American Southwest Family Vacation

We followed historic Route 66 on our way to see the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert, plus much more in New Mexico and Arizona.

End of Tour Summary: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Here are our stories from two and a half years of living in Saudi Arabia while exploring the region.

Excursions to Oman

On two different trips, we strolled Muscat, hiked Wadi Shab, and sailed a dhow through the fjords of Musandam.

Our Expedition to Jordan

Highlights included tracing the steps of Indiana Jones into Petra, following Lawrence of Arabia into Wadi Rum, and floating in the Dead Sea.

Our Adventures in Sri Lanka

Safaris to spot leopards and elephants, swimming in the Indian Ocean, sipping tea in the mountains, and several more!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Island Hopping

My watch alarm went off at 0700, and we were on the move. At 0740, we pulled out of the motel parkingly and drove to the ferry terminal. Rather than pay a lot of money to take the rental car across, we're dropping it here and getting a new one there. However, it's now 0800, our ferry leaves in a few minutes and there is no sign of the rental car agent. So, we dropped the keys in the box and hoped for the best.

We boarded the ferry, previously christened "Spirit of Cherbourg," as the raised letters were still visible beneath the whitewash coat...even though the boat's new name was painted in blue over the top of the old name. Seemed like a sloppy way to remane a boat, like painting "Walmart" over an old "Target" sign. The first stop was breakfast in the cafeteria, and we were able to get a table with a window view. So we stayed there for the entire three-plus hour cruise. I used the time to catch up my journal, stopping every so often to look at the dark green mountains crashing into the clean water under the sunny blue sky. It seemed like an endless series of undulating ridgelines just kept on rolling by. Kacey thought she saw a dolphin, but I didn't see any.

The ferry landed and we claimed our backpacks from a carousel like they use at airports, but it was chock full of everyone else's backpacks, too. We picked up our car, which had been upgraded for free to a sporty silver job that handled and felt so much better than our previous car on the North Island. We followed the scenic Queen Charlotte's highway across thr north coastline, winding in and out of bays on roads that had more curves than any I can remember driving. With much less traffic on the South Island, it was much more fun to drive. Almost car-commercial quality of driver enjoyment.

We stopped in Nelson for food, a turkish place that served the veggiest falafel kabobs I've had and used the uncommon "bench seat around a long table" configuration. You could probably fit 12 people on the cushions and a fancy spread in the middle. The kabobs weren't the best, but they hit the spot. We drove a little more: Motueka was today's destination. Stayed in the Abel Tasman hotel, which looks like a restaurnat that was converted for lodging. And it was now getting very cold. We walked the length of the town in about 20 minutes, up and back looking for a place to eat. There's a KFC, but we chose a diner called 'Mooring.' The interesting feature here was that you order your meal at the counter after taking your seat. The order of operations seemed all wrong, but we suppose it's due to the lack of manpower in town to fill waiting jobs.

The sunsets here are gorgeous, purlple & pink in the northern sky. Very small town, but the scent of wood fires also lingers in the air. We got our stuff laid out for tomorrow so that we could sleep in as late as possible tonight/morning. With it turning dark so early, it feels much later since three hours after sunset could be 8pm here or 10pm back in the northern hemisphere. But the air and water are so much cleaner, I'll take being tired so that I can enjoy them.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Wellington

We slept in until 10 am or so, our last day with that kind of flexibility for many days to come. We had a meal in the hotel's cafe, your average short-order breakfast. We walked a few blocks to the Museum of Wellington City, built in the old bond house (now defunct). It had a history of the city and its maritime stories...such as the Wahine ferry disaster, which sank in the harbour. The perfect story to preface our trip across the sea to the South Island tomorrow.

We walked along the harbor docks to Te Papa, the museum of New Zealand. There were lots of people out running there and it seemed like a good place for it. We got to Te Papa and had lunch in the museum cafe. With a nice salad and chicken pie in my stomach, we walked through the description of how New Zealand formed, was populated, and has changed through the years. Saw a surf board decorated completely with puau shells. A giant fishing lure, really, but very pretty. We also were able to walk through an exhibit on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, filmed right here. I was hoping for some site locations, but that seems to be another tourist offering, tours all over the country. It was dark when we got out of the museum, so we walked to the pedestrian mall and found a great hole-in-the-wall Malaysian restaurant on Ghusee Street called "K K Malaysian" serving Roti Chanai and fried rice. Delicious. The dining room walls were a mottled brownish curry color that masked the industrial metal girders that cut across one whole side of the place.

