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Milford Sound and Te Anau

Milford Sound and Te Anau are not only beautiful in their own right, but the journey to and from them is breathtaking too.

I set off with my parents relatively early as we had to be at Milford by a certain time for our eagerly anticipated overnight cruise on ‘the beautiful sound’. We made it there around 1pm and had plenty of time to grab a a bite to eat (at the overpriced cafe that holds a monopoly over the area) before boarding our vessel. As we boarded the ship I thought that it looked like it would struggle to accommodate 35 guests plus a crew.

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Swimming with great white sharks, New Zealand

It was the beginning of January, and we rose early to start a few hours drive down the coast to Invercargill. It is here that I would be swimming with great white sharks, along with my parents.

The journey was broken up by a standard sight in New Zealand, cattle crossing the road. You don’t get that in London. We had planned a halfway point stop for lunch at The Whistling Frog, near the Tautuku River. We eventually found the Frog and enjoyed a decent meal. We saw an abundance of signs for ‘McLean Falls’ nearby, so thought we would take the opportunity to check it out.

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Auckland – New Year 2015

I was lucky enough to break up for my New Year holiday on the 23rd December and not have to return to work until January 19th.

I had been invited by my lovely neighbours to an Xmas BBQ and drinks at the harbour (they all work on superyachts). It was a hot day, and what I can remember of it was great. Some pretty embarrassing photos though, and I have a vague memory of jumping into the sea in my underwear. I will spare everyone those photos.

Anyway, my parents, who have always fancied New Zealand, agreed to fly half way around the world to have a break and see their travelling son.

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A Week in Playas Del Coco, Costa Rica

I arrived at Hotel Chantel amidst a huge downpour (it’s rainy season) and that made the drive pretty slow. The hotel is located off the main road, up a steep winding path, so as to reach it’s mountain side location.

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Costa Rica / Nicaragua border crossing, twice in 2 days!

I hit the road around 7am, driving north towards the border with Nicaragua. At 10am I had to stop for coffee. I sat by the road but I think I was at the start of a bicycle race, because everybody else had full lycra and helmets on, as if about to start the Tour De Costa Rica.

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Costa Rica – San Jose, Manuel Antonio and Jaco

 

Another stupidly early morning, another taxi, another plane. The descent in to San Jose airport was beautiful and I landed safely among the lush rainforest.

There was a man waiting for me outside the airport, he had a sign with my name on it, nice touch. He rang another chap who was to come and collect me. That was his only job, hold a sign then make a 5 second phone call. As we got into the minivan that came to collect me, he said ‘tip for me?’ I thought you cheeky bugger you’ve not earned one! I gave him some Colombian leftover coins and told him to be happy. He didn’t look impressed, but I wasn’t fussed.

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Bogotá

My flight left very early from La Paz to Lima, and I didn’t really have time to leave Lima airport before connection to Bogota. I grabbed some food and got on my second plane of the day, ready for my 3rd country of the day.

The Colombian taxi driver was very helpful and cheerful, and my taxi cost me 40,000 pesos, which I didn’t think was too bad. I dropped my bag off at the Hotel Portal De Oxum, which is surrounded by flower shops. The room was very compact, but clean and comfy. My first stop was an ATM for some cash, and it is the first (and probably last) time that I have withdrawn a million of anything from a cash point. I felt rich!

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Bolivian hospital and a near death experience

After the ice bucket challenge, I headed to Olivers Tavern once again for a vegetable curry and some vodkas. My stomach was gurgling a bit, but I thought it would go. Once back at the hotel the pain in my stomach was getting worse. Eventually I was sick, but I’m rarely sick from drinking, especially only a few vodkas, and the pain in my gut was telling me something was up. I was sick again, and again, and again. And again. I lost count eventually but the sink was full to the brim with rice and veg, and the shower had took some hammering too, not to mention the toilet.

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La Paz – and my Ice Bucket Challenge

The next morning I was not surprised when the hotel hadn’t arranged my taxi, and called for it as I checked out. I made my early flight regardless and was thankful to be back in La Paz as was still feeling ropey. I spent the majority of the day in bed back at Hostel Naira, sipping water and feeling sorry for myself.

I woke with hunger and little pain the next day and I wasn’t as grumpy as the previous few days. Pancakes and bananas went down a treat at Naira and after showering I headed to Kanoo Tours. I explained to the staff that ‘Al Extremo’ were dissatisfactory and Kanoo were again more than helpful, providing us with a refund. I gave some of this back immediately in exchange for tickets to Cholitas Wrestling, which is on Sunday and I am looking forward to. They also emailed me prices and details for some trips with Banjo Tours, which was very helpful.

I left happy and went for a look around the infamous ‘Witches Market’, where they sell llama foetuses as good luck charms for new houses, amongst other oddities.

witches_market2

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Puno to La Paz

So I jump in the pre-arranged cab, which is about the only thing Edgar Adventures did right. Tired and weary, I got to the bus station and paid 1 boliviano, some form of tax. The bus was due to leave at 7am, and this leg of the journey would be with Tour Peru. I showed my tickets but was told the bus I could see was for Copacabana, not La Paz. So I waited around another 10 minutes until bingo, La Paz bus. While waiting to board, I noticed that my tickets said La Paz and everyone else’s said La Paz directo. Just to be sure, I asked if anyone was sat in seat 13 (my seat). A lady said yes, and I knew I was in trouble. Continue reading “Puno to La Paz”