A Travellerspoint blog

The weekend

semi-overcast 19 °C

After just a few hours of sleep we were on our way to the airport once again. We arrived in good time having taken a “limosine” from the hotel which proved to be our cheapest ride yet as the driver didn’t have the correct change and so we got our ride for 50UED which was a lot cheaper than the 160UED that it cost to get to our hotel on Thursday.
We navigated our way through the airport and finally found our way onto the Emirates A380 which was taking us to London Gatwick. This time we had Wi-Fi basically the whole trip. We arrived into Gatwick airport and it took a while to get through the queues for customs. We were happily greeted by uncle Roland and aunty Jane, and whisked back to their house where we were greeted by Jeremy, John and Christa. Uncle Roland had just arrived in from Hong Kong earlier in the morning and Christa and John from Singapore. After a great lunch, unpacking and freshening up we were taken out for dinner at a lovely Chinese restaurant nearby which was surrounded by beautiful countryside.
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We enjoyed spicy pork and black bean and chilli beef with a nice English beer (and for Louise a wine). After dinner we headed to a nearby look out where we were greeted by the pungent smell of weed being smoked by a couple of locals who were really soaking up the views!
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The view was amazing and we took a few group snaps. I got to go with uncle Roland in his sporty Mazda MX5 with the roof down............. We played a game of Catan that Louise thrashed us all in before retiring to bed for another well desired night of sleep.

All in all it was a relaxing and rejouvenating weekend. It was lovely to catch up with everyone again and to attend the London church as well. We even got to go over tower bridge on the way to church. Aunty Jane's lunch of roast beef and Yorkshire puddings was very delicious and Jonny and Neil were there for lunch too.

Posted by loueeezo 23:13 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Water parks and city sights

sunny -41 °C

The alarm failed us miserably this morning but I guess we were in need of the sleep! We only just made it in time for our buffet breakfast which included chicken bacon which was a pretty good compromise for a Muslim country but no where near as good as real bacon

We headed out the lobby doors and requested a metered taxi. Nec minnut we were riding in a Lexus (limousine) on the way to Aqua Adventure which is located on the outer circle of the palm. We arrived around midday and found, to our horror, that the lines for the prepaid queues were almost longer then the yet to pay queues. After about 45 minutes of waiting in line we finally got our wristbands and headed inside to get changed. It was approximately 1 pm by the time we were finally tearing through the park eager to ride the first slide and make the most of the 3 and a half hours we had left. We waited in yet another line as we wanted to try out the shark attack slide.
When we finally got to the front of the queue we jumped in our inflatable ring and rode it down the slide to the clear Perspex tunnel which went through an aquarium and watched the fish, sharks etc. swim around us as we slowly moved through the clear Perspex. We followed this by a water coaster which propels you up and down a slide much like a roller coaster which then exited onto a lazy river which would inevitably turn into rapids. I was endeavoring to GoPro bits and pieces of our slides as I went but was struggling with angles etc. We rode along in our tube and the lazy river turned into a conveyor belt which you could ride to the start of the rapids and as we gained momentum on the conveyor belt a cold rush of horror swept over me as when I looked down I saw NO GOPRO. I shot off the tube, straight back down the conveyor belt and into the water. Where there had been 4 or 5 people waiting a moment ago suddenly there were people everywhere. I dove under them searching frantically for the GoPro which was nowhere to be found. After about 10 minutes of frantic searching and scanning I had pretty much given up. I then dived down by the edge of the pool and found it covered by a couple of leaves. A wave of relief flooded over me! I jumped back on the conveyor and headed down the rapids in search of Lou whom, in my panic, I had neglected to communicate what had happened. I finally located her half of the way down the rapids waiting patiently for me and we rode the rapids almost right around the park…
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Among other rides we went on this ride which takes you through a shark tank but you go so quick and the water sprays into your face so you don’t actually see any sharks. We rode every ride that time permitted and I made sure, much to Louise’s disgust, that we rode all the most extreme rides first. We didn’t stop for lunch or anything and by 4:30, closing time, we had pretty much ridden every ride we had wanted to.
With closing time looming we followed the hoards to the changing rooms and battled against incredible odds to get changed, finally exiting the building at least half an hour after closing time. We wandered over and joined the queue for taxis and after a short wait we were finally ushered to one. Just as we closed the door of the taxi some Arab guy also directing people to the taxis got very irate with the driver but our driver said he saw us in the queue and that we hadn’t just pushed in. He re confirmed with us that we had been in the queue to which we responded yes. The driver then called the Arab guy an idiot and drove off with us. This driver ended up being our driver for the night. We arrived at the hotel and he waited for us as we freshened up. He then took us for a sightseeing trip over the next 3 hours showing us the most iconic areas and buildings. We went down to the Jumeirah beach and got some great photo’s of the Jumeirah Hotel which is the worlds only 7 star hotel
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We also headed to the gold souk (markets) and wandered around for a while. Any time we showed the slightest interest in a shop a person would come over and try to usher us in. The first guy got his way and after perusing all the shop had to offer we exited the shop empty handed. The next guy wasn’t so lucky. We then had people trying to sell us copy handbags, watches etc and were followed up the street in one case for 3 minutes whilst the guy tried every sales technique known to him before finally giving up.
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We hit the road again in search of our final destination with this taxi driver and arrived at the Dubai mall 300 AED poorer.
The mall was cool! It has a ginormous aquarium with schools of large fish, sting rays and sharks swimming around. This lolly shop was pretty awesome and the samples were even better.
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After walking the entire mall the first time we decided to see what local foods we could try at the food court. Finding mostly fast food and similar shops to what we get in NZ we decided on a curry which, to our surprise, came with naan bread but no rice. We grabbed a couple of Krispy Kreme donuts for desert before walking what felt like the entire mall 2 more times. We exited the mall at closing time, midnight and navigated our way across the road. Our previous taxi driver had advised us that we could walk back to our hotel from there in approx. 20 minutes but with the pain of new blisters echoing through our feet we hailed a taxi and by the time we arrived back at out hotel we realised it would have been more like an hour or more of walking.

