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12 Photos for my One Year Instagram Anniversary

Other, Photography

12 Photos for my One Year Instagram Anniversary

6 Comments 05 July 2013

I was really late on the whole Instgram thing. I haven’t had a smart phone since 2009 and I still don’t, but in June of 2012 I treated myself to an iPod Touch and one of the very first things I did upon purchasing it was download Instagram.

I love everything about the app.

I love the filters. I like taking photos of all my food. I like seeing what everyone else is doing around the world. I love receiving likes from strangers. Plus, I like that it encourages me to take more photos. I’ll post pretty much anything and everything, but I do have one rule to my Instagram account that I take very seriously. I only post photos taken with my iPod. No SLR or point and shoot photos. That be cheating!

It’s hard to believe I celebrated my one year anniversary recently. In that year I’ve taken over 600 photos in New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, USA, Canada and England. #landscapes #selfies #foodporn #fishporn #doglove – You name it, I’ve shot it. So I thought it be fun to have a look back at my 12 favorite photos in my first year of Instagramming.

Italian Renaissance Gardens Hamilton New Zealand

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

12. Italian Renaissance Garden – Hamilton Gardens, New Zealand

This was my first hardcore Instagram day and I think I probably lost all my followers during it, because all I did was take photos of gardens and flowers. Hamilton Gardens is a stunning spot to wander around on a nice day. They have gardens from all over the world. I spent an afternoon there in June 2012 waiting for my visa extension approval.

Mount Maunganui New Zealand

11. The Mount from the top of it. – Mount Maunganui, New Zealand

Ric and I lived in Mount Maunganui for about seven months. In the off-season, climbing the Mount is one of the only things to do there. So we spent a lot of time up there. It’s a beautiful sight of the seaside town.

Hobbiton New Zealand

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

10. Bilbo Baggin’s house – Hobbiton, New Zealand

This was definitely my favorite tour in New Zealand. It’s the actual film location for the Shire in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Once a sheep farm, this Hollywood set is open to the public and located in Matamata.

Yantarasri Chiang Mai Thailand

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

9. Terry-cloth robes make me feel like I’ve made it in life. – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Ric and I don’t stay at high-end accommodation often, so I had to get a shot of me on our balcony, looking out to our pool when we stayed at Yantarasri in Chiang Mai. I really wish I had a terry-cloth robe right now :/

Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai Thailand

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

8. Had the most amazing day with the elephants. Don’t want to leave. – Chiang Mai, Thailand

I’ve written before about my visit to Elephant Nature Park. I really didn’t want to leave this place. It was so peaceful and open. I tried so hard to get a shot like this with my SLR, but for some reason couldn’t do it.

Railay West Sunset Thailand

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

7. Can’t imagine it gets much better than this. Railay, Thailand

This one did not require a filter. After two stints in Thailand that came to about three months altogether, I finally found my perfect Thai beach: Railay. This shot was taken at Railay West Beach, which isn’t the most beautiful at day (that be Pranang Cave Beach), but definitely takes the price at night. There is a bar there that lays out mats on the beach and delivers your drinks to you at sunset. My dad, Ric and I sat there for hours every night we were there.

Changi Golf Course Singapore

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

6. Flying over Changi Golf Club in Singapore.

Ric said his dad told him to look out for this golf course when he flew out to Australia years ago, but he said he didn’t see it. So when we flew from KL to Singapore this past Autumn, I was on the lookout for it. Looks pretty cool from up in the air.

Graffiti Brooklyn NYC

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

5. Graffiti by our Brooklyn pad – Brooklyn, NYC

This was my first visit to Brooklyn and I couldn’t get enough of the street art, like this little gem.

Falling Water Frank Lloyd Wright

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

4. Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright – Pennsylvania

I’ve been wanting to visit FLW’s Falling Water for years. It’s about a five-hour drive from where I grew up, but for some reason I just never made it up there. When I came home to meet my dad’s new girlfriend for the first time, I found out we shared a love for all thing FLW, so I took it as a sign that we had to go. Double-date weekend to Western PA and I got this iconic shot of the house.

