Friday, June 27, 2008

Beautiful Sunsets

Our Honeymoon table!

Watching the sun go down from our villa

Watching the sun go down from the fishing boat

Watching the sun go down from the beach

A sideways look at Erin and her great catch

Watching the sun go down over this paradise has been one of our favorite moments of every day. We have gotten to enjoy these beautiful sunsets from our water villa, our Honeymoon table, the fishing boat, the beach, the pool ... and each one is just as unique as it is beautiful. The sunsets are perfect reminders of how blessed the two of us are, not just to be in paradise, but to be starting the rest of our lives together. Thought you might enjoy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Diving Deep

Erin and her new friend at the Singapore Zoo

Our breakfast company

A look inside our Ocean Villa

Dan and Erin at the dinner table

A sea turtle's eye view of our Ocean Villa

Dan and Erin just dove down to 100 feet!!! We had our last scuba experience for this trip, and it was a great one. We got up close and personal to an enormous sea turtle (definitely Erin's highlight) and saw a gigantic moray eel. It is another world 100 feet below the ocean's surface, and one we are both very excited to explore.

Anyhow, we were finally able to include some photos of our last day in Singpore and our time here in the Maldives. It is hard to believe we will be making or long voyage back to the States on Sunday, but we are so thankful for having gotten the chance to see this fascinating part of the world.

We have hundreds of photographs that we can't wait to share. We will be sure to keep updating the blog with a few photos every day - surfing, scuba diving, sunsets, fishing - we promise it will be here. Just stay tuned.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Maldives: An Aqua-Adventure

Still, no photos. We feel bad that we can't share this incredibly beautiful place with you right now, but we promise to do so as soon as we can.

However, the last several days in the Maldives have left us with little time to be concerned with photographs or blogs. This place continues to prove itself as absolute paradise, as well as just a ton of fun! A quick rundown of our adventures since we last wrote:

- Dan was chased by a 7 foot Mako shark while surfing
- Dan and Erin both caught 3 fish during their Sunset fishing adventure
- Dan continues to catch the best waves of his life everyday!
- Dan and Erin both received their PADI Open Water Diver certification!

We have seen deadly stonefish, sea turtles, reef sharks, stingrays, and millions of colorful and unique tropical fish; but we have also both spent time relaxing to enjoy a massage (or a handful of massages for Erin) and share a few drinks and good conversation with our new Australian and European friends in the pool. It has been an adventure for sure, but our own personal butler service coupled with the fantastic level of service and expertise have made the adventure quite comfortable. At some point we will take the time to share a little bit about the characters that have made our adventure so much more enjoyable: Emre, our Turkish scuba instructor; Shareef, our Maldivian waiter; Mark and Richard, the German and British surf guides; Sunil, our Indian butler - they along with the guests from places like the Czech Republic, Brazil, Australia, Scotland, and South Africa make a truly spectacular blend of personalities and world views. I don't think you can bring yourself to this place in your imagination, so perhaps you should start planning your long holiday now :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Good-Bye Singapore, Hello Maldives

First, our apologies for not keeping everyone up to the minute on our Honeymoon Adventure. We were just too busy having the time of our lives!

Second, you'll have to forgive us again for not including photographs with this post. It is entirely due to technical difficulties that Dan will solve as soon as possible.

Third, Singapore was an incredible place. By the end of our third day (Saturday) we felt as though we had gotten our bearings in the city, but we had to admit that there must be much more to explore. From our luxurious accomodations, politically minded taxi drivers, cheesy resort islands, to zoos, bird parks, and aquariums we certainly had a fantastic time, but there is much, much more to discover about this complex little country. Perhaps our travels will bring us here again one day.

For our last day in Singapore we decided to visit the world renowned Singapore Zoo. We cannot wait for you to see the pictures. The morning at the Zoo began with hand-feeding two very playful Asian elephants, and then we enjoyed our own buffet breakfast alongside a python and a family of orangutans ... yes, orangutans! They were literally only feet away as we enjoyed our meal and their ridiculous antics. We spent the rest of our morning exploring this marvelous zoo ... we have never seen a zoo with such large, natural enclosures, nor a zoo that let you get so close to so many animals! After the zoo we went back to the Ritz to get cleaned up and relax before heading to the airport to catch our flight to the Maldives!

Fourth, a quick comparison between Singapore and the Maldives. Singapore is an incredibly urban and cosmopolitan affair. Expensive, clean, accomodating. Everything is in English, but the only hints at the British colonial rule of the first part of last century is in the few architectural remnants mixed into the completely modernized city. There was construction everywhere. They seem to want to attract all of the world's big players ... within eyesight of our hotel there were both a Las Vegas style casino and a Disney World Resort being built. It lies at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, the farthest point south on the Asian continent, and just barely above the equator. It is a steamy place, but you never find yourself too far from the comfort (or discomfort) of a shopping mall and air conditioning. Now the Maldives are also a steamy place, and lie just north of the equator in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The architecture here however, is palm frond roofs and open-air. It is a small country made of up probably thousands of little islands, or atolls. It is absolutely breathtaking! Many of the islands hold just one resort (like ours) and are all surrounded by crystal clear water and coral reefs teeming with life. It is, however, a very conservative place. A muslim country where the only drinking or partying to be done is in the privacy of your resort island. It is as though two very different worlds exist at once: one for the tourist and one for the Maldivian.

Both Singapore and the Maldives are odd places. The native people hold their own values and belief systems, but believe that economic prosperity will only come if they allow their visitors to hold their own separate values and beliefs. We were warned before getting off the plane in Singapore that carrying any kind of illicit drug would be grounds for the death penalty and littering or disobeying any of Singapore's thousands of laws could result in very harsh punishment (read: caning). In the Maldives the customs form informed us that carrying any materials contrary to Islam was strictly forbidden: we had to ask each other if we should be concerned about the Bible in our bag. That being said, upon arrival in both places we were only received with open arms and huge smiles. The kindness, and genuine good nature of the people who we have come to call friends is a breath of fresh air, and as usual, we come to wish that people back home in the States would treat others in this way. Anyway, a good reminder of the power of a smile and a few kind words.

