Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Round the World trip: all of it!

Countries visited... click on the links to view the blog entries.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Day 248 - LA

One day in LA (written retrospectively - I was really in no state to blog at the time!)

What do you do for 24 hrs in LA? Answer: Stay in USA Hostel in Hollywood (the best in LA), spend the day wondering up and down Hollywood road admiring the stars (the ones on the pavement, not the real ones), crazy stores (best fancy dress shop ever, bizarre t-rex head), trying the hot dogs/pretzels and shopping for naff souvenirs. In the evening one should stuff ones face at the all-you-can eat bbq, then the lure of free designer shoes should persuade one to frequent a local night-club. Once one has successfully negotiated stacked bouncers at said night-club, one should mingle with fellow club-goers and enjoy some glasses of free champagne. What one should not do is follow up the free champagne with some deceptively deadly cocktails just because someone bought them for you, march out of the night-club before you get your paws on aforementioned free designer shoes, buy pizza from a street-side pizzeria then engage in conversation with random street punks before giving them your pizza and finally stumbling back to the hostel to spend all night being unwell in the dorm toilet. Oh-dear.

The next day and subsequent 10-hr flight was somewhat painful. Ma and Pa were pleased to see me and nice enough not to comment on the fact that I was green in the face, exhausted and probably rather smelly.

It's so nice to have a good bath, a huge bed and some peace and quiet. I've spent much of the last few days sleeping, so now I'm feeling back to normal - time to get a job I guess!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Day 246 - Nadi

I'm back from island paradise - a few pounds heavier, several shades darker and a lot sandier

I had a great time lazing around on the beach, meeting loads of fun people (Fiji islanders have to be the friendliest, most laid-back people in existence) and generally eating, drinking and sleeping far too much

Anyway... shameful lack of photos, but here are the ones I took

Island sunset

The Islanders singing their Bula (hello/goodbye) song

The beach

I'm back at the hostel in Nadi now - I'm staying here tonight before catching my flight tomorrow to LA. Then one night there before I get my flight to London on 28th (landing on 29th at 11am).

Can;t quite believe it's nearly over! See you soon all...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Day 445 - Nadi

If all goes well, I'm leaving Nadi on a boat in about an hour.

Unfortunately internet connection on the islands is dire, so probably no updates til I get back (in about 5 days)/

Day 443 - Nadi

We have sunshine! Granted it is not much, but some is far better than none I maust say.

Last night was good fun - I ate a rather nice Indian meal in the restaurant and soonafter met some fellow travellers. As there was nothing better to do, we spent about 3 hours playing a mammoth snooker tournament and drank far too much Fiji Gold beer.

Today I am back in town again; currently sitting in a busy internet cafe with non-existant airconditioning and painfully slow connection speed. I've sent a few emails to the place I'm staying on Mana to get them to pick me up tomorrow. All very exciting, I'm really looking forward to going there - apparently the accomodation is somewhat basic, but all I care about is the fact it looks like this:

And that it is cheap, of course.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Day 242 - Nadi

Pretty grey day today - not a minute of glorious sunshine. Still, at least it didn't rain!

I've booked my accomodation on Mana Island (apparently it's where Castaway was filmed - you know, the film with Tom Hanks and football head). Unfortunately there is no room at the mo so I can't go till the day after tomorrow - looks like I'm stuck in this hotel with a pool, bar and restaurant for the next few days - sigh.

I hopped onto a local bus today and visited Nadi Town. Bit of a grotty, uninspiring place I must say - but it has a nice cake shop (ho hum) and a great line in flourescent hawaiin shirts - guess what everyone's getting as souveniers (no, don't get your hopes up - I'm joking, I can't afford them)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Day 241 - Nadi, Fiji

Hey all... I made it - I'm in Fiji!!

Nomad Sky Lodge hostel in Nadi to be precise. After a 3 hour flight - film:Music and Lyrics meal:2 lots of potato salad and 2 tubs of icecream (they had no veggie option) drink:3 small bottles of red wine (generous & somewhat guilty steward) - we touched down and yeees it's nice and warm. Unfortunately it's also raining torrentially. Ah well, you can't have it all.

As we departed from the plane we were greeted by guys in skirts (manly ones) and bright hawain shirts plucking various sized of guitar whilst singing in a groovy manner. All very Fiji. It all went pretty smoothly - I managed to find the driver from the hostel, and a fellow traveller to chat to. It wasn't a long drive here, and it's very posh and shiny (can't believe it's just a hostel) - I'm looking forward to a good nights sleep.

Anyway, hopefully the rain will stop tomorrow because I need to sort out a boat ride to Mana Island. Fiji has tonnes of lush island waiting to be explored - but i have not the time northe money. I heard about Mana from a groovy old travelling dude at one of the car markets in Auckland. By all accounts its a pretty great place and I'm sure it won't be too painful spending a week on the beach there, sipping a juice with umbrellas and half a pineapple in it and working on multiplying my freckle collection. Wahoo!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Day 236 - Auckland

Rodney is no longer. I had him towed away this morning and now all that is left are a couple of bent number plates. So sad.

