Wednesday, April 28, 2010

until our next adventure...

the kates are homeward bound! here we are in la guardia airport, waiting for our very last flight, after checking our packs, over paying for fast food, a quick stop at the body shop (natch), and fumbling thru security for what feels like the hundredth and is unfortunately the last time.

thank you to the friends we made on our way, our lives would be far less full and our minds far less open without you . sending love to london, canada, berlin, norway, atlanta, melbourne, frankfurt, texas, ireland, aachen, chicago, brazil, paris, poland, bangkok, scotland and sweden.

and to our minnesotans, endless thanks for the emails and messages along our way. they kept us sane and grounded during our crazy adventures, and when surrounded by 24 hour friends and fleeting intimacy, we took ineffable (good word) comfort in the security of love from home.

so now we prepare for our next adventure. pack light, live long and travel far. lovefromkt

end of oz and ny

Our last couple of days in Australia flew by. Our day and a half in Sydney contained a lot of walking, beautiful parks, my 5th and KT's 7th viewing of Wicked, which has now been seen on 3 continents, and a view of the Sydney Opera House on a beautifully sunny day that did not disappoint. Although it felt like we had more travel days than not, we got back to Melbourne in time to see our darling Swedish friend before flying back to the States. After a 13 hour flight and a 39 hour day, we arrived in New York, ready for more adventure.

New York! Walking in the rain for three days, it is amazing that we did not get sick but we couldn't let a little precipitation stop us. Our first night KT and I walked all around the Upper East side in the POURING rain; ruining our clothes, our boots, and having one last rendezvous before meeting up with KT's friend Maggie and our Alyssa the next day. Lyss and I took a ferrry in the rain to Liberty and Ellis Islands while KT got to know downtown Manhattan. Like most cities we have visited, a large chunk of our time was spent walking in the city, Central Park, and our neighborhood. We took a stroll through Columbia's campus as if it were our own, even popping into the Pulitzer School of Journalism.

Broadway is one of the major draws of New York so naturally we spent a good amount of time at shows. A spur of the moment matinee rush brought us into Rock of Ages. We laughed through the entire show and left in an amazing mood, spending the next two days singing the numerous 80's rock songs that appeared in the show. Constantine (yes mom, from American Idol ;-)) was the lead and he was fantastic. Our last night we saw In the Heights, full of sass and latin dancing. Very different than anything I have ever seen with a great cast, music and story. Another evening was spent at Stand Up NY, a comedy club where we saw six comedians, most of whom we recognized from Comedy Central. The entertainment in this city is like nowhere else.

I am sitting at the counter, in the diner on the corner. Tom's Diner, AKA the Seinfeld diner, provided a delicious meal with Lyss and her friend Sasha. And as we are all big How I Met your Mother fans, we quested for McClaran's Pub, actual name: McGee's. Drenched and freezing, I thought about ordering (jerk chicken wrap), but went with Marshall's Mac and Jack. Delicious.

The food, friends and fun we have had in NY has been a great way to end our trip. One last adventure, easing us back into an American lifestyle. And although we were two of very few backpackers in this city, it has treated us right. A nice shower, sweatpants and my own bed are calling my name. It's time to go home.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

byron bay

After cairnes we headed down to the delightful hippie town of byron bay where we stayed at a hostel called the arts factory. there were murals on every wall, a pool and beach volleyball court, lots of bugs and always a good selection of tunes. people rarely wear shoes here, at the hostel and in town, which i found quite fun, but made for rather filthy feet :-) the arts factory had many options for sleeping quarters, including teepees and tents in the woods, but we were in a typical dorm which was just fine with me- i have enough bug bites!

here in byron we were finally able to jump out of an airplane!!! talk about a maaaad rush! i could not imagine a more exhilarating feeling on the planet, leaping (more like falling slowly forward after your tandem master pushed you...) from 14000 ft! kate and i both ordered dvds of our dives; videos and pictures we are waiting til we are back home to see, so we can share some of our excitement! AMAZING!

we also learned to surf on one of the nicest beaches in byron bay. i was far more nervous for surfing than skydiving- you cant screw up a skydive, but surfing... what a disappointment if you couldn't get up! fortunately i stood on my very first try and so did kate! our instructor mitch was incredibly encouraging, always finding the correct thing i did on an attempt even after a spectacular fall:-) we were out on the water for about 4 hours, and by the end we really got the hang of it, even learned to steer! it was exhausting but a really great time.

