Monday, February 25, 2013

Today

Today I spent a lot of time in the snow today. It was chilly, until I started shoveling... then I was super hot!



Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lots of Snowmobilers and Snow

This weekend has been really busy up at the lodge. We were booked full with members from the Cascade Snow Drifters snowmobile club up in Washington - an awesome group of people! However, I did a lot of dishes and I think my fingers are still pruned!

In-between all the dishes and cabin cleaning, I got to go skiing three times this week thanks to Mark! He took me up on the snowmobile, then I would ski down and he would meet me at the bottom, then he would take me up again. It wasn't the prettiest skiing (heavy powder, narrow paths, and grooved snowmobile tracks) - but I am so glad I got to go.

I took my GoPro up with me, so if I get a chance I'll make a short little video and post it on here.

It is gorgeous up here today... blue skies, a few clouds, and perfect snow outside. Here are some photos I took this morning when I turned off the generator. Oh. And our 4x4 Ranger broke so we are just using the snowmobile. Should be fun.




Wild Weekly Photo Challenge – Sunrise!

Coming from a ranching family, it is common to get up before the sun rises. Usually though, at this hour, I'm busy feeding the horses or cooking breakfast for the guests up here at Cornucopia Lodge so I never have my camera handy.

I do however have some sunrise photos that I truly love. And, to me, it wouldn't be a sunrise photo if you only saw one shot of the series.  Here are two "photo-series" of the sun rising both taken in Australia.

This first series of photos was taken during a visit to Uluru or Ayer's rock. While the tourists were busy watching Uluru change colors, I was snapping photos of the beautiful sunrise.  I love this because you can just barely seeing the sun coming up in the last photo. (Also if you look closely you might be able to see the heads of other tourists in the photos!)






These second photo sunrise series requires me to tell you a little story: Once I went to the Outback (of Australia) with ten other college-aged students. Somehow we came up with a plan to climb to the top of Mount Sonder at 2am, so that we might catch a glimpse of the sunrise. The eighteen kilometer hike reminded me that I am not a hiker, I am a horseback rider, but the blisters and sore muscles I got from Mount Sonder was totally worth it to see that sun come up over the horizon. Isn't it gorgeous?!









I’m participating in the online adventure travel and photography magazine LetsBeWild.com’s Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggers This week’s Challenge is: Sunrise, so get up early this week and take some shots of the sky!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Southeast Asia Video

I put together this little YouTube video. It's just a compilation of short videos I took while on my trip with Alexis. Hope you enjoy it!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Oregon o' Oregon

Leaving Hong Kong was a sad day because I truly love traveling! In the morning I headed back to the airport and Alexis met up with her China group. She will now spend five months teaching English in China - how awesome for her!

My flight from Hong Kong made a stop in Seoul, South Korea, where I had the chance to do a craft. The airport has several different "cultural stations," where international tourists can participate in local traditions. I spent an hour doing a hanji craft where I used mulberry paper (dyed green) to make a paper bowl. It was a super fun way to kill time in the airport and I'm really glad I got to do craft! I just wish more airports where like the one in Seoul, it would make traveling so much more fun.

The flight back to the USA wasn't terribly long, although I sat between a group of loud people and crying children. (And a man who smelled/acted terribly...)

I was happy to arrive in Portland, although I found it funny that I left February 15th and arrived February 15th. Got to love that international date line! So I've now lost my birthday over the IDL and repeated February 15th; funny how the world works.

At the Portland airport I grabbed a Jamba Juice while I waited for Lisa and Craig to come pick me up. Once at their house I was glad to grab a shower and happy to to climb into a bed and get some real sleep.

I slept till almost 11:00am this morning and it felt super great! Because I got up so late, I decided to just spend a day at Lisa's house, so I guess I'm technically still traveling. Tomorrow I'll drive home to Union then head up to the lodge Tuesday. I am so excited see my family and especially my dog! Once I'm home I'll upload some more photos to my blog, so be on the lookout for new pictures! (Especially photos from Thailand and my elephant ride.)



Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Symphony of Lights and a Last Day

Today was my last full day of traveling with Alexis ... so sad! Tomorrow I'll head off the airport and she will meet up with her group to go teach English in China for 5 months.  I'm not excited for tomorrow; first I'll fly from Hong Kong to Seoul, then from Seoul to LA, and finally LA to Portland, Oregon. That's a lot of flying alone and a lot of time spent in airports. Plus, thanks to the International Date Line, I'll repeat February 15th. Doesn't it sound like fun?

