25th JULY:Feeling in desperate need of an adventure I’d booked a one-way flight to Amsterdam and made no further plans, until I was at Heathrow! After touching down and successfully navigating my way out of Amsterdam Schifoll airport and onto the right train I arrive in the city center, where it’s now time to find my hosts. While waiting to board my flight from London, I’d posted a last minute ad on backpacker website Couch Surfing to see if anyone could put me up for the night, and I was in luck, after wandering the streets for the best part of 2 hours I eventually found them.
There are many things you can do for the Residential section of your Gold Duke of Edinburgh. You can do a Corde en Bleu cookery course in a fancy hotel in Oxford for the week, you can work on a kids camp in Scotland. You could even take a barge up and down the river in Kent and carry out conservation work for the British Wetland Society. OR, you can join the Snow Crazy Chalet Host Cookery Course in La Rosier, France for a few weeks and learn how to be a ski Chalet Host. Well, why not?
We mistakenly thought we would be well rested after spending the previous day leisurely taking in the sights (sounds and smells) that Hong Kong had to offer. However, we unfortunately hadn’t factored in the unofficial ‘Symphony of Car Horns’ that lasts for the entire duration of the night…EVERY night.
The journey across was pretty quick, much quicker and more efficient than immigration from mainland China to Macau, just basically a walk over a long bridge. Around 8am we checked into the ‘Cosmic Guesthouse’ …”The crystal-clean, quiet, friendly and secure ‘Cosmic’ is a consistent favorite with travelers…” read the description in Lonely Planet.
After a suitable party-fuelled recharge in Guangzhou (well, what else is there to do there) I was heading to Macau for my own little bit of family history, and some amazing egg tarts (mum had gone on and on about then for ages, so I figured I simply had to try them!) I checked into the Victoria Hotel for the best nights sleep I’d had since the toy town in Mongolia! As with most hotels in China, I was highly amused by more Chinglish signs.
Twenty Eight Hours Later – sounds like the introduction to a horror story doesn’t it? Well it felt like it…I am NEVER doing 28 hours on a hard sleeper train EVER AGAIN! I finally arrive in Guangzhou – dubbed the ‘European Party Capital of China’.
Saved the last of my pennies to afford a flight from Beijing to Shanghai, still not sure if I would have been better off getting the train…either way it was still like being in folded into a tin can next to a furnace. But it got me to my destination eventually (after a 3hr delay)
The time for goodbyes as classes were over and I had a few more weeks until I would hop back over the pond.
Many a red cup had been drunk from, many a crazy party had been had (with many a stumble back home along Route 66 from Burt’s Tiki Lounge, Downtown Albuquerque). I’d said goodbyes and now it was time to hit the road and soak up as much New Mexico sun as possible before heading back to the Wet Country (England).
Sourdough sculptures, groaning sea lions, the most amazing clam chowder – San Francisco really is one for the bucket list! I stayed with family friends in their stunning house, up the road from the beach with the most amazing view over Half Moon Bay! I quickly discovered, even tho it was May it was still pretty nippy, we are definitely still in coat-wearing season over here.
I could have gone somewhere local, yes, but I wasn’t thinking straight, and a $250 round trip to Hawai’i via Vegas was too much of a good opportunity to miss! I guess this is what happens when you come up with ‘good ideas’ without thinking them through first or checking various reports like ‘Jellyfish Reports’…jellyfish reports, seriously? Yes, and yes you should check them, as I learnt the hard way!