February 07, 2006

Better Late Than Never

Well as you may have guessed by now, we've been back in the UK for well over a month and have at last got round to putting up the final photos from the trip.

We had a fantastic time in Saalbach - we pitched up very early in the ski season (and in fact we were the first guests of the season in our apartment block) and were incredibly lucky with the snow even before Deano and Paul turned up. When they did get here later on in the week, it snowed heavily for the whole weekend and created the largest amount of fresh powder I'd ever seen! We had loads of fun surfing through the powder and Rob took loads of photos and a few movies too: Paul | Deano shows off his skillz | Powder Hounds | Rob's camera skillz

Our very last stop was Vienna - a very brief visit. We just had an evening to look round, but it was enough to get the general feel of the place and of course take a few more photos. The architecture was fantastic and we had time to take in just a few more Christmas markets and our last taste of Gluhwein.

[2 Saalbach galleries here and here]
[2 Vienna galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2005

Europe on a Shoestring

Time travels fast doesn't it? You wouldn't think that 10 months has passed since we left for Canada but it has and we will be flying back to the UK tomorrow! Rob and I are very much looking forward to coming back and not because we haven't enjoyed ourselves but because we miss our friends, family and home comforts (that we apparently have got attached to without realising). So anyway, we are a bit behind on the photos due to not having to suitable internet connection for the last 10 days in Saalbach but we should be able to rectify some of that now.

Thanks to all you kind chaps at Energis, we finally got round to spending our lastminute.com vouchers on a top hotel in Munich. We did occasionally leave the room but you wouldn't guess from the fact that there are only about 10 photos to show for our visit. As well as seeing some of the sights of Munich we wandered round many of the Christmas markets there and drunk yet more Gluhwein.

In Prague we met up with Claire, my big sis, who we hadn't seen for 9 months so it was rather good to see her. We stayed in a nice apartment in the old town (thanks Mum and Dad!) which meant we could cook and relax infront of the telly for a change as well as easily pop out and see the sights. In our time there we did see a fair bit of Prague (and drink Gluhwein) and in contrast to the last set of photos you can see this from the volume of photos (the new camera helped)!!

[2 Munich galleries here and here]
[2 Prague galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2005

Rockin Rudolph

We had a great time with the parents last weekend, not least because we were put up in a lovely hotel (and got a free upgrade to a Junior Suite !) but we also wandered around a very christmassy Heidelberg. The first snow of the Season fell just as we arrived (surprise surprise !) but apart from the chill around my toes due to the flip flops, it was really nice to feel cold again ! We wandered around the Christmas markets, drinking Gluhwein and buying various presents. We also visited the castle and took a ride on the Funicular - all very pleasant ... Thanks Mum and Dad :)

[2 Heidelberg galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2005

Hong Kong Phooey

Actually, some of you techy types (you know who I mean) might be interested to know that I'm blogging this from our very long 12 hour flight to Germany. I am rather disproportionately excited about this, even though in reality you only get as long as your laptop battery can take (in our case a combined 4 hours) for US$30.

Hong Kong has been excellent - I've seen Rob shop more than I have seen him ever shop before and apparently enjoying it too (something to do with normal shops being inter-dispersed with gadget shops). In between shopping, we've also seen a little of Hong Kong. We went to the Space Museum and took a bus over to Stanley to wander round the market there (hmm this this might class as more shopping) which were both good fun. We've also been taken out to dinner by Sauming (who used to work at Energis with us) to a very impressive resturant called Aqua at the top of a very tall building.. we had quite possibly the best sushi meal I have had ever with the most fantastic views (thanks Sauming!).

Some of you will be pleased to know that gadgets out here aren't actually that much cheaper than in the UK. If you hunt around you can find cheaper prices but it often doesn't outway the warrantee you don't often get by buying it in HK. Having said that, Rob has bought himself a gorgeous new Compaq laptop and I've got a stunning new Nokia 6170 (Nokia is such a sweet partner after having used a Sony Ericsson for the last 12 months - but thank you Mattb, it's been a very useful phone!). Oh mustn't forget the new lens that I've bought for the DSLR I don't quite have yet...

[2 Hong Kong galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 06:43 AM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2005

The Times They Are A-Changin

Another open tour bus journey took us to Dalat - 'The Romantic City' in the mountains according to all the locals. Deb wanted to hire motorbikes again but it started raining again so we decided to try a different approach and hire a car, driver and guide to take us to see the local sites. It was a glorious day when we went out and we had a really pleasant time. One of the first things we went to see was the Lak Village which whilst not steeped in local customs and ancient ways, was quite interesting and we got to see the old style of houses on stilts that the ethnic minorities used to live in and also the sacrificial altar for the buffalo. We also went to visit the 'Crazy House' and it certainly lives up to it's name - very obscure architecture. Other places of note included the Dalat old railway station, Chinese pagoda, Datanla falls and last but not least the 'Valley Of Love'. The last one was quite an experience as it's how Dalat got it's name for being a romantic city. The 'Valley of Love' was originally a picturesque place by a lake on the side of a mountain in forestland and was used by students from the local univeristy there for 'late night research'. However once the tourists found out about it and more and more people wanted to go the Government 'landscaped' the area covering it in concrete and provided delightful swan pedalos for the lake, needless to say the locals found another beautiful spot and never tell the tourists about it ...

After the fun of Dalat we made our way to the final destination in Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh City (or HCMC from now on). This was a really nice suprise as we were expecting it to be worse than Hanoi when in fact it was pretty relaxed and we only recieved a minimum of hassle. Our main goal was to go and see the Cu Chi tunnels which the Viet Cong used against the Americans (and the French before them) in the war. The tunnels we saw had been expanded so westerners could fit in them as before this I wouldn't have made it through them. Deb also got to fire a semi-automatic rifle with live ammo - although I don't think she hit any targets her ears were surely well protected by the quality ear defenders they supplied - oh no actually - they were headphones !

We also visited a number of museums in HCMC which were all interesting and exhibited various spoils of war which were fun to go and look round, however, it was all put into perspective by the War Museum where there was a large amount of photojournalistic content including graphic examples of the use of napalm and white phospurous (and they used it in Iraq as well) - not pleasant viewing at all but very powerful nonetheless - highly recommended.

[2 Dalat galleries here and here]
[2 HCMC galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 07:46 AM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2005

Vietnam Blues

After fleeing from Hanoi we took the Reunification Express that links Hanoi to Ho-Chi-Minh City. We stopped in Hue - a UNESCO world heritage site that has amongst it's relics a citadel. Hue was more relaxed than Hanoi but still had a huge number of annoying Cyclo drivers hassling you every 2 minutes. The citadel was quite impressive and the Thai Hoa palace inside was pretty cool. The most fun we had was feeding the large numbers of Koi carp in the lake inside - the fish literally jumped on top of each other to eat it !

