Queens Birthday – Long Weekend

So what else is there to do on a public holiday, other than get out and explore in amongst nature. Firstly I spent the day with my good friend Holly, where we drove down the twisted road surrounded with lush ferns and rain forest bush-land. The sun flickered through the canopy, casting dancing shadows as we made our way to the Megalong Valley Tea Rooms.Β Lunch was so nice as we scored a snug seating spot right next to the wood fireplace, as we drank our tea and coffee and chatted about adventures experienced and to come. With energy replenished, we set off on a rainforest bushwalk where we tiptoes over rocks amongst the coursing waters. Afterwards we fare-welled each other until next time. Later that afternoon, I continued my energetic streak with an incline walk with my mum to watch the sun set over the shadowy valleys below.

 

 

 

The following day (Queens Birthday) entailed my brother and I spending one and half hours stuck in traffic before reaching Mt Blackheath, with a few deviations along the way. The afternoon rays were sublime, soaking up the majestic views of the Kanimbla Valley below. Once we had tiered ourselves out and adventured enough to earn an appetite we went home and had a little experiment with Astro photography.

Sometime you don’t need an expensive holiday to shake things up. I’m constantly discovering and exploring new inspiring locations in my own backyard. Here’s to many more long weekend adventures to come!

P1180535

Advertisements

Laos and Cambodia

9/4
The day began with a hungover bike ride to a temple Barack Obama had once visited. We revived our fortunes and attempted to lift a bronze Buddha above our head for good luck. The bike ride continues past the Mekong river and to the Ock Pop Tok silk worm weaving gallery. Once we had admired the beauty and skill involved in the fabric making process we trekked on for the ultimate hangover cure. The much anticipated Kuang Si Falls were a surreal sight and utterly mesmerizing with the aqua blue course of water pooled amongst layers of clay-like natural slopes. The swim there felt like paradise on earth and I was much regretful to leave them. A brief viewing of the markets and Moon Bears rescue sanctuary led us to board the bus to return to the motel to prepare for the later Luang Prabang chilled out, night markets and extravagant street food.

IMG_5214

10/4
Sleep was not taking priority today as we rose at 5:30 am to offer sticky rice Alm’s to the vivid orange Monks. It was quite the cultural experience before we set off to make our way through the hazy, scenic hills to Viet Vieng with a sky view lunch at high altitude and a loo stop with more than a view imaginable!
Our hotel lay by the bank of the Namsong river with monumental mountains weaving up and down the pink, hazy horizon. After some cocktails and some social time by the pool watching the sun go down for the day, we took part in a returning of the souls ceremony. The soul retrieval ceremony returns the soul to the persons body and restores harmony. We cleansed ourselves with a shot of whiskey and a blessing bracelet symbolizing purity as a traditional end method to the Buddhist chants of praise.
Onward to dinner and a well reviewed eat out known as Jacks Irish Pub. It was a pleasure to eat westerner food and a yummy hamburger and chips for a change of Thai food.

 

11/4
Today was the perfect opportunity to skip out on a rough and hot Kayak trip down the boggy river and slippery, mosquitoes filled caves. Instead Amy and I recovered and enjoyed some simple pleasures of eating by the pool all day, taking awesome poolside photos and simply relaxing and taking in the crazy past 11 days of the trip. It was just what I needed in order to regain some energy before we departed our hotel once again to set off to the Capital of Laos, Vientiane.

12/4
Vientiane was our next stop where we un-pilled off the bus into the draw humid heat to visit a temple made with gold as well as mesmerizing roof illustrated art and the third giant reclining Buddha I had seen thus far. A storm had brewed in no time and we found ourselves racing a few Km’s back to the bus for shelter. Slightly drenched we made a stop to the COPE Center which rehabilitates Laos people with missing limbs from scatter bombs that had been dropped from the US strike in Vietnam war days. The repercussions of this have since resulted in Laos struggling to recover the country and farmland that remains riddled with un-exploded bombs. It was a sore sight at the museum however we all donated money to the cause.
We stopped off at the Arc De Triumph replica in the Laos Capitol and climbed the heat filled twisting stairwell to the view below. Dinner felt like a taste of home with sushi for appetizer, pizza for dinner and coconut ice cream from the night markets for desert.

 

13/4
We left Vientiane to fly to Phenom Penh where we immediately went to the killing fields which was incredibly tragic to witness, particularly the mass graves and human remains. There was a center tower the was pulled sky high with skulls displayed behind glass platforms. I felt really emotional thinking how anyone could commit such genocide against their own country just to fit the structure of communism. The brutality displayed in images at the the s1w museum was overwhelming as well. Wandering through the somber grounds and seeing the tiny confined cells that victims were left to suffer was very confronting, but eye opening to become aware of such past atrocities. It was sobering and made me feel incredibly fortunate of the life I live and made us all feel a lot more appreciative of our lucky lives and all the opportunities we have since and yet to be offered.