Liverpool dock

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

3. Reflections at the dock in Liverpool. – UK

Ric and I mainly went to England to visit his family for Christmas, but he wanted to also show me around the north a bit. Though we had both been to Liverpool before (actually on the same day in 2007), we wanted to visit the city again for a day of touring. We spent most of the day at Anfield, then headed to the waterfront. I absolutely adore this photo. Liverpool is such a beautiful city – and it doesn’t quite get the attention it deserves.

Drummer Joshua Tree National Park

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

2. The things you’ll come across in the desert. – Joshua Tree National Park, California

My Jucy Tour of the USA came about very last minute and randomly, but was absolutely incredible. Of all the places I visited during my three week tour of Western USA, Joshua Tree was the one I was looking forward to the most. I have a thing for deserts and heard it was a really funky place. I expected to see some weird things there and I did – like this drummer playing by the side of the road.

London

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1. Striped block in London.- UK

I spent the first half of 2013 in London, which was another random and surprising happening in my year with Instagram. I adore this city and could probably have picked 12 photos to represent this anniversary just from London, but I chose this one to represent my five months here. London has a million and one attractions, but I like to walk around the city and take it in. This was a random street block, somewhere in the city that appealed to me.

So that was my year first year in Instagram. What do you think? If you want to follow a long in real time, follow my photos on Instagram and leave your user name below so I can follow you.

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Dinner and a show: Circus London

Destinations, England, Favorite Things, The Arts and Cabaret

Dinner and a show: Circus London

No Comments 22 March 2013

Located in Covent Garden, part of London’s entertainment district, you wouldn’t have the slightest idea what was going on behind two rusty medal doors on a quiet Endell Steet when walking by. Those lucky enough to step inside are in for one of the most unique dining experiences in the world.

Welcome to Circus London.

The first thing I notice as I walk through those doors and past the waiting area is a wide, long, white table with steps leading up to it. It must have at least ten chairs on each side, giving off the impression that a special occasion of some sort is happening tonight.

All eyes on the stage at Circus London. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

An attractive staff member leads me to my table in the bar area and brings over a glass of Merlot and a copy of the menu and Covent Guardian. I love restaurants that consider every minor detail of their diners’ experience, like the back of this menu, which offers funny, made-up news to follow the restaurant’s circus theme.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The menu at Circus London also serves as a funny fake newspaper. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

But it’s not the usual circus decor you would expect from a venue, spiegeltents and old memorabilia. Designed by Tom Dixon, the interior of Circus is crisp and retro. Black and white furniture, lit up by silvers detail, the centerpiece of the venue is two eyes projected above the entrance, looking out at the entire restaurant.

A curtain of silver chains sectioning off the bar area is opened when the show begins. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

They could be inspired by those of the show’s dark and mysterious master of ceremonies, whose big eyes pop out from under his top hat watching the restaurant just the same as the eyes above him.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

He kicks off the show from that large table I noticed as I first walked in. Only a few seats remain at it or in the rest of the house for that matter. In fact, people are standing in the bar area, peaking over shoulders to get a look and it’s not even 8 p.m.

There are four acts featured throughout the night that come in between meals and the restaurant does two rounds of this. While both showings feature the same performers, no act is alike and each one takes place on that same large table.

Yellow and red lights spot the stage and the room becomes slightly smokey.

The show is about to begin.

Eyes pear up as a James Bond-like gymnast walks onto the table-stage with two sexy assistants. He spends the rest of his time up there hanging from the ceiling.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

He’s followed by a slinky contortionist moving her body to Beyonce’s “Naughty Girl” after starters are served.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

A sinister acrobat dressed as a skeleton is the show’s third act and one that includes him dangling from a ring attached to the ceiling.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The first show ends on a silly note with an adorable Liza Minnelli lookalike doing burlesque.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

While everybody’s focus is directed to the stage for each three-four minute performance, the show does not take up guests’ entire night. It seemed ideal that people visiting the restaurant could be entertained for a few minutes here and there, but were able to go back to their own conversations and celebrations in between acts, which a lot of dinner shows don’t allow.

Guests chatting in between acts. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The menu is Asian-inspired. Think beef foie gras gyoza, duck and watermelon salad and red pepper lamb chops. Food is priced at about £8-12 per starter and £15-20 for a main. The restaurant recommends each diner purchase at least two items, including one main.

The cocktails are unique and actually quite affordable by London standards at £10 a pop. Think Blood Peach Bellini. Of course absinthe makes the menu and they also serve party punches in massive bowls for £185 (serves 20 drinks). Mainly I just saw tray after tray packed with flutes of champagne go out though.

