Sleeping With Strangers In Saint Malo

AirBnB: Got to love it, got to hate it! Recently (or not so recently) I found myself actually in a love hate relationship with this new way of sleeping around the world. When it works, it’s really awesome and it’s such a great way to meet new people… when it doesn’t work it has you contemplating sleeping outside the station wearing all your clothes and sweating away on a train calling your sibling and asking her to bail you out of trouble… yet again!

So after Paris, plans somewhat changed and I found myself heading back to Saint Malo with nowhere to stay. With a trusty iPhone by my side I decided not to panic well too much anyway because I would surely find somewhere to stay on my AirBnB app. As it turns out I didn’t and even contacting and requesting to book every available space I was on the train with absolutely nowhere to stay.

When I arrived in Saint Malo I dressed myself in all my clothing, hid all my valuables on my person and prepared to camp outside the station until the next day where a new day meant that I would find somewhere to sleep! As it turns out I only half needed to panic. Thankfully one of the AirBnB folk got back to me with an available place to stay. There was only one small issue: it was his place and he was there.

Not one to abuse the help of strangers I jumped at the chance of having a roof over my head and prayed to the universe (I realise I do this a lot now) that he wasn’t a serial killer or some sort of traveller rapist. With very little money left to my name and very few hours left of patience and humour I jumped in to a taxi counted my pennies and spent the last of my phone battery messaging everyone I could think of the location of my whereabouts and the address of where I would be staying.

Things went from bad to worse… the house was under renovation and with only had one bedroom… this meant we would be sharing sleeping space. Again deciding that it was too late to back out now, I had no choice but to keep all my clothing on (if he was going to get me it was going to be after an epic fight with huge amounts of clothing) and crawl in to bed. In my mind I was drawing imaginary lines and telling myself that if his hands crept anywhere near that line I would be out and running as fast as my drag would let me. Unnecessary panic later my faith in humanity had been restored. He behaved and kept his hands to himself. Ok so he did sleep pretty much naked but his naked body stayed well away from the centre line and therefore well away from me. Phewie!

The next morning there was all the awkwardness of a walk of shame without any of the actual shame. With the help of sleep and daylight I decided that I couldn’t have picked a more innocent stranger to share sleeping space with and that actually in hindsight all my clothing was a little too extreme (I woke up a little more sweaty that I would have liked to and with no opportunity to have a shower). After a quick introduction to his parents… who I can imagine were a little happy to see him with an actual female we were in the car and on the way to town. He dropped me off somewhere out in the sticks but I found myself back to my station and very grateful to the kindness of strangers for taking me in and not killing me in my sleep.

AirBnB also came through for me once more and found me a better much nicer place to stay that was all mine (no sharing required). After finally feeling like life was all in order once more and with another adventure to add to my ever-growing list, I headed to the beach, picked up some cheese and baguette and enjoyed a leisurely walk in the rain. The weather stopping play, I decided against trekking to explore the old fort town s instead turned back around and took myself and my cheese home and parked myself in front of French SpongeBob Square Pants.

Although I have very little to report on Saint Malo itself I can assure you that I will be back. There was something so sweet about the people and the place: a sleepy French seaside village full of many characters and a little history too. The beach is pretty spectacular as well and if you have time then exploring around Dinard isn’t a bad idea. It may have been a stressful 72 hours but it was exactly what the doctor ordered after a very hectic few days in Paris.

Just a word of wisdom before I end… I’m not suggesting that everyone jump in to bed with strangers… It’s not the safest option and I got lucky. But saying this, don’t underestimate the kindness of strangers. Not everyone is out to kill and murder and kidnap, some just want to make sure that a lonely tired tourist has a good nights sleep somewhere warm and out of the rain. Thank you Carl, it was an absolute pleasure sharing sleeping space with you. You have restored my faith in humanity and I hope you enjoy New Zealand!

