Monday, November 15, 2010


Due to filming on the Hobbiton set, we are banned from discussing or posting photos on the Internet. I will say that it was a fun visit.

So instead, a photo of a lamb at the end of the Hobbiton tour (Hobbiton is located on a working farm). They also did a sheep shearing demonstration. It's crazy how much wool comes off a single sheep!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Franc Josef Glacier

Our final strenuous adventure... hiking a glacier! Donned some crampons and hiked up the glacier for several hours. Our guides used pick axes to carve stairs and footholds up the large waves of ice. Crawled into some blue ice caves. Definitely a unique and fun experience.

Chinese settlememt

A recreation of a Chinese settlement. The Chinese came in the mid 1800s to pan for gold. Due to discrimination during the gold rush, they created settlements isolated from the European settlers.

Wine tour

Enjoyed a tour of 4 vineyards near Queenstown. The area is known for Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blancs.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Nothing more serene and relaxing than fishing on Queenstown's pristine Lake Wakatipu. Caught two salmon and a brown trout. Two hours later had a local restaurant cook one of the salmon for the freshest fish lunch possible. Delicious!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Welcome to Paradise: Part II

Every country we have visited has left us awe-struck in such different ways, New Zealand being no exception. From the moment our airplane landed amid snow-capped mountains, we knew we were going to love it. And fall in love we have! We have spent one week in Fiordland on the west coast of NZ's south island. Queenstown and Te Anau are both small, lakeside towns that offer so many activities and loads of hiking!

We set out on the Milford Track, one of NZ's most popular Great Walks. It is a 4-day, 3-night hike to the Milford Sound and is approximately 33.5 miles. Being inexperienced hikers and generally people who aren't used to "roughing it," we weren't really sure what to expect. We bought and rented sleeping bags, rain gear, cooking equipment, food, trekking poles, etc. We stayed in huts for three nights with only freezing cold water and no heat. Since summer has yet to begin, it was still very cold up in the mountains! Nonetheless, it was all part of the experience and we had such a great time!

The hike itself was a big challenge, especially on the third day when it rained and rained. Fiordland is one of the wettest places in the world, and it can get up to nine meters of rainfall in a year. That day, it rained 30ml in about half a day. The ascent to McKinnon Pass was tiring and took our breath away, and the temperature quickly dropped once we were above the tree line and the wind became quite strong. We descended 1,000 meters in three hours using the emergency track due to avalanche danger. We passed a few areas of avalanche debris and had to walk through rushing waters to stay on track! At times, we could hear avalanches in the distance. That was definitely a first! Day four brought sunshine to our 11-mile end. Though it was easier than the previous day, it was still no walk in the park.

When we returned to our hotel in Te Anau, we had never been happier to see a hot shower and luxurious bed. Our muscles may ache, but we are so happy to have completed the track! We can check that off the list. Also, while the rain impeded our view from the top and made walking that much harder, it created the most beautiful cascading waterfalls we have ever seen. It would not have been a true experience on the Milford Track without the rain.

Of course, the Milford Sound and Fiordland are gorgeous and something straight out of a movie. Literally. It's been used in movies like The Lord of the Rings and X-Men. One day here and you can see why as it really is very special. We are so excited to continue exploring the west coast and to see glaciers!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Zealand

Picturesque Queenstown, a quaint town surrounded by mountains. The town is full of backpackers, trekking shops and restaurants. Can't wait to start our first multi-day tramp (aka hike) tomorrow!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Killer tree

This curtain fig tree started as a little plant on another tree's branch. Its roots slowly extended to the ground, at which point it strangled its host tree to death. The host tree rotted and the fig tree collapsed on another tree. The curtain are the roots of the fig tree.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Muggy Muggy Beach

Spent the early afternoon on a beach with no one in sight.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Fed the wallabies some weird duck/kangaroo pellet food. Their fur feels like a dog. Also hand fed a duck, which pecked me (not as fun). Fed and touched an emu, which was like petting gross wet hair.


