A Travellerspoint blog

China Beijing to Shenzhen and Hong Kong

"Just go"

semi-overcast 10 °C

Beijing

Arriving in Beijing was somewhat overwhelming. The simple task of getting to our hostel from the airport, with preprepared directions in Chinese characters was made difficult due to innumerable illegal taxis trying to rip us off at every turn. Ultimately we managed to bus it in to the city centre successfully, and ultimately found a legal taxi who still managed to charge us double claiming he couldn’t find our destination. A 4 km trip resulted in a 12 km trip – we find it hard to believe he didn’t know his way around the vicinity of the forbidden city. Frustrating!!!!

The top 10 highlights of Beijing were:

10. Bussing out to the Summer palace – beautiful gardens and lake. We also saw a free theatrical kung fu show.

9. The silk market which was 6 levels of the craziest market I’ve ever seen. I have never been hassled so much from every single stall you walk past, and bargaining was hard! Boy do they try you for extremely high prices! We managed to talk down 2 pairs of jeans from 1300 RNB ($400!) to 180RNB – they weren’t happy about it either, but didn’t want to miss out on a sale. I was called stingy – a title I hold with pride! Later that day a group of us were hanging out at our hostel talking about our purchases. One guy boasted he had bought 4 pairs for 400 RNB each. Everyone fell silent. Sucker!!

8. Street food – especially the crazy food at the night market - Dog stew anyone? How about scorpions? Silk worms? Sea horse? Crickets? No? Would penises, testicles or stomach take your fancy? Nick chose dumplings, sugared fruit and fried icecream....

3108004014_092336fe21.jpg?v=0
The night market and its crazy food

7.Eating Peking Duck in one of the famous restaurants. Nick even ate the tongue, not knowing it. Apparently very tender. Not for me.

6. Our amazingly beautiful hostel – the best we have ever stayed in. The hosts were incredibly helpful , the location brilliant, and the beds were super comfy and their food was yum! Located in a hutong near the forbidden city - City Walls Courtyard House Hostel comes with our highest recommendations!

3107208827_cb8f03b6ef.jpg?v=0
The hostel common area

5. Forbidden City. Inside the forbidden city was huge – many temples, the thickest walls surrounding it we have ever seen and beautiful imperial gardens. We also visited a student’s art exhibition (=scam? Maybe...) and did end up buying some artwork that we are very pleased with – 4 pieces representing summer, autumn, winter and spring. They are beautiful and for a total of $50 AUD, we don’t really feel we can claim to be ripped off!

3107183613_72d073b55a.jpg?v=0
forbidden jump

3107178751_64a0eac9e4.jpg?v=0
shot of the day - pretty sure this guy could be a model....

4. We saw an acrobatics show – we had VIP seats care of our hostel. They had some really neat tricks and tumbling acts. Nick’s favourite was a guy who balanced a ball on chopsticks in his mouth, he got to throw the ball onto the stage from the audience and the guy caught it on his chopsticks.

3108019410_1fbb787e04.jpg?v=0
Crazy woman balancing stuff in her mouth while twirling rings and riding a unicyle with one foot. not bad...

3. Jinshan Park was great. There were so many elderly people in the park doing dance classes, twirling ribbons to music, singing etc. There were three temples on a hill overlooking the forbidden city, and from here there were great views of the city, only partly obstructed by smog.

3107198725_49dbf18228.jpg?v=0
The oldies doing ribbon twirling in the park

2. Hiring bikes and riding amongst the insane traffic – organised chaos. We passed Tiananmen Square – biggest square in the world, and went to the temple of heaven.

3108034020_b0ebb7c89e.jpg?v=0
temple of heaven

1. Visiting the great wall of china from jinshanling to simatai which is mostly unreconstructed. It was a challenging and breathtaking 10 km hike. Nick had a beer to support his hbapg cause.

