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Carmel & Damian's Trip Home!

Well after 2 years living in Edinburgh we are finally making our way home via Africa & the Middle East! We will update our page as often as we can and look forward to reading your messages en route!

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

I apologise for the long absence and yes Damian and I are both fine and well back at home with mum in Auckland, New Zealand!We arrived home however could not update our page as we were suprising all our family and friends! Now that everyone knows we are back I am planning on going back over my entires and tidying it up and adding heaps more photos now that I have time. Watch this site!

Sunday, 04 February 2007

Location: Cairo, Egypt

After a great sleepin and a very funny prank wakeup call by young Benjamin, we met the others in the reception and said goodbye. They all had the same flight back to the UK while Damian and I leave for Dubai later tonight. So we are now sitting in an internet cafe which has the fastest internet speed ever and we are not allowed to upload any photos - arghhh!!! We have just had McDonalds (sorry but we are tired of being careful with food and there is no way there is anything left living in a McD's burger that will harm us!) Also it is the first time that going to McDonald;s has involved life & death! We had to cross a main road to get there and the roads and drivers in Egypt are crazy! There is no such thing as lanes and no one stops for you to cross so it is really just a game of dodgeball - maddness! So we are just filling in time before our transfer to the airport and a short flight to Dubai where we are on our own, free to do as we please for as long as we want.

On another note can I just point out that in some of the photos I am looking quite plump but I can assure you it is my money belt around my waist!! Also I was an idiot to think that we would lose weight in Africa as we have eaten so much it is silly and I must have put on weight. In between the odd dodgey food and being ill the rest of our meals have been really good!

Saturday, 03 February 2007

Location: Dahab, Egypt

Today no one wanted to leave, we had breakfast at Al Capones again and Osama had arranged takeway huommus and bread for us for the long drive back to Cairo. I must explain that the restaurants in Dahab are very casual with dirt floors, lots of pillows and a mixture of colourful shelter and lanterns. There are cats everywhere and also flies but it is very cool, you learn to work around them! Back to the hotel to pack and then we had just a small minivan for the 7+ hour journey. We all tried to sleep but it was quite uncomfortable and the weather had changed dramatically and was bucketing down and was really cold! There is bascially nothing but desert between Dahab and Cairo so bordem set in. We got back to the hotel about 8pm, had a very good dinner (we had stayed at the same hotel in Cairo 3 times now so we knew the food was good and we also knew the staff). Our other tour guide Mags came in to say hi which was really cool and we all thought he was just amazing. He had managed to get a wicked traditional drum for Jess within her budget which she had been searching for the whole time in Egypt!

Friday, 02 February 2007

Location: Dahab, Egypt

Our last full day in Dahab and we decided to have a separate girls and boys day. We have been very lucky on our tours and had great people on them. This trip has been great because we are all in our twenties and being aussies and kiwis have similar sense of humour which has resulted in some very funny times. After breakfast - by the way did I mention that we were getting so much food free at different restaurants! Free starters and desserts and this is on top of the food being very cheap - up to only 4 british pounds for a meal for 2 of us!! So after breakfast we did a bit of shopping then the boys went off 4 wheel motorbike riding in the desert while Emma and I went back to the hotel to sunbathe and then had back massages. The wind had stopped today so it was very hot however for some bizarre reason the hotel pool was baltic and you could only stay in for a couple of seconds at a time before it got so cold it hurt!
We had dinner tonight at a restaurant called Al Capones (which actually had been one of the places blown up when the 3 bombs went off in Dahab last year! You can still see the damage they did to the concrete path - very spooky.) The restaurant tout at this place was very good (Osama) and we had become friendly with him over the week. Tonight because we had been drinking we tried to sneak up on him but he saw us coming (not hard we were very loud) and thought it was all very funny. We had a great meal and also had our photo taken with Osama (poor guy) before heading off for some very funny games of pool and ping pong.