Some careful navigation through the city streets back to our hotel. We then drove over to the ferry terminal to verify that our game plan for tomorrow was workable. It seems that it is, so we returned to the hotel, only minutes away. We closed the day by doing laundry and having a beer (Tui) in the hotel bar while the patrons played some sort of speed-pool, trying to clear their table faster than an opponent on another table. Meanwhile, our laundry cooked itself dry. I nearly burned my fingers on the clothes as I pulled them out of the dryer. We took our piping hot clothes back to the room & packed our bags to be ready for our 0755 showtime at the ferry in the morning.

Did I mention that the bed is so soft and lacking support that it fells like I'm sleeping in a taco shell? Or a bathtub, shapewise.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

On to Wellington

Woke up at 0700, breakfast at 0800, on the road around 0900. Our trip south took us through Tongariro National Park, where we would have been hiking if the weather had held. Mount Ruapehu and Mount Tongariro loomed over a flat desert that was starkly different from the green we'd been seeing. At Waiouru on the south side of the park, we visited the Military Museum to lean about NZ's participation in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and numerous UN missions. Thought it was fitting for Memorial Day weekend.

Lunch was a lamb pie, very tasty. We drove on, ever southward. At one point we stopped at subway for a snack, and I was a bit surprised that they didn't have a straight mustard (yellow/brown/etc) option...the closest was honey mustard. We made a pit stop at Otaki Beach, somewhat dark sands, very large tidal change, but it was low tide so all the wood and shells were exposed and reminded me of the US Pacific Northwest.

We carried on and tried to follow a road to the Upper Hutt outside Wellington, but it got increasingly narrow and became one-lane. So we were a little uncomfortable driving on a curvy, one-lane, backwoods road near sundown with a quarter tank of petrol in a small, right-hand-drive rental car...so we decided to turn around. We made it to the hostel by following signs to the city centre and found it was right next to the train station. They all seem to be commuter trains, nothing to Auckland was posted). Our room was on a floor full of 12-year-olds on a school trip and they were running around and leaning out of windows and other kid stuff, so I went down to reception and asked for a room not on a floor with children. The clerk said "Oh, sorry!" and booked us on the floor above. There had to be 20 of those kids and we could still hear them chatting out the windows but not nearly as loud as before.

For dinner, we walked to the wharf area and found a popular pizza place called "One Red Dog." We walked back to the hotel looking at the city lights, turned in around 9pm totally exhausted from the day. We actually fell asleep for three hours before waking up to get ready for bed. It worked out well, because I had to feed the parking meter. Our day tomorrow is two museums, just so that we can recover a little from the last week of running around.

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Touring Taupo

We slept in a little (it was nice), and had toast and muslix and apples for breakfast. There was a jar of Vegemite on the table and I was curious just what it tasted like. So I spread a little on my bread, and in one bite was able to decide that I would not be eating any more of that. It's a yeast spread that tastes just like it sounds.

Bob took us to the 'Craters of the moon' which was on the other side of town. En route, we passed 'the Taupo Floatplane,' apparently the only one in town by the singular nature of the sign text. The craters were just about what you'd expect thermally active land to look like. One big crater had a discarded subway cup and a golf ball in it...the price of free admission. It was getting near noon and a downpour started. This was heavier than any we'd been out in on this trip, so Bob's hustle to the car seemed a little frantic but understandable.

What I came to find out though, is that at noon the hydroelectric dam opens up on one of the rivers and floods over 30 feet in only a few minutes...when the gate closes it subsides again. So we were racing against the clock to get in position before the 'show' begins. We arrived just as the alarms and flashing yellow lights went off, telling everyone to get out of the way. We ran to the side of the bridge and watched the increasing flow ill the riverbed. The water kept increasing, covering the plants and trees that had managed to find a home on the frequently submerged banks. The river before us was transformed from large, dry rocks to might rapids before our eyes. We also learned that this exact location was used in the Lord of the Rings movie, when the river floods.
From the river, we drove to a binary power plant that took geothermal heat and powered a turbine system. The pipes for steam stretched across the land like shiny trees that had been cut down to clear a grassy spot in the valley. We drove around the complex and saw all manner of parallel and interwoven steam pipes. Having our fill of technology, we drove over to Huka Falls, a massive river channeled in a tight chasm. The resulting waterfall was a bright blue cascade that glowed in the sun. It would have been perfect in a bottled water commercial because it looked like you could dip your cup in the stream and parch your thirst. Which we had, since it was past lunchtime and we were a little dehydrated.

