.1073741848.656851308&type=1&l=ef19c6e3d4

The hotel was very nice, usually we move around when we travel through Thailand but this time we stayed at Surin Beach for the entire 17 days.  The hotel was eclectic and beautiful, and two nice pools.  The beach was just a stones through away, and so was our massage joint, just outside the resort on the main road.  The restaurant was superb and the staff was excellent!  There are limited things to do in Surin, you are about 25 minutes from Patong where the major shopping is but if you just want to lounge at the beach this is a perfect beach to do it at.

We did daily swimming, to the beach a few times, most dinners at beach side restaurants, many many cocktails and some beautiful scenery.  I definitely wont miss the hot

Our little swimmer did well, she loved getting into the ocean with Daddy and swimming every day with Granny and Grampa or Mum and Dad.  I think our first Asian Holiday with Baby was a success!

Tue
3
Apr '12

Events: Update

It was an exciting week for me, I was able to reconnect with my best friend from my senior year of high school, that is here travelling around Australia with her 17-year old daughter, yes I said 17.  They have been in Perth for much of their trip, but popped over to Melbourne for a couple weeks. It was so good to see a familiar face and hear an American voice for a change.

We’re quickly approaching our annual Easter Campout, I’m getting excited already to get back out in the bush and enjoy the outdoors.  The dogs are raring to go, I know just how much they love to run free in the bush.  We go to the same spot every year and it has been a good one for us, way out east of Melbourne about 4 hours away in a town called Briagalong, near Sale, Victoria.   Our best friends accompany us and we have a great 4-5 days just relaxing and hanging out.  There’s a great creek that runs through the camp sites, and we’re lucky enough to be 5-8 kilometers away from the next camp ground.  Check back for our pictures from this weekend!

Just following our Camp I am going to be joining Birdie in Darwin for a weekend, he is currently commuting to and from Darwin on the weekends, but I am going to go up to save him one trip home.  I haven’t been to Darwin in quite a few years but I’m looking forward to checking out the town and seeing where Birdie is working. 

The last weekend in April my Mother and her friend Edie are coming out for a two week visit.  They’ll be stopping in Sydney on their way into Melbourne to see the sights, and then they will be hanging out here in Melbourne with us.  This is Edie’s first trip, and Mom’s 3rd.  I am hoping to take them around to see some things that Mom hasn’t seen before.  I’ll be posting as I take them around the city so check back for updates during their visit the first two weeks in May.

Wed
28
Dec '11

NYE Holiday: The Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas Queensland

The Great Barrier Reef I’m dedicating this blog to my Gramma, who has recently taken an interest in my whereabouts and blogs and shit (huh Grams?).

It’s been almost six years since we’ve been here, to upper Northern Queensland, to Port Douglas where we spent our honeymoon – this is a very small town, a place that many “Stars” come to get away/visit in Australia. We’re on the Great Barrier Reef and have access to beaches and boats galore. The marina is in walking distance from our resort, and we are just on the main road – there is only one main road in Port Douglas, with little shops, great restaurants, resort hotels and bars. The best way to go is to find a rental apartment with a kitchenette, and the amenities you prefer like a good pool, and restaurant – in the location that best suits your activities. We like scuba and snorkelling so our favourite location is the beach with marina access.

I got my scuba license, after doing about 8 introductory dives in Thailand and Australia over a period of several years (an introductory dive is 1-hour of training and 1:3 diver to trainer ratio for one :30 minute dive), I thought it best after 8 of these to get my certification (which I did in 2009) – Birdie has procrastinated and only just agreed this year to get his certification. So this trip back to our favourite place, Port Douglas, was partially in an effort to get him certified so that we could continue to dive together (as scuba requires a diving buddy). I’m very proud of Rod during his course (I did mine on my own), I’ve been there going through the course with him – watching, participating, and taking pictures along the way – being involved and making him feel as comfortable as possible with this process.

The scuba Open Water Diving Certification Course is as follows:  Day 1 & 2) Online Course, takes aproxiomately 9-14 hours of study and tests.  The water course starts with; Day 3) In pool training with equipment and testing; Day 4 & 5) Open water testing and dives which includes 4 dives over two days and skills testing.  Day 5 is tomorrow for Birdie, he has one more dive and 3 more skills test to complete his certification.

Click pictures to enlarge.

Pool Training: Day 3 

   

Skill Dives and Training – Open Water: Day 4

   

See all the pictures here:  Scuba Photo Album

My own illness over the past couple years has been daunting, and I have had to take some risks in order to dive on this trip, but I am thankful and grateful for the opportunity to be one with the ocean, sea life, and this experience that I love so much. My first dive after being sick and finally going into remission again, well… it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I did great on my dives today and I’m so glad that I was able to be with Birdie during his course. It was a great diving refresher for me. This is something that I really love and something that I feel is an experience that not many people attempt. I get to share this with my partner and together we can be one with nature, and IT IS incredible.