the arts factory had a talent show that night, so kate and i picked up a box of goon (ridiculously cheap slash terrible box wine that never actually says wine anywhere on the box! very popular with the youngins in australia) and headed to the show, which took place in the woodsy back yard of the hostel. there were some pretty great acts, but my favorite was cockatoo paul, the head dude at the hostel, who played drums with his feet, guitar with his hands, and alternated between playing the didgeridoo and singing, all at the same time! kate and i then rounded up a pretty cool crew of peeps and played 5 ducks, an awesome category drinking game i will be teaching at this month's schmenebo beertastic bonanza if anyone is interested!

byron bay had a very different vibe than anywhere we've been thus far, both at the arts factory and in town. it was a simpler life than we've experienced anywhere else in australia, the kind of lifestyle that i find to be perfect for vacations, but not for "real life". at least not for me.

one week of crazy travels left! ahhhhhHHHHHH!!!!!!! lovefromkt

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Our prebooked week of adventure started early in the morning as we slept through our flight from Melbourne to Cairnes (pronounced like Cans). We were scheduled for a skydive the afternoon we arrived, so of course we got pumped up throughout the morning. Unfortunately, when we were supposed to get picked up we were informed that our group was too small and we were rescheduled for tomorrow. That was fine with us, as long as we got to go. It was a beautiful day so we headed to the lagoon, a large pool overlooking the beach. Our roommate came with us too, friends seem to come easy in Australia :-) It was an absolutely perfect day.

The following day, however, was not perfect. It was raining. Our 10:30am skydive got bumped back to 12:30 and then cancelled all together. Our next two days were booked up so we had to work out some kind of refund. Rats! So after getting ourselves excited and ready 3 times now, we settled in for a grouchy day on the couch. It ended up getting better as we hung out with our new friend and got to see some more of the town. I even ended up winning a 2 for 1 skydive from a paper airplane contest, which I gave away, but was still pretty proud of!

Thursday, our 3rd day in Cairnes has been my absolute favorite day of our trip. We went White Water Rafting. It was absolutely brilliant. Such a thrill. We have a million bumps and bruises from this adventure but had so much fun. We were so giddy all day, talking and laughing with our great crew. We had the only all girl raft, with the exception of our guide Chase, but he took us over parts of the river that other boats went around because he believed in us that much. I also got to steer the boat and was offered a job on th spot because of my amazing abilities ;-) Such a good time!

Our last day in Cairnes was spent out on the Great Barrier Reef. We went snorkeling and KT went Scuba diving. My ears would not allow me to go down but KT said it was beautiful and really cool to be able to touch different things on the ocean floor and see the reef from below. Although the coral attacked us more than once, snorkeling was really fun too.

We spent our last night in Cairnes with 5 out of the 6 people in our hostel room. We all hung out on the balcony and then went out in the town together. So many new friends who we fall in love with and then have to say goodbye to. 24 hours friends are great but exhausting. The next morning we were picked up at 5am to head to the airport for our next adventure.

Cairnes left us with many bumps and bruises, but great stories to go with them. Australia has been good to us so far.


Saturday, April 17, 2010


it is currently 5:00 in the morning, and i am sitting in the melbourne airport waiting to fly up the east coast! i am extremely excited for our adventures ahead, but a little disappointed to be leaving melbourne so soon. note to self: you cannot see australia in two weeks!! we are planning visits to four main cities and there is still so much we are missing.

we stayed at a hostel called nomads melbourne. we made good friends here, friends we knew for more than 6 hours which was a welcome change. having to say goodbye so quickly and so often has been even harder with our new friends than it is with all our new favorite cities.

on saturday night we were invited to a friend of our roommate's housewarming party. we got a bit of a taste of life here for twenty somethings in the city, away from the land of other backpackers, and it turns out the ability to appreciate cheap wine is a skill necessary all over the globe!

we went to see an AFL (austalian football league) game, the west coast eagles against our very own north melbourne kangaroos. kate and i bought scarves and got our face painted and cheered with gusto for a game we didn't really understand. it was sort of a cross between rugby and american football. there was 36 players on the pitch at a time, wearing practically no protective gear. it was pretty intense. come on roo boys release your inner beast!!

there is an international comedy festival happening in melbourne right now, continuing i believe for another few weeks, and kate and i were lucky enough to see a few acts around town. while visiting federation square we saw two gentlemen from quebec who could lift and fling each other about with absurd ease, very slapstick style comedy, and just last night we saw several stand up comedians in the lobby of our new hostel, habitat hq in st. kilda.