Thursday, 01 February 2007

Location: Dahab, Egypt

Woke up this morning and back into town for breakfast. On the way Damian advised me that he had in fact won the pool competition and therefore had a bar tab of 100 egyptian pounds!! Today Damian had many friends and I think had impressed some locals! Another relaxing day today until the afternoon when we went for a camel ride to a lagoon til sunset then rode back again. The weather was still sunny and the wind had died down a bit however the evenings could get very cold. The camel ride was fun but not as good as the donkeys! The boys were quite uncomfortable as they complained their crown jewels kept getting squashed with the rocking motion of the camel. We were lead by local guides but the boys were quite keen to take the reins themselves. On the way back they had the chance to speed up with our poor guides running behind yelling "stop, slow down"! We then came to a sculpture in the middle of a dust road, a bit like a roundabout and even though our guides were saying "left left" the boys thought it would be funny to lead the camels around the roundabout which meant all the camels just followed and one poor guide had to walk around as he had a hold of Jess camel. We all found it very amusing much to the confusion of our guides!

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Location: Dahab, Egypt

Today we once again wandered into "town" for breakfast. This itself is an adventure because it is the off season there are not that many tourists around so the restaurant touts have to work extra hard to get you to eat at their places. Some are funny others annoying. Our guide has been telling us which restuarants are the best however we are well aware it is really just which work with our tour company and which give him free meals and us discounts. Dahab is a great wee place as it is a tourist spot but it has not yet lost it's laid back hippy feel and is very small and friendly. Today we took a rust bucket of a 4 wheel drive jeep out to the "Blue Hole" which is a famous snorkling and diving spot. The water temp never falls below 19 degrees and even though it was still a bit windy the water was nice and warm. Snorkling here was amazing, the coral was huge and the fish were abundant and varied. We were in the water for about 1/2 hour then we all got out for a rest before 3 of us then headed back in the water at a different spot call the bells - amazing again. However this time the wind and waves meant by the time I got out I was freezing. Damian and Ben (a very funny australian guy in our group) bought a underwater camera and we hope to get some good photos from that.
After we got back from snorkling we had dinner and then headed to a bar called the "Sphinx Bar" which is a wicked wooden building owned by an egyptian guy and his australian wife. Damian and our guide Mohammed entered their weekly pool comp however the rest of us could not stay awake till the end so left Damian, Mohammed and Richard (NZ farmer in our group) at the bar while the rest of us went back to the hotel to bed.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Location: Dahab, Egypt

Well today was hard! Slept in then wandered into town for a cooked brunch then back to the hotel to lie by the pool and drinking beer! The weather is sunny but windy which can be a bit cold. Hoping it dies down by tomorrow as we are meant to be going snorkling and diving. As usual the internet connection is not so great but I have managed to get a few photos uploaded. Will try again in the next couple of days to get more on.

Monday, 29 January 2007

Location: Dahab, Egypt

Today was another early start to travel to Dahab which is a laid back small town on the red sea. Our tour company has been awesome and they suprised us today with a huge bus (instead of a minivan) which meant we could spread out and sleep. We also got to watch a DVD as the view of the desert can get a bit monotonus! On arrival instead of cabins they had upgraded us to a hotel with a pool! We are in heaven, the town is small but funky and we have the next 4 days to sleep in and do what we want! Swimming, snorkling, diving, eating, shopping and pretty much doing nothing is all on the list! In fact the shopping is sooo cheap we are going to find ourselves in trouble and have already decided to thrown out some old stuff to fit the new things in our packs! As you can tell we now have time for the internet and to also get our clothes washed - yay! I am hoping to now download some photos so fingers crossed. I cannot put in words how much of a good time Damian and I are having! It is by far the best trip we have ever been on! Don't be suprised if we are late home!

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Location: Cairo, Egypt

The trian ride did not take too long so we were back in Cairo by 9am. That afternoon our guide took some of us to the a perfume place which was quite interesting (much to my suprise) and then to the markets. Did not buy anything but it was interesting. Have I mentioned that we are travelling with a great group, we get on really well and everyone is very funny. However today we said goodbye to our guy from Mexico - Santiago who was heading back home today. The rest of us had an early night ready to go to Dahab tomorrow.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Location: Luxor, Egypt

Today we had the BEST day ever! Damian was tired but had recovered enough to come today. We were up very early to catch a ferry across the nile where our ride to the Valley of the Kings waited - Donkeys! I have never had sooo much fun or laughed soo much than that first hour when we all got on and rode our donkeys! They don't respond to anything you do or say and they are tiny! It was so early that hardly anyone was about but we were all screaming and laughing and the guards at the entrance to the tombs were laughing as we all raced to see who would get their first. The other tourists on the buses were all taking photo's of us! The tombs were amazing but then our guide lead us up over the really steep hills above the valley where we had an amazing view and we were all alone. We then hiked over the hills and down the other side to another temple but it was such an awesome way to approach this site and we were still early so we ahead of a lot of the other tourists who we coming around by bus. Our donkeys we waiting for us and we headed back - again with much yelling and laughing! Tonight it was back on the overnight train to Cairo.

