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My Favourite Beach In The World

13 May

The boat ride from Koh Tao was about an hour and a half getting in to Koh Phangan so I had a feeling in my gut that any awaiting hotel transfer had long gone. After a frantic search in the heat we discovered that I was indeed right and that we would now have to forge our own way out to the remote paradise that is Bottle Beach. We managed to find a taxi to take us to Chaloklum Bay and when we got there they told us that we had a water taxi coming to meet us soon. We waited around for awhile but no boat showed so instead we met a lovely couple from Israel and arranged to just hire a boat from down the beach together. Once in the water taxi I finally let myself relax and look forward to returning to my favourite place in Thailand. Two years ago I visited Bottle Beach during my Beach Travellers 24 Day Land Of Smiles Tour and I fell instantly in love with the little secluded beach. When we pulled up on to the beach I felt like I had come home. We would be spending the next four nights at the Bottle Beach 1 Resort and as fate would have it I would even be staying in the exact same cabin as my last visit. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and hitting the pool.

For our first full day on Bottle Beach we decided to take things easy and just alternated swimming in the ocean, swimming in the pool, and eating at the restaurant. We had planned to do the lookout hike that evening but after a somewhat close encounter with a giant garbage dump lizard and a hoard of mosquitos (not to mention the setting sun) I decided that we should maybe postpone the hike till the next morning. That night we settled in for an early night watching Olympus Has Fallen, which we rented on DVD from the hotel gift shop.

We got up bright and early the next morning to grab a quick breakfast before heading off to do the lookout hike. I made the same mistake as the last time I did the hike and booted it up the first very steep part of the hike way too quickly leaving myself feeling kind of like I was dying. I almost gave up at this point but Braden talked me into continuing on and made sure that we went at a much slower pace for the rest of the way up. The last time that I had done the hike I couldn’t get myself to go all the way out to the end of the viewpoint as the walk out is along a narrow rock ridge that has a very large drop on either side and I am super afraid of heights. I had told Braden that I had really regretted not making it out to the end so he did his best to help get me out there, and boy was it worth it (see the pics bellow). We took our time coming down but by the time we got back to the resort we had just enough energy to fall right in to the pool. That evening I booked us in for our first massages in Thailand, which were done in a little hut right by the ocean. While we were getting our massages, the resort’s cat decided he wanted in on Braden’s massage and kept sitting in between his legs (despite being pulled out several times much to my amusement). We had another lovely dinner at our resort and then hit the hay.

For our final day we had decided that we should maybe get out and do something more adventurous so we signed up with Ocean Safari tours to do a full day trip of activities around the island. We had to get up super early to catch our taxi boat over to Chaloklum Bay where we were supposed to get picked up by the tour company. We ended up waiting for about an hour for our pick up as the driver was brand new and had gotten super lost. Us and another couple from Germany plus one Thai guy who was in training were our only group members for the day. Our first stop was to a Muai Tai Gym for a mini demonstration of the Thai boxing style. Next we hit up an elaborate Chinese Temple that had a beautiful view overlooking Chaloklum Bay. Now the reason we had chosen this tour was because we were supposed to end the day at Bottle Beach which would have been perfect for us since we wouldn’t then need to make our own way home. Of course not everything works as planned and our next and not last stop for the day was to go snorkelling followed by a rest on Bottle Beach, so much for a free trip home. After a little rest and refresh at our Resort we headed back out and into the jungle for some elephant riding. I couldn’t let Braden come all the way to South East Asia and not get him on an elephant so I let him ride the whole time on the actual elephant while I sat in the chair on its back and our rider walked and took a billion pictures of us with our camera. We had some time to kill while the German couple went zip-lining so we tried our hand at some archery (leaving my poor arm rather bruised from not remembering how to properly hold the bow). Next up we went on a little mini hike to a “waterfall” which is in quotations because there wasn’t much of one since it was dry season still. After that we split up from the Germans and went off to go ocean kayaking with a guide who pretty much just handed us the kayak and told us to head for the island in front of us. Let me put it this way, kayaking to an island and back after a full day of activities is definitely not what I would call tons of fun. We managed to survive the kayaking and even made it back to Bottle Beach without too much trouble. That night we packed and prepared to bid farewell to Bottle Beach and Koh Phangan.

