Coxlers On Tour

Adventuring around the world one country at a time on the quest to keep up with our ever growing bucket list.
  • Day77

    Day 77 - The End Of The Adventure

    April 25, 2017 in Hong Kong

    This is it. The end. The last of 77 days and 77 blog entries.

    We woke up in Hong Kong and went for brunch about 15 steps from our hotel. It was hard to decide if today should be a lazy day or an action packed day but seeing as we did most of the tourist attractions the first time we were here the former kind of won out.

    We sent our big bags off on the airport express, a great service where you can check in bags from a couple of train stations across HK and they'll (hopefully, we've not got back to the UK yet) get on your flight without the need to lug them around all day.

    We went for a walk around Nan Lian Gardens. The gardens were set up in 2006 and are aiming to become a UNESCO site. It's patrolled by an army of staff who want to stop all fun. Not limited to, and this is spelt out on signage, frolicking, bawling and brawling. We saw people stopped from taking fun group pictures and using selfie sticks by the guards. We stayed on the right side of the garden law and walked around uninterrupted. We went to the rockery where each rock had some profound calligraphy attached to it - see photos. We visited a room of beautiful ceramics made by a group of students and a room of important spiritual buildings made out of wood. It drizzled throughout. We also stopped by the most densely populated koi carp pond I've ever seen which was fascinating to watch for a while.

    Once the walk was done we surpassed ourselves in the over ordering stakes at a ''modern Chinese restaurant'. We did however manage to eat it all before heading off to visit the Chi Lin Nunnery. No nuns to be spotted but more Buddhist statues and rocks with poignant phrases. After that we were at a bit of a loose end so what else was there to do but hit Soho and happy hour cocktails for a few hours? £3.50 sangrias helped soften the blow of returning.

    Alas the time came and we're currently sitting at the airport. We went crazy and paid to come into the lounge so showered and watered we await our flight home. The lady serving noodle soup gave me extra fish balls because I wanted 'everything'. There's maybe some deep and meaningful rock worthy life message there.

    The trip has been amazing and as the cliché goes, time flies when you're having fun. The scary part is that we'll go back to normal life almost like nothing happened. I'm not going to miss the packing/unpacking, the sniffing of clothes to decide if they're re-wearable and the constant use of TripAdvisor to dictate my daily activities but that's about it. We're looking forward to seeing our friends and family and our reliable bed and shower. Plus the ability to cross roads safely and not worry about bumping monks.

    Thank you to everyone (all 6 of you I reckon) who have been reading the blog and commenting on what we've been up to. It made writing it worthwhile. Hopefully we'll be back for another trip one day. See you soon UK.

    Helen and Matt xxxx
    Read more

  • Explore, what other travelers do in:
  • Day76

    Day 76 - The Final Countdown

    April 24, 2017 in Hong Kong

    Our penultimate blog - don't worry blog fans, yesterday might have felt like the last day but there's 2 more fun days of semi-transit to write about before the bitter end!

    We started our Monday adventure at Brisbane airport where their free wifi log in page told me that I don't have a valid first name. So I changed it to a stereotypical old school Aussie name, Sharon, and it worked. (Yes slow day)

    Matt's highlight of the day was at security. A guy a few in front of us pulled a bottle of wine out of his carry on and put it into a tray whilst the rest of the queue giggled knowing that would be a no no. Then a few loose pills fell out on to the counter cueing more giggles. Obviously the wine was binned. And I think it's probably a story where you had to be there.

    I ate a classic sausage, egg and chips breakfast, bought an eye liner - well we did have $30 to spend - and then it was time to board the Quantas.

