Monday, June 25, 2012

A Quick Last Trip: Tasmania.


So about two month ago Megan and I discovered super cheap tickets to Tassie and knew we couldn't pass them up! It was just a long weekend trip but we definitely enjoyed ourselves!

We arrived in Hobart Tasmania Thursday morning around 11am. We rented a car, checked into our hostel, bought groceries for our lunches and headed out to explore. We had several recommendations to go to the Museum of New and Old Art so we decided we would start out there. The museum opened January 2011 and has already gained lots of popularity internationally. It is filled with tons of well, interesting art. As the guy that gave us our tickets said, "You're in for a treat...." You never really know exactly what someone means when they say that. ha.  I'm not great at taking picture in museums so I didn't really take any but here is one from the first room we walked into.  It was by far the most normal of the place.

There are over 1,600 hand colored pictures along the right wall, the pieces on the floor are piles of coal surrounded by coffee bags and along the left wall are ropes hanging which are often replaced with hanging beef carcasses (wasn't sad to miss that).  One of the other rooms we just so happened to miss was a machine that made poo. Literally is took food and went through the digestive process and then everyday at 2pm it pooped. Sick as!!!  It was definitely as modern as art can get.

That night we went to a Thai restaurant that some ladies we met recommended and then went to the State Cinema, art film theater, and watched Take This Waltz. Loved the theater!!


We woke up and headed to Port Arthur. It is a historic convict site about an hour from Hobart. It was beautiful! Not what you would expect from an old prison! We spent most of the day there touring the grounds. I am a nerd when it comes to history, so we read all the random/ interesting facts about the site. I definitely think anyone that goes to Tasmania should check it out!!

When we got to Port Arthur they gave us cards that told us a convict and we were able to go around and figure out what he had done to get time there. The room also had these chains so we couldn't resist.
 The living quarters.
Inside the old prison.

We got a little lost on our way back from Port Arthur so once we made it back to Hobart we immediately found a place to eat by the Wharf and hung out their for a bit before heading back to the hostel. 


Hobart is known for its Saturday market called Salamanca. So after a relaxing morning at our favourite little coffee shop, Ooomph, we made our way there. It was a great outdoor market with tons of music, foods to sample and random nicknacks to look at. It was easy to waste several hours walking around. 
 The Foley Artist. 
 Mt. Wellington in the background.

Around lunch time we decided to go up to the top of Mt. Wellington which is a mountain on the outskirts of Hobart. The view was awesome but definitely came at a windy, freezing price. The top was snowy and COLLLLDDD. So we quickly took picture, enjoyed the view for a second and then jumped back into our warm car. 
On the way up Mt. Wellington

We didn't have any plans for the rest of the day so we drove around and explored random areas of Hobart and ended up at a cute, local coffee shop mid-afternoon.  While there, a guy came by our table and asked our names and where we were from. As soon as we said Texas, he immediately flipped out and showed us his Texas drivers license. Tasmania is not the place you expect to meet Texans. Anyways, he ended up telling us that he was opening for Guy Sebastian that night. You possibly have no idea who that is but he is well known in Australia. Guy won Australian Idol a few years back and has a few hits out. Check out Art of Love with Jordin Sparks. So, he ended up getting us free tickets for the show that night. It was a great surprise. It probably wasn't totally my music taste but I never pass up free concert tickets. 

There is a short summary of our little trip to Tasmania. 

Now, less than two weeks until I am back in the Lonestar State! Can't wait to see y'all. 


Saturday, June 2, 2012

taste of indonesia.

This past week was a week of great food, views and memorable moments in Bali, Indonesia. I met up with five of my really good girlfriends from Australia in Denpasar, Bali. It was quite an eventful, wonderful week.

Day 1.

I left early Sunday morning which was two days after the other girls. My travels there were a full day adventure. It started at 4:30 am with a taxi ride to the Melbourne airport and ended at 9 pm in Bali. In between I had a fantastic 8 hour layover in Sydney. I spent the morning enjoying breakfast with a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then walked around the Opera House. 

