A Travellerspoint blog

Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur & Penang

Hmmmm mixed feelings on Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur I did not like very much but Penang gave Malaysia some good points. I think my problem with KL was that I had come from Singapore which was very clean, not smelly and it felt safe to walk around. It was the opposite in KL, dirty, smelly and I did not feel safe as a girl to walk around alone and for the first time on my travels I felt the need to walk with my rucksack on my front! But don't get me wrong some places in KL were really nice as was my hostel just not the area outside my hostel.

Travel from Singapore to KL went without a hitch. I went by coach (Aeroline if anyone is looking for transport) and got food, drink and films to watch which made the 5 1/2hrs pass very quickly! The hostel was nice, Reggae Mansion (thank you Jenna!) we had a big dorm room with pods and the beds were just smaller then a small double so lots of space! Fancy dress party on the night I arrived so last minute me and the girls in the room grabbed the free magazines and tape et voila a dress! Needless to say it did not stay on! I also won 30ringit towards food and drink which meant a good meal at last!

My first proper day in KL was spent walking around (rucksack on front), trying to avoid all the spitting men and holes that were in the ground I did see the old railway station and their National Hindu mosque. We had to wear massive robes to cover up for respect. It was very clean inside the mosque, not as spectacular as I thought it might be but interesting. I got lunch for 1GBP which was great, so happy I did the expensive countries first! Spent my food and drink voucher in the evening with new lovely girls in my dorm.

I signed up for a day tour today with the hostel so I think seven of us went around to locations with a guide in an AIR CONDITIONED mini van, this was probably the hottest day in Malaysia! Really good day, it felt a lot better visiting places in a big group and I got to see lots of KL. We went to -
A Chinese Temple; amazing sculptures, lanterns everywhere and what seemed to be about 10 weddings all happening at the same time?
National Hindu Mosque; the same one as the day before so I got to wear the pretty robe twice!
Little India; for photo's, very colourful streets and good fruit!
The KL art gallery; this was ok, I wouldn't go out of my way to get there though
The palace; the king was home too! We also got there in time to see the changing of the guards, couldn't go into the palace though just up to the gate.
Le Monument Nationale; which was in memory of the world wars
Batu Caves; this was my favourite place. We had lunch before climbing 272 steps to get into the caves where worships happen. art work embedded into the rocks all around.
Chocolate shop; enough said!

After the long day we all met up again to go into China town for food, the best sweet and sour I have yet had in Asia!

The following day a few of us from the day tour went into KL to find a mall which had a theme park in, we failed and could not find it anywhere! So instead we headed to the central market to have a look around at all the stools then onto the Patronus Towers to take photo's. We didn't go up them as it was expensive for what you got view wise and we had decided the KL Tower was the better option, that way we could look down on the Patronus Towers. We got to the KL tower before sunset so had really nice views as it went down.

Travelled with the same coach company to Penang so had the same nice experience of just sitting on a comfy seat! The landscape was a good distraction too, nice to look out as the country went by! To get to Penang we crossed Asia's longest bridge, another nice hostel which is always a nice thing to arrive too! Already a lot cleaner and less smelly than KL thank goodness! Spent the first day at the beach which took about an hour to get to by bus, very windy roads too which did not make me feel to great! Beautiful beach and I think the beaches only get better! Day two was spent in Georgetown, where the hostel was and it is their biggest town, wondered around for the day and went to the museum and Fort Cornwallis, the first fort of the British. I have fallen in love with sweet cake, so yummy and only 0.50ringit! Really nice day and then the rain came and stayed until about 9pm, such a heavy downpour!

So all in all I have had a good time in Malaysia but I think it was the new friends I met that helped with that! I am in no hurry to go back to KL and I have done Penang now! I think I would like to see more of Malaysia but that will not be on this trip!

Thailand next!

Posted by samanthaforeman 23:24 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Singapore

I will start by saying...I love Singapore! If you are ever getting a connecting flight through Singapore you should definitely stopover for a few days. I had heard such mixed things about the country I did not know what to expect but I was kept busy in my five days there. Singapore is so clean which is probably why I loved it so much, the MRT is really easy to use too.

My first day was spent getting my bearings, I stayed close to the Lavender station so it only took a little walk to reach the hostel. I decided to head to China Town to go to their heritage museum, along the way I found the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple which is the oldest Hindu temple in singapore, very colourful figures on the roof. Eventually found the museum, not many wanted/could help with directions, this became a pattern throughout my stay, I also found the lack of signs to tourist attractions annoying! The museum was good, I got an insight into the history of China Town with the opium use, hawkers, living conditions and of course the brothels! In the afternoon I headed over to the National Museum of Singapore but it took me about an hour to find! Along the way I came across lots of other buildings/places that were in my guide book so I didn't mind the extra walking. I found lots of churches that were the first built for different religions and CHIJMES which was the first convent . The museum was located next to/on Fort Canning Park which was built as the first botanic gardens by Raffles but failed to take off and was later relocated. After finally making it to the museum I ended up staying in there for about 4 hours, it wasn't the conventional museum and had more exhibitions and interactive rooms to explain the history. I am not sure if you normally have to pay but everything was free to go into including their headset tour of their history. All in all a really good first day!

