Friday, 15 May 2015

Cambodia | G Adventures Tour

After our time in Australia we took a flight to Bangkok to join our G Adventures tour group for a Cambodia on a Shoestring tour. We had decided to book a tour as this would be our first week in Asia and we wanted to be guided for the first part of the trip, but we only booked a 10 day tour as we wanted to do the rest of Asia by ourselves (I will review our tour experience properly in a future post!). During the 10 days we travelling we moved across Cambodia from Bangkok all the way into Vietnam. 

Our Stops

Bangkok and Siem Reap, Feb 9th to 11th
After landing in Bangkok we got picked up and taken to our hotel. It was really strange staying in a hotel for the first time after having stayed in hostel for the past month! That evening we met the group and went out for dinner. The following day we headed to Siem Reap. That evening we went on a tuk tuk journey to a local village where we were given dinner and were able to meet the locals. That evening we went to Pub Street and ended up watching a lady boy show whilst having a massage! The next day we went to Angkor Wat for sunrise and spent the day being taken round the various temples nearby. That evening we went to the Corner Bar on Pub Street and did lots of karaoke! The next morning before heading to Phnom Pehn we visited New Hope, a school for local children, supported by G Adventures. It was really amazing to see the great work they do.

Phnom Pehn, Feb 12th to 13th
We spent two nights in Phnom Pehn. We visited the killing fields and S21 which was very emotional but also informative. S21 is a school that was turned into prison during the communist Khmer Rouge regime. The killing fields is where the victims of the regime were buried. We had an amazing dinner at a tapas restaurant called Friends which is owned by the Tree Alliance and helps offer work to local disadvantaged children. 

Sihanoukville, Feb 14th to 15th
We travelled to Sihanoukville the following day and spent the afternoon laying out on the beach. Unfortunately the beach wasn't quite so relaxing as there were people trying to sell things every couple of minutes. We found a nice BBQ restaurant though and ended up going there three times! The following day we headed out on a boat trip to a local island which was amazing and very very relaxing!

Can Tho, Feb 16th
We arrived in Vietnam the first day and stayed in a village at a homestay on the Mekong Delta. It was a great evening, they cooked us dinner and we sat around with the group and played cards for a while! We had quite a early night as the host family went to be quite early. It was amazing seeing the village and being told all about their way of life. The next morning we went on a trip on the Mekong Delta on a boat to see a floating village. I had the most amazing iced coffee with condensed milk which tasted so good!

Arriving in Ho Chi Minh, Feb 17th to 18th
Later that day we drove to Ho Chi Minh. After settling into our hotel we went to Pho 2000 for lunch and then the Ben Than Market to go shopping. That evening we met the new group that our tour guide would be taking around Vietnam and went out for dinner all together. The following day we went to the Cu Chi Tunnels. It was interesting, but we found our tour guide wasn't brilliant and that having a large group was quite difficult. That afternoon we packed off and left the hotel as we were heading off to an apartment for the next part of our trip!

Cambodia Spending

Cost of Cambodia on a Shoestring Tour: £549 inc. accommodation and transport

Food, activities and general spending: £161.68
Days spent on tour: 10 days
Average spending per day: £16.17 (excl. cost of tour)

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Favourite Travel Items

1. My Journal
I had been bought this Paperchase journal as a present and it was great while I was travelling, I used it to keep note of things that we did and things that I didn't to forget. It was small enough and light enough to not take up too much luggage space. 

2. Battery Operated toothbrush
This was something I hadn't thought about before, but at home I always use an electric toothbrush and properly look after my teeth, but I realised when I was travelling this wasn't going to be easy. However in Sainsbury's I found the Slim Sonic toothbrush which cost only £10 and is basically a portable electric toothbrush with it's own cover. 

3. Sandwich bags
It had been suggested to me that these were a great item to take and I found them so useful. I used them for leaking shampoo, keeping cables together, storing wet bikinis etc. 

4. Sleeping bag liner 
This item did take up some space but it is definitely something I would take again. It was amazing when a hostel bed felt a little gross and I used it on overnight trains and buses. It is much lighter than a sleeping bag, but that is really all that was needed as it was hot everywhere we went. 

5. Bag locks
I took a few different locks with me, and found the ones with the wire locking system really useful! It meant that even if there were no lockers or anywhere to store our valuables we could lock it to the bed and not have to worry. It also meant on public transport we could lock it overnight and go to sleep without worrying. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Australia | 5 weeks plan and budget

In January 2015 I headed off to Australia for 5 weeks with my cousin Rebecca. We had done lots of research beforehand to make sure we could fit in everything we wanted to do, and I feel like we definitely made the most of our 5 weeks! We left the UK on 7th January and left Australia for South East Asia on 9th Feb.