I flew out of Sydney at 5 and landed in Bali around 9pm. Nina and Matt (one of Nina's friends from a past CRU Summer Project) met me at the airport and took me to the Bali Surf House where we stayed in Denpasar. The Surf House is a ministry house that is connected with Global Church. There are a group of missionaries (including Matt) that live there and do ministry on the island and help people with travel plans that come and stay at the house. It was so awesome to stay at a place with people that loved the Lord. 

Day 2. 

We woke up bright and early and got on a boat that took us to Nusa Lembongan, an island near Bali. It was the most beautiful place!! We went to the island with some of the missionaries that live at the Surf House and a group of music missionaries from Oral Roberts University. We were so blessed to be with such an awesome group of people. 
(Riding up to Nusa Lembongan)

(Our first picture on the island. R-L: Megan, Me, Katherine, Sarah(behind),Marilyn, Nina)
(villa at Mainski)

We had a relaxing morning and early afternoon soaking up the sun. After laying out for awhile, we decided to rent bikes and explore the island a bit. Matt took us to an awesome place with mangrove trees. Which are trees that grow in the middle of water. 

(We loved relaxing by the infinity pool)
(biking around Nusa Lembongan) 
(the mangrove trees and local boys singing and playing on the beach)

At the spot I enjoyed some nice, fresh coconut water and then we headed back to our villa to shower and get ready for dinner.  

We met up withe Surf House and ORU groups at a Thai Restaurant for one the of the best meals I have ever had. Katherine and I split two of my favorite thai dishes, green curry and pad thai. Being with a music group and simply just being us crazy girls a dance party broke out in the middle of the restaurant after dinner. It was a perfect first day on the island. 

Day 3.

The day started with snorkeling around the island with the ORU team. We split into three boats and took off to different snorkeling places. I enjoyed the views underwater nearly as much if not just as much as I enjoyed the views at the Great Barrier Reef. It was beautiful!!

(our awesome snorkeling boat crew also known as the dream team)

After snorkeling we found a great spot for lunch and then Nina, Megan and I decided to go on a paddle board adventure. We paddled for about 2 1/2 hours and absolutely loved it. The three of us had two paddle boards between us. One board was big enough for one person to lay down while the other person stood and paddled and the other board was for just one person to paddle. Nina, Megan and I took turns on the three different positions. We paddled a way out and then decided to lay on the boards and chat. It was super relaxing until we looked up and a boat was headed straight in our direction. I'm sure we were quite the sight to see as we scurried to move out of the way.

(We rented our paddle boards from a place along this strip of shops.)

When we got back to our villa I showered and then our new friend Kurt, one of Matt's friends from Hawaii, took me on a motorbike ride to explore more of the island. That day was full of great adventures but riding out of the touristy area and being able to see the island was probably my favorite part. I loved seeing people just living life out at their homes and seeing the beautiful countryside. 

We ended the night eating dinner with everyone again and then heading back to the villa and hanging by the pool. 

Day 4.

This was our last day on the island so I woke up early and had breakfast on the beach. I then talked Sarah into going for one more walk around the village before we had to get on the boat and go back to Denpasar. 
(breakfast view)

(loved the culture around the village)

I was actually super excited to be back in Bali since I hadn't really gotten to see it yet. It was fun spending some time at the house relaxing and getting to know the people more that stayed there. 

That night we went to Jimbaran to have a seafood dinner on the beach. It was another beautiful view and surprisingly I enjoyed my crab dinner. We had fun chatting and eating great food. We decided to go meet up with the ORU group again after we ate. They were staying in Seminyak, a nicer part of the city. At Seminyak we walked around the fancy shops and then met up with the group for a live Indonesian band. The band played Indo music, had two guys in mask come out and dance with them and then ended with some covers we all new. A great night. 

(Menega Cafe at Jimbaran Beach)

(live Indonesian entertainment at JP's Bar)

Day 5. 

Thursday was INCREDIBLE! We went to a town called Ubud which is known to be the more artisty place in Bali.  On the way, our driver stopped so Megan, Kurt and I could see a Kris and Barong Balinese Dance. It was a fun dance/ play. They gave us a paper that explained what was going on in each scene.

Once we got to Ubud, we went straight to the Monkey Temple where were able to feed and hold monkeys. It was such a good time. We bought some bananas and would hold them so that monkeys would crawl on us. I had an apple in my purse so once I ran out of bananas to feed them they were crawling all over me trying to get into my purse to steal my fruit. It was quite funny. 

