Lara's Blog

Sunday, 10 January 2010


Christmas eve
Christmas Day was spent at the Bird and Flower market, a temple and a park
These kites were being flown so amazingly high you could barely even see them!

Christmas Dinner with Rice wine:

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Itinerary for China and HCMC Trip

23rd Dec 2009: Syd --> Hong Kong
24th Dec: HK --> Kunming
25th Dec - 3rd Jan: Intrepid Tour Yunnan Province: Kunming - Dali - Lijiang - Zhongdian - Kunming
4th Jan 2010: Kunming --> HK --> Macau
5th Jan: Macau --> HK
9th Jan: HK --> Ho Chi Minh City (11th-15th at Cho Ray Hospital)
19th/20th Jan: HCMC --> Sydney

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Africa - Tanzania and Zanzibar. Flight Itinerary

Getting there...
Fri 11th Jul 9:50am Depart Syd, Arrive Jo'burg at 4pm
Sat 12th Jul 10:05am Depart Jo'burg, Arriving Dar es Salaam at 2:35pm

Within Africa...
14JUL DARJRO 0730 (Dar es Salaam - Kilimanjaro)
19JUL ARKZNZ 1530 (Arusha - Zanzibar)

25JUL ZNZJNB 0920 (Zanzibar - Jo'burg)

Going away...
Sat 26th 4:20pm, depart Jo'burg, arrive Perth at 7:30am on Sun 27th
Sun 27th 10am, depart Perth, arrive Sydney 4pm

12-14 July: Da es Salaam
14 July: Flight to Kilimanjaro at 07h30 on PW2420.
14-15 July: Ngorongoro Crater tour
16 July: Oldupai Gorge, often called the “cradle of mankind”, the place where the remains of early human settlements were found. Then continue to Serengeti.

17 July: Full day at Serengeti
18 July: Manyara

19 July: Arusha for flight to Zanzibar on PW431 at 15h35 arriving at 16h45.
20 July -24 July : Zanzibar Beach Resort
25 July flight to Johannesburg at 920am

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

some more puppy photos

He sleeps a lot :)


I got a new puppy on Saturday! He's 8 weeks old and his name will probably be Henry. He's a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, same as Benji and Bibi

The breeders were in Tahmoor and so he had a long car trip home in a box:

meeting zoe for the first time

He kinda goes crazy for about half an hour, then crashes for about two! It took James 4 days to catch the puppy when he was awake.

exhausted after his big day! (and covered in Zoe saliva)

Sunday, 28 January 2007

catch up...

Wow i can't believe blogger actually loaded.... Last day in PP, we're heading to Bangkok tonight.... v excited about copy bags and DVDs
Yesterday we went to the Russian Markets in PP and got some DVDs too... unfotunately after buying the complete series of grey's anatomy and seasons 4 and 5 of scrubs i only had $2 left so no movies for me.
In the arvo went to the Genocide museum (again). this time with everyone else and we watched the 1hr documentary.
Today we visited the royal palace and silver pagoda. Silver pagoda is so named cos its floor is covered in 1kg silver tiles. very cool. there are lots of buddha statues and other things that are silver, gold and have diamond and other gemstones inlaid. Very pretty. The place has remained like this becuase the khmer rouge decided not to destroy it to pretend to the outside world that they were protecting cambodia's heritage. although it didn't stop them from destroying 60% of the stuff in there anyway.
ok i'm going to copy in a couple of emails ive written just to catch the blog up (rather than REtype)....

