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New Zealand – the Coromandel Peninula

April 23, 2015

Cathedral Cove


I am going to attempt to get this blog caught up on all my latest travels, starting with the most recent and working all the way back to the beginning of Asia. I leave in a few days on a 6 day road trip up part of the west coast of Australia, so I am quickly getting behind on posting all my trips!

So let’s go back to New Zealand. I know I posted a few pictures of New Zealand once, but there is so much more to write and post. New Zealand is fabulous. And by fabulous I mean it’s my new favorite destination. Seriously. There are downsides, of course. One being that it’s ridiculously expensive. So you have been warned before you go. =) But the upsides are the fact that the geography and topography of the place is amazing. It’s constantly changing and so unique and stunningly beautiful. And it’s not overrun with people! We had most places to ourselves when we stopped at random places along the way. It was awesome.

For our last few days there we drove up to “the Coromandel” as locals call it and had a relaxing time on the beaches there. The water wasn’t as warm as we had hoped (even at Hot Water Beach) so we didn’t swim, but we did get some nice pictures. The whole area is just gorgeous, with some nice hikes along the beach area.





























A closeup of all the tiny little shell pieces that made up the sand in the beach



Perth and Rottnest Island

April 21, 2015


So I had a long post all typed up, complete with pictures, and didn’t realize that wordpress wasn’t saving it as I went along, and I lost the entire thing. =( I rarely write long blog posts anymore, so the fact that I took the time to do it and then lost it made me so sad.

We’ll try this again.

So much has happened in the last few weeks! I relocated to a suburb of Perth (it’s pretty far away, actually, about 40 minutes) and now live on 10 acres of forest! Quite a change from my last place, but I like it so far. We can see a million stars out here at night, so I LOVE that aspect of it. Supposedly there are kangaroos that live on the property, or at least visit every day, but I haven’t seen them yet. I heard them hopping through the bushes one night but that’s it. We also get some different birds here than we did in Brisbane. They are not as colorful as the rainbow lorikeets, but they are still pretty.

Last week I spent a few days up near Perth since a friend from Sydney was visiting and we spent one day on Rottnest Island. We had such gorgeous weather, it really was a great day to be there. The downside to visiting islands in Australia is that the last ferry leaving the islands at night is always so early. (4 or 4:30 usually) So you don’t get much time on the island unless you spend the night.

Rottnest costs around 60.00 for just the ferry and then there is a park fee of around 18.00 (I don’t remember the exact cost). We opted to not rent bikes (most people rent bikes, it seems) and instead took the bus around the island (20.00 for all day). I’m glad we took the bus because the island is big and there is no way we could have seen as much as we did if we’d taken bikes. However, if I went back and spent a night on the island I’d probably rent a bike then.

The island has so many stunning beaches and I couldn’t stop taking pictures (of course).






New Zealand fur seals








One of many friendly quokkas on the island





The water around the island is incredible. So crystal clear. It reminded me of the Caribbean. I want to go back sometime and snorkel there!

Where in the world is Jen? [New Zealand]

March 26, 2015

Ahhhhh I have so much I want to SAY and POST about this place. And I have had about a million missed photo opportunities so far because of roads where we just can’t stop, or because of feeling bad to ask my friends to stop yet AGAIN [two minutes from our last stop] for that perfect photo. And so some things I will just have to remember in my very forgetful brain. ;)

Sorry I can’t share it all with you, I wish I could. You will just have to come see for yourself! And I will post more about NZ in a few weeks, but for now here are a few random pics from our trip so far [6 days in]. _MG_8602

_MG_8691 _MG_9163 _MG_9428 _MG_9455 IMG_8866

IMG_9046 _MG_9110



March 19, 2015


One of the highlights of our trip was Bali. Of course everyone knows Bali as a huge tourist destination, and there is certainly a good reason for that! It’s beautiful, the people are friendly, and everything is incredibly cheap. [I’m a fan of anyplace that charges $5.00 for an hour massage!] Plus the food is great! We wished we had planned to spend more time there, and less time in Thailand, but live and learn! Now we know for next time. =)

There are several different places to stay in Bali, and after hours of research, we decided on Seminyak. It turned out to be a good decision, as it’s known for having lots of spas around, and we did want to spend a lot of time at the spa. =) I would definitely go back to Seminyak next time.

The first day in Bali we hired a driver to drive us around to all the must-see places (the sea temples, monkey forest, rice terraces, etc) and at $50.00 for ten hours, a driver is a pretty good deal (especially if you have several people in your group to split the bill).
















Our view from lunch one day



Two adult monkeys fighting over the baby. He finally escaped and ran as fast as he could, with them both in pursuit. It was so funny to watch!











Birthdays overseas

March 11, 2015

I have LOTS and lots of catching up to do on this blog, and I plan to try and catch up starting in April sometime. =)

[We are currently in Bali and LOVING it. But more on that another time.]

Here are some pictures from my birthday in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We did a LOT that day. So it was definitely a memorable day.





More on Chiang Mai in a later post.


