Monday 28 April 2014

Auckland, New Zealand III: Waiheke Island

Yup. I love island hoping. After Rangitoto Island, I decided to go to Waiheke Island. I brought a pair of monthly contact lenses for the trip and I LOST IT after the second night. -_- I sat at the top deck even though the wind was so uncomfortably strong that I couldn't open my eyes and my hair was just all over my face.. I sacrificed comfort for the amazing view.

Waiheke Island is the second largest island and it's the most populated. I wanted to stay over for a night but I didn't want to keep moving hostels every day. However, after exploring Waiheke Island for a day, I really regret not staying a night. So if you're in Auckland and you like beautiful scenery/beaches, I highly recommend you to stay over at Waiheke Island for at least a night.

Upon reaching the ferry terminal, I was quite lost as to where I should go. I decided to follow this group of people who were on some walking/hiking tour. I later found out that I was on the coastal walk to Owhanake Bay. The path which is just a narrow strip of barren ground goes up and down and around the hills, I almost slipped and rolled down the hill twice when I had to walk across this whole hill of hay and hay is super slippery! I also had to push through bushes, branches and overgrown weed. It was a pretty challenging but fun walk and the view (OH THE VIEW) is out of the world. Personally, I think that Waikehe island is more beautiful than Rangitoto since Waiheke is further away from the city, it is surrounded by smaller islands so what you see is a gorgeous expanse of blue sky, blue water and green islands.

This walk enables you to take in as much of the island as possible without venturing too far from the ferry and Oneroa Village. It provides stunning views out over the Hauraki Gulf and to inland parts of western Waiheke (via

I met a French-speaking Swiss couple on the way and they told me that was their third day back on the island because there are so many walks and each one offers an entirely different scenery. It just made me regret not staying over even more!

After about three hours, I reached Oneroa beach and I sat on a tree trunk to take a break and write in my diary.  Oneroa beach is a lot smaller than I imagined but it was so clean and needless to say, the water is a gorgeous blue. I had a romantic stroll along the beach singing 'All by myselffff' haha I kid.

I walked out to Oneroa Village and what a cute little seaside village it is. I continued walking down Ocean view road to Church Bay road where the wineries are. Then I felt it was time to head back to the ferry terminal so I tramped back to Matiatia Bay via Church Bay. I climbed up this field where two horses were feeding, walked through a rather spooky forest path and climbed up another hill dotted with sheep. I waved hello to the sheep but they stared blankly back to me. The clouds were looking rather threatening by then so I hastened. The trip from Church Bay back to Matiatia Bay took about two hours and I was really glad that the rain didn't come.

Till next time, Waiheke island.

How to get there?
Take a ferry from Auckland ferry terminal for NZD32.40.

Thursday 24 April 2014

Auckland, New Zealand II: Rangitoto Island

The next morning I woke up at 6am, packed up, took a shower, ate my oats and left the hostel at 6.40am, thinking that I had plenty of time to catch the 7.30am ferry to Rangitoto Island (half price on Sundays). Little did I know.. buses in New Zealand don't start till 8am! Maybe because it was a Sunday, I don't know, so I had no choice but to rush to the ferry terminal and needless to say, I missed the 7.30am ferry. So I bought tickets for the next ferry at full price and sandwiches for lunch. No shops on Rangitoto Island so you have to bring your own food and water!

Rangitoto is the largest, youngest and one of the least modified of about 50 volcanic cones and craters in the Auckland volcanic field. It erupted from the sea in a series of dramatic explosions around 600 years ago, and is now extinct (via It is uninhabited and pest-free. So before you board the ferry, you're asked to brush your shoes against this shoe brush to get rid of any possible stowaways on your shoe. The ferry ride was around 30 minutes and I was nodding off.

Walking up to the summit on a really hot day with a whole lot of other people. Please bring your sunblock and cap and shades, there's not much tree cover along the way so it BURNS. I had a mild sunburn on my shoulders even though I was wearing 3/4 sleeves so you can imagine how scorching hot the sun was.

I ventured off-route halfway to check out the lava caves. It was quite dangerous walking inside because it was pitch dark, I had no torch, the ground wasn't flat, the walls were jagged, so I couldn't really hold on to anything to guide me through the cave. Why didn't I use my phone? HMM good question. After manoeuvring through the cave, at last I see the light~

I had two options of getting to the summit - 15 minutes via summit track which was where I came from or 55 minutes via road. Guess which one I chose.. I decided to take the road less taken (get it? haha). It was a walk through the forest and I was glad I chose this path because it was so much more cooling and peaceful. You could hear the birds chirping and the leaves rustling in the wind.