Our next day was our longest travel day yet consisting of a water taxi, regular taxi, ferry, bus, a 5 hour wait in the most boring airport, sketchy airport food, and finally our plane to Bangkok.

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Sometimes You Need To Hibernate

11 May

I was looking forward to Koh Tao as I had heard and seen much about it since I was last in Thailand so I was pretty excited as we pulled in to the island’s harbour. My first impressions of Koh Tao however were not what I had been expecting, the main town where the harbour is, Mae Haad, was full of cramped narrow streets filled with dingy restaurants and shops, not quite paradise. We had thought that we could walk to our hotel, located on the next beach North, but with the heat of the day and the empty stretch of highway (with no walking path) I quickly changed my mind and so we hoped in the next taxi. Our hotel in Sariee Beach was the Sariee Sariee Guesthouse which was right on the main strip of the tiny beach town. Our room was quite lovely with a/c. a powerful fan and a tv with a decent movie channel (the downside we later learned would be the quite uncomfortable bed). We rested and relaxed for most of the afternoon finally surfacing just in time to catch a beautiful sunset down on the beach. Sariee Beach is definitely not the nicest of beaches and is mainly muddy with coarse sand and is mainly used as a parking cove for longtail boats. After the sun set we picked a restaurant at the beach to have a few drinks and some dinner at before heading off to bed nice and early.

The next morning after a bit of a sleep in we headed out in search of breakfast, ending up at a funky looking little cafe down the main strip. I tried to order a brie sandwich but when it arrived the cheese on it was clearly not brie but most definitely blue cheese. We tried explaining to the staff what was wrong but the language barrier just could not be breached. After our interesting breakfast we headed back to the room to hide from the heat. We spent the rest of the afternoon reading and watching movies on tv. That evening we emerged to check out the infamous Koh Tao pub crawl. The first stop on the crawl was an Aussie bar for free buckets (our first ones in SEA). The next stop was at a pool bar where they offered free shots to anyone who got in the pool but the pool’s water was so hot that almost no one got in (except for a naked guy of course). Our favourite stop of the night was to a ladyboy cabaret show where a bunch of dressed to the nines ladyboys lip-synced to amazing song choices. Next it was back to the Aussie bar for some live music. The final stop of the night was to a beach bar for some fire dancing.

We spent most of the next day after the pub crawl nursing our hangovers in bed watching even more movies. The only productive thing that we managed to do was go out for a super delicious pizza dinner, such amazing food and service!

For our last day in Koh Tao we finally decided to actually get out and do something so we hopped into a longtail boat and headed over to Koh Nang Yuan, a small island just out from Sairee Beach. Once on the island we hiked up to the view point to take a few very sweaty pictures. Afterwards we headed down to the beach to do a bit of snorkelling over a strange looking coral forest called the Japanese Gardens. We headed back to the mainland just in time to catch the sun sink into the ocean.

We were up early the next day to catch our taxi to the ferry that would take us over to Koh Phangan.

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Island Hopping Begins

5 May

The beginning to our island adventure started with a scramble to find a bus/ferry to take us over to our first island. Koh Samui. We straight away encountered a couple problems; the airport did not have internet, I did not screen cap our hotel reservation, and no one at the ferry desk knew the hotel that I had booked resulting in a bunch of confused Thai men staring at me needing to know what beach we needed to be dropped off at. Finally after one of the ferry attendants had called about five different people someone recognized our hotel name and set us straight, phew. For the next two hours we settled into our double decker bus ride to the ferry docks. At the docks we quickly boarded our ferry and were off into the open ocean. When we arrived on Koh Samui we ushered on to a mini bus and driven around the island to Lamai Beach and our hotel for the next three nights, Samui Beach Resort. We spent the rest of the day relaxing in the fantastic hotel pool, swimming at the beach and lounging by the bar/restaurant, nothing more than a perfect afternoon in paradise. I had booked us into a fan only room (our first night without a/c in Asia) but after a night spent dying of heat and unable to sleep due to the neighboring bar blasting music (at least for me, Braden can sleep through anything) I decided that I am an a/c kind of girl.

