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james and emma's travel diary

Hi and welcome to james and emma's Travel Page and thumbs up to those of you reading this instead of doing that work task, assignment or extremly boring household chore. This is where we will be keeping a record of our travels for all of you to read.

Diary Entries

Saturday, 07 April 2007

Location: Les Allues, France

Glaciers and Bonfires

The snow has left us… and I don’t think it’s coming back!

As seems to be the tradition of the French Alps this year, we have had another three weeks of glorious blue sky days since our last fall of snow. It is astounding how quickly this lot has disappeared. I guess the million pommie kids racing in Meribel hasn’t really helped (we had the British Championships – they practice on grassy hills before coming out here…)
We have had a really gorgeous couple staying with us while their son was racing – Aussie bloke from Brisbane in fact! Their son, who’s 10, has just had 3 months at a ski training camp in Austria… how lucky is that! Mum and Dad sent me to Armidale for “training camp” when I was about the same age – just doesn’t sound quite as good really!

So what have we been doing with these beautiful days – well a couple of weeks ago we climbed a mountain! I have put some photos on the website to show just how bloody high it was! The boys and I decided to climb up one of the glaciers in Meribel, as we were leaving this bloke told me that he didn’t know anyone who had done it without snow shoes – well we proved it could be done! So two hours slog in the snow with board/skis on our backs – well to be honest my snowboard wouldn’t sit properly so James did some impressive “boyfriend” stuff and carried my board for half the time. Two of the boys who were about 20 minutes in front of us have video footage of this (so I can’t deny it) with Kent saying in the background “this really is love!” Anyway it was a bloody long way to go for ten minutes of great skiing on the way back down. But, truly, we had a great day and it was some of the best and most rewarding skiing we’ve had this season.

So… then we got lazy!

We haven’t been up the hill very much this week, James has buggered his legs again so has been seeing the physio trying to fix them up, he is feeling heaps better now though, and will feel even better if our insurance actually pays for it! The last two days I babysat twin 4 year old boys for some instructors here, they were little shits and if they want me again I’ll ask for double the bloody money! But at least we got a bit of extra cash for our trip around Europe and I realized how well behaved Elks, Soph, Lach, Alice, Jo-Jo and Matty are – god I have wonderful nieces and nephews (and Timmy, I assume Mikaela is just as well behaved)!

Everyone has been arranging their homeward bound trips and we can’t quite believe the season is nearly over, there are more and more requests for us to do a season at Charlottes Pass – where Mick & Ang and Kent & Yvette are heading next, but I think we will leave the ski fields to their own devices for a while after this – I think my brain might need a challenge soon before it shrivels up into a prune.

I don’t know if you all know but boys seem to love fire – this is especially so for James – caveman instinct I guess! Hence, last night we had a bonfire in the same spot as new years – up the hill from the village of Les Allues. This time however we took chairs, food, a van, so had music, and lots of wood aswell. Well we had a fabulous time up the hill and the good thing is it is quite a big walk home so no one could escape from the session (don’t really know if that is a good thing, thinking about it today). Anyway to get there in a car you have to drive up to another village and back around to the hill via a dodgy dirt track, so when we saw a car approaching at about 1am we all held our breath and pretended to be invisible. A kangoo (half van half car) with three robust French police pulled up alongside our impressive bonfire… They jumped out, realized no one spoke French, no doubt thought bloody Poms, then realized we were all drinking the cheapest beers you can find in the whole of France, clicked that we were probably just poor Australian chalet workers, told us to turn Bloody Billy Joel off and that if one more person sang the whole of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” again we would all be arrested, they then all piled back into the Kangoo, like a Benny Hill show, and zoomed off in a cloud of dust. So our experience with the French authorities I must say has been nothing but positive! I wish we’d got some video footage…

Anyway James is just about to get back which means that I have to syke myself up for 3-7 hours of rugby – yes he really needs his fix and as a special treat for Easter Saturday they are playing 60 games back to back – Woohoo, I can’t wait!!!! Hope all is well with everyone we will keep you posted as to what our plans are.

