A Travellerspoint blog

America: I'm a J.A., don't arrest me

sunny 25 °C
View Babez on Round the World Tour 2010 on noodz4loz's travel map.

Today is a very sad day for us, our last blogging day. We have two and a half weeks to catch up on and we're sat with our red cups full of vodka and coke, true to ourselves, getting us through. As a result we have decided to summarise out time in America with a series of highlights.

1. Having found our local Mexican restaurant, which we were very excited about, we took our place in a booth, thrilled to be in an actual American style diner. We were thoroughly enjoying our meal until Donna left the booth to make a comfort stop leaving Laura in direct eye contact with a nutcase in the next booth who immediately engaged her in conversation presuming that Donna's absence meant that they were now dining together. Laura looked in every direction other than his eyes and prayed for Donna's return. Much to her distress, this didn't resolve matters as he leaned around her making obscene gestures with his hands.
2. On our airport shuttle, Laura was convinced that she had seen 'People's Revolution' from The Hills, Laura sent Donna on a wild goose chase trying to find it for a picture but massively misjudged where it was. Having walked 100 miles to find it, it never appeared allowing Donna to convince Laura that the sighting had never taken place. Laura later googled its location and discovered that it was two from their bus stop in the opposite direction. Donna was less than pleased and refused to go back.
3. Stupidly deciding to go to an American comedy night at our hostel and sitting accidentally too near the front. We were targetted by every comedian for not laughing enough...a painful evening for all involved.
4. Realising on our Beverly Hills tour that the two girls in our room went to Manchester University and studied history. Laura insisted on making them recite every module they had taken just to make sure they had not been in the same lecture hall at some point at Uni.
5. Overhearing a $40 tour driving past a house in Beverly Hills and us hearing that it was Steven Segal's house. Our tour guide declaring loudly that actually the house was vacant evident by the massive 'For Rent' sign on the lawn. He also pointed out the Segway tour encouraging us to point, laugh and take photos of the people who had paid $100 each to look like idiots.
6. Our tour guide making us touch the gates of the house Michael Jackson died in to be close to him spiritually and then showing us the video of his tour group seeing Michael two weeks before he died. All you could hear in the background was the high pitched voice of our tour guide screeching 'Michael, Michael, I love you!'. He was not ashamed.
7. Laura overhearing that the Salt premier would begin in 2 hours on Hollywood Blvd, 5 minutes from our hostel and being thrilled having prayed for a premier or alternatively an Ange and Brad spotting whilst in LA. Dragging Donna around the entire cinema to find the best viewing spot and eventually succeeding on a rooftop next door and proceeding to live probably the best two hours of her life exclaiming to Donna that she was close to tears and that her legs felt like jelly.
8. Going for alcohol and stumbling across the legendary red cups.
9. Finally going to a club from the hills...Donna was surprised to arrive finding Laura had taken her to a rock club, the least likely place to find Laura on any given night. Laura got into the spirit by screaming 'Rock Face' and Donna and attempting to head bang every 2 minutes.
10. Donna being thrilled by witnessing the 'free pour' mentality in America and how much alcohol goes into a single drink.
11. Trying to cook drunk noodles without a hob and successfully putting Donna off noodles for the first time in her life.
12. Laura throwing up noodles and insisting on showing Donna, laughing hysterically.
13. Attempting to pack after waking up at half past nine the next morning due to check out in half an hour and Laura refusing to do anything declaring that she 'didn't care!'.
14. The most painful day of our lives climbing up to see the Hollywood sign.
15. Actually managing to hire a car from the best rental company in the world and getting to our next hostel without getting lost...welcome to Venice Beach!

Venice Beach
1. Meeting three English lads who reminded us once again what a small world this is as two of them are studying in Cambridge next year, one of them having lived in north Norfolk, having a friend in common and one of them having the same birthday as Donna and intending to celebrate it in Vegas. They also made us feel massively old when we declared that we had just graduated before coming travelling and it then came to light that they had actually graduated in July 2010. Bollocks.
2. Booking the same hotel as them within an hour of speaking to them and making elaborate plans for tattoos and marriage in Vegas.
3. Our first experience of American roads and how annoying it is to get lost on them given their poor signage and ridiculous lane etiquette.
4. Once on track, an amazing coastal drive to Paradise Cove...Laura was literally in reach of famous people, but not so impressed when she saw the sign barring her from going up to their houses. The only person we could see was a middle aged lady with a dark bob...Laura was convinced she was Suri Cruise and was therefore content to move on.
5. Our first beverages the size of our faces, we both looked at each other in shock when they were brought to us. They were refillable.
6. Coconut prawns.
7. Having told the Irish girls, later collectively to be known as 'Irish', that we wouldn't be going out, we met our favourite English boys downstairs who managed to easily convince us, with a show of massive amounts of vodka which we couldn't resist, to go out with them. Several drinking games later, we were on a game of Ride the Bus and we had decided the way forward would be to substitute a drink per forfeit to a 'pulley'...thanks Will, who seems convinced it was Laura's idea. A pulley is a large gulp straight from the bottle of your chosen spirit.
8. Our only picture of the night being an exploded toilet.
9. Laura and Terry going to the bar to get a round of drinks and, having already tipped, being informed by the bar man that it was customary to tip $1 per drink. After refusing to do so, the barman, along with a woman at the bar, pointed at them and started shouting 'shitty tipper!'...and we thought tipping was for good service.
10. Laura walking in on nakedness in our room and running out screaming, making the remaining Irish check whether Laura's eyes had deceived her.
11. Staying up until 4.30am and making ridiculous plans to visit the funfair at 10 the next day...and sticking to them.
12. Going on a road trip with the Irish to Huntington and getting massively lost due to accidentally exiting the freeway, apparently impossible to correct. Nevertheless we managed to successfully convince the Irish to hire their own car...good luck girls!
13. Going around Newport Beach for an hour trying to find a parking space and in the process losing the beach.
14. Telling the staff in Starbucks that Laura was a fan of the Hills and Laguna Beach, so in 45 minutes if they were her, what would they do. This ended in Laura touching the barista as informed us that she had seen Stephen two weeks before. Donna was horrified.

San Diego
1. Discovering Taco Bell.
2. Also discovering 1.75 liters of Smirnoff vodka for $18.
3. Making the fatal decision whether or not to attend the hostel party for $15 or make our own fun, Laura was determined that any fun we could make would be better than paid for organised fun. How right we were when after our own drinking session we got into the party for free. This included free beer, free bbq (although this ended in tears when we were told that the chili was actually salsa and ended up, due to our inability to give up free food, eating an interesting combination of hot dog plus chilli con carne...not to be recommended, thank you Captain America), free ice luge which Laura insisted we do twice in order for us to get photos. The choice was tequila or jagermeister...excellent.
4. Whilst playing drinking games in our room, an Irish guy appeared at our window asking if we could let him in. Presuming he wanted to go to the party, we gave him the code for the door. Shortly after being turned away he re-appeared, suddenly declaring that what he wanted was a bed to sleep in. We made it clear that he was thoroughly unwelcome and would under no circumstances be getting into our room. This didn't help Laura in believing Kayleigh's assessment, 'the Irish cannot be trusted'.
5. Moving to our city centre hostel without getting even remotely lost.
6. A LOT of mental people in the city centre.
7. Day trip to Tijuana...being thrilled to get free bracelets and then looking closer to realise they are highly religious bracelets. A lot of love from our Mexican waiters who wouldn't let us forget that we are beautiful and being excited by Donna's declaration of no boyfriend and Laura's declaration that her boyfriend is in England. A lot of Mexican food and a lot of Margharitas make for a perfect day, especially when you have to queue for 4 hours to get back into America...we didn't even require passports to get into Mexico.
8. During the drive, being confused why the car in front of us was swerving between lanes. Upon close inspection, realising that three people seemed to be engaged in some kind of fight and sensibly opting to stay far enough behind them that when they took out the entire freeway we would be far enough away to remain unscathed. Luckily they seemed to make friends soon after and we could continue on our way.