Circus has a lengthy cocktail menu. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Altogether you’re looking at spending about £50 for a starter, main dish and two drinks. Not bad for dinner and a show in the center of the city.

At one point in my three-hour visit, the thought of how I would be getting home popped into my head. I knew exactly how, the Covent Garden Tube Station is just around the corner, but I still had to think about it for a minute. Circus managed to make me feel like I had completely escaped to the point that I forgot what city I was in. Visit Circus London for your hen night, first date or just to see what it’s all about. Sit at a spot literally on the stage or at one of the many tables surrounding it.

No matter why you visit this restaurant or where you sit, you’ll feel like your drifting away to another place and you’ll walk away with a completely different interpretation of dinner and a show.

Circus London is located at 27-29 Endell Street, around the corner from Covent Garden Tube Station. It’s open Tuesday-Saturday from 6 p.m. till late. They recommend booking four to five weeks in advance for a table on the weekend and one to two weeks in advance for a table on week days. There’s is no entry or entertainment fee other than for guests only purchasing drinks (no meal) Friday and Saturday night after 9:30 p.m. (£5 per person).

Circus London granted me press admission to review this exhibit. All opinions are my own.

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Wish you were here: Northern England

Blog, Destinations, England, Wish you were here

Wish you were here: Northern England

No Comments 12 January 2013

There’s a side of England people miss by only visiting London, and I think that’s it’s most quintessential side.

Quaint villages mapped out by winding cobblestone roads. Homes dating back to the the 14th century and beyond. Endless farmland only defined by miles and miles of dry rock walls. Country pubs that always seem to attract a crowd, even if they’re in the middle of nowhere. Horses, wellington boots and of course lavish retreat homes, once owned by nobility, now open to the public.

One wonderful thing I’ve learned from traveling a only few different countries more extensively in the last few years, rather than just one spot in several just to tick another nation off my list, is that when you only visit one city, you actually miss out on the country, both as a place and as a whole.

I made that mistake on my past three visits to the UK, most of which I spent in London. Don’t get me wrong. I love London. It’s an amazing place and a true destination unto itself, but it’s only a tiny part of a country with serious character (and plenty of them as well).

Ric made this very clear to me when we first started dating and I told him of my visits to the UK. Meeting and developing almost all of our relationship abroad, we must have talked about where we come from and the people there a million times before either of us got to actually see it for ourselves. His eyes would light up when he’d tell me of the England he knew and the places near him I had to see. Mine did the same when I finally got to visit his homeland this holiday season.

Between Christmas and New Year celebrations we managed to fit in a few day trips around northern England. All the places we stopped aren’t too far apart, yet still manage to have different histories and completely different accents. They can be part of a one or two day road trip and a few are entire trip destinations unto themselves, but all definitely deserve a place on any British tour itinerary.

Chester

With Roman ruins and several buildings dating back to medieval times, this city near the border of Wales allows visitors to slip back in time. Walk on top of the walls surrounding the city, which were built as far back as 70 AD for protection of the fortress. Go for a boat cruise on the River Dee. And admire the many types of architecture in the historical city.

Did you know due to an old law that still hasn’t been repealed, it’s legal to shoot a Welshman with a bow and arrow from inside the city walls after midnight in Chester?

Walk the walls surrounding Chester for an overview, before diving in. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Eyam

Known as “plague village”, Eyam isolated itself after one of its residents contracted the plague from London in August 1665. Even today it’s sad to read plaques in front of the row of plague cottages, which state how many died in each house and when. Imagine losing your entire family in only a few months.

Only one plague victim is buried in the Eyam Church and that is Katherine Mompesson, wife to William, the rector of the church at the time who was a major decider in isolating Eyam when the plague broke out. Find her grave and make sure to go inside the church as well to learn more about the village’s history.

A row of plague cottages tells the story of how many were lost and how quickly the plague spread when it hit here in 1665. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Peak District National Park

If your more interested in the scenery than history of the north, then head to the Peak District for some stunning walks and views. Located mainly in Derbyshire, this area stretches out to six different counties in the north. Not only is it United Kingdom’s first National Park, but it’s also home to the second highest pub in England. End your day of walking at Cat & Fiddle Inn, for a well-deserved pint.

