A Travellerspoint blog

Australia :) And a bloody bad headache!

Sydney- Spot X - Byron Bay - Brisbane - Noosa and Rainbow Beach :)

sunny 33 °C

Hello.
Well it is fair to say that I LOVE australia. We touched down in Sydney about 2 weeks ago and went to the 'Funkhouse' hostel which was okay but you dont really see where your money goes especially when you get 3 cockroaches in your room... We did loads though, got up early everymorning and stayed out all day just sight seeing. We went to Taronga Zoo, The Aquarium and Wildlife world (partly because we had money off vouchers to hug a Koala there) but all the same they were all really fun. The best day was the second day we were there and we went to Bondi Beach for the day. Im not exaggerating when I say we were in the water ALL DAY, the water is so cool and there was a heat wave so the air was around 42 degrees. We came out looking ridiculous. I had a face that was much redder than a tomato and in the days following neither of us could lie on our backs to sleep and my face blistered making me look like i had some rare skin disease. On that night we headed to Sydney Opera house and we managed to get Student Rush tickets which meant watching a show with any of the seats left for 50 dollars. We watched the opera Madame Butterfly from the front row of the upper circle, next to people who paid 359dollars :) It was excellent.
We started our bus pass and headed on the Oz Experience Bus down to Spot X- mojosurf camp. We were all in tincan-esque dormatories but with 50 dollars had 3 meals and a bed for the night. The first thing we did was all run into the sea, the whole group of us. The sun was shining even at 7pm when we got there. A girl I met, Lucy, and I stayed on the edge of the water not wanting to get too wet and we were immediatly approached by 4 huge jellyfish. We were out pretty quickly to say the least. We went night kyaking in the evening which was pretty impressive. Every time the ore touched the water in the river the plankton light up and so the water sparkles even in the dark. We were all a bit weary of crocodiles though, the instructor said their werent any but every now and then something huge would swim past us. There was a rope swing at the end and the boys all hurt themselves jumping off it. We all made a fire on the beach and a lad brought his guitar down and played next to it. The Australians all drink ''Goon''- cheap wine in a box so we did too, its horrible though; on the packaging it says 'This product contains fish eggs...' so that put me off for a start. The next day we had our surf lesson. The guy who took it was hilarious, how you imagine an australian surfer to be. They were brilliant teachers too. I managed to stay on for ages at one point. James was pretty good too :)
We headed onto Byron Bay which was excellent. It was so chilled out, its full of hippies and home to Australias marujuana capital 'Nimbin' so everyone there is falling over. We happened to see a guy riding a bike who rode straight into a wall, when we asked him if he was okay he just smiled... We went to the beach on one day and there were a couple sitting next to a tree made up of loads of intertwining branches. The girl screamed as a rat jumped out onto her shoulder but they were too drunk to move so a few minutes later when a huge Brown Snake (the horrible poisonous ones) stuck its head inbetween her and her partner it was vwery funny to watch them try and run up the path in a straight line away from it.
Brisbane was good too except it rained the whole time we were there. I haven't mentioned how expensive Australia is. Ive spent more than i spent in Ghana and Cambodia (three months) put together than i have in two weeks here. And I havent bought anything good either, just food which we have to cook because we cant afford to eat out. We didnt stay very long in Brisbane though and went on to Noosa.
We had another Surf Lesson in Noosa but with 'Ride a Wave' and it wasnt really that good. The woman ignored us and just taught the boy who had never done it before so we might as well have hired out surf boards and practised on our own instead. We did have a whole house to ourselves though, it meant to be shared between two couples but we were the only ones there and for 37 dollars each a night we werent complaining.
The day before yesterday we reached Rainbow Beach. Its such a small town but off its coast is Frazer Island. Originally we werent meant to be going to Frazer Island because we have booked to do a 4 day scuba-diving course on the Great Barrier Reef which has cost a fortune. But the bus driver on the oz experience suggested we go for a day trip because its something you cant miss so we found the cheapest one and booked it. Frazer Island is the largest sandisland in the world and we went there today and its lovely. Theres supposed to be loads of Dingos and Funnelweb Spiders (the deadly huge ones) but we didnt see either. You cant swim off the coast because there are too many sharks but we got to swim in lake Mckenzie and Eli Creek which are two fresh water lakes and are gorgeous. However in all the photos i look terrible because yesterday I got into a fight... with a ceiling fan. 'Frazers' hostel is okay except in our room the fan is only about half a metre away from the top bunk and you have to be so careful when you go up not to get your head cut off. I however was not carefull and was hit 7 times by it on full power. It nearly knocked me out and I have 7 lumps, cuts and buises on my forehead to prove it....
Tomorrow were off to Agnes Water.
Ill try and write soon but i diont have any time (and the internet is 5dollars an hour!!!)
Love Aliss xox

