Tag Archives: well travelled

Cambodia Run-Cation: Day 3

Monday (7th Dec)

Before the year comes to a close, here’s day 3 of the Cambodia run-cation! Never too late to complete a post!


Monday was our last full day in Cambodia. We did not want to waste a minute of it and so, we seized the day (literally). We went all out by signing up for a 10 hour tour of Angkor Wat. WHAT?!

Special thanks to Agnes and Sue for all the arrangements. I didn’t know what I signed up for. All of us just paid and we were guaranteed a full tour of Angkor Wat.


 

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We were up by 8am. Had our breakfast (with loads of coffee) at the hotel and boarded the mini bus that was waiting for us.

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These guys. Hilarious.

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The journey was filled with laughter, loud chatter and one too many “wefies”.

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We stopped at the ticket booth to purchase our tickets and had our photo printed on those tickets! Pretty cool! We had to use our passes to enter the temples.IMG_0720

First Stop: Bayon Temple (within Angkor Thom)

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We were given about 1 hour to walk around Bayon Temple and to take as many pictures as we please.FullSizeRender(2)

I had to use the bathroom before entering the temple so the rest went ahead. I was left to explore Bayon Temple on my own!

IMG_0732 IMG_0647Bayon Temple was not very big with rubble marking its rather square perimeter. There were huge chunks of stones everywhere and one must be careful not to slip. The stones had been weathered and some of them were covered in moss.IMG_0653

I entered through the side where there was no one in sight. After climbing up some steep stairs, going through tight doors and dark alleys, I came to a quiet opening in the middle of the temple. It was so fun, I think I had an Indiana Jones moment.IMG_0654

Took a few self-timed shots!FullSizeRender(1)

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Peek-A-BOO!  FullSizeRender_2(1)IMG_0657

Second Stop: Ta Prohm

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After 1 hour, we met up, boarded the mini bus and headed to our second stop!

It was quite a distance away. But it was okay because that meant we could cool off a little longer in the air conditioned mini bus!FullSizeRender_1

Ta Prohm was where Tomb Raider was filmed! It was huge, much bigger than Bayon Temple. It also had a lot more character to it.IMG_0800

From the main gate to the temple, it was a good 5 minute walk with thick trees lining the wide sandy path.IMG_0664 IMG_0674 FullSizeRender FullSizeRender_3 FullSizeRender_2 FullSizeRender(3)

Obligatory JUMP SHOT before leaving the place!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetHad to cool off with JUICE! Mango + Watermelon + Dragon Fruit

Third Stop: LUNCH!

It wasn’t a lot of walking but I was tired after just visiting 2 temples. I was probably feeling the fatigue from the race the day before. Plus, the sun was scorching hot! But thankfully, the air was dry. So, you don’t feel icky and sticky like in KL.

Being tourists, the mini bus dropped us off at a touristy restaurant that served touristy food for touristy prices!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI had the same thing, BEEF LOKLAK! SO GOOD!

Fourth Stop: Angkor Wat

IMG_0797This was the REAL DEAL! What I had been wanting to see (Okay, not really. I didn’t know what to expect)!

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IT. WAS. MASSIVE!

I stood in awe at the foot of the temple. It took me a moment to soak in my surroundings and to try to grasps whatever I saw before my eyes.

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At my finger tips.IMG_0717IMG_0716The entrance.IMG_0723The picture-perfect-spot where you can capture all 5 peaks and the reflection of the temple on the water.

It was an even longer walk from the main gate to the temple. And this time, the path was not lined with thick trees that covered everything in gloomy shadows. We were directly under the afternoon sun with its rays piercing through our skin. IT WAS HOT! I was feeling a little exhausted but I was excited to explore the place.

IMG_0803#SoMUCHCULTURE! 

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Climbing up the steep flight of stairs to reach the highest point of the temple. You had to be in long pants to enter!

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The view from up there was breath taking!

