Highlights of the trip
Meeting Scott, Tisha, Sophie and Isabella in Auckland New Zealand. They were so welcoming and months later still keeping in contact with me making sure I'm doing good. They are my Auckland family.
Meeting Nicole and Mike in Wellington, New Zealand. Tours and burlesque shows with these two! Fun outings for sure! I'll be seeing you in Portland when you come to visit again.
Meeting Kate and her beautiful children. She picked two strangers up from the ferry and welcomed us to the South Island! She took us to her vineyard where she had a the perfect vineyard picnic prepared for us. We got a tour and a later a ride into town to find our almost all German hostel for the night. But it didn't stop there! She showed back up in the morning to take us to breakfast and drop us off at a prime hitchhiking spot for our future destination of Nelson.
The Able Tasman hike was gorgeous! Alicia and I almost spontaneously stayed the night at building full of bunk beds on the beach during this hike.
My first couch surfing experience in Nelson, New Zealand and the many more to follow. It really wasn't bad at all. In fact it's fun and feels like a more mature way to travel then hostels!
Driving for the first time on the left side of the road. Not a planned experience but our couch surfing host and Alicia were both a bit to intoxicated to drive. I sobered our host right up when I came to a round about and looked the wrong way before pulling out into traffic. We were fine, I secretly knew what I was doing. ;)
Hitchhiking for the first time. Alicia and I hitched all of New Zealand and were lucky to have had a great experience with it, making friends and seeing places we hadn't planned on. Christchurch and Wanaka are 2 places we never intended to go to but did!
Meeting Shaun and Shelly.
Shaun picked us up just outside of Nelson and took Alicia and I all the way to Christchurch. Along the way (several hours) we shared great stories, snacked on trail mix, stopped at a wooded area to learn about bugs and tree bark, stopped along a grown over river bank and trekked thru it to get some good photos, and stopped at a beautiful maintained park for a roadside potluck dinner. Hard boiled eggs, salad with chickpeas, carrots, tomatoes and coffee (for people who drink that sorta thing). Arriving into Christchurch to late to check in to a hostel he let us stay the night and then a 2nd night with he and his wife. He too dropped us off at our next prime hitchhiking location but first tried to offer us his long underwear because I had a bad cough and there was a storm supposedly rolling in soon.
Ferg burger and bakery in Queenstown, South Island New Zealand. It supplied me with the best burgers I've ever tasted for lunch and dinner and introduced me to almond croissants for breakfast. All at really good prices!
The beauty of Queenstowns! It's breathtaking especially when the mountain tops are dusted in snow. It made me think of Switzerland even though I've never been there.
The fine hospitality of a dermatologist, James and his wife and daughter in Melbourne. They put us up for 2 nights in a hotel, treated us to nice dinners and showed us around on foot and in car. I just wanted to say hello and meet a good friend of my cousins and I received so much more. They did more then I ever expected.
Meeting Chapman and his girlfriend Bianca, from Texas at Sam's (couch surfing host) house was a highlight. They are 2 really stellar individuals and I hope I meet up with them again. They told me about the art show at the museum and we shared some good tales of travel and life.
The Melbourne art museum had an incredibly well curated show happening and sadly I didn't think to go to it until my last day in the city. Thankfully I gave it a full day! I think it was called "Melbourne now" and it was all Melbourne artists showing. The show was so big that it filled the entire 4 story art museum plus they took over 2 other massive museums near by. I only had time for one of the buildings. AND! This entire exhibit was FREE!
Chapman and Bianca found us at the end of our museum tour and said good bye to us before we had to leave for the airport.
Sam & Scott hosted us in Sydney. Scott was Alicia's friend of a friend and he agreed to host us. He and his roommate Sam picked us up from the airport and let us into their home for 2 nights. They invited me back if I needed a place at any time. Alicia had a friend coming to visit for 12 days and the guys thought it'd be nice to invite me back if I felt like I needed to give Alicia and her friend some time.
They made us feel right at home!
An incredibly delicious blended chai at a mall in Sydney. Sam, Alicia, Mitchell and I stopped in at a mall to get a coffee for Sam. He offered to buy me a drink and I asked for a blended chia. They had no idea what I was talking about. They had chia on the menu though. So with my former Starbucks knowledge I gave them a little description of what I was asking for. What they came up with was THE most tasty blended chai I've EVER had! I encouraged the baristas to try it and they couldn't even believe what they had made! They told me they'd put it on the menu, I hope they do.
