Sunday, 23 September 2007

Vinaka Fiji!!

Bula folks!
I've been lucky enough to spend 14 days enjoying some fun in the sun - stepping off the plane to humid air was blissful even though sweating in jeans and trainers laden with bags didn't make for good look.
For those of you like me that thought Fiji was a destination for the rich and in love I have news for you, although its expensive they cater for the backpacker and solo traveler much to my benefit.
1st stop was a night in Nadi enjoying Dell boy style drinks with umbrellas (sorry, it had to be done), Nadi (and indeed the rest of the main land so I've been told) is worth skipping, especially if you're short on time so I was on the catamaran the next morning heading for the Islands - Fiji has 322, its an archipelago (impress all your friends with this word, its also the name of a fab resurant in London where you can eat bugs!!) so you're spoilt for choice (some are so small you can walk round them in ten minutes).
The Yasawa Islands are about 3 hours on the boat, and my chosen home was the Manta Ray Island Resort, so after 3 hours smiling smugly to myself for being in Fiji while everyone else was in the rain back home I had my 1st no shit Shurlock moment, in order to get you to the Island the catamaran stops and the resort boats (little tiny, tiny things with hairdryer type engines) rock up, tie on and you have to get on them with out dropping your belongings or indeed yourself into the drink, I don't know why I imagined the water around the Islands would be deep enough for a jetty type disembark, I've watched shipwrecked on T4 but there you go...
We made it and were greeted with the wonderful Bula (bula is a Fijian greeting) welcome from the staff with huge smiles all round, it was postcard Paradise, pictures don't do it justice, I was a very happy beach bunny.
The main reason I had chosen this Island is because I didn't want to be bored and after 3 months of doing nothing constructive I had decided to do my divers course.. I then made the mistake of checking things out on the Internet and finding all sorts of sea things that could kill me causing me to make an annoying twat of myself begging my diving instructor not to take me anywhere near sea snakes and making him explain many times that he knows what he's doing and yes they do know what to do if anyone gets bitten or stung. My instructor was Pete, who I have since renamed patient Pete. My 1st dive was off the beach and after a quick go though on equipment etc. we suited up and snorkeled out to deeper waters, after about 3 minutes I felt something touch my leg and freaked out talking all sorts of ramble the essence of which was, 'A fish touched me, I'm freaking out, I cant do this!', Pete was very nice in explaining that the fish didn't actually want to go anywhere near me, they have no interest in nibbling me either and it was probably the extra lenght on my weight belt that brushed against me and there was nothing to worry about and offered to hold my hand...I have no shame in admitting I held his hand..being a girl rocks!
I've not dived before so have nothing to compare it to but it was a great place to go, corral reefs and some of the most beautiful scenery you could imagine, lots of pretty fish :), I even manged to touch a sea cucumber, and effectivly (from a distance anyway) swam with Rays, Ells and a Shark. Despite my anxiety attacks about pretty much everything (again this guy by rights should have been to the point where he drowned me or at least hit me was a blunt object), nearly throwing up and aborting a boat dive (You can actually vomit with your reg. in, you just need to clear the chunks from the reg. and let the fish do the rest with whatever you left behind, feeding the fish the jack arse way I'm sure), and on one dive while swimming on the surface (thank fuck!) my O valve blew and my tank emptied in a few minutes, I passed my open water course and god help my next dive master/leader I am a certified diver!!
Island life is pretty easy, the dorm room although it slept 30 people was huge and clean and full of very nice people, decomposing toilets weren't that bad (although I was quick to ask what to do if you needed to throw up, you do not want to put your head over one of these, simple, just find a bush and go for it - every ones very relaxed about these things), showers where tepid but again its warm enough that you don't mind, 3 meals a day in the main bure which where fantastic and as there aren't that many people on the Island people where forced to talk me and I had many a good night in the bar and met some very cool kids.
After a great time I left to head to Beachcomber resort, I'd heard reports from others on this so wasn't expecting much, rocked up and checked in to bed number 98 in the dorm, depending on who you speak to there are between 80-150 beds in the one and only dorm. This Island is sold under the umbrella of 'Party Island' (I didn't know this before booking) although you can do many water sports (expensive things that involve diving, or being connected to a speed boat by rope with skis or a shoot and many other things), the snorkeling was nothing like where I'd been - I'd done Manta Ray spotting which involved lots of getting in and out of a boat in hope of getting anywhere near the Manta Ray which as soon as boat loads of people had entered the water not surprisingly decided to dart in the other direction, I caught a fleeting glimpse just once in this highly comical cartoon type event, anyway I digress, as this was sold a party island there where many British and Irish there who should have saved themselves the flight time and gone to Ibiza, getting up at noon, going straight to the bar and staying there till they passed out, by dinner time (7pm) they couldn't even string a sentence together and by morning there was the unmistakable smell of urine in the dorm, nice eh? After 2 nights I was heading back to Manta Ray, mainly due to the fact I'd had a great time there and met some cool kids but also because I was scarred to try another Island in case it was also rubbish and I wanted to leave with happy memories, stick with what you know you like. Its the staff I felt very bad for, their faces said, have to smile because its my job but I think you are a bunch of wankers and I don't want to be here.
So back to Manta Ray to verbally abuse anyone that let me leave to go to that Island the 1st time and enjoy a very chilled couple of days where I didn't do much, Kayaking, a village visit and some bar time but mainly sitting on my arse in a hammock!
Fiji brilliant, if you ever go, get yourself a bula pass (for Island hopping) don't book to much in advance for the accommodation (unless of course its high season), don't go to Beachcomber, remember bula for hello, vinaka for thank you and smile... you cant fail to when your there!
peace out people

