The other Taronga

Sad-ish news: Dee’s contract is not being renewed. So she’s on the hunt for work! Jobs, you are ALLOWED to hunt. Just leave these guys alone. Despite our new single-income status, we spent last weekend at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, “glamping” in the Zoofari Park there. We explored the zoo on Day #1, before checking into our “tent”: a canvas structure, true, but we hot and cold water, electricity, a massive four-poster bed and a wooden deck from which we could watch the giraffes, addax and other animals.

Hashtag Jesus

hashtag jesus Danielle Fox (from Facebook via IFTTT.) Last night we drank a magnum of Mumm (champagne) that Dee won in a weight-loss competition at work, and as a result we got a little bit silly on Facebook. This in turn triggered an automatic post via IFTTT, and I feel like I should explain a little. It’s our third day at the beach house in Callala Bay, and I think we’re finally settling in.

Tiger Time!

Early morning this morning, too early by far: our travel alarm (very useful thanks Dayna) exploded in an electronic tintinbulation at 6:02am precisely, shattering our slumber into little shards of activity. We showered (well, Dee showered — I had one last night instead, always be prepared. And prepared to be smelly), dressed and rushed down for a quick hotel breakfast by 6:30am (eggs, toast, apple juice and, why not, a spicy lasagne!

Big hopes for Bangkok

We arrived in Bangkok with big hopes: our hotel, The White Orchid, looked great in the photos, with a jacuzzi, spa and massage room and a roof-top restaurant overlooking the city from the 12th floor. We were tired, smelly (nowhere to wash on an overnight train) and ready to just melt into a pampered, self-indulgent lifestyle for a couple of days. But as the quote goes, “the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.

But yeah, now she sleeps

So we’ve made it to Bangkok: we got a tuk-tuk to the train station, just past the Laos-Thai Friendship Bridge, and were happy to find there were first-class tickets left — not too expensive, and after the “hard sleeper” in China and “chicken bus” in Laos we weren’t in the mood to find out what second-class bunks were like in Thailand. We were, of course, ridiculously early — 2pm when the train left at 5pm — but we figured it was better early than late.

Goodbye Vientiane; Bangkok, here we come!

We’ve been a bit quiet on the journal since we got to Laos, but it is because we’ve been doing a whole lot o’ nothing: days relaxing/lazing at the hotel, reading book after book or watching (often bad) movies on HBO. In the afternoon or early evening, as the temperature dropped, we headed into town on foot or by tuk-tuk to look at shops, swap our books; invariably we would find a place to eat — it is a strange fusion of asian and european, with French restaurants selling Italian food alongside fried crickets — then a place for a quiet beer, if only to wash the cricket taste out of our mouths.

Budapest Day 3: Tourist time

Our last full day in Budapest was all about the tourist attractions. Neither Dee nor I are particularly drawn to large crowds of photo-snapping foreigners in plaid shorts and polo shirts, strangely enough, but there was much of Buda left to explore and so we once more boarded the Big Red Bus and headed over the bridge. As it was all planned on Thursday we knew exactly what we were doing: first, the Heroes Square, then onto stop 13 for the Fisherman’s Bastion, a wine-tasting at Faust’s Wine Bar, a walk to the Palace and the “Fenicular” down the hill towards the chain bridge.

Budapest Day 2: I love the nightlife!

A late post (on a train to Warsaw) about the rest of our time in Budapest — what, you were expecting something as mundane as linearity? Seriously, from me? Okay, I’ll back-date it so it appears in the right place in the timeline, eh, that should just about do it. On our second day in Budapest, and on Dayna’s sage advice, we bought tickets for the big red “hop on, hop off” tour bus.

Strasbourg: is it France, or Germany?

We’re in Strasbourg, on the Franco-Deutsch border! We caught our morning train from Paris without issue, taking le Metro to Gare de l’Est on the free tickets Martin and Helen left us (thanks guys) with plenty of time. Dee even (somehow) found le livre etranger section of the train station bookshop and picked up some reading material — despite leaving the travel guides with Dayna I still somehow have four books with me!

Last days at home, at work and in London

Time is simply flying by: this time last week we were cleaning the flat and packing up the last of Dayna’s stuff; now we’re staying at Dayna’s place (she’s in Wales) and have finished off just about everything we need to (“closing the loops” as Dee says)! So yeah, we cleaned our place on the weekend, and finally moved everything downstairs to Andy’s on the Monday night. (We’ve had the report back from the independent inspector now, and he comments: “Professionally cleaned” — yah!