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Cheeky Round The World Trip

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Los Angeles, United States

LA, home to Hollywood and the red carpet; to Beverley Hills and Bel Air; to Baywatch and to all my homies! Unfornately for us, after our 10 hour flight and 5 hour wait to get through customs, we didn't get any red carpet treatment, and nor were there any homies ready to pick us up in our ride and take us to our luxury house with a swimming pool in Bel Air. We can all dream hey! Instead we made it out of the airport without getting arrested and got into our share taxi to get to Hollywood where we had a hostel booked and promtly got ourselves settled and out for dinner. We decided that a week in LA and a week in San Francisco would give us plenty of time to see the things we wanted to see and to have some time to relax and maybe even do a little shopping!

First things first we took a walk around Hollywood Boulevard and headed towards the Mann's Chinese Theatre and the Kodak Theatre. We tried to find our favourite actors and singers on star signed pavements and failed miserably to find all of them as there are so many! But we did get the to find all the awesome hand and footprints outside the Chinese Theatre, you can check them all out in the photos section. We also took a walk through Sunset Boulevard and the surrounding area. The next day we went to Santa Monica Beach and the pier, where we got a better view of the smog over LA city, but there were no great views of any hot sunkissed beautiful people to make up for it so we were rather disappointed and headed out to Rodeo Drive in hope of spotting the David's and Pamela's of LA! After all the window shopping we got oursleves back to hostel and got an early night.

A visit to Los Angeles is incomplete without a visit to Universal Studios, home to hundreds of blockbuster movies and the sets of world famous dramas and series. Its also the home to some of the most amazing themed adventure rides. The classic still being the Studio Tour with viewings of the sets and the famous Jaws attack but joint best ride would have to go to the Back to the Future Ride. We wont spoil it and tell you whats involved, but if you dont do this ride, then dont do Universal Studios - its as simple as that!

We totally knackered ourselves out and decided to take the next day easy and visit the Getty Art Center. This was a tip given to us the day that we arrived, from a girl in the share taxi from the airport and it was certainly a gem worth passing on! The center is based in an area overlooking the hills of LA and is surrounded by lush green flora. It houses many artefacts, scupltures and works of art from around the world and across the ages. The center also houses a couple of exhibitions and is a great place to come and spend the day for free! We werent complaining!

The day before we had to pack and get ready to leave for San Francisco we took the time to a walking tour of Bel Air and Beverley Hills with our hostel; we got to see the houses of Marilyn Monroe, Freddie Mecury, Frank Sinatra, The Spellings, Playboy Mansion and many more. As we were walking we managed to get a better insight into a very different area of LA and got to see a lot more of the area and take it all in. We also fitted in Santa Monica Beach, and Rodeo Drive. LA isnt as bad as it is made out to be - As a tourist however we only saw one side to the whole place and had plenty of things to see and do during our stay. Anyway, if LA could be this good, we were certainly looking forward to going to San Francisco and seeing a friend of ours from Sydney.

permalink written by  Priya&Tim on April 9, 2007 from Los Angeles, United States
from the travel blog: Cheeky Round The World Trip
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Lost in the Pacific

Nandi, Fiji

Country number 10. Mission: Relax and do nothing.

The Pacific is literally an open vastness with hundreds of paradise islands scattered all over the place! If there was anywhere on this planet that we would choose to relax in, this would be at the top or very close to it! On the way into the main island of Fiji, we flew over several other islands, many that seemed so small you were't sure if they were real, and others that were full of lush green forests on mountainous land and surrounded by beuatiful reef. We landed into wonderfully hot and humid air and it was nice to feel warm again! We got through customs with no problems and was soon guided to our mini bus to the guesthouse in Nadi.

Most of Fiji is set up for tourism at the higher end of the scale, so instead of lots of hostels, there are more all-inclusive resort style places. We stayed at the Nadi Bay Resort Hotel where at budget prices, we still had a large pool, restaurant with evening entertainment, full hotel services and full size bar; all set in a property that spreads over just a few acres! We truly indulged and enjoyed our meal to the sounds of the acoustic duo, Joe and Tego who endlessly entertained us with Eric Clapton songs! We stayed here for a few days before we headed out by boat to the secluded island that we spent 6 nights on! The ride to Manta Ray Resort on Nanuya Balavu was hair-raising to say the least.....the waters were extremely choppy and almost everyone was being sick because the catamaran was being thrown all over the place with the very high waves! But a Welcome drink and a beautiful bure (our beach hut) looking out to the sea and white sand was more than enough to get our feet back on the ground.

