Sihanoukville – day 369

Since we had an early bus, we had to get up early to pack away the clothes that we had hung up around our room last night. Most things had dried, I think – or maybe they still have some moisture in them… I’m sure we will smell delightful in a few days!! We had waited to do Jayne’s injection until we could find a safe place to dispose of the needle – fortunately, the pharmacy attached to the guesthouse had a sharps box so I was good to stab her with sharp needles!!! Managed to get everything sorted and we were ready with enough time to eat our slightly stale generic brand cornflakes with Milo chocolate milk. 
The mini bus drive to Sihanoukville was easy except for the three irritating Australians sat behind us. Even our headphones and loud music could barely drown out their ridiculous conversation and frustrating travel bragging. It was made even worse by the metre by metre run down of how close they were getting to their hostel only to then be subjected to repeats of ‘where are we going?’, ‘It’s too far away!’ and ‘Oh no, we’ll have to get a TukTuk’ for the last ten minutes of the journey as we drove further away from it. When we arrived, they even refused to get out of the minibus as we weren’t at the bus station. Had to point out that we weren’t on a BUS and that’s why we weren’t at the BUS station. We chucked our bags on our backs and walked quickly away from them and up the hill to our guesthouse. Must have been there for all of two minutes when it began raining – and it wasn’t light rain. It was full-on typhoon type rain, so relentless that with the pounding of raindrops on the roof we could barely hear each other speak! From previous experience, the rain in SE Asia usually stops after a while. However, this was clearly no usual SE Asian rain storm – it went on all afternoon! Just when we thought it was slowing down a bit, it would pick up again with incredible gusto! Even the guesthouse staff seemed surprised at how long it was lasting. Fortunately, the guesthouse has a bar, restaurant, pool table and decent wifi so we were able to entertain ourselves for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. The guesthouse manager was apologetic about the rain but, actually, it suited us fine. There isn’t much to do in Sihanoukville apart from go to the beach or get wasted. We had come so we could see the beach in Cambodia and to visit Narae’s friends vegan cafe (which was closed on Mondays) but we weren’t too disappointed that we couldn’t even get there. We are both tired and could definitely do with taking it slower than we have done in the past.A little bit of google searching and we found a cinema just opposite our guesthouse. I say a cinema but it was a place where you rented a private room full of sofas and a huge screen to watch any film from their collection. It was actually kind of amazing and makes me really tempted to turn our spare room into a cinema when we get home…We choose to watch ‘Mike and Dave need wedding dates’ and ordered a four cheese pizza too, although we declined the offer to make it a ‘happy’ pizza. 

The film was funnier than either of us expected and it was a great way to waste away a wet afternoon. 
When we left the cinema, the rain had slowed to a light drizzle so we headed to the beach to have a look. The people stood outside each restaurant and bar trying to entice people in as they walked past with special food or drink offers seemed more in keeping with Magaluf than with Cambodia but I guess it is known for being a bit of a party place in the high season. 

Back to the guesthouse for a couple of games of pool – Jayne beat me both times. In fact, on the first game, she had managed to pot all her balls and the black before I even got a chance to pot one of mine! An episode of ‘Quantico’ before snuggling down in our bed with comfy mattresses – it must be a southern Cambodia thing. 
Monday 10th October 2016

Kangaroo Island – day 324/14

I’m going to skip what we did when we got up because let’s face it, our bowel movements and what we ate for breakfast must be pretty damn boring by now. The most exciting thing that happened was that Katherine thought she saw Amanda’s (the Canadian) nipple at breakfast as she paraded around in a top that was two sizes too small. I missed the entire thing so I can’t vouch for the sighting. We left around 9am to head out on the days adventure. We picked up our hire car and headed out in the road. We had our trusty map, (thanks Lindy) and a tank full of fuel with the excitement of possible sea lion sightings keeping us focused. Our first stop was the Pennington bay lookout. Pennington Bay is on the south coast of KI (Kangaroo Island) that’s accessible by an unsealed road. It offers some of the best surfing on the island. The surf is not ideal for swimming but it’s great for taking photos and laying on the beach. Surfing is still the main activity as the surf can be large and rough. Next we headed off down the back roads to Clifford’s Honey Farm. Random Fact: Kangaroo Island is the last place in the world where pure Ligurian Honeybees remain. They are Italiano!!

