Malaysia

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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!

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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!!

Let’s add Sydney to the list!

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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?

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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!

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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!

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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!

Where to next?

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Well, I’ve been back for 6 weeks and already I’m thinking, “where shall I go next?” Another trip to Bali is underway, scheduled for August. I’m considering going back to Sri Lanka in either June or December, but nothing is for sure.

In terms of big trips, I’m thinking of going on another long one next year. June 2014 I’ll be graduating, and I have six months to kill before I pursue post grad studies. My sister and I plan to go to the UK next June/July to do some sight seeing, and I’m thinking I might do 3-6 months in Ireland after. I’m going to look into internships, and if I can’t find any, I’ll just get a working visa.

Some people might think this is crazy – to just jump into the deep end and see where you go. I don’t think people realise how easy it can be to decide to change your life and environment. Take risks, people.

Homecoming

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The most difficult thing about travelling is coming home. It’s so bittersweet – while you yearn for more adventures and experiences, it’s always great to come home to the country you love and see the people you’ve missed. However, the worst of it is settling back in to your old environment and getting into a routine.

I’ve been back in Australia for one month and one day. It feels like forever ago that I was on the other side of the hemisphere enjoying myself. Upon return I had to click back into “reality” and find a house, get my classes sorted and other tedious things. After spending over $20k on my travels, I’ve returned in a state of poverty – it’s so hard to get back on your feet! Advice to travellers: include money in your budget for when you return to your home country. There is nothing worse than being broke and desperate! It’s incredibly hard to fund my drinking when I’m a pauper.

Other than that, it’s good to be home. Seeing my family and friends, the beach and just getting to hang out and be a bit of a bum is really lovely. Back at work, back at school and I’m honestly loving life. I’ve learnt that while travelling is amazing, and I doubt I’ll ever stop, it’s important to live and enjoy the place you live as well. Explore and do new things. It’s come to my attention that I’ve seen hardly any of Australia, and it’s definitely something I wanna do. If you have a weekend free, pick up your shit and drive somewhere new – do something new. Don’t let yourself be consumed by travel plans and saving – take time to enjoy where you are – right then and there. 

Closing Reflection

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How do I summarise and reflect on my experiences over the last 6-7 months? I really don’t know, but I’m going to try.

Firstly, I want to thank all the people (who probably won’t read this) that made my experience so amazing. Not only the friends I made, but also the strangers that showed me so much kindness and friendliness. People internationally have a stereotype that Americans are arrogant, rude and self-centered. From what I observed, those were definitely in the minority. Most Americans, especially in the South and Mid-West, were so welcoming and genuinely curious about us as Australians. Ironically, I often felt embarrassment at the behaviour of Australians when overseas – we have a tendency to be loud, obnoxious and culturally insensitive.

My biggest regret is that I didn’t have longer to travel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to come home, but I think that the U.S. is so big and diverse, you just can’t cover it in such a short time. I’d love to take half a year in the future to drive around, and see the whole country. I’ve been to 15 of the states – there is still a lot more to see within those states, as well as all the others!

Another note I want to make is on traveling with a group of people. Honestly, it’s incredibly complicated when there are more than 3-4 people I would say. You tend to separate and form mini groups, and there is more conflict. While I adore each and every girl I traveled with, it was difficult to maintain a positive, open minded and excited perspective when effected by the moods and attitudes of the people around you. Further more, everyone has different interests and motivations for traveling – so find the people most like you and travel with them!

Summarising my experience at an American university, I’m both impressed and confused by the education system. Never thought I’d say this, but I love the frequent homework and assignments. It means I have to keep up to date (something I certainly don’t do back home) which means I don’t end up cramming like a psycho on caffeine at the end of semester. Also, all the assessments have a lower weighting which means if you do badly on one, it’s not the end of the world. Something I don’t like (and I also can’t believe I’m saying this) is the easiness with which they hand out A grades. I think it gives people a false sense of accomplishment. If half the class is receiving As and A+s, how do you distinguish the truly gifted students? I just think those grades should be reserved for truly excellent work.

For those considering living in another country for any amount of time: DO IT! Besides being an amazing, fun-filled experience, it really challenges you. It forces you to adapt to new surroundings, meet new people and just get out of your comfort zone. Not only is it character building, but it looks good on any resume to say you’ve studied or work in another environment and culture.

To my fellow travelers, be sure to visit America if you haven’t already. To those that already live there, explore your country. It’s beautiful, and I’ll remember only the good things.

Explore. Dream. Discover.