A Travellerspoint blog

Papau New Guinea

sunny 27 °C

We had a great last night in New Zealand, on Hot Water Beach. There's hot rocks under the sand which you can feel with your feet walking along certain parts - you're suddenly unable to stand there it's so hot. Then you dig a hole in the sand, which fills with the hot water and get in to wallow. It was just like family holidays in Cornwall, as the sea kept coming in, so we had to build a big dam to keep our hot pool warm. When the pool cools down a bit, just dig a bit more and instantly hot again. We even went into the freezing cold sea a few times, so we could then warm up in our hole afterwards.
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We said goodbye to Trout, who'd served us well and arrived at Auckland airport with 14 hours until our flight. Checkin was 3am, so it wasn't worth getting a hotel room. Luckily they had a screen showing the olympics and free internet to keep us entertained. We even managed to get some sleep, until people started riding huge hoovers around the airport, then when that dyed down, a woman with a hoover strapped to her back and looking very much like an extra from ghostbusters came round and decided to concentrate on the area under our seats. The flight was 4 hours to Brisbain (which is the dullest airport we've been to) then 3 hours to PNG from here.

We'd phoned and booked a hotel in Port Moresby and our hotel came to collect us from the airport, which was very handy after not much sleep and a 26 hour journey with all the waiting at airports. Our hotel is all behind gates, as the areas round it are apparently a tad rough. My sister will understand what I mean when I say that it has an Indian feel here. People are curious by us and so stare a lot. Dan's been told he looks like he's from PNG, so I get most of the attention. The people are really friendly, somtimes overly so. We were shown into our room by no less 4 people. Some came just to have a good look at us.

We are only planning to stay in PM for a few days so we went to try and book a flight to the other side of the island. One of the ladies at the hotel told us that it was cheaper to try and catch a lift onboard a cargo chopper from the airport. I never expected that you could hitchhike with planes. As it turned out we had to take a normal flight. We tried all of the cargo companies and they all said it was possible, but not untill next week. No one thought it strange that we asking in the first place.

We can't wait to see the rest of this island. The diving and snorkling prommise to be incredable but we'll have to wait and see. Sue gets all the attention from the locals. I was told that I look like I'm from PNG so I can travel incognito when sue gets all the interest.

There is hardly any internet cafes in the whole of PNG so we won't be able to update untill the Phillipeans. It's only been two days in PNG and already strange aventures are calling. Bring on the rest of the island!png.jpg

Posted by DanSue 23:18 Archived in Papua New Guinea Comments (1)

New Zealand

First few miles on the trout.

storm 8 °C

New Zealand welcomed us not only with the same language we speak, after 4 months of half understanding Spanish and Portuguese, but also, as it turns out, the weather. It's winter in this southerly country so we were well used to the dull grey drizzle that greeted us as we left the airport in Auckland. In fact, to anyone from the U.K New Zealand will feel and look oddly familiar and also strangely different. I can see why so many Brits move to the far end of the earth to live here. It's a strange mix of Hampshire's green rolling hills and Scotland's highlands in places with a few palm trees, massive ferns, weird animals, jungle and wild seas thrown in for good measure.
We picked up our small camper which was painted with trout on the side(?)trout.jpg and made our way to the North of the North Island. Although the winter months are in full swing the weather in the North Island was mild and sunny. We made the most of it by visiting beaches and just milling about. New Zealand was turning out to be one of the easiest places to travel around by car. The road rules almost the same. The road s are free from traffic and the people very friendly. It appears to have it all. The only problem we are having with this beautiful country is it's bloody expensive...for us anyway. Fuel and food is draining our bank accounts and our daily budgets have been thrown out the window. Apart from that and the two storms that battered the North Island to it's knees, New Zealand is near perfect for those who want the no-hassle easy travelling.
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We've travelled right up to the northerly-most tip and explored both the North and South islands.lighthouse.jpg We've had close up encounters with fearless seals, who smell very strongly of foxes wee;seal.jpg been pulled out of mud on a logging track by a giant logging truck (we ended up on this track, totally unsuitable for our trout van by accident - we took a wrong turn and didn't notice); watched the All Blacks beating Australia in rugby in the local pub; been lost in a giant 3D maze in puzzle world; seen glow worms in a flooded cave, where incidently the cast of Corrie have visited; admired and walked in miles and miles of amazing scenery; had a snowball fight in the snow; Dan is now the proud owner of a branded circle to mark his travels (photos to follow)brand.jpg; eaten limpets cooked on a hot stone (Dan saw Ray Mears do it), even cracked the stone it got so hot; route planned to take in all the swimming pool where we can go in and have a shower, as don't have to stop on campsites in NZ; have experienced tropical heat after 2 1/2 months of being very, very cold, by driving round with teh heating up full in t-shirts; and driven nearly 5000km so far...
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We fly to Papau New Guinea to try our hand at speaking Pigeon on Sunday, where our experiences will be poles apart from NZ and South America...