The next morning we found ourselves at reception booking our next ferry over to Koh Tao when I casually asked if we could upgrade to a room with a/c for our final night and as luck would have it they actually had an a/c room available to move in to right there and then for only a minimal extra fee, yay!! After I happily cooled down in our new room we set out to see what the rest of the Lamai beach main strip looked like, which is not that much though we did stumble upon a sign directing us towards a viewpoint. At the base of the view point there was a little waterfall and the hike up wasn’t too bad. The view of the beach from the lookout was pretty beautiful. After our hike we were hot and sweaty so some serious time in the ocean and pool was required. After dinner that night we decided to take a long walk down the beach to check out some other the other hotels/restaurants. Since we had brought some money along we stopped and smoked some shisha at Swing Bar and got to watch as people sent off lanterns up into the sky. As luck would have it we also happened to be at the bar during one of its nightly fire shows, our first in Asia. After all of the walking that we had done during the day, that night I slept like a baby in our nice cold room.

For our last day in Koh Samui we decided to do what most tourists do in Asia and rented a scooter. Parents and family reading this we are safely intact with not even a scrape on us. We headed off down the highway to find the next beach North of Lamai, Chaweng Beach. Chaweng is much more of the party/shopping beach but since I wasn’t feeling super well that day we opted to do more observing while having a nice quite lunch followed by some reading on shaded beach chairs. Since we wasted most of the day reading we figured it was better to return to our own beach before it got dark and navigating got tougher. Braden was exceptionally good with the scooter and we managed to make it back without getting lost and in one piece. That evening after a dip in the pool we headed over to the view point at the end of the beach near us to watch the sunset. We hit the hay not long after our mini hike as we had to be up early in order to catch our mini bus that would take us to our next ferry. Koh Tao, here we come!

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The Super Ks

5 May

Our boat ride back to Bali was a little bumpier the second time around but nonetheless we made it safely back to Padang Bai in one piece. We managed to navigate through the bus transfer madness and made it back to Pop! Hotel just in time to crash for a late afternoon nap. After realizing that it had been hours since we last ate we went for a late lunch/early dinner at a nearby restaurant where I devoured two appetizers and a main dish. After dinner we curled up in our room watching tv till we passed out very early.

The next morning we awoke quite refreshed and ready for another long day. We got packed, had breakfast and even managed to sneak in a quick swim before checking out of our last room in Indonesia. After leaving our big backpacks at the front desk we ventured down to the beach for some last Indonesian rays. We took a break from tanning to have lunch at a funky restaurant just off the beach that had really yummy food. We spent some time after lunch wandering through some of the shops in town and running a few last minute errands while making our way to a more northern part of the beach. Back on the beach we rented some shaded chairs and a surf board which we tried to use (Braden was far more successful than I). As the sun began to set we said our goodbyes to Kuta Beach, walked back to the hotel, grabbed our bags and headed off to the airport. We got through security quickly and managed to only find one restaurant on the other side that served crappy and expensive food, not the best last meal in Indonesia. After being wholly unimpressed by the Denpasar International Terminal we boarded our first Air Asia flight bound for Kuala Lumpur. (Note to those planning on traveling with Air Asia, you have to purchase all snacks and drinks on the plane, there isn’t even complimentary water!)

The flight was over quickly and we soon found ourselves in the arrivals terminal at KLIA LCCT searching for our driver who was supposed to meet us and take us into the city. Luck however was not on our side that night and no driver was found, even after multiple calls to our hotel’s front desk. Finally at about 1:30am we decided to abandon hope of our driver ever arriving and hopped into a taxi instead. By the time we reached the hotel we had just enough energy to check in and make it up to our room before passing out. For the next two nights we would be staying at the Orange Pekoe Guesthouse, a lovely little place that was very clean and not too far from everything we wanted to see in the city. After a bit of a sleep in we got a late start to our first full day in Kuala Lumpur. Our plan for the day was to see the newer downtown part of the city and most importantly check out the Petronas Twin Towers. While making our way downtown we stopped at the KL Tower and had lunch at a very Irish pub (strange to find in the middle of the Malaysian capital city). We managed to make it to the Petronas Towers just as it started to pour so we delayed picture taking and instead took refuge in the huge fancy mall at the base of the towers. We spent the next few hours wandering around the mall till the rain finally cleared out so we could take some pictures of both the towers and the fountains in the park behind them. Our goal had been to climb the tower but we were informed that tickets to go up went on sale at 9am (for which you have to line up at 8am) and they usually sold out then, aka we were out of luck. To kill the next few hours we decided to pop into the mall’s movie theatre and check out the latest Johnny Depp film Transcendence (interesting idea to being with but they took it way too far). By the time the movie had finished night had fallen so we popped outside to check out the towers lit up in all of their glory. I must say that seeing the Petronas Towers at night is one of the most beautiful architectural wonders that I have seen so far in my life (sorry CN you just can’t compete).

