NZ 2 – It was amazinggg

Lake Taupo was definitely one of my favourite places in NZ, it was a really nice little town on the lake. Lou did her skydive here, if your friends with her on fb and haven’t seen her vid check it out it’s hilarious. I didn’t do one myself, I’m too scared to go on oblivion at Alton towers so I feel a skydive wouldn’t be a wise choice. Sara and Claire left us here, had a good night out with Sara before they moved on, got a hot dog for $2 on the way home (we were only across the road) loving life. The next night we went out with everyone, I think the first time everyone really mixed well with each other. Drank a lot of vodka rasberrys that night, lou was sick the next day, she even ran off the bus to be sick lol and I felt awful all day. You’ll all be sad to here that night Tamantha and Robbie ended their love affair, however Tamantha bounced back and fell for Bobby. Theres a life lesson here, if it’s not working change the first letter of their name and see what happens!!
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River Valley was an odd but good stop, we were literally just in a valley, nothing else around us. The night at River Valley was strange, we were in a dorm of 32 people, the beds were just essentially one big mattress. And of course after a few drinks some people got a bit frisky for everyone to hear. For once the gossip was not about Tamantha. Here I went on a horse trek, when coming away I said I wanted to ride somewhere cool so im glad I did it here, we rode up through the valley, hearded some sheep out the way, it was all stunning. Hadn’t rode in about 9 years but thankfully remembered it all. After the trek we all just lazed around by the river and went across on this little platform on a wire you pulled yourself a cross on (or get others to pull you across). I of course went first, it was fun till you stop and find yourself dangling over a river.
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We only stopped in Wellington one night on the way down and didn’t get there till evening and had to leave early morning. So we went out. This time me and lou were smart and made our own vodka rasberrys before going out, it was quite a sad night as everyone was splitting up at this point all staying different times in Wellington, so everytime someone left there was a big goodbye. Nothing more to say on Wellington as we just drank there, on the way up I’ll have more to say.

The ferry over from North to South Island was loooong, 3 and a half hours, it dragged so much esp being hungover. At this point there was only 10 of us left from the original bus, the farmers, Shona and Chris, Jem and Mike, the Doc, Erik then me and Lou. We decided pretty much immediately we hated the new bus so segregated ourselves from them and spent most the south island together.

Kaiteriter, quite a pointless stop but we did win a pub quiz!! Fuelled on by the 2 vodkas you got included with your fish & chips (i love this place) me Lou, Shona, Chris, Jem and Mike formed an unstoppable team- Norfolk and Chance. Hehe naughty words. It was a relatively easy quiz but some odd questions here and there. We won a $50 bar tap so got a pitcher of cider, bottle of wine and a coke for louise. Money well spent.
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Louises fact- Vodka rasberrys are great, but know your limits.

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The story of Keith

This is the story of Keith… or Keith the queef as Louise likes to call him. As mentioned in the previous  blog I first met him in Te Puia, till this day we still can’t remember what he looks like. Some say he looks like a beaver (louise) others (me) say he looks like Boy George without the make up. All we know for certain is he had a lovely tattoo of Amy Winehouse on his arm and wore a bowler hat.
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In Taupo you have the option to do the Tongariro alpine crossing, you climb up mount doom and cross over mordor. The walk up the mountain is apparently very hard, there is no set path just tracks where people have gone before and you are on your hands and knees climbing up parts. It’s 17km, takes 8 hours and costs $65, im sure you’ll be shocked to hear I didn’t do it. However many crazy people did decide to do it, one of which being Keith. You are told the day before you have to be starting to go up Mt. Doom by 9:15am if you haven’t made it up the devils staircase and starting your way up by then you shouldn’t go up. Keith clearly didn’t listen to this advice, people saw him going up as they were coming down… and that’s the last time he was seen alive… jokes he did survive, just. But he was seriously left on the mountain over night.

The next day on the bus rumours were going around the bus that someone was still not back. Our driver ‘Q’ commented “I’ve never left anyone behind before” and with that off we drove. Throughout the day everyone was discussing it and as time went on we all got a bit more concerned, I think we all thought at one point he was dead. It wasn’t until 4pm (so he now hadn’t been seen for over 30 hours) that our driver got a text through to say they had found him. With that sam just shouted from the back  “alive?”. A question we were all wondering. Thankfully he was and we all cheered and since then he has become a legend of the bus.

