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Sarah Coles

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Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
Sarah Coles's Travel Blog

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As all my friends and family know ive been a bit lost for past few years in all areas of life and I have not really known what to do with my life, sort of lost my way i suppose and thats weird for me as never felt like that before. Work began to suck more than usual, started to feel like i was in groundshog day! this is silly as I have had fun, I have been to fabulous places, met wonderful people and I have the best friends in the world and my family are brilliant. So in that respect i am very lucky. But if I dont do this trip then I am scared I will become a mad cat lady and look back when im 80 (if im lucky to get to that age) and think why didnt I do this! So ive chucked everything in, sold everything up and Im off at the end October for 6 months of travels. I start in South Africa, heading then to Australia, then New Zealand, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, Bali and then Hong Kong and home. And whats great, for at least half of it, im going with one of my best friends, Sam. She and I are going to have the best time ever - I hope!! So lets see what life brings!!

They think its all over, it is now!

Hong Kong, Hong Kong

This is it, my last day! Despite the rain and cloud, i actually quite like Hong Kong. Okay it has loads of shops and ive no money to buy but its nicer than Singapore as its actually alive and not sterile!
I stayed in the Chungking Mansions which possibly wasnt the best idea but was an experience, if you want to know what its like to sleep in the smallest bed without any windows and no room then its fab! oh and on top of that there is the undertone of crime and possible horror that surrounds here, with lots of staring! But despite all that I stayed in the Maple Leaf Guesthouse in the mansions which was possibly the cleanest place I have been in for ages and the little chap running it, John, was lovely. so it wasnt all bad. However it didnt make me want to stay longer so I headed to a luxurious far too expensive (but thats what credit cards are for) hotel down the road!! Much better!!!
Today I did the bus tour which to be honest isnt worth it. it barely stops and I prefer mooching but it saved my tired legs for a bit.
Just trying to find a karaoke bar tonight to round off my little 6 month trip!!!
On that note, I have to say I think I am the luckiest person alive at this moment. I have done what I have wanted to do, I had the guts to quit my job and home and go and even if I say so myself im proud of me for doing it. Its not been easy, there have been good and bad times but I have done so much in the last six months I cant actually believe or remember all I have done. I have had a ball.
Just one last thing, so where next time........!

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on April 27, 2009 from Hong Kong, Hong Kong
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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Sunny Lazy Days in Bali

Kuta, Indonesia

Well not much to say about Bali really, it was my time to be really lazy and yes I know everyone thinks ive had 6 months of doing nothing but trust me travelling is exhausting, early starts, short stopovers and not really unpacking and just constantly moving on every few days. so Bali was my time to stop!
I met up with Sam again and we had a few days in Sanur as the beach was lovely, sea wasnt so great but nice enough to dip in and out of to cool off. We then headed over to Nusa Lembongan where we stayed in a lovely Villa overlooking the sea, that became seaweed fields when the tide went out. I had a little exploration of the island that ended up with a punt down the mangroves and a ride back to my villa on the back of a random ladies moped as I hadnt realised how far I had walked and was far too lazy to walk all the way back!! Had a fantastic two dives off Nusa, the first was at Manta Point where I was lucky enough to see for over 50 mins, 6 massive mantas - well over 4 metres each. Absolutely beautiful and I have never seen anything as stunning underwater before. I could have watched them all day although I would have run out of air and died so it wasnt possible!! The second dive was a drift dive which was quite scary at times as the current was so unbelievably strong, not as scary though as the instructor deciding we would turn into the current to get back to the boat (NOT the idea of a drift dive). It was literally impossible to swim and we all struggled. I think I used over 80bar of air in 5 mins! it wasnt easy. Sadly, with Nusa and some of the beaches on the mainland Bali, the beaches were not nice. They were dirty and not clean at all. On Nusa there wasnt much of a beach so it was even more disappointing that what was there wasnt nice. Maybe ive been spoilt with the beaches ive been to in my life but i dont care, i need somewhere nice to lie down and get the sun!!
We headed back to the mainland after 3 days and returned to Sanur where we decided to stay for 7 days, the longest Ive stayed in one place since Sydney at Christmas! We negotiated an excellent rate at a really nice hotel, situated for pure laziness - right by the beach but with a pool so we had the best of both worlds without walking more than 2 minutes! We did break up the 7 days by going to visit Ubud for a day. Pretty place, nice for hiking and trekking and shopping, id done enough of all of that as had Sam so we mooched and then came back to the beach!
For our final 4 days we headed to Kuta. Nicer than i expected. It was hot and there was a beach! What more can I say! We did nothing again. I did try my hand at surfing but due to lack of funds and energy, i gave it an hour and that was it! More than enough to know I may get better but the constant water in my face and bikini coming down due to waves was enough for me!
Now off to HOng Kong.

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on April 25, 2009 from Kuta, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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Vietnam, the land of mopeds!

Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam, what made me come here? Well probably as a result of watching too many war films with dad when I was younger, the desire to hear the sound of a helicopter going across paddy fields (cos that would happen obviously!) and just because somewhere in my stomach, it was a place that I was drawn too and it didnt disappoint!
I arrived in Ho Chi Minh city (saigon) having spent a lovely flight, with leg room, next to a business man James (not the James that follows later) who wanted to make sure I would arrive safely at my chosen guesthouse. I stupidly (as it later comes to light) declined his kind offer - well I was brought up never to go anywhere with strange men - hah! Anyway, having found a cashpoint, realised I was a Viet millionaire now, i finally jumped in a cab and asked for it to be on the meter as per James advice. yes no problem, well until we start driving, no meter no work!! bloody brilliant. I said stop I shall get another. no no fine, we agree price. He gets his english speaking buddy on the phone, i agree 50,000 dong, pretty good. Haha, welcome to Vietnam, as the meter strangely starts working!! I just sat in the back and laughed. By this time, we are winding slowly round millions of mopeds. I dont think Ive seen so many mopeds in my life, in one place. All tooting, all going in different directions, no traffic lights but strangely, despite the chaos, it works!! This keeps surprising me all through Vietnam, the chaos works. rules of the road are not required. the only rule is beep your horn and you can go in any direction you like, threw any gap you like, regardless of anything else!! we finally made it into the city centre. I have my map poised which was a good thing as he decided to do a sight seeing tour - no no, just hotel, i say!! haha, no, after going round the same three streets 3 times, I say, no no you have been here many times, stop now! this makes him realise Im not totally stupid (just partially) and we finally end up in road opposite the alleyway to my hotel. 15 dollars it cost in the end!! thats many times more than the price agreed but as I later find out not that bad based on other travellers stories of their first taxi ride including my mate James (from NZ who i meet up with) who paid double that!!
The guesthouse (Vy Khanh) is a small quaint little place down a smaller quaint little alley and I think, hello Vietnam, im here!! nice place, nice people. I then decide to have a wander about. It takes me a while to get the courage to cross the roads, you have to simply look at the point you want to get to, make sure theres nothing bigger than a moped coming and then go!! The rules are a bit like paper rock scissors - pedestrian is bottom of the pile, then cycle, then moped, then car, then bus, then lorry. The problems start when lorry meets lorry or when car thinks its bigger than it is, who gives way - hahaha, no one - the road just gets wider, paths are used, whatever is used. I shall explain more when I talk about going to the mountains!
Anyway, afater a few attempts at the roads, I become immune to the noise and threats of imminent death and just keep thinking, they have to avoid me! simple!
Exhausted, I sit and decide to watch the world go by with a tiger beer. Sound tip for travelling here, sit and watch with a beer!! Within minutes, I have offers of moped trips, books for sale, tissues for sale, more books, more tissues, cigarettes, fans, you name it, people come up and want you to buy it. Its easy I think, ive handled this before in Africa and other asian countries, just be polite and say no. They know this though so produce a top trump - a young child asking you to buy it! they stand right by you, with big brown eyes pleading in their dirty clothes. Its not fair!!! okay so I ended up with two books, two tissue packs and some gum. Not bad, i could have come off far worse but at least ive bartered with them - they may be kids but im still not getting totally ripped off. Unlike James - within hours of me landing the poor guy is clearly in need of assistance. James and I met as friends in NZ and he heard I was coming over to vietnam. He had arrived the day before and had never been anywhere like it before. We met and i havent laughed so much in ages. He has basically been ripped off more in 24 hours than I wish to be in Vietnam in the whole time here - and indeed he carried on being ripped off. We went to the markets and I was like a jedi knight in his ear offering advice on prices etc as I was going to pee myself laughing so much if I just left him to their callous ways! It sort of worked. when I was with him and he paid for things it was okay, not a bad price. Left on his own, disaster. He'd buy a drink off the side street stalls, Id go and get one and i'd end up paying half of what he did!! brilliant!
ANyway, after a few days in HoChi Minh and me laughing way too much for my own good. We headed to the Cu Chi Tunnels for a day of vietcong. It was brilliant. The video we were given to watch before heading to the tunnel area in the jungly bit was just hysterical. I know it shouldnt have been and indeed not everyone was laughing. But how are you suposed to react when they have commentary over the war clips such as "but for the american evil devils, this young sweet innocent farm girl would not have had to shoot so many american devils" . All true probably but so funny. anyway, having tried not to laugh, we headed to the tunnels. Deep breaths, god they ware small. Made bigger for tourists. They demonstrate the original size with a vietcong man getting in and out of the hole in the ground. I could have had a go but it was evident just from looking my feet wouldnt get in let alone my hips and arse!! Id have been winnie the pooh stuck in the honey pot! The other tunnels were bigger but still small and after the first attempt where I did a girlie eek and ran out, I went back and made it 30 metres out of the 100 of that i am proud. It was so claustrophobic it was unbelievable. Thankfully my tensions were relieved by shooting an AK47, some people were dubious. Not me! Couldnt wait. It was fantastic. The target was demolished. I did get some crap in my eye and burnt my finger off the gun, but what can you expect with 30 year old pieces of equipment! Having seen my shoot, a Finnish girl Anna took the opportunity to do the same. We spent the evening chatting and it then came about she had dated Sammy Hyppia - maybe maybe not but it was a good night.
After Ho Chi Minh/Cu Chi tunnels James and I decided we may as well travel together for a bit as we were going in teh same direction and it would save costs. We opted initially for the bus to Mui Ne. This is a small beach area with lots of kite surfing. Nice but I'd just been to Fiji and was off to bali so sunbathing strangely for me wasnt at the top of my agenda. I got on a moped and headed up to the local village for a walk about the market and a look at the fishing village. The kitesurfing was amazing to watch and I would have had a go but the winds were too strong - oh well, maybe another time!
After Mui Ne we headed to Dalat in the mountains. The bus journey was hairy to say the least. The roads were non existant in places, and traffic doesnt stay in the correct side of the road. Overtaking was the best. I have never heard so many swear words from James in my life! Going round the hairpin bends up the mountains and overtaking on the bend without seeing whats coming - you dont need to - just beep and its fine - NOT! Lorrys coming towards us, lorries with cars overtaking them coming towards us. at some points, and this applied to all bus journeys, there were 6 lanes of traffic on a one lane road! how does that work. It does, well except the bus that crashed down the side of the mountain killing all 10 russian tourists!
Dalat was a strange place. Described in the books as an Alpine village. It is a bit, well its up a mountain and has french influences - always odd I think to see a vietnamese man wearing a beret! anyway, many people go there from Vietnam to honeymoon. Its nice but not that nice. I suppose again showing how different a communist country is from home.
As i was only going to spend a couple of nights here, I decided to do a day tour around as the thought of a moped didnt thrill me - more chaos but with hairpin roads!! James and I did a day tour. The tour was with vietnamese people so our views of the places visited differed from theres. They were so overexcited especially with the Valley of Love!! Its a place to go to where you can see great scenery and have photos of the valleys. Well yes so long as you dont mind neon signs with love flashing, or big hearts, or cartoon characters in the pics its okay! However this was the place I first experienced fame! we sat on a bench, thinking what the .... and loads of vietnamese school kids came up for photos with us!!! I couldnt understand it at first, then realised its no different to me taking pics of them! Its quite simply we are a novelty and are different and they love it, just as we do! This became even more apparent in Mai Chau in the mountains of the north where I watched some traditional dancing with locals and all they wanted to do was take my picture!! brilliant!
After Dalat, we headed (James decided to come with me as he was still being ripped off) to Nha Trang another beach place but with some old temples worth seeing. Another hairy bus journey but we arrived safe and sound if not a bit battered and bruised. I must add throughout all this, when stopping anywhere, everyone had been so friendly. I was asked to sit and drink with locals, we chatted to them, they were lovely.
Nha Trang was okay. big beach resort with high rise hotels. Not my thing. I had a wonder and persuaded James to go and see the main temple. It was hot but a fantastic morning. More pics with people and me.

Then from there to Hoi An which had to be my favourite place after Saigon. It was small town with little roads, few mopeds (well still alot but less than anywhere else) and despite having arrived at 7am after 12 hour overnight bus journey which included a pit stop in a cockroach infested cafe and even worse (but necssary) squat toilets, it was a great place. We tried a few places to stay but they were full and in the end opted for the hop on a moped with the bags option and get taken to some randomn place. To be fair, this random hotel was actually fab. $20 for a plush hotel with massive pool! not bad! Hoi An is the place for getting clothes made and having had most of mine trashed by now, or become too big (not from weight loss though more likely stretching) i had a couple of dresses made, one skirt and a pair of trousers for about $30. not bad. They arent brilliant but they will do for now. Leaving James to get more sleep I headed out on the bicycle around the town, out into the paddy fields and off on a mini adventure. During that time I had my fortune read, met a man with an Ox who let me stroke it and I could have sat on the Ox if I had wanted but it looked overworked as it was and I thought the last thing it needs is me sitting on it! I watched kids fishing, people working the fields and cattle. It was just lovely. One of the best days there.

