Looking for tickets or info for the Get Happy Tour 2018 featuring Bowling for Soup, Army of Freshmen and The Aquabats?

This domain name was used for the Get Happy Tour back in its original run around 10 years ago, when I used to do work for BFS and AOF. However, for the past 5 years it has been used for my travel blog as I never thought we would have another Get Happy Tour and I didn't want it to go to waste.

But as a favour to two bands who have done a lot for me over the years, and so you don't miss out, ticket info is:
O2 Presale: 10am on 25 September
General Onsale: 10am on 27 September.

Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk and bowlingforsoup.com
 


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Posts Tagged ‘Flight’

Arriving home after a long trip

February 16th, 2012 No comments

I’m now back home after 3 weeks of long and exhausting travel days but also of many, many new experiences and new friends. This has been one of the most fulfilling trips I’ve ever been on even if it did end with three back to back flights.

My overnight flight from Panama yesterday went well. I caught up on a bit of sleep but could have done with a bit more, however it gave me a chance to catch up on my reading. I was impressed with the service on the flight – drinks came round all the way through the night at regular intervals to make up for the fact that all liquids were confiscated at the gate including ones we bought in the terminal and the staff spoke at least 3 languages which puts me to shame. The plane landed in Amsterdam on time and after proceeding through security I transferred over to my KLM Cityhopper flight back to Heathrow.

As I was on a small plane my bags came through by the time I made it through passport control and I didn’t get stopped at customs so it was one of the quickest arrivals at Heathrow I’ve ever had. I grabbed a quick coffee at Costa before catching the tube back to St Pancras ready for my train back home – the whole journey back was cold, wet and windy which is the stereotypical welcome back to The UK but I’m glad there’s no snow here like during the cold spell I read about while in Honduras.

I’m completely exhausted now so will be going to sleep shortly but I’ve had so many experiences and made so many new friends along the way I’ll have these memories with me for a very long time so it has all been worth it.

There weren’t really any bad points of the trip either – sure things were a little disorganised at time but things never run to schedule in Central America and Mena did a great job of making sure we were safe and that we got where we needed to go. If I had to pick a bad point I’d say the only one I can think of is the fact that some of the team who had been travelling since Mexico never really tried to let us integrate with their half of the team meaning that after a 17 night trip I still don’t know what some of their names were. However this didn’t cause any problems and didn’t stop me from having a good time or making friends – Team Breakaway ended up being far too awesome anyway and I’m happy to have become friends with them!

Central America is a destination I’ve wanted to go to for many years and it was one that didn’t disappoint me as I’m sure you’ll have noticed by the tone of this blog.

I want to go back!

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Last night in Costa Rica and the flight home

February 15th, 2012 1 comment
Pre-drinks with a big bottle

Kelly pre-drinking before we all hit the town in San Jose last night

Me and Guido

This is me and Guido my room mate

So last night was definitely eventful but I had a great time and it was a great way to finish what has been an amazing trip.

The night started out at a local Karaoke bar in town which had a great atmosphere and was really cheap – I think I only paid the equivalent of $5 for 3 vodka & cokes! I’m not much of a karaoke person but after a few drinks I was soon joining in with Mena and Kelly while they sang Bon Jovi songs. This was much to the horror of the couples in the bar who were busy trying to sing love songs to each other due to the fact it was Valentines Day yesterday but we were only in the bar an hour or so before moving. The other Intrepid guide recommended we checked out the bar up at the University of Costa Rica called Terra U so we all jumped in taxis and made our way out to the suburb of San Pedro.

I loved the atmosphere at Terra U and I’m not much of a club person but it had a mix of everything – nightclub, bar, disco, sports bar, TV lounge and terrace all in one with the atmosphere and liveliness of a University all in a great climate. The drinks were much more expensive and I think I paid as much per drink there as I did for all of my drinks at the Karaoke place but I’m glad I decided to carry on there with the group rather than head back to the hostel. I must say that a University bar on Valentine’s Day is quite a frustrating place to be when single but I wish we had gone straight there. We probably stayed there for an hour or two before starting to head back to the hostel in groups, of which I was in one of the first with Mena, somebody from the other Intrepid group and Miriam. We chatted over whatever drinks of ours were left in the fridge before heading back to our respective rooms but I didn’t sleep much last night for a few reasons.

