A Travellerspoint blog

its over.... really over.... for now!

snow -7 °C

Well after i left Europe i sent 2 months in Florida!! i stay with my God mother and had a great time! i spent most of my days chillin on the beach or riding a bike around both helped with my tan greatly!
i also spent a lot of time reading... since traveling ive kinda become obsessed with JD Robb books! so i read as many as i could while i was traveling and when i got to Florida thanks to the wonderful libraries i got to read a shit load of the JD Robb books! :D

while i was in florida i also hit up the Everglades, only saw one alligator but it was better then none! got to visit this small town built around a church... im pretty sure its a cult and theyre planning something evil... but that just my personal thoughts haha I also went to Disney World because going to Florida and not visiting Disney World is well shameful! I almost got to see a shuttle launch.... almost because i went there to see it i could see the ship... space ship... space shuttle.... i dont even know what to call them anyway it was there on the launch pad.... and we waited and waited and waited.... and then we waited some more until they canceled it around 1 something in the morning due to weather conditions! booo! but oh well, i sorta got to experience it!
after my time was up in Florida i was on my way to Boston! it was reunion time! i hadnt seen Kaitlyn in months!! and to add to that we were meeting up with two of our other friends, Meghan and Bruce! i was the first to arrive in Boston.. unfortunately my luggage did not arrive with me.... but i consider myself lucky as i had flown on over 20 flights in the past year and hadnt lost my luggage once until that day! but i was also lucky cause it wasnt lost, it just didnt make my flight and we would be in around the time my friends flights would be arriving. So a few hours later two of my three friends had arrived in Boston... they were gracious enough to wait for my luggage at one end of the airport while i was at the other end waiting for Kaitlyn! i didnt even recognize her when she got off the plane... dressed in her Indian clothes, and a scarf wrapped around her head! We surprised Kaitlyn, telling her that it was only Meghan meeting us and it was actually Bruce as well! We then took a bus out to our Motel! We had a great few days catching up... drinking, dancing and taking silly pictures! we even wen to a Red Sox game.... and i finally got my Harvard hoodie! yay!! now i just need a Yale hoodie! :) Boston is a great city... lots to see and do, i would say its the cleaner version of Toronto!

So ive been home for almost 5 and a half months..... and i have to say i miss traveling so much! i think about all the places ive been to and places i still want to see everyday! i have a full time job right now that has nothing to do with traveling and its pretty depressing..... im paying off my traveling debt only to save up and do it all over again!

My dream.... to work on a cruise ship so i can travel and work at the same time.... save up money while i work so i can travel more during my time off!

Since ive been home ive been mostly working however i did get to take a quick trip out to Calgary to see my bestest friend in the whole wide world who i hadnt seen in over a year!

My next BIG trip im hoping will be 6 months in Europe... but my next trip is gonna be sorta close to home.... im going to the East coast of Canada with my bestest friend! :D so until i save up for Europe i have something to look forward to!:D

Peace out,

Amanda

p.s make love not war.

p.p.s nothing is better then traveling!

Posted by hankins16 15:47 Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

So Long Europe!

It's time to head back to North America....

sunny 35 °C

Greetings all!

I took an over night train from Krakow, Poland to Praha (Prague), Czech Republic. I decided to not get a sleeper car, because a seat was cheaper and it actually ended up working out better because I got a whole cabin to myself so I could stretch out and get a good sleep! I left Krakow around 10pm and arrived in Prague around 6 am, the plan was to change and put my bags into a locker for the day then tour around the city. Of course now I had to get yet again another currency, so when I went to the washroom (you have to pay) they tried to rip me off cause I was paying in złoty (polish money) but since I’ve been through so many countries and currencies I’m always checking to see how much each is worth to the others, so they couldn’t rip me off! So after I changed clothes and washed my face, I had to get some Czech Crowns so I could pay for the locker. I also met for the first time Canadians from Nova Scotia, all the other Canadians I’ve met so far have been either from Ontario, or the west coast. Anyway so I got this crazy money, got a bite to each so I could have change for the locker, went through my guide book to figure out what I wanted to do and put everything I didn’t need in the locker for the day. I then went to the tourist information place to get a map, and to ask about tours, I had heard that there were some great free tours but the first tourist place had no idea about any free tours, so I checked the map and set out to find another tourist place. Once I did I found some great info, and the lady who work at the tourist place was actually on the same train I was coming into the city, and while we were on the train she told me where to get off the train, and she remembered me! So I was looking through the Brochures, and I found a free tour but it started in the next 5 minutes, so I ran! I made it just in time before the tour was about to leave, it was also the day I found out Michael Jackson died, that's right I was in the historic city of Prague when I found out MJ died! So anyway I went on this tour that was almost 4 hours long! It was a great tour; it really took you everyone where around the city. One of the stop was at St. James Church, where they had an "arm" hanging from a rope. Now there are a few stories behind this arm, the one I heard was about a man who lost his job and went into the Church to steal something to sell for money, it was either on or near the Statue of the Virgin Mary. When the man went to take what he was stealing the statue came to life and grabbed his arm, and wouldn’t let go! The man was trapped there all night until the Priest came in the next morning, and had to cut off his arm to get him free! They say the arm is kept there to warn thieves. It was a great story and I did get a quick picture of the arm (even though we weren’t supposed to take pictures) I'm not really sure if its really an arm but its a great story! I crossed the famous Charles Bridge, unfortunately it was under construction so it was really packed getting across it because there was less room to walk, and the statue on the bridge that everyone stops at was insanely busy! It was Statue of John of Nepomuk. This statue is the spot where John was thrown over the bridge to drown, the reason he was thrown because he would not reveal the secrets of the Queen Bohemia to the King. The story goes that when he touched the water stars appeared, our guide told us that if you touch one side it's supposed to bring you luck in money and the other in love.... I’ll leave it up to you to guess what side I touched!!
There was a lot to look at in Prague that is hard to describe, it's just a great city to walk around in and take in all the old buildings, and I loved the cobble stone roads, but I’m sure how I actually made it through all of Europe without killing myself on them! Prague was a city I wished I had read more about before I got there because there is so much history behind this city! One of the biggest tourist attractions is the Prague Astronomical Clock, and it's more of a sight to see the amount of tourist that gather around the clock on the hour then it is to actually see the clock!
I realized over the past 11ish months that there are so many places in the world I want to see and places I got to see but I just didn’t have enough time. Prague is one of the places I would like to go back to for sure! So after a very long tour of Prague, I went off on my own to check out the local shops, and FINALLY bought Russian dolls! Now I know I wasn't in Russia but I've been wanting these things since I can remember, in case you don’t know what they are or you know them as something else. They are those little wooden figures that you open and there is a smaller one inside then you open that one and so on and so on. And the reason I decided to buy these ones was cause first of all the lady give me a great deal, and second because they were Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs! To finish my day off in Prague I got a toasted sandwich and ice cream, before heading back to the train station to gather all my stuff from the locker!
The train was running a little bit late but I was happy to sit on my bag and wait. Again I was taking another overnight train. I was to get into Germany at 6am and then was to take another train 6.18am to my friends’ city, called GELSENKIRCHEN, a smaller city in Germany.
I met Linda, in New Zealand while working on the vineyards; she was one of the best English speaking Germans I met. She loves that she can speak English so well, and was always asking me to correct her if she made a mistake, I got a kick out of this because to be honest, I’m pretty sure her English is better then mine! The one thing she had a problem with was words that started with the letter R. The Irish guys that worked with us in New Zealand were always getting her to say Roger Rabbit, which would sound like "Woger, Wabbit" but not to worry, she would get the Irish guys to say Thirty Three and a Third, which sounded like "turdy, tree and a turd".
Anyway, Linda stayed in the same room I stayed in, and we got along really well and she said when I got to Germany I have to stay with her and her family.
So before I left Prague I asked what train station to get off at, because I had to switch at a major train station to get another train. Unfortunately, my train from Prague was late so I missed the train I was told to get on, and I was sure exactly what train to get on, so instead of risking getting on the wrong trained I asked at the information place, and I had to take two more trains. So I did exactly what she said and guess what?? I ended up at the wrong station! And because I had no phone I couldn’t call Linda, so with all my bags I started to search for a pay phone, but of course, no one in this world uses pay phones anymore so I couldn’t find one! Luckily I saw a lady walking her dog, first I asked her if she knew where a street was (Linda’s address) but she didn’t know then I asked her about a pay phone, she didn’t speak very much English but I got my point across that I was trying to get a hold of my friend. And thankfully she told me to wait a minute and she would get her cell phone so I could use it! I was so grateful, and I called Linda's house and her mum told me that she was waiting at the train station, (the one I was supposed to get off at) and she would call Linda and tell her to pick me up from the one I was at! So what happened was the lady told me to get off one station to early! But it all worked out well, and Linda finally found me and had a good laugh at me for getting off at the wrong station and then we were on our way! In Germany a normal breakfast, is lots of different kinds of buns, cold cuts and lots of toppings, like spreads and jams. So we picked up some stuff for breakfast and went back to her house. Her mum was up and waiting for our arrival. When I got there I put my stuff away, took a much needed shower, then we all got settled outside on the deck for breakfast! Both of Linda's parents spoke English, not quite as well as Linda, and her mum better than her dad. But we did just fine keeping up a conversation. I remember one conversation I was having with Linda's dad and he couldn't think of the word in English and he said "ok we'll just wait for Linda's mum and ask her" so we did but she wasn’t sure either and he said "ok we'll just wait and ask Linda!"
Their house was beautiful, and they had a beautiful garden as well, the city was a nice, small but not too small. Linda's parents pointed out stuff on our way to meet Linda at work, she worked at a nice restaurant, which she hated, but they had some great food!
That evening we went to the city's culture festival; where I found out Germans like to mix coke and sprite with beer! The festival was actually at an old mining factory, and they had made a ferris wheel, that went underground, kinda creepy. There was artwork to look at, but mostly people were there to drink and socialize. The next day we went to the ZOOM Erlebniswelt Gelsenkirchen, which is the Zoo! I was told they cant call it a zoo but rather Zoom because they don’t have elephants, not really sure how true it is, but oh well! Anyway to the Zoo or the Zoom whatever you want to call it was GREAT! I took loads of pictures and you get a free picture taken and get it made into a key chain! And because divided into two sections, Africa and Alaska, you get a picture in each section so I got two free key chains with my picture on them!
That night we had a BBQ where I got to try a whole bunch of different German meats, now normally you go to a BBQ have some hot dogs a burger and then that’s the end. Well Linda's brother says to me "ok are you ready for the first round?" and I'm thinking, "first round"??? Well I tried 4 or 5 different types of meat, which were all great! Then for dessert we were going to have bananas on the BBQ with chocolate in them! But we decided to go get some Gelato but then we got back and had the bananas anyway! They were great as well!
The next morning I was back on a train heading back to Paris.... and although I didn’t like Paris the first time around I was excited this time because I was going to Disney Land!
Oh and how I loved Disneyland! This Disney had two parks, which were right beside each other so I could actually walk from one park to the other! And as always I had blast there! I did all my favourite rides of course and I tried out some new ones I hadn’t been on before, I like the Crush Roller Coaster (Crush from Finding Nemo) and it was awesome! It was like riding on the back of a turtle through the EAC (east Australian current) it was just like the movie! And this time around Paris was actually hot! I was happy to not be in another Disney park freezing! After a great day of fun it was time to get back to my hostel and get packing so I could get some sleep!
I got up early, so I could grab some free breakfast from my hostel, then take the subway to the Airport, and I ended up being a few hours way to early but it worked to my advantage because American Airlines, combined two of their lines into one, very unorganized, and took over an hour just to check in! I spent my last few Euros I had left on some duty free chocolate and a Magnum ice cream bar, now if you've ever had one of those Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars, its like that but even better (if you can believe that!) so so yummy! What I’ve learned is that everywhere else in the world seems to have better ice cream then we do in Canada!
The flight to Boston was great, it was actually an hour early, go figure the one time I wouldn’t have minded the plane being late it was early! I had an early morning flight to Florida, so I was staying the night at the airport. Getting through customs was a different story. On the plane I was filling out my little card, on where I’m staying and all the stuff, when I remember that I don’t have my God Mothers address, now I’ve been there loads of times before but always with my parents so I never had to know the address, and the rest of the world I had just been putting down staying at hostel and it worked fine. But I really didn’t want to chance it with the states cause I know how they are, so I left it blank, just putting in the city I was staying. Well that didn’t work for the customs guy so I had to go to a second security check. And I’m thinking in my head, "well shit, I’ve made it all the way around the world with no problems and of course it has to be the states that gives me trouble". So I get to this next security and the guys asks me where I’m staying and I explain everything to him, and he says "well is there someone we can call to get the address?" So I say sure, "call my dad he'll know for sure". The guy turns around to use the phone then comes back after a few minutes and says," your dad doesn’t know..." at first I thought he was just joking, so I say, "are you serious?" he says, " yeah, your dad said he wasn’t home and didn’t have his palm pilot on him, but he said the address is 29th something..." Then he tells me we'll have to do a search for my God mother, so I’m like, "ok her name is Lisa Mackay... or wait it could be under Mary because Lisa is her middle name, oh and it could also be under Cunningham cause that’s her husbands name..." The guy not looking at his computer anymore is just staring at me, and in my head I’m thinking "this guy must think I’m retarded or that I’m a really bad liar, and that I might never get into the states even though I’ve been across the world with no problems. So the guy just sort of nods his head and smiles and says, " I’m sure I’ll find her." and he did, and then asked me if I wanted to write down her number and address, so I did. Phew! I could finally go pick up my bags!
The next morning I was off to Florida!
I was greeted at the airport by my wonderful god mother (Lisa or marry or marry Lisa) haha but I think I’ll just stick with Lisa!

And I’m going to leave you all hanging there, my next and second last, (cause I’m going to write the FINAL blog when I’m back home.) will be on its way soon time!

Peace out,
Amanda

Ps. Make love not war.

