Leprechauns and kilts – COME AT ME!

Only 18 days until I’ll be in Edinburgh! I absolutely cannot wait. My sister and I will be renting a car and traveling around Scotland, then spending a few days in the Belfast, Northern Ireland area, before moving down into Ireland and exploring as much as possible. As a serious history lover, I’m super excited about exploring castles, as well as just traipsing through the streets and walking in the countryside.

Yay!

Inverness

Sri Lanka

We spent just over two weeks traipsing through Colombo streets, enjoying the coast, and braving (okay, it was completely safe) safaris in Yala. I was accompanied by my sister and two best friends and we had such a great time.

It was fantastic to be back! The last time I was in Sri Lanka was in 2008. Since then, the war has stopped and so much has changed! Especially infrastructural changes. I mean, there is a freeway in Colombo! Blew my mind. There was noticeably less homeless people and stray dogs, and I’d love to look at that positively, but according to various reports, the government had been getting “rid” of these “unsightly” consequences of a poverty stricken nation. Honestly, I just don’t want to get into that because it’s disgusting, but there is an ugly side to the beautiful country, and it shouldn’t be ignored.

On a more positive note, tourism has definitely picked up. I was shocked at the amount of Europeans lounging in the sun on the beach. It was nice to see people enjoying what SL has to offer.

It was also fantastic to see my family! Sri Lankans (especially Burghers) are intense, energetic and over-the-top. It’s nice to get a dose of that every now and then.

Highlights of the trip:

-Tuk tuk race! My sister and I vs my (very Australian) best friends. My sister and I won because my mates driver stopped so they could see the elephant that was crossing the road. Only in Sri Lanka!

-I saw a leopard up close! It was amazing. He looked us in the eye and took a slash (Aussie slang for “marking his territory”)

-I went to Colombo Fashion Week. Honestly, not at all my scene, but it was super fun and interesting to get amongst that socialite type of event.

-We went to eat at this tiny “cade” (small street shop) and ordered food. My special friend, Breanna, pointed at various things and the server responded with a shake of his head. Breanna was super confused, thinking he was saying no, only for me to enlighten her that the little head wobble means “okay” in this corner of the realm. Giggles.

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The Golden Coast

Queensland was a blast!

I went for my sister’s book signing and was there for a week.

Indie Authors Downunder 2014 was an absolute success. There were so many amazing authors that I was blessed to meet (even if I had read none of their books! It’s not my fault, I’m not into romance!) and I had a ball. It was strange to see ladies fangirl over my sister, but quite wonderful at the same time.

We stayed at the Outrigger’s which was beautiful. Super fancy (and unlike my usual choice of accommodation) but it was a good change! I’d highly recommend it.

Besides doing book-related things, we did a lot of shopping, eating, beaching and lazing about. I have to admit: I did not LOVE Surfer’s Paradise. It was kind of like swimming in a washing machine. It’s too rough! Still, it’s beautiful. I’m just a beach snob because of the amazing, isolated, clear beaches here in the South West.

I really find it strange to travel within Australia. I think the best way to do it would be to rent a campervan and travel about. Planes and fancy hotels really do limit the way you experience a country.

Malaysia

The flight seemed long, the drive was short, and finally we found ourselves at our hotel in Port Dickson. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, it’s a beach destination about 90kms from Kuala Lumpur. We stayed at Grand Lexis Port Dickson which was a beautiful resort with great views, amazing food and, most importantly, a bar and karaoke room. In all honesty, I would say the resort is better suited for families rather than couples or young travelers, but that’s just my opinion.

We were just there the night, so our time was spent lazing in and by the pool, eating, drinking, and singing. I’m not particularly used to traveling high-roller style, so this was a fun change. That being said, I definitely prefer my slumming, backpacking ways – you definitely get a better taste of culture that way. It’s hard to appreciate a country when you’re couped up in a hotel.

 

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Something random I noticed: my sister and I were always served/spoken to after our visibly Australian (i.e. white) fellow travelers. Now I’m not one to usually notice such things, and to begin with my sister and I were skeptical, but towards the end even my friends noticed. We laughed about it and really weren’t offended, but I have to admit that colonial brainwashing is still evident in Asia. Interesting to think about though. 

 

Selamat tinggal!

New plans, new adventures!

Well, firstly, I leave to Malaysia and Sri Lanka in three days! I absolutely cannot wait!

In other, even more exciting, news – my best friend, B, and I have decided what our next big trip will be. I graduate mid year, and she graduates at the end of the year, so after that we’ll be moving back with our family (in a small town down south, desperate times!) to save our butts off and leave… for two freaking years!

We’re going to get TEFL qualifications and travel around. For those of you who don’t know what TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is, you should definitely look into it. There are so many programs in so many different countries – it just provides an amazing opportunities. Too many, almost! We haven’t quite narrowed it down yet, but thus far here is the plan:

3-6 months in Asia (China and Japan are forerunners at the moment)

3-6 months in South America (Peru and Chile are winning)

1 year in Europe (possibly doing TEFL in Czech Republic or something, but maybe just working random jobs and enjoying ourselves!)