The next day I headed out to the Vietnam Embassy to sort out my visa which I did realize you had to have! The houses where the embassy was were ridiculous,gone were the high rise flats and in their place massive mansions each with their own swimming pool! The embassy was quite far out of the city centre but was a few stops further on from the Botanical Gardens so I headed there for the rest of the day. Really pretty place as would be expected! I sat down for a while by one of the big ponds and watched a couple of black swans, whilst I was there I noticed a turtle had climbed out of the water and was having a little sunbathe! I headed to the side of the gardens with all the walks, il just seemed to walk all day long! I paid to go into their Orchard Garden which I am glad I did because the orchards were amazing! So many different ones and the VIP garden was situated inside and had all the specially grown orchards named after important visitors.

I went on the Singapore Flyer, slightly disappointed not sure if it was because it was quite cloudy but in my opinion it wasn't as good as the London Eye! I got it on offer with the Singapore River cruise, that was good! I really liked Clarke Quay, very colourful buildings, too expensive to eat there though! I saw the lion/fish fountain statue which was full of tourists everywhere! I got caught in a massive downpour too, the rain seems to arrive about the same time every day!

Didn't do much on day four, got my passport back and booked my bus ticket to KL. I also finally found the statue of Raffles situated where they believe he first set foot on Singapore. I revisited China Town to take some photo's too.

The day finally arrived...a trip to Singapore Zoo! I love the zoo and this one did not disappoint! I paid extra to see the panda's but who wouldn't! We were lucky as on our time slot both were up and about, they were a lot bigger then I was expecting! Saw their elephant show but I didn't like it very much, it felt a bit too much like a circus act. They also have 3 white tigers here which were beautiful to watch. I headed to the the Night Safari which started an hour after the main zoo finished, very strange going around a zoo in the dark! You have a 40 minute guided train tour around the animals and could walk routes to see them up close. They also put on a show but it wasn't very good, not many animals in it, it felt like 30 minutes of human time filling! But both were good, I would say the zoo was much better then the safari though.

Moving day, onto Kaula Lumpur today by coach, a very nice coach though with a meal (not so nice) and big comfy seats with films ( not the best selection)

Posted by samanthaforeman 22:26 Archived in Singapore Comments (2)

Kia ora from New Zealand

One month to explore the north and south islands of New Zealand

New Zealand has been all about activities more then learning its history (for obvious reasons). I flew into Auckland and was met by my friends sister Becky who lives in Mission Bay, I am staying with her before and after my hop on off bus. Just had the one day before I started the bus adventure which was so different from the Australia tour. With Contiki you stay with the same people the whole way but with Kiwi experience you can stay in places for as long as you like and just book yourself onto their next bus with spaces! New Zealand is beautiful, such dramatic landscape in both islands, it changes on each coast too...

So here is 24 days in brief!

Day one...Auckland to Hot water beach
We set off early to our first destination Hot Water beach which is about 2hours outside of Auckland. Once at the beach we were suppose to dig a hole in the sand but ended up borrowing ones already in place as the tide was coming in! Once you dig a hole and if you have picked a good spot the water that comes up in the sand is boiling hot! So hot that you end up scolding your feet if you are not careful. Didn't stay for long because I signed up for kayaking which I instantly regretted when we got to the location. The waves were huge! I thought it was meant to be a nice kayak to Cathedral Cove but no, it was such hard work even with being in the instructors kayak! I thought a few of us were going over quite a few times but when we made it to Cathedral Cove it was really pretty beach, cold but nice and I am glad I didn't bottle out of the activity!

Day two...Hot Water beach to Waitomo
Next stop, a town called Waitomo which didn't have much there but it had glow worm caves. I went to a cave called Riakuri to see the glow worms, this cave has spiritual Maori culture and the tour lasted for about 2 hours.

Day three...Waitomo to Rotorua
The first thing you notice about Rotorua is the smell...it is disgusting! It is the smell of sulphur as you are surrounded by geothermal activity, it is also said to be the town where most Maori's chose to live. We were taken out by a local Maori who was friends with a Finish girl called Tuuli who was on the Kiwi bus. Her friend, Jade, was lovely, so good to us. Jade took us to a Maori village which was located around geysers, we had a tour and learnt how the Maori people used the hot pools to their benefit; for cooking, washing and chores. This thermal village use to hold title to the longest name - Whakarewarewa. We visited the lake which was beautiful and then the museum which was an old Victorian bath house. After we said goodbye to Jade we headed to a Maori culture evening which was amazing! If anyone ever goes to Rotorua you should go see it. The evening starts off with a Hakka performance and then you move into the recreated village to learn old Maori games and traditions such as carving. You then have an amazing show with songs and dances before going to dinner which was so good, you don't have to tell backpackers twice at you can have seconds!

