A Travellerspoint blog

Maybe Tomorrow?

Beach bums in Bali

sunny

Australia was expensive - pretty crippling to our budget, so (no offence to australia) we were very glad to be leaving for cheaper living in indonesia. So on the 7th august, we spent our last few precious australian dollars in Perth airport and boarded our flight to Denpasar, Bali. (Note: Ian spent his last dollars, not on Duty Free alcohol...but on a book! Suited me fine - it kept him amused much longer and more quietly ;) and also turned out to be a very good book by the way - My Colombian Death)

We landed early, only around 9pm, and happily trotted into the airport....only to find that we needed to pay $25 each for a visa (something i had already found out but completely forgotten about) and had absolutely no cash on us. Ahhhh, no problem, they'll let us through security to use the cashpoints and then we'll come back and pay. Except.....the cashpoints (5 of them) rejected our cards. Between us we have debit and credit cards from three different banks....and all of them were rejected. Eventually after 40 minutes managed to pay for the visas on one of the cards, but still had no cash for a taxi to our hotel.

Way back in colombia, I had found a $20 (USD) note on the floor of a grubby bathroom, and folded it up into a tiny square in the pocket of my jeans for "a rainy day". It had been there ever since, and now seemed like a pretty dark and cloudy moment to finally remember to use it. Unfortunately these jeans had been washed many times between colombia and Bali, with the note still in the pocket, and it was subsequently faded, creased and a little torn on one edge. Which meant that the first 5 moneychangers we offered it to rejected it. eventually the taxi office directed us to one who would change it, albeit for a very low rate...but still, it was enough to get us the taxi, with a little leftover.

We collapsed gratefully into the taxi and relaxed a little - until he started driving, that is. after half an hour of nerve-shredding near misses with motorbikes, buses, bemos and other taxis, we finally stumbled out on jellied legs to the forecourt of our hotel, all thoughts of renting scooters permanently wiped from our minds. We just had to spend our pedestrianised days trying not get run over by the motorised maniacs, whilst fending off incessant offers of transport from every car/minibus/motorbike owner we passed. After a while this becomes so wearing - repeatedly saying No thank you, no not tomorrow either, or the next day thank you, - that eventually you are reduced to wearily shaking your head and just walking on. So you cant help but smile at the taxi driver who is clearly as tired of this game as i am. sitting on the pavement beside his car as you pass he holds up a printed and neatly laminated card bearing the ever ready phrase "Do you need Transport??". As you smile at the resourcefulness, shake your head and start to walk on, he flips over the card to reveal the words on the reverse: "Maybe Tomorrow.....?"

As for the cash situation - well to cut a long story short, eventually we got some money through cash advances on credit cards etc, and hopefully will get the rest sorted in the next two weeks by various means. But ohhhh how i want to kill Nationwide when i get home.

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In the meantime we set about enjoying Bali, feeling extremely thankful for some hot weather at last! Ian and i speedily set about the serious process of getting tanned, since our blindingly white limbs were possibly visible from space by this point. our hotel was lovely, a much appreciated bit of luxury (and still so cheap), and had a nice little pool,tv, air con, etc etc. We spent our days in Sanur lazing by the pool, wandering around the town and trying not to buy the entire contents of every shop we walked past. On the second day Ian decided to get his hair cut - an hilarious episode for all concerned, since the hairdresser spoke very little english and didnt seem to have many skills in the hairdressing department either. After almost an hour of miscommunication Ian took the clippers off her and finished it himself, much to the amusement of the group sitting outside the shop. watching thru the window!We decided in future we should just ask how much to borrow the clippers for ten minutes - it would make life so much easier....

Taking a walk one day we unexpectedly came across a street parade - it turned out to be Sanur festival, and was really interesting to see, with hundreds of people in fantastic costumes, and floats and giant papier mache figures, drums, etc etc.
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We were surprised by how many Europeans we found in Bali - having had such trouble getting flights there from Australia at an reasonable price, i thought it unlikely to be affordable as a holiday destination all the way from Europe, but everywhere we turned there were europeans - particularly French. At first we thought it was just this town, but it turned out to be the same all over Bali and Lombok. Strange to hear all of the locals speaking english, but none of the tourists!

