We are finally getting back with another blog update from the end of 2019. We will share some pics, videos, and stories from an awesome November and December.
Our friend Anita flew from Canada to Dubai to meet us (yay Anita!). She joined us there for a gong show of a birthday brunch for Lisa and then we went to South Africa. Later in December, we flew to Thailand for New Years.
All that and more in this update.
Enjoy. And remember, you can scroll over the pics to see captions and click to enlarge them if you wish.
We had quite a group of close friends join us for the weekend in Dubai for Lisa's birthday brunch at the end of November. As mentioned, our friend Anita flew in from Canada. We loved spending time with her in Dubai and giving her a bit of a taste of "our new home".
Brunch, as expected, was a complete gong show as you can see from the pics and video.
Jeff had to fly home Saturday to work Sunday so Lisa and Anita took advantage of the Dubai time to tour around, see the sights, and also do a desert trip where they surfed the sand dunes, rode camels, and had a BBQ and drinks in the desert.
Jeff flew back to Dubai Sunday after work and met the girls at the airport to fly off to Johannesburg, South Africa.
THANK YOU ANITA for coming to visit!!
After landing in Johannesburg early Monday morning, we took a short flight to Kruger Park, landing at Skukuza airport.
We were picked up by our safari guide and on the way to our lodge we saw giraffes and 6 lions right along the side of the road....even before we got to our camp.
We checked into Notten's Bush Camp and had breakfast. What an amazing lodge. We would stay there again for sure. The food was incredible and top shelf alcohol was included but it was the top-level service that made the experience. Great place!
They also warn you about walking out late at night without a flashlight - we did see a hyena walking through the camp - see the pics below.
The game drives were fantastic, seeing all the big animals we were looking for and even seeing a leopard catch an impala and run it up the tree so the nearby hyena couldn't get any of it. So cool...check the video!
We also took a break one day between morning and afternoon game drives to go golfing at Skukuza Golf Course. We saw warthogs there (pumbas) and many hippos in the waterholes.
This was another amazing safari. We were so happy to share the experience with Anita, as her wild trip continued.
Off to Capetown for a week!
We stayed at an Airbnb in Camp's Bay, a very cool area of Cape Town with a nice beach and many bars and restaurants.
Cape Town is right up there with one of the most beautiful cities we have ever seen. It actually reminded us a lot of Vancouver. There are so many things to do here - nice waterfront, great beaches, amazing restaurants & bars, safaris, shark diving, and so many touristy areas to visit. It is tough to beat the scenery around Cape Town!
Also, some kick ass wine tasting tours!
- Hop On Hop Off Wine Tram in Franschhoek - an incredible day with beautiful scenery
- Constantia Valley wine area
- Table Mountain
- V&A Waterfront - a beautiful area along the harbour - great views, lots of shopping, restaurants, bars, and some great canal boat rides to enjoy!
- Bo Kaap is a former township on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre. It has beautiful colourful homes and is quite multicultural (56% muslim).- Oranjezicht City Fram Market - a great market with lots of food and a nice beer garden
- Boulder's Beach - so cool to see penguins out in the wild and enjoying a gorgeous day
- Cape Point & Cape of Good Hope - at the southernmost tip of Africa
- Chapman's Peak Drive - one of the most scenic ocean drives you can take
- A reminder of where we are - check out the pic below of the bench saying "Whites Only". It wasn't too long ago when this was acceptable!
- Diamond Tour - pretty cool to see diamond cutting & polishing in action
Codfather - pick your fish, they weight it and cook it for you
Hussar Grill - incredible steak house ... had to go twice since Lisa passed out the first time!
Biltong - is a dried, cured meat originating in South African countries using various types of meats
We really enjoyed our time in Cape Town and area, as you will see by the pics below...
This flat topped mountain overlooks Cape Town and can be seen from everywhere! It is 3km from side to side and 1086m (3563 ft) tall.
Amazing views from the top of it and a great place to enjoy some beers!
Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope
We took a bus to the southernmost tip of Africa to enjoy some awesome views and a nice hike along the cliffs.
