Island Hopping

adventure, backpacking, Couples, Travel

Before we had chance to say Singapore Slinger, we were back in the air on our way to Phuket, one of the many stunning Thai Islands on our itinerary. Having your birthday abroad has it perks, my present from my parents was a two night stay in an Anantara two bedroom villa which was nothing short of insane. The private pool was bigger than most communal pools and for a short time we had a taste of the good life. Although it was a struggle, we did leave the villa and explore the island via bicycles. There were a couple of restaurants we visited to try out the authentic thai dishes. We were also impressed with how friendly the staff were, they were constantly working from morning to night yet the smiles rarely left their faces. 

Relaxing turned to stress when we boarded the ferry over to the next island known as Phi Phi. Unfortunately we arrived at the port in the middle of a torrential downpour, our bags were completely drenched and as the island has no transport we had to walk to our accommodation, it was one of those moments where you could only laugh as you waded through ankle high water. Our rooms were nice enough and built up in the jungle which is of course home to our primate siblings! On mornings we were greeted with monkeys which just sat on our balconies eating the food they stole from the kitchens and one of them was even clever/cheeky enough to attempt to slide the balcony door open in Dan and Leila’s room (thankfully it was locked). People pay good money to visit monkey sanctuaries and we were living in one!
Phi phi was a contrast to Phuket in that the island has more of a party vibe and hence home to the infamous ‘vodka buckets’. The first night we tested these out and watched thai boxing which was really entertaining. There was one organised match and the rest of the fights were fearless audience members who fought to win the prestigious award of… you guessed it, a free vodka bucket!

Feeling a bit hungover the morning after, we woke at 6am to beat the crowds to Maya Bay which has become intensely popular as ‘The Beach’ with Leo DiCaprio was filmed there. A quiet Thai man took us on his very wethered but beautiful long boat to the island and we had four stops including lagoons, snorkelling spots, a Viking cave , and of course ‘the beach’ itself. The day was fantastic and we ended it by once again getting back on the vodka buckets to watch a fire show which verged on madness. At one point, 5 volunteers put cigarettes in their mouths which were then lit by the performers who spun two blazing sticks in circles and got uncomfortably close to the audience member’s precious faces. Only in Phi Phi!

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@broganharker

@jamiedenison1993

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Twenty Four In Singapore

adventure, backpacking, Couples, Travel

After the disastrous start with missed flights and lost luggage, the issues ironed themselves out and we began the next leg of the travels as a four… first stop Singapore! Check in was smooth and the rooms were okay but we did notice an unusual amount of high heeled, short skirted thai ladies dotted around the streets. A bit of research quickly confirmed our suspicions that we were staying in the red light district area! By night we may have been kept up by certain noises and moving beds as it seems our hotel was a sort of meeting point for clients and workers, but by day we really made use of our short time there. 

The second day of Singapore happened to be my (Jamie’s) birthday and what a birthday it was. Universal studios during the day ended with a thai curry, followed shortly by roof top drinks on Marina Bay Sands and a wander through the Supertree Groves to finish, all enjoyed with our friends who travelled 20 hours to join us on our adventure. It is certainly a birthday that will stick in my memory for some time! The following day we also got to meet Dan’s brother at Mambo Beach Club. The place was really cool as it played music throughout the whole day and also had some deals on the drinks. Perfect spot for a sunbathing day!

Although we only had 3 nights there, Singapore was a genuinely beautiful place to visit and a perfect warm up for our Thailand escapades. 

Instagram

@jamiedenison1993

@broganharker

Our Liebster Award!

Couples, Liebster Award, Travel, Travel Tips

Wow! We are delighted to announce that we have been nominated by Wanderfully Living for the Liebster Award! We are really grateful for this award given we have only been blogging for just under 5 weeks now! Please go check out their blogs on Health & Fitness, Travel, Lifestyle and lots of great money saving tips!! 

So THANK YOU Sean & Rhianne for this lovely nomination, we are lovely forward to all your future posts. 



What is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award is an award that exists only on the internet, and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. It’s a great way to discover great blogs by new bloggers and support one and another in the blogging community. 


What are the rules?

  1. Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blogs.
  2. Answer the questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate other bloggers to receive the award and write them several new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Liebster Award logo in your post and/or your blog!


