Rice Fields & Swings in Ubud (Bali) – 21st August 2022

This morning we had breakfast at the our resort’s Deeva Restaurant. (By the way, anything I highlight is usually a link to whatever the place is I mentioned)

We started off with fresh fruit, a home made bread selection basket and a couple of Pineapple Juices. They didn’t have a buffet so we ordered off their menu. I got the scrambled eggs with a side of tomato, sausage and potato hash brown. Nathan got something similar but I didn’t rate the food that highly. I found the portions very small and simple and to be honest – a little underwhelming.

We had organised a driver to take us around Ubud for the day as we wanted to see a few temples, waterfalls and rice-fields while we were in the area. Surya from Bali Customized Tours was waiting in our lobby at 8:00am to take us on our adventure which I had booked prior to arriving in Bali.
First stop was the Tegallalang Rice Terraces which is the most popular rice field in Ubud.  As it’s located on a high roadside, the fields are nice and cool and breezy – a well-known spot for tourists to stop and take photos. I’m happy we went early in the morning as we did a bit of walking up and down steps which would have been way hotter in the afternoon. The rice terraces also have great Bali photo opportunities which we definitely took advantage of! Thankfully our tour guide Surya was a pro on the camera and took some great snaps.
I presume over the years, Balinese tour guides have been trying hard to up-skill themselves so they stand out from other tour guides. With the rise of social media and everyone taking photos, you can really tell that they’ve spent a lot of time learning how to take amazing photos on your phone.

We learnt that the soil in Bali as well as the humid tropical climate is great for growing rice. All the crops are watered from a Subak system which is the water management system in Bali. As rice is seen as the gift of god, and the Subak system is part of temple culture. Water from springs and canals flows through the temples and out onto the rice paddy fields which Balinese communities jointly help to manage as they are working together for the good of the community instead of thinking of the individual farmer. As there is a lot of water and muddy areas, I wouldn’t recommend walking around the rice fields if you don’t have good fitness as the path is uneven and slippery due to the mud and water.

While we were at the Rice Fields, I did one of the famous Rice Terrace Swings (AUD$20 per person).
A little bucket list item to tick off, however I definitely didn’t get any amazing photos hahaha! Was just a fun little experience to do.

After we’d finished at the Rice Fields, we went and saw a couple of Temples.

A little learning for you all – In Balinese culture they follow Hinduism. Hinduism has five pillars of faith:

  • belief in one Supreme God
  • belief in the soul as the universal principle of life and consciousness
  • belief in the process of reincarnation
  • belief in the fruition of one’s deeds and
  • belief in ultimate release, unity with God

Reincarnation in Bali is usually within the family, so every newborn baby is believed to have one of the ancestors’ soul. When it comes to Karma, what you give is what you get. You bring your karma from your past life into the present life and will take karma from this life to your future one – your next reincarnation. Our tour guide was explaining that’s why Balinese always try and do good things in life so they can have a good ‘next life’
After death, your soul passes to another body, but is always seeking to free itself from incarnation so that it can attain enlightenment – the unity with the God. When a person dies, but its soul has not yet achieved this state, it continues with the incarnations.

If you ever come to visit Bali, you must see at least one of the temples. And if you come during a big ceremony, you’ll witness the crowd of people dressed in white or colourful traditional clothes, bringing plenty of offerings made mostly of food, fruit and flowers. After they place the offerings, they sit together and follow the praying ritual led by a priest.

After learning more about the way Balinese people are and how they’re so spiritual throughout their every day life, it really made us understand why they’re all so kind, welcoming and hospitable. You get bad people in every country, however I find Balinese to be some of the friendliest people – especially compared to other places I’ve been to in South East Asia.

After the temples, we went and saw one of the waterfalls in Bali! Probably the most famous one in Ubud – Tegenungan Waterfall which is located in a tropical jungle. Our tour guide said this was one of the smaller waterfalls but lots of people come to visit it.
If you’re looking at visiting some other waterfalls in Bali, I’ve read Sekumpul Waterfall in Singaraja is one of the most beautiful waterfalls but is a tough trek to get to. Otherwise Aling-Aling Waterfall in Sambangan is a natural water slide Waterfall. The waterfall falls from a steep cliff and is surrounded by lush jungle. It’s about 35m long which you can slip and slide down. The journey to get there can be a little tiresome, with treks across rice fields and up and down many steps but I see it in lots of TikTok videos so it must be worth it!

I highly recommend going to the Omma Day Club if you’re in Ubud for the day and don’t want to do anything too strenuous. They day club is situated right next to the Tegenungan waterfall so you can have a couple of drinks while you watch the 25 meter waterfall cascade into the pool below!
I really wanted to chill at the day club however we ran out of time on this particular day 😦 oh well – next time!

