Tag: traveller

The bird, the monkey and the cockroach

The bird, the monkey and the cockroach

The Bali wildlife has been engaging us these last few days.

First a bird shat on me at breakfast from the tree above. A big red berry splat that landed on my arm and ricocheted onto Gab. Nothing that couldn’t be solved by all of our napkins, soap and water and a bucketload of sanitiser.

Plus I hear this is meant to be good luck.

Later that day at Uluwatu Temple, as Gab sat minding her own business, a monkey stole her sunglasses from the top of her head. We had been warned about the monkeys, and instructed to remove earrings, hats, sunglasses, scarves and necklaces, and hang on tightly to our phones and bags. Poor Gab was just distracted by another monkey stealing something from another tourist, obviously a diversionary tactic.

Bad luck for Gab, but solved with a little fruit bribery by a local.

And then there was the cockroach.

Now I wasn’t there for the cockroach adventure, but much as I loathe cockroaches, perhaps it would have been better if I had been.

‘It was huge,’ said Gab telling me of her horror at finding a cockroach in the middle of her hotel door when she got back to her room.

‘How big in centimetres,’ I asked.

‘Oh, it was big,’ said Gab, ‘enormous. I couldn’t open my door, so I messaged Jen to come help.’

‘And I brought one of the hotel slippers from the room,’ Jen continued.

‘The thin towelling ones? Why didn’t you bring a proper shoe?’ A thong even? Mortal enemy of the cockroach?’

‘So I had this slipper,’ Jen continued, ignoring my question.

‘No, wait, out of all the things in your room, you thought a flimsy slipper was your best bet? What did you even do with the slipper?’

‘I threw it at the cockroach!’


‘It missed and kind of just fluttered to the ground,’ said Jen, fluttering her hands to demonstrate, ‘like a piece of paper.’

‘Or a flimsy slipper,’ I muttered.

‘So we tried throwing it again,’ Gab picked up the story, ‘but we couldn’t even hit the door with it. Have you ever tried to throw one of those slippers?’

‘No. And the cockroach?’

‘Didn’t move.’

‘And yet you didn’t think to go back and get a decent sized shoe to smack the thing with?’

‘So instead of throwing the slipper,’ Jen went on as if I hadn’t spoken, ‘we thought we’d tap on the door with it, see if we could get the cockroach to scurry away. Tap, tap, tap,’ Jen started acting out tapping on a hotel door with a paper slipper. In case I was confused. I was, but it wasn’t over how one might tap on a door.

‘So how did all that tapping work out for you?’

‘It moved!’ said Gab triumphantly, ‘but just up the door a bit more.’

‘To get further away from the crazy women with the paper slipper perhaps.’

‘So then we didn’t know what to do. We’d exhausted all of our options.’

‘You certainly had,’ I agreed, ‘after all, if you can’t solve your cockroach crisis with a hotel slipper, I don’t know what’s going to work.’

‘We called security!’

Two of the strongest, most capable women I know overcome by a paralysis of incompetence.

‘And then they arrived in hazmat suits…’

‘Really,’ I said, ‘hazmat suits. Exactly how many drinks did you have?’

‘….and plucked the cockroach from the door. Finally I could get into my room.’

‘Thank goodness for security,’ said Jen.

‘Thank goodness,’ I repeated.

‘You should have been there,’ said Gab, shaking her head as she relived the relief at being able to finally access her room.

Maybe I should have. I guess it’s good luck for me that I wasn’t.

Spare a thought

Spare a thought

I was thinking to ask you all to spare a thought for Jen.

Every day she has had to endure Gab and me sweeping triumphantly from our rooms to declare ‘I made this!’

This is followed by oohs and aahs, some touching and pirouetting and then an intense discussion on the insertion of pockets, where the fabric was sourced, any pattern adjustments we’ve made and how we might make the garment longer/shorter/lighter next time.

But then last night Jen swept triumphantly from her own room, declaring ‘I bought this!’

