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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Bali – Must Do’s! (2016 Version)

EDIT: I write about riding elephants in Bali. PLEASE DO NOT do this. This was 8 years ago when I was young and un-educated about animal welfare. All of the elephant venues in Bali offer elephant rides, which involve cruel training and expose the animals to stressful situations. It doesn’t matter how ‘nice and green’ the ‘Sanctuary’ they’re living in looks. Interacting with the animals is one of the country’s major tourism draws but over the years less and less tourists are doing this as they’ve come to realize it’s not all as nice as it seems. In order to make elephants submit to elephant rides and other human interactions, they are taken from their mothers when babies and forced through a horrific training process known as ‘the crush’. It involves extreme physical restraints, inflicting severe pain and withholding food and water. By the time tourists come to ride an elephant, it may look at peace, but this is because its spirit has been broken. The bullhook, used permanently, reminds the animal of human dominance.

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Bali is a beautiful place.

If you look past the beggars, the market people haggling to sell you things and the litter from us foreigners on some of the beaches, there’s actually a lot to see and do.

Basically, if you’ve been to Thailand. Bali is just a nicer, smaller version of it.
The water is warm, they have kind people and some fantastic food. Not to mention it’s cheap as chips and there always seems to be great weather for sunbathing, shopping and surfing.

With everything being so cheap, it makes for an awesome vacation . What you’d pay per night for a hotel back home in New Zealand ends up paying for 4 nights at a super nice hotel in Legian or on Gili Trawagen!
Not to mention the things you can do in Bali that are well worth your money.
Many of the activities I’ve mentioned in this coming blog post I’ve done myself when I was there so I hope I can give you some ideas if you’re planning on going!

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Private Day Trips – Ubud Tour

I beg anyone if you’re ever travelling to Bali, or anywhere else for that matter. Hire a driver and take a private tour or sign up for a guided tour!
I did a fantastic private day trip with Dewa Alit, an Ubud driver who’s been driving people around for over 21 years.
On the morning of our tour, I actually got the days mixed up and completely forgot about Dewa! Thankfully he was very patient and waited for my boyfriend and I while we rushed upstairs to pack a bag.
As soon as we were ready, we set off for the hours drive up to Ubud from Legian.
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We went to the monkey forest, went for a walk through the hills, had lunch overlooking the rice fields, went shopping in Ubud, all while Dewa waited in the car and helped us with our bags whenever we passed him. Basically whatever we wanted to do he’d be happy to take us there.

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It was quite a big day and by 7pm we were exhausted and pretty keen to go back to our hotel and rest. Dewa was planning to take us to a cultural/dance type show thing but when we said we were far too tired he completely understood and said “This is your tour, we do exactly what you want” and took us back to the hotel without any fuss.
We saw some great views on our tour and for NZD$83 (USD $54)  for a full day it was an awesome price. However, you can do half day tours for $53 through Ubud if you don’t have a full day to spare.
I really enjoyed doing a private tour because we weren’t rushed, we had our drivers undivided attention, we could personalize our tour a bit and he knew exactly where to go.
The only thing I didn’t quite like was going to places that I guess drivers get ‘paid’ to take you to.
We went to a tea tasting place where we tried too many teas – and we don’t even like tea! Then we felt like we had to buy bags of it afterwards.
Also we went to this Weaving place which was slightly boring but there were many other tour groups there and we just wandered around looking at weaved pictures to buy.
Discuss with your driver before-hand what you want to see, and what sights you’d like to spend the most time at. If you have a private driver, they should always take you where you want in reason.
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Other Top Rated Day Tours (I haven’t been on):
Bali Tradition Tours have amazing ratings on Trip Advisor.
They do Full Day Tours ranging from USD$79 – $94 (Per Private Tour, Not per person) and they also do Shopping Tours with Spa Stops, ohh la la. (That’d defiantly interest me if I was going with some girlfriends!)
You get to shop at the markets, go to Kintamani Village and see views of the volcano, have lunch, go to a family Balinese compound and see the traditional way of Balinese living then end your day with a one hour massage and reflexology.

Agus Bali Tours are also well talked about. Agus takes you on tours to the countryside to look at a traditional Balinese houses, Local Primary Schools, the Monkey Forest and even White Water Rafting at Ayung River. Otherwise you can design your own 9-12 hour tour for the day where you meet Agus before you start and look at a map of places you want to see. This costs about NZD $100 depending on what tour you do. Well worth it!

The Monkey Forest

I went to the Monkey Forest in Ubud and that was an awesome experience!
It’s a hit with tourists as there’s monkeys literally everywhere. The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary isn’t just a tourist attractions though, it’s an important spot for research and conservation programs that the Balinese have. You can get there by a very long taxi ride from Kuta/Seminyak, hire your own car or include it on your day tour (Which is what we did)
When you get there, at the entrance there will be people selling Bananas to feed the monkeys. Generally the monkeys will not come to you if you do not bring bananas or any other food so it’s always a good idea to buy a bunch. However if you are giving bananas or food to the monkey and they come up to take it, don’t ever try and pull it away because they’ll seriously get angry. As harmless as they are, they’re not so innocent. Before you go in, make sure you bags are zipped up tight and put your sunglasses away because these little monkeys will try and grab everything and run off with it.
From what I’ve read online, it’s about NZD$5 for entrance fees.

