Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!

We took a red eye flight from Bali direct to Sydney, Australia. When we landed it was a little bit of a relief. This was the closest feeling to being home that we'd had in a very long time. It's a little ironic considering how far we actually were from home, but nonetheless, it felt very similar to landing in the U.S., but everyone had accents.

We chose to stay at the Wakeup hostel, which turned out to be a great location for getting around the city, and neither of us had ever been so excited to do laundry, which the hostel also had available.

Excited to have some clean clothes!

We were also very excited to see some familiar faces. After we checked in to our hostel, our Aussie friends Rob and Emma picked us up to show us around the city. We had met Rob and Emma during our tour in Ireland back in July, and had all become pretty good mates (as the Australians would say).

With our friends Rob and Emma

They took us on a drive to some of the best beach spots, showed us some of the fun neighborhoods near our hostel, and then we went to have dinner and drinks to finish off the night. We had a wonderful time and are so grateful to have met them in our earlier travels.

Cerveza time!

We love these two!

Unfortunately, our second day in Sydney, the weather was horrible. We decided to explore the city on foot and got blasted by wind and rain. We did however get to see Darling Harbour in the evening after the weather had calmed down a bit.

Scott getting some good use of his rain jacket.

When the hot Australian sun finally decided to come out, we joined a group of people from our hostel for a walk from Coogee beach all the way to Bondi beach. We found that Sydney had a unique vibe that felt kind of like San Francisco and San Diego's love child. Later that evening we met up with our friend Rob and his girlfriend at a local pub to have drinks and play trivia. We weren't so great at some of the Aussie trivia, but nonetheless we won a free pitcher of some pretty terrible beer, but it was all good fun.

Bondi Beach

We also walked down to the Harbour to see the iconic Harbour bridge and the Sydney Opera House. We didn't get to make it out to Manly Beach, which is supposed to be amazing. However, we plan on checking it out when we return to Sydney for a couple days at the end of our journey.

While we were in Sydney we also mapped out the rest of our trip which entails a two week road trip up the coast to the Great Barrier Reef, a trip to Melbourne, a drive down the Great Ocean Road, and sixteen days in New Zealand. So far we love Australia and couldn't be more excited about our trip to New Zealand, and we will be driving a right side drive car…so watch out Australia!

Just some Kanga-Bangas we saw at the grocery store:)


Now This Is The Life: Koh Samui and Bali

After our busy days in Bangkok and chaotic whirl wind of a trip to India, we decided to head to the beach for some much needed R&R. We flew back to Bangkok from New Delhi and then from Bangkok we took a short flight to the Thai island of Koh Samui.

Getting off the plane on the island was such a nice relaxed pace compared to the previous weeks. We were so grateful for this downtime. We took a shuttle to The Renaissance Hotel. We had booked the cheapest room available online weeks before, but when we arrived we immediately got upgraded to a garden bungalow with a private pool. (We strongly recommend that anyone who plans on traveling, becomes a rewards member for hotels and airlines. It really has made a huge difference for our trip).

Our private plunge pool

We spent three days lounging by the crystal clear water on Koh Samui.

Scott enjoying some Thai beer

Ready for some beach time!

There's always time for twirling in fun places!

From Koh Samui we hopped on a plane to Bali. We had a five hour layover in Singapore, but if you have to be stuck at an airport, Singapore is the place to be stuck. The airport in Singapore had free wifi, lounging areas galore, lots of dining options, indoor gardens, and even a swimming pool and movie theatre.

When we got to Bali we checked into the Conrad. The resort was absolutely amazing. It had the largest swimming pool either of us had ever seen, our room had an ocean view, the restaurants were delicious, and we had some of the best massages of our lives at the spa.

Bali airport

Happy to be in Bali

A piece of paradise

Going to the spa

Romantic beach dinner

Awkward dinner photo #1

Awkward dinner photo #2

Believe it or not, traveling for eight months can be extremely exhausting, and a good solid beach vacation was absolutely revitalizing. We left Bali completely re energized and ready to take on our next big adventure…Australia/New Zealand!