Today Alexis and I had come up with a plan, but in all reality it didn't work. We first caught the iconic Star Ferry across the harbor to the main Hong Kong island. We wanted to see the famous Victoria Peak and catch a view of the Hong Kong skyline, but the queue was over an hour long for tickets alone! After standing in line for (almost) all of yesterday we opted to not go up to Victoria Peak on the tram. We instead headed off of Hong Kong Island and over to Kowloon Tong.

Star Ferry
We stopped first to the LDS temple. It is rather square compared to most temples in Utah! After viewing the temple we headed to the famous 'Ladies Market.' I saw lots of really neat things I was tempted to buy some things, but the market was crowded and a little crazy. Once we wandered through the market it was time to go back to the hotel room and rest a little.

Such Fun Flowers!


After a lot of thinking, Alexis and I decided that going to Pizza Hut sounded like the best option for dinner. Little did we know that Pizza Huts are fancy here in Hong Kong. Not necessarily expensive, just very Italian and classy looking. It was fun to see a glammed-up Pizza Hut and I found it especially great that they were playing Italian opera music in the background!

One observation is that American's eat fast! The culture here seems to show that you take your time eating and enjoy the meal while relaxing. It's not usual for a meal to take over an hour and a half! However, I like to eat my food when it is hot, especially pizza! So, Alexis and I literally finished our meal before everyone around us who had arrived long before we did.

Once we devoured our pizza we went on the found for dessert. Alexis found a slice of strawberry and mango cake while I went for the rich chocolate mousse cake. We ate on the harbor and grabbed some front row seats for the Symphony of Lights show. The show is a synchronized light show set on buildings across the harbor with accompanying music. It was really neat to see and the buildings all had extra lights because of the Chinese New Year!





Now it's time for me to pack for my flight tomorrow. It's going to be long, but I hope everything goes smoothly and I make it back into the US without any problems. If I find wifi along the way I'll be sure to blog about my long journey back to the states.

I'm sad to be leaving Alexis, but I know she will have an amazing time in China and go on even greater adventures. I'm also jealous that she gets to see the Great Wall of China. Super jealous that I can't go see that! I'm sad to leave, but I'm really excited to see my family, my horses, and especially my dog Scout!

Before I forget, Happy Valentine's Day from Hong Kong!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Oh Big Buddha

Today Alexis and I headed to Ngong Ping near Tung Chung on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. When we started out this morning we had no idea how long the day would be! We have already waded through masses of people and today proved to be no different. We arrived at Lantau around 10am and headed to the Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride... then we stood in line for three hours... to buy tickets... we then stood in line for another hour or hour and half to get onto the actual cable car.  There was just so much standing involved and my feet really hurt now!

However, all of the standing turned out to be worth it! We rode the cable car up with some really nice people who took a photo of Alexis and I. Isn't it a great photo? Lantau Island is the same island the airport is located on, however it is a truly beautiful island and I didn't realize it.  I think I could live in Hong Kong if I found a place like Lantau (or any other green mountainous island). 


Alexis and I caught at glimpse of the Big Buddha before heading out to sea. We headed out on these small boats that managed to catch some serious speed! It was so much fun to go flying across the waves and get a better view of the island. You are supposed to be able to see dolphins, but sadly we did not. It might have been the wrong time of day or maybe we didn't head to the right stop, but the boat ride was still really fun even if we didn't see dolphins! 

Lantau Island
On the Boat
 After the boat ride we went to see the Big Buddha. The Tian Tan Buddha sits on a lotus and is about 112 feet tall, weighing in at 250 metric tons! Talk about a big buddha! Tian Tan isn't super old, built in 1993, but it is a really neat sight to see while in Hong Kong.


The Tian Tan Buddha is surrounded by six smaller statues, which are named "The Offering of the Six Devas." The are posed with different offerings, such as incense, fruit, and music. I thought the devas were really neat, especially because people kept throwing coins to them. I think it's lucky if you manage to make you coin land in the devas hands.


After we finished wandering around Big Buddha, Alexis and I went to the Po Lin Monastery then walked to the Wisdom Path. The monastery was under construction so we really couldn't see the outside very well, but the lower level was beautiful. I especially loved the stone carved dragons.



 It is a short walk to the Wisdom Path and I have to say this was one of my favorite parts of our journey. I have no idea what the trees say, but I would assume they have "wisdom" of some sort written on them. It was simply gorgeous with the mountain in the background.

Wisdom Path
Wisdom Tree
There were so many people around, but I managed to avoid getting tourists in my photos. There should be some award for cropping people of out photos.

Alexis and I also managed to find our statue for year of the horse. He looks pretty intense right?