She certainly had. She was head to toe in her purchases – headband, stunning dangling earrings, even bigger pendant, fun colourful holiday jumpsuit. And a gleam in her eye – game on.

Please spare a thought for Gab and me.



‘I really didn’t come to Bali to shop,’ said Jen as we wandered aimlessly around the nearby shopping precinct, ‘I don’t need a new wardrobe.’

‘Same,’ I replied, ‘or souvenirs or anything.’

‘I know, right,’ Gab agreed, ‘we’re not here for shopping.’

‘This shop looks nice, do you want to just have a browse around?’


‘Look at this cushion. No look at this cushion. Look at them together!’ Two cushions!’

‘And this dress! Look at this dress! You could have a cushion AND MATCHING DRESS!’

‘How beautiful are these bowls?’

‘So beautiful. I love this one.’

‘I love THIS one. So beautiful.’

‘Over here, have you seen the sarongs?’

‘Not yet, but have you seen the peacocks?’

‘PEACOCKS?! Oh my God they’re so beautiful.’

‘Oh, look, these dresses are gorgeous. Look at this one! No, look at this one! Oh, look at this one! I LOVE THEM ALL.’

‘Have we seen these shirts already?’

‘Maybe? Is this still the same shop?’

‘Look at this. No seriously look at this. LOOK AT THIS!’

‘Is this a bird? This is a bird. I would definitely buy this.’

‘This shop is never ending. Where’s Jen?’

‘I don’t know. Where are we? Where did we come in? I LOVE THIS FABRIC!’

‘It’s beautiful. Touch it!


‘It comes in a bag! The bag is beautiful!’

‘Where’s the front door? I can no longer see the outside. Ooh, these shorts are cute.’

‘So cute. These giraffes are cute.’

‘So cute.’

‘There’s Jen.’

‘Where’s Gab?’

‘She was just here. Oh my God, that top would look amazing on you.’

‘It comes in a dress too.’



‘Oh, I haven’t seen these pants before. Hey, are we in the same shop?’

‘There’s Gab.’

‘We’re definitely lost. Wait, look at this gorgeous fabric, look at the beautiful box it comes in. LOOK AT IT!’



‘There’s the exit.’

‘Ok you wait outside, I’ll go back and find Jen.’

‘Jen, there you are OH MY GOD LOOK AT THESE SARONGS.’

‘Beautiful. Here’s that beautiful shirt again.’

‘Ooh, and the dress.’

‘These shorts, they’re so soft! LOOK! LOOK! So blue!’

‘So beautiful.’

‘Where’s Gab?’

‘Oh I forgot, she’s outside.’

‘Here’s the exit, here’s Gab.’

‘We should come back here tomorrow, I could use a new wardrobe.’

‘We definitely should.’




I’ve been to Bali too

I’ve been to Bali too

I cannot believe it, but I am going to Bali.

I always said I had no interest in going to Bali. I was no longer a carefree backpacker, I have mostly given up partying like it’s 1999 and I have curbed my enthusiasm for riding scooters and buying batik. Yet here I am at the airport, waiting for a flight to Bali.

There are three of us going on this holiday. Jen, Gab, me.

You may remember Disco Jen from such posts as The Entourage. She is mad strong and helped me hoist kettlebells back when we used to do things like hoist kettlebells.

You may remember Gab from such posts as Gab’s issues. She is mad skilled at attracting travel drama, and is almost certainly the cause of Madonna and my cancelled flights to New Zealand.

I offered Gab and Jen at least twelve beaches and islands that we might visit as an alternative, but they were pretty keen on Bali. Jen reminded me that we are adults and we don’t have to stay in hostels and we don’t have to go to party central. We can find a beautiful beach, visit the gorgeous mountains, eat the fabulous food and wind our way through the more peaceful sights of Bali. We can relax, swim, read, eat, shop, visit day spas and just hang out in the sun with one another.

It was a pretty convincing argument.

