A Travellerspoint blog

The Start of Queenstown

My First week in a winter paradise!



I have completed my first week in Queenstown! And to be honest, I haven’t really done much, so apologies if this blog entry is a bit short of excitement!

So I arrived in Queenstown (finally after all the drama about my flights). The first thing that hit me was the cold! I have arrived at the start of winter, but after the heat of Asia and the autumn weather in Sydney, I’m not quite used to frost! :) The second was the gorgeous views at every turn, I am surrounded by mountains. Lush. I checked into Base hostel and went to see the housekeeping people and got a job to pay for my accommodation! That put a lot less pressure on me because I don’t have to pay for a bed, and now I just need to find a paying job!

The work for accommodation was basically me making beds, hovering, and doing odd jobs here and there. 3 hours a day, 6 days a week and I stay in the staff quarters. Now Base hostel isn’t the nicest place in the work, I wasn’t too sure I would be able to put up with it. It’s a party hostel, and my room (where the workers stay) never gets clean. Nice. So it smelt pretty rank and there was so much mess. Mmmm… well at least I’m not paying for it!

I met up with Jen, who I met in Sydney. She’s doing a road trip around New Zealand with her mate Lianne who lives in Wellington. It was great to see a familiar, friendly face and her friend was really nice too, she even offered me a bed in her apartment in Wellington when I’m there! Lovely girl. After a couple glasses of wine and some food, the girls had to get off as they had an early start of driving. I went back to my hostel where some of the people there were getting ready to go on a bar crawl. I joined them! (Had to make some new friends after all). The bar crawl was alright, I ended up spending no money because you get a free drink at each bar so that was a bonus. I met some weird people and some great people. The girls in my dorm thought I was amazing that night, but then the next day hardly spoke to me. Nice. They were all like 20 and idiots so I wasn’t really that bothered. I ended up spending most the night with a guy called Beethoven (I kid you not) and he seemed cool and we pretty much took the mickey out of all the girls who go out with hardly any clothes on in the dead of winter and get with any guys that will take them! Ha! Young’uns eh?

I spent the next few days doing my housekeeping job and then watching films. And then one day I got a call from a girl called Fiona from another hostel in Queenstown called Bumbles, asking whether I’m still looking for work for accommodation .Err yeah! Get me away from the dump that is Base! I went to go check out the hostel, which is a gorgeous small hostel, clean and modern. Lovely! I moved out the next day to Bumbles. Again, I’m in the workers accommodation which isn’t as nice as the actual hostel rooms but it’s still ten times better than Base! For one, we actually clean our rooms! EVERYDAY! Oh the little things. All the rooms have separate entrances to each other too, so no annoying people waking you up in the hallway in the middle of the night. It’s like a little flat, our own bathroom and toilet and a bigger room with fewer beds. AND the other girls working there are lovely, made me feel right at home. We all went out for lunch, courtesy of the management. It just nice when people will actually speak to you instead of be rude and obnoxious, which I seem to find quite a lot. I’m a lot happier at Bumbles. I can see myself staying here where I couldn’t at Base. Plus I only have to work 5 days instead of 6. Sorted.

I’ve also been trying to find a job. I went into so many bars and restaurants with my CV, but they all told me the same thing, I’m 2 weeks too early. Perseverance! I’m positive about trying to find a job. It is quiet here at the moment but I’m going to go in every week to show my face, get to know the employers and hopefully they will give me a job! I had an interview for duty manager at a restaurant called Luciano’s that is reopening at the beginning of June. I don’t think I'll get it though; the owner asked me no questions, just told me about his vision and then said he would let me know. But I have applied for a few others and then this week I am going to go round again asking for jobs! I’m going to give myself 4 weeks, and if I can’t get a job, I will move on to somewhere where I can find a job! I hope I don’t have to though; I want to stay here for the winter.

So wish me luck with the job search. And any donations are welcome :) just kidding!

