A Travellerspoint blog

Recovery Time in Thailand

Relaxing on Koh Samui

storm 30 °C

So now we have turned round and finally started to head in the right direction- towards home! I knew we’d find our way some day...

From leaving the guesthouse in Cook Islands to arriving in Koh Samui took 36 hours, 4 flights, crossing of the date line- 5th March didn’t exist for us this year, 1 stressful episode where our luggage was taken into Australia, but we didn’t have a visa to go and collect it, the inside of 5 airports, lots of awful aeroplane food , and not much sleep!

Not really surprising that for the first few days in Koh Samui (a little island in the south of Thailand- where the book “the Beach” is based) was spent sleeping and nursing sore muscles from settling on tiny seats for so long! And for quite a few days after that one of us would be awake at 4am and asleep by 6pm- normally we took it in turns!

Once we’d gotten over that we spent time walking through the markets and the nearby main strip of the island- Chaweng Beach, which is basically an 18 year old’s paradise. Nevertheless it is still a gorgeous beach (when there’s no sudden tropical storms- a daily occurrence) and there are plenty of places to get a cold beer.

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One evening we went to the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts for a Thai cooking class. I am proud to say that we each made (FROM SCRATCH) red curry paste (quite tough on the arms- there’s alot of pounding involved, red curry with roast duck, stir fried pork in oyster sauce, and pad thai. I have to say, all of the dished were scrummy! Only problem was, between us we made enough to feed about 10 people- the folk that work at the guest house got lots of it when we got back!

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Yesterday we went on a day trip to the Ang Thong National Marine Park which is an archipelago of 42 islands covering about 100km2. We started off by kayaking around some of the islands, through caves (including the one which is a secret passage in the book The Beach) to Mae Koh where we were able to take a short climb to see Talay Nal (again, inspiration for The Beach) which is the most beautiful and secluded emerald green lagoon. Then we made our way over to Wua Ta Lap- another bigger island with gorgeous stretches of white sand. We climbed (and I mean climbed- this was not for the remotely unfit) 500m to one of the highest points on the island for the most amazing view of most of the marine park. It was really hard work (today, once again, we are struggling to go up and down pavements and to do any sort of walking) but well worth it- another recommendation for your bucket list folks!

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Our experience in Koh Samui has been quite different to the cultural Thai experience we had a few years ago when we visited the north- this is very much a beach and party destination, but for us it’s been an excellent way to end the trip.

Posted by lesleymw 08:30 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Chilling on Cook Islands

And realising that Island Time is all it’s cracked up to be!

semi-overcast 26 °C

We both agree that the Cook Islands are the best place to relax and take your time to do.. everything and nothing.

To start with, we left for Cook Islands in the early morning of 1st March, and arrived late at night on the 28th February! But after spending some time on the islands, we’re surprised they even have a time zone, everything is just so relaxed!

We stayed on Rarotonga, the “main” island where the total circumference of the only road which follows the coast round is 32km, with some markers so you know how far round the island you are. They only have two busses “clockwise” and “anti clockwise”- nothing as strict as numbers here!

The fact that the place is so tiny, and within a day you do learn that the best way to do things is slowly and at whatever pace you fancy that day, means that you can do and see pretty much everything on the island in the short time we were there. A lot of our time was spent wandering along the beaches which surround the island, going through the main town on the island, wading/ kayaking between some of the surrounding islands (on one side, it’s basically a lagoon with ocean waves not reaching the beach), and driving into the island where the dirt tracks were wide enough.

The place is so laid back that we were able to pass time sitting by the water drinking beers and eating pizza (I know, exotic!) for 12 hours between leaving the guesthouse and catching the plane... good times! And that helped us prepare for the mammoth surge of flights, airports, and sleepless days ahead to get to the next stop!

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Posted by lesleymw 15:00 Archived in Cook Islands Comments (0)

A week in Fiji (AKA Paradise)

Bula!!

sunny 29 °C

I don’t even know where to start with this entry! Fiji was amazing and surprising in every way possible.. how about I start at the beginning... and finish at the end?

You know that holiday feeling that you get when you step off an aeroplane and the heat hits you like a big cuddle? On our several holidays that we’ve been on since we moved to Abu Dhabi, we’ve never had that feeling- we were always going somewhere cooler or a similar temperature. But after two weeks in New Zealand, the Sun Huggle (ooh, should this be trademarked?) hit us for the first time in years- and we didn’t mind it one little bit!

We spent a lot of our time in Fiji catching our breaths- after driving almost 10,000kms between us in just over a month- it’s something that we welcomed with open arms! Between beach walking, pool swimming, cocktail and kava (a traditional Fijan drink made from a root that tastes like muddy water, but makes your tongue tingle) drinking, sitting in local gardens watching the day go by, meeting people (Fijans are THE most friendly people we have ever met! We were invited by one person to have kava and dinner with his family, and were given a local rugby shirt by another in honour of the Fiji 7s tournament that we unfortunately missed!) and shouting BULA! to everyone we met we still managed to see and do plenty- including going for a hot mud bath, where you literally drop waist deep into the hottest, stickiest mud in the middle of a field, climb out and let it dry on you (and take some scary pictures) and then dip into naturally heated pools of water (which were so hot, it was almost unbearable) to clean off! Much fun!

