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The 28th of December

23rd January 2016

*Note to readers…this is a very late post that I wrote while on the 28th of December. It still felt relevant because January has the special gift of feeling a bit dreary at times. I hope you enjoy.

 

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According to experts*, the 28th of December is apparently the most depressing day of the year. I couldn’t disagree with that statement more. Yes, the turkeys been eaten, the presents have been given out and work is looming but we all know everyone is secretly still wearing Christmas socks.
Then again I am technically still on holiday and excited to see all the UK has to offer so maybe I’m not the best judge.

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I am currently heading to Bournemouth from Wales on the train. It’s a trip I’ve made countless time in the past to visit one of my best friends. But today it feels different.
Ever since arriving back on British soil I have been the world’s biggest tourist. I’ve taken photos of quaint looking stone buildings, giggled at people’s beautiful accents and fallen in love with this country all over again. I’ve even loved the weather, which is saying something.
There is a beauty to the UK that you don’t find anywhere else. People are friendlier and inquisitive. The country is in a constant rally to get through the drizzle and a cup of tea is never far away.  I may have been away too long but coming home this holiday has been an eye opener. I never thought I’d want to settle back home but staring out of the train window at the rolling green fields and the cream brick terrace houses makes me yern to come home for good.
It does help you love a country when every day you see people from your past and laugh until you cry.I live in a small town and it feels like every street has a story from my childhood. Every road I pass has a forgotten game played on it, certain corners are first kisses and every road feels like home.
I love Australia and I can’t wait for future adventures , perhaps in Canada or New Zealand , but boy do I love my green green grass of home.

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* In this scenario the experts is referring to the radio telling me this is a fact.

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Australia – A Re-Cap

16th January 2016

header Well you might have already guessed from our instagram feed, but we are no longer on our grand tour of Asia.

It took us 3 months and 17 days but a few months ago (quite a few months ago now) we arrived in the merry old land of Oz. We were ready to see some Kangaroo’s, put another shrimp on the barbie and many other stereotypical things that i’ve learnt from watching too much Neighbours and having a affinity with The Simpsons episode  where they go to Australia.

Here is a little glimpse of our last few months trekking on a new continent.

Perth & Fremantle

australia11 australia10 Our first stop was Western Australia. Partly because it is the closest part of Australia to Asia and partly because we really wanted to see one of Lee’s best friends. Mo moved to Perth a few years ago and he, his beautiful girlfriend and their adorable dog , made the crazy mistake of letting us use their spare room for a while. Jobs were harder to find than expected but it didn’t take the shine away from our beautiful surroundings.

We were actually living in a small town connected to Perth called Fremantle – or in the traditional Australian way of adding an ‘O’ to the end of all words – Freo. We learnt (and Lee fell in love with ) AFL or the Aussie Rules Football League. I found a job in a craft beer bar and had a wail of a time serving pints and throwing together cocktails with a great bunch of people. They introduced me to a ‘Boilermaker’ and my liver will never be the same again*.  We saw fantastic sunsets and ate so much good food. Our last few days in WA (Western Australia) were spent in Margaret River, which is lovingly known as Wine Country to the locals. I managed to take a trip to wine country while I was suffering the mother of all hangovers . Not the way i’d recommend seeing the place but if it’s pretty when you are carrying a carrier bag ‘just in case’ around with you, then you know it’s got to be good.

australia9 australia13 There is a lot of things we didn’t get to do while we were in WA – mainly due to lack of funds so we will need to go back.   As if seeing Mo, Paula, Diego (the not so tea cup chiuaua) weren’t reason enough to go back , we didn’t get to make it to Rottnest island and see a Quokka (look at their lovely faces here) . But we aren’t too sad. It’s always good to have a reason to go back.

*I will explain what a ‘Boilermaker’ is in other posts but right now the memory is still too clear…urrrr my poor liver.

 

Melbourne

australia6 We didn’t think we would be able to see more of Australia so soon but  I luckily got a job offer at an animation company in Brisbane that was too good to pass up. We decided that instead of flying directly to Brisbane we would take the long route. Our next stop on our whistle stop tour of Australia became Melbourne.

