PEACHY DOWN UNDER -Sydney-

Arrival in Syndey on the 2nd of July. Finally some cold and fresh air again after 3 weeks of humidity and heat. Cold but sunny and perfect Peachy weather. First thing to notice: everybody speaks English, no weird gestures, hand and feet needed anymore. And everything is expensive. 30$ for mobile internet for a month? Peachy thought she will find it cheaper in a newspaper shop later but she had to realise, she wasn’t in Asia anymore. The hostel she stayed in was packed with people, very very young people who are on a Work and Travel visa and all work in Sydney. If they didn’t have to go to work, they were drinking. It took a while for Peachy to get used to all this and also to get used to being alone again. But after an ‘orientation day’ she was back to her normal travelling mode, exploring all Sydney had to offer.

The first evening the opera house and harbour bridge were calling to watch a stunning sunset with view of Sydney’s landmarks. 

Followed by a bit of a rainy day, after a quick visit in the Maritime museum, Peachy got herself a reduced ticket to visit 5 main attractions in Sydney: Sea Life, Wild Life, Madame Tussauds, Sydney Tower and Sea Life in Manly. All of that for only $72 was a good deal. Peachy spent the rest of the rainy day at Sea Life in Darling Harbour and was absolutely impressed by the underwater world there. She enjoyed reading all the signs about different species and especially the ‘Wow Facts’ were really entertaining.


The evening had another highlight for the solo traveller as Peachy got to meet a known face, a friend from previous travelling she met about 2 years ago in Vietnam, Jonny. They met up in his favourite burger restaurant and had a nice dinner and a couple of drinks together.

The next day Peachy had an early morning which turned out to be ideal for her time in Australia ever since. As the sun sets at around 5pm already an early start is perfect to make the most of the days. Peachy took the ferry from Darling Harbour which was crossing Harbour Bridge with final destination in Watsons Bay.

It was a nice ferry ride and the explorer found herself surrounded by loads of beautiful nature and stunning viewpoints. She had done a long walk around the Southhead, passing the Lighthouse from where she was able to see Manly (where she was going to the next day), and then through some remote backroads which every now and then had clearings where stunning views of the skyline of Sydney were revealed.

For lunch Peachy had been back to the ferry terminal where she had fish and chips, just perfect after a long walk along the sea. Next she was jumping on a bus to get to Bondi beach. Watching all the surfers was just the right thing after a heavy lunch. 

Peachy wanted to do the beautiful walk from Bondi to Cogee Beach but she only managed to go half way as she needed to get to Sydney Tower on time just before the sunset. She managed to fit all of this into one day and found some rest 250m above the city. Both day and night view were stunning and the sunset just incredibly cool to watch from up there. 

After 3h on top of the Sydney tower tired Peachy went back to the hostel. Almost 30km of walking and 12h being up and about made her need a good rest.

The next day was full of adventure again. Manly was the destination, so another beautiful ferry ride to start with and then again hours and hours of walking and exploring Manly main road, Manly beach, the cliffs at the coast and the viewpoints at Northhead.

 Peachy came across an Echidna in the wild. It was cute and calm, and didn’t mind Peachy’s company at all. 

She spent some time observing the cute but weird walking little animal to then make her way to a very remote viewpoint, where she probably was not supposed to be. There was no real path leading to it and nobody else around. After taking in the view Peachy hurried back to escape the bush on her own and she made it back safely, but decided not to leave the path anywhere else again. She did the walk along the Northhead with different viewpoints where Peachy even spotted whales. As she saw boats being very close to the boat and as she was soooo impressed by the giants she decided to go on a Whale watching tour the next day.

The solo traveller ended her day in Sea Life Manly where she saw sharks, stingrays, sea cows and lots of other sealife. 

It was another long and tiring but extremely exciting day and Peachy came back to the hostel and just fell into bed.

Next morning: the next adventure was waiting already. Whale watching not far from Sydney Harbour. A rather small boat with only about 30 people on it seemed promising to come nice and close to the whales. Nobody could have known that Peachy would not only see many whales (at least 5 different ones from fairly close) but she also happened to see dolphins swimming right in front of the boat for a minute or two.

 Peachy left the boat happy and excited. After a short break she joined a free 3h walking tour through the city centre with loads of information and historical background about Sydney and Australia in general. She was pleased to learn a bit more about the place where she experienced that much already.

