Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

Ten of my favorite places on the trip

It was pretty hard to come up with this kind of list but I managed to squeeze it into my busy schedule.  There were definitely other wonderful places (Mae Salong-Thailand, Meung Ngoi-Laos, LiJiang-China) that just barely missed out on the list.

How many years would it have taken to discover all these places if we hadn’t went traveling for so long?

Here they are in chronological order (with a corresponding picture or two):

Koh Jam (Jum), Thailand-This island near Krabi doesn’t have full time electricity and is better off without it.  Great food and an amazing stretch of beach…think ‘quiet time’.

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Koh Jum sunset

Hongsa, Laos-It takes a while to get to dusty Hongsa and there isn’t a lot to do when you get there.  However, it is incredibly peaceful and you can ride an elephant along trails.

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Luang Prabang, Laos-Former colonial town that is a lot of fun to hang out in. Everyone in E Asia passes through Laos eventually.

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Kalaw, Myanmar-Off the beaten track in Burma where you can do hiking or just relax in the hill country.  One of the best bars in Asia (Hi Snack and Drink).  Great Nepali food.

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Hong Kong, China-Absolutely beautiful yet gritty.  Incredible food and excellent shopping.  One of my top 5 cities in the world. 

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Songpan, ChinaOne of the few small towns in China.  Horse trek in the gorgeous Sichuan Province and rest up afterwards at the fun tea houses.

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Wolong, ChinaFreaking Pandas man!  Everyone loves Pandas! 

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One year old Panda

Francie, shifu Wong and shuo yi

Outside of Lhasa, Tibet-Definitely in the running for most stunningly beautiful place on earth. 

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Gili Trawangan (Lombok), Indonesia-Incredible atmosphere with no cars on the small, beautiful island.  Incredible snorkeling right off the beach and a vibrant nightlife.

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Kaikoura, New ZealandThe beautiful coast and unbelievable plush hills were actually remarkable topped off with a small town and lots of seafood.  Seals, whales, dolphins and sheep–oh my!

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November 7, 2007 Posted by | Beach, burma, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, New Zealand, SE Asia, Sichuan, Thailand, Tibet, Travel, Wolong | 11 Comments

Francie’s last set of photos

Francie just got her last set of photos developed and I think they are really fantastic (but maybe I am biased).  It includes pictures from Tibet, Bangkok, Indonesia, and New Zealand.  Below is a subset of the pictures or click here to see all of them. 

Boy in Tibet. He brought the horses on Francie’s horse trek.
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I like to call this one ‘Baby with tin can’. Tibet
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This woman was trying out the binoculars. Unfortunately, we think she was trying to focus on the rock a few feet away from her (at the right of the pic).
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Man prostrating himself in the Barkhor in Tibet.
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Kids taking care of business in Lhasa.
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We think this munchkin was in Bangkok. Francie loves the dogs and they love her.
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Three year old elephant in Ayutthaya, Thailand. While you may not love the fact that he is being taught tricks, keep in mind that his previous job was/would have been in the lumber industry (Thailand ‘freed’ all the elephants from doing manual labor). Regardless, it is a pretty damn cute picture.
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Gili Islands (Lombok), Indonesia
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This is definitely the best picture we have of Rinjani. We are standing on the volcano’s outer cone looking down on the inner volcanic cone.
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Francie and I at the Rinjani Volcano.
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These two pictures are of the large Dusky Dolphin pod (at least 200 dolphins) that showed up when we were whale watching.
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We still have a few Burma and China videos to post.  Does anyone know some good software that rotates MOV videos (I was holding the camera sideways).

November 4, 2007 Posted by | Bangkok, Beach, China, Indonesia, Nature, New Zealand, Photography, Rural, Thailand, Tibet, Travel, Wildlife | 4 Comments

New Zealand Videos

Here is a video of a Sperm whale breathing on the surface off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand. 

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Here is a video of Dusky dolphins swimming around our whale watching boat.  There were about 200 dolphins in this pod and they were happy to see us.

Dolphin Video

November 4, 2007 Posted by | Nature, New Zealand, Travel, Wildlife | 1 Comment

Sheepshearing Show (say that 10 times fast)

Francie and I went to a sheapshearing show in Kaikoura before we left.  Not only did they shear their sheep but they also shared their sheep for the benefit of our education and enjoyment. 

We learned many facts that I will call out along the way.

Of course, Francie was thrilled by Act 1.  Feeding a little lamb.  This was not a ‘white as snow’ lamb but a rare black lamb (1.5 months old).  Fact 1: Black sheep are very rare.  One in a thousand–they just appear automagically from somewhere way up the gene ancestory.  Very interesting.

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Fact 2: While this little lamb probably won’t be sent to its death any time soon–90% of all lambs in New Zealand are slaughtered for food (this number has gone up as the price of wool has gone down). Very old sheep are turned into mutton.

