I reached Gili Air by fastboat departing from the little coastal town of Amed. The journey took roughly 40 minutes, however the boat leaves following a not well defined schedule, ticket sellers claiming it could be 9:30 am or 10, in many cases ending up 10:30 or even 11 am. The average ticket price for one way is 300K IDR, which includes a complimentary glass of water on board.
My recent Western Australia trip wouldn’t have been complete without visiting the famous Margaret River region.
The small town of Margaret River is aprox 3 hours south from Perth and although I expected a proper river, Margaret is just a regular creek. However, there was no place for disappointment because the town has so much to offer and it’s very welcoming. Cute boutiques, restaurants with personality and great live music all around, Margaret River has been my temporary home for two days and I loved it.
Of course, there’s no person who’d go there and not visit the wineries.
The region is one of Australia’s best wine producer with plenty of small, family owned but also world famous wineries.
I’m not a wine expert whatsoever, but as a regular consumer and on behalf of fellow travelers that joined the same wine tasting tour, I say that the regions best product is certainly the Chardonnay. Delicious taste of wine, but also the food has been remarkable, making the day a succes and the tour full of joy and laughter.
It’s certainly wine lovers paradise here, but if you’ve got sweet tooth you’ll be happy too. The chocolate factory welcomes you with several different types of chocolate and you can taste as many as you like and you are in the right location also for the best nougat I’ve ever eaten.
After so much and wine and sweets, if there’s still space in the stomach, you shouldn’t miss out on the cheese tasting either, you’ll be amazed by the selection on offer.
Our tour ended at the distillery, where we’ve been spoiled with a signature liquor offered by the sarcastic, yet friendly bartender.
Amazing atmosphere at all wineries, very friendly and generous wine makers with interesting stories to share, a wine tasting tour is the ultimate must do.
Although the Margaret River wineries may be the most popular in the area, it does worth checking out more.
Greeted by the colorful double rainbow, I liked this cute town as soon as I got there. The rain stopped soon and I was excited to go on a discovery walk and try to stay away from wine at least for a day. The latter didn’t quite work out because they serve everywhere the tasty Chardonnays that I couldn’t say no to. On the other hand, I was more than pleased with the walk. Discovered a long stretch of walking path right next to the sea and on my way I met a few rabbits hopping around and some smiley locals that walked their dogs. It looked like everybody had a dog there, very dog friendly place.
I didn’t expect to end up staying a few days in Dunsborough, considering it’s small size, but then it felt so good being there that I didn’t bother hitting the road, just until the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse.
From the lighthouse the view is amazing, but I recommend doing a bit of bushwalk to properly explore the Leeuwin – Naturaliste National Park.
The main attractions around are Sugarloaf Rock and Canal Rocks, both impressive and interesting.
A few minutes drive from Dunsborough is another small, but fascinating town, Busselton, home of the famous Busselton Jetty, the longest wooden jetty in the world.
At the end of the nearly 2 km long jetty is one of only 6 in the world underwater observatories. The $34 entry fee that includes the optional train ride to and from the observatory, aprox 30 min tour and another 30 min free time in the observatory, is money well spent. You’ll experience looking at the marine life in their natural habitat without even getting wet.
Before this trip when I heard Margaret River I just thought about wine and that’s it. Little did I know about the natural richness of the area, but now that I’ve got a glimpse of it, I feel that I must return and dig for more.
From white sand beaches and turquoise water to pink lakes and diverse flora and fauna, Western Australia has it all and in a two weeks roadtrip from Perth to Exmouth it’s very likely to experience a bit of everything. The bonus to all this is that it’s way less touristy than the east coast of the continent, although it’s just as interesting and stunning, perphaps even a bit more outstanding.
Considering that my roadtrip started in Perth towards the end of October, the weather has been still a bit unpredictable, windy and a bit chilly but as you make your way more and more north the temperatures rise and in Exmouth you’re happily swimming in warm water by the very end of the month.
In a laidback and rather relaxed travel rhytm, choosing the overnight locations happened always spontaneously, this way spent some time in little towns and also at popular attractions.
A few of the places I enjoyed and would visit again would be :
The small fishing and tourist town located 127 km north of Perth has got a nice beach, a good bakery, a pretty lookout spot and a well positioned tavern, where you can sip on a wine while watching the sun going down. They serve amazing food as well, the prawns are delicious and the staff very friendly.
Heading more north, near the town of Cervantes, lake Thetis is a saline coastal lake, one of a few places in the world with living marine stromatolites.
Speaking of stromatolites, Hamelin Pool is a must visit, it’s further up north, in Shark Bay, and it’s more impressive than Lake Thetis, also more touristy. It’s a World Heritage area and these stromatolites are the oldest and largest living fossils on earth.
