The setup was great. Good parking, easy access to the race pack collection zone and everyone was in high spirits.
Once we had checked in, there was a zumba warm up. Now I’ve never done zumba before and bet I look like an absolute weapon trying to dance, but everyone got involved and the warm up was well received seeing as there was a cold wind biting across the racecourse.
Before long we were warmed up and excited to start. We made our way to the race start and after a short wait the race was underway.
My competitive edge took over after the first few obstacle when I realised me and Emma were first! We tackled all of the inflatable obstacles, getting covered in paint and taking photo’s along the way. As our race was underway, the second wave were warming up to the epic dance tunes that were blasting.
After throwing ourselves down inflatable slides, crawling under netting, racing on spacehoppers and climbing various obstacles we were falling through the finish line covered in paint and full of excitement.
The compere on stage shouted out that we were the first finishes and 500 people turned to see us with our medal and gave us a huge cheer!
We were called up on stage and made to wear winners tutu’s haha. It was amazing.
All of the finishers eventually gathered near the stage and we had the color festival, where all finishers are given 2 paint packets each. As the music kicks in we all throw our paint in the air.
Probably the last time i’ll ever finish first in the race, but I couldn’t have wished to do it with anyone other than Emma. We had an amazing day, and this is just another speck on our amazing life together.
We awoke on day 10 with the realisation that the previous day did actually happen and this whole thing was actually real. We were in fact waking up in a huge bed in a timber seafront bure with the sound of the sea lapping the coast of Likuliku lagoon.
After tea we put on our gym clothes and decided to try out the on site gym. Again this was a timber cabin with all the gym equipment you needed. The front doors opened to allow you to run on the treadmill with the full Fijian breeze being allowed to swirl through the gym. We worked up a sweat and then got showered before heading to breakfast.
Breakfast was gorgeous. We had a full sit down menu but also access to a giant fresh fruit and cereal buffet. Emma ordered the eggs benedict and I obviously went for the mud crab omelette.
After leaving the restaurant we headed down to the beach activities centre and hired out some snorkel equipment which was complimentary on our stay. The sea here is perfectly crystal clear with loads of tropical fish swimming about your ankles and sea snakes, crabs and stingrays. We took off from our beachfront bure and had a good few hours snorkelling. The main types of fish around here are zebra coloured and are very inquisitive and not afraid. It’s almost as if they are playful and want to be around you. We took some underwater photo’s and tried to catch shots of the sea life as best we could.
Again lunch was a full sit down meal. I’m sure they feed you up here in order to relax you and make you as chilled as possible. All the food is AMAZING too so you can’t turn any of it down. It’s just a matter of fill your boots and enjoy.
We were soon heading back down to the beach after a couple of glasses of wine and Fiji Gold and took to some swimming and snorkelling off the end of the jetty. With a stunning view of castaway island, it truly is the most intense picturesque backdrop to carry out some mid afternoon snorkelling.
After a fun filled, relaxing day on the island we settled down for dinner and drinks before retiring back to our bure with a bottle of wine to watch the last of the sun set on the horizon whilst listening to the sea ripples and ‘my likuliku’ on CD.
It was day 9 and today was the day we flew to paradise. Today was the day we went to Fiji. Now I don’t know about the rest of you but for the average brit, Fiji is something that comes to you in a dream before the demons chase you out of dream land and back to reality. It’s a land of pure beauty that is out of price range, out of sight and as far as you’re concerned it may not even exist. For instance…. Do you know anyone who’s ever been to Bora Bora? No? Me neither. I’ve never met anyone who’s been to Fiji either!
No sooner had we gone to bed on day 8, it was suddenly day 9. It was 3am, very rainy and we were slightly groggy… (wine + minimal sleep = groggy) however (wine + minimal sleep divided by Wanderlust to the power of Fiji = flippin excited).
We wheeled our cases downstairs and stood in the lobby of the beautiful Sydney Shangri La and before long we were in the taxi and gazing out the rear window waving goodbye to Sydney.
