We love the water. Heck, it was the reason we decided to go Snorkelling in Samoa in the first place. We envisioned spending our mornings waking to the sounds of the surf pounding on the shallow reefs. Donning our hard bottomed reef-booties and heading out for a quick surf in Samoa before breakfast. Free-diving in the tranquil sea for hours as the hot summer sun beat down upon our backs.
Fortunately, we were not disappointed.
Snorkelling in Samoa
One of the main reasons I wanted to go snorkelling in Samoa was to swim with turtles. Ever since we had first seen a turtle when I was just 7 years old at Plantation Island in Fiji, I have wanted to see them again.
In fact, even one of my bucket list items is to go volunteer to help with the turtles breeding somewhere like Greece.
So one blazing hot afternoon, the South Pacific Ocean embraced our skin with it’s warmth as we duck-waddled into the water off the beach in front of our Fale (there is no glamorous way to walk in flippers). The sand puffing up between our feet with each step as we eased our way in to the deeper water.
I tweaked the mask strap one last time so that it wouldn’t let in any water to disrupt my view and took the plunge face first.
The bubbles slowly evaporated around my lens to reveal the fish re-emerging from their hurried hiding places between the various outcrops once they realised this extremely pasty white body was no danger to them.
But the colours compared to my translucent body was amazing.
Oh, the colours! Reds, Blues, Yellows, Greens and every other imaginable colour of the rainbow were littered across the ocean floor.
With a few deep breaths and two swift kicks I let the current settle around me as I drifted calmly in to the main channel of the bay. Everywhere we looked the fish were carrying about their business. It always makes me wonder if the ocean life really is like Finding Nemo with every fish going about their daily rituals just as we do on dry land.
The sunlight filtered through the surface creating an eerie glow the deeper you swam. Fish parted before us like the Red Sea in front of Moses.
And then came a muffled cry. “Muuurrrtttllleeeeesss”. I lifted my head above the calm surface. Water ran from my ears, still blocked with the salt water from the last descent.
In just our first snorkelling in Samoa adventure, we had spotted turtles. And it was them. Not just one lazy little turtle but three. All slowly stroking their way across the width of the channel totally ignoring our delighted girly squeals from the surface (not from me of course…)
Their mottled green and brown armour plated shells blended in perfectly with the surrounding rocks and reef. The little heads were on a constant swivel as they surveyed their habitat with wary eyes watching out for fishermen who are still allowed to catch them.
As a side note, these same fishermen have quickly realised that the money they can earn from turtles as a tourist attraction far outweighs the money they gain from catching them so fortunately this is a rapidly declining business.
The turtles four hinged flippers protruded from their shells and cut through the water effortlessly as they glided across the lagoon. We continued to float on the surface as they gracefully moved about below us before I decided to investigate getting closer. I took one last breath of fresh air and duck-dived below the surface to sneak up on them from behind. Moving like a stealth submarine I suddenly realised that I was getting closer and closer.
My arms stretched away in front of me as I approached. 30 feet, 20 feet, 10 feet.
It was like a fire-bolt had shot from their behinds.
With one swift stroke they were off. And even though I had been a competitive swimmer in my teens there was no way I could keep up with them when they realised my intentions. I retreated to the surface huffing and puffing from my brief moment of exertion as they disappeared into the gloom.
Fortunately for us it wouldn’t be our last encounter with the turtles while snorkelling in Samoa.
We spotted others at least once a day as we cruised the sea in front of our own Fale as well as in different locations around the Island of Upolu. It probably helps that we have been water babies our entire lives and are confident enough to venture out further and deeper than most other tourists are willing to go and that we would spend upwards of 3 hours at a time free-diving from the beach. But on many occasions we would only be metres from the shoreline when we would spot turtles lounging in the shallows.
With all the excitement and again with the girly squeals, the only two I managed to get decent photographs of were hiding under rocks on separate occasions. Only venturing out when they needed to head to the surface for a breath of fresh air like ourselves.
It took me back to that one day over 15 years ago on the beach in Fiji when I spotted my first turtle. That sheer joy of floating in the crystal clear water with just the sea, sun and sea-life easing all our worries.
Have you had any similar experiences with wildlife that you had been “just dying” to see and were lucky enough to fulfil those dreams? Leave us a comment because we want to hear about it below!
Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt
Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:
We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!
Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!
Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!
Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!
Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.
On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:
The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.
Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!
The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.