3081360365_a14d0cc5da.jpg?v=0
Drinking probably the best beer in my life, after hiking 10km on the great wall

3082199346_880d8dd794.jpg?v=0
sitting on the wall

Xian

The overnight train was not as bad as anticipated, but the smoke on the non smoking train made fi feel light headed. Consideration of others does not appear to be always the norm in Chinese culture. They have no concept of personal space, letting people off a train in order to get on, waiting in lines, obeying non smoking signs and general public hygiene (spitting, children defacating in public, availability of toilet paper...).

We did a day trip out to the terracotta warriors and were surprised to find so many remain unexcavated. Each warrior is unique, and their placement there, near Emperor Mings tomb, is thought to have been to ensure him protection as a ruler in his afterlife.

3107965382_ecf73b7d32.jpg?v=0
the terracotta army

In the evening we saw a water, light and music show at the big wild goose pagoda (biggest in china) near our hostel in Xian. We made good friends with the staff at the hostel. Nick had a Chinese lesson and managed to get the boss to let us borrow Jimmy to take us to a really hard to find traditional dumpling restaurant. It was amazing, the dumplings come on plates of 30 or 60! So we had one of each. 90 dumplings between the 3 of us!

3108024918_4d34af174b.jpg?v=0
Dumplings with Jimmy

The highlight however, was our trip to Hua Shan (mountain). Fi got really upset at a website which claimed that it was the most dangerous tourist attraction mountain in the world. We found it to be perfectly safe, and we had a lovely time hiking around the peaks and leaving a momento padlock at the highest point we reached.

3107960020_34523a9652.jpg?v=0
Cloud ladder on Hua Shan

3107954614_96c9c9ecc0.jpg?v=0
A lock with a view

Shanghai
Another night train and we were in the hustle bustle of Shanghai. Shopping galore! “fake stuff heaven” as promised by one of fi’s work collegues – thanks Emma! We did enjoy walking along the main street and being solicited by agents who took us down side streets to fake shop fronts and false doors that lead to a plethora of desiger ripoff’s along with rip off prices. Here we sharpened our bargaining skills and picked up a few really nice things at up to 80% off their original offer. We always felt a hint of satisfaction when the seller was not so happy with the final price. We ended up becoming "Kiwi’s" while shopping, to ensure the exchange rate game they play was to our best advantage!

3107140467_6d2c51c29a.jpg?v=0
yiyuan gardens

Shenzhen

We were met on arrival by Fi’s dad who preceded to spoil us for a week. Late night foot massages, delicious Australian wine and many "pijio", (our favourite being kingway, pronounced “ching way”) and we had some of the best food we have had this trip: teppanyaki, sichuan hot pot, yum cha, NYPD pizza (officially the best pizza in china), spicy prawn, thai, a lavish 6 star buffet at the Shangri la hotel, but the piece de resistance was drunken prawns at “the Island” cooked by the man himself! Nick made his spectacular karaoke debut, i think most people clapped when he finally got off stage. Shenzhen had amazing architecture and was more westernised than the other citys we had visited, the influence perhaps of so many "Guaylo" expats. Special thanks to Tim, Lindsay and Tracy, and Ian and Shirley for so many good times shared, and thanks to Bonnie for successfully taking us shopping for a new camera! We wish all the best for the opening x-pats bar, guarenteed to be the best bar in Shenzhen!

3107987834_92561e04ca.jpg?v=0
Sich uan hot pot, yes it tasted even better once it hits your lips.... so tingly

3107983762_7f89f8c50c.jpg?v=1229676885
Fi's Dad in action, drunken prawns

3107149659_133c77fc89.jpg?v=0
Shenzhen municipal center

Hong kong

We spent a quick couple of days in hong kong. What a difference from mainland china! The taxi driver was really helpful, people stopped to help us numerous times and they actually queued for public transport!! We took the peak tramway to the lookout on Victoria peak. Spectacular night view of hong kong and hong kong island. Rode the 800m travelator/escalator, the longest in the world. Paid too much for the vietnamese visa’s cos we told we needed “express service.” We strolled the temple street night market - the best market we have seen so far. Space is obviously precious in HK, and we found ourselves paying the most for accomodation since Europe, for a room smaller than a prison cell and no windows!

