Jamie and Sophie's Adventure

Jamie Longmore and Sophie Jones travel the world

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back Home

We are back home, safe and sound after the best year of our lives.
Our last day in Fiji was a bit of a waste of time, we waited around for ages to be picked up for our free 4x4 trip but due to stupidity on the driver and hotel's part we didn't get to go and had wasted the whole day but never mind, I don't think we missed out on too much.
We did a long flight to LA which was delayed an hour. We crossed the international date zone so I think we arrived before we had left if you see what I mean (travelled back in time).
We got a shuttle from LAX to "Venice Beach Cotel", not sure what cotel means but that's what it was. Venice Beach is a really bizarre place, it's basically a freak show. You can pay money to sit down and talk to the "World's greatest wino", you can watch a one armed, no legged, midget pushing himself around on a skateboard, there were dozens of palm readers and tattoo parlours. Everyone and I mean everyone had one of those tiny "dogs" that they carry around in their handbags (think Paris Hilton). We saw Muscle Beach, there were lots of old people that clearly used to have lots of muscles but sadly they had turned to fat, this didn't stop them walking around in nothing but some small pants and gold chains.
We did a coach tour of LA, seeing the sights including the walk of fame, though it took us a while to find any stars for people we had heard of. We saw the Hollywood sign, from a fair distance though. We went shopping and picked up some bargains. We also went to the funfair at the end of Santa Monica beach where I managed to smash a few plates with a baseball to win Sophie a cuddly monkey.
The next day we went to Disneyland which took 4 hours to get there on the bus (2.5 hours back) as people kept telling us to change at the wrong stops. We got in for free as I have a friend that works there so that was great, we had good fun going on the rides and of course meeting Mickey Mouse. We then went for some food and drinks with my friend Shaun and his wife.
On our last day we went to the J. Paul Getty museum which apparantly has lots of famous artworks. I hadn't heard of anything that we saw but it was a nice bit of culture for us anyway.
We flew at 9:40pm and arrived at around 4pm the next day.
So that's it, our adventure is over. I have truly had the most amazing time, doing things I never dreamed I'd get to do, meeting hundreds of great people (keep in touch guys) and seeing some of the most incredible things in the world. If you ever get the chance to go traveling, do it, you won't regret it.
I want to say a massive thanks to the people that helped me on this trip, my Mum & Dad, Grandma, Auntie Marie & Uncle Rob and especially to Sophie who reminded me what country we were in, told me where we were going and how we were getting there, looked after me when I was sick and injured, cooked some great meals for me and was always there for me whenever I missed my family and friends.
I'm not sure what's next, Sophie's got some job interviews lined up and I'm going on cricket tour tomorrow to Chester, then it'll be time for me to look for a job.
When I'm back off tour I'll sort through my 1000's of photos and put some proper galleries on here. I look forward to seeing you all and telling you tales from our year away.
Send me a text or email if your number has changed in the past year as I won't have it. My number's 07976 977 667
The End.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bula!

Today we leave Fiji unfortunately. We have had a great time here and fantastic weather. The day after we arrived we went on Feejee Experience with our guide Miri and driver Willie. The first day we had a BBQ on Natadola beach and then went to see a local village, learning about the Fijian culture as we went. After this we went sandboarding, which I didn't do this time due to it being a lot steeper than when we went before, increasing the risk of falling off, increasing the likelihood of permanently destroying my finger. Sophie did it several times though and was one of the few people who didn't crash or fall off. We spent the night on the Coral Coast, drank some kava, watched and did some dancing and of course sampled some of the local beer.
The next day, Sophie and a few of the others went on a 2-3 hour trek which I couldn't do again because of my finger (some parts are very slippery and you often fall). So I went on a long boat up the river and we met the rest of the group then did some tubing down to a waterfall for swimming. I hurt my finger whilst paddling, which then resulted in me getting caught in the rapids and scraping my spine against some rocks which wasn't too pleasant but no real damage done. We spent the night in Suva, the capital of the South Pacific. The only food on the menu was pizza with bizarre toppings including icecream.
Day three we stopped at an orphanage and talked to the little kids, most of them wanted to be rugby players and one little boy wanted to be a dentist (they had just had a talk about brushing your teeth from Dr Rabbit, a 6 foot bunny). They were very sweet and we gave them presents we had bought for them in town such as stationary and cards. Next we stopped at a remote village for a sevu-sevu ceremony. I should add that during these village visits I had to wear a sarong... so wrong.
I'll briefly tell you about a kava ceremony. Kava is made from a root and looks like muddy water (tastes like it too). The chief decides when to drink it, speaking through his official communicater. You clap before taking the bowl, shout 'Bula' which is their word for hello, amongst other things, then down the kava in one before handing the bowl back and clapping your hands three times. While the men had to sit around drinking this awful drink, the girls got to go and make jewellery. Kava is not alcoholic, the effect it has is to make you sleepy and it makes your tongue/lips tingle.
We then went on bili-bili (bamboo) rafts down the river and had a race, our raft came 2nd out of 3. Our overnight stop was on Volivoli Beach, Rakiraki - at the top of the island. It was very nice and had it's own beach. We all had a fair few beers and Bounty rum, took part in more dancing games, sang around a camp fire and had more kava which was so strong it was making me retch. Our driver, who was very funny, got ridiculously drunk, falling over and breaking his finger (it must have been broken at that angle). The next day he was still completely wasted so we had to get another driver out while he slept it off!
Sophie went diving in the morning of day four, our final day. She said it wasn't that good and there was no sign of the sharks that everyone else seemed to keep seeing. I of course couldn't go due to my finger... We went through some Bollywood film sets and learnt about the Indo-Fijian culture. The highlight of this day was stopping off at some natural hot pools and mud pools at the base of the Sabeto Valley. We had a great time on Feejee Experience and would reccommend it. We were lucky to have great guides and a really good group of people in our group.
That night we had a free nights accommodation, unfortunately it was in a 34 bed dorm at Smuggler's Cove! They were split into cubicles of 2 sets of bunks but there was just no room at all, amazingly it wasn't that noisy so we got a reasonable sleep. We went to the travel desk at 7am, not knowing where we wanted to go and by 7:15 we were on a bus taking us to the Yasawa ferry. The first island we went to was called Naviti, staying at White Sandy Beach resort. It was 3 hours by boat and we were greeted by all the staff playing us music and singing songs. We stayed here for 3 nights and loved it, really friendly people and we got to just relax on the beach or in our hammocks with the sun shining the whole time. We did some jewellery making, making coconut bracelets, shell necklaces, etc. Sophie went snorkelling a few times. Every evening after our meal we watched then participated in the Bula dance, ask me nicely and I may show you how to do it. After plenty of dancing we were always in the mood for some beer and got to make friends with the other guests.
We left Naviti and went to Kuata which was 1.5 hours back towards the mainland. It was quite nice here, though we had to change rooms as our toilet was blocked up and no light in the bathroom (the new room was much better). We did a trek to get a good view of the sunset and of course there was dancing and drinking games in the evenings.
Yesterday we came back to Nadi and later today we go on a 4x4 trip which was a free extra with our Feejee Experience trip, I think it will be more of the same, going to a village, swimming, etc. Our flight is at 10:30pm on 21st August and yet we arrive in LA at 1:50pm on 21st August, time travel! We're not sure where we are going in LA, possibly staying in Santa Monica but we don't really know anything about it. If anyone has been, please give us some tips. I'm sure we'll go and do the cheesy things such as have a photo in front of the Hollywood sign. Maybe we'll see some film stars.
See you all soon...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bye Bye New Zealand

Tomorrow we'll be saying Kia Ora for the last time as we fly to Fiji at 1pm. We have had a brilliant time here and it's one of my favourite countries from the whole trip. I'll tell you what we've been up to....

Last time I forgot to say that whilst in Wellington we went with some friends to watch a rugby match at Westpac stadium, Wellington v Otago. The stadium was nowhere near capacity and Wellington won easily, something like 65-8. It was quite good fun even though I'm not that interested in egg chasing.