The drive to the airport was fairly quick and painless. I was growing a slight love for early morning flights by this time. The airport was quiet, check in was quiet, shops were quiet. No rushing or bumping into fellow travellers. It was just a steady stroll to our gate.
On the way to the gate the inevitable happened. Name one person in the existence of ever who has woke up at silly o clock and then turned down a McDonalds breakfast……. EXACTLY, and we weren’t about to re write the history books. Today was the day McDonalds breakfast happened. It was the only thing that would suffice at this hour, with this excitement….it was right!
We stuffed our faces and grabbed a seat at our gate awaiting the boarding call. We could see out of the airport window a large Fiji Airways plane. This was real… we were going to Fiji.
We boarded the plane and excitement set in. With Fiji being just a 4 hour flight away we’d be there in no time. The flight staff were very friendly, handing us blankets and serving breakfast before long. I loved their laid back attitude and uniform. It gave a real feel for tradition and culture.
As we neared Fiji Emma went to the loo on the plane. When she came back she whispered “I’ve just seen a man up there drinking Fiji beer…. Where can we get Fiji beer?”
Emma is a very reserved person. Shy to ask questions and happy to go along with whatever is less hassle and to an extent I am exactly the same, however we were on a plane to Fiji, I’d probably only ever see a plane to Fiji again in my dreams. I pressed the overhead alert and the staff came along. 2 minutes later we were sat there…Fiji beer in hand. You don’t ask, you don’t get.
The plane descended and appeared to land with all the flair, gentleness and beauty that you’d expect a plane to have when it lands on fluffy beachy paradise.
As we departed the plane we could hear traditional Fijian music and as we turned from the platform into check in we saw 2 Fijians in traditional dress playing guitar and singing to us as we walked by. Let that sink in. Transport yourself out of this blog right now and into Gatwick or Birmingham International airport and mentally walk yourself through check in. What do you see? There you go. Fiji compared to England.
As we passed security we were greeted by Kuoni Fijian representatives who gave us handmade necklaces and flowers and escorted us out into a little mini hangar. We may have landed in Fiji but in fact we would be staying at Likuliku Lagoon (a little island off Fiji) for 7 nights and we would be going there via HELICOPTER!!
We unloaded our bags and were picked up in a little luggage buggy and taken to reception because this island had no roads! On arrival at reception we were sang to and greeted by numerous staff who took our bags and told us lunch was just about to be served so we were free to go and eat.
I’ll probably bang on about this throughout the Fijian blog days, but the food was literally Michelin quality. We filed up on a 3 course lunch and then were driven to our bure which sat directly on the beach looking out to the overwater bures.
BEST PARTY EVER!
We had free cocktails and beers courtesy of the management and there was a huge barbecue set up cooking fresh fish, chicken, pork, beef and loads of accompaniments to go with it. There we singers playing guitar and were all invited bar side where a boat sailed up to the jetty and off got about 20 Fijians all in traditional dress. They split into a men’s group and women’s group and gave Fijian dance and song which had everyone clapping and smiling. It was truly a welcome to paradise we’ll never forget. They even got us up dancing and I remember dancing with Emma to Fijian song and dance that had no music and thinking, wow, this is truly an experience and a gift. Our faces hurt from smiling too much today.
The whole first day albeit only just under half a day was perfection. We ambled back to our bure full of fresh fish and Fijian cooked food, cocktails, beers and love for an island that will stick with us for eternity.
Day 8 of our amazing around the world adventure had arrived. Sydney was to be our shortest stay of the whole trip so it was important that today we tried to see as much as possible as we would be flying to Fiji the very next day.We awoke to stunning views out across the harbour and headed downstairs for what was becoming a routine gourmet breakfast. We stocked ourselves up on all the delicacies on offer and then headed back to the room.
We intended on getting into our running gear and hitting the streets for a 7 mile route run but wanderlust got the better of us and we knew that we had forever to run, but only today to see Sydney.
The scenery was stunning and our route took us straight down to the Opera house where we met a very tired and unsociable seal sat on the steps! With views casting out across the harbour bridge and the opera house we decided to break for a midday beer in the sun. We could seriously have sat here all day watching the tourists come and go and seeing the different sized boats sailing in and out of the harbour.
