Bali with my Bestie :)

I hadn’t originally planned on going to Bali,  but thankfully Tash talked me in to it while I was half way through a bucket in Koh Phangnan. I gave her my card deets and she took care of the rest. I only had one request:

We were not going to Kuta

The flight over was less than desirable as I was sitting beside a 6’5 19 year old schoolie who insisted on telling me over and over again how he was drinking straight vodka. My kindle and earphones didn’t deter him, and he ever started “chatting” with me via the planes IM system on our individual screens:

37 A has sent you an instant message 37 B

When I fell asleep, he woke me up to let me know I could rest my head on him…

Ammm…I’m okay thanks..

Thank god we were not going to Kuta!

Tash had organised everything and there was even a car waiting for me when I arrived at the airport. The driver took me to our hotel, the Amadea in Seminyak. It was late, so I went to bed and when I woke up Tash was there 🙂

Our hotel was a 15 min walk from the beach and right in the middle of Seminyak- which was now becoming one of my fav places in SE Asia. We spent the first day on the beach, drinking juice and iced coffees, and then went to Yoga. The Yoga was held in Prana Yoga Studio and was one of the best classes I have ever been to – Superflow Vinyasa.  I was on a serious detox and we were both wrecked from the jet lag so we went to bed relativity early.

I had chosen the right place to detox, as Seminyak was full of healthy cafes/restaurants. My favs were:

I think we ate here 10 times in 8 days. Great vegan option for breaki, lunch, dinner and desert and so cheap!

This was nice but more expensive that the others for breakfasts. I had an omelette as I was having width-drawls.

Great sushi and super cheap. We ended up coming back here after we drove to Kuta, took one look at the restaurant we had booked and drove back to seminyak.

Super cute cafe with great breakies and juices.

On the Monday Tash had surprised me with a trip to Ubud to a day spa – Bliss!

  • First Treatment: Ayurvedic Massage – Chakra Dhara This treatment includes dripping warm herbal oil on the chakra points on your body in order to balance the energy flow and to purify the body, mind and spirit.The therapist will skillfully treat your body with an array of repetitive and slow movements such as kneading, squeezing and rubbing, which function to eliminate toxins and other impurities. This treatment will make you feel wonderful!Treatment time: 2.5 hours.
  • Botanica Spa Lunch A special two course light menu is prepared and served to bali botanica guests at bridges bali, a casual fine dining restaurant in Ubud.Lunch time: 1 hour
  • Second Treatment: Herbal Body Scrub and Therapeutic Bath Cleaning in depth! This treatment will remove dead skin cells, promoting newer cells to come up, which results to healthy and glowing skin. botanica’s exfoliants are made of 100% natural products.

Choice of scrub:

  • Lulur scrub: rice powder, turmeric and sandal wood (moisturizer: fresh yogurt)
  • Milk scrub: milk based exfoliant (moisturizer: fresh yogurt)
  • Coffee scrub: coffee based exfoliant (moisturizer: fresh papaya)
  • Spice scrub: spice based exfoliant
  • Green tea scrub: green tea based exfoliant (moisturizer: fresh yogurt)

Choice of bath

  • Bath of fresh flowers
  • Bath of spices (herbs, clove, cinnamon)

Treatment time: 45 minutes

  • Third Treatment: Herbal Botanica Facial This treatment softens, moisturizes and firms the skin while promoting the growth of new cells. Starting with applying milk cleanser, the treatment is then followed by peeling and exfoliation using natural herbal scrub.Next, a face, neck and shoulder massages with a steam treatment followed by manual extraction. Then, as the facemask is applied, you can relax deeply for 15 minutes while it does its wonderful work! The treatment concludes with applying moisturizing cream and refreshing iced towel on your skin.Treatment time: 1 hour.
  • Fourth Treatment: Hair Crème Bath Treatment time: 1 hour

After the Spa we strolled around Ubud and drank some more iced coffees and juice at a lovely cafe before heading back to Seminyak.

The following day, we spent the day at Potatoe Head Beach Club, drinking coconut water from coconuts and tequila and mango daiquiris. Potatoe head’s infinity pool over looking Seminyak beach is the perfect backdrop for Bali’s beautiful sunset.

For the rest of the hols, we floated between breaki, lunch and dinner, from Yoga to the pool, living the life! I also tried Self Taught Ashtanga Yoga at Shala Yoga studio. 