A popular coastal town, where lots of locals from Perth go just for the weekend, it’s attractive because of the beautiful beach and the great snorkeling opportunities. I’ve spotted also a dolphin in the far distance. The sunset has been magnificent and the caravan park just 2 min walk from the beach.
A coastal city with a quite nice downtown, lots of shops, cafes and restaurants. Great for a bit of a bigger city atmosphere or overnight.
Pink Lake at Port Gregory
The Pink Lake or Hutt Lagoon is a huge lake with entirely pink water, picturesque and unusual, the color of the lake being caused by the presence of the carotenoid producing algae called Dunaliella salina.
Probably my favorite WA town, Kalbarri is charming and offers plenty of activities both on water and land. Being situated at the mouth of Murchison River it’s home for pelicans, every morning there’s a pelican feeding opportunity as well. The Kalbarri National Park is nature lovers happy place, plenty of trails and amazing views.
Not really a town that would impress, but it can be ok to make a stop, take a walk and possibly check out some of the few restaurants and the slice of nature at Chinaman Pool.
The world famous dolphin reserve is absolutely amazing, the main attraction being of course the daily feeding of the bottlenose dolphins that have been coming close to the shore for more than fifty years. It’s a wonderful experience to be so close to them and learn about this friendly creatures from the people that dedicate their lives to protect and keep the dolphins happy and healthy.
But that’s not all, Monkey Mia has also a very nice beach, a modern resort with plenty of entertainment options and nice and helpful staff.
Still in the Shark Bay region, this beach is covered completely in shells and it’s one of the only two such beaches in the world.
Another of my favorite WA spots, Coral Bay is small, relaxed and simply beautiful. The water is crystal clear, warm and nice blue, the beach is covered in soft sand and the whole surroundings are very friendly and inviting. The perfect setting for sunbathing, swimming and just enjoying the beauty of the place. It’s considered one of the best places for snorkeling, the Ningaloo reef being home for a large number of fishes, whale sharks and mantarays. As so many other places in WA, Coral Bay is also a perfect location to watch beautiful sunsets.
Exmouth and around
The far north west town is known for its amazing Ningaloo reef and the closeby Cape Range National Park.
The town itself is relaxed and welcoming, but the real beauty lies outside the town.
Just in Cape Range National Park I could have spent probably at least a week, it has so much to offer. Highly recommended to do the Yardie Creek walk, you’ll be rewarded with great views over the gorge, which has deep blue water, red limestone cliff faces and a wide range of wildlife, such as this cute wallaby that decided to hop out of the bush at the right time for a photo with a great background.
Osprey Bay has been amazing for snorkeling, the highlight was swimming with turtles. Also plenty of fishes of all sizes and colors to be seen.
Turquoise Bay is absolutely spectacular, definitely visit it once you’re in the National Park. As the name suggests, the color of the water is perfect turquoise blue, you feel like in paradise there. It’s known as western Australia’s best beach and one of the top best beaches of the whole continent – I can understand why.
It feels like there’s so much more to discover around here, but these highlights are probably the most spectacular ones and can easily be explored in aprox 2 weeks. The beautiful beaches are certainly attractive and the journey towards them is pleasant, occasionally some local animals may great you as well.
Runners might have it on the bucket list, Sydney siders love it and all participants are aware that City 2 surf is the world’s largest fun run and Sydney’s favorite sporting event. My long distance running experience started not too long ago with 4 k, at the second event I did a 5 k and this time I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of being part of what’s considered a blast and a challenge that everybody around me talks about. Therefore with all possible excitement I registered a week ago and with again a very minimal training but a much bigger determination I put my runners on and lined up at St Mary’s in the CBD to start the hardcore challenge.
The atmosphere from the very beginning has been very welcoming and entertaining, just as I expected it to be. Music, good vibe and many many keen runners of all ages started the countdown on this sunny Sunday morning.
City 2 surf attracts annually thousands of participants, last year reaching a fabulous number of 80,700 registrations. It’s impressive taking into consideration that it’s been only the 48th edition back then and the very first one in 1971 started off with only around 2000 runners.
This year didn’t disappoint either, the massive crowd giving the extra push and motivation along the way.
The race started on College Street in the CBD and following the route along the eastern suburbs, with beautiful Rose Bay and Vaucluse views, where many participants stopped for a quick foto shoot. So did I because I actually had no photo of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge from that angle. Yeah, a side of me is still a tourist here and yes, I do love those two gorgeous icons. So there you go, I skipped one water stop and replaced it with a few seconds break of posing with the beautiful background.
Making our way towards the world famous and spectacular Bondi Beach, where the finish line is set, meant another few km-ers to go, but mainly downhill from this point on, which made things slightly easier.