 

 

Sark Life

Recently I have found myself somewhat stranded on an island. Not quite a deserted one but if the Barclay brothers (co-owners of the Daily Telegraph) have their way then it could well be one some day. Before you get all excited about island life, I’m going to burst your bubble by saying that I’m on Sark, which can be located somewhere in the English Channel. Hardly the Bahamas or Caribbean or anywhere remotely exotic but still somewhere that I think should be included on an itinerary for the UK. I’m also hardly stranded here, only a Ferry ride away from Guernsey I can quite easily get on and off this island if work permitted. Sadly though this summer is all about working and not playing so I rarely have time for much other than sleep and sunbathing on the beach.

In terms of work… I have found myself breaking my vow and working in a hotel of all places. I thought Australia was the last time and I was quite adamant that it would be but sadly the student life has led to an unhealthy bank balance and I found myself contemplating whether selling organs to pay my rent was a good idea. I consequently decided that although I could get quite a lot of money for them, the after effects were just not worth it. I am therefore sucking it up for one more summer… but I am vowing that this will definitely be the last time. Fact.

Next year I will be working for some sort of publication… Hopefully. Even if it means camping out on the steps at NatGeo HQ and bothering them enough until they have no choice but to either consider me or have me arrested. When next summer rolls around do me a favour and remind me of this plan. I have decided that if all my follows are witness to this statement I will be more inclined to buy a tent and possibly even a gas stove. I may be camping on some building steps but at least I’ll be dry and not hungry.

Anyway as per usual I am digressing from my main point. Right now I am on Sark and this is all about the island life.

I’m actually not quite sure where to start, seeing as I have very little time for playing (thanks work) I find myself exploring the island bit by bit. I think for starters I should give you a little background knowledge and then go from there and see how that goes. I have a feeling this is going to turn in to another little series of blog posts because if I highlight it all in one go I will miss out some good things and there will be another long stretch of silence from me and I wouldn’t want you thinking the fishermen have kidnapped me and are holding me hostage.

For starters, Sark is only a short flight and ferry ride away from the UK so if you haven’t already been here I suggest that you take it in to consideration. If you own a boat, I hear it’s a great place for sailing too! The unique selling point of this island well in my book anyway is that there is no danger of being run over by a bus or even a car for that matter. There is no tarmac on any of the main roads here and the main mode of transport is horse and carriage or bicycle. If these two are too adventurous even for you, have no fear because the island is very small so you can walk just about anywhere worth visiting in under an hour, give or take a minute or two. There are one or two tractors that you need to avoid but other than that I would say that crossing the road here could be done without looking both ways. I know living life on the edge like you would not believe.

Also a fun fact for you, Sark has been designated as a Dark Sky Community and consequently the first dark island in the world. This is due to having no vehicles and no streetlights so no light pollution. FYI if you do plan on coming here bring a torch because walking home from the pub at night is slightly more hazardous than normal but do yourself a favour and stop and look up at the sky once in a while; the stars are almost as impressive as the Kenya night sky.

Anyway, as mentioned before, the Barclay Brothers are slowly but surely trying to take over this island. Once upon a time there were many hotels and now there are only two; one of which I work at. This has of course pissed off the locals and hasn’t done good things to Sark’s economy but I can’t help but see a little genius in the evil brothers plans. I have been here just over a month but already the beauty of Sark is hard to miss. The seawater may not be warm and the beaches far from pristine white sands but the views and the general setting alone are enough for me to want to join them. My family and I have always thought that owning an island would be the thing of the future so I’m definitely on board with the idea, and if there were an island to own Sark would certainly be some top island real estate.

Ok before anyone goes sharpening their pitchforks or filing some police reports all I am saying is that I don’t blame them. They have the money and sadly with money comes power so what do you expect? I do on the other hand hope for Sark’s sake that it doesn’t happen. The UK really does have a little slice of island paradise and it would be a shame for it not to be open to the public. There are also some really quirky characters that have lived here for years and it wouldn’t be the same without them. I actually don’t know much about the politics surrounding this but it’s always a topic of conversation so maybe one day I will return and do some more digging of my own and really uncover what goes on here. For now though I am going to keep my head down and just enjoy the rocky beaches and impressive views.

Speaking of views… I am in a slight quandary. Do I or do I not include Sark as a new country? Recently the UN has granted this little island it’s own country code and it does have it’s own parliament and laws so going by my rule book this would make country number 17. I say 17 because I have also been to Guernsey, which is in the same boat as Sark. I also feel that as I have considered England and Wales as separate then Sark and Guernsey should be no different. I’m definitely going to need an unbiased opinion on this so if any of you know of someone who carries the official rulebook to this kind of thing let me know. Similarly feel free to let me know what you think.

