A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: sdestecroix

✰ Tokyo! スカイ島 ✰

Tuesday 5th June - Tuesday 12th June 2012

sunny 24 °C
View Skye 2012 on sdestecroix's travel map.

WELL... getting to Tokyo led to one of the worst days I have had in a LONG time:

Drama No.1
When I arrived at Hong Kong airport, I was originally told that my flight had been cancelled and so they had to book me on a new, later one which would mean getting to my connecting flight would be "a bit of a rush" (understatement of the year!), so I spoke to the manager of China Eastern Airlines and explained to her that I would like someone to meet me once I got off the plane in Shang Hai so that I could be whisked through to my next flight with minimal hassle, she agreed and called her colleague.
Drama No.2
The flight was supposed to land in Shang Hai at 15:45, but actually didn't land until 16:20, and my next flight was due to take off at 17;00... to top it all off there was no one to meet me at the airport so I had to run to the information desk and explain my situation and then run with a poor woman half a mile through the airport to my new gate! Luckily, I made it just in time, though I did have that awkward 'last person on the plane, everyone staring at you' thing!
Drama No. 3
When I landed in Tokyo around 9pm and tiredly strolled through customs, I waited by the baggage carousel until it stopped moving, and a man came over to me and said "What are you waiting for?"... "UHHH... My bag of course!"
So, my bag was not on the plane and had been left in Shang Hai... I had no clothes in my hand luggage or toiletries or anything, and the man at the airport said that my bag should arrive "at some point in the next few days" NOT good enough... this is where the tears started, I was stressed and tired and generally hysterical, so he called Shang Hai and made sure it was found and then put onto a flight the next day, plus he gave me ¥4000 compensation. (Sometimes tears do work)
Drama No. 4
With all my bag issues, it was now nearly 11pm and I hadn't even begun the journey to my hostel yet, to make matters worse, I suggest you Google "Tokyo Train Map"... I should be given a medal for actually getting there!
The woman at the airport said that as it was late, she would advise getting a taxi from the station to the hostel, an unnecessary expense, but probably a good idea given the time and I wasn't 100% sure where it was either... she said she would help me by printing out a map of the hostel and writing the details I gave her from my booking email on it so I could give it to the taxi driver.
Drama No.5
The taxi driver took me to the wrong hostel!!! It cost me GBP5 to be taken to the wrong place! By this point I was getting angry, I called my hostel and shouted at the poor reception man that I shouldn't have to pay for another taxi to take me to my hostel as it was not my mistake... he was understanding but said there was nothing he could do... so another GBP8 down on a second taxi, I finally arrived at midnight!
I then had to waste the whole of the next day waiting for my bag, which didn't arrive until 8pm!

So typical that everything runs smoothly for 5 months, and then on the last stop it all goes tits up! Tokyo did not make a good first impression, but once I had had a sleep and could eventually shower and change my clothes I felt a million times better and decided to just forget it and move on with Day One of my Japanese experience...
Ueno Zoo
Up early so that I could pack as much as possible into my day! I grabbed a ham sandwich from the 7eleven for breakfast and made my way to Ueno via train (only two stops so pretty smooth sailing), unfortunately, there are not many signs written in Japanese and English over here, so once you leave the train station, its all about guess work! As the weather was nice I didnt mind a stroll through the Ueno Park and eventually saw the entrance to the zoo! My main objective of the day was to see a PANDA!! as I haven't ever seen one before:
It turned out that although the zoo was small they also had hippos which I hadn't seen and a variety of strange South American creatures (including a CAT!?) so I was happy that it was worth ¥600 (about 5 pounds). The only issue I had was that a lot of the animals were pacing in their enclosures which I always think hints that they're bored or unhappy, and some of the enclosures were REALLY small! :-(
Throughout the day I also walked past groups of Japanese pre-school children, who each wore a white tunic and a different coloured hat and proved to me that Japanese toddlers are THE CUTEST in the world... if in future I need to adopt, Japan is where I'm coming! (They grow up to be absolutely stunning women too!)
Was adorable to see that the Grandparents play a big part in bringing up the children too!
After the zoo I found a Starbucks and had my Hazelnut Latte for lunch (^_^)

I was told by some of the guys at my hostel that Akiabara was a funky neighbourhood near my hostel where Japanese anime comics had taken over and the world of popular culture had followed with youngsters who dress up like their favorite characters from Manga and roam the streets, so after my coffee and a few more chapters of my book (reading is another thing that I hope to continue once I'm home!), I got back on the train to see for myself what all the fuss was about, and wasn't disappointed!!
Once I stepped out of the train station I noticed their were several young girls (I'd say 18ish) dressed in funky, and kinda kinky French maid outfits that were handing out flyers for "maid cafes"... I had read in my guide book that these were a popular experience and so I went along with one of the girls to a retro-themed and very pink American diner-inspired cafe. Here, I was introduced to "Piko", another french maid, who was very giggly and liked to do cat impressions! She sat me down, sang me a song and asked me to count down from three to one with her and then she produced a little electronic candle in a glass cup that lit up when she got to one and blew on it! This caused the giggles to spark up again and she did a little song and a happy dance and then showed me the menu. I settled on getting a 'chocolate bear ice cream', which was like a sundae of chocolate and vanilla ice cream with chocolate and vanilla whipped cream, cornflakes and chocolate sauce! The top was decorated using oreos and a cup cake to look like a bears face and it tasted DELICIOUS! She then served me some Jasmine tea as she sang another song and did more cat impressions! Meanwhile she asked me about myself, writing on paper what I couldn't understand and then asked me to write a message in her book and draw me a picture! So I drew her a cat and wrote that I liked her outfit! Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos of her, but as part of the price she gave me a pink lighter and a souvenir photo of us both doing the cat impression!
Very cute but very strange!
After that I had a wonder around town in search of some of the Manga comics to flick through, and came across the Hentai section of the book shop... for those of you who are not familiar, Hentai is Japanese anime porn, and it is VERY graphic and (quite disturbingly) features a lot of fetish porn and sex with children!! I decided this would be a perfect "present" for Patrick and after about an hour of flicking through the various books (there are hundreds of them), I finally settled on a story about a sex crazed lesbian gang who, half way through the book, grow penises and turn into hermaphrodites (but continue to have sex with each other)... believe me, that was one of the most "PG" story lines!!
An experience for sure!!

Sky(e) Tower
Very near to my hostel is a new 'structure' known as the "Sky Tower" which is one of the tallest structures in the world, at night, it is lit up with a different colour each day (today it was purple), so once the sun had set I went with a girl from my room to have a look at the tower and what was inside... mostly it is just a shopping mall with a very up market food hall (where I treated myself to a coffee and caramel bun), but there is also a planetarium on one of the upper levels which I am tempted to re-visit! Never been to one before, but will have to investigate the cost!
Then back to the hostel bar for around 9pm, where I drank "Umeshu" (Japanese plum wine) with Ginger Ale! LOVELY! (^_^) x
The next day, the sun was gloriously bright and so I spent the day in a park in Shinjuku, reading my book and attempting to soak up some rays...
I was SUPPOSED to be going to a Tea Ceremony at 5pm, but after attempting to navigate the train system to the correct station, the woman didnt show up!!! I looked around and waited for half an hour before finally decided (very aggravated) to leave! Luckily, after a strongly worded email, she refunded my money, but I am annoyed about the unnecessary inconvenience and expense of the trip! Another wasted day! (Though I did see a woman in a kimono on the train...)
I decided on my way home to stop in Shibuya (one of the busiest neighbourhoods) for a Starbucks and to watch the traffic of people crossing the main intersection outside the train station...

Club Atom
Once I arrived back at my hostel, my friend Adam informed me that "We're going out tonight"... as it was Friday and I had a bad day I thought, WHY NOT! Plus I have heard that clubbing in Tokyo is an experience not to be missed... the train system stops operating between the hours of midnight and 5am, so once you're out, you have to stay out and dance till dawn!
We had a few pre-drinks at the hostel and gathered people... so that it ended up being Me, Adam (Australia), Shaihn (France), Marley & Tom (UK) and Bee (South Africa)! Had a couple of Umeshu drinks and then headed into town... quick stop over for a curry (with some questionable chicken) and then on to the club!
Had a mild drama with my shoes, but did a nifty and militarily co-ordinated trainer swap with one of the boys and we were good to go...
Luckily, we had managed to get a discount voucher off their website so was only ¥1000 entry, and for three floors of dancing and ¥500/drink, it was quite reasonable!
We spent most of our time on the middle floor which played current English chart songs, remix with dance music and some Japanese songs which we bopped along to! I made friends with some of the Japanese and by the end of the night we were all one big group and making heart symbols with our hands (very popular over here)! Even met an adorable Japanese couple!
By the time 5am rolled around, we walked out of the club into the cold and very bright light of day! The sun seems to rise very early here, sp we got the tube back to Asakusa along with a lot of business men who were on their way to work and finally fell into bed around 6:30am! (hard core)
A great night and some awesome new friends!

My next "Japanese" experience was to visit a public Onsen in Asakusa. These are public baths which are separated into male and female rooms. Apparently quite popular with the locals (I don't know if they just don't have washrooms at home!?) but they are basically large jacuzzi baths which are heated to 40 or 45 degrees as well as having sauna rooms and cold baths.
The one I visited was recommended in Lonely Planet, and it is mandatory to be naked! I was told that the Japanese are a little funny about tattoos as here it is only the gang members which have them, but as mine is not Japanese artwork, I think they let me off (although no doubt a lot of the old Japanese women were bitching about me!).
Locating the onsen (like everything in Japan), was an absolute mission! I had to study three maps (written in Japanese) whilst trying to orientate the shoddy one in my lonely planet, ask three different people to point me in the right direction and even then, I had three very sweet Japanese school girls tying the name into Google Maps and escorting me to the front door!! DRAMA!
Once I arrived, the lady gave me a towel and a bar of soap and directed me to the entrance. The changing room was like any other gym, with lockers and mirrors with hair dryers. The actual washing room had rows of individual shower heads at waist height, each with a plastic stool and a bowl in front. You had to crouch down onto the stool and wash yourself first before getting into the main bath. The water smelt strange and was a light green colour, which I assumed had been enriched with natural minerals, and the bath was HOT! I could only stay in for 10 mins at a time and I was sweating quite a lot, but I guess that was the point of the hot water! They also had jacuzzi jets which you could put on and a massage chair in the changing room which I had a go on!
I would say it was an experience, but not one I think will catch on in the UK... I've never seen so many naked women of all ages! I shall never complain about my fat bum again!! (and I don't ever want to get old!) :-S

On the way home I also took a quick snap of the rickshaw "drivers"... these are incredibly athletic Japanese men whose job it is to taxi people around town in carriages by RUNNING!! They effectively take the place of a horse and run around, pulling the rickshaw carriage with you in it... some of them were pretty beefy and all wore tight cycling shorts!

Cat Cafe
Owing to the high population in Tokyo and thus the large number of Japanese that live in high rise apartments, many are unable to own pets. A solution to this problem has been the invention of pet cafes (cat, dog and even lizard!) which are located around many neighbourhoods in Tokyo and are VERY popular with the locals!
Basically you go to a random womans flat and pay her ¥800 to spend time with her cats- stroking them, teasing them with toys or feeding them (for an additional fee)... It was another interesting experience, but again, a bit weird... and the cats didn't seem to want anything to do with us! The kittens were cute though! (^_^)

After the cat cafe, we got on a tube to Harajuku, the teen centre of Tokyo where all the school girls go to buy their cutesy outfits a accessories! Here I didn't even bother trying on the clothes (lesson learnt in Singapore and Vietnam- "I think you... XXL"), but it was interesting to see what they wear and I even got to see a girl dressed as Little Bo Peep as well as many Goths! We even stopped at a condom emporium on the way home...

So that concludes a week in Tokyo, an awesome place with lovely people who are genuinely really interested in you and are always very helpful. Unfortunately, I think I would have had a better time if I could come back with more money... it is SOOO expensive and its very difficult to do on your own! x

I CANNOT WAIT to be back home... after 5 months, 11 countries, 39 places and a million memories, I am poorer and happier than I have ever been, but GOD do I miss mash potato!! x

Dōmo Arigatōo Tokyo! x

Posted by sdestecroix 19:55 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

♡ Hong Kong 香港 ♡

Friday 1st June - Tuesday 5th June 2012

semi-overcast 27 °C
View Skye 2012 on sdestecroix's travel map.

Once again, my body and mind had taken a beating from the severe lack of sleep over the past few days in Loas, so I was glad of the opportunity to relax during my days travelling, and spent a large chunk of that Friday in Bangkok airport watching "The Crimson Petal and the White" on my iPhone and reading the second "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" book!
I finally arrived in Hong Kong around 8pm, and was glad to see that their airport was very clean and well organised... customs was a breeze and the staff were really friendly in helping me locate the bus station in order to get to my hostel on Hong Kong Island.
I even met a lovely local girl on the bus who spoke incredibly good English and was giving me tips on things to do whilst I was here!
The bus journey was like travelling through space... the skyline throughout was a sea of bright lights and high rise buildings like a sci-fi film! I loved it! When I arrived at my hostel, the reception was on the 15th floor of a block of apartments, but my dorm was on the 5th (strange but apparently this is quite common in HK due to the lack of space!)
The hostel was clean and the staff were friendly, so I was looking forward to it here already! A girl in my dorm room lent me her Lonely Planet so I could read up on things to do, and I had an early night (I say early- was still about 11pm!) to re-charge ready to explore the next day!

Day One - The Peak
In the morning I let myself sleep in, finally arising at around 10am, where I made my way to the MRT (tube) station and got the tube into Central, as I mentioned before, everything in HK is very clean and efficient, so figuring out the MRT was a breeze, and only cost 50p a journey! In Central I got myself a Hazelnut Latte from Starbucks (I have developed a taste for coffee on my travels) and followed the street directions to "The Peak", a tram ride which takes you to a look out building that is said to have the best view of Hong Kong. "The Peak" sits atop a mountain at the back of Hong Kong Island, so on a clear day you can see Kawloon and Lantau Islands etc as well!
Unfortunately, although the day was very sunny, there is also a continuous mist that seems to settle in the air (potentially pollution) so the view wasnt quite as far as I'd like! The tram ride was cool though (very steep) and on the way up you could see the 'urban jungle' idea suggested by the Lonely Planet, as sky scrapers seem to stick up out of palm tree/jungle vegetation on the street floor!
At the top of the viewpoint, I met a lovely New Zealander called Richard, who became my Hong Kong travel buddy as we talked about the city and ourselves! He took some photos of me with the HK skyline in the background and let me read through his travel guide to figure out what to do with the rest of my day... as we got on well and were both travelling alone, we stuck together and spent the day (and the following) exploring and enjoying the local "things to do".
After descent, we walked around the central area in search of Mo Ma Temple (famed for it's smoky incense filled aroma) where we also noticed they used bamboo for scaffolding here (a nice mixture of old and new) and we even saw a Chinese bride!
On arrival at the temple, you could instantly smell the incense... the slits in the ceiling sent cool beams of light through the smoke and the smell made the place feel very spiritual!
After the temple, we walked further into Central to find the famed Luk Yu Tea House for 'Dim Sum', a traditional Chinese afternoon tea, where you order several small dishes to share and the waiters continually fill your kettle with Jasmine Tea... I got to try some real Chinese food including 'dumplings' (which were a bit too squidgy for my liking), pigeon rolls, fish wrapped in green pepper (with a lovely black bean sauce),bamboo shoots and 'spare ribs' (which had SO much fat on them they were horrible!) as well as the usual spring rolls and fried rice!
Richard was staying on Kawloon island and so once he'd got his boat back over, I decided to walk back to my hostel through the various neighbourhoods for a bit of exploration! The street scene is really cool here, there are SO MANY people that you look like ants crawling around beneath the buildings, and there are loads of random little markets and street sellers right next to the big shopping malls... here I watched a blind woman perform a street ritual which is designed to ward away evil. A gentleman explained to me that you write the name of the person/people you don’t like on a piece of paper and then the woman whacks the paper with her slipper whilst chanting and then burns it! Quite cool to watch, but I can't think of anyone I "dont like" enough to write down!!
I also grabbed some ice cream at the Haagen Daz cafe and noticed that Standard Charter also appears on their 50 dollar notes! Plus their money is nice and colourful like Australia’s! Britain really needs to think about updating the pound!

That night I had another decent sleep, I'm surprised that it isn't more noisy at night given the number of people, but perhaps I was just in a quiet area! Richard had mentioned to me that a very swanky hotel on the Kawloon island offered British "afternoon tea" and as it was expensive, he said he would treat me! SCORE!

Day Two - Kawloon Island
We arranged to meet at 3:30pm, which meant I had a leisurely morning in Starbucks, reading my book over coffee (caramel latte this time) and a muffin for breakfast (I am on holiday!) ;-)
At around 2pm I got the ferry over to Kawloon island (which was only HK$3) and strolled along the promenade in the sunshine to the "Avenue of Stars" !! This is apparently Hong Kongs version of the walk of fame in Hollywood, with all these famous Chinese movie stars hand prints! The only three I'd heard of we're Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jackie Chan, do I took a photo of them! There is also a life sized bronze statue of Bruce Lee, which for some reason really reminded me of Dad! (perhaps he pulled that pose too many times during my childhood! ) x

When it came time to meet Richard, we strolled into the Peninsular Hotel, with it's white uniformed doormen, chandeliers and high ceilings only to be told that they had a "dress code" and my flip flops did not adhere to it!! I demanded to speak to the manager as I was not dressed scruffily and explained to him that I lived on the other island and was unable to get back and a little offended by the idea that I should have to! I AM British!! They're stupid hotel is just pretending, they should be honoured to have my feet in their cafe, no matter what shoes they're in!! GRR! Alas, they would not budge, so we walked back to Richards hotel and I had to drink afternoon tea like a lady, dressed in a mans business shoes! Classy! :-(
The only saving grace was that the food was sensational! The bottom layer had homemade scones which came with jam and actual Devon clotted cream (which I assured Richard was nothing in comparison with Jersey cream!), the middle layer had savoury treats with traditional cucumber and cheese sandwiches (no crust of course) and smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches which were rolled into a spiral for variation! Then there were mini quiches and mini sausage pastry! The crowning layer was filled with macaroons, mini lime cheesecake, strawberry and passion fruit moose biscuit cups and mini raspberry crumble! We were served proper English breakfast tea (though Richard chose Earl Grey) using a very grand silver kettle set and china cups/saucers and mid-way the waiter brought us shot glasses of pineapple and coconut moose!! AMAZING!! X To top it all off, when the bill came, it was accompanied by two chocolate and orange truffles!! Skye = HAPPY BUNNY!! X

After tea Richard and I caught the MRT up towards the centre of Kawloon where they had a variety of markets to visit... stepping out the tube station we caught a glimpse of what the real Hong Kong is like, there were BIG neon signs and billboards hanging from the shops above, THOUSANDS of people walking in all directions and street hawkers/stalls calling out to you as you passed, one woman was making name bracelets out of wire for HK$50, so I bought one and watched her make it;
As night began to fall, the vibrant streets really came alive with colour that was almost headachey... the neon signs were SO bright and every street was a mass of different colours! The markets were cramped and mostly full of tack, but I did buy myself (and impress Richard with my haggling skills) a "silk" night gown!

