203 Photos - Jan 12, 2014
Photo: This amazing structure is the international airport terminal.  It makes a pretty grand first impression of Beijing.Photo: Colourful temple at the entrance to Tiananmen squarePhoto: They're very serious about fire safety at Tiananmen squarePhoto: Colourful buildings, this time at the Forbidden City.  Sarah was interrupted twice by locals wanting photos with the foreigner while trying to take this shot.Photo: Still in the Forbidden City.  This is the ancient version of the back corridors of Disneyland.Photo: Sarah found an Ent!Photo: Part of the 9 dragon mural.  This dragon is running desperately late for an appointment.Photo: Leaving the Forbidden City and heading up to Jingshan parkPhoto: There are camoflagued trees in Jingshan park.Photo: View of the Forbidden City from the top of the park.Photo: Most of the Chinese to English translations were bang on. This one was not. Note there's a small but significant difference between peeing in the pool and peeing into the pool.

The caption says "Urinating into the pool, you are the best."Photo: Proof the street signs are in both Chinese and EnglishPhoto: Waiting in line to point at some food for lunch.Photo: Watching people skate on Houhai Lake. The first rink we came accross was full of people pushing themselves around the ice on chairs and ice bikes. This rink had some very good skaters, including speed skaters, and hockey players. Way to built up a stereotype, then shatter it.Photo: Sarah grooving with some retired folk during a sing along at the Summer Palace.Photo: Taking the chairlift up to the Great Wall and getting excited already about the luge ride down.Photo: We took two shots at this photo, and ended up with one of us blinking in each one.  This is an amalgamation of the two... one of our heads has been cut and pasted into this photo with MS paint.  Which one?Photo: Only small sections of the Great Wall have been restored so far. This is just past the restored section.  "The wild wall" as our guide, Lisa, called it.  This was my favourite part.Photo: Photo: Sarah burning down the track.  She thought she could catch up to me.  Nope.Photo: Now onto Delhi!  I enjoyed mixing into the crowd at India Gate, but we didn't blend in.  We were stopped many times by people looking to have photos taken with the foreigners.Photo: Exhibit APhoto: Sarah waited in line for a photo with this police guard in fancy dress.Photo: Then she stole all the attention.Photo: A night shot down Main Bazaar Street, where our first hotel was located. Reminds me a lot of Koh San Road in Bangkok, but much longer. It's loud, bustling and teeming with vendors. I though it was amazing, until I tried to sleep.Photo: Humayun's tomb in Delhi, apparently what the Taj Mahal is based on.Photo: At Lodhi Garden in Delhi.Photo: Lodhi Garden againPhoto: Photo: Daloo, you handsome camel.Photo: Sarah's camelback selfie.  Daloo ducked the camera.Photo: Everybody's taking a midday nap.Photo: Lunchtime at our campsite.Photo: The return trip the next morning was by cart.  I think all the guys were thankful not to have a second day of camel riding.Photo: We happened to be in Bikaner for the camel festival.  Here's Sarah with this year's Mr Bikaner, among others.  The festival, I gather, is largely a tourist event, and a chance for the locals to laugh at foreigners.  We participated in the foreigners-only turban tying contest (hopefully photos to come) and foreigners-vs-indians tug of war, which we lost handily.  We were then interviewed by about a dozen local press. Celebrities again.Photo: We made a brief visit tot the rat temple.  Because it is a temple, you must leave your shoes at the door.  Our guide claims it's the only one in the world.  I'd believe that.Photo: Gadsisar Lake was man-made, in the 1300s, in the middle of the Thor desert.  It gives you an idea how wealthy Jaisalmer was as a key point on the silk road.Photo: Taken for a row around the lake.Photo: You can see why Jaisalmer is called the golden city.  Everything is built from sandstone.Photo: Checking out the intricately carved Havelis,Photo: There are tons of street dogs everywhere we've been in India so far.  Most are a little skiddish, but quite friendly.  This guy came to see what Sarah's looking at on her phone.Photo: A cow joined our walking tour for a bit.Photo: The massive walls of Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur.Photo: A view from the top of the fort.  