Lots of love Em and James xx

Friday, 23 March 2007

Location: Les Allues, France


Well we have been somewhat slack I guess... no emails for 2 and a half months... do we call that slack?!

We have been having a lovely time of it and winter has finally arrived - 6 weeks before the end of the season. The snow has been quite average and up until the start of this week with temperatures up to 22 degrees we thought the season might be over before we knew it, but good old global warming has loosened up and given us a week of winter down to -17 degrees and a fair swag of snow, just in time for James' arrival back from the land of Oz. We had a pretty huge day and I managed to bury myself a number of times in some seriously deep powder.
We are now trying to make the most of the snow and the fact that we have no guests.

We were both able to get home for a couple of weddings which was fantastic and great to see our gorgeous friends wed - although I still can't believe we're old enough for that sort of thing!

Not much else to report except that we are having a great time. I am currently trying to convince James that we should cycle around Europe after we are finished here, I think I have him inspired but we will see...

I will also pop some photos on, it has been glorious here with bright blue sky days up until this week.

Anyway love to you all, promise we will be better emailers now.

Em and James xx

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Location: Meribel, France

Well we have had an interesting couple of weeks! We arrived in Les Allues on the 14th after a lovely stay in London with Ness and Duncs Backus. Doing a number of touristy things while there. We had a fabulous time and caught up with a few people which was great! We got the chance to go on the slippery slide exhibit at the Tate Modern and also spent quite a lot of time in museums - anyway I think I saw more tourist sites in those 10 days than I did when I lived in London.

John who owns the Chalet in Les Allues where we are working lives in Surrey so we went out there to pick up our mini van which will be ours for the season. Apparently the guys last year took it for a quick test drive the day before going to France and crashed it into a post! So it has seen better days. It took us about 15 hours to cross from Surrey to Les Allues, as the roads are pretty amazing it was quite a breeze - especially after driving Brisbane to Armidale and vice versa every weekend for the last 18 months...

Our chalet is pretty cool - very homey - 4 stories with narrow staircases the last of which goes to our room and is actually just a ladder... this can get pretty hairy after a few beers, but we're quickly becoming experts at climbing it drunk! Fortunately all the warmth from the chalet goes up into our room so it is really warm and cozy. We have had a pretty cruisy time so far and haven't had guests since the 9th until the 25th, which would be fabulous if there was snow... but even so it has been great, the days have been spectacular here and we have been doing big walks all over the shop. We have met some really great people and have been having dinner parties and generally boozing so it's been fantastic.
James and I found a refuge on our walk yesterday which is about an hour and a half walk up the mountain so we are trying to organize a few of us to go up there for a night.

Hopefully it will dump here soon and we will be able to get up the mountain again. We have been up a few times and it is an amazing ski resort - absolutely huge but the last big snow was on the 2nd of Jan and the days have been really warm so it is now really icy and very dangerous. One of the guests at Mick and Ang's (see photos for face reference) chalet had an accident on some ice yesterday and broke her pelvis - we dropped her fiance down to the hospital today and he says she won't be able to walk properly for a good couple of months. So as it is we are not that keen to go up there.

As far as us being slack at writing - this is purely due to a virus we had on this computer - not at all because we are lazy! So a belated Merry Christmas and hope all your resolutions work out for the New Year.

Lots of love Em and James

Friday, 08 December 2006

Location: London, UK

Hello all,

We'll we survived the humidity, heat, traffic and harrasment of Sth East Asia and have landed safelly in London to the cold, wind and whinging poms! No actually we really loved Asia with the people and their food and culture and London so far has been relatively mild (0-10%) and the people (well most anyway) fantastic.

Our last couple of stops in Vietnam were in Hue and Hoi An in Central Vietnam. We trained down to Hue and had a day seeing the sights (ruins, making of insense, old collosium where the Elephants used to fight the Tigers and Jaguars! and practising monks) before hiring a bike and setting off on the 130km journey to Hoi An. Something which I really enjoyed however I'm not sure Em was so thrilled on the back!