Friday, 26 January 2007

Location: Luxor, Egypt

Today we left the felucca and visited Kom Ombo Temple. We then drove up to Luxor and stopped at Edfu to see another temple - very impressive. In Luxor we had lunch at Pizza Hut then spent the afternoon having a look around town. Damian started to feel ill and was quite sick and had to go to bed. I left him sleeping and went with the rest of the group to a evening visit to Luxor Temple which (unfortunately for Damian) i thought was the best so far! We went to the luxor markets and despite the intense hassling from the shop guys I managed to buy a nice kaftan from a nubian guy @ a good price. Did I mention egypt is ridiculously cheap! Then back to the hotel where Damian was still suffering from eating to much pizza (I had vegetarian pizza by the way and hence I was not sick!).

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Location: The Nile, Egypt

We got to spend the whole day today lazing on the felucca while sailing up the nile in the sun - pure bliss! The food was good but I got slightly sick but once again some good drugs did their trick. We stopped at a Nubian house and had some shessha and had hena tattoos done. We also stopped and built a fire on the shore and sang and danced with our felucca crew.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Location: Aswan, Egypt

You are spot on mum/chris - we have so much to update but on these tours we get little free time so can not keep this page completed as much as we would like.
Again thanks for your messages - they are very funny and we love hearing from everyone.
Yes - we are now in Egypt and have another small tour group but with a kiwi couple, australian brother & sister, mexican and english lady. On this tour I think we will get more free time so expect photos soon.
Damian and I were very tired after our flight from Kenya to Egypt due to the long stopover in Dubai however seeing & talking to Michael Campbell @5.30am made Damian very happy!
Our first day in Cairo we saw the pyramids and the sphinx!!!!!! We then caught an overnight train to Aswan which took longer than usual so we were on it for 18hours during which time none of us girls went to the toilets as they were soooo bad!! We are now in Aswan and about to go sailing down the nile on a felucca for 2 nights - looking forward to some rest!
We promise to update asap!

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Just a quick message today as we have spent all our time downloading photos. We have read your messages - thanks - will reply next time we get a chance. Bash thanks for your many message (just hit reply once!).
We are still having a great time, Damian has turned into a wildlife photographer and I have been reduced to fetching batteries when he yells! We are both now sunburnt and tired but happy. Have a look at our photos and we will update again soon.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Our last day of our tour was crazy! Once again (much to our frustration) we do not have much time to update so it iw will be brief. We were due to drive back from the Maasi Mara to Nairobi which takes 8-9 hours however it rained heavily on our last night so we knew the "roads" would be bad. There was our tour truck and 1 other and we set off together and stopped not far from the campsite as the other truck - Gecko was stuck already! We got helped them out and then got thru ourselves only for us to find the road washed out further on. While trying to find an alternative route both trucks got stuck badly twice and we were stranded for about 3 hours on the side of the road in the hot sun in the middle of nowhere! Eventually 2 tractors pulled us both free and we were on our way again. I was happily dozing in the truck when I woke up to our truck sliding! We ended up sideways on the road in an "Austin Powers" style. This time we were really stuck and the other truck left us! To cut a long story short after waiting quite a long while and doing nothing but play with the local children on the side of the road a truck pulled us free. Now you are not going to believe this but we carried on and got passed the "bad roads" and we were just begining to relax when I truck suddenly ran off the road and crashed! The steering shaft had broken - luckily no on was hurt but we had to leave our driver and cook behind while we jumped in a passing local minivan with our guide (much to the locals amusement) to get to the nearest town. To cut a long story short we made it back to Nairobi after 16hours on the road @ 9pm! Photos to follow.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Location: Arusha, Tanzania