Posted by AMellar 23:20 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney beach rainbow bay brisbane noosa x byron spot Comments (0)

A very long week in hanoi...

cold, tired and looking forward to Australia.

overcast 7 °C

Hello.
On Thursday last week James and I finished our tour of Vietnam and had an independant week in Hanoi (North Vietnam.) The end of the tour was a releif in a way because we were so tired after too many nights on overnight trains and a trip to Sapa (on the chinese border) where it was 1 degree and so cold! We stayed with a host family who were part of the K'Mong hill tribe and they gave us a lovely meal in there fire-heated kitchen (the only heated room and room with electricity) before going to bed immediatly. Sian, James and I stayed in the attic which had 3 matresses and lots of quilts to keep us warm, however there were holes everywhere in the woodwork in the house which we spent a great deal of time covering up with cellotape so we wouldnt have any eight-legged intruders in the pitch black of the night, I was however greeted with a huge dead moth underneath my pillow. It was alittle too misty in Sapa to see its famous hills but seeing the hill tribes in their traditional clothing was worth it, we were followed about all day by a group of them welcolming us to their town. They have huge wicker baskets on their back to keep their accesories that they try to sell to tourists (Ill try and put a photo up) and where big bright bandanas on their heads. Some of them have tiny babies on their backs in the baskets wrapped up in huge blankets. The family we stayed with was a mother and her 2 older daughters with their husbands and 2 grandchildren. The 2 babies were gorgeous and th older one kept coming over to be tickled before running away and hiding. They had a lovely dog too, which we were a little concerned about, we'd seen a dog head and dog meat in the market that day so when the dog went missing through dinner the chicken didnt look so appetising. Luckily he wondered in just before we went to bed. P1080309.jpg
We were sat with the strangest person on the train back to Hanoi. A girl about my age came in to the cabin in tight jeans, big high heel boots, fake D&G coat and 2 huge bags which took up the whole cabin. She sat on Sians bed shouting down the phone (on speakerphone) in Vietnamese. We tried hinting we wanted to go to sleep by all lying down but she refused to go up to her bunk untill Sian actually asked her. She didnt realise there was a step up so she tried to haul herself up the meter and a half gap, bag and all. After failing miserably we mimed how to get up and eventually she got there. She couldnt work out how to turn her light off either so covered it with her coat. In the middle of the night we were woken by her opening one of her bags, she got out a horrific china doll and a speaking childrens toy which she kept pressing over an over again. Needless to say I didnt sleep at all that night!
Back in Hanoi James and Sian and I headed to the 'Traditional Water-puppet theatre' for a night. When I got in I thought we were going to be bored out of our minds but it was actually very good. The puppeters have to go through 3 years of training before they can appear on stage. It originated when farmers working in the rice paddys tried to occupy their children whilst working.

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Over the last week James and I have got very fed up with Hanoi. Considering how much we like Saigon and the people we found most of the people in Hanoi rude and ready to take advantage of us at every point possible. We got a taxi to the Arts Gallery (which was interesting...) and it cost 50000 dong (2 and a half dollars) on the way back the mans meter wasnt working and so he agreed to take us back for the same price untill we reached our destination where he doubled in and made us pay 5$ or he said he would call the police. Taking full advantage of us because he knows we are tourists. Weve also both been ran over by idiots on motobikes. Its also very cold here. Needless to say Australia is looking brighter every minute.
Facebook worked for a day here too which cheered me up, but then the next time i went on it refused to work.
We found a rat in our hotel too, its huge tail sticking our of a hole, when james poked it with his foot it went mad, sqeaking and trying to move about, so we have decided not to eat in our hotel (the Bamboo hotel) again. Some russian couple had an argument last night too (at 2am) and there was so much banging and screaming we nearly got up to check if the girl was still alive! Nothing was said this morning though, so if anything did happen, it was cleared up Vietnamese Style- (at 5 in the morning.) For some reason a man with a speakerphone thinks its funny to parade around the streets everymorning at hlf past five. He speaks for about half an hour then runs off to annoy some other street of people, ive no idea why but no one else questions it so we dont either.
Tomorrow we are going to Sydney Australia via Bankok and I cant wait! Warm Weather! Western People who speak english!
:):)
Aliss xoxox

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Posted by AMellar 21:09 Archived in Vietnam Tagged water one pagoda sapa hanoi cold pillar facebook puppetry Comments (0)

A couple of Photos from Vietnam

:)

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Posted by AMellar 04:59 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

The Vietnam Tour (from hot to cold!)

