Sunday, October 30, 2011

Beach trip to Rawa island

Rawa is a tiny island on the east coast of Malaysia, not very far from Tioman where I went several times for diving.

But this time, no diving, just a lazy weekend on the beach. We actually only have a few photos because there was no memory card in the camera so we were (very) limited by the camera own memory.
But I think it's enough to make any Europeans jealous on this Halloween week end...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sport fanatics

On top of rugby, which I have already talked about, kiwis are crazy about sports and are definitely adrenaline junkies. Afterall they have invented bungy jumping!
I was not ready for bungy jumping (I can still feel my heart pumping from the sky diving last year) so we did some black water rafting in Waitomo caves, some skiing in the Tongariro national park, followed by hiking and finally White water rafting near Rotorua. And I'm still supposed to call that holidays!

Despite the water temperature (I would say around 10C), the black water rafting in the caves was probably the easiest activity. A couple of jumps and a lot of floating admiring the glow worms.
Skiing was a nice unexpected surprise. We had planned to do some serious hiking (that I was not totally convinced by). The day before, we went to get information at the tourist point when we were asked if we had crampons and ice axe. Hmmm no.... Apparently the hike is still covered with snow and ice. Other options were skiing or do a lower altitude walk. As we couldn't make up our mind, we went for both! 3h30 ski on the morning followed by 4h trek.
While enjoying the deserted slopes, the slow lifts and the spring snow, we were stopped by the following announcement:
This is a volcanic emergency announcement, please move immediately to higher grounds...
All lifts had stopped, a few people were moving and we were seriously wondering what was going on! So we moved to higher ground, waited for a bit (for the volcano to explode!) and after a while when the lifts restarted we went back down the mountains and that's only at this point that they made another announcement: we have now completed the volcanic emergency test thank you....
Great! Thanks! I'll remember my first time skiing on a volcano!
Hiking would have probably been a really relaxing walk if we hadn't been short on time. Most people were on their way back when we started the walk!
So, the 7h30 walk (according to the sign) was finished by a very grumpy M in 4h15!!! It was still beautiful...
Finally White water rafting. I have kept the best for the end. On the way to Rotorua we had stopped a couple of times to see famous rapids and falls so it wasn't a surprise that there was lots of rafting around. The trip sounded good: the biggest commercially raftable water fall in the world (7m) but the only requirement was to be above 13 years old, no previous experience required. Perfect! We got equipped with several layers of wet suits, splash jacket etc and then the training came in the bus to the starting point. Here are the key things to remember (then you tell me how you feel):
- if falling in the water, do not stay vertical, put your feet up immediately (otherwise broken leg will be the best outcome...)
- in the water fall, do not come out of the boat, hold and hold tight!
- if the boat flips, do not let go of the boat?!?!!!? Breath inside, then only come out when you hear banging on the boat
- if you let go of the boat, you'll get caught in the "washing machine system" of the fall (meaning you'll stay under water). Form a canon ball and the washing machine will expel you......
Now we can go rafting!!!
Imagine how delighted I was! Anyway, the boat did not flip and I managed to stay in the boat despite being shaken like mad. ( the boat went first completely vertical before going completely under water)
Now we are back to the adrenaline junkies that are singaporian taxi drivers ;-)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rugby world cup in New Zealand

If there are 2 words which go well together, it's rugby and New Zealand. In this small country it's like a religion and from what I have understood during our 2 weeks down under, it is not a laughing matter!

We landed in Auckland on the 24th of September, the day of NZ-France (also little sister's birthday but not the subject of this post), the locals were very tense. The track record of the All Blacks against us (Frenchies) in RWC is really not that good...
We watched the match in a pub, only 3 French people but we made as much noise as all the kiwi together! We lost very badly, the day after the press was tearing us into pieces... but after all, as they said, it was the B team...
And that really didn't get better after our defeat against Tonga that we had the pleasure of witnessing in Wellington stadium.

So on the morning of the quarter final against England, people were a bit nicer to us while we were having brunch in Auckland. No one thought we would stand a chance!
Note that menus in restaurant had been twicked for this big rugby WE.

We were hoping for the best! I didn't touch my French shirt for 3 days before (as I have now concluded it's jinxed), we had the flag, we got our faces painted with tri-colored roosters and R even bought a "beret" for the occasion (that he keeps on wearing now!)
We watched Ireland loosing against Wales on our way to the stadium on TVs that people had nicely put out in their front gardens. It was a good crowd, every one was having fun. And the game was obviously fantastic 16-0 at half time, for once I enjoyed the 2nd half, not too stressed out!
That was a happy qualification (for both players and fans) for the semis, totally unexpected and our friends from Scotland, Ireland and Wales were obviously delighted that we had managed to send England home!

Unfortunately for us, that was the end of the holidays in NZ, so since, we had to watch the rest of the world cup on TV, middle of the afternoon in Sg!

Actually for the semis, we were in Malaysia, R had called the hotel in advanced to check that they had sky TV and that they will be showing the match. And that's how we got to watch the French qualification with a bunch of English people (still bitter) and a very depressed Welsh guy on a paradise island.
We are obviously not very proud of how we played but after all, giving red card is not our call and if the Welsh can't kick we can't do anything about that either!