    The flight was really good. I like long day flights, an excuse to watch films without pressure to sleep. Our choices below with critique:

    Helen
    - Edge of Seventeen - I enjoyed it. Similar tone to Juno. Funny.
    - Arrival - Excellent, if a little confusing. I did take a nap part way through. I cried twice.
    - Lion - Matt and I watched at the same time. Excellent again and I cried three times. I'd blame the emotion of flight but I'd have cried on the ground too. The little boy in it was excellent.
    - Singin' In The Rain - Cause I've never actually seen it that I remember! Very good, not the story I imagined, for some reason I thought it was sad.

    Matt
    - Arrival - Good, lost its way towards the end.
    - Room - Good, better than expected.
    - Lion - Really good, but unfortunately got something in his eye towards the end 😉

    Hong Kong arrival all smooth. Our hotel is on Hollywood Road and has a weird Hollywood theme - see photos. There is however a choice of firm and soft pillows for our last hotel night. Then again the Premier Inn has that.

    We went to watch the Light Show after missing it when we were here in February. I did warn Matt it was a tad underwhelming. It's cheesy but entertaining. My favourite bit is when they introduce the buildings at the start 'FINANCIAL TOWER 2' *quick light flash* 'FINANCIAL TOWER 1 ' *quick light flash* and so on. I love the sky line so always worth it for me.

    Dinner was the tapas restaurant I went to for my birthday last year and a Tesco buying trip favourite, Iberico. The manchego and black pudding potato bombas were excellent in particular. But all good, none of it made me cry. We had a couple of drinks before heading to bed watched over by creepy mirror Hollywood stars ready for our last day.
    Read more

  • Day75

    Day 75 - Total Wipe Out

    April 23, 2017 in Australia

    Last day in Byron and almost feels like the last proper day of our mega adventure. From here on in it's really just a couple of days of travelling with a day in HK put in for good measure.

    We had another mega brunch (well, more lunch). No halloumi this time and hash browns were trendy smashed browns i.e. roasted new potatoes squashed a bit but still delicious. Sinead and I even managed a mimosa, well we are on holiday.

    We headed down to the beach for a couple of hours before Sinead and Lewis sadly had to leave us to fend for ourselves. We went and played wave jumping in the sea. I'm fine when the waves are gentle, even tall gentle, but now and again a bigger, frothier (right word??) one would come along and I'd swim-run like I'd seen a shark and still inevitably get a face full of water. It didn't help when Matt tried to swim a wave, rugby tackled me over almost pulling my bikini bottoms off in the process only for me to get hit by a second wave. I'm sure very amusing for anyone watching but it meant time for me to get out and leave him to it.

    We said bye to the guys and mooched around Byron for a little while listening to more bad buskers and a dreadlocked young guy tearfully on the phone to his boy/girlfriend telling them he deserved more respect and someone who loved him (and something about knowing he didn't have a car??). I obviously leaned slightly closer to eavesdrop and would have offered some message of solidarity if we didn't have to go catch our bus.

    Two hours later we were in Brisbane sitting on the street trying to get Glastonbury tickets. No joy sadly but we consoled ourselves with a Thai meal at a restaurant highly recommended by our receptionist before packing and being sad that we leave Oz tomorrow. And sad that the walls of the motel are thin and we had a loud couple chatting/shouting next door. I did bang on the wall then realised it was only 20 past 10 so cut them a little slack.
    Read more

  • Day74

    Day 74 - Musical Toilets

    April 22, 2017 in Australia

    After all the drinks last night we started our day in a cafe eating a lot of halloumi and hash browns (the inclusion of halloumi as a staple breakfast item here makes me very happy). I did manage to knock a whole container of cutlery over and on to the floor which snapped everyone out of their sleepy/hungover Saturday morning comas.

    We spent some time on the beach whilst we waited to head over and join our kayak tour. Sadly when we rocked up to the kayaking place they told us they'd text us a couple of hours ago to say the conditions were too bad and so it wasn't safe/fun to go out which was disappointing. (The text didn't actually come through for about another 5 hours). Instead we walked up to the most easterly point of mainland Australia and the lighthouse. It was a killer walk, well for us anyway. Sinead and I only got through it by counting steps and making weird noises. We were rewarded at the top of the hill with a dolphin sighting - if you squint slightly in the right place in the photos you might see a fin... It started with one then two until there were about 5 swimming up the coast line.

