Monday, February 23, 2015

Bali By the Beach

Well we're down in Legian now and after being here for a couple of days were glad we spent that time in Ubud because this but is just tons of Australians and is really quite tacky. Of course there are parts of Bali that are beautiful, but Legion is not really one of them. 

But first here are the photos from Ubud that I said I would post. Just so you know if there isn't much consistency in size or anything I don't really know how to control it on the app (which is what I'm using) but I think you'll all forgive me for that. 







Now back to Legian. It's grown on me some more and we watched a gorgeous sunrise the other night which was a lot of fun. I got some fantastic photos on my camera, but again, I won't have access to those until I get back. So until then here are some less impressive photos from my phone. 



During the day we found this little snack right on the beach and ordered some Indonesian food and while it took a long time it was really tasty and we got to eat it in the shade right by the ocean, so definitely  couldn't complain too much. 

For dinner we went back to our guy in the shack but he was closed and we were really upset but we kept walking and found some great street food. Here I made a few mistakes. This guy was selling a rice, chicken, noodley dish in a paper cone that looked tasty so I ordered one (only $1) and he asked if I wanted chili sauce with it. After a moment of thinking I just said "yeah sure go on then a bit please" so he did. Mistake number one. Then after that, without tasting it first, I started mixing the chili sauce in with everything. That was mistake number two because I had no idea how spicy this was going to be. Now I love spicy food and I think I have a fairly high tolerance for it, but this thing nearly blew my head off. 

If you're into Indian and know what a vindaloo is, it's spicier than that. By the end my eyes were watering, my nose was running and my mouth was on fire and it was rough let me tell you. It was delicious but I think maybe the next time I would opt to leave that chili sauce off. 

We then went somewhere and ordered a dish called gado gado, which is a very traditional Indonesian dish. It's basically a variety of mixed vegetables sautéed in a peanut sauce and I really enjoyed it, now that I would certainly get again and it didn't blow my head off, which was nice. 

Now today we flew to Banyuwangani (pronounced ban-oo-wahn-gah-nee) and the plan was to go and see the top of this volcano called Mount Ijen which looked absolutely amazing and has this giant really acidic sulfur lake on top, however we discovered after getting there what we read about the volcano was wrong. It turns out it was about an hour and a half of driving there and then 2 additional hours of walking. Since we were there for only the day we ended up not having enough time for it which was a bit of bummer, but it still turned out to be a really nice day. 

We were being driven around by these two local guys, one owns this gorgeous homestay, and they drove us for hours through the mountains where we saw these incredible terraced rice paddies cut into the side of the mountains, then we saw a coffee plantation, watched some people making red sugar from scratch and ended the day having some coffee on the patio of his homestay place that looks like a temple. Here are some photos from the day. 




It's been a lot of fun and although it wasn't what we were expecting it was still a great day and it was cool to be taken around with locals who told us lots of cool facts, like how most people in Indonesia speak two languages: Indonesian and then their local language, such as Balinese. Plus it's not everyday that you get to see rural Indonesia. 

Tomorrow we head to Jakarta and I'm looking forward to that and it'll be nice to be back in a proper city. I've had a really good time in Bali and who knows, maybe we'll come back and when we do we'll plan accordingly to walk Mount Ijen. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bali

Well we've been in Bali now for two days and I have never seen so much rain at once. It's currently the rainy season, which I knew, but it comes in these ridiculous waves of insanely heavy rain. We were out today and when we came back we discovered the wind from the rain storm had blew our door to our hut open. With the lock on. But I'll come back to that. 

So yesterday we decided we would go to the Sacred Monkey Forest, which is close to the center of Ubud. Well it started storming around 11am so we decided to wait but it eventually stopped so we thought this will be a great time to go. It wasn't. Halfway there it started pouring so hard it was turning the streets quite literally into rivers. After waiting for about 30 minutes under the roof of the information desk we decided there was no point and we'd walk back to the center of Ubud instead despite the rain. 

We didn't get far before we decided this was a horrible idea because we were soaked so we stopped and went into this little cafe where we got some delicious coffee while we dried off, followed by some chicken satay and juice (watermelon for me). The view from this cafe was really cool, just a huge field of rice paddies. Unfortunately, most of the photos I've taken have been on my camera so I won't have access to them to put them online until I get back, but then I'll share some photos from the things we've seen! 