Ice overload

They seemed to like giving us ice at the Karaoke Bar

Tequilla shots

One of the other Intrepid group had her birthday so it was Tequilla time

Me and Kelly

Me and Kelly singing Bon Jovi songs in the Karaoke bar

Me, Mena and Kelly

Me, Kelly and Mena in the Karaoke Bar last night

Terra U

Me, Gina, Kelly (& Guido) in Terra U - the bar at the University of San Jose

This morning I relaxed in the hostel partly to recover from last night and partly due to the fact I would have a lot of travelling ahead. I got up early to say goodbye to Gina who is travelling on to Panama on the next leg of the trip with Intrepid and then finished my packing while waiting for the others to get up. I had a transfer booked for lunchtime; I decided to book a transfer through the hostel rather than catch the bus like Mena so we just chatted for a bit until it was my time to head to the airport.

The lady that transferred me to the airport was one of the hostel worker and came from Colombia. We chatter for a bit during the transfer about our respective travel experiences and about what I did while in Central America and it helped pass the time as the airport is quite a way out of the city.

Hostel in San Jose

This is one of the social areas in our hostel

I checked in online yesterday before heading out into the city so When I arrived at the airport I paid my $28 departure tax before collecting the boarding passes from the bag drop desk – they gave me the option to go on an earlier flight but I decided to stick with my original flight due to the fact I had a seat with extra leg room booked. When I received my boarding pass I found out they had changed my seat but they had put me in an exit row which was even better as I have long legs so every little helps. Then it was time to proceed through security to grab some lunch and then relax watching the airport activity before my flight.

My COPA Airlines flight to Panama City was short and sweet but enjoyable. I read in the safety information leaflet in front of me that you are supposed to be able to speak fluent Spanish to be able to sit in the exit row for safety reasons but the flight attendant gave us the instructions in English and said she knew she could count on us if there were any problems. I’m glad that she felt she could trust me as I was the only person on my side of the plane at the over-wing exit, while there were two Americans on the other side of the aisle. COPA seem a fairly good airline in terms of service, comfort and quality but that was the only flight I’ve ever been on.

San Jose Airport

A view of San Jose airport while waiting to board my plane

Panama City Airport

Waiting to board my KLM flight in Panama City

I’m now in Panama City airport waiting for my flight to Amsterdam where I will catch my connecting flight to London to finish my trip. I was worried I wouldn’t make my connection on time but it looks like this flight is going to be delayed, and the inbound flight arrived right next to my ongoing one, so in the end I had plenty of time. It’s an overnight flight so hopefully it’ll give me a chance to catch up on sleep.

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Helsinki Day 1 – Travelling

September 17th, 2009 No comments

A very early start today to pick my friend George up from her house in Canterbury before travelling to Gatwick for our flight to Helsinki with Easyjet.

The journey to Gatwick was quite quick and when we arrived at the car park it didn’t take long for a bus to arrive to take us to the airport. We had already checked in online so went straight through passport control but got stopped by security – they were checking quite a lot of people today. Not quite sure why my bag got picked maybe it was a random sample or maybe they were having problems with the machines.

Icky at Gatwick Airport with our plane

Icky at Gatwick Airport with our plane

Time for a coffee at Nero before walking to our plane. Boarding was a little late and the scrum for the plane was as usual but we managed to get an exit row which was great – I like extra leg room due to my long legs! The flight was uneventful and we didn’t see much due to cloud cover but we arrived in Helsinki on time. We took the local bus into the city and it went through all the housing estates on the way before arriving at the central train station 30 minutes later.

Me at Helsinki Harbour

Me at Helsinki Harbour

It was a little early to check in so we took a slow walk to the Eurohostel and took in some sights on the way such as the Orthodox Cathedral, Marina and Presidential Palace.

Helsinki Harbour

Helsinki Harbour

Helsinki Orthodox Cathedral

Helsinki Orthodox Cathedral

A photo of our room at the hostel

A photo of our room at the hostel

Another view of our room

Another view of our room

The third member of our group, Anna, was arriving another day but we let them know this so she could check in when she arrived. After checking in and travelling up a very questionable lift to our room we relaxed for a bit before randomly wandering the city to take in some more of the sights.

