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Photo Of The Week: Vol 7

This weeks photo comes from our time in Kampot, Cambodia. I took this shot on our day trip through Bokor National Park. We spent the day exploring the park on our scooter before ending here at the old abandoned casino which was constructed in the 1920’s by colonial french settlers as a hotel and abandoned in the late 1940’s.

Construction has just stared in the past few months to turn this abandoned building into a museum so we were lucky to see it before building work took over.

If you want to see more photos like this keep an eye out for our next blog post.

Or you can check out my Instagram page below.

bokor

Shot with: Canon 5D MKIII

Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Camera Settings: F6.3 1/160s ISO 100

Instagram:Photography_REW

Siem Reap: Temple Temple Temple

For this post we decided to write it day by day as each day was filled with different things it made it flow easier.

Day 1

So after a surprisingly pleasant 7 hour bus journey we arrived in Siem Reap ‪around 5pm‬. We got a $2 tuktuk to our hostel which was about 5 minutes away. We chose to stay at the Siem Reap Hostel as opposed to a Mad Monkey Hostel (party central), we figured we’d stay somewhere with a little less party atmosphere because we wanted to do the early morning trips to the temples. The hostel was pretty cool it had a cinema room that showed 3 films a day, yoga classes, a pool and it did great cheap food and $0.50 beers. 

We dumped our stuff in our 10 bed dorm that smelt like a boys sleepover (a smell that kenny seemed to recognise all too well) and headed for some food.  

One great thing about the hostel was that you could organise all your trips to the temples directly through them. You just book a tuktuk with them and choose your route for the day the night before and in the morning your driver will be waiting for you. 

We opted to do the Big Circle for our first day with a late start of ‪11am‬. So after dinner and a few beers we headed of to bed ready for our long day of temples the following day.

Day 2

The big circle covered some of the smaller and less touristy temples around Angkor which was a nice introduction to the temples in Siem Reap. We headed out on our tuktuk with our guide Mr Hongda and 2 other people from the hostel and went to buy our temple passes. There’s 3 different types of temple passes, 1 day, 3 day and 7 days. The prices went up in November and at the moment it’s $37 for a day pass and $62 for a 3 day pass (can’t remember how much the 7 day pass was) we went for the 3 day pass so we could spread the temples out over three days rather than trying to cram them all in, in one day. It sounds like a lot of money but it covers all the temples you could want to go to in and around Angkor and works out at about $20 a day. The tuktuk for the big circle cost $15 and that is split between however many there are in the tuktuk so for almost 8 hours of touring the tuktuk cost $3.75 each. We did 6 temples on the big circle tour starting with two small ones and heading to slightly larger and older ones as the day went on. It’s crazy to think that some of the temples were built over 1000 years ago and they have such intricate designs and carvings never mind the sheer size of them. Some haven’t weathered as well as others and have become overrun with trees and nature which makes for a very interesting walk through them. You can see where some have been propped up with wooden beams in an effort to stop any more collapsing. Many of the temples that have steep stairs have new wooden stairs built over the original ones not only for safety but also to preserve the building.  

We started the tour around 11 which was great in terms of a lay in but it was boiling as we were walking round, not helped by the fact that you are asked to wear long pants and cover your shoulders. We were literally dripping in sweat by the end of the first temple and we were pretty thankful to get back in the tuktuk at the end of each temple and enjoy the breeze as we travelled to the next. Our last stop was a temple on top of a mountain where we could watch the sunset. We got dropped of at the bottom and started the long walk to the top. We were a little bit later than we had expected and by the time. We got to the top we couldn’t get in to the temple because it was full, we headed back down a little and found a platform where we could sit and watch the sunset. But with over an hour left to go until it set we were all feeling pretty worn out from a whole day in the sun. We hung around for as long as we could until the crowds of Chinese tourists taking pictures and standing on our toes got too much and we headed back down the hill to the tuktuk. We were back at the hostel for around 7 and starving after a long days sightseeing so headed straight for dinner. We decided that the following day we would do a shorter tour covering some of the older temples that are a little further out but it would only be a 2-3 hour trip in the morning leaving us the rest of the day to chill and sort our plans for Vietnam and Thailand, so we booked our tuktuk for the morning and headed for bed.

Day 3

Up early for breakfast before we headed out on our trip at 9. The Rolous group of temple are some of the earliest built temples starting from the 9th century. We visited 3 temples on our short trip Bakong, Lolei and Preah Ko. Our first stop was Bakong temple, a giant pyramid temple built in 881ad, making it well over 1000 years old. It’s age it certainly starting to show with conservation work taking place in various parts of the temple in an effort to stop any further collapses. Our second stop was Lolei temple built in 893ad it was in slightly better condition than the first we walked around and climbed to the top and we’re greeted by a very cheeky little monkey who quickly gathered a crowd as he climbed onto people’s shoulders and heads. Our last temple of the tour was Preah Ko, built in 873ad making it the oldest of the group. this one was in considerably worse condition that the temples we had seen the previous day. One of the temples had completely crumbled and a number of the others were covered in scaffolding presumably to stop this happening again. It’s still amazing to think that they have withstood 1100 years of weather, war and now the constant stream of tourists that walk on them every day. With our tour finished we headed back to the hostel to get on with some planning for Vietnam. Kenny managed to find a gym close by he hostel so while he headed there I got to planning. We’d both been talking about how much we had been craving western food the past few days so for dinner we headed to the Hard Rock Cafe in Siem Reap probably the most expensive meal we’ve had in all of south east Asia but definitely good to get some decent western food!

