Noosa: coastal walks and friends

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After a couple of hours travelling on Greyhound, I arrived in Noosa, where I walked 10 minutes to the hostel. Once I checked in and dropped my luggage off in my room, I headed to the kitchen.

Previously, I had been in contact with a Swedish friend I met while travelling South East Asia and stayed with me in Sydney for New Year. We figured out that we would be in Noosa at the same time so we could catch up. To my surprise, I bumped into him in the kitchen.

I made some dinner before sitting with my friend plus 2 travellers from Germany. Around the hostel, there seemed to be many English Northerners, which, quite frankly, were loud girls. I still try to not hang out with English people because I can meet them when I’m in the UK. Generally, I chat to people from all around the world, receiving a wealth of knowledge about places, people and culture, however, sometimes it can’t be avoided.IMG_20160515_124602

In the evening, the four of us bought some goon and found a spot, literally, on the streets behind a petrol station to play games and drink because the hostel didn’t allow BYO.   One of the guys introduced us to a dice game called 3 man, which was extremely simple.  One person was the 3 man. You had to roll two dice, if you got a 3 or the two dice added up to a 3, the 3 man had to drink. If you got a double, you made up a rule. It was a fun night but we ended up going to bed pretty early.

IMG_20160516_102626The next morning, we arose around 9, where we grouped together to buy some breakfast from Coles. Then ate together before the German guy had to catch a bus to his next destination. One of pleasures of travelling is that you meet a lot of people but unfortunately some of them are only meant to be part of your life for a slither of time before departing ways. It’s strange how you can feel close knowing them for a moment and the short experiences you have with fellow travellers.

During the day, we hung out on Noosa beach, which was about 20 minute walk from our hostel, where we laid in the sun, soaking up some rays. After some deliberation, we decided to do a 10 km coast walk around the cliffs. It was just so peaceful dawdling along the paths, admiring the beach views along the stony, windy paths. IMG_20160515_144131

The evening was extremely chilled. The other two booked a Everglade, canoe tour for the following day, which I wish I could have done but I was leaving the next day to Rainbow beach. I wanted to have 1 more day in Noosa to do this, however due to having to move my schedule because of my Whitsundays tour not operating on a certain day, I had to have 1 less day along the road, and it happened to be in Noosa. It only means, I will have to come back here to do the Everglades.

After, we collaborated together to buy and make dinner, where we cooked smoked salmon and mushroom risotto, which is one of my favourite meals. we just kind of chatted and hung out after before heading to bed reasonably early.This was going t0 be the last time I would see my Swedish friend as he was returning back to his country soon.IMG_20160516_103910

The following day, I leisurely got up, sorted out my things and checked out. My bus wasn’t until early afternoon so I had the morning not to do too much. I decided to walk down to the beach, walk around the forest close by and relax at the hostel.

My time in Noosa was short but also lovely to see old friends and see the beautiful views, it had offered. Farewell Noosa. Hello Rainbow Beach.

 

 

Byron Bay: beaches, lighthouse and Nimbin

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After the overnight bus, which was actually pretty decent, I arrived at my first stop: Byron Bay. On the Greyhound, I met a Swedish guy, who I ended up hanging out with him for the day.IMG_20160507_104944

With a shuttle bus waiting, I hopped on to get a lift to the Bryon Bay Resort, which was about 15 minutes walk away along the beach from the main town. I ate some breakfast then chilled at the hostel for a bit before heading out for the morning.

Walking along the golden sand with the sea oozing between my toes as the tide slid away was just bliss. From the main beach, I carried on leisurely strolling around the cape to the most easterly point of main land Australia. On the way up, we stopped to admire the IMG_20160507_092938surfers and kayakers and amazingly in the distant I could see packs of dolphins swimming in the ocean without a care in the world. This was totally a highlight, I had never seen actually dolphins in the wild.

