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Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong

a travel blog by Sarah Coles

Well, i think ive said everything in my bio. Im off 27th October. I have no expectations or wishes just to see parts of the world ive never seen before and experience a whole different way of life and culture, oh yeah and get a fantastic tan!!

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South Africa- Days one and two

Cape Town, South Africa

Wow, what a city. Sam and I arrived after a five hour delay thanks to a leaking pipe and a plane swap but sadly I was still sat next to the same mental irish girl who wouldnt shut up for 11 hours, despite me sleeping!!! Sam had a similar experience but her mad lady was german and despite Sam saying she knew very very limited german, she kept talking and if not to Sam to her self. Backpackers lodge is lovely as are the people we share the dorm with. We can see table mountain from the bar here, but then probably you can see it from everywhere in Capetown. We havent been up it yet as today was too cloudy, so will go tomorrow, weather permitting. Dont worry though, weather yesterday was fantastic and the tan has started! We have done a fair bit here already, the coastline is spectacular but no whale sightings yet, just seals, which are gorgeous and yes I have hundreds of photos of them! Although most of the shots of them are diving back under the water having waved at me, done somersaults and other tricks knowing my camera isnt quick enough to catch it!!! Seen the football stadium they are building for the world cup in 2010, would love to come back for that! its a really fab city. so far no problems. one day left in Capetown then im off to St Lucia for the month to work with the community, so god help them!!!

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on October 29, 2008 from Cape Town, South Africa
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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St Lucia continued

Cape Town, South Africa

hey all thanks for your emails and comments. Finally went whale watching last sunday at 5am!! what is it with these early mornings - im not used to getting up before 8!!! and thats pushing it!!! sea was quite rough, which I loved but a couple of the other girls didnt and all they saw was the side of the boat and yes we did take pictures of them - how cruel! we saw a mum whale and baby - humpbacks, they are massive. mum kept having her tail up for 10 mins at a time as she was feeding the baby one underneath, it was amazing. we must have watched them for 3 hours or more. Hopefully off to Mozambique subject to weather, next weekend and we get to swim with dolphins in the sea there! well thats if we survive the border patrol which can be a bit dodgy apparently!
its been an odd week as the daycentre where we go to work with the kids, got knocked down. its a tin shed but its also a church and the local Pastor decided she wanted it rebuilt so we left one day with it standing, came back the next to find it gone! apparently she thought it could get rebuilt in a day - clearly she was having a hormonal moment! TIA - this is africa. well its been a bit wet so no sign of builders there yet. so we havent been to see the kids much, they dont turn up if it looks like rain as theres no cover for them. I went to the local High School to teach HIV education to 12 year olds - they look more like 18. That was interesting, really enjoyed it and after doing some home care visits where we drive into the middle of the bush/forests to give sick people medicine, food or just help, most of whom had AIDS or TB, it made me realise how important that education is. If not, the zulu race will just disappear! The kids particularly enjoyed the condom on a banana demo - wasnt me doing that one though- phew! i dont know who would have laughed more! more painting of the clinic this week - we made the walls that were white even greyer so thats good :) I also have a brick with my name on it. the brickmaking was hard work - mainly cos the sand and cement where in different parts of the field so we had to carry shovel loads around - blisters have nearly gone! its all good. had a fun night out last night watching the rugby drinking springbok shots and managed to avoid the hippos on the walk back to the house!
went to see a witchdoctor yesterday in a zulu village, she was nuts. she kept making funny noises and had previously told volunteers here that they needed to kill a chicken, eat its insides to avoid bad luck. she told another she had to drink a soft drink and eat sweets to stop her losing her husband - that one sounds a bit better to me! i was told id get married and have two children despite not liking kids much - hahaha, how funny. she also said I was in good health as I sat there wheezing and coughing!!! shes good!
off to Cape Vidal up the coast this afternoon and hopefully able to put the bikini on for the first time. game drive this week too!! yay!
next instalment next week. x

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on November 16, 2008 from Cape Town, South Africa
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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STill in St Lucia but the sun is shining today after much much rain!!