The Peak District offers open land and walking trails with dramatic views. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Chesterfield

Granted a market charter in 1204, you can bet this is a good place to go shopping for local produce and goods. Various markets take place take place all around the Derbyshire’s town almost every day. While you’re there, make sure to check out the ‘Crooked Spire Church’. A few legends surround why the spire went crooked, but it most likely has to do with poor construction.

Make sure to find the ‘Crooked Spire Church’ in Chesterfield. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Lyme Park

Probably best known these days as a major film location for the BBC mini-series version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth, this estate home and surrounding park make for a great day out, with a bit of history. The park grounds are spread across 1,300 acres of open space and walking trails home to deer whose ancestors there date back to Medieval times. Walk around Lyme Hall and its gardens, which were given to Sir Thomas Danyers by Edward III in 1346 for his service in the Battle of Crecy.

And don’t forget to visit the infamous lake where Mr. Darcy “strips off” and jumps in.

 

Make a wish for Colin Firth in the courtyard at Lyme Hall. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

London still the only stop on your agenda? Didn’t think so.

Have you ever visited ‘up north’? What was your favorite destination?

Banner photo of Bollington, a northern village I stayed in close to all these locations.

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Wish you were here: Liverpool

Blog, Destinations, England, Wish you were here

Wish you were here: Liverpool

4 Comments 09 January 2013

Liverpool.

To people in England, it’s known for the locals’ scouse accent and loyal football supporters. To people around the world, it’s known as the home of Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and of course, The Beatles.

But for Ric and I, it’s actually the first place we’ve ever visited at the same time.

How, you ask, considering we met in Australia in 2010 and until my current trip, I had not visited England since 2007?

Let me start by explaining Ric’s love of Liverpool Football Club. I could go on and on about how he was born supporter and remains one even though he lives about 30-minutes from Old Trafford and most of his friends are Manchester United fans, but I’ll just say this: the first gift Ric ever bought me, was a Liverpool shirt.

What a man!

So of course he was in Liverpool on May 23, 2007 when they played AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League Final in Athens, Greece.

What’s weird is that, I was there too.

Out of all the days I chose to leave London, where I lived and spent most of my six months in England, out of all the cities in the north I could have visited, it was this day and this city I chose. I must admit though, I knew nothing of football at the time, but friendly northerners persuaded me to stay and watch the game. While I was sad they lost, I’m glad I stayed, because when I met a roaring and very handsome fan only three years later, I had something to wow him with.

So just over five years later, we returned to Liverpool together, with his two brothers, to tour Anfield, home to Liverpool FC, and wander around the city.

A panoramic of Anfield. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This was my first stadium tour ever and it might ruin all stadium tours in the future for a few reasons.

First, is the history. Originally, home to Everton, a rival Liverpool club, Anfield opened in 1884. Since then it’s has seen great triumph; like winning the top league 18 times, great men; like manager Bill Shankly who transformed the club to what it is today and great tragedy; a memorial to the 96 who died in the Hillsborough disaster stands next to Shankly Gates.

Second, is how much visitors see on the tour. In about an hour our group visited the press room, sat in the Kop as well as the team bench. I touched the “This is Anfield” sign before walking out to the pitch. I even sat in Gerrard’s spot in the team changing rooms. During all this, our guide told stories and facts about each stop on the tour.

Me touching the “This is Anfield” sign. Photo by Richard John Hackey

Red seats in The Kop. Did you know this used to be standing space? Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Players sit according to their position on the pitch in the dressing room. Shankly enforced this so they would talk about football. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Third, it was made extra special by going with Ric and his brothers. I can’t imagine bigger fans or more fun guys to go with.

Ric’s brother Jim interviews him from the same spot players are interviewed after a match. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Ric and his brother Ste on the waterfront in Liverpool. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The tour costs £16, which includes entrance into the museum. I recommend it to all Liverpool FC fans as well as those who have a general interest in Premiership football or just want to truly visit this northern city.

After the tour we spent a few hours just wandering around Liverpool. I know the city was under a lot of construction the last time I visited, but I was honestly shocked by how much it had changed. Liverpool has a diverse and interesting mix of refurbished and modern buildings. From the 14th century Medieval Church of All Saints, to the reinvigorated 19th century Albert Docks, to the extremely modern Museum of Liverpool, which opened in 2011, it’s impossible to keep your head down in this city. Somehow this combination of architecture and design works in the city. To complete it all is the waterfront, lined with old-fashion street lights.