Day 4

Our last full day in Siem Reap and of course we couldn’t leave without doing a sunrise tour of Angkor Wat. Our tuktuk driver picked us up ‪at 430am‬ and we headed for the temple we managed to get a pretty good spot as we sat and waited for the sunrise, with about 400 other people, it was definatley the most touristy experience we’ve had so far on our whole trip. It was definatley worth doing but unfortunately for us the sunrise wasn’t great in comparison to they previous days but no matter it was something ticked of our list. We headed in to the huge temple to do a bit of exploring before it got too busy. It was nice and is obviously an amazing piece of architecture but we both preferred the smaller less touristy temples in comparison. After Angkor Wat we headed for Angkor Thom and explored Bayon temple which was amazing. It was so intricately designed and huge! The stairs to the top were questionable and even more so on the way down but hey ho all part of the experience. The next temple was Banteay Kdei another temple complex that had become overrun with nature and had become more of a ruin. Next was Phimeanaka which was completely deserted when we got there which was nice, it’s not a temple that you can climb up as its surrounded by a moat and the entrance is blocked but it’s set in beautiful grounds that we’re really nice to walk through especially with some rare peace and quiet. Our last temple of the day was Ta Phrom, the Tomb Raider Temple, I think by this point we were both pretty templed out and we didn’t spend very long here. Again this one was considerably busier than the previous ones we had visited but it was good to see. 

We were back at the hostel for around 1 and we’re pretty desperate for a nap after our very early morning. We booked the bus for the following day to Sihanoukville which left ‪at 7am‬ so another early morning for us so a very early night to try and feel a bit more human after a busy few days. 

Photo Of The Week: Vol 6

This weeks photo comes from our time in Koh Rong Samloem, a tiny island of the southern coast of Cambodia. We’ve spent the past 5 days there doing nothing but relaxing, drinking, eating and sleeping. It’s paradise!. This shot was taken from the bar of our hostel (mad monkey) out across the sea.

The sea here is crystal clear and so blue it’s almost unreal.

If you want to see more photos like this keep an eye out for our next blog post.

Or you can check out my Instagram page below.

beach1

Shot with: Canon 5D MKIII

Lens: EF 20-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Camera Settings: f 7.1    1/160s    ISO 100

Instagram: Photography_REW

Photo Of The Week: Vol 5

This weeks photo comes from our time in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Taken during our visit to one of many temples in Siem Reap, Ta Som Temple.  Ta Som is a small temple at Angkor, built at the end if the 12th century making it almost 900 years old. The temple has has been left largely unrestored, with numerous trees growing among the ruins. I was busy photographing the overgrown doorway just as a monk walked through the arch and made this great picture.

If you want to see more photos like this keep an eye out for our next blog post.

Or you can check out my Instagram page below.

monk1

Shot with: Canon 5D MKIII

Lens: EF 20-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Camera Settings: F2.8  1/250s  ISO 100

Instagram: Photography_rew

Koh Samui: An Unexpected Stop

After possibly the shortest ever trip to India we were both left feeling deflated and to be honest beaten. We were disappointed that we had given up, however, we knew that we had made the right decision and agreed that India just wasn’t for us. 

Although the flight from Delhi to Bangkok wasn’t very long we were faced with a twelve hour layover in Bangkok international airport. Luckily our luggage was going all the way through from Delhi to Koh Samui so we didn’t have that to worry about, we just had to sort our visas and go through customs as Bangkok was our first port of entry. The process was actually very quick and simple unlike the visa process for India where we waited for hours. Once we had our visas and through customs our wait began. We quickly found a restaurant and experienced our first taste of real Thai food, which we both loved. But unfortunately that had only taken up 40 minutes so with eleven hours still left to go we set up camp on some chairs near a power supply, created numerous different free wifi accounts and logged on to Netflix. Surprisingly the time whizzed by and before we knew it it was 4am and we were able to check into our flight and go through security and head to our gate to board the 45 minute flight to Koh Samui. 

Finally we landed on the island of Koh Samui. We hailed a taxi and set of down the coastal road to our resort. Koh Samui is mainly made up of upper end resorts as opposed to hostels and guesthouses. Although Koh Samui is a backpacking destination its more set up towards holiday makers. As we passed big fancy resorts I think we both began to get excited for a bit of rest and relaxation. Eventually we arrived at Manathai Resort and Spa. We weren’t able to check in as it was still only 9am so we were directed towards the pool to relax under the already boiling sun. We both immediately fell asleep, luckily as the sun moved we were under the shade of the trees because of course neither of us had sun cream on. After a short power nap we were able to check in and headed to our room for a proper sleep, we both slept through to the next day about 16 hours in total, i think it’s safe to say that after two days of nearly no sleep we were in desperate need of a good sleep! 