Rumours kept coming around about what happened on the mountain, the best one being he slept behind a rock!! It wasn’t until we were in Queenstown that we found out what happened to him on the  mountain that night. He had got on a bus a few behind us and we met a girl who had spoken to him. Turns out as he went up he lost visibility completely, he claims to have not stopped walking the whole time, scared he would get hyperthermia if he stopped. He did stop behind a rock for a bit, so that rumour was true. He got so tired and dehydrated he was starting to hallucinate and imagine people (probably Amy Winehouse). The rain was a welcome relief for him so he could refill his water bottle.  Search and rescue was out at night and he screamed for them but they didn’t see or hear him. He didn’t know where he was going (in my opinion I would just walk down but “apparently” he couldn’t figure out what was down and what was up… bullshit if it was that steep I think it would be obvious). The next day he finally made it to one of the little huts where a search and rescue guy was waiting, he just asked him if he was Keith as they’d been looking for him. When they touched his arm he just passed out from exhaustion relieved he was finally safe.
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When we were told this me and lou were pissing ourselves, the girl took it very seriously. I dunno why, he was alive. Im glad all was well with him, his story certainly brought much laughter to our bus.

The End.

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NZ 1- Kia Ora

My blogs for New Zealand are gonna be the hardest so far, I have had the best time here on the Kiwi Experience. I have met some great friends and done so much it will be hard to prioritise. Here goes…

It all began back in Auckland we didn’t arrive at our hostel till gone 1am so was not amused when we turned up to get on the bus at 7:15am to then find out it was at 8:15 bloody ‘J’ had told us wrong. Our first stop on the Kiwi bus was Hot Water beach, on the way there  we stopped at Cathedral Cove where Macklemore filmed the “Can’t Hold Us” video. We got our first look at how beautiful New Zealand could be.

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The first couple of days is just like starting uni all over again. You know you will be spending a lot of time with these people so you need to make the effort with as many as possible. We struck lucky with our roommates Sara and Claire the alcoholics, as well as Robbie and Erik. Across the hall we had ‘the kids’ a group of 4 18/19 year olds, Eleanor, Beth, Peter and Billy, who we stuck with all the way down to Wellington. The whole group went down to the beach at night to dig pits out in the sand to get to the hot water. I didn’t get in but felt it with my foot and can confirm it was very hot.

That night it felt like we were on a school trip, Erik the hilarious Norwegian guy kept us entertained walking around in his green pants and then telling us some bedtime stories of his time in the army. We laughed so much we were fearing a ‘teacher’ would come in and tell us off. We didn’t see much of Robbie that night, he was off with Tamantha* a firewoman from liverpool…

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The next day we set off towards Waitomo, we shared a room again with Sara and Claire, this time it was more like a girls sleepover. When we got there we went straight to go tubing through the glow worm caves. This was not as thrilling as expected, seeing the glow worms was cool but having to paddle myself along in the freezing cold water was not fun. Claire provided some laughs though, she hated it and thought she was going to die. At one point she jumped back in her tube and fell off, the guide asked if she was still breathing, hilarious. That night lou found a set of keys, she handed them in and we all took the credit when the owner of the keys bought us a cider before pulling out his shorts and showing us where he kept his keys. He looked like Rolf Harris, coincidence? I think not.

I had such a good time the next day, on our way to Rotorua we stopped at Hobbiton, my main reason for coming to NZ. I loved every minute of it, it was so cute I would happily live there forever. It was really interesting as well learning more about the films and the effort they put into Hobbiton. I had a delicious steak and ale pie at the Green Dragon Inn and got a free cider, happy melton.(side note- they eat a lot of pies out here, so of course I have eaten my fair share) That night we stayed at a Mauri Village in Rotorua, it was so much fun. We learnt some games and did some weaving as well as learning a song which we performed to the rest of the guests at dinner, everyone really got into it, it was hilarious. That whole experience was definitely a school trip!!

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Next day on the way to Taupo we stopped off at Te Puia, a thermal park with geysers and boiling mud, it stank of rotting eggs as did the whole town. It was really cool to see though and then our guide boiled us some eggs in a hot water pool, yummy. Not the most thrilling place we’ve been but it was the day we met Keith…to be continued.

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Louises fact- New Zealand is quite literally middle earth.

*Tamantha is a fake name, Sam didn’t want her real name being used.

Can’t afford that

Byron Bay was a a really nice little town, but hellishly expensive. Glad we had only 2 nights there, although we did have some great food so can’t complain too much. We went to sunbathe by the beach (on the grass not the sand as we couldn’t be bothered to get all sandy). We were having a good time until a dad and his kids stood pointing at the rocks. Turns out there was a huge tiger snake down there, I had a look but louise swiftly left. Not a lot else happened there to onto our next overnight bus we went, this one wasn’t as bad but still lacked sleep.
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When arriving in Sydney we decided not to let the lack of sleep defeat us and waste another day so we got straight onto an open top bus. A great way to see the city, it had a very big European influence, french looking buildings next to Italian then English ones, very pretty. The Sydney opera house looks really good from afar but up close not so impressive, needed a good clean. But the bridge was spectacular, we had dinner down by the quay one night looking over the bridge when a storm hit, it was awesome.

