New Zealand | Rotorua

Rotorua mud pools.New Zealand’s North Island has great hiking and Hobbiton, but one of the main tourist attractions are the geothermal parks in Rotorua. There are many different parks and random geothermal hot spots throughout the area (giving the town that lovely sulfuric rotten egg smell). Kail and I visited Te Puia, home of the famous Pohutu Geyser.

New Zealand | Hobbiton

I enjoyed our hikes at Karangahake Gorge and Wairere Falls, but for me the highlight of the North Island was our tour of Hobbiton. It’s not that I’m a huge “Lord of the Rings” fan (and I only saw the first “Hobbit” movie and could barely stay awake). The setting for Hobbiton — better known asContinue reading “New Zealand | Hobbiton”

New Zealand | North Island Hiking

Karangahake Gorge.Kail and I heard a lot of reactions when we would tell people about our upcoming New Zealand campervan adventure. The most common was: 11 days is NOT enough time to see both the North and South Islands. We also got a lot of: Just go to the South Island because there’s nothing to see on the NorthContinue reading “New Zealand | North Island Hiking”

New Zealand | Campervan Adventure

Freedom camping in Glenorchy (South Island).After an awesome five days in Sydney, we embarked on the true highlight of our R&R in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore: 10 days in a campervan, exploring New Zealand’s North and South Islands. We rented the Breeze 2 through Wilderness Motorhomes and would highly recommend them to anyone planning a similar trip to New ZealandContinue reading “New Zealand | Campervan Adventure”

Australia | Blue Mountains

Jamison Valley.Our last full day in Sydney, Vicky took us to the Blue Mountains to visit Scenic World, a sort of amusement park tourist attraction, minus the roller coasters. The Blue Mountains begin about 30 miles or so west of Sydney proper, although they’re still considered part of the greater Sydney region.

Australia | Vivid

Our visit to Sydney happened to coincide with the last weekend of Vivid, a light, music and art festival that sets aglow Sydney’s iconic buildings and lights up other areas of town with multimedia installations. It was awesome to see the Sydney Opera House by day; it was even more awesome to see the Sydney Opera HouseContinue reading “Australia | Vivid”

Australia | Sydney

Our epic three-week R&R began with five nights in Sydney, where we blissfully had zero work to do in terms of planning thanks to our gracious hosts, Vicky and David, who let us crash at their apartment in lovely Coogee Beach and shepherded us around town. Kail and I really only had to fend for ourselvesContinue reading “Australia | Sydney”

Australia, New Zealand & Singapore | By the Numbers

Kail and I recently returned from an amazing three-week R&R to Australia, New Zealand and Singapore — our fifth and final R&R/RRB from Afghanistan. It was three distinct vacations in one and an amazing experience for which words and photos can’t do it justice, particularly the beauty of New Zealand.

RRB in the Philippines | Zubuchon

Lechon from Zubuchon.Anthony Bourdain called it the “best pig … ever!” And Zubuchon has been a money-making machine ever since. Kail and I did go there twice in two days, our last two days in Cebu. And that’s why I said there were unknown quantities of pork consumed on our trip to the Philippines.

RRB in the Philippines | Diving in Mactan

Even though we didn’t plan our Philippines trip around diving specifically, we wanted to fit in a couple dives during our vacation. Since this was our fourth (of five) R&Rs/RRBs and we don’t have any beach vacations planned for the foreseeable future, this was our last chance to dive in who knows how long.