Peace, Love, Glebe…

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Glebe is a quirky little Sydney suburb, not incredibly exciting on a normal day bar the infamous Donut Time and the cute little cafes and bars. On a Saturday though Glebe is alive with vintage wearing, coffee drinking, record collecting, youth. Any Saturday, anywhere in Sydney, will be busy but this is uncharacteristically so.

The market is a mess, a colourful, patterned mess, of flea market type thrift stores, second hand bargains, crystals, independent boutiques and food vans. There is live music by the field where groups sit in there 60’s style clobber eating from brown paper boxes and drinking from coffee cups. There is chatter and laughter and freedom dancing through the warm air. It’s an energetic space, an inspiring space, a space you go to connect and reflect and escape.

The stall runners are warm, encouraging purchases but more interested in getting a good chat out of you. My vintage denim obsession thrives here and I’m talked into buying crystal donned jewellery from a gypsy soul enthusiastic about the properties of the stones and there value to enhancing life. I grab a coffee from van, a soy vanilla latte before approaching my favourite stand, 80 raw 20 paleo, of vegan treats for a banana and peanut butter pop. In the warm breeze I sit and take in the space around me, the music soothing and the people are living.

If your trip to Sydney is short and you’re there over a weekend then Glebe Markets is definitely one of my first recommendations, you’ll probably see me nosing through some stalls and stuffing my face with vegan cake, so come say hi!

Revolver Cafe Seminyak

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Down a random, albeit pretty quaint, alley in Seminyak, through a manned door, into an underground, speakeasy vibed cafe, is where you’ll find some of the best coffee I tried whilst in Bali. Revolver is the hipsteriest of the hipster and I loves it! The interior is thought out from corner to corner, with an upstairs and a kind of secret second cafe bar. From the pursian rugs, to the fragmented mirrors donning the walls, everything encompasses a artsy, pretentious aesthetic, all part of your coffee drinking experience. I went for an almond iced latte and my friend for a tell tale long black. Both of us left satisfied. As much as I loved the coffee aspect (when am I not overjoyed about good coffee?) the place itself lived up to the high expectations Australia has taught me about how coffee should be made and experienced. The music is alternate guitar based and upbeat. The reading material stretching from local newspapers, to quirky beautifully produced magazines, to an outdated (only just) copy of the Sydney Morning Herald. I fell in love with Belly magazine, a surf/urban culture magazine straight out of Kuta. The interviews were actually interesting, carried out with fascinating and talented individuals overlooked by most popular magazines. On the way out are printed T-shirts, product of a highly anticipated spot to visit. It’s a great place for a sit and cool down and perfect if you’re slightly homesick from Sydney and its coffee culture. It is a very western thing I’ll admit but its uniqueness makes it a worth while addition to your Bali bucket list. If you need a spot to catch up on some work, or an inspiring place to update your blog and edit some photo’s it makes stopping off at a coffee shop while you’re on one of the most beautiful islands slightly more excusable.

A Day in Seminyak…

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Following an eclectic street of typical tourist tack gift shops, small airy boutiques, tattoo parlours, and all manner of foodie traps from Kuta is how we make our way to Seminyak. The road gradually fizzles into boutiques only, leaving the messy open stores lining the raging roads of Kuta behind, with room only for tidy store fronts, Australian inspired coffee shops and a more varied selection of vegan and health food shops. Seminyak shows the least of Balinese culture of the few places I have time to explore. The beach gives more of that western holiday makers vibe with up market hotels meeting the sand, advertisements for rooftop bars and a serious lack of salesman in comparison to the haggling background noise on Kuta beach.

Our day has turned cloudy by the time we reach the shore and the chill in the air takes away any previous excitement I had about swimming but the grey hues of the water are a steely wonder and as you hit where the ocean laps onto the shore you walk on the ghostly reflection of the clouds. As we take a seat on the sand a dog comes over sniffing at my friends taco’s and I try desperately to be friends but he backs away nonchalantly at my excitable, petting ready, hands. His cheeky attitude brightens our day after an earlier encounter with a stray dog, blind in one eye, covered in bites and rashes, thin and lost on the busy street. He stopped bewildered in our path and though I tried to encourage him to drink some water, he looked at it confused before considering his surroundings again. We lose him down an alley eventually but like the netted dog in Kuta I regret not helping him enough.There are so many dog walkers going by, joggers panting along and families strolling by in a chorus of giggles. This beach, more than any of the others, reminds me of Australia and that gives me comfort.