We quickly settled into our bure and sure enough, we spent the next few days relaxing to our hearts content! We chilled out on the beach, and in the hut, and Tim did a lot snorkelling and took a fishing trip and caught something to bring back for the kitchen! We also joined in on a Kava Ceremony where it is tradition for visitors and their hosts to share a drink called Kava - it is a root that is dried and ground in Fiji, and mixed with water which makes the end product look like a muddy grey pool of water, and tastes like it too! I think it would be fair to say that a good time was had by all, so when it was time to leave and head back to Nadi for one more night before we fly off to the last country; it was sad to say goodbye! And just after we had gotten used to the intense heat, we didnt want to leave the southern hemisphere for the cold and grey smog of LA!

permalink written by  Priya&Tim on March 31, 2007 from Nandi, Fiji
from the travel blog: Cheeky Round The World Trip
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30th March 2007 - We Will Miss You - Nathan Francis - Aged 13

Los Angeles, United States

Nathan Francis, I was blessed to have been given the time to spend with you and my family in Melbourne just before leaving Australia.

The rest of my travels will be in your honour Nathan; Your smile will never be forgotten.

God Bless.

permalink written by  Priya&Tim on March 30, 2007 from Los Angeles, United States
from the travel blog: Cheeky Round The World Trip
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Stressed out in Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand

We made it to our last destination in NZ, got some dinner and realised that we had approximately 48 hrs to get ourselves sorted for Country number 10! So after trying to get a good nights rest so that we could wake up early (well early-ish!) we headed out into the city center determined to get everything figured out. Unfortunately this did mean that we didnt have the chance to explore Auckland as much as we wanted to and it was too late to change the flights! So, after all the time we did spend in Auckland, the only picture we have, is of the view of the Auckland Sky Tower from our hostel room window!

We did however get to book ourselves on a tour for Fiji and one its islands, where the plan is to just do nothing except relax! We picked up some Fijian dollars, got a hostel booked for LA and San Francisco, finally caught up with the backlog of emails we had to send out, got my brother his birthday card, sent off some postcards and a huge bulk of paper work to home, and picked up a few books to read for the remining part of our travels! We also managed to find some time to chill out and enjoy Auckland City Nightlife, and had a few drinks in a pub where we met some locals and got involved in a few games of pool! Sweet Bro!

Even though we were stressed out with all the organising of the onward travelling, and we didnt get to see much of Auckland; we did have an amazing time just being here and we could probably memorise every shop on Queen St and High St as we spent so much of our time walking up and down every day!!! New Zealand has just been a fantastic place to visit and we really got to see a lot of the country, more than we ever ever ever imagined! This will definatley be a place that both of us would love to return to, and see the rest of the country that we just didnt have the time nor money to see while we were here!

permalink written by  Priya&Tim on March 21, 2007 from Auckland, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cheeky Round The World Trip
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Glow Worms Galore

Waitomo Caves, New Zealand

Another whirlwind of a journey and we found ourselves in Waitomo - a part of the country famous for its cave sites and glow-worms grottos. When we arrived here, it reminded us a lot of Milford Sounds, in the sense that there really is nothing here apart from the land around you and unless you filled your time up caving and exploring, you could only realistically stay here for one or two nights at the most. As it happened, we were here for one night, so as soon as we arrived at the YHA, we booked ourselves on the combo tour of Ruakuri Caves and Waitomo Glow worms Cave. The first tour gave a very indepth look into caving and how they are formed, discovered and developed. We also got a very thorough introduction to the world of the glow-worms....actually they are in their maggot stages when they are able to emit light from their bums (a result of emzyme and other chemical reactions giving out bio-luminescense - told you we learnt something!!!) and then turn into flys with no mouths. Weird huh!!!

The second tour was definately one for your average tourist, with well laid chambers and brief introductions to the world of caves and glow-worms, but still just as exciting and certainly just as memorable. Especially with the final part of the tour conducted on a boat in the pitch dark, where as you float down the river through the cave to one of the entrances; you look up and find that there is a blanket of green stars above your head as the cave is lit up with thousands of glow-worms. When you are there, it is quite a sight to take in; but again, due to flash photography disturbing the worms, we could not take any photos of this wonderful underworld! Sorry!

permalink written by  Priya&Tim on March 18, 2007 from Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cheeky Round The World Trip
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Natural Gases like the ones you and I can make!