The next stop on the list was Hoi An - the best place to get tailor made clothes in Vietnam. We took an open tour bus there - they are incredibly cheap usually less than $10 to travel between large cities and the larger distance you travel in total the cheaper the cost between places becomes. The only disadvantage is that they take you to a set of 'partner' hotels and try (usually quite hard) to convice you to stay in them (kickback is the word you're thinking of). So battling between the hotel touts we eventually managed to find our chosen hotel and settling for an incredibly relaxing 4 days in Hoi An. It has a french colonial feel to it's buildings and style and everything is a lot more laid back. It was the first place we stayed that you could walk along the street and not be hassled. The town may be a little manufactured for tourists as I'm not sure the locals stayed there and there are over 200 tailors in the town but it was a really pleasant place to stay. Deb obviously started foaming at the mouth at the thought of being able to buy tailor made clothes for a few dollars a garment so 1 suit, 1 shirt, 1 coat, 1 skirt, 1 dress, 2 sets of trousers, 1 top and a set of shoes later we were able to rest. I also had two suits made ($30 US each) - I just need a job now ;) If you need a suit making and you happen to be in Hoi An then I have to recommend Mr Xe on Le Loi Street (where most of the 'better' tailors are located) as he did a great job, wasn't too pushy and seemed to enjoy measuring me far too much ... Another honourable mention goes to Yellow Star Cafe where they did a good bangers and mash - or so Deb tells me.

[2 Hue galleries here and here]
[2 Hoi An galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 04:22 AM | Comments (3)

November 13, 2005

Good Morning Vietnam (it had to be done !)

The last couple of weeks in Vietnam have been quite a mix. I think our first experience sums up a large part of our Vietnamese experience. We had just arrived at the airport and were absolutely knackered after the trip from Laos (as we were both a bit off colour). We decided to jump in a taxi and get him to take us to the hotel we had picked in the Lonely planet - he asked us if we were sure we wanted to go there and he knew somewhere better etc ... but we told him we had a booking and off we went. A 1/2 hr journey later and we were at the hotel - it had the sign outside and everything - the only thing was we couldn't see the cafe that was supposed to be across the road - strange but we went inside (as the guy from the hotel grabbed our bags and ushered us in). It was a reasonable hotel - a little pricey but fine and recommended by the Lonely Planet. The only thing was it wasn't actually the hotel we had asked to go to - it was a fake with the same name !

To be fair I had read about this in the LP and I guessed we were being scammed so only booked in for one night, and the room wasn't too bad if a little expensive. So how does this relate to our experiences of Vietnam - well I guess basically the majority of people who try to offer you a service are out to scam you in some way but overall the experience won't be too bad - if a little expensive ...

I think my favourite thing was seeing the water puppets in Hanoi - it's like punch and Judy but on water ! I managed to capture the best part on video (water dragons playing with some impressive effects). Unfortunately we were sitting at the back so the pictures don't do it justice. Hanoi was probably our least favourite part of Vietnam as you couldn't walk down the street without at least three or four VERY persistent people trying to get you to buy/book/rent/eat something. It meant you couldn't enjoy the city as you were dashing from place to place trying to keep off the street - we've experienced tough hawkers before and I thought I'd perfected my 'Get Lost' stare but apparently thats not understood in Vietnam.

After recouperating in Hanoi (and moving to another Hotel), we travelled onto Ninh Binh where we experienced another tornado ! It was a bit unfortunate as the day we booked our trip to see the Tam Coc caves, some ricefields and the Kenh Gah floating villiage the Heavens opened - not good when you're driving round on motorbikes ! The interesting thing about visiting the caves wasn't the caves themselves but seeing the rowing boat women rowing with their feet - and damned fast too ! If you go to Ninh Bin then stay in the Thanh Thuy as the guys who run it are really friendly and run good tours - hire a motorbike and get them to do a motorbike tour with you - just try to avoid the rain ...

I've also added some motorbike videos to one of our Thailand posts - if you want to see some hot biker action then have a look (good camera work Josie !)

[2 Hanoi galleries here and here]
[2 Ninh Bin galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2005

Motorcycle Emptiness

Typhoon Kai Tak has meant that Rob and I have been stuck inside a bit more than normal so I've had a bit of time to put the Laos photos together for the site. Also have a look at the photos from Khao Yai - some comedy frog eating photos have been added (plus some other ones) that were missing before.


After a stealthy shopping session in Bangkok (getting a new camera and Rob's phone fixed amoungst other things) and the fastest packing session on record, we arrived at the airport at a healthy forty minutes before our flight was due to leave - I had been pretty sure we weren't going to make it to Laos when we were still checking out of the hotel at about 1 hour before take off time but we had Mr Wheeler's expert plane catching luck on our side this time. We arrived in Vientiane by prop plane - two seats each side and much louder than a normal jet plane but still ok.

In Vientiane we rented motorbikes again so we could get round the city with some speed and also go to the Buddha Park which was about 25km away. It was almost like we knew what we were doing this time, until we forgot that people drove on the right not the left side of the road as in Thailand. Doh. Once we had sorted out that minor hitch, we rode to see Pha That Luang (the gold stupa, symbol of Laos), Patuxai (Victory Gate - very Arc de Triomphe looking) and then to the fantastic Buddha Park which also has a huge pumpkin than you can climb up inside.

On the way back we stopped at what we thought to be a shop selling drinks and we only realised later that infact it was actually someone's house. It must have looked quite strange, us stopping at their front door asking for a drink of water, them kindly offering us filtered water or beer and then us saying bottled water will only do. doh! Anyway as punishment/reward, that evening we stopped for a beer in the nightclub next door to our hotel, which was rather like we had stumbled upon a Lao wedding evening do.

The next day we took a bus to Vang Vieng - it kept stopping to load on/ off more stuff (mostly sacks of rice I think). Dad would be impressed - stuff was piled on top of the bus, between the seats and any other spare space, sometimes a motorbike or bed would be on the roof-rack too.

Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng is a kind of Khao San Road of Laos but on a much smaller scale. We hired bikes again and rode out to some of the villages, it was cool to see the kids ride past waving and shouting Sabbai dee (hello)! The scenery is around Vang Vieng is beautiful - small villages set against limestone peaks next to the Mekong.

Luang Prabang

Next we took a minibus to Luang Prabang. We stayed in a great guesthouse (called Sysomphone Guesthouse) where Steve had stayed last time - it was run by a friendly old couple who fed us lots of Lao Lao (Lao whisky) and bananas.

We were going to hire bikes again in Luang Prabang but it turned out that the city now no longer allows bike rental for tourists. Instead we hopped on a boat which took us to see some of the sites (eek, non of which I can remember the name of) but the boat ride itself was pretty cool :). The last morning Steve and I got up at a shocking 5-30am to see the alms procession of the buddist monks. There were at least 100 monks lined up and being given food by people on the streets.

The journey back from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng was a pretty long bumpy one and we had to get up early the next day after a late night to get the first bus back to Vientiane for our flights. The bus stopped an amazing 3 times to change the wheels (Lao roads are not finished quite to UK standards) and eventually we changed buses and managed to get to the airport at least an hour before Steve had to catch his flight :).

[2 Vientiane galleries here and here]
[2 Vang Vieng galleries here and here]
[2 Luang Prabang galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 05:56 AM | Comments (2)

November 03, 2005

Fire Starter

Still a few sets behind with the photos, this is the last set from Thailand. We were sad to see Mr Wheeler go last week - we've had a wicked time wandering round Laos & Thailand with him & especially some top fun with the motorbikes. Tried to repeat the motorbike fun yesterday in what turned out to be Typhoon weather, but more on that another time!!

It was a long bus journey down to Chumphon and even though we arrived at about 2 in the morning, the lovely lady from the guesthouse Josie had phoned earlier (Anyone help me with the name?) was waiting there for us to pick us up. Early the next morning we caught a ferry over to Koh Tao where we spent the next few days...