1. An incredible drive through the desert to a lot of singing along to DJ Laura's limited selection of Britney, Christina and Jason Mraz.
2. Peggie Sue's Diner.
3. Bellagio fountains on our first night, the second we stepped off the bus.
4. Public drinking allowed...welcome to Nevada!
5. Donna managing to leave our bag complete with money, driving licences, locker key and room key in a fast food place. Astonishingly we were asked on our way back if we were Donna and Laura and were handed the bag, God Bless Americans.
6. Yard long Margharitas.
7. Checking into the MGM Grand slightly worse for wear after finishing number 6 and bumping into Will at reception.
8. Bombarding Will with what would you do's including what he would do if Will went back to his room to find a lion in his room and upon going downstairs for help seeing Terry in the lion cage. This what would you do lasted for all of Vegas.
9. Amazing lazy river and blistering heat.
10. Laura walking over an unexpected water jet and screaming, falling head first into the water in shock, emerging simply to declare that it was just a water jet.
11. Going to LAX, the BEST CLUB OF WILL'S LIFE and Laura succeeding in getting 4 glasses of champagne to see Donna's birthday in at midnight.
12. Soon bumping into the boys...Donna and Terry disappearing off to get free birthday drinks...being convinced that for a double birthday there was nothing they could not get and being disillusioned at the bar by being told that in Vegas no one cares.
13. Donna reappearing with a drink in her hand...Laura presumed it was vodka and lemonade due to the volume of liquid...it later emerging that it was in fact straight tequila. Needless to say, upon finishing said drink Donn and Laura stood to go the the dance floor and instantly fell backwards, straight to the floor with very little resistance. Bewildered, Laura helped her up.
14. Donna reappearing with two bouncers on either arm who informed Laura that Donna had to leave because she couldn't stand straight on her feet and that Will had to leave as well. Of the three of them, Laura was apparently the only one who was allowed back into the club much to Will's annoyance.
15. On arriving back at the MGM, Laura and Will walked towards 'our room' deciding that Donna would follow and having unsuccessfully tried to get into said room, still without Donna, realising it was the wrong room tried elsewhere, only to find Donna sitting outside the correct room.
16. The next morning Laura unneccessarily angrily telling Donna she could get the bloody door at 11am, having set her alarm for 5 to...Donna opening the door in her dress from the previous night in true Donna style, to find room service waiting singing Happy Birthday with champagne and a massive chocolate cake...Thanks Mum and Dad!
17. Settling down for a post champagne and cake 'nap' and waking up at 3.30pm with Laura questioning Donna as to whether or not she'd had a good day...bloody marvellous, the beds were amazing.
18. Laura seriously asking Donna if she could realistically live the remainder of her life in an MGM bed. Donna replying yes...they both could.
19. Heading to Tao in the Ventian, THE BEST CLUB OF OUR LIVES, complete with semi-naked dancing girls, a woman in a hoop dancing above the dance floor, many floors and rooms of dancing and drinking and a lot of good music.
20. Looking around the Venetian hotel with Laura declaring 'It looks like daytime, but it's actually night!', before going on a photography spree with Will.
21. Back at the MGM starting on the 1 cents slots machines for free drinks. Laura was massively annoyed that McDonalds were already only serving the shitty breakfast menu at 4am when all she wanted in the world was a cheeseburger.
22. Donna and Will spending the next 2 hours on the slots getting free drinks and becoming members of the MGM Players' Club.
23. The next day phoning reception to confirm check-out time, with Laura and Donna sensibly deciding that they were willing to pay for an extra hour in bed. We discovered that it was complimentary and Laura asking in disbelief what it was they meant by complimentary.
24. Walking through the MGM Grand lobby with our backpacks and the most painful checkout of Donna's life with Laura being thoroughly unsympathetic informing Donna that she would have been upset had she not felt this bad the day after her birthday.
25. Seeing the inside of New York, New York, the Bellagio and Ceasar's Palace.
26. A painful, yet wonderful drive, half way to San Francisco and staying in a Motel.
27. Surviving the night, after hearing, in true motel style, a woman screaming next door and bashing at our wall her might at half 2 in the morning before slamming the door and running away. Neither of us heard any other voices so are convinced there was a stabbing at Motel 6 on the night of Friday 30th July 2010. We are waiting for the police phone call.
28. Once again accidentally exiting the freeway, which was in no way our fault and once again due to piss-poor American signage, and taking an hour to find our way back. Particularly stressful since we had a deadline to get the car back.

San Fransisco
1. Being absolutely thrilled to go over the Golden Gate Bridge with Laura declaring 'This is bloody well it!' and Donna replying 'Shouldn't it be red?'. Laura's response was that there could not possibly be two suspension bridges in San Francisco, unfortunately being proved wrong when two days later, we were in the middle of the Sea with the Golden Gate Bridge to one side of us and the Bay Bridge to the other side and it becoming horribly clear to both of us what had happened.
2. Not understanding the scale of San Fransisco and accidentally walking 3 miles to Fisherman's Wharf and realising that we were unfortunately definitely too late to buy Alcatraz tickets. We therefore decided to go on a cruise that would take us under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz.
3. While waiting for the boat to depart, we went for a sneaky beer, buying a bucket of 6 Coronitas, a name given to mini bottles of Coronas...we were enchanted.
4. On the boat, Laura innocently asked a crew member for a photo with both of us and the bridge, the next thing we know, we have been invited up to where the 'Captain drives the boat'. We were taken up past some disgruntled passengers, through a Crew Only gate, to the wind free Captain's cabin where we meet Deshan, Erich and John. We were then both encouraged to drive the boat, to prove to Laura who was not convinced that the wheel actually controlled the boat. Laura then proceeded to steer far too close to Alcatraz for good pictures...whoops.
5. Going to see Salt and being surprisingly impressed, Donna refusing to dress up so that Laura could take photos and tell everyone they went to the actual premier.
6.. Captain Deshan taking us on a free trip on the Rocket Boat the next day which we thoroughly enjoyed, especially when we got the professional photos for free as well.
7. Erich taking us on the best San Fransisco tour ever, showing us everything we could want in a day, including illegal beer on the streets and to Laura's delight pork buns in the park.
8. The creation of J.A., when we were asked if we had moral objections to jaywalking and being told how he had been fined $200 for jaywalking, Laura was encouraged to give him the title of J.A,. jaywalking addict and screaming it at him every time he crossed a road.
9. Our tour included the Castro area, the gay area of San Fransisco where we were taught the game of 'Gay or European'...Laura's ingenius code of G or E, Donna did not think was appropriate. Erich was not impressed when, after ordering the three of us cocktails, we called him a G.
10. A butch, Asian lesbian came onto Donna, promting a 45 minute discussion between Laura and Donna about Donna clearly showing up on a gay-dar which she needed to think seriously about. She was just jealous, Erich was thoroughly uncomfortable.
11. Laura 'I'm never full' Whitwood failing to finish her drunk burrito with Donna declaring that she wasn't the person she had come travelling with and she was not sure she could think the same of her ever again. Laura responded that she had already eaten all the lunchtime pork buns which Donna had not.
12.We finally made it to the actual Golden Gate Bridge making it half way which was necessary in order to complete it...it's 2 miles long and we walked 2 miles, therefore, we have walked the length of it.
13. Going for drinks at Hooters where Donna was thrilled to notice the waitresses were all wearing sking coloured tights, their legs were not as amazing as she thought. Laura was equally thrilled when judging the waitressed that over half were not amazingly attractive, which she had not anticipated. There were also a disturbing amount of children and elderly couple there.
14. Feeling delightfully tipsy we head to Alioto's for red champagne and were unecessarily stressed out by the queing situation. Eventually we settled at a lovely table, although Donna was made to feel unfortable by a sleazy Mexican waiter, Jose, who would not let go of her, insisting on a photo, that she should go out that night and that she was very beautiful. The night was spent with 4 hours of eating, drinking and reminiscing leading us to finish our blog.