We visited bondi beach, it was alright, just a big beach. Nice to watch the surfers though and we saw someone getting rescued which was interesting and there we cameras so look out for us on bondi rescue. The blue mountains were pretty impressive, saw the 3 sisters then walked along one of the cliff walks, saw some spectacular views!! We went to Manly beach on our final day, it’s a really nice little town but it was raining when we visited which was a shame as it just felt like I was being dragged down to sunny hunny in the winter all over again. The hostel was horrible that we stayed in in Sydney, it was just really basic and the people staying there were incredibly messy, put a downer on our stay but still loved the city overall.
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Melbourne was a our final stop in Australia, we didn’t have a lot of time here which was a shame but we made the most of it. We treated ourselves to a better hostel and stayed in the sanctuary section which was just for a girls, a nice change. The main thing we did in Melbourne was going to the Grand Prix, as soon as Louise heard it was there she was so excited so we got tickets. I actually had a great day, I love the atmosphere at sporting events so really enjoyed it and I got quite a few autographs as well. Lost my cool when I met Jenson Button trying to get an autograph shouting “I came all the way from England to see you” then when he ignored me I ran up the line and tried again, this time I was successful but lost all street cred by saying “do Britain proud”, he did awful, I feel bad I obviously put to much pressure on him. We got to run on the track at the end to cheer on Hamilton which was a laugh, pretty sure I kicked a child out the way clambering over the fence, all part of the fun.

On our second day we spent it round the city with a girl we met on Fraser Island, and met up with Ewan from Cairns which was really nice. Would have been good to spend more time here to explore the city a bit more, we rode trams though so I was happy.
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My least favorite airport is officially Sydney, had to pay to get the train from the domestic airport to the international one, $5.80. I was fuming definitely had an Alan Melton moment and made my views on the subject very clear.

I absolutely loved my time in Australia, the heat was unbearable at times but it was all worth it, got a good tan so can’t complain. I would definitely visit Australia again but next time with a lot more money so I could do the things I missed out on.

Louises fact- Don’t sunbathe near rocks.

The water is so clear!!

Our next stop down the East Coast was Airlie beach. I absolutely loved this town, it was a really nice place to stay for a few nights and it was great as we met up with a few girls from Cairns. We spent most the time with them whilst there which was good as it mixed things up a bit for a few days and it felt like we were on a girls holiday.

Our main reason for being in Airlie beach was to visit the Whitsunday Islands. We only did a day trip,  there was an option to stay overnight but after the disaster of Great Barrier Reef I refused to. The Whitsundays were stunning, the water was so clear it was unbelievable. Our first stop was Whitehaven beach, it was stunning the sand was so white. The only thing that ruined it was the 5000 aisians taking selfies and full on photoshoots in the water. The other island we visited was Hamilton Island. We hired a golf buggy here and drove around the island which was a lot of fun. We ended the day chilling in a pool with a cocktail, felt like we were on holiday. Bliss.
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We had to take our first overnight bus down to Hervey bay, I was not a fan. I felt sick pretty much the whole journey so just sat with my head between my legs spraying my face with Evian face mist to cool down. When we got to Hervey bay we couldn’t check in but was allowed in the common area. I just crashed, I’ve been told I wasn’t looking my best, double chin, legs all over the place and sweating profusely. I didn’t care I had a good sleep, just hope I didn’t put people off their breakfast too much.

From Hervey bay we took a trip to Fraser Island, we only stayed one night but that was enough, I had a great couple of days. We went to loads of beautiful spots, lakes, beaches and the shipwreck. I did feel however we didn’t get enough time at each place. We also went to some pointless cliffs that were meant to be different colours- just looked like the cliffs at old Hunstanton. The “roads” were just dug out pits in the sand and were lined by huge trees, looked like Sandringham. Overall it was a good weekend and glad we did it, the water again was ridiculously clear, we saw one creek which you couldn’t even tell there was water in it.

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I was always excited to get to Brisbane as we were staying with one of my sisters best friends who moved out there, Lauren. She was an amazing host and made us feel really at home (she also makes the best salsa ever!!) It was great to have a few home comforts, 2 pillows, proper towels and a huge t.v. It was great, you never realise how much you miss these things until your parted from them for moths. I loved the city as well, a lot of people are not impressed by the city but I really liked it, much more there I would like to go back and do again. We did walk down southbank which was lovely, and went to the town hall museum. We practically threw our bags at the lady working the closet when she informed us the museum was free. We only go to free museums.