Given my money situation (i.e. that I have none) - I have made the shocking decision to skip the South Island and head straight to Fiji, where I will bum around on an island for a week before heading home. Missing the South Island is terribly baad, I know, but I am getting travel tired, my bank has not a bean in it and the weather here is rapidly turning nasty. I'll just have to come back to NZ in a year or two (though next time I'll bring a friend and make sure I don't buy a rusty van!).

So, I'm going to be back in the UK in just over 2 weeks, whereupon I will need to find a job, a house etc. Ok, so that won't be so much fun - but I'm looking forward to seeing everyone...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Day 234 - Auckland


Rodney has just failed his WOF. Reason: Rust damage.
It's only going to take $1000 to fix


Friday, April 06, 2007

Day 229 - Auckland

Still in Auckland...
Still haven't sold the darn van...
On the plus side I'm having a very relaxing time, catching up on my reading and hanging out with the great crowd at my hostel.
Today it's good friday, and the weather is dang good (glorious sunshine, blue sky). In honour of the day I bought a pack of hot cross buns and had a picnic. And got sunburned - again.
Now I am going to do some job hunting - looks like I'll be stuck here for a while (along with the other handful of people here trying to sell their vans!).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Day 225 - Auckland

Why yes, I'm back in Auckland. It all seemed like a good idea at the time - it seemed as though I would have no luck selling the van down south, and as I needed to sell it I decided to drive north. It was all the Van For Sale ads with the prices furiously crossed out got to me. I flipped a coin between a)getting a job or b)driving north. North won so north I went. Pretty amazing drive though, I went on a different route and did it over a few days - great views. I tried to take some pictures but they were very dissapointing (rubbish camera). So, anyway, here I am in Auckland.

I'm staying in a chaotic hostel on the same street as the one I stayed in before. Possibly strangest hostel everywhere - I had to speak to the manager using the phone in the hallway, and he then directed me to the freezer where my key was - bizarre. The place is a bit of a tip, but it has an extensive vid collection and free internet, so I suppose it's all good.

I've been working my way round the hostels putting up my signs. The other ads for cars list higher prices than mine - which makes me feel more reassured. I also finally got round to buying a cassette player, which was a bit of an achievement in itself, as it is nigh impossible to get the buggers as all the shops these days only sell CD players. I bought the player online and then drove all across town to Mt Albert to pick it up.

So I will sell my van, get a cheap flight to Christchurch and then, finally, go round the South Island. Fingers crossed for a quick sale!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Day 221 - Wellington

Hurrah! I've finally made it to Wellington!

Arrived here yesterday at about 4 and spent a fraustrating hour driving round the centre of town, caught in the illogical and frankly stupid one-way system. I finally managed to find Webb St backpackers, squeezed Rodders into a vacant parking spot (power steering, how I miss thee) and checked in. The backpackers is a quiet one, not listed in any of the guidebooks, but seems nice enough - Carla and Briany, friends from Auckland, are staying there, along with assorted young males (of the non-attractive sort sadly) drawn in by the lure of free breakfast/movies every night/in-house bar. It was hard paying for a dorm room bed, and then having to share said dorm room with people (who stumble in drunken in the middle of the night), after so long having my own free room/van. But it is nice to be around backpackers again.

Today I've been busybusy. Primarily I've circulated several hostels, pinning up my beautiful flyer inducing people to buy my van (you should have seen the YHA hostel - talk about posh!). In the process of getting from hostel a to hostel b, I've had a good explore of the town, admired the architecture and so on. I like this place - it has a really good vibe and is negotiable by foot, which is a good thing for those of us with an aversion to poorly designed one-way systems.

Later on I'm going to visit the famous and, most importantly, free Te Papa - Museum of New Zealand. It has lots of info about Maori culture, NZ's history - and also boasts of a virtual bungy jump (cheaper and less uncomfortable than the real thing).

Tomorrow I'm going to an arty cinema to watch an arty film and, hopefully, selling my van (I can but hope).

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Day 218 - Paraparaumu

I have spent a lot of time sorting out the centres website this weekend (blimey - my internet skills seem to come in handy everywhere!) The website is now finished: - pretty smart eh? It's wierd being back in front of the screen for long periods of time, but it gets me a break from hacking away at weeds. It's not all roses though - Ananda is suffering from a lack of attention so feels the need to pop in every 10 minutes to shake my chair, wave some toy in front of my face or scream falsetto. An only child through & through (he's not so bad really).