Our nominees…

Gypsy Soul Travelling

Tales Of Elsewhere

The Quiet Traveller


Our answers to Sean & Rhianne’s questions…

What made you start blogging, and how long have you been? 

We first started blogging as a result of some really positive feedback from our family and friends. We only started a small blog on Facebook to keep all of our loved ones up to date with our adventures, then almost everybody was strongly encouraging us to make the blog more public as they were so impressed and entertained by our posts! 

What is your dream career and why?

It’s hard to conceptualise what a ‘dream career’ might look like, one does not truly realise the satisfaction they gain from work until they have immersed themselves in it, we like to think of work in terms of factors, that is, to establish a comfortable living, engage in work which positively affects the outcome of something wider, and to always maintain a healthy work life balance in order to sustain strong connections with not just each other, but also with our families and friends who are there for us.

Where is your favourite travel destination and why?

This was the only question we didn’t agree on so therefore…

Jamie: While our travels are not yet over, my favourite destination has been Sydney… The place has it all: bars, restaurants, beaches, atmosphere, scenery, iconic buildings and best of all the absolutely stunning blue mountains! 

Brogan: This is a tuffy! I have been lucky enough to travel different parts of the world with my family whilst growing up. Each country offering you something different. However in terms of consistency…I would have to say Florida. It has been such a big part of my childhood going to Disneyland etc that I could go there every year and never be bored of it. I’m still a child at heart! 

What is your number one piece of advise  to new bloggers?

Be yourselves. We blog our journey in a way that truly represents the experiences we encounter. From euphoria to disasters, highlight it all, nobody has ‘the perfect trip’ and if everybody cruised through hassle free, how would anybody learn and adapt for the future. Our goal from the start has been to assist other couples who may embark on similar excursions and in order to do that we always  advocate realism! 

If you could go anywhere right now, where would it be and why?

Well right now we are sat on the white sandy beaches of Bryon Bay with the pristine clear blue ocean at arms length, there really is nowhere else we would possibly want to be… 

Tell us about your worst travel experience.

So our first night of the 4 month backpacking adventure in the hostel was going well, nice comfy bed, fairly quiet, not too warm, pretty ideal really. At about 3am Brogan woke me up to inform me that somebody was trying to open our door, I initially brushed it off as noise coming from the other dorms. I soon realised that in fact yes our handle was going up and down and behind the frosty door I could indeed see the outline of a man, my heart really began to race when I realised there seemed to be a crow bar swinging from his hand. As the man in the room, I stepped up to the challenge, testosterone was flowing, my masculinity was at serious stake here, I flung the window open ready to engage in battle and was greeted with a heavily intoxicated german traveller trying to find his room. He also had a stray cat between his legs (giving the illusion of a crow bar). Thankfully he realised the error of his ways, drunkenly apologised, and wandered off to his own room…

Our questions to the nominees…

  • What inspired you to travel?
  • What is your favourite and least favourite travel destination, and why?
  • What are your Top 5 survival items for backpackers?
  • What has been your most creative meal whilst travelling?
  • If money, visas and commitment were no object where would you live, and why?

To our nominees…

If you are able to send a message or email notifying us once your post is live to make sure we don’t miss out on it that would be awesome! 

Jamie & Brogan 

Instagram:

@broganharker

@jamiedenison1993

Top Tips- New Zealand

Couples, new zealand, Travel, Travel Tips

As our journey of the north island has sadly come to an end we thought it may be useful to share our couple’s backpacking tips. 

The Bay of Islands

Must see’s & do’s:

The Rainbow Falls- beautiful scenery and a good picture spot. Pick a sunny day if possible! 

Grab a kayak and paddle your way around the islands. You will come across empty beaches which you can claim for yourselves! 

Take the ferry across to a town called Russell for a little sight seeing.

Places to stay:

We stayed in Pickled Parrot Backpackers in Paihia for our whole duration in the Bay of Islands and would definitely recommend it, not too noisy but enough going on if that’s your scene. 

Places to eat:

£-££ El Cafe- Serve a mixture of food but we got burritos from there which were amazing! Oh and a banana and Nutella milkshake! Cheap and tasty. 

££ Alfresco’s- Great spot for a beach view and amazing food! We went here a couple of times – more of a treat but shouldn’t break the bank too much (try breakfast for a cheaper option). 

