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Lake Wanaka

Monthly News: June

Considering I’m now settled in Wanaka, New Zealand for the foreseeable future (hopefully until next year at the very least), I won’t be travelling around as much. I thought I’d start a monthly blog to show what I’ve been up to and where I’ve been photographing, as well as links to any New Zealand and/or Asia posts written during that time.

Lake Wanaka

This month has been an important one – after nearly a month of searching, I finally found a job (or two) in Wanaka. Currently working in both a gorgeous lakeside bar/restaurant, and in a cutesy cafe, I can now start saving up for my next big trip away.

At the beginning of June I drove to Mount Cook village for an overnight stay and the opportunity to hike in the area. Due to recent snowfall the whole area was dazzling white and super icy which made hiking a nightmare, but it was a totally new experience for me and I loved the change in scenery. Some of the photos I took from the Hooker Valley Track are amongst my favourite New Zealand ones so far. The trail took me over three shaky swing bridges and along a river with great views of Mount Cook (the tallest mountain in New Zealand) and Mueller Glacier, before ending at a glacial lake at the foot of Cook.

Hooker Valley

Swing Bridge at Hooker Valley

Mt Cook Glacial Lake

Since Mount Cook I’ve been taking on as many work shifts as possible, and therefore haven’t managed any further hikes in the area. I have however started running again though, and Lake Wanaka has a beautiful track running around it which makes for a great and scenic morning jog.

As far as photos go, I did haul myself out of bed super early one morning for sunrise (okay, sunrise here is at around 8:30 currently, so maybe it wasn’t that early…) and took some cool shots looking out over the lake and its famous tree.

Lake Wanaka Sunrise

Lake Wanaka Sunrise

Lake Wanaka

My Instagram following has been increasing slowly over the past year, and this month I finally hit 8,000 followers, which I’m extremely excited about. The most popular photo I posted during June was one taken at Lake Hawea, just up the road from Wanaka:

Lake Hawea

This month I’ve only managed to put two blog posts out there:

Life Lately talks about my move to New Zealand and some of the things I’d been up to during my first month.

Seven Wonders of Ayutthaya is a write up of my time spent in this historic city in Thailand last December.

I was lucky to be offered a guest interview on a great travel concierge site – Alex Finds, and this month my writing and photos were featured on their interviews page. Click here to see the finished article!

I’ve also started working with a new friend (another Charlie) in Wanaka, who runs a fabulous platform for sharing travel blogs – find her website the Voyager here; I’ll regularly be uploading blogs to there also.

That’s everything that’s gone on in my new secluded life in New Zealand’s south island during June. I definitely have a few small adventures planned for next month, as well as more Asia stories to tell.

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Friday Photo Diary – 29th January

Every Friday I’ll be writing a post with where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to that week, and include my favourite five photos.

Apologies for the lateness of this post… I haven’t lost track of days just yet – see below for my explanation!

After a twelve hour journey (only around five hours actually travelling, the rest waiting), and a definite border scam, Jeni and I finally crossed the border into Laos and boarded a boat to Don Det. One of the Four Thousand Islands in the middle of the Mekong River in southern Laos, Don Det has been described as paradise by many of my friends who’ve travelled there; we couldn’t wait to spend a few days there this week relaxing.

Our guesthouse for the first two nights was situated away from the tiny town strip, on the sunrise side of Don Det. Unfortunately it may have been slightly too wild for us – the first twelve hours brought us a room infested with ants, a spider attack and a pretty scary-looking snake being shoo-ed from the kitchen. We decided to move, but not before rising early on Sunday to catch an incredible sunrise (photo below).

Taking a slight step up in comfort, we ended up justifying our budget blow at the most luxurious (and expensive) hotel on the tiny island – it had a swimming pool. The next four days were spent doing laps, but mostly working on our tans and generally relaxing.

Don Det has a neighbour island to the south, Don Khone, which we did take time away from the pool to explore. Hiring bicycles we rode fifteen minutes to the bridge connecting the islands and headed to a nearby waterfall. Somphamit Waterfalls Park ended up being well-worth exploring; there are several tiers of large falls, which result in rapids within the Mekong. Sadly the current was too strong to go swimming, but there was a beach, and a sunset cafe with gorgeous hut platforms overlooking the waterfalls. After our ‘tiring’ day out we took a nap there before heading back to Don Det.

After six days of doing not much, we were both ready to move onwards, and so yesterday we took a boat back to mainland and a bus north to Champasak for the night.

Practically just a one-night stopover, the small riverside town of Champasak did have one attraction we were keen to visit this morning – Wat Phou. Wat Phou is an Angkor-era temple, the most important one in Laos, and is situated on a hill known locally as ‘Mount Penis’. We had to check it out!

Cabbage Patch Kids
On our journey between Pakse and Savannakhet, Jeni and I experienced an entirely new form of transport – the Cabbage Bus. Two thirds of the vehicle were packed window to window, floor to ceiling, with cabbages. In the third reserved for human passengers, no space was wasted; under every seat and down the aisle were boxes of cabbages and other greens. The bus roof was near collapsing under the weight of several tonnes of veggies stacked under tarp above our heads.

 

The Cabbage Bus

The Cabbage Bus

Packed with greens

Packed with greens

Our bags amongst the cabbages

Our bags amongst the cabbages

The novelty definitely wore off however, as a two and a half hour journey turned into nearly six, and our veggie-filled vehicle dropped us miles from our intended destination leaving us stranded and hungry with nowhere to stay.

 

Here are my favourite five for the week:

 

Don Det Sunrise

Don Det Sunrise

Water Buffalo, Don Det

Water Buffalo, Don Det

Somphamit Waterfalls, Don Khone

Somphamit Waterfalls, Don Khone

Beach at Somphamit

Beach at Somphamit

View from Wat Phou

View from Wat Phou