Tuesday, 16 October 2012

That's all folks!

I can hardly believe I'm writing this from Sean's house, just like the first ever blog I did but here I am! It already feels like we never went away, or like we've just been on holiday for a week and not this mad trip all the way around the world!

So we got a lot done in the last five days of our trip, despite the fact that I was so excited to come home I couldn't really concentrate on much! The day after I last wrote was spent in Salem (I have never seen so many pumpkins in one place) and in Boston. Both places were really enjoyable, after so many interstates and theme parks it was really nice to see a bit of history and something a bit different. Salem was really beautiful and old fashioned and obviously had witchy stuff EVERYWHERE including a statue of Samantha from Bewitched. We saw the memorial to the people that were killed in the witch trials and it had fresh roses on it and the final words of the victims so it was really interesting. Driving between there and Boston was a bit of a nightmare but I used the time wisely and spent the 15 miles counting how many Dunkin Donuts we drove past - I got into double figures. It's true what they say, America runs on Dunkin.

Boston was really nice too, much more Italian then I realised it would be, and all the historical stuff was going on about somebody called Paul telling everybody that the British were coming, so I took that a bit personally. Other than that awkwardness it was a really nice place and we enjoyed strolling around the streets until it got too chilly and we retreated.

The next day was our last big drive between there and New York, and in honour of this fact it poured it down all day long. We did decide to treat ourselves to huge hot chocolates/coffees and were so pleased when we took them up to pay and we were told it was complimentary! Absolute highlight of the day! The drive into and through NY was as horrific as I thought it would be and we were very pleased to get to our motel at the end of it. We spent Thursday being massive tourists and trying to dash round all the things we wanted to see. Managed to see the Met (or some of it as it is huge!) as well as watching them film Gossip Girl for a while. We then went for a stroll in Central Park as it was a beautiful day, and had a trip on the Staten Island Ferry and gawped at the New York skyline and at the Statue of Liberty as well as making friends with a nice old couple. From there we went to see Ground Zero and despite normally having to apply online for a visitors permit it was quite empty so we managed to get in. It was surprisingly subtle considering the memorials we saw in Washington but it was really moving and also quite peaceful. We were near Chinatown and also dinnertime at this point so went to explore the dumplings. I mean area.

I will be honest now and say that although we did have one more day in New York it pretty much passed by in a complete daze because all I could think about was the fact that we were actually coming home! My tummy was so full of butterflies that I didn't eat or sleep from Thursday evening onwards and Saturday was hell because our first flight wasn't until 850pm and I couldn't wait. My only consolation was that once we were on the plane they had all the Lord of the Rings films on the little screens so I was able to watch that and doze a bit. Our second flight was slightly delayed and caused me no end of frustration when it looped round Heathrow FOUR TIMES before finally landing and bringing us home! Sean's entire family were there to meet us off the plane and it was so exciting to see them all and have lots of cuddles and kisses from all the kids. Just as exciting was the roast dinner waiting for us... I've never been so pleased to see broccoli after the delights of American cuisine!

It is really weird to be back, although a good kind of weird I think. Am really looking forward to getting round and seeing everyone and then I think I will really feel like I'm properly back home and back in the real world. It has been a really amazing trip and I'm so glad that we went and saw all these things that I never knew existed, but there is definitely no place like home, and no bed quite as nice as mine!

Thanks to everyone for reading my blog, I hope my obsession with toilets hasn't been too annoying for anyone!

Lots of love

Monday, 8 October 2012

Nearly the last one...

I have to confess... I thought it had been about 4 days since my last blog, and then this morning Sean informed me it has actually been well over a week! I have lost all concept of time I think.

So, we were in Florida last time and had driven 6500 miles. We have now achieved 8500 miles and in all that time you would think that we would have become accustomed to American driving. However, not a day goes past where we don't have a near death experience or at the very least have to use some pretty rude words (I never aim them at the people in case I get shot as you never know in this country).

Since Florida we have been working our way north, and one of our days driving was along the blue ridge parkway, which is apparently one of the most scenic and beautiful drives in the country. I say apparently because we didn't see any of it. After 2 solid months of sunshine the weather finally caught up with us and threw everything at us. We spent the whole route stuck in cloud so thick that we couldn't even see the trees at the side of the road. The only plus point was that it provided excellent cover for toilet breaks as it is pretty remote round there.

Our next big destination was Washington DC, which I was pretty excited about as I was looking forward to being a proper tourist, walking around taking pictures of everything and getting in everyone's way. I wasn't disappointed, and we had a great day looking at the White House (Obama wasn't at home, he was in Denver for the presidential debate) and I have to say it's a pretty nice house. We also saw the Washington monument, the Vietnam War Memorial, and my favourite which was the Lincoln Memorial. Size really does matter over here, and I'm not sure if they've heard the word subtlety but it was all very impressive anyway. We also went to the natural history museum, where we didn't learn anything at all. Wished we had gone to the gallery next door as it looked amazing but we had already run out of time. While we were in the area we also went to Annapolis, where we saw the state building and a hand-written draft of George Washington's resignation speech. Plus we saw the hugest bug I've ever seen. All in all a successful day trip!

From Washington we drove onwards to Ohio to a theme park (last one I promise!) This was my chance to understand what I had put Sean through at Disney as we were there for 13 hours and it was FLIPPING FREEZING. We had to run back to the car at one point to dig out our gloves and more layers as the park is right out on Lake Erie. To be fair the rides were brilliant but it was a long day!

Next day we went to Niagara Falls, which I was actually a bit disappointed with at first as it didn't look that big from where we were standing, but then we went on the 'Maid of the Mist' which is the boat trip which takes you right up to the falls and I had to change my mind after seeing them properly- they were amazing! Despite the woman who used the top of my head as a tripod to lean on while she took pictures.

I'll leave it at that for now, as I only have 5 days left of the entire trip and I'll need something to write in the final episodes!
Lots of love

Saturday, 29 September 2012

It's a small world after all

Hello strangers,

Well we are still in Florida so that means it's the longest amount of time we've spent in any state so far! And what a magical time it has been...  Firstly we stayed in tampa and visited busch gardens. It was a bit touch and go at times on the rollercoasters due to the lightning storm that kept threatening (and even appeared) a few times. Luckily our day wasn't ruined as the storm continued on its way and we continued to be hurled around on as many ridiculous rides as possible, although doing that straight after a pizza and pasta buffet may not have been the best idea... but we managed to keep it all down and there were no incidents.

After that we moved on to Orlando to spend 5 days immersing ourselves in Disney and Harry Potter (me) and more rollercoasters (sean). On the first day there we went to Downtown Disney and watched Finding Nemo in 3D which was very cool. The day after that we headed to Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I was in absolute heaven, I got to walk around Hogwarts and fly around with Harry and Ron and have a butterbeer. I was like a child running around trying to see everything all at once.

The next day we went to Magic Kingdom at Disney which. Is. huge! I was a bit gutted because they are currently building a MASSIVE new section which will have the little mermaids castle and the castle from beauty and the beast but it's not quite finished so I couldn't go in :-(  will just have to come back again very soon. The day was a bit stressful at times though as it was so busy - I was desperate for a bit of personal space by about midday! The next day we had to decide whether to go back to the magic Kingdom or try one of the other parks and we couldn't face another day of being jostled around so we decided to give Hollywood studios a go. We ended up having a really good day, and there were far fewer people body slamming us which is always pleasant. Hollywood studios was actually really good -  it was all still very Disney ish but themed on old movies so there was loads to do and see plus I met Mike and Sully! At the end of the day we went to see an AMAZING show where they somehow managed to play clips of films onto mist with fireworks and mickey mouse running around. So exciting!

I don't want to be boring so I won't spend ages waffling on about our return trip to Universal. I will say that I got a gryffindor top and pyjama bottoms and was a right geek all day long. And also a toilet flushed twice while I was on it. Blooming plumbing.

After all that excitement I was quite depressed about leaving Orlando, and I don't think it was helped by how absolutely knackered we were after walking around for 12 hours at a time, four days in a row! Yesterday we drove from miami to Florida Keys and basked in the ridiculous sun, it was like an oven! Nice to get the last bit of sun before returning to the beautiful weather in England! Of course sean turned a pretty shade of pink and matches my new Minnie mouse toy.

So, we have now driven 6 and a half thousand miles and have started to head back up north towards new york and home! We have one theme park left and about another 2000 miles, and then it will be back to reality with a bump, I can't wait for some baked beans and a proper cup of tea though!


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Kentucky fried morgan

Hello from Florida this time! I was going to blog on Monday but I discovered a Kentucky fried chicken buffet and after that I just had to go and die quietly in a corner. I've recovered now though and am ready to update you all with my latest adventures.

So last Monday was our first day at Yellowstone. I've done a lot of documentary watching on the subject so was ridiculously excited, and definitely not disappointed! It was amazing. We had been in the park all of 10 minutes before we saw our first bison (I still want one for transportation) and its nothing like being at the zoo because these are wild animals, there is no fence between you and them and its so scary, but good scary! Our hotel was a 100 year old multistory log cabin, complete with real bear and beaver skins on the wall and to get to our room you had to walk between a moose head and an elk head! I went to sleep that night with the thought in my head that if a bear fancied it he could be standing right outside our window! The next day was even more exciting as not only did we explore all the geothermal activity we could dream of (including seeing old faithful erupt) but we also saw a wild and dangerous... CHIPMUNK. Oh and did I mention the bear and coyote as well? WILD ones! I could have been eaten at any moment but I am a survival expert and so stayed safely in the car. Took lots of photographs though! We both agreed that a highlight of the trip was getting surrounded by a herd of bison on the road (they were about the same size as our car!) It was terrifying but such an adrenaline rush.

