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Other Backpacking across the world

Discussion in 'General' started by MrWillyWonka, 21 Aug 2009.

  1. MrWillyWonka

    MrWillyWonka Chocolate computers galore!

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    Wahey! Rep++ for you!

    You have provided me with a very good route and we did actually consider going to Houston via Colorado Springs. I quite like the idea of popping into Mexico, however it's likely I will go to Mexico in the future so I'm not too fussed.

    chrisb2e9, As for the couch, there are 5 of us, have you 5 couches? :D Nah, we'll be camping, staying in hotels and hostels. Its not going to be luxury in terms of comfort but we'll get the luxury of seeing all these places.

    Ghys, I have already been to Montreal and Toronto as well as Niagara Falls, however my friends have not, We won't be covering that much of Canada unfortunately. The world is just too big to fit everything in! People can travel their whole lives and still not see everything!

    What I'll do is put up the planned route through USA and Canada and everyone can chip in with places to visit and adjustments to the route. Still would like info on the other countries though, especially China.
     
  2. Vigil

    Vigil Not geek enough

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    In China:

    If you like natural landscapes there:
    Guilin (long ji terrace, yang shuo town)
    Zhang jia jie national park
    jiu zhai guo (sichuan)
    Tibet (take the train up from Beijing, chengdu, shanghai or a few other cities) - it's right beside nepal.
    The yangtze's a bit meh, especially since it's all been flooded now


    If you want history and culture:
    Beijing (goes without saying)
    Xi'an
    hangzhuo
    shanghai
    nanjing
    shu zhuo (these four are all right beside eachother)
    Chengdu
    Yunan

    If you are going to malaysia, then perhaps go through to hong kong - take the subway into mainland china and then work your way through by whatever means you want/can.
     
  3. Elton

    Elton Officially a Whisky Nerd

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    In Vietnam(assuming you're heading from China) Hanoi ---- Da Lac ----- Ah Zhong(something like this) ---- Saigon ---- whereever else...

    It's a southbound route and I probably missed about 20 interesting cities.
     
  4. MrWillyWonka

    MrWillyWonka Chocolate computers galore!

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    I've been busy these past 2 months but now backpacking planning is now back on! Need more advice and suggestions! Got an appointment with STA travel to see what they can come up with but I've had various comments about STA both good and bad so we'll have to see this weekend.

    Done some general planning and now I'm looking into China but its such a big country with so much to cover. The itinery has changed and the Trans-siberian railway is an option if money is low, if not then the longer route home in which we can visit Tibet. The man in seat 61 has been a good guide so far on getting around.

    One thing has been bugging me, should I bring my DSLR (400D) with me or not? It's extra weight and there is a security concern and the fact I may spend too long looking into the lens of the camera than exploring. Then again what about the amazing photos I can take across the world? Perhaps I should sell the DSLR and get a high quality compact?
     
  5. Mr Mario

    Mr Mario What's a Dremel?

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    You need to set up some sort of bit-tech blog/journal of your trip when you start (or at least when you come back).
     
  6. Jumeira_Johnny

    Jumeira_Johnny 16032 - High plains drifter

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    Take it. Be careful. but take it with a 2 lens combo. If you don't you'll regret it.

    FWIW, the places I have felt least safe with a camera have been in western europe. Everywhere else, I have felt fine. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that as the average income increases, so does the likely hood of getting your camera stolen. Not the other way around as most would assume.
     
  7. MrWillyWonka

    MrWillyWonka Chocolate computers galore!

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    Interesting, I suppose the logic is that a stealing a camera in a poorer country would also make it hard to sell. I think I will regret it if I don't take it but at the same time i don't want to be attached to the camera - addicted and having to carry it when I don't want to use it. If I did I was thinking of just taking my 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 although perhaps a prime lens would be useful too (and relatively light).

    Mr Mario, indeed I will be setting up some sort of diary/journal. A diary on paper and a journal online. Scary thing is, what if I lose the diary - guess I'll have to to type it up and save it online.

    Has anyone used GOSIM?
     