Herein lies the end of the lore of the Hobbit. She never finished her blog and it is up to one of the big folk to finish her tale of adventure.

After watching the short informative video about the bees, looking at a see-through hive of the species and looking at artefacts of the trade, such as transport boxes for queen bees to go to other countries, we went back in to the gift shop. Tracey and I bought some of the exquisite honey ice cream and with the minimum payment on the credit card needing a few more dollars, I tried the mead. Memories of a long forgotten story of a tavern on the drive to Wicklow came back to me and the golden liquid was delicious. Far too easy to drink, it was a good thing it came in a small plastic cup. Around the corner was the Eucalyptus distillery. A compact little site with a gift shop bigger than the workshop we watched a video about the establishment as we came in to reception. Katherine was very posh and sat in the carriage for the presentation. Intrigued by the site and process of eucalyptus distillation we decided to do the self-guided tour. Katherine was our guide extraordinaire and pointed out various points of interest in the yard and explained the process stages as we passed. The jars and bottles of raw and refined eucalyptus oil were incredibly pleasant for the olfactory senses and with the multitude of uses for the oil now known to us, you can expect either a lot of trips to a Swedish sauna or a house smelling of the stuff in the near future. Driving to the Flinders Chase National Park we drove past beautiful scenery and a mixture of habitats. We paid our entry fee for the park and carried on to the Remarkable Rocks. Accurate in its nomenclature, these rocks are a prominent feature at the edge of a headland and are quite remarkable. The elements and passage of time have eroded the granite blocks to misshapen architecture with nothing between them and the Antarctic. With evidence of possums and wallabies in the area we headed off to the Admirals Arch. But, one was a bit distracted firstly by the force of the waves crashing off the two small islands and then by the hundreds of fur seals adorning the rocks. It was a while (and a lot of photos) before we descended the rest of the way to see the arch itself. A beautifully framed piece of nature – an overhang of rocks, stalactites and vegetation with intertidal rocks peppered with sealions (New Zealand fur seals) and the gentle wash of waves into the protected little alcove. But, of course with bright sunshine pouring through the opening, no camera was every going to capture the full extent and beauty of the place in a still image. On a solid bluff of rock at the top of the hill at Cape Couedic was the lighthouse. Not a picnic bench in sight, so we plonked ourselves down on the steps, cut up some avocados from the Adelaide market with our sporks and enjoyed a delicious meal. It was interrupted by the bus load of tourists stopping to take a photo of the lighthouse – bloody tourists! Guess who was amongst the throng on the tour… Amanda. Wearing a suitable bigger top, Tracey was unable to verify earlier sightings. It was probably for the best, it was a bit cold. A jaunt over to Weir Cove to see the site of the storehouse. This humble, sturdy limestone building (recently restored) would have been used to house supplies shipped in every three to four months for the occupants and lighthouse workers. Built on a treacherous, rugged coastline, I’m afraid the coastline was a bit more impressive than the history. The cliff face has still got it’s dramatic fissure hewn from the rock where the winch brought stuff up from the boats. No vegetation has yet reclaimed the passage to the sea below, but it has almost completely hidden the chains that are visible in the sand behind the car park. We chanced our pick at the caravan park down the road. MapsMe and insider info shows a walking trail around the perimeter for koalas. But, the owner was having none of it, the property just for camp site guests. Ah well, on we go. He’s losing out on a trick and could make a fortune just doing a gold coin donation. So, pulling over to see a wallaby – what the hell are you doing up in the middle of the day – we slowed down quite a bit and none of us had a camera ready for the big kangaroo that skipped across the road. Thankfully we reached Vivonne Bay without incident and looked out for the mother and calf Southern Right Whale that has taken refuge her for a bit lately. We didn’t spot any cetaceans so proceeded to try jumping photos on the sand. Tracey was either deliberately trying to tire us out with jumping or was having a special moment with the camera. Either way the slog up the sand was tough and we were silent for the journey home. 

