A Travellerspoint blog

As cool runnings states...I am feeling very Olympic today!!


Wow - where do I start.

Well I am currently suffering my first know case of POD (Post Olympics Depression) so I can only imagine how the athletes are feeling. I thought Sydney was fun...but oh how much better it can get.

So it was a whirlwind 5 nights in London, I couldn't believe the different feeling in the city between last time I was in London in 2005. The city felt so much more vibrant, there were amazing volunteers all over the city asking you if you needed any help - they were even in hyde park offering site seeing suggestions! It was amazing. The people and the city had really come into their own with the Olympics in town!

I arrived on Tuesday afternoon where I was met by Sarah. It was so good to see her after almost a year...but there wasn't time for chit chat..we needed to get back to the apartment we were staying in as soon as possible, the BBC were streaming the Australia vs USA game live! It would be my first chance to watch Rowie at the Olympics as I had so far watched no Waterpolo but seen the olympics in Vietnamese, malaysian, English and Portuguese.

The game was very close and went into extra time...Sarah and i felt sick with nerves. Unfortunately after a really hard fight Australia lost in extra time, we would be watching Rowie play for an Olympic bronze medal.

The next day and a half were a blur of some London sightseeing, Harrods food court, catching up with people and doing our test run to Olympic park to get our tickets.


Thursday was game day...or game night! We decided to take our mind off the start of the day by getting our nails done at the infamous Wah nails.
Sarah and I both had our nails done - here is Sarah at the nail salon!

Afterwards we had a warm up to Olympics lunch at a fantastic vegetarian restaurant, before it was a quick bus home to get ready for OLYMPIC PARK.

So the reason I was in London had finally arrived - tickets in hand we set off on the train to Olympic park, a short 3 stop ride from our apartment.
Security and the gates were really easy to get through and inside the park was a really charged atmosphere. It was different to Sydney however, as I remember many more people in their countries outfits.

The excitement was palpable - and we hadn't been able to eat since lunch from the nerves and excitement. We met Rowie's family and friends outside - got our Rowie specially designed supporter tshirts before we went inside.

After a quick change into the supporter tshirt in we went! Our seats were amazing, 3 rows from the front! Thank you Sarah for living in France!
Australia was playing Hungary in the bronze medal match. Australia got out to a large lead, with Rowie scoring two of the goals...
They were gradually pinned back and in the last second of the game...and I mean last second...Hungary scored a goal to equal the score. It was into overtime....

Sarah and I were unable to talk at this stage, having sat through the last 2 games going into overtime.
While we sat on the edge of our seat Australia scored two goals in extra time to win! Bronze medallists!!!!!!!

I have to say, watching one of your closest friends win an Olympic medal is something you can only dream about. Seeing Rowie win was lifechanging and something I will never forget. Due to Sarah's amazing ticket purchases we were even able to give her a hug after the game over the fence! AMAZING.

We waited around that night for a couple of hours for the team to arrive and to see them with their Olympic medals.
Here is a photo of Sarah and I with Rowie and her bronze medal:


I don't know anyone who has worked harder for something than Ro has for this medal, giving up time at uni, steady work and months at a time of her life in pursuit of this Olympic dream. I couldn't be prouder to have her as a friend and be in person in London watching her win a bronze medal...

Olympic fever by this point had officially struck and we were just overcome with how much went on. We even had the saturday in the park watching more Olympics on the big screen sharing an evian bottle filled with cider (all class) and enjoying the sun London put on for us.


We were lucky enough over the next two days to see Rowie both days at both a nice afternoon session drinking pimms and really feeling like we were in London to a team dinner out to celebrate the girls achievements.
Here is Ro and I the day after her win!


The feeling in London was fantastic - if you have never experienced a city in the grips of true Olympics I would urge you to do it once in your life. Both Sydney and London were amazing to visit in 2000 and 2012 respectively!

