“We've been on this huge honeymoon trip for about two weeks now.  We are traveling all throughout Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Tahiti, and Hawaii.  My mom insisted that I keep her updated as we go and I turned that into a blog.”   

With this simple introduction I entered the world of Casey and Dan as they trip the light fantastic on a honeymoon set to last longer than some marriages! Though the happy couple is only halfway through this trip of a lifetime, Casey Howell, daughter of Ting and Jeff Howell, grew up here on the island, attended the International School (now closed) and left to study nursing in the states. She and Dan Garvey, a software engineer, met on e-harmony three years ago and were married on April 2 of this year. The tall, outgoing and highly intelligent girl has clearly fulfilled all our expectations and is enjoying success in both career and love life. Here are some excerpts from her rather loquacious blog, full of fun, love and philosophy. Enjoy the read. ~ Lisa Burnett, former teacher of Casey.


Right after we got engaged, we decided we needed to save everything possible so that we could take a 72 day honeymoon.  I realize that is excessively long, and in that, excessively expensive.  We aren’t talking about backpacking and camping.  We are talking about cruise ships and fancy dinners.


During that time when you don’t have anything–by choice– you suddenly realize what you really need to be happy.  You realize that you don’t necessarily need to have a steak every night of the week.  You realize that you don’t need to buy every video game that has ever been made for every console.  Suddenly, you begin to learn how to have fun sitting across from each other with grocery-store-bought-cocktails and Red Baron pizza.  Date night becomes less of an evening of gifts and service, and more an evening of quality time and love.  The changes in your relationship are profound.  You begin to need nothing more than each other.


Learning how to be happy without the assistance of money is one thing, but the mere act of undertaking such a huge project with so many sacrifices is also a monumental task and an incredible bonding experience.  We have seen each other make the hard choices and we have been supportive when it got really hard.  Most importantly, I now know what my partner is made of. I know what he can do and how determined he can be.  I know how much he values me and how much he is willing to put my needs first.  I know how much he can and will sacrifice for something that we have chosen to do together.


As cheesy as it is, I almost feel like we have gone through the great depression together.  I have met so many amazing couples who have gone through something incredibly hard together who have created this unbreakable bond of understanding with each other.  That is what I feel like we have done here together in the last year.


Now, on a realistic note– I am aware that saving everything you have to go on an opulent honeymoon is absolutely nothing like going through the great depression!  I am aware that I am being dramatic!  But I am also aware of how it really feels to want for something and to have someone by your side who wants for the exact same things.  I know what it feels like to have a partner– the kind who you can count on to have your back in any situation.  The kind that you need in your life.  The kind that I get to marry.


I always considered myself an “Ice Princess” before I met my love.  It seemed like my heart was made of ice, or perhaps entirely missing.  I always seemed to be on the defensive, just a little introverted, and very much an observer of the interactions of others.  I never cried at sad things, I was never bothered for more than a few minutes by a death at work, or a terminal diagnosis.  I was a cold, hard, nursing machine.  I gave the patients their due tender loving care, and then I got off my shift and never looked back.


Then I met the love of my life and suddenly, I was crying at the drop of a hat.  I could barely make it through a hallmark commercial.  Every patient that I told sad news to turned into a cry-together-and-hold-hands moment.   I made friends with my sister and now feel like I truly have a sister for the first time.  I started talking to my parents more and thinking of them more often.  I don’t really know who this new person is, but she is far from an Ice Princess.


It is never particularly easy for me to work with another person.  Part of the reason that nursing is so perfect for me is because while you rely on others for the occasional helping hand, you are essentially on your own schedule.  I was that student who competed the entire class worth of work in the first week so I could be lazy for the rest of the class.  I would get up at 4am to do my assignments on the weekends in college, and then knock off by lunch, everything signed and sealed.


Let’s just say that my fiancé is not like that.  He hates doing anything before it must be done.  I am not even sure it crosses his mind until the deadline is looming and then he will consider doing it. 


