Ho Chi Min city

After a very long and hot bus journey (due to the air con breaking down every two mins) we arrived in ho chi min just as it started to rain! Sol, Alex, charlie and I all went in search of a hotel that sol and Alex’s friends were already staying in. However when we got there the receptionist was very rude and unhelpful so we decided to look elsewhere. The boys did a quick scout around and managed to find a really nice place just across from where we were, what made it even better was that Alex managed to barter them right down so we got an amazing deal!

That evening sol, Alex charlie and I all went for dinner at a placed called five oyster that sol had found on trip advisor. The food was really good and we all had a lovely meal. When we had finished eating we went to meet sol and Alex’s friends who they had been travelling with before Vietnam. We had a few drinks out on the road before deciding to go and look for more of a bar type place to carry on in. As we were strolling up the road I spotted James, who we originally met at the farm stay, walking the other way. We had a quick chat and he recommended a good bar for us to try down the road that had free darts and pool. James had a super early flight to catch the next morning so he only stayed for one drink, but it was still nice to catch up with him. We stayed and played a few games of pool before calling it a night as we were shattered from the bus.

The next day we all met up again and had a surprisingly good breakfast across the road before heading to the war museum. There was loads of information about all different aspects of the war and was all very interesting despite how one sided it was. We were there for most the afternoon before one of the boys suggested an Adidas and puma outlet. It wasn’t too far away so we strolled over, only to discover it wasn’t much of an outlet at all, just a regular shop! We were in there for all of 2mins before heading back in the direction of our hotel. We were all a bit peckish so we stopped off at a bakery that James had recommended called ABC bakery. Later that night we were all supposed to go for dinner but Alex wasn’t feeling too great so it was just charlie, sol and I. We decided to try another place James had recommended as so far his recommendations had been fantastic!! It was a little street vender who did pork and rice for less then £1, an it was AMAZING!! However her portions were a little small so we went to get some spring rolls after which sadly were very disappointing in comparison!

The next day we had a flight booked back to Bangkok at about 5ish so as we didn’t have a full day and it was pouring with rain we decided to go to an indoor market with sol and Alex. It was a very sweet market that had loads of trinkey thing so u managed to get a couple of presents for people. Before we knew it it was time to go, so we said our goodbyes to sol and Alex and then set off for the airport, this time with tones of time to spare!!

Charlie and I loved Vietnam, we had the most amazing time and anyone who is heading that way should definitely make it a priority!

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Mantaray island

After all the boat issues we arrived at mantaray in the dark fairly late. Luckily the staff knew about the issues and still had dinner waiting for us which was lovely. Walking back to our room we bumped into some friends we had made at the very start on coral view island so we headed down to the bar for a couple of drinks.

We met a load of other people too, some of which were headed to new Zealand next as well so it was nice to swap plans and tips! As always when you go out and intend to only have a couple of drinks we ended up staying out till the early hours and getting pretty drunk as our crazy friend chris thought it would be a great idea to buy 3 bottles of champaign and make everyone drink it with him!!

The next morning we woke up to the sound of more rain 😦 and as I wasn’t feeling great we spent most of the morning in our room. After lunch the sun came out so we headed down to the beach for a spot of sunbathing and soaking up the sun while it lasted. Once we were showered and changed we headed up to dinner which was buffet style. As we had all had a pretty heavy night the night before we decided to just have a chilled one instead so we had a couple of cocktails and called it a night.

On our last day at mantaray we were delighted to wake up to beautiful sunshine. It was super hot and so we checked out of our room and headed straight for the beach. It was pure paradise. After laying in the sun for a while we went for a dip in the sea and the water was amazing. It was so clear and so warm, you really couldn’t ask for anything better. After another yummy lunch we headed back down to the beach as it was fish feeding time. One of the guys who worked at mantaray was handing round pieces of bread to everyone and it was as if the fish knew what time it was as they had all come right up to the edge of the water. There were tones of them, and they weren’t tinny little things either, they were about 4-5inches long and fairly see through other than the black stripes they had on there backs. Occasionally they would flip onto their sides and we realised they had silver tummies!! They went appserlutly crazy for the bread we had and all you had to do was put a corner of it in the water and they all started gabbing at it!

Once the fish feeding was over it was time to say our goodbyes and jump on the boat to our final island, octopus.

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Bare Foot and more rain!!

We also managed to convince our new friend Harry to come and join us with Paige and Casey on bare foot island so we had another nice group for the next island!

We arrived early afternoon and after being given a guided tour of our little resort were again shown to our “room”! I say “room” because it was more like a tent with a roof! It had a proper roof with a fan attached to it and the room it’s self had lights and electric sockets, but the walls and the doors of the room were more like a tent. You had to zip your self in and out of it and pull the flaps down at night like curtains! It was very cool!! What I would imagine glamping to be like!

We got settled and then headed down to the dive shop to find out what activities we could do. As it was around 4pm already we decided we would leave the proper activities to tomorrow and just grab some snorkel gear for now. We headed over to one of the 3 beaches bare foot had called sunset beach and tried but failed miserably to go for a snorkel! The tide was really low and it meant the coral was a mere millimetres from your stomach when trying to swim, which is dangerous for us and the coral. So we got out and tried clambering over some rocks to see if the water was any deeper that side. After sending poor Harry in to investigate he told us it was the same and so we gave up on the idea for that day, plus it was happy hour!!

