Kinabatangan, MalaysiaKinabatangan, Malaysia

Kinabatangan – Where are the elephants?

We heard that there are pygmy elephants around Kinabatangan – in preparation for our Africa adventure later this year we decided to start small with elephants and go there to see this very rare (1000 – 1500 animals left) and endangered species. But will come back to the topic rare a little later…

To go to the jungle, we had to take a bus several hours through palm oil plantations. Hardly any forest left, what a shame… we could really see what “loss of habitat” means for the monkeys, elephants and other animals…

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Mabul, MalaysiaMabul, Malaysia

Diving off Mabul and Sipadan

Well, just briefly a summary of the city-life before we went to the Semporna archipelago in Borneo… Singapore was about working (Iris), meeting Michelle *smiley smiling* , having some nice food, buying the usual Singapore souvenir (a dress for Iris) and special this time: Getting some proper cough stopping medicine (also for Iris)… KL was again about working (actually for both of us), recovering from the cold and opening an account at a jewelery supply wholesaler (both later tasks only for Iris) *smiley winking*

Then, finally, we took the plane to Tawau where two cool guys with extra stylish sunglasses took us through endless palm oil plantations towards Semporna, the gateway to divers paradise.

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Milford Trek, New ZealandMilford Trek, New Zealand

Dry feet on Milford Track – “the finest walk in the world"

Kiwis (for those who don’t know yet, that’s how you call the locals here in New Zealand) tend to have the highest, finest, biggest, deepest, fastest, wettest, longest, steepest, … whatsoever. So we were not surprised to read about the Milford Track being described as “the finest walk in the world”. After walking it, we have to admit, this might be true

Let’s start with the beginning of the story in July this year. The Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” where you have to book your mattress in the huts well in advance for the high season, as only 40 people (i.e. spaces in the huts, camping is not allowed) can walk the track each day and not only Kiwis want to walk it, but also lots of people from nearly everywhere. Especially for the Milford Track you need to make the booking more or less immediately when the booking for the season is opened, this year it was mid of July. Right, we have been at Galapagos Islands that time without internet access of course… So I asked HTM (= “high tech Mum” *smiley smiling*) to do the booking for us. And she really wanted to make sure that we get our hut passes, so she calculated the time difference and went with a glass of red wine (it was already late that day in Germany) to the computer. Unfortunately she was not the only one to do so, the server of the booking system was down / extremely slow due to the high demand and it took her much more than one hour (and more than one glass of wine) to complete the booking. Don’t ask who was sweating more – Mum when doing the booking or we when crossing the Mackinnon Pass

We left most of our things and our car in Te Anau (just had our sleping bags, some light weight, high nutrition food, a cooking set and a second set of cloths) and started the adventure…

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Oamaru, New ZealandOamaru, New Zealand

Penguins and “moving rocks” (NZ Eastcoast and Catlins)

Right, we are in the southern hemisphere and after spotting just only one penguin on the Galapagos islands, we went to Oamaru on the east coast of New Zealands south island to search for the smallest of all penguins (Blue Penguin) and an endangered species, the Yellow Eyed Penguins.

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The land of sheep, New ZealandThe land of sheep, New Zealand

New Zealand – the land of sheep (Christchurch to Mount Cook)

We started our Kiwi adventure in Christchurch, a city which is much nicer than we expected it to be!

We got our car (not from Hertz this time!) for the next month (wow!) – the journey begins…

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Melbourne, AustraliaMelbourne, Australia


After getting into the metropolitan area of Melbourne (wow, there are more streets and much more traffic than anywhere else we have been the last 3 weeks…*smiley winking*, we had some more fun with our friends from Hertz. Hertz Lady from Adelaide assured us: “You can drop off your car at any time in the evening or morning the next day before 9am”. So we went there at 8 pm, but Hertz was closed, the car park was closed with a huge metal door and there was no letter box to drop off the key. Never experienced this before!! Of course, there was no street parking for longer than 30 minutes. ALL other companies in the same street (Budget, Europcar, etc) had an after hour drop off point… We were not amused at all – just wanted to get rid of the car, as a) parking until after 7am in the morning is not available or only at high costs. All Hertz service phones had no office hours any more, so we got even less amused and phoned their 24-hour street emergency phone. They put us through to the Hertz airport office (still open) and Thorsten got to speak with the manager there who desperately needs some training in Customer Relations. End of story, we parked the car somewhere, got up early the next day to give the car back and definitely will not book Hertz again!!