For our second day in the city we decided to check out some of the older parts of the city starting with the Central Market located near Chinatown. The market had lots of cool souvenirs and art but since we were on a budget we only bought one picture done in the Arch style, which is a common art form in Malaysia. We next wandered over the river and into the heart of the old city coming out right near the old British Parliament building. We stumbled in to the City museum and spent some time learning about the history of the city. After the museum we went and checked out part of the botanical gardens and made a stop at the KL Planetarium (mostly to hang out in their a/c). To get home we decided to hop into a cab which ended up badly for us as we were over charged and dropped far away from home. In the end everything worked out and we managed to be lost for only a brief moment. Later that evening we went out in search of dinner only to discover that all this time we had been staying right near a restaurant/bar hotspot, silly us. We had a lovely last meal in Malaysia at a hip restaurant along the strip.

The next morning we woke bright and early to meet our taxi to the airport, which actually showed up this time. Navigating the Low Cost Carrier Terminal at KLIA is a horrendous experience, the signs are unhelpful the many lines were long and slow moving and the maze-like set up of the whole terminal is quite confusing. I sincerely hope the new KLIA 2 terminal opens up soon cause the old terminal sucks. In the end we made our Air Asia flight to Surathani only slightly worse for wear.

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Paradise Island

24 Apr

In Padang Bai we met up with the Semaya One cruise team who would be in charge of safely getting us across the strait and over to the island of Gili Trawangan. I had first heard of Gili T last summer when a friend I had made on my last Beach Travellers trip had posted on her blog about her fantastic time there and boy did it ever look like paradise. The first thing I saw when we got to Gili T was the white sand beach, palm trees and perfect turquoise water (aka heaven). The boat ride had thankfully been uneventful but it was nice to be back on land and we made quick work of finding our hotel amidst all of the chaos on the main strip. We would be spending the next four nights at Tir Na Nog, a lovely little hotel complex with a swimming pool and an Irish pub (of course). After some resting up we set out to find a spot to go for a swim. What was supposed to be just a short stroll ended up being a walk around the entire island with a few failed attempts at actual swimming. All the spots that we tried to swim were both too shallow and the bottom was full of sharp coral, aka not much fun. For dinner that night we had a lovely BBQ dinner at Scallywags just down the road from our hotel. Since we had napped that day neither of us were that tired after dinner so we wandered down the main strip to see what there was to do at night on Gili T. On our walk earlier in the day we had noticed a few restaurants offering shisha so we decided to check out the cheapest one and had a great time just relaxing on the beach under the stars.

We managed to finally find the main beach early the next morning and spent the rest of it lounging in the shade reading and swimming in the warm tropical water. For lunch we decided to check out a luxury resort that offered the privilege of using their facilities to any paying restaurant guest. We lounged around on the beach chairs for a bit doing some more reading (I managed to finish the new Veronica Mars novel, which is awesome for fans of the show) before heading over to check out the fancy pool that had its own waterfall. In the evening we walked around to a bar on the other side of the island to watch the sun set over Bali while chowing down on some of the best spring rolls I have ever had. After a super cheap pasta dinner we decided to check out the local movie theater which was showing Pulp Fiction (one of my favourites) and offered free popcorn with your ticket.

For our second day in Gili T we decided to do an all day snorkeling trip which we signed up for at our hotel. We set out to the Northern tip of Gili T for our first snorkel spot over a shallow coral reef teeming with fish. The second spot was off the North East coast of Gili Meno where we jumped in the water and then followed a Balinese guide down the edge of the reef for about 150 meters. Our guide was super awesome and would dive down to show us different marine creatures and then tell us about them. The best part of the whole day was when we came across a big sea turtle not far down bellow the surface, our guide even swam down to try and get him to swim up to us but that failed. After the turtle disappeared we hopped back in to the boat and headed over to Gili Air where we disembarked for lunch. After a quick lunch we got back on the boat and headed over to the East coast of Gili Air for our last snorkel spot. All in all the Gili islands offered some of the best snorkeling I have done to date (even better than the Great Barrier Reef). Back on Gili T we hit up an indian restaurant for dinner before heading out for a night on the town where we played beer pong against a couple from Germany and checked out Gili T’s own (very small) full moon party (they’ve got nothing on Koh Phangan).