[2 South Thailand galleries here and here]

We hired bikes again on Koh Tao, although this time the roads weren't up to much which made our ride around and eventually up to the lookout/resturant point a very tricky one. The view at the top was worth it, as was the food and now we can all now qualify for the TV program Kick Start and probably actually do quite well :)

Josie and I also had fantastic Thai massages (by two very nice ladies) which although pretty brutal (we didn't really know what brutal meant until the next one - see later) at times, worked wonders on my shoulders which have been much better since.

It was also Rob's birthday on Koh Tao; as you can imagine this was celebrated in true Rob Lee style. The chaps enjoyed the cigars, thank you Shaun & Sarah! Cards and pressies were also very much appreciated too!

With a "Rob Lee drunk" hangover of doom we headed over to Koh Phangan for the Full Moon party. We decided to stay on the other side of the island so we didn't have to worry about our stuff getting nicked while we were at the party. It turned out to be quite fun to get there.. a 30 minute ride in a truck across very unfinished rocky roads (with hangover not good) or a boat ride where you get quite wet. (more on this later).

So we decided to get to the Full Moon party by boat which we didn't realise would mean getting most of our bottom halves wet in order to get in the boat. Result: pockets full of toasted gadgets. My camera was fairly stuffed anyway but this finished it off along with Rob's phone (number 2) which is now being fixed by a nice man in Bangkok for hopefully not too much money. My compact flash card with all my photos on has somehow managed to revive itself now (yay!) and we bought a cheap camera in Bangkok which is similar to the old one and will do for now (will be treating myself to a nice new on in Hong Kong!).

The Full Moon party was actually pretty cool - lots of huge sound systems and lots of buckets of vodka/redbull drinks. Josie and I got glowing things painted on our shoulders, I am sure we must have looked cool :) hehe. We got a boat back at about 6 in the morning and had to leave for Koh Samui the next day in order to fly back to Bangkok. Josie and James had to fly all the way home too, it was a long day!!

Oh I almost forgot about the sand massage (actually Josie I never gave you money for that!). Josie and I thought we would get another massage on Koh Phangan as the last one had been good. What we failed to appreciate was that we had spent the morning sunbathing and had got particularly sunburnt and still had sand on our legs from being on the beach. This resulted in the most voluntarily painful hour ever. The ladies rubbed oil into the sand on our legs and then rubbed it very hard into our sun burn. Ouch, I do not recommend it one bit!

Rob says Hello to all the Nans out there!

Posted by deb at 08:20 AM | Comments (2)

October 23, 2005

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Josie and James have now returned home after an excellent 3 weeks in Thailand, it was really cool to see them and it was sad to see them go. We're a bit behind with the site at the moment, mainly to do with the increased amount of beer drinking with the Kids, so were now in Laos (which is lovely by the way), but next up for photos is Kanchanaburi.

We took a train from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi - it was a proper old style train with wooden seats and windows you can pull down and stick your head right out of which was quite cool. The next day was pretty much dedicated to having a nosy at the Kwai Bridge, the War Museum and main Memorial which was all quite an eye opener for someone like me who never really listened in history lessons but wished they had now. Oh and on that evening me and Josie took rickshaws back to the place we were staying (hurty feet after a long day) and the boys got motorbike-taxis. Looked like hard work for the poor rickshaw drivers though.

The next day was more light hearted, and I know Mum won't be very happy about it but I am going to tell you anyway. We hired motorbikes and rode out into the countryside, it was top fun though. Under the guidance of Mr Wheeler, we managed to find a fantastic unlisted temple with a huge glistening Budda and we met a friendly monk who chatted to us for a while and seemed to spend most of his time in a cave, I think blessing people.

A quick addition - videos of us all on bikes - here and here.

[2 Kanchanaburi galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2005

Do do do the funky Gibbon

Today we are taking a break from blogging and have a special guest poster in the form of Miss Josie Smith...

Ok, here goes! We arrived in Bangkok after an 11 hour flight, just about made it. It's been great to see Deb and Rob again and when we met up at the hotel I couldn't keep the tears back. Bangkok is a great place. We've been to Khao San Road, full of bars and market stalls. Rob and Wheeler have even tried Scorpion, well we all tried a bit in the end. We have also been to see the Emerald Buddah with temple buildings full of colour and got some great photos. Shopping is very good here and we have all done really well bartering with the stall holders and getting good discounts, which was fun.

After a couple of days seeing the sights in Bangkok we travelled north to Khao Yai which is a national park. We stopped off for a night in Pak Chong a town near by and after a lovely dinner and a few beers, got brave and tried fried frogs! They, of course, tasted like chicken...We stayed quite close to the park in lodges fully equiped with air con, it's unbelivably hot here. We have completed 2 day treks and a night trek, unfortunatly not actually sleeping in the jungle, which would have been fun. Treks came fully equiped with leech socks, which worried me. Wheeler was the first to get one on his arm and instead of immediately helping we all got our cameras out! We have seen quite a few animals, deers, monkeys, weird looking spiders, gibbons, seen elephant tracks and also treked and swam in a waterfall after crossing a knee depth river on foot. What a fantastic couple of days.

[2 Bangkok galleries here and here]
[2 Khao Yai galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2005

If I could walk 500 miles

Actually we walked more like 10km but if felt a bit like what I imagined 500 miles to feel like. So many steps and steep climbs but we thoroughly enjoyed our walk from Jinshanling to Simatai apart from a minor hiccup but I will get to that in a minute. Most people go to Badaling which is the restored section of the wall + very busy so we opted for the quiet, more rustic version.

[2 Great Wall galleries here and here]

Along the way we got chatting to a guy who seemed experienced in seeing China sites etc so we didn't bat an eyelid when he refused to pay a fee midway through the treck as he said that it was a con and he'd experienced this kind of trouble in China before. The guy stood his ground and nearly ended up getting thrown off the wall (quite a drop) and had a bit of a scrap with the fee collector guy. Still, we stood by the guy and also didn't pay our fee (the collector was far too busy to bother with us). So the ticket collector followed us all the way back to the bus and refused to let the whole bus leave until this guy paid. As you can imagine, this was a very angry bus of tourists. Once the guy reluctantly paid the fee (which incidentally should have been paid it turns out), further money was demanded of him for hitting the ticket collector, which he didn't do. Eventually they agreed to an apology from the guy and we were all able to leave. As both set of people were correct (and incorrect) in their different ways, Rob and I spent most of this time hiding in the back of the bus hoping not to be spotted by either the wall security or the guy.

Posted by deb at 07:13 AM | Comments (3)

Summer Lovin'

As if the Summer Palace wasn't enough to see, it also has huge gardens and a lake to the rear. We had a wicked time in our own electric powered 1 mile an hour boat exploring the lake. As it was quite relaxing, neither of us ended up in the lake which was a bit of a relief. Actually I can see why it is called the Summer Palace, its a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Beijing. Plus it's not being rennovated which made it all the more charming.

[2 Summer Palace galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 07:08 AM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2005

Ming the Merciless

You'll notice Rob smile with glee as he rides round on his pink bicycle around the walls of Xian. A mixed bag of a weekend in Xian, the highlight being the Terracotta Warriors, the lowlight being the lack of decent cycling and a laclustre guide. Still, Rob enjoyed his bike even though it was raining. The sleeper train was actually quite good fun (even though not much sleep was had) and we met lots of nice people on the tour.