Part of the group went to the rooftop at dusk where a steaming Jacuzzi overlooked Cambodia’s vibrant city below. A suggested eating spot was such a pretty sight at the titanic restaurant which was scattered with fairy lights and sat by the riverside. Cocktails and a 4 course menu preluded to a rooftop bar to play pool with the boys and followed by a fun night on the sweaty dance floor at pontoon bar.

14/4
The morning was a perfect opportunity to get a pedicure and wander around the riverside and Royal Palace with Cara before we boarded a plane to Siem Reap. Once in Siem Reap we arrived at the citrus scented Frangipani Villa hotel and made our way to the pool for a congregational dip. Refreshed as possible we didn’t stay out of the water for long as we convoyed in tuk-tuks through the bustling, neon night where we were ambushed by street goers in their annual new year festivities of a huge water fight. We got rather drenched on our way to the Bug Cafe. Once we had a chance to dry off we ordered share plates to eat our way through a selection of deliciously prepared critters. This included sampling scorpion, tarantula, crickets, silk worms, ants, water-bug and snake. Surprisingly edible and rather satisfying.

15/4
The day began early at a rise of 4:30am to watch the sun rise over the Angkor Wat temple. It was a beautiful sight despite the view been obscured by the crowd of tourists and selfie sticks. It was baffling to see how intricate this massive 900 year old temple of worship had been completed. Steep stairs, hot sun and plenty of photos was led by a visit to the Angkor Thom temple sight where we got a nose to nose selfie with Buddha. We convoyed in tuk-tuks to the final sight of Ta Prohm aka tomb raider sight. The fascinating relics and passageways of stone had been swallowed by twisted tree roots and I felt like Lara Croft, that is if she was raiding tombs amongst a selfie frenzied crowds of people.. nevertheless it was all a sight to be taken in and cherished, whilst mentally blocking out what had no ancient significance. It was the biggest relief to lay down after that long, hot, food deprived morning and to regain my energy, I had a massage to restore my weary body.

Quad bikes were next on the list. We rode amongst the local streets dodging cows, dogs and motorcycles as we made our way to dust ridden tracks and open farmland with the sun setting across the green paddocks. It was the best feeling leading the group in a convoy of adrenaline filled fun. On return we prettied up for our last night as a group. After dinner Amy and I braved the Khmer New year festivities as we dodged our way back to the motel, through the water fight and talcum powder to the face. The expedition home was short lived as we got caught up at Yolo Bar, and got our face painted with neon colours. After Amy and I were dead from battling our way through the mass crowd on pub street, and being chased by men with water guns down the dodgy night streets, bed was most definitely the ideal option.

16/4
An emotional breakfast farewell to Layla and others before departing again, this time for our final leg of the trip and off to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Once settled in we met the new group for dinner at Barbecue Garden Restaurant where fairy lights and red lanterns were laden amongst the trees above. We cooked our own food on hot plates on our table and mingled with the newbies.

The extraordinary countries of Laos and Cambodia were awe inspiringly beautiful, but at the same time the horrific history that once had taken place make these newly developing countries fascinating to see just how far these generous and joyful people, have come out of their dark past.

Thailand – My First Solo Overseas Travel

Watch My Thailand Travel Video Here!

31/3
So after my fairly smooth flights from Singapore then to Bangkok, I arrived to the airport at night to find my baggage had still been left at Singapore, my transfer from the airport to the hotel was nowhere in sight and the following day having my iPhone dropped in the pool and caused me to have a breakdown due to lack of technology. However, guess what? Everything works out fine in the end despite my bouts of concern. I caught a dodgy taxi to the motel by myself, my luggage to much relief made its way directly to my motel room and my phone miraculously recovered to relatively full health. Let’s just say that everything that could go wrong so far, probably hasn’t even occurred, considering how lucky I’ve been. I’m guessing that my lucky 1111 angels are looking out for me.

Ok, so that was the low lights, but you know I’m so incredibly proud of how brave I have been! Just getting here has been a feat on its own. Concurring so many fears to the point my Anxiety is non-existent.