Posted by hankins16 08:31 Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

A part of history, Auschwitz.

Germany and Poland.

overcast 34 °C

hello everyone,
so this one might be a tough one for people to get through because i talk about my experience at the Nazi concentration camps, but I'm hoping reading it will be a learning experience as it was for me going there.

My first day in Berlin I was beyond tired! I did manage to sleep until almost noon, but I just wasn't feeling up to doing touristy things that day. But I was starving! So my first mission was to find some cheap filing food, and the best way to do that is to find a kebab place, and that I did! while I filled my grumbling stomach with a tasty kebab, I pulled out my lonely planet guidebook, a map and some brochures I picked up at my hostel and started to figure out what I wanted to do while I was in Berlin. You guys are probably wondering, or have wondered how I pick what I want to do when I get to places. So here's how I do it, when I figure out where I'm going I do two things, first I look it up in my lonely planet book, and circle everything that sounds interesting to me, then I google it. Then the first thing I do when I get to a new city I get a city map and find everything I want to do on the map and again circle it. This way as I make my way through the city I can cross off everything I’ve done, and also plan out the best route to see everything in the most time efficient way. It's also the reason why if I have time on the first day I get to a city I like to walk around and get the lay of the land so I know where the main streets are and the best routes to take when looking for the tourist attractions. So I did all of the above for Berlin, I also found a Bike tour of the city, that I was really interested in because it covered a lot of the main tourist attractions in one day and I thought a bike tour sounded like fun! I also picked up a brochure for a concentration camp, about 35 km outside of Berlin, I had planned on going to Poland at the beginning of my trip, but at this point I was thinking I wasn’t going to be able to go. So I thought it best that I should go to this concentration camp, it wasn’t something to look forward to but it was one of those thing I felt I should do, because it was a big part of history, and the reason they are still around is for people to visit them and see it in person, the survivors of the camps want people to know what they went through. This tour was only offered on Tuesday and Thursday, and it was now Sunday, so my plan was to take the bike tour on the Monday, knock off most of the touristy sights, then on Tuesday take the tour of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, then I would see from there what I was to do next.
The bike tour was as great as I thought it would be, there were about 12 of us in the group , which is a great size for a tour group. The bikes had nice comfy seats, so spending 6 hours on it didn't leave me with a soar bum for the rest of the day. One of the first things pointed out to us on the tour was the Fernsehturm, a television tower, looks a little like the CN tower but not as big, anyway it was built in 1965 when communism ruled Berlin and they only allowed churches because it was also a way to spy on people, and was built in East Berlin, besides its being a television tower, the story behind it is that they wanted a tower bigger then the one in West Berlin to show power and also as a sign of communism. But it actually end up back firing on them because of the design of the tower, when the sun shines on the Fernsehturm's tiled stainless steel dome, the reflection appears in the form of a cross. Berliners named the luminous cross Rache des Papstes, or "Pope's Revenge".
One stop on the tour was at the Holocaust Memorial for all the Jews of Europe that were murdered, when they first decided to build this memorial they asked the public for ideas of what they should build as a memorial, they got stupid and down right offensive suggestions like, to build a huge oven that burns all the time, or a giant cube covered in blood, these ideas were tossed out the window very quickly. The guy who designed the one thats there now, actually had two idea's his first was to build a giant maze that was just so intense once you were inside you would feel lost, lonely and scared, basically the feelings that all the people went through during the Holocaust, but they were worried that people would start to freak out and try to climb over the walls and in turn hurt themselves or even kill themselves. So they went with his second idea, which was 2,711 blocks all different heights, it does give you the same kind of feeling he wanted out of the maze because if you go far enough into the blocks they're higher then you and you have no idea where you are. And a side note, in this area is also the hotel where Michael Jackson dangled his baby off the balcony!
Another stop on the tour was at a small piece of the Berlin wall, right across the street from a building that was were the secret police know as Stasi abbreviation of the German word Staatssicherheit, literally State Security. In this building a guy, I don’t remember his name but he worked there and one day he hid his family (his wife and son) in the bathroom until everyone went home for the day. He then took a hammer and tied it to nylon, and threw it over the wall, then him and his family zip lined to freedom. We also stopped at the last remaining watchtower of the Berlin wall. Each tower had two guards, they were told to shoot anyone trying to escape over the wall, pretty much if someone got too close to the wall they could shoot them. And if one guard even hesitated to shoot someone or didn’t shoot them the other guards could and would shoot the other guard. We went by the government buildings. At this point of the tour the dark clouds were starting to roll in, I had looked at the weather the day before and it called for rain all day but up to this point it was nice and sunny. Only minutes after leaving the government buildings, the rain started luckily it was near the end of the tour, so I only had to ride in the rain for about 10 minutes. I got to see a lot of other sites as well, like the museum island, which is exactly what it sounds, an island of museums. The way the river runs through Berlin one part is pretty much an island because the river splits in two at one point. Oh one thing I did see which I think is a great memorial, in the time of Nazi Germany, a lot of books were banned, and in turn burned. So what they did was underground, they have empty book shelves that would hold the number of books that were burned during that time, and you look down into this hole through glass. So basically if you’re not looking for this memorial you'll never find it. It was hard to take pictures of, so if you google Nazi Booking Burning Memorial you can get a better idea of what it is.
The next day was the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, now I'm not a big fan of tours but because this was going to be my first experience of something that could really be emotionally draining and my lack of in depth knowledge I wanted to take a guided tour. I wasn’t really sure how to feel going into it, I was really nervous and maybe a little bit scared as well. I was glad that the group was only about 8 people including the tour guide; it made it a lot easier to listen to the guide and not be bombarded with huge group of tourist, where you’re struggling to see and hear what the guide is talking about. We took the train from Berlin to the Concentration Camp, the train was about a 10 -15 minute walk from the camp, and our guide wanted us to walk down instead of taking the bus because its the exact same way they would have walked the prisoners down the street. And the guards would encourage the people living on the street to come stand outside and throw stuff at the prisoners call the names, whatever they wanted pretty much. The main gate of every concentration camp said, "ARBEIT MACHT FREI" a German phrase meaning "work brings freedom". After walking through the gates, you were right in the middle of where they had roll call, there were barracks there at one time but because the camp was still used after the Nazi's they were knocked down. The Prisoners were woken up and had 45 minutes to wash, dress, and eat before getting to roll call, if they were late they would be beaten and most likely die. 45 minutes may seem like a lot of time but the barracks which should have held about 40 people (rough guess) were housing up to 400 people, so in this small little space you could imagine how hard it would be to get ready in the amount of time. Once at roll call if they miss counted, no matter whose fault it was they would have to start all over again, they were out there for 12 hours at a time sometimes. And because of the poor living conditions the lack of food they received, prisoners couldn't keep standing and would die from exhaustion, and if they were to slouch the guards would beat them, and they would die. For me personally, the felt sick the whole time I was in there, the same sort of feeling I get when I'm in a hospital. I was taking it as a learning experience, I'm sure it's not supposed to be something you can go and see and that’s it, it definitely affects you, and makes you think. The tour was a few hours long, and for the most part I thought I was handling it really well, when we walked into the crematorium, my stomach did do a little flip, our guide walked us through the whole process. The prisoners were first told they needed a medical exam, so they were taken into a building that looked like a doctors office, in the first room they got the prisoners details, then they went into the next room, where they were told they needed to me measured, so the "doctor" would ask them to stand against the wall and there would be a measuring stick, that had a piece at the top that they would bring down to the top of their head, then the "doctor" would excuse himself for a minute. He would do this because behind the wall where the prisoner was standing against, would be the executioner. There was a hole in the wall, and by having the prisoner measure him/herself; the executioner would know exactly where to shoot to kill the prisoner right away. This wasn’t always done like this, before that they would shoot them outside, but because the guys doing the killings had to do so many it was starting to take an emotional impact on them, so they would have to be sent away for the weekend to cope with it. So then they came up with the plan of being behind the wall so they wouldn’t actually have to see the person they were killing. So after the person was shot inside, they were dragged through another room, which is where they burned the bodies, and the original ovens were still there. At this point I'm feeling a little bit depressed, you never know how you're going to react to something like that, but I think the point of going to see things like this is to make you understand just how horrible it was, and what other humans went through. After that part of the camp we went over the infirmary, where more harm then good was done. It was used a lot for testing drugs on prisoners, for the no purpose really but just because they could. I couldn’t actually stomach staying in there for more then 5 minutes. At this point of the tour I’ve been through almost all of the camp, and its all playing back in my head, how people even managed to survive this is just beyond words. In later years people who lived in that area were asked why they didn't do anything and how they could let something like that happen, so close to their homes, their answer, "we didn't know". But they watched the prisoners being marched down the street, they saw people go in but never come out, bodies being burned day in and day out. It seems hard not to know what was going on.
I watched a movie called "the boy in the stripped pajamas", if you haven’t seen it before I would recommend it, you'll understand about the smell of the bodies and living so close to concentration camp. It's a sad movie, but one worth watching.
When I got back to Berlin I decided to take a walk down to the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining part of the Berlin wall, which is covered in paintings. They didn’t want the wall completely knocked down because they wanted to use it as a memorial of freedom. So they had artist come and paint the wall, in 1990. After almost 20 years they decided to repaint and restore the wall, because of weather, air pollution and graffiti. The wall that’s left stretches 1.3km, and has about 106 paintings, I took pictures of the ones I liked best, but they were still in the process of repainting, most by the same artist that painted them in 1990.
While I was walking around Berlin, I was thinking about what I just experienced, and how glad I was to have done it. But I was also thinking about the next few days I had left in Berlin, and I thought that I’ve seen pretty much all I can and want to see there, so if I was to leave the next day I would have two extra days. So I started thinking about what I’ve seen so far on my trip and what haven’t seen, and I thought maybe I should try and get to Poland and Czech Republic. They were in my original plans but I had taken them off when I started the Europe leg of my trip, I had heard over and over again from a lot of backpackers that Praha (Prague) in the Czech Republic was a great city to visit. So I went back to my hostel got my rail pass, timetable, and calendar to see what I could do. I figured out that I could leave the next morning, arrive in Krakow, Poland that evening, stay a whole day there take a night train to Prague, keep my bags in a locker at the train station and visit the city during the day and then take a night train to my friends house in Germany. I kept thinking it over and over in my head, and then decided to go to the train station and see if it was possible, my first plan was to only inquire about the trains, then maybe go get something to eat and then go back if I wanted to do it. Well I went into the train station and 10 minutes later I came out with all my train tickets! I was on my way to Poland the next morning! I was excited and nervous and a lot of other emotions at that time. I even forgot to eat dinner cause I was just to overwhelmed with what I had just done! haha I went back to my hostel packed all my stuff and went to bed and the next morning I was on my way!
It was a 9 hour train ride that seemed to take forever! I'm glad that I booked my hostel in advance though, because it was a great location, not to far from the train station and the city center, and the people at the hostel were just great! I dropped my bags in my room, then went to get something to eat and explored around a little bit, ice cream was super cheap there so I got some coconut flavour ice cream, and it was yummy! and I won’t lie, in the day and a half I was there I had 4 ice creams, cause it was that good and that cheap haha.
The main reason for Poland, was to go to Auschwitz, probably the most well known of the concentration camps, and is actually 3 camps, but 2 of them were used as extermination camps, and were the largest out of all the camps. Auschwitz I was the main camp, and served as the administrative centre for the whole complex.
Again the gates read, "ARBEIT MACHT FREI". Going into this camp, i was a little more prepared having been to the one in Germany. i think if i had went to Auschwitz first it would have been a lot harder for me to get through it. For this camp i decided to buy a little guide book of the camp, so i could tour it by myself. This camp is a lot more visited then the first one i went to so there were crowds of people there and i did not want to take a tour, where i was rushed through the whole experience. I spent almost 3 hours hours in the first camp, taking my time, reading through the signs, and my guide book. One thing i saw while i was in there that really got me, was a picture of a lady who weighed the same as me when she went into the camp, then in the picture they had posted she weighed 50 pounds, and you could see the bones through her skin. It was scary to see that. One room had behind a glass window was all the suitcases they found later, and one room had all the shoes, and one room had all the hair brushes and one room that i had my mouth on the floor when i saw it was filled with wooden legs, and other had hair that they used to shave off the women when they were killed in the gas chambers, and they used to sell it. There was one part of the camp, where i was in a building that they turned into a museum, and it was all pictures of prisoners and newspapers from that time, and they even had pictures of them burning people out in the open; and i was walking through it, it was quite dark in there and i was by myself at this point, and i was scared to be in there, if thats the way they had intended to make people feel looking through there, which I'm sure it was, job well done.
In the basement of one of the buildings they used it for cells for individuals who had violated rules. They had 4 standing cells, which you literally had to crawl through a hole to get into them, they were 16 sq ft, with 4 men standing in them and you could do nothing but stand, and they were forced to work during the day. There were also starvation cells, where prisoners were kept without food or water until they were dead. In this basement they also experimented with Zyklon B, they tested it on Russian and Polish prisoners first in the basement, this then paved the way for the gas chamber using Zyklon B. I did go into the crematorium and gas chamber in Auschwitz I, i found it a little bit easier in there then the first camp i went to because it was all reconstructed, but it was still erie, the thought of standing where so many others lost their lives.
I then made my way to Auschwitz II (Birkenau), which was built to relieve, some of the congestion at Auschwitz I. Birkenau was huge, to walk from front to back takes almost an hour, I'm not sure how long it would take to walk around the circumference of the camp. This camp was the largest extermination camp, brought in by train the prisoners if they were fit enough to work, would be taken to one part of the camp and if they weren't which was mostly women and children, they would brought to the gas chambers right away, they were told they were going to the showers to be cleaned off. Only to walk right into their death, some part of me thinks they were the lucky ones. The living conditions of this camp was far worse then Auschwitz I, the barracks, were built as stables to hold 52 horses, they housed 400 people at a time, in bunk beds, each with up two 5 people per bed. The floors were made of mud and dirt, there was no heating, and the toilets were just holes.
The gas chambers and crematoriums were destroyed by the Nazi's in there attempt to cover up evidence of what they had done, but there is still a pond that they filled with the ashes. This camp is also where they burned people outside, they pilled up the bodies and set them on fire, outside in the open because they were killing so many people it was just piling up in the crematorium. They have a memorial at Birkenau, it's in 21 languages and says," Forever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity where the Nazis murdered about one and a half million men, women and children, mainly Jews, from various countries of Europe."
After i left the camp, i went back to the city i was staying in Krakow, and spent the rest of the day walking around the city, eating some ice cream, and taking in the sights. Then i went back to my hostel picked up my bags and headed for the train, up next was Praha (aka Prague)!