Once we got to the top near the lighthouse, we found out we could go up to the top of the working lighthouse and see the beautiful view in both direction. The tour person was very informative and pointed out different sea life including sharks, rays, mandarays and turtle. Looking through her binoculars, I could spot many creature cleanly.IMG_20160507_114048

On the way back to the main beach, we saw Tallows beach and sat on a paragliding ramp taking in the sunning view. Through a forest and back on to the beach, we went back to our accomodation to make some lunch, which I needed after a 10km walk and checked in.

In the afternoon, I laid on the beach in the sun and fell asleep as I was feeling tired from lack of  sleep on the bus. Then we walked back into town to grab a domino’s, goon and some groceries. At the hostel, a group of us sat around having some drinks and sharing stories. There was a hilariously high guy going on and on.DCIM101GOPRO

The following day, I decided to take a tour to Nimbin, a small town about one hour and a half away from Byron. They picked me up in a cool hippy campervan, where they played old classics all day. Nimbin is knowing for an alternative lifestyle, growing organic food and weed.

Our first stop on the tour was a waterfall, which was a slight disappointment but mainly because we were standing overlooking the top so couldn’t really see. Also there wasn’t an option to swim in the waterfall, which would have been better. IMG_20160508_110429Then they took us to an old railway pub for a drinking before getting to Nimbin. It was kind of a strange place: it was small and eerie with not much going on. We wandered around looking in the souvenir, book and weed shop. People were passing us the street saying ‘cookies’. Some of the people I was with  decided to buy some weed. In the back of many shops you could easily exchange $20 for 2g. Also, some brought some off a toothless woman on the street, carefully giving it to them without being seen, where she just gave 3 cookies in foil for $20. Another couple of girl got cookies from a lady who owned an art gallery. It was just a blizzard experience especially with there being a police station at the end of the Main Street and dodgy sellers.

We headed down to the bowling club, where a huge BBQ burger was included with salad, pineapple and sweet potato. It was so delicious. The people in Nimbin looked a bit rough but they were very friendly. We wandered around the town a bit more, looking in more IMG_20160508_130813market style shops, where two of the girls got henna tattoo.

On the way back to Byron, we stopped off to look at this rock formation. A group of us decided to chill on the beach watching the sunset.

In the evening, I headed back to my hostel and ate some food. IMG_20160508_130246We sat around chatting and drinking a little before finally making a decision to head into town. One of the girls drove us in to town so that saved walking. We danced at the beach hotel until close the tried to find another bar. Unfortunately as it was Sunday nothing was open so we walked back to the hostel in the rain before heading to bed.

My last day in Byron Bay, I was going to get up for the sunrise at the lighthouse but decided sleep was more important. After sorting myself out and eating breakfast, I walked into town to wander around and book some tours for the rest of my journey.  Before getting a shuttle with my bags, I laid with some people from the hostel and had a dunk in the ocean, which to my surprise, it was warmer than I thought.

Phuket: beaches, motorbikes, monkey bites and dancing

IMG_9647Phuket is one of the islands in Southern Thailand, where many tourists go to enjoy a holiday due to many things to do and the endless amount of beaches and see. IMG_9318

I had planned this long weekend as I had a few personal days to take at work and the flights were extremely cheap. It all started by staying at my friend’s house the night before then racing to the airport at the early hours of the morning to board a plane to Phuket. The journey was pretty uneventful except receiving a breakfast meal for an hour flights and seeing incredible views of the sunrise as we were landing on to the island.