After those initial problems we spend a cool evening with Harry and Cindy at a good pizza place and enjoyed our first big city evening for quite some time

Next morning, we went to the old Queen Victoria Market, where they sell lot’s of yummy stuff, even Weißwürste!

We saw some cool city life…

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Low Island, Great Barrier Reef, AustraliaLow Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Port Douglas: An old rainforest and sea turtles!

On the first day together with Kirsten and Peter we took it easy. First todo was relaxing at the 4 mile beach and trying to get a coconut down from the tree. Well, we haven’t been successful…

After that, we went to the Mossman Gorge, where we got a first impression what the Daintree National Park is like and Thorsten lost his sunglases in the river…

On the way back we found several mango trees with ready to eat mangos just lying next to them. Of course, the car stopped (I was driving) and all (except Thorsten who does not like them) were collecting like crazy. Yummy!! Thorsten got something else instead…

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Great Barrier Reef, AustraliaGreat Barrier Reef, Australia

Carins: Bamboo, Diving and a Reef Shark

There are many things to do in Cairns, so we didn’t get bored at all! First we got an extremely blue rental car *blush* – the first time to rent a car on our trip. Throwing the backpacks in the trunk was somehow strange (I felt as being a “Spießer”*smiley winking*. Nevertheless, it was very comfortable after the first tensional 5 minutes (didn’t drive for 3,5 months and especially not on the wrong side of the road…*smiley winking*.

The first day in Cairns was a bit wet (the shower did not provide as much water as the rain outside) – really no chance for bush fires at all…

We did a nice trip to the botanical garden of Cairns, very interesting for people with a “green thumb” as Germans would say. Even for me (no “green thumb”*smiley winking* it was interesting, there are so many different kind of palm tress (even after one month on different islands I didn’t know that there is such a variety) and at least 10 different types of bamboo, e.g. black giant bamboo, Buddha bamboo (not as slim as the other ones)…

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Port Vila, VanuatuPort Vila, Vanuatu

Vanuatu – or “Wer eine Reise macht kann was erleben…” continued

Well, after our arrival we had a look around in the city but – honestly – the city is nothing special.

It was Saturday and suddenly around lunch time, most of the shops closed. Well, siesta, we thought. But: No, not siesta, they would reopen on Monday.

Thorsten became a bit hectic and searched around, because he needed “something” for my birthday the next day, e.g. a bottle of sparkling wine for 12 o’clock. We went in each and every still open shop and finally found a huge supermarket, open 7 days a week. Perfect, we thought.

But there were big signs at the alcohol corner: “Closed from Saturday 12 o’clock till Monday 7.30am.” WHAT???

Ok, in Germany you can buy alcohol everywhere at any time and you can drink your beer on the street. We know it’s different in New York or Boston: The consumption of alcohol on the street is forbidden, therefore on the Christmas Market (the call it Holiday Market) “Kinderpunsch” (Hot wine with tea instead of wine) is served. No, I am not kidding! And we learned, that in Australia and New Zealand alcohol has to be sold in special bottle shops – fair enough, however you get a wine or a beer there any time. Restaurants need a licence to sell alcohol, if they don’t have one, there is a sign BYO, yes, bring your own (bottle of wine). Finally, the UK with it’s last round is famous, of course. And in Morocco, especially in rural areas you might end up in villages without any shop or restaurant selling wine or beer (not even Äppler, gell Pete), due to it’s nature as a Muslim country.

However, we did not expect something like this in Vanuatu… Everyone seems to go to bed really early anyway and the city is dead at 10.30pm – bars are not really an option either *shocked*

Fazit: No “Reinfeiern” for my birthday this year! And next time we will rather explore the Cook Islands and some more islands in French Polynesia!

Wanna hear some more stories about Vanuatu? Be prepared for a looooooong evening session when we’re back in Germany