bali

My post-high school trip (SCHOOLIES) was spent in Bali, Indonesisa with two of my friends Sarah and Hill for a short and sweet five days.

Together, we cycled through local villages, past stray dogs that guardedly watched our every move and through enormous rice paddies unseen to the tourist eye. We white-water rafted through Ubud’s Telaga Waja river, hiked up a small mountain to a Hindu temple in the middle of the forest, swam in one of the world’s best infinity pools surrounded by nothing but the isolated, untameable, dense forestation Ubud has to offer. We sipped cocktails (and ate all the beach club’s lychees) by the seaside and wandered around an entire rice terrace field. We fine dined in classy restaurants that offered ‘Australian pigeon’, snorkelled in the deep blue and did morning yoga overlooking the beach. We enjoyed deep relaxation massages and spa treatments with a view of Candi Beach. Most importantly, we ate durian to our hearts’ content.🙂

Sarah, Hillary and I often found ourselves revelling in the beauty, wherever we were and whatever we did. The pure happiness of finishing our final high school year and final exams and for the first time in a while, being free. & to spend this special time in Bali was just to incredible. A once in a lifetime feeling that not even a photograph could capture. If you ask them, I couldn’t wipe a smile off my face for days.

Bali is such a magical place and there’s so much more to it than Bintang, monkeys and Full Moon Parties. All you have to do is really look.

#nofilter

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Tegallalang Rice Terraces
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Views of the Hindu Temple where couples can have a romantic dinner….#romance #toomuchcheese
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Our meal at Bebek Bengil (Dirty Duck), Ubud
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Views from the spa
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Cocktails at Potato Head Beach Club
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Early wake up call just for Nalu Bowls
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The cravings are real
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@ W Hotel
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Hill & I
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We had our very own personal henna artist!
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Midnight cocktails

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Sunset at Candi Beach
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Dragon fruit by the pool
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Villa life
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being normal at Hanging Gardens Ubud. 

 

weekend edition: jervis bay

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Callala Beach

Wishing everyone a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy and awesome New Year! I’m sitting here in disbelief, almost refusing to face the fact that we are in 2015…but simultaneously I’m thinking ‘woah…about TIME’.

Just like what everyone says at the end of each year – time flies. Its true. The last week or so of 2014 was spent  on the South Coast of NSW where I wished I could chill carefree. But before we knew it, time was up. This was just our little adventure:

On Boxing Day, my family and I took a road trip down the South Coast of NSW to the Jervis Bay territory. Three hours or so from Sydney (or four hours if I’m driving), Jervis Bay is an area known for its breathtaking beaches. Our high anticipation for our little family getaway, built up by our imaginations and Google images, was exceeded when we got there. We spent the last four days immersed in nature, encountering kangaroos, crabs, schools of fish, a baby stingray and dolphins. We basked in the sun, getting sand in places you can only imagine, beach-hopped and explored. Our days were spent adventuring in Huskisson and its nearby lakes, Hyams Beach, Callala Beach, Cave Beach and Fairy Meadow Beach. I’ve returned darker than I have ever been, developed strange tan lines here and there and brought sand from each beach home but it was all worth it.

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Our bush trail to Callala Beach

We stayed in Callala Beach. Our blue and not-so-little cottage was a 10-minute walk to the beach and at least a 20 minute drive to everything else…that is, civilisation. Being 21st century born and bred, everyone’s first question when they arrived at the house was: Is there WiFi? Is there reception? Both answers were no. This, despite how distressing it may sound, allowed us a break from the cyber world to simply relax. Callala Beach really did take the word ‘getaway’ to a whole new level.