The next early morning started in Sydney Wild Life. Peachy was sooo excited to see loads of australian animals: wallabies, echidnas, koalas, pythons (and all sort of other snakes), crocodiles, platypus and many more. The time passed far too quickly and Peachy left all the cute animals behind to go to Madame Tussauds, as it was included in the ‘5 attractions ticket’ as well. 

For the second last day in Sydney, Peachy had planned another highlight – a day tour to the blue mountains including a stop over in Featherdale Wildlife park. Peachy got to feed wallabies and she absolutely loved it. 

The friendly animals were even more cute than kangaroos and very gentle while eating out of Peachys hand. She spent most of her time in the wildlife park with the wallabies and it made her very happy. Back on the bus the next stop was the blue mountains. A viewpoint for the ‘three sister’s rocks’ followed by some time for a walking trail and rides on the cable car and the world’s steepest mountain railway kept everybody busy and excited.

 The day passed too quickly and all of a sudden it was time to head back. The tour ended with a beautiful boat ride back to Darling Harbour.

The following day was packed with planning for Peachy’s East Coast Trip which she started straight away…

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Myanmar

Yangon

After a very very early morning and the luxurious personal pick-up service to the airport (thank you so much Mars!) the two friends arrived in Yangon without any trouble!

A very welcoming hostel made Schnagler and Peachy feel comfortable right from the start. One of the hostels benefits was a free ride on the circular train which the duo did the next morning. Bumpy, slow and long (3h) but also loads to see, meeting many people and quickly changing atmosphere made the uncomfy ride worth it. The blue paint of the seats is still remaining on some of Peachy’s clothes after a few washes and about 4 weeks time…

Schnagler and Peachy bought some delicious Mango Chilli after the example of two girls sitting opposite. Luckily the vendor insisted on giving double trouble less Chilli than usual, so they were able to enjoy it as it wasn’t too spicy.


Finally, after 3h it was time to get off the train and do some shopping. A traditional longyi for both of the girls was on focus. Step 1: finding the preferred colour, pattern and fabric, step 2: waiting for the vendors to sew it according to their measurements, step 3: pick up the longyi after half an hour and wear it straight away.


After a successful shopping session, the two were planning to go to Shwedagon Pagoda. However, the heavy rain made them change their plans and instead they treated themselves to a very relaxing foot, neck and shoulder massage which included Thanaka make up (not that the girls knew that in advance…).

The next morning the dream team tried their luck again at Shwedagon Pagoda and weren’t disappointed. It was sunny and (very) hot. The massive Pagoda was sparkling in the sunshine, in some temples local people were praying together by singing a repetitive melody and Peachy made it her challenge to discover all Buddha’s that were marked on the map the two recieved upon entering. 



A few hours and millions of pictures later Schnagler went back to the hostel and Peachy went to the governmental crocodile farm in Yangon.

This was a very good experience. A bit off the main track, no other tourists and about 0,60€ entrance fee were very promising. And straight from the first minute the farm was impressive and maybe a bit scary. The giant crocodiles sunbathing with open mouths, revealing their teeth and informative signs about different types and families of the reptiles were first impressions. When Peachy saw she could even feed these giants for another 1€ she completely fell for the farm. Some raw fish and the advice of a little girl: “aim for their noses, in between their eyes as these animals can’t see very well“ helped to make some jaws reach far out of the water to completely disappear again after a few seconds. 
Knowing how many crocodiles were hiding under the water surface made Peachy be very conscious about the ‘health and safety issues’ that didn’t seem to bother anyone. Holes in the paths just 1m above the water surface and the possibility to walk along a 30cm wide wall without any rails but therefore crocodiles left and right of it made the usually brave traveller very careful and a little scared. 

But isn’t that what you would expect from a day with the crocos? Besides not walking along the wall, Peachy managed to enjoy all offers of the farm and even treated the reptiles to some more fish just before she left to go back to the hostel, as it was time for the first night bus to Inle Lake.

Inle Lake

The first night on the night bus was more comfortable than expected. Schnagler and Peachy decided to make the most of their day at Inle Lake and signed up straight away for a full day boat tour. Arriving at 7am, breakfast at 7.30 and pick up for the tour at 8 was a tight schedule but totally worth it. The day was packed with exciting places to visit and amazing views. And sitting relaxed on a little boat with a fresh breeze was exactly what the duo needed after a bumpy night bus.