When we went on East As we had a great time, learnt a lot about Maori culture and did some fun activities. The first day we travelled via the Lakes District, Whakatane and Opotiki to our first nights accommodation in Te Kaha at the Homestead Lodge where the hospatality of the O’Brian Whanau and friends was truly fantastic. The Homestead is situated on the most amazing spot right by the beach that has to be seen to be believed. Once welcomed into Te Whanau a Apanui (the local tribe) we got to kick back and relax. They had a hot tub overlooking the sea but it started raining just before I was going to get in it! Our host Paul aka Chay and his wife cooked us some fresh fish, chips and lasagne for a group meal before they sang us some Maori songs with our driver Ken on guitar and then we had to sing a song back to them. We were travelling with an Irish couple who sang a Gaelic song and an Austrian called Joe who claimed not to know any songs. We got away with me doing a party trick and burping them a few tunes which Chay absolutely loved! When we went into the freezer we were met by a huge wild boar which his son had caught and hung up in there, it was rather smelly to say the least.

Departing Te Kaha the next day we followed the coastline south to Rangitukia, stopping along the way to check out points of interest and to take in the beautiful coastal scenery. We left Joe behind as Chay offered him the chance of working for him for a few months sorting out his golden kiwi fruit orchard. The golden kiwi fruits are sweeter and nicer than the green ones, he let us pick some and take them with us. After arriving at Rangitukia ‘Eastenders’ farm stay’ we did some bone carving. One of the locals drew a design we had chosen on a piece of bone and we used their tools to carve them out. They look really good as necklaces (obviously they helped us out whilst making them). I made one for Sophie and she made one for me.We played some pool and table tennis in the wool shed, had a good look at their horses and pigs and made friends with a little puppy we named Scamp as they hadn't named him. That evening I had a traditional hangi dinner. This is food cooked in the ground, it had lamb, chicken, sweet potato and other vegetables, very tasty.

The next day we were among the first in the world to see the sunrise by walking 15-minute up the nearby hills, unfortunately it was quite cloudly so it wasn't that great. Leaving Rangitukia we stopped at Tologa Bay, home of New Zealand’s longest wharf, Whangara where the movie ‘The Whale Rider’ was filmed and Kai Te Hill where Captain James Cook became the first white man to set foot on the land. We stayed in Napier that night which is famous for it's Art Deco buildings. We also ate at New Zealand's best bakery (it won awards apparantly).

The last day we headed back to Taupo but not before doing chocolate tasting, honey tasting, wine tasting and cheese tasting.

The next day it was up to Rotorua which has a lot of thermal activity, resulting in the whole town stinking of rotten eggs, in some places it was quite overpowering. We went to see thermal fools, geysers and that night went to a Maori cultural show. This was great fun, set at a Maori village we saw singing, dancing and had an all you can eat hangi meal.

The next day we went to Waitomo which has glow worm caves. I went caving and tubing (floating along in a big inner tube) and enjoyed it a lot, unfortunately I couldn't go in Sophie's group as she was doing abseiling which would have been hard with my broken finger. The water was so cold I couldn't feel my hands by the end of it so it was good pain relief! On the way home we went to see "Bunny Shearing". Yes, they had a special breed of rabbit that gets incredibly furry and they shear it all off, similar to a sheep.

We went to Auckland the next day but didn't do much as we weren't here long. We went with Kiwi Experience up to the Bay of Islands where we went on the 'Excitor' a very fast boat that shows you around the islands and gets you very wet. Foolishly I had a shave just before going on this, the salt water didn't do the cuts on my face any favours. The following day we went right up to the top of the island, Cape Reinga. We drove along 90 mile beach (actually only 57 miles or something), went sandboarding which involved a heart attack inducing walk up a big sand dune then riding a board down on our bellies (in the freezing cold rain - still awesome though!), saw Kauri trees which are 45000+ years old. We saw where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean and had an early tea at New Zealand's best fish 'n' chip shop. That night we took part in a rather unconventional pub quiz which we didn't come too close to winning. The next day we went to see where a famous treaty was signed before heading back to Auckland.

Today has been a busy day, we went up the Auckland Sky Tower in the morning for some fantastic views of the city, it's the biggest building in the southern hemisphere. We then did a free city tour with Kiwi Experience. We climbed Auckland Harbour Bridge and me and Sophie jumped off it. We did a tandem bungy jump, side by side holding on to each other. Nowhere near as big as our previous one, Nevis, as it was only 43 metres but it was still fun. We saw some other sights and had fish 'n' chips once again. Late afternoon we went to Kelly Tarltons Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World where we saw penguins, huge stingrays, sharks and lots of fish.

So our Kiwi adventure is now over and we have loved every minute of it. I would recommend Kiwi Experience to anyone, it's a great way to see the country, make friends and have fun.

We are doing Feejee Experience in Fiji which is owned by the same people, it's only 4 days so we will spend the rest of the time relaxing on some beaches on a few of the islands there, hopefully getting a tan as we currently don't have one!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Broken Hand

Well the snowboarding at Mt Hutt resulted in my left little finger pointing at a right angle to my hand. The first day was fine, apart from having a sore bum due to snowboarding being extrememly hard for beginners, the second day however has messed up the rest of my trip. It was the first time I went down the slope on that morning when I fell and noticed something was odd about my glove. I felt sick when I saw the damage and was put on laughing gas, given 4 painkillers and a codine tablet before being driven an hour back to Methven where we were staying for an X-ray at the doctors.
After several local anaesthetics the Doctor tried to reset my finger, it's not perfect but it's a lot better looking than it was. I have a splint that I have to wear for several weeks and I can't get wet. It makes everything, especially showering, very difficult. Thankfully I have Sophie who has been great as a fulltime carer. I will have another X-ray soon and see how it is coming along.
It has meant that I couldn't go dolphin swimming which I was really looking forward to, I was thinking of skydiving again here in Taupo as it's really cheap and amazing. There are quite a lot of other things coming up that I was particularly looking forward to but can no longer do including zorbing, sandboarding, horse riding, caving and more.
It is very depressing and has made me quite sad but I am jut glad that I have managed to do most of the things I wanted to like bungy, a skydive, etc. I am praying now that I will be able to use the finger when it's healed, unlike the last one I broke.
Other than that we haven't done too much, had a few nights out, come to the north island, watched Shrek 3 on the ferry, seen The Simpsons Movie tonight and had a few decent curries.
Tomorrow we are doing "East As" which is meant to be a great trip with Kiwi Experience. We will be some of the first people in the world to see the new day as we are almost as far east as possible. It's a 4 day trip and not sure if I will be able to get online or not. The weather in the north island isn't as good as down south but at least it's better than in England...
4 weeks today...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Adrenalin Junkies

Here is a video of me Canyon Swinging. I am sitting on a chair at the edge of a 109 metre cliff. You know how they told you never to lean back on your chair at school? This is why! This is the 3rd of our extreme activities. It was pretty scary before we jumped because the guys kept going on about how they "hope" I'm connected properly and things like that. You can probably tell from the video that I was a bit nervous, I loved it though.

2 days ago we did a bungy jump off Nevis, the 2nd highest in the world at 134 metres. The first few seconds after I jumped were terrifying but then it rapidly turned into a huge adrenalin rush and I was having a great time. I was trying to fly to begin with but flapping my arms madly did no good! I'll see if I can get that video on here, if not you'll have to wait until I get home.

Yesterday we did a skydive from 12,000 feet and it was my favourite of the lot, the 45 seconds of freefall was incredible and then the 5 minute parachute down was great because of the unreal scenery. We were meant to skydive before but a combination of the weather and some stupid girl making our bus late meant that we had to wait until Queenstown. I got a video of that too which is really good. Unfortunately Sophie's ears were really hurting due to the rapid change in altitude so she couldn't enjoy it as much due to the pain.

Before we did all this we did a glacier hike in Franz Josef which was really good, we were in the top group which meant our guide didn't spend too long cutting out steps for us so parts were quite tricky and very dangerous, no injuries though apart from some bruised fingers from gripping the ice.