Peace out,
Amanda

Ps. make love not war.

Posted by hankins16 13:05 Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The start of the The E.U.

Ireland, France, Italy and Greece all in one!

rain 34 °C

After a somewhat rainy 3 weeks in England, i decided to take a ferry over to Ireland! So i packed up my bags, said goodbye to a great city (Liverpool!) then made my way to the ferry port. And man was i wishing i packed lighter! i had to take a bus from one part of the city to the other then take the subway, then walk a good 45 minutes! i thought i was gong to die! i every so often i would just drop all my bags and sit on them in the middle of the sidewalk to take a little rest. i was never so happy to get to the ferry port! to save money i didn't bother booking a cabin so i ended up sleeping in the kids play area, which has a nice padded floor. dinner and breakfast was included in the price of my ticket, so when it came time to eat i ate as much as i could to make sure i got my money's worth! the ferry was an 8 hour ride, but ended up being 9 cause it was an hour late! when i got to the ferry port and finally got off the ship, i figured there would be some kind of public bus around, and in my guide book it tells you which number bus to take.i decided to ask someone there where everyone was checking in, and a lady told me that the company i was with didn't match up their ferries with the buses so i just missed a bus and there might be another one coming in 30 minutes.... maybe! so i waited and a bus came that had the number it said in the book but he wouldn't let me on the bus and pointed at another bus! so i went to that bus and this driver was going back to the bus yard place cause his shift was over, but thankfully he was super nice and took me to another bus stop where i could catch a bus into the city! when i finally got into the city centre of Dublin, i found the bus station, to get yet another bus to Drogheda, my home for the next 3 weeks. Luckily for me my mum's friend Majella and her husband Michael let me stay with them! When i got into Drogheda Majella picked me up from the bus station, and i spent the rest of the day just relaxing. I'm always super tired after spending 24 hours traveling, via bus/train/boat or whatever. Drogheda is just a small little town but it was a great place, i spent a lot of time walking around, trying to get lost and finding my way back, that way i know the town like the back of my hand.
One of the things i got to see was near by, The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange http://www.knowth.com/newgrange.htm i included the website here so you could get an idea of what i saw, i thought it was pretty neat!
i took a 2 day trip up to Northern Ireland, the weather wasn't the best for me, but it was still a great trip, the day i arrived, i went to the Crumlin Road Gaol (a jail) it was a great tour, although it was hard to understand the tour guide cause his accent was so thick! so i had to make sure i was watching him the whole time because if i looked away, i would miss something! the next day was the Giants Causeway Tour! it was amazing! besides that fact that it rained, it was still amazing to see! on the way we stopped at a Castle to take pictures, and the tour guide showed us, a city that used to be there but because of the rising water levels, all that is left is the top of the church, you can see it sticking out of the water!
i spent about a week traveling around Ireland, in my travels i went to Cork, to take a day trip to Blarney, where i kissed the Blarney stone, and i made a few friends there, that i toured around with, i find it so funny that when you meet up with other backpackers in places,the last thing you find out is each others names! there were 4 of us walking around together and we stopped to take pictures and a girl asked us to take her picture with her friend, then she asked if we want a picture of the 4 of us together and we were like yea i guess so, and shes like are you guys not traveling together? and we said nope we just met like an hour ago! she thought we were all best friends! but we didn't even know each others names!
After that i headed up to Killarney, where i did the Ring of Kerry tour, and the weather was just amazing for it! i got really like to get a week of really nice hot weather! http://www.ringofkerrytourism.com/
The day i got to Killarney i met two girls from Australia that were staying in my hostel, we went out to a local pub for drinks had a great time, there was live Irish music, and all the locals were there. It was great fun! then the next day me and one of the Aussie girls did the Ring of Kerry Tour together so that made it even better cause i had someone to go with!
I got up early the next morning and took a bus to Galway! This was only a brief stop, i just wanted to go to the Cliffs of Moher, which were amazing! i cant believe how lucky i got with the weather, again it was another one of those sites that you need to see when the sun is shinning or its no good at all.
At the end of the tour i was hoping to catch a 5.30 bus back to Drogheda, but the tour guide had said earlier that the earliest we would get into Galway would be 5.45 and i was a little worried so i talked to the guide/bus driver and he said not to worry he would get me to my bus on time! i was so grateful because if i had missed that one i would have had to wait around an hour, and i would have had got in at midnight!
I spent the next few days sorting myself out, planning how to get to France, my rail pass and what i wanted to see. i was sad to be leaving Ireland, but i knew there was still so much more to see! i ended up taking a ferry from Rosslare to Roscoff in France. Then walked to the train station, took a train to Morlaix to catch another train to Paris. then finally i took the metro to my hostel, thankfully the stop was right in front of my hostel. When i arrived there were guys on the streets celebrating a football match, they were throwing fireworks up and down the street, it was madness! and one guy threw them right in front of my hostel door so i had to wait for them to stop and then run in the door!
I could tell it had been raining earlier and i was hoping that i wouldn't seen any of it during my time in Paris but i didn't get so lucky.
The next day it just rained all day, of course when i first went out in the morning it was nice and sunny so i didn't bother with an umbrella, boy did that suck. i was soak half way threw the day and was getting sick on top of it. i was not a happy camper, by the time i arrived at the Eiffel Tower i was probably the angriest tourist there! i was walking around taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower while muttering to myself " stupid Paris, stupid Eiffel tower more like the awful tower, stupid rain, stupid rude french people... i hate Paris!"
The best part of Paris were the Catacombs. It was such an amazing thing to experience although kind of creepy because they're bones of dead people, if you don't know what the Catacombs are, long story short, Paris' largest cemetery was saturated to a point where its neighbours were suffering from disease, due to contamination caused by improper burials, open mass graves, and earth charged with decomposing organic matter. That they moved remains to depleted quarries for the storage of bones. its an amazing thing to see, google it to find out more. i was a little annoyed an American guy that was behind me, when him and his friends came out, he said "that's it? that was stupid!" i nearly died, and i thought and you wonder why people think Americans are ignorant, its because of people like him.
After a few days in Paris i decided that was enough and it was time to for Rome!! i cant tell you how excited i was to be going there and getting away from Paris! i took an over night train, which i slept in a cabin with 6 other people... 6 bunks, smallest room ever. Anyway around 4am the police come into our cabin! and start asking everyone whose luggage was whose. they didn't ask me but a guy in our cabin pointed out mine and they didn't really seem interested in it. but there were these two ladies i think from Spain sleeping in the bunks below me and the guy told me that when the police asked them how many bags they had they said one, but they really had two.... so he thinks there was something funny going on :S i was happy the train ride was over an hour later! i had to switch trains in Milano, this train was just a regular train, with seats. i got a seat with a little table in front of me so i put my sweater on the table and slept for the next 4 hours, and i think these Italian ladies felt bad cause they were talking and then noticed i was sleeping so they got up and moved seats! i had a good little nap on the train and was feeling much better by the time i got to Rome or Roma as its called there. i stayed at a hostel that was only 5 mins from the train station, and only 20 mins walking from all the major tourist attractions. it was a great place, the staff were so nice, and two out of the 4 nights i got a free pasta dinner! and on my last day there i got free laundry, which i was in desperate need of!
the first day i just walked around got the lay of the land sort of thing, figured out where i was going and how to get to places. the second day i hit most of the major tourist attractions including the Colosseum, which was amazing, but i always want to see these things with no tourist, unfortunately they always have thousands of people there. i went to the Spanish steps, which weren't that great, but oh well at least I've seen them, Trevi Fountain was beautiful, and i threw coin over my shoulder in ensure i get back to Rome one day! I love that Rome hasnt been modernized, you can still picture it being pretty much the same as it was hundreds of years ago, minus the McDonald's of course!
One of the places that was top of my list to see was Greece. its one of those places you see in movies and shows and you think "i would love to go there!" so after Rome i was off to Greece, i took a train down to Bari, then a bus to the ferry port.
It was a 15 hour overnight ferry, which always seem like they take days to get where you're going! When i finally got to Greece, the ferry docked in Patra. the next step was getting a train up to Athens, i wasn't 100% sure where the train station was but when the ferry was pulling up to the dock, by the layout of the city i kinda figured what way it was, but i thought it best to ask before i went to far in the wrong direction. i got off the boat and ended up walking behind about 5 other backpackers, and just as we were about to leave the ferry port one of them says i guess we're all going to the train station does anyone know where it is? at that point i didn't, they all decided to go to the left but my thoughts were to go to the right, to what seemed to be the city centre, and ask someone along the way. so that's what i did, the first lady blew me off and wouldn't help me but the next guy told me that i was going in the right direction and just to keep going and it would be on the right side. i asked a few more people along the way just to make sure, after about walking for 15 mins i look back and i see all the other backpackers have turned around and are now going the same way i am. when i finally got to the train station i was about to fish out my rail pass from my backpack, when the lady at the train station said, " where you going?" i told her Athens, then in a panic, she jumped up and said, " that's your train right there! hurry hurry go get on its leaving right now and its free for Eurail holders", so i ran and got on the train just as it was pulling out! And all the other backpackers missed it! i felt like i was on the amazing race and i was kicking butt!
While i was on the train i started talking to a young couple from California, and found out they were getting off in Athens as well, and i remember reading in my time table book, that i had to switch trains at some point, but i wasn't sure if it was the same for this train because it was a different time train. So we asked a few locals that were on the train and they told us what stop we had to change at and that it would be in about 2 hours. The only problems was we weren't sure if the signs would be in Greek or English.... and they didn't announce stops. so as the time got closer we got all our bags and stuff, just in case we had very little time to get off the train, and started looking out the window to see if we could see a sign for our stop. when the 2 hour mark hit, we arrived at a station with no sign!! we were like do we get off or do we stay on?? We figured cause it was such a small station it would be the one to get a train to Athens. so we stayed on.... as we were standing there wondering if we missed our stop i said to the girl, " i bet you every other person on this train is getting off at the same stop as us and they are all thinking what the hell are these tourists doing, they've been standing for the last 20 mins and they haven't got off at any of the stops we've passed, and she said, "yea and its probably the end of the line." Well we were both right.. we felt like fools but we were happy we didn't miss our stop! we had about 15 mins until the next train. so we grabbed some water and food for the next two hour train ride.
The next train was a lot nicer then the first, it was air conditioned, it announced the stops had lots of room to put our luggage. Before i left Italy i decided not to book a hostel before i arrived in Greece, because the odds of being late were pretty good, and I'm so thankful i didn't book one! by the time i got there i was so tired , and it was hot out, i just wanted to find the closest hostel. i started looking for the hostel i found on the Internet, because it was supposed to be cheap, and in a good location from the city and train station. but because of the crappy street signs, i missed the street i was supposed to take, then as i was walking along i was thinking, the next hostel i see I'm staying at. i turned my head to cross the street and there was a hostel! So that's where i stayed while i was in Athens, it was about a 30 minute walk from the touristy stuff but that was fine by me, it was cheap and the people who owned it were very nice. The only thing was i felt like i was back in south east Asia again, because you couldn't put the toilet paper down the toilet, you had to put it in the garbage. the shower you had to hold the shower head in your hand, there wasn't anything holding it to the wall, and the bathroom had the smell of the bathrooms in south east Asia, not good. but it was good enough for the 4 days i was there.
I was really hungry by the time i got there so i decided to hit the streets to find me some food! as i was walking along the street minding my own business, okay i was looking all touristy with my map in my hand trying to figure out where i was going, and the Greek signs weren't helping! anyway as i made my way around the city, i heard some cars honking at each other, so i look up to see whats going on, and one guy cut off another guy. So they decide instead of just honking and moving along, they have to stop in the middle of the streets, get out of their cars and start yelling at each other, now i have no idea what they were saying cause it was in Greek, but it was fun to watch! then a van pulled up and stopped and blocked my view so i decided it was time to move on. i continued walking, until i see a lady, who by all guesses was probably a hooker, and if she wasn't she sure dressed like one. Anyway she picked up an empty 2L pop bottle, then in what seemed to be an angry walk, dashed over to this, what seemed to me as a random old man and just started smacking him in the head with the pop bottle!! At this point, i decided, I'm probably in a shady area of Athens i should leave now, before she decides she's gonna start hitting random tourist over the head with the pop bottle! Not to far from there i found a awesome Kebab place! it was just what i needed to fill my belly!
The next day i was going to see the sights but i was really tired so i decided to sleep in instead, that way the next day i could get up nice and early and beat the crowds to the sights. so i did what i do best that day, i wandered around all day. it was so hot that day, i ended up sticking my head in a sprinkler as i walked by, that was great for a few mins. I did get the lay of the land, so to speak. i wanted to make sure i knew where i was going the next. i ended up buying a kilo of cherries which were amazing and some bananas.
The next day i was up at the crack of dawn and on my way to see the sights of Athens. My first stop was the Acropolis. You pay 12 euros, and you get into the Acropolis and 6 other archaeological sites. The view from the Acropolis was to die for, you could see all of Athens and then some, even the ocean in the distance. Since i could use my tickets over 4 days i spent the next two days seeing the sights. I saw Temple of Zeus Olympios, Socrates Jail, Hadrian's Library and Hadrian's Arch, the Roman Baths, and so much more! The thing always boggles my mind though, is how do they know what these places looked like, and what they are and who they belonged to! sure some of the sights had a lot there and a lot they put back together, but there were some places that had very few pieces left, and they had pictures of what it looked like and what it was and who it belonged to. it just seemed so crazy to me that people could figure this out.
So after my sight seeing i started thinking about where i was to go next. i was planning on going up to Berlin, Germany, i looked into trains and the ferry i would have to take, and it would have been a solid 48 hours of traveling if i went that way. So i decided to spend a little more money and fly. because the last time i spent that much time traveling i got myself sick, and it was horrible. i was flying with Easy Jet , which ended up being over an hour late, meaning i didn't get into Berlin until after midnight, and i was hoping the trains i had to take to get to my hostel would still be running by the time i got there. when we finally landed i went to pick up my backpack, only to find it with a broken strap, the strap that goes around my waist, the buckle was broken off and part of the strap had been ripped off. there weren't any Easy Jet people around to report this to, as well as i was more worried about getting to the trains before they stopped running. When i got the train station the train i was supposed to take wasn't running, and the guy at the food stall, wouldn't help me, so i went back up stairs to the main part of the station to see if i could find somebody who would help me. and just as i was walking out of the station and random German man, who spoke very little English started talking to me in German and pointing at the buses, after i told him i don't speak German he tried to use the few English words that he knew, but it wasn't helping. so i decided to show him the directions i had written down with the train number on it. and then he understood what i was trying to do. so he showed me where the bus would pull up to, but then he ended up just waiting with me, and talking to the bus driver who spoke very little English as well, and between the three of us we figured out how i could get to my hostel at this hour, and the bus was even free! i had to get off at the next train station and i knew where i wanted to go but i had to buy a ticket. and they only had the machines, and it didn't list the place i wanted to go. so i asked some locals, i wasn't getting any luck with English speaking Germans, but they were trying their best to help me. an older couple waiting for the train were trying to help me and i was trying to ask about the tickets and he just ended up giving me one of his! score! haha it was really nice of him and his wife to help me get on my way, they stayed on the trains with me (we had to switch twice) and when they got off at their stop they told me mine was 8 more stops away. i was so grateful to them, and i knew how to say thank you in German, but for the life of me couldn't remember at the time! so i just said thank you very much, a lot in English. i think they understood. When i got off the train, i must have had the 'im not sure where I'm going look on my face' cause a random guy came up to me and asked if knew where i was going. but when i looked up i could see my hostel on the other side of the train station. so he told me how to get there and i was on my way! by this time tho it was 2 am. and i started thinking while i was on the plane, did i book the hostel for tonight or tomorrow. well i apparently i booked it for the next night but thankfully they had a room, and i could stay in the same room for both nights. i was a little worried about going into the room at 2 am because its a dorm, even though if you stay in a dorm there very good odds of people coming in at all hours. i still felt bad though. but as luck would have it all my roommates were still up and just got in, so i didn't have to feel bad about waking people up.

