Playing Catch Up …Warlu Way, Western Australia

Due to yet another change of plans, Dave and I decided to take some time off work and go on a (not so) little road trip. We travelled along the Warlu Way. According to Aboriginal legend, the Warlu was a serpentine creature that travelled through the Pilbara and, along the North West Australian coast. We followed the Warlu Way for most of our adventure but also added in some other little beauties.

Warlu Way

Warlu Way

After setting off from Newman nice and early, we steadily made our way through Pilbara terrain to Nanutarra. Originally, we were hoping to make it all of the way to Coral Bay. However, we wouldn’t make it before nightfall. In the outback, nightfall brings stray cattle and Kangaroos  to the road. Not all is bad though. The skies at night are absolutely breathtaking, Quite literally. The first time I saw the Milky Way, I had to take a moment to realise how fortunate I was to be travelling!

Anyway, in order to get to Nanutarra we had to drive through Karijini, Tom Price and Puraburdoo. A few things increased as we made our way inland; the temperature, the price of fuel and, the amount of flies. Oh, the flies! The little blighters would land on your face and keep coming back- no matter how many times you’d swat them away! Driving through the outback also offered beautiful scenery. We’d drive for hours and only pass a handful of other drivers. All of whom would give the almost-obligatory wave as we passed.

The next couple of days were spent between Coral Bay, Exmouth and Cape Range National Park. All of which were stunningly beautiful. I have a feeling that I’m going to overuse the words stunning and breathtaking  in this piece. Mainly because this area of Australia is simply that! We enjoyed baked goods, cold beers and the sound of the sea. Oh my gosh, the sea! Quite possibly the most beautiful ocean beaches I have ever seen.

Since visiting Bali, I have managed to gradually overcome my fear of the sea. Which is a good job because if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have been able to snorkel in the world heritage listed Ningaloo reef! Whilst being in the blue, we managed to see an abudance of fish and coral. As well as a couple of reef sharks! Despite being slightly freaked out, I can now say I swan with sharks…in the wild!

From exmouth we made our way to Karratha. According to the guide books, there was naff all here – Just another mining town. So we weren’t expecting much. However, we were over the moon with what Karratha had to offer. Civilisation! This town had an abudance of shops, fast food outlets, a coastline as well as proper roads! Coming from the middle of nowhere to somewhere like Karratha was just a delight to all of our senses! After spending some of hard earned dollars on McDonald’s and in Kmart we decided to drive a little further, toward the Dampier Peninsular. We found a tiny caravan park just a stones throw from the water so, perched ourselves there got the night.

The following morning we were off to find some Aborignal rock engravings on the peninsula. This was something I really wanted to see whilst up north. Finding the art was a little more complicated that our (very basic) map had lead us to believe. Long story short, we had gone a turning too far and spent two hours looking in the wrong place! Just as we were leaving in the van, Dave noticed another turning and alas, there they were. Rock engravings that had been made thousands of years ago! I am so glad we managed to find them as missing them out would have been a real shame.

Our next driving stint took us in the direction of Broome. If my memory serves me right, we split the drive over two days. Stopping in a free camp spot one night to enjoy a bonfire and a glass of wine, with the Milky Way above us.

We ended up spending four days in Broome – it was absolutely beautiful. Whilst we were there we stayed at Roebuck Bay Caravan Park. As a kid I was fortunate enough to go camping all of the time but, nothing like this. The ocean was bright turquoise and the sand was white. Every morning we woke up to sunshine and the sound of the sea. Not all was glamorous though. The van was like a sweat box! The mixture of heat and humidity did make it an uncomfortable nights sleep at times.

Cable Beach

                           Cable Beach

Whilst in Broome we visited Matso’s brewery, China town and experienced the almost compulsory camel ride along Cable Beach! The camel ride was definitely a highlight of the trip. Not only was it enjoyable for us but,  you could see how well the camels were cared for.Our humped back buddy was called Eligh and apparently was a’really cool’ camel.  Broome was a fantastic end to our trip and reminded us what we had come to Australia to do- travel! But of course, you can’t travel without putting in the graft!

So after ten hot, jam-packed, exciting days we headed back to base in Newman. Crashing into a proper bed with aircon was an an amazing feeling after that time in the van!

