Alotau, Papua New Guinea

The three amigos head off from Cairns’ Trinity Wharf
We were greeted by some traditional Papuan dancers

I travelled to Papua New Guinea in September 2016 with two very good friends Dianne and Mark aboard the ship Pacific Eden. It is quite difficult to move between the islands of the Louisiade Archipelago of Papua New Guinea by public transport and so when we found out about a deal for $389 for 7 days to PNG we jumped at the chance. New Guinea and Australia were once one piece of land so it was significant for us as Australians to visit.  None of us had been to New Guinea before so we were rather excited about the trip.

Alotau Market, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea

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India Part 1 – Chennai, Bangalore & Kerala

The other day I was cleaning out a cupboard when I came across a rather gaudy looking photo album I had made after a trip to India.  As I flicked through the pages fond memories of the days I spent in this wonderful country came back to me.  India has aways had a mystical and exotic appeal for me and so, some years back, when I had the  chance to travel to India I jumped at the opportunity.

Blue dye textiles in Chennai, India
A man goes about his work with textiles in Chennai, India

I was lucky enough to apply for and attain a fellowship with the Asia Education Foundation (Australia) and as it was funded by the foundation I only had to pay $500 for the whole trip.  This was not a solo journey, however, but a journey with a group of educators which took in tours of schools and the chance to meet some very interesting people. Continue reading “India Part 1 – Chennai, Bangalore & Kerala”

Cappadocia/Kapadokya, Turkey

Göreme Valley, Turkey
Göreme Valley, Turkey

Cappadocia (Kapadokya in Turkish) is a fairytale like place right in the centre of Turkey.  I say fairytale because the landscape varies between the ‘fairy chimneys’ to underground dwellings to beautiful mountains and valleys. You can amble up rocky hillsides and check out houses and churches built into the side of mountains or you can venture below the surface (literally) and explore the subterranean network that form underground cities. Before I started planning my trip Continue reading “Cappadocia/Kapadokya, Turkey”

Out & about (and up) in Dubai

You can’t help but notice the Burj Khalifa when you are in Dubai. By the way Burj means tower in Arabic. At around 830 metres high it’s not far off being a kilometre into the air. It dominates the skyline and dwarfs all other buildings.

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building on the right
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building on the right

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Petra, Jordan

Petra is extraordinary.

The Treasury, Petra, Jordan
The Treasury, Petra, Jordan

A Swiss chap named Burckhardt rediscovered Petra in 1812 and we are so glad he did.  The first sighting of The Treasury as you reach the end of the Siq is just breathtaking.  The spectacle of the whole site is just wonderful.  When you stop to think of the engineering involved in building such a city built into rock faces and that this occurred around the 3rd century BC it is even more amazing. Continue reading “Petra, Jordan”

Jordan, November 2015

Floor tile at the Citadel, Amman, Jordan
Floor tile at the Citadel, Amman, Jordan

I was in Jordan during the 2nd week of November 2015. As I was travelling around it became apparent that tourist numbers were down. On enquiring about this I was told that this was their high season but this year it was like a low season in terms of tourist numbers. I asked what their next real low season would be like Continue reading “Jordan, November 2015”

Meandering around Mayo, Ireland

Mayo panorama
Mayo panorama

I feel that Ireland is enjoyed best by, not travelling from one attraction to the next, but by meandering and happening upon scenes that are straight from picture postcards. A friend once told me that she felt underwhelmed by Ireland’s scenery compared to Scotland. I asked her where she had been. Dublin, Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher she started to list.

Lost in Mayo
Lost in Mayo
A peaceful scene in Mayo
A peaceful scene in Mayo

That was her problem. She had stuck to the road well travelled. I believe you have to get lost down the back roads to see the true beauty of Ireland. The other day I had intended to visit the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary but made a late start. After revising my plans I decided to head in the opposite direction to Clifden in Mayo instead. I got to a town called Oughterard and had to stop. I wanted to clear my head so I stopped for lunch in a nice little pub there.

I love the Irish mountains
I love the Irish mountains
Late afternoon in Mayo on an early November day
Late afternoon in Mayo on an early November day

Feeling refreshed and rested I headed off but never made it to Clifden. Instead at some point I made a right turn and headed over some mountains and into some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. My photos really don’t do it justice and unfortunately I did start losing some light. But that feeling of meandering over one hill after the other and into valleys with the most beautiful lake scenes was so rewarding.

The Mayo lakes are beautiful at this time of day
The Mayo lakes are beautiful at this time of day
Lough Mask, County Mayo, Ireland
Lough Mask, County Mayo, Ireland
Heading toward Tourmakeady on Lough Mask, County Mayo
Heading toward Tourmakeady on Lough Mask, County Mayo

Flashpacking in Fiji

A Hibiscus flower - one of the many beautiful flowers found in Fiji
A Hibiscus flower – one of the many beautiful flowers found in Fiji

There are many large hotels and resorts to stay at in Fiji but when your budget is a little thin try flashpacking!

I was lucky enough to stay for five nights in a Beach front Bure at Mango Bay Resort just out of Sigatoka on the island of Viti Levu, Fiji. The region is called the Coral Coast and it’s one of Viti Levu’s main tourism areas.  The Shangri-La and the Warwick resorts were just up the road.   Mango Bay Resort is what is known as a flashpacker’s resort.

What is flashpacking I hear you ask?  Well my definition of flashpacking is that it is similar to backpacking just with a slighter bigger budget and staying in single or double rooms instead of dorms.  It would be somewhere between backpacker dorms and resorts I guess.  In my case it was a reasonably priced bure on the beach with its own private outdoor bathroom.

The view from the door of my bure at Mango Bay Resort, Sigatoka, Fiji
The view from the door of my bure at Mango Bay Resort, Sigatoka, Fiji

I count myself very lucky to have been able to fall asleep each night with the sound of the waves against the shore and actually laying my head on the pillow and being able to see those waves coming in toward me.  It was absolute bliss!

There were quite a few activities available such as snorkelling, stand up paddling, kayaking, boating and swimming.  One day I went with a group to a school on one of the nearby islands.  It was a lovely day and the kids were just great.  They were quite impressed with my Aussie Rules Football kick.  They sang and danced for us too.

On another day I did a cooking class with one of the Fijian guys who worked at Mango Bay Resort.  We cooked fish in coconut milk which was delicious.  The Fijians call the coconut tree the tree of life because all parts are used.  The trunk is used to make furniture and houses and the coconuts are used to drink and for cooking.

One night I tried Kava which was an interesting experience!  Kava is a mildly narcotic drink which is made from mixing the powdered root of the pepper plant with water.  It just mainly made my throat a bit numb.  A couple of South Americans, myself and some local lads bonded while we drank from a communal bowl.  It is part of Fijian tradition and is an acquired taste.

The last thing I would like to mention about Fiji is the temperature of the water.  It is so warm!  If you live in a country where the sea temperature is cold you won’t believe how great it is to swim in the lovely warm water of Fiji.  So go ahead and plan your flashpacking holiday in Fiji.  You might just be surprised that you can afford that trip!