Our next stop was Surfers Paradise, we had heard mixed reviews of this place, my sister hated it whereas others loved it. We were going there to party and laze on a beach and that’s exactly what we did. It was fun we went on a couple of bar crawls, got our free drinks (half a shot with loads of ice) and stamps for the clubs then would go back to the hostel to drink goon to actually get drunk before heading back out again. It was a nice place, wouldn’t rush back but had a really good time.

Louises fact- Vodka rasberry is the way to go (we discovered this in Airlie Beach)

G’day Mate, The Australian Adventure Begins

Arriving in Australia we thought the Visa part would be easy. But no, we were pulled aside and questioned quite a bit as they were concerned we were unemployed and thought we would end up working here with no working visa. No chance, ain’t nobody got time for that. After persuading him I was gonna be the next British Prime Minister we made it into the country.

Darwin was our first stop in Australia, we wanted to go here as it was somewhere people don’t usually go on their travels, they usually stick to the east coast. It was an alright place, I wouldn’t say amazing as there wasn’t a lot to do, but the national park we visited ‘Lichfield’ was stunning. So worth a visit for that I’d say!

We arrived at 7:30am and couldn’t check in till 12:30 so we dumped our bags and wondered around, in search of Wi-Fi which we found in McDonalds. We also went to the cinema again to fill some time, this time to see American Sniper, which I loved! When we finally got checked in, the room was a disaster, it stank, the air con was broken and it was covered in peoples clothes. It was the first time we just wanted to check into a hotel instead, but we persevered forward and apart from a German staring at us for 4 days and us sweating constantly it wasn’t that bad.

The Lichfield national park tour was really good, it was made up of mostly old people which was brilliant, practically a WI outing. It started off with a crocodile boat trip, which was good/ scary, we saw plenty of crocs which was an added bonus and the guide dangled meat over the side of the boat so they jumped up for that. The guide on the crocs was a man who I feel lived off the land and spent every day with crocs and hadn’t shaved in about 20 years. After the crocs we saw some termite mounds then went on to see a waterfall and swim in a creak which was really needed as the heat is so unbearable. We also swam in some natural rock pools and then it started to rain but I still went and swam under the last waterfall which was amazing.

Not much else happened in Darwin so off to cairns we went.

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Cairns is one of the best places I have ever been, there is so much to do there, you could spend weeks there but would spend a fortune!! We stayed at Gilligan’s which we heard was the best place, it was huge and had a great pool (didn’t go in it just looked good) and its own night club so didn’t have to go far for a good night out. The rooms were decent just a shame we had two absolute idiot American guys in our room. They loved themselves and each other, it was embarrassing how dumb they were, certainly not on my list of people to keep in touch with.

The greatest day of my life happened in Cairns, and that was Uncle Brian’s rainforest and waterfalls tour. Our guide was called ‘cousin Brad’  when we got on the mini bus in the morning and he started talking you could see the whole bus already dreading the day, he was a lot to handle, but by the end everyone loved him!! He made sure everyone got involved and the whole group mixed together. The waterfalls (one of them was where Peter Andre ‘mysterious girl’ was filmed)  and lake at the top of a volcano were stunning but the highlight was the time we spent on the bus. I wish we could have spent weeks on there. We were doing the macarena in the aisle whilst going round a bendy mountain road, then doing the Harlem shake and flashing cars on the highway… safety first. He played the best music and it was sing a long after sing along! One of the best bits was putting on ‘eye of the tiger’ then going off road down a hill, we all went crazy for it banging on the roof and singing our hearts out. There is so much more I could say but I would literally be here forever. We made some great friends though, Charlee, Lillie, Emily & of course Ewan then only guy on the trip. We had a great day then we all went out that night as well and the next which was so much fun.

The next day we went to the Great Barrier Reef, which was really pretty, but not as many cool fish as I was expecting. I did see a turtle though and touched it, it was beautiful! I felt ill all day, being on a boat for that amount of time was not good for me!! But I wasn’t sick which I’m very proud of.

Cairns was so good and if I visit Australia again I will definitely do it all over again and do even more that I missed out on. We got on our first greyhound bud and headed down to Townsville which wasn’t too bad, free WiFi and USB ports to charge our phones.

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Townsville was a really nice place, it was very homely and calm which was a nice change from Cairns in a way as it gave us time to rest. We visited Magnetic Island whilst there which was beautiful. Had so many little hidden beaches which we attempted to get to but we got to hot and turned around. But later we went to a nice beach which was right near the bus stop so not a lot of effort. We also visited bungalow bay koala village. I got to hold a koala bear which was so soft and adorable. Also held a baby croc, a tortoise, numerous lizards and a snake which was so heavy, even Louise conquered her fear to hold it, very proud! Overall it was a nice day and if we had stayed longer it would have been nice to hire a little car to see more of it.