Unfortunately for me, toilet dramas seem to have found me again. It all started when I locked myself OUT of the bathroom at the hotel in Yellowstone. Which you wouldn't think would be annoying except that all my toiletries were IN the bathroom waiting for me to use them. All I did was pull the door closed behind me when I nipped back to the room for something, as I didn't want any dodgy characters nicking my neutrogena, apparently in America closing a door means you want to lock it! I rattled the door a few times, stared at it, said a rude word at it but nothing would work. Got halfway downstairs to reception while trying to wok out how not to make myself sound stupid when I remembered the room key in my pocket. Seemed like a long shot to use my room key on a public bathroom but I was desperate. Sure enough, open it popped and there was my shampoo. If only this was the end of my troubles. The next day we treated ourselves to a Chinese for dinner and were seated on the same table as an angry looking French family. Popped to the bathroom and before I knew what was happening the little french girl and her mum had opened the door and were staring at me with open mouths. So apparently not ALL the locks in America are as efficient as in the hotel. It would have been awkward enough but the door to the ladies was right next to the door to the kitchen. Poor waiters. Had to then listen to the girl laughing while I finished AND sit and eat my dinner at the same table as them.

After all that excitement we had a few days with a lot of driving to do. We had a brief stop at mount Rushmore which was impressive except for the multistory car park they've built right in front of it! Then our next real stop was Chicago. This was our first big eastern city and I though it had a lot more character than LA. I liked it, especially the angry traffic directors that stand in the middle of intersections with nothing but a whistle and scream at you! On Sunday we went to watch the Chicago Cubs play the Pittsburgh Pirates (baseball). Cue an angry man with a whistle telling you which bus to get on. The baseball was so much fun! On the way in we saw a bride and groom getting their wedding pics done - whatever floats your boat! We had a hotdog and pretended to sing along to 'God bless America' and 'star spangled banner' but we cheered for real when we scored a home run (sean actually lost concentration and cheered when the other team scored a home run but luckily no one heard). I did enjoy it, and definitely felt like we'd got our money's worth as the game lasted four hours and four minutes! Since then we have been heading south towards Florida. We have already driven well over 5000 miles in the 3 and a half weeks we've been in the USA so are pretty tired! Staying in Florida for a while though so hopefully will recover!

Hope everyone is getting excited for our return, I know I am!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Rocking out.

Hello everyone.

Well I did promise I would do these every week, I have even put a reminder in my diary so that I actually notice when a week has gone past!

After Vegas we headed to a place called flagstaff, via the Hoover dam which was really impressive. Saw lots of lightning and rain on the way in which was quite exciting as it had just been so unbelievably hot in Vegas and LA. Our room in flagstaff was... unique. There was a slight smell we couldn't quite put our fingers on (and probably didn't want to) and a man walking two huge Rottweilers up and down the car park the whole time we were there! We used flagstaff as a base to visit the grand canyon which again was very impressive. There is just so much SPACE in this country! We walked right along the edge of the canyon and even saw some elk. Sean was a bit annoyed that it wasn't sunny but it made the heat a lot more bearable to be honest!

The next day we set off again for a very long and very very scenic drive to monument valley (some of you may have seen the picture sean posted on facebook of the view from the road) which was exactly the scene you would picture if someone said American road trip! After that we drove to a place called four corners which is where four different states meet (Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado - check out my geography skills!) So you can stand in four states at once! Very cool. From there we went right into the middle of nowhere and stayed in a place called Monticello. This is near canyonlands which is another national park and which was really amazing. We went for a hike in here and the views from every direction were just ridiculous - I'm worried I will find England very boring to look at when I get back! I did think we were going to die at one point though as they only mark the 'trail' with little piles of stones here and there and there is no other sign you're where you are supposed to be. Fine except that some of the piles of stone had fallen over in the wind. So we obviously missed one or it wasn't there but either way we ended up roaming around in the desert for a while totally lost and quite worried. Eventually found the road except we were on the wrong side of a valley! We did make it back in one piece though. Just about. The next day we went to look at more rocks in Arches national park which was probably the most spectacular yet for me. Kept expecting to see road  runner being chased by Wiley coyote appearing round the corner! Another absolutely baking day.

We spent the night in the town that time forgot aka green river. When I tried to Google green river the only result it came up with was 'green river killer'. Yikes. Luckily we were only there one night, although after driving through the town (which took under 1.5 minutes I timed it) I found it hard to understand how 71 girls were murdered without anyone noticing. I don't think there were even that many people living there. From there we drove to Salt Lake City for a couple of days of much needed laziness. The mall here is the most beautiful mall I have ever seen...it has a retractable roof and streams with fish in them! I bought myself some treats for when we get back home so I don't look like such a scruffbag. Bargains all over the place! The good news is that because it is a big city there is actually a choice of food here, so we had Vietnamese food the first night and Chinese the second. Hello vegetables, even if you are fried at least I remember what you look like now! We climbed to the top of ensign peak and were rewarded with a brilliant view of the city and the salt flats and looked at the state capital building. More importantly though... I've been make up shopping! I am not going to wear any of it until I get back as I promised but its so cheap here! Just to make people jealous, when I got back I added up on the boots website how much my little collection would cost me in the uk... £94. I paid £49!!!!! I may need to visit America more often in the future!

On that note I best go as we have places to be!
Lots of love

Monday, 3 September 2012

The land of the buffet

Howdy! (Sorry I've been watching toy story 2!)

I am going to have to do these blogs a lot more often as we are literally doing stuff every single day. I will try to keep them interesting for everyone and not waffle on too much. Los Angeles was fab, although one thing that I just could not get over was the TRAFFIC. Every road we went on was about 5 lanes wide each way, and still absolutely packed with lone drivers in the hugest cars I have ever seen. Indicating is not too popular either but lane changing is so there were some hairy moments. On Monday we went to 6 flags magic mountain which is like Disneyland for sean. He was so excited,  he had a huge grin on his face all day. The rides were all HUGE and so so tall. Some of them were so intense that I actually lost my vision in places which was a bit disconcerting but overall it was really good.

The day after that we went to Hollywood boulevard and did all the proper touristy things like sticking our hands into famous peoples hand prints at the Chinese theatre which was really brilliant  except that it was so hot that the floor burnt if you actually touched it (which was proved again later when we saw a group of girls carrying their dog as he wouldn't walk on the pavement because of the heat. Or maybe he was embarrassed because he'd had his toenails painted bright pink - I'm not joking). We walked along and looked at the stars but it was difficult to stop and stare as there are lots of people going about their daily lives who keep walking even if you stop! After that we went up to Griffith's observatory where you can see alllllllll of LA. Its pretty flipping big I can tell you, and totally covered with a thick layer of smog even on a clear day which isn't that surprising. From there we also got a good view of the Hollywood sign which was very exciting!

The next day was super duper exciting as it was my first visit to Disneyland! I was squeaking as we went in and I did not know where to look first! It was AMAZING. I met all my favourites and made friends with them all, went on space mountain twice and nearly cried when they did the fireworks at the end. We were there 12 hours and I didn't want to go home but I was comforted by the fact that we are going again when we get to Florida. I cannot wait!

On Friday we drove through a ridiculous amount of desert (stopping at a diner which looked like something out of a horror movie where you shout 'get back in the car' but made the biggest hot dog I have ever seen in my life). We stayed our first night at the stratosphere and went up 900ft to get amazing views of Vegas. Driving up the strip was incredible, everything here is ENORMOUS. Hotels like Excalibur are made out of 30 story high castles and new York new York has an actual statue of liberty and a Brooklyn bridge stuck on the front. We walked along just staring for about 3 hours, plus watched the bellagio fountains which were amazing. Next day we tried a buffet. Oh my gosh. I thought we ate a lot but we're basically anorexic in this country. We saw one man with such a big plate that we thought he'd picked stuff up for his whole family, but no, it was his SIDE PLATE. After that we went to the aquarium the Mandalay bay hotel (where else would you put an aquarium). The size of these places is difficult to explain. Then, in the evening it was to the MGM grand to see Cirque du soleil. It was gorgeous, and so clever the way they make the scenery. Man flying around on a ribbon scared me though as he was wearing a very small pink thong which I just wasn't sure was necessary! Yesterday we went to Caesar's palace where I pined at the louboutin shop and we played the slots ($1 each and we didn't win). Saw a man just grab $1000 out his wallet and start betting. Wish I had that kind of money to throw away! We also went to the adventuredome, a theme park INSIDE a hotel. Was so tacky we loved it! Won some little baby shreks so I was chuffed. After THAT we went to the mirage to see Siegfried and Roy's secret garden. A dolphin pool and collection of white tigers and a white lion INSIDE THE HOTEL. See what I mean about this place being excessive?! Last night we went to the tournament of kings, where you get a 3 course meal while watching a medieval tournament complete with horses, jousting, dragons and indoor fireworks. I ate a whole chicken with my hands as you didn't have cutlery in those days. It was inside a hotel in case you were wondering, and sooo much fun. At first we felt a bit too British to be whooping and banging on the table etc but its infectious and before long we were the loudest ones there! Had so much fun!

Well that's about where we're up to. Sorry if its been a bit long but I havent even told you all of it!

Lots of love, less than 6 weeks left!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Bula bula from Fiji!

Yo yo yo! Its been a whole nother country since I last blogged but here I am in the city of angels! However, this episode is mostly concerned with the delights of Fiji. The flight there was pretty grotty, very hot and busy as it was one of those double decker planes (we were downstairs with the riff raff though) and the little screens that I love so much didn't even work. Needless to say after that I wasn't looking forward to the 10 hour flight to LA.

Anyway we arrived at our resort with no problems after feeling like we had returned to Asia in the heat and with the questionable driving methods. Thought I saw a dark shape dart into the bushes as we walked down for dinner but put it down to being tired. Restaurant was okay, nice food and good service, although we did have to get used to what we now know as 'island time'. We often played a game of timing how long it took to get a menu, then how long until our order was taken etc. The record was an overall time of nearly 2 hours to get lunch. It may not sound fun but it kept us entertained. On Monday it was my birthday, but as we had said we'd have a nice chilled out time it was a lazy day with a cocktail or two. It was a lovely day but it made me miss home as I'm used to seeing everyone on my birthday! We had decided to stay in one place rather than island hopping as the whole point of our visit to Fiji was to be beach bums and do nothing at all to prepare for our hectic trip across America.

