A Travellerspoint blog

Week Two of Our Australia Campervan Road Trip!

sunny 30 °C
View To Asia and Beyond!! on AmyRossiter26's travel map.

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Our second week of campervan fun began with us driving a mammoth 12 hours from Airlie Beach to Carnarvon Gorge. This was a massively tiring day of driving, involving near misses with Kangaroos and a 9km dirt track leading to the campsite. In the pitchblack with forestry all around, we again had images of outback murders. We eventually made it at gone 9pm, and after quick sarnies for dinner fell asleep in prep for our following day of hiking the gorge, which was also Ben's birthday!!

Days 8 & 9:
The campsite at The Carnarvon Gorge 'Takarakka Bush Resort' was great with loads of kangaroos and wallabies hopping around. We woke up super early day 8 (Bens birthday) to start our hike through the gorge before the heat of the day - temps get up to 35 celcius! The 14km hike was one of my favourite days - the gorge and creek are amazing and have spectacular scenery! The day started off amazingly, as we were up early enough to see lots of Roos and even hit the jackpot seeing a baby Joey peering out of his Mum's pouch! We felt very lucky.
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Our hike through the gorge took us to a part home to native aboriginal wall art which was really cool.

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We also saw beautiful caves and cliff-faces...

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...Massive, stunning gorges...

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...And an amazing secluded canyon where we stopped for a packed lunch.

We arrived back at the campsite early afternoon, and enjoyed bens birthday with beers, cider and a delish bbq.
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The birthday boy!

Day 9, we said goodbye to Carnarvon National Park and embarked on our last mammoth journey - a 12 hour journey down to Hervey Bay. So as to arrive whilst still light, we set off at 5am! Again, another tiring day of travel but the huge journeys required for us to see Carnarvon Gorge were absolutely worth it.

We arrived in Hervey Bay late afternoon - another sweet seaside town, with lots of shops and restaurants. Conny and Marcus cooked us an amazing, traditional German meal of Frikadelle (burger/meatball shaped minced meat balls filled with feta cheese and spices), along with a German pasta salad - it was delicious and something we're definitely going to try making at home! The following day, Ben and I spent the morning walking along the beautiful beach and relaxing after our hectic few days. We found a fish and chip take-away so shared a portion of fish and chips on the beach!
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Beautiful Hervey Bay.

We left Hervey Bay late afternoon, and travelled down to a free campsite in a tiny town called Tiaro. The campsite was really nice (especially considering it was free!) and we had a lovely evening chilling outside the camper eating the left-overs of the delicious meal Conny and Marcus had made us the night before.

Day 11, we left our free campsite and headed back toward the coast, to the amazing Rainbow Beach - the sand along the side of the cliffs is a myriad of colours, from whites and greys to reds and oranges! We spent a lovely few hours walking the coastline on this almost-deserted beach.
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We then made our way from Rainbow Beach to the lovely town of Noosa! We stayed one night in Noosa at a paid campsite, with a pool - we had a lovely dip late evening after a sweaty drive from Rainbow Beach! The following day was spent exploring the beauty of Noosa's national park. We took a 5km walk along the beautiful coast, trying along the way to spot Koalas in the gum trees (without success unfortunately!)

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Noosa's beautiful coastline - postcard perfect!

We then spent the night on a free campsite which was really fun, and probably one of our favourite nights. This being said despite the fact I came face to face with a rat whilst going to the toilet - I'd be surprised if you didn't hear my screams back home! Ah well, this just added to the 'true camping experience' we felt we had - we even cooked sausages on sticks over an open-fire (hello food poisoning!!), roasted marshmallows and star-gazed... All we needed was a guitar (and someone with the skills to play said guitar) and a cheesy camping song to complete the night!

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Cooking sausages on the fire. Just call us Bear Grylls! (Please excuse my awful sock/flip-flop combo - I was afraid of treading on spiders etc.)
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Our last day in the camper (waah waah waah) was spent sightseeing The Glasshouse Mountains - a beautiful mountain range around just 60kms from Brisbane. We drove to several view-points (it was way too hot to do any hiking) and visited one of the subtropical rainforests within the national park - this was really cool as our experience of the tropical Daintree rainforest was a real washout (literally speaking), and plus, there's a huge difference between a tropical and SUBtropical rainforest dontcha know!