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That’s our first leg of Australia over, so far so good!! But expensive, the money just disappears out here, all donations welcome haha.

Louise’s fact- There is a McDonald’s on every street corner in Australia (love me a Oreo McFlurry)

Final few stops in South East Asia

We got told by a couple of people who we have met not to go to Krabi as the town was awful and had a lot of tourists. We took their advice and booked into somewhere for the night to use it as a lay over to get to the islands. On arrival we realised we had made a huge mistake as we were staying right on the coast line. The hostel we stayed at offered so many cool things, like kayaking in caves and a secret beach, but we were leaving the next morning so missed out on that unfortunately. But we did stay in a little shack which I loved but Louise hated.

Our first Island stop was Koh Lanta, it was such a lovely island but didn’t have lot to do there so we took this time to relax on a beach and start work on our tans, and I brought a snorkel. I would say that it was a good family resort though, but you might as well just go to Tenerife and save yourself some money and a long flight. Highlight there was at a restaurant one night after we’d had a few cocktails and paid the waiter, he says to me ‘Thank you sir’. Oh god we laughed so much, fuelled by alcohol it was such a funny moment.

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Our next stop was the island of Koh phi phi, we knew it was going to be a party place and we were staying at a party hostel so we were looking forward to a good few nights out. We met up with some boys who we met all the way back in Ho Chi Minh, it was good to see them again and we had a right laugh over the next few days. It was like being back at home having a little crew again. We all went to an “Ibiza” pool party which was just full of guys that loved themselves, so chavy!! We also went to Maya bay with the boys which was great, it was so nice, we went snorkelling and swimming in different bays of islands. The actual bay where the film ‘the beach’ was filmed was really pretty but crammed with tourists. We all went for a swim and one by one we all drifted away from the group to do the classic British thing…have a piss in the sea, classy.
I was really ill one day on the Island, I had, lets say, a ‘dodgy tummy’ so i took a tablet for it (imodium) but got really dizzy from it as a side effect so couldn’t get out of bed all day. Louise was a star and looked after me bringing me a pancake with banana and nutella on it, yummmy. But don’t worry I felt better in time for the night out, staying in is not really a choice. We went to a bar where they get drunk people from the audience to box and if you take part you get a free ‘bucket’. Entertaining but you would never see that in the UK.
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On our way down to Malaysia we stopped in a really random place in Thailand called Trang. There was literally no-one there, not touristy at all, very authentic Thailand. On the first night we walked for about half an hour to find somewhere that had a menu in English, on the second night we walked 5 mins in the other direction and had a KFC, which wasn’t nice at all so wish we hadn’t bothered.

The first stop in Malaysia was Penang, an island off the mainland, we stayed in Georgetown. I loved it here as it was much more developed than anywhere we had been so far and we had a lot to do. We went up Penang Hill which had great views and also up another hill to a temple with a giant Buddha, again great views of the city. We also treated ourselves to a visit to a chocolate museum. Which was just one room explaining how to make chocolate, it was no Cadbury world that’s for sure, but it was free and had a great shop. We also went to a history museum which had a random 3D photo shoot at the end. I had a great time, I love an impromptu photoshoot, I’m always ready! We had a trip to the cinema as well, didn’t realise how much I missed watching stuff!! When I asked the lady at the desk if the film was in English, she sarcastically replied “well yes it’s an American film” didn’t need the attitude it came with, not a stupid question I thought bearing in mind we are in Asia and other places we have been the films were dubbed. We went to see Jupiter Ascending, it was awful glad I only paid £2 for it. So cheap!!! And popcorn was only a pound, sort it out UK.

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Arriving in Kuala Lumpur the first thing we did was go for a Nandos. Chicken was great just as good as home, although major disappointment on the sides, no mash and no halloumi, majorly gutted. Our hostel was awesome, our beds were like little pods and it was all really nicely furnished. It also had a roof top bar that looked out onto the Petronus towers which was a great view, had a good boogie there, DJ played some right tunes. We went up the towers on the second night and walked across the skybridge between them, the views were spectacular, it was so high up. We also went to the Batu caves whist there which were a major disappointment. Would be nicer if they weren’t filled with litter and monkeys running around everywhere. The highlight here was probably finding Marks & Spencer, which had a food section, we were so happy to find it and was amazed at everything in it!! We of course stocked up for our bus journey down to Singapore.