For the next couple of days we just relaxed by the beach spending our time drinking cocktails and reading. The most active thing we did was walking a few hundred metres to find a local restaurant. One thing we immediately noticed about Koh Samui was that every man and there dog (literally) had a scooter. Also, taxis were actually really expensive even after bartering. So we made the decision to rent a scooter so we could adventure at our own pace and not be restricted by taxis or anything else. As with a lot of the Southeast Asia countries the roads on the island were a little more hectic than back home so we took it slow and ventured further each day. 

As we were on the island for two weeks we were able to take things slower than most people. We spent the days relaxing by the pool, walking along the beach and just checking out the local areas of Lamai Beach and Chaweng Beach. We ventured out in the evenings to visit the famous night markets and like most bought the classic baggy trousers and and cheap jewellery. A few times I nearly got suckered into buying a pair of trainers but fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it my feet were too fat (wide) for them. We spent each evening trying out different local restaurants offering amazing Thai food and good beer. Most evening we were tucked up in bed relatively early because you know doing nothing gets tiring! 

Before we knew it it was our last day and it was time to part ways with our scooter aka Scoot Scoot before attempting the mammoth task of cleaning and packing the mess of clothes back into our bags. Packing complete after as much procrastination as possible it was midnight and we had to be up at 3am to get to the airport for our 6am flight to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. 

I think although we both had an absolutely amazing time relaxing and soaking up the sun in Koh Samui we were both ready when the time came for us to move on. We both left excited for what was ahead and with India firmly in the past. 

Two very short 45 minute flights later and we landed in Cambodia for the next leg of our adventure. 

India: In 36 Hours

Sorry this one took a while, we weren’t really sure how to go about writing this one. Both Kenny and I hate admitting defeat and feeling like we’ve failed so it was pretty hard to write this post in fact I’ve been putting it off for 2 weeks.

We left South Africa late on Thursday the 9th and started our long journey to New Delhi that took us via Dubai. About 17 hours later we arrived in Delhi eager for the next part of our adventure. We headed for passport control where we stood for well over an hour because everyone working had decided to go on a lunch break. It took forever! When we eventually got through we grabbed our bags and headed outside to find the shuttle we had pre booked that would take us to our hostel. I had pre booked a shuttle online as we’d read so many bad things about getting scammed by taxi drivers and tuktuk drivers where they would announce halfway through your journey that your hostel was closed, or full and they had cancelled your reservation and insist to take you somewhere else. So as we headed out of customs I kept my eye out for our driver, and he was nowhere to be found. We waited around 30 minutes and still no sign of him. So we accepted that he probably just wasn’t going to show. We headed over to Vodafone to get two SIM cards and at the same time booked a taxi from a desk inside the airport which cost 1800 rupees (over 4 times the cost of an uber but we had no working internet to book one). We headed outside with our taxi driver and we’re suddenly met by hundreds of staring eyes, we had read so many blogs and watched so many travel videos before we came to try and prepare ourselves for India because we knew it would be a huge culture shock but I don’t know that anything can really prepare you for the chaos that meets you when you walk out. We quickly followed the taxi driver and piled into the car. Even after booking through an agent in the airport I was worried he was just going to take us somewhere we didn’t want to go.

The drive from the airport to the hostel was an experience to say the least. The roads in New Delhi are insane! It seems like there are no rules to where you can drive, no one sticks to their lane, tuk tuks weave in and out of traffic constantly, and there is a constant sound of horns in the air. As we drove deeper into the city the sides of the road were littered with piles of trash, stray dogs, cows and more homeless people than I’ve ever seen in my whole life. After the 30 minute rollercoaster ride and only a few near misses we arrived at our hostel. We had booked to stay at Zostel which is the first chain of hostels in India and we had planned to stay at a number of them on our trip. We had booked to stay in a private room for our first few days in Delhi as we knew we’d be pretty tired after our long trip from South Africa. The hostel was great, it had a cool hippy vibe and the rooms were clean and had great aircon. By the time we had got to the room and showered we were too tired to do any adventuring so we headed up to the rooftop for dinner, dinner cost us 400 rupees for both of us which is around £5, it was really good home cooked Indian food and plenty of it (even if it was a bit spicy for me) we headed to bed for an early night and planned to get up early and go exploring the following day.

