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Santa Monica & Los Angeles

(Anna)

LA is a joke of a city.  Approaching it I expected to see a nice view coming in from the hills, however we were greeted by smog and traffic.  The drivers are erratic and aggressive, the traffic jams are enormous and there are virtually no useful road signs telling you where to go.  With the help of Google Maps, we managed to navigate ourselves to the Hollywood sign view point and when we finally arrived, the car park had just 8 spaces, as well as some minibuses parked so that people couldn't get in or out of the place so it took a while before we could actually get out and see it. 

Grand Canyon

(Anna)

Keen to get away from the tack and crowds of Las Vegas, I was pleased to be headed to the Grand Canyon which I have always wanted to see. On the way, we visited Hoover Dam where we had an interesting tour and learnt such fascinating facts as it being over 720ft tall and, at its base, around 660ft thick. It is a massive structure and I really enjoyed the tour.

Las Vegas

The saying goes that "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", but obviously that would make for a pretty crap blog entry, plus we haven't done anything outrageous, so on this occasion I am prepared to share!

Death Valley

On Saturday, we left Lone Pine and headed towards Death Valley. We didn't really know what to expect, other than a valley where little grows/survives, and so it was quite exciting.

Wow, the scenery was stunning, like nothing I've seen before ever.  Was really bleak and barren and no sign of intelligent life except a few snakes and lizards and insects.  The geology was amazing, rock strata and tilted rocks, outcrops, alluvial fans and stuff, was so interesting.

Yosemite

We've had a really cool 2 days in Yosemite (well,driving into Yosemite from our motel which was quite a way out). However Yosemite has got the most spectacular scenery I've probably ever seen - mountains, lakes,valleys, outcrops, rivers which I liked to paddle in, meadows, forests... and all this with endless sun and cloudless skies.  Can't be bad. 

San Francisco

The holiday didn't get off to the most perfect of starts when, on arrival, we were told that our flight to Toronto that was supposed to leave at 3pm was going to be delayed until 9pm. As someone who despises sitting around in airport terminals waiting for gates to open and boarding to begin, the prospect of waiting an additional six hours did not fill me with joy. The annoyance was furthered by the fact that this delay - caused by either "maintenance" or "weather problems yesterday" depending on which Air Canada rep. was speaking - meant that we would miss our connecting flight to San Fran, along with our hotel for the evening and the pick up time for the car we were to hire.

Twilight

The final update, then, as I spend my last full day in Thailand. We have come back to Koh Samui this morning, and checked back in to the Tawee Guest house we were first in when I arrived. It feels like The Ritz compared to the last few places we've been - the last, in Koh Pha Ngan, was even more... shall we say, 'rustic', than the previous ones! Up on the side of a hill that required 57 stairs to get to (even more fun with a backpack and rucksack weighing you down!), the view had potential to be good. However, unlike Adam, who had a nice clear view of the sea, I had two great trees in front of my shack meaning I could see sod all. Shower barely worked, the fluorescent light in the main room flickered and strobed like some kind of rave disco but never actually lighted up completely, and on more than one occasion there was a lizard in the room. Still - cheap!

Under the Sea...

Quite a bit to fill you in on since the last proper update, then. We caught the high-speed ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Tao last week, and firstly made our way to our first point of accommodation - a secluded set of bungalows owned and run by a woman called, genuinely, Ping Pong. To describe the place as "out in the sticks" would perhaps be an understatement - it took a 30 minute bumpy, off-road taxi ride in the back of a pick-up truck to get there! It was, however, on the coast, and the isolated nature of it proved quite a contrast from the comparative hustle and bustle of Samui.

Thailand Update (4)

Just a quick update this time. All is going supremely well and I continue to have a great time. We're still on Koh Tao, staying here 'til probably Thursday or Friday.

Anyhow, we have booked to go diving tomorrow, so I will post a fuller blog with details of that and all the other updates probably tomorrow afternoon or Thursday.

Aaron x

He marched them up to the top of the hill...

Well, I have managed to sort out my bank woes so I have money to spend now, hoorah. Thanks to Adam for loaning me some cash in the meantime. I'm sure I will be able to rant at anyone interested about the whole situation when I return, plus I have already mentally composed my letter of complaint, so I will leave that subject there for now...

Today has been a really cool day.

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