We are both quite tired and getting used to the cold so will have an early night ready for the next few days.

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Africa Day 18 – Crazy Airport Security

September 7th, 2009 No comments

Today I got up at 5am, had a quick shower and checked out before saying goodbye to people that were leaving at the same time. I took my taxi to the airport and it was really quick with no detours unlike on the way in. My driver asked for less money than on the way out but asked me to pay it before we got to the airport otherwise if the police saw it they would have asked for some.

Security at Nairobi airport was intense. I had my ticket checked, went through a metal detector and had my bags scanned before even getting into the terminal. Then after checking in I went through two levels of passport control before getting to the departure lounge. I shopped for a while before going to the gate that had been called where I found even more security. I had my passport and boarding pass checked before walking through a metal detector and having my bags scanned again. I went to put my belt back on but was told not to as there was another set of checks – where my passport was checked, I walked though ANOTHER metal detector and had my bags scanned AGAIN before getting to the departure gate.

All of this made you feel safe but did feel excessive.

The flight back was quite nice. I requested a seat on the aisle and I’m planning to watch some movies before getting some sleep. I’m due to arrive at Heathrow this afternoon where I will be met by my family to be driven back home.

Our tour group in Eldoret Hospital visiting Janneke

Our tour group in Eldoret Hospital visiting Janneke

Overall I had an amazing time in Africa. The highlight was of course trekking with the endangered Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda, and being grabbed by one of them, but I saw and did so many great things. Lovely scenery, lovely people, great new friends and almost 2000 amazing photos! Al and Jono were awesome tour staff and it’s almost impossible to say how great Den was – awesome chef and great guy too. I miss his food already.

There are so many places I want to see in the world but every time I go to Africa (real Africa not the bit up north) I feel home. Africa is definitely on my list of possibilities for next year and if I do go I’ll seriously consider Dragoman again!

Here’s a small map of our route for future reference – courtesy of the Dragoman website.

Tour map of Dragoman trip ZNN159

Tour map of Dragoman trip ZNN159

Dragoman Logo

Dragoman Logo

Ps: I know I wrote a lot here – sorry about that – most of the length is photos anyway. The blog does go onto two pages… and if you want to just read stuff from this trip click on “2009 Africa” in the categories menu to the right and the most recently dated page of the two will be shown.

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Africa Day 2 – Nairobi

August 22nd, 2009 No comments

After arriving at Nairobi I changed some money before taking a taxi to our starting poing, the Kivi Milimani Hotel, which cost around 2000 KSh. When I arrived at the hotel it was still only 730am but there was already somebody else from my tour checking in. She had travelled on the same flight so it’s a shame we didn’t car-share to save money. There was a problem with check-in and the names were mixed up – they had me on the list as Scotte Bernadette, which caused a few delays, but we were all eventually able to check in.

I had a quick shower and a quick nap before being woken up by Leon, who had been assigned as my room mate. After chatting for a bit we decided to head into town so got a taxi from the hotel into the city which cost 400KSh.

Nairobi - KCC

Nairobi – KCC

We wandered around the city for a while seeing the Kenyatta Conference Centre, Maasai Market with all the touts and various shops but didn’t really see anything we wanted to buy. We looked for somewhere to eat or find a coffee and found a branch of Steers, which is like the holy grail for me. I had my usual chips with special seasoning as well as a coffee before getting a taxi back to the hotel with Leon. Nairobi seems a good city to wander around but you need a taxi to explore most places unless they’re in the city centre or you’ll get lots of people begging or touting for business.

Nairobi

Nairobi

This evening we met in the hotel lobby for the group welcome meeting before being taken to a small meeting room in the hotel where we met one of our drivers and introduced ourselves to the rest of the group. We weren’t able to meet the other staff members as Jono was fixing the truck and Den was shopping for supplies so after paying our $1120 kitty contribution we went back to the bar for drinks. It’ll be an early night tonight as we need to be up at 5am to meet at our truck at 6.

