For those that missed it the first time; directions to our new site.
For those that missed it the first time; directions to our new site.
Hi all, long time no see, although we’ve probably been seeing you in person!
We’re getting ready to set off again and so we’ve set up a new blog site. We’ve already done one post, (well I have!) it’s a little different but worth a sticky beak, especially if you like cars.
So if you wanna follow us for round 2, click on the link below and hit the +Follow button. It’s right up the top of your screen in the black bar, towards the left hand side.
Greg & Shaz
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been travelling for 12 months, it certainly doesn’t feel anything like it and we’re not homesick for Australia apart from missing friends and family. Looking back through the blog (glad we have it to remember things), it’s amazing just how much we have done this year; it’s tiring just thinking about it!
Travelling for such a long time to so many places has given us a different perspective on the world and how we fit in it; the process has changed us, hopefully for the better.
We’ve been able to travel really flexibly this year, normally not booking more than a couple of days in advance so that we could travel where the mood took us. The only times we booked further in advance was when we needed to be somewhere at a specific time, like the Wedding & Carnival, the Singapore Grand Prix, when a Visa was expiring and the flight home.
Enzo & Clarissa’s Wedding & Carnival in Brazil, fun with Friends
Iguazu Falls, most amazing natural wonder we’ve seen
Elephant park in Chiang Mai, what a privilege
Seeing friends and family that we were able to meet on tour
Meeting all manner of people from all walks of life
Completing the ride across France
Turkey, especially Istanbul, biggest surprise of the trip
Bariloche, just beautiful
Atacama Chile, totally unique
Gyrocopter ride in Costa Rica, cool way to get around
Playing with Tigers in Chiang Mai
Losing Camera in Brazil with all of our Iguazu falls photos
Leaving the Kindle and my awesome headphones behind on one of the flights
Bed Bugs in Castelnaudry France, our only encounter with them thankfully
Seeing a truck full of dogs going to the market for you know what in Vietnam
Dealing with Lufthansa and the quality of Lufthansa Business and Lounges
Coffee everywhere in South America, just terrible
Being chased by a pack of wild dogs in Buenos Aires, we were where we shouldn’t be as a result of Sharen insisting that we walk to the Airport fence to watch the planes.
Being chased by a dog while walking in Fethiye Turkey, the only reason that it didn’t get us was that it was on a long chain.
Being chased by dogs again in Costa Rica when we decided to take a short-cut through someones home.
Opening my eyes on a bus ride in Vietnam to see another bus on a collision course, last minute swerving by both drivers narrowly avoided a crash.
Places we could live
Barcelona, great food, great wine, great lifestyle and close to everything Europe has to offer
Istanbul, really young and cool, could live very well here
Beaune France, fantastic wineries, great food and wine, beautiful villas, close to Paris
15 Countries represented by these Buddy Bears that we first saw in Vienna a few years ago. They ship them around the world to bring a message of Peace. This time they were in Kuala Lumpur.
43 Flights on 17 different airlines! Sorry to any environmentalists out there.
Qantas, TAM, Aerolineas Argentinas, Copa Airlines, Nature Air, LAN Chile, GOL, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Blue, AeroPerlas, EasyJet, AirAsia, FireFly, Thai Air Asia, Vietnam Airlines
345 nights’ accommodation in over 100 hotels, apartments and B&B’s
Cheapest hotel, just $23/night in Vietnam
Most expensive hotel $700/night in Buenos Aires
Best hotel $500/night in Singapore
100 Blog posts with over 10,000 views
Most comments related to Greg’s hair!
6,023 Photographs, the novelty has worn off a bit
100 + Trip Advisor reviews
Air Transports: Aeroplane, Helicopter, Gyrocopter, Baloon, Zipline
Land Transports: Horse, Car, Bus, TukTuk, Cyclo, Three-wheel moto taxi, Rikshaw, Scooter/Motorbike, Bicycle
Water Transports: Dinghy, Kayak, Rowboat, Speedboat, Long Boat, Ferry, Junk, Gullet
Most Useful Items: Smartphones followed by Notebook. Really the only way we could travel the way we have.
Most Useful Websites: Booking.com, Kayak.com, Tripadvisor, Facebook, Google Maps
We look forward to catching up with everyone to share our stories and catch-up on all that we have missed throughout the year.
Shaz & Greg
We had 2 days to fill before our flight home to Melbourne and rather than spend it in hot and busy Kuala Lumpur, we travelled down to Malacca. Malacca is a UNESCO heritage listed town as a result of it’s historic trading role as the hub of the East Indies. It was settled originally by the Portuguese in the 1500’s and then conquered many times by the Dutch, English, Japanese and finally the Malay. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a tourist trap that they are trying to develop into something more significant.