Day four/five...Rotorua to Taupo
Taupo is beautiful and we had two nights here. Before arriving in Taupo we stopped at Huka falls which means frothy water and is fast moving water which you would not want to get caught in! I headed straight to the lake for some sunbathing once we arrived in Taupo, is lake is the largest in Australasia and is big enough to fit Singapore in it. We had a bus night out which resulted in slightly sore heads the next day so it was a relaxing day of looking around e town and then watching the sunset over lake Taupo.

Day six...Taupo to River Valley
En route to River Valley we stopped in Tongario National Park for a 2 hour walk to a waterfall then carried on through to our destination via very windy roads. Once at the farmhouse location five of us went on a horse trek which was in an area where lord of the rings had been filmed close by, if you have seen the films you can imagine the view of rolling hills. The sun was slowly setting as well so it was even more beautiful!

Day seven...River Valley to Wellington
The morning was spent lazing by the river before dreading of to Wellington. We stopped on the way in a town called bulls, many of the towns shops have signs on them with the word bull, so on the police station they have 'constabull' etc! We have timed Wellington with the rugby sevens (I seem to be following the game around countries!). It is a big night in Wellington but we only had the one night there due to lack of room availability. Everyone was in fancy dress apart from us it seemed and the costumes we saw were amazing! My favourite were the snow globes, each person was a different country with plastic over them to create the globe! On e way back to the hostel we came across some young buskers who were playing instrumental versions of pop songs which had everyone dancing in the street, we stayed for about 2 hours dancing away!

Day eight...Wellington to Kaiteriteri
Today we headed over to the South Island on the ferry which took about 3 hours, pretty views from the window! Kaiteriteri was really nice and the afternoon was spent on the small beach there.

Day nine...Kaiterteri to Westport
We were able to go to Abel Tazman National Park for a quick walk in the morning before leaving. Such beautiful views on the walk just a shame we didn't have long to do it. Nothing much at Westport so we had an organised three legged pub crawl which was fun!

Day ten...Westport to Lake Mahinapua
Very rainy day today but so far we have been so lucky with the weather. It started to pour when on a walk at Cape Foulwind to see a seal colony. Fancy dress party tonight, the hostel was in the middle of nowhere so his is the entertainment Kiwi have come up with... Our theme was 'what you wanted to be when you grew up' so I went as a ballerina, not original at all but easy to do in the 3 hours we had!

Day eleven...Lake Mahinapua to Franz Josef
Franz Josef is beautiful! Snow capped mountains all around and we had clear blue skies so we were not too cold as the weather had definitely dropped. Didn't do much this day, just had a loom around the town and some lunch with the girls.

Day twelve...Franz Josef
I got to go on Franz Josef glacier today and to get up to it we had to go in a helicopter, I got to go in the front because I am small so had really good views. So happy I did this activity, the glacier was beautiful, scary because it changes so quickly so you are trusting the guide a lot. We were taken through a very small gap that was really difficult, you had to twist your body to squeeze through the ice but once through you had a tunnel to walk through which wasn't as bad! We were up there walking for about 3 hours, again if you are ever there you should definitely do this hike! Included in the price was entry to hot pools which were opposite the hostel, so nice to spend a couple of hours in the pools. There were three all at different temperatures 36', 38' and 40'.

Day thirteen...Franz Josef to Wanaka
First stop of the day was Lake Matheson which had mirror image in the water of mt Cook before headin through to Wanaka. I love Wanaka, so pretty and annoyingly I had only organised one night stay so had hardly anytime. We lazed by the lake for the afternoon and then went to the cinema in the evening but it wasn't a normal cinema it had sofas as seat and an interval where you could buy a hot cookie!

Day fourteen...Wanaka to Queenstown Days fifteen to seventeen...Queenstown
On the way to Queenstown we stopped at Puzzle World, i had been looking forward to this place not really sure why i was so excited but it did not disappoint! There was a maze, illusion room and many more things that confused and entertained you! Queenstown is the place where people on the bus stay for different lengths of time so odds were you wouldn't be with many people you had been travelling with so we had a couple of big nights here. Not sure what I was expecting with Queenstown but I did not think it was going to be so pretty, right on the water it is stunning and has botanical gardens which are also beautiful. As I passed on sky dives and bungee jumps I felt I needed to something out of my comfort zone so it was time for the canyon swing! The video dis up on Facebook to watch. It was a free fall drop of 60m above a 120m canyon! So scary and I would never do it again! Also tried a furg burger on the same day, they are massive but so good! I went on a day trip to Milford Sounds on the Sunday in Queenstown, very beautiful part of the country but a long day on the bus.