We spent a good 2 hours at Angkor Wat! It was so big, we needed every minute of the 2 hours to explore the place. By then, everyone was really feeling the heat. We went across the road for ice cold coconut water and beer (not for me)! SO REFRESHING!

Fifth Stop: Bakheng Temple

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It was about 3:45pm and we had one last stop at Bakheng Temple to watch the sunset.

The rest decided to call it a day and ditched the tour by riding Tuk Tuks back to the hotel! I was tempted to hop on the Tuk Tuk to head back to the hotel but decided against it. I didn’t come all the way here to walk this much only to give up at the end! IMG_0790

THE TOUR MUST GO ON! #moumantai ! So, the 3 of us (Agnes, Amanda and myself) stayed back for the rest of the tour.IMG_0786

The thing about Bakheng Temple is that there is a limit of 300 people. So even though the sunset was not until about 5:45pm, we had to go a little earlier to avoid the queue.

It was a 10-15 minute hike up to Bakheng Temple. We entered at around 4:15pm. We had loads of time to kill. Thankfully, we had our powerbanks and 4G connection!

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We waited until 5:45-6pm for the sunset. It was nice, nothing special but the view from up there was amazing!

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When we came down from the temple, there were about 100 people queuing to get in! PHEW!

It was a long day. We hopped on the mini bus and headed back to our hotel.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWithout much rest, we had to get ready to head out for dinner! Had to stop for juice for one dollarrrrrrr!

FullSizeRender(4)Authentic Mexican dinner courtesy of Tom, Dick and Harry.IMG_0805

Full body massage to end the day (FINALLY!).


So, that’s day 3 and also the end of my Cambodia run-cation! It was my first overseas run-cation and it was an AWESOME one! So many good memories and I had a lot of fun with the MMT gang. Once again, special thanks to the crew of Tom, Dick and Harry.

Thank you for topping off the year 2015 with a fan-fricken-tastic run-cation. It was a BLAST! Great ending to a good year. Love ya’ll.

Looking forward to 2016! 🙂

xoxo

The Grand Canyon: Part II: Sunrise

The alarm buzzed at 4.30am. It was way too early for me or any other normal human being for that matter. It was -10 degrees C outside and the bed seemed like the strongest magnet. The only thing that managed to pull me out of bed was that image of the sun rising before the Canyon. And I knew that I had to see it with my own eyes.

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We left our lodge at 5.15am. We had already decided the night before to head to Hopi Point, one of the two best places to catch the sunrise (the other is Yaki point). Even though we had a car, we had to use their shuttle services as cars were only allowed up to a certain point.

The problem was that while we knew the shuttle bus comes every 15 minutes, we didn’t know how long it would take to get to Hopi Point. So, we had to catch the earliest bus in order to get there before 6.46am (time of sunrise).

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We wasted quite a bit of time looking for the bus stop (there was nobody around, perhaps it was too early).

Finally, after quite a bit of walking, I saw a flickering light in the distance, about 1KM away. I jumped and started running towards it, before fully processing what I had seen. As I approached the light, true enough, it was the bus! I started sprinting because it was already close to 6am. I didn’t come all the way to miss the sunrise. When I made it to the door of the bus, it closed before me but I managed to wave frantically at the driver (my parents thanked me for my legs -Haha!). He was a nice man who was very welcoming. My family was not even within sight at that time but he waited patiently. Luckily, there was only one other couple on the bus. I wouldn’t want a bus load of death stares (for holding them up) that early in the morning.

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The bus ride lasted 10 minutes. We got off at Hopi Point. It was pitched black and there was no one in sight. The lady at the lobby was right about how you would see 12 people during sunrise and 1,200 people during sunset.

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Waiting impatiently.

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The Canyon’s depth, only one can imagine.

The wind was howling and there was no windshield. The thought of having to wait exactly 36 minutes for the sun to rise sent chills down my spine, literally. The bitter, bone-piercing cold was almost unbearable. I couldn’t feel my fingers or my toes.

