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Miss Atkinson's Global Adventure

Hello all! I am soon to be setting off on my 'around the world' adventure and am getting very excited about it! This page is where I can keep you all updated of my whereabouts, so keep checking in from time to time. We are flying to Columbia on the 3rd of September, and will be spending 5 months making our way down through South America. From there we will be visiting New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, before returning to England in July 2013. If you want to ask me any questions please post them onto the guest-book, and I will do my best to respond quickly! I'll miss you all very much! Miss Atkinson :-)

Indonesia

posted 19 Jun 2013, 23:30 by Heather Wyatt   [ updated 19 Jun 2013, 23:51 by Site Admin ]

For the last two months we have been travelling through Indonesia. Indonesia is a group of about 13,000 islands (although all the books differ - some say more), stretching from northern Australia to Malaysia. We began our trip in Bali, which is a big tourist destination (particularly for Australians). It has some beautiful beaches, a rich Hindu culture and lots of terraced paddy fields to explore. We visited the Gili Islands from there - Gili Trawangan and Gili Air, as we were in need of a bit of a rest after non-stop travelling in New Zealand. It was very beautiful, and there's some great snorkeling to do there. We met some turtles and a lot of very colourful fish! There were also some amazing sunsets.

 

From Bali we headed west, through the island of Java. Java was very different from Bali, much busier as it has a much larger population. Java (like the majority of Indonesia) is mainly Muslim, and it was wonderful hearing the call to prayer from the Mosques. Our highlights in Java were:

- The city of Yogyakarta - home to many old Hindu and Buddhist temples; bustling bird markets and the Sultan's Palace. 

  

- Watching the sun rise over Mount Bromo (an active volcano which we then climbed to look into the steaming crater).

  

- Seeing a traditional shadow puppet performance (Wayang Kulit), complete with a Gamelan orchestra.

 

So from Java we then attempted to travel via bus and ferry to South Sumatra, but we had a few problems along the way - including spending an entire night sitting on the side of the road. Our very overcrowded bus broke down at 11pm, so they took out the engine, took the engine apart and then left it sitting next to the bus. At 9am the next morning nobody had come to fix the bus yet, we'd had no sleep and our patience was wearing thin (we had already been travelling 3 days non-stop to get to this point). So we gave up, hailed down the next bus going back the other way, went all the way back to Jakarta and flew to Northern Sumatra instead. And I'm so glad we did! Northern Sumatra was amazing.

Our first stop was Danau Toba (Lake Toba). The lake is 100km long, 30km wide and up to 505m deep. It sits inside the crater of a huge supervolcano that erupted about 77,000 years ago (an eruption that almost wiped out the human race). It's the largest volcanic lake in the world, and absolutely stunning. We stayed in a traditional Batak house, in Tuktuk (situated on an island in the middle of the lake).

 

Our second stop was in Berastagi, where we climbed an active volcano called Gunung (Mount) Sibayak. We almost got lost in the clouds at the top - but once they cleared the views were spectacular.

 

And that brings me to our final stop in Indonesia - and possibly the most exciting thing that I've ever experienced. 
Our final visit was to a town on the edge of Gunung Leuser National Park (the rainforest), called Bukit Lawang. It became a big tourist destination during the 1980s, due to a rehabilitation centre that used to be there to help put Sumatran Orangutans back into the wild. The rehabilitation centre has since closed down, and the park sees much fewer visitors now, but you can still go jungle trekking to see the Orangutans for yourself. So we did!

We did a 3 day jungle trek: sleeping under tarpaulins; climbing and descending huge ridges (it was hard!); being attacked by leeches (they get everywhere); climbing up waterfalls; having to dig a hole to go to the toilet (gross!); rafting down the river and enjoying all the amazing creatures of the rainforest. Below are some pictures of some of the animals and insects that we met - including Thomas Leaf Monkeys, a preying mantis, lantern bugs, giant ants, macaque monkeys, the beautiful orangutans and a huge monitor lizard.

  
               
              
              
      This is the lantern bug - possibly the strangest insect I've ever seen. 