In conclusion, we have survived five months of travelling and have NOT been:
1. robbed
2. raped
3. stabbed
4. killed
5. tortured
6. glassed
7. sold as sex slaves
8. drugged
9. successful gamblers
10. handed cash
11. forced to sleep on a park bench or a beach
12. tattooed
13. married

and we have not lost our:
1. passports
2. driving licences
3. joint purse
4. padlock key
5. flight details
6. bank cards
7. hostel
8. car keys
9. minds
10. backpacks
11. children
12. virginity
13. dignity

See you in England. Snogz.

Posted by noodz4loz 01:25 Archived in USA Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (1)

Fiji: "Shhh Laura, sleep now"

sunny 25 °C
View Babez on Round the World Tour 2010 on noodz4loz's travel map.

We landed at the airport and instantly knew we were in Fiji, Hawiian shirts, finally sunshine and music galore. We had to catch a 'local bus' to the Coral Coast and our hostel and were told it would leave at 6. As we had a couple of hours to kill we went for coffee, but as we weren't entirely convinced that the bus wouldn't appear before six, took turns legging it down the road any time any kind of vehicle appeared leaving us both completely uneccessarily exhasted as the bus stop really wasn't that far away. Eventually we decided the more intelligent plan would be to move with our drinks down to the actual bus stop. We hadn't been there long when an airport steward appeared telling us she recognised us from running after the bus. After about 20 seconds of conversation, we had somehow agreed to stay with her at her house where we could 'sleep together' before we left Fiji the next day. She would even provide us a lift to the airport. Somehow we managed to get out of this rather creepy proposition due to Laura's quick thinking about meeting a friend in Nadi.

We felt in our comfort zone when a dilapidated old bus turned up and hastily grabbed the front seats. At this point it was dark outside which would have been fine had the bus driver been able to master the use of the bus' headlights. Unfortunately this was not the case and every time he switched from beam to dipped, when a car approached in the opposite direction, he ended up turning all the lights off completely. There are no streetlights in Fiji and driving towards the approaching vehicle without any lights on awas unnerving. We stopped for a quick break when the conductor began talking to us, and we were left feeling slightly concerned when he announced that he knew where we were going but was about to jump off the bus. His final shout of 'he will help you!' directed at the completely uninterested bus driver was far from reassuring. The only directions we had for this 2 hour journey were that approximately 40 minutes after this stop there would be a hill and our hostel would be on the right. Unfortunately for us, after every corner there was a hill. Astonishingly, the bus driver lived up to his word and stopped at our hostel...we even got our luggage out of the bottom of the bus.

The Coral Coast was a quiet place which was quite a shock after a very busy time in New Zealand. It took some time to get used to doing nothing especially as we insisted on getting up at 9am every day for the free breakfast. Some things never change. We also refused to spend any money on food so survived on toast and free afternoon tea of scones and coffee until dinner. It was a welcome relief to be somewhere cheap again and not have to cook for ourselves. When it came to deciding what to have for dinner, Laura always insisted that the lady taking our orders tell us what she would have before making her decision. She was not disappointed.

We were back where we wanted to be when we realised how cheap the massages were, and certainly made the most of this rare luxury. They were largely amazing...and in true Thai massage although our first massages were at the same time, they were completely different with Laura realising that literally everything could be massaged. The woman announcing every massage including 'nose massage', 'eyes massage' and 'bum massage'. We were also given a head massage involving them rubbing 'natural coconut oil' into our hair. Laura was not pleased as this always makes her hair hilariously large and mane-like. Ironic no? Considering her favourite song is 'I just can't wait to be King' from the Lion King and for the entire time Donna has know her, insisted that she has the same singing voice as Simba - future King of the Herd.

Although it was slow to begin with and as always, we find it difficult coming to a new place and leaving good friends, we soon settled in and it didn't take long for us to meet some new great people (although nothing can be compared to The Family). We spent a couple of nights with some hilarious boys from Sheffield (one was called Alan, much to Donna's amusement) and after many drinks and the hostel bar closing, they insisted we would see their last night in with a bonfire on the beach. We found a spot in front of our hotel and then announced in a truly feminist way that we would not be assisting in the seach for firewood. The boys disappeared along the beach into pitch black and when only one of them emerged we were concerned...although he, in true boy style, was not remotely worried about his friend. Eventually, he returned declaring he had found no firewood but found a Fijian bonfire at the opposite end of the beach and that we were all invited. We spent an amazing evening talking to four Fijians and Laura was thrilled to see her first shooting star and unsurprisingly insisted that it wouldn't count until she had seen three. All of us thought that the sky was amazing having never seen so many stars. The Fijians were also really entertaining, although we didn't enjoy the conversation on whether or not we went to church...the boys saved us by telling a story about some friends they knew who had once been to church. We both kept quiet deciding it unwise to declare our disbelief in the Creator of All.

Donna was woken the next day remarkably early and discovered something truly horrific had happened; her legs had been raped by sandflies. Unfortunately for Donna, she had taken the earlier shower the previous evening and unlike Laura, had subsequently completely forgotten to put some bug spray on. This was a MASSIVE error, no exaggeration, she was eaten half alive...more of her legs were bites than real skin and she got comments and sympathy for the next four days from everyone we encounted. Donna was thrilled that for once, they were actual bites and not just freckles. Needless to say, the following days were best forgotten and her trip to Suva was haunted by the bites.

