A Travellerspoint blog

East Coast Madness

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Here goes the fastest blog i've ever done! The queue for the net cafe is ridiculous. The bus journey has gotten better the last few days although I am still a grandma. Missing people more now too but I know you're all still there so it's fine.

Been on a farm stay which I loved, the night was so clear and I even enjoyed the barn dance! Just like a ceilidh really! Then went to Fraser Island for the last 2 nights, it really is beautiful. Lake MacKenzie is gorgeous, (the water is the perfect hangover cure!) We've had some terrible storms however and our boat out to the island was delayed because of lightning overhead.

I've feel I have to run now before I get lynched....

Posted by Roisine 16:17 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Sydney, Australia

Whales and Dolphins.....

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Not really that taken with Sydney so far. Seems like just another city with the exception of the close proximity of ocean. It's a little souless. Of course, in 4 days, I am not claiming to have gotten to know it well enough to make that judgement but it's just a general feeling. The famous Bondi Beach reminded me of a huge frying pan full of sausages, even LA didn't have that much flesh on display. Everyone is there to be looked at and as such they are all preened and perfect, the houses are like glass lego stuck into the hills costing millions of dollars.

We stayed in Manly, a lovely little place a half hour's boat ride from Sydney's harbour. Victoria and Darren who very kindly put us up have been a breath of fresh air after dorms and hostels. Being able to wake up with no one else in the room is a little luxury I never thought of before I left. They have been fantastic hosts, on our first day, Darren took us out to North Head and we saw 2 humpback whales! They were quite far away, but they were certainly whales!

Because of mix up in dates of our tour, we managed to get the chance to go to the Blue Mountains. A lovely trip but unfortunately, the weather was so bad that we didn't actually see a thing! Literally, the fog was so thick that we could barely see the trees at the side of the road.

Picked up the tour early on Thursday morning. It was like the first day at school all over again. I'm not going to be too derogatory about it because I still have 14 days to go so being positive is important. However, anyone who knows me will understand my feelings at having to learn our "day song" and being made to stand up and introduce myself to the bus. Including telling them all useful details like my favourite colour and weather i'm a "scruncher or a folder" with regards to the use of toilet paper... I keep imagining Hassan being here instead, and it makes me laugh in the worst times! I am also the oldest girl in the group, yet the only one to get asked for identification in the pub last night... How does that work?! I am actually quite irritated at still being on antibiotics for this ear infection because I can't even have a few drinks to ease the stress of it all. However, it is giving me a very nice excuse to do my own thing at night instead of joining in with all the fun activites!!

Of course, there are many plus points to being on the trip. The accommodation is very good and I am getting to see a lot. Including getting to cuddle a koala - can you imagine how excited I was?- and going into the rainforest today which I didn't even know existed. The waterfalls were truly beautiful. Byron Bay was a lovely little town, even saw a pod of 8 dolphins off the most easterly point.

I have extended my trip now to include a few weeks in New Zealand and then a couple of weeks in Singapore so my new return date is the 18th December... At the minute anyway!

Must get on with my knitting now like the grandma that I am!

Posted by Roisine 02:30 Archived in Australia Tagged seniors Comments (0)

Paradise in the rainy season

Warning... this blog may be primarily me being very excited about sea cucumbers!

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Well, it's my birthday today!! Yay! Spending it on a lovely little beach in Sydney isn't too bad at all!

But, back to Fiji....

I'm not sure how to decribe Fiji to actually do it justice. A sea cat takes passangers from the mainland out to the islands stopping at each one and offloading people and their bags onto little boats to take them onto the beach. The view actually made me cry. It's just utter peace, and about as close to paradise as a girl on my budget can get. The sun is warm, the ocean clear blue and inviting in its vastness. The colours are richer, sounds of birds, waves, wind through the leaves and the odd boat motor in the background. Oh, and the Fijian drum which calls us for meals!

The first few days, we stayed on a slightly bigger island in the Yasawas, the more Northern collection of islands. We stayed a dorm of about 24 people (hence my comment on paradise on a budget! Next time I go there, i intend to do it in style!) The resort was pretty well equipped though, the meals were regular and very appetising, although at first i was apprehensive about the "flushless toilet" affectionately termed the "Long Drop" I soon realised that it is actually a very hygenic way of dealing with it. How typical of me to talk about the toilets when describing a pacific island! My favourite time of day was first thing in the morning. I woke up around 6:30 am most days and went down to the beach with my book and ipod and dozed on a hammock till they called breakfast at 8am. No one else was ever around except the odd Fijian who stopped for a chat. They really are lovely people, relaxed, friendly and more than happy for us to be there. As it is now coming into their rainy season, we did have rain most nights but it cleared up everyday and was refreshing rather than miserable. The lightning storms at night were amazing to watch across the ocean.

On day 3 I was persuaded to do and introductory dive by the Reef Safari instructor, Dean. I was really nervous before going because I had tried snorkelling the day before and didn't like it at all. I wrongly assumed it'd be the same thing. Dean was excellent, he acted as if it was the most natural thing in the world and made sure I was comfortable with the breathing apparatus before I even got near the water. Once under the surface, it is another world. It is peaceful and serene and feels strangely, utterly safe. The fish are happily gliding around being all colourful and natural in their habitat. I did flinch slightly when I saw a shark and a stingray but they didn't seem to care I was there. The little clown fish and fat pink seastars made me smile and I was particularly captivated by the sea cucumbers! They are like draft excluders, fat, squishy and soft and happy to be picked up, well, i don't know if they were happy exactly but they didn't seem to mind too much. My dive lasted for about 45 minutes and admittedly I did hold on for the entire time but I knew by the time I surfaced that I was hooked.