After tomorrow (Day 3), the last certification dives for Birdie, we have a lot more planned for our trip in Northern Queensland and Port Douglas. We are already planning to do a couple new things on this trip:

1. Sailing to the Low Isles for Snorkelling with Turtles www.aquarias.com.au

2. Skyrail and Kuranda www.reefandrainforest.com.au

3. Breakfast with the Birds www.wildlifehabitat.com.au/breakfast.html

4. Cape Tribulation Tours http://www.jungletours.com.au

5. Daintree Rainforest Tours www.reefandrainforest.com.au

6. A minimum of one more day of 3-dives on the Agincort Reef (Opal Reef)

I’m looking forward the other adventures we are about to have on this trip, I hope you enjoy following our progress and sharing our experiences with us.

Thu
1
Dec '11

Our Summer Getaway, back to Port Douglas, Queensland

Its so funny saying “summer” at Christmas time.  In the land of Oz its summer, it’s hot and humid, with frequent days of rain.  Our summer break is celebrated with Christmas Tree and barbecues. It’s a season for flip flops, prawns, and sunshine… it’s taken a long time to get used to a summer Christmas and we even tried to get away last year for Christmas and New Years to the cold weather (and big snow storms of New York City).  But this summer we are heading off to the best holiday destination amidst the sun and the ocean. We’ve been on this great “travel” kick over Christmas/New Years, last year we celebrated in New York City, and the year before in Koh Samui, Thailand.  This year is going to be better than ever!!

Going back to Queensland is a long time coming, it is the place that we went for our honeymoon and experienced the beauties of the most beautiful Ocean, the Great Barrier Reef.  It’s the place I did my first dives, and now we are going to dive together for the first time on a two week scuba trip.  I’m hoping to see some new parts of the reef this trip, we will dive in some deep ocean waters and some of the most amazing reef areas in Cairnes and Port Douglas.
Birdie has been working his way into being more comfortable with scuba diving, it is a completely different feeling, one of claustrophobia, being surrounded by water – it’s something I struggled with on my first dive.  We’ve been snorkeling a lot in the last couple years and explored the waters of Thailand, and Vietnam on many occasions.  Birdie is taking his certification course this time and we can finally dive together.  I’m very passionate about diving, it’s something I really love.  Being under the water, swimming with schools of barracuda, eel, clown fish, seeing the beauties of coral reef’s untouched, and the sea life that embodies it. It is truly…  amazing.

Our wonderful housesitter is coming to stay with the pups and we are heading out on Christmas afternoon, and staying through the New Year.  Check back here for our pictures and our adventures underwater on our summer getaway, back to Queensland.

  

Tue
6
Sep '11

Hike and Helicopter Tour of Uluru and Kata Tjuta

We’ve arrived at Ayres Rock Campground and we’ve settled into our spot in the designated area.  Other campers are in the distance.  You can see that some are like us – amature campers – and others are completely professional campers and travellers.  Some with gear out the ass, and some in their cozy Winnebago’s (here called Caravan).  We’re contemplating if we should get a pop up caravan… we like to travel, maybe when we retire (haha).

The dogs have been great, and Lulu’s continued potty training while on the trip has been successful.  She waits until she is out of the car – so what I was hoping for, thank you God for small favours.  We stop at rest stops for the dogs to run around and have a bit of a play before we venture on down the long road.

First night, disaster.  I go in to go to bed and the bed is flat.  We have a double cell blow up matress, so it’s kinda like a Queen bed and it’s pretty tall off the floor so you don’t have to get down on the floor to get into bed. And you just hook up to a power point to give and take air from the bed. It’s nice and we’ve had it for about 5 years, we’ve used it on all of our camping trips and we love it.  It’s almost like sleeping in a real bed at home.  It makes all of our trips comfortable and you don’t have to dread going to bed.  But low and behold, it has a hole or a leak.  Something has gone terribly wrong.  It has enough air to sustain our going to bed on it (as if we had a choice), and about every 30 minutes I had to flip the switch to dispatch more air to the bed.  This went on through the night.  A sleepless night indeed.  The bed is now in the bin. (We got a new one in Alice Springs just in time for our last camp on the ride home.)