How can you describe Melbourne? I read countless times that it was ‘liveable’ and had no idea what this meant…until we arrived there that was. It is a bustling, fun , delicious and just beautiful.

australia5 We scaled the Eureka building, ate till our bellies were bursting in China town and Lee got to fulfill a life long ambition and go to Melbourne Cricket Ground where we had a fantastic tour and learnt a lot. I’d recommend it to everyone, even if like me you are clueless about cricket.  For me the most important part of the trip was getting to see my favourite band ‘Post Modern Jukebox’ perform. You can see them here…I recommend watching allllll their videos. Seeing them perform was the only reason that our elaborate journey to Brisbane had such a long stop over in Melbourne. Boy are we glad we had the excuse. We can’t wait to go back.

It’s cheesy but i’d recommend the free tourist tram that travels around the centre of the city. Nice views, good information and you can rest your tootsies. australia4 australia8 australia7

Sydney and Manley Bay

australia18 Sydney is of course AMAZING! I felt like I was walking into every story I’d ever heard my mum tell of her childhood. My mum and her three sisters and two brothers moved to Australia when see was just five. It has been one of the reasons i’ve always wanted to see this country. It hasn’t disappointed yet.

We saw bustling Bondi,  the iconic Harbour Bridge , the even more iconic Sydney Opera House and enjoyed every moment of it. We stumbled upon a German beer house and had our fill of German beer. It wasn’t very Australian but we’ve managed to find a German spot in most cities so it felt almost rude not to. There is nothing quite as fun as watching Lee in a German beer bar. He’s like a kid in a candy store – but more drunk.

australia17 australia16 Our favourite part of our trip to Sydney was a day trip to Manly, We assumed that people had suggested this trip for the boat ride that takes you past all the major sights of Sydney so we were both a little taken aback when we arrived on Manly to discover a paradise hidden among the city. Beaches, harbors, blue seas and even a wild cockatoo. We spent the day fantasizing about living on this little piece of heaven. I finally, after years of Lee up-selling this country to me,  understood the pull of Australia and the hold it has on people. I never really thought that I’d be someone who would fall for this country but i’ve fallen hard.

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Brisbane

australia15 Last but definitely not least is our little corner of the continent. We have made Queensland our home for the last few months and boy are we glad that we made the move over here. We have loved each part of Australia, but Brisbane feels like home to us now. We fluked a great little house that has a SPARE bedroom . For two ex-Londoners who couldn’t stretch their arms without touching both sides of the wall , it is bliss. We also have a garage that the optimists in us have turned into a mini gym….or as it should aptly be named ‘the dust farm’.

I am a massive nerd and love animation so I keep pinching myself that the company took a chance on a backpacking weirdo. I’m working my tukas off but it’s the first time in years that I’m excited for my job and at the same time I can’t wait to come home. It’s a weird feeling. Lee is working in a dungeon at a hospital converting horrible case files but I think he secretly likes the organisation of it all (this is the man who’s hobby is Excel after all :D) australia14

Brisbane is much more laid back than Sydney and Melbourne , as pretty as Perth and sunny 362 days a year. We have explored the Sunshine Coast and Hervey Bay where we saw humpback whales froliking in the surf but there is still so much more to see.  We did get treated to a visit from the incredible Kaleena , you may know here as the writer of this incredible blog. I know her as my ice cream partner in crime and America’s top sand castle builder.  It’s been a fun few months and although the idea of moving to a continent with no job and not a lot of money was a terrifying prospect. It has been worth every second. Everything’s coming up Millhouse! Fingers crossed 2016 holds a lot more in store.