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Glasshouse Mountains scenery.

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Glasshouse Mountains selfie!

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The beautiful forestry.

The last day of our trip, we packed up and reluctantly made our short journey on to Brisbane.
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Although we were gutted our trip was at an end, we had the best time, and Conny and Marcus made great travel buddies!

We had a fantastic two weeks discovering some of the wonders this fantastic country has to offer, and despite driving over 3000kms in the two weeks (3276kms to be precise), we only saw a fraction of what Australia has to offer. We were so amazed by it's many varying landscapes and climates - one minute the scenery could make it Canada, the next, it could be the Arizona desert. From the monsoon weather through Cairns, to the dry over-powering heat of the outback - and that was just in one day!
We're also really glad we chose to travel with the campervan; it made the trip so much easier, and meant we could go where ever we wanted, as opposed to being constricted by particular bus or train routes. And I'm so glad we experienced some things other travellers just wouldn't do - they're so enamoured by The Great Ocean Road, The Sunshine Coast and all the coastal beach-bum towns, they miss the stunning national parks and fantastic hinterland Queensland and New South Wales have to offer.

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We saw absolutely beautiful sunsets (and sunrises) whilst travelling along, experienced amazing wildlife in it's natural habitat, and stumbled across such untouched, natural aspects of the country that we wouldn't hesitate in doing it all again.

Posted by AmyRossiter26 01:01 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Our Australia Campervan Road Trip Journey Begins: Week One!

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View To Asia and Beyond!! on AmyRossiter26's travel map.

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The past two weeks, we've been road-tripping the east coast of Australia in a campervan with our travel pals Conny and Marcus - it has been lots of fun, with the odd bizarre encounter along the way...

Days 1, 2 & 3:

Day 1 in the campervan we decided to drive up from Cairns to Mossman Gorge in The Daintree Rainforest - it was very rainy (I guess it wouldn't be a rainforest without rain!) but the scenery was stunning! The huge boulders within the gorge are amazing, and help produce beautiful waterfalls and cascades. Sometimes you're permitted to swim in the water, but due to the weather we weren't - the immense rain helped make the rapids and cascades of the creek especially spectacular though.

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Stunning Mossman Gorge.

We stayed our first night at Palm Cove, which is near Port Douglas. The campsite was really nice, right on the beach with great amenities and an outdoor BBQ area - it was just a shame the weather was so rubbish! Never mind - the next day we escaped the rain and travelled a mammoth 8 hour journey to an outback town pretty much parallel to the coastal town of Townsville, called Charters Towers. On this journey, I did my first bit of driving!
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We opted for a free campsite 'Macrossan Park', situated a few kilometres from Charters Towers. The campsite sat above the banks of a river - we saw the below sign upon arrival!!
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Beware of crocodiles!!

As we approached the campsite about 10 kangaroos jumped past the camper, which was really cool. Then we saw a snake slither through a puddle - not so cool!
The campsite was very basic, but considering it was free, we couldn't complain! The amenities had showers and proper toilets, although one of the group (not mentioning names, although it wasn't me!) had the unpleasant (yet hilarious) experience of discovering a toad which had come up from the pipe after they'd done their business.. Upon the toilet being flushed, the toad then jumped out of the toilet basin!! That's just a few of our absurd experiences at Charters Towers...
Our second night there, a fellow camper (an Aussie) came over to us as we were attempting to keep alight the BBQ fire we'd been trying to light for two hours, and said, and I kid you not: "PUT ANOTHER SHRIMP ON THE BARBIE!!" waving freshly caught shrimp as he walked over! We proceeded to tell him about the croc warning and he replied: "well, I've been living off the river all week. Plus, there's ducks swimming you see... They won't eat me with all those ducks to bite"... Hmm.
We nicknamed him Johnson Shrimp (jawantsom shrimp with an Aus accent) and he, after unsuccessfully trying to persuade us to put our fingers in the shrimps claws, left without putting his shrimp on our barbie. We spent the rest of the evening worried Johnson Shrimp would come back and murder us all, hiding our bodies in the Aussie outback never to be found! Minds definitely on overdrive that night, as we survived to tell the tale!

