Summary of the trip: Overall

This is the overall awards for the trip as a whole – the winners are taken from the best of the previous winners. There is also a post on a few extra awards categories I have these are here.

Best site

Iguazu, Argentina and Brazil it was great from so many angles, up close and far away. I think ultimately this has to be the overall best site winner.

Best museum

The Holocaust Museum, Washington DC, it tried so hard to just give the facts. I learnt a lot about the recent history of the Jews and that reflects heavily on the middle east today. Well worth a visit.

Honourable Mention

The Hermitage, St Petersburg, although I do think the impact from the Holocaust museum was stronger, this is definitely one of the best museums in the world, on a very short list with the Met (which should have got an honourable mention for the US awards) and the British Museum.

Best tour company

Oz Trails, Sydney for managing to organise and excellent and full one day tour of the Blue Mountains in Australia for a reasonable price as well.

Best city

St Petersburg, Russia, overall its beautiful and has lots and lots to do in every category.

Best non-Family accommodation

Te’ora, Easter Island, this award has been practically guaranteed since Easter Island, but Te’ora was amazing and I would definitely go back for the accommodation, unfortunately Easter Island is really the sort of place you only go once, I recommend it to all levels of traveller.

Best food for under US$25

The winner is Steak in Buenos Aires at a small restaurant at Defensa and Independencia which was above and beyond anything I’d had before, or since.

The Lee, Mohan and Tim award for the best burger

Burgers seem to be turning into a staple on this trip and in honour of my time in Chicago when I had four burgers in six days with the guys from Chicago (including two for two successive meals.

Burger Hut at Le Petit Village, Mooera for being absolutely delicious and a bargain for Tahiti.

Best nightlife

Chicago, USA, for its great nightlife in every category. I had a lot of fun there.

Best Activity

Acrobatics at the Shanghai Centre, Shanghai, this was breathtaking and kept my attention for the full 90 minutes of the performance, getting better and better to the climax.

Friendliest People

The Russians, the Russians always seemed to be friendly and went the extra mile to help pretty damn frequently, given their limited resources it was great to see.

Best Transportation Company

Japan Rail, Japan, any train company which can make you forget to photograph something as cool as the Shinkansen because it “just works” so well is incredible, every train has been virtually on time in the entire country and the transportation system here in Japan is nothing short of incredible. Japanese trains are how it should work everywhere.

Best bargain

The free temples in Japan for often being as good as some of those you have to pay to enter. I’m not obsessing about my Chinese clothes anymore anyway :p.

Biggest rip-off

Postada la bonita for accommodation worth a generous US$10/night costing US$100/night.

The Patrick Levy award for cinematography

When I went to South East Asia my friend Patrick (who doesn’t need much sleep) would watch films before going to sleep in the evening. Therefore I am dedicating this award to him. However even though films you watch while travelling are usually bad I’m giving this award to the genuinely most entertaining film.

The winner is Dan in Real Life for being the only romantic comedy I have ever seen that didn’t disappoint its genre by being a) funny and b) about real love.

Summary of the trip: Pacific Islands and Australia

I was always going to give some awards at the end of my trip, but so they stay relevant I am going to do some as I go along. So I’m going to split my trip into thirds. The next logical third is the Pacific Islands including Easter Island, Tahiti, New Zealand and Japan (technically its an island chain at least mostly in the Pacific.) as well as Syndey Australia. I know I haven’t posted my final Tokyo post yet, that is still to come after this one.

Best site

Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand, Milford Sound was an absolutely stunning place to visit and it was well worth doing the excellent overnight cruise on the Fjord.

Best museum

A Bomb Museum, Hiroshima, Japan, though flawed as I covered in the Hiroshima post the A bomb museum was very good and covered the important facts about the first use of the nuclear bomb. All of the signs were also in English and the audio tour covered most of it and was available in 20 or so languages.

Best tour company

Oz Trails, Sydney for managing to organise and excellent and full one day tour of the Blue Mountains in Australia for a reasonable price as well.

Best city

Tokyo, Japan for its excellent public transport, great sites and it appears to have strong nightlife as well (though I didn’t experience it myself.). It is also a modern and vibrant city.

Best non-Family accommodation

Te’ora, Easter Island, this award has been practically guaranteed since Easter Island, but Te’ora was amazing and I would definitely go back for the accommodation, unfortunately Easter Island is really the sort of place you only go once, I recommend it to all levels of traveller, whether you stay in youth hostels (well it is a little expensive) or the Peninsula.

Best food for under US$25

Creviche in the blue restaurant on Easter Island, assuming you stay at the recommended accommodation this should be enough to go on, creviche on Easter Island was absolutely delicious.

Honourable Mention

Okomomiyaki, Hiroshima, although I didn’t speak English at the restaurant this was absolutely amazing, and was better than the Tokyo version which I had today (and haven’t discussed yet).

The Lee, Mohan and Tim award for the best burger

Burgers seem to be turning into a staple on this trip and in honour of my time in Chicago when I had four burgers in six days with the guys from Chicago (including two for two successive meals.

Burger Hut at Le Petit Village, Mooera for being absolutely delicious and a bargain for Tahiti.

Honourable Mention for South America

As the award started in Chicago, the USA is exempt so it goes to the BK Argento, Argentina.

Best nightlife

Queenstown, New Zealand, because I actually went out there, and unlike Sydney it had character and wasn’t full of non-descript hotel bars.

Best Activity

Shotover Jet, Queenstown for being great fun (especially the 360 degree spins), not too expensive for New Zealand and for finishing just when you wanted it to.

Honourable mention for the Americas

Mountain biking in Arequipa, Peru which was great fun on bumpy roads, and I even managed not to fall off!.