We then made our way down to the sea front for the "Symphony of Lights" display, which is a famous attraction here and a world record holder for the biggest light and sound show on earth! The waterfront at Kawloon offers a panoramic view of the skyline of Hong Kong island, and during the light show classical music is played whilst lasers and coloured lights are orchestrated across the sky scrapers on Hong Kong island... once again my camera failed me somewhat so I couldn’t capture the full effect, but I thought it was pretty fly and certainly nothing like I had ever seen before!
The Standard Charter HQ was involved Mum, and looked like a tower of bricks that drained in colour from blue to green and occasionally flashed one of the two;
Once the show was over, Richard and I went our separate ways! A LOVELY man whose company I enjoyed immensely!

Day Three - Lantau Island
The following day was my last full day in HK, I had been told about a giant statue of Buddha on the nearby island of Lantau, and so I got an early start with my Starbucks fix, then got the ferry over to Lantau (which is much more vegetative and picturesque than HK) and then a bus ride into the central city of Tung Chung, where the best way to get to the monastery was by cable car (as it was high in the mountains).
For some reason, when I waited in the queue for the cable car the woman decided to give me a whole carriage to myself!! Which at first I thought was quite cool, but then soon felt rather silly when everyone in the cars around me started to wave/laugh!
Once we arrived at the village, it was very pleasantly sunny, though VERY commercialised, with all shops selling souvenirs! The Buddha himself was impressive and he sat overlooking a very quaint and traditional monastery surrounded by hills;
Once again (as would seem to be the case with many deities on this trip) Buddha demanded that if I were to see him, I had to do some exercise first! So up I went, climbing 200 stairs to visit the big Buddha and admire his view of Lantau island;
Hot and sweaty once I got to the bottom of the stairs again, my next stop was "Wisdom Path"... a 15 minute walk into the woodland of Lantau where monks had erected a structure in the shape of the infinity sign (a sideways number 8) using very high tree trunks that were sawn in half and had Chinese inscriptions carved into the flat side. When I got to the path I was the only one and the whole place was silent... really made it feel spiritual and beautiful!
For my trip down the mountain, they thankfully put me in a cable carriage with some other Chinese people, so I wasn’t alone, although they were very giggly and I couldn’t understand a word they were laughing about!
I bought myself some ice cream and decided to get the MRT back to central to save time (and money)... it was here that I observed just how vain Chinese girls are... literally ever single one is either looking at herself in a compact mirror or using her iPhone camera as a mirror!! preening their hair and pouting to themselves!! A lot of them have those freaky blue contact lenses as well, which make them look like dolls!! :-S

Once I got to Central Station it was around 7pm, and all the business men/women had obviously finished work so the Tube was RAMMED! (and I mean RAMMED!), this is a photo of the queues OUTSIDE the doors to the tube... it was like that at every station and each time we stopped another 10-20 people piled into the carriage, I have never been that close to a stranger in my life! I could barely breathe and all I kept thinking was THANK GOD I'M TALL!

The next morning I got up early to make my way to the airport for my flight to Tokyo, my last stop on what has been a FANTASTIC trip so far... XX

Posted by sdestecroix 21:35 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

✰ Tubing in Loas! X ✰

What goes on tour, stays on tour! Sunday 27th May - Friday 1st June 2012

semi-overcast 28 °C
View Skye 2012 on sdestecroix's travel map.

After another wild "last night" where I once again dragged my drunken body into bed at 4am only to be startled by my alarm a mere 2 hours later, I managed to get myself downstairs for a bacon roll just before my taxi arrived! (Thankfully I had the forethought to pack my bag pre-drinkage) I then continued to dribble all over my shoulder and probably snore in front of the strangers who accompanied me to the airport as I fell asleep on the journey! I must take a moment to thank the nice taxi man who woke me up when we arrived and put my bag on my back so I could stumble blindly and half asleep into the check in queue! The flight process was relatively pain free (mostly because I slept the whole time) but when I arrived in a very hot and sunny Loas, I did have a mini drama with my visa...
Apparently the cost of a visa is US$35, and the woman told me that they ONLY accept USD... Which, being English, I obviously did not have! I was therefore escorted half a mile through the airport to a cash machine outside which only dispensed Kip (Loas' currency), the escort then had to find me an exchange place so I could change my kip back into USD and then when I returned to the visa counter, they messed up my paperwork and tried to charge me the rate of a family!!! Eventually though, it was sorted and, with my new found patience (which I sincerely hope follows me home) I said thank you and proceeded to get my bag (which was very depressively waiting alongside the conveyer belt for me) and into a taxi to the bus station. There, the taxi man spoke to his friend and managed to get me a ticket for a VERY bumpy 4 hour bus journey up to Vang Vieng!
I would like to tell you that I spent this time admiring the beautiful countryside of Loas, but alas, I slept...
It was during these hours though that I met Jenna and Angie, two lovely British ladies (although Jenna is practically Australian now) who I spent the rest of my trip sharing a room with! X

Vang Vieng
When we finally arrived in VV, it was late afternoon and the town was pretty deserted, we passed a lot of shops selling ray bans and tubing clothes and several bars on our search for a hostel called "Spicey's" which had been recommended to us, when we arrived and saw that Spicey's consisted of wooden bunk beds covered by a tarpaulin we swiftly left and found ourselves a nice guest house with walls, hot water and air conditioning (which even worked out to be CHEAPER!) x
Luckily for me, Jenna and Angie had arrived in Loas after a traumatic 7 hours in KL airport and so they weren't in the mood to party either! Instead, we went for a nice Thai curry at one of the restaurants in town, where we discovered that in VV, they show episodes of "Friends" on loop, ALL DAY, EVERY DAY!! (^_^) x
I decided that another one of my Valium tablets would be required to catch up on my sleep, which was a brilliant idea as I slept for 12 hours and awoke the next morning feeling fresh and ready to get on it!!

Day One
The girls and I got showered and dressed (I had to buy myself some clothes as I still hadn't had a chance to do my washing after Halong Bay and everything STANK!), went for breakfast and Friends and then headed up to the river where the tubing takes place at around 3pm... Unfortunately Angie had burnt her leg due to a rogue motor bike exhaust and so could not actually get in the river, but we had it on good source that it was possible to "pub crawl" and not actually have to get wet! HUZZAH! So we all got in a tuk tuk and arrived to let the madness commence...
The first bar we arrived at served mulberry mojitos which were DELICIOUS!
This is also where we found out that the bridge which connected the bars on either side of the river had yesterday collapsed (along with all those on it) into the brown murky water below and so a make-shift solution was to let a BOY (not a man) with a wooden raft, connected to a zip wire by rope, push the 'boat' across te current with a big stick! MARVELOUS!
As soon as we'd managed to get across the river, we instantly arrived at the first bar where you are given a shot of Tiger (Loas) Whiskey- a mixture of bananas and petrol, this lethal shot was handed out at each new bar along with a colourful bracelet once consumed! Most of the people who go tubing end up with a forearm full of them, this photo was mine at the end of my stay (which I think goes some way towards explaining how vile this really was) ;

Then it was on to the buckets! All drinks served in Loas are served in buckets, where the spirit is measured out in cups (not shots) and the mixer is accompanied by M-15 Red Bull (which contains amphetamines and is 5x stronger than normal red bull), needless to say, things get messy very quickly here and I blame the whiskey and red bill combo for my decision on day one of tubing to allow a man to spray paint red stars on my nipples, all the name of a free bucket!
The day continues with drinking, dancing and games of "dare jenga" (where each piece has a dare written on it) x

I also bumped into three of the guys I met on Fraser Island in Australia which was cool! We drank, chatted, made new friends and stayed as far away from the filthy water as possible! Until around 8pm when everyone makes their way back across the river in the death boat and into tuk tuks to get some food in town (usually street food which just makes you feel worse!)
On this occasion I went with Tom and two of his mates for a curry which stayed in my stomach for a grande total of 2 hours!
Then at 9:30 it's on to the conveniently named "Bucket Bar" for more drinking and dancing until the last man standing! It was here that I danced in the rain in my bikini, cracked out the chicken dance and managed to puke all over my feet whilst attempting to aim for the squatting toilets (a low point I shall try to forget)
So that concludes the "Tubing" experience, and that is what is repeated daily in VV! That is also the reason why, at 6am on day one, I looked like this and was officially known as "the girl with the boobs" (again... Not my proudest moment);

Day Two
We awoke the next morning to find that we were down one crew member and that Jenna had not slept in her bed! So Angie and I went for pizza breakfast, in an attempt to calm the official WORST hang over of my life! It was then that we realised that Friends was the best idea in the world and that Ross, Monica and co. are in fact the best hang over cure! By 4pm, Jenna was still MIA and Angie began to panic, I on the other hand, optomisitically (and rightly) concluded that she had met a guy and spent the night (and apparently subsequent day!) in bed with him!
Angie refused to leave the room until Jenna had re-surfaced, which meant that I headed up to the river solo for round 2! Not a problem though, as thanks to the previous days escapades (and my new nick name), there were plenty of people to hang out with!
True to form, I was offered a free bucket again today-thi s time if I agreed to let an Australian guy give me a lap dance, so, after some reassurance that he would NOT be removing his boxers, I agreed;
This was also the day that I met a LOVELY Swedish guy who had broken both his arms, and was still partying like a rockstar (sadly I cannot quite recall his name)

Day Three
With the crew re-assembled and with this being my official last day tubing, despite the awful feeling in my stomach and pounding head ache, we decided to hit it hard and went up to the river early (around 2pm) after another morning of Friends for breakfast! Jenna was in high spirits after her sex-a-thon, and another two of their friends (Rhianna and Laura) had arrived to join us!
This day we actually managed to make it to bars on both sides of the river! And the merriment continued well into the night at Bucket Bar! (I even learnt a new dirrty version of the drinking game "Timmy Timmy");
Posted by sdestecroix 17:33 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

♡ Halong Bay! ♡ (part 3)

Three days of MADNESS in on a boat... xx

storm 30 °C
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Halong Bay- Day One
Thursday 24th May 2012
Early start AGAIN, as we had to be up at 5:45am ready to eat breakfast and begin the 4 hour bus journey to the Halong Bay harbour... Bianca strolled back into our room at about 6am, having spent a lot of time on the balcony! But we managed to sober her up enough to pack her backpack and eat some breakfast... bacon roll! NOM NOM! x
At 6:30am, they read out the names of all those who had signed up for the trip, and when they struggled with mine I had to shout it out for them... "DE STE CROIX, Yes that's me!!"... all of a sudden I hear someone shout JERSEY!! and it turns out that two guys from home (who are friends with Amy DSC) are on my trip too! (along with one of their dads, which became VERY awkward- he was an old man on a booze cruise with 20 somethings and managed to annoy everyone and wet himself two nights in a row!!), None the less, Jordon and Ollie became my friends! (^_^) x
The tour guides then handed everyone a VERY fetching sombrero-inspired hat each, which I wore proudly, and which by the end of the trip, many people had either lost or personalised into something cool! I did well to keep mine until the end but then left it on the boat when we went back on day three! OOPS!
We started drinking early, by adding vodka to cans of fanta (classy) so that by the time we got to the harbour we were very muchup for a party! Luckily, one of the tour guides for the boats was Luke (different Luke) who had taken us on the snake village trip and so re-arranged the boats to have me and Bianca on his (AW!) because he thought we were fun, which meant that we were also on the same boat as the Geordies!! YAY! x
There was a lot of teasing and good banter with them throughout the night!

We then paddled back for dinner, showers and a bit of time to chill out on the top deck, getting to know each other more before the drinking games began!

Halong Dragon- Card Game
The first night's game was like 'Ring of Fire', where a full deck of cards are arranged in a dragon shape on the table, and you take it in turns to pick one each... different cards have different meanings/ rules attached to them, i.e. "Four is for Whores" (so all the girls drink), "Two is 'Fuck YOU!'" (so everyone on the other team drinks), and "Six is for Dicks" etc.
My favourites were "Ace = A+B" where, if you drew an Ace, the person beside you had to cover your eyes and point to two people within the team, the person who picked the card then had to say what A does to B, so there were people sucking nipples, and getting naked to run around the boat etc! Very amusing! There was also the "Sex Change" card, that meant you had to swap one item of clothing with a person of the opposite sex... Brendan chose me when he drew this one, so I lost my dress and had to spend the rest of my night in his Tank top... luckily he is tall so it JUST covered my bum! :-P
The game lasted most of the evening, and we finally made it to bed around 3am... which meant a nasty surprise at 6:30 when the Vietnamese crew banged on our doors for us to get up! Apparently they forgot to tell us that breakfast is at 7am and we all had to be up and packed by then so that we could change boats (as some people only paid for one night therefore, had to leave) This included the Geordie boys, so we said very brief 'Goodbyes' to them and very long 'Goodbyes' to Stone, and were greeted with a whole new boat for day two! x
This time the Jersey boys were with me, so we had a reunion... they were hard core and started drinking beer for breakfast at 7, but I couldnt stomach it that early!

Cat Ba Island- Day Two
Friday 25th May 2012
Once we had swapped boats and re-introduced ourselves to people, as well as swapping stories from the previous night (Two people on our boat lost their eyebrows thanks to Bianca, as well as several sections of underarm/chest/pubic hair!) and one guy on the other boat had to drink a shot of rum that was poured through another guys butt crack, as he squatted over his face!!! YUCK!!! We made our way to the island... a chance to chill and take in the scenery as it took a few hours to get there!

When we arrived we grabbed a matress in one of the huts... you'd be surprised how rustic they were! No walls, just literally wooden shacks with 6 matresses per 'room' and dirty old mosquito nets!! :-S
We then spent the day chilling out on the island, drinking and chatting, playing volly ball and going 'tubing'... this was a fun experience, which I did with three Canadian Guys... basically there was a circular float with handles that was attached to a bungie cord at the back of a speedboat... you lay on your front grasping the handles for dear life as the speedboat pulled you through the sea! SO MUCH FUN! But we did loose our bikini bottoms when we were flung off the float... so we were dared to keep them off, and tubed back to the island with our bums out... quite envigorating actually, but I think there were a lot of sore balls for the men! :-S
Lunch and Dinner on the island were SOOO good! the food was delicious and cured my hang over a treat! A lot of people slept through the day, but I spent it with the Canadian Boys (Brian, Dan and Bryce) wearing a samauri collar (fashioned from our hats) and laughing A LOT!
In addition to the Canadian's favourite game of "YEE HAA!", The evening's main drinking game was very simple... everyone had 4 cards, face down... the first they had to guess "red or black?" (right, they nominate 1 finger, wrong they drink)... the second was "Higher or Lower?", then "In between or Outside?" and finally "Which Suit?", with the number of fingers to drink increasing with each round!
Then when all the cards were turned over it was a dare round... Luke (tour guide) drew a card at random, and if one of your four cards was the same you had to all stand up and do a dare... at one point there were 4 guys with tissue tucked into their bums, and tied at the other end to each others which was then set on fire!! Bizarre! but funny!
As people got more and more drunk they started getting difficult to control, so the last 'dare' at around 2/3am was that everyone had to go skinny dipping in the sea to look at the phospherescence... it was defo an experience, but luckily it was PITCH black so no one could really see anything, but being in the sea water, naked and surrounded by the sillouhettes of mountains as the water lit up with glittery yellow/green light everytime you moved was A-MAY-ZING!! Felt really magical and one of the highlights of the whole trip! (^_^) x
Again, we didn't get much sleep after that... someone found blue paint and was painting everyones faces... we all danced on the table and Megan turned 23!! so we all sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY and gave her bday kisses! (she was adorable) x
I finally crawled under my mosquito net at around 4am, and once again... we got woken up at 6!!! FML!

Day 3- Good Bye Vietnam!
Saturday 26th May 2012
After 4 hours of drunken sleep over 2 days, we were all feeling a little fragile in the morning but I was DELIGHTED to see that breakfast included warm rolls with proper NZ butter! Yum! We didnt have long to eat and Luke (true to form) was straight back on the drink by cracking open a morning beer with his teeth! so he did a poor job of shepherding everyone onto the boat for our trip back to Hanoi!
His increasingly drunk behaviour soon led to him getting naked and nearly into a fight with some guy for putting his cock on his shoulder! He then passed out along with his two mates and the revenge was as follows;
Last night consisted of lots more drinking, dancing and merriment... even a moustache dance which the Canadians taught us... where if your body dances, then your "moustache" must dance too... cue some very strange and funny faces!
Vietnam has been a real highlight of my trip... I loved meeting Bianca, and will defo have to venture back there one day to see all the places I missed, but I was also SUPER excited for more madness in Loas, and Vang Vieng DID NOT disappoint!

... xx

Posted by sdestecroix 06:30 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

♡Mot, Hai, Ba, Zo! Vietnam ♡ (part 2)

Sunday 6th May - Sunday 27th May 2012

sunny 35 °C
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Nha Trang Continued...
For our second day in Nha Trang, we hit the beach in style... arriving on sun loungers in already blistering heat at 9am, and intermitantly running across the baking sand from sea to sun lounger and back! That evening was much the same as before, with more drinks at a bar called 'Booze Cruise' and I met Alex's American friends Matt, Sam and Don!
We laughed at the sign for 'Pedestrian crossing' which had a very swanky strut to it...
We played a very exciting game of 6-piece jenga, which got really high and very wobbly before Don finally knocked it over!
More drinks at Why Not? and this happens... Oh Dear!

Thap Banha- Mud Baths
In need of some serious relaxation after our heavy partying, the girls decided to take a day off from the beach/drink to enjoy the mineral mud baths at Tam Bun spa!
We arrived with low expectations but were pleasently surprised with a GREAT day! The perfect way to cure a hang over... although the mud did smell a bit!
That evening, on recommendation from the 'Lonely Planet' we all went out for an Indian curry, which was ÂMAZING! before meeting the boys to play drinking games at Why Not?... one of which included impersonating an animal... I was a tiger! x
There was also a moment when the boys found the Vietnamese currency "Dong" very funny and so pushed it through their flies to "get their dongs out"... boys will be boys!