The next day we went to Wanaka where we went to Puzzle World which was actually quite fun with their illusions and a tricky maze. We also went to the cinema there which is very unique. The seats are sofas, beanbags, there's even a car in there you can sit in! They had an interval so you could get drinks and more food. We saw The History Boys which was alright. I'm trying to persuade Sophie to see Transformers with me this week but not having much luck!

So then we came to Queenstown, we didn't sleep for days because we had some ridiculous snorers in our 8 bed dorm, the one night I was even slapping and hitting one guy but he wouldn't wake up. Sophie went to the toilet only to find our (very very) drunk friend in her bed when she returned, when she asked him to move he was asking "how much room do you need?" Because of this, and the fact that they don't have any room for us now, we decided to get a double room somewhere for a few nights, we have ended up getting a great deal at a motel. $75 for a big room with a separate kitchen and bathroom all to ourselves, TV, fridge, even electric blankets! It's usually $129 but we must have charmed the lady.

Also today we went on a luge, you go up a gondala with impressive views and then get in a go-cart type thing and race around the track, it was a lot of fun. We have nothing planned for tomorrow and then we go skiing the next day before heading back to Christchurch on Friday. From there we will do some more skiing and snowboarding at Mt Hutt.

Comments please.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Kiwi Experience


Before leaving Christchurch we met up with a friend from University, Neil, for a few drinks, it wasn't easy though as there aren't many pubs in Christchurch so we had to make do with the token Irish bar, an English pub and a poncy bar.

Two days after that we started on Kiwi Experience. We got on the bus which was full to capacity and we had to sit right at the back which unfortunately meant that we missed out on swimming with dolphins at our first stop, Kaikoura. We did get to go whale watching though which was quite good, though we only saw the one whale (they gave us a part refund which was nice!). We saw him for about 10 minutes before he flipped his tail and went back down. We had a few drinks that night in another token Irish bar, became doubles pool champions and retired to bed.
The next day we headed to Nelson where I did some free beer tasting and then some not-free beer tasting. We played a load of drinking games, almost a whole bus load of us around some big tables and it was a lot of fun. We went out afterwards, danced on some tables, had a kebab and went to bed. Good night out.
The next day most of the bus headed on but we stayed to do a walk around a national park called Abel Tasmen. We had an "Aqua Taxi" which took us for a ride along the coast and then dropped us off for a 3.5 hour walk.
That night we found out we had a whole house to ourselves. The previous night we had shared it with 5 others but they had all left and nobody came to replace them so we watched a pretty bad Sandra Bullock film, Murder by Numbers before getting some sleep.
The next day it was off to Westport, we went to see a big lake on the way there and some members of our group jumped in, it must have been about 5 degrees! That night the whole town was closed apart from a couple of pubs so we went and had a drink after watching Austin Powers 2 on video.
Lake Mahinapua was our next destination where we went to look at some rocks that supposedly look like stacked pancakes, ate some real pancakes and then headed on to Mahinapua Hotel aka The Poo Pub. The landlord, Les Lisle, is New Zealand's oldest publican at 82 and was a real character as you can imagine. We were lucky to get a dorm to ourselves and I enjoyed a big steak and some venison stew for tea. That night was fancy dress night, our theme was music fads/eras. A lot of people went as punks, one guy went as Jessica Simpson, Sophie was a beautiful 60's hippy chick and I went as a Goth. Now some of you may be aware that I have strong opinions of goths but I thought if you can't beat them (I'd like to), join them. It was a funny night and there were a lot of sore heads this morning.
Today we have arrived in Franz Josef, ready for tomorrow glacier trekking which should be a great experience.
I should mention the scenery in New Zealand, it's absolutely spectacular and I'd recommend everyone to come here and see it for themselves. Every drive we do has stunning snow capped mountain ranges, green forests and lots and lots of sheep!
Less than 7 weeks until we come home now so we are making the most of every day in every way.

Monday, July 02, 2007

New Zealand


We have arrived in New Zealand safe and sound, though we were without Sophie's bag for a while, they didn't put it on the flight, then told us she'd get it the next morning before losing it again and finally getting it to us last night. We flew from Brisbane to Auckland and then had to fly from there to Christchurch, where we are now. The connecting flight had been delayed by several hours though which would have made it very hard for us to find a hostel at gone Midnight, thankfully the man got us the last 2 seats on an earlier flight so we didn't have to wait long and got in about 7pm. We are staying at The Old Countryhouse which is very nice and quiet, we have a double room, the only problem is that it's 1.5km from town, but that's no big deal.

I'd better tell you what we got up to in Australia before we left...

We went to Townsville, where we were planning on doing a dive of the SS Yongala, an old shipwreck which is regarded as one of the best dive sites in the world. Unfortunately, we found out at 6am on the morning of the dive that it was too windy and they had cancelled it. This was very upsetting as it meant we wouldn't be able to do the dive. We went to Magnetic Island for the day but it was pouring down so we didn't really see much there. The highlight of Townsville was probably seeing Ocean's 13 at the cinema!

Next we went to Mission Beach, there was nothing there, it was too cold to go on the beach so we only stayed one night and moved on to Cairns where we stayed at The Serpent. We had a double room which was good and met up with one of my friends from UPCC (University of Plymouth Cricket Club), Phil aka Hyde Park. The Serpent gives you a free evening meal, however the portions are not the biggest, for example, the BBQ night we got one sausage and one piece of bread each, bangers & mash night, you get half a sausage and 3 mouthfuls of mash. Still, better than nothing.

We went on a 3 day/2 night trip to Cape Tribulation, walking through rainforests and doing a crocodile spotting cruise down the river on our way there. When we arrived we went to an exotic fruit farm where we tried 10 different fruits, we had tried a couple of them in Asia but the rest were new to us, some were nicer than others.

The next day we went diving on the Great Barrier Reef which was pretty good, though unfortunately Sophie's ear was too painful to do the 2nd dive (luckily the first dive was by far the best). This was very disappointing especially after not being able to do the Yongala. On the way back to Cairns we went via Mossman Gorge and Port Douglas for a look around. Sophie was so upset about missing out on the dives that she was determined to go back to Townsville and do the SS Yongala dive after all. I said it wouldn't be possible as it meant leaving at gone Midnight for a 5 hour bus journey and then getting picked up at 7am for the dive. I was wrong. We did the dive, and thanks to some Red Bull managed to stay awake. It was definitely worth it as we saw more fish than you could even comprehend, they were so big aswell, many of them bigger than me, we saw a shark and a huge turtle aswell.

To get to the shipwreck it is a 3 and a half hour boat ride, it was pretty rough and there were lots of people being sick (not us). One poor lady spent the entire day lying down feeling ill, she didn't dive or anything, the trip was pretty expensive and the diving was incredible so she must be gutted. We then went back to Cairns that night, got to bed at about 1:30am and slept until the afternoon. We didn't do much else in Cairns other than see Fantastic Four 2 at the cinema (films are cheap on Tuesdays that's why we keep going to the cinema).

We flew from Cairns to Brisbane and had to pay $20 for excess baggage which wasn't bad at all considering the amount of stuff we have.

In Brisbane we stayed at Brisbane City Backpackers which was pretty bad, they didn't have blankets, towels, cutlery/plates and our dorm was tiny. We didn't get much sleep as all 4 of our room mates snored all night!

We went to a koala sanctuary where we got to hold a koala, saw a sheep dog show and look at other animals and birds that were there. The koala weighed about 15kg and snuggled up to us like a baby.

We spent a while in the tax office filling in forms to get back the 30% of our wages that they took off us, only to be told by the lady not to hold our breath. It's a shame because it would be a nice sum of money to have in my bank account, especially as I'm going to be jobless, poor and 13 grand in debt when I get home!

We also tried to do a tour of the XXXX (Four X beer) brewery which you could smell from our hostel but unfortunately all the tours were booked up so we had a drink in their bar instead. Sophie had the original XXXX beer, a sparkling ale, which you can only get in the brewery and I played it safe with a XXXX Gold.