Hoi An was fantastic with a relaxed atmosphere, beatiful river and beach settings and really amazing shopping. We got a sh..load of clothes made which did'nt in any way help our already (severly) overweight baggage situation however we got away with 10kg of overweight baggage from Singapore to London (after i had to leave my ski's in Singapore), so all worked out well! So after 4.5 days in Hoi An looking around, relaxing, shopping and enjoying the local food and liqour we jumped back on the bike (Boris the Black Beast) and headed back to Hue and onto the train for the 12 hour journey back to Hanoi. This would'nt have been so bad if it wasn't for the snoring Vietnamese in the carrage with us however I must admit that their offers of rice wine (and almost insistance on me drinking it) made the night alot more bearable for me. Em however put the night in pretty roughly...

Back to Hanoi to the organised chaos and the final bit of shopping (well and truely over that!) before flying back to Singapore. We left behind a thriving (economically speaking) country whose living conditions, culture and relaxed way of life still absolutly amazes me and really reinforced to us their dependance on the tourist dollar. Of concern is the level of internal growth and the consumption of their natural resources (partically timber), something that we witnessed on our bike journey, and their apparant lack of respect/infrastructure/education in relation the environment. Anyway enough of that stuff, they are lovely people, really make you feel welcome and would recommend anyone to go there.

Back in Singapore where we had a couple of days with Sincas and Anna which included a slap of golf, some great Italian and Indian food and a compulsary night on the turps. This night out made the flight to London a bit easier for Em however I couldn't pull myself away from the inflight movies and games of Tetris (I was determined to get my moneys worth!).

Into London and we've done a few of the touristy things and given the poms a heap for their pathetic performance in the 2nd test, actually the've been giving themselves a heap making the experience even more enjoyable! We went about half and hour south of London and spend the night with our boss (France chalet job) which was quite an experience. He is quite an interesting fella (!) and our suspicions were confirmed that our patience to put up with whinging and demanding people will be put the test. I just hope we beat them 5-0 in this Ashes series to provide us with a bit of ammo!

Anyway we're heading over in the Chalet mini bus on the 14th Dec for our first guests (the owner and his family/friends!!!) on the 22nd. Looking forward to the challenge but more so the snow, of which there is minimal at the moment, (which is a little concerning) but theres a long way to go yet.

Better run, over and out,

James and Em

Saturday, 25 November 2006

Location: Vietnam

Welcome to the next installment of our adventure...

We have had a fabulous week in Vietnam. We had a couple of days in Hanoi
which is possibly the noisiest bloody place ever. Unfortunately no one has taught the Vietnamese what to use their horns for, so they use them for
everything, i.e. "I'm passing you - beep"; "I'm behind you - beep"; "Hello
my friend - beep"; "I'm driving along - beep"; you get the gist anyway.
Wandering around the city which is quite beautiful, is not as peaceful as
one would hope for!

From Hanoi we ventured to Halong Bay for an overnight stay on a junk boat -this was pretty fun and we would recommend it to anyone. Halong Bay is a world heritage listed site - it consists of about 3000 islands which is
fairly spectacular. However on the day we were there you could only see
about 100m in front of you as there was a lot of smog - I renamed the place "Hapong Bay". We did some kayaking in the afternoon around the islands where all the fishing villages are. They are houseboat villages complete with kids and dogs, it was pretty interesting to have a look - we even got to go to the houseboat-school. We had a couple of frenchies, a kiwi and a couple from Sweden on the boat who were all pretty good value, so had a good night on board the boat with them. James had the misfortune of eating a bad cockel shell and was sick all night, so that was pleasant for him, but all back to normal now.