    At the lighthouse thankfully there was a cafe where we had huge ice creams and checked out the bush turkeys. And we found the road route down which took us about a quarter of the time it took to come up.

    Public toilets are fun in Byron. When you get in there and electronically lock the door a voice recording tells you you have 10 minutes before the door will automatically open. At 1 minute to go you will get a 'loitering alarm'. Then you get some lift style music (highlights included Burt Bacharach). Byron in general is a pretty unique place. On one hand very hipster and the other very hippie. And as the campsite man told us there are one or two people who have clearly been enjoying a recreational substance. There's people selling hand made jewellery, or walking around with dreads and bare feet, or doing terrible non-official busking around every corner (you've not lived until you've heard Ain't No Sunshine with almost the right words sung by a man sitting outside Aldi). Several people smelt like they needed a good wash but I think we were the odd ones out seeing as we weren't carrying skateboards and guitars.

    We went back to our respective AirBNB's for a while before reconvening on our patio to finish the Bundy rum. We headed into town aiming for Miss Margarita's. There was an hour queue so we went to the hotel owned by Paul Hogan of Crocodile Dundee fame. A band we're setting up who looks like what Hanson would look like if they went off the rails. Sadly before they started we got the call for our table and ate our body weight in Mexican food. I've never seen Matt so stuffed even after half of his burrito. The food was very filling but good. We did manage to fit in a couple of margaritas and some tequila each - apparently shots are not allowed in Byron but a 30ml measure of tequila in a big glass is ok. Go figure.

    We're all getting a bit old now and despite trying to continue the party in another bar the combination of too much food and tequila finished us off and we left the party at midnight in our Uber before we fell asleep at the table. Rock and roll yet again.
    Read more

  • Day73

    Day 73 - Other People To Talk To!

    April 21, 2017 in Australia

    The sun was back to shining in Surfer's Paradise this morning so we went for a quick walk on the (very busy) beach before heading to town for breakfast and our mini bus to Byron. We arrived and headed to our AirBNB to meet Donald our host. A bit of a hippie but very nice and helpful. Plus he left us cookies and chocolates in the room which was much appreciated by Hangry Helen.

    We walked into town and had lunch at a place called Railway Friendly. Not sure if that means that trainspotters are very welcome. We had a few drinks in there waiting for our friends Sinead and Lewis to arrive. Matt has been good friends with Lewis for years after meeting through work and him and his girlfriend moved to Sydney at the start of the year. It's very nice to see familiar faces and have someone else to talk to (no offence to Matt, and he says the same, but over 70 days in each other's pockets is a long time). Drinking and talking is pretty much how the rest of the day and evening panned out. We ploughed through our bottle of Bundy Rum, went to a fancy Italian place and a bar called Balcony where I danced with some random girls in the toilets. Other than that uneventful but very nice.Read more

  • Day72

    Day 72 - Serving Time In Surfer's

    April 20, 2017 in Australia

    It's Matt back on blog duties today.

    The day started with the unexpectedly sad return of the Sweat Box. After a ropey start with the leaky roof we've both grown to love it. It's like reversing an oil tanker and the handbrake is very dodgy but it served us proud and I reckon we covered more than 2,000km in it all in all. Think some of the sadness was also the realisation that the trip is nearly over.

    At the rental place the bloke working there had brought his dog, Diesel, to work, it had a limp and we felt sorry for it so I went over and stroked it but made my hand go black and smelly (sure you're thinking wow great story -sorry slow news day).

    After an Uber to the bus depo we made our way to Surfers Paradise. We've tried to avoid backpacker places but as we're only here for one night we booked a private room in a hostel. It's actually a room in a two bed apartment, it's ok but furnished like a young offenders institute. The helpful lady on reception told us they organise a bar crawl that starts at 10pm, given we've been in bed by that time most nights and I'm double the age of the other guests we didn't attend.