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Categories: 2009 East Africa Tags: , , ,

Back from Australia

June 28th, 2007 No comments

I made it back to the UK but I had a really great time in Australia and I miss it already. Overall the people were great and I saw and did so many great things. The same with Singapore and although it was rather hot it was a really nice place.

On my last day in Sydney I left the hotel early to take some last minute photos before my 9am tour of the Sydney Opera House. I walked down past BridgeClimb to the area near the observatory, then down to Circular Quay to take some photos before collecting my ticket for the Opera House tour and leaving my bag in their baggage drop. This was perfect timing as there wasn’t much else I could do in the few hours I had spare and if I booked online in advance for an early tour it was less than half price!

Opera House

Opera House

The tour showed us all around the public areas of the Opera House including the lobbies, lookouts and concert halls. For copyright reasons we weren’t able to take photos inside the concert halls but were able to in the other public areas. Our guide, Troy, told us about the history of the building as well as the construction and also telling us who has played there. Something I was surprised at was Foo Fighters recently played a concert here – I guess I just didn’t associate it with anything other than Opera.

Opera House

Opera House

Opera House

Opera House

Me and the Opera House

Me and the Opera House

After the tour it was back to the hotel for a last minute freshen-up before checking out, leaving my bags with reception and going out for some more last minute photos. I went up the glass elevator to the walkway behind circular quay and there were some fantastic views and I don’t know why no guide books recommend it – if it wasn’t for the BridgeClimb guide I would never have known about it. After coming down I spent the last of my money on a CD of an Aboriginal musician that was playing along the quayside. Apparently he’s the one in all the adverts for Australia playing didgeridoo on top of the Harbour Bridge and was also the Aborigine that came out of the desert in that Priscilla Queen of the Desert movie. Random – but I shall have to watch it some time.

Circular Quay

Circular Quay

Musicians

Musicians

I went back to the hotel and collected my bags from the hotel (the woman that brought them was really short and thin I thought it was going to break her back) before waiting for my minibus to the Airport. I almost missed it as he parked on the other side of the road and down a bit so the scaffolding around the hotel was blocking my view but luckily I noticed him in time.

My flight was on time which was just as well as it would take me 23 hours to get back to the UK including the stopover in Thailand. We were there two hours and although we never left the airport I still class myself as having been there as we touched down on their soil. We had to go out into the departure lounge, come back through security and then re-board the plane. There was this woman from the UK that asked a cleaner where the flight to London was. He didn’t speak English so she said “Plane… London… where” loudly as if he would suddenly understand and it’s no wonder British people have a bad reputation.

Bangkok Airport

Bangkok Airport

Apparently I have lost weight these past couple of weeks too – my trousers almost fell down after taking my belt off to go through security but I guess that’s a good thing.

The rest of the flight was smooth too, except we had to rush to make our window over Afghanistan but we made it back to the UK on time where I met my Dad in Starbucks for a coffee before returning home. I was glad of the Starbucks after that flight. I had a few before I left the UK too as I didn’t think I’d see any more – but my hotel in Sydney was opposite one so I had some then.

I had a great time, and hope to return to this part of the world again soon.

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Great Barrier Reef

June 21st, 2007 No comments

My time in Cairns is over, and I’m now in Brisbane. Cairns was a pretty touristy city but luckily my hotel was far enough out to let me experience more of the traditional Queensland than most people do. At least I saw the Great Barrier Reef though which is the highlight of any visit to Queensland and no trip to Cairns can be complete without a visit out to dive or snorkel it.

The day after my long tour through the rainforest I was picked up in the morning by Quicksilver for the short ride north along the coast to Port Douglas. After arriving we went through the security procedures for the Quicksilver vessel (we had to look into a camera and say our name) and then we could go on board.

Quicksilver vessel

Quicksilver vessel

Port Douglas

Port Douglas

Our destination was a permanent Quicksilver pontoon about 40 miles off the coast although the sailing time was only about an hour as the vessel was a high-speed catamaran. I thought a permanent, fully serviced pontoon was the easy option for my first time in the area but next time I’ll probably use a smaller operator who goes different places each time as the sheer number of people that Quicksilver caters for is damaging the reef – mainly through sun lotion and other creams.