After that the rain finally let up we decided to go back to the Monkey Forest and I'm so glad we did because we saw lots of temples and monkeys and it was really fun. However, after a while trying to walk to the center of Ubud we made (probably several) wrong turns and ended up somewhere totally different with not a clue where we were. Eventually we gave up and got a taxi back to where we're staying. It was a good day though. 

We had Indian food for dinner (I know, but it was next door), and had a lovely view of the valley and the volcano, which is called the holy mountain. 

Today, we had a leisurely morning by the pool and then wandered down the street to have some food at this local-looking place and was really tasty. We then walked down to where there's this walk up on a ridge with amazing views. I do have some great photos on my phone but this wifi isn't the fastest so I won't put them up now but if I have better wifi tomorrow in the hotel down by the beach I'll try then. While walking back this huge storm started (the one that blew our door open), the temperature plummeted, the wind picked up insanely and crap started flying everywhere. I took a picture just after a piece of a palm tree flew off and across the sky. And then the pouring began, we got pretty wet but it was still quite fun and it was definitely worth it. 

Tonight we had some authentic Indonesian food and I had some mie goreng, which is fried noodles with chicken and a fried egg. It tastes much better than it sounds and it was quite a satisfying dinner so it was a good end to the day. 

Tomorrow we head down to Legian (the beach) so I'm looking forward to that and hopefully down there I can upload some photos, but I have a few on my Facebook. 

While finishing this post a chicken started running around on our porch and then ran into our window. I'll end with that. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Heading Off To Asia!

We leave for our Asia trip and I am beyond excited. We've just packed and I feel much better knowing everything fits. Even though we travel a lot we've never really been gone this long before in one go so it was quite a bit different. Especially with my new camera and everything it means I've just got more things I want to bring. However, everything fit without too much of a problem so I'm pretty happy.

The other day we went to Ikea (because we love Ikea) and I got some of their travel sized bottles before my old ones were just disgusting, so it's nice to be starting the trip with some new, clean ones. Plus they fit in my liquids bag a bit better than the old ones so there's that. While at Ikea we had some free coffee (which you get by being an Ikea Family Member and we (I) got some of their cinnamon buns which I absolutely love. It was a very successful and fun day.

Our flight leaves tomorrow at 4:45pm so it'll be a leisurely and calm day which will be nice. Our first stop is Bali and since we're there for 5 nights we'll be breaking it up in two places. We're staying at this one awesome place up in the mountains in Ubud where there's the Monkey Forest and this monkey temple in the monkey forest. The grounds of the hotel have monkeys wandering around and I'm really excited for it. Then we'll be doing two nights down by the beach before heading out to Jakarta.

Jakarta's been having some flooding (some is a bit of an understatement) so hopefully that won't happen when we're there and things will generally be back to normal. If not though I'll get some good photos!

We're only in Jakarta for a couple of nights and then we're off to Kuala Lumpur-- I can't wait. I've been wanting to go to Kuala Lumpur for quite some time and we'll be staying at this cool place with a nice-looking rooftop view with a view of some high rise buildings. And palm trees. We'll be in Kuala Lumpur for a few days and then we'll be taking the train to Singapore. I'm really excited for the train because I love trains and the views should be really cool and I've not taken a real train in this part of the world before.

We've used points for our hotel in Singapore, which is actually over the border in Malaysia, but it's so cheap to get into Singapore that it's worth it. Plus the place looks amazing and I can't wait. I'll definitely be posting photos.

Then from Singapore, where we'll be for a few more days, we'll fly to Bali and stay the night, have the day and then fly back to Melbourne that night. The flight back is a redeye (a bad redeye, short and arriving early) and we arrive back in Melbourne on March 6.

It'll be a long trip but exciting and I can't wait. I'll have my phone and my iPad so when connected to wifi I'll probably be able to post a couple of times while I'm gone.