Sad to leave Hoi An we headed to Hue where it rained and hasnt stopped until today. James wasnt well and I headed off into Hue for a little look around in the rain. I opted for the cyclo option and sat back whilst someone else took me about. The man cycling was telling me what had been bombed in the citadel area by the americans and that he was 3 at the time and clearly didnt like the americans. Cant blame him! It was a nice part of the city but that was all. The rain continued, and with nothing left to see we decided to get the overnight train up to Hanoi.

The train was brilliant. Well, the bunks were dirty, it was smelly and noisy but we couldnt see any traffic coming towards us, as we did in the buses, the beeping wasnt there and we could walk around. I managed to walk the length of the train and run into men carrying 100's of live blackbirds in crates, some with lids, some without, the noise and state of them was awful and i made up my mind I wouldnt be eating that night!! No other problems, train was great. loved it. kept looking out at the stops and seeing the hawkers selling things to the passengers. definitely best journey.

Hanoi was okay. Is okay I should say. We arrived 5am and headed in a taxi to the hotel I had thought sounded okay from the bible (lonely planet). We arrived and the night guard was asleep but took our bags and told us to come back at 8am! brilliant, it was pouring with rain, we were in a side street which hadnt yet woken up with rats in running around. No where was open. This is the time we wish the communists would let in 24 hour McDonalds! As I sat there on the side of the street with my rain poncho on and James smoking his way furiously threw 20 ciggies, I realised I should be upset or stressed or angry but was not at all. I just sat blank waiting. I hadnt realised before until this point how much I had changed over the years and how much I had sort of given up on things. To me sitting here in teh rain with no where to go wasnt that bad, it wasnt that important and was nothing compared to how I had felt over the last few years with things. Stupid I know, whether its a good thing or bad thing I dont know. But its how I am now. It explains alot!

It wasnt quite so great when the houses opened up, the stalls set up and fish were being battered to death, chickens cut and frogs being carried around (later to have their heads cut off) - I did have to cover my ears for a while and couldnt eat for a bit longer.

When we finally got the room about 10am in the end, wet and tired but alive, we headed for a wander and a drink. Hanoi is nice, its smaller than Saigon but just as noisy. I find it a bit more claustrophobic as the roads are smaller but its okay.
As with all places in Vietnam I realised theres not much to actually see, in terms of great temples etc, its about the people and how life is here. Its a place to sit and watch the world go by and this is what we did in the evening with our 3000 dong beers, (50p(. Its a crazy place.

For the last two days I have been to Mai Chau in the hills staying in a homestay. This is a stilt hut with a blanket on the floor and a mosquito net. Its great. I met a girl Lottie on the trip, she is 20 and was the only other person who spoke english on the tour (4 of us in total in an old army jeep). She is a fantastic person. So young but well travelled, well educated, fun and interesting. AFter cycling and walking on the first day, we found out it was the first Kings birthday celebration weekend and we were invited to a random party in the paddy fields with dancing and fires and karaoke!! They had a tv and mikes in the middle of this field and we had to sing a britany song - Lucky!!! i think it was the most surreal moment of my life. Im surrounded by vietnamese people, with communist flags, celebrating a dead kings birthday, in a field singing britany spears. Need I say more!!!
I dont think I can say more. More has happened in Vietnam and I could talk for hours bt i realise this is more than enough!!!

Im done with the mopeds and noise now and I am quite happy to lie on a beach for 17 days in Bali!

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on April 6, 2009 from Hanoi, Vietnam
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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A few days in Singapore

Singapore, Singapore

Sad as I was to leave Fiji, i think I maybe left just in time. My last day there was wet beyond belief but as I was just getting back to the mainland it didnt really matter. So I headed off to Singapore. I went with ideas of english women drinking tea and men smoking pipes - too much Tenko for me! Actually though whilst some of the colonial buildings thankfully still exist, its very much an asian country with many people all of whom have no idea about space! I was far too british, queuing, waiting, taking time - NO - there is no time, you have to push and rush even if at times its not necessary. I gained a few bruises , one very memorable one from an old lady who I kept literally running into on Sentosa Island. I stood paying for a ticket to do some weird and wonderful viewing on the island (its a very odd place) and as soon as I had my ticket just in my hand she elbowed me out of the way! brilliant! I may have sworn, i know I should respect my elders but what a .....! anyway it was actually funny. I hadnt realised how slow my pace of life had been since Africa and it was actually refreshing to see a bit of hustle and bustle - and to be honest, Singapore is probably one of the least hustly bustly places in Asia! (I know this as I recall from previous travels AND my first minutes in Vietnam! but thats another blog!)
I stayed in Singapore for 5 days which was more than enough but was necessary as I had to get my visa for Vietnam. This entailed visting this dodgy little room in a media building that had no indication at all that it was anything but some sort of export company but it was the right place. i dutifully or stupidly left my passport with the very old man behind the desk, who looked anything between 50 and 200 years old, got a receipt that basically could have been for anything, paid my dollars and was told to come back 1.30pm four days time! oh well. you have to trust people sometimes. Thankfully four days later, it was with a visa that looks like it could have been cut out of a comic.
during the four days of waiting I think I walked every road in Singapore and its outskirts. This was much to the horror of local people who, if i asked for the odd direction, would always say - to walk, no no no its very very far - and ignoring their advice, I would find it was five minutes down the road! I used the MRT (subway) a few times, just for fun, but found walking down the steps was further than the actual walk to the next stop!
I think the nicest moments I had there, and all were interesting, but the nicest was one morning I headed out to a Monastery/temple about 40 minutes outside of Singapore centre. I was the only western visitor and it was quite stunning. Built 100 years ago, there were forests around it, now just high rise housing complexes. I was invited to join the retreat that was happening but thought probably best not, i had a minor fear I may be required to shave my head and wear orange which isnt my best colour :)
it was a very peaceful place though and it was nice to sit and chat with the monks about their work, the burial ceremonies that were taking place and a bit of life generally.
I then headed back to the masses, having a drink and bite to eat on the MRT as I went, only to realise there was a massive fine for eating or drinking on it and no wonder people were looking at me! I thought it was my natural beauty (or possibly red sweaty face and lanky hair) that was making them look!
The other moment was sitting in RAffles. It was like going back in time. Ive been to colonial hotels before, particularly in Sri Lanka so am used to the way the staff act etc but what a stunning place. I sat with my singapore sling listening to a woman singing a bit of Ella Fitzgerald and it was lovely. my only moment of sadness, i was there alone with no one to dance with but to be honest, once I had that romantic notion it soon went, who am I kidding , I cant dance anyway!
other than that not much to say about Singapore. Sentosa Island is a man made and still being made holiday island where you can get a cable car across to, go on stupid rides that arent fun, go to a man made beach that is looking over 100's of ships in the dirty harbour ocean. ALthough I did go and see the dolphin show. COmpletely against all i believe in with regards to animals in captivity, and I kept willing the dolphins to just jump over the boundary and swim out to see, but then thinking about it they were probably safer there. The show itself was nothing spectacular, and couldnt even compare in one second to my experiences in Mozambique and Kaikoura when the dolphins swam with us by choice, jumped out of the water and spun about by choice, but they are dolphins and they are still beautiful. So when the opportunity came to stroke one of them, I couldnt refuse. It may never happen again. I cried. sad I know but I cried, stunning mammals. I wont go to one of those shows again though. Swimming with them in the wild is for me!
So thats singapore, I didnt shop, despite the hundreds of malls they have - i ate on the backstreets with the locals, I walked rather than use any form of transport so didnt really do it the tourist way and it was better for it. my next stop Vietnam! Im writing this blog from there now, what a place!

