Bali Break

Perhaps we got twitchy fingers, or legs, in that we wanted to explore a little more than Brisbane and it’s surrounding area’s. So recently, we booked up a weeks ‘retreat’ to Bali, and we did not regret it one bit. Slightly hesitant given some of the press it get’s due to it’s ‘party’ name it has accrued, but it’s easy enough to steer clear of this if it is not what you are interested in – and that we did; our rewards were some stunning sights and a real culture insight into their way of life.

We flew from Brisbane in the early hours of Friday 2nd June. Upon arrival and successful check-in and security checks, we grabbed the standard overpriced airport breakfast and proceeded to board. The flight was six and a half hours. It was a very strange feeling to be going abroad to one of the closest sizeable countries (Indonesia) to you, but spending such a long amount of time getting there. From London you can fly to New York in the same amount of time!

Arriving at Ngurah Rai, more commonly known as Denpasar airport – despite being 13km South of the city of Denpasar, we were stunned at the size of the airport. The tourism industry must have funded such a building as it was quite a new one, and very nice one at that. We met with our transfer to our hotel, of whom was a very amicable guy, as was his driver. On the way to our hotel he told us plenty we didn’t know and asked us plenty about what we did know, all during the time we were spent gazing out the window at the thousands of moped’s swerving in and out of moving vehicles, with our ears perked from the constant bibbing and tooting they are so accustomed to.

Our hotel, Maison at C Seminyak: Boutique Hotel, was a lovely little unique and warming hotel just a 5-10 min walk from the beach (of which we didn’t find out until our second to last day, we walked the long way around for the best part of 30mins). The staff were lovely and the hotel was far from oversized, so it didn’t take long to feel at home there.

Now, onto the fun stuff, namely, the weather, the pricing and the sightseeing! Weather wise – you only really get 2 seasons in the majority of Indonesia, but definitely in Bali. Their names? Dry season and wet season. Luckily for us we visited in dry season, and with a taste of a mornings downpour on our last day – we were very grateful we had 6 days of sun and relief from the sun via the clouding. When it rains, it pours; as they say. Price wise Bali is CHEAP. But a few top tips, bring your own alcohol from duty free! Alcohol is taxed at 400% and unless you are purchasing local produce such as Bintang beer, you are looking at over $12 for a glass of wine, the same for a cocktail and near-on $10 for some spirits. Bintang was just $2-$3 a bottle. Now FOOD, some of the food we had was some of the best we have had, and some of it was without a doubt the cheapest we have had. A standard meal was probably no more than $6, some even cheaper – but of course if you stretch to the most popular and ‘nicest’ places, you’ll be pushing the amount vertically a fair shade. La Lucciola, Seminyak, was the nicest Italian we have ever had, which took us both by surprise, given we have both visited Italy (and I have Italian in-laws, sorry guys!) The Tiramisu there was to die for, we had to both bite our tongues not to re-order a second dessert each!

Now onto the sight seeing.
Day 1 & 2) The former, we drafted in as a relax day after the long flight, so after checking in we explored very locally and got ourselves settled in. The latter, day two, we ventured out a little further into Seminyak, and spent some time sunbathing and reading by the pool (the hard life, hey!)

Day 3) Our first tour, with Buffalo Tours, we met up at 8am with our tour guide and driver, of whom were the same guys who picked us up from the airport! We experienced Balinese dancing (a 45 min show) in the morning, fabric and jewellery making, coffee & tea tastings at the plantation and a temple visit in Ubud. On the way back stopping for a spot of lunch with a beautiful view of the forest. The tour was very well executed, no one portion of driving was too long and you can chat along the way (Wi-Fi if you fancy it). Every 20/30mins or so you were popping out of the car to check out a market, see some craft making or for coffee tasting etc.