Anyway, the whole trip was lovely and lazy except for a few stressful times... remember that dark shape I'd seen on the first night?! Turns out that when night comes and the sprinklers switch on, our resort is also a well known meeting place for the island frog Mafia. Im not sure if its public knowledge but I really really do not like frogs, and every night there would be about 3 just sitting waiting for us between the pathway and our front door. They definitely planned it, and it all culminated when there was one so fat and stubborn that no matter what we tried it would not move. Sean ended up throwing a pebble at its head which echoed with a surprisingly loud clunk and then the frog finally got the hint and hopped off to its lair.

The only other dramatic thing of note that occurred over the last week was a really weird confrontation, which baffled me for a long time after. We had been sitting by the pool all morning and popped for lunch, leaving our bits and bobs on our loungers (as you do).  When we walked back over to our beds less than an hour later, we were pretty surprised to see a middle aged Russian man and a very young pretty Thai girl sitting on them. Just to clarify, there were only about 4 other people anywhere else in sight and about 20 free beds. The girl had moved Sean's stuff to an alternative bed, but the man had just made himself right at home on my towel! We went over and I told him it was my stuff to which he replied 'yes?' and stared at me like I was a moron. Sean got the same response from the girl and meanwhile the bloke was having a nice lie down on my towel - gross! But he would not move, so in the end I had to try and get my towel out from underneath the quite substantial man! It must have looked ridiculous, me basically wrestling with him to get my towel when every other bed around was free. In the end my superior muscle won, which rewarded me with a very dirty look. What baffled me was firstly why sit there out of all the available beds, secondly WHY would a well off man want my ratty towel which has been round the world with me?!!! Its a mystery that I will never understand I think.

Anyway, other than these distressing events, Fiji was beautiful and very relaxing just as we'd hoped. We left on Sunday evening and had a 10 hour flight and landed...on Sunday afternoon. Very confusing as I am now behind England instead of in front as I have been. So far USA seems fab, everywhere you look there are food outlets, and I mean EVERYWHERE. our hire car is very swish after Ron the Mitsubishi and we went to our first mall today where the clothes were soooo cheap. Managed to resist but have got big plans for our last few days in New York!

Anyway its bed time for me, its been Sunday for 43 hours for me and there is lots to do tomorrow! More on that next time....

See you all in seven weeks!

Friday, 17 August 2012

So long and thanks for all the fish.

I haven't got much to report since my last update, but am blogging anyway because the day has finally come... we have spent our last day in New Zealand. It seems suitable to write from this amazing country one last time before I get tangled up in all the new adventures that are waiting for me!

Since last writing we have had a massive bit of luck and been able to sell our beloved Mitsubishi, Ronald. We sold him for the exact same price we bought him for 4 months ago, and have only spent a bit on some new tyres so we were made up when we basically got our money back! Have already booked a show in Vegas to celebrate and treat ourselves. The other highlight (aside from a few bikini sales) was our visit to cathedral cove, which is the most beautiful beach I've ever seen and also happens to be where they chose to film Narnia (anyone spotting a theme with my choices of tourist attraction?). So this week I have been to the Shire AND Narnia, my life is literally complete.

Was on Skype the other day in the hostel to alic and ant. Just a normal Thursday 8am, we were laughing and chatting away when very suddenly there was an enormous pink fish held up between me and my webcam and all I could hear was laughter... Grant, one of the permanent residents had been given some freshly caught snapper and was keen to show me. He has a heart of gold but not the most ideal timing skills and was apparently so chuffed that he just couldn't wait until I was off the PC. I think alic and ant assumed I knew what was going on so went along with it, until grant left and I assured them I was as baffled as them about the origins of the fish and the reason it had made it onto Skype. The entire scenario was then repeated when he had filleted the fish and came back. Then wandered off leaving me with the fish on my keyboard! I did go traveling for new experiences and this was definitely one of them.

We got to Auckland this afternoon and had a little stroll around and stuffed ourselves with Asian food while we can get it. Now we are sitting in our room wishing time would hurry up as we are so excited for the next chapter. New Zealand has definitely been the most stunning country so far, and has come to feel like home. I think I might be a bit of a country bumpkin when I get home, I actually saw a cow being born today!! I'm sure a few trips to Oxford street will sort me right out though.

So there you have it, my time as a hobbit is officially at an end. I am pretty sad but have promised myself I will be back, plus its hard to feel too sorry for myself when we will be jetting off to Fiji tomorrow!

I will leave you with that envy causing thought, and who knows where I'll be next time I write. One thing is for sure though I will be officially on my way home!


Saturday, 11 August 2012

Hobbits at last!

Well, this is going to be an embarrassingly long blog as its been about 7 years since I did the last one, a fact I only realised yesterday. So where was I ... oh yes Milford Sound had been amazing and the west coast was just waiting to be discovered. First stop was the Fox Glacier. Like the mints. Now I am experienced in glaciers, having already seen a grand total of 1, but this was pretty impressive nonetheless. You could pay hundreds of dollars to be led there by a guide or just walk there for yourselves so we did that! Even better, we discovered a secret trail that led to a lookout which overlooked the entire valley an glacier. It was a bit more impressive from up there anyway, and like nothing I've ever seen before.

From there we went to see the next glacier, Franz Josef. Not sure what kind of mint that one was named after, but it was equally impressive. There was a sign to show how far it has receded in the last hundred years, and the difference was huge. Luckily we discovered 'glacier pasties which helped us get over the shock. Weather was beautiful and we ended up playing scrabble and drinking beer in the sun. Was going brilliantly until I discovered that the sandfly population had set up a drive thru on my feet.  Bad times. And about to get worse...

Had 2 more stops on the south island which were both lovely towns but less than impressive fellow hostel guests. In the first we met a 60 year old from Preston who told us where we could 'score some weed and used f and c words all over the place. In the second we seemed to have stumbled into a Mafia sort of set up and were not welcomed because we were not German or Chinese (that may be a guess..). Either way, I will say this for the south island, they have public toilets EVERYWHERE. Was suitably( impressed due to being the owner of the smallest bladder in the world.

We returned to Wellington last Monday and I was reunited briefly with my favourites from inland revenue. Was weird to be back in Welly and staying in a hostel! We stayed long enough for Ron to (somehow) pass the equivalent of an MOT and then were on our way to see what had north island had in store for us. First stop was Ohakune and a lodge called the hobbit. You can't imagine how happy I was about the hot tub until you have gone 6 months without a bath! (I have been showering just to clarify...) then we went exploring mount ruapehu (aka Mordor). Didn't find any orcs, just lots of rich people skiing. Our first sight of snow though and it was pretty impressive. Not sure if its been in the news back home but mount tongariro which has been dormant for over a century erupted the day we got to... tongariro national park. Talk about timing! Didn't see anything though not sure whether that's a good or bad thing. We also stayed in lake Taupo and saw yet more new sights, just when I thought NZ was running out of ideas. Saw some amazing bright blue rapids at Huka falls and discovered an alarming amount of geothermal activity including steam pouring out of craters in the ground and mud bubbling and hissing at us. I felt like we were in Jurassic park! Less dinosaurs mind you. Cost us about £3 to get in and well worth it! Especially when we got to Rotorua (smells like eggs) and it cost about £40 to get into a similar attraction. We are cunning little people though so we walked to the top of the redwood forest right behind the attraction and watched the geyser for free! Muahahaha.

Only one more thing to tell you about then I promise I'll stop...yesterday I finally made it to HOBBITON!!! It was every bit as good as I hoped, someone had even left the door open for me at bag end. I had to be dragged away as everytime you look you just see more and more detail. It was like all the hobbits were out for the day and would be back later. Very glad I didn't come a few years ago before they had rebuilt it all for the hobbit. My life ambition to go to the shire is now complete.

We are now in Whitianga with only a week left in NZ. Just watching the diving and planning to get up early to watch the spice girls do the closing ceremony tomorrow morning. Will try not to leave it so long until I write again, and Janine... I have no idea how to change the font on this thing I'm sorry!

With lots of love from the sunny east coast, plus lots of national pride at the moment.


Monday, 30 July 2012

Morgs the brave.

Look how good I am! Only a week since my last blog! I spoil you people.

On Monday we arrived in Arrowtown, a 20 minute drive from Queenstown. We had arranged to stay with a couple called Alf and Louise who put us up and fed us for a week in return for us doing some work for them. They were LOVELY. fed us a ridiculous amount and kept telling us we had done too much work and should finish for the day and make the most of our holiday! We worked on their vines for them for the majority of the week, roses the rest, so I am now adept at pruning - that's going on my CV. Arrowtown is an old gold mining village so we went an explored that one afternoon, and Alf and Louise's house overlooked Lake Hayes so we walked all round that a few times in the gorgeous sunshine. On Thursday we treated ourselves to a little adventure and went horse riding in a place called paradise (did I mention they filmed several lord of the rings scenes there? And a little film called the hobbit? Purely a coincidence of course.) It was a very new experience for both of us but luckily my horse, Monty knew much more about it than I did so I left him to it. I did have to get my stirrups shortened as small as they will go though, but at least I got ON.

Continuing with the theme of new experiences we tried something else new on Friday morning and jumped out of an aeroplane. Did not tell parents until after, although did spend the night before writing my will. I joke. Wasn't actually scared, but I think this is more due to it not sinking in until I was in a harness strapped to a 6 foot Dutch man hanging out the side of the plane. Was COLD. Moving at 200 kmph made my podgy little cheeks very chilly, and I could feel them flapping around with the force. Not sure if the video will be going public as its not my best look. Felt quite ill for the rest of the day, that's intense motion sickness! Views by themselves were worth it though... mountains EVERYWHERE.