The tour started with almost an hour drive on the boat which was plenty of time to enjoy the views and to be excited about just being on a boat. 
The first stop was at a jewellery place where silver was treated from stones to powder to the metal and finally handcrafted to nice jewellery. Peachy bought a nice necklace and earrings with a round knot as a pendant which stands for peace and happiness. 
Back on the boat there were plenty of stops nearby with some being a lotus weaving place, a stop just to see the long neck women (made the two girls a bit wondering as these women just sat on a bench waiting for tourists to watch them), another stop for a temple and one was for lunch. After a full day tour the girls came back to the hostel and were tired but happy about the interesting and fun day they had.

The next morning Schnagler didn’t feel to well so Peachy went exploring on her own. A bicycle was the transport of her choice and Htat Eian cave the first destination. Considering the 30°C and the hills in which the cave was, the ride was a little bit challenging but still fun. Impressive about the cave was the amount of Buddhas in it. However, it wasn’t the most comfy to walk through it in the dark with all the spiky stones and not being allowed to wear shoes as it was treated as religious site…



Shoes back on, back on the bicycle and about 5km to go the next place was a winery in the mountains. The climb paid off totally as the view was stunning and the food good as well. Peachy didn’t try the wine though as it was midday and the heat at it’s peak. After taking in the view and half a pizza she went back to the hostel just to find a group of people who treated themselves to a full body massage nearby so she joined the group. The massage wasn’t as good as in Thailand or Hongkong but good value for money and a nice treat before being on the nightbus again.


Mandalay

With Mandalay being the shortest of their stations, time was rare for Schnagler and Peachy.   Daisy and Anthony who were on the same nightbus and in the same hostel, both had one day in Mandalay, too. So the four paired up together and went for a full day tour around Mandalay with a taxi driver. Stopping at the White Pagoda and a monkery to watch the ceremony of monks having lunch were the highlights of the day. 

Sagaing hill with a temple on the top and U Bein Bridge impressed with nice views and atmosphere. A very nice day overall, however Inle Lake had more to reveal. It was Anthony’s last night in Asia after a few months, so the group went to treat themselves to a nice indian meal at a slightly posh restaurant. A nice evening with good conversation and amazing food made the friends happy but also realise how tired they were. Coming back to a private twin room for Schnagler and Peachy felt like a luxury and made them have a good sleep. The next day it was time again for a fairly long bus journey to Bagan.


Bagan

The last stop in Myanmar was the ancient town Bagan with uncountable Pagodas all over the place. Daisy was still tagging along with the two friends and so the three girls stayed in a cheap hotel to share a room. Renting electric scooters was the perfect choice of transport as everything was nearby but too far to walk. 

The triple went to watch the sunset from the top of a Pagoda and enjoyed it very much. Therefore, they decided to get up at 4.30 the next morning for the pleasure of the sunrise. The atmosphere was even a bit better and a big breakfast was the treat to compensate their short night. Afterwards, the girls went to another Pagoda where they met two artists who sell their paintings. However, as there was no other tourists the atmosphere was relaxed and the girls listened to some stories of the painters and had a good and long conversation. After buying some (or rather loads) of the beautiful and really cheap paintings (they were made with some stonesand to make them have a little sparkle) the girls went back to the hotel for a nap. In the afternoon the scooters brought the group to a traditional village called Minnanthu. A woman offered to guide us around which was obviously a bit of a rip off but the information she provided was interesting and so a little tip was justified. However, the village wasn’t that traditional anymore as it was rather touristy and commercialised. Leaving the village also meant saying goodbye to Daisy as she had to catch the nightbus to Yangon. So Schnagler and Peachy were on their own again which they actually enjoyed after two days of company. 

The dream team went to Irrawaddy River to watch the sunset and then made their way to old bagan for some shopping on the night markets. However, getting there turned out to be a little bit difficult. Although Peachy’s scooter still showed 3/10 bars of battery it got slower and slower and uphill some manual support of Peachy was required to keep moving (in fact it was like being 2years old again and using a walking bike and a lot of fun until it got really exhausting). So Peachy had to call the emergency number and after 10min two guys appeared and swapped the scooter for me. How they got it back themselves remains a mystery…
A fully charged scooter brought the girls to the nearest market stalls fairly quickly and they made some good bargains. Especially the colourful umbrellas they bought are beautiful and a bit different compared to the souvenirs of the rest of Asia.