This is a very cool beach in Simon's Town where you can see tons of penguins hanging out in the wild. You could even swim in the water with them but apparently it is pretty cold!
We took the Hop On Hop Off Wine Tram in Franschhoek - an incredible day with beautiful scenery as you will see. What a cool way to do some wine tasting. The day definitely got out of control!
We did another wine tour in the Constantia Valley wine area near Cape Town. Another fantastic time!
South African wine is so good...and no hangovers!
Christmas Season in Bahrain & Saudi
Here are a few pics from the Christmas season in Bahrain, where we spent a few weekends with friends. We also hosted a huge Christmas dinner at our home in Saudi. Great times that make it feel festive!
New Years in Thailand
We took a few days off over New Years to go to Thailand, spending our time in Phuket.
We were here in 2018 and loved it - a great getaway for a few days.
We went for dinner with Rhonda, a Canadian who worked with Jeff in Saudi. She now lives part-time in Phuket and part-time in Kelowna back in Canada. It was great to catch up!
New Years was a wild time in Phuket but our highlight was the boat trip for a day outing to Freedom Beach...beautiful!
We have planned out a bit of our 2020 leaves and are happy to hear we have some friends already planned to meet us for a few of them...
March - Vienna, Austria & Budapest, Hungary
May - Lisa will head home to Ontario and I will meet her a week after. We will spend some time in Calgary and Edmonton and then a few days in London, UK on the way back
July - Cyprus
August - have a vacation booked but no plans yet (most likely Europe somewhere)
September - Oktoberfest in Munich
November - have a vacation booked but no plans yet
February/March 2021 - T&A21 ....we will be there for this one. So sad to be missing the T&A gang this year, as they are off to Costa Rica in a week or so.
Hope you enjoyed some of the stories and pics.
Will leave you with a couple really cool pics of the recent eclipse - these are some shots someone took out in the desert. Awesome!
Stay safe everyone....see you soon!
Thailand ... and other Fall 2018 stuff
Hey everyone, it's been a while since we posted anything and we've had a busy fall.
We had quite a few weekends in Bahrain with friends, a great weekend getaway to Dubai, and the highlight was our first trip to Thailand in November.
Many of our friends have visited Thailand several times and had raving reviews, so we thought we'd check it out to see what all the hype was about.
We were even more excited to hear that Anita, Dennis, and Nicole were joining us from Canada.
Read below to hear all about our fall season and see some pics and videos.
A couple of tips -it is easier to read on a computer than a cell phone. Scrolling the cursor over photos may show some captions. Click on photos to enlarge them.
We flew into Bangkok early on Monday, November 19th. We enjoyed that day, Tuesday, and Wednesday there until flying off to Phuket.
What can we say about Bangkok?
It is definitely busy - roads were very congested so it was easier to travel via tuk tuks. With so much exhaust from vehicles getting on us, the shower sure felt good later in the day.
They were just coming out of the rainy season so it was super humid! Jeff was loving it!
Food and drinks were so cheap! Often you could get authentic pad Thai for less than 50 baht (50 baht is $1.50 US). Our first night we saw a Tony Roma's and Lisa went crazy, wanting to go for her favourite pork ribs. Gotta admit, they were damn good. But we didn't come to Thailand for BBQ food.
We stayed at the JW Marriott which was in a great location with an easy walk to many bars, shops, and restaurants.
What to see in Bangkok?
Daytime - many amazing temples and buddha monuments! We took a Hop On Hop Off Tuk Tuk ride, which is like the Uber of Hop On, Hop Off buses - it was amazing...even included a portable wifi router and all the places you wanted to visit for $20! Highlights were the incredible Grand Palace, Wat Pho (with the massive Reclining Buddha), and the Golden Mount (a tower on top of a hill with incredible views of Bangkok). There are also many huge shopping malls, often 6-8 stories high with shops carrying everything you could imagine!
Nightime - Bangkok comes alive at night!