Rod went off to Reception at the campground in the morning to see if a cabin was available for rent for our second night, and luckily there was one.  I don’t think I could have slept on the ground so I am so happy that we were able to get a cabin for our second night.  The cabin has one Full size bed (this must be the master bedroom), and the second bedtoom has 2 bunk beds.  There is a kitchenette with hotplate, small fridge, all the dishes and things you will need, and a small table and chairs.  We spent most of our second day out and about at the National Park anyway but we had a place to crash.  Hallalujah!

I really can’t do too much walking so we went out to The Olgas (Kata Tjuta) to one of the shortest hikes and ventured up to see the rock formation up close and personal.  It’s amazing there are so many of these rounded rocks and together they run for miles, we went down a common track to see some of the native flora and the rocks themselves. Then off to Ayres Rock (Uluru) to look at it up close.  Rod took me to the area where people climb the rock, there werea lot of people climbing.  It’s pretty damn steep and there is just this rope that you hang on to, to get up there.  It’s climb at your own risk kind of thing and climbing is not encouraged or preferred by the park.  They let you do it anyway.

Going out to the National Park to see the two rock formations is common, but the sunset view is most popular.  Last night we watched the sunset at Ayres Rock, today however, Rod went off and bought us a helicopter sunset tour of both Ayres Rock and The Olgas.  He’s never been on a helicopter before so this is going to be a new adventure.  I’m excited to see both of these enormous rock formations from above!

    

We’re back on the road heading to Alice Springs today for 2-days before starting our journey back home.  I’m looking forward to seeing Alice, which is the second biggest town in the Northern Territory. If you are unfamiliar with the states and territories of Australia you can refer t omy map: Map of Australia.

Here you can see all the pictures from our hike and our helicopter ride:  Hike and Helicopter Album

Sun
4
Sep '11

Wine in South Australia

South Australia

I must have been kidding myself thinking that I could blog every day on this trip, once we left Adelaide we were lucky to get mobile phone access, forget about Internet. I will be lucky to get a couple blog posts in on this trip so I will just put as much as I can in the ones that I do. For pictures, will post here but most will be available in Facebook photo albums. Don’t worry, if you don’t have a Facebook account you can see the photo albums by clicking the links I provide.  Sorry it’s taken so long, but uploading pics to a photo album takes some time Lavette!

Road Trip Australia – Ayres Rock  <– click here

Facebook Album  <– or click here

On the first night we drove through the night to get to South Australia, that’s the state west of Victoria. Victoria is where I live in Melbourne. One of the biggest wine regions and probably one of the very best is here. It’s about 800 kilometres (500 miles). We are staying here for a couple nights to take in the wineries on our way through to Ayres Rock.

We visited, drank, and bought bottles of vino today from Elderton, Saltram where we had a beautiful lunch and tasted their lovely beer as well, Henschke, and last Peter Lehmann. Tried lots of varieties of reds (our favourite), and bought a few of our favourites, even had some shipped home. Note if you see any of these wines (for my US friends/family), definitely buy them – my favourites are the sparkling reds, something I had never even seen until I came to Australia – basically red champagne. Yummy!

Lulu our puppy of 5-1/2 months old and Spot our 2 year old are with us on this trip and they are enjoying their time being with us. The dogs have their little beds in the back of the car and they just slept the night away barely noticing us. Our rental has a fenced backyard and they are happy and healthy.

The sunset tonight was a beautiful pink and the dirt is starting to look redder, as we get into the desert more it will become the bright red that we know the Outback to be, I’m looking forward to that. We’re seeing big terrain changes from dirt and small puffy shrubs to small red flowers cluttering the ground in large patches, they catch your eye as you drive by. They’re really pretty. Day 2 we’ve driven out toward Coober Pedy but stopped short of town to camp for the night. We pull in at 5.30 before sunset to set up our camp. I’m not much help but somehow the tent goes up and the double cell inflatable bed (I’m dreaming of sleep right now, it’s been a long day). Camp stove and iPod going and we’re on our way. I love camping, there’s something about sitting outside looking at the stars that make me feel all warm inside. It’s about 70F degrees at 7:15 p.m., it feels beautiful outside, perfect for camping.

I’m sitting here, watching to dogs run around, listening to a 400 song loop (Lincoln Park is playing currently – Rod is lip syncing), it’s starting to get colder and tonight it’s probably going to be freezing, I’m having flashbacks to Wolf Creek (if you haven’t seen it, it’s about some friends that get kidnapped hitchhiking on this same road in the Outback – it’s a scary flick – a rental for sure). The stars are so beautiful, turn off all the lights and looking up into the sky you can see every star in the sky. It’s a very clear night so it’s a fantastic sight. It’s so different seeing the stars in an open sky – no nearby buildings to impede on the view. It reminds me of my first telescope. I got it for Christmas from Santa and I think my Dad was more excited about it than me. My Dad WAS Santa, in case you didn’t know, it’s obviously a part-time job. We loved that telescope; I have lots of fond memories of my Dad and my childhood. I’m happy about that.