We do a 10km hike along the Great Wall tomorrow as long as the typhoon doesn't stop us :)

[2 Xian galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 11:35 AM | Comments (1)

Ni hao

Ni hao is hello in Chinese by the way. From Beijing we bring you a glimpse of Tianamen Square (currently being decorated with flowers for the Olympics 2008 - a little early perhaps), the Forbidden City (also being heavily rennovated for the same purpose) and around and about in Beijing (yes being rennovated too). Beijing is very much on the rebuild in general for the Olympics and it is happening on a large scale everywhere you look. We are yet to find what we assumed China to be, but I suspect it is hidden in the depths of the Hutongs which we are yet to see. Still, travelling is a learning process and if you see what you expect to see then where is the (Rob and Debs big) adventure in that? Actually, I lie, there are as many, if not more bikes than I imagined. The Forbidden City and Tianamen Square were both very spectacular to see and did give us an excellent glimpse into old China.

[2 Beijing galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2005

Lost in Translation

This set of photos is from our last week or so around Tokyo, so its quite a large and varied set. It shows our adventures round Akihabara, the electronics district, Ginza, the swanky shopping district, Tokyo Bay and the Rainbow Bridge, Shinjuku, where all the bright lights can be found and Harajuku, the Camden Town of Tokyo. There's also lots of photos of the gadgets we have hunted out, mainly from our visits to the two Sony Centres and Apple store. Not sure if the Ipod Nano is out at home, but it's on sale here and available to play with. Ohh they are soo small.

We're off to China tomorrow for 11 days, where we'll be mostly hanging out in Beijing before heading off to Thailand. Not sure how restricted the internet will be but we're hoping out phones will work.

When we get home, I'd quite like to watch Lost in Translation again and compare it to the Tokyo we've seen.

[2 Tokyo galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 07:51 AM | Comments (7)

Tokyo Game Show 2005 Roundup

We visited the Tokyo Game Show 2005 on Saturday, billed as being the first real viewings for the next gen consoles (PS3 and XBox 360). The show itself was a great mash up of Videogame and Japanese culture. The main points of interest (apart from the game show girls !) were the Sony and Microsoft stands. The XBox 360 stand was definately a big hit where there were about 10+ actual playable XBox 360 games whereas the Sony stand, whilst having a big presence, didn't actually have any playable hardware. The pre-renders on the big screens showing the next-gen graphics were expectedly impressive (but you have to take them with a pinch of salt !). Overall Microsoft won it for me just because they had everything ready to go and they are also heavily concentrating on the Japanese market where they failed last time with the XBox - we'll have to wait and see how being late to market for Sony affects the PS3 takeup.

The other stand that looked interesting was Sega (believe it or not) where they seem to have a good selection of upcoming games - Phantasy Star Universe was one we played and it was a third person RPG style game that was fun to play (coming to PS2 I believe).

Finally - the best swag of the show - it goes to Microsoft and N3 (Ninety Nine Nights) where if you played the game (and we did - it was really easy to pick up and contained lots of fun slash n kill style action) you recieved a mini maglite style torch which when you turn on has an N3 logo in the beam !

[2 Tokyo Game Show galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 07:47 AM | Comments (2)

September 14, 2005

I think I'm turning Japanese

A few days ago we went for a wander around Kyoto. It was a very hot day but we persisted in our Temple spotting along with hundreds of others. We thought the crowds might scare the temples away but apparently they are very domesticated in their natural habitat and were happy to pose for pictures. Deb spent hours working out a walking tour and we faithfully followed it around the Sanjusangen-Do temple (where we weren't allowed to take any photos !), the Kiyonizu temple and the Nanzen-Ji temple.

The Sanjusangen-Do temple was probably the most impressive with 1001 statues of the 1000 armed Kanoon (the budhist Goddess of Mercy).

We've been in Tokyo for a few days now and we have been visiting the various districts within the city. We have elongated our stay in Tokyo so we can take in the Tokyo Games Show and take a peak at the new XBox 360 and maybe even some PS3 games. We'll now be leaving for China on Monday.

[2 Kyoto galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2005


Yesterday we took the bullet train over to Hiroshima. The A-Bomb dome was really quite something to see, it was just metres from where the bomb hit. We also had a look round the Peace Memorial Museum which gave you a very good overview (if not quite gruesome at times) of how it all happened and the effects that the bomb had on the people and the area. Peace Memorial Park showed the Statue of the Children - quite heart wrenching, in memorial of one particular child who died of leukemia. The statue is surrounded by thousands of origami paper cranes made by the children.

[2 Hiroshima galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 07:53 AM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2005

Castles in the sky

In case you were wondering we seemed to have survived Typhoon Nabi. In Kyoto it meerly seemed to bring lots of rain and some gusty winds. We braved the elements yesterday and travelled to Himeji-Jo one of best (still standing) examples of a Japanese castle. Again, it was a huge piece of architecture with a gigantic wooden frame. It dates back to the 17th Century and the Shogun period and is seven stories tall.

[2 Himeji-Jo galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 03:26 AM | Comments (6)

September 05, 2005

Singing in the rain

We had a nice day out in Nara today (with a huge number of UNESCO sites). We visited the amazing Todai-Ji temple and the worlds largest Buddha (the Daibutsu). It's a shame the pictures don't do it more justice but it was huge, no actually it was HUGE ! We also visited some other temples it the area including Kasuga Taisha which had loads of stone lanterns dotted around and was the embodiment of a Japanese temple. There were also loads of deer roaming the park area around the temples - very friendly too - one tried to eat my t-shirt (probably the soy sauce I spilt on it trying to use chop sticks ...)

As you'll notice from the pictures it was raining - we seem to be in the grip of typhoon Nabi. The only weather warnings appear to be for rain and gusts where we are so we should be okay now we have our trusty umbrellas.

[2 Nara galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2005

Why does it always rain on me ?

I'm getting a little paranoid that I'm actually a rain god (see Dirk Gently for details) after our 3 weeks of rain in Auckland and now we're in Kyoto and it's started raining after the blistering sun in Tokyo. From what we've managed to gather from TV there seems to be some bad weather coming our way but hopefully it should blow over in the next few days.

Anyhow, we're staying in a lovely little Ryokan and we're out on the road for the next few days visiting some shrines/castles/big buddhas. Tokyo was fun but we only had a little taste so there is lots more to see and do there - I'm most excited about seeing the Godzilla statue ...

Oh and bullet trains really do lean and they go very very very fast !

[2 Tokyo galleries here and here]

[2 Ryokan galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 11:11 AM | Comments (1)

August 05, 2005

Pipe Dreams

Firstly a big thanks to "The Kids" at home for the birthday presents - we finally arranged for our post to be forwarded to Wanaka and picked up the large package yesterday! The presents were so cool that we took photos of them for everyone to see! Even Colin got a present - fluffy dice... they really suit him!

I was a little worried about the T-shirts though. "The family" - i.e. Pikachu & Vince seem to be out of control in the lounge of our place, I thought Wheeler was supposed to be keeping an eye on them :) If anyone can shed some light on what else is going on in the photo, please let us know!

... and how did you know that I needed a new set of clothes... lovely tops, cheers guys. And my hair is loving the new shampoo & frizz-ease , can not normally afford such expenses :)

Thanks also to my Nan B for the letter, it was lovely to hear from you!