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I’ll Be Home For Christmas

30th December 2015

Travel is an incredible thing. It’s the ability to expand your horizon & see things that your grand parents only read about in books. image
When I woke up this morning I was in Tokyo and when I go to sleep tonight I will be the other side of the globe and in the home I grew up in. From one of the busiest cities on the planet to my small little home town hidden away on a hilly valley.
Travel is exciting because it brings with it so many new experience but it can be a curse.
The curse of being away and living life means missing the people you love. Missing people vs. missing out can some times feel like an impossible struggle.
I do know how lucky we are though. I know that if we had wanted to move to Australia forty years ago we may have been on a boat for a month , we would have had to write long letters on blue travel paper that would maybe never reach it’s destination. Trying to communicate with people would have been as painful as pulling teeth (mainly for them because I can barely speak English- as you’ve seen from my writing here). All of this is before we start worrying about mastering a foreign language. image
With skype and sky scanner and Facebook and email, it’s as if you never really miss out completely. I don’t know how people use to do it. We are both in awe of those crazy ‘Magellan-esq’ loons.
Today’s adventure wasn’t our usual type of trip. The plane wasn’t taking me somewhere exotic or new. I wasn’t excited to lay on a pearly white sandy beach or giddy to stare at rainforests. I was ‘cheek hurtingly’ happy because I was going home.

It’s easy to forget sometimes how much you love where you came from. Travelers may moan about the weather or the locals but home is definitely where the heart is…and where the crumpets are. Oh and the Sunday dinners…oh and don’t forget all the delicious Cadburys.
Bridgend is a tiny town that most Welsh people don’t even know about but we love it there.It has made us adventurous, romantic and the curious wanderers that spend two hours queueing in customs and spending days locked in the toilet because you just had to have one of those *insert any crappy street food that you bought down an alley*.

image This Christmas I will be listening to my family play games while The Muppets Christmas Carol plays on TV for maybe the 50th time. We won’t have any presents to give because we are stupidly poor from the tear-jerking cost of our tickets but luckily I think I’m going home to a house full of people that won’t mind too much.
Travel can be incredible , it can be
tiring, thrilling and wonderous but traveling home will always be one of my favourite trips. It does help that I take my partner in crime and my little piece of home in human form along for the ride.

This Christmas I am happy to say that Lee and I are in rainy Wales, watching crappy TV and moaning to our families and you know what… I would change that for anything in all the world.

 

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Gili Meno – The Girl and The Sea

20th October 2015

gilimeno_04 Gili Meno is the smaller of the three Gili Isles so you’d assume it would be less developed, but you’d be wrong. Gili Meno has the feel of a rich persons playground, or at least a middle class persons sandbox. There are nicer bars, bigger shops and lovely hotels lining the main area of beach…and then there is nothing. This island feels like it’s about to be a crazy popular tourist destination, but right now it’s still peaceful and well stocked. I still prefer Gili Air , but I’m glad we went.

We basically repeated our first few days on Gili Air, but with a little more snorkeling and a lot more sleeping. Being lazy turns out to be hard work.

gilimeno_05 gilimeno_03 I don’t have photos of our snorkeling adventures (Go Pro, you will be mine). It mainly involved me having a panic attack the second I stepped in the water and climbing onto Lee as if I was Scooby Doo. He calmed me down and I soon got use to the tide and the current, which is very strong on the Gili’s. We also both had to master the art of walking on the sharpest rocks known to man. I swear that Gili Meno once had a boat filled with broken glass crash on it’s shore and now it’s coast is a challenge even John McClane would fear.

gilimeno_07 gilimeno_02 We persevered and managed to snorkel enough to see a casting session for Finding Nemo down there. Bruised, battered and bleeding from the coral I headed back to the comfort of my sun lounger, happy with my day’s sightings. I told Lee I was tired, but the truth is I was scared my tiny cut was chumming the water enough for all the worlds sharks to descend on me . While I was shading myself from the midday sun I looked out to see a flailing Lee in the water. I instantly assumed a herd of Jelly Fish were trying to get his lunch money and I started to panic. There was no one around so I had to wait like a nervous maiden in a Bronte novel as Lee came back to the beach.

A manic Lee finally made his way to me and started dragging me into the water…”come on, come and see”.

I instantly assumed he had Sea madness and fought him off.

“Why do I need to go in the sea?” I screamed, digging my heels into the sand.

This is the part in the story where Lee turned to me with a face filled with more excitement and glee than I’d ever witnessed and screamed “theresaturtleinthewater”. That, by the way, is not a spelling mistake. He definitely didn’t put a single breath or break in his joyful sentence.