There was everything from Taxi boats to cruise liners and every now and then they’d pass Luna Park. We really wanted to Visit Luna Park but unfortunately it was shut. I think it may have been out of season, as mentioned in day 7’s blog, we were smack bang in the middle of Sydney’s Winter.
We headed out towards George Street and the heavens opened with a massive downpour. We found temporary refuge in a gift shop and decided to stock up on destination magnets. Our Fridge at home is littered with magnets from everywhere we go as a couple (provided we can get a magnet), so getting some Australian one was of upmost importance.
We couldn’t help but stop off at some of the stores that we don’t have back in England and so typically we both ended up spending a small fortune on fitness clothes and I bought an amazing Adidas cloud vest (see Fiji photos later in blog).
One restaurant was called PLATE and they were offering happy hour drinks which sold us!!
Emma ordered some chicken and I went straight in for the seafood basket. Oh man, let me tell you…..probably one of the greatest meals I’ve ever had. Crab, squid, mussels, you name it, it was in my meal. The pull of happy hour had infact found us a gorgeous restaurant with outside dining area and beautiful food.
Before long they light was starting to draw in so we taxi’d back to the hotel, showered and headed out for a few last drinks at the Glenmore.
Our stay was short and sweet here in Australia, but every second was amazing. We will definitely go back someday.
transfer to the airport! It was Sad leaving Singapore. It had been so friendly and clean and everything was perfect but excitement flowed through our veins as we knew that today we’d be touching down in Oz!!
Breakfast at Singapore airport was a tough test for me. I LOVE oriental food, and although it was only about 5am, they were serving chicken noodles and fried fish. I wanted it all but also wanted to stay awake on the plane haha!
Before long Emma was completely spark out. Jet lag had come in like a wrecking ball and she was feeling the struggle. She went to sleep as soon as we got on the plane and didn’t wake up until we were nearly at Sydney.
As the plane came into land, the Australian skyline was alight with colours, it was dark but beautiful and right now it was smack bang in central Winter! It was 4:15pm when we touched down and let me tell you…. The check in process in Australia is rigorous. I’m not complaining, I think it’s great that it’s so in depth, to the point where I got bomb checked cause I’d smuggled 2 bottles of water into the country that I’d got in Dubai. You’ll be pleased to know I was bomb free though.
We got through and we’re picked up by our driver – Brendan (one of the most Australian names ever).
Now let me tell you about me and Emma.
Emma is gullible
I am not.
Brendan proceeded to tell us how he owned various limo companies across Australia and had been called into action at the last second to pick us up because someone had rang in sick. He also said he was from London and had moved to Australia 2 months ago hahaha. He had literally the strongest Australian accent I’ve ever heard. Like he’d been living in the outback his entire life.
Emma was like ‘oh really’, ‘wow’, ‘your accent is strong to say you’ve only lived here two months’
I was having none of it at all. I let Emma do the talking, she’d slept for hours and I didn’t have the brain power to question is 2 month old Australian accent after he had lived in England for 40+ years hahaha.
We go to the hotel. The stunning Shangri La in the heart of Sydney overlooking the harbour bridge with views across to the opera house. It had a top floor bar that had vantage points right out across the entire city with wall to wall windows. It was truly stunning.
The doorman asked us where we’d like to get a taxi to. We said ‘we really haven’t got a clue’ and like the awesome Australian he was he said ‘right, walk about 200 yards down the road, there’s a proper aussie bar, showing the biggest rugby match of the calendar year, the atmosphere will be buzzing, the food is great and that is the only thing you need to do tonight’, so that’s exactly what we did.
The whole evening was brilliant, having a laugh with the people behind the bar at The Glenmore and had some gorgeous food. We got into the spirit of the rugby and before long it was time to head back to the hotel.
We swung by the local convenience store and stocked up on snacks for a bed picnic!
Before we went back to the room though we caught the elevator to the top floor and had a last pint looking out over the Australian Skyline. The view from our room was just as stunning and so slept with the curtains open. We didn’t want to close our eyes because it would be another day passing and we just wanted to visually take in as much as possible.