All in all I've settled in well and I'm enjoying myself - Cathryn likes to have someone to chat to about every day stuff, Eric is thoroughly relieved that he's finally found someone to sort out his website (last update:2002) and do some gardening and Ananda is just happy to have someone to give him piggybacks/listen to his rambling monologues and generally give him lots of attention. The food here is meat-free, egg-free, dairy-free, wheat-free and generally a bit fun-free - but Catheryn can make a mean bean salad/patty/bake so it's not too bad. The classes are good too - I've settled in to the relaxed style and am quite enjoying the lack of clenched muscles and pain. The hoards of 50-something ladies that clog up the drive with their cars and troop into the centre chatting away are all very friendly, though I often feel that I repeat the same conversation over and over.

I think I will leave on Tues or Weds - I have got a new rego for Rodney , but I really want to flog him soon, preferably before I need to get the WOF done. Then it'll just be me and my backpack again - hurrah!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Day 213 - Paraparaumu

Well, this place is a little different!

Lotus Centre is run by an old boy called Eric and his wife Cathryn. They have 2/3 yoga classes a day (which are free to wwoofers) but which are of the army wavey, "relaaax" variety that is somewhat of a shock after bootcamp Paul's style. The couple have a precious 6-yr old named Ananda (which means 'bliss', poor kid is going to be tormented in high school) who, when he is not at school, is running around yelling "and you know what..." or "guess what..." and then launching into a 50 mile an hour dialogue that I inevitably get utterly lost in. Still, the place is neat and nice, and the town is pretty, so I don't think it will be hard to stay to the end of the week.

Rodney is due to have his new registration, so I have to nip down the post office afterward to get it sorted. I also have to buy him a new radio and get the key cut before I have any chance of selling him. What a palaver!

I must confess that after 7 months I am somewhat tired and wonderlusted out. Maybe when I am in Wellington I will put my flight forward a bit - I find the fact that I still have a few moths to go a tad daunting (not to mention expensive).

Monday, March 19, 2007

Day 212 - Paraparaumu

Let's just say I decided not to treck alone across barren wasteland with gale-force winds. Instead I hopped in Rodney first thing in the morning and headed south for the bright lights of Wellington.

The sun came out about lunchtime, just as the road began to hug the coast, and slowly fried me to a boil through the window (literally - half my face went red). I survived by driving along holding the wwoofer book in my right hand to shield my face from the glare. It worked ok, but after an hour or so my arm ached like crazy, and I was getting some peculiar looks. Just when my arm was dropping with exhaustion, I spotted a huge icecream sign off to the right, so took an abrupt turn and ran in for a chocolate cookie icecream (yum). Whilst I sat in the car, dropping chocolate everywhere as I gorged myself, I thought over my plan (or lack of one) for Wellington: I hadn't booked a place to stay and besides I couldn't really afford to stay somewhere too many nights. Opening my wwoofer book at the Wellington region I found 'Lotus Yoga', located in Paraparaumu, the town I had just driven through. Gave them a ring, spoke to a rather absent sounding woman, and Bob's your uncle - here I am. I stayed in Paraparaumu's YHA hostel last night (protected by the ghost of a 25 yr old psycic whoman who died in the 20's), which is located right beside the sea and a pristine park.

So, it seems I am staying here about a week (or less, if the wwoofing doesn't work out well) and then heading into Wellington were I will maybe sell Rodders (adieu, dear Rodders) and then catch a boat to the south island.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Day 211 - Ohakune

I'm the road again. I left yesterday at about lunchtime and headed south. The last few days at Paul's were cool, we didn't end up going to the cave in the end (crappy weather, too busy - this is possibly a good thing), and instead relaxed and did some work in the garden. I've been helping Paul with an advert for the paper, and we took some yoga pose pictures. Hmmm... below right is one of mine: a triangle with Paul adjusting (yanking me into the correct posture) and directing(comments on the pose: "use your muscles, charlie chaplin feet - where are your ugly feet? " - guess I have to work on that one!)

After leaving Rotorua I went south, heading through Taupo, around Taupo lake (the sun was beginning to set by this point and the lake looked amazing), around the Tongariro National Park (then the sun was really setting - woooow). I stopped off at Whatakane, hoping to stay at the campsite there before doing the Tongariro crossing walk today, but the campsite cost a fortune so I carried on south. It began to get dark, so I stopped off here in Ohakune, staying at a posh campsite that, may I add, is almost half the price of the one in Whatakane!

Ohakune is a town geared for the winter ski season, so is full of ski chalets and snowboarding shops. That, paired with the fact that the temperature has taken a nose dive (everyone is now pronouncing it winter), makes me feel like I've somehow skipped locations to France.

Today I'm going to toss up whether to brave the weather (cold, grey, threatening rain) to walk the Tongariro crossing through Mordor and past Mt Doom :-). Or whether to do it when I'm on the way up and instead carry on south to Wellington. Hmm, think I will be choosing the latter.