Posted by DanSue 00:48 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Getting snowed in at the border crossing into Chile

sunny 16 °C

After Puerto Madryn we headed to Bariloche, a town resembling Switzerland (we even had a cheese fondue here) in the Argentinian lake district. There was no snow (or rather not the right snow for skiing) so the town was full of frustrated skiiers walking round town in their full ski suits - presumably it also meant they were ready to go straight away if it did start snowing, rather than waste time returning to the hotel to change.

We spent a full day walking round the surrounding areas in the lakes and up mountains/large hills.lakes.jpg This was the reason we´d come here rather than the skiing, (although we did spend a lot of time riding ski lifts for non-skiiers in a town with no snow!)skilift.jpg
The scenery around Bariloche was amazing.lakesdan.jpg
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We then went to Mendoza, where our main reason for visiting was wine tours. We hired bikes and spent the day cycling to wineries and sampling the wines, some of which were really nice.wine_barrels.jpg So that we could spend more on the wine we economised and hired the cheapest bikes going. This meant that my brakes worked, but only just, and Dan had a cheese grater for a saddle - after a few glasses of wine this didn´t seem too important though.

We were also in Mendoza for independence day, which they celebrated by erecting a huge stage in the park and eating a lot of meat - Dan obviously joined in this celebration with gusto.meat.jpg

From Mendoza we brought our bus tickets to Santiago and climed aboard expecting a 7 hour journey as described. The route was really interesting scenery and when we turned a corner from being in the desert, we were suddenly up in the Andes surrounded by snowy mountains. The bus climbed it´s way up to the boarder crossing which was at the top of a particuarly snowy mountain, and then the blizzard started. snowbus1.jpgWe sat outside the immgration house, which looked like an aircraft hanger with the snow getting harder and harder and after 2 hours were allowed to drive in.
dansnow.jpgGetting our passports stamped and bags searched was relatively straight forward and we jumped back onto the bus only to spend the next 6 hours sat on it as the snow was too heavy. We were being to think we´d be saving on a nights accommodation and would be spending the night on the bus when the driver announced we were off - the whole bus cheered as after so long sat without the engine running it was bloody freezing - they even brought us round a coffee and wagonwheel to celebrate our departure. The engine started and we drove out of the hanger into the snow, then stopped just outside... we stayed there for another 2 hours while the snow ploughs finished clearing the winding roads and daylight well and truely succumed to darkness.

By this time it was dark and although it had long since stopped snowing, there was about 2 foot of fresh snow everywhere. This didn´t put our driver off though and after fixing the snow chains to the tyres we set off following another bus, snow plough and patrol vehicles down 12km of winding, slippery, snow and ice covered roads. darksnow.jpgsnowbus.jpgThere were abandoned trucks all the way down and when the patrol car found a driver sleeping in one he insisted he get out and he boarded our bus. To the drivers credit he drove really well, and thankfully slowly (a rarity in South America).

We arrived into Santiago around 2am to find that the cash machines at the bus station didn´t work. Luckily we managed to find some other travellers, one of whom had some money to get us to the nearest hostel and we crawled into dorm around 3am - The most memorable and spectacular border crossing so far!

Santiago is another spectauclar city as the snowy Andes are visible surrounding the townsantiago.jpg - the downside is that these mountains also help to trap in the visible layer of smog over the city.santiago_smog.jpg

We fly to New Zealand tomorrow to begin our camper van adventures. Sad to be leaving South America, but excited to be heading somewhere new.