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Ben cooking a barbie!

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Ben and Marcus cooking us breakfast on the BBQ - first time I've had an omelet cooked on a barbie!

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We woke up on the third morning to horses grazing outside our camper - very surreal.

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Apart from our cool outback campsite, Charters Towers had little else to offer so on day 4 we started the drive back to the coast.

Days 4, 5 & 6
We firstly drove to Townsville and along the way spotted a road for a scenic viewpoint so decided to take a small detour via there. The road was crazily windy up the side of a mountain, one side of which was army land only and had signs like the below as a constant reminder.

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Needless to say, we didn't do any trespassing!

Upon arriving at the top, we were greeted by a peacock, of all things!! (things get stranger by the minute...) And were then molested by hundreds, no THOUSANDS, of mosquitos...
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The view of Townsville (above photo) was quite cool, but was tainted somewhat by the snake we spotted on the viewing platform! Conny screamed and it then army rolled off the edge. Ben then scared the absolute sh*t out of me by telling me it was on me - I've never screamed as loud or said as many expletives!! In fairness though, he was only getting me back for the fake tarantula I'd scared him with the day before...
The night of the fourth day, we'd planned on staying at Aligator Creek campsite (ominous sounding, I know) which would have been really cool, as it had loads of wallabies hopping about, but when we got out of the camper and were greeted by yet again hundreds of mosquitos, we got straight back in and drove off. We then drove through a small village called Giru, voted Queensland's friendliest town (2009 and 2011 no less!). It was getting dark so we thought we'd best stop here for the night. Living up to it's 'friendliest town' title, the lady in the post office said we could just park up by the green, where there was a public bbq grill and toilets... Sorted! Until we got out of the van and were greeted by, you guessed it... Herds of mozzies! Ah well, suppose they were just being friendly!

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The pretty village green.

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Parked up by the green, next to the sugar cane mill.

Day 5, we left Mosquito County (after waking up to the townspeople around us going to work etc... Again, things keep getting stranger) and drove down the coast to Airlie Beach. We had a slight mishap along the way, involving a lower than expected carpark roof and the top of the camper, so once in Airlie we stopped for a quick fix job. $200 lighter, we cruised into the campsite.
Fed up with free campsites, we decided to stay two nights at a Butlins-esque holiday park, with amazing amenities, a swimming pool and crazy golf!

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Increasing my handicap - I got a hole in one on a par 3 and an albatross on a par 6! (Ben was more excited by this than me and made me pose for this photo).

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Ben Big-Kid Smale enjoying the slides!

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One evening we made dinner for Conny and Marcus - sautéed potatoes, roasted (on the BBQ) chicken stuffed with cheese and tomato and wrapped in bacon, with a side of roasted veg - who says backpackers can't eat well!!
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After a refreshing few days in Airlie, day 7 marked the day of another huge journey driving 13 hours to The Carnarvon Gorge. This was also the halfway point of our campervan roadtrip!
You'll have to check out my following blog on our second week in the camper :)

Posted by AmyRossiter26 20:31 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Cairns and Snorkelling The Great Barrier Reef

storm 25 °C
View To Asia and Beyond!! on AmyRossiter26's travel map.

So we made it to Cairns after surviving the dreaded Tigerair flight! We'd heard Tigerair horror stories of faulty planes and huge delays, and anybody who knows me, will know I HATE flying anyway. So I diazepamed up as usual, and had my sick bag at the ready. But, I need not have worried, as the flight went without a hitch, and we arrived safe and sound in Cairns.

Cairns is not what we expected - it looks more like a beach-side resort town, rather than a major city. Hotels and seafood restaurants line the esplanade, whilst tropical rainforestry forms a stunning backdrop. There isn't really a beach as such, and crocs and sharks mean people aren't really allowed to swim in these areas anyways. But there is a great public swimming pool, and BBQ area.
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Our first few days here we spent just relaxing and catching up on sleep, after the excitement of Sydney - the storm and tropical weather (it's rainy season here at the moment!) left us with little choice anyway.
Although, there was some drama: Our second evening, we were casually walking along the esplanade, when we heard a loud screech and bang... A sports car going rediculously fast, had crashed head-on into a lampost on the pavement! Seconds later, the driver drunkenly stumbled from the car, and both him and his passenger fled the scene! Needless to say they weren't injured, but the car was a complete write-off. Shortly after, the police arrived and we gave our statements - lets hope they catch the little sh*ts. Turns out we'd been witness to grand theft auto! And the way he was driving, someone definitely could have got hurt, although thankfully nobody was.