Most of our final day was spent recovering from the night before and I don’t think we ventured too far till past noon. When we finally did decide to face the day we chose to rent some bikes from our hotel and bike up to a restaurant on the North East tip of the island. We had a lovely lunch with a very friendly cat before continuing on to bike around the whole island. After a quick jump in the pool we headed out for dinner and then back to the movie theater, this time to see 21 Jump Street. The next morning we got up super early in order to watch the sun rise over Lombok which was so peaceful. After the sun was up we went for one last visit to the Turtle sanctuary to say bye to the baby turtles before biking back to our hotel.
We had one final free breakfast at Tir Na Nog before meeting back up with the Semaya one crew and boarding our boat back to Bali.

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Arrival In South East Asia

21 Apr

After our sad goodbyes to the country that we called home for 6 months we hopped on a plane to our first South East Asian destination, Bali. We flew into the Denpasar International Airport and made our way to Pop! Hotel in Kuta Beach where we would spend a few days easing into Asia. Once we arrived at our hotel we quickly discovered that in my hasty planning I had managed to book our reservation for May instead of April (whoops!) but that was luckily sorted out and we got our room for that night. Tired from our trip, we hit the hay as soon as we got through the door.

The hotel we stayed at offered free breakfast which was served in a banana leaf and contained some spicy noodles and unidentifiable stuff as well as green rice, it was definitely an interesting introduction to food in Bali. To get our bearings we decided to start with a long walk through downtown Kuta and over to the beach. Downtown was hot and crammed full of vendors selling your usual SEA wares, knock-off watches, beer logo tank tops, hippy pants, and all sorts of other bric-a-bracs. By the time we hit the beach we were both a sweaty mess so we opted to rent some beach chairs with an umbrella and hide in the shade instead of sweltering it out on the hot sand. We took our first dip in the ocean since leaving Australia and spent the rest of our beach time drinking Bintang (Braden) and getting a massage (myself). We left the beach in search of lunch and new sunglasses for me as I had managed to lose my pair while swimming in the oceans (damn waves). The rest of that afternoon was spent napping and swimming in the hotel’s beautiful pool. For dinner that night we tried to locate the night market but when we failed to do so we instead opted to just grab dinner at a random place on the main strip. After dinner we hit up Sky Garden to check out their all you can drink hour (which in fact served very strong and not very tasty drinks but hey, they were free!). We ended up chilling at the rooftop patio smoking some shisha and talking to random travelers from across the globe.

For our second day in Bali we decided to take a day trip up to Ubud since we had heard a lot of good things about it. We ended up with a private driver for the day which was pretty sweet especially for the price of 40$. We spent the morning checking out various local craft markets that included Batik painting, stone carving, painting and the making of silver jewelry. Our guide for the day suggested we make an additional stop to try Luwak coffee and we decided why not. Luwak coffee is the most expensive coffee pound for pound in the world and it is made by having a animal (the Luwak) eat and digest a certain type of coffee bean which is then fermented in its stomach and pooped out. The poop is then collected, cleaned, ground and roasted to create a very strong but not very bitter coffee. While at the Luwak place we got to see some monkeys, Luwaks, bats, coffee trees and the process of how they make the coffee. After our tour we got to sample the various beverages the place produces including a super yummy lemon tea and a ginseng coffee (which was our favourite). Braden even opted to pay a bit extra to try a cup of the famous Luwak coffee, which made the regular Balinese coffee taste like water. Also included in our tour was a stop at the Ubud monkey temple where we got to hang out with a bunch of monkeys. Many funny pictures ensued. Our last stop for the day was in the town centre where we grabbed lunch and checked out some of the local market stalls. Once back in Kuta we were both craving pizza so we ventured to a nearby Italian restaurant that felt very authentic and served yummy italian food. All in all it was a very successful day.

The next morning we had to get up super early to meet our bus transfer that would take us to Padang Bai Pier where we would meet our speedboat bound for Gili Trawangan.