On our last night we met Neil and Sinead at Ku De Ta beach club for drinks, dinner and another amazing sunset. My drinks of choice were the Lychee and Rose Martini and Tommy’s Margarita.

20140107-122439.jpg

20140107-122505.jpg

20140107-122537.jpg

20140107-122450.jpg

20140107-122517.jpg

20140107-122652.jpg

20140107-122618.jpg

20140107-122714.jpg

20140107-122729.jpg

20140107-122815.jpg

20140107-122746.jpg

Marvellous Melbourne

I had started to notice a trend- I would get very cranky and fed up on the days after people left me. These were probably the only bad days I had while away, but they all seemed to be unlucky. It first started when Hauly and Barry left me in Hoi An, but I originally put this down to the typhoon and my “Dengue fever” (slash the flue). I’m sure it would have happened when I left Teo and Lins but the Peninsula softened the blow. That, and the knowledge that they were going back to work the next day and I was not ;). It happened again when my mom left. Nothing went right for me that day- was stuck under a shop canopy for 45 mins on my own in HCMC due to a thunder and lightening storm to be then robbed by a taxi man. The same thing happened when I got to Melbourne after leaving my dad. Bad day: Had to wait an hour for the bus, was missing Asia, it was FREEZING and I only packed for roasting, it was too expensive, you had to pay for shitty wifi….ugh….then I get bad news from home… I hate Melbourne, I hate Australia, I hate today. I’m taking my last emergency Valium and I’m going to bed.

The next day I saw the light. Melbourne is marvellous. The sun came out (thank god- I could only get away with wearing that one hoody so many days in row). I went shopping with Nina, a girl in my dorm, as I had to by some races paraphernalia. I picked up my two tickets for the cup, and turns out my uncle had gotten me members tickets. We walked around harbour town and through the parks and then it was time for strip bingo at the hostel, which came with free champagne. I also discovered my new favourite restaurant- “Lentil as anything“, which is a vegan/vegetarian volunteer run hippy joint with no prices or tills- you donate money as you see fit into a anonymous magic box. Melbourne is like east London on crack- Shoreditch wouldn’t get a look in.

While at the hostel bar, I bumped in to a load of NUIG heads, who are all going to the races. I give my spare ticket to a guy working at the hostel, since he was trying but couldn’t get one. We all start drinking “champagne” at 10 am at the hostel and then make our way to the racetrack. I was so delighted that I won $10 that I barely even noticed losing 60. To me, races=champagne, so I bought a bottle in the champagne bar:

your finest bottle of the cheapest Yellowfin please sir

I had too much confidence in my uncles horse and backed him to win rather than each way. As nice it was to be at the cup, it was sucking my bank account dry-though I was still thrilled to see the horse come third.

On my last day, I decided I would go exploring the city some more since I was so impressed with it so far. I walked along the beach towards the harbour and then took the tram into town. I wanted to go on this free walking tour everyone had recommend but before it started I planned to go to the Queen Victoria Market. When I got to the markets, they were closed (closed on Wednesdays)…ah this was not part of my plan…

Don’t make me hate you again Melbourne!

It was a minor set back but the walking tour made up for it. I met an English girl who was also travelling on her own and we got on with her like a house on fire. The tour lasted 5 hours and brought us through all the major historic spots as well as the coolest alleys which were covered in street art. Our young guide also recommended bars and cafes to the group, and myself and Ginni decided we would head back to the “Berlin Bar” for a drink after. The tour guide then saved the day when he told us the Victoria Night Markets were opening that night for the summer- Success!

After the tour, Ginni and I made our way back to the Berlin bar. The bar has two themed rooms, east Berlin and west Berlin. We snooped around for a bit taking pics but snuck out when the waitress wasn’t looking after seeing the cocktail prices. Instead of $20 cocktails, we had $5 lattes in the Italian quarter. We made our way up to the QVM, where things were getting going with food stalls, bars and a band. We shared kangaroo and croc burgers (when in Rome…) and I made up for the lack of shopping in my life over the last few months and bought loads of great stuff that I didn’t need and couldn’t afford- bliss!