Until then I’m going to get back to my pebbly perch and chilled cider but I promise that once I am done baking myself in the sun I shall update you on the must dos and sees of this very strange but actually quite awesome little island.

My Kind Of Village

I never thought that visiting my Grandfather would actually end up being an enormous hoot. I expected early morning walks and endless amounts of tea and tales of way back when he was my age, I didn’t expect to find a little slice of gin heaven. It comes in the form of a pub and it’s tucked away down a not so main street in the little village of Woodbridge in Suffolk.

I know that many of you are going to be checking your maps and trying to work out where this place is or even wondering if gin is really worth the journey. I am here to assure you that you will not be disappointed.

Woodbridge doesn’t have just gin on offer. Fortunately for this little village it lies on the sea and we all know what goodness comes with salty waters. You guessed it: Boats and obviously fish.

Surprisingly large amounts of people are finding themselves quite literally stuck in the mud and living on houseboats in this small harbour. I can’t say that boat life is for me and if I were to do that I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the mud but it seems that real estate doesn’t always mean bricks, mortar and a small amount of land. If there were a place where I would swap the studio apartment for a canal boat then Woodbridge would probably be the place to be. Just over and hour and a half from London you are still very much within reach of the city but with the luxury of coast-life and the countryside.

If you find yourself in these muddy waters then take a walk along the waterfront and breathe in the sea air, there are so many boats of all shapes and sizes for you to be bored by and the scenery doesn’t disappoint either. If you fancy a little history lesson too, head to the Tide Mill (you can’t miss it… it’s a big white wooden building) and watch in awe at how waves help make flour. This isn’t as boring as it sounds, there is an art to milling and back in the day when there was no technology or heavy-duty machinery everything was made by hand and people had to get inventive. This particular mill was actually the last commercially working tide mill in the UK, which has now been restored to working order. There is quite a lot of history packed in to a building and the views out of the window are pretty awesome too. Just remember everything was made by hand and everything depended on the tides.

When you have milled and mulled over boats until your heart’s content, then casually stroll through the streets of Woodbridge. From old buildings housing pubs to colourful doors and water wells there is a lot to take in. Walk in and out of the alleyways and don’t forget to stop in for a beer here and there. My personal favourite watering holes are The Table for some awesome alfresco dining when the sun is shining, The Kings Head Inn because the building is the oldest in the town and worth a snoop around, The Anchor because although when we arrived it was more a working mans pub than a place where women go to drink they still pour a good pint. FYI women are welcome… we just so happened to be the only three in there! And last but by no means least The Angel is a definite stop spot, perhaps save it for last because you are going to need to dedicate many hours to get the full effect of how awesome this place is.

If you have read my post about Australia you will of course know that Grandma’s Bar in Sydney is my favourite pub in the whole world I am going to have to put The Angel as a very close second. With 150 different types of gin on offer this is literally my kind of heaven. The only thing I regret from my weekend is not having enough time to sample them all but collectively between us we managed to get through nine.

I actually don’t remember what most of them taste, I think that had something to do with our pub crawl but there were some awesome fruity flavours like blackcurrant and blueberry but the two that really stick out are Elephant Gin distilled in Germany and Mombasa Club distilled in London.

If you are big in to conservation, especially Elephant conservation then Elephant Gin is the drink for you. Proceeds from each bottle sold go to saving the species in Africa and every bottle that is distilled is dedicated to one Elephant in particular. The bottle I was drinking from and consequently finished was helping to save an Elephant called Nana. Rather fitting considering my grandmother was known to Nana by us all. Not only does this bottle of gin taste mighty fine but when you can drink and save wildlife in one go I am all for it. This I feel is an iconic drink for an iconic species and one I will be ordering from somewhere and stocking it on my shelf. It is after all in the name of conservation… I am doing it for the Elephants!

