One of the mysteries of the universe to me is how does a trip idea spark into reality. I decided, it usually starts with people talking smack. Bantering back and forth, upgrading to one-up-man-ship, general family stuff. Then there is that nanosecond that one person says something meaningful and the concept of “I bet we could do that” appears. A spark! then it is just a logistic puzzle. … Continue reading Europe with the whole Family (almost)
What were we thinking when we were planning the nearly 4 week trip to Malaysia’s Borneo? Borneo is the third largest island in the world. The island is politically divided among three countries: Malaysia and Brunei in the north, and Indonesia to the south. Approximately 73% of the island is Indonesian territory. In the north, the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak make up … Continue reading Amazing Borneo
Jazz and Mas, her new orangutan baby, have much in common: they both have a humbling “knowing” in their eyes, they are both very intelligent, they both make you smile, they both like to eat fruit and they both have a big interest in their finger nails. Jazz would help any animal, so when the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center said they needed help to feed the … Continue reading Jazmine helps an orangutan baby for a year!
Often, we use trip reports to guide our decision making process. We lean toward independent travel, but found a trip report on the benefits of hiring a guide for a trip to Bako National Park. Hmmmm. What would it say? well it was written by a person who was an independent traveler wondering why people hired guides — the trails are very well marked. But … Continue reading PIT VIPERS! They didn’t mention that in the brochure!
In the morning we wake to birdsong, the moist air from the previous night’s rain covers the misty river, the jungle is in full chorus. Our boat putters along the Kinabatangan River (Sabah’s longest at 560 kilometers), the surface a glistening mocha fondant in the early-morning light under a sky of silvery sateen. The area is only accessible by boat, our lodge the Bilit Rainforest … Continue reading Sabah’s longest river
Because he believes he CAN make a difference. Because he has a huge heart and a soft spot for turtles everywhere. Because he wants to see turtles flourish. Jonathan Junior is a turtle ambassador. While we visited Turtle Island Park, Grandpa and grandma kept saying how much Jonathan would enjoy this experience. One way to share it with you is to adopt the nest we … Continue reading Jonathan Junior – Turtle ambassador
Selingan island, part of Turtle Island Park, is the only island in this region that tourists can visit. The tracks of a turtle are unmistakable. As the sea turtle crawls, it pushes back sand with each flipper stroke, creating a 25-inch wide double trail of sculpted sand. The sweeping limbs of the sea turtle, undulating from ocean to the dune and back, mark a distinctive … Continue reading Turtle Island
Its black fur is hard to spot from the high walkway, but when you see the shiny, golden, crescent-shaped fur collar around its neck, you realize you’ve spotted the tiniest bear in the world – a Bornean Sun Bear. Every individual bear has a unique fur collar like us humans have our fingerprints, and that’s how their keepers will know who’s who. The Bornean Sun … Continue reading Amazing Sandakan
Today we are in Sarawak in Borneo and finally found a mature male orangutan. WOW! It was easy to notice they have strange flappy face-pads called flanges, which females find attractive – yet males may wait 20 years before developing them. Mature male orangutans have large flappy cheek-pads, known as flanges. As far as females are concerned, they prefer males with them, over those without. … Continue reading Why male orangutans have such weird faces
The remarkable males sport big dangling noses, reddish flat top hairstyles, white tails and markings and pot bellies. The females on the other hand, are much smaller and have up-turned noses. The male has a bigger nose than the female, and they use their big and long noses as a sex tool to … to… to attract the female. I wonder how do they kiss, … Continue reading Proboscis Monkey
As we waited in the sun, the small crowd began to grow antsy, scanning the trees for a sign. Finally, leaves began to rustle, and we collectively held our breath. Then a flash of reddish-gold was spotted between the green jungle leaves. Finally, the ropes giving easy access to the feeding station, began to wobble and our first orangutan appeared. It wasn’t long before more … Continue reading Borneo Orangutans
We trekked in Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP). It is one of the most biologically diverse habitats on the planet. The region is located in a remote part of Indonesia’s largest island and straddles the provinces of North Sumatra and Aceh. It is a land where mountains rise sharply from the lowlands with peaks that stretch out and into the clouds. The jungle, scarred at … Continue reading Jungle trekking in Sumatra
Part Deux of our journey ends as we disembark the dam ship Singapore. It was an amazing journey as we enjoyed western comfort when on the ship and amazing excursions throughout SE Asia as indicated in earlier blog posts. Part Trois of our journey continues for another month: Singapore; Sumatra, Indonesia; and Borneo, Malaysia. Check back often for updates. Continue reading Part Deux ends – next up…….