We left Arrowtown on Sunday and drove to Milford Sound. Its another very remote location, there is only one tunnel as the sole way to get in. Very beautiful though. Checked in and I did what I do best: napped. Man in our dorm told me I wouldn't sleep that night. Fell asleep at 10 woke up at 830 next morning. That showed him. Went on a boat trip through the Sound and picked up a bottle nosed dolphin tag along, which swam alongside us for a good 15 minutes (and another several thousand pictures). So beautiful. This place is the furthest south we will be, in terms of distance when we leave here we will effectively be on our way home! Its been more than 6 months since we left, but I'm sure you all know that and are counting the days until I get back. Well some of you anyway I hope!

Let me know if anyone wins any medals, I'll be finding glaciers on the west coast!


PS I think I've managed to attach a pic of my daring feat for those who dont have Facebook!

Monday, 23 July 2012


I dont know why this always happens, but every time I write a blog, something really exciting happens the day AFTER so I end up having to write it down so I dont forget! The day after I wrote my last blog, we experienced our first ever earthquake! About 10 in the evening I was just telling sean something riveting that had happened at work when I heard a funny crunching noise. Thought it was the neighbors moving furniture around again so carried on with my story until sean eventually grabbed my arm and shouted 'morgan there's an EARTHQUAKE '. That's when I realised... it was an earthquake. Felt like we were on some kind of conveyor belt rolling up and down, but then the walls started to bend and then it was pretty frightening. Watched the news straight away and they said it was 6.3 so obviously got straight on Facebook to tell everyone. So annoyed when they changed it to 7 and I'd already done my status. It was definitely not an experience I'd like to repeat any time soon!

We both finished work on 6th July and I was much sadder to leave than I expected. Who would have thought I'd have so much fun working at inland revenue! Spent the weekend packing, organising and watching harry potter films, and finally our last day in Welly arrived. Sean sold his guitar and we got the deposit back on our flat and then we were off on the ferry, two unemployed hippies again.
First stop on our adventures was kaikoura, a place well known for whalewatching. We didn't get off the ferry until dark so the journey there was a bit dull! When morning came though we could see that its a really gorgeous place, with big mountains going right down to the sea. The morning was spent out at sea, where we managed to see 4 sperm whales and get surrounded by about 200 dolphins which was one of the highlights of the trip so far. Next time I get near a PC you'll all be in for a treat when I upload the 7000 pictures I took of what basically looks like a rock in the sea.
That night was full of drama as a middle aged European woman checked into our lovely quiet little hostel and started screaming at everyone from 8pm onwards that she was trying to sleep. Just to illustrate, it was so quiet that she heard me drop my book on the floor at 850 and she screeched through the wall that I had woken her up. She then woke everyone at 7am the next morning yelling and THEN walked into our private room and woke him up to ask if we would take her to Christchurch with us. Sean told her to ask me. Computer says no.

Next stop on our whirlwind tour was Christchurch, via Hanmer Springs which is famous for its thermal pools. To be nice we gave two backpackers a lift there for free. It was lovely, bloody freezing running between hot pools out doors in a snowy mountain village, but gorgeous when you were in (minus the slight distraction of the strange man asking bikini clad girls to pull his finger...no not sean). Then onwards to chch.

Bit of background info at this point: about 2 years ago there was a massive earthquake that destroyed a lot of chch. We thought that maybe there would be the odd building that they hadn't quite got round to fixing yet, so nothing prepared us for the shock of driving into the centre of this city and finding it deserted. Big wire fences stop you walking into areas that are unsafe, but this is actually a massive area. Sides or fronts of buildings are just gone with broken glass still in the windows. Small businesses like family restaurants still have the open sign on the door and furniture laid out for business, and it makes you realise how much people lost. Its like that scene in 28 days later.

The next place we visited was called mount Potts lodge, a sheep station in literally the middle of nowhere. Why? Well they filmed edoras (two towers) there so obviously I had to go! So remote that they've got no phone signal or anything so I embraced being a country bumpkin for a week. We painted lots of buildings, bottle fed baby goats (sean managed to get covered in goat poo during this venture while I remained immaculate) and I looked after a lovely little boy called Archie who has informed me that sean is my dad and Archie is in fact my boyfriend. Sean didn't seem too fussed about this. Managed to sneak onto a tour of mount Sunday for free (everyone else there paid $240) and sniggered at all the geeks while correcting the tour guides lord of the rings knowledge. I dont think we were very popular as a result, the only person who spoke to me started a conversation about artificial insemination in cows. All in all was a brilliant week, although I think I can now confirm that I would not make a good farmers wife and that I am not ready for children!
Left the station in Sunday and headed to Twizel, via a fair few breathtaking lakes, mountains and eventually a glacier. For now I will leave this blog here, I would hate to run out of things to say in the next instalment!

Hope its stopped raining, weather here is fab!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Say goodbye to Wellywood

Well, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see the day but this will be my final blog from the wondrous city of Wellington. The ferry leaves at 230pm Tuesday 10th, and we will be on it ready for some new adventures on the South island! Since I last blogged I have achieved lots, mostly working my way through the library including the entire Harry Potter series. Happy days. We have also been out and about and exploring what there is left – not loads as it turns out! The good thing about Wellington is that even when you run out of sights that you would see as a tourist, you can still just drive for half an hour and get to somewhere amazing and just wander around to your hearts content. The one thing I don’t understand, is that there is so much space in this country but absolutely none in our flat. One of the great mysteries of life that I will never know the answer to. In other big news, nobody was more surprised than me when I ended up at a senior technical tax conference last week. What was worse, was that I actually understood what they were saying! Although most of it was still a blur – phew. Anyway I actually had a brilliant time, for another reason… firstly there was the tea break in the morning. I thought I’d grab a quick tea… but just as I reached for a cup my eye was caught by a huge plate of freshly made scones. And a bowl full of jam. And an even bigger bowl of cream. The poor cup of tea was left abandoned as I got stuck in. Then I had a little break, and it seemed to me the perfect time to polish off my packed lunch, which I did. THEN someone came and got me and told me it was lunch time… and lunch was provided. Upstairs I went obediently, and saw the most food I think I have ever seen in my life. I did what I had to do, told my belly to pretend it wasn’t full of scones and sandwiches, and got involved with the buffet. There were a few funny looks when I came back with a plate full of pasta bake, roast potatoes, 8 different bits of sushi, seafood salad and a Caesar salad, but in my defence I didn’t get any of the veal. I’m a poor backpacker I need to fill up where I can! Did have to take my belt off on the way into the afternoon presentations though… anyway I have decided that I really do enjoy conferences and that I must attend more. We have been doing loads of planning and booking stuff for America, so we have got the itinerary pretty set in stone (allowing plenty of time for Disney World and Universal Studios – don’t worry). We’re both getting pretty excited about that, and have to keep reminding ourselves that we have a little holiday in Fiji before that. Nina told me the other day that she has seen Elijah Wood in Wellington ‘loads of times’ but so far I have seen no evidence of him, which is a bit much I think. There are six days left for him to find me and ask me to live in the shire. That’s pretty much all my juicy gossip, so I will leave you now with this tragic tale of something that happened to me last night. There I was being a domestic goddess and cooking a culinary masterpiece involving quite a lot of cayenne pepper. Forgetting that I had used my hands I adjusted my nose stud, and about 2 seconds later felt a horrific burning sensation. Yes, I got cayenne pepper stuck in my nose piercing. My nose hasn’t felt that horrible since I got a bit of snickers stuck up it. Half an hour later, I couldn’t take anymore and started rinsing my nose out. It was not an experience to be repeated. Dinner was nice though. Lots of love, and not too much cayenne pepper xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thursday, 31 May 2012

life on the other side

Well, this one is definitely even later than the last one! It just seems silly to write a blog once a week when we are staying put and going to work and coming home again, it would be so boring for you all to read! An annoying thing happened, something brilliant, wonderful, exciting and amazing happened the DAY AFTER I wrote my last blog – so I have been saving it for this one, although anyone who has me on facebook, twitter, or in my phonebook will already know about it… We had decided to go and visit a place called Cape Palliser, which is a very remote spot that you have to drive over mountains and all sorts to get to, but it is well known for being an absolutely beautiful place and further research showed that there was a huge seal colony living there, and a Lord of the Rings location called the Pinnacles just happened to be en route. The day arrived, or at least we think it did – it was hard to tell through the hammering rain and we debated whether or not to bother, but decided that as we are English, we would not let the weather stop us so off we set! After a small stop involving a daredevil hare playing chicken with the car, and a toilet break involving a field of shocked cows, we made it to the Pinnacles. It was still chucking it down, but never mind, off we went and missed the path completely and walked up the river (yes, the wet stuff). Walked past two fellow hikers and looked up to smile at them, and I froze and my jaw absolutely dropped, walking past us was Andy flipping Serkis!!!! (For those not as much of a nerd as I am, that’s Gollum, and the second director of The Hobbit!!) Sean started chatting to him straight away while I stood and stared and hyperventilated – it was not cool on my part, and I couldn’t care less, it’s taken me ten years but I finally met someone from the films!!! The rest of the day was brilliant as well, big fat seals and stunning views as far as we could see. Hmm, what other exciting things have been happening… the weather here is turning horrible day by day as winter sets in, which seems very unfair as I keep seeing people’s pics of them at the beach etc. it’s hard to believe its June tomorrow when I can see snow topped mountains out of my office window. Although I can’t be too jealous, because let’s face it, I bet none of you can see mountains, snow topped or otherwise! This weekend just gone I surprised Sean and took him to see a game of rugby. All Blacks aren’t playing here until August so we’ll miss them, but it was a pretty good game with some of their players in it anyway! The score was ridiculous, 66-24 to the home side, plus one person broke their sternum and another got stretchered off unconscious – I will never understand what possesses people to play rugby but it is definitely fun to watch! Other than that, the only news is that we have finally got the remainder of our flights sorted so now know all our dates and when we will be back in England (October 14th, put it in your diaries). It’s weird to think of the end of the trip, but knowing when the end is means that we both appreciate the time we have left and have been plotting and planning how best to use it – we are both getting pretty excited about the South Island now, and also about America! We have decided to go whale watching when we get to the South Island, which I absolutely cannot wait for! Apparently you get to see ‘real whales’ (sperm whales) and not just orca, which you can see any day in the harbour outside my office (note to self, no swimming anywhere in New Zealand… EVER!). That’s about all the news I have at the moment… but all your news is welcome as are your emails so keep in touch please!! Lots of love and woolly hats xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Friday, 11 May 2012

Ducks, but no elves...