Which leads me to the most exciting part of our trip so far. On the second day of our trek we came across a semi-wild orangutan called Jackie. She was sitting up above the path that we were climbing down. The others walked past her, but when I tried to pass she climbed down and took hold of my arm. Our guide told me to sit down, so I did - straight away. Her grip was really strong - they're much much stronger than humans. She sat down with me, and held my arm. She didn't seem to want to let go. Our guide tried to coax her away with some fruit, but she wanted to take me with her. At one point she got quite cross with him, and picked up a big stick and started hitting him with it - all the while holding tight to my arm. Eventually an apple tempted her away, but it really was an amazing and wonderful experience. Such a beautiful animal - they're facial expressions make them seem so human-like. I feel very lucky!



And that brings me up to today! We're in Malaysia now, wondering what to do with our last month away. We fly back to England on the 1st August - so unfortunately I won't be able to come and see any of you before the end of term.
I hope you're all enjoying the summer term and that school is going well. I'll try to write again before we head home! 

New Zealand - South Island

posted 19 Jun 2013, 22:14 by Heather Wyatt   [ updated 19 Jun 2013, 22:14 by Site Admin ]

Hi guys! It's been a long time! How are you all and how is summer treating you? What exciting things have been going on in school?

I suppose I ought to start by bringing you up to speed on the rest of our trip in New Zealand. We drove around the island, stopping here, there and everywhere to see the sights. It's such a beautiful country; lots of mountains, lakes and rivers to gaze at. My highlights were:
Kayaking in Abel Tasman (beautiful clear waters and forests - with baby seal pups jumping around the kayak).

Doing my first (and ONLY) bungy jump in Queenstown (134m free-fall into a canyon - terrifying!)


Seeing some of the most beautiful landscapes.


And swimming with 500 dusky dolphins in Kaikoura! They were so fast - but if you made eye contact with them and made lots of silly noises through your snorkel they would swim around you in circles. We also saw a blue whale from the boat (a very rare sight!)


Here are a couple of highlights from the first half of our New Zealand trip too:

 

New Zealand

posted 2 Apr 2013, 19:18 by Heather Wyatt   [ updated 2 Apr 2013, 19:18 by Site Admin ]

Hello everybody,
How go your holidays? I hope the weather has changed for you, I bet you can't wait to see some sunshine. I can't believe how much snow you guys have had while I've been away!
We have been in New Zealand for 2 weeks now. We hired a car and have traveled around the North Island, and now have arrived in the South Island to visit some friends.
New Zealand is lovely! It's very much like the UK in a lot of ways, but very different in others. New Zealand sits on a huge fault line, so they see a lot of tectonic activity (lots of earthquakes and volcanoes). There are a lot less people living here than in the UK, and the pace of life is much more relaxed! There's lots of open space and countryside to explore. 
For all of you Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans - we visited Hobbiton on our way through the North Island - got to see all 45 hobbit holes. And then we did an 8 hour trek through the mountains - passing all of the way around 'Mount Doom'. It was quite spectacular! 
Today I visited a primary school in a little village called Wakefield. It was wonderful, because I had some letters from Mrs. Drazek's class to give them, telling them all about Dore and Sheffield. Their school was quite different from ours - they have a huge swimming pool for a start. Every class in the whole school swims at least 3 times a week. Their classrooms are very similar to our own, and the children and teachers were all very welcoming to me. I have some photos that I hope to put up soon to show you what it was like there. 
Anyway, we are hoping to keep in touch with them, and I'm hoping that the children will write some replies to your letters. It was great to be back in school, it made me miss Dore very much. I can't put photos up this time, but I'll try to do it soon!  
 

Chile

posted 17 Mar 2013, 17:17 by Heather Wyatt   [ updated 17 Mar 2013, 17:19 by Site Admin ]

Hello all! I hope things are well in Dore - I hear you've all had snow again? I hope the sunshine comes out soon!

We are 2 days away from finishing our South American adventure. Chile has been a wonderful country to finish on - some stunning and very diverse scenery to gaze upon.