( This face explains exactly how I felt when the first monkey crawled up my arm.)

Next we went to a delicious restaurant called Clear Cafe. The food and atmosphere there was so great we ended up spending 3 hours ordering more and more food and chatting about how much we loved it. 

The last couple hours in Ubud were spent  at the Ubud Art Market and another market outside of town bargaining with the people to get cheap clothes and nicknacks. It was my first time to bargain so I wasn't great at getting the prices knocked down but I walked away with two sarongs, a dress and a few other things for much less than the price they initially wanted. 

That night Megan and I went on a motorbike ride with Matt and Kurt and then the ORU team came to the house for another dance party of course. 

Day 6. 

Friday was Megan, Sarah and I's last day in Bali, but we went out with a bang. The big thing I really really wanted to do while were there was ride an elephant and we finally made it happen Friday morning. We went on a 35 minute elephant ride and then were able to feed and take pictures with them.  After a yummy buffet style lunch, we got to see the babies and a little show that the elephants put on. It was fantastic. The people at the park were so chill and awesome. They let us take our time feeding the elephants and helped us take fun pictures. I really enjoyed that they didn't hurry us or make us feel like they had other people to get to even though the park was filled with people. 

(meet Ava the Elephant I rode on)

That night we went to Uluwatu beach and had our last dinner in Indonesia. It was the perfect spot to watch the sunset and finish up our time in Bali. The three of us left the surf house super encouraged from being surrounded in prayer by the girls and friends at the house. We then flew out at 11:50 pm and made it back to Melbourne at 7am this morning. 

It was an awesome trip with tons of culture, beach views and fun adventures with great friends old and new. LOVED IT.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Great Barrier Reef. Rainforest. Koalas.

CAIRNS. [pronounced  "Cans"]

Megan and I spent the past couple of days in Cairns which is along the east coast in Queensland. It is a super fun, beach town. While there we went out to the Great Barrier Reef, explored the Rainforest and cuddled a koala. It was a trip full of some of Australia's best things.

We arrived late Tuesday night so the fun didn't begin until Wednesday morning. We left our hostel at 7:20am and headed to the boat that took us out to the reef. The tour was great!! The boat took us 50 km offshore where we stopped for our first scuba diving and snorkeling adventure. After a quick briefing of things to do and not to do while diving, they gave us our equipment and sent us off with our guides. I was PUMPED to scuba dive but little did I know that it would be the scariest moment of my life.  My goggles weren't on right so I couldn't see, I kept forgetting to breathe out of my mouth and all I could think about was how my life was controlled by a backpack full of oxygen. It was like every nightmare I have ever had of drowning coming true. So after 10 minutes of being 10m under the sea my goggles popped off and I signaled for my guide to send me up. I felt like my life made sense again when I reached the water surface! It was a good experience and I am glad I did it. Maybe one day I'll give it another try.

We had lunch after diving and then the crew took the boat further out on the reef where Megan and I spent the afternoon snorkeling. I did LOVE snorkeling!!! It was one of the most incredible things I have ever done. The fish were such bright, neon colors and the actual reef was insane. It blows my mind that it is a living organism! The reef has over 1500 species of fish living in it. So crazy. We saw honeycomb rockfish,  knobby black cucumbers, a giant clam and many other types of sea creatures.

The crew of the reef tour made the trip even better. They provided us with an Aussie BBQ for lunch and then the ride home included wine and live music.  Most everyone on the boat was from 20-30 so it was a super fun group to be with. We pulled up the marina singing Bob Marley. A great way to end the day.

 Thursday we headed out to the Rainforest. Megan and I took a skyrail over the rainforest which was wonderful. I loved how everywhere we looked we saw trees and mountains. It was so intense!

The gondola stopped at different spots where you could get off and walk through the rainforest. On one of the walks we saw the Barron Falls. It was beautiful.

And at the other stop, we saw this not so beautiful, creepy crawler. AHHH!

The last stop was at a village called Kuranda. It was such a cute place. There were tons of shops and cafes and wilderness places. We definitely took advantage of all of them. The three wilderness places were Butterfly Sanctuary, BirdWorld and Koala Gardens.  We had great experiences at each one.