Playing Catch up….Bali (June 2014)

Ahhhhh I’m in Bali! As I’m writing this. I am travelling on a fast boat heading towards the Gili Islands. The fact that I almost didn’t come on this trip is horrifying! The girls had the trip booked for almost two weeks. Me on the other hand, booked the flight two hours before leaving for the airport! After all, You Only Live Once! 
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As we stepped off the plane at Densapar airport, we were greeted with heat and ‘the smell of holiday’! There was a bit of drama arriving, as the flight was delayed by almost two hours and, our taxi driver couldn’t find our hotel. But, four hours and a dog chase later, we were tucked up in our Bali bed! Lovely. 

Waking up to sunshine and warmth was amazing.  Our morning began with a cup of tea and a quick dip in the pool. After a relaxing start to the day, we had a saunter around Kuta and Seminyak. To be honest, I didn’t really think much of either. The two areas did not mirror the Eat Pray Love-esque Bali that I had read about. Rather, the Aussie equivalent of Marbella; with its Western restaurants and over-priced boutiques! Of course, if that’s what you’re after it would be amazing. However, we were in search of some tranquility and culture.

Conveniently, tranquility and culture was only a two hour boat trip away. Via Gilli Air and Lombok, we finally stopped at Gilli Trawangan. Warm azure waters, white sands and a bright blue sky greeted us at this tropical paradise. Whilst we were on Gilli T, we stayed at Permata bungalows. For 133K IRP (£7) p.p.p.n, we had a spacious room with air-con and delicious breakfast. Furthermore, the staff here could not do enough for us!  

After settling in to our Balinese bungalow we headed out to see what nightlife the island had to offer. As we were there during Rammadam, the scene wasnt exactly buzzing. however, the Irish Bar jumped on to the fact that music couldnt be played past 11 and conjured up an amazing silent disco! 

Despite the easy flowing Bintags the night before, the next morning we saddled up and hopped on some Tandem bikes! The six of us trying to balance on these lime green bikes was a sight all of the locals enjoyed. In between the giddy cycling, we decided to do some snorkelling. This was the first time I have been in the sea properly, for about eight years! After freaking out whilst on holiday previously, I have never really been comfortable in the water. Luckily, the girls were there to ease me in and help me get to grips with the snorkel. Ten minutes in the shallows allowed me to get comfortable, before paddling out over the coral. It was beautiful! An array of fish swam beneath and around us. On the second trip out, some of the girls were lucky enough to swim alongside turtles. 

Once we had dried off and grabbed some food, we cycled over to the other side of the island to watch the sunset. With the mountain sat behind the burning sun and a freshly cut coconut in hand, we were sat in our very own postcard.

The next day was somewhat of a fancy one. We relaxed at the Blue Pearl Beach Club all day. To use the facilities we each had to spend 100,000 rupiah. That covered the cost of a nice meal and a drink in the swim up bar. Like I said…fancy! Despite our day of leisure, a couple of us weren’t feeling too good. Possible cases of Bali belly,I think! Despite a lengthy power cut on our return , we all managed to get ready and fo for dinner at Scally Wags. The food was delicious ; a BBQ and sald bar. After fully satisfying our stomachs, we strolled up to the other end of the beach and sat around the bonfire with a Bintang!  

The next day was party day! Not its official title, but rather the ‘Drunken Monkeyz’ party boat. We Sailed around the Gili’s and then stopped just offshore Lombok for a swim. However, in order to swim we had to hurl ourselves off the side of the boat! I knew if I thought about it too much I wouldn’t do it. So, as soon as there was space,I held my nose and just went for it. After a quick dip, we all (rather ungracefully) clambered back aboard and set sail again. The music was blaring, the cocktails were cold and, the sun was setting across the ocean. It was not a bad place to be! 

After some serious chilling out on Gilli T, we caught a rather chaotic boat back to the mainland. By chaotic, I mean ‘my life flashed before my eyes’! We decided to go on the sun deck of the boat. This was NOT a good idea. We lost water bottles, scarves and  nearly our lives on the top of that boat. At first, it was hilarious but, after twenty minutes of holding on for dear life we had to get back down to the main cabin. This wasn’t very enjoyable either. A few us managed to keep our dinner down but some of us…not so lucky! 

Traumatic experience over, we then had to catch a bus and walk for half an hour in the rain. Finally, we arrived at our gorgeous hotel in Ubud, Pondok Bulan Mas. These beautiful, traditional-style rooms were the perfect base whilst we explored the town. After sorting ourselves out and drying off, we all went out for dinner and a mooch around.

Our last couple of days in Bali were relaxed. We shopped in local markets, drank tea in rice paddy cafés and, watched the monkeys swing through the trees. On our final day, we hired a driver and saw some of Bali’s highlights including, Tannah Lot temple.  The temple was set on the coast and was simply stunning to look at. As were the other other ‘attractions’ we visited throughout the day.

