Bucket list overflow!

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All I can think about right now is Europe.

Italy, Spain, Turkey, Croatia and Greece to be exact.

I just want to be travelling the stunning coast line, sipping exquisite cocktails and musing over what a wonderful colour blue that water is. Instagram envy much? My social media feed is absolutely swamped with people I don’t even know, jumping off yachts into the Mediterranean, sporting their golden tans and claiming to be ‘Living my best life!”. UGH. Give me pasta and cheeses, olives and Italian herbs, wine, wine and more wine! I’m done with winter, done with socks and scarves, and DONE with travel envy. The time is now! I’m getting a whiteboard and making a plan, and one way or another I will make this happen #justwatchme

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European Summer here I come 🙂

The never ending gift of travel

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As I sit here day dreaming about the next destination on my bucket list (Thailand), I can’t help but think back to the places I’ve been so far, and how they keep making me smile. Travel (in the broad sense) is such a fountain of never ending joy – from the moment you even think about going somewhere, through all the excitement of planning, to the actual adventure itself. What you rarely hear about though is the post-travel smiles, as we are inclined to focus more on the reality of back-to-work blues. Just recently I’ve discovered a whole bag of beautiful hand made items I bought in my travels to South Africa about 11 years ago, still in perfect condition. Putting them out on display in my room has been a lovely walk down memory lane, not to mention a colourful addition to my collection.

Something I tend to do after I’ve been somewhere of significance (for example the Bali Bombings memorial in Kuta), is go and read everything I can about it afterwards. You’d think that would be the smart thing to do before visiting a destination, but for me the real significance of a place doesn’t hit me until I’m living in the moment, staring it in the face. The complete sensory overload you feel when visiting somewhere iconic (whether that be a place of beauty or sadness), can leave you either awe-struck or overwhelmed. Whatever the case may be, I think it’s incredibly important to see as many places of significance in the world as humanly possible. Viewing life through the screen of a TV or mobile isn’t living, it’s simply cutting yourself short from engaging with other cultures, people and experiences that will make your own life richer.

I’ve been pretty fortunate to visit some incredible places so far, from China, Singapore and Hawaii through to Indonesia, California and Vegas. Some of my standout memories and items to put on your own bucket lists would include:

  • The Great Wall of China
  • Kruger National Park in South Africa
  • The Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa
  • Ubud, Bali (Indonesia)
  • San Francisco, Santa Barbara and San Diego (California)
  • Pearl Harbour, Hawaii
  • The Road to Hana (Maui, Hawaiian Islands)

So here’s to turning day dreams into reality, working hard so you can play hard, and not letting life pass you by from the comfort of your couch. Catch me in the Emerald Cave in Thailand!

Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not things to show.

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West Coast Wonders ~ My trip to the other side of the country

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If you haven’t made it to the West Coast of Australia yet where the Indian Ocean meets a stunning coast line, the sand is as white and soft as a dream and the sunsets are to die for, I highly recommend you book yourself a ticket ASAP. Having just returned from a lovely 5 day trip with my boyfriend over to Perth and the Margaret River, I’m left with great memories and a full belly. Having treated ourselves to a variety of wines and gourmet cuisines over the last few days, our waistlines are a little tighter than usual, but our smiles are also a little wider.

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We sampled everything from pork belly, whiting and cod, to beef cheeks and venison cooked five ways, complimented with beautiful fresh breads with olive oil, dukkah and balsamic. Just writing this is making my mouth water! Seriously, Western Australia is a foodie heaven. With open plan breweries in the port area of Freemantle, numerous cafes and restaurants throughout the city and dotting the shoreline, Perth and the Margaret River region are my top picks for a taste overload.

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While you’re over there a must-see are the wineries approximately 3 hours south of Perth, and with around 200 to choose from you’re bound to find a bottle that speaks to your soul. As a reluctant red drinker, I was surprised to find quite a few that I actually really liked, and can’t wait to further explore the red wine market. To name just a few, we went to Arimia Winery for lunch (incredible food), but be warned – you can actually see the little piggies that they use on their menu! I’m all for the whole farm to table trend, but I still feel a little uneasy seeing what I’m about to order alive out in the paddock! Call it blissful ignorance, but that’s just me. We also checked out Aravina Estate, an incredible winery with a beautiful selection of vintage cars and surfboards on display. To be honest there is something special and unique about each winery in the region, with lakes, bridges, fireplaces, boats and floral displays providing a visual feast for the eyes.

