Hello from the birthday girl!
Well yesterday I climbed a mountain. It absolutely larrapped it down with rain the whole time, but this was absolutely perfect as it made it cool. I didn't care about being wet, the sweat would have sorted that out anyway. The mountain is 6666 steps in total from bottom to the top. There is usually a cable car from two thirds of the way up, however in lightneing it won't run. Not to be a defeatest I did the whole thing. To be honest I felt like a bit of a hero at the end. I actaully marched up there. It usually take 4-5 hours in total and I did it in dead on three. Laura struggled quita a bit and I finished a bit before her. At the top I had a lovely cold beer, which I feel I earned.
In the evening we went to a farm to stay the night. We had a huge dinner, which was exquisite. It was so nice and not at all what I would have expected. We played lots of games and tried to communicate in our own ways.
Today we went round and school and the children put on a play for us. Then we taught them ring a ring a roses which they seemed to semi enjoy. It was down to me and rthis 4 year old kid. Even though it's my birthday I declared him the winner.
We also went round an old people's home. Pretty damn depressing to be honest. the kitchen is not a place I would even want to go to the loo in, nevermind prepare food. But the ironic thing is they have a fantastic gym set, maybe that why they all live so long.
Then we went back to the families to have luch. They made me drink lots of rice wine - 56% proof, and tons of beer. They also had a card thing that played happy birthday so they put it on for an hour. We taught them rock scissors paper, and thumbs wars. I also showed them that I could lick my nose and wiggle my ears, we all did our little tricks. They thought it was brilliant.
The toilets here are somewhat of a fascination to me. In the village, in the public ones, it's not longer a suat but just the ground behind a wall. As mush as I am loving China I am so fed up with smelling shit! Oh well, I'm getting less fussy now. I will never again complain about an English toilet!
Tonight I am on a train until 1:30 am so we are going to party through until we arrive. I am going to push the boat out and buy a 100Y worth of beer, that's about six - seven pounds worth.
My money here is going well, at last. And beer is cheaper that water. A slap up meal will set you back just over two pound so we have been eating well!!!!
I'm sure I will have lots more stories in a couple of days. It's is very hot here again!!!!
Love you all, and I'll be back in just over two weeks! xxxxxx
Location: Xi'an, China
Well here I am in Xi'an. We had the best journey here. We took a sleeper train, and everyone just stayed up all night drinking, and this allowed us all to properly get to know each other. I'm am absolutely loving China. Except the weather, which is emotinal to say the least. At 7:30 this mroning it was 36o C and it just gets hotter throughout the day!
I'll work backwards. This morning we went to see the Terracotta Soldiers. At first I thought, well it's cool but not as impressive as I thought it would be. But then as we went round and you could see all the details in their faces and clothing, it is really is something amazing. They have now labelled it as the 8th wonder of the world and I can well understand why. Everything in this country is so spectacualr and understated.The soldiers are a definite must see.
The toilets however are not. The have squat toilets out here. I'm not going to lie to you, my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the first one. The smell beyond bad, worse than any men's toilet you could ever imagine, and then you have to squat down closer to the smell. I am at last getting used to them, although I saw a western toilet without a seat in a public museum and I don't think I have ever been so excited!
Anyway, the Great Wall. Yes it is great and incredibly vast. We did a 13Km hike along it in five hours. It's vertical up and down all of the way, and much of it you are forced to do on all fours. Well I was because I am incredibly short! We had some beggars follow us for three hours trying to sell us stuff all the way. They came with us and held my hands over all the hard bits. As they practically saved me I was feeling generous and bought there books and postcards that they had carried all the way. They even taught me some Chinese so I am beginning to get about with the locals, although most of it is just a case of pointing and ridiculous hand gestures. I cannot ever convey the beauty of thye Great wall, it is the best thing I have ever seen, and the most rewarding. The temperature was nearly 40oC so it was pretty tough going. I have been here less than a week and I can already tell that I have lost weight.
Tomorrow I have a free day and then in the evening I have another sleeper train journey. Caz mate, I can appreciate why you didn't want to come home. I was very homesick in Oz but I feel refreshed again in my travels. Don't worry though I will be on that plane going home!
Love you all, take care. xxx
Location: Perth, Australia
Right here's a quick update on what we've been up to. Just spent a few days in Melbourne and it was really cool there. I think of all the places in Oz I would be most happy to live there. It has a really nice feel about the place. And yes, I did the neighbours tour! On our last night Laura and I made friends with a really great group of lads, but alas they were all staying there so that was a shame. The next day we all sat looking terribly ill and hungover.