I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the year of 2014. Enjoy the photographs🙂

A road trip snap
A road trip snap
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A second hand store in Huskisson.
Huskisson Marina
Huskisson Marina
5:45am sunrise at Callala Beach
5:45am sunrise at Callala Beach
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Dolphin Watching (no zoom!)
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Who wears sunnies on their head and doesn’t use them? ME @ Huskisson Marina
Hyams Beach
Hyams Beach
Hyams Beach
Hyams Beach

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Cave Beach
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Cave Beach
Cave Beach
Cave Beach

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Baby crab @ Cave Beach
Baby crab @ Cave Beach
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Panorama of Cave Beach
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The Lookout @ Cave Beach
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The rock formations get me every time #geography
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A friendly, munchy kangaroo we found on our little bush walk.
Our view on Fairy Meadow Beach
Our view on Fairy Meadow Beach
I spy..the Lighthouse of Fairy Meadow
I spy..the Lighthouse of Fairy Meadow
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Deep ocean, deep photo
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One of our fail jump shots…
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Always did love ‘candid’ shots

beijing

Beijing, China

Whilst I was in Beijing almost a year ago now, immersing myself in its raw and authentic culture and the city’s both historical and modern beauty and also its freezing [literally] weather, I had a sudden realisation another reason to why I loved to travel : learning the language. It’s hysterical, particularly to the local, when you attempt to slowly communicate with them in their language trying incredibly hard to correctly pronounce words and ending in the local speaking in rough English. Well, gold star for trying??

Visiting Beijing, China last December [2013] brought me around to a second tally on the amount of times I have visited China. Despite scary rumours about unsafe streets and dodgy people, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Beijing and would certainly love to return one day. If there was one Chinese dish, I could have at dinner everyday it would be Peking duck and here I was, eating Peking duck every night because if you’re in the city of PEKING DUCK then why the heck not? Not to mention, my eyes went bug-eyed snapping up all their ancient Chinese architecture with its intricate detailed scenic and patterned fine paintings. Hopefully, these iPhone snaps above do Beijing’s beauty justice.

Now here’s a little ‘Alicia history’. I’m Chinese but I was born and grew up in Australia, my parents always spoke either English or our Chinese dialect of Teo Chiew with me so I am yet to master the complex language of Mandarin. I’m still developing my Chinese and attempting, very slowly may I add, to speak fluently, I can catch a few words here and there and form a sentence which is progress. As the globe becomes more interconnected, it becomes incredibly beneficial to know more than one language. For example, did you know over half the people from Europe can speak at least two languages, 25% can speak 3 and 10% can speak 4 – frankly that is remarkable, I virtually applaud you for that!  It’s 2014 [to state the obvious] and we are growing up in a society where China is becoming increasingly influential makes knowing how to speak Mandarin a powerful tool and you, a handy asset.  So that is why, when I finish school altogether next year I aim to take a Chinese Integration process to study Chinese at a university holiday program. My brother went for 4 weeks and he came back speaking Chinese so much better than he ever did in his seven years of learning it as a child.

Just a flashback to Beijing….I remember my family being separated and lost on the first day. We had planned to visit the Forbidden City (紫禁城) and so headed there in two taxis (three persons in each car) because apparently maxi cabs are seen once in a blue moon in China. Somehow or rather, one taxi cab ended up across a huge stretch of uncrossable road filled with beeping cars and the other car arrived on the correct side of the road, at Tiananmen  Square. Moral of the story: taxi drivers get yourselves together.

shot with iPhone 5S

a parisian summer

Je suis sous le charme

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On top of the Arc de Triomphe, facing the Eiffel Tower
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The sun getting to me after a trek up to the Arc de Triomphe
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On top of the Arc de Triomphe, looking down on Ave. des Champs-Elysees
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Arc de Triomphe
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Avenue des Champs-Elysees
Arc de Triomphe from the streets
Arc de Triomphe from the streets
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The Eiffel Tower from a new perspective
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Outside the Louvre
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Inside the Louvre
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The famous pyramid shaped entrance to the Louvre
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At the entrance to the Louvre with my new French friends
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Parisian road signs, please lead the way
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Side view of Notre Dame on an overcast day
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Une peinture de l’homme
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How to take Paris home with you
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The streets of Paris, France
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Fairy floss – larger than your face but smaller than the Eiffel Tower
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Un été parisien
Paris, France

