Ella's Blog

What I am most excited about on my big travel

I canít wait to go on my eight month trip around the world. The thing I am most excited about is the fact that we are going to learn about different animals, places and hobbies from different countries. Another thing is that mummy and daddy are going to teach me (I wonít have to be rushed to school or anything like that). I know I am going to have a lot of fun and I canít wait to start

Home Sweet Home

Date: 31/08/2007 | Author: Ella

This is the moment I have been waiting for! All my friends back, my house and my OWN room! Florence has moved in to the spare room and I have a double bed all to myself!
Well, I shouldn't be jibber jabbering on about having my own room. If you're interested I don't miss travelling at all, nope, not at all - but I do kinda miss New Zealand and all the exciting things we did there.
We have only been in England for 2 months but it feels a lot longer. I am very happy to be home!

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We're Coming Home

Date: 10/07/2007 | Author: Ella

I am sooooooo excited! We're on the aeroplane back home. Florence and I have been hyperactive all morning. I find it hard to believe that we're at the end of an amazing 7 and a half month trip. Mum said I have changed and progressed leaps and bounds on this trip, I know I have. I think that I am a really lucky child because not many people get to walk on glaciers, explore the Himalayas, go sailing, sleep on trains, fly through the jungle on zip lines, eat food from loads of different countries and meet lots of people on just one amazing trip around the world!

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McLeod Ganj and the Dalai Lama

Date: 08/07/2007 | Author: Ella

After Manali we stayed in the Norling Guest House just outside Dharamsala. Norling is part of an area called the Norbulingka Institute which is trying to help Tibetan culture stay alive. In Norbulingka they have an art shop which sells special Tibetan wall hangings called Thangkas and other things like that. They are all made in Tibetan work rooms. There is also a Tibetan dolls museum and it was all very interesting.
Not far from the Norbulingka Institute is a place called McLeod Ganj. There are lots of Tibetan refugees who live there because the Chinese people invaded Tibet and tried to take over. McLeod Ganj is also home of the Dalai Lama, who is a really special, holy man. Everyone calls him Your Holiness, that's how holy he is.
On 6th July it was the Dalai Lama's birthday and there was a big long life puja for him and we went there. We got a really good position right at the front. It took a while for the Dalai Lama to come out but when he did, he was being rushed along by all the other monks and there were so many people that I didn't see him at all! After the puja we went to the temple cafe for lunch and ordered a Margarita Pizza. When it came out we took our first bites then scoffed it down - it was the best pizza I have ever tasted (by the way I have never been to Italy!).
The following day we left Norling and moved to another hotel in McLeod Ganj called Chonor House. Our room in Chonor House (called the Songtsen Suite) was REALLY nice and had lots of things from the Norbulingka Institute in it. While we were there Dad met a monk and the monk said "Can you give me English lessons?" and Dad said 'Yes, of course". So he did and Florence and I helped - it was good fun. The monk's name was Kunchok. The views from Chonor were amazing. It is set on a hill overlooking McLeod Ganj. Tibetan Prayer Flags hung in the view and the clouds often visited the balcony. We spent 5 days in the Chonor Guest House and then we were off again - this time to Delhi It was a very long car journey so we slept one night at the Vaseela Resort in Chandigarh - it was very nice. The people who worked at Vaseela were very happy to have us in their hotel that they gave us a free dinner and the owner came to chat to us!
We left Vaseela quite early and were soon in Delhi again but this time it wasn't as hot as when we arrived in India a month before. We stayed in a very big hotel called the Radisson near the airport and it had a huge swimming pool! You wouldn't believe how excited I was the next day as that was the day we were heading home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Trek Two

Date: 01/07/2007 | Author: Ella

We don't normally get anywhere without booked accommodation but that's what happened when we arrived in Manali after our trek. So we had to go through the annoying stages of looking for a hotel.
We went to Vashisht first. I found it quite annoying having to walk up the hill just to find a hotel when I really thought we should stay in Old Manali. Dad and I sat on a crooked wooden bench outside a lady's shop and watched boys playing with cement. We played Os and Xs while Mum and Florence looked for a hotel.
Soon Mum came back and said "No luck, all the hotels are dirty, full of flies and the toilets are disgusting". Mum set off hotel hunting again, I was with her this time. We intended to go to the Mushroom hotel but never found it. When Mum and I got back to where Dad and Florence were sitting, Mum said "Let's go to Old Manali".
When we arrived in Old Manali, we found a very very nice guest house called Red Dragon. It had lovely big rooms but it was full!! We ended up in a place called Veer guest house. It was very nice because there were lots of people to talk to.
While we were there we met lots of Irish people. They included Brenda who was travelling with her boyfriend, Barry, Enda (who was travelling alone), Claire, Carla, Cara and Roisin (who were travelling together).
We spent 4 days lazing around in Veer guest house, sitting in the TV room, hanging out in our rooms and chatting to the Irish girls and boys (mostly Mum). We were still talking about our 3 day trek and how great it was, then one day Mum suggested that we should do another trek. Florence Dad and I all agreed and decided to do it the next day......
We got up very early and got a rickshaw to New Manali and from there we took a car up the Mountains..... while we were driving up the hills the clouds raced us. They won in the end so we had to drive thought them! Our campsite was in the spiti valley. It hardly ever rains here so that means no trees, no wood, which means there is no campfire. The spiti valley is much colder then our last trek so we NEED a fire! Florence and I searched the area looking for wood but the only plant life here is grass and the odd mountain flower or two. Apart from that, rocks.
"I wish we could burn rocks" I think, as I snuggle down in my sleeping bag trying to keep warm that night. I had a really fitful nights sleep. Flo woke me up in the middle of the night saying "I want to go to the other tent with Mum and Dad... Ella wake up". I flopped my crocs on and stumbled over to the other tent, Flo by my side. Florence shone the torch on the tent and Mum saw it and opened the door. We all slept better when we were sleeping together and didn't wake up once.
When we woke up in the morning Mum and Dad felt quite poorly. Mum more, but Dad was pretty bad. After our chat during breakfast we all decided that we should go back to Manali, instead of going any higher.
On our drive back we ducked down through the clouds and we soon in the town again. We drove up to Old Manali and stayed in Veer Guest House again. We spent another three days in Old Manali before we went on another adventure.

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Hilly Himalayas

Date: 24/06/2007 | Author: Ella

We have been talking about doing this the whole trip. Florence and I have been bugging Mum and Dad about when we will do it and what it will be like...........
We took a car to a big pony camp and saw our horse. We had to change our car because we were on a Government road but weren't in a Government car. When we stopped driving, we met our horse and put our bags on it. Florence was very, very excited because Mum said that if we were tired we could ride on it. The horse's name was Sheeru. Our guide, Shalu, took us up the mountain, every step taking us higher and higher. We had a packed lunch so at one poit we stopped at a Nomad's camp. Nomads are people who are unsettled, for example, we are Nomads while we are away because we are unsettled. It was a 3 hour walk to our campsite but we arrived quite quickly. We all felt a bit tired when we arrived so we flopped down on our sleeping bags and read our books. Florence and I got a bit tired after a while so went for an explore on the rocks. We found loads of caves and cool climbing rocks and we had lots of fun! After our play we took Mum and Dad around the area. As evening came it got much colder. Mum, Dad, Florence and I piled ourselves up with huge blankets and coats. We all said that we wanted a fire so we split up (me with dad, Flo with Mum) and looked for wood. Of course, it was difficult, because we were near the very edge off the snow line, right on the tree line, but we found some wood in the end. Our guide helper, Rajul, took a little walk up the mountain to get wood and he always did a good job. That night we snuggled up in our blankets and sleeping bags waiting for the next day to arrive.
When morning came, Shalu, Rajul and Arun (the other guide helper) were already awake. that day we walked to Beas Kund, which means Beas lake. Beas Kund is a dried up lake and only a little bit of it is left. our guide, Shalu got a bit crazy when it came to taking photos. He would grab Dad's camera and take shots of nothing.
When we came back from Beas Kund we all had a nap. I as usual, didn't sleep a wink but after played hide and seek with dad which was extra fun because of all the boulders to hide behind.
The next day we walked back to where we started our trek, stopping at the nomad's camp on the way. This time we had a different horse called Neelu. He was very friendly.
When we finished our trek we had a picnic by a waterfall and soon we were back in Manali away from the Himalayan chill.