The Real Gap Vietnam Tour days 1 to 10 :)

semi-overcast 10 °C

Hello.
Its been a while since my last blog because internet is vietnam is pretty damn awful! Facebook has been blocked by the government so theres no way to get onto that untill we get to Australia... 2 weeks so sorry to everyone who thinks ive been ignoring them.
At the moment I am in Freezing hanoi at the 'King Ly Hotel' None of the hotels here have central heating so weve all been sleeping in all the clothes we can find.
On the first day of the trip we met up in Saigon with Sian and Brit, the two other people on our tour with us and Thao (our tour guide.) We had dinner at 'The Cantina Restaurant' on Pham Ngu Lau and prepared for an early start the next day. James hadnt been well since we got back from Phu Quoc and just seemed to be getting worse so he decided to stay in the hotel and try and sleep on the first day of tour. The rest of us had a long journey down to the Mekong Delta where we went over the delta on a little boat and tried some local cuisine on a few of the island. There was honey tea and peanuts (basically snickers) which was gorgeous! I got to hold a beehive too :) we then had a ''canal ride'' which isnt anything like a canal ride at home, instead we were driven along in a little boat by two women, one at the back and one at the front with ores along a little river which was surrounded by tall palm trees and andmade bridges. The trip took us all the way over to the other island where we saw the locals make coconut candy. After we went to the Ben Luc Temple which is for the Cai Dai religion and is a huge brightly coloured temple with 7 stories, the top being heaven. And then onto a snake farm which wasnt brilliant. In the evening James still wasnt well and didnt feel like eating either so Sian Brit and I went to all the souveinir shops along the backpacker street and we all bought a pair of silk Aladin trousers :) The following day we all went to Cu Chi tunnels for the morning. Our guide isnt very responsive and the guide book told us a lot more about the tunnels than he did. Its like that with most things, he tells us that the trip is crap and then says we shouldnt bother and talks on his phone, were still doing everything though, we dont care what he says weve already paid for it.
We were meant to have a city tour but on the way back james was ill again so i insisted that the both of us went to the hospital and James agreed. We had to pay a bomb to see a doctor, just for a consultation and followed by the treatment it was sooooo expensive! He was told he had Gastroenteritis or something like that but he had to go on a drip for 5 hours meaning we missed our train to Hoi An with the rest of the group the next day. Thao booked us flights for the following evening so we would rejoin the tour. I thought it would be a good idea to check into a hotel before James got out of hospital so we could just go straight in and not have to worry about the bags. This was a bad idea, I carried both rucksacks (each 25kg) and my handbag. The hotel we were booked into didnt actually have a room and as i was leaving there to find a new place I was ran over by an idiot motorcyclist and sprained my wrist and bruised my knee. I was in tears (partly through embarrasment!) when two men came out of a nearby hotel and helped me up, (the motorist had driven off!) and said they had a room for the night. James was much better when he got back and we staying in Saigon a final night before moving on.
We arrived in Hoi An the next day. Hoi An is famous for its taylors and as the weather is getting colder and colder the further north we are getting I decided on a coat to be taylored for me. I went to a place called 'Yaly' which Thao recommeneded and chose a coat design and pattern which i liked. They made me it in 12 hours and I love it! It wasnt expensive either. After we went to Marble Mountain and climbed right to the top where there was a huge chinese style pagoda.
The next day we went up to Hue on the overnight train. Hue was freezing! And i didnt like it much either, it was quite dirty in the modern parts. The forbidden city is very impressive though and we had a tour the next day which was very interesting, except Thao spent the whole time on his phone again... We left Hue for Hanoi and had a day exploring where James and I found a lovely little restaurant ''Al Fresco'' and had an ice cream in ''Fanny Icecream'' overlooking the lake. Its a really nice city, especially at night when it is all lit up by little laterns.
The last two days have deffinatly been my favourite! We went on a boat around Halong Bay and stayed overnight. The first day we got there we got to explore a cave which was incredible! It was so big and there was about 3 or 4 rooms all leading off eachother. The vietcong used the caves as a hospital during the american war because they were so hard to trace. There was one part of the cave called the 'Mans Cave' and our tourguide was very excited because there was a piece of rock with looked... well very manly (Im being prude)... He kept commenting on it and trying to make people feel awkward by asking them what he thought it was. He wasnt impressed when James outsmarted him and said it looked like an old canon haha. Whilst we were waiting James was approached by a little dog which was cute at first and then bit him whilst loads of japanese tourists took photos. It wouldnt leave him alone for ages! after a few of us when kayaking around some of the limestone islands, the water wasnt as cold as it looked but i still didnt fancy going in though! It was really nice though.
The night on the boat was very nicce and we had heating so for once we were nice and warm for the first time in a while. This morning we went to Ti Tup Island which is a little limestone island with a beach and a pagoda at the top of its 500 step mound. The top was very good, you could see for miles and miles! We got back to Hanoi at 5pm and went for tea. We leave for Sapa by overnight train tonight. Apparently its freezing! But I am looking forward to it. At the top there are minority groups and we are staying with a host for the night, theres also beautiful clothes all handmade by the people who live up there.
We are a bit concerned about Australia but we emailed real gap and they said the floods are subsiding so there shouldnt be any problem to go out there. We leave for there in 2 weeks.
Love Aliss xoxo