As we awoke on day 6, the sun was trying to break through the typical humid cloud that settles over Singapore. The sun had broken through and was blazing down into the garden wing of the Shangri La.We made our way down stairs and through the greenery to the poolside restaurant for breakfast.
There was a huge layout buffet of cold food, breads and cereals and then a vast selection of hot food to suit all your breakfast requirements. We got our coffee and juices and before long the waitress was over to take our orders of specially cooked foods, of which we both indulged in the eggs benedict. Might I add these were some of the best eggs benedict we had ever had.
After we had refreshed and fuelled our bodies for the day, we grabbed our poolside attire and some reading material (220 triathlon for me) and headed to the pool.
We chilled out for a good few hours before hitting the pool and Jacuzzi and getting in some exercise.
As we left the pool we proceeded along a pathway overhung by trees and noticed a squirrel coming down the tree. I stopped and showed Emma and as I was pointing at this squirrel, he obviously saw my delectable sausage fingers and made a darting leap through the tree and down onto the wall and got on his hind legs. He then took a pouncing position at which point me and Emma went AWOL haha.
The sign that said ‘do not touch the squirrels’ was enough to make me think it was a life or death situation. It probably wasn’t that bad but I wasn’t risking death by Singaporean squirrel. Didn’t fancy that making the Sky News headlines.
We made it back to the room alive and at about 2pm we decided that today was the day to remember our Sky Flyer tickets and get downtown for some serious photo taking and view in taking.
About 2 years ago I began following a fellow named Arie on Instagram. He was a fitness enthusiast and keen triathlete like myself. We followed each other for motivation and inspiration to keep pushing further and faster. We would often communicate about events and timings of our training. Little did I know he and his beautiful partner Juni lived in Singapore.
Once we discovered we had won the around the world trip he contacted me and mentioned it would be great to meet up. Obviously it would be great but I never expected it would happen.
Me and Emma reached the Sky Flyer and boarded successfully this time without having to kill time having fish eat our feet.
The Sky Flyer was amazing. We had amazing views of Singapore and the bay and got to see some sights that our short stay would otherwise have taken away from us.
After walking around in circles for a short while (probably right behind each other), we finally met up! It was great to meet them both. Especially as we were in Singapore, it was going to be great chatting with them and getting an insight into the real Singapore and not just the tourist areas that we would otherwise be limited to.
We began walking around the outside of the Sky Flyer and little to our knowledge we were walking along the route of the Singapore marathon. This was pointed out by our two wonderful Singaporean guides. Further to this, we were actually also on the Formula 1 Singapore race track! Seriously we would have walked on here and never known had our friends not been there.
Now the hospitality and welcoming we received from Arie and Juni was so nice. They showed us where they had parked and asked us where we wanted to go. They wanted to drive us wherever we liked to experience the real Singapore.
We said that all we wanted to do was see the real Singapore and we would go wherever they thought best.
They whisked us off and before long we landed at East coast food park. It was a buzzing food haven of all sorts of delicacies, all reasonably priced and very active. It was buzzing with people all on the beach and eating and there was a huge array of ships docked in the bay. They bought us a selection of food to try and wouldn’t let us pay for anything even though we insisted. Juni bought some Durian fruit. Now don’t let the word fruit deceive you. It came as part of a dessert where it was crushed ice of all different colours, sat on a bed of kidney beans….YES… KIDNEY BEANS in dessert and then a layer of blended Durian fruit on top. It is an acquired taste let me tell you. It firstly tastes a little like vomit haha and then like evaporated milk. Initially it was horrid and then it was lovely. The jury is still out on that one but I still feel blessed to have been able to share real Singapore cuisine with them both.
We also had a lengthy discussion with Juni about being Muslim and got a huge insight into the culture and beliefs they hold. It was a huge eye opener and something I’m very blessed to have been able to share that conversation with her.
We wasn’t expecting anything so quickly unwrapped the parcel and as quick as it was opened we had lumps in our throats.