3107167901_2f04c027ed.jpg?v=1229676500
The market at night in HK

3107994822_dee163e33c.jpg?v=0
the 800m travellator!

3107160493_c52f932a4e.jpg?v=0
The view from victoria peak.

We are on to Vietnam next, and will be in Cambodia for Christmas. We wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. We do not have mobile phones functioning at the moment, but would love to hear from everyone via email. We look forward to seeing everyone back home in Melbourne early next year! xx

Posted by hutchie 09:47 Archived in China Comments (0)

Amsterdam and Belgium

Beer, Beer, Beer, and other types of Beer

rain 10 °C

Netherlands
On the road again! The bags are back on the back and heavier than ever. only 2 months left! We met up with some old mates in Amsterdam. We shared a room that was fully equipped with funky disco lights and mirror balls. Amsterdam was a lovely town and it was the first city where we didnt really do any sight seeing, we just had a really good time bar hopping and socializing with our friends. Having said that, we did as the locals do, hiring bikes and trying to run over tourists.

ams_bar_barrier.jpg
the gang at a great bar in amsterdam - Nick, jess, fi, bunx and chandler

ams_day_pretty.jpg
amsterdam by day

ams_night.jpg
even more gorgeous at night

It was very cool riding around town looking at the architechture and canals. we found a brewery in a windmill and sampled their beers.

3IMGP0014.jpg
windmill brewery

We drank the La trappe beer, the only dutch trappist brew. Amsterdam was having the Saint Nicolas festival, celebrating christmas or something. they had black helpers and were dancing everywhere. very politically incorrect, but they gave out yummy treats to all the kids (and us too!) We did go for a good walk through the red light district and toured the sex museum, and sampled the bakery treats in the coffee shops. (Thanks Jess and Westy for a fwe of your photos!)

3IMGP0003.jpg
by the canal when we were bike riding

phone_sex.jpg
nick, i knew you and your mate westy were dodgy - check out that dirty mo!

5IMGP0009.jpg
the scary sinterklaas

ams_bike.jpg
bike riding through dam square

Belgium
Belgium, finally! in beer heaven, i have never been so happy, within 3 hours i was ready to move to Antwerp. We found the best bars in Antwerp. The first bar we walked into was Oud Arsenaal, a bar favoured by local old men, but as the guide map said - old men often know what is good. Kulminator is run buy a husband and wife team that collect rare and aged beers. Some aged from the 70's. Here we drank the trappist beer Westvletern, which is pretty much impossible to get and is supposed to be illegal to sell. They served old beers in a basket. swanky! We did a trip out to the Westmalle abbey and beer cafe. we tried the Westmalle double and triple and a special one called half and half, which true to name is a mix of the double and triple. we had lunch there and ate the trappist cheese and their delicious paprika soup.

83IMGP0003.jpg
famous belgian fries

IMGP0024.jpg
nick loving life at the kulminator in antwerp

0IMGP0051.jpg
the owners of the Kulminator - Leen and Dirk

Bruges was cool. we watched the Colin Farrel movie In Bruges before we went, giving us a bit of an insight to this lovely town. The belfry tower was a treat, there was a guy playing the glockenspiel while we climbed it. very cool. Unfortunately 2 of the best beer cafes were closed on the night we were there but we managed to find a brewery cafe called De Garre, which was excellent. A visit to the chocolate museum rounded out the tour of Bruges. They had a demonstration of the making of pralines, and tasting too of course.

IMGP0039.jpg
chocolate tasting after the demonstration at choco story in bruges

4IMGP0011.jpg
bruges view from the famous belfry

IMGP0025.jpg
Old men playing bocce in a square, near the church of the holy blood. You can also see part of the modern artwork the locals call the car wash.