After the dinner and drinks on Saturday night, and no sleep from Friday night to Monday morning (1am to see the closing ceremony) I definitely made the most of my Olympic experience!

I can't say enough about how exciting our time was, and all I can say now is RIO 2016!!!!!

"the Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself." - Dawn Fraser

Posted by Rosie Anderson 14:53 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

In transit to chorizo, red wine...oh and Portugal

*more photos to come*


Here I am in Europe - the next main leg of my trip for a 2 1/2 month period.

Leaving Vietnam behind here I am in the big bad world of full few Europe - after having my daily allowance of $1.50 in Vietnam it was a rude shock when I got of the train in Heathrow and paid for a ticket to Luton that was almost £17!

I had a great flight from Malaysia to London as I had the entire row to myself...thank you Malaysian airlines! It made it really easy to get on London time and super easy to sleep.

Landing in London it was a long commute from one airport to the other and an overnight in Luton certainly reminded me I wasn't in warm Asia anymore - I looked ridiculous shivering at the table when having dinner wearing a scarf...I almost contemplated a beanie but thought that might have been too much.

The next morning it was off to Portugal to chase the sun again.

Portugal is fantastic. I flew into Lisbon and caught the bus into the downtown area and stayed at the highly recommended 'travellers hostel' which is an amazing hostel and well worth the couple of extra euro it costs to stay there. It's in the most amazing location right in the middle of Lisbon, a great jumping off point for anywhere.
I had the first day there by myself before I was meeting up with Vanessa.


The hostel was a great meeting place - was full of Aussies it seemed. No getting away from those from the motherland.

Lisbon is quite hilly so there are many beautiful lookout spots that you can walk up to in town. Here is a sneak peek of Lisbon:


Our trip was highlighted by all the good food we ate, we almost never ate anything bad...and the suggestions from the hostel were always very good.
We had one cafe that I went to 3 different times because it was so good. Anywhere that has chorizo on the menu is going to be a hit with me!

Another must eat of the trip was the pastries in Belem - a suburb outside of Lisbon. We got six small Portuguese tarts (pastese de belem) to share...and after 3 I was considering getting back on the tram to get more. They were so delicious. Here is Vanessa digging into one as we tried and failed to get Olympic coverage of the Waterpolo....


I even dreamt I went out at 5am and got more! As one of the workers at the hostel said...1€ of heaven!!!

We also visited Sintra which was a 40min train ride from the centre of Lisbon. We had a night there surrounded by the hills in an eco-hostel where you could enjoy the countryside.
My good travel luck continued when I sprained my ankle about 3 steps from the hostel door. Haha - these kinds of things only happen to me!

Sintra is known for its imperial palace where the royal family used to holiday. The palace is very colourful and vibrant...even if we did get lost in the surrounding property.

The highlight of sintra was a garden and property not far from our hostel. It really was like a chapter out of alice in wonderland. It had waterfalls, grottos, strange plantations and underground wells. Ironically ness was saying the whole time it was like Alice in wonderland and when we were leaving the theatre production was playing in the gardens...and ofcourse it was playing...Alice in wonderland.


Overall Portugal was fantastic - and definitely worth a stop on a trip to Europe. Any place where wine is cheaper than water is going to be ok by me!

Here is a photo to finish off of Vaness and I doing what we do best:


Like all travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen - Benjamin Disraeli

Posted by Rosie Anderson 14:21 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Goodbye Vietnam - you've been good to me!

So here I am in Malaysia after flying out of Hanoi this morning (Monday 30th of July).

Volunteering was such a fantastic experience and I am sad to leave all my fantastic new friends behind. I think 2 weeks is a little too quick though, I wish I had done a month of volunteering, I think it would be the perfect length.

I said goodbye to the kids on Thursday with my last day at the centre before going to Ha Long Bay on Friday.
We had a fantastic last day, enjoying the time with all of the children and some of the teachers that we got to know. We even were witness to a comical TV commercial in Tea Leaf & Coffee Bean at lunch time with a large american man who worked for them calling himself the master of tea, and shock horror - his favourite blend was the Vietnam blend, how very convenient.