Hi strangers! Just about to go to bed but thought I could probably squeeze in a little blog as need to put in some updates on our kiwi life! So I had finally left the horrible bar, as it has officially become known in our house. Horrible because of everything previously reported, but even more horrible because they tried to get away without paying me for the two weeks work I did! I finally got the money on Wednesday this week, only a month late. After quitting there, I decided to only look for day jobs... and spend a lot more time in the library as I no longer need to be nocturnal (anyone who knows how much sleep I need should know that was never going to happen). I bought some wool and needles and have got about a quarter of a scarf, and have also been doing lots of drawing, painting and oil pastelling with the help of a talented long distance tutor in the form of my big sis. The internet is an amazing thing. At the weekend we went to Rivendell and had a picnic. The signposts say kaitoke national park, but I know it really is rivendell. Had a close encounter with a horde of ducks, but the elves must have been hiding as we only saw an old man with a fetching hat lurking in the area. I had my first drive in Ron, our Mitsubishi, on the way home, and decided that driving an automatic is like driving a go kart. I think me and Ron will get on fine, but Cyril will always be my first and only love when it comes to cars. In other news, I started a new job two days ago! I'm working for the inland revenue for a month and already love it. The people are so friendly and helpful, and the girl I sit next to has a passion for backstreet boys and britney spears. Think we are soulmates. The most exciting thing is the offices. They take up 13 floors and every floor has two kitchens, complete with panini grills etc and its all brand new and gorgeous and over looks the whole of Wellington harbour. One floor is dedicated to a cafe, library and massive seating area just to sit and have lunch in, and on every floor there are numerous comfy lounge bits in case you want a change of scenery from your desk. As if I wasn't loving it enough, today I got shown where the stationary section is (two on each floor and a massive one downstairs in case you're interested). I may have mellowed on this trip but I will always love stationary! So far have managed not to do anything too embarrassing, although when my boss mentioned that I'd worked in boots (he used to live in London and has fond memories) I did tell him it was the thing I missed most after family, but I think he understood as New Zealand just does not have an equivalent! Oh and Sean recently found out they don't have central heating over here either! Wierd country. I think that's all I have to say, not been so much a news blog as a rambling train of thought mostly about a random building most of you will probably never see, have tried to take pics of the kitchens but don't want to look like a wierdo taking pictures by myself of other people having lunch! Any way, hope everyone at home is ok and got all the stationary they need, I know I have! With love and highlighters xxxxxxxxxxx

Friday, 27 April 2012

Bodger and Badger

Whoops! I blinked and another 3 weeks has gone by... so much for blogging every week. The trouble is now we have slowed down a bit there is a lot less to report back on... I haven't fallen down any toilets, been accosted by any foreigners or locked myself in any where, its all been very average. So let's see, last time I wrote we were on the hunt for a house and job and had just arrived in Wellington. A fair bit has happened since then I suppose, we switched hostels and made our first friend since leaving England - a girl from New York called keynisha, who is very straight talking and funny so we get on pretty well, she calls us the brits and I tell her when she's being too loud and have taught her how to queue properly ready for when she goes to London in the summer. We stayed in the new hostel just long enough to meet the smelliest man in the world, and then thankfully we signed for our lovely little (emphasis on the little) studio flat. I got a job in a fancy bar where I promptly began to get in trouble for doing terrible things like put the straws on the wrong side of the glass. I was given a 14 page drinks menu and told to memorize it by the next shift... I'm guessing you all know that I did not do this. It has come in useful to use as a tray when I'm eating though. It also turns out that people struggle to understand my accent even more in a noisy bar, I spent a good 5 minutes trying to say badger to a customer, while he repeated back 'mad dog' and looked baffled. Had to resort to saying baaahdger before he understood. (just so this story makes sense, there was a stuffed badger in the bar - don't even ask) 3 shifts in I had an epiphany... I didn't actually want to waste my year off working somewhere that I absolutely hated. And more importantly we are not as poor as I thought! I walked straight into the bar and quit, definitely getting a lot more spontaneous, I've never done anything like that before! Any doubts I had about my decision where wiped away when two of the managers spent a shift trying to guess my bra size. Definitely not the place for me! Sean has got work in a Telesales sort of place, it sounds like one of the least organised places in the country but he has been put in charge of spreadsheets so seems fairly content with that! It's good money as well which is always nice. Not sure what my next step will be. Not a bar though, I know that much! Maybe some sort of hermit that lives in the library? That's kind of it on the news front (i told you it wasn't going to be exciting!) We are just pottering along as always, Sean laid back as usual and me waiting to be asked to star in the hobbit at any moment. Fingers crossed everybody please! Lots of kisses to everyone! Xxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The search for hobbits begins...

Sorry its been a while everyone... time seems to keep sneaking past me out here and I didn't realise it had been so long! Lets see, last time I wrote I was hoping to find some lovely Australian wildlife to boast about. Well, karma got me for that one as I got bitten on the foot that very day and proceeded to swell up and pus up like a beauty! Consulted some of the natives and they seemed to think it was a spider bite, and I agree that that is cool enough so I have decided it definitely was a spider! Plus, when it had deflated a little I am pretty sure I could see fang marks in there. Other than that the rest of Melbourne was very lovely and pretty uneventful. We went to the Museum and I got let in for free as the man thought I was under 16 - Sean and his friend Tynan thought it was absolutely hilarious until I said that he must have thought they were a gay couple and I was their adopted daughter. That shut them up! The only other bits to report were that me and Sean have been introduced to the delights of Chinese dumplings (I believe we ate over 50 of them between 3 of us) and that I went back and got another ceasar pizza. Okay two. Our next stop was Ayers Rock, our christmas present from my lovely Pops. Now this my sound pretty stupid but the one thing I could think as we flew over the outback was... its HUGE! And very very empty, except for one or two big red rocks that is. Our hotel was lovely, and even had a bath in it, so I made sure I had three baths over the two days we were there, just to make the most of such a rare treat. The rock itself is just mind blowing. We walked most of the way around it and there are bits of information about what certain sections are used for in terms of the rituals and traditions which was pretty interesting for us anthropology geeks. There are a lot of rumours about not being able to climb it but you can. The Aboriginal people that own the land don't say don't climb it, as long as you don't think that the purpose is to climb it and ignore the views, sounds and experiences than you can. We climbed about a third of the way up and then sat taking in the surroundings for a while, definitely a once in a life time experience. Following on from there we went to Sydney to stay with Sean's friend Rich from Uni, and his girlfriend and friend. Had to get the ferry to the part of Sydney where they live, little did we realise that the ferry leaves from between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House! More free views and pinch yourself moments. We must have taken that ferry at least 10 times while we stayed there and I don't think there was a single trip where we didn't take a picture. On our first day we went to Palm Beach where they make Home and Away. I don't watch it but took some pictures to make Jenny jealous! Over the next few days explored the sights of Sydney - aquarium and Sydney Tower on Monday and Oceanworld and Wildlife Centre on Tuesday. Oh and Chinatown for lunch on both days- seems we are not ready to leave noodles behind! Met some lovely cuddly koalas and fell in love with a big fat wombat. Sean said it wouldn't fit in my bag though so didn't steal it. Next time. Decided to take a little trip to the Blue Mountains while we were so close, so on Wednesday last week took the train up to Katoomba to see some sights. Saw some. A coffee shop called Morgan's and a shop called Woodys. Oh and a mouse infestation in the hostel. Went walking the next day to Echo Point, a lookout and took in some pretty impressive views, and then wound our way down into the valley to Katoomba Falls. Got caught in a slight down pour en route but didn't mind too much as it meant we could shelter in a cave and eat our sandwiches - every cloud! On the way home saw some wild kookaburras chilling out (and yes I only recognised them because I had been to the wildlife centre two days before), which was quite exciting! On Friday we spent the morning travelling back to Sydney, and the afternoon making the most of our last dregs of Aussie sunshine on the beach - Sean went snorkelling and then exhausted himself on the boogie board while I exhausted myself watching him and worrying that he was going to be swept out to sea - may have been watching too much Australian news. Saturday finally arrived and so did the day I finally (after 10 years of waiting) made it to New Zealand! Our flight wasn't quite as smooth as planned as there was a school rugby team on there, and not one of them, including the teachers, had sat in the right seat. Chaos ensued when they were told they SHOULD be in the allocated seat and after a good 15 minutes a few of them swapped seats and then the teacher got told off by the hostess as he was using his phone. We watched and were smug that we had done the British thing and sat in the allocated seats. Aside from that the journey went ok, and before we knew it we appeared to be flying over the Yorkshire Dales. Checked in to our hostel in Auckland and went out for a Chinese (I think we might be addicted...). Our first day on the other side of the world we decided to go to Auckland Museum and get some culture and knowledge. Who did we see outside when we got there? Some MORRIS DANCERS. Was ashamed to hear a boy say 'oh look, England Dancers' so went in and hid in the museum until they had gone. Museum was really good, surprised myself by remembering a lot of my Pacific Societies Module but we were both a bit upset that the Volcano simulator wasn't working :( Then went for a lovely stroll around the park land and along to the harbour where we discovered that Sean's bank card has stopped working. Chinese Curry for dinner! Next day decided to be even more cultureful and go to the Art Gallery. Really enjoyed it, although still not convinced by a lot of this 'modern art'. Luckily there were discreet little signs that explained what the video of a man screaming meant, and what the piece of sofa with a plug hole in it meant, so that a philistine like me could at least nod and pretend that I 'got' it. Some of the other bits were great though! On Tuesday we got the coach to what will hopefully be our home for the next few months (and yes it also happens to be home to the filming of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit - what a lucky coincidence!) Wellington! Coach journey was long, about 12 hours overally, but made better by the jolly driver who in his welcoming speech forgot where we were going ("oh balls") and then when people were late back from lunch made a speech into his microphone about how selfish they were, that they had made everyone else late, and if any of the on time people wanted to have words with these naughty people he would be only too happy to point them out for us. We loved him! Coach was a double decker and we got prime seats on the top at the front - first few hours was like being on a bus through the Shire and in the afternoon we went past Lake Taupo which is VAST and then drove over the Volcanic Plateau - best coach journey ever without a doubt! Although am pretty sure an elderly german lady was stalking me throughout. At the first toilet stop she wanted to know if we were leaving so she could have our seats, fair enough. At the lunch stop, I came out the toilet cubicle, guess who was there. We sat on a wall to eat our lunch, guess who came and sat next to us. I got a hot chocolate from the machine, guess who was waiting behind me to use it. I wouldn't mind but she looked at me like she wanted to kill me throughout these little meetings. Got to Wellington after dark, my joy was hampered by desperation for a wee - I was a fool not to go when we stopped at 430 and he warned us it was the last stop. Misplaced faith in my bladder. First two days have been a bit of a muddle as we try and work out what we are doing - managed to get NZ sim cards sorted yesterday and do some serious house hunting, and think we may have found somewhere nice, got to go and confirm on Weds though so don't want to jinx it! Will be pretty scary as we have to sign a contract for three months and pay upfront, so as soon as we do that the pressure will really be on to find work :( already applied for a bits though, but everything will shut down over Easter so will be put on hold a bit! Now if you don't mind I need to go out and look for hobbits. I know there must be some around here somewhere! Lots of love, and missing everyone lots. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, 19 March 2012