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Australia: The Rest

16 Apr

After our camper van adventures we spent the holidays at my dad’s friend’s house in a southern suburb of Brisbane. It was weird celebrating Christmas while it was 30 degrees outside and we spent the better part of every day in the pool. For my birthday we went in to the city to Southbank to see the new Hobbit movie and have a yummy dinner. Just before New Years we switched locations and headed up North of Brisbane to stay with another one of my dad’s friends and his family for a few days. We had a lovely time with them and their dogs and had a fun time partying with everyone on NYE. After the holidays it was time to get down to business and we began our house hunting search back in downtown Brisbane.

We managed to find a place in Fortitude Valley, the heart of Brisbane’s entertainment district. It was great to have a home base again and regular internet but we couldn’t just settled down and relax for ever so it was time to find a job. Finding a job ended up being the hard part, Braden tried out a few jobs including telemarketing and moving which didn’t quite pan out and I had a long streak of nothing till a local Italian restaurant finally called me back in mid-February. Not long after I scored my job Braden switched up his resume tactics (going for more humour) and landed a job by the end of February at a small Mexican take away place. During February we did manage to hit up a water park, Seaworld, check out Surfers Paradise for a day, spend a few days down in Byron Bay catching waves (and sunburns), cuddle a koala and check out the wildlife at the Lone Pine’s Koala Sanctuary, as well as exploring more of Brisbane.

Once we started working we realized that our part time jobs just weren’t going to be enough to sustain us in the long term so we made the decision to start planning our route back to Canada a little earlier than we had planned. Australia is just quite an expensive place to live. March did consist of a lot of planning but we also managed to have some fun. We caught some awesome live performances by Macklemore, Deadmau5 and more at Future Music Festival. For our final big trip in Australia we decided to check out Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands since we had heard so much about it. Most people choose to see the islands by taking a multi-night sailing trip out to them but I am not the biggest fan of being on a boat for too long so we opted to take two day trips out from Airlie instead. The day we arrived in Airlie it was super hot and sunny out but that would be the last time we would see the sun during our time there. Our first day trip took us out to the tail end of the Great Barrier Reef (I figured Braden couldn’t leave Oz without seeing it) but due to the bad weather we encountered some pretty crazy waves out on the open ocean making me feel pretty sea sick for most of the day. After spending our whole second day hiding inside from the rain (well more like drinking inside the hostel’s bar) we were starting to feel less enthusiastic about spending another day out on the rain and wavy ocean. In the end our ocean rafting day trip out to see more of the islands, including the famous Whitehaven Beach, was rainy and a little chilly but we still managed to have a good time. Another unique Australian experience that we simply couldn’t leave without checking out was an AFL game and boy was it a lot of fun. During our last weekend in Brisbane we hopped down to the Gold Coast to attend Supernova (a mini comic convention) where Braden got to see a live LOL finals match and I got to see some of the unreleased Black Milk pieces (win win for both of us). Finally after some sad goodbyes to new friends we departed Brisbane for South East Asia to continue our adventures (in much cheaper countries).

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The Promised Camper Van Post

15 Apr

I know it has been ages and ages since I last wrote a post and for that I’m sorry. As most of you know my boyfriend Braden met up with me in mid-December and we immediately set out on a week long camper-van road trip around the Sunshine Coast. Our first stop was in Mooloolaba for lunch and a brief stroll down the beach. We spent our first night in Noosa (I just had to go back) in a very cheap and unpowered camper site, which kind of sucked since all of our electronics happened to all die that day of course. For our first full day in Noosa we decided to hike through the same National Park that Grace and I previously hiked through only this time we went all the way down to the beach in Alexandria Bay. The beach ended up being a clothing optional beach so needless to say we saw a few naked grannies and grandpas wandering around (we however chose to remain clothed). After Noosa we drove further up the coast to Rainbow Beach, a sleepy little town that serves as the less busy gateway to Fraser Island. We stayed in a fantastic camper park right behind the main strip and directly across from the beach. Since our camper did not have 4 wheel drive we decided to book a day tour out to Fraser Island. On our day trip we saw a few dingos, tons of dead jellyfish, the shipwrecked S.S. Maheno, swam in Lake McKenzie, and wadded down Eli Creek.