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Indian Birthday

Date: 21/06/2007 | Author: Ella

Florence and I were really excited about Florence's birthday. From what Mum had been telling us we were going to stay in a really nice place called Nature Notes with a kids pool, play area, flying fox etc. It was a long journey to get there so we were really tired. When we arrived, it was no way up to our expectations, the kids 'playground' had a plastic slide and a few hammocks - the flying fox wasn't a proper one. It was a bit dull. The garden outside our tiny cottages was quite big, but there was not much to do. Nature Notes is right next to the Beas river which is freezing like the Ganges , We went rafting in it once, our rafting trip was very short but a lot of fun! I wanted to do it again.
Nature Notes is a 45 minute drive from Manali so one day we ordered a car and drove there. We had lunch at a hotel called Jimmy Johnson's Lodge. It was quite expensive but very very good. While we were there we looked at a room because we were already thinking about leaving Nature Notes. The room was lovely, it had it's own kitchen, dining room, living room and had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms!
On our car ride back to Nature Notes I was talking about Jimmy Johnson's all the way and even thought we should spend Florence's birthday there. But when I consulted Florence, she wasn't sure. After thinking for a while, Florence said that she would actually like to stay there. Mum and Dad agreed because if we stayed at Nature Notes any longer we would get bored. I was so glad when we arrived at Jimmy Johnson's and really happy as I scrambled into our soft comfy beds with the first proper duvet for ages.
Finally, Florence's birthday arrived and I was really impatient. I knew a bit about what was going to happen but Mum and Dad did all the decorating. Mum had bought this ridiculous toy dog that was inside a fluffy cake and if you squeezed his hand he would sing 'happy birthday' over and over again
Mum cooked scrambled eggs and beans on toast, in our kitchen, for birthday breakfast. We opened presents and played games. When lunch time came, Florence and I dressed up in the Indian dresses that Florence had for her birthday and we had a lovely lunch. After lunch we ate a big chocolate cake - I was the best cake I had ever had, and it was covered in chocolate sauce. We shared it with the other people in the cafe because it was so big.
We also went for a wander in Manali. Mum told everyone it was Florence's birthday. After our explore we clambered into a rickshaw and drove to Vashisht, a town just a 10 minute drive from Manali. Mum and Dad had promised Florence and I an ankle bracelet so we stopped in a shop and looked at them. Mum told the man in the shop it was Florence's birthday and he gave Florence an Indian yoga bell as a present!
We had another day in Manali before we had to leave my beloved Jimmy Johnson's Lodge. I'm definitely much happier now!

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India at Last

Date: 15/06/2007 | Author: Ella

We arrived in Delhi at 9.30 at night - it was 44 degrees. We stayed at the Master Paying Guest House. I really really wanted a cold shower but the water tank was on the roof in direct sunlight so I had no chance of cooling down. Luckily, we had an air conditioned room but it broke in the middle of the night so we had to boil in our sleep.
We woke up quite early and went to the train station. It was really busy and at one point a man told Dad that he needed to do something about our tickets. It didn't take us long to realise that the man who had taken dad away was trying to make us miss our train. When Dad finally came back we had to sprint to our platform.
We all felt a bit happier as we climbed in to our air conditioned train. Florence and I (as usual) drew and read.
When we got to Haridwar we felt cooler than when we were in Delhi because it is further north. We waited a while for the car that was supposed to pick us up. We were still waiting after an hour. Florence and I were getting bored and hot so Mum eventually found another car to drive us. A man said the car was big and had AC but when it arrived it was smaller than we expected and had no air conditioning! We were disappointed but accepted it because we needed to leave.
Mum didn't always trust the driver so she kept saying 'Rishikesh, are you sure this is the right way?' but the man didn't speak English very well so he didn't reply.
At one point I fell asleep and was woken by Mum saying 'He's taken us the wrong way - wake up'. When I woke up properly we lugged our bags out of the car and pulled them across to where we wanted to go. We crossed a pedestrian bridge and took another short taxi drive up to our hotel. Our hotel was called Peasants Cottage.
Our arrival in India (as you have probably guessed) was not a very welcoming one but it was good after coming to Rishikesh.
We took a rickshaw (an Indian version of a tuk tuk) to town. When we got there we saw loads of cows, they were just running around loose. Cows are worshipped here though so people don't get irritated if one walks through your picnic! After exploring Rishikesh we went to walk by the river Ganges. The Ganges is a holy river running through India, it comes from the Himalayas so is really cold. Some ladies offered us some little baskets with flowers and incense sticks for us to make a puja (offering or prayer). We lit them and set them off down the rapids in the Ganges. At one point I was exploring the steps leading down to the Ganges (ghats) and slipped and fell in the river. Obviously I didn't stay in long because it was freezing!
Lots of people come to Rishikesh to do yoga and we did it as well. Rishikesh is a busy, crazy town in a funny way. After Rishikesh we headed to Manali. It was a 2 day drive so we stopped in a town called Shimla, in a guest house called Little Inn. Little Inn was horrible.
Wow, what a mad way to arrive in India!

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Happy in Hanoi

Date: 08/06/2007 | Author: Ella

Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam. It seemed much busier than Saigon. We stayed in the Hanoi Paradise Hotel.
My favourite restaurant in Hanoi was a tapas bar called La Salsa. We were up early one morning so we took the opportunity to go down to Hoan Kiem lake. When we got there we saw hundreds and hundreds of locals exercising. They do this because it keeps them fit. Most of the people were doing solo exercising but some were in groups. It was really funny watching everyone doing different jogging and stretches - some people weren't even doing proper exercises.
While we were in Hanoi we went to the water puppet show. The water puppet show was (as you have probably guessed) a puppet show but in water. it was really funny and all about what Vietnamese people do in the countryside.
Near the end of our stay in Hanoi we moved from the Hanoi Paradise Hotel to a lovely lady's house, called Kate. Kate is from Australia and has 3 boys, their names are Martin (11), Benjamin (13) and Thomas (15). Kate's house is huge and has a swimming pool on the roof! One our second day while staying with Kate she kindly let us go to her club with a swimming pool. Mum had a wax and we played there.
I really, really enjoyed staying at Kate's house and also the Hanoi Paradise Hotel. It was a lovely way to finish our time in Vietnam.

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Halong Bay

Date: 05/06/2007 | Author: Ella

Halong Bay is a big area of quite shallow water. There are loads of rocky limestone islands which make Halong Bay really pretty.
We cruised around Halong Bay on the Lagoon Explorer. It was one of the nicest boats in Halong Bay. The Lagoon Explorer slept 7 people, us and 3 other ladies from Australia, Susan, Leonie and Kate. Florence and I had our own cabin with our own bathroom.
While we were there we went to two caves, the first one was a cave with water in. A man took us in a small motor boat through a cave which was quite small (the top was about half a metre above our heads) in to a completely enclosed lagoon. It was really pretty so we stayed for a while to listen to birds and other things. The other cave we went in was much bigger and out of the water, you had to go up steps to get there. In the big cave we saw a rock the shape of a finger pointing, another the shape of a lady Buddha praying, cauliflower shaped rocks and loads of stalactites and stalagmites. The only disappointing thing was we saw a Vietnamese girl writing her name on a rock!
Another thing we did was to go to Titop island, we walked up 420 steps to the view point at the top.
Halong Bay was soooo beautiful and, although there were lots of tourists boats, I found it very peaceful. Not even a rubbish karaoke singer on the boat next door spoilt my fun!

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Date: 01/06/2007 | Author: Ella

Sapa is a town up in the mountains in the north of Vietnam. It is a bit touristy but not that busy. We stayed in the Royal View Hotel. It was very nice and we had a rather large room with a big balcony.
You can do lots of walks around Sapa. We went on three walks. Cat Cat is a village and has a waterfall in it. While we were walking we met a little girl called Chu. She was selling things and followed us right around Cat Cat. After the walk we were picked up by a jeep. Chu said she was going to walk to Sapa later on but because we were so fond of her we took her to Sapa in the jeep.
The next day we went on another walk to Lao Chai and Ta Van. Ta Van is where Chu lives. This time we had a guide and her name was Milance. She was our first girl guide ever. After the walk we took the jeep back to Sapa and played with Chu. While we were playing Chu introduced us to her friend Ha who is fifteen. There was an English bar across the road from the hotel and we went there a lot. Chu, Ha and some other kids were always waiting to play outside. We mostly played hide and seek, what's the time Mr Wolf, grandmas footsteps and chase.
There are four different tribes that live in the Hoang Lien Mountains. They are the Red Dzao, Black Dzao, H'mong and Tay. On our third day we went on another walk. This time we went to a Red Dzao village called Ta Phin. We had Milance as our guide again. Ta Phin had a cave in it so we went inside. But not too far because we didn't have a torch.
Mummy took lots of photos of Chu, Florence and I. We printed some of the photos and gave them to Chu.
We took the night train back down to Hanoi, the capital city. I had an amazing time in Sapa.