Posted by DanSue 13:48 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

Puerto Madryn

The ballad of the whales

sunny 6 °C

The arrival into this sleepy seaside town with the prospect of seeing Right Whales was nothing more than welcome. The surrounding landscape, although beautiful in its own way, wasn’t very inspiring. The Andes in the west sucks all the moisture away from this area leaving it dry, brown and treeless. I was missing the sight of green trees and this didn’t alleviate things.
The town of Puerto Madryn was rather nice. Nice wide roads and a real small (but proud) town feel about it. We checked in to a small hostel with heating, a real luxury after Bolivia, and headed to the beach. We couldn’t go swimming as it still is bloody freezing in this part of the world at this time of year so a stroll would suffice.
To our amazement we could see them from the beach. At this time nothing was more exciting. About five or six whales swimming just off shore. We later found out that they come hear to mate and raise their young. Nothing is quite so fascinating as the first time you see one of these 12 tonne creatures hurl itself out of the ocean for what looks like it’s own entertainment. We were both jumping round applauding at the at the natural spectacle and drawing tired, “we’ve seen it all before”, looks from the locals who really have seen it all before. They barely gave them a second look.
We were keen to see these beasts in the open ocean so we booked a tour to do just that on a small boat. We were a group of about 12 and the excursion would also include a visit to see elephant seals and some other wildlife on the peninsular.
The first 20 minutes of the boat trip was as I had expected. We have been whale watching before and only saw such a brief glimpses of these majestic animals as they came up for air. That’s what we were getting until the captain of the boat found a pod of four Right Whales turned off the outboard engines and waited. To everyone’s surprise these massive mammals came to us! Inquisitive to the end they circled our boat, swimming underneath it, beside it, turning there bodies to look at us only a few feet from the boat. They do seem to actually look at you in the eye when they swim past. I was beginning to wonder who the tourists were. I’m sure they were saying to each other that they had been human watching before but only got to small glimpses of them as they looked over the boat.whale2.jpgwhale_3.jpgwhale4.jpg
They stayed with us for about 20 minutes and it really did feel mutually beneficial, we saw them, they saw us. One of them turned to it’s side and started slapping it’s fin on the surface. I asked what it was doing and the answer was that no one really knows but it just looks like fun. I agreed. They swam off in their own time and we made it back to shore enthralled.penisular.jpg
The rest of the tour was actually quite dull. More brown, dry shrubs with the odd llama knocking about some weird long legged rodents that about the size of a dog (more interesting to describe than to see) and South Americas answer to the Ostrich. It looks like an Ostrich but smaller. We also got to see some Elephant seas but it was really the wrong time of year for that so we only saw a few and they were motionless lying on the beach sleeping.. We learned that this is also the place that Killer Whales are found to purposely beach themselves in pursuit of young seals and sea lions. The only place in the world they have been known to do this but, again it was the wrong time of year. elephant_seals.jpgOn the way back to the port I felt sorry for the Elephant seals, the tall rat like things and the “mini-me” Ostriches. The whales had put on such a show that the sight of them didn’t have excited. I will be more interested next time I promise

Posted by DanSue 16:04 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

My Birthday, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay

semi-overcast 17 °C

After the Bolivian salt flats we arrived in Chile, San Pedro de Atacama, to spend a couple of nights of luxury, courtesy of my big sis, for my birthday. mud2.jpg
We had champagne and nibbles,
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a jacuzzi at our disposal and the biggest buffet breakfast I´ve ever seen. pool.jpgThe hotel was made from mud and looked out onto a volcano. It was really, really nice.
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On my actual birthday we went horse riding during the Day (Dan´s treat). My horse kept wandering off to eat stuff and Dan´s kept wanting to gallop home...apart from that, it was really good fun.
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In the evening we went out for a posh meal, courtesy of my little auntie and cousins. That was really nice too. We had a good bottle of wine and some after dinner spirits, which came in a tumbler..
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After those, Dan ended up swinging from the ceiling of the room (I don´t know, these 30 years old just can´t take their booze anymore).
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After our time of luxury it was back to reality and we headed back onto our usual sleeper buses and into Argentina, to Salta. From there we went to a town called Resistencia, which is full of sculptures (over 300 of them dotted around town), and from these to Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires is a great city. Lots of parks. We hired bikes and spent a day cycling round an ecological reserve in town, which backs onto the Atlantic. We went to an overly opulent graveyard, where we saw Evitas grave.

You get professional dog walkers here who walk several dogs at a time. 13 is our count so far. Amazingly, apart from poohing all over the pavements (which is more of the walkers fault than theirs), all the dogs are really well behaved. It does mean that we have to dodge the turds whilst walking round.

We then decided to get some more stamps in our passport and got the ferry over to Uruguay. We spent a night in Montevideo, the capital, which is the quietest capital city we´ve ever been to. We were there on a saturday night and everything was shut and there was no-one around. It was also extremely foggy, so we couldn´t see all that much. We decided to stop off for a beer, not realising that it was happy hour and ended up having 4 (litres that is). We then spent a night in another town, Colonia, which has lots of cobbled streets and is very nice, although again didn´t see that much of it due to the fog.

We´re now back in Buenos Aires getting a bus to Puerto Maldryn tonight (about halfway down Argentina in Patagonia). We´re hoping it´s not going to be too cold down there, and that we can go whale watching.

Dan has been living off steak since we arrived in Argentina, so much so that´s he´s lost quite a bit of weight - the Atkins diet!

Posted by DanSue 11:36 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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