We left Rainbow beach early the next day to head to the small town of Tin Can Bay in order to feed some dolphins that come in every day for breakfast. We spent the rest of that day making our way first through the town of Gympie then down the highway and through the hills and valleys of the inner part of the Sunshine Coast on route to Monteville. My dad recommended we check out this little sleepy hill town that boasted tons of B&Bs, quirky gift shops and lots of little restaurants. We had a wander through the little town and grabbed some lunch there before continuing down to our next camper site for the night. The other town my dad suggested we check out was Maleny which was just a little ways up the road from our camper site and we decided to pop into a local winery for a tasting (and a little shopping) on the way. The town of Maleny itself is quite small and very eco-orientated, boasting lots of organic stores and vegan restaurants. Our final stop along the Sunshine coast was Caloundra for a late breakfast but we didn’t stay long because storm clouds began rolling in.

Our last night in the camper was spent in a small camper park off a back road in Yatala, just south of Brisbane. The reason we stayed at such a random place was because of its proximity to a drive-in movie theatre which I had never been to before. We saw Anchorman 2 and Hunger Games 2 all from the comfort of our camper van’s bed, such a perfect date night. Our final day was spent at the Warner Brothers Movie World theme park for a day full of rides.

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A musical farewell

23 Dec

Our flight back to Brisbane despite the delays was a breeze and we managed to navigate back to the Brisbane City YHA without much trouble. Back at the hostel my dad met us for a quick drink before he had to rush home to pack for his Christmas vacation. That night we decided we were too tired to make our own dinner so we wandered down to a nearby Thai restuarant for a delicious feast.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to hit the shops to get some last minute stuff for Stereosonic. The route to the festival was pretty fast and easy and soon we found ourselves in a massive line slowly working our way into the RNA showgrounds ready for a full day of electronic music. I’ve been to a few festivals in the past few years but this was my biggest one yet, with 6 stages and a main stage set in a stadium. First up we caught the tail end of Will Sparks’ set who I had never previously heard of but was pretty sweet and I definitely plan on checking out some of his stuff. Zedd was up next and he played everything that you would expect him to. After Zedd we took a wander around the showgrounds to grab some food and catch parts of Nicky Romero and Sebastian Ingrosso. We rested up and I got my energy back with the help of a big red bull so that we could make it till the end of the night. After Ingrosso a lot of people left the main stage but we stuck around and actually got a good spot before Empire of the Sun hit the stage. Empire of the Sun was definitely something different with their live band, dancers and ridiculous costumes. Last up for us on the main stage for the day was Calvin Harris. This was my fourth time seeing Calvin Harris live and I must say this was my least favourite set that I have seen him play, his new music is just a bunch of bro-house music and less awesome old school Calvin. After the disappointment that was Calvin we switched stages to the Sonic stage for some Aussie drum&bass with Shockone. Even though I managed to only catch 20 minutes of Shockone’s set he was by far my favourite act of the day. We tried to stay to see Boys Noize but were so exhausted that we ended up leaving early and catching the free train back to the hostel to pass out.
The next morning I managed to catch the pancake breakfast at the hostel, which was actually super disapointing as I had one burnt pancake and one that was still uncooked. After my sad breakfast I decided to relax by the pool and rest up before another long day of dancing. We got ready pretty quick for day two and decided to head over to the festival with the two Americans staying in our room. Again we got to the festival early enough to catch another random act this time being the Stafford Brothers. The brothers definitely had a lot of energy along with a giant kangaroo but they only played on of their own songs. First up for people that we were there to see was the Bingo Players who I had seen once before and were just as mediocre the second time around, though they did play Cry (Just a Little) this time. After the Bingo Players we said bye to our American friends for the day and headed out to find some food and more red bull for me. Finally we were into the best acts of the weekend (in my opinion) starting with I Am Legion at the UFK bass stage. I Am Legion is the new drum&bass and rap combo of Noisia and Foreign Beggars and they were unbelievably awesome. We changed stages to the Sonic stage to catch The Bloody Beetroots live set compltely with full band, they were insane! Krewella then took the stage and yet again blew me away for the third time with their amazing singing. Finally headlining for the closing night we caught the opening and closing of Nero (with their full live performance) and the middle of Doctor P’s set (during which he played all of the songs I wanted to hear him play). Both headliners were everything I wanted to see and more. By the time we hit the train my body was just about ready to give out from too much dancing and headbanging. That night we pretty much crawled into bed and even managed to sleep in the next day.
When we finally managed to drag ourselves out of bed we were starved but the cafe downstairs in the hostel was no longer serving breakfast so we had to limp down the road to get food. We ended up stumbling upon this adorable little breakfast nook that served us the best breakfast of our entire trip. The food did its trick and we had enough energy to make a trek out to southbank for an afternoon swim at the Brisbane city lagoon. For our last dinner together we went to an indian restaurant on the southbank since Grace had never tried indian before. After dinner we went to a sangria bar for some yummy refreshments for dessert. Back at the hostel Grace had some serious packing to do so I went and caught most of X-Men First Class, such an awesome movie (with some pretty good eye candy in it). The next morning we woke up very early so that Grace could catch the train transfer to the airport. We said a quick goodbye since neither of us functions very well before 7am and I wished her a very safe trip home. So concludes the adventures with Grace but stay posted for more adventures coming soon 🙂