Day 3 we headed north toward Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy is a well-known Opal mining town much of which is underground. I’ve always wanted to see Coober Pedy it’s always sounded appealing, living in an underground town – apparently it gets hot in Coober Pedy. On the day we were there it was about 33C degrees (90F). The place is a complete dust bowl, no foliage and because it is a mining town as you come in and out of town you see piles and piles of red dirt. The Opals are beautiful but at the expense of the land in the area. I can see that they don’t worry about putting the dirt back in the ground. The dust and tumbleweed in this town made it a crazy stop. Not at all what I thought it was going to be. I imagined that it was a place to visit, but it is clearly just a rest stop on a very long trip up the middle to Ayres Rock (Uluru) and Alice Springs. I’ve been trying to take some pictures but until I get a lesson from my photographer friend Amy, I’m hopeless with ISO and all those other acronyms.

Tonight we’re off to see the sunset view of Ayres Rock (Uluru), and tomorrow we will go there during the day as well as The Olgas, another nearby rock formation.  Then we are off to Alice Springs for two days – in a hotel thank gawd – to see the Devils Marbles.  Hope you enjoy the pictures.  More to come in the next few days.

Wed
17
Aug '11

Road Trip to Ayers Rock (Uluru), in Central Australia

A quick update: We finally have our itinerary

Check back here for pictures and video during our adventure through the Outback. I’m really looking forward to this trip and seeing the sights of the red dessert.  I’ve never been to the Outback so this is very exciting.  And we can have our fur babies with us to enjoy being out on the land.  I’m hoping to do some combination camping and staying in hotels that can accommodate the dogs. 

Central Australia Trip

Day 1
Depart CBD 5pm
Drive to Horsham (298km)

Day 2
Depart Horsham at 7am
Drive to Clare SA (543km)
Visit local wineries

Day 3
Depart Clare at 9am
Drive to Coober Pedy SA (734km)

Day 4
Day in Coober Pedy

Day 5
Depart Coober Pedy at 8am
Drive to Yulara NT (735km)

Day 6
Day at Yulara, Ayers Rock, The Olgas, Mt Conner

Day 7
Depart Yulara at 7am
Drive to Alice Springs via King Canyon (631km)
Visit Kings Canyon

Day 8
Day at Alice Springs
Drive to Devils Marbles (100km)
Drive to Tennant Creek (80km)
Drive back to Alice Springs (180km)

Day 9
Depart Alice Springs 8am
Drive to Coober Pedy SA (688km)

Day 10
Depart Coober Pedy at 8am
Drive to Gawler SA (846km)

Day 11
Depart Gawler 9am
Visit Barossa Valley wineries
Drive Home (805km)

Well, we’ve been talking about this for a while and now we’ve decided to pack up the dogs, get a house sitter and head out on the road for our first ever “road trip”.  We’re going to spend 10-days on the road and see some of Central Australia’s beautiful country side in a trip to see the wine country of South Australia, then up to the underground town, and opal mines of Coober Pedy, and last but not least up to Uluru also world with the majority of gem quality opal.

South Australia Wine Country (Wine Tasting) – Barrossa Valley

The Barossa Valley is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions. Located in South Australia, the Barossa Valley is about 56km (35 miles) northeast of the city of Adelaide. Unlike most of Australia whose wine industry was heavily influenced by the British, the wine industry of the Barossa Valley was founded by German settlers fleeing persecution from the Prussian province of Silesia (in what is now modern day Poland).

The hot continental climate of the region promoted the production of very ripe grapes that was the linchpin of the early Australian fortified wine industry. As the modern Australian wine industry shifted towards red table wines (particularly those made by the prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon) in the mid-20th century, the Barossa Valley fell out of favor due to its reputation for being largely a Shiraz producers whose grapes were destined for blending. During this period the name “Barossa Valley” rarely appeared on wine labels. In the 1980s, the emergence of several boutique family specializing in old vine Shiraz wines began to capture international attention for the distinctive style of Barossa Shiraz, a full bodied red wine with rich chocolate and spice notes. This led to a renaissance in the Barossa which catapulted the region to the forefront of the Australian wine industry.

Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy today relies as much on tourism as the opal mining industry to provide the community with employment and sustainability. Coober Pedy has evolved in to one of the most unique places in Australia and perhaps the world. It is a cosmopolitan town with a population of 3,500 and over 45 different nationalities.

The relaxed and friendly lifestyle of the town has made it a breeding ground for cultural tolerance, diversity and acceptance. Coober Pedy is probably best known for its unique style of underground living.