Contrasting architecture, modern black design in the front and the Royal Liverpool building behind. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Walking to Albert Docks from the city center. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

A walkway on the waterfront in Liverpool in the afternoon. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Both times I’ve visited Liverpool I’ve had a reason. Next time, I’m looking forward to just spending the day walking around and finding all it has to offer, because it’s the kind of city that keeps on surprising its visitors, even when they’re as far away as Australia.

Have you ever visited Liverpool? What’s a city that truly surprised you on your travels?

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Wish you were here: Christmas in Bollington

Blog, Destinations, England, Wish you were here

Wish you were here: Christmas in Bollington

6 Comments 07 January 2013

After almost seven weeks in the US, it was time for the third and final part of our four-month world tour, which started in New Zealand in September. With only five days until Christmas, Ric and I boarded separate flights to his homeland, England.

It was a serious homecoming for him, as this is his first visit home in three years, first Christmas home in two and the first holiday season celebrated with his entire family in something like seven years. Ric’s not the only traveller in the Hackey clan. His mom always jokes that they’re going to lock her away for child trafficking. Her three boys are always off to different places around the world.

Brothers: Ste, Jim and Ric opening presents Christmas morning. Photo by Jill Hackey

I was a bit sad not to be there to see everyone’s face when Ric arrived, but my flight to Manchester Airport wasn’t far behind.

For me, this was my first time visiting Ric’s hometown of Bollington, which is about 30 minutes outside Manchester, and my first return to England after studying abroad in London five years ago. During those six months at Westminster University, I didn’t get to see very much of northern England, so we had a lot of exploring to do, but Christmas first.

Every Brit I met in Australia and New Zealand constantly talked about how amazing the holidays are in the UK.

They were right.

It’s not just a day or two-day event here, it’s a month of preparation and pretty much a week of celebration.

My expectations of Bollington after hearing Ric talk about it for the past two years, was that it was a mixture of The Holiday and Green Street Hooligans. Football fanatics in a quaint village. Walking into The Church House Inn with his family the night we arrived, I definitely had deja vu of Jude Law popping into a cozy pub in the country, friends smiling, fire blazing while Frou Frou’s “Let go” plays in the background. Going out with Ric’s friends for a fancy dress night only a few days later and listening to the football-like songs they made up for just about everything, even me, I got that match day feel from Green Street-without the violence.

Photo montage from the top of White Nancy in Bollington. Photos by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

All-in-all, I kind of knew I would love Bollington. For an American, it’s got buildings that date back further than my country. For a suburban girl, it’s nice to pop around the corner to the pub for a drink. And in general everyone has just been extremely friendly and kind.

On the gushy side, it’s amazing to see where Ric came from and get a better understanding of why he’s such a wonderful man.

After a few days of catching up, last minute Christmas shopping and getting into the spirit by visiting things like the Manchester Christmas Markets, it was already Christmas Eve.

Walking around the Manchester Christmas Markets on a very rainy day. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I think our celebrations this year were mild compared to Ric’s in Bollington in the past. He always talked about a Christmas Eve pub crawl that started at about noon. Still recovering from the fancy dress pub crawl a few days before, we opted to spend this one having a few drinks at home and playing Trivial Pursuit with the family, which I must add, the girls team won. We made it out for a few hours to catch up with everyone in town, but we were fast asleep by midnight as Ric advised me, “Father Christmas might miss us if we don’t get to bed now.”.

A very techy Christmas, my dad gave me a new computer before I left for England, Ric bought me about every usb gadget imaginable and his friend gave us a usb fan (how amazing is that!?). Father Christmas gave me a stocking full of magazines, candy, beauty products and money (Thanks Jill!). Ric’s brothers gave us matching monkey onesies. It was a great holiday. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Father Christmas came with massive stalkings for Ric, his two brothers and even myself. He’s pretty good to have found me in Australia, New Zealand and now England. After exchanging gifts, we visited The Church House Inn where everyone had already snapped their Christmas crackers and were wearing those famous paper crowns. We came home to put on our own. Sadly, I didn’t win any of the Christmas cracker wars this holiday. But I did have an amazing dinner with wonderful people and managed to be on the winning team of Trivial pursuit yet again.

