Archive | June, 2012

Here We Go Again!

29 Jun

Alright so I have 1 more week until I’m off to the airport and on my way back to Southeast Asia for 3 weeks. I’ve finally managed to get all of my accommodation booked after deciding it was probably easier to have everything booked with my tight schedule and so far it is all quite exciting.

So what’s the plan? I’ll be heading to Singapore, Indonesia and Borneo- a week traveling through Java doing some work and catching up with friends, finally after 4 trips to Indonesia I’ll be going to Bali for some fun and relaxation before heading off to Malaysian Borneo to see some orangutans, explore some jungle and discover a new culture. Also I’ll have a few days in Singapore which will mostly consist of visiting a few of my favourite places and eating of course!

With a week to go you would think I would be more organised with the next week packed full of work and meetings but alas there still is a lot to do, haven’t even thought about what I’ll pack yet! Really looking forward to escaping these freezing winter mornings and getting back out there, discovering new places, seeing old friends and eating some delicious food! There will be a whole heap of new blogs on their way from updates on what I’ve been doing, destination and hotel reviews and plenty of photos!

Courts xx


Photo of the Week #15- Sunset in the Village

25 Jun

Where- Bantul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

It was a lovely day in Jogja and the city was packed with Maulid celebrations so one of my friends invited me to come out to her village with her family and friends. It was the perfect day with blue sky bringing out all of the rich colours of the beautiful landscape around us. I was taking one last photo of the gorgeous sunset when a motorbike whizzed past making for a fun photo.

What to read before going to… Indonesia

20 Jun

Title- The Year of Living Dangerously

Author- Christopher Koch

Plot- It’s 1965 and Sukarno is nearing the end of his rule in Indonesia. Poverty is rife as the economy is in decline while the nation draws closer to the communists in Peking and begins to denounce the West.  Meanwhile a group of foreign correspondents indulge in the expat life in Jakarta, following the drama and watching the country disintegrate around them.

I love this book; it’s possibly one of my favourites. When I’m at home I read it to take me back to Indonesia through its rich imagery and try to imagine what it would have been like to be in Indonesia at that turbulent point of time.  In fact I love reading about this period in Indonesian history, the drama and conspiracy of the events of the 30th September 1965 and the effect that they had on the country is just so interesting and this book is a wonderful combination of the factual historical events of that time with the complex story of Guy Hamilton in his dealings with other expats. I probably read this book at least once a year, it paints a realistic picture of Indonesia in the way it describes simple things like the scent of clove cigarettes wafting and the simple life of the becak man. A really well written novel about Indonesia.

There was also a movie made based on the book. To be honest it’s a pretty good movie, Linda Hunt playing Billy Kwan was definitely worthy of the Oscar and Mel Gibson does a good job as he did in most of his early films. Do yourself a favour however and read the book first. In fact also do some reading about the 30th September Movement and the overthrow of Sukarno. The history of Indonesia will provide a whole new insight into the country when you visit and really helps understand how Indonesia has developed into the country it is today.

Photo of the Week #14- Tomb Raider’s Ta Prohm

15 Jun

Where- Ta Prohm, Angkor, Cambodia

When I was a kid I love Lara Croft. I had all of the Tomb Raider games and was very disappointed to find out that being a tomb raider wasn’t a particularly realistic career choice in this day and age. For many years I wanted to see Angkor Wat and was most excited about the Ta Prohm temple complex. Sure the obvious Tomb Raider connection was a key draw card but the idea of an overgrown, half ruined temple was even more exciting. This place is amazing to explore especially if you manage to escape some of the crowds which flock to it. There is some work on to restore the temples but I really hope they leave them mostly as they are now as that is what is particularly enticing about them.

Gear Guide: The All Important Day Pack

13 Jun

People have very different ideas of travel. Some travel ultra light whereas others like to travel with all the trimmings and gadgets. I think I’m somewhere in the middle so the idea of this Gear Guide section is so I can share some tips and opinions I have when it comes to travel gear. Also I don’t get paid for any endorsements (although I wouldn’t say no if anyone offers 🙂 ) so any reviews I do are my own opinions.