Rotorua, New Zealand

Smelly Smelly Smelly Rotorua! If you are not one for foul eggy smells that you certainly are not one for Rotorua. This is the place that started New Zealand tourism, and yes, for its smells! Amongst other things too! Rotorua is the thermal land, where the Earths crust lays only 15,000 meters thick before you hit melting hot magma. Rotorua is a very beautiful town, and has a relatively relaxed atmosphere due to its abundancy of hot pools and spa resorts. However, wherever there are any of these hot springs, there is also a sulphurous smell about the place, and this can quickly spread to fill the air of the whole city. Standing next to some of the pools is enough to make you want to throw up!

The thermal villages are world renowned and the hot springs are still places of great importance. For the Maori people that centered themselves around this area, they soon depended on the hot water for culinary purposes and also treated them as luxury hotspots....no surprises there really! But be warned before you dip your toes in, some of these hotsprings if not most of them would actually scald you and scar you for life if you so much as had a droplet touch you! They are really hot and the sound of steam rumbling beneath rocks only prove to you that the Earth's might is small eruption away!

However, Rotorua also offers some of the best and purest of Spring Water in NZ. We went to visit one of these Springs - Rainbow Springs which is also where a trout and nature park is set up. Here we got a huge insight into New Zealand's native flora and of course the Silver Leaf Ferns, and also got to learn more about Maori culture in relation to the environment. We coupled this visit to the 'Kiwi Encounter' Sanctuary nearby where there is an on-going project to rejunivate the Kiwi population. This in itself was a great experience and we got to see these wonderful nocturnal creatures in their natural surrounds. Strange creatures really - flightless, very long beaks, , but cute nonetheless. For the wellbeing of the Kiwi's, you cannot take any photos of them, so you will have to make do with the taxidermies to get an idea of what they look like!

permalink written by  Priya&Tim on March 17, 2007 from Rotorua, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cheeky Round The World Trip
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Time to Skydive or not.....

Taupo, New Zealand

Following the tranquility of Napier, it was off to the Real Adventure Capital of New Zealand - Taupo. Set on the largest lake of the North Island, Taupo is a growing city that has catered for adventure activities for a very long time. We were eagerly awaiting our arrival to Taupo to get a chance to maybe do a skydive and/or do the Tongariro National Park Crossing. However, when we arrived, we faced the coldest of coldest weathers, plenty of rain and galeforce winds. The day we arrived clearly wasn't going to allow us to do very much at all! To our disappointment, we also found out that the crossing would be closed for the next three days - guess what - thats how long we had. We couldnt believe our luck! We hoped that the weather would pick up but the strong high winds, meant that many skydive operators either were simply not flying or postponing their trips. As for the crossing, it was snowing in the mountains, and visability was zero. A no go for sure!

Financially, it wasnt so bad to take a break and not spend the cash, but it did mean that we wouldnt be able to do Taupo the way we wanted to. However, it did give us the opportunity to make full use of the happy hours on the internet cafes and it also gave us the chance to take the shuttle bus to Huka Falls. One of the biggest falls in New Zealand, that chucks through tonnes of water every second and has the capacity to supply 75% of the North Islands Power or 15% of New Zealands total power supply! Quite a waterfall I think you will agree! From Huka Falls we did a little bush walk up the hills and alongside the river; through a spooky pine forestry and the back farms of Taupo to the geo-thermal power station and back again . Again, another excellent afternoon out whilst it had stopped raining so we weren't complaining!

permalink written by  Priya&Tim on March 15, 2007 from Taupo, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cheeky Round The World Trip
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Art Deco City

Napier, New Zealand

"Something different" was our plan, so after Wellington we decided that we would take a break from scenery and lakes, and city living and hikes etc... and headed out to a small town called Napier.
Napier is set on the East Coast of the North Island, and is a remarkable place in its own right. The North Island is a newly formed land mass geologically speaking; New Zealanders often feel hundreds of Earthquakes and scientists will mesaure a thousand more! The North Island also features some of the worlds' most spectacular volcanic sites. So what does all this have to do with Napier??? Napier was inhabited quite early on by Maori people and later by westerners. As it developed and the western settlement grew into a township by the late 1920's, it was not predicted to be an unsafe area and was relatively level to the sea. However, in the early 1930's Napier suffered a particularly severe earthquake that measured 7.4 on the Richter scale; the earthquake ripped through the town, and raised up land from beneath the sea several miles out. A fire then gutted what was left of the rubble and debris.
This leads on to why Napier is a glimpse of how things used to be....all of Napier was rebuilt in what was the Art Deco Period, and today much of the architecture remains exactly how it was, including the parks, walkways and the very typically english pebble beach promenade. Up to now, the Napier Annual Festival, decks every building and every person in the 1930's Art Deco style and fashion; and the whole place is transformed to a past time that locals are clearly quite proud of.