The Pontoon

The Pontoon

Snorkelling

Snorkeling

A FISH

A FISH

After arriving at the pontoon I waited for lunch to be served and then had about 2 hours of snorkeling time which was more than enough as I was travelling on my own. I took a couple of disposable cameras and used up all of the photos on them – I’ll see if I can scan them and upload them later. There were plenty of fish of all different kinds – small and large. My mission for the day was to find a clownfish so I could say I’ve seen Nemo in his natural habitat. I had almost given up when I saw one on the way back to the pontoon right at the end of my time on the reef. He was only tiny but I managed to get a photo.

I got back onto the pontoon and got dressed before checking out the official photos that had been taken throughout the day. I knew a couple of me had been so bought them – expensive for what they were but they were a good souvenir. They were ready for us when we arrived back in Port Douglas and came out quite well.

On the way back I sat next to this family from Tasmania. I got talking to them after we went over a big wave just after the Grandmother said the ride was nice and smooth. We ended up talking most of the way back and they were a really nice family. The mother squashed past me once and we went over a wave – she fell onto my lap and said “ooo… you’re cofortable. Thanks”. The daughter was polite too and said sorry every time she had to come past me. Nice people – glad to have met them.

We then made our way back to Cairns where I relaxed at the hotel for the evening.

Told you it was fast!

Told you it was fast!

Yesterday was my last full day in Cairns so I decided to make the most of it and see all of the things I wanted to see but hadn’t had a chance to so far. Firstly I bought breakfast at the hotel then wandered up the road to the Centenary Lakes. A small attraction but they were inside the front cover of my guide book and looked nice so wanted to see them. I highly recommend walking through the lakes area if you find yourself in this part of Cairns – there is a lovely rainforest boardwalk that you can wander along and loads of great photo spots. If it’s summer you can also relax with a barbecue or maybe take one of the walks up the hillside overlooking the city. I spent some time exploring the area and taking photos before walking back to the hotel to get the bus into the city again. I had lunch on the seafront in the city (pizza again), did last minute shopping in the touristy bit of the city and finally explored around the marina area before getting the bus back to the hotel to relax for the evening.

Walking to Centenary Lakes

Walking to Centenary Lakes

Centenary Lakes

Centenary Lakes

Rainforest Boardwalk

Rainforest Boardwalk

Cairns

Cairns

Cairns

Cairns

This morning I got up early and took some photos around the hotel before my bag was collected and taken to the reception ready for the complimentary minibus back to the airport. I only had one bag and it wasn’t heavy but I needed to make sure I was up for my flight so used it as more of a wake-up service than a bag-collection service. I was taken to the airport quite early as they wanted to combine me with somebody else that was leaving at a similar time. I checked in when I arrived but had to wait quite a while in the departure lounge before my flight. It’s a small airport but I picked up a few last minute souvenirs.

My hotel

My hotel

Hotel Pool

Hotel Pool

Brisbane is still in Queensland but the state is huge and the flight was 2 hours which is almost as long as from London to Rome! The transfer from Brisbane airport to my hotel (The Mercure) was smooth and there was somebody waiting for me at the airport. I arrived at the hotel mid-afternoon and went out to explore the city, had dinner and took plenty of photos. While walking along the riverbank I received a phone call from somebody at my University who was trying to get me to work for them for a few months. I accepted, but declined the offer of doing a doctorate with them – don’t think it would be for me. It’s strange the things that happen when you travel.

Brisbane

Brisbane

Tomorrow I’m off to Australia Zoo which was made famous by Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin before his death. It looks like a nice place so can’t wait and it’s one of the things that made me decide to visit Brisbane and Australia as a whole!

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Touring has been keeping me busy

June 18th, 2007 No comments

I’m in Australia! Today I went on a really long tour that look almost 8 hours and we saw everything in the area around Cairns, but that’s not all I’ve been doing.

After my last post I decided I had to get new shoes on my last day in Singapore as after disintegrating my old ones were hurting my feet too much. First I sat down for breakfast which was only a simple buffet but consisted of things I wouldn’t have thought about for breakfast normally – chicken sausages, rice etc. It was nice to just relax in the morning sun with a filling breakfast and orange juice before walking a few minutes down to the shopping centre. It was a fairly small shopping centre but had a few outdoors shops with good walking shoes in. I figured at least these would survive the heat!

