Anniversary Travel

Happy anniversary to my husband!

Dave and I married October 2, 2001 on the beach on Kauai.

And we have taken many fantastic trips since then – on or near our anniversary . Right now we are on another once in a lifetime trip.

2019: Tibet

2018: Great Barrier Reef

2017: Las Vegas (a week later, in conjunction with SS’s birthday, and this is when I found out we might be moving to China)

2016: Paris

2015: Munich- Oktoberfest

2012: Maui

2011: San Francisco for BIL’s wedding and then we did a Mediterranean cruise

2010: Iowa City for a college football game

2006: first cruise ever – Mediterranean

I will add to this list as I try and remember if we traveled the other years.

I know we haven’t taken a trip every year, but we’ve had some fantastic ones these past few years.

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Bali: Lempuyang Temple – Heaven’s Gate

Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang is a Balinese Hindu temple on Lempuyang mountain, and faces Mount Agung – Bali’s largest peak, and recently active volcano.

But this temple is most famous for the split gates where people wait for hours to get the perfect Instagram photo.

The view of Agung is spectacular, but we did not wait in the very long line in order to get individual photos between the gates.

There has been a bit of controversy over this spot because some of the photographers use a special mirror to make it look like there is water, but there isn’t.

We got the best shots we could without waiting in line. This is a must see destination on Bali.

The above photo is the back side of the gates. Everyone had to wear sarongs.

The gates as I quickly walked through.

My friend Lisa. Her sarong matched her clothes better than mine. The sarongs were provided by our guide.

Lisa and I with our guide. He was awesome!

That covered building on the left is where people stand in line for three hours for that perfect photo of them standing between the gates.

Our guide said we were lucky the day we visited – there were few clouds so we had good views of Mount Agung.

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Bali’s Kuta Beach

I checked off another bucket list destination that was made possible because I am living in Asia.

DH didn’t want to go because Bali has had some incidents in the past few years- volcanic eruption, earthquake/tsunami. I wasn’t worried, plus, getting stuck somewhere like Bali would not be the worst thing to happen.

I made this trip with a fellow expat, Lisa, and it was her first girl’s trip. Hopefully not her last!

Bali’s beaches is one of places featured in the “1000 places to see before you die” book, so we stayed at a hotel on one of their most popular beaches – Kuta. It is a better spot for surfing than swimming, but I spent a bit of time in the ocean every day.

Obligatory toes in the ocean picture

And we had beachside cocktails one night at sunset.

Who doesn’t love a sunset over the ocean?

I will absolutely return to Bali – if the opportunity presents itself again.

More on Bali in upcoming posts…

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Arches National Park

The United States has 61 national parks. How many have you been to? I’ve been to 14, which probably means I need to start a new bucket list and prioritize hiking, biking, and kayaking through more of our beautiful parks.

I love to travel, and am really enjoying seeing Asia; but I recently got a very good reminder of the absolute beauty of my own country when I visited three national parks in two days. I know too many people who really haven’t traveled much outside of the US (or at all), but tragically they have also not seen their own country.

I will talk up visiting US national parks to anyone who will listen to me. They are amazing, accessible, and affordable. Go and see them!

My three park visit happened quite easily as I was driving from Las Vegas, Nevada to Minnesota. The first park we stopped in was Zion, and it immediately became my favorite. And then we stopped at Bryce, and that was my new favorite. But the next morning I started the day with a hike in Arches National Park. Guess which one is my new favorite?

As much as I want to try and describe how beautiful America’s national parks are, sometimes there just aren’t enough adjectives, plus I am a big believer that people really need to see it for themselves. And, as with so many other things, sometimes you need to set aside the camera for a moment and make sure you drink it all in with your eyes.

These are my best pictures from Arches.

Arches National Park is in Utah, and has over 2,000 natural stone arches. And this area of the country is featured in “the book.”

Next time I want do my hike at sunrise and use the light to capture different pictures.

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The Great Wall

The Great Wall is another major bucket list experience. I remember several years ago talking to a friend about visiting China. I recall that I said something like, “China isn’t on the top of my list, but I would like to see the Wall.”

And here I am – living in China. And it took me nearly one year to get to the Wall. Well….it isn’t like it was going anywhere, right?

The Chinese are very good at building walls. I’ve walked on top of the city wall in Xian, and I’ve walked partway around the city wall in Nanjing.

But the Great Wall was even more impressive than I expected. I didn’t keep track of how far we walked along the wall – not more than 2 kilometers- but my Fitbit registered that I climbed the equivalent of 50 flights of stairs! And this was after taking the chairlift up the mountain!

The wall is not as level as I expected, but it is built in the mountains.

The wall was an important part of China’s defense of its northern border. And now it is a national treasure, huge tourist attraction, and an UNESCO heritage site.

We visited on a rainy morning, and that was ok. We didn’t experience the crowds I’ve come to expect, and it was a bit mystical to watch the clouds float over the wall.

Go here to read more about the wall.

Keep scrolling to see my pictures.

We took the chairlift up. There is also a cable car, but it was closed until the rain stopped.

One option to go back down is a giant slide. I really wanted to do the slide, but it also was closed due to weather. I might need to go back so I can slide down.

Andrew, my SS, wanted keep going. He loved the experience.

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Angkor Wat

I spent a hot and exhausting day visiting seven (7) temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We started with Angkor Wat, one of the most popular in the region, and one of the largest religious monuments in the world.

Angkor Wat is the one featured in the book.

Cambodia is a beautiful country, with an ugly history. Our guide spoke some about this, as his family was killed by the Khmer Rouge. He was a teenager at the time and was taken in by a Buddhist monastery. He is a spiritual person who makes a wonderful guide for visiting temples.

Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century, and it was originally a Hindu temple but is now a Buddhist temple. Our guide advised us that we were not allowed to photograph the monks, but I saw other tourists trying to take selfies with them. I urge all travelers to be good and respectful visitors when traveling.

Along these passage ways are scenes carved into the stone. These scenes tell stories in the same way that stained glass windows are beautiful representations of bible stories.

Lots of steps!

Old bath area

Part of the wall around the front of Angkor Wat.

If given the opportunity, do arrive before sunrise to get the best pictures. But don’t forget to put away the camera and spend some time being in the moment – take it all in with your eyes and ears!

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MORI Digital Art Museum

The “borderless” digital art museum in Tokyo is fantastic!

I had seen pictures, but didn’t know what to expect, and like many other places I’ve been- the pictures serve as a nice part of the memory of the experience, but you can’t really get a sense of this place unless you have been here.


The colors will be different in person.

But primarily because the art is always moving. And even if you watch some videos, I still don’t think that truly captures how the art can change based on how people move, and how the art is never the same from person to person or from room to room.

You could line up 20 people who are all taking pictures in the same place, and compare them, and none of the pictures will be identical. Isn’t that amazing!

If you get the opportunity to see this:

take your time going through the building

go back – at least to the major rooms – more than once

watch how other people interact with the art

take pictures, but be sure to just stand there and be in the moment

keep poking around- some rooms are hard to find

get the app – but again don’t spend all your time looking at your phone/camera

Enjoy my photographic representation of my time at this unique museum!

Another tip – you might want to wear a plain light-colored shirt.

A whale swimming along the floor.

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