We really enjoyed Napier because it really was something different and a chance to enjoy a very different New Zealander lifestyle. We also got the opportunity to visit a working gallery and pay a visit to Napiers many antique and tribute shops.

permalink written by  Priya&Tim on March 13, 2007 from Napier, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cheeky Round The World Trip
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Well Well Well - Its Wellywood in Wellington!

Wellington, New Zealand

Hangover + awful night sleep due to our new drunk dorm-mate + his girl friend he brought back for the night + leaving at 8am to get our ferry ride to the North Island = a very unimpressed Tim and Priya! ;o)

We didnt let our miserable night of no sleep hinder us, and in fact the ferry ride was very enjoyable and comfortable. Instead of the counterpart ferry rides that we had encountered throughtout South East Asia; taking the 'Waitaki' Ferry across the Cook Straight was neither a hair raising thrill on a small and overcrowded vessel nor going at warp-speed! We were in fact on a full size ferry like the ones you would use to cross the english chanel, so we were very happy to board and feast on a cheap but tasty lunch and walk around the ferry to find ourselves a comfy recliner and take a nap! We did view some of the scenery as it is a beautiful crossing to make as you meander gently through the straight, but the temptation of recliner lounge chairs were too much of a temptation for us!

As we pulled into the wharf, we realised we were in a BIG city; if you are in the South Island, what is classed as a city to New Zealanders, is to us in the UK, something the size of Basingstoke or larger. So to be in a city of a size that Tim and I enjoy being in, it was easy and quick enough to get from the wharf to where we were staying at - a hostel called Wellywood nonetheless! We familiarised ourselves with the nearby surroundings, and found ourselves a supermarket to get food sorted! And basically just enjoyed our first night in! The next day we took a walk through all the districts of Wellington and found ourselves to be at the right place at the right time to see the Junior Dragon Boat Race which was pretty cool! Then we took the cable car up to the viewpoint in the botanical gardens - this was quite a nice location and possibly one of the nicer botanical gardens we have been to. Not only did they have all the usual unique flora and fauna, but they also had some excellent viewing points, and the place wasnt ridiculously sprawled out over too large an area. So a nice afternoon was had, and a long walk back to the city found us at a cool secondhand bookstore where we picked up a couple of books to chill out with! Sweet As Bro!

permalink written by  Priya&Tim on March 11, 2007 from Wellington, New Zealand
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Sun and fun in Paradiso

Nelson, New Zealand

Our first night in Nelson was spent relaxing and having a few beers in our guesthouse (entitled Paradiso in case you are wondering about the heading of this trip report). We were lucky enough to be sharing a room with a Dutch guy who was as interested as we were in getting a good nights sleep so we were in bed by 10.30 pm! just like being back at school. Besides, we had our wine tour booked for the next day, so it was essential that we got our rest and up early to have a decent breakfast!

However, the much needed rest really was much needed, and so a decent breakfast wasnt quite what we had, and thus as you will see in the photos, we are looking a little too jovial! As we are aware of, its not often that Tim smiles for the camera with little convincing! That said, the real reason that we really did have fun in the sun, was that on our wine tour, we sampled around 25 wines in th space of five hours, and these tasters were often quite generous! If you think we were going to use the spitoons, think again!

The tour itself was very inforamtive and very sociable, it wouldn't be the type of tour you would choose if you are a wine buff. However, for novices like ourselves with a keen interest in wine, as we did pick up a few nice ones in Australia (where funnily enough its cheaper to pick up NZ wines!), the tour proved to be excellent in providing basic knowledge and understanding of fine wines and food, and was also a great way to enjoy the day. We visited a winery first off (Great Escape), and enjoyed a platter of finger food to appreciate what types of food go with which wines, and there was also an opportunity to sample various liquers. After, it off to Brightwater - a vineyard with its own winery where we got to see how the wine is made both the oak barrel methods and the steel barrels. Then we headed to the largest vineyard estate in the Nelson region - Waimea, where we sampled yet more wines, and finally it off to Stafford Lane, a vineyard and olive grove where we sampled various olive oils - tapas style and finished off with...yes you guessed it.....more wines. Homeward bound and it was time to finish our day with a Thai meal before getting some sleep!

permalink written by  Priya&Tim on March 9, 2007 from Nelson, New Zealand
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