Location: TASMANIA, Australia
Traceys trip to Tasmania
Sunday 12th to Tuesday 14th December
I was very lucky to be taken to Cardiff airport. At this point I realised I should have brought my walking boots as my case was massively under the maximum weight. Had 5 flights to Hobart, Tasmania, via Amsterdam, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Melbourne. Tried different chinese food on the plane at some funny times dinner after 1am in the morning. Tried my best not to get deep vein thrombosis and this I am sure was helped by some chinese exercises which the aeroplane passengers followed from a video it was quite funny to see everyone doing it at the same time. Before we landed on Australian soil the plane was sprayed with insecticide. The weather seemed hot when I first arrived and by that time I was very tired.
Met Emily my Niece she keeps looking at me - wondering what or who I am.
Wednesday 15th December
Went to Emilys Little Sea Stars Christmas party.
Thursday 16th December
Went to Hobart.
Friday 17th December
On Friday morning I set out on my road trip. I was driving Michelle and Stewarts bright blue Nissan Micra which was an automatic. I had driven an automatic before when I was travelling in New Zealand and Australia but it took a while to get used to not having a gear stick and realising that there was no clutch, and you stopped pretty suddenly if you forgot there was no clutch. First off all I made a stop at Woolworths supermarket and bought some groceries to keep me going on the trip. It was quite scary driving through Hobart and a car I was not familiar with (the thought of it was scarier than it was though. Once I had driven through Sorell I could relax, the road was quiet and I just needed to stick to one road.
I headed up the East coast and I first stopped at Raspins beach coming out of Orford. Carried on up North and drove through the countryside, stopping again at Mayfield Bay. Here there were several campervans and tents but very few other people on the beach (three others). I walked along here and saw a pod of dolphins swimming up along the bay. They were jumping out of the water and one further up the beach was hitting its tail onto the water (which may mean a sign of annoyance, or a warning to other dolphins of danger). There are several Welsh place names up the East Coast, such as Pontypool, Swansea, and Beaumaris (but look nothing like the Welsh places). I arrived at Coles Bay where I had booked a bed at a hostel. I had arrived a little early so looked around a bit first before checking in. At 2pm I arrived at Freycinet National Park where it cost me $24 to take a car and myself into the park. I walked first to the lookout of Wineglass bay. A bus load of tourists arrived at the same time so I tried to get ahead, but there were plenty of other people still at the lookout. Off I went down to the bay and there I was welcomed by two wallabies / potaroos (I dont know which). The sand was white and the sea was blue/ green but the water was not very calm so I wasnt brave enough to have a splash in the sea. I then carried on along the Isthmus track through the forest and heard unusual croaking and bird sounds, but luckily there were no snakes to be seen. Although a bit scary being alone on the track I preferred this part of the walk compared to wineglass bay as it was very peaceful and I guess most of the tourists dont come as far. The best view was taking a path off the track to the lagoon that I guess looked upon Mt Graham and Mt Freycinet. Then, onto Hazards beach, again with a good view, followed by walking through forest again to the car park. Only saw one couple and a family on the walk from wineglass bay. Felt sorry for the family as they had two small children and they had quite some way to go to the car park when I saw them. The walk was 11kms. The Peninsula track seemed to be appealing on the map it didnt look too far on the map but it seems to take people 2 to 3 days, so I didnt go with that option as I didnt bring a tent with me. After the walk I then drove to Cape Tourville where there is a lighthouse to look at the view of the coastline, then onto sleepy bay where there are big red sandstone looking rocks with huge holes which you can go inside. Then to honeymoon bay, Richardsons beach and to the backpackers. No one joined me in my dorm so I had a good sleep and didnt disturb anyone when I woke up early in the morning.
Saturday 18th December
Reached the park again at 7am and again I walked to the lookout, but this time without a bus load of tourists. Then back down the track to start my ascent up Mt Amos. The day before it had been advised not to walk as the conditions were wet and rocks would be slippy. When I was walking up the track I understood why because you had to walk along smooth sloping rocks and the ascent was steep. There were emergency services about the park the day before whether there was an accident on the mountain I dont know. Had to keep looking for the yellow / white painted markers and red / orange ribbons tied in the bushes as you could easily lose your way. Probably one of the scariest walks I have done but this was probably because I was alone so had no one to save me from snakes or see me doing a silly fall and having to alert emergency services, but saw only lizards and had no accidents, and there were no cliffhanging experiences. I realised as I was walking that perhaps my insurance might not have covered me. At the top I forgot all about the walk up - the views were amazing and had the summit to myself. I only saw four others on the walk a group of three coming down, and a man on his way up as I was coming down. Finished walking by 10.20am (3 hrs 20 minutes) which wasnt too bad as the signs gave the estimate of 4 ½ hrs.