After wandering the island we stood in line again to get down on the tram. This island was so nice, but standing in various lines for over five hours was not ok.  I loved this island and I hope to see more of Hong Kong tomorrow before leaving the following day to the US.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hong Kong Cup and Bruised Feet

Today Alexis and I went to the Sha Tin Recourse to catch the races and watch the Hong Kong Cup. I, of course, love anything to do with horses so I loved it! Due to the New Year celebrations the track was super crowded, but Alexis and I got in for free because we were international tourists! We also got a horse pin and had fun looking at all the race displays.

They had a lot of fun horse statue!
Somehow we managed to grab really great seats in the third row on the bottom section. I love to watch races and it was fun to explain horse racing to Alexis. (Hopefully she understood...) We also got stand against the rail and watch; something I think never really happens in the US! It was a really great experience!


The one downside was the super crowed MTR train and cray lines. I already managed to hurt my toe in Singapore and having it stepped on a lot didn't help. I think I've got some new bruises thanks to crazy Hong Kongians. (I know that 'Hong Kongians' isn't a real word... But what exactly do you call people who live in Hong Kong?!)

Before leaving the races Alexis and I got ice cream. It was delicious! I had two scoops, one was swiss chocolate and the other was creme bruele, they were amazing flavors - especially the creme bruele!

We walked around forever trying to figure out how to get a ticket for the MTR. Once we managed to find a ticket agent, which was harder than it should have been, we headed to the station and got packed into a train car like sardines. Thankfully people slowly got off at different stops and it wasn't so crowded by the time we reached our stop.

We finished out the day by walking around the Avenue of Stars. I managed to take some beautiful photos of the harbor and we saw a neat Chinese junk boat sail into the harbor!



 Alexis and I found it funny that we didn't know any people on the Avenue of Stars except for Jackie Chan. At least we recognized one person!

We finished the night by eating at an Indian restaurant. Yes , we really do love Indian food and have eaten it in every country!

However this country is turning out to be really expensive. More so than Singapore or anywhere else we had gone...


Monday, February 11, 2013

2013 Lunar Fireworks Display in Hong Kong

After a very early morning, Alexis and I arrived in the beautiful Hong Kong.  Tonight we joined 300,000 of our closet friends and watched the 2013 Lunar fireworks display at the Hong Kong Harbor! They were absolutely incredible and really stunning to watch! I was really glad that we managed to catch the fireworks show!  Here are some photos (and videos) that I took. The last video is the best because it's the finale!






Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Beach and the Rain

Every day we have been here in Singapore it has rained. Not just a little rain either... A lot of rain! Aside from the rain, Alexis and I spent nearly two hours in a taxi cue. On top of that our flight for Hong Kong leaves at 6:30 in the morning, so we must be awake at 4 am or so. Aren't you jealous?

Aside from those facts, Alexis and I made our way to Sentosa Island in Singapore today. The beach was gorgeous, but we only got to enjoy it for a short time. We both wanted to go swimming but a storm was coming so the life guards said no one was allowed to swim and everyone had to seek shelter. What the heck Singapore? I traveled all the way from the US and couldn't go swimming in the ocean.


One highlight of the day was ziplining at Sisolo beach! I didn't want to go by myself and Alexis didn't want to pay - so I decided I had enough money to pay for both of us. It was really worth it in my opinion! You zip line down a mountain covered in tropical plants then across the beach before landing on a connecting island. I just love ziplining so much! I used my GoPro and got a video, but you'll have to wait a while to see it. (I need the software on my computer that I left in Oregon.)


The storm was pretty bad, but Alexis and I found shelter in the Chili's restaurant at Resort World Singapore. There was a huge line, but we managed to jump the queue because we were willing to eat at the bar. After devouring a delicious quesadilla Alexis and I explored the resort. We found a crazy candy store... If everything wasn't super expensive then I would have bought some candy! We then went through a couple more shops before determining that the rain had subsided enough for us to go back outside.

We ultimately ended up going through the Panwala beach flower festival. I can now say I've stood on Asia's most southern point! The flowers were beautiful and I loved that we were able to get some great photos! There were helpful festival workers everywhere that took our photos. Otherwise we would have had some photos with me and some with just Alexis. Luckily now we have photos of the two of us!


I'm super tired right now because we stayed up late at the night safari and I know I'll be tired tomorrow when we have to get up really early!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari

Indian Mosque
Yesterday Alexis and I trekked around part of Singapore. We first found our way to 'Little India,' an ethic neighborhood in Singapore. It was really neat to see all the shops, gorgeous fabric, and mosques that Little India has to offer here in Singapore. Side note, the buildings in Little India are really bright colored and fun looking! After looking around we started to work our ways towards Arab Street.

Bright Colored Buildings in Little India
Arab Street is similar to Little India, but comprised of an entirely different ethic group. My favorite part of Arab Street was the 'Sultan's Palace.' It felt like we had just stepped into a scene from the Disney movie Aladdin - there was even a street named Aladdin!

