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mich_and_dan_moors's Travel Blog

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Chiloe, Castro..........and the penguins

Castro, Chile

We travelled overnight on the bus from Santiago & arrived on late on 7th Feb.......and compared to beautiful, colourful & sunny Valparaiso to be honest it looked & bit grey & was bloody cold! However as soon as we arrived as usual finding some great local food was first on our agenda- local fish & mashed potatoes which was just amazing. The town was very small, nothing really to visit as such it felt very much like a really old fishing village & that was about all there was to it. Very few tourists and lots of local markets. We weren't really sure what was there so we founds a great tourist info place & booked up a couple of bus trips.
The next day went to Ancud & saw penguins! We also went to a really small village about 2 hours away where they made 'curasco; which was basically a load of fish, sausages and potatoes cooked underground in between hot coals & leaves. It was a fantastic day

permalink written by  mich_and_dan_moors on February 6, 2012 from Castro, Chile
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Beautiful, beautiful Valparaiso

Valparaiso, Chile

It was only a couple of hours bus ride into Valparaiso & neither of us really know what to expect as we hadn't done any research on the area, but after just a hour of walking around the streets we immediately loved the place. There's a huge naval base here so it's ovally down by the port. And as you can imagine there are some incredible local fish restaurants here - where of course the menu is only in Spanish so you have to improvise & point at dishes and hope for the best! But that's part of the fun.
There are also lots of little parks and winding, charming streets that makes it such a lovely place to idle hours away. We found a really lovely bar that's themed like a ship (called the Galleon) and the locals were so friendly that we quickly got chatting to Carlos the owner. Who proceeded to take us in person to the Post office after we'd enquired for directions only………..and then he insisted on paying for the tram ride up to an area called 'Conception'
The views here literally took our breath away. You can see for Miles across the city & the sea views, plus many of the houses here are painted beautiful pastel colours - pink, blue, yellow. It's like a fairytale village in the sky. We loved it here! So much in fact one day we just took a picnic & sat in a bench for a few hours & wandrered aroun the streets discovering art galleries & trinket shops

We also visited 'Vina del Mar' which is only a 20 min ride on the local bus, and it has a really nice beachfront. It seem this is the place where most of the locals go to at the weekends as the beach was packed.

permalink written by  mich_and_dan_moors on February 3, 2012 from Valparaiso, Chile
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Santiago, Brazil

We flew from Auckland at about 2pm to Santiago. So for some reason Dan & I assumed that we'd arrived on Wed 1st Feb……however it wasn't until the day after when recalled home that evening did we realise that in fact we'd actually gained a day! So now we know we arrived on TUESDAY and the fact that we even managed to get into our hostel in the first place, bearing in mind we'd booked it for Wednesday, was a miracle!
We were staying in the Bella Artistes area, which lucky for us was actually pretty cool. There was a really lovely Plaza close by that was bit too posh for us, full of very nice trinkety shops & expensive looking bars, but even so it was nice to wander around. Then there was a street lined with tables & chairs, packed full of locals sharing a 'grande cerveza' so we of course joined in ;-) All of this was only about 10 mins walk from us, just across the River & so it was perfect.
We hadn't really had the chance to go onto the internet & do any research whilst we'd been camping so the next day we set off early to Santiago Tourist Information to try & sort out the next week or so in Chile. The lady spoke great English & gave us some fab tips on where to visit and where we could cross into Argentina etc. and so finally we felt like we'd got a plan together

permalink written by  mich_and_dan_moors on February 1, 2012 from Santiago, Brazil
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The North Island

Wellington, New Zealand

We spent our first day in Wellington just wandering, stopping off at the Te Papa Museum for a few hours & then we caught the cable car up to Wellington Botanic Gardens with its magnificent lookout over the City and harbour. But to be honest we thought it was a bit of a weird city? It wasn't as atmospheric as Queenstown and appeared to be quite a big financial area with not much to see or do.

