Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where We Went

31/3/06 - Saigon - Hanoi, Vietnam
1/5/06 - Helsinki, Finland
5/5/06 - Tallinn, Estonia
8/5/06 - Saaremaa, Estonia
12/5/06 - St Petersburg, Russia
17/5/06 - Vladamir, Russia
18/5/06 - Moscow, Russia
23/5/06 - Lviv, Ukraine
25/5/06 - Bucharest, Romania
28/5/06 - Transylvania (Brasov & Sinaia), Romania
2/6/06 - Budapest, Hungary
6/6/06 - Zagreb, Croatia
9/6/06 - Ljubljana, Slovenia
12/6/06 - Lake Balaton, Hungary
15/6/06 - London, England
20/6/06 - Nice, France
26/6/06 - Castellane, France
19/7/06 - Avignon, France
21/7/06 - Aix-en-Provence, France
28/7/06 - Lyon, France
31/7/06 - Dijon, France
6/8/06 - Paris, France
14/8/06 - London, England
19/8/06 - Oslo, Norway
26/8/06 - Stockholm, Sweden
29/8/06 - Gdansk, Poland
1/9/06 - Warsaw, Poland
5/9/06 - Krakow, Poland
12/9/06 - Split, Croatia
16/9/06 - Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
22/9/06 - Dubrovnik, Croatia
25/9/06 - Zagreb, Croatia
26/9/06 - London, England
3/10/06 - Seville, Spain
7/10/06 - Algeciras, Spain
8/10/06 - Tanger, Morocco
9/10/06 - Marrakech, Morocco
11/10/06 - Boumaine du Dades, Morocco
12/10/06 - Erg Chebbi, Morocco
13/10/06 - Essaouira, Morocco
16/10/06 - Casablanca, Morocco
17/10/06 - Fes, Morocco
20/10/06 - Chefchaouen, Morocco
23/10/06 - Algeciras, Spain
24/10/06 - Granada, Spain
27/10/06 - London, England
2/11/06 - Bournemouth, England
3/11/06 - Cardiff, Wales
5/11/06 - Seaford & Brighton, England
10/11/06 - Saigon, Vietnam
15/11/06 - Can Tho, Vietnam
16/11/06 - Chau Doc, Vietnam
17/11/06 - Phnom Penh, Cambodia
22/11/06 - Siem Reap, Cambodia
26/11/06 - Saigon, Vietnam
27/11/06 - Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Summer in Sydney

We both had a few days off over Christmas, and got to enjoy Sydney from the harbour on Boxing Day, watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Dave's boat.

Sydney from the water

A few days after Christmas, we moved temporarily into Phil's new apartment in Pyrmont, which is next door to her current one. We got to house-sit while she's waiting for tenants. It was great being next door to Philly - many nights of late night drinking, and only having to walk down the corridor to go home!

Stripy pink sandwich

On NYE we watched the fireworks from Sal and Stormy's apartment in Potts Point. They had a murder mystery party in the afternoon, so everyone was in Hollywood costume. Em was a detective, and Gwil was a very dapper Fred Astaire.

Em and Gwil at midnight NYE

Sal and Stormy had the most amazing view of the fireworks - looking straight at the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, and down the harbour.

NYD was pretty relaxed, with a BBQ in the sunshine at Michaella's place.

NYD BBQ at Mic's

Friday, December 15, 2006


Flying home, sunrise over central Australia

We have now been back in Sydney for a week, and it has absolutely flown by.

While the weather hasn't quite been the summer sunshine that we were hoping for (today it's only 19 degrees!), we've had a great time relaxing at Turramurra, unpacking boxes of things we'd forgotten that we'd sent home along our trip, and playing with Gwil's two nephews - Jackson and Charlie (who was born while we were away).

Gwil even had the chance to dress up as Santa for Jackson's playgroup Christmas Party, and has now decided that he is leaving the landscaping industry to work as Santa for just the one month each year!

Em's returning to her old job at FBi on Monday, while Gwil's still on an island in Vietnam in his head!! One day he'll think about work again. Maybe.

We're looking forward to catching up with everyone in Sydney. We've set up our mobiles, with the same numbers that we had before we left. Hope to see you all soon!

Monday, December 04, 2006


Here are some videos from the last couple of weeks...

Gwil gets a snake around his neck (and between his legs!) in the Mekong Delta.

