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!