Over all, as any similar event, it’s been challenging and at times really hard to push through, but also a very rewarding experience that I’m so glad that I signed up for. No wonder that in the runners world it’s often a bucket list race to do, also named by notorious publications as one of the world’s most scenic runs. I reckon most of those runners will stop for a selfie on the top of the hill to catch the great background.
I couldn’t disagree and actually if my runner version had a must do list, City 2 Surf would certainly be on it, now ticked off with a result of 1h 45 min result. Must admit I surprised myself with this. More runs to come!
Sydney’s most famous and certainly the busiest as well beach, Bondi for sure rings a bell even for those that didn’t get the chance yet to visit it. The iconic beach attracts many people surprisingly even in winter. Winter at this part of the world is mild though, today in a pleasant 18 degrees sunny day I was lying on the beach, reading a book, while a few brave ones were taking a dip in the ocean.
Just recently Bondi hosted a typical winter activity location, an ice rink, where both young and older could enjoy some fun on the ice with ocean views. That’s probably the closest you can get to winter here.
Nothing to complain about, especially when you’ve got the amazing coast line to explore.
On a day like today, when it’s warm and sunny, but not too hot, coastal walks are the ideal weekend activities that keep you in shape.
The stretch from Bondi to Coogee is easy and starts right from the beach, passing Bondi Icebergs and going all the way along the coast.
Very relaxing, on one side with the waves hitting the rocks and above us the beautiful blue sky, amazing combination of what in my terms means perfection.
Along the way you’ll see plenty of interesting and picturesque stone formations that look great in photos.
Also, a few small beaches, such as Tamarama or Bronte, where there are barbecue opportunities and always good vibe.
Lots of people take their dogs on this walk as it’s a very pet friendly environment and I’m sure the dogs enjoy the walk as much as their owners.
As Australia seems to be encouraging a lot sport and fitness in general, this part of the city is in particular a great example of that. Everywhere around Bondi and the sea in general, there are always many super fit people doing their work out, run, stretch or yoga. While on our coastal walk we’ve been taken over so many times by runners that just casually jog from one beach to the other on a regular Sunday afternoon.
The walk goes through a cemetery as well and between the graves you still have the magnificent view of the ocean. One way takes usually just over an hour in a normal rhytm with occasional stops for drinking water or taking pictures. Whether you opt for one way or return, in either cases there’s public transport available.
It does worth it sticking to the area until sunset for having the chance of looking at the ocean on a different light, that is quite pretty and relaxing.
The atmosphere becomes quiet and romantic as the night falls and the waves sound much louder but in the same time more calming. In the distance the city’s light start turning on and the darkness begins to take over slowly. It’s handy to have a light jacket because it gets windy and chilly very quickly, as soon as the sun sets.
The return walk took almost 3 hours and at return the night lights welcomed us back to reality: busy, noisy and always fun Bondi.
I must admit the term Vesakha or Wesak didn’t mean anything to me until a few days ago, when I heard about a parade that was going to be happening near my accommodation in Kuala Lumpur.
I started researching online about it to see if it may represent me any interest to participate at all.
I found out that it’s also called Buddha’s birthday, which started to shed light on the topic. It’s a holiday celebrated by Buddhists and some Hindus and it commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha.
Wesak Day is on May’s full moon day and it’s public holiday in Malaysia.
The service started at the Buddhist temple Maha Vihara in Brickfields at 6 pm with meditation.
The streets were decorated as for celebration and lots of people gathered, unfortunately many beggars too.
The first float was carrying a big Buddha statue decorated all around with lots of flowers and in front a little Buddha that was being washed carefully by every single person that lined up for the ritual that represents the purification.
Several other floats followed, each of them carrying a different Buddha in a shiny and flowery set up and most of them having in front the tiny Buddha for the washing procedure .
In the honor of Buddha’s teachings, according to which we shall manifest generosity, volunteers were offering free soup, water and a little package that included a candle, a few flowers and some candies.
Ready to join the parade, we lit up our candles and started walking the streets of KL with a feeling of happiness in hearts and smiles on our faces .
The full moon was shining bright from between the skyscrapers during the whole route that ran approximately 12 km and lasted more or less 4 hours, ending at the same place where it started.
For Buddhists a celebration, for locals a day off, for tourists something new , for me another unique Kuala Lumpur memory.