Lots of love,

Soph xx

Posted by sophie.lee 00:56 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)


New Zealand!



I’m currently at the airport on my way to Queenstown… well I should be on my way! I arrived at 5am this morning and tried to check in… and then realised I had bought a ticket for the 14th of October! Opps!! So £130 later I’m on a flight in a couple of hours! Phew!

So the first few days in Auckland weren’t the best, I had developed a cold (poor me!) and was feeling very sorry for myself! I did however, have the 8 bed dorm all to myself! It was cloudy and raining, so I spent my time shopping! But that got pretty boring, especially as I’m low on the funds.
Two girls I had met in Asia arrived on Wednesday, and I was feeling loads better and now I had people to speak to! Yey! Things are looking up! On Thursday we went to Auckland museum. There was loads of stuff on the Maori culture which was cool. It then went on about children’s lives through the ages which was pretty interesting, until we got to a mock-up of a teenage girls room from the 1990’s. Spice girls and backstreet boy’s posters, rollerblades! I can’t believe the stuff I grew up with is now in a museum… makes me feel old! We then went back into the city has some food and admired the luxurious boats in Viaduct Harbour.

The next day the girls left I went to Mt Eden, an inactive volcano which was pretty cool! I’ve never seen a volcano before, the crater was massive and the views from the top were gorgeous.

On my last day in Auckland, I caught the ferry to Waiheke Island and did some tramping… which is walking! Oh my, the views were breath-taking, lush green fields, winery’s and blue water! I missed my mum when doing this though because I and she always went on walks round the countryside! That evening I met up with Gill, Shelley’s mum who’s been travelling for 9 months! It was great seeing her and it gave me a boost after quite a difficult week.

So now the fun has ended and my priority is finding a job! I hope it goes well, I hope I meet great people and see great things. I’m slightly terrified but have to keep reminding myself that everything’s going to be alright!

Much Love

Soph xx

Posted by sophie.lee 12:28 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)


The most AMAZING city in the world!


Hi people!
I’m currently in Auckland, having got here yesterday and completely forgot about my blog until my wonderful mother reminded me! So much has happened in a week, I hope I can remember it all!

So before I even arrived in Sydney I had problems. At the airport they would not let me check in as I didn’t have a visa! Opps! Didn’t realise I needed one of those! It was touch and go for a few hours, and I had come to terms with the fact I would have to spend an extra night in Asia and change my flight, but the visa came through right at the last minute! Phew! Stress over!

A long flight later I arrived in Sydney exhausted so the first thing I did (after using public transport all the way to the hostel – clever me!) is sleep! After my quick cat nap, I took a walk around the city. Couldn’t resist having a quick peep at the harbour, with the bridge and the Opera house. It a real amazing sight It just such an iconic image and being there is quite overwhelming! On my way to the harbour, I popped in to see my old friend Abby, a girl I lived with a long time ago who moved out here about 6 years ago! We made plans to meet the next day for a good old catch up! I made my way back to the hostel to meet some girls I had met in Vietnam, Becky and Georgie for a drink. At the hostel I also met a lovely girl called Jen from Wales and after a quick drink with the other girls we went to the harbour for night time look and had a gorgeous meal there of fish and wine! Good times! I had mussels and they were the biggest mussels I had ever seen! Very yummy!

So the next day me and Jen decided to explore the city on foot, making our way to Hyde Park, had a look into the cathedral (I found it very morbid, compared to the bright and colourful temples of Asia!). We then made our way to the Botanical Gardens where there were loads of big spiders! EW! And also there were hundreds of bags hanging in the trees! They had ginger hair which I thought was quite funny!! We then made our way to the harbour (again!) but came round the other side through the Botanical Gardens to see it from a different angle. Still breath-taking!! We then decided to walk around it for some lunch and whilst we were suddenly everyone seemed to be running… there were hundreds of runners! All in groups, stampeding their way through us! It was so random and funny! Everyone seems to go running on their lunch break! Running up and down stairs, running along the harbour, we couldn’t get away from them! Felt like we should have been running too!! The afternoon consisted of shopping, which is a very easy thing to do in Sydney as amazing shops are everywhere but it’s very expensive and made me very sad that I couldn’t have a huge spending spree!

