Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Three Weeks on the East Coast

I know I'm a terrible blogger and it's been over 3 weeks, but it's been an interesting 28 days or so since I last posted. I've been keeping a separate diary every one or two days so I won't ever forget any of the fun things I've been doing.

I didn't feel too much like writing at the beginning because -I'm ashamed to say- I wasn't too impressed with Australia. I had just left a really great group of friends in beautiful, sunny Thailand in exchange for rainy and outrageously expensive Sydney. It took a few days for this to sink in and for my tiredness to subside, then I was able to start enjoying myself and exploring the city which, as much as I hate to admit it, just felt like London.

I knew I only had one month to travel up the East Coast before heading to New Zealand, so without wasting any time (or money) I decided to start on my Oz Experience bus tour up to Cairns. My main stop offs were Spot X- Surf camp, Byron Bay, Surfers' Paradise, Brisbane, Rainbow Beach, Town of 1770/ Agnes Water, Airlie Beach, Townsville and Cairns.

The first week of my trip was a bit of a wash-out for me. Literally. It poured down with rain and was freezing cold all the way up until Rainbow Beach. Although I tried not to let it dampen my spirits (sorry!) it was difficult because it spoilt a fair few surfing and sunbathing opportunities- and it meant I rushed my way up quicker desperately seeking the sun. Still, I did my best to learn to surf (and drink lots of goon) in Spot X and I was hooked from then on!

Things started looking up when I hitched a ride to Brisbane for one night with three kind fellows from outside my hostel. The Oz Experience bus only departs on certain days (very annoying) but I fancied a little road trip so it worked out perfectly. Thanks lads!

Harry, Jimmy and Darcy.

From then on the sun was shining and Australia was finally delivering like I wanted it to.
My best experiences were to follow, what with meeting my lovely friend Esther, camping on Fraser Island, and meeting two people from Tasmania who would proceed to have quite an impact on my next few weeks (even months) of travelling. More about that later!

Fraser Island is a beautiful sand island with loads of fresh water lakes, rivers and sand dunes. For three days I joined a 'family' of seven others to camp, drive, drink and explore on the island. Pure bliss!

My other favourite experience has to be spending a night on a ranch in 1770, rural Queensland. I never had myself down as much as a cowgirl (!) but I instantly fell in love with the way of life at Kroombit cattle station. We got to muster up goats on horseback, catch and brand goats, shoot clay pigeons, crack whips, lasso and, like all good cowboys, eat a LOT of beef.

Next I spent a few days relaxing on Airlie Beach and Magnetic Island deciding what my next move would be. As I mentioned earlier, just before Fraser Island I met The Tasmanians, two incredibly talented musicians who Esther and I had the pleasure of jamming with one evening.
The outcome of this however, is that I've fallen in love with the music and I'm now joining them for some of their Tasmanian tour next month to sing a few songs with them. It's fair to say that Australia is definitely getting better as the days go on!

Check out the Adam Cousens band here: www.myspace.com/adamcousens to hear some great songs and see tour dates! :)

Monday, 4 October 2010

The end of my Asian adventures

So here I am in Bangkok, in a 200THB a night hostel, at the end of a truly amazing 7 weeks in South-east Asia.

I haven't blogged much because I've been so busy rushing my way around trying to follow my itinerary which, on reflection, is nowhere near enough time to experience all of what I wanted to.

From eating bugs and visiting temples in Cambodia, to cruising through Vietnam and making great friends, to partying and tubing in Laos, trekking and exploring Northern Thailand and chilling out on the beaches down South, every day has been a new adventure and I have loved every second of it!

All my initial fears of missing home and being alone completely went out of the window when I started hitting the hostels and meeting some awesome people. I knew I would meet people around, but I had no idea I would make such great friends and even be lucky enough to travel round with some of them for over 2 weeks!

People always ask when you meet them, what have been your highlights so far? I find it the hardest question because (especially coming from boring England) everything I've seen and done has been so new and exciting that I can't imagine ever going back and getting on with my normal life! Still, if I had to choose I would say my top few (and it's mainly because of the people!) would have to be:

1.) Eating dinner with a local Cambodian family at their village with my tour group in my first week

2.) Taking the Hanoi Backpackers Ha Long Bay tour for 3 days and 2 nights. One night we slept on a big boat all together, the next day chilled on our own private island and Kayaked all around Ha Long Bay then camped on the island in our little huts by the sea :)

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

3.) Jungle trekking and Elephant riding in Chiang Mai. I also finally got to prance around in my first (decent) waterfall there so I was very happy!

My friend Tim and I with our Elephant, Champu!

Tim, Adam and me in the coldest waterfall of all time

4.) Snorkeling in Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Firstly, I have never been to a decent beach in my life, nor have I ever really seen much fish when snorkelling, so when I got to the Thai Islands I was so fascinated to see the water as clear as a swimming pool and huge tropical fish casually swimming around my feet!
I loved it so much I ended up spending over a week between both the islands. It was great to finally chill out and not be rushing somewhere, but it was also so much fun because I checked myself into Koh Tao backpackers hostel and instantly fell in love with everybody in the dorm! We had a great group of 8 of us, Dutch, German, Italian, French and English and we had a hilarious few days chilling and partying in the 'dorm of love'! *Pictures to follow*

There are so many best bits it's impossible to narrow them down! I will be very sad to leave Asia, but I am also massively excited for Australia and all that will come with it. So for now it is Good Bye Bangkok, and Hello flight to Sydney tomorrow!