After walking many miles (literally) we got a taxi to the Singapore Zoo, the world's best rain forest zoo! The Singapore Zoo is really neat in the fact that it attempts to display animals in an open and natural environment. One of the highlights for me was watching the White Tigers get fed. They can jump extremely high and they are so powerful!

We saw so many animals at the zoo and I wish that I could blog about them! There was just about every kind of animal there that would be imaginable! Yes - there were even horses there! (Of course I got photos of them... who would I be if I didn't find a horse in every country?!)

There was one exhibit which allowed you to walk inside a cage filled with bats, lemurs, and different exotic birds! It was really neat to be able to walk into the exhibit and see the animals up close and personal!


Around 2:30 in the afternoon Singapore decided that we needed a little rain. Although it wasn't a little rain. It down poured on us! The weather was so crazy and I thought that we might miss out on seeing the rest of the zoo, but Alexis bought an umbrella and off we went! Since almost everyone was seeking shelter it felt like we had the zoo to ourselves! Good thing most animals don't mind a little rain!

Once it was time for the Singapore Zoo to close we exited and headed to the Night Safari. I didn't really have a clue what this adventure would entail, but it turned out to be a really awesome experience! First we caught dinner and a fire-dancer show at the Night Safari entrance. (I also got my picture taken with an owl!)


Then once the night safari opened we headed to the 'Creatures of the Night' show. Somehow Alexis and I managed to get front row seats! It was a really funny show and I loved when they grabbed random people from the audience to come up on stage. There were even cute otters which taught us how to recycle by throwing trash away in the appropriate bins. Oh Singapore... you're great!

The night safari was such a unique experience! Alexis and I got to wander around and look at all the nocturnal animals that normally you don't get to see awake at a normal zoo. It was super awesome! We got to go in the cage with the bats and it was really awesome! Although on the way out I managed to catch my toe and cut it. So sad! But that's ok... it was worth it to see the bats!


After we wandered around we hopped on the night safari tram. The tram took us around the night safari and we got to see some really unique animals! The tram was fun because it takes you through different free-roaming habitats, so that animals are caged up. In other words - it's like a real night safari!  I think maybe this was my favorite thing in Singapore so far!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beautiful and Wonderful Saigon

Today was our last full day in Vietnam. This country is wonderful! Would I come back? Of course! The people are so nice and helpful and, although the streets are crazy crowded, it has been easy to navigate around Ho Chi Minh City.

Today Alexis and I started off by heading back to the French built Notre Dame cathedral. We really wanted to see the inside because it was closed on our last visit. The architecture inside is beautiful and the stained glass is also breathtaking. After taking some photos we heads across the street to the Central Post Office to book a water puppet show for the evening.

Inside the Saigon Cathedral
After finding a map we determined that going to the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens sounded like a great idea! It was a few blocks away but totally worth it! The ticket price was 8,000 Dong. That roughly translates to $0.38. Only 38 cents to go to the zoo!

In my mind I imagined the zoo to be small but it was actually rather large! Alexis and I saw zebras, lions, tigers, giraffes, monkeys, elephants, hippos, goats (that was a little random and strange to have in a zoo), ten species of deer, a whole lot of birds, otters, snakes of all variety and a ton of other animals. In the snake enclosure they had live food for the snakes to eat. Alexis felt really bad for one super cute bunny that would surely be eaten, but at least pythons swollen their prey whole then let their stomach do the work.

Zebra at the zoo in Saigon
It was super fun to see the zoo especially since it was decorated for Tet, the New Year!

After the zoo we grabbed a bite to eat at a cute cafe next to the Cathedral. I got a very fun colored Italian Soda that hit the spot! Alexis and I then went back to our hotel to wait until the water puppet show started.

What is a water puppet show you ask? It's a traditional Vietnamese... I loved the show and everything about it, for anyone going to Vietnam you simply must watch one of these! Even though it was all in Vietnamese, the music was beautiful and the puppetry was outstanding! It was one of my personal trip highlights!


I didn't plan on spending more money in Vietnam... But I really wanted a hammock so I got one. I think it would be fun to have in the summer up at lodge so if I had a break and wanted to relax I could lay in my hammock! Plus the hammock I bought it purple! I also bought I cute skirt and headband! I hate spending money but I am super happy with my purchases here!

Tomorrow will be an early day as we get started on our journey to Singapore!

Below you'll find a YouTube video of the water puppet show Alexis and I watched. This is only one act of many called the "Fairy Dance." Some of the acts were really funny - but this was a little more serious. Also - the beginning few minutes are pitch black, so don't worry if you don't see anything, just keep watching.