Back in the hotel it was time to sleep as the next day the bus back to Yangon was picking the girls up in the very early morning.

In Yangon there was no time left besides for a good night’s sleep in the same hostel as the first night. The next day it was time to leave the country. Double trouble were on the same plane to KL. 

Arriving there it was time to say goodbye as Schnagler flew back to Frankfurt and Peachy was on her way to Sydney.
A delayed flight made the farewell more easy as Schnagler had to run to catch her connecting flight. Peachy joined her but at the gate there was no time for a proper goodbye. A quick hug, a ‘take care, see you soon’ and a few quick tears had to be enough.
And then she was alone, a solo traveller again. Next stop: Peach Down Under!

Philippines

On the 14th of June it was time to fly again for Schnagler and Peachy. First stop Manila, second stop Puerto Princesa on Palawan. Besides some fog (or whatever it was) on the second plane, everything went well and both bags reached Puerto safely and on time.

In the hostel the duo met up with two friends of Schnagler, Inez and Denny. They are on an around the world trip and planned to be on Palawan at the same time. After a nice catch up and a good night’s sleep, the four started their journey to Port Barton. The first night without aircon paid off in the next morning. The group decided to go to a remote island called Cacnipa for a couple of nights and ended up in paradise. 

Crystal clear water and the lovely coconut garden island resort all to themselves made their stay unforgettable. Incredibly good food, excellent service and for being on a remote island moderate prices were part of the experience. For 2 nights, 6 meals, all drinks, boat transfer and the exclusive private beach (that’s the advantage of low season travelling) they spent 50€ each and felt like kings and queens.

The only drawback was the mosquitos who they had to share their beds with and the missing AC. Two nights later the four left the island heading towards El Nido.

Heavy rain was welcoming the group in El Nido. This still didn’t stop Schnagler and Peachy to sign up for a ‘Discover Scuba Diving’ tour for the next day. They found a welcoming diving school, ‘Deep Blue Seafari’ where both felt comfortable and looked after at all times. The next morning their alarms went off at 6.45. Shower, breakfast and then meeting at the ‘Deep Blue Seafari’ at 8.00. Due to coastguard issues (it was a Monday morning which is apparently the time to change regulations) and due to a drunken boat crew memeber (the chef) the tour started with over 1h delay. Peachy got more and more nervous – a bit longer and she might have changed her mind. Luckily she tried keeping herself busy with buying a ‘Deep Blue Seafari’ T-Shirt as a memory. Then finally all divers were asked to please board the boat. They did as they were told and found themselves at the first diving spot, paradise beach, fairly quickly. The two friends were the only ones without Open Water License so they had two guides all to themselves. Nicolas showed how to jump in from the boat and then Peachy had to follow. Her nervousness was at the maximum but when everybody started counting, she jumped in at 1 😀

This was the step over her fear and from that moment on she was just able to enjoy. Ayn and Nicky were very caring and thoughtful so there were no dangerous moments. The first of three dives was only instructions near the beach Peachy thought. But as the two got on super well with everything they went to practise what they learned in up to 10m. Peachy was not scared at all as she didn’t even notice how deep she had been.

Back on the boat there were refreshments and not long after it was time for dive number two near helicopter island.

This was probably the best dive. A photographer joined Schnagler and Peachy and made so many nice pictures (Also have a look in the gallery under Philippines 😉 )! Peachy felt like she was flying under water. What a great feeling 😀

After 43min and up to 15m it was time to come back to the boat and have lunch. Fish, chicken and some vegetables with rice was all they needed and very delicious.

The third dive followed pretty quickly, at the small reef of helicopter island. Maybe a bit too soon after lunch but again it was fun and the two enjoyed it so much. Back on the boat, the two friends realised how exhausted and tired they were. Time for a nap and an early night. Peachy went to bed soooo proud and happy with herself….

The next day was farewell time. An early goodbye breakfast with Inez and Denny who had to catch a ferry to Coron at 8am was followed by a rather lazy day with some shopping and a pedicure. 

In the evening the two friends left Palawan and flew to Manila. El Nido was definitely the smallest airport they have ever been to. Security staff was more interested whether the two were single and had facebook instead of in their bags….

In Manila it was just time to get to the hotel and sleep as the next morning it was time to fly to Singapore 😀