Having failed in our attempts to get back to Thailand, and realising we had more than enough time in America, we managed to extend our stay in Fiji...what a brilliant decision. By the last day on the Coral Coast, Donna had almost recovered from her bites and was able to enjoy a really nice evening with our new room-mate Anna and a Canadian girl, Mallory who had just arrived. Once again, the evening was spent with drinks, good conversation and star watching, although Donna refused to go within 20m of any sand. The following day, we head back to Nadi where Anna later joined us and insisted that it was high time we tried Kava. This is a very interesting and traditional Fijian drink and must be served and accepted in a very certain way. It looks like muddy water and tastes like shit, but with a kick. It also makes your tongue go numb and you have to take turns to down a bowl-full at a time. We had a really nice group joining us and once again really enjoyed the evening. We had been warned about Kava and had already had a few bowlfuls on an empty stomach...combined with our beers, we decided it was a good idea that we go and find some food. On our way out, the hostel man who was serving the Kava warned us not to be influenced by too much Kava...this said, he managed to take advantage of our drunken state and somehow convinced us to go to the 'Mud Spa' on the day of our flight after our return from Mana Island. We stumbled across a Chinese restaurant where we were the only people in there and suddenly this made it clear how much we had drunk. Having automatically ordered a bottle of wine the second we sat down, Donna picked up the menu, Laura meanwhile completely ignored the menu that had been placed in front of her and proceeded to pick up the place mat and attempt to open it. Donna looked up at her confused face and corrected this ridiculous mistake. Laura wasn't thrilled to see a rat run through the kitchen towards the toilets, but when she alerted Donna, she didn't get the reaction she'd hoped for, with Donna declaring she couldn't give a shit about rats as long as it wasn't a cockroach. What high standards she has.

The next day, was in fact our first encounter with 'Fiji Time'. Fiji Time is an actual title used by all Fijians as an excuse to be at least half an hour late for everything. We had already said our goodbyes to Anna the previous night as she was due to leave before we wanted to get up. What a surprise then when we saw her downstairs at breakfast more than a little concerned that her boat was supposed to have left 20 minutes ago. She was then informed that it was on Fiji Time, and not to worry. At least this meant we didn't worry when our lift turned up 45 minutes late. We then witnessed the boat that was about to take us out on the two hour journey to Mana Island, but couldn't help but be thrilled that we could finally afford to make it out to a Fijian Island. We were informed that when we left we would be looking at brown sand and when we arrived we would be looking at white sand. This was true. We were both unfazed by the hunched up journed due to two Swedish beauties sat opposite us on the boat. Laura, in true exaggerated style, declared to Donna that she was in love...Donna didn't mind as she too found herself to be falling in love with his friend. When the Fijian boat man made the love of Laura's life carry her rucksack onto the boat, it then became clear to Laura that the feeling was mutual, and she's still bloody talking about it now.

The first couple of days were very slow, especially in the evenings after dinner where everyone (all young people who seemed relatively normal) disappeared...considering dinner was at 6pm, they weren't in bed, however, we explored the other hostel bars and again were greeted by nothing special. We were futher confused by all the marker pen writing in the main dining room claiming how amazing the hostel was and talking about a mysterious Bosco and a suprising number of 'Fuck Yes'' being written on the wall, we had not heard this phrase once. It seemed to us that a lot of people had once thoroughly enjoyed the hostel, but we couldn't understand why considering nothing was happening and the room was more than a little dingy. Needless to say, the hostel staff, much like all the Fijians we met, were utterly lovely...some of the nicest people we've met. We satisfied ourselves by booking a dive where we'd see sharks. The dive instructor, who loved Laura, and didn't try and conceal it with his body language..took us out on the tiniest and flakiest boat in the world. We weren't confident that we were going to get to the dive or back as they really struggled with starting the boat and it often cut out. Having been told by our dive instructor that we would be going straight to the Supermarket, we were both a little confused with Laura asking Donna secretly if we would be required to buy our dive equipment. Neither of us would have been happy and so were thrilled when we were in the middle of the sea and informed that we had reached the Supermarket. It suddenly clicked that this was a dive site. We were happy to be out of Australia's restricting diving rules and so massively entertained when Donna tried her regulator and realised her air wasn't on just before jumping into the water. He replied with a very laid back 'oh yes, I must turn that on for you'. Considering the fact we were anchored in the middle of a very choppy sea which we are unused to, our instructions were to simply dive in and go straight down due to the current whichever side of the boat we decided on. We went for opposite sides of the boat so we could go in together in typical '1, 2, 3 style), only Laura wasn't quite ready and left Donna on her own in the water while she flapped around in the boat before betraying Donna and doing 1, 2, 3 with the instructor, leaving Donna on her own 10m down for much longer than she would have liked. Haha.

We both loved the dive and were amazed to see for Laura at least, not only one but three/four (of course she can't remember exact figures and Donna can't help as predictably she only saw one) grey reef sharks, all bigger than us. Satisfied at seeing them, Laura was not amused when the dive instructore signalled that they should go closer. Donna was struggling with her ears at this point and so could not go down further so he took this as an opportunity to try his moves with Laura underwater...pulling her towards him to ballroom dance. It should be noted that Laura probably accidently initiated this by facing her biggest diving nemesis and nearly swimming head first into coral. The sharks were no problem compared to this. We then swam towards and area that had previously been used as a shark feeding area...a fact we know as our dive instructor (no, we don't actually remember his name) drew a ridiculous picture of a shark and a person. The picture was less than reassuring, but absolutely hilrious and probably good for Laura's interpretation of 5-year-old's drawings. As always, we both got a real buzz from diving and hoped for a more impressive night. This was to be fulfilled as we accidentally discovered Bosco.

Zoscha, an Australian girl caught us walking back from another bar, again disappointed at the show, who told us to join her in the Dive Shop. By Dive Shop, she meant a hut which was full of a mixture of Fijian hostel workers and other backpackers drinking rum and Kava and singing along to the guitar played by Adam. We had a great time although as everyone else filtered off we stayed behind, somehow ending up next to the hilarious Bosco, a 50-year old Fijian...legend to Mana Island. He suddenly grabbed Laura's feet whilst she was taking a power nap and began to massage them. He then declared that he needed oils and jumped up to retrieve some from the Dive Shop much to Laura's amusement. She then proceeded to demand whether or not this was a proper dive shop or just a hut containing a few flippers and some massage oil. Bosco laughed and refused to deny Laura's assessment. Having finished Laura's 45 minute massage he then attempted to grad Donna's legs, just leaving them in his lap and refusing to allow Donna to remove...an uncomfortable half hour before bed. Again, we made some drunken decisions and Laura insisted that Bosco take us Island Hopping the next day. At 9am. This was even after Laura checked that this was normal time and not Fijian Time.

