A Travellerspoint blog

Rainbow Beach to Rockhampton

-17 °C

Our next stop was Rainbow Beach, a small seaside town on the sunshine coast (and we really mean small). The reason we were stopping here was to go sea kayaking with dolphins, however this didn't go to plan as it was cancelled because it was too windy and it was deemed unsafe to go out. This was a little annoying because if it wasn't for the sea kayaking and the 2 free nights accommodation we got with tribal travel we wouldn't have stopped there, it was very small and very boring, just becasue it has a nice name doesn't mean its going to be a nice place.

Next was Hervey Bay which was our stop over point before going to Fraser Island. As part of the package we bought we were to do a 4x4 self drive tour of the island where we would stay at an aboriginal camp. Though Hervey was still a small seaside town we both prefered it to Rainbow Beach, the weather was much better and we celebrated by getting ice cream sundaes. Mmmm tasty! Then we met our group for our Fraser Island trip (who unfortunatley were all French) and we were briefed on "Dingo Safety" as Fraser Island has a large inhabitant of Dingos. We were also shown a rather scary video on the hazzards of Fraser Island and all the accidents people have had driving on the sand.

On our first day of our Fraser tour we drove from Hervey to the nearest port to get a ferry to Fraser Island, once we arrived on the island we did the 60km journey to our campsite while making a few stops along the way. The first stop was Lake McKenzie which is a fresh water lake in the middle of the island. It was incredibly beautiful and also incredibly cold. We stopped briefley for lunch where Katy was harrased by a Kookabora and had some cheese stolen, after that it was a short drive to the beach and then simply travelling north up the island until we reached the campsite (stopping briefly at the Moheano Shipwreck along the way). The aboriginal camp that we stayed at was really nice, especially the Aboriginals who ran it. There was a lovely old aboriginal lady who would come and talk to us each night and we told her about how we had done the abororiginal workshop in Brisbane and had a didgeridoo lesson she was suprised that Katy had tried the didgeridoo and informed her that according to aboriginal beliefs if women play or touch the didgeridoo they'll become pregnant. Katy told her that she doesn't think her Mum would be pleased if she came back from the trip pregnant!!! That night we sat around the camp fire and wactched them put on a traditional aboriginal dance, where we all got our faces painted in traditional aboriginal style. We certainly missed the warmth of the fire that night as we almost froze to death in our sleeping bags!!

On our second day we drove to a place called Indian Head where we could watch Whales and Dolphins!! Then we made a short walk up to Champagne Pool, a rock pool that has waves crashing over it. Though both these places were nice they had nothing in comparison to Lake McKenzie. It was about now that we started to have a few troubles with the 4x4, the clutch was playing up or something! It was also at this point that we started to get sick of the French people we were with. They lived up to every stereotype and were extremely arrogant and very very rude. Later that night they offered to cook dinner and ended up burning all the rice. Idiots!!

Our third day on the island was a right off (much like our car) as the clutch had completley died on us. We ended up being towed off the island. This turned out to be alot more interesting than we had hoped. We both sat in the mechanics car while the French sat in the broken 4x4. When we first set off the mechanic opened a beer while driving and was searching around behind him for a stubby holder whilst not looking where he was going. He certanily was a character, if anyone has seen the film Wolf Creek you will undrestand why we were a little scared. Later when we were travelling through the forest the French almost managed to crash the car into a tree which caused the mechanic to curse a lot more than was really neccesary. Though it was directed at the french not us so we didn't really mind. Ces't la vie. We eventually made it back to the ferry and were picked up from the port by our Hostel and were very glad to get back and get clean!!!

Our next stop was Bundaberg, which was a bit of a non event, we were going to spend a few days there but ended up leaing within 24 hours. The only thing of note was going to the Bundaberg rum distillery where we learned that neither of us liked the smell of Bundaberg rum and Katy especially didn't like the taste.

Next was Rockhampton (The Steak capital of Australia) where unsurprisingly we went to eat steak and took advantage of the free internet at our hostel.

Posted by katyjamie 05:04 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Coffs Harbour to Noosa

-17 °C

After leaving Sydney we got the overnight bus to Coffs Harbour arriving at 5.30am in the morning Katy slept like a baby but Jamie didn't sleep very well on the bus. As we arrived so early in the morning we weren't able to get a pick up to the hostel but according to Katy's excellent map reading skills it didn't look too far so we decided to walk it. After walking with our backpacks on for about an hour and a half we came across an abandoned Woolworths trolley to put our packs in and wheel the rest of the way (which was a life saver as we were about to drop!!). We arrived at the hostel just after 7 and were able to get a double room for what we were paying in Sydney for our dorm beds. After our long bus journey and walk the first thing we did in Coffs Harbour was to get a few hours sleep before exploring the town.