Day 4 & 5) Day four, again, was planned to be a relaxing one, a lovely meal out, market shopping, sun etc. Day five was our second day tour, this time with a different company (Made Dodi) but it was just as amazing. Again leaving early in the morning we proceeded on our tour, skipping the first activity of which was the local dance, we went straight onto the Taman Ayun Royal Temple. A beautifully clean and very tranquil temple, having skipped the dance we were ahead of the ‘crowd’ of whom may be taking the same tour/route as us, we were one of the only people visiting it, which is always pleasant!

Our next stops after the first temple;

Baturiti : Strawberry Hills
Bedugul : Lake Bratan Temple
Jatiluwih : The Biggest rice field in Bali
Wanasari : Bali Butterfly Park
Tanah Lot :  Tanah Lot Temple
This was going to be Seafood Dinner at Tanah Lot. But we decided to beat the crowd back as it got VERY busy at sunset time.

The total cost for this trip was 700k, no not dollars, just 70 of those! Yes $70 total for the entire day – add our entrance fees and spending money.

Day 6) Our last, sob sob, we were awoken to a downpour of rain, so our plans of sunbathing our last day away were scuppered – so we went for a massage, 2hr each in total at the grand cost of $20 each. For you English people, that’s about £12-13 for 2 hours of treatment. Felt like daylight robbery in comparison to the price we are used to!

All in all, Bali is well worth a trip – avoid Kuta if you want to avoid the party central with a lot more traffic and full on antics, fill your days with relaxing circulating with day tours and you will not be disappointed, the value for money is immense if you keep your wits about you. Asking regular visitors to Bali and reading reviews online will help you keep your intended trip cheaper and safer.

Thank you as ever for reading, and the blog will be a hell of a lot more active in a month or two, once we jump in Mimi, our trusty camper, and hit the road North – we will have plenty of pictures, info and stories to tell you all! But for now, please enjoy our pictures of beautiful Bali!

 

 

 

Day 97..

.. Yes, we’re still alive! Our sincerest apologies for our absence from the blog scene, a concoction of laziness, lack of real distance travelling to have the urge to boast about, and a sprinkling of other factors.

We are both very well, if not slightly cold now Spring is here, but still having as much fun as since our last blog post (felt like last year, right?). We are currently situated in the warm little suburb named Paddington, and we LOVE it here. The place is charming, we wish we could take it back home with us, if you visit Brisbane and need somewhere to stay – choose Paddington (should get paid for this shameless plugging..)

As far as the past goes, in terms of what we have done – Katie got a job, quit a job, got a better job… Landing a ‘Dream’ gig at ‘DreamWorld’, it not quite being what they had sold it to be, she swiftly left, moving onto a job within property, a very cool job with the chance to meet and talk to a whole variety of people from different backgrounds and ethnicities.

We have visited the Gold Coast, SeaWorld, Wet’N’Wild, an Easter break at the Coast – plenty more but my memory defeats me.

We have been to 3 Brisbane Roar (Football. Real English football – not Australia football aka Rugby, Australian Rules, and everything that they seemingly call football yet it not being so..) matches! Katie is now a fully pledged Brisbane Roar fan, who can seemingly predict their results, and she wants a Roar shirt.. Maybe for her next Birthday!

What does the future hold? In as far as this trip, we have nailed some dates down – including our trip home (sob sob), but we are so excited to get going. Let me walk you through it.

At the start of June, we head over to Bali (we felt the need for a holiday within a holiday – it’s a tough life) for 5 days, all booked up and we can’t wait, a day trip to a monkey sanctuary, a trip to one of Bali’s famous temples et much much more.

Post Bali, we hit the road! In our best friend Mimi (our beloved camper) we plan to head North, up to Cairns – for the great barrier reef. Spend some days there before heading back down towards Brisbane, visiting plenty of unique places on the way; of course. From Brisbane we carry on South, to Sydney.. Further South to Canberra and finally Melbourne.

