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What I’m thinking Friday, 18 May

Blog, What I'm thinking

What I’m thinking Friday, 18 May

5 Comments 18 May 2012

While most of the time I enjoy having my own blog, publishing what I want and designing as I please, sometimes I long for the days when I was just a writer. This past week I’ve been dealing with a “virus” on the website. Well, I actually don’t think it was a virus, just virus-like script.

I never noticed it in admin, nor did I while visiting the site from my own computer, but I received a few emails from readers this past week warning me about it as their computers warned them. Firstly, thanks to all the readers that went out of their way to send me messages. That was so kind and I really appreciate it.

Anyway, I think everything is pretty much sorted now. The problem seemed to be with the script from my the Sexy Bookmarks plugin. It’s really annoying to deal with, especially because I was planning to post a few things this week, but didn’t want to draw people to the site if they were just going to be warned away. Expect those posts next week!

Anyway, a half day of work today gave me some time to read, watch and google things on the internet.

What I’m reading

Hektic Travels is asking people to vote on where they should go next. I’ve noticed a lot of sites doing this recently and think it’s a really fun way to travel. But what I liked about the post on Hektic Travels is a couple things.

First, maybe I’m the last person to learn of this, but they mentioned Skyscanner, which is a flight search engine that allows users to leave their destination blank. The site then lists all the destinations available and the price of flights to them. I just love the spontaneity of it. It’s on my bucket list to just show up at an airport one day and pick a flight, but I’m always afraid it will be really expensive. I actually found some cheap flights using this method on Skyscanner.

Next is the contest they feature with this post. To enter they ask people to create a trip with $US650 using Skyscanner. I don’t mind not booking things and just showing up, but I actually have a lot of fun planning trips, so entering this contest was great for me. Anyway, I found cheap flights to Tonga, which led me to research the country and learned that it is one of the only places people can swim with humpback whales.

The contest is still on for a few more days, but don’t enter, because I really want to win the Kindle they’re giving away (evil laugh).

I also read a post a friend sent to me and Ric by BBC America that lists 10 things Americans do that drive Brits nuts. Ric said he agreed with them all, the jerk haha.

Expect a rebuttal BBC.

What I’m watching

Loads of Prison Break. Plus I got to catch up on Mad Men and found Rory Gilmore half naked on one of the episodes. I was shocked!

But I have a music video to offer all of you. You might notice a Brazilian influence on the website in the upcoming weeks. No we did not move to Brazil, but we are living with some Brazilians and learning loads about the culture as well as picking up some Portuguese.

Flavy, one of my roommates, played “Boa Sorte/Good Luck” by Vanessa da Mata and Ben Harper for me this week. I love the song. I’ve always been a fan of Harper and Vanessa da Mata’s voice is gorgeous. If you are the type to search for music from around the world, here is a good one for you.

What I’m Googling

Passport covers.

I’ve had my passport for about five years and over 30 countries now, so it’s looking quite rough. USA gave me a cover with the passport, but I threw it away on my first foreign flight with it because I found it really annoying to have to take out for people.

Anyway, it looks like I’ll have to put up with that now if I want to preserve Ol’ Blue.

When I Googled covers, Etsy popped up quite high. I love buying things on Etsy, because the items are always really unique and I always like supporting independent designers.

I found a really cute canvas cover with the “Oh the places you’ll go..” stitched on the cover, which is one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books for only $US13.95. Not bad.

What do you think?

What I’m seeing

The sun. I work ten hours a day in a pack house and it’s Autumn in New Zealand right now, so very rarely do I get the chance to enjoy the sun. We got off early today and a friend said, “Oh my god, look. It’s the sun. It exists!” Needless to say, it was fun frolicking around town in the light of day.

What I’m planning

One thing I missed last time I visited Thailand was the Similan Islands. I heard the area has some pretty good dive sites, but I also want to visit a few islands. Plus Ric doesn’t dive, so I want to find a cruise that allows cheaper fares for snorkelers and offers a mixture of land and sea destinations.

I’m thinking it will be easier just to book in Thailand, but does anyone have any companies to recommend?

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What I’m thinking Friday, 11 May

Blog, What I'm thinking

What I’m thinking Friday, 11 May

8 Comments 11 May 2012

Supermoon in Greece.