Viola! The view I came to Rangitoto for. I had my lunch here and then walked back to the harbour to catch the ferry back to Auckland. P.S. If you miss the ferry, you have to sleep on this uninhabited island so watch the time! I sat across this old couple from the UK who were on some kind of old folks travel trip (which is so cool!) and they started talking to me. We talked about growing old (LOL. The man asked me how I felt about it and the woman was like 'I don't think she thinks about it now, she's got her whole life ahead of her.') but it dawned on me just how fast time flies by. Then we talked about Singapore and other random topics. On my way back to the hostel, I helped two lost tourists find their way when I just arrived two days ago HAHA.

Look at how pristine and amazingly blue the water is in New Zealand!!

How to get there?
Take a ferry from Auckland ferry terminal for NZD29.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Auckland, New Zealand I: Sunset on Mount Eden

Having thought about going to New Zealand for as long as I can remember, I finally decided to just buy a ticket, pack and go!

The AirBus driver forgot to tell me where to alight so I ended up with a 'free' tour of the city centre. He dropped me off near my hostel on his way back to the airport. I booked two hostels for Auckland, one pretty far from the city center, another one in the middle of it. I decided to do so because the first hostel was close to One Tree Hill and Mount Eden so I could explore them before heading to the city centre.The hostel is located in a residential area and the neighbourhood was so tranquil and quaint! I adore the houses here, they are mostly Victorian bungalows (at least in my non-architect eyes).

I went to the supermarket and bought some oats, raisins, strawberries and milk for breakfast the next day. I bought a sandwich and headed off to Mount Eden. I think I chose a very deserted route up, but it was the nearest way from where I was. The view on top was really worth the walk (which wasn't that much actually) but it was chilly up there. There's a huge crater in the middle which is 50 metres deep. The volcano erupted from two craters 28,000 years ago. I couldn't capture the whole crater because it was so large and I have got no bird's eye view so here's one side of the crater..

I had a great time munching on my sandwich, looking over skyline of Auckland and waiting for the sun to set. However, it got colder and colder... The wind was howling and I was really envious of the people who were waiting for the sunset comfortably in the warmth of their cars.

SEE why I love sunsets? It is so gorgeous and breath-taking every time I see it from a different place. The sky turned a lovely shade of pink, purple and then orange. Ah~~ The cold was worth it. The cold never bothered me anyway. I wanted to wait a while more for the nightview of the city but I realised that my path back down to the main road has no street lamps, so I had to hurry down before it became completely dark and I made it just in time.

Goodnight Auckland.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Kampot/Kep, Cambodia: Rain, rain, go away!

It started raining every day after the day we were caught in the rain cycling back from Angkor Wat. Spent one whole day on the bus getting from Siem Reap to Kampot. Kampot was surprisingly quite packed with tourists, there was even a British rib house called Rusty Keyhole. We had dinner there and boy were the ribs good (a little too salty though). We caught the sunset near the beach and booked two tours with our hostel.

I have no photos of the first tour because it was raining extremely heavily so I didn't bring my camera along. The van went up a winding road around a mountain as the rain pelted down mercilessly on us. We saw some abandoned buildings which were not particularly attractive, especially when all I wanted was a hot tub to soak in.

We woke up to rain again the next day pff. This time we battled the rain in a tuktuk which was even less comfortable but an experience nonetheless. Our poor driver had to drive with the rain hitting his face. The first stop was a salt field but couldn't see the salt due to the rain. Thankfully the rain was a lot smaller now, so I managed to snap some (not very nice) photos (but still...).

We drove past some cattle ploughing the field and our driver stopped so we could take a photo. He must be like city people *eye roll*.

Then we trod through mud barefooted, crossed a makeshift log bridge (it was pretty shaky and my toes were gripping onto the log for fear of falling into the muddy river underneath) and reached a temple in a cave but it was more like a shrine or it's just an awfully small temple. Our driver pointed out some interesting rocks that were shaped like animals in the cave, there were crocodiles, pig and erm something else I can't recall.

And then before we left for Kep, we went to a Kampot pepper farm! Kampot is supposed to be famous for the pepper and I've never seen pepper plant before so it was quite interesting. The farm of course sells packed pepper but it was SO EXPENSIVE. I can't remember exactly how much it was but enough to make us gape.

Kep was small and it's not just me. It's the smallest province in Cambodia! Unfortunately due to the continuous rain, we didn't really experience Kep fully. We were supposed to take a ferry to Rabbit Island (which was included in our tour) but the ferry was cancelled due to bad weather. We also wanted to go to Kep National Park and enjoy nature but we were advised not to. So we just wandered around the market near the beach, watch the locals catch crabs, ate lots of seafood and chilled out at our backpackers (SEE BELOW).

This has to be the cutest backpackers I've ever been to! It was just adorable, like a mix of LOTR and The Flintstones.