True to their word, which was a massive surprise, considering they didn't get to bed until 6am, Bosco and Adam were preparing the boat when we appeared at half 9. Very accustomed to Fiji Time this was to be expected. Adam insisted on force feeding us breakfast, and kept giggling, presumably because he was still drunk...thank God we had a sober boat captain. We set off and were taken around several islands, encouraged to take advantage of the 5 star resorts. We were also taken snorkling and although we had a very enjoyable time, as it was amazing, forced to extend our swimming by Adam who insisted they would call us when it was time to go. The next thing we know when we put our heads up is they're shouting for us and the boat is approximately 2m away disturbingly close. Laura was thrilled by the snorkling as we saw squid and a lot of pretty fish we hadn't seen before. Laura has now decided she is addicted to pretty fish (but will none the less continue to eat sushi and her obsession, tuna melts) and loves them. We had an amazing barbeque lunch and stopped off at a sand island on the way back. It was a tiny island made up of pure white sand and was an incredible place to be when the Sun was going down. We were also informed by Bosco that because we couldn't go fishing and we were leaving the next day, he would organise a Fijian dance and fire show that evening ending with a bonfire on the beach. This he did, again being true to his word. Earlier on in the day, Adam had overheard Donna call Laura Loz. He was very amused and wouldn't let it go, he even went as far as dragging Donna away just to bring her straight back to Laura announcing "Loz, this is Doz". We were particularly amused in the middle of the dances, during one of Bosco's sincere speeches about Fiji being third world when we heard from backstage Adam's voice calling 'Laaaauuss'. We immediately cracked up, but understand this was not because Fiji is third world. Adam, who was the fittest Fijian dancer, informed us that this had been solely for our benefit and to make us laugh. We were also thrilled when Bosco announced to the entire audience that the show was for us as it was our last night. We felt special, although Laura wasn't best pleased when he announced where we were from...Cambridge and Nor-fuck.

The fire show was amazing, although none of the four dancers got through it without dropping their fire-sticks. Donna later found out that this was because they had all been hammered by 4pm due to the fact that there was to be no fire show that evening, when Bosco appeared from our Island Hopping tour declaring that there would be one in our honour...oops. It was all fun and games until the bonfire when things became slightly hazy for us...when we both accidentally acquired an extremely persistent Fijian dancer. Adam emerged, and refused to give up on his attempts to make us change our flights and stay for an extra three days. His entire tactic involved reciting the days of the week insisting we had enough time to do America until an American girl on our tour turned around insisting 'these girls work on English time, not Fijian time, they can't! They have neither the time nor money!'. Adam's response was that we should speed around America. Nice one.

Laura then went to bed, unfortunately leaving Donna in the difficult position of explaining to Adam where she had gone. She failed in lying, not 3 minutes before Laura had returned to the room and they (Donna being dragged by Adam) appeared in their dorm with Donna giving a sheepish 'I've done something bad'. Adam then bounded into the room and practically picked Laura up returning her to the bonfire. Back at the bonfire, Laura started to wake up and wasn't happy when Adam kept forcing her head onto his lap demanding that she 'sleep now'. Donna couldn't help due to problems of her own, Laura enquiring whether she was really holding her Fijian's hand. 'Yes', she replied, 'I don't know how to get rid of it.'.

Laura was left defeated and letting Adam walk her back to her room, managed to finally get to bed, Donna gave in shortly after. We awoke the next morning, definitely ready to leave Mana Island and the broken hearts we left behind.

Posted by noodz4loz 23:09 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

New Zealand: Life without the family

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Back at our hostel in Christchurch, we set about dinner on our own, feeling a bit down having left the family. Obviously food was the only thing that could cheer us up and we were thrilled to be handed a bowl of chicken wings, onions and rice by a lady who'd made too much. She seemed a little overwhelmed by our gratitude...but it was fantastic and of course we could never have made them. We then set out back to Base Bar to meet the London boys, but were disappointed when Liam and Mikey pissed off to a strip club, probably to show off their pole dancing skills that they had honed earlier in the evening at the pole dancing competition. They had also entered Laura, much to her surprise when whilst at the bar, her name was called. Needless to say,she didn't feel the need to partake. Much of the evening was spent drinking and chatting with Andy and Clarky, Laura demanding of Andy what he would cook her for a three course dinner date...it sounded lovely, but she was less keen on dessert, which was Andy himself.

The next morning was a typical early Kiwi morning and we were feeling a little worse for wear. This didn't matter however, as we had decided that the people on the bus would be shit and we wouldn't need to bother with them. As they walked past us on the bus we rated them positive or negative in the cool stakes...they didn't stand a chance after the family. We arrived in Kaikoura again, and realised that our assessment of the bus had been correct and decided that the only girl we had bothered to talk to was boring and a pain in the arse. We felt like we had fully completed Kaikoura on our last visit and didn't fancy another 4 mile trek to see some more seals so the day drifted by with sleep, internet and food. We did make another appearance at Pommie Mike's pub quiz and watched the beginning of Notorious, a film about the Notorious B. I. G.'s life, being surprised by how interested we became...we must have been bored.

The next day, we went up to Picton to get the ferry across to the North Island and we arrived in Wellington when it was already dark. It looked like a really cool place so we were sad we could only stay a night, but we had used up all our extra time in Queenstown. We went for a walk along the harbour which was really nice and Laura was thrilled when we passed a playground with a slide. Donna not so much. We both decided to walk up as far as the last tree with lights on to have completed Wellington.

Taupo was our next stop which we really liked. We stopped at a waterfall on the way and whilst waiting for the Kiwi bus to reappear, Donna turned around to find Laura in deep conversation with the two old men in the giftshop about the dangers of skydiving. Typical. We were told that unless you were skydiving, the highlight of Taupo was the natural hot springs by the river, and that they were free. Not sure if we would go in given that it was already 5pm and freezing, we weren't sure what to expect when we got there, convinced it would be lukewarm river water. How wrong we were. The pools were approximately 85 degrees, and Donna, in typical ginger style couldn't get in straight away. Laura was in heaven though. The pools were tiered and we were disappointed to see the first one was full, but once we got a bit higher, we found our own private pool. We were delighted. Eventually some English lads showed up, which we were not happy about, but they were actually really nice and after 15 minutes talking to them, they had somehow convinced us to cut out America and head back to Thailand.

That evening was ladies' night in Base Bar and this of prompted all the guys to dress up as girls to get free drinks. This was entertaining for us, as we spent at least the first hour deciding whether one of them was a really unfortunate boy or a really unfortunate girl. When Donna saw the hairy armpits, it suddenly became clear. For the second time that day, Donna left Laura alone for 2 minutes, returning to find her surrounded by old men...only this time no one was speaking. This looked rather odd as the men were practically sitting on Laura when there was plenty of space anywhere else in the bar. She then caught Donna's eye mouthing 'how has this happened again?' and insists it was not her fault. Donna would like to point out that this has never happened to her...

The next day we went to Rotorua and given that Laura was feeling ill, and Donna hungover decided that the most strenuous activity they could manage was the cinema. A great idea as 'Get him to the Greek' was truly hilarious. The next day we went to the Polynesian Spa...more thermal pools but a little less rustic. Seven varying temperature pools overlooking Rotorua Lake. We then spent the evening at a Maori village which included buffet dinner and Maori dancing. It was so much fun and the food was incredible. Laura who had reacquired her appetite was thrilled although Donna honestly thought she might explode especially when Laura insisted she could not leave until they had both had dessert. Laura still thinks she could have had another plate whilst Donna put on a poor show, and we were both annoyed that we missed the tea and coffee...we are backpackers after all and must get our money's worth.

Our final Kiwi stop was Auckland where we were reunited with Steve our bus driver from the South Island. We were shocked to realise that we were actually pleased to see him as he brought back happy memories of the family. We were less pleased that Auckland was grey and rainy and as it was a big city there was not much to do as we didn't want to spend money. The highlight was accidentally bumping into Chalky in the bar at Base which resulted in far too much drinking and our entry into a speed pool competition. After complaining that neither of us could play pool, we were promised that in the first round we would play each other. Donna was onto a winner until she potted the black in true Donna style, Laura was out in round two despite the fact that the halved the number of balls she had to pot...how embarassing.