So that was the end of our Australian adventure and we now have less than 8 weeks until we come home. We are looking forward to exploring New Zealand and are going to sign up to Kiwi Experience later which is a hop on/hop off bus service with a bit of a party reputation so we are hoping to make the most of our time here.

Leave us some comments, send us some emails, let us know what's going on the other side of the world!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Whitsunday Islands

We have just got back from our sailing trip around the Whitsundays. It was a big excuse to party basically! Our boat was called Pride of Airlie and there were 45 passengers and 3 crew, there was another boat that had about 25 people on aswell. The first day we just sailed over to South Molle Island which had a big resort that we stayed at, we were in a 6 bed dorm with Diego our new American friend and 3 Dutch guys. In the evening we went and had steak for tea and then played a few drinking games, had a dance and got merry.
It was an early start the next day, breakfast was 6:30 - 7:00, surprisingly me and Diego were the first to arrive and got tucked into some cereal, bacon, eggs and toast.
That day we went to Whitehaven beach and did some snorkling, though you couldn't really see much, we saw about 10 fish! In the evening it was much the same as the night before, food, drinking games, etc. We got an extra half an hour in bed the next morning, which we needed as we got woken up by one of the Dutch guys being incredibly sick all over our dorm floor for about 20 minutes. Why he refused to go outside or to the bathroom which were both about 2 metres away, we don't know. He had also soiled his mattress in the night. It made the rest of us feel sick as you can imagine it didn't smell too good.
Today it was raining but it didn't stop us having fun snorkling, the place we went today had a lot more fish and some nice looking coral. We bought a cheap underwater disposable camera and tried to take some photos, we'll have to see if any of the come out though.
It was a fun trip and we made some good friends in Diego and a Swiss guy called Milo who was very amusing without knowing it and looks like Egon from Ghostbusters!
We're getting the 8:20pm bus to Townsville tonight and will probably go diving on a shipwreck tomorrow which will be fun.

Friday, June 15, 2007

At last

I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to do this post, a combination of being busy, tired and too lazy probably, but finally I am ready to tell you what we have been up to in the last few weeks.
Melbourne
There is a part of Melbourne called Malvern so we obviously had to go there and check it out, we decided that it didn't have as many old people as my Malvern but it was a very nice place, we tried to find a road with the same name as one back home but the only thing we could find was a St Josephs Primary School.
We went to see an Aussie Rules Football game, St Kilda v Hawthorne, people had told us that it was going to be a decent game as both teams were in a bit of form. It was at the MCG which is a very impressive stadium and we got seats behind one of the goals, reasonably high up and with an excellent view. We thought the game was OK, couldn't work out why there were about 10 referees and why the coaches were allowed to run onto the pitch and talk to their players whilst play was still going on but I managed to figure out most of the general rules. Both teams got booed off at half time and in the end Hawthorne won comfortably, something like 65-30. We thought it had been a decent game as we didn't know any better, however, when we got home and turned on the TV, they were describing it as possibly the worst game in the history of the sport! They kept going on about it for weeks and probably will talk about it forever.
The next day we went into town and there was a Sunday market which we had a look at, there was a place that did palm readings and that sort of stuff, was pretty cheap so I thought I'd do it for a laugh. I was expecting an old gypsy woman with a crystal ball but I got a large foreign man with a bad cough instead. He told me that my life line was long and I should live past my 70s unless I do anything stupid. He told me that I have not reached my full potential yet as one of my lines wasn't long enough but there is plenty of time for this to change. He told me I would get married once, when I am around 33 and probably not to my current girlfriend, he said he was reluctant to even call it a relationship which neither me nor Sophie (who was watching from outside the tent) were too impressed about. He also told me the insightful information that I would probably not work in Melbourne for my next job. Apparantly I will not work in an office but work with people, in the same kind of way a Doctor or dentist works with people, not sure what he was getting at there. When he asked me to pick 3 tarot cards, the first one told him that I have doodled my life away so far, achieving nothing as yet. The others were good and were something like I would have a happy marriage and a good life. He also told me I'd be financially secure.
We also went to Crown Casino which is the biggest casino in the southern hemisphere. I came out of there $54 better off so I was very pleased with myself.
We did a tour of the MCG which was very good, the guide told us lots of information and we saw the changing rooms, practice areas, all that sort of stuff.
Sophie's birthday was good, I bought her a jacket she hadn't stopped going on about, I bought it without telling her and she noticed it was gone from the shop but I convinced her that someone else had bought it, which made her very sad but obviously she was very pleased when she opened it. I also got her some books, magazines, nougat and a few other things. I filled the room with over 50 balloons for her which took me a long time and I was very out of breath by the end of it. I also took her to a nice restaurant near her work for lunch and then to see Zodiac at the cinema in the evening so it was a good day.

Sydney
We checked out of Acland Apartments and got the night bus to Sydney, leaving at 8pm and arriving 8:30am. We checked into a hostel for the first night and met up with Joe Sunter and Rob Middleton in the evening for a few beers. The next day we moved into Robbie's apartment which was very nice and stayed on a camp bed he borrowed from a mate. We went out that night and had far too much to drink. The rest of the the week we did an open top bus tour of the city and Bondi beach, climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge at night time, went to a bar made of ice called Minus 5, though the actual temperature was -16 degrees! It had ice sculptures, the glasses and seats were made of ice, it was great but very cold obviously.
Rob took us and an ex girlfriend called Candie out for a meal at Doyles Fish Restaurant which is apparantly quite famous and was a really good meal. I managed to get the flu during the week in Sydney which was pretty horrible but it only lasted about 5 days.

Byron Bay
We got another night bus, this time leaving at 9pm and arriving 9:30pm. We didn't really do much there apart from walk to see a lighthouse. We stayed in a hostel recommended by my Dad after reading good reviews online but it turned out to be quite bad, we asked for a double, but it was at the back of an 8 bed dorm. It was very smelly!

Surfer's Paradise
Next stop was Surfer's Paradise where we made friends with a Kiwi girl and a few English people in our dorm. We went shopping with Kate the Kiwi at Pacific Fair, a large shopping centre where I picked up an excellent comedy t-shirt. That night we went to see Pirates of the Caribbean 3. The next day we went to Dream World, a big theme park which was a lot of fun and had some brilliant rides, it wasn't too busy so there was no queueing. Dream World is where the Australian Big Brother house is so we saw the set of that and all the people watching about 50 monitors in a room.
It may have been paradise for surfers but not for us as it rained a fair bit while we were there.

Noosa
When we got to Noosa, we climbed up this massive steep hill with all our bags to check in to a hostel we had booked online the day before. Unfortunately they had emailed us back to say they were full but we didn't get it. Back down the hill and onto the bus for another hostel. Noosa was quite nice but very cold for some reason, it's not meant to be cold in Queensland! We went to Australia Zoo (Steve Irwin's zoo) and saw all the croc's, kangaroos and all the other Aussie animals they had there, it was a good day but not the most impressive zoo we have been to on this trip. They are still building and making it bigger though.

Fraser Island
Next up was Hervey Bay which we went to so that we could go on the Fraser Island safari, this is an island made entirely of sand, the biggest sand island in the world apparantly. We went for 3 days, 2 nights in a big 4 wheel drive which we had to drive ourselves, we had a group of 11, 3 Danish lads, an Italian girl, 3 English guys and 2 English girls. Everyone was lovely and we were very lucky to get such a good group. I was the only male that could drive as you had to be over 21, all 4 girls could drive but one of them hadn't driven for 2 years and the Italian girl was too scared as everything was on the other side and she's used to automatics. Therefore me, Megan and Sophie did most of the driving, with Charlie pitching in too. It was quite weird driving such a huge vehicle, especially as I haven't driven for 9 months and the roads were not the best as you can imagine.
We went to see various lakes and lookout points, camping near the beach both nights. It was so cold at night Sophie thought she was going to get frost bite. The girls cooked us food and we drank alcohol, sang songs and had a good time. There were lots of dingo's lurking around which terrified Chiara the Italian but they were just looking for food to steal from us. There was a rather large and more than likely poisonous spider on our tent in the morning which was a bit worrying but nobody got bitten or anything. The weather for the first 2 days was great but it rained the last day unfortunately which was when we went to Lake McKenzie, which when sunny, is meant to be one of the nicest places you could wish to be. The stars at night were a highlight for me, I've never seen so many stars in the sky.
I'm rushing now as I only have 2 minutes left!