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Enjoying the 'sunny' weather of Cairns.

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With our travel pals Conny and Marcus (who we met all those months ago on our China trip!) at the public grills.

Thursday, our last full day in Cairns, we snorkelled The Great Barrier Reef!

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Before the catamaran's departure Thursday morning - all aboard!

The Great Barrier Reef was an amazing (and for me, slightly scary) experience, which we felt we had to do whilst here - it's the main reason most people visit Cairns!

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Ben on our journey out to The Reef.

We snorkelled at two sights on The Reef - Paradise Reef first, and Michaelmas Cay second. Both were home to beautiful coral and brightly coloured fish. The second stop was slightly better, as there was also gigantic turtles and someone even spotted a tiger shark! (I'm so glad that wasn't me!) The scuba divers of the group also spotted reef sharks roaming the bottom of the sea bed. Again, glad that wasn't me!
My favourite spot of the day was a huuuuuge clam - we initially mistook it for a hard coral formation it was that large! I also loved the fish that were tiger striped and leopard print - very fashionable fish!
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All ready for our first snorkel on The Great Barrier Reef.

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Ben snorkel geared-up!

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Following this, his unfortunate sunburn! I haven't stopped laughing yet.

Unfortunately Ben and I personally didn't take any photos underwater - neither of us have a waterproof camera, and it's extortionately/ridiculously expensive to rent one. But here's a few of the things we saw - photos courtesy of Conny and Marcus:
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Needless to say, we don't need stacks of photographs to remember all of the GBR's beautiful sights - they'd be impossible to forget...

Snorkelling the GBR is another highlight of the trip for us, and we feel lucky to have experienced it. Especially as some of the fish species, especially the sharks, are now threatened due to over fishing. Sharks are sadly fished just for their fins - cruelly their fins are sliced off, the sharks are then put back in the water where they sink to the bottom, and are hence left to drown. They're also fished and killed purely due to Human fear of them - how unfair is this, when they're just in their natural habitat?! A habitat that is of course, a very un-natural one for us (unless we grow fins and scales!!)
The boat company we chose for our trip (Passions of Paradise) work alongside a shark preservation and research charity, which was a great way for us to contribute towards the preservation of these amazing (and totally scary!!) animals.

On a personal level, I felt very brave to have accomplished the GBR snorkel as anybody who knows me will know I HATE swimming out of my depth in the sea. Let alone knowing there's sharks about!! Minus a few minor panic attacks upon coming face to face with several jellyfish, I'm really proud of myself - it seems I'm conquering quite a few fears on this trip :)

We're now five days in to our campervan roadtrip down Australia's east coast, with our travel companions Conny and Marcus. We're having lots of fun and I have many a story to tell! I'll be posting a blog for our first week in the camper shortly :)

Posted by AmyRossiter26 17:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Hello Australia... First destination: Sydney!

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View To Asia and Beyond!! on AmyRossiter26's travel map.

So Sydney has been our first stop in Australia... And wow, is it expensive!! It's also however an amazing city with lots to offer!
We planned a week here, and although beforehand thought this would be too long, we sooo could have stayed longer (or forever!)
Our first day, we met up with our travel pal Lucy, who we met on our China trip, which was lovely and lots of laughs!
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We spent a very hot day exploring Darling Harbour, and seeing all the 'must see' sights like the Opera house and The Harbour Bridge. We also took a pleasant stroll through the botanical gardens.
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This first day, we were so awestruck by the beauty of the city - it was a fab day getting to grips with it.
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Our second day we decided to act the tourist, and visited the sealife aquarium and it's neighbour, the wildlife centre. Although both were good, they unfortunately did not meet expectations. The aquarium is sadly lacklustre, and doesn't even house a great white!
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The aquarium did have some pretty fish tanks though.

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Being a kid at the aquarium!

