Touring Fiji, Viti Levu: school, bilibili rafting, cliff jumping and fun all round

img_20160621_100934

The next day, rising early, we scoffed down our buffet breakfast, packed and got ready to leave. I bid farewell to the dutch girls and hopped on to the jetty. On the other side, back on the mainland, we drove along the main road, through towns and hills, to our hotel on the south of Viti Leva. After checking-in, we had a bite to eat at the beautiful resort, which over looked the beach.img_20160620_134548

We put our things in our dorm room, which was a huge cabin. Then headed to do the Biausevu trek, where we got dropped off at the bottom of a hill. First, we walked uphill on a stony path, passed a few houses. Next, walking through a man-made trail with bushes around us and trying to avoid standing on a snake, we saw a stunning view of greenery. On the walk, I slipped on the stones to cross a river and then along a hilly, muddy path, I fell on my backside, where I couldn’t stop laughing.DCIM104GOPRO

At the end of a hike was a beautiful waterfall, where there was a 10m jump into the fall. And of course, I cliff jumped. It was such an exhilarating feeling of falling. Majority of the group did the jump, even though some were frightened. We chilled in the water for a while before take the short cut back to the van, where we drove back to our resort.
In the evening, we relaxed in our room then went to the restaurant for dinner. There was an acoustic band bringing us entertainment as we chatted.DCIM104GOPRO

The following day, we hurried down for breakfast early as the food was just meant to be the best with pancakes, cooked and continental brekkie.Once packed, we got in the road again around the island, where we stopped in the capital. Suva was a huge town compared to the other parts but relatively small in contrast with other capitals in the world. There was nothing special about it and just had a shopping area with unexciting shops. We did, however, stop in front of the government house where there was a guard standing out. we hopped off the minibus to take some selfies with the guard and the area. as we were driving through the rest of the city, Amy talked about many other parts and a little about the history of Fiji.DCIM104GOPRO

Our next stop, several miles on, was a typical Fijian village, Nasutoka. On the way, our group was told about the kava ceremony we were going to experience, making sure we were respectful but know the agenda of it. When we got off the bus, we had to make sure our shoulders were covered and that we were wearing a long skirt (even the male among us). A chief from the our circle was appointed. At the door of the large, open, simple room, we were given a necklace made from banana leaves and a flower. The ceremony was very interesting, with a chief at the front, three others facing him and us sitting on the floor at the sides. After the initial speeches and giving of the offerings, we all had a taste of the kava.img_20160620_155834

Once the ceremony was over, we walked out the room, had a mini tour of the surrounding and waited for our traditional lunch to be set up on the floor like a picnic. The food spanned from meat, fish to fried aubergine, fritters and plantain. It was so delicious but also extremely greasy.

Next of the days activities was the bilibili rafting, where we changed in to our swim gear. As three of us sat on a bamboo float, a Fijian guy paddled the boat up to the river back to our bus. The scenery was stunning with a cool breeze blowing through our hair. We were able to stand on the raft and take pictures.DCIM104GOPRO

The last part of the day, we were taken to the village school, where they had just finished their lessons. Assembled together, the primary school children performed some songs and dances to us while we just introduced ourselves to them. Towards the end of the day, we chatted to the children and took photos with them before jumping back on the bus. As we drove through the villages to the Golden point Resort, the sun slowly set.

When we arrived, we were all feeling tired so we rested in our dorm while waiting for our dinner to be served. In the restaurant, we ate our food, where I ate a tasteless curry. img_20160620_133621Next, to our surprise with lack of interest from the group, the staff put on a show of dancing and singing. It was entertaining but in terms of funny and not too good compared to the other shows we had seen. They were so full of enthusiasm and energy, pulling us up to join them with the Fijian Macarena. Tiresomely, we all parts of my body aching, we followed the moves. Soon enough though, the entertainment was finished and we were able to rest our head for the day ahead.

Waking up for the toilet early was a bonus this morning as it just happened to be when the sun was rising. And, I can definitely say what an incredible view over the peaceful water. Once I had a little more time sleeping, I did my normal travelling routine then I sat around a table in the restaurant for my breakfast. It was a slight disappointment but it did fill a hole. In the morning, there was about an hour to spare before leaving the resort. The owner had organised a fish feeding session over the rock but it was literally watching a guy in the distance giving some food to a few fish.img_20160621_100855

On the road, we travelled through scenic Indo-Fijian sugar cane belts to the second biggest city, Lautoka, where we wandered around and grabbed a bite to eat. So… it wasn’t my choice but we ended up eating in McDonalds but as with every McD’s I go to, there is always a slightly different menu but I went with my standard choice.

