Posts about Travel

You'll see the piranhas, and they WILL eat you (laughing) no! But really!

Posted by: Updated: July 6, 2012 - 4:47 PM

I feel like there is just so much to share! Jess and I can't believe it's been less than 3 days that we've been here it total-we both feel so comfortable... Well my Spanish is shaky, but hey that's an improvement over the nada :)

So we arrived at the safest and nicest district of Lima called Miraflores on thursday morning at 2am, to be greeted by the most smiley little man at the hostel Jess brilliantly booked for us. We eased into the backpacker's lifestyle by allowing for a hot shower on the first morning. We spent the day perusing Lima, making our way through Miraflores to the beach where we found a beautiful park called the "parque de amor." it was walled with mosaics sprinkled with love quotes and lovers names whohad stopped there. In the very center was a HUGE statue of two lovers really just going at it. It of course cliffed over the pacific, making for a fantastic view.

Back at the hostel, we encountered for the first time our wonderful host Francis, who took us on a highlighter filled and dizoning virtual tour of Lima. We mentioned that we wanted to go to the big traditional dance show in town, so his friend Hugo called to get us VIP seats because he had played the guitar in the band of the show for decades. This show was celebrating it's 50th anniversary!

There was a bullfighting dance of the show and the young guy who played the finder reminded me  of none other than the Peruvian friend of Madeline (who's name is slipping me right now-help?). But he came over to me to hold his hat while he fought and I have to say I felt particularly special -ha.

Howver, the best part of the evening didn't come till the end when we were adopted on the dance floor by 5 60+ old Peruvian women. They had definitely had their eyes on us all night, and had us going in one of those circles where a couple people jump in the middle to be the center of attention. They brought us over tothere table to meet their husbands and serve us some beer! Finally, one of them gave us their phone number and said "call me!"

Oh what a night! And the next morning was crazy in a hectic way: spent at the Brazilian embassy, where Jess's Spanish didn't help and I learned that Americans get over charged! Jess paid $65 while they made me pay $160:/. But they were nice enough to keep the embassy open a couple minutes late on a Friday for me so I could run and print my paperwork. By the time I got back to the hostel to meet Jess, she told me to pack in 5 minutes to go on a weekend trip to paracas while we awaited our passports from the Brazilian embassy in Lima. Alas, here we are, got here last night, and couldn't be happier than right now on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Pictures and details to come in the next post- get excited: I've added it to my honeymoon list...

Embracing the view at Huacachina

Embracing the view at Huacachina

Still in Panama airport...

Posted by: Updated: July 6, 2012 - 4:36 PM

 While Jess has been here for a whopping 7 hours and is slightly loathing me for my shorter layover ..... no not really .... but she is slightly delirious .... 

We're about to take off on our grand 2012 tour of SOUTH AMERICA! Starting in Lima, Peru - now some of you may be confused about the change of plans.... shhhhhh Jess says. Well apparently you now need something called a, um, VISA to get into Brazil these days. No, not the credit card. The thing that goes in your passport. Yeah. But good news! Peru trusts us more! So off we go to Lima, and we are perusing the good old Lonely Planet travel guide to Peru. Some real gems we are about to undertake.

I'll think we'll rent llamas tomorrow??? kidding but a real possibility!

We'll first explore Peru - Machu Picchu is only about 200 miles from Lima. We'll move North east to the Amazon when we cross the Brazilian border (with our visas and such) and then navigate our way back to the Chilean wineries via Bolivia. We'll end our trip in the party capitol of Brazil - a little fling in Rio. Stay tuned to our wondrous adventures!!!

Still in Panama airport...

Posted by: Updated: July 6, 2012 - 4:36 PM

 While Jess has been here for a whopping 7 hours and is slightly loathing me for my shorter layover ..... no not really .... but she is slightly delirious .... 

We're about to take off on our grand 2012 tour of SOUTH AMERICA! Starting in Lima, Peru - now some of you may be confused about the change of plans.... shhhhhh Jess says. Well apparently you now need something called a, um, VISA to get into Brazil these days. No, not the credit card. The thing that goes in your passport. Yeah. But good news! Peru trusts us more! So off we go to Lima, and we are perusing the good old Lonely Planet travel guide to Peru. Some real gems we are about to undertake.