Namaste From India

Our trip to India was fascinating, yet an assault to the senses. We took in so much in such a short amount of time, it took us a few days after leaving India to be a able to process the things we had seen.

The experience started before we even landed in New Delhi. As our plane started to descend, we began entering the very thick, brown pollution layer that rests over the city. Like most large cities, it is not uncommon to have a smog layer that you drop through when landing, but usually it clears up once you pass through the layer. Not in India. The pollution was like a heavy blanket of filthy air that never cleared up when we landed.

As the pilot announced to prepare for landing, an announcement came on stating that a disinfectant spray would be dispersed through the air in the cabin and all people sensitive to the inhalation of the spray should cover their faces. This was definitely a first for us.

After we landed, getting through immigration and baggage claim was fairly routine and our hotel had arranged for a driver to transfer us to the hotel. As we pulled out of the airport onto the main road, we were shocked at what we saw on the sides of the road. We were prepared to see some poverty in India, and having grown up so close to the Mexican border, we figured it couldn't be that much worse than what we have seen before. However, it was much worse than what either of us had expected to see. There were lots of very thin, barefoot people (including children) sitting among heaps of trash on the sides of the dusty roads.

We arrived at the Imperial Hotel, which was more like a compound. There were huge walls and gates that surrounded the entire property which was heavily guarded by security. Our car was even fully searched before we were allowed into the parking lot. When we pulled up to the hotel lobby entrance two men with extremely impressive beards and mustaches opened our doors for us and welcomed us to the hotel. They both had fancy uniforms and turbines that coordinated.

We would stay the night in New Delhi and then head to Agra first thing in the morning. After the full day of traveling we decided to stay in and have dinner at one of the hotel restaurants. We were so warmly greeted at the restaurant and were the only people in the entire place. At first we were wondering why, and the waiter finally explained that most people don't eat until much later in the evening in India. It actually turned out to be awesome for us. It was kind of romantic and we had the entire restaurant staff catering to us alone. Our waiter was super friendly and was insistent on stuffing us with as much food as possible.

Enjoying some delicious roti

The most delicious dinner!

The next morning we met our driver who would be driving us three hours South to Agra. We had a nice chat with the driver for part of the drive. He talked with us about different types of produce that was being grown in all the fields we were passing, the wild monkeys we saw on the streets, and statistics of population/religion in India.

Passing a camel on our drive to Agra

On our way to Agra

Indian school bus

When we got to Agra, the poverty was much worse than what we had seen in Delhi. We pulled out the camera and tried to capture some of it as we drove through the streets. (A lot of these pictures were taken from our moving vehicle so they may not be the best quality, but we really wanted people to be able to see what we saw.)

We saw up to fifteen people piled into some of the rickshaws

The driver took us straight to the hotel we'd be staying at to get checked in and also so we could meet up with our guide who was going to take us on a tour of the Taj Mahal. The Oberoi Amarvilas was also heavily guarded, but once we passed through the gates, it was an oasis within the chaos. Every room in the entire hotel had a magnificent view of the Taj. We were upgraded to a beautiful suite.

Cows in the middle of the streets

Elephant at the entry of the Oberoi

The bell man carrying my daypack

Showing off our welcome dots

View of the pool at the Oberoi

After we got settled in, we went down to meet up with our guide who took us on a golf cart to the entrance of the Taj. We had to walk the last few minutes since carts were only allowed to a certain point. The second we got off the cart, we were bombarded by locals trying to sell us things and little kids trying to grab our arms. It was a little heartbreaking because we were told to completely ignore them because supporting that kind of activity only makes it worse.

On the cart going to the Taj

A goat walking on the street on the way to the Taj

The Taj was beautiful and from far looked like it was straight from a postcard. The smog made for beautiful pictures at sunset.