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The final stop of our trip in Asia was Singapore, by far my favourite place so far. The city was amazing, it was like a bigger version of Canary Wharf. Even though it was too expensive for us to do anything, we had a great time walking around exploring and seeing everything we could do if we had money, for example- shop in the billion malls (literally a mall on every street) go up to the top of the ship hotel, go on the wheel, walk around the sky garden and much more, that was just the city centre. Instead of all this we just picked out places we could work and live in the future. Everyone was so business orientated and plenty of wealth 😉 We did go to the cinema here to see 50 Shades of Grey. Quite a crap film but Mr grey was good to look at. We were the only white people in there which we only realised at the end when the lights went up and we turned around haha. The audience was very noisy they just chatted throughout, it was quite relaxed which was actually alright as we could comment more on the film. They also laughed constantly at anything sexual and anytime they said a famous quote from the book. Hilarious. We ended our stay there by spending valentines day in the airport (we literally spent 7 hours at it)

Louise’s fact- quite a generalisation, but Asians are the nicest people you will meet.
I can back this up, my leg was bleeding on the MRT in Singapore and a girl dug out a plaster from her bag to give to me. Kindness you don’t find everywhere!

It’s sad to think Asia is now done, but I will certainly be back!! I have had an amazing time and now we are off to Australia for our adventure to continue. Very excited for some normality and toilets that actually let you flush toilet roll down them instead of putting it in a bin next to it, not a nice thing! Lou is excited to be able to walk into a toilet and not have the fear of it being a squat toilet.

Bonus Louise fact- Asians love a selfie.

O.M.B – Luang Prabang & Chiang Mai

Everyone had said Laos was beautiful and they were not wrong, we only went to Luang Prabang but it was stunning and seemed like a normal holiday resort, I could easily see my family going there. The main attraction in Luang Prabang was the Kuang Si Waterfall, it was really
pretty and had so many layers to it with one bit looking like centre parcs!! We went for lunch in a nice restaurant which
looked out over the waterfall and I had my first pineapple shake, so yummy!!
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We found a new love for Asian Night markets whilst in Laos, they are just so much nicer than any market I’ve ever been to, selling little individual things all with such detail! Now everywhere we go we make sure we check out the night market!
One of the coolest dinners we went for was a BBQ along the Mekong River. It was a buffet style thing that you picked and then cooked yourself, one of the yummiest meals to date. A lot better than the next night when I decided to try steamed fish in coconut milk, that sounds good doesn’t it? But no it wasn’t a curry thing as expected it was more of a moose, it was vile and my worst decision yet. Thankfully I had chips on the side so just ate them.

After a great few days in Laos we headed back into Thailand, this time in the north to Chiang Mai. We started off our time here doing our favourite thing, a night market, and this time we decided to eat the food as well. It was so so good, and I found a new love for street food, although it was mostly just meat on a stick and I had a corn on the cob.

We went zip lining on our first day, as of course, we love our adventure days. It was great fun, I loved it all apart from a few times we just abseiled down, which I did not like as they dropped you down really fast. They found it hilarious, I did not. We went in a group with a load of Chinese people and a family from Taiwan. They loved me, eveytime I was scared or a bit out of breath they found it hilarious, definitely should start doing stand up in Asia. We had our first encounter of an Asian wanting their picture taken with a white person. A Chinese girl and her mum asked for a photo, then later on she sat with us at lunch and her mum sneaked up half way through to take photos of us. Odd but also sweet that this was a big thing for her. We were talking about singers and asked her if she knew any English speaking stars. Like me I’m sure you would expect a 19 year old girl to say someone like Beyonce or Rihanna, no, her answer was…. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sarah Brightman, she loves phantom of the opera and many of his other musicals, so we all had a little sing along of Joseph and the Technicolour dream coat. You just can’t make this up!
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On our second day we visited the ‘Happy Elephant home’ a sanctuary for elephants who had been forced to work, like having people ride them etc. We got to feed them in the morning and played a bit in the mud with them and then went out to cut down sugar cane to feed them. Felt like I was back in the fen again doing some farm work. After feeding them that we got to take them down to the river to bathe. It was such an amazing day, they are such a beautiful animal and I loved every moment of it. Also our guide was a ladyboy with the worst hair extensions I have ever seen, she provided laughs throughout the day.
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We went for a night out and had such a laugh, it was good to have a nice dance and we even saw the ladyboy guide from the elephants, she was loving it. The bar played some really good music and a few random classics like the Macarena and early Britney stuff. The Thai loved it, we loved it, everyone was happy. Louise also got hit on by a prostitute, it was hilarious as she kept touching her and kissing her cheek, lou had to keep anti- bactering her face. But then this woman bit her and that was a bit too much so she moved a way. Great laughs for me though!
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On my final full day I just relaxed, Louise went shopping with Jenny and I went off to a pool with Catherine (2 girls who we met in out dorm, they were so nice and it was good to spend some time with others) It felt so good to finally relax and it felt like I was actually on holiday! We all met up again later and went for a massage by ex women prisoners. We just had foot massages which were really good, although I’m pretty sure my lady was mocking me constantly, esp my little toe, as she held it and said something to the others to which they all just laughed. The day got even more random when we went to a ladyboy cabaret show. It was hilarious, these guys really go for it and it’s quite upsetting realising these men have better figures than me!!!