The rest of that day was mainly spent relaxing, walking around the area near the hotel and watching a bit of TV. I had been watching all of the Jurassic Park films which had been on TV every night since arriving but decided to sample some Asian programming before heading off to Australia. One thing I watched was this weird family swap show with a difference – they swapped kids from different backgrounds (Malaysian and Indonesian in this case) to let them experience new things and even though it’s not my sort of show I really enjoyed it.

Later in the day I checked out of the hotel and transferred to Changi Airport for my late evening flight to Cairns via Darwin. The flight itself was smooth. They served an Asian Curry with rice for dinner and was good considering it was airline food! We stopped at Darwin in the early hours of the morning to refuel the plane and let a few passengers off although most of us were continuing to Cairns so were kept in a transit lounge with a cafe while all this took place. I relaxed with a mocha before re-boarding the plane.

Sunrise over the Australian Outback was amazing. Such lovely scenery it’s hard to describe so I’ll just show you with one of the photos I took. I had my iPod on random and it played Avril Lavigne – “Nobody’s Home” at about this point which, while random, added to the atmosphere.

Sunrise

Sunrise

Our flight arrived at 7am into Cairns and after clearing customs I made my way out to the pickup point to wait for my minibus to my hotel – The Cairns Colonial Club. It never turned up though so I made my way there by taxi. Even though it wasn’t even 9am when I arrived they let me check in to my room as they weren’t busy. The service at these hotels has been great so far! After checking in I took the hotel bus into the city to get lunch, explore and take some photos. Lunch was at an Italian restaurant near the beach and after letting my meal sink down I walked along the Cairns Promenade up towards the airport, as recommended by my guide book, before cutting in past the Centenary Lakes towards my hotel. Unfortunately half of the roads weren’t signposted and by the time I found the hotel the heavens had opened and I got soaked, much to the amusement of a group of Aussie teenagers who drove past me. I spent the rest of the evening relaxing in preparation for the long day I knew was ahead of me today.

Cairns Promenade

Cairns Promenade

The sea near Cairns

The sea near Cairns

The next morning I was picked up from the hotel at around 745 by a minibus driver for my tour around the area. After managing to throw loads of money at him while looking for a dollar for the fuel surcharge I got on the minibus and we set off into the rainforest. On the way I got talking to the others and I think everybody else on the minibus was Australian – mainly older people but there was one woman that was there with her daughter who I talked to quite a lot throughout the day.

We saw a LOT of things throughout the day today. We started off by visiting Heale’s Lookout for some good photo opportunities where we were posed the question by our driver “what is the difference between a lookout and an outlook?” (the answer by the way is a lookout is more of a peninsula than an outlook, which is just an area with good views). After the lookout we made our way to Lake Barrine for tea and scones, a nature walk and then a cruise around the crater lake. We were told lots about the area while on the boat and took some good photos including one of a huge snake that was sunbathing on a branch. My first piece of Aussie wildlife!

Heale's Outlook

Heale’s Outlook

Tour Bus

Tour Bus

Lake Barrine

Lake Barrine

Cruise on the lake

Cruise on the lake

Next stop was the Giant Curtain Fig Tree which is a fig tree that was living off of a huge tree that has created an impressive canopy effect. Weird, but a good sight, and it’s one of the most visited tourist locations in the area. Then we made our way to Millaa Millaa Falls which are beautiful and provided great photo opportunities. The falls weren’t as spectacular as they could have been but there haven’t been any heavy rains other for a while so the river wasn’t flowing as fast. Next to Mungali Falls for lunch at this really nice cafe they had there. The food was basic but good quality and I really enjoyed the apple crumble they made – especially how they mix fresh coconut into the crumble topping. I’ll have to try that when I get home. A Kangaroo hopped near our minibus as we were arriving but it was too quick for me to take a photo.

Curtain Fig Tree

Curtain Fig Tree

Me at Millaa Millaa Falls

Me at Millaa Millaa Falls

The falls made me and the woman with her daughter think about Salmon and then about that “You are not a Salmon!” advert. Unfortunately we couldn’t remember what it was so spent quite a while thinking about it… in hysterics most of the time. (Kitkat by the way). After lunch we went to Paronella Park which is a really nice Spanish Castle in the rainforest. There was time for a short tour and free time to explore before our last stop of the day at Babinda Boulders – an area of natural beauty and Aboriginal Myth. Most people were tired so didn’t want to walk it – only me, the woman and her daughter did and I’m glad we did as the experience was really special.