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To the Port and Beyond

18 Dec

First off, sorry that I haven’t been updating this blog in the past little bit, things have been pretty crazy here down under so I haven’t had as much free internet time. Last time that I left off Grace and I were headed northward to Port Douglas from Cairns. Our lovely hostel Dougies Backpackers provided us with a free coach up the coast which made getting to the Port a breeze. After settling in to our quiet (finally) private room we decided to check out the 4 Mile Beach and walk up to town to do a bit of window shopping. That night we decided to splurge on a nice dinner at a local italian restaurant, my seafood pizza was delicious! We were pretty beat from another travel day so we headed back to the room fairly early that night and took advantage of the tv with cable in our room. The next morning we wandered back in to town for breakfast and to check out the amazing viewpoint of the beach since the sun had been hiding from us the previous day. Upon returning to our hostel we sorted out our tours for the next two days and hit the hay pretty early to rest up for our big adventures. Our first day tour was up to the Daintree rainforest beginning with a river cruise up the Daintree River during which we were supposed to see some crocodiles but we had no such luck since it was high tide, oh well. Next we journeyed up into the heart of the jungle for a mini jungle trek lead by our awesome tour guide who we chatted to for most of the walk. Up at Cape Tribulation we stopped for a quick peak at the beautiful sparkly beach (no really the sand is actually sparkles, see photo below) and for a quick provided lunch. On the way back down we stopped at a jungle ice cream shop which sold soooo many different flavour combinations, but of course I ended up with triple chocolate. We did a brief stop at the gorgeous Alexandra Mountain lookout before hopping back across the Daintree River and down to Mossman Gorge. At the Gorge we met with an Australian aboriginal who taught us about his culture and how his people makes use of the rainforest and its resources. After the talk we were bussed up to the swimming hole for a quick dip, I however did not get in as the water was far too cold (I know I make a terrible Canadian). Our bus then dropped us off at home and we went pretty much straight to bed since we had an even earlier start to make the following day. Our second day trip included a visit to the Wildlife Habitat for a breakfast buffet with the birds, basically the birds just kind of hung out around the dinning area which was kind of neat. We had some time to explore the rest of the mini zoo after breakfast and we got to feed some happy wallabies and kangaroos and check out tons of cool birds, crocs and koalas. We had just enough time to squeeze in some pictures of us holding a koala named Samson. Our real tour then started with Brett’s Kuranda Half Day Tour which picked us up right at the entrance to the habitat. Our tour was super small, just Brett an older married couple and us, score. We drove back down the very scenic highway and then hopped on the Kuranda skyrail over the jungle. The skyrail was just as awesome as I remember it being from when I was little. Up in Kuranda we were given some free time to wander through the hippy markets and shops and grab a bite for lunch. We had a yummy little lunch at this adorable little Crepe cafe. After lunch we dropped the couple off at the Kuranda Scenic Train (which us poor people couldn’t afford) and we were instead deposited at the sad mall at the bottom of the mountain for about an hour of mindless wandering. We then picked up the couple and headed over to Palm Cove for a drink on the waterfront, quite lovely. After being dropped off back at home and me promising the couple that I would definitely check out Tasmania we collapsed in to our bed only to realize that we had no way of getting to the airport in the morning, whoops. We woke up nice and early the next morning to talk to the lovely ladies at reception and managed to even score a free upgrade to a private airport limo, win!!! Our flight back down to Brisbane ended up being delayed so we spent a bunch of extra time in the Cairns airport but oh well what can you do. I promise to have the last chapter of me and Grace’s adventures soon!!!

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