peace out,
amanda

ps make love not war.

Posted by hankins16 10:50 Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Goodbye Thailand, hello England!

Thailand to England

sunny 38 °C

the last time i wrote i was in Bangkok enjoying Songkran! which was a blast except, my phone and my ipod no longer have working lights in them because they got a little wet during the festival! but they still work so its ok. haha Anyway after the festival was over i left Bangkok via train. and boy was it a long train ride! 15 hours over night, in a third class sitting train! it was me and a few dozen Thai people! i was squished in with a nice Thai family who didn't speak a word of English but the grandpa of the family who had a few drinks because his wife did the pretending to drink a drink motion, was trying very hard to talk to me, and was getting frustrated when i couldn't understand but was super happy when i figured out what he was saying! haha i found it amazing that with the very few Thai words i picked up while i was there and the very few English words he could understand, i managed to tell him how i old i was and he told me how old he was, and i figured out he was asking me where i was going after Thailand and he understood when i told him Europe, then America , then home. but there was other stuff that i just couldn't understand. Also when traveling on a Thai train you'll notice the locals are pros at getting food from outside the train while staying in the train, they know what food is at each stop and when exactly the train is going to stop where. one lady who was i could only assume the daughter of the older man who was talking to me, i think saw the puzzled look on my face when the train stopped and everyone stuck their heads out the window and came back in with food. she bought me coconut ice cream! and they also offered me sticky rice and chicken! i think if you want to understand the Thai people and their culture the best way to do it is to take a 15 hour train ride with the locals. you see first hand how they interact with each other. there was a lady with a baby that didn't know the lady who got me the ice cream but when she sat down, the lady who bought me the ice cream fed the baby sticky rice and it was totally cool with the mum of the baby. I'm not how many places you would see that happen. they're just so close as people you would think they were all one big family! they go out of their way for each other, and even when they get in car accidents they don't yell at each other they laugh it off. I'm not even kidding i saw a taxi and a motorbike crash right into each other the guy on the motor bike was laughing as he limped over to talk to the taxi driver and the taxi driver was laughing as he pointed out the damage on his car!
the Songkran festival was amazing! the locals loved soaking not only each other but the tourists! and they start them off young, there were little kids just barely able to walk with little water guns, that's when i would get down at their level and let them shoot me, their faces would just light up and their parents would give you a grateful smile for making the kids day!
so when i finally arrived in Chiang Mai where the train was headed, i had only a few hours to find my guesthouse, shower and get a hold of the elephant place i was going to see that day. with the help of a few locals i found my guesthouse, but finding an Internet place that was open to get a hold of the elephant place was harder. i finally after 30 mins of walking around found a place open and it was actually cheap with a fast connection. i got a hold of the elephant place and went back to my guesthouse to get ready!
i had about a week to debate whether or not i would ride an elephant. i took a class in college called Eco tourism, where we touched on the idea green tourism, things like whale watching, trekking in forest. things that seem ok to do and wont really hurt nature and the earth but there are big debates on whether it should be done or not because in whale watching the boats get to close to whales and can kill them and people want to touch the whales. so we had this big debate on to touch or not to touch. at the time of the class i really didn't give it much thought to be honest. But then when i thought about riding an elephant, i started to look into it and you would be surprised at how many of these places are so cruel to the elephants. and its even more surprising that they would be like that in Thailand because in Thailand the elephant is worshiped by the Thai people, you see them everywhere in some shape or form. but yet they treat them so badly that they re endangered over here now. So after thinking about that and being reminded by a friend about the whole to touch or not to touch thing i opted out of the elephant riding, but i still wanted to see them and get up close and personal with them. i did some research online and found a place called the Elephant Nature Park. it was started by a lady, who wanted to help all the elephants that were being mistreated through logging, street begging, and tourist attractions. she doesn't discourage people from going to these places because she said they are her neighbours, and she wouldn't disrespect them like that. but she does ask people to look into places before going to them and see how the elephants are treated. This nature park has 34 elephants now all except the one that was actually born on the day i went were saved from a life of torture and pain. they have lots of land which they can roam on at any time except night, because there is a banana plant very close by and they would get in a lot of trouble if they were to steal the bananas from there haha.
The day starts out by a hour bus ride to the Park while watching a video on how the place got started, then we arrive at the Park and get introduced to the elephants followed by a feeding time, and bath time with the elephants where you actually get to go in the river with these wonderful creatures and scrub them down and throw water on them. then we had a huge Thai buffet lunch, which was amazing! then there was another feeding and bath time, we got to see the new elephant born that day but she was very protected by two bigger elephants that were with her. we had free time just to wonder around and take pictures of the elephants, and ask questions and learn more about the elephants. it was an amazing day that i will never forget and I'm so glad i chose not to ride the elephants but instead this great experience.
After the Elephant park i spent another day in Chiang Mai, just so i could actually get some sleep and not have to worry about getting up early for a bus or train. But the following day i did get up early to catch a bus to the Laos border. As you all know because of the tuk tuk accident i had to go back to Thailand, and because of that my visa got messed up and my flight was booked for after my visa expired and i couldn't change it so i had to do what they call a visa run, where i crossed the border for a day into the North part of Laos and stayed over night so when i went back to Thailand the next day i would get a new free 15 day visa that would allow me to stay longer in Thailand, without having to pay extra. Plus the baguettes in Laos are to die for! so on the day i was leaving i got three for the road! and they were yummy!
And the border i crossed at was actually a water crossing, so you take a boat across the river to get to Laos and back to Thailand, its much more enjoyable then a land crossing, although i was nervous standing up in the long tail boats with my backpack on when getting out because the boats are so skinny, when you step to one side the whole boat tips! but i managed not to fall into the water thankfully!
after a few more buses i finally arrived back in Bangkok! this time i stayed in the Backpacker area, lots of great cheap food and its just a fun atmosphere! i spent my last night in Bangkok wondering Koh San road, while drinking coconut shakes (which i miss very much!) and i love Kebabs now, you know the pitas stuffed with fresh meat craved off those spinning rotisseries, i believe its a Turkish kebab. so so yummy! and as much as hot stuff makes my eyes water i still eat it cause it tastes so good! i very much loved the Lamb ones.
Speaking of Lamb its one of the many things I've tried so far on my trip, i also had kangaroo, deer and duck! all which were very tasty! plus other random stuff in Thailand, that i don't know the names of because it got to the point where i stopped asking what stuff was and just tried it if it looked good! its pretty much the best way to do it in Thailand, unless you're a vegetarian, cause then you're pretty much screwed haha.
My flight left Bangkok for Mumbai around 1am on the 25th of April. i arrived fairly early cause i hate cutting stuff so close. so once i found out which counter i had to go to for my flight i went to get my boarding pass and the line was HUGE! and since i was going to India, i didn't really fit in, in the line. Even one of the airport staff asked me if i was in the right line! And the reason the line was so long was because every other person had a huge flat screen TV to check in... I'm not even kidding you! when i finally got closer to the front one of the members of the airline asked me if i had pants because i was wearing shorts at the time, and at first i was thrown of guard and i said "no, well in my bag i do." and he said oh ok. and i stood there for a second and was thinking maybe it has something to do with cause I'm flying to India and i have to cover up sorta of thing, and that made me a little angry and if that was the reason i wasn't going to be doing it, so i turned to the guy again and said "why do you want to know if i have pants?" and he said " cause my boss wants to upgrade you to business class free of charge but you have to be wearing pants cause its business class"
now whether this was true or not, a free upgrade to business class sounded good to me! so i told him to give me two minutes and i would go change! and i was happy i did! i love business class! haha so much space and food and drinks all the time! But i have to say I'm pretty sure i figured out the real reason they moved me to business class, when the only other white person on the plane happened to be sitting right next to me!
Things did get a little confusing at the Mumbai airport because i didn't have a visa so i had to be taken by a member of stuff to many different places until they figured out what to do with me. i had to go through security, to get into the departure lounge. where i slept for a few hours, until a different member of staff told me what was going on. and at this point i had already been in the airport for 6 hours and i was getting a little hungry but they only took rupees (Indian money) and the money exchange place wouldn't exchange money unless i had a Indian passport (don' ask me why, even the guy who worked in the airport was confused by this) so i asked the guy who got my boarding pass sorted out what i should do cause i was starving and i didn't want to spend 10 US dollars on a bag of chocolate. so he actually bought me a meal! i couldn't believe it, he was so nice, and actually apologized for all the hassle i had to go threw just to get a connecting flight! hours later i was finally on my way to London!
i was back in economy again, boo to that but luck would have it that my TV screen wasn't working so they moved me up to business class again! yay!! i swear i need to be rich so i can fly in business class all the time! haha
I'm staying in a town called Watford with a friend i met in Australia, while i was there. I've just been taking in the tourist sights for the last almost two weeks. I've been into London a few times, one of my favourite cities in the world! and i have to say I'm a pro on the tube (their underground) now. i even figured out how to get around when one of the lines wasn't running, just takes time and its the easiest way to travel in London! i went to the Warwick Castle, also visited the one and only University of Oxford. i also went to Hatfield House (Elizabeth I's original home) where i managed to break park of the garden yay me! haha but no worries i didn't get in any trouble.
i finally got to see London at night, the first time i was here we never ventured out at night, probably because we were only 18 at the time and nervous about it. London is even more spectacular at night all lit up! its too bad that its still a little chilly here or i would have stayed down there longer, but it was starting to feel like winter so i called it a night early but i did get some great photos.
i took the train up to Liverpool from London, while i was on the train i met an older lady and a guy around my age from Liverpool and they were telling me all about Liverpool what i should see what it's like. and Scott the guy offered to take me on a walking tour of the city and recommended i do the Magical Mystery Tour. Which is a Beatles tour and although i wouldnt call myself a fan of the Beatles i figured it would be worth while considering it is the home of the Beatles. and im so glad i did it because it was amazing! the guide knew so much and had lots of random information, and was funny. he was also in the most recent John Lennon movie put out by NBC playing John's best friend. Liverpool is another city that i just loved! People are actually really friendly there but of course like any city there are people you wouldnt want to talk to. i ended up staying for a week, my original plan was just to stay for three days but then i decided i would base myself there and take day trips to other places. One day i went to Blackpool, to the amusement park, Pleasure Beach, it was a cold day for rides, but i made sure i did everyone that was open! Another day i went to Chester City which is a nice little walled city, but it was a rainy day so there wasnt much to do!
The day before i left i went to Brimingham, to Cadbury World! it was excellent, it took over 3 hours to see everything! and i got a few free chocolate bars as well as chocolate in its liquid form with popcorn! yummy stuff!
Next up Ireland, France and Italy! :)

Peace out,
Amanda

ps make love not war.

Posted by hankins16 19:55 Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Laos....