We ended up chasing the setting sun on our way home. Knowing that the marsupials were limbering up for the night and our insurance not covering us, we couldn’t stop to take any photos. But, it is still vividly clear in our minds of how the sun cast a golden colour on the trunks of the trees and the fields between them was a blur. Dinner sorted with ease, I finished the work for the beauty clinic at the computer (finally, weeks later) and the Ninjas caught up on some drinking – Tracey with the goon and Katherine with a honey ale and goon (I tore through my vodka pop once finished the computer stuff). All to bed with snoring the minute heads hit the pillows.

Friday 26th August 2016

Travelling & Magnetic Island – Day 305

A very disturbed nights sleep with noisy roommates, or maybe it was just one noisy roommate on several different occasions!! We were woken up around 2am by some one who had forgotten his room key and Jayne was sure she heard someone trying to ‘cook crack’ in the bathroom with the sound of spoons clicking together around 3.30am (I am so naive… I have no idea what that really means!!). Anyway, we woke up with our alarms and got up showered and dressed before heading downstairs for breakfast. We had found cashew nut spread in Woolworths yesterday and we had it with some hot crumpets and pears – it is divine!! There are no words to describe how amazing it is but I could simply devour the entire pot using just my fingers!Went back upstairs to pack up our bags with all our freshly laundered (and dry!) clothes before walking down through the marina to the coach terminal. A really dull five hour coach journey with our highlight being the stop at the service station where we saw a woman being confronted for shoplifting (she refused to let them search her), a gorgeously cute golden Labrador puppy who, judging by the size of his paws, is going to become one huge beast soon and our ice creams.Arriving in Townsville, we had just under an hour to wait for our ferry to Magnetic Island. We used the super fast internet in the ferry terminal to upload some of the photos to blogs that we have neglected to do over the past few days, hoping to make it easier to upload everything once we get them written… Oops – we have been too busy having fun (and too lazy to sit down and write them!!). The SeaLink ferry to Magnetic Island was easy and efficient with the turn around for loading and unloading passengers being surprisingly quick. Before long, we were powering through the surrounding bright turquoise seas towards the coastal rocky and mountainous national park. Arriving at the ferry terminal in Nelly Bay, we jumped straight on a local bus (whose timetable revolves around the ferries) to take us to our YHA accommodation – the Bungalow Bay Koala Village. It only took about 15 minutes to drive in and out and all around the streets of the island to get us to Horseshoe Bay, dropping us right outside the door of the ‘resort’. We checked in, dropped our bags in the cabin and headed to the beach. Popped into the local convenience store to get some fruit bread for tomorrow’s breakfast and spotted some marine stingers and poisonous snakes in jars on the shop counter. Apparently they’re just for show, Jayne freaked out even more when we saw a sign on the beach identifying the six different types of stinging jellyfish in the area and the netted swimming area in the bay…Walked along the beach to the end, perching ourselves on a set of rocks to watch the sunset. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see it clearly but we did get to see the sky and clouds changing colour as the sun dipped lower behind them.Back at the ‘resort’, we quickly checked emails before heading towards the campers kitchen. En route, we got distracted by a possum in a tree – our first wild possum in Australia! Had to drag ourselves away from the little bundle of cuteness so Jayne could start cooking dinner. However, this YHA doesn’t provide any cutlery or crockery… Slightly surreal moment looking around the kitchen (and then double checking) to find that here was nothing there to use to eat our food. Fortunately, we have our ‘SeatoSummit’ collapsible bowls and sporks so I headed off to the room to retrieve these as Jayne got busy cooking pasta. It only has an outdoor eating area so we had dinner with a multitude of wildlife – wallabies, possums and insects. One extra large cricket decided Jayne’s back was the perfect place to rest…Headed back to the room and, since we are both in top bunks tonight, we couldn’t snuggle up to watch some TV or a film. So, with the large gentleman fully clothed in his high vis safety gear snoring loudly in his bunk to the giggles of the girls opposite him, I climbed into my bunk to read some of my book as Jayne got into hers to watch a film that I didn’t want to watch. 

