A gallery of pics from our first Hong Kong visit.
This is especially for my nephews who have wanted to hear and see about our Great White Shark cage diving tour in Gansbaai. I knew I had to do this when we came to S Africa because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We’ve all probably seen portions of “shark week” or something similar on Discovery about the Great Whites. You’ve probably seen the images of these beasts coming full out of the water as they attack the seals. Well this is the place most of those documentaries are filmed and we saw sharks! Erinn wasn’t sure she wanted to do this but once she saw the sharks and the excitement she even decided to jump in the cage. We spent a couple of hours either on the boat watching or in the cage (I was lucky enough to go twice). Well, I won’t bore you with words any more – here’s the pics. By the way if you get to S. Africa you definitely should do it!
While in S. Africa we were able to stay at a friend of a friend’s game farm (thanks Ali and Steve!) in Eastern South Africa. Mkuzi game reserve borders another famous reserve Phinda and several years ago both reserves negotiated to “drop fences” between the two reserves. The gracious man who allowed us to stay, Steve, has built a house and took us along with his mother and 3 others to the park. It was originally a farm owned by one man who ended up selling it off in twenty properties with the opportunity to build a house and have your own game park. We took game drives each morning and evening in a customized Land Rover (bean bag chairs which are BRILLIANT!) and saw amazing animals – cheetah, rhinos, hippos, lions, warthogs, monkeys, elephant, cape buffalo, kudu, impala, jackals, birds, and all kinds of different plant life. We had barbeques, called a braai here, once on top of an amazing lookout. Steve was a game driver professionally for a year and a half and still has the knowledge and passion of this time. He provoked thought especially in thinking how animals interact socially and even how the impact of a changing environment and fences has changed life for them and may eventually be disastrous for us. One story that sticks out was of some adolescent male elephants that took over a herd because the lead male was poached. These males started becoming violent, mating with young females (too young), destroying land, and becoming a threat to other animals. A decision whether to terminate all of these males was being considered. Suddenly another thought occurred. Why not bring in some old 50 yr old males from Kruger down to see if they would take over leadership. Within days the younger elephants, after being knocked around by the older dominant males, were now behaving much better. Just one of the stories of how animals I thought could perhaps teach us about human sociology. Ultimately, the best part of the weekend was meeting amazing people that are now lifelong friends. We’ve been extremely blessed in this first week to have locals that have taken us in like we were family and showed us some amazing sights.
Some pics for your enjoyment… click on individual pictures for a slideshow.
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Erinn and were lucky enough to spend one night in a private game reserve called Sabi Sands right outside of Kruger National Park (there actually isn’t a fence between the parks). While the price isn’t cheap the reward was being able to see leopards and a pride of lions feeding on a dead elephant up close. Continue reading Elephant Plains in Sabi Sands
OK you’ve all been waiting for this one I’m sure – it’s the most amazing stupendous valuable travel tip ever. I realized it two weeks into our trip that this indeed is the best advice I could ever write. Here it is…
“Humanity was born in Africa. All people ultimately, are African.”
“The cell is an ideal place to know yourself. People tend to measure themselves by external accomplishment, but jail allows a person to focus on internal ones, such as honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, generosity and an absence of variety. You learn to look into yourself.” – Nelson Mandela
It’s hitting already how much the rest of the world follows and knows American politics… better than I. This was evident as we saw a billboard with two local S. African news reporters surrounding guess who – Barack Obama!! We also met three men in the first 2-3 days of our trip who were excited about us being from the US simply because our president is (in the words of one man) “from Kenya”. This after going to New Zealand and meeting a colleague who on his holiday set down “in front of the TV with some chips” to watch Super Tuesday. In a good way this reminds me of my responsibility to my country to be a more informed voter – in a bad way it puts me to shame!
It’s been a seriously long time since I’ve updated our blog and there is a semi-valid reason. My wife and I have accepted teaching positions at a college in Auckland, New Zealand starting in January. This has meant several things. One, our walkabout has unfortunately been cut short… not terminated thankfully, but reduced to three months. The last couple of months since our last post have been extremely crazy with closing my business and saying goodbye to clients, friends, and family. We have busily packed our house trying to decide what we might want to take to New Zealand if we accepted the job. Oh and by the way, we didn’t know if the New Zealand job would happen prior to packing up our house for our renters. We left the first week of August not for Iowa but for New Zealand to do a final interview. The job seems to be a great opportunity to branch out and even possibly earn my doctorate!?
