Bikes in Vietnam toot -toot- beep- beep

Have you ever been to Vietnam? Motorbikes and push bikes are life!

Unlike the western world where we go to the local shops and park our car or motorbike in a car park go to the butcher or Woolworths to get our groceries, in Vietnam and here in Hoi An, there is still a lot of ‘street activity’ with the locals bringing their produce to town and selling it in the street and the local market.

They may live 20 minutes away or 2 hours.

Imagine going to Paddy’s market and riding through on your bike and just stopping at the stall for what you want. That pretty much happens here morning noon and night.

People just stop on the side of the road- for a juice, a bowl of Pho (pronounced fu), for meat all freshly brought to market along with fruit, veg or herbs whilst still sitting on their motorbike or push bike.

The tailor has someone from their workshop stop and deliver pants, or 2 guys on a motorcycle – 1 driving the other holding 6 slabs of bottled water to drop of at the quikky mart.. just incredible to see.

The stall holders set up to work until their produce is sold and then they pack up and go home. They may come back again in the afternoon with more meat or veg to sell and as it’s so fresh they really don’t need the golden food safety guide we have in Australia where we have 2 hours out of the fridge or 4 hours in a display before it needs refrigeration or gets thrown out.

Some stalls cook only breakfast, others BBQ duck or chicken and only set up at night.

When you have street meals you sit at little plastic tables and chairs, use chop sticks that you wipe over quickly with a square of paper and you NEVER touch the table! goodness knows what may have been there. If you have rubbish, like the little square of paper ( no serviettes here) or bones, you throw them on the floor under the table. It’s just the way they do it here. It’s not like a restaurant where you may sit back and have a drink and think about how much food you ate, it’s about quick food that is not only delicious and filling but it’s home cooked food brought out to the street on a cart and completely packed up when finished including sweeping the rubbish.

There is of course the western restaurants but where is the fun in that!

Now back to the constant tooting and beeping! Unlike Bali where it is a constant beep to see if you want a Taxi, here in Vietnam it’s part of the way a busy congested city and often the whole country keep the wheels turning -pun intended. The golden rule is you actually very rarely come to a complete stop, you toot to say you are going around the corner, you toot to say you are turning, you toot to say I’m coming around you – you just bloody toot! Except of course if you are a pedestrian…… you just cross the road, slowly and again you never completely stop, you just keep moving and they just toot and go around you!

It makes for some hair raising taxi rides, as everyone tries to go about their business, all with the hand on the beep beep button.

I cant believe we have been here for 10 days, and almost everyday we have walked and ridden our bikes all over Hoi An, out to the beach, to Yoga, through rice fields and along lane ways, up and over bridges and into remote villages and just enjoyed the local way of life. This has mostly been in the morning as the heat is almost unbearable.

Our activities have been varied, from going to cooking school at an echo village, and learning yet another version of spring rolls, the best we have had or maybe that was the oil they were cooked in ? Wading in thigh high water (depending on how tall you aren’t) with a professional photographer, to chat the the fishermen in the river as they catch the pippies that they sell and allow us to photograph them ….. Just wow!

I think Etienne the pro was enjoying himself, the warm afternoon light amazing clouds in the sky, tramping through corn fields and around rice paddies…….. insert big sigh- life is bloody fabulous.

We have loved our painting and sketching classes with Anna and another local artist. We trekked out to the Ba Na Hills and saw the Golden hand bridge.

Been to beach clubs and 5.00am trips to the fish market -wow wasn’t that an eye opener- with a hangover and all done with a smile on our faces.

We call out hello or Xin Chao, smile and wave and embrace this amazing country. They all smile because they think it makes them more attractive, the kids are cute all want to say hi!

Today was a brilliant day, we got to meet another artisan from Northern Vietnam- Cham and her family now live here in Hoi An. Cham studied fine arts has travelled all over the world and shared her passion with us about the local hand embroidery. Now don’t yawn it was actually so much fun, and to see this young mum sharing her experiences and passion for a tradition called Hmong embroidery with us and allowing us to see her father’s beautiful arts works about the heritage of the skilled embroidery and how they spin the silk and hand dye their cloth, was as our friend Pete would say Marvellous!