The next day, however, we transferred to another island which is so small you can walk all the way around it in 2.5 minutes! It was my favourite island of the two. When we got there at around 5:30pm, I was introduced to the Reef Safari reps there, Matt and Fordy, and by 6:30 I had started my dive certification course! Doing the skills section in the dark was more of a challenge and a lot of the skills go against natural instincts but once I realised that it was unlikely that Matt would let me die, I got a bit more confident. The next 2 days were pretty intense really, the course is meant to last 5 days but I really only had one full day and till 9am the next which meant fitting in 5 dives with all the prerequisite requirements plus the written work and the exam at the end (I passed with 92%!) I have to say I was a bit exhausted and the last dive at 7am on the last day required me to jump off a boat without any gear and get into it while on my own in the ocean. I was actually so scared I nearly cried, but again, once I'd got over it and got down under the surface, I was totally fine. I'm not sure if you can tell but I am really excited about this new diving experience, I haven't stopped talking about it since!

Unfortunately, I ended up with a slight ear infection now so can't dive again till it clears up. I will be so upset if it hasn't by the time I reach the Great Barrier Reef!

I am finding that once I move onto my next destination, I actually miss the place I left. Not so much with LA, but San Fransisco, Vegas and Fiji I actually do miss. It's interesting, to feel a part of somewhere so far from where I call home and to take something from being in each place and even, possibly, leave something behind.

Posted by Roisine 21:20 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Vegas to Paradise

An update from Fiji... Manta Ray Island

sunny 28 °C
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Sorry for the huge gap in blogs, i've been having trouble logging onto the site, and it lost most of this blog i posted a few days ago but i only just realised... i'll try to remember it now!

So... Vegas! After so long of my saying it sounds like my worst nightmare; cramped streets, noise, glaring lights and hundereds of shows! I'm actually really glad I went there. It wasn't like I imagined at all, all the elements were there, just not as intrusive as I feared. It was a lot of fun both seeing all the attractions and laughing at the very special brand of crazies they have there. Our hostel was in possibly the dodgiest part of downtown (the neighbouhood with the 3rd highest rating for gun crime in the city!) but in a way, that was a good thing because it meant experiencing that part along with the glitz of the strip. The hostel ended up being not too bad either once the annoying Irish girl and her friend left! There is a lot to do besides gamble and see shows but I think 3 days is enough to do it in.

We took an organised trip to the Grand Canyon from our hostel which picked us up at a very unearthly hour of 5:45am! We didn't even get to the Canyon till about midday, mostly due to the complete disorganisation of the tour company. It is a phenomenal sight, and very much worth seeing. But I would recommend taking your own car so as to not be at the mercy of the control freakish Americans. They really do spoil it unfortunately. We did the Skywalk - a smallish transparent walkway out over the canyon - but we weren't allowed to take cameras and were litterally herded from one guard to the next across the walk, utterly infuriating! The second viewpoint is slightly less controlled and the Americans had made me angry enough to defiantly huff off to the very edge of the point where no one else would go so I got a fantastic 360 view of the canyon. It really is breathtaking, if you can let yourself see what billions of years worth of nature can be capable of.

That night, one of the guys who works at the hostel took us to thier local bar. They had a blues band playing who were made up of an inter-racial group of charming old blues guys with day jobs who just played for fun. They were great, it was a perfect end to "real-life Las Vegas"!

The next day, we drove back through the desert to LA and stayed at the Santa Monica hostel again. I was really bored by LA. We saw the Hollywood sign and Rodeo Drive which were both cool to see but there was just nothing else there. Our flight wasn't till 11pm that night so we just hung around the beach for a few hours and then spent about 5hrs at the airport again being herded about by shouting security staff... After the 10 hour flight to Fiji, I arrived feeling pretty grumpy and tired and happy to be out of America.

Now... I must say that if there's one place that will snap you out of being cranky and tired, it's Fiji!

But I must go for now, the sun has just come out and I have to work on my tan! :o)

Posted by Roisine 16:36 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Ocean to Desert

Jess's Birthday in Vegas!

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Last night was my first ever hostelling experience. I didn't do too badly actually, it's weird and I feel a little bit out of my comfort zone but it's worth it for all the time we actually spend in it. I did wake up earlier than everyone else in the room and have to sneak out on my own.

We spent most of today driving across the Mojave desert listening to an odd mixture of rock and soul music. We took a wrong turn and ended up having to drive down Las Vegas Blvd though which really was not fun. Got to our hostel feeling a bit shakey and in need of a little glass of wine!

Hostel tonight is in an interesting part of town and the others staying here are quite a lot younger than me and all a bit perky and joiny in for my liking, hence my disappearing to have to use the net! Nevertheless, it is Jess's birthday so we do have to celebrate! The kids are all very excited about that!

Posted by Roisine 20:29 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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