At the entrance to the Taj

We had to wear booties in order to go inside

The colorful line of people waiting to go in to the Taj

After our tour at the Taj our guide stopped us by a local marble shop where all of the marble is hand carved by local artists.

That evening we had another wonderful meal where we met some new friends (a father and daughter) who were traveling through India. We had a nice chat with them while we enjoyed another Indian feast accompanied by live Indian music being played in the background.

Sporting my bindi for dinner

A guy playing live music at dinner

The next morning we headed back to New Delhi with our same driver. Only this time the trip took twice as long due to really bad traffic because of the Diwali Festival that was starting the next day. We barely made it back in time to meet up with a guide that would be taking us on a walking tour of Old Delhi.

We got photo bombed while walking the streets of Old Delhi

Colorful decorations for Diwali festivities

This was the most chaotic yet fascinating part of our time in India yet. We started our walk at the Red Fort. The architecture was beautiful and we got an in depth history lesson from our guide. From the Red Fort we walked out into the busy streets of Old Delhi. It was sheer chaos! We were dodging motor bikes and rickshaws left and right, bobbing and weaving to avoid being bonked on the head by the men carrying huge miscellaneous objects on their heads, and also trying to keep a tight grip on our belongings, to each other, and not lose our guide in the crowds. Scott was walking closely behind me fending off unwelcome stares from the local men. We had previously been warned that the men in India can be quite in appropriate towards foreign women, especially in crowded areas. It was a little uncomfortable to be receiving the unwanted attention, but luckily I escaped unscathed.

Red Fort

A really cool tree at the Red Fort

A lot of people carry things on their heads in the busy streets

Trying to keep up with our guide

The narrow streets of Old Delhi reminded us a little of our time in Marrakech, but more chaotic, if that's possible to fathom. We walked among the wondering cows, street monkeys, goats, people buying lots of festival items, and many beggars.

Being an electrical engineer, the sight of this made me cringe

Our guide also stopped us by a little shop where a local man makes hand embroidered cashmere products. Scott got to be pretty good buddies with the guy and took some fun pictures together.

Beautiful beaded sari in the market

On our way back out of Old Delhi we opted to ride a cycle-rickshaw out of the chaos instead of trying to navigate back through it in the dark. The ride in the rickshaw was one of our favorite things, although we did feel bad for our driver who had to cycle us and our guide uphill in the traffic.

Crazy traffic in Old Delhi

Rickshaw ride

The fellow who drove our rickshaw

A building decorated for Diwali

With our tour guide

After our walking tour we were pooped. We headed back to the hotel and called it a night. The next morning we would be catching a flight out of India. Our time in India was too short. It is definitely a place we will return to. The food was amazing, most of the people we met were so kind, and despite the poverty, India was beautiful in its own unique way.


Two Weeks in Bangkok

Our flight into Bangkok was entertaining, for a lack of better words. Scott had arranged for him to have an isle seat, and of course I would be stuck in a middle seat for the duration of the five hour flight. As we neared our seats, hoping nobody would be in the window seat, there was girl in the window seat wearing a long sleeve, ankle length dress that was covered in the brightest floral pattern known to man. As we got situated in our seats, the girl introduced herself and then proceeded to wipe down our entire row's armrests, tray tables, and window with disinfectant wipes. Then the dreaded “airplane talk” commenced. She started out by telling us all about her vacation plans, everything she ever read out of a Thailand guidebook, all about her Russian heritage, and an explanation of her flowery dress and all the others just like it that she had in different colors. When she had finally stopped talking long enough for us to escape by putting our headphones in, she taps me on the shoulder and proceeds by asking if I ever had thoughts of our plane crashing and burning. She even included the sound effects, “mmmnnnnn, swoosh, kaboom”. Then she said she got nervous on flights and maybe she should have taken some mushrooms to calm down. I leaned over and whispered to Scott that we might not want her standing in line next to us as we went through immigration when we landed in Thailand.

