New Zealand Road Trip - Part 1

Goodbye, heat! Goodbye, mosquitoes! Goodbye, Nescafe! 

We are in New Zealand.

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Fresh off the plane in Christchurch, our first day in New Zealand

We have nearly two months in New Zealand to camp, tramp and road trip our way through both islands. New Zealand is the dessert course of our year long trip. Everything is perfect in NZ and we are loving it! 

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Hiking near Godley Beach Park outside of Christchurch

We rented a car and purchased some camping gear for our journey. We have been camping out under the stars (as weather permits), drinking lots of red wine, and hiking everywhere we can. 

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Our campsite outside of Lake Clearwater

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Cooking up some breakfast on our portable stove

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Watching the sun go down

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Sleeping under the stars…Simon actually took this picture! 

The stars are different in NZ than they are in the US. There is no Big Dipper, no Little Dipper. Instead they have the Southern Cross and lots of cloudy nebula & visible galaxies. Orion still persists though…no escaping him! 

If you like hiking (or tramping, as it is called here), NZ is the place for you. We usually do at least one hike every day. It’s unbelievable how much variety and beauty is crammed into such a small island!

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At the Birdling Flats on the Banks peninsula 

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At the top of Mt. Sunday (or Mount Edoras if you’re a LOTR fan!)  

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Akaroa Harbor 

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Waterfall in the Catlins National Park

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Tasman Glacier

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Did we get transported back to Turkey? At the Clay Cliffs in Omarama 

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Greener pastures in Akaroa

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Wild rainforest in the Catlins

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At Tunnel Beach near Dunedin

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At Hooker Lake

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Touching broken off bits of the Hooker Glacier

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Moeraki Boulders

New Zealand is the last land mass on earth to be occupied by humans. Humans didn’t arrive here until 700 years ago. This makes NZ one of the most unique places on the planet in terms of plants & animals, as they evolved here in relative isolation. As there are no native mammals in NZ, the variety in wildlife is seen mostly in the birds, plants, trees, and marine life.

We were able to watch some wild ‘little blue’ penguins come home after being at sea all day, eating fish and swimming around. They sleep in nests on shore. I don’t know why, but watching these little penguin nuggets find their way back to shore for the night is one of the highlights of our entire trip for me! 

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Little blue penguins coming to shore for the night! 

The sea lions are crazy here. They don’t mind people at all and you can find hours of entertainment watching them argue, loaf in the sand and growl at each other all day.

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Sea lion at the beach 

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A sea lion loaf

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They kind of look like dogs!

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Sleeping fur seal

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An extremely rare yellow eyed penguin!

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We even saw a wooly mammoth 

Lastly, after 12 months on the road, we finally bought ourselves a mini tripod. It’s really cool to have some pics of us that aren’t just awkward shots of our heads! 

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Tripod love at Mores Reserve!

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At Lake Heron

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At low tide near Dunedin

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At Mount Edoras, home of the Rohirrim, riders of Rohan!

We still have 4 weeks left….the journey continues!! 

Low Tide in Koh Lipe, Thailand

We ended our tour of Southeast Asia with 5 lazy days in Koh Lipe, one of the many perfect Thai islands in the Andaman sea. The best thing about Koh Lipe is the incredible snorkeling right off the beach. On many Thai islands, you need to pay for pricey tours if you want to see a great display of sea life. We stayed on Sunrise Beach, where the waters are crystal clear and fish and coral are abundant.

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Sunrise beach, right outside our bungalow

We rented some snorkel gear and swam out to the edge of the reef where we saw a cornucopia of fish. We saw a moray eel, scorpion fish, needle fish, technicolor parrot fish, insane coral, and many, many spiny sea urchins.

After our 3 hour long snorkel session, we swam back to the shallows to find that the sea had disappeared.

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Extreme low tide

The tide had gone out so far that boats were laying on sand, and coral that we had snorkeled over only hours earlier were now exposed to the air. It was surreal. Everyone was very curious to check out the underwater world from this new angle.

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Everyone loves low tide!

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We teamed up with this curious pup to check out the coral reefs on foot.

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Spiky urchins piercing the surface

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I have an irrational fear of these things…

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Our new doggy friend did not…

Being conscientious snorkelers, we had been very careful not to touch any of the coral while snorkeling as to not harm it. Our doggy friend had no such concerns.

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Tide is coming back in…time to call it a day!

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Koh Lipe was a great place to tie up our travels throughout Asia.  We loved our time in Thailand, and hope to return someday.  Goodbye for now, and thanks for all the pad thai!

New Zealand updates coming soon! 

Time for Lime (& Cats)

Time for Lime is a magical guest house in Koh Lanta, Thailand where you can hang out with cats, drink the world’s best mojitos, and spend lazy days relaxing at Klong Dao beach.

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A cat welcoming visitors to Time for Lime

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The porch of our cabin…occupied by our new cat friends

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Kitten on our door mat

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Delicious mojitos! 

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Deep thoughts at sunset

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I named this guy Barnacle 

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Yummy local BBQ chicken & Chang beer

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Hard to get anything done with all these cats around!

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zzz….

Exploring Angkor

There are over 1,000 temples in the Angkor region of Cambodia, covering over 400 square kilometers of ground. Visiting Angkor is a little overwhelming — it felt like we could spend a whole year there and still not see everything. The temples of Angkor were built by the mighty Khmer empire during their rule between the 9th and 15th century. We were able to visit 14 temples with our three day pass. It was hard to whittle down my 700+ photos into just 25, but here they are! 

We started our first day at 5:30 in the morning to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat. 

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Angkor Wat sunrise

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Once the sun came out, it was over 90 degrees out!

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Phimeanakas Temple

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Sandstone carvings

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Baphoun Temple

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Bayon Temple

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Naga bridge

These photos are from Ta Prohm temple, where the Tomb Raider movie was filmed. 

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From the Pre Rup temple:

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Preah Khan was our favorite temple. It is a sprawling labyrinth of corridors, courtyards, and trees snaking through crumbled ruins. 

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Banteay Srei temple: 

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No visit to Angkor would be complete without some ruin kitties! 

Banteay Samre temple: 

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Thailand Lap Cats

It’s hard to eat dinner in Thailand without a cat crawling into your lap…

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While trying to eat pad thai…

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A cat in my lap over breakfast coffee…

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A bad kitty looking for some omelette leftovers…

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smart phone kitty

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A Christmas Day kitty in Simon’s lap while waiting for a breakfast table 

Demanding kitty at the dinner table from Kara Kono on Vimeo.

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