By this stage, I had seen two temples, a waterfall, rice paddies and done about 300 sets of stairs haha. I was getting hot and kind of just wanted to go and get lunch and chill back at our resort for a bit. We asked out driver Surya if he could take us to one more place and then drop us off somewhere for lunch. He agreed so we headed to our last stop, a traditional Balinese compound where we saw how the locals lived.

The Kitchen

The Balinese traditional compound is basically divided into three parts on which each part has a different purpose. The holy structures like shrines are built at the mountain side of the compound, in the middle of the yard you’ll find all the living structures and in the direction of the sea is where the kitchen is.

The kitchen is usually shared by the family’s married children if they all live together. However if the parents are more well-off, than the children are provided with a new compound in another village. Water is taken from the wells in the compound if it’s available, if not they take water from a nearby stream or natural spring. They also have no special dining room and just eat wherever and whenever they feel like it. When we turned up, the family that lived there was spoon-feeding some type of mushy liquid that looked like baby-food to what looked like a small bird. I’m not sure what it was but our tour guide tried explaining it saying it was some type of small animal that fell from a tree that the man was now looking after. Interesting?..

If you do any tour in Ubud they’ll be happy to take you to a Balinese Compound. You just pay a small donation while you’re there which goes to the family.

After the compound, we asked Surya to take us to an ATM as we were running out of cash. He stopped somewhere and I went with Nathan to get about AUD$300 out from the machine. The cash was ejected but when it came time to take the card, it wouldn’t come out. You could see the machine was trying to push the card out but it was stuck. I tried getting it with my long fingernails but I still couldn’t reach. In the end the machine swallowed the card and Nathan had to block the card on his banking app. Weirdly enough, I had such a gut feeling this was going to happen on our trip. When I was packing my suitcase before we left I thought to myself, I wonder if I bring one credit card or two…. I decided on two as I just knew something was going to happen to one of our cards.

Good thing to note, always make sure to use an ATM in Bali that’s attached to a Bank. Or just bring two separate bank cards incase this happens to you.

Our driver was super apologetic! (Not that it was his fault) and offered to call the bank for us. Even took pictures of the Machine and the location of where it was so we could follow it up. To be honest, we weren’t overly concerned. The card was blocked and Nathan moved the money out of the account just on the off chance the card was skimmed. Just meant we had to use our Credit Cards to withdraw money for the rest of the trip.
Luckily most places in Bali take card anyways. All the hotels and resorts will take card, as well as the restaurants, day clubs, day spas, at the shopping malls etc… The only time you’d use cash is if you were shopping at the markets, paying cash to your driver or getting a cheap massage or spa treatment where it makes sense to just pay in cash.

After the card incident, Surya dropped us off at Melali for lunch which was only a 2 minute walk from our resort (I didn’t even know this until we got there) but it made it easy as we ended the tour there and told Surya we’d walk back to our accommodation without him having to wait around for us. We paid USD$35 each for the day tour which I thought was pretty reasonable especially for all the driving around he did for us and the great pictures he took haha!

I ordered a Falafel Wrap for lunch and Nathan got Beer-battered Fish & Chips as well as a Chorizo flat-bread pizza from Melali. So good! I highly recommend this place if anyone is staying in Ubud. The staff are also really lovely 🙂 Great prices too, we paid around AUD$30 for all of this.

When we’d finished our meals, we headed back to our resort and had a little swim in our private pool!

Even though Bali is warm, Ubud is a bit cooler so I didn’t last very long in the pool as I was too cold haha! We had the afternoon free and my hair felt like it needed a wash so I Googled the somewhere in Ubud to find if there were any hairdressers nearby. Unfortunately all the ones with good reviews were either closed as it was Sunday or booked up for the day.

I eventually found a day spa called Fresh Spa Ubud and they had good reviews so I booked in for a Wash & Blow-Wave at their blow-bar for AUD$20 and a Gel Pedicure AUD$39 for that afternoon.
After quickly having a shower I ordered a Gojek and got to the spa around 4pm.
The spa looked cute when I walked in with all the chairs set up nicely looking out to the street. But had a slightly ‘cheap’ feel. As in, they were selling products on the shelves that you could tell had been sitting there for ages.

The ‘Blow-Bar’ they took me into was a room with two hairdressing stations but the basin to wash hair in was in the corner and was not very comfortable when I had my head in the sink. It was awkwardly close to one of the hairdressing stations too and I had my feet up on a swivel chair when my hair was getting washed haha! Not to mention my neck was hurting from the basin as it barely had any support.
It really only got worse from here, the hairdryer they used wasn’t the best so it felt like forever to blow dry my hair. They used no protectant product in my hair before they used any of the heat tools (however I must say maybe this is a Bali thing because I swear no place I went to put any serums or sprays in my hair before they used heat tools – which I find weird as don’t hairdressers go on about the heat protectant products being A MUST!??)
Once she finished blow drying my hair, she started to curl it with a flat iron (totally fine) however the iron was old so it wasn’t smooth and easy curls like your GHD or Cloud Nine Iron would be. I could just see my hair absolutely being FRIED in the mirror as she held my hair in the iron to make the curl then I watched as my hair got roughly dragged through the iron to finish the curl off! 😦 . Not to mention the smell! She got about two curls through before I thought to myself, maybe I should say something but I’m too polite so I just sat there and let my hair suffer. I think I kept just telling myself “you’re going to get new hair extensions for the wedding so saying goodbye to this hair isn’t the end of the world” I think if I’d just bought new hair I would have mentioned something. Anyways, the hair looked fine afterwards even if it felt like crusty toast haha.