We sat and had a couple of cocktails as the sun went down at the beach bar which was beautiful before having dinner. The food at bare foot was a bit more basic and was much smaller portions so we were a little disappointed. Once we had finished it was time for crab racing!! Charlie picked a great crab, or so we thought, so Casey picked him up to bring him over to our table, during the short trip the crab got a little exciting and tried to grab Casey, at which point she screamed and dropped him on his head! After some clear brain damage unfortunately he didn’t win, he didn’t even come close!! As we were getting over the disappointment of our rubbish crab it started to rain so we all ran back to our room and watched a movie before bed.

The next day we were up bright and early for breakfast and then headed straight out on a snorkel safari. They took us quite far out this time and was a little more professional compared to the free one on coral view, but bare foot is a marine park and they have a marine biologist on site so you would expect it to be. We again went to 2 different spots and this time the second was much better. We saw tones of coral and fish and had a lovely time.

We got back and had lunch and then Paige and Casey decided to go for a nap so charlie, Harry and I decided to go and rent out some kayaks for the afternoon. We paddled about for a while and the boys got in and did some more snorkelling while I held on to the kayaks. After a while I got a little bored so I left them too it and went back to get ready for dinner.

It started to pour AGAIN just before dinner so we had to eat inside instead. After dinner the staff were putting on another carva ceremony but this time I managed to get out of it!! After hearing some really interesting stories about how the Fijian people used to be we all decided to get an early night.

The next day Harry, Casey and Paige were due to be leaving the island in the afternoon but charlie and I had decided to stay another night. And it was a good thing we had!! It poured all day long, and I don’t just mean a light drizzle, it was full on tropical rain storms! So we spent the majority of the day in our room playing monopoly!! After lunch our new fwiends were due to leave us, but there had been some problems with the boat. They were told the boat wouldn’t be arriving for another couple of hours. So we all chilled out in the main hall where we have dinner and played cards and chatted, as it was still raining.

A few hours passed and this time when they asked where the boat was they were told that actually they had lost contact with it so they didn’t know when it would be arriving now. By this point people were starting to get a little frustrated so we all went back to our room and played MORE monopoly! It was now nearly dinner time so we all ran back to the main hall to try and get an update on the boat. This time we were told that the boat had left the harbour, but had broken down at sea and the boat that had gone to try and fix it had also broken down! Everyone was pretty pissed off as they had lost a whole day being stuck on an island because of boat problems! Eventually the boat turned up 7hours late, so we said good bye to our friends and as it was STILL raining we went and watched another movie in bed.

We woke up to more rain and got packed before checking out of our room. Our boat luckily was on time and we left before lunch to go to safe landing.

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Charlie’s birthday and Coral View

The next morning was Charlie’s birthday!! We had to be up at 6:30 to grab some breakfast before heading to the port to catch the boat. Once we arrived we had to check in, a bit like at the airport and get tags for our bags so they got taken off at the right island! We had decided that it made sense for us to go to the top of the group of islands we were visiting (called the yasawas) and then make our way back down over the 2weeks. However this did mean doing a 5hour journey on the boat to begin with.

As it was Charlie’s birthday I wanted to try and surprise him by booking us into the captains lounge on the boat. You get unlimited free alcohol and snacks in there as well as it being air conditioned, has nicer seats and big flat screen tv’s as well as your own personal waitress. It meant our 5hour trip was much nicer and charlie could drink as much as he liked, what more could he want on his birthday! We also made friends with a kiwi couple called Paige and Casey who were headed to the top of the islands too but not the same one as us, but we arranged to meet them back on the boat in a couple of days!

The island we were headed to was called coral view, and was really lovely. As soon as you arrive they great you on the beach with there welcome song and a cocktail. We then had lunch, which was buffet style but beautiful and fresh before being shown to our room. After a quick afternoon nap we decided to get into island living by just sitting in a hammock and reading our books for a couple of hours…….pure bliss!!

That night was a tradition Fiji themed night and so our dinner had been cooked in a tradition smoking hole. This is where they dig a large hole in the ground and line it with hot coals. They then place whatever it is they are cooking, in our case chicken and pork, into the hole on top of the coals and cover the hole with big palm leaves. It was very interesting to see, but I wouldn’t say it was my favourite meal that we had!!

To top of the evening, the staff also put on a special dance show for us, performing a variety of different Fijian dances. I made them all aware it was Charlie’s birthday so he got a few free beers from the staff and an extra special dance!! I will post the video so you can all see it (on Facebook)! It was amazing!! Once we had finished eating and watching the show we all chilled out on the terrace and had some drinks with everyone. We made a really nice group of friends on the island and it was nice because there weren’t too many people there so we all got to know each other pretty well.