A full workout day in Sydney is worth making the list. I love my workouts and traveling for an extended period of time makes me feel anxious for weights and cardio! Sam is a powerhouse lifting machine (my opinion, not his) and hits the gym daily, he also privately trains. However he was afraid, YES! Afraid to give Crossfit a try with me. One day he offered to drive to the beach house I was staying at (25 to 35min) away, pick me up and take me back to his gym to lift with him. I took the offer. I got some cardio in as well and then we went back to the beach and joined Alicia and Mitchell for dinner before meeting up with Katie and her friends for drinks. That's when Sam introduced me to a Strawberry cider. Yum! I limited myself to one and then another weeks later after the GBR dive. It's like soda when you drink it down. That's dangerous stuff, right there!
The Sydney beaches were beautiful and very picturesque. Bondi was a little to touristy for my taste by Brunty was gorgeous and where Katie lived. We stayed with her for 3 nights or so in her cute apartment one street back from the ocean. The ocean walking path was nice and made for a great morning running path.
Katie was a wonderful person who had just returned home from working in a yaht for several years. She was full of information and stories. She opened he home to us and introduced an Australian big breakky to me. I hope to see her again.
Meeting Shasta. A friend of a friend is what she started out as but turned out we had a lot in common! We are even from the same town back home, our homes a mile or so apart! I met her in Byrom Bay and love her free spirit! We traveled together later on, meeting up in Bali and separating in Thailand. We shared some great times is sickness, struggles, & unforgettable happiness.
The great... RV re location road trip with Sam and Alicia. Sam flew to Brisbane and helped Alicia and I complete the last several hours of driving an RV to Cairns. After the chaos of returning it we stayed in the most run down best western hotel I've ever seen (Sam thought it'd be better then a hostel, I disagree).
Diving the GBR with Alicia and Sam on a tour boat for the day. Mostly it was snorkeling and then we did an intro scuba dive. The intro dive is when I decided I should get my scuba cert in Thailand. It was incredible.
Meeting Alain & Michael. I met them at different times during my stay in Bali but they kind of go together. Alain I met on my first official day in Bali (silent day) and we were drawn to each other instantly as we were the only white people in the hotel. He's one of those up for anything guys who even likes to toss in a little shock factor when he can. He introduced Michael to me weeks later in UBud when we re connected. Michael is a fellow hard core CF'er as is Alain. I was Michael's first ever passenger on a scooter and he was scared! But he grew a lot in the 4 to 5 days of driving me around. The 3 of us paired with Shasta became the fantastic four on our last night in Bali.
The (German) Bali VW thing tour that our German friends talked us into doing with them. Where I got to ride in a VW thing for the first time and see some off the beaten path sights. Markets & temples that were far enough out tourists usually didn't go to them. We had an authentic Balinease lunch and I could have eaten 2 more helpings! And we ended the day with a visit to the monkey temple. My first encounter with wild monkeys. It started with one hissing at me which taught me real quick to respect their area. And ended with great photos and one of them climbing on my shoulders and sticking is hand down my shirt!
The Yoga barn yoga classes, organic cafe and Colon hydration session are memorable in my new age hippy way of life. I say that because there are a few out there who call me a hippy for my habits of trying to save the earth and sometimes the clothes I wear. I say new age because I think colon hydrotherapy qualifies as a new age hippy sorta thing.
Meeting Tom Lang who is a friend of a friend and gave me a better insight into the Balinese people. When I found myself struggling with some of the culture and the people he lifted my head and gave me a new way to look at them.
Lots of fresh organic foods and juices at less them half the price they'd be in the states! If only I could pocket up all those cafés and bring them home with me!
Hiking Mt. Batur volcano in Bali for sunrise with Alain and Shasta. It was a harder hike then I expected but amazing! The views from the top didn't fail our expectations. It was heaps of laughs and some strenuous climbing both up and back down. But it made the list of one of the best experiences.
A 14hr layover in Singapore where Shasta and I met a friend of one of my friends... Alexis. A French guy living and working there. He let us into his apartment for our stay, took us to the hawker center to eat and treated us to part of it. Showed us around as much of the city as he could in the short time frame and then off we went again. Such generosity.
