NZ North: Lake Aniwheniwer and Blue Duck Station

In the afternoon we drove to Lake Aniwheniwer which is a cultural stop. A Maori family own a hostel and have close links with the local community and mori for their tribe. So in that afternoon they take you to look at some stone wall carvings and then to the mori where they welcome you onto the land by singing and everyone completes the hongi.

That night they cook a hangi which is a traditional meal cooked in the ground. This was pretty tasty; mainly the stuffing!

This one night stop costs $95 dollars so it’s pretty pricey but quite a unique experience.  If your tight on money, work out your alternate route (Rotorua to Taupo) in advance otherwise you won’t end up saving money. Unless you plan to hitchhike!

There were great (paid) activities you could do throughout the afternoon such as bracelet weaving, bread making, poi making and in the late evening eeling.

Can definitely recommend the bread making as it tasted so good ( its fried like doughnuts) and the late night eeling – used to feed the next stray bus so no waste.

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Day 6 AM: Lake Aniwheniwer day trip to a maori school.

This was a very unique and nice experience to share with the kids from the school.  Their school was fantastic and it was lovely to hear about their progress with their academic achievements because of the visits.

Day 7: Blue duck station (farm)

Quiet day just enjoyed being in the middle of nowhere.  Did a long and very muddy walk to a waterfall.

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TIP

If you are not on the Stray bus it’s not necessarily worth the detour.  There are hikes there but we couldn’t do them due to the bad weather.

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Indonesia: Bali – Ubud

Ubud

That eve we booked another uber *successful* to our hostel in Ubud. This cost us 100,000 IDR. The hostel was lovely ‘Dormy Inn’ but a little bit out of the way so we rented a scooter the whole time which was great for us as Danielle is a confident driver but if your not so keen maybe stay somewhere closer or ask about taxi hire. Our friends hired a car for 400,000 IDR (2 people) for the day to take them round to all the attractions they wanted to see.

In Ubud we went to the monkey forest, 40,000 IDR, which we really liked. It’s a nice little walk as well as just being to see the monkeys. I was really scared about being attacked but didn’t need to be; if you don’t provoke them or have any food they won’t come near you.

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In the afternoon we went to the trawangan waterfall. It was a fantastic scenic drive to the waterfall passing through jungle, rice paddies, hidden streets and dodging all the dogs! This was the best bit of the trip as the waterfall itself wasn’t really anything too special (this may be us in spoilt traveller mode as we have seen so many stunning things now, hopefully not!). The water was pretty murky so we opted out of the swim and it was just so busy.

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After this we drove in convoy (at the waterfall we had met up with Katie, Charlotte and Daryl) to a silversmith. This was very cool as we got to see the ladies making the jewellery and then went into the shop for the finished products. Obviously they tried to sell us stuff but they let us walk around and have a good look and let us leave with no problems even though no one had bought anything. We then drove onto a local market where there was lots of clothes/local food. Whatever you do in Indonesia make sure you barter for everything, even if you think you’re taking the piss with the price, your not and try it anyway.

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Next day we got the hostel shuttle (60,000 IDR pp) back to Denpasar airport and flew to Lombok. We had heard the weather was really bad for the boats going across to the islands so thought we would try this instead. It was only a 30min flight but travelling took most of the day with the faffing and the journey from our accommodation on both sides.

Off to Lombok!

Malaysian Borneo: Sabah and Mt Kinabalu

We arrived in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and went straight to our hostel to dump our bags then out for local food. This part of Malaysia had a real mix of cuisines, mostly great cheap chinese and indian food. We then tried to plan what we were doing for the next couple of weeks, after a lot of research we decided on four main loctions; mt kinabalu, sepilok, river kinabatangan and sipadan. Before we left Sabah we were so lucky to be able to go a meet up with Nova, who works in Rustic Borneo, We had first met Nova all the way back in Vietnam when we did the Sapa trek. She really helped us plan our Borneo trip. So after chatting with her, we collected our bags….a cheeky pizza hut and went to the bus stop.

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Mt Kinabalu

From about half a mile from Rustic Borneo is a bus stop with  load of different shuttle buses going to a load of destinations just shout out your destination and someone will point you in the right direction. It was about 60ringit and took 3 hours to get to Mt Kinabalu.

