After a two-week wait I received an email from the Australian embassy with my visa grant. Unlike my other visa applications, in particular for the US and Europe, getting an Australian visa was the easiest and most hassle-free application I have ever experienced. Everything was done online from filling out the application form, paying the visa to scanning all my supporting documents. I never had to leave the house. Easy peasy! Now all I have to do is wait for the Big K's roster and hope he'll get a flight to Sydney.
One of the main reasons I wanted to come with the Big K on his trip to China was the opportunity to see the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. The story of these life-sized clay sculptures have been frequently featured in magazine articles and TV documentaries. And what makes these statues remarkable is the sheer number of them. No, we're not talking of a handful nor a hundred but think thousands! Thousands upon thousands of warriors and horses, all created to accompany a single person in the afterlife. And where do you find this incredible army? It's in Xi'an, the ancient city in the Shaanxi province. Xi'an is one of the oldest cities in China and was once the eastern terminus for the Silk Road. It was also the capital city of 13 dynasties (there were 26 dynasties in all) where a total of 73 emperors once ruled.
Having barely unpacked our bags from our last adventure, the Big K told me to get my gear back on as we were going on another trip. Yay! To be more exact he was going on a two-week training. Read: Do Not Disturb Me I Will Be Working. But I was more than welcome to join him (refer to previous statement: You're On Your Own. Which was totally fine with me!) So, where to this time? The beautiful city of Beijing! Unlike my previous visits to this ancient city, this time I was looking forward to a more relaxed tour of the place. Or so I thought.
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests at the Temple of Heaven
After learning that the Big K will soon be flying to Australia, Sydney to be exact, I've been excitedly planning an itinerary for if and when I get the opportunity to ride shotgun with him again. Since we plan to be in Sydney might as well visit Melbourne, right? So how does one get from point A to point B? Aside from the obvious airplane ride, there are trains connecting these cities. If you've been a regular visitor of our blog you'll notice our preference for train travel. On second thought, maybe rent a car and drive along the coast? Hmmm.... Train or car? Such a pleasant dilemma to be in. So while contemplating on what to do on our next adventure down under, here are some of the memorable train and road trips the Big K and I have taken.
I was looking forward to the Big K's August roster because I learned that he would be going to Bangkok for a series of company training sessions. And little ole me got all excited when I found out that he had a few days off before the start of one of his training sessions which meant I could ride shotgun again. Yay! The last time we were in Bangkok we stayed at the Bangkok Tree House at the Bang Namphueng area also known as the "lungs of Bangkok" because of its abundant greenery. Bang Namphueng is a 20-minute boat ride across the Chao Phraya river from busy metropolitan Bangkok and is also the site of one of Bangkok's non-touristy floating markets. On this visit we opted to stay right by the city but still along the Chao Phraya river.
Bruges or Brugge in Dutch was never in our original itinerary during our recent European holiday but as fate would have it the Big K was given extra vacation days that gave us the opportunity to make a last minute detour to this enchanting medieval city. And oh boy are we ever glad we made that decision as we simply fell in love with this beautiful city.
My first long distance train ride in the US was a 12-hour trip to the East Coast with the Gorgeous H that I wrote about in an earlier blog post. During my recent visit with family, my train-loving sister talked me into yet another train ride this time to California. Our journey started in Cleveland, the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where my sister and her long-suffering husband, the Doctor A lives, an overnight in Chicago and finally the Can-I-survive-two-days-in-a-minuscule-cabin-with-my-energizer-bunny-of-a-sister-train-trip. Yup! You read it right. It was going to be a much longer train ride across some of North America's scenic countryside.