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Coffs Harbour was a fairly small town and reminded both of us of an American Hick town but everyone was really friendly and there was a bar in our hotel called the Hoey Moey where we entered the pool competition one night (Jamie got knocked out during the first round, Katy got to round 3!!) and then the next night Jamie entered the poker competition where he won a couple of free drinks, they also served free pizza at the bar which was great for our budget.

The main highlight of our stop at Coffs Harbour was going to see the Big Banana!! Which is exactly what it sounds like.

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After Coffs Harbour we headed up to Byron Bay which was a really cool hippy town we didn't really do much whilst we were here apart from look around the many surf shops they have and go into the backpacker travel places to find out about the trips we wanted to book up the east coast.

Brisbane was our next stop which we weren't very impressed with, it's not that there was anything wrong with Brisbane as such but it was just another city. Also we didn't like the hostels we stayed in at Brisbane, when we first got there the hostel we were originally planning on staying at was booked out so we ended up staying at Somewhere to Stay which was exactly what it says as the kitchen was fairly small for the amount of people staying there and the bathroom was a bit grubby. We stayed there for 4 nights as we had a voucher where if we stayed 3 nights we got 1 night free. Then for the last 2 nights we decided to book into the hostel we were orignally going to stay at as it was right by the bus depot and we also had another voucher to get $10 our first night. However it was only once we got there that we realised the cheapest dorm room that we'd booked into held 30 people!!!! Which was more people than we'd stayed with in all the hostels we'd been in so far. On our first night here one of the girls got back from work at 4am and was talking outside the room, a french girl who had just arrived that night went out and asked her to be quiet a couple of times before eventually going out and throwing a glass of water over her!!! Which certainly didn't shut the other girl up and in the end every one in the dorm was awake and we were asking ourselves why we'd changed hostels. But it certainly wasn't an uneventful night at least. Our second night was less eventful with most people being too scared to make any noise!!

Whilst in Brisbane we booked our East Coast Package with Tribal Travel which included a boomberang painting workshop and digeridoo lesson, a 3 day and 2 night Noosa Everglades Canoe Safari, a 3 day and 2 night self drive camping safari on Fraser Island, sea kayaking with dolphins and 3 days and 2 night sailing the Whitsundays.

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The boomerang painting workshop and didgeridoo lesson was done in Brisbane where we got to learn about aborginal art and what the different symbols meant whilst painting our own boomerangs (Jamie's looks like an original piece of aborignal art Katy's looks like an aborignal childs masterpiece). We then also got taught how the play the didgeridoo both of us could make a noise but not much else. The man teaching us was able to make it sound like a dingo and a cuckobura.

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After Brisbane we headed to Noosa where we got the free bus to Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo where we both fed Kangaroos and held a Koala. We also watched the daily show where in true Crocadile Hunter style we got to watch the crocadiles being fed.

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We then went on our 3 day and 2 night Noosa Everglades canoe and camping safari up Noosa's river of mirrors. We both expected to have a tour leader with us on the trip but after collecting the camping gear and being shown how to use the canoes we were given a map of where to canoe and where we would be camping and told they'd see us in 3 days!!! So off we canoed up the river to our camping ground with the other 7 people in our group.

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The canoe safari was good but really really exhausting!! We didn't capsise at all mainly because the water is so still. On the first day we canoed for 7km then the next day we canoed 6.5km then walked 6km up the mountain to the sand patch then 6km back down and 6.5km back to camp and then on the last day we canoed back another 7km to where we got picked up. So in total we walked 12km and canoed 27km. In the mornings we saw wild Kangaroos near the campsite as well which was cool. The river was really nice as it's called the river of mirrors so everything reflects into it.

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We then treated ourselves to pizza and beer when we got back to the hostel in Noosa for all our (or should we say Jamie's) hard work!!

Posted by katyjamie 01:39 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Sydney

-17 °C

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We arrived in Sydney on Thursday evening and were a little worried about having some of our souveniors confiscated whilst going through customs (as some of the Ozzies on our trip in Asia had told us how strict they are in Austalia as to what they allow into the Country). So to make sure we didn't get a fine we declared our photo frames that were made out of elephant dung and some picture frames that were made out of wood and Jamie even declared his boil sweets!!! But it turned out we were worrying about nothing as we made it through customs successfully with all our souveniors and boiled sweets.

We then went outside the airport to find our free shuttle bus that would take us to our hostel. There was a noticeable difference in temperature when we went outside the airport in comparrison to what we had got use to in Asia (we were suprised to find outside colder than the air conditioning inside the airport!) although it is "winter" in Australia at the moment so we did expect it to be a bit cooler. We then found a man holding a sign with the name of our hostel on it advertising the free shuttle, although after becoming so wary in Asia about all the scams with the buses we were a little wary as to whether the shuttle would actually take us to our hostel but then we remembered that we were in Australia now! Our shuttle bus driver was lovely and gave us a little bit of a city tour going past the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge before dropping us off at our hostel. Where we went straight to bed for some much needed sleep!!