Getting around Transportation in KL is fairly organized and easy to figure out, but also ridiculously cheap. For instance a one way ticket from KL Sentral – main station , that’s where you arrive from the airport whether you take the train or the bus – to KLCC – Kuala Lumpur City Center aka Petronas Twin Towers – will cost you 2,40 MYR, which is aprox 0,80 AUD or 0,50 Euros. When it comes to public transport the offer is wide: from a free tourist bus that runs to the main attractions, to the train, bus, monorail and bikes. However, is also not a bad idea to take long walks around the city, as most places are easy to reach by foot if you can cope with the humidity. Eating & drinking out One thing is sure: nobody will starve in this city. From street food to fine dining, everything is available at any time of the day and night. With such a diverse cultural and ethnic mix, food from pretty much all over the world can be easily found. Head to Chinatown to eat together with the locals at simple food courts and try the typical Malaysian claypot squid rice or claypot shrimps noodle.Make your way to Brickfields neighborhood , or Little India, as locals call it, where you can eat at one of the many restaurants or street vendors that are all around the neighborhood.Check out Jalan Alor at Bukit Bintang and you’ll find yourself on a street full of restaurants, this is the food street of the city where locals and visitors get together to enjoy not only the fresh meals but the live music, friendly faces and good vibe as well. Just a few steps away is another famous street, but this time with heaps of bars ‘cause after a good dinner one must get a drink or two, no? Changkat Bukit Bintang or “the bar street” , is a heaven for party goer locals, tourists and expats. To satisfy everyone’s pleasure there’s a bar for all tastes, being that Irish bar, whiskey bar, night club, karaoke bar or Cuban lounge.I’ve heard from some sure sources that most places have ladies night on Wednesday’s when ladies get free drinks, but no problem gents, you can order your discounted alcoholic beverage any day of the week at late afternoon happy hour. In Kuala Lumpur, with so many skyscrapers, the rooftop bars are in trend as well, where for the price of the cocktail you get also a magnificent view over the city. The dress code is smart casual at such places usually, but the people just as friendly as everywhere else around KL. You might start your night alone, but most probably you’ll end it with a few new friends from different corners of this world.Things to see1. Petronas Twin Towers There’s no complete visit to KL without a stroll around the iconic Petronas Towers. Both at daytime and night they offer a magnificent view and the perfect background for your souvenir photo. Every evening there’s a light show going on when the water from the fountain dances to the rhythm of the music at 8, 9 and 10 pm.2. Perdana Botanical GardensApart from being a great spot for jogging or picnic, it’s picturesque art pieces will inspire you to start a photoshoting session.3. National Mosque of MalaysiaImportant building for the nation, impressive from outside and possible to visit inside as well at certain times of the day. It can hold up to 15,000 people and it’s main dome is star shaped with 18 point out of which 13 represent the 13 states of Malaysia and the remaining 5 represent the 5 pillars of Islam. 4. Islamic Arts MuseumSoutheast Asia’s largest museum of Islamic art, it’s located only 5 min walk from the mosque. 5. KL TowerAnother tall building, at its 421 m hight, it’s currently the world fifth tallest structure. It’s one of Kuala Lumpur’s iconic landmarks and offers spectacular views of the city.6. Kuala Lumpur City GalleryNot sure how popular is the gallery itself but the I love KL sign, which is just outside of the building is certainly a famous photo location. 7. Sultan Abdul Samad BuildingJust opposite the road from the Art Gallery, the impressive building is impossible to miss. It’s architecture is eye catching and it just makes the city simply beautiful. 8. Central MarketPerfect place to go for souvenir shopping or just for a casual day out. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, the venders are not pushy at all and the quality of the products seems to be good. It’s also great for a spontaneous fishspa session.9. Chinatown As a typical Chinatown: food, vendors, lots of people, bargain, cheap bags, sunnies, selfie sticks, fake D&G’s and much more.10. KL Forest Eco ParkA real treasure in the heart of the city. It’s the oldest forest reserves in the country and it’s a perfect spot for ecotourism. With its several nature trails and a forest canopy walkway, it’s an outstanding attraction which will help you get a small doze of adrenaline and a great view of the city from above the trees.Street art, temples, colorsThanks to the strong ethnic mix in the city and in the country in general, during a stroll around KL you’ll bump into many temples , either Chinese, Hindu or Buddhist.I found Kuala Lumpur very artistic in many ways. The contrast of the old and new architecture, the fancy tall buildings and the simple, small structures , the old fashioned and the trendy, they all create a diverse vibe. In some areas of the city street art is in particular impressive, making a casual walk a fun experience.With bright colors and some creative ideas, these streets near Bukit Bintang have been transformed from the ordinary into an attractive , happy environment that makes you laugh your head off even on a rainy day.To be continued…A trip that I initially booked just because of convenience – an affordable dental treatment in KL instead of a ridiculously expensive one in my current home city of Sydney – turned into another amazing travel experience that I will not forget.Although I’ve considered spending a few days out of the city, sometimes going with the flow means sticking to one place if that feels great.A week ago I landed without knowing anyone , in a few days I’m departing not only with amazing memories but also great new friends from different parts of the planet.A big shout out to the people that helped me patiently ( or not so patiently ) in taking the photos I wanted and for sharing big laughters:- Ilien and Alvin – KL- Nick and Nicki – UK- Akie – Japan- Tracy – Vietnam