It was in an amazing new hotel, that was styled just the way I like it and we got to buy pottery plates that we ate an amazing lunch from!

Tonight we went to a seafood restaurant as the skipper and I have 1 more day here in Hoi An before we take the long way home to Sydney via Saigon and head to Bali for a wedding and a catch up with our friends from our Vietnam tour in 2018.

I’m sure this won’t be the last time we visit this amazing country we have loved travelling with Mez again whom we went to India with a few years back and we have made a new friend Bev from Adelaide and I’m sure we will see her again soon.

Lastly Happy birthday to my papa bear Alan – 81 year young today.

Till next time Mrs Wong x

To Market to market……

Goooood Morning Vietnam!

It’s so refreshing to be on a slow travel tour. Staying at the one Hotel where we can totally unpack, have our own room to spread out in and therefore have our own down time and also choose to join our scheduled activities or not.

Anna from Art Food Culture and her local (required) guide Yen have been taking us all through the local markets ! It chaotic and I love it.

We are staying on a small island about a 15 minute stroll or quicker cycle ride across the river to the yellow ochre town.

Whether we are heading to yoga or cycling to the beach exercise it has to be done early! Like before 6.30am otherwise it is just to hot. The cycle trip to An Bang beach is around 11 kilometres there are back. It’s a flat ride out of town past rice paddies, buffalo and the most smiling locals you have ever seen.

I didn’t get to see the sunrise, I got stuck in a funeral procession on the way, so I just enjoyed the sunny morning and the sound of the ocean and watching the locals all enjoy their swim. They have this whole area of open communal showers! It was hilarious to see. Did I tell you it’s 37 degrees and 150 % humidity ?

Below is the public swim area and all along the beach are these amazing beach clubs that are fairly new to this part of town, and I guess they need to keep up with the tourist demand. More expensive than the old town for drinks and food and obviously westernised. The Moyo Beach Club is one such new addition, where we enjoyed DJ music, cocktails and wonderful service from this new crew….. and the view and cool breeze ahhhhhh.

Sunday Session at Moyo Beach Club An Bang.
The public access area

After yoga, or whatever you want to do we head to the market for coffee, and breakfast.

Sitting on tiny little red stools, everyone just shuffles around the tables and the women create the most amazing soup noodles !

I am so loving not having a buffet breakfast at our hotel. Anna is taking us to some of the most amazing little alleys and market areas and we are all embracing street food.

As this is a communist country Anna is required to have a local guide with us, just in case we try to take over their tourist market! Or something like that. Her name is Yen, and she accompanies us to our mornings in the old town and scheduled activities, she lives about 1 hour away and travels in to meet us each day.

Yen tells us the reason the colour yellow was originally chosen for this historic ancient town of Hoi An was because as this was a major trading port of yesteryear, the yellow could be easily seen from the ocean for ships and boats arriving into port. Yen then said yellow paint was cheap! Whatever the reason it is really quaint french style shutters and yellow buildings filled with local culture and cosmopolitan travellers from all over rate world- young, old, some on honeymoons and dressed in traditional clothes to create their wedding albums etc. Just being REALLY honest Anna gives us more local knowledge and history than the guide.

We wander through the town that wakes up early in the local market and a little slower in the old town. Anna takes us to an amazing Gallery of the photographer that we will have an afternoon with and we see his amazing cultural portraits of all these women he has photographed throughout Vietnam and created a gallery of the portraits with the traditional clothing they wear from each of their regions.

Etienne Bossot photographs each person and then shares their story in French, Vietnamese and English story telling of their amazing heritage and their style of clothes from their region.
Just amazing!

There is so much to see and we can all wander in our own time. Often our outings are followed by an early lunch – yes you guessed it in the market down a grungy alley way! After our morning activities and lunch, its home to the hotel for a few hours of rest and relaxation before our next activities.