We began in the south, visiting Torres Del Paine national park. The Torres are 3 pointy mountains made from granite, which we took a 4 day hike to reach. We were carrying our tent and sleeping bags, and all of the food for 4 days, along with clothing. The first day it rained and rained and rained - EVERYTHING got soaking wet, including the sleeping bags. It got so cold at night I was wearing about 7 layers of clothing, whilst trying to sleep in a damp tent. I also fell down a big bank of mud and covered myself from cheek to foot in mud. Suffice to say - Miss Atkinson was not very happy that night! 
The hiking was great after that - the sun came out and dried everything and we made it to the top of the trail, right next to the Torres. At first we couldn't see them because of the clouds, then it snowed on us heavily for about 30 minutes, but then the clouds parted and we had a beautiful view. A very rewarding trip!

From Torres del Paine we travelled by boat for 4 days, from Puerto Natales up to Puerto Montt - through the Chilean Fjords. From the boat we were able to see minky whales, sea-lions, penguins, dolphins and . . . orcas! We were so excited to see them in the wild, they swam right up to the boat.

Following the boat trip we visited Pucon, up in the Chilean lake district. It's a peaceful little town on the edge of a lake, with a beach (you can swim in the lake but it's freezing cold). Looming over the town is a huge volcano, puffing smoke and sulphur into the air. They have sirens that they test every day at 12pm and 12am. If they don't stop then you need to run out of the town along an evacuation route! Luckily the volcano isn't too active at the moment. 

After Pucon we traveled up to the capital, Santiago, and then on to the fantastic sea-side port of Valparaiso. The city is built on the hills, with lots of multi-coloured buildings. The port sits on re-claimed land, and is at risk of tsunamis (because Chile is sitting on very active tectonic plates - they have a lot of earthquakes here). We loved Valparaiso, and walked around the city for hours.

Finally, we decided to fly up and visit the Atacama desert. It sits in the north of Chile, and we stayed in a tiny little town called San Pedro de Atacama. From there you can do lots of day trips out to salt-flats, lagoons, lakes and geysers, as well as some beautiful desert scenes. The famous valley there is called Valle de la Luna - can you work out what its English name would be and why it might be called that? We also did a stargazing activity on our last night there. I've never seen so many stars - you could see the whole Milky-Way and so many constellations. We looked at Jupiter and Saturn through a telescope, and also a nebula called the 'Tarrantula Nebula'. I saw about 5 shooting-stars and was quite overwhelmed at how spectacular the sky is at night when you don't have light-pollution spoiling it.

So that brings us to now - our last two days in South America. We have traveled almost the entire length of the continent - all the way from Colombia in the north to Chile and Argentina in the south. It's taken us six and a half months to do it.
 
390 hours sitting on buses
222 hours sitting on boats
32 hours sitting on planes

Can you work out how many days that is in total?
Or how many minutes?

I'm very excited to begin a new adventure in New Zealand - and I'll keep you updated! Here are some pictures from our adventures in Chile. Hope you all enjoy the Easter holidays!

 
 


Argentina

posted 6 Mar 2013, 09:01 by Heather Wyatt   [ updated 6 Mar 2013, 09:01 by Site Admin ]

Hello again everybody! Sorry it's been such a long time since my last post. I was just checking out the school website - it looks like you guys have been very busy! The Y3 fairtrade cafe looks like it was a great success! I wish I could have been there to try some of those tasty cakes.

We are currently in a town called Valparaiso in Chile, with just two weeks left of South America, but I haven't filled you in about Argentina yet! 

We spent a LOT of time travelling by bus through Argentina - it is an enormous country. The highlights for me were Iguazu Falls (in the north). They are the second largest waterfalls in the world (by volume of water), and were extremely impressive to see. We saw some wildlife there too - some possoms and monkeys.

Buenos Aires was a very exciting city - the capital of Argentina. Lots of history to see, tango dancing to watch and markets to explore. 