Driving a scooter for my first time alone in Phuket had a little of that adrenaline rush to it. Need for speed! Especially since I was on the road with the rest of the crazy drivers of Thailand. My attire was awful (swim suite, sarong, & sandals but I chanced it, the not so smart thing to do. It was just to hot for better clothing.
Getting scuba certified was one of the best things Ive done and also one of the worst. It was hard and had me feeling a lot of mixed emotions but I powered through because it's something my dad has done and I wanted to be able to share that with him. And hopefully share a few scuba diving adventures with him in beautiful blue ocean waters. That is what I focused on to get me they the class.
My spontaneous Muay Thai fight on Ko phi phi in a real size ring but at a bar! I kicked a Sweden girls butt and it felt great to put her in her place for a brief moment. She was getting to much of an ego boost. Having strangers of both genders congratulate me after and give me money made me feel real good. Yeah I'm not always sweet and innocent, I definitely have some fight in me!
Awesome hostels! - Rock Solid (NZ), M Hostel (Bali), Pondock Inda (Bali homestay), Slumber Party (AoNang, Thailand.
Baan Khun hostel & tours was one I didn't even stay at but they treated me so good I can't NOT mention them. They have me free food and water, told me where and how I could save money and even let me stay a night for free (well that's depatable)
Cold showers in Bali and Thailand. I wanted to stand there all day with the cold water outing on me.
New foods in new country's even if I did get sick, it was worth it. It's not always because there is something wrong with the food that we get sick. Sometimes our stomachs just have a hard time adapting.
Couch surfing for the first time solo.
I split my time in Chiang Mai between 2 different hosts and experienced many different things because of it. I learned a lot from both parties regarding Thai culture and the ex-pat in Thailand way of life. Ralph, his wife Cat and her daughter Wine were my first hosts. They treated me good, fed me and brought me in as if I were family. However towards the end I felt it was time to switch a commissions. That's when Carol reached back out to me. I excepted her offer and she became my second host. I felt like she was an old friend the moment I met her. I highly recommend couch surfing.
Cooking school in Chiang Mai. I waited to long in my trip to try out a cooking school. I loved it. I wish I would have done one in Bali. Good foods and affordable cooking classes. Now I know and I'll look for them in my future travels.
Tiger Kingdom was a clean and well taken care of facility with friendly staff and trainers. The tigers were clearly not drugged just had a lot of human interaction. It was fun to get up close and personal with these animals.
Elephants at a rescue center not a for profit camp. I did a half day and I will definitely do a full day or maybe a 2 day or even a week long next time. It's worth it. They have a personality that shines thru the more you interact with them. Especially in the water.
The sound of thunder in SE Asia is like no other thunder I have heard before. It's like a whip cracking directly above my head. It's ear piercing yet exciting all at once as it hits with no warning and makes you jump.
Meeting a really cool "gypsy" couple from Utah at the mackro (costco/cash & carry store). Their names are Dee and James and they are currently traveling off a website they subscribe to where they house sit for people. They quickly adopted me in as part of their family.
Flying Emirates air to Dubai. The nicest plane I've ever flown on and the first time I've been on a plane with an upstairs in it. Fancy! It also had 2 entrances for boarding as the plane in incredibly long. I believe I read somewhere that it's the largest plane flying in commercial airways. They treat their coach customers (me) as if they were first class. We received a warm towel, full meal, and unlimited movies/ tv all complimentary. First class and business was upstairs. I can't imagine what kind of treatment they were receiving.
Going to Dubai. A place I have become very interested in, within the last 2 years. Somehow, luck of the draw I guess, I was supposed to go there. Just a little teaser trip but I got a pretty good taste without even leaving the airport. The people were friendly, I think the airport was 5 levels with a terminal train to connect buildings, a few big waterfalls, showed, a pool, gym, lots of eateries and shops and sleeping cubes. I even got a free meal ticket to eat in the airport
I'm sure I'm forgetting people I met along the way. If you are one of them, I apologize. It's been a fantastic 4 months and I met so many outstanding people. I'm currently in the airport running off of jet lag and to many cat naps so my brain isn't functioning at its best.
* more pictures to be added