Andreas and Whitney

Joined January 2017Living in: Auckland, New Zealand

Get the app!

Post offline and never miss updates of friends with our free app.

FindPenguins for iOS FindPenguins for Android

New to FindPenguins?

Sign up free

  • Day210

    The trains are on strike! We had grand plans to ride the world famous Sri Lankan railway through tea fields into the mountains. Instead, because of the pesky strike, we took the much cheaper, faster, and less scenic local express bus. In Nuwara Eliya we stayed in a lovely guesthouse overlooking a quaint vegetable farm and Sri Lanka's tallest peak (Pidurutalagala at 2524m or 8281ft). Given the rural landscape, we decided to rent scooters for two days and explore the town and its surrounding areas. The first day we went on a long windy ride to a local tea plantation. Here we had a free tour of the factory and learned all about various types of tea and how it is made. We finished the tour with a complimentary cup of BOP tea, a medium-strong black tea that you drink without milk... of course. On day two, we rode in the opposite direction through farmland that reminded us of New Zealand to Horton National Park; in fact, one of these dairy farms is partially owned by a NZ company! While we hiked for three hours to 'World's End' (described as a sheer cliff edge dropping down 800m), the valley was completely clouded in when we got there. Nevertheless, it was still a beautiful and scenic walk. Next stop Ella; the trains are still on strike, so it's the crowded local bus again.Read more

  • Explore, what other travelers do in:
  • Day208

    We spent most of our time in Kandy strolling through the botanical gardens which seemed like an oasis in the middle of a busy and dirty city. The highlights were the giant bamboo, the avenues of palm tree varieties, the cooks pine (a tall wispy tree with what looked like a crooked spine), double coconut trees (coconuts so big there may have been two in each pod!), a tree with a cactus epiphyte, the beautiful flower gardens, and the orchid garden.

    We also visited the Buddhist Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. This temple opens the doors to the tooth chamber three times a day (dawn, noon, and dusk) and there was a huge queue to look through the tiny doors and view an aisle of elephant tusks leading to a small golden Stupa supposedly housing the sacred tooth. While we opted to skip the line, Whit managed to snag a picture of the inner sanctum while struggling past the huge crowd.
    Read more

  • Day205

    Polonnaruwa, a village near Sigirya, is beautiful and quiet, surrounded by rivers and rice fields. After a long sunset walk, we went out for a unique dining experience at an organic farm/restaurant. There was no menu, we just sat down and the owner started bringing out the food. 21 dishes in total! It was delicious, healthy, and all for only $9 NZD a person.

    Next we headed to the famous Sigiriya. An awe-inspiring rock/volcanic plug that seems to protrude miraculously from the jungle below. On top of it are ruins from an ancient city. Because we are on a tighter budget than Jon and Barb, we let them climb to the top by themselves, while Andreas and I hiked a nearby mountain that gave us a spectacular view of Sigiriya. Rain had been looming on the horizon all day, so we waited until the last moment to climb down the mountain before the skies opened and it started pouring. We took shelter in a sacred cave until it stopped. Next stop, Kandy!Read more

  • Day205

    We all had mixed feelings about our time in the ancient ruin-rich city of Anuradhapura.

    Anuradhapura is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities of the world and its main attractions are three giant dome structures called Stupas as well as a sacred tree that dates back to 245 BC. The Stupas measure over 60m (200ft) high and over 90m (300ft) in diameter with the oldest dating back to the 1st century BC. While we visited these attractions and found them impressive, we felt that the $25 USD entry fee was too steep, especially given that no one checked this ticket when visiting two of the Stupas as well as the sacred tree. On top of this, despite the attractions being busy, we barely saw anyone else buying these tickets, making the expensive price seem like a scam. Nevertheless, as you can see from the photos, Anuradhapura had a lot to offer and we enjoyed ourselves.Read more

  • Day202

    We found Jon and Barb Marwick in Sri Lanka!

    We will be traveling with Andreas's parents through Sri Lanka for the next three weeks. Our first stop was Negombo. Our first few days were full of rain. We don't mind because it means cooler weather. We did however have to wade through water whenever we wanted to leave our Airbnb. We explored the windy beaches in our rain coats and had fun catching up with each other.Read more

  • Day201

    Whit and I enjoyed our time in the beachy southern state of Goa. It reminded us of south east Asia which was a welcome change to the cold and chaos of northern India. By chance, we met a fellow kiwi from Wellington (Mark) at the airport and spent our time in Goa with Mark visiting nearby beaches (sometimes on motorbikes), perusing the goods at a large flea market, lazing on various loungers by the beach, drinking fruit juices and beer, and eating the delicious southern Indian food (fish curry and masala dosa).

    We now head to Sri Lanka to travel with my parents for three weeks! Goodbye India!
    Read more

  • Day196

    Indian thanksgiving! While exploring the beautiful sandstone fort of Jaisalmer, Andreas and I met a fellow American at a cafe and we decided to have an Indian thanksgiving. At the restaurant, our dinner for three combined with a birthday party and turned into a huge thanksgiving feast complete with tandoori chicken, mashed potatoes, and mixed veg curry. It's hard being away from family and friends during the holidays, but our feast made it feel like home.

