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Old 22-04-2005, 18:21   #1
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Travel Tales....

Some of my photographs are not yet ready but some are, so I'll make a start. We had a brilliant time and I was so excited on the day we were going away that I couldn't keep off the loo. We arrived at Manchester and checked in for our flight to Bangkok via Heathrow. We were having a civilised drink at the bar in the airport when Sparky let me have a look at his passport photo. I have never laughed so much in my life. Good grief!!!!! I thought my photo was bad but this really gets the coconut. Taken in a photo booth he has a look of shocked surprise on his face like a little furry animal caught in your headlights. It's almost as if someone has mooned at him through the curtain as the piccy was being taken. I managed to compose myself in time for the long flight ahead.

Our first stopover was Bangkok and the beautiful Montien Hotel which is slap bang in the middle of the notorious Patpong area. We were upgraded to an executive room on our arrival and the little touches that make you feel special are common throughout hotels in this city(I'll explain those later).We had a meal before hitting Patpong market and off we went into the heat of the night. It was boiling hot and Patpong was heaving. The 2 streets which make up Patpong are a bustling market at night, as you make your way through the market you are approached by touts from the bars which line the streets of Patpong. "Ping-pong bar sir?" "You wan' ping-pong madam?" and various menus are then shown to you..

For the uninitiated, these are no ordinary menus. I wasn't exactly expecting bar food but I left Patpong laughing my head off. There are all types of 'live shows' on these menus, I'm telling you my eyes were nearly popping out of my head. We then accidentally wandered into a small cul-de-sac unofficially known as Patpong 3. This is a street containing the hippest bars and beautiful people, loud music blared from every bar and hoards of people were laughing, drinking and dancing. This is the unofficial gay area of Bangkok but it was obvious that everyone was welcome no matter their colour, creed or orientation. It looked like a fun place to be.

On returning to our hotel hot and giddy from a bottle of wine we had consumed earlier, we found that the hotel staff had turned down our bed and left little orchids on the pillows. The staff bow at you when you greet them, and I'm never really sure whether to bow back. I was up and down like a bride's nighty. The following morning, breakfasted and refreshed we had a liitle stroll around the traffic laden bustling streets of Bangkok. This city has modern tall buildings interspersed with tiny run down shacks. It can be dirty with heavy pollution from traffic fumes and it can be smelly due to the heat. Behind all of that though is a fascinating fun city with respectful people and plenty of sights to see. Where grand temples and small shrines mix with skyscrapers and spice markets.

We didn't get many photos here as we were here for less than 24 hours and our flight to New Zealand was beckoning. Here are some pics of our morning walk. A city photo showing the sky train (the quickest way to get around) our little shrine at the hotel and a shop sign that made me smile...
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Old 22-04-2005, 18:28   #2
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Re: Travel Tales....

thanks lettie, iv'e just been down the streets with you, what a lovely looking place, i like the shrine, oooooooooooo & that shop sign, ha ha ha. more please.
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Old 22-04-2005, 20:06   #3
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Re: Travel Tales....

Very nice lettie, look forward to the next installment.
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Old 22-04-2005, 23:09   #4
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Re: Travel Tales....

Great photos Lettie. Do we get to see the passport one of Sparkologist too? Loved your description.
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Old 23-04-2005, 15:27   #5
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Re: Travel Tales....

I couldn't be cruel enough to show that photograph Willow. Passport photos are always awful and never bring out the best in people. My old photograph was so bad that I looked too ill to go on holiday. Luckily both of our passports expire in the next couple of years so at least there's a chance of getting a better photo next time.
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Old 23-04-2005, 15:56   #6
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Re: Travel Tales....

Ive seen his pic lettie!! its a belter hehe.. Sorry mate.
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Old 23-04-2005, 16:44   #7
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Re: Travel Tales....

Lettie the pics are lovely.......just the thing to cheer you up after a nightmare shift!
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Old 24-04-2005, 17:59   #8
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Re: Travel Tales....

It was with great excitement that we took off from Bangkok and flew to Sydney in order to get our connecting flight to Auckland. We were both absolutely knackered when we arrived and after picking up our hire car from the airport we spent the rest of the day monging out at my step-brother's house. The day after feeling a little more refreshed, we took the train into the city to have a mooch around.