We waded out into the late afternoon waves , which were swelling quite a lot and becoming quite scary. Lee tied his size 13 waterproof shoes tightly on to my tiny feet so that I didn’t lose a toe on the razor like coral and we swam out to the deep waters. This is where it all started to go wrong. Lee’s shoes got tangled on my feet and were getting pulled the wrong way by the current, Lee was swimming far ahead and my mask was leaking water into my eyes that contained more salt than the rim of a good margarita. Suddenly all the water around me turned freezing and I felt I was getting pulled down. Panicking comes natural to me anyway but at that moment even Woody Allen would have asked me to “geez lady, just calm down” (please read this sentence in Mr Allen’s voice for full effect).

Lee was too far away to help so as I got dragged down I had to compose myself and untangle the shoes with my eyes closed telling myself that as soon as it was fixed I could just swim to the surface. Unfortunately I was wrong and I was never seen again…. No , of course not otherwise you’d be luck enough to not be reading this drivel. I resurfaced , emptied and tightened my goggles and went back down into the water just in time to see a beautiful sea turtle swim past us and away into the very wide, very blue, very scary ocean. Lee and I were elated. We hadn’t expected to see one at all and felt very privileged to have been given the chance to see this fantastic animal in the wild. We left the water on a high, my high not only from the turtle sighting but from the exhilaration of remembering how to function like a normal human in the water and not let my anxiety take over. That sea be damned scary.

Over all the Gili’s completely shocked us. The coffee was foamy, the people nice , the cocktails plentiful and the views…spectacular. I am not going to lie to you, I am extremely happy that Australia happens to be within a long weekend distance of these small islands. See you soon Gili.

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Well deserved wine and a cut up leg.

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Gili Air – Who Knew Water Could Be That Blue?

18th October 2015

giliair_07 By the time we got to Gili Air we were 11 countries in. Before we even stepped onto our boat we felt ready to just get to Australia and start our next adventure. We couldn’t imagine prettier beaches that the Philippines or a more relaxing atmosphere than Koh Rong Samloem in Cambodia. We were a bit exhausted from travel and ready to never pack a bag again. Luckily we stuck with the plan and arrived on the beautiful Gili Air.

Gili Air is one of the three Gili islands in Lombok. It is wedged between the tiny island of Gili Meno and the large , very popular island of Gili T. We decided right away to skip Gili T for the same reasons we skipped Kuta Bali. We heard it was filled with young teenagers on gap years eating magic mushrooms and partying into the wee hours. We looooooove a good party. In fact my liver’s future health was probably the main factor in needing to leave Korea , but after all these months we just wanted to do nothing. Not ‘tours of the island, climing mountains’ kind of nothing but actual ‘lay on the beach for a disgusting amount of time’ type of nothing.

Gili Air was exactly what we had hoped for. No cars, no fuss…just pure beautiful laziness on sand.

giliair_04 giliair_01 Our only major issue with Gili Air was that we were as poor as poor can be by this time. We were counting the pennies (or as I like to call them, cocktail tokens). There was only one atm that was almost always out of money, and we were hoping to pay by card as much as possible. This lead to a lot of walking around the island, which you can do easily in an hour or two. Each morning we would find a beautiful beach bar, ask if they took card and get a few lost looks. When we would eventually find a bar that took card, they would get the pleasure of our company until the sun had long thrown in the towel. In one bar they had sun lounges on the beach and our days were filled with reading, snorkelling and spring rolls. Eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in one bar was surprisingly liberating. They also obviously wou giliair_05 giliair_06 ld want to get rid of us and top up our cocktails with a little too much island liquor. We loved it.

