The Last Post

I write this having been back in the cold, wet and windy UK for a couple of weeks. This has given me time to adjust to what is, quite frankly, a far more mundane existence. It has also given me time to reflect on my trip.

My trip has been an amazing experience and I have many memories that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Pretty much everything I have done on the trip has been fantastic but there have been two real highlights that stand out.

The first is the 6 days I spent on the South Island of New Zealand. I loved the wonderful scenery and doing some amazing things including whale watching, a heli-hike onto Franz Josef Glacier and jet boating.

Whale watching at Kaikoura

Whale watching at Kaikoura

image

Hiking on Franz Josef Glacier

Hiking on Franz Josef Glacier

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

The second highlight was the week in India touring the “Golden Triangle” with G Adventures. I loved travelling through such a vibrant country seeing some amazing sights, experiencing the culture and eating some absolutely fabulous food.

image

Jaipur

Jaipur

Palace of the Winds

Palace of the Winds

Trying to make a puri

Trying to make a puri

Amber Fort

Amber Fort

I have seen some amazing sights Including:-

Uluru

image

The Taj Mahal

image

Sydney Harbour

image image

The cricket obviously didn’t go according to plan. I watched every one of England’s losses to Australia and became increasingly resigned to the entirely predictable nature of these defeats. Disappointing as the cricket was it gave me a base to explore the great cities of Australia. I was part of the world record attendance for a test match at the MCG on Boxing Day.

image

Some stats!! My trip took me away from home for 79 nights. I travelled in 5 countries – Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, India and the United Arab Emirates. I went on 17 flights and travelled with 8 different airlines. I stayed in 20 different hotels. So making all these flights certainly means I have had an impact on the environment. All the air miles equate to 4.85 tonnes of CO2 emissions. The driving I did in New Zealand, 1095 kilometres, added a further 0.26 tonnes of CO2 emissions. I am investigating what I can do to offset this.

Best airline – QANTAS. I flew with them more than any other airline. Great service delivered by “real people” not the archetypal young “trolley dolly” you find elsewhere.

Best airport – Dubai. Space age. Roomy. Waterfalls!

Worst airport – Goa International Airport. Dirty toilets and rowing cleaners. Make sure you scan your luggage first! I also had issues at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport with baggage coming off the wrong carousel and lengthy queues for biosecurity checks.

Favourite hotel – The Point, Brisbane. Great service and a room with a fantastic view. Well located for the Gabba and the free boat service into central Brisbane. I also had fantastic service and food at the Resort Terra Paraiso in Goa. Excellent towel and pillow art by housekeeping!

View from my room at The Point, Brisbane

View from my room at The Point, Brisbane

Free city hopper boat service in Brisbane

Free city hopper boat service in Brisbane

image

Housekeeping art at Resort Terra Paraiso, Goa

Worst hotel – Great Southern Hotel, Sydney. Room very dated and felt claustrophobic

Favourite cricket stadium – Sydney Cricket Ground. Blends futuristic new stands with well preserved old pavilions.

image

Worst cricket stadium – The WACA, Perth. Little shade and needs urgent redevelopment.

image

So would I do it again??? The trip has been very much a once in a lifetime opportunity. It has cost a pretty penny and I now need to start earning again. 11 weeks away is a long time and there were times particularly around Christmas and New Year when I was really starting to miss family. Keeping in touch through instant messaging, email, FaceTime and Facebook has been invaluable. When you can talk to somebody and see them on screen the world does not seem such a big place.  I have loved experiencing the different countries and cultures and a much better climate. So yes I would definitely do a big trip again but not for as long.

Has the trip changed me??? Well I don’t feel any different. It may have given me a different perspective on a few things. The trip has definitely given me the desire to travel more and explore further some of the places I have been to.

A successful trip can only take place with help from others. I have had great support from friends and family. They seemed to think my trip was a much bigger deal than I thought myself and showed this with a great send off before I went away. I was worried about my house being left empty for an extended period of time. Thanks to Mum and Dad and my next door neighbours Kathryn and Steve for keeping an eye on it for me whilst I was away. My house remained totally intact whilst I was away but ironically suffered storm damage within a week of my return!

A big thank you to my travel agents, Round the World Experts, and in particular Nigel Wright for turning my dreams into reality.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog. I have enjoyed writing it and it is something I can always look back on. The blog seems to have generated quite a lot of interest – It has had over 4300 views and over 100 comments.

Finishing the blog helps me put the trip “to bed” and allows me to focus on the next phase of my life which starts with the search to generate an income.

My first ever camel ride in the Dubai Desert

My first ever camel ride in the Dubai Desert

Whale Watching at Kaikoura

So I managed to escape watching the Aussies bowl England out on day 5 in Perth and reclaim the Ashes.

I flew east to Christchurch in New Zealand. This necessitated two flights each lasting just over 3 hours and a time zone change. New Zealand is 5 hours ahead of Perth. I arrived in my airport hotel in Christchurch just after midnight and crashed out.

The following day I picked up a hire car and headed off to go whale watching. It was a 2 and a half hour drive north east to Kaikoura. NZ is a great place to drive in with good quiet roads and stunning scenery. Close to Christchurch I passed through vineyards which form part of the Waipara wine region. The vista then changed and included vast open farmland with mountains in the distance in every direction.

Close to kaikoura I hit the coastline which was stunning and drove along it for around 10 miles.

Coastline near Kaikoura

Coastline near Kaikoura

I reached the whale watching station in plenty of time and checked in for my tour. There was a seasickness warning for my sailing. Remembering a recent experience when Mackerel fishing off Lyme Regis, I sought out a remedy…

Kaikoura is one of the best places to view whales in the world. This is due to the depth of the water very close to the coastline. It plunges to the depth of 3 Auckland skytowers – the highest building in the Southern Hemisphere. In addition there is a plentiful supply of sea life, particularly squid, for the whales to feed on.

After setting off in the boat, we were alongside a whale in around 15 minutes. It was a male sperm whale and was on the surface for around 10 minutes before diving to the depths. I got a great shot of the tail fin as it dived.

Whale no.1

Whale no.1

First whale diving

First whale diving

We headed off to find another whale and found one further out at sea. This one, another male sperm whale, was very subdued – apparently sleeping on the surface. We watched it for around half an hour before heading back to shore. We also saw fur seals, an albatross and Westland petrels.

The second whale

The second whale

The second whale apparently sleeping

The second whale apparently sleeping

All in all an amazing and unforgettable experience to get so close to these amazing creatures.