Auckland is by far the most populated area of New Zealand and a very cosmopolitan city. There's something to suit all tastes here. We headed for the shops, Sparky to buy shorts and me to buy sunglasses, as I'd left mine at home. We then had a walk to Auckland Domain to visit the museum. This is a fair old way from the city centre and you can go by bus, but it was a lovely day and well worth the walk. This museum has various sections. Natural history with all the different animal, bird, reptile and fish species native to the area. Great big replicas of the now extinct flightless bird the Moa, which is huge. It has a NZ at war area with memorabilia from the wars including uniforms, diaries, film footage, aeroplanes, memorials to the ANZAC and the names of the young men who perished in order to help us fight our causes. There is a floor devoted to Maori culture showing their homes, war canoes, how their clothes are made from flax and various photos and implements from family life and the lives of the south pacific islanders. This place is well worth a visit.

The day after we took the elevator up to the dizzying heights of Sky Tower, at 328 metres high this is the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere. What fantastic views from the top. People actually jump off this thing, it was knocking me sick just thinking about it. I decided there and then that I would definitely have to be drugged and pushed, although I'm sure that could be arranged. After visiting Sky Tower we took the ferry across the bay to Devonport, a small town in Auckland with only a couple of main streets it's a joy to visit. We found an excellent little restaurant where Sparky had the best pizza of his life. I'm sure he'll give you the details but needless to say he raved about it and I have to admit it did look good. We went back to my step-brother's that night in order to prepare for our forthcoming tour of the country.

Here are some photos of Auckland. There's a cityscape taken from the Devonport ferry and views of the city taken from Sky Tower showing the domain (big green hill in centre of piccy). The white building on the domain is the museum, views of the harbour and harbour bridge and a view across the water to Devonport.
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Old 27-04-2005, 11:38   #9
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Rotorua

We left Auckland on the 23rd March to start our tour, and after a quick brew with my friend in Thames we headed for Rotorua. Now any of you who have read the thread detailing my travels the last time I was here will know that I have been to Rotorua before. This is just the most amazing place and I had to come again. Despite the permanent smell of Hydrogen Sulphide gas this place is fascinating. The whole area is situated in the central region of North Island and is a highly active geothermal area. Hot water geysers, bubbling pools of water and mud, steaming fumeroles and the colours of various minerals which stain the earth and water. I love it here. We visited the Maori village of Whakarewarewa, I wanted a decent photo of the Pohutu (big splash) geyser as my last photo was taken in the rain and is a bit steamy. We had one night here and the day we were leaving we paid a visit to Wai-O-Tapu (sacred waters) Thermal Wonderland. This place is brilliant the sights smells and colours of the pools and fumeroles attack your senses, and the smell lingers on your clothes for days.

Wai-O-Tapu is the home of the Lady Knox geyser, named in 1904 after Governor-General Ranfurly's daughter it erupts at 10.15am every day and can reach a height of about 20 metres. There is the bubbling Champagne Pool, the Devil's Bath (a hot pool stained green by the minerals), various fumeroles, the Oyster Pool whose shape resembles the oyster shell and the Primrose Terraces. Those of you who have read the last NZ thread will know the story of the Pink and White Terraces. The Primrose Terrace has been formed by water running from the Champagne Pool. This water is rich in silica and as it cools the silica deposits and forms into sinter. These terraces have been forming for about 900 years and cover 1.2 hectares. The Primrose Terrace is the largest since the destruction of the Pink and White Terraces with the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886.

Here are some pics of the area. The Pohutu geyser in full flow, the dormant Lady Knox and the erupting Lady Knox, The Champagne Pool, The Devil's Bath, The Oyster Pool, the fumerole Devil's Home and the Primrose Terraces.
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Old 27-04-2005, 12:45   #10
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Re: Travel Tales....

Brilliant photos Lettie. I can understand why you wanted to go back and visit Rotorua.
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Old 30-04-2005, 13:23   #11
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One for Staggers. Lake Taupo

After leaving Wai-O-Tapu we headed south to Turangi at the southeastern end of Lake Taupo, where we had a one night stay. Originally a small fishing retreat, Turangi was developed into a town in the late 60's to provide accommodation for workers for the Tongariro Hydro-electricity scheme. Still an extremely popular place with anglers Turangi is a nice little town (with a brilliant fish and chip shop). By the time we arrived in Turangi the weather had turned somewhat moody. Big dark clouds were descending fast and the air was heavy with impending rain. The owners of our motel were quite relieved as they hadn't had rain for 3 months and said the area was starting to look dry. It looked green enough to me but I'm no expert on NZ flora.