Night 1 - we went to the famous Soi Cowboy street which is nothing but bars, most of them strip bars (among other things). There are ladyboys all over so you have to be careful who you are talking to before touching. You also see many old guys picking up the young Thai women. Great people watching! We met a fun Welsh couple, Ian and Nikki, who coerced us into drinking many Jack & cokes and Gin & tonics. We hit a few strip clubs and then finished off the night at Nana Plaza (again, more bars) and then watching Nikki and Lisa try their best at bull riding at Hooters.
Night 2 - we met Ian and Nikki for round 2 at Soi Cowboy and decided to go to Khao San Road, which has a different vibe. It is a younger crowd, has more shops, restaurants, and many bars. This was our first chance to see a bug food truck where you could sample scorpions, tarantulas, worms, beetles, cockroaches, and who knows what else. Nikki was the only one brave enough (or drunk enough) to sample anything...she went for the worms. Jeff has trouble getting Lisa to try rice or stir fries, let alone a friggin' insect!
Wednesday the 21st - arrive in Phuket
We would say that Phuket (we stayed at Patong Beach) is like the "greatest hits" of a vacation. Amazing weather, great beach, nice pools, tasty & cheap food, tasty & cheap drinks, amazing people watching, shopping, as well as many excursions available on land and water!
We check into the amazing Burasari Hotel and quickly find that it has a great location - half a block from the beach, a block from Hard Rock Hotel and Hooters as well as shopping, and right next door to a great Irish bar called the Drunken Leprechaun....and yes, it has Drunken Leprechauns!
Our hotel has a nice swim up bar as well as a sit down bar, free pool table, and our room has a patio with a walk out into the pool. Awesome!
Night one kind of goes like this - we check in at 5pm and go to find Anita who has flown across the world from Edmonton to Vancouver to Hong Kong to Phuket. Yep, she's a bit tired but that won't stop a tough Saskatchewan girl from trying to stay awake to greet Nicole and Dennis (who went Calgary/Edmonton to Vancouver to Beijing to Phuket). Anita, Jeff, and Lisa hit the Drunken Leprechaun and quickly we can see why they call it that, as we all succumb to the invite of Captain Morgan (see photo below). It did allow us to stay awake to greet Nicole and Dennis around 1am. Beers in the lobby until we all pass out.
Welcome to Phuket!
Thursday the 22nd
This is kind of a 'chill out in the pool and go discover Patong Beach' kind of day.
Amazing pool combined with Chang beers got us hungry so we hit the beach and went for some Thai food (well, Lisa had a Whopper!)
We went down to the beach at night for a nice sunset and to celebrate the annual festival, Loy Krathong ("to float a basket"), where you could simply buy one of many types of flower baskets and set the candles on fire to float into the ocean. This sounds really nice and we had images of how beautiful it would be but the waves had different ideas as most of the baskets were extinguished before they could float too far. Pretty cool anyway!
We then settled into Bangla Road for drinks and people watching - you can see some of the goofy things you can buy in the pics below. There is also a pic of the "menu" of what you can see at the famous ping pong show. We didn't go this night but would go before the week was over. A sight to see, like a train wreck!
Friday the 23rd - Lisa's birthday
We did a boat excursion to celebrate Lisa's birthday. Dennis had a great idea that we should bring 48 cans of Chang beer for the trip....because, why wouldn't you?
We went to 5 islands (not sure of the names):
Island 1. went to enjoy the beach and nice water
Island 2. went kayaking through caves
Island 3. James Bond Island
Island 4. Koh Panyee - a fishing village built on stilts (pretty cool)
Island 5. an island with a cave that looked like ice cream
The islands were beautiful and we had a great time on the boat...except for Jeff's swimming trunks. We noticed minutes into the trip that there was a big rip right in the crotch area so he had to seat strategically so there was no free peep shows for the rest of the people on the boat. Luckily, by the time we hit the 3rd island, he found a market shop that sold trunks, even though they looked terrible.
We got back to the hotel and had a nice evening out, listening to live music at the Hard Rock Cafe and then having cocktails in the shopping market.
A great day on the water with great friends!
Happy Birthday Lisa!
Saturday the 24th
We decided to sleep in a bit and hit the beach for some sun and Changs.
The evening took us back to Bangla Road for more drinks and people watching.