Day eighteen...Queenstown to Christchurch
Leaving Queenstown we headed for a full day of driving to Christchurch and on the way we passed mt Cook wi no clouds, perfect blue sky which was so lucky! Christchurch is so quiet, it is really sad to be there and I would have loved to have visited before the earthquakes. We only had one night there so we quickly headed out into town to see the shopping centre made from shipping containers which was really cool. We met our friend Tuuli who picked us up with her family and they drive us to a few places so we got to see a lot in one night. We drove up to a view point which looked over Christchurch and as the sun had gone all the street lamps were on, however there was a massive black patch in the middle which was where the city centre once stood. We also drove through the red zone where people had been told to leave their house and not to return because it was too dangerous. They had to leave everything they owned in the houses, it was a very spooky area.

Day nineteen...Christchurch to Kaikoura
Kaikoura is a mother small town, we went to a viewpoint where you could see tow seas either side of the coast. It was really sunny when we arrived but then the clouds rolled in and we ended up with a really cold afternoon, the fire at the hostel was even put on! So a few of us spent about 3 hours playing crds to pass the time until a pub quiz that night in the town!

Day twenty...Kaikoura
I decided to do two nights here which meant I had one full day, really glad I did this because the following day was beautiful. Me and Melissa went for a walk, went slightly wrong and didn't walk along the coastline but along the road but it was still really nice! We ended up at a seal colony and you could climb over the rocks and get within 10m of them, we saw about 5 pups there too, so cute! The walk took us about 4 hours the walk back was the hardest.

Day twenty one...Kaikoura to Wellington Day twenty two...Wellington
Picking up people from another hostel I bumped into Claire Austin, she was just starting her Kiwi bus but I was heading back over to the north that day but we had a couple of hours on the bus to catch up! Another ferry ride which went really slowly and then pulled into Wellington early evening, I stayed two nights here too because I did not get anytime on the way down. On my free day I went to te papa museum which was free entry, I ended up in the for about 4 hours and I hadn't even finished, I only left because I was hungry, so much to see in the museum, really good place to go.

Day twenty three...Wellington to Taupo
Travel day back through Taupo, stayed one night and spent my time at the lake again!

Day twenty four...Taupo to Auckland
And so my adventure is over, we pulled into Auckland in the afternoon and I made my way back to Mission Bay for my last few days before moving onto Singapore!

Posted by samanthaforeman 15:58 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Bula from Fiji!

Two weeks of eating, sleeping and sunbathing...

sunny

Bula everyone!

Well what can I say about Fiji...the word paradise comes to mind! The last two weeks were spent sunbathing, eating hit and miss food, day trips and island hopping! I arrived in Nadi in the evening and went straight to my deserted hostel which cost me a whole £7 for the night. No idea where I was which was not helped by being alone in a dorm room, mistake on the choice of hostel - note to those looking for hostels near the airport go for smugglers cove and stay away from travellers beach resort! It was clean at least but it was the worst night sleep I have had in a long time, I longed to be back in a swag in the Northern Territory...

Anyway 7am finally came around and off I went on a coach to take me to my island hopping tour called "the lazy threesome". Now had I met anyone the night before they could have explained how the tour worked, or maybe my STA agent could have? I was under the impression it was going to be similar to the Australia tour where I stayed with the same people, turns out it wasn't and the idea was you did the route of the package on your own or with others if they were starting on the same day as you. So off I went on this massive yellow boat heading towards the Yasawa Islands petrified I would miss my stop! But eventually after 3hrs and 30 minutes I made it to the first island called Naviti where I would be staying for two nights at Korovou resort.

Korovou Resort
This resort was really nice, good facilities as well. I arrived with 5 others all doing different island hopping passes and was the only British one there that night, I soon got told by one of the Australian girls how surprised she was that I was British but yet had a tan, I followed up by explaining how we all were not your English rose. Really friendly staff, and the night after an afternoon of sunbathing and swimming pool sessions, we had a bonfire on the beach with the Fiji male staff playing guitars and singing, such good voices, Simon Cowell needs to visit Fiji for hidden talent! Our second night we had a show, again from the male staff, who wore traditional fiji grass skirts to performe fiji dances, we then had to learn the Bula dance and had a limbo contest. Sleeping was very hot, the electricity gets turned off during parts of the day and from 1am-7am in the night which led to a very stuffy room. We had a massive storm one night which kept us up because the chosen roof material was tin making the rain extremely loud! On my last day before heading to my next island I had a Fiji cooking lesson. I assumed this meant we would be cooking the meal ourselves but it was more a watch the chef make it and eat it afterwards! It was a traditional Fiji meal called Kokodo which consisted of raw fish (yuck) and chopped up veg all poured into coconut milk et voila! I did try it but was very put off by the raw fish so had to hide my leftovers under my napkin, oops!

The next island was Nacula where I stayed for another two nights at Oarsmans Bay Lodge.

Oarsmans Bay Lodge
Another hour on the big yellow boat to get to this resort, I should mention to get to the islands from the big boat you had to get into smaller water taxis that went to your resort without falling into the sea, luckily they sort your luggage out for you! This resort was right on the beach so you could swim straight away, Korovou didn't really have that hence it had a pool. It was so hot so after checking in I went straight into the sea ( I know that might be difficult for some to believe) after a few minutes in the water you get fish swimming all around you which was fun! More sunbathing until it started to rain, which at first was light and refreshing but then turned into a tropical downpour, this happened a few times on this island, possibly because we were near the top of the Yasawas so got the first downpours.