Posted by AMellar 04:09 Archived in Vietnam Tagged al bay sapa real saigon hanoi halong fresco chi ho minh hue hoi an yaly gap. Comments (0)

First week in Vietnam, Cockroach day, New Years and Phu Quoc

....

semi-overcast 23 °C

Hello :)
Last week was our last week in cambodia which was sad but at the same time i was glad to be moving on. On the last day of the project we had what James and I now refer to as a ''cockroach day.'' I woke up and saw what looked like a huge tuft of hair on the floor, I looked closer to see legs moving and realised it was the biggest cockroach I had ever seen before lying on its back, dying. I refused to pick it up and it looked much too big to even stand on so James opened the door and threw it out with a flip flop, it went under someone elses door instead. So I felt fairly pleased but moments later James found another in his rucksack, it wasnt so big and was pretty much dead apart from twiching everynow and then. It was too far in the room to kick out and neither of us had any desire to pick it up so we left it there to die hoping it would still be in the same place when we got back from work. Luckily it was. Thinking that was the end of it we headed off to work eating our bagettes in the tuktuk on the way. I bit into mine and at first thought I saw a hair, I tried to pull it out but when I did a head appeared also, of a huge roasted cockroach. I was mortified and threw it out the window (probally killing a moto driver whilst doing so) but since I have been put off eating much bread. The last day at the orphanage we just farmed so it wasnt too much of an emotional send off. It seems strange not being so close to the kids as we were in Ghana but the truth is the Cambodian kids didnt seem interested in wanting to know us like the Ghanians did. They got volunteers so often that when one comes they arent a bit excited, and most of the time they were rude to me in lessons and werent interested in learning english at all (apart from the word ''on'' they find that hilarious so im guessing its some kind of swear word in khmer.
The day after was New Years Day and James and I were invited to the co-ordinators party at his house, it was strange to begin with, me and the other female volunteer were invited into the kitchen to wash and peel vegetables, there seemed to be an endless amount too so we were there for ages. The party started at 8 am so we were a bit reluctant when it began especially as after the vegetables it proceeded with Cambodian Karaoke! Very loud and they kept asking us to join in which we constantly refused. However there were Cambodian editions to ''If I were a boy'' and ''Baby Oh'' all with the chorus in English but a Cambodian Rap in the verse which didnt stick to the songs rythym at all. Feeling tired we walked into town to get some drinks and headed back to the co-ordinators house, by then mats were set up on the floor and the room became full of whiskey and men downing it (james included) Apparently its an insult to not down a drink when they men say cheers (which they do every 10 seconds) so I had had enough of whiskey and managed to cheat my way out of it by just filling the glass up with coke. The men there were impressed with me too haha. James had everything though, and his eyes looked a little bloodshot when we left the party... at ten past One. Lunch was fun though, the co-ordinator brought out some little bbq type things (the english translation for khmer is ''Hill of Fire'' I dont know the khmer.) And we were given a load of meat, fish, salad and vegetables to boil or bbq around it. There was about 10 people to each one so James really had to keep an eye on his meat to stop others poaching it. People mainly left the vegetables though so I had plenty. I tried Squid too, i just fancied it. I wouldnt recomend it though, it doesnt really have a flavour, just goo inside it from where it boiled and the texture made me feel a bit queezy. There was a vegetable called water spinach which the Cambodians loved, im not sure if you can get it in england but it is really really nice! The only downside to the bbq was we had to eat everything with chop sticks, and it was impossible to pick things of the bbq (especially carrots!) with chop sticks, so i made a fool out of myself a fair few times and had to be helped by James or the Cambodians.
Jasmine went home just before us but we have decided to meet up in Australia. She did the sweetest thing before she left though and left James and I some presents at the desk behind Narin 2. It was so kind of her :) We left Narin 2 on new Years Day to Head for Ho Chi Minh City - Vietnam and here we are. We had a two hour delay at the airport so we got given free meal vouchers and we played 'Gin Rummy' a game that Carl, the other volunteer at the cambodian orphanage had taught us in lunches. I beat James :)