After this, we recharge our batteries and head back up to Brisbane – of course a different route and taking in lots of places and views on the way! When we finally dock back in Brisbane, we’re not quite done. We have a date set to fly to Perth (over on the West Coast – we are currently ‘doing’ the East Coast). We plan to spend 4 days or so here, including a visit to Rottnest Island – the home of the Quokkas, a Marsupial in the Macropod family (aka Kangaroo and Wallaby families).

After Perth begins our trip home, but not without one more stop.. SINGAPORE! Spending 4 days here to break up our trip back, and to get ready to prepare ourselves for home; we’re excited for this. Neither of us have been to Singapore and it looks stunning, so why not!?

Ooh, almost forgot, we’ve yet to fit Uluru in here somewhere – we will do a return trip to Uluru (Ayers Rock) probably when we are in Sydney. Something we don’t think we can return home without doing.

Speak soon familia y amigos. Much love!

Brissie

Good evening from Brisbane! 
We have been off the radar a bit to give ourselves some time to settle in and chill out a bit. We are all safe & well if you have been worrying (I’m sure you haven’t!) 

Over the past week, in short, we have done a lot of job hunting, flat hunting, general exploring and, of course, chilling out. 

We visited the local Lone Pine Sanctuary of which has a lot of koalas, we absolutely loved it! There’s nothing that screams Australia as much as this place! We go to hand feed and pet the kangaroos and wallabies, and adore and learn about the koalas.

City beach on the Southbank of Brisbane was pleasant on Saturday, as well as a spot of shopping.

Yesterday we purchased a camper! Mimi the Mitsubishi, an old yet (hopefully – touch wood) reliable camper, all ready for the job at hand. As old as the pair of us, but in better condition than us. Upon receipt of insurance, hopefully tomorrow, we will take her on her first drive with us down to the Gold Coast – to go to an adventure park! Technically, our first home.. we own it and it has a bed.. just a bit more affordable than a ‘real’ home! 

Not quite as exciting a few days as our adventure in New Zealand, I know – but given the time we have here we are spreading out our trips and touristic fun.

For now! S&K.


Last few days.. (of NZ)

Yesterday, Saturday, was a day revolving around travel to get ourselves ready for handing the camper back (sniff sniff). We hand the camper back on Monday afternoon, so we began by heading to our drop off location, Christchurch. Around a 3 hour drive minus the stops, but there were plenty of gorgeous places to stop on the way – so we made a day of it, essentially. Passing through Arthur’s Pass first off, a gorgeous drive between the mountains, the Southern Alps. Our first stop was a look out of which 4 rare Kea birds joined us. Kea’s are a rare endangered mountain parrot, of which there are only 500 left in the world. They all reside in the Southern part of NZ.

Next major stop bar a few ‘view’ stops, was an unexpected one for us, it looked popular so we pulled in. A quick scout showed us there were caves just a 10 minute downhill walk away, we ventured down but didn’t attempt the caving – as we lacked the head torches of which we’re definitely required. 

Finally we arrived at Christchurch, checking in to our campsite for our penultimate night in NZ.

Christchurch seems rather nice from our brief glimpse, but we will see more tomorrow, it seems very ‘English’ which is pleasant but also somewhat not, as it’s what we’ve tried to escape for a period of our life! 

Today, Sunday, we drove down to Aokora which is South of Christchurch, planning to dolphin, seal & penguin watch. Unfortunately the poor weather in the morning caused a lack of bookings to get the boat out, so we were left just checking out Aokora, then heading back 1h30 North to Christchurch for our last evening in the camper (sob sob..) 
We must sleep, early start as ever tomorrow. 

S&K. 

Mountaineers

It’s been an amazing day! 

We began by grabbing a coffee and heading to the towards the Franz Josef glacier hiking track. The walk was a 2 hour round trip soaking in views ranging from the rainforest to the everchanging streams and rivers flowing from the tops of the mountains out to the sea. We could get as close as 2km to the glacier, as any closer would have been too dangerous. We got some amazing photos and the view was stunning throughout the walk. 