So I have dusted off my shells and beads, packed my shorts and frocks and am on my way to Bali, with almost zero preparation.

Actually I lie, we’ve done a little bit of prep. Gab and I have filled all of our spare time sewing outfits for around the pool. Jen has sent multiple TikTok Bali tips to the group chat.

And Gab broke her ankle. Because, you know, Gab’s issues.

In search of blue cod

In search of blue cod

We wanted to go out for lunch on our last day in New Zealand. We decided on a seafood restaurant because people kept raving to us about blue cod. Ok, so it was Eric, Eric raved about blue cod.

So I googled seafood restaurants in Christchurch, chose one with a nice looking menu and picked a random time that we might rock up after driving from Arthur’s Pass.

Turns out this restaurant wasn’t exact in Christchurch. It was on the outskirts of Christchurch. And when you have no internet and the GPS in the car won’t work, you have to memorise where this restaurant might be and hope like hell you’re driving in the right direction.

We were sandwiched between semi-trailers the entire way, slowing us down and hiding all road signs, but we finally found ourselves approaching the village. As we rounded the corner, the whole port was spread out in front of us. Rail lines, container ships, cranes, semi-trailers loaded with logs. Rocks, noise, dust.

The trucks surrounding us peeled off down a dirt road in behind a ramshackle structure overlooking all the port activity. The building looked as though any minute a stiff breeze would knock it into the ocean. Worn boards held it together, there were no windows and nothing adorned it. It sat by itself on the side of the road – no shops, cafes, nothing. And no sign of human activity anywhere.

There was a hand written sign out the front stating ‘Chef wanted’.

‘That’s our restaurant,’ I said to Don.

We kept driving right past that old building and around the block, looking at other options. But there wasn’t much else, and we’d booked, so we thought what the hell.

As we walked up the street we could finally see the back part of the restaurant, and it was packed. People laughing, drinking, eating. The food smells as we entered were incredible. We were given the best table and champagne was brought immediately. If we hadn’t had our hearts set on blue cod we would have had difficulty choosing from the amazing menu. And when our lunches arrived, oh my God, that blue cod was indeed delicious. The potatoes were golden, the herb butter sauce light and tasty, the salad fresh.

It had turned out to the perfect choice of restaurant.

I can’t even imagine what it’ll be like when they find a chef.

In love with glaciers

In love with glaciers

We have arrived at the west coast – New Zealand glacier country!

People have often asked me what’s the best thing I’ve ever seen in my travels, and forever I have answered Svartisen Glacier in Norway.

Australia has a lot of things to offer, but it’s the only continent that doesn’t have glaciers. I can’t even begin with glaciers. They’re just so magnificent – kilometres high, solid and beautiful. Powerful and tangible reminders of how lands were formed. They’ve ever so slowly bulldozed their way through the continents, and crept backwards, leaving new landscapes in their wake. Wikipedia calls them persistent!

I walked on Fox Glacier during that first New Zealand tour, but I’m not sure I recognised the significance of a glacier at the time. I don’t think you can fully appreciate the might of a glacier until you stand in front of the sheer wall of ice at its face. We were lucky enough to walk right up to Svartisen Glacier, to see inside to the ice crystals and shards, to touch the retreating cliff face. It was an extraordinary experience.

We walked up the South side walk to Fox Glacier today. The end of the trail is several kilometres from the glacier, but we could see the ice and snow solid and unmoving at the top of the valley between the mountains. Even from a distance it was spectacular; we stood there for ages just watching it, unwilling to turn and walk back to the car. Then we were on to Franz Josef, where we only caught a glimpse before clouds obscured our view.

Perhaps we’ll try Franz Josef again in the morning. Perhaps I just don’t want to leave glacier country; because glaciers continue to be one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

It’s our wedding anniversary and what a fabulous day we’ve had cruising Milford Sound. This is New Zealand’s most famous fjord; deep blue green water, towering mountains and cliffs and spectacular waterfalls. We had endless blue sky and sunshine and were lucky enough to see dolphins and seals. Perfect.