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Date: 27/05/2007 | Author: Ella

We took the day train to Hue. Our hotel in Hue had the biggest room we've stayed in since Bangkok. It was called the Saigon Morin and is one of the poshest hotels in Hue.
Florence and I loved taking daily cyclo trips around town. A cyclo only fits two people so we need two cyclos for the four of us. It causes a bit of argument because the cyclo drivers want more money.
While we were in Hue we went to the Citadel. The Citadel is the old city but it got bombed to pieces by the Americans. Naughty Americans. They are rebuilding the Citadel again and it looks very pretty.
I enjoyed staying in Hue but I am excited about what happens next.

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Tailor Town

Date: 24/05/2007 | Author: Ella

Hoi An is an amazing city.
We were staying in Long Life Hotel (also known as Thanh Xuan). It was a lovely place with a swimming pool and great staff.
Hoi An is the city of tailors. It as up to 1000 of them that copy and sell you clothes. The tailor shop we went to was called YALY. It was very big and quite posh. There were three girls in YALY that we really liked. Their names were Mimosa, Gloria and Mary. Mimosa helped Mummy, Florence and I. Mary helped Dad and Gloria gave Florence lots of cuddles. I had my favourite trousers copied, my favourite dress copied and some clothes made for a special occasion.
Hoi An's local beach was called Cua Dai. It was lovely with the perfect sized waves. We were eating lunch in a cafe called 'Man' and on one trip to the toilet Florence spotted some tiny puppies. We took a look and a man said we could hold them. They were only five days old and didn't have their eyes open yet. While we were on the beach we spotted an island called Cham Island. It looked really nice so we asked Hoa and Fhi (some nice ladies that worked at Thanh Xuan) if there was anywhere to stay on the island. They said there was no accommodation, only tents. So we made a plan to stay there and arrived on Cham Island the next day.....
.....it was an hour boat ride to Cham Island. We camped on Chong Beach. It had lovely cooling sea and was a nice long beach. The tent was a perfect size for four people but was quite uncomfortable because there were hard grass mats underneath the sheets. I was the first to wake up so I went for a 6 o'clock swim when dad woke up.
It was paradise.

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Whale Island Resort

Date: 17/05/2007 | Author: Ella

We arrived early in Nha Trang. We had slept overnight on a sleeper train. It was the first time I had ever slept overnight on a train. We were taken in a car to a little jetty and from there we were taken to Hon Ong Island. Hon Ong Island is just off the coast near Whale Island. We were in a little closed off bay on a very nice beach. Our resort was called Whale Island Resort. We had the biggest bungalow I have ever stayed in. On our first day we went on a snorkelling trip and saw lots of clown fish and sea urchins. I loved watching fish just cruising past and hiding in coral. I would love to be a fish. On the way back from our snorkelling trip we stopped at a beach to pick up some crab for dinner. We had a drink and soon heard a man singing. He was doing karaoke. They showed us their list of songs and there were a lot in English. We had a lot of fun fighting over the microphone and singing some of our favourite songs.
Daddy and I rented out a catamaran to go sailing. We sailed right around Hon Ong Island and had a great time. The next day we took the catamaran out again and we accidentally capsized. In case you don't know capsizing is when the boat tips over onto it's side. I slipped into the water and soon some men came out and helped daddy to get the boat back up the right way.
The next day we went snorkelling again but this time in the bay. We saw more clown fish and sea urchins but also saw jellyfish. Our bay has some artificial reefs which are made from pots for the fish to hide in. Soon the pots turn into reefs because underwater plant life likes to be with fish.
I went scuba diving with the divemaster and dad. We saw lots of different sea creatures. We saw the Tomato Clownfish, Sea Cucumbers, Indian Cushion Star Fish, Blue Star Fish, Butterfly Fish, Tubeworms and different types of anemone. It wasn't that different from snorkelling except that you can get really close to fish and other creatures.
Hon Ong Island was one of my favourite places so far in Vietnam.

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Motorbike Mayhem

Date: 12/05/2007 | Author: Ella

The first thing we noticed while driving to Saralinh's house in Saigon was the major traffic everywhere. There were more motorbikes on one road than I had ever seen. I think I know why motorbikes are so popular here. It's because they are a cheap way of getting around and if you have got one, who needs a car? A funny thing about Saigon and other places we have been to in Asia is that families seem to be able to squeeze all four or five members onto their motorbike at once!
We arrived at Saralinh's house. It is a large 'L' shaped house around a huge courtyard. Saralinh was at school and her mum was at work so we sat down nearby for a drink until their maid arrived from school with Saralinh on the back of her motorbike. Saralinh has two maids to clean and cook for her. When they arrived we all went in and started to play with all her toys. Her house was full of toys and if you search around long enough you can find everything you need for a perfect game. Because she had guests Saralinh was allowed to take two days off school. On one of those days we took her to Dam Sen Water Park. The are loads of water-parks around Saigon and Dam Sen is one of the biggest. I really enjoyed going to Dam Sen Water Park because it has great slides, cool pools and things to do that don't involve water.
We also went to a place called Cu Chi Tunnels which was all about the history of Vietnam during the war when they tricked the American soldiers. The tunnels were so small that I could only just fit through if I crouched down. The tunnel entrances were so small and well hidden that the Americans had no idea where the Vietnamese soldiers (guerrillas) were going or coming from.
We had a fab time in Saigon and it was nice to stay in a house and not a hotel.

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Phu Quoc Island

Date: 08/05/2007 | Author: Ella

We got to Phu Quoc Island on a big ferry. We stayed at Mai House on Long Beach on the west coast of Phu Quoc. Mai House was a really nice place to stay. While we were there we met a seven year old girl called Saralinh who had French parents but was born in Vietnam. She could speak Vietnamese, French and English. She was a nice girl to play with. Saralinh's home town was Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City and because it was our next place to go and we were friends we were invited to stay in Saralinh's house!
On one of the days on Phu Quoc Island it started to rain so we decided to go to the other side of the island to see if it wasn't raining there. Just as we left the sun came out so it brightened up our trip to the other beach. The other beach was called Bai Sao and was much prettier than Long Beach. It had really white sand, absolutely no waves and wasn't at all busy. I had a great time on Phu Quoc Island and wish I could have stayed longer.

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Mekong Delta

Date: 05/05/2007 | Author: Ella

We arrived in Vietnam in a boat down through the Mekong Delta. For those of you who do not know a delta is an area where a river spreads out into the sea in a delta/triangle shape. There were lots of things to do and see on the Mekong Delta and we did most of them. First of all we went to a fish farm. It breeds lots of cat fish. A funny thing about the fish farm was when you threw a handful of fish food to the fish they would all leap out of the water fighting over the food. Secondly we went to a crocodile farm. It was cool watching big and small crocodiles eating, sleeping and swimming. We also went to an incense stick making place. We saw how they made them. They used the sap of a tree for the nice smelling bit that you burn wrapped around a thin bamboo stick. It may sound easy but is wasn't. All of us had a go and we were all useless at it. After that we saw a rice factory. It was nice to see how they did it. The sacks of rice came in trucks from the paddy fields and there was a machine to take the husk/shell off it and lots of other machinery to polish it and put it in bags. Then, we went to see where they make rice noodles. I was ill so Daddy and Florence went instead. They took lots of photos so that Mummy and I didn't miss out.
Next we went to a monkey bridge. A monkey bridge is a log going across a river. It had a handrail so that it is easier to get across. A funny thing happened when we got to the other side. We saw a man cycle up to the monkey bridge, put his bicycle on his shoulder and walk across without hanging on to anything. After that we arrived at the floating market. Because I was ill I was asleep in our boat and I was only half awake as I saw our boat pull alongside another to buy some juice! Visiting the floating market was the last thing we did on the Mekong Delta but we didn't leave straight away. We stayed for our last night in Hung Homestay, right on one of the delta canals. If you do not know, a homestay is where you stay in someone's house and they feed you. Hung homestay have built some extra bungalows on the canal to sleep in. It was nice staying there because when we walked down the road loads of local kids followed us. We also went to a school in their village and all the kids thought we were from another planet when they saw us. They were all doing long division and some of the kids were younger than me.
We had a great three days on the Mekong Delta

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Phnom Penh

Date: 01/05/2007 | Author: Ella

Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia and another city on the Mekong River. In Phnom Penh we stayed in a hotel called the Scandinavian Hotel. It had a pool so we were happy. Our favourite restaurant in Phnom Penh was the Green Vespa. It was an old Irish pub which served great sausages (I love sausages)!
While we were in Phnom Penh we went to the Royal Palace. The Royal Palace is full of temples and Buddha statues. We also went to the Killing Fields. The Killing Fields are a big tourist attraction just outside Phnom Penh. Loads of people were killed there (when my mum was a girl) because if the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot regime. Lots of people were buried there and we saw lots of skulls in a Stupa. There were even bones and clothes sticking out of the ground. It is a sad place. A sad thing about the Pol Pot regime is that if you had any sign of intelligence or a thinking mind you would be killed and buried somewhere like the Killing Fields.
In Cambodia the people are Buddhists and they believe in reincarnation. Reincarnation means that when you die you get cremated (burnt) and you come back to earth as a plant or an animal or another person. Many Cambodians believe if you are just buried you will not be reincarnated.
Phnom Penh is a sad place but the people are always smiling and happy.