Koala's are very soft, but have sharp nails. It was fun holding one!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Hard to see in the photo, but a bat hanging upside down in a tree. Wingspan on the bats are about 2-3 feet and you can see them flying around town.

Great Barrier Reef

Saw an amazing number of fish, both big and small. The coral was also colorful and of different shapes and sizes. Also saw 2 sea turtles!

Bush lunch

A delicious lunch of emu (tastes like steak), kangaroo (even more like steak) and crocodile (like chewy chicken) with a Cold beer.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thai cooking class

Photo: Papaya salad and green curry chicken. Also made egg noodles and banana fritters. On our way to becoming international chefs!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


A foot scrub on one of Phuket's finer beaches.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Welcome to Paradise

We have had a great week in Phuket, thanks in large part to the wonderful Indigo Pearl Resort. After nearly three weeks of intense travel and activity in China and Hong Kong, it almost felt wrong staying in one place and relaxing poolside. As you can see, though, we have embraced this life of luxury. Beautiful beaches, quiet pool areas, inexpensive massages and delicious food make the transition so much easier!

Elephant trekking

An elephant's back is surprisingly hairy. ..

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dinner by candlelight

Power outages are a regular occurrence. Steak dinner tasted great. I THINK the presentation was also excellent, but not too sure... we had to take turns looking at our food with the limited candlelight.

Welcome to Phuket

On our drive from the airport to the hotel, we ran into some sort of religious parade. The bamboo in the photo is going THROUGH his cheek.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

China recap

It was sad to say goodbye to our China tour group, since we became close with the leader and members.

Favorite experiences/memories:
- Great Wall
- Terracotta Warriors
- Biking through the countryside of Yangshuo
- relaxing in mudbaths and hot springs in a cavern
- trying exotic foods (chicken feet, duck neck, snake, pig tongue, fish eye, star fish)
- cooking lesson
- traditional Chinese food (especially Peking duck)
- meeting people from around the world

While we enjoyed our trip to China, we look forward to relaxing in Thailand!

Hong Kong

As seen from Victoria's Peak.

Basket carrying

Woman carrying fruits and vegetables.

Cooking lesson

We learned how to cook eggplant, pork dumplings and sweet and sour pork using a wok.


A scenic boat ride in Yangshuo.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Automatic mahjong

Played mahjong on our boat cruise using a machine which automatically shuffled and stacked the tiles. Very cool.

We attracted a Chinese crowd who helped us with our strategy.

Train snack 2

Duck neck and tongue actually turned out to be ok. It was slightly spicy and well flavored. But still little meat on the bones.

Train snack 1

Jen and I tried the massive chicken foot below. My first bite I got a toenail, which I quickly spat out. Not the beat thing we've eaten... mostly bone and fat.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Shanghai skyscraper

Standing on the glass floor of the world's highest observatory deck.

Terracotta warriors

Sleeper trains

66 beds per carriage, the sleeper trains are packed!

Street litter

Beijing and Shanghai tourist streets were mostly clean. However, in Xian someone apparently decided to discard a chewed pig's foot on the stairs.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Get your fried silk worm here!

Nathan and I walked along a "dinner market" in Beijing. It was exactly like the street food I've seen featured on travel shows! Such a variety of bizarre foods westerners would never consider eating- silk worms, scorpions, snakes and sea horses!

Peking duck

Best meal so far in China!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beijing Street Market

We walked along the famous food market in Beijing where you can find everything from sea horses to snakes to eat. Members of our tour group tried the silk worms and scorpions. I tried an arm of a starfish. Mid-chew a beggar signaled that we were eating it wrong. You're only supposed to eat the inside. I spat out the chewed up starfish and we gave the uneaten portion of the starfish to the beggar.

Whether the beggar was right or he was just tricking us so he could eat it, we don't know.

Olympic Bird's Nest

Forbidden City

Tiananmen Square

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Great Wall of China

Built by 700,000 people, the 5,000+ km wall is LONG. We took a sky lift like ride to the top of the mountain where the wall was located. Walked for 3 hours on the wall, climbing and descending thousands of stairs. Exhausting, but amazing!