I asked if we could stop for some food, to which Bob relied "Try sucking on a rock for a little while more." A funny way to say "wait a little longer" but only later did I get that it was a two-fold joke. But before I did, I was sitting in the car as we drove along, past pasture after pasture, meadow after meadow, until we all of a sudden stopped and turned around, driving about 50 m before pulling off the road. It was at this point that both Kacey and I had the same thought: "If this were a movie, this is the part where we die." But when I opened my door, I saw small obsidian gravel underfoot. This was apparently one of the few places that a naturally occurring obsidian outcropping is visible. We climbed up on the side of the highway to have a look. Pretty spectacular, this glassy black rock surrounded by green and brown of the hill.

Then we drove on some more, but my stomach was growling so I was a bit distracted. We arrived back at the Hopkins' around 4pm, having skipped lunch entirely. We (Kacey and I) headed to town to shop and get a snack at McDonald's. We stopped into their grocery store looking for some nacho chips, but they simply didn't carry any that weren't flavored. It was our thought that we'd have nachos for the pre-game of the Super 14 rugby championship broadcast, between the Wellington Hurricanes and the Canterbury Crusaders. It's like the US Superbowl, in this case with two teams from the same state. South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand all have teams in the tournament, but the final was all-kiwi. The catch today was that the stadium was so foggy that it was impossible to see across the short side of the field. The camera in the highest part of the stadium showed solid white. The field cameras covered about halfway. It was like this for the entire 80 minutes. Oh, and more wine.

After the game, we talked about where we were from with the help of an atlas. It was about 11pm when we finally called it a night, fat & happy from a delicious corned beef and veg dinner (and more wine). We packed our stuff and made plans to be on the road at 0900 tomorrow, as it's about 5.5 hours to Wellington and our car has trouble reaching the speed limit going up hills unless we shift into third gear. We had to decide between a wine route or a shore route and figured the wineries would be closed on Sunday by the time we get there.

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Rotorua Thermal Springs

My alarm went off at 0900 again and Kacey went into the shower first. Right after she got out of it, the fire alarm went off. I threw on some more clothes and was about to grab my stuff when it shut off. I looked out the window and there was a staff member out there surveying the rooms. She returned my thumbs up/all-clear and we proceeded on our day without worry of dying in a flaming deathtrap.

A peanut butter & jelly breakfast held us through a tour of Te Puia and the geysers, boiling mud pits, and thermal springs. We saw a performance of the local dance and song before eating a late lunch of hangi meal, which turned out to be chicken, potatoes, and a few other stuffings and veggies that tasted really good. We walked around the park after lunch, it's really a totally foreign land...from the earth to the plants and skies. Also smells like sulphur.

From there we took a series of right-hand turns to a place called the buried village. In the mid-1800's, a volcano erupted, burying a number of villages in mud, not lava. The lava destroyed much of why the villages were there, silica deposits that formed thermal pools in many different terraces. Two sections, pink & white, had a gradient from cool to boiling the higher up you went. Locals cooked food in them. Our guide was the great grandson of the village chief and told us a story not kept on the walls of the museum. His story had the feel of one that had been passed down from generation to generation in the Maori tradition of oral history. Much different than how I'd relate the story and what happened. Still pondering the differences.

We stopped for gas on the way back and saw the stupidest driving I've seen in person. A car came around the turn too fast and fish-tailed for half a block before coming to rest perpendicular to traffic and very close to a semi-trailer. Anyways, the gas cost roughly $35 NZD for 25 liters/half tank. Parked at the hostel and walked to dinner at the stonegrill place. I had venison and had to cook my own meal on a 400 C plate that had been heated for 12 hours and would stay hot for 2-3 more. Slicing up bite-sized bits of meat required only 10-15 seconds on the plate to cook them. It was a delicious meal and I'd eat there more often if I lived here.

After dinner, we walked across town to the Polynesian spa, where we were able to soak in hot spring water. The pools were kept at certain temperatures: 38, 40, 42 C. Spent most of the time in 38, with only a brief dip into 42 to see what it was like. It was like "too hot" bathwater. Kacey and I relaxed at the spa for nearly an hour before a tour bus of Koreans came in and started getting ready to fill up the pools. We decided to get out right as they began filtering in so the locker rooms would be less crowded. It kind of worked, but it was still crowded in there. We changed, rehydrated, and set off to the museum nearby because the exterior was interesting. It was still raining and nearly 2200, so we walked back to the hostel in the drizzle to get some sleep for tomorrow.