Cape Town, South Africa

im still here and still surviving!! We've all been a bit grumpy the last few days as it just hasnt stopped raining and thats not fun. especially when we are doing gardening outside and covered in mud although im sure that day was the cleanest ive been for a while :)
The whole house went including the staff who are zulu went to the local zulu night at the cultural village in Khula where we work each day. it was so funny and amazing. we dressed up and had zulu beer, which was well free and alcoholic so no complaints here!! the dancing was funny - we all did some and i think everyone was amazed with my leg kicking - it was high and i didnt knock myself out but my jeans were about to fall down - what a lovely thought - not!!!
the zulu dancers were "fit" in all ways. i have some pics and still waiting to get them loaded up. sorry for the delay with the pics
We had a game drive for us project workers Tuesday afternoon too which was fantastic. there are no lions at the area we went to but there are leopards, we didnt see any. but the funniest thing we did see was a wart hog running really fast alongside the truck, and the next thing we knew it got its tusks stuck in the ground and flipped over, when it got up it looked embarrassed and trotted off in the other direction with all the grass and earth still stuck to its tusks. definitely a highlight. then the rains came down and we drove home in the back of the truck all huddled together really wet and cold! cant think why my cold hasnt shifted!!
Today at the daycare centre the kids were a handful. I had no translator in my class this morning for an hour or so so I was on my own! im rapidly going off the sound of my own voice, they just did what they want, caused chaos, and i sat being climbed over by the rest of the kids. i have no authority with them at all!! I was trying to teach about healthy eating and as we were going through good food and bad food, one of the children we call her the special child as she is a bit, just ate ashoe she found on the floor then found a crayon and started eating that, then she started on the earthy sand!! i mean, what am i to do!!!
anyway thats it for today, lesson planning for next week is by the pool today YAY!!!

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on November 20, 2008 from Cape Town, South Africa
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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Mozambique and my last week at Project St Lucia

Durban, South Africa

I have had the most amazing 9 days. last weekend myself and three friends from St lucia decided to go to Mozambique for the weekend - just because we could!! how fab is that. we were driven there by a surfer dude Peter, who arranged a turtle conservation tour on the Saturday evening - which i will come back to in a minute - two dolphin conservation tours on the Sunday which were unbelieveably amazing and the opportunity to watch England get absolutely slaughtered by the South Africans at rugby on the TV in the beach bar surrounded by 20 or so South AFricans!!!!! Mozambique and Pont du Oure was 3 hours from St Lucia - so about as long as it takes to get out of NOrfolk on a Saturday! the beach was superb with a really good surf although we decided we would just watch the surfers from our sunbathing position rather than join them and potentially die in the current! having been working hard in St Lucia, painting, building bricks, digging, and teaching all week, this was a real holiday! Katy was adamant we would watch the rugby and decided to declare her support for England very loudly despite severe looks and shouts of abuse from the SA's there! Thought it was going to get ugly at one point but we managed to give as good as we got abuse wise and that soon shut them up (some werent that bright!). We then ran after the final whistle with a reminder from me that its not really a proper game anyway and wait until 2010 when we shall show them what sport really is!!! The turtle tour was amazing, we were walking along the beach in the dark for several hours looking for loggerhead turtles coming ashore to lay eggs. they only do this for10-17 days of the year and they hate being disturbed