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on March 27, 2009 from Singapore, Singapore
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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The wonders of Fiji

Suva, Fiji

So after a very hectic five weeks of travelling around New Zealand (and when I say hectic, obviously its not like being at work - thank god!), i headed for some much needed r&r in Fiji. However, as with all the rest of the places ive been, budget was useless - dont ever suggest I go into accountancy or anything where figures matter!!!
I arrived in Nadi airport to the Bula welcome, five lovely fijian men in their sulus (sarongs - ala david beckham) playing their guitars. Overnight in the Nadi Bay resort hostel (they call these places resorts - they really arent anything more than a few rooms and maybe a restaurant - please dont go thinking i was in a proper holiday "resort"!)
didnt sleep as was in the hottest dorm ever with a fan that really did no more than make a noise rather than produce any air plus I was so worried about getting bitten by mosquitos having had more than my fair share in NZ! Sadly whilst it was a nice break, it didnt stop the early mornings. I had to be up at 6 am to get the Yasawa Flyer boat. As with all things in 3rd world countries and yes Fiji is one of them, even more so after the cyclone destruction earlier in the year, i didnt expect too much in the way of organisation and I was right. Ive learnt not to expect anything over my time travelling then im never disappointed and always surprised! My tickets for the boat etc hadnt arrived with the team at the boat but nevertheless I got on heading towards my first stop Bounty Island. It was lovely. Small - you can walk round it in 10 minutes at a slow pace! white sand and turquoise blue sea. I treated myself to a Bure (bungalow) as after so many nights in dorms i really couldnt face another especially as I was still hacking badly from the cold I picked up in NZ. I was so pleased when I walked in not to see a bunk bed facing me!!! what a relief! it was right on the beach with a hammock (which I attempted once and you can probably guess how that went!!). I then found out that Bounty Island was the place that they filmed Celebrity Love Island - the one when Jane Middlemass went to pieces over Lee Sharp and Michael Greco was in that too. Well, I was over the moon!! I was walking the very same sand that they had!! quality.
Now you may think that I headed straight onto the sand and laid down for the next three days - you would be wrong. THe first thing I did was watch a lovely man climb a coconut tree and bring me a fresh coconut to drink and eat! heaven!
He did ask if I wanted a go but even if the plan of losing much weight whilst travelling had happened, it still wasnt going to happen - me climbe a tree with just a knife - urm!
After that I did lay down, by the pool overlooking the sea. Apart from a couple of fabulous dives including a shipwreck dive, i stayed lying down for the next 2 days moving for meals - with breakfast still at some ridiculously early time of 8.30am!
AFter Bounty came Octopus Resort on Waya Island. This was further up the Yasawa group of islands and meant a lovely couple of hours on the boat and loads of picture taking of all the islands i passed. Having decided that my budget was rubbish anyway, I decided to blow it even more with another lovely bure! what the hell you only live once! This one had a fantastic outside shower so I could shower and look at the stars at the same time!
This place was top quality! THe food sadly was amazing, the beach just as good and I met some fab people there which thankfully meant that when I wanted to go snorkelling, being the scaredy cat of this that I am, I didnt have to go alone! This was good as we found a leopard shark and some other rather big fish. Now I know you will say, but you dive sarah, how can you be scared of snorkelling - its not the same! im shark food on top of the water and as these islands are so quiet, often I could be the only person in the sea at that time!! you see - its all very reasonable!
Anyway, went for a couple of more dives at some awesome sites. Saw Sharks, turtles, moray eels and the best coral ive ever seen.
The evenings included hermit crab racing - in which I came 3rd! wow! lucky I picked that one! although I sadly couldnt hold the crab to put it in the bucket before the race, eek it may have bitten me! anyway, i was obviously having a girlie moment.
I also visited the village and went to the church service on the sunday. It was lovely. Well, the singing was lovely and meeting the people was lovely. I have no idea what was said and the preaching included quite a bit of shouting, but the singing was lovely. The kids if they didnt behave got a wack of a stick from an old man, which seemed to sort them out - dont worry no one got hurt! We walked to the village passing loads of cute pigs and piglets only to remember we had ribs the night before!!!
I was sad to leave this place, made some good friends and it was beautiful but I moved on to Oarsman Bay on Nacula. This was supposed to be one of the nicest places/beaches per the Lonely Planet. I arrived with a couple of others to no Bula welcome, unlike the other places and a staff meeting in which some of the staff got the sack as Fiji has been so quiet tourist wise since the floods. The chief (who spent all day everyday drinking Kava) owns the resort and clearly people werent happy. The food was edible, just although got better after a few days and maybe I had been too aware of how good the food was at Octopus! Clearly things werent right and I thought someone had died at one point as the atmosphere was so ghostly! I sat with two girls chatting and having a drink on the 3rd night when all the lights were turned off and the staff took our drinks. I wouldnt have minded if it was 11 or 12 at night, but it was 9pm!! thank god I brought some books to read!!Anyway, it was hot, it wasnt england and it was lovely so I cant complain.
I did three more dives which included more sharks. The final dive I did there was a shark dive. It meant feeding the sharks to get them to come to the coral. I had a moral dilemma about going as this is wrong. Its against nature and one day the sharks will realise whats going on! BUT i have done 24 dives and seen a handful of sharks so I went. I shall punish myself later! It was amazing. 2-4 metre sharks swimming about. Wasnt quite so amazing when I looked to my left hand side (being on the end of the spectator row next to the massive coral reef) to see a Big Moray Eel opening its mouth looking at me just 5 cm from my head!!! And yes you can scream underwater. And yes I didnt know i could swim quite so quickly!!!!
Whilst on Nacula i went to visit another village which included my badly bartering with the women for souvenirs - I had to buy off each woman as I felt bad for them, they have so little! We headed to the school where class 10 sang several songs including the best rendition of Kum By Yar ive ever seen. I couldnt stop laughing with their actions. It was fantastic.
So after 10 days on the islands, I headed back sadly to Nadi only to be greeted with a thunderstorm and torrential rains soaking our bags and all our clothes! i have to admit I couldnt help but feel smug I was leaving rather than going! Id had lovely weather and a fab time. I have to go back there some day and see more islands and do more diving!
So now im in Singapore before I head to Vietnam!
Im sort of liking this travelling.......