I killed time and kept warm by doing multiple sets of jump squats, jump lunges and mini sprints up and down along the canyon edge. It worked though, for awhile.

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Thankfully at 6.46am sharp, the sun peeked over the horizon.

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I watched as the fiery ball of flame rose slowly, lighting up the dull morning sky. *Cue The Lion King’s theme song* BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

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With each passing minute, the colours of the Canyon wall changed from rocky-brown to a harmonious combination of red, yellow and orange. The sight of the Canyon grew more vivid as streaks of light continued to illuminate every corner of the Canyon wall.

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Sunrise jumpshot!

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It was so beautiful. I was so taken by the sunrise that the cold didn’t bother me anymore. We waited a little longer for the sun to climb higher into the sky. As the grey sky began to fade, the blue sky took over slowly, glazed with hues of red and orange.

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Excuse me while I run to keep warm.

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After shivering in the cold for over an hour, we were famished. We fueled up at Bright Angel Lodge before driving back to Yavapai Lodge.

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Buttermilk pancakes!

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Protein!

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And more protein!

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Somewhere along Bright Angel Trail.

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The stance.

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The jump! Truly the BEST birthday gift that nature had to offer. Everything else from here would be “MEHHHHHHHHH!”. This should make everyone’s bucket list.

With every sunrise comes a SUNSET

NEXT UP!

…..wait for it….

The Grand Canyon: Part I: Getting there and Yavapai Lodge

After partying up in Vegas, we left to seek the great outdoors – the Grand Canyon.

There are only 3 different ways to see the Grand Canyon:

  1. By helicopter.
  2. By tour bus.
  3. Drive. (Self)

The helicopter ride is an expensive but quick way to see the Grand Canyon. It only takes a few hours of your day, but you do miss the sunrise and the sunset. However, you get to see the Grand Canyon with a bird’s-eye view.

Unless you’re pressed for time, I wouldn’t recommend the bus ride from Las Vegas. Going to and fro would take a total of 12 hours and again, you miss both the sunrise and the sunset.

So, we decided to drive and spend 3 days there to fully soak in the beauty of the Grand Canyon.

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We set out on our journey immediately after checking out of the Bellagio, Las Vegas – to make sure we arrived before night fall.

After six tiring, butt-aching hours, we finally made it to Yavapai Lodge. We only made two stops in-between: one for coffee at Starbucks and the other for my birthday lunch.

FYI: If you ever plan to drive and stay at the Grand Canyon, the park fee (for driving your car in) is 25USD, valid for 7 days.

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Birthday meal at Cracker Barrel.

10009280_10152352063201388_393042486_nFarm fresh southern food.

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Oh, we also stopped for this jump shot with a view.

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Yavapai Lodge is located along one of the many lookout points along the south rim. It is walking distance (0.5 miles) from the lodge to the canyon edge. It is the largest lodge at the canyon with over 198 rooms scattered within the area (rooms are single or double storey buildings) and within convenient walking distance from other village services (the grocer, Chase Bank, the Canyon Village Marketplace and the post office).

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They are slightly more expensive (about 200 ++ USD a night) but we had a forest view which was definitely worth it.

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Our room was 10 minutes (on foot) from the main building which housed the reception, canteen and the gift shop.

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Our ride and our crib.

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I love the room, so homey and warm. It was very decent with two triple sheeted queen sized beds, heater (A MUST!), tv and a refrigerator.

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Toilets are the first thing I check whenever staying out. They have to be clean.

After checking in, we managed to catch the last meal at the Canyon Café (closes at 8pm). If you are feeling hungry after 8pm, you can drive to Bright Angel Lodge which is about 5 minutes away to catch a quick meal. They close at 10pm.

We collected some maps and got some handy tips from the lady at the lobby.

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It was below 10 degrees C outside and the temperature continued to drop throughout the night. We had a very comforting chicken dinner before heading to bed early.