The next morning we woke up to a lovely sunny winters day more like our spring. And we went for a walk around the city and through the Botanical gardens (where we saw a million huge fruit bats sleeping upside down on the trees) down to the harbour to see the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge which were both very impressive. That night the hostel organised a BBQ with free wine on the roof which looked out over the city.

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The next day we took the bus to Bondi Beach where we had some fish shop chips on the beach for lunch and then did the coastal walk to Coogee beach.

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Whilst in Sydney we also visited Sydney Aquariam on Darling Harbour where we got to walk underneath sharks swimming above us and also see platypus's, turtles, seals, penguins and lots of other marine life including Nemo (clown fish)!! We would have liked to have done the Harbour Bridge climb but due to us being on quite a tight budget we decided to just walk across the bridge on the pedestrian footpath instead to Milsons Point. Where there are great views of the harbour and the Opera House, we also went to Luna Park to take our picture by the big clown face entrance (however the day we went the park wasn't actually open so we weren't able to go on any of the rides).

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We also visited the New South Wales Art Gallery and went to see Cicus Oz at the Opera house. The hostel also organised a wine and cheese night on the roof for us one night. Katy commented how sophisticated we were having wine and cheese nights, going to art gallerys and going to the Opera House. However Jamie reminded her that we were eating cheddar and drinking $4 wine out of a box, only going to the art gallery because it was free and going to see the Circus at the Opera House!!

When we first arrived in Sydney we had 6 people in our 8 bed dorm room however by the 3rd day our room mates had diminished to just the two of us!! (due to it being low season and not because we smell!!). However a few days later we were joined by a german guy and girl and a british guy.

We spent 10 days in total in Sydney which is the longest we've stayed in one place at one time but after travelling so much we needed a bit of a rest before starting our journey up the east coast.

Posted by katyjamie 18:16 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Malaysia

Our journey to Malaysia was a little more eventful than we had hoped. After leaving Ko Pha-Ngan we arrived in Surat Thani to get our Bus to Georgetown (Malaysia). We were met off our bus by a man ushering us into his pick-up truck which was a little unnerving as we assumed we'd be picked up in another minibus. We were then dropped off at a rather grotty looking bus depot, here the attendant told us that we would have to get out 12000 baht (roughly 180 pounds) so that they could change it to Ringit (the Malaysian currency). They claimed that we needed this amount of money to cross the border and we wouldn't be allowed to cross if we didn't have this amount on us. Luckily we knew this was a scam and didn't hand over any money and told them that if infact we did need this money then we would get it once we had reached the border. After this attempted scam we were then taken on foot to another bus depot to wait for the bus, at this point we were getting very wary as to whether we would ever actually make it to Malaysia. We did consider just walking away and catching the train instead (Katy had heard that on some dodgy bus journeys they drug you then steal your stuff, they do this through water they give to you but Katy thought they did it through the air conditioning!). However after walking away and then deciding that we were on too much of a budget to not get the bus we went back to the bus depot and a minibus arrived to pick us up, however there was no one else on the bus so we were still very wary of getting on. But after waiting on the bus for a few mins we spotted another western couple our age who we'd seen in Ko Phangnan and were also heading to Malaysia so we felt better once they got on our bus and told us that they had had a similar experience to us since getting off the ferry and had been taken to a number of places before eventually getting on our bus. In the end the rest of the journey went well and we arrived safely in Malaysia, without being drugged or having anything stolen from us. Happy times!

Our first stop in Malaysia was Georgetown, a town on a small island just off from Malaysia's west coast. We must admit that it wasn't really as nice as we had first hoped, but just arriving was enough for us. We didn't really do much on our two days here, but to be honest there wasn't really much to do. We tried to find somewhere that did a decent curry be it seems that it is very hard to find any type of decent restaurant in Malaysia.

After two fairly uneventful days in Geroge Town we took an 8 hour bus journey to Kuala Lumpar. The thing that really stands out about Kuala Lumpar was the shopping centres, they were huge! One even had a theme park with a full sized roller coaster with loops and everything! Though as neither of us have much spare cash we spent our time window shopping rather than actually shopping.

Also while in Kuala Lumpar we visited the city forest, which as the name would suggest is a forest in the heart of the city. It is quite a strange experience to walk off a main road surrounded by sky scrapers and into a forest full of monkeys, snakes and scorpians. (We saw alot of monkeys but didn't actually see any snakes or scorpians just a lot of signs warning us about all the dangerous animals to be found in the forest, not that Katy was complaining about that)

As well as visitng the forset we went to see the KL tower and the twin towers, two huge buildings in Kuala Lumpars buisness district. The twin towers used to be the largest building in the world, we're not completley sure what is now. Though other than the fact that these two buildings were big there wasn't really much else to them.

