A Travellerspoint blog

Western Australia

sunny 30 °C

Day 1 – Sydney, Australia - First Impressions

As I sit here, realizing the true magnitude of my decision to leave everything behind and follow a decade old dream, I suddenly realize - in my scatter-brained head - that I left my purse on the Airport shuttle bus an hour ago… Shit fuck. Day one in Australia just became extremely limited.

In amongst tears of regret, frustration, and heartache, I decided to hit up the beach to try and shake my despair. As soon as my feet hit the sand and the cool ocean breeze dried my tears I felt a rush of exhilaration come over me. It was refreshing… for a while, until the jet lag set in and I literally couldn’t stop from puddling into a pool of emotional exhaustion. I should mention, and most of my friends would back this, I don’t typically get emotional and my head is usually screwed on pretty straight. This feeling was foreign to me. It took a while, but eventually I saw the light and decided that running was so incredibly necessary to clear my head. I ran the strikingly beautiful sea wall from Coogee to Bondi Beach and gradually, a very welcomed smile spread over my face.

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Before I went to bed that night I decided that I wouldn’t cry myself to sleep, that idea seemed illogical. Instead, I would think of the beautiful things I had to look forward and drift away with my dreams. While enchanted in a dream of diving with dolphins, a drunk and very confused man trying to crawl into my bed awakened me… The lesson learned here – a “private” room in a hostel is never truly private.

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Three Sisters - The Blue Mountains, Sydney, Australia

New beginnings – Perth WA

After a few days of living in a hostel I couldn’t take it anymore. I would modestly say that I am a seasoned traveler; Partying with teenagers until sunrise just isn’t my style anymore. I needed a different scene – fast. I booked a flight to Perth without knowing much about the west coast other than what people had told me, I neglected to do much research… But something was drawing me there. I stumbled upon a website called Airbnb where people list their spare rooms for rent, it was more cost effective than booking a “private” room at a hostel so I decided to give it a shot. My decision was spontaneous and not well thought out but booking this room was the best thing I could have done. I stayed with a girl named Melanie and we quickly became friends. She is laidback, sporty, fun, aaaaand best of all -- a beer lover. I was incredibly home sick and Mel’s company was the only thing drawing me out of my melancholy. She introduced me to her friends, took me to yoga, salsa dancing, kite surfing -- A great first impression of Perth and exactly what I needed.

I settled in a suburb called Fremantle or Freo as the locals refer to it. It’s a laidback hippy/tourist town with a beautiful harbor and a relaxing vibe. I landed a decent job in Administration with a luxury pearl company MG Kailis Pearls – a local icon in Freo. I have learned an incredible amount about pearls and about a business that is based on desire for luster and shine (rather than the malt profiles and IBUs that I am use to!).

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Fremantle is famous for its Cappuccino Strip where a flat white is always made to perfection


Western Australia – Thriving in solitude

I settled into a nice house in Fremantle, walking distance from work. Girly movie nights and weekend brunch dates have become a weekly occurrence with one of my house mates Rebecca – a sweet Malaysian girl who moved to Australia a few years ago. But as comfortable as I have become here, Freo hasn’t captivated me. I shouldn’t compare nature… But if there were one thing missing from my life in Freo it would be the forest. The landscape is sparse with succulents and sea grass littering the sand dunes and edging the beaches. It is beautiful in it’s own way; who doesn’t dream of white sand beaches and turquoise water. But I could never truly feel at home without the earthy scent of rainforest surrounding me.

I can’t pretend it has been easy to leave the comfort of my fabulous friends and family back home; I feel like a part of me is missing when I look back and don’t see my dog staring back at me. But I didn’t leave home because I wasn’t happy; I left because I needed to learn how to be alone. If I have learned anything during my life travels it is to break attachments and live life without expectations.
An Indian guru once told me:

“We come into this life alone, we die alone, and loneliness is only a symptom of not knowing yourself.”

Taking the advice of a wise woman I began to thrive in loneliness. Of course what better way to do that then to start an exercise routine. With my endorphin levels sky high and my body feeling good it was time to break out of my shell and get my travel on!

On my 28th birthday I decided to take myself to Rottnest Island, only a short 30 min ferry ride from Freo. The island has no vehicles other than a tour bus, but the best way to get around is to rent a pedal bike. So apparently I was naive to think that my rigorous fitness routine would prepare me for this… Peddling around a remote island in the hot desert heat is far more difficult than I expected. But had I not set this expectation I wouldn’t have been disappointed… Regardless, the true natural beauty of the island made the challenge worth every minute. In this moment I realized that this is why I came to Australia. I was truly thankful to have the opportunity to spend my birthday on a secluded island thriving in solitude.

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My birthday beverage of choice from Ferral Brewery in WA, Borris - Russian Imperial Stout. A strong contender in my list of WA's best brews!

