Saturday, October 10, 2009

Back to Life, Back to Reality

I’ve been home over a month already, so I figured a final summary blog is WAY overdue. (There are pictures at the end so bear with me through the following chit-chat!)

Before I start summarizing let me tell you about our last few days on the trip. When we got to Sydney we checked all of our luggage except for what we needed for the night then took train to Circular Quay to get some souvenirs and see the beautiful Opera House and Sydney Harbor one last time. I love Sydney, its so pretty. That’s when it hit me that we were really leaving L. (That’s also when I realized that I had lost my camera. I think I left it in the Kuala Lumpur airport during our layover when I decided to clean out my purse. Oh well, at least I had all my pictures saved to my computer.)

We headed out to Bondi Beach and stopped at Cole’s grocery to pick up some Tim Tams (Australian cookies) and Cadbury chocolate to smuggle back into the U.S. We met up with some of our old roommates and re-lived the glorious month we spent at Bondi with them. It was so good to see familiar faces and spend some time with them before heading back to the western hemisphere.

The next morning we said goodbye to beautiful Bondi and took the train into the city to close out our bank accounts and take care of some other stuff. Our flight left Sydney around 2pm.

We had a short layover in LA where I fell asleep on the floor, then landed in Austin at 6pm. I wore my tiny cowboy hat clip I acquired in Thailand and got a laugh out of our waiting parents. It was good to be home.

Koda attacked me with licks when I got home. She missed her momma! I had some friends over for a BBQ and spent some time catching up with them. Since then I’ve been helping my Dad out at his office and enjoying not living out of backpack or sharing a room.

Everyone I talk to asks what my favorite part of the trip was and I realized that I did so many different things its hard to narrow down! So here is a photo summary of the most exciting things we did on our trip:

We drove a camper van all over New Zealand without ever getting that lost…
We watched the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean crash into each other at the northern tip of New Zealand, Cape Reinga…

Made knives and dabbled in bone carving….

Fished for our dinner among snowcapped mountains…

Got up close and personal on a dinner date with a lion…

Bungee jumped over Queenstown….

Hiked a glacier….

Worked for our keep on a farm (who would have thought I’d have to leave Texas to do that?)…

Toured the iconic Opera House….

Lived on Bondi Beach with 25 housemates (best backyard I've ever had)…

Looked for devils in Tasmania…

Found Nemo and lots of turtles on the Great Barrier Reef….

Camped in the Australian Outback…

Sailed through the Whitsunday Islands…

Fed kangaroos and cuddled koalas….

Admired the symmetry of the Taj Mahal…

Charmed a cobra…

Rode a camel through the sand dunes of the Thar Desert….

Saw a real-life sand castle….

Relaxed on the beautiful beaches of Thailand…

Got my fill on pad thai…

Saw an octopus, eel and sea snake diving in Thailand….

Jump roped fire…
Had over 18 different flights….

And we didn't kill each other after spending everyday together!!!
And those are just a few of my MOST favorite things. Other highlights include seeding both black and white sand beaches; blackwater rafting through glowworm caves; trying new foods: mussels, kangaroo, emu, crocodile, and everything in India; going to zoos; digging our own hot tub on Hot Water Beach; learning to surf; riding down sand dunes on boogie boards; making new friends from around the world; visits from my family, Jamie and Jessica; celebrating my 25th birthday; and seeing parts of the world I never knew existed!

I thought this trip would quench my thirst for world travel but in fact it just made it stronger! I hope to continue traveling in the future and can’t wait to see where life takes me next! I could not have asked for a better travel mate and friend to share this experience with. Thank you Sarah for putting up with me! I can't believe how fast 6 months went by!

It was a fantastic trip, thank you for following along with my on my journey! I am going to keep the blog up but will remove everyone from the automatic emails. Should I choose to blog about my regular, boring life it will be on this page but no promises on doing that with any regularity (and no promises that it will be as entertaining!).

Now time to get a full-time job…..

Love to you all!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Back Down Under

The rest of our time in Thailand was good. It rained more but it was still nice. One of our sorority sisters, Christina Jacobs Dunlap, came for the weekend from Singapore. 