Supermoon in Thailand.

Supermoon in New Zealand.

If you haven’t heard yet, the moon was super this past week. Matador Network writes that a supermoon is “a rarely-occurring event when a full moon occurs at the closest point in its orbit around Earth.”

A friend of mine noticed it as we left work in Te Puke, New Zealand around 5:30 p.m. I saw photos of the moon posted all around the web. It was pretty hard to miss this massive moon, but in case you did, Travel Media Ninja put together the 20 best photos of the super moon.

But I’m getting ahead of myself posting links already. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about this week.

What I’m reading

Proving that you’re never too old to backpack Australian Keith Wright is still budget traveling around the world at 95 years old. Right now he’s gearing up for a two month trip through Europe.

Beers and Beans gave me some serious travel lust this past week. They featured a stunning set of photos from their hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey. The photography on their site never fails to amaze me, this post is no exception.

What I’m watching

Rapper Krispy Kreme’s smash hit “The Baddest”. Love this song, video and the other kid in it who just stands there with a gun for four minutes. It’s hysterical. “I have 400 houses and 400 mouses.”

In other silly Youtube videos, Pat Burrell is coming back to Philadelphia, well, only for 24 hours to officially retire as a Phillie. In this video men who have felt the wrath of Burrell’s good looks warn other men in relationships to beware of his return.

I remember when Pat the Bat first came to Philadelphia as a rookie. I was in love with him. I still wear his jersey to this day. I’m happy to see that he’ll be retiring in that jersey.

What I’m googling

While eating a rice-filled meal, I got to wondering how rice goes from paddy to plate. Married2Travel put together a video about the entire process as it happened in her homeland of the Philippines.

What I’m seeing

Absolutely nothing. I’m working loads trying to save up for my next big trip.

What I’m planning

Well, my next big trip funny enough. Ric and I are planning to tramp across the world for five months this Autumn and Winter. We’ll be hitting Thailand, USA and England. I became quite excited about the trip tonight when we started looking up flight prices.

We actually found a $350 flight from Bangkok, Thailand to JFK in New York. It’s really cheap but with Aerosvit Ukrainian Airlines, which I’ve never heard of and has received horrible reviews on Skytrax.

Have you ever flown with an airline you were unsure of? How was it?

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What I’m thinking Friday, 4 May

Blog, What I'm thinking

What I’m thinking Friday, 4 May

2 Comments 03 May 2012

After 16 days straight of work, I finally had a day off this week.


This meant catching up on my reading, video watching and of course, my Googling. It also meant I had time to move house properly. Yes, I’m moving yet again. That makes four moves in New Zealand, not including moves to hostels, camp sites or that night we slept in our car during a weather bomb.

I’m really excited for this move too. We’re moving in with two of my work mates who are from Brazil. They’re a lovely couple and hopefully I can pick up some Portuguese while living with them.

Maybe expect some Brazilian influence in upcoming posts, but this is what I’m thinking this week.

What I’m reading

I think about India at least twice a day. I’ve wanted to visit the country for as long as I can remember. I met a girl who was as fascinated by the country as me while studying in London in 2007 and we are finally starting to plan a trip together for next year.

I mention all this, because I read some great posts about the country this week.

The Shooting Star is a great overall blog about India. Shivya Nath created the blog and she gives valued travel information about her homeland. I found her post “Moving to Delhi? 9 survival tips for women.” to be really helpful. It offers tips specifically for women and others that can benefit everyone, like how to avoid Delhi belly.

GQ Trippin also featured a helpful post about India this week. The traveling couple spent some time touring the country recently. Kieu wrote a comprehensive post about navigating India’s train system.

What I’m watching

I haven’t been watching a lot of different music videos this week, which I do often, but two over and over again.

First is Plan B’s Ill Manors. Ric showed me the video a week or two ago and I haven’t been able to stop watching it. In the music video the northeast London rapper guides people through an “urban safari” while commenting on the politics of the country. It includes footage from the England riots last year.

I’m not going to comment on the politics of the video, because I don’t know enough about politics or equality of life in England to do so. But I will say it’s a pretty powerful video that I don’t think you’ll be able to watch just once.