After a while we noticed some of the staff sat around a big bowl so we went over and asked what they were up to. We discovered they were drinking carva which is fiji’s version of alcohol. They do have normal alcohol too but this is a special drink which is made from the root of a plant and they drink it to get drunk. Only it’s not what most people would think of when you get drunk. It doesn’t have the same effect on you as normal alcohol, but it’s hard to explain. So everyone sat around and tried some and it was VILE!! It tasted like mud water and was really disgusting!! So I swiftly declined the next cup and went and sat back down!! We carried on drinking and had a really nice chilled evening. I think it’s safe to say charlie had a memorable birthday!!

The next day the organisers were offering a free snorkelling strip so as charlie has decided this is his new fav hobby he jumped at the chance! We headed out on a little speed boat a stopped at a couple of spots, both we fantastic!! The water was crystal clear and so warm! At the second stop we all got out at a beach and there was slightly less to see there. While we were there the weather took a turn for the worse too and started to rain. Once we headed back it cleared up though and was lovely and sunny so I decided to top up my tan while charlie had a nap.

After more snoozing in hammocks and reading we had dinner and were supposed to be having a fire dancing show that evening but as the rain had started again we weren’t able to, so instead they put on a film for us on the big projector and we all watched it while hearing the rain pouring around us outside.

The next day we had to check out in the morning and didn’t get up to much as we had to be on the boat at lunch time. As we left the staff sang us there fair well song this time.

Once we were back on the boat we met back up with Paige and Casey and decided to go with them to bare foot island next as we weren’t able to stay at long beach as we had wanted to.

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Rain, rain, GO AWAY!!

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So for those of you that havnt seen the news, the one country in the world that you can guarantee sun……..is FLOODING!

As we left the fantastically named “sunshine” coast to fly back to Sydney we were concerned if our flight would even be going ahead as normal as they were expecting 80kph winds. Luckily we were fine and managed to get back on Australia day safe and sound, although we didn’t celebrate much as we were travelling all day 😦

The next day we woke up to, yep you guessed it, MORE RAIN, bright and early to start our sta contiki tour. Once we had met everyone it was time to jump straight on the coach and head for the blue mountains. Despite the run and fog it was really beautiful and charlie and I were actually really glad it was included on the tour as if it hadn’t been we deffinatly wouldn’t have made the 2hour journey up there! We went on a stroll down to a couple of beautiful waterfalls before heading to a local town for lunch where charlie and I had one of the BEST brownies we have ever had in our lives! (possibly the high light of the whole day!) before heading back to Sydney. One we got back we went back down to the rocks as there Sunday market was on so we had a wonder round and then headed back to our hotel to get cleaned up for dinner.
We went to darling harbour for dinner where charlie and I both tried kangaroo for the first time!! If I’m totally honest it wasn’t great, but wasn’t bad either, I just kind of tasted like beef but a bit tougher.

The next day we woke up and headed down to the harbour again!

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This time with our new fwiends!

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After we had been well and truly drenched we got taken to the delightful manly beach, but funnily enough, no one was in the mood for a swim, which was good really considering the beach was closed anyway due to the weather! So we jumped on the ferry and headed back to the harbour. From there we went down to paddeys market as it was all undercover so we could stay dry. We had a fun time exploring and grabbed a couple or bargains before stopping for lunch.
Later that night we had booked to do the harbour bridge climb and we were determined to enjoy ourselves despite the rain.

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Even with the rain we had the most amazing view over the city with it all lit up. We got very wet but it was defo a once in a lifetime opportunity that we were both really happy we did.

This morning we were up early to start out 7hour drive up north, only to be told an hour in that we were turning round and going back to sydney coz of the rain! So we are spending an extra night in Sydney today/tonight and then flying up to the gold coast tomorrow. Everything else is a bit up in the air at the moment so this tour might not turn out to be quite what we planned but I’m sure we will still have a great time.

On the up side, the weather in Fiji is looking great!!!

ZOO!!

So we went paddle bording, and was great fun, amazingly enough I didn’t fall in, can’t say the same for charlie though, after about 2mins he managed to stand up, got cocky and fell in!!! Unfortunately we couldn’t get any pics as we were both too scared we’d fall in and break our phones!! Only saw 1 jellyfish thank god so no one had to pee on each other!!
Didn’t do too much for the rest of the day just chilled by the pool until it started raining!

The next day it poured all day and has been since then!! So as there wasn’t a huge amount we could do we went to the cinema as charlie was desperate to go and see djoango, I wasn’t best pleased as this is now the second time we have been to the cinema since we got here but to be fair there wasn’t a lot else we could do!

Today despite the rain we still headed to Australia zoo and had the best day!! The rain meant the place was pretty empty so we got great seats for all the shows and didn’t have to cue long to have our picture taken with the koala bears!!

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As you can see we had loads of fun!! Saw all the animals fed most of them including the elephants, getting in some practise before we get to Asia! We also saw a great tiger show, the feeding of the otters, a crocodile show, a birds of prey show, pretty much every show you could think of really!! Charlie has quite clearly stated that today was his “best day ever!”

Tomorrow we head back down to Sydney, which consistently is also Australia day, so a bit of a shame that we will be spending most of it in the airport, but hey, what can you do! Then on Sunday we start our 16day tour which we are both ecstatic about!!