Next post: The Sunrise and Sunset!

Hoover Dam Tour

Wednesday (12th March 2014):

And so the usual cycle – get up, pack, breakfast – repeated itself.

We gathered at the same meeting point to board the tour bus to the Hoover Dam. Instead of going via the highway, the guide took us through Boulder Dam City just to give us a glimpse of the quaint little town. The hotels there are named after the hotels that are on The Strip, which I thought was pretty interesting! This town is relatively quiet with lush greenery, very different from the other parts of Vegas.

The bus took us to the top of the Hoover Dam where we got down. The foot of the dam was where we did the Canyon Float Tour. We were then taken into the dam……135 ft down the canyon.

History of the Hoover Dam:

*a little wordy but do give it a read*

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View of the Hoover Dam from Nevada.

The Colorado River had the potential to sustain life and bring prosperity to communities. However, without the dam, it was extremely limited and was a constant ongoing battle against nature.

In 1905, torrential spring rains had caused the Colorado River to flood. Nearby settlements (Imperial Valley) were flooded for over two years, destroying many homes and lives. With the continuous battle between bouts of droughts and floods, the Hoover Dam was built in order to tame the Colorado River so that the surrounding settlement and agriculture could continue to flourish.

In 1928, a bill on damming the Colorado River and diverting the water to California was passed by congress after failing three times. In 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed the authorization of the construction project which was the largest government contract awarded at that time.

Soon, a massive concrete mass began to rise from the noise and dust. 5000 men worked on the Hoover Dam and most of them were housed in Boulder Dam City which was built in the desert solely for this purpose.

Before concrete for the dam could be poured, the Colorado River had to be rerouted. Four tunnels, each between 3500-4300 feet long, were blasted and drilled through the canyon wall. Fun Fact: 96,000 gallons of water flow through these tunnels each second! The tunnels measured 56 feet in diameter with 3 feet of concrete along the sides. 19 months and nearly 600,000 tons of concrete later, the diversion tunnel was completed.

3 dams: The Upper Cofferdam, Lower Cofferdam and Rock Barrier were built so that nearly 1 mile of riverbed could be kept dry for the building of the Hoover Dam. Once the area was dry, 135 feet deep of silt, mud, rock and sand had to be excavated to expose the bedrock where it would support the dam.

Railroads, roads, tunnels and the world’s most extensive cableway system were among the many features that had to be built at the dam site in order to ensure success in the building of the dam.

In 1935, the project was finally completed, 2 years ahead of schedule. The Hoover dam has since transformed the desert into productive farmland, supporting thriving communities around the area.

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The 17 turbines that spin to generate electricity.

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Dam facts.

Considering the technology and resources at that time, the building of this dam is pretty damn amazing!

Fun Fact: The dam can last for at least 2000 years.

If you were wondering, I was taking notes throughout the tour.

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View of the Hoover Dam from Arizona.

After the tour, we were able to walk across the dam.

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The Mike O’ callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge!

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The Hoover Dam.

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The dam is right in the middle of two states: Nevada and Arizona.

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So, I can now say that I’ve walked all the way from Nevada to Arizona! Pretty cool huh!

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Lake Mead!

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We met at the parking lot where our tour bus was waiting for us.

Fun Fact: it was more expensive to build the parking lot than it was to complete the whole dam!

As we had a bit more time on our hands, the guide drove us to a point where we could walk across the Mike O’callaghan – Pat Tillman memorial bridge!

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1905 feet long! I ran all the way across and back! Phew!

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Jump shot!

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Feet First!

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We stopped by at a park on our way back to have our lunch. Spinach tortilla, mini cup of pasta, apple, cookie and crisps!

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The founder of DDI wanted to have his lunch with us. Classy.

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At night, we were scheduled to catch the “O” show, Cirque Du Soleil! It was an amazing production. “Amazing” is an understatement! It was nothing like I’ve ever seen before. Definitely a must watch if you’re in Vegas!