Before leaving Auckland, the time finally came for us to get rid of the Winter clothes. There was a second hand clothes shop across the street and Laura was distraught when she was told that they couldn't sell her clothes and they would have to go to a charity shop instead. Tropical Brasil, the jumper Laura stole in Sydney didn't even make it across the street for fear of embarrassment so it was left in Base. If anyone sees it, treat it with care. We were both keen to move onto Fiji in search of Sun...

Posted by noodz4loz 12:00 Archived in New Zealand Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

New Zealand: The family hit Queenstown

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View Babez on Round the World Tour 2010 on noodz4loz's travel map.

Following the previous night, we decided that in order for Donna to survive her bungy jump, Jules to survive her Canyon Swing and Laura to survive watching Donna's bungy jump, another Fergburger was in order. Timing as essential so we grasped our "food window" with both hands and head straight to Fergburger for breakfast/lunch. Deciding this wasn't enough, we also head to a lovely pub for mulled wine. This seemed to do the trick and waving goodbye to Jules (hopefully not for the last time), we went to the bungy centre exactly on time in the hope that we could jump straight on the bus. How wrong we were. Donna was delighted when she was weighed for the bungy jump and her weight written on her hand in indelible ink, and equally pleased when she was told that the shuttle to the jump would be half an hour. Laura was thrilled as she got writing on her hand as a spectator, but was convinced people would think she had done the jump as well. Donna had to sit through half an hour of watching all the AJ Hackett jump footage with Laura freaking out that she couldn't cope with watching.

Eventually the shuttle arrived. We were then informed that it was a 45 minute ride to Nevis and that we could use the time to 'think about what you've signed up for'. The worst part was driving past Laura's bridge bungy jump, Karawa Bridge, for the next day, which taller from a distance...the blue water had been deceptive the day before, and being told that Nevis was three and a half times higher. Happy days. We were thrilled to even make it up the tiny track to Nevis, but realised that if we had survived the trip to Louang Phabang, we could survive this. While Donna was being strapped into her harness, we realised that our bus was taking the London boys back after their jump. Laura ran up to talk to them, only to recieve a torrent of abuse for not doing the jump herself. Donna was just pleased to see them all alive. Laura was surprised.

More waiting followed, as it took two carriages before we could go through for Donna's jump. During this time, we were told how to unhook your legs to avoid coming up upside down, and watching in the distance, the majority of people failing to manage to do it and coming up upside down. Laura insisted that Donna should not worry about it and not risk unhooking herself completely and that it wouldn't be that embarassing as most people couldn't handle it, Donna however, remembering that Robyn had suceeded, told Laura that she would rather fall after unhooking herself completely than fail where Robyn had not. Laura being the golden only child could not understand sibling rivalry.

We then were sent over to the Nevis highwire capsule chatting to another girl who was jumping, she was from New Zealand. Laura was quite surprised when she was asked if she too was from New Zealand herself...Donna hadn't even realised. Laura tried her best to be there for Donna, taking lots of pictures to 'document' the experience and exclaimed when Flo Rida, Low, came on, that it was a great sign and Donna would definitely survive. All too soon, it was Donna's turn and Laura got in position to take photos. Laura, who was right beside Donna every step of the way, got chattin to the bungy guy who asked her why she wasn't doing it...she said that she was too chicken to do Nevis, but would be doing the bridge jump the next day. He then unhelpfully declared that this would be much worse as you are far closer to the bottom so you can see it all that bit clearer. Meanwhile Donna was pushed out onto the tiniest ledge in the world, afraid to look down for fear she wouldn't jump and not being so impressed to be pushed out further, especially when the weight went over the edge giving an unpleasant tug. They don't let you fanny about on the edge though so after 3, 2, 1 bungy, she jumped. Laura did an excellent job filming and you can hear a loud 'WOO' in the video that Donna is not dead. Having being brought back up the RIGHT way round, Donna showed zero self-restraint and bought everything, photos and video, this could possibly have been because she was shaking so much she pressed the wrong button on the screen...

We made it back to Queenstown and were really pleased to discover it was the first night of the Winterfest with fireworks, cinammon doughnuts and more mulled wine. After which, Donna felt the need to go out as she was still buzzing from her jump and Laura and Jules deciding they needed an early night as they needed the rest before their sensibly timed 9am bungy jump...

All of us got up early, Donna, Charlotte and Totes in a photographer capacity and this time, Laura and Jules as the jumpers. It was Donna's turn to feel nervous as Laura had done a great job filming her jump, she felt the pressure to do the same. We arrived at the freezing cold Karawa Bridge first thing and Laura was also thrilled to be weighed next to Jules, who weighs as much as a bag full of air. She was not happy to weigh less than Donna (but continued to eat pies for breakfast for the rest of her time in New Zealand). Donna, Charlotte and Totes took up their position at the side to get the best pictures leaving Laura and Jules to be strapped up alone. Having watched the girl before them jump feet first - a big no no when you're attached by your ankles, Laura and Jules were thrilled that they had spent so much time practising their bungy jump whilst drunk, insisiting they would not do this. Neither of them were thrilled to learn that the person attaching them was a trainee, but Laura suddenly felt confident when she realised it was Donna's guy training him and that he recognised her. This bungy jump isn't such a conveyor belt, so unfortunately for Laura and Jules, there was time for jokes. They made their way to the edge, Laura convinced that her harness had loosened and insisting it was double checked. The trainee then told them that it would be 5 4 3 2 1 bungy. They were not happy about this having spent hours practising 1 2 3 bungy, confident this would be how they would do it. All this time, Jules was still clinging on to the bridge and was told that she needed to remove her hands. Donna, at the bottom, could hear all the numbers happening on the bridge and was increasingly nervous that she would miss the actual jump. Finally ready, Laura and Jules counting down, annoyed at the random numbers the two staff members were shouting at them. After much hesitation they finally jumped and had an emotional hug at the bottom.

Now everyone was buzzing, so we head back to town, just in time for the Winterfest street carnival. Laura and Charlotte ran around like mad men trying to get pictures with every character in sight, Laura was thrilled to meet Ronald McDonald for the first time in her life. Funnily enough, the only picture the other girls got involved with was with a fireman. After this we went to investigate luging, but decided that following all the photo package purchases we'd made from the bungy jumps, we didn't go as we should probably save money...unfortunately we were left with Charlotte and Totes, and this was not possible. We all spotted a Kiwi Sanctuary and decided we'd see how cheap it was, before going in to waste time. Charlotte thought she was being subtle, when the ticket lady's head was turned, to force us through the doors without puchasing a ticket. Having spent approximately ten minutes walking round discussing how shit it was and noting all the cages with broken fences and after walking out of an incredibly boring Kiwi feeding, we decided to leave. Unsurprisingly, the ticket lady caught us on the way out telling us that we had to buy a ticket, costing approximately ten dollars more than luging would have. Luckily she gave us a student discount and we saved about 2 pounds. Laura would not stop reminding Charlotte that she owed us money, which was never repayed and attempted to reclaim payment in kind by stealing Charlotte's Blackberry cover. She noticed and stole it back before we left much to Laura's dismay.