The next day was OFFICIALLY an alcohol free day, and mine and Bianca's last day in Nha Trang before we got the sleeper bus to Hoi An. As such, we spent it on the beach again, tanning and chatting and having manicures/pedicures and massages!
Good thing too as the sleeper bus was NOT a fun experience... firstly there was no toilet as the driver decided to use the toilet as the 'Bag Room' (probably so that they could smuggle drugs where the bags should go), then they tried to put Bianca and I on a lower shared bunk at the back, which neither of us could even sit up in... and THEN they tried to put a random girl in there to spoon with as well!
Well, I was NOT having it... so I just marched up to the driver and told him that we were too tall to have those beds and so we were moving... resulting in two private sleeper beds, which were marginally more comfortable!
The bus driver still used his horn to the excess, drove at 200mph and kept putting on noisy kung fu films, and there was a woman beside me throwing up all night, but we made it to Hoi An for 7am...

Hoi An
When we arrived, we decided to stay at the same hotel as Jon, who had arrived a day before us. It was called Vinh Huy and the receptionist 'Vicky' was SOOO lovely! We had a few hours sleep in a nice double bed before going for a walk to explore the town. It was very small with LOTS of tailors and dress shops, that all had traditional carved wooden signs and open doorways... the riverside was very pretty, although the river itself was brown! :-S
Upon recommendation from our hotel, we went to Bi Hanh tailors to have my dress made for the wedding... which turned out to be a DISASTER! lesson learned... just buy it from ASOS!
But I also ordered a tailor made pair of shoes, which turned out brilliantly! That evening we went for dinner at a restaurtant along the river where we met Kim, a local bar tender who was flyering for his bar "Old and New" and offering free buckets! Never one to turn down free alcohol, we decided that after our shrimp curry and seafood spring rolls, we would go for our 1 free bucket before we went home... fast forward 4 hours, and it's midnight, we've been the only customers Kim has had and we've spent the entire evening playing our favourite songs on you tube, playing pool with Kim, and drinking buckets! OOPS! Luckily, the bar also offered free transport home, so Bianca and I squashed onto the back of a scooter with a Vietnamese boy who soon asked me to marry him and thus became my husband!
Kim said he'd like to show us around Hoi An and so offered to pick us up in the morning and show us the local villages for free! WOO HOO!
Next Kim drove us to another village where they make pottery... one old woman had the tedious job of turning the potters wheel with her feet for 10 hours each day, while the other squatted on a wooden stall moulding the clay! We were given an opportunity to make our own 'flower vase', and took it in turns to have a go! I think I was pretty good at it myself! (^_^)
This was where I bought the salt and pepper pots, as I thought they would make a nice keep-sake for Vietnam, provided they make it home without cracking!
Next we went for lunch in a floating restaurant, where I ordered more vegetable soup... I am LIVING on it here! Before we headed back to the tailors for my second fitting... The dress was still very mum-sy, but looked less like a Victorian night gown now!
Kim said that if we helped him to flyer that evening, then we could have free buckets all night... so, to thank him for his tour guiding, we met up with him for pizza in the evening and did the highly embarrassing and annoying task of harrassing tourists while they ate for an hour... HOWEVER... it was SOOO worth it, because we did an AMAZING job! By the end of the night there were at least 30 people in the bar, who spent LOADS of money, and whom we chatted to like fab hostesses! Kim kept true to his word and let us drink for free all night, making our buckets of Vietnamese rum and coke extra strong and never letting them get empty... needless to say, I drank 11, and apparently nearly punched a girl because she kept skipping the music mid song- although I do not recall this, thus it did not happen!
We also earned the right to sign our names on the wall of the bar, and, as I naturally wanted to be somewhere everyone could see... I convinced a drunken Australian guy to let me stand on his shoulders...
Kim taught us "Mot, Hai, Ba, Zo! (pronounced 'Yo')" which means "1,2,3, Cheers!' in Vietnamese!
There was also some very strange/strong smoking pipe thing on the bar that burnt my lungs and made me cough a LOT and probably the worst hang over I have had in AGES in the morning... Vietnamese Rum 1 - 0 Skye!!
The next day we managed to stomach some soup and stagger around in the bright sunshine to our dress/ shoe fittings, Kim met us at 2pm to go to the beach, where I slept in the sunshine, and then we got Rum n Raisen, Caramel and Coconut ice cream (three scoops) and decided that we should let Vietnamese women who couldnt speak a word of English, cut our hair for $3... she thought a 'trim' translated to 'an inch', but at least it is still long and the split ends are gone! :-P

Our first impression of Hue was the heat... for some reason, here it was a million degrees hotter than anywhere else! We stayed at a nice hotel, and on our first afternoon went to visit the Citadel (ruins of the Imperial City where the Emporer and his family/court lived in the 1800s), here we were pestered by Tuk Tuk drivers who weren't even allowed into the city walls, but who insisted on asking to take us on a tour! Both Bianca and I nearly whacked them!!
Once inside, we walked around and slyly snuck on to the end of an American tour group so we could get some history about the place! The buildings were all very pretty and Chinese in style, but as they were heavily bombed during the war, the city was very much in ruins! After a few hours we couldn't take the heat anymore and left to get some spring rolls and vegetable broth... both staples of our Vietnamese diet! (^_^)
As it was so early, I pretty much slept the entire journey between Hue and Phong Na- (5 hours, not 3) - only waking up to eat the WORST lunch I think I have ever been given... I should have known that I would hate it, but this one I couldnt even stomach... there were plates of boiled eggs with massive chunks of boiled pork, a bowl of spinach in water, thick noodles, tiny prawn-lke things with their shells still on and a whole fish which was FULL of bones! Luckily there were a few spring rolls floating around, so I just ate them!! :-(
We also stopped to visit a Catholic church en route, which was very strange and most of it was re-built outdoors, in the shape of a big tree!?
Once we finally reached Phong Na, the scenery was INCREDIBLE! The river that leaked through the caves was full of boats that had TINY Vietnamese village women stearing them, children splashing around and water buffalo cooling off! The mountains that surrounded the lake were very green and the sun was smiling down! LOVELY!
Another 5 hours and we were finally back in Hue, with swollen feet and very heavy eye-lids! Went back to Why Not? Bar for dinner and then had a few drinks before sleep (with my feet propped up on a pillow like an old maid!) x

The next stop was Hanoi, we booked our sleeper bus for the following evening, had a LONG lie in and bought ourselves some Valium in the hope that this time we would be able to get some sleep!
Luckily, we managed to get decent beds this time and with the help of the second book in the "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" series, I slept like a baby for the whole 14 hours! (^_^)
1Picture_005.jpg2Picture_007.jpg] (A Sign that Bianca and Brendan continuously ignored!! Tut Tut!!)
This tour involved a group of backpackers, driving to a small village about 15 mins out of Hanoi, where they bread snakes for meat... the crowning glory of this trip was that some lucky people could eat the beating heart out of a live snakes chest and everyone could drink the blood and the bile of this snake mixed with local (and lethal) rice wine... It is said to be a local delicacy and a natural Viagra... so I did!
I know this has caused quite a stir, but it was an AWESOME experience, (the raw heart tasted like fish but the cooked snake tasted like really chewy chicken!) and I met some great people, whilst also earning myself some serious man-points for being the only girl to do it! (Hard core!)
3Picture_012.jpg ("We're about to eat snake heart" face)

A CRAZY first night in Hanoi, and a MASSIVE hang over the next day... so Bianca, Brendan and I decided to chill out and go to the cinema to watch 'The Avengers' in 3D! A great film and some yummy popcorn! x

Early night that night as 6:30am marked the start of our Halong Bay Tour... Three days and Two nights of absolute MADNESS that will require a blog entry all of it's own... xx

Posted by sdestecroix 06:17 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

♡ Xin chao! Vietnam! (^_^) ♡ (part 1)

Sunday 6th May - Sunday 27th May 2012

storm 28 °C
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Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)
My flight from KL was very smooth and as we flew over Ho Chi Minh I could see that this was a mixture of very developed city and rural tradition... lots of paddy fields and small villages surround the city!

When I arrived at the airport the visa process was simple, although I did have to run out to get money (8 million Vietnamese Dong- I am officially a billionaire) and retrieve my bag for the passport photos before they could issue it! I was glad though that the visa took up an entire page in my passport, and customs was a breeze! I even learnt my first Vietnamese phrase- 'Cam On' (pronounced 'Gahm Un') meaning Thank you! x

As soon as my bag had been scanned by security, I hear a deafening loud roar of thunder, which literally sounded like a gun shot through the sky and the heavens opened... I have NEVER seen rain like it! Welcome to Vietnam Skye! :-(
This is apparently common in the city, and has led to a revolutionary fashion item amongst Vietnamese and Tourists alike... The Rain Poncho! Super sexy and uber stylish, this hooded, long sleeved, plastic, calf-length robe is a MUST, and something I purchased the very next day in a Matrix-inspired black colour (coz I'm cool)!
Refusing to walk anywhere pre-poncho, I paid the USD10 for a cab to take me to my hostel, which is lovely and clean and located next to a very cool and traditional open food market: A small square where Vietnamese women gather early in the morning to set up their stalls with fruits, vegetables, meats, pickles/spices and LOTS of fish... needless to say it was a bit smelly, and I was a little distressed to see that the fish were so fresh that they were still flapping around in the trays, slowly suffocating! :-S but the locals ride their mopeds right up to the counters and everyone is shouting in Vietnamese, with the women wearing those triangular hats! Loved it!
That evening I settled into my hostel, watched 'Crazy Stupid Love' with some of the other guests and flicked through the hostels copy of 'Lonely Planet' to figure out what to do and where over the next 2.5 weeks!

The following morning I woke up early to explore the city... walking around at first was very daunting as the traffic here is CRAZY! the roads are sooo wide and there are literally thousands of cars, bikes and motorbikes coming at you from every direction... your only choice is to tread carefully and consistently look both ways!
I soon got my bearings with the help of a small map and managed to find Ben Thanh Market, which is a HUGE indoor market selling everything from dried fish to baby clothes! I wondered around, taking in the VERY funky smells of the Vietnamese food and the vast array of produce on sale, all the while being stroked by tiny women saying "Miss, Miss, You look in my shop"... an experience, especially when the rain started drumming on the roof, but I wasn't looking to buy anything yet and so just observed the hustle and bustle!

I then stopped off at a coffee shop on my way to see the Reunification Palace, and passed some awesome graffiti, some local women making brooms to sweep the road and some very squashed cockroaches;
The palace itself wasn't that impressive, and the guard gave me a map of what is inside (which I didn't fancy paying for) so I just look some snaps and continued on to the museum...

Vietnam War Remnant Museum
At a cost of only 60p to enter, this was well worth the trip and took up a large portion of my day... I hadn't really learned about the Vietnamese war before and so I went into the museum with a fresh head, ready to learn, but was also aware that this only represented one, very biased side, of the story...
The courtyard of the museum is full of replica tanks and US army planes, with facts about what ammunition they carry, how often they were used and roughly how many Vietnamese they are thought to have killed...
Next was a re-made jail where there were photos, extracts and facts about the torture methods used by the authorities to gain information from the POWs... I literally started to feel sick and had to leave this part for a few hours before returning to finish looking! Particularly gruesome were the photos of prisoners whose arms and legs had been deformed by consistent breaking from beatings and even having rusty nails hammered into them! As well as those left blinded or without eyes from high frequency light and heat ray exposure! There were also 'Tiger Cages', which were made from barbed wire that several prisoners were crammed into and left naked in the elements- blistering heat and rain/mud with no food or water and only enough room to crouch!

Once I got into the museum itself, the photos and descriptions didn't get much better... The top floor was a photo gallery titled 'Requiem':
This was my favourite gallery as I felt it was the least bias but really opened my eyes to the pressure of the conflict and the losses/tragedies for both sides! A lot of the emphasis was on the fact that the American soldiers killed a lot of civilian farmers etc whom they suspected as Viet Cong, but having learned more about the tunnels and traps/ general methods used by VC, I can sympathize as to how angry, frustrated and paranoid American men must have been fighting here!
I took a picture of some of my favourite photos from this gallery:
Here, the same young medic cries out for assistance when his pilot is killed, attempts to unsuccessfully revive a man on the ground and is later photographed crying on base;
This shows American soldiers using the wrapped bodies of their peers as a guard from incoming bullets;

Perhaps the most devastating issue with this war, is the use of chemical weapons by the American forces. Particularly, I learned about a compound called 'Agent Orange' which was sprayed over the farming land and has lead to generations of birth defects for the children of both Vietnamese and American soldiers who were exposed! The following is info on the chemical and a before and after shot of an area where Agent Orange was used:
The chemical caused severe deformation of fetuses, often being stillborn, or physically and mentally handicapped if the babies lived... some of these pictures are really horrible, but only scratch the surface of what I read and saw!
Being there really gave me a context for the Viet Cong war tunnels that I was to visit the next day...

That night I met some more people from my hostel and went out for dinner and a LOT of vodka... firstly Matt decided vodka slurpees was a good idea, so we all got a different flavour slurpee (like a slush puppy) and filled them with cheap vodka, before making a big table at a local bar, where vodka shots were 70p each and a can of sprite was 30p! Fast-forward 20+ shots and a VERY drunk Skye is attempting to type messages to Patrick and falling into bed with an alarm set for 6:50am! OOPIES!

With a RAGING hang over, I made it up for 7am, drank as much water as I could stomach and got on the bus next to a nice American guy called Jon, who put up with me being VERY quiet for the 2 hour drive to Tay Ninh, our first stop on the day tour, and whom I ended up traveling with for a while!
The tour guide for our trip was a HILARIOUS Vietnamese pensioner who introduced himself as 'Slim Jim' and LOVED cockney rhyming slang! He found any excuse to work it into a sentence and then preceded to explain why it made sense, e.g (in very broken english) "I hav a dog an bone in my sky rocket" (laughs hysterically) "you see... I have phone in my pocket" (pulls out phone and holds it up) "Dog an bone, becoz 'bone' rhyme wi 'phone', so I hav 'dog an bone', 'phone'" (looks very pleased with himself and points to phone a lot), "An 'sky rocket' is 'pocket' becoz 'pocket' rhyme wi 'rocket', so I have a 'dog an bone in my sky rocket', I hav phone in my pocket" (more laughing and pointing)... Yes Slim Jim, we know what cockney rhyming slang is! This continued for the WHOLE day, was very funny but glad that I only had to put up with it for a few hours! :-P

Cao Dai Holy See- Tay Ninh
Our first stop was a visit to the prayer service of the Vietnamese minority religion known as 'Cao Dai' (a mixture of Buddhism and Catholicism), where men and women dressed in white robes (apart from the higher orders who dressed in Blue, Red and Yellow) came together to pray/bow along to a choir for 40 mins up to 4 times a day!
The temple was very colourful and reminded me of the hindu temples I'd seen in Little India, Singapore... there were lots of carvings of dragons etc as well as the 'All Seeing Eye' (Cao Dai Symbol), painted bright colours;
The service itself was fairly boring... the men and women filed in from different entrances and sat in 'levels' to represent the seven steps towards Nirvana. There were some men and women who were in charge of organising the seating arrangement, which reminded me of teachers in assembly at school, who waft you along while you shift about uncomfortably on the floor! Once in position, the choir began to sing and every few minutes a gong would sound three times, and everyone would bow their heads to the floor and back up for each gong. I was kinda hoping that at any minute they would start breakdancing or something, but no... just bowing in silence, sitting cross legged, and then more bowing...

Once we had observed this practice from the balcony (which made us all feel very invasive as we were silently ushered upstairs and 'out the way'), we were taken for lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant... where I continued my struggle to find something edible! I thought you couldn't go very wrong with 'vegetable fried rice', but then it came out with a MASSIVE egg plonked on top! BOO!... I have learnt though that if you cover it in soy sauce, pretty much anything is bearable! :-P

Ben Dinh Tunnels - Cu Chi
Back on the bus, we travelled for another hour to visit the Viet Cong tunnels which were instrumental in communist victory during the war. Although I had heard about the tunnels before, I hadn't realised just how TINY and complicated they were... most consisted of three levels, with specially designed 'ventilation systems', wells for water and even official offices containing VC plans etc!
The tunnels were heavily bombed during the war, but provided excellent protection from raids/bombs (which is one of the reasons they're so narrow- to protect against shock waves- as Slim Jim put it 'The Smaller, The Safer') but as the network was so intricate and vast, they provided both an easy escape for VC members under attack, and a route to 'sneak up' on American soldiers. Combine this with the nasty boobie traps also set by the VC and it is easy to see why they were so successful!

The tunnels we visited were in an area of Cu Chi called Ben Dinh, which is in the jungle as so added to the atmosphere of the tunnels themselves. Firstly, Vietnamese men showed us the original tunnels, with a bit of history and we could take photos of this example, but were told they were too small for Western tourists, and so the actual tunnels we crawled through were 'King Size', and double the size in height and width;
Original tunnel entrance for snipers;
We were then showed examples of the boobie traps that were constructed throughout the jungle to capture American soldiers... a lot of them involved sharpened sticks or large nails;
Finally, we were shown the king sized tunnels to crawl through, which, even though bigger, were still VERY uncomfortable to move in- you had to crouch into a duck-like position, and use your hands to stabilize yourself! These tunnels had also been fitted with electric lighting to shepherd you along and prevent claustrophobia, but were still VERY hot and hard to breathe in! But I made it 100 metres!
1Picture_061.jpg1Picture_062.jpg1Picture_064.jpg (the last photo was an attempt to demonstrate how scrunched up I was getting through them, but I dont think it reflects the size very well)

Lastly, we were given Vietnamese tea in shot glasses and Tapioca (which is basically a potato-like root, which we dipped in crushes peanut/sugar power) as an example of what the VC lived on before heading back to Ho Chi Minh for dinner!
This time I tried 'Pho', which is a traditional Vietnamese soup, that often consists of a stock-base, meat and noodles, and it mostly eaten for breakfast. As I do not like noodles, I tried the 'Chilli Beef' without noodles, and instead was given some bread to dip inside. The soup itself was delicious, very watery but flavoured with lots of spices, but the beef was a bit raw and looked like carcass so I gave it away! The soup is served with a plate of leaves (we are not sure what plant) which taste a bit liquorish-y!