    We went to the Sushi Train for lunch (Yo Sushi knock off) and then attempted a walk down the beach but it started pissing it down so we took refuge in a Macca's (been in more McD's this trip than the last ten years combined) and used their wifi to workout we're actually staying just outside Surfers Paradise and had been walking in the wrong direction.

    After this minor setback we regrouped back at the hostel. I had a reasonably priced beer and Helen fancied a wine. Funnily enough the wine list here isn't extensive, there's one option; purchase a whole bottle of white for $9 (£5.40). This was the same cost as one glass in Brisbane last night so the only question to answer was how many plastic cups do you want with it. Helen polished off half the bottle (tasted surprisingly decent apparently) before gifting the rest to a backpacker from Sweden called Adrian who seemed a bit incredulous that someone was giving away alcohol.

    Dinner was at a Greek place where we got a mixed grill to share before a drink or two then back to the cell, sorry room. The hostel yoofs were pre drinking before the bar crawl so we'd not even stayed out past the start of their night.

    Byron Bay tomorrow (in an airbnb apartment to ourselves) to spend the weekend with some friends from back home who now live over here so we're looking forward to that and might even stay up past 10pm.
    Read more

  • Day71

    Day 71 - Small World, Big Pineapple

    April 19, 2017 in Australia

    Our last big (ish) drive today and therefore our last full day with the Sweat Box. We said goodbye to the Noosa caravan park and pootled to Hastings Street, the trendy touristy street we visited on day one, and picked up some artwork for the house (which makes it sound fancier than cheap prints of Australian animals).

    Next stop was Eumundi Markets where Matt almost ran over the parking attendant which could have been a sour end to the camper adventure. Unlike the vast majority of the markets we've visited so far no one was shouting Missy Missy/Boss Man at us which was nice. There was a vast array of stores from psychics to a man selling ammo out of the back of a truck (?!) plus your more typical ones selling jewellery and smoothies. We had a bit of a binge for lunch. We both had empanadas (aka posh Greggs), Matt tried to take himself back to Vietnam with a banh mi and I had amazing calamari from a stall run by a couple from York where the other customer being served was also from that neck of the woods (today's 'it's a small world' event number one)

    We hopped back into Sweaty and headed towards Brisbane. Unfortunately for Matt I'd spotted an important landmark we had to visit. No, not a geocache, but 'Queensland's most Southern biggest thing', also known as the Big Pineapple. Inside said big pineapple were two floors dedicated to displays about the growing and canning of pineapple sponsored by a canned pineapple company and a top food observation deck. There was a sign which said as the Big Pineapple was a heritage site they had to get permission to spruce it up. Permission clearly hadn't been granted yet as it was a bit run down but coolly kitsch. Inspired, I even styled my hair into a (small) pineapple to match.

    Finally we did get to Brisbane and excitingly went to a DIY car wash and had fun cleaning Sweaty - not that he looks much better as most of what appeared to be dirt was chips and rust. Then even more excitingly we cleared out the camper and packed. Whilst drinking beer at least. Matt chatted to a guy to told us Byron Bay (our next main stop) is full of druggies, hippies and unemployed people and we watched loads of cockatiels in the tree above our freshly cleaned van. This is campsite living at its finest.

    We bussed into town and went for tapas and drinks. Brisbane has a very pretty skyline and it's a shame we're not seeing much more of it before moving on to Surfer's Paradise tomorrow. On the bus home we did have Small World moment 2 though when one of the guys from our Fraser Island group tour got on. I know we're still in the same country but what are the odds? We had a quick chat before his stop and we managed to get off at the right place for our last night in the Camper Van. Eeeek it's becoming very scarily close to the end.
    Read more

  • Day70

    Day 70 - Loop-di-loop

    April 18, 2017 in Australia

    Another day, another huge breakfast. This time without the crazy parking or queueing from yesterday.