The ping pong show was something else! Got to see everything the menu in the pic listed. The shocker was the hamster coming out of her kitty kat. Unreal! Something to see!
Dennis and Jeff hit the famous Suzy Wong's strip bar while Nicole and Lisa played "Jackpot", which is a very fun game played with dice. They are at all the bars and available to buy as well.
The night ended listening to some live music and watching Nicole get accused for stealing a $1 bracelet. Haha. Didn't know Lisa had it in her to say "I'm gonna cut that bitch!". Long story...just ask.
The night ended with a drunken tuk tuk ride rockin' out to Bon Jovi taking us to the Drunken Leprechaun for some tasty Guinness and Beef pie.
Hey, where is Anita?
Sunday the 25th
We woke up and went to Tiger Kingdom, which was a nice tiger sanctuary where you can get photos with baby, mid-size, and full-size tigers. Many places like this actually drug their tigers for people to pet them but we were able to get in there with them and be safe because they have been raised by the tiger handlers and they felt safe with them. They're also nocturnal so are pretty dopey and tired during the day, just like house cats. Very cool experience!
The day ended with pool cocktails and more shenanigans on Bangla Road.
Monday the 26th
We went to the Green Elephant Sanctuary Park to hang out with some elephants. It was a pretty cool experience - you feed them, then put mud on them, and then bathe them and wash the mud off. They really seemed to enjoy being cleaned and hanging out in the water pools, as they were going under water and rolling around. They had a newborn baby who was very cute!
The day finished off with some dinner, shopping, and playing some games - Connect 4, Jackpot, and another interesting game where you hammer nails into a log.
The week went by quickly and it was our last night with our Canadian friends. We said our sad goodbyes and flew off to Bangkok for one last night.
Oktoberfest in Bahrain
We went over to Bahrain for the October 12th weekend with Luc & Tracey and unexpectedly ended up at an Oktoberfest party at our hotel. Massive German beers, a huge buffet, an oompah band, and also ran into friends Wayne & Hayley from our compound. Fun night! Rested up the next day in the pool.
Bahrain Tribfest - October 19
The fall edition of Bahrain's Tribfest was another great day. This was the first Tribfest we've been to where it hasn't been blazing hot sun so it was quite enjoyable. We also planned a new strategy...hang at the pool hotel and get there for 3-4pm instead of going for 11am. This proved to be an effective game plan, as we were finally able to stay awake until the last band. Guns n' Roses was AWESOME!
Jeff's Birthday weekend in Bahrain
Decided at the last minute to head over to Bahrain to celebrate Jeff's birthday. We will let the pics do the talking on how this ended up...
Yacht Day to Jarada Island
We planned another weekend in Bahrain November 1st & 2nd with Luc & Tracey, Jeff & Sara, Dave & Nicky, Hayden & Christy.
It coincided with Luc's birthday so another great reason to celebrate. Thursday night was some food and live music at Texas BBQ and Friday was a full day on our friend Robin's yacht. The marine is on Amwaj Island so you can see "Floating City" in the pics - almost like Venice. We spend a full day (and much of the night) on the yacht with lots of singing, drinking, and laughs. We went out to Jarada Island, which is a sandbar between Bahrain and Qatar. What an amazing weekend!!!
Funny story about the video of Lisa singing Shoop...to post videos onto this blog, we have to upload to Youtube. We didn't realize that anyone can see the videos there. Some random dude leaves a comment "I'd kill myself if I had to spend 30 minutes with her!". Haha, if only he was that lucky!
A few random shots for you before we go. We had a ton of rain in November. Yes, rain in the desert! Check out the video of the joker in Bahrain.
We wish all of our friends and family a safe and Merry Christmas...wish we were there to celebrate with you! Hope Santa is good to you!
We will celebrate Christmas here, as Jeff is working that day. Our compound puts on a great buffet that night so it will kind of feel festive.
We are off to Frankfurt, Germany for a long weekend December 28-January1 so will get to feel the Christmas spirit and celebrate New Years! Will post a shorter blog sometime in January.
Then it's back to Saudi to prep for our annual T&A escapades in February.
Safe holidays everyone!
All posts are updated by Jeff & Lisa