Seminyak is definitely worth a day of your time but personally I’m glad I chose not to base myself there for the trip. I love a pretentious coffee shop, shopping in trendy overpriced stores and munching on vegan brownies but I do all of that in Australia. It was an awesome day, definitely a nice spot to chill out and relax and we stumbled on a cute little market too. Maybe if we’d have explored a little  more we would’ve branched out into a more realistic Seminyak, I’m not sure I researched the area quite as well as I should of. A day of cafe hopping and scrummy vegan food at The Earth Cafe (I’ll do a vegan food guide soon) still made the trip worth it.

A Guide to Ubud…

There is so much to do in Ubud and of the three places I spent time in (Kuta, Ubud, Seminyak) it was definitely my most favourite. I spent four nights here in the Pandok Permata Homestay, maybe a night too long if you’re pushed for time but you could also definitely spend longer here if time, and money, is to your advantage. The hostel was beyond what I expected, beautiful intricate balinese furnishings and impeccably clean rooms with the most serene of views. The family who owned the place were forever happy to help and organised for a tour of some nearby hotspots for us at a ridiculously reasonable price. And a bonus? They have dogs! And the cutest little puppy full of hugs and playfulness.

Places to visit:

  • Jalan Gautama -My favourite little side street, quirky and busy with the yummiest and most creative eateries, lots of vegan choices on flavoursome menus too, there’ll be a couple spots reviewed in my Bali vegan food guide.
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    Please excuse the face, I was mid scream.

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  • The Monkey Forest – A rare moment when human’s are the spectacle.  I was honest to goodness attacked by two of the cutest little shits when I tried to grab my camera out of my backpack. I saw a few keys glittering in small, almost human, hands and a few of the more sinister little guys terrorising tourists keen to take a close up of their deceptively innocent faces.Processed with VSCO with c1 presetOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Tegenungan Waterfall – A great stop for that pretentious “traveller” snap and quick dip, we timed it right, getting there just before an onslaught of tourists. img_8299screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-15-14-02
  • Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple – This is the place to go for that famous holy bathing snap us tourists go nuts for. But make sure to wear something that covers your knees, or buy your own sarong. You get given one, free of charge at the temple entrance but you’re not allowed to get them wet, so I missed out on actually going into the holy bath.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Goa Gajah Temple – Or “Elephant Cave” temple. All of the temples we visited were awe inspiring to me, it’s such a peaceful space and all of them connect with the natural landscape in such a beautiful way. This one in particular had me feeling the Indiana Jones vibes.img_8322img_8330
  • Tegalalang Rice Terrace -One of the most iconic Bali landscapes, I think. I’ve seen this space splashed all over travel instagrams for years. As with everything “touristic” though, you really do have to see it and experience it for yourself.

I’m pretty sure none of these things are new to you if you’ve ever been to, or have planned to, head to Bali but I wanted to share them anyways because I had one of my favourite travel experiences so far touring through them all. Happy travels to anyone headed to Bali soon, it’s beyond magical and by far my favourite place I’ve been too.

 

P.S. If you’re interested in seeing some of my less than average travel photography then check out My “photography” blog

Ubud…

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I never really understood what living in the moment really meant until I was riding on the back of a strangers scooter, through the streets of Ubud, Bali. We ride fast downhill, weave through cars, the sun beats down on my unhelmeted head and after a brief cry from subconscious ‘My mam would kill me!’ I shut it up and give in to my here and now. Such a small simple pleasure, an easily reached adrenaline rush, no caution, no over thinking, just acceptance and genuine happiness. It’s normal here to ride on pavements, squeeze through tight spaces in spaceless traffic, to ‘yip’ and ‘yew’your way through barely policed streets. Even on a bicycle the adrenaline is hammering through your body, impatient cars and scooters scraping by. Nothing compares to that feeling of rolling down the hill from the hostel to the centre of town, that light summer breeze twirling through free hair, feather like brushes against your arms, the rice paddies in all their earthy beauty bordering your journey.

Ubud is a hub for the free spirited, the spiritual, the artistic, the life livers. Yoga enthusiasts in harem pants sit crossed legged on the floors of restaurants, bare foot in respectful tradition, eating plant heavy foods, simple but heated flavours and a side of green juice or a cheeky bintang. The energy is subtle and easy, none of the Kuta chaos. The closest to a party is a chic bar, house music and fairy lights crowding a beer garden escape. Nature peeks through everywhere, vines up shop fronts, trees in the centre of organic vegan restaurants, the beauty of the monkey forest on the outskirts of town, rainforests meeting gritty pathways. The western and eastern are co existing in some bizarre city nirvana here and its the most grounded yet excited I’ve ever felt in a place.