On the snowboarding front, this last week has been a very hectic one but we've both really enjoyed ourselves. Rob's snowboard camp started at 8:30 on the mountain which meant a very early start for the both of us to get up there in time. 3 hours half pipe riding in the morning followed by 2 hours private training in the afternoon.

I spent my time with a 2 hour lesson in the morning and practice in the afternoon for 3 days which was the best thing I ever did (snowboarding related anyway). I was taught to ride switch, to ollie, to manual (wheely), to ride boxes etc... and ironed out some of the bad habits I picked up from boarding without lessons for so long...

This week will be our last in Wanaka, in fact we are planning on leaving on Thursday for Christchurch so we can officially start selling Colin. We'll be sad to leave Wanaka... and sad to see Colin go too (although fingers crossed eh!)

[2 InThePost galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 03:45 AM | Comments (6)

July 31, 2005

The final curtain

Deb has finished the mamoth task she started two months ago - she has finished the Curtains ! I think we've pretty much completed our mods to Colin now - consider him pimped.

I think the list of mods is:

- Removed great big cupboard
- Added new fold out bed
- Added 240v power
- Added battery charger to charge house battery from 240v
- Fixed sticky locks
- Added new tyre
- Fitted and sewed 12 new curtains
- Added new fridge
- Fixed the horn
- Fixed the windscreen washers
- Added 6 new shelves
- Added a mini B/W TV (not quite the dropdown LCD's !)

So have a look at the fitter healthier Colin and see what you think ... (and compare with the original Colin here).

[2 Colin galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 07:18 AM | Comments (5)

July 28, 2005

Snow worries mate

We finally got a little bored of just snowboarding every day and decided to go on a quick jaunt over to Queenstown (only an hours drive away). It's like Wanaka but bigger and with more shops - you should have seen Debs eyes light up (I also wasnted to go and pick up the latest Harry Potter as it had sold out in Wanaka !). We spent a day in Queenstown and went up the Gondola - which is the spot most of the pictures are taken from and were lucky enough to see a nice rainbow poking out of the lake above Queenstown.

After a days rest we decided we needed to get back on the slopes again - this time we've taken a few pictures and we're going to keep adding and removing pics from this gallery as we improve and get better snaps ... We've only got a month left in NZ now and only two weeks of that on the slopes - it's gone so fast !

I'm practising my Japenese already ....

"noodles please"

[2 Snowboarding galleries here and here]
[2 Queenstown galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2005

PPP-Pick Up a Glacier

This weekend we took a break from snowboarding and took Colin on a trip to see some of New Zealand's finest glaciers. We also went on the hunt for penguins but they must have decided to take a holiday to the UK (where apparently the weather is much finer this time of year) as they were nowhere to be seen.

Tramping is the rather affectionate sounding name that Kiwis use to mean walking or hiking; our weekend involved quite a bit of this too, Running Richard would be proud/ shocked.

After a quick stop off at Thunder Creek Falls and Knights Point, our first major stop was to see the penguins. We walked for 1 1/2 hours in the hope of seeing them but all Rob ended up with was wet feet as he got lured into the sea by the promise of penguins hiding in the rock pools. Still, it was a fine day and a pleasant walk.

After spending the night at Franz Joseph township, we started our day by walking to the glacier terminal front. From a distance, the glacier looked a bit like a lump of dirty snow but it was worth the walk to stand right next to the glacier where you could really see it's humungous size.

Next we drove to the Fox Glacier where we embarked on another 1 1/2 hour walk to the Fox terminal face. Not having seen enough glaciers we then decided to try and see the glacier from a different angle and drove up a road apparently not fit for campervans (it was nothing after having driven up Cardrona mountain) to the start of our hike to the chalet lookout. This walk was rather good fun as there were a couple of largish streams that we had to cross and Rob was a complete gent and carried me across.

We got up early the next day to embark on another walk, this time around Lake Matherson to see unforgettable views of Mounts Cook and Tasman reflected in the water.

[2 Glacer Trip galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 07:31 AM | Comments (1)

July 10, 2005

Beautiful Wanaka

Afternoon! As predicted, Rob and I have spent quite a bit of time snowboarding, however we have managed to get a few photos in for the chaps at home. More about these in a bit.

The mountain is getting to be loads of fun - snow is predicted for every day of next week and they have now opened the remaining chair lift (which also happens to be the biggest and fastest one) so things are getting rather more interesting... this coupled with the fact that we've bought ourselves new helmets, our snowboarding styles are getting more adventurous and actually, I think we both may have even improved a bit.

Anyway, some more about helmets; Rob has bought himself a rather funky one called "Bad Lieutenant" - and it is actually a Lieutenant style helment which sounds cheesy but it looks rather cool. Mine is a more of a traditional style which makes my head look more alien shaped but really this is the only look I can get when wearing any helment. It has already saved my head about 4 times already so I am as happy as larry.

Back to the photos. This first set is a mixed bag from around Wanaka and up the mountain at Cardrona. On one of our days off from boarding, we took a walk around the lake (which really is beautiful by the way, I can't stop looking at it/ taking photos of it). The other photos are from yesterdays trip up the mountain... New Zealand Ski resorts are not like European ones, you have to drive up a mountain road every day to get there which is an experience in itself (an 8km gravel track mountain climb - Rob).. There are also a few photos of the campervan site where we are currently staying. Naturally you would think that staying in a campervan and snow do not mix that well but this park makes it all ok - it has a spa, sauna, great lounge and kitchen area with log fire and lovely views of Wanaka...

The next set of photos are from Puzzling World where we visited today. Must say I wasn't expecting that much from this place but it turned out to be loads of fun. We spend about an hour and a half trying to find our way out of a maze, most of it involving me chasing Rob who kept trying to find his way out/ lose me, I wasn't quite sure which. There was also a room called the "illusion room" which is tilted at 15 degrees but the furniture etc isn't which causes your brain to get very confused indeed. I still can't quite work it out.

Also, if you are wondering why the segway photo has jumped so rapidly to the top in popularity then see here ...

[2 Wanaka galleries here and here]
[2 Puzzling World galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 04:54 AM | Comments (2)

July 01, 2005


We've finally made it to Lake Wanaka where we will be based for the next month and a half for snowboarding at Cardrona.

Our first stop on the way down here was at Nelson where we had a nosey at the Art-Deco Cathedral and a quick stroll around town.

Next was Blenheim, vineyard country, where we both enjoyed some wine tasting at the cellar doors. We dropped in on the Cloudy Bay Vineyard where we sampled practically the complete range and Rob ordered a case of wine for his dad. Then we went on an excellent tour of the Montana Winery where we saw wine being brewed on a large scale (non of this single demijon stuff we do in Otley) and we sampled yet more wine but this time we were instructed on how to wine taste in a more civilised fashion (so we gurgled it round in our mouths and spat it out).

Next, we headed for Christchurch and on the way we stopped off to see a huge colony of seals which we spotted on the beach at the side of the road. We stayed in Christchurch for a couple of days - it's a lovely city, reminded me a bit of home (probably because there were some actual old buildings there).

Also, we've added a quicknotes section in the side bar of the site as we're not going to be updating as quick and fast as we have in the past as we're pretty much snowboarding now (however we've got a few weekend trips planned that should provide some stunning photos). So for those of you who like to know we're still alive and kicking, you should be able to get a quick update of what we are up to.