Next were my toenails. Negative points for taking my previous gel polish off with a nail file (I’ve had this happen before and find it weird, Gel should really be soaked off. Not filed off) however the rest of the pedicure was fine. Not heaps of colors to choose from so I went with just a basic white but the equipment they used looked clean and the chairs they had were relaxing.

I probably would go back to this spa for my nails, but not for anything else.
I’ve read Rob Peetoom | Hair Spa in Ubud is meant to be the best for hair (They use Davines hair products) or Rasa Gaya Hair Studio (Davines, Keune, Sachajuan)

Nathan came and met me after my appointment as we were going to go and grab some dinner. We walked around Ubud markets for a bit first though and I did lots of bartering for a set of 4x wooden bowls and 1x wooden chopping board. In Ubud they sell lots of wooden items which I thought would look good in the new house we’re building. I went to about 5 different vendors before I got my bowls for the price of AUD$30 hahaha.
I do feel really bad though as one lady really wanted to sell me some bowls but she only had 3 in stock when I wanted to buy 4. I thought she’d just be able to get another bowl off someone else but she couldn’t and she started to look a bit upset frantically looking around everywhere for another one to make a sale. I suppose looking back I could have bought 3 off her and 1 from someone else but all the bowls were slightly different shades of wood.

Nathan was fretting I wouldn’t be able to bring the bowls and chopping board back into Australia as they were wood but we were absolutely fine. They’re pretty much the only things that took up room in my suitcase as I really didn’t buy much at all in Bali.

A little picture I found on the internet of some of the wooden things they had to buy at the markets

Once we’d done our shopping, we went to a little Mexican place called Taco & Grill Ubud for happy hour. We ordered some nachos to nibble on while we drunk our cocktails. I ordered the Vege Nachos so I assumed it would come with beans, salsa etc… but it came with cooked frozen vegetables (like peas and corn) with Avocado, salsa and cheese – super random!
After finishing our drinks (and probably getting a little tipsy) we walked to Milk & Madu for a proper dinner as they were doing 2-4-1 Pizzas.

I have no idea why we ordered a Large Pizza EACH as we were literally not even that hungry after our big lunch. I think when you’re in Bali you’re like ‘Oh wow the food is so cheap I’m going to order this and that and some of that’ and then you end up with far too much food. I ordered a Pineapple pizza called ‘The Pipeline’ that came with caramalized onions, ham and bacon while Nathan got the BBQ Chicken Pizza. We also ordered a side of this garlic bread loaf thing that was super tasty!

If you’re in Ubud, I highly recommend this place! If you follow them on Instagram you’ll find when they have all their deals (like 2-4-1 Pizza). We didn’t have breakfast there but the menu has lots to choose from like French Toast, Breakfast Burritos, Omlettes, Corn Fritters…. can you tell it’s lunch time as I’m writing this? *drool* I might have to go back when I’m in Bali in October. I know they also have a Cafe in Canggu and Berawa too.

After a few more drinks we ordered Gojek’s and had a slightly tipsy ride back to our accommodation. Of course knowing me when I drink I was fast asleep as soon as I got into bed haha!

Tomorrow – Spa Morning & Jimbaran

I Love Seattle! – April 2018

A very very late post about my trip to Seattle back in April!

Who realized how close to Vancouver the city of Seattle is!?

Well not me until I moved to Canada. In fact, I didn’t know much about the place apart from knowing Grey’s Anatomy was based in a hospital there.
(By the way, I have only just started watching all the seasons of Grey’s Anatomy! Bit late to the craze I know as it first aired in 2005!)

The original reason for our trip to Seattle was because my partner had a rugby game down there.
I made sure I had the weekend off work so I could drive down with him and see a little bit more of the USA.
Usually the rugby team just stays there for the day (as it’s around a 3 hour drive from Vancouver) but we decided to stay for the night.
Even though I only booked us a hotel the night before we stayed – we got a really good deal through my work! (Travel agent perks 😉 )

So on Saturday morning, Nathan, myself and his Irish team-mate Thomas left our place around 7am. The drive to the Boarder which separates Canada and Washington was actually pretty short. It’s the drive from the boarder down to Seattle that takes the longest time. It’s not an exciting drive either. Just motorways and some farms with the occasional food store and Walmart. (Okay I admit, I enjoyed the Walmart’s)

When we got into Seattle, we dropped Thomas off at the Rugby Field because he was playing an earlier game with another Vancouver team. As we hadn’t stopped for food yet, Nathan and I decided to drive around and find something to eat.
Unfortunately for us it was raining – I’m not meaning just a little drizzle either, it continuously poured with rain that whole first day we were there!
I actually didn’t research Seattle before I went but I’ve now found out it’s one of the rainiest cities in the USA. Seattle is right in the path of a weather pattern that brings in a lot of moisture off the Pacific Ocean, they get about 150 days of rain a year! Luckily it’s not always a heavy downpour, more of a light drizzle. Guess it’s similar to Vancouver in a way.

