When people visit Australia, the areas that tend to be most popular are Sydney and Melbourne, the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland coastline, Uluru and the dry red centre, and even the wine regions near both Perth and Adelaide. One of the regions that tends to be overlooked quite often is what Aussies know as the Top End. The Top End is the tropical part of Australia in the far north of the Northern Territory extending to Katherine. What I find cool about the Top End and NT in general, is how wild and untamed it feels compared to the rest of Australia. The cities are small and far between, the roads are long with no speed limits, and the nature is unbelievable.
Back in November, my boyfriend and I visited Bali and then flew into Darwin, capital of the NT and the hub of the Top End. In Darwin, we bought a car and began our epic road trip all over Australia! We spent the first part of our adventure exploring the Top End and discovered some pretty amazing spots.
Bali is one of those amazing places that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. It’s full of beautiful beaches, amazing food, and lovely people. A true paradise! But of course like anywhere you travel to, there are some things to be aware of that you should or shouldn’t do while you’re there. That especially goes for places like Bali where the culture may be a lot different than you’re used to at home. If you are planning a visit to Bali, here are some dos and don’ts to help you have the best time possible while also respecting the culture and staying safe!
Do eat the local food. This is obviously so you can experience the local culture, but it’s also because Indonesian food is what Balinese people specialise in. You could easily find pizza or Mexican food if you really wanted to, but it will probably just be average at best. So skip the western food in favour of some nasi goreng, mie goreng, chicken satay, babi guling, and nasi campur! And of course wash it down with a Bintang beer!
Don’t be afraid to haggle prices. Vendors will usually start at a price that is reasonable by western standards, but far too expensive for Southeast Asia. For example, they may ask $20 for a sarong or t-shirt, but if you’re persistent you can usually get the price closer to about $5. At the same time, don’t get too extreme with your haggling. If it gets to the point of arguing over 10,000 IDR for example ($1), keep in mind that the money won’t make much of a difference to you, but could make a huge difference to the seller.
Back in November, my boyfriend Will and I set out on the adventure of a lifetime! First stop on our agenda was Bali. I’ve been wanting to visit Bali for as long as I can remember after seeing photos that really make it look like paradise. And one of the amazing things about living in Australia is how cheap and easy it is to get to Bali. You can fly there for less money than you would spend flying to New Zealand. And depending on what city you’re flying from, you might be able to fly to Bali for less money than a nice dinner out! Our flight from Melbourne was around $300, but flying back into Australia, we got flights to Darwin for a ridiculous $58 each!
We spent ten days in Bali, which I think was perfect for a first visit to the island. It gave us plenty of time to experience the culture of the island and visit lots of areas as well. Different parts of Bali are good for different things, and we really got to experience a bit of each in the three places we stayed: Seminyak, the Gili Islands, and Ubud.
Wow it’s been ages since I’ve posted on here! The last few months have been a whirlwind with so much happening and a lot of change. As I posted back in November, my boyfriend Will and I had heaps of adventure packed into a couple months. We went to Bali, bought a car and road tripped through the Australian Outback, went up to the Gold Coast for Christmas and New Year, and spent some time exploring the Queensland and New South Wales coasts before heading back home to Melbourne. Since my Australian working holiday visa ended back in November, I was on a tourist visa when we came back into the country after Bali. And since tourist visas in Australia only last three months, in mid-February it was time for me to pack my bags again and head to a different country.
It’s been a while since my last post, and I have so many cool places to write about! Since my last blog I took a trip to Bali and then did an epic Australian road trip from Darwin down to Adelaide, back to Melbourne and then up to the Gold Coast.
But before I get into all those posts, I wanted to stick with my end-of-the-year tradition of recapping some of the best places I visited over the course of this past year! There were a couple that I revisited from last year, but most of them were completely new adventures for me in 2016.
One of the great things about living in Melbourne is how much there is to do outside city limits. For anyone who likes nature and adventure, one place they’ve probably been to is the 1000 Steps. The Steps are in the Dandenong Mountain range to the east of Melbourne. Like the name suggests, the 1000 Steps is literally 1000 steps! They’re in the middle of nature and it feels as if you’re walking through a rainforest as you make the trek up. The walk is beautiful and there’s nothing like that feeling of accomplishment when you reach the top! It is pretty exhausting, but after doing it twice, I can confirm that you do feel really good afterwards. Along with the steps themselves, there are a bunch of different hiking trails you can do. There are some lookout points and cool monuments along the way as well.
It’s hard to sell the Steps with words alone, so check out these pictures to see how amazing it is.
About a year ago exactly, I packed up my things and boarded a one-way flight from Boston to Australia. I had the best year of my life living and working here, making amazing friends, and having lots of adventures. I wish I could stay longer, but unfortunately my working holiday visa only lasts for a year. So it’s time for me to say goodbye to Melbourne and head off on my next adventure.
And before you ask, even though I’m leaving Melbourne, no I am not going back to the USA! I won’t be returning to the USA for quite a while actually. I am having too much fun living abroad and travelling to stop anytime soon.
Sydney is full of beautiful beaches, a good food scene, and endless things to do. But one of the best things you can do on a visit to Sydney is get out of the city and see more of country New South Wales. Probably the most popular day trip out of Sydney is to the Blue Mountains that are about 100km west of the city. Hop on the train to Katoomba out of Central Station and in two hours, you will be in the heart of the Blue Mountains!
If you don’t live in Australia, you may not know much about the Blue Mountains. Hard to see why they aren’t more world famous as it’s the second biggest canyon in the world! While it isn’t quite as deep as the Grand Canyon, it’s both wider and longer. And if you’re wondering about the name, yes the mountains do look blue from a distance. It has something to do with oil from eucalyptus trees in the national park that give the mountains their colour. And if you didn’t think the Sydney area got snow, you obviously haven’t been to the Blue Mountains in winter! They get a few snowfalls a year in many parts of the national park.
Footscray is one of those Melbourne neighbourhoods I’ve heard a lot about but never visited until recently. Even though it’s a popular area, I guess it never seemed as if there was as much to do there in comparison to areas like Fitzroy, St Kilda, South Yarra, etc. Once I visited though, I realised it has a completely different vibe to the other areas of the city I’ve been in. The first thing you notice when you get off the train there is the huge Vietnamese influence throughout the neighbourhood. It has a totally different feel to Chinatown in the city. Other than the obvious fact that it’s Vietnamese rather than Chinese, it has a really authentic feel to it, as if you are actually walking through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. There are also some cool things to do, and it’s a great place to visit for a day out of the city centre.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the escape room trend that’s been taking the world by storm for the past year. Basically, you and some friends get locked in a room and have to solve a series of clues and puzzles in order to get out in a set amount of time. Sounds scary to some people, but if you love puzzles and adventure like me, it’s one of the best experiences you can have!
I did my first escape room in Boston about a year and a half ago. And ever since arriving in Melbourne, I’ve been dying to try some of the escape rooms here as well! There are too many escape rooms to count around the city, but the most well-known is definitely Trapt. What makes Trapt different from most escape rooms is that it also doubles as a cool cocktail bar! They even have themed cocktails for the different escape rooms: Biohazard, Prisonbreak, Espionage, and the one my group did, Wonderland.