The people and sights of Bali were absolutely beautiful. So if the island uses the rest of Indonesia as an example, I definitely think I will be back to explore in the future! 

Photos from Bali are here….

Lazy Blogging…

So, I haven’t written a blog post in nine months. This is not good…at all! Sitting in my Evernote app are four partially written pieces. One for the beautiful Bali and the others for Australia! The problem I have now, is that we have started travelling again! So not only do I need to catch up with my old blog post but also, write new pieces!!

The task is daunting but I’m sure I can manage it! Watch this space….

Melbourne

So, we’ve made it across to the other side of the world, 10631 miles away from home! …G’DAY AUSTRALIA!

After seven or so hours, our flight from Singapore touched down in Melbourne. Coming through the airport felt like the beginning of a completely new adventure. I’m not sure if this was because we were here to work or, because of the cultural similarities Aus’ has to the UK. Either way, I was excited! Excited to see what all of the hype was about and, why so many ‘Pommys’ are now calling Australia home!

G'day Australia

G’day Australia

Our first two weeks in Melbourne , were spent at Discovey Melbourne Hostel. This place was massive, a somewhat super-hostel; Only super by size though. Looking back, Discovery was pretty grim. Cockroaches scurried in the kitchen, bedrooms weren’t hoovered, and the price was way too high for the stuffy, cramped rooms! Luckily we didn’t spend much time in the hostel as we were busy sorting out our bank accounts, Medicare, phones and, looking for a place to live. Oh the joys of flat hunting. We went to visit one place and it was terrifying – I refused to go in! The door had a huge padlock on it, the windows were black with dirt  and, there was a flee-ridden dog in the back yard! Definitely not the same property that was advertised on Gumtree!

After viewing a few different places, we settled upon a two bedroom flat share in St.Kilda. The flat itself was a bit dated but, the location was amazing. Behind us was the famous Ackland St and at the end of the street was the beach. I absolutely loved St. Kilda!! Quirky stores and decadent cake shops lined the streets, public spaces were occupied by market stalls on the weekends and, outdoor yoga classes were the norm!  However, after two weeks our flatmates became really uncomfortable to live with. The combination of weird flatmates, a crappy job and Dave not being able to get a job, lead us to the decision to move on.

At the end of the street...

At the end of the street…

Before we moved on though, we embraced our Tourist titles and perused the marvellous Melbourne and all it had to offer. We sauntered through lane ways, sipped on amazing coffee, walked along the riverbanks and took in the city’s eclectic art scene. I bloody love Melbourne! It’s no surprise it’s been given the title of , The World’s Most Liveable City for the third year running!

There is street art everywhere in Melbourne – on the side of buildings, down alleyways and on shop fronts. The art here is very clearly that! It’s not graffiti or tagging – it’s real pieces of art  displayed in public spaces so everyone can enjoy it! And enjoy, we did!

Amazing street art

Amazing street art!

As well as appreciating the local art, we also took  advantage of the free activities and events that   were taking place around the city. We visited the famous Queen Victoria night market, where we saw Masterchef being filmed; went to the outdoor wanderlust event;and, watched independent films being aired in Federation square. There always seemed to be something going on somewhere in the city.

Outdoor Yoga

Outdoor Yoga

During our final week in Victoria, we also took time to go and see the funky Brighton beach houses as well take a day trip to Phillip island. Even though we didn’t see the little penguins at Phillip Island,we did get to feed some Wallabies and Kagaroos. Those bad boys are huge…I was not expecting Kagaroos to be THAT big! I wouldn’t like to be at the receiving end of one of their kicks, I’ll tell you that!

Dave meets a 'Roo

Dave meets a ‘Roo

As we didn’t see the local penguins at Phillip island, we went to see some other cuties at St Kilda beach. Hundreds of penguins come back from the sea at night and live amongst the rocks and breakwaters at the end of the pier. It was pretty amazing to see and hear Penguins in the wild…especially at a stones throw away from our flat!

Even though we had planned to stay in Melbourne for a lot longer, the west coast was calling. My fabulous friend Robyn had been calling Perth home for a couple of months now so, we thought it would only be polite to join her and to see what all the fuss was about!

Next stop…Perth!

Singapore!

Oh Singapore. The land of strict regime, the super clean and expense…well that’s what we had been told anyway. However, I was surprised by what we saw in this rather small country. Yes, it was clean and shiny but the people were really friendly and there was still so much local culture. Obviously, there were the super malls and a bustling metro systems but, there were also areas that appeared to escape westernisation.