Out of all the fast-food joints we could have eaten at, we decided on a trusty McDonalds meal. Coming from New Zealand where I like to think our McDonalds beef and Chicken is somewhat hormone free, I don’t think this McDonalds was. There’s always that gross feeling inside of you when you eat meat from America coming from New Zealand as you imagine it’s just full of all these additives and bad things you’re putting into your body.

We scoffed it down anyways and then headed back to the fields so Nathan could start warming up for the rugby game.
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As the game didn’t start for about another hour, I headed back into the comfort of our car and drove back to the little city centre. We’d passed a Target store on the way to the fields and I really wanted to go and have a look.
Probably a bad idea as I ended up spending lots of money on homewares!!
I thought Vancouver had some decent shopping but America is just soo much better.

20180414_195643.jpgThere’s more stores to visit (eg, Target), the Walmart’s are much bigger and better, there’s more to choose from and so much variety of things to buy!
Even the Ben’n’jerry’s ice-cream in the grocery aisle at Target had about 15 more flavours than the local Safeway down from my house.

When I got to Target, I grabbed a trolley and ended up buying an ironing board that goes on your kitchen table (kind of useless now that I have it because it just moves around when I iron). I also bought an iron, some large pillows for our bed, this organic body wash, more jars for the kitchen and….I can’t actually remember what else. I just remember feeling really bad because I spent a lot of money and I didn’t bring my own reusable fabric grocery bags because the girl at the check-out had to double-bag like all my glass jars as she didn’t want them to break.

When I got outside, I quickly tried loading up the car as it was still raining. Suddenly this car pulls up behind me so I assumed the person just wanted my parking space. Next thing I know this guy jumps out and starts grabbing all my bags and putting them into my car for me. I thought ‘oh that’s so helpful, he’s probably just trying to hurry me up so he can get my parking space’
I said to him “Oh sorry! I’m trying to be quick, did you want my space?”
He replies “Are you single?” (Really direct I know)
“Uh no I have a boyfriend”
“Okay, are you from here?”
“Nah I’m not”
“Okay, yeah I do want your parking space”
And then proceeds to hop into his car and wait for me. I forgot how direct American guys are. They don’t shy away from just bluntly asking you out. Guess it’s saves all the guessing games!

Anyways, with the car all loaded, I drove back to the field to watch Nathan play rugby.
As it was raining, the fields were obviously very wet but I’m such a dedicated Girlfriend I stood in the rain under my umbrella (with my white shoes on may I add) to watch him play.
Unfortunately they lost and they had so many injuries in their team!
Nathan scored a try and came straight off the field as he hurt his hip so he didn’t even play a full game. Once you say you want to come off, you can’t go back on so he ended up standing with me the rest of the game in his dirty clothes and all soaked.

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Once the game was over, we headed to the hotel to check-in and so Nathan could have a shower.
We ended up staying at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Downtown Seattle.
It was really centrally located and the everyone from the valet to the front desk was really lovely and helpful.
Our room was really spacious and the the bed was so comfortable. It even had a pillow menu!

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While I was waiting for Nathan to get ready, I suddenly remembered I’d still never gone for dinner at the American Restaurant ‘The Cheesecake Factory’
Nathan had gone when he went to Hawai’i and always raved about it!
When I was in Orlando back in 2015, I also went with a girl from my tour group but we only went and bought a couple of slices of cheesecake. (We didn’t actually sit down and have a meal)
So I quickly did a Google search and saw that there was a Cheesecake Factory literally down the street from where we were staying.
I rung up to make a booking but they said we could just turn up and we’d get a table.
I’m so happy we ended up going because it was soooo yummy!!!
I’m not sure how many calories I consumed that night but everything from the bread they gave us to start, right down to the dessert at the end was so delicious.
Nathan and I are very simple people, I’m not fussed on a small steak and a side of asparagus, no matter how renowned the Chef is.
I want variety and great tasting food!

 

We ordered the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes to start (which don’t sound that great but were so amazing) They top it with Sour Cream, Avocado and Salsa and put it in this really nice Salsa-type sauce.
As there were literally 50 different things to choose from on the menu, I got really panicky and didn’t know what to order! I ended up deciding on a Thai Coconut Lime Chicken Dish.
Nathan ordered a Steak with Vegetables and a large side of Fries. (He was desperate for a Steak as he had yet to eat one since he’d arrived)

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There actually ended up being a fire alarm towards the end of dinner.
Weirdly, no one got up to leave the building. Maybe the food was too good!? (It ended up being trigged from a store next door)
Once we’d finished our dinner, they asked us if we’d like dessert. Our stomach’s couldn’t really handle anything more but we couldn’t go to the Cheesecake Factory and not get a slice of Cheesecake!
I ordered a Salted Caramel one for us to share, which we ended up taking home with us as we couldn’t finish it.