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Beaches at Last

Date: 28/04/2007 | Author: Ella

We were going to miss the beaches in Cambodia but after a hot Angkor, we changed our minds and went to the beaches at Sihanoukville.
We arrived late in the afternoon at Serendipity Beach. It was really nice, perfect sized waves for me and we were staying in rooms right on the beach at Malibu House. I was very pleased with our choice of accommodation.
When we woke up in the morning, Mum and Dad were already having a swim. We went outside and saw what they saw, rubbish! The beach looked very different from the day before - plastic bags and bottles everywhere. We still went for a swim but further up the beach where there wasn't much rubbish. I do think that people who own the bungalows should clean the beach in front of them and then the beach would be much much cleaner. We did pick up a lot of rubbish but it would have taken us a long long time to clean the beach.
In the evening we went to one of the beach restaurants. While we were havign dinner, one of the ladies who worked there, called jenna, started doing fire poi. It was very cool and Florence took lots of photos. I had a go but was afraid my dress might catch on fire. Outside Jenna's cafe were a few Cambodian boys playing. Florence and I got carried away and started playing with them. We played hide and seek and rock, paper, scissors. It was a lot of fun and was good because you can play those games without needing to speak the same language.
The next day we moved to Otres Beach, which was much cleaner. There were only a few places to stay on the beach and we stayed at Queen Hill Resort and had a bungalow on the hill looking over the beach. When we first went in for a swim me and Florence started yelping that we had been bitten. There were little red dots covering us. We ran to the shower to put fresh water on them. Mummy knew what they were - sea lice! They are little translucent sea mosquitos that travel with the currents and they itch for a really long time. Mummy started crying because she thought it was her fault (but it wasn't). After the sea lice itches had gone away we went on a boat and went snorkelling and swimming off an island not far from our beach - no sea lice there. I have always loved snorkelling, but here most of the coral was dead, there were lots of fish though and we had a lovely time.
The next day we went to Bamboo Island, which is just a short boat ride from Serendipity beach. bamboo Island was really nice. We were staying in the biggest bungalow (with 2 beds) at Bamboo Island Resort. The bungalow was nice, the sea was great and the restaurant had good food - it was paradise. We went snorkelling there and saw live coral and lots of fish. There were also lots of sea urchins. if you don't know, sea urchins are black balls with black spikes coming off them. You really don't want to get a sea urchin spike in you because it hurts a lot and the spikes are hollow so lets lots of air in to the wound.
We had a great time on Bamboo Island. It was the best beach we went to in Cambodia - I wish we could have stayed there more than 1 night!

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Cambodian Kids

Date: 24/04/2007 | Author: Ella

We arrived in Cambodia and it was hot and sticky. It was 8.30 in the morning and we headed to the Freedom Hotel in Siem Reap. Siem Reap is a very popular town because it is very close to the famous Angkor Temples. Most of the temples are over 1000 years old. The most amazing thing about Angkor is that more than a million people lived here when London was just a small town and everyone lived in huts.
To me the temples weren't the best part of Angkor, the children selling things were. At the top of Pre Rup, the temple where we went to see sunset, there was a little boy called Chai. He spoke really good English and surprised us by saying 'lovely jubely' and 'top banana'. He said he learnt those words from tourists.
On one of the mornings at Siem Reap, Mum and Dad dragged us out of bed at 4.30am to go to Angkor Wat (the biggest temple) for sunrise. It wasn't really that interesting because there were so many clouds. The funniest thing was watching loads of tourists, skipping around taking pictures of nothing but a white sky. After exploring Angkor we went to a cafe for breakfast. As we got out of our tuk tuk about 5 kids were there waiting to sell us things. By the time we got to the cafe, 20 kids were following us!!!! Florence and I like to give things to kids so I asked the smallest one to come inside and gave her my little leather bracelet. We also gave the kids lots of pictures and notes. I made some little paper boxes too. They also gave us things like notes and postcards, it was a lot of fun.
We also went to an orphanage in a village near the temples. It was cool watching them learn English, they were learning maths words like minus, plus and different numbers. They were also doing some sums. When the kids have finished school, they take the chairs and desks away and make their beds in the classroom.
The Angkor temples were amazing but not as amazing as the Cambodian kids.

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Vang Vieng and Vientiane

Date: 19/04/2007 | Author: Ella

In Vang Vieng we stayed in a place called Ban Sabai Riverside Bungalows. The actual town of Vang Vieng is not very nice, eg full of TV bars and unwelcoming cafes, but the surrounding mountains are beautiful. The most popular things to do around Vang Vieng are caving and tubing, we did both of them. One of the caves we went in had a river running through it so we got in our tubes/rubber rings and paddled our way to the end - about 300 metres. We went to 3 other caves, 2 of them were really big and the other had a giant Buddha and an elephant shaped rock in it.
After caving we got in our tubes again and started floating down the Nam Song River. While we were floating down the river we saw lots of swings on which you had to hold on to a bar and jump off a ledge and at some point while swinging you have to let go and fall in to the water! I didn't go on the swing but lots of people did. Caving and tubing was brilliant fun.
After Vang Vieng we went to Vientiane (Laos' capital city). We stayed in a posh hotel called Settha Palace Hotel. It had a great swimming pool and our room was lovely, Mum and Dad had a 4 poster bed.
On our second day we had to get up at 4.30 in the morning to go to the airport. The hotel took us there in their proper London taxi.
Next stop, Cambodia.

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Laos New Year

Date: 15/04/2007 | Author: Ella

For Laos New Year, Khone and Koune drove us in their jeep to the Mekong River to get a boat across to the other side. We did this to make a sand stupa. Normal stupas are big cone shaped tombs that you see in temples but sand stupas are slightly smaller and Laos people traditionally make them next to the Mekong River for good luck at New Year. Another traditional thing you do after making a stupa is walk right into the river and wash away all your bad luck. I didn't mind walking into the freezing cold Mekong because I was already soaked from the jeep ride into town.
Nearly all over South East Asia they celebrate New Year with water fights! People start selling gigantic water guns and people line up on the roads with big buckets of water and soak everyone who passes by. It was a three day festival and I thought Laos New Year was the best water fight you could ever have.
We had a great two weeks in Luang Prabang.

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Luang Prabang

Date: 13/04/2007 | Author: Ella

After our journey down the Mekong we arrived in Luang Prabang and met with our hostess, Khone. She drove us in her mini van to Ban na Dat, which is a little village just outside Luang Prabang. When we arrived at Khone and Khune's Guest House, Florence and I were filled with joy because we noticed that there were 4 dogs and 4 cats living there. The 3 puppies were called Max, Owen and Tim and their mum was called Ikashu. There was a ginger cat called Tiger, a black cat called Creepers and a mum and daughter cat both called Chicken! My favourites were Tim and Tiger. Khone and Khune have a son called Fly, he is 8 years old and speaks quite good English, it was fun playing with him.
While we stayed there we visited lots of temples. The first temple we went to was Xieng Thong. That one was my favourite out of all of them but the other ones I still liked. There are lots of monks in Luang Prabang. Monks are boys and men who devote their lives to the Buddha. They shave their heads and wear bright orange robes.
We had great fun kayaking down the Nam Pa. They kayaks were not plastic like normal kayaks, they were inflatable. There were a couple of big rapids on the river and because my guide was so heavy on the back, he weighed the back down, while I was flying in the air on the front over the rapids! On one of the rapids my guide fell off the kayak in to the water. I didn't see it but my Dad did, he said it was very funny! I had a very nice time kayaking.
Another really fun thing we did in Luang Prabang was going to the Kuang Xi waterfall. The best thing about the waterfalls was being able to swim at the bottom of them. It was very cold but it cooled us right down. In one of the pools there was a plank to jump off. The Kuang Xi waterfall pools were all different shapes and sizes and I really liked swimming in them.
There was also a waterfall near Khone and Khune's guest house called Nadear waterfall. We only went there once but we enjoyed making dams in it.
But all of that was nothing compared to the thing we were staying in Luang Prabang for, Laos New Year..............