Fifth, and finally ... the Maldives. What a magnificent place! The pictures will not do this place justice but they will do a far better job than anything we can say. Our royal treatment in Singapore does not even compare, and our house built over the crystal clear lagoon might have the best view in the world. From the moment the boat picks you up at the airport (Dan was stoked right away) to the absolutely endless array of activities and adventures that we have already enjoyed, this place only gets better each day. Dan has already surfed the best waves of his life in 80 degree water, Erin went scuba diving for the first time, and we've only been here three days. We can't wait to send pictures, and promise to do so ASAP. In the meantime, close your eyes, feel the cool Indian Ocean breeze; see the various shades of blue and green that seem to float through the clear, warm water; and listen to the sounds of the perfect waves crashing on the distant reef ... you're almost here ... almost :)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Singapore: Day 2

A sideways look at Erin and the world's tallest man-made waterfall

A Cassuary! What a crazy lookin' bird

SeaWeed or SeaHorse?! Underwater World Singapore

The Southern tip of mainland Asia

The cable car ride back into the city!

Day Two got off to a great start as we enjoyed a late buffet breakfast downstairs at the Ritz. After Breakfast we hopped in a cab and were going to explore the resort island of Sentosa until our cab driver suggested we visit the Jurong Bird Park first. As frequent world travelers we have learned to heed the locals' advice - so it was off to the Bird Park.

The Jurong Bird Park was incredible! As soon as we walked into the park we witnessed beautiful tropical birds all around us, and stepped right into a great show highlighting some very talented basketball playing macaws, great hornbills, pelicans, vultures, and more! The Bird Park is also home to the world's largest aviary and tallest man-made waterfall. We spent a few hours exploring the park, and finished just as the heat of the day was arriving.

From the Bird Park we jumped back into a taxi and headed out to Sentosa Island. First stop: the Underwater World. What a great aquarium. Even though both of us have been to one of the world's best aquariums in Atlanta, Georgia it was still a cool adventure to get up close to some of Southeast Asia's marine life. One of the highlights was the pink dolphin show - we both had seen pink river dolphins in South America, but had never seen pink saltwater dolphins.

Sentosa Island is full of attractions, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Singapore, so after the Dolphin Show we headed for the Street Luge ... 3 times down the track and up the lift! We both had so much fun, but after the long day in the sun, and the adrenaline rush, we stopped to share a pizza, and then jumped on our glass-bottom cable car back to the city. We had big plans for the night, but as soon as we landed in the bed at the Ritz our day was done.

Day Two was wonderful! We can't wait for our third and final day ... we think we heard something about 'Breakfast with the Orangutans'!?!? Check in with us for stories of our next adventure.

Singapore: Day 1

The view of Singapore from our hotel room.
The Merlion! Half mermaid, half lion!

What a wonderful start to our honeymoon! Our royal treatment here in Southeast Asia began as soon as we set foot off the plane at Changi Airport. We were picked up at the gate and shuttled to a very comfortable lounge where we waited for our bags in massage chairs. Once our bags arrived we were taken out to meet our driver, Michael, and hopped in the Mercedes for our ride to the Ritz-Carlton. We never waited in a single line, or had to find our way through customs! We found out that a popular Taiwanese boy band, 'Lollipop', was on our plane but we don't think they even got the treatment we received.

As it turned out, that was just the beginning. We have been absolutely spoiled by the friendly and helpful staff at the Ritz! Every staff member greets us with a smile and "Hello/Good Morning/Good Evening Mr. and Mrs. Kinzer."

Once we got settled in, and over the initial shock of being in such lavish surroundings, we decided to set out and explore the city of Singapore (our new friends at the Ritz had plenty of suggestions as well as highlighted maps of the city). We walked through the famous shopping district of Orchard Road, visited the Raffles Hotel, paid homage to the Merlion, and generally got our bearings in the city. Singaporeans and the frequent visitors of the city must love to shop! We stayed out of the Gucci, Prada, and Armani stores, but they were everywhere. So much shopping to do, so little money :)

We took the Metro back towards the hotel, cleaned up (it's pretty hot and sticky down on the Equator), and grabbed a taxi to the world's only "Night Safari". It is one of Singapore's most popular attractions and for wildlife lovers like Dan it was a 'must see'. We had a great experience exploring the wildlife park in the dark, surrounded by rhinos, lions, elephants, bats, and more. After our long 19 hour voyage to Singapore, however, we were beat, and couldn't even stay awake for the cab ride back to the Ritz.

And there went Day One of our Honeymoon! We can tell that Singapore will be a fascinating place to explore for the next few days. Please check back for more stories about our adventures in Singapore!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Los Angeles

Dan and Tim Kinzer
Malibu, CA

Dan's little brother Tim graduated from Harvard-Westlake School on Friday! Way to go Tim! We are so proud of him ... he's now officially a USC Trojan, and Dan's 'Best Man'. Dan's family has certainly been busy celebrating this exciting season of their lives.

We have enjoyed our few days in LA with the family before officially heading out on our honeymoon. After a hectic week of moving and packing back in Pensacola this month of vacation will be appreciated even more. Singapore and the Maldives will be such an adventure, and we hope you'll check in to see photos and read updates from true paradise.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Thousand Words: May 2008

A Thousand Words: May 2008
Dan and Erin's Wedding Slideshow
Thank you Patsy Brown!
Scroll down to 'Erin and Dan are married' to watch it