A little further down, we turned off to have a stop off at the Sabeto hot pool. They were outside in the fresh air with no official building with a mountainous view in the background. Striping to our swimwear, we smothered thick mud all over our bodies including our faces. of course, we had to take some picture of the momentous occasion.

img_20160621_061226

With all the mud dried with the sun’s help, we lowered ourselves into the warm mud pool to relax. The squelching mud in between my toes did freak me out a little but after a while I got used to it. We must have looked strange to the few locals in the pool. Imagine a group of young foreigners screeching and squealing in a large bath full of mud. Strange.

When we were ready, we transferred to the hot spring, which was all naturally heated to about 65 degree. Luckily, the water flows through a tube lowering the temperature to about 40 degrees for us to bathe in. It was lush. It felt such a treat and well-deserved after all the travelling and walking we had done, plus I just love hot springs.DCIM104GOPRO

Later in the after, we were driven the last leg of our journey back to Nadi, where we stayed in a different hostel to the one I was in before. Once we had dropped our bags in our room, I had a shower before heading to the restaurant next door for a cheap pizza with some of the others. Then, we grabbed some beers from the shop (mainly because we were cheap travellers) and sat on the beach near our hostel. chatting and laughing, we moved to the kava circle to experience and taste some more kava as well as listen to the locals playing the guitar before heading to bed for an early start.

 

 

Advertisements

Siem Reap: Angkor Wat, Pub Street, Waterfall exploring

IMG_3806 The first thing on our list was to get out of that hostel and find a new one. Luckily, Siem Reap has loads to choose from due to the rise in tourist.
Siem Reap was completely different to what I expect. In my mind, it was going to be a small, quiet place with little foreigners. It was quite the opposite: large, loud and definitely plenty of tourists. It has become more popular in recent years due to the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat being near by.

I have to say the bad start to Cambodia made me not want to be there but that was soon turned around. After finding a suitable place to stay, we wandered around to see what this area had to offer. We came across several markets full of food and clothes, and pub street with masses of tuk tuks and tourists. There wasn’t much going on but I just loved the feel of the city.IMG_3493

During the afternoon, we decided to have a Cambodian massage, which an interesting experience. Two young girls (they looked about 14 but later found out they were 18) gave us a light massage while talking to us. The girls were lovely but I usually like my massages in silence and slightly harder. For dinner, we decided to have some western food, Mexican, as it was pretty cheap. IMG_3809This is the first time I’ve had western food since being in Asia.

The next day, we woke up early to get our ride to see Angkor Wat at sun rise. I was looking forward to this as some might consider it being one of the wonders of the world: it didn’t disappoint. However, before sunrise, I didn’t expect to have a photo taken of me for the ticket. With hundreds of tourists waiting, the sun slowly emerged from the ground being Angkor Wat: words can not describe the beauty around me. After appreciating the main temple of Angkor Wat, we found our driver, who was sleeping in the tuk tuk, to take us around the huge complex. We wandered around Bayon, Elephant terrace, Chau Say Tevoda, Thommanon, Ta Keo and Ta Prohm; all different in shape, size and style.IMG_3639 If anyone plans to visit Angkor Wat; my advice is to have a driver as the area is massive and it can be tiring walking around in the high heat. We still had a nap once we reached our hostel before having lunch and chilling along pub street with a beer.

IMG_3614In the evening, we were searching where to have our evening meal when we found a cheap burger place. Our waiter, Borey, who we later found out was the owner, was extremely friendly and invited us out with him. In Cambodian style, along with an American guy and Brazilian girl, he took us to a karaoke bar, where the voices were a little screechy, then to a club, which had heavy strobe lighting and was full of teenagers. We didn’t stay here long before returning to pub street to experience the typical tourist night life in this city, where we met a group of guys from Brazil.IMG_3796

Soon we were surrounded with pumping music, loud tourist, strobe lights flashing, and huge crowds dancing outside two of the clubs, which were opposite each other. here was a young girl, who was 14 getting the clubbers going. She was an amazing dancer with some attitude selling bracelets but the crowds just loved her circling and cheering her on. I was in two minds, she shouldn’t be out that late in a drinkers surrounding but she was dancing to earn money for her family. She really did make the night and after talking to her, she enjoyed being there and dancing.