The next day the getting up early idea went out the window as we didn’t get up until around 11, we figured we’d head towards Connaught place which is pretty much the central plaza in Delhi, it has tons of shops and restaurants and we thought it would be a good place to start. We had planned to walk there but as we left the hotel we were stopped by a man who said it wasn’t safe to walk there as there were many beggars and pickpockets on the way there, he told us we should go to the government tourism office and they would be able to give us lots of information about the city as well as give us maps etc, he seemed nice enough and pretty genuine, especially when he hailed us a tuktuk which should have cost 200 rupees and got price down to 20 rupees. (Foreigners are often charged a huge amount more for everything in India). Off we went on our first tuktuk ride which again was an experience and I have to be honest the whole time I thought he was just going to drop us somewhere random and demand money. But he took us to the ‘government tourism office’ and dropped us there. There was no way this place had ever been a government tourism office (we later found out it was a scam and the tuktuk drivers get commission from anything you buy in there like trips and things) but we went in anyway because we had no idea where we were. We sat down and a guy started asking our plans for India, because we already had all our trains booked he couldn’t really offer us anything but he did say that he thought we should change some of our plans and he could help us do that. We said no and asked if they had a map of the city and then left, still not totally sure of where we were going and following the directions of the guy in the office we tried to make our way to Connaught place. The office was on a little back street so we nervously headed to the main road where we would better be able to navigate our way to the centre. We soon came to the main road and quickly found that we were just around the corner from where we wanted to be, however we had to cross the road. It took us a solid 5 minutes of staring at the chaotic road thinking there’s no way it’s possible to cross this before we realised there was a subway that you could walk through to get to the other side. We came out of the subway and we’re greeted by a starbucks! Needing to collect our thoughts and figuring out what we were doing we headed for something familiar to escape the overwhelming sensation of being surrounding by literally millions of people on the street (there are approximately 25 million people living in Delhi which is just less than half the population of the uk, it is the 3rd most populated urban place in the world). It must be something all tourists do because as we walked in there were 3 Americans doing the same thing, (it’s worth mentioning that these were the first white people we had seen since we’d got of the plane) we grabbed a coffee and sat down, not long after a couple of young Indian guys, probably the same age as us, sat at the table next to us and struck up a conversation. (I feel like in India being white is an instant conversation starter no matter where you are and it’s a bit exhausting really answering the same questions every 2 minutes) these guys were nice though, they seemed pretty genuine and asked us about our trip and gave us some tips about getting out of the touristy places and heading to villages to experience the rich culture that India has to offer, they also told us that the trains are good for trips when you have a long time to spend in India but for a short trip like ours they can be unreliable and can be easily delayed which didn’t really ease our nerves about our first train the following day. Feeling slightly less overwhelmed and having checked the map we headed back out into the streets. Our plan was to head for a restaurant I had found online that had great reviews but first we had to navigate the circular plaza and find the right street. Soon we were surrounded by people again and being stared at from every angle which is understandable when your the only white person in a crowd of hundreds of Indians. We were constantly being called to come in to restaurants and shops and one man tried to take us to the ‘transport office,’ it was just getting more and more overwhelming and then after about 5 minutes of walking Kenny said that there was someone following us so we crossed the road and headed on to a different street. So did he. This carried on for a good 15/20 minutes, every time we stopped so did he but he never approached us to ask what we wanted or to offer us something. We stopped quickly behind a pillar and he obviously didn’t notice until he was right beside us and then gestured to the restaurant next to us and asked us if we wanted to go in, we said no thanks and headed of. This time without him thankfully. We kept ducking in to shops to escape the constant barrage of attention and before long found the restaurant. We sat down thankful to be in the peace and ordered our food. We sat pretty much in silence and I think Kenny knew there was something wrong, I felt so overwhelmed I just wanted to cry there’s no other way to explain it. I just wanted to get back to the hotel and hide in the room. With Kenny feeling the same we cancelled our food and headed outside to find a tuktuk that would take us back to the hostel, another challenge because no one could understand the road name we were saying, eventually after some help from good old google maps we were on our way, still feeling on edge the whole way we were grateful to get back to the hotel with no hiccups. We headed across to the shop over the road and bought comfort food in an effort to make us feel better.

We sat in the room almost stunned into silence I suppose, I’ve never been somewhere before that I felt so out of my depth, unsafe and overwhelmed. I was gutted because I had been convinced I would love India and I was so excited so see everything we had planned but it just wasn’t going to way we had wanted. We both agreed that travelling should be enjoyable and we just couldn’t imagine enjoying ourselves here. No matter the amazing things we would see we just weren’t sure that they would make up for the way we were feeling all the time and the thought of having to get on a train the following day was terrifying. So we made a decision to leave and head for somewhere else.

I know it might sound like we were making a rash decision which I think is probably what our parents thought when we called them and told them. But we just didn’t think it was worth staying and spending money somewhere we weren’t happy when we’d worked so hard to come Travelling. We headed for dinner around 9ish after talking to both our parents and decided we would leave the following day. We headed upstairs for dinner which was again delicious and got chatting to a group of people mainly from England but also a guy from Detroit who it turns out lives close to the place we work during summer so we had loads to talk about. It was good to be able to sit and have a conversation with like minded people who seemed to be having the same overwhelming experience that we were. One woman said that whilst she had been on the metro She had been groped by an Indian man, and taken to some random mans house when she got on a tuktuk. The couple said that they had also been taken to the ‘tourism office’ and then followed by a tuktuk  driver who wouldn’t leave them alone. It did make me feel a little bit better to hear that we were all in the same boat and feeling the same. However all of the group were only going to be in India for a matter of days not weeks like we had planned. We ended up chatting until 11pm before we headed back to the room to look for flights and destinations. We did think twice after speaking to other people but then we thought about tommorow when we would be on our own going through the same thing and decided to go ahead with leaving. We quickly started going through destinations that were close to southeast aisa as our next stop after India was Cambodia. We couldn’t go to Cambodia or Vietnam because this would ruin our plans for the rest of our trip because of the visa restrictions, we thought about Bali and we’re pretty much sold until we checked the weather… tropical storm. We even thought about Australia but because we have a working visa for later in the year and going in on a tourist visa would void that working visa so that was a no. We eventually checked the visa requirements for Thailand and found we could enter more than once for a 30 day period so Thailand it was! We then spent the next few hours trying to figure out which part would be cheapest to fly to and stay in. We settled on Koh Samui and booked a hotel for the whole 2 weeks and decided we would just relax as we would be going back to Thailand later in our trip. Eventually around 4am we had our hotel sorted, bags packed and flights booked for 2pm that day. We grabbed a few hours sleep before we had to check out at 10 and grabbed a taxi to the airport where we again stood in lines for hours to check in and get through security. We arrived over 3 hours before our flight and by the time we were through security it was already boarding. We grabbed a McDonald’s on the way past as we were starving and ran for the gate. Safely in our seats we were both pretty happy to be getting out of there after a very long few days.