We have arrived in Airlie beach and tomorrow go sailing around the Whitsundays for 3 days, 2 nights. Unfortunately the weather is pretty bad but hopefully it won't affect the snorkling and other activities.
10 weeks on Sunday when we get home, keep in touch between now and then, I won't leave it as long before the next blog!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy Birthday Sophie

Just wanted to say a big Happy Birthday to Sophie who is 23 today. I'm sure she'd want me to write thanks to everyone who sent her cards. She hasn't opened the presents I bought her yet, she's saving them for tonight when she gets back to work. I'm meeting her at lunch time as I'm not working this week.
There's a few things for me to write about but I'll do it tomorrow or Thursday when I've got more time, I'll also try once more to get some more photos on here.
Come back soon for information about Aussie Rules at the MCG, Palm readers, Malvern in Melbourne and some other things I've forgotten just now.
Happy Birthday :-)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Update

Thanks to everyone that sent me a birthday card and all the emails and texts, much appreciated.
The night before my birthday Sophie took me to see Mr Bean's Holiday, it was being shown in a room called The Half Pipe at the cinema, it didn't have seats, instead it had a dozen or so big beanbags to seat 2 or 3 people each which was different.
On my birthday Sophie made me a fry-up for breakfast while I opened my presents (thanks for those they were all great) and cards, and a special tea consisting mainly of party food and a cake that Sophie had half made herself, there was so much I'm still finishing it off now. She also decorated the room with balloons, banners, etc which was great. They also got me a cake at work.
The night after, we went into town for a mystery present. It turned out to be a night tour of Old Melbourne Gaol which was really excellent. It was all done in spooky candlelight and hosted by an old hangman (or at least someone pretending to be an old hangman), who did a very good job. We saw the cells, where people were hanged and punished, got told about various executions and famous inmates of the jail including Ned Kelly.

Last Thursday night I went out with the other guys and girls (10 of us) I work with to a restaurant because my boss finished work on Friday. Had a very good meal, especially as it was free! Sadly it was staff only so Sophie had to stay at home by herself.

Unfortunately Sophie's job ended on Friday as they decided they didn't need anyone, after previously saying she could have the job until we left. She has been working in the call centre again this week and is hating it but at least it's better than nothing at all, hopefully something else will come up for next week.

Last weekend was very good, we went on a Great Ocean Road tour on the Saturday, seeing various picturesque sights along the coast, lots of koalas at a sanctuary and then I paid for us to go on a 10 minute helicopter ride over the "12 apostles" which was very exciting and gave us fantastic views, it was an early birthday treat for Sophie, less than 2 weeks till her birthday now so get your cards in the post!

On Sunday we went on a tour to Ramsay Street. The tour started off with us meeting a former star of the show, Libby Kennedy, who was very friendly and posed for photos, signed autographs and answered questions. Then off we went in our special Neighbours decorated tour bus to see the school, Erinsborough High, which is actually called something like Blackburn Language College but magically transforms when they hang a sign up from their props department. Then it was on to Ramsay Street itself, which isn't really called that. The first thing we noticed is that it is absolutely tiny, they do a good job of tricking us into thinking it's quite big on TV but actually there are only about 6 houses in the whole road. They have a 24 hour security guard there, though he must have been in his 60s so not sure how good he would be against a gang of yobbos.

I better get back to work as Dale, the lady I work with, is off sick so I have lots to do. She has handed her notice in aswell, so they now need a replacement for the boss, her and me. The other lady here is pregnant so she'll finish in a few months too!

Keep the messages coming.

Monday, April 30, 2007

23 tomorrow!

Things have gotten better since the last blog. Sophie now has employment until we leave, she is working on reception and doing admin duties for a software company just down the road from where I am still working. She is working 40 hours a week and is enjoying it as the people there are all nice. I intend to work until the 18th May so that I will have a week off where I can do and see some of the things I haven't had chance to do before, while Sophie is planning on working an extra week as she has worked less than me and could do with the extra weeks pay.
On Saturday we went on a tour to Philip Island to see the "Penguin Parade" which features the worlds smallest penguins coming home from a day in the sea. They are 33cm tall so about the size of a shoe and it was great fun watching them come out of the sea, take a look around, signal that it's OK to their friends who come and join them and then they either make a run for it across the beach or get scared and run back into the water because they saw a seagull. We then saw them marching along all the way back to their little burrows. There were several hundred penguins but apparantly there are about 60,000 on the island.
We also went wine tasting on the tour and went to an animal sanctuary and got to hand feed kangaroos aswell as see other animals up close including wallabies, dingos, wombats, koalas and emus.
Yesterday we went to the observatory which is in the city centre and offers incredible views of Melbourne, we may go back again during the evening to see what it looks like at night time as many of the buildings here look nice when lit up.
Next weekend we are doing a trip on the famous Great Ocean Road and also going to see the set of Neighbours.
We have had a bit of rain in the past few days which is good as there is a major water shortage here, thankfully we haven't got wet yet as it's been raining at night or when we were on the trip. Today is gloriously sunny.
As I've got a while longer until the end of my lunch break I'll tell you a few random observations I've made about Australia:
The Prime Minister looks like Norris from Coronation Street and regularly makes ridiculous statements that upset lots of people.
There are many more adverts on TV as there are in England, for example, during one episode of The Simpsons there will be about 5 or 6 ad breaks.
Fosters is definitely not the Australian national drink they'll have us believe in England. Whilst I have seen a few places that serve it, the majority don't.
Whenever you make or take a phone call, you can guarantee the person on the other end will say "How ya going?" and often don't wait for a reply before carrying on the conversation. When I answer the phone at work and they say "How ya going?" I'll say "I'm good thanks" and they then say "Yeah I'm not bad thanks" even though I didn't ask how they were.
Not all Australians have snags from the barbie every day. There are several places that offer free BBQs for public use which is a good idea.
In Melbourne, if you don't like the weather, just wait 15 minutes and it will change.

Better get back to work now I suppose. I turn 23 tomorrow and have had some cards arrive from England so I'll look forward to opening those. Sophie has booked something for the 2 of us on Wednesday evening but it's a surprise so I don't know what it is yet. We may go to the cinema tonight and have a special birthday tea tomorrow.
Remember to leave us some comments guys, emails are always welcome too. Anyone from BGCC, how did we get on last weekend?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Weak week

Unfortunately Sophie hasn't had much luck this past week. She was still looking for a full time job as her Nestle one is only 5 hours a day so she was quite annoyed when Renee, our Hays recruitment lady called to tell her that Nestle no longer needed her, this call came late on Tuesday morning (Monday was a holiday) as she forgot to tell her last week. This was especially annoying as she had turned two jobs down earlier that day as they were only for one day's work. She managed to get a days work on Friday but because she was so good she can't go back there on Monday (she finished all the work in one day). Hopefully a decent job will come along this week. I'm paying extra rent as I'm still working at Intermec, hopefully for a few more weeks at least.
Yesterday we went on the City Circle tram which takes you around the city and gives you a guided tour, there's several places we saw that we want to take a closer look at in the coming weeks.
Thanks for the comments/emails/texts you've sent us, keep them coming. I'm still trying to find somewhere I can upload all the photos.
PS It's my birthday in just over 2 weeks (May 1st) - get your cards in the post quick :-P

Thursday, April 05, 2007

April Fools!

