Maldives Snorkeling

Kingsley and I had grand plans of doing an RTI (round the island) snorkel while we were in the Maldives but though the island was small and the swim fairly easy, we totally underestimated the abundance of sea life which slowed down our snorkel adventure to a snails pace as we soaked in the colorful coral and playful fish.  In one day we only covered about 1/3 of the island and on the second day we felt compelled to swim back over the section we had already seen as it was just too beautiful to not visit again.   I thought 5 days on the island would be plenty of time to see everything but we actually ran out of time to snorkel the entire reef.  Which I am ok with only because I secretly hope we can return one day.

Day1snorkelcoral from Lynn Wood on Vimeo.

Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Situated in the North Huvadhoo Atoll, an area virtually untouched by tourism, lies one of the largest and deepest Atolls in the world. Hadahaa offers a true paradise for divers and snorkelers which is exactly why we chose it to celebrate our anniversary this year.  Its not the easiest place to get to, once you arrive in Male its about a 2 hour flight south and then an additional 45 min boat ride to get to the island.  But once you are are in paradise.

Hadahaa island from Lynn Wood on Vimeo.

With apx 1200 species of fish and 250 types of coral the house reef is incredibly special and in todays over-fished world, very rare.  Nation wide Maldives research published in 2010 found that Hadahaa house reef to have the greatest coral cover, exceeding 100%.

I think of all our trips this was one of the most chill.  We slept in late, showed up to breakfast 15 minutes before it closed to enjoy our gluten free pastries and eggs benedict. Then had an afternoon swim, snorkel and nap.  Followed by sundowners on the beach and a lovely evening meal.  We developed a heavenly routine each day and could feel ourselves bit by bit unwinding into island time.  It is such a magical feeling to have absolutely no worries in the world other than which of the three island restaurants you want to dine in that evening. 

Rotorua Hot Springs

Where does one go for a weekend getaway in Auckland New Zealand in the middle of winter?  Rotorua hot springs of course. Its an easy and beautiful 2 hour drive south of Auckland through farm and hobbit country.  We stayed at the Hamurana Lodge over the weekend which I would highly recommend.

In the evening we took a dip in the very strongly sulfur smelling hot springs on lake Rotorua.  Kingsley even covered himself in the hot springs mud which is meant to be very healthy for your skin.  I was a little weary as it was SO strongly sulfur smelling.  It did cross my mind as I was showering post hot springs soak that I had better double bag our swim suits so the rental car wouldn't smell too bad.  Little did I know that our swimsuits were the least of our worries.  

For literally the next three days Kingsley and I could hardly stand to be near each other with a strong smell of sulfur pouring out of our skin.  Weeks after the trip and after about 10 washings I finally had to throw out our hot springs swimsuits as I could not manage to get the smell out of them despite using every online laundry remedy I could find. In hindsight, I remember thinking it was odd that they offered disposable swimsuits for sale at the entrance to the hot springs. Now it all makes sense!  But it was still a worthwhile experience, just make sure you go for the disposable swimsuits if you ever find yourself in Rotorua.

Australia & NZ 2015 Video

Australia & NZ 2015 from Lynn Wood on Vimeo.

Sydney - Family time

We were lucky enough to spend some time with the Wood family while visiting Sydney.  The last time we were in Sydney was in 2009 so its been a few years since we were all together.  Even tough it was a bit chilly we visited a park in North bridge to watch the stunning sunset over the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  We then had a lovely dinner with family, it was so much fun to catch up, and home cooked meals with family and friends are just such a wonderful way to reconnect with those you love.

Melbourne Great Ocean Road Trip

Kingsley and I took a weekend roadie (as they say down under) and drove from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road to the 12 Apostles.

First stop was lunch Apollo Bay where we shared the Seafood soup, gluten free turkish bread and a glass of Seresin Sav Blanc (one of my new favorites!) at La Bimba by a surprisingly American waitress!  The food was fresh and very delicious.

We then drove to Cape Otway Lightstation which has been in operation since 1848.  It is pearched on the cliffs where the bass strait and the southern ocean collide.  We went up the top of the lighthouse and marvel at the giant lead crystal lens, shipped from England, and valued at 5 million USD.  For many immigrants Cape Otway was their first sight of land after leaving Europe or North America and many months at sea.