This trip and eventual job to New Zealand ties in with a previous “walkabout”, which was a 3 ½ week trip to New Zealand for our honeymoon. We both came back raving about NZ and wishing we could someday have the chance to live in the spectacular country… interesting how life and the Almighty work. In many ways our preparation for the walkabout was also unknowingly preparation for our move to NZ. Mentally and physically preparing to leave our home for an extended period of time and saying goodbyes have changed to a more permanent outcome. Unfortunately these actions were somewhat unknown at the time and quite rushed in the end. We accepted the job after leaving Seattle and driving to Iowa with a good portion of our belongings.
Since accepting there have been other preparations added to the list – obtaining residency in NZ, obtaining shipping quotes to ship a container of goods to NZ, thinking about the curriculum we’ll be teaching, what goods to take and much more. It’s ironic that as we decided on a name for this blog and came up with “walkabout” the name has taken on a new meaning. A walkabout referred to a kind of rite of passage in Australian Aboriginal culture where a man would journey into the outback to live and grow mentally, physically and spiritually. I was looking at this trip as a possible way of expanding my horizons and open to the idea of life changing, although I didn’t expect this to happen prior to our trip. I did often think that the hardest thing about our RTW trip would be the decision to do it. Maybe that’s what was needed to also make this move to NZ more of a mental possibility. I believe Bilbo said to Frodo something along the lines of once you step out onto the road you never know where it’s going to take you. Now that NZ will always be acquainted with Lord of the Rings, I think this quote is even more appropriate for us.
Some of you may know that in my previous life I was a musician – I should correct this and say I was a musician trying to make a living playing music. Now I’m a musician enjoying music! While I’m dying to travel the world, probably the hardest part of leaving will be leaving my saxophone and not playing it for many months. Erinn was looking through Skymall a few months ago on a flight (what else do you do but look at the epitome of our crazy consumerism call “Skymall”!) and had the idea I should get a “pocket saxophone” which was advertised. The more I thought about it and did a little research, I decided to give the Xaphoon or “bamboo saxophone” a try even though I imagined a crazy out of tune recorder with a reed on it. Well, I have to say the crazy out of tune recorder idea is pretty accurate so far (then again when I started clarinet it was pretty bad as well ; ) if nothing else it’s a good travel gimmick a probably a way to meet some people and maybe even earn a dinner or two by dropping my hat! It has about a two octave range and is chromatic (for all you musicians out there) and weighs in at around 7 oz. – good for backpacking. I’m posting a couple of pictures as well as my video of attempting to play although I’m just learning…
I realize it’s been a long time since my last post. April brought a lot of change to my life including the death of my loved mother. It’s brought a new perspective to life and our trip. I’m still excited but also realizing that as I get ready to leave I’m more acquainted with loss. We continue to plan and move forward with only a little over two months until the take-off date. I thought I’d do a little photo rendition of some of the things I’m going to miss as we go traveling – some things will be dearly missed, others I know are just minor inconveniences ; )
We’re all ready when it comes to airline tickets as I just purchased our tickets to South Africa… with miles! The recent merger between Northwest and Delta was especially kind as these were the two airlines on which I most frequently travel which meant I had quite a few miles. I was able to purchase both tickets with miles for a direct flight between Atlanta and Johannesburg – a nice LONG flight but at least it’s direct. We’re stoked to have the final peace of the travel tickets…
I’m hoping to post some regular updates about the travel gear we’re researching and purchasing for our trip. I chose the Steripen and the Pacsafe Daysafe 100 backpack to review first because they are unique items that Erinn and I think will really make travel easier and items that a lot of people don’t know about. Thanks to my wife Erinn’s initial research and suggestion to purchase, we can now all know about these cool gadgets.
I’ve had several people ask questions lately about how we planned our travel around the world. I also remember being a “planner” (still am) and reading many travel blogs that gave some quick examples of tips and ways to go about it. With this post I want to start to map out a bit of how we went about deciding and also planning our trip including answering some of the common questions I often have heard and some that I had from the start.
Everywhere I read about India, I also read about its infamous touting (con-artists who advertise themselves as tour guides) and scams to watch out for. Some examples include:
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