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Two Days on the Mekong

Date: 02/04/2007 | Author: Ella

After 2 nights in the jungle, we decided to have some boat time so we booked the Luang Say river cruise. It started in Huay Xai and was full of old people, except for a couple, Mark and Erin, we had met at the Gibbon Experience. Florence and I wanted to do some drawing so we sat down at a table at the back of the boat and drew. Soon the cook on the boat decided to come over and see what we were doing. Laos used to be a French colony so many Laos people can speak French and the cook could. She gave us a French lesson by drawing something and saying what it was in French. She got very attached to us.
After a while we arrived in a Laos hill tribe village. It was very sweet, it had a communal washing area and a little blacksmith. When our guide, called Tee, was explaining things to our group one of the old ladies tried to make him pronounce rice properly. Many Asian people find it difficult to pronounce their s's and c's and she really embarrassed him. I thought she was very rude.
We soon arrived in our accommodation for the night. It didn't have a swimming pool or playground but we wouldn't have had time to use them because we were only having dinner there, sleeping there and having breakfast there. I wish we could have stayed for another night because the beds were so comfy!
The boat was going to reach our destination, Luang Prabang, on our second day, but we stopped at two more places on the way. The first place was another hill tribe village. I didn't want to go up but dad said it was very interesting because there were lots of people weaving and making clothes. The second place we went to was the 'Cave Of a Thousand Buddhas'. That is only one of it's names, it is also known as Pak Ou caves. We gave some offerings to the Buddha and left. On the way out a family was selling birds in cages and you were meant to buy them to set them free - it is considered lucky. I felt so sorry for them - there was one cage with 3 birds in and they were all squashed together so we bought them. They couldn't fly that far. The first one got to land and the second one fell in the water. The third one couldn't fly at all so we kept it on the boat, fed it and gave it some water so it would be able to fly from Luang Prabang. Before we arrived there I was showing it to some ladies on the boat and it escaped from my hands and fell in to the water. I really hope that it's OK because it was rather far away from land when it fell in.............
We were not far from our destination, soon we were there, Luang Prabang, a Buddhist fairy tale.

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Clip and Zip

Date: 31/03/2007 | Author: Ella

The border of Thailand is the Mekong River (it is the 10th longest river in the world) so we had to take a small boat across to Laos. We stayed one night in the border town of Huay Xai in Laos but not for long, soon we were at The Gibbon Experience...........
Gibbons are monkeys and black gibbons live deep in the jungle in northern Laos so we had to walk quite a long way before we could reach their habitat.
The only way to get around the jungle and to the treehouses (where we are sleeping) was by zip lines (zip lines are like flying foxes but with harnesses, not seats). I was the first person to go on the zip line and I was a bit scared because the first treehouse was a long way away but it was easy! After my first zip, they were all great fun! The first day I only went zipping with guides but by the 2nd day I was zipping with dad. I wanted to practice and be able to go by myself but unfortunately we were only staying for 2 nights (that's the limit) so I couldn't.
Zipping around the jungle was sensational and everybody would think it was fun. One of the best things about the Gibbon Experience was sleeping in treehouses - amazing but kind of scary. I'm glad there wasn't a storm while we were there. On the ground, 60 metres below our treehouse, lived a pig who ate all our leftovers and our toilet waste, which was really funny but a great way of getting rid of all of our rubbish!
We had the best time ever and I mean ever. We have done exciting things before but this was amazing!

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Chiang Mai

Date: 28/03/2007 | Author: Ella

We flew to Chiang Mai and arrived at 2pm. We were staying at a place called Lanna Mantra just outside Chiang Mai. It had a very nice swimming pool overlooking the River Ping so we spent the afternoon keeping cool in the pool and hanging out by the river with our school books. For dinner we went to a nice restaurant near the Ping River called the Riverside. I enjoyed going there and liked the food very much.
While we were staying in Chiang Mai we visited a place called the Elephant Conservation Centre where you could see an elephant show, go elephant riding and there was an elephant hospital. The elephant show was really really cool and the elephants bowed, played instruments and painted pictures. The pictures were really good. I really liked elephant riding even though we have done it before. This time it was really cool because the elephants went through creeks and rivers. At the elephant hospital it was very similar to a human hospital. The sick elephants had either broken legs or infected parts of their body that had to be looked after. One elephant had even stood on a land mine!! Also at the elephant hospital there was a baby elephant who had been born on the 7th of March (20 days ago). He was so cute but had been abandoned by his mother and had a step mother who was looking after him.
The driver that was normally taking us around was a lovely man called Pong and when we had finished our time in Chiang Mai he took us all the way to Chiang Rai. It is a long way so we stopped at a few places. We stopped at a hill tribe villiage which was really nice but I felt a little bit sad for them. because they were being made to be tourist attractions so they couldn't get on with their life. It's like going to a human zoo, which is very sad. We also went to a glistening white and silver temple that was so beautiful. We were allowed to go inside so we took our shoes off and said a prayer to the Buddha then went out because it was getting late. When we arrived in Chiang Rai it was very late so we went to bed as soon as possible. We were staying in a place called Laluna Resort which had a very nice swimming pool but apart from having a swim we didn't do much there and soon we were on our way to the border, to Laos.

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3 Nights in Bangkok

Date: 24/03/2007 | Author: Ella

When we arrived in Thailand it was the middle of the night but it was boiling.
We woke up at Centre Point Silom a big hotel near the Chao Phraya river. We got up really early to beat the heat to the main things we were doing that morning.
Seeing as we were near the river we did lots of river activities like taking the express boat to loads of exciting places on the river. We went to Bangkok's biggest temple, Wat Pho. There were lots of pictures and statues of the Buddha. A lot of people in Thailand (and other countries we are going to in Asia) are Buddhist. After the temple we found an air conditioned massage centre to cool us down. We all had our massages in the same room - it was great to get out of the heat and relax.
After our massage we took a tuk tuk through the busy roads of Bangkok to the Grand Palace (a tuk tuk is a half motor bike/half quad bike taxi). The Grand Palace is where the King of Thailand lives. By the time we arrived it was really hot so we decided to go swimming instead.
The next morning we went to a big market called Jatujak. We got to the market in these fabulous trains called Skytrains. They are called Skytrains because their tracks are high in the air. The carriages are air conditioned so it is a pleasant ride and you can see the whole of Bangkok from up there. In the middle of the market was a pet area and all you could hear was tweet, squeak, ruf, miaow over and over again. It was a mean way to sell pets because they were all crammed in small boxes and cages and they must get very hot. One of the most cruel things about the pet market was that the smaller animals like rabbits had clothes on! If I was a billionaire I would have bought them all!
Also that day we went to a very old house then had another swim.
I loved Bangkok, it is a huge city but I'm not sure that I would like to live there!

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A Week in Sydney

Date: 21/03/2007 | Author: Ella

We are now in Sydney again but this time we're here things didn't go quite so well.......
............we first arrived in Sydney quite excited, looking forward to the Beach House at Collaroy which was our next spot to stay. But after one night Mum started to complain but I didn't blame her. Our room was small, dirty, dark and was smelly so we moved. This time the room was bigger and had a fridge but it still wasn't great. To make matters worse the fire alarm went off at about 5.30 in the morning, so we had to rush out of bed and assemble with the other people outside the Beach House. Luckily, it was only a mosquito coil but it made us so grumpy as we went back to bed. But that was the final straw for Mum so as soon as we woke up properly we packed our bags and were on our way to Manly Lodge right next to the beach in an area called Manly. It was much more interesting there. We went to the beach every morning before breakfast. We went to play in fountains whenever we got really hot, but the most exciting thing about Manly was our big sister Jess visited us with her best friend, Beck, and her boyfriend, Matt. They stayed with us in Manly Lodge for one night and it was sad to see them go because I don't regularly see her.
While we were in Manly the Harbour Bridge had it's 75th anniversary so there were lots of activities around the harbour. One of the activities was the working boat race and Florence, Mum, Dad and I were in it! It was just a race around the harbour but it was lots of fun.
Our week in Sydney quickly came to an end but before we left, Mum and Dad took us for a special treat to Luna Park. Luna Park is the best theme park in Australia. We had loads of fun there but soon had to leave and go to the airport to take the aeroplane to Thailand!

