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RTW #5: In Search of the World’s Perfect Beach

My 5th Annual Round the World Trip Starts This Week!

Posted by on Dec 29, 2009 | 2 comments

My 5th Annual Round the World Trip Starts This Week!

My 5th annual Round the World trip starts this week!!!

Where has the year gone?

This year I’ll be heading to several new and exciting spots and (of course) a couple of old favorites.

Here’s the itinerary:

Jordan – Seychelles Islands – Thailand – Bali, Indonesia

Taipei, Taiwan – Auckland, NZ – New Caledonia

Bora Bora – Cabo San Lucas

I am packing like mad and trying to get everything done before I leave. Leaving the country for a month is never as easy as it sounds. And there are so many details to finalize for a round the world trip. Not to mention there is a serious threat of snow looming for Atlanta that I may have to dodge. But regardless, in just a few days I’ll be departing for my first stop, Jordan!

 

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The Ancient Charms of Jordan

Posted by on Jan 10, 2010 | 0 comments

The Ancient Charms of Jordan

After 2 last minute flight changes, I was lucky to escape Atlanta before the snow started to fall. My Delta Business Elite flight from JFK to Amman could not have been better. Empty seat next to me = double the fluffy pillows and duvets = lots of sleep!

We landed in Amman 12 hours later around 4pm on Friday and my first hurdle was getting a visa on arrival. This turned out to be the simplest process ever – took less than 5 minutes and cost about $15 US. Definitely no reason to get a visa in advance if you’re traveling to Jordan. Next up, finding a taxi and getting to the hotel. Finding a taxi was easy, getting to the hotel proved more difficult.

I hopped in a cab and within 10 minutes we had the misfortune to become car #4 in a 5-car pile-up on the highway, yikes! My driver managed to swerve the car into the shoulder to avoid a direct hit on the car in front of us so we were in better shape than the other cars involved. Instantly, all of the drivers jumped out of their cars – arms flailing, Arabic expletives flying – to survey the damage. At this point I’m thinking, oh great, we’re going to be stuck here on the highway while we wait for the police. But no! Apparently that’s not how they do things in Jordan. All of the drivers circled their vehicles reclaiming any loose items like hubcaps and tail lights, got right back in their cars and drove off! Not so much as an exchange of contact info. All in all, a 5-minute delay. Definitely could have been worse.

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Say Yes to the Seychelles Islands

Posted by on Jan 12, 2010 | 2 comments

Say Yes to the Seychelles Islands

After a great week in Jordan and an overnight in Paris, I was on my way to paradise.

The flight to the Seychelles Islands from Paris takes about 10 hours. Not a bad trade – the cold and rain of a Parisian winter for the sandy beaches of a tropical paradise. We landed at 8:30am and when the boarding door cracked open, I was greeted by a wall of heat and humidity (did I mention it was only 8:30 in the morning?).

Situated just 4 degrees south of the Equator, the humid climate of Seychelles is not for the faint of heart. The heat can be, quite literally, stifling. But, since I have been complaining about the cold weather at home for weeks, I decide to put my rapidly expanding hair in a ponytail and keep my mouth shut.

My first mission was to get a rental car. Though the island of Mahe has an extensive and inexpensive bus system, with only two days to explore, I needed my own wheels to maximize my time. I was fortunate that there were at least a dozen companies with desks in the airport, all with cars available. It was a renter’s market and within 10 minutes, I had cut a deal I was satisfied with. With keys to my little red car and a map of the island in hand, I hit the open road in search of my hotel.

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Beloved Bangkok & a Trip to Phang Nga Bay

Posted by on Jan 17, 2010 | 0 comments

Beloved Bangkok & a Trip to Phang Nga Bay

After leaving the Seychelles, I enjoyed a restful night in the upstairs cabin on a 747-400 from Paris and awoke eagerly anticipating our landing in Bangkok. My all-time favorite RTW stop (and the only country I have visited on every trip), Thailand is truly the ultimate destination.

From the bright lights and speeding tuk-tuks of Bangkok to the secluded and tranquil beaches of the south, Thailand has something for everyone – and everything for me. After spending 3 of the past 5 nights sleeping on airplanes, the first order of business was the famous $5 Thai massage.

When I arrived at my hotel, the beautiful Royal Orchid Sheraton on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, I was excited to see that they had finally completed a renovation. I’ve stayed at this property several times over the years and have always loved it for its perfect location on the river and sweeping views – but the rooms were a little tired.

I’m happy to say that’s no longer the case. I was upgraded to a lovely suite so newly renovated that I think the paint might still have been wet. What a nice surprise!

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Bintangs & Beach Time – A Balinese Odyssey

Posted by on Jan 22, 2010 | 0 comments

Bintangs & Beach Time – A Balinese Odyssey

I hadn’t been on the ground 5 minutes in Bali before I began wondering why on earth I hadn’t thought to come here sooner.   Known as the “Island of the Gods,” even the airport’s intricate stone carvings and temple offerings at every counter tell you right away that this island is unique.

My 3-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur couldn’t have been easier and within minutes of arrival I had processed my “Visa on Arrival” and was headed out to the arrivals lounge to meet my driver. For my 2-night stay at the Westin Nusa Dua in Bali, I’d done something I usually don’t – arranged for a hotel car to pick me up at the airport.

Typically, the hotel car service is horridly overpriced compared to just hopping in a taxi or on the train. But, when I got an e-mail from the Westin a few days before arrival asking for my flight info and inquiring as to whether I would like to be picked up for a cost of only $11 US, I decided to take them up on it. Though I probably could’ve haggled my way into a cab for half that, $11 bucks was totally worth it to just have a driver waiting for me for once. A nice, stress-free start to my few days in Bali.

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24 Hours in Taipei

Posted by on Jan 23, 2010 | 0 comments

24 Hours in Taipei
I didn’t have especially ambitious plans for my 24 hours in Taipei. Kind of a random choice as a stop, I know, but it was one of those Asian cities on my to-do list so I decided to squeeze it in between tropical locales this year. Time for a “city-break” and a return to high-rise hotels and actual high-speed internet.

Upon landing in Taipei from my blissful stay in Bali, I was surprised to see that for such a hi-tech city, the airport was not nearly the modern facility I’ve become accustomed to in major Asian capitals.

There was, however, an enormous tourism desk staffed with a dozen helpful agents who checked my hotel reservation on a list, provided me with a good city map and suggested a bus to the city that made a stop right in front of my hotel. I was disappointed there was no train to the city, just the bus or a taxi. But, at only $2.80, the bus was definitely the cheapest airport transportation I’ve ever taken.

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