Monday, 27 August 2007

Spring has finally sprung!

Its official, it been over a week without rain and had glorious sunshine too.. Stacie is a happy spring bunny!
Elsewhere it seems that the depression from my departure has lifted somewhat (I know you still morn :)) and life has indeed been getting along without me and I'm missing out on the fun.
Mr. & Mrs. Kocaoglu are eagerly preparing for the UK part of there nuptials, so I wish them a fab time and request that they take many photos and email me the gossip so I know what I've missed out on, and Michelle you can now relax a bit its all done now girl!
Also the increase of the Gill clan in the arrival of all 8Ibs, 7ozs of Amelie Ann Rachel - According to her Father the best 2 minutes work of his life. Starting to get pangs of homesickness at not being around for these things, especially as Denise suffered that pelvis thingy (which is the correct medical term) and has a zimmer frame until she can recover and she wont send me any photos... the rest of you do your duty and sent me one over, we must always look on the bright side of these things, its bad that shes in pain and cant walk but a zimmer frame is bloody funny stuff.
So back to backpacker thing....

Chirstchurch is where I'm at, as a tourist you generally dont want to spend too much time here as there isnt much going on, Art centre, punting, museum, gardens, gondola, its quite and relaxed and very English in its appearance and also street names. I have had a fantastic time here for 2 main reasons, the Babes and Al (no filthy minds this is not night involving many nude people!).
The Babe family where my host family for my WWOOFing (Willing workers of organic farms/ and I spent an awesome week with them and their Blueberry Orchard ( In return for 4 hours a day pruning in the Orchard I got a bed, the best home cooking and spending time with this truly top family, I honestly cant say enough nice things about them, and indeed all their friends and family who went out of their way to make me feel right at home, and I would highly recommend the project to anyone and a big thank you to the Babes.
Young Al has set up home in this wee city and I am thanking the gods that he did (We will forgive the fact he's a Newcastle supporter) as I have had a great crack. Its great having a break from pretending to be young and cool to attract new friends for a while and to hang out with someone knows and accepts me as the twat that I am.
Al has also gone all out for me while I've been here, showing me the 'best parts of town' (and forgiving me for loosing us soo many games of pool) and taking me to my 1st Rugby match where we watched the mightily Canterbury kick the arses of Manawatu from the corporate suite, I know I dont belong in such places but I'm telling you do it once and you will never want to go back with the common folk again!
So its a huge thanks for Al also and a reminder that Sydney is just a short hop for a weekend visit ;)

So alls left is a short stay back in Auckland where I shall inflict my company on Kat once again. Best bits? New Zealand has the nicest people, so much so that it took me a while to stop thinking that everyone who asked how I'm was I going was trying to sell me something, I have 'misplaced' a few things while under the influence, and have got everything back after retracing my steps, even my camera which I left in a bar!!!

Next stop, Fiji and no doulbt sunburn...
Bye, bye

Monday, 13 August 2007

The scenic south...