Yesterday we meet another artist from Britain who is an expat living here. Bridgett March. Bridgett took us for a walk down a local alley and taught us about perspectives of drawing. After the alley we head across the road to a gorgeous assembly hall to draw and water colour. It’s a little tricky for me as I’m a lefty – left handed and left brain and I just don’t see what they see, and I absolutely love that.

I’ll take a load of these thanks …. tile heaven
Inside the assembly hall
Feedback and what we like about the experience
One of my Perspective shots

Our guide Anna is also a trained artist and chef, so we love hanging out with her in the market and I really embrace her slightly looser style of urban sketching. Anna tells me my style is more like an illustration. I’m cool with that. Anna has her own Instragram page and stories that our little gang are currently staring in, so check out her page. Anna Barnes art food culture.

We sit on steps like these and draw what we see. All the market ladies want to see if we have drawn them!
When you have 20 minutes to draw and paint a sketch!

Late evenings are crazy busy, everyone just seems to go about their evening at the own pace, with cyclists and motorcyclist all beeping and bipping their way through the narrow laneways with crowds from all over the world. Some of the historic old town is walking only for this reason as a bus loads of tourists arrive from the nearby town of Da Nang about 50 minutes away.

We have only had one modern restaurant meal where we ate duck and drank red wine like westerners however dessert is another local drink, that is like cold soup. Not selling it to you ???? I get it and for someone like me who is extremely sensory things like jelly and squishy 🍈 fruit, I felt the fear and did it anyway!

I needed protection to try this! Kidding the Bike helmet was optional

The drink is so yummy! It’s lentils, legumes, some sort of jelly, small fruit and coconut cream on top over ice. No alcohol, and I’m sure high in sugar and hopefully the 36 degree heat and drinking 5 litres of water will suck that out of us! And of course as this tour is eco friendly, we asked for our drinks to be in glass and sat and drank them with our bamboo straws.

Little scoops of all of this are placed in your glass over ice…..

Now there is an experience sitting on little red stools that look like they may break eating soup noodles with tender pork and a little chilli for breakfast lunch and dinner.

We are all loving it… and it is really amazing to see the surrounds just outside the town close to where we are staying. Although last night Anna took us off the beaten track under the bridge in the dark past the local homeless man and his cows along the new pier to a restaurant! Just so safe here and no one feels out of their comfort zones.

We went to the My Son Ruins today, by bus approx 1 hour from town. The bus left the hotel at 6.00am and we were at the ruins by ourselves for at least half an hour before a few other early birds arrive.

We sat under a tree had an art lesson of drawing blind where you don’t look at the page but draw never lifting your ink pen and then you colour wash it. Lots of fun. As we left in the stinking 10.00am sun loads of buses filled with uni students and tourists arrive……. Thank you Anna it was just divine to be there without the crowds.

NO….. this one isn’t my wonky camera πŸ“Έ it’s β€œleaning”

We then got to wander around these giant old ruin Temples that were abandoned with the American War after being bombed, to now being heritage relics. Pretty cool to see them all clustered together almost like a movie scene in the jungle of South East Asia, and considering this area was defoliated with agent orange etc. it made my heart smile to see that it’s all green and lush and filled with butterflies πŸ¦‹ , giant worms πŸ› ants 🐜 Chameleon lizards 🦎. It was like Bugs Life meets Tomb Raider! Ok that is probably a little bit of my imagination just so wonderful to see.

I’m now enjoying the peace, air con and just had a nana nap before we head to town to take on the tailors and shops, check out the lanterns to bring home and you guessed it have street food locally for dinner. There is some more pics on my instagram story and page.

Lush and green foliage surrounds the ruinsοΏΌοΏΌοΏΌοΏΌ

Till next time a very chilled Mrs Wong x

So many butterflies and they are fluttering too fast to get them

Art 🎨 food πŸ₯˜ culture β›© retreat πŸ™πŸ»β€οΈ Hoi An

Have a look at these Beauties

Going back to a city you have previously visited is often a dream for most of us, especially when you may have only had a few days there. So after our last visit to Vietnam and in particular Hoi An, I connected via Instagram with a lady called Anna, and whilst I know there is a lot of stigma surrounding social media likes, connections etc. this was a great connection!