The Mombasa Club recipe dates back to the colonial days where they used to drink gin by the gallon in the era of the British Empire on the coast of Kenya. It has a very distinct flavour and one that definitely reminds me of home and definitely one I will find myself sipping anytime anywhere. For all of you non-gin drinkers out there I urge you to do a little alcohol explorations. If ever there were a gin to convert these two would be it.

Woodbridge may be a little village for the retired or eager seamen but it certainly doesn’t disappoint the young traveller either. Not only will I go back to spend some more time sipping tea out of mugs that remind me of my childhood and listening to my grandfather recount his youthful days I will certainly go back to complete the challenge of trying all of that gin. 150 gins in 150 Days or possibly even hours… who’s to say it’s impossible?

Yatching In Yeppoon

Sun, sea and goggling. Three words that pretty much sum up my two days spent in Yeppoon. A quick pre-crimbo trip with my brothers future in-laws and actually just what I needed. Yeppoon itself is a cute little town, built a little backwards I am not going to lie but it has everything you need and the best thing about it is that it is bang smack on the beach. Not quite a white sand pristine beach like the ones I am so used to back home but you can actually go in to the sea and squish your toes in the sand. A real genuine Australian beach.

There isn’t much to do in Yeppoon itself, there are a few shops and bars as well as coffee shops that you can wonder in and out of. Sip on tea here enjoy a pint there not to mention some good restaurants. The standard issue with every town you find. So why Yeppoon? Well we only had a couple of days before Christmas so somewhere not far and somewhere neither of us had been. My sister-in-law had been there so we broke one rule but the rest of us hadn’t. The convenience factor was the main selling point for us, being not far from Middlemount it seemed the logical destination.

To be completely truthful I honestly don’t remember a whole bunch from my holiday there. No I had not been drinking and no I do not have amnesia but I literally struggle to piece the activities together. I know there was dinner, and pool side sun bathing and I also know we squeezed in some shopping other than that I am pretty sure it was the standard eat, sleep, repeat routine. One particular thing does come to mind though when I think Yeppoon. My brothers mother in law shouted us a trip on a boat out to Keppel Island. Due to hard wind or some other factor out of our control we couldn’t get to Keppel Island itself. We ended up diverting to North Keppel Island and thank goodness we did.

Keppel Island is normally where the ferry stops off an unloads the vast amount of tourists of locals wanting a day away and a chance to sit back and relax. It is usually hectic from what I hear and a very touristy thing to do. We ended up actually going on a private sail boat. Instead of dropping us off on the busy shores of Keppel Island they actually anchored off the shores of somewhere close to paradise. Kenyan beaches aren’t exactly crowded but they are not desolate either, on north Keppel beach there was not a soul in sight. There are not many places that you can go to where you have a whole beach to yourself so as you can imagine this was complete luxury.

And enjoy it i did. The weather was perfect and the sea was beautiful. Other than the added danger of jellyfish and stingrays it was the most amazing day. All of my favourite things combined in to one. Would I go back? For sure simply because it is a beautiful spot and what more could you want than sun, sea, sand and goggling.

Boogying With Backpackers

Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia,  somewhere a long the coast.

People watching: everyone indulges in a little of this innocent activity, well for those lovers of this past time Airlie Beach is the place to go. I’m not saying that it is better than any Airport Terminal or Shopping Mall but it is up there. Luckily I went at the best time. Schoolies. What is this schoolies I speak of? It’s a week when all the school seniors head somewhere to blow off some steam and lose their V plates (if they hadn’t already done so) as they have finished school and are heading in to the big wide world. To me it’s when High School spills on to the street. Airlie Beach is one of the main destinations where these high schoolers go in Queensland. Or more specifically those who can’t face the big city of Brisbane or the intense life of the Gold Coast, basically those from small towns who want to go somewhere close to home and not so hectic. Luckily, for those of you who are finding this a little daunting, schoolies isn’t always on but Airlie isn’t a relaxing beach weekend away in paradise kind of destination either. It’s not really a beach if I am being totally honest. There is a beach and you can see the sea but it’s nowhere I would want to take a stroll or have a soak in the salt water. It’s grim. I grew up in Kenya with pristine white beaches and delicious Indian Ocean water. When I hear the word beach I automatically think white sands and aqua marine blue waters. Airlie does not provide this. I never actually made it on to the sand not because I didn’t want to but because it looked like I may run the risk of standing on broken glass or some other rubbish left over from a weekends worth of binge drinking. And the sea, the lovely shade of dirt brown surf is enough to put even the bravest of fish off!