Mui Ne
After an early night, I was up at 6am again to catch the bus to the beach town of Mui Ne with Jon, this was our first experience of Vietnamese 'Sleeper' buses, which have rows of horizontal beds, instead of seats! This experience was MUCH more comfortable than the 20 hour seated journey in Brazil, but the beds are still made for Vietnamese-sized people, so you still had to scrunch your legs up a little! I did manage to get some extra sleep! (^_^)
We arrived at around 1pm and checked into our hotel, before heading to the beach! As I have just come from islands such as Sipadan and Siamil, I was not overly impressed with the quality of the beach itself, but we had a nice walk along the sea edge and watched lots of Russian tourists attempting to kite surf! There were also some fisherman in strange bowl-shaped plastic boats, which I thought were cool as well;
After our walk, we went back for a shower before renting a motorbike to visit the famous 'Red Sand Dunes', we were unsure about their exact location, but the bike ride was fun (Jon drove of course- as I would no doubt have killed myself) but we arrived just as the sun was setting and got some lovely photos! We then went for a drink on the way home and found that Vietnamese Rum was only 10,000 Dong for a HUGE shot (approx 30p)! BARGAIN! Dinner was shrimp curry- not technically Vietnamese, but DELICIOUS all the same!

Da Lat
Again, we had to be up early for our next bus (not really enjoying these early mornings), but as it was another 5 hour trip we wanted to make sure we didn't waste too much of the day! The scenery on the bus ride took us through the mountains so was very pleasent really;
On this bus we met Rachel and Bianca, a Manc and a Dutch girl who were also traveling North, and ended up spending the day with them!
We arrived in Da Lat around 1pm again and were conveniently dropped RIGHT outside our hotel, 'Pink Villa', where we had HUGE double beds and the owner, Mr Rot, was VERY friendly- he even took us out for a traditional (and INCREDIBLE) Vietnamese meal on our last night!
For the first day we decided to have a wonder and explore the area, and found a huge bakery where we bought cakes and Rachel tried these weird white dumplings which contain God-knows-what parts of pork with egg, all in a bread-like casing... YUCK!
We then went to the local market, where they were selling a LOT of Durian Fruit and it STANK! The more I am around that smell, the more it makes me want to vomit! There were some pretty flowers on sale though and a funny old woman who was selling fruit whilst smoking on what looked like a MASSIVE joint! (opium wouldn't surprise me here!) :-S. Also, a man with a cart selling bags of live fish- like goldfish at a fair, but with LOADS of them and hardly any water! Sad! As well as the usual jars of pickled everything and tacky souveniers!

From the market we walked passed the mini Eiffel Tower (Da Lat is supposed to be the mini-Paris of Vietnam), and along the lake, with these swan shaped paddle boats to the 'Flower Garden', where, just as we arrived, the heavens opened and it POURED with rain! Luckily we were able to find shelter in a cafe for an hour whilst we waited for it to calm down, and drank ginger tea (^_^) x
The flower garden itself wasn't very impressive- kinda reminded me of Milbrook Park (which you don't have to pay for!)- but there was a Vietnamese family there who LOVED our white skin and Bianca's Arian looks and so wanted to take loads of photos with us! Cue some very strange but funny moments, and some colourful ponchos for Jon and Rachel! :-D
The rain hadn't quite let up and we were starting to get cold! (actually a nice feeling after being in this heat for so long) so we hopped into a taxi back to our hotel so we could shower and warm up for dinner... I even got to wear my leggings and the poncho I bought in Uruguay as the temperature was so much cooler in the mountains!
We went to a local restaurant which was recommended to us by our hotel and I ate 'Food Over Rice' (actual wording from menu), which was chicken breast, green beans and onion with a gravy-type sauce... a little bland but reminded me of Chicken Tama Rice which I often order at Wagamammas!
After dinner we attempted to find a bar (apparently not easy in Da Lat)... there were two places which looked promising, that had rows of tables and chairs full of Vietnamese people on either side, they were really dark with loud techno music and green lasers flashing across the room... so we walked up (rather confidently given the number of locals!) and sat down... but as soon as we asked for beer, the waitress looked very confused and said "We no have", the locals then all began to stare and when the waitress took us over to her 'fridge' and pointed inside, offering Red Bull as the strongest thing she had, it dawned on us that all the locals were drinking tea or coffee, and that apparently, it is normal to do this with strobe lighting, lasers and pumping tunes in Vietnam! VERY embarrassingly, we walked out!
Managed to get a drink at a restaurant where we were joined by these two very strange French men who had also been on the bus from Mui Ne... they kept talking about sex and making rude innuendos, and later became REALLY inappropriately flirty to the point of annoying! Apart from them it was a good night though, but early to bed as we had to be up early for our bike tour...

Mr Rot's Village Tour
Due to his moonlighting as a Vietnamese folk singer in a local bar, Mr Rot (the hotel owner) was VERY hung over and had hurt his voice on the morning of our tour, so instead his sister was our guide. Her name was 'Son' (pronounced 'sun') and she was a very giggly 26 year old, who also liked to sing (badly!) the same one line of a Vietnamese love song over and over! To start the tour she made us all join hands and sing a kinda of welcome song while she swung our hands around and then we had to do a hands-in-the-middle-YAY! thing at the end... she was sweet and spoke VERY good English, but was a little immature at times!
I wasn't comfortable riding a bike, so I went on the back of Son's moped while Jon and the German couple followed behind us. The drive was AMAZING through the Vietnamese Mountains... soo green and beautiful, it was one of the best parts of the day!
Our first stop was a cricket farm, where we were able to try the crickets fried with lemon grass, they looked pretty weird but tasted great, just very crunchy in texture and their legs tended to get stuck in your teeth! :-P
Next we continued the drive until we reached a local village and went to the market... this was very authentic, with live ducks and chickens in cages, massive tables of animal body parts (they literally eat EVERYTHING- even the eyes!), as well as fresh fruit and veg. I was a little disturbed to see a chopping board with a big, bloody fish that had been cut in half, but was still attempting to breathe and thus VERY much alive! Son told us about some customs/traditions, including the burning of paper clothing/accessories at funerals for use in the afterlife, and a local delicacy which involves hard boiling fertilized duck/chicken eggs and then eating the half developed bird fetus whole! YUCK!
Back on the bikes, we drove to a silk farm to see how they make silk scarves/clothing... here we ate a silk worm once it had been boiled to get the silk strands from it's cacoon, and that was DISGUSTING! It was a big maggot-like creature that popped warm watery juice into your mouth when you bit into it, and had the vague flavour of potato! I was expecting a prawn-like texture so was horrified!
Next we went to a waterfall, which was pretty, but the water was brown :-( (as it always seems to be here), we walked through a cave to get underneath it and take photos, then drove further into the hills to have lunch and try some local fruit! Son also told us to be cautious of the body language and hand gestures we use as they translate to different things in Vietnamese and often offend people!
After lunch we went to visit the hill tribe people, who are very poor and it was interesting to see how they lived, but also felt a bit awkward! LOTS of beautiful children running around and baby piglets as well! Son explained how the marriage systems work in this country and then we left to begin our LONG drive back to Da Lat... stopping on the way to peek at some Magic Mushrooms being farmed and for ice cream!
On the way back to town we stopped for ice cream and went to see a 'mushroom factory'... turned out they were the 'magic' kind!
Picture_256.jpgPicture_257.jpgOnce we got back to town, we went to look at the 'Crazy House' which is a kitsch hotel with weird architecture and odd rooms.
That evening, to apologize for not being able to take us on the tour Mr Rot took us all for a meal (as I mentioned above) and to watch him sing... GREAT day had by all! x

Nha Trang
ANOTHER early bus to Nha Trang, where Jon and I stayed at the Backpackers hostel! This was a very tourist-y place, again full of Russians! So think Magaluf with lots of beach-time and drunken Brits abroad and you'll have a decent picture in mind! As far as cultural things to do, there were none, so it was nice to let our hair down and have a bit of a 'holiday' for a few days!
At the hostel, Jon and I met Alex, a lovely guy from San Fransisco who was travelling south and meeting his friends within the next few days. We all went for a walk on the beach, where there were LOTS of locals in their pants splashing around in the sea and covering themselves in sand once the sun had gone down! Then we went to a bar and met up with the girls, who caught a later bus! Bianca and Rachel had met Charlotte (Scottish) and Kim (London) Picture_281.jpg on their bus as well as hilariously funny sisters Kirsty and Leanne (Bristol) Picture_282.jpg so we all went for cocktails (Buy 2 get 1 free- NOT 2 for 1, and not actually the 3rd free, but for $1- very confusing drink deals!) and this was where I was able to Skype home!
After a few 'rockets' we wandered into 'Why Not?' bar which became our hot spot for the rest of our time in Nha Trang! Cheap buckets and good music... so a LOT of dancing (but very very sweaty... as you can see from our hair!)
In an effort to help the sweaty hair situation, Alex became my hairdresser and tried to help me fashion a new 'travelling look':
The night ended with a YUMMY sausage baguette from a street vender... initially we were concerned but NOM NOM!

Posted by sdestecroix 04:21 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

✰ Malaysia = Scuba Skye! ✰

Monday 23rd April - Sunday 6th May 2012

sunny 40 °C
View Skye 2012 on sdestecroix's travel map.

Kuala Lumpur
Arrived in KL after a pleasant flight and found that the transport system here is very easy and efficient! Paid RM8 for an Aerobus to take me to KL Sentral Station and then RM1.30 to get the tube to Masjid Jamek, from which I walked the 5 mins to Reggae Mansion!
I love that their subway system is overground, with lines running on stilts high above the city, which gives you a great view of KL! The people are all lovely and very friendly so I felt safe, with mostly Muslim, Indian and Chinese cultures.

Reggae Mansion is a three story hostel that was made from a converted mansion! Its very clean with great food but a LOT of stairs!
I was in an 8-bed dorm, where the beds are set into individual pods, for which you need a ladder to get into... they are VERY high up! but once you're inside you have your own nearly-double bed, plug socket, light and curtain so you can shut yourself away if you want to;
Here I met Darren, a Scottish guy who is teaching English in China and was taking a break in KL, I got on really well with him, although I originally thought he was gay as he is pretty camp! A great laugh!
We went straight out together to see the Petronas Towers (also known as the Twin Towers), which are the tallest buildings in KL and owned by a petrol company "Petronas"... was quite difficult to get a photo with the top of the towers in view, so Darren and I spent quite a while lying on the pavement! The sun was beginning to set though, so the final photos did turn out well;
We then went for dinner and ice cream (NOM NOM) at the Haagen Daz cafe! Strawberry Cheesecake and Caramel Biscuit ! (^_^) before heading back to the mansion for drinks on the roof terrace... SOOO happy when I found out they had a Chilean red wine! :-D

Seven Wonders of KL
I woke up early the next morning for a city tour of KL, we had breakfast in the courtyard- where they had CEREAL!!! yay!!- and then on to a minibus with a very nice driver! Here I met Steve (another Scottish guy)!!
The first stop was a Buddhist temple called 'Thean Hou' which was on top of a VERY steep hill (that the minibus struggled with), and the gardens were decorated with statues showing the Chinese calendar and the personality traits of each animal... This year is the year of the Dragon (which also happens to be my sign), but I also found Mum's, Dad's, Ria's/Jade's and Patrick's...

Next we went to the district of Little India, which was MUCH better than the one in Singapore as they had proper Indian decorations, Indian music playing from shops (which is a bit weird and tinny) and architecture that reflected the Hindu Gods!

We then went to the Mosque named 'Masjid Negara', which has a capacity for over 50,000 Muslims to pray and is located centrally in KL... the roof of the building is a star shape that can be seen very clearly when taking the subway or driving through KL.
Here we had to put on the traditional Muslim clothes to cover our bodies, with purple robes and headscarves for the ladies;

The museum/City Gallery and Freedom park where quite boring really... basically a small room which told the story of how KL got it's independence from the British Empire with photographs and a small scale model of modern KL... but they did have a cool 'I <3 KL' sign out the front! There was also a small factory in there which made life-like miniature structures of global icons out of very thin wood!

After this short visit we went to the Palace to see where the Sultan and his wife live... our driver told us that in Malaysia, the royal family consists of 9 Sultans- one from each Malaysian state, who take it in turns to rule for 5 years at a time before they pass it on... it is a circular system which means that the role of 'king' cannot be passed from Father to Son (even in the event of a death), so each Sultan must wait 45 years before the crown is returned to him... the current King is the only one to have been Sultan twice as he is now in his 80's (with a 40 year old wife!)
The Palace had guards much like those you'd see at Buckingham, who weren't allowed to move... I felt more sorry for the poor horses!
The yellow flag flying in the front indicates that the Sultan was at home! (shame we couldn't go in for tea and scones!) :-P

Next up was a war memorial, which was basically just a big pillar stating the names of the Malaysians who had died in the war for independence, as well as a very large statue of some British soldiers mascaraing Malaysian men... awkward!

We then went to the 'Batu Caves' which is a Hindu Temple that is located inside a large cave, the entrance of which is 272 steps into the air!
Steve and I had a 'before' 'during' and 'after' photo, once we had reached the top... they were divided into sections of 17 steps which made it easier as we got to rest for a few seconds each time... tiring in 40 degree sunshine! Plus we had thieving monkeys to contend with!
The cave itself reminded me of the 'Caves of Drach' that we went to see, although less impressive as this one was only small... they had set up little Nativity-esque figurines of Hindu gods into the sides of the cave walls, but apart from that it was just a big empty space... I guess possibly more impressive when it's filled with people!?

Our final stop for the day was a Coffee and Chocolate factory! YAY! where we sampled some of the local merchandise, my favourite of which was the 'Tirimasu' chocolate balls! I also got the opportunity to try Durian Fruit, which is the famous smelly vomit-flavoured fruit that is common in Malaysia... I figured that covered in chocolate the taste might be more bearable but I was WRONG! It is THE MOST disgusting thing you could taste! They weren't wrong when they likened the flavour to rotten custard! YUCK!

That evening, Darren, Steve and new friends Rory (from Galway) and Faraz (guy I'd met in Bali), all had a night out, starting on the roof terrace with a LOT of wine... Great fun!
Finally made it to bed at 6am, and thought my flight to Tawau was at 12pm... nope, it was at 4pm! I really need to learn to check my flights before hand! At least I didn't actually go to the airport this time! :-P
When I returned to KL, I also had dinner with Faraz at an AMAZING Italian restaurant that Alister (from Jakarta) recommended to me... was SOOOOOO GOOD!! Officially putting ciabatta bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil on the 'home-coming shopping list' (mother, take note!)

Mabul with Simon!
Wednesday 25th April - Friday 4th April

Flew to Tawau, and caught up on some MUCH NEEDED sleep on the plane... from the airport it was then a 2 hour bus ride to Semporna, during which the taxi man kept coughing violently or talking on his phone!
Simon was there though when I arrived with a BIG smile and an even bigger cuddle at Scuba Junkie HQ! We grabbed a pizza and caught up on gossip/ whats been happening in our lives since we were in Thailand! Then had an early night as we were up at 6:30am to get the ferry over to Mabul...

Siamil Island
After breakfast we made the 45 min boat trip from Semporna to Mabul to drop off our luggage and then went straight over to the island of Siamil for a day of sunshine and snorkeling!
At this point I wasn't sure if I would be doing the scuba diving course, as it is expensive and I didn't know if I would like being amongst the fishes... but after Siamil, sampling the INCREDIBLE marine life that was just in the shallows I was certain I wanted to learn to dive! Twice that day I went snorkeling at 2 different sloping coral reefs and saw some beautiful things! My favourites were actually a type of urchin called 'Savigny's Sea Urchin' which were black with long sharp-looking spikes, that had incredible flecks of electric blue in the centre! It was here I was also introduced to more of the 'common' tropical fish that are found in this part of the world:
Two Lined and Rainbow Monocle Bream
Bicolour Parrot Fish
Blue and Horned Sea Stars
Moorish Idol Fish
Yellow Striped Fuselier and Yellow tail Surgeon Fish

On top of all that, the beaches where we stopped for lunch and the scenery of the island from the boat were INCREDIBLE! I even made friends with a hermit crab when sunbathing on the beach! A GREAT day!

Back at Mabul, I checked into the Scuba Junkie Resort and met my room mates Eric and Philip from Sweden, who were AWESOME and who I got on VERY well with, spending lots of the week together! They are both Dive Master Trainees, who qualified the same day I left! (^_^)

Open Water Course... aka 'The Birth of Scuba Skye!'
Having made up my mind, (and begged Mum for money), I signed up for my Open Water Diver course (OWC) which consisted of three days learning... the first day was a theory day, during which our instructor 'Scuba Steve'... a 40-odd year old surfery dude... took us through the science-y stuff behind diving and the safety techniques, procedures and risks you need to know about.
Each section (5 in total) had a quiz at the end to monitor your progress and then there was a final exam and two days of Confined Water and Open Water dives to practice and use the new skills... all of which, I am proud to say, I ACED!
The only area I think I wasn't completely perfect first time on was with my equalization... as you descend further under water, the pressure changes cause your ears discomfort, so you need to equalize the pressure by holding your nose and blowing, or swallowing etc and for some reason, my left ear doesn't like doing it! But Kev later taught me a good trick that meant I was MUCH better and quicker at getting to the maximum depth by the end of the week (18-20m)
On my first OWD, I saw a MASSIVE turtle, easily the size of a dinner table at a site called 'AWAS'... I had NO idea they got that big! Was really beautiful and Steve helped me to settle on the sand and get close enough to kiss it... amazing!
I also saw my first 'Fire Dart Fish' which was adorable and stunning, so worth a google too!
With a score of 50/50 on my final exam... I was officially SCUBA SKYE! <3

On Friday night Simon also took me to a fancy resort for dinner, the rooms where suspended over the crystal clear water and were all made of wooden huts... we had BBQ fish with LOTS of yummy desserts! (^_^) AND... look at the name of the boat!! :-P x
After my course, I took a day off to explore the island, sunbathe and have a break from all the salt water... the weather was GLORIOUS although I think it was actually too hot to sunbathe! (never thought I'd say that!) as it easily reached upwards of 40 degrees!
The villages weren't so picturesque, as there was a lot of rubbish but the houses were cool and the children are all BEAUTIFUL! I even saw them setting up for a Muslim wedding! :-P

Sipadan- One of the worlds Top 5 Dive Sites!
Tuesday 1st May 2012
Simon managed to wangle me on to the boat for Sipadan, which is a 4-dive day at various sites around the island... up at 5:30am to set off though, but WELL worth it!
I had to pretend to be a Dutch girl named Gurda Straanthof in order to use her permit, which was funny! We had four amazing dives that day with Uncle Kev as our Dive Master! I was SOOO lucky that the first day of diving I do as an official scuba diving was in Sipadan, apparently I will be hard pressed to top it in future!
The first site was 'South Point' where we saw a lot of white tipped sharks, and, as this was a shallow reef, we also saw a lot of the beautifully coloured tropical fish! The second dive was at a site called 'Mid Reef' where I swam in the middle of a giant school of Shevron Barracuda! There were literally over 1000 of them circling round me! I LOVED IT! We also went 'Into the Blue', where you swim away from the reef and out into the greater ocean... after about 5 mins you are completely surrounded by nothing but blue, which is a strange sensation that can be disorientating! I was just preying not to see the shadow of a great white emerging next to me! :-P Here I also saw actual 'Nemo' fish! they're sooo small and super cute!
We then stopped for lunch on the island, where I sat in the sunshine and my bum made an adorable heart shaped wet patch on the log, so I took a photo!
The last two sites were 'Barracuda Point' (with a very strong current) and 'Hanging Gardens' where we saw Grey Reef sharks!
On the boat ride home the cherry on top of an amazing day was seeing a pod of over 100 dolphins swimming next to the boat and jumping SOO far out the water! Incredible! xx

That evening, we all went to watch the sunset at a bar on the other side of the island, but instead we saw an INCREDIBLE thunder storm over the ocean... sipping on Tiger beer and watching the forked lightening was bliss!