As peaceful as Ubud is, it’s very easy to forget where you are in its wistful embrace. Other than a few homeless women, children in arms with outreached hands, the town is neat and void of the poverty you know the people of Bali are victim too. Whilst in Kuta you see the worst of both privileged drunken westerners and homeless wandering locals, Ubud is slightly too manicured, no wonder considering some of it’s most frequent visitors are celebrities and well to do’s looking for a yoga retreat and spiritual cleanse. Ubud is beautiful, it’s a delicate, artistically rich space and I can’t recommend it enough, but try your best to see more than just Ubud on your Bali travels. Though any interaction with the locals is always a genuine pleasure. One of the aspects of my trip I was so awed by was the genuine willingness to help, sweet smiles and generous gestures of the Balinese people.

 

 

Pieces of August…

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Reading: It’s been over a year since I finished a book, being a Literature grad I feel this is equal parts disappointing and understandable. This month I found time, whilst waiting around for work in a small town, to really settle down and focus my chaotic mind on the words of a page. ‘Big Magic’ meant little to me in terms of Gilbert’s other novels (I remain in the minority to have not read Eat Pray Love, it seems) but still it was a light, energetic read for a wannabe author (a wannabe anything really). A good amount of philosophy among little snippets of personal encounters, inspirations and experiences with magic. It got me inspired to write again and I appreciate her nods to feminism and her dispelling of the tragic author.

Music: Sticky Fingers – Cyclone (The Village Sessions) Don’t get me started on my love for these guys. This version, the lyrics, the acoustic guitar, it has my feels trembling.

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Instagram: My favourite instagram page of recent has been @caitmiersphotography. She’s actually been one of my favourites since the early days, a feed of blue, adventure and soulfulness. It lifts my sea craving spirit and has me smiling at the prospect of future adventures.

Blogs: I’ve found myself scrolling through the articles of The Messy Heads Blog more than my twitter feed recently (I know right? crazy). These girls are woke, they’re fluent, intelligent, active young women taking back there gender and society. Love it, love them.

Youtube: On a similar wave length to the Messy Heads blog, Cartia Mallan and Stella Rae are owning Youtube with there focus on veganism and being young women in a troubled society. This Video is equal parts tenacious personality, wise beyond their years tidbits of wisdom and encouraging comraderie between women at an age where all other females seem to be in competition with one another. Give both of their channels a watch.

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Adventure: Being in Melbourne, alone, for a day. I’ve travelled with company pretty much this whole year and there’s something intense about doing it alone. Knowing no one in the city you’re in and being able to completely immerse yourself in the things you love. Nothing gets me like wandering through photography exhibitions, or people watching and writing in small cafe’s. I love Melbourne, I love feeling free to be anyone and I love feeling like I’ve accomplished something.

Find my posts on Melbourne: 

I hope you found this somewhat interesting. Let me know if you like these kind of posts and let me in on some of your favourites!

Kuta…

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Screeching of wheels, violent screams of horns, whizzing of scooters swerve through traffic and people precariously walk to avoid their urgent rampage onto the pavement. The roads are packed, jammed, a mess of loud overheating vehicles.

Lining these roads are ‘Warungs’ of harem pants in garish prints, faux Ralph Lauren polos and smiling shopkeepers with charming English enticements memorised for weak materialistic westerners. The people are friendly but do need to make a living, they tirelessly push with desperate grins and outreached hands. I smile and shake my head, a thousand ‘No Thank you’s’ as I follow on the narrow pathway behind my friend, stepping over happy religious offerings of flowers and sweets. Nothing seems real in these early moments, as an onslaught of voices and intricate architecture hound my laid back demeanour.

I remember one thing especially clear from our first expedition into the roads of Kuta. Three men netting up a stray dog out in the open, in plain sight of tourists and locals alike. My hands clenched into fists as I turned my gaze away, not nearly quickly enough to avoid seeing the poor creature move ever so slightly. The scene is haunting still now as I torment myself for not being brave enough to intervene, a self proclaimed animal activist who left a victim in pain and torment. But then my conscience was toying with what I viewed as right and what their world viewed as right. I guess that acceptance of being the privileged outsider is a bitter fact to accept but an important one too. It’s still not an excuse I should of stepped in. My role as the outsider would only become further realised as my trip continues.

After this incomprehensible scene my mind is momentarily cleared, my body relaxed as we make it onto the beach. By this point many a traveller in many a hostel have regaled tales of heavy parties, drunken stupidity and the splendour of Kuta beach to my eager inexperienced ears. But this is something you have to experience yourself. It’s covered in tourists, not quite a tropical retreat, the salesman are ever present with their surfboards, their chairs, their warm Bintangs but it’s part of its charm. The sea is crystal clear, frothing waves speckled with surfers, gleeful kids paddle in the shallows, the salt water calm sneaks up onto the almost white sand and bathes my feet, grounding and inspiring me. I nod my head softly and exhale, its been a couple of hard working months since I got to really enjoy a beach this way. There will never be anywhere I feel more at home than by the sea, soaked by the sun.