That evening I met Abby and we went for a drink and some food at the Opera Bar, one of her favourite bars that overlook the bridge and the Opera House! Honestly you can never get tired of that view! We had so much to catch up on there just wasn’t enough time! She also took me to a very posh revolving bar! Amazing!

So in the morning I and Jen got up for some more walking around Sydney! This time we went through China Town and up to Darling Harbour! Not as pretty as Circular Quay (where the bridge and Opera house are!) We then decided to walk around to Circular Quay to get the ferry to Manly Beach. On the way round I saw a perfect photo opportunity and as I love my jumping shots, I decided to jump of this pillar at the side of the harbour with the bridge in the background. After jumping, I realised a flip-flop was missing, and peered down and there it was, floating in the water! It was about 8ft down so there was no way I could get it!! So I had to walk with no flip-flops (I threw the other one away) until I found a shop, which surely isn’t that hard to find around Sydney. We walked and walked, then I got surrounded my grammar school kids come out for lunch. I prayed that they didn’t notice I was wearing no shoes!! We walked further and further until we got to the Rocks which is one the other side of Circular Quay. And what do I end up walking past? Australian Fashion Week. WITH NO SHOES ON!!!! Oh dear I was so embarrassed!! I quickly walked away and found a souvenir shop and bought the first pair I could find, with Australia written over them and they were way too big, but I did not care! I needed those shoes!! So drama over, we popped on the Ferry to Manly beach, had some lovely Fish and Chips for lunch and chilled out. It was a bit chilly though, but I bet in the summer it is awesome! Seagulls everywhere mind you, and they are so much scarier than pigeons.
The next day me and Jen decided to go to the zoo. Toronga Zoo. We took the ferry and saw loads cool animals, koalas, kangaroos, wallaby’s, and giraffes! Loads! I wanted to see the duck billed platypus but it was hiding so I didn’t get to see it. We then headed back into the mainland where Jen went off to do her Harbour Bridge climb and I went off to the contempery art museum and then back to the hostel to get ready for a home cooked meal courtesy of Abby and her boyfriend Olly. Her friends Charli and Coops came round as well and we got merry on wine then Ate a gorgeous chicken casserole and mash potato! YUMMY! I have missed a good home cooked meal. I can wait till I get my own place and am able to cook.

Another early morning rise for me and Jen, we decided to go to Bondi Beach. But before that, we headed to Coogie Beach and had a snooze on the beach under the sun Lovely jubly. The decided to walk the coastline where we saw loads of cool views, loads of cool bays and then 2 hour later we arrived at Bondi!! Fish and chips on the beach? Yes please! There was loads of cool graffiti there where they have actually let graffiti artists paint the walls. Amazing. In the evening we went out with Georgie and Becky and also Jennie and Sara some other girls I met in Vietnam! Major reunion!! Got a little drunk and me and Jen got a pie face (PIES! YUM!) AND subway on the way home. Greedy ladies.

The next day I said goodbye to Jen and it was my last day in Sydney. So I went to the Autumn Music Festival in Surry Hills with Abby, Olly and Charli and met a gorgeous girl called Jen! (Too many Jens/Jennys in Oz!) The weather was lush, the music was banging, we got very merry, danced a lot and I had about one hours sleep before I had to get a taxi to the airport at 5 in the morning! I was not feeling too dandy getting to the airport, or on the plane! But it was so worth it!

I had such an amazing time in Sydney, a lot more than I thought I was! It was so sad to leave, but I am planning on going back for New Year, or maybe to work after New Zealand. Who knows what the future holds!