I was semi devastated I didn’t have more time in Melbourne, as I had cut my time short to go to Sydney early. But…Sean was collecting me at the airport so I didn’t mind too much 😉

20131208-022502.jpg

20131208-022540.jpg

20131208-022610.jpg

20131208-022643.jpg

20131208-023221.jpg

20131208-023153.jpg

20131208-023139.jpg

20131208-023247.jpg

20131208-023317.jpg

20131208-023346.jpg

20131208-023408.jpg

Mui Ne :)

We left HCMC around 3 pm (on the bus scheduled for 2 pm) and got 5 seats at the back of the bus (cool kids). It took about 5/6 hours but it flew by since we had downloaded 2 movies and had a picnic of crackered flavoured crackers 😉 When we arrived we checked into the hotel that our three Canadian friends were staying in. The mouse pooh in the room wasn’t ideal, so we decided we would find another place the following day. That night we went to a place called Joe’s cafe (where we became permanent fixtures over the next few days) for dinner, margaritas and White Russians.

Since it was Sean’s mission to get his tan back, we got up early and went to the beach with the Canadians. A little Vietnamese woman with a cooler full of beers plonked herself down beside us when she noticed we were having few- a budding entrepreneur if I ever saw one! After awhile, we started to get a little burnt (Sean) and a little hungry so we decided we would go to Pogo’s beach bar for some day time play time. On the way, Sean and I rented a little moped and a little beach bungalow- that’ll do us for the next 4 days 🙂

We spent the rest of the day/night drinking cocktails/beers, playing pool/cards and eating falafels/Nutella pancakes.

Our Canadian buddies left the next day and Sean and I lay out in the beach outside our bungalow. That evening, we got a picnic from Pogo’s and drove to the red sand dunes for a beautiful sunset.

We spent our days eating, sleeping and tanning, but we did manage to fit in some sightseeing. We drove to the fairy stream and strolled through the stream as far as the ostrich farm. Ostriches are weird looking things, and apparently, in Mui Ne, you can ride one for a fiver! My ostrich didn’t seem to have a problem with me, and trotted around the enclosure without a bother. When Sean’s ostrich saw all 6’3 and 16 stone of him, he kicked up a bit of a fuss. Sean managed to get on top of him, but only made it a few meters before landing on his arse- much to my entertainment.

On the bus back to HCMC we lucked out with three beds in the back row. We checked into a VIP room with a jacuzzi tub in a hotel near the airport. We went back to the Mexican place for some margaritas and white Russians. All the locals were dressed up for halloween, but we didn’t stay out late that night as I had an early flight the next morning so we went home to bed.

20131207-123742.jpg

20131207-123654.jpg

20131207-123709.jpg

20131207-123723.jpg

20131207-123824.jpg

20131207-123754.jpg

20131207-123808.jpg

20131207-123924.jpg

20131207-123846.jpg

20131207-123858.jpg

Singapore Sling

I arrived in Singapore to be very confused by all the Christmas decorations in the airport. It has been summer for so long, I forgot it was actually winter. Since I had to wait at the airport for my dad to arrive, I made myself comfortable in Starbucks with a toffee nut festive flavoured latte. Dad arrived about an hour later and our driver took us to our hotel.

Dad had a few meetings, so I entertained myself at the hotel room for the afternoon. It was nice having a bit of space and a giant bathroom to myself to clutter. ALL my clothes needed to be washed but Grace had sent out new clothes for me from home so I had something to wear for dinner that night.

A friend recommended the sushi restaurant in Raffles to us, so we made a reservation for dinner there. When we got there, it wasn’t really what we had in mind. There were only seats at the sushi bar, no tables and no al a carte menu. We could choose from 3 set menus:

1. Sushi (15 pieces)
2. Sushi and a hot dish
3. Sushi and two hot dishes

The cheapest option (option number 1) was 220 Singapore dollars. Dad decided he didn’t like this menu, so we would have to go for a steak afterwards, but we should get the sushi as a starter. We couldn’t share, so we ordered two. I am sitting there wondering if we have won the lotto since I’ve been away, or if dad has just lost the plot completely. We have our own personal sushi chef between us, and he makes each piece and places them in front of us one by one. I tell dad I need to take a pic of the €100 sashimi to send back to the two at home, when he nearly chokes on his piece tuna. Apparently, 3 time zones in 4 days and having been up for almost 20 hours, didn’t do his brain any favours and he confused the Singapore dollar with the Hong Kong dollar, thinking our sushi “starter” was just €22… Ops! Guess we didn’t win the lotto then… :/

A steak was out of the question then, but we we actually full from the sushi anyway. And no matter what… There’s always room for a drink afterwards. The Long Bar at Raffles is somewhat of an institution and was where the Singapore Sling was invented. MJ met us for a drink here and I had the SS, though it was a little sweet for me (I was more concerned with the peanuts).