Friendliest People

The Japanese the Japanese, especially those I have stayed with have all been very friendly, even when there is a language barrier between us.

Best Transportation Company

Japan Rail, Japan, any train company which can make you forget to photograph something as cool as the Shinkansen because it “just works” so well is incredible, every train has been virtually on time in the entire country and the transportation system here in Japan is nothing short of incredible. Japanese trains are how it should work everywhere.

Best bargain

The free temples in Japan for often being as good as some of those you have to pay to enter.

Biggest rip-off

Tahiti for being totally overpriced for what it was. It was even a total rip-off in comparison to the utterly remote Easter Island, and Japan whose currency has gained 70% over the pound this year. This is really reflected in it only having 2.5 times the tourist numbers of Easter Island which is much harder to get to.

The Patrick Levy award for cinematography

When I went to South East Asia my friend Patrick (who doesn’t need much sleep) would watch films before going to sleep in the evening. Therefore I am dedicating this award to him. However even though films you watch while travelling are usually bad I’m giving this award to the genuinely most entertaining film.

The winner is Dan in Real Life for being the only romantic comedy I have ever seen that didn’t disappoint its genre by being a) funny and b) about real love.

Honourable Mention

The counterfeiters which was very interesting, but a little short for my liking.

Further Studies of Easter Island

So on Tuesday I had a lazy morning at my accommodation before heading to the Ahu Vinaphu on my Bike. Unlike the day before when I didn’t use the bike I’d rented at all, simply taking it to and from my accommodation and the internet cafe. The Ahu Vinaphu is located behind the island’s oil storage facility so I went the wrong way down the road at first not realising that the road to the oil storage sneakly cut off to the side along the fence of the refinery. According to my hotel oil is the only thing brought to the island by ship rather than plane and this means petrol is comparitavely cheap (I think there is an occassional cargo ship to bring cars and stuff as well).

Anyhow I wanted to go to this particular Ahu as although it has no standing Moai it has an inca wall like Cusco and that is unlike any of the other walls on the island which are made of rough stones. Maybe the incas boated out here at some point. After that I went back to town and went for an early supper (as seemed to be a theme I met some more people from my full day tour of the island at supper) to catch the sunset at Tahai which was surrounded by the most tourists I’ve seen in one place on the island. Even so it was spectacular.

Then on Wednesday it was fairly cold and cloudy first thing in the morning. Fortunately by the time I had checked my email and finished my packing it had started to clear up. By 12 noon I headed off for a walk to the highest point on the island, this was fun as the path wasn’t great but that did make it slow going. Unfortunately at one point the path dried up so I had to turn back but I still got some good views. On the way back I took the coast road which was much slower than the island route I took out, taking about an hour longer to get back. In the evening I headed to a restaurant for what will probably be my final Pisco sour of the trip.

First few days in Easter Island

To understand everything here and so I don’t have to write masses of background you should read some of the basic history of the island, for example on the Wikipedia Page for the island.

So I’ve been in Easter Island for a few days now. On Friday when I arrived I had a late lunch after my flight and explored the village. I also headed to the excellent Easter Island museum where I learnt some more about the history of the island (but actually quite a bit of it was already in the Rough Guide’s context sections on Easter Island) telling me about the fighting on the island and the petroglyphs and the theories for moving the statues and the top knots.

Then on Saturday I took the short loop around by bike near the village. As usual the seat wasn’t that comfy, and the chain came off when I went into the highest gear but otherwise it was fine. First I headed to the topknot quarry which was very interesting and showed some topknots that weren’t completed, it is worth noting that now very few of the statues actually have topknots due to erosion and the fact that all of the statues were toppled from their platforms in the 18th century. Then after that I cycled further down the gravel road to a site called Ahu Akivi which is the only set of statues on the island which look out to sea, as even though they are almost all located around the coast all of the others look into the land. After that I found two sets of caves which people lived in during the violence in the later part of the pre-European time on the island. Finally I headed to some more caves overlooking the sea very impressively, the entrances was also very narrow and you needed are torch.

The on Sunday I headed on a full day guided tour of the island to see some more platforms, the quarry where the statues themselves were carved including the largest statue on the island (that is still in the quarry), the only thing unexpected about the quarry was that it was grassed over much more than I expected. We also saw the 15 moai that stand up in one place just below the quarry. Then after lunch we saw the largest statue outside the quarry which hadn’t been re-stood up and a 200% genuine beach on the island (the sand went back in a big square) and I went swimming in the fairly cold sea on the beach. I was also told about the maoi in the British musuem which apparently has a lot of detail on it that is unique (as the others have been outside probably) although it is well kept it is apparently excellently located near the toilets which is a bit sad, I’m going to check it out when I get back to the UK in the spring.

Then today I walked up to Orongo which is a restored village. This village was only occupied for a few weeks a year during the birdman ceremony and had been reconstructed in the 1970’s. This was really interesting and it was really windy up there as well. On the surprisingly long walk up I also saw some gardens of native plants but a lot of them were sadly overgrown. I also saw the amazing volcanic crater Ranu Kao which was amazingly green inside as it was protected from the elements (a lot of plants are grown in this way on Easter Island, though obviously on a smaller scale with a 50cm wall rather than a giant crater).

Tonight I’m going to try and see the sunset so I need to get off and have my supper now. Tomorrow I’m probably going to do some snorkelling.

On Easter Island

I’ve just landed into Easter Island, I even have the traditional band of flowers given on arrival. We arrived into what appears to be gate 1 at the massive airport and I definitely wasn’t sure which belt to get my bag from as there was no monitor for the flights.

I was picked up by my very cool accommodation at the airport and they gave me a tour of the town. If the “Americas” awards included Easter Island they’d be getting best accommodation for sure.

This is only brief as I want to get off and explore the island.