We spent three days on our arses and I regret nothing. I did wonder how a holiday island would work that was mainly Muslim , but it was very respectful and surprisingly tolerant of Westerners skimpily clothed and drinking. This might sound naive to some people reading this, but after living in Saudi Arabia for a number of years it was a fantastic surprise. The call the prayer at 5am was actually quite soothing and reminded me of the early hours in Saudi where the songs would come floating through the house. If you are a light sleeper I’d make sure your hostel or hotel isn’t near the one main mosque on the island, but if like us you don’t check and are right next to it, it’s still easy to sleep. Coming from me this means a lot since the sound of an ant tickling its cousin could wake me.

giliair_08 giliair_09 giliair_10 After Gili Air we begrudgingly moved on to Gili Meno. We loved Gili Air so much that we couldn’t believe we were leaving it. Luckily we did because Gili Meno is just as lovely if not even quieter. ….but I’ll save that long winded tale for another time. Mainly because I want to throw more pictures of blue azure seas and random cocktails at your eye holes.

Happy Weekend Everyone. signature

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Nusa Ceningan – Wrinkly Fingers and Scooters.

11th October 2015

banner After relaxing in the tiny town of Ubud we did what any smart person would do and instantly went somewhere to relax even more…oh it’s a hard life.

We settled on the tiny island of Nusa Ceningan. While still officially Bali , this tiny island that is attached to Nusa Lembongan is a little off the coast of the main tourist area of Kuta. It is a forgotten island by most tourists so it is extremely untouched. No atms*, no real roads and beautiful untouched scenery are what you’ll find on this tiny island. There are some roads but they look like a blind giant got drunk and laid them.

nusacennigan17 The only problem with wanting to go to a tiny remote area is that getting there is a pain in the arse. There were quite a few boats but they basically wanted you to donate your kidneys to buy a seat. We decided to take the risk and take the local boat. After 3 months of travel we liked the word ‘local’. It normally translated to ‘cheap’. This local boat was A LOT cheaper, which should have been a sign. We soon discovered that we should have just paid through the nose for the other boat. At least there was a chance our nose would still be attached to our face after that trip…on this rickety, packed to the rafters boat…we would be lucky to be alive.

In the 5 foot waves we waded out with our bags to the floating shack. At one point a wave hit me that was so strong it took my feet from under me. We finally boarded the boat, soaking wet and ready to hit the (very) high seas. This is when we were told in broken English that some more cargo needed to arrive. We were already sitting on and among an array of boxes of all shapes and sizes so I dreaded to think what was on its way. What came aboard was two hundred ,ten foot planks of wood, a fridge freezer and of course, a motorcycle. Watching 4 men try to move a heavy bike onto a tiny boat while getting battered by waves was extremely entertaining and improved the trip immensely.

nusacennigan03 We were finally on our way and woozy from the petrol fumes. We pulled up to a beach covered in men screaming ‘TAXI’ at us. We knew we had a pick up from our hotel waiting so started looking for our people. They were nowhere to be found until finally one of the taxi men got excited and everyone started pointing at some people walking away from the beach. We ran up to these two and had to convince them that we were in fact the people staying at their hotel. They were having none of it. A recurring problem we’ve discovered while traveling on this trip is:

  1. Lee is an Asian name
  2. We booked our flights and hotels from Korea.

 

Everyone thought that Lee and I we would be Korean on arrival, most didn’t seem to mind but I could tell that some people had been brushing up on their ‘hangul’ for our arrival and were slightly disappointed in the pastie faced Westerners arriving on their doorstep .

 

nusacennigan02 nusacennigan01 We jumped on board their tiny scooters, covered in bags and started the ride to Nusa Ceningan and our hotel. About half way on our journey along the bumpiest roads I’ve ever experienced, I turned around slightly and couldn’t see Lee and his driver anywhere. I started to worry so shouted in the ear of the young girl driving that we’d lost them. I now knew her extremely well since I was clinging on to her for dear life. She paused for a while and waited but there was still no sign of them. She made the executive decision to carry on and hope they were just taking in the sights. What had actually happened was Lee’s guides bike couldn’t handle the weight of two grown men and three suitcases, so had given out. Lee had to get off and walk up any hill that lay ahead of their path. This is probably a good time to note that even mountain goats would come to Nusa Ceningan and think it was too ‘hilly.’