Another day of diving, this time with Scuba Steve, and Phil came in the water with us to shadow which was cool!
Firstly we went to Kapalai which a dive site near a VERY expensive resort in Mabul... USD400 per night! Thats NOT including diving!... This site had lots of artificial structures built on the ocean floor, making a little underwater village of fishies!
Was a great experience to improve my buoyancy as I had to maneuver around the structures, but Phil was impressed with how well I did! (^_^)
Steve was my favourite instructor to dive with as he has a great eye for spotting lots of little, rare creatures and points them out really clearly! I think I had a bit of a school girl crush on him by the end of the week... he was just SOOO cool! haha
This is the first sight where I saw Nudibranchs (colourful TINY little slug-like creatures), Orangutan crabs (again TINY and covered in orange fluff!) and Frog fish, which are very rare in the world;
At the second dive site, 'Lobster Wall' we even saw a banded sea snake, which is highly venomous, and a huge peacock mantis shrimp (which has a very funny symbol underwater... PeaCOCK (make penis sign), ManTITS (tweak nipples) Shrimp (usual sign for shrimp)... Steve loved it when he found one!)
It was the third dive of the day which was the special one though... because at 'Ribbon Valley' we saw a BLUE RING OCTOPUS!! :-D which is one of the rarest creatures you can see, most divers never have and even the dive masters at Scuba Junkie had to go on hundreds-thousands of dives before they saw their first, and I saw it on my 11th! LUCKY ME! It's only about 3 inches big and when teased with a stick the blue rings on it's skin flushed to an amazing electric colour! SOOO cool!
ALSO, My favourite fish of all is a Yellow Cube Box Fish, and on the same dive... I FOUND ONE!! (not Steve... ME!).... which made it even more special! (^_^)
An INCREDIBLE day, and such a massive high! Ended brilliantly with band night, where Eric, Phil and I played this amazing game called 'Jungle Speed' where you have to match colours and shapes and be the first to grab a baton in the centre of the table... had to explain but SOOO much fun to play, and super competitive! (and we all know how much I like winning)
Lots of drinking (Mabul Mai Tai's) and bed at 3am, meant another day off on Thursday to recover and enjoy the last bit of sunshine!

Friday was my last day and luckily Simon's ear infection had cleared up so I was able to dive with him! (^_^)
This time he took a camera and so I was able to get some photos of some of the things I'd seen, as well as me in my dive gear actually DOING IT! :-P
The last dive of the day was at AWAS again (fitting that my first and last were at the same site!) where I got to see giant cuttle fish mating and laying eggs, as well as a giant barracuda, cow fish, dwarf lion fish, blue spotted sting rays and a peacock razor fish! (SO CUTE)
THANK YOU! Simon for a truly incredible week... I didn't want to leave and I will DEFO be back to do more diving in future...

Posted by sdestecroix 19:51 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

♡ Singapore! ♡

Monday 16th April - Monday 23rd April 2012

all seasons in one day 25 °C
View Skye 2012 on sdestecroix's travel map.

After my incredibly blonde moment of arriving at the airport two days early for my flight, Singapore flight take two was MUCH more successful! Despite being delayed an hour, I managed to finish reading "The Hunger Games" on my kindle, and was there in no time. The weather on approach was very cloudy and in all honesty, I had NO idea which island was Singapore from the air!
The airport however was very nice and super clean... most of the people here speak English so getting to my hostel was easy, I grabbed a quick hot chocolate from Starbucks and paid $9 for a transfer bus that had British Radio!

Arriving at River City Inn, I was greated with 4 floors of stairs! EEk, not so fun with a big back pack, but once I made it up I was pleasently surprised... the owners were VERY nice (if a little anal about the 'no shoes indoors' policy) and there was a hilarious Indonesian cleaner who we think was a little bit simple as she giggled like a child 99% of the time and was a little strange!
The first night I was placed in bunk bed number 1 of a 26 bed dorm (the biggest I've stayed in so far) and unfortunately, I was on top of the WORST snorer in the history of snorers... officially nicknamed Snory McSnoryson, he was like a train and managed to wake EVERYONE in the dorm up! Now we all know I sleep very lightly, and when combined with a day of travelling, I was NOT impressed... I attempted to fashion myself some ear plugs out of wet tissue, but the vibrations of his noise still prevented me from sleeping... I then tried to put my Ipod in and listen to music to drown out the noise, and alas, still I could not sleep... so after about 3 EXTREMELY patient hours, I decided the only thing I could do was politely wake him up and ask him to roll onto his side, which did stop the snoring (HUZZAH!)... for about 3 minutes! (BOO HOO!)
Needless to say a terrible night of tossing and turning and a VERY annoyed Skye demanding to be moved to the other side of the room in the morning! Luckily there had been several complaints about him so they were happy to oblige, and the rest of my time there was spent sleeping soundly! (^_^)
That morning, I was delighted to see that the free breakfast was not only served until 12pm, but also included peanut butter and jam to make my new favourite toasties! plus a banana (or three) to keep me going... Singapore is too expensive to buy lunch AND dinner, so breakfast was often large! It was during breakfast that I met Caryn, a LOVELY girl from London who was staying in Singapore for a week also and we decided to have a wonder together to keep each other company.

Located right next to the CBD, we walked past a very large Standard Charter building before we got to Chinatown, of which I took a photo for mother dear, and her boss Helen...
Chinatown itself was very quaint, with lots of Asian restaurants, and shops selling Chinese produce and traditional Chinese nick-naks, I bought myself a pair of yellow kiddies chop sticks, as I can't use the actual grown up version and I figured this might prevent starvation now that I am officially in Asia!
We attempted to follow Caryn's map, but ended up just wondering, seeing both Buddhist and Hindu temples, which are very conflicting in their appearance but actually are very close in religious beliefs, apparently Buddhists are welcome to pray in Hindu temples and vice versa!

The Buddhist temples were very traditional Chinese style, with lots of Red and Gold and ornate architecture, statues, insense burners and offerings of fruit, coconut milk and oil scattered around:

The Hindu temples by contrast were very colourful and seemed quite modern, the roofs were decorated with brightly coloured statues of the various Hindu Gods and many of them seemed to also be kitchens, where Hindu families would sit and eat;

After we walked around for a few hours, it started to rain and so we went into a restaurant for lunch (and yummy ice tea in a can) so I could try out my new chop sticks.
That evening we met a few new people back at the hostel, and were invited to join them for dinner in Little India (another area of Singapore) by one of the hostel residents who not only paid for everyone's dinner but also turned out to be the one and only... SNORY MCSNORYSON!!!
His name is Si, and he was rather odd... insisting that he paid for all our meals but then not really talking to anyone for the entire evening!? I had a Chicken Biryani which was OK, but pretty cold by the time I got it, and the chicken was of the carcass variety, so I'm glad it only cost him $5!
On the way home, us girls popped into an ice cream shop called 'The Marble Slab' where I had my first heavenly taste of my new ice cream addiction (and about the only thing I shall REALLY miss about Singapore)... Red Velvet Ice Cream... hard to explain, but imagine the taste of cake batter and cheesecake, with a hint of coco powder, in an ice cream with red colouring... A-MAY-ZING!!

The next day Caryn and I had another day to explore a different region of the city and decided to go back to Little India, it was the only gorgeously sunny day that we had while we were here, and again, it was spent walking around and looking at temples and buildings, as evidentally there isn't much else to do in Singapore!
Again, there were Hindu and Buddhist temples, but this Buddhist one was a more modern style, with large tiger statues outside and a HUGE statue of Buddha in the middle of the temple!
We paid 50cents each to spin the wheel of fortune and read about the life of Buddha and how he came to be.
That evening, we went to Dhoby Gaut station on the MRT to watch 'The Hunger Games' at the cinema... having finished the first book I was anxious to see the film, and it was lovely to go to the cinema again!

Sentosa Island- Universal Studios
Early rise on Thursday morning for a fun-fuelled day at Universal Studios on Sentosa Island... again, a fairly expensive activity, but a GREAT day!
We got the shuttle bus from our hostel and had the obligatory photo in front of the spinning statue before getting in kid-mode with face painting ready for a day of cartoon characters, rides and smiles! Turns out we were officially the only two people (of any age) with their faces painted, but we wore it proudly! :-P
The best ride of the day was a BattleStar Galactica roller coaster, which made me yearn for another day out at Thorpe Park! We also went on a cool 3D Transformers ride, which didnt really move you anywhere, but the graphics they used made it seem very real, so that was ace! There was some hilariously poor acting with a Monster Rock show and a WaterWorld show, but they were included in the price and were entertaining enough!
Unfortunately at around 2pm there was a VERY sad cloud right over our heads and the loudest thunder I have ever heard which means the rides were closed and so we went home! That night we ordered take away pizza and watched 'Water for Elephants' on Caryn's laptop!

Friday meant I had to move out of the hostel and went across the road to 'City Backpackers' hostel, which is NO WHERE NEAR as nice, but was only 8 beds per dorm and still offered peanut butter and jam for breakfast, so I guess beggers cant be choosers!
We decided that Friday would be a good night to get dolled up and venture out to some of the local bars along the river front, as well as sampling the famous 'Singapore Sling' cocktail at Raffles.
We spent the day shopping, and were slightly disheartened by the sizes over here... Asian women really are TINY and attempting to get my boobs into their dresses was just not going to happen! :-( Nothing like needing an XL to make you feel good about yourself! :-P
(at this point I should confess that I am slightly worried I might be blaming the 'Asian woman' sizing, and being in complete denial that I might not fit into the dresses as I may now just be, fat... but we wont dwell on it! :-S)

Raffles was a lovely hotel, the bar which served our cocktails (at $30 each! OUCH) was strange though, the ventilation system consisted of a row of hand fans attached to a pole which swung them from side to side, (at no where near the neccessary rate to create any kind of breeze), and the floor was COVERED in monkey nut shells... it seemed some sort of tradition that everyone in the bar just throw their peanut shells on the floor once they'd cracked them, and no one made any attempt to clean them up!? Bizarre!
The cocktail itself was nice enough, didnt taste very alcoholic considering what it costs, so we only stayed for one before heading to a backpacker bar on the riverside! Much more our price range!
Here, we were chatted up by two men, both named Phil, one of whom was married, and neither of whom had anything of merit to say!? VERY weird and VERY awkward!
So we left and went to Smiths fish and chip bar, which had Union Jack flags everywhere and served proper chips... albeit for $11!!

Saturday was POURING with rain, all day and so Caryn and I just chilled out at the hostel, reading books, watching TV and being very lazy! We did venture out around lunch time to find some food, where I took some photos of the plastic food plates in the window of the restaurants that they use to advertise their dishes... I have NO idea who would look at a plate of plastic food and think... MMM, I'll have that! but perhaps the Asians do!?
There is also a cute little balloon world in the lobby at Castle Quay mall with impressive balloon creatures that I took some snaps of;

On my last day I intended to go to the Marina Bay Sands hotel, which is a very fancy three block sky scraper hotel on top of which sits a large boat (which actually looks more like a Tube Train) that consists of an infinity pool and overlooks the entire city... supposedly amazing, but the weather was crap and it cost $20 to get up there, which didnt seem worth it to me!

All in all, Singapore has been pleasent, but in all honesty, there isnt much to do and there is even less when you're on a budget... it is SOOO expensive here! If you were working I think it'd be a lovely place to live, as it is very clean and well organised/ efficient, the people are very friendly and the weather, although tempremental, is always warm!
I have to say though, the only thing I am REALLY going to miss is the Red Velvet Ice Cream **Sigh** xx

Posted by sdestecroix 03:51 Archived in Singapore Comments (1)

✰ Terima Kasih Bali! ✰ (part 2)

26th March 2012 - Monday 16th April 2012

sunny 30 °C
View Skye 2012 on sdestecroix's travel map.

Our first stop on the cycling part of the tour was a visit to a traditional Balinese village house, which was own by one of the local families that the tour company sponsers... evidentally the tour company works closely with the local villages and sponsers several families, so it's nice to know our money was going somewhere worth while!
We were told that each 'front door' consists of a narrow archway which is meant to deflect access from evil spirits. The streets are not named in village areas but a sensus was carried out meaning that each doorway is marked by the part of the country they live in, the name of the man (head of the household) and number of people in his family... where there is more than one family living in the same house, both men's names appear on the sign.
Inside we found cockrels kept in wicker baskets and were told that these were for cock fighting (as mentioned earlier), apparently this is a traditional that is carried out officially in temples as part of a religious tradition, but is also common in underground gambling... it also explains why there are so many annoying cockrels in Bali! According to Froggie, the cockrels are kept in small basket cages in the sunlight to aggitate them as well as having their crowns cut off and fed to them to make them cannibles and thus 'strong' :-S
The layout of the home consists of various open rooms, which are raised according to the heirachy of the family... grandparents/elders bedrooms are the highest and outside of this room lies a rock which is known as the 'placenta stone', as every time there is a birth in the family, the placenta is brought back to the home and buried under the rocks... left side for boys, right for girls... then if the baby cried in the night or is upset offerings are placed on the rocks to calm the child! This way the families are very closely linked, with the placenta of brothers and sisters of all generations kept together.
We also learnt that each family has it's own temple and ancestoral shrine where they keep the ashes of loved ones who have passed away. It is the job of the youngest boy to tend the family temple and shrine. There are a lot of temples in Bali, as each village has three, one for Brahma (the creator) at the start of the village, one for Vishnu (the protector) in the centre, and one for Shiva (the destroyer) at the end, where the village cremations take place, as well as all the family temples in individual homes.

Next we cycled through the village and the paddy fields that surround it, taking in the beautiful scenery before we stopped at a harvesting feild to help the local workers with the rice. These were mainly older man and women who could no longer work in good jobs in the cities... Froggie told us that once a young man is married, he moves back to the family home with his new wife and regains his place in the tradition of the community. These farm workers were easily in their 60's and lifting 40kg bags of rice onto their heads, and working hard labour from sunrise to sunset!

We then cycled to the "Rasta tree", a holy tree (symbolised by the white cloth that wraps it) which is over 400 years old! Here we found cute local children waving to us as we passed, shouting "hello" and playing football... they didnt seem to like having their photo taken though!
After the rasta tree it was lunch time and we were treated to another buffet banquet of delicious Tempe, Mie Goreng and Chicken Satay with Balinese veg! NOM NOM!
A FANTASTIC day and one of my favourites on my travels so far! (^_^) x

Spa Day!
When we arrived in Ubud, Yas and Cat had told us quickly about an AMAZING spa day that they had at Bumi Bali, a hotel and spa just up the road from our bungalows where you could have a full body massage, facial, hair treatment and scalp massage, manicure and pedicure, all for only 20 quid! Needless to say we were sold and booked it for Sunday 8th April (Easter Sunday) after what we thought would be a difficult day of hard cycling... :-P

We had a nice morning in the sunshine before meeting at the spa at 1pm for our 5 hour treatment pakage... firstly our feet were washed and we were taken for our massage, where the masseuse actually got up on the bed next to me, kneeling over my back to apply amazing pressure and then used scented oils to massage, stretch, beat and bend my body into relaxed oblivion... She literally massaged from the tip of my toes to the top of my head and by the time the hour was up I felt like a well tenderized joint of beef! HEAVEN!
And that was just the beginning, next was the hair treatment, where they first washed your hair with shampoo, massaging your scalp before brushing refridgerated conditioner through it, which reminded me of being little when mum used to wash my hair... they were so gentle that I nearly fell asleep, and then they gave me another head massage and neck massage before putting a steamer onto my hair while the conditioner sunk in. They then rinsed and dried my hair, adding hair oils as they did, so that it was silky smooth!
Next was the facial, cleansed, toner, moisturiser, eyebrow plucking!! and a peel mask that left my skin clear and glowing. Finally, the manicure and pedicure, of which I am officially a convert! It was my first pedicure ever as I didnt think I would like people playing with my feet, but it felt amazing and they were SOOO clean when they'd finished that I am going to HAVE to purchase a pedicure kit when I'm home and start taking proper care of my feet! I decided against nail varnish as it would only chip and the sunlight has made my nails look very healthy recently...

Bali Marine and Safari Park

One of my friends at work had told me that she went to Bali zoo and got to hold a baby orangutan, and thus this was instantly a MUST for both me and Emily! The park in general was pretty average... I was glad that the animals were not kept in enclousures, but were allowed a large space to roam freely within the compound, however, the weird "animal show" which consisted of cats and guinae pigs!!?? and the rushed 15 min "safari" made it a little over priced! Never the less, we DID get to have a proper cuddle with the 'rang tang' and some great photos so it was 100% worth it!

We also got to see Siberian White Tigers which I think are my FAVOURITE animal ever! So that made it great for me too... unfortunately we werent allowed to get that close to them, and could only see them through glass windows so the photos arent great... but they were GORGEOUS and SOOO big!!

For the next few days we chilled out by the pool, catching some rays as we knew this would be our last opportunity to sunbathe for a while, and my tan is fading FAST! In the afternoon, we went to the local market and found a great ice cream shop which sold Ferraro Roche Ice Cream! YUM! and I bought mum a present from Bali and myself a pretty ring!

We then travelled back down to Kuta to get our flights, me to Jakarta and Emily to Thailand...

Friday 13th April - Monday 16th April 2012
I arrived in Jakarta in the early afternoon and was shocked by how different it was to Bali... it's a very big city with a lot of traffic and people, but I managed to get myself on the bus to the central Gambir Station and a tuk tuk ride of doom to my hostel (Six Degrees).
The tuk tuk was easily about 80 years old and the driver wasn't much younger! He smoked the whole way and nearly crashed about 5 times! There is a very clear heirachy of traffic in Indonesia and I didn't fancy tuk tuk's chances against Bus or Taxi, but apparently the driver likes to live dangerously!! SOOO glad I made it to the hostel alive!
Six degrees was a GREAT hostel, with a big cinema area and a massive selection of DVDs, plus it was run by two English men and their Balinese wives, and so they had proper bread for their toast/sandwiches and a continuous supply of tea with real mugs!! YES!!
It was here that I met Alister, an Italian who was LOVELY and we hung out for a few days after my airport error with the Singapore flight! On Sunday we went for a wonder around the city and ended up in a HUGE shopping mall, with designer shops and a cheesecake boutique, where we were treated like celebrities and given complimentary lattes, just for being western! Bizzare! (But Delicious!) x
I've really enjoyed Bali and think I would definitely come back to explore Indonesia some more! The cycling tour was a real highlight, as was the Gili Isles, and of course, my orangutan cuddle! :-D x

Next stop Singapore... xx

Posted by sdestecroix 07:27 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

✰ Terima Kasih Bali! ✰

26th March 2012 - Monday 16th April 2012

sunny 30 °C
View Skye 2012 on sdestecroix's travel map.