It’s a favourite weekend destination of the Singaporeans and Malaysians so when we arrived on a Sunday it was literally gridlock. We’re staying in a lovely hotel that is a beautiful old mansion for our last few days. Tomorrow we head-off to Kuala Lumpur for a short flight to Singapore then on Singapore Airlines A380 to Melbourne.
We did a quick 2 days sightseeing on the Mekong Delta on all sorts of boats and watched the people that live here, carve out the same existence they’ve lived for who knows how many years?!
You’d expect the major town here of Can Tho to be tiny and quiet, but no. This is Asia and it’s populated! So Can Tho has around 1.2m people and it seems just as many scooters but apart from being the starting point for Mekong Delta tours and transport services to Cambodia, it doesn’t have much else going for it. We did wander through an amazing fish market where the produce was incredibly fresh – you pick your fish and it’s banged on the head, gutted & scaled and put in a bag ready to cook for dinner in a moments flash. I think some of those fish were still flapping too as their fins were removed. If you ever have to sell food at a market in a 3rd world country, make sure you sell vegies!
We also took a “shortcut” that turned in to a long meandering walk through some tiny little back streets and what a ruckus we caused! I don’t think too many westerners have made it in here and we had all of the kids practicing their hello’s to us. We also got a good look at how life is lived here because everything is done right there on the street. The kids play, the motorbike is washed & serviced, dinner is cooked and cleaned up, hair is groomed (they pluck out the grey hairs!) and TV is watched all out on the street. Usually the front room of the house is fully open to the street and at night, the scooter is brought inside and the shutter door brought down on their very small home.
Once out of the city this place is all water. They have soooo much water! Our guide commented that Australians in particular, note the huge amount of water here; although it all looks like the Yarra!
As you’d expect in all of this water, the majority of locals live on boats. These take all sorts of shapes and sizes and are also the form of income for the family. So a family, often including the dog, will spend their life on the boat. They live on it, travel up river to buy their produce and then transport it back to the Delta to sell at the market; which is also held on the river. Alternatively, they live in stilted houses along the river’s edge, but it seems that many of these are illegal and the families – who appear to have nothing in the world apart from the corrugated iron sheet that forms their “home” – are just told to move elsewhere whenever the government requires it.
We stopped in at a couple of production places. One made a variety of food out of rice, including pop rice! I guess when all you have is rice you get to be pretty creative with how you can eat it. What is striking is just how manual everything is here. There’s no machinery or automation involved; just lots of cheap labour.
After Mekong, we’re out of Vietnam as we run out of visa, so it’s back to Malaysia for a quick stop before heading home to Oz. Vietnam has been fabulous; so different to Singapore and Malaysia & even Thailand. The natural scenery outside of the cities has been amazing and it’s also been incredible to watch this country that lives literally on the street.
We’re both a bit worried about how we’ll go driving back home! We’ll expect to be able to just walk or drive out into a bunch of traffic and have it part for us! But I won’t miss the honking or the Asian equivalent to Richard Clayderman that seems to be the soundtrack here!
Dalat is a quaint little town just 30min flight from Saigon. It’s known as the honeymoon capital of Vietnam and is accordingly kitch. It is also an important growing region in Vietnam due to it’s more mild weather. This milder weather made Dalat popular with the French when they were in Vietnam, resulting in a lot of French Villas being developed including an early Sofitel resort now abandoned.
We decided the best way to see it would be riding a scooter, so we set off with our guide on three scooters through the countryside and discovered flower farms, coffee plantations, waterfalls and the ‘crazy house’. It’s great to ride on a scooter and really experience Vietnam as the locals do, also surprisingly easy to ride in what looks like chaotic traffic but actually works quite well. Simple rule, don’t hit anyone and you’re good. The other amazing thing, just $30 for 3 scooters and a guide for the day!
We had low expectations for Saigon after being told by a few people that they didn’t really like it and as so often is the case, low expectations often results in a surprisingly good experience. So it was for Saigon.
Saigon is Vietnam’s largest city, so it is quite commercial and busy. I reckon half the world’s population of scooters must be based here as they are literally everywhere and represent at least 90% of all the traffic. If they have a much bigger take-up of cars on the roads here, there simply won’t be any room for them, as it is the scooters take to the footpaths when the roads become too congested!
Saigon has quite a French influence from when it was colonised by them, the city centre containing a number of beautiful old buildings scattered amongst the typical Vietnamese mess of buildings, commerce and people. Like the rest of Vietnam, life happens at the street level here which makes it fascinating to watch, we’re afraid Melbourne is going to seem so clean, clinical and quiet after Vietnam!
Saigon is home to the War Remnants Museum, which was formerly known as Saigon Exhibition House of American War Crimes. It is full of photographic evidence of the brutality of the Vietnam war and the worldwide protests against the war. Most horrifying are the effects of Agent Orange and the number of severely disabled people still in the country as a result of the birth defects it causes. In spite of it’s disturbing displays, it really is something everyone should see while in Saigon.