before they lay the eggs, so we were creeping around. we then came across Joyce (we named her), i was too busy talking and nearly tripped over all 1metre square of her but thankfully didnt! , we waited patiently for over an hour whilst she made her way up to the top of the beach away from the sea to lay eggs, then saw her digg a massive hole and lay over 80 eggs. it was awesome. Although we had nearly all fallen asleep by then waiting, as we'd been up since 4.30am and that was off the back of going to bed after a bit of a party night at 2am! We also had to tag her as its part of the monitoring they are doing to try and save the species that are being poached for their shells! that was a struggle, she was strong and large but finally tagged and named Joyce. We got back to the beach hut at about 1 only to be awoken by crabs trying to get in to the hut, lizards running around and other things that I just didnt want to think about. we were up for 5.30am for the first dolphin boat trip. we had to identify their fins and help with the monitoring. it was fantastic. and yes i cried. i love dolphins. we saw loads including a baby dolphin learning to swim - quite literally! then we saw one just dive out of the water 3 or 4 metres high and back in! wow! i cried again! im such a girl! there was a hope we could swim with them but they werent in the mood due to the baby and I think they were feeding too so it wasnt good. We went back out at 9am and mum introduced us to the baby dolphin! but when the baby got to close to the boat mum gave her a massive whack! i could watch them for hours. they didnt seem to what us to swim with them so we moved on and then had a swim , but the dolphins - 10-15 i suppose, joined us within minutes! the water vis wasnt great 2-3m so was a bit nerve wracking wondering what the fin was coming towards you, but so awesome, they were monitoring us we think!!! within half a metre from me, swimming around and underneath us! what a feeling, absolutely the best thing ever! i obviously cried! to stop our cries of "ahhhh!" we returned to the beach for an afternoon of hectic sunbathing! quite exhausting!
Then back to work - it is quite literally hard work. ive missed a few lunches to get to the internet in town - as just no time otherwise. sadly the lack of lunches hasnt made any difference to weight as Katrina's evening cooking is superb - damn that good cooking! I carried on painting in the afternoons this week, we managed to totally paint the info building in Khula whihc was massive only to be told afterwards it wasnt that building, but heck it looks good! did the right building the day after! Dr Sarah was back for Wednesdays clinic with more blood pressure taking including her own which wasnt good! ah the stress of travelling! then finally Friday was probably the most memorable day ive ever had. only 46 children turned up to the daycare in the morning, so rather than dull teaching, we piled them into the truck and combi and headed to the estuary to see the hippos and crocs and then to the beach for a morning of getting absolutely soaked in teh sea! they live 6 or so miles away from the beach and estuary but most had never been! i have never seen or heard them soooooooo excited! they couldnt stop chattering and laughing! definitely the best moment ever! im so sad to have left today although pleased to now be with Sam in Durban, but i would have loved to have stayed. Andrew who runs the project wanted me to stay on to help work for a few more weeks as he was a few employees short due to ilness etc, but i just didnt have the time with the other project starting the 7th December and I still wanted to see more of SA. im going to go back sometime though. It was such a fantastic privilege to work with those children, the people of Khula and hopefully make a small difference to some of their lives! the people I was with on the project were just the best. its too hard to describe, but I would highly highly recommend it. Trying to work out if I can return in 2010 about June or July when the world cups on!!!!
So now off down the GArden Route to see some more of SA, including the Shark Diving!!! i shall keep you all posted. cant believe its been 5 weeks since I left!x