Arie and Juni had dropped us off and bought personalised gifts and trinkets for us both to remember our stay. Truly 2 of the nicest humans we have ever been fortunate to meet.
after a very comfortable flight into Changi airport. The journey through customs and checking was smooth and seamless. We were greeted by a very friendly and chatty Singaporean man who helped us with our cases to the car. I lifted the bags into his car as he was only small and quite old but on the journey to the hotel he gave us a full rundown of everything to see and do whilst we were there.The drive was basically a guided tour, only it was in a chauffeur driven car rather than an open top bus.
The heat in Singapore was already evident. Although Dubai was blue skies and searing heat, Singapore was overcast and incredibly humid. The type of weather where your clothes are stuck to you straight away, but it’s a very clean air.
We were luckily advised on the way that Chewing Gum was illegal in Singapore so unfortunately had to ditch all of our minty fresh supplies back in Dubai.
We eventually arrived after a very pleasurable 30 minute drive at our hotel. The Shangri La in Singapore. Beautifully located within walking distance of the main town, we were situated on a raised hill out of the way. The very friendly staff showed us to our room which happened to be in the stunning garden wing of the hotel. The garden wing is a square atrium type area where just outside of the front door is a balcony to look over at ponds and streams and trees. It was incredibly clean and the fresh garden wing just added to Singapore’s overall green and fresh outlook.
During our conversation with the driver, he advised us on various places to go. One was Clarke Quay. He said that Clarke Quay is best on an evening as it’s alongside the river and the river is all lit up and has a buzzing nightlife. Although this sounded we great, we wanted to make our time count and not go out too late on the evenings, so once we were showered we headed over to Clarke Quay via a very cheap taxi.
Here there is every type of bar and eatery you can think of. Most places were shut as it was like 11am at the time although strangely hooters was open and the barmaids were serving out on the terrace. After scoping the area we settled in a lovely pizzeria just after 12 for a small bite of lunch and a gorgeous pint of Erdinger.
Insistent on cramming as much into this trip as possible we finished our beer and taxi’d over to the world famous Raffles Hotel. You can probably guess we had here. That’s right, Singapore Sling. It was a gorgeous drink and the hotel was truly stunning. Luckily the heavens decided to open as we sat in the bar and then seemingly close again as we left. We were definitely escaping any bad weather, although secretly I wanted to be caught in a tropical downpour.
After Raffles it was onto Marina Bay Sands. Marina Bay sands is a stunningly quirky unique hotel with wait for it……….a BOAT on top bridging between two buildings. On the boat is a bar and infinity pool and stunning views over Singapore City. We had a cocktail (Rose Honey Daquiri) and took photos of the scenery like proper tourists!
Because Kuoni Travel are such amazing people, they had pre-booked us tickets for Singapore Flyer. We ideally wanted to go it at sunset but couldn’t guarantee the weather and also had a few hours to go until it started setting. We headed to the base of the Singapore flyer and tried some of the local food market food which was gorgeous and then for the first time ever, we went to a fish spa.
Now I was well and truly looking forward to this. I was intent on getting my money’s worth… (here comes the sexy part)…….. my feet have been a mess since I was a kid, proper dry and I’m sure if they were smooth I’d be 2 feet shorter. We sat on the side of the tank and lowered our feet in. Bear in mind that the soles of my feet are dead to the world. The fish were in for a banquet, but Emma’s feet are mega soft and could not stop laughing everytime a fish touched her foot. This meant she flinched and scared the fish off.
Somewhere in Singapore now, there are some starving fish that have missed the banquet of their lives because Emma couldn’t keep still. Very funny though in a room full of silent people trying to enjoy having their feet chewed, with Emma laughing and shrieking in hysterics.
Just as the sun started to set, we decided now was Singapore Flyer time. We walked up the steps towards platform level and as Emma reached into her pocket for the tickets, all that was there were moths, bats and despair. She’d left the tickets back in the room.
We finally decided it was time to get back to the hotel and showered and then hit Orchard road for some food before bed. We stopped off at a little eatery and devoured some chicken and rice and then eahded back loaded with a bottle of wine and some snacks to have a bed picnic and finish the day watching the discovery channel