Finally Lee and his guide arrived at the hotel and we were given our beautiful room. It over looked our ‘private’ pool. It wasn’t meant to be private, but the two other villas were empty so for all intensive purposes we decided that it was our pool for the week.

nusacennigan05 nusacennigan06 nusacennigan11 We stayed at the ‘Da Fish’ Hotel and I’d recommend it to anyone. Great views, fantastic food brought straight to your balcony, lovely people and great location for seeing the blue lagoon.

We did nothing for the week apart from ride our scooter around the island and **prune our fingers. Hiring a scooter is something we never thought we’d do. Scooters are always part of peoples horrible travel stories. But without a scooter it’s impossible to get around Nusa Ceningan or Nusa Lembongan. We drove around, saw the island, ate at tiny restaurants and watched the sun set, but most 50% of the time was spent in the ‘private’ pool. We were definitely those smug annoying tourists for a few days.

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best part of travel? All the puppies and kittens

nusacennigan12 nusacennigan09 nusacennigan08 Nusa Ceningan is a tiny place but perfect for a couple. If you are travelling on your own or with your friends then I’d say Nusa Lembongan is better. More restaurants, music bars and even a local outdoor cinema. A bit more life to it and more places to drink, but for us Nusa Ceningan was where we belonged. Everyone needs to find a place they can pretend to be fancy tourists in once and a while. nusacennigan16

Lee throwing all the moves

Lee throwing all the moves

This is definitely the forgotten island and I’d recommend it.

*there is one atm but it is rarely filled. I think that it probably empties before the money delivery guy is even back on his boat. You can get money out from the money exchanges for a fee in an emergency, such as a ‘we need more pina colada’s’ emergency like we had.

** Pruning fingers is when your fingers have been wet for a long time and they get wrinkly. Lee laughed a lot when I used this term and I discovered it wasn’t a universal or even a local phrase.

Let’s Go To Asia – Travel Video

27th September 2015

So as the astute among you may have noticed, we are already finished with our trip. We are in lovely Australia. I still have a few posts about our trip to come, but I recently finished editing this little video together and couldn’t wait to share it.

So here is just a few of the best parts of our trip:

Ubud – Chilling out, Maxing, Relaxing All Cool

19th September 2015

header Oh Ubud. I thought I was in love with you before we even arrived. I had lived vicariously through blog posts, books and the eloquent ‘word of mouth’ that you have inspired. I always knew that our trip would include Ubud. I just hoped it would live up to the sky high expectations I’d already put on it.

We arrived for our 5 day adventure at Bali airport and were both amazed. Airports aren’t exactly known for being stylish or very different from one another. Bali airport is very different, they have redone the airport and have made sure that your first impression is a good one. A huge entrance gate full of statues and fresh flowers greets you from the plane. It really sets the holiday off to a good start. ubud006 ubud002 ubud001 ubud005

Then came our long taxi ride to our hotel. Ubud is about 45 minutes away from the airport and it was so dark that Ubud kept itself hidden. We arrived at our hotel and we experienced the magic that is an Ubud hotel. Many of the hotels have been built into temples so when you walk in you are faced with the detailed stone mosaiques, the smell of sandalwood and the beautiful flowers strewn all over the temple floor.

Just a casual street in UBUD

Just a casual street in UBUD

We woke up to the sounds of the jungle and we couldn’t wait to explore.

Ubud is bizarre, it’s a vibrant, funky little space. Hipster-ish but in the best kind of way. Walking around Ubud makes me want to do nothing but eat healthy, do yoga and drink smoothies. Everywhere you look there are temples, small markets and beautiful flowers.

The Balinese culture is so unique and probably one of my favourite cultures to discover. Each store and home has a small bamboo bowl filled with candles and flowers which is their daily tribute to the gods. They believe in family and don’t really believe in leaving Bali or in some cases even Ubud. This was especially strange to discover while talking to a local. He asked me and Lee a million questions about our exploits, but when it came time for him to decide if he’d love to see these places for himself he seemed completely content where he was. He said ‘Balienese people love stories but we love home more’. Bali is unique because it has somehow kept its traditional charm while still being very modern. Each restaurant still stares out onto endless rice paddies, Balinese traditions are everywhere you look and yet you can still use atm’s and buy anything you could possibly imagine. Other places around the world could definitely learn something from Ubud on how to retain their charm as tourism starts to take over.

ubud007 ubud013 We were lucky that a day after we arrived we were joined in Ubud by our friends Carly and Conner. Carly is my Ubud guru. Not only did she introduce me to the place but she also introduced me to the wonder that is Yoga. After just one class I was hooked. It only made sense that since we were in Ubud we would have to go to the one and only Yoga Barn. The Yoga Barn was made famous in Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and has become THE place for yogi’s from around the world to relax and display their skills. Having a class here guarantees not only a beautiful setting but the knowledge that you are being taught by the best of the best.