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Please note that all landscapes look better in photos!

It isn’t all bad though. Thanks to Airlie I now have yet another tattoo to add to my collection and a knee injury from too much dancing so there has to have been some great times too. I am not going to lie, I was looking forward to some time on the sand soaking up the sun rays and breathing in the sea air but unfortunately my weekend away didn’t actually lead to any of that. The grim beach may have had something to do with it but I was mainly recovering from a stinking hangover the rest of the trip. I may have gotten in to a little too much of the partying scene but at the time it was all worth it.

A beach getaway it may not be but a partying scene it is. Known for it’s backpacker vibe you are bound to be enjoying some wet t-shirt competition or jelly wrestling in no time and that I did. For me jelly wrestling was the sport and Magnums was the establishment of choice. No I did not don the traditional white Magnum branded shirt and join in with the KY festivities but I did get Ridiculous with Red Foo and indeed danced the night away. It was a night of pure fun. I hadn’t had a care in the world and everyone definitely thought that I was off my face on some white powder but in fact it was tequila and I was just high off the music!

The morning after the night before it’s a MacDonald’s kind of a day. Their Chicken McNuggets or not quite chicken anythings are a good way to soak up some of the tequila and their seating outside, well it turned out that they just so happen to be in a prime viewing location. The people of Airlie are some of the finest characters. And not in a good way. I wish I could describe in depth what I saw but there are no words! Just imagine some of the most sex hungry girls wearing the shortest of skirts mixed with the most desperate of men who think singlets are the way to show off their non existent guns but it doesn’t stop there. We have tattoo and stud decorated-stretched ear-lobed-rock star wannabes and then the innocent types trying to pop their cherries all thrown in to one small town, mixing and matching with each other creating some of the oddest of couples that no parent would approve of. Like I said it’s high school in the streets, the same drama and violence, the never ending love triangles and the unavoidable ins and outs of becoming an adult only this time out in the publics eyes and on display for everyone to see. Only this time if you found yourself in a spot of trouble, it wouldn’t be a trip to the school head for a slap on the wrist and a possible detention instead you would find yourself arrested for indecent exposure and possibly behind bars for a night if your are one of the really unlucky ones or just really good at getting caught. Nothing says welcome to the big world like a criminal record and a mug shot! It was a joy to watch. I could have stayed there for ages taking it all in; I laughed at all the stupidity, cringed at all the mistakes and took in the lives of those fresh out of school types and thought to myself thankfully my time for that had long gone. Or so I thought. My hangover really did feel like I was back in those days and the flash backs of the night, well they weren’t all pretty. The only difference is that my hangover lasted days and it forced me to spend the second night in with the telly on and my friend Neurofen by my side. Not something my 16 year old self would be proud of but in some way I actually looked forward to an early night in and the prospect of a nutritious breakfast that wasn’t going to be deep fried and fake. Saying this though, it was good craic to indulge in just a little high school activity for a night and a good way to spend time away from the hectic hustle and bustle of Middlemount life. Sarcasm of course, Middlemount hasn’t exactly turned in to a booming metropolis in the last few weeks since my last post.

To summarise Airlie: if it is a quiet destination you are after then do not head in this direction. It’s somewhere where you feel the need to get involved in the shenanigans and head in to town to check out the competition. It’s a party place but not a bad one at that. We had also better not forget the people watching opportunities either, it was after all an entertaining hour. So if you are looking to watch the world go by whilst you recover from too many jaeger bombs then Airlie is a place to consider. It’s the Australian equivalent of budget Ibiza so if you can handle the tackiness and feel you can brave the beach then get booking. However, if you are looking to feel the sand between your toes and find the perfect opportunity to ogle at some fish swimming by then avoid this at all cost. There are far superior beach destinations all a long the Australian coast and a few of them I hope to frequent while I am here.