Well in the 'beautiful' part of the country and here's where I've been...
So called the sunshine part owing to the fact that it gets more sunshine hours than anywhere else (Winter deffo not the best time to be enjoy that!), and its also a major hub for anything water or boat related and usually a combination of both.
Its a great little town that I really enjoying kicking back in, mainly due to the hostel I was staying in which had a great crowd, a spa (lovely for star gazing on those oh so cold nights) and an outside unheated pool that my nipples will never forgive me for jumping in that once....
This is also the 1st place that I discovered that only beer and wine is sold in supermarkets, the spirits are only sold in 'Liquor stores'. I have not idea why, if its to promote sensible drinking they should see what happens after the consumption of 3 litres of boxed wine purchased from the supermarket does - which is a staple diet for most.
Hmmm what to say? Well it started off as a gold mining town, as many of the towns around here did and doesn't really have much going for it so, just don't do it!!! We stayed for a compulsory nights stop and our only entertainment was the $20 brewery tour of Monteiths where we sampled 7 brews, got free run of the bar taps for 10 minutes and then where taken to the most scankiest pub imaginable for another free pint and all you can eat BBQ which consisted of only sausages and salads. The bar closed at 9pm but luckily we manged to stumble upon another with more reasonable hours before heading home. One night (which we made the most of :)) was defiantly enough, and I'm sure no one felt this more than the poor lass that ended up with food poisoning and couldn't leave the next day with the rest of us.
Franz Josef
Little town where when someone says its on the main street, they mean the only street, I went for a walk to see the town and it took all of 10 minutes! So why stop here? Glaciers of course! The only other place you can do this is in South America, and there are many ways to part with your hard earned to see them here, from a short heli ride and a trek, a full day ice climbing with pic axes or the leisurely scenic flights over looking them and nearby Mt. Cook. I did none of the above but decided instead at trying my hand at quad biking! Which is just as fun as it sounds only that they make you stick to a route and not go nuts trying to scale mountains in them.
Ending the day covered in mud is oddly satisfying for a days work :)
Well we all know about Queenstown right! There are even a few Kiwis on tour here (I have met more people from the UK and Europe in this country than I did in London and have met more Kiwis in London than here). You can do absolutely anything that isn't covered on your travel insurance here; jet boating, bungee, para/sky diving and even sample the legal but not highly recommended herbal pills (one look at the guys that did and you'll give it a miss).
My indulgements while enjoying this busy little town where to encourage as many drunk and or stupid people to agree to bungee while here (I did not partake, you have to make yourself jump off for these, not happening, even tho the people that did it said it was out of this world) and getting to grips once again with snowboarding - I still need a lot more work but hay its all fun.
I also had the use of a car as I ditched the bus owing mainly to being sick and wanting to stay in bed longer, make less compulsory stops etc. Out off all the 'fun' stuff you can do here that could leave you maimed or dead this has got to be tops for me, driving around and across mountains with nothing but cats eyes and the glare of someone else main beams in your eyes as they come round very acute angles, although prize for almost dying has to go to when my wheels hit something that was almost certainly living before hand at 80km/h in the pitch black country roads - I now fully understand the phrase no one will hear you scream - I resolved never to drive after dark again!
Wicked cool town tho, and a must do if you get the chance.

Lake Tekapo
This was a one night stop on the way over to Christchurch (Compulsory on my self imposed ban on night time driving). As the name suggests there is a huge lake which I cycled 3/4 of the way round and back again, once again reminding myself that my levels of fitness are around about the same level as 0. If you just come over here after flying in to Queenstown or something you would be amazed by the beauty of the mountains and the lake and the clear skys at night, but the South Island spoils you with so many mountain and lake combos that you get to a point where you don't appreciate them anymore, most of the photos I have taken are of the scenery and even I don't know where the hell I was when I took them anymore.

Well thats about all she wrote for now, in Christchurch at the mo where I'm going to do some WWOOFing, wanting to know what the hell that is should keep you interested enough to bother reading my next update.... more to come- bye for now....

Thursday, 26 July 2007


Which is not the drink but a Maori greeting, the Maoris being a culture/peoples that got here about 100 years before the Westerners.
Well as you know I'm now in New Zealand and man its soo nice to know whats going on around you.
I'm travelling on the 'magic bus' and no its not me taking illegal substances it a backpackers tour bus which is taking me around the two Islands, so whats been going on? Read on my friends...

Its the biggest city in the country with a whopping 1.5m inhabitants (only around 4.5m in the whole country, yeah I know) and it rains a hell of a lot, being sandwiched in between the Tasmanian Sea and the Pacific Ocean I dont know why I didnt expect it but there you are. Also having to pay normal prices for things as its way more expensive than SA is not a good thing :(
While I was getting my bearings here I've managed to get in Harry Potter 5 at the flicks (also read through the book while busing it, I know what happens in the end!!), seen the city from 220m from the viewing platform of Sky Tower (total height 328m, they seem obsessed with that fact so I'll put it in), nice views but glad I got the discount (backpackers card I love it!!) as its pretty much just a nice view, although watching people dive past on bungee type strings while you're drinking coffee is quite amusing.
Have got in many trips the bookstores enjoying the fact that every book I pick up is in English, and they have a wicked (and free) art gallery that gave me my 1st insight into Maori culture. One thing to note of this city is its very hyped up for East Asians, loads of good sushi places and multi lingual signs, I will say though never trust anyone to shape your eyebrows who has less hair on their whole body than you do on one limb....
Right so after purchasing my discounted bus ticket I'm off into the rest the of the country.