Getting hassled by the kids outside Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia. "You buy from meeeeeee. Three for one dollaaaaaaah".
We now have far too many bracelets after buying some from each of them!

Daz talks Gwil through eating a scorpion

A beach we spent an afternoon at, on a tiny island south of Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam. It had crystal clear water, and sand that was so white and fine it looked like flour. You could only get here by boat, so there was hardly anyone on the beach.

ps. They're expecting Typhoon Durian to reach the coast of Vietnam tonight, but it's north of Ho Chi Minh City, so shouldn't affect us. We hope that it won't do any damage in the areas that it hits.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

How Gwil spent his birthday

Gwil turned 26 yesterday! Old man!! But more about that later...

When we got back to Saigon from Cambodia, we got to catch up with Daz for dinner. Gwil had been keen to try scorpion or some other crazy menu-item from Vietnam, and thought that Daz would be a great partner-in-crime (ie. "I'll do it if you do it!"). So we left the ordering to Daz, as he could do it in Vietnamese. We had amazing BBQ beef and very fresh prawns (they were still jumping when put on the hot BBQ). Then out comes a big plate, with an even bigger scorpion on it. SCORPION. Not Scorpions!! Daz had ordered only ONE, which was all Gwil's!! A nasty trick, but once it was in front of him, Gwil couldn't turn back.

Crunchy Scorpion body

We are now in Phu Quoc, in a pretty fancy resort, with a bungalow that opens onto the beach.

Celebrating Gwil's birthday here was a lot of fun, with a big focus on doing not much at all!

We got massages on the beach,
How Gwil spent his bday - massages on the beach

chilled out under palm trees,
Relaxing by the palm trees

watched the sun go down from our bungalow's balcony,
Sunset from our hotel balcony

and ate the most amazing seafood buffet we've ever had, while barefoot on the sand, right at the ocean's edge.
How Gwil spent his birthday - Dinner on the sand

Sunday, November 26, 2006

No more countries to go...

We have returned to Vietnam from Cambodia... and this is our last stop. We've made it through 19 countries since the end of March this year.

We have climbed the Eiffel Tower in France, a Saharan sand dune in Morocco, the Giralda Tower in Spain, Holmenkollen ski jump in Norway, and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Our feet are getting a tiny bit tired, and we can't wait for our final week and a bit of relaxing on Phu Quoc Island.

Our view of Cambodia by the end of our trip there was really positive. The country and people have the most amazing energy. We met so many interesting and friendly people in the short time we spent there, and the temples of Angkor are incredible.

On our first day of exploring temples from Siem Reap, we did it the lazy way - with an 8am start, a guide and a tuk-tuk. We elbowed our way through the crowds of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom (The Bayon), and felt a bit like we were in a giant outdoor museum.

Em and Gwil, The Bayon

So, the next day, we set our alarms for 4am, and headed straight for the temples before the crowds. We watched the sunrise at Angkor Wat, and then headed to Ta Prohm (famous for being the 'jungle temple' covered in trees, and the location of some of the shots in Tomb Raider). We had Ta Prohm all to ourselves, which was an amazing experience. We wandered around the narrow temple corridors, under massive tree roots, and over piles of stone, without another person in sight. It was almost Indiana Jones style exploring!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Countdown to Sydney

We are now officially in the last two weeks of our adventure. We're spending the remainder of this week in Siem Reap, visiting the temples of Angkor, and then are spoiling ourselves with a week in a resort on Phu Quoc Island, just south of the border of Cambodia and Vietnam.

We found Phnom Penh a really interesting experience. Cambodia has been through so much conflict in the last hundred years, and many of the Khmers live in poverty. We were told by a woman who works at the Australian embassy that the government here can't support the Cambodian people, and they rely on donations from other countries and tourists. It particularly affects the children, with hundreds of street kids begging or selling books/jewellery/post cards, and others getting involved in the horrible sex trade. We had heard lots of things about kids here, but we never realised just how serious it is.

We made it a mini-mission while in Phnom Penh to eat at restaurants that trained street kids, to travel in tuk-tuks with drivers who are part of the "Child Safe" program (keeping street kids out of dodgy situations), and to buy souvenirs from shops that help charities or orphanages. Another part of this mini-mission was to find a REAL massage parlour (ie. not a brothel!), and get as many massages as possible. We had a great time supporting local business!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Food glorious food

We've made it to Phnom Penh, after 5 days in Saigon (stuffing ourselves with amazing fruit and food) and a boat trip down the Mekong Delta across the border of Cambodia.