On the last day I took photos of some of the amazing kids we looked after. They were insistent that we come back the next day, and luckily for them they still have another 6 weeks of the gorgeous Clementine so they won't be too sad about our departures.
We had a little presentation at the end of the day from the principal and founder saying how thrilled she was about our participation. We also got a traditional Vietnamese hat. Here is me pictured in it, as I knew it wouldn't make the journey for 6 months travelling so a photo would be the best bet.

The children sang a song to us on our departure and it was quite moving. Some of them are the most darling things...no wonder people get addicted to volunteering. Between the fantastic people you meet, the great experiences you have an the integration you get in another society it really is an enriching experience.

Here is a photo of some of the children at the centre:


The fellow volunteers were all such good fun. We were so lucky to all get along - it really felt like a little family while I was there. I will miss them all terribly, but they know that there is an open door policy for them to visit me whenever they like (hear that guys, free food on me).

We had a house half full of french speakers so my HORRIFIC french got a small workout, and I may have even got my ear in a little. I was surprised how much of it stayed in my head from the last time I spoke french.

We had nightly card games, trips to the local shopping centre (Big C, which was an experience in itself), we shared power cuts and rooftop drinks. Not only was it a great time, they were all so interesting, they made my travelling looks insignificant. It is so great to share such a fantastic experience with people.

My last 3 days in Vietnam were spent in Ha Long Bay, which was a fantastic place. For $100 we had a 3 day tour - a night on a boat in ha long bay and a night on cat ba island. Every time I looked around I couldn't believe how cheap it was for such a beautiful trip in an amazing location.


Saturday night I have never seen rain like we had ever before. Our hotel was 3 doors from the bar we were at and just running home meant Clem and I were drenched to the bone!

I think the highlight was cycling around one of the islands in ha long bay, it was so beautiful and fun to be riding around with our friends.


I would recommend that trip to anyone. Ha long bay was stunning and I don't think any of my pictures will ever do it justice in comparison to seeing it in real life.

Sunday night was my last night at peace house with all the other volunteers (minus the boys who were still in sapa). It was a strange feeling packing my room - last night of rice and chopsticks. Last night of stagnant water showers and my cute little bunk bed. It's funny that everything that was my pet peeve like the showers even become endearing after a while.

Well that is my Vietnam summary.

Any one that has ever thought about volunteering - do it...it was such a fantastic experience, I have made life long friends, memories of great food and great places and plenty of memories for when I am old and grey!

“He who is outside his door already has the hardest part of his journey behind him.” — Dutch proverb

Posted by Rosie Anderson 11:52 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Channelling Mother Teresa? Volunteering in Vietnam!

Its taken me a while to get on the computer to send this...almost a week late

So here I am - lunch break on my on Tuesday of my second week of volunteering. I'm in once piece with some great stories under my belt, good new friends and some adventures to boot!

I am working at Phuc Tue Day Centre which is a place for children with moderate to severe disabilities, mostly autism but some down syndrome also.
The children range from 4 to 19 with varying needs and abilities. They are broken up into 4 classes. It can be very busy with up to 20 children in the rooms.

I am here with two other girls from my volunteers dorm which makes it all the more enjoyable.
Here they both are enjoying my company thoroughly each lunchtime:


We have a long commute each morning and night as we live quite far outside of Hanoi city. It's a taxi at 730am to the large mall about 6km from our place. From there we get on a bus to bring us very close to the centre. It's usually about a 1hr commute in the morning and can be up to 1hr30 on the way home dependant on the bus situation.

The city buses run pretty regularly, but the infamous 57 bus that a lot of us have to catch can be a bit of an interesting character. I think at this stage the longest we have waited at the bus stop is 30mins (we have waited for so long over time that we now have a song to sing while waiting for the 57 bus...and no it's not very inspired, but it passes the time). We are able to beg to get dropped off not at a bus stop but closer to our house on the way home which is good. I think this may be a favour that only western girls get - nonetheless, it's good.