Already looking forward to my next trip to this beautiful (although slightly isolated) part of the world 🙂

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G’day mate… What’s not to love about Australia?

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This month I’m lucky enough to be doing quite a lot of travel – from the small mining town of Moranbah in Regional Queensland, across to the Margaret River wine region in Western Australia, to the picturesque Whitsundays for my 28th birthday. To be honest I’ve been living out of a bag all year, dividing my time between Nana’s, Mum’s and the boyfriends house, so spending the next few weeks living out of a suitcase is going to be pretty normal. What am I most looking forward to? Seeing what this beautiful country has to offer and discovering local secrets. You can’t just sit in your lounge room watching life go past on a TV screen, you’ve got to get out and enjoy it… and that’s exactly what I plan on doing.

So here I am 4 days into my ‘rural’ experience in Moranbah, about 2 hours drive inland from Mackay. A town that was built to accommodate families working in the coal mining industry, full of reliable locals and tradies in high visability work wear. There’s a certain peace to the town, an orderly silence and comfortable pace. People keep saying to me I’ll get sick of it, and maybe I would. But since I’m only here for a week I plan on making the most of it, exploring the outskirts and getting a glimpse of this multi-billion dollar industry: coal mining. To say you live in a regional area fuelled by the mining industry is one thing, but to see it in action is another. My boyfriend took me for a drive into the centre of his mine site, a trip which took nearly half an hour alone and that’s only covering half of it. To see an operation of such epic proportions is pretty eye-opening. This gigantic earth moving equipment is like something out of a Star Wars movie, and while I don’t feel that comfortable actually seeing the ground ripped up and displaced, it’s something I appreciate being shown.

Next on my tour will be a 6 hour flight over to Perth, Western Australia for my third visit. I honestly cannot get enough of this stunning place, from the gorgeous coastline to the funky suburban cafes, to the bushland wineries and gourmet cuisine, Perth has something for everyone. I’ll be catching up with one of my oldest friends over there, someone who has had my back since about Grade 5. We’ve gone through big life changes together and sometimes fall out of touch, but every time we get together it’s as if nothing has changed. We’ve booked a dinner and drinks cruise along the Swan River, and a half day wine tour (with cheese and chocolate stops along the way!). If you haven’t ever thought about including Perth on your bucket list, I strongly recommend you do. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Lastly I’ll be wrapping up the year by celebrating my birthday with 2 nights in Airlie Beach, a quaint coastal community known as the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. My plans include cocktails on the water, and not a whole lot more. This time last year I was in a really bad place, so I’m incredibly grateful to be feeling this optimistic and excited about things. There’s nothing quite like the support of family, friends and your partner to lift you up, but ultimately the fighting spirit must come from within – the most challenging and important lesson I’ve learnt from this year. Thank you to everyone who has made my year 100 times better than the last, and looking forward to more wonderful times ahead 🙂

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After wanderlust, comes a yearning for home.

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I’m sitting here rugged up in bed, having just returned home from a trip to Indonesia. It’s been 6 days since I landed back in Australia and I’m still completely exhausted… in fact I could quite easily sleep all day. I can honestly say though that I had the most amazing time in Bali and can’t wait to go back, one day. But for now – the comfort, routine and normality of being home is all I’m craving. Does anyone else feel the same? Yes, travel is awesome. Seeing new things, tasting exotic foods and pushing your boundaries is wonderful for self-growth and certainly broadens your mind, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of touching back down in your home country.

I realise I might sound like a boring old sod writing this, and maybe I do have some more boundary pushing to do in life. I’ve never been one of those people excited by the thought of back-packing or travelling for months on end, living on the road and not knowing where their next cup of tea is coming from. Call me narrow-minded or whatever you like, but some of us just like the simple things in life – a hot shower, clean underwear and comfortable bed. I tried the hostel thing last year in San Francisco and absolutely hated it. Sharing a bunk bed with complete strangers, everyone bothering the others with their noises and travel schedules, having to constantly lock your items up… not my idea of a good time. So many of my friends though have absolutely loved their hostel experiences, and I suppose I would have enjoyed it more had I not been travelling on my own. Sharing moments and adventures with friends is considerably more enjoyable than having to ask strangers to take your picture, but I did make the most of it.