As we felt like we'd seen pretty much all there was to see, we headed on our way North to Lake Taupo & stopped mid way at Tongariro ready for a big walk! We got to our campsite quite late & it was very cold & blustery…..thankfully we had a sheltered area to cook under & we got chatting to 2 other couples who were planning their walk the next day too. Little did we know that this walk required 2 cars, 1 to get to the start at Tongariro crossing & 1 at the finish point which we hadn't researched & knew nothing about. Thankfully these guys were kind enough to suggest we pool all of our cars together so we could all do the walk.

Wed 25th
We got up early at 6.30am, had a big breakfast made our buttes for the day & headed on to our 7hr walk for the day! This was the legendary 'Mount Doom', and Jonathan being a bit of a Lord of the Rings fan meant we had a bit of commentary on the way there ;-)
It was a pretty tough walk in places, parts being quite a steep climb but the views are stunning & for me the highlight was the turquoise pools on the way down. To say we were knackered afterwards was an understatement…….we'd been lucky with good weather so we headed off to a campsite with showers :-)

Over the next few days travelling north we went to Lake Taupo and visited Huka Falls, which are the faster flowing falls - so fast they can fill something like 9 olympic sizes swimming pools in just 6 seconds. And closely to here is the 'Craters of the Moon' attraction, which as the name suggest is a huge area thats full of bubbling mud pools & steam arising from the ground due to the volcano activity in the area.

Sat 28th
After stopping off via Rotorua, we drove up to Coromandel and visited to Sting Ray beach & Catherdral cove. These were both beautiful beaches, very secluded and paradise like and it was fab to have a chill out amongst gorgeous scenery. Then we went to the infamous 'Hot Beach' which was a bit overrated really…….as expected it was very busy as the crowds basically come here with their spades and dig themselves a deep hole in the the beach, where eventually red hot water comes through. It is pretty cool I guess as you're standing next to the cold Pacific sea yet you're standing in a pool of red hot water that's being heated by the thermal volcano activity. We actually cheated a bit & sneaked into somebody elses hot pool & dipped our toes in. We got the same effect without the hard work! !
That evening we stayed at Kanawera valley park & met a very large, wild but friendly, NZ family who were intent on getting wasted & have fun that night. And they did!

The next day we left coromandel early as weather wasn't great & headed towards Auckland. We stopped at great free big campsite that had a bit of a mini farm , and there wasn't really much in the way of sights or things to see or do so we decided as this was nearly the end of our trip together we'd have a party night. So we drank beer. cider & wine & stumbled into bed!

Mon 30th
The boys woke with a massive hangover! Using this as a perfect excuse we headed to a luxury campsite and then drove nto Auckland. It was their holiday weekend & there was a big boat & food festival going on at the marina so we had a good wander around.

So this was our last night in NZ.
It had been an amazing few weeks, to be honest I can't believe I survived camping for so long! But we had such great fun, a real adventure and we loved it so much it's definitely a country we'd love to visit again as 3 weeks is just not long enough.

permalink written by  mich_and_dan_moors on January 24, 2012 from Wellington, New Zealand
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NZ....the camping fun begins here!

Queenstown, New Zealand

We'd booked into Nomads hostel & met up with Jonathan, our pal from Manchester who'd madly wanted to join us through NZ, who'd already arrived the day before. This was the first chance we'd got to get our heads together & try to plan & organise the next few weeks in NZ. However the most memorable event of that evening was tasting our very first Ferg Burger! Now there's a story behind this…..we'd met a few people in Nepal on the Everest Base Camp Trip who were from NZ & after getting some good tips of where to travel to from them, then then proceeded to tell us in great detail about the best ever burger joint called Ferg Burger. Now bearing in mind at this point we'd been walking for around 9 or 10 days,eaten only basic stuff & had been away from home for a few months so this really got out tastebuds going. So basically we'd been dreaming about having one since Nepal! As were were told to expect, there was a massive queue and about a 15 min wait for our order but it was pretty special to be honest, and so it was a very good first night for us in Queenstown. Oh the simple things!

