Perth Diaries – An Easter Weekend Getaway

Perth Diaries – An Easter Weekend Getaway

Camping is not foreign to us and this Easter weekend of 2017 we changed our tune a little bit, while still doing much the same. On this occasion, we decided to pitch our tent in the Swan Valley region in the city of Perth, Western Australia. It was a weekend getaway that the family and I will never forget.

It was fun, entertaining and a perfect way to spend an Eater break, even if we weren’t quite escaping the hustle and bustle of the big city. We didn’t camp by a flowing river or on the sands of the beach as usual, but it didn’t spoil the moment one bit because instead we camped on the edge of a famous wine region with vineyards as our neighbours and tall city skyscrapers only minutes away.

Perth

City of the Perth at a short distance.

 

Where we stayed

We camped at the Big 4 Discovery Park in Caversham, Perth. Not much of a place as it is mainly a residential area with a few campsites. Although we were situated right next to the vineyards of the Swan Valley Region and it was pure gorgeous. Every morning we could watch the sun rise over the lush green fields and large commercial airplanes descent over the campsite to the nearby airport.

The Holiday Park, while less than fancy, still had its Villas, caravans, bathroom amenities, camp kitchen and a swimming pool, so you could keep a little luxury, while roughing it in some sorts. The stay was still to our liking and it fitted into our plans perfectly, which was for a budget stay by the city.

Easter getaway

Easter at Caversham Discovery Park.

Swan Valley

The Swan Valley, in Perth Western Australia.

 

The Best Bit

–          Whiteman Park – Whiteman Park is where we spent most our Easter Sunday and it was a perfect location for the family. It had been over ten years since my last visit to the Park and while it changed a little, the basics remained.

Only a 15-minute drive from the city, Whiteman Park is beautifully located in the Western Australian bushland. The Park, which is free to enter, comes with a boutique wildlife park, a little on the expensive side, but it is a great way to see and get up close to the famous Australian wildlife.

Whiteman Park also has an Open Park area, which is perfect for a picnic or to play a little football. You can take a tram around the large spacious parklands, explore the Antique Car and tractor Museum, stroll the village that comes with a range of Souvenirs stores and hike the many trails that are located in the bushlands of the park.

Easter Getaway

The Kangaroos of Caversham Wildlife Park in Whiteman Park.

Whiteman Park

The open areas of Whiteman Park.

tram

The tram

Highlights of the trip

–          Discovering Elizabeth Quay and the Perth CBD –

I have seen the Perth CBD many times and each time it seems to get bigger and better. The New Elizabeth Quay, which is a stone throw from the city and on the banks of the picturesque Swan River is a must. Stroll the stunning quay, enjoy coffee and lunch at the nearby restaurants, take gorgeous photos of the city and a hot day the kids can run amuck in the water park.

Once you’re done at the Quay, take the two-minute walk in the city, check out little London, which is a fantastic little alley way with antique shops and a café, before entering the busy walking streets of Perth City.

Once you are in the retail area of the CBD you can shop till you drop, enjoy street entertainment and have an affordable feed at several different budgeted locations. It is not quite Sydney or Melbourne but it’s still a great little city that offers plenty for every kind of traveller.

Elizabeth Quay

View of Perth from Elizabeth Quay.

Little london

Little London in the CBD is always popular for tourist.

CBD Perth

Take the bus around the CBD.

 

–          Watching Soccer at NIB Stadium –

Living a couple of hours from the city, we can’t always watch our local A- League team live in person. On this occasion, myself and the boys made our way to NIB stadium to watch our Perth Glory take on Melbourne City. A great night out and even better with 5-4 score line and a win for the good guys.

Josh Risdon

Perth Glory champ Josh Risdon is always good with the fans.

 

 

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Bali Diaries – Day 4-6: Ubud Edition

Bali Diaries – Day 4-6: Ubud Edition

The second and last leg of my Solo Bali trip. Too short for any holiday in Bali. This time it was off to Ubud all the way from beaches of Tanjung Benoa. An area of Bali I had heard so much about but never been to before. Thankfully on this occasion, I had decided to put on the list, because Ubud was everything I hoped and much more.

Ubud

The town on Ubud an a wet day.