As I sit here looking back at all my great pictures from Bali, I can’t help but smile. I’m proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things – snorkelling in the open ocean, getting on a scooter (probably just stupid, but none the less fun), getting my feet sucked by tiny little fish… these are the memories that will stick with me for a lifetime. Yes, my body now feels like it’s been hit by a train. Bali Belly, the flu and jet lag have all hit me in the past fortnight and I’m looking forward to the day I bounce out of bed with energy. For now though, I’ll light a candle, boil the kettle and rest my weary head. Until next time, wanderlust.

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Photo credits – pr0ject_uno & bohodestiny

Coping with anxiety on holidays… 

As some of you may know I’m currently holidaying in beautiful Indonesia, exploring Bali and making ticks on my bucket list. And as some of you may also know, I’ve written about my battles with anxiety over the past year or so with raw honesty. So because I’m spending my afternoons sipping cocktails and watching incredible sunsets, then surely I’m not feeling anxious at all, right? Wrong. As anyone who has travelled to a developing country would know, the sudden change in lifestyle habits (exotic cuisines, increased alcohol intake, hygiene concerns etc etc), is enough to make even a normal person feel slightly uncomfortable. So how do you think I’m feeling, as someone who has worked extremely hard to overcome anxiety issues in the past year? More than a little uncomfortable at times is the answer, but I’m not going to let it ruin my holiday that’s for sure! 

I think the key lies in knowing when you absolutely need your down time, but also knowing when you might just need a little push from your friends and out of your comfort zone. I’m so happy to say I tried snorkelling in the open ocean yesterday, something I’ve always wanted to do. Yes, I was scared. As someone who practices regular meditation, not being able to breathe through my nose due to the snorkelling mask was really uncomfortable. But I did it! I jumped in that water despite convincing myself that sharks and other terrifying ocean creatures were lurking close by, and I’m so proud of myself. I’ve also taken a ride on a scooter through the hectic and bustling traffic, and had my feet sucked by tiny little fish – a very weird feeling I must say. These are things I was absolutely hesitant about at first, but a little encouragement from my friends was all I needed to find my inner courage. 

Then there are days like today, when Bali Belly has set in with full force (I’ll spare you the details). I didn’t want to get out of bed or face the day. I just felt like hiding, crying and somehow clicking my fingers and waking up to find myself back home in the comforts of my regular surroundings. But that’s not living is it! Things happen when you travel and it’s all part of the experience. Fingers crossed I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling fresh as a daisy, and ready to keep exploring this wonderful country 😊

And now I know why people keep coming back to Bali… 

I’m currently in the luscious, charming village area of Ubud, Indonesia on my first Balinese experience – and can say without a doubt that I’ll be back, at least twice more. Countless people told me before I flew over that I’d love it, and they weren’t wrong. Who couldn’t love the chaos of scooters crisscrossing through every alleyway, monkeys casually strolling around completely integrated in the local life, and the pitter patter of rain softly sweeping through the canopy of trees? And that’s just the start of it. 

As I lay here nestled in a king size bed under a softly billowing mosquito net, listening to the fish pond gently humming outside, I can’t help but feel content. Although I might have the rumble of something kindly referred to as ‘Bali Belly’, I’m still excited to keep tasting the authentic (and cheap!) cuisines. Poached prawn and papaya salad, crispy skin chicken with lemongrass and chilli, and sticky black rice pudding are just some of the delicious items I have tried so far. Entree, main and dessert last night cost me approximately 20 Australian dollars, which is at least half of what I’d pay back home. This is the real deal though so I’m more than happy to tip generously and support the welcoming and gracious locals in any way I can. After all, we’re on their turf now and respect can go a long way. 

Outside of every shop front and dwelling are beautiful offerings of flowers and incense, which tourists avoid trampling on at all costs. These gorgeous baskets of petals are an absolute feast for the eyes, though I’m sure their meaning goes a little further than decorative value. Drifting off now for a little afternoon nap, with nothing else planned for the day except a dip in the pool and perhaps a massage. Ahhh, life isn’t so bad 🙂