Will I ever go back? Probably not, unless of course I am invited by a crowd of equally as crazy people for some more drunken dancing. It isn’t too far from Middlemount either so the convenience factor may also come in to play; but why would I want to spend time in a place that is only really good for people watching, alcohol induced debauchery and sneaky tattoo opportunities when I could be sunning myself on the sands of Bondi Beach or goggling with the sharks and sting rays of the Great Barrier Reef?This is Australia, a whole world of adventure awaits, and I don’t think sticking around these small towns will help me find it! So with my Airlie memories locked away and the postcard stuck in my travel journal it’s back to the drawing board and back to some more holiday planning.

My Next stop: New Zealand, I am extremely excited to be returning to this place I once called home. Let’s hope my love of this country hasn’t been a figment of my imagination for the last 5 years. Fingers crossed because I am now Kiwi Land bound.

Sunshine Reggae, Shopping and Sea Sickness In The Sun

Dar, Zanzibar, Back to Dar and Arusha.

I still hate Dar. Yep. No amount of time I will ever spend there will make me change my mind. Thankfully the promise of Zanzibar and the Indian Ocean make up for it but I can’t say I will ever book my own trip to go there. If I were to do Zanzibar on my own, I would fly. The traffic is worse than Nairobi which is enough for anyone with a severe road rage problem to avoid it and the suppressing heat and humidity and smell of rotten fish just make it a thousand times worse than what it could be. Unless you are visiting a long lost family friend that is stuck there then there is simply no reason to visit. So don’t.

The beaches are however a saviour. Granted we don’t spend much time in Dar so I am probably not really one who should judge but the journey through the traffic, on to the small ferry and then on to a matatu that we have to take to get to the beaches still doesn’t make Dar anywhere where I would spend much time. I can see a beach in Kenya that would probably be nicer and visit it in the comfort of a private car. Why would I bother going to Dar to get to Zanzibar. The true answer is I wouldn’t. I only do it because the itinerary says so. I guess it is a good way for the tourists to get a taste of the local life and the experience is quite something but I dread that part of the journey. Every time. What also makes it worse is the butt crack of dawn early wake up call (4:30am) from Chitimba and the very long drive to avoid the traffic. We then only stay a matter of hours and the small ferry, heat, chaos and pandemonium starts all over again to catch the big ferry to Zanzibar. Thankfully on the way over this time it was smooth sailing and no one I was near was sea sick. In fact I think I spent most of the time sleeping or watching snippets of the Jackie Chan movie being played on the screens. Some say that this ferry journey is a highlight. Granted this time around it was actually sunny so the views were pretty good but being stuck on a floating boat with many people (some who actually get sea sick) just doesn’t quite cut it as a highlight for me. At best it’s a great time to catch up on sleep.

Once we arrived in Zanzibar I didn’t have to do the spice tour this time around so I had a chance to have time to myself. As I was with the tour leader and her family we decided to hit a really cute cafe tucked away behind a big building for some fresh seafood lunch and a chance to shop. Thanks to my shopping companions I now have more crap that I don’t need and a new outfit or two. Unnecessary but it was such a pleasure spending my time not really being a tourist and doing things that I would do back home. It was then sundowners and a delicious seafood dinner followed by cocktails. Zanzibar is awesome. I can see why people now told me that I simply had to go. Stone Town reminds me a lot of Lamu with the people, buildings and alleyways and general lifestyle. I don’t think I could spend much time there but it is nice to be somewhere that feels so familiar. I look forward to the days when I can explore it on my own, I have no doubt that there are little treasures tucked away round the back somewhere. I can not wait to go back already and I only left there a few days ago. Oh and the beach. Who could not love it there. On North Bound trips we have 3 days at the beach instead of 2 so more time to soak up the sun and spot some fish. I literally spent my days catching up with old friends (another tour leader I met a while ago and a randomer I met in Kenya), having a few cheeky bevvies, dancing my shoes bare at a reggae party and sleeping. It was heaven. Ad the fresh fish thrown in there too. Uh. Take me back. I could stay there for a while.