In the following weeks I made my way up and down the west coast of Australia. I headed south on an epic off-roading/camping extravaganza with my friends Melanie and Jazzie. We recruited some of Mel’s friends in Margaret River and continued our journey through Leeuin National Park. We arrived after dark and quickly set up camp before parking our chairs and cracking our beers. Shortly after, I jumped out of my seat at the sound of loud thumping approaching us and was amazed to see a family of Kangaroos storming our campsite – seriously epic. We spent the weekend camping in Contos, cruising the beaches of Boranup, and visiting the breweries and wineries. This trip was the highlight of WA for me, but the pictures speak for themselves.

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Stopped for a visit of Mash Brewery where I learned to appreciate their rye porter
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A day trip to Swan Valley with my lovely Perth friends (top picture, from the left: Melanie, Simon, Justin, and Jazzie). large_IMG_9089.jpg

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[i]A brewery with its own lake! Whaaat! Bootleg Brewery in Margaret River. Best brew for me was their Ragging Bull

I thought spending Christmas without my family would be difficult, luckily I was adopted by my lovely Perth friends and spent a fabulous Christmas playing cards, feasting, and drinking delightful Western Australian wine. After an enjoyable Christmas with my new found Australian family, Mel and I headed North on a kite surfing trip with a few of her friends and their new kite surfing company.

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A traditional Danish Christmas game - whoever gets the almond in their dessert gets a gift!

I’ve never had any intention of learning how to kite surf but the opportunity presented itself and my “yes please!” attitude has always served me well. In recent years I have had the unfortunate experience of watching people die from the relentless elements of the ocean; these happenings have left me with a lingering fear of the ocean. Facing this fear with the added element of wind, a kite, and a board was truly terrifying but I was keen to try. I didn’t have any expectations of doing well at kite surfing but I surprised myself. After being tossed across the ocean, pulled in every direction, and hammered by giant waves I managed to get up on the board and was pleased at how well I progressed. I can’t say that I will continue kite surfing, it is an extreme sport that poses severe risks. After I left the kite surfing crew one of the instructors took a huge bail and broke her tibia… That was enough for me.
I had the group drop me off in Exmouth so I could see the Ningaloo Reef and revel in loneliness once again.

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Exmouth & the Ningaloo Reef

I can’t say that my first impressions of Exmouth were entirely welcoming. The kite surfing crew dropped me off at a car rental company just outside of town where I had booked a car earlier that day. Unfortunately the office was closed and my ride had already left… I quickly came to the realization that my mobile service provider didn’t work in Exmouth. In the sweltering 42-degree heat, along with my camping gear, I was alone -- without a phone. I made my way down the road in search of something that resembled a business. I eventually came across a junk store and was relieved at the sight. I walked in and addressed the lady stocking shelves, she barely acknowledged my presence and to my extreme disappointment was incredibly rude “I don’t know anything about the car rental company and I can’t let you use a business phone.” I explained my situation to her only to have her lash out at me with furry. Unable to hold my composer I left the store with tears streaming down my face. Ten minutes later I turned around to find her chasing after me with her cell phone. Turns out she knew the lady at the rental company personally and called her for me. I was both enraged and relieved at the same time but eventually was able to get a rental car without any more drama. I spent the remainder of the day finding a service provided for my phone, searching dive shops, hotels, and flights home. I found a hotel around the corner to very happily rest my bags and breathe in the sweet smell of air conditioning.

I awoke early the next morning eager to start my adventures. The dive shops were all closed for the holidays so I decided to rent some snorkel gear and cruise the Ningaloo Reef from the shores of Turquoise Bay and surrounding beaches. I arrived at the beach early, the sea was calm and there was not a soul in sight. I spent the day frolicking with giant tropical fish, exploring colorful corals -- luscious with life, and swimming with a fascinating sea turtle that seemed to tolerate my company.

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After a fabulous day on the water I felt satisfied with my west coast experience and was ready to head home to Perth. I flew home on New Years Eve and managed to stay awake long enough to welcome 2015 from the luxury of my own bed, comfortably and blissfully alone to bring in the new year.

Posted by H-Dizzle 22:47 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Road trip to Hampi

sunny 30 °C

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Eric and I began our journey at 7am from Kuddle Beach in Gokarna. As we drove our beast of a motorcycle through the monkey inhabited mountains of Karnataka, we came to appreciate the true beauty of the protected forests. We dodged families of monkeys as we drove for 2 hours through the twisty mountain roads and realized how rare it was that in an over populated country like India you can still find solitude. The mountains opened up and took us through 3 hours of dusty red farm lands. Plenty of smiles and waves greeted us from the men, woman and children of the lands. We drove over farmers crops that were scattered all over the road. Perhaps a new farming technique, we may never know. We drove by fields of corn, sugar cane, marigolds, sunflowers and chili peppers before the road brought us to a tremendously enchanting village called Hampi.