the return of the toilet traumas...

Well the run of luck in going to the toilet without any dramas has ended, so I have lots of toilet related news in this edition. I wouldn't put these stories in, but every body seems to find my woes amusing! Let's start at the beginning though... after I wrote my last blog we got our first McDonald's. I only put this in because I feel it is important to tell everyone that in Malaysia you can get TRIPLE cheeseburgers. England needs to get involved! Anyway, we left KL on Monday morning bright and early. Bus was the nicest yet, but unfortunately there was a man on there determined to cough up every possible bit of phlegm on the way so headphones went in quite quickly. Tea was served, a nice touch but a bit of a health hazard on a coach bombing it down the motorway! Singapore is expensive. We had to resort to dorms for the first time on our trip, scary times! As it was our last stop in Asia we counted up all our pennies and realised that we had come in well under budget, so treated ourselves to a few nice days out! Singapore is literally mall after mall, if I was there on holiday I think Sean may have gone a little crazy, but as it was I didn't have any money to be spending (not that I let that completely stop me mind you...) On Tuesday we went to universal studios. I was pretty excited, squeaked a few times and only pushed a couple of small children out the way to get to the front of the queue. I've never been to such a magical place! There was a far far away land where shrek (my new bff) lived. Got about a zillion pictures and Sean went on all the rollercoasters, but wouldn't come on the Madagascar themed merry go round with me! The rollercoasters were brilliant and we never had to queue more than 5 minutes! My favourite was shrek 4d, a film in 3d but then it bumps your chair along, blows air on the back of your neck when the ghost appears and squirts you with water when donkey sneezed... gross but brilliant! It was around this time when the toilet visits started to go a bit wrong... maybe I deserved it because I insisted on visiting the bathroom in every different themed area, I don't know. The first incident occurred when I apparently failed to lock the door (not my fault, the lock was covered in hieroglyphics, ancient Egypt theme). As someone tried to get into my cubicle, I jumped up to stop the door, and off went the automatic flush. I wouldn't mind so much but in the fairytale teamed toilets the automatic flush didn't even work, lulling me into a false sense of security, so that as I sat in the Madagascar themed toilets I had a nasty shock when the toilet flushed as I sat perfectly still. What is wrong with a button, that's what I'd like to know?! Anyway, we spent the next day exploring the parts of Singapore that aren't malls (not a lot) and sampling the cuisine of little India. The day after that we went to the zoo and night safari, where the toilet related dramas took a turn for the worse. There we were admiring the free roaming oragutans from below, and just as I said 'oh no, its starting to rain' Sean said 'look out that big ones doing a wee'. Yep, I got weed on. On my face. Lovely. Other than that, the zoo was lovely! The animals seem to have a lot more space and looked happy and content. I even saw manatees which are my very fave, and we watched them get fed and the little baby swimming around - another billion pics to upload. We also went on the night safari which was pretty cool! Our flight to Melbourne was the day after, so we had a little visit to Chinatown, as we needed to sample the cuisine! Then off we went to the airport, where we also sampled some more food, just to be sure we had tried everything. Lucky we did as our flight kept getting pushed back half an hour at a time so we left at 2am instead of 1030pm. Lucky they had a Disney classics section on the little screens or I would not have been happy! Got to Melbourne in the afternoon and met Sean's friend Tynan, who we are going to stay with. Went out for a pizza that evening which was pretty life changing if I'm honest... imagine the nicest Caesar salad you've ever had, but on top of a pizza. I still dribble a little when I think of it... Melbourne is really nice, it reminds me of the nice bits of London but much less crowded. We accidentally became members of a casino yesterday, but in return we got a shiny gold card with our names on and 5 dollars (the boys gambled theirs but I saved mine, obviously), yet another new experience! We also went and had a little picnic at the beach yesterday as it was a beautiful day. Then we came home and had our first bbq - complete with kangaroo! Sean bet I wouldn't finish my steak, so I ate it all AND the biggest sausage left, just to prove a point! Felt a bit bad about eating a kangaroo before I had seen one, but not bad enough to hold back. This morning our phones arrived so have spent the morning being lazy and playing on draw something, think we are going to go and see the creek later, am hoping to find some snakes! That's all for the moment, hope everyone is alright and coping without us. Lots of love xxxxxxxxxxxx

Saturday, 10 March 2012

The return of Road Signs and Traffic Lights!