A brush with death...and a whole lot more. cause im a slacker...

overcast 14 °C

I crossed the border from Cambodia to Laos on the 30th of March. the border crossing was something... i left Cambodia and walked into Laos, there was 2 border guards and one of those parking garage gates. i had bought a ticket for a bus that would actually take me into Laos, so i had to just sit and wait for that to arrive. once it did i took that bus to get a boat to the island i was planning on staying at for a few days. they seemed very confused with where i was going cause it wasnt the same place as everyone else was going. but after a few minutes they seemed to figured it out. so after everyone else got dropped off i stayed on the boat to get to the next island. well it didnt seem to take very long to get there, and i was thinking this isnt the right island. so i asked the guy if it was the island i had on my ticket, i even showed him to make sure he didnt get confused. and he said yes so get off and there was a guy with a motor bike there waiting to see if i wanted a ride to a guesthouse, so i asked him what island we were on and of course i was the wrong one! i was so pissed of at that point because i was so sick of being ripped off in Cambodia. i found the nearest guesthouse from where i was. checked in then went on a hunt to find the cheapest way off the island. in the middle i stopped for a coconut shake cause i love them. anyway i finally found a place that had good prices for a bus up to Pakse (it included a boat to the main land). so i enjoyed the rest of the day on the island, and was happy to be starting my Laos adventure the next day. People went on about the 4 thousand island and the waterfalls, but to me it was just another beach, and there were waterfalls up near Pakse that were supposed to be amazing anyway. so i wasnt to bothered about leaving the islands without really seeing anything.
when i finally got to Pakse, i found the cheapest guesthouse to stay in and i was actually happy to be staying in a dorm, because i wouldnt be alone in a room. just outside of the town there is a place called Bolaven Plateau, where there is supposed to be amazing waterfalls and trekking. i was at an Internet place and i was talking to a girl from Spain about going to see them and she said the best and cheapest way to see them was by motor bike. so i asked if she would be willing to drive and we could split the cost. she agreed and the next day we set out to see the sights. The first waterfall we went to is where we ended up spending the day. we started talking to the owners of the Guesthouse near the waterfall and they offered to take us trekking. it was three guys from Thailand, and two little boys who where 13 and 8. they were our guides and they knew the area better then anyone! We saw amazing waterfalls from both the top and bottom! we trekked for 3 hours and it was amazing! we were walking across rivers over trees that had fallen. Everything was so natural cause it hasn't been hit by tourist yet. and our guides were even picking up garbage along the way. After our trek we were invited to stay for lunch. We had deer
strew that they had just kill that morning. (yes i know poor Bambi), but it was delicious! The evening Thio (the girl from Spain) was talking to a couple from Australia who had bought a tuk tuk and needed someone to drive it back
up north so i said i would go with her but i wasn't driving because it was manual. so all we had to do is pay for petrol. we left a day later, it started out as a big adventure, people loved seeing the tuk tuk and waving at us like we were famous. on the third day we were headed to come caves that were about half way to our destination. as
we were going down the girl the engine cut out, i think. at first i thought it would be ok we could just coast. but then Thio couldn't break, the breaks had stopped working and we started picking up speed. i knew in my gut we were gonna crash, when Thio lost control of the tuk tuk i could feel it starting to tip, so i grabbed the bar above my
head and pulled myself up as the tuk tuk hit the ground. This is how i hurt my shoulder. when the tuk tuk stopped sliding i was about to put my feet down when i realized that Thio would be under me. so i looked down to see her leg was pinned under the tuk tuk. i lowered myself to the ground and tried to lift the tuk tuk but it was no good, it was to heavy. when i went to lift myself out of the tuk tuk, is when i realized i hurt my shoulder because i had trouble lifting myself up. but i tried again and got out. we were in the middle of no where and i wasn't sure how long it would be until the next car came by. i started running down the hill because there had been a car in front of us. but as i started running i could hear a car coming down the hill, so with my legs feeling like jelly i ran back up and started screaming "help!" and flagged down a van. a truck coming up the hill had stopped as well. we tried lifting the tuk tuk again but couldn't get it to move until they got a pole out of the truck and got it under the tuk tuk.
after we got Thio out, i had to get all our stuff from the back of the tuk tuk, because i didn't know how far we would have to go to get help and our stuff might not be there when we got back. the family then took us in there van, at first i was thinking where are they going to take us? we're in the middle of no where... we first stopped in a little village, at what looked like a little motel and i was thinking "oh god this cant be good" but we were just dropping off the food that was in the van. i was starting to worry though because Thio's leg was cut open pretty bad. They ended up taking us to a hydro plant that had a small clinic. they just cleaned up Thio's leg and sent us back 200kms to the nearest "hospital" where no one spoke English, they ignored me cause i wasn't bleeding, i had to get my insurance to translate to them that i needed to see a doctor. which i didnt get to see, they just x-rayed my shoulder. Thio was in a room with 12 other people, her leg was bleeding all night long. i was starting to worry that she was losing too much blood, and thinking we need to get to a real hospital. i slept on the floor, outside on the balcony, it actually looked cleaner then the floors inside. a guy gave me a blanket to sleep on and i already had a travel pillow. two older ladies who i guess had family inside stayed up for a few hours with me teaching me how to speak Lao. and i was teaching them English and we got into Christmas some how and i was trying to explain Santa to them, and i just happened to have a Santa hat in my bag (thanks auntie Karen) and i showed them and they understood, i ended up letting one of them keep it as well. that made her happy. the next day we had to fight to get an ambulance to take us to Thailand. We ended up at a hospital just across the border from Laos in northern Thailand. we spent 7 hours in the ER just waiting. the nurses took a liking to me though. i think its because i kept asking them questions about stuff in the ER. first i asked them if i could weigh myself, then when i put on a Stethoscope they called me "dr amanda". one of them asked me if i wanted to take a bath and i said no, cause i was just too tired, but after she asked me about 3 times i was starting to worry that i smelled that bad so i decided to shower. they gave me hot coffee, and cold water. then as they sent us off in the ambulance they gave us fried rice and it was yummy! 8 hours later, and a horrible sleep in an ambulance we arrived in Bangkok, Bumrungrad International Hospital. I had a doctor check out my shoulder, i have a muscle strain and contusion of my left shoulder. I went to Physio for 5 days and it helped a lot but carrying my bag hasnt really helped it.
While i was recovering in Bangkok Songkran festival was happening (Thai new year). It was great fun! its pretty much just a 3 day water fight! you get soaked no matter where you are, i even got soaked on a bus! they throw water in threw the windows! and they rub baby powder on your face, either the way it is or they make it into a paste! and the locals loved soaking not only each other but the tourists! and they start them off young, there were little kids just barely able to walk with little water guns, that's when i would get down at their level and let them shoot me, their faces would just light up and their parents would smile for making the kids day!
After that i took a 15 hour third class sitting train up to Chaing Mai! it was me and a few dozen Thai people! i was squished in with a nice Thai family who didn't speak a word of English but the grandpa of the family who had a few drinks because his wife did the pretending to drink a drink motion, was trying very hard to talk to me, and was getting frustrated when i couldn't understand but was super happy when i figured out what he was saying! haha i found it amazing that with the very few Thai words i picked up while i was there and the very few English words he could understand, i managed to tell him how i old i was and he told me how old he was, and i figured out he was asking me where i was going after Thailand and he understood when i told him Europe, then America , then home. but there was other stuff that i just couldn't understand. Also when traveling on a Thai train you'll notice the locals are pros at getting food from outside the train while staying in the train, they know what food is at each stop and when exactly the train is going to stop where. one lady who was i could only assume the daughter of the older man who was talking to me, i think saw the puzzled look on my face when the train stopped and everyone stuck their heads out the window and came back in with food. she bought me coconut ice cream! and they also offered me sticky rice and chicken! i think if you want to understand the Thai people and their culture the best way to do it is to take a 15 hour train ride with the locals. you see first hand how they interact with each other. there was a lady with a baby that didn't know the lady who got me the ice cream but when she sat down, the lady who bought me the ice cream fed the baby sticky rice and it was totally cool with the mum of the baby. I'm not how many places you would see that happen. they're just so close as people you would think they were all one big family! they go out of their way for each other, and even when they get in car accidents they don't yell at each other they laugh it off. I'm not even kidding i saw a taxi and a motorbike crash right into each other the guy on the motor bike was laughing as he limped over to talk to the taxi driver and the taxi driver was laughing as he pointed out the damage on his car!
so when i finally arrived in Chiang Mai where the train was headed, i had only a few hours to find my guesthouse, shower and get a hold of the elephant place i was going to see that day. with the help of a few locals i found my guesthouse, but finding an Internet place that was open to get a hold of the elephant place was harder. i finally after 30 mins of walking around found a place open and it was actually cheap with a fast connection. i got a hold of the elephant place and went back to my guesthouse to get ready!
i had about a week to debate whether or not i would ride an elephant. i took a class in college called Eco tourism, where we touched on the idea green tourism, things like whale watching, trekking in forest. things that seem ok to do and wont really hurt nature and the earth but there are big debates on whether it should be done or not because in whale watching the boats get to close to whales and can kill them and people want to touch the whales. so we had this big debate on to touch or not to touch. at the time of the class i really didn't give it much thought to be honest. But then when i thought about riding an elephant, i started to look into it and you would be surprised at how many of these places are so cruel to the elephants. and its even more surprising that they would be like that in Thailand because in Thailand the elephant is worshiped by the Thai people, you see them everywhere in some shape or form. but yet they treat them so badly that they re endangered over here now. So after thinking about that and being reminded by a friend about the whole to touch or not to touch thing i opted out of the elephant riding, but i still wanted to see them and get up close and personal with them. i did some research online and found a place called the Elephant Nature Park. it was started by a lady, who wanted to help all the elephants that were being mistreated through logging, street begging, and tourist attractions. she doesn't discourage people from going to these places because she said they are her neighbours, and she wouldn't disrespect them like that. but she does ask people to look into places before going to them and see how the elephants are treated. This nature park has 34 elephants now all except the one that was actually born on the day i went were saved from a life of torture and pain. they have lots of land which they can roam on at any time except night, because there is a banana plant very close by and they would get in a lot of trouble if they were to steal the bananas from there haha.
The day starts out by a hour bus ride to the Park while watching a video on how the place got started, then we arrive at the Park and get introduced to the elephants followed by a feeding time, and bath time with the elephants where you actually get to go in the river with these wonderful creatures and scrub them down and throw water on them. then we had a huge Thai buffet lunch, which was amazing! then there was another feeding and bath time, we got to see the new elephant born that day but she was very protected by two bigger elephants that were with her. we had free time just to wonder around and take pictures of the elephants, and ask questions and learn more about the elephants. it was an amazing day that i will never forget and I'm so glad i chose not to ride the elephants but instead this great experience.
After the Elephant park i spentt another day in Chiang Mai, just so i could actually get some sleep and not have to worry about getting up early for a bus or train. But the following day i did get up early to catch a bus to the Laos border. As you all know because of the tuk tuk accident i had to go back to Thailand, and because of that my visa got messed up and my flight was booked for after my visa expired and i couldn't change it so i had to do what they call a visa run, where i crossed the border for a day into the North part of Laos and stayed over night so when i went back to Thailand the next day i would get a new free 15 day visa that would allow me to stay longer in Thailand, without having to pay extra. Plus the baguettes in Laos are to die for! so on the day i was leaving i got three for the road! and they were yummy!
And the border i crossed at was actually a water crossing, so you take a boat across the river to get to Laos and back to Thailand, its much more enjoyable then a land crossing, although i was nervous standing up in the long tail boats with my backpack on when getting out because the boats are so skinny, when you step to one side the whole boat tips! but i managed not to fall into the water thankfully!
after a few more buses i finally arrived back in Bangkok! this time i stayed in the Backpacker area, lots of great cheap food and its just a fun atmosphere! i spent my last night in Bangkok wondering Koh San road, while drinking coconut shakes (which i miss very much!) and i love Kebabs now, you know the pitas stuffed with fresh meat craved off those spinning rotisseries, i believe its a Turkish kebab. so so yummy! and as much as hot stuff makes my eyes water i still eat it cause it tastes so good! i very much loved the Lamb ones.
Speaking of Lamb its one of the many things I've tried so far on my trip, i also had kangaroo, deer and duck! all which were very tasty! plus other random stuff in Thailand, that i don't know the names of because it got to the point where i stopped asking what stuff was and just tried it if it looked good! its pretty much the best way to do it in Thailand.
After the Elephant park i spentt another day in Chiang Mai, just so i could actually get some sleep and not have to worry about getting up early for a bus or train. But the following day i did get up early to catch a bus to the Laos border. As you all know because of the tuk tuk accident i had to go back to Thailand, and because of that my visa got messed up and my flight was booked for after my visa expired and i couldn't change it so i had to do what they call a visa run, where i crossed the border for a day into the North part of Laos and stayed over night so when i went back to Thailand the next day i would get a new free 15 day visa that would allow me to stay longer in Thailand, without having to pay extra. Plus the baguettes in Laos are to die for! so on the day i was leaving i got three for the road! and they were yummy!
And the border i crossed at was actually a water crossing, so you take a boat across the river to get to Laos and back to Thailand, its much more enjoyable then a land crossing, although i was nervous standing up in the long tail boats with my backpack on when getting out because the boats are so skinny, when you step to one side the whole boat tips! but i managed not to fall into the water thankfully!
after a few more buses i finally arrived back in Bangkok! this time i stayed in the Backpacker area, lots of great cheap food and its just a fun atmosphere! i spent my last night in Bangkok wondering Koh San road, while drinking coconut shakes (which i miss very much!) and i love Kebabs now, you know the pitas stuffed with fresh meat craved off those spinning rotisseries, i believe its a Turkish kebab. so so yummy! and as much as hot stuff makes my eyes water i still eat it cause it tastes so good! i very much loved the Lamb ones.
Speaking of Lamb its one of the many things I've tried so far on my trip, i also had kangaroo, deer and duck! all which were very tasty! plus other random stuff in Thailand, that i don't know the names of because it got to the point where i stopped asking what stuff was and just tried it if it looked good! its pretty much the best way to do it in Thailand, unless you're a vegetarian, cause then you're pretty much screwed haha.
My flight left Bangkok for Mumbai around 1am on the 25th of April. i arrived fairly early cause i hate cutting stuff so close. so once i found out which counter i had to go to for my flight i went to get my boarding pass and the line was HUGE! and since i was going to India, i didn't really fit in, in the line. Even one of the airport staff asked me if i was in the right line! And the reason the line was so long was because every other person had a huge flat screen TV to check in... I'm not even kidding you! when i finally got closer to the front one of the members of the airline asked me if i had pants because i was wearing shorts at the time, and at first i was thrown of guard and i said "no, well in my bag i do." and he said oh ok. and i stood there for a second and was thinking maybe it has something to do with cause I'm flying to India and i have to cover up sorta of thing, and that made me a little angry and if that was the reason i wasn't going to be doing it, so i turned to the guy again and said "why do you want to know if i have pants?" and he said " cause my boss wants to upgrade you to business class free of charge but you have to be wearing pants cause its business class"
now whether this was true or not, a free upgrade to business class sounded good to me! so i told him to give me two minutes and i would go change! and i was happy i did! i love business class! haha so much space and food and drinks all the time! But i have to say I'm pretty sure i figured out the real reason they moved me to business class, when the only other white person on the plane happened to be sitting right next to me!
Things did get a little confusing at the Mumbai airport because i didn't have a visa so i had to be taken by a member of stuff to many different places until they figured out what to do with me. i had to go through security, to get into the departure lounge. where i slept for a few hours, until a different member of staff told me what was going on. and at this point i had already been in the airport for 6 hours and i was getting a little hungry but they only took rupees (Indian money) and the money exchange place wouldn't exchange money unless i had a Indian passport (don' ask me why, even the guy who worked in the airport was confused by this) so i asked the guy who got my boarding pass sorted out what i should do cause i was starving and i didn't want to spend 10 US dollars on a bag of chocolate. so he actually bought me a meal! i couldn't believe it, he was so nice, and actually apologized for all the hassle i had to go threw just to get a connecting flight! hours later i was finally on my way to London!
i was back in economy again, boo to that but luck would have it that my TV screen wasn't working so they moved me up to business class again! yay!! i swear i need to be rich so i can fly in business class all the time! haha

next up is the UK :)

