So I’ve just finished a four month trip around several countries and am eager to tell ya a story! It’s hard to pick a few magical moments that happened because I have a jar full of fairy dust to share, however, I shall provide you with a little anecdote on each trip.
A good friend Dustin invited me to join him on a trek through New Zealand, from the minute we set sail I could tell this journey was going to add some memories to the bank. It wasn’t long before Dustin, Marika, Maureen and I were captivated by the beauty of 90 mile beach. We marched jaws dropped, eyes glared as the sun glistened off the Tasman sea. Making it to the bluff was the plan on that day and one that got achieved, we had hiked over 40 kilometers and was out of water upon arrival so leaving the ladies to set up the tent me and dusty foraged water from a stream we spotted further back. The stream was rather disappointing after a long day of sun beaten walking, I was hoping for it to be much larger and colder, possibly even holding a beer for my arrival but instead we laughed as we gulped sandy water from a barely moving stream of life. It was most fortunate that dusty still had his hat on so we opted for natures tea, a combo of water provided by mother nature herself filtered through a stinky, sweaty hat (got a lot of love for that hat).
The tide was low and we were hungry, lucky for us the sea had kindly provided with an abundance of fresh muscles and just before dark we managed to attain the resources for a well deserved campfire. We huddled around singing Bob Marley and Biggie sharing experiences, opinions and outlooks on life while feasting on rice, garlic and the well needed fresh muscles. We laughed, joked and found ourselves mesmerized by the star lit sky. The southern hemisphere is simply breathtaking at times, and it’s the nights like this where you truly connect with nature, the people around you, and yourself.
My eyes had been on Vietnam for a while and when it was time to move on I flew straight to Ho Chi Minh City and made my way around the country. Cat Ba Island immediately springs to mind. We caught the ferry over and I had just learnt how to sit on my bike like a local so as the sun came out I did what anyone would do given the situation, kick back and relax. The coastal road from the port to our hostel was utterly phenomenal, the sun was setting as the scenes changed from winded sea view roads to traditional farms just as any screensaver would do. Our bikes were tested to the limit as we made it in land on what can only be described as a rocky, gravel, death trap, the sun beamed through the cracks of the limestone caves as we worked our way to Cat Hai.
We swiftly checked in and went straight out for food, the pair of us hadn’t eaten hardly anything all day and were now hangry. Enjoying a lovely plate of water spinach, garlic, chilli and rice, accompanied by a spring roll or two when to our surprise some friends Alice & Paul whom we had previously met turned the corner! Discussing Cat Ba plans over a drink they were quick to tell us of this boat trip they had booked and how they were the only ones on it so far, it didn’t take long before our minds were made and we was joining the Irish duo on an adventure. The first day the crew from asiaoutdoors took us to Lan Han Bay to become Spiderman for the day, the first sight was unreal, huge limestone caves burst out of the ocean creating lagoons with white sandy beaches, the boat got as close to bay as it could and the rest was up to us, the first challenge, making our way over barnacle infested rocks to ensure we didn’t get wet as the salt water from our shorts will damage the gear. Stepping on to the bay and seeing what I had signed up for was a good laugh, there’s nothing quite like the thrill you feel from something you’ve never done before, the fear of the unknown, the overcoming of yet another thing to be achieved. Rock climbing is extremely satisfying, challenging and fucking fun with stunning views at the top, I will certainly be doing more climbing in the future!
Before dark we made our way back to the boat for a feast the crew had cooked up. Lots of tofu, vegetables and spring rolls accompanied with a mug of rice wine.As did the conversations, the drinks started flowing and before we knew it we were top deck lying under the light of the super moon listening to Pink Floyd sharing experiences between the crew, us and a super cool father and daughter that were also on the trip. The bay was silent, we were surrounded by limestone caves as far as the eye could see, the stars danced in the back drop of the awe inspiring super moon as we lay relaxing on our backs floating around the bay full of bio-luminescent plankton.
Not that I needed much encouragement but my friend kindly offered two beers to get my kit off and jump in off the top deck, so as my eyes opened the next morning to the stunning views I thought it’d only be fair to give everyone something else to look at!