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You can see I already had a little nibble

I find tipping in the states much better than Canada.
In the US, you write down how much you want to tip and they put a hold on your Credit Card which they charge (with the tip) once you leave. Or you can just pop a few dollar bills on the table.
In Canada, as everyone pays by card you have to do it on the Card Machine and it’s always a little awkward when your waiter is standing right there and then rips off the receipt for you as they see how much you’ve given them.
We ended up tipping our guy about $15-$20 which we thought was a good amount for his service and the yummy food.

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel feeling like the biggest hippo’s.
When we got there, I quickly skyped my parents as I had to ask my Dad a quick question about our car.
On the drive to Seattle, it kept loosing power when we were accelerating so I just wanted to see if he knew any idea why. (It ended up being the battery so we got a new one when we came back to Vancouver)
A few of Nathan’s rugby mates were drinking down the road at their hotel so he went down to join them for a bit but ended up coming back an hour later as he was absolutely shattered. WE ARE SO FUN AND FULL OF ENERGY I KNOW!!
It was a combination of being in the car for hours, the rugby game, the big dinner and the little walk back to our hotel that really took it out of us.
I know, I know. We’re in our 20’s and should be going out having fun in the city but it was raining and to be honest we had no energy.

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The next morning, we actually didn’t get a sleep in (even though the hotel offered us a late check-out) because Travel Agent Sarah (me) had organised a morning tour of Seattle for us.
I honestly think that if you’re in a city for a short amount of time and want to maximize your stay – DO A TOUR!
You have a guide that knows the city like the back of their hand. They can drive you around, talk to you about the history and then drop you off afterwards and point you in the right direction of the best places to eat.
The tour guide we had on our tour was a bit quirky and he defiantly had a ‘different’ sense of humour but we went with it and quite enjoyed ourselves.
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20180417_220151.jpg20180417_220247.jpg20180417_220321.jpg20180417_220139.jpg20180417_220334.jpgWe learnt about Seattles history and found out it was the Birthplace of Starbucks. (you can buy a unique mug at the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market)
The Boeing Company was also founded in the Seattle area by the man William Boeing. If you like aviation, they do public tours of the Boeing Factory (which I desperately wanted to go to!!) but we ran out of time 😦
We also learnt that The Klondike gold rush was the great boom period for Seattle after gold was discovered in Canada’s Klondike region back in the late 80’s. Seattle established itself as the jumping-off point for transportation to and from Alaska and the gold fields of the Yukon.
We also tried to get pictures of Bill Gate’s house as he lives in Seattle but we were a little too far away across the river to get anything good.
Towards the end, we had a photo stop at Kerry park where we took photo’s of the Seattle Skyline (and ourselves of course)
20180415_233935.jpg20180417_220705.jpg20180417_215815.jpgIMG_20180416_192808_904.jpgSome other random facts about Seattle for your reading pleasure:

  • More people bike to work in Seattle than in any other city in the USA of similar sizing.
  • They were the first city to have Policemen and woman on bikes
  • The Public Library system has more library card holders per capita than anywhere else
  • Jimi Hendrix was born in Seattle
  • The have the busiest Ferry Terminal in the United States
  • Seattle is a major departure point for Alaskan cruises
  • They have the most houseboats compared to anywhere else in the U.S

Now it probably feels like you’ve gone on the tour with me! 😉

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When the tour ended, we were dropped off at Pike Place Market which is a public market overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront. It’s really famous and you’ll always see pictures of it if you watch Grey’s Anatomy. It’s one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States.

Once there, I immediately took out my phone and started taking pictures of all the beautiful flowers and fresh fruit they had.

I thought there would be more food like really yummy baked goods and stuff but it was a little disappointing on the food front. It’s defiantly more produce based where you can buy fresh fish, flowers, jams and vegetables to take home.

20180415_234509.jpg20180415_234420.jpgWe also watched the famous ‘Throwing of the fish’ at Pike Place Fish Market. It’s one of the market’s major attractions where employees throw three-foot salmon and other fish to each other rather than passing them by hand. If you order a fish, an employee picks up the fish from the ice barrels and hurls it over the countertop, where another employee catches it and prepares it for you to take home.

From what I’ve read on Wikipedia, the tradition started when the fishmongers got tired of having to walk out to the Market’s fish table to retrieve a salmon each time someone ordered one. Eventually, the owner realized it was easier to station an employee at the table and throw the fish over the counter.