Ric and I at his Aunt and Uncle’s house on boxing day. Photo by Jill Hackey

Jumping forward to New Years Eve a week later, we celebrated again in Bollington. Ric and I both have the same mentality towards New Years, an overpriced holiday that usually let’s you down. So we never make grand plans, but this year we wanted to do something as Ric hadn’t celebrated with his friends and family in years.

One of his friends made reservations at an Indian restaurant in town called Viceroy. It was the perfect New Years night for me. We had a massive meal of curries, onion bajies and much more as well as several glasses of cider, sambuca and champagne. We danced for a few hours on a busy but roomy dance floor. Plus, we got to watch fireworks at midnight.

Celebrating New Years at the Viceroy. Photo courtesy of Graham Ratcliffe

We partied well into 2013 and woke up with the usual first day of the year headache.

Plans for 2013? I have a few, but I’m not announcing any of them yet. It’s a year that’s a bit unpredictable for Ric and I but I do have a good feeling about this one. So I’ll just work on keeping my resolutions of drinking more water and being more organized, then see how everything else pans out.

Happy New Year to all of you! What are your resolutions for 2013 and where will this year take you?

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Travel plans for the rest of 2012 and beyond

Blog, What I'm thinking

Travel plans for the rest of 2012 and beyond

10 Comments 26 September 2012

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since we’ve been on a plane.

While Ric and I have both technically still been traveling this past year, living in New Zealand, we haven’t really been on the move too much in 2012. So it makes me extremely happy to announce our plans to travel for the rest of the year and into the next.

After a lot of hard work and self-control, we’ve managed to save up for a five-month holiday that will take us pretty much around the world.

Part 1: Southeast Asia

Ever since we left Southeast Asia in May 2011, we’ve been trying to figure out a way to get back. Originally we wanted to spend six months in the region after New Zealand , spending every cent to our names and figuring out what next later. But we discovered another work visa available to us elsewhere.

So we’ll just have to settle for six weeks in Southeast Asia instead. I’ll take it!

Our first stop is Bangkok, where one of Ric’s friends from home is living. We’ll spend about two weeks in the city with no real plans other than to eat a lot of street food, have a few good nights out and make it to the floating market, finally.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Next stop is Chiang Mai, a place we both missed on our last visit to Thailand. We’ll be spending about a week there. Two places we really want to visit are Tiger Kingdom and Elephant Nature Park, beyond that I think we’ll just soak up the city.

Then it’s back to Bangkok to meet up with my Dad. We’ll all spend a few days in the city and head South to Koh Lanta and Railay.

Since visitors from the USA and UK are only given a 30-day visa to Thailand upon arrival (when arriving by plane) and we have six weeks before our flight out of Bangkok, we have to do a visa run somewhere. Why not Malaysia?

Ric and I have never been there. Two places we’ve talked about visiting are Langkawi and Penang, but we are open to suggestions and recommendations, especially on Malaysian food considering that we know very little about it.

After the visa run, we’ll make our way back to Bangkok with a few stops along the way, then we’re off to the USA.

Part 2: USA

Ric and I both have to return home to sort out visas. It just works out that we’ll be visiting for the holidays.

After being abroad for two holiday seasons, I will finally be in America for my absolute favorite holiday in the world this year, Thanksgiving. It’s the time of year I want to be back most, so I’m extremely happy to not only be there with my family, but also to introduce Ric to his first real Thanksgiving.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Most of the time spent in the USA will involve catching up with family and friends, but we will fit in a few visits around the Northeast, including Niagara Falls, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and New York City. We might try to fit in a trip to Key West, but it depends on time and money.

Part 3: England

We’ll arrive in England just before Christmas. It’ll be Ric’s first time home in three years and my first trip home with him. He’s from a village called Bollington in Cheshire. I can’t wait to meet everyone he’s told me about and spend my first Christmas in England, which so many people have told me is amazing.

Photo courtesy of Bollington Photos.

Like with our trip to the USA, in England our only real intentions are to spend time with family and friends, but we’re going to fit in a few visits around the country. We’ll definitely be spending a few days in London. We also want to see Stonehenge.

Part 4: ?