How many of you fell for my April Fool's joke then? That's right, we didn't go and see the Turtles film at all, fooled you!
Just kidding... of course the real joke was about staying in Oz to work. We will still be home August 26th.
My USB stick won't work on the PC at work so I'm going to have to try and do the photos somewhere over the weekend but it's not as easy as it sounds so please be patient.
Not much else to report so have a good Easter everyone.
Leave a comment if you fell for the joke.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Exciting stuff

Well we've got some pretty big news today. I had a call last night from my boss and he has offered me the chance to train as an Intermec technician, we had talked about it in the past week and he's had the OK from his bosses in the US to take on someone new.
I have to let them know by Tuesday but it's looking likely that I'll take it. Sophie has seen a Forensic Psychology course and may sign up to that if I take the job. Training is for 18 months and then I could either stay in Australia or work for the company in their UK branch. The starting salary is the equivalent of about 21,000 pounds which is great.
Taking the job would entitle me to have a 4 year visa, though Sophie would still be on her 1 year visa, which means that if I do accept the offer... we have to get married!
I guess this means it might be a bit longer until I see you all again but you're all more than welcome to come and visit us
Not much else to report, we've just been to watch the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie which I managed to convince Sophie to see with me. Next we've got Mr Bean and the new Transformers film when it's out though I think I may be watching that one alone.
I'll let you know what happens about the job, watch this space!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Settled at last


We are now fully settled into our new home at Acland Apartments. This means we have a fixed address until probably around 15-20th May, my birthday is May 1st and Sophie's is May 22nd so feel free to send us a card or something but send it early! Our address is:

Unit 4, 52 Acland Street, St Kilda, Melbourne, VIC 3182, Australia

It's not massive but it's big enough and the bathroom is a reasonable size aswell, we have a TV, microwave, kettle and sink in our room and there are full kitchen facilities down the corridoor.

We've been working very hard and waking up at 7am has been killing me. It's nice to see the money in the bank though.

Hopefully I'll be able to get photos on here in the next week during lunch at work, couldn't do it this week as the PC doesn't read DVDs.

Last night we went out with Claire, Sophie's brother's friend. We went looking for a restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet but it was almost impossible to find as it has a sign the size of a postage stamp and a very well hidden entrance. They told us it was a minimum of $30 per head so we went elsewhere to a Thai restaurant and had a good feed then went for a few drinks.

Last Sunday we went to Sophie's Mum's best friend's house and she cooked us a delicious meal and home made cake for pudding. Apart from that we haven't been up to too much this week as we've been so tired after work!

I hear that I won the Bowler of the Year awards for the Saturday 4ths and Sunday 2nds. I will have to do something pretty special in the 2 weeks left of the season when I return if I want to retain them next year.
Please enjoy the hilarious photo of me and Gareth Bakewell. Look out for more photos this week.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Home sweet home (hopefully)

At last we have a flat! At least we should have, in theory. We've agreed to move into a studio apartment in St Kilda for $310 a week on Sunday. We haven't actually seen the room but have seen one similar to it and it was very very nice with a big bathroom and kitchen facilities in the room. Sophie called the guy up and agreed to take it immediately as otherwise it would goto someone else in a flash. It's more than we planned to spend on a place but it really is nice and we were starting to get desperate.
We've looked at a fair few places now and had many disappointments with landlords not turning up as they gave it away earlier in the day, people seeing us but having already agreed to give it to someone else but they want a backup plan, awful places and places where they see 20 people about the room and choose who they like the best.
It's in a good location with loads of bars and cafes nearby aswell as the beach. There's a McDonalds opposite (not that either of us eat the food but the milkshakes are good). Though last week when I came out of the McDonalds a rat ran over my flip-flopped foot which was disgusting.
We've finished our first full week of work now and I am absolutely shattered, 8:30 - 5 every day is hard work when you haven't done it for 6 months. The money will be much appreciated, though they take about 30% of it for tax.
Sophie has been going to a thing called Bikram's Yoga, which is yoga but in a room heated to 40 degrees. She's been enjoying it a lot and coming home very sweaty indeed!
We went out for a few drinks with Bakewell who, for the first time ever, had to call it an early night as he was too tired after not sleeping for 2 days. Our other friends that came out, an American and an Aussie, couldn't understand his accent which was quite funny and possibly for the best.
The Grand Prix last weekend was great, thanks Dan for convincing us to go. It was incredibly loud, even with earplugs. It was won by Kimi Räikkönen. An Englishman called Lewis Hamilton came 3rd on his debut Grand Prix which got a lot of applause, while David Coulthard drove over the top of another car for a spectacular crash.
There were all sorts of other things going on, most notably the air displays which were good entertainment before the race began.
Must go as it's coming up to Midnight soon and I'm all tuckered out after my week of work.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The fat man is in town

Just a quick one as I'm in my lunch break at work, I'll try and put a big update on Saturday with all the things that I've missed.
I'm working for Intermec and it's quite good, the people are nice and the job, whilst very repetitive, isn't too bad, though it is very busy and it's hard getting up at 7am every day.
Tonight I'm meeting up with Bakewell who is in Melbourne for one night only. I saw him for 5 minutes before work this morning, he's staying in the same hostel as we are. Apparantly tonight we're going out for some beers with "Jimmy Saville", leader of the famous Barmy Army (that's the England cricket fans for Will). Whether this is just one of Bakewell's many outrageous claims or not remains to be seen but I'm sure we'll have a good night out whatever happens, just have to make sure I don't drink any concoctions he gives me or I won't be at work tomorrow.
Haven't found a place to live yet, we've been looking at places and they've either not been good enough or been given to someone else!
Send me a text you cheapskates, it only costs 25p or something, I'll send you one back: +61410982712
Got to get back to work now, bye bye everyone, bye bye.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Good news

So today I got mugged in the street... No I'm just kidding, my passport has been found. The cleaners or someone put my bag of goodies and some other things in another bag for some reason and it turned up this afternoon.
Unfortunately it has cost me $145 (minus tax) which is a days pay, I was meant to start my new job today but had to wait around for the police to turn up, which they didn't, the policewoman wasn't even at work today I eventually found out.
I start next Monday for at least 2 weeks doing admin and various other things for a company called Intermec who make barcode readers and PDA's I think.
Sophie had her first day today working for Nestle, she's on her way home now and said it was OK but very boring, it does seem she got to surf the net all day though.
In fact she has just arrived and bought me a free Smarties ice cream and a giant Kitkat. Good job I bought her a surprise pack of nougat and a pearl milk tea!
There are people selling earplugs on the street for the Grand Prix which is funny.
We're going to look at a room tonight, tomorrow and Monday so let's hope one of them is suitable.
Thanks for everyone who commented/emailed me their support.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Unbelievable

After everything that happened yesterday, we thought things were getting better when we had a call early this morning to say we had a days work (it turned out to only be 2.5 hours but better than nothing!). We then had another call to say we had some jobs for next week aswell. HOWEVER...
When we checked into our new hostel we were in a major rush as we had to get to work ASAP so we left our things on the bed and off we went. When we came back there was a big Dutch guy on my bed and all my stuff had been put on the floor or on the bed above. He said the bed was like that when he came in so the cleaners must of moved it.
I then realised my passport has been taken. It was inside a folder that was in a plastic bag with some other folders on my bed. The cleaners may have thrown it away or something for some reason but we have hunted through the bins and found nothing.
I am so sad at the moment I just want to cry and come home but I can't because someone else has my passport. Burgled twice in 2 days at 2 different hostels, I can't believe it and just don't know what to do.
I am not going to work tomorrow when I was meant to start my new job as I will wait to talk to the police and the cleaners.
We were having a good time in Australia but now I hate it. My whole trip is being ruined. Let's see what happens next, I guess my wallet or tickets are the only things left to be stolen, or maybe I'll be run over by a tram.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Worst... Day... Ever.