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At some stage during my photo taking, Nathan wandered off and I lost him in the crowd.
Eventually I spotted him and we decided to go line up at Piroshky Piroshky which is a small Russian Bakery just across the road from the markets. You have to wait in line but you’re given a menu as you wait so you can quickly order when you’re inside.

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They did everything from Cinnamon rolls and Rhubarb Piroshky’s to Chicken Curry and Onion Rolls. I ordered a Oscars Star which was a delicious buttery dough topped with chocolate, sweet cream cheese and sprinkled with Hazelnuts whereas Nathan got a traditional ground beef and onion Piroshky which I took a bite of and was actually pretty good. He even enjoyed my sweet treat later that night!! (This is a big thing as he doesn’t really have a sweet tooth for chocolate pastries)

20180415_232035.jpg20180415_232000.jpg20180415_232104.jpgI wanted to save my Oscar’s Star for dessert so popped it into a bag to take home. While we were walking, we walked past one of those really yummy Rocky Mountain Apple places where they dip the apples in caramel and chocolate and cover it with hundreds and thousands or cookie pieces. Nathan was desperate for the bathroom so I hovered around the apples while he found somewhere to pee.

He seemed to take forever but by the time we met up again, Nathan told me he’d found the world famous Gum Wall.
I actually didn’t even know anything about this but Nathan said he’d seen pictures of it on Facebook before.
It’s officially called the Market Theater Gum Wall and it’s basically a brick wall covered in used chewing gum. Nice huh?
If you’re ever in Seattle, it’s in an alleyway located in Post Alley under the Pike Place Market. Great place for picture taking as the colours really stand out!

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After a quick photo stop for Nathan at ‘The worlds tallest man’, we signed up to the Seattle Bicycle app called OFO. Basically you sign up with your credit card and scan a bike that you want to use with your phone. It unlocks the bike for you and you can ride it around the city for however long you like. It was really cheap too, I’m pretty sure the first 30 minutes were free and then it was like $5 or something after that.

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On our tour that morning, we had driven past the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (which is like a small museum) where you can find out how much your weight is worth in gold.
It’s free to enter so we biked there on our bikes (of course) and had a look around. Nathan really just wanted to weigh himself but of course we read a little bit about the Klondike history etc….
I think in the end, Nathan’s weight in gold came to just over $1. Haha, just kidding. I can’t remember how much he was worth.

Before we headed home for the afternoon, Nathan mentioned we should grab something to eat as we hadn’t had lunch yet. Deep down we were both probably thinking we’d love to go back to The Cheesecake factory as they’re open for lunch too, however we thought we’d look at some other little cheap eats around town.
In the end, we just decided “Whatever! This is our first time here, lets just go to The Cheesecake Factory!”
Haha. You can tell we really explore each city we’re in….

As we knew that weekend was just full of consuming calories, we biked to The restaurant (up-hill may I add) and burnt off maybe just our entree from the night before…
I was actually a little embarrassed going back to the same place we were just in 24 hours beforehand but we didn’t think the people who worked there would remember us.
I had a quick look around for our waiter from the night before and he wasn’t there so we were safe! Or so I thought.
Suddenly I hear a “Oh welcome back!” from our waiter from the previous night.
He remembered us because apparently we left such a generous tip and he never got to say thank you. (We think he went on his break so someone else collected the bill the night before)
Just seeing how happy he was made me realise how much of a difference a decent tip makes to people who work in the service industry so I’m happy that we did.

We toned it down a little this time with me ordering the Nachos and Nathan got the Quesadilla.

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After stuffing our faces for one final day, we paid our bill and walked back to our hotel to collect the car.
Before we left the city, we thought we’d stop and get some Gas, however! As soon as we started the car again it wouldn’t turn on.
Like I mentioned earlier, it needed a new battery!
I had a slight panic and thought we’d be stuck in Seattle overnight. Thankfully it ended up working after a few tries.
I don’t even know what would happen if we actually got stuck there. Like our car is insured in British Columbia but does anyone know if they would tow you car all the way from Seattle back to Vancouver?
I’d bloody hope so with the $200 we pay each month for insurance!!

The drive home was pleasant. A little boring but I kept Nathan entertained with my fabulous Spotify Playlist, plus we broke up the trip with a classic stop at Walmart.
We even got some lamps for the bedroom!! (I’d been looking to buy lamps for ages)
It was kind of a gamble though because we couldn’t actually open the box to see what colour lampshades they were. The box said they were a cream colour (which would have gone perfectly with our comforter set) but when I had opened a different box of a different brand, the lampshade did NOT look anything like what was on the front picture.
I took my chances anyways and I’m so glad I did because now I have four pretty lamps scattered around the house that match 🙂

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Now it’s the beginning of June and I’ve officially been in Canada for nearly 5 months.
I’ll be honest, it’s defiantly been a struggle at times.
The money here isn’t that great (for me anyways) and even though Nathan gets paid way more than what he did back home, the cost of living makes it so we’re not actually saving that much money.
If anyone is thinking of moving to Vancouver, don’t come here expecting to make money and buy a house or anything. You come for the experience and the close proximity to other places in the USA and Central America to travel to.
I think I’ll write a post at some stage about the pro’s and con’s of living in Vancouver and the steps to take to start a life here – just for any Kiwi’s thinking of making the big move 😉

Thanks for reading!!

xoxo

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Vancouver Update!