About twelve hours south of Buenos Aires we visited a little town on the Atlantic, called Puerto Madryn. In that region there are a lot of welsh towns, so you could go and get a welsh cream tea! There was also so much wildlife to go and see. We took some boat trips out and saw dusky dolphins, commerson dolphins, sealion colonies, elephant seals and penguins. You can normally see whales there too, but we were there at the wrong time of year.

From there we traveled south into Patagonia - the tail end of the Andes mountain range where there is a huge ice field and lots of glaciers to visit, along with lots of impressive mountains to see and climb. The most exciting of these for us was the Perito Moreno glacier near El Calafate; and Mt Fitzroy near El Chalten. Fitzroy and some of the other mountains in this region really stand out because they are very tall, jagged granite peaks. 

We then crossed into Chile, our final country in South America. I haven't sorted out the pictures from Chile yet, so I'll save that story for the next post. Meanwhile, here are some photos from Argentina.

Keanu - I'm so impressed that you found out all of those animal names from my jungle trip! Well done!

Tom - I think my favourite animal so far has been . . . the turtles in the Galapagos. Although I really liked the dolphins too; and the frogs! Oooh it's so hard to choose! 

I hope the weather is getting better for you all - spring must be on it's way soon! We are beginning to move into Autumn here - and I think it will be the same in New Zealand (our next stop). We've just passed the 6 month mark - I've never been away so long!

Missing home and missing all of you guys.
I'll hopefully be going into a school in New Zealand - so I'm hoping some of you will be interested in communicating with some children from there, tell them a bit about Sheffield and England. I'm very interested to see how their school lives differ from ours.

Hope you enjoy the photos and I'll keep an eye on the guest book if anybody has any more questions!
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A little more about Bolivia . . .

posted 15 Jan 2013, 17:27 by Heather Wyatt   [ updated 19 Jun 2013, 23:53 by Site Admin ]

Continuing from the last post - I had so much to say about the jungle I ran out of time and space!
We visited the most beautiful national park just before Christmas, called Torotoro. It took us 5 hours to get there, along a very bumpy road in the mountains. There's been a lot of tectonic movement there, so the mountains are extraordinary. They also have MILLIONS of dinosaur footprints all over the place! Everywhere you look there's another dinosaur footprint. They must have been walking in very sticky mud, and the mud dried and was covered up, but now the layers of the earth have weathered and eroded away to reveal them again. Some of them were huge (check out the pics below). There was also an amazingly beautiful canyon there, which we were able to walk along.
For Christmas we were in Sucre, a lovely city. We had a traditional Bolivian Christmas meal on Christmas eve (they celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve there), consisting of chicken, beef, a potato and sweetcorn, all in a soup. It was strange being away from home, and away from cold England (the weather there was sunny and warm).
After Christmas we rushed down to do a tour of the Uyuni Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni); these salt flats spread over 10,582 square kilometres, and were formed from ancient salt lakes, which dried up tens of thousands of years ago. We were up at 3,600m at the flats, and then travelled for several days into the surrounding desert and mountains. We even drove up into the crater of a volcano - over 5000m high - which was steaming very dramatically and had pools of bubbling mud. It was a little frightening, but there are geologists who monitor the volcano closely, and they won't let you visit if it's particularly active. 
On December 30th we traveled into Argentina . . . and that story will have to wait until next time! :-)
I hope you are all enjoying a good start to 2013. I hear there's been snow in England this week? Build a snowman for me, and maybe an igloo too! We are currently in Buenos Aires and it's SUPER hot. 

      
      
         
Ps. Can you figure out how we made everyone tiny in the photos?