The most notable thing for Mike would definitely have to be a shark dive (apparently the shark experiences in Fiji are the world’s best) and after watching over 40 of them feed from a few feet away, he even got a wee souvenir- one of them left a tooth in the feeder’s hand! Thankfully he came back in one piece, with ten fingers, ten toes, two arms and two legs- just as I’d requested!

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Posted by lesleymw 19:01 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

Our time in New Zealand is over already!

We have now driven the length of North Island

sunny 20 °C

We got the boat from Picton to Wellington, which was an experience in itself. Sailing through lots of glorious little islands was just pure bliss, add to that a lovely Irish couple who convinced us (it didn’t take long) that 11.30am is an appropriate time to have a bottle of champagne- it was a great trip!

Wellington is actually the capital of New Zealand (hands up who knew that.. nope? Me neither) which is more for geographical reasons than anything else. But nevertheless, it’s a great place to wander around, rest your head, eat good food, and it has a museum of cultural and modern art which I reckon you could spend a lifetime walking round, and still never see it all.

We decided to drive right up the centre of North Island all the way up to Tuapo which is a lovely little town that sits on a massive still lake. The lake is so big, it looks like sea, but it’s actually 1,200ft above sea level - bit confusing! There’s a big beautiful waterfall that comes from the lake, which is pretty fierce, and we were able to go to see it up close, by jetboating to the bottom of it- much fun! By complete coincidence, we were able to meet with my gorgeous cousin who I hadn’t seen since I was little, and don’t even remember.. she remembers my red welly boots though!
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Some interesting stuff: NZ it actually situated on tectonic plates and because of this, there is massive geothermal activity in the area causing bubbling mud pools, massive craters, and HOT steam coming out of the ground and drains by the road in several places- especially around Tuapo- it’s amazing to see.. but admittedly, in some places where the sulphur smell is so strong, you start to feel very sick very quickly.

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Some stuff which some may find interesting.. and I struggle, but it makes Mike giddy with excitement: We have driven right past Mount Doom which is actually an active volcano- looking very ominous as it was a dark cloudy day. We also were able to go through a place.. where orcs fought.. or something.... I’ll get mike to fill in this bit.. my Lord of the Rings knowledge stretches as far as “YOU SHALL NOT PAAASS!!” and “my precious” I’m afraid..

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Another effect of the plates are glorious caves- we were able to go stomping around, down and through a couple which were massive and millions of years old.

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Our time in Auckland was spend catching up with my cousin again, taking in some sights, and preparing for the next leg of the trip. We have had an amazing time in New Zealand, and can't wait to come back one day.

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We are so lucky that we missed the devastating earthquake in Christchurch on Tuesday, it really is sobering to think that we were there just a few days ago. The country has really clubbed together- people further north are offering their homes to those who were airlifted out and everyone is doing everything they can. It’s extremely sobering, the whole country is absolutely devastated, even radio presenters who are helping people locate clean water and fuel are heard crying on air regularly. It really is a dark time for this beautiful country, we just hope they will continue to find survivors and that families can have their loved ones returned to them.

Posted by lesleymw 12:15 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Our first few days in New Zealand

Driving around the South Island

semi-overcast 15 °C

We’re only been in New Zealand for a few days, and already understand why so many Scots move here! It has all the best parts of Scotland (green everywhere, mountains, Scottish people (yup, everyone is either Scottish, or descendents), good bars with good drinks (we even found the “Flying Haggis” which not only serves haggis, but also Tennents! , Scottish place names (St. Andrews, Aviemore, Glenorchy to name but a few), and Lord of the Rings and Narnia scenery every corner you turn) and none of the worst (here, they actually have a summer, they see sunshine on a regular basis, blue water as apposed to silver, and a large Cadburys factory which hands out chocolate like.. well.. sweeties!)
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We spent the first day in Christchurch, wandering around and taking it all in and getting used to the cold! It’s essentially a big town or wee city, depending on how you look at it, which just added to it's charm.
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We then took a scenic drive past Lake Tekapo (wow.. I don’t know how to describe it, apart from WOW- a lot of the lakes in this area have a cloudy blue colour, caused by the surrounding glaciers) to Dunedin, which is Kiwi for Edinburgh. Here, it is so Scottish that they have a huge statue of Robert Burns in the centre, and kilt and Scottish souvenir shops dotted around the place.

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We took a drive to Queenstown which is the Adventure Capital of the World- and we can see why it definitely is! Everywhere you look, people were jumping off of things upside-down, flying above the mountains with paragliding gear.. but it’s also the most beautiful town, surrounded by mountains and water- it’s like paradise for thrill seekers! Unfortunately we weren’t able to do much of the activities on offer (they cost an arm and a leg) but we were able to take a cable car to the very top of the mountain and luge (basically a four wheeled push bike) back down!

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We also spent some time in Glacier Country which was mind-blowing. Frustratingly, we weren’t able to climb into them- it was recommended that I shouldn’t be in the cold for too long. But a silver lining was that we were able to hike right up to the foot of the glaciers, and still be close enough to watch lumps of ice bigger than us floating down the river. And to make up for it, we went into the biggest ice bar in the country, where literally everything is made of ice (seats, glasses, table, bar) for some scrummy cocktails.

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Before we knew it, it was time to get the ferry into the North Island, it really was a flying visit, but we’re already planning a trip back here!

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Posted by lesleymw 00:45 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

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