Tag Archives: beach

A Day in Dunedin

Hanna doesn’t have the fondest of memories of her time spent in Dunedin on our last trip. This university city is where she got the pleasant gift of pneumonia . She spent most of her days holed up in bed, so she didn’t see all too much of the city.

We planned only one full day in Dunedin this time around, so we needed to make it action-packed. Our first stop: the Otago Settlers Museum. Detailing the first settlers to the Dunedin area, this free museum was pretty cool. Our favorite part was dress-up:

19th-Century Dunedin Garb. These People Were Tiny as the Clothes Were Quite Small.

19th-Century Dunedin Garb. These People Were Tiny as the Clothes Were Quite Small.

Secret Service for Mr. Lincoln.

Secret Service for Mr. Lincoln.

While at the museum, we also managed to get a nice bike ride in:

Hanna and Her Old-Timey Bike.

Hanna and Her Old-Timey Bike.

The next stop was the most important. We had to go to the Cadbury Factory to see what chocolate was on sale. We did the tour last time and didn’t feel the need to do it again. The chocolate is actually cheaper at the grocery store across the street, but being the budget shoppers we are, we had to do a quick price comparison:

Dream for Mike and Caramello for Hanna.

Dream for Mike and Caramello for Hanna.

After a few bites of chocolate, it was off to the world’s steepest street. Mike climbed up on our last trip, but Hanna was on the verge of pneumonia and didn’t make the attempt. She was determined to make the climb this time. The street is about a quarter-mile long and really doesn’t look that steep from the bottom:

Ready for the Climb.

Ready for the Climb.

It takes about ten minutes to walk up, but we are proud to say that both of us made it this time:

Mountain Climbers.

Mountain Climbers.

View from Up High.

View from Up High.

Neither of us know how to drive stick, but we definitely wouldn’t want to learn on this street.

After a few more nibbles of chocolate, we regained our strength and drove over to the Botanic Gardens. We pretended we were botanists and took a ton of pictures of flowers (no, really, we did…Mike’s mom would be proud):

Taking Time to Stop and Smell the Roses.

Taking Time to Stop and Smell the Roses.

Taking Even More Time.

Taking Even More Time.

A third round of chocolate happened. We then decided to drive out to the Otago Peninsula to see what we could find. New Zealand’s only castle and an albatross center are on this peninsula, but our goal was to head to Sandfly Beach to find the penguins. Ten minutes of winding roads that hugged the water (sans guardrail) were enough for Hanna. Seeing as we rarely drive (and even more rarely drive on the left-hand side of the road), we decided to cut our losses and turn around. We found an easier road, and while we didn’t find penguins, we stumbled across a beautiful beach:

Empty Wide Beach.

Empty Wide Beach.

Chilly Mike. Definitely a Lot Colder Here than Australia.

Chilly Mike. Definitely a Lot Colder Here than Australia.

Kids Sledding Down the Sand Dunes.

Kids Sledding Down the Sand Dunes.

Go Away, Clouds. Our Tans Are Fading.

Go Away, Clouds. Our Tans Are Fading.

We really like Dunedin. It has a city feel with beautiful scenery (Hanna could do without the hills though), and we’re really glad we came back here. We stayed at the exact same hostel, though we didn’t read all seven Harry Potter books this time . The best part? Hanna didn’t get pneumonia!

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The Beach (But Not Starring Leo)

We are lucky that Kiwi Mike and Kylie live about a ten-minute walk from the beach. Almost every morning (after Hanna watches part of a 7th Heaven episode of course), we head down to the beach while Henry naps. Kylie comes too…Henry is fine by himself in the house. Five-month-olds don’t need supervision, right?

While this beach is beautiful, there is one drawback: in order to get to the beach, you have to walk over a sand dune and past a bushy area:

Sand Dune of Death. (Zoom in on the Green Signs on the Right.)

Sand Dune of Death. (Zoom in on the Green Signs on the Right.)

Kiwi Mike and Kylie neglected to tell us about the sign that says, “Beware of Snakes”. Hanna freaked out and wasn’t sure if she could make it over the sand dune. After some calm breathing, she ran as fast as can be over the dune and down to the beach. The reward was this view:

Beautiful Sand, Empty Beach.

Beautiful Sand, Empty Beach.

Luckily Hanna is calmer about this walk each day, and now she doesn’t even have to run. Baby steps.

Calm.

Calm.

The waves are powerful but not as strong as Bondi Beach. We have really enjoyed our couple of hours each day reading and wading in the water. The beach is pretty empty on the weekdays, so it’s almost as if we have our own private paradise (like Leo…see how we tied that all in? Geniuses.)

Yeh.

Yeh.

There can’t be a post that doesn’t include the kid:

Porcelain.

Porcelain.

Phuket Redux

When we were planning our route for this trip, we definitely knew we wanted to come back to Thailand. Phuket surprisingly held fond memories for us, so we knew we wanted to return. We, however, were slightly wary about whether we would like it as much this time around. After being here for four nights, we have determined that it was a case of RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME on our last trip.

Please keep in mind that we had been traveling for about two-and-a-half months before arriving in Phuket last time, whereas we now have only been away from home for about two weeks. We were missing some of the comforts of home (huge grocery stores! movie theaters! cable TV! good WiFi!) last time, but after returning this time, we aren’t in love with Phuket as much. Before you tell us to shut the hell up and enjoy the beach, we want to say that we AREN’T complaining…just tellin’ it like it is.