Thurs 12th
We had a proper wander around the town, which was just beautiful……I can only describe it as being a bit like Windermere or Keswick in the Lake District, stunning moutains & hills all set around Lake Wakatipu. That day we set about doing 2 walks, the first was the Queentown walk and then we went up to the Skyline Gondola. The views were just fab. That evening I cooked for the first time in 10 months and it wasn't too bad! Practising ready for our camping extravaganza I cooked chilli beef pasta :-)
The next day (Friday the 13th!) the poor boys had to go mountain biking in the rain ;-) Well that's what THEY wanted to do……..so I had a bit of a lie in & enjoyed some peace & quiet. JT also did his first ever bungee jump whilst me & Dan tried to be organised & bought all of the camping gear - a 4 man waterproof tent, plates, cups etc, a gas cooking stove, aired mattresses & we also got our first lot of food supplies which was basically, pasta, tinned tomatoes & tuna. Lets get ready to camp!!!!

Sat 14th
We made our way to Milford Sound in our trusty car we'd hired - a very exclusive Gold Nissan Sunny, with the infamous beige interior & retro cassette deck. Nice!. We decided to stay a close as we could to the Sounds, but in a free site. Our strategy being that we'd rough it for 2 nights & stay at the DOC conservation areas which were either free or around $5 each, then every 3rd night we'd book into a serviced campsite. The site was right on the lake & we were bowled over at the setting. It could't have been any more remote or beautiful. So the boys set up camp & I made our first (of many!) camping meal extravaganzas - pasta with tom & veg sauce, with sausage in for the boys :-) I thinks we were all a bit excited as we started drinking & cooking pretty much a s soon as we arrived, so by about 3.30pm were were all a bit drunk! We ate sitting on the lake & it was very squiffy and special.

Sun 15th
We drove into Milford however the weather was a bit rubbish, quite overcast, cold & drizzly so we decided against going for a long trek and instead we took an 1hr 1/2 boat trip on the Sounds which was fab! We saw some incredible waterfalls as well as seas basking on the rocks & a family of dolphins! We stayed at the same campsite that night & I cooked a sausage curry which the boys did appreciate!!

We set off Wanaka, and had our minds set on a 'luxury' campsite! To be honest the last 2 nights had been pretty cold, although the setting was gorgeous is was very windy & a lot colder than we'd anticipated so the thought of a lovely hot shower was just too much to resist. After setting up camp we drove down to see the beautiful lake views….which were so great that we opted to buy some beer wine & cheese & have ourselves a little picnic by the lake

Tues 17th
We had an early start, ate breakfast & made some buttes in preparation for our 3hr walk to Rob Roy Glacier. This was about an hour or so drive from Lake Wanaka, and when we arrived we set off amongst the grassy hills & cows up to the Glacier. I wasn't sure what to expect really as I'd never seen a Glacier up close before, and in contrast to the forest & green hillside we'd just walked up it was incredible to see ice just a few hundred or metres or so above you!. When we got back to campsite we took advantage of the hot showers again before starting the drive towards our next destination - the Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers.

Weds 18th
So today was my Birthday!!! So I opened my lovely cards but then got straight back to business ......cooking breakfast & making butties for the day ahead as usual ;-) However I really couldn't complain because the day was very special. Walking up the glacier was an experience like nothing we'd ever done before. We had all the kit including crampons & ice picks etc and being amongst these huge vast glaciers when only a few hours before we were in the town centre was pretty amazing. My Birthday was topped off my a beautiful bottle of red wine & tuna pasta. Definitely a day I won't forget!

