Photo Friday – Bay of Fires Rocks, Tasmania, Australia

15 Mar

Have I mentioned we LOVED Tasmania?  I think I might have.  We spent some time camping up near the Bay of Fires on the east coast, and found these huge rocks all along one stretch of shore.  The lichen (I’m assuming that’s what it is) makes an awesome red color, that really stood out against the blue sky.

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Photo Friday – Uluru at Sunset

8 Mar

A few months ago I posted one of our Uluru sunrise photos.  Today we have a more traditional view, the sunset and a clear blue sky.  I really expected the rock to turn a very bright red, as per all the postcards…but clearly those have been super photoshopped.  Still, it was really lovely.

Photo Friday – Coffee Culture in New Zealand

1 Mar

We could not find a decent cup of drip coffee to save our lives in Australia or New Zealand.  Down under, they are all about the ‘long black’ or the ‘flat white’ or any other variety of fancy espresso based coffee, non of which really satisfied my need for a basic morning cup of black sludge.  That said, they really have perfected the art of the fancy coffee, as evidenced by the multitude of patterns you are sure to discover in your milk foam at any decent coffee shop.  We particularly liked this one, the New Zealand silver fern.

 

The Re-entry Post

20 Feb

If you follow us on Facebook, you probably already know that we are home.  You know, HOME home.  Living-with-my-parents home.  Spending-all-our-time-trying-to-remember-how-to-write-a-cover-letter home.

Over the last week we’ve been asked the same few questions, oh, about a million times.

How is it being back?  

Being back is fine.  Really, it’s fine.  It actually sort of feels a little time-warpish, like maybe we never left in the first place.  We’re house-sitting for my dad for a month or two, and honestly, we are so freakin excited to be staying in the same place for more than a few nights in a row.  We’re also excited that finally we get to buy a full basket of real groceries.  It’s the little things people.

What are you going to do now? 

What are we doing now?  Well, we’re applying for jobs.  I was in education before, as a teacher, and I’m sticking with that industry.  Ideally I’d like to be in international education, or a study abroad program office, or a curriculum management position…there are a lot of directions this could go.  Justin was in a corporate office, doing, you know, corporate office stuff, mostly around meeting and event services.  He’d ideally love to be a part of the beer industry (because beer is awesome), probably in a similar events management kind of gig.  If any of you have a fabulous connection in either of those fields, let us know!

Are you experiencing reverse culture shock?

No. We spent the last 3 months of the trip in Australia and New Zealand, which really, are so similar to here that we found it all to be a very smooth transition. We did have a little bit of shock entering Australia though.  We had come from 6 months in places like India, Nepal, Thailand and Indonesia, and we were THRILLED to be flushing our tp and drinking water straight from the tap again.  We were less thrilled to be paying $11 for a pint of beer.

We are experiencing just a little unexpected weirdness, mostly related to how we’ve been living (you know, like vagabonds) for the last 15 months.  The first bit is that we are totally overwhelmed by our wardrobes.  After having just a few changes of clothes each you’d think we be basically just rolling around in our re-discovered piles of extra clothing.  Well, not so much.  When we were moving we just stuffed all our clothes into suitcases and threw them into my mom’s basement.  Now, it’s a huge disorganized jumble and we can’t find anything that seems appealing.  I’m hoping we’ll get over that soon.

The other very strange thing is that we at once want to get out and see all our friends, but at the same time, we don’t want to do anything or see anyone.  We have a list of people that we want to call and make plans with but we just haven’t.  We spent time hanging with my family, and we’re headed out to see J’s family next week, but it’s not like we are oh-so-busy right now and can’t find time for anything else.  This is probably the strangest thing because we were very social when we lived in NYC, and we were pretty social on the road, when we could be, making new friends in the hostels etc.  I think it’s just a function of it being only the two of us together for so long, particularly in the last two months when we were camping all the time and had less opportunity to meet a lot of new people.  I’m hoping we’ll also get over this soon.  In fact, I’m going to force the issue and call some people as soon as I’m done with this post.

As you already can tell, we’ve only been keeping up with Photo Fridays in the last few months of our trip, but we’ve got so many things left to talk about! We have all of Justin’s Moving Box Bet videos to edit, the last of the Roundups to organize, and loads of stories we didn’t have time to write about on the road.

We may be home, but we’re not done with this blog.  Thanks for travelling with us, and stick around because the best is yet to come.

Photo Friday – Street Art in San Francisco

15 Feb

Graffiti is not what it used to be in San Francisco.  We spent some time there earlier in the week and stumbled on this colorful alleyway down near Mission St.   It reminded me so much of Valparaiso, which, totally reminded me of San Francisco…it’s a cyclical thing.

Photo Friday – Bananas in Mysore, India

8 Feb

It’s bananas. B.A.N.A.N.A.S.

For some reason, bananas have been pretty expensive in parts of New Zealand.  It seems like they might grow well here, so it’s a tad confusing.  In any case, it made me think of the time we were walking through this huge market in Mysore, India.  It’s hard to tell just from this picture, but this entire section was filled with bananas, including the three sections behind this, and all the stalls opposite of it.  Seriously, there were millions of them.  I kept thinking, “How can they possibly sell all these before they rot?”

The Indonesia Roundup

5 Feb

map_of_indonesia

The Statistics

Number of days spent in country –  30

Cities/towns visited –  Kuta, Bali; Ubud; Bali, Padang Bai, Bali; Gili Air, Lombok; Sengigi, Lombok; Kuta, Lombok

Number of different lodgings – 7

Flights – 0

Bus journeys – 4

Boat rides – 3

Taxi  journeys – 5

The Budget

indonesia chart

Total US dollar amount spent – $2054.14

Average cost per day, per person – $34.24

Average lodging cost per night, per person – $7.45

Most expensive lodging, per person – $12.50 for a private cabana with bath at Banana Cottages on Gili Air.  It was an ok value, though it would have been better if it included breakfast.  The cabanas were brand new though, and were cleaned every day, which was a huge treat for us.