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on March 16, 2009 from Suva, Fiji
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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New Zealand from Taupo, South island back to Auckland

Kaikoura, New Zealand

Apologies for the delay in posting my latest blog but i just havent had time. i have been having an absolute blast in New Zealand. I really dont know where the five weeks have gone. I havent stopped and yes I am even more shattered than before so Fiji will be very welcome.
New Zealand is amazing. I have travelled round alot of the north island and even more of the south island and i love it all. I have lost track of what i have seen, where i have been but i know i havent hated one single minute. Wellington is a lovely city. I arrived there on the day before the Rugby 7's so was welcomed with a parade (just for me!) of all the rugby teams and even though i didnt know any of the players, they all looked very fit and hot!!! It was Waitangi Day which is the treaty bank holiday so Wellington was buzzing. It was hot and i sat by the harbour and took the world in. My first thought was i could live there! but then I have had that thought about pretty much every place I have seen in New Zealand! The boat trip across the cook strait to the South Island was beautiful. Thankfully it was a very calm sea that day and I got to enjoy the views from the top. I cant even describe it, it was just beautiful. Nelson was a lovely town. I stayed in the Paradiso (kept calling it the guesthouse paradiso but it wasnt). I treated myself to a single room so I could get a few nights uninterupted sleep. However I was still surprised to see that they could make a double bed into a double bunk bed! never mind it was all mine and I only bumped my head once, well maybe twice!! The main purpose of staying in Nelson isnt so much Nelson itself, which is a nice town with a nice beach area and nice shops and some fun bars, but to go and visit the area known as Abel Tasman. Its a stunning mix of forests, cliff edge walks and beautiful white sand beaches. I opted for a day trip there, which meant a boat trip - lovely - followed by a 4 hour walk along the coastline. it was just stunning. made more so by the 2 hour sit on the beach and swim in the sea half way round. Anyone who misses out Nelson and Abel Tasman misses out one of the best places ive ever seen.
I then headed to Greymouth which really is a nothing place except that the hostel we stayed in was called Noahs Ark and there are themed rooms. Everyone wanted the monkey room, a friend got the Zebra room, another the Pig Room, I ended up in the Kiwi room - one girl said that its no even an animal! I explained that it was the national bird of New Zealand so was quite a cool room to be in!!! The room was green with pictures of Kiwi jumping out of planes and driving etc on the walls. Its tacky but fun!!!
After Greymouth came Franz Josef. Despite the bad weather i was lucky enough to get on the Helihike up the top of the glacier so saw the blue ice, climbed through cracks in the ice, down into tunnels that had developed and basically got very wet and cold. it was amazing. As there was little else to do though I went quad biking for the first time in 20 odd years, it was hysterical especially with one of my friends Joe, showing off doing spins and twists, only to get stuck in mud!!!
Then onto Lake Wanaka where the six of us, Myself, Heather, Henrike, James, Steve and Erik, booked into a hotel where we got two triple rooms for the price of a dorm bed, but with the luxury of towels, fridge, tv, bath - yes a bath!!!!!! heaven. Wanaka is small, sweet, nice Lake, good walks but i shall remember it for an evening in an irish bar (obviously) playing Jenga. Absolutely cracking night ending up in the Mint bar having bumped into guys who had stolen a fence post from a local church for a photo op - they put it back! They were Kiwi Experience bus people, obviusly!!
then came Queenstown, probably the best place in New Zealand. I was a bit unsure at first as its called the party capital of NZ and at my age my partying days are done (dont laugh its true......!) \As we crossed mountains and past by lakes, we turned a corner and just could see over Queenstown. It took my breath away. it was in such a beautiful area. Its an alpine type place but by a lake. A few of us spent the afternoon with a cold beer by the waterfront basked in sunshine. It was lovely. Sadly the drinking carried on into the evening - well about 5am! It was a random night with lots of laughs and again one for the memory box! The saturday morning wasnt so great, slight headache and tiredness, so Heather and I headed to the top of the gondola and watched the people going down the luge track, jumping off the bungy ledge (which at that point i was calling them nutters) and paragliding.
There must have been something about the freshair there, or the Fergburgers (which have to be the best burgers in the world ever - official!), but Sunday morning I woke up, and decided today ws the day. I walked into the booking office and asked to do the bungy. I wanted to do the Nevis (134m drop) but it was full. I asked about the bridge - also full. Only one was the Ledge. Crazy. I dont think so, its off the mountain and has rocks and trees all around it. So i went hangliding. For 20 minutes I actually thought I was a bird. It was sensational. But it wasnt enough for my adrenalin mood. Back to the office, book me on the bungy then!!! 10 minutes later, I walked up to the Ledge Bungy overlooking Queenstown, handed them my ticket, got weighed, got strapped off and ran off the edge. There is a DVD, i swear alot in it. I apologise for those who ever see it! I didnt think about it all. I didnt look down, that would have been stupid. I have to say running off the edge of a ledge into nothing is the weirdest sensation ever, scary as hell but extremely exhilarting and peaceful all in one! i think my brain shut down from sensory overload as I dont recall too much other than getting my face whipped by the rope leaving a black eye! I would do another one any day of the week. It was amazing. Adrenalin rush over!!! So off I went to Glenorchy for a nice horsetrek seeing random vague sights from the Lord of the Rings film.
the following day was a trip to Milford Sound. Its a fjord. The bus took 5 hours and for the whole five hours the bus driver had his mike on and said absolutely every single thought that came into his head. I thought I was bad at wittering on but this guy was the master!!! At one point the few of us that had realised he was clearly crazy, were laughing so much tears rolled down our faces, particularly when one guy Neal was guessing the end of the drivers sentences and got one of them right!!! THe driver not only pointed out the mountains, the rivers etc, he told us of the two men in the Yute on the RHS who had either been fishing or were going fishing! That there were lots of weather conditions that hit this area including - sun, rain, ice, snow, warm, hot, sleet, frost, - you get the picture. We also had a man mowing his lawn pointed out!! It was factually fascinating as you can imagine. Having nearly peed my pants with laughter, i thought I couldnt possibly do this on the way back for another 5 hours so opted to fly back over the mountains and fjords which took 40 mins and a massive dent in the credit card! it was worth it. The boat trip through the Sound was beautiful. The flight back was beautiful. See pictures, words cannot describe! even better go yourself!
I was sad to leave Queenstown as it was also the time i left some good friends I had made. i have no doubt I shall see them again though. I was even sadder as its the only place I have been asked for ID and seriously had to show it!!! Must be something in the water there that makes me feel young!
After queenstown came Dunedin, a small town just like one in Scotland. It had a town clock which struck and this was the first time ive thought of home properly. There was a cadburys choc factory but i couldnt go, its not proper english cadburys so whats the point!! i shall save myself for the one in the UK!! AFter Dunedin was Lake Tekapo which is pretty. The weather was lovely again so despite freezing water i managed a swim in the glacial lake followed by a couple of hours drying off on the beach. the evening was beautiful and spent skimming stones with Neal who nearly killed a duck!! harsh!!!
Then onto Christchurch. Even more like home. I thought of Cambridge but its supposed to replicate Oxford. Very pretty, not alot to do though. I took the Tram, with stops of no more than 2 minutes apart, I felt so lazy!! the weather sadly was also english so an afternoon at the cinema was required where I watched the film, "hes just not that into you", a film every woman ought to watch.
Now im in Kaikoura ready to cross to Wellington back to Auckland. Yesterday I went whale watching and saw sperm whales. OMG they are massive. Today was a dream day, i got to swim with dolphins again. Only this time there were over 100, one touched my arm as it swam past me, looking at me. others went ruond in circles, underneath, overhead. It was unbelievable. I couldnt breathe. The guys on the boat who do this everyday have to have the best job in the world. I wanted to stay in the water all day with the dolphins. It was unbelievable. Once again Ive been so lucky. I dont even know how to appreciate everything ive done, seen, or the people ive met. All i know is i dont want it to end!

