Goodness me, how time flies when you are having fun! When we last blogged we were in Cambodia and since then, we have been through Thailand and Australia and are now in New Zealand! When we left you, we were heading to Siem Reap in Cambodia, home of the famous Angkor Wat temple. Before we could visit any temples though, there was Nat's 30th birthday to be enjoyed, and enjoy it we did. Two nights at Raffles Hotel, enjoying the amazing pool, having wonderful massages and enjoying the champagne and birthday cake, which were wonderful surprises provided by Nick and Claire (Thank you again!!). Sadly however, the luxury could not last forever and once we had come back to earth with a thud at our hostel, we dutifully purchased our three day temple-bashing ticket and set about the 144 sq km site in that ever-faithful means of transport, the tuk-tuk! Morning one saw us up with the larks to reach Angkor Wat in time to see the sun rise from behind her. The view was simply majestic, despite the hordes of tourists with the same idea as us, and well worth realising at only 9am that we had already been up for 5 yawn-filled hours! However, whilst the temple is clearly a world icon, it left us a little bit cold when we explored inside. Next to some of its neighbours, it paled into insignificance when compared to giant faces carved in stone or giant tree roots that were staking their labyrinthine claim on already tumbling ruins. We hope the photos we have put on the blog with this entry show just how stunning some of these temples were, stunning enough to make us endure constant sweating, thirst and exhaustion…..all before 8am…..3 days in a row! From Siem Reap, it was off to Bangkok, our final Asian hub before heading to Australia. Whilst we did not have too much planned for during our stay, even our small intentions took a nose dive when Nick picked up a really nasty bacterial infection and could not lift his head off the pillow, let alone consider poking dollar bills into the undies of lady boys! Nevertheless, we did manage to visit a superb tailor in the city so Nat could have her wedding dress made and, whilst we were there, it would have been rude of Nick not to indulge in having a suit made to measure. Three suits, a waistcoat and ten shirts later (all shipped home to the UK - thanks Vic!!) we left Bangkok happy, with Nat's dress winging its way to New Zealand to greet her on her arrival! A stop in Sydney was on the cards though, as this was where Nat's Mum joined the party! She flew in on 16th March and the three musketeers spent the weekend seeing Sydney Opera House, the Harbour bridge, the Botanic Gardens and Manly Beach, as well as enjoying dinner in Darling Harbour and Nick getting a much-needed haircut - his first since leaving home where the barber has been able to understand what he wants! Understanding is all very well however, until it comes to asking the price! After three months in Asia, our jaws nearly hit the floor when Sydney turned out to be even more expensive than London! To now be spending £2.20 on a small bottle of water instead of 15p was something of a shock to the system! On 19th, it was off to Auckland, where we hired a car and have been touring the north island ever since! We started by heading to the far north of the island to drop Nat's Mum off with her friends Greta and Syd, who live in Kaikohe, then we parked ourselves in Paihia in the Bay of Islands for a few days to get to know the area before getting married there on 3rd April! We did several beautiful scenic walks, taking in waterfalls and including a boat trip to a beautiful little sailing town called Russell (where we happened to chance upon a wedding and nab the photographer to do us a deal for our own wedding!) Since then we have also taken in Raglan, the surf capital of New Zealand and Waitomo Gloworm caves, which were spectacular. As we write now, we are sitting in our forest lodge in Tongariro National Park near Lake Taupo, contemplating the 8 hour mountain hike, the Tongariro Crossing, that we intend to do tomorrow! No doubt it will push us far further than we will physically enjoy but the scenery will be worth every moment of agony. Of course, the scenery in New Zealand has been breath-taking everywhere we have been, to the point that we almost cannot believe it is real sometimes. It is one of those places on earth that makes you feel so alive just because you are part of it. The air is cool and fresh, the sun is bright, there is a stunning view around every corner and even the rain smells good! With less than a week to go before the wedding, life is good, and we will, of course, be boring you all senseless with wedding pictures next week…..providing we survive our epic mountain trek tomorrow that is…..???
ps. since we wrote this entry, we have had two weeks' worth of internet hassles so have only just been able to upload the blog! In that time, we have survivied the Tongariro crossing and become Mr and Mrs Watts! Despite the pouring rain, the wedding day was perfect and we will add photos of it when we get a chance. We also promise to be on it with the blog more regularly, as we were pre-hassles!! xx