Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

Rome

Arriving in Rome was easy. No complications at all.

But of course I booked my holiday on the weekend that they’re canonising Mary Mackillop. There are Australians everywhere. Flying with a bunch of very exited but very well behaved Catholics was exactly how you would think it to be, except no singing. Somehow I had expected singing.

On the train into the city it was me and this Japanese couple totally ogling the scenery. There are ruins everywhere you look. Pretty sure I took more photos than they did.

I spent the whole of today walking around old stuff. Really really old stuff. Mostly stalking families and couples. (there were a few people I just kept seeing no matter which random monument I went to).

I saw a real monk. Was pretty excited. Didn’t ask for his autograph though.

Petrol stations here are these funny tiny booths on the side of the road that take up the length of a car space. Speaking of cars, I’ve seen smart cars parked perpendicular to the kerb but I got a tiny bit excited when I saw one parked diagonally to fit into what really wasn’t a car park.

I haven’t eated the gelati yet. The weather is a muggy kind of cold that we don’t get in Melbourne town.

Met up with the tour. It’s 5 girls about my age (including our leader) and one more mature lady. I’m calling it “The Estrogen Tour 2010″ in my head. We all got excited about drinking wine and eating chocolate so I think we’re gonna get along just fine.

No surprises that my italian is comical. But I did manage to order my dinner without using English.

Oh yes, the food here is unbelievable. I will come back fat – I promise.




Ps: All photos are from the iPhone as I cant download photos off my big camera without a real computer.

Notes on departing Melbourne

Final bag weight was just under 10 kilos. I should win a prize.

You would expect that gate 6 would be between gates 5 & 7. But if you’re at Melbourne airport you would be wrong (it’s next to gate 11).

Just a few hundred meters can reduce any chaos into a charming miniature.

The middle of Australia looks like the sea floor.

Movies watched;
Iron Man 2 – loved it.
500 Days of Summer – loved it (for the second time, first was on a plane too)
Prince of Persia – rather enjoyed it, no one is more stunned by this than me.
Wall-E – It made me cry, but meh – so do some tv ads.

Tv watched:
3 episodes of the big bang theory
1 episode of the inbetweeners.

There was no sleep.

But now I must dash, Hong Kong airport has it’s own Muji. I must go fondle some minimalist Japanese goods.



Five days to go

I’ve been having a bit of fun this week. Twice now I’ve had the opportunity to reply “Sorry, I can’t – I’ll be in Paris that weekend”. It’s cruel, and I don’t intend to rub it in anybody’s face. But isn’t it the best excuse in the world?

So, packing. I haven’t started packing yet. There’s a little insecure part of me that think that perhaps if I get too excited I will spawn another volcano in my path. But I’ve been packing in my mind, determined to pack like a travel ninja. And while Im no global nomad, I do know how to pack a bag. Here is a list of stuff that is more for my benefit than yours.

  • Toiletries – mine always leak no matter how plane friendly they claim to be. My trick? Grab a shopping bag, cut it to be about double the size of the bottles mouth, place it in between the bottle and the cap and screw the cap shut. This stops leaks. Forever.
  • Your mother lied. Folding sucks. Roll your clothes.
  • Speaking of clothes, don’t pack like you’ll never see your cuboard again. Chances are you’ll buy that cute jumper in Barcelona so leave room for it.

Now because I don’t like posting without pictures, here is a photo of my cat. She almost died this week.

Sleepy cat is sleepy.   And cute.

Adventures in Bali

The journey started in the departure lounge at Singapore Airport. I had grown used to the friendly Singaporians around me and fine with having no idea what most of them were saying, enjoying my little tourist bubble. Then I find myself in room full of Australians and Americans – surrounded by English and accents and things I understand and this makes me a little sad. I kind of liked not being in Kansas any more.

I spent the majority flight drawing bear diagrams and listening to Yo La Tengo. I was apprehensive. My desision to go to Bali was made on the spur of the moment which is so many ways is not me. I like my travel at the very least sketched in with a base coat. I had bought a ticket on this flight merely the day before yesterday.

The original plan was to terrorise* Europe with some friends. Their flight hadn’t even left Sydney but they had a plan B. You see, they may not consider themselves so but my friends are really very well connected. They happen to be friends with a lass who manages a resort spa in Bali.