Jodhpur is known as the "blue city".Photo: Photo: Small marble shops stretch for kilometers along the highway to Udaipur.Photo: Picking up some refreshments for tonight from the beer store.Photo: A show in Udaipur highlighting traditional Rajasthani dance and music.  That's 11 pots balanced on her head.Photo: Rainy day in Udaipur and the palace is closed for a wedding.  Good day to hide inside and post photos.Photo: The whole group at dinner on a farm just outside of PushkarPhoto: The view on the other side of the fence.Photo: Having morning coffee with monkeys.  Feels like I'm back in the office.Photo: The reward of our sunrise hike in PushkarPhoto: Photo: Pushkar.  The hill on the right was our morning climb.Photo: The rusty-orange "pink city" in Jaipur.Photo: At Amber fort, Jaipur.Photo: Photo: Amber fort is a pretty spectacular placePhoto: Photo: The TajPhoto: Possibly my favorite photo of the tripPhoto: Photo: Sarah's enjoying the luxury seats at the back of the theatre for Jai Ho.Photo: This scene is not at all representative of the movie.  90% of the film was Salman Khan having war flashbacks, roaring like a lion, and throwing people through windows, in that order.  In between the window-throwing were a couple music videos, a recap of the movie Pay It Forward, and some scenes featuring an Indian Robin Williams look alike driving a tuktuk.  Clearly, it was awesome.Photo: An early morning boat ride along the ghats in VaranasiPhoto: Photo: Sarah's learning how sarees are made.  This one's a wedding saree, I believe.Photo: Sarah might be getting remarried in this photo.  That's definitely a wedding veil.Photo: There are a lot of well dressed goats in Varanasi.  Their table manners still need a bit of work though.Photo: At Sarnath deer park, the location where Buddha gave his first teaching after enlightenment.Photo: We stopped at a spice market in old Delhi and found Obama's doppelgangerPhoto: Photo: Qutub Minar, the symbol of DelhiPhoto: Trying the local cuisine.  That's a Chicken Maharaja Mac and a McAloo tikki burger.  I ordered extra beef on the burger, but it tasted suspiciously like potato.Photo: The street market in Karol Bagh.  On Mondays all the shops are closed, so the street is filed with pop up stalls and it's the busiest day of the week.Photo: Henna in a side alley in Karol Bagh.Photo: In Singapore now, taking the obligatory tourist photos with the merlion.  They don't let you leave the country without photographic proof of visiting this.Photo: The main street in the Kampong Glam neighbourhood of Singapore.Photo: One of many gorgeous beaches around Perth. I can see why people choose to live here.Photo: Photo's a bit rough but that's definitely a pelican behind us.Photo: Going for a walk in Cape Naturaliste,, south of Perth.  I was amazed how bright the natural colours are everywhere in WA.  The bright sunlight helps too.Photo: About to do some  audio-guided spelunking with Uncle Keith and Aunt SuePhoto: Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.Photo: Taking a walk among the karri treesPhoto: Some wild roos.  Sarah invited them over to say hello, but they declined.Photo: Sarah seems to be very excited about the prawns on the barbeque.Photo: At the top of Gloucester tree, a 72m tall karri tree used as a fire lookout.  Next photo is how we got up there.Photo: Climbing the Gloucester tree.  This was a pretty thrilling climb.  You can see there's netting on the side to stop climbers from falling over, but nothing but the climber below to stop you from sliding downward.Photo: Kayaking on Margaret riverPhoto: Some more amazing scenery near Margaret River.  There' must be thousands of km of beaches that look similar to this.Photo: ...And here's another one.  Near Denmark, WA, I think.Photo: We arrived in Melbourne just in time for the annual all-night cultural festival White Night.  Almost 500,000 people came to see street art and some indoor exhibitions.  This was about 10pm.  We came back at 6am and had it almost to ourselves.Photo: White Night early the next morningPhoto: We spent all Sunday searching out the best spot in Melbourne to watch the men's gold medal  hockey game.  I think we found it... a place packed with team Canada fans and serving poutine.Photo: Saw our first Aussie rules footy game.  