Glad to be off the airplane and in Bangkok!

After the plane landed we started gathering our backpacks to get off the plane, when the girl taps me on the shoulder again and asked if she could follow us to the immigration line because she was nervous and wasn't used to traveling abroad. We couldn't be rude and say no, so we said that was fine and got off the plane. We tried to walk fast enough to keep a little distance and made sure we went in a separate line and lost her at the baggage claim.

Having fun t the airport

We spent a few days in Bangkok before we flew up to Chang Mai. We stayed at the Hilton Millennium Hotel using some of the hotel points I had accumulated. The hotel was beautiful, and in a good location for activities on the Chao Praya river.

Millennium Hilton Hotel

Waiting on the hotel dock to cross the river

Rooftop swimming pool at the Millennium

Getting in some pool time after battling the Bangkok heat!

Scott taking the dreaded antimalarial pill

We took the orange line water taxi down the river and got off at the stop nearest to the Grand Palace and the Wat Pho that houses the Relaxing Buddah. We had to walk through a small outdoor food market to get to the street that was bustling with sidewalk peddlers and beeping tuk-tuks. It was alive and very colorful.

Scott on the water taxi

Boats on the Chao Phraya

River taxi dock.

More boats

Food market

Tuk tuks galore

A monk talks on his cell phone while shopping at a street vendor

Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho

At the a grand Palace

Scott with a palace guard.

We spent almost an entire day at the huge weekend market where we did some souvenir shopping. We took the sky train to the MBK shopping center and the high end Siam Paragon mall. We also took a stroll down Khao San Road and thanked God we were staying in a nice hotel instead of a hostel.

Walking to the market

Walking to the weekend market

At the weekend market.

The mango man

A boy busking at the market

Khao San Road

One night we walked Soi Cowboy, a street infamous for its nightlife containing bars, lady boys and old perverted men. It was a sight to see. We didn't stay too long, but it's one of those things that everyone who goes to Bangkok must see at least once.

Entrance to Soi Cowboy

The Jim Thomson House was also a very cool thing to see. Although, the silk shop that it houses was very expensive.

Silk thread

After our trip to Chang Mai and the flight fiasco in Vietnam and Laos, we decided to return to Bangkok until we could come up with a new plan. This time we opted to stay in a different area of Bangkok to be able to explore more of the city. We checked in to the Hilton Double Tree Suhkumvit. It was actually a fairly new, really nice hotel that had an awesome rooftop pool and gym. The free breakfast was delish, and the hotel was half the price of the Millennium. This would be our home for the next eight days. We were able to really take in the culture of the city, explore more of the markets, and we even got to watch a Muai Thai fight.

Climbing Wat Arun

Wednesday night Muay Thai fight night

Delicious Thai food

The flights to Cambodia were quadrupled in price, so we crossed out that idea and moved up our trip to India, allowing us to add more time in Australia and a couple weeks in New Zealand. We were bummed about missing out on Cambodia, but we know that we will definitely be back and we were super excited to be able to add New Zealand to our itinerary.


Vibrant Chang Mai and a Failure in Vietnam

From Tokyo we flew into Bangkok Thailand, but we'll be covering Bangkok in a different post. From Bangkok we flew to Chang Mai, a smaller Northern city in Thailand that's close to the Myanmar border.

The flight to Chang Mai was enjoyable as we got upgraded to first class. We also were entertained that the flight attendant kept insisting that Scott looked familiar and thought he was from the movie the Hangover.

Flight path from Bangkok to Chang Mai

When we landed in Chang Mai we got checked into our hotel and then walked a few blocks down the road to check out the night market. The streets were alive with all types of vendors selling food and other things.

Our hotel in Chang Mai

Colorful products at the night market

A woman trying to sell us bracelets

A kid getting a fish pedicure.

