+ Travel in a world of adventures
Read my full day to day blog of my first big overseas solo trip of 3 months long 2015/2016.
HELLO NEW ZEALAND !!!
12 hours sitting on a plane is almost over after trying to curl into a ball to get some sleep, with my feet hanging out into isle as my body could not squeeze into two seats. Every time someone bumps my foot as they walk past i jolt awake with the biggest fright .
Finally the plane arrives in Sydney. Its Australia so its straight through to security were they literally stopped every persons bag off my flight to un zip it and scramble through trying to find something to fine me with. To the longest wait in security because i forgot to take my laptop out .
Anyway the layover in Sydney is not to bad and before long i am lining up in the line to board my last flight of my solo journey around the world. Reality sets in that in just a few hours my feet will back on New Zealand soil i feel half in half about this half of me is longing to just keep going to see more do more and not look back but i am excited to see my family to have that moment where i walk through the doors and my sister be waiting there with open arms as if it has just made her day for me to be back home . I am now at the front of the line i hand over my ticket and passport to the air hostess, she places it on the machine to be scanned and the scanner goes wild flashing and beeping. She asks me to step aside and she starts typing something into the computer my heart start going im thinking oh no there is something wrong what now .. Im not going to able to board the flight and then she turns to me with a smile and hands me my new boarding pass saying you have just been upgraded into businesses class enjoy your flight . Honestly my face just light up this was the moment i had always dreamed of BUSINESSES CLASS !!! YUSSS i was just so excited i wanted to yell from the roof tops. I made my way down the walk way to the plane and they air hosted greet me by my name and show me to my seat i walk the the isle of the plane still with a massive grin and realize that I'm the only one in business class who is excited to be there . For everyone sitting in their comfy chairs this is normal .
Before long we are in the wheels are rolling and the plane is speeding down the runway and we are off, my last fight has begun. I waste no time to take every advantage there is of being in business class , i go to the bar area, put my chair back, get a blanket, drink water from the fancy bottles. I am so tired with hardly any sleep in the last 48hrs and so many time zones but hell no am i going to fall asleep now and miss being upgraded.
Just as the pilots casual kiwi voice announcement that we are moments away from toughing down in Auckland New Zealand my heat skips a beat as the nerves and realization that i am about to be on New Zealand soil in a few seconds i stretch my neck leaning my body over my middle isle seat to tray and catch the first glimpse of "Home" in almost 4 way to short months that in the same way feel like a life time.
My first solo trip is coming to an end i am returning a new person who has a completely different look on life, i wonder of the people i once had around me will see that i have changed and see my pure glow of my emotions that i feel with excitement of seeing a portion of the world i had always dreamed to see.
The wheels touch down with a not so comfortable landing and the woman across the isle says "Is this your first time in New Zealand,are you here for a holiday ?" I replied with a smile as i said the words for the first time in a while that my destination was HOME for that's what i thought i was returning to.
I was all to excited to be one if the first off the plane being that business goes first the only time in my life this will ever happen (well lets hope not )
I race through security as by now i know the drill , and take a deep breath as i have my last moment of being by my self and on my very own trip before having my camera ready and fly through the sliding doors of arrivals with pure excitement and joy in the hopes to run into my sisters arms who was supposedly going to be waiting for me but my arms drop and my grin was wiped when i just looked like a crazy person excited to see someone who wasn't even there.
So a scooted of to the side to wait for her arrival . A couple of minutes later i see my first gimps of her scattering through the doors and heading towards the arrivals gate , i think to my self aw will at least she is putting in pace to try and make it here on time .... Well nope when i run over to give her a massive hug , her first words are "QUICK we gotta hurry ive parked in the quick parking and if we are her for more than 5 minutes i have to pay!"
Well... What a way to make me feel welcome ae ? After we literally sprinted to the car squeezing ourselves between parked cars heaving my suitcase , backpack and Vietnamese hat with us , got to the car to speed off and out if the airport barriers before she could tragically get ticketed a bill for $5 of parking .
We are out on the open highway on the way to my sisters flat and all i wanted to do was tell her everything i did a d saw and experienced and a wave of exhaustion hit me and i almost felt asleep in the car before even getting to the flat.
We got all my stuff out of her tiny car and into her two bedroom flat before flopping myself onto her bed.
About an hour later she dragged me to her workout class with was nothing short of intense and nearly killed me as i had do e little to no excersie while i was away and there everyone looked all perky and clean while there was me who looked just smashing having come of a flight and had no sleep in the last 2 days . To have the instructor yell at me for looking half dead .
After that my energy was well and truly vanished from my body and it was straight to be without question and the closing to the most magical , eye opening , adventures , comfort pushing , amazing experience of my life and now to realty i say good night and farewell to you all who have come along and been on this whirlwind of a trip with me . I will be back one day to continue this adventure , weather it be tomorrow, next week or a few months from now .
xx Kirsty Claire xx
Day 100 (16th March 2016 ) Waking up to having to say good bye to my Contiki roommate is not fun but I’m so glad I got to meet Jenny. She was a lovely girl who reminded me of a friend at home so we just clicked straight away. Hopefully I will see her soon in England when I do my Europe tour soon.
Went down to have breakfast and ended up being there early enough to see some of the others that I had said goodbye to one last time. Alicia and I decided we would use our last day in Vietnam to explore the streets a bit more, get lost and get a massage and that’s exactly what happened.