 

Best bit of the trip

Balinese Dance – The best $7.50 I spent on Bali this trip. A traditional and cultural Balinese dance called the Legong and Barong Dance. A series of different events and fantastic local music and a great performance.

It starts with lovely welcome dance by the beautiful Balinese women (very pretty indeed), to an epic and somewhat creepy warrior dance. It leads to a great finale with Barong Dance, that is about a warrior whose occupation is a hunter, with misfortunate and comical events. While there are many different traditional dances in Ubud, make sure you get to at least one, because you will be satisfied you did.

Ubud

Beautiful Balinese dancers at the Legong and Barong Dance.

 

Where I stayed

Alaya Resort – The wonderful Alaya Resort, very Boutique and stunning amongst the pretty landscapes of a wonderful resort. Especially the Manisan Restaurant that is in the middle of the lush rice fields.

Once you get off the busy streets of Ubud and into the lobby, it turns into luxury. From the stunning Indonesian designed deluxe rooms, to the beautiful gardens and glamorous swimming pools. The stay was perfect and keep at look out for the Alaya Resort if ever in the area.

Ubud

Relax or swim. The choice is yours at Alaya Resort.

Alaya Resort

Take the path to the Manisan Restaurant.

 

Highlights

–          Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary – A short stay is a good stay at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary and for $5 it is worth the entry price. The monkeys are well and truly alive, inside and outside the enclosure, fighting amongst themselves, scrambling for food and even jumping all over their guest. That’s right us humans.

It will only take about an hour to walk through the forest as monkeys are running amuck and doing their thing. If you buy a few bananas, they well be jumping on your shoulders too. Try not to panic and force them off you, they may decide to take a bite at you. But in general, it is a safe little forest. Enjoy it.

Ubud

The Monkey forest is well and truly alive.

 

–          Walking the town centre – Ubud is a lively little town centre, especially for a town so far from the coast. Boutique market stalls, jewellery stalls, plenty of restaurants. café’s and plenty of massage parlours. It’s even great to wander the town and see the temples and great sculptures that represents the main religion in Bali. A very pretty town, no doubt.

The most memorable part of my time in Ubud was meeting local man Wadi. A local barrister who runs a small coffee shop, The Monkey Cave. It was great to have a chat and the cappuccino was superb. You can find this little coffee box a stone throw from the Monkey forest.

Ubud

Meet Wadi at the Monkey Cave.

Ubud

Take a stroll through the Ubud Markets

 

Bali Diaries – Days 1-3 – Tanjung Benoa

Bali Diaries – Days 1-3 – Tanjung Benoa

Back to Bali and how stoked I was to be here and see new places in this great part of Indonesia. First up, I went to Tanjung Benoa, I had no idea what to expect, albeit that it was near a popular beach. Therefore, how bad could it be? Not bad at all I say. In fact, it’s excellent.

Tanjung Benoa

Escape to the beach and see a beautiful sunrise.

The best bit

Parasailing Tunjong Benoa – A first for me and I loved every moment of it. Getting persuaded by the friendly salesman to take the plunge and before I knew I was on the boat. Getting hoisted in the air with nothing but a rope attached to a boat and a parasail to keep me hoisted.

I get that it may not mean a lot to the extreme enthusiast out there. But for me, not so long ago, being at height was not my forte. Forget fear, the view on top of the ocean overlooking Tanjung Benoa and the bay was pure gorgeous. I didn’t want to come down.

Parasailing

Getting high in the blue sky.

Tanjung Benoa

Let’s go parasailing

Where I stayed

The Sakala Resort – A luxury 5-star resort, The Sakala is an ideal resort for your stay in Tajung Benoa. The resort’s main features are its spacious rooms with stunning views, swimming pools and great dining – including The Sakala restaurant that is situated by the beach.

The Sakala Resort

The Sakala Resort.

The Highlights

– Jet skiing – Just like the parasailing was a first for me, I felt the need to add another first, Jet Skiing. A little bit more pulsating, for the sheer fact the beach was so crowed. The hairs stood up on my neck.

Even though there was an experience instructor with me, didn’t ease the nerves, until I reached the open blue waters of the bay and it was just me and the ocean. The throttle went full ball and the ski glided over the water at pace.

Jet skiing the Bay

Jet Skiing the Bay.