That night was another heavy Queenstown night at Winnie's, ending of course, with a Fergburger. The next day, we were all up stupidly early to head to Milford Sound on a day trip. It was stunning and the tour guide was hilarious and resulting in both of us confessing that the Maori accent is by far our favourite in the world. On our boat trip, we had an amazing buffet lunch included and were both understandably furious when an entire Indian family pushed in front of us, deciding to push in front of them on both sides of the buffet. We later discovered the second half of it was their own private buffet and it was in fact us who had pushed in front of them stealing their food. The dahl was lovely. We were both ecstatic to see huge dolphins following our boat the whole way. One of the highlights was a waterfall which had us all convinced that we would crash into as we seemed to be edging towards it disturbingly fast, and with us being at the front of the boat, managing to all get soaked. Halfway through, we went down to an underwater observatory which just made us sad that we couldn't go diving, although Donna wasn't too unhappy given that the water was freezing. The journey back was very entertaining, we know that Charlotte will not be laughing when she reads this, but Luke had saved her purse earlier in the day without her realising (which we all knew) and was frustrated that she still hadn't realised it was gone. When she was freaking out, none of us were too sympathetic with Laura delcaring over Charlotte's laughter that it really wasn't a funny situation, and reminding her that she still owed us money for the Kiwi fiasco...she would not be let off. Eventually she went to ask a member of staff and we used the opportunity to take a picture of Luke and her purse on her camera, telling her on her return that she should look at the pictures from the day to cheer herself up...needless to say after the initial relief, she was not impressed. That night, we had a goodbye meal with Jules. picking three new Fergburgers to split, which was fantastic. We then decided to stay up until 2am to watch England Vs. Germany, what an error. Laura was thrilled the next morning when she was told that she inadvertently did the right thing by not getting up from her 'nap' and missing the whole thing.

We had to be up early the next morning to get our bus to Christchurch with the London boys....the official end of the family. A tragic feeling...and we still miss them terribly.

Posted by noodz4loz 01:16 Archived in New Zealand Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

New Zealand: The Family

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View Babez on Round the World Tour 2010 on noodz4loz's travel map.

We arrived in Christchurch with absolutely no warm clothes whatsoever, which was marvellous considering it was midnight, approximately 5 degrees and pissing it down with rain. Luckily our hostel wasn't too far and the next day was a lot brighter. We had been warned that Christchurch was dull so were thrilled that we had two days to fill before our Kiwi Experience started. However, we must be a bit dull as well as we really enjoyed our time there. Almost as soon as we left our hostel the next day, we were told that we were 'pretty fine' by two 10-year olds on bikes (and we actually mean children this time). To make ourselves feel at home, we went for Thai for our first lunch and then stumbled across possibly the best charity shop in the world. Laura could barely contain her glee as she ran around piling on jumpers keen not to miss anything. Donna had to work hard dragging her away from the kimono section, the children's section and the $5 sock section. We narrowed ourselves down to three warm jumpers and a scarf each and thoroughly entertained the lady working there by trying everything on at least twice, leaving already wearing almost everything we had bought. Our puchases included some fantastic matching lumberjack jackets which we have since decided will not be staying in NZ as per the original plan but travelling the world with us.

After cooking another amazing feast for ourselves, we stumbled across free beer and pizza in our hostel. We were thrilled, especially when we were asked to keep the 'party table' free, apparently we were the only ones who did want to party anyway. After a messy night at Base, we went for drunken munchies at McDonalds only to bump into Medhi from Fraser Island. Laura however was convinced that he was in fact Vincent, the only other French guy we've met on our travels and both Donna and Medhi had to work hard to convince Laura otherwise. Photos have suggested that Laura pranced the whole way home choosing to swing herself around any large pole she could find.

The following day, we went to the Botanical Gardens, as always, and Donna forcing Laura to go and investigate the punting claiming that she could almost definitely do it better than the professionals we could see. We then went in search of 'Science Alive!'. After a ridiculously long walk, we were told that it closed in an hour and it probably wasn't worth going in, much to Laura's disappointment after she discovered there was glow in the dark miniature golf. Since then, she's been desparately trying to find a way to spend an extra day in Christchurch so we could go back. Much to her dismay, this did not happen. That evening we were led to a tiny bar off a side street with our hostel for the best free barbeque we've experienced. The bar was run by a hilarious Asian family who spent all night on the karaoke. We did not join in.

We were up bright and early the next day for our first Kiwi Experience bus. Nervous about the group after Fraser Island, we kept reminding ourselves that we could always stay an extra day to get another bus if they were boring. How wrong we were. What followed was a truly incredible couple of weeks with 'the family'. Once on board, clueless about how the Kiwi Experience works, we were told that we would be going to Kaikoura first. The available activities were whale watching, dolphin watching, dolphin swimming and seal watching. We decided that having seen dolphins in Australia, we would go for the whale watching. Laura asked Donna in jest, how annoyed she would be if she really badly wanted to do the seal watching, considering we were only in Kaikoura for a day and could only do one. Donna replied that if she really wanted to do that, of course they could, although she would probably recommend seeing the seals in Norfolk instead. The sign-up sheet got to us and we were greeted by a $160 price tag for the whale watching. Seals were free. We have now seen more seals than we ever need to and Laura will not be making the trip in Norfolk. She was however thrilled to see one throw up right in front of her...and less keen to see that the seal was probably slowly knocking on death's door. Donna was happy to watch the seals from the safe space on the bench when Lozzy Dolittle ran off to take a picture of a massive group of seals. She soon ran back fearing death by seal as one was hidden in a bush behind and screamed at her to piss off.

That evening there was a pub quiz, which no one in our room was going to...we were not feeling hopeful about the group. We went for a fish and chip dinner and stumbled across some people from our bus, one of them a really friendly guy called Luke we had already spoken to at our pie stop earlier. This is where we met Julie, an essential member of the family, soon to be Laura's bungy buddy. We all went off to the pub quiz run by Pommie Mike and the Lucious Lisa and were soon in a team called the Spunky Whales and Luke confessing that he found it hard not to remember we were not the lads from London and quickly shattering our illusions that he was a nice boy, breaking the ice and allowing the true Laura to emerge. Pommie Mike was a raging pervert, and despite his 40-something years could not give up trying it on with an 18-year old birthday girl. May we add that there was a round specifically dedicated in Pommie Mike's sex life.

On the next bus, Luke dragged us to the back instantly solidifying our place as the cool loud kids on the bus. Our next stop was at a brewery in Nelson for wine and schnapps tasting. We were thrilled that it only cost $2, and we managed to get a free glass of wine when the woman in the shop saw us eyeing up glasses that had not been finished by other members of the group. Laura also bagged herself a free t-shirt by whining until it was hers and we didn't pay for the shots. We all left in high spirits. This all changed once we arrived at Nelson and quickly started on the walk to the Centre of New Zealand with the rest of the family. You'd think after Bokor we would be used to uphill but all it has done is convince us we never want to go anywhere with an incline again. We were not impressed by the walk to the centre. The two new members of the family, Totes and Charlotte, ran off ahead and weren't keen to be in any of our pictures. On the way down we confessed we didn't like them...we did already warn you about this girls if you're reading, we adore you now. Charlotte has even made it onto Laura's top five travelling buddies (Totes didn't), yes she is giggling away at this now. In typical Kiwi Experience style, once we arrived at the hostel we were told about a dinner deal which was too good to resist. Everyone in the family agreed and we guiltily ate our way through a lamb roast dinner and chocolate cake pudding. For Laura this also included an entire bowl of seafood chowder as she couldn't bear to see it go to waste.