I'll think we'll rent llamas tomorrow??? kidding but a real possibility!

We'll first explore Peru - Machu Picchu is only about 200 miles from Lima. We'll move North east to the Amazon when we cross the Brazilian border (with our visas and such) and then navigate our way back to the Chilean wineries via Bolivia. We'll end our trip in the party capitol of Brazil - a little fling in Rio. Stay tuned to our wondrous adventures!!!

Brisbane & About

Posted by: Updated: June 6, 2012 - 8:54 AM

I have been calling Brisbane, Queensland, Australia my home for the past 3 months and I haven't posted a blog entry about my Aussie home yet, so I thought I would give you all a tour. Or at least a look into my life here. 

 

This is the front view of my flat!

This is the front view of my flat!

 

It's got an exciting garden in the front. It's amazing with all the kinds of wildlife that visit - well, birds... that is. There are huge ravens that cackle outside my window in the early morning. There have been moments in the wee morning where I have wanted to hit them over the head and make them die. haha... Their voices are very aggrivating. 

Bush Turkeys are another one of my frequent visiters. I never did really like them, but I sort of started liking one in particular. He always walks on my fence. And he doesn't introduce himself calmly with me just glancing up to see him. He clutters by on the fence almost falling off and while catching his balance he frightens me (while I am unaware of his presence.) and makes me jump 4 feet off the ground. Uffda...

My bush turkey - I am still trying to think of a name for him.

My bush turkey - I am still trying to think of a name for him.

 

Brisbane is the 3rd largest populated city in Australia and it settled on the twisting Brisbane River. If you heard about the horrible flooding of 2011 in South-East Queensland, Australia, then you may not have realized that, that was Brisbane. It had been raining for weeks on end. I swear that it was the most rain I had ever seen. literally. I had never used an umbrella that much. The day that it started getting really bad was on January 10th, 2011 and that was actually the day that I was flying back to the States. I am glad I left when I did or I could have been stranded at the Airport or rather stuck in Australia for longer which would have caused issues with University. (Even though, I wasn't thrilled about leaving Johan and the warmer weather compared to our Minnesota Winters.) Throughout January and February I was worried about my friends and boyfriend back in Aussie. (So, yes... this was just a little backstory for you about the Brisbane River and 2011 flooding.)

taken from Google Maps. This is part of the Brisbane River.

This photo was taken from Google Maps. This is part of the Brisbane River.

 

One thing that many Non-Australian's tease Australians about is that their country was full of convicts, because a large number of the people who were brought to Australia in the very beginning were brought as convicts to lessen the pressure in the prisons of England. On the site below it states that 165,000 convicts were transported over the first 80 years. Then again there were also many people that came during a Gold Rush of 1851. It's so interesting to hear how people immigrate to their different countries. For some more info check out this site.

Just a few nights ago Johan (my boyfriend) and I went for a walk from Kangaroo Point and across Story Bridge. Anything near the river is beautiful at night. It is a must see if you are in the Brisbane. 

Brisbane at night in Black and White.

Brisbane at night in Black and White.

 

An exciting thing to do if you are in the Brisbane area is checking out the Story Bridge Adventure Climb (where you can actually climb on a guided tour on the bridge).

 

Brisbane Sun Setting. :) awe!

Brisbane Sun Setting. :) awe!

 

Here are a few of my boyfriend's pictures, below. :)

 

On Story Bridge facing the road... and... traffic.

©Johan Joubert  -  On Story Bridge facing the road... and... traffic.

 

Beautiful!

©Johan Joubert -  Beautiful!

 

 

Me and Brisbane with my blue pants! :)

©Johan Joubert -  Me and Brisbane with my blue pants! :)

 

 

Me and Johan! haha!

©Johan Joubert -  Me and Johan! haha!

 

This blog post was a bit shorter on the writing part, but filled to the brim with pictures. I guess the old saying is true about pictures being worth a thousand words. I hope you enjoyed these pictures of Brisbane. I will post again soon with more adventures "down under" as my sister, Cassidy will be coming to visit us in about 15 days! I am so excited to see her again! 

Check out my blog for more about my writing, and my adventures "down under".

And since I showed some of my boyfriend's work on here, go on over to his blog and check out his writing, photography, and art.

