Joined April 2015 Message
  • Nov25


    November 25, 2017 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    After a quick run in the morning we hopped into the car and drove the scenic route to Akaroa, a small french colonial town on the coast. We had a wander around, with David wishing he could buy every boat in view while Kerry was more interested in what flavour of fudge to buy. We had a good lunch of fish and chips and a steak sandwich (despite poor service) and sat slowly burning in the sun.
    We decided to head back to Christchurch early as we had been invited over to Talia's (a British medic Kerry met during orientation) for a BBQ. David convinced Kerry to try out the new car, but soon after setting off the battery light lit up and then did every exclamation mark on the dashboard. Feeling this was not normal, and slightly panicked, we pulled off the windy roads into a car park. We declared the car dead at the scene.
    We rang our road assistance to come rescue us and were given an ETA of two hours. Instead of sitting in the car melting for this time we decided to hike up the nearby trail, Otepatoteu Scenic Reserve, to get an even better view over the bay. After a total of three and half hours our tow truck arrived and loaded the BMW on to the back. Another hour and half later we dropped the car off at the garage and by 9pm we we dropped home. What a long day and we missed the BBQ :(
    We had a quick shower and still headed over to join the other Poms (and one Kiwi) for a drink... which ended in us wandering back to our place gone 1am.
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  • Nov22

    Port Hills

    November 22, 2017 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌙 10 °C

    We bought a car today!
    After Kerry's second day of orientation our car was dropped off and we headed up to Port Hills, which are just south of the city, to make use of our new purchase: a 2002 BMW 318i. From here we got a beautiful view across Christchurch, the coast and the mountains in the distance. We sat with a magnum each and watched the sun set.Read more

  • Nov12

    First Week in Christchurch

    November 12, 2017 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

    We have been living in Christchurch for just over a week and it has been a busy few days. We had been staying in an Airbnb flat while we searched for a place to call home. After what felt like a hundred viewings and a million miles walking around the city between them we have finally moved in today. Our new place is a ground floor flat in a large house which has been split into four flats with a shared garden. We have met two of the other three couples - one set also British.
    On one of the first days we found a meetup group hosting a BBQ which we went to. It was an interesting experience. We were the youngest ones there by far but everyone was really friendly, asking about where we had come from and why. A few of the others had emigrated from the UK, with one couple only arriving a few weeks earlier.
    We finished our first weekend at the New Brighton Firework Display to the theme of Star Wars to celebrate bonfire night, The fireworks were spectacular bar the commentary from a group of local teens behind us. The bus back to the city was a trip to try to forget.
    We are now feeling a little more settled in our new city, but it is still feeling a little (lot) surreal.
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  • Day35

    The long journey to Christchurch

    November 2, 2017 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    We were up early to check out and walk to the airport. After checking in we got a croissant and drink for breakfast and waited for our first flight at 9am to Kuala Lumpur. Apart from the lack of leg room the flight went smoothly and just over three hours later we arrived in KL. It took ages to get through immigration but it wasn’t a problem as we had a long layover.
    Luckily we could drop our bags off early and had a drink before going through security. We then watched a film before getting some lunch whilst David had a beer. Then we boarded our flight ready for the long haul to Auckland, as soon as we got on we realised it wasn’t going to be the smooth half full plane we had got from London. Luckily we managed to change to two seats near the window giving us a bit of our own space (and a bit further from the kids). The food was rubbish and our moods matched by the time we landed. After finding our way over to the domestic terminal we got a tea, pie (for Kerry) and a McDonalds breakfast muffin (for David). A few hours and a short flight later we landed in our new home, Christchurch. We got a shuttle to our Airbnb before heading out for a pizza and bottle of wine. This was followed by an early night as we were both shattered.

    After having a fantastic 5 weeks travelling, we are both looking forward to what the next year ahead will bring us.
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  • Day33

    Last day in Vietnam

    October 31, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    After breakfast we left on the tender to go and explore the "amazing" and "surprising" cave. 100 steps later we were at the mouth of the cave before descending into and through the three chambers. Although it was beautiful, it was slightly ruined by the snake of people and multitude of coloured lights, our tour guide explained it was discovered in 1901 by fishermen but now has thousands of people visit it each day. We returned to our cruise to check out and watch a cooking demonstration for fried spring rolls where we both got to roll our own. We had lunch including what we had all made as the boat headed back to the harbour. Again, although the scenery was gorgeous, we saw evidence of the damage the number of boats were causing such as rubbish and dead fish in the waters around us. We hope that despite the demand, tourism doesn't destroy such a beautiful place.
    Once back on land we faced the four hour transfer back to Hanoi. We were pleasantly greeted by the hotel we had previous stayed at (Hanoi Stella Hotel) who gave us a drink and looked after our bags whilst we went to find a coffee and doughnut. A taxi picked us up and took us to our last hotel of the trip. It's a simple airport hotel, but the staff were very friendly and the food was cheap. We are just finishing packing up ready for our horrendously long journey onto New Zealand starting with our first flight at 9am tomorrow.
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  • Day32