So the day pack. Probably one of the most important things when you’re on the road (other than cash and a passport) as realistically you need something for all your gear. I love my current day pack, I tried out a fair few until I found it and now I use it for everything- travel, university, cycling, hiking, overnight trips. It’s versatile, ultra functional and bright red.

My beloved day pack and hydration bladder

Currently I’m using a 28 litre day pack which has a built in rain cover and is hydration bladder compatible. I bought it for roughly $90 but it was marked down from around $180. One of the benefits of the rain cover is added security as it clips down over the entire pack to the zipped main compartment which has several other internal zipped pockets. I don’t doubt there are people out there who could sneak into it but it definitely puts up a challenge. The colour is also really useful as it is hard to miss and stands out in a crowd. It will be a bit big for some but I generally travel with camera gear and a lot of the time my netbook so it can fit all of this my important documents and even a change of clothes for those overnight trips and long transits in airports. It’s awesome for outdoor activities with the hydration bladder in and has a padded mesh back which stops that gross sweating when hiking in tropical climates.

In my opinion a day pack is really not something to cut corners on. Make sure it fits well and is big enough to meet all of your requirements. The straps on it should be comfortable- waist and chest straps are a bonus and will make you much more comfortable on the road. A huge problem I had with one of my old day packs was it had an annoying hook on the top which would choke me when wearing it on my front with my main pack- incredibly frustrating. Also it would not hold up at all in the rain which was a pain in the wet season in Indonesia- my current one while not completely waterproof will keep my things mostly dry when I get caught out in the rain.

On a somewhat relevant note- I love June. All of the outdoor gear stores are having their sales. This morning I got $400 worth of gear (thermals, jacket, head torch, hydration bladder) for $100 at Kathmandu, these savings are ridiculous! Even the girl behind the counter was shocked by some of the prices when she was ringing up my purchase this morning. Another hot tip is a lot of the stores have membership programs which are often free to join but give you great deals and member offers.

What’s your day pack like? Any hot tips on how you choose your perfect day pack?

Putting Everything into Beautiful Perspective

9 Jun

It’s amazing how easy it is to forget how spectacular the places we live are when we spend so much time traveling. Traveling is and hopefully will still be one of my greatest passions for several years to come but when we are stuck in the more dreary cycle of work, study and every day life, the great things your home offers can be completely overlooked. This becomes even easier after seeing some of the great sights of the world- Angkor Wat, Merapi, The Colosseum, tropical beaches in Thailand, the list is endless. I would be kidding myself if I said anything in my hometown could really compete with those places but there are still some pretty amazing places.

This morning I went hiking with a couple of friends down in a National Park which is only about a 20 minute drive from my house. In no time at all we were deep in the bush with no sign that the capital city of Australia was only a short drive away. We were able to hike to 3500 year old Aboriginal rock art, see all different types of wildlife and vegetation and eat lunch sitting on a waterfall overlooking a sprawling valley. The sky was clear and blue and it was surprisingly warm for winter and it really made you realise how lucky we are here.

I will always love travel- I love exploring new places and discovering new cultures and cannot wait to be back on the road again for another adventure (27 days until I head back to Asia!) but this sort of perspective really is an amazing thing and definitely makes passing the time stuck in the daily routine much easier.

Photo of the Week #13- Path to Destruction

8 Jun

Where- Desa Kinahrejo, Yogyakarta

Desa Kinahrejo was completely destroyed in the 2010 Merapi eruption however unlike in Argomulyo, the local villagers have turned the place into a tourist attraction. The day I went up there was eerie yet an incredibly beautiful area. Freezing cold with dense cloud which lifted just enough for you to realise that one of the world’s most active volcanoes was looming over us, just a few kilometres from the summit. This road headed further up towards Merapi but had suffered a great deal of damage in the eruption. We passed several signs along it marking it as an escape route however for many of the people in this area there was no escape. An amazing place which reminds you of the power of the Earth.