Hello everyone! Have been waiting until I had a bit more to tell everyone... what with all these comments about how jealous people are it seemed a bit mean to write a blog about how we had been sitting by the pool/beach.. although I am going to do that now haha!! We spent a lovely few days at the last resort mention on Koh Phangan lazing by the pool and topping up our tans which is always nice, however we had to swap hotels as our one was obviously a bit of a hot spot for backpackers so was fully booked as it got closer to Full Moon Party. Found a nice alternative although the pool wasn't great - meant that we actually walked an extra 100m and went to the beach though so it was actually good in the long run! The beach was probably the nicest beach we have ever been to - the water was crystal clear and so warm it was like a bath. There were also some nice cheap restaurants along the sand so we got into the habit of buying a couple of beers and watching the sun go down on the beach, and then going back at night time for dinner. Its such a hard life! Stayed on Koh Phangan for almost a week, we both agreed we could probably stay longer but time is ticking and our flight to Australia is getting closer and closer, and still plenty more to see. On our final day on the island it absolutely bucketed down, so we sat on our balcony and watched the rain on and off, as well as massive thunderstorms, it was brilliant, and the first bit of bad weather we have actually had so we thought it was about due! Next day we embarked on our trip to Penang, an island in Malaysia. Was another one of those ridiculously long and complex journeys - jeep/taxi (open air - lovely until it starts chucking it down) to the ferry, ferry to Samui, then on to the main land, then a coach to Surat Thani where we were nearly scammed but caught them out - we are finally learning the ways of Asia!!!! Basically the key is that if someone tells you something is 10km away - they are usually telling porkies! We had already bought our tickets and this man told us to follow him to the tour agency which we did. When we got there it turned out we were at the wrong company (not very convincing display of shock from the man working there) but LUCKILY the man who had brought us there HAPPENED to know where the right place was and ALSO HAPPENED to be a tuk tuk driver. We walked back to the drop off point and spoke to a woman there, who called our company and arranged a free pick up. Scam avoided, we are wising up! Anyway, on with the journey... next we got in a very small, very busy and not very air conditioned mini van, which we were in for a total of 5hours. Ouch. Saw a horrific crash on the way - truck was so mangled you couldn't tell which way up it was. Not surprising considering the way people drive but still scary to see. Eventually we pulled up outside a stall selling toys, and a man stuck his head in and shouted 'Penang? You come in my van now.' So we crossed the dual carriageway on foot and got in a different mini van (air con and leg room this time!) and off we went again to the Malaysian Border. I have never been to such an efficient border! We literally walked in, filled in our arrival card got stamped and walked through. Must have taken a minute in total? Put the two hours we spent last time in Bangkok in perspective! And the people were friendly too and actually smiled, which I thought was against the rules for immigration control! Could tell we were in a different country straight away - roads were so much better, road signs arrived and the houses we were going past was all a world away from the ramshackle huts in the other countries. We had paid for a ticket to Butterworth, the town on the mainland near Penang, but the driver was going all the way and so dropped us on the street we wanted in Penang - cheers mate! Found a hostel (not lovely but a lot cheaper than Samui or Phangan) and a burger van called the Old Trafford, had a bit of food and collapsed in bed, as we had been travelling about 16 hours by this point. Next day we did a bit of touristyness. Went to the Museum and learnt all about the different peoples - again probably not for everyone but we liked it. We also went to Fort Cornwallis, although I think we walked round the wrong way as the displays didnt make a huge amount of sense. They may have just been like that though to be fair... Went out for a curry that night as Sean had been craving one for a few days! Next day we braved public transport for the first time, and went to the top of Penang Hill. You can get a little train thing up there like a cable car, which I thought was ridiculously overpriced but the views from the top of Georgetown, the mainland and the bridge were beautiful. Finally worked out how to use the Panorama setting on my camera - was pretty chuffed but then decided I need to go back to Halong Bay and utilise this new found skill. From the top of Penang Hill, we decided to walk to the Botanic Gardens. In our lonely planet book it makes sounds as though this is a short walk. It is not. 5km of steep hill and I thought my knees were going to explode - comforted by the fact that as we walked monkeys started playing in the tree tops around us which was pretty amazing. We eventually got to the Gardens but were so tired we didn't walk far - just far enough to see some turtles in a lily pond and find a massive Orchid house which made us think of Terri! We then got the bus back to the centre. Ran for the bus as it was about to leave, only for it to stop at the next stop along, the bus driver got off, and did not return for 35 minutes. At first we were a bit baffled, but I think 6 weeks out here has changed the way we think, so we just laughed and got out the cards and played a fair few rounds of Rummy. When we finally got back to the center we walked around a couple of malls and I treated myself to some conditioner and dove body wash - so excited! That night we went to a night market for dinner - it was quite an experience! Really cheap good food from stalls all around, and a bustling place with lots of people watching to be done, our favourite! That was pretty much it for Penang, we got a coach a 1pm the next day to Kuala Lumpur, pretty annoying though as it was by far the nicest bus we have been on so far for the shortest journey! How unfair! We got picked up by Sean's friend Ed in the centre, as we are staying with him in KL. It is pretty nice to be in a decent place to stay - its a condo (aka posh flat) and we have a little room with en suite to stay in! We have definitely made use of the washing machine since we got here, as well as finally seeing everyone on Skype which was brilliant! Weird though, as sitting chatting to Mummy for ages just feel like you are there with them, then you sign off and look around and think 'Oh my god I'm in Malaysia how did I get here?!' First day in KL we went to the middle of town to the HUGEST shopping mall I have ever seen in my life - eleven floors, two wings and more in the middle. Put it this way, its the first occasion since my life began that I have not made it all the way round a shopping centre. Does that put it in perspective?! We then went up the KL tower just in time to get all the views of KL in daylight, sunset and night time. Pretty high up - the lift left my stomach behind somewhere around 150m. Observation deck is 276m up. On the way back down, our ticket included a visit to 'The Animal Zone', which turned out to be a ramshackle shed full of huge snakes and tarantulas. Conclusion: not a place for Anthony to visit. We were both pretty tired by this point, but then discovered that no taxi driver knew where Ed lived... apparently Taxi drivers rely on the passenger to direct them here, which is all very well until you get a pair of foreigners like us who are absolutely perplexed by the layout of this city. In the end rang Ed and put him on the phone to the taxi driver and got to the right place in the end, but I was concerned for a while... Next day we went out for a brunch. Curry. Sean was loving it haha, was really good food, and another dining experience, as you eat off a big banana leaf not a plate, and all these people with dishes of stuff just come over and plonk it on your plate until you say stop! Literally Sean was in heaven. We then went to the Batu Caves (lots of steps) but there were some rather vicious looking monkeys lurking and actually climbing up people, so we didn't stay too long! Last night we went to a 'Thai Bar' which was an... experience. You don't buy drinks, just pay for the bottle and they bring over mixers and leave it all on your table, and the entertainment was Thai women in not many clothes singing half of the words to Lady Gaga. I loved it! Met a lot of prostitutes which is always nice... Sean said he was glad I was there to protect him! Not convinced all of the lovely ladies we met were actually ladies. Some very big feet and deep voices. Not much else to say really, we are on to Singapore tomorrow so next blog will most likely be from Australia. Only thing left to tell is a small toilet related fact for you (no trauma for me this time don't panic). Not all the toilets here are quite the same as at home. Some of them are toilet seats around a hole in the floor so you have to squat, which I think is a bit silly, because if you are going to bother put a toilet seat in then you really should put a toilet in as well. It clearly is a confusing system for everyone involved, as on some of the actual toilets there are signs on the back saying DO NOT STAND ON THE TOILET and a diagram showing you how to sit on it! Found that hilarious, until I found foot prints on a toilet that didn't have a sign!!!!!! Hope everyone at home is alright and enjoying what sounds like some pretty strange weather!!! Lots of love to everyone xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

a little bit of island hopping and a lot of mosquitoes.

Seem to have developed a habit of losing track of time but didn't have too much to report on until yesterday! We got back to Bangkok on Monday night - amazing how different a place can seem when you know where you're going! Now I've got used to life out here Bangkok didn't smell half as bad as some of the other treats we've had! Flight was good, really short which I was gutted about when I realised they had Disney films on the little screens! Anyway, had a nice day wandering around the city, and then decided to get a Thai massage (i was suspicous of this but we went in together...) Weirdest half hour ever, they poke at you with their elbows and knees and their full body weight, and she was definitely bigger than me. Managed not to giggle until she had a knee on each bum cheek, hands on my shoulder blades and started crawling up me, but then the randomness struck me and so did the giggles! Due to dancing I was a bit bendier than she expected so she was at a loss when she tried to crack my back, I flopped all the way over and she ended up sitting on me! That night was our first experience with a sleeper train. All looked very sticky and grotty when we got on, but then a tubby guard came along and transformed the 2 armchairs on the floor into bunkbeds complete with pillows covers etc. I decided the guard was a genius and had pretty much a full nights sleep. Sean was less lucky as a beetle attempted to make a little home up his nose at about 3am, so the sleeping stopped there for him. We then got a bus, then a ferry, then a pick up truck to the side of the island called chaweng beach. It seemed as though we were going for every mode of transport possible! Found a 'beach bungalow' to stay in, which I ended up renaming mosquito hovel! Squashed one of the little buggers as it helped itself to my leg and blood went everywhere! May just let them get on with it next time... although I have a running total of 20 bites on my legs alone, which is a new record even for me! We have spent most of our time on the island on the beach and reading or swimming. When the mosquitos got a bit much we swapped to a different guesthouse which was actually cheaper but has a pool. It is right behind the moulin rouge cabaret club, and a nice lady boy on the door has taken a real shine to Sean. We have named him Pete, and he makes sure he squeezes Sean's arms at every available opportunity. Not sure if it will work out though as we also saw him showing a middle aged man what was up his mini dress. Fickle. We decided to make the most of the island and do one of the day trips to see the main sights and a safari park. We were taken to the big Buddha, a massive gold statue and kicked out of the pick up truck, leaving us a bit baffled but we went for a look around anyway. Then a fat man with dreadlocks that looked like Mr T walked up to us, announced that he was our guide and walked off again. Same thing happened at the next spot, a lovely bay which is famous for having a huge rock shaped like something rude... I believe there is a legend surrounding this rock but can't verify as Mr T spent the visit taking pictures that involved other people on the tour and the rude rock. We also went to a place called the secret garden, full of streams and statues. Mr T sat in the cafe. The garden was up a mountain, and on the way up we discovered that the driver was not a massive fan of the gear change. Even more worried when they stopped the van to say someone had to sit on the roof. Russian couple volunteered and the rest of the journey was accompanied by yelps as we drove through overhanging trees and electric cables. For some reason we decided to take a turn in the death seat for the descent. Even more scary when you can see the cliffs on either side and other vans hurtling towards you (like hard knot pass Alic and Ant!). Also saw a mummified monk wearing sunglasses, bringing our total dead body count up to 2. In the afternoon we went for a dunk in a waterfall and then the bit I was most excited about... elephant trekking! Our elephant was a rebel and definitely took a different route to the others! Was just about getting used to it when the driver asked if I wanted to drive! Climbed down onto her head with my knees behind her ears - being slapped on the legs by an elephant ear is odd! Also they are quite hairy close up, who knew! Got lots of pics which will hopefully put on Facebook if I ever get near a pc. Was one of the most surreal experiences ever but amazing. In the afternoon we watched animal shows - I have now seen a parrot and an otter compete in a race to recycle drinks cans?! There were some animals there in cages that were far too small though, and you could get your picture taken with a tiger which was so drugged up it couldn't even lift its own head. Felt really sad after that, and sorry for the animals. That was pretty much the end of our koh samui adventures. Spent another day lazing around and set off for koh phangan yesterday morning. I was very sick on the boat, but have discovered I have pretty good aim when it comes to throwing up. Eventually got to the island and got a pick up to hat yao, the other side from the loud party bit. After koh samui I think we both just want a full nights sleep! Took a while to find somewhere to stay, and after looking at a place with holes in the concrete floor, ants in the bed and a black toilet which used to be white, we made the executive decision to splash out. We are now in a lovely little cluster of bungalows, got hot water for the first time since Vietnam, a pool, a lovely lounge/bar/restaurant and I am sitting in our hammock on our porch writing this, and its only £12 per night still! I think we deserve a treat, last place there wasn't even a light or a window in the bathroom! Anyway, that's pretty much it from me. Think Sean has finally woken up so looks like it is time to top up the tan! Lots of love to everyone! Xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, 19 February 2012

In Israel, we have twelve of these.