The return journey on the ferry was horrendous. I sat right at the front, stupidly, so ended up feeling a little green. Not green enough to bring out the sick bag but green enough for want it to be over. The two people sitting me either side did help with the distractions of games if scrabble and logos but at the time I knew getting off was going to be the only cure. I have to remember to get some anti nausea tablets or something because that was not enjoyable. And to think people call it a highlight. They have to be crazy.
When we got back to Dar I headed straight to the sea to wash off the grime of the day and settled down for the evening to some email checking and Facebook.
It’s times like these that I miss my family. I love Facebook but I hate it too. I just realised how much I miss out on when I am not there. To be fair my adventure is awesome and I can guarantee you are all missing out here too but nothing beats being at home with the family and doing fun things together. It was only bad this time around as everyone sounded like they had such fun at the rhino charge and I desperately wanted to go. I soon got over it because I too was heading home and then on to Uganda. I realised that moments of homesickness are allowed but only short moments.

As it was a very long drive the next day to Arusha I decided to call it quits and go to sleep. 4:30am is not my favourite time of the day but being awake for sunrise does make it all a little more worthwhile. As a group we a also getting really good at these long driving days. One of the girls comes up with quizzes and fun games to play. My musical knowledge is growing greater by the day and I am fast running out of good reading material. I guess that I should enjoy it while it lasts as when I am working I am us accounting and planning will be keeping me busy but there nothing worse than sitting in a truck for 8 hours going crazy and realising that you are only half way to the destination. Ma and BJ at the Meserani Snake Park are really a good cure for Arusha road rage and 16hour driving insanity. They always have a friendly face and a cold beer waiting for you. It’s always a pleasure seeing them and catching up. It’s like meeting your grand parents and them doing everything they can to cheer you up. I can see why everyone loves them so much, they make it so easy.

It was a quick dinner and an early bed, we were heading to the Serengetti and Ngorongoro crater the next day. I have always wanted to go there so I refused to be tired. This is the first real chance of wildlife spotting I have had since I left and I was not ready to miss out. I was lucky that the company let me go this time too. I love Arusha and a few days break and rest would have been awesome but game viewing and bush camping just seemed much more exciting. Who wouldn’t want to go?

Bed that night was awesome and the shower was the best shower I had had in a while. Even though it was cold it was still great to get the dust off and to refresh. Sleeping on a Safari is a big no no for me so getting a decent 6 hours was all that I needed. I woke up way beyond excited and ready to see some Elephants. It was that great that it gets its own blog post!

From The Bush To The Beach With A Beer

Apparently this title is very Australian.

Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar!!

I am writing this sitting on the ferry on route to Dar Es Salaam from Zanzibar. I was actually looking forward to this as the ferry is quite flash but now that I am sitting here, the excitement has dwindled somewhat. The ferry we were supposed to be on is the slightly more flash and modern version of the one we are on now. Hopefully this one will get us from Zanzibar to Dar but the members of the group seem skeptical. We have only just got on it so so far so good but the ride so far is as bumpy as a small boat on stormy waters. I would say I have some pretty good sea legs but the woman next to me not so much. I think this is her first time ever on this thing and I can already see signs that whatever she had for lunch with reappear shortly. Not looking forward to that in all honesty. Luckily she has been provided with a sick bag but something tells me that flimsy bit of plastic will not hold 2 and a half hours of puke. Oh yay. Aside from that I am in good spirits. I have after all just been in Zanzibar for three days. Usually three days isn’t enough but three days of sun, sea, sand and happy hour cocktails has been more than enough and I am now ready to leave Tanzania and head to Malawi.

Since Arusha little has happened really, the days have been filled with sun lounging and long drives. The drive from Arusha to Korongwe was the longest we have had so far, nothing too exciting to see or do on the way really. These long drives are definitely the downfall of overland travel. The scenery is great to see and village life on the side of the road is exciting for most but after about 9 long and slow hours every village is the same and the scenery changes only slightly thanks to the vegetation. It does become slightly amusing when the small children decide to flip us the bird or threaten to throw stones at us but that is it. Thankfully most of the destinations we head to make it all the worth while, I say most because others are not so worth it or we simply arrive too late and leave too early to decide whether it deserves a place on the places to see list. Korongwe for one is definitely no where to write home about. We didn’t stay long as we wanted to make it to Dar at a reasonable hour but after only a few awake hours both at night and during the day. I have decided that unless absolutely necessary it isn’t really worth it. It was a nice break from the drive though so perhaps I am being a little too harsh. The campsite was great and the facilities are basic but a good bonus so a good stop off point at best. Other than that, truly unexciting. Dar isn’t much better either to be fair. It’s not a place where I would spend too much time unless I had to. It’s a typical big city in Africa. Very little order and and a hell of a lot of chaos. Oh and the ferry… Eeks. Not something to do on a regular occasion. In fact only something to do if absolutely necessary, it does get you out of the traffic but carrying shopping and backpacks is just not a heap of fun.