    We decided we'd take another piece of John Senior from the Info Centre's advice and go on the 'Northern Loop' drive around the upper roads of Noosa. We started with Boreen Point knowing there was a lake and a potential to kayak. Well the lake sure was there but I'm guessing now Easter has gone so too have recreation businesses on a Tuesday. In fairness the lake was both brown and rough so probably not desirable conditions for water sports. We wandered around for a while spotting brightly coloured birds before heading to Elanda. Matt agreed to do a walking trail with me only for the potential of seeing a kangaroo. We took the shortest 5km trek and despite bug spray got dive bombed by midgies as we climbed over fallen trees, I guess maybe a remnant from the cyclone. Luckily Matt did spot 3 kangaroos on the path ahead - see blurry outlines in the photos - so there was no tantrum from him.

    We got hit by the 'no lunch service after 2' debacle and this forced us off loop back to the centre for a late lunch so we jumped on to the Central Loop drive instead and headed for the Botanic Gardens and Lake Macdonald for a stroll. We've hardly seen another soul as we've walked around today, a nice change from yesterday's craziness.

    We were torn between watching the Broadchurch finale and embracing the actual town we're lucky enough to be in. Embracing prevailed and we went on a hilly, bendy drive to Mount Tinbeerwah. The Sweat Box coped very well with the challenge. Luckily the steepness of the journey meant the walking part to the top and the lookout point wasn't too taxing and we got there just in time for another sunset. They're getting kind of boring now (not).

    As fast as we raced for sunset we raced home even quicker to watch Broadchurch, drink Bundy rum and eat a Thai takeaway. The end of the trip is rushing close now, just a week till we fly home!
    Read more

  • Day69

    Day 69 - Nuddies

    April 17, 2017 in Australia

    Things we've learnt today. When you find a famous street in a town that sounds really nice for breakfast but there's a lot of online complaining that the parking is a nightmare you probably shouldn't go there on Easter Monday. Meet Hastings Street, Noosa. Lots of boutique-y shops and places selling smashed avos on sourdough whilst being next to the beach during great surfing conditions. We crawled along in both directions before finding a locals Lions Club (like the Rotary Club maybe? I'm not sure) taking $10 off people's hands to park in a park. We hangrily bit their hands off so we could join the hipsters and holiday makers in a trendy cold pressed juice promising to make you glow.

    And glow I did. Though that could have been from the sweat from the 10km walk which followed. On the advice of kindly 'John Senior' at the Info centre we took the Coastal Walk through Noosa National Park. As the name suggests it involves cliffs and beaches with not only great views of surfers and sea birds but also, if you follow the walk to its end, a nuddy beach. I wanted to take my phone out to take pictures of the beautiful scenery but kept it firmly in my bag for this section in case I got accused of saving photos of wrinkly old men for later use.

    Beyond the nuddies we made it to Sunshine Beach. Other things we're learning here is that lots of places stop serving lunch at 2 so when we rocked up at 2.45 ravenous we had to go on the hunt a little but we found an establishment that'd provide us with pizza and nachos before anyone got hurt. Phew! We took the bus back to Noosa Heads rather than slogging back along the cliffs and retired to the camp site for laundry and van sweeping. The camp site is pretty much deserted now as in Queensland all the kids go back to school tomorrow.