Unfortunately, there are no koalas where we're going. That's ok, though, I've been wanting to go to some of these places for a while so it's exciting to finally be able to. Let the travels begin!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Well, it's over now, but I hope you all had a wonderful day. I certainly did. We didn't do anything super exciting, but ordered some delicious Nepalese food. We really wanted Chinese from this restaurant we really like, but it turns out they've closed down to re-do it and are going to open as something a little different. It was pretty disappointing but I was really pleased with my Nepalese. I had a whole crab glazed in curry sauce and it was absolutely delicious.

Now, I'm from Maryland. I know how to eat a crab. I mean, please, there's a crab on my drivers license. But eating a crab with a bunch of sauce on it when you can't make out what part is what (nor can you use your hands) it starts to get difficult. Needless to say, I struggled a bit I'm ashamed to say. I probably didn't get as much meat as I probably could have, but it was still delicious and I was glad I ordered it. Michael was narrating me as I was eating like a National Geographic documentary about how the "predator cuts into its prey to suck out it's juices."

Classy I know

Regardless of the struggles I had, and Michael's fascination with me "tearing it apart" I was happy, even though it was no Chinese food. We then watched an episode of Hustle, a British show about a con team, which we really like. It was a good day!

Yesterday I was also at the op shop and had a great time (as usual). I ended up buying a cupcake tray using my voucher (which I still have), it was only $1.50 and was definitely worth it and we were just talking about how we wanted one. It was a pretty uneventful day but we did get an amusing donation. Someone donated two Qantas glasses, meaning they stole them from the lounge or the plane. Now I won't judge because I've done it too. I have silverware from various airlines such as KLM, BA, and Air France and a KLM glass somewhere as well, but it did give me a good laugh and also glad to know I'm not the only one. (I mean, really though, I can't be.)

If you can see it says Qantas on the bottom
bit of the glass

Then today I didn't do much but I spent quite a long time baking a cake and I have to say I think it came out pretty well. It's just a normal yellow cake with regular frosting but it was really nice and a nice change from the chocolate/coffee cake I've been making (and all the cookies I've been making as well).


I didn't need much frosting, it was only
a small cake

However, I was really stupid because I was impatient and just wanted to eat it so I tried to frost my cake before it was fully cooled down... that was a really dumb idea. Obviously the frosting had butter in it so when it came in contact with a warm-ish thing it melted. It definitely wasn't pretty (which is why it isn't pictured) but it's still really tasty and I'd use the recipe again. I just would wait to frost it like normal, patient people do.

Also today I discovered something exciting. Over the summer Michael and I watched 2014 Eurovision on YouTube and I really liked Sweden's song by Sanna Nielsen but I couldn't get it on iTunes or Spotify so I was pretty sad. I've checked a few times but it's never been on, but today I just looked randomly and it was there. It was so exciting. If you're interested this is it, I think it's pretty great. She came in third and while I have to say Conchita Wurst was pretty great I kind of wanted her to win. But whenever I need a good laugh, I watch Poland's song because it's hilarious and absurd. Just watch that butter churning and clothes washing and tell me you're not cracking up. About two minutes in it changes into English.

That's been my exciting couple of days but we leave for our Asia trip in 3 days and 19 hours so I'm really looking forward to it! Soon!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wildlife and Sunsets

It's been a pretty good few days, it's been warm but really nice out. The other day I walked up to Albert Park and took some photos of the animals and the lake/skyline. It's basically just ducks and black swans but it was still a lot of fun, except for the swans honestly looked liked they were planning my murder.

Let me just say I don't like big birds. And that excludes actual big bird from Sesame Street-- he's alright. But geese, swans or anything of the sort totally freak me out. When I was younger I was chased by a goose and it traumatized me and I never got over it so now whenever I look at a bird it's like PTSD. First when I arrived they were all minding their own business so I was fine with that but was still keeping my distance. So then I decided to have a seat on the grass in the shade under a tree and glance over to see this huge black swan basically stalking me like prey.

Coming at me

Needless to say I got up very quickly and started backing away, I think then it kind of lost interest, but still. So then I moved on and started walking further around the lake and was having a perfectly nice time until I came across the swan with this look in its eye like it was planning my murder.