The strangest thing about the bus is that its rude to talk in it...in a country where it's not considered rude to throw rubbish on the street, spit anywhere you want to and chew with your mouth open! It's rather comical.

The centre is interesting. Some of the kids are absolutely adorable...others, not so much.

Some of the interesting things that have happened to me here:

  • Kicked in the leg
  • Pinched in the arm
  • Spit thrown on me
  • Fan thrown at my back
  • Scratched on the hand
  • Urinated on my leg while reading a book
  • Punched in the stomach

Everyday we go home with another story. Each of the girls have their own adventures. Poor Clementine got her shoes taken one day and had to commute home in what can only be said are horrendously ugly high heels.

I have had to sing jingle bells into a teachers phone as the kids like it so much when I sing that she wants to play it when I am gone. It was super embarrassing...look out for it soon on iTunes in Vietnam.

While there is always a violent story here and there, there are also adorable moments with the kids. Today I was teaching a child to write and each time he got it right he celebrated with giving me a kiss on the cheek. Moments like that are totally priceless.

Most days we either play, sing or draw with the kids. Some of them like learning English so we do that with them.

All of the other volunteers are great. We are a mixed bunch from France, Brazil, Switzerland, Ireland, Australia, Germany, China and Hong Kong. We often play cards together at night and there is always plenty of laughter. The French are the most represented at our dorm, with only one or two from the other countries I spoke about.
It's really enjoyable all hanging out.

This weekend was the first for all of us that arrived last week so we went to the movies on friday night to see spiderman, on saturday we had a city tour of Hanoi which was interesting...I must say seeing Ho Chi Minh's embalmed body was a bit freaky though. We had a great lunch and most of us stayed in the city for the night to enjoy some much needed air conditioning. Saturday night we all went out for dinner which was nice, Steve the other Aussie volunteer shouted us all dinner which was super lovely.

Here is our view at drinks on Saturday night:


On Sunday we went to the perfume pagoda about 2 hours by bus and then an hr by row boat to the base of the mountain it was on. It was about 38c so the 7 of us that went were sweating buckets...it was a good day though, and as you can see by the photo below it was beautiful. Admittedly the hour boat and 2 hour bus on the way home was a little tedious! Plenty of laughs were had and some great photos taken.

Here is a photo of my dorm room, we are lucky as the house isn't super full at the moment so there is only me and two others in my room.


Vietnam is proving to be a super interesting place, my Vietnamese is getting a little better - well from a base of nothing it is not very hard to improve! I am now at least ok with saying my age, hello, goodbye, please, thankyou, water, eat...the very basics.

This weekend sees us take a trip to Ha Long Bay and the end of my volunteering. On Monday I am off to start moving towards Europe. Cannot believe how quickly it's all going.
Ideally I wish I had at least another week volunteering as I will be sad to leave my new little family...but there is no rest for the wicked...until next time! Xx

“Not all those who wander are lost.” — J. R. R. Tolkien

Posted by Rosie Anderson 05:08 Comments (0)

Good morning Vietnam...

Ho Chi Minh, Hue and Hanoi...anywhere else with an H?

overcast 38 °C

So here I am writing from the only air conditioned room at the volunteers dorm.
It's a far cry away from the creature comforts of home or any hotel or hostel I have stayed at. I would go as far as saying its the most basic place I have ever seen (including the bunk rooms at anglesea slsc).

Sleeping means spooning a fan in your bunk bed to stay cool, as there are 4 in the room and it gets to a low outside of 30C.

Well I will get back to the volunteering shortly...

I have made my way from south to north over the last week from Ho Chi Minh to Hue to Hanoi.