Our driver and tour guide, Eric, was superb. It was quite a long journey to Milford Sound, around five hours in total, and Eric’s commentary was on point. We learnt about the tectonic plates, the history of the land and lakes around Queenstown, the different sheep and cattle being farmed in the area. Volcanoes and their current risks, the elusive yet charming hermit graziers, the poisonous tutu berries, New Zealand freesias, how Shania Twain bought up land in New Zealand. The gold rush and the crazy, failed scheme to dam the lake and expose the gold.

Yes, Eric was knowledgeable, friendly, funny and informative. He told some great stories and was very entertaining. And this was some feat, because we were a tough audience.

‘This hill was featured in Lord of the Rings’ he said as we headed out of Queenstown, ‘is anybody into Lord of the Rings?’


‘Ok, nobody? That’s ok we can talk about the glacier that formed this peak.’

‘Has anybody visited Glenorchy yet?’ he asked as we drove around Lake Wakatipu.

Silence. some shaking of heads.

‘No? Ok I highly recommend a visit.’

‘Has anybody experienced a hāngī yet? Eaten meat cooked the traditional hāngī method?’

We all shook our heads, no.

‘Anybody into fishing? Fly fishing?’ he asked hopefully a little later.

No. Nobody was into fly fishing, or had even tried fly fishing.

‘There really is some great trout fishing around the South Island,’ he persevered and went on to regale us with his adventurous fishing exploits.

‘Does anybody play tennis?’ he asked as we drove through Te Anau, home of the annual Tennis Invitational.

‘Anybody know about Lake Taupo?’

‘Does anybody trek?’

No, no and no. By this stage he must have been thinking he’d picked up the fifteen of the most boring tourists in Queenstown.

‘Is anybody a singer?’

This really is where we should have piped up, but honestly we were way past that point by now.

Our apparent lack of hobbies or interests certainly didn’t deter Eric. Over the five hour drive to Milford Sound he told us some cracking stories, knew the history of every place we passed, the geology of the land and waterways and the names and uses of the plants and animals.

Then on the shorter journey home he let us choose songs that we sang at the top of our lungs all the way home.

Even though none of us were singers.

Road Trip New Zealand

Road Trip New Zealand

We’re going overseas!

Like everybody, it’s been a while. We’re visiting New Zealand’s South Island. Don’s never been to New Zealand other than one night in an Auckland motel when our flight to Chile was delayed. I’ve been three times. I went on a Contiki tour of the South Island many, many years ago when I was within the age bracket and frankly all I have from that are dim memories, blurry photos and a firm conviction that I shall never bungee jump. I’ve been to the North Island to run 10 kms and be rewarded at the finish line with a bottle of wine, and a few years ago I went on a girls’ trip to Waikiki Island to drink wine.

I sense a theme.

Our last overseas trip was India, back in January 2020, on the cusp of the pandemic, and already it’s obvious that I’m no longer match fit in the ways of international travel. Usually I do some research first, but I was so excited booking flights that the research was only secondary.

To start with, I booked our flights ages ago. So long ago that after I’d booked them I realised New Zealand wasn’t even open to tourists yet. Just a small hiccup, only rectified by my anxious scanning of websites and the passage of time.

Then I started researching things to do on the South Island, only to find that seeing everything on the South Island requires at least 143 days. We have seven. That’s ok, I’ve done some targeted planning to narrow down the itinerary to a few key places that have wine, cheese and penguins.

Only yesterday I researched expected temperatures, and was immediately down to Kathmandu for shoes and socks and anything else that might keep the heat in and the cold out. I already had two beannies on the packing list, but the ones I own are for Queensland winters, so it was then on to Spotlight where I bought balls of wool to give to Mum. She’s told me it takes her about a day to knit a beannie so she should get it done with time up her sleeve, even if she does have to deliver it to me at the airport. I have undergarments and overgarments, and am thinking I might need to practice layering before we leave. We should never forget how I go with dressing for the cold.

