Part of my time on Phuket was spent at the Green Elephant Sanctuary. This is an ethical retirement home for elephants. They aren’t chained up, and you don’t ride them.

We started by feeding them. They eat all day long! They will eat a banana with the skin on – unless you accidentally drop the banana on the ground, and then they will peel it with their trunk and discard the peel.

This little one is one-month old.

And then we got into a muddy water pit and rub mud on the elephants. They apparently love this.

Next comes the first cleaning.

And then the final scrub.

Mom and baby bathed on their own. We were allowed to watch from a distance.

Baby ran back to the pond. The handler very gently escorted him back to mom. I never saw the elephants being mistreated.

They were so lovely and gentle.

I highly recommend this experience. But please, please do not ride the elephants!

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Phuket – Pearl of Andaman Sea

I haven’t done many beach vacations, and my week on Phuket was one of my favorites.

We stayed at a lovely resort that had its own beach. But I spent most of my time in the infinity pool. I like a pool that had a swim-up bar! The resort was the Westin Siray Bay, and I highly recommend it.

We spent a day at Petang Beach. It was very cheap to rent chairs and an umbrella. They brought drinks – water, Diet Coke, Fanta, Mai Tais – in buckets full of ice. And DH got a foot massage. We watched people jet skiing and parasailing, and got a bit sunburned. My pale Minnesota skin was no match for Thailand’s sun.

Bond. James Bond. We went to the island that is featured in the beginning of The Man with the Golden Gun. Such a lovely place. I am still amazed at how many beautiful places there are on this planet of ours.

(I tried to watch the movie, and no disrespect to Sir Roger Moore, but I am a Sean Connery girl.)

Rock pictures from the boat.

I tried sea kayaking. I love kayaking on my little part of Lake Huron, so being able to kayak on the Andaman sea was yet another bucket list item achieved.

I know I am repeating myself, but I feel so blessed to be traveling to places I put on a bucket list but didn’t actually believe I would see. And I probably would not have traveled from Minnesota to Thailand.

I have struggled adjusting to expat life in China, but it is because of this opportunity that allows me to see places on this side of the world.

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Hong Kong

I started 2019 doing what I love – traveling to a new place.

Without getting into whether Hong Kong is a unique country, China says it isn’t, I tried to see as much of it as I could over a few days. Using “the book” as my guide, these are the sights I enjoyed.

Victoria Harbour

I hung around the harbor one night for the famed 8 pm light show, but I wasn’t very impressed. And it wasn’t easy to photograph, so mostly this is just another night picture of the harbor.

Victoria Peak

I wouldn’t recommend waiting in a three-hour line to take the tram – there are other ways to get to the peak when it is busy, but everyone should see HK from here.

Chi Lin nunnery garden

My favorite place in HK. I already did a separate post on this fantastic garden, but here are more pictures.

Hong Kong museum of history

This is a nice museum that walks you through the history of HK.

The museum also included an exhibit on carved wood that is then covered with gold foil. I can’t imagine learning such a craft.

The Ladies market and Temple street night market were not worth seeing. I can buy the same junk in Shanghai. The Temple street market also had lots of street food options, but we had already eaten so we didn’t try any.

I treated myself to an afternoon tea at a beautiful hotel.

The NYE fireworks were great. So many people!!

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Chi Lin nunnery garden

This beautiful garden was a highlight of my trip to Hong Kong. I only wish I had gone earlier in the day, because of the early morning light and also because it would have been quieter.

I will find time to spend here every time I am lucky enough to visit HK.

I like a nice koi pond. These guys seem well fed, but I wasn’t allowed to feed them.

Chi Lin nunnery is a large Buddhist temple complex with beautiful places for worship. I didn’t take photos of the those places out of respect, and because it is forbidden.

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Koalas and kangaroos

My first experience with koalas and my second with kangaroos.

They both seem so exotic to me. I would love to have my own pet koala!

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Sydney Opera House and Harbor

The opera house is an impressive building, and it really is a focal point of the city. It rained most of the time we were there, but I got a few decent pictures.

We also treated ourselves to seeing a play in one of its many theatres. I recommend getting inside and taking in one of the many possible cultural experiences offered in this amazing building.

This was a special trip. I never really expected to ever get to Australia. I need to start dreaming big again. Where should I go next?

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The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are part of a national park about 90 minutes from Sydney. We did a day trip, but I recommend spending two days in the area.

Three Sisters:

The glass bottom cable car is a short ride, but a great way to see more of the beauty.

A very steep railway ride was another way to see the area.

It was a good day trip from Sydney, and is featured in the book. I think you will want to visit the area when the weather is good, and the sky is clear.

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