After a quick stop in Waitoma which is a tiny (and I mean tiny) little town down that has caves that have glow worms and bugs inside, you can also do many cave and water related things including tubing and rafting, I however deiced to give it a miss having no desire to spend two hours in the dark after learing about all the spiders that live in them, some of the others in the group did and said it was great fun tho.
So into Rotorua for a few nights of fun with some very cool people....
I sampled the delights of a Maori Village for the evening, I am now officially a tribe member and I think if I rock up there in need food and shelter they will give it to me for nothing which is always a good thing to know.
The evening started with a coach trip up to the village where we choise an adult male to act as our tribe leader, if you think that this is a good thing for him think again, the poor sod had to stand in the cold entrance to the village with a somber face while 4 dudes set the challenge and officially excepted the rest of us into the village, the challenge (or WERO as it is called) has much dancing, grunting noises and spear waving (similar to the thing that the all blacks do before a game), the deal is you cant laugh, smile or anything as its seen as an insult, I take my hat off to the guys that stood there while men where sticking out their tongues and grunting at them. After than we saw the village, were treated to a show and got dinner from the Hangi (earth oven), then back to the hostel for an hour of so in the Spa.
The region where Rotorua is located has geothermal activity meaning that there are lots of natural hot springs everywhere that are heated from the earth and smell of sulphur, I'm not doing it justice in my poor description but spas are good things people!
Having met a chick that was from the hostel in Auckland doing a free trip was a great thing, apart from the fact she was a cool kid to hang around with I also got loads of freebies, including two free hydro Zorb rides (lots of fun) discounted Swoop ride (being put in a sleeping bag type harness and dropped from some 40m above the ground to go back and forth 100m at 130 kmp, glad Kat had to pull the cord or I would still be sitting up there!!).
Also caught the cable car up a mountain to go on carts down the bottom, which wasnt a bad way to spend the afternoon.
In the evening we went into town to watch the rugby (Oz v's NZ) which in my current location I am pleased to say NZ won, which meant many happy people and me getting lots of free drinks and shots from the bar staff!

This is a little town that is slap bang in the middle of the North Island and is absolutely gorgeous, it has one huge lake in the centre and mountains around it and some of the nicest locals I have met in my life, a very nice lady that gave me and a friend a lift back from outside of town when we went off in search to craters.
Its also home to the cheapest and best views to skydrive from, so when in Rome eh? Attempt one for didnt go as planed, after being jump suited and harnessed up the weather got the better of us and we didnt get to jump, which was quite a relief to be honest as I wasnt mentally there that day and wouldnt stop shaking.
Day two and the weather was behind us and off I went 12,000 feet up in the smallest (and pinkest) plane I have ever seen in my life, again was pretty much bricking it but that day at least I could manage to talk. Was the 1st out of our little plane and was free falling for less than a minute before the shoot opened I got to enjoy the views while gliding above the lake, felt much safer than hand gliding despite the fact I know there is more chance of dying if it all went wrong maybe its because I was strapped to the chest of the guy and knew he liked living despite that fact he (I hope in jest) told me he was on anti depressants while we where on our way up.
I have pictures and a DVD, once I figure out how to share the DVD on line I will sort it out so you can all lip read the 1st words that came out of my mouth after being out of the plane, bet you can guess before you've even see it mind ;)
After all that excitement a group of us headed out into town to NOT come last in the put quiz, to be fair the prize was 50 bucks worth of booze but we managed with the extra credit competitions to win around 40 bucks worth of freebies although we left what little self respect we had behind, as a backpacker I have even less shame than I did before.

This is my current location and I'm only doing a quick stop over before catching the ferry over to the South Island tomorrow.
Which in essence means I've looked around the town, seen the museum that they seem to heavily promote where ever you go (I dont know why) and will be up and out before the birds tomorrow so cant really tell you much, other than I've heard its a great city to go out in as it has many bars which I will not be sampling before getting on ferry boat.