Today has been a nightmare day, I'll tell you the major incident first. Some low-life broke into our room and stole both our cameras (mine had 2GB of photos, I was going to put them on DVD tonight.. typical) and $40 of Sophie's money. They did something to the door and managed to force the lock, we're staying in a dorm which is opened by swipe card. They also did it to about 10 other rooms in our corridoor. I was the first to notice and when I mentioned it to someone they realised it had happened to them too and soon everyone was saying they'd been broken into.
The police came and have given us a crime number so we can get some money back off the insurance but that's not going to get my photos back, I am completely gutted. The policeman said it happens regularly at Hotel Bakpak and they have never once managed to get a single item back. They have no CCTV or anything.
Other things that went wrong today include the cleaners throwing Sophie's shorts and t-shirt in the bin for some reason, also Sophie's flip flop broke in the middle of town so she had to walk all the way back barefoot. Then there was our Japanese room mates who woke us up at 1am when they came in and spent about half an hour taking off their plastic rain coats (it doesn't rain here, there is a severe water shortage), they then woke us up at 6am putting on their plastic rain coats and packing their bags. The morning before they got up at 6am, turned the lights on so they could take a picture of them in the room and went out!
We haven't found a place to live yet, we looked at a really great place yesterday but they don't know when the room will be free as the other guy hasn't found a place to move into yet so that's useless for us. We registered with 2 job agencies today and did some tests to find out how good we are on the computer, obviously I came out as excellent and Sophie got very good scores too so hopefully they'll find us something. They said there may be a data entry job for 3 days next week for me which would be a start I guess but we'll see.
There's probably other stuff I should mention but I'm too upset to think properly. We went to a really amazing firework show (I had a great video on my camera), met up with our friend Mel from our Uluru trip, I've heard from Sunter and Bakewell so may meet up with them at some point. We saw a birdman contest which was funny, though sadly the videos are now in possession of some criminal mastermind.
I'm going to have to get another camera before the Grand Prix on Sunday, also it's St Patrick's day on Saturday so I'm sure there would have been some great photo opportunities there. My credit card bill this month is going to be big.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Everybody needs good Neighbours


Last night was brilliant, we went to The Elephant and Wheelbarrow, a British pub where every monday they have a "Meet the Neighbours" night. We got there about 6:50 and had some food and a couple of drinks.
When we'd finished we went next door to where the event was being held, unfortunately there were no seats left for us, there were about 300 people (all British/Irish) and only about 100 seats so lots of us were left standing.
We waited patiently, having our drinks and chatting to a Welsh guy with an amusing nervous twitch for what seemed like hours, well, I guess it was hours. Around 9pm the host introduced Toadie who came on, answered a few questions and was very funny. Next was a new character called Rosetta, it was her first "Meet the Neighbours" night and she seemed a bit nervous. Finally the main man, jelly belly himself, Harold Bishop came onto stage and proved to be nothing at all like the character he plays. He was very funny and quite rude. All this was going on whilst we were singing football style chants "only one Harold Bishop" "Toadie Toadie Toadie", there was a very good atmosphere.
There was then a trivia quiz, though it was only for the people that managed to get tables really so we found a spot at the end of the bar and waited for the stars to come and see us, they worked their way around the whole crowd having their photos taken and briefly chatting with everyone.
Toadie was the first to come to us, had a quick chat and posed for some photos with us, next was Rosetta and finally we had to wait to be called to go and see Harold who suffers from arthritis so people go to see him rather than the other way round. He told Sophie she could do much better and have someone like himself instead of me! I explained that we were looking for a place to stay and seeing as he practically adopts every homeless person I asked if we could stay with him on Ramsey Street which made him chuckle and his multiple chins wobble.
It was getting quite late by this time but there was still a lot more entertainment to go, we watched Dr Karl's band, "Waiting Room" who were really good, I somehow got right to the front and joined my Welsh friend from earlier in proclaiming our love for the good doctor. Afterwards I got to meet and chat with him and his band, having a couple more photos taken. He said he did panto in Malvern and liked the place.
We are looking at an apartment tonight and another tomorrow so fingers crossed that they are good because living in a dorm is not nice. When we got home at 2am, there was a man asleep in my bed and another guy snoring his head off in the other bunk! They checked out at 5am and 6am, also there were some Irish guys next door seemingly having a party at 5 in the morning. After a lot of banging on the wall and shouting for Paddy and Murphy to be quiet they finally stopped and we managed half an hour of sleep.
Just wanted to wish my Grandma and Auntie Marie all the best, I know Grandma is waiting some results on recent tests she had and Auntie Marie has just had an Operation. Love to you both and we hope all goes well.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Melbourne

We're in Melbourne and staying at Hotel BakPak, though I think it's changing it's name to Hotel Discovery, anyway, it's a massive hostel with very basic rooms. Our flight over here was fine, though we were meant to watch Rocky Balboa but the tape was faulty so we ended up watching Dreamgirls :-/
When we arrived we discovered that they had somehow forgotten to put one of my bags on the plane, the one with all my clean clothes in amongst other things. As you can imagine I was a little annoyed. Luckily it turned up this morning so I don't have to keep wearing the same smelly t-shirt.
We walked around Melbourne yesterday getting a feel for the place, it seems pretty nice, lots of shops, bars and things to do. There also seems to be a high population of Chinese so hopefully that means there's going to be some good Chinese restaurants.
We are trying to find a room in a shared house at the moment, there wasn't really much in the paper today so we're going to try going to an agency later.
There is a part of Melbourne called Malvern so it would be funny if we ended up living there!
We will also be looking for jobs from Monday :-(
Happier news is that we are going to a "Meet the Neighbours" night on Monday where we can have some beers with Toadie, Sky and Harold Bishop whilst watching Karl Kennedy's band! We're going to do the Ramsey Street tour soon aswell.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Flies flies and more damn flies

Last time I forgot to mention that we went to a place that has literally about 200000 bats. It was incredible to see so many flying around and sleeping on the trees. There was a hot spring in the middle of the forest to go and look at and I got covered in bat poo which was lovely.
When we went out for a meal after the first 3 days, I noticed everyone looking at me all confused. Most of the group genuinely didn't recognise me and thought I was a stranger because I looked so different after a shave, shower, doing my hair and wearing some clean clothes!
We're back in Alice Springs again for a few more hours before our flight to Melbourne. We stayed last night at "Annie's Place" and had an excellent meal for a couple of pounds, though they did get Sophie's order wrong 4 times! We didn't get the best nights sleep because one of our roommates (there were 8 of us in the dorm) was snoring so badly he was almost on a par with my Dad. I got out of bed and started hitting him but he wouldn't wake up. Eventually his friend managed to roll him onto his side which stopped it for a while.
Our last 3 days on the trip were great, we had a new guide called Dermie who was a top bloke and had a bigger group this time of 22.
First of all we went to a camel farm where Sophie and I rode the camels which was great fun. We also saw some wallabies there (I still haven't seen a live kangaroo). We then went to Kata Tjuta and walked around there.
For the whole of the trip we were constantly surrounded by flies. I can't explain just how many there were and how annoying it was. We bought fly nets that go over your head but even still it was very irritating, I have photos of us with at least 100 flies on our backs and heads (outside the highly fashionable fly net).
We then went back to camp and slept outside, under the stars, though it was quite cloudly so we only saw about 3!
The next day it was up at 5am to go and see the sunrise at Uluru, the sky turned pink and turns Uluru different colours, it was very beautiful and words can't really do it justice. We then walked all the way around the rock which took about 3 hours.
We then went for a swim and headed back to camp where Dermie cooked us up a feast on the fire. It was one of the girls birthdays and he made her a chocolate cake and Sophie had bought candles and a card for everyone to sign, it was a good surprise for her as she didn't realise we all knew it was her birthday.
That night we slept outside in our swags again and this time the sky was clear so we had an amazing view of the stars when we woke up at 5:30am. There were dingos (like wild dogs) wandering around us when we were asleep, looking for things to steal but thankfully they leave humans alone.
In the morning we went to King's Canyon which was one of the best bits of the trip. It was about a 3.5 hour walk and the first bit is known as "Heart Attack Hill" as it is quite hard work. There were some incredible views and we went swimming in a pool in the canyon which was just what we needed to cool us down. Some of the photos we took are brilliant, there's one of Sophie sitting over the edge of a cliff with a 100m drop.
We then went for lunch and then set off on the long journey home. In the last 6 days we have travelled over 2600km in the back of a minibus with poor air conditioning. It was well worth it though. Hopefully we're going to meet up with some of the friends we made on this trip in Melbourne.
Leave some comments!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Alice Springs