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on February 23, 2009 from Kaikoura, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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New Zealand - North Island

Auckland, New Zealand

I dont even know where to start, how fantastic is New Zealand!!!! I dont want to put people off Australia, but this place is far better and thats not just because the Maori men can be rather cute!! The scenery is amazing, the people are friendly and everyone is chilled out.
I arrived in Auckland, usual bunk bed sigh and being woken constantly by backpackers who think its sensible to put every item they have into a separate carrier bag so when they need something they can rustle for hours!!! As for Auckland I thought what a cool city. Theres only 1.6m people resident in NZ, so you can imagine how quiet really Auckland is even though most people live there, but it has loads of city stuff and the obvious irish bars!!! Its pretty, the museum was fantastic and im not really one for museums all the time but this was worth the visit. Firstly it meant I had to get the bus and passed through the quaint part of Auckland, called Parnell - very old english in style with lawn tennis clubs!! The museum was only $5 to get in so that was a welcome relief after Australia, now named by me - the most expensive place where men have mullets still, in the world!!! They have loads of maori carvings and items of history, with great info on the history of NZ through to modern day. They have a house which you can sit in, and witness an earthquake and volcanic eruption, which they say is always possible as many of the volcanos are still active here - great!!! scary, it was like being in one of those disaster films!! The skytower gave great views and of course with it being New Zealand, you can jump off it if you want to - attached to a bungy type thing obviously!! its not just for suicides!! I didnt, mainly because I wanted to save my pennies for the sky dive that i did today in Taupo which i shall come back to!!
I went up to Paihia in the Bay of Islands, north of Auckland on the magic bus. We ummed and ahhed about transport and actually this was a good call. We think the alternate bus choice - the kiwi experience (or 18-25's party bus as it could be called) call us on the magic bus, the tragic bus, but who cares. We dont have to smell vomit every morning on it so thats cool!!! good mix of people but the nearer the front you sit (which i like to do so I can see more, be less travel sick and have a sort of control thing going with the driving - which remains awful!!), the freakier the people are!! that says alot for me!! mainly older ones, or very high maintenance old women from germany who dont shut up and expect the driver to organise their entire holiday. its entertaining. I ended up with old man from india who sadly had been booked into the wrong YHA in a place we werent even going to and he was very confused so I became his PA or as some including the driver said, his girlfriend - urmmmm NO!!! he was sweet enough except for the constant hacking and gobbing he did which really wasnt nice, especially before breakfast!! Had another french lady who thought i was the guide and kept asking me questions! i just made up the answers, kept her happy and me entertained.
The bus takes you from a to b, sadly despite being called magic there is no platform 9 1/2 or chimney dust that makes the journeys quicker but it doesnt matter, for you see NZ and it takes you to other places of interest in between mainly so you can have a go at trying to kill yourself in some extreme way that day from rafting to bungy! they had the helicopter bungy banned as apparently that was just too extreme - you think!!! nice bunch of people who you tend to see most of the time, by overlapping with what they are doing or just staying same sort of places for same length of time. this resulted in us actually spending quite a funny night in an irish bar, obviously with some irish people called Patrick and Patrick and other friends of ours from the bus, heather, Steve, James and Jesse and just having a laugh. I was momentarily distracted from our conversations about farts - well they were boys, so it was turned to that level, anyway i was momentarily distracted by a conversation with an american named Tyler with very lovely eyes and quite a fit bod, who had a house in Taupo, house in LA and ran his own company!! Sadly my backpacking attire, lack of hairdryer and make up didnt help my flirting! i returned to the farting conversation instead, far more my level obviously!! Anyway i digressed as usual!! First stop was Paihia which was beautiful, its part of the Bay of Islands and the sky was blue and there was no rain!! we were only there overnight and whilst meant to be there by 12, we didnt get there until 2.30 because our bus driver at that time was obsessed with stopping every half an hour for coffee!! i managed to do a 16km walk to the local waterfalls, past the Treaty area and so saw a fair bit. shattered but worth it. I had an older couple walking behind me, mid 50's and so i kept speeding up so they could walk alone and so could i, then they sped up, it ended up with me doing a run for a few km's on and off but they still caught up!! apparently they wanted to walk with me as they were worried about me doing the walk back on my own!! whereas i thought they were going to murder me! haha. that will teach me for thinking of blair witch whilst walking through the forest and mangrove swamps!
After Paihia, down to Rotorua via Auckland again. Fab place, cant actually remember what i did there. oh yeah i have remembered (this is the second attempt at this blog though which meant I had to go and look at what i did!! im old, so what!) Rotorua was nice. Had a mooch as usual, which included a bit of shopping for a pair of long trousers as only have jeans and i resisted the temptation for pretty tops, not necessary really!! i also found loreal suntan lotion which we had been looking for since SA!! anyway, of important, its a massive geothermal area, ie volcanic and you may die, so went to a geothermal spa, called Hells Gate spa. I know, why wouldnt you want to go there, its so inviting!! i expected both before and on arrival, which sorry to digress again, involved a pick up driver who toured us around the industrial area of Rotorua showing us and telling us about the pine tree industry and planting, the five girls on there were a bit dumbfounded as we were really more interested in the spa and massage but needless to say it helped the following day with information as my second role as tour guide on the magic bus with mad french lady!! back to the spa, expected there to be bikers outside and there should have been. The spa, not so relaxingly started off with an hours walk around the geothermal pools which had signs like if you throw something in it we will make you pick it up, and you will have no skin left!! it smelt and was bubbly hot stuff but actually pretty cool especially as you dont many of those around Norwich, well except in Prince of Wales rd on a Fri night or yarmouth!! after the hours walk around and millions of attempts to get actually bubbling up of bubbling hotpools, i came across Benny the maori carving man who suggested i have a go. So i had a go, my attempt to carve a symbol (of mother and child - cheap present for mum!), looked more like that of a five year old and i may be doing an injustice to five year olds but anyway, it was fun. then the spa. first of all 20 mins in a mud pool. Wasnt really sure what to do, do i put more mud on me or do I just sort of sit there, so i just did and then thought others have been in here, nearly freaking i realised it doesnt matter you are sat in a pile of mud anyway, how dirty can you be!!!! after that a lovely massage, nice end to the morning. In the evening was the Tamamaki Village night. This was superb despite our being picked up with the rest of those staying at the Base Hostel who were the Kiwi Experience people. We had to elect a chief and the guy was more julian clary than jonah lomu so we thought our chances of being scary were slightly slim!!! He sort of did the Haka in a whigfield styley!!! oh well!!! The maori evening was fantastic and that was not just because i spent most of the night perving at muscles and trying to work out what , if anything, they had under there regalia!
After that, we had a fire alarm go off at 2.46am because one of the drunken kiwi experience teens opeend the fire door!! so it was a bit like being back at uni, standing outside, next to a bar, in pjs except this time an old german man was moaning at me, about the english including me, and muttering profanities to me in german!!!
Next day, bit tired, we headed for Taupo, without the kiwi experience vomiters, and I did go through the glowworm caves at Waitoma with the old indian boy who gave me a hug and obviously thought as it was dark, it was like a date!! we were in a boat in teh caves i hasten to add otherwise i would have moved away!! We stopped at the Huka Falls, which were amazing and no way would i try to raft down that. seems no one did as death was a certainty based on the past!!! Then we arrived Taupo and the sky dive. Fantastic. no bunks this time in the hostel but beds that if they had painted wheels and a steering wheel would haev been the right size for a child!!! anyway, after an evening in the pub with the tennis and irish people plus others, we got up ready for me to do the 15000 feet sky dive. It was the best thing ever despite having the guy strapped to me - this was all legal and not bondage as Sam refered to - who thought it funny to keep laughing and saying my straps werent on right and just giving me this oh dear look, then tapping to the other guys, looking at me and my gear and just looking sorry for me - men!!!! anyway, best jump ive had - so to speak!!! i think i swore - in a good way all the way down!! not sure what to do next to top that
anyway, maybe a bungy............

