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

A Perfect Day in Auckland

Posted by on Jan 28, 2010 | 0 comments

A Perfect Day in Auckland

Auckland has become the perfect jumping-off point to the South Pacific for me these past few trips. It’s the closest I can get to the islands on my RTW ticket but luckily flights are pretty cheap from Auckland to almost any destination in the Pacific.

It’s also a nice break from Asia both from a language and food perspective. And to top it off, you just can’t beat the weather.

My final flight on Korean Airlines for this trip was perfect as always. Great service, great food and an excellent seat for sleeping. I arrived in Auckland from my 24-hour stay in Taipei feeling pretty good though with all the time zone changes lately, I think it’s starting to catch up to me. Let’s just say my critical thinking skills aren’t quite as sharp as usual. I’m hopeful that a good meal and a good night’s sleep in a real bed will help.

For this year’s visit, I’ve been forced to try out a new hotel. Usually, I stay at the Westin or the Hilton (which are both beautiful and right on the water in Viaduct Harbour) but this year the rates at both were out of sight. (My mental threshold for hotels is about $175 unless they are located on a tropical island…or in Dubai.)

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Paris in the Pacific: Bonjour! New Caledonia

Posted by on Feb 11, 2010 | 2 comments

Paris in the Pacific: Bonjour! New Caledonia

I have to begin today by giving the French due credit for their colonial taste in islands. It is becoming abundantly clear that they got all the good ones while no one was looking. First Tahiti, then Seychelles – and now this?? Someone has got to start keeping tabs on these people.

Here’s just a rough list of current or former French colonial islands (many of whom are still speaking French to this day):  Tahiti, New Caledonia, Mauritius, Martinique, St Croix, St Kitts, Vanuatu, St. Martin and Reunion. I have only been to two of these so far, but they are two of the most gorgeous islands I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. Well done, Frenchies.

Though most of these islands no longer fall under the French flag, the country’s cultural legacy often remains. When I first took up French in high school, I never thought it would be so useful in real life. When I began traveling overseas, I was excited to brush up on my language skills for trips to France. But I always thought that would be the only place I would use my remedial French language skills. Not so! You’d be amazed how often I’ve been able to use French in my travels.  Morocco, Vietnam, Cambodia and, of course, some of the most beautiful islands the world has to offer. Not to mention 90% of Northern Africa. Yes, the French have been busy over the years.

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Surviving Bora Bora: Sea Turtles & Cyclones – A Tahitian Adventure

Posted by on Feb 12, 2010 | 9 comments

Surviving Bora Bora: Sea Turtles & Cyclones – A Tahitian Adventure

I admit, I have been procrastinating. Couldn’t seem to make myself sit down and start writing about my ill-fated week in Bora Bora. There is just something about surviving a tropical cyclone on a tiny dot of sand in the South Pacific that gives you pause. Paradise? Not exactly.

Last year, when I visited Moorea, I fell head over heels in love with the lagoon-encircled island and confidently proclaimed it “the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.” And that’s saying a lot, folks. So, you can imagine how excited I was about my upcoming trip to Bora Bora (which I’d heard was even better).

French Polynesia is made up of a number of islands, the most famous of which are Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea. All international flights arrive in the city of Papeete on the main island of Tahiti – interisland flights go out from there. My 6-hour flight from Noumea to Papeete, Tahiti was as terrific as a 6hr coach flight can be. The flight wasn’t full and I ended up with an entire row of 5 seats to myself…heaven! We landed in Papeete at dusk to a pounding rain.

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A Whale of a Time in Cabo

Posted by on Feb 15, 2010 | 2 comments

A Whale of a Time in Cabo

Cabo was not at all what I expected. Resting at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, the sparkling resort towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, known as “the capes,” or Los Cabos in Spanish, differ in many respects from their “Mexican Riviera” counterparts.

Having been to Mexico a couple of times (Cancun and Puerto Vallarta), my first big surprise in Cabo when  I stepped off the plane from Bora Bora was the weather. Compared to the heat and humidity of other parts of Mexico, the dry, desert landscape of the Baja Peninsula was a nice change of pace. This time of year, Cabo boasts average highs in the upper 70’s with lows in the high 50’s. The bright, sunny, breezy days reminded me more of Vegas or Phoenix in the spring than Mexico.

Occupying the stretch of land where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are connected by an 18-mile long Tourist Corridor lined with gleaming resorts. Cabo San Lucas is the more famous of the two towns with more beaches, resorts and a much-heralded reputation with spring-breakers world-wide. San Jose del Cabo is the smaller, sleepier town with shop-lined streets and a charming town square.

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