Happy 2013!

posted 3 Jan 2013, 07:19 by Heather Wyatt   [ updated 7 Mar 2013, 07:02 by Site Admin ]

I hope you have all had a very merry festive season and would like to wish you all a happy new year! I have so many things to tell you all, I'm not sure I can do it all in one post, so I'm going to split it up into different trips. 
We had a fabulous time in Bolivia, it's such a beautiful country, with some of the most amazing scenery we've seen so far. After staying in La Paz we flew out to the Amazon Basin, to a little town called Rurrenabaque, in the jungle! Our plane was the smallest I've ever been on - only 18 seats (like a small bus), and the pilots were sat just in front of us. The day we were supposed to travel all of the flights to Rurrenabaque were cancelled, due to bad weather and having to land on a grass runway. However, all was fine by the next day, and we set off to fly over the snow-capped mountains to the rainforest. 
We did two tours there. One deep in the rainforest, and the other in 'the pampas', where there is more grassland. Staying in the rainforest was very exciting! I'm not a big fan of insects, but you have to get used to them there - some of them were HUGE. We spent one night in a jungle lodge, and the second night out in the forest, under a tarpaulin with just a mosquito net to protect you from the outside. It didn't quite manage to keep out the ants and the spiders, which meant that I didn't get much sleep! 
We did a lot of trekking through the forest, both day and night, in order to find as much wildlife as possible. It was so hot and humid, but we had to wear long sleeves and long trousers, to keep the cloud of mosquitoes and the ants from biting. We were very lucky with some of the animals that we saw! We stumbled upon howler monkeys, wild pigs (REALLY smelly!), spiders, ants, frogs, toads, toucans, red and green macaws and we even saw the back end of a brown jaguar! An amazing experience.
In the pampas we mainly traveled by boat, up and down the river, to see the wildlife. There are a lot of camens there (a type of alligator), and you had to look carefully to spot their beady eyes poking out of the water. We also saw capibaras (giant guinea pigs), squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, river tortoises, pink river dolphins and many many many birds. We traveled up and down the river to see the wildlife, and on the second day we went to shore in search finding an anaconda. The field we were looking in was very muddy, each foot went in almost up to your knee - so it was very tricky moving around. I quickly decided that I didn't particularly want to stumble across an anaconda, and more frighteningly, stumble across a camen or another type of snake! If you look closely at the pictures I upload, you might spot a camen in the foreground, while we are searching for snakes.
That afternoon we had the opportunity to swim with the pink river dolphins. The river itself was completely brown, so you couldn't see them until they surfaced, which was usually very close by! Apparently the dolphins scare off the camens, but it's still scary when you can't see what's lurking in the water. There were also piranha fish in the water, but it was the sardines that kept nipping us (not a pleasant sensation!). One of the pink river dolphins thought it would be funny to bite our friend on the bum repeatedly, which was very amusing (luckily he thought so too!).
On our final morning we went fishing for piranhas, using little bits of meat. We caught a couple and had them for lunch (instead of the other way around!).
 All in all it was a really amazing experience, I'm so glad we did it. The pictures I put up will be from both trips - look carefully for different wildlife - see if you can name them all.
We have made it to Argentina now, but I still have so much to tell you about Bolivia. I'll try to put up a new post soon. In the meantime - Happy new year! 


Our tiny plane to Rurrenabaque Giant insect     
Our camp for the night Howler monkey    the very smelly pigs 
 capibara     
   Spot the pink river dolphins 
    

December Already!!!

posted 2 Dec 2012, 16:22 by Heather Wyatt   [ updated 2 Dec 2012, 16:22 by Site Admin ]

Thank you so much to those of you who have posted in the guestbook, I've been looking through everything on the website - it looks like school is very exciting at the moment; so many trips and activities! I miss you all very much. I hear England has been having some pretty terrible weather - have you got snow yet? It's so strange being away in December. We are currently in La Paz, Bolivia, having spent a few days in Copacabana on Lake Titicaca (the highest lake in the world). We visited Isla Del Sol, where there are lots of Incan ruins and beautiful views. The altitude there is over 4000m above sea level, so walking was very difficult (much less oxygen in the air). Questions I need to answer: Keanu - we are hopefully going to visit the rainforest here in Bolivia in the next week or so (I'm very excited!); Callum - I'm not sure what's been my favourite so far, each country is so different. I think Columbia has been my favourite country, because the people are so friendly there, but the Galapagos in Ecuador was the best experience for all the wildlife. 
Bolivia is very different again. Everything here costs a lot less, but the country itself is much poorer than it's neighbors. It's very hot here during the day, but because of the altitude it gets very cold at night. Very strange being somewhere so sunny though - when Christmas is just around the corner! How are the Christmas concerts going? 
I will post up some more photos as soon as I can (it's difficult finding good enough internet here at the moment). Sending you all lots of good wishes and hope the weather isn't too cold! X 