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90 Mile Beach and Sand Dunes

Date: 10/03/2007 | Author: Ella

90 Mile Beach is a beach that is actually closer to 90km but that is still very long for a beach! It is a very special beach because you can drive all the way along it but only in a four wheel drive car like ours. Our car has a sun roof so as many times as I could, I would stick my head out of it and feel the breeze! The sea was the wildest sea I have ever seen, you wouldn't be able to launch boats in to it at all. There were 5 gigantic waves in each set and looking at it even made you shiver.
At the end of 90 mile beach we turned around and started heading back. We were looking for Te Paki stream which is where you can drive off the beach. As we were driving down the stream we had to close the sun roof as lots of water splashed into the car. As we approached the end of Te Paki stream we could see gigantic sand dunes getting closer and closer. We hired boogie boards so we could toboggan down the dunes. The highest sand dunes were as the tall as the Eiffel Tower but that meant that we had to climb right to the top before we could get our reward of sliding back down. It was really hard climbing up such steep slopes but it was worth the walk when we started zooming back down. Unfortunately, my boogie board went over some rough sand which made the board fly in the air and me get a face full of sand!! After spending ages cleaning the sand out of my face and ears I managed to slide the rest of the way down. The smallest slopes were still quite big and great fun. We had races down them and I won the most!

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Bay of Islands

Date: 05/03/2007 | Author: Ella

We stayed in Rocky Point for three nights. Then we headed north to the Bay of Islands. We were staying in a house close to the beach at Tapeka Point just outside a town called Russell. The beach was not a very big one but if it was in England it would be absolutely crowded. Of course, this is New Zealand so the beach was rarely busy! It had bright golden sand and a lawn at the back of the beach. The best thing was the pontoon that floated rather deep in the water. It was great for jumping and diving off, lying on and swimming to! We had a lot of fun there.
We had a great day sailing while we were at Tapeka Point. We sailed on a large boat called the R Tucker Thompson which has sailed right around the world. You could climb up the crow's nest but I decided not to. Instead, I decided to climb on the bowsprit, which is the nose of the boat. It had a net around it to climb on and to stop us falling in to the sea! We stopped for lunch at a beach. Mummy and I swam from the beach back to the boat. We had fun jumping off the boat. There was a rope to swing from into the sea but I was a little bit scared of that so just jumped off the side. On our way back to Russell I got a chance to steer . Our skipper was called Sam and when we finally left the boat he thanked me for giving him the afternoon off.

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Rocky Point

Date: 02/03/2007 | Author: Ella

After Rotorua we went to Auckland to celebrate my mum's birthday but apart from that we didn't do too much there. So, soon we were heading north to Rocky Point. Rocky Point is so quiet and isolated and the only people we saw were the farmer, his dogs, his sheep and Greg, Mary-Ann and Truman. Greg and Mary-Ann are Daddy's friends and Truman is their 2 year old little boy. They invited us to come and stay with them at Rocky Point. Their holiday home is lovely. Well, it's not completely a holiday home, it's actually truck bodies made in to mobile homes! At Rocky Point there were lots of things to do like, driving a little car around (which I did), going kayaking (I did that as well), making camp fires (I also did that) and sailing a dingy (aren't I lucky!). When I went sailing with Daddy we had a great time. I even got to steer the boat and work on the sails. I did it twice because I liked it so much.
I really liked Rocky Point and it was great to have Truman to play with.

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Swimming in NZ

Date: 26/02/2007 | Author: Ella

There are lots of places to swim in NZ but while we were in Taupo and Rotarua we went to three very different places.
The first one we went to was next to the place we were staying De Bretts Resort in Taupo. It was a water adventure park but it was heated by the hot thermal water coming from underground. There were four different pools (all different temperatures) and a kids play area and a great water slide. We went there every day and really liked it. Unfortunately, one of the times I was hurtling down the slide I cut my foot in the plunge pool at the bottom of the slide on a sharp piece of gravel so now I have a nasty cut and a blood blister.
We also went to Kerosene Creek, which is a hot creek (again heated by the thermal activity) and waterfall near Wai-O-Tapu. Mummy and Daddy really liked it but Florence and I couldn't get too deep because we found it too hot. It was a boiling hot day and really I wanted to swim in cold water rather than hot!
The other place we swam was in the Waikato river which is New Zealand's longest river. The river was very clear and very cold - I really enjoyed swimming in it. It cooled us down loads but best of all it had a rope to swing on. I was jumping in the water off a tree but I needed to stick with daddy because the current was very strong and if I had missed the rope I would have been carried off!!

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Thermal wonderlands

Date: 25/02/2007 | Author: Ella

The crust of the earth is nothing like the skin of an apple. Instead it is more like a jigsaw puzzle and all the pieces are called tectonic plates.
New Zealand is a very young country. About 130 million years ago New Zealand broke away from Gondwanaland (which included Africa, Australia, Antarctica and South America) but has only been it's present shape for 10,000 years!! New Zealand sits where the Pacific and IndoAustralian plates meet which causes Earthquakes, Volcanic eruptions and thermal areas - but never mind those the only thing I worry about is tsunamis!
We went on three walks to different thermal areas. The first one we visited was called the 'Craters of the Moon' walk because it did look rather like the moon with all the steam coming from underground and the craters that looked like they belonged to a different planet. The second thermal area was called Orakei Korako. The most interesting thing we saw on this walk was a very big cave with a nice pool of warm water at the bottom of it. It is very special to Maoris because Maori women used to use the pool as a mirror seeing as it was so still. Apparently, you can make a wish if you dip your left hand in to the water at the same time as wishing and your wish is guaranteed to come true if you don't tell anybody. I made my wish but I've wished it for the future so I'm not quite sure it will come true yet. Another interesting thing we saw on the Orakei Korako walk was seeing the 'diamond geyser'. It is called this because if it erupts water spurts out into many different droplets that look like diamonds shooting in to the air. The last thermal area was called Wai-O-Tapu which means 'Sacred Waters' in Maori. My two favourite features were the devil's bath which looked like the devil's bath - it was bright green, not a very nice green, it looked like the devil had been bathing in it. My other favourite one was the 'Champagne Pool', it is called this because it has bubble of carbon dioxide in it, like champagne. The champagne pool was 80 metres deep and was a bright blue colour! My mummy would have really liked it if it was real champagne!!
The thermal areas were amazing - there aren't many things like that in England!

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Back to the Flying Fox

Date: 22/02/2007 | Author: Ella

Fewwie, it was great to be back at the Flying Fox with it's green hills, stunning views and Billy the dog. Oh, how great it was to play with Billy again. he's only a little dog, a cross between a Jack Russell and a Fox Terrier. I'm not so fond of small, yappy dogs like that but he was just sooooo cute!
We didn't do much there except walking Billy, playing by the Whanganui River and playing fashion shows with the posh hats from the bedrooms. Like the last time we visited the Flying Fox we enjoyed playing vinyl records. We mostly listened to Abba, Supertramp and the Small Faces which are records mummy and daddy used to listen to when they were younger.
When we left the Flying Fox we popped up to Pipiriki to visit Bobby Grey again. This time his little coffee shop was very busy so we didn't have a very long chat with him but he remembered us!

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Why are adults so obsessed with wine?

Date: 21/02/2007 | Author: ella

I can't believe that as soon as we got to Blenheim my mum and dad dragged me and Florence through the Marlborough Valley on a bike just to go to one stupid winery. That's why I keep asking, "Why are adults so obsessed with wine?". Mummy keeps saying it's just because they all taste different and it depends on the type of grape, the type of soil the grape grows in, how much sunshine the grape gets, blah, blah blah. She compares it to drinking my favourite juices but I think juice is completely different compared to wine.
I don't completely like the smell of wine but if you breathe really deeply while your nose is in the glass, you can smell lots of different fruits, like passion fruit, lemon, pears and grapes (obviously!). I think I might try wine when I'm older because Mum says it tastes very nice but I'll have to try it for myself first. I am 100% sure I am not going to drink beer or vodka and tonic or yucky things like that and I know I'm not going to smoke so that's a good start isn't it?

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Dolphins and New Friends

Date: 18/02/2007 | Author: Ella

We went to Kaikoura to go swimming with dolphins. The experience of swimming with dusky dolphins was amazing. I had to wear 2 wetsuits and a hood because the water was so cold. At first I felt I couldn't breathe but I soon got rid of the feeling of being uncomfortable. As soon as I got in the water I held Mum's hand and we were soon surrounded by dusky dolphins coming from in front of us, behind us, under us and above us!! We went in for 4 swims with the pod of dolphins - it was brilliant to be so close to them.
In Kaikoura we were staying in a cabin on a campsite where there was a swimming pool and a jumping pillow. We made some new friends at our campsite, their names were Emily, Orlando and Ben Murphy and they are from Bristol. Emily is also in year 4 at school and I gave her some of the books I have already read. She even came to our cabin for a sleepover on our last night. It was good to play with some new friends!

