Travel Thursdays: Black Sand Volcano

So in 2005 I was in Central America for 6 months.  The photo I have today takes me to Leon, Nicaragua where, like any developing nation, OH&S tends to be a little relaxed. This of course leaves the door open for enterprising travel companies to create interesting experiences. (Any by interesting I mean most probably illegal or highly regulated in other countries.)

We stayed at a relatively new hostel called Bigfoot, run by a crazy Australian called Darren. In addition to building the hostel, Dazza was setting up an adventure tour company.

This company specialised in trips to a black sand volcano called Cerro Negro. The day trip sounded pretty cool – a trek up a black sand volcano followed by a swim in a beautiful volcano lake. There was one particular part of the day trip that caught our attention, and that was the rather baffling concept of “mattress surfing”.

Turns out we were pretty much like guinea pigs…mattress surfing guinea pigs.

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Travel Thursdays: zorbing

Once upon a time there was a girl who had a sense of adventure. She didn’t cry when climbing down cliffs, but rather embraced life and new experiences.

This girl convinced her boyfriend that it would be brilliant fun to strap themselves into a giant plastic ball and throw themselves down a steep hill. The boyfriend was a little sceptical, but the girl was determined. Continue reading

Airports…sigh

There are a lot of things I hate about airports…I’m sure everyone has at least one thing that gets on their goat.

Manila airport is confusing…to say the least. Firstly, you are not allowed inside the airport unless you are actually flying, which is crappy because it’s the kind of place where you really need some distraction. You have to show your ticket and get your bags screened before they even let you in the door.

Flying home with Qantas is an interesting experience. Firstly, you line up and get your ticket checked and bag weighed. There are two queues, which inevitably move at alternating speeds. Just like the supermarket, I can always be assured that no matter whic queue I join, that will be the slow queue.

After you get your bag weighed, you line up again for a bomb screening. Each bag in your possession is swabbed for bomb residue and then wheeled away to wait in front of the check in counters.

So you line up again.

Finally you make it to the check in desk, collecting your cleared bag along the way.

(As an aside, it seriously only takes me 3 minutes to check my bag and collect my ticket, even if I have a seat change query. What are people doing at the counter for 15 minutes!! Seriously!!)

All this pointless queuing completed, you battle you way through exit taxes, immigration and an additional bag screening (to pick up the contaband items you acquired while waiting in the many airline queues).

It is at this point that Manila Airport comes into its own with the Manila Club.

For the princely sum of 650 pesos (15 AUD) you get access to a quiet lounge area with unlimited food and drink – beer and wine included – away from the 60’s faux-wood laminated hell of the rest of the airport. Bliss.

Why don’t more airports do this?

They also offer massage services – perfect for wasting time – and they let you know when your flight is boarding so you don’t have to spend too much time in the dingy waiting area.

So, over to you…what do and don’t you like about airports?

Rice Terraces and a terrifying ride

So after the excitement of Sagada we headed to Banaue and Batad to check out the famous rice terraces and finish off our North Luzon adventure.

The road from Sagada to Banaue was mostly paved (a lovely change from the last few days) but it was still a hellish ride. The highway is BARELY two way and is carved into the side of the mountains, so one side drops perilously into a 100 metre sheer cliff face. Added to this are long sections where the road has fallen away due to landslides and is being rebuilt. I swear, there was more than one occassion where I saw the state of the road up ahead and shut my eyes hoping and praying that we would make it across the section in one piece.

Just a small snapshot of the highway...

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Travel Thursdays: Priests in Mexico City

I’ve got lots of spare time at the moment…being a stay-at-home wife with no kids, pets or full-time work will do that to you…so I have lots of projects on the go.

One of them is going through all my old travel photos and organising them. So I thought I’d start a new series of posts (imaginitively titled Travel Thursdays)  showing some of my favourite travel photos and explaining why I like them.

First up…the “Yo Motherfucker Priests”.

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Coffins and caves

Heading north from the mummies at Kabayan our next point of call on our North Luzon adventure was the sleepy rural town of Sagada.

Sagada is known for its hanging coffins and caves and being that I am oddly obsessed with death and how it is treated by cultures, the excitement of seeing coffins hanging from cliff faces was more than I could stand. It’s also the place where I did my first actual hiking of the trip…and I gleefully swallow my words.

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