My last island to hop to was Beachcomer for one night which was in a cluster of islands called the Mamanuca Islands. I took four hours to get there from the top and just for extra fun the air conditioning broke.

Beachcomber
If anyone reading this has gone to Beachcomber please let me know if it was anything like the party island it is suppose to be. I did not know this about the island but kept hearing that it was a big party island with a corn of 100+ beds. The later was correct, the party on the other hand well it just felt like when you turn up to a club too early. There were probably about 30 people there and half of theses were not in the dorm. But the dorms were like nothing I have seen, the bunk beds looked like they were a big puzzle all slotted next to each other. In total I think there were 130 beds, I was number 88! It was clean though, apart from the smelly recycled water in the toilets and the questionable food. (Luckily) I was only there for the night and had a sea spray day sailing trip for my final day before heading back to the mainland.

Sea spray trip
There fewer four of us from Beachcomber that were on this trip and no one seemed to know what we were doing, again thank you STA. This was by fear the best day on my tour, we arrived from the ferry to another island to get onto this big sailing ship which kind of looked like a posh pirate ship(ish). First stop on the trip was a visit to the island where Castaway was filmed, here we had an hour to swim, snorkell, sunbathe and take lots of photos to look as if we were stranded like Tom Hanks! Back to the boat for an amazing BBQ lunch and drinks were included all day. As soon as it was finished we stopped at a village to go to a Kava ceremony. Kava is the traditional Fiji drink which looks like muddy water and tastes like muddy water but it made my tongue and lip go numb and to think this was the tourist version! After this it was full sail back to the port to be picked up by a big boat and dropped all the way back to Nadi.

My contiki friend Hannah was a day behind me on her island hopping tour so we arrange to stay at smugglers. Really nice having her there for I think 3 days, sunbathing mostly and reviving in the pool, the staff said it was usually hot that week, which is funny when you think of all the snow in the UK! The night after Hannah had gone home, another contiki thisntime in the form of Luke showed up with a change of plan and was now at smugglers for that night which was nice to have another familiar face around. I was at the hostel for 8 days ( i couldnt bring my flight forward) and to prevent myself from getting cabin fever I booked onto two day tours, the first to South Sea Island and the second to Robinson Crusoe Island.

South Sea Island
This island is the first stop on the big yellow boat so only took 30 minutes to get there from the port so I had the whole day to relax, snorkel ( until a baby shark turned up) and have lunch with a Fiji dance show. Really pretty island but it did get hit badly by the cyclone so work was being done to get it back to its usual self.

Robinson Crusoe Isalnd
This day was so much fun, the island was in a different location off the mainland and took about 45 minutes to get there we then had another water taxi which was about the same amount of time to get to arrive at said location. Once we were there the activities did not stop! First up was a lesson in coconuts which also meant tasting the sweet water, coconut and the milk, so yummy! We saw how the food is traditionally cooked in a pit covered to keep the heat in, this is called Lovo. The male staff then walked on the hot coals, ouch! Time for lunch, another amazing spread. After we had a fire and knife dance show which was amazing, this is why people go to this island and if you have the opportunity I would visit it. It lasted for about an hour and was non stop, so good! In the afternoon we finished the trip off with a walk in their garden where the guide told us about the plants and trees and their usages before the western world influence came in. Last but not least a crab race, I picked number 19, I couldn't even see it, I think it was a fix...

Finally my last day n Fiji, as much as I loved the two weeks I am looking forward to New Zealand and the activities that await...

Posted by samanthaforeman 16:54 Archived in Fiji Comments (5)

Sydney

I became the ultimate tourist for my last three weeks in Sydney! Adam and I walked so much (especially up and down George street) which helped because we quickly learnt the layout of the city! Our first hostel was good as hostels go, it was near Paddy's Market and about a 30 minute walk to Circular Quay. The first few days were spent walking around and getting the tourist photos of the bridge and Opera house. We did the tour of the Opera House which lasted for an hour and was interesting, you got the history of the building etc, usual tour stuff! We also got a pass for three Sydney attractions. The first one we chose was the Westfield skywalk tower, which is I think 240m above sea level and amazing views right around Sydney (and a lot cheaper than the Harbour Bridge Climb!). The mistake we made with the tower was booking it for Boxing Day, the mad day of the sales, it was just a sea of people which we had to get through to get to the floor it was located on in the shopping centre! The second was the Aquarium on Darling Harbour which was really good, if you are ever there you should visit it! And the last was the Wildlife Sanctuary also on Darling Harbour but it was rubbish because we went to toronga Zoo first. So we had our first three nights on George Street and then moved to a hotel on Darling Harbour for 4 days over christmas. Amazing views, and you love hotels even more after being in hostels! Christmas eve was a hot day, so we spent it on Manly beach, it is really nice there and you get the ferry over from the Quay which goes past the bridge etc. That evening we watched fireworks out of our window which were so good and then went for our one none backpackers dinner out! Christmas day was spent with a couple of girls from Contiki tour, such a lovely day despite it being the worst weather Sydney had for 70 years...that's right thunder, lightening and rain! But we had a christmas tree and a really good christmas dinner although it wasn't turkey, Baramundi was on the menu with veg and rice.

