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RTW #9: All About Africa & SE Asia

The Thrill of Travel, the Joy of Coming Home: Wrapping Up RTW #9

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 | 0 comments

The Thrill of Travel, the Joy of Coming Home: Wrapping Up RTW #9

And so we come to the end of another globetrotting adventure! Another January (and/or February) spent gallivanting around the globe completely oblivious to general winter nonsense like ice storms and the occasional “snowpocalypse.” Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past 9 years: When summer abandons you…hunt it down.

And that’s just what I did, spending this year’s round the world trip safely below the equator enjoying the sunshine and warmth of southern Africa and Southeast Asia. While the continents were fewer on RTW 9, the experience was no less rewarding.

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The Song of the South Pacific: Fiji & the Mamanucas

Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 | 0 comments

The Song of the South Pacific: Fiji & the Mamanucas

Ooohhh, who owns that yacht?” we asked with envy as our high-speed catamaran docked back at Denarau Marina. “My 2nd husband,” joked Ma, as laughter filled the Captain’s Lounge. We’d just returned from a day of sailing through Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands and Makereta (or just “Ma” as she preferred to be called) was our cheerful hostess and Cruise Director for the voyage. It had been a simply spectacular day and the Fijian people like Ma were a big part of the reason why.

People often throw the word “paradise” around with reckless abandon (I myself have likely been guilty of that) but for me, the South Pacific truly defines the word. I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of this region (Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, New Caledonia, Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Vanuatu and Easter Island) and for my money, there’s no better overall South Pacific destination than Fiji.

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Jetlagged in Jakarta

Posted by on Feb 21, 2014 | 0 comments

Jetlagged in Jakarta

No traffic, no Jakarta” joked my driver as we sat parked on the highway just minutes after leaving the airport. Of course, it probably didn’t help matters that I landed in the middle of Friday morning rush hour. Luckily, it’s still only 7:30am so I’m not in any hurry.

It’s not considered much of a tourism destination, but the sprawling city of Jakarta is perhaps one of the world’s most dynamic capitals due to its sheer size alone. The city is home to more than 10 million people which certainly explained my current traffic situation.

My last stop after two weeks in Indonesia, I arrived in Jakarta from Lombok with just one night to see a little of the city before jetting off to Seoul the next day. Getting to the airport in Lombok in time for a 6am flight meant a 3:30am wake-up call but since it was the only direct flight of the day, I booked it. And it’s a good thing I did.

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Idyllic Indonesia: Lombok & the Gili Islands

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 | 0 comments

Idyllic Indonesia: Lombok & the Gili Islands

Widely considered to be Indonesia’s next great tourism hotspot, tiny Lombok is often overshadowed by its more popular neighbor to the west, Bali. What I’d read about the island promised it was Bali 30 years ago, unspoiled by traffic and rows of mega resorts. It sounded like my kind of place and I was anxious to see it for myself.

However, my decision to make a stop in Bali on the way to Lombok had cut my originally intended length of time on the island in half so I needed to make the most of the 2 days I had. My short flight from Bali was scheduled to land at noon but as I was quickly discovering, Lion Air has a very “relaxed” opinion regarding on-time departures and I yet again found myself staring at my watch as my scheduled departure time flew by without comment from the gate agents (for those of you keeping score at home, I’m now 0-3 in on-time arrivals within Indonesia).

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Blissful in Bali

Posted by on Feb 16, 2014 | 0 comments

Blissful in Bali

It’s been 4 years since my last visit to the “Island of the Gods” and it seems a lot has changed. New shopping centers, new condos and most notably, two new Starwood hotel properties – the Sheraton Bali Kuta and the Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran, both of which opened in the past year. I’d originally planned on passing over Bali and spending four nights on the island of Lombok but when the Sheraton Bali Kuta invited me to drop by for a visit, well it was just too good an offer to refuse. I mean really, how can anyone be expected to say no to Bali? And after all I was in the neighborhood.

After a 6-hour drive to the airport in Makassar and yet another severely delayed flight (come on Lion Air, get your head in the game) it was after 8pm by the time I landed in Bali. Thankfully, the Sheraton’s car was ready and waiting for the brief drive to the hotel. Once I arrived, I was greeted exuberantly by the staff and ushered to a spacious ocean-front suite. After 3 nights on Sulawesi in a hotel that had power occasionally and running water, well, most of the time…it was literally heaven.

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The Beauty of Bira: Taking it Easy in Sulawesi

Posted by on Feb 15, 2014 | 0 comments

The Beauty of Bira: Taking it Easy in Sulawesi

The Indonesian archipelago is made up of more than 18,000 islands. Obviously, I didn’t have time to visit them all but I did want to break away from the more traditionally visited islands – like Bali and Java – and challenge myself a little while I was over here. Enter Sulawesi…

True to its wild-looking form on the map, Sulawesi presented a number of challenges, not the least of which was deciding where on the island to go. Sulawesi’s rugged interior was thick with mountainous jungles rendering it virtually impenetrable which left just the four spider-leg-like peninsulas jutting out into the sea as realistic options.

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