Cheers x 

Welcome to The Naki.

Posted by: Updated: May 24, 2012 - 6:21 AM

 I apologize for the lack of attention I've been giving to this blog, but I've been running around so much it feels like I haven't had much time to sit down and record some of my adventures. 

Last weekend however, I was invited to spend the weekend in Taranaki with a friend of mine from University. Taranaki is the region that makes up the western peninsula of New Zealand's North Island. The defining characteristic, being Mt. Egmont (Taranaki being the Maori name) which is a massive cinder cone in the center of the peninsula. The national park surrounding the mountain is almost a perfect circle, and the mountain is considered to be one of the most cylindrical volcanoes in the world!

Mt. Taranaki from the Dawson Falls car park

Mt. Taranaki from the Dawson Falls car park

Aside from the mountain, Taranaki is a relatively flat region given that most all of New Zealand is built into some sort of hill or incline. The region is known for it's farms and off shore oiling rigs. There's even a heated debate underway over the use of fracking within the region and the country as a whole.

While I was there, I stayed in the coastal town of Opunake, called "Ops" by the locals. Opunake has a population of about 1,500 and an even smaller feel to it. Farms run right up to the shore line and meet drastic cliffs that drop off into the ocean.

The edge of Opunake

The edge of Opunake

While I was there, I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the mountain as well as some other cool geological features that resulted from it's most recent eruption.

Dawson Falls. The falls were formed from pyroclastic flows following the last eruption of Mt. Egmont 250 years ago!

Dawson Falls. The falls were formed from pyroclastic flows following the last eruption of Mt. Egmont 250 years ago!

A hike up to the ski field on Mt. Taranaki

A hike up to the ski field on Mt. Taranaki

What truly made this a great weekend though, aside from the scenery was the hospitality I received. If you or anyone you know is planning on traveling to New Zealand anytime soon, I highly reccommend looking into farm stays. Staying on a farm is become a much more popular and accessible form of accommodation in New Zealand and really is a great way to connect with the country. My friend's farm was relaxing, clean and had an irreplaceable homey feel to it, something any traveler would appreciate.

View from the farm where I stayed.

View from the farm where I stayed.

We were even able to enjoy some roast sheep that was, to say it discreetly, fresh?

We also got to explore the larger city in Taranaki; New Plymouth. New Plymouth is a great hub for outdoor adventure and architecture that is very reflective of the region. A 12 km coastal walkway surrounds the town, with great views of the ocean, and if you're their at sunset, the colors are astounding. A highlight of our trek, and worth going out of the way for, was the Te Rewa Rewa bridge. Built to frame the mountain, it reflects the strong surfing culture of the region, and resembles a wave breaking over Taranaki.

New Plymouth's coastal walkway

New Plymouth's coastal walkway

Te Rewa Rewa

Te Rewa Rewa

As always, if you ever find yourself on the west coast of any landmass, take some time to watch the sunset.

 

An Exception to the Chinese Rule

Posted by: Updated: May 6, 2012 - 8:56 AM

 One of my favorite parts of our program here in Beijing has been all of the Chinese students I've gotten the chance to become friends with. Here's a profile of one of them.

“I don’t think she has any fun at all! I’ve known her three years now, and not once has she stayed out anywhere past 8 pm. Not even the library!” Li You is gesturing emphatically as she describes a roommate who she finds particularly boring, laughing at how dull the girl is.

Li talks rapidly in perfect, unaccented English, with no trace of hesitation or uncertainty. Her silver Tiffany’s bracelet jangles as she adjusts her green flannel shirt; both are souvenirs from her recent trip to America. Her black hair is cut in a sleek, stylish bob that sways with her as she explains how different she is from her roommates at Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics. 

“I’m not normal, I don’t want you to think all Chinese students are like me or that they all think like I do,” she said. “I’m different from most UIBE students.” It’s true that Li seems to have little in common with some of her classmates. They’re majoring in engineering while she dreams of being a journalist; they are homesick for their parents while she longs for American adventures; they refuse to even go out to a bar for one drink while Li loves going clubbing on occasion.