I’m not trying to put anyone off going to India because I’m sure some parts are amazing it just wasn’t for us at all. It sucks because we both feel like we’ve failed and we hate quitting but there’s no point continuing to do something that makes you unhappy. I think that if we had gone with an organised tour or group like an sta or intrepid trip we might have felt differently but it’s definitely something we couldn’t do on our own.

Anyways on to the next part of our trip, an unexpected trip to Koh Samui.

R x

Coffee Bay: Our South Africa Round up

After what felt like forever we arrived in Coffee Bay at our backpackers, Coffee Shack. We jumped off the bus and headed into reception to check in but instead we were taken straight to the bar for our complimentary drink. We must have looked like kids at Christmas, a free drink! Bare in mind we paid about £8 a night for this place so a free drink was great. After the drink we were told we had to be driven to our rooms as it was over a stream and it’s easy to drive the bags there than carry them. We were shown to our hut and reminded dinner was served at seven o’clock. After freshening up we decided to head back to the main area and check it all out. It was a short walk from the hut down the this so called ‘stream’. Basically it was where the water from the hills met the sea but at this time the tide was in and there was no bridge. Luckily for me I had shorts on but rosie with trousers on had to roll them up as much as she could. We started wading through the water and it got deeper and deeper and was quickly past my knees, I turned round to see Rosie’s trousers drenched she was not a happy bunny but we continued and made it through and headed to the bar. We chilled for the rest of the night and ate good food before tackling the ‘stream’ again. Luckily by the time we headed back the water had receded a bit so you could see some rocks that formed somewhat of a path across the water so this time we both managed to stay dry. After a long day travelling we headed to bed for an early night as we were planning to get up and go hiking the following morning.

Up bright and early we headed across the stream which was still very small and made it across without any casualties. We had a full english breakfast in the bar which was amazing! We were supposed to be heading out on a hike to do some cliff jumping at 10.30 but the weather was having other ideas, the sky was seriously cloudy and it was starting to rain, we checked the forecast and it was meant to storm all day so we cancelled our hiking plans.. neither of us felt like getting struck by lightning in the sea.  So we decided to spend the morning booking some of our plans in Cambodia. After some yummy lunch we headed back to the hut and Kenny believe it or not went for a run in the rain (I opted out). After he’d recovered we went for a walk to the beach but weren’t totally sure how to get there so after a short walk we figured we’d head back to the bar and chill for the rest of the afternoon before dinner. It’s worth mentioning that dinner here was AMAZING! They served the best home cooked meals (2 courses for R70 which is basically £4) from soup, stew, spaghetti, steak and stir fry.

The following day we signed up to do the hole in the wall hike which is a hike from the hostel to the hole in the wall which is approx 10k from the hostel (by road) and then you get a lift back to the hostel. You follow the cliffs all the way round to the hole in the wall which is a rock formation in the sea which has a hole in the centre that the waves come through.

So we were up bright and early determined to go rain or shine. We headed for breakfast armed with our raincoats, water, walking boots and of course our cameras. We were leaving at 10.30 so we made it to the bar with plenty of time for breakfast before we left. Whilst we were eating the guide came to tell us that we would be driving there and walking back as the rain had made the roads quite muddy overnight and it was due to rain more through the day and there was a chance the truck might not make it through the mud if it rained all morning. So we finished breakfast and headed out to the truck with another 12 people who would also be joining us on the hike. The truck took us through the stunning countryside and we drove past countless  Xhosa villages, hundreds of cows, goats, sheep, dogs and donkeys before reaching our drop of point, a short walk from the hole in the wall.  We all bundled out of the truck and began our walk up the muddy road to catch our first glimpse of it. We reached the top of the hill and the view spanned out over the ocean and to the hole in the wall, even though the weather wasn’t great and the sky was pretty grey it was still a fantastic view and the perfect opportunity for a photo. We headed down the hill for a closer look and several of our fellow hikers went for a swim in the cold water although no one managed to get as far as the hole. We milled around for about half an hour with everyone getting their fill of photos before out guide announced we were starting the hike back to the hostel. With everything packed up off we went, as we started we quickly realised just how humid it was and before long everyone was pouring with sweat. After maybe 45 minutes of hiking we were drenched in sweat and quite frankly praying for rain, we had just come to the top of a cliff top close to a village when we were joined by a little dog who soon decided he would keep us company for the rest of the hike after i couldn’t help giving him a cuddle. As we continued on our hike it seemed like the up and down terrain was getting more and more extreme and it was becoming a real challenge to get to the top of some of these hills. We crossed streams, waterfalls, beaches and Kenny only fell down a hill once.  After a couple of hours we stopped on top of one of the cliffs and waited for everyone to catch up, it gave us all a chance to catch our breath while we admired the view an wondered how far we had left to go. When everyone caught up we asked the guide how much further we had left and he pointed out to the third cliff away from where we were standing and said “see that cliff with the house, the next cliff,”. I was pretty disheartened, that cliff seemed miles away and it already felt like we had been walking forever i thought we’d be much closer than that but we ploughed on anyway still accompanied by our new 4 legged friend.  Soon after we set off the rain started to come down but at this point no one was bothered about putting on a raincoat we were all glad of the cooling rain for a while. After another hour scaling the cliffs we reached a road which singled the end our our trip, it was all downhill to the backpackers from this point and only about 5 minutes away! We arrived back and were greeted with cheese and tomato toasties, not sure we’d ever been so hungry before! I checked my fitbit and we had actually covered almost 14k over the hike much longer than the 9 I originally thought it was. We got back around 2pm and after having lunch we headed back for a quick shower before heading to the beach where Kenny went for a swim. We headed back to pack up our bags  before our long journey to Durban the following day before heading over for dinner in the bar. Little did I know that we would also be spending the night watching two rugby matches, first Scotland vs Ireland and then England vs France, as the hostel had a tv in the bar they used for sporting events. After watching both matches we headed to bed ready for an early start before our long journey.