We have pretty much done the same things we did last time: relax on the beach, eat at Pizza Hut (twice), go see a movie (Captain Phillips), eat lots of Dairy Queen cones, and wander around the massive grocery store. While we aren’t scratching our eyes out to leave, we are 100% okay with leaving tomorrow.

There are definitely a lot more tourists here right now, especially from a certain country that is gearing up for the Olympics. While the beach is still pretty, it’s way overcrowded:

Beach Chairs as Far as the Eye Can See.

Beach Chairs as Far as the Eye Can See.

There were definitely a lot of chairs last time, but there were still wide stretches of uncluttered sand. This time it’s just rows and rows and rows of chairs without much empty sand. We pay 200 baht total (a little over US $6) for our two beach chairs for the day, and it’s totally worth it to keep Mr. Sun off of us. Mike has nightmares about the horrible sunburn he received here last time. The beach seats give prime viewing of the well-dressed beachgoers:

Gut and a Speedo: Winning Combination.

Gut and a Speedo: Winning Combination.

It's Hard to Tell, But He is Wearing a Speedo.

It’s Hard to Tell, But He Is Wearing a Speedo.

We are not trying to be mean; we are just sick of seeing men who have eight-month-pregnant (with triplets) bellies and tiny swimsuits. Some other things Hanna forgot to pack? A skin-tight white dress, a thong, and ridiculous high heels. No, we haven’t explored the craziness of Phuket nightlife as we’re too old and boring now.

Our five nights here have sealed the deal that Phuket isn’t on our list to return to any time soon. Oh well. You live, you learn.

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’.

The Days Feel the Same

Woke up at 11am.
Went to the rain-free beach for four hours.
Ate a late lunch from the grocery store.
Relaxed in the room for a bit.
Ate dinner.

Pictures:

Beautiful Blue Skies.

Parasailer and Umbrellas.

Today’s big milestone: Mike finished his first book (Dan Simmons’s The Terror which he bought for a quarter at a library book sale in Ohio) since leaving the States. Yes, his first book. Hanna has read SEVEN books, but he was always playing computer games whenever she was reading on trains or whatnot. He hopes to finish another book in the next three months.

Rainy Beach and Quiz Night

Well, we made it out of our room by 1pm. That’s a feat.

The beach was our destination, and we headed to the same set of beach chairs as last time. The kooky old massage lady immediately remembered us and said to Mike, “Oh!!! You come back! You get massage this time!” She then rubbed Mike’s shoulders and exclaimed, “You get massage today!” Being an equal-opportunity groper, she then patted Hanna’s arm too. We politely refused, and she went along her way.

We enjoyed about an hour of beach time before the skies started looking like this:

Threatening.

We’ve never seen the beach empty so quickly. Seeking cover under the massage lady’s huge umbrella, we decided to wait it out:

Mist. All of These Chairs Were Full Minutes Ago.

The downpour stopped ten minutes later, so we returned to our chairs. We were too optimistic: it started raining again shortly thereafter. We called it a day, got some lunch, and headed back to our room to nap.

Our big night out was Quiz Night at an Irish pub. The host was the famous DJ Doris. We totally expected a haggard-looking, busted old woman, but it turned out to be a tall, skinny Scottish guy. There were five rounds of ten questions. We kicked ass on the movie theme song round, but we didn’t do so hot on the 2010 World Cup or Famous Battle rounds.

The bonus round question happened to be about Mike’s most recent employer. Don’t worry: we got it right immediately. (It was quite odd because Hanna had previously joked that it would be funny if there was a question about said workplace.)

No, we didn’t win, but we managed to eke out sixth place out of ten teams. Not too shabby considering we did horribly on two of the rounds.

Yet Another Wet Day

In between bouts of rain yesterday, we managed to accomplish three things: hike up to the island viewpoint, sit on the beach for approximately twenty minutes, and enjoy the night entertainment at the beach bars.

The stone stairs up to the island’s summit felt like the Great Wall or Mt. Emei all over again. While the hike itself was only about twenty minutes, the stairs were steep…and it was hot and humid…and we didn’t bring water. The view at the top was worth it, and this quick video doesn’t fully convey how beautiful it is:

Uh...Self-Explanatory.

"It's Not Raining!"

We’re glad that the rain stopped long enough for us to make the trek up the hill. After a good lunch and a quick change into swimsuits, we headed to the beach:

Beach.

The weather looked okay, but we are easily deceived. Hanna swam, while Mike relaxed on a beach chair because he didn’t want any more sun exposure. (Don’t worry, caring friends. Vinegar works wonders, and the burn hasn’t hurt in days.) The rain came down in buckets minutes later. The walk back to our bungalow is only about ten minutes, but the stone-paved road turns into a dirt path. Mix dirt and rain, and it’s not so fun. Add in poor drainage systems, and you have flooded streets which everyone wades through.

The rain finally stopped around 9pm, so we headed out for dinner at the same cheap place we ate lunch. Hey, the calzones and chicken with rice were good. We then decided to check out the entertainment at the beach bars. Each one has fire-dancing shows which are pretty mediocre. Some guys are good at it, while many others just seem to drop their sticks every few seconds. (Then there’s always the one token white guy who just seems drunk…) The guys in the video below were the best we saw:

Our favorite bar activity was a huge jump-rope covered in neon lights. Crowds formed quickly to watch people take turns:

Jump-roping then turned into a limbo contest, and then we ended up dancing at the bar next door. As our luck would have it, the skies opened, and we decided it was time to head home.