Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Australia: THE END

On the 28th my Australian visa officially expired and my year there was up. Ok so I left Oz a week and a half ago (Hi SE Asia) but it still felt like an occassion that needed to be marked.
 
I did more new things, explored more places and earned more money than I ever have done. I met some cool people and changed for the better (I actually eat certain vegetables now, go me!) and I finally no longer look like Casper the friendly ghost..
 
From having an awesome apartment in Perth to doing two weeks of farm work up in Queensland to finishing up with 3 months in a Sydney hostel, Australia has been pretty sweet. There was a couple of rough patches (falling out with friends, despising our hostel) but we got there in the end.
 
It was quite sad knowing that our year was up and for half a second I almost regretted not doing my farm work to get my second year but oh well.
 
Here are my favourite bits from the past year...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
There's still a few places in Australia I need to return to - Darwin, Cairns and Melbourne - and we have already talked about the possibility of coming back and travelling around in a campervan (with a cheeky trip over to New Zealand aswell maybe?).
 
It's a beautiful country with a zillion things to see and do - If you are thinking of visiting then just do it.
 
BYE AUSTRALIA!
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Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas in Kuta

 

Christmas in Bali, it doesn't get any more Aussie than that does it mate?

Let's face it, as I come from the land of rain, slush and occasionally snow, a warm Christmas sucked. No crazy family, no Christmas telly and no presents to give or receive. It's probably gunna be struck from the memory bank I won't lie.

Alleycats bar completely saved Christmas in my eyes: A full dinner with YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS for a grand total of £5.65. (They also do a mean chip butty with proper chips- They're on Poppies 2 tucked away behind Twice bar).

The Balinese made a lot of effort for the Westerners despite not actually celebrating Christmas and it was quite nice having a kind of Christmas tree outside our room door complete with tinsels, baubles and lights.

I'm in no rush to have a warm Christmas any time soon but now it's over I can look forward to 3 months of dicking around in SE Asia - Woo!

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and I wish you all the best for 2016!
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Friday, 18 December 2015

Saying goodbye to Sydney.

Sydney Opera house

I'm currently sat in Adelaide airport waiting for our flight to Port Lincoln. For some stupid reason I thought a stopover of four hours sounded like a good idea. It wasn't. Luckily Adelaide airport has free, fairly decent wifi.

Yesterday I left my job at the National Breast Cancer foundation which was actually quite sad. In the three months I was there the guys made me feel really welcome and made my time working in Sydney pretty pleasant.

Aswell as leaving my job I also said goodbye to our hostel (which wasn't that sad as it's a pretty grim hostel) and Jody and I were waved off by a humongous flying cockroach who wouldn't leave our room, wonderful.

Sydney has been great. At first we missed home but soon we realised we were living in one of the coolest cities in the world. There's always something to do, something to see and apart from the constant rain (seriously, blazing sunshine Mon-Fri then rain Sat-Sun) we had a blast.

I really hope I get to see Sydney again some day but for now it's goodbye and onwards to Port Lincoln!

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Sunday, 13 December 2015

Ten Things I actually want for Christmas as a traveller

christmas lights

1. Cash
Let's face it, who wouldn't like a whole heap of cash for Christmas? As a traveller cash is No.1 priority - You gotta pay the bills somehow.

2. A Bath
After months of living in hostels with dirty floors, poor water pressure and varying temperature my aching back would kill somebody for a bath right now. Bring on S.E Asia and the affordable hotels.

3. Socks
I'm one of those people who has to wear socks with trainers and due to numerous unpacking and re-packing my socks seem to be dwindling in numbers.

4. New Trainers
I wrecked my No.1 black Vans sweet potato picking (bellend) and my cute dog print ones are starting to get a bit worse for wear. K-Mart ones fall off your feet within a week so new trainers are definitely on my list.

5. A Hard Drive
I keep telling myself I should get a hard drive for numerous reasons but can't justify the cost. If someone were to get me one however...

6. A Roast Dinner
I so wish hostels had ovens and I so so wish there was some kind of teleportation device that could send one over like RIGHT NOW.