26th Jan 2007

Hi everyone!!!!
7 days left of my holiday... then i will start looking for a puppy!!!.... (and a job)
I think my last email was from nahtrang.
We all flew to Ho Chi Minh City, then i leftthe others and they continued to phu quoc island. I had a couple of days in HCMC by myself. I went on a tour of the cu chi tunnels and the caodai temple.Cao Dia is a relgion that has been influenced by hinduism, buddhism, catholocism, confuscionism, taoism.... i can't remember exactly but something like that. The templ was pretty amazing, all bright colours and dragons (and left eyes, the eye close to ur heart). Cu chi tunnels were WAY smaller than the vinh moc ones in the DMZ. the only way to get through them is to crouch-walk. My legs were feeling that for the next few days! I crawled through the full 200m available (most ppl can't make it through the 1st 100m due to claustrophibia) and my legs almost died. even the soldier taking me made us rest halfway through the 2nd 100m!!!! the tunnels are incredible though, how anyone could live there is amazing. we were also shown the way they dissipated the smoke from cooking, so no plumes would be sent up to warn the enemy. oh and i also shot an AK47. Bit of a cop out though cos its bolted to the table so no kick :)
in HCMC i also went to the war crimes museum which has photographs from the vietnam war ("american war") of people about to be killed, or killed, and photographs of the victims of agent orange. Very full on.
next i arrived in phnom penh and met up with my mum.
aaaah the intercontinental hotel!!!!!! that's what i was made for :) My mum was workign during the day so i relaxed by the pool and had massages (hard life). Sally, one of the ppl workign with her, is an austrlaian that has been living in PP for 3 yrs. She can speak Khmer and would take us around to shops and restaurants and night. Very nice! She also took me out to see the diabetic clinic in teh slums. Interesting to see how thy all live.... and although incredibly poor they seem happy. Difficulty with having diabetes in these sorts of countries is the doctors are poorly trained in the disease, and people can't afford treatment. Oh and no fridges to store the insulin. on the weekend we went up to Siem Reap and visited Angkor Wat. Its amazing. the intricacies of the carving!!! also visited another temple that has been overgrown by massive trees. apparently they used it in Tomb Raider (now i'll have to see the movie!)
my mum left on the monday and i've been in Phnom Penh by myself since. Its been nice although very hot. I'm staying on the riverfront where there are lots of international restaurants and expat bars. I've got a nice tuktuk driver (the motorbikes that pull a covered cart thing - much safer than catching motorbikes, head injury is the number one cause of death in cambodia and i've seen at least 3 accidents while i've been here). I've visited the genocide museum (another full on museum. it is in an old high school that was converted to a prison during the khmer rouge and of the 17000 prisoners only aboiut 12 survived the torture.)and the killing fields (where the prisoners were killed, usually bludgeoned to save bullets). both full on. as well as some nicer stuff like shopping, the national museum and having massages. Yesterday an elephant walked down teh street under my balcony. very random! but I think he lives on the hill with the temple and is walked every afternoon.
the others arrive about 1pm today, we head to bangkok on the 28ththen home on the 2nd!
thanks for all the emails, i've read most of them (except for your one about the cat case mich, as much as i love cats........)
see you allsoon

12th Jan 2007

Hey every one, I hope Australia has warmed up a bit and actually tried to give you a summer! i'm in Nah Trang - at the beach finally! Bu ti can't load blogger on this computer for some reason so can't upload (you all must be devestated)
Anyway the DMZ tour north of Hue was good - Vinh Moc Tunnels and visiting Khe Sanh were probably the highlights. The tunnels haven't been enlarged for westerners (unlike the cu chi tunnels outside ho chi minh city). All the men and a lot of the women had mud down their shoulders from bumping into the wet muddy walls as we walked (crouched??) along in the darkness. Pretty amazing.
Back to Hoi An to meet KC!!!!!!! the next 5 days were speant ordering and collecting shoes and clothes (between the 5 of us we got an extra 52 pairs of shoes. FIFTY TWO!!!!!) and avoiding the rain. It was fun at first but a lot of thigns didn't turn out as expected so a bit of frustration and disappointment!!! Mine was pretty much fine cos i ordered a lot of thongs (can't really go wrong) and not many clothes. Unfortunately during our time in Hoi An KC got sick. So sick in fact we called the dr. After he gave her an injection he tried to throw the (recapped) needle into our hotel bin but i said "NOOO!!!!!" and told him to take it with him to the hospital. He thought i was very good. haha. (Anyway she's much better now, just can't enjoy the food very well.) So anyway cos she was sick (and alurelle got sick the next day but not as bad) i didn't want to leave the two of them alone. Nat and Cassie went to Marble mountain and China beach (which were both good apparently)
Now we are in Nah Trang and had our first day at the beach yesterday!! I got a massage on teh beach - which i think i'm now bruised from. In the arvo we had mud baths at the hot springs. Pretty funny. green mud everywhere! Going on a boat tour tomorrow i think snorkelling will be involved.
I leave the group on the 14th at HCMC airport while they continue on to Phu Quoc Island. I have 3 nights in HCMC (just managed to book a hotel after calling FIVE places that were booked out) then i fly to Pnom Penh to meet my mum for a few days before rejoining the group again.
At the moment We're meant to get to bangkok on the 28th jan and stay 3-4 days. Laurelle Kc and I are still going at this stage but if any new developments occur we'll try to change our flights. If anyoen hears anythign i'd appreciate an update.
Anyway keep emailing me :) see you all soon

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Hue... and reasonably not slow internet!!!!!

