A Travellerspoint blog

Where the Wild Things Are

Our adventure continues...

sunny

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Sawubona from South Africa!

We are alive and well and now in our 8th country, 3rd continent and approaching our 7th month on the road! We all had a fabulous week in Perth, Australia thanks to our gracious hosts: Amy, Chris, lil' Oliver, Rodney, Clair, Victoria and especially our roommate John who put up with us all invading his home. Thanks to them, we are now fairly well versed in the rules of cricket, know the best fish 'n chips spot in Fremantle and are all huge Bombers fans (Aussie Rules team from Essendon).

We then hopped on another plane and headed due west (for 11 hours!) to Johannesburg, SA. We were fortunate enough to have a great guide and driver from our guest house, Patrick, who showed us around. We visited the township of Soweto, site of famous uprisings during the era of Apartheid and home to some of South Africas most beloved people (Desomond Tutu and Nelson Mandela among others). We visited the hauntingly powerful Apartheid Museum and even got to tour Nelson Mandela's home where he lived prior to being imprisoned.

We then drove northeast about 6 hours to Thornybush Game Reserve, a private game park adjacent to the famous Kruger National Park. We all quickly settled in to enjoy our first (and probably last) 5-star accomodation as a splurge we felt was worthwhile. We spent the next 3 nights and 4 days seeing and learning about the amazing animals, eating fabulous food and enjoying the beauty of Africa. Our daily schedule was up at 5 (!), coffee at 5:30 and then on to the open-air Land Rover for a sunrise game drive. Back for a hearty breakfast around 9, then time for swimming, relaxing until lunch at 1. Tea and coffee at 3:30 and then back out for another evening/sunset drive until about 7, followed by an amazing dinner. Brendan was our Ranger and Rexon our Tracker for our entire visit and we all enjoyed learning from them about life in the bush. We saw almost too many animals to count, but among the favorites were the White Rhino, an entire Pride of Lions, a Leopard and a surprising (and small) favorite, the Flap-necked Chameleon. The safari was a trip highlight that we will not forget...

We then returned to Jo-burg and flew southwest this time bound for Cape Town. We stayed for 6 nights in a small beach town south of the city called Scarborough. From there, we launched day trips to Table Mountain overlooking the city, Boulders Beach and its penguin colony and Simons Town. We are now 500 kms east of Cape Town, along the famous Garden Route in a town called Knysna - famous for its hiking, forests and resident sea creature the Sea Horse. This area looks a lot like Oregon and makes us all a bit homesick, but nothing that a good cup of coffee and a long hike won't cure.

On April 26 we fly to Lisbon, Portugal to begin our final 3 months in Europe. We miss you all and hope our Portland family and friends are starting to dry out from the long wet winter. Until next time....

Posted by kcrawf 08:41 Archived in South Africa Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Jellies, Didgeredoos and a Big Red Rock

sunny

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G'day from Australia!

We began the Australian leg of our adventure in the fabulous city of Sydney - the Opera House, Harbor Bridge and Toranga Zoo among our favorites. We were blessed by a family (Simone, Stuart, Alice & the twins) who welcomed us into their home after only meeting us once in a cafe in Kyoto, Japan! They helped us plan our 5 weeks in Australia - stops that included Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef, Darwin and Kakadu National Park, Alice Springs and Ayers Rock, then on to Perth on the West Coast. Each place is startlingly different from the last.

In Port Douglas we enjoyed having our own condo (out of the backpackers lodges - yippee!) with a pool and a short walk from the beach, town and harbor. We made 2 snorkel trips to the Reef, wearing stinger suits to keep safe from the jellyfish (it's a good look, really). It is truly an amazing coral reef filled with more fish than we could count.

In Darwin we learned more about the Aboriginals and animal life in the monsoon rain forest. We were awaken by Cockatoos from our "bush bungalow" and during our days watched dingos, wallabies, wild horses and a vast array of bird and insect life. After visiting so many of them, the boys are now creating their own "cultural centers" wherever we go.

Leaving the humidity (and welcoming the black flies) we flew to Alice Springs - the great Outback desert. Wearing fly nets over our heads to keep the buggers at bay, we hiked around the base of Ayers Rock (9.5 kms!) and through the spectacular Kings Canyon. On our drive out of the park we spotted a wild camel (there are 1/2 million of them roaming the desert here - who knew?)

Tomorrow we are off to Perth, our last stop before departing for South Africa. In Perth, we are once again blessed by the generosity of others with a place to stay and a car (thanks to Amy Jocker's niece Amy). We look forward to enjoying one more week in this bold and beautiful country.

Until our next entry, as the Aboriginals say - "boh boh" from the Outback...

Posted by debic 00:03 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (3)

Oliver & Emmett's Top 13 Best Things About New Zealand

The Kids have taken over the blog!

sunny

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We are in Australia now (see us in front of the Opera House?) but wanted to wrap up our 2 months in NZ with some of our favorites...