Even though I’d read a lot about the place it was nothing like I thought it would be. I have only been to two different yoga studios I suppose so I am not an expert, but I thought it would be a building with a large room for yoga…nope! It’s huge! There are cafes, restaurants, and a garden area with a stream. This is all leading to a huge open air atrium that goes down to a great (if not very expensive) yoga shop and of course the large yoga room. You could easily spend a week here. I wish we’d had time to do more than one class but we just did the one and I loved every moment of it. One of the reasons I’m looking forward to staying in one place for a while is so I can get back into a good fitness routine. It’s not impossible on the road and there are countless bloggers that look amazingly fit and healthy while they travel, but Lee and I love being lazy and eating our way around the world when we travel which doesn’t leave much room for gyming it.

indo3 ubud008 We honestly just spent 5 days being pampered, eating and driving bikes around this beautiful town. We got to see one of Lee’s favourite animals, monkeys in the monkey forest. I’ve never seen him as happy as when he had a monkey on his shoulder. We ate incredible food. Hummus, fresh fruit, olives and delicious treats are abundant in Ubud. The massages are super cheap so we had quite a few of them and were instantly annoyed that we hadn’t had more during our Asia experience.

ubud012 ubud011 ubud010 ubud009 It is a beautiful place and I’m sad that we couldn’t spend more time there. I think it’s definitely a place that we both felt we could easily live in for months and months. Who knows maybe one day we will.

Happy Ubud Faces

Happy Ubud Faces

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Yogyakarta – Asia’s Hidden Gem

20th August 2015

banner When we were planning our Indonesian route Lee stumbled on a little city in Java that peaked his interest. As a History buff Lee saw the words ‘largest Hindu temple in Southeast Asia’ and his eyes lit up.

yogya09 yogya13 The most important thing to know about Yogyakarta is how to pronounce the darn place. I was calling it yogi-o-karta until I arrived at the airport. Indonesians  pronounce it ‘Jog-ja-karta’ but the locals call it ‘Jog-ja’. This is what everyone calls it and it’s much easier to get by once you know that.

We were only in the town for 3 days and we spoiled ourselves with a nice place. There was a roof top pool and large comfy beds. Unfortunately the hotel is also where local school kids stay over night on school trips. Our room was surrounded all night by loud teenagers running up and down the halls. Its safe to say, as two ex-middle school teachers ……we weren’t impressed.

yogya06 yogya08 The kids weren’t the only down side of our first day on the trip. I also received some horrible news from home and spent my night curled up with Lee feeling horrible and very very far from home. Luckily I didn’t have time to think about everything too much since we had already planned a trip that started at 4am. I didn’t have time to think. I just had time to try and close my eyes before the alarm went off and we were on our way to Yogyakarta’s famous temples – Prambanan and Borobudur.

yogya02 yogya03 yogya07 yogya10 We took a tour to Prambanan organised by our hotel. We had a lovely driver and arrived at the temple complex just as the sun was rising. When you arrive at the temples you are given some water, a snack and a stylish sarong to wear. We leisurely wandered around the temple. Taking in the intricate carvings depicting Buddha’s pilgrimage and lifeline, beautiful surroundings and miles of jungle all around us.

The only thing to disturb the peaceful surroundings was the hundreds of kids that are taken there on trips. Schools take kids there to practice their English. We found it quite endearing because they were so cute and lovely shouting ‘mister , Mrs picture, picture’. We must have posed for at least 12 photos and managed to grab a few of our own.  It did take away from the beautiful sights a little especially since the concentration of kids was on the iconic roof of Borobudur where we wanted to take the most photos but couldn’t. But it was another welcome distraction on a sad day.