  8. Xir

    Xir Modder

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    Yep...and if you find a way to finance travelling the entire life inform me I'll go as well :D

    Monster Trip you're planning...I've spent 3 Months just planning how to see Vietnam in 3 weeks and failed (as there's lots of places I don't have the time to go to)
     
    Last edited: 27 Oct 2009
  9. MrWillyWonka

    MrWillyWonka Chocolate computers galore!

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    We will be going to Vietnam for 4 weeks. Yes I will miss a lot of things but wherever I go I will miss a lot of things, however I think 4 weeks is a reasonable time.

    I several flights booked and a motorhome booked for Australia for 9 weeks! Basically we have flexibility between Beijing in June to Australia at the end of October and we will organise things as we go along.

    We have also decided only to do the West coast of the USA.

    I'll be leaving 31st May.
     
  10. ArtificialHero

    ArtificialHero We were just punking him sir!

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    Wow, sounds like an AWESOME trip. I'm in New Zealand at the moment, so can happily chip in with some tips for you.

    Auckland

    The biggest city in New Zealand, at the top of the North Island, and basically, I wouldn't bother. It's just another big city, without much to recommend it. Others like it more than me, check out Lonely Planet and see some of the sights, but don't budget a big wedge of time when there are much better places to go, like....

    Raglan

    Little surfing village on the West coast of the North Island, absolutely stunning and beautiful, and the Raglan Backpackers is my favourite place to stay in the whole of New Zealand - great atmosphere, great staff, hot tub in the courtyard, clean and friendly and a great place to meet people. This isn't a party city, but there are some nice bars. If you have transportation and you fancy a slightly different scene, then Solscape Eco Retreat may be more up your alley - VERY environmentally focused though, to the point that there isn't really hot water to speak of. You can either camp there, or stay in converted railway carriages. Close to Raglan is Manu bay, which is one of the top surfing spots in New Zealand, and it's awesome. There's also kayaking and all the usual water-based activities. Don't miss Raglan. Just don't.

    Hamilton

    Spend a day here on your way to Raglan. The botanic gardens are impressive. J's backpackers is solid. Don't worry about spending too much time here, there's not a lot to do.

    Wellington

    I'll say this now: I love Wellington. So much to say, but the things to absolutely not miss are

    - A night out in Alice bar off Courtenay Place, Alice in Wonderland theme bar serving cocktails in teapots.
    - Coffee and cheesecake (!) at Midnight Espresso on Cuba Street
    - Savoury muffins. You don't get these in the UK, and they're one of my favourite things about New Zealand. They're normally home made at the coffee shops all over the country. My favourite are at Espressoholic, again on Cuba Street.
    - Cuba Street generally. Awesome little vintage and unusual shops, great bars, clubs, and coffee shops. Stop into Mojo Sound on Cuba Street and ask Pete for a copy of his party map. That'll see you right on a night out.
    - Te Papa. Awesome, free museum, great bit of history about New Zealand and loads of other exhibits too.
    - Don't bother with the Weta Cave. Weta Digital are the guys that did the special effects for Lord of the Rings, and it's supposed to be a "museum", but it's really just a big memorabilia shop with a very few props from various movies scattered around, and a 30 minute DVD which basically has similar stuff to the extras on the LotR DVDs. It's free, but it's about a 40 minute bus ride outside of town, which I would suggest is probably not worth it. We stayed at Wellywood backpackers - it's got a really big party vibe, but Wellington's that kind of city. There's loads of great places to stay in Wellington though.

    Abel Tasman National Park

    Dude. Once you get to the South Island, especially if you've just come from Wellington, you have to get yourself to the Abel Tasman to disconnect a bit. It's just the most beautiful, serene, magical place I've ever been. It's huge, and there are various options available to you to explore, at various costs, from just passes to the camp sites scattered through the park, to multiple days kayaking. We did the "2 day escape & walk" package with the houseboat upgrade. Basically, you kayak for a day with a guide, then spend a night on a houseboat moored in Anchorage bay, then hike the second day to Onetahuti beach, where a water taxi meets you and takes you back to Marehau, outside the park. If you book this through the i-Sites, ask for KP as a guide - he's a Maori and absolutely lovely, and has loads of extra local knowledge of the park which really added to the experience. The houseboat is also highly recommended - it's a really fun experience, with cheap beers on board and they let us jump off the roof into the sea which was a laugh. Just like Raglan, this is one of the New Zealand experiences I really wouldn't want to miss.