In Ho Chi Minh I toured the cu chi tunnels, they were fascinating and I cannot believe that they were so small with intricate routes and even air holes disguised in ant hills. It was laid out well and enabled lots of groups to go through without feeling overwhelmed.
I returned that afternoon beyond excited for my first motorbike experience. There I was, in my room, pumping myself up to go for this amazing ride through such a busy city (singing the eye of the tiger in my head) when I got a phonecall...no bike riding tour tonight! It was cancelled. As much as I liked my room in HCMC its windowless nature had meant I didn't realize it was moonsoonaly raining outside...I was devastated (eye of the tiger started to fade into a sad melody).

The next day it was on the road to Hue from Ho Chi Minh.

I arrived in Hue feeling pretty good about my trip and my ability to stay ontop of a scam, but this was soon about to change.
I had read all about these great shuttle buses in the airport on my way to Hue, how they drop you at your hotel, and they are only $2.50 and are fantastic. So disembarking on the plane I knew what needed to be done! Hello shuttle bus. I merrily payed my money, showed the location of my hotel and CONFIRMED that I would be dropped at my hotel...well to my disbelief here i was, standing with my backpack and bag in the middle of a 5 way interesction being greeted by many taxis, motorbikes and cyclos. I wasn't having any of it...you've taken my money but you'll never take my freedooooommmmmmmmm. So there I was, 35C carrying a 18kg backpack through the street of Hue. I eventually got to my hotel after some good advice from a cameras store worker, and by the look on the staffs faces I must have been about to burst into flames. I can only imagine my face was as red as having 2 glasses of wine after being sunburnt.


So I was in my room and opened my curtains to the most amazing view...it was well worth it!


The next day I decided to walk to the citadel. It was the old imperial city that is being rebuilt after being ravaged by war and natural disasters. It's a beautifully big walled city with some amazing buildings and collections. It was a couple of kms walk but was beautiful, crossing the perfume river a couple of times to go over and come back.

After a long day of walking I did what was only right and ate plenty of vietnamese food and had a couple of beers before retiring to bed.
I had booked a motorbike tour of the surrounding area the next day and was keen to be up and ready for my 8am pickup.

There I was, ready to go on the motorbike...I was even so prepared to put my hair in a low braid so it could be helmet ready!!!
Off I went with my guide to visit the surrounding tombs and pagodas.
Khai Dinh tomb was by far my favourite. It was in the mountains and had the most amazing ornate mosaics on it. Super beautiful.
It's funny though because as much as I was enjoying my tour (especially the motorbike only paths down winding dirt alleyways) it seemed people were enjoying me touring far more. I sat for at least 6 different groups of photos, I cannot imagine what these people say when they get back to their homes and show pictures of this white brunette to all their friends. I wonder if the give me a name when they are showing the photos? One time I had to sit while doing up my shoelaces for 5 different members of a Japanese family! Hahaha.


The motorbike was awesome, the bike itself was really spacious and nice, and I always felt safe with my driver. After a day of pagodas and tombs we shared some fantastic food together and then it was back to the hotel.

Hue was lovely and had a relaxed feeling after the manic natural of HCMC. I had wished to get down to Hoi An but i didn't have enough time, I will need to save it for the next trip.

Next it was onto Hanoi - I arrived yesterday.
I am working with an organization called VPV. I am in a office space that takes up 3 floors that is made up of the offices, dorms, kitchen and bathrooms. The place is a little under the weather. Haha. There are quite a lot of people here (I think about 15 in total) with two other girls doing my program. There are people from all over the world. In my room there is a girl from sweden, another from hong kong and another from Ireland. Every time I travel I am reminded of how limited my knowledge of other languages is with almost everyone here speaking at least 2 languages.

The program I am on is for helping take care of children with disabilities. One of the girls here has just finished a month placement there and said it was challenging but enjoyable....

That is about all from here, Internet is patchy so expect the next update in a while.

All journeys have a secret destination of which the traveler is unaware - Martin Buber

Posted by Rosie Anderson 06:03 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

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