Indonesian food turned out to be far tastier than i had expected. After more than 7 months in latin America I never wanted to see a plate of rice again, and had been dreading the food of Asia for this reason.....but it turned out to be so so different, so much more interesting. whilst South American food had been relentless variations on dry meat/chicken/fish, with dry rice and maybe some salad, Indonesian rice dishes were filled with vegetables, eggs, tiny morsels of meat, and doused with delicious sauces of chilli, peanut, soy, ginger, lemon.......We happily munched our way thru the menus, washing it down with Bintang (local beer) and fresh fruit juices. The friendly restauranteurs chatted as we chose our dish of the day, and Ian found that the Italian ex-pat who owned one of the restaurants used to live on the north coast of Kenya, in Malindi, very close to where ian grew up. I sat in amazement as they chatted in Swahili, once more astounded at what a small world it is after all.

A small world indeed but there is still so much left for us to discover, and so much more to write about.....but i can't write it all tonight so i will leave it here, and tell you about the Gili Islands in the next installment.....See you soon.

Posted by ericurly 08:34 Archived in Indonesia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Adventures Down Under...

Sydney, Australia

sunny 14 °C

So here we are in the land of Kangaroos, koalas, didgeridoos and barbeques....and so far it's been pretty good fun!

We weren't really sure what to do with our time here - i spent the first two days in deep depression, sulking about having left New Zealand, before finally pulling myself together and starting to enjoy sydney! to be honest i think Australia is a bit overwhelming due to the sheer size of the place, we just had no idea where to start, and found everything to be pretty expensive and the distances between places quite huge. We looked at campervans and decided all in all it wasn't worth hiring one for such a short time and killing ourselves trying to drive as far as possible and not seeing much - so we've just stayed in sydney and done some short trips from here on the train, and got to know the city a little more. I'm glad we made that decision because really it's been exhausting being on the go constantly for 9 months, I was about to burn out, so it's been nice for us to have a bit of a break and just slow down and chill out!

So, obviously the first thing on my to do list was to see the harbour:

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to be totally honest i'd never been a big fan of the Sydney Opera House, but i have to say it is quite impressive, and not a bad view while you're sitting in the park! (we could also see it out of our hostel window if we climbed on the sink and leaned riiiight out.... ;)

Then we walked around the Royal Botanic Gardens, and one day it was actually warm enought to have a picnic! (remember its winter here folks - it's still mainly sunny but damn it's cold when the wind blows) We were joined on our picnic by about 15 cockatoos, some lorikeets and a few pigeons....cue more Ace Ventura-type scenes:

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Next on the list was obviously cuddling a koala....so off we went to Featherdale Wildlife Park, where we saw koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, tasmanian devils, cassowaries, sacred ibises, crocodiles, dingoes, flying foxes, peacocks, penguins and many more. Loved the koalas and kangaroos, they were so cool!

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and ian enjoyed meeting skippy!

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after that we visited the Blue Mountains, which are 2 hours west of sydney and one of the most popular tourist attractions in New South Wales. The Blue Mountains are so named because, from Sydney, they look blue. They are clad in vast forests of eucalypts (commonly called gum trees), which in the hot sun discharge a fine mist of eucalyptus oil from their leaves. The mist refracts light, which makes the haze look blue at a distance. That same oil makes the Australian bush as volatile as a pine forest in a bush (forest) fire. The vapour explodes, causing the fire to race through the canopy. (for more info go to http://www.sydney.visitorsbureau.com.au/page2-12.html )

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The area is certainly very beautiful and dramatic, and we did a couple of nice walks, past several impressive waterfalls and some stunning views.

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Soooo, we've also played a didgeridoo, drunk Fosters (yuck), and still need to throw a boomerang, have a 'barby', hopefully see the aussies play rugby against New Zealand tomorrow, and wear one of those hats with corks hanging off it....

Here's to the rest of the time in Australia!

Take care folks and don't forget there's a few more pics in my gallery on this site (link on the right somewhere) and if anyone's on facebook Ian and I both have a lot of photos on there!

Posted by ericurly 12:11 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Land of the Long White Cloud

The incomparable beauty of New Zealand...

all seasons in one day 10 °C

When I was little, I loved stories, especially ancient myths and legends and folk tales........then when i was only about 10 or 12 years old, my dad gave me a book by Kiri Te Kanawa (New Zealand opera singer) called "Land of the Long White Cloud". It contained all the Maori folklore legends, fully illustrated, and i was captivated by this magical land of New Zealand - the beautiful pictures, the intriguing stories.... It seemed to me - 12 years old and never having been further than Switzerland - that I could only dream of visiting this faraway place. So when I got to 23 and found that I was lucky enough to be able to actually go there.....well I couldn't quite believe it.