We had a great time there and met some really lovely people. Up next we are headed down to the Thai Islands for a beach holiday/ bit of partying.

Louise’s fact- if you want to learn to barter go to Luang Prabang. She would know, she is the barter queen!

Vietnam- you can shit like that, you can shoot like that

Vietnam was just how I expected it to be, the cities were crazy busy and the countryside was beautiful. The country is more developed than Cambodia was but still very poor in parts. Driving through I came to the conclusion that towns are just one street with a few motorbike garages and places selling food out of there house garages, no sights of a bundle of houses together.

Our first stop was Ho Chi Minh city. It had so many mopeds it was crazy, I have never seen so many in my life, crossing the roads is mental as of course they don’t seem to have pedestrian crossings and if they do they do not abide by the rules. The main reason we went there was to see the war tunnels, we had a crazy tour guide (see my fb video) he was hilarious and actually I learnt a lot from him, although not sure how much of what he said was the truth. I think he was a Vietnamese man who worked for the US army and took great pleasure in telling us how they trapped the Vietnamese in the tunnels and foiled there plans. Quite odd for telling these stories glorifying the US in a country that hates them for what they did. The title of this blog post comes from him as well when he was explaining how the Vietnamese could stay squatted for so long to shoot from a low range.
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The war remnants museum was probably the place that’s effected me the most since being away. The pictures were so graphic and it made me really despise the Americans. After studying war crimes and genocide at uni I can safely say there was definitely war crimes committed and it disgusts me they have never been fully punished for it.

On our final night we headed out with 3 English lads from our room, we ended up in a very random club which was tiny. I learnt two things: the Vietnamese love Justin Beiber and they love a good beat. They were going crazy in the club. We had to get a 7 hour bus which at first I dreaded but to be honest it was actually alright. We were on the back row at the top in these weird seats which you had to lay down in. Not too uncomfortable and only one other Vietnamese guy in the row who kept his distance. Although after the second stop (they love a toilet break every 90 minutes out here. Mums dream) he started taking photos of us, so we took some back. Strange man.
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Our next stop in Vietnam was Dalat, somewhere we had never heard of but was recommended it by a couple of people so we thought we might as well check it out. Im glad we did as it is among all the mountains and it is pretty stunning. It’s quite a small town which was a welcome break from all the cities, but only just becoming a tourist destination as most places do not have menus in English. We also had the best ever hot chocolate here. Just what I was craving!! (Side note: There are loads of cafes in Vietnam a welcome French influence.)

We stayed at Mr peaces hostel, it is definitely an experience in itself staying there. Mr Peace was very eccentric and liked to hang out with everyone and be everyones friend, but that was cool. His wife was called strawberry and they had a little daughter called Laura who was the most adorable kid ever. Each night they do a ‘family meal’ either eating in or going out and on our second night we joined them at a spring roll place, which was really yummy.

Our big experience in Dalat was canyoning, which was not exactly my forte. Before I went I had no idea what it was, which I think was a good thing, as it is abseiling down cliffs and waterfalls. The first couple of cliffs were dry then at the bottom you dropped into the river, then the third one was the waterfall. He said it was very unlikely for us to fall, well of course I fell as soon as the water pushed down on you, I completely panicked it felt like I just kneeled there for about 5 minutes with my mind blank of what to do. I finally sorted myself out and got back up thankfully. But then I had to watch Louise fall at the same spot. I was terrified for her, watching your best friend stuck dangling on a waterfall is not ideal. The worst part about the day was the rough paths in between each activity. I twisted my ankle badly (I’m gonna say I sprained it as it hurt a lot for a few days after and swelled up) it was not good for me. We also just got chucked down random little waterfalls head first, odd but fun. We also did free jumping, 7 metres off a cliff into the water. We both didn’t do the last abseil, my body could not handle that, all the adrenaline and fear takes it out of you.
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Our final stop in Vietnam was Hanoi, which at first I really didn’t like but it grew on me. We started off badly though as we were dropped off in the wrong place which was scary as the streets were so small and crowded. We walked around for ages trying to find our place asking loads of people and finally discovering there’s two streets with same name but different accents on, so frustrating. But when we got to the hotel it was totally worth it. We stayed at the Posh hotel, which actually was very posh. It was a normal hotel then had a dorm downstairs with the most comfortable beds so far. Whilst here we went to a few museums, which were interesting but the main attraction was
Halong bay. We did a day trip around the bay, we originally was going to stay over night but heard bad things. Thankfully our boat was very nice and had a good meal on board of seafood and rice etc. We went kayaking which at first we were rubbish at but I think we improved by the end. Definetely a good experience. Also went into the caves which were cool but to be honest Cheddar gorge in Somerset had more impressive ones!
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A great week in Vietnam with Laos next on the agenda.