Least expensive lodging, per person – $3.65 for a private double with bath (cold shower, toilet, no sink) including breakfast at Tri Putri homestay in Kuta, Lombok.  It’s a basic surfer compound but we had our own room with a fan and bathroom, unlimited banana pancakes (really crepes) for breakfast, a little patio area with a  drying rack, and it was just on the edge of the village.

Average food/drink cost per day, per person – $12.20 – We ate out exclusively, everything from $1.00 Mie Goring (the local cheap noodle dish) to more Western style meals, mostly on Gili Air.  We also drank copious amounts of beer.

The Best

Chill Out Bungalows and Bar on Gili Air – This was the most consistently decent Western food we had in Indonesia.  It’s beachfront and they have free wifi that actually works.  They have tables inside, little surfer decks (most have some cover) outside, and lounge chairs on the beach that you can use all day if you order something, even just a bottle of water.

Cheap cheap cheap Magnum ice cream bars.

Corner Warung, in Ubud, Bali (on the corner of JL Raya Ubud and JL Sugriwa) – Really great food for cheaper than comparable places.  The Thai beef salad and the BLT’s are the best.

Tude’s Family homestay in Ubud, Bali (on Sugriwa St not far from where the street branches off from JL Raya Pengosekhan.  There’s also an entrance on Gang Menda.  Call ahead – 081 338 227 008) – It’s walkable from the Perama bus stop and the town center, but far enough out to have a real neighborhood feel.  He’s got two rooms, one with a double bed, one with two twins, both have their own bathrooms.  The rooms are new and spotless, and come with breakfast , afternoon tea, and towels.  Prices vary, depends what you negotiate, but we paid around $7 per person in the shoulder season.

Paying a few dollars to spend the day lounging around at fancy hotel pools.  Lots of places will let you do this, just ask around until you find one you like.  Biyukukung Suites and Spa, on JL Sugriwa #89 near Tude’s is great because it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by rice fields.  There’s an upper and a lower pool, the lower is much more private.

Super cheap local food – you can get a plate of Nasi Campur (rice based dish) or Mie Goreng (noodle based dish) for a dollar or two at many local places.  Quality varies, so ask around about good places.  This particular plate we found at a tiny little place in Ubud for $1.  It was pretty good, and Justin ate a total of 3 full plates in one sitting.

We took a cooking class at Casa Luna one day, and we were very pleased with the value.  It’s a group class, so you don’t get to do everything, but there’s TONS of food and it’s really interesting to see the curries made from scratch, especially since they take a fair amount of effort if you are hand grinding all the ingredients.  We took a class on a day with the market tour and it was great to be able to wander around the local market with a guide who could tell us a little more about the food and spices that we were buying to cook with.

The Worst

The never-ending calls of ‘taxi/transport/massage?!?’ you get while walking down the street.

Kuta, Bali.  Wow.  I mean, we somehow just had no idea that Bali is to Australians what Mexico is to Americans, meaning a place to get crazy drunk for super cheap, or a place to stay in nice resorts for a fraction of what you’d pay in Australia.  We were expecting paradise, but Kuta just reminded us of Cancun…only tackier.    It’s the place to be if you want super cheap t-shirts/sarongs and a souvenir penis in the form of a bong, bottle opener, lamp or just about anything else you can imagine and you can get them in wood, plastic, aluminum, or disco ball style.  You can also find a full range of some of the most offensive stickers I’ve ever seen.   Most people end up here for at least a day since the airport is here, but it was our least favorite place in our entire 15 month trip.

Photo Friday – Green Lipped Mussels in Havelock, New Zealand

1 Feb

When Justin and I were living in NYC we spent many a Saturday afternoon sucking down gin martinis and eating mussels at a little restaurant just around the corner from our apartment.  Unfortunately, mussels aren’t usually in our backpacker budget, so we were thrilled to be passing through Havelock, New Zealand (the green lipped mussel capital of the world!) where mussels are a dime a dozen.  Ok, so not really a dime a dozen, but about $3.50 per kilo.  That’s $3.5 for more than two pounds of mussels.  Big ones.  Fresh ones.  Delicious ones.

We wasted no time hitting up the local vendors and were steaming up a massive batch for dinner at our campsite.  We may have done this for three nights in a row.  It was amazing.

Photo Friday – Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

25 Jan

The Abel Tasman trek is one of the easiest ‘Great Walks’ in New Zealand.  Most people take 3-5 days to hike the whole thing and camp, or sleep in Dept. of Conservation huts along the way.  We didn’t have the time, or the gear for an overnight trek, but we really wanted to spend some time walking in the park.  It’s possible to take a water taxi to many points along the track, and walk in either direction.  We opted to head to Bark Bay, which is halfway out.  We walked the whole way back to town, normally a two day walk if you are camping, but without the gear it’s totally possible in one day.  We saw some spectacular coast, and it was well worth the absurd cost of the water taxi, even though we did get rained on for the last 12 kilometers.

Photo Friday – Wildflowers in New Zealand

18 Jan

We are fortunate enough to be tramping around New Zealand in early summer when there are flowers blooming everywhere.  These are super tiny, each flower is about 1/3 the size of my pinky fingernail, but there were so many of them where we were walking this morning that the meadow looked almost like it had a light dusting of snow.

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