When we didn’t eat out and wanted to save a little money we just went to Countdown (Big supermarket chain across NZ) and grabbed some groceries and cooked some meals. If you’re chicken lovers like us, they do some reasonably priced hot chickens ready to go -a useful tip is to go in the late evening and they sell these at big reductions! 

Whitianga

Must see’s & do’s:

Cathedral Cove- AMAZING and completely unspoilt. Definitely a must see! Also involves a pleasant 30 min walk with some incredible views.

Hot Water Beach- Gets very busy around low tide but worth doing for something a bit different. We struggled to create a “hot” pool at first so make sure you ask around to see which areas are hot – Buy a cheap spade before you go as they charge $5 to rent along with a $10 deposit! 

New Chum Beach- Quite an unusual/cool walk to get to but make sure you wear suitable footwear and avoid the mistake we made wearing flip flops! Big waves here so be careful! 

Places to stay:

Here we found that Airbnb was in our favour for cost and quality of facilities. Given we have a car, not all centralised hostels were ideal as they had no parking facilities. We were only a 5 min drive from the town and were very close to a couple of supermarkets and a petrol station. See link below!

http://abnb.me/EVmg/XnZ9k5FfgA

Places to eat:

We thought we would take advantage of the fact we had the kitchen to ourselves and therefore did a relatively big shop at Countdown for most of our lunches and dinners. 

££ LaLa Cafe- Just before digging our hot pool we grabbed a ham and cheese croissant, side salad and relish which was honestly delicious. Quick and easy!

Tauranaga

Must see’s & do’s:

Mount Maunganui- A great walk up to the top! Harder than expected, once we got to the top we got told we went up the easier way…we couldn’t believe it!

Places to stay:

We were fortunate enough to stay with relatives whilst being in Tauranga for the night, however friends have recommended the Pacific Coast Lodge Backpackers, Harbourside City Backpackers or the Seagulls Guesthouse.

Places to eat:

££ Pronto Burgers- After the walk we needed to refuel so grabbed a “healthy burger” (basically the burger without the bun and salad) from Pronto and it was very tasty! We had the peri peri chicken and the satay chicken.

Rotorua

Must see’s & do’s:

Hobbiton Movie Set Matamata- If you are a Hobbit or Lord of the Rings fan, this is definitely up your street! I don’t really want to give any spoilers away but it’s worth the money and the tour guides are amazing, they know everything and anything about the books and movies. Oh, and you get a free beer inside the hobbit pub!

Kerosene Creek- Really cool natural hot springs that can be quiet depending when you go (avoid weekends). It was rainy the day we went but getting into what seemed like a hot tub made up for it!

Geothermal Wonderland- If you are intrigued by the Rotorua smells, very interesting natural complex. Worth a visit but be prepared for the rotten egg stench!

Kuirau Park- Cute little park to have a picnic and dip your feet in the hot pools.

Places to stay:

Kiwi BnB- We decided to try a bnb out to see if there was any difference in terms of experience to backpacking hostels and Airbnb. We found that there definitely was…there were lots of rules we had to follow which we mentioned in our “We smelt it before we saw it” post. Check it out for more details! It was quite a unique experience to say the least, the hosts were incredibly polite and the place was super clean and quiet.

 Places to eat:

££ Indian Star- Incredible food, nice atmosphere. This place was located on Eat Street (a lively food area, lots to choose from) and was worth the 15 minute wait for the table! 

££ Nando’s- If there are any other Nando’s lovers out there then I’m happy to inform you there is a Nando’s just around the corner from Eat Street. Overall we were slightly disappointed with the standard of the food- think glorified KFC?but each to their own.

Taupo

Must see’s & do’s:

Black Water Rafting Waitomo- One of the best things we have done in the North Island for sure!! Not so nice putting on the cold wet suits but once you’re down in the caves in your rubber ring surrounded by glow worms it is all worth it. 

We would rank it in the Top 5 things to do in the North Island without a doubt! 
Huka Falls- You can walk, mountain bike or take a jet boat to see these falls but we decided to mountain bike. We thought we would take on the challenge, and it paid off once we had finished. We really felt as though we had accomplished something. Would recommend for people who are into fitness! P.S be prepared for a bit of saddle sore afterwards…

Tongariro Crossing- We did plan to do this 8/9 hour walk up the mountain but unfortunately with timings and the weather not being on our side we weren’t able to do it! We were gutted about this so if you are thinking about doing this, do plan ahead and check the weather etc. We have only heard good things about this walk.