We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!
Running with the Bulls Video
Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.
We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.
All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.
Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.
Unfortunately, I was standing in their path.
What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.
Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!
Running with the Bulls Video
Would you ever consider running with the bulls?
While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide
Find out how you can explore the streets, canals and local markets within minutes of Bangkok with our Outdoor Activities in Bangkok Adventure City Guide.
Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Why visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is one of the world’s largest metropolises and a gateway for most of the world to access the rest of South East Asia. With numbers surpassing 14 million people in the Greater Bangkok Region, this is no small player in the world’s super-cities. Of course, having such a long history with foreign visitors, the city has become incredibly established in the world’s tourist sector.
This has allowed it to grow many facets of adventurous activities – making access to something for everyone!
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok
Exploring the Klongs
Klongs are canals that used to feed the entire city with life-giving water, branched off from the city’s main artery – the Chao Phraya River. Today, the locals wouldn’t drink the water if you paid them, but there is still a fascinating life along the Klongs’ banks. There is so much to explore, from floating markets to old houses on stilts, and it gives insight into this ancient way of life!
What’s it cost, and how to get to the Klongs?
You can usually arrange the Klongs from the pier “Saphan Taksin” along the Chao Phraya River. This is conveniently a stop on the Skytrain, making it very easy to access. Usually, you will be renting the entire boat for the day (about 1000 THB, or USD 35) and not paying a per-person rate. So if you can find a few people to go with, the price will drop significantly per person.
Rickshaw City Tours
If you’ve never been to Asia before, Rickshaws are one of the most fun ways to get around. Although they can often be a little more expensive than metered taxis, you get an experience (and a view) that is unparalleled, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok.
What’s it cost?
Occasionally, you can even haggle a deal for a city tour for next to nothing (50-100 THB or $1.50-3 USD), as long as you visit a couple of affiliated ‘custom suit tailors’ throughout the day, as they’ll get a kickback from the shops just for bringing you there… No purchase is necessary.
You can often find Tuk Tuk drivers willing to do this standing along the perimeter of the Kings’ Palace. It may take a few attempts of asking for a ‘special city tour,’ but you will be bound to find someone ready for a cut of this business.
Local Secret Spot
Though most people wouldn’t consider going to a market an adventure, they probably have never experienced the likes of Chatuchak (also known as JJs). This is one of SE Asia’s LARGEST outdoor markets. It’s so prominent that you can find maps of the market to help navigate. It’s roughly the size of 4 city blocks and is divided into various sections.
You’ll find everything under the sun here, from clothing to handicrafts, food, mobile phones, and even puppies and other cute critters for sale!! It’s bonkers. If it gets too much for you, you can take a break in one of Bangkok’s most famous parks (Chatuchak park), located next to the market.
How to get there?
You can get here via Skytrain (BTS), subway (MRT), taxi, bus, you name it – it’s very accessible! But it’s only open on weekends, from about dawn until 5 or 6 pm at its peak. Some shops stay open longer, but most will be closed by dusk. It’s free entry and a perfect place to buy ANY souvenirs at the end of your time in Thailand.
Suppose you can coordinate to be here on the weekend. I generally hate shopping for ‘stuff,’ but I love this market and its energy!
Best time of the year to visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is in the tropics and quite close to the Equator. Of course, this means it’s hot on a year-round basis.
It’s considered the rainy season from May to October, though showers can happen at any time of the year. This is generally a less busy time for tourists, though the rains are not quite as bad as expected and often only last 30 mins-1 hour, cooling the city’s heart. Peak season is in December-January when temperatures are at their most astounding ad driest… though it’s still pretty hot!
And if Bangkok isn’t to your taste, the luxury Koh Samui will be. Endless sandy beach, beautiful clear waters, and nightlife that could be lived in forever. The luxury rental properties are stunning, and we recommend Tempston Luxury villa rentals.
Finally, the reason I love Bangkok for adventure is that…
It’s never-ending. This city is SO BIG that you could get lost in a new neighborhood almost every day. Single. Day. And still find new, exciting things to explore. On my list for the upcoming weeks, I’ve got the Scala Cinema, the Thai Air Force Museum, Papaya Vintage Shop, and the Erawan Museum – to name a few. Every time I explore one place, I learn of 3 more!!
From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He’s since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. You can follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and his travel blog Where Sidewalks End.
Have you been to Bangkok? What were your favorite outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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