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

posted 7 Nov 2012, 10:34 by Heather Wyatt   [ updated 19 Jun 2013, 23:56 by Site Admin ]

Paragliding in San Gil    
  


Hola Amigos! It is now Miercoles 7 Noviembre 2012, I hope you all had a great half term? Sorry it's been such a long time since my last post! If I remember rightly it was from San Gil in Columbia? We have done many things since then, so I'll fill you in briefly. From San Gil we travelled back to Bogota for a few days, and then headed south to another city called Cali. Cali is the best city for Salsa dancing (and no I can't teach you how when I come back - I'm terrible at it). We enjoyed having a go though. From Cali we continued south, to a beautiful colonial town called Popayan. All of the buildings have white-washed walls and it is very lovely there. Nearby Popayan there is an archaeological sight called Tieradentro, which we visited overnight. It took us 6 hours on a bus to get there, along a dirt road that was perched perilously on the edge of the mountain-side. We got stuck for 2 hours when the road had washed away into the ravine below! However, it was well worth the journey. All along the mountains in Tieradentro they have discovered hundreds of burial sights from the 9th century, left by indigenous peoples who lived there before the arrival of the Spanish. You can climb down into the tombs to see the beautiful paintings and carvings left on the walls, it was fascinating. 
We then continued south and entered Ecuador. I thought the mountains in Columbia were impressive, but the Ecuadorian landscape leaves you breathless. We came to Quito (the capital) and stayed here for a few days before embarking on a trip of a lifetime: visiting the Galapagos Islands! If you don't know about the Galapagos you should look them up. We spent 8 days there, living on a boat and sailing around the islands to look at the wildlife and scenery. All of the islands are volcanic, and many have erupted so recently that the vegetation has not begun to grow yet, so you walk around on black lava (ex- Y3s I hope you remember the name of the rocks that are formed from volcanoes?) We saw the most amazing wildlife - right up close. The animals aren't bothered about human presence in the slightest, so you can walk very close to them. We saw giant tortoises (over 160 years old), millions of bird species (including the blue-footed booby), sharks, sea-lions (very playful when you are snorkeling with them), sea-turtles, manta rays, sting-rays . . . I could continue this list for ever! Suffice to say it was the most incredible place I have ever been to.
We are back in Quito now, planning on heading off again tomorrow. Ecuador has a different feel to it than Columbia, especially Quito as it's such a huge city. We have been away for 2 months now already. I can't believe how fast the time is slipping by! I hope all is well at school! Hasta Luego!

San Gil

posted 5 Oct 2012, 20:41 by Heather Wyatt   [ updated 5 Oct 2012, 20:41 by Site Admin ]

Viernes 5 Octubre 2012 - Buenos Noches Amigos! Como estas? Estoy muy bien y me gusta Colombia! We are currently in a little town called San Gil, about 7 hours on the bus north-east of Bogota. It's a very friendly little town with lots of things to do. We went paragliding a few days ago, over the most beautiful canyon. Again, I was so scared, my legs turned to jelly! I did it in tandem, meaning that I was strapped to somebody who knew what they were doing. We were on top of a huge hill, and once they got the parachute up in the air we just had to run, as fast as we could, towards the edge of the hill. Terrifyingly it was just as we got the the edge that the wind picked us up, and then we were flying! We flew so high up that you couldn't see the people below us on the hill anymore. The canyon looked amazing, with the mountains in the distance. Such a great experience! I am half-way through a Spanish course and have just finished my homework :-) It's so hard to remember all of the vocabulary and the different verbs, but it's giving my brain a good work-out! We've been away over a month now, which is the longest I have ever been away from home. I miss my friends and family, and you guys! I hope everything is going well at school? Chao for now!

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