So hopefully that might give you an idea of how hard it is for me to explain how i felt upon actually arriving in New Zealand, parking up the campervan and standing on Waiwera beach, surrounded by stunning scenery, clean sea air and blazing sunshine. Quite simply, New Zealand was everything i expected and hoped for...and more.

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New Zealand is fantastic - the scenery is breathtaking, the people are so friendly, and you can drive for miles without seeing a single soul. We saw only the North Island, not the South Island, but there are so many varied and beautiful areas it's unbelievable. We began with the northland, visiting the Bay of Islands, Whangarei, Waiwera and Tawharanui national park. The coast up towards the Bay of Islands was absolutely gorgeous, and we found ourselves stopping every few kilometres simply to soak in the view.

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We also stopped quite a lot on our mission to feed every animal in New Zealand.....

It all began with Sheepworld...we stopped just to have a look and use the toilets, but ended up staying for quite some time, touring the farm and feeding the sheep, goats, deer, donkeys, horses, ducks, chickens, guineafowl, guinea pigs, rabbits, parrots, possums, pigs, and eels! we both loved it - simple things eh?

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From then on it just escalated.....from stopping to feed ducks at the lake, to turning round and driving back 2 km along the road to feed the biggest goat we've ever seen, to feeding chickens in car parks and being mobbed by seagulls on the beach. Ian has always had an Ace Ventura aura about him...and it would seem that our psychadelic van enhances the effect!
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Another theme of the New Zealand trip was Getting Lost. I was doing all the driving, Ian was therefore in charge of navigating.....trouble was I didn't actually check if he could navigate before we started. As he said on the first day: "this place is a dyslexic's nightmare - everything begins with a W!!"This turned out to be a very real problem.....literally, almost half the towns in NZ seem to begin with a W, and everything is unpronounceable
to us!! Still, we managed to find our way around one way and another (including some directions from very friendly locals) and generally had a fantastic time!

I would be here forever if i tried to describe everything, so i'll try to just give you the top highlights:

Watching the sun set over so many beautiful beaches, mountains, lakes and hills, sitting in our campervan drinking New Zealand wine and enjoying the tranquility.

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The extreme sports - mainly done by Ian of course! He did skydiving, bungy jumping, river sledging, black water rafting, rock climbing, abseiling, white water rafting, and skyjumping (controlled basejump from skytower in auckland)......and apparently that was all fantastic!!how he does all that i have no idea cos I'm far too much of a wimp to get involved.....
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However i did join in with the Zorb (giant inflatable sphere, us inside with warm water, rolling down a hill, screaming), and the luge (kinda like tobogonning or go-karting).

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The freedom of driving around in the campervan, stopping whenever we want and wherever we want.
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The Maori Cultural Experience in Rotorua - such a great night. We saw a concert showing all the traditional Maori songs and dances, the Haka, traditional weapons andhow to use them, and explanations of the tattoes and clothing. Then we were treated to a traditional Hangi dinner, which is cooked using thermal heat from the earth in this volcanic area - possibly the best meal i have had in many many months! after that we went to Rainbow Springs wildlife park next door where we had a guided nighttime walk and saw lots of birds, plants, fish, and of course the national mascot - the Kiwi! They're such cool little birds! All in all a really fantastic experience :)

And what did we get free with the Maori Experience? Tickets to the Lumberjack Show!! cheesiest thing ever but totally hilarious....and Ian turned out to be a natural at axe-throwing, getting a bullseye first time much to the disgust of the guy he was competing against, who couldn't even hit the board at all!

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Well that's it for now folks, like i said I'd be here forever trying to describe it all but i hope this has given you the general idea - basically it was amazing! One day I WILL be back..in the summer months, when it is warmer and i feel brave enough to visit the South Island too, which is apparently even more stunning. Can't wait....

