Saturday, 27 August 2016

Diary #5 - Tears, tiredness and tequila

Well hello there. As I sit and write this, I'm currently in my dorm bed, at 8:48pm on a Saturday and accompanied by a cup of tea and an extremely large bar of Dairy Milk Oreo which I swear either has crack cocaine in or I just have staggeringly low self control and I would not like anyone to tell me which one it is... But yes, on a Saturday night in the lively city that is Melbourne, I'm in bed - totally living 'the dream'.

The concept of 'the dream' is a funny one isn't it. Before I started travelling, I couldn't wait to leave the UK behind with all of its responsibilities and uni and work and everything that comes along with having to actually grow up and start being an adult (ugh, who even thought of that ever being a good idea?). I've been travelling now for just under four months and you know what, this blog is my little space on the internet and it's always about being real, whether that be about homesickness at university to politics to general...life and so yep, I'm going to admit that I've found the past couple of weeks of the trip really hard.

I know most of you will probably be sat reading this thinking that I'm either clinically insane, indescribably ungrateful, a complete moaning minnie or all of the above because duh, I'm on a trip of a lifetime so quit whining and enjoy it but sometimes, sometimes, it isn't all that it cracks up to be and I'm reeeeeally sick of people online pretending that it is.



So as I've mentioned approximately 736793 times, the 6 weeks I spent in Cape Town was pretty much the best time of my entire life so far. I fell completely in love with the city and the people and pretty much everything about it and it was only as we were about to leave South Africa that my friend and I realised just how much of a mark it had left on us. We then headed to Bali and really, it was quite unfair on the place that it was having to follow somewhere that we had adored so much because it was basically like watching Beyonce perform for like 5 hours straight and then Leona Lewis coming on afterwards, like it was okay and great and everything but...it didn't particularly blow us away. Some of the people we met were so rude, one of the places we stayed at was terrible, there was nothing authentic about literally anywhere we went apart from Jimbaran Bay and we even tried to bring our flight to Perth forward by about 10 days because we just weren't enjoying ourselves.

But it was okay, because next up was Australia, somewhere we'd both wanted to go for years and years so it was fine. We were going to get there, find jobs immediately because everyone says how super easy it is to get jobs here and then we'd be living it up and never want to leave ever, ever, ever.

So now, almost a month into Australia, it's insane to me that this is where I've been the most unhappy of the entire trip. Firstly, I love Melbourne and I'm excited to be here and to explore and to experience the city but I'm putting it out there, this leg of the trip has not been particularly easy. After heading to Melbourne from Perth due to realising there were very few jobs there and not a huge amount to do when it's not summer, we were told repeatedly that it's easy to get a job in Melbourne, easy peasy lemon squeezy. 

Weeeell, I've spent the last 2 weeks going round the city doing trial after interview after trial after interview...and nothing. Absolutely nothing. And you know what? 2 weeks of solid rejection is not easy on the whole emotional wellbeing, I'm just putting it out there. In one of our many, many, many, #deepandmeaningful chats we've had over the past few months, something my friend said one night really resonated with me. 

'If one of your friends was as horrible to you as your own mind was to yourself, you'd never speak to them again'.

And it's so true. Because as each rejection came along, my brain has decided to become meaner and meaner and the past week especially, I have been so miserable. I'm in bloody Melbourne in bloody Australia and I have bloody cried 3 times in the last bloody week over bloody waitressing jobs. 

Well, no more. I'm a massive believer in what will be, will be, and so... that it will. The whole point of this year away was to enjoy it. To relax, to experience different cultures and countries, to meet new people, to drink and eat and laugh and appreciate life. But if I'm stressing about getting a job and money and this and that whilst in a country that I'm seeing absolutely nothing of because of stressing about getting a job and money and this and that, then... what's the point? 

So, I'm done with being consumed in applying for jobs and attending trial shifts and going back home to apply for jobs and go back out to attend trial shifts. Because whilst I will try my hardest to find work, I'm not sacrificing the next few weeks or months for it. I'm not making myself sad or becoming awful company because a few waitressing jobs that I wasn't completely bothered about haven't chosen me.