Conclusion, we will play the final against the All Blacks, in black (as we were fair play enough to let them wear their trade mark shirt) in Eden park. On the rugby planet it doesn't get any better!
Oh, wait, may be we could win?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

This month's photo: Supernatural

15th of the month, 12pm Paris time, here I am with my photo!

The subject of this month: Supernatural. As soon as it was announced, the rest of the group started worrying, it's not an easy topic. On my side, I think that I got the idea pretty much straight away. It was about a week before going on holiday and we were heading to New Zealand for the rugby world cup. One of the match we had tickets for was France Tonga (ok, we now know that was not THE match to see but not the point here...) and even if Tonga is not as well known as the All blacks, they do have a haka!

So here is my shot at the call to the spirits of the warriors before starting the battle:

Now, I'm personally very keen on discovering what the members of the group made of this theme:

Viviane, Vanilla, Urbamedia, Urbaine, Unjour-Montreal, Ty, Titem, Thib, TheMouse, Terhi, TambourMajor, Stephane08, Sprout©h, Sinuaisons, Sephiraph, Sébastien, Renepaulhenry, PavotdeLune, OùtrouveràMontréal?, Onee-Chan, Noon, Nomade57, Nolwenn, Niwatori, Nathalie, Mérantaise, M'dameJo, Maureen, Marion, Marie, Manola, Mandy, MagetsonMagàlire, magda627, M, LucileetRod, leviacarmina, lesegarten, LeLoutronGlouton, L'azimutée, Laure, Laurabreizh, LaParigina, LaPapote, LaMadame, LaFilledel'Air, Kyn, Krn, Karrijini, jenetdam, JeanWILMOTTE, Isabelle, Inesmeralda, Hugo, hibiscus, Grignette, Glose, Gizeh, Gilsoub, Frédéric, Frankonorsk, François, florianL, Filamots, Fabienne, Emma, E, Dr.CaSo, Dorydee, Doremi, Dicey, Cynthia, Claude, CindyChou, Cherrybee, Champagne, CélineinParis, Céline, Celiano, Cécy, CathyBrocard, Caroline, Caro, Carnetsd'Images, CalamityScrap, Boopalicious, blogoth67, Bao, Babou, Aude, Anne, Alice, Alexanne, Agnès, A&G, 4petitssuissesdansunbolderiz et 100driiine.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The end of the multi entries visa to Vietnam: Hanoi and Sapa

This time we are visiting B in his new home town and are planning to use all his knowledge before he disappears to Hong Kong.
Friday evening arrival, we meet without even using mobile phone (I bet that hasn't happened since the 90's) and we start exploring the city's roof bars. It's full of expats, it feels like being in Singapore apart from the curfew...
Saturday is dedicated to eating and drinking. I had made an attempt at convincing the boys to take a cooking class but no apparently they prefer going directly for the finished product! So after a nice breakfast at our hotel (that R didn't like), we stop for a bit of negotiation on a white roll that B had discovered the day before. It tastes a bit like brioche or sweet Singapore pau, but it's a bit dry so a minute later we stop for a sugar cane juice.
As we are good tourists, we buy a few souvenirs for family which is exhausting so we have another fresh fruit drink and some springrolls as appetisers which give us just enough energy to walk to the Market and have lunch! :-)

The last time we came to Hanoi, we went for lunch with R's family in a tiny street behind the Market, and it is still there! That's a nice change to be back to a place we have already been to. I like that, it's more relaxing, we don't spend all of our time looking at maps and guide book.
We have to abandon B pretty early as we are catching the night train to Sapa but we find some time during the afternoon to discover a well hidden roof bar: we went twice around the block before finding the entrance at the back of a souvenir shop, but it was worth it!

At 7.30pm, we board the night train to Sapa, the next 10h will be shared with au Australo-Canadian couple. It's not the most comfortable train as it's very shaky but we do get a couple of hours sleep before arriving to LaoCai (remember the beer a couple of posts ago?), right at the Chinese boarder. An hour later we are having breakfast in our hotel in Sapa with local girls from the Hmong ethny trying to sell us stuff from the entrance door.
At some point, we need to get out and they are all over us, they follow us everywhere. We finally decide to give in and agree on a deal: we'll first go shopping at the local Market to get supply for lunch, then we'll take a 6 km walk in the mountains to one of the girl's parents house where we will have lunch with the family and finally we'll continue the trek to another village before catching a ride back to Sapa. Here is the trip in photos:
On Monday, we take a different approach, we rent a motorbike and start exploring on our own: waterfall, quiet treck, another village.
By 5pm it's time to go back to the train station for another 10h ride to Hanoi which we reach at 4.30am. Here is a nice problem: what do you do at 4.30am in Hanoi?
First have a coffee, or a beef soup  as the locals! Then, by 5.30am get to the lake and do your exercise with the rest of the city! I made a few ladies laugh by trying to follow the tai chi lesson!
At 8am you are ready for breakfast, at 10, you are hanging in another of the Vietnam war museum and by 12 it's taxi to the airport with the weird feeling that it's lunch time but you have already had a full day of activities. May be I should get up early more often...
Here we go the multi entry visa has now expired, B is back in France and I'm typing this post on my way to New Zealand, so guess what is coming next?