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Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley

Had breakfast at "Fat Dog," tried too hard to be trendy. We left Rotorua today and headed south. Our first stop was Waimangu, where we were able to hike a trail beside "Frying pan lake", previously "Frying pan flat" before it flooded. Lots of Thermal activity in and around the lake. The whole area is an active thermal valley, so it's much warmer than you'd expect. The trail split; the easy way to the right, the harder way up and to the left.

We went up, so we were rewarded with a view of Inferno Crater lake--bright blue--and our map says that it sometimes reaches a pH of 2.1, very acidic. Our hike took us between other volcanic rifts and delivered us to a thermally active swamp that seemed more at home in a fairy tale by the smells and all the unusual plants and strangeness.



 The end of the hike came a little earlier than the full trail because of the height of Lake Rotomahana (Hot Lake), and its subsequent flooding of the boat loading dock. The guide on the boat was also the captain and besides us, the only one on the boat. He said we could ride up in the bridge with him, so we had a 180-degree view of the lake. And the storm that was moving in a wall of gray mist across the lake.



We saw where the pink & white terraces used to be, before they were destroyed in an eruption on 10 June 1886. We also saw some areas of thermal activity on the green shoreline, one that was a brick red scar devoid of plant life, which grew wider as it fell into the lake where all sorts of steam was coming out. We took a bus back to the car, which was perfect since the rain moved in right after we disembarked the boat & our guide showed us the silver fern's secret: Green on top, white/silver underneath, the Maori used to snap and fold the fern to use the white side as a trail marker.

Waitapu
Back at the car, we headed just a few miles south to Waitapu and saw saw all different colors of mineral lakes. Some were bright green/yellow from the sulphur, others had orange or blue. The trees and everything else had occasional patches of bright orange, I couldn't tell if the trees were alive or dead. We followed the trail around huge craters with violently boiling mud at the bottom of them.


Then we descended the hill beside a broadly terraced deposit where each terrace was only 1 cm tall, but there must have been thousands of these little formations.


 The trail put us onto actual rock after the wood planking vanished, so we were able to walk right over & feel the heat from some small vents.
 We finished our visit at Waitapu less than an hour before it was set to close, and crossed our names off the visitor list so that they could close the park without fear of trapping someone in a land filled with sights named "Devil's Bathtub" or "Frying pan flat." The latter of which probably took its name after the other one at Waimangu flooded.
Kacey's glasses were foggy from the steam that came off the Champagne lake, clouds that stretched down to the water and back again without any seams.

We drove on to Taupo and drove around the entire city before finding a place we could call the Hopkins (our NZ hosts for the weekend) because all the phone booths took cards that we didn't have. The sun had set by the time we made contact and we were just in time for dinner. Arriving at the Hopkins' at night, we were welcomed and shown to our rooms before the meal to refresh from the drive.

Considering that I was only here because of meeting their daughter Charla in Seoul during a 10k race and she'd offered up their place...they were going out of their way to see that we felt comfortable. The first course was bread and cheese and wine. Bob is quite the wine enthusiast, so bottle after bottle kept coming out for us to try. I lost count, I think it was at least three, maybe more. After many hours of talking and eating and drinking, we retired for the evening. Our room was a little cold, and only later the next day did we learn that we had an electric blanked but hadn't plugged it in.

The plan for tomorrow is for Bob to drive us around to the Taupo sights, which should give Kacey and me a chance to rest. Driving on the left is a conscious act for us, mentally draining as we have to think about every action that used to be automatic. If you're keeping track of the weather, it's rained every day that we've been here with forecasts for more. Our hike plans for tomorrow washed away with the dreary forecast--safety first.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Glowworm caves of Waitomo

Woke up to my watch alarm at 0900, turns out those curtains really keep the light out. Took a shower in 25 second intervals as the conservation measures in place only allowed for that long every time I pushed the button. So I ended up spinning around a lot and punching the button as I did so. We're not sure of the checkout time, so we stopped by the desk and ask. 1000, about 15 minutes from now. So we went back upstairs, grabbed our bags, and checked out.