    Nelson

    I didn't particularly like it, but we weren't there for long. Your mileage may vary.

    Christchurch

    So Christchurch is where I live at the moment. As a place to live it's great, but if you're passing through it's only OK really, not a huge amount to do. Charlie B's is a great backpackers, get a bagel at Yellow Rocket in Cathedral Square, and DEFINITELY don't miss the Dux De Lux for incredibly good locally brewed Dux beers and ales. My favourite night spot is Goodbye Blue Monday - it's real loud but a real nice crowd. Cathedral Square market is generally good for a few bargains, but personally I wouldn't plan on staying here long if I was travelling around the country.

    Lake Tekapo

    Beautiful. Stop here on your way down south. The colour of the water will blow you away.

    Queenstown

    AWESOME. Skydiving, Jetboating, Paragliding, Wakeboarding, night life, people, atmosphere. Just the best place, ever. I'd suggest spending more time here than anywhere else. It's just so much fun! Get yourself down to the lake with some beers and just meet some people.

    So I hope this stuff helps, feel free to PM me if you want any more information. I've left out some pretty obvious places (most notably the Bay of Islands) simply because I haven't been there. I know you wouldn't anyway, but I just want to be clear that I'm not intended you to view this as a comprehensive list of ALL the good stuff, just the good stuff I've found. I don't think I've left anywhere out that I didn't like either. Definitely worth looking into Rotorua for a bit, as well as Wanaka and Dunedin down south. Good luck man!
     
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  11. knuck

    knuck Hate your face

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    I wish you a very, incredibly, ridiculously awesome trip

    you have balls to do that and I really wish you the best

    Make sure you remember this for the rest of your life :D
     
  12. MrWillyWonka

    MrWillyWonka Chocolate computers galore!

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    Wow, brilliantly valuable information there and thanks for the info about Queenstown, we were planning on flying into Christchurch from Sydney but Queenstown may be the better option. There will be 5 of us in New Zealand and we plan to hire a large 4x4 and do some freedom camping, one can be hired for about £1500 including a camping kit so £300 each for 6 weeks is pretty good, obviosuly we'll budget for fuel and food too although we will stay at hostels in cities.

    I have friends and family in Auckland so we will spend about a week there (and the surrounding areas) - I'm just hoping 6 weeks in enough and I think 3 weeks in each island? What do you suggest? I'm more of a nature person so I would rather be looking at rural than urban and the 2 day escape and walk package is certainly something I'd do. Where do you book it? I can't find any info on the website.

    Rep++ for you :)

    Thanks! No reason why you can't do it too - even if it's exploring your own country ;)
     
    Last edited: 15 Feb 2010
  13. ArtificialHero

    ArtificialHero We were just punking him sir!

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    So the i-Sites are government run information centres in all the major towns (major towns means something different to the UK - even places that are very small by UK standards have i-Sites). They're a great place to go for information about a place, much more so than the UK, because you're able to book most of the activities available right at the i-Sites. There's lots of companies that run kayak trips into the Abel Tasman, but the one we used was Marehau Sea Kayaks.

    I'd love to be able to offer loads of information about getting out into the bush, but honestly, I've not done any of the standard bush places, because part of the reason I'm here is to help my buddy with her PhD, which involves scrabbling about in all kinds of random bush locations, but they tend to be random bits out in the middle of nowhere rather than well known beauty spots. Renting a 4x4 is a GREAT way to see the country - we have an awesome HiLux that gets us around. If you're camping though, a great way to do it is at DoC campsites. A standard "holiday park" will run you between $15 and $20 a night, and will generally have hot running water, toilets, showers, kitchens and so on, but they tend in New Zealand to fall into two categories: horribly soulless and artificial, and terrifyingly creepy. The DoC campsites are MUCH cheaper (from $2 to $10 depending on amenities) but with a lot less comfort, and they tend to be in much more scenic, unspoiled locations. My favourite was Rangitata forest park outside of Wellington, although we did have to hike through the park back to our tents when we got back to the park after midnight on fireworks night, only to find that the park gates close to cars at 8pm - something to watch out for!

