31 March, 2006

Finding Nemo at Blue Lagoon

Fiji_018Have you ever been on a flight and an annoucement asking, "Do we have a doctor on board? Please come to the back of the plane?" ... We were! First time.. pretty weird!
Anyway we have arrived in Fiji, and after a quick night in Nadi Bay Hotel we caught the Yasawa Flyer up to the Blue Lagoon. The frst two nights saw us staying at Coral View, the next at Sunrise and finally a couple of nights of luxury at Oarsmans Bay.
Fiji is beautiful! Bright blue seas, white sandy beaches, super friendly staff and the snorkelling in the coral reefs is amazing. Unfortunately I still have not found Nemo!
We have purchased a Bula Pass which allows you unlimite movement between the islands on the Big Yellow Boat (Yasawa Flyer), and we decided on our first couple of nights at Coral View. The staff greeted us with the Bula Bula song (now my fave Fijian tune). Its a great resort, but the showers were disgusting.. The food was pretty good, and its included in the price, after all its not as if you can pop to the supermarket up here...
We spent an afternoon at the Blue Lagoon, which was amazing and made us move to our next resort Sunrise. Unfortunately Sunrise was not very good. The food was terrible, the bed linen had not been washed and the springs were sticking into our back. However the view of the sunrise was amazing.. as was our mini-trek through the jungle to Blue Lagoon beach again. However we decided to move to Oarsmans Bay later that day..
WOW!! what a great decision.. Ok its an extra F$26 per night each, but its fabulous! Easily the best beach yet, and amazing coral reefs. The staff are really friendly, and the food is gorgeous. Even the dorm is great with brand new mossie nets, and a breeze through all night! I even tried Kava whilst we were here. Kava is a mens drink, with mild narcotic properties and makes your mouth numb! Its drunk with a formal ceremony, when the men of the village chat about things.. Its ok, nothing like a bottle of Becks!
To get around all these resorts, we have to get a water taxi which is a little different, but a lot more interesting than a black cab. Especially when flying fish start jumping out of the water next to you!
We ended up staying two days in Oarsmans and on the final morning, we went to Nacula Village to see the fijian village, shell market and the school. The school was great and the kids sang to us!

24 March, 2006

23 March, 2006

Byron Bay

Arts Factory Sentinel
Originally uploaded by jezarnold.

We have just got back to Sydney after spending three days at the Arts Factory (aka Mossie Factory) in Byron Bay. I am currently in the internet cafe, moving all the photos from my Camera on to my iPod, so that when we get to fiji I don't have to worry about my old pictures.. Its taking forever though..

So Byron Bay! Has any of you ever been there? It may be a little different to when you last went. There is still no MacDonalds, but everything seems to have gone up in price by 50%.. Its still a trendy little stop for 75% of the backpackers who come to Oz, and also a surfers paradise, as it has some great breaks.

Unfortunately we were on the edge of Cyclone Larry, which didn't get as far south as Byron Bay. It still rained though. Every day. Oh well S**T happens. The worst thing about that? The rain brings Mosquitos. Great..

Like I said we stayed at the Arts Factory. It gets rave reviews in all the Guidebooks. This gives you a massive reason NOT to stay there. One Maths formula thats great for travelling is Great Reviews = Noisy Irritating Backpackers. It was not all bad, but we were placed in a Gunya (Read: Tent) that is right next to a small Tea Tree lake (read: Swamp).. We were lucky to get it for $60 a night, but make sure you harass the poor backpacker who picks up from the Bus Stop :) otherwise its $80..

We had some food stolen. It was only a few pieces of bread and a couple of eggs, but it was bloody annoying. Zena complained, and we got a free breakfast out of it!!

So what did we do? Well anyone who goes to Byron, has to go to Nimbin. This is an 'alternative' place. Famous for its relaxed attitude to Marijuana. I think it used to be quite a charming place, but now its got chavs everywhere asking you if you "Want any smoko?" ... no thanks.

We went with Grasshoppers tour. They are a pretty good tourgroup. As well as Nimbin we saw a waterfall, and had a BBQ. Plus a free meal at Cheeky Monkeys (legendary Byron Nightspot).. We got on with this couple, Mark and Louise from Leicester, going for a few beers.

We both wanted to go up to the Lighthouse, to get some great photos but when it rained yesterday it poured.. So it was a day of looking round shops.. mmmm interesting!

Anyway 40 hours in Sydney until we fly to Nadi, Fiji.. I am prob gonna be out of touch for a while. I don't care. I swear its going to be great to get off a bloody computer for three weeks!