Before we headed out I had searched recommended cheap spas in Hanoi, once finding one that was in walking distance we headed out to try and find it in the extremely busy streets of Hanoi. One person told us which way to go, when we got there we could not find a street by that name, so asked someone else and someone else and someone else. Turns out Vietnamese cannot read maps. Eventually we found a place that we thought looked ok. Turns out it was not operating today and is actually located a few kms away. So we just decided to go back to the original spa that was right by our hotel. It was a little pricy but still cheaper than home.
I got a Swedish massage that was so relaxing I nearly fell asleep and Alicia got her nails done. Once we were all relaxed again we strolled through the streets some more and put my bargaining skills to good use for things I thought I could never get. Sadly I now had to say goodbye to Alicia as she is now flying back to South Africa. I’m positive I will see her when I got home to visit family. So I’m glad I have something to look forward to.
I now have a new roomie for the night, Caroline an Irish girl from the group was going to book a hotel room down the road but I had a spare bed in mine now that Jenny has gone so it was perfect timing.
The few of us who were left, most leaving tomorrow, all meet in the lobby to go get some street food for dinner. We all got pho (noodle soup) which ended up being really nice despite the cleanliness of the place. It was filled with locals so that’s when you know the food will be good. Afterwards we went to street pub to have a drink and chat for a couple of hours before strolling back slowly trying to make our last night stretch out as much as possible. I am now packing up my bag for the very last time, tears streaming quietly down my face with sadness that my journey is over but also happy tears with remembering all the incredible things I have been able to do, see and experience.
xx Kirsty Claire xx
Day 99 (15th March 2016) Last day on the boat sadly but we managed to fit a fair amount of stuff in the last 2 days. Breakfast on the boat was really good once again, plenty of food. I am sure you can tell by now that I’m a big breakfast fan so if they say it is a good breakfast I'm happy.
First things first - the group hops on a small boat and head for some caves hidden inside the islands of Halong Bay. There were quite a few stairs to climb before the opening to the cave. The inside was massive with drips of sand handing from the ceiling and the celling look like it was as our guide called it a "sandy beach", as long ago when the water was high water it washed through the cave and left ripples engraved into the soft sand. It was so cool to see how powerful nature can be and just how creative it can it. Came back from the caves to gather our things and check out of the room.
Brunch was waiting for us on the top deck laid out with precision. We cruised along the water while we eat on the way back to the harbour. After a few hours of gazing out the windows trying soak in the last of the view we arrived back in the harbour and caught a dingy back to the main land.
The same journey was in place on the way back to Hanoi, 1 hour bus then stop for lunch / rest stop for a bit before continuing on for 2 hour more. Arriving back in Hanoi, checked into the same hotel which we left our suitcases at and settling into our room for the night.
It is our last night as a whole group (Contiki family) before some leave tomorrow morning. Some of the girls and I head out to browse the street shops before returning to the hotel to meet up with everyone for dinner at this really fancy place that I’m not quite sure if my budget will stretch to. The meal was good and some did some emotional speeches about the trip and coming together. We all went out for one last drink at hangover bar, which was very loud and smoky not really my style but I went along to be with everyone for our last few hours together. When the party was over and it was time to go, I said my goodbyes and turned away. Trying not to think of the fact I may never see some of these people ever again but so lucky that I also now have a home to stay in many more places around the world.
xx Kirsty Claire xx
Day 98 (14th March 2016 ) Today is an exciting day , me and my Contiki family are off to Halong Bay which is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. The day started with having breakfast and leaving the hotel at around 8:30 so had a slight sleep in today. We headed off almost leaving two of the girls from the group behind and Tom #contikidreads had to run back and the bus did a lap of the block to stay in the area. The bus ride is about 2hr 30 minutes long before our half way stop in I’m not sure where, but the place was amazing it was an organisation especially created to give work to those who have a disability so that they feel part of the community. The work that they do is incredible you can see them working on their stitching and then then they are up for sale in the shop behind where the finished product looks like a photo.
We continue on for another hour before arriving at the dock in Halong Bay. The view is already amazing with all white wooden private cruise boats lined up waiting to be filled. The group is split into 2 to get to our river boat by a smaller boat. Arriving on the boat I am so happy. The inside is so well set out, very posh and it feels as though I have stepped into another era. Me and my roommate Jenny are downstairs in a cute little cabin room that has a bathroom ensuite and a river view.
Once we get going the scenery around me is just breathtakingly beautiful, it’s like I’m inside a postcard or in a dream that I don’t want to wake up from. I go out onto the front of the boat and put my feet over the edge while we cruise along the water in between these massive island cliffs towering above everything. We are able to have a small amount of down time to just explore the boat, get settled in and take in the nature that we are among.
In the afternoon kayaks are pulled up next to the boat and we all go with our roomies to explore the area once anchored. We paddle the kayaks through some caves and on the other side is a massive opening and a secret water pool that has monkeys climbing up and down the trees at the cliff faces. Swinging between branches and having a little monkey flight which kept us entertained. We paddled some more just cruising around the water pool which was only assessable by going through the caves. The kayak was amazing no one had phones, cameras or any digital equipment it was just us and nature. It gave us the chance to full appreciate nature and how awesome it is.
Back to the boat to have a shower and get warm as sadly the weather has been a bit grey. Dinner was next on the schedule for today. It was a big meal and so much food that once you finished one thing they kept on bringing out more and more food making you nearly pop. Pirate Party was held on the boat after dinner with every one fully dressing up with hats and everything it was a really good bonding time playing drinking games, playing cards and just chatting. It now 1am so I think I ready for bed. xx Kirsty Claire xx