[2 TripSouth Galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 06:30 AM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2005

What's Up Down South

We've had a great time in the North Island but now are anxious to get down South to Cardrona for the snow so in the last week we have travelled from Taupo to the South Island visiting quite a few places on the way.

In Taupo we had a look at the thermally active area called "Craters of the Moon" - it does have big craters as the name suggests but the ground was literally steaming and bubbling away and we were able to get a good close look (personally I find it all very fascinating as this stuff would never happen at home). We also popped in at Huka Falls and the Volcanic Activity Centre.

We then drove through the mountains (Colin just loves those hills) to take us to Wellington where we reunited with the barmy army. The game was apparently average but we enjoyed it regardless. Being my first proper game, I found it odd to see that fans from the different teams share the same seating areas and actually being quite pleasant to each other.

While we were in Wellington we met up with Rik (who Rob and I used to work with) & Vicky for a few drinks, Matt (who I used to work with at PA) for lunch and Lu (who we met in Fiji) which was all rather quite pleasant although hopefully next time we can spend more time with people. Wellington as a whole was a lovely city and the people were remarkably friendly and chilled out too.

After our fleeting visit to Wellington we took Colin on a ferry to the South Island and landed in Picton where we were once again able to split from the barmy army. We have already visited Nelson and now are in Blenheim where we plan to hire bikes and cycle round the Marborough Wine region sampling wines!!

[2 Taupo Galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 06:42 AM | Comments (10)

June 15, 2005

They dont like it up 'em

So as you might have gathered from the camera piccies we're going to see the British and Irish Lions play a prep game against the Wellington Lions tonight ! It's strange being couped up with all the other Lions supporters at our camp site - they have their own little world of camper vans and matching Lions clothing ...

There also seems to be a touring stage show of Dads Army - how strange.

We've spent the last few days travelling down to Wellington and visited a few spots along the way - I think the most impressive have been the Glow worm caves (which we weren't allowed to take pictures of !) and also the Aranui caves that were nearby. The glow worms really had to be seen to be believed and I'm glad we weren't able to take pictures as it would have spoiled the effect, we were taken underground and then placed into a boat and told not to make ny noise - the boat was then pulled along a rope into a pitch black cave where the glow worms were waiting. It really was like seeing thousands of stars above you ....

We also passed through Rotorua which is an incredibly active geothermal region, you could just walk down the street and there would be steam venting out of the ground. We visited a few places here and also saw a Maori concert that turned out to be a lot more fun than I initially thought - the people performing it really appeared to be enjoying themselves and there didn't appear to be anything forced about it. I think the most impressive thermal area we visited was Wai-O-Tapu and saw a Geyser errupt.

We'll be heading over to the South Island in the next few days - yey !

[2 Caves galleries here and here]
[2 Roturua galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 05:08 AM | Comments (4)

June 04, 2005

Horse Play

A few things to update you on this time ... We've made it back to Auckland as we did a flier of a journey down the west coast of the Northland (350+ km's) which we thought that in a van that only has four gears was quite a good achievement ! Before we undertook that lightning run we visited the northern tip of New Zealand - Cape Reinga and got there via the Ninety mile beach. It was an unseasonally sunny day and we went on a tour bus that drove a good way up ninety mile beach where we saw wild horses on the sand dunes (very picturesque) and I showed everyone how to Sand Toboggan (see the picture sequence !) We also visited a restored Gum Diggers park and saw some of the old sink holes they used to dig to retrieve the Gum from the ancient buried Kauri trees. All in all, it was a really enjoyable tour and we're really pleased with the pictures as they have a certain 'moody' quality - have a look and let us know what you think ...

In other news, the masses have spoken and we have a name for our Camper Van - Colin, so when you here us refer to Colin from now on you should realise we are talking about our large four geared friend.

As for our plans next, we're currently looking for second hand snowboards, laptops and we're buying our Snowboarding passes for Cardrona and maybe planning to do this ...

P.S. I've also added captions to the previous set of pictures in North NZ - they'll probably shed some light on the pictures so you might want to have a look at the set again.

[2 Cape Reinga Galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 04:16 AM | Comments (3)

May 25, 2005

Fiji Time

Fiji was a total shock to the system for me and Rob: limited electricity, no hot water, no mobile phone reception and certainly no internet :) Once we had got over the initial shock however, we had a cracking good time.

The first island we headed for was Nanuya Lailai to visit the Sunrise resort. From here we visited the Sawailau caves which were featured in the film: Blue Lagoon (Looks a bit saucy if you ask me). We refrained from going in the Blue Lagoon itself not because of the saucy film, but because a) our first attempts failed and we didn't find it, and b) because there was a guy who had earlier got severly stung by a sting ray there that morning and his screams could be heard for miles! He got taken away in a sea plane, we saw him later and he was not screaming any more but his foot was swelled up like a melon.

We also met a couple of cool Kiwi girls (Lu and Rachel) who I reckon we will go and say hi to in Wellington.

All in all we weren't that impressed with the Sunrise resort although it was a nice island to look at.

Sunset resort on Waya was so cool we decided to stay an extra night, plus they were putting on a Lovo for the guests the next night which we thought would be rude to miss.
Our time on Waya was action packed, we never even had time to get bored sunbathing. We went on a mountain trek, went line fishing (I caught 2 fish, yipee, with total equipment of an empty coke bottle, fishing wire, hook and bate), I weaved some bracelets while Rob was made to weave a basket (you can imagine the comedy), watched a coconut being husked, went snorkelling along the coral reef (better if you have decent equipment I think) and took part in a couple of Kava ceremonies (Kids we were going to bring some home but it tasted a bit like muddy water).

The mountain trek was a lightweight roundtrip of 5 hours which Rob mostly undertook barefoot due to the number of mosquito bites on his feet. Of course everyone else thought he was crazy and was just walking "Fiji Style". During the walk, we stopped off at a mountain spring, walked through lots of grass taller than head height, and indulged in a small amount of unexpected rock climbing. However it was all worth it when we reached the top of the mountain and saw the Yasawa Island group spread out in front of us. On the way back our guide (Poni to his mates) took us via a Fijian village where the locals harvested coconuts for us to drink (very refreshing and not at all milky as expected). Everywhere on this island people were so friendly (and genuine about it too) which really made the trip for us.

[2 FijiSunrise galleries here and here]
[2 FijiSunset galleries here and here]
[2 FijiWayaTrek galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 07:03 AM | Comments (1)

May 18, 2005

Pimp My Ride

I know we've been a bit quiet for the last few days but thats because we've bought a camper van ! We're really busy sorting it all out at the moment but I thought I'd post a few of the pics that we had from the couple who sold it to us ... It's a 1984 Bedford CF 280 with Hi-Top and custom interior ! It's also got a manual choke :(

We're going to the DIY store tomorrow so we can do some pimping of the van, so in the meantime to keep you busy we need a name for the van - leave name suggestions as comments to this post and I'll create a poll from the best ones so people can vote for their favourite (rhyming entries will probably fare best ...)

[2 Camper galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 11:18 AM | Comments (5)

May 05, 2005


Yesterday we made the hour and a half boat trip out to the Barrier Reef. The journey out there was an experience in itself, all of us very greatful of the sea sickness tablets we had just taken! Once we got to the Reef, we were based on a pontoon which was a little more stable - much to Mum's relief.