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Mount Cook

Date: 16/02/2007 | Author: Ella

Near Mount Cook is a town called Twizel. Just outside Twizel is a farm backpackers called Omahau Downs which is where we stayed for 2 nights. I didn't completely enjoy Twizel but we did do 2 quite cool things while we were there.
The first was swimming in the stream near to the farm. The water was really cold but Mummy and Daddy liked it so much they went skinny dipping. Unfortunately, Daddy still hadn't put his clothes back on when 2 elderly ladies arrived at the stream for a swim. He had to STRUGGLE to get his trunks back on without them seeing his bottom!
We also went on a walk on the Hooker Valley Track. It was such a hot day and there were no clouds around Mount Cook. On our walk we got hotter and hotter but fortunately at the end of the walk there was a big bit of shade next to the glacial lake. It was so amazing seeing icebergs the size of cars being pushed madly along by crazy rapids.

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Overnight cruise

Date: 12/02/2007 | Author: Ella

After Queenstown we had one night on the Fiordland Navigator which is a large motor boat that cruises along the Doubtful Sound Fiord. It sleeps up to 70 people in the really nice cabins or smaller quad share cabins (we were in the quad share cabins)! All of the crew on the boat had multi-jobs, for example, the waiters were also boat drivers for the tender boats and even the captain got involved with the washing up.
The views of Doubtful Sound were absolutely amazing. As we headed along the fiord to the sea we saw some fur seals on the rocks. Then we had our dinner and soon after a gorgeous pod of dolphins started swimming with the boat. They jumped out of the water really high and had about 10 babies with them!
We also went swimming when the boat put it's anchor down. The water felt so freezing after being all snuggled up in a coat and that I wanted to get out as soon as I got in. You could jump off the boat from a higher level and I went up to do it but I stayed up there for too long and got a bit dizzy so didn't manage to do it.
I thought that it was a really exciting trip and very different from the other places we have been staying.
Highly recommended!

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More Queenstown Adventures

Date: 10/02/2007 | Author: Ella

Queenstown is a really adventurous place and these are some of the adventures. We all watched daddy do a bungy jump on the Nevis bungy high above a river. There was a glass floor in the cage that daddy jumped from. I was absolutely terrified of it but everyone made me lie on it (see the picture)!!!!! We have also been on a Shotover Jet Boat which is a boat that goes along the Shotover river. It was so fantastic. The boat driver could do some amazing tricks and one of them was spinning the boat round and round in circles. One of the most scary bits of the jet boat ride was the driver kept pretending to run the boat in to rocks (but narrowly miss them)!

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Date: 08/02/2007 | Author: Ella

Straight after Puzzling World we went to Queenstown, where we are now staying. We are staying in a little cottage overlooking Shotover river. All the Shotover jet boats come past our house and make a lot of noise but we are getting used to them.
On 6th February we went hang gliding. My pilot's name was Toby, he took us high above the mountains. We got caught up in a thermal which was a bit bumpy. The most exciting bit was taking off because you had to jump off a cliff and we started going down and down until the wind caught the glider and we went up again. It was absolutey amazing soaring above the mountains like a bird!
On the 7th we went on a luge which is a funny go-cart, the luge was amazing but a bit scary. Our next trip was to a farm on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, we got there by a very old steamboat which was built at about the same time as the Titanic. It was wonderful and we even got to meet the captain, I also did a bit of steering because the captain was so nice. At the farm we saw the farmer sheering sheep and the dog rounding up the sheep.
We are staying in Queenstown for a week and so far it has been really exciting, I hope it carries on like this.

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Date: 03/02/2007 | Author: Ella

In Wanaka, we did the most amazing walk. OK, it was long and tiring but we saw loads of Keas (birds that are only found in the mountains in this part of New Zealand) and they kept trying to steal our food. When we got to the top of the track we sat staring at the gigantic Rob Roy glacier. We watched a big block of ice fall off the glacier and break in to tiny pieces as it tumbled down the cliffs and rocks below it.
Before we left Wanaka, we went to a wonderful place called Puzzling World. It was really amazing and there were illusions everywhere you looked. There was a maze in which you had to go to the blue, green, yellow and red towers and then get back to the place you started from. They maze was very hard - it took us over half and hour to find all towers and then get to the exit! One of my favourite illusions was a room where if you went to one corner you would appear big and if you stood in the other you would appear small. I think Puzzling World is one of the best places I have ever been in my life!!!

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The Glaciers

Date: 30/01/2007 | Author: Ella

This was the best day so far!
I went on a helicopter for the first time and we landed in the middle of the Franz Josef glacier. All glaciers are the shape of a tennis racket and we landed on the handle part. Walking on that ice was amazing and we stopped to look at an ice cave and even got to walk through it. Freezing cold water filled my boots and it took 5 minutes to kick it all out. We walked for 2 hours and saw lots of different ice formations. When we arrived back at the helicopter pad on the ice our guide told us that the top of Franz Josef glacier is bigger than the city of Auckland (which is New Zealand's biggest city). When the helicopter came we flew back down the glacier to town. I had an amazing time and was one of the youngest people to go on the glacier because you have to be at least 9 years old to do this heli-hike.

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West Coast

Date: 29/01/2007 | Author: Ella

After a week in the north of the South Island we drove down to the west coast and the first place we stayed was Punakaiki. We woke up early on the first morning to see the famous pancake rocks. These rocks are amazing because they look like huge piles of thick pancakes coming out of the sea.
After Punakaiki we headed along the coast to Hokitika. The beach there is wild and covered in beach debris like driftwood, seaweed and rocks. Because of the debris the town holds a sculpture competition every year. Anyone can enter and the only rule is that you can only use things you find on the beach to make your sculpture. My favourite sculpture was called 'Viking Cruisers', it looked like a Viking boat and amazed me because it was made out of so many natural things such as pebbles, driftwood, seaweed, shells and sand. The sculpture that won was called 'Goin' Swimmin' - it was a turtle carved out of a piece of driftwood that had once been a tree root. There were a lot of brilliant sculptures on the beach.

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Abel Tasman National Park

Date: 24/01/2007 | Author: Ella

After Havelock we moved north to Marahau at the entrance to the Abel Tasman national park. On the way there we stopped at a place to go quad biking. I was on a quad bike with daddy (he goes much faster than mummy). We drove through the most amazing scenery and stopped at a 2000 year old Matai tree - it is the oldest living thing I have ever seen.
In Marahau we stayed at a cabin (much better than our last one) on Old MacDonald's farm - it was a great campsite with loads of animals and a river running through it. We went sea kayaking again with a cool guy called Mike - he was very funny. We went to some lovely beaches and saw a rock named split apple rock - there are some amazing legends about the rock.
We then moved to a lodge in Arawoa which is right in the park. On the beach in Arawoa the beach is so golden and there are so many shells - most of them purple or white. There were even some shell sculptures and sand pyramids on the beach. We really liked it at Arawoa and did lots of walks from there.
We are doing so many activities in New Zealand, sea kayaking, canoeing, swimming, walking - if we carry on like this we are going to be really fit by the time we get home.

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First stop on the South Island

Date: 20/01/2007 | Author: Ella

The first place we stayed on the South island was Havelock Motor Camp and there we stayed in the tiniest cabin you can imagine - even the smallest caravan put our cabin to shame! We met up with Jez who is an old friend of daddy's (and Florence's Godfather) and went to the Clansman pub with him. While we were there we made friends with the people who worked there and I even got to write the specials board for them!

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Fun on mountains and rivers

Date: 19/01/2007 | Author: Ella

After Raglan we headed to the mountains of Tongariro National Park. In the Park were 3 volcanoes:
Mount Tongariro
Mount Ngauruhoe
Mount Ruapehu
We climbed up Mount Ruapehu and and played in the snow. Mount Ruapehu is the most recent volcano to erupt in New Zealand. We had fun climbing up the lava flows but had to finish our games as clouds started to wrap around us in a foggy, damp mist.
After that we headed to Whanganui River Road. We went there for jet boating up and canoeing down the Whanganui river. While we were there we also met an old Maori man called Bobby Grey. He was very smart and after our chat with him I thought that he was practically amazing.
Further down the river was the most exciting place we have stayed yet, The Flying Fox, a lovely place to stay, with sheep and a dog running around the grounds. We stayed in a lovely cottage with an upstairs as well as a downstairs. Billy the dog was lovely and followed Florence and I around the place. I loved it there and as we left I had many happy memories.
Next on to the South Island!