We took a stroll around the southern shore of Lake Taupo, this lake is massive. Lake Taupo was formed by a volcanic explosion in AD 186. It is NZ's largest Lake and covers an area of about 239 sq miles. It has white beaches and rocky coves and on a clear day you can see the volcanic cones of Mts Ngauruhoe and Tongariro. Many Kiwis come here for their holidays as there are so many activities available in the area. A haven for anglers the line fishing season for trout runs from November to March and a fishing license can be purchased at sports shops and tourist information places (of which there are plenty). You should see the size of the fish here Staggers........ They're huge!!!!!

Here are a couple of pics of Lake Taupo (southern end) on a very dodgy day. Although there are multitudinous clouds it is not difficult to see the beauty of the area.
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Last edited by lettie; 30-04-2005 at 13:25.
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Old 01-05-2005, 12:27   #12
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Good friday......

On Good Friday we set off from Turangi for our drive south to Wellington. New Zealand has some funny laws and the prohibition of the sale of alcohol on Good Friday is one of them. I was aghast...... How on earth would I cope without a glass of red wine before bed? Luckily we were forewarned and managed to save half a bottle which we carefully re-corked and propped up in the boot of the car and prayed it would survive the 4 hour drive to the capital city.

We set off south through the Rangipo Desert and had a leisurely drive to the city. As we approached Wellington we hit a rainstorm which was so torrential that the windscreen wipers couldn't clear the screen quickly enough for you to actually be able to see anything. Luckily on our arrival to our motel the rain had abated and we were free to explore the harbour and city for the afternoon. Being Good Friday there wasn't much open in the way of shops but it was quiet with little traffic which I consider to be ideal conditions for exploring on foot.

Situated in the southern part of the North Island, Wellington is a bustling harbour, cultural capital and home of the NZ parliament. The nickname 'Windy Wellington' is so well deserved. Never have I been anywhere so constantly breezy, but at least it was warm. My hairdresser takes 20 minutes to dry my hair with the best that Remmington can produce, sat outside in Wellington I swear my hair was dried in 10 minutes flat.

We went out for the afternoon and had a mooch around the harbour. There has been a lot of renovation to the harbourfront in recent years and there is evidence that this is still ongoing. It's a nice place for a walk around and home of NZ's largest museum Te Papa. I would have liked to have visited Te Papa but we had only limited time until closing and felt that we couldn't see all that we wanted to see in just a couple of hours.

Our walk led us from the harbourfront into the city where we strolled through the beautifully manicured grounds of the government buildings and had a look at the Beehive, so-called because of its distinctive shape. Lambton Quay, Wellington's principal shopping street was pretty much deserted because of the holiday but it was still great to look around without the crowds. A lovely tea of New Zealand Lamb followed and because the law states that you can buy alcohol in restaurants only if you are buying food we had a glass of wine and finished our bottle when we got back to the motel.

Here are some pics from Wellington. Sparky looking windswept at the harbourfront (just look at those clouds) A view of the houses in the hillsides of Wellington, the Beehive and a view of Wellington from the sea. We did visit Wellington again on our way back from South Island so there may be more pics to come.
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Old 04-05-2005, 07:33   #13
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Heading South

On Easter Saturday we turned up at Wellington Interisland Ferry Terminal for our sail to the South Island. The Interisland ferries are large, comfortable and a brilliant way to see the South Island's Marlborough Sounds. It took approximately 3 1/2 hours to sail from Wellington to Picton and was a very civilised way to get from a to b.

On entering the Sounds it's hard to believe how remote this place feels. There are some small houses dotted around in the Sounds which appear to be only accessible by boat. All the small boats on the Sounds wave to the ferry as it passes. We docked in Picton, collected our car and set off over Queen Charlotte's Drive on our journey to Nelson.

Queen Charlotte's Drive is the most scenic route from Picton to Havelock. Views of the Sounds are a feature of this journey. The road turns inland at Havelock (famous for its lovely green-lipped mussels) and the sea views are gone.

We stayed the night in Nelson which is reputed to be the sunniest place in New Zealand and it was cracking the flags when we got there. We checked in at the motel and set off for a walk on the beach. Sparky was dying for a paddle in the sea and I wanted to feel the sand between my toes. We had a lovely stroll and meal in Nelson, but it was merely a stopover on our way to Franz Josef.