We left Thailand yesterday and had another long layover in Kuala Lumpur. We got into Sydney this morning at 8am. Today we are going to run last minute souvenier errands and meet up with some of our old Bondi roommates for the night. Then tomorrow we fly out at 2pm back to the States! Can't believe our trip is over, it went by so fast!!! 

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Yep, it's still awesome!

Scuba pictures!
I found Nemo in Thailand too!
Cuttlefish blending in
Since my last blog I've been enjoying the sunshine, eating awesome Thai food and went diving. Our trusty Lonely Planet said that since its monsoon season the visibility for diving might not be too good, but its so cheap to dive here ($75 for 2 1-hour dives compared to $200 in Australia for 2 25-minute dives) so I figured why not.

We went diving yesterday morning to Bida Nok and Table Coral City. The water was so warm and the visibility was great for the first dive, and just ok for the 2nd. We saw so much stuff, and a lot of different things than we saw on the Great Barrier Reef. I really wanted to see an octopus and what do you know, a few minutes into our first dive I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. It was an octopus landing on a rock and immediately blending in. I swam fast to grab our instructor's fin and show it to him. He made it move so everyone else could see it (it seriously looked like a rock!) and it was SO cool. After that we saw a cuttlefish, which is like a mix between a squid and octopus and it changed from brown speckley to clear in a milisecond. Also saw a sea snake, eel and 2 hawksbill turtles. It was awesome. I could dive everyday and never get tired of it. They almost talked me into getting my certification but who knows when I'll be near a good diving spot. I have some credit card debt to pay off first....

But Thailand isn't adding to that debt, being as cheap as it is! Bottled water costs 15 cents, a meal costs about $1.50 and I just got a haircut for $12! It's raining right now (the first and only flaw I've found of Thailand so far) so I'm trying to upload some scuba pictures.

Oh last night we went to a bar that was playing Bruno (an illegal copy of course - they have them for sale all over and I may or may not have bought some...shhh) and per Thailand custom we took our shoes off before entering the store. Well after the movie when we went to leave my shoes were nowhere in sight. A Thai lady working at the bar was trying to tell us that a guy took them but she knows him and he was maybe coming back. Anyway, after about 10 minutes he came back with my shoes and Sarah gave him a mouthful. Apparently he borrowed them because someone took his so he ran home to get another pair, then was returning mine. Seriously dude? Don't take people's shoes...that's just weird.

I can't believe I come home in 10 days! On one hand 6 months has flown by but on the other it seems like forever ago that we were in New Zealand. Either way its been an awesome trip!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

India Pictures!

Ok, here they finally are! They are totally out of order but it takes too long to move them around. Enjoy!

Getting turbanized by Shankar, Elizabeth's recommended textile dealer
Shankar's store, pretty textiles!
Jaisalamer city
Camel safari Indian princess
In my pretty saree
Camel safari shadow
Locals at the fort in Jodhpur
Overlooking the "blue city" Jodhpur
Main market area in Jodhpur
Saying goodbye to our driver, Rajeev. I promise he smiles haha

Jaisalmer Fort, a giant sandcastle!
City Palace, Udaipur
View of Udaipur city
Tourists on elephants. We said no to animal cruelty and waked up to the palace.
Street vendor
Getting henna
Rajeev getting the flat tire fixed
In a rickshaw in Pushkar
Camel cart in Pushkar
View of a temple from inside a tire shop while we waited for the rickshaw to get its flat fixed
Water Palace, Jaipur
Seeing how our hand stamped curtains were made, Jaipur. Thats glitter flecks catching the flash!
The largest silver object int he world. Seriously, its in Guiness. Jaipur city palace
Jaipur city palace
Jaipur city palace
Charming a cobra in Jaipur Amber Fort
Amber Fort, Jaipur
Fruit for sale
Jaipur, the pink city
Monkey with a painted on mustache doing tricks outside our car window, so mean!
Qutub Minar, Delhi
My laptop security packaging from the hotel. haha
India Gate, Delhi
Gandhi's glasses
Gandhi's world peace gong
The Taj Mahal!