The next day dad had to go to work for the day. Sean had a nine hour stop over to he came in to meet me. The weather wasn’t great, so instead of lying by the pool we went for a stroll around the city. The previous night hadn’t put me off sushi entirely, so we went to a Japanese place for lunch. It’s a tough adjustment coming from Vietnam to Singapore, and paying $30 each for lunch stung a little. At least the tap water was drinkable and we no longer had to buy it-

I’ll have four glasses of water please 😉

After lunch, we walked over the double helix bridge to the MBS and took the elevator up to the skypark. As we looked over the city, giant purple storm clouds were creeping towards us. It was about to start lashing rain. There was only one thing to do at a time like this- buy a box of overly priced macaroons from the bakery downstairs and go back and watch movies all day.

Again, it wasn’t a goodbye for myself and Sean, as we arranged to meet again in Sydney. He left that evening and I went for dinner with my dad and MJ. We met at a really nice rooftop bar in the Fullerton hotel for drinks and then ate outside in a restaurant called “The Pelican“, overlooking the MBS. I ordered the fisherman’s pie- which was the size of my head and absolutely delicious!

mmm creamy, pastry goodness 🙂

On my last day in Singapore, dad and I went for brunch and a bit of shopping, before lying out by the pool. For dinner, we went to Daniel Boulud’s restaurant. Just as I was getting used to my new skinny self after months on a diet of eggs and tequila, Singapore beat Sydney in adding that stone.

Damn you delicious Western food!

20131208-025342.jpg

20131208-025359.jpg

20131208-025416.jpg

20131208-025426.jpg

20131208-025408.jpg

20131208-025351.jpg

20131208-025308.jpg

20131208-025444.jpg

20131208-025329.jpg

20131208-025319.jpg

20131208-025517.jpg

Easy riders- The last leg (4&5/5)

When we arrived at our destination, John and I were desperately craving western food (in the form of a pizza). As far as Son knew, the only place in the city serving Western food was KFC-yuckers-but since we were desperate, it would have to do. On our way to KFC, Son dropped us off at the pharmacy as we needed to pick up a few things. John, who has worked in a pharmacy, conveniently remembered all the drug names only after I spent 15 minutes embarrassingly drawing/acting out what I needed to 5 non-English speaking pharmacists.

Needless to say the KFC was the most disgusting thing Iv ever tasted. After dinner we strolled around the city and found a little bar serving margaritas and pizza

Damnit!!!

We made up for the lack of pizza in our lives by drinking double the amount of margaritas.

The following day we spent most of the day driving, stopping at a few road side shacks for iced coffees and bum breaks. After last nights KFC, we were 100% having a Vietnamese dinner with the drivers- we weren’t making that mistake again!

The four of us left the hotel and made it no more than 1 block when it started it pour out of the heavens. We were left standing under a shop canapé for 20 minutes, while the road changed into a river. There was no sign of the rain storm clearing so we decided to go for it- it was now or never and we were starving. The water was now knee deep and I was worried about how filthy it was, rats (who were surely going to come up from the gutters) and falling over curbs/obstacles I couldn’t see. After 5 minutes, we made it to the restaurant only to find a coffin on top of the dinner tables- a funeral. Back in to the rain we go. We find another place and sit down to noodles and veg, beer and rice wine

YOOOOOOO!!!

This turned out to be Johns fav meal of the tour (though the KFC the night before may have made it seem extra tasty). John and Son were still hungry so the decided to order some “pork”. Pork rectum. To my complete and utter horror John actually eats this and when I ask him what it tastes like he responds with:

you know that shit that comes outta your arse?!?

Just as Son passes me the sauce, which genuinely smelt like feces- I laughed for the next half hour at Johns misfortune.

The following day (our last day), we stopped off at the Chu Chi tunnels on our way to HCMC. During the movie- we felt extremely thankful we were Irish and not yanks (aka “raging devils”) and we even made a point of telling a Vietnamese tour guide this when he apologised for the movie! There was no need for him no know I also carry an American passport…

When we got to HCM and had to drive through the city to get to our bus to Cambodia-my life flashed before my eyes! John looked pretty worried as motorbikes/scooters/cars zoomed past but the two drivers didn’t seem to bothered about all the close calls.