The drive to Franz Josef from Nelson is nothing short of long........ Setting off on Easter Sunday at about 9am we headed south for our trip to the glaciers. We stopped for lunch in the town of Greymouth. Situated on the Grey River, Greymouth is a lovely town which has had the misfortune of being submerged by the flooded river on several occasions including twice in 1988. Since then a flood wall has been built popularly known as the Great Wall of Greymouth. Greymouth owes it's prosperity to the river, gold and coal mining. We stretched our legs by having a walk along the Great Wall and had a look at their town statue 'The Old Man of the Sea.' It was soon time to get back into the car for the remainder of our drive. It was going to be a long afternoon.

Here are some pics. A view of the Marlborough Sounds from Queen Charlotte's Drive. A view of the town of Havelock, Sparky and the sea in Nelson, Greymouth main Street and the Old Man of the Sea.
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Last edited by lettie; 05-05-2005 at 06:48.
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Old 04-05-2005, 20:37   #14
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Re: Travel Tales....

Lettie, your narrative is wonderful.......I feel like I have been with you. Your pictures are great too. What wonderful memories!
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Old 06-05-2005, 12:38   #15
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Franz Josef

At just after 4pm on Easter Sunday we arrived in the tiny village of Franz Josef. This part of the West Coast of New Zealand is unique in that the area is dominated by massive glaciers which terminate at only about 260m above sea level slap bang in the middle of tropical looking rainforest. It's a wonderful breathtaking sight which I will never forget.

Prior to our trip Sparky had mentioned seeing the glaciers by helicopter. I had smiled and nodded pleased at his enthusiasm for the trip but I had no intention of getting in a helicopter and hoped that he would forget about it. I'm a bit of a chicken when it comes to heights and the thought of being in a tiny flying tin can was more than I could stand.

On our arrival at the motel in Franz Josef Sparky immediately asked for the weather outlook for Easter Monday and we were told that it would be cloudy with some drizzle. "Oh, what a shame," said I. "Maybe we'll have to do a walk instead." The sun was out and a beautiful clear afternoon when we arrived. Not to be deterred Sparks asked where the nearest helicopter flight station was, and finding that it was just around the corner........off we went.

The friendly fella at the heli station said "Ya wanna ride? Sweet mate! 5pm ok for ya?"
We had time for a quick coffee and we were off. With no time to panic I found myself in a small but surprisingly comfy helicopter flying over the summits of Mounts Cook and Tasman. The views were amazing and the glaciers superb. We landed high on the Franz Josef glacier and got out for photos. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I can't wait to do it again. My whole opinion of helicopter flying has completely changed (although I still wouldn't jump out of one).

There are lots of glaciers in this area but the most well known ones are the Franz Josef 10km long and the Fox at 13km long. The largest glacier is the Tasman at 27km long and a good view of this can be had from a helicopter window. We flew over the summits of Mt Cook (Aoraki) 3,754m and Mt Tasman 3,497m and could see as far away as Mt Aspiring in Southland.

Aoraki or Mt Cook (as we know it) gets its name from Maori legend. A boy named Aoraki and his 3 brothers came down from the heavens to visit the Earth Mother. The canoe in which they were travelling capsized and as the brothers moved to the back of the boat they were turned to stone and formed the mountain Aoraki. Lots of New Zealand's natural landmarks are reverting back to their original Maori names.

On easter Monday we had a drive over the very twisty mountain roads to Fox Glacier village. We had a lovely walk around Lake Matheson. Known for its reflective properties wonderful inverted views of the mountains can be seen in Lake Matheson on a clear day. Unfortunately it was cloudy with a bit of drizzle, but it was still a lovely walk..... Hey! We're northerners, we can put up with a bit of rain. We retired to bed early in preparation for our drive to Queenstown the following day.

You guessed it...... here are some pics and I apologise for the slight reflection on some of them but I don't know how to get rid of it. They were taken from the helicopter window.

Here is a view of the FJ glacier, the summit of Mt Cook, the summit of Mt Tasman, a close up of part of the Fox glacier taken from the Chancellor hut, pretty glacial patterns at the top of the glacier, me and Sparky and our helicopter high on the glacier and Lake Matheson on rather a grey day.
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The views expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of my family, friends, employer, this site, my neighbours, hairdresser, dentist, GP, next door's dog or anyone else who knows me..

Last edited by lettie; 06-05-2005 at 12:40.
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