Sculptures by the Sea

Every October, I vow I’ll make it to Sculptures by the Sea. And nearly every single year I never get there. It only runs for two weeks and it’s a good hours drive away,  so trying to fit it in at that busy time of the year can be hard. I can’t understand why events like this and things like the Vivid light festival and the Hyde Park noodle markets only run for two weeks in Sydney. They are getting so popular and attract thousands of visitors  that when you do visit it’s completely crowded.

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This year, we ventured out on an overcast Sunday to see the famous exhibition of sculptures. I knew parking would be hard so we opted to park down near Bronte beach and then walk towards Bondi. It was definitely a good walk, a 6 km round-trip!

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The Bondi sculptures were a mix of traditional style, humorous, abstract, eclectic and absurd. It really was a great day out, combining various works of art with the lovely coastline of the eastern suburbs.

I definitely like to go again,  maybe when it’s not so crowded? Ha ha!

They also hold this event in Cottesloe, WA in March. I bet that isn’t as crowded as Bondi!

 

 

Travel Essentials … Rain Poncho

Umbrellas are a real pain when you travel. You don’t have enough hands, especially if you’re trying to take photographs. They can blow inside out and get broken, rendering them useless. And unless you can get those tiny fold up ones, they take up space.

A waterproof parka will do the job, but these are not suitable for warm humid climates that get frequent tropical downpours, such as Borneo, Bali, Bangkok etc, and probably a whole lot of other B places!  Its way too hot to wear a parka especially in a downpour.

I like a lightweight waterproof poncho with sleeves, a hood and a zip or velcro. I had the best one ever that I bought for 4 pounds in Primark in London way back in 2007. It even had a bag you could stuff it into and clip the bag to your backpack or daypack.

Unfortunately I had that poncho stolen when my bag went missing in Bangkok airport. Sadly I haven’t been able to find one similar, well one that doesn’t cost a fortune. I was a bit spoilt finding one for only 4 pounds! Those plastic ones that they sell at theme parks and other tourists attractions are fine when you haven’t got anything else, but they tend to be a one use wonder.

Here are some styles I found that all look fairly lightweight. See details at polyvore.

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I finally found a zip up hoodie with sleeves at Crossroads for $20 on sale! It made its debut in Bali in July this year. It doesn’t have a bag but I feel I could fit it into a makeup pouch for travelling.

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The Bangkokians love a plastic poncho, bonus points if it covers your bike too!

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Me about to hike Mt Kinabalu in Sabah, Borneo in my trusty four pound poncho!

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On a recent trip to Hawaii I still didn’t have a good poncho so had to settle for this plastic one they sold at Volcano National Park.

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Looking very sexy in my poncho in Iceland. Boy do I miss that four pound poncho 🙁

Signs of the World – Elevator

One of my favourite things to photograph when travelling around the world is weird and wacky signs. Asia always has a smorgasbord of sign opportunities, especially when translating  signs into English for tourists.

On my first afternoon in Beijing, China, I noticed this very specific ‘Elevator Rules’ poster in my hotel. Of course we then took photos of us being silly and disobeying the rules, favourites included ‘no leaning’ and ‘press buttons lightly’!

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Croatia and Reckless Maggie

We had just arrived in Split, Croatia, 9pm. We were looking forward to spending the next 2 days sightseeing around the Diocletian’s Palace and taking frequent dips in the stunning blue Adriatic sea.

As soon as we arrived at the hostel we met our other roommates. Despite being 10pm we were enticed to head out on an adventure by a girl in our dorm who we called ‘Reckless Maggie’. It was one of those nights where a few quick drinks turned into a 2am Croatian style pub crawl, where we followed Maggie to a number of bars farther and farther away from town along the coast. Every time we would tell Maggie that this bar looks fine, let’s stop here, she would say ‘When travelling, they say when you think you have reached your destination, walk for another 5 minutes’. Good point, but she did this about 4 times!

Eventually we just refused to walk any farther so we settled in beachside for some drinks. The night wore on and our budget wore down. My friend and I were ready to head off, but not Maggie, who was talking to some cute Croatian boys.  Eventually we abandoned her as we had only flown in that evening and were pretty exhausted. The three of us (Myself and my travel buddy and a guy from our dorm called Michael who had a 5.30am bus the next day) left Maggie behind and headed home. She was determined to stay and chat to the 2 locals.

I felt a bit uneasy leaving her behind with some random Croatian strangers, all sorts of wild thoughts drifting through my head. I occasionally have the ability to get all dramatic, and wasted no time saying to the others ‘What if we are the last people to see her alive?’ To which Michael proclaimed, ‘She is a big girl and we’re not responsible for her’. True.