Anna has been travelling extensively to Vietnam and in particular the UNESCO heritage town Hoi An for years. She can speak the Vietnamese language which is really hard to understand let alone speak, Anna is a foodie and an artist who lives in the Blue Mountains.

So for the my friend Lindy’s birthday (who i affectionately call the skipper), I organised for her and a few of our friends to go to a Taste of Vietnam in down town Cabramatta in our home town of Sydney Australia with a view that if we thought we would get along, we could perhaps join Anna on a retreat for 10 days in Hoi an.

Needless to say that Di, Mez, Lindy and myself had a wonderful day with Anna doing sketching, eating and of course enjoying the coffee along with Anna’s company.

So after months of chatting via what’s app, Lindy, Mez and myself arrived late last night into Hoi an. The prettiest historic old quarter town with amazing preserved chinese and french architecture, that glows are golden yellow ochre, blending old pagodas and ancient tea houses with modern tailors and restaurants, and of course the old street markets, where you can buy just about anything!

The Gem Riverside Hotel before sunrise

It’s a very busy little town that can be quite overwhelming when the buses arrive from near by Danang. So whilst it is currently hitting the top 10 cities in the world to visit, as long as you stay just out of the busy old quarter along the peaceful river….. you get the best of both worlds.

Our days will be a blend of early starts to the beach for yoga at 5.30am…. how do we get to the beach ? It’s about a 15 minute cycle away and I cant wait! We didn’t spend much time at beach last year so it will be fun to see new areas.

After early morning yoga and breakfast with the locals at the markets, a sketching art class of water colour somewhere and then our days are free to enjoy the heat, shop, swim or get out and about until late afternoon when we meet up again for dinner/drinks etc. Then….. repeat!

This wont be a fast paced tour, it’s slow travel where the summer heat and therefore rain has the rice fields filled with emerald green shoots, the lotus flowers are in full bloom then cool off the sensational iced Vietnamese coffee.

Anna has a wonderful culture to ‘take care of our tourist foot print’ for travel to be ethical and beneficial to us all. We all have refillable water bottles, metal straws and of course we have our own bags for shopping πŸ›.

We will be sketching, attending bamboo class, an indigo stitching ,🧡 a cooking class in a village where they hand make tofu and grow the herbs that come to the markets everyday. There are also having a couple of excursions to the Mi son ruins, and see to the beautiful Cau Vang ‘golden hands walk bridge’ high above Danang in the Ban Na Hills, along with a fabulous sunset evening with a world famous photographer!

And of course we have a suitcase full of children’s books etc for our visits to a kindergarten here in Hoi an!

Anyways I’m just about ready to down to breakfast and meet the team….. and thought I’d share this handy hint- to avoid having to change power points or have to bring multiple adaptors, I travel with a small power board (and a piece of blue tac) as some of the power points can be a little loose with connection. That blu tac tip was from our friends Mark and Sandy and what a great tip it is!

Happy travels more soon,

Mrs Wong x

Roar and Snore at Taronga Zoo…..

My son Jared invited me to join him for an overnight trip to the zoo.

Roar and Snore -Taronga Zoo in Sydney Australia, is a wonderful experience and I was truly blessed to spend it with Jared- my wildlife animal lover.

At 6:00pm we arrived and were met by our guides at the front gates, who would be spending the evening with us including a couple of young teenagers who volunteer. They all have a passion not just for the animals, also conservation and shared their knowledge with us that made us all think about the world we live in. The zoo actually closes around 4:00pm.

Our bags were tagged and taken to our “camp” whilst our group headed off on foot with the guides, armed with wet weather gear at the ready, as it was a drizzly looking evening.

We stopped to see animals that are right under our noses, however we have never seen them, possibly due to them being more active at night, or perhaps we are always rushing by to get to another exhibit.

The zoo is always under going changes, as they often obtain grants to upgrade parts of the zoo from corporate companies and also government funding, which needs to be used in it’s calendar year, or it must be returned. At present, the new Savannah is being created through the middle of the zoo and from all we could see, it will be amazing.