After the four nights at the hotel we stayed with Michelle, my second cousin, in her beautiful house in Seaforth (I hope that is correct!). It is set in the hillside and the view was amazing, over the sea with Sydney in the distance. Really nice to see Michelle again and meet her husband and to be in a home! Michelle took us to Palm Beach which is where Home and away films, very windy there, i now understand why the characters look so windswept! We also saw some aboriginal sandstone artwork. The next day was spent at Toronga Zoo, best zoo I have been to, I loved it! It also had an amazing view of Sydney as it was set on a hillside. Really good bird and seal show's too! We spent all day there and then headed back to Michelles for a BBQ, aussie style! We were soon moving again, this time to Jades flat in Kiribilli for the 30th and NYE. When we got to the flat Jade was currently in LA flying home from the UK so it was strange being in her flat without her but we met her lovely flatmate Jenna. The view from their flat is the Harbour Bridge which was the perfect view for NYE fireworks which did not dissapoint us! Moved to Bondi on NYE day which was so busy and so hot! the trains were fine but we ended up waitin gclose to an hour to get onto a bus to get into the centre of town. I didn't really like Bondi but i think my first impression of it being so busy didn't help that! Whilst in Bondi we went to Watsons bay and had amazing fish and chips at dougles, if you go there have the food from the takeaway as it is cheaper then the resteraunt. The next day we did the Bondi to Coogee walk, just a casual 5k walk in the sunshine which for some reason we decided to walk back to Bondi instead of a bus so that was 10k for the day! it did mean we were hungry for our dinner that night with Jade and her boyfriend Phil who came over to Bondi. The following day was Adams last day before flying home, his flight was in teh evening which meant he got another day on the beach before leaving...

For my last week I stayed at Jade's flat which was lovely as who knows when the next time I will see will be... I went on a free Sydney tour with her flatmate Jenna which was really good and before I left I got to experience Sydney in 43', we were all slowly turning into pools of sweat!

Next stop Fiji!

Posted by samanthaforeman 18:54 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

East Coast

sunny

With the end of the trip comes the arrival of Mr Adam Camm for one sunny Christmas and NYE!

Here we go with the East Coast adventure...

Day ten, Uluru to Cairns;
Flight to Cairns today, leaving the dust behind to start the East coast part of the tour which means a new tour manager, coach driver and 25 new names and faces to learn! We had a group meal once in Cairns at a place called The Woolshed which promotes dancing on the tables, Sammy you would have loved it!

Day eleven, Cairns;
Visited the Great Barrier Reef today and yes I did go in the sea to see the fish! Very rocky boat ride out to reach the location where we spent the day. Really good set up, use of snorkels, sunbathing area, lunch and the choice of two different glass bottom boats to go on. I spent about 40 minutes in the water saw some colourful fish and thankfully no sharks! I went on both boats, one was a submarine boat so we were sitting under the water and the other a glass bottomed boat, this is when I saw the sharks! Made it back safely to shore though!

Day twelve, Cairns;
Free day today to explore Cairns, I explored the swimming pool, so nice to finally have a day of nothing! Went into the town to the lagoon, which is basically the public swimming pool but it over looked the sea, very nice setting! The evening was spent looking around the shops and the night market, Cairns had their official Christmas lights turning on ceremony, still not use to it being warm!

Day thirteen, Cairns to The Whitsundays;
Travel day to get to The Whitsundays for 2 nights and one day sailing. Reached Airlie for the boat at about 4pm and were off a little while later to our first spot to anchor for the night. Very rocky so the sickness tablets came out! Sailing was very scary, really thought we were going to tip over we were at such an angle! Tiny beds but the goon helped me sleep!

Day fourteen, The Whitsundays;
Sailed to White haven beach today, AMAZING! So pretty, pure white sand that you could use to polish jewellery sadly I could not take any home as it is a protected beach. Sting rays in the sea around the beach that you could go in with too. After the beach stop we went to Cataran Bay for those who wanted to go snorkeling, I had had my fill at the reef and glad I did not go in when lots of people came back with cut feet from the coral.

Day fifteen, The Whitsundays to a farm stay;
Finally back onto dry land and off to a cattle farm for the night. The ranch was in the middle of nowhere and run by a family who had 26,000 acres! We went on a hay wagon ride around some of the farm and met some of their cattle, all wearing cowboy hats of course! The nights entertainment in their barn was whip cracking and karaoke, the family's young daughter put us all to shame with whip cracking, she was amazing!

