Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bad Photo Friday: Visa Photos

I was just combing back through our photos for some criminally bad ones, when I came across this set of outtakes from the “photo session” we had to take our visa photos for the various countries that required one for our entry visas. Though these were taken before we set out on our trip, since they were for our trip, I thought I’d share. I think they’re hilarious.20120815_175638_7D_IMG_11004
First rule of thumb, stop talking.
I said stop talking.
It also helps if you’re looking at the camera.
Now smile…but not too much!
Ok, maybe a bit more than that.
David eventually got one good enough.  And several countries have let me in, so that’s proof enough.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hong Kong Subway

Typical subway scene in Hong Kong.  Clean car.  Map with illuminated indicator for current stop, next stop, and which side  the doors will open on. Quiet, polite passengers.  Tote bag with pandas that look like KISS band members.  Let’s zoom in on that, shall we?
Hong Kong is awesome.

Monday, May 27, 2013

What Our Day Looks Like

Generally, every day we wake up to an alarm (set at 7am local time) because otherwise we've been known to sleep until 9am. Usually I turn off the alarm and we doze for a bit, waking up slowly.  Sometimes we wake up well before the alarm, too. Eventually, someone fires up the internet (usually still in bed). Then someone gets up and puts the kettle on for coffee--we've bought an inexpensive french press in both South America and New Zealand/Australia, but we've just been going without when we have made our own breakfasts in Asia. And then we have breakfast of muesli and yogurt and a banana and coffee. If there's a toaster in our room/apartment then we'll have a piece of toast too. And then we decide what to do with our day.

Think about that for a minute. When was the last time you were able to decide what your day would involve? Sure we have our travel days, but they are days we've decided on earlier. The truth is we're spending money rather than earning it and saving it. And you do what you have to do. We did, for 15 years or so. We got up at 5:40, we put the kettle on, we ate our cereal, and made our peanut butter sandwiches for our bag lunch. It wasn't so bad, but it wasn't great. We lived for vacations, weekends, and to some extent, evenings. I spent months and months over those bag lunches finding the best hotels, making lists of things to see, and places to eat, even making dinner reservations, before we would leave home on vacation.

But my single happiest moment, consistently, every day, is that moment when I wake up and think about what I'm going to do today.

Postcard: River Life, Vietnam

Girl in boat, Mekong river canal just south of the Cambodian border with Vietnam.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bad Photo Friday: David Edition

Mostly, David takes a really good photo.
As long as his eyes are open.
And the sun’s not in his eyes. (Sure, let’s say the sun was in his eyes, rather than him being annoyed with me for taking his photo unawares.)
I mean, sometimes it looks like he might be on something.
Or that he’s laughing at his own private joke.
But the kid has gravitas. Even when there’s an extra stripe-shirted body coming out of his chin. (Sorry, this one is that good. Had to share it again!)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bali Eco Cycle Tour:

In Bali, we signed up for a bicycle day tour that sounded like it was right up our alley: breakfast at a volcano, cycling, touring spice and fruit plantations, seeing coffee made, riding through rice fields, and seeing life inside one of the family compounds.  Several companies offered similar tours, but the original, and best reviewed was Bali Budaya’s Eco Cycling tour.  We had a great time with them!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Orchid Garden Homestay

By now we’ve stayed at oh, approximately, eleventy hundred and fifty-seven different accommodations (and yet, Lana still can’t spell ‘accommodations’ correctly on the first try).  And of the ones we’ve stayed at, most of them were fine, or ok, but forgettable.  You guys, this isn’t that place.  We have nothing but high gushy praise for our hotel in Hoi An, Vietnam. Orchid Garden Homestay was perfect for us, and it came after a long string of hotel rooms, the best of which we’ll call…interesting.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wedding Photos

It was wedding season in Vietnam when we arrived.  Traditionally that is during the dry season, when farming families had both the time for an extended party, and the money for it, from the last harvest.  I don’t think any of the couples we photographed were from farming families, as their photographers were all carting around roughly $8000 in camera gear, but likely the wedding season is now more of a cultural expectation than a practical decision.  We saw an even mix of brides in traditional garb and more westernized dresses.  Lana guessed that many of them would have a photo shoot in each style.