You can tell I’ve been busy as I haven’t uploaded a post in quite a while!
This whole ‘settling into a new country’ thing actually takes up quite a bit of time.
When I first got here and was staying at the hostel, I was doing so many activities or meeting new people that I found it really hard to sit down and write about my experiences!

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Streets of the city Downtown

However you can now officially call me a Vancouveriette, or maybe one in training!
I’m still getting to know the area but I don’t need to use Google Maps for a lot of things. I know the three SkyTrain routes and where they go, I can even drive to some places without any help – yay! 🙂

I also now have a place to call home.
When I first got here, I pre-arranged a place to live for 2 months from the Facebook Page ‘Kia Ora Vancouver‘ (Check it out if you’re a New Zealander wanting to come live in Vancouver)
I sub-leased a room from a Kiwi guy who was going away for work at the end of January. As I arrived in Jan, I spent the first couple of weeks at the Samesun Hostel and then moved into my new place later on that month. (living with two Irish guys).

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My first home in Vancouver!

The houses here are so big.
The room I first moved into was quite small (paying around CAD$750 a month) but one of the Irish guys ended up moving out so I moved into his room which was a bit bigger which was nice.
As Vancouver has such a housing problem, most houses actually have more than one family living in them. In the house I moved into, we occupied all of the upstairs however there was one guy living downstairs on the left hand side and what I assume was a lady on the right hand side. (I never ever saw her but they had cat curtains so I assumed it was a lady)
Funnily enough, you never run into each other because each renter has their own separate entrance. There’s doors that connect to the inside of the house but they’re completely blocked off so you wouldn’t be able to just walk into someone’s living room. Crazy to think one house has like three separate kitchens!

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Area around where I work

I was pretty organised and got myself a job before I arrived here.
Once I’d explored Vancouver for a few weeks and moved into my new place, I begun working for the same Travel Agency I used to work for back home.
Luckily I got a week of training beforehand because even though we use the same flight booking system as back home, the quoting system and a few other things were completely different! I honestly felt like it was my first day all over again.
Even now, I’ve been there for about 2 months and I still don’t know so many things. The travel market is so different here too. Most people wait till the last minute to book things and so many people go to Mexico for ‘All Inclusive’ packages!
Back home, Fiji, Rarotonga and Australia were the top destinations I always sold, I’d never even sent someone to Cancun or Puerto Vallarta until recently.

Vancouver is such an awesome experience – but how do people ever go away on holiday here??
From what I understand, Canadians only get 2 weeks annual leave a year. (Back home it’s 4 weeks) however I was lucky enough that my company ‘transferred’ my employment over from NZ so I end up getting 3 weeks leave as I’ve ‘been’ with the company for over a year which makes me entitled to more.

20180329_161153-1.jpgIf you follow me on Instagram or read any of my Facebook/IG stories, you probably have noticed that my boyfriend moved over to be with me in Canada!!

I did feel bad for leaving him – as in cried my eyes out and didn’t want to leave on my final day in New Zealand. However, I knew that if I didn’t do this I’d always regret it. I’ve always wanted to live overseas at some stage in my life and I didn’t want to look back and wish I took the chance while I still could.
I’m glad he ended up coming. To be honest, if I didn’t make the move first, we’d still be sitting at home saying “one day we’ll go here or there….” so it was up to one of us to make the first move 🙂

When he first arrived, we lived at the flat for about a month until we could find our own place.
It wasn’t the warmest for our first few weeks in Canada. It even started snowing but it left as quickly as it came.

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About to catch the bus to work when it first started Snowing

As I had to be out of the flat I was in by April the 1st, we started looking for somewhere to live in March. Finding somewhere to live is actually really hard, luckily for us we got the first place we applied for!
It was a bit out of our budget but I’m so glad we chose it.
We live in this beautiful house in a really nice area. We’re literally just down the road from the mall and only a 8 minute walk to the Skytrain. Instead of me taking a bus and a train to work like I used to, I just take the train and it takes me about 15 minutes on a good morning.20180420_154551.jpg
The house is a bit deceitful in that picture haha! We actually don’t occupy the whole thing, We live downstairs in what they call a ‘basement apartment’
Our landlords live in the main house with their 2 teenage children and me and Nathan live downstairs. We have our own entrance, 2 bedrooms, kitchen & lounge area and our own bathroom 🙂
Even though it’s a basement, we have natural light coming through and both the bedroom’s and living area have windows. We even have our own mailbox and recycling schedule so we’re pretty separate from the people upstairs!
We’ve lived here for about a month and I’ve only seen the owners like twice! They’re either really really quiet or I just come home from work too late haha.