Drifting to a completely different music genre and type of video, I also can’t get enough of the lyrical version of Jason Mraz’s “I won’t give up on us”. It’s not the song’s official music video but I love it, because it has post cards and vintage suitcases, which are two things I’m obsessed with.

What I’m Googling

Ric mentioned to his brother that he visited Crown Casino in Melbourne, which is the largest casino in the southern hemisphere. It got me thinking, what’s the largest casino in the northern hemisphere?

The answer: The Venetian Macao in Macao, China. The casino is 546,000 square feet and has 3,000 gaming machines in it.

What I’m seeing

Tauranga. We visited New Zealand’s fastest growing city this weekend for a drink and some shopping. Some of the restaurants along the strand here are worth checking out, especially Bobby’s Fresh Fish Market.

What I’m planning

I’m getting really excited to go home in November. Ric and I will be visiting the USA for about a month this year, if all goes to plan. I want to spend a few days in New York, relax in good old NJ and maybe even spend a few days in Key West.

I visited the island a lot when I was younger. My parents loved it there. But I haven’t been back in years. Since I was a child during all of my visits, I don’t think I experienced the place properly. So I might try and plan a four day getaway there on our upcoming trip the the States.

I’m having trouble finding independent bloggers who have written about viisting Key West. Any suggestions?

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What I’m thinking Friday, 20 April

Blog, What I'm thinking

What I’m thinking Friday, 20 April

5 Comments 20 April 2012

It’s April 20 and the weather is starting to get chilly in parts of the southern hemisphere. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the switch in seasons down here, but the weather where I’m living at the moment really feels like Autumn in northeast USA.

I walked out of work this week to hoodie-weather and the smell of log fire. This is the first time I’ve felt Fall in over two years. It’s my favorite season, but I’m not looking forward to what follows. Hopefully Mount Maunganui stays somewhat warm in the winter.


Two “100” events seemed to dominate my feeds all this past week, the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking and the 100 day countdown to the London Olympics. I never realized there were so many travel opportunities having to do with the Titanic, but I’m keen to visit some in the future.

For now, these are some things I’ve been thinking about this past week.

What I’m reading

On the subject of the Titanic, Mariellen at Breathe Dream Go wrote my favorite post having to do with the famous ship. The Titanic is linked with several of her personal memories. I never thought of the ship that way, but I have about other things. Thanks for opening up.

Aaron from Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures also opened up about a personal experience in his guest post for Globe Trotter Girls, “Jumping into the “Travel Closet” in Egypt”.

In the post he talks about traveling an an “out gay man” through Egypt where “people are commonly arrested for being gay”. He wrote about a personal encounter there with someone who questioned him on the matter and asks the readers what they would have done in that situation.

Wandering Earl opened up about a much lighter subject. In his post “There’s nothing wrong with a 40-hour workweek”, he asks “What’s wrong with work?” Like him, I love work. I usually get a bit restless after a few months of travel without work. Plus I love working abroad because it gives me a chance to get to know people and live as a local.

What I’m watching

While we may have “unlimited internet” where we are living at the moment, like buffets in New Zealand, that doesn’t really mean unlimited. The internet slows down tremendously after we reach a certain number of MBs. So basically, I haven’t been able to watch anything this past week.

Not even Mad Men!

But I did just learn how to play snake on YouTube videos while waiting for them to load. As soon as the dotted-circle appears, hit one of the four arrow keys on your keyboard and the circle will turn into a snake. Continue using the arrow keys to direct the snake to eat circles that appear on the screen.


What I’m Googling

I watched an episode of David Attenborough’s Nature’s Great Events this week, so I was Googling a lot, especially about phytoplankton.

Did you know that phytoplankton is responsible for half of the earth’s oxygen? The one-celled organism does so during photosynthesis when oxygen is released into water.

What I’m seeing

Ghost of travels past. I’ve written a lot about Port Douglas this past week. It’s been nice to look back and reflect on my time there, but sad to remember how many great things there are to do there and not be able to actually be there right now.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

What I’m planning

Some unexpected travel ideas popped up this week. It started while reading Christine in Spain’s post about how to live in the Spain. Ric and I always talk about spending some time in Spain. It’s easy for him because he has an EU passport, but as an American, it’s going to be a bit trickier for me.