Don has a couple of t-shirts, a jacket and a beannie, and is wondering what all the fuss is about.

Despite the excess of clothes and the lack of research, we’ll be fine. There are mountains, lakes and glaciers to see, hot tubs to relax in and wine and cheese to consume.

Of course if Qantas loses our luggage, I’m screwed.

We now know everything

We now know everything

Today we crossed the border into Queensland, and soon the roadtrip will be over. Nat and her family will be Queenslanders.

Travel, it broadens the mind. We’ve had many discussions, conversations, investigations and questions over the past four days. And we turned to google for these most pressing questions….

– what are some fun facts about Ned Kelly?

– Parallel parking – what is it again?

– Is Uno (the card game) Spanish?

– If Uno is from Ohio, how do you pronounce Uno?

– Where is the nearest coffee/petrol/sandwich/McDonald’s?

– Can you drink your pee if you’re lost in the bush with no water?

– Can you get sunflower honey?

– What is the actual name of the song about the dog that sat on the tuckerbox?

– What’s the name of that song that goes down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico?

– How do you play Go Fish?

– What are the top things to do in Coonabarabran?

– What’s the story of Jimmy Governor and Dubbo Gaol?

– How do you play Old Maid?

– What are the real rules of Uno not the rules Goldie is explaining to us?

– What/where is the world famous six foot tall cow and is it really a cow or is Lulu just making it up?

– What is the price of cherries at Woolworths compared to the price we paid to pick them ourselves?

– Nicole Kidman – googled by Peppa, who knows why?

– Why are there so many flies?

Yes, our minds are certainly broadened. Yep, Uno – pronounced like the Spanish word for ‘one’.

Cherry picking

Cherry picking

On Day 2 of our roadtrip we went cherry picking in Wombat. Yes we did. And yes there is a place called Wombat.

It was pouring rain and cold, which I suspect are very good conditions for tromping around the hills picking cherries.

The old cherry farmer explained the pricing structure to us.

‘So it’s $15 per kilogram if you pick a kilogram but you have to guarantee you pick probably five or so kilograms each for all of you altogether and then we’ll weigh them and then you’ll pay per kilogram. Or you can pay $10 per person for the five of you and then you can pick as much as you want and then that’s yours. So what do you think?’

Nat and I just stared at each other.

‘We probably just want to pick this much,’ I said pointing to a box of cherries.

‘Five boxes,’ said the farmer, ‘so that’s about 20kg.’

‘No, not each, just one box total please!’

‘Ok, we’ll it’s best you just pay $10 each. That’s $40.’

‘There are five of us.’

‘Yep. $40.’

So we paid our $40, took two white buckets and headed out into the rain. A young boy gave us a quick lesson on how to pick a cherry, pointed into the distant hills and told us that’s where the best cherries are.

It was still raining, and we were wearing thongs and Birkenstocks, but we were determined to go where the best cherries were. For about a kilometre we slid through the mud, sank into mud puddles, slipped down hills, and slipped backwards trying to go up hills, all the while shrieking and clutching each other’s arms as we tried to reach the utopia of cherry trees.

We picked two bucketloads of lush, plump cherries, probably ate a kilogram between us, and then back into the mud we went, down to the farmhouse, where another young boy wanted to weigh our cherries and charge us even more.

‘No, we had the family deal,’ Nat was saying as I slid to a halt next to her.

The old farmer wandered up at that moment, assessing our efforts.

‘Looks like we owe you $10,’ he said.


‘You can go collect $10 from the house over there,’ he pointed to a shed up another hill.


‘No, that’s ok,’ said Nat, backing away towards the car with our enormous bag of cherries.

So now we have five kilograms of Wombat cherries and a bag of wet muddy shoes stuffed into the last available space in the car.

What fun!