Bali the “island of the Gods” has plenty of charm: temples, beaches, diving, spa treatments and handicrafts at bargain prices. Even so, the island’s most indispensable attribute is its people; their warmth, generosity and dedication to preserving their culture are what set the place apart. Mostly famous for its landscapes that are both dramatic and exotic, rice paddies in Bali are part of the people’s … Continue reading Bali – Island of Gods
Along with Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Bagan in Myanmar, Java’s Borobudur makes the rest of Southeast Asia’s spectacular sites seem almost incidental. Looming out of a patchwork of bottle-green paddies and swaying palms, this colossal Buddhist monument has survived volcanic eruptions, terrorist bombs and an earthquake to remain as enigmatic and as beautiful as it must have been 1200 years ago. From a distance … Continue reading Borobudur – A wonder of the world
It is difficult to get our heads around the denominations of their currency. For instance an average lunch for 2 costs 100,000 Indonesian Rupiah. Our first thought is, Whaaaaat??? Then laugh when we realize it is only $8 US Dollars. The Holland America cruise Part II took us through 8 different locations in Indonesia. Two are famous: Borobudur and Bali, which are so photogenic they … Continue reading Cruising Indonesia
A Buddha face in the tree roots, located at Ayutthaya, is such an interesting and stunning piece of history to see. It is no wonder this is an iconic image, the whole area is beautiful but this particular image is quite moving, to think that despite the tress growing around the head it can still be seen and the tree appears to be cradling it. … Continue reading UNESCO Heritage Site north of Bangkok
Trip Report, Part Deux . . . . . We embarked on another Dam ship (Holland America Volendam) for a 28 day journey, down the coast of Vietnam, quickly in and out of Thailand, and Singapore, then another 2 weeks in Indonesia. Here is what we saw in Vietnam . . . In northern Vietnam, Halong Bay is a collection of some 1,600 limestone monoliths … Continue reading Cruising Vietnam
That is what we were called in Thailand. In Myanmar, our guide asked us to be his parents in his next life. The Thai people always greet you with a smile and “Sà wàtdii ka” from a woman and “Sà wàtdii kap” from a man with their hands together in front of them with a bow. You return the same and the smile gets bigger. … Continue reading Momma and Poppa
As I entered the wide expanse of Inle Lake at the end of a narrow feeder channel, two fishermen appeared performing what I could best make out as a slow-motion, over-the-water ballet with oars for props—all while balanced on the bows of their boats. It was absolutely enthralling. Life on the shallow, 13.5-mile freshwater lake is utterly captivating: With no roads or sidewalks to speak … Continue reading Inle Lake and ending in Yangon Myanmar
A sunny morning’s float down the Irrawaddy River is good for many things: letting your face bask in the sunshine, visiting with other guests whilst drinking tea; watching river life; or traveling up river to the town of Mingun. In Mingun, we photographed the local ice cream man on his bicycle and visited an assisted living facility for the elderly. Pagodas are everywhere in Myanmar. … Continue reading Mandalay Myanmar
Pagodas of Pagan – Established on the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy River, Pagan was a great capital and wealthy trading port while Europe was still in the Dark Ages. It was already a sizable metropolis in the 9th century, when it was inhabited by tribes who had migrated to the area in preceding centuries. In A.D. 1057, King Anawrahta defeated the Mon Kingdom to … Continue reading Finding our inner Indiana Jones
Few travel experiences compare with flying over Bagan in a hot air balloon. With over 2,200 temples and pagodas, there is no better way to take in the incredible history spread across the plains of Bagan. The layers of wind push us past Buddhist monuments built between the 10th and 14th centuries; the spires of thousands of pagodas spread in the distance and the Irrawaddy … Continue reading Balloons over Bagan – Myanmar
Our European journey began on August 1, flying from Atlanta to Moscow. On October 30 we embarked on a transatlantic cruise arriving in Tampa on November 13. We boarded the ship with all our luggage and our two kids, our two e-bikes that we purchased in Germany. Today while visiting our final port (Funchal, Maderia, Portugal) in the EU, we got the necessary form stamped … Continue reading Transatlantic Crossing