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Getting to our guesthouse from the airport was a bit of a hassle because you either have to get a private taxi with set prices or a mini van, which is cheaper but you have to wait until it’s full before they will take you to your destination. Sooo… After waiting nearly an hour, we decided to hop in a private taxi and pay the ridiculous price.
After checking into our guest house, where there was a double bed plus a short sofa bed for three of us, we hired out some motorbikes. This was an interesting experience because they were clearly old bikes which hadn’t been used for years with different problem with each one. However, they turned out to be reliable and cheap – 150 baht for a whole day.IMG_9392
We drove over to the Luxurious Hyatt Regency Hotel with a plush pool giving a great beach view to meet some friends of one of the girls I was with. They hired out motorbikes, which they both crashed in the first 5 minutes of being on them. We had lunch in Patong before driving to Karon beach to dip in the ocean and lay in the hidden sun but there were many people parasailing, which was fun to watch. Before heading back to our guesthouse to get ready for the evening agenda, we wandered around a market, where one of the guys got homemade ice-cream curls.IMG_20150626_165201
In the evening, we enjoyed a night along the party street in Patong, Bang La Road. My senses were going crazy with bright lights in every direction this wide, long street packed with clubs and bars. There were street performers, dancer in the bars, loud pumping music, promoters and ping pong advertiser everywhere. It was definitely an experience, which every traveller should enjoy if they are in Phuket. Drinks were cheap in most bars. We found a bar just off the Main Street but under the shelter, which had cheap buckets. After chatting to the owners, we played a hammer game, where you had to hit a nail into a large round wooden block in one go. We were all pretty bad at it but it was so fun and we did get better the more we played. For one game, one of the owners brought us a shot as she hit the nail in one. We met and chatted to fellow travellers, two from America and three from Australia, where we drank shots, beers and several buckets. The rest of my night consisted of dancing on bars and in the streets as well as trying to be conned by a ladyboy playing connect 4.  IMG_20150626_172205
The following day, we jumped on our motorbikes and pretty much drove the whole of Southern Phuket to admire all the attraction. Starting at Kathu waterfall to Phuket town for lunch nothing special to see here), to the big Buddha on the mountain (the drive was crazy) with beautiful view of the Island, where I tasted one of Thailand specialities ‘coconut and mango ice-Cream sandswich with nuts. Heading next to Rawai beach, where we passes several elephants, to the sunset view point with more incredible views over the water. Here, two Thai university girls stopped us to chat to them, where we learnt that they taught themselves to speak English from YouTube and films. Zooming back through the windy roads and the sun setting, we planned our next few days.IMG_20150626_151525
As none of us had been to a Cabaret Show, we thought that would be our evening entertainment. ‘Simon’s cabaret show’ is one of the most popular on the island and it didn’t disappoint even if I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was full of sparkling costumes, music from around the world, different dancing, comedy parts with pillow boobs all performed by ladyboys. The part that I particular enjoyed was a song about different Disney characters with attitude.IMG_20150626_123059
Waking up early for our booked tour of some of the surrounding islands including Koh Phi Phi, we were definitely not ready for what the day was going to entail. After being picked up and taking to Phuket town, we had some snacky breakfast and an ear-full of instructions, warnings and ‘promotions’. Most of which were overpriced for tourists. Once the speed boat was jammed packed with people, we started on our first cruise to our first destination: Maya Island. It is a beautiful island with a golden beach and high white dusty coves, which made the scenery incredible. We didn’t have long here so after taking a few snaps and dipping in to the ocean, we hopped back onto the boat. IMG_9466
Next on the agenda was monkey cave and monkey island. This is when the mood of the day takes an unexpected twist. Monkey cave is just a picturesque view, which no photo could ever do it justice. Floating up to monkey island, we could see the masses of monkeys running around. The person we booked our tour with recommended to take biscuits to the monkeys instead of nuts as they ‘get bored’ of the same thing. Approaching the little beasts were slightly scary with them moving so fast. Suddenly, two of the monkeys started clawing each other and fighting. Some of the others on the boat moved back towards the vehicle but after a couple of minutes it seemed to stop. However, on strutted up to my friend scratched her, totted off for a moment and came back for more. He dug his teeth just below her knee. We were in shock. What has just happened? With her being in hysterics, we helped her back onto the boat.