Butt shot-The cute tree kangaroo

Our first tour lasts for over an hour before we arrive into camp and are shown our tents. The tents are housed close together and there is a main tent where we are offered yummy drinks and nibbles. Our guides brought a few native Australian animals for us to see and touch. In the camp there is a basic amenities building that has showers/toilets and all the supplies.

15- The Chimpanzee tent! kind of appropriate

After our canapΓ©s and drinks, we left camp with the plan being to bring whatever we needed as we were having a small tour on our way to our dinner and then we would be heading off on a night tour after our meal.

Our group wonder past the elephants, the sun bear, the tortoise and the giraffes, stopping for small chats along the way and head to the View Restaurant, where a beautiful buffet awaits. We can sit wherever we like, and there are more drinks offered along with our buffet. Dessert will be after the late night tour back at the main tent.

With full bellies, we again stroll though the zoo in darkness, hearing lots of animals calling out. Our guides take us to see the Australian fur seals as there is a new pup there called Torre. The guides have ultra red lights to shine on the animals so as not to disturb or irritate the animals, so everything is glowing red. As we approach the exhibit, Tess one of the guides is super excited as the mum and new pup are right up against the viewing window and the pup is actually feeding from it’s mum! Super cute and a privilege to see.

Looks at those eyes

The Meerkats are zoozing and not making an appearance, so we head off to The Sumatra exhibit to see the 3 new tiger cubs. With mum front and centre at the viewing window licking her paws, it was like she was waiting for us. As we all stand oo-ing and ahh-ing, she stands and walks over to a small open shed, and nudges her babies as if to say come on up you get we have visitors- how wonderful seeing her razz the kids awake then trots them all off to bed.

We are all super excited to have seen the new editions to Taronga Zoo. On our return to the camp, although we try to find the Sun bear on our way to the tents. Never mind we have had a blast tonight and seeing the new babies at the zoo has been a highlight!

A night cap, of tea and coffee with yummy chocolate brownies and it’s light out….. Well not quite but as it’s 10:30pm and we will all be up early or may not sleep with the animals making noises, our guides leave us and let us know they will be back at 6:00am with more tea, coffee and protein balls for our morning adventure! Oh and if you hear an alarm don’t panic, it just means there is an animal on the loose ! So here is the emergency contact in case there is a drama- good night.

I slept like a baby until around 5:15am. I woke to the Mumma tiger calling out -it almost sounded like NOOOOOOOO as she called her cubs. A quick wash and we pack out bags, brush our teeth and it’s off to see behind scenes of the zoo again.

There are mostly couples and a few families on our tour. Before we head off we all grab a quick pic of the beautiful Sydney Harbour and City, as Taronga Zoo has one of the best views of our wonderful city. We watch the Manly Ferry still with lights on cross the harbour on it’s way to Circular quay, and the song by the 1980’s band Australian Crawl sticks in my head……. Reckless- ” As the Manly Ferry- cuts its way to Circular Quay….-Hear the Captain blow his whistle- so long she’s been away”

Sydney at 6.00am

Jared helped “feed” the giraffes on our way to breakfast and we gave a quick hello to some of the asian elephants and also the Meerkats standing as a guard!

Lettuce for Breakfast…. mind the slober

Breakfast is another amazing buffet with plenty of food. The zoo is well and truly awake and preparing for the days activities. We have 2 more experiences before the zoo opens.

Tess our guide take us all to the Heritage listed Indian Elephant House that I remember having an elephant ride from when i was young. Here we got to see inside the building the beautiful old architecture and photos and also meet a cute possum called Atticus, who was 6 years old and has a twin sister- just like me!

Our last experience is down at Seal Cove, were we see the breeding Male and boy is he large. We all sit as he “parades along in front of us with his carer, happily having all his checks done on command like teeth, ears and skin checks, before he dives into the exhibit ready for his day.