Posted by loueeezo 22:58 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Dubai

sunny 34 °C

After an uneventful flight we arrived in to Dubai at 1:10pm. We were feeling a little stressed as we had booked a desert safari for the afternoon with pickup being around 3pm and hadn’t even disembarked yet. I got an email on the flight asking for us to confirm that we were still keen and asking for our room number however as I went to reply we suddenly flew over an country that did not allow us to have wireless so we couldn’t even reply. Thankfully customs was quiet and the processing was super quick. We got free WIFI in the airport so we managed to confirm our spots by both email and Whatsapp. We grabbed our bags from the carousel and headed for the exit looking for a taxi. As we got near the exit of the airport we bumped into a fellow who asked if we needed a taxi. Without thinking we said yes and got ripped off something chronic! We arrived at our hotel suite about half an hour later paying 160AED which is approx. $60.
We checked in and freshened up which was a wonderful feeling and met the driver bang on time. We took the back seat of the Toyota Pajero that we were in as it was recommended as the bouncier seat when dune bashing and headed off to pick up a few more people before heading into the desert for a dune bash, camel safari and cultural dinner.
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As we left the city limits the desertscape took shape with sand blowing across the lanes and a orange sandy smog clouding the vista. We stopped along the way at a souvenir shop which I’m sure was well over priced but we got a couple of things anyway. We then pulled off the highway and drove over a few dunes and waited for the rest of the tour participants to arrive. All in all we had approx 15 to 20 other Pajeros with between 4 and 6 people in each. The leader took off with us in toe flying over the dunes, sliding sideways over the edge of them with shrieks and screams of excitement filling the car…. The dune bashing was epic!!!!
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We then headed back to the base camp to go on our camel safari only to find that it was pretty much a hop on ride around in a circle and hop back off again. Having said that, we still did this and found the most exciting part to be when the camel stood up and sat down again with us still on board. We took some great photo's in the desert... Lou ran down the side of a dune and every footstep buried her feet deeper to the point that her thongs/jandals couldn't take it anymore and disapeared for ever. We headed into the base camp where Louise got some henna before retiring for dinner around the stage to watch the cultural show.
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Just before dinner we headed over and tried on some of the local clothing and this is what I looked like.
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We then headed home looking forward to the first decent nights sleep yet!

Posted by loueeezo 22:20 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Tigers & Elephants

sunny 34 °C

Dejavoo… Our alarms went off in unison and we struggled out of bed. It was 4am local time and our chauffeur was to pick us up in half an hour. Blurry eyed and bushy haired we dragged ourselves down to the lobby in time to meet Tong, our driver for the day. As the sun wasn't going to rise till 6 or so we had planned to sleep on the way but the sights were too interesting. Almost every third property seemed to have a shrine of some sort lit up in their front yard! One thing that stood out for me apart from all the stray dogs was how messy everything was. There might be a brand new looking building with a new tractor outside but the shed would have all manner of crap strewn around inside and outside in no particular order.
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After a couple hours of driving we rolled up to the Bridge over the River Kwai and were given an explanation of how the Japanese had had the railway built so they could get their supplies into India and back up their invasion. In reality it should have taken 5 years to build this railway but the Japanese made it happen in 1 year by sacrificing so many lives that they estimate every sleeper laid signifies a life lost in the creation of the railway. The rectangular sections in the middle of the bridge show the section that was rebuilt after the allies blew it sky high. You can wander out onto the bridge however if a train comes you must move behind the red line on one of the out boxes shown here otherwise they take no responsibility to what happens to you.
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We set off again through the country side in search of the tiger temple. We were looking forward to playing with some tiger cubs however we soon learned that the tiger cubs were already one-year-old… a little too big to play with and cuddle!
After feeding the “cubs” bottles of milk we had breakfast which consisted of curries, tom yum soup, sweet bread etc…. how else do you start a hot muggy day in Thailand?!
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We then went on to walk and wash the tigers before being let loose in a cage with 8 unleashed (huge) tigers most of whom were wanting to play… much like a big kittens!
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Occasionally they would get a little close for comfort as they played with one another or chased a bag on the stick we were holding. After 3 hours of tiger activities under the hot morning Thai sun we had both developed a headache from lack of water and were dying for a drink so we cleaned up and hit the road again.