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After discussing with the tour guide about our next step, the best move was to go to the hospital on Koh Phi Phi. Before that, we had a chance to snorkel in the open water, where I saw array of different fishes and coral but it just didn’t feel right enjoying myself.
In the hospital on Koh Phi Phi, we knew that my friend needed to have some injections against any disease the monkey might of had. She was taken into a room with another bed, where she was asked some questions and told what would happen next. Basically she was revealed slowly that she would have six injections: three in the arm, one in each hip and one under the bite. We knew she was not the best person with needle but even I, who don’t mind them in the slightest would have been in pain. I had to walk away from looking at the one that was put under the wound as I felt faint. It was disgusting! The long needle was bend and as they were squirting the liquid, the nurse was moving the need aggressively side to side under the skin. It was not a sight to be watched. The staff there were clean but the only thing was that they didn’t wear gloves, which was so hygienic. One thing I found odd was that another patient had come in the room with two friends, while the injections were taken place.IMG_20150627_112334
After the ordeal and some miscommunication, we found out the hospital fee was 16000baht (£320), which they wanted us to pay upfront especially as the guide thought it would only be 3000baht. The whole hospital process was pretty fast taking about an hour and a half, but the other people on the tour were waiting for us after they had there lunch. Luckily, our tour guide provided us with a take away box of food. IMG_20150627_111003
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur and uneventful compared to the monkey business. We rode to the next island, where we sat on the beach in the sun eating fruit and drinking fizzy, which was provided by the tour. From here, we headed back to our hostel before checking out the night market to get dinner. After, we enjoyed a drink at the bar from a previous night, where we became friendly with the owners.
The following day was an uneventful journey travelling back home in Bangkok.

Koh Tao: hiking, beautiful beaches and a bit too much partying

IMG_4259After spending a couple days in Bangkok to receive information about our teaching jobs and finding a flat to live, three of us took the long-winded, 3rd class train. I couldn’t believe I was taking this uncomfortable to sleep on train again but it’s all part if the adventure. We waited for a songtaow, which packed on the travellers and their lugguge, before catching a boat to Koh Tao. IMG_4322This is one of the smaller islands in Thailand which is becoming more and more popular especially for divers.

On the ferry we met three guys, who were constantly laughing at us as we were delirious from the lack of sleep. We couldn’t stop giggling. Unfortunately it was chucking down with rain when we stepped onto the island so our taxi journey was a little soggy sitting in an open top truck.

However, it soon cleared up. Searching for huts close to the beach was easy to find. Once we set camp, we were exposed to a magnificent, panoramic view of the golden sands and calm waters with picturesque palm trees scattered along the beach. It was like a postcard. For the rest of the afternoon, we lounged on the beach, falling in and out of sleep. One of our friends from the course joined us to travel with us. Now we were an international group of girls (British, Kiwi, American and Canadian).IMG_4468

Feeling more refreshed, we were ready to experience nightlife on the Island. Outside one of the restaurants, laid comfy cushions on the sand for customers to watch the beautiful sunset and a fire show. We took advantage of this, where the guys were swinging and flinging fire around. Next, we headed towards Lotus Bar, which is probably the most popular place to spend the evening, with cheap drinks, a DJ playing popular western chart music and a large area to dance the night away. Here, we got chatting to severally travellers from England and Canada. This is one of the reasons I travelling: everyone is open and love talking to others. You might be friends with them for a couple of hours or a few months but each person is part of a new memory.IMG_9070

The next day, we met up with a couple of guys staying at the same resort to go on a hike. I had no idea of the destination or route: it was a mystery but these days can be some of the best day, which it was. IMG_4399Over the last few years, my perspective has changed on making plans for travelling. Now, I like to go with the flow, see the non-touristy places and pick other travelers brains.