The snorkelling out there was fantastic, and we spent a good few hours in the water before noticing it was time to come in. We took a cheap underwater camera with us and got some reasonable shots of the reef. We also took a helecopter ride over the reef - a once-in-a-life-time-type-experience... I guess the photos explain all.

Myself and Rob leave Cairns tomorrow and fly back to Sydney then head over to Fiji for a week and Mum and Dad will be staying here for another week before travelling back to the UK.

Its been great seeing Mum and Dad, almost like a mini holiday within a big holiday!

[2 Barrier Reef galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 09:09 AM | Comments (1)

May 03, 2005

Why did the Koala fall out of the tree ?

For those of you that didn't know, we've been in Cairns (North East Auz) for the last few days. We've actually seen some rain which was a bit disappointing but at least it's given us some time to sort out and caption the pictures from Sydney. There are pictures from the Blue Mountains National Park, around and about Sydney, views from our apartment and our visit to Bondi Beach. Sydney was a real suprise in what a great city it turned out to be - I'd easily recommend it to anybody visiting Australia - we'd definately consider coming back ...

I also promised a great video of Deb - David Attenborough watch out! (mp4 format - sorry)

A late addition here are some panoramic views of Sydney and the Blue Mountains ...

Whilst in Cairns we've also managed to get out and see some of the indigenous wildlife of Australia - admittedly in the safety of enclosed environments but still it was great to see some of the local wildlife in (relative) freedom. Koala's really are very sleepy animals, Kangaroos really do box and snakes aren't slimey !

[2 Blue Mountains galleries here and here]
[2 Bondi Beach galleries here and here]
[2 Around Sydney galleries here and here]
[2 Sydney Apartment galleries here and here]
[2 Cairns wildlife galleries here and here]
[2 Panoramic galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 08:14 AM | Comments (2)

April 29, 2005

Hop to it

We've not posted anything for a little bit and thats because we've been dashing round Sydney for the last week madly tring to take in all it has to offer .... We've seen the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, been to a national park to see Kangaroos in the wild, visited the Blue mountains and seen the famous three sisters, been to the Powerhouse museum, swam on Bondi beach and much more. This has presented us with a little bit of a problem as we've got too many pictures to put up and caption. So we're going to release them slowly - I've also got a great video of Deb to put up - she talks to the animals ...

You'll notice there is now the 'top 5 pictures section' rather than the poll in the top right hand corner - unless we have an active poll that's what is going to display there - looks a little less stale I think. For anybody who is curious, the answer to the question of 'What do you call a group of people riding Segways ?' was 'A gaggle' (32.25%) - which seems appropriate.

Anyhow, the first set of pictures are the ones people will recognise the most - of the Opera house and the Harbour bridge, we've played with the camera a bit on some of these so there are one or two that we are really pleased with. Again, let me know if you spot any errors while viewing the new gallery format.

[2 Sydney Harbour galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

Temple Time

In our final Mayan ruins visit in Mexico we went to see possibly the most famous ruins site - Chichen Itza. It isn´t as impressive in terms of it´s ruins as sites like Palenque and Uxmal but it´s main attraction El Castillo (and also the observatory) show an amazing appreciation for astronomy and an understanding of mathematics. At the equinoxes, a shadow of a snake can be seen ascending (and decending) the stairways via a clever arrangement of the edges of the temple.

Anyhow, this is probably the last post in Mexico as we are embarking on a 20hr bus journey to Mexico city later and then we fly to Austrailia the next day - Adios Amigos !

[2 ChichenItza galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

Yucatan fool some of the people some of the time

As our last destination in the Yucatan region, we have been staying in Merida for the last few days. It has a lovely feel about the place, similar in a way to San Christobal in terms of the architecture and pace of life. We`ve taken the standard set of tourist pictures of the Catedral de San Ildefonso, Iglesia de Jesus and Paseo de Montejo amongst others.

[2 Merida galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 03:20 AM | Comments (2)

April 12, 2005

Iguana go to Tulum

We stopped off in Tulum today on our way to Cancun. It's one of the smaller Mayan ruin sites but gets a lot of press due to it's beachside location. It's not as impressive as Palenque, but it's still quite pretty (and also iguana infested as I found out to my horror as one jumped out of a tree).

[2 Tulum galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 03:53 AM | Comments (0)


Yesterday we visited the ancient Mayan city of Palenque which is set in heavy jungle. It is a lovely setting for the ruins, but it is also very humid and sticky & harbours some vicious mosquitos as Rob found out - we can now play join the dots on his back (which is always fun). Once again my long black draping trousers didn't seem all that practical, but I bought myself a practical hat to compensate.

There are over 500 buildings that make up the site but only a handful so far have been excavated. They were very spectacular so we couldn't resist taking lots of photos.

[2 Palenque galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 12:52 AM | Comments (2)

April 09, 2005

Village People

We went on a tour of some of the indigenous villages around the San Christobal area. The two villages we visited were Chamula and Zinacantan. At Chamula we learned something about the Mayan heritage such as the Mayan Trinity and it´s relationship to the Mayan Cross. We also visited a local village "Church" and saw how some aspects if Catholosism had been absorbed into the Mayan rituals of worship. I was also shocked to find that Coka Cola forms a major part of these rituals, replacing a traditional ingredient! Other than that, it was quite an amazing scene in the church with the candles placed on tables and over the floor - used as part of the rituals. There were also bells on the floor from another local church which burnt down 100 years earlier - these were placed on the floor to punish the Gods they represented.

We then went onto Zinacantan and saw some of the traditional weaving (as it would have been done by the original Mayan people) and got to taste some freshly made tortillas with beans and also sample the local tipple - called "posh", made from sugar cane.

I also got to try on a traditional Mayan wedding dress (which actually came from the Aztec culture) [insert typical jokes from Rob about this being the dress for our wedding day! hehe]

[2 Mayan Village galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 09:10 PM | Comments (2)

April 07, 2005

Mayan World

San Christobel is a refreshing change in many respects - having the aura of being less touristy than the coastal towns, even though much of the town seems to built round the tourist economy. I guess the lack of "hawkers" and the general laid back attitude helps give that impression. It also has quite a history and some interesting architecture - much of the architecture in the South Coast of Mexico seems to be limited to concrete blocks. So anyway, I am quite liking it. Plus everything here costs like half as much - internet 40p an hour, accomodation 8 quid a night.

[2 San Christobal galleries here and here]

We arrived here at about 10-30 this morning after another long 13 hour bus trip overnight... The bus was quite new and also spacious so we managed to get a some sleep.

The one good thing about travelling on a bus so early in the morning is that you get to see the sunrise (if you are awake anyway Rob :) ) and this morning it was particularly spectacular as we were travelling through the mountains. Plus the vegetation here is much greener and we went through a few "indigenous" villages which were also pretty interesting to look at.

Tomorrow we are going to see a couple of the local villages - hoping it wont be too much of a tourist fairground (which we will help create by going) but will see. Looking forward to it anyway.

Posted by deb at 02:47 AM | Comments (1)

April 05, 2005

Copa Cabana

We've almost finished our beach bum ways (well for a few days) and we head to San Christobel tommorrow so we thought we´d put up a collection of pictures for the South Coast of Mexico - it´s not all sunny beaches (just most of it !).

[2 Mexico galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 02:35 AM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2005

A flock or a gaggle ?

We just can't agree - what do you call a group of people riding Segways ? We've decided the question is important enough to have a poll on it - see the right hand side of the page !