Christine’s post was so helpful on the matter. I’m going to follow up on one of her work suggestions in the next year, so hopefully I’ll get to live in Spain in the future.

But the planning didn’t stop there. We would be going to Spain right after New Zealand. I thought, maybe it be fun to try and reach the European country by going completely overland after flying from New Zealand to Thailand.

Has anyone ever done something similar?

It would be a pretty epic trip traveling through central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. We’re both pretty excited about the possibility of it.

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I still believe in paradise

Australia, Australia, Blog, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under, Moving Abroad

I still believe in paradise

7 Comments 19 April 2012

If you haven’t noticed, the theme on Heels and Wheels this week is Port Douglas. It’s been almost two years since I first stepped foot in the this tiny piece of paradise in Far North Queensland, Australia.

I still can’t stop thinking about it.

I didn’t write a lot about Port Douglas while I was there. In fact, I didn’t write much about anything. I was so immersed in the lifestyle there that all I did pretty much was…live. I didn’t waste loads of time catching up on places I wasn’t living or researching places I wanted to visit in the future. Instead I spent my time living like I belonged, as if no other life existed outside the town.

I’m a contradiction in many ways. I like pickles, hate cucumbers. I embrace city life, but long for seclusion. One of my biggest contradictions is that I love travel, but I have a slight obsession with small-town life.

I grew up in the suburbs of southern New Jersey. Sure I was close to small towns, beaches and big cities, but the suburbs where I am actually from was kind of like a limbo to all those things. Where I’m from there are a lot of people, open spaces, strip malls and schools. It’s not the city, but it’s definitely not a small town. Sure you might bump into someone at Wawa, but you don’t see the same barista every day at a one-of-a-kind cafe.

I don’t know if it was shows like Gilmore Girls or towns like New Hope, PA, but something long ago gave me this longing for small town life. A place where everybody knows my name. A place where I can walk into the town center from my house and bump into friends along the way. A place where there is a small enough number of people to feel like you’re part of a community, but more than enough people to keep things lively.

Yet, I also love visiting places where no one knows me, meeting new people and trying new things. I know I’m weird, but I found a place that brought these two contradictions together and it was Port Douglas.

The town is not very big. In fact its center is pretty much just one street. But it’s beautiful. God is Port Douglas beautiful. Plus it’s so relaxing. A visit there almost feels like one to the islands. Port is mainly a destination town, but a small number of people call it their home. So living there, you get a mixture of locals who you’ve known for years and visitors who arrive in bulk every few days.

How small town does this street look? Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

It was a job that led me to move there while living in Australia. At first, my time there was not going very well. I wanted to use my time in Port to work on my blog and get in shape. It all started out well enough. I was working, blogging and running. Plus I was meeting loads of people from my hostel, but the fact that I had set up a lifestyle for the town and not the opposite, led me to frustration.

Within a month of living in Port, I was hating the job that brought me there and didn’t feel like I was really getting to know people because I wasn’t going out so I could wake up early and run. Finally, I let go and though I lost that job that brought me to Port as well as my workout routine, I gained something spectacular.

Between the people at the hostel and the people at my new job, I almost felt like I was part of a big family. Every day I’d go to work and come home to find out what mischief “the guys” were getting into. We slept together (by that I mean six bedroom dorms), ate together and played together.

The guys.

After a few weeks the people I recognized from town started to recognize me. I had a coffee shop I visited every day and the guys there knew my drink, my name and a bit about me. I had a friend who I went for regular Sunday breakfasts with. Eventually I also found a partner here. This is where I met Ric, which adds to the town’s meaning to me.

When I was living in Port, that was all I was doing. It was the good life.

It’s been almost two years since I left and I still get choked up thinking about it, because the thing about Port Douglas is, I can never go back.

I said this to a friend as we boarded a bus to finally leave the Port Douglas.

She looked at me funny and replied, “Of course you can. You can always go back.”

But the truth is, I can’t. None of us can. Sure we can visit the town and I’m sure I will visit many times in the future, but the summer that I had there, the feeling, I can never go back to that. It’s sad, but I think it’s just a part of life. Sure Port is special to me, but I’m sure everyone has a place that’s special to them the same way. Everyone has a Port and while we may never be able to go back that place will stay with us forever.