The tour ends here and you have the opportunity to spend the day at the zoo. It’ such a great experience and as I have been lucky enough to do both Dubbo Zoo and Sydney – I’d choose to do Sydney again, as it’s more personal and up close ….

Happy reading! Mrs Wong

Island time 🏝🏝🏝🏝 Raro style πŸ€ͺ

Our Cook Island adventure started with our flight out of Sydney on what felt like a Leyland P76 that has been sitting in the Nevada desert 🏜 🌡 for 20 years, with Air New Zealand staff who didn’t know how to work the tv screen or the lie-flat beds. It was hilarious and they were so lovely. Apparently Air NZ have some issues with their new planes and although we were delayed by the late arrival of this plane from Nevada, I mean Auckland, considering this 1 hour delay, our trip to the Cooks was extremely fast, bouncing along on the air currents over the South Pacific, we made such good time, we didn’t even get offered coffee or breakfast before we all had to sit up and buckle up for landing at our scheduled time!

Viva Las Vegas ….. seated in Business because clearly in 1998 ~ premium economy wasn’t invented! First world problems ~ we think cattle class are just getting off the plane ! Great Flight though as the wonderful crew knew how to open the front door! Gotta love island life, even the pilots are chilled out from Nevada. Kidding ! We arrived to the sweet smell of flowers and lei’s, with the sounds of the ocean waves as the airport is almost in the water, strumming ukulele’s and the best smiling faces you have ever seen –

Cuzzy Bro- it’s time to slow down and embrace Island time….. whether that is sitting at the brightly coloured bus stop awaiting for the bus that goes either clockwise or anti clockwise. The bus destination on the bus tells you which way you are travelling πŸ˜‚, chilling on the beach, 🏝or just a sedate speed of driving, or cycling. πŸ€™πŸ½

Our air bnb host has organised our airport transfer to the accomodation, and of course we got to our home away from home before breakfast and as I had booked it from the day before (which is one of the better ideas ever) not having to wait until 3:00pm to check in, we can shower and have a sleep as it’s only 7:00am here. We also have a well stocked fridge with breakfast supplies and a couple of ales and a bottle of wine, so nice when thought goes into visits.

After a quick power nap we walk 4 kilometres to the scooter hire place to get a scooter and as we both have motorbike licences from home, we don’t need to get a local licence which is almost a shame as they allow you to smile πŸ˜€ on your Cook Islands drivers licence. We (visitors) must wear a β›‘ helmet, the locals don’t have to and it’s fair to say the helmets we are given have some pre love πŸ’• The locals love to sing and dance whether its on the street, at the airport, in church on a Sunday and of course there are several local island nights to embrace the culture.

The island of Rarotonga is only 32 kilometres (whether you go clock wise or anti clock wise ) with an outer road and an inland road which you wouldn’t believe is called the back road . The outer road has signs pointing inland and up for the Tsunami warnings! Pretty funny in a scary kind of way. And the hospital is also on the inland road and up high along with instructions of what to do in a cyclone!

The weather is not too bad considering it’s their rainy season. Really warm sunny days with a side of the usual tropical rainy afternoons/evenings. Or nanna nap time.

We also had a doozie of a storm whilst we were on a snorkel tour a couple of days ago which was so amazing with these big dark clouds that rolled over us in the ocean, with heavy rain seeing 17 turtles inside the lagoon it didn’t faze us or the turtles. Just keep your head in the water – Josh our guide tells us it won’t hurt so much.

We snorkelled close to and in a dangerous passage, called Avaavaroa Passage which is actually 1 big rip. The ocean waves break and wash over the rock ledge and into the lagoon. So of course the water has to get back out somehow. There are 2 big rips near our villa, and we have been warned that will take you out to sea in a very swift way if you aren’t careful. We went snorkeling with 3 young dudes who have all worked in New Zealand and Australia as life guards.

Snorkel Rarotonga- we would highly recommend them . They only had 6 tourists so it was a safe way to use the rip channel at low tide. And what a fabulous couple of hours we had seeing turtles swimming, resting and having their shells cleaned by sucker fish in the shallow coral gardens. The only sad part being that as Raro is so populated with homes and resorts and small villas like ours that open out straight onto the beautiful lagoon, with lots of locals who own dogs that are super friendly and all free range, the turtles no longer nest here.