Brussels. Street art of Tin Tin while you walk from bar to bar is a cool sight as you wander the streets. We saw the city from above by going up a parking high rise, a cheaper alternative to other cities. We toured the Cantillon brewery, the last brewery in brussels. they brew lambic style, which is spontaneously fermented by air-bourne yeast that only occurs in belgium. Manniken Pis, the little pissing statue, and the open air urinal on the side of a church were interesting sights. Brussels is home to Delirium, which holds the world record for beers, 2004 different beers available. we sampled a few.

IMGP0023.jpg
cantillion brewery in brussels

3IMGP0011.jpg
Mannekin pis

So in the last few days we have drunk beers including....
Hoegaarten, Hoegaarten special, Traubadour, Westmalle double, Westmalle Triple, Orval, aged Orval (2006), Archel, Timmermans Kriek, Adelardus, Karmeleit triple, Gordons Xmas ale, Westvletern, St Louis Gueuze, Oud Beersel Gueuze, Kasteel Kriek, Kasteel Blonde, Chimay Blue, Mort Subite Kriek, Gouldin Carolus christmas ale, Malheur, De Koninek, Stella, Brugse Zot blonde and bruin, Hoegaarten Rosee, Kriek Max, De Garre Triple, Lindemans Pechehesse (peach kriek), Kwak, Celise Witte, Jacobins Gueuze, Rodenbach, Cantillon Gueuze and Kriek, Delirium Tremens, Delirium Nocturum, Rochefort, Mort Subite lambic blonde, Gulden Draak, Kapittel triple, poppering hommel beer, La trappe tripel, Maes, Jupiler, and probably a few others that we tried when the memory was a bit fuzzy.
highlights were the Westvletern and chimay, the karmeliet triple, the christmas ales and some of the krieks in particular the Max and Kasteel.

2IMGP0013.jpg
nick and his favourite beer, drinking at oud arsenaal

IMGP0053.jpg
drinking the kwak in the cool glass at de garre in bruge

0IMGP0001.jpg
Nick trying to choose one of the 2650 beers available at Delirium

Austria
Last but not least we had a stopover in Vienna on our way to Beijing. This part of trip was a comedy of errors of sorts....
When we got to the airport train station, we accidentally ended up going the wrong direction on the train - only realising this at the end of the line, in the middle of countryside and nowhere! Had to wait an hour for the train to return to vienna airport and continue on half an hour in the opposite direction! What better way to see the countryside right??!! Once in vienna we found our hostel without too many dramas, and headed out for a night at the opera! Having missed the show at the state opera, we planned to see the other opera which was apparently starting an hour later at the other venue. When we arrived we found that we must have been told the wrong start time, but could get in cheaply anyway at intermission - standing room tickets at 3€! We didnt miss much - neither of us particularly loved the opera, it was in german, but translated in english on little screens. the orchestra was cool though, and the opera house was beautiful, lots of old important looking people very dressed up and eating hors'deuves and wine during the intermission.

We ate wiener schnitzel for dinner - massive servings of veal schnitzel, and dry and greasy and sadly dissappointing. Wanted to catch the christmas market afterwards - but it was closed!

2IMGP0009.jpg
The Wiener Schnitzel, not bad but got nothing on a parma

Next day we rode the tram around the city loop. We were told we could get on either the 1 or 2 tramin either direction. Lies! The number 2 took us somewhere the equivalent of Preston!!! another wasted hour on our 30 hour stopover! grrr! But then we caught the right tram, saw the spanish riding school/palace etc. We also visited the state opera - and it turns out we had been there the night before!! we had somehow ended up at the wrong opera!!!! so we saw the nice one anyway without realising it!

63IMGP0003.jpg
At the Opera.

Vienna had beautiful architecture, we had a lovely yet very cold time here. The highlight was the giant christmas market in front of the town hall, which had been made into an advent calender with numbered windows up to 24. Gorgeous! So was the Gluhwein that brought back memories of Germany 10 years ago for Fi...

0IMGP0025.jpg
The night market

Now onto China and a very different travel experience......