A lovely dip in the cool sea certainly got me moving fast and I’m glad it did as breakfast had just been served. Today consisted of kayaking, sunbathing and food, to me any day that is filled with food is a good day. We spent half of the day kayaking around the floating villages and through the picturesque views of the bay, entering into realms of paradise as we found hidden lagoons and untouched beaches. To top it all of, as if life could get any better, on the way back to the port we witnessed the most silencing sunset I have ever placed my eyes on, everyone stopped as they focused on the beauty of what nature was providing us with. The blood orange rays pierced through the caves creating streaks of light, a small fishing boat made it’s way out and helped master a traditional Vietnamese scene.
After three months of hiking and driving around remote countries I was more than ready to get back to a city and enjoy some creature comforts. First stop; Kuala Lumpur, Reggae Mansion, to throw down my shit and have a nice rest, of course that never happens… Within five minutes I was in the pub playing pool with a dude from Libya drinking a well deserved and missed Stella Artois jamming out to the finest music in the world… Reggae.
The next four days I roamed around the city checking out what Kuala Lumpur has to offer and I was pleasantly surprised, the architectural design of the city is incredible. The mosques are intricately designed, KL Towers and the Petronas Twin towers are shining beacons of light creating a wonderful skyline at night where you can spend many hours on rooftop bars with friends dancing, drinking and looking over the city.
It was time to move on so I jumped on a bus to Singapore, which I was over the moon with to be honest, the bus cost me somewhat around $15 AUD and took me direct to Singapore central relaxing in a reclined seat with a power point. It was a little bizarre at times crossing through borders via a bus, I had never done this before and thought several times that I’d get through to the other side so see my bus leaving, but the driver was very good and waited for me every time (yes, I was the last one back every time I didn’t have a pen on me and could only fill out the forms after finding someone with the time to lend me theirs).
First impressions of Singapore was ‘wow this place is clean!’, there is literally no litter, no cigarette butts or chewing gum anywhere! The city design is very cool, lots of gardens to walk through, lots of view points looking over the funky design of the city, although the hostel I stayed in was expensive for a very small 6 person dorm it was in a great location based in china town, being a 20 minute walk from Marina bay sands and right next door to a traditional Malaysian vegan restaurant, I was very happy.
I have to be honest I switched back to the ol’ museum pose, hands locked behind my back standing with correct posture as I waltzed around admiring the beauty of the modern city. Singapore made me feel like a flash packer for a brief few days, although I knew my bank account had seen better days just the fact that I was in Singapore walking around the Marina bay sands hotel somewhat brought me back to reality, it was definitely time to move on.
I flew to Bali that night arriving at the Eco Living hostel in Kuta around 2 am after sharing a cab with a Swiss airline hostess who I had met in line waiting to get our passport stamped, funnily enough she had far too much alcohol on her and asked if I would take some through customs for her, of course I agreed, It isn’t in my nature to turn down a beautiful Swiss airline hostess and she obviously picked her victim very well!
Initially I hadn’t even planned on going to Bali, and to be completely honest when I left Australia I had only decided on New Zealand so the fact that I managed to hop around as many countries as I did was great! But, there wasn’t much plan, which is no change really as I have given up with travel planning as it all goes to shit anyway, but I didn’t know a thing about Bali, I didn’t know any of the language and turning up at 2 am isn’t exactly the greatest time to arrive unknown to a place.
The next day I got chatting to some locals and managed to work out a rough idea of what I wanted to do… which turned out to be absolutely fuck all. I was coming to the end of a 4 month trip and as excited as I was to be in such a beautiful, new country, my life story was now rehearsed, I was tired of meeting new people, run down from moving hostel every few days and to up to my eyeballs with the hassle of bargaining to not get ripped off. The plan was set.
I had just done thousands of kilometers around Vietnam and made it very clear to myself not to get back on a bike, well… a day later I had hired a bike for two weeks and was on my way to Uluwatu. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, there is a path for you and mine had just been laid out for me. Driving around Uluwatu it became evident that there was no hostels, this place had style, it was nothing like I had EVER stayed in since I left to travel. Beautiful little villas and apartments with private swimming pools, intense gardens full of life and colour for a cheap rate. I pulled into a place called Gobleg Inn and immediately felt at home, I shall post a picture below of just how relaxing and beautiful this place is. I met a Brazilian lady called Maristella who I shared a lot of common interests with, immediately we started chatting about Reggae and business which are two subjects close to my heart, to add to our awesomeness a South African dude rolled in called Mike and the trouble started! As I was saying, everything happens for a reason, just when I was up to my eyeballs with stress I met the most interesting, relaxing, cool human beings.