Thurs 19th
We spent the next few days in Kaikoura which is a bit like a seaside resort (but definitely not Blackpool!) and it's famous for whale watching and it's fresh fish. So the first thing we decided to do was head into the town centre and treat ourselves to fish & chips and eat them on the beach. Pure heaven!! Our campsite was right alongside the beach so when we got back to the site we took a few bottles of wine & made ourselves a campfire on the beach which was pretty impressive even if we do say so ourselves.
Unfortunately we weren't able to do a whale watching trip in Kaikora which was a bit disappointing. We went to book it but they told us the likelihood of seeing any whales was so remote we resigned ourselves to the fact that it just wasn't possible. Maybe next time, and we'd live to go back

Sat 21st
We'd made our way to the Abel Tasman national park the night before (which was a bit of a nightmare drive and we didn't get settled until 9.30pm) so that morning we headed into Kaiteriteri as we'd been told by a fellow backpacker that we absolutely must do a trek around this area. From here we booked a boat to Bark Bay & then walked back to Marahau which took us about 6 hours- we were knackered but it was totally worth it. The scenery was like anywhere you could imagine in the Caribbean.....turquoise blue sea & gorgeous little hidden bays.

The next day we drove up to Charlotte Sounds, but on the way we stopped off at Havelock as we'd read this was THE place to buy fresh mussels. We got 2kg (which was about 50 of the buggers!) for only $8, about 4 quid! We checked into campsite about lunchtime and then quickly headed off to do a bit of a trek. The weather wasn't great but we managed to squeeze about a 3hr walk in without getting wet which was v. lucky. We were so looking forward to our feast…I did one batch in white wine & cream sauce, the other in tomato & garlic & I have to say they were absolutely amazing. Such a treat but i'm sure that the 'back to basics' living we'd been doing for the past 8 days meant were were due a bit of luxury ;-)

Mon 23rd
Dan & Jonathan went for a bike ride early at 7am and I had a lie in! We leisurely made our way to the Ferry which we caught across to Wellington then stayed at a campsite about 14k outside of the city. That night was our opportunity to catch up on boring thing like laundry but after all of the walking we'd done we were in desperate need of clean clothes ;-)

permalink written by  mich_and_dan_moors on January 11, 2012 from Queenstown, New Zealand
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Definitely one of our most memorable New Years ever!!!!!

Singapore, Singapore

So we were pretty excited to be going back to Singapore......not only because the lovely Clare had made it so fab for us the first time around, but as a brucey bonus two of our bestest friends Jolene & Phil were flying out to meet us there too with their two kiddies Ed & Elle! So as soon as we met up with them we pretty much didn't stop. We headed straight to 'Little India' which we hadn't managed to get to on our last visit. To say Dan was a happy bunny was an understatement......the fact he was having a curry, his most favourite pasttime no matter where in the world he is), plus drinking beers with friends just topped it for him!

It was just so lovely to be with friends & we wanted them to have the best time ever so we'd planned a few places to visit. The first being East Coast park where the kids could enjoy splashing around in the sea (which they did!) & we 'just so happened' to come across a lovely Belgian Beer & Mussels bar :-)

It was the perfect start & build up to New Year! That night we all got ourselves glammed up, me & Clare shared a few glasses of fizz before we made our way to 'Overeasy restaurant' - our reservation for the big night ahead.

The location was just fab, it was right on the waters edge opposite the Marina Bay Sands hotel which gave us the best seats in the House for the fireworks

permalink written by  mich_and_dan_moors on December 30, 2011 from Singapore, Singapore
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Sanur, Indonesia

On the way to Bali & we'd already booked into 'Flashbacks' hotel in Sanur, it was the only place we'd had pre-booked since before we left the UK with it being Xmas and all (trying to be organised!) & when we arrived we definitely weren't disappointed. It was like a beautiful little haven, so very tranquil with a cute little pool. It felt a million miles away & just what we needed.
We met up Jonathan that night (a guy from Manchester whom we'd already met at Everest Base Camp) he drove up to us from Kuta, & then the next day we hired a moped & went to see him as he was leaving that day. Kuta was so much busier than where we sere staying & just so many motorbikes & typical aussie backpacker dudes - you know the type, lovely to look at but not much going on upstairs ;-). It was ok, but just not for us & we were glad to be staying a bit further out of the crowds. We left about 6pm that evening & what should have been a 50 min trip ended up taking us almost 3hrs! Yes we got lost & we discovered that the road signage in Bali is terrible. No excuse it really is.