We are quite the pair!  We have somehow, miraculously, learned how to make these two very different approaches to life work perfectly.  Our secret? Lists!


Lists have made the procrastinator and the planner work together perfectly. We have the list for the honeymoon, the list for the wedding, and the list for the move.  For the long-term items we held monthly meetings over mixed drinks and pizza to re-evaluate the next month’s list items and assign them to each other.   We also check in on the progress of the last month’s items.  It seems ridiculous to run your relationship like a business, but it is the business side of running our lives that we are looking at.  We are discussing budgets, chores, assigning responsibilities, setting priorities, and selecting options. I don’t feel the need to ask about progress because I know that on the next designated meeting I will get all the answers I crave. 


It is so incredibly important to be able to work together in life.  Marriage can be the best partnership you ever experience, if you choose to learn how to work with your partner.  You need to utilize everyone’s strengths and not fight against personality traits.  You will never be able to change the other person, so if you are trying, you are going to be very disappointed.  I love my procrastinator more than life itself and I cannot wait to see how ‘Our Life, INC’ does in the next quarter.


I do feel married! I’ve been told that modern couples are doing it all wrong.  They are living together and then they end up not getting married because they are of the opinion that “it is just a piece of paper.”  I am not going to lie, I didn’t think it would feel different.  I thought we already has this relationship thing sorted out.  We were living together, sharing our lives and responsibilities, sharing our entire worlds.  I was pretty sure that we were already as committed as we could possibly be, and that the actual marriage license was just going to be a piece of paper.


Let me tell you how wrong I was.  It does feel different–really, really different.  I feel this sudden sense of calm and perfect harmony.  I suddenly feel like we aren’t two people living as one, but that our souls have finally completed the fusing that they have been working on all this time.


He looks at me differently.  His touch feels different.  It all feels whole, and perfect, and simple.  It feels like it was meant to be that way from the beginning, but without having done it, I would never have known what I was missing.


There was so much love and support from our families during the weeks leading up to the wedding.  On the day of the event they were even more perfect.  There was so much love being pumped into us that day that it is no wonder our love bubble got out of control.


There are some small pieces that really stuck in my mind:  Our families and best friends smiling, laughing, and beaming as they were part of our day.  It meant so much to have everyone there. It is rare that you can have 100 people in your corner, all rooting for you and cheering you on during such a huge moment in your life.  I am not used that being so surrounded, but it was exactly what I wanted that day!


My husband has literally made me the happiest girl in the entire world.  It has been 67 hours of wedded bliss, and we are preparing to go on the trip of a lifetime.  Our trip is going to mold our relationship, change our interactions, make us closer than we ever imagined.  We will have more time to learn about each other and more situations to learn from than most people experience in a lifetime of wedded bliss.  I cannot wait to explore every last inch of his mind, his soul, and his being.  This is where life has been leading me, and now we begin the part of our story that we write together as one.  Let’s do this, I couldn’t be more ready!  Next stop: Beijing!



Being at the Great Wall and seeing something that was such a huge part of history was pretty incredible.  There were really irregular steps.  It was done intentionally so that the armies coming to invade would miss a step, fall, and then take out all the soldiers in front of them.  Let me tell you, it almost killed a few tourists too.  We managed to wander into a deserted temple for the War Horse God.  We took lots of pictures and looked all around before we found the sign that said no photographs.  We are definitely going to be cursed by the horse god now.  This could get problematic.  The wall was incredible, and I know it speaks for itself—so here are the pictures!



We pulled into Nagasaki really early in the morning. We quickly found that they have a street trolley system that goes all over the city.  We bought a day pass and off we went! We wanted to start with the temples that outline the perimeter of the city.  I have never seen my hubby as excited as he was in Japan.  I think he was running on more adrenaline than should be safe.  He was bouncing from one building to the next, walking at a hundred miles per hour, and snapping pictures incessantly.  I think that I may have agreed to come back to Japan on another holiday to spend significant time here and explore.  I loved seeing him like that, it was incredible.