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on November 29, 2008 from Durban, South Africa
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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Durban to Hermanus - the longest journeys ever!

Durban, South Africa

Well firstly what I forgot to say in my last blog about ST Lucia was that I got bitten by a spider!! I have been totally freaked out for the past week. I went to deliver a school uniform to one of the children, Sfundo on the monday and sat on the grass outside his hut taking pictures etc when I felt a bite - didnt think anything of it - next day it was a bit of a mess so just thought id been scratching it during the night! put a plaster on it with cream end of my worries! oh no, thanks to the generosity of Andrew and others at the house, they decided to tell me as a wind up that it looked like it could have eggs in it!! then they said it looked like a spider bite with eggs in it!! AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH! barely slept that night with thoughts of these hideous things running out of my leg!!! anyway it seemed to get a bit better and then went to see someone (actually it was to have a pedicure so i could have pretty feet for just a few days - im shallow i know!) and she said what happened as it looked like a spider bite! OMG! completely freaked out. it is healing thankfully, no eggs or hatched spiders thankfully but yuuuuuk!!! i hate spiders more than anything. not good.
anyway enough about my phobias which also include ghekkos and chameleons - not good with the scurrying stuff! im now back with Sam - ahh bless I hear you all cry! we met up in Durban with me having had a bit of a fright at the airport. A lady asked how I was getting to my hostel, so I said probably taxi - Apparently no - i couldnt posssibly go in a taxi alone it wasnt safe - she said I should use the bus but as I didnt know where the bus went or how to get to the hostel then that wasnt safe either!! well what the F am I going to do! i took a risk, jumped in a cab and thought do i hide on the back seat or just be brave. I was brave and got to the hostel, wasnt mugged or shot - pheweee!
Sams good and thankfully not as tanned as me which was my main concern, obviuosly her welfare and safety whilst overlanding was too but hey! we had a curry in the evening as thats the thing to do in Durban, shed been shopping! im trying to restrain her but its to no avail! next morning we got the BAz Bus (mini bus)at 6.45am to Port Elizabeth - just a 13 hour drive so thats not too bad!!! luckily there were only a handful of us in the bus so we had some space to move. but I think if we had hired a car and driven it would have taken us half the time - it took the driver 2 hours to get out of Durban as he seemed to be running family errands!! Not as bad as the journey from PE to Hermanus which whilst only 10 hours or so, the driver put on a DVD called Eight below, all about a team of huskeys that had to survive a winter alone in the antartic, with them dying and being attacked, not my kind of film, i put my MP3 on but could still hear them howling - i cried! hate films about animals getting hurt! not a good choice, then he put on 40year old virgin which was hysterical but we had to get off for our drop off before the end - typical!
anyway back to PE, nice place, weird hostel we stayed in!! the lady had just taken it over and it was in a dodgy drug area bit like thetford really! We had dorms to ourselves and then we realised, well i realised - im 36 years old and sleeping in bunk beds!! ive regressed! anyway we had a mooch about, got one of the crazy taxi buses just outside the Norwich fabric shop! we went shopping for a bit in the black only area -or so it seems but we kept saying hello to everyone because we didnt want them to tthink we were the stupid white south africans! who really are vvvv stupid and incredibly ugly alot of them!! clearly you shouldnt be white and live out in the sun of Africa for a few hundred years - it doesnt do the skin anygood!
In the evening we thought we would head towards this AFrican bar that was on the map, the lady (by now we had worked out was a hick, with hicksville friends who sat about drinking castle lager all day) said no, it wasnt safe! but that we should go to the Stage Door pub just up the road so long as we were back before dark because it was such a dodgy area! with this in mind we legged it to the pub, or as the lonely planet describes it a rough and seedy place! they sell rooms by the hour and this is noted on their menu which also whilst only having 4 food dishes on it, says that if you want good food dont eat there, if you want good service go somewhere else! there was sawdust on the floor but there was championship league football on so....! we had omelette although we wondered whethe they may have drugged it and then we may be sold as women for their hourly rooms but thankfully, it wasnt! then we realised it was nearly dark - this felt like the moment out of I am Legend film, our watches beeped and we had to get back in time before god knows what happened!! we did actually freak ourselves out a bit by this thought, well mainly i did! anyway we managed to get in the door just as the sun set! no from Dusk til Dawn moments! phew.
we then left the next day with the intention of staying in Plettenburg Bay, but then when trying to arrange our baz bus from PB to Hermanus for 3rd ready for Death with great whites on 4th, we were told there was only space for 1. rethinking and alot of money wasted on the mobile and we decided to skip PB and head straight for Hermanus, which was a blessing despite the long journey and sad movie!!PB had a teen end of term rave on so maybe not quite our thing!!
Hermanus is fab. had a few beers in the bar of the hostel with some guys and then listened to some guy snore through the night in our mixed dorm - and for those wondering yes we were in bunks again!! i get the lower bunk, think Sam thinks it safer for me so i dont have so far to fall out!! anyway today was amazing, Hermanus is the place to watch whales from the coast, so we did, we went for a 5 hour coastal walk (yes with some sunblock although one foot is defintely darker than the other and sams backs a bit patchy but we have time to fix all this) and we saw several Southern Right Whales including mums and calfs, within 100m from the beach. fantastic. pictures are crap as its too hard to capture just what we saw. I kept high fiving myself much to sams annoyance i think - but OMG how lucky are we!!! This is definitely the life. It may be the end of my life by tomorrow as we go Great White Cage Diving at 7am, Sams now joining in the fun or not so much fun as horror tomorrow. Her main fear is getting in the wet suit which if thats all she is worried about, im sure she will be fine. Im slightly more concerned about getting bitten in half by the GW but well, what a way to go!! so fingers crossed and will let you know how it goes. SOrry but this is so definitely the best decision ive ever ever made!!! x

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on December 3, 2008 from Durban, South Africa
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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Capetown to Johannesburg