Butterflies landed on us.

This pesky bird tried to steal my ponytail.

However, the best part by far was cuddling this sweet little koala named Maya. I think my life is a little better from this moment:).

Our last day there, Friday, we laid out at the free, public pool. This is probably one the best parts of the actual town, Cairns. So many people were there swimming, laying out in the sun and enjoying the fantastic day.

Although it was a short trip, I have come back much tanner and much happier. As many of my friends here have said, "Cairns is just a magical place." I would have to agree.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

farewell summer.

Sadly, the last day of summer in Australia was yesterday.To send it off the right way, I'll share some highlights from the last couple months.  So here's to the sunniest season of the year!

Australia Day:

Australia Day is January 26th. It is a day of beach time, barbecues and fireworks. We of course made sure to enjoy each one. We started the morning and stayed pretty much all afternoon at the beach. It was a great time relaxing and soaking up the sun with good friends! Later Megan and I attended our first Aussie bbq. NomNomNom. It was fantastic. Everyone brought their own meat and we shared great salads and desserts. To end the day of celebrating AUS, we made our way to the city to watch fireworks over the buildings. Who doesn't love a good fireworks show!?
(Our Red, White and Blue for Australia AND America) 

(fireworks in the city)
 The Tennis:
The Australian Open was going on the last two weeks of January. Such great fun! We went to the actual tennis courts one of the saturdays and watched some really great matches. It was also Heineken Day so the courts were filled with lots of young, fun fans. It was a perfect day to go. Since we weren't up for paying for more court tickets, we watched the last big matches at Federation Square in the city. The place was absolutely packed both nights that we went! There were tons and tons of tennis fans in Melbourne.
( at the Australian Open)

 ( enjoying the tennis at FedSquare)

 ( watching the match with thousands of our closest Melbournian friends;))

Live Music. Yes Please:
Melbourne is full of live music events! The St. Kilda Festival and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra were a couple we attended over the summer. The St. Kilda Festival was a week long festival that had tons of live bands, carnival rides, markets, food venues, etc... It was full of culture and fun! We were finally able to go the last day and very much enjoyed it! Heaps of people were walking around and there was music every which way we turned. 

 (Iuliia, Melanie, Nina and I enjoying the music)

We also experienced the performance of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at the Botanic Gardens. I absolutely loved it both nights that we went! Everyone brought blankets, had picnics, drank wine and took in the music. The first night Melanie and I went was the perfect summer night so we laid on our blanket and soaked in the night and orchestra. The next time we went it was a much larger group of us. We spent that night mainly chatting and catching up. Outdoor venues are the best.  
(our MSO group)
(free, live and outdoors: love)

The Cotter Family Visit:
Megan's family came to Australia for a couple weeks to visit. They were so sweet and invited me to join in on some of their fun adventures. Two of the big ones were driving along the Great Ocean Road and visiting the Melbourne Gaol. No one can come visit Melbourne without seeing the sights along the Great Ocean Road! It was a perfect, sunny afternoon which allowed us to see some of the places that the rain prevented on the trip before!
(the sunny Twelve Apostles)

( The Cotters minus Megan's oldest sister plus me)

The Melbourne Gaol is the oldest prison in the city. It is no longer in use so there are all sorts of tours that go on in the historical building. The tour the Cotters and I went on began with us being "arrested." I use this term lightly because they didn't even handcuff us but it was still fun. We were locked in a jail holding cell for a couple minutes so I guess that was good enough. The Gaol has all kinds of interesting stories  about past inmates to read about. There are also ghost tours you can go on so just knowing that made the trip even more exciting for me. (If you know me, you must know I love spooky stuff).
(hahahahah. Mom, hopefully you won't see this again.)

 (the bottom floor of the prison)

 Queen Victoria Night Market:

Every Wednesday night of Summer the Queen Victoria Market turned into the Night Market. I am so sad this is now over! There was food from all different countries, heaps of little shops and live bands everywhere. I tried my first crepes, calamari, Spanish donuts and honey dumplings there. Last night a group of us went and we got food from Italy, Korea, Greece, India, Mexico, China... The options were endless. It was a perfect way to spend our last night of summer.

 (walking into the chaos of the market)

(food from West Africa)
(my roomies)