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on February 1, 2009 from Auckland, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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Uluru to Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia

I have had a fantastic last few weeks in Australia, which is good on the basis the middle part was pretty pants, mainly due to the weather. Just one of those things. As you will have guessed however, the rain followed us to Ayers Rock (Uluru) - just the one shower - but to be honest it wasnt minded. It rarely rains there so it was pretty amazing actually. As for Uluru, it was beautiful. I witnessed two sunsets and one sunrise and they were stunning skys. The first sunset was surrounded by 30 other buses and a few hundred people i suppose but once you look at the sun setting and the colours taking hold of Uluru, you forget all that and its amazing. The following sunset was probably my favourite, the colours lit the rock and i rode there on a Harley which is possibly the closest I shall ever get to a little dream I had of touring round Australia on the back of a motorbike so it was pretty sweet, plus I had champagne which helps!! I also watched it surrounded by half a dozen cars and a handful of people which made it a bit more special. the sunrise was good but nothing like sunrise and if anyone had a choice, id suggest sunset - plus it means you dont have to get up at a ridiculous hour ie 4am!!! How did I manage that - im not actually sure, especially as in our wisdom we had booked to do a tour of Kata Tjuta or the Olgas as they were called which included a 4 hour walk through them, over them, up them, down them etc. It was stunning. It was hot. We were bothered constantly by flies and my arm was like a constant windscreen wiper going to get rid of them. However, it was stunning. It was peaceful, beautiful and possibily better than Uluru, in my opinion. Needless to say i slept all afternoon!!
After Uluru, i headed to Melbourne, changing planes at Alice Springs so got a glimpse of the Flying Doctors service. Melbourne is wicked. I really like it. It has a good buzz to it without being pretenscious or busy. We went to the open tennis for the day and that was the first time id seen live tennis at that level and I have to say I loved it. Cant believe I stopped watching it a few years back so was unfamiliar with a few of the lesser knowns but the atmosphere was cool. We went prepared for sitting in the sun all day, but probably going back to Sarahs poor luck with tickets we were in the shade. I say poor luck, probably not looking at the way some of the people had roasted! Plus we did sneak round to different seats - it looked a bit like musical chairs for a while.
Today was rounded off with a mooch about the city, which was fantastic, alot of very nice spots here and then, yes, it had to be done, a Ramsey Street tour. Apparently its only the brits who do this - cant believe it!!! i had considered the Ramsey night quiz and karaoke with Karl Kennedy and his Band but sadly its only on Mondays - boo!!! got to meet michelle sully and went round the studios and of course Ramsey Street! cheese but i loved it! Tomorrow Sydney then New Zealand Monday - I cannot wait. Loving my time away and would recommend it to anyone!

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on January 23, 2009 from Melbourne, Australia
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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Hervey Bay to Cairns