Our Stops

Melbourne, Jan 9th to 15th
This was the first stop on our trip and we were excited to arrive and start our three months of travel. We stayed at the YHA Central which was a great location. The first day we headed across to Peter Pans Travel Agency to book a few trips for our time in Australia and then attempted to get over our jetlag and not much else. Whilst in Melbourne we explored the city, went on a Great Ocean Road Trip and visited Philip Island (both of these we booked through Wildlife Tours). We visited the Eureka Sky Deck, wandered round St Kilda and looked round Queen Victoria Market. It was a lovely few days and a great start to our trip.

Cairns, Jan 14th to 19th
Due to the tours we had booked for the rest of our East Coast trip we ended up flying to Cairns and staying in Cairns for 6 nights. For us, I definitely think this was too long, especially when the weather wasn't amazing. We stayed at Dreamtime Hostel which was really nice and chilled. We had some great trips, the Uncle Brian's tour was amazing and we had our first snorkelling trip on the barrier reef on the Ocean Freedom which I would really recommend (although I ended up with a very sunburnt back!)

Magnetic Island, Jan 20th to 21st
As suggested by the agent at Peter Pans, we headed to Magentic Island to stay at the Base hostel for a couple of nights. We took the Greyhound from Cairns as we had booked a hop on, hop off pass from Cairns to Sydney. The hostel was fun, despite the very basic rooms and they had activities every night. The next day we went to Bungalow Bay Koala Village where we met all sorts of animals and held koalas (something that had been on my bucket list).

Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays, Jan 22nd to 26th
Our next stop was Airlie Beach ready for our Whitsundays boat trip. We stayed at Backpackers by the Bay which wasn't too long a walk from the main town. We spent the days prior the Whitsundays trip looking round the town and laying in hammocks. We hadn't known much about the Atlantic Clipper before we booked it, but it had been highly recommended and we had a great time. It was a great trip and we met some lovely people, but I think next time I would look for a trip that meant we got to spend less time on the boat and more time actually on the whitsundays! (We only got to spend a few hours!).

Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island, Jan 27th to 30th
This was definitely one of my favourite places of the whole trip. We stayed at Dingo's Hostel and went on the Dingo's 4WD tag along tour. We were with an amazing group of people in our car and visited some amazing places on Fraser. We cooked our dinner all together and had some great nights, we stayed at the K'Gari camp in tents and headed out to the beach on the second which was really good. I would highly recommend our particular tour!

Brisbane, Jan 31st to Feb 1st
We had only got a few days  in Brisbane (basically the theme for our last few stops) but we tried our best to make the most of it. We stayed at the YHA Brisbane. I met up with family friends on the first day, then on the second day we went to Australia Zoo which was actually a great zoo. We had been quite careful with what animal places to visit and because of the Steve Irwin history we felt like this would be a good choice. For a weekend it was very quiet and we were able to see everything easily in a day. On our final day we looked round the city and ended up having afternoon tea in a tea room which was very nice!

Surfers Paradise, Feb 2nd
We only had a day in surfers. We stayed at Surfers Paradise Backpackers Resort. We didn't get to go to any of the theme parks, but we visited the beach and wandered around the shops. We went out for dinner that night after having not eaten out for ages!

Byron Bay, Feb 3rd to 5th
We had a surf lesson booked and were really looking forward to relaxing in Byron. It was really different to other places we had visited in Australia and somewhere that I loved! We stayed at Cape Byron YHA where we made friends with some lovely people who came and watched the most amazing sunrise I have ever seen at Cape Byron with us (after a 45 minute walk in the dark!). The surf lesson was great and after a few attempts I managed to stand on my board!

Sydney, Feb 6th to 9th
Our last stop, and my absolute favourite place in Australia! We didn't have long there but managed to fit in lots in our few days. We stayed at Big Hostel which we found a great location and a good price for Sydney. On the first day we explored and met up with some of the friends I had made whilst living in Florida which was great! We walked across Harbour bridge and wandered round Luna Park and got dinner at a really cute restaurant. The following day we headed to the Blue Mountains. We decided to plan our own day and take the train instead of taking a tour which gave us much more freedom. The Blue Mountains were so beautiful! We went to Manly the following day to visit Rebecca's friend which was really nice. Sydney was amazing, it is definitely somewhere I would love to return to!

Australia Spending

Greyhound Hop on, Hop Off Cairns to Sydney: £213
Melbourne to Cairns Flight: £108.44
Accommodation: £371.39
Day Trips and Tours: £971.69 (Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island, Great Barrier Reef, Uncle Brian's, Magnetic Island, Fraser Island, Whitsundays, Australia Zoo, Surf Lesson, Koala Village, Blue Mountains Trip inc. Scenic World)
Food, Shopping and general Spending: £392.96

Total: £2057.48 
Days spent in Australia: 33 days
Average per day: £62.35