Pho cravings

Just before leaving Saigon, we discovered a restaurant called Bo Tung Xeo, which boasts on it's menu an assortment of strange animals (and animal parts) such as Scorpion, Worm, Rat, Snake, and Goat Penis! We weren't feeling adventurous enough this time around, and settled for the BBQ beef which is their specialty. But we will be back in Saigon again before we fly home, so we might be able to let you know whether Rat or Scorpion taste "just like chicken".

Bo Tung Xeo

Our trip down the Mekong was great, and we got to see a side of Vietnam that we hadn't experienced yet. Floating markets, a Cham minority village, a fish farm village, coconut candy factory, and a crocodile farm. The people in the Mekong area were all really kind, and we spent one night near Can Tho staying with a family who lived right on the river.

Conical hats on the Mekong

Can Tho floating market

The boat trip to Cambodia took us through some remote villages dotted along the Mekong, with houses built high on stilts, and kids running to the shore to wave to the boat as we chugged past. They were all so cute and genuinely excited to see such strange pale skinned people! We're working on getting rid of the moon tan that seemed to attach itself to us as soon as we got back to London from Morocco!

House on stilts

We're now relaxing in Phnom Penh for a few days, before taking on the crowds at Angkor Wat later in the week. Cambodia is beautiful, and the food here (a constant focus of ours!) is also fantastic. It's a bit of a mix between Thai and Vietnamese, so there's lots of spice and colour.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Seaford to Saigon

Our last trip in Europe was to Seaford (where Em's dad and grandparents are from), which is right next to Brighton, on the south coast of England.

Beach changing huts, Seaford

Seaford is a beach town, and was a good few degrees warmer than the rest of England, although it was still pretty cold!

The white cliffs of Seaford

We were yet to try English fish and chips, so we then drove to Brighton to eat at Harry Ramsden's and to play old-school arcade games on the pier.

Arcade games

We got back to London for Guy Fawkes night, and to spend a few days there packing our things and catching up with Bill, Oli, Zara, Saph & Rod, and big Gee from FBi.

Oli and Bill at Wimbledon

Gwil, Em, Saph and Rod

Gee and Em

And are now in Saigon, Vietnam.

We've spent 4 days back here so far and are loving the craziness and energy again (the traffic is somewhat less crazy though this time around, and even seems to be following rules, unlike when we were last here in April. Cars now drive only on the right hand side of the road, and they stop at red lights!). The Vietnamese people have to be some of the friendliest that we've met in the entire world, and the food here really is amazing.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Search results... did we find another Gwilym?

Our search to find another Gwilym in Wales led us through the south of England, travelling past some of the UK's major tourist attractions... but we didn't actually go in to see most of them.

We went to Windsor (where the castle was too expensive to enter, so we saw it from outside), Stonehenge (which had closed the gates 5 minutes before we got there, so we saw it from outside), and Bath (where the baths were too expensive, so again, we saw them from outside).

Windsor Castle
Outside the walls of Windsor Castle

Stonehenge at sunset
Sunset at Stonehenge (through the fence)

There were a few funny (and free) attractions that we did get to though. We made it to the smallest pub in England (in a town called Godmanstone), and also to see "The Rude Man" (AKA the Cerne Abbas Giant) - which is a man carved into a chalk hillside 2000 years ago, with a large appendage between his legs!

The Cerne Abbas Giant (AKA
The Rude Man

The smallest pub in England!
The smallest pub in England

Making it to Wales late on Friday night to begin our search for another Gwilym, we pulled up in Cardiff to discover that there were almost no hotel rooms free... as we were there the night before the Wales v Australia game, and the people we met thought we were incredible unpatriotic to not know that it was happening!! We ended up finding a room after a long search, and got to experience the Welsh craziness that builds up before a rugby game.

Understanding Welsh...
Understanding Welsh

We spent the next morning shop-hopping, trying to find the name Gwilym on a keyring or a pen, but had no luck. So, we began our search to find another person called Gwilym... We unsuccessfully checked out the name badges of staff in bars and shops, and ended up in in Welsh shop to ask the girls behind the counter if they knew a Gwilym that we could meet. "No", they answered, "But you might find one in the mountains"!!! So it seems that Gwilym is just as unusual a name in Wales as in Australia!!