Day sixteen, Farm stay to Fraser Island;
Travelling day to get to Fraser Island with a lunch stop in a small town called Childers with the most friendly people ever! We were stopped about 5 times and asked our life stories, where are we from, where are we going etc. 45 minute ferry ride across to Fraser Island from Hervey Bay to arrive at our eco lodges which thankfully were not as eco as I thought they would be. We watched the sunset on the beach and saw dolphins although I did not manage to spot them!

Day seventeen, Fraser Island to Noosa;
Best day by far, first of all we had a little lie in which is always good seeing as our start times have been 6/7am on the coach leaving. We were picked up by two massive 4x4 vehicles and I got to sit up front which was so much fun! We drove about half a mile and then the road became sand and off we went on the bumpiest ride ever, so much fun though! Our first stop on our day trip on Fraser Island was Lake McKenzie for a quick dip and BBQ lunch cooked by the 4x4 tour guides. During lunch we ended up being attacked by Kookaburra's who were successful in their raid and managed to grab a couple of steaks! After lunch we went to another part of the island for a walk in the rain forest did not spot any interesting animals or insects though. Off to the next stop, Rainbow Beach and this is when we took the beach highway, yes driving on the beach! Along the way we spotted a baby Dingo which was amazing to see but would have been nicer had it not been eating a turtle! Caught a 5 minute ferry over to Noosa to then be dropped off at our hotel which had....free washing machines, so many excited people for this one fact!

Day eighteen, Noosa to Surfers Paradise;
Today was a very stressful start to the day...the alarm did not go off. The tour rule is if you miss the coach you have to make your own way to the next location, the coach was departing at 8am, we woke up at 7.55am! Luckily for us we had the morning in Noosa to get our own breakfast and were leaving the town at 10am so me and my two roommates got a taxi from the accommodation into town but did have to lug our cases around with us, the worst thing was that no one noticed we were not there! Next stop Brisbane but only for about 3 hours which was annoying, I loved it there and would have wanted at least one night. I found the lagoon with my friend Hannah so we spent the hours sunbathing among all of the Christmas things going on around us! Then onto Surfers Paradise for two night stay.

Day nineteen, Surfers Paradise;
Another free day today so I spent the morning at the pool and then the afternoon on the beach with a look around the shops. I do not think much of Surfers Paradise, looking forward to moving on...

Day twenty, Surfers Paradise to Byron Bay;
I held a Koala today and it pooed on me...lovely picture with it though! This was at Currumbin Wildlife Park, one of the few places along the East Coast that you can hold a Koala. It was a small park but really good, you got to go into the Kangaroo enclosure and touch them, I saw a joey in a pouch which was actually quite disgusting! Travelling onto Byron Bay via visiting the most Eastern point of Australia and then spent the afternoon on the beach and then in a bar before dinner with some of the others.

Day twenty one, Byron Bay to Coffs Harbour;
Free morning to look around Byron Bay some more before heading to a place just outside of Coffs Harbour for surf camp! Yes that is correct I went surfing! The hardest part was carrying the board which was nearly twice my height! I managed to get up on the board about 5 times though and did some spectacular underwater drowning. I even have a war wound in the form of a massive bruise that covers a lot of my thigh from the fin on the board. Tonight we are sleeping in converted shipping containers which are a lot nicer then we all thought they would be!

Day twenty two, Coffs Harbour to Sydney;
I cannot believe that the day to travel to Sydney has already arrived! Very long travel day on the coach, I think it was about 6/7 hours in the end. Finally the skyline came into view and then we were crossing the Harbour Bridge with the Opera House in the distance, AMAZING! Quick stop at a viewing point for the first of many photo's of the bridge and Opera house. Then onto our final hotel for the last two nights, out for dinner at Harry's Pie Shop which was a takeaway meal; your choice of pie with mash on top, mushy peas top of that if desired and then ketchup or gravy! yum yum!\

Day twenty three, Sydney;
The coach dropped us off at Manly Beach in the morning and I ended up staying there all day with a few others and getting the ferry back to Sydney. Very relaxed day! Last supper with the Contiki group at Darling Harbour, amazing food! We then headed out to the bars for some farewell drinks.

Day twenty four, Sydney;
Last day of the tour! Bitter sweet though because it means Adam is in Sydney and I will see him in the afternoon! We went out of Sydney today to visit the Blue Mountains, which was really pretty but personally I did not find it that amazing! About 8 of us managed to get lost though because we were taking too many pictures of ourselves! Our tour guide eventually found us though! We also visited The Three Sisters which is basically three bits of rock one after the other, they are a sacred site to the aboriginal people. Final coach journey back to the hotel, lots of tears and hugs with my new friends as we all part ways. Met by Adam at the hotel which was lovely, we then headed to our hostel which is home for the next 3 nights to start my next Australian adventure!