Mungali Falls

Mungali Falls

Paronella Park

Paronella Park

Paronella Park

Paronella Park

Babinda Boulders

Babinda Boulders

The tour then finished back at our hotels in Cairns early this evening , but not before we managed to make the tour guide laugh. He asked if there were any questions and nobody had any so the woman asked him “So, why aren’t we Salmon?” which made everybody burst out laughing. This guide has been the best tour guide I’ve ever had and he was born in London too. I was one of the last drop-offs so had a chance to say goodbye to everybody. They were all really nice people and I was glad to have met them.

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Singapore is warm but nice!

June 15th, 2007 No comments

For the last few days I’ve been in Singapore on the start of my trip to a land down under and I’ve been having a great time. I think I should have extended my stay here by a day to be able to take in either Malaysia or Indonesia, or to explore some more of Singapore that I didn’t see, but I’ve had fun regardless! The people have been so friendly and it’s just a different world to the UK.

On the 13th I made my way up to Heathrow on the Train and Tube via London. It was a bit chaotic getting there with a big rucksack and it was made worse when the tube driver announced we would not be stopping at Terminal 4, forcing us to get off the tube, only to announce “next stop Terminal 4”. We eventually arrived at the airport but were still nice and early. There was nothing to do in the public area of the airport but I checked in my bags nice and early, due to Qantas using the British Airways all-day check-in facility, before haing a long wait for my time to board the plane. I passed the time with 2 meals in Wetherspoon’s and a couple of drinks in Starbucks before saying goodbye to Mum and heading through to departures.

The rest of the day went smoothly – the flight was without a hitch and we arrived at Singapore Changi airport a few minutes early. It was already night time when we arrived but it was still so hot and humid and I was glad the hotel (Quality Hotel, Balastier Road) was air conditioned when I arrived. I had problems getting to my room initially as my swipe card wouldn’t operate the lift but after being told what I was doing wrong I made my way up to relax and unpack in my room. My flight to Cairns is at 10pm and I’m being picked up at 7 so I enquired with reception about keeping the room on a bit later. They said I could keep the room until 6pm and there would be no extra charge which was really nice of them

Yesterday was my first full day in Singapore so I decided to get up early. After breakfast I explored the area around the hotel to see what it was like and acclimatise to the climate. Even at 7am it was really hot and after an hour of walking around, slowly and in the shade a lot of the time, I needed to rest and change my clothes before my tour in the afternoon – the humidity here does take some getting used to!

View from my hotel room

View from my hotel room

Exploring the area

Exploring the area

Exploring the area #2

Exploring the area #2

I was collected from the hotel just after lunch with a few other people from various hotels and taken to a central meeting point. Instead of having all of the coaches travel all over the city they Tour East have minibuses that pick people up from a few hotels at a time then you all meet in the city centre at a cafe with a lot of bus bays outside where you wait for your tours departure time and I found this to be an efficiant system. After getting on the coach we made our way back into the city to our first stop at the Asian Civilisations Museum. We checked out the statue of Raffles outside next to the river before heading into the museum to see various exhibits about Singapore and its history. Our time here wasn’t very long but it was enough to get an overview of the country and learn more about the rich history and culture that have developed over centuries.

Statue of Raffles

Statue of Raffles

After the museum we made our way to the world-famous Raffles hotel which was something I had been looking forward to since booking my trip. Our visit started with a short tour, where we were shown the grounds and told some of the famous guests that had stayed there, before being taken into the cafe for tea and cakes. The cake tasted amazing but was so rich you couldn’t eat a lot. After tea there was time to explore on our own and buy souvenirs in the gift or, as some people decided would be better, to visit the famous Long Bar for a Singapore Sling Cocktail. I wasn’t in the mood for a cocktail so after souvenir shopping I relaxed in the grounds and made a call home.