We've made it to San Francisco despite a three hour flight delay due to bad weather and the strangest sight of the trip so far has to be a group of people taking a guided tour on Segways ...

The weather so far has been a bit overcast/rainy combined with Sunny spells - fortunately it was quite nice when we went to see the Golden Gate Bridge - a highlight of the trip so far. We've wandered around China Town, North Beach, Fishermans Wharf and seen the Bay (and Golden Gate) bridge.

As it appears to be spring break we couldn't find any budget accomodation, so we're staying in the Club Quarters hotel which has complimentary wireless and an authentic English pub - the Elephant and Castle !

[2 San Francisco galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 03:56 AM | Comments (6)

Gr-Gr-Granville !

On our last day in Vancouver, we decided to have a litle walk round the city and also visit the Granville island area. Granville island (it's not actually an island - just on the coast) is most well known for it's food market which was pretty expansive when we visited (although probably only the size of Leeds Market) but the fruit and veg looked great as did the sushi (or at least according to Deb - I enjoyed a nice curry). We also took a few pictures around the city while we were there and found a uniquely named hotel ....

[2 Vancouver galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 03:33 AM | Comments (1)

March 16, 2005

You talkin' to me ?

We've been on a little trip to Victoria over the last few days, a really nice city with gorgeous weather on the tip of Vancouver island - also the provincial capital of B.C. - I never knew ...

We've got a few piccies although they're mostly of the harbour and the Ferry journey and a few of me bird watching - the avian variety :)

Most of the time was spent just wandering around Victoria grabbing a bite to eat and generally relaxing although we couldn't resist one really touristy opportunity - You talkin' to me ! They've got a couple of these places in Victoria - We went to the smaller of the two (hidden away on a side street) as the couple who ran it took time over getting the pictures right.

Victoria is a bit more pricey than Vancouver for food and the accomodation is more limited but still it's not bad value.

On the first night we stayed at the Turtle Refuge hostel which sounds cool but the reality turned out to be slightly different - more on that in the soon to come hostel reviews section but it was cheap at $35 for a private room with TV.

The second night we spent at the slightly swankier Strathcona hotel pretty much in the centre, at $69 it was close to our nightly limit for accomodation but was a nice change from the average hostel fair. It also has it's own themed Hillbilly bar, like the bowling green but with bra's :)

We've got a couple of tips for eating, most places are pretty pricey but the Smitty's down towards the harbour from the Strathcona Hotel was $11 for a steak dinner which was a nice change and there is a great sandwich shop named the 'Bun Shop' (I think) which made good sarnies for about $4, it's just down a side street by the Strathcona.

We got to Victoria on the Pacific Coach which runs from the Pacific station (get the Granville station skytrain eastbound to the science world stop - you can see the station from here) and then bought return tickets to Victoria for $65 each. You can do it cheaper (about half the price by the ordinary bus services) but with the backpacks and everything it was nice just to be able to stow them on the coach and not have to worry about being a foot passenger on the Ferry etc ... The journey took about 4.5 hours in total and you get to navigate between the islands on the ferry and there's plenty of birds to watch.

[2 Victoria galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 01:08 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2005

Otterly Brilliant

The Jeep has now been prized out of our mits and we are now car-less, wandering around Vancouver. We've been here for a few days now, the city is fantastic and the weather is great for the time of year. We've managed to find ourself some cheaper accomodation and it's only $1 for a big slize of pizza so our food bills have gone down considerably :) We've also found a good place for free wireless (well, if you buy a coffee), Blenz Coffee House on Bute St/ Robson St.

Yesterday we took the bus over to the Aquarium in Stanley Park. I'm not a big fan of Zoos etc but these guys did seem to take care of the little critters and lots of the animals had been rescued.

The highlight of my day was seeing the Otters - they just reminded me so much of Rob - in a nice way of course. They feed to satiation and they are very furry! hehe

[2 Aquarium galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 12:20 AM | Comments (4)

March 04, 2005

Yeeeehaaaaaaa !!!!!

We've had a fun time getting from Fernie to Banff - on the way we've seen stripping cowboys, a science museum and lots of Rocky Mountains - Deb said she preferred the first one :)

In Calgary we saw a few of the local attractions, including the Calgary tower and a bit of the local nightlife at 'Cowboys' night club where it was Ladies Night.

We picked up our new car yesterday - we were expecting the bargin basement sub-compact but we got upgraded to a Jeep Liberty Sport - Deb says it's a really big red one.

We're just about to leave the Banff hostel now - but we're taking advantage of the free wireless :)

I need to think up a new poll too. We'll probably post one when we get into Vancouver - any suggestions are welcome ...

[2 Calgary galleries here and here]

[2 Rockies galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 06:12 PM | Comments (5)

Photoshop Friday

We spent the final day in Fernie playing around in the terrain park and thought we'd try and create some pictures like you see in all the snowboarding magazines. We both spent a bit of time taking pics in the park and after Deb applied some photoshop magic this is what we came up with ...

[2 galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 04:54 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2005

Snow Buddies

Here's some pictures of Rob showing off and erm, me just boarding ;) I actually spent some time in the board park this time, mainly taking pictures of Rob of course, and when I finally plucked up the courage to get on a rail, the camerman didn't catch it :(

... and here's a movie of Rob neatly taking a jump :)

[2 galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 02:58 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2005

Snow Patrol

We've found somewhere with a card reader so we can put up our first set of pictures from Fernie ... There's a lot of mountain pictures and not many of us - probably for the best :)

[2 galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 03:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 18, 2005

Bye Bye

Mum's photos from the Airport. Cheers everyone for pitching up, was really nice that you were all there. It was all too early to get sad, but we will miss everyone...

Lovely set of T-shirts though :)

[2 galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at 03:17 AM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2005

Party People !

Well, I had a fantastic time at the leaving party - thanks to everyone who came along, hope you all enjoyed it. We haven't got loads of pictures - we seemed to forget the camera somewhere along the way :)

[2 Galleries here and here]

Posted by robl at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2005

Garmin etrex Legend C arrives

I've finally got myself a GPS reciever, so we can update our position on the map in the sidebar as we travel round the world. I really didn't know too much about GPS receivers when I first started looking round but I had a few criteria that it had to meet :

Also I would have liked :

After searching I originally came up with two (cheap) choices :

I was initially quite excited by the Fortuna as it was pretty much the only unit with both a handheld display and bluetooth (and was available on ebay for less than £100). After some thought I decided I didn't really need bluetooth as I'd probably buy a dedicated sat nav system for the car when I got back and there wasn't any decent GPS software for my P910i. If I was going to use it with the laptop then I didn't really need the bluetooth connectivity as we're not going to be walking with the laptop out :)

This left the Garmin eTrex which more or less fitted my basic criteria but only supported a serial port connection to the laptop - you can buy serial to usb adaptors but I'd read some posts saying they didn't always work (as Garmin Mapsource software only looks for COM ports 1->4). Thats when the technolust hit me - I saw the new Garmin eTrex Legend C ... It was basically like the old Garmin etrex Vista (top end of the garmin outdoor line) with 24Mb of mapping memory but without the compass and altimeter and this one had colour and did autorouting for when you're in the car ! It also supported USB out of the box ...

So £245 later I've got a brand spanking new handheld GPS ...

Here are a few pictures - deb's the photographer (this way I can test the photogallery functionality too !)

Posted by robl at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)