Okay we have time for a quick update but will add photos later when we have more time and a more trustworthy internet connection.
We arrive safetly and our flights were fine, the first day of our tour we drove from Nairobi in Kenya to Tanzania and it took us hours due to a traffice jam - african style! We arrived late at night, set up our tents and had dinner in the dark. The next day we switched from our huge 4 wheel drive truck to a landrover and drove to the serengeti plain where we saw so many animals - it was amazing. We camped in the middle of the national park - no water, showers or anything and were not allowed to get up during the night as the animals wander thru! I had to get up about 5am and woke Damian up to come with me as we could here hyenas close by! All was good but that day Damian and I both had upset stomachs - nothing a few pills could not fix. We were up early for a game drive and by lunch time we had seen the "big five" which some people wait a whole tour for! Drove to another camp on the edge of the ngorongoro crater and had animals sniffing around our tents - I slept straight thru! More game driving - the best so far - THE most amazing place in the world is ngorongoro crater. We saw elephants really close up and zebra, wilderbeast, buffalo, hyenas, rhinos, warthogs. We are on our way back to kenya today then up into the Massai Mara region in the next few days. Damian and I are both loving every minute of our tour and are a bit sunburnt but happy. We have a small group with 7 people and 3 staff - the tuck only has 2 Phil Collins tapes so we are going a bit mad with that but will buy some new ones for our guide soon! Will update next time we can.

Friday, 05 January 2007

Location: Tisbury, England

Okay, well we are all set (I think) and fly out from Heathrow later tonight and should arrive in Nairobi Saturday afternoon. Bye Scotland, bye England and everyone we have meet over here in the last 2 years!

We will update this page when and where we can over the coming weeks.

Tuesday, 02 January 2007

Location: Tisbury, England

Anita & Nicky for some reason have both decided to not to drink this year except for a few key dates!

Anita & James both back at work today so Damian and I set about getting ourselves ready for our trip. Getting last minute stuff in Salisbury, doing final washing etc.

We leave this Friday and Damian is very relaxed about the whole thing, I on the other hand as per usual, am tense and trying to make sure we have not forgotten anything!

Monday, 01 January 2007

Location: Tisbury, England

Slept til 1pm - moved from airbed to couch - hungover - watched tv - drove back to Tisbury in evening.

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Recent Messages

From Caz & Carolyn
That poor ass - no not yours!!!
Word on the street is that the poor ass was put to sleep a short while after the picture was We see Carmel is still working on her tan even if she is in one of the hottest places. Try the North Pole next time!!!!

Love C & C XXX

Response: Hey you two! The problem is being in hot countries which are muslim so we have to cover up - thank you very much! Just kidding, were you two hanging out together.
From Chrissy mum
So good to hear you are having such a great time. Make the most of it all being so cheap - buy some lovely placemats for the future or something!! The have beautiful cotton there too! Hit those souks!! Apparently the diving/snorkelling is fantastic at Dahab - the blue hole or some such-enjoy! Have just been for an early morning walk along Milford beach_summer has arrived! xxxxx
Response: By the time we left Dahab we knew the names of the shop keepers! The Blue Hole was awesome.
From Vicki
Hello you happy travellers!
Sounds like you guys are having a wild time! I'm just feeling a teensy bit jealous as I sit at school trying to do my work but getting distracted by the travels of others.
Can't wait to hear about all your adventures in person!
P.S. Email us a shopping list for the midnight feast!
Love and hugs!
Response: Don't worry we will be home soon and then I am expecting a big night out @ Danny O'Doolans! List to follow! Cheers
From Bash
Hi Guys now that you are in
Egypt say Hi to Mummy

Keep safe Love Dad
Response: We have seen our fair share of mummy's!
From Helen
Hey guys. Carmel - Did I forget to tell you about the toilets on the Egyptian trains?? Oops Sorry.... How did you like the Felucca??? It Sounds like you're having a hectic time but I'm sure you're loving it. I agree with you about the Ngorongoro - it's brilliant hey. Now hurry up and get your butt back to NZ - I'm planning to head over in March for a couple days and I'm sure you've got 10 thousand photos for me to look at by now. Miss you loads. H -xx-
Response: Yes life coach - serious sleip up there. However good advice on bringing heaps of tissues - I am yet to run out and they are very useful!! Do you want to stay with me in March?
Carmel should it not be the other way around, that Damian gets the batteries, use Duracell next timethey never let you down lol. Hope you are both still having fun. The pictures are fantastic.