Over the next few days we spent a lot of time on the Baz Bus. From Coffee Bay we headed further up the coast to Durban, we had to stay over night in Durban as it was the final destination that for that leg of the trip with the next bus leaving the following day bound for Johannesburg. So whilst in Durban we just chilled out and went to Nando’s. Yes Nando’s. we just wandered around a huge shopping mall and did nothing it was great. Then the following day we had our mammoth trip to our final stop in South Africa, Johannesburg. The bus said they would pick us up around 6:30 am so we were up and out of the hostel early waiting for the bus. 6:45 rolled around no bus, 7 no bus, 8 no bus, finally at 8:30 the bus arrived and we started our 10 hour Journey. After stopping a couple of times along the way we finally arrived around 18:30 ish. We had booked a hotel rather than a hostel so we could get some good sleep before our flight to india the next day. We ordered room service and fell straight to sleep. Our final day in South Africa we headed to the cinema to watch Lion a true story about a lost child in India (great film, however not a recommended watch the day you fly to India). After the film we packed up and headed to the airport where we waited anxiously to board our flight.

After almost 6 weeks in South Africa we were definitely sad to say goodbye, we’ve had such an amazing time and have loved everywhere we have stayed (apart from PE when we got robbed) we’ve done some incredible things whilst we’ve been here and met some great people. If anyones every stuck for travel or holiday destinations South Africa is the One! The nicest and most welcoming people combined with the most beautiful country makes for the most wonderful trip! We will certainly be back, but for now we’ll say bye as we head of to india and prepare ourselves for the chaos that we no doubt we’ll find there.

K & R x

 

Photo Of The Week: Vol 4

This weeks photo comes from our time in Coffee Bay. Taken during our 13km hike to Hole In The Wall. After 3 days of bad weather we were nervous about the hike but the sun seemed to come out at just the right point for this photo.

If you want to see more photos like this keep an eye out for our next blog post.

Or you can check out my Instagram page below.

hole-in-the-hall

Shot with: Canon 5D MKIII

Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Camera Settings: f7.1  1/160s  ISO 100

Instagram: Photography_REW

06/02/17

Hogsback: Waterfalls, Bathtubs and Lord Of The Rings 

With our amazing stay in Chintsa over it was time to board our shuttle to Hogsback. When I say shuttle I mean a car and this car was full to the max. It had space for up to eight people, two inh the front, three in the middle and three in the back. Every seat was taken and with the back seats being used it didn’t leave much of a boot for eight large back packs. We managed to squeeze five in the small boot space and three on the roof rack then finally we were off. As you can imagine this car was hot, it was about 27 degrees outside and of course there was no A/C so we were sweating. We had a two and a half hour journey up the mountain to Hogsback with one stop at a supermarket for supplies. When we finally stoped at the supermarket we all kind of just fell out the car rushing for the drinks section of the shop. Our driver said we had fifteen minutes so we all used every second of those fifteen to walk around and buy snacks and drinks ready for the remainder of our drive. Luckily once back on the road I fell asleep and before I knew it we were pulling down the driveway of the backpackers (Away With The Fairies) towards buildings that look like something from lord of the rings. The Amatola Forest in the Hogsback area is often claimed as J. R. R. Tolkien’s (who was born in South Africa) inspiration for The Lord of the Rings, in particular for his fictional forest of Mirkwood.