In Hue!!! and the internet is fast dialup.... almots like slow broadband! its incredible! AND i can load hotmail!!!! So def time for an update. Thanks for your emails people. I mostly can read them (eventually) but replying is another matter. In Hoi An it takes half an hour to access one email. SMS has been fine up until now.
So where was i.... Halong Bay... Cat Ba island!!!

Ok after the bike ride..... or not as the case was for laurelle and me, we went to our hotel, had lunch, then wandered around the island a little. It was kinda like a ghost town. Desolate. Except for all these people on motorbikes who kept wanting us to hire them (with nowhere to go!) or the pearl ladies trying to bully us into buying pearls! In the afternoon we were taken by boat to Monkey Island where we went kayaking again and fed monkeys bananas (and the guide gave one a can of coke which it proceeded to drink!!). That was kinda cool, except that there were all these signs warning us not to go near the monkeys cos they bite, and our guide had given us bananas!! i think they were some kinda baboon. Later Nat and Cassie went out separately to buy pearls and because they didn't go to the same lady they bought 1 ring from they were abused!!! "F--- you! F--- you Australia! F--- your father! F--- you!"
they were really scared and didn't go back out after that!!!!!

So all in all not the best experience.

Back in Hanoi for 4 hrs or so (amazing how we killed the time [the supermarket sells oreos for 80c a pack, its great! and i have converted Cassie to the wonders of chocolate oreos {as opposed to the normal white filled ones}]) and then on the 11pm overnight train down to Denang! We thought the train got in around 1130am but ended up getting there after 1pm!!! loooong trip. 14hrs of fun! they gave us meals on the train, not that we ate any of it. dried noodles for breakfast and rice with weird compartmentalised meat/veges at lunch... hmmm.
anyway we negotiated a deal to get us to hoi an ($10 us for the 4 of us to get a private mini van, as opposed to the $50 the taxi guy was asking!) and yaaaaaay we made it. FINALLY. That afternoon what lse could we do in hoi an but hit the markets :)
Hoi An is great. The town has a nice feel to it, there is less traffic than Hanoi, the food is much better than Hanoi, there is a beach and there are tailors!!!!! We didn't make it to the beach in the 3 days we were there, because it was aabsolutely pouring with rain. hopefully we will get some sun when we're back there in a few days time. Well Laurelle and I hired bikes and cycled the 6km there and back. The beach was quite nice, but yeah overcast. A girl on the beach selling necklaces and bracelets came and chatted to us for a while (wanting us to buy something but also to practice her english) and told us its easy to get a job in Vietnam if you are tall and have a good body, even if you are ugly. So weird that physical appearance matters so much! But she was very nice and said she was studying English and uni (5 yr course) and wanted to become a tour guide.
We have eaten much better food here, (some crap of course but you win some...) and lots of seafood. Laurelle is obsessed! and Cassie is a close second!! And the tailors. Its interesting, you walk along the street and ppl come up to you and chat for ages about where you're from, how long you've been in Hoi An etc. then want you to come to their shop. The first time we went along with it, but now we're starting to get sick of it. the trick is to tell them you're leaving that day or you already have a tailor and they leave you alone!
I've gotten a couple of pairs of shoes made (one pair are too small and i've asked them to remake... who knows what will actually happen. the woman tried to convince me that my feet were swollen because i walk a lot more in her country than in my country and when i go home they will fit but no, they were def at least one size too small!!!! hard time convincing her of this fact though), and i'm in the process of getting a dress made and a trench coat type thing. the clothes i've ordered are from the expensive tailor called Yaly. I haven't bothered with the market because althought the market is cheaper, i think the Yaly final product will be more reliable. Anyway we'll see! Laurelle is buying another bag before we leave Hoi An... i may try to hold out til Bangkok when i will stock up on copies!!! (if we make it to bangkok, keep me updated with any developments. We're meant to be there 28th jan - 2nd feb)
Had dinner at the Cargo Club onthe river (which was flooded!!!) which had floating candles going down, very pretty. Then headed across the road to the only club we could find: Tam Tam. The vodka was rough, the rooms were hot, the music was dodgy, there were a couple of Lady Boys (the definition of which is up for contention) but it was fun and it seemed to be the only decent bar! Cassie had the forsight to pack glow sticks with her and we were the only people cool enough to have glowing fluoro bracelets! There was no countdown to midnight, but everyone cheered at approximately midnight - close enough anyway! Laurelle and I left at a reasonable hour and left Cassie and Nat to party on til the wee hours of the morning......
We left Hoi An and our big bags for a few days and got to Hue yesterday. Today we had a tour of the main sights in Hue including the Citadel (we saw elephants! they were availablefor rides. but they had short ankle chains and it was a bit bad. But at least they had lots of green grass), 3 tombs of kings, dragon boat ride, pagoda... We're pretty exhausted, because today was incredibly hot and humid. but tomorrow we are heading off on a 12 hours tour at 6am up to the demilitarised zone, khe sahn, the tunnels that haven't been enlarged for westerners (unlike the ones in ho chi minh city) and a few other things (including the rock pile... or remnants there of). Its so hot and sweaty now. I can't believe its winter. Dont know how they cope the rest of the year!
So we head back to Hoi An on friday and will meet up with KC! How excitement. Think we'll probaly spend another 5 days there or so, cos there are a few day trips we'd like to make, plus we need to spend time at the beach PLUS we need more shopping time. After that proably Natrang... then Ho Chi Minh City. That is where i will leave my friends and head to Cambodia to meet up with my mum for a few days. The others catch up on about the 21st i think.
Anyway keep up the emails. I'm sorry there are no photos in the blog this time, but there is no way i'd get any up on this sort of internet access. You'll just have to wait and see when i get home!!!

