Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

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).

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

More trip photos!

Francie uploaded some more of her pictures to Flickr and I wanted to post some here.  These are from the batch she got developed in Bangkok.  You can see all of them here.

Greg and the one year old Pandas.
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Camping in Tibet.
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5,300 meters up at a glacier in Tibet.
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Me jumping for joy that the hike is over!
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Kids playing in a park in XiÁn.
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Signs in Hong Kong.
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View of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon as we walk down from ‘The Peak’.
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Francie at the main square in Macau.
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Francie screwing around while on the clock at Wolong Panda Research Center.
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Cute Panda pic
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Dried fruits and nuts for sale in the Muslim Quarter–XiÁn, China. I found out that you can only eat so much dried pineapple.
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Two little girls at the Great Mosque in XiÁn, China.
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Slide no workie.
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Figures unearthed from a Tomb in XiÁn, China.
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What this Panda really wants is a Thomas the Train. Balls are boring. 😉
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Suggest your own caption
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Goats in Tibet
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I think I need a thicker coat!
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Ok.  Maybe we will post from Fiji!  Maybe we will just work on that tan!

October 20, 2007 Posted by | China, Hong Kong, Nature, Panda, Photography, Sichuan, Tibet, Travel, Urban, Wildlife, Wolong | 2 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

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

Climbing Gunung Rinjani

September 30th – October 2nd 2007, Greg, Randall, and I climbed up the Rim, down the crater, then up the opposite Rim of the active volcano Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia. The last eruption was 2004!

Practical info: We arranged the trek through Lightning Fast internet cafe on Gili Trawangan in Lombok. We paid 725,000 Rs a piece and this included transport to and from Rinjani, all meals and equipment (except clothing), and porter and guide for 3 days and two nights. From talking to some other travellers on the trail, this appears to be a really good price.

Day 1: We started the trek in the town of Sembalun, which is actually the opposite of most treks – usually you start in Senaru. We did it backwards so that we could arrive in Senaru early enough on the 3rd day to get back to Gili Trawangan that evening. It took us about 5.5 brutal hours of steep climbing to get to the first camp, just below the crater rim. A couple hours in we passed some other hikers who told us how tired they were and informed us that we still had “a REALLY LONG way to go”. Thanks! I really wish they hadn’t said that.

We have a long ways to go:
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Day 2: We could have woken up at 3am the next morning and climbed in the dark to the summit (the highest point on the crater rim) to watch the sun rise. That didn’t happen… instead Randall and I were woken up by our guides at 6am and we stumbled out of the tent and proceeded to hike for 1 hour on a very steep gravel trail in a delirious state to get to the crater rim. Greg stayed behind in the sleeping bag; what a smart man.

We were greeted by this troublemaker when we returned to camp. He stole part of my breakfast and a container of margarine! Just look at the evil gleam in his eyes:
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This is a view of the crater, the lake, and the smaller cone on the morning of day 2:
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You can see from this photo how steep the rim walls are. That is why my legs were severely sore (mostly from the downhill) for 3 full days after we finished the hike.

After eating breakfast under duress (i.e. threat of monkey invasion), we hiked down the crater to the lake and the nearby hot springs. We spent about 3 hours there hanging out. The hot springs were excellent and felt great. The only disappointing thing about the otherwise idyllic spot was the profusion of garbage all over the area, some of which appears to have been deposited there by travelers, not Indonesians. I think it’s really sad that people who should know better and who have every advantage of a thorough environmental education would choose to litter in a National park. Shame on you.

Here is the lakeside view, with Greg the explorer:
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A shot of the hotsprings, from above:
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Our lunch break was long enough for some of us to take naps:
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Following our leisurely break was a brutal 3+ hour scaling of the opposite crater rim and then a 45 minute steep decent to get to camp.

Day 3: The hike from the second rim down to the town of Senaru (our endpoint), was through some totally different scenery and foliage than the way up, which was mostly grasslands. It was jungly, more lush and green, and more humid:
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We saw some more Macaques (the trouble maker monkeys) and also a few of the rare Silvered Leaf monkeys (which are actually black) from a distance. The trail wasn’t quite as steep as the one on the opposite side. My legs were already so sore that I resorted to taking a Vicodin about halfway down. It served the double purpose of both taking away the pain and making me feel like a sparkling individual!

We arrived back in Senaru around 12:30 or so and were back on the beach at Gili Trawangan by 4pm.

The trek was amazing and beautiful, but the feature of it that stands out most in my mind at the moment (probably because today is the first day I haven’t been in pain) is what a physical beatdown it was. The trail was either very steep uphill or very steep downhill without much in between. It makes it all the more impressive that the guides and porters do this hike carrying about 60 pounds each, packed into baskets hung onto the ends of a larger bamboo stick, which they balance on their shoulder. Wow.

Another awesome hiking adventure. Hopefully we’ll have some more during our 10 days in New Zealand, starting Oct. 9th. 🙂

October 6, 2007 Posted by | Indonesia, Photography, Rural, SE Asia, Travel, Wildlife | 3 Comments

My busy day in Indonesia

We haven’t posted in a few days, not because we don’t want to, but because we’re on these small islands in Indonesia where it’s hard to get online, and when we do, it usually consists of 6 people sharing 1 dial-up connection.  But we persevered and finally the photos are updated on flickr so I can tell you about a recent day here on the beach!

 I started out the morning by borrowing a ferry from the Indonesian government and taking Greg and Randall out for a spin.  Here I am behind the wheel:

Francie driving the ferry

Next I decided to go surfing. I’ll have you know that the wave I’m riding is a lot bigger than it looks!

Francie Zurfing

After tiring myself out surfing I was looking for a more mellow activity, so I decided to go hunt around some tide-pools. I found some cool stuff, including this star fish:

Upside Down Starfish

After a few hours of staring at tide pools I had some energy again, so I put on snorkel gear and decided to help a local clean his glass bottomed boat. There were some hard to reach places on that thing!

Francie under the boat

The beach was so beautiful – I had to just lie in the sun for awhile. Meanwhile, Greg fell asleep while working on his tan:

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A late afternoon at the beach is best spent building things in the sand, so myself, greg, and randall made this lovely alligator, which is so good that it looks like maybe we didn’t really make it and someone with actual skill at building things out of sand did…

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To finish the day off right, we ate some fresh seafood and drank some reedeeculous cocktails. Here is a photo of Randall with his pina colada:

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And that was our day.  I wonder what I will do tomorrow?  You will find out soon!

September 27, 2007 Posted by | Indonesia, Photography, SE Asia, Travel | 1 Comment

New Photos

Some of my new photos are now up on Flickr.  I still have loads still to upload so stay tuned.  Here are a few favorites:

A Tibetan nomad:
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A serious Lhasa gang:
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Bruno!!!
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Young yak wearing earrings:
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Crocodile Dundee returns:
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Tibetan Nomad kids at Lake Nam-tso:
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Tibetan woman with her horse and foal:
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At Ganden Monastery, prayer flags and solar panels:
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Tomorrow… BALI!

September 19, 2007 Posted by | China, Photography, Tibet, Travel | 5 Comments