Our next stop was Westport, if AIDS was a town, Westport would be it. Even the guidebook described it as dingy. Indeed it was. Most people went off to do activites (again costing them around $5000 each) while we along with Dave indulged in a free beer tasting. This was the night of the first family dinner cooked by Dave and Jules and was amazing. We all then went to Steve, our bus driver's house, to watch two rugby games. During the game we first got chatting to the London boys with Laura introducing herself to Clarky by trying to pickpocket him which he did not enjoy causing him to declare that he would hit a woman. Undeterred Laura continued and was soon labelled Jo Brand on account of her dry emotionless sense of humour. This name has stuck.

The next day we stopped off at Cape Foul Wind for a coastal walk, Steve would meet us down the road with the bus. It was only half an hour, but felt like the longest walk of our lives. Once we got back to the bus, not a single part of our bodies were dry including the only jeans we'd brought with us and most of our jumpers even down to Laura's underwear. What followed was a massive changing session on the bus as everyone struggled our of their wet clothes and into anything dry they could find. We were not pleased with Steve who seemed to find the entire situation hilarious but were pleased as we had been told we would be staying in a hotel that night...plenty of opportunity to dry our clothes. Again, another hilarious joke on Steve's part. We were staying in the infamous Poo Pub which was dedicated to the Kiwi Experience. The rooms were very smelly cabins and the showers were outside. It is also literally in the middle of nowhere. All there was to do was to get drunk especially considering the weather and everyone got on it at 5pm. The only good thing was the dinner we got served, steak and venison stew...absolutely amazing. The theme of our fancy dress party was 'tight and bright'...everyone (the cool kids of course) made a fantastic effort and outfits included a giant babygrow, teenage mutant ninja turtle, a lot of men dressed as women, a guy in just an apron and a male fairy. This prompted the names babygrow, turtle and apron to stick, we've only just learned their proper names. Drunkeness and stupid games ensued. When we were finally thrown out of the pub and were walking back to our dorm we found the London boys running out of their room screaming as Charlotte and Luke who had disappeared 'to get an apple' were getting intimate in their room. When we got back to our room, a very drunken Dave, who had unsuccessfully tried it on with any female in sight (aging barmaid included), angrily demanded of us and Julie 'why is it that girls only go for bad boys?'. We then listed all our boyfriends declaring them all to be lovely (apart from Christian).

The next day we went to Franz Josef where we would be doing our glacier hike. By this point it felt as if we'd all know each other for years. We took full advantage over the next two days of the hostel's free 20 person hot tub although both of us following the previous night steered clear of any seat next to Dave which Julie noticed and found hilarious. We had been warned in Sydney that we would not be able to handle the glacier hike after our complaints about Cambodia and so were a little worried. Walking up to the glacier, we were told that our very big group would be spilt into 4 smaller groups based on ability. The girls saw ourselves as either group 2- or 3+ and decided to go into group 2. Somehow Julie ended up in group 1 with the boys as she was sharing lunch with Luke and refused to leave and it became clear that group 1 were short of 4 people. Everyone suddenly looked at us, Totes and Charlotte, a perfect group of four. Suddenly we found ourselves thrust into group one, which we soon labelled as 'Team Extreme' and petrified we moved on. We don't mean to brag, but we were amazing and found that we couldn't even compare it to Cambodia which is the one time we have not exaggerated about how hard it was. We nearly didn't make it out though when Laura almost accidentally took the wrond turning in an ice cave trying to squeeze us through a crack suitable in size only for a severely premature baby instead of the neatly carved ice steps out of the cave to her right. Donna nearly fell over laughing witnessing the confused expression on Laura's face as she declared there was no way they could get through there.

Next stop was Wanaka. As we arrived Steve informed the group that the best thing to do in the day would be to watch the dolphin feeding at half 5 or go to the cinema which was pretty special. Everyone wanted to go and see a later film, which we couldn't do as we had made plans to meet Kat from diving and Clea, Lara's sister. We decided that we didn't have time to see the dolphins but were keen to go to the cinema, so saw a different earlier film with Julie. We absolutely loved it, and the cinema. We started off with a lovely bottle of red wine which we took in to the one single screen, sat on the sofas they had which filled the room and had home made cookies during the interval. The New Zealand film we saw was called Boy and was absolutely hilarious despite the fact that Laura got told off for getting her phone out before the film had even started, she would like to add. We were thrilled when we got back to the hostel to find out that Steve had lied about the dolphins and there was in fact no dophin feeding time whatsoever. Thanks again Steve. We had a great evening, Clea somehow getting Laura free shots to the point where she couldn't do anymore. It was so nice to see our friends although we were sad that Martin was working and so couldn't make it. Donna did her best to persuade Kat to join her in a dive master next year...fingers crossed! We also stayed up for a massively disappointing England game...apparently a theme for New Zealand.

The following morning was Puzzleworld, we were all massively excited, it was so much fun, although we recommend that you only do the maze if you have plenty of time. We strolled in as Charlotte and Totes were leaving, warning us not to bother, it was actually quite hard to get out. Undeterred, we pressed on, certain that we were better than them and would be able to complete the maze. We were wrong, and couldn't even see how to cheat our way out...including Laura attempting to climb over a fence far too tall for her midget legs. Eventually we made it out, freezing and defeated. We soon got to Queenstown, by far the best stop of the whole trip.

On the way we stopped off at the bungy centre so that everyone could pay for their bungy jumps. At the bungy centre was the Karawau bridge - the site of the first ever bungy jump. A few of the guys on our bus were doing it right then so we stayed to watch. From the top of the bridge, Laura declared that it wasn't as scary as she'd thought it would be, and before she knew it had signed up and paid (non-refundable) for a tandem bungy with Julie. Donna was amazed as Laura had spent the whole trip claiming that she couldn't think of anything worse than doing a bungy jump.

That night was our bus night out and was hideously messy. It began with the naming and shaming of everyone's stupid moments from the trip so far. We will not be writing down what ours are. It ended with an announcement that for ten minutes, Jagerbombs would be only $5. We immediately bought three each. Laura, who can never be trusted in these situations, was then confronted by Julie who demanded why we had not waited for her. Laura's response was to buy another for each of us...which meant 4 jagerbombs in 5 minutes. Excellent. Somehow, Laura ended up signing herself up for the horizontal bungy run with Chalky where she had to down a glass of orange juice in the hope of winning a canyon swing...they lost to some Irish people. We moved on to World Bar where they serve shots in teapots and hand you shotglasses. Again Laura accidentally ended up ordering one each for us rather than one. While dancing, Laura complained that it stank of sick which was soon explained by Donna as she pointed behind Laura to a massive puddle of sick...lovely. We all avoided it by going upstairs to play some stupid and completely unhygenic drinking games. Following that, Dave carried Laura on his shoulders while she squealed like a little girl across the road to Fergburger, a truly magical place, we ended up having one a day...these burgers are as big as your face and we miss them desparately, almost as much as the family.

Posted by noodz4loz 23:50 Archived in New Zealand Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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