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Posted by ericurly 13:44 Archived in New Zealand Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Monkey Business

Me and my monkey went in search of the sun....

sunny 27 °C

Monkeys are cool. There's no denying the fact. So we went in search of the little critters near Coroico, 3 hours from La Paz, at small animal sanctuary called La Senda Verde :)

The question was - how to get there? in the local bus, which takes 3 hours or so down the new road and is...well just a bus really. OR.......to mountain bike down Death Road once again and get dropped off at Coroico which just so happens to be at the end of it? Guess which one Ian chose, folks?

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We arranged with the mountain biking people (Aka Pacha tours by the way, not the hideously expensive Gravity tours) that Ian would do the biking, and i would pay just under half price to just ride down in the car behind them with the driver and the equipment etc....cos i still wasn't prepared to do the biking but it was still a fun way to get there!

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So, we set off at 7am, has breakfast and drove off to where the biking begins - i have to say, i was a little nervous at even being in the car but it was absolutely fine - good car, good driver, and the views are so beautiful it's hard to even remember that it's supposed to be dangerous! All in all it was a great journey - we stopped a lot to jump out and take photos of ian and the others, and the views, and had breaks for snacks and drinks etc. At the end they took us to a hostel/restaurant where we all had showers, played in the pool, and had a great lunch in the hot sunshine, before making our way to La Senda Verde.

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Getting there wasn't as easy as we thought - our tour didn't actually return that way, so they dropped us at the closest point and told us to wait for a taxi. Then the locals told us no taxis came by that way, and that we should get a bus to Coroico....except that the place is about 15 mins away from Coroico. so we got the bus to the turning for Coroico and then started to walk....it was a long, hot, dusty walk which took almost an hour, but eventually we made it!

We arrived to find many bikers there too - Gravity Tours, the first and largest biking company, take their bikers there every day for their lunch and showers, which means that the place is pretty much overrun every afternoon! So we settled into our cabin and had a look around the place.

We found....Spider monkeys, Kaputchin (?) monkeys, howler monkeys, 2 dogs, one puppy, 2 Coatis (like raccoons), guinea pigs, cats, guineafowl, geese, ducks, rabbits, a donkey, an ocelot, and many many parrots!

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As soon as all the bikers left and things quietened down, the animals became much bolder and came out to play. Watching them was so much fun, they have a wicked sense of humour - the spider monkeys particularly! we saw them terrorising everyone else in the vicinity, from raiding the bins, to stealing tools from the workmen, stealing food from the kitchen, and of course winding up their favourite target; the puppy.

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The poor little thing probably doesn't even know he's a dog he spends so much time playing with the monkeys...they hang from a branch by their tails and just bat him around the head, then drop down and wrestle with him on the floor! It's great the way they all get on though, and observing the pecking order...clearly the monkeys rule, and the Coatis (who run around causing havoc most of the time) are put in their place when they get out of line...we saw one monkey just pick up the baby coati by its tail and fling it out of the way cos it wouldnt leave him alone!

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Anyway we had many hugs from the monkeys, especially the two smaller spider monkeys who just love to climb on your knee and curl up, preferably inside your jacket where it's nice and warm :)

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They are absolutely gorgeous, and although they're very cheeky they can be really loving too, and it's great to watch them with the long term staff - it's just like one big family.

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p.s. go to the photo gallery for a few more photos!

Posted by ericurly 12:03 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Mountain climbing!

one small step for man....one biiiig mountain for Ian

snow -10 °C

When we got back from Rurrenabaque, Ian ran off to the travel agents to book a mountain climbing trip. he managed to get booked onto one leaving the next morning, to climb Huayna Potosi, a mountain a few hours away from from La Paz which is 6088m high!

So off we went to buy him some more socks (he couldnt do this one in his flip flops, however much he'd like to.....), fleece, general warm stuff to wear, because it is COLD up there....

he left at 9am the next morning, and off they went in the jeep (which broke down halfway) to the base camp which is at 5130m.

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there they spent a freezing night in a cabin, but had to get up at 2am to start the climb itself to the top. Unfortunately because we'd been back in La Paz for less than 24 hours before he left for the trip, he hadn't acclimatised properly to the altitude, and so even though he was taking altitude tablets he just wasn't acclimatising, so it was one of the hardest things he's ever done! hard to climb when you cant breathe!

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He says he's never been so cold in his life, it was two days of hell but also an amazing adventure! you can see from the photos that there were some fantastic sights, and it certainly looks like a once-in-a-lifetime experience! next stop....everest! only 200 metres higher!

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Posted by ericurly 09:51 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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