Johannesburg, South Africa

Having survived the great white Shark diving, Sam and I headed back to Capetown for two reasons, a trip to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held a prisoner for many years and to see Quantum of Solace at the cinema! Both were superb. The stories by the former prisoners who show you around the prison were moving as was the destruction of the Aston Martin in the film!
After two sleepless nights in a dorm due to snoring man, i went up to Johannesburg to do my second project on the lanseria lion park leaving Sam to shop and sunbathe (dont worry i put factor 100 in her factor 30 bottle, she will never know:) ). I had my doubts initially because I had been told I was the only volunteer and being in a campsite on my own overnight was a bit of a concern, but I thought I would see how I got on. I expected the experience of working with the game park animals, including lions, leopards and cheetahs to outweigh the loneliness in the evenings. Sadly, it didnt! I arrived and was dropped off at a Zoo, not a park! i met the two volunteers who were going to be leaving on the Tuesday and with whom I would be doing a game drive in Pilanesburg national park on that Tuesday so i wasnt alone on that and being a saddo and talking to myself about the animals I had seen! The first day, i sat around eating an icecream, chatting to the AFrikaans who worked there (aged between 13 and 30) and I had a drive around the enclosures. All the lions and big cats are either ex circus or used in commercials or hand reared. The enclosures were small and not sufficient, in my mind for the sizes of them. I hadnt expected this. They sold the project on its conservation aspect and working possibly with lion cubs who may be handreared if mum isnt coping. Actually they take all the cubs away from the mums and hand rear them with no intention of reintroducing them into the wild and everyone who goes to teh Zoo can play with the cubs at Cubworld!! i admit it was amazing to cuddle a baby lion and I had my hand stroked by a leopard but i had serious doubts I could survive this for 2 weeks. The next day I sat for 2 hours collecting tickets and that was my days work! that was it. they said there was nothing mroe to do. having been working 8 hours a day at the community project and feeling shattered but very happy with what I was doing this was mind numbing! I decided to leave. there was no point in my mind wasting time somewhere knowing I wouldnt enjoy it. i did the game drive the next day and left the Wednesday. I have no regrets. I want to leave South Africa feeling proud of what ive done and feeling as though I have actually given something to the people here. i thought about doing some touring but decided to go back to the Community Project in St Lucia and thats where I am now until 19th. Andrew who runs the project met me from the airport and hadnt told anyone else I was coming back. Several of the volunteers i was with were still there and of course the guys I worked with. We walked in and they, expecting a new volunteer called Helen, saw me! ive never heard so much screaming and laughing. that felt good. i was actually missed!
The school term here has ended for summer holidays now, so we do holiday club with 4-12 year olds in the morning and then adult HIV education and building in the afternoon. This is more like it! Im off to the beach tomorrow for tanning and then working hard all week unti friday when I fly back to meet Sam in JOhannesburg when we will do the Soweto tour.
Its strange, this place now feels like home. the guys were like - you are home! its not but it is for a short while and I have no doubt I shall return here again sometime in the future.
and to make my week even better, We beat the scum 2-0 so happy dayz.
signed a very happy Sarah. x

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on December 13, 2008 from Johannesburg, South Africa
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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the end of my time in South Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa

well its happened, we leave today! NO!!!!!!!! i am sad. I have fallen in love with AFrica. i have had the most amazing time here.
I realise from a brief review of my sintaliting stories of SA, that I forgot to mention the great white shark diving experience, well i suppose the pictures on facebook probably show it all!! it was awesome. Sam and I were actually rather calm on the boat ride to death, probably because we were laughing at guys who were a bit more nervous and throwing up over the side of the boat!!! we are all heart! having fitted into the wet suits which actually pulled all my bits of wobble in the right places, so may have to buy one, we waited whilst they put the cage in the water. as I still have a cold, I couldnt actually smell the dead bloody fish that I stood right next too, again unlike others who kept retching and throwing up! I had two trips into the cage - both lasted about 20mins each I suppose. THe first time, as visibility was poor I just saw this dark shadow (about 4m) pass by, but the pics from on the boat show alot more, also had a lovey dovey couple next to me in the cage who kept holding hands and at one point he tried to hold my hand accidentally - how sweet (I almost classed that as a date!), then they nearly drowned me as we went under the water to see the shark go past and they had their hands over my head holding the bars so I couldnt get up! Sam went in the water and hadnt realised again because of the vis, how big and close the shark was to the cage, probably a relief, they were big! the second time I got in, I had the best encounter I could imagine. We'd seen 3 or 4 sharks by then, and one just eyeballed us right by the cage within centimetres and showed its teeth - i have to admit when it came round again straight to the cage a few of us did just lean back into the back of the cage a bit more. not sure why, as the back of the cage was just bars too!!! i got the DVD so will be boring you all with that upon my return.
Well back to my last 10 days in SA. I went back to St lucia and rejoined the community project in Khula. I was working with different children in the morning as it was summer hols, but this was fun and included alot of hula hooping and mucking about which I can do! afternoons varied to gardening and adult HIV education, which really got me. It was hard to do, trying to make it fun to learn but on such a serious subject. Especially when you dont know these peoples stories but guess from questions they ask and their distraught faces when we answer those questions, it cant be good. i wish I could have done more. However the jokes i made about condoms (as yes I had to do another condom demo), made them laugh, including the different sizes (white sizes and black sizes!!!)
I managed to dance at a local community meeting, in front of everyone which then appeared to turn into a dance off with some of the local women, it was quite surreal and I have no doubt I lost! it was well appreciated though with lots of clapping and laughing!!!
I also had a bit of a drunken night on Amarula, losing badly at ibble dibble but being very supportive of my friend Katy's lyrical genius and guitar playing at 4am - I have video of that too!!! oh dear, it may haunt me!! unfortunately the saturday was wasted, we all sat staring at the tv (thankfully with footie on after some cricket) all just groaning very badly and regretting drinking so much. Obviuosly I shall never drink again.
I am now back with Sam in JO'burg and we went to Soweto yesterday. Astounding place. So much bigger than I thought, over 3m people and some really nice areas. eveyrone seemed friendly, no one tried to shoot us and I just kept waving merrily at them all like some nutter! (must remember to stop that now). the museum for apartheid was moving and it was hard not to just sit and cry.
t was an amazing way to end the day though and my time in SA.
I will miss the place and people alot. Lets hope Oz is as good.
speak soon X