Peace out,
Amanda

Ps make love not war.

pps ive been traveling for almost 9 months now!! :)

Posted by hankins16 23:33 Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Japan, Sweat, and Coke.... oh and life i guess.

sunny 37 °C

Well since i havent written about Japan i should probably do that. i was there for a week. most expensive week of my trip so far :S but i think it was worth every penny... or yen i guess i should say. Anyway we got ourselves a East Japan Rail Pass for 5 days. it was a bit expensive but we made use of it let me tell ya. one day we spent about an hour riding between two stations... i wish i could say we did it just for fun but we just kept picking the wrong train to get on. but no worries we finally found our way. haha we also managed to sneak onto the subway by accident.... thankfully we didnt get in any trouble, when we tried to get out. I have to say i cant wait to get back to Japan in the short week that we were there we did as much as we possibly could but it still wasnt enough. i will for sure go back one day, but the next time i will bring a lot more money and stay longer! While we were there we went to a lot of temples and shrines. We went to Harajuku, that was something, the people dress up like whatever they want to. There was a guy holding a sign that said "free hugs" im pretty sure while you were getting your free hug he would be taking something from your pockets.... just a thought tho. there were also guys there dressed up like Danny from Grease and dance around the Elvis music. If you're ever in Japan its worth seeing at least once. We hit China town as well, it was packed like every other China town in the world, and street vendors were lined up with great treats to sell you. One night we had dinner at a restaurant where we got to sit on the floor, that was a good experience. We also got very drunk and went to a karaoke bar...i shouldnt be singing in front of people and i already knew that but when im drunk it doesnt matter! haha
I flew into Thailand by myself because me and Kaitlyn couldnt get seats on the same flight. i ended up sitting in premium economy class... which is just a step up from economy but it was awesome! it felt like first class to me!
So anyway i landed in Bangkok around 4pm but Kaitlyns flight didnt land until almost mid night so i waited around the airport until her flight got in....
Bangkok was crazy busy... but some great food for cheap prices!! you can get a meal for only a dollar Canadian! We only spent a few days in Bangkok did some shopping, then we took a train down south... a very dirty train. it was an over night train and sleeping in the top bunks is an... experience. there is a chance you may roll right off but they have something there to stop you. We took the train to Krabi, then a bus then a boat over to Phi Phi island.
Phi Phi is just a big party island... it was an expensive island. we spent a few days there then headed to Koh Lanta island! i spent 10 days just relaxing... sitting on the beach reading in a hammock. oh man was it great! and i had the best coconut shakes ever there! it was great!
i then took a boat to Phuket! to me it was just another city, i just spent two days there looking around taking in the city and trying the street food. they have some great night markets there! after that i took a bus back to Bangkok. did some more shopping and people watching.
i have to say ive never sweat so much in my life since ive been in Thailand. i stood in a phone booth for about 10 mins talking to my parents and i was soaked by the time i got out of there, it just crazy. i think i lost 5 pounds just from the times ive had to stand in the phones booths!
I love Coke... i dont know why. i pretty much stopped drinking it for at least before i left home but now its become one of my favourite things to drink! and drinking it out of a glass bottle seems to make it taste that much better!! Weirdo i know i am but it's so good!
My next adventure was to Cambodia.... and it has been the my lowest point of my trip and almost my breaking point.
I took a train from Bangkok to the city that borders Cambodia i cant remember the name right now... i then took a tuk tuk to the border. and so far everything was good. it was around 6pm when i got there and i had read that the border was only open till 5pm but i thought i was lucky when i found out it was open until 8pm.... i crossed the border just fine. i had pretty much arranged my ride to Siem Reap, so all that was left to do was find a guesthouse to stay the night in Poipet, becuase i didnt want to leave that night becuase i would have arrived in Siem Reap late at night. looking back i should have went, but should have could have would have's wont change anything now. so i get a room at a guesthouse... lock both locks on the door, i had to charge my camera so i took it out and left it on my bed beside me while the battery charged. the plugs were on the wall at the foot of my bed so i had my battery in one and my ipod in the other. when i woke up in the morning my camera was gone... there was horrible music playing really loud in the street, that made me want to kill myself.... so while i was freaking out about my camera i have this god awful music making my ears bleed. i look over where my ipod is supposed to be, and its gone, but then i look down and it had fallen in the garbage can (personally i think it jumped, suicide, because of the music).
what probably happened, cause ill never know the truth, is the windows had bars on them but i didnt know that the glass and the screen could just slide open, so whoever stole my camera must have put something threw the window and hooked it. and i think they may have tried for my ipod but dropped it. i cant tell you how crushed i was, i had over a 1000 pictures from the last few months on the memory card that was in my camera. i wanted to pack up my bags and go home. i was 12 hours into this country and i already wanted to leave... after that i couldnt look at another local without thinking "are you going to steal from me?" still thinking about it makes me sad, and upset but ive just been trying to put it in the past and move on. i bought a new camera in Phnom Penh, so ive started building up the memories again.
I did cut my time down in Cambodia... i did want i wanted to... see Angkor Wat and the Killing Fields and S-21. They are must sees in Cambodia. i did 3 days for the temples but one day is really enough. i got to see everything but i was templed out by the time i left. i spent 2 days getting to the Laos border because they dont tell you that the bus to the border stops in a town 2 hours from the border and you have to stay over night. then the next day you get a bus to the border and if you havent arranged transpo after that youre kinda stuck. because the Laos/Cambodia border crossing there is pretty remote. you walk about 5 mins down the road from where you leave Cambodia to where you enter Laos.. and all you can see is dirt road. i ended up getting a bus to somewhere...i dont even know then a boat to Don Khon... not by choice of course... they where supposed to bring me to Don Kong... so i only stayed there a day then made my way up to Pakse.... where my life flashed before my eyes....
to be continued....

Peace out,
Amanda

Ps Make love not war.

Posted by hankins16 05:08 Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Toilets....

sunny 35 °C

Ok people ive been traveling for just over 6 months now and i feel the need to share my toilet experinces with you.
dont worry im not going to go into details about pooing and peeing, well ok maybe i am but it wont be as bad as you think.
the first different toilet i experienced was in Australia now this isnt a big deal of course just a different toilet that must be included on the list. In Oz they have half and full flush toilets to save water of course and dont bother asking me which way the water flushes cause i dont have a clue... it sorta splashes all in the middle then gets sucked down.
So i would say the first 5 months of my travels was very good when it comes to toilets. Just gotta make sure you use the full flush when you go number two.
i got a book before i left called "how to shit around the world" so yes i was aware of the different kinds of toilets and that are around the world and i thought reading this book would at least take away some of the shock....
When i landed in Tokyo, Japan i pretty much forgot about different toilets until we were waiting at the airport and i had to pee... and as i started walking toward the bathroom i thought oh shit, there may not be toilets in there... at least the ones im used to....
so when i opened the stall door i was a little surprised to find what i found. yes it was a toilet looked every bit like the ones we have at home... except with a whole lot more buttons.. yes buttons. so i did my business and thought ok how to do i flush this thing? i saw and button, that said splash, one that said bidet, one that said water pressure, and the last said flush sound. now im standing there thinking what the hell? so push the flush sound one and it is exactly what it says... the sound of a toilet flushing. but it did not flush the toilet. now at this point im starting to get a little panicked...i'm not sure how long i stood there over the toilet trying to figure out how to flush it... and i couldnt leave without flushing it thats just wrong and i hate when people dont flush the friggen toilet its not that hard of a thing to do ( in most cases). so im standing there thinking what the hell do i do? but then i decided maybe i should check behind the toilet seat lid... yup felt like a retard after that but its a funny story to tell.
My next experience was when i was a little tipsy... never a good thing to try peeing in a different type of toilet when you're having trouble walking. but you only live once right? haha so this one was pretty much a hole in the ground but flushed.... it was sorta on a slant... so it wasnt totally on the ground... just like a really low toilet. im happy to say i didnt fall in and i didnt pee on myself.
So i figured after that, this whole squatting thing would be a breeze for me. pfft not when the whole is right on the ground. now this time i was at the Tokyo Subway station and i was dying to go pee so i ran into the bathroom and most toilets have "western toilets" the ones at home then the squatting ones.... so i ran in first stall squatting... well turns out they were all squating but they were all the ones that were right on the ground... so i ran into one of the stalls... at this point im not sure if im gonna make it or pee my pants.... but going through my head were the thoughts what if stuff falls out of my pocket? what if i pee on my pants? what if i fall in? damn it! im taking off my pants! stripped down and was never so happy to pee! so thats my solution.. .just take my pants off and its easy as pie....
Well after that experience i figure ok for sure there cant be anymore surprises when it comes to toilets.... haha right that would be to easy. My next experience, the toilet on the train from Bangkok to Krabi, Thailand.....
i knew as soon as i walked into this bathroom the pants were coming off.... it was a stainless steel hole in the ground... with a plat form with a spot for each foot... my balance was tested here... now using this toilet would have been hard enough on solid ground but i was in a moving train... not a very smooth ride. i was banging of those walls in this small box they called a washroom... trying to keep from slipping off and landing in this hole or on the floor for that matter it was so dirty. But again i managed to keep the pee in the toilet and off me! haha by this time im thinking "god i hope it doesnt get worse then this"
We arrive in Koh Lanta after being on Phi Phi island for a few days... the big thing there was they dont put toilet paper in the washrooms... .they have a hose... so you can wash yourself down... but my question is, as much as they may work how do you dry yourself? do you just squat over the toilet for a few minutes and air dry?
Well it works when youre drunk cause you dont really know whats going on anyway... but i prefered getting a roll of toilet paper from 7/11 instead... much faster this way.
So in Koh Lanta we stayed at a nice little place on the beach... in a bungalow as they call it but more like a hut... and the bathroom is attached... well closed in on the back of your hut but its outside... the shower is no big deal... but the toilet was just sorta sitting there in the middle of the "bathroom" but we noticed quickly there was no flushing thing... but what we did notice was a huge bucket of water beside the toilet with a little bucket inside... so we had a toilet we had to flush by dumping water down it... boy was i not looking forward to taking a poo on that sucker....
im not sure about everyone else but im a big fan of actually sitting down on toilets when i go poo and you know what? i wasnt planning on sitting down on that toilet....bugs and stuff.... didnt really feel clean to me.
Im now in Phuket and when i arrived at my hostel and saw a flushing toilet inside the first thought that popped into my head was "im so looking forward to taking a poo later!"

i hope you have all enjoyed my thoughts on the toilets ive experienced so far.... if it was too much information for some of you, well that sucks but i thought it was a need to know sorta thing haha.
peace out,

Amanda

ps. make love not war.