Jet ski

Getting a little Jet ski action

– Exploring the streets of Tanjung Benoa – It may not have the hustle and bustle of some of the busy areas in Bali. Until you are on the beach that is. Tanjung Benoa has a great lively street and from section to section, you will see great boutique market stalls, restaurants and bars and plenty of massage parlours at a real cheap price. It even has a Starbucks.

Make sure you enjoy and take in the streets of Tanjung Benoa and say “hello” to the locals, hey are quite friendly. And when you get asked constantly for a taxi ride, a polite “no” will suffice.

Tanjung Benoa

Say Hi to the locals.

Check out what they say about Tanjung Benoa on TripAdvisor.

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Vietnam Diaries: Days 13-14 – The Conclusion

Vietnam Diaries: Days 13-14 – The Conclusion

It has come to an end, the conclusion to my first Vietnam trip. An exhaustive, crazy and stressful trip all rolled into one. At the end of the day it was a fulfilling trip that will stick in my memory bank and for the right reasons.

Vietnam, at least the Southern part was interesting to say the least. The hustle and bustle, the chaos, the shoving, the pushing and then try crossing a bloody road. Good luck with that. When I speak of such scenes naturally I’m referring to Ho Chi Minh City.

Did I enjoy Vietnam? Yes of course. I always make the most out of my adventures. Perhaps not my favorite travel destination, however it is still a destination I’m glad I visited and there is still so much more of this great country I want to see in time.

Let’s get into the highlights of day 13-14. The conclusion of Ho chi Minh City.

Bitexco Financial Building

The Conclusion: The last look at Ho Chi Minh City.

Best bit

Bitexco Financial Building

As soon as you get off the express elevator to the 49th floor of the Bitexco Financial Building, you are struck with the mesmerising view of Ho Chi Minh City, as far as the eye can see. I was fortunate enough to go on a clear day, without a cloud in sight as I  circled the 49h floor on several occasions, getting a 360 view of an amazing city full of life, colour and chaos.

The city may have a bit of work to do, but it’s on the rise and rapidly. For the cost of about $12AUD, you can see the work in progress from above. A must see.

Bitexco Financial Building

View from the Bitexco Financial Building

 

Bitexco Financial Building

Bitexco Financial Building

 

Highlights of day 13-14

Last day means getting is as much as possible and to get in any attraction that I have not seen in Ho Chi Minh City.

Pearl Plaza

Pearl Plaza in the Binh Thanh District is great to spend a couple of hours away from the heat. Not the largest centre in the city but it’s pretty and boutique. Plenty of great shopping with brand outlet shops, a supermarket, amazing food court and cinemas. Luxury apartments are situated above the centre.

Pearl Plaza

Pearl Plaza in the distance

The next locations I speak are all within an ear shot of each other and is great way to spend a day out in the city.

Saigon Centre

The best shopping mall in Saigon. The centre is full of fabulous retail brand stores, café’s and a top-class cinema. Amazing in its interior design, with a fantastic modern touch, The Saigon Centre is a must see whether you are in the mood for a bit of retail therapy or not.

The Saigon Centre food court is the best I have ever seen. In fact, you probably couldn’t call it a food court, it’s a level full of top class restaurants that has cuisines form all over the world, Japan, Korean, America, you name it. Get there and dine in style, but be prepared to pay a little more for your food than usual.

Saigon Centre

Inside the amazing Saigon Centre.

Opera House

The Opera House is another French pioneered building, which like other buildings in Saigon is simply beautiful. Built in 1897, at a similar time to the Cathedral and the old Post office. The opera house is certainly worth your time if passing by the area. Especially if you are into lovely architectured buildings.

Saigon

Saigon Opera House

 

Nguyen Hue Walking street

Named after an emperor of the late 1700’s, The Nguyen Hue walking street is epic in its colour and design, and a great way to walk in freedom away from the nearby traffic. Unfortunately for me most of the strip was closed due to preparations for the Tet New Year. That was only bad luck for me, but put it on your list if in Ho Chi Minh City.

Nguyen Hue Street

Nguyen Hue Street

 

Ben Thanh Street Food Market

Time to doge bikes and other commuters again. The street markets which is close by to the Bitexco Financial Building, is stacked with food stalls, fresh produce and seafood. It is a crazy atmosphere but worth your time to see the locals at work. It’s great if you want a feed at a ridiculously low price.

