BACKPACKING DAYS -Part 3

NEW ZEALAND-From June 05-August 05

What a country this is !!! From the beautiful crystal clear lakes of Taupo & Rotorua…this makes this a Mecca to nature lovers…..also a Mecca to adrenaline junkie’s aswell with all that Queenstown in the South Island & the above Taupo in the North have to offer.

Rugby is a way of life here too, which we Welsh can obviously relate too !!! & the way the All Blacks play the game another reason why this place is paradise on Earth!...& primarily my reason for visiting here in the first place.
The chance to meet up with 4 workmates & 2 other lads from back home & break off from backpacking Oz to follow the fortunes of the Lions around on their ill-fated 2005 tour in a 6 berth campervan!....yup that’s right….7 of us in a 6 berth campervan!!!...& seeing as I was staying for free I was stuck with a made-up bed on the front seats for 2 weeks! Ha…..surprising how one can get used to having a gear stick protruding into one’s back night after night!.....but despite that,the freezing cold(I will never wear a Welsh Kilt in an NZ winter again!) and the shockinginly awful performance of the Lions it was an amazing time!
We seen some stunning things together such as the Whales off the coast of Kaikoura…….relaxed in the wonderfully warm hot-spring waters of Hamner Springs…….laughed our way around a tour of the set of Hobbiton,from the Lord of the Rings movie…and generally drunk,ate & talked nonsense for 2 whole weeks!!!!ha ha…GREAT times…

After leaving the lads behind in Auckland I met up with another mate from home & his girlfriend at the time & stayed with them at their cool apartment with sea-view about 30 minutes out of Auckland. Chris & Marie were superb hosts & sleeping on their comfy soft sofa-bed was a welcome relief after 2 weeks of the bed from hell !!!!! It gave me a chance to unpack,enjoy home comforts & actually have a few days off the beer for a change! Even though we did enjoy numerous occasions back on it again!

Auckland itself is a most beautiful city….the SKY Tower & the 360 degree view from the top is out of this world! New Zealand on the whole though is hugely impressive & I for one can’t wait to go back!!!

THAILAND-From Sept.05-Nov.05

Famous or maybe infamous throughout the world for ladyboys,prostitution,the Bangkok Hilton etc but so much more to this Asian wonder than any of the above.Yes you see ladyboys & prostitutes out on the streets & it’s safe to say that if you break the law you might well end up in the Hilton for a while! It is most certainly a different place after dark but it is still very safe there & if you don’t go looking for trouble it is doubtful it will find you! I,like most tourists started off in Bangkok & it is such a brilliant,colourful,vibrant city.

On arrival in Bangkok I headed straight for the Ko Sahn Road which for a backpacker or holiday-maker has everything you need…...hotels,guest- houses,restaurants,clubs,bars,travel agents,internet cafes,laundrettes,tatoo parlours(where I had 2 done myself !),countless shops & stalls selling everything from jeans to DVDs……& of course a McDonalds.It is a city of contrasts with the old & the new standing side by side..i.e.The Temple of the Golden Buddha at Wat Traimitt and the ultra modern BTS Skytrain just 2 examples.The latter a great way to get to the Muay Thai or Kickboxing as we know it,arena’s at Lumpini & Ratchadamnoen Stadiums.The national sport here & easy to see why when you witness the passion from both spectators & participants alike and the talent on show from the latter.You can allways get the traditional tuk-tuk arround the city though,a great & conveniant way to see the sights.

 Northwest of the city & just around an hour or so away is the area Kanchanaburi & it is a very poigniant place to visit as during World War II many allied soldiers lost their lives in the death camps & building the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai at the hands of the Japanese.You can visit the Allied War Cemetary,war museums,ride an elephant in the jungle & take a train journey over the Bridge.

After the capitol I headed down to Krabi on the Andaman Coast & across to Ko Phi Phi for sometime too…Phi Phi is famous for being the picture postcard scene from the Leonardo Di Caprio film ‘’The Beach’’ & sadly too infamously for being devestated when the tsunami hit in 2004.I then swapped coastlines & from the port of Surat Thani I took the ferry first to Ko Samui,then Ko Pgan Gnan..such stunning idyllic islands…the perfect place to chill in the day,lying in a hammock with a cold bottle of Singha beer & a book...or party like a man possessed at night..with lots of cold Singha beers !!! Ko Pgan Gnan is certainly the place to do that as once a month thousands of people from all over the world gather on the beach of the main town,Hat Yai,to celebrate the coming of the Full Moon.How can I forget meeting those American guys who after drinking those lethal Samsong Thai Whiskey buckets with me thought they would try some Mushroom Shakes!...not my ‘’cup of tea’’ but it was so funny watching that potent mix take great effect with them when as the one lad put it ‘’What is that gigantic pink elephant doing dancing in the sky man?’’!!!!! ha ha..What a brilliant occasion the Full Moon Party is..does’nt matter if your into hardcore dance music or not..or even alcohol or stronger mind-altering substances..it is just a phenomenal party!!!

I will never forget my time in Thailand for all the right reasons!

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