Travelling is seen as the most incredible thing in the entire world and it IS the most incredible thing in the entire world but what I've realised is that, backpacking as such, isn't for everyone... and that is okay. It's okay to try something, to try a certain way of travelling and actually, admit that nope, perhaps this way of seeing the world isn't for me. Perhaps I'd prefer to have an incredible 6 months, where life was completely carefree and to then go home. Or perhaps something will come about and I won't want to go home for 2 more years. Who knows, but neither is a failure, neither is better than the other. 

Most of you reading this will probably be reaching for the world's smallest violin because isn't it such a terrible problem that travelling around the world isn't the most incredible experience all of the time but, it's just me, being honest about life. It's just me, letting you know that all of those incredible photos you see on social media taken by people who appear to be 'living the dream' aren't always what they appear to be. And if you're reading this knowing exactly what I mean, or struggling to find work, or missing home, it's okay, go and fix yourself a hot drink and whack out a bar of chocolate and chill, we've got this. We properly actually have got this. 

Okay, end of ramble. Off to demolish my chocolate and plan fun things to do in Melbourne this coming week.

P.s Being away from the UK has made me really appreciate how bloody nice and polite people Brits are and also, that our Dairy Milk is the best in the world, no doubt about it, no arguments, nothing, full stop.

Love ya!

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Friday, 12 August 2016

A weekend in Johannesburg

We all have different perceptions and opinions and views about places, whether it be in our own home country or areas across the world. Even if we believe that we don't, it's practically impossible to not have certain assumptions about places, particularly those abroad, and you know the only way to rid of the perceptions you've gradually formed? To go out and actually see for yourself what a country or city or town is like.

And that's exactly what we did with Johannesburg.


Prior to arriving in Cape Town for the first leg of our trip, we received a few quizzical glances when we told people that we were going to South Africa for two months. 'But...isn't it really dangerous?' 'Aren't you scared?' 'What even is there to do there?'

To be honest, because y'know, we're all friends here, the only thing I knew was that I really, really wanted to go to Cape Town but had no expectations, and perhaps that's one of the reasons I fell so head over heels completely in love with the place. When it came to Johannesburg though, I'll admit that prior to getting on the plane from Port Elizabeth to there, I was...a little nervous. 

We've all heard the stories, and let's face it, none of them are nice so I was hesitant but at the same time, I wanted to see it for myself. I wanted to see it for myself and if, after four days, I wasn't a fan, then I would accept it and know that at least I'd witnessed the city through my own eyes and not relied on scare stories. 

On arrival at Johannesburg Domestic Airport, the words of a local we met on the plane rang in my head... 'good luck'. 

And so our adventure began.

We were driven from the airport by possibly the funniest guy we'd had the pleasure of meeting so far on our trip, who constantly apologised for being all of two minutes late to meet us but 'as you can see I'm a chubby guy and I need my full fat coffee'. I feel ya, my friend, I feel ya.

Where we stayed

We were staying at the only inner city hostel in Johannesburg, that of Curiosity Backpackers, which is situated in up and coming neighbourhood, Maboneng.  By this point in our trip, we'd stayed in a fair few hostels, some were great, some were not so and yet on arrival at this place, on the first step in, we knew this was it. This was the one. It's difficult to put into words, exactly what makes it so great, what makes the vibe so incredible and what makes you never want to leave but it really, truly is a hostel you could never be unhappy in. 

The facilities are fabulous, with an outdoor jacuzzi, a clean and spacious kitchen, comfy bean bags on the balcony which are perfect for chilling out with a beer or two and a lively bar which is open to both hostel guests and locals. Perhaps what makes this place so special though, are the staff members. I really do defy you to find a friendlier bunch of people, who are all so passionate about both the hostel and their city. They love it, and they make you love it, they care and they make you care.

For a little background, one of the co-founders, Bheki Dube, set up the hostel in 2013 when he was just 21 years old. His aim was to give both locals and tourists a truly authentic experience of Johannesburg and try to show that there is more to this city than what first meets the eye. 