Oh and out comes the sick bag, great. Lunch, breakfast and last nights dinner have all reappeared. Thank goodness my sea legs seem to be in good working order. Sick bag is not going to hold. Aaah. Not happy. Thankfully not long until we get to the mainland, I can see it now.

So, I arrived in Dar at Kipepeo beach. That was hectic. We ended up getting off the ferry and going shopping then getting on the local ferry and on various other modes of transport just to get here to rain. Nice. Anyway one last night of luxury on a Tanzanian beach (perks of being a tour leader is staying in the hotel rooms when they are available) then we hit the road again tomorrow.

I see I am jumping around a bit here but it’s hard to write a blog while being distracted. I’m going to jump back to my time in Zanzibar as I realise now I haven’t even touched on it. To put it simply, it was amazing. Oh the weather was rubbish but aside from that it was beach time and a few cocktails. The first night was spent in Stone Town. We arrived and headed straight for the spice tour and a look at the old slave market. It was very interesting to say the least. And very touristy. We came back covered in various ornaments made from palm leaves. It poured with rain most of the time but everyone seemed to have a good time. After that it was off to Africa House to watch a non existent sunset. Failing a good sunset we hit the fish market for some street food. Not to everyone’s liking but my ice cream was delicious! Obviously being Zanzibar a late night was in order so we headed off to the Maru Maru hotel for we more drinks. Staggering home we managed to get so lost that it took us a good half hour to get there but we made it in one piece and headaches were all round the next day. After breakkie we headed off to the East Coast to stay in Kwendra Rocks for a couple of days. The group decided that they needed to go on a booze cruise that evening. I think they were persuaded by the yatch out the front of the bar. I tried to tell them that that wasn’t the boat but they didn’t believe me. As you can imagine, when they were met with one of the local chapalanga jobs they were less than impressed. Lets just say a bottle of vodka and a few shots of konyagi later they were loving it. They jumped off the boat and enjoyed the sunset… I think. They were more interested in the booze than anything else to be fair. A few drunk people appeared off the boat later attempting to walk their way to the bar, failing that crawling. This obviously continued much later in to the night and a merry time was had by all. Oh and I was nicknamed Genuine Legend. Not a bad name to be honest. And one I plan to live up to.

The next day was so lazy, they all headed off for touristy things and I stayed behind. Soaking up the sun rays and walking a long the beach was definitely a good way to spend the day. I could get used to this. On North bound trips we spend 4 nights in Zanzibar. I am not going to lie, I am looking forward to that. Relaxing at the beach is going to be a much needed break from a few days on the truck. Then sadly it was time to head back to Dar to start our long journey to Malawi. The whole ferry saga later I find myself enjoying some quiet time. I think a nice early night is in order as we have an early start tomorrow. We won’t make it all the way to Malawi in a day but will camp just outside the Mikumi National Park. Hopefully a chance to see some wildlife tomorrow for a few brief moments but otherwise another full day of driving! We actually picked up some more people and left some people behind in Dar and Zanzibar so it’s nice to be meeting some new people. Hopefully we will have some more exciting times ahead because so far it has been amazing and full of laughter. I have been to so many new places and have seen some really great sights. I am Looking forward to having my very own truck soon and running my own tours. It’s great seeing how others do things but I can not wait to get going. We are coming in to busy season so hopefully it will be sooner rather than later. I don’t think I will be home for a while still but life on the road is pretty amazing. I am happy to be here. Next stop Malawi. Kande Beach had better not disappoint!

And so after the escapades of Dar and Zanzibar, it is time to hit the bar for one last beer. Cheers Tanzania. It has been amaze balls.