There is a range of underground accommodation (as well as above ground if you prefer). There are authentic underground homes to explore as well as underground museums, opal shops, art galleries, underground churches and, of course, opal mines.

Ayres Rock (Uluru)

Uluru ( /u:lu:’ru:/), also known as Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia. It lies 335 km (208 mi) south west of the nearest large town, Alice Springs; 450 km (280 mi) by road. Kata Tjuta and Uluru are the two major features of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Uluru is sacred to the Ajangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. The area around the formation is home to a plethora of springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings. Uluru is listed as a World Heritage Site.

Uluru is one of Australia’s most recognisable natural landmarks. The sandstone formation stands 348 m (1,142 ft) high (rising 863 m/2,831 ft above sea level), with most of its bulk lying underground, and has a total circumference of 9.4 km (5.8 mi). Both Uluru and the nearby Kata Tjuta formation have great cultural significance for the Aṉangu people, the traditional inhabitants of the area, who lead walking tours to inform visitors about the local flora and fauna, bush foods and the Aboriginal dreamtime stories of the area.

Kata Tjuta National Park (Olgas)

Kata Tjuta, sometimes written Tjuta (Kata Joota), and also known as Mount Olga (or colloquially as The Olgas), are a group of large domed rock formations or bornhardts located about 365 km (227 mi) southwest of Alice Springs, in the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia. Uluru, 25 km (16 mi) to the east, and Kata Tjuta form the two major landmarks within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The 36 domes, covering an area of 21.68 km2 (8.37 sq mi), are composed of conglomerate, a sedimentary rock consisting of cobbles and boulders of varying rock types including granite and basalt, cemented by a matrix of sandstone. The highest point, Mount Olga, is 1,066 m (3,497 ft) above sea level, or approximately 546 m (1,791 ft) above the surrounding plain (198 m (650 ft) higher than Uluru). Kata Tjuta is located at the eastern end of the Docker River Road.

Alice Springs

Alice Springs is the second largest town (sometimes incorrectly referred to as a city) in the Northern Territory of Australia. Popularly known as “the Alice” or simply “Alice”, Alice Springs is situated in the geographic centre of Australia near the southern border of the Northern Territory.

The site is known as Mparntwe to its original inhabitants, the Arrernte, who have lived in the Central Australian desert in and around what is now Alice Springs for thousands of years. Alice Springs has a population of 27,481 people, which makes up 12 percent of the territory’s population Alice averages 576 meters (1,890 ft) above sea level; the town is nearly equidistant from Adelaide and Darwin.

The town of Alice Springs straddles the usually dry Todd River on the northern side of the MacDonnell Ranges. The region where Alice Springs is located is known as Central Australia, or the Red Centre, and is an arid environment consisting of several different deserts. In Alice Springs, temperatures can vary dramatically with an average maximum temperature in summer of 35.6 °C (96.1 °F), and an average minimum temperature in winter of 5.1 °C (41.2 °F).

Kings Canyon, Northern Territory

The walls of Kings Canyon are over 300 metres high, with Kings Creek at the bottom. Part of the gorge is a sacred Aboriginal site and visitors are discouraged from walking off the walking tracks.

Two walks exists at Kings Canyon. The 2 km (return) and approximately 1 hour Kings Creek Walk traces the bottom of the gorge. At the end of the walk is a platform, with views of the canyon walls above. The 6 km (loop) and 3-4 hour Kings Canyon Rim Walk traces the top of the canyon. A steep climb at the beginning of the walk, which locals call “Heartbreak Hill” (or “Heart Attack Hill”, due to its steepness), takes visitors up to the top, with spectacular views of the gorge below and of the surrounding landscape. About half way during the walk, a detour descends to Garden of Eden, a permanent waterhole surrounded by lush plant life. The last half of the walk passes through a large maze of weathered sandstone domes, reminiscent of the Bungle Bungle. A slow descent brings the visitor back to the starting point. The loop can also be done in reverse (anti-clockwise), but the National Park Rangers encourage visitors to walk in one direction.

So, I’m already ready to go!  Stay tuned and follow along on our trip as we make our way across Central Australia.

Mon
25
Apr '11

Our last week in Thailand: Karon Beach

We spent the last 5 days of our holiday in Thailand this year at the Old Phuket Hotel on Karon Beach, Phuket.  We had a bit of different scenery with the different beach and we ended up doing some different things.  We went for an early morning snorkel at Kata Beach with our new gear and had a great time swimming around, looking at and feeding bread to the fish.  It was definitely a fun experience and not as invasive as getting on a packed speed boat with not enough seats to drive for an hour to a quote, good snorkelling spot, unquote.  We saw all the same fish just walking in off the main beach and snorkelling near our hotel.