After spending a few days in Uluwatu beach hunting, sunbathing, and eating as much nasi campur as possible it was time to move on! The three of us packed up and headed for Canngu.
I spent just over a week in Canngu and absolutely loved it, it was exactly what I needed! It was December and rain season which meant a few hours of precipitation every day around lunch time, but this didn’t bother me in the slightest, I had been travelling in rain season for months and quite enjoyed the fact that it’s a lot quieter, cheaper and to take a break from the Australian sun was nice.
Indonesian food is simply incredible, the quantity of food you receive for the price is somewhat unbelievable, I would more often than not pay extra as I simply do not understand how they can plate up a dish for that cheap. It’s not even like the foods bad either, it’s bloody lovely! And very healthy! Of a day time we’d be jamming out on the beach singing along with Mike and his Ukulele, there is also a really cool bar called “Hidden beach bar” on Berawa beach about 150 metres past Finns, look for a big swing painted Rasta colours here you will find a man named Ari, he is an absolute geeza and loves his reggae, we took it in turns sharing our music and educating one another about our homeland.
At night you was spoilt with places to go from Dieus where you can get a free tattoo with your tacos to a raunchy Wild West bar filled with poles and a sex swing, or you can hang out at Pretty Poison drink beer, listen to rock n roll and watch some skaters shred the shit out the bowl.
One of my friends from home messaged me asking If I’d like to go to a water park in Kuta, I didn’t even realise Ash was in Bali, I guess it was kind of obvious as he had been uploading pictures on Instagram for the past month but I thought he was back in Australia, turns out he’s flying back the day after the water park. Anyway, back to Kuta, and what a few days it was! Ash and I have been in the same country as one another but never managed to cross paths so It was very nice to meet up with him and exactly what I needed. The water park was great fun, one slide you stand on a platform as a door seals around you, the floor then drops from underneath sending you down at an alarming rate. I will never forget one mans reaction, he was with his son and quite clearly wasn’t looking forward to this slide, as the door closed his smile turned upside down, the floor dropped and the loudest scream left this mans body. It was hilarious, we followed directly after and chuckled to him as our bodies plunged out of the water.
I had applied for my second year visa for Australia at the end of September but had experienced some issues, as far as I’m aware everything was now ok with my application but still had not heard back. I was discussing this with Ash and friends in the evening before we went out and made the most of all you can drink for $10, which may I add turned out to be a night that got danced away! We rocked up to this bar and was the only ones in there, as you do, we requested the DJ to play some bangers and danced our little socks off. Few hours went by and more people started to join in, the drinks were flowing and shapes were getting cut, there was bumping and grinding, slut dropping and roboting! Before we knew it we had created the party, our moves had paid off and the whole place was electrifying!
The next day I woke up to an email from Australian Immigration granting me my visa, I simply could not believe it, I got my friend to check just to make sure I wasn’t still pissed. Ash and friends were flying back to Darwin and I had been hoping that my visa got granted before Christmas as I didn’t really fancy spending it on my own in Bali and WHAM! So I booked my flight back to Melbourne for that evening.
I wasn’t sad that my trip was over because as one door closes another opens, I can’t put into words how amazing this year has been, achieving things I had dreamed of for years and to find true happiness from within. The hairs on my body are standing as I write this just thinking back on the my travels because I simply can not express myself on paper. I would love to share more about each trip but don’t think I have the capability to sit still long enough! So many wonderful sights, beautiful human beings and good food everywhere! I have worked only 7 months this year leaving me a hefty 5 months to explore and have the time of my life, even in the 7 months I worked I’ve had many different jobs and was always moving around. You do not have to live a 9 – 5, you do not need a mortgage, keep life interesting, step out of your comfort zone, get lost in nature and find yourself!