20 March, 2006


Zena, Jez and Koala
Originally uploaded by jezarnold.

Linda is Zenas old boss from when she worked in Southampton. Kiwi by birth, with Irish parents, and now living in Brisbane, Australia. Gary is her husband, working as the head of a Business Analyst unit. These two love travelling, and Zee had arranged for us to stay with them for the weekend.

And what a weekend! They showed us the sights of Brisbane and looked after us really well, with some wonderful meals, and some of the most amazing hospitality shown to us ever!!

Started the weekend by taking us to this Mountain that overlooks Brisbane, and then back home. They have a great apartment on one of the ridgelines in Brizzie, that itself has the best views. There flat is stunning. Pretty much a smarthouse, with switches to turn lights on in different areas. Gary loves his movies and music, so has this brilliant home theatre. Gary also loves to cook, and made us all a wonderful meal on Saturday night.

Sunday saw us getting up early for a nice walk to get our appetites up. We got the Brisbane CityCat down to South bank. South Bank used to be industry and wasteland, until the city bought it for the venue for 1988 World Expo. Since then it has been turned into Parks, climbing and Beaches. It also has superb Arts centres. We walked all along here to the main city itself. We then headed for some Breakfast.

The afternoon saw me and Zena getting dropped off at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Its the first and biggest Koala sanctuary in the world, and has an amazing collection of Australian wildlife. Obviously, Zenas maternal instincts came out whenever she sees cuddly animals. These Koalas were no less cute, and she was telling me her plans to 'borrow' one longterm. She said the park people wouldn't notice. I managed to convince her otherwise, by getting some pictures with her cuddling one. The Koala showed Zena her affection, by nearly pooing on her! :)

After our Kangaroo hunt last week (by hunt, I mean explore..) we finally managed to get up close and personal by feeding them. Finally we saw one of the Sheep Farmers, come and give us a demonstration of rounding sheep. (not that I have never seen this before, thanks to Grandad and Uncle Geoff)

We finished the day by heading back to Linda and Garys place, to see Brisbane at night-time. Very impressive..

Now we are in Byron Bay for the next few days, staying at the Arts Factory Hostel in a tent next to a lake (read: Swamp) .. I will let you know what the Mossie bites are like in a few days!

18 March, 2006

Starting back home..

Saturday 18th March 2005. Me and Zena had been looking forward to this day for a looooong time. This was the day our travels start to end. Now that sounds pretty weird. Looking forward to the end, but we have a 63 day trip ahead of us.

Brisbane, Byron Bay, Fiji, California, Roadtrip along Route 66 and finally, New York.

We start early Saturday morning by finally getting everything into my Snowboard Bag. Its a total weight of 45kg, and we have to take it down to the Couriers this Friday for its 2month long trip by sea back to the depot in London. Its mostly my snowboard and bits, but also contains all the stuff we don't want to take with us travelling. That leaves me with my 19kg travel bag, a little rucksack, and an esky.. Zee's got her travel pack, a pullalong and her daysack. Nothing like packing as little as possible :)

We get on the bus for our slow trip to the airport, when we get a phonecall off the Airline. "Your 3 o'clock flight has been cancelled. Which one do you want 2 or 4?" aaaargh... we choose the 2 o'clock flight, and decide to get the train there instead of the coach. A bit of uncertainty about whether we make it or not, but of course we do.. with 10 minutes to spare

A 1hour 15 min flight later, to Brisbane with Virgin Blue, and before you know we are getting picked up at the Airport by Linda and Gary...

Welcome to Brisbane

17 March, 2006

Last day at Work in Sydney

Its 5:30 Friday 17th March, and its my last day at Hubb.

For all those who are having a look through my blog from Hubb, leave me a comment. Thanks to those who came out for Drinks on Wednesday... Sorry I wasn't going out on St Patricks day, but there is no way I am going to fly with a hangover on Saturday Morning..

Look after yourselves.. Like I said, "If you are ever looking for a job in the UK... I know someone in South London who needs some Cleaners" :)

Its been great working with you all!

15 March, 2006

100 Coments

Back on the 16th Feb I posted that I am coming up to 100 comments.. I really thought it would be done within a week.

One month later to the day.. and the winner is Jez!! hahaha :) I fixed it.. actually its Lara who won the 100th comment. She posted comments 96, 97 and 99. Only Mum posted one other!!

So the postcard is on its way... Send me an email with your address.

13 March, 2006

24 hours in Orange

Searching_for_kangaroosOur last weekend, before we fly off to Brisbane / Byron Bay and then off to Fiji, was spent with Gail and Rogers friends Helen and Charlie at their farm in Orange, NSW.