Posted by hankins16 02:05 Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

New Zealand...

vineyards, passion pop, culture, sky diving and bungy jumping!! :D

rain 20 °C

Holy crap its been way too long since my last blog but let me tell you the last two months have been just crazy and awesome!
We flew into New Zealand (land of the Kiwi's; the bird, fruit and of course the awesome people) on December 3rd from Melbourne, Australia. When we first arrived i was in the first stages of getting sick... i could feel it coming on and hoped it wasn't a sign of what was to come in New Zealand! We were greeted at the airport by Kaitlyn's Aunt and Uncle, it was so great to have someone there to pick us up! its what i miss most when i get off planes now.. we've been on a lot of planes in the last 5 months. We had planned on looking for jobs the next day but seeing as i was sick we took the weekend off... we went out on the job hunt monday but because it was so close to Christmas already everyone had hired there seasonal staff already... It sucked cause we needed money but we decided since we had free accommodation we would just try to see as much of the North Island as we could. Oh we flew into Auckland and were staying in Albany. After job hunting for a week, and no results, Kailtyn's aunt and uncle took us on a little road trip! We stayed in a "Batch" (a cottage), in a place called Pauanui... we explored around the area, had out first try of Hokey Pokey ice cream!! Delicious stuff! The we climbed a moutain, the Pauanui Summit, holy crap am i out of shape! although we did the track in almost half the time i thought i was going to die! After that we hit hot water beach! Pretty cool stuff,or should i say hot stuff! You can dig a hole on the beach and the water under it can be boiling hot! you have to find just the right place so you can sit in it and it feels like youre in a hot tub, even though the water in the ocean is freezing! Then we made our way up to the Coromandel Peninsula, where we went on this cute liltte train that was built by a guy as a hobbie, and he only opened it to the public because he owed money to the bank and the bank manager encourged him to do so. http://www.drivingcreekrailway.co.nz/Introduction.cfm
We spent the next few weeks just hanging out in the area we were living, one day i spent 5 hours just walking around it was great!
The weekend before Christmas me and Kaitlyn decided to take a road trip! We rented a car and got to drive on the wrong side of the road! (wrong side for us anyway haha) but we found it to be a lot easier to drive down in New Zealand then back home... roundabouts are a lot better then 4 way stops! We drove just over 2 hours to the Waitomo Caves, where we did black water rafting and got to see the Glow Worms! it was just amazing although the water was freezing in the caves, but we got soup and bagels and a hot shower at the end, so it was all good!
After that we drove for a few more hours to Rotorua. The next day, we had planned to go to the SKyline Luge for some good fun.... fun for me anyway... Kaitlyn wasnt to sure, and after drilling the guy selling the tickets for 10 minutes about saftey and the odd of her going off the track and dying we finally got into the Gondola to ascend the moutain! I dont remember exactly how long it took to get up but it was a nice peaceful ride. Once we hit the top we got geared up to ride the Luges! i did all three tracks cause i was having a blast! Kaitlyn just did one, just to say she did it then she spent the rest of the time looking around. Now when i say luge its pretty much like a little go-kart that runs on gravity... there are 3 tracks each one increases in difficulty, they become more steep and shaper turns but theyre all great fun! We then went back down the Gondola and headed over to Whakarewarewa "the thermal village". It's so amazing to see how the Maori people used to live and how some still do... one big family! They cook their food in the ground (and it tastes amazing!) and some is cooked in hot pools. There was active Geysers there and the mud pools were just awesome to see!
I wasnt really sure if i wanted to go to the Hangi dinner cause i really wanted to go Zorbing instead... but a pretty smat person said to me... "this is a world trip, and if you dont experience the culture then whats the point?"
So later that day we went to a Maori culture show and Hangi dinner (the food was cooked in the ground) oh man if i could eat that food everyday i would be the happiest person in the world! it was so amazing!!
The next day we were up at 5am for the 3 hour drive home... but it only took us just over two hours.... sorta was speeding a little bit... haha
we arrived back in Albany on the 23rd... just in time to do my Christmas shopping, only had to buy 3 gifts this year... but i missed giving all my family presents its so much fun to see the looks on their faces when the open their presents!
For Christmas eve Kaitlyn's Aunt and Uncles family came over for drinks, then on Christmas day we went to Karen's house (Kaitlyn's cousin... i dont know how many times removed or maybe just a second cousin) for brunch... and Tom Scotts ( OJ with lots of booze!) i had 7 i think... then we went back home to nap and then back to Karen's for a turkey dinner! it was great!!!
After Christmas we spent the next few days relaxing and went into Auckland and around Auckland a bit. Then on the 31st we flew into Wellington. New years eve was one big drunken night! great fun tho! killer hanger over the next day... and the fateful night that kaitlyn lost her phone :( (that is why you dont carry your phone in your bra when your drunk!) we ate Mc Donalds (the best hangover food) twice that day. The next day and our last in Wellington we went to the Nation Museum... it was an awesome museum and free. there was a lot to see in it... including a really big squid.
We then made our way down to the ferry, we stopped at the bus station, actually we went there by mistake but kaityln was happy for it cause they had a platform 9 3/4 like from Harry Potter.
We then spent the next few hours on the ferry... it was so packed we had to sit on the floor, we spent the whole time reading. When we got into Picton it was around 10pm lucky for us there was a shuttle right to our hostel! We checked in and then crashed. We had to be up at 6.30ish for our 7 something bus. Which we almost missed because we booked with Nakedbus.com and on the website it shows big buses with Nake Bus on the side... not the case with the acutal buses!
We got into Blenhiem (our home for the next month) around 8am and Nicolette the lady who we got jobs with picked us up at the Info centre where we were dropped off and bought us coffee because she was late!
So we stayed in the Kiwi Bunk... with all the other people working there, we worked on different Vineyards 5 or 6 days a week mostly 8 hours a day. We did what they call leaf plucking (pulling off the leaves to let the sunlight in) bunch thinning (taking off the grapes cause there was too many!) and we also helped the baby viens grow.. but pulling off certain leaves and taping them to the bamboo stick... back breaking work let me tell ya! because you are bending up and down all day long it just kills your back! our whole group looked like we were walking with sticks up our bums!
The Kiwi bunk house turned into a big brother/ real world kinda of atmosphere. There was so much gossip and crazy shit happening in that house! People would talk in the bathroom. and after everyday drinking night we'd go into eachothers rooms in the morning and tell them what we knew about last night.... who hooked up with who and who hates who now... lots of fun! but i made some great friends there that i cant wait to see again!
After a sad goodbye from the kiwi bunk and Blenheim we made our way to Nelson. It was a very beautiful place but we only had a day to spend there. Next up Fox Glacier!
We spent the day on the bus traveling to Fox Glacier, arrived in a much colder climate then we've been used to!
The next morning we got up and took a hour long walk down to Lake Matheson. Where the moutains relfect off the lake... sadly it was a cloudy day so there wasnt too much reflection... but it was great anyway. We were then off to the Glacier!
We had to hike up to the acutal Glacier... but it was an amazing sight! We go hiking sticks and "cramp ons" little spikey things for our books then we climbed on the Glacier! it was an awesome experience... but sad to know that it wont be there in the years to come as it is melting away everyday because of Global warming!
After Fox Glacier we took the long bus ride to Queenstown!
Once in Queenstown we had to try the famous Ferg Burger... which was just as awesome as every had told us it was going to be! they are just huge burgers that can fill you for two meals! Worth every penny!
The next day we woke up to go sky diving!! Craziest thing ever! But totally awesome and the view going down was just amazing with the water and the mountains in the background! Later that day i went Bungy Jumping! i was scared shitless up until the time i actually jumped!! and even in mid air i was thinking "why the hell am i doing this??" but it was great and i would do it again for sure!
We then went down to Christchurch for the next two days where we would be flying out of to go back to Australia.
We spent the two days riding the tram around the city, we went to the free Museum and the one night we went to a movie outside! Then we hit the airport to go back to Sydney!
Like the first time we flew into Sydney it was raining when we got here! And it stayed that way pretty much the whole time.... out hostel was a dump so if you're ever in Sydney NEVER stay at City Central Backpackers... just gross. you shower and you still feel dirty... cooking in the kitchen will make you gag.... ewww is my rating for that place. Im now sitting at the Sydney airport on the free internet both thingy waiting for my flight to Japan!!
That's all for now!!

Peace out,
Amanda

Ps. Make love not war.

Posted by hankins16 20:10 Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

from Australia to New Zealand... a lot to cover!

rain 18 °C

Holy crap it's been way too long since my last blog!!

It's been hard to actually take the time to sit down and write... i even find it hard to sit down and write in the journal im carrying with me. I only do it cause i have a crap memory and i actually want to remember all that great things i see! So the last time i wrote was just before i went up to Whitsundays... shit that feels like it was a life time ago!
Well i spent two days and two nights on a fairly big sail boat... with 28 other people from around the world! it was awesome! When we first arrived in Australia it was so weird not having my cell phone... it was my lifeline at home... but then we had to get cell phones again so we had a contact number for jobs...so just as i was getting used to life without a cell phone i get sucked right back into that world... but when i got onto this sail boat... it was back to the world of no cell phones! part of me likes living without a cell phone... nobody can bother you... but at the same time i liked being able to talk to people from home... although i couldnt even text my bestfriend... why? no idea and Vodafone couldnt figure it out either.... oh well life goes on right?
ok so this boat was awesome, at first i was a little worried of getting sea sick... not that i have before but i do get car/bus sick sometimes... but this boat rocked me to sleep at night i loved it! They fed, took us to the Great Barrier Reef, went snorkeling and when the day was over we all got drunk together. One of the beaches they took us to was Whitehaven beach... its just as amazing as they say it is! If you google it you'll know what i mean by what they say it is... haha
I figured travelling i was bound to lose something... well it was my hiking boots. i didnt exactly lose they i just left them at the hostel and didnt realize it until i was at the airport boarding the plane back to Brisbane... i called and they found my boots and weeks later, and in a new country i got my boots back!
When arriving in Brisbane... the domestic airport doesnt stay open all night and the ony way to get anywhere is by taxi and that can get expensive. Lucky for me i was talking to the of the taxi drivers and he told me to ask the guy who puts you in a taxi to go with someone else and get dropped off at the international airport and it would only cost me 10$ and i could stay there for the night. So that is what i did, and to my surprise i had a great sleep! When got into the city the next morning i got a room at one of the hostels i had stayed at before, its a nice place and its cheaper then most other hostels. Now the most common problem with hostels is Bed Bugs... and boy did i get them....when i stayed in Bundy the place i stayed at had a bed bug problem but since i was working at the hostel my room was one of the first to get sprayed for them. The place i was staying i had stayed before and had no problems but really it just depends on who was in that bed before you, they travel through sleeping bags mostly... so if you stay at a hostel that says no to sleeping bags its for good reason. the first two nights werent so bad, i only woke up with a few bites afer the second night so i figured i would be alright for another night.... not so much... my legs were covered in them! Tip for any travellers, how do you know its a bed bug bite and not anohter bug? they bite in threes... you'll have 3 little bite marks in a row... or really close together... Thankfully i got some stuff for the bites to stop me from scratching so i only have a few scars on my legs.
We had 3 days left in Brissy when i got back from Whitsundays, our only plan was to go to the Ausralia Zoo... it rained for three days straight. But that didnt stop us from going to the Zoo! As for the Zoo honestly its over rated. It probably would have been a lot better if Steve was still around cause he would make the shows a lot more exciting... but for the price of the zoo it really isnt worth it. Lets put it this way my favourite thing there was the Otters, they were so cute and playful! You pay 50 Australian dollars to get in plus you have to take a train or a bus there from Brisbane, and it only takes you maybe 2 hours to see the whole zoo, we watched a show twice so it probably takes a lot less time. The Toronto Zoo cost 20$ and you can be in there from open to close!
So after a few wet days in Brissy we flew over to Perth! Yet another Domestic airport that closes... we got in around 1am or so and figured ok we'll just sleep here until the buses start running in the morning. That didnt happen... around 3am they tell us we have to leave theyre closing... so we go outside and sit on a bench... i think it would have cost us 12 dollars to get to the international airport so we were like forget we'll just sit out here... so that we did and as we were sitting there i looked into the airport and checked the times of the next plane and it was at 5am, so i got thinking that if the next plane takes off in 2 hours they have to open up by 4 for people to check in...so we slept leaning on our bags for an hour... and guess what? they opened the airport again... god only knows why they would close it for an hour? and it wasnt to clean cause as we slept in the airport around 6am they started vacuuming around us! We slept there until about 9am when we decide that we should go to our hostel... so we ask a lady how to get there and she wants to offer us a shuttle for 15 dollars but that the guy at our hostel just said to take the city bus, the lady told us to get on a certain bus so we did once we started driving we asked the bus driver how far it was from our hostel and he said he didnt go near there... but he ended up asking on his radio how to get there it only took us a few hours but we finally got there! We pretty much spent the day sleeping.. the next day we were leaving for our 7 day bus tour up to Exmouth!
i finally got to try Kangaroo! and it was awesome! that was at the end of our bus tour, we stayed on a farm got drunk and had one great meal! It was awesome! We went sandboarding on the sand dunes, we fed dolphins at Monkey Mia, we went snorkeling with turtles and sting rays, we drank every night... haha and just got to see what WA is about!
When we returned to Perth, we ate and slept until the next day, where we just wondered around Perth checking out the sights. That night we went on a party bus, you pay 10$ and this bus takes you to a club and you can drink and you can drink all night! let me tell you i got way too drunk, and my travelling buddy was MIA. it was probably one of the best and worst nights of my life, i couldnt find kaitlyn and calling her was pointless cause all she would tell me was she doesnt know where she is... and sounded really crazy.she didnt come back until 8.30 the next morning... i had passed out around 4, she ended up walking/running into another city, she thought people were chasing her and she was hiding in bushes and behind peoples houses. it was crazy and i hope it never happens again.
Our Flight left on my Birthday midnight to melbourne, so i spent Sunday in Fremantle just checking out the markets and walking around, i would love to get back there for sure. So we flew into Melbourne around 5.35am, we were picked up at the airport, and stayed with a distant cousin that i got a hold of threw my Grandma. We spent only 3 days in Melbourne, we did the Great Ocean Road tour, it was a day long tour and worth it for sure. There are something that you have to see in certain places well this is one of them. the next day as i could feel myself getting sick we flew to Auckland, New Zealand! We were so happy to finally be moving onto a new Country!
We were picked up at the airport by Kaitlyns great aunt and uncle, we were so happy again not to have to find our way from the airport. the first few days i was really sick and just wanted to sleep. so thats what i did. we went out looking for jobs after i started to feel better, because it was so close to Christmas when we arrived all the seaonal jobs where already taken so we decided just to enjoy the north island and see as much as we could.

Next blog i shall touch on what has been happening in New Zealand.

Peace out,
Amanda

ps make love not war.