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Dodging cows, no big deal

Hampi’s landscape is mystical with mountains full of world heritage monuments; ruins built in the 13th century and then abandoned and forgotten about for hundreds of years. The rice patties have been strategically placed among giant boulders formed from centuries of volcanic activity. The boulders teeter high and low, threatening the very existence of the small town if anything were to shift in the land underneath.

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The holy Hampi river

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Sunset view of Hampi's rocky hills

Our room was situated directly on the rice patties and we couldn’t help but spend the majority of our time marvelling at the beautiful sights and sounds of the natural landscape. Thousands of frogs would sing us to sleep night after night. But rice grows in stagnant water and stagnant water attracts bugs. Mosquitos, flies, beetles, worms, roaches, ants; more bugs then I have ever seen in any one place or time. They were everywhere, they were aggressive and we were in their territory! To say I had the hebejebes is an understatement.

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Lakshmi the temple elephant

After being in India for a few weeks it becomes easy for me to relax my expectations for cleanliness. This is a big mistake, as it opens up many opportunities for food poisoning. I spent an entire day regretting my nonchalant attitude. This lesson I have been taught many times and have yet to learn!

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I think this lady has Eric out tattooed

We made the 400km long journey back to Goa which took about nine hours. We found the experience of motorcycling to be nothing short of extraordinary. What we saw and experienced on the back roads of India will leave abundant memories that will last a lifetime. We returned to our ‘home town’ of Vagator. It is holiday time here in Goa and the province is jam packed with people from all over India. Many are celebrating the independence of India, and many are celebrating just for the sake of celebrating. We will stay here in Vagator for a few days, until the province clears out, then head to neighboring towns for a different scene of beach life.

Posted by H-Dizzle 01:09 Archived in India Tagged mountains sunset india monkey hampi rice_patty road_trip_hampi Comments (0)

On the road again

A journey through the southern India

sunny 30 °C

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Gear strapped on and ready to hit the road! Don't forget Heather!

We were nervous while driving our rented Royal Enfield through Goa’s back country and into Karnataka. The bike is unfamiliar to Eric, the gears and breaks are on opposite sides from the western syle motorbike, and the kick start sometimes gives us trouble. The locals in Goa advised us against the trip as it is illegal for a tourist to drive a rented motorcycle between provinces. The tourist motorbikes have special yellow plates and it is impossible to get across the border with them. We did our research and found a local who was willing to rent his personal bike to us and allow us to take it across the border. If we were to get caught it could be mean big trouble… or 200 Rupees ($4) of baksheesh (bribery). The adventure seemed worth the risk. So far we have been without any trouble from the police and are enjoying the ride.

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sunset on Palolem Beach

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Eric with the cows on Palolem Beach

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dolphin spotting from Palolem Beach

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a quick trip to the nearby beaches of Palolem

We started in Anjuna, Goa, drove south to Palolem for a few days of beach time, then further south into the province of Karnataka. The further south we drive the more traditional Indian lungies and dusty red rock landscape appear. It’s amazing how the culture can differ so much from one province to the next. Lack of development on the unspoiled beaches of Karnataka make for a pristine coastline and attract a unique vibe. The stars sparkle bright, like galaxies of diamonds in the sky. The amount of hippies here has doubled since Goa, it almost seems as though the hippies who use to dwell in Goa have manifested a different scene in Kuddle Beach, Gokarna. The foreign hippies all gather at night to juggle fire, play instruments and meditate on the beach. For many people this is a captivating scene and some people tend to stay longer then intended. I once made the mistake of asking a local hippie for directions, they wanted nothing to do with me. Perhaps it’s because I don’t smell of patchouli or have dreadlocks.

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Kuddle Beach, Gokarna, Karnataka

When we arrived in Gokarna we headed straight for Om Beach where supposedly the network of guesthouses was situated. We were disappointed with the quality of rooms and decided to look elsewhere. After driving down some rough dirt roads for what seemed like forever, we found a resort that was currently under construction. They had a few rooms that were fairly upscale and we managed to stay in one of them for $20! The next morning Eric and I stumbled upon a rustic Yoga Retreat in Kuddle Beach and decided to take advantage. We stayed here for the next four nights. We started our mornings with Yoga and a beautiful homemade breakfast. Of course even a quiet beach like Kuddle wouldn’t be complete without a volleyball net. After spending the afternoons playing volleyball while watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean, we would head to our favorite restaurant on the beach Little Paradise Inn. We befriended the locals at the restaurant and had the cooks teach us how to make a killer Indian meal. This for me has been one of the highlights; being in a real Indian kitchen and watching them effortlessly whip up 3 of my favourite dishes. MMM tasty.

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If you are in Kuddle and are looking for some killer food call Suresh Traloki and visit Little Paradise Inn.