Friday, 29 December 2006

Halong Bay at Cat Ba (crap ba!) Island

Well that was completely different from our last tour! Arrived at Halong Bay wharf thingy after only about 4hrs on a cramped mini bus. There were about 100 or more wooden boats all cramed in together and the wharf was too small to accommodate them all. In order to board our boat we had to climb over two others WITH our packs (me with my wheelie duffle bag!!). So close to killing ourselves. The french canadian almost got crushed between two boats!!! Anyway we're on the boat phew. So cruising around was quite nice. The weather wasn't brilliant and visibility was reduced but it was interesting to see the floating village. We were then told to go on a little putput boat and pay 30 000 dong (a "donation" to the school) and we would go through a cave and see the school. We sorta putted around, diesel fume asphyxiation and apparently we went past the school. I never saw it and it wasn't pointed out. They would've made a fortune and i doubt any of it found its way to the school.
Later we went kayaking - only there weren't enough life jackets to go round!!! Very well organised trip this.
What else..... Lunch was ok i guess! Our cabins were fine too. The bathroom doors didn't close but at least there were ensuites.
Stayed the night on the boat....
next morning got to Cat Ba island

We had chosen to do the 15km bike ride (and paid extra) rather than the 6km hike. So we were separated off (without any warning mind u so were still wearing our thongs!! not exactly appropriate biking wear) and the others went off on their hike. We got to the bike place and they only had HUGE men's mountain bikes. Laurelle and i were too short to ride them. The only way of stopping was to fall off! The guide thought we were idiots but it was dangerous! Nat must've gotten the smallest bike and Cassie's really tall so they said they'd go. Laurelle and I refused. So the guide told nat and cassie to go past the bus and turn left and just go.
They got HUGELY lost (no guide, no map) and ended up on the other side of the island. they had to pay 150 000 dong to get a bus to drive them back and were INCREDIBLY annoyed.

Laurelle and i wanted our money back too cos there was no way we could have gone on those bikes. Oh and we missed the hike cos apparently you were only allowed to go with a local guide.

i better go ppl are waiting for the net
email me!