After Kuala Lumpar we took another 8 hour bus journey, this time to Singapore, our final destination in South East Asia. We again spent our time window shopping as Singapore mainly full of shopping malls, hundreds of them!!We did however end up spending almost 12 hours at Singapore airport before flying to Australia. This was becasue our flight was at 7am, meaning check-in was at 5am. So we decided that rather than pay for a nights accommodation we would simply go to the airport at 10pm the night before. Luckily Singapore airport is quite amazing and there was plenty to keep us occupied while we waited, this included free internet, a swimming pool, a cinema and a cactus garden!! We were both relieved to get onto the plane after a going the whole night without any sleep. Katy fell asleep before the plane even took off and didn't even realise we were in the air when she awoke!!!

Posted by katyjamie 17:32 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Back to Bangkok and the Islands

We suprisingly had a safe flight back to Bangkok (after the train breaking down in Thailand and the bus breaking down at least 3 times in Cambodia we didn't hold much faith in the plane!!).

Our third time in Bangkok was probably our best, after travelling with the group through Cambodia and Vietnam we now felt like real travellers. And had now learnt how to say no thank you in Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese which can get you along way in Asia or can at least get rid of the the scam artists (They can speak perfect English when they're trying to get you in their tuk tuk or buy their gems but "no thank you" doesn't seem to be in their vocabulary until you say it in their own language). We had also learnt to not just bargain but bargain hard, you're kind of comprimised with feeling bad with bargaining in such a poor country but at the same time not wanting to be ripped off. So on our first night back Katy put her bargaining to work and got herself some comfy black fisherman pants for travelling in and a boob tube top on Koh San Road for roughly 5GBP for both which is roughly what she had paid on the first night just for her board shorts which at the time we thought was a bargain!!

We got back to Bangkok on a Saturday and decided to spend 3 nights there before heading to the islands. So before leaving Bangkok we decided to go to the weekend market again for some more bargains. Jamie bought 2 more t-shirts and Katy got a new tank top and a bracelet, the weather was a little cooler this time around and more stalls were open as last time it was during their new years celebrations so we were able to enjoy the whole experience a lot more.

The weather wasn't too great for our last day in Bangkok with it raining for most of the day so we didn't do much that day apart from buy our train/bus/boat combo to Ko Samui, buy a few last souveniors and a new blue poka dot bikini for the islands. Then Katy entertained/annoyed Jamie for the rest of the day singing "Katy wore an itsy bitsy teeny weeny blue poka dot bikini".

Then on Tuesday we checked out of our hotel and put our bags in the left luggage facility and killed a few hours on Koh San Road whilst waiting to leave for the train station to get our night train. At 5pm we got a tuk tuk to the station to get our 6pm night train.

We arrived in Surat Thani at 6am feeling a little worse for wear after little or no sleep on the train and still a 2 hour ferry journey to do. So by the time we arrived in Ko Samui and had been driven raound to a few hotels by our minibus driver we were both ready for food and sleep. So our first immpressions of Ko Samui were not great mainly due to severe food and sleep deprivation. But after some dinner and a good nights sleep everything was looking sunnier and better in the morning.

Ko Samui was one of the more expensive places we visted in Thailand mainly because it is so tourist orientated. Although after travelling for a month and a half in S.E. Asia we decided that maybe we'd become too acustomed to everything being so cheap when we were referring to a meal at a restaurant that cost the equivalent to 2GBP as being expensive as we were so use to paying between 50p-1GBP for a meal.

We spent 3 nights on Ko Samui before getting the ferry over to Ko Phangnan for another 3 nights. We didn't do too much on the islands to write about as we spent most days sunbathing by the beach, we bought a bat and ball to play with and had a bucket of vodka redbull on the beach (which was literally in a seaside bucket). The weirdest thing that happened on Ko Samui was when you walk down the main street at night you have people suddenly producing monkeys, snakes, lizards and eagles out of their jackets for you to pay to have photos with!!

Ko Phangnan was our favourite island out of the two, for one it was much cheaper than Ko Samui and the food at our hotel was some of the best food we ate in Thailand, it was also a much younger crowd of people mainly coming for the full moon party (which unfortunately we weren't able to stay for as we had to make our way down to Malaysia). Ko Phagnan also had a much more relaxed atmosphere with lots of funky hippy type stores.

Whilst in Ko Phangnan we bought another bus/boat/bus combo ticket to get to Georgettown in Malaysia. After our 3 nights on Ko Phangnan we got up at 5am to get our 6am bus to the ferry port. A minibus picked us up at 6am and we got our 2 hour ferry to the mainland and were given stickers so that we'd know what minibus to get when we reached Surat Thani (So far the journey was going well). Then we arrived in Surat Thani....

Posted by katyjamie 05:51 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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