7. Someone to take my bag home
No matter how much stuff I bin, or send home, my bag is still stupidly heavy and I don't want to take it to Asia. If someone had told me we would have been going home via Asia I'd have just brought carry on and that's it.

8. A Mosquito Genocide
This ones one for the big man if he's reading this. Mosquitos are pointless, annoying, buzzy little pricks who should vanish from the face of the planet. Why are tigers going extinct but not mozzies?

9. Flight Vouchers
Much like Cash, flight vouchers would come in handy, especially when it comes to getting the big, expensive flight home. Failing that, I can always save them for the next adventure...

10. Books
I've been using the Kindle App since I left and I don't care what other people say, it isn't the same. As soon as I get home I am back on to the real deal. Sure books are a pain to carry but just one wouldn't hurt would it?
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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Why I haven't written about my time in The Whitsundays



Back in October I went to Airlie Beach: The gateway to the Whitsunday Islands.  In the pictures the Whitsundays looks a place that dreams are made of. Jody and I were told so many times how lucky we were to be going and after reading and hearing so many positive accounts of people's time there, we were expecting paradise and sadly it just didn't live up to our expectations.

We stayed at the Airlie Waterfront Backpackers which was awesome. It was right on the beach as the name suggests and it was a fairly reasonable price for three nights in a double room (We also got an upgrade for the first time ever - Woo!). Airlie Beach itself was wicked - good food, good shops, good people - and we loved the little seaside town vibe it had going on.

The first day we went on a half day kayak with Salty Dog Sea Kayaking which was amazing. I am super unsporty and super unfit so I was expecting to be really bad at it but turned out to be really, really good. I won't go into it as we still have an underwater camera waiting to be developed with all the pictures on it so the kayaking is a whole other blog post in itself!

So yeah the first day was good, beautiful weather, beautiful scenery - Just what we expected.
 
 
Proof that I really did kayak! Image from Salty Dog Sea Kayaking
 
On our second day we booked a day tour on a Cruise Whitsundays boat which would take us to three Whitsunday Islands - Daydream, Hamilton and Whitsunday. The cruise took us to a resort on Daydream with the biggest live man-made reef in the world. They also had a big old lemon shark called Bruce.

Next up was Hamilton Island which was beautiful but stank of money (the rich and holiday gravitate towards it due to it's privacy and up market hotels). We had a potter around and had an amazing lunch at the Marina Tavern before heading over to the main event - An afternoon at Whitsunday Island.
 

 
Hamilton Island Marina
 
Obviously when we were at Daydream & Hamilton the weather was beautiful - blue skies, warm with a light breeze but when we arrived at Whitehaven Beach the wind picked up and the clouds started to roll in. Just our luck.
 
Due to time constraints, everyone tended to stick to the end of the beach where we got dropped off as we didn't have much time there. This meant big crowds and if we went to find our own little slice of paradise we could have ended up spending an evening camped on the beach waiting for the next day's boat to pick us up.
 
 
Before the clouds came to say hello
 
I was a little bit let down by the Whitsundays.
 
It wasn't the cruise companies fault, it wasn't our fault, we just got unfortunate with the weather. I would definitely recommend others who want to go to the Whitsundays to allow time for a full day at Whitsunday Island thought so you can take your time and see the Hill Inlet (the generic Whitsunday photo you see when you google it...Blue ocean swirled with white sand).

So there you have it. Make sure you have enough time in the Whitsundays to see everything you want to see, don't rush it and check the weather forecast!

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Friday, 4 December 2015

The Travel Link Up: December


This month's travel link up could obviously only be about one thing: CHRISTMAS. It's going to be quite weird spending the festive period without my family in a country that a) doesn't celebrate Christmas and b) is ridiculously hot. 

I've already mentioned how I feel about spending Christmas abroad but the more I think about it the less I'm dreading it. It's something completely new and aswell as that, it's Jody and I's first Christmas without any presents to buy, family to visit or friends to drink with - It's our first Christmas just the two of us, which I think will be quite nice in a way.

Just because I'm not completely dreading it though doesn't mean I'm not gunna miss some Christmassy things...