Posted by hankins16 17:31 Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Count down to WA begins!

sunny 31 °C

We've got about two more weeks left in Brisbane the city that has become my home away from home! ive gotten used to living here for almost 2 months, im starting to feel like a local... i was asked for directions by 3 different people in a matter of 20 minutes, and i actually could tell them were to go! what what!! haha this week has been relaxing and planning for whats ahead of us. We've booked our flight to Perth our 7 day tour of WA (western Australia) and our hostels for the other 3 nights that we're there. We then on my birthday (which we have now named it my Perthday) because we'll be in Perth on that day, well at least part of the day are going to fly to Melbourne. My grandma knows a distant cousin down there and we're hoping to meet up with them, and we've got a day trip planned to see the Great Ocean Road. The next day we fly out to Auckland! we're finally moving onto our next country! as much as i have loved Australia i'm very excited to move on, and see a new country! we haven't planned out what we want to do yet, but we know we must get jobs. We are lucky that this leg of the trip we have a place to stay for free! Kaitlyn has family in Auckland and they have offered to let us stay there and we couldnt be more happy! i have to say i hate showering with flip flops on but its a must when staying in hostels and it will be nice to be staying in a clean house! The biggest thing for me in New Zealand is gonna be Sky diving! ive been wanting to do it for years and now im going to make it happen!
the rest of the week is going to be use for planning out more of our trip and just relaxing. i have to plan my trip to the Great Barrier Reef for next week, Kaitlyn leaves on Sunday to go up to Cairns to be come a certified scuba diver. we're then meeting back here in Brisbane for about 3 days do the rest of the touristy stuff we went to do including the Australian Zoo. Then we're off to WA!
Australia doesnt really do halloween....very sad. Christmas is gonna suck being away from home, you can hardly tell it's coming up down here. Back home the malls and stores have Christmas stuff all over the place it's in our face where ever you go! and Christmas without snow....

Peace out,

Amanda

ps make love not war

Posted by hankins16 21:28 Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Bundy, Tomatoes and back to Brissy

sunny 30 °C

Well ive been travelling for almost two months now and it still feels like i just walked off the plane yesterday in Sydney! about two weeks ago i made my way up to Bundaberg a very small town about 10 hours north of Brisbane, in promise of work (fruit picking) only to find out when i got there they had lied to us and they had no work :( Lucky for me i was travelling with a new friend i had met at the job i was working at before, her name is Laura and shes from England, we managed to find a hostel called Dingo Blue with a very nice manager who let us work for our accommodation until more work came in. So we spent about two weeks cleaning, bathrooms, the kitchen but our biggest task was cleaning the rooms, we had to scrub down the walls cause people are gross little bit of throw up and a little bit of poop just to give you an idea. Anyway we all had to strip the beds sprayed them down with bed bug spray which smells horrible. and did you know people poop in the shower? i kid you not....so in Bundy there are only two things to see one the Rum distillery and the turtles... but the turtles are only there at a certain time of the year and it wasnt the time that i was there :( but i did take advantage of the the Rum Distillery! It was a great tour however after getting drunk on rum one too many times the smell of rum isnt my most favourite smell so when the tour guides were telling everyone to take it all in and just smell that sweet smell in the air, i prefered to hold my breath! i feared losing my coco puffs i had eaten for brekky. Now keeping in mind that ive gotten drunk one too many times on rum it still doesnt stop me from drinking it... and who says no to free rum?? not me!! i got to try two different rums! i did however get a little tipsy after the taste testing and walked a good hour back to my hostel stopping at parks along the way... swings and slides even more fun when you've good booze running through your blood. i also stood on a bridge staring at the water cause it was so green and i thought there must be crocs in there and its a good thing Tasha has told me more than once to always put the strap around my wrist so i dont drop my camera... cause otherwise my camera would have been in the water that may or may not have had crocs in it....
an interesting fact i thought people should know is the reason they dont export Bundy rum is cause the demand for it is so high in Australia that if they were to export it they wouldnt have enough to keep the Aussies happy! right now they have 300 vats of rum theyre hoping by this time next year theyll have 600 so they can export but i dont know those Aussies sure do like their rum!
What can i say about tomato picking?? well ive never liked tomatoes... nothing about them ever made me want to eat them and people who eat them like apples that just gross! the smell of tomotes is gross, add a little heat and it just gets worse. but i thought i can get over this just grab the tomatoes as fast as i can dont breathe in when im looking at the tomato bush and everything will be fine.... then grabbed a rotten tomato my fingers went right in it... wasnt very nice.... the worst part of the whole experience is that cause of the lack of tomatoes to be picked i was making all of what worked about to be about 5 dollars in hour.... i woke up the next day after my first day of picking and my legs could hardly move they were so stiff!it took two days of working them out for the pain to go away. now i knew i would get dirty from this job but i never realized how dirty! i didnt wear gloves, cause well im stupid no other reason... the dirt was caked onto my hands, my arms, my neck, my face... and you start the day by putting on lots and lots of sunscreen but half way through the day you needed more cause it was bloody hot out there... but cause my hands were so dirty it was just like rubbing dirt all over myself! and i still managed to burn my back! to get clean i would have to wash my hands for a good ten minutes then take a shower and after that i still felt dirty!
So now im back in Brissy my favourite city in Australia so far... my home away from home! i only wish everyone i know could know what it feels like just to spend a day walking around Brisbane! i could just walk for hours and sometimes i do... South Bank is my favourite spot to just sit by the water and read.... although these days i can pretty much sit and read anywhere.
Im on the hunt for yet another job to get some funds for Western Australia then we're off to New Zealand! Now as much as i love it here im really excited to move on! i just cant wait to see what else is out there to see and im really looking forward to Asia!
Ive found a new place to live for the next few weeks here in Brissy, its in the Valley about 45 minute walk from the city.... im excited for a new place to explore, but i will be back to visit south bank, gotta make sure i get my fill of wicked bananas (bananas with chocolate in the middle ) before i leave!

Peace out,

Amada

ps make love not war. :)

Posted by hankins16 16:43 Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Brissy....Brekky....and Milky Milky time!

overcast 27 °C

Well its been too long since i wrote my last blog so i figured i should sit my ass down and tell you peoples whats been going on in my world travels! so in my last blog i wrote that i was in Brisbane which i where i still am. its a great city lots to see... it seems like a big city but not a lot of people in it because i see the same people all the time... i find that a little scary. Anyway so im working at Aussie Farmers Direct, im a milkman hence the milky milky time in the title...its what the german girls at work say all the time its pretty funny. So ive been working there just over a week and ive met some great people from Brissy as i go door to door selling them Aussies finest milk and bread. and ive also met a lot of people from around the world because the people that make up Aussie Farmers Direct are pretty much all backpackers from all over the world... even met a fellow Canadian which made me very happy! but im sad to say that ill be leaving this job by the end of the week because you only get paid by the sales you make so you never know how much money youre gonna make.... so myself and one of the British girls i work with are heading north about 10 hours away from Brissy we're gonna work on farms! it'll be hard work but ill be paid by the hour and it will keep me busy and i wont spend my money cause ill be in the country so im very excited! we're leaving Friday night by bus. so while in Brissy ive pretty muched walked around the whole city... its a great way to see everything and be outside at the same time... south bank is one of my favourite places especially on the weekend because they have the weekend markets which are awesome! i got a wicked banana which is a banana with chocolate in the middle! what what! how awesome is that! also i came across a place that sells a chip sandwich (fries on bread with ketchup) :S i havent tried it yet but i will! haha i find it funny that they call ketchup tomato sauce... oh and while we were in the van at work going out to sell our bread and milk everyone in the van was either from england, irleand or Australia and we stopped at mcdonalds and they all say Mac Donalds and i was you guys are aware that its actually MC donalds no MAC... theyre like really?? and im like yup it was fun...there were a few other words they say that were different and i let them in on the Candian way of saying things haha
ill miss the people the most when i leave this job cause theyre awesome and fun and a bunch of drunks... they work for beer for the most part and when we get beer for getting so many sales we start drinking in the van on the way back to the office.... fun times ( dont worry the driver never drinks in the van)
so in south bank besides these awesome markets they have a ferris wheel a smaller version of the london eye... and a path that is basically in a tunnel of flowers it looks awesome (ill post pics on facebook) and it leads you to a man made beach which is always packed, and a buch of different places to eat. when you get to the end there is a maritime museum which has a bunch of old ships from the war... i havent been in it yet but i probably will before i leave.
what ive noticed about Australia, Brisbane especially... is they are really fit people. they have bike lanes on almost all of their roads... they have really nice jogging and bike paths along the water. i see people run everyday... a lot of people run i think its awesome.
We went to a fre museum, in south bank and i just found out there is another one in the city so i might hit there before i go to work tomorrow, and maybe go to the art gallery they day after.
on sunday we went to lone pine Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary... i got to cuddle a Koala and hang out with some kangaroos! i was chased my an emu... then tried to get over my fear by touching it... cause if i cant even face a emu ill never be able to face an ostrich... so i touch it scary moment im still neverous tho.... one day ill get over my fear one day!
we still have to go to the Australia Zoo but its a bit pricey so its gonna have to wait till i get back from working on the farms.
we've changed a few of our plans... we had planned on staying in japan for a month but its gonna cost too much to live there so we've decided to add time to Australia and New Zealand to give us more time to work. our plan is to stay in another month on this side of OZ then go over to Western Australia and jsut do touristy things before heading to New Zealand!
Today is Kaitlyn's birthday and shes sick... i had taken the day off work to go out tonight cause shes is determined to go out... so shes back at the hostel sleeping right now :S we'll see what happens i guess.
well who knew that in Australia they only have one size pizza.... a large pizza... but its in between a small and medium size pizza in Canada... so strange... it cost 9.95 and they have some specials like on tuesdays they're 5.00$ or they have daily speicals for 3.95 just on a certain type of pizza... so seeing as today is tuesday here im gonna have me some pizza for dinner!
doing door to door sales in Australia although boring like any other place does have its perks... ive seen kangaroos on peoples front lawns.... lizards on door steps, bats 3 times as big as the ones back home flying above my head! awesome i tell ya!
i have to say that everything really is backwards down here... i found myself getting a library card.... i lost my library card at home and never got a new one cause i never went there.... i spend at least an hour everyday in the library here and i read ALL the time! its crazy!
oh i almost forgot! we have this great little corner store right near our hostel that we get our brekky at every morning! baked beans and toast!! haha yay for cheap food!!

so ill leave you with a quote from my trip...

me and kaitlyn walking home in the dark from work one night,

Kaitlyn: thats the smallest lizard ive ever seen!
me: thats not a lizard....
Kaitlyn: what is it then?

  • small dark object hurries past our feet*

me:that was a cockroach...
kailtyn:oh... thats the biggest cockroach ive ever seen!!

haha fun times!!

peace out

amanda

ps make love not war!

Posted by hankins16 21:11 Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Brisbane!

sunny 23 °C

its been almost 2 weeks so far in Australia and things are great!
we started in Sydney and made our way up to Brisbane! we stopped at Bryon Bay and Surfers Paradise for two days each along the way and both were great! i found it funny that in Surfers Paradise there were no surfers cause the water was to dangerous to be in!
So we've decided that we're going to work here in Brisbane... and are job hunting right now :S so far we're handing out flyers at a travel place for vouchers for there place so we could end up with free bus rides or plane rides... but i dont know how much of that i can handle cause you just stand out on the street for a few hours at a time handing out their flyers... boring!! i need something that keeps me moving and thinking all the time!

we've decided that we're going to look for an apartment because its going to end up being cheaper then staying in a hostel long term... out of all the places we've stayed so far Brisbane has been the most expensive!

we're meeting a lot of people staying at the hostels... its crazy cause your staying in a room with people from all around the world!! we've met more people from Ireland and England then we have Australia!

im running out of time on the net so i will do my best to write another blog soon time!!

peace out,

amanda

ps make love not war!

Posted by hankins16 21:43 Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

G'day!!

rain 11 °C

well i would like to say so its day whatever of my trip but to be honest ive decided to stop keeping track of the days! just know that we're still in Sydney and will be here for the rest of today (which is saturday) and tomorrow will be leaving prolly but train to Brisbane... but we are gonna try and stop along the way....but we'll have to figure out if we can do that!

so things are going very well the hostel is great! we get free breaky which we always make sure to fill ourselves up on! lunch is no longer a meal to us... we eat a huge breaky then eat dinner.... and if we get hungry in the middle we'll have a little snack!

yesterday we went to the Sydney Aquarium and the Sydney Wildlife World... they were both great! Kaitlyn was very excited to see the sharks! and side note Seals are big show offs! but still so cute! we spent most of the day in both places... oh AND a vending machine that makes fries!! i kid you not! you pay 4 dollars and 90 seconds later you have hot fresh fries!! now it doesnt sound like something that would taste great... bu they were awesome!! haha

so life in the hostel is really fun! we're meeting so many people from around the world! its so crazy just sitting around talking to everyone, there's people from england, ireland, germany, italy and one guy from the states who we've been hanging out with. last night a guy just came in from New Zealand... really funny guy he was telling us all about NEw Zealand; he's very proud of where hes from!

Last night we just hung out at the hostel and had a few drinks.... i actually mean a few drinks... it was the Irsh girls who were knocking back the booze like it was going out of style dancing on the table to music from 90's.... it seemed that they were so behind in music... we were tempted to hook up our ipods and say "here is music from the future!"
haha but they were having a good time and we were having a good time watching them make fools of themselves! haha

the weather is really crappy here, its cold and rainy! and we werent the only fools not prepared for this! almost everyone in the hostel has only shorts and t-shirts to wear! we were hoping for a nice day today but we woke up and its still crappy! but we're gonna make the best of it... we're still gonna head out in the rain to see Sydney... we wont let anything stop us!!

Pictures are taking forever to post so i havent posted any yet but i will sit down and try and post them.... if anyone doesnt have me on facebook just add me so when i finally get my pics posted you can see them!

me and kaitlyn figure by the end of this trip we will be a lot more greatful for the little things... like not showering in our flip flops and only being able to choose between 3 things to wear! we've only been gone a few days and are already becoming very aware of it!

thats all for now... i might post a new blog before we leave for Brisbane if not then it will be a few days after that!!

peace out

amanda

ps make love not war!

Posted by hankins16 16:01 Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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