The next few days we pretty much hung around at Flashbacks as it was just so peaceful, until we took our first trip off the island & went o the Gili Islands- we stayed at Gili Trawangan which is the largest of the islands (the other are called and it situated just across from Lombok. It's only 8k around the whole of the island and there are no vehicles here, only horse & carts. We took a snorkelling trip to the other 2 islands, Gil Meno & Gili Air and saw some amazing fish & coral as well as giant turtles which were incredible!!!. We met a lovely couple called Benito & Maya from Palma & had such a lovely day with them that in the evening we met up with them again & had a few drinks. Which turned into a few more & we didn't finish until about 2pm. In fact we know were were drake when we woke the next morning to discover that there had actually been a mini tornado that caused white a bit of damage to where we were staying & we hadn't even heard it!

Another place we were keen to visit was Ubud which on the map looked quite close to us to we decided we'd hire a couple of mountain bikes & take a trip. Well, after 18 miles just one way, a painful 2 1/2 hours of biking and a sore bottom later we finally arrived! I thought I was going to die! The ride there however was pretty spectacular, the villages & Balinese temples & buildings were very beautiful so that kind of made up for it ;-) And Ubud itself was a lovely, hippie like town. We decided that we'd definitely visit again, but next time take a motorbike!

As usual we decided that after a few days mooching about we were ready for one of our favourite pastimes…….a trek! So we booked a trip to Mount Batur Volcano, which involved being picked up from our hotel at 2am, taken to a small village where we managed to grab a quick coffee & then started our 1hr 1/2 walk at 4.30am. On the way up we couldn't really see anything to be honest, we'd got our torches at the ready & we culled only make out the pathway up. But when we arrived, and the sun rose the views were just spectacular. It was a fantastic little trip.

We had such a lovely time in Bali, obviously it was also special with it being Xmas, which although was very quiet was lovely even so - we enjoyed a traditional cooked diner on the beach & a few drinks so we definitely couldn't complain:-) But what was really great was just hiring a moped & scooting around the countryside. There are many beautiful landscapes & paddy fields, not to mention the famous sights such as the floating temple at Tanah Lot which was fab too.

permalink written by  mich_and_dan_moors on December 8, 2011 from Sanur, Indonesia
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Georgetown.......& Little India ;-)

George Town, Malaysia

After the fab time we'd had with our family we were a bit sad to be leaving Thailand, but seeing as Malaysia was so close to us it seemed rude not to make a stoop off there . Plus it was so easy for us, we just caught the Ferry from Phi Phi to Krabi, then took a mini bus straight into Georgetown. Having said that it was about a 15 hour journey' China Town' all within a few blocks of each other so there was plenty to see and do, all of which you can easily walk to as Georgetown isn't that big.
Needless to say we feasted ourselves on the Indian street food which took our memories back to all those moths ago back in March. Although we did have a few curries in Thailand, it made us realise just how much we missed Indian food, as well as the smells & sounds wafting out of the shops.

We also visited a few of the main attractions including the Giant lying Buddha (which does exactly what it says on the tin) , the cannons, and we took the cable car trip up to Penang Hill which was quite picturesque.

There's also a beach resort called Batu Ferringh which is only about an hour bus ride. We actually just missed a beach party that was happening there the next day. But even so we took advantage of the surroundings and spent a few luxurious hours in the Sheraton poolside bar!

It was great to actually get back to doing some 'real' backpacking in Georgetown. Sometimes we do feel like we're cheating a bit when we're enjoying beach resorts & not traipsing around places, visiting temples etc. so it was good to soak up a bit of culture and learn more about the country. Plus it made us feel less guilty about or next trip to Langkawi ;-)

permalink written by  mich_and_dan_moors on November 24, 2011 from George Town, Malaysia
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Fun with the family- part 2

Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

So the second leg of my Sis & Brother-in Law's trip was to Phi Phi & we'd all heard so much about it that I personally was just hoping that it would be as perfect & idyllic as I'd hoped.....and thankfully the views from the boat as we arrived didn't disappoint.

