Australia, Planning, Vacations

An Unexpected Upcoming Journey

Once we decide where we are going each year, the first thing I check is if we need any immunizations. For the most part, the shots aren’t really a big deal. However, when we had to get the Japanese Encephalitis vaccinations (multiple spread over a period of time) before the big Asia trip, I got a little sick each time. This immunization basically expires after two years, so my goal was to never have to get it again. Luckily Japan was high up on our list of travel destinations, so Japan it was.

I started my research and started to come up with a broad itinerary. I downloaded an app and every day I’d spend a bid of time trying to learn how to read Japanese. Of course I spent a lot of time on TripAdvisor, as well. Things were coming together until…

Hub found out he was going to speak at a conference in Sydney.

Now Australia was on the list, but it was not high on the list. It’s very far. But it would have been silly not to take advantage of the fact that we could combine work and vacation, meaning work would pay for a significant amount of expense. So Sydney it was/is.

Suddenly I had to start from square one with the research, and semi-quickly, because we were leaving in three months.

Did you guys know that a lot of things are trying to kill you in Australia? And speaking of that, don’t get me started on the crocodile stories. I made the mistake of doing some research, and now my Google news feed blesses me with any new horrifying crocodile stories that happen in Australia. Great!

But the more I researched it, the more excited I got. And all of the sudden, it’s next week. We will be on planes for over 24 hours. Whew. This will definitely be the furthest we’ve gone. I will try to take you along for the ride and hopefully share some of the amazing things I expect we’ll be seeing and doing (WiFi permitting).

So buckle up, people. We’re headed to the other side of the world.

Click here!

 

Sylvia's Stones, Vacations

Remembering Sylvia

I think in an old post I referenced Sylvia, but I never really explained how she’s part of our trips now. I know this is a travel journal, and not really all that personal, but as Sylvia is very much a part of our travels now I thought this post was overdue.

Exploring new destinations is so important and interesting to me, personally, that I love hearing about my friend’s trips or reading trip reports, etc. Not all people are like that, but my friend Sylvia definitely was. She used to love hearing about our trips in detail, and I loved reliving them with her.  When some friends and I (all from the US) visited Sylvia (in Canada) a few months after my trip to Africa, I was still high from the experience. Sylvia was basically a shut in at that point due to poor health, so one evening I asked if she wanted to see some videos we had taken on safari. The videos ranged from several seconds to several minutes, and there were over 70 of them. I had no idea we had so many, and I repeatedly told her we definitely didn’t have to watch them all. I thought it might be extremely boring, but she wanted to see them. We watched every single one and she truly enjoyed seeing the African terrain and marveled at the vibrant colors and the animals (especially the elephants).

Almost two months to the day after the visit Sylvia passed away. I truly struggled after that as I loved her dearly and she was the first close friend I had that passed away.  img_93276702323451657016472.jpg

I wanted to think of a way to keep Sylvia’s memory alive, and one day as I was looking around on Etsy I discovered these small marker stones that people get engraved to put on headstones, etc.. All of the sudden I knew exactly what we should do: get some stones made in Sylvia’s honor and start leaving them in the new places we traveled to.

img_20180525_1347432528280045699207948.jpgI wasn’t sure if it was crazy doing it, and to be honest I didn’t care. Sometimes it was tricky, sometimes it was teary, but it always felt right.

The first five stone placements can be found in the next post, or right here.

Sylvia's Stones, Vacations

Sylvia’s First Five Stones: France, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand & Vietnam

Stone 1 (France: Château d’Ussé)

We rented bikes and rode to the chateau that was said to have inspired the look of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle. It seemed the perfect place to put this first stone. We knew right away that putting the stone indoors would be wrong, plus we didn’t want to take a chance of someone finding it and throwing it away.

We wandered the grounds until we found a spot that was hidden away by a brick wall/doorway. The spot overlook the water and a quaint bridge, and was in the front of the castle. Sylvia definitely would have approved.

 

Stone 2 (Indonesia: Indian Ocean)

To date, stone 2 is the only one I asked for permission to place. We were on a diving/snorkeling trip and I wanted to make sure it was OK to leave a stone in the ocean and it wouldn’t be considered littering or whatnot. It was interesting trying to explain to my guide what I wanted to do, as English wasn’t his first language (although he spoke it quite well). He eventually understood, and on one snorkel when I said ‘how about next to that purple coral – she loved the color purple’ he explained that the coral would move away. He then suggested putting it in an anemone where fish already lived so it could be in an actual home. He said it wouldn’t hurt the anemone as it was just a rock. I loved the idea, so he dove under and placed it inside. Watching this video puts a smile on my face as I remember those clown fish that live there, too, and now they have a special rock representing a special lady. I think it would be a miracle if human eyes ever saw that one again.

 

Stone 3 (Singapore: Orchid Garden)

Singapore is the greenest big city I’ve ever been to. It’s spectacularly clean, with gorgeous parks, gardens, and green spaces. We went to the orchid garden and it blew our minds with the sheer volume and variety. I knew this was where the stone belonged. The problem was we didn’t want anyone to mess around with the stone, so we needed to hide it.  It was quite a busy area and because there were so many different turns and twists inside the garden, I doubt I could find this location again. I’m sure that the people who take care of the plants there could very well find this stone, but I’m hoping they leave it. A purple flower for Sylvia.

 

Stone 4 (Thailand: Private Island)

We were on a private island south of Phuket. No cars, no traffic, private pool, breathtaking views. Bliss. Such a peaceful spot deserved a stone, so we put it with the other stones around the pool, with the amazing water view. A beautiful place to rest.

 

Stone 5 (Vietnam: Rice Terrace)

Vietnam was somewhere I didn’t expect to like, but I fell in love with it. The people are kind and welcoming and the food is amazing (and I didn’t have Vietnamese food before the trip, so that was pretty lucky!). There were so many different spots that I could have left a stone, but the rice terraces with the beautiful views and amazing tiny village below was the spot of choice.

 

Planning, Vacations

Come Along For The Ride

We’ve finally gotten this blog together, and just in time! Our big trip begins in a week and a half to Asia. That’s very strange to see written out as I’ve been planning this trip for so long it’s hard to believe it’s finally here.

The Numbers

Countries:                                           4
Cities:                                                  15
Flights:                                                14
Longest Stay:                                     7 nights (only once)
Shortest Stay:                                    1 night (only once)
Hotels:                                                14
Overnight Boats:                              2
Length of Trip:                                  8.5 weeks

We will be updating as WiFi allows. I’ve read bad things about Bali WiFi, so you might not get any updates until we get to our second destination. I was thinking of listing out everywhere we are going, but it might be more fun for you to discover it as we are discovering the actual destination. So first up, Bali.

Are we insane for doing this, or is it the best decision we’ve ever made? Stay tuned!