I had trouble drifting to sleep that night, due to the heat, the leaking air conditioner (which I was convinced was going to blow up, not being dramatic at all) and semi-waiting for Maggie to come home so I could sleep without worrying. So when Michael got up at 4.30am – I was still awake, motioning at Maggie’s empty bed and saying all motherly, ‘she’s still not home!’ To which he rolled his eyes.

Michael left, and I watched the clock tick to 5am, 6am, 7am … Still no Maggie.

My friend woke at this point (no point trying to sleep when its already 30 degrees at 7am). I was now pretty worried about this random girl who appeared so reckless, hence the nickname.

AT SEVEN THIRTY AM… Maggie came in, all abuzz from her night at some local rave party in the woods that was a blast! My raised, concerned eyebrows begged to differ. It would probably be a good time to mention that Maggie had a bus to catch about 10am anyway so she was looking at about 2 hours sleep.

We were up and outside the dorm on the balcony-come bathroom-come kitchen contemplating our day. Maggie then opened the door and told us to pipe down as she was trying to sleep! The. Nerve. I almost went off my head telling her that I had been worried sick about her all night.

She slept a while then frantically got up and threw all her stuff in a backpack and dashed off to catch her bus. She left behind her sleeping bag  and a bag of jewellery. We handed them over to the owners of the hostel in case she came back to claim her things.

We spent the rest of the day pondering what it would be like to travel without abandon like Maggie and how she would fare on her future (reckless) adventures.

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Walking around Split in the evening

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The boardwalk of Split, by day

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Exploring the sites of Split, like the Giant Statue

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Rub the toe of the giant for good luck


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The beginning of our first night in Split

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People swimming and playing Hacky Sack at 10pm

I must confess, these are not my photos. On the second night in Split, the night after the reckless Maggie adventure, I had my camera stolen. These shots are from my travel buddy. So who knows what gems I had captured from our first night in Split!

Sydney Eats – Indian at Harris Park

Harris Park in Sydney’s west, next to Parramatta has a lot of Indian Restaurants. A LOT. It has a very high Indian population and the streets around the railway station, especially Wigram St,  have so many restaurants as well as local grocers and Indian fusion restaurants, like Indian Chinese food.

You are so spoilt for choice. A friend and I visit regularly to whet our Indian food cravings. After testing out several places we now have our favourites, mainly those that serve Dosa and Thalis, the best curry tasting plates! Special mention to Not Just Curries and Billus.

 

Right near Billus I spotted these men playing backgammon.

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Wigram St outside Billus

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Mel and I love our Dosas!

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Sunset over Wigram st.

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Magnolia tree outside Billus

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Minnamurra Rainforest

Recently we visited Minamurra Rainforest in Jamberoo, South Coast NSW. As we are often driving down the coast to my parents house I keep scouting out different (free!) things to do on the way to break up the 3 hour or so drive.

Off the main highway about 15 minutes, Minamurra rainforest in Buderoo National Park offers a number of walks through lush rainforest that follows a creek up to a waterfall.

 We arrived quite late in the day and didn’t think we had time to fit in the 2 hour return walk to the waterfall. Which was a bit disappointing as I do love a good waterfall. But just walking up and back on the boardwalk  as part of the ‘Loop walk’ was pretty spectacular. There is much more to see and do in this National Park so I think we will just have to go back!

Getting There: About an hour and 40 minutes from Sydney, not far from Kiama

Look Out For: The rope bridge, swinging vines, picturesque country side on the drive through the valleys

Bucket List – Hawaii

The flights are booked! Less than 100 days to go. I am off to Hawaii in April. Hawaii has definitely been much more on my radar in the last three or so years as a ‘Bucket List’ destination. I’ve been lusting over people’s holiday posts for a while now and seeing too many Hawaiian themed pins on Pinterest.  I had a stopover at Honolulu back into 2013 and all I saw of Hawaii was a few beaches out the window as the plane landed,  as well as the inside of the airport.

I’ll only be going for nine days and we are still in the process of deciding which islands to go to… clearly we can’t go to all of them!  It just means I’ll have to go back for a second trip at some point 🙂  I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the volcano on Big Island,  some of the most amazing waterfalls and beaches in the world, as well as trying some Hawaiian treats like the pineapple whip.

And now the fun starts,  The Planning!  One of my favourite parts of organising holidays is researching, bookmarking and booking accommodation and activities and making lists of possible things to do – with pictures  and links.  I then send this to my significant other for review….  And await his approval ! So on that note,  I’m off to visit Pinterest again!

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We plan on hiring a car and road tripping to all the scenic sites.

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Have been reading about some great tours that take you to all the best lava spots.

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 Love the look of this lagoon in Ohahu… will need some relaxing time.

Any  comments or recommendations are welcome! Especially for Ohahu and the Big Island.