Once my walking was done I left the park and Coles Bay, picking up a hitchhiker from Coles Bay and taking him to the end of the road. He was a 17/18 year old boy who had been doing the Peninsular track who was not heading back South Hobart. Followed the coast road going through Bicheno, where the fairy penguins live, stopping at Denison beach, and went as far as Bingalong bay, the start of the Bay of Fires. More white sand, with blue/green sea. The weather so far on the trip had been sunny, with the odd shower here and there but nothing really. Drove through countryside with sheep, and beef cattle mainly (Hereford and Angus) and a few fields of white poppies. From St Helens I headed back West, going through Goshen with scenic pastures (thats what it said on the sign). Along this road there were some dairy cows too and two Echidnas. I was heading to Launceston and I seemed to be going up and down lots of mountains on some winding roads. Reached Launceston at about 5.30pm and had to find somewhere to stay. There was only one backpackers advertised and luckily there was a bed for me. This time I shared a room with a girl from Korea, a girl from Taiwan and another came in late at night when we were in our beds trying to sleep. I had come to Launceston as this was where the cradle mountain tour set off from. However, I decided to do my own tour as the tour was really expensive and I knew I would not be with happy just looking at a mountain - if I saw a mountain I would then want to walk up it too which would not be possible with a tour. I put up notices to see if anyone wanted to join me. The Korean girl was interested but she had thought she would walk in her flip flops so I didnt think she would be expecting to do the same kind of walk as me.
Sunday 19th December
I set off at about 7am, and reached Cradle mountain at 9am. Passed fields with sheep and cattle, including some Highland cows near Deloraine. Some more windy mountainous narrow roads but hardly saw a car. It was a bit showery - sometimes the mists would clear and you would see the mountains and I hoped that it would not be too rainy at Cradle Mountain. The park fee was $16.50 which allowed you to take the shuttle bus and get on and off at various points in the park. My first stop was Dove Lake. It was raining but it was a heavy rain and the mountain which everyone had come to see was hidden by mists. I walked halfway round dove lake then walked up face track that goes up the face of cradle mountain. The paths were very wet, and although it was not the heaviest rain I was quite wet, and the peaks in front of me were not very clear. The track then hits another and I went up Hansons peak past the twisted lakes. Just before the lakes the sole of one my boots came away (only being stuck by the toes) I had a little bit of elastic in my bag which I tried to keep the sole and the rest of the boot together. I checked the other boot and it seemed ok but then 10 minutes the same thing happened I then had to tie both soles and the rest of the boot together with my laces. I managed to walk down but decided that I shouldnt attempt anything else too difficult. Took the shuttle bus to Waldheim and Weindorfers forest walk where an Austrian man called Mr Weindorfer once lived. Here the trees were covered in moss. Next was the Enchanted walk where I saw an Echidna which was mooting about.
Set off from the cradle mountain at 4pm and decided to head towards Hobart via Sheffield. Sheffield is a town with murals painted on the walls of buildings. The next town was Railton was a town of topiary but I saw no topiary. There was quite a bit of dairying in the area as well as poppies. From Deloraine I took the road south (A5) passing through the Golden Valley, up in the mountains again and there looked to be some nice walks to do. Then suddenly was a great big wow when saw first sight of the Great Lake, which is definitely an appropriate name as it was very big unfortunately it wouldnt fit in my camera to take a photo of it all. Here there was a sign intermittent bitumen and gravel roads, it was mostly gravel and there was a section of 19 km that was all gravel (and it was a very long 19 km). There were plenty of wallabies or potaroos on the sides of the road which I asked would stay there. There were plenty of dead ones on the road and with the speed the few cars I saw travelling on the road it is not surprising. If you were a bird of prey and didnt like killing you were be able to survive ok I should think as there would be plenty of roo meat. There were wonderful colours on land, lake and sky the sky looked as if plenty of water had been put on watercolour paper before adding the paints. From the lakes was farmland grazed by sheep or beef cattle on unimproved pastures. Wallabies / potaroos still were nibbling by the roadside and just one decided to hop in front of me but I was in no hurry and it was safe from me. Went through a tree graveyard of big white trees. It was getting later I was heading for home but if it got dark soon and I was still driving along kangaroo roads I thought I might stop somewhere to sleep and complete the journey the next morning. Saw wonderful colours as the sun started going down Of black Angus cattle in the golden grass and a golden chapel surrounded by a flaming orange / red sunset background. Reached Melton Mobray (No sign of Pork Pies) and this is where I met a main highway to Hobart. Decided now that I would reach home that night. A town shortly afterwards called Bagdad had a road called Pritchards lane. Reached Hobart when it was dark and went a more scenic coastal route back to Kettering even though it was dark and I couldnt see the scenery. Finally reached home and a Potaroo was waiting for me at the garden gate.