Just a quickie, we are currently in Alice Springs and leave tomorrow to go and see Uluru (Ayers Rock). We've had a good time so far, there's 13 of us and we have a long haired, long bearded guide called Sauce who lives up to Australian stereotypes well. He also wears really short shorts all the time.
We've done lots of things that I'll write about in more detail next time perhaps. We've seen crocodiles, held snakes, slept in a swag, seen the devil's marbles, drank at the oldest pub in the Northern Territory (Daly Waters), swam in a waterfall at Katherine Gorge and more.
We've paid a bit extra to be upgraded from a dorm to a double room tonight but we won't be in it long as we get picked up at ridiculous o'clock tomorrow.
Apparantly Alice Springs isn't safe at night so it's a good job the pub is only 100 yards down the road.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

6 Day Trip Tomorrow

It seems like we have been in Darwin forever, there's really very little to do here but we have kept ourselves entertained by going to the cinema, a couple of the pubs that are decent, swimming in our pool, etc.
When we first went into our dorm we were shocked, there was one occupent, an Aussie called Campbell (that's his first name) and he had been living in squalor. There was food everywhere which was attracting hundreds of ants, his clothes were distributed across the entire room and it also didn't smell too pleasant. We managed to make it a bit tidier but were quite releaved when he checked out. We've had a few other roommates but no-one has stayed for more than a night, two of them weren't even in the room for more than 10 minutes before leaving (something we said?). One said it was too hot for her and another guy had lined up a hot date so he upgraded to a motel room.
We've seen 2 films, Deja Vu which wasn't bad and Hannibal Rising which was a bit disappointing.
We found a pub that does meals for under 1 pound 50, they obviously aren't great but they were OK to have a few nights, Sophie has cooked some tasty meals for us and we have been to a few restaurants the other nights.
The Aboriginals here are absolute nutters, they are always shouting in the street and we saw a couple of them having a fist fight the other day, a man and a woman. They also really stink of sweat, we were on a bus full of them and it was quite overpowering.
There have been some spectacular storms here during the nights with almost constant lightning which is good to watch, though having been struck by lightning when I was younger (yes it is true) I'm always a little worried.
Tomorrow we are going on a 6 day trip to Alice Springs, taking in the sites and doing various activities on the way. You can see our itinerary by clicking here. We are getting picked up at 5:30am which is a bit unfortunate.
Not many of you have bothered texting us... if you're worried about the cost, goto www.o2.co.uk and register your number on that (regardless of what network you're on), you can send 10 messages a month via the internet when you do that.
Don't know if we'll get online in the next week or if we'll have to wait until Melbourne so make sure we have some messages and emails waiting for us when we arrive. Haven't heard from some of you for a long long time.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Text us

We now have phone numbers so feel free to text us, though put your names at the end of the text as I don't have anyone stored in my phone! We are on Vodafone. Any of you that are in Oz, let us know your numbers.
Jamie - +61410982712
Sophie - +61410982891
By the way we moved into the dorm today... lovely! :-/

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

G'day mates

Well here we are in the land down under. Our flight to Darwin was alright apart from the fact we arrived at 4:30am. We are staying at The Cavenagh which is a very nice place with a big pool. We had a room booked for two nights and then planned to move into the dorms. Our room is great, fairly big, nice bathroom, fridge and a flatscreen TV. We are staying in the room for one extra night because Sophie is a bit poorly with a bad stomach so we're hoping the extra bit of luxury will help her recovery.
Darwin is a strange city.. it's like a ghost town, there is more life in Malvern! There are quite a lot of Aboriginal people here and they are very strange, walking round with no shoes on, lying down in the middle of the path and shouting randomly to no-one in particular.
We are going to get sim cards later today so you will be able to text us if you so desire.
Some other observations: Australia's version of Deal or No Deal is not even close to the quality of our own with Noel. Watching Neighbours here is weird. I haven't seen one person throwing a few snags on the barbie yet. People don't actually walk around on their heads.
Happy Valentines Day!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Goodbye Asia

This will be a quick, rushed blog as we have to leave soon to get our flight to Australia, I'll try and get online soon in Oz to fill you in on the things I forget to mention now.
We had a good week with Sophie's parents, going on a sight seeing tour and seeing a traditional Balinese house, a temple, Ubud, a volcano and various other bits and pieces. We had lots of tasty meals (Thanks very much to Sophie's Dad!), though unfortunately after trying one of Sophie's Mum's mussels one night I was on the toilet all the next day, being poorly from both ends, I will be avoiding seafood like that from now on.
We went to the Gili Islands for 4 days, we stayed on Gili Trawangan which was quite good, though there's nothing to do there really other than go diving (which is why we went there). It seems to be a place for druggies to go as everywhere was advertising that they sell magic mushrooms and we got offered (and turned down) marijuana on many occasions. Also they have no motorized vehicles, the only form of transport is by horse and cart! There are no dogs on the island but there are more cats than people.
We did our PADI advanced open water course which was great fun, we had a french guy named Louis with a funny shark tattoo on his torso as our instructor. We did 5 dives to improve our skills; peak performance buoyancy, deep dive (30m/100ft), a ship wreck (no hidden treasure though), a night dive which was quite scary as it was pitch black apart from our little torches and underwater navigation where we had to use compasses and natural navigation to find our way round.
So now we are all prepared to dive on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
We are in Darwin for 10 days or so and then do a 6 day trip to Alice Springs and then fly to Melbourne, I think we get to Melbourne on March 1st.
I have no idea what the internet cafe situation is like in Australia but I'm sure I'll be able to get on sometime in the next week.
Thanks for the comments - Aled good to hear from you! Brandon, give me an email (jamielongmore [at] hotmail dot co dot uk)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Surfing in Bali

After the Philippines we went back to Kuala Lumpur where we Watched an awful film caled "Epic Movie" and Went to Petronos Twin Towers (Supposedly the tallest buildings in the world).
We then spent 2 days and 1 night in Singapore, where we stayed at "The Inn Crowd" which is meant to be the ultimate backpackers hostel. I'm not sure about that but it was quite good, we had a TV and DVD player in our room and a bunk bed where the top bunk was a double. We looked around the many shopping centres but decided against buying any cheap electronics because it wasn't worth the hassle of avoiding being ripped off, too much effort! We also saw Singapore Cricket Club but as it was tipping it down there were no games on. We had a delay at the airport by a couple of hours, Singapore airport is meant to be the best in the world with cinemas, bowling, etc. We seemed to be in the wrong part to experience all that but it was better than being stuck in some of the places we've been to.
We arrived in Bali at 2:30am and got a taxi to our hotel which was OK, big bed and TV, though it stank of smoke for some reason. We had 2 days booked there and moved to a cheaper (but still good) place, we have a little swimming pool, aircon and a bathtub.
Bali is nice, it's incredibly hot, probably the hottest place we've been to. This is meant to be the rainy season but it hasn't looked like raining once yet. You get hassled a lot walking down the street, every 10 seconds you hear "You wan't Billabong T-shirt", "How much you pay for those Oakleys, I'll give you cheaper" (I hope they would be cheaper than my genuine Oakleys which cost 90 pounds!).
We met up with Sophie's parents last night who are holidaying here for a week or so and went for a lovely meal over near their beach and they are coming to our bit tonight.
The last two days we have been having surfing lessons which was a lot of fun. I managed to pick it up quite quickly and can now stand up and steer my way into the beach most times. Hopefully we'll do some more surfing in Australia, sadly there's not that many places to do it in Malvern.
Keep the comments coming.