1. Exploring the Wellington BOTANICAL GARDENS

2. Reading "KAPAI THE KIWI" books in public libraries all over the place

3. Riding the LUGE in Queenstown

4. Going to the BAY OF ISLANDS and finding mussels

5. Visiting the Earthquake & Volcano exhibit at the TE PAPA MUSEUM in Wellington

6. Watching the Maori in their WAR CANOE in Rotorua

7. Going to AQUATIC CENTERS (big fancy swimming pools)

8. Cheering for the Wellington Hurricanes during their RUGBY game

9. Kayaking in CABLE BAY

10. Learning NZ birds: KIWI, Tui, Pukeko, Morepork & Kea

11. Riding BIKES around Nelson

12. Riding the snowcat and seeing Emperor PENGUINS at the Antarctic Experience in Auckland

13. Learning new Kiwi words like: jandals (flip flops), sunnies (sunglasses), LOLLIES (candy) and torches (flashlights)

We miss you guys and will see you all in 5 months (we're halfway!)...

-Oliver & Emmett

Posted by Oliverc 03:20 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Kiwis, Maoris, Bungys...Oh My!

sunny

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Cheers from New Zealand!

We are all fabulous down here and enjoying our second summer of the year. This truly is a land of jaw-dropping beauty and genuinely friendly locals have made us feel very welcome. January 17th marked our 100th day of travel - one third of the way through our trip. Oliver is busy with his homework, Deb is busy teaching him, Emmett is busy working on his letters and looking for cool keychains and I'm busy managing the budget. OK, so we're not really that busy (especially compared to our old lives) but we are certainly not lacking things to do....

On Jan. 24th, we left our cozy rental home in Nelson to take a whirlwind tour of the South Island. In 11 days, we drove 2350 kilometers and saw and experienced some amazing things. In Kaikoura, we hung out with a colony of seals. In Christchurch, we got up close and personal with real (and endangered) Kiwis and watched a traditional Maori performance. In Dunedin/Otago Peninsula, we saw Albatross soar and the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguins surf into their beach homes. In Te Anau, we stayed on a deer farm and took a cruise through the spectacular Milford Sound. It was raining (as it usually does in this area) and there were more spectacular waterfalls than we could count. In Queenstown, Deb and I took another sort of plunge, this one off the legendary 142 ft. Kawarau Bridge attached to Bungy cords - a thrilling way to take a dip in the river to say the least. The boys chose the luge (3-wheeled cart you drive down a mountain course) as their adventure sport. In Wanaka, we tackled the 1.5km outdoor maze at a wacky place called Puzzling World. And at the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, we did lots of tramping (NZ term for hiking) and finally made our way to the ice (at least to a big chunk that had fallen off the glacier). We ended our tour with a final swing up the West Coast back to Nelson and are glad to be "home". Yesterday we had the privilege of taking part in the seasonal sheep shearing on the farm of the family that owns our house. We all helped give haircuts to about 100 of the 39 million (!) New Zealand sheep.

We are here for 2 more weeks and then will travel around the North Island before heading for Australia on March 1st. We send our love and warm weather wishes to all of our family and friends.

Posted by kcrawf 14:56 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Down Under and Unpacking...

...At least for now

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Cheers and Happy New Year from New Zealand!

Thanks to our amazing families and friends, we had a VERY Merry Christmas in Mui Ne, Vietnam. Santa even managed to find his way to our little beachside bungalow. We gave some of our travelling toys and books to local kids from the fishing village nearby and we all shared a blessed and unforgettable holiday together. We spent a fun New Year's Eve in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam - our last hurrah in Asia after 3 months of travelling. We all enjoyed a street festival in central Ho Chi Minh City where the boys joined local kids trying their hands at various games and we toasted to a great year past and a fabulous one ahead with (believe it or not) Margaritas and Quesadillas. Despite the bombings in Bangkok, we boarded a flight on Jan. 1 and flew from Vietnam to Bangkok to then catch our flight to Auckland. The Thai people (at least the ones we spoke to in the airport) seemed unphased by the attacks and were refreshingly upbeat about the new year. 12 hours later we landed and although NZ is similar in many ways to the US, we have no doubt that we are far from home. It IS nice to once again enjoy some of the many things we take for granted in our safe little worlds- drinkable water, traffic signals (and drivers who obey them) and recognizable food. We rented a car and headed south, stopping at NZ's largest body of water, Lake Taupo and then to the southern tip of the North Island to Wellington. A ferry ride and bus trip later, we arrived in Nelson on the northern tip of the South Island - our home for the next 6 weeks. We've rented a house here and are enjoying some of the mundane things like cooking and laundry and unpacking. We are now in search of some cheap bikes, cheap groceries and cheap thrills - this is an expensive place (especially after Asia). We hope 2007 is off to a fabulous start for you all and might we suggest as an added resolution - meet us somewhere around the world! You still have 7 months to find us...

Posted by kcrawf 14:35 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (5)

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