We knew there was a Denny's on the way to the car rental, so we went there for breakfast. It was, by far, the hippest Denny's Ive even been in. The decor was like something you'd find in a popular club on a Saturday night, with a techno soundtrack to match. I think they did turn it off while we were eating, but it was blaring loud enough when we walked in for us to question if this was the Denny's we were were looking for.

After breakfast we got our rental car. Right-hand drive Echo hatchback. A good, small car for us to learn how to drive absolutely counter to everything we're used to. I was behind the wheel first as we navigated our way down a busy street only to hit heavy traffic on the highways. Kept mixing up my wipers and my turn signal. No problem shifting, and just a little hesitation before any merging or intersection. Roundabouts are fun, but tricky when you want to/are used to them going the other way. We drove down to Waitomo to see the caves and take a boat tour under their star attraction: glow worms.

The cave was pitch black except for these worms on the ceiling that glowed a neon green. They put out enough light to see by, and their reflections on the subterranean river that we were floating on danced and flowed like fireflies in summer.The whole boarding the boat in a cave made me think my high school mythology and the ride across the River Styx. Another cave had been found with a pack of wild dogs in its entrance (the Maori word for dog is 'Kuri'). I think that might work for a pet name too.
It's been raining since we arrived in NZ and that didn't change as we headed across the North Island to our hostel (Treks Rotorua Backpackers) in Rotorua. The sun set on our way, so when we got to a section of road that was unmarked, you can imagine our displeasure when we saw a sign saying "paving in progress." we were driving on unfinished, unmarked road at night in the rain with oncoming traffic in the lane that we're used to being in. And the windshield wipers blurred our view when other headlights hit the windshield. We found our way to the hostel fairly easily, checked in, and headed our for some food.

At least in our area, there seem to be more restaurants than any other store. And they all seem to be specialized, like Thai, Indian, Greek, Turkish, or some theme like Stonegrilled meat. We ate at Zambique where Kacey had an ostrich steak and I had a lam salad with falafel. The waitress seemed really confused when I offered her a tip. I later realized that was because they don't really tip here. We walked around town a little more before going back to the hostel to check email and plan for tomorrow. I'm still worn out from the plane ride, so I pretty much hit the bed and was out until morning.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Arrival at Auckland

Woke up after a less than comfortable snooze because my eyes and mouth were so dry they burned. Our breakfast choices were between omelet or dim sum. I went with the delicious dim sum. The last movie I watched on the plane was The Matador, about an aging assassin. It was, um, ok.

Our arrival time is around 1130 New Zealand time, or 0830 Seoul time. Pretty straight forward customs stuff. Walked around the gift shops a bit and found a NZ baseball cap for RRR. Our bus driver to downtown had a bunch of stories for us, made even more interesting by his British accent. Ok, a New Zealand accent, but if you'd never heard it before, you'd think it was British. Passed One Tree Hill, apparently sung about by U2 in dedication to a roadie of theirs who talked about it all the time before he died in an auto accident.

Our hostel is right downtown, but our first surprise is: no towels in the room. Forgot about that part. Lunch was found in a small (1-table) restaurant on Queen Street, and it consisted of a spicy chili sauce falafel, fries, and a drink. Yum! Recharged from the lack of food since before daybreak, we walked around the downtown Auckland area. It's similar in feel to the cool parts of San Francisco, with a space and hipness to it. There were the touristy things like jumping off a 192 tower and falling down a cable, but that didn't appeal much to us.


We walked through a park with a "closed" sign on the rugby field, seemed to be working well. Found some small towels in an outdoor store, on sale! It was drizzling off and on from the park to the hostel. In the area around the tower, we hopped on a free tour bus that I kept falling asleep on, so I really don't remember much except for a guy already sleeping in the back when we boarded. Stopped in to the hotel to drop off our towels, and I took a nap for an hour or so.
We then walked over to the piers and had fish and chips for dinner with some local draft beers. Finishing dinner, we stopped into "Minus 5", a themed bar made totally out of ice. The bar, furniture, and even the glasses were just ice. The ice was very clear, specially engineered not to be sticky, and imported by ship from a specialty company in Canada. My drink was called "Blue Steel," and I had to hold it with both gloved hands to keep it from spilling on my parka that they issued to us for $25 NZ each.