Lots of love,

Soph xx

Posted by sophie.lee 02:30 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


The last stop in Asia...


Yes guys, the time has come... its the last stop in Asia!

Singpore is one hell of a place. It so clean! Its so shiny!! I could actually imagine living here (dont worry Mum I wont...!) My first experience wasnt great though. I got dropped off at this random shopping centre god knows where I was! I asked at information how to get to Chinatown where my hostel was and asked where the metro was... because I heard it is everywhere and really easy to use. "No Metro." the woman said. "Bus No.2" she said. OKay, so off I go to find the busstop and I get my lonely planet out (Very battered after 3 months of use!) and ask a man waiting there where abouts we are. He doesnt know... WHAT!! A local doesnt know where he is? I told him where I wanted to go and he then tells me no buses go there. WHAT!! So wheres the metro? 30minutes walk he tells me. WHHAAAATTT!!! It is soooo hot and humid and i have my backpack (and Cath Kidston holdall :)) And i cannot be doing with walking 30minutes to get the metro. So i was going to get a taxi, but then i see a train! And it doesnt look that far! I started walking, assigned to my fate of getting very hot and sweaty knowing the cold showr at my hostel will make it all worth while! I cross the road, walk 2 minutes and BOOM im at the metro! Why would do people lie?!?!? So annoyed! But I dont really care because i found it and used it all the way into Chinatown. Oh yes, a day of public transport in a foreign country always makes me feel proud of myself!

China Town is gorgeous, hanging red lanterns cover the streets, brightly coloured buildings make the area vibrant, stalls, after stalls line the streets giving a bustling atmosphere. But theres something a bit different compared to others I have seen... ITS SO CLEAN!!! There is no rubbish anywhere! The metro is so clean and shiny, it feels like going into a posh hotel or something when you get to the stations. Me likey. Anyway, i arrive at my hostel, dump my stuff have a quick shower and head out to Marina Bay, where there is a gorgeous view of the city. What suprises me is its actually quick small. The buildings are huge and yeah its not like Leicester, but compared to Bangkok or London its tiny in comparision! The Marina Bay Sands Hotel is a bizarre sight.. looks like a boat ontop! So I had a walk around then when to a nearby shopping centre to do some SHOPPING!!! 2 pairs of shoes later I was exhausted, so heading back to Chinatown for the best massage of my trip then bed!! ZZZZzzzzz....

I get woken up by the sound of thunder and heavy rain! Great! I stay in bed for as long as it takes for the storm to stop! I head out of the city to the Chinese Gardens, and the chinese influence is in your face! Pagodas, statues, bonzai trees, and a little garden called the Garden of Abundance which has statues of every one of the animals that make up the chinese years. Really nice to have a chilled walk around. Saw some big lizard things and turtles. I then head back into town to Arab Street where there are loads of Indian shops selling saris and carpets. "New rug for you miss?" haha no, i dont think I can fit that in my backpack! I see a big Mosque. Nice. I see lots of buildings that have been painted with weird and wonderful patterns and pictures. Oh I do love it when I see buildings like that! I then walk further down and find Raffles hotel, so I pop in and have a Tropical Sling in the courtyard. I didnt fancy going to the bar, It was such a nice day and the courtyard is lush. I was all prepared to be virtually ignored and the service to be horrendous because I am not a posh resident there! But no! The bar man was so nice, asking me questions abut myself, wether it was my first time here, how the drink was... he brought me over a magazine to read without me even asking! The best service I have had in Asia! I was missing it to be honest! The cocktail was lovely, I didnt want to go with the crowd and have a Singapore Sling, plus Ive heard they are horrible!
After the cocktail I was feeling a little tipsy (!!) so headed back to China Town, got myself a manicure in preparation for Oz, I do not think my style that i have had over the past 3 months will do in Oz!