Already for the Tet new year.

That’s a wrap the conclusion to my Vietnam Diaries. It was a unique trip but one I am glad I did to witness a different city and different cultures. It is why I live for travelling.

For a detailed reaction on I what my feelings were towards the country can be read in the I didn’t fall in love with you Vietnam, but I like you a lot.

Vietnam Diaries: Days 10 – 12 – Tunnels, Rooftop Bars and Relaxation

Vietnam Diaries: Days 10 – 12 – Tunnels, Rooftop Bars and Relaxation

A return to Ho Chi Minh City after a few beautiful days in cooler Dalat. The excitement well and truly kicked off again, with tunnels, rooftop bars and a little bit relaxation the priority. It’s Vietnam Diaries days 10-12 as the trip is slowly starting to wind down.

 

Ho Chi Minh City at its very best.

Best bit

 Cu chi tunnel

A tour group to the Cu-chi Tunnels and another brief education into the fascinating history lesson of Vietnam and how they battled and survived in the war. If you are ever in Ho Chi Minh City, do yourself a favor book a spot on the tour bus and head to Cu-Chi Tunnels. While the time at the tunnels is short, you will leave with a lasting memory.

Through the tunnels we go at Cu Chi tunnels.

The Viet Cong were smart and very strategic in war, to learn about their underground system was astounding. Three levels of tunnels that ran for hundreds of kilometres with three different levels, the lowest level being a good 8-10 metres deep below the surface.

It gets quite cluster phobic in the dark tunnels.

A hard slog through the tunnels.

The Vietnamese set some gruesome traps too, set up to capture and kill enemy soldiers. While clever little traps, it was hard to ponder at those traps with imaging the terrible pain it would have caused the young soldiers. But that was cruel fate of any war.

The traps of Vietnam War.

Highlights of days 10 -12

I am Vietnam hotel and Rooftop Bar

Sad to say this was my first time visiting a Rooftop bar in Vietnam and I had been missing out in a big way. Gorgeous night time views of Ho Chi Minh City with the city looking spectacular under lights. The occasion was even better with a cocktail in hand as you enjoy the great views and romantic setting with the love of your life.

 

A rooftop bar are a smash in Vietnam.


New Airbnb apartment

A return to Ho Chi Minh City and our 3rd Apartment for the trip. For the second time, we used airbnb and it was the best of the lot. An apartment with spacious rooms, large beds, small kitchen, good shower, daily housekeeping and a free laundry service.  No complaints all round, as this time we were in the lively Binh Thanh District.

Our latest Airbnb apartment.

Binh Quoi Tourist village

A short 20-minute walk from our apartment is the tourist village. My kind of place to chill and relax and feel like you are staying in a tropical resort. Lots of palm trees, quiet drinking area overlooking the lake, swimming pool and a care free walk in Paradise. A visit to the Tourist Village is highly recommended, especially if you are after a little relaxation in style.

Tourist village looking good for relaxation.

The Lily Pads of the Tourist Village.

Emperor Jade Pagoda

One of those if you’re in the area, come for a visit.  Nice temple (they all are), built by the Chinese community in 1909. It is hidden off the main street as walked past it trying to find and I know I am not the only one. Come for a photo or two if in Mai Thi Luu street of district one and perhaps stop for a prayer for good health.

Emperor jade Pagoda

Read about the Previous diaries by clicking on the link Days 8-9

Vietnam Diaries: Days 8-9 – Exploring in and around Dalat

Vietnam Diaries: Days 8-9 – Exploring in and around Dalat

Exploring around Dalat and seeing as much as possible in my short time in this beautiful town was high on the priority list for the last days. With only four full days in the area seeing everything was always going to be impossible. So come days 8 and 9, it was full throttle as we rushed around to as many locations in and around Dalat as possible.

Prenn Waterfall

A word or two on Dalat before I wrap up my diaries in this amazing city. If you are ever in Vietnam, be sure to put Dalat on the list. It’s a great city full of amazing landscapes, water features and buildings. For me four days is certainly not enough but heck I will take it and I am certainly glad I visited.