The return of Sydney’s infamous summer weather in the middle of Spring brings me back to the summer I shared with Paris; unbelievably, just under three months ago. A short five days in the city of love was all I needed for my heart to melt under its blistering beauty [and heat]. This city has just that charm in its air that has the ability to cast a spell over you and leave you in a daze. Traveling to the top of the Arc de Triomphe  or better yet, the Eiffel Tower were definitely the highlights of my Parisian summer. I was lucky enough to witness Paris from above at midday and at dusk. There, you feel like you’re on top of the world, [or Willow Smith] as the wind whips your hair back and forth, with the veins of the city  unfold beneath you; an image you can never erase.  I could create a list as to why you should visit France but I will refrain – you know what they say: ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.

shot on Nikon D90 with 18-25mm lens

europe instagram diary

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Here are numerous photos I ‘grammed over my trip to Europe with my family during the June/July holidays.  For those who have been living under a rock for the past few years, here are photographs shaped as squares on this social media app called Instagram…crazy, I know.

 

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Processed with VSCOcam with e3 presetSome photographs, you may notice, I did Instagram and others I didn’t but wish I had. It has been almost a month since I have returned home to Sydney  and with the chilly weather Sydney’s been experiencing, I am missing it more than ever.  What happened to those warm European summers, long days and nights, food made in God’s kitchen and that lost tourist-y feeling? Oh that’s right, they stayed in Europe. But Sydney I still love you and your Instagram-able sunsets, don’t worry.)

See more of my ‘grams here.

postcards from switzerland

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Location @ Zurich, Switzerland

Think of a cake topped with all the traits that make a cake delicious; perfectly balanced icing, the moist texture, the right amount of vanilla, a crisp, unburnt bottom and not sickeningly sweet. That is the kind of cake you can never have enough of. That cake is Switzerland.

Before visiting, there had been a certain mystery that clouded Switzerland – my family and I basically walked in with our eyes blindfolded. None of my friends had visited before and from what I looked up on my daily blog reads, not many bloggers had either. I only knew Switzerland as the ‘neutral’ country, the creators of the legendary Swiss cheese and home to the renowned Lindt Chocolate. We stayed in Zurich, Switzerland for 4 nights, covering the city itself (on foot may I add) in essentially one and a half days and traveling to the countryside for a day trip and Geneva for another day trip. (So you can imagine, 4 nights is more than enough time in Zurich alone.) If you plan on traveling to Switzerland soon, I’d advise to take a trip to the countryside; you’ll experience some magnificent scenery; something along the lines of…AN ARMY OF SUNFLOWERS! Every time we passed one, it got me into a wild, childish flurry to quickly stare at the yellowness of such a scene before we drove past it. And if you’re not planning to I’d advise to GET ON IT ASAP. Or if you are planning a Europe Trip and Switzerland isn’t a destination listed, well…you’re missing out on A Whole New World. Seriously though. I hope I will convince you why (I certainly have myself convinced).

When I was writing this blog post, I asked my family: “So what should I say about Switzerland?” I got a list of things thrown at me (verbally): safe at all times, beautiful countryside, clean streets, breathtaking architecture/buildings, most friendliest people and a cheese lovers heaven. All of the above, I assure you, will be justified in the photographs. It’s times like these I’m thankful that I chose English Ext because there is no other way of describing Switzerland but “ubiquitously” picturesque. It is the epitome of the scenic landscapes you find on postcards and think “That is 200% photoshopped and filtered” except not photoshopped and filtered.

BUT the bad before too much of the good.

A downside of this lovely European country sandwiched between Germany, France and Austria is the fact that its so freaking expensive. My brother and I joked about feeling like we were throwing cash like it grew on trees. For example, mmm… a McDonalds meal for 6 people cost 70 Swiss Franks? Say again? Did I accidentally walk into an overpriced cafe for hipsters?