   

Our five year anniversary fell on this trip, the 29th of April. Yes, we’ve been married for five whole years!  I can believe it, even if you can’t.  We decided to take a private cooking class with a Thai chef at her home.  We made some lovely dishes and I finally learned how to make (and roll) spring rolls… yum! 

It was a fun experience.  We’ve always tried to do cooking classes when we travel and especially when we are in Asia for our annual holiday. 

I hope that when we take our next trip… hopefully Europe, we will continue to do the same.  Birdie is such a great cook and he learns so fast.  He’s definitely the cook of our family.

The Old Phuket Hotel was located off the beach with a good amount of restaurants and shops lining the main road up to the entrance of the hotel.  We ate there mostly.  There was a night market, and a tailor where Birdie got a couple suits made (looking flash!), and this was the winding down part of our trip. 

We did take a snorkelling trip during our holiday but the pictures are stuck on my underwater camera and I haven’t been able to develop them yet. I’ll post pictures as soon as they are ready.  I’m hoping they turn out good!

Check out the photo album here: Thailand 2011 – Photo Album, Anniversary Cooking Class

Fri
22
Apr '11

Stopover at Cape Panwa

We finished up our 7 days in Phuket town, Patong Beach and now we’ve arrived at Cape Panwa about :45 min north up the coast.  Cape Panwa has a very beautiful and secluded beach, we’re staying in serviced apartments so we have little one bedroom apartments with kitchettes and washing machines, it’s a nice change from a hotel room.  Place to have a meal, lounge room, deck, we room to hang out and play cards, or just hang out.  There’s not much in the way of shops here but there are some good restaurants and everything is near the beach.

Were here at Cape Panwa for just a quick 4-day stopover to relax a bit before we head back toward Phuket town to the Kathu Beach area.  The serviced apartments are very nice, they have character and function which is what we needed mid-trip.

   

Our last five days will be in Kathu Beach where we plan to do a Cooking Class.  Many of you that know Birdie is a lover of his chef-ery duties and learning how to make authentic Thai dishes is something he reallly loves.  On our last trip to Thailand we visited Koh Samui and the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts and learned to make a beautiful red curry with Chicken.  Anyone that is thinking to heading off to the Island of Samui can get a list of great things to see and do there, we’ve been there twice and I love it.  Unfortunately just a week or so before this trip Samui was hit with flash flood so we were unable to go.  This time around I am looking to learn how to make spring rolls (egg rolls for you Americans), the rolling part is always a problem for me.  And possibly a green curry with prawns.

Tomorrow we’re booked in for snorkeling at Raya & Coral Island, we will get there by speedboat and spend the day travelling to a couple different islands for snorkeling with a stop over for lunch at Patek Bay.  Check back for more pictures of our snorkeling excursion.

Check out the photo album here: Thailand 2011 – Photo Album

Wed
13
Apr '11

Thai Adventures

It’s always my favourite holiday destination, we have been every year since we’ve been married and this year is no exceptions. We’re taking our bestest couple friends with us this time and are going to enjoy the relaxing tropical holiday together. We’ll be visiting Patong and Kata Beach in Phuket, Thailand, as well as a quick stop over in Bangkok on the way home. Personally I’m looking forward to the food, the massage, and the water! We’ve got our favourite housesitter so Mr. Spot is looked after and we are on our way out tomorrow afternoon!

Our itinerary:

14 Apr – Melbourne to Phuket
15 Apr – The Kee Resort and Spa, Kathu Beach
21 Apr – Kantary Bay Hotel, Cape Panwa
25 Apr – The Old Phuket Hotel, Karon Beach
30 Apr – TBC – Bangkok
1 May – Bangkok to Melbourne

I have marked the map in red showing the beaches that we will be staying at on this trip.  We will also venture out to some islands while we are there on day trips, the islands are called Koh or Ko (meaning “island” in Thai).  We’re trying some new hotels this time and we aren’t venturing too far from Phuket on this trip.  We want our friends to be able to experience the night life of Phuket and the shopping!! 

Our regular destination is Koh Samui but just a couple weeks ago they had flash floods and we have heard that the entire town was under water for some time.  I am hoping to do some snorkelling as I am still not allowed to scuba with my Wegner’s looming in my lungs – maybe next time I will be strong enough to go back for some scuba as it is something I love very much.

Stay tuned to the blog for pictures from our trip –  I will be blogging at least once a week while we are away.