My favourite part of the day was when Lee and I went off the beaten track and climbed the hill over looking the Borobudur complex. We sat and watched the mist roll over the mountains in the distance and literally had time to smell the roses…and frangipans (at least that’s what I’m told they are called). Being so far up above the clouds was beautiful and I just wanted to stay there forever with Lee.

yogya04 yogya05 Since it was a tour , we didn’t have time to stop for too long. Our next stop was Prambanan. It was built in the 9th century and has a number of temples, each dedicated to different gods, The Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva). There was also a temple for Ganesha which is one of my favourite of the gods since it is half Elephant and half god. He is the god known for removing obstacles. He is seen as a patron of the arts and Hindus ask him for help during writing sessions almost like a godly muse. I’m not Hindu but I love the idea of a god that inspires imagination. It seems very fitting for a blogger to like him I suppose. He is also the god of beginnings. I had just discovered I had lost someone extremely important to me and it was nice to think of it as a beginning rather than a sad end. I am lucky to have known my aunty well enough to feel she was with me at every step of our journey.

yogya01 yogya12 yogya15 yogya16 Lots of things end but sometimes its nicer to think of them as changing. Maybe not always for the better but change opens us all up for new experiences and we also carry with us the things we learnt in the past. These temples were hidden from the world for so long and now they are there for everyone to see, even before that , in another life time they were strong central pillars to a community and a civilisation . People came to these stones for hope. It’s a wonder to be able to travel and see these sights that have been viewed by so many others.

A lot of people hate the idea of tourists or other people discovering something before them but I like it. I find it kind of satisfying to share these sights and incredible places with people I would never meet or even live in the same century as. It’s a privilege that I hope I never take for granted.

I am sorry for this reflective and slightly sad post but I don’t mean it to be . It was an uplifting trip and one I think we will both hold dear. Lee actually says he prefers these temples to Angkor Wat. I love them both equally but I also think it’s such a huge shame that Prambanan and Yogykarta itself is so over looked.

I’m really glad we stopped off in this nice little city as our first port of call in Indonesia. It was cheap  and a little grimy but the temples alone were worth the visit.

Our first impressions of Indonesia are high. I can’t wait to see what else we find.

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We’re going to INDONESIA!

7th August 2015

banner INDONESIA!!!

Yes I am shouting that. I was so stupidly excited to visit this place. I realise that this is quite a normal location for travel bloggers but for me it’s really exciting and completely new.

I am going to confess something to you all now and please don’t judge me but I LOVE THE BOOK EAT, PRAY, LOVE! I read it at a hard time and it inspired me to:

  1. Run around the world
  2. Leave behind me a very toxic part of my life

It was a very important book to me and I will always be grateful for each and every page of it. For those of you that have lived in a cave, this is a biographical travel book about a woman who gives up everything to travel the world. 3 months in Italy, 3 months in India and 3 months in Bali – Indonesia.

The second I read about the beautiful Ubud I knew I had to go. I am a massive cliché but I’m not ashamed. Any reason that makes you travel has to be a good one.

indo7 indo6 indo4 Lee on the other hand was a little wary of Indonesia. He is a Historian and had only heard about the conflicts and darker side of Indonesia, he hadn’t seen the beautiful photos and heard the wonderful stories from friends that I had. There are many dangerous areas in Indonesia but it is a big place. If you are worried it is important to check on your embassies website to see what they advise. Even after my constant sales pitch he still was quite reluctant.

So I did the thing any sane person does when being confronted with someone who doesn’t want to visit a country; you make them go for 3 weeks.

indo3 indo2 indo We started in Yogyakarta for the temples, then to Ubud for food and yoga, Nusa Cenigan for a quiet isolated island without roads, Gili Air for deserted island paradise, Gili Meno for an even more deserted paradise and lastly Lombok for expensive looking hotels at stupidly cheap prices. indo5

Our last stop on this trip is going to be nothing but relaxing and food. A holiday from the holiday. That’s a thing right? signature