Postcard: Hanoi

Scooter traffic in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bad Photo Friday: Animal Style

Bad Zeeba
Yes, that is a pony, painted to look like a zebra. In Vietnam. I have no answer for it either. But it's a bad idea.
Last week we crowned the king and queen of photo bombs, but if there is an official mascot of the photo bomb, surely it’s the sea lion.
Although the llama is a runner-up, for sure.
This guy? Well, now I’m not sure who’s bombing who in this one.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bali Dancing

If you ever end up in Ubud, Bali, you won't get more than three steps down the street before someone asks you if you want to "see the dancing?"  What they're referring to is the variety Balinese dances that are performed at the palace in Ubud every night of the week. Each night a different troupe of dancers performs somewhere around 5 dances in front of the beautiful backdrop of the Palace doors in the courtyard.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ha Long Bay

Off the coast of north east Vietnam, the Ha Long Bay area contains around 3000 limestone islands that tower above the ocean.  It’s quite beautiful.  When we visited, the visibility was limited by fog, but that just cast the islands in a different kind of beauty, with the islands fading into distant shadows.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bad Photo Friday: Photo Bomb Edition

I’m the queen of photo bombs on this trip—especially in food pics.
Also flower pictures.20121126_120857_310HS_IMG_2560
But this guy was pretty good.
And this guy was pretty quick.
But our friend and Galapagos guide Enrique is hands down the King of the photo bomb. Although to be fair, he was trying not to be in the picture.  Te amamos Enrique!

Bali: East Coast Discovery

Bali Fields
One of our days we stayed in Sanur we took a day drip of Eastern Bali that included snorkeling, a water palace and a bat temple.  We had the tour guide to ourselves, as nobody else had booked the same tour, which allowed us some flexibility on skipping things we weren't as interested in.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Crowned Lemur
Here are a few of our favorite photos from the 3,600 or so we took in our 22 days in Madagascar. We fell in love with this magical, beautiful place. We hope these photos and our posts to come about our time there will convince you to add it to your bucket list. It wasn’t the easiest place to get to, or get around in, but it was worth it.  So very, very worth it.

Bali: Sacred Monkey Forest

Monkey Madonna
The Sacred Monkey Forest at the edge of town in Ubud can be a dangerous place. Many of the macaques are so habituated to people feeding them that they get somewhat aggressive in trying to get it from tourists (women sell bananas and other fruits and vegetables at the entrances). But mostly once they have something to eat (and they are fed by the staff) they’re happy to hang out, munch on some cucumbers or taro, and groom each other. In many ways, any trouble in the forest is just what you brought with you.  Namely food or water.  If the macaques can see either, they’ll try to get it, and chances are good they’ll succeed.  We didn’t have any problems; we simply kept our water hidden in our bags, and didn’t bring any food in.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shoes - May

It’s time for the monthly shoe time-lapse.  It also looks like it’s time for a shoe shine!  

How to Cross the Street in Vietnam

Before we go much further explaining how to cross the street in Vietnam, let's start with a little video of what it actually looks/feels like to cross the street.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Postcard: Ho Chi Minh City

Tub of live crabs, central market of Saigon (as everyone in Vietnam calls it).

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bad Photo Friday: Self-Timer Edition

Wait, is it flashing?
Maybe I should check it?
No, it must not be working, let me check.
Did it take it?
Did it take it?
I think it’s done.

Australia: Flying Foxes

Flying Fox
We love foxes, and we love bats.  When we realized that Cairns had a colony of flying fox bats, we sought them out.  It wasn’t hard—you can hear them from a few blocks away.  And while we thought they were pretty visibly obvious—you know, Chihuahua sized animals with yard/meter wingspans swooping over head—we were consistently amazed by how many people only glanced up at them after wondering what we were taking pictures of.  In one case, a woman who’d been walking along, perfectly safe, looked at David panning his zoom lens along with a bat, looked where he was pointing, and shrieked and cowered on the ground for nearly 5 minutes before scurrying off in a crouch like she was in a war zone.  Most people were delighted by their chance glance up, however.