Evil eye

I mean just look at that thing. I'm sorry, but no animal should have red eyes that look like Satan itself. Then the bird just kind of hung out on the edge of the water staring at me for quite some time.

"Oh, hello lunch." 

Even though these swans are creepy I have to admit the camera took some pretty great photos. It was a bit hazy out but it took some nice photos of the skyline and the lake as well.

Quite nice 

Overall I had a nice time at the park, despite the scary swans. I saw lots of ducks and little birds and it wasn't totally crowded so it was a nice way to spend my afternoon. Then that night we did something super exciting.

If you remember before we were debating going to Philip Island which has the penguins. Well, we discovered that there's actually a little penguin colony that lives by St. Kilda Pier (in other words about 10 minutes walking from the apartment). We decided that night we were going to go see the penguins. The penguins come back from the ocean just after sunset so while waiting we had some pretty wonderful views of the sunset (thanks camera).

St Kilda Pier 

The sun dipping below the ocean

Sun setting

While waiting we saw this one little penguin who apparently came back before all of the other ones and he (or she) was so incredibly cute. It just hopped out of the water and onto the rocks of the breakwater barrier (between the ocean and the bay) and was flapping its wings and everything.

The little penguin

These penguins are called the Little Penguin and they're the smallest of all penguins and they have a blueish back, which you can't see too well in that photo because of the light and because the penguin is still wet. They're real cute though and really tiny.

As it turned out we were waiting for the penguins on the wrong side of the barrier. We though, logically, they're coming from the ocean so they'll come from the ocean side, but instead they come around under the hollow pier and then up the barrier on the bay side. Because of that we ended up not being able to watch the penguins from the best seats in the house because at that point it was already packed. We didn't feel too bad about it though because we saw our little guy above and since we live so close we can just go back whenever, and now we know where they'll be.

It was a lot of fun and I can't wait to go back and see some more, but I'll bring a heavier jacket the next time because as soon as the sun sets it gets pretty cold out on the water and my cardigan wasn't really sufficient enough.

Then yesterday we spent the day in the CBD walking around and at Ikea. I bought two scented candles at Ikea and I'm pretty excited by them both-- coconut and vanilla. I haven't lit the vanilla yet but the coconut smells pretty nice. The spiced mulberry candle I bought before Christmas is almost burned down now (not to mention it's not seasonal anymore). We ended the day with a pizza from Dominos, which was delicious.

We ordered some stuff from the Iconic (that store we had the voucher from ING for) with the remaining bit of voucher and it was supposed to come today but it didn't, so we don't really know where it is or what happened to it. They gave us a $10 voucher for it being late, but I don't really want another voucher I just want the stuff I ordered. Especially now that we've used the rest of the money $10 is kind of useless because under $50 you have to pay shipping and at that point you're barely even saving anything. Hopefully it will come tomorrow though.

I'm getting really excited (again) for our Asia trip which we leave for in a week and one day. Woo! It came around much quicker than I expected it too, it seems like just yesterday we were beginning to look into it but at this point it's been a couple of months. This next week we'll just need to be making a list of anything we need travel-size wise to get before we go.

I'm not sure what we'll be doing tomorrow-- maybe tomorrow we'll go see the penguins. Who knows. Now that I know they're there I'm going to want to go almost night.

To end this post since I haven't spoken about koalas in a while, here's a photo of a koala from the National Geographic documentary I watched. He was the baby koala who, after a year, left his mother to "explore the world" and was incredibly cute doing so.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Fun Facts About Australia

Today I found an article listing many fun facts about Australia, some terrifying and others absolutely hilarious. Of them all, I have a few favorites that I will share with you.

1. The largest cattle station in Australia (and also the world) is Anna Creek Station, at 24,000 square kilometers... that's bigger than Israel!

2. If Australia's biggest electoral district, Durack, were a country it would be the 19th largest. It's bigger than France, Spain and Germany combined.

3. Australia has 10,685 beaches, meaning you could visit a new beach every single day for over 29 years. I thought this one was awesome, even though it's totally impractical.

4. Get ready for some craziness guys. In 2013, a feral pig stole 18 beers from campers, got drunk and started a fight with a cow. Yup. True story.