It's safe to say Curiocity are doing a pretty fabulous job of doing just that and they really did make our trip to Joburg unforgettable - I really, truly couldn't recommend it more. 

What we did


On our first full day in the city, we went on an inner city walking tour, organised by Curiocity. Lasting four hours, we were taken around some of the city's most infamous areas, taken to some of the city's most unique street art and taken up South Africa's tallest skyscraper, the Carlton Centre, giving us panoramic views of the economic hub of the country.


We ended the tour at the Neighbourhoods Market and oh boy, if you look food and drink as much as I do, this place is so you it hurts. The place is buzzing and with live music all afternoon, it's the perfect space to spend a Saturday afternoon.



Based in Maboneng, we spent quite a lot of time exploring the area. Maboneng is described as 'an urban neighbourhood where residents, businesses and visitors are part of a growing tribe connecting the heart and essence of the city of Joburg'. Patrolled by security, it is perfectly safe to walk around freely and in it, you will find bars, cafes, restaurants, markets, shops, art, music and much much more.

Perception

Johannesburg has bad connotations overhanging it. After years of being named the most dangerous city in the world, and listed in the top 7 most unsafe cities around the globe, it's difficult to shift those perceptions. Prior to leaving for South Africa, my friend and I were 'warned' about Johannesburg ad whilst in Cape Town we were asked why the flipping heck would you leave here for 'dirty Joburg'. Before arriving in Johannesburg, I asked myself that too but now? Now it's one of the best places I've visited on this trip.



I remember a few months ago, a photo of a wild lion walking down a street in the inner city with the caption 'Joburg' went viral on Twitter with people marvelling at how dangerous that place must really be. Now I'm not for one second saying it's the safest place in the entire world and you can walk anywhere at any time of day waving your gadgets round but what I am saying is that a little more perspective is needed.

That photo was in fact taken on a movie set. Because actually, Johannesburg doesn't have wild animals aimlessly strolling down the city's streets but how wildly unhelpful are tweets like that, what message is that sending.

Just as you wouldn't stroll around areas of London or New York or Sydney with your gadgets flying everywhere, you exert that same caution in Johannesburg. Of course there are certain areas that you don't go, but there are also areas, aka Maboneng, where you can go, and you can eat and drink and laugh and dance and have a really fabulous time.

I'm so glad I gave Johannesburg a chance because I truly had the best time there, I really did love it.

It's something I never thought I'd say but hey, it's somewhere I never thought I'd go and now? Well now, I'm planning a return visit...


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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The ultimate food guide to Seminyak, Bali

When you first think about Bali, you basically think of paradise beaches, with the crystal blue waters and the white sand beaches, right? I mean, whilst it is true that you can find that in Jimbaran Bay, other areas are a little disappointing and honestly, Bali has left me a tad underwhelmed. 

Something that didn't leave me underwhelmed though was the food because oh boy, it was good. We had some particularly unfavourable, and locally unexpected weather whilst in Seminyak therefore really, what else is there to do but eat when it's raining? 

(That's a rhetorical question which neither me or my waistline would like to hear any answers too, thank you.)

Here are a few of my favourite places we visited whilst in Seminyak - enjoy and get hungry!


The Coffee Library




Located in the heart of Seminyak, The Coffee Library is effortlessly cool and the perfect place to lunch with friends. With delicious salads (I know, who am I?) and mouth watering fruit juices, it really is a great little cafe to spend a lunch or three - and the prices are pretty fab too!

Jalan Kayu Aya No 50,
Kabupaten Badug,


Revolver



As one of the most popular places for coffee in Seminyak, you definitely need to be heading here for your caffeine fix. Whilst I would highly recommend the smashed avocado and eggs (so insta basic), the service leaves a lot to be desired so maybe choose to visit here when you have time to sit back and relax.

JL. Kayu Aya No3
Kuta Utara, 
Kabupaten Badung,


The Fat Turtle



One of my favourite places we had lunch at, The Fat Turtle is a quaint little place, offering all day breakfasts with a twist and to die for coffee. I chose the poached eggs on toast with pulled pork and lime hollandaise sauce and holy moly, it was good. If you're looking for a cute but affordable place to eat, this is your best bet.