Act 2: Ram-Man 

Peter, the sheep shearing guy, brought out the older Ram-man. This beautiful ram was incredibly calm and fun to interact with–he let us hand feed him. Actually, he refused to eat from some people and Peter said–‘he just doesn’t like some people’. Here is Ramman.

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Of course he liked Francie.

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Act 3: Sheep Shearing Show

Then we got to the actual sheep shearing part of the show. Peter’s family has sold most of their land because the price of wool has dropped so much (due to synthetic fabrics) and he just keeps enough sheep to do two sheep shearing shows a day. These sheep regrow their coat in six months (Fact 3). Fact 4: Most of their wool is worth 3 NZ dollars per Kilo. Some other types of sheep have wool worth 10 NZ dollars per kilo. Fact 5: sheep are kept indoors at night so they don’t get too cold.

I know this may look painful but, strangely enough, the sheep didnt seem to mind too much.

The Gotcha shot
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The shearing shot.
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Fact 6: Professional sheep shearers can do a sheep in 33 seconds.

“Can I go now?”
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Fact 7: Lanolin oil is pressed from the wool to make various products.

There were more facts but I think that is all your mind can handle right now.

Go back to work.

October 17, 2007 Posted by | New Zealand, Rural, Travel, Wildlife | 4 Comments

NZ travel post “i can has cheezburger” style

Invisible zipline

October 17, 2007 Posted by | New Zealand, Photography, Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

How to spin a dog in a circle

1.  Obtain a wooden board at least 12″x6″ in size.

2.  Insert dog’s teeth (both top and bottom) into board.

3.  Pull on board until dog starts making “Grrrr” noises.  (note: if dog does not start making “grrr” noises and/or lets go of the board, dog may not be suitable for spinning in a circle).

4.  Holding board out in front of you, spin in place, slowly increasing speed until centrifigal force lifts dog completely off the ground. 

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October 17, 2007 Posted by | Misc, New Zealand, Pets, Photography, Travel | 1 Comment

More animal dreams!!!

This afternoon, as Greg & I were about to leave Marahau after our day of sea kayaking, we ran into a local who was taking his 2 Clydesdales for a stroll.  I stopped to admire the beautiful animals and he said, hey, hop on, I’ll take your picture!  And guess what happened next?  OMG, I rode a Clydesdale horse!!!  That’s another childhood dream I can check off the list… 🙂

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Riding Clydesdale = maniacal happiness, according to this photo.

The horseman didn’t want Greg to feel left out, so while I trotted along, Greg rode in the carriage:

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A totally awesome day!!!

October 17, 2007 Posted by | New Zealand, Pets, Photography, Rural, Travel | 1 Comment

Whales, dolphins and sheep! Oh, My!

We are in Kaikoura, New Zealand and it is very, very beautiful.  There are lots of fun things to do here like whale watching, snorkeling with dolphins, watching some sheepshearing, hiking and just hanging out.

This is what the main street looks like-sleepy! Look at all that available parking!

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We decided to spend some of our precious remaining time to try and see a sperm whale.  We ran into the writer of the Rough Guide and he had went whale watching the day before and apparently the only thing to watch was the third of the boat that had sea sickness. 

Fortunately, we were lucky and had a beautiful, calm day where we saw two sperm whales. 

Here is a picture of the other Whale Watching boat close to the Sperm whale.  The whale hung out there for about 15 minutes so I don’t think he minded our presence.

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Here is Francie helping the captain listen for whales!
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We were also really lucky because we also ran in (not literally, duh) to a pod of Dusky dolphins.  There were at least 200 of them having fun around the boats-jumping high in the air, racing with the boat and all that kind of ‘we’re happy’ stuff.

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After we got off the whale watching boat we did a short hike back to our motel.  We saw a lot of great terrain, sheep and seals.  Beware! Extremely pretty scenery ahead!

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This is the sheep section of the blog post!  Francie just found this great story on Shrek-a sheep somewhere near us that had hidden from the sheepshearers in a cave for six years and was finally caught.  Check out these amazing pics.

Here are several, non-Shrek, sheep.

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Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb. Mary had a little lamb and its fleece was not quite as white as snow.
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These sheep are rightfully frightened of Francie. I don’t blame them.
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October 13, 2007 Posted by | Nature, New Zealand, Travel, Wildlife | 1 Comment

Lazy seals

Yesterday we went to visit the local seal colonies in Kaikoura.  I was expecting to see woofing, fish catching, shuffling, swimming, etc. but all we got was a bunch of lazy seals!  No ambition, no drive, all napping all the time…  Gosh!

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October 13, 2007 Posted by | New Zealand, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | , , , , | 2 Comments

NZ sighting: The rare & elusive “Land Orca”

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October 13, 2007 Posted by | New Zealand, Photography, Travel | , , , | 1 Comment