20.3.17

Villa Life @ The Amala

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During my recent trip to Indonesia it was a pleasure to stay with the beautiful people at The Amala in Seminyak. I picked it as it was not too far from Eat Street (probably the main attraction in Seminyak because, you know, food!) but it was also a super convenient spot when travelling around the area while trying to fit everything in! 

The Spa Villa was something else! After a short stroll down a serene pathway lined with bamboo the villa offers a private oasis in the middle of busy Seminyak. My favourite features included the plunge spa pool in the middle of the villa for a quick cool off, the open air bathroom area and breakfast delivered to our villa every morning. 

While on the topic of food I thought I'd recommend a few new places I visited while in Seminyak! First up is BOSS MAN burgers - up there with one of the best burgers I've ever had (yes that's saying a lot! I've had plenty of burgers all over the globe) and I also recommend their Mac N Cheese balls. Another one was Corner House Bali which has replaced an old cafe since I was in Seminyak last time - I rather enjoyed their cocktails and the vegetarian ravioli. Of course there are also the hotspots in Seminyak - La Favela and Motel Mexicola - both I would definitely recommend for dinner or a late night boogie! 


emma

14.3.17

HEX

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I've just returned from a dreamy trip to Bali and the Gili islands in Lombok! It was my second time visiting the party island of Gili T however the last time I was there I believe I was underage and therefore not taking full advantage of what that blissful place has to offer. If you didn't notice the sunset photo above I urge you to look again and see exactly what it offers (hint: actual magic). 

Days were spent cycling along the beach and soaking up the sun in hammocks built in the shallows of the tropical waters along the beach, while nights were spent downing cocktails at sunset accompanied by the soundtrack of a drum circle then cycling into town to enjoy live music (shout out to Sama Sama - the place to be).

We stayed in a hotel that was completely pink which happened to perfectly match my new hexagon shades via VisionDirectAU. I'd definitely recommend the hexagon style to anyone who's still loving their circle shades but need a fresh change - that's why I chose them (plus light sunglasses like these are great to travel with). More from my trip to come soon! 

emma

30.1.17

JAPAN: Tohoku Region

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The year of 2016 held an endless string of unexpected - but incredible - experiences for me and one of them was visiting Japan! I've always wanted to visit Japan but in the past it seemed like one of those places that was a little out of the way. I ended up spending almost 3 weeks travelling Japan from the north in the Tohoku region all the way to the far south island of Okinawa. 

My first week touring the Tohoku region in the north began in Aomori where we spent a couple days visiting Hirosaki Castle, Oirase Stream, inspecting a series of traditional onsens (Japanese hot spring & bathing facilities), dressing up in kimonos, frolicking (or sometimes freezing) in the fresh powder snow and feasting on traditional dishes. Also during that time we were lucky enough to stay a night in a beautiful Ryokan (Japanese style inn) with sliding Japanese doors, fresh tea in our rooms and our beds set out on the floor after dinner which we attended wearing our hotel robes following a soak in the steaming onsen. That next morning I woke up early, put on my robe, poured a cup of matcha tea and watched the snow fall over the mountains from my cosy bay window seat. Magically memorable to say the least. 

As we travelled south away from the snow we explored Chusonji Temple and the surrounding grounds in the sunshine, ate ramen ordered from a vending machine and snuggled under a heated table in a river boat as we cruised through the 50 m cliffs of Geibi Gorge. Before travelling down towards Tokyo to continue my journey south we climbed the mountainside to Yamadera temple which features sweeping views of the mountains and Japanese countryside. I left the region feeling particularly lucky to have the chance to explore an area off-the-beaten-track and see different aspects of Japanese culture that may be overlooked in the more highly populated or visited areas in this unique country. I feel like I've skipped over so many details from this first week in Japan so I'll also be working on a video for my youtube channel (here) - subscribe and keep an eye out!


emma

12.12.16

ASIAN ADVENTURE - The Travel Project

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A little over a month ago I set off a new adventure with a twist. I was off to South East Asia with Contiki to document life on the Mekong river for The Travel Project.

We made our start in bustling Bangkok! We spent a day exploring the city and getting to know our new travel buddies. In the evening we boarded a sleeper train to make our overnight journey to north Thailand and arrived in Chiang Mai in the morning. While in Chiang Mai we had a cooking class and learnt to make Pad Thai, sticky rice and curry. 

 Next stop was Chiang Rai where we saw the amazing white temple; Wat Rong Khun. We also visited some of the hill tribes in northern thailand. At first it was a little daunting but once you get talking to some of the people there you can learn a lot. Among the tribes were the Karen Long Neck tribes who have historically lived on the Myanmar side of the Thai border – however thousands have had to flee over the decades due to political unrest. The women wear heavy brass rings around their necks, arms and shins. It might seem that the Karen women have long necks but their traditional rings actually push down their shoulders and rib cage to make it seem like its longer. 

 After crossing the border into Laos the next couple days were spent cruising down the Mekong on our own private boat – stopping overnight in Pak Beng. About 40% of the Mekong river flows through Laos and 75% of the jobs in Laos are in agriculture – therefore people rely on the Mekong for their crops and livelihood. The scenery in Laos was captivating. 

 We ended our river cruise in the UNESCO town of Luang Prabang World Heritage Site – needless to say it was completely picturesque and swimming with culture and good vibes. We set off on a bike ride around town and met an elderly man alongside the Mekong river selling Snake Whisky aka Mekong Moonshine! This snake infused alcohol is given out in shot form and is supposed to help with strength (especially men … in the bedroom). We spent the night eating great food with a fantastic view of the river and then took full advantage of the cheap spirits at the bowling alley (yep, you read that right .. bowling. A weird MUST in Luang Prabang). The next day our local Contiki guide Dua was kind enough to take us to his home & show us his beautiful butterfly farm. He usually has over 1000 butterflies in the garden farm which he sits in of a morning with his children for tea and viewing the butterflies hatch from cocoons. In the afternoon we spent a few hours swimming in the famous milky green water at the Kuang Si Waterfalls followed by an evening strolling through the night markets. 

 Our last morning in Luang Prabang we woke at 5am to participate in one of the most sacred Lao traditions – the Buddhist Alms Giving Ceremony as the sun rises. We were given rice in a small basket which is a common offering for the monks who depart from their temples to gather their daily meal from locals and travellers giving alms. 

 After a spiritual morning we set off in the bus to Vang Vieng! It was probably my favourite stop on the trip – (very) closely followed by Luang Prabang! Vang Vieng is a small but lively town alongside a river and surrounded by stunning mountains. You could say it was a bit of a backpackers town and I fully understand why so many people visit and never want to leave! We spent a morning kayaking along the river, exploring some caves and interacting with locals along the way. In the afternoon we made our way to a river bar to relax to the max with our contiki family and fellow travellers. We had a couple hours in the sunshine till the heavens opened and started pouring. After 10 minutes taking shelter under the little bar deck we uttered a collective ‘f*ck it’ and spent the rest of the afternoon dancing out in the rain, downing bucketed and having the time of our lives till dusk arrived and we got in our tuk tuks back to town. 

 Unfortunately my adventure ended in Phnon Penh, Cambodia – however I had time to visit the killing fields and learn about the heartbreaking local history which was a humbling end to an unbelievably rewarding journey. 

 If you’ve enjoyed reading my story and think you’d like to share one of your own I encourage you to jump over contiki.com/sixtwo and share your story and become a contributor to The Travel Project community! A massive thanks to my friends (and absolute legends) at Contiki for taking me on an adventure of a lifetime. 

 emma