The next port of call was to bathe with the elephants and go for a bare back ride through the jungle. We arrived at the elephant sanctuary and, after getting changed into our swimmers, climbed on our elephants. Mine was called Dummy and Louise’s was called Tookie Boogie or something similar… lol. Sitting on the neck of an elephant feels so high up and as my elephant, Dummy, moved down to the riverbank I felt like I was going to topple off at any moment. We rode into the river and climbed onto the elphants heads so we could jump into the river. We jumped off the elephants into the mirky water and were scooped straight back up by their trunks. Our elephants reared onto their hind legs before slamming us into the water. They would also suck up water and raise their trunks and we would grab the trunk and direct it at the other drenching them in a torrent of water. After a lot of fun playing with the elephants Louise boarded Dumbo and joined me for a bareback ride around the “Jungle”.
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We haggled price over a few souvenirs before hitting the road in search of a Thai restaurant for lunch. We had chicken broth soup for entrée followed by sweet and sour chicken, chicken cashew, Thai egg omelette and stir fried vegies which were washed down with a bottle of Chiang Thai beer. We finished lunch quickly as we were needing to head back to Bangkok to beat the peak hour traffic.

We arrived back to our hostel feeling wasted but with so little time left to explore Bangkok we headed for a quick wander of the Siam Paragon mall which has all the high end shops and a level which includes Lamborghini’s, Porsche, BMW’s and a couple of Ducati’s on display. We grabbed a couple of sausages and a bucket of deep-fried chicken as a snack and soon were hoping that we don’t get food poisoning as some of the deep fried chicken was hot and some was cold… time will tell!
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Not wanting to leave anything undone we caught a taxi to the sky bar where we lay on a couch gazing out over the view of Bangkok at night marvelling at how even the uglier areas look beautiful once the sun has gone down and the lights begin to twinkle. We bumped into a magician from South Africa who was on honeymoon and he performed a few magical acts including changing the time of my watch whilst it was wrapped in my hand and picking up my wedding ring without fingers.
On our way back to the hotel we dropped by a night market which we gave up on pretty quickly when we kept being shown menus for strip joints etc. We hailed a Tuk Tuk and headed back to our room for a final night of sleep before heading off to Dubai.

Posted by loueeezo 09:37 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

D-Day

Our adventure begins

all seasons in one day 34 °C

Dah da dah da daah, Dah da da dah da dah dah.... The alarm begins its well known and annoying rhythm and my hand swipes out to silence it. Through a blurry sleepy haze I can see the time has hit 3:30am... the lights had been turned out literally 1 hour earlier and we weren't feeling much like getting out of bed. After a few more annoying but helpful prompts from the phone we slid out of bed and pulled ourselves together. With everything already packed we just needed a quick freshen up before Justus arrived (our brother in law) to take us to the airport. You'd think not much happens at 4am in the morning however on the way we saw police swarming in from everywhere and heading in the direction of where we had come from. Next we saw an accident where some poor codger had slid out on a corner near the airport nosing both ends of his car into the wall before coming to its final resting place crumpled in the inside lane.

The flights were fairly uneventful other than our flight from Sydney to Bangkok being delayed by an hour and a half as they changed a wheel. We arrived into Bangkok after an icy cold flight where the air conditioning was set to what felt like zero and we were greeted by a humid and sticky 34 degrees. We wandered down to the lower level of the airport, withdrew 20,000 baht, hailed our metered taxi and that’s where the adventures began.
The drive to our hostel was an adventure in itself with lane markings and use of indicators really just a suggestion. We would sit in the middle of two lanes for a while before sharing other lanes to overtake cars weaving in and out of lanes barely missing trucks, cars and bikes as we straddled every piece of tarmac possible. We arrived at Chao hostel in record time and Louise released her iron grip from the door handle! We caught the elevator to the 8th level and checked in to Chao hostel where we were given a free room upgrade to a room that was more like a hotel suite then a private hostel room.
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We freshened up somewhat and headed down to MBK, a large shopping mall, and wandered aimlessly taking in all the sights and smells… some of the smells I wish we hadn’t smelt.
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Feeling wasted and with an early start ahead we dived into bed and were enveloped in blissful sleep in no time. At about 2 am a window rattling crack of thunder awoke us from our slumber with a start. The thunder and lightning reverberated off the adjacent buildings with such volume it was hard to get back to sleep and continued well after we got up in the morning.

Posted by loueeezo 21:33 Archived in Thailand Tagged bangkok Comments (0)

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