    Exploring more of Halong Bay

    October 30, 2017 ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    An early start for our morning Tai Chi session at 6:30am, most people made it and we all practiced our balancing whilst watching the sun rise over the cliffs. Following breakfast the rest of the group, who were on a one night trip, boarded the tender whereas we and a German girl waited for another boat to take us for our day trip. We were taken to meet other people on a two night cruise from other boats and headed off to see the maze/honeymoon cave. Here we explored different chambers within the cave, having to crawl to get between them. The tour guides used the stalactites and stalagmites as musical instruments and pointed out "animals" in the rocks. The rest of the group then went kayaking whilst we decided to finally relax in the sun (and get sunburnt). The bay was quieter than the others we'd seen in Halong and we enjoyed this. Lunch was served; multiple plates of rice, seafood and meats kept appearing until we were stuffed. The boat then took us to the pearl farm we had seen the day before so we stayed on board to have green tea and fruit before transferring back to our own boat. It was nice to meet some different people and by the time we arrived back the new one night tour group had arrived. We watched the sunset from the top deck over a cocktail or two before dinner.Read more

  • Day31

    Halong Bay

    October 29, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌙 22 °C

    We were picked up from our hotel in Hanoi and set off for the four hour drive to Halong Bay with one stop at a ceramic/embroidery workshop. We arrived at the marina and after a short wait we boarded the boat (nearly without our bags) to be greeted by a welcome cocktail. We then had lunch whilst the boat headed out into the bay. The food was great and they have kindly adapted the menu so Kerry doesn’t have to suffer through three days of seafood.
    The first stop was a pearl farm where we had a tour round, unfortunately due to poor English we’re still not sure how they culture new pearls. Next we went kayaking as the sun set over the limestone peaks, Kerry particularly enjoyed David’s ability to kayak us around in circles. As we got back on the boat happy hour started (buy two get one free). We enjoyed some cocktails and got to know another English couple (Cat and Reece). There was a chance to go swimming but with the high risk of jellyfish stings we passed, one girl unfortunately took the chance but got stung. Dinner was then served - a seafood BBQ (pork for Kerry).
    We later tried our luck at some squid fishing but during our hour long attempt only Cat was successful! We gave up and went to sit on the top deck instead. There was a big party boat nearby, so we spent most the night listening to old English pop remixes as we try to get to sleep (feeling very old).
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  • Day30

    Ba Be Lake

    October 28, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    After a better night's sleep and breakfast (cold eggs, bread, steamed sweet potato and banana fritters), we joined a bigger a group and boarded a boat to explore Ba Be lake. After taking in the beautiful scenery the boat headed up the river to a local Tay village. Here we walked through the village and were invited into a local's home for bananas and corn wine. At the end of the village we got back on the boat and continued up to Dong Puong Cave. We walked through it and spotted thousands of bats in the roof of the cave. Long had inscribed David <3 Kerry in the sand as we bordered the boat again.
    We continued up the river to meet the minivan where we drove for around an hour before stopping for lunch. After lunch we left the rest of the group and headed back towards Hanoi. Long asked if David wanted a beer, we agreed and so we stopped off at a café overlooking a river and met one of his friends. 3 jugs of beer later we were just about to leave when a local man came up to us and chatted to Long in Vietnamese. Long translated that the man was very happy that we were tourists travelling through their country and learning about their culture. He then ordered another jug of beer and explained in his culture they do 'bottoms up' and down their whole drinks. Two more beers down David was now pissed. After a quick visit to the happy room (Long's name for a WC) we got back in the bus. Soon after David needed a wee, again. When we asked the driver (as Long was comatose on the front seat) if we could stop somewhere he just said "45 minutes to Hanoi", so we woke Long and asked when we could stop. A quick order to the driver and we had pulled over onto the central reservation of the motorway and Long guided David to a bush to relieve themselves. Once more comfortable, we made the final journey back to Hanoi, being dropped outside of our next hotel. We said our goodbyes to Long and Long.
    When we tried to check in, the manager came over and said he would upgrade up to his better hotel, with lift and balcony room. We agreed as he said it was only 2 minutes away. Outside we realised he meant by motorbike, so both hopped on the back and were sped through town to another hotel. Up 4 flights of stairs (no lift) we arrived at a outdated, damp twin room. Unimpressed, but too exhausted to argue we agreed to stay. The manager reorganised our pickup for the morning and got new sheets (as the previous were ripped). Hungry we went out for dinner to a restaurant recommended by Long; the food is all cooked in different stations around the seating area in middle. After some chicken, bamboo-steamed rice and beef Pho (noodles) we were done for the day.
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