the art and music scene here in melbourne is delightful, and i am seriously considering getting a work visa and coming to live out here. there are some cities where you feel like you're vacationing, and others where you feel at home. melbourne was welcoming and exciting, filled with people who take a lot of pride in where they live. i hope to see myself back here some day. lovefromkt

island one: koh phangan

After sweating our butts off in the city for a few days, we were ready for some ocean. The overnight bus, which we thought would be so convenient, ended up taking over 18 hours to get us to our island resort, but once we got there, it was all worth it.

The view was breath taking, the water pristine, and our bamboo bungalow a quick 2 minute walk to the ocean, 1 minute to the pool. We spent most of our time on this island relaxing and soaking up the sun. Our afternoons were spent in and out of the ocean, building a sand turtle named clive (which our swedish friends later watched get peed on by a pack of dogs, sad day!), jumping into the pool and making friends. The town was not far down the road so we ventured there for the occansional meal, and once in a successful quest for a frisbee, but mostly stayed near the resort during the day.

A couple of our evenings were spent on a beach called Haad Rin, the most touristy part of the island, about a 20 minute taxi ride over death defying hills (with signs saying dangerous terrain, experienced drivers only) from our resort. Through all of our travels when we mentioned that we were going to Thailand we were asked if we were heading to the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangon which lead us to this island in the first place. On the 30th of March we headed to Haad Rin for the biggest beach party you can imagine. We went with a group of Swedes (Helen, Felicia and Matias) that we had met at the resort and had an amazing time! Over 8,000 people drinking out of buckets with neon paint on their bodies danced the night away. There was fire limbo, which KT and Matias mastered, and a million things to see and do.

We also spent our last night on the island with Helen, Felicia and Matias on Haad Rin, smoking a hookah and enjoying the beach. The weather, while still hot, was much more enjoyable as we could jump into the pool or run into the ocean any time it got to be too much. The beautiful view and great new friends made Koh Phangon a great success, I would highly recommend a trip there, especially for the Full Moon party ;-)


Sunday, April 11, 2010

island two: koh samui

After koh phangan we headed to a larger island called koh samui. some of us got a rather wicked nasty sunburn in koh phangan so our time in koh samui was spent less relaxing on the beach and more in long sleeves. and with the heat from hell this could be pretty terrible. but not on bike day! kate and i decided to brave the terrifyingly hectic roads of thailand, left side driving and all, and rented scooters! the first twenty minutes or so were rather terrifying. we were going about 40kph-- the speed limit mind you-- and everyone else mustve been going about 100kph. vans and other huge vehicles passed very close to us and other bikers swerved all around us. we were the only people on the road wearing helmets. but after we started to feel more in control of our bikes it became pretty exciting! and the wind on the road kept my skin cool for the first time in days. we took the bikes to see the grandmother/grandfather rocks, some pretty hilarious rock formations on a beautiful viewpoint. we did some hiking around in the jungly areas as well, but flip flops and the heat and bugs brought us back to the comfort of our bad ass bikes pretty quick!

we went on a day safari while here in koh samui which gave us some of the best and worst experiences we've had thus far in thailand. we got to go elephant trekking which was remarkable! we rode on an elephant name samgee, a well behaved baby boy who was very sweet and let us pet him and ride on his head which apparently is not uncomfortable for them. hopefully. we learned later that it was a very good thing that samgee was so well behaved or we had have seen the terrible way that the trainers enforce orders with the animals. we went to an elephant show, a monkey show, and a crocodile show, and the treatment of the animals was pretty terrible. they stabbed at them with giant spear things and pulled on their ears and the monkeys were all in full makeup and clothing, all for tourist entertainment. it was sometimes quite hard to watch. but during the elephant show an elephant played tug o war with 23 guys and won rather easily. now that was impressive! also on the day trip we got to ride on top of a jeep thru the jungle, swim in a waterfall, see a mummified monk, go to the magic buddha garden, and eat a traditional thai lunch. all in all a good day!

everything was beautiful on koh samui. the hut we stayed in was tiny, stuffy, and the bed was a board covered by a sheet, but we were feet from the ocean and always had a nice breeze. it was a delightful place that perhaps without my skin burning like a mo fo it would have been one of my favorites:-) lovefrom kt