My time in Asia is over! BOOHOO!! Im actually quite sad... There is so much to see and do here, I feel like ive only seen the tip of the iceberg! The past 3 months have gone SO quickly, it feels only yesterday that I had my teary farewell to my mum and sister, and sobbed to all my friends on my leaving do! Over the past 3 months I have gained a major obsessions with bikes - learning to ride them in Pai and then the 3 day motorbike ride in Vietnam. I have trekked.. everywhere! Major one being Sapa, very proud of myself over that, another one of my highlights. Ive learnt to cook Thai food, lets see if I can remember when I get to New Zealand! I went to Cambodia... and HAVE to go back at some point. Everyone needs to go there, my favorite country by far. I am now an Advanced Scubadiver :) so have kind of got over my fear of open water! I experienced my first earthquake. I spent my birthday in paradise, dancing in the rain with two great guys and a great gal. I have many new passport stamps and have met SO many great people (and some not so great but wel forget about them!). Im excited for reunions in Australia and now its all a bonus as far as im concerned... i wasnt too sure if i would even last Asia!

Love you all,miss u more!

Soph x

Posted by sophie.lee 07:00 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Malaka, Malaysia

Weird and wonderful ending to my time in Malaysia



My last Maylasian days were spent in the city of Malaka, south of KL. The girls I had met in KL had decided to join me so it was like a little road trip! We arrived at our hostel and the manager man (I think his name was Alan...) was really scary and telling us all the rules and if we broke any of the rules we would get kicked out! We were a bit shocked at this treatment because it is the first time i have had anyone be like that! But he started exlaining that there has been alot of trouble before he was managing the hostel, and things had got really good there so I kinda trusted him on that! We had a little walk around China Town which is a really nice area of little lanes, it looks like a proper Chinatown! Not like alot of Chinattowns I have been in where it doesnt really feel any different. I actually felt the chinese infuence! I liked it! hehe. Anyways we had a wander round to find somewhere to eat but everywhere seemed to be closed! We ended up by the river and this local place, but the woman couldnt speak a word of english and it took us ages to place an order, then afterwards she tried to tell us there wre items not available be it was impossible to understand her! We ended up leaving still hungry, and till trying to find somewhere to eat. And then we came across this gorgeous restaurant which had live music and food that looked amazing! Who cares that it was quite expensive?! We were starving and it was worth every penny!!

The next day we al got up for a walk around the town. IT WAS BOILING. Clear blue skies, no wind = sweaty girls. We went on a river cruise thing which was quite funny because it played weird music, but we saw loads of building along the riverfront that had art all over them... my sort of thing! After the river cruise we went to a customs museum (it was free) and it just showed you about the customs of Malaysia and items they had siexed... including a can of Fosters?! haha. We then went to this massive ship which turned out to be a museum on ships... not very interesting either, but they were both welcome breaks from the heat. We then went to Dutch Dquare which has a pitiful market and all the buildings are painted red. Beautiful it was but the market had about 6 stalls in all. We then headed down the river to get a closer look at these wonderful buildings. Honestly, i dont understand why we dont have this at home! They were so colourful and vibrant, i think when i get a house im going to do something like that! More than likely get some miserable person putting complainst about it though.

We headed back to the hostel because it was just so hot we couldnt take it any longer! So we had a couple of hours rest, Alan became more friendly and we had a bit of a nap too. Then we went out for some yummy dinner in China Town (after walking around for ages AGAIN trying to find somewhere to eat!!) We then went for a few drinks and stopped at a bar and it was all you can drink, and the owner gave us his iPad to use, a photos of us all, keyrings, playing cards!! Brilliant, good choice me thinks. So had a great night with the girls geting very merry, it just got slightly dodgy towards the end of the night and all the locals were at the bar and one of the girls was asked wether she needed an escort to the toilets! So we stuck together and left as a group! very sensible! And that was it, a short but sweet stay in Malaka. Im now in Singpore preparing myself for Australia! Shopping anyone? :)

Soph xx

Posted by sophie.lee 20:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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