Page 3 of heckmantis Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Indonesia » Bali » Ubud January 14th 2014

See "Christmas with Orangutans" for the prequel to this trip. Oh Bali. The party island of southeast Asia. Known for beautiful beaches and legendary nightlife, Bali seemed like the ideal place to go after a stint in the Malaysian jungle. Our flight lands an hour and a half late (due to the weather in Kota Kinabalu) and we reach Bali-Denpasar airport just before 10:00 on Thursday night, the day after Christmas. I've landed in Asia, but when I step into the airport I might as well be in Australia. I have been warned that Bali is constantly full of Australians looking to party for less than $12 a beer. And "full of Australians" might be an understatement. The line for immigration is endless. After being surprised with a $25 USD fee for "Visa on Arrival" we ... read more
Kuta at Night
What we were Expecting to See
What we Actually Saw

Asia » Malaysia » Sabah » Kinabatangan January 6th 2014

After starting my holiday vacation out with a few days in Melbourne (see "The Great Ocean Road" for background), I fly to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (on the island of Borneo) to meet up with Nimarta, who is already there and has been there for a few days now. We are staying with one of her friends from college, Alex, who happens to live right by the airport so it's quite convenient. They meet me at the airport and I hop in his truck, because everyone in Malaysia drives a pickup truck. It's about 10:00 at night, so it's late, but not to worry. Restaurants in Malaysia are open all night. We roll into a little seafood joint and it's packed with people eating dinner, or whatever you call a 10:00 meal. Nimarta had caught a fish ... read more

North America » United States » Oregon » Crater Lake December 18th 2013

For the road trip up to this point please see "Great American Road Trip Part 1: Seattle to the Redwoods Highway 199 in northern California is named The Redwood Highway. It's incredibly scenic. The road winds around mountains covered in redwood groves as it snakes its way north to Oregon. It's quite early on Tuesday morning, the month of July coming to and end. I've chosen to get a head start on the day so I can get to Crater Lake National Park at a decent hour in the afternoon. As the highway cross the border and progresses into Oregon the terrain becomes more desert-like. There are still tall forests along the road but I can tell that the climate is drier up here. I don't really have any desire to stop anywhere on the way ... read more
Looking down on Crater Lake
The Haze
At the Lake Shore

It's July of 2013 and it's my first full month off of work since I lost my job in Vegas in 2010. This time I've voluntarily left Weidlinger in DC after accepting a job in New Zealand. I start in mid September, giving me 10 total weeks off. Unfortunately I can't leave the country though. I really want to go chill on the beaches of Thailand for a few weeks, but New Zealand Immigration has my passport. So I'm passportless while I await approval of my work visa. I'm not sure when I'm going to get it back so I'm not buying a flight to Asia given the possibility of not having my passport back in time. So instead of Asia, I decide to make a road trip to some American National Parks and places I ... read more
Rattlesnake Lake
Hayward Field
Oregon Coast

Europe » Sweden » Stockholm County » Stockholm December 8th 2013

In December of 2011 one of the travel deal websites I follow advertised an SAS Airlines sale from DC to Copenhagen for $750 round trip. Having just paid almost $1400 for my flight to Oktoberfest this seemed like a great deal. And on top of that I had always wanted to go to Scandinavia. Something about it just piques my interest. When most people think of traveling to Europe they think of Italy and Spain and France. But not me. As much as I want to see those places as well I've always wanted to see the fjords in Norway. Or the Ice Hotel in Sweden. Or learn about the Vikings in Denmark. Scandinavia is an unheard of travel destination for most Americans. Maybe because it's so cold. But I've seen pictures of Norway. I know ... read more
Brooklyn Brewery Beers
Glaciers in Norway

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Masterton November 27th 2013

It was late in the week in late November when Nimarta and I got invited to join a big hiking trip in the mountains north of Wellington. Not having any real plans, we said why not and joined a group of 21 (mostly from my office) on an adventure to Mt. Holdsworth. Most of the group went up Friday night and camped out, but I wanted to do some things after work and decided to just drive up early Saturday morning. My friend from work picks us up at about 6:15 AM and we're on the road. We were told to be there by 8 so we wanted to get there with time to spare. After one stop for food we make it to the trailhead/campsite by 8 AM. The rest of the group was up ... read more
Nimarta Crossing the Single Person Bridge
View from the Top
About to Shotgun Some Beers

Europe » Switzerland » North-East » Zürich » Zürich November 18th 2013

By the time I decided to make a trip to Switzerland my friend Richie and I had already decided to go to Munich for Oktoberfest. It's the spring of 2011 and Oktoberfest is at the end of September. I want to add something onto this trip to Munich though. It will only be my second time in Europe, having just been to Greece in 2008, and I want to add another country to my list. Having always wanted to go to the home country of my tennis Idol, Roger Federer (for more reasons than just that's where he's from), Switzerland seemed like the obvious choice. The Alps. The cheese. The chocolate. The nuetrelness. And so close to Munich. Richie was interested in going to Switzerland too, so we booked our flights from DC to Zurich then ... read more
Downtown Zurich
Beer Hall in Zurich
Swiss Meal

Oceania » New Zealand » North Island » Rotorua October 28th 2013

For my first holiday weekend as a resident of New Zealand I chose to head north from Wellington (really the only way to go driving without getting on the ferry) up to Rotorua. Rotorua is a popular place due to it's high geothermal activity. The area is very similar to what you find in Yellowstone National Park in the US, just not vast. On the way you also pass some national parks and active volcanoes, as well as numerous small towns along State Highway 1. It's Labor Day weekend, which is October 28 in New Zealand, giving me my second Labor Day weekend of the year. I spent my first Labor Day weekend relaxing at the pools in Las Vegas. This was to be a bit different. I leave work a bit early and Nimarta picks ... read more
Frying Pan Lake
Edge of Frying Pan Lake
Trail Through Waimangu

Europe » Germany » Bavaria » Munich October 24th 2013

This is the story of three mid-20s Americans in Munich for Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is probably the most renowned party in the world. The only others even in the same ballpark are Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Everyone who's ever tasted a beer knows what Oktoberfest is. The name is synonymous with drinking beer and having fun. All around the world, cities and bars host miniature Oktoberfest parties for those not fortunate enough to make it to Munich. But it's not the same. There is only one Oktoberfest and it's in Munich, Germany. It lasts exactly two weeks from late September to early October (it used to be solely in October but they moved it up a couple weeks because people complained it was too cold). It takes place at a ... read more
Paulaner Tent
Spatenbrau Tent
Hofbrau Tent

North America » United States » Alaska » Anchorage July 12th 2013

Ever since I made my first western US road trip I have wanted to go to Alaska. The Last Frontier. There's an aura around the state that no other place in the US really has. Untamed wilderness. Open lands with more grey wolves than people. And there aren't a whole of grey wolves left these days. Living in Washington DC, it's a pretty serious trip though. Nothing you can do on a weekend. Hell, it's further than Europe. But after making my last four big vacations international I decided that I would finally go to Alaska in the summer of 2013. I gauged the interest of my friends and family and was able to recruit my friend Bryan from grad school and my mom. The next step was to decide where to go. Alaska is a ... read more
Fog on the Top of Flattop Mountain
Darkness in Anchorage
Valley in Denali

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