The cast, the crew, the costumes, the coordination, the timing, the set, the music, the backdrop, the props, the performance, the dancing, the balance……were just PERFECT!

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We had dinner and gelato at the Gelato Cafe at The Bellagio after the show. The best way to end this fun-filled day!

Next up: The Grand Canyon

Thanks for tuning in. Now, get off your computer and go for a run!

Canyon Float

Tuesday (11th March 2014):

We had a list of tours to choose from and we settled for the Canyon Float and the Hoover Dam tour.

First up: The Canyon Float!

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Mini Ketchup and Tabasco.

After a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, BACON, pork sausages, croissants, muffins, pastries and the like, we rushed to the meeting point where the tour bus was at.

The drive to the Hoover Dam, where we will be hopping on to the raft at the foot of the dam, took roughly 30 minutes. Along the way, we passed Bolder Dam City which is the only town in the state of Nevada where gambling is not allowed. The town was developed back in the 1930s for the workers who were building the dam.

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The area where we boarded the raft was within a restricted area assigned by the government since 9/11. We had to pass through strict security checks before we could enter. The tour guide said that we were lucky enough to be able to go on this tour because we wouldn’t have been able to if we were on our own. Only one company is allowed to bring visitors into this restricted area.

It was a long and winding road down to the foot of the dam.

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Two rafts, each with a capacity of 60 people, were waiting for us.

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Our tour guide and driver of the motorised raft that day was Jerry. He looked like a typical ol’ grandpa with a good sense of humour. After briefing us on some safety raft rules which were nothing more than making sure that we didn’t fall off the raft, we were off to cruise down the Colorado River.

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Before that, Jerry steered nearer towards the dam so that we could take our DAM pictures (HAAAAA!). He also explained the many different parts of the dam and how the water flowed to generate electricity.

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The Colorado River within the Black canyon is located at the state line between Nevada and Arizona. From the picture, the right side would be the state of Nevada and the left would be the state of Arizona. Black volcanic rocks are found throughout the area, hence the name Black Canyon.

 

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As we cruised along the Colorado River, Jerry shared many interesting facts about the Black Canyon and pointed out some wildlife/livestock that were unique to the canyon. We were asked to spot the Bighorn sheep which is the state animal of Nevada. They are usually seen hopping up the slopes and edges of the canyon and grazing on the scarce vegetation. They are so good at what they do that they can even out run mountain lions and coyotes. Sadly, we didn’t manage to spot any of them.

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There are several hot springs along the Nevada side of the canyon. He brought us to one of them where the hot spring water was flowing out from a rock (above picture). He explained that the water from the hot spring flows through magma beneath the surface of the Earth, causing temperatures to reach about 120 degrees F whereas the rest of the Colorado River is constantly at 52 degrees F.

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We stopped at one of the popular rest stops within the canyon to savour our lunch that was packed in cooler bags.

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We hiked to a spot where we had the best view (almost) of the canyon.

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Wrap, crisps, cookies, apple and a bottle of ice cold water!

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We settled down, making sure we were not near any holes or burrows for they may house poisonous snakes or lizards.

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Honestly, with a view like that, it was one of the best lunches I’ve had……EVER!

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That rock sitting on the edge is known as the “Dangerous Rock”, not knowing when it will eventually roll down to hit something or someone. 1794515_10152337484311388_985546358_nAfter lunch, we continued on for about 1 mile. We passed through the last rapids of the canyon known as the Ring Bull Rapids before the Canyon ride came to an end.

1960025_10152337484226388_1074093331_nI was very satisfied with the tour. Definitely one of the best tours that I’ve been on!

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Came back to the hotel and rested for a bit before deciding to put in an evening run along The Strip! All the way from Mandalay Bay to the Stratosphere tower! It was pretty tough maneuvering through the crowd. Still, it was an awesome experience!

Your turn to move, move, MOVE IT!