One main difference between Singapore and the other South East Asian countries that we had visited, was the price of living. We stayed in the 5footway Inn Project Boat Quay.This pretty snazzy hostel was of average price for Singapore  – $33 each a night. However, compared to the  $10 fees we’d been paying elsewhere, this was pretty steep…especially for bunk beds!

Having said that, food and drink was no where near as expensive as I’d imagined. We had been told we were going to pay $20 for a beer and the same for a burger. However, we ate in a local food spot and scored a plate full of amazing chinese food with a beer for around $11.

Dave had his heart set on spending a day at Universal studios whilst we were in Singapore. So that’s what we did. We got up bright and early and headed to Sentosa island for a day of fun! We treated ourselves to the express pass and walked our way past huge queues to ride on attractions such as Transformers and The mummy . Those two rides were definitely the favourites of the day. As we were there on the weekend, we also managed to see the parade. It was somewhat of an expensive day but, it was amazing! I’d never been to a huge theme park like that before.

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Universal studios

We actually didn’t do much else whilst in Singapore. Everyone we had met on our travels advised us to only stay for two nights max! However, I could easily have done four or five! There just seemed to be so much that I wanted to see. If we ever get the chance to do a stopover in Singapore again, I will do a bit more research (and take a bit more money) so I can do all of the things we didn’t get around to this time.

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So, that was our last stop in South East Asia!! In three and a half months we worked our way through seven countries, took a ridiculous amount of buses, ten flights and also lost all of our luggage! It has been eventful but, it has been the best possible start to our nomadic adventures across this beautiful world!

Next stop…Australia!

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Kuching

Travelling from Sandakan to Kuching could have been extremely tedious. However, with a cheap flight with no frills Air Asia, we touched down in K-town within two and a half hours. After the shit storm that was the burning bus, we couldn’t be dealing with a bus-ferry-bus-taxi combo. Especially on Chinese New Year. Yes, that’s right, we decided to fly into Kuching on Chinese New Year. This was a result of our ignorance, as we didn’t realise this is when the main festival day fell. Surprisingly, we didn’t have any problems with our transport but we arrived in a ghost town!

We were staying in Chinatown at the amazing Marco Polo’s guesthouse. I wasn’t too keen on the place when we arrived as there’s were children outside throwing fire crackers at each other! Dave booked this hostel so I questioned the safety of the area when I first saw this! However, after spending a week here,we became immune to the sound and sight of fire crackers!

For the first couple of days ,there wasn’t a lot we could do. The government museums were shut, as were local shops and, public transport was scarce – This was all because of Chinese new year. However, the large shopping mall on the waterfront was open as usual. We spent a few hours here sipping on coffees and getting brain freeze from fro’yo’. That’s frozen yoghurt, in case you didn’t know 🙂 Dave also managed to find a few additions to add to his new collection of clothes.

Marco Polo’s was just like a home away from home. Everything about this place made you feel comfortable; the staff, the decor and the rest of the guests. Everybody here seemed to have taken the chill pill, us included.

One evening, a few of us went on a river cruise which was then followed by dinner. It was quite an eclectic affair. Some Welsh, Australian, Spanish and American travellers cruising on a traditional Sarawak boat, followed by Lebanese food and Thai beer whilst listening to euro trance music…in Borneo?! That mash-up of an evening was then rounded off by German beers and, a few games of Uno!

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River cruise

In between the lie-ins and lazy days, we did adventure to the Sarawak Cultural village. We booked this through a tour company as it only cost us a little more than doing it independently. As we were the only two people on the trip, we were picked up by our own driver (Stephen) in a rather fancy private car.  The lovely Stephen showed us around the village, which illustrated all of the different tribes  that call Sarawak home. That day I was the main target for audience participation. On one occasion I was shown a dance infront of a group of mainly male tourists. They’re cameras and iPads were out and on super-flash mode! Then, the second time I was chosen (out of at least one hundred people),to get on stage and do a tribal dance and,shoot with a blow pipe! I missed the target but I still accumulated a nice round of applause! The dance show was around forty minutes long and, it beautifully demonstrated the traditional dances of the local tribes.

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Cultural Dance Show

Our week in Kuching absolutely flew by. Even though we didn’t do a lot, I think we needed the rest after dealing with the bus fire.

We had spent a whole month in Malaysia and Kuching was the perfect round off. At first, we thought a month was just too long. However, it was just right. We were able to see what we wanted plus, a lot more.

Next stop…Singapore!