Raffles Hotel

Raffles Hotel

Inside Raffles

Inside Raffles

Cake at Raffles

Cake at Raffles

Outside Raffles Hotel

Outside Raffles Hotel

Our next activity was a cruise along the river and it was a nice way to see the city, if a little short. We travelled south from the quay past many of the buildings we had seen previously and had full commentary from the captain of the boat. We travelled out into the bay for a view of the new watersports complex before having a close-up view of the Merlion and then returning to the quay for our final stop – a pewter coin factory. At the factory we were shown examples of how all of the coins and other pewter items were made historically (and how this place still makes them). I wouldn’t have chose to visit here but it was nice as part of the tour and taught me something I didn’t know. I left the group at this point without heading back to the hotel and explored the city on my own for a bit before eating at a nice Thai restaurant along the river and then catching a Taxi to the hotel.

Bumboat Cruise

Bumboat Cruise

Merlion

Merlion

Weird Statues

Weird Statues

Singapore by Night

Singapore by Night

Today I woke up after another storm that created quite a bit of flooding… they seem to be a regular occurance in thie part of the world! I deciced to visit the city centre but decided to walk since I was only a mile from Orchard Road. This turned out to be a big mistake as the rain had made the humidity worse and my shoes actually disintegrated around me during the walk. The destintion was worth it though as Orchard Road was a nice area and allowed me to both people watch and stock up on souvenirs.

Orchard Road

Orchard Road

After catching a taxi back to the hotel I relaxed in my room for a bit before heading out on another tour. This was to the Night Safari which is a zoo that is only open in the evenings so you can see the animals from a different perspective. It was a really good experience and we saw lots of animals including Hyena, Tapir, Hippo, Giraffe and more. There are jungle walks you can take to see some of the animals but I highly recommend taking the safari jeeps which will get you very close to the animals. The zoo is designed in such a way that it looks like the animals are all roaming free around you rather than being in cages and this adds to the atmosphere and experience. After the safari I had dinner at the food court and watched the entertainment before getting on my coach back to the city. As my hotel was on the way a minibus met us half way in a lay-by and drove us from there which was efficient but we almost didn’t make it back to the hotel as the driver really should have driven a little slower.

My feet are really starting to hurt now as I wasn’t able to do anything about them before the night safari. I’ll get some new ones in the morning in the shopping centre I saw just down from the hotel while making my way to Orchard Road.

My Hotel

My Hotel

My Hotel Room

My Hotel Room

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Back in the UK

August 24th, 2002 No comments

We’re back in the UK!

After our night of eating Pizza on the 22nd we had an early night before getting up early to head to Windhoek Airport for our connecting flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. The airport is fairly small but clean and modern. There wasn’t too much to do there after more than an hour though so luckily we didn’t have to stay very long. It was emotional saying goodbye to Rod at the airport. He’s been a great guy over the last few weeks, helped us through a lot and made our team more efficient. I’ll miss him.

Windhoek Airport

Windhoek Airport

After a short flight from Windhoek to Johannesburg we had another 10 hour or so layover before our flight to London. We discovered the restaurant upstairs in the departure lounge too – Steak, Chips and Peas meal with a drink for less than the price of a coffee in Starbucks in most western countries. I love Africa! We did some last minute shopping, made final phone calls home and then boarded the flight to London. I swapped seats on the way back to be able to sit next to some of the group that I have made friends with during the trip, and avoid having to sit next to some people I didn’t want to sit next to from the group, which made the long flight a lot more survivable.

Arriving back in the UK was part sadness part relief. It has been a long month and we’re glad to be back but we’ll miss the place. I know I certainly will. It was also emotional for a few people – I saw one or two tears show on people after clearing customs and seeing friends and family. I guess I never really understood emotion at an airport until today as I’ve never been away for this long. I wasn’t one of the people that cried but it was nice to see people again.

Our leaders back at Heathrow

Our leaders back at Heathrow

I can’t believe how great the last month has been. We’ve seen some amazing places, met some amazing people and done things that I will remember for the rest of my life. Sure it’s been tiring and there’s been one or two events (and a person) that I would rather forget but this has probably been the best month of my life. So many great memories! I hope to be able to return to Namibia again soon!

Namibian Flag

Namibian Flag

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