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The cooks at Little Paradise Inn hard at work.

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Boy at Gokarna market selling spices

We somehow managed to stay in Kuddle for 3 days longer than anticipated. That is the great thing about having no rules or strict timeline; you can let time stand still when it wants to. Our parting point was watching a young Indian man drown on the beach. This was the second death we had seen in the past week. The tragedy makes such a beautiful thing seam so retched and evil, for me it was time to leave Kuddle and the horrific scene behind. We packed our bags and were on the road at 7am this morning in search of a holy town in the mountains called
Hampi.

Posted by H-Dizzle 20:24 Archived in India Tagged beaches india palolem royal_enfield gokarna kuddle little_paradise_inn_kuddle indian_cooking food_kuddle_beach Comments (0)

Indescribably India

Round number two!

sunny 30 °C

India. It feels like we never left. The smell of inscense, cow feces, curry and hot garbage assault your senses while walking down the road in Vagator Goa. Smiles are everywhere as we run into locals that we’ve met before. We spent the last couple of days visiting different beaches and seeing the country side on our scooter. The weather has been sunny and around 28 and at night it cools off to 20 or so which is great for sleeping.
Our guest house has been great. We are staying at a family Guesthouse called Blue Bird where we know the family well and enjoy watching the children grow up. One thing about India is that the accommodations can at times be fairly basic and well used. We tend to avoid these places and opt to stay at the cleaner less used places. We are currently paying $20 a night which is higher than we are accustomed to, however it is worth the couple extra bucks to have a nice clean place to call home. The food has been fantastic. India is a vegetarian's dream - Fruit salad with home-made yogurt and granola every morning, a healthy serving of vegetable curry for lunch and dinner. Fresh fruit, veggies and spices are in abundance and it is easy to live a healthy lifestyle. Meals are typically about 6 dollars for us both to eat. Again we tend to go to the cleaner more trustworthy places for food. Practicing Yoga in the morning and playing beach volleyball into the sunset, life is good in India.

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Jucinda, the 3 year old girl at our guest house who loves hiding in our hammock.

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Who says we don't eat with our eyes!-BlueBird Special

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Arambol Beach in Goa. Eric helped push this sailboat into the water for its first time a float. It has been under construction for over 12 years! Its owners are taking it to Sri Lanka, a momentous occation for all.

We have rented a 350cc Royal Enfield Motorcycle (India’s Harley Davidson) and we are hitting the open roads of India. By the way the 'open' roads of India consist of (but are not limited to)- cars, trucks, scooters, busses, cows, dogs, chickens, pigs, goats, garbage and people. All sharing the same space in a chaotic ride thats all part of the Indian adventure. We will head south from Vagator Goa to Palolem Goa then head further south to Gokarna, Karnataca to an untouched place called OM Beach. From there we will let India decide our next move. Avoiding disappointment means to avoid making many plans in India and liberate your expectations. Otherwise you will never be on time and life will likely be a constant battle. Don’t fight it, let India take over and enjoy the ride!

PS Sorry for the lack of pictures. The slow internet connection will not allow me to upload any more!

Posted by H-Dizzle 07:33 Archived in India Comments (0)

Bali

sunny 35 °C

Busy Bali is always bustling with action. When we arrived late in the night we decided Kuta would be our best bet for guest houses that would still be open. Kuta is like a nightclub district on steroids. The sensory overload was overwhelming for me and I couldn't wait to leave. We stayed only a couple of days before heading to the Gili Islands.

Eric playing volleyball on Kuta Beach
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Upon return to Bali we decided to stay in the more sophisticated, less offensive area of town called Seminyak. Although Seminyak is full of posh villas and luxury hotels it is still possible to find backpacker friendly accommodation. Bali is always busy but Seminyak is much more tolerable then Kuta.

Eric convinced me not to write Kuta off. We met another nice couple and went out for a night on the town. Kuta proved to be a good time for all. The clubs are radical and we didn't stop dancing until the wee hours of the morning. Kuta is also a great place for cheap shopping, but at the end of the day its nice to escape the chaos.

We rented a motor bike and traveled around the island. A couple hours away is a town called Ubud, also known as the spiritual capitol of Bali. We met some great people in this community of wellness. After eating delicious organic food and watching the local artisans paint, we ended the day with a rejuvenating Yoga class.

Ulawatu has beautiful beaches, temples and scenery.
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This is what happens when tourist feed the monkeys. I didn't know Monkeys could be obese!
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Temples at Tanalot
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After almost 7 months of traveling Eric and I are excited to go home and see our loved ones. Asia has treated us well and has been an enlightening experience for both of us. Until next time. Om Shanti, Shanti. Namaste my friends.

Posted by H-Dizzle 23:04 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali monkey seminyak kuta_bali Comments (0)

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