Even at birth, Li was already different from her future classmates. In a country of only children, she was born in the Fujian province as the second daughter to a Xiamen businessman and his wife. “My parents really wanted a son, so they had to pay large fines for violating the one-child policy when both my younger brother and I were born,” Li explained. She spent much of her childhood fighting with her older sister and younger brother, an experience very different from her northern roommates’ solitary upbringing. 

Once she started school, Li’s gift for academics continued to differentiate her from others. Even in elementary school, her teachers recognized her exceptional intelligence and eagerness to learn; she was constantly being encouraged to consider more advanced classes. She was only in primary school her father gave her a biography of a Chinese girl who had traveled all the way to America to study at Harvard.  Even as a child, Li was a voracious reader and finished the book in a matter of days. From then on, she said, America was her dream.

Knowing that she would need top grades to do all that she wanted to, Li continued to impress her teachers. She tested into her province’s most prestigious middle school and high school, which was more than an hour away from her family’s house. Because she lived on a boarding school campus from the age of 13, she said she became used to being away from her family at a young age.

Neither of her parents went to college, because they grew up during the Cultural Revolution when all schools were shut down. Though her father became a successful businessman even without university training, Li said, “My parents made it a priority to give me and my siblings the opportunity to attend university.”

When it came time to pick a university to attend, she knew she wanted to go even farther away from home than her high school. She had originally wanted to go to a university in America, but her dad deemed that to be a bit too far, so she settled on Beijing instead. Li loves her family, but like many 21 year-olds, she appreciates the freedom that being so far from home gave her. “If I had stayed by my family, I still would’ve had a curfew,” she said. “They would have their own opinions about people I was dating and everything else I was doing.”

Out of the realm of her parents’ supervision, freshman year of college was a time of exploration for Li. “That was my first taste of freedom, so I did a lot of rebellious things I would never have done in high school,” she said. “I even learned how to smoke cigarettes, though I only do that every once in a while. I enjoy my life here in Beijing, I can do what I want.”

It was her junior year of college when Li finally got to fulfill her dreams of visiting America. She spent half a year doing a study abroad program at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale that broadened her views of the world. It didn’t take her long to adjust to American culture. Shortly after her arrival in Illinois, Li was learning American idioms, partying with American friends, and even dating an American boy. She said she found that some of her views changed during her time in America.  

Li said, “I began to question small parts of Chinese life that I’d never thought of before.” In China, it’s fairly common to see a guy walking around carrying his girlfriend’s purse; it’s simply considered the polite thing to do, similar to the American tradition of men holding doors open for women. Li was confused at first when the American boy she was dating didn’t carry her purse, but her roommate explained to her that American boys didn’t really do that. Li said, “I got used to it, and now I just think it’s so weird when I see boys carrying their girlfriend’s purses here in China. I never would have thought that before.”

That was a minor example, but Li found her perspective on bigger issues changing as well. Her whole life, she was taught that proper Chinese girls follow certain societal rules. In America though, Li discovered that it’s hard to have any fun if you follow all of those rules. Her face flushed and she became visibly irritated as she lists off things her roommates and most Chinese girls consider taboo. “They won’t drink any alcohol, not even one drink,” she explained. “They would never ever get drunk. They don’t dance. They don’t wear makeup.   They don’t stay out late. They don’t have sex before marriage. They won’t do anything fun!” 

Although she had been starting to feel annoyed with her “boring” roommates even before she went to America, Li’s time in Illinois solidified any doubt she had. “I want to continue to travel and learn more about the world outside of China now,” Li said. She is currently studying for the GRE and plans on applying to American schools for graduate programs in journalism. Her father was hoping that she would use her accounting major to move back home to Xiamen and get a job there after graduation, but that is not what Li has in mind. 

“He didn’t want me to pursue journalism because he doesn’t think I can make money in that,” she said, but Li said she told him that she was determined to do it and wouldn’t change her mind. Finally, her father relented, saying that if she was set on doing it, he wanted her to “try her best” at it. 

Although she wants to go to graduate school in America, Li says that she plans on returning to China after graduating. Unless of course, “I fall in love with an American or something crazy like that.” Then for a moment, Li’s perpetual cheer turned serious and she said, “China will always be my home. I want to see the world, but I know I’ll still want to come home in the end.” 

*Note: The student's name has been changed to protect her privacy.

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