After hours of melting in the heat, climbing vertical, stoney tracks in flip flops and getting completely lost in a jungle like setting with several unknown wildlife jumping across paths, an incredible view surrounded us: an abandoned beach. IMG_4378It looked like a restaurant or hostel used to be there but there were only remnants scattered. In front was a small, sandy beach with beautiful rock faces, where one could go cliff jumping. Unfortunately, the tide was too far out but instead, we went snorkelling. My kit was slightly broken so I could only put my head under the water for a minute before salt water poured in. However, I observed different fish and coral, all different sizes and colours: it just shines out the beauty of God’s creation.IMG_4409

By the time we trekked back, we were starving so I chose a Thai favourite, papaya salad, for dinner. In the evening, we headed down town to Choppers, a pub, which was filled with the pub crawl tourists. IMG_9076The sounds of an acoustic singer, the smell of sweat and beer, and the sight of people dancing on tables and bright lights surrounded the room. To make the night more fun, the four of us challenged each other to get a pub crawl T-shirt by the end of the night. We were all on a mission to win.

We talked with many people including a guy from Israel. After a bit of persuading, I managed to receive a the T-shirt from him as he had one from a previous time. The girls were shocked when they saw me. One of them became determined to get hold of one. From here, the crowd moved to Lotus bar to carrying on partying.IMG_9147

On the way back to our hut, two of us stopped off to munch on a Roti. We end up chatting to the guy, where we found out he was from India. He made a bet with us: if we could count to 20 in Thai, he would give us a free roti. To his surprise, I reeled off the numbers to 20… Neung, song, saam, see… He was gobsmacked. You should have seen the shock in his eyes. Unfortunately he didn’t keep to his promise but it was still so funny.

In the morning, the other two girls told us hilarious stories of what happened to them to night before including something about skinny dipping and a bunk bed situation. The real question was did we complete our mission… Three of us did.

Once we had filled our stomachs with breakfast, we wandered around the typical souvenir and clothes shop you find located near the beach all around the world. We strolled along the beautiful beach: dipping our feet in the water; drinking a fruit shake and climbing rocks.

Two of us had been debating whether to get a tattoo or not for a while. IMG_4507Whilst on Koh Tao, we nervously entered a tattoo shop, which we had been recommended. The guy at the desk printed our designs, where we decided to get the sane tattoo but on different parts of our bodies. I discovered I could get the tattoo with bamboo, which I was excited about because it’s more tradition. I had been told that it was more painful but I have to disagree, I nearly fell asleep while being stabbed with the inky bamboo stick. It was finished: Mai Pen Rai in Thai which means don’t worry, go with the flow, was tattooed on the side of my back. I just love it!

Next, we laid on the beach watching the beautiful sunset with a beer. For dinner, I ate a delicious masaman curry, which is a typical curry to eat in Thailand. Before heading out again for similar a night, we had so many laugh about random thing like not knowing what a post office was or having different names for clothing (play suit, fun suit, rompa). We were in fits of laughter, rolling around on the floor, finding it hard to breath.

The agenda for the evening consisted of enjoying a beer at Choppers with some of the other people from explore Asia, watching both tourist and locals competing in a limbo challenge. I tried but I knew I would fail as I’m not flexible. I still got a small, weak shot for trying. Then we danced the night away in Lotus bar.

IMG_4481Again, as we were headed home, we stopped to chat to the Roti guy, who remembered us to convince him about the free roti he owed us. Somehow the situation changed to him handing me over 16000bt and his credit card. I was extremely confused. What? As I tried to give it back, he started making a roti for me. Success! I then paid him with the money that was his and card. Not sure what just happened but I was happy.

Then we sat at a burger place for fries and talked to a Canadian and an extremely drunk English guy. On the way back to our bungalow, the other young roti guy spoke to us along with the acoustic singer from Chopper, who was from Chili. He ended up ordering a roti for three of us, then paying for himself and walking away. We still hadn’t got back before bumping into a group of traveller wanting to find out about us. A British guy, covered in tattoos, was so pleased to see me as he hadn’t spoken to another Brit in weeks. I’m not sure how as I they were everywhere especially on the islands for a drinking holiday. This was the longest journey but eventually I was tucked up in bed excited to explore a new island the next or actually now the same day.

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