I don’t like announcing plans that aren’t for certain, but something big is in the works, so stay tuned!

What do you think of our plans? Do you have any suggestions for the regions we’ll be visiting? Please share!

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10 photos of Queen Elizabeth II’s travels

Online Goodies, Other

10 photos of Queen Elizabeth II’s travels

3 Comments 03 June 2012

Visit anywhere in the world and it’s almost a guarantee that the people there will know of Queen Elizabeth II. The  most recognizable face on earth, which has been used on 33 different foreign currencies, the Queen of England isn’t just known everywhere, she’s also visited just about everywhere.

As people around the world celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this weekend-a 60-year reign-I’m more interested in her travels around the world. And boy has she traveled. Wikipedia has compiled a list of all Queen Elizabeth’s travels, which includes Australia, Canada, Thailand and more.

To celebrate 60 years of Queenship-Heels and Wheels is looking back on Queen Liz’s 60 years of travel. 

India (1961)

The Queen visited the sub continent of India to meet Indira Gandhi, visit the presidential palace and even ride an elephant. The Old Indian Photos has compiled several Life photos of her visit, including the one featured below.

OldIndianPhotos.in.

New Zealand (1958)

Visiting this tiny Commonwealth country more than once, on this trip the Queen visited Marlborough, New Zealand’s largest wine-producing region. Below you can see her giving a speech in Blenheim.

HistoryPin.com

Nigeria (1956)

Fulfilling military duties in white gloves?

Only Liz could pull that off. In this photo she inspects the Queen’s Own Nigeria Regiment during a Commonwealth tour, which included the African country.

TrendCouncil.Wordpress.com

Australia (2011)

While the land down under may laugh at POME’s (prisoners of mother England), they always welcome the Queen who has visited the country several times during her reign. Here she meets one of the Australia’s most recognizable figures, a koala, in Brisbane.

BrisbaneTimes.com.au

South Africa (1947)

It was only a few weeks ago that people were celebrating the Queen’s 86th birthday. But how did she celebrate her 21st? In South Africa of course! She was still a princess then, but here she is at Natal National Park.

AZStarNet.com

Canada (2010)

Sporting red attire for Canada Day, Queen Elizabeth visited the country for eight days two years ago. Still standing out amongst a sea of red, she inspects the guards outside the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.

TheStar.com

USA (2007)

While the US is not a part of the Commonwealth, it was originally an English settlement. The Queen visited the country in 2007 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. At the end of her trip this photo was captured of her at Andrews Air Force Base boarding a plane back to England.

Time.com

China (1986)

While Queen Elizabeth travels a lot different than most people, she still visits major tourist attractions. Here she is at the Great Wall of China with Prince Phillip.

TNRCommunications.co.uk

Thailand (1996)

While 60 years may be a long monarchy, Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej has the British Queen beat by six years. The Queen visited Thailand to celebrate the king’s 50th anniversary in 1996.

TheTelegraph.co.uk

England (1960)

When home is Buckingham Palace, there really is no place like it. Here she is riding out of her palace.

MySanAntonio.com

And what about the cover photo?

Queen Elizabeth has been in motion since the first day of her reign. In this photo from Jaunted, she steps off her British Oversea Airways Corporation (now known as British Airways) plane from Kenya at London-Heathrow Airport. On February 7, 1952, a day after King George VI, Elizabeth’s father, died, the princess was proclaimed Queen.

Since her coronation ceremony, the official crowning, did not take place until June 2 of that year, the Jubilee is not celebrated until then.

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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.

Yippee!

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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Koalas, beaches and buckets, it must be Easter Sunday

Blog, What I'm thinking

Koalas, beaches and buckets, it must be Easter Sunday

1 Comment 08 April 2012

Out of all the holidays I’ve celebrated while traveling, Easter has always turned out to be the best.

It might be because I don’t expect as much out of Easter as say Christmas or Thanksgiving. It could also be because I’ve spent most of my Easters abroad on a beach, in a cool city or somewhere else amazing interacting with cuddly animals.

I’ll go back to my furthest memory of traveling Easter Sundays past all the way to London in 2007. I got dressed up in my Easter Sunday best, only not quite on Easter Sunday. A friend I met studying there and I decided to spend Easter eve celebrating our three month anniversary playing around London town.

Sunday Best in London Town.

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