Next we shot off to the mirror lake which we have heard so much about. It was about a 40 minute hike to the lake and what an anticlimax it was! Unfortunately the clouds were not in our favour and the tops of the mountains were not visible so we didn’t get a chance to get a great photo. 

Lastly we headed to the Fox glacier which was a shorter hike but up the biggest hill we have ever hiked, Sam nearly collapsing at the top (we had walked 11+ miles by this point also)! We were 450 metres from the Fox glacier, which itself wasn’t as picturesque at the Franz glacier; it was covered in a lot of rock fall and dust. Despite this fact, we still got some great photos. 

We have stopped for the night in a lovely campsite nestled in the mountains. From here you can see millions of stars above, it’s absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately stars don’t photograph well so we can’t share them with you ☹️. 

West Coast 

Morning/ evening everyone! 

Yesterday was a bit of a long one for us, we drove the long route to Greymouth from Blenheim, stopping at a few places on the way to see some amazing views. 

Today has been a bit more fun, we got up early this morning to go to a few places en route to the Frank Josef glacier. First stop was a small family run Jade carving shop, here we had a lovely chat with the owners who showed us how they carve the Jade and explained about Mauri traditions. The man on the machine, Garth, had some very expensive and fine machinery. The only machine he would use to cut his Jade was a diamond ended one. Fun fact: the Mauri own all of the Jade on the land bar which washes up on the beach, it is a crime to take Jade from the land if you are not a Mauri. The man that owns the shop is part of a Mauri tribe with his great great grandfather being a Mauri chief. They only take the Jade from the land which has been ‘gifted’ to them, meaning that they don’t cut rock from a mountain, they will wait until it falls off naturally to collect it. They also only take enough to sustain their business. 

Next, we arrived in Hokitika which had a gold shop that we briefly looked around, we got to hold a huge nugget of gold which was pretty damn heavy! We grabbed a couple of sandwiches and headed to the gorge nearby which we heard has amazing views. That it did!

The gorge was spectacular, you have to cross a rope bridge to get over to the shore line, where you can put your feet in the water if you dare to do so. The water is beautiful but freezing, it’s a combination of rock dust, river water and water that has melted from the nearby glaciers. Sam dared to have a very brief swim and it literally took his breath away!  On the way back we saw a few people jumping in from the rope bridge… crazy!  

We stopped in the mining village of Ross where we decided to go panning for gold, literally panning for real gold in a real river with real gold in it… not like the ones you do with your parents when you’re younger. You could see flakes of gold in the river but not enough to really collect… they must have taken all the gold nuggets in the 1800’s.

Ross itself is a really charming village with a lot of history, it still has a working gold mine today. 

We finally arrived at the Franz Josef glacier town where we decided to treat ourselves to the local hot pools which were a treat to end a long, but lovely, day. We’re planning on exploring the glaciers tomorrow and maybe moving further south to see more. 

Pictures to come later. 



For now

S&K x

South Island

A nice early rise for us this morning, to make the commute to the ferry harbour. Our 9AM departure got us into Picton on the South Island at around 1PM or so. The views for the ferry ride were absolutely gorgeous throughout, at times breathtaking. Beautifully calm waters and we saw a group of dolphins gracefully passing our ferry, a sight to behold.

First stop in the South Island had to be, and was, Marlborough – for some wine testing and to buy a bottle (well, two.. don’t judge us – it’s about half the price of the same in the UK). We got Katie’s favourite wine – Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. 

We had a lovely light lunch at Cloudy Bay vinyard and then ventured to our campsite for the night. We walked into town in the blazing sun (at last! Please stay, we enjoy your presence!), and now we are resting up ready for a big few days in the South.

Enjoy some of our pictures from today, we will have more to upload separately when we have a stronger internet connection – including the pictures we got of the dolphins. 

Thank you for reading, as ever. S&K. ✌🏻💗