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Archive for December, 2011

29th December
2011
written by Justin
Tropical Paradise

Tropical Paradise

For Part Two of my Last Big Thing, I wanted to make great use of our scuba certifications from Thailand and go down into the deep again.  This time it would be off the eastern tip of Borneo.  I wanted to go to the world-famous Sipadan site, a volcanic island that drops down to ocean depths of 800 or more meters in a very short distance, but didn’t plan ahead enough to go.  Sipadan is now under regulation, and it appears that the best scuba shops don’t get nearly as many permits as some of the shops that are, say, generous to the local government.  We wanted to go with Scuba Junkie (no relation to Scuba Junction from Koh Tao) which had a great reputation and a beautiful island resort at a great price – but they couldn’t get us permits for the famous spot.  So we dived beautiful Mabul Island instead, and while it may not have had huge pelagics in town it did amaze us with beautiful wildlife! (more…)

28th December
2011
written by Justin

 

Beautiful KL

Beautiful KL

As I said in the last post, we each picked one thing to do before the year was over.  My pick was going to Borneo!  I had heard great things about the island, and after researching it a bit more, three things in particular stood out for me.  First, I wanted to see Kuala Lumpur – it is a really big city made famous by the twin Petronas towers.  Second, I wanted to scuba dive Sipadan, known as one of the finest sites in the world to dive, with sharks and turtles everywhere.  Third, the Kinabatangan River has loads of wildlife that is easily visible because of the palm oil plantations that are slowly removing all the jungle habitat around the river (only 1km on each side is protected).  These three things turned out to make a really great Malaysian adventure! (more…)

28th December
2011
written by Hazel

So, for my birthday we had one of the most amazing adventures of my life:  three days at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center!!!

Thai Elephant Conservation Center

Thai Elephant Conservation Center

We stayed for two nights and had two full days playing with the elephants.  Each of us was assigned an elephant and a mahout (elephant trainer) to work with and we were with the same one the whole time we were there.  Justin’s elephant was called Wannalee and mine was Sri Siam. (more…)

16th December
2011
written by Hazel

Justin had planned an awesome elephant adventure for my birthday, but since it started the day after my actual birthday we needed something to do on the day.  The solution was to do another Thai cooking class!  This time in Chiang Mai, a town in northern Thailand.  We found one that looked good on the internet and would highly recommend it as the class and the food was AMAZING!  The school is Thai Farm Cooking School.

Choosing our recipes to learn

Choosing our recipes to learn

They had a great system – they picked us up in the morning and handed out menu selection paper.  We each got to select five courses and each course had three choices of dish to cook.  We tried to pick different dishes so that we would have the widest selection we could make in the future.

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16th December
2011
written by Justin

While we were in Vietnam, Hazel had a realization – we weren’t having that much fun anymore!

You can think whatever you want, but it turns out that after 9 months being a tourist just isn’t that easy to do.  You start to want to just hole up in a single place, do nothing, see nothing, and relax.  Hazel, being an excellent problem solver, came up with a solution to our problems – we’d just plan every day to the end of the trip, and that way we would have all the great bits about being travelling (seeing other cultures and landscapes, experiencing food and drink traditions, etc) without all the work.  So the goal was to have plans set for the remaining 77 days of our trip.

Organized!

Organized!

It turns out that planning 77 days is no picnic!  To get organized, we do what we always do – make a Google Doc!  We have a spreadsheet where each row is a day and it details where we’re sleeping, what we’re doing, and how we’re travelling if we have any plans.  Days where the accommodation is not figured out are marked in red, and successful days we’ve already had get marked in green.  At first we had a lot of red, so Hazel and I each picked one big idea, and worked our hardest to make it happen.  I wanted to scuba dive at another world-class location, and Hazel chose to walk the Overland Track in Tasmania.

Figuring this out was great for us.  We saw exactly how it would happen, and even figured out how to make it to the Melbourne Lindy Exchange in Australia after going on the track.  So we rang up Qantas and changed our flights around to give us a lot more time in Oz, a lot less time in Thailand, and a lot more time in Singapore.  Though it took forever to get booked, we ended up with a schedule that we knew would work and could concentrate on doing stuff we wanted to do instead of stuff we thought we ought to do. Sweet As!

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