Places to stay:

Base Backpackers- We booked a double room here which actually came with a private bathroom which was good! The staff were really friendly and didn’t have any problems except one night when we had to be up early and heard the nightclub antics! If you want a quiet location this is not ideal, the complementary ear plugs are a good indicator of what to expect, having said this it’s a really cool hostel. They have entertainment on every day of the week- we took part in the quiz! (Didn’t win I’m afraid but if you did you won a $75 bar tab).

Places to eat:

£-££ Element Bar- This was the bar that was part of the hostel. All meals were under $10 and were surprisingly ok! I’d recommend the veggie lasagne and the chicken burgers. Good place to eat if you don’t want to spend a lot of money and don’t fancy cooking. 

££ Yo Fresh- We grabbed a quick lunch here which consisted of chicken, veg and potatoes! Cheap eat and pretty good.
£-££ Sushi Paradise- This was right next door to Yo Fresh! This was more of your traditional sushi places with lots of options and tasty food. 

Wellington

Must see’s & do’s:

Te Papa Museum- Great place to visit whilst being in Wellington. It’s free and you can spend as little or as long as you want there. 

Empire cinema- Brilliant, large double seating and not huge so more of a cosey feel, bought some ice cream and sweets for the movie and went to see the award winning, Lion- fantastic film!!!

Cable Car- If you are wanting a good view of Wellington and don’t fancy incline walking for an hour or two then take the cable car, it’s cheap and you can walk around the Botanic Gardens.

Cuba Street- Lots of great places to eat down here and a few independent stores which were quite quirky.
Lambton Quay- Good place to shop if you are looking to buy anything.

Places to stay:

Back in Airbnb…we stayed at a place just 10 mins drive from the centre of Wellington. It had the most incredible views and a lovely dog named Ralph. The Owner Chris was a nice, chilled out guy who was more than happy to chat with us and give advice on nz – See link below!

http://abnb.me/EVmg/nG59EBNUgA

Places to eat:

£-££ Satay Village- A great cheap eat for those who like Malaysian food. 

£-££ Best Ugly Bagels- The Chickaboom bagel was probably the nicest bagel we have ever had! $12 may seem a little expensive but you get so much topping, sauce etc with it! 

£ Mojo- All you coffee lovers out there…head to Mojo, it literally has the best coffee going!

££ Dirty Little Secret- We went here for a few drinks, really cool place with some pretty sweet views of Wellington on the rooftop!

And there it is…Some of our tips and recommendations for the north island NZ! Let us know if you find this useful by liking or commenting below. We are happy to answer any questions you have!

#ITTAKESTWOTOPSTIPS 

Jamie & Brogan

Instagram:

@jamiedenison1993

@broganharker

Meet Ralph

backpacking, Couples, Travel

Following our time in Rotarua, we travelled to Waitomo where the glow worm caves are situated, here we booked onto the Black Labyrinth excursion which saw us put on wetsuits, grab a tube, and head 70 metres underground through the caves… We had to scramble under very low roofs, navigate the rapids and jump backwards from some mini waterfalls, at the end the whole group joined together, switched off our head torches and spent 15 minutes gliding underneath the most densely populated area of glow worms which was unreal (probably the highlight of the trip so far). Unfortunately for safety reasons we couldn’t take the go pro down so you’ll have to take our word for it!!

After the caves we drove straight to Taupo for a 3 night stay at Base Backpackers – this is more of a party hostel but still pretty cool! We chatted to a few travellers during our stay and took part in a quiz (which unfortunately we didn’t win). The hostel is built above its own nightclub and the free ear plugs left on the bed when we checked in were a fairly good indicator of what to expect. On the whole it wasn’t as bad as we expected, the final night was too hot to keep the windows shut and we did have a horrific sleep due to loud bass.

