Category Archives: Transportation

Look Up! Miles/Hours Traveled (2013-2014 Trip) FINALIZED

Before leaving on our trip, we vowed to be good about updating the section of our site that documents total miles and hours traveled. Want a laugh? We never once updated AT ALL while traveling. Whoops. No, these travel times are not made up. We did keep track of the total times during the trip.

We finally got around to finalizing everything, so without further ado…

Click here to see the final tallies.

Obviously we did not come close to our tallies from the 2010-2011 trip. We, however, are proud of the fact that in about four months, we traveled over half of the total miles from last trip. Impressive, no?

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Step Two: Apartment

About thirty-six hours passed between signing the papers on our new car to hitting the road. We don’t waste any time. Mike was in the driver’s seat for the trip from Spokane to Seattle, and Hanna played DJ (which means she listens to about thirty seconds of a song and then skips to the next). We had a nice introduction to the weather we will be expecting in Seattle; it pretty much drizzled during the whole five-hour trip. The drive turned slightly scary in Snoqualmie Pass (think mountains and lots of wind) when it started snowing. Please keep in mind that a) we just bought a new car, and b) we rarely drive in snow. As we were able to write this, we obviously persevered. Sure was a pretty view once the snow ended:

Washington or New Zealand?

Washington or New Zealand?

After making it to Seattle, we began our apartment search. Apartment-huntin’ is a bit different in Seattle. In New York we would typically go to a broker, ask to see no-fee apartments, and then view a bunch of apartments in a single day. This ease doesn’t seem to exist in Seattle. Most rentals are found on Craigslist, and you sit…and wait…and wait for someone to call or email you back. We sent countless emails and left a billion messages for people. Good times.

Over the course of three days, we saw about ten apartments. We got super excited about one in particular. We had a 1:45pm appointment to view it, and the woman called us at 1:28pm to say that we could come early because no one showed up to the previous appointment. By the time we arrived (literally like three minutes later), the stupid dummies who were late had just arrived. The apartment was in a great Queen Anne location (walkable to a grocery store and many shops), had two bedrooms, and was a decent size. We knew we wanted this place…but so did the couple who showed up before us. Since they did get there first, the apartment was theirs. We hate them. We left there in a mopey mood.

The owners of the last apartment we were going to see were holding an open house from 2-3pm, and we got there around 2:45pm. Upon walking into this place, we (Mike especially) knew that we wanted it. Two bedrooms! Patio where we could put a barbeque! Dishwasher! Washer and dryer IN the apartment! Full bath upstairs and half bath downstairs (yes, it has an upstairs and a downstairs)! Free parking space! Storage closet in the basement! While these amenities may seem standard to some, these things are gold to New Yorkers. This just felt like a grown-up apartment to us.

Another couple was finishing up their tour, and we assumed they would get this place. The woman was pregnant, and this two-bedroom apartment seemed perfect for them. We patiently waited for them to say goodbye to the owners, but to our utter surprise, this couple DIDN’T fill out an application. They said that they would email it. We ran over, chatted with the kind owners, and filled out an application on the spot. We were the last ones to see the apartment, and we left there feeling pessimistic. Even though we explained our jobless situation, we thought that this apartment would definitely go to someone else.

As we were driving back to Hanna’s sister’s apartment, the phone rang. It was the owners of the last apartment. They were pleased to tell us that the place was ours. You don’t even know how excited we were. We zoomed over to the owners’ house where a “WELCOME, MIKE AND HANNA!” greeted us on their front door. We chatted and filled out the paperwork, and the apartment was ours. Officially ours.

Wanna know what we are doing today? Moving in. We are bringing all of our stuff from Spokane to Seattle today, and we are proud to say that we really do have a place to live.

We Don't Have Any Pictures of Our Apartment. Enjoy This Sunny Day in Seattle Instead.

We Don’t Have Any Pictures of Our Apartment Yet. Enjoy This Picture of a Seattle Park on a Sunny Day Instead.

Step One: Car

Now that our trip is over, it’s time to face real life again. We are hesitant to accept this fact, but it’s been a bit easier this time around. When we returned from our last yearlong trip in the summer of 2011, we visited our families and then went back to the same apartment in New York. As we didn’t have jobs, we left the air conditioners off during the day and pretty much sat in the sweltering dark while job-searching. We had a bit of a hard time adjusting back: we spent a year having wonderful experiences, but once it was over, sometimes it felt as if the trip never happened.

Since our trip that just ended was only a few months, it hasn’t been as hard. Moving to a new place makes it feel like a new adventure is starting. Though we do miss our friends in New York, we are excited about our new lives in Seattle. Shiny optimists we are…

Upon returning to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, we knew we had three steps: car, apartment, job. Some might say that the third step should have been our first priority, but in order to get from Hanna’s parents’ house in Spokane over to Seattle, we needed transportation. We will not bore you with the details of car-shopping as no one really LIKES car-shopping, do they? If you are one of the few, we will let you pick out our car next time.