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on December 21, 2008 from Johannesburg, South Africa
from the travel blog: Sarah's Voyage from South Africa to Hong Kong
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Australia, Part 1

Sydney, Australia

Happy New Year my beloved blog readers!!! Hope you are all well (I say all, theres probably just my dad still reading by now, and thats if im lucky!)
After a slightly disturbing delay with the flight from joburg to Sydney (massive thunder storms, then technical problem, then more storms!), we finally landed in sunny Sydney - well, I say sunny, apparently the drought that the aussies are constantly harping on about, is in their heads!!! I've taken many many pictures but only on the sunny days, its to fool you all into thinking bathe in sunshine everyday- the fact of it is we arent! It was quite cold - 20 something!! how rude! i didnt leave the UK to be in cold temperatures!!! anyway, my beloved friend Penny with her mum Jan picked us up from the airport and you would never have known we were tourists, carrying the welcome to OZ balloons she had bought us! Jan then kindly took us on a walk round Sydney the following day, although due to the pace ive been walking at in SA, it felt more like a power walk but I was grateful nonetheless, we saw the opera house, well that was it really - i mean what else is there to see in Sydney! then we headed back through the last minute xmas shoppers, remembering what fun it is to be in a city at christmas. Both sam and I were upset that we had no xmas shopping to do as we wanted to join the throngs of stressed customers! oh well never mind. The following day was again, cloudy! it even rained, again! so we didnt venture too far and spent a very productive day sorting out our trip up the east coast, well mainly sorting out what yacht we wanted to go on round the Whitsunday islands. Whilst the 23 person party boat sounded tempting, having discussed the pros and cons and considering our ages now, we opted for a 15 person sail yacht which seemed far more refined! I like refined, this may surprise some!
Christmas eve was a laugh. we thought it would be chaos in the local balmoral bar, as it is in norwich - no! we were joined initially by Major Mark, a well past 50 year old Australian who seemed to think he had a chance with penny - hardly, maybe her Mum - just! he then invited us to an area of the bar with other Pommies! they had brought there own stereo to play the latest in music - ummh Eurythmics, Duran Duran, you name it they had it!!! Jan and a very tall drunk man got into a dance off. It was funny, just didnt feel like christmas though. Dont get me wrong, based on previous christmas for me recently, that wasnt a bad thing, but it seemed strange having christmas decorations etc when it was hot!
Christmas Day was fun. We were invited over one of Pennys friends, Jill, so long as we took with us all the turkey, ham, plates, cutlery, dessert and alcohol. She would provide the vegtables and table. Fair deal, we thought. So bless Pennys mum, she stuffed the turkey that barely fitted in in the cooker, she got up early and cooked the ham. We took everything but the kitchen sink (we had to take a hoover over too!!! dont ask!) and were kindly offered one of our drinks! It was in all fairness despite the sarcasm, a really lovely meal and day. I mean, roast potatoes makes every day good! and the sun came out!!
Boxing day was rather more to my liking from a weather perspective, it was hot and sunny! we headed to Balmoral beach with picnic and pennys friends to watch the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. It was fantastic. Well actually we saw the yachts go in the distance, so i cant say it was fantastic really, but the sights on the beach were awesome. Very Very nice! you may have seen some of sams pictures on facebook!!! I have to admit we were all (including Pennys Mum) quite simply, perverts! but so what.........
we then headed to Paddington for a few more drinks in a bar, but so far we had yet to meet any real Australians, who it seems are few and far between in Sydney. I think London is Sydney and Sydney is London!!