Before we found a place, we also bought a car.
Our first big purchase together!
Don’t even get me started on how much it costs to own a car here….let’s just say we pay what the car is worth in Insurance per year. If Nathan ever runs into someone I will strangle him myself.

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First Car, just a cheeky little Ford Escape to get us from A – B

When we moved into our place, we literally had nothing but a few suitcases full of our clothes and personal items. The good thing about rentals here is if you get a good one, they’ll already come with the oven, fridge, (sometimes microwave) and washer/dryer.
As our place is relatively new, all the appliances are nice and in great working order, we just had to buy our own bedroom and lounge furniture which has definitely been the most expensive purchases so far.
Screenshot_20180401-145158.jpgWe splashed out and spent nearly $2,000 on a mattress, bed frame and bed-side tables but we got our couch second-hand from a girl in Vancouver for like $400.

When we moved in we didn’t actually have a bed as it was going to be delivered to us 3 days after our move-in date. (We were planning to just sleep on the couch) however when we went to pick up the couch, the girl was moving out and had a spare bed that she ended up giving to us for like $50. Thank god she did because our bed ended up taking 2 weeks to arrive!!

When the bed eventually arrived and we got it all set up we realized we ordered a bed that was far too big. As in it’s incredibly high!!!
It literally comes up to my hips and I have to do a little jump to get into bed every night.
Nathan and I thought it was funny until the first night when we couldn’t sleep because it honestly felt like we were sleeping in the sky or something haha. I don’t know how to describe it but it was such an un-settling feeling.
When the people from the furniture store called me about delivering the second bed-side table (which we hadn’t received yet) I asked if we could swap the box base of the mattress because that’s what was making it so high and they said yes but they were going to charge us!
I ended up pretty much yelling at the girl saying that the bed was stupidly high and they shouldn’t be charging us a delivery fee of $100 as the bed took bloody 2 weeks to arrive in the first place. For all they knew we were sleeping on the floor!
In the end, they just agreed to deliver it free along with the second bed-side table but now it’s been a week and…..I kind of like the high bed.
I’m so ashamed now. I think i’ve gotten used to it and it’s so much easier to make the bed in the morning without having to bend down. PLUS, it’s the best height to fold clothes at because it’s literally at arm level. Not to mention I talked to one of the girls at work and she said it’s  completely normal for beds to be that high here! Woops…

Anyways, apart from that we’ve got pretty much everything sorted for our place.
The only thing we desperately need are drawers! We had originally purchased them with our bedroom set but they didn’t fit in the bedroom.
(The bedrooms can only really fit a bed and bed-side tables)
The closet’s are good sizes but we really really need some drawers that can go inside them so we can put away our underwear and workout pants etc – pretty much everything you can’t hang up, It’s really frustrating still having suitcases with clothes in them and trying desperately to find socks in the morning.
Oh well….I’m sure a perfect set of drawers are just waiting to be bought at Walmart haha!

In some more interesting news, Nathan and I went to Seattle last weekend.
Nathan plays for a rugby team here in Vancouver and they were versing a Seattle team so we took the drive down on Saturday and stayed the night at a hotel in the city.
Even though it was only for the weekend, it was really good to get away and have a weekend where we could hang out and see a new place together that we’d never been to. I won’t say too much about what we did (because I want to write a separate blog post about our Seattle adventure) but we had fun!
Not to mention the shopping was great. And here I was thinking Vancouver had a good Walmart…

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I’m really loving it here in Vancouver. There’s still so much else of Canada that we need to explore, it’s just finding the time to do it all!
When I started late one morning I decided to explore the area of where we lived. We’re super close to the Queen Elizabeth park which is a great place for morning walks or a visit to the observatory. As it’s Spring, all the Daffodils are in full bloom and the cherry blossoms are thriving! It’s a really pretty city at the moment.

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Not to mention it’s not as cold in the mornings anymore.
I think people have this idea of Canada being absolutely freezing. I’m sure in some parts it is but you really don’t notice it unless you work outside like my poor boyfriend does!

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The thing I love about Vancouver is everywhere is heated!
When you walk into your house it’s so warm because pretty much everyone has central heating or pipes underneath the floor. Even in Winter if you can’t afford your hydro bill they won’t cut off your heating until it gets warmer so you won’t freeze from the cold.
I hear Summer here is pretty great so I’m looking forward to that.
I would absolutely love to stay longer than 2 years (as that’s all my Visa allows) however the type of job I have doesn’t allow me to apply for permanent residency. (It’s quite a complicated process but you need to be a ‘skilled worker’ to apply for PR). Funnily enough my boyfriend is considered a skilled worker as a builder so he can apply and sponsor me as his spouse! I think I’d have to do a lot of greasing up for him to do that for me…

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I will leave you all with some pictures of my time here so far!
If anyone has any questions about moving to Canada just let me know 🙂

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