From Halong Bay we returned to Hanoi to hop a night train to Sapa which is
a village in the north of Vietnam and is very picturesque. This is a don't
miss for Vietnam. Thanks to Dan and Anna (in Singapore) who recommended the place and a guide named Sho we had the best time. Sho is a gorgeous girl of 20 who took us trekking along with 1 other Aussie, a german girl and a canadian girl. It is beautiful up there walking through the rice fields. We were followed by 2 little girls of 8 and 9 who made us garlands of flowers and horses made from reeds, among other things. They were absolutely gorgeous, but as we found out as soon as you get to their
village they say "Emma you buy from me..." We did a home stay in a village and had another 4 little girls follow us from the previous village to where we were staying. When we got to the house they insisted that I buy from them, so I bought a few little odds and ends. I told them it was James' birthday the next day and so they gave me some wrist bands for him (as he was snoozing!). Mee (one of the girls I bought from) then said "Hey Emma, can I have your email address?"... I love the fact that these hill tribe kids don't go to school but each have a hotmail or a yahoo account! So I now have myself a pen pal from Sapa.

The vietnamese women are extremely beautiful and as far as I can see they
are the ones doing all the work. I have a photo of about 10 women excavating a site for a house - by hand into the side of a hill, half of them with kids on their backs. It is only recently that girls have been allowed to go to school - Sho was never sent to school but the girls 13 and under usually have been for 4 years or so until they are 7-8 yrs old. If they want to go to high school they have to pay, so most of them end up leaving and working for the family sewing blankets, bags, etc...

It is good luck for a Vietnamese man to marry a tall woman as they can then carry them home when they're drunk... or so Sho tells us! Fathers still
select husbands for their daughters but in Vietnam women are actually allowed to say "no I don't like him...". They are often betrothed at 12-13 yrs and then married a couple of years later. Sho's sister was married to her cousin at 15... Sho says she has turned down every boy her father has presented. Anyway we had a good time and Sho and her friends taught us a
great version of "shithead" (the card game) and we also played spoons (or "chopsticks" actually!). It was lots of fun.

For James birthday we had most of the day trekking and then back to Sapa to hop a train to Hanoi - we met a couple from Perth who were really good
value and ended up hanging out in between two carriages (renamed "Switzerland") drinking beer with them to celebrate James' 29 years. Was very fun but we then arrived in Hanoi at 5am so we were a bit sore and sorry for ourselves.

A day in Hanoi and another train last night to Hue, we arrived about two hours ago. I must love you and leave you to go and explore the former political capital of Vietnam (1804-1945). Will let you know what it's like.

Look forward to hearing from you all soon.

Lots of love Em and James xx

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Recent Messages

From Kym Beeston
hey guys, just a quickie to say that my arms (both) are now out of plaster and i'm adjusting to being a non-disabled person again! the wrists are not totally normal as apparenlty i 'really smashed them up' in the words of my doctor.. but oh well, it was worth it. This will not stop me boarding. EVER!!! have fun in the new pow pow. i'm jealous, lv Kym
Response: Hey Kymmie, So glad to hear you are no longer "armless"!! You wouldn't believe the comings and goings of this bloody snow - it is hot again so it is on meltdown again, but can't complain we are still having a pearler of a time! Hopefully catch up over the summer somewhere in Europe! Talk to you soon. Lots of love Em and James xx
From luci
so, when is my plane ticket arriving in the mail, jim?

btw... never did my eco, i'm dropping it, i'm too stressed: hence the panik attack you had to witness. you've missed out on some armidale scandels.. OMG.. i'll have to tell you over the phone as it's pretty serious for armidale.
hopefully see you soon.
love your bestest sister..XX

btw, where are the photo's of me? pffsh
Response: Luc, the ticket's in the mail and I'll put a couple of photos of you on the page. The only problem is the only photos I have of you are nude baby photos!! Look forward to hearing the local scandles. Love James
From Bayley
Great shot darling but please remove the fat ugly person in the farwell shots.
Also what about a date in the photo headings love you

Don't worry Leigh we edited Big Dog out of the photo. I don't think he'd appreciated being called fat and ugly!
From Alan (uncle)
James is on the plane - I put him there!
Response: Yes, thanks Alan. I even made it back to France!
From Richard Yang & Sophi
Sounds like u guys are having a great time there! Lucky u! We have to work very very hard in this busy season. Good thing is, we are heading back to China in the beginning of February for the Chinese New Year! Can't wait for it. Hope we can catch up in China in the near future! Anyway a late Happy New Year and an early Happy Chinese New Year to both of you!