Response: Really? We found duracell not so good - energizer's working well though.
From chris/mum
Where are you guys? Nothing for 4 days! According to my reckoning you are in Egypt now. Presumably you are having trouble getting a place to send info. Hope you are enjoying Egypt - and when the requests for baksheesh get a bit too much, say - la shookran, in a very firm tone!!!!! Love, love, love xxxxxx
Response: I think I am now saying la shookran in my sleep!
From Bash
Carmy no toenail polish

Love Bash
From Bash
Hi Guys which ones Damian
in the hut

Love Dad
From chris B
Bloooodddy hell!! awesome picks, Damian (or should I say David Attenborough). All is well at FCA...........just bloody quiet and hence boring.
Snowed in the 'burgh the other day so yes it is very cold wet and windy. Keep up the good work.
Response: Egypt rocks - you were right about the early starts though!
From Andyt
Hey guys, glad to hear you're having a ball.
Damo, you've left at the wrong time as the weather on the rugby field is now around 5C with sideways rain. we know you would have loved it.
Take care and keep us all updated.
Response: Rain? What's rain? How have your games been?
From Glen & Rhys
hey guys,

good to hear and see your travels are going well!...looking forward to catching up when you return.... I can't type what Rhys is saying but you can imagine.....he did comment on the pic with "the hippos in the background" he was a bit confused thought it was Daimo swmming.......


happy travels see you soon
Response: Ha ha - I won't write Damian's reply either - something about Rhys and a baboon. See you guys & Cohen soon.
From sammy
Hi you two africans, we hope you have finally got a suntan.
Mum and I are sitting here reading about your arrival into Kenya. Just sounds amazing, see you soon
Response: Damian and I are really pleased that you have both been reading our page! Cheers
From Bash
Love the photos

Aroha Mai Dad
Response: Cheers - we have heaps more.
From Bash
Hi guys Happy New Year it looks like your Safari trips going well. Just arrived back from the Parihaka International Peace Festavil it was Fantastic from 8000 last year to 15000 this year aii your whanau send their aroha
Response: Sounds good!
From Carolyn
Hi Guys

Sounds like you are both having a great time - the dodgy stomachs aside.

Just thought I would let Carla know that I'm having a Mexican chicken Friday day today - yummo.

Take Care
Carolyn x

Response: No fair - I miss mexican chicken friday's already!
From amanda and ian
Hey you guys.
WOW sounds like you are having a ball and seeing some amazing things. loving your stories and yes it is still freezing and wet here in England. However Ian is nearly as dark as damien now he is back from NZ!!.
Love to you both
Amanda and Ian
Response: Damian loving the sun however we both peeling now!
From Chris
Very relieved to hear from you!
And great to hear you're having a good time - enjoy!
Try to eat cooked vegetarian only and lots and lots of fluids.
It's a great way to lose weight!!
Chris Hughes xxxx
Response: Well the lots of fluids are out as serious lack of toilets!
From julia
Great site, keep info coming. Hope showers have entered your lives bynow. Love to be with you to see animals, dont know about facilities. lots LOVE TO YOU BOTH XXX
Response: That has been the hardest thing - the toilets (or lack of)!
Hi Troops
finally got onto your site, hope you are having a good time.I have started the saving process (do you want me to send you out some strawberry tarts to your camp lol) miss ya loads take it easy
Response: about time you slack tart! Actually the food is really good so the strawberry tarts can wait!
From Ainslie

hope you guys are well and having lots of fun!! both Julie and my mum know you're gonna be in Kenya so please call them if you need anything or even just want someone to show you around Nairobi - Julie is quite excited about the idea of being a tour guide and she went to uni in New Zealand so excited about the Kiwi connection:)

I'm sure you'll have a great time but let me know how it goes!

Take care x Ains
Response: fantastic - we are on our way back to nairobi today just for 1 night but will give them a call @ end of our tour. Asante!
From Caroline
Hey Carmel - I've seen Sione's Wedding. Saw it when we were in Napier for the night. Are you contactable by phone at all while travelling? Guess my number lock wasn't on - it was 36 degrees, but back to a miserable 19 now!!!
Response: You can send me a text (not too many as it costs me) but we get a signal most days. very hot here.
From Vicki
Hi Carm and Damo!

Happy travels and am looking forward to seeing you guys real soon! xx
Response: Make sure mum has food ready for us for a midnight feast!
From Reg
Great to read all about your travels,watch out for the wild animals, cricket bat is waiting is wating for you at workshop
all the best.
Response: We have a frisbee with us while camping. So far no animals too close!
From Rodney
Happy New Year guys. Sounds like your having a good time. Apologises Damo: ate and drunk far too much over the fetive period!

Response: Sweet as.