Once out of the car and in reception we were quickly given a grand tour, dumped our bags on our beds and headed straight to the bar. The bar area was relatively small but there was a great atmosphere, the bar manager Garth was an awesome guy. He was super talkative and got everyone chatting away about different random things, travel mostly. He was originally from South Africa but had worked in England for a few years so us being the only English people we had a lot to talk about. He said he had visited the Peak District a number of times and loved it so that had Rosie talking and he also lived and worked in Newquay for a couple of years so naturally we spoke about Cornwall for a while. The bar served draught beers from a local Hogsback brewery so I had to try them of course. A few beers down we both decided we were hungry and headed out to dinner at a restaurant Garth had recommended. Around a fifteen minute walk and we reached The Lighthouse Pub and Restaurant it didn’t disappoint. We went all out, starters and everything, the food was amazing when we left we kind of waddled out full to the brim. we definitely needed the fifteen minute walk back to let the food go down. We headed back to the bar for a few more drinks before hitting the hay relatively early ready for a big hike the next day. We agreed we would wake up early to get this hike started before it got really hot. So up at eight and straight to the bar area for breakfast. The night before I had already eyed up the breakfast menu behind the bar and knew exactly what I wanted, ‘The Fairy Fry Up’, so there was only Rosie to decide and she ended up going for the same thing. When it arrives there was a huge smile on my face as I looked at a plate full of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes and toast, sorted! While that all washed down with a cup of tea we bought two bottles of water and acquired a map and headed off down the forest path to the start of the hike. The hike was to be around four hours long depending on how fast you walk. The majority was through dense over grown forest and a mass of spider webs towards the main attraction (Madonna and Child) a big waterfall. Although we finally set off around 9:30 once on the forest floor at the bottom of the valley it was disgustingly humid. You only had to take one step and sweat would begin to pour off you. Around the two hour forty five mark we reached the waterfall surprisingly Rosie’s boots were straight off and she was paddling in the water pool just below the cliff. We chilled in the shade for almost half an hour before making our way up a steep incline make to the top of the valley and the long road walk back to the backpackers. Once on the road and out of the shade of the trees we realised how hot it actually was. There was zero shade on the road so we had to take repeated water breaks to try and stay hydrated. We realised that the road eventually brought us out just a bit further on from the restaurant we had been to the night before. Luckily for us closer to a small shop where we bought drinks, chocolate, pies and of course an ice cream to cool us down as we made our final walk back to the backpackers. Once back I had to get straight in a cold shower and change I was so hot Rosie did the same and then we headed to the bar.
One very unique thing about the place we stayed was that they had a fully working bath tub on the side of the cliff in a secluded area over looking the valley below. You could book hour long time slots in the bar. I had booked us in for five o’clock so we had a couple drinks and head down for our bath. Unfortunately it had before grey and cloudy and once on the cliffs edge there was a chilly wind but we gave it a good go anyway. You had to create a fire to heat the water which we managed to do and before we knew it the bath was full, bubbles and everything. We took it in turns as the bath wasn’t big enough for the both of us but the cold got the better of us so we took a few cool pictures (check my Instagram for the best one) and decided we were done, dried off and head inside for some food. We just grabbed a pizza from the bar as we had heard everyone talking about them of the night before. I thought the breakfast was good but this pizza was great. Once that was devoured we spent the remainder of the evening with drinks at the bar chatting the night away.

The following day we had a lay in until around ten ish. There wasn’t the same bright sun shining through as the day before and we soon realised that was because there was think fog everywhere. All the windows were open so a lot of our clothes felt damp. It was one of the days where you just wanted to wrap up and lay on the sofa, so that’s exactly what we did. We spent almost all of the day relaxing in the common room watching films and planning future travel like Cambodia and booking flights to America. We grabbed pizza from the bar again in the evening and just chilled all day.

Before we knew it it was our last day in Hogsback. The shuttle was due to leave at 8:30 so we had to get up early if we wanted breakfast. Up, showered and checked out by 7:30 that’s a good effort for us. Straight to the bar for food. We ordered the same as the past two days and kept our fingers crossed it came in time as the chef didn’t start work until eight. Luckily it did we ate and waited outside for the shuttle. We couldn’t believe it when the five people we had been in the shuttle with previous were waiting for it with us. We all immediately knew it was going to be the same sticky journey as before. We had a warm two and a half hour journey back to Cintsa to board the Bas Buz for our three hour journey to Mthatha. Then once in Mthatha we had around a twenty minute wait before our final one hour and half shuttle journey to Coffee Bay for our next few days of excitement.

Chintsa: Burnt To A Crisp

So after our unfortunate time in Port Elizabeth I was thrilled to be heading somewhere familiar to visit old friends and to show Kenny the place i’d spent so much time in over the past few years (for those who don’t know I volunteered at a horse rehab and rescue farm here several times over the past 5 years). We boarded the baz bus at 6.30am outside our hostel and quite frankly I couldn’t wait to see the back of it. Our bus driver Jay was great, he explained that we would stop along the way for breakfast and would arrive in Cintsa by about 12.30 in the afternoon. Luckily the bus was pretty empty so we were able to stretch out and grab some well needed sleep (as neither of us had slept much the night before thanks to the bedbugs and stolen cash). Before long we arrived at our breakfast stop and after grabbing a sandwich and some snacks we headed on towards East London and Cintsa. We dropped one guy off in East London and from there everything started to become familiar, the shops, the roads, the houses and before long we were turning on to the Chintsa West road that led to the backpackers. With a flying glimpse at some of the horses as we drove past towards the backpackers all the worries of the last few days seemed to disappear. After a long and bumpy ride down the drive we arrived at Buccaneers backpackers where we would be spending the next few nights.