Missing Emma a lot cause i have to do some of Emma's work. A lot of new employees in the company including people from South Africa and Lebanan. Very interesting working in my office cause you hear 4 different languages all the time.

Sophia sends her best wishes too!

Talk soon guys!
Response: Hey Rich and Soph, Thanks for the email, great to catch up with you when I was home. Sorry to hear you now have to do some work... ha ha!! We are still having a fabo time so no returns to BBY for me - sorry about that! Will talk to you soon anyway.
Lots of love Em and James
From Stitch Colleen Ben &
Hi James & Em
Have just returned from a few days visiting in Armidale and can report that all is well back at the ranch. It was 38 degrees on Friday! Had inadvertantly deleted your email address so belated good wishes for 2007. Take care on that nasty icy snow, hope you have a big dump v soon.
Loved your piece on Vietnam, brought back some vivid memories!
Looking forward to the next installment of your adventure,

lol from all of us.

Response: A bit delayed this respnce I know but after being back in the Dale i can confirm all is well back there. Hope your enjoying Vietnam!
From Elke and Sophie
Hi Auntie Em and James,
We love your little house in the snow and are wondering whether you have been making any snow bears??!! Did you have a good time in London - Lachie wants to know whether you met Thomas (the Tank Engine of course). How many sleeps till you come home? Mummy says it might be more than 100!!!!
Lots and lots of Love Elke and Soph XXXOOO
Response: Hi Guys, Sorry I haven't written for ages! It was great to see you when I was home. I hope school is still as fun as ever and that Lachie isn't being too much of a monster! Only about another 120 sleeps till we come home again. Send my love to Mummy, Daddy, Lach and Alice. Miss you! Lots and Lots of love Emmie xx
From Poo
Hey there, Merry xmas and a happy new year. Hope all is well, had a bad xmas dad not well but will inform on your arrival home when all is hopefully well. Love to both of you. Sidey you missed my birthday again... just jokes. I had a good day anyway. Good luck and keep having fun.
Response: THanks mate. Did'nt you get my telegram sent by French dove?! They said there was a 50% chance of it finding you so I'm a bit disspointed. Anyway will coreespond privately.
From Nick Hewlett
G'day carso and emma, sorry it has been so long since i have spoken or written carso but thats the way things go sometimes. your trip sounds excellent, and am very jealous. just writing to wish you both a very merry christmas with the frogs. hope you are both well. ferret
Response: Well, well, well... the ferret man! How things? Take it your still down in the cold country causing havoc in the quiet township of Yass! Good to hear from you mate and will be in touch.
From Lucy Trivett
hey bayles, the trip sounds fab so far and have a great time in france. Merry christmas and happy new year to you both and will have a cold beer and a coupla prawns for you over here. Lots of love. Lu
Response: Thanks Lu,

Thanks for the wishes. We managed a few cold beers however the prawns were amiss, which incidently didn't worry me as I'm alergic to them. Anyway all's well over here and we'll have a ski for you. Love Em
From Fliss, Kharl and Har
Hi guys,

Sounds as though you are having a ball, spending lots of money, drinking, eating, spewing and seeing some magnificent sites!

A belated HAPPY B"DAY to James. The big 29! not far now till you reach the scary 30.

Keep up the entertaining stories of your travels.
Response: Sorry guys it taken so long for a reply but the laptop was in intensive care for a couple of weeks. It's back in actinon now and fitting fit! How was the first Xmas in Dub-vegas? From all reports it has been a rather mild summer which would have made the first "Western Xmas' for Fliss and Harry a bit more enjoyable?! Anyway thanks for the b'day wishes and will be in touch soon.
From Emma Shields
Hey guys, good effort on the web site, great to hear from you. Glad all is well and you are having a hoot. Happy birthday sidey for November sound like you had a great day and a few drinks even if it was with strangers. Was thinking of you on the day. Keep up the correspondance and if I don't hear from you, Merry xmas and I hope Santa finds you. Love Emma
Response: Thanks mate, see correspondance above.