Posted by hutchie 12:57 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Trippin around Ireland

Road, rain, Irish town name obituaries, and a giant who dressed as a baby

rain 10 °C

We spent our last week in Ireland sightseeing western and northern ireland by car. First Stop the Cliffs of Moher. we arrived near sunset, for a spectacular view over Ireland's answer to the 12 apostles. It was windy as hell and freaking cold, but worth the visit to see amazing cliffs, with huge sea spray.

3IMGP0001.jpg
cliffs of moher at sunset from a distance

IMGP0017.jpg
cliffs of moher

Stayed the night in Doolin, in the cosy, well recommended Rainbow hostel. For dinner we went to the famous McGanns for a pub meal. Unfortunately we were too sick to stay for the live music that the pub was most renouned for. The Irish weather had finally got to us, as we were both suffering from the most severe colds that we can remember.

7IMGP0001.jpg
Doolin old cemetary

Next stop was Galway, where we had a quick walk around of the sights and the town center. On the way to Galway we passed through "The Burrens", best described by Fi as looking like the rock man from the never ending story movie.

06IMGP0003.jpg
The burren

We also drove through the Connemara, a beautiful part of ireland just north of Galway that was described in our guidebook as "so beautiful it makes your brain hurt". Unfortunately it was raining so hard we couldnt see 10 meters outside the car, in driving conditions so difficult, it made our brains hurt. We had a pitstop in Westport which seemed like a beautiful town, but as it was 4pm and getting dark we pressed on to Sligo. Our Hostel receptionist in Sligo asked us what month it was.... It's a bit of a slow town. For dinner Fi had the "recession special" - Dont ever be tempted to try curry cheese chips. It tastes even worse than it sounds.

59IMGP0001.jpg

We stopped at a waterfall just out of Sligo, and visited the Carromore Megalithic tombs. 2500BC stone tombs and stone circles. pretty impressive stuff. It was actually closed but there was a contractor emptying the sewerage tanks and he let us in for our own self guided tour. Nearby was another massive stone tomb on a hill of some important queen, but time restrains and more rain dissuaded us from scaling the hill for good views etc.

2IMGP0014.jpg
megalithic tomb with knocknorea in the background

1IMGP0022.jpg
waterfall near Sligo

We pushed on to northern Ireland, where the roads were much better maintained and the distance was now in miles. We visted the Giants Causeway. The legend goes a Giant named Finn McCool built a stone bridge from ireland to scotland to challenge a rival giant. He got scared and when he saw his rival approaching and ran home to his wife for advice. His wife disguised him as a baby to hide him. When the rival saw the baby he was scared at the size of Finn's "baby" and ran away destroying the giants causeway behind him. So the moral of the story is.....

IMGP0033.jpg
a castle on the cliff edge - apparently built so close to the edge, the kitchen fell in

IMGP0041.jpg
Giants causeway rock formations

IMGP0051.jpg
giants causeway

After a massive day on the road we ended up in Belfast. In the morning we did a black cab tour of Belfast. Our very thickly accented driver took us to all the politically important sites - Shankill road with its pro loyalist, anti IRA murals, to Belfasts very own "Berlin Wall" which has gates that still close every night to separate the two communities. We saw the most most bombed hotel in the world (it has been blown up 36 times), and visited the IRA headquarters. For 90 minutes we were submerged in the turbulant history of Northern Ireland, learning that there are no easy answers to this political (not religious) land dispute, about the desparate struggles, hunger strikes, and the 18 bombs that have been disarmed in the last 6 months.... It also really brought into perspective the situation in palistine. We were also given the opportunity to write a peace message on the wall - and so are now part of the history. We found it absolutely fascinating, one of the best tours of our trip so far.

6IMGP0008.jpg
shankhill road mural

IMGP0013.jpg
dividing wall

IMGP0016.jpg
republican mural

On our way back to kilkenny we went via powerscourt waterfall and glendalough - fi's favourite place in ireland, so beautiful.

IMGP0029.jpg
powerscourt waterfall south of dublin

IMGP0014.jpg
Glendalough

IMGP0026.jpg
Glendalough

We covered a lot of ground and managed to see a lot of things in such a short time. A few things stood out about the green isle...