Well Hello Everyone! It has been a while since my last blog - time seems to go quicker than I realise out here! Since I last wrote there have been all kinds of adventures and crimes - murder of lizards and theft of pants to name a few. When we got back up to the room after the last blog we were met with the sight of a lizard scurrying out of sight. I know this probably makes us wusses but we didn't want to sleep with it in there! Told reception who didn't seem to care too much, so took our own measures and chased it into a hole which we then covered with surgical tape! At this point a grumpy man armed with a can of cockroach spray and a flip flop marched in and released it from the little prison and chased it round the room until it got a few too many smacks on the head with the flip flop and it left our little family forever. Still covered the hole with some more surgical tape, just in case it had any vengeful relatives lurking around. While in Hoi An we also had a set menu - traditional Hoi An food. Oh my gosh it was blooming gorgeous! Definitely the best meal we have had so far, but don't worry we took a picture of every single dish plus the menu, definitely going to try and re-create some of those when we get back!However, in spite of these good times there was more drama to come when our laundry was returned and 3 pairs of Sean's pants and 2 pairs of socks had vanished! Reception man (aka lizard killer) did not seem as responsive to the news as we had hoped - no finger prints taken or anything. Would have been slightly better except for the fact that we were due to get on a coach at 730am the next morning! This proved to be a dramatic half hour - Sean stood watching the reception for any sign of them trying to track down the stolen goods, while I was dispatched to the bus station to wave frantically at him if we had to go. At 745am, a van (yes, a whole van) arrived bearing the pants. Disaster averted, as luckily the bus company runs on the strange time zone that people seem to operate on over here so was a bit late too! The bus was to Hue, and went along some beautiful scenery and coastal roads. Went through a high pass but don't worry, overtaking was still rampant on the narrow, winding road on the edge of the cliff. In Hue we went on a boat tour of some famous tombs and other landmarks, such as the citadel. Tour Guide performed a rendition of some traditional Vietnamese folk songs. And then warbled his way through Unchained Melody as well. We are still not sure why but it seemed to make him happy and we got it all on video. Also went to see a martial arts performance which was really good, spent some of it peeping through my fingers as they held blades against their exposed throats but no one was harmed in the making of this blog. Very strange man in Purple trousers/waistcoat ensemble spent the majority of the tour boasting about how much better stuff is in Israel ('we have twelve of these bowls, and each is carried by twelve bulls'). Best bit came when we were on the Perfume River and another tour boat overtook us - Japanese lady going to the toilet, only to discover that even with the door closed there was a 6 inch gap. Plus the door was see through. Got more of a view than we payed for! Only got better when someone else came to use the toilets and was shocked to find her in there and proceeded to have a discussion with her about it - very happy that these bathroom issues are not just happening to me! Immediately after the boat trip decided to get the FINAL sleeper coach to Hanoi. Busiest one yet, but we were at the back so actually next to each other this time - Lord of the Rings on the ipod, happy days. Then to Hanoi. Definitely the loudest place we have been so far. And the rooms here are more expensive too. Found somewhere after a while but they seemed to forgot who we were each time we came in and out, and had a very relaxed attitude towards things like looking after the key to your room. Final decision to move came when we discovered that every time we flushed the toilet the room smelt like a dead body. Went and bought some jeans as it is pretty chilly here (fleeces are coming in handy!)and went to the Temple of Literature. Mainly were just finding stuff to do until we went on our Ha Long Bay trip - had to spend a fair bit on it but we had done our homework and found a reputable company, which is not massively easy around here! So thursday morning saw us off on one of the trips I had been most excited about. And to make it even better, as we sat waiting for the mini bus a fight broke out between two women on the street. Ninja Kicks and slaps everywhere, one ofthe women had a meat stall so the other one was throwing her pots and pans around. Culminated in a massive lump of meat being lobbed at the others head and landing in the road. true to form when the fight was over the meat went back on the shelf don't worry! $ hours later we were in Halong City - what appears to be a collection of hotels. Got a little ferry thing to the boat where we would be spending the night, and a seafood lunch mmmmmm. After that we cruised around the islands for an hour or so until we reached 'Surprising Cave' which is like a grotto of stalagmites and tites that all look like various animals and creatures (provided you have a small amount of imagination which luckily we did!) Alicia - the bins there were all in the form of five foot penguins!!!!!! In the afternoon we went Kayaking - I was terrified and wanted to go in the rowing boat but gave myself a talking to! We kayaked into the lagoon and saw monkeys clambering around our heads - so amazing. I won't even try and describe the overall trip as it is too difficult, Pictures will be uploaded soon! Second day we climbed to the top of an island (nearly killed me!) but we were rewarded when we got back with TEA AND TOAST AND JAM!!!!!!!!! Made me very contented, although pined for a bit of hovis and peanut butter! Returned to Hanoi that evening and had been accidentally upgraded to a gorgeous room in our new hotel - still blooming cold though alas. On Saturday we got our first moto to the Museum of Ethnology. Probably not interesting enough to report on in detail but good enough for two anthropology students! The moto ride was good, not as scary as I thought. Although it wasn't until the way back that I noticed his petrol light was on, he had no mirrors ANYWHERE and then he started trying to tell me something about what I can only assume was a huge pineapple?? Not helped when he could tell I didn't understand so started to text it to me on his phone as he drove along. Unfortunately I cannot read Vietnamese so we will never know the riddle of the pineapple. Next day we went to Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum. Pretty Creepy, first dead body I have seen! Very very busy and serious - I got in trouble from an armed guard because I was walking with my arms crossed - never mind we had been queuing outside for half an hour! had to check in our rucksack at one place, then later get a scan and a little bag for your camera, then later still check in your camera, all before you could go in! We must have been in there all of two minutes, and spent the remainder trying to find where our various items had been stored or moved to. Signposts? No, that would be too easy. Today is our final day in Vietnam. Have checked out and killing some time before we get a taxi to the airport and return to the warmer climates of Bangkok. We have just realised though, that we have got more money left than we thought we would, so if you don't mind we are going to stuff ourselves now! Lots of love and snuggles. xxxxxxx

Friday, 10 February 2012

Saigon and Nha Trang!

Well hello again everyone! Am actually at a computer today, so maybe the blog can be a bit more in depth - at very least the spelling should be better! So last time I wrote Sean was transfixed in the Arsenal Blackburn game. Couldn't tell you what happened with that as I was in the land of nod before half time, just how I like it! Was a bit wary of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) as the lonely planet book (aka our bible) said that it probably has the highest crime rate in Vietnam. Obviously I then translated this to mean there would be masked robbers lurking around every corner (Granny if you are reading this, don't worry, there weren't!). It was actually a really nice place to be, found a hostel with a little pagoda in the room - not sure why but we liked it - and loads of good places to eat around the area we were staying in. Went to the Vietnam War Remnants Museum on the first full day - was very one-sided and full of propaganda but seemed fair enough to us! I didn't know anything about Agent Orange, and there were kids in the museum doing crafts that have been born in the 1990s with all these disabilities. Apparently the museum closes for an hour and a half in the middle of the day, so we were unceremoniously kicked out at 12pm, and told not to darken their door until 130pm. We went and found a lovely little park to shelter in and sample some of the bakery's work - lots of women in mini dresses with people following them round and taking pictures of them by trees??? Then went back to the museum and finished nosing around. After this we went to the Reunification Palace, half followed some tours around and listened in then went to get a view of the city from the helicopter pad (standard). Some Chinese teenagers took a shine to us and spent a while posing for pictures with us as the stars - they never really said why though. Must be our beauty and exoticness. On the way home we went to the market and Sean got some Abercrombie shorts for 4 quid and I got a polo shirt for 2 quid. Am saving it to wear until I smell a bit better though! Had ANOTHER beer with dinner. Am becoming quite a little party animal apparently! Monday we had lots of time to kill so went and sat in the park, Made friends with a Vietnamese girl who had only been teaching herself English for 6 months and was fluent. Made my attempts at Spanish in High School look a bit weak if I'm honest :S She thought it was very funny that Vietnamese people want to be pale and I was trying to get a tan, but then she also thought Sean was a 21 year old German so she was a bit off with her guesses. That night we got our first sleeper bus. Quite an experience! I slept most of the way although the seat/bed things were made of plastic so I was quite stuck to them. To be honest it was a bit of a squeeze for me, so Sean never stood a chance! Turns out I must be an Asian as I am NORMAL SIZE here! I can see the tops of things and whats going on in the world around me! Don't think Sean slept the whole night (being taller than me), and then when we got to Nha Trang at 6am none of the hostels were open! Saw a little old lady beckoning us down an alley way and showed us to her guest house- really cheap and most importantly had a room there and then! Nha Trang is pretty resorty, a beach haven for a huge number of Russians apparently! Spent the first day being beach bums and the second walking to this Pagoda/ Temple thing, where they have massive statues of Buddha and you can hear the monks praying and ringing the bells - sounded like one of those meditation CDs they used to play in the Natural World shop in Sutton! Skyped both our mummies while we were there, was really weird just chatting and then remembering where we were and how far away we were! Made me a little bit sad just as it made me miss everyone lots. Quite a few people there that I found quite rude, an Australian boasting about starting fights on the beaches in Thailand, and an American girl demanding a waitress who spoke better English than the girl who worked in a restaurant and had already changed her order twice! Luckily, it turns out nobody really wants to make friends with a couple! We are officially uninteresting to fellow travellers. Fascinating to Chinese teenagers at least though, if we ever get really sick of each other! Last night (Thursday) we got another night bus, went with a company recommended in Lonely Planet this time and was much better. Bit more leg room for Seany, blankets smelled like they had been washed, and THERE WAS A TOILET!!!! I only visited once though as I had another traumatic experience - decided to go when the bus was stopped as that was what everyone else was doing. Except that as I went to sit down the bus lurched into action, sending me flying, accidentally pressed the flush button before I had even gone and that then in turn switches the lights off as it assumes you are finished. Am having no luck with toilets. The majority of the passengers were staring at me when I emerged as it must have sounded like I was having some kind of disco in there. I miss English Toilets. Thats all for now, have just spent our first day in Hoi An but will write about that the next time. Hope everyone is keeping safe in the snow and not too jealous of us! Lots of love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx