So after working on this for a while I finally finished my detailed route map of the places I’ve traveled thus far in 15 months. If you want more info like names of cities, routes and even a short explanations zoom in and click on the pins and lines.
Google map engine cannot be embed on WordPress as of yet so here is the link:
So right now I’m currently editing pictures for the long overdue Antarctica post that I should have up in a couple of weeks. That being said I do not have time to go through all 1300 photos that I took from the 20 day Annapurna trek in Nepal, but I would like to have some content up from the trip because everybody is asking how it was and wanting to see pics. As a solution to this predicament I decided to link you the post that Dawn has written on her blog “Experimental Happiness”. We have traveled together for good chunk of our RTW trips so be sure to take a look at the rest of her awesome blog to read about other amazing countries and destinations that we’ve been to that you can’t find on my site.
While in Dubai there was no way I was going to miss out on a chance to snowboard on an artificial hill with artificial snow in the middle of Desert. Not a very long run but a fun experience since I missed the season in the Pacific Northwest this year.
Filed under Asia, UAE, Videos
Night shot from the tallest building in the world.
I’ve always wanted to visit Dubai but the cost has always steered me away. While researching for flights from Nepal to Turkey I found that my cheapest option was to buy a ticket from Kathmandu, Nepal to Dubai, UAE then use some of my United airline miles to get to Istanbul via Frankfort, Germany. I gave myself one full day in Dubai which was very rushed but I ended up getting to see about every major attraction there.
Hop on Hop off Bus
Burj Al Arab hotel (Tower of Arabs)
Men at work
Only way to describe the city is OVER THE TOP. Tallest building in the world, biggest mall in the world, man-made islands in the shape of a palms, 22,000 dollar rooms in hotels shaped like sails, Indoor Ski resort in the middle of the desert and the list goes on. You can really tell that this middle eastern country made up of 7 city states has a lot of wealth and they’re not afraid to flaunt it.
Most of the day I spent riding around on the Hop on Hop off bus. Sadly I had only one full day to see everything so I only hopped off twice during the entire day to explore. Probably two of the most standout items on my one day adventure was heading up to the view deck in the Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world, and hitting the man-made snow slope at Ski Dubai in the Emirates mall.
Burj Khalifa-Tallest building in the World!
Looking up from the view deck at sunset
Shadow over the largest mall in the world
Height comparison with other buildings of the world
I think if I had more time and more money I would have stayed at least 3 days in Dubai to see everything at a non rushed pace and possibly booked a Desert tour. But at the end of the day I was happy with what I had seen and done and was ready to crash out on my long flight to Frankfort, Germany.
With a day of caving done we headed off to stay the night with a Maori tribe at their traditional Wharenui (ritual big house) to learn about their culture and way of life in New Zealand.
After exiting the bus, performing some ritual greetings were we touch nose to nose and dropping our bags in the Wharenui we headed off to dinner. When the meal was finished the tribe performed a couple traditional dances for us one of them being the famous Haka.
The Haka as it’s known to the Maori people of New Zealand is a traditional war cry/ group dance. The Haka is a combination of tribal dance, chanting, angry/scary facial expressions that is performed by Maori warriors before they went to battle to intimidate their opponents. It was not only used for battle but also for amusement, as a welcome to distinguished guests, acknowledge great achievements, and funerals.
When their performance was complete we split up into two groups one male one female and we quickly found out that the men would be learning and performing the Haka. After 15 mins of rushed practicing we headed back to the dining hall to watch the girls do the “Poi” which is dance involving swinging a weighted ball on a rope around in a variety patterns. Shortly after it was our turn and walking to the front of the room we removed our shirts to show our manly bare chests and started the Haka. Chanting,pounding our feet,slapping our chest/arms, and making the most scary faces we could possible muster we performed the ancient dance the best we could for only getting 15 minutes to learn it. As I said before the dance was used by Maori for intimidating and scaring their enemies and I couldn’t tell whether we were 1: scaring the Ladies with our fierce warrior faces or 2: performing a very comical version of the Haka but the laughs, smiles, and pointing coming from the crowd of women had me leaning towards the latter of the two 🙂
The New Zealand All Blacks rugby team performs the haka before matches and is considered by some the greatest ritual in world sports. Here is a video of them performing it before the 2011 Rugby world Cup final match were they defeated France 8-7 to win the cup.
Next Stray Bus Post: Christmas in Lake Taupo
The beaches were definitely nice but it was time to start doing some adventure travel which New Zealand is famous for. That being said I decided to pay for my first Stray bus excursion which happen to be spelunking at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves.
I ended up going with the Tumi Tumi tubing option which ran around 110 US. Once I payed my cold hard cash we donned our wetsuits, geared up with hard hats with lights and put on a pair of rubber boats. We looked like a couple of salty miners ready for action. It was about 10 min walk to the cave which had me sweating to death in the thick 7Mil wetsuit but it was short lived because as soon as we entered the small hole into the dark underworld the temperature drop drastically.
Right off bat we started seeing the glowworms on the ceiling of the cave. When we turned out the head lights the ceiling of the cave looked like a clear night sky beaming full of stars. It was beautiful! Funny fact: the glowworms are not actually glowworms but MAGGOTS! Guess if you named them “glowing maggots” it would really rune the appeal to come see them.
Its pretty amazing how they glow. The glowworm actually does not poo for lack of better word but converts its waste product into light by chemical reaction. Which in turn attracts its prey who fly towards the light and get stuck in the glow worm’s hanging silky beads on the ceiling of the cave. This makes for a pretty efficient cycle of eating, glowing, prey, eating, etc.
After admiring the glow worms for a while we finely got down to some spelunking. The name of this excursion is pretty deceiving being that you only tube through 2 short areas and most of the time you spend crawling, swimming, climbing, scooting your way through dark wet muddy areas of the cave. In one spot we crawled through a small tunnel about 15 ft (4.5 meters) in length that was just big enough for me to fit through on my belly! Talk about claustrophobic and we did it in complete darkness as well!
By the time we got to the end of the cave 2 hours had passed and my adventurous side was still wanting more. I think if I had more time to stay in the area I would have done the full day tour! All in all it was blasty blast time!!!
Stray recommendations: If you are looking for something out of the norm to do on the North Island this is it. Tumi Tumi tubing was well worth it and the guides were great!
Next Travel Post: The Haka
Right before I arrived at the Macadamia Nut farm one of Virginia’s Pigs gave birth to 5 little piggies and during my stay I probably took at least 50 to 100 pics of these cute little porkers. Here are some of my favorite shots. Enjoy!