Page 2 of Aubrey B Travel Blog Posts

Oceania September 10th 2014

There are times in every great journey when the hero falters. Doubt flows in, Depression soon to follow and there is little light at the end of the tunnel. Obstacles met along the way grow bigger and blacker, each step heavier than the last and eventually the path is no longer clear, with sense of direction all but obscured and the hero is faced with the decision to continue or turn back. I am no hero on an epic journey. I have not battled dragons or placed my might against the gods; I do not fight for honor or country and have nothing to my name but the clothes I carry on my back. And from this place of humility I say that my road to enlightenment has hit a rough patch and I sense determination ... read more
Wai-Tapu Thermal Park

Trust, submission, surrender, yielding; all words that I detest. To say I hate giving up control is an understatement; I see it like handing over the reins and being driven off a cliff. But when you’re caving, there are no cliffs, just endless holes that lead to the belly of the earth and since I have no sense of direction underground and there’s no map to follow, I indeed do have to surrender to the greater knowledge of my guides. Imagine how that feels. For this lesson in surrender we find ourselves in Waitomo. Not much to look at above ground but once you squeeze yourself through a hobbit-sized hole there are massive caves in which to go exploring. The area used to be underwater, when New Zealand was nothing but a small rock in a ... read more

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Rotorua August 29th 2014

My first few weeks have been quite a challenge. A pinball to every fancy of the imagination, my mind chose to jump on a rollercoaster of emotions, leaving me tossed, tumbled, turned upside down and just a little fed up. I almost chucked it all in the Pacific and walked away. It’s funny though, how the universe works because as I sit and write about the past few weeks and think of how difficult they were, Rumi gives me that knowing look which has become so aggravating, one eyebrow raised and a half smile on his lips: What sort of person says that he or she wants to be polished and pure, then complains about being handled roughly? Well fine then, Mr. Sassy Pants! And so I continued tramping, from Cape Reinga in the north down ... read more
Mangroves, Paihia
Kauri Tree, Far North
Sunset on the River, Paihia

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Auckland August 19th 2014

I've had a lot of people ask me why I picked New Zealand as the main destination on my year abroad. Didn't I know, they asked, that Australia is down there too and it sounds MUCH more fun? You must be a great diver? Surfer? I bet it's because you're one of the Lord Of The Whatyoumacallit fans! Or, (one of my favorites), You're going to find a Kiwi bloke for yourself! To which I thanked them kindly for the geography lesson, explained that I could easily die in one foot of water, answered affirmative to being a Tolkien reader though not a groupie, and to the last I said "wherever the wind takes me". To be honest, I don't really know why I picked New Zealand. Something drew me here, like a hook in the ... read more

I close my eyes as the plane gains speed, its wheels regretfully lifting off the ground and I can feel the pull of gravity as we move further and furher into the sky. The land falls far below, white clouds move in. I always hate this part: the end of a trip. It's bittersweet, though too often I taste the bitter more than the sweet and I can't help but wish for a delay or that I might have boarded the wrong plane. But I haven't and as China falls far below and I travel back in time over the blue Pacific I think back on the past four months and what they mean to me. I circled the world in hopes of finding an adventure and now I face the important question: did I succeed? ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hanoi May 1st 2012

We come to the end of things, here in the capitol of Vietnam, Hanoi. In Saigon I confronted a new pace to life, frantic and rushed. Da Lat and Sapa were both quiet, their distances from the great cities freeing them from a press of too many people and Hoi An was like being transported back into a slightly twisted European culture. Now I find the capitol to be something all of its own as well. There is the ever-present division of wealth, with shacks hugging to the river and skyscrapers rising up behind them and the traffic is worse with more motorcycles zooming by than you have time to count. Highways here have ramps, the only time I've ever seen a road in Vietnam rise above the ground and from the back of a motorcycle ... read more
Votive Papers
Home Repair Shop
Hoa Lo Prison

Asia » Vietnam » Northwest » Lao Cai » Sapa April 28th 2012

A night train in Vietnam is like anything else in Vietnam: crazy. People rushing, pushing, falling, and screaming to get to a train that could very well possibly leave without them. There are no platform numbers, few train "staff" (even fewer who speak English), and the police in green uniforms hardly offer comfort with their austere, unsmiling faces. I was saved by an equally-overwhelmed British couple and we all safely got out to the train...but didn't know which one was ours. Which mass of people do I follow? That mass of Vietnamese or that one? A girl who sat next to me in the waiting room, who also gave me a pitying face when I hoisted my now-too large bag on my back, came back for me and beckoned me to follow her. Once in my ... read more
Our Extra Passengers
Around Sapa
Hills going up to Sapa

Asia » Vietnam » Red River Delta » Hai Phong » Cat Ba Island April 26th 2012

Fourteen hours on a bus and I go from mid-point Vietnam in Danang to the Northern capital of Hanoi. But I will leave this city for another time and skip over instead to Cat Ba, the largest island of Halong Bay. Halong Bay (and Lan Ha Bay which is the same thing just different province) is supposedly one of those "must see wonders" of the world. Legend says the karst mountains, at a distance appearing as one continuous chain but which are in fact separated by quiet coves and smooth expanses of water, were created by the tail of a passing dragon rising and falling as his wings carried him further inland. Most of the islands are uninhabited, there being few places to dock a boat and building a house on sheer rock face an engineering ... read more
Fisherman's house and boat
Fishermen in Lan Ha Bay
Halong Bay

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Da Nang April 25th 2012

Sit back on a sleeper bus straight out of Harry Potter (crazy driver and near-misses included) and relax...for a fifteen minute ride to the side of the highway where I'm dropped off on the outskirts of Danang. It's the midpoint of Vietnam. I have been here for 15 days and I only have 13 left. Danang is ugly. Hate to say it, but it is. Industrial and pushing for development, it's hard to decide if the greyness comes from cloud cover or pollution. Probably a mixture of both. Riding on a motorbike from the highway into the city is like crossing a desert of half finished buildings, gaping structures through which sand flies to sting the eyes of my driver. But he swerves with style. Very few Western faces show themselves in the streets, the city ... read more

Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Quảng Nam » Hoi An April 23rd 2012

If you were looking for a Western feel in the middle of such an Eastern country as Vietnam, I think Hoi An might be the place. Maybe it's the mansions, now faded mustard yellow with dirt caked within the stone work that speak of an old colonial presence, or the latern-lit bridges that span the river creating a reflection of mulitcolored firefly lights, or the hundreds of tailor shops lining the streets displaying everything from wedding dresses to pin-striped suits that make it seem like you're not so far from home. The city is calmer than Saigon but with more beat than Da Lat and wandering the streets can be a joy and a challenge as motorbike and bicycle taxis both compete with the cries from seamstresses enticing you into their store and to magic the ... read more
Latern Bridge
Chinese Community Center
Dragon and Carp Fountain

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