After the unexpected costs incurred through flights in Australia, I was looking forward to arriving in Asia where everything is cheap!!
My flight from Darwin went smoothly, although I had to satisfy myself with nothing but a packet of salt and vinegar crisps to eat, as evidentally AirAsia make you pay for anything food-wise and I had specifically made sure I'd spent all my Aussie Dollars so as not to add to my collection of wasted money in varying currencies!
None the less, the staff on the plane were lovely and I smiled as they put their hands in prayer and bowed their heads in greeting... A lovely Asian custom that made me nostalgic for Thailand days!

When we touched down in Bali the weather was warm and I was instantly emersed back into the Eastern culture and customs of religous offerings, incense, friendly smiles/bowing, symbols for writing and new languages! After discussing with Emily (from Byron Bay) where she was staying I had booked Kayun Hostel in Kuta... I paid 230,000 rupiah for my visa and smiled at the cash machine, as I noted that I was now officially a millionaire! (^_^) x
I retrieved my bag from the carousel and bartered with a taxi driver to take me to my hostel for only 50,000 rupiah. He was incredibly friendly and taught me how to say 'Terima Kasih' (Thank You- pretty much the only Balinese I learnt during my 3 week stay!)

When I arrived at Kayun I was pleasantly surprised to learn that, not only was internet included in the price, there was also free breakfast, towel and a swimming pool! MUCH more like it! I was shown to my bed in the female dorm which was a cute little cubby hole with it's own power point, light and shelf... the locker was also included and I unpacked quickly before donning my bikini and heading out to the pool!
I also met a Dutch girl called 'Bee' who was staying there, and whose last night it was in the hostel before flying home... as such we decided that a night out was necessary to celebrate... so after some rays we ventured into town for some dinner, an experience as the locals try to hassle you into their shops, touching you and shouting over the road... "Lady GaGa" was what they called me?? I had my first meal of Nasi Goreng (fried rice with chicken satay and prawn crackers) and my first taste of Arak, the lethally strong local spirit that apparently has killed some tourists!! (oops) It was in this restaurant that we met Sam, a Londoner who was working in Perth and over in Bali for a holiday... the three of us spent the night together, drinking the free cocktails in Sky Garden and then dancing the night away in Bounty, where they served cocktails in sports bottles and have colourful cages to dance in!

Emily arrived that night to a VERY drunken 4am wake up which resulted in a VERY hung over Skye the next morning! I just about managed to get myself out in the sun and slept/ re-hydrated most of the day! That even I also met Claire, Emma, Finn and Caragh and we went for another round of cocktails in Sky Garden before having an early night! (not as hard core as I thought)
Collected my washing from the laundrette, which smelt AMAZING and was washed, dried, ironed and folded into a neat little package... all for GBP3.00!
The next day we organised our trip to the Gili Islands for Rp650,000 each which meant we were being picked up at 6:30am the following morning, so I spent the day on Kuta Beach with Emily, shopped for some dresses at the local market and we all stayed in at the hostel to watch 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' and ordered TAKE-AWAY MCDONALDS!!! We packed our bags and set our alarm for 5:45am!

The Gili Isles
Thursday 29th March - Wednesday 4th April 2012

Gili Trawangan
Bleary eyed we got on the minibus which would take us to Pandang Bai Harbour, the journey took around 2 hours and I slept most of the way! Once we arrived and checked in there was still a lot of waiting around, but we made it onto the fast boat to Gili Trawangan, the biggest and busiest of the Gili Isles, and when we pulled up onto the white sands and stepped off the boat we were inundated with locals trying to get us to stay at their hostel/bungalow... literally flyers, business cards and photos thrust into your face, as you struggle to balance with your rucksack on the tiny step ladder off the boat! Drama! Luckily, we had Emily, who's bartering skills were amazing, and we managed to get a private 5 bed house! Our breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit was brought to our veranda each morning (which was greatly improved by my Nutella) and we had a fresh water shower and wifi access! Tres Bon!
As it was around 12pm once we'd settled in, we hit the beach for some lunch and found a spot in front of our house which became our beach camp for the next four days! Although we did manage to rent bikes one afternoon at a vague attempt at exercising and a desire to see the whole island, there were some great view points, but we did have to push them part of the way due to the soft sand! :-P
The sand is a marble of white and black and HOT! The sea is crystal blue with broken coral decorating the tide line and palm trees hang over providing shade in the afternoons... PARADISE! x
For the next few days we spent our days in the sunshine and our evenings eating some delicious meals, including the Mahi Mahi at Horizontal Restaurant which was AMAZING! Grilled fish with garlic potatoes and a salsa of peppers, tomato and pineapple! NOM NOM! as well as a LOT of Mai Tai cocktails during the never ending 'Happy Hours'
The best bars were 'Sama Sama' (you're welcome), a reggae bar and the Irish bar called 'Tir Na Nog', but with the long days of sunshine we were often sleepy and didnt stay out very late... plus we all had double beds in our house so had some AMAZING nights sleep!
This is also where I was introduced to 'Draw Something' an Iphone game that is basically pictionary and which I cant seem to stop playing! :-P

Gili Meno
On Monday the girls had to leave and so Emily and I made our way over to Gili Meno, the smallest island in the middle of the three which was very quiet and CRAWLING with mosquitoes!! :-(
We spent the morning on the beach, where I watched a woman hack up a pineapple with a machete into a perfect spiral of fruity goodness!
Then we had to carry our bags in the BLISTERING heat to the harbour to get on the Island Hopper boat... when we finally arrived on the island we were shocked by how quiet and deserted it was, but we found a man who promised us a good deal on his bungalows which actually turned out to be a 10 minute trek into the jungle with no air con and a broken mosquito net! There were also CRAZY numbers of cockerels on the island which cock-a-doodle-doo'd consistently at all hours! GRR! We later found out that they keep cockerels for fighting, so no wonder they're so angry!
As the island was small we thought we'd walk around it and watch the sunset... however, after about 15 mins we were in the darkness, in the middle of no where and were being eaten alive by the mosquitoes so we hitched a pony-taxi (something we didn't want to do as the horses always looked so small and hot and tired!)
We ate dinner under a beach hut and went to bed to be eaten even more, so spent the next few days itching like mad! I literally wanted to hack my leg off to stop the itching!! :-(
The next day we were going over to the last island, but the boat wasn't until 4pm and so we hung out at the beach huts, where I ordered toast with honey that came with CHIPS?? and bought Jade and Ria a bracelet each as a pressie!

Gili Air
We were glad to see that Gili Air was marginally livelier! Again we carried our back packs for a "5 minute walk to the village" that actually took us 15 mins and completely across the island! (Indonesians evidently are not very good at telling time or counting!) so by the time we got there we were just happy that the bungalow had air con, and it wasn't until later that we realised it also had a salt water shower! (not ideal), then to add insult to injury, there was a fish eye in my dinner (which I tried my hardest to ignore) and washed down with some more Arak Attack cocktails!
The air con was then WAY too cold and I had the worst nights sleep ever... so by morning I was ready to get back to the mainland... ROLL ON UBUD! x

Wednesday 4th April - Thursday 12th April 2012
Another long drive from the ferry port at Padang Bai "about one half hour"... more like 3!
However, once we arrived at Monkey Forest road we found a BEAUTIFUL bungalow with the best bed I've slept in so far, and icy air con that blasted the heat away from your skin when you walked into the room... lush! The bungalows were called Ubud Permai, we had a few issues with black water? but there was a big pool with sunbeds, friendly staff and the cutest puppy called Piko!
Here we met up with Yas and Cat, two girls we met originally in Kuta who had been in Ubud for a week and LOVED it! We got on really well with them and went for dinner at Sagittarius restaurant, where the food was delicious (and cheap) but the service was APPALLING!
The next day we sunbathed in the morning and then went to the Monkey Forest in the evening... I was hoping for an array of different monkeys but instead they were all the same vicious grey species! I was happy that they roamed free and seemed to have territorial command of the forest and the surrounding areas... several times we saw them fighting on the roof of our hotel!
Within the Monkey Forest there were lovely statues and a beautiful traditional temple! A few people had bought bananas at the entrance but watching how the monkeys climbed up their clothes and snatched the bunch out of their hands, put me RIGHT off! Apart from that we also saw a very cute baby monkey and some monkey porn! :-S
Had a great night's sleep in our comfy beds, and Yas and Cat moved over to our bungalows!

The next day was another day of sunbathing and organisation... we booked our cycling tour and trip to the zoo as well as our spa day! LOTS of fun things ahead! (^_^)
That evening we had dinner in a restaurant which overlooked rice paddy fields, and, as it was Good Friday and I had PROMISED mum I wouldn't eat meat, I went for the vegetarian option of Tempe with rice and Balinese salad... Tempe is made from spiced soya beans in little chunks (like tofu) and is VERY tasty! x
We later met Ryan and Karen- a couple from Canada that we had met in the Gili Isles and got on very well with! We all went to the reggae bar where they played live music with a great Adele-esque singer and the bar man asked me "Are you sure?" when I ordered my third Mai Tai! YES I'M BLOODY SURE!!

Eco Cycling Tour
Saturday 7th April 2012
We had to wake up VERY early in the morning for our cycling tour! The bus came to meet us at 7:30am and we met our tour guide "Froggie" who was LOVELY, with great English and an ethusiam and passion for his home country of Bali, he had lots to tell us about traditions, customs, religious beliefs etc and was an incredibly sweet 21 year old!
Our first destination, once we had picked everyone up from their hotels, was breakfast at a buffet restaurant which overlooked a stunning volcano and lake... apparently the last erruption was in the 60's and you could still see the black, dead ground from where the lava had spilt! To the right of the volcano was a lake that was rich in fish and vegetation due to the fertile volcanic soil, and in the background were the largest mountains on Bali island... The sun was smiling down and the view was amazing! I munched away on black rice pudding (tastes like any other rice pudding), fried rice with prawn crackers and 3 chocolate pancakes with honey! NOM NOM! My excuse was that we would be cycling all day and I would need my energy, but in fact, 98% of the course was downhill and thus I think I peddled all of 5 minutes throughout the entire tour! (oh well) x
After breakfast, before the cycling began we were taken to a nearby plantation, where locals grew a variety of fruits, herbs, coffees and coco beans for export...
We were also given a variety of other samples of exports made at the plantation, including a delicious hot chocolate, green and lemon tea, ginseng coffee (lush!) and sugarcane tabacco that Froggie told us is mixed with marijuana! Never one to turn down free stuff, myself an my hilarious American friend Martin (the husband of the couple we befriended) attempted to roll and try a sugar cane joint... He might have 50 years on me, but my rolling attempt was 100% better! The joint was surprisingly pleasent, tasting very strongly of sugar... but was also very strong so after 2 drags, I decided that was quite enough of that! A funny experience and a good memory though!
I chose a sporty red bike, as it was one of the only big ones there were, but as Jade pointed out, it actually went very nicely with my bag and when I was handed the yellow helmet too, I became the official queen of co-ordination for the day! (^_^)
Posted by sdestecroix 07:27 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

♡ There's nothing like Aus-tra-li-AAA!! ♡ (part 2)

Sunday 11th March - Sunday 25th March 2012

rain 29 °C

Hervey Bay/ Fraser Island
Sunday 11th March- Wednesday 14th March 2012
Back to the coast and so the sunshine was back! Hervey Bay isn't the nicest, but I thought I should check it out!
Checked into my hostel 'Next' once I arrived and was told that the briefing meeting for Fraser Island was 6pm, we met the whole group (25 of us) and two of them I had shared a room with in Byron! (Andy and Alex- posh boys who went to Oxford!)
We were split into three groups, I was in Group C with Ali, Jon, Charlotte, Mikael, Ben, Canada (another Jon) and Clemence... we were told that we needed to be ready to leave at 7am, so after we went to the supermarket to buy what we thought would be enough food for three days (it wasn't), we watched Man on Fire together and then packed our backpack and went to bed!
Some of the boys in my room had different ideas, and one crazy American, Jack, once spilling his rum'n'coke on the floor, decided it could not be wasted and scraped it back into the glass with his credit card (along with all the floor filth) and drunk it!! YUCK!
Needless to say the 6am wake up wasn't fun, but the peanut butter and jam toasted sandwiches for breakfast were a taste sensation!!


We loaded up our 4x4s (ours we later named Sweet 'Caroline' for group C) , had a safety briefing, and hit the road... the weather was OK, a bit overcast but mainly sunny!
Big group photo on the boat over to the island and then when we arrived Kirk, our guide, took us on a quick walk around the central camp and talked A LOT about trees... not that anyone was that interested! We then drove along the beach highway to a fresh water lake that sat at the base of a HUGE sand dune... the view was pretty awesome and we ran down the sand dune and into the water with BIG catfish swimming around our feet!
I got to drive the 4x4 back to camp, along the beach and then through the inland which is VERY bumpy! but super fun! and showed off my superior parking skills once we arrived! impressed! :-P x
Our tents were already set up and we were STARVING so we threw our bags inside and hopped straight on to the BBQs to cook up some meat and crack open the goon! Canada did an amazing job on the grill, and we feasted on chicken burgers and hot dogs! MMM!
The boys played another 'skulling' game called flip cup, but I decided to socialize with the rest of the group and joined in with Fuck the Dealer with group B!
MANY cups of goon later and Jon was sick all over me in our tent... pretty grim to wake up to at 6am! The smell was bad enough, but luckily there were showers and by the time I went back he had cleaned it up and was apologizing every two mins! haha... luckily once clean I saw the funny side! We made some toast on the bbq like cave men and Charlotte and I made sandwiches for the boys, then we set off for day two!

The first lake we went to was an acidic lake that had formed because the decaying forest matter had made a watertight basin which collected rain water... the water was bright orange, like lucozade and you couldn't see much below your waist, but Andy, Tom, Liz and I were brave and swam all the way over to the other side, perfecting my Northern accent "Oh No!" and being careful to avoid water snakes!!
We then dried off and drove to the Indian Head cliff top where the views were amazing! before heading to the Champagne Pools... unfortunately the tide was out so we didnt get the full effect of the bubbly sea water, but I did find (and steal) some nice shells, which I then left with my drug mule, Andy, who still has them, so I may never see them again! Boo Hoo! x
After the Champagne Pools, we went to Eli Creek, but it was WAY to cold to get wet by then, so I just waded down it with my poncho on!
As the sun was setting we went to see the ruins of an old ship that was washed up on the beach before heading back to camp...
Tonight Charlotte and I cooked spaghetti bolognaise for Group C, but (as men HAVE to help) it wasn't the greatest success, and a Dingo nearly stole half of it!! oops!
Back on the red goon and a new drinking game of 'Timmy Timmy', and a fun time around the camp fire... a great last night in Fraser!

Our last morning was spent cleaning and hunting for missing knives! Luckily we were let off as we managed to find 3 extra cups and two extra spoons! The drive was long and we were SOOO tired so I slept most of the way to central station, where we went on a bush walk following the creek, and only 7 out of 25 of us managed to go the right way!! We saw some pretty scary looking spider webs, two snakes and some bright blue mushrooms and then had to wait 40 mins whilst Kirk retrieved the rest of our group!
The silver lining was that I got to drive the next leg of the journey to Lake Mackenzie, and Kirk told the group I was a 'Very Good Driver'!!! (^_^) x
As we were late and had to make our boat back to the mainland we only had a short time at the lake, but it was BEAUTIFUL, with crystal clear water and really fine white sand! LOVELY! x

Once we were back in Hervey Bay, Kirk took us to see some wild kangaroos... these ones were the bigger red ones and they were SOO cool, we got close enough for photos and then they all got up and hopped off into the bushes! (Check out the MASSIVE balls that the male has btw)
Then this farmer guy came over and harassed us so we had to leave! Boo! Took Caroline for an inspection and luckily we hadn't damaged her so didn't have to pay anything! PHEW!
We walked down to the marina together to get on the boat, and were picked up by Jimmy, a VERY attractive (but equally arrogant) crew member! The boat had a nice big lounge area below deck and comfy rooms (Becci and I shared), plus a large open area on the deck which was sheltered by tarpaulin, so we were kept relatively dry!
After a safety briefing we were introduced to all the crew: Dave- another gorgeous one! Tony- an amazing cook! Ben: slightly desperate dive master who tried it on with EVERYONE! and Brayden- a Jimmy-look-alike with a very cute smile! (^_^) x

We were then left to mingle and get to know each other, before a dinner of grilled fish and mash potato, team games and goon!
We got ourselves into teams and the first game had up passing oranges from under our chins to between another persons legs and vice versa along a line... then we paired up boy/girl and I had to blow up a rubber glove through a tube between Charlie's legs while he held the back of my head... I would have won had Charlie not told me that I had won, causing me to stop and let the air out!! Still though, even starting again I came third! NOT BAD!
The next game had a couple, Tyler licking Vegemite out of Claire's belly button! MINGING! But they won so we got more points!
Then there was a game where you had to be the first couple to get into a sex position that the crew called out the fastest! and then a nasty spanking game where several of the boys had VERY bruised bums from being whacked with a flipper!
All in all, my team came third! x
The night continued with more drinking games, including a round of Fuck the Dealer, a whole carton of goon and LOTS of photos! x