That night we pretty much made ourselves familiar with the Island the best way we know how.....by drinking on the beach & eating pizza late after a few too many!

The next day we decided to have a proper wander & so we took a walk up to the Viewpoint. And again the views were just breathtaking.

The little wander around in fact turned into about 3 hours of walking, trying to find our way down to a secluded beach cove which we never actually got too. A few wrong turns plus a big family of monkeys with whom we literally had a 'stand off' in the middle of the jungle with prevented us from actually getting to the beach!

The next day we took a snorkelling trip around Bamboo island, Mosquito island, Monkey island & Maya Bay (where the film 'The Beach' was filmed and it was such a fab day. The snorkelling was great, we saw so many fish, but just being out of the boat seeing around all of the Islands was so beautiful. Maya Beach was a little too touristy & very crowded but even so the scenery around there is to die for so it's just something you have to accept & get on with.

The rest of our nights in Phi Phi was pretty much spent drinking too many of the infamous 'buckets' - literally a sandcastle bucket with too much alcohol & too little mixer ;-) Ok so it's not the most glamorous drink ever but it was cheap & it certainly did the trick!

Another highlight was the early morning boat trip we took at 6.30am to Shark Point where the boys hoped to spot some Black Tip Reef Sharks. And thank goodness they did as me & Jo would never have heard the end of it!!! In the end the saw quite a few but me & Sis were just too scared to get into the water so we left them too it. Afterwards we chilled out on & soaked up the rays at Long Beach.

We all had such an amazing time in Ko Phi Phi. To be honest it wasn't quite the undiscovered paradise that I'd imagined it to be, it really as become a backpackers haven so its inevitable that there were more than a handful of people on the Island ;-) And I'm sure that the Tsunami has made it more popular now than ever......but none of this spoilt it for us as the sea is truly aqua blue & the views are like paradise. Plus we had our lovely family with us too so that made it extra special! xxx

P.S In the 7 days I think we ate pizza about 6 times (day & night) plus we had 2 curries. Ok, so we didn't go totally native but we had fun. And so this is our little tribute to my sister hubby who we love, and who really does love a curry :-)

permalink written by  mich_and_dan_moors on November 16, 2011 from Ko Phi Phi, Thailand
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Quote........'It's like Blackpool on Acid!

Phuket, Thailand

We missed out on visiting Bangkok because of the terrible flooding, and although we'd heard that it hadn't really hit the centre we just weren't prepared to risk it. So the main agenda here was to meet up with my lovely Sister & her hubby Bryan at Bangkok airport and fly out to Phuket.Exciting!!!

Unfortunately we had a 5 hour delay, and poor Jo & Bry had already been waiting for us for about 5 hours so it was an even longer wait for them. We finally arrived in Phuket at about 11pm and we were all knackered, but what we all agreed on was that we needed a bit of a drink and so we went out to the main Patong Beach area. Which is where my lovely sister described it as being like "Blackpool on Acid'. And to be honest it is!!

It's a mad place full of lots of tattoo covered tourists, pretty much enjoying themselves and the sights of the infamous 'go go girls........who will not only dance for you, but will keep you entertained (and thereby keep you drinking!) by playing bar games with you. So if you take accept the place, and the go go girls, and accept if for the cheesy fun place it is, then you'll probably enjoy it like we did.

One of our must do things was to see a Muay Thai boxing match and so we booked a ringside seat at the Bangla Boxing stadium, which was in fact pretty gruesome but so compelling to watch. As well as seeing boxers as young as around 8yrs old (who were bloody good!) I think the highlight for us was watching the only UK boxer on the bill who proceeded to jump over the ropes, fall flat on his face & then get knocked out in the first round! We were so proud. Not!

So Phuket for us was great fun. Outside of Patong Beach I believe there's a lot more beautiful places to see & visit but we were only here for a few days as a stop over to Phi Phi and so it fitted our purpose just fine.

permalink written by  mich_and_dan_moors on November 14, 2011 from Phuket, Thailand
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