and i've got loads to tell!!
06.10.2011 - 11.01.2012
Hmmmm, so 3+ months later here i am again. No excuses really (again) cept there's been just too much to do & very limited computers at hostels if any! So i should start with a Merry Christmas & Happy New year to you all! Goodness, 2012 huh? We've only got 3 weeks left til we land back in London as well = GASP, very hard to get our head around.
So what have we been doing since i last wrote i hear you ask - PLENTY! Last time i left you we'd finished with Central America and were on our way to NZ. Since then we've also done some of Indonesia, Oz (Melbs & Sydney), Thailand & we're in Cambodia as i type! I'm sure some of you know this from the facebook updates, for those that aren't on FB i apologise & will try and get us all up to speed... Goodness where to start...Don't worry, i'll give you the readers digest version so you don't fall asleep.
We've been so lucky to see many of you in the last few months - visiting both our home towns & meeting each others nearest & dearest. The 3 weeks spent in NZ was great (and i've never watched so many rugby games in my life! Thank goodness NZ did it as i didn't want to be there if they didn't - there's only so many grown men you can see cry in the one place! haha) We managed to fit in a road trip down to Wellington - thanks to Ken Baddiley - and proceeded to catch up with many friends of the 3 of ours & have many drinks in celebration. Our last 2 days in NZ were spent in Auckland and again tried to fit in as many catch ups as possible with old London crew = mission accomplished!
Then we headed to Sydney & stayed with my amazing friend Tina for a few nights before we headed to Indonesia. First Bali which we liked, as soon as we could get away from the really touristy parts that were full of Aussies! it was so strange to be somewhere foreign & hear the very ''occa'' Australian accent more than the local one. First stop - Legian, where we were lucky enough to be there the same time as Ang, Junior, Sarah & Kath - some of my old friends from London, was great to catch up with them after so many years.
Then we headed to Ubud, made 'famous' recently by the film of 'Eat Prey Love'. I really liked Ubud, it has a very chilled, peaceful vibe to it & we did an amazing day trip with a driver around to many sites including stunning rice terraces & incredible temples. It was also the place i fell in love with banana pancakes & i've not eaten any since that rival them. Salivating at the thought of them now as i type...
After Ubud we hit the Gili Islands, off Lombok = paradise. We expected to stay maybe 5-6 days, we stayed 12 & really struggled to leave. they are incredible & i HIGHLY recommend you all go there. They've no police, and no motorised vehicles, if you want to get around the island you either: walk, ride a bicycle or get a horse and carriage! Brilliant! We spent 5 nights on Gili Trawangan - the 'party' island, full of bars with either techno or Jack Johnson cranking & loads of dive schools. Then another 6 on Gili Air, the more chilled, older brother of Gili T. This was our fave by far - more live music & cover bands in restaurants, less busy & oh so chilled. Our hardest decisions were where to have breakfast/lunch/dinner & what beach to park up on or where to watch the sunset from so i could take 100s of photos!
We did a days snorkeling trip around all 3 islands that was incredible - the variety of fish & their mesmerising colours had us grinning from ear to ear.Reluctantly we left the Gili's and headed to Sengigi on Lombok (don't bother, stay on Gilis) then back to Bali to head down south to Bingin (after a sensory overloaded 24 hours in Kuta.) Binging was great - a little town which numerous guesthouses built into the cliff side and a nice beach below. We had a room with an incredible view & spent a lot of time watching the surfers catch waves on our doorstep.
Then we hit Melbourne, and surprised my dad for his birthday :D sadly it was only 6 days there but we packed as much family & friends in as possible & i'm so glad we managed to add it in. Back to Sydney we then headed & I got to see my beautiful God sister Gina & God Mother Glenys - many many years since i've seen then. An AMAZING long weekend was spent in Palm Beach for Kate & Dritans wedding. I struggle for words when describing how amazing this was - the whole weekend was fully of love & great old friends & i thanked my lucky stars we could make it.
Then we hit south east asia - the last 2 months of our trip - eek how it's flying! First stop Bangkok, Thailand. My how crazy it is, then we headed down south to the islands - Koh Samui & Koh Phangan. Unfortunately weather left A LOT to be desired the whole time we were on both these islands, not too rainy but just overcast the whole time = what are no doubt beautiful islands didn't have their normal charm. We met our rocking German friend Annett again on Samui, we originally met her in Guatemala & have been leapfrogging each other around the world ever since. Needless to say, drinking with a German involved Jaggermeister (shudder) & we lived to regret it the next day but had loads of fun that night!! Once on Koh Phangan we chilled in hammocks a lot & read/wrote in the diary etc and one day explored the island with a scooter we hired & had a great adventure, Baddles even met his first elephant! I couldn't believe he'd never seen one before, but i guess i only had in Melbourne zoo.