Monday 20th December
Mount Nelsons lookout.
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
I still seem to be a travelling gypsy after coming back home. Now I am working in Edinburgh at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) again. I have now been here just over a week. I live on the outskirts of Penicuik which is about 3 miles from work (so a very little commute compared to my one from Abergavenny to Bristol everyday). I moved into a flat last Thursday, renting a room from Heather, who I live with. Done a little exploring this weekend - there is a path to go walking on right outside where I live. Walked to Roslin and back (twice) and went for a walk over the Pentland hills.
Location: Aberystwyth, Wales
Perhaps I will finish this diary one day.
Location: Saigon, Vietnam
Sorry my entries are a bit incomplete. Just arrived in Saigon on the bus from Dalat and it started pouring with rain. My first rain that I have had for a long time (probably last rain was in Armidale, Australia). The bus usually drops you off at one of their company hotels and gives you maps of tours but not this time. I had no idea of the street we were dropped off on and all the hotels seemed a bit expensive or full. I am spending the most I have paid so far on a room tonight at $8 and I haven't even seen the room yet - but the hotel entance seemed quite nice looking. I hope to go down some tunnels in the next couple of days and visit the Mekong delta.
Location: Hue, Vietnam
From Nanning I took the overnight train to Hanoi, Vietnam. First I was in a posh first class soft sleeper carriage and shared a compartment with a guy from Beijing. The first time we were woken up we had the chinese immigration to check our passports and give them departure stamps. Perhaps an hour or so later we then had to get out of the train on the Vietnam side and had to go through the very long inefficient immigration process that was kind of comical. I even had to get my ear temperature tested - a way of them making a bit of money as it cost me 2 chinese yuan. We then got on another train which was no way as comfortable and inviting as the other and this time I was in a compartment with a French-Canadian couple. At 8.10am I arrived in Hanoi and had motorcyclists after motorcyclist asking to take me somewhere, but at that time I still had no vietnamese dong. Afterwards I got a taxi to the hostel that I decided to stay at but wasn't very pleased as the taxi driver went a very long way to get to the hostel and charged me far too much.
In the afternoon I went for a walk. There are motorbikes driving about everywhere and I was just about asked continuously whether I needed a ride. I went to the water puppet theatre which was very good.
On Sunday I went on a trip to Halong Bay.
Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Hi, I travelled from Hong Kong to China and took an overnight train to Guilin where I was on the top bunk of a triple bunk (very little room up there). Arrived early in the morning and then had to wait until the specific counter at the train station I needed was open. I tried to book my train to Vietnam but the guy in front of me in the queue bought the last two tickets. If I knew Chinese I would have noticed the sign stating there were few tickets left and could have got in the queue earlier than the man. So I was told to book a ticket to Nanning and from there I could book the train to Hanoi so that is what I did. From Guilin I took the bus to Yangshou - a very beautiful area with limestone mountains. I took a bike tour (just myself and a chinese guide who spoke no English). In the beginning the guide was on a moped which I thought wasn't very fair but later he swapped it for a bike. On the tour I cycled through country villages and was taken on a bamboo raft up a river and the guy on the raft also did not speak any English. He was like the paparazzi trying to take photos of me. Then got back on the bike and went to Moon rock. I had a lady to walk all the way up the hill with me who tried to sell me postcards and water. Bike riding was quite crazy in the town but I managed to stay alive. I have got used to crossing the road now by walking across and hoping that all the motorbikes, bikes, cars and vans will go around me. It is even worse in Vietnam. In the evening went to a fish show where a man on a boat would take his pet cormorants out fishing. I was then walking back through town when some students took me to there school to speak English to them. The next day I went on a boat up the Li River which was very scenic. Yangshou is a very touristy area with lots of people trying to sell you things and take your money some way or another. After being there I feel it hard to trust anyone. Nanning was quite different as it was not a touristy place (the guide book says there is nothing to see there). No one tried to sell me anything but had Hello called to me from all directions. I was the only white westerner I saw until I took the train to Vietnam - I think we are rarely seen. Forgot to say I went to the meat market in Yangshou - saw quite a few things I didn't know where they had come from but did see a dog hanging up. Just as I walked by I heard a dog squealing - perhaps another one had fallen victim. I was told there might be snakes there but I didn't see any but when I walked the streets of Nanning I passed a snake in net bag.
Hopefully will update again shortly
Location: Hong Kong
Just a quick update. Christmas Day I flew to Singapore. Did not have anything Christmassy to eat on the plane unfortunately. From Singapore took te ferry to Batam an Indonesian Island, then went to a couple more. Returned to Singapore for half a day look around. A shoppers paradise but I refrained myself. Flew to Hong Kong yesterday and I shall go and exploring now.