I should start by saying that I had done almost no research on Belize prior to my arrival. Who had time? In fact, I just got around to booking my hotel while in Thailand a few weeks ago. I had no guidebook for this part of Central America but what little research I had done said that the best place to stay was on the island of Ambergris Caye, just off the coast of mainland Belize. Kind of ironic that I’ve never been to Central America before and on this trip I started (Costa Rica) and ended here.
Since there were no Starwoods or Hiltons on the tiny island of Ambergris Caye, I used the ever-reliable Trip Advisor website to evaluate my hotel possibilities. My only real necessity was a room right on the beach for as little money as possible – this being the end of the trip, I’m getting more frugal by the day. I narrowed down the options to 4 or 5 properties and e-mailed them all directly hoping to get a better deal than their website rates. I eventually decided on a hotel called, “The Tides.” It got a decent rating on trip advisor, it was right on the beach and at $57/night, the price was definitely right.Read More
There are two ways to get from the island of Tahiti to Moorea – a 30-minute ferry ride or an 8-minute flight; I chose the ferry. Partly because it is substantially cheaper (only about $12), but also because I thought the ferry ride would be scenic and fun. I only know two people who have been to French Polynesia before and both turned up their noses when I told them I was going to Tahiti. “Leave Tahiti as quickly as possible,” they said, “get out to Moorea and Bora Bora.” Sounded a bit snobbish, I thought, how could Tahiti not be worth a few days’ visit? Is it possible I have friends that are too good for Tahiti? Surely not.
But as the ferry passes between the breakers through the Viaire pass and I get my first look at Moorea’s stunning lagoons, now I am starting to understand. The distance between islands may be only 12 miles but arriving at the ferry port in Moorea is like entering another world. The island is ringed by a coral reef enclosing a narrow lagoon. Though, I do still think Tahiti is worth a visit, there are hues of brilliant blue surrounding the island of Moorea that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before in all of my travels. This is quite possibly the most beautiful place on earth.Read More
My Air Tahiti Nui flight from Auckland to Papeete, Tahiti was 5 hours long but after all the marathon flights I’ve been on lately; it seemed to go by in a flash. The most interesting part was that I left Auckland at 3pm on February 2nd and landed in Tahiti at 9:00pm on February 1st (thanks to a crossing of the International Date Line). It’s a little weird that I had to pay for a hotel for the night of Feb 1st…TWICE!!
We landed at Faa’a International Airport on the island of Tahiti at 9pm local time so, unfortunately, it was dark and I couldn’t see anything exciting on approach. We were greeted on the tarmac by ukulele music and a pair of Tahitian ladies handing out “tiare” flowers (the island gardenia) to be worn behind the ear. The tiare flowers smelled heavenly and it was kind of funny to see even the men at baggage claim with a little white flower behind their ear.Read More
The flight from Siem Reap to Seoul was a relatively short 6 hours and we arrived at Incheon Airport at 5:30am. Unfortunately, my connecting flight to Auckland wasn’t scheduled to leave until 7:30pm, leaving me with 14 hours to kill in Seoul. Since I had seen the city of Seoul before and the current temperature was somewhere in the low 20’s, I elected to spend the day in the Korean Airlines Lounge catching up on some work and updating the website from Cambodia. It was a productive day and before I knew it, it was time to board the 11-hour flight to Auckland.
I hadn’t originally planned a stop in New Zealand on this trip. However, I was determined to get to Tahiti and when I couldn’t get the inbound flight through my Skyteam RTW ticket; I had to look at other options. A quick search of the Air Tahiti Nui website revealed that a one-way ticket from Auckland to Papeete, Tahiti could be had for around $300. I was able to get a flight into Auckland through Skyteam and then a flight out of Papeete so I decided to spend one day in Auckland and booked my own ticket to get to Tahiti. Not a bad deal actually, since I loved New Zealand on my first trip a few years back.Read More
It is just before 5:00am and I am sitting in total darkness in the carriage of an auto-rickshaw (tuk-tuk) bouncing along a jungle road toward the ancient temple of Angkor Wat. The lone headlight on our vehicle is the only light to be seen for miles but even that is barely enough to light the road directly in front of us. The air is thick with humidity, even at this ungodly early hour.
As we drive through the darkness into what appears to be the middle of a jungle, I think to myself that I have just put a lot of blind faith in my tuk-tuk driver, Mr. Nak, whom I met only 5 minutes earlier in front of my hotel. Truth be told, he could be taking me anywhere. He asks if I have bought a ticket for the temples yet and I say no. That answer necessitates a brief stop along the “road to nowhere” at a brightly lit ticket booth where I am quickly photographed, relieved of $40 US and handed my 3-day pass (complete with photo) that will grant access to all the temples Siem Reap has to offer.Read More
After a relaxing short break in Langkawi, arrival into Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) was a breeze. A high-speed train from the airport (the KLIA Express) whisks you to the Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station in 28 minutes flat for about $11 US – not my cheapest ride from the airport but you can’t beat it in the efficiency department.
From the Sentral Station there are a myriad of other train lines to transfer to that will get you to various parts of the city. I knew that my hotel was next to a “KL Monorail” station so after a few minutes of searching, I found the Monorail line and bought a ticket at the machine. It’s funny, it always gives me a small amount of pride to be able to navigate my way through a foreign city’s train networks without having to ask any questions or look like a lost (and blond) tourist.Read More