- the irish really do love their guiness and drink a lot of it
- the country roads are somewhat narrow, and all the roads are country roads... and there are ALWAYS tractors driving slowly and nowhere to pass them!
- the names of towns read like an obituary - kilkenny, killarney - there are heaps!
- other favourite town names include - Borris, Borris-in-Ossory, Two-mile-Borris, Doon, Emo park, and Bally.... (insert about 1000 names here..)
- they always talk about the weather (but its always raining)
- you are "just after" reading the end of our blog.

Posted by hutchie 09:26 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Life in Ireland, Oktoberfest, and Paris!

Guinness, Bier, Beer baths and Champagne...

rain 10 °C

A long time has passed since we last updated this blog, sorry. A picture tells a thousand words so I've added heaps of photos (also too lazy to write?)!

We have been living in Ireland since mid August, trying to earn a few euros, and have been enjoying not living out of a back pack for a while!

We have also been lucky enough to do a couple of "small trips" around Europe - we travelled to Munich for Oktoberfest at the end of September, then went to the Czech republic where we stayed in a brewery spa (and had beer baths), then explored Prague. From there we reunited ourselves with all our friends in London and watched the AFL Grand Final in an Aussie "walkabout" pub at 430am! We also explored Oxford and visited Christchurch College where the famous Harry Potter dining room was inspired.

Oktoberfest

IMGP0001.jpg
At the Lockenbergs - Michael Tina and Lasse. Dressed for Oktoberfest

IMGP0038.jpg
Oktoberfest - in the Hacker Pschorr Tent with Alix and Felix

fi_oktoberfest.jpg
Being a beer wench

IMGP0003.jpg
Outside with nicks mates

Czech Republic

IMGP0012.jpg
Hutchy having his beer bath in Chodovar

IMGP0022.jpg
Prague square at sunset

IMGP0009.jpg
clock

IMGP0015.jpg
nick in praha town square

Oxford

IMGP0008.jpg
The Harry Potter dining hall at Christchurch College in Oxford.

Paris

We also spent a few days in Paris recently, doing all the sights. Loved the Musee D'Orsay, and were fortunate enough to have glorious weather to explore. We stayed in the Latin Quarter which was a perfect location for amazing food at reasonable prices, and great base to explore from. We also travelled out to Epernay in the champagne region and toured Moet Chandon which was a highlight - 17 miles of cellars, stood next nearly 100000 bottles of Don Perignon, and ended up having the "full tasting" after making friends with the tour host!

IMGP0032.jpg
Champagne tasting

IMGP0043.jpg
Outside the Louvre

IMGP0046.jpg
Eiffel tower

IMGP0181.jpg
Paris at night

IMGP0062.jpg
Fountain outside Musee Pompidou

Kilkenny

After a couple of weeks in Dublin with Bec and Dave, I (Fi) came to Kilkenny Ireland in mid August to visit Tony who was doing some physio work here, and fell in love with the place. Fortunately I found work pretty quickly at an awesome wine and tapas bar called the Grapevine. I moved in where Tone was staying, just a 15 min walk from the centre of town. Through work at the wine bar I've made some great friends and had some wonderful times - many involving drinking yummy wine from all over the world, and eating lots of tuscan ham and cheese!!! (And the occasional peroshki thanks my my lovely polish friends!) I'm really sad to leave as I have enjoyed my time so much here, I love the people I work with, and its even better since Nick and Bec both moved to KK. It has also got me thinking - maybe I will open my own wine bar one day....

IMGP0011.jpg
My work

fis_work_mates.jpg
My lovely work colleagues - Lizzy, Anna, T, and Sabastian (Irish, Polish, Aussie, New Zealander and another Polish!)

5IMGP0001.jpg
wine tasting at the Grapevine (my work)

I also recently started a second job (the recession is hitting everyone hard over here), and have been working in Monsoon/accessorize for the past few weeks too. AWESOME discount, and a great excuse for a new wardrobe and some jewellery - no doubt I needed some new clothes!!!