We were woken up at 6:30am!! on both days in order to 'get the most out of our day', which was pretty horrible, especially with a goon hang over! BUT we were given peanut butter and jam to make my new food obsession... peanut butter and jam toasties!! NOM NOM! x
Our first stop was WhiteHaven Beach, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places in Australia, that has 98% pure white sand and crystal clear water, but it didn't look so great in the rain! Still, we splashed around, saw some sting rays and rubbed the sand on our teeth as directed, all the while in VERY attractive 'stinger suits' which are thin wet suits that protect you from jellyfish stings! :-S
After a brief walk back through the bush, we were taken in speed boats to an amazing snorkel area on the fringes of the Great Barrier Reef... I had a little mask trouble, but powered through and saw some beautiful coral and tropical fish! Was pretty magical to be snorkeling as the rain fell on the sea as well, it made a tinkling sound on the water and looked like twinkling glitter from under the surface!
Dave thought it was funny to throw fish food into the sea right next to me as well which meant literally hundreds of fish came swarming around me and nipping at my face!! Scariest thing ever! Funny the first time, but not so much the fourth!!! Grr!
After snorkeling we had some sandwiches for lunch and played around on the boats diving board/slides/jacuzzi before showering off the salt water and getting ready for 'The Big Night' that evening!
This time the games were individual, with the winner being crowned 'King/Queen of the Clipper'... The crew brought out a big bin of funny clothes that STANK and clearly hadn't ever been washed so we all had to dress up... I managed to fight and barter my way to a full Santa outfit but when the games started, the first question was to go to the Port side of the boat, which I KNEW was left, but everyone else went right... when I stayed on the left side Jimmy grabbed me and dragged me away to the right side, and as he is 6ft 2 and built like a rugby player I couldn't get away from him which meant I was out!! Now we all know that I DO NOT like to lose and I was SOOOOO pissed off that I was 'out' unfairly! This meant that I couldn't even play the rest of the games, which made the evening a bit boring for a while because I had to just wait for more people to be out until I could do anything else!! ANYWAYS! in the end I had a great night with everyone once the games were over! Even more photos as well! x
The weather continued to be AWFUL, absolutely pouring with rain non-stop which caused massive flooding in Queensland and meant that all the Greyhound buses north and south were cancelled... so we were stranded in Airlie Beach until the weather improved!
Luckily we were all in the same position and so we just hung out together and had another night drinking at Becci's hostel playing drinking games with Nicko, Charlie, Kat and some new room mates- Gem and Matt! Had a traumatic goon experience though, which lead to a new piece of traveling advise and a 'Note to Self'... DO NOT buy rose goon. Ever.
Also for my 'Last Supper' with Becci, we went out for Mexican and they put cheese and salad on top of my chilli... A-MAY-ZING!! Mum had been told! :-S x

After a pretty major melt down, I decided the only thing to do was fly over to Cairns, and luckily there were flights available from Hamilton Island, so I FINALLY made it to a very sunny 35 degree Cairns on Friday 23rd March! (only 4 days late!) but as the weather was so lovely I was in good spirits and spent the day sunbathing by the lagoon, before meeting my American room mates from Gilligan's for a few drinks in the evening... not too many though as I had my fingers and toes firmly crossed that the weather on 24th would be lovely so I could do my SKY DIVE!!! (^_^) xx
It was the cherry on top of a roller coaster trip that was AUSTRALIA!!! XX

Posted by sdestecroix 04:13 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

♡ There's nothing like Aus-tra-li-AAA!! ♡ (part 1)

Tuesday 21st Feb- Thursday 8th March 2012...

semi-overcast 25 °C
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Tuesday 21st Feb- Saturday 25th Feb 2012

Arrived after a LOOONNGG flight from BA, where I was sat next to a VERY annoyingly chatty Peruvian man, and served by the rudest air stewardess I have ever come across... Yes, OK, so I might have been asleep when you brought the dinner around, but it is nearly 3am and I haven't had dinner yet, so... did you try and wake me up?? No?? Well then please can I have the meal which I have paid for now? and NO! I didn't mean the vegetarian option!!! Not an unreasonable request, I don't think... but apparently enough to have her tutting and scowling at me for 17 hours! JOY! :-(
To top things off, when we flew into Sydney, the weather was cloudy, so although I could see the opera house and the harbour bridge out of my window on decent... it wasn't clear enough to photograph!
On the plus side though, Australia = English speaking people! So the transfer to my hostel was a doddle and I checked in pretty swiftly at 'Base' on Kent Street. Had a quick wonder around and a much needed shower and then attempted to beat the jet lag monster by staying awake until 10pm.. went to watch 'The Vow' at the cinema and finished reading 'The Help'.
Also, was really impressed by their cool, colourful money!! It's waterproof as it's made of plastic and each note is a bright colour! Haven't seen a 'greeny' though ($100- too rich for me!)

In the morning, the weather was MUCH better, so I took a stroll down to the opera house and the harbour bridge for some photos and then walked back through the Botanical Garden where I stopped to read/ sunbathe and then swiftly left once I noticed the BATS! in the trees! eek!
Back at the hostel a new Canadian guy and his crazy Irish mate had checked into my room and invited me down for a drink in the bar next door... fast forward a few hours and we were in MacDonalds eating chicken nuggets and trying to stop the Irish guy starting a fight over BBQ sauce!
Thankfully we had ANOTHER sunny day the next morning so I went on the ferry over to Manly Beach with Emily and her uni friends... the view of the harbour en route was awesome, and we had a great day on the beach, even seeing a blue bottle jelly fish! (quite common in Aus and only little but the first jelly I have seen!)... on the way back we stopped for ice cream at Gellato's, triple scoop tub with hazelnut, caramel and chocolate AND hot nutella sauce... NOM NOM!
I also bought my IPhone 4S on the way back to the hostel... SOOO exciting! x Then after I checked into my new hostel 790 on George Street, I met up with Emily for a drink at Russel's Wine Bar, which was lovely! I like the fact that in Aus they offer you a water with every drink you purchase, the idea is to keep people hydrated and it's great because when it's in front of you, you drink it! defo something that should be bought over to the UK!

The next morning I woke up early for breakfast with Harrison as his hostel was right next to mine! Had some DELICIOUS thick brown toast with Vegemite... not as nice as Marmite but similar in taste! MMM!
We then got the tube to Bondi Beach, which was PACKED due to the lovely weather and the fact that it was Saturday! There was even a skate competition on the top! A good opportunity to wear my Brazillian bikini and catch some serious rays! We had to leave around 3pm as H had work, but before we went we had THE BEST ice cream I have ever tasted 'Movenpick', a Swiss brand, pana cotta and creme brulee! SOOOO good, really creamy! :-D x
That evening I stayed off the drink and packed up my bag ready to head up to the Blue Mountains and visit Bree...

Blue Mountains
Sunday 26th Feb- Tuesday 28th Feb 2012

Spent the morning booking all my trips for the coast with Peter (a slightly inappropriately flirty Hungarian) at Travel Bugs... over GBP1000 later, I had booked my Greyhound bus ticket, Fraser Island, Whitsundays and a 14,000ft SkyDive + DVD! so when Bree finally arrived around 1pm, I was SOOO ready to leave... but excited for what was to come!
We got the train and a bus up to Blue Mountains, where I booked into the Flying Fox hostel in Katoomba, which was VERY hippy and full of Germans, but free breakfast and nice communal vibe!
Bree took me to her parents house en route to the hostel to pick up her mums car and I was given a lovely salad and spinach/ sundried tomato muffin! Then once I had showered and changed, Bree and I went to Station Bar (the only option) for Kangeroo Pizza!! and red wine! The Kangeroo was lovely, like a really tender steak! Would defo eat it again! x
In the morning Bree and I went for breakfast together, I had some raisin toast which is EVERYWHERE here and the best idea ever! kinda like Gauche or a teacake in a loaf form, but more readily available as a breakfast food! My fave! x
She then drove me to Flat Rock, which is a place where local people often go that looks out over the Blue Mountains, has lots of carved names in and a make-shift cave where an Australian hippy escaped service in the war for a while!
I had to get my train back to Sydney around 4pm to catch the Greyhound up to Byron overnight, so Bree parked at the 'Kiss and Ride' area and said goodbye!

Byron Bay
Wednesday 29th Feb - Friday 2nd March 2012

The over night bus wasn't TOO bad, the only annoying thing was that everytime the driver stopped, he turned on the lights and gave us a brief history about where we were etc, even though it was 3am and NO ONE cared! :-S
Byron was a cool town, basically just one main road down the centre which had shops etc on it leading up to the beach at the end... my hostel was Nomads and it was VERY nice, really modern and big! Met a girl on check in called Emily from London who I spent the rest of the day with, we went to the beach to chill out until it was time to check in and then that evening we joined the hostel pub crawl, which included free pizza, a somewhat fixed limbo competition (the girl that won was 5ft nothing and worked at the hostel, and she was against a 6ft 3in German guy!!), and goon waterfall, where we had to down our goon punch (free) and put the cup upside down on our heads before the next person could drink theirs! Deadly! x

Surfers Paradise
Saturday 3rd March - Monday 5th March 2012

Woke up upset and with a BAD goon hang over... needless to say, this was a low point in my trip, too early to call mum but holding back tears for most of the morning I thought it best to just try and sleep on the short bus ride up to Surfers and prayed that things would get better soon, it's not nice to be upset when you have no one you love around you for a cuddle!
Luckily, when I arrived I instantly loved the place... the weather was a bit temperamental but everyone was very much in party-mode and as soon as I checked in I was told all about the organized club nights for the weekend!! JUST what I needed!
After a shower and a skype home for some perspective and encouraging words from mum, I was brave, put on some make up and went to say hi to a table of strangers with my free glass of wine... SO proud of myself because they turned out to be the nicest group of people I've met! Lauren, Nish, Mel, Ben etc... We got on really well and ended up playing drinking games including 'Fuck the dealer', 'The Woo Woo Game' and 'Yee Haa', all before 10pm when the shuttle bus took us to a few bars in town... one was like an Irish pub in one direction and a dingy punk rock club in the other! and then there was 'Cocktails and Dreams'... dark and tiny and only marginally better than Soho, but with a great mix of people (including my new husband Ben), I felt a thousand times better!
Besides, you cant argue with $7 bottles of wine!
The next day I met up with Emily in the afternoon and went to the beach with her until the Queensland weather turned again and started raining, we went back to her hostel and watched The Hangover, then I got the shuttle back to my hostel and had another night out with Ben, where we watch a 'Best Bum' competition and did a lot of dancing!
I would have happily stayed longer but had booked my Greyhound up to Nambour to meet Marty and Ali in Monteville...

Monday 5th March - Saturday 10th March 2012
I cannot describe in enough word how INCREDIBLE my time in Monteville was, Martin and Ali were SOOO incredibly welcoming and hospitable, their house was to-die-for and they treated me like a member of the family the entire time!
It was amazing to feel like I was at home again, I had a big comfy double bed, chocolates, magazines, a private bathroom and some of the best meals I have eaten in a LONG time!
They own a gastro pub in the area and so I ate their with them every night (apart from one where Martin cooked a bbq at home), and to top it off their son Ryan is BLOODY GORGEOUS! haha... We spent the week exploring the surrounding neighbourhoods, eating great food and relaxing...
One day we even went to a cafe that was amidst a fancy tree-house themed hotel! Everything was made of wood and each cabin had a different name and a different creature carved into the wood! Very cute!
We also went to Moloolabah and had fresh seafood, with Martin teaching me how to pull apart whole king prawns! But my favourite meals of the week were the lamb shank with mash potato (something I miss dearly) and the eye fillet steak with a watercress salad and beetroot puree... I didnt think I liked beetroot but that was AMAZING!
I met uncle Bob's brother, and we chatted about Jersey which was cool and there are even photos of the town church and Corbiere lighthouse in the pub! (^_^) x

Australia Zoo
Thursday 8th March 2012
This is where I ticked two more things off of my 'to-do' list for Australia... 'Hold a Koala' and 'Feed a Kangeroo'!!
Martin and Ali had to work today, so they dropped me off at the Steve Irwin zoo around 9:30am and I wondered around the animals all day, they mostly have crocodiles similar reptile species, as well as a lot of birds, but I also saw Rhinos, Zebras, GIRAFFES!, fed an Elephant named 'Bimbo', Red Pandas (SOOO cute), a GOREGOUS tiger, Tazmanian Devils, Camels?? and of course the Koalas and Kangeroos!
They have a Koala stroking area, where you can pat them on the back, and they have smaller grey kangeroos that you can feed and pat! When you hold out the food in your hand they come up and cup your hands with theirs as they munch away! bless!
To hold the Koala I had to pay $25 for a big photo, but it was worth it... they DO NOT smell nice, as Stephen Fry told me, but they are SOOO cute... you really do just want to take them home!

After one more night with Ali and Martin, I thought I'd probably over-stayed my welcome, and I had to be up in Hervey Bay for Fraser Island so I reluctantly packed my bag and made my way up the coast and back to the reality that it pesto pasta and squeaky bunk beds...

Posted by sdestecroix 03:43 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


Tuesday 13th Feb - Sunday 19th Feb 2012

semi-overcast 28 °C
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Having slightly refreshed from my hang over with a brief and not-so-comfortable sleep on the ferry, we arrived to Buenos Aires! (meaning 'good air' as apparently when the first settlers came here, they originally tried to live in a swamp basin, but were defeated by the local tribes and so re-located to higher ground, with cleaner air! Little factoid from George!) x

The hotel we stayed at was LOVELY... Juan took us for a walk around the main street (Florida Street) and for some lunch in the shopping mall. The lunch was served in a cantine style, with different types of food in little sections... we went for the stir fry option as I think everyone was starting to feel the lack of vitamins in their diet! I had a Salmon stir fry which was DELICIOUS and a fanta which was illuminous!
Juan then took us back for the briefing and outlined on a map all the main sights of the city, which neighbourhoods were safe to walk around and where the best places to eat/ shop etc were.
Hannah, Jess and I then went to get a traditional Argentinian snack called an Alfajoures, which is eaten with tea/coffee and is basically a sandich of two cake-like cookies with dolce de leche in the centre and coated in chocolate! NOM NOM!
After a quick shower, we met up in the hotel lobby for some dinner... Juan was seeing his parents that evening, but recommended a local steak house where you paid 105 pesos for all-you-can-eat steak and salad buffet, with a bottle of wine and a dessert included! The retaurant was in the posh marina area of the city, and was called 'Chase the Cow' (in spanish)... we walked through the city as the sun set, past the gorgeously affluent yachts and the bridge which is designed to represent two tango dancers (but in fact looks nothing like one!) x Dinner was delicious, and was a good laugh to be with everyone without Juan around.
Taxi back for bed... the air con in our room wasn't working, so was a rather sweaty night, but still comfortable... plus we had a TV with English channels, so Allison and I watched some 'Teen Mom' x

In the morning, I stayed at the hotel to check my bank on George's Ipad... my card was playing up at the HSBC and I was worried due to the people that had money stolen... but everything was fine and the machine let me withdraw money that morning, guess it was just having a little tiff!
Grabbed an activia and an Alphajoure for breakfast (healthy!) and then headed towards the north, to the neighbourhood of Recolletta with George, Hannah, Jess, Rachel, Rosie, Christina and Allison. Bought a ticket for a bus tour to get a feel for the area/ distances between sights then went to the square at the top of Florida street which has a monument to General San Martin, who got Argentina their independence.
The bus tour took us through the neighbourhood with a funny incredibly-English speaking man in our headphones, telling us what was around as we drove.
We stopped first at a little white chapel and saw a red phonebox. The chapel was cute but the most interesting and impressive sight was the grave yard next to it!
The guide explained that traditional Argentinian graves do not bury the dead underground, but instead, erect a small ornate house, with a single glass door at the front, with the coffin placed on display inside!!
Some of the grave-houses were BEAUTIFUL, with marble statues or carved stone/ iron mouldings decorating the outside... some were clearly VERY old and the most expensive one had solid gold tilling and crystals!
We saw Evita's grave, where she is lying with her husband, but I was a little disappointed with it... due to her status within the country I expected it to be amazing but it was just black marble with some metal plaques which had been donated in her memory... guess maybe the family didn't have enough money for a fancy one!
Back on the bus we passed the silver flower, which is a sculpture made of silver-coloured metal that is solar powered and opens/closes with the sunlight! Pretty cool idea I thought! We also drove past the botanical gardens and the planetarium.
That evening was the fairwell meal for everyone to say goodbye... we dressed up nicely and went to a Tango show! It also happened to be Valentine's Day so Juan bought us all a red rose (except George) x
Tango lesson was first, where we learnt the basic box step and then the figure of 8... there were several men so we actually got to practise the dance in a pair once we'd learnt the steps... we even had to learn the tango pose for the end of the routine which involved wrapping your leg around the man and making your 'tango face' (no smiles... smouldering!) was GREAT fun and only marginally embarrassing! After our lesson, we had a three course dinner, lots of red wine and watched a tango show with the professionals which was a highlight of the trip so far!
Rachel, Jess, Hannah and I were too excited once it had finished that we decided to continue the party in an Argentinian club called KIKA, which was fun, but expensive and they didn't play the best music selection! Finally getting to bed around 4am!

Had a lie in the next day and met the same group as yesterday at 12pm to visit the La Boca neighbourhood, which is known for it's tango, particularly 'Caminito Street' which again, has lots of brightly coloured houses and cafes where they have live bands and tango shows! Bought myself a photo as a souvenier! :-D x

Back to town for lunch, where we bought 'empanadas' which are traditional argentinian snacks... very much like a pasty!
Then George and I had to check out the hotel and make our way over to Millhouse Hostel, which is very party-orientated but has no air con!
We checked in, then went to say goodbye to the others who were leaving the next day! Sad that we won´t be together anymore, but have made some great friends! x
George and I were in the same room at Millhouse so we went for a little walk and got some Chinese for dinner, before a few drinks at the hostel and an early night... no covers though as it was BOILING! x

The next morning I woke up early to meet Bree for breakfast so I could say goodbye properly! Then George and I walked down to see the congress building and then the big shopping mall called 'Abasto' for a McDonalds chocolate sundae (a BIG feature in my time in BA!)
DSCF4141.jpgDSCF4143.jpgDSCF4144.jpgDSCF4147.jpgDSCF4148.jpgDSCF4149.jpgDSCF4154.jpgDSCF4152.jpg]we then got the D-line subway to the furthest stop at the end of town and walked through the lagoons/nature reserve in the north of the city and back past the planetarium and silver flower... my feet were starting to ache, so we got a bus back to the hostel just as the weather turned nasty... HUGE thunder storm and then absolutely terrential rain by the time we went for dinner!!
The next few nights, to save some money, we made ourselves pasta at the hostel instead, which was great! x

At the weekend, George and I chilled out, the weather wasn't getting much sunnier, so we spent our days looking around the markets in Recolleta and San Telmo for anything worth buying... saw these awesome coins from all over the world which had bits of the metal cut out of them to make them into interesting pendants, but they were VERY expensive, and would probably just end up in a draw so I didn't bother to buy them.

I've had an AMAZING time in South America so far... with highlights defo being the boat trip in Paratay, the markets in Uruguay and the Tango show/lessons I´ve had in Buenos Aires! (hopefully I will remember the steps!)

Things I am going to miss:
- Eating cake as part of every meal in Brazil.
- The sunshine and the beaches, and 30+ degree heat!
- Having a consistent group of friends to chat to and explore with.
- The tango!