IMG_3694

Cooking class

The following day, we decided to have a chill morning before experiencing a Cambodian cooking class. This was a first as I’ve never done a cooking class before. Walking into the local market soared my senses into overdrive. Smells of sweet fruit and unusual spices whiffed up my nose. Colours and shapes of different types of food: many I didn’t even recognise.

After been shown the different vegetables and spices we were using as our ingredients, we climbing the stairs to the kitchen. There were six of us doing the class with people from different nationalities.

IMG_3735

Beggars on steps to the temple

Even though, we were all cooking a different Cambodian dish, the chef showed us exactly how to cut and cook the ingredients. As with all cooking, we prepared and cooked the vegetables then cooked a certain way to perfect our delicious meal, which we could taste and enjoy after. I made vegetable spring rolls, amok seafood and a sweet pineapple and passion fruit dessert. It all tasted incredible.

In the evening, we met some of the others from the night before and relaxed at Mad Monkeys with a beer.

On the next day, we planned a coach excursion with a company. We were shown 1000 lingos, which was large stones in a lake: they represented women in the Hindu religion. Our guide wasn’t clear so I’m not sure about the importance of them. As we were walking to the huge reclining Buddha, beggars sat on every step facing the ground wearing minimal dirty clothes. Many people who walked passed gave them small change. It just showed how poor the country is outside of the main city. IMG_3750For those who have not seen poverty like thus, it can be a shock to the system but I feel it can opens ones eyes to the reality surrounding us every day.

From here, we wandered to the huge waterfall. At first, I thought it was such a disappointment but we were not shown the main future at first. We had some time to relax, swim in the waterfall and climb rocks. It was heaving with people: tourists and locals, bathing and jumping off the huge rocks. We were rushed to leave, which was slightly irritating as we were up to stay there a little longer. On the way back, we were taken to a restaurant in the middle of nowhere so that the driver could get a free meal. We decided to have lunch in the centre of Siem Reap followed by ice cream with one of the girls.IMG_3772

I was slightly disappointed with the trip as u thought the excursion was expensive for what we did and saw. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to others.

As the weather was extortionate, we hid in the room with the fan to relax during the afternoon. Once we had rested, we met up with some of the people at Naga before heading to Pub Street to dance the night away.

In Siem Reap, there is not a masses to do so the following day we laid by the pool in Mad Monkeys before heading back to Hua Hin to celebrate our friends graduating from the TESOL course.

Koh Samui: motorbikes, waterfall, zip lining, 4×4 driving and elephant trekking

Today has been my favourite day in South East Asia so far. It was definitely not planned, activities just sort of happened. This post is going to be full of photos and not so much writing.

IMG_3329To start the day we hired out motorbikes, which I was extremely excited about. I have never driven a motorbike (well, except a friend’s bike a few days earlier to a 7/11). It was harder than expected and even by the end of the day I still wasn’t confident. If i’m going straight on a quite road then I’m okay but put traffic, turns and uneven gravel into the mix then I will fall on my face. I did, however, fall off my motorbike turning into a gravelly car park but i was going so slow that I didn’t injury myself, just scratched the bike. I had to pay for that later. To hike out a motorbike for 24 hours, it cost 150bt (approximately £3).

We decided to find a waterfall so we followed some road signs. the first waterfall we encountered was a small waterfall, but the place also had other things to do so we took the opportunity to see an incredible view, zip lining miles above ground and have a fish pedicure.

IMG_3194   IMG_3200IMG_3210  IMG_3217

After, we hopped back onto our motorbikes to search out the biggest waterfall on this island. As we arrived, there was an elephant trekking area, which we couldn’t resist, especially as the other two had never ridden an elephant before. Bumping around on the elephant as it dawdled along the dusty track, we got the chance to climb on it’s neck and stroke his head.

IMG_3252  IMG_3259

Next, we enjoyed a ride to the waterfall on a 4×4 jeep. Enjoyed might not be the correct word for it. Throwing and tossing from side to side as the engine revved up the windy, chaotic path was a scary but exhilarating experience. one of the girls flung from her seat, nearly being thrown off the vehicle altogether. Luckily the driver noticed and stopped to let her slide back onto her seat.

IMG_3303

Once we wandered to the waterfall, we swam in the refreshing water before heading back to our hut for some food.

IMG_3308

As we had some spare time before going out in the evening, two of us rode our bikes around Koh Samui, soaking up the sun, the beautiful views and the atmosphere.