I’m in southeast Asia, and yes I’m still alive

February 28, 2015

So I know I haven’t posted in a while. Right now we are in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and this is literally the first time I’ve had some extra time to just do whatever. We’ve been keeping pretty busy, so it’s nice to finally have some time to relax. Especially after the last two days. There is sooo much to get caught up on here. Too much to write, actually, but I’ll do my best. After a whirlwind trip up to Siem Reap [I need to go back someday and see more of Angkor Wat!] we headed back for Phnom Penh yesterday morning. Unfortunately one of our group members had had to go to the hospital the night before, so yesterday morning we stopped by the hospital to get her and her husband to take them back with us to Phnom Penh. Once we got there though, we found out she had to stay one more night. So that led to lots of scrambling to figure out what to do next. A few visits to her room, and a few hours later, we had flights booked for the next day, and a nurse and a translator to stay and fly with them. Then the rest of us left to eat lunch and hit the road. We finished up our [interesting] lunch around 1 pm and started the drive back. We figured we’d get back to PP around 9 or 9:30. But we hadn’t accounted for two different stops for two different flat tires, in the middle of nowhere, so we ended up pulling in around 12:30 am or so. That lonnnng drive home was memorable to say the least. So much I could write….I don’t think any of us will ever forget that trip!!

After getting a few hours of sleep last night, we left this morning to visit an orphanage and then went to lunch and to do some shopping. Some people went to a museum. I opted to come back and relax here. =)

Some views along the way to the orphanage, while at the orphanage, and along the way home:



The missionary said this road hadn’t been blocked like this when he drove by earlier



Kids at the orphanage getting ready to sing for us



They loved the balloons!








When we drove this road earlier, it had been clear. By the time we left the orphanage, this wedding party had taken over the road so we had to drive across the adjacent dirt field.


You’ll see this kind of scaffolding all across southeast Asia. But I’ve never seen such an extensive network of it.


A week’s worth of grocery shopping?



Sooo many sights along the way. So many thoughts. So much I need to write. So little time!

The Travel Life

February 2, 2015

I recently came across this article and loved it. [You should go read it] There’s just something about traveling/living abroad that no one else can relate to, unless they have done it too. There is something so wonderful and magical and inspiring and life-changing about traveling this gorgeous globe that makes me want everyone to get to experience it. And so I am tempted to gush about all the awe-inspiring places I’ve been to to anyone who will listen. The only problem is that sometimes people just think you are bragging about all you’ve seen or done. I don’t think they will really understand until they do it for themselves. We didn’t create this amazing planet. So there’s nothing to brag about, except how amazing our God is, and that is worth bragging about, for sure. And I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to get to experience it all.

I say all that to say, I am ridiculously excited about the next two months. I have to force myself not to talk about it much because I don’t want everyone to start avoiding me when they see me, ha, but I have seriously been counting the days for the past few weeks. I am excited, partly,  because this job has been a lot of work and I am happy that it will be over soon. It’s been a blessing being here, and it’s taught me a lot, and it’s afforded me a great opportunity to see what is probably the prettiest state in Australia, but it’s also been a challenge and I am ready for something new! I am also excited because I get to see my parents again for a few weeks! [it will be much too short but I am thankful for the time I get]. Also, I am really looking forward to getting lots of cheap massages and spa treatments in Thailand and Bali, ha. And also for the chance to travel some more, to see some new countries, to be challenged again for missions around the world, to spend time with some of my home church family, and to meet up with some friends [in New Zealand].

I don’t take for granted this amazing life God has given me. It’s honestly overwhelming all that He has given me and let me do these past few years. When I stop and think about it, it really is slightly unbelievable. It’s the life I always marveled at [when I saw other people living it], and always dreamed of living, but I never really imagined I would be doing it!

I wish more people would take the time to get out of their own area and see more of the world around them. It really is much more doable than people think. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and you really can find the money for it if you want to. I cringe when I hear of people taking their kids on vacation to Disney World.* If you can afford a Disney World vacation, you can certainly afford to take your kids to Costa Rica to climb some volcanoes and feed some wild monkeys and exotic birds. You can afford to take them whitewater rafting and to the Caribbean Sea. You can afford at least that if nothing else! [I haven’t been to Costa Rica but it’s on my list and flights there are as cheap as to Florida, so no excuses!] You could also fly to Puerto Rico for cheap. Or the Virgin Islands. Disney World? I don’t plan on having kids (I know, never say never, so whatever happens is cool but…) but you can bet if I ever did, we would not be spending all our vacation time on paved concrete eating popcorn and buying plastic swords. [I know, there’s a place for everything, but some people do this year after year!] My kids would know how to find Brazil on a map and how to locate China and Russia and Australia. ;)* They might even be able to tell you hello in five different languages.

Ok, maybe I do need to have kids after all [wink]. Or maybe that’s what nieces and nephews are for.

Because, when you live someplace where you get visitors like these in your backyard [daily], it’s hard to not want others to get to experience it, too!






Can you find all six rainbow lorikeets in this picture?



*This is prompted, in part, by a recent babysitting job I had. The 3 year old boy had a world map taped to his playroom floor and could point out several countries when I asked him about them! Kudos, parents! And it was written and scheduled to post before any of you posted about Disney World on facebook, just for the record. =) Nothing against amusement parks, especially if you live local to them. I just think there are better ways to spend thousands of dollars when planning a vacation and I wish more people were more aware of the huge, incredible world around them.



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