    Despite my advice about Queenstown, you'll probably find that you have to go to Christchurch - any flight into Queenstown from Sydney will transfer at Christchurch. You don't have to stay in Christchurch, and there will be more rental options here than in Queenstown, and it's only a 6 hour drive to Queenstown (and WHAT a drive - a mixture of beautiful, arrow straight roads with the biggest horizon I've ever seen, and unbelievably fun twisties). You'll find that long drives here are very doable, even relaxing, because there's bugger all traffic on the roads and the navigation is easy because you're normally heading roughly for one of the bigger places - don't rely on Google Maps for navigation, it will give you 40 individual directions for the individually named roads, when all you really need is "stay on state highway 1, then 8, then 76, then follow signs to Queenstown". One thing I would say though, is that they don't have laws here about visibility of speed cameras, and the police tend to be sneaky - I'm not a speeder by habit, but I've still been caught twice just for slipping over momentarily - best to stick to the limit, and it's only 100km/h which can be a little bit frustrating.

    Another little thing about driving is that if you're renting a diesel 4x4 the diesel tax may be paid for you by the rental company, which is great because diesel owners here pay a tax to offset the fact that diesel here is MUCH cheaper than petrol (petrol is around $1.80 a litre at the moment, while diesel is more like $1.10). Check the terms and conditions, but you may find it cheaper to rent a diesel.

    Oh lastly, one really beautiful place to visit is Bridal Veil Falls, between Hamilton and Raglan. It's one of hundreds of places in New Zealand with barely any tourists at all, that in the UK would be completely overrun.

    As I say, happy to answer any more questions - I like talking about NZ!

    - Mike

    PS Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of the scenery. Most of them are taken in the Abel Tasman, the birds are gannets at Muriwai Gannet Colony, the Maori carving is in Hamilton Gardens, and the telescopes / night sky are at Mt. John observatory. The thinner waterfall is Bridal Veil Falls. The larger waterfall was just signposted by the side of the road - not a single person there, but the name escapes me. I'll try and remember for you.

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  14. kingred

    kingred Surfacing sucks!

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    If you don't know, you cant comment, Belgium for beer is an obvious one, but northern France in the wilds of the ardennes, there are some spectacular beers. The south of France is a general good rule of thumb the only exception to it is the champagne region in the north, but frankly, France for the wine, beer, food and lovelies.
     
  15. Jipa

    Jipa Avoiding the "I guess.." since 2004

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    I've only been backpacking to AUS, but from what I saw, heard and experienced there my only hint will be not to have too tight a schedule. It really blows if you _HAVE_ to leave a country too early, if you get ill and miss places you want to see, etc. In long run it's also exhausting as heck to be on the move all the time, so just reserve time to chill and get together. Some people I met over there had been driving around the country like crazy and in the end couldn't really even remember all the stuff they'd done and seen.

    Take it easy and mind the distances, that's my 2 cents.
     
  16. MrWillyWonka

    MrWillyWonka Chocolate computers galore!

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    Just a note that I am leaving the country on Tuesday. And I want to say thanks to ArtificialHero for his fantastic contribution about NZ, really useful stuff!

    First stop Moscow, Whoop!
     
  17. NuTech

    NuTech Minimodder

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    You're one lucky sonofabitch.

    Best of luck to you on your travels. Godspeed.
     
  18. yatesy

    yatesy What's a Dremel?

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    Pictures or it didn't happen! ;)
     
  19. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    lucky lucky cu*t!
     
  20. supermonkey

    supermonkey Deal with it

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    Moscow, you say? There's always Ismalava for cheap souvenirs and a large local population buying knock-off designer shoes (as well as some decent food). It's a short subway ride outside of Moscow, but worth a trip.
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    You can check out Arbat Street, a colorful pedestrian-only street lined with tourist shops.
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    And the ever popular Red Square area. Just north of Red Square is Manege Square, which is a large outdoor mall area. There are a few nice sculpture gardens, and lots of people out and about.
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    Just make sure your memory card is empty. Moscow has some beautiful architecture (from my American perspective), and it's easy to get carried away.

    edit: Shameless Flickr plug for more photos.
     
    Last edited: 28 May 2010

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