On Sunday night we caught the train from Melbourne to Perth. I have just arrived and today is Tuesday. It took three days to get here, and we sat upright ALL THE WAY!!!! We started off in one carriage which was possibly worse than a cattle van. It was full of screaming kids and fat chavs, it was horrible. Fortunately though we were able to move as not all the seats in the next carriage were taken. Laura and I managed to get two seats to ourselves each!
All was going well,until I went a bit crazy yesterday. I had taken a picture out of the window every hour on the hour. It was basically the same picture. In 12 hours the scenery hadn't changed. It was just red sand/rock and a couple of dying bushes. I suddenly had the overwhelming sense that I was totally trapped and cut off from the world. I even got excited about seeing seven horses and a telegraph pole!
We stopped in a village - except it wasn't a village. It was three houses in the middle of nowhere, and they had a big rock in the middle of it. The hospital, which was a shed even had a sign saying 'Cook Hospital needs your help, get sick'. There was seriously nothing there at all!!!!
I am pleased that I took the train and have proved myself as an intrepid explorer, however I don't recommend the experince to anyone!
Michael, please tell Tony we did get stuck with a weirdo. This guy wore a vest and woolly gloves most of the way there and listened to cr*p music.
Can you send me his email address if he gives it to you, not the weirdo boy's Tony's.
I think that is about it. I am off to town on my own as Laura is sleeping the whole day, as she didn't sleep at all on the train.
Please keep the emails coming, and I will be home in four weeks today!
Love you all lots. xxxx
Location: Sydney, Australia
Well here I am in another location. We arrived in Sydney yesterday morning, after staying with some relatives over night. I met a great Auntie and Uncle that I had never met before. It was so nice to finally meet them, and we had a really good time.
Anyway, Sydney. Yesterday we took a wander to the Opera House, not a bad building, although we were both surprised as we thought it would be bigger. We also saw the bridge, but we couldn't gather the energy to walk across it. Maybe we will tomorrow (although I doubt it!). Then we meandered through the botanical gardens and headed back to the hostel. As we are so rock and roll, and a night at an 89 year olds had tired us out we went to bed at ten.
Today we went to Bondi Beach. It's really lovely there, except it was exceptionally cold. In true Brit style we sat on the beach for ten minutes in our waterproofs shaking, just so we could say we have been there. There was also a market that is only open on sundays so we had a browse round there. I even managed to resist any temptation to buy anything.
And now here I am back at the hostel. Tonight we are meeting up with James, a good friend of Tony's for a few drinks. It should be good as he is currently living here and he can give us a few pointers.
Tomorrow night we are taking an overnight bus to Melbourne. We will spend four days there. We have decided we need to go and see the great ocean road. And then, we are going by train all the way to Perth. As we are gypos we are travelling upright all the way, as we cannot afford beds. As Bill Bryson noted in his book, when he took the exact train, he walked from his first class cabin and opened the door to be met by a group of faces without souls. Everyone in that cabin had gradually lost the will to live - THAT WILL BE US!!! Still we are intrepid explorers and we will endure any hardships to not cheat on our travels. we are against internal flights!
In less than two weeks now I will be in China, i really can't wait. It will be so nice not to have pasta and tuna, a dish that I loathe for dinner, or super noodles. I think I may go mad with the amount of carbs we are taking in soon.
Oh well, I think i may sound moody in this email, but I'm really not! I hope everyone is well. Pop keep getting better and I may even let you teach me golf when i get home. Hazel, I hear you have all male bone marrow now. A phrase that seems quite strange but as long as that is good I am really pleased.
Everyone else, step up and keep the messages coming! xxx
Well here I am in Brisbane. So far our trip in Oz has been pretty cool. Fraser Island was so funny. We were put in a group with yes - another seven irish guys. It was a pretty heavy drinking three days. On the last day we actually started drinking a 8:45am!! A new record for me!! The whole trip was so much fun. It was really cool to camp and cook for yourselves. I hope to keep in touch with the lads as they were a really good laugh.
Laura and I have planned the rest of our trip here. It's basically planned around Neighbours night. But hey, that's the only reason we came to this country! We're going to Surfer's Paradise tomorrow and then onto Byron Bay. After that we are making ourt way to Sydney and then Melbourne. To get to Perth we have decided to be true travellers and get the train. It will take three days but it will be a fantastic way to see that part of the country. I'm pleased we have a plan now, as we were beginning to worry we might run out of time.
I hope everyone is ok, and that the bombs haven't shaken you all too much. It was really awful here. We were all watching 'Everybody loves Raymond' (which believe me I don't) and then the programme was interrupted. Nobody moved for at least half an hour, and no one spoke either. I'm so relieved to hear that everyone is ok. It was a bit scary to think I used to be at Liverpool Street at that time. We keep me updated on any news, good or otherwise.
