South Africa Safari

We ended our grand adventure in South Africa where we had an opportunity to finally see a rhino, thus completing our big five sightings.  We stayed at the Thanda Game Reserve where we had our own individual lodge complete with a hot tub.  A highlight of our visit was having cocktails in the bush at sundown.  We spent quite a good bit of our safari drive hanging out with a pride of lions next to a watering hole.

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Kenya Safari

The main reason we chose the itinerary we did was for the stopover in Kenya, which gave us an opportunity for an overnight safari in the Masai Mara.  Our cruise was originally meant to have an overnight in Mombasa but cancelled at the last minute due to terrorist activity in the area.  Mombasa was replaced with Zanzibar, Tanzania.  Thankfully, we were able to fly in from there.  We stayed at a tented camp next to a watering hole and were woken by hippos at dawn.  We saw all but one of Africa’s big five, we missed only the rhino.  Our driver was very surprised we saw a leopard as they are mostly active at night.

Madagascar

What an amazing place!  We had a glorious day visiting with lemurs then snorkeling from a small island with a BBQ lunch buffet.  The lemurs live free in the trees but would come for tasty snacks when called.  If you smeared a little bit of banana on your hands, they would jump out of the trees onto your shoulders to have a snack.  I, of course, couldn’t leave Madagascar without adding to my vanilla stash.

I bought a MUCH smaller bundle of vanilla beans than what this guy had for sale. This is probably $500 worth.

 

Seychelles

We spent two days in the Seychelles docked next to a tuna factory, which is as lovely as it sounds.  I don’t think anyone visited any of the outdoor restaurants or bars on our ship during that stay.

We escaped to the other side of the island where we got a day pass at a gorgeous Hilton property.

Drank ridiculous cocktails.

Visited a spice plantation where there were giant fruit bats circling overhead.

Nutmeg grows on trees inside something that looks like a peach.

We got to snorkel for a bit.

In some really crazy weather.

Cooking School in Thailand

One of the things I was most looking forward to on our trip was attending the Blue Elephant cooking school in Phuket.  It did not disappoint.  The day started with a visit to a huge bustling market where we purchased some of the ingredients for the four course meal we learned to prepare.  The restaurant was beautiful, and housed a culinary classroom where we watched their chef make green papaya salad, green curry chicken, spicy tom yum soup and shrimp pad thai.  After each course was demonstrated, we relocated to a hands-on classroom fitted with a cooking station for each person to recreate what we had just learned to make.  When everything was done, we joined the other diners in their restaurant to enjoy what we had just made ourselves.  I’ve already made this entire meal again since we got home.  I was thrilled to find Blue Elephant curry mixes in the international section of our tiny little rural WalMart!

Visitors

Jane Doe, our babysitting deer is back in the pasture hanging with our sheep and lambs.  She has been joined by someone new, a skunk.  We do smell skunks around the farm on occasion but this is the first time we’ve seen one out and about.  It seems to like our place and has found a spot out by the barn to settle in, dang it.  I chased five deer from our back yard this morning and our garbage can was raided by raccoons last night.  Bears have been spotted in our neighborhood.  It must be that time of year.

Malaysia

It takes a lot to get us on a nine hour excursion, but the idea of visiting Borobudur temple got us on the bus.  It’s the world’s largest Buddhist temple, built in the 9th century and abandoned in the 14th.  It was rediscovered in 1814 and has since been restored and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The temple is a few hours drive from the port of Semarang with heavy traffic so we had a police escort with lights and sirens the entire way there and back.  They drive on the opposite side of the road than the U.S. there (and most every other place in the world we visited).  We drove most of the trip head on into traffic on their side of the road.   The temple was massive and impressive.  We climbed to the top, the views were incredible.  The grounds around the temple were gorgeous and they fed us lunch before putting us back on the bus.  It was a good use of our day in Semarang!

 

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