Mon
31
Jan '11

The Heart of the Big Apple

It’s certainly the place to be.  Birdie and I have both been to NYC on separate occasions and we have talked about, in our retirement, to live in NYC for some months and explore.  It’s one of my favourites U.S. cities and a place I’ve travelled to on my own on 4-5 occasions.  There’s something to be said for travelling on your own.  You get to see what you want and you don’t have to compromise with anyone about what you will and won’t do. 

But, we mapped out the major things we wanted to do before we got there and on our list of top things to do was:

– New Year’s Eve in Times Square
– The Empire State Building (always a fantastic view)
– Take in a show on Broadway
– Visit the 9/11 Memorial or site of the World Trade Center, and
– Eat our way around the neighbourhoods of New York

Overall, we had a blast.  Our hotel was between Soho and Chinatown so we had some good food and sights.  We travelled on the subway to make our way around.  At Christmas there was a huge blizzard and the snow fell, just days before we arrived, about knee deep or higher.  I wasn’t expecting the snow like it was but I think that made it more fun.  We purchased our Colombia boots before we arrived and packed the heavy coats – we made the best of it.  I think that in later days we would be incredibly lucky to get to live in NYC for a short time and really experience the life t  here.

        

Taking in the eats, the sights, and getting around New York City as much as possible – I was able to talk Birdie into seeing two Broadway musicals with me.  He hates musicals but I think he enjoyed the two I picked.  First we saw Elf, a take-off from the movie version.  It was cute and fun and had some great sing-alongs.  The following day we saw Rock of Ages – definitely up Birdie’s alley, he loved the rock songs and the rock-n-roll theme!  We had a great time and great seats for this one. 

Our new years eve was a private table at a bar at Times Square.  The ball dropped and we walked out front to watch.  Let’s put it this way, I can barely remember the event itself.

I was lucky enough to get to visit with an old childhood friend.  Karina used to live across the street from me in Spring, Texas – where my family lived for approximately 8 or so years.  Karina was the youngest of three, her sister and I are the same age and Karina tagged around with us a lot as kids.  It’s amazing after 30 years to see people you grew up with and how they turned out.  Lovely as ever, we had an amazing dinner with Karina at a little Italian place with excellent homemade fixings.  A good catch up session, it made me want to visit with her sister, and still my friend Ali (er, Alex).

       

Rod arranged to take me on a handsome carriage ride in Central Park and because of all the snow,

it was so beautiful… and cold and buggery.  I’ve taped a you tube video for you to see our journey through the park and the sights. Our guide showed us some cultural sights like where Madonna lives, and the fountain from Friends, we stopped at Tavern on the Green (which wasn’t green at all), and we finished off the day with a beautiful lunch at the Brooklyn Diner across from the Carnigie Hall. It’s so awesome to see all these places, some for the very first time. And it was a lovely finish to our trip to New York and I can’t wait to go back again someday soon. Here’s a couple snaps from our ride and the sights in Central Park with the beautiful snow.

   

On the way home the airline lost our bag and our passports were inside.  I’ll have to say that I am so thankful that we were lucky enough to get our bag back the day before our international flight back to Melbourne and had our passports in hand.

We stopped back in Sacramento to see my Mother before we headed back home; it was an eventful trip and lots of fun.  I had a great time and can’t wait for our next trip to the States.  We’re thinking next time… Chicago!

Sun
21
Nov '10

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Sun
10
Oct '10

Our trip home 2010

Well it’s been a long year, actually two years.  With my illness, followed by my Mother being sick it’s been terrible being away from my family and friends at home.  We’ve decided to make the trek home for Christmas this year to spend time with my Mom and do a wee bit of travelling.  We are unable to do much visiting this trip, which we seem to do when we come… we travel all this way from Australia to the U.S. only to spend every waking moment driving all over heaven and earth to see everyone.  This time if you want to see us, you’ll have to come to Sacramento.  We are going to spend 2-weeks at my Mom’s house, to see her and spend time with her.  So I hope to see you and that you’ll be able to catch up and see us.

new-york.jpgRod has been getting excited about seeing the Sacramento Kings (his favourite), so we have already purchased tickets for several games.  We’ll spend 1-2 days in Chico where I was living before I moved to Australia, to see my old band mates and friends.  Other than that we will be homebodies, enjoying the Christmas hoildays with Mom, Adam, and Lavette & Gramma.  Our last week is a long planned visit to New York City, where we will be for New Years Eve… catch a broadway show, enjoy the sights, and probably the snow.  We’ve definitely been looking forward to a visit to NYC for a few years now.

This trip might be the last for a couple years, we’ll be starting our IVF in late January after the return from the trip – so I doubt we will be able to travel much during that time.  I hope to catch up if you have time, and look forward to seeing anyone that can spare the time to visit.  We miss everyone, but especially my little family at home.