The wildlife centre captured our attention slightly more, as it's home to just Australian animals - we thought this was a cool way of learning more about them, especially Australias fascinating marsupials. Did you know a kangaroo can pause it's pregnancy?! She'll do this if she's already mothering two Joeys, or if in the wild, conditions aren't right to bring a baby into the world!

Wednesday, our third day, we ventured to Bondi Beach. A gorgeous surfers haven, with a lovely sandy beach and chilled out vibe.
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Playing lifeguard.

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Getting in some time with the Royal Playing cards!

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Chilling on the beach.

Thursday, we visited one of Sydneys other beach attractions - Manly. We took the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, which was something cool in itself, and gave us amazing views of the harbour from the sea.
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Manly also had a nice relaxing vibe, and a lovely beach. As you can see from the pics though, both Bondi and Manly are really popular and are tourist and local favourites.
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Friday was definitely our favourite day of the week - we ventured to The Blue Mountains for a day of hiking and AMAZING scenery. The mountains are protected within a national park, and start just approximately 60km west of Sydney. They only took 2 hours by train to reach from our hostel in central Sydney - the two landscapes couldn't be more different, so it's hard to believe they're so easily reached!
We took a hop on-hop off bus between the main sights, and did a few bush walks inbetween. One of our stops along the way was the small town of Leura. We stopped here for a delicious lunch. The town is absolutely lovely - really quaint and pretty, with lots of boutique homeware shops. Bens mum Barb would have loved Leura just as much as I did!

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Our second stop, Gordon Falls.

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The view during our 1 hour bush walk from Gordon Falls to Leura cascades.

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The beautiful Leura falls.

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On our trek to the bottom of the Katoomba waterfall.

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Katoomba waterfall was absolutely beautiful and easily a highlight of the day!

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The view of the three sisters from echo point.

After our busy day at the mountains on Friday, Saturday we got together with a family we'd met during our time at The Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. They took us for a lovely, relaxing day out at Balmoral Beach before going back to theirs for a delicious BBQ - if you're reading this, thanks so much guys for your hospitality and a fab day!

So Sunday, we left the sights of Sydney behind for our flight up to Cairns. We've been here a couple of days and tomorrow we're snorkelling The Great Barrier Reef - très excited!!

Posted by AmyRossiter26 16:28 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Our Top 5 Favourite Places in Asia...

5.) Hoi An, Vietnam
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Hoi An was definitely our favourite stop in Vietnam, and deserves it's place as number 5 in our favourite places due to it's amazing, well-priced eateries, beautifully romantic river-side setting, complete with cute hanging lanterns, and it's excellent market. We also stayed at a fantastic homestay, which added to the excellent time we had here.
My full blog on our time in Hoi An:
http://amysadventures.travellerspoint.com/19/

4.) Chiang Mai, Thailand
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The incredible Elephant Nature Park, which was easily a highlight of our trip so far, definitely helped put Chiang Mai on the list. However the town itself is really lovely, and has so much culture and charm. The fantastic weekend walking street markets helped get it to 4th place too!
My blogs on Chiang Mai and the ENP:
http://amysadventures.travellerspoint.com/32/
http://amysadventures.travellerspoint.com/33/

3.)Beijing (The Great Wall of China)
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Beijing itself we found nothing to write home about but we couldn't compile this list and not include our visit to The Great Wall of China. It was simply amazing in every way; from the stunning views it afforded, to the shear experience of climbing it. My complete blog on The Great Wall:
amysadventures.travellerspoint.com/10/

2.) Ao Nang/Railay, Thailand
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Without a doubt some of the most beautiful, breathtaking scenery we've ever seen was here. Crystal clear, warm water and amazingly soft sand is what has given Ao Nang and Railay peninsula the number two spot!
My full blog on the idyllic Thai beaches:
http://amysadventures.travellerspoint.com/26/

1.) Yangshuo, China
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Yangshuo is simply amazing. From the scenery I cannot use words to describe, to the authentically-Chinese cobble-pathed town, to the gorgeous countryside, to the endless list of things to do... And the list could go on.
My full blog on our time in Yangshuo:
http://amysadventures.travellerspoint.com/4/
Read it, and you'll see why it was given top spot!

Posted by AmyRossiter26 04:39 Comments (0)

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