I know a lot of people would think this is crazy, or that we should stop and get real jobs after spending so many years at uni, but…. if not now, when? We yearn to travel, we live for it, and it makes us happy. Our feet are as itchy as they’ve ever been, and we need to get running! Just typing this makes me jumpy with excitement. Can’t wait to start saving for it!!

NOTE: These plans are subject (and likely) to change. I wish I were more decisive! But I get an idea in my head and run with it… until something better comes along :P

Let’s add Sydney to the list!

Well, I may not have mentioned this, but my beautiful sister is a NY Times Best Selling author (yeah, I know… way to make me look bad!). My March trip to the Gold Coast is for a book signing, and now she’s signed me on to attend another signing in November in Sydney!

Suuuuper excited. I’ve hardly explored Australia, so this is a big deal to me. I’ve heard great things about both places, so it should be fun!

If you’re interested, here are the links to the events!

Indie Authors Down Under Book Signing (March 22 2014) https://www.facebook.com/events/292559354209093/?previousaction=join&source=1

Sydney Author Event (November 29 2014) https://www.facebook.com/sydneyauthorevent?ref=ts&fref=ts

Maybe I’ll see you there!

http://www.amazon.com/Maybe-This-Time-Chantal-Fernando-ebook/dp/B00FVFLLBQ

Is it too early to pack my bags?

So… Ireland & Scotland is finally confirmed! Just over three weeks in July 2014 to see, eat and drink as much as I can! And hopefully find myself a delicious kilted Scotsman…

My sister and I have yet to develop a reasonable itinerary for where we want to go and what we want to do. Three weeks is definitely not enough to see everything these beautiful countries have to offer, but at least we can hit the hot spots and a few in between. We decided we’d rent a car and drive around (Road trip!). It’ll be strange to jump into the car and be in a whole other place in only an hour or two considering it would take days to drive out of Western Australia alone… We’ll be staying primarily in hostels (I favour private rooms, though I’ve had some good experiences slummin’ it in a dorm or two) but we’ll definitely splurge on accommodation in a castle or two.

We land in Edinburgh where we will be for a few days. My sister, a popular author and avid reader, wants to attend a a book signing there so that will be fun :) Then we’re off! We’ll go around Scotland in an anti clockwise direction, ending in Glasgow. Then we’ll fly over to Dublin (thank you, RyanAir) and do another circle. We leave from Dublin!

I thought I’d take a moment to mention my approach to booking flights. While I highly recommend going to a travel agent if you’re iffy about using the interwebz, especially when you have to use your credit card for such a hefty purchase, I tend to find that fishing for flights online tends to reel in the cheapest flights. I love using http://www.farecompare.com – it allows you to compare various websites and always turns up the cheapest flights. Orbitz, Expedia and Cheapoair are great too. And remember – always get travel insurance!

Bali!

So I know I’m posting this over a month late, but I’ve had a hectic month filled with studying, working and alcohol consumption.

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

Bali was pretty great! This trip was definitely a lot different to the one I made last year, but still enjoyable. I went with a different crew and instead of staying at a resort, we stayed at a luxurious villa. No, seriously. ‘Luxurious’ isn’t even adequate to describe this place.

The villa and the crew!

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

A lot of the trip was spent lounging around. The rest of it was spent completely inebriated. I admittedly did very few cultural activities (okay, none). As a traveller, I know that’s pretty much blasphemous, but this vacation was really just intended to be a short break from Perth, not so much an adventure.

We were supposed to go to Ubud, but my best mate had some minor dental issues that had to be resolved. Some of the others went along, and there are some of the beautiful things i missed out on below.

Ubud Ubud

On one of the last days we did a day cruise which was pretty great. The sun was out and it was such a beautiful day. We did a bit of snorkeling, had some beers and ate a bad ass feed.

The crew!

So yeah, it was a good break!

Some good news: I’ve got a few trips planned for next year! In February I’m going to Sri Lanka for a few weeks, then in March I’m going over to the Gold Coast. As previously mentioned, I’ll be hitting Ireland and Scotland in July/August (after graduating, might I add!). Then? Who knows….

Bali’s booked!

Bali Round # 2!

Some mates and I have booked a ten day trip to Bali in August/September :) Sooooo excited! We’ll be dividing our time between Kuta and Ubud. For those that aren’t familiar, Kuta is the main “city” in Bali – lots of hotels, shopping and partying. Very touristy, and filled with Australians. One of my friend’s sister’s lives in Ubud in a place without running water or electricity – that’s where we will be staying. It’ll be challenging but incredibly interesting. Hopefully I can hack it!

Other than that, I’m really not sure what travel plans I have! I’m contemplating going to Sri Lanka in December – it’s a relatively cheap holiday and I haven’t been in 5-6 years. It would be super interesting to see the changes since the end of the civil war. For next year I’m still throwing around plans about moving to Europe for a few months. Has anyone done that? I’m looking into programs that set up work and accommodation for you – so if anyone has experienced it, please comment and let me know!