5. In 1979 the Skylab space station crashed near Esperance in Western Australia and guess what their response was? The town council issued NASA a $400 fine for littering! NASA never paid it, can't imagine why.

6. The children's show Peppa Pig aired an episode about how spiders shouldn't be feared and they should be your friend. Australia deemed this unsuitable for broadcast because here spiders should be very very feared.

7. I find this one rather comforting. Although Australia has some of the world's most venomous spiders, there hasn't actually been a spider-related death since 1979.

8. This one is my personal favorite. There is a place in Western Australia where space is closer than the nearest town. Yes, space. The place is Carnegie Station, at the start of Gunbarrel Highway, and the nearest town is Warburton, 493 kilometers away.

Now here are some additional facts about things that terrified me.

9. There is a tree in Far North Queensland that stings. It feels "like being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time" and "is ten times worse than anything else." The pain can last up to several months, and apparently an officer shot himself to escape the unbearable pain of the sting... I am going to be staying far, far, far away from Far North Queensland.

10. There are bugs here in Australia as big as a human hand called tree lobsters because they have hard exoskeletons.
Thanks Google for that terrifying image

11. Lastly, the box jellyfish, which can be found in quite a few places throughout the world but primarily on Australia's east coast, can cause cardiovascular collapse and death within a few minutes with its sting. How's that for terrifying? 

Hope you enjoyed these fun facts about Australia, maybe I'll go look up some more and write another post with some additional ones. However, this time I'll try and stay away from terrifying facts because no one likes those. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

New Clothes

I know it's been a few days since I wrote, but I kept meaning to and then kept getting tired and just going to bed but I am now! We got the clothes and everything from the store the other day and I was pleased to discover that almost everything fit. All of the clothes fit, as did the sandals (the ones called The Hannah), just the black flats didn't fit. It's no big deal though because I can send them back free of charge and just get the size down. I was happy with the sandals because I've worn them a bit now and they're super comfy and fit really well.

One of the tops

The other top, I know it's wrinkly but it just
came out of the packet

The Hannah sandal

Very pleased with them

A lot of these look much better on than just lying on the bed, especially the dress. The dress is pretty shapeless when it's not on because it has a cowl neck and a belt. I was happily surprised that the dress wasn't too long though, and I did have to punch a couple of extra holes in the belt, but no major problem.

See, shapeless

The last thing I got was that blue bag and I wasn't exactly sure what to expect because I couldn't tell from the photos how big it was or how much storage it actually had but I was really pleased with it. It's a perfect size, comes with an adjustable and detachable strap and has tons of storage. It has the main area in the middle with two pouches inside and a zippered pocket, then on the outside of the back on each side has zippered compartments. For $13 (and really free) I don't think you can beat that.

From the side

The middle/main part of the bag with the two zippered
compartments on either side

I'm really happy with everything and you can't beat the fact that it was all completely free. We still have a little bit of money leftover so I'm returning my shoes and getting another size and then might get one other thing to still be decided.

The past couple of days I've done a fair amount of baking-- all new things I've not made before. I suddenly got a craving for banana bread so I got the recipe my mom used to use and made it (it wasn't as good as hers) but I was still pretty pleased with it. It could have used an extra banana, but at least now I know the next time I make it.

Finished banana bread

I then baked a new cookie recipe which was utterly the most bizarre cookie recipe I've ever made. It took plain flour and no raising ingredients and the only "wet" ingredient was one egg so the batter (if you could even call it that) was ridiculously thick. It made mixing it almost impossible and then when they came out of the oven they were insanely dark and I was wary about how they might taste. But it turns out they were really tasty! Although, I'm not sure if I'd make them again just because it was so hard to mix.

Almost black cookies

They were very very chocolatey and stayed kind of soft so overall I was pretty pleased. I might look up some other cookie recipes now and try those instead. Hmm what shall I make next?

I finally took off most of the Christmas decorations I put on the wall and finally put up our clock (now that we have hooks), but I have to say it's nice to be rid of them even though I thought I might miss it all.

I'm not sure of the plans for the weekend or next week so we will see what will comes up. I'll probably be in the op shop for a few days and we leave for our Asia trip in 13 days so I'm still excited for that!