IMG_3222

In the evening, we had a few beers at the restaurant then caught a songtaew to the clubs. It wasn’t really a club, just an open space on the beach with loud music and a bar. On the beach area were young children trying to sell flowers and bracelets to the tourist to earn money. It saddens me that parents send out their young children as they know people are more likely to buy from children than adults. I’m not sure if these families live in poverty or know that they can get most of their income from drunk tourist. Either way, children have the right to be kids not to be working.

We met a group of people, who were living in Sweden but came from Peru. unfortunately, we didn’t get to dance as one of the girls I was with had drunk a little too much. We dropped her back home before searching for food, then staggered back on the beach shore. As we were walking, some stray dogs joined us and made sure we got back to our accommodation safely.

Nikko: Kegon waterfall, Lake Chuzenji and Toshogu

One day was all we had here, which I initially thought would not be enough. However, it was. When researching Japan, I found that Nikko was a must see place but I was slightly disappointed. Not sure whether this was influenced by the fog or rain or lack of sleep.

In the morning, I drove up the extremely windy, hilly path up to Lake Chuzenji and Kegon waterfall. If you get travel sick, I wouldn’t recommend it. I love a challenge when driving, the hair pin bends were fun.

The waterfall is one of the countries most famous. There was a lift that took visitors down to the gorge below, but we decided to see the magnificent waterfall from the observation deck at the top. It was breath-taking even though it wasn’t too clear as the mountain was full of fog (this was one of the reason why we decided not to go down to the gorge).

IMG_3272.JPG

After, we wandered to Lake Chuzenji, which is the highest lake in Japan. Sitting with my feet in the lake (there were these tiny fish swimming around), watching the boats being rowed across the lake was a peaceful, awe-striking feeling. Walking to the end of a port was fun as it was like a huge float wobbling side to side.

IMG_3275.JPG

As we were driving back to our hostel, we stopped off at a beautiful, shallow waterfall with large rocks engulfing it.

IMG_3284.JPG

In the afternoon, we wandered around the main town of Nikko, which is basically one long avenue from the station to the Toshogu Shrine. On the way is the red-lacquer Shinkyo (Sacred Bridge),which spans over the beautiful Daiya River.

IMG_3294.JPG

From here is a sleep flight of stone steps to the Rinnoji, which is the entrance to shrine complex. In the complex are three temples to visit but we just scouted around the main one at the top. As they are old buildings, one of the temples was covered in scaffolding with a picture of the temple on the front (bit strange and surreal).

IMG_3300.JPG

Inside the Toshogu, on the left, is a five storey pagoda of the shrine, decorated with the 12 signs of the Asian Zodiac and the hollyhock crest of the Tokugawa family.

IMG_3303.JPG

The gate here are guarded by two fierce red-painted Deva king.

IMG_3304.JPG

In the courtyard is a stable, which houses the shrine’s sacred white horse; the carved panel above the door is the famous group of three monkeys – ‘Hear no evil, see no hear, speak no evil!’

IMG_3307.JPG

IMG_3308.JPG

Soon we came to the ‘Gate of the sleeping cat’, where the cat was on top of an entrance and a lot smaller than I thought.

IMG_3319.JPG

Through here were 207 stone steps up to Tokugawa Ieyasu’s tomb. I can tell you, I was not expecting this many steps and my legs hurt as I was climbing up. At the top, there was a great view, interesting trees and a cool, rushing stream. The tomb, however, was nothing special.

IMG_3322.JPG

The main temple was beautifully designed with intricate details and vibrant colours. Inside, we took off our shoes, watched a monk bless others and speak to us. Then we walked around, where a guy was describing all the parts of the inside of a temple. He also hit part of a statue, which vibrated around the room. All the tourists seemed to be amazed by this, wowing and ohhhing. It was pretty amusing.

IMG_3325.JPG

The shrine was interesting but I’m not sure it was worth coming all the way to Nikko. However, it was probably the most detailed temple I had seen on the whole trip.

After, we tried to find a restaurant down the main avenue but wasn’t successful so we had to drive to the next town to get food.

IMG_3334.JPG

By the end of the day, I was knackered after the long drive the night before and lack of sleep but unfortunately I had an interesting night sleep in the hostel.

Archives

Follow ___ Life as a travelling teacher on WordPress.com

Instagram

There was an error retrieving images from Instagram. An attempt will be remade in a few minutes.