The stands are mostly empty because it's preseason.  We rooted for the hometeam, Essendon, but it didn't help.Photo: Watching a penguin at St. Kilda pierPhoto: Saw another black swan at the pier too.  They seem to be fairly common in Australia.Photo: We took a three day roadtrip along the Great Ocean Road -- a narrow, winding road with no shoulders and an 80k speed limit most of the way.  But also beautiful views and dozens of lookouts/passing pullouts along the way.Photo: A beach at one of the scenic sites along the Great Ocean RoadPhoto: The 12 Apostles, one of the main highlights of the GOR.Photo: London bridge, another of the highlights.Photo: Stopped for a walk in the rainforest at Maits Rest in Otway National Park.Photo: More Maits RestPhoto: Found a koala hanging out along the roadside in Otway parkPhoto: In Hobart, going for a harbour sail with Glenn and Wendy.Photo: At the top of Mt Wellington, with a panoramic view over Hobart.Photo: This is the reward for hiking up to the lookout over Wineglass bayPhoto: This is the reward for continuing on.  Wineglass bay beach.Photo: Cradle Mountain national park.  We hiked up to the Marions lookout on the far right.Photo: It was a fairly nice hike.Photo: The view from Marion's lookout.Photo: Guess who we found on the way back!  A friendly wild (though clearly habituated) wombat.Photo: We've seen an amazing amount of animals in the wild, but not one of these guys.  We went to Trowunna wildlife sanctuary to see some devils.Photo: And look who else we found... another friendly wombat.Photo: Sarah liked her too.Photo: The kangaroos were all laying on their side, propped up on one elbow, generally looking as chill and nonchalant as possible.  Until I walked up with some food.Photo: Photo: Sydney!  We spent a couple days walking around Sydney, learning about the history of downtown and the Rocks especially, but were feeling like we'd seen enough tall buildings and museums lately.  So we headed to the beach.  This photo was taken from the ferry to Manly beach.Photo: And Bondi Beach!Photo: And back to the beach again for some surfing.  Attempted surfing actually - mostly falling.Photo: Took in a performance of the Magic Flute at the Opera House.  We sat in the Sudbury section of the theatre, next to a lady from Levack.Photo: Breakfast at the re:Start container city in Christchurch.  We spent a few days here, in a hostel that had just reopened a month before, taking in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes three years ago.Photo: The current state of Christchurch Cathedral, with rebuilding underway.Photo: A fairly common sight in Chch -- the rain-filled remanants of a torn down building.Photo: Lake Tepako observatory.  Looks quite a bit like the Okanagan.Photo: A postcard perfect view from a pullout on the road to Aoraki/Mt Cook national park.  It's pretty obvious why New Zealand's Maori name is Aotearoa - Land of the long white cloud.Photo: Walking to the Hooker glacier at Mt Cook parkPhoto: View was nice.  Water was a little cold.Photo: Clay Cliffs on the way to Dunedin.  Interesting fact - the name Dunedin refers to a phenomenon similar to being snowed in, but with shifting sand dunes.Photo: Moeraki boulders.  Formed naturally somehow.  Or maybe by aliens.  I read the info sign, but the only thing I remember is how neat it looks.Photo: The drive from Dunedin was 4 hours of sheep.Photo: The sign post in Bluff, maybe the southernmost tip of the South Island.  Maybe not.Photo: This was the view from one of our campsites.  Most of the DOC sites we stayed at in the South Island were equally amazing.Photo: On a boat cruise in Milford Sound.  Hard to see it with this low cloud, but Milford Sound has the most stunning scenery I've ever seen.Photo: More cloudy Milford Sound.  Apparently when it rains, waterfalls like this appear all along the fjord.  Another interesting fact, this one true, Milford Sound is a misnomer -- it's a fjord.  The next photo shows how much mountain is hidden above the cloud.  A lot.Photo: An hour later the clouds cleared up.  You can see the remnants of a cloud at about the same level as in the previous pictures.Photo: The drive out of Milford SoundPhoto: Kayaking in Abel Tasman national park.Photo: Photo: We found plankton floating by.  Lots of it.Photo: One of Sarah's many gnome shots.  