Next stop the delights of the South...
Keep well

Wednesday, 18 July 2007


Hay there,
Just to let you know photos have now been published on facebook.
If you need an invite email to 'be my friend' send me a mail and if I like you I might sent you an invite :)
For those of you that have not got into the facebook thing yet do not blame me when you realise you can loose whole days on the thing! But, on the plus side you can forgot to eat, sleep and drink so you might loose a few pounds and save some cash by not leaving the house..

Sunday, 15 July 2007

The little skinny one on the left.

That was Jims very apt way of explaining to me where Chile was when I got my Itinerary through and realised that I had to flight out of Santiago and didnt actually know where Chile was. I now not only know where it is on a map I have a very pretty stamp in my passport to prove that I actually managed to find its physical being to :)
So after all the trouble trying to get across the boarder I made it with 4 days to spare, I say 'spare' two days where spent on hold on the phone and visiting airline offices tying to get my backpack, it finally arrived, 3 days after I did.
So what did I get up to while there (other than smoke many cigarettes and curse airlines)?
Not a lot, time was short and weather was sh*te, I sampled Chile's tipple of choice, pisco, which is the most vile spirit around, think of the stuff that lurks at the back of a drinks cabinet and only gets brought out in very desperate times or when someone has lost a bet and its probably this stuff. Also some sort of national food which is like a thick stew and was made with fish, also wasted on my taste buds but hay at least I tried it.
Walked around town seeing the normal tourist stuff, if you are ever in the town, check out the pre Colombian museum, cool stuff and stories from the natives including 8 foot high very scary looking stone men.
Saw the city from high, and the layer of pollution that gets trapped due to the mountains, kind of takes something away from the mountainous back drop.
And on my final night in town I checked into a hotel, which had a private bathroom, TV and ohh such a nice double bed and ordered room service! After 6 weeks in dorm rooms and bunk beds it was heaven and I never wanted to leave.
But alas I had to, as the next day I was in yet another airport for my flight to New Zealand, which was made very comfortable by the nice bar staff in the 'American dinner' who wore little school girl outfits and actually had Jack Daniels , my 1st JD and Coke of SA was serviced as follows, can of coke with glass, glass of ice and then glass of JD, I am surprised I could walk to the aircraft. Am now enjoying the sweet sounds of my mother tongue full throttle again, including those lovely words that begin with F, S, and C.... God bless NZ!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Much madness in Mendoza

hola chicos + chicas

After much fun and games involving two buses, 5 hours waiting in snow and a 20 something hour bus ride I made it to Mendoza, this is solely because of a very nice Mexican that translated all that was going on got me on the right bus, we love him very much... even though we do not know his name.
You may wonder why I am here, well because I need to get across the boarder to Chile, problem with land boarders around these parts is they can close when it snows lots.... it snowed lots!
Mendoza, its another Ski town and also produces 70% of Argentinean wine so what fun things to do when stuck in this town? Skiing, wine tasting, yes you can, there are also many adventure type tours involving trekking, bike riding and the like.
But that would be a sensible thing to do, I ended up white water rafting in sub zero temperatures amongst the snowy mountains, it was soo cold that when the water hit my face it turned to ice on my eye lashes and yet it was such a giggle, our group was the only lot doing it and I`m not in the least bit surprised, if any of us would have ended up in the drink we wouldn't have lasted long ( see and you all were all worried that I`d get killed by street crime).
After messing about in the river and once feeling had returned to my hands and feet I then went over it.
Canopying for those like myself that didn't know is a wire rope suspended between two points (one being higher than the other) and someone hooking themselves to it by a waist harness and shooting across.
So I spent the afternoon climbing up the mountains, having snowball fights then canopying across valleys and rivers sometimes upside down, even having to be rescued by one of the guys after getting stuck on one of the slower runs, much fun was had.
After all the fun I then spent the next two days tyring to arrange any means possible of getting myself over to Chile, much thanks to Natasha who from the UK was able to do what I was not, pay for a flight to Santiago, after my flight being very delayed and my connection taking off before I had left the 1st airport, I was put on standby with another airline and thankfully after 12 hours at the airport I was on my way.... my backpack however ended up on my original flight and in BA and as I post this still has not been delivered :(
Importain lessons have been learnt, never leave photo disks in your backpack, when your flight is changed after you check in always make sure they hand you back your stuff (I did actually ask and believed them when they said they would arrange for the transfer - they were called many bad names after this) and nothing in South America goes to plan, the only people going ape sh*t about this kind of thing were the gringos, as one guy said when I had my 1st frustrating experience with no information on a delayed flight in Rio `Welcome to South America!`

You guys take care of yourselves especially considering all the trouble with terrorists.
Love to you all