Lots of love,
Location: Airlie Beach, Australia
Well here I am in Oz. Having a pretty good time so far. Cairns was ok, but then we went up to Cape Tribualtion. We saw some crocodiles and snakes which were pretty cool. I also went scuba diving on the barrier reef. That was fantastic, possibly even better than the sky dive! I held a sea cucumber while I was down there, and my instructor bloke put it on his head. It was so wierd laughing at the bottom of the ocean.
Yesterday we got back from three days of sailing round the whitsunday islands. We had the best boat out there. It was a proper party boat, and we were up drinking all night most evenings. I also went snorkling loads. I swam out from the beach to our boat which was miles away. I was pretty impressed with my efforts, and then as we got on board we saw a shark on the other side of our boat. This impressed me less. I don't know what I would have done if I'd seen that bugger swimming towards me. It was so much fun the whole three days.
Tonight I have a thirteen hour journey on a bus to Hervey Bay, and then we are off to Fraser Island for three days. Here we are camping, again with no showers for three days! I don't think I will feel properly clean until I am home in September.
we have made some wicked friends here, but unfortunately they all seem to be going North and we are going south.
Anyway, I hope everyone is well. Hazel could you possibly keep me updated with how Pop is. Neil and Karen, I hope you have a fab holiday!!!!
Keep the messages coming please!!xxxxx
We here I am in Oz. It's not bad here, been here for about 5 days. The day before yesterday me, Laura and a girl called Vikki went to Cape Tribulation. Here we swam in a lake in the Daintree rainforest, and it was freezing. Then we went off on a boat to find crocodiles. We found three. Two of them were on the land and looked quite docile, but the other one was in the water. We could just see it's eyes. It was pretty spooky. We also saw a fair few snakes, mainly tree snakes but there was also a python. Fortunately it was asleep.
The next day we went to the Barrier Reef. I went scuba diving. It was so cool, on par with the sky dive. I liked it so much I went down twice. I went down 14m and sat on the bottom of the ocean. I held a sea cucumber as well. I can describe the fish I saw down there, it was just like finding Nemo but better.
I'm off to Airlie Beach tomorrow to go to the Witsunday Islands. Can't wait, will tell you all about it soon. xx
Location: New Zealand
Right, first things first. Congratulations to Hazel, Pop has told me you are all clear now. That is fantastic, I'm so pleased for you! That has really made my day. I hope you are going to have a big party!
We've just arrived in auckland, and we have had quite a week. Many more extreme activities! We stayed in Rotorua longer than expected. I have been Black water rafting and abseiling. It was so cool. We went down in to some caves and you have to walk around for a bit, and then you get into a rubber ring and float around in the water in the pitch black. All along the sides of the caves are glow worms. It's so beautiful, they are just like green fairly lights. There was also an eel in the water which I wasn't too keen on. But he managed to stay away from us. That was brilliant, I'm so pleased that I did it.
In the afternoon we went abseiling, 50 metres down into a cave. This was really good, although the bloke did my harness up a bit tight and it was hurting my back. The scariest bit is at the bit when you have to lean out over the edge and let yourself go. My legs went a bit wobbly but you soon get used to it.
Yesterday I went White Water Rafting. An experience I will not want to relive. It started off really good, going through all the rapids. But then we had to go over a 7metre high waterfall. the highest in the world for rafting. I didn't stand a chance and fell straight out. I have some pitures which I will try and send out, they are so funny. I didn't ming going in the water too much, it was the next bit I hated. The bloke made me and this other girl sit in the front of the boat and then we had to go up to this waterfall rapid bit. The front of the boat (where I was sitting) got sucked under and then pushed out again. This happened six or seven times and the water was just pounding on my head.I really banged my head. In my panic I let go of one of the ropes and grabbed the other girl's neck. I don't think she was best pleased. Fortunately this was the end. As I got out of the boat I went really shaky and fainted, but only for a second. It was quite embarrassing as everyone was looking at me. I didn't care that much as I felt so awful. My head still hurts today all around my neck, but it feels much better than it did. Still, at least I can say I did it, and don't have to do it ever again!
Rotorua really smelt, it has a high amount of sulphur in the air from all the geezers. It just smells like rotten eggs. It was so funny, we were all seriously hungover and we went to see the geezers, this is where the smell is really concentrated. Not a good idea! We have lots of pictures of our coats pulled up over our faces.
I was really gutted to leave Rotorua as we met up with two of our friends from Fiji, and strangely enough to blokes from Uni were also there. Even more random, we bumped into the blokes at a Maori night in a village miles from anywhere. This has definitely been one of the best bits of NZ, we have just had a laugh all day long - Thanks guys!!!
Hope everyone at home is ok. I'm off for a nap as I haven't had any sleep this week! xxxx