This one has a nice view of the beach where we ended our one-way kayak trip and began the 3 hour hike back to town.Photo: View from the Abel Tasman walking trail.Photo: We went for a tour of Weta, the studio behind the special effects in Lord of the Rings.  These handsome chaps are guarding the entrance.Photo: Sarah telling important secrets to Gandolf.Photo: At the start of our 6.5 hour hike over the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, billed as NZ's best one day hike.  Mt Tongariro's on the left, the one on the right hiding behind a cloud is Mt  Doom!Photo: Photo: No need to go all the way to the summit when you can bring the summit to you.Photo: Mt Tongariro is a colourful place: The red crater...Photo: And the blue lakesPhoto: Sarah's got her racing face on for street luge in Rotorua.Photo: Zorbing: rolling down a hill in a big, wet, inflatable ball. A super fun 60 seconds, and another quick way to spend a lot of money.Photo: Also in Rotorua, a grove of California redwoods. This was apparently planted when the forest industry was trying out a few types of imported trees.  I guess they forgot to cut them down.Photo: Near the redwoods. No story, I just like the colours.Photo: Hobbiton!Photo: GET OFF MY LAWN!Photo: We spent the better part of a day in Coromandel watching dog trials. It was such a nice sunny day that one of the dogs stopped for a dip in the trough half way through chasing sheep.Photo: Cathedral Cove, which now ranks as the nicest beach I've been to.Photo: The other end of the beach at Cathedral Cove.   Go for a swim in that beautiful water and wash off the salt with a waterfall.Photo: Hugging the king of the forest, a 2000 y.o. Kauri tree.Photo: We decided to spend our last couple days with the van driving 6 hours up to Opononi to go sand boarding. SAND BOARDING! Definitely happy we did.Photo: Photo: Photo: Photo: Samoa!  This was home in the big island of Savaii for a few nights.Photo: Our beach-front fale comes with amazing ocean views, optional walls, and a 4am morning wake up call courtesy of the village rooster.Photo: Turtles!Photo: Giving my new buddy a consolation pat.  He says he likes his swimming with tourists gig, but sitll feeling a little down that he never mutated into a ninja.Photo: Launching coconuts at the Alofaaga blowholesPhoto: A drive around the lush Savaii.  This is the wide part of the road, before it narrows into a bicycle lane.Photo: Bus depot at Apia.  My favourite was a mural with the caption "I've out drown you".  Bon Jovi bus was a close second.Photo: The spectacular Papapapa-tai waterfall.Photo: We stopped for a second waterfall on the way to Lalomanu, at Sopoaga.  How could we not?Photo: Went for a swim in the To Sua ocean trench.Photo: The spectacular drive out to Lalomanu beach.  We passed rebuilt villages interspersed with overgrown ruins - the aftermath of the devestating 2009 tsunami.Photo: Stressful day at Taufua fales in Lalomanu.Photo: A nighttime fiafia at TaufuaPhoto: Pulled into pit lane for a beer refill.  Unfortunately, I had to fire this crew chief after he peed on the car.Photo: Sarah has figured out a much warmer way to build an InukshukPhoto: Photo: The view over the lush centre of Upolu, out to the north coast.  That's roughly half the width of the island.Photo: On our second day in Hawaii, we realized we'd yet to take a photo.  Here's Waikiki beach.Photo: Apparently wind-blown bees are a significant issue in Oahu.Photo: I love pineapple!Photo: The view from the top of Diamond Head craterPhoto: Found some turtles at Laniakea beach, on Ohau's north shorePhoto: First stop on the Big Island, Kilouea volcano!Photo: Kilouea at nightPhoto: Walking through the lava tubes in Volcanoes National ParkPhoto: Uh-oh, Sarah's being chased by lava!Photo: A massive Banyan tree near HiloPhoto: Look who we met up with in KonaPhoto: Pu'uhonua o Honaunau national parkPhoto: Photo: Waiting at the open-air Kona airport for our flight to MauiPhoto: Going for a walk in MauiPhoto: Next day, new hike. This time through the bamboo forest to Waimoku fallsPhoto: Waimoku fallsPhoto: At the top of Haleakala mountain.Photo: The path down into Haleakala craterPhoto: Waiting for sunset, back at the top of HaleakalaPhoto: Our last day in Hawaii and the last day of our 4 month trip.  We spent it at Big Beach...Photo: ...watching the waves roll in and watching them roll away again.