    Cinderella did get to leave the camp site again though. We phoned ahead to a restaurant on the Marina called Pier 11 just in case on this busy Easter Monday we needed a reservation. They excitedly took it which isn't surprising seeing as when we rocked up there were precisely 4 people in there, all of whom left before we even finished our first drinks. We had an awesome meal though. The staff were beyond friendly (I suppose as they only needed to focus on us). I ordered one wine and they made me blind taste it with another red they thought was better before I made my final choice (same price, though a very clever rouse if it hadn't been), we chatted to a waitress fishing off the marina, they pointed out crabs swimming past and couldn't do more to make sure we were happy. The food was some of the best we've had including duck poutine I need to try and re-create. All in all a super end to a super day (especially the nuddies).
    Read more

  • Day68

    Day 68 - K'Gari Part 3

    April 16, 2017 in Australia

    Our final day started again with a didgeridoo wake up call at 6.30am as Dave was keen to us to get to Lake Mackenzie before the hoards. Matt is convinced a dingo was sniffing around our tent in the night (the tents aren't inside the dingo electric fence perimeter). I slept through obviously.

    Lake Mackenzie is stunning. The water is so clear and blue and the sand so white. The water is so clear as unlike most other lakes there is no water flow in from another stream/river/creek, its completely closed, so all the water is rain water. There's also aluminium in the water which binds to all organic material and sinks it to the bottom. This is why the middle of the lake is darker blue and the organic material can settle in the deep part without being kicked around by human feet. The sand is so white as the surround plant life pulls any nutrients out leaving mostly silica. It's apparently a great exfoliant so we were all rubbing it in our hair (well apart from Matt) and on our skin. In fairness my face did feel very smooth afterwards. Lots of comedy sand photos ensued. This is also where Dave lifted anyone who wanted to be Dirty Dance lifted. I'm not sure my travel insurance covers injuries caused by film re-creations so I passed on that. Matt and two of the others decided to swim to another beach around the lake which I very much advised against as it was far but they cracked on and came back exhausted from the lake currents. I preferred watching from the sand and enjoying the amazing scenery with all the other sensible people (note from Matt - it was so tiring we had to walk back rather than swim and there was a point when we were swimming against the current when I thought I might be end up with the organic matter but we did see an eagle).

    I was back in the Lead Car for the final day as some people wanted to switch out of it (more about the sideways seats in that one than the playlist from Dave's iPod I think) so I was back to sing-a-long songs. Matt stayed in the car from day 2 as a slight hangover and sideways travelling/loud tubeless singing do not mix. Being in the lead car also meant I learnt about the back catalogue of a band called The Beards who have 4 albums of songs about, you guessed it, beards. Very weird but kind of amusing. Look them up if you need a laugh (though some of the songs are a bit sweary and crass).

    Our very final trip stop was at Central Station, a place on the island where bush meets rainforest. We had lunch there and Dave gave us a tour around. This is where he dead lifted a 250kg tram wheel axle. He also showed us what berries we could eat - always best done with advice - and we checked out a board walk over a creek where Butchulla women would give birth (and still could now if they so chose to). Sadly it was then time to leave and we travelled back to the barge home.

    We had a bit of a queue for the barge so stood on the beach. I had a tiny jelly fish put on my shoulder though luckily not all jelly fish sting! We also spotted dolphins and another dingo before boarding our barge homewards and having to say goodbye. We had an incredible time on our trip to K'Gari. It was an expensive group tour but worth every penny. Better start saving to go back!

    We had a quick drink in Rainbow Beach before heading to Noosa. It's supposedly an hour and a half drive but we hit a gravel road which slowed us down. We pulled over to check for a better route and luckily a helpful farmer was putting his bins out with his dogs (/saw us across his driveway and came out to investigate under the pretence of putting bins out) and helped us out with a route. We were very glad to arrive at the camp site as we were exhausted. The site is absolutely chocca with kids on scooters everywhere to try and dodge with the Sweat Box. We couldn't even muster the energy to go out for dinner so I cooked tuna pasta and pesto, the classic student dish, and we pretty much passed out after a shower. I pretty much emptied half the sand contents of Lake Mackenzie into the shower as post exfoliation it was all in my swimsuit. Whoops.
    Read more

Never miss updates of Coxlers On Tour with our app:

FindPenguins for iOS FindPenguins for Android