Sunday 7th August 2016

Byron Bay & travelling – day 296

Woke up early in our dorm, delighted to find it was still just the two of us (or someone had come and left in the middle of the night without us knowing!!). Got dressed and checked out, putting our bags into a storage locker and having breakfast before heading out for the day. Byron Bay has a reputation of being a famous beach town and it was lovely, but not entirely sure what the fuss is about. I could have happily lived there as a local but, for us, a day as a tourist was plenty! The beaches are great but we’ve already seen spectacular beaches along this coast (and are due to see even better ones shortly!!). The vibe in the town is very surf culture meets hippie, resulting in lots of barefooted people padding around the streets and supermarkets. That being said, it was lovely – possibly because it wasn’t as crowded as it could be – and we had a great time wandering through the back streets on our way to the Cape Byron State Conservation Park. We started on the Cape Byron walking track and, before too long, we were treated to views of dolphins swimming adjacent to the morning kayak group (lucky bastards!). You can see how close they got…IMG_1956IMG_1967We continued along the path, encountering brush turkeys along the way and stopping off at various view points to admire the spectacular views and watch the migrating whales pass by… That’s right – we have now seen humpback whales for five days in a row. Jayne is beside herself and I think, now more than ever, I have a real chance of convincing her to move here!! The walking path hugs the headland as it dips and soars towards the lighthouse. We managed to spot some more whales passing at the most easterly point of Australia.IMG_1983IMG_2545We stayed for ages at the lighthouse, admiring the view and being wowed by the passing marine life. So much so that any plans of renting a surf board before our coach this afternoon went out the window as the time flew by as we sat and enjoyed. IMG_2547IMG_2550IMG_2000IMG_2012IMG_2016Walking back down towards the town, the path went through beautiful forests and it felt like we were the only people there for miles. Descended upon the beach and decided that, even though we couldn’t go surfing, didn’t mean we couldn’t have fun in the water so we jumped in!! Swimming in the ocean in the middle of winter in Australia is a lot more agreeable than doing the same thing back in the UK or Ireland!! Back at the hostel for a shower and a late lunch before catching our coach to Brisbane. Three hours later, we were walking through the streets to the YHA. I sorted out laundry whilst Jayne went to Dominos to get us something for dinner. Sat on the roof top terrace, enjoying the eye-popping views of the city before going to bed.

Friday 29th July 2016

Travelling & Kerry – day 268 (J)

It has been a day of radio and photos. 

Completely shattered from so little sleep, it was hilarious to see Katherine & Tracey getting drunk on Pina Coladas and waiting for Domino’s pizza dinner just as I was about to leave for the journey west. No tinterweb for a few days, perhaps she was drinking herself into a coma until Sunday when I returned from the land that time forgot. 

After getting diesel for the car, we switched over to RTE Radio 1, where an interview started with a girl who had been off travelling and is currently working on some 5* train/hotel holiday packages until jetting off to Nepal at the end of the season and continuing her adventures. Mam was saying how I should ring in to the station and tell them of our journey to date and I was doing quite well ignoring her. Next caller put us to shame: herself and the hubby had been travelling for 10years and only settled down in Ireland for a family and were about to set off again with them now they were old enough. I don’t know if this lady had a blog or not, but the first girl did, something called ‘Flight of the Flibberty Gibberty’ and her name is Ciara Flynn. Need to look her up for the craic!