There are a couple of small islands on the motu in Muri Lagoon a few km’s away that they can nest. As we all know turtles always return to where they were born, so it is lovely to know that there are turtles still around here. It’s fair to say there are free range chickens, goats, pigs and dogs and cats – luckily they all seem friendly! The view from our Villa and a lot of the little restaurants bars and cafe’s is pretty much the same and really you could just sit and stare at the waves rolling over the ocean ledge of the lagoon all day……

So apart from a quick cycle tour today after our snorkeling we have pretty much stayed put at our villa laughing at the locals playing the biggest game of water touch football 🏈 we have ever seen and being greeted by the friendly local puppachulas ! πŸ• 🐢 Dogs of all shapes are sizes love to walk with you and when you have had a enough of them you just say loudly go home and point away from you. They look a little miffed and then happily trot off to were they came from.

I have been sitting in a bean bag enjoying the sun and reading with this cute little pup all afternoon and Steve just shooo’d her away πŸ˜”

Well I’m off to make a booking for the cross Island tour or a buggy tour (although I don’t like our chances…… they have a 3 day public holiday for New Year ) and also find a restaurant for dinner, there are a few favourites that are closed till the 7th of Jan the down side to visiting over their quite Christmas period (not) -good luck to them being so busy throughout the year they get to take a break like we currently are.

We went to happy hour across the road last night to the Yellow Hibiscus for a quick drink and ended up staying for dinner and a β›ˆ storm ! Of course we had to enjoy the biggest New Zealand oysters and yummy tuna in lime and lemon juice ever the locals call Ike Mata.

I’m sure it’s 2019 somewhere so Happy New Year to our family and friends, it’s still New Years Eve here and we think we are almost the last country in the world to get to 2019…… we are off to snorkel and swim in the coral playground at our back door. Steve found a moray eel yesterday!

Love Mrs Wong and the baggage/passport controller.

Ps the internet is average at best so not a lot of pics x

Kia Orana – Cook Islands πŸ‡¨πŸ‡°

21.2292 S 159.7763 W

I really wish I was better at Geography. Considering how much I love to travel, you would think I was. However my

Philosophy is- the sun always sets with sundowners of some sort and rises with beach yoga ….. so it doesn’t really matter – does it ?

We (the passport controller ) and I are heading to the stunning main Island in the Cooks Islands- Rarotonga. East of American Samoa, the beautiful ‘Cooks’ are across the international date line in the Southern Pacific Ocean ….. see Geography! So you arrive 21 hours before you leave!

As I am lucky to have been here before, this time I booked the accomodation for the day before,to allow us to drop our bags and just chill in our Air bnb villa as we actually arrive at 6.30am after the night before flight at 9:30pm.

Confused? Me too. That’s where Steve comes in handy as a travel buddy. We somehow jagged an upgrade from premium economy to Business with the beautiful Air New Zeland (that’s how they pronounce it not spell it ).

Our flight out of Sydney is a direct flight and although it was delayed, we enjoyed all the Christmas spirit in the stunning Air New Zealand lounge of turkey and veggies (because we haven’t eaten enough over the past 4 days) including a few glasses of wine/champagne and I did drink a large glass of H2O )so the lounge took care of any angst! It’s a night flight direct to “Raro” from Sydney and just over 6 hours.

The Cook Islands are surrounded by stunning reefs, waves rolling into the lagoon beaches with swaying palm trees and the only issue really being falling coconuts! Be careful where you park to go snorkeling!

It’s the Christmas holidays and will therefore be quite busy as the Polynesians and New Zealanders alike travel here on holidays or are visiting family. It’s high season, wet season and also cyclone season, so fingers crossed our week here will be just the usual afternoon storm.

So If you feel like reading along on the blog please do !

See you on the other side (of the international date line that is) !

Mrs Wong and Steve the bag carrier and passport controller- now where is my …………xx