Louise’s fact- The Vietnamese do not understand the term “okie dokie”

Cambodia- follow that tuk tuk

When landing into Siem reap, after only a half an hour flight  I thought the place looked beautiful, a lot of country side with little houses dotted all a round, however, I was wrong, the town was certainly not beautiful and the countryside was all dead grass. It is clearly a very under developed country, driving from the airport to the hostel was definitely a bit of a shock after being in such a big city, as it was just little shacks that lined the streets. Our hostel itself was nice, decent air con, clean sheets and towels provided. Although at first we was put into a room and assigned beds that clearly had people in them, we was soon moved to free beds in a different room with only one other occupant, an older Spanish guy who spends his days travelling the world.

The town itself  gets better the more you explore it, I thought it was just all going to be little shacks but thankfully we kept walking and found civilisation, pub street. A big street filled with bars and tourists, we had a drink there on the second night and finally got speaking to some others which was nice although when tired its too much effort to keep making small talk. The town surprised us even more when we found a hard rock cafe and Costa coffee! We treated ourselves to a decent meal, it was the first time we was able to eat without fear of food poisoning, and it felt so good to do so!! They had a band come play who asked for requests, I went for a classic – Bryan Adams, summer of 69. Surprisingly they knew it and I loved every moment.

The main reason for being in siem reap was of course Angkor Wat. We paid a tuk tuk $18 for the both of us and for 9 hours he drove us around and waited outside each temple, such a good service!! Angkor Wat was pretty magnificent, over such a vast space, although by the end I must admit it got a bit samesie, but we hung a round to climb up the small mountain to watch the sunset, which was spectacular, well worth the wait (side note the Sun sets early about 6pm). The most annoying thing about the day was all the people constantly selling you stuff. “One dollar, one dollar, one dollar” it does slightly do your head in by the end of the day. ( a side note; everything here is in US dollar. You can use their currency but everything is priced in dollar, which they prefer). We had a couple of little girls approach us & segregated us from each other and forcing bracelets on us “if you don’t take it mean you don’t like me” well to be honest I didn’t, I would rather do this trip without being hassled at the entrance and exit of every temple. Don’t worry I  excepted the bracelet and bought a drink from her stall. Although once you buy one thing they try to sell you everything else they own.
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The journey to Phnom Penh was just unbelievably awful. If you’ve ever been in a car with my dad then it will be easier for you to imagine, although take his crazy driving and instead of a decent car make that a 16 seat mini van packed with Cambodians, and oh yeah no suspension!! Driving along roads that was still under construction, worse than most fen roads. It took a nice 6 hours 😦 Surprisingly I wasn’t sick, quite an achievement in itself I think, although I do think my organs may have been misplaced!

Down in Phnom Penh we stayed at a mad monkey hostel, which we heard was quite a party place and on our second night we discovered it definitely was. It was so nice to just relax, drink and make some new friends, so many Australians out here it’s ridiculous!

On our first day we visited the killing fields and S-21 Genocide museum. Both were quite hard hitting but so interesting, after studying it at uni for a term it was great to actually come out here and see it. It was absolutely awful what happened here but these memoriams certainly are the perfect away to remember the loss of life.
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The next day we went to the royal palace, which was beautiful but rather small when comparing it to Buckingham Palace. We went round there with a German girl from our dorm and a Dutch girl who we met when getting the tuk tuk. It was cool to have some more people to go around with, added something different to the conversations. We all decided we would treat ourselves to a massage, we all went for the native ‘Khmer massage’. Well massage is certainly a word that should be used loosely when describing my hour of being stretched and slapped, even slapped my head. I had a guy doing mine but thankfully I was still in a room with Lou. The masseuse were up on the beds straddling you, kneeing you in the back, lifting you up. Odd odd experience (you are fully dressed in this baggy outfit they give you).

The final night we went out, and we went hard. I may have drank slightly too much 😦 Definitely paying for it the next day. But we finally met some English people and a nice bunch on Canadians so had a really good night out on a mini bar crawl which was so much fun.

Off to Vietnam we go with me feeling sick and taking another plane bleugh.

Louise’s fact- Cambodia isn’t as cheap as you think!