Now to the highlights of days 8 and 9 of Vietnam Diaries.

Linh Phuoc Pagoda

Best Bits of the day

Day 8 – Dalat star – A village made of clay, Dalat Star is about 20-minutes from the city centre. To wander through the maze of sculptures and housing is a sight to behold.  A good hour is all that you will spend but you will be glad you made the trip through windy roads as it is truly unique design and artwork put into this truly remarkable place will leave a lasting effect.

Dalat Star


Day 9 – The crazy house – The architecture around the Crazy House is fascinating. Designed by one lady who took 14-years to design what can only be called a masterpiece and the end result is nothing short of sensational. The initial thought before coming to the crazy house if you haven’t seen any pictures prior is, it’s just a hotel. Upon arriving you realise any such thoughts are plain crazy (pardon the pun). While an hour is all you need and perhaps a coffee in the café, you will be caught stunned at this crazy and quirky hotel.

The Crazy House, Dalat

Climbing up the steps and reaching great heights as you go through skinny obstacles and dodge other tourists. Each structure is different and quite odd. You couldn’t even give a name to any of sculptures that you are starring at, except for the fact that it would be perfect for a Halloween party. I guess that’s why the Crazy House was named the top 3 most unique hotels in the world and here it is in the middle of Vietnam.

 Chasing the Waterfalls

Dalat has a lot of waterfalls, I did not have time to visit them all as some are a bit of a drive away. A couple of waterfalls to visit that I didn’t see are the Pongour and Datanla Waterfalls. Let’s discuss the falls I did see.

Elephant Waterfall – Driving through incredible terrain to get to this waterfall, about forty-five-minutes South West of Dalat town centre. The Elephant Waterfall, which got its name from a rock resembling an elephant, will truly amaze you as the fresh water flows freely creating a picturesque view that your camera will appreciate.

Elephant Waterfall

Once you enter after you drive through the Nam Ban Village, pay a small fee and from the carpark it is a short hike through slippery terrain (wear good footing). From there you will get all sorts of angles and views of the fall.

 

Elephant Waterfall

Elephant Waterfall is one of the many waterfalls in and around Dalat.

Prenn Waterfall – Unlike the Elephant Water, the attraction here is much more than a waterfall, which is fabulous in itself. While most of the attention will be on the falls and the unbelievable path that will take you directly under the fall as you feel splashes of water rain onto you.

Prenn Waterfall

There is plenty of other activities to do at Prenn. Take a brisk walk through some gardens, amusements for the kids and a cable car over the falls. Also available is the unethical elephant and ostrich riding, at an extra cost, but I never choose to participate, it never seems right especially seeing the elephants in chains and all for human pleasure.

Prenn Waterfall



Highlights of Days 8 and 9

Linh Phuoc Pagoda – Not too far from the city-centre, too long to walk but a short taxi ride. Linh Phuoc Pagoda is a must visit, especially since it is free of charge. The Pagoda, a Buddhist temple, made from broken glass and smashed up pottery, is brilliantly designed and a treat to gaze upon. Go inside one the man temple halls, have prayer and spend a minute wondering if monks praying are real or not. Or perhaps that is just me.

Linh Phuoc Pagoda


Weasel Coffee Plantation –  The story of the Weasel coffee beans is made is fascinating story. The Weasel eats the coffee bean, it goes through their system undigested, with the acid from the stomach giving it its distinct flavour. So yes, the coffee beans come from the droppings of a weasel.

Weasel Coffee Plantation

It may sound disgusting but for coffee lovers this place is a must visit. You can see the process happening the coffee beans drying out and the weasels having a nap. Of course, there is the taste tasting it cost a small fee and I have got to be honest with you as a mad coffee fan, I loved it.

 

The coffee beans before the Weasels get to them.

Cricket farm – A bit of honesty here, unless you are visiting this place as part of a tour, which you usually are if visiting the Elephant Waterfall. There is not much to see here unless you love seeing cricket’s bounce around in a dark room or perhaps have a snack on a crispy dried cricket. Otherwise, move right on. There is plenty more to do around Dalat.

That’s a lot of crickets.

At the Crazy House.

Read days 7 diaries in Vietnam right here and see plenty more around Dalat.

Read about Vietnam Diaries days 10 -12 right here.