KK is an old medieval town with a castle and gorgeous castle grounds great for walking around, and old cathedrals and other buildings. It also has a surprisingly high amount of pubs and bars - our favourites being - the grapevine of course! and matt the millers on monday, langtons on tuesday, left bank any day! and an honourable mention to lanigans for playing a live version of skippy dedicated to us!

8IMGP0001.jpg
town hall with the Hurling teams colours draped over it

9IMGP0001.jpg
castle grounds on a nice day

IMGP0006.jpg
main street kilkenny

IMGP0004.jpg
Jumping the castle

We have become well accustomed to drinking guiness - it really does taste a million times better over here in ireland, had many an irish stew and plenty of potatoes (sometimes done three ways in one dish!). We are used to the rain, but I will NEVER get used to the cold - and its starting to get REALLY cold now in late october.

We are hoping to see a little more of the country over the next couple of weeks before we leave. Although, we have had a few wonderful day trips and so far have been to Kells Priory, the rock of Cashel (no blue cheese to be found anywhere in town however!), kissed the Blarney stone near Cork, seen the cliffs of Moher in the west, and Dublin.

My turn now, thanks fi, not a bad job....

When we arrived in Ireland i headed down to county kerry to Killarney to find work there. As it is a popular tourist spot i thought it would be a good place to find bar work. turns out that ireland is suffering badly from the current economic situation and they are having a poor tourist season and there is high unemployment everywhere. After much frustration i went on the ring of Kerry tour, which was quite impressive. Diverse landscapes from national parks to sheer cliffs and mountain passes to beautiful beaches.

From Killarney i decided to go to a larger city with more employment oportunities. Cork, as ireland's second largest city seemed like the best place to go. Cork was not as picturesque as other places in Ireland as it is quite a big port town and was pretty industrial. I found work within a few days with a catering mob but quit with out starting as the hostel i was staying at offered me a job. the pay was lousy (8.70 an hour) and they charged me 15 euro a night to stay there (even though i was working for them!!), but it was good craic, run by a bunch of NZ'ers they were always having a party and something on all the time.

I did a day trip to the Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney stone. All the locals say they have pissed on it or done something unsavoury to it, and laugh at all the stupid tourist kissing a stupid rock. Anyway i went out there with some friends and we had a good picnic and a few pints.

5IMGP0003.jpg
The Blarney Castle

Upon returning from Oktoberfest, i moved up to Kilkenny. Fi had pretty much arranged a Job for me at a traditional Irish bar. Its very different to the hostel in cork, all my work collegues are irish and understanding their thick kilkenny accent is a constant challenge. I have regulars called Paddy, Mick (trouble), Jim, Jack, Brian, Mick, Jack, Brian and Paddy. (no joke) and they all have things they like being done the same way every time.

Kilkenny is much more beautiful than Cork, the people are much friendlier and it has a real small country town feel to it. I feel much more relaxed here and could really be happy living here for an extended time, except for the freaking weather. everyone will comment on it. It is so cold and it is a good day if it doesnt rain all day.

1IMGP0001.jpg
Kilkenny City main street.

1IMGP0004.jpg
Kilkenny, center of town. note the brewery in the background.

Posted by hutchie 04:36 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Sweden and Scottland

Throwing sticks for our country in Sweden, and comedy, comedy and some more comedy in Edinburgh.

semi-overcast

"Kubb unites people and brings peace on earth" motto for the Kubb World Championships

On the first and second of August 2008, the first ever team from Australia - Team Barramundi, entered the 2008 World Championships of Kubb.

These brave 10 Aussies, entered their team online back in May, confident of taking out at least a bronze medal for their country. Despite their being 160+ teams perhaps this was a little cocky, especially as the majority were from Sweden. There was a team also form France, Germany and Switzerland, but that was about as international as it got.