If you are ever going to Vietnam, definitely look Son up-

http://easyridertrips.com/about-easyrider_213_276_0_a.html

20131204-110635.jpg

20131204-110647.jpg

20131204-110712.jpg

20131204-110921.jpg

20131204-110931.jpg

20131204-111027.jpg

20131204-110621.jpg

20131204-110724.jpg

Easy Riders – Dalat to Lak Lake (2&3/5)

We woke up early and hit the road right after our omelettes. Our first stop on our second day was the crazy house in Da Lat. The building’s overall design resembles a giant tree, incorporating sculptured design elements representing animals, mushrooms, spider webs and caves. It reminded me of Gaudi’s designs in Barcelona.

We got on the road again and made our way through the mountains towards Lak Lake. We stopped at the “Chicken Village”, a minority village, and strolled around the little streets and school.

We visited another temple and some more minority villages where we would drink iced coffee laying in hammocks.

The accommodation in Lak Lake was quite secluded so after dinner we had an early night. Even though all we did all day was drink iced coffee and sit on our backsides being driven around, we were wrecked!

The next morning we decided we would cross the lake on top of an elephant. The elephants were kept just down the road and seemed to be in much better condition that the ones in Bangkok. However, I noticed the workers still carried bull hooks so I felt slightly guilty about being there. After, we could buy sugar cane and feed the elephants so we did just that which made me feel a little better as the elephants seemed to enjoy the treat!

The next stop was a coffee stop, and Son had a little surprise for us- the cafe owner had two pythons and a scorpion which we could hold. At first I didn’t think I would be able for it, but Son didn’t give me much time to decide and next thing I know, I have a python wrapped around me! The second python weighted twice me, so I needed a little help lifting her. Unlike John, I did chicken out when it came to holding the scorpion!

We then made our way to these beautiful waterfalls where we went swimming and had lunch.

20131129-171829.jpg

20131129-171849.jpg

20131129-171909.jpg

20131129-172104.jpg

20131129-172137.jpg

20131129-172200.jpg

20131129-172227.jpg

20131129-174208.jpg

20131129-174243.jpg

20131129-174316.jpg

20131129-174348.jpg

20131129-174425.jpg

20131129-233845.jpg

20131129-174516.jpg

20131129-174601.jpg

20131129-233730.jpg

20131129-233922.jpg

Easy Riders: Nah Trang to Dalat (1/5)

Son collected us at 8 am. He strapped our bags to the back of the bikes, we hopped on and we were on our way.

Destination: Dalat.

We began our drive down the coast of Nah Trang before Our first stop. We stopped at some Cham Temples just outside Nah Trang. I, of course, was not dressed appropriately and they had no robes, so I waited outside while John checked out the interior. I had seen Cham temples in My Son so I knew what they were like. We then started making our way up and over the mountains to Dalat, stopping for “bum breaks” at view points, sugarcane farms for some snacks, minority villages for iced coffee (mmm mmmmm) and another Buddhist temple. On the way, we stopped in a “restaurant” in the middle of nowhere. As I was now back to being a veggie, I ordered rice, veg and fish. John got the only other option, rice, veg, fish and meat. Although the place was basic, the food was actually delicious and we were starving! Hygiene was no longer a concern for me, it was useless worrying about it, but I think John needed a few more meals before he got used to the standards of these places!

The temple we visited just before Dalat was my fav so far- and that is saying something as I have seen A LOT of temples. The temple on Tianmen Mountain in China had the best location but this temple was the most beautiful. It was so colourful and ornate and full of Buddhist statues. It took us about 6 or 7 minutes to realise that the monk at the alter was not real.

After we checked in to our hotel in Dalat, we joined Son and two more Easy Riders for a local hot pot dinner. We drank beers while the boys drank from a water bottle containing a brownish liquid- rice wine with banana. After a few beers, we joined them in a few shots of rice wine:

YOOOOO!!!

We left them and wandered through the night markets in search of a pub. Dalat is a quiet town but we managed to find one bar that had a DJ. This was the strangest bar I have ever been to. All the tables and couches were facing the top of the small room where the DJ played (like a cinema) and while the customers (mayb 15 of us) were chilling out drinking beer, smoking hookah and eating nuts, the DJ and staff were going 90, head banging as if they were in the middle of a rave. No one spoke English, but everyone was our best friend!

20131129-160045.jpg

20131129-160033.jpg

20131129-160107.jpg

20131129-160124.jpg

20131129-160143.jpg

20131129-160154.jpg

20131129-160238.jpg

20131129-160224.jpg

20131129-160303.jpg

20131129-160421.jpg