Since neither of us are car aficionados by any means (and have not driven on a regular basis in over ten years), Hanna’s dad kindly tagged along. We had absolutely no preferences: color, type of car, new vs. used, etc. All we wanted was a reliable car that had a decent amount of sitting room. Picky, aren’t we? We looked at about five dealerships and discovered that a new car is not that much more expensive than a used car. We would rather rely on a warranty than worry about having to put time and money into an older car.

Since we are such massive Psy fans, we knew which car we wanted to buy:

Yup, that’s right. We bought a hamster car–a Kia Soul. This guy even sold it to us:

Hamster, James Hamster.

Hamster, James Hamster.

We have owned it for a little over a week and have been super happy with it so far. It’s weird to own a car. We still feel like it’s a rental. Guess we’re growing up…

We Don't Live in New York Anymore. We Own a Car. Who Are We?

We Don’t Live in New York Anymore, And We Own a Car. Who Are We?

Game Plan for New Zealand

We’re now kinda sorta back to real time again on the blog. We left the Sunshine Coast on Tuesday and flew to Christchurch. We luckily got bumped up to an exit row of three seats: Mike on the aisle, Hanna in the middle, and a random thirtysomething Kiwi guy by the window. What should have been an easy three hour flight in which Hanna got some shuteye was anything but.  Kiwi guy sat spread eagle the whole flight (granted he was quite tall) and fell asleep immediately. He breathed through his mouth, took up the whole armrest, and inched his entire right leg into Hanna’s space.  Seriously his entire leg took up half of Hanna’s foot space. Needless to say, Hanna audibly sighed a lot, muttered bitchy comments, and took up half of Mike’s space. Awesome.

We have two weeks on the South Island of New Zealand, and boy, are we ready to drive. On our last trip, we took our time going down the East Coast only to be derailed by Hanna’s pneumonia. We had basically a week to speed up the West Coast, so on this trip, we will attempt to see what we sped by last time.

Our Chariot. It’s a Toyota Vitz, But Mike Keeps Forgetting and Calling It a Yitz.

Our Chariot. It’s a Toyota Vitz, But Mike Keeps Forgetting and Calling It a Yitz.

Our goals this time around? Discovering the beauty of Milford Sound on a cruise, doing some sort of adventure in Queenstown, actually seeing more of the glaciers, relaxing in thermal springs, swimming with wild dolphins (Mike only…Hanna’s worried about getting seasick on the ride out), and seeing more sheep. We won’t have WiFi everywhere we go, so posting might be sporadic. We shall see.

Our first drive from Christchurch down to Dunedin included a stop at a cookie factory:

Huge Bag of Broken Cookies for NZ $6.50 (About US $5.40).

Huge Bag of Broken Cookies for NZ $6.50 (About US $5.40).

Hanna Enjoying Said Cookies in the Yitz.

Hanna Enjoying Said Cookies in the Yitz.

Off to a good start, right?

Welcome to Sydney

Well, now that we have been in Australia for over a week, you finally get to hear about it. Don’t you feel lucky? The eight-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney really wasn’t bad at all. We passed the time by reading, napping, and fighting with the flight attendants. Mike had pre-ordered a dinner that seemed to go missing, and they had no other explanation for it other than “Uh, I think it’s in the front of the plane….and, uh, it would take a while to search for it. We will get you something else.” About twenty minutes later, Mike was given a container of soggy seafood rice. Better than expected, but still. He wanted his chicken masala. Thank God this happened to Mike and not Hanna. No one screws with her food. Hell. To. Pay.

We arrived in Sydney around 9pm and quickly glided through Customs. Citizens of certain nations (United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand) don’t have to wait in any line or speak to anyone at Immigration as they have machines where you just scan your passport. This shocked us but was a welcome relief. We dashed through while complaining that we didn’t receive a passport stamp.

On our last trip, Sydney was one of our favorite cities, and we are proud to say that it did not disappoint the second time around. We had a week to spend, so we decided to buy unlimited transit passes (bus, train, tram, ferry, etc.). This worked out swimmingly because we were staying fifteen minutes outside of the city. We decided to take advantage of the passes and see as much of the city as we could. Novel idea, huh?

Our favorite part of said passes was the ability to take commuter ferries to various parts of the city. We didn’t really have a plan for each day but would begin with a round-trip ferry ride. Watsons Bay? Sure. Taronga Zoo? Yup. North Sydney? Of course. Each round-trip ride would last between thirty minutes and an hour, and we enjoyed every second. No seasickness was felt, and these ferries were prime suntanning locales.

First Picture Taken of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

First Picture Taken of Sydney Harbour Bridge. There Are a Million Others.

Circular Quay (Our Starting Point for Most Ferries.)

Circular Quay (Our Starting Point for Most Ferries.)

Nothing Big: Opera House. Bridge.