Cairns, Australia

Cant believe I havent written anything since arriving in Hervey Bay, although i churned out enough rubbish so probably good to have a rest! well the reason I havent written is basically not too much to say really. As some of you may have guessed from tones of messages and previous blogs not really loving Australia as much as South Africa. Dont know why, lack of culture maybe and no, not even now seeing the Aborigines is helping probably because the ones i have met are sadly all drunks and looking the worse for wear due to the europeans introduction of alcohol last century!! nice! Hervey Bay was a nice little town, with lots of homes that looked the same, again a bit Stepford wifey but the main reason was to leave there and head across from the marina to the infamous Fraser Island. This is the largest Sand Rainforest Island in the world. It was cool, until we got the YHA and were told that if we wanted to see it we had to hire a 4x4. No problems, well yes, they didnt have any. So what about tours - as offered by the YHA? no - they didnt do tours! okay, so we were in a remote island, very large island, with no transport, so nothing to see!!! not good. Sam and I looked at each other and went to the bar! Thankfully we met a barman who kindly gave us free drinks - that helped. He gave us free internet - that helped and we found Scrabble!!! it is a life saver, although I have to play the world champion - aka Sam! damn!!! the poor barman - Heath (and no he didnt look like Mr Ledger in any of his films!), felt so sorry for us, he came and told us he had sorted out a 4x4 for us to hire (at discount!). WE love Heath! so the next day, we jumped in just like Thelma and Louise and went burning rubber up and down the sandunes and beaches. It was awesome, despite - yes youve guessed it - the lovely aussie weather (RAIN!). it was really cool and we saw a couple of dingos! cant be bad. thank god for Heath.
So we started to love Fraser Island until we met our room mate!! this time it wasnt a smelly boy or snoring person, it was a F##**n huge spider. My worst nightmare. Sams worst nightmare. It became even worse when seeing the other girls screaming on their beds clearly not going to do anything about it - other than throw things to make it run towards me and our beds - and then realisng Sam was stuck in the bathroom (apparently naked standing on the toilet when she saw the legs of the F####er going under the door). So we either stayed in the rooms for ever or I had to get it out. When did i become Mum!!!! crap. My book didnt work. It missed - i know, youd think with something that big (size of my hand) id hit it - well i clearly throw like a girl or you could say, pee like a boy - i missed! nothing else to throw at it. So the girls, made me walk past it (yes spiders can jump and chase me so i was petrified) and collect the very thing I needed - the bible!!! Threw it, i missed. Bastard! but this time it decided to run at me and into my room under a blanket on the floor by sams bag. not good. so the bible was thrown repeatedly at the blanket. I grabbed the blanket and ran out side dragging it and stunned spider onto the ground. job done. my worst moment, well a bit of an exaggeration but very nearly!!!! yuk!!!!! first and last time i hope. that was horrible. Fraser island - done!!
next stop - overnight bus to Airlie Beach - the gateway to Paradise apparently. Paradise being the Whitsunday Islands. My dream, we had a sail boat organised for 2 days and 2 nights. Id never been on a sail boat. Blue Seas, blue skys, hot crew, sailing round the islands..... you can see where my heads at!!! You think - - no bastard Australian weather struck again. Cyclone. didnt pass over for 4 days. Flooding up the coast from us. We had the boat cancelled, had to find accommodation in town along with everyone else who couldnt leave the place! ended up in a cabin outside of town in the rain. no cinema, one bar opposite (well more like a betting shop with a bar) and SCRABBLE!! yay. A girl we met, Fiona, gave us her scrabble as she didnt want it. We love Fiona. I hate Sam, she still keeps winning!!! Apparently my words dont exist in the english dictionary, although we realised both of us lacked intelligence when we tried to put words down that were norfolk in spelling and so clearly wrong. Sounded right to us!!!! anyway i headed for the bar one day after a walk in the rain, found they were showing Man U v Wigan and watched Mr Emile Heskey for 90 minutes with a few beers. That put the smile back on my face. The day we were to leave was a bit better, slightly less rain and we went on a Helicopter flight over the Whitsunday islands just so we could say we had seen them. It was cool. Cant deny, i really enjoyed it.
Feeling a bit happier in that we had seen something other than rain and a scrabble board, We finally got a bus Friday, another overnighter. Overnight buses - well, they re okay. IF you dont mind not moving for 13 hours, sitting in the same position, being bashed in the back by the person behind, being bashed in the front by the person in front and watching a film thats either ODD (Golden Door - not advised) or where the driver turns the sound down so you cant hear it (Jesse James with Brad). Actually, i clearly must be chilled as it was okay. You get used to it! We arrived bruised and tired in Cairns and it was sunny. YES - please note that on 17th January 2009, the sun shone in Australia. ACtually it was shining most of the previous week elsewhere, just not where we were!
Anyway i felt much better after a day of sitting by the pool, walking round Cairns and a night at the cinema to watch Role Model (highly recommend if dry sense of humour!).
Today was possibly my best day. Dream come true - I went diving in the Great Barrier Reef. three dives, loads of fish and coral. Photos i took to follow on Facebook at some point. But, it wasnt the diving that made my day, it was in one way, but today I met Robson Green. YES! it was actually him. He is filming a fishing programme (yeah thats not soooo cool) all around the world. I had to walk past him to get to the boat and he chatted very briefly as I walked past. Then I decided i had to do it - so with camera in hand I apologised as it was obviously imposing but could i have his picture. He came over to me, gave me a kiss on each cheek (Face (: ) and a hug and said of course but wouldnt i prefer it if i were in it. Well actually no as I take hideous photos, but not to be rude i said of course. So photo of me and Robson Green. We had another chat about his work, how he was finding it and he asked my name (not number :( ) and i walked away from him. Hes so nice. So when you see a programme with Robson Green going fishing around the world, when it shows Cairns, think of me!!!!
next stop Ayers Rock. Harley Davidson awaiting me!
Sarah x

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on January 17, 2009 from Cairns, Australia
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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Byron Bay to Brisbane

Brisbane, Australia

so ive not left the gap between entries so long this time, possibly as theres not too much to say and even less to do in Brisbane!!!
Starting with Byron Bay, after 15 hour bus journey we arrived. late at night and possibly tired and not in the best state of minds to walk onto a street that resembled Norwich's prince of wales road at 2am on a Friday night!!! i felt old and sober!!! there were teens everywhere, drunk, crying, hitting each other and one boy laying on the floor with his trousers round his ankles finding it all hilarious!! trust me, any girl that saw that would find it anything but hilarious, disappointing springs to my mind!!!!
Sam and I headed for our prebooked backpackers, called Byron Bay Backpackers resort. Resort - ummmh possibly if in Ibiza San Antonia!!!! noise, drunkedness and youths everywhere - im 36 and i know it!!! we had a 6 bed dorm, we walked into a tip! it was shared with 4 guys who looked liked they had moved in, thrown everything out of their bags and just walked away. Thankfully, after a tip from my friend Al regarding an incident a friend of his had when he was in a lower bunk (top bunk occupant drunk, didnt bother going to the toilet and p"d all over him), we were left with the top bunks! after clearing their shit (not literally) off the beds, Sam hobbled onto hers (bad back!!) and i clambered onto mine and we looked at each other, both thinking, what the F....!!! it wasnt a pretty room, it was aroom that looked like the occupants would be drunk, noisy and probably snorers!!! unfortunately we were right. I was awoken to guitar playing (not good either), laughter, lights on and off and then finally snoring!!! and it wasnt me snoring!!
The next day, Sam and I agreed we should run for our over 30 lives and get a nicer place. So we did. Walking under the grey rain filled clouds, we headed to the Midreef BP lodge. We paid over the odds for a twin room, with tv and no drunks!! it was like a palace. At that point we realised, there comes a time to admit that you arent a teenager any more. With facepacks on, dvd on tv, we sat and chilled!!! heaven. We had prior to that spent several hours in the local movie theatre (they still call them that here!) and watched a gorgeous Brad Pitt in Benjamin Button. (that sounds wrong but I cant remember the whole title of the film). Good film, worth watching. however f'in expensive, cost more to go there than to Norwich cinema!!! who said Oz was cheap!! i also bought a mars bar that cost me $3, not english chocolate but at that price, I ate it all!!!
I tried to fight against my age the following day by hiring a bodyboard and heading for the waves!!! sounds good!! well having admired the surfers and the ease they made it look, i thought, why not!! It was fun, I cant deny it but I spent most of the time trying to rescue my bikini top and bottoms from the waves! once on the board I then skimmed along with the other bodyboarders all aged 14 and under!!! so what! it was good. I shall keep practicing. Just have to now wait for the water to get out of my ears!!
after another relaxing night, this time watching Casino Royale!
After another 3 hours on a bus we left the joys of Byron Bay and headed for Brisbane. Bunk Beds again!!! oh well, you get what you pay for!!! We then headed for our walking tour of Brisbane, 1 hour later, Brisbane was done!!! not much to see here. as we have another day tomorrow, not sure what we shall do. possibly head for the overpriced Steve Irwin zoo where for more money we can get our photos with the dead man himself, weird but possibly may have to be done!!!! next stop, Hervy Bay and Fraser Island.

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on January 4, 2009 from Brisbane, Australia
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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