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A Kiwi Wedding

Date: 14/01/2007 | Author: Ella

Victoria and Marcus got married on the 14th January. Florence and I were asked to be flower girls for the wedding and I was really excited about it. The other flower girls and I (there were 5 of us) sprinkled petals on the grass as Victoria walked along with her Dad to where Marcus was standing. During the ceremony we saw rain rolling in over Whale Bay but they were married just before it arrived - a great wedding!

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Karekare and Hahei

Date: 13/01/2007 | Author: Ella

After a week in the city of Auckland we have now spent our time on the beach and in the bush. We stayed in Karekare (just west of Auckland) in our friends, Sarne, Flo and Celeste's house. We have been on walks, scrambling over boiling black sand dunes and watched the Flintstones.
We also went to a lovely seaside town called Hahei where we went sea kayaking with a guide called Michael. He took us over big waves into cool caves and nearly at the end of the kayaking trip we stopped at a beach called Lonely Bay and Michael made us hot chocolate and cookies!

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My Trip So Far

Date: 08/01/2007 | Author: Ella

My favourite place so far: Tasmania
Reason: It's beautiful, my cousins were there and we had lots of fun.

The best thing I have done: Jumping off rocks in to the Opal Plunge pool - the ledge was 4 metres above the 3 metre deep pool.
Place I did this: Karekare - NZ

The thing I like most about our trip: We have only been to exciting places, no boring places.

The thing I like least about our trip: Getting bitten by mosquitos and sandflies!

What I am looking forward to: Being a flower girl at Marcus's and Victoria's wedding on 14th January in Raglan.

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Happy New Year

Date: 01/01/2007 | Author: Ella

We are now in New Zealand. We spent New Year here and had lots of fun. We were with lots of other adults and kids. We bounced on trampolines, climbed trees and went into tree huts. Florence and I stayed up until midnight. It was the first time Florence had been awake to see in the New Year.
On the 2nd of January it was my Aunty Loo's birthday and we went up in the Sky Tower to a revolving Restaurant to celebrate it. The Sky Tower is the tallest building in the Southern hemisphere so when we went up we could see the whole of Auckland. When we arrived the sun was setting but when we were half way around the restaurant we could see the moon. That was also my Granny Pad's last night so we had special drinks and a delicious dinner.
The next day my Aunty Loo, Mum, Dad and my daddy's friend Bart went sailing together in a gigantic yacht in a race with another yacht.
While they were racing Florence and I went to Kelly Tarlton's, which is an aquarium, with Tania, who is Daddy's friends sister. Tanya is a very nice lady and we had so much fun with her.
On Thursday the 4th of January we went to the Auckland Museum and learnt how the Pacific people navigated the seas and how to survive moving from one island to another.
I hope you had a very happy new year!

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Cradle Mountain

Date: 28/12/2006 | Author: Ella

Walking in Tasmania
We went to Cradle Mountain on Boxing day. Cradle Mountain is a mountain that has a big dip in it so it looks like a baby's cradle. We stayed in a little cabin & went walking every day.
On our first day we went on a medium rated walk and we had to follow all man made things ( such as orange triangles, pink and blue ribbons and painted sticks) which prevented us from getting lost.
On the second day we went on an easy rated walk, mostly along boardwalks. People called me the little mountain goat because I was skipping along that path so fast. That walk was 9km and I was tired out after it.
On our 3rd day we went on a hard rated walk. For the 1st kilometre we went with Florence and Granny Pad, after that they headed back to the lodge as we knew they wouldn't be able to finish - Granny had a big blister from yesterday's walk & Florence has little legs. We walked on! This was a really hard task, we had to do a lot of climbing and scrambling over rocks. I liked it because I was the only child in the group ( me, mum, dad, gran & da) and I like being on my own with grown ups.
I liked Cradle Mountain because there was so much to do and Florence and I could use our walkie talkies so much.

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Merry Christmas from Tasmania

Date: 25/12/2006 | Author: Ella

Dear friends,
I hope you had a very merry Christmas! We went to our cousins on Christmas day just after we had opened all of our presents at Gran and Da's house. We watched a Christmas movie, we dressed up as bunnys, Scottish people and Florence dressed up as a granny. My youngest cousin, Sarah Kate took me around their land on her quad bike and we rode passed their horse, ponies and all their goats. We had a barbecue and lots of Christmas crackers. We also bounced lots on 2 gigantic trampolines put together and when my dad came on I was force jumped in to the air and nearly fell off. We had so much fun.
For Christmas I got loads of presents including a tamagotchi, a locket and pumpkin patch clothes.

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Sydney... to Melbourne.

Date: 19/12/2006 | Author: Ella

We were in Sydney for one week and had so much fun. My dad had flown to Melbourne for work and had left Florence, Me, Granny and Mummy on our own for a few days. We went to many places, including the Australian Museum where we learnt about indigenous Australians, (aboriginals). I recorded some facts and here are two:
Religion; When the British came they thought that because the Aboriginals didn't have churches or altars they had no religion.
The Rainbow Serpent; The Rainbow Serpent is a consistent theme in Aboriginal painting and has been found in rock art up to 6000 years old.
We drove to Melbourne on the princes highway. It took three days. After an hours drive we stopped at a small wildlife park called Simbio. We fed some kangaroos there. In the kangaroo enclosure there was a mad goose. It was obviously hungry because it chased me when I was giving out the food!
The next night we stayed in a town called Mollymook. It had a lovely beach. Florence and I enjoyed climbing on the rocks in the sea.
The second night we stayed in a motel in a town called Eden. In Eden we went on a boat cruise to see if we could see some sea mammals and we did. One happy seal and a whole pod of dolphins that swam and raced with the boat.
On our third day we stayed at a caravan park and had a great dinner at a very smart restaurant, (yum yum). The caravan park was in a town called Sale.
The next day we arrived in Melbourne but just before we got there my mum got a speeding ticket!

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Our first days in Australia

Date: 13/12/2006 | Author: Ella

It's good to be in Sydney. Our apartment which is overlooking the Pacific ocean and Wedding cake Island) (which is a cluster of rocks just over sea level) is beautiful.
We have been to Taronga Zoo (by ferry) which is a fabulous place with hundreds of animals. We have seen monkeys, alligators, crocodiles and more. There was an Australian animals area and in there it had all Australian animals like possums, a platypus,wallabies and kangaroos (one kangaroo had a joey in it's pouch!).
We have also been to a Robbie Williams concert with my big, 20 year old sister Jess and her friends - it was great fun.
We have had so much fun and only been here for 4 days!

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Our Snorkelling Trip

Date: 04/12/2006 | Author: Ella

The next day all of the family went on a snorkelling trip. We saw many fish and went to about five islands and one of them was islands joined by a strip of sand, but the sand was under the water so it looked like people were walking on water, it was so cool.
After that we didn't do anything really exciting but we did have fun.

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First Day Krabi

Date: 30/11/2006 | Author: Ella

On our first day at Krabi we just hung out and had a swim before it got too hot. When lunchtime came, me Florence and mummy climbed over some rocks to another beach, (we could only do that because the tide was out) and had lunch there. A few days after we went to another beach, on the way we saw some monkeys and we fed them pieces of sweetcorn and bananas.

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We are in Thailand

Date: 29/11/2006 | Author: Ella

We are in Thailand. It is so beautiful and has so much to do. On our first day we stayed at a hotel called Novotel at Bangkok airport. The staff were so friendly they even gave Florence and I a little toy each.
The swimming pool there was one of the best swimming pools I have ever been in. We only stayed at the Novotel for one day, so next morning we got a plane then a car then a boat to arrive in Krabi. We had to get a boat to our beach, West Railay. When we arrived a man took our bags and showed us to our lovely wooden house.

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Last days in London

Date: 24/11/2006 | Author: Ella

24th November - last day at school & my birthday
My last day at school was great, I had so much fun and was treated brilliantly. All my friends wanted to sit next to me at my lunch so I made a list of who was sitting next to me and opposite me which was quite hard to do. When my mum, aunty loo and sister appeared at the door with some big cookies I took them and hid them in a corner. After I had to come up at the front of the class and explain where I was going on my big travels. I gave out the cookies as it was my birthday.

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4 days to go

Date: 23/11/2006 | Author: Ella

We are off so soon and I am really excited!

We have so much to do before we go and are really busy. My 9th birthday is tomorrow and we have a big birthday and leaving party on Sunday so I can say goodbye to all my friends from school.

At the moment I am more excited about the trip than my birthday - but that might all change tomorrow! Tomorrow is my last day at school - when I come back I will be in year 5!

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