IMG_1254

 

1/4

So some highlights of the first day alone include, meandering the chaotic Thailand streets with Amber, eating a delicious cafe breakfast with the most delicious Iced tea. Exploring the Grand Palace and Pho Wat (giant reclining Buddha) in all is sweltering glory. Taking a wild tuk-tuk to a unicorn cafe where we met Erin and dressed up in unicorn onesies and ate burgers and fries and slushies. I made my first solo tuk-tuk ride back to my motel. then afterwards met Amy, Kaylee and Elise for some authentic chicken pad Thai in the bustling street in the origins of the amazing dish itself, washed down with a refreshing Thai beer (Sangi). We ventured to the roof top pool, met Olivia and swam beneath the Bangkok night sky and soaked up the moment that was pure luxurious bliss and contemplating on the day just been and the many adventures to come.

Continue reading “Thailand – My First Solo Overseas Travel”

The Icy Blue Continent – Antarctica

When people ask me have I traveled overseas before, I tend to reply with; “Not really.” I suppose that’s not a very clear answer as I try to dodge the question. I think because saying I have been to Antarctica as a 12 year old, is a little unbelievable, even for me. Anyhow, from the collections of faded memories I try to recover, I recall it as a life changing, two week adventure.

I Voyaged with my Mother and Auntie to the Antarctic Peninsula. As a pre-adolescent I was slightly naive and I designated all the technicalities of reaching our destination to my mum. We flew to New Zealand for a brief stopover, then to South America; Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was a culture shock, humid and I experienced my first feeling of jet-lag. As we later explored the angelic city, we saw a street magician who babbled some Spanish words and insisted for me to surrender my woolen jumper to him. He then scavenged a box of cigarettes from a spectator, where he proceeded to light a handful of them up and puff them into my jumper. I would have sworn that my beloved, colorful clothing item would have combusted into flames, but fortunately it had not a hole! Only the stench of tobacco laced within the fabric. He handed my intact jumper back to much relieved me. I later discovered wool isn’t flammable anyway, some sort of magic trick… At least the shock value was there for an Aussie child tourist!

I took a lot of interest in learning the Spanish language as we proceeded to Ushuia, known as the end of the Earth. The contrast to Buenos Aires was most certainly the temperature, despite it being Summer. I built a snowman out front of our quaint little motel atop a hill. I loved waking up to steaming hot croissants with jam and butter in the morning and the people who own the little B&B were so lovely. The misty snowy mountains surrounding the bustling, wharf-side town were breathtaking. Some of the Adults who were to be boarding the tour met us for a few fancy restaurant visits. I remember everyone raving about one restaurant called Kaupe, where we went and ate lots of bread and ordered lobster! This was rather thrilling, wining and dining, minus the wine… though I felt quite sophisticated as a kid in amongst this adult world. Speaking of food in Ushuia, I adored the delicacy of french fries drenched in creamy Mayonnaise, and Helado de Chocolate. My souvenir for my trip was a rather expensive Grey Alpaca wool Poncho that I couldn’t part with.

 

We boarded the Polar Pioneer ice-breaker, with Aurora Expeditions as we set off for the next few days along the rough, stormy and treacherousΒ  Drake Passage, toward the Peninsula of Antarctica. I had a stomach of steel and only threw up once in the dining hall after attempting to stomach breakfast. Most of the time navigating the Drake passage I would sleep in our bunk-bed room. When I was brave I would attempt to walk down the swaying hallways laced with brown paper sick bags for those queezy, unfortunate expeditioners. Or the best view was from the Bridge of the ship. Watching the bow of the icebreaker thrusting high and low into the deep blue, casting magnificent sheets of white waves, heavy against the glass of the Bridge platform.

Once we had concurred the rough seas, waters calmed and we sailed into the Weddell Sea in search for land. Glistening icicles formed on the ships Port and Starboard. Humongous icebergs came into sight and once the mighty vessel anchored, clean gumboots and not so trendy sunglasses were sported to avoid the harsh, white glare of snow-blindness. We boarded the zodiac rafts which fit approximately 10-15 people and we were transported around ice sheets to set afoot on the wondrous land. The Snow was so crunchy and powdery. This time, I was unable to make a snowman as there is little water content in the Antarctic snow, it simply doesn’t stick together so snow angels was the best bet for me.

Penguin colonies echoed with the chatter of these unique, waddling birds. Chinstraps and Gentoo’s were common. I never saw Emperor penguins, but apparently they are very large. I viewed Antarctic Albatross, Petrels and Terns in flight. Leopard, Crabeater and Weddell seals bathing on the pebbly shoreline. Back aboard the Polar Pioneer, an announcement over the speaker was that there were a pod of Hourglass Dolphins frolicking afront of the ships bow. I raced to the bow to witness the amazement of dozens of inquisitive, black and white dolphins, leaping and diving along side us. Comparably amazing was seeing an enormous hump back whale breaching the cold depths under the boat and leaping into the air right in front of us. I was in the Bridge and I was fretting that the hefty mammal would land on the bow.