To get to Orange, we had to take the train. 5 hours it bloody took, to go 250 Kms. Look at the map here, But its an amazing train journey. Over the Blue Mountains into rolling NSW countryside. Its great farming country (what can be classed as good in Australia anyway), and into the city of Orange.

As soon as we arrived we went to see Helen in her new shop, Patchwork Orange, and then headed around town for a walk. I really wanted to get myself a hat before we left Australia. I was after a Indiana Jones hat, but they don't sell the exact one over here, so I settled with a Queenslander Hat instead (see Flickr) IT'S GREAT!! I proceeded to wear it all weekend, and its gonna be my beach hat for ever more :)

We headed back to Helen and Charlies farm after Helen closed up shop, which like the rest of Orange was at 12:00. Its set in the middle of 3000 acres of Farm Country near the Cadia Gold Mine. Charlie farms mostly Sheep and Cattle, with a few crops, and is constantly busy. Hes also Vice Captain of his Bush Fire Service. With all the Bush Fires in Australia, each community has volunteer fire brigades.

It was no different to my Grandads farm. The difference is that the nearest neighbours are about 10 kms away!! They had arranged for us to go Water Skiing with Jeff and Vannessa (Their son and dughter in law) that afternoon, and me and Zena had a great couple of hours trying to stand up!! Bloody Hard work.. The donut proved easier.

This was after our hunt for Kangaroos though.. Yep, After 5 months in Oz, I finally got to see some wild Kanagroos. There are no Kanagaroo farms in Australia, so if you eat any Kangaroo Steaks, the chances are it was shot. Its perfectly legal. They are not a pest, but there are regular culls to reduce the population. It was pretty difficult to get close to one, but I did see a fair few, including one bounding across the road when we went to the pub that night!!

The next day, was a bit of a chilled out day, with Helen cooking an amazing roast, but also we went to the Old Woolshed. This was a fantastic look at History in NSW. Its over 100 years old, and used to have 40 Shearers working. Head over to my flickr Site for the Photo set... My Uncle Geoff has a pretty modern Shearing section on his farm, but this look at something that is still used today (only for show) was fantastic!

Just before we finished our quick trip, we headed up Mount Canobolas, to have a look at the stunning views of the local countryside. You could see for miles..  The train journey home nearly turned into a nightmare when we got put into Kids Class with a drunk sitting opposite us, but a quick complaint actually got us moved to better seats.. British Rail take note!

08 March, 2006

06 March, 2006

Mardi Gras

Gay_cowboys_mardi_gras_1We have been staying at Gail & Rogers house for a week now, which is great!! They are so kind, to let us stay for a few weeks free of charge!!

At the weekend though, we wanted to go and see some friends of ours over in Manly. Our old housemate Danni, invited us and some others over for a meal, which was pretty cool. Dannis living with a new couple now :( they are Slovakian, and love WODKA!!.... a few (read more than 5) shots and the two longnecks.. I was feeling pretty ropey!!

So on Saturday i woke up with a hangover.. and today was Mardi Gras!! Not any old Mardi Gras either... Its the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Zena went when she was here last time and had the most fun time ever.. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian community LOVE showing off, and this parade is no exception. An outrageous dress sense, and more transvestites per square mile than SoHo, made this parade brilliant.

It started off with Dykes on Bikes.. must have been over 100 Lesbians on motorbikes, revving it up. every Police Officer there must have had the bikes revved up real loud next to them! Then the parade on all the different floats, which were really colourful. I must have heard the Love Generation song about 5 times... We met up with Jodie & Gordon (and Gordans Mum) and just watched the parade and had some beers! Fun times..

03 March, 2006

Longer Fiji trip


Instead of doing the tried and tested tourist route up the East Coast, we have changed our minds. We were stressing about this the other week, and we have done a load of research, but instead we are going to....

Spend Eighteen Days in FIJI!! Wooohooo

Why?? Well Zena has done the East coast route loads of times. It was never really on our must see's in Australia. We wanted to head up the West Coast instead, except its a bit pricey to get over there. So instead of going to Fraser Island (biggest Sand Island in the world) and the Whitsundays (Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef) we are going to the Yasawas Islands, and tropical jungle and waterfalls in the Cannibal Islands.. We are still going to Byron and Brizzie for a few days before we leave.

Plus its cheaper... :)

After that its on to the USA on Thursday 13th April, for forty days and forty nights..!! for our Huge Road Trip!!

.. still back on Saturday 20th May (surf party in Cornwall anyone??)