Our trip to Kagoshima was a little bit of a surprise. There is a huge and highly active volcano called Sakura Jima that is its own island just off the coast of Kagoshima. Apparently, that morning there was the 85th eruption this year so far.  There was a 150m plume of steam/smoke.  Holy moly, we could have died in our sleep!


The highlight of the trip was the visit to Ibusuki to take a sand bath.  On your way to the separate gender changing rooms you are given a cotton kimono and told to strip all the way down and bring your towel to the sand room.  Oh, and drink lots of cold green tea as you will lose two kilograms of weight in the next 10 minutes.  All this is with 18 of my new best tourist friends. While you lay there, you think, I could sit here forever.  Then at the 9 minute mark, you start identifying with pit-roasted pig and start checking the clock and wondering if it is time yet. 



The change in scenery as we arrived in Vietnam was drastic.  Gone were the huge skyscrapers and modern streets.  The drive consisted of three hours of rice farms, scooters, and nothingness.  We stopped briefly at Ho Chi Minh City for a break and then kept on trucking.  Ho Chi Minh is a cacophony of sights and sounds like you have never heard before.  It is also a very scary place to be a pedestrian because of all the wild and seemingly lawless scooter traffic!

We chose our excursions wisely on this cruise and always used ship-sponsored excursions in areas where we were unsure of our surroundings.  This was one of those places.  We decided to go see the Mekong Delta where the Mekong River meets the ocean and the lifestyle is stuck back in time.  Also, in truth, we saw the row boats and rice hats and had to get in on that. We meandered down the river marveling at the fishing boats and the fish farms while our guide told us all about the life on the delta.



This is my favorite day of the entire cruise.  I know Thailand has a reputation for all things dirty, and let me tell you, that is entirely warranted. Our main goal in Thailand was to meet the elephants!  I have only seen African elephants in the past and I didn’t realize that Asian elephants are much smaller and much more docile and easier to train.  Often an African elephant will only be able to be trained by one person, the person of the animal’s choosing.  Asian elephants are much more like family pets in the villages.   Now I know why—and I really, really want an Asian elephant. Please……..?!? They told us that the best way to learn about the animal was to ride it.  I was so incredibly excited about that philosophy. 



Singapore was the final stop on our Southeast Asia Cruise.  The first thing we noticed when we set foot into the city was that everything looked like it could be some kind of giant movie set, like the Truman Show.  There is a shape and level of interest to literally every single building. They don’t do simple and square. 


We went to the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, a building that looks like a space ship landed atop a set of skyscrapers.  At the top of this hotel there is an infinity pool that goes up against the edge.  The rest of the space ship portion is an area filled with gardens and relaxation—if you can get past the fact that there is technically nothing underneath you. The views were spectacular! 


The harbor was absolutely filled with boats as it is one of the largest in Asia. I have never really been an architecture nerd.  But the buildings in Singapore had me in awe.  Singapore has decided that they are going to save us from global warming with buildings that produce oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide.  They have two so far, one is the Cloud Forest with the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.  It was beautiful, and honestly, it was well air conditioned, which felt incredible on the 100ᴼF day!


New Zealand

New Zealand is a mecca for adventure tourism. We went caving and white water rafting in addition to exploring the cities of Auckland and Rotorua. The caves had us repelling, zip-lining in pitch black, walking on wires, and generally hanging out at the top of the huge cave. There was a strange sense of security in the cave.  It was as though we were invincible and could do anything.  I am not sure if it was because it was rock we were climbing on or if maybe it was because there was no wind—but it was the best feeling in the world to be up in the roof of that cave!


Rafting the Kaituna River was wild. The river’s real claim to fame is that it is a class 5 river (the highest you can take tourists on) and it has the highest waterfall that can be commercially rafted in the world. It is a 21 foot drop.. We went over the falls and made it back upright, though we did lose an oar that we had to go after.


After this the newlyweds did an extensive tour of Australia and are yet to go to Fiji, Tahiti and Hawaii. Check the full blog at www.adventurebeginsin2016.wordpress.com