The Lead Up.
I love the Christmas lead up - the music, the films, the TV, the markets, the decorations, the lights...December is just magical and everyone just seems in a brilliant mood throughout December.

The Weather.
We are quite lucky in Yorkshire because at some point or another we tend to get snow. This means Woolly hats and scarves, thick jumpers and boots - my favourites. Failing that it's pretty nice to watch from out of the window with the heating turned up to the max.

The Food.
Yorkshire puddings, potatoes, carrots, meat, M&S mini rolls, OMG. *Insert Homer Simpson style drool here* I could go on and on about food all day but I won't.

The Family.
My family are completely crackers but in the best way possible. Christmas is fun and it's loud and it's full of games which is how Christmas should be in my opinion.

Hop on over to Emma, Kelly, Rebecca or Ayla's blogs to check out the other link ups and get yourself in the Christmas spirit!

Are any of you guys spending Christmas abroad this year? How do you feel about it?

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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Ten things you should know before heading to Gili Trawangan


Since I got home from Indonesia in August all I've told people is that they HAVE to go to the Gili islands. A short boat ride from Bali, the island is full of life, adventure and fun and it's a must if you are in Indonesia.

1. You can barter down your boat fare.
We were having a few drinks at a restaurant in Seminyak when we got chatting with a waiter/travel agent. We mentioned Gili T and he said he would give us return transfers for 650,000 IDR each ($65 or 30 quid) instead of the usual 1,200,000 IDR fare. We saw people who paid more and people who paid less so you can always try your luck and haggle down.

We went with Semaya One cruise.

2. And the boat won't always be on time.
I was waiting on Gili Trawangan for two hours to catch the boat back to Bali - I won't complain thought, it wasn't exactly the worst two hours of my life!

3. Don't let the harbour fool you.
I thought the harbour was a bit messy and a bit of a let down but walk 10 minutes down the path and you are in Indonesian paradise.

4. Be very aware of Arak and mushie shakes.
Arak is an south east asian drink that comes from palm trees and tends to be really cheap. Don't be drawn to it by the price tag though as this stuff can be lethal due to uncontrolled amounts of alcohol. Also be aware of 'happy' shakes that are laced with magic mushrooms...No-one wants a medical emergency on a desert island.

5. There's a lot of sales people on the beach.
This can be annoying for some but Jody and I weren't really bothered. Just be polite and say no thanks and they tend to leave you alone. The guys we spoke too were really nice and loved trying out their cockney accents on us.

6. But in the proper shops they won't haggle
So on the mainland you can probably get those nice Ray Benz sunglasses for at $2-3 but they don't play that game on Gili T because where else are you gunna go? All the shops have the same kinda price so you can't try the whole 'it was cheaper next door' trick.

7. The island only takes 2-3 hours to walk around.
The island has 3 modes of transport: foot, bike or horse and cart. Unless you have loads of luggage, take a nice walk to your hotel because it really won't take long and that way you give a poor horse a break from taking you ten minutes down the road.

PS When you hear the horse and cart bells coming stand to the side because they don't stop for no-one.

8. There are locals on the island so be respectful. 
Although Gili Trawangan is a pretty commercial island now, there are still people who live there full time and have lived there for a while. Be respectful, don't be too loud around there homes and don't be a dick and make a mess on the roads and beaches.

9. The pharmacy is quite expensive.
Jody had to go to the pharmacy for some lip balm (he's obsessed and couldn't wait to get to the mainland) and ended up paying $25 bucks for a tub of Vaseline. He's crazy I know. Make sure you takes some bits and bobs with you to save you some money (Plasters, paracetamol, condoms, mosquito spray and the like).

10. You might not want to leave.
36 hours on Gili T wasn't enough for us and we found ourselves seriously considering staying another night despite the risk of missing our flight back to Perth. We heard some chicks saying they'd ended up staying there for two weeks instead of two nights so don't have too much of a fixed schedule.

Gili Trawangan truly is a beautiful place although the amount of young backpackers there may put some people off. If you can look past that you are bound to have a wicked time and go home with some pretty sweet memories.
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