My health is starting to plateau, and things are looking good so far.  I’ve tried to rid as much stress from my life as humanly possible.  Still seeing what seems like a billion doctors, I have now moved on to specialists in the area of Wegners – including my IVF doctor which has two other Wegners patients, one of which is pregnant right now.  Even at 40, and with no eggs myself, all my doctors believe I have a great chance of succeeding with a pregnancy now.  All green lights at this stage, my diabetes is very well managed, we have a donor egg, and we are ready to hit the ground running!  Fingers crossed everyone, at this age I’m gonna need it!

More details to come…

Sat
8
May '10

Last day of our holiday…

Day 21 of 22

Today was our last day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  It is really a great city and if you can pass through here on your way through Asia – you have to do it.  A 1st-World country, Malaysia is full of wonderful sights, excellent shopping, warm people and beautiful restaurants. It was the perfect place for our last stop!

dsc04981.JPGWe checked out the Petronis Twin Towers today.  We had done our research and found out that they give out 1000 tickets to go up to the sky deck each day (which is the platform that connects the two towers). 

They open at 8.30 am but the line actually starts forming around 6:30 am.  Its first come first serve and the tickets are free so if you get in line and want 100 tickets, you get 100 tickets.  Once they are all sold out, that’s it for the day.  Weird.  Why not sell tickets and have people go up in groups of 50 or something?! 

Anyway we set the alarm for 6.30 thinking we’ll get there at 7am and get in line, wait for 1-1/2 hours and get a good time slot for the day.  Alarm goes off, we quietly debate getting up and decide it’s just not worth it, and fall back asleep until 8.00am. 

We showed up at the towers at about 9.30 and of course the line was long, and they were already almost sold out.  Many would end up leaving with no tickets after standing in line for hours.

“Luckily” I say “there is a very nice mall under the towers, and we’ll just have to go there”.  We also caught another film today ‘Kick Ass’ and had a yummy lunch which included a couple Gold Mango Margaritas!

dsc04980.JPG dsc04982.JPG

And we did finish off our day of shopping there, and back at the other mall “The Pavillion”.  Birdie finally found things he wanted, a new work bag, some shirts, sunglasses, new flip-flops (thongs, you silly Australians) and some PS3 games. At the end he is happy that he got some things for himself and not just all for me.  I won’t tell you what I got for myself but, let’s just say it was a spree. 

Let’s recap the money conversion:

$1 AUD = $ .92 USD (US Dollar) = use as reference for my U.S. friends

$1 AUD = 29 THB (Thai Bhat) – @ 7-11 in Thailand a Cokes is 14 THB (.47 AUD)
$1 AUD = 17,500 VND (Viet Dong) – @ 7-11 in Vietnam a Coke is 6,000 VND (.35 AUD)
$1 AUD = 2.9 RM (Malaysian Ringget) – @ 7-11 in Malaysia a Coke is 1.8 RM (.63 AUD)

In Australia @ 7-11 a Coke costs $2 AUD

Going Home

I’m so happy to get home and see my furry children Spotty, and Mr “P”.  They have been looked after by our lovely house-sitters.  Only one more day kids and we’ll be home.  Can’t wait to get back to work with my friends and to show off all my new goodies 😉

Hope everyone enjoyed my blog this holiday.  We’re planning our next trip already for a short 4-day weekend at the Great Barrier Reef before the Christmas Holidays. 

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Fri
7
May '10

Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia

Day 20 of 22

dsc04964.JPGWe are only here for 3 nights, so it’s going to be a quick in-and-out.  We are here purely for shopping and some quick sight seeing in the big and beautiful Aesan City.  Day one was purely shopping and visiting all of the shopping centers on the Golden Triangle, located in the area of our hotel, and walking distance for us. 

We’re in an excellent location and our hotel, is an older one but is very nice and has a great character.  I’d definitely recommend Dorestt Regency when you are in KL – great central location and excellent hotel for the money.

Our shopping spree today was mostly one-sided, I came out the winner today as Birdie was just unlucky finding exactaly what he wanted.  We ended up finishing up our day going to see Iron Man 2 at the cinema, and then went for dinner at a Mexican Cantina (which was pretty good).  We noticed that there were so many restaurants in the Pavillion Shopping Centre area – we’re looking forward to trying out something different for lunch and then again for dinner tomorrow.  As it got dark you could see the tips of the Petronas Towers lit up in the night, beautiful!

It’s my hope that Birdie finds what he’s looking for in our shop tomorrow. 

And we’re going sight seeing as well!  Check back tomorrow for more pictures.

Here are our shots from today:

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