We got a taxi through the busy streets of Siagon to Bien Rue, which is the road known for backpackers and I really recomend it because it is in the middle of everything. We were looking for a hotel but couldnt find it anywhere so we went down a little alley and found a little guesthouse called ''Nhat Thao'' It looked very nice, and our room was okay but there were loads of ants which we had to massacre. It wasnt cleaned for a week either which meant our sandwich boxes grew taller and taller in the bin, till eventually we asked if they could clean our room. They said they would when we went away to 'Phu Quoc Island' but we got back today and they still hadnt cleaned it so we werent very happy. The manager is quite rude too, she laughed in my face when we asked to keep our room (still pay for it obv) whilst we went to Phu Quoc and had a huge tantrum about it even though we were still paying and had booked it for the time we were there.
The road were on is just of Pham Ngu lao which is the center of the city, and we have found a few nice restuarants around that dont charge too much. We visited the Ho Chi Minh museum on the 2nd which was okay, then the markets on the 3rd and the War Remnants Museum on the 3rd. The War Museum had a section about war crimes and it was really very cruel. There were pictures taken just after the Americans had been into the vietnamese villages and killed all the citizens accusing them of being Viet Cong. There was also a section on 'Agent Orange' which had the same effect on people who inhale it as Nuclear Bombs, there children become mutilated or are born with Downs Syndrome. The museum had aquired to foetus' which were kept in a little glass box with fluid inside it, the two of them had been affected by Agent orange and had half head and no eyes it was horrible to see.
On the Fifth we had booked a flight to fly to Phu Quoc Island which is just of the Cambodian Coast near to Sihanoulville (where we went for xmas) the flight over was terrifying, in a tiny little plane which bobbed and sank with every cloud we went over. When it gets to the Landing Strip at Phu Quoc Airport, it literally skims over the boats in the sea as the runway is right on the shore. Needless to say I had my Eyes closed the minute i knew we were landing. The island was beautiful though, the beachs were all white sand, with an absolutely clear sea where the fishes swam over your feet as the tide comes in. The minute we got there we hired a motobike. I had wanted to in Saigon but it was far too busy so James and I agreed to get one in Phu Quoc instead. I got the hang of straight away, which was pretty impressive seeing as our driving lesson consisted of ''Hold down the break and this button then turn the accelerator and go.'' Even james said i was good, which must stand for something. We just rode for about 20 minutes each the first day, getting used to the bike, the right hand side driving, the other mentalists on the road and the dirk tracks. We got back to the hotel and slept off the plane journey and went out for tea at the 'Beach Club Resort' which was very nice. We were staying at Lam Ha Eco Resort, it was the only place on the island with bookings aso it was our only choice. We read so many bad reviews for it on the internet so we werent sure what to expect. The place was actually very nice and the staff were friendly, however at night our whole room was covered in huge red ants which climbed up the mosquito net and gave me a sleepless night just thinking about them. The next day we went to the beach in the morning and for lunch then we collected the bike and tried to drive up to Bai Dai beach which is a deserted tropic beach (and apparently the best) but there is a reason it is so deserted. We had bought a map which was terrible so went the wrong way and over a tiny bridge with no sides and into an eery looking forest, we were about to trun back when we came to a house with a lady who looked as if she had been waiting for us. She told us to follow her daughter and she took us through this forest with a sand floor and with trees with red bowls hung from them. I got on the daughters bike and burnt my leg on the radiator whilst James followed behind. Considering it was our first journey and we were on a path no bigger than a footpath James did very well. We got to the main road and the lady gestured she wanted a fiver... No such thing as a selfless deed.
We got onto the mainrod and followed it untill we came to a dead end, we tried another way but the motorbike kept getting stuck and James Cut open his toes trying to keep us upright. I drove back and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
We had to come back by boat today because the flights were fully booked. It took just over 10 hours and James had food poisoning so was ill the whole trip back. We go on tour tomorrow :) Im going to try and upload some photos now too but im not sure if it will work because the computers are so slow!!
Love Aliss xoxoxo

Posted by AMellar 03:57 Archived in Vietnam Tagged island resort saigon chi ho minh ha eco lam phu quoc nhat thao Comments (0)

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