Thursday, November 30, 2017

Visiting DownUnder!

Wow - talk about checking off our bucket list! First Thailand now Australia! Specifically we are spending a couple days in Sydney then heading over to Brisbane for our conference then up the coast a little to have a look.

Let's start with Sydney! Amazing coast line along Bondi Beach! We love water and rocks so this craggy shore line just resonated with us! They have miles and miles of walking paths along the coast with a road running parallel with various shops, eateries and cafes so the choice is yours - stroll the beach or the streets. Or maybe stroll the beach then stop at a cafe for some delicious fish and chips or an afternoon coffee. The choices are limitless!

We made the most of our short visit to Sydney. The morning was rather overcast so we started our day at the very impressive aquarium and zoo. The aquarium has those tunnels where you are actually walking through the tanks with fish swimming around and over you - it was neat to see the underside of the sharks and stingrays.
Then we caught the ferry and went around the harbor for our first glimpse of the "famous" Sydney bridge and the Opera House. The weather had cleared up nicely so we did a little walk around the Opera House and then we walked back up to the Sky Tower and went up for an overhead view of the area.

We were both very much taken with the atmosphere of Sydney with so many walking paths, activities and shopping options available to make outings always new and interesting.

We flew up to Brisbane and spent a couple days in town for a conference then wandered up the coast. It's a pity for us that the rain decided to come from BC's west coast to Australia with us. The Aussies were thankful for the rain as it hadn't rained there for months but it didn't give us quite as much opportunity to explore with outdoors as we would have liked. However the rain was in no way going to stop
us from exploring the Australia Zoo - what a fabulous location. Imagine being right out in an open area with kangaroos all around or walking through another area and looking up at all the koalas in the trees. My hat's off to them - they really created quite a natural environment for us to interact with the animals. I would love to go back on a dry day and enjoy it more, however, having said that, a rainy day makes for a much less crowded experience.

We went back into Brisbane and enjoyed a couple days playing tourist and visiting with friends in the area. I love the transit system they have in place. Free transit to the downtown area of Brisbane; a walk on ferry system that runs up the river connecting all the suburbs, beautiful walking/bike paths along both sides of the river with pedestrian bridges separate from the commuter traffic. So much attention to making the most of the outdoors. 

Having never been to Australia before I had never really thought much about it so I was quite surprised to realize how big the continent actually is. When you look at a map of the world it really doesn't put it in good perspective. Definitely a country that needs multiple visits or a very long visit. It's so hard to decide what to see as things vary so much. We look forward to returning as I would love to experience the Outback; Melbourne and Perth - so much to see! We'll be back!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Travelling across the water!

Let the adventures continue to expand! We've spent many fun years at our condo in Playa del Carmen but as our online business grows so to does our team of international business partners. It's because of this that we have ventured forth to discover the beauty of Chiang Mai Thailand en-route to a business conference in Brisbane, Australia!

We decided that if we were travelling that far we should make the most of it and see as much as we can with the time available. We chose Thailand because of it is a very inexpensive country to visit and there is so very much culture to enjoy.

We found a great family run guesthouse, Banh Mi Guesthouse. Clean, very affordable and walking distance to all of the inner city in Chiang Mai. We were welcomed to the guesthouse like we were family. They helped us, even before we arrived, to set up one of our excursions. Once there they were most helpful in advising us what would be great to see and even helped us set up the transportation and personal driver for another day outing.

Chaing Mai is a city of temples, every time we turned a corner there was another temple, each one a unique experience. I have never seen such a variety of Buddha statues. We were completely comfortable walking around the city and had no problem with a language barrier either. If we got tired it was very easy to flag down a tuk-tuk to return to our guesthouse.

One of the fun aspects of travelling for us is to experience the local cuisine. We love food - however I do have my limits - I really don't want to eat bugs just for the sake of trying them. I think if I had to eat it because that's all there was to eat then I would but until then I will just look and take pictures - I'll leave the sampling to my husband.

When we travel we like to experience more of the local culture not the tourist culture although we couldn't miss out on a chance to spend a day with the elephants. There are many elephant tours available and many varied opinions on spending time with the elephants. We discussed this with our host, Aay, who is a native Thai lady and she made a very valid point. She said that as a Thai person she does not like the tours as the elephants don't need our help with eating or bathing so to her it's not being done for the elephants sake but for the business owners sake. While I do understand and agree with her sentiment I felt more like we had just been interacting with the elephants as they went about their day - it's like they were allowing us to be present. We picked the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary for our experience. One main reason for choosing them is that they do not allow their elephants to be ridden and we were also pleased to see that they weren't making the elephants "perform" for us. We were just basically hanging out together.

There are many parts of Thailand to visit depending on your personal interests. If it's beaches you like then look into Puket; for temples and walking vistas then we were quite happy with the inner city of Chiang Mai. More to the north is Chiang Rai where you will find the White Temple. Bangkok is more of the modern, big city hustle bustle which held no interest for us at all.