Summer with Aly

We left New Zealand for America.  We were going as a family of 4 but we’d be returning to Thailand as a family of 3.  Well I’d be returning alone and 2 weeks later Michael and Sam would follow.  Aly would stay in America.

I’m not going to catch up to all that happened while we were in America, but here are some photos of the stuff we did with Aly this summer.

Last Day in New Zealand

Our last day in New Zealand and we had to get the caravan back about 10 hours before our flight.  Michael made arrangements for us to have dinner with the family of one of his old coworkers.  But first we had a few hours to kill so we headed to the beach.

After an afternoon at the beach we went for dinner.  We had a lovely dinner and a great visit.  I’m sad that I didn’t think to take one picture.  After dinner we were off to the airport and on our way to America – by way of Singapore, Bangkok, and Tokyo.

Glow Little Glow Worm, Glimmer, Glimmer

High on Michael’s list of things to see in New Zealand were the glow worm caves.  Not being able to take the main highway caused this to be a bit of a challenge.  But we weren’t going to be deterred from our task and set out to cover some ground.  Some really, really, beautiful ground.

We made it to the glow worms late.  Too late to go into the caves.  Michael had read about a smaller area to see glow worms.  A more secluded place.  A drive down a long dark road and a walk down a long dark path and over some long dark bridges and into a very dark cave.  We used some flashlights to find it.  And found ourselves disappointed because there were no glow worms.  Luckily, someone suggested that we might want to turn off our flash lights.  When we did there were glow worms!  Glowing in the dark.  Very cool.  I don’t have any pictures of it, because we don’t have the kind of camera that lets you take night time pictures of glow worms.

Weta Caves & Workshop

Our fourth day found us in Wellington and getting a little bit of a late start.  We had a scheduled time for our tour of the Weta Workshop and it had been arranged weeks in advance and missing out on it wasn’t an option.  You might notice how focused Michael is on the driving.  In the zone.

We were so focused on getting out of the motor park and on the high way that we might have skipped a step or two in the proper putting away the camper related stuff before you depart.

We accidentally got on the highway heading away from Weta Caves.  While we were correcting our course we noticed a guy waving us down.  Michael pulled over, rolled down the window, and was told that we were dragging our power cord.  Dragging it down the highway behind us like a tail.  Michael had to get out of the caravan, on a busy service road, gather up the cord, and stow it away.  He was pleased.  (Photos are a reenactment.  He kindly posed for me.  I knew I’d eventually blog this.)


The drive to Weta was beautiful.  Our first real view of the ocean.

We made it and we were late.  They were able to switch our time to a little later in the day so we spent some time looking around the gift shop.  Posing with props and wandering out to find some coffee.  Michael was paid the highest of compliments by one of the staff – “I mean this in the best way possible, you would make an awesome dwarf.”

After we finished at Weta it was time to hit the road again.  We were of off in search of glow worms.


New Zealand day 2 we made our way to The Shire – aka Hobbiton.  On our way we saw green, green and green.  Oh, and sheep.  Don’t know if you know, but there are sheep in New Zealand.  More sheep than people


We got to Hobbiton in time for our tour.  I was proud of us for this.  We were driving a caravan in a foreign country and trusting in a combination of GPS navigator and human navigator to get us there.  There were lots of Hobbit houses in Hobbiton and all looked like they’d be nice and cozy to live in.  If they weren’t so darn small.

We left Hobbiton – in Matamata – and drove somewhere south of Matamata on the way we saw sheep.  Newly shorn sheep.  I don’t know anything about sheep, but it seems like it isn’t so nice to take away all their warm fur at the beginning of winter.

Side note – The problem with not documenting something when it happens is that you sort of forget where you were and maybe even what you were doing.  But luckily there are pictures to document that something was done somewhere.

We also found lunch and this sign.  Which I liked enough to snap a photo.

The last thing we had to do was find a place to park our caravan for the night.  That might be a photo from where we stopped the first night.  I really don’t remember.  We stayed at several different motor parks and more than one of them was a Kiwi Motor Park.

Does 2 times make a tradition?

Chan graduated in 2013 and to celebrate we took a family vacation to Tokyo.  Chan’s choice and very conveniently someplace the whole family was keen to see.  This year Aly graduated and we celebrated with a trip to New Zealand.  Her choice and, again, somewhere the entire family wanted to see.

I did a much better job of documenting Tokyo, but I’m going to try to make up for it now.

We flew Chiang Mai to Bangkok and Bangkok to Auckland.  The picture below was taken right before Sam happened to check his inflight entertainment screen and noticed how long we were going to be in this plane.  For some reason we never thought to check how long the flight was and were surprised (and not pleasantly) to discover that Bangkok to Auckland takes 11+ hours.  Our smiles quickly faded.

11 hours later we arrived in Auckland and immediately started breaking the rules.

And found the first bit of middle earth.

We were picked up at the airport.  Given an introduction to the Caravan that we would be our home for the week and we were off.

She graduated!!

Hi.  It’s been a while and a lot has happened while I’ve been away.

Our biggest 2015 news?  SHE GRADUATED!
Academically? She definitely deserved to graduate.  But when it came to get out of bed and actually making it to class?  Well, that’s a different story.  Luckily for her it’s the school’s job to enforce their requirements and they aren’t so keen on doing that.  Go class of 2015!!




In all seriousness – I am incredibly proud of her.  This third culture kid thing we signed her up for isn’t so easy and she has just plowed on through with very little complaining.  Senior year is hard for these kids and they know it and we know it and there’s nothing we can do about it but to bravely keep putting one foot in front of the other.


Hopefully, in the next few posts, I’ll catch up on what’s going on with her and us since her graduation.

**Spoiler alert – In January she’ll start uni in Japan.