The glass is made from ice, too!
We were allowed to stay in there for 25 minutes, which was long enough given the conditions and lack of a dart board. When we exited, Kacey's glasses froze over so we sat in "Lenin," a Russian-themed bar with very cool decorating ideas. Lots of rich color pillows, wall fabric panels in suede and satin, and curtains overhead dividing booths. Waiting for the glasses to thaw out so that she could see again.

On our walk back from the piers, we stopped by an art installation called "living lights" with interior lights (shades, etc) hanging in a small alley that made it look like a lantern festival. It was part of a larger art installation called "Living Room." A nice turn of phrase, really.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mid-Tour Vacation

A little bit of history on this: Kacey showed up on Thursday and it was a three-day weekend on base. So on Saturday, we went out shopping for boots, coats, blankets, purses, and all sorts of other things that were either a) custom made in a shop by a guy who lived over that shop, or b) product that may have 'fallen off a tuck on its way to export.' Sunday night, after a BBQ with some friends, we went back downtown to get a final fit (36-hr turn around!) for her coat, and also pick up a bicycle jacket for me. Well, my guy AJ wasn't around when we stopped by; we waited over 45 minutes but not a sign of him.

So this morning, we got all of our stuff packed and then we went back to AJ's. There was still no sign of him, but my jacket was hanging outside with my receipt showing. So, I wrapped up the amount due in the receipt and pushed it under the door. Jacket in hand, we headed back to base. On the way, we passed the intersection where not 15 minutes earlier there were six older Korean women in the back of a pick-up truck, wearing huge visors and gloves while dancing to the "Axel F" theme from Beverly Hills Cop and holding up seven fingers to advertise for the politician who was supporting this surreal spectacle. Only in Asia.

We loaded up my car and my friend Wendy drove us and our travel gear to the main gate in exchange for using my car while I'm gone. A short cab ride after that brought us to the Songtan Bus Terminal, for our two-hr trip to Incheon Airport. Almost as soon as we arrived, there was a bus leaving for Incheon Terminal, but some friendly locals were able to tell us that Terminal=Bus (not airport). Our bus from Songtan left at 1115, passing through Gimpo Airport on our way to Incheon. We lucked out at the check-in and got an exit row.

A quick lunch in the Western food court and then we watched a Korean cheer leading competition. Not sure if the "Bling it on" theme has marketability. Kacey filled out a survey for some student-type people who gave us a nicely wrapped souvenir that we didn't have time to open before our 1515 flight was airborne and the dinner was served. Beef and potato with an over-pressurized bag of kimchee. As I was eating, Underworld Evolution started, so I watched it. Dinner and a movie! My interest was piqued by the warning that the movie was not formatted for airline viewing, so all the swearing and nudity were in there..I suppose it's because the personal TVs make self-censorship possible. The amount of violence was quite staggering. I really think they sat around thinking of death/fight scenes and how to link them together into a plot-ish storyline.

We landed at 1900 Seoul / 1800 Hong Kong time, then proceeded to find some Chinese food in the terminal. Young Chow fried rice, two plates, and fresh grapefruit juice.Crazy delicious. We walked around the terminal a little more, buying some lychee and assorted candies with the left over Hong Kong dollars from dinner. We walked over to the gate and sat down to wait for the plane. Remembered that I had some Gatorade in my bag. We also remembered the free survey prize that Kacey got in Seoul - 2 coasters with traditional Korean scenes. Feeling sleepy at 1938 Hong Kong time. The plane leaves at 2055.

I couldn't fall asleep, so I watched a Chinese movie called "McDull, the Alumni" which was pretty funny if you're sleep-deprived. It was live-action and cartoon children/animals all kindergarten alumni. The seat in front of me is reclined, so I have to slouch to see the inset video screen. Even though I was reading subtitles, I felt that I needed to turn up the volume...on a Chinese soundtrack.


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Monday, May 22, 2006

Adventures in New Zealand and Australia

During my one year tour in Korea, Kacey and I decided to take a mid-tour break Down Under. Since this might be the only our only chance to do this in the foreseeable future, we decided to go as far and wide across New Zealand and Australia as we could.
New Zealand

Australia
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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Volunteering at Father Paul's

The base offers all sorts of opportunities to volunteer, so I signed up to help with the construction of Father Paul's church.We took a bus to the middle of nowhere, then we hiked in.

Over the river and through the woods...




This is where the septic tank is going.


Sliding the tank into place.


Sliding out the supports.


Lowered into place.
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End Of Tour Summary: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

We spent two and a half years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on our second tour in the Foreign Service with the US Department of State. As you migh...

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