Travel Essentials… Hats

travel essentials - hats

 

I’ve never been a really big fan of hats. Well I love hats but I don’t actually think I look that good in them. I usually don’t pack them for holidays, truth be told. But then I end up buying them all over the place and carrying them on all my trips, so now I have a collection that is always growing.

Transporting hats is always the biggest issue. Most travel experts advise wearing them on your transiting days so you don’t squash them in your luggage. Easier said than done. Hats aren’t much fun on a long haul flight (well except for a beanie maybe) so where do you end up putting it on the plane? Anywhere is bound to get squashed I’ve found.

Some hats I’ve managed to keep in relatively good shape by packing it with things in and around it in my luggage, such as the cowboy hat bought in Mexico, see photo below. I also brought home a sombrero in the luggage – clearly fitting in 2 big hats is some sort of packing feat.

For summer holidays with sunbaking, hiking in hot weather and walking around in the sunshine all day a hat is a must. If you are worried about wrecking a hat buy something cheap (either at home or abroad) that you won’t mind losing or wrecking, the white fedora hat below was only $5.00.

Nine Things to Do In: Shanghai

1.  Eat awesome dumplings! I am not a huge dumpling fan, I find them a bit slimy in texture, but we had pan fried dumplings at Yang’s Dumplings, and they were awesome! Worth the wait and the queue.

2. Catch the Maglev, the magnetic levitating train from the airport to the city, which gets to speeds of over 400km an hour! We caught it from the city and back just for fun.

3. Take a night cruise on the Huangpu River to see the spectacular skylines all lit up. On one side is the modern Pudong district with its skyscrapers, the other is the bund with its colonial style buildings and hotels.

4. Go up the Jin Mao Tower. There are a few high rise viewing platforms to visit in Shanghai, but the views from the Jin Mao Tower are pretty cool on a clear day (pray for smog free – not for me unfortunately!)

5. Visit the Yu gardens, yes they are touristy but you can get some awesome souvenirs, eat more dumplings and other great food and have a traditional tea ceremony.

6. Walk The Bund, the waterfront boardwalk, offering awesome views day or night.

7. Go fancy in posh hotels, even if you can’t afford to stay the night, the lobbies, shops, toilets and cafes/bars of the ritzy hotels along The Bund are worth a visit. Bonus points if you swag your way onto a rooftop for views!

8. Visit the Shanghai Museum for free to see many amazing Chinese artefacts, artworks and furniture as well as admire the cool shape of the building

9. Shop, shop shop! Whether its for clothing, souvenirs, food or panda shaped bread rolls, you’ll find it in Shanghai!

 

San Clementes, California

The artist and I spent a gorgeous two nights staying in a little motel in San Clemente, Orange County, California. We lazed by the beach, slept in and ate bread (due to both of us suffering from a bad stomach bug – so romantic).

When we felt a little better we walked along the pier and even swam in the ocean. I was fascinated by the train that goes past, right on the sand. Oh and sunsets. You know how I like my sunsets.

 

Photography Souvenirs

I just love that redbubble have branched out from print products (cards, wall art, calendars) to make iphone cases, throw pillows and tote bags. What a great souvenir of your travels! Instead of putting photos in an album you can upload them to a redbubble profile and make a product that you can use every day. You could give your photos to others as gifts!

Here are some of my recent favourite travel photographs as fancy art products.

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totebag        tb,1200x1200,small.2

 

 

 

Nine Things To Do In: San Francisco

1. Alcatraz! ‘The rock’ is a great day trip, the audio tour head set thingy is very interesting. Plus the ferry ride is great!

2. Segway tours… 3 hours of cruising fun, we booked with city segway tours.

3. Eat seafood chowder and shrimp down at the Wharf.  Anywhere at Fisherman’s Wharf will be yummy.

4. Watch the seals relaxing and playing at Fisherman’s Wharf.

5. Ride the cable cars, worth the queue for people like me who live in non cable car cities and it’s still a novelty!

6. Hang out in Union Square, shopping, people watching, flower buying…

7. Walk the steep streets, go down them on a segway if you dare!

8. Wander the grounds of the Palace of the Fine Arts, pretending your in Europe

9. See the fog roll in across the bay… especially around the Golden Gate Bridge!

 

New Year’s Celebrations

 

I have celebrated New Year’s Eve in different places around the globe, here are a few of the memorable ones.

Tarthra, South Coast NSW, Australia.  A beachside house with friends, a trip to the local pub.

 

Homestay, Sabah, Borneo. Local dancing show and dinner, then bed by 10pm – Alcohol free!

 

Sydney Harbour, Australia. You need to do this at least once and have an awesome view of the fireworks.

 

Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. In a apartment with a swim up bar. Perfect.

 

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Downpours, Lady Boy Shows, Cambodian Fish Curry. Bliss!