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We stayed at a hostel called D’villa Rina Ria Lodge it was a very basic room with bunk beds squashed together but all you needed for a night and the views from the restaurant area were incredible. Danielle also wants me to write that the room was really cold and there were massive spiders in the bathroom….but we were in the mountains!

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Now we couldn’t afford to do the summit trek as its around 300GBP and you have to book it 6 months in advance but there are a load of trails in the park you can do, these were really fun rainforest treks!

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Vietnam – Hanoi

Our first stop was Hanoi. From the airport to our hostel we got an uber and paid 265,000 dong which was much cheaper than the taxis outside the terminal. It took about 40 minutes for us to get to the old quarter, where we stayed at ‘central backpackers-old quarter’. The hostel was fine for the money. The biggest bonus was the free cocktail, beer, walking tour and the staff were really friendly. There was also a restaurant which did food really cheap and was yummy. Much cheaper than any restaurant we found on the street!

Hanoi is a great city, imagine manic markets, scooters and people everywhere. Lots of bars and nightlife, seemed to be street entertainment and happy hour somewhere every night! You could sit in the road and drink beer 🍻 from a keg for 5000 dong a glass (that’s 20p).

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One thing we did in Hanoi was go to the Musileum, which also had an information centre, this was really interesting and we got to know a lot more about the history of Vietnam.

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The second main thing we did was go to watch a water puppet show, this was on the recommendation of Laura who we’d met in Fiji and gave us a tonne of tips for Asia, thank you Laura!

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And then last but definitely not least…….Hanoi was where we fell in love with Egg coffee, life will never be the same! and if anyone knows where we can get it in the UK. Please tell us!!

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Las Vegas (Day 1-3/207)

 

The journey begins!!!! Vegas baby !

We had a great start to the journey as it was Norwegian airs’ inaugural flight to Las Vegas to they had complimentary drinks and cakes before we got on the flight 🙂

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When we arrived in Vegas, we got a bus to the hotel….which took about 2 hours, luckily we got a good tour of the strip! Shuttle bus huts to the strip are at the airport as you walk out, surprisingly small airport so pretty easy to find.

**TIP

If you’re tired or in a hurry get an uber (normal taxi’s are expensive) and the shuttle (we took transbell) takes agessssss as it goes around every hotel to drop off,  unless you have a central strip hotel, and there’s a tonne of traffic.

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On the first night we set off for a walk down the strip…The strip is massive; top to bottom is about 4 miles and takes a whole day to navigate one way so maybe split it into sections so you can enjoy it over a couple days rather than rushing through.

The best places to go that we found; Take the monorail to see the different hotels from the Bellaggio. A little quicker and fun way to get about, it’s free:)

-Bellagio fountains

-Bellagio gardens

-Luxor

-Excallibur

-Mandalay bay hotel

-Flamingo hotel (see the flamingos)
-Planet Hollywood (go see Britney… so fun).

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The next day we went to The Linq and went on the highroller (we got a good deal on show tickets plus the highroller and open bar ticket). This was great, the view is fantastic and we got a bar for just the two of us with unlimited drinks for 30 minutes… being Brits we definitely took advantage ;). Would definitely recommend this open bar ticket, well worth the money and a lovely bar lady from Rhode island.

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After finishing all our cocktails, we went to see Britney woooooo:

Going to see any show is a must in Vegas. We went to see Britney which was incredible, really good all round show; she plays all the classics, great dancers and costumes.

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We also really wanted to go to one of Vegas’ clubs, and when we were there the chainsmokers were playing. There are always great DJs in Vegas, we got tickets to see the chain smokers in Omnia (in Ceasers Palace). It was a great venue,  smallish club and ram packed but great sound. The club entry is very reasonably priced but the drinks are a killer so have a few before.

The chandelier dropped and moved with the massive beats really fun to dance under!

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TIP

Water is $10 for about 250ml and $25 for a single shot and mixer.

We didn’t get bag searched so could prob sneak something in, or get drunk before ;).

Another must do is Freemont street (at night as the lights are brill) and play some craps (stand next to someone nice and they will teach you). The casinos are a little cheaper around this area for the min bets so it’s great if you’re a novice and are a little intimidated at the big hotels.