During Taupo we mountain biked over 7 miles to the Huka Falls which was a spectacle and then we relaxed in the natural thermal pools which have 4 ‘difficulty levels’ with the top pool at 41 degrees (one of us made it, I’ll leave you to guess who). On the final day we planned to walk the tongariro crossing (8-9 hour hike), however if anybody is familiar with the term ‘saddle sore’ they will realise why this consequence of the previous days biking inhibited this part of the plan! I’ll be honest I got it worse and as our budget is tight, if somebody could send out sudocrem or nappy rash cream that would be fantastic…

After checking out from Taupo, the second long haul drive (6 hours) to the capital city (Wellington) was completed and that’s where we are tonight! We are back in air bnb’s for the time being as it is cheaper than using booking.com around these areas. As you’ll see from the photos there may have been another reason for booking this accommodation *cough* Ralph. The owner of the house Chris is a top guy and was grateful because with the help of @charliedenison we managed to highlight a cyst on Ralph’s paw which he is going to need treating at the vets!

It’s crazy that in three days we will be catching the ferry down to the south Island and as you can see from the map, we have already covered so much distance in such a short space of time!

Jamie & Brogan

Instagram:

@jamiedenison1993

@broganharker

    We smelt it before we saw it

    backpacking, Couples, Travel

    The travels are still in full swing, the wallets are taking a beating, but we are adopting the ‘once in a lifetime’ mentality. Having to unpack and repack our bags on a nearly daily basis is becoming monotonous but life is pretty sweet all things considered… We had the pleasure of staying with relatives on Wednesday for one night in Tauranga in their luxurious house complete with hot tub, pool and two lovely dogs.

    Following lunch, we headed straight out to conquer Mount Maunganui which is on our hosts’ doorstep and is also home to some pretty impressive views! The walk was harder than we anticipated with some steep inclines in places. Once we reaches the top we met two Kiwi gentleman who were intrigued by us Brits and were interested in our plans/our bag of assorted nuts. After enjoying some well earned dinner at the bottom of the mountain (Pronto Burgers) we returned home and called it a day. The following morning we said our goodbyes.

    Whenever we embark on a new chapter in the travelling book we experience mixed emotions… excitement at the prospect of new territory, but apprehension because when you’re on a budget you tend not to be so confident about the conditions in which you will be sleeping each night. It’s fair to say that the accommodation in Rotarua named ‘Hot Spring B&B Kiwi’ has been the most peculiar so far. The building is home to around 5-10 Japanese individuals, with the decor reflecting this. We were greeted by a reserved and quiet lady who showed us around, within minutes the rules were being fired at us… shoes are to be left outside, no eating or drinking in the rooms, no showers past 11pm, clean up signs in every room, perhaps the most amusing of all, a curfew at 10pm, following which the outside doors would be locked! It should be said that the hosts have been immensely polite and the speed at which our dirty plates dissappear is astounding considering we never see these ninjas! One really cool feature is a large walk in hot spring bath which is filled with naturally heated volcanic water generated from underground- definitely the highlight of this stay!

    Now Rotarua is quite unique for one strange reason… there is an intermittent stench of rotten eggs which follows you no matter where you go, this is due to the sulphur, and although quite unpleasant at times is a result of the geothermal activity in the area which is the base of all the interesting activities that happen in Rotarua. In terms of our experiences, where do we start… we have been to a huge natural waterfall bath named ‘Kerosene Creek’ which is that hot it took Brogan a good 15 minutes to get her knees in, visited Waiotapu thermal wonderland which contained a variety of geothermal wonders (Brogan genuinely walked the entire route pinching her nose as the rotten eggs were intense here).Today we visited Hobbiton where The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies were filmed, this was genuinely brilliant as it showcased the extensive efforts that underpinned the production! We learnt that the entire set was taken down after the first trilogy and then rebuilt entirely for the hobbit, Peter Jackson also made one poor soul repaint 240,000 artifical tree leaves a different shade of green as he wasnt satisfied with the first attempt! This afternoon we went on a tree top walk through the Redwoods forest, and tomorrow we are booked onto the Black Labyrinth water rafting tour. This 3 hour adventure through the Waitomo Caves will see us stick on a wetsuit and venture down into the natural currents of the caves on tubes where the famous glow worms live! From here we head down to Taupo and are back in the good old hostels which will, I’m sure entail more interesting tales…

    Jamie & Brogan

    Instagram:

    @jamiedenison1993

    @broganharker