Then we headed back to Bangkok for a night & up to Chiang Mai for 5 - including Christmas. I love Chiang Mai & could easily go back - it reminded me a bit of Ubud in Bali - quite chilled, but lots to do & not too crazy. We did a day tour here that took us up into the mountains where we fed & then went for a mini treck on elephants = amazing. We were lucky enough to be paired with the mum elephant that had an 11 month old baby with her - he followed us the entire way & it was so so sweet watching him struggle to get over tree trunks & mum giving him a helping hand (aka trunk) up & over them.
On this trek we met a great English couple - Sarah & Chris who we got on with like a house on fire, so much so that that night, the next & the one after that (which was Christmas) we had dinner & too many drinks together. For Christmas we found an English pub that was putting on a roast with all the trimmings & had an almost traditional (well the UK version, not the sunny nz/oz seafood smorgasbord vsn) Christmas dinner.
Next we headed back to Bangkok again & picked up my amazing friends Rebecca Coomes & Robin Hastings from Bangkok airport & headed to Koh Chang island = WOO HOO!!! For the next two weeks we traveled with them & i don't think i've ever laughed so hard or so much before. I have to hand it to Baddles he did very well travelling with 3 girls, and i bet he was thanking his lucky start we're not 'girlie-girls' as well (also bet he secretly loved it!)
We spent 5 nights on Koh Chang, and saw the new year in there as well with some traditional thai buckets - dangerous alcohol content yes, but thankfully the hangovers weren't as bad as expected! Another day of scooter adventure was had on this island as well, but every other day was spent at the same beach side restaurant/bar working on our tans, reading books, cooling off in the ocean & eating great food. The amount of seafood we consumed on this island was incredible & so so delicious.
From Koh Chang the four of us headed over the border (what a ridiculous farce of a 'organised' border crossing this was!) to Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Both Robin & Bec had been here before, about 8 year previously & were horrified at the mass development this place has undergone, what used to be a sleepy beach area of town with not much around - Serendipity Beach - is now a buzzing beach with restaurant upon restaurant as far as the eye can see!
Their faith was restored some what when we ventured further afield, sadly on our last night, to Otres Beach & stumbled upon a great beachside family run bar/restaurant called Bamboo Shack, with the sweetest 14 year old waitress looking after us. She was divine & we had a great time chatting with her & drinking the many cocktails she brought us through the evening. The food was incredible as well, if you're in Sihanoukville, definitely visit.
From there we headed to river-side Kampot for 2 nights & from there did a day trip to seaside Kep as well. The crab market in Kep was insane & like nothing i've ever seen before so i'm glad we ventured out there to see the craziness. The last place we ventured with Bec & Robin in tow was Phnom Pen, for one night before we headed to Siem Reap - where we are now - and they flew back to Melbourne (*SOB*) We had an amazing last lunch at Friends Restaurant. Aside from the fact that the food was DELICIOUS, the restaurant supports local disadvantaged young people & is a training ground to help them get into the hospitality industry = type of place that's right up my alley! Highly recommend this place.
The next morning there a teary farewell as we bid the girls a due & hopped on a bus to Siem Reap. This was the worst bus of the trip i think. We were in the last row, next to the toilet & above the motor = it was hotter where we were sitting on this "air conditioned" bus than outside in the sweltering sunshine. Not a great 6 hours let me tell you! We found a room & headed out to Angkor Wat for sunset = stunning! Then headed back there again to explore all day yesterday. What an amazing, mind-boggling, stunning place!
We're loving Cambodia & the amazingly friendly people here, the kids that all wave at you as you go past in a tuk tuk with a grin on their face are super cute! By the weekend we'll be in Vietnam, our last country, with a mere 18 days left of this amazing adventure, before we fly out of Bangkok back to The Don... sigh...
Well i think that's pretty much everything, sorry it's a bit vague (and still not really brief!) & I'll leave you with a few other tidbits...
- Baddles loves going to Temples (Wats) and markets! PFFT, actually that'd be me & it's now become a bit of a joke how much he "just can't wait" to do another
- Our tally as it stands is 9 countries & 49 different towns/cities.
- when we get back i will be looking for a job for the first time in a decade!!!!! No idea what i really want to do yet... any suggestion welcome...
- i've uploaded only a few more photos now, with loads more to come, promise! These ones are all from my lil digi cam only so far as quicker to upload & will do more & of my dslr when i can, but my tummy's grumbling & i'm hungry for dinner...
- i've not got a recent tally of how many photos i've taken but i hazard a guess at over 7000! hehehe
So it's ciao for now people... hope 2012 has started brilliantly for you all and continues that way & for those of you in London we are really looking forward to seeing you again, please bear with us if we seem a lil sad the dream is finally over! ... But only til our next adventure! xxx
ps: apologies for any spelling mistakes/nonsense etc, too hungry to read over again! haha! xx