And this lovely lass heard about their plight and offered them a cheap semi-holiday. And having never met me in her life, she also offered it to me as well. Internet, this chick is awesome.

So when we found out that no, we would not be meeting on Paris. We decided to meet in Bali. We would drown our sorrows with sunshine, then figgure out where to go next. Which is how I found myself nervously perched in an uncomfrtable budget airline prepairing to land at Denpasaar airport.

Nothing makes you feel more like a terrorist than landing in Bali. The queues you must wait in, the money you must pay. The adreniline of getting though customs without being mistakingly arrested for drug smuggling had made me giddy so I was caught off guard by the official looking young fellow in a shirt asking me if thist was my first time in Bali. Just so you all know (because I didn’t) these guys are porters who carry your bag for a small fee. I totally got suckered. I could carry my own bag and he wouldn’t let me, I had to pay him to give me my bag back and leave me alone. Apparently this is just the way Bali is and once you get over the fact that you’re being ripped off and and relax a little things become more pleasant.

After that it was a nervous cab ride to the resort, and then a nervous discussion with a bell man about how no, I was not a guest at the hotel, yes I was staying with a friend who worked at the hotel. His eyes lit up “Ah you are Miss Tess! Wait one moment please thank you!” And he ran away from me as if I had told him I had ebola. So, I waited, getting more and more nervous. The other hotel staff had started giving me curious looks. Im just standing there In the lobby of this amazing hotel and I can see they’re just itching to run over to help.

But as fast as he had disappeared he returned with a two very familiar faces and one not so familiar.

There was relieved hugging and happy introductions and many “thankyous!” and “good to see yous!” and I was whisked though a maze of shops, hotel rooms, pools of Koi, flowerbeds, and sculptures to the suites. Damn, I was staying in Bali, in an awesome hotel, in the suites, for basically nothing. During the walk to the room I’m pretty sure I was internally high fiving myself all the way.

Thus commenced six days of eating amazing food, dipping in and out of amazing pools, drinking waaaaay too much and generally having an awesome time. I’m a little embarrassed to say that we didn’t venture out far from the resort. There was a night out were we drank even more and visited hilariously dodgy night clubs in Kuta. And a day or two where we ventured out to Nusa Dua to take advantage of a very favourable exchange rate.

Speaking of shopping and embarrassing, I struggled profoundly with using the local currency – the Rupea. It could have been due to my being slightly tipsy a lot of the time. Or maybe the amount of zeros on the end of everything (usually three, sometimes four). Or possibly because of my being slightly tipsy a lot of the time.

This confusion cumulated in me waving a 20 000 Rupea note and telling my friends a bit too loudly “I’ll pay, I’ll pay!” only being told that “That’s worth about $2 dumbass” (the word dumbass was not actually used, but it definitely a synonym). I spent the rest of my time asking sheepishly “is this enough?”.

My stay in Bali tragically cumulated in the loss of my Credit card. A call to my bank and a flight home. Yes, this particular holiday of mine was 100% Egyptian tomb, witch doctor, African American hoodoo cursed.

Listing the various and many ways that things went awry would just make me sad and that would be doing a great disservice to my stay in Bali. So instead I’ll finish with a list of things that one should do if one manages to get their ass to Bali.

  • Put on that one fancy dress that you’ve got smooshed at the bottom of your bag, go to Ku De Ta and drink as many cocktails as your personal constitution will allow.
  • Parasailing. Seriously. And while you’re up there make sure you take in the view.
  • Spend an entire day poolside, get to know your local pool boy. Accept any complements he throws your day as genuine, because even if you know better – it’ll make you feel great.
  • Wake up early for a yoga class on the roof of your hotel. Enjoy the reflection of your bum at various ridiculous angles. Afterwards enjoy the tiny-humming-birds-in-the-muscles feeling.
  • Make a habit out of attending cocktails at 5. Get to know your waiter there too.

* Just to be clear – because I’ve read a few stories of wacko police forces arresting folk for using the T word in jest, Im gonna be real clear here – by terrorise I mean eating lots of local food, drinking lots of local booze, maybe doing some really bad dancing then passing out not quite in my hotel bed. There may be some beltching, but no bombs.