Jl Petitenget No 886A,
Kuta Utara,
Kabupaten Badung,


Pison



Tucked away from the main street, you wouldn't be blamed for walking past this place without noticing its existence. With books stacked along the walls, the option to chill out on sofas and comfy armchairs or at a table and plug sockets a plenty, this is ideal for those of you wanting to work on your laptop over a (gorgeous) coffee.

Jl Petitenget No. 8A, 
Kuta Utara, 
Kabupaten Badung, 


Motel Mexicola



This place! THIS PLACE. Not only do they do a mean old taco which will be sure to be met with pure satisfaction from your tummy and an interesting tomato juice and tequila shot which...perhaps will be met with a little more resistance, this place is basically where its at if you're hella up for a late night wailing away to some classic tuuuuunes. And even if you're not, you're guaranteed to hear this place from about 3 miles away!

Jl. Kayu Jati No 9, 
Seminyak,
Kabupaten Badung, 


Potato Head Beach Club



One of the most popular beach bars in Bali, a day spent at Potato Head Beach Club is a day well spent. If you're wanting a a sun bed, you need to get there for 9-9:30am and if you succeed, you'll be set up for a day of pure heaven with waiter service making you feel like royalty. There's even a bar within the pool itself and if that doesn't sound like paradise then I don't know what does, I truly don't. Not a place if you're on a very tight budget, but worth saving up for without a doubt.

Jl. Pentitenget No. 51B,
Seminyak,
Kabupaten Badung,

Grocer and Grind



Whether you want to grab a quick drink or snack, have lunch or set up shop for the day with work on your laptop, Grocer and Grind is the place to go. Every meal is prepared to order, ensuring it consists of, and tastes of, only the freshest ingredients. Not super cheap but in no way will it break the bank. Has also been voted one of the best cafes in Bali - pretty good going, right...

Can be found all over the island!


Merah Putih





Merah Putih is fancy with a capital F and whilst it might make your bank balance weep a teeny tiny bit, the food, service and interior environment is difficult to fault in any way. The staff were also really fabulous about my friend's nut allergy and put her completely at ease straight away - always a good sign in any restaurant.

Jalan Petitenget No. 100x
Kerobokan,
Kuta Utara, 
Badung,


Kim Soo Cafe


This little beauty has been merely opened a week and it's already got things down to an absolute T. With stunning clean white interiors, home to one of the best coffees we tried in Bali, with really reasonable prices, it's definitely not one to be missed (it also has fabulous air conditioning FYI).

Jl Kayu Aya 21,
Seminyak


Ginger Moon



With a relaxed atmosphere, Ginger Moon is the place to go if you want quality food in a casual setting. Serving Asian and Chinese food with a funky twist, you'll be sure to find something on their menu which you've simply never heard of before, and of course the fun begins when you order it!

Jl. Kayu Aya No 7, 
Seminyak,
Kabupaten Badung, 
Bali


If you find yourself in...

Ubud

Watercress



Watercress is an upmarket, open air cafe, with a huuge breakfast menu served all the live long day. Whilst I wasn't a fan of Ubud itself, I was a big fan of this place, in particular the baked chorizo eggs.

Jl Monkey Forest, 
Ubud


If you find yourself in...

Jimbaran Bay

Lia Cafe



Jimbaran Bay is my favourite place in Bali - it really is exactly what you think of when you imagine the 'paradise island'. Whilst some areas have lost their local touch, Jimbaran has managed to retain it for now, and all the better it is for it too. Along Jimbaran beach, you'll find a long line of local seafood restaurants and Lia cafe really is the best place to be for sunset.  We ordered a seafood platter which included lobster, crab, clams and prawns along with the soup to start with, vegatables and rice to go with the fish, watermelon to finish and even two Bintang beers - all for £15pp! A fab price really to think you practically pick which lobster, crab etc that you would like and there it arrives, on your plate.

Jalan Pemelisan Agung,
Jimbaran,
Kuta Selatan,
Kabupaten Badung


Okay yep, sat in Perth writing this, extremely hungry... Where are the Tim Tams?


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