Amazing time on the tour, so glad I did it that way and did not travel alone! Please excuse the spelling, this has taken ages to write and I will not be proofing it it is too hot to sit at the computer any longer!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in advance!

x x x

Posted by samanthaforeman 01:06 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Northern Territory

Darwin, Litchfield National Park, Kakadu, Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, Kings Creek Station and Uluru

sunny

So the first part of the Oz tour has already ended! A brief overview of the Northern Territory is as follows - humidity, flies, sunshine, thunder storms, lots of time on the road, new friends, sunburn, dessert and lots of it, rocks and lots of them....

Day one, Darwin to Litchfield National Park;
Early rise today and on the bus by 8am (although now this bit is over I can say that 8am is a nice sleep in). This day consisted of massive termite mounds and a dip in two different waterfalls one of which had freshwater crocodiles in, our guide did not mention this until we were back on the coach though. Meal out with the whole group, there are 39 of us on this bit so lots of names to learn and remember! Stayed in Darwin for this night.

Day two, Darwin to Kakadu National Park;
Woken up by an amazing thunder and lightening storm this morning, so much rain but it did lift the humidity for about half an hour. A day in Darwin town today to look at the museum and the shops although I found the harbour instead and had my lunch there with my new friend Hannah. Moving onto Kakadu National Park today so we say our goodbyes to Darwin. On our way to Kakadu we stopped for a short hike to see the aboriginal art work at the site which was amazing.

Day three, Kakadu National Park;
More aboriginal art today and the highlight was a wildlife cruise on the Yellow River, we saw so many wild crocodiles which was quite scary when the boat tipped to the side with everyone trying to take pictures, needless to say I did not enjoy that part!

Day four, Kakadu to Katherine;
Moving on again today,7am start to get to Katherine. Lunch stop at Edith Falls which was very pretty although so many flies! Destination today was the Katherine Gorge Cruise, which was ok. Very pretty but we needed a better tour guide, did not really learn all that much but it is another place I will probably never go to again!

Day five, Katherine to Tennant Creek;
We visited a homestead today which was the location of the true tale of 'The land of the never never'. We went to the hot springs but we all thought it would be boiling hot and natural but it was manmade and not that hot. So many fruit bats in that area though, really really loud too! Highlight of the day was lunch at the oldest pub in the Northern Territory in Daly Waters. Their tradition was for visitors to leave something behind to show they had been there, I decided to leave a passport photo of Poppy and Ava, so they will be there forever! Pub night tonight!

Day six, Tennant Creek to Alice Springs;
Devils Marbles was the stop for the coach today which was mainly massive boulders but we had fun pretending to lift them up etc for pictures. A quick stop at a petrol station which was the place with the most UFO sitings, tourist trap I think! Group photo taken today which took forvever! Visit to a repltile centre, I held a snake called Barry. Saw the sites of Alice Springs from the top of a hill which was pretty.

Day seven, Alice Springs to Kings Creek Station;
Went on an aboriginal talk today which was really informative, learnt a lot from a guy named Con. Tried some fruit and seeds found in the bush and tried to throw a boomerang! There were aboriginal women with their paintings for sale, each painitng has a story. Lunch stop was at a station which was the closest site to the middle of Australia! Slept out under the stars tonight in a swag with a camp fire which was actually really fun and I saw a shooting star!

Day eight, Kings Creek Station to Uluru;
5am start to beat the heat for a 6k hike, I did not sign up for that!! But it was ok, hard work at that time in the morning but I survived! Fisrt glimpse of Ayres Rock today but visiting tomorrow. Main ly a coach journey day today!

Day nine. Uluru;
Up at 4.30am today to beat everyone to the best stop to watch the sunrise over Uluru (Ayres Rock) which was amazing! I then close to walk 10k around the rock but recovered with a day by the pool. Off to watch the sun set over the rock with champane to toast the trip...

We head to Cairns tomorrow for the East Coast, loose some people tomorrow but gain 25 in Cairns. So far this trip has been worth the wait!

Love to all x

p.s pictures to follow one day soon!

Posted by samanthaforeman 23:29 Archived in Australia Comments (7)

Just a little note...

semi-overcast 21 °C

Just a little note to let you all know I have made it to Darwin safe and sound! Flights went without a hitch which was great!

So far I have only seen Darwin in the dark but the sun is rising (yes I am already up, thank you confusing time zones) all I can see are the palm trees and the pool of the hostel, not a bad view!

x

Posted by samanthaforeman 13:09 Archived in Australia Comments (5)

Last few days in the UK

First blog of my adventure which is not going to be very exciting as it is part experiment to see how this works!

Last day at work tomorrow and then the mad rush begins to get the last minute items and say the last goodbyes. I will also be trying to fit eveything into my backpack for the first time which I am sure could take a few attempts!

My flight is Sunday night from Heathrow to Darwin with a short stopover in Singapore, arriving in the early hours of the 27th ready to start my 24 day tour on the 28th. My itinerary goes along the lines of Australia - Fiji - New Zealand - Singapore - Malaysia - Southern Thailand - South East Asia - Home.

The butterflies have already started!

Posted by samanthaforeman 14:32 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (3)

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