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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Terra Cotta Warriors

A farmer was digging a well for water in 1974. It was a very dry year. He unearthed one of the greatest discoveries of my lifetime.

You really need to see pit 1 of the Terra Cotta Warrior Museum. Here are my pictures, but they don’t fully capture how amazing this active archaeological site is.

The building is over 250 yards long – more than 2 football fields.

Site of the well the farmer was digging

New section they recently started digging out more warriors

I wonder if the people who created the warriors and buried them could have imagined our interest in them now.

Warrior hospital

The chariots didn’t survive- the empty space behind the horses

Terra cotta warriors- a very, very difficult puzzle!

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Great Barrier Reef

I completed my open water scuba diving requirements 17 years ago on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Since then I had completed 13 dives. (Puts me way behind the curve from most divers.)

As a Minnesotan, diving is an expensive hobby because it requires me to travel somewhere else to dive. I dove once in Lake Huron, for practice. It was cold.

I have spent way more time visiting Europe than going places where I could dive, but I did put the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) on my bucket list once I realized how much I love to dive.

But…realistically, I didn’t actually believe, at the time, that I would ever scuba dive the GBR.

I just returned from a fantastic trip to Australia, and it started in Cairns.

Cairns is a small town where many people go to access the GBR. I know an Australian woman who described it as an airport location more than a town. I didn’t spend much time in Cairns, but there is more there than an airport.

GBR is far enough from shore that most people do a day trip via a boat/ferry. I knew I wanted to spend a couple of days diving, and didn’t want to spend a couple of hours every day in a boat going back and forth from Cairns, so I opted to stay on a “live aboard.” It is like a very small cruise ship, that doesn’t cruise very far; but it does move at least once per day to other dive sites.

I was very happy with Reef Encounter’s live aboard. I purchased a 3-night package that included diving, meals and a remarkably spacious cabin. My cabin on the reef wasn’t much smaller than some cruise ship cabins.

I completed 9 dives in 2 1/2 days. (Remember, before this I had completed 13 dives in 17 years.) It was a dream come true!

I also opted to purchase a guide for my first dive. It seemed like a great idea, and was, since I had never been to GBR before. My dive guide is named Ian, and is from Florida. He was great. I would have adopted him as a son, if I could, and he did go on every dive with me.

I was especially happy to have Ian with me on my first night dive.

I had never done a night dive before, because as much as I love to dive, I am a bit claustrophobic. It only bothers me when I am in small spaces, like underwater caves, or narrow reef areas. I just assumed it would bother me at night also, but I was fine.

Two major benefits of having a dive guide:

  1. He is really good at finding fish, etc
  2. He knows where to go, and I don’t need to keep track of where the boat is

We saw lots of beautiful fish, a turtle. Here are some pictures. I swam with sharks!!

We also saw evidence of coral bleaching. I don’t want to make this a political piece, but the behavior of humans is damaging our planet, especially this beautiful reef. Please do what you can to protect our natural resources.

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Giant Pandas of Chengdu, China

China generously shares their pandas, on a short-term basis, with the US and other places, so I have seen pandas in the US. And typically US zoos will have a pair of pandas.

I spent yesterday morning at the panda breeding and research in Chengdu, China. Enough said, here are my videos and pictures

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