I had originally wanted to surprise George and Penny (the people that run the rehab and rescue farm) when we got there but after our disastrous last few days I was just eager to see them and all their wonderful animals, so I sent a picture to Penny of the view from our room and said ‘guess where we are,’ she quickly replied with ‘when are you coming over,’ and soon after she was on her way to pick us up for the afternoon.  Before long I could hear the squeak of breaks I instantly recognised as the Toyota, so we headed out to meet her and after the hugs and introductions we were off to the farm (about 10mins away) to see George and everyone else. We were greeted with the same enormous hug from George and after the introductions for Kenny we immediately put the kettle on and had a cuppa to catch up on what had been happening over the last year. We spoke about the new horses they had acquired the old ones that they had lost and everything in between (there’s always lots to catch up on). We then headed out to meet some of the new arrivals and one of the youngest new arrivals bibi who is only a few months old and born on the farm.

It’s always amazing to come back and see how much the younger horses grow up from when you first meet them, for example the first time I visited Harvey and Themba (my favourites) were 3 & 2 and now they are 8 & 7 you can imagine in that time they’ve gone from little things to enormous animals but still have the same wonderful characters. (Even if they are a bit cheeky). With Kenny’s introduction to the horses, pigs, dogs, rats and mice over it was feed time (for the horses not us).

So we headed out to feed all the horses across the farm while Christine and Ninka (two volunteers who were also staying at the farm) headed out to get fish and chips for tea. Before long they were back and we were all enjoying the most amazing fish and chips outside on the veranda. Once we’d all finished Penny, Christine and Ninka drove us back to the backpackers and came in for a drink or two at the bar. As per usual the bar was full of characters, one in particular … Mfuta, a South African guy who lives in England and runs a strawberry farm, in all the days we were there no one made me laugh more than he did! After a couple of ciders Penny and the girls headed home and after a few (too many) more Kenny and I headed for bed slightly worse for wear. 

The next morning I was up bright and early ready for a trail ride with Penny and some other clients. While Kenny had a lie in and a chill. (If you ever happen to be around the area do the trail ride! It’s the most amazing ride along the beach and up through the bush on fantastic horses!) Horses caught, groomed and tacked up the clients were introduced to their horses and we were off. I was spending the morning on Themba, a horse who I had helped to train a few years previously and my absolute favourite. We headed off down the road and on to the beach and the weather was glorious, sunny but a little bit of wind, by the time we were back I was starting to think I might be a little burnt despite covering myself in sun cream before heading out. We untacked the horses and fed them lunch while we waited for Kenny to make it up the road to meet us before heading back to the farm for a quick lunch before the farrier arrived. 

By the time we headed back out after lunch it was quite clear I really had burnt, my legs, arms and very much my shoulders. So I spent as much time as possible in the afternoon in the shade while we watched Anton, the farrier, do each of the horses feet. It took him around 2.5 hours to trim all 19/20 horses and by the time he was finished it was about 4.30pm so we fed the horses and headed back to the farm to feed there and get ready for dinner, George was making macaroni cheese. Now George’s macaroni cheese isn’t your average macaroni cheese. It the best Mac&cheese in the world, full of different types of cheeses and bacon. So for Kenny’s first experience ever of macaroni cheese he was pretty spoilt. After stuffing our faces Christine dropped us back at the backpackers where we grabbed a quick beer before heading for a shower and an early night. Needless to say I covered myself in aftersun in an attempt to help my sun burn before we hit the hay. 

Morning and despite my best efforts the night before of drinking tons of water and covering myself in aftersun the sunburn had got to me and I felt like I was dying. So after texting Penny and letting her know we wrote off the day and ended up spending all day in bed with me feeling sorry for myself, good job we brought a whole load of dvds with us, we grabbed a pizza for tea before grabbing an early night in an attempt to feel better. 

Up bright and early for breakfast the next morning and with my sunburn not looking quite so fierce but some nice blisters appearing on my shoulder and back we headed to the pool (all burn covered up obviously) for some well needed cool water. After a few hours we decided to check out the beach and grab some lunch at Barefoot Cafe across the beach. However we didn’t check out the beach for the long! The wind was crazy and sending the sand everywhere, we headed straight up to the cafe and grabbed two amazing burgers for lunch. After a couple of card games and beers later we headed back to try our luck walking back across the beach. It wasn’t so windy by this point and it didn’t feel like we were getting shot in the legs by tiny bullets of sand. We headed back up to the pool for a while before showering and sorting our bags out for our departure the day after. (It always amazes me how much mess we can make in just a few days). We had dinner at the hostel which was a braai, the food was great and lots of it. We shared a table with another couple who were also travelling around South Africa and India and got to swap our travel plans and travel blogs before we headed to the bar for a couple games of pool. After I beat Kenny and the two of us beat a couple of girls who had challenged us we decided to call it a night ready for our departure the following day.

Morning again and after finishing packing we headed for breakfast to fill up before our drive to Hogsback. The shuttle was leaving around 11.30 so we chilled out in reception and looked at some travel plans for the rest of our trip while we waited for the shuttle to arrive. Before long our driver appeared and we headed on out to our ‘shuttle’ that would take us up in to the mountains to Hogsback. 

R x