The next few segments on the radio were different aspects of Brexit and politicians arguing back and forth over topics. Boris Johnson’s dad Stanley was interviewed from Greece and was interesting to listen to, if taken with a pinch of salt. There was a joke made either before or after this segment how Boris had led 17million people up a hill and then left them with a compass and told them to find their own way home. We stopped in An Cruiscín Lán (the full jug – Gaeilge/Irish) for breakfast and a break to the journey. The river behind the cafe was flowing pretty fast, if not as deeply as it sometimes does and the heavens opened as we went in for grub. Ladies and gentlemen… I give you… ‘The Breakfast Roll’! Ranging in size from a small bread roll to a demi baguette (full baguette if you’re sharing and cooking at home), it is filled with a range of fried goods and can include: sausage, rasher, black and/or white pudding, egg (fried, omelette or scrambled), hash brown, beans, mushrooms and sauces if one chooses – ketchup and/or HP brown sauce. Generally it is a mess to eat, with the tin foil wrapper or cling film holding the contents in place and one of the many oils, fats or sauces dribbling down hands or face. What’s more is, you normally have this heart attack food item in the car as they serve the best ones from a garage when on a road trip. On this occasion a more demure and manageable size was served and I loved it. Washed down with a nice coffee. Why has this not caught on to more corners of the globe? They have Irish pubs everywhere, why not Breakfast Rolls??? Back to the journey at hand, we were leaving the Gaeltacht area into The Kingdom (County Kerry) and the topic had changed ever so slightly to issues between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and how the Brexit could in effect trigger old agreements between the parties about dissolving borders and such. It was all a little too confusing and worrying for myself, with some of the largest implications explained by my Dad, much more knowledgeable about pretty much everything. Frightening times lie ahead and it’s scary in one sense about to go back travelling with things looking so uncertain in the UK. We’ll have to wait and see. Plus, Grizzly was getting bored of all this interview talk and wanted us to change station.  So arriving in Kerry myself and my Dad went for a spin with the dog. Heading towards Ballyferriter and Sybil Point the posters and memorabilia were increasing and quite amusing. See, we were getting closer to where Star Wars VIII had some scenes filmed and the whole area was cashing in on the fact. The most surprising was seeing a billboard in the church yard.  The set they had built was all removed and the clean-up crew were hard at work restoring the landscape to its original state. This involved removing paint from rocks on the cliff face. Apparently!? The gallery we visited afterwards had signs saying ‘In A Gallery, Not Far Away’ using the recognisable font and scrolling text across the stars to catch tourists attention. It worked and we visited the small establishment and admired the artists paintings and decorative work. It was only round the corner from a beach and Grizzly finally got what he came for… a run on the trá (beach).  Back to the main village of the area we stopped to get an ice cream. There was a compulsory photo taken next to the shop as there was a sign showing the Death Star imagery in the shape of a coffee cup and the slogan ‘Dúisigh an Fórsa’, which I think is a literal translation of ‘Awaken the Force!’ This could be a play on the idea of coffee waking you up as well as referencing SW-VII. All very clever and enjoyable.  Back to collect Mam from her snooze, she was hard at work finishing off more of the Leaving Cert Honours Maths paper. She had most of it done in the car coming down and I think it was what tired her out in the first place causing her to need a break. Hmmmm!!! Back in to Dingle we picked up some burgers and fish and chips and enjoyed them in the car – they apparently go cold really quickly, but I think it’s an excuse to just eat them straight away as they tasted amazing.  Chilling out for the evening, what do you think I did? I introduced my parents to Candy Crush Soda Saga. It was slow going at the start trying to show the different moves and the two of them explaining to each other why they would make a move and which one to go with next. Mam got seriously in to it and got as far as level 16 before calling it a night. I’m not sure if I should download it on her phone for her or pretend it can’t be done. It could be disastrous. Friday 1st July 2016