Nothing Big: Opera House. Bridge.

Mike's Massive Head Dwarfing Hanna and the Opera House. (He Tells Himself It's the Angle.)

Mike’s Massive Head Dwarfing Hanna and the Opera House. (He Tells Himself It’s Just the Angle.)

City from Afar.

City from Afar.

Close City.

Close City.

Prepare yourself for lots more pictures taken from boats because that’s where we spent a ton of time. We have millions of pictures of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge from all angles. You see them both and can’t NOT take pictures for some reason. You’ve been warned.

Ferry Easy Travel to Phuket

We spent five relaxing nights at the beach resort in Krabi, and we got quite used to our easy days. You only get two blog posts about our time there since our goal was relaxation…and relax we did. It’s hard being unemployed with nothing to do but read by the pool. Alas we had to say farewell to our luxury life and make our way to Phuket.

A van (complete with DVD player and such bootleg DVDs as Despicable Me 2 and inexplicably Mariah Carey: Live at Madison Square Garden) picked us up and brought us to Ao Nang pier. We were a bit early for our ferry, but that gave us enough time to take pictures:

A Sea of Longtails.

A Sea of Longtails.

Still Can't Get over the Rock Formations.

Still Can’t Get over the Rock Formations.

We boarded our ferry and headed out to sea. Mike sat on a bench on the back deck, while Hanna (in an effort to combat seasickness) sprawled on the deck. About fifteen minutes into the ride, we pulled up about one hundred feet from shore…and waited…and waited. Finally boatloads (literally) of people pulled up alongside our ferry and boarded. We had the pleasure of waiting for more boats. This added a good hour to the trip. We, however, weren’t complaining: we each were listening to iPods and chillaxing in the sun. (The word “chillax” is an absolutely stupid word.)

The trip took about two-and-a-half hours, and we were entertained by a guy who smoked seven cigarettes (Mike kept count) and his wife who wore booty shorts with no underwear. Unfortunately Hanna’s eyes won’t forget what she saw. Remember, folks, Hanna was laying on deck.

We are happy to say that Hanna did not get sick at all on the smooth water, and we pulled into Phuket in good spirits. The mini-bus to our hotel took some time, but we made it to our hotel in one piece. We are staying at the same place we stayed last trip. Seems pretty much the same (good WiFi and air con, cable TV that plays Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City nonstop, quiet enough). More deets about our days in Phuket to come…

Island Day

So that you do not accuse of being lazy bums who just sit around by the pool all day, we are proud to say that we took a day trip while staying in Krabi. Being the rich kids we are, we chartered a private yacht…and by that, we mean a longtail boat that pulled up on shore outside the resort. We decided to hire a private boat for just the two of us vs. a huge tourist boat full of annoying people. The only annoying people we tolerate are ourselves.

Not Our Boat...But You Get the Idea. Ours Had a Canopy Because We're Fancy.

Not Our Boat…But You Get the Idea. Ours Had a Canopy Because We’re Fancy.

Hanna was slightly nervous about getting seasick during the forty-minute ride to Hong Island, but a couple pills and years spent in a fishing boat on the lake do wonders. The ride was bumpy, but we made it. No vomit here.

View from the Boat.

View from the Boat.

We pulled into shore and were greeted by boatloads of tourists, namely Russians. We knew that this wouldn’t be our own private island, but we figured we should get away from the resort and do something. We escaped sitting by the pool all day and instead sat on the beach for a few hours. Our favorite thing about the beach were the views:

Russia's Next Top Model: Geriatric Edition.

Russia’s Next Top Model: Geriatric Edition.

Two Posers for the Price of One.

Two Posers for the Price of One.

Nice Shorts.

Nice Shorts.

Work It.

Work It.

We did not realize how many models were on this one island. Apparently we missed the memo: arrive to tourist island wearing ill-fitting swimsuit, spend fifteen minutes rolling in the sand posing for pictures, and then switch positions with your partner so that they can model it up as well. No one cared about just swimming or reading a book; awkwardly posing for stupid pictures was the only thing on these tourists’ minds.

Mike got in on the action:

Always Point Your Toes.

Always Point Your Toes.

Oh yeah, there was some beautiful natural scenery too:

Hanna's New Favorite Pic.

Hanna’s New Favorite Pic.

The Quiet Part of the Lagoon.

The Quiet Part of the Lagoon.

Beautiful Cliffs.

Beautiful Cliffs.

Our boat captain then drove us around the island to a more private lagoon. We know that most tourist boats end up here, but there were only about four others while we were there.

Limestone.

Limestone.

Private Lagoon. We Jumped into the Water and Swam for About Ten Minutes.

Private Lagoon. We Jumped into the Water and Swam for About Ten Minutes.

For a five-hour private boat rental, as well as national park admission to the island, we only paid about US $65. Money well spent to have the freedom to be on our own time schedule.

Practicing Posin'.

Practicin’ Posin’.