Oh and another heads up: if you are traveling in groups over 4 or 5, maxi cabs are rare. In fact, finding an available cab to hail from the sidewalk is rare as you’ll barely see any free taxis driving around at all.

One of the very first things our taxi driver told us about Zurich was that it was incredibly safe – you could walk the streets at all hours of the night and be completely fine. This sense of security allowed us as tourists to simply enjoy our long walks and touristy activities without overly worrying. Phew, don’t have to be paranoid about pickpocketing and holding tightly onto my bag with sweaty palms eyeing everybody suspiciously, or imagining scenes where I would have to use my PE-learnt self-defense moves on any European stranger. (Don’t get me wrong though, always have your guard on!)

Having the opportunity to wander and explore the beautiful city for ourselves, we witnessed locals swimming in the clear River Limmat, got a shock reading “warning shark” signs, trams making their way downtown and the bustling roads of the tiny city – by tiny, I mean, you can walk from one end of the city in half a day. The main street in Zurich is Bahnofstrasse. It’s one straight road leading to Zurich Sea and is a watch store magnet with the entire street from top to bottom having a watch brand store in sight. At the end, you’re greeted by the relaxing scenery of the open Zurich sea with boats docked in its small harbour.

Old Town is exactly what its name says it is – the more older part of the city that consists of small cobblestone alleys surrounded by low, brightly coloured buildings with flower-decorated balconies. It’s situated very close to the Zurich’s main river, Limmat and is always bursting with life in its small squares, restaurants, shops and water fountains. As you wander past, each building will try to impress you with its bright palette, as if each one were continually trying to out do the other buildings by its side. Old Town is certainly a place I will ways be in love with. Even looking back at the photographs I miss walking on the uneven cobblestones and admiring the fresh flowers everywhere. Old Town is perhaps the center for dinner and it never once failed to impress. Imagine the ultimate degree of HOT cheese. Put this in a pot. Cheese lovers out there – I know you’re mouth is already watering. It gets better. Now, imagine a diced pieces of a homemade loaf of bread and DIP this int the cheesy goo called cheese fondue. If you extract your bread, it will be oozing with Swiss cheese…When in Switzerland, cheese fondue is compulsory and the best place to have it is Adler’s Swiss Chuchi.

On one of our days spent in Switzerland, Dad was heavily insistent on hiring a car and becoming our own tour guides. I admit to being reluctant to this idea but I’m incredibly glad that we did because if we hadn’t, I would of missed the bountiful fifty shades of endless green farmlands and sunflower farms. So on that Sunday, there we were, six Australians in basically a mini bus driving on the wrong side of the road and going 20km/h. We drove north, crossing to Germany, smuggling nothing but Switzerland’s local chocolate, Cailler and peach gummies. Here we visited the great Mount Titisee (or what Mum likes to call, Mt Tities) from the town of Titisee, home to the popular Black Forest cake.We lost our way to Rheinfall, by missing a turn and not having the exact address – a road trip doesn’t count as a road trip until you get lost. But we got there and it was well worth getting lost for. We traveled into thec entre of the waterfall on a tall rock and from there was surrounded by the water at 360 degrees. No further explanation needed – if a picture is worth a thousand words, whats a video worth?

Adding what feels like an incredibly long list of Switzerland’s greatness, the people of Swiss are the kind you just want to group hug. You’ll find that everyone is always willing to help. We met this random gal at the Europcar return parking and she 1) took us to a 24hr petrol station 2) saved us from a $1000 parking ticket and 3) being well-travelled, gave us a detailed itinerary and tips for Paris, taking a good 45 minutes of her time.

I’m sorry for that extra long blog post (and I have a lot more to say, but to save your eyes I’ll stop there for now), but hey, now you’re going to walk away from your computer knowing Switzerland is a fabulous country and that’s what counts.

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