The bow of the boat was not too cold surprisingly. I wore shorts and a tee-shirt outside on the occasional days. It was Summer in the South Pole therefore the Sun would never entirely set, only during the night hours was a temporary sunset/sunrise.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Other highlights that come to mind include, visiting the Historic Mawson’s Hut, standing atop an iceberg, swimming in hot springs in Deception Island, camping on the ice overnight, wasting time in the cinema room, as well as sitting at the bar, eat pretzels whilst writing and illustrating comics.

Not so highlight’s included, missing the onshore visit to the scientific weather station, because I was asleep and mum didn’t wake me up! That would have been the only opportunity to meet people who actually live in Antarctica! Another annoyance was being too young to use the ship’s sauna room. Ah the hard life of a youth. Although I admit being a kid among adults and traveling had its perks. I did get a little spoilt with my giant Toblerone from the airport and my Toy Gund horse Cisco to cuddle with on my return flight.

The Aurora Expedition crew put on a final BBQ for us 60+ voyagers on the stern of Polar Pioneer. After a group photo we bid farewell to each other, our unique travels and the icy, blue Continent, known as Antarctica.

Keara.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Victoria Falls

One overcast morning, Jessie and I spontaneously took the beaten track (literally) to set afoot upon an adventure to Mount Victoria Falls. We reached the end of the road and were pleasingly greeted by the simply breathtaking, vast view of the Grose Valley. After encountering a few tourists alike, we began our steep decent to reach the base of the valley. The Falls were simply stunning. Layers of rock streamed paths and torrents of cascading water across the face of the waterfall. Below we got in touch with nature, discovered bright orange yabbies, and cooled off in our own private rock pool beneath Mount Victoria Falls. After our discovery of this natural wonderland, it was not so pleasing to leave it behind to make our way home. However, it was well worth the steep trek back up, as we finished our explorations with a satisfying pub feed at Hotel Imperial, Mount Victoria.

Sydney Harbor Cruise

 

Earlier in the year I attended a friends birthday in the city cruising around the beautiful Sydney Harbor. We crashed through waves on our gallant white yacht under the Harbor Bridge. We drank our way across the waters to Athol Bay, where we dove into the fresh, green waters. It was blissfully refreshing to unwind with fun-loving company, whilst lusting upon some fine looking mer-men on the beach shore. We attempted to stand up on a paddle board with medium accomplishment at that, so we made our way back on atop our unicorn and duck flotation devices to rest our slightly intoxicated selves.

With well wishes and Birthday hurrah’sΒ  we finished the evening off at Cargo Bar in Sydney’s Quay to top off an epic outing.

My 2017 Solo Roadtrip

Watch My Roadtrip Here

 

Well, 2017 is underway and I kicked off the year with an amazing roadtrip. I packed up my little Toyota Corolla and ventured away from my home town on my own. This was the first time I had traveled a far distance by myself, so I found the experience very liberating and freeing. I began my break at the beautiful Wolgan Valley to farewell a hometown friend. I socialized the night away and then turned in for the night in my swag under the summer night sky. I met family and friends along my way down the South Coast of Australia, where I went snorkeling, paddle-boarding and wharf Jumping in Huskinson and said goodbye to our recently sold, family holiday house at Culburra. This was followed by a weekend visit to Canberra where I went and explored a waterhole and biking around Lake Burley Griffiths on an electric push bike, with awesome company.

Continuing my second week of my road trip was a little rough camping in a leaking tent in a storm, caught in a beach downpour and finding out my roller blades had broken. But those things made my trip memorable also as I learned to make the most out of those average situations.

I loved the feeling of being on the open road, not being obliged to consider anyone else’s need, only myself. Where did I wish to visit next? What cafe, museum, beach or caravan park/motel? I loved just going with the flow, letting my trip unfold however I pleased. No set plans just complete and utter freedom and happiness.

The remained of my time away led me to explore the Central Coastal region of New South Wales. It was my first time visiting Newcastle and I lapped up the lifestyle, food and nightlife of this inspiring city and all the unique music scenes that were on offer. I had a good friend show me around sights for a few days and another who took me to celebrate Australia day in style with go carting, lunch and timezone.

I realized that there is so much more out there than my little home town. My road trip was just the experience I needed to shake me up and give me fresh perspective on opportunities and places that present themselves for me to follow into my future.

Next stop South East Asia!