4/14/14 – 4/20/14: Elephant Nature Park, Thailand
Did you know elephants roar like lions? Squeak like mice? That you should never stand directly in front of an elephant because that’s their blind spot? That when we say elephants never forget it’s not hyperbole? I never knew these things. I never knew I wanted to know these things. But now I do, thanks to Elephant Nature Park.
4/12/14 – 4/14/14: Chiang Mai
I didn’t know what Chiang Mai would be like, but I can tell you I never imagined walking its streets soaked from head to toe. But when you arrive during Songkran, Thailand’s New Year’s festival, it’s bound to happen, so it’s best to embrace the onslaught of water being thrown in your face.
3/31/14 – 4/11/14: Bangkok
Bangkok is overwhelming. Heat and humidity coat the city like a long wet tongue. It mingles with the smell of fried food, the din of traffic, the sticky sweat clinging to your clothes. History and modernism press together like two long legs squeezing into a tight pair of pants. They fit (just) but that doesn’t make them comfortable.
3/27/14 – 3/31/14: Singapore
Singapore delighted us soon as we entered the airport and walked by a dazzling sculpture called “Kinetic Rain.” Hundreds of copper covered raindrops slid up and down invisible strings, floating through the air in magical waves. We would’ve stood there for an hour if not for the fact that we had very little sleep and were very hungry.
3/19/14 – 3/22/14: Yogyakarta to Jakarta, Indonesia
Our flight from Bali to Yogyakarta (pronounced “jo-ja-cart-a”) was a spiritual one. We knew we’d soon be visiting the largest Hindu site in Indonesia, as well as the largest Buddhist temple in the entire world, but in the midst of contemplating these holy places we weren’t expecting the sudden contemplation on our own fragile mortality. Specifically, Katie’s very real fear of her bladder bursting.
3/13/14 – 3/19/14: Bali, Indonesia
After spending roughly four months in western worlds, traveling through Australia and New Zealand, we were suddenly thrust into much-needed culture shock when we landed in Bali, Indonesia.
3/3/14 – 3/8/14: Bethells Beach, New Zealand
Pretty much everyone who knows Katie and me knows that we love the show Xena: Warrior Princess. In fact, we met because of that show over 19 years ago. So when the opening narrator says “her courage will change the world” I can definitively say that it changed mine for the better.
2/21/14 – 3/3/14: Cape Reinga / Kaitaia, New Zealand
Seashells crunched below our tour bus as it barreled down Ninety Mile Beach toward Cape Reinga, the northern tip of New Zealand. Katie and I were on a day-tour that consisted of sand dune sledding and lunch at Tapotupotu Bay, but it was the beach cruising that had lured us in. There something about speeding headlong down a sandy beach in a gigantic bus that felt…unique. Our juggernaut got us to Cape Reinga in record time.
2/17/14: Hobbiton - Matamata, New Zealand
After principal photography for The Lord of the Rings trilogy ended in 2000, the sets were quickly dismantled, leaving the New Zealand countryside as the filmmakers had found it. Understandable, since you don't want travelers stumbling upon broken down, two-sided castle facades while traipsing through the mountains. What Kiwis didn't realize at the time was that those movies would be incredibly successful, so much so that Peter Jackson's films have become a cornerstone of their tourist trade, as evidenced here by Air New Zealand's "most epic safety video ever made".
2/6/14 – 2/15/14: Wellington to Tongariro Northern Circuit, New Zealand
Hiking Kepler Track was a sweet conclusion to the South Island of New Zealand. I wish I could say the North Island gave us a warm welcome, but apparently we did something to piss it off.