Manly beach and a visit to the Quarantine Station for ghostly sightings were next on the list. I then met a couple I met travelling, Holly and Adrian who live in Manly. It was fantastic to see them despite the weather being cloudy yet again - i mean seriously!!!! Manly was okay, it had a shopping precinct similar to Lowestofts, I may be harsh but I dont think so! The following day we did the required visit to Bondi Beach. Nice weather so no complaints there! Bondi was packed. There was this patch in the middle of the beach were it seems everyone had to sit! I dont understand it myself but may have something to do with sharks, surfers, or current, anyway, we opted for the Bondi to Bronte Bay walk which was lovely. Sam and Penny did the civilised scenery walk, Jan and I seemed to do another power walk. I opted for the wrong one clearly! lovely scenery, and I do mean coastline this time (well both actually!). THe day was then rather nicely rounded off by a few drinks with a fellow Norwich man, Fos and his better half Sam at the Opera Bar by the Opera House. gorgeous evening and a really nice time.
The following day, we did the blue mountain tour. Our luck with tour drivers continued, three near crashes, one lost phone, several hours of delays but it was good. We stopped at a zoo and stroked a koala. it was a rehabilitation place so I felt better about that! we also did another cable car ride much to Sams horror but the views were amazing. We ran out of time for a tour of the olympic stadium due to the near crashes, etc but it looked nice from the outside as we drove past! The weather changed again though and by the time of our ferry ride back to the centre of Sydney, we were cold, wet and a bit miserable. I was also late for a date I had at the Opera House (ten minute turnaround to get ready, now that was impressive) to see australian comedians, who despite my inability to understand half of what they said, were in all quite funny. I made a bit of an error at one point - laughing at something that wasnt actually meant to be funny but I shall have to explain that anotehr time and not in public!
Sadly, Sam did her back in - totally unrelated to any misbehaviour that im aware of - and was completely bent over double in agony all the following day. I was totally sympathetic and having asked if there was anything she required did what any good friend would do - I headed for the beach! i felt it only right, i mean, Icould get pictures and show her how nice it was outside!!! thankfully she had spent her day rather more productively and despite the pain and agony had organised some more bits of our trip! i showed her a picture of a cute man. So we were all square!
That evening, Sam still incapacitated missed out on a night at the Oaks Pub in Military Road and my meeting with an old school friend Al Page. He hasnt changed at all except he is now 18 years old than the last time I saw him!! it was fun.
The next day Sam was still bent over double so headed for an osteopath to make sure she was okay for the rest of the day, being New Years Eve. It obviously helped and she was damned she would miss the fireworks! So by midday we headed to Mrs Macquaries Chair - a park by the botanical gardens, and joined a queue of 20,000 to get in for the best view of the fireworks - sorry, the best free view of the fireworks. With picnic in hand, we nearly fell over in disbelief at the queue, we couldnt find the end. We have photos to show! Having waited for five hours, we got in, then found a spot big enough for our two tiny bums and sat and waited with a clear view of the opera house and bridge until middnight. It was good. No actually it was amazing. I havent seen fireworks like it. I know i was in Norwich for the millenium and obviously that was fantastic (no it wasnt, im being sarcastic again!) but Sydney was stunning. I filmed it and fingers crossed it worked.
Last day in Sydney, day at the beach with Al and his children. Despite makign one cry, I think it went well. They seemed entertained by burying my feet, and playing with rocks so it was all good. Then Penny, Jan , sam and I rounded off the 10 days with a meal at Ripples in Milsons Point right under the Bridge. It was fantastic. it showed me what a fab city Sydney is but despite my fab time there , its not for me. Penny threatened to lock us in a cupboard but didnt. Phew!
We are now in Byron Bay and I shall tell you all about that another time. Ive bored myself so god knows how whoever is reading this feels!!!!
so thats all for now.
PS its cloudy and looking like rain, drought, yeah right!!!

permalink written by  Sarah Coles on January 2, 2009 from Sydney, 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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Cairns, Australia

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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Sarah Coles Sarah Coles
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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...

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