The next morning we were picked up for a cooking class. There were four of us taking the class, us and another couple. We hopped in the back of a little truck that toted us to a local produce market where we got a tour with our chef. We learned all about the local fruits and veggies and the different ingredients that are essential to the flavors of Thailand.

Scott in our ride to the market.

We all got cute shopping baskets to take to the market

Fresh produce at the market

Our chef teaching us about ingredients

The smaller, the hotter!

The market street

After the market tour, we headed over to the home of our chef where we spent the rest of the afternoon whipping up the most delicious Thai food we've ever had. We each made a total of six dishes. To say the least, we were stuffed when we left. The chef was amazing and even gave us signed copies of his recipe book. We definitely recommend this cooking class.

Dining area where final products were enjoyed.

Scott was ready to cook in his strawberry apron.

Our cooking group was awesome!

The master chef!

Making some Pad Thai

Fried bananas and ice cream.

Mango rice

On our way back to the hotel after a whole day of cooking

The following day in Chang Mai was definitely an interesting one. We had arranged for a private driver to take us around. First, we stopped off at an elephant camp, where we got to play with some elephants and watch them bathe in the river. It was so amazing to be so close to the magnificent creatures. However, if we were to do it over, we would have rather gone to the elephant sanctuary where the animals are treated less like circus animals.

Playing with the elephants

Scott getting hugs

Bath time fun!

After the elephant camp we drove out to a hill tribe refugee camp. It is a camp that is set up by the Thai government that houses Bermese tribal refugees that have escaped persecution from Myanmar. The people are allowed to live in huts like the ones they would live in in their normal setting. They are also taught essential survival skills such as farming, and children are allowed to go to school where they learn in their own tribal language. Spending time at this camp was very humbling and eye-opening to the genocide that occurs. While we were there, we were able to help out a very special little girl named Maria. Maria and her mother, along with most of the other women in the camp spend a lot of time hand weaving fabrics used to make their clothes and other items from the fabric. This was definitely a highlight of our time in Thailand.

The landscape was beautiful surrounding the camp

Refugee housing

Some of the colorful crafts made by the women of the hill tribes

A little girl named Maria

Maria and her mother

A girl wearing traditional neck rings showing me how she weaves

Some young girls wanted their picture with me

Some children at the camp showing us their school work

The small school house

A woman excited to show us how to crush rice

Two women doing dishes

After the refugee camp we stopped off at an orchid and butterfly sanctuary. It was a nice way to end the day.

The following morning we hopped on a flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. Initially, we had planned on flying to Luang Prabong, Laos, however the day before we were going to fly into Laos, there was a plane crash in Laos on the exact airline/plane we were supposed to fly on. Unfortunately, it was very tragic, with zero survivors. After the crash, we decided to pass on Laos and fly straight into Vietnam.

When we got to Hanoi, we didn't exactly recieve the friendliest welcome. We were hassled by immigration while trying to get our visas, and they made it very clear that they were not happy with the American tourists coming into Vietnam.

Once we stepped out of the airport, the streets were complete chaos! There were so many motorbikes driving all over the roads in all different directions. Our minds were blown by the number of scooters and motos that almost were run off the road. This would basically be the case for our entire time in Hanoi.

One of the less crowded streets

With the exception of the staff at our hotel, we were always recieved with unfriendly glares and it was nearly impossible to walk anywhere outside without almost being creamed by a motorbike.

This woman glared at us as we passed by, so I took her picture:)

View from our hotel room

After our not so great experience in Hanoi, we had planned on flying down to Ho Chi Minh. But as our bad luck streek would see to it, a huge tropical storm clobbered central Vietnam causing hundreds of cancelled flights. We figured a flight to the South part of Vietnam shouldn't be affected…wrong! Due to all of the cancelled flights from the storm all of the flights throughout Vietnam were either sold out, or the prices had skyrocketed.


So, back to Bangkok it is! We headed back into Thailand where we were greeted with the familiar smile, and we were very grateful to be back.