Koh Tao

So I am jumping back a little here, we have now been home for close to two months (and I have not even posted 1/4 of the posts of our travel that I should have by now) and yes I have been a little slack in the posting department but this is all due to good cause. We have built a vegetable garden (not just any vege garden, it’s a pretty neat one, it looks great thanks to Daves amazing building skills and my staining skills) and been getting our home to be just the way we like it. So that’s my excuse anyway 😉

Back to the story at hand, I am taking you back to Thailand, Kho Tao to be exact, where we had a really nice 8 days of unwinding, swimming, reading, eating, drinking and exploring. We stayed at a great little place called Samatha Bed and Breakfast which was newly built and a nice place to retreat to during the peak heat of the day and at the end of an evening out.

Lucky Seafood….

I really like this photo for some particular reason. We ate at this little place several times, their Thai Green Curry and Red Curry were to die for and the cheapest we found anywhere on the Island.

Help your self to a seat at the table!

Time for an afternoon caffeine fix!

Tea Plantations of Sri Lanka

After our night in Kandy we were back in the car and on the road again heading to Ella. The car ride was great, the scenery was amazing, the day was misty and the tea plantations all looked a vibrant green colour. As per normal being on the road was a little scary, buses passing buses on steep tight corners with nothing but sheer cliff face on one side of the road.

After almost two hours into the drive our driver stopped at what looked like a rickety old shack and said we were going for a cup of tea as it would still be another hour before we would be arriving at the Tea Factory for a little look around. Out of the car we got and sat down in the dive of a shack.

Served with a nice hot cup of sweet tea were these little Rotti served with the BEST hot sauce I have ever had! As I spooned a generous amount onto my Rotti, Chris our driver looked horrified and warned that it was very very hot and I would not be able to handle it… Ah why do people in foreign countries always think that the little white girl won’t be able to handle the spice! I couldn’t get enough of the stuff meanwhile Chris was in a world of discomfort having only put a small amount on his piece of Rotti. As for Dave, he too was able to handle the spice more than our driver. Such an unassuming place to stop but we were very happy to have stopped there as we were pleasantly surprised with the food and the very kind man who served such good Rotti!

Back on the road, we soon arrived at the Tea Factory for a tour around and a cup of tea!

After a cup of tea we were on our way again, next destination Nuwara Eliya situated at 1,868m above sea level.

Some interesting markets to walk through… Fish this high above sea level, and at least four hours from the coast, no ice to be seen anyone and I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as refrigerated transport in Sri Lanka! So needless to say we bought no fish however we got some hot peanuts and they were pretty good!

Back in the car again and not too far from Ella where we had two days and two nights to explore. Train track walks (posted that one ahead of myself) climbing little Adams peak and meeting some great people.

Hello Sri Lanka… Dambulla and the Mighty Sigiriya

We arrived into the Sri Lanka on an early morning flight, having spent most of the night in the Airport waiting for our flight we were pretty tired by the time our flight landed just before 7am. Visas issued, customs cleared and we were on our way into Sri Lanka. We had organized a driver/guide for the first part of our trip, which was a good plan as we didn’t have to worry about hectic public transport systems in our tired state. The car ride north to the cultural triangle included a Sri Lankan history lesson and stories from the times of war.

Arriving 3 hours later at our destination, our first stop was the ‘Golden Temple of Dambulla’ These caves sitting high on a rock out crop were originally carved during the Anuradhapura period (1st century BC to 993 AD) and added to over the centuries.

Welcoming us at the base of the rock, a large Golden Budda. Not yet accustomed to the Sri Lankan heat, the steep walk up the rock was a bit of shock to the system but well worth the effort.Legend claims the above tree was planted by Budda himself.

After an hour up the rock, we made our way back down avoiding thieving monkeys keen to get their hands on anything not firmly in your grasp.  Arriving back at the car park again, I soon found out that its best to use toilets in hotels only. Grim !

Next stop – Sigiriya.

‘Sigiriya’ or ‘Lions Rock’. On top sit the ruins of an ancient fortress and a Buddhist temple. The rock itself is the solidified crater plug of ancient volcano, the surroundings have eroded away with time leaving only the rock out crop.

Half way up the rock small frescoes hold ancient paintings, still in good condition.

The final climb begins at the ‘Lions Paws’. Before the stairways were put in place for tourists, access was by way of small hand holds on the rock face.

As we soon found out, the view from the top was again worth the haul.

Luckily for us the heat radiated off the large rock mass was balanced out by a strong breeze.

Back down the rock and we headed to our bed for the night, and to sample some Sri Lankan curry : )

Woman on the streets of Hanoi

We have been in Vietnam now for nearly one month, the time has flown by, and it’s safe to say we have enjoyed our time here, especially our time in Saigon (we have been staying with a good friend of mine who lives in New Zealand but is originally from here and just just so happens that he was home on holiday during our stay so we have been enjoying the best of Saigon and Phan Thiet through the eyes of a local). However you will hear more about that later, we will start from the top and work our way down. So for now Hanoi it is.

We arrived in Vietnam, from Singapore, having applied online for our Visas upon arrival we were not too sure what to expect. It could not have been simpler! We were the first of the plane and the first to get our visas put in our Passports, $50.00USD was handed over for the two of us and we were on our way, got our bags and our driver was waiting for us to take us to the hotel. After a quick refresh, we were back out the door to begin to explore the Old Quarter of Hanoi. We loved this area, there was so much going on, an overload (a good one) on all the senses. One thing in-particular that caught my eye were all the ladies that carry what seems to be a piece of Bamboo over their shoulder that has a tray hanging off either end which is carrying some form of food along with the ladies who push their bikes around with a huge pile of goods on the back.

Penang through the lens of my camera

 

After catching the Ferry from Koh Tao to the mainland and a very uncomfortable mini van ride (I would like to point out there were no seat belts and our driver seemed to think he was invincible behind the wheel and thought it was best to pass only on blind corners and directly in-front of on coming traffic) to Chumphon followed by a 16 hour train ride, we arrived in Penang.

Penang was just a short stop over of two nights for us on our way back to Singapore to then get to Vietnam (where we are currently still). This was plenty of time for us to try plenty of street food and to explore Georgetown and even get up Penang hill. The Cable car up Penang hill was extremely impressive and no photo that I was able to get through the window did it any justice. Here is a little bit of what we saw in just under 48 hours.