“And me, I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for, ’cause it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something, and if you find that moment… it lasts forever…” – Richard “The Beach”

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What I’m thinking Friday, 13 April

Blog, What I'm thinking

What I’m thinking Friday, 13 April

5 Comments 13 April 2012

Travel is always on my mind. I read loads of travel blogs, watch travel videos, dream of destinations and even plan trips in my head when I have a spare time to zone out. So I thought, why not share these thoughts with my travel-enthusiastic readers.

This is the first edition of “What I’m thinking”, which is pretty self explanatory. In this weekly series, I’ll include two to three blog posts and videos that have got me thinking in the week prior.

Also included in these posts will be a random travel fact that I probably wondered about during the week and Googled the truth. Since I think travel is a lifestyle, not just a trip, each week I’ll write about something special I’ve discovered in my current backyard, wherever in the world that may be. Finally, I’ll ask a travel question that has been on my mind during the week.

Now that we’ve gotten through the rules, I’ll let you know what’s been on my mind this week.

What I’m reading

There has been so much positivity in the travel community this past week. I’ve been reading a lot recently about ethical travel. D Travels Round even hosted a chat on the subject last Friday. It’s really inspired me to think about how I travel and change it a bit to be more beneficial to the land and communities I visit.

While traveling I’m always on a budget or trying to save, but it’s important to give a little back too, whether it be with time or money.

Amanda at A Dangerous Business has teamed up with Plan and Intrepid Travel to raise money for Project SAMA. The project attacks gender inequality by making early education available to girls in rural communities.

In a totally unrelated posts, Man on the Lams wrote a post about some disturbing lego scenes he noticed during a trip to Legoland in Florida. The post is a good laugh. I especially loved his photos of the crazy cat lady and a lego-style Heimlich maneuver.

What I’m watching

Obviously, Casey Neistat’s “Make it count video” is going to get a mention here. The video has been popping up everywhere this past week and it should be. The filmmakers ten-day trip around the world is exciting and inspiring. I love everything about this video, the locations, the music and the quotes.

The next video turns my absolute favorite animated film, Up and makes it into reality. A clip from the National Geographic series “How Hard Can it Be” tests the Up theory. Can houses really fly with the help of balloons? Find out…

What I’m Googling

Table talk with a few Englishmen last night led us all to question, why do Americans call the English limeys?

According to Urban Dictionary:

“A word Americans use to describe an English or British person. Comes from when British sailors used to eat limes to avoid scurvy.”


What I’m seeing

We’ve been living in Mt. Maunganui now for about two months, so there is still loads to discover in this area. This past week I visited Tongariro National Park with some work mates. I’ve been looking forward to walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing for a long time.

Photo of Mt. Ngauruhoe by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Ric and I tried once about two months ago, but it was too foggy. The weather on my crossing this past week was perfect. I’m no longer aching from the walk, but I won’t be doing anything like that again any time soon.

What I’m planning

Ric and I have been talking about going back to Thailand since we left last May. We both fell in love with the country last year and I have a feeling it’s going to be a place we revisit several times in the future.

We spent almost two months in Thailand last year, mainly exploring the south, but there is still a lot more of the country we want to see. We are planning to visit again this year and base ourselves in Bangkok. It’s a great city and now one of Ric’s good friends is living there, so we’re looking at spending about a month in the city.

Since we’re visiting Bangkok for so long this time, we thought maybe it be a good idea to rent an apartment for the month rather than just a room at a guesthouse. I’ve started researching, but I would love to hear others’ advice on the matter.

What are good websites to search for affordable apartments in Thailand?

Should I wait until I arrive in the city to find an apartment or prebook?

That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week, now I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Watch this space

Blog, What I'm thinking

Watch this space

No Comments 07 April 2012

There are going to be some changes around here. Starting with this space, the Heels and Wheels blog.

But the whole thing is a blog, isn’t it? 

Yes…no…I’m not really sure. Over the past few months I’ve been doing a lot of things with this website. I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve been agonizing over it, I’ve been moaning about it and I’ve been staring at it, over and over and over again. In fact the thing I’ve been doing least with this blog lately is actually writing on it.

Let me explain. Continue Reading

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