    The next day we fulfilled a personal dream of mine to go on a camel safari. We went with a couple we met the night before from Australia. We instantly hit it off so it made for a great time. We took a jeep for one hour and then rode camels for about 1.5 hours into the Thar desert. On the way we stopped at our guide's village to meet his baby camel that was born the night before. Meeting this beautiful alien-like baby was a very special experience. Riding camels was a lot different than we expected. They are a lot taller and a lot bumpier than we imagined. We arrived at our camp just in time to watch the sunset. We were only 40km from Pakistan (a 1.5 hr camel ride)! After two weeks of sensory overload, it was surreal to have complete silence. We ate curries around the campfire and stargazed from our beds.

    We woke up to breakfast in bed and were pleased to find two cute dogs from a local village sleeping under our beds for warmth. After the guides rounded up the camels, who were grazing during the night, we rode back to civilization. This was definitely one of our top experiences.

    Next we head south to the beaches of Goa for a little R & R.
    Read more

  • Day192

    Like all of India, the blue city of Jodhpur was noisy, bustling, and dirty. It is situated deep within the state of Rajasthan, so it was our first experience of a classic Indian desert city. The buildings are all side by side, square, multi-levelled, and usually painted light blue (hence the moniker 'the blue city'). On top of a hill overlooking the city is the Mehrangarh fort, a huge arabianesque castle. We spent one afternoon exploring this beast and visiting the museum inside.

    Other highlights of Jodhpur were the beautiful blue buildings (often with turquoise doors), a brilliant cafe serving the best coffee we have had in ages, and the local goats dressed in sweaters. Yep, you read right. Goats wearing sweaters... My favourite was a fiesty hipster look alike adorned in a cardigan and enthusiastically attempting to headbutt Whit (check the pictures).
    Read more

  • Day187

    After a few near-death experiences on a crazy local bus, we safely arrived in the hippie-haven of Pushkar. The city has less traffic than our previous destinations with only one main road lined with shops. The old city and temples surround a small lake where people bathe in its holy waters. We spent most of our time in Pushkar relaxing at a beautiful rooftop cafe by the lake. We enjoyed watching a family of monkeys jump between houses, people worshiping the not so pristine lake, and the colorful sunsets. Andreas and I feel recharged and ready for our next adventure.Read more

  • Day185

    It's official, Whit and I have been traveling for half a year and have visited 13 countries! Among countless experiences, we've partied on the Gili islands in Indonesia, scuba dived in the crystal clear waters of Malaysia, zip-lined through the jungle in Laos, meditated at the temples in Cambodia, sung Karaoke in Japan, and hiked the Himalayas. Despite the trials that come with long term travel (mostly missing all you wonderful people), this adventure has been life changing. We are truly blessed to have had the opportunity to do this trip and I couldn't have picked a better partner-in-crime to do this with.

    Back to business as usual, Jaipur was a nice first taste of India's Rajasthan state. We stayed in a flash social hostel, meeting lots of other travelers and went out for the evening to an Indian club offering free alcohol to the ladies. Jaipur's main attraction is the Amber fort, an immense castle and walled city. While we didn't want to front up the extortionate prices to head inside the fort. Whit and I hiked up (for free) the ridge opposite to the fort to watch the sunset. It was a lovely way to spend the evening.
    Read more

  • Day185

    It's difficult to describe our Varanasi experience. Some words that come to mind are bizarre, amazing, unique, and weird. It was by far the biggest culture shock we have had so far. It was truly an oppressive assault on our senses.

    Varanasi is considered the oldest living city in the world. People have been making the pilgrimage to Varanasi for 4,000 years to burn the bodies of their deceased relatives and bathe in the Gange river to 'wash off their sins.' People believe that burning a person's body beside the river stops the reincarnation process. If you are a baby, pregnant, or have committed suicide, your body is not cremated but put into the river so you can be reincarnated again. If you have the time, look up Varanasi and the Aghori people. These people live along the river banks of the Ganges and cover their bodies head to toe in human ash. The Aghori also follow cannibalistic practices.

    Andreas and I walked along the riverfront and watched the bizarre happenings. We had a few up close and personal encounters with dead people. It seemed that everywhere we went along the river people were carrying around the bodies of loved ones. We can now say that we have witnessed a cremation. It is both horrifying and fascinating to be a part of this ancient tradition (understandably photography is not allowed).

    It was both interesting and gross to see people bathing, washing their clothes, and brushing their teeth in the water right next to where the bodies were burned. I cringe to think what a microbe slide would look like taken from that water. Most horrifying were the hotels washing all their linens in the river (we used our sleep sacks).

    Andreas and I both decided that Varanasi is a place we don't want to go back to, but think everyone should go to see at least once in their lifetime. This is truly a place we will never forget.
    Read more

  • Day183

    Whit and I partially escaped the Delhi pollution by catching an early morning train to Agra. The Taj Mahal is Agra' s main attraction. We  woke up at dawn to beat the crowds and watch the sunrise. However, a pollution/early-morning-mist combo forced us change our plans and we instead had breakfast at a bustling and dirty street market. We were the only westerners in sight and our cheap and tasty breakfast included the best chai teas we've ever had.

    We checked out the Taj Mahal at mid-morning and were stunned by its size and beauty. We had to fight crowds of people for prime photo spots but it was all worth it for the snaps we got. As we are westerners, our tickets cost far more than indian tourists' tickets ($20 vs 80cents) and we were considered  'high value ticket holders'. Being highrollers, we were entitled to skip huge lines extending around the Taj's perimeter and head directly inside. The Taj's exterior is currently being cleaned and in one of the pictures below you can clearly see the difference the cleaning makes. With one Wonder ticket off our list, we head to Varanasi and the Ganges to the Mecca of culture shocks.
    Read more