Things I am not going to miss:
- RUDE Brazillian people.
- The inability to communicate past basic phrases.
- Being dribbled on consistantly in the street by Air Con vents!! YUCK!!

Really looking forward to Australia... lets hope it's even better than South America has been!! xx

Posted by sdestecroix 10:56 Archived in Argentina Comments (2)

♡ IN SEARCH OF IGUSSU ♡ (continued...)

sunny 33 °C
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Brazillian side of Iguassu Falls
Up at 9am to pack our bags as we were getting the night bus to Salto in Uruguay that evening!
Set off at 11am to the falls again, and this time the view was more panoramic... you could see the different falls better and the scale of them more impressively!
The bridges also went over the rapids this time so we could get closer to the water! We saw a tarantula spider just chilling on the side of the path... big and hairy! and also a black and white lizard which was cool.
After seeing the falls we went by bus to the Bird Park, which was AWESOME, as the enclosures were really big and you could walk into them and actually be next to the birds! Had to watch out for the poo, but was great not to have to look through cages!
My favourite bird was the Toucans! They are really cool, their beaks are HUGE and sooooo colourful! and they do this funny hop when they move around, rather than walking one foot to the other, they just jump forward with both feet! SUPER CUTE!
We then went into the enclosures with the Macaw parrots... they were ace too! VERY NOISY though! x
large_54.jpgWe had to leave around 4pm to get to the bus station in Argentina, where we were catching the second night bus to Salto... this one was only 14 hours, and the bus company made a mistake which meant we got an upgrade to a bigger bus, with AMAZING seats! They were like leather armchairs and I didnt have to sit next to anyone, so I could spread out more! Was annoyed that they kept the lights on on this bus though, so didn't sleep as easily as with the other bus! Bree also gave me a pair of uber-sexy flesh coloured compression socks which was lovely of her and stopped the return of pork foot! PHEW! x
We were dropped off at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere at 5am, where taxis waited to take us across the boarder into Uruguay...

Salto- Friday 9th Feb 2012
Arrived at our hotel, VERY tired after not very much sleep at around 11am, checked into our rooms (I was sharing with Sharni again) and had a MUCH NEEDED shower... Had a quick briefing and then Juan informed us that there was nothing planned for the day apart from 'relaxing after our long journey'... the itinerary had stated the option of a visit to the 'hot springs', and so us girls were naturally excited about the prospect of a glorious natural pool in the mountainside somewhere, maybe with mud baths and massages... what we actually discovered was that in Uruguay, 'hot springs spa' actually translates into 'filthy gas chamber- looking scene from horror film'!!! There were various contraptions mascaraing as 'showers' which were all filled with BOILING hot water and there was ONE fat old woman who was the 'masseuse' and 9 of us!!! Needless to say, we didn't stay long... although Rachel, Rosie, Bree and Hannah, armed with all their patience, did wait the 40 mins each that it took for this woman to get to each of them!
Meanwhile, Sharni, Allison, George and I went for a wonder around the town and to grab some lunch... The only way I can think to describe the town was what I would imagine hick-American south to be... just random buildings off of a massive highway, strange people who walk around outside dressed only in towelled gowns and slippers, lots of convenience stores which sold 2 litre water bottles of red wine for 5 pesos and LOADS of hotels... that was the weirdest thing, every other building was a hotel, but I cant imagine who would choose this place as a holiday destination!!?? VERY odd!
Lunch wasn't much better!
Back at the hotel I read some more of my book and had a nap in the afternoon... dinner MORE THAN made up for the weird day when Juan took us to an all-you-can-eat buffet (including dessert!!), where I also had a glass of wine and tried 'sweat breads' which were actually VERY yummy! Here, Hannah and I also co-founded the pudding club, whose first rule was 'fruit is NOT dessert' and stuffed our faces with cake, meringue, pastry and LOTS of dolce de leche caramel! MMMMM!!! xx
Sunset was also pretty fly!
and then once we were ready to check in, we had to get ready fairly quickly as it was Jess' 19th Birthday and we were organising a surprise party for her! Nice opportunity for us to dress up and put some make up on!! We also used Sophie's hair straighteners so my hair wasn't fluffy for the first time in weeks! x SOOO nice to look 'normal' again!
Juan decorated his hotel room with colourful balloons and streamers and we all met there to surprise Jess with a card and a toast before dinner... the drink tasted kinda like cider, but came in a champagne shaped bottle!? hmmm!?
Dinner was DELICIOUS... the restaurant was a bit fancier than normal, and I had a chicken kebab with sweet potato and a peach/pineapple sauce... mmmm! After dinner the hotel brought out a cake with candles- chocolate sponge with a chocolate moose! NOM NOM!
Once dinner was over, we walked to a bar and some of the girls stayed out drinking until 2am! But I was SOOO tired and so went home at midnight.. SQUARE! x
Picked up quite a lot of colour though... although I do have a Havaiana mark on my feet now! BOO!
That evening, Bree and I stayed in and dyed our hair... mine was looking very straw like and starting to fade to a pretty manky orange colour with the sunlight, so went brave and chose a chocolatey brown which has turned out REALLY nicely! SO shiny! The conditioner smelt like jelly babies as well! x
HILARIOUS moment when I tried to explain when a bidet was to Bree, not realising the water shot up in the air and not forward out the back... arse water ALL over my face!! She couldn't stop laughing!
Another lie in before our 2 hour bus journey to Colonia....

Colonia- Monday 12th Feb 2012
Nice bus journey, where I listened to my ipod and watched the sunshine out the window!
Arrived around 3pm and got a taxi to the hotel... Pasada de la fleur... really gorgeous little villa where the rooms were named after different flowers and all the doors had shutters like a little Italian cottage! I shared a 5-bed room which had a balcony with Allison, Rachel, Bree and Jen.
After we'd dropped our bags off Juan took Bree, Hannah, Jess, Jen and I on a city tour with GOLF BUGGIES!!! I even got to drive the yellow racing buggy, which was sooo fun! Saw the ruins of the old Bull Fighting arena, the race course, beach (with brown lake as the sea), lighthouse, port and then stopped for some AMAZING ice cream, Chocolate Suizo with Dolce de Leche!! MMM! x
That evening we all went out for dinner together, chicken stir fry and LOTS of wine, with these local shots that tasted like honey!
Rachel was VERY drunk and a nightmare to get into bed, I cracked out the chicken dance and Bree taught us the 'stab and slash' dance! There were also funny signs on the toilet doors to indicate 'mens' and 'womens'...

Early start with a HEADACHE of doom! But only a 1 hour ferry ride to Buenos Aires... which I slept through!

Posted by sdestecroix 10:45 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)


Monday 30th Jan - Sunday 19th Feb 2012, 'Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires'... x

sunny 33 °C
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Having had an awesome week in Rio, I started my tour day with a big load of laundry! The rain had finally stopped and the sunshine was out, but instead of being on the beach, I spent the best part of the morning stuck in a laundrette, attempting to communicate with the woman that I wanted to use the self service machines and managing to shrink my fave red cardigan in the process! BUT, it was nice to have everything clean, and fresh!

I spent the rest of the day reading Russel Brands 'Booky Wook 2', which is hilarious, and a definite recommendation if you like him... although I cannot comment on 'Booky Wook 1', as they didn't have that one at the hostel library!
I headed to the Hotel for check in and the welcome meeting around 5pm, and saw that the meeting was scheduled for 7pm, which was great as I was given a single room so had some privacy and, as it was a hotel, the room came with COMPLIMENTARY TOWELS and a decent shower! SOOO happy! x
We all met in the lobby, and everyone was very quiet at first, my first thought was THANK GOD everyone can speak English, after my hideous attempts at understanding Portuguese for the past week, I just wanted to be able to have a proper conversation! x Once everyone had arrived our tour guide Juan (NOT Wan) introduced himself and took us into a private room for the welcome briefing.
The group consisted of 13 girls and one boy, George, who is a Geography graduate from Newcastle who I don't think has ever been with so many girls in his life! He defo didn't seem to mind the lack of male commradory! There were two girls from Australia and the rest were from UK. Juan gave us details of the trip and then we all went out for dinner at the Kilogramma to get to know each other.
I immediately bonded with an Australian girl, Bree, who is very tall with gorgeous long dark hair. She has a boyfriend back home as well and had seen away for 6 months so we talked about that and realised we had quite a lot in common! Went for a drink after dinner and tried a Mango caiparinha, which was nice, but quite hard to drink through a straw when the big chunks of mango were at the bottom! x
Early night as we had to be packed and checked out early to start the tour...

Ilha Grande - Tuesday 31st Jan
The journey from Rio was 3 hours in a bus and then a ferry ride for an hour.
The weather was still a bit cloudy when we got to the ferry port, and we had a while to wait for the boat, so we just chilled out with our bags and chatted. Some of the girls used a cash machine to get money for the island and had their cards cloned, which we didnt realise until they tried to use them again in Sao Paulo!! One of the Aussie girls, Sharni, had her account completely drained of about 1000 dollars!! Its a scary thought and defo something I will have to watch out for! Put a bit of a dampner on things! x
The ferry was like a catameran with an open deck on the top for us to sit on. We past a very pretty little private island and wondered if it was the one where Bella and Edward had their honey moon in the Breaking Dawn movie! (sad). Everyone in the group bonded quickly which was great.

When we got to the island it was beautiful, with beaches around the coast and big mountains in the centre that were covered in dense rainforest. The shops and houses that made up the village were all really 'beachy' and brightly coloured. I think England would be a prettier place if everyone painted their houses yellow, turquoise, red, green or pink! It really made the place look happy and tropical! We walked 5 mins inland to our hotel which was very romantic and made of lots of little wooden chalets, some of them had white hammocks on the balcony and their was a swing set in the front garden! I shared a room with Sharni and Jennifer which didnt have a ceiling fan or air conditioning which was annoying because it was sooo hot at night!
We were given cake and afternoon tea (an AWESOME Brazilian thing- cake with every meal!) and then had another briefing where Juan explained the optional activities that ALL included HIKING!!! (not a fan) x Luckily another girl in the group shared my views about hiking, Hannah, and we became really friendly as we both just wanted to enjoy the beach!! I didnt bring hiking shoes so I had to change into my black boots then Juan took us for a 'walk' (hike) to see the islands abandoned prison (originally the island was populated by prison guards and prisoners from Rio), water pool and black beach which had volcanic sand. We also saw a HUGE butterfly and an old aqueduct which was very picturesque. We then walked back through the town, taking photos en route, to shower and change for dinner, which we ate at a cafe on the beach. They had DELICIOUS beans! x

Early start and a VERY hot day... the sun has officially got his hat on and I cross my fingers that it is here to stay now!
LOVELY hotel breakfast with mango and pineapple, bread and butter, crackers, tea and CAKE! (of course) x Needed a big breakfast because today we were hiking as a group to the best beach on the island 'Lopez Mendez', which was going to take us 2 hours over the mountains in the centre of the island! Very hot and tiring but also very beautiful as we were walking through rainforest and we got some great photo opportunities.. even saw wild tamarind monkeys!! x
After 'one more hill' (Juan's quote of the day) we reached Lopez Mendez which was a STUNNING beach, with mango trees at the top giving some shade and then hot white sand and crystal blue sea... well worth the trek! We found a spot in the shade and then stripped off our sweaty clothes and ran straight into the sea! SO refreshing and cool!
We spent the day on the beach, chatting, reading, getting some sun (being careful to dip in and out of the heat), we even took a 'Peter Andre' inspired photo for George to make his friends at home jealous! haha, very funny!
At around 4pm we had to pack up and make our way back over that 'one more hill' to catch the boat back round to the port near our hotel. Bree and I sat at the front of the boat (bow??) and bonded some more, with me slightly burning my forearm! OOPIES!
Rachel, George, Juan, Jen, Christina and I then headed to the beach to continue the party with the locals around a huge beach bonfire, Rachel managed to slice her foot open on a rock and had an awkward incident with a local boy (she can speak fluent spanish so was able to communicate with them better), who decided that the best way to entice her was to whip out his penis and hold it out to her as if to say 'you want?'... she was NOT impressed, but managed to get out of the situation without any drama... the foot thing was stressful though, she was limping for most of the trip and had to clean and re-dress it every few hours! x George was a good nurse though! x

Woke up with a MASSIVE headache, and after a bread roll and an Ibuprofen I went back to sleep for 2 hours finally arising at midday!! Luckily some of the others had stayed out till 5am so they woke up late too!
I spent the day with Bree, we went to buy some açai sorbet (for antioxidents) and then had a wonder around the local shops. I bought some factor 30 suncream as the sun really is SOOO strong and a GORGEOUS, don't-want-to-take-it-off ITSY BITSY Brazillian bikini! The bottoms (which are practically a thong) are bright yellow and the top is strapless and white which green, pink and yellow across the front. When in Brazil! x
We then wondered over to the black beach to meet some of the other girls and sunbathe for a while. Later we went for some dinner at this local restaurant where I had a DELICIOUS Brazillian fish stew with rice and something called Paçao (which was essentially a fish sauce)... SOOOO yummy!... then to be extra piggy, we then went to the bakery and bought some lemon drizzle cake for dessert! Defo one of my favourite things about Brazil so far is the portion size when it comes to cake!!! xx^
Back at the hotel we chatted with some of the others around the swimming pool and then washed the sand off ourselves (volcanic sand is VERY sticky).
Due to the hang over and the big lunch, we didnt bother with dinner so I stayed in with Bree to do our nails, eat some chocolate, re-pack my ruck sack and get an early night... Had a bit of a mare with Sharni when she refused to leave the window closed as we had no ceiling fan, which meant I woke up COVERED in mosquito bites... which REALLY annoyed me, but at least they weren't on my face this time!
Early breakfast at 8am as we had to set off to get our boat and bus to Paratay...

Paratay- Friday 3rd Feb
Our Journey to Paratay was via ferry for 1hr and then bus for about 4 hours.
We arrived mid afternoon, and from the outskirts of the town we were all a bit concerned, it looked pretty run down, but once we got to the coast it was actually very quaint. All the streets were (badly) cobbled and so walking around was spent looking at your feet so we didnt break an ankle! The houses, as usual were all an old colonial style and the people were much more friendly than in the Brazilian cities. Our hotel was nice, with all the rooms facing an open courtyard with big wooden beams making a balcony.
Again, I was in a room of three with Sharni and Rachel, but I got to sleep in the double bed this time, so it was nice to star fish... I really dont know how I ever had a decent nights sleep in a single!
Once we'd checked in Juan took us to a local cafe for lunch, I shared a chicken dish with Hannah which was really nice... The chicken was grilled with onions, bacon, chick peas and capers and came with rice and beans (of course), casava flour AND chips!! NOM NOM! I also had a fresh orange suco, but the passion fruit one was better! (I tried a bit of Jens) x
We went back to our hotel for our briefing before Juan took Bree, George, Jess, Sharni and I to a local waterfall where there were large algae-covered boulders that the end of the waterfall runs over, so the local people use it as a natural water slide and slide down into the pool on their feet or bums! As tourists we werent quite au fait with the technique, so we took carrier bags from the supermarket to sit on! The local men were very nice, trafficking us to the top and then giving us a push so we went faster! There was one guy who looked just like Tarzan and he was jumping and skipping over a vine as he slid down the rock, and even jumped over a girl at one point! x
George attempted to take a video but they weren't very good! SO MUCH FUN! x
After a few goes, we took some photos of the nearby rope bridge and then headed back for a shower as we smelt like pond water and the mosquitos were bugging us! GRR! x
Once clean a few of us went for dinner, just shared a potato salad with some lettuce and cucumber with Rachel (another girl I get on really well with) DSCF3798.jpg as I wasn't that hungry. Wasn't the most delicious meal, but nice enough! We then ventured to a local square where there was an area set up outside for a band and samba dancing and street vendors sold food and drinks. Bree and I had a kiwi vodka with ice! Very refreshing, and she also introduced me to 'Churros' which are AMAZING! long doughnuts which are warm and rolled in cinnamon sugar! SOOO YUMMY! x

Boat Trip
One of the optional activities here in Paratay was a boat trip which included a cooked lunch and all-you-can-drink caiparinhas! whilst you sunned yourself on a large collonial boat and visited two islands and two beaches!
Juan had told us that this would be the last opportunity to tan for a while, so, armed with our new bikinis Bree and I (along with Jess, Hannah and Sharni) decided to go on this trip!
Made it to the hotel for a much needed shower! Shared a room with Bree and Christina and had the chance to skype with Patch on George's ipad! :-D x
We had the day to chill out by the pool which was great as it was VERY hot here... the town was inland and so the temperature was nearly 40 degrees and there was no sea breeze! Read a few magazines which was great, Allison had bought a stash (clever girl) so we all shared copies of Heat and Marie Claire! x
Later in the afternoon, Bree and I attempted to find the supermarket and buy some beers for everyone... it was a LONG way away from the hotel, and then on the walk back MY FLIP FLOP BROKE!! the bit between your toes came through the bottom, so it wouldn't stay on my foot, and with the temp being so hi the ground was BOILING hot, queue 'operation plastic bag' where Bre tied the flip flop to my foot using one of the bags from the supermarket!! Ingenious and a complete success! We managed to walk with our heavy shopping all the way to Subway (for a sandwich) and the back! HUZZAH! x
Few drinks around the pool with everyone and then a GREAT night's sleep in an actual bed with AIR CONDITIONING!! woohoo! x

Argentinian side of Iguassu Falls
Early start due to the boarder crossing into Argentina (second stamp in my passport!).
Hannah wasn't well so Juan stayed with her during the day while the rest of us started our tour of the National Park!
First we went on a safari style jeep through the jungle- we saw these giant spiders which make their webs between the trees above your head and their silk is golden in colour! There was an annoying Japanese woman with her camera taking videos and photos of EVERYTHING, including US! instead of just enjoying the ride!

Then we all put our stuff into waterproof bags and the boat took us into the white spray at the base of the waterfall, where the water hits the river... we got SOAKED but it was sooo fun! Their was a stupid woman in front of me that decided it'd be a good idea to bring her toddler on the boat! The poor boy was terrified and crying his eyes out! x
We got off the boats and then walked around the lower levels of the falls to dry off... the bridges were horrible! All raised in the air and all with metal mesh for the flooring so you could see the drop below you if one of the panels fell through! So again, I was looking at my feet more that the surroundings! :-P x
Iguassu Falls is made up of several smaller waterfalls and then one HUGE one that connects Brazil and Argentina in the middle, the views were awesome and it was cool that the bridges went so close the waterfalls that the air was misty where the water was rushing, so you were cooled down by the spray!
We did a lot of walking that day so when we got back to the hotel we just chilled out and had an early night... met another GAdventures tour with lots of Australian people which was cool! x


Posted by sdestecroix 10:40 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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