With classy uniforms (thanks social comittee), a killer theme song, and plenty of sledging ability, team Barramundi set up camp in their teepee headquarters in a field somewhere near Rone, on Gottland Island Sweden. This was where the games would take place.

kubb_1.jpg
team barramundi

teepee.jpg
Barramundi headquarters

It appears we may have misjudged our competitors. Initially thinking we should set up our HQ somewhere away from the rest of the campers as to not completly disrupt them with our reunion antics, it was us who were kept awake all night by the crazy swedes (one lot of campers had set up a nightclub in their caravan!), the night before day 1 of competition.

kubb_sign.jpg

kubb_set.jpg

An early morning start on Friday saw us too sober - conditions we were not used to when playing the game - training sessions usually took place late friday nights at the Belgian Beir Cafe, with pints in hand. Our first opposition was a family with young children form Gottland. Mum was captain and a solid performer. Even the 10 year odl with the rats tail hair was impressive. Embarrassingly we lost in straight sets in record time - we barely hit one kubb over... The shame...

kubb2.jpg
Kubb spiel

kubb_opposition.jpg
The opposition - smashing us

jane_kubb.jpg
Jane the metronome Elliott takes one for the team

The second opposition were another lovely family from Gottland. They agreed to wait a couple of hours until the other guy arrived, and to give both teams a chance to have a few drinks (G and T at 930am through long straws - desparate times called for desparate measures...) We played much better this game, although were still beaten convincingly in 2 sets. And I should mention that one of the opposition had Downs, and not only was he more consistant than us - he even could sledge us in English... Our medal dreams were dashed - it was all over for us. We got to play in the mini championships in the arvo but continued our losing streak. One of our earlier opposition even tried to coach and cheer for us - to no avail. Rubbish. All we were good for was cheering/sledging.

kubb_3.jpg
kubb spiel - action shot of Terry-fying

But we had a wonderful time - we made page 7 of the local newspaper which did a huge article on us, our training techniques and the fact we were the best team in Australia (being the only team). It was hilarious! We made lots of friends with the Swedish, they loved our punch - thats what really unites people and brings peace on Earth.

kubb_news.jpg
we made the news!

The second day of competition was alarmingly serious and the quality of play was quite outstanding! The team that won did so for the ninth consecutive year - they need to find girlfriends and do something with their life seriously!

The team also visited Visby where there was a medieval festival on - Nick loved it. We ate swedish meatballs and watched people hurp giant logs and walk around in costume.

We did a fly by through Stockholm old town on the way to the airport - getting lost in the city and unabl to find the road out was quite stressful. the old town was pretty neat - would be gorgeous when covered in snow.

We flew to Liverpool (thank you ryanair 2 cent flights) and managed free train tickets to Edinburgh the next day (long boring story).

Edinburgh

This is one of the best cities Ive ever been - its absolutely charming with its old Harry Potter style stone buildings, haunted pubs and graveyards, and the beautiful story of Greyfriars Bobby (slept on his masters grave for 14 years after he died.) We were there for the Festival and the town was abuzz with comedy, theatre and the military tattoo. We were there for a week - and I wish I had a UK visa coz I didnt want to leave - tried to apply for a job at the awesome hostel we stayed at - but they were too official about things. Maybe next year! We saw heaps of comedy and lots of free shows too. Highlights were seeing David O'Dougherty, Mark Watson, and Sammy J. I also saw a great impro musical. Can't wait to go back to Edinburgh - nxt time I might do some of the real sightseeing - the castle, palace etc. We did climb Arthurs Seat aka the Craggs, which gave an awesome view of the city.

IMGP0002.jpg
Edinburgh castle

IMGP0010.jpg
Hollyrood palace

8IMGP0012.jpg
one of the comedy venues - the udderbelly

6IMGP0003.jpg
greyfriars bobby

Now we are in Ireland looking for work. Probably wont have anything interesting to write for a while. Will put up more photos when we can.

Maybe check out www.vmkubb.com for more stuff on kubb.

Hope you are all well wherever you are - please email us - we always love hearing from everyone. xxxxx Fi and Nick

Posted by hutchie 05:38 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 23) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 »