One of the unique landmarks at the lighthouse is the Frederick Valentich- Plaque which remembers the 20 year old pilot who disappeared over bass strait while flying from Melbourne to Kin Island on October 21, 1978. Frederick and his Cessna aircraft flew over Cape Otway before disappearing without a trace.  After reading the transcripts of Fredericks last words with the Melbourne Flight service many beleve this story to be Austalias most credible UFO mystery.

The windy road leading up to the lighthouse is full of Manna Gum trees which sadly are in decline due to Koala over- browsing.  But it is where many wild KOALAS call home!   We spotted quite a few resting high up in the trees as we drove along which was an unexpected highlight of the trip.

We made it to the 12 Apostles in time to watch the sunset, but didn't linger as it was freezing outside! So we drove on to Port Campbell where we spent the night at Daisy Hill Cottages where they had a wood burning stove going in the room for us and later enjoyed dinner at cute little boutique restaurant just down the road called Karoa

Sadly the weekend flew by much too fast but was relaxing and a perfect little weekend escape.  

Melbourne - Favorite Restaurants

Just recording these down in case I am ever in Melbourne again - there are SO many awesome food options in Melbourne but these were two of my favorites!

Chin Chin we were lucky enough to get in line for a table right before the big dinner rush so we only had to wait about 10 min for a table.  By the time we were finished eating the line was snaked around the block- we ordered the fresh spring rolls, barramundi apple thai salad, crispy calamari (GF).  The calamari was my favorite

Gazi- Amazing Greek food - we did the 7 course tasting menu which I highly recommend - we were especially excited about the gluten free pita bread (which was to die for) but everything on the menu was awesome!

Shopping musts: David Jones, Mimco, Witchery

Melbourne - Costume Party

Our first weekend in Melbourne we caught up with some longtime friends Ashley and Kelly.  They were kind enough to host us at their house for an impromptu costume dinner party.  Suhas was also in Melbourne for work so was able to join in the fun.

These guys all met through paragliding in Seattle many years ago


Peninsula Hot Springs

After taking the (brutal) red eye flight from Singapore to Melbourne, Kingsley and I needed a good hot springs soak to shake off our sleep deprivation and acclimated ourselves to the chilly winter temps.  I booked us in for a couples massage at the famous Peninsula Hot Springs which included access to the varied in temperature hot spring pools along the side of the mountain.  The drive from the airport to the hot springs was a long 90 minutes and pretty tiring after very little sleep but it was absolutely worth it as the hot springs and spa are amazing.

The springs was far bigger than I imagined, with many pools set up along the side of a mountain. At the bases, there was large pools with varying water temperatures, and some cold pools to plunge into. Kingsley mentioned it was invigorating to plunge from the hot water to the cold, but I was too chicken to try it! After a good long soak we headed to the Spa Dreaming Center where Kingsley and I did the couples Australian Aboriginal-inspired kodo full body massage which hit the spot after the long flight.

National Day SG50

 Celebrating fifty years of nationhood for a country that was never meant to be. In half a century, it went from being a backward, sleepy fishing town to one of the world’s richest economies.

Since moving here almost six years ago, there has never been  a time where I didn't feel blessed to be living here.  Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew was quoted as saying in the book Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going:

 “My definition of a Singaporean, which will make us different from any others, is that we accept that whoever joins us is a part of us. And that’s an American concept. You can keep your name, Brzezinski, Berlusconi, whatever it is, you have come, join me, you are American. We need talent. We accept them. That must be our defining attribute.”

I can never be thankful enough for a place and people who took Kingsley and I in,  and where we have never felt discriminated against based on our skin colour or nationality. Singapore has become our second home and we feel like we are part of the society rather than just visiting strangers. 

I believe this was no coincidence. The tolerance and acceptance which Mr. Lee promoted and built this country upon is what made it possible.

For these reasons and many more, I feel very honored to have the chance to experience and live in Mr Lee’s modern Singapore.  Majulah Singapura!

View from out the study window of the jets flying by. 

SG50 Fly by cropped from Lynn Wood on Vimeo.