  • Location: Jalan Monkey Forest – Padangtegal – Ubud – Gianyar

Surfing

If you’re a water baby and love jumping on a surfboard like my boyfriend is, you’ll love Bali!
If you’re like me, and just want to watch, the beaches have beach chairs you can hire and ice-creams to buy while you watch your significant other or read a book in the sun.fb_img_1458187078008.jpg

The best places to surf depends on the seasons.
They have a Wet and a Dry season with the Dry Season (May – September) being the best times to catch the big waves.
The easiest beach to surf on if you’re wanting to learn is Kuta Beach. It has a soft tide and many lifeguards on look out as the undertow can get quite strong. If you know your surfing skills the beach’s swell is easy to conqueror.

Keramas beach past Sanur, is a good beach for intermediate – expert surfers so head over there if you’re feeling pretty confident.

Uluwatu Temple

I didn’t go here when I was in Bali, But I wish I did!
This Sea Temple is built on the edge of a 70m high cliff projecting out into the sea. Underneath is the Uluwatu Beach which is one of Bali’s best internationally-known surfing spots.

If you don’t get a chance to head to the monkey forest, Uluwata Temple will have many monkeys for you to see but be careful as they’re notorious for snatching visitors’ belongings
I’ve had a read online, and it seems like it’s best to go in the morning just before sunset for fewer crowds, Otherwise you can head there from 6pm – 7pm to watch a Kecak dance which is performed every day at the cliff-top stage with the sun setting in the background. That’d make for some nice pictures!

  • Location: Pura Uluwatu is located in Pecatu Village, Kuta sub-district, about 25km south of Kuta and it usually takes around one hour to get to and from there.

Waterbom Park

My partner and I went to Waterbom Park and we’re in our 20’s so it’s  great for all ages. It’s apparently the #1 water park in Asia and has 13 rides, a bungy, pleasure pool, fish spa therapy, massages, reflexology and hair braiding.

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It’s a really good family park. You have The Water Blaster where you get to fill up water balloons and fire them at your opposition, the little’s can swim in the  ‘Funtastic’ pool where there’s water cannons, jets and body slides with life guards on duty the whole time.Funtastic_1
The older kids and adults can go on the ‘Pipeline‘ which is what I did and absolutely screamed my head off. It’s a long 150m tube where you basically just plunge down in 13 seconds. Otherwise they have the Constrictor which is the longest water slide in the world at 1/4km long.

Don’t worry about bringing towels as you can hire them here. The park is open from 9am and closes at 6pm, You pretty much need the whole day but if you do get bored there’s the mall right across the road to do a bit of shopping afterwards or you can return to the park afterwards for ‘same day entry’
Adults are IDR 490.00 and children from 2 years old are IDR 325.00.
If you have a big family or you’re going with another couple you can do the VIP Package for IDR 950.00 per adult which gets you Admission, Lunch, All Rides, Gazebo, a Towel and the Express Counter. For VIP packages end an inquiry to their sales team at sales@waterbom-bali.com
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Bali Bird and Reptile Park

Birds, Birds, Birds!!
And snakes.
Maybe stick to the bird park if you hate snakes and reptiles.The park is divided into seven regions that recreate the natural habitats of the birds. They also do shows like the ‘Bali Rainforest’ free flight bird show and the ‘Basic Instinct’ show I’m pretty sure this is the one where I stood up and went to the front of the crowd and had big birds flying to eat food off my head. You can get pictures with the birds at ‘Guyu Guyu Corner’ and have some beautiful birds perch on your shoulders for some photo opportunities. The park and restaurant is open from 9.00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. daily.

  • Location: Batubulan, on the road to Ubud. They’re just 20 minutes away from Sanur or 40 mins drive from Kuta.

Afternoon White Water Rafting & Night Safari

We booked this through our travel agent and it cost around NZD$200 each (maaaaybe)
I’m not completely sure. But I know that’s how much they’re advertising it for online.
We did our day trip through Bali Adventure Tours who have been operating for over 25 years.

For the White Water Rafting, you get picked up from your hotel around 12pm along with 6-8 other people and then head to the Ayung River.
We had lunch (which was just a buffet) and then headed down to the base camp where we listened to a short training session about White Water Rafting and got buckled up with our life jackets.

The Ayung River is the longest river in Bali, and to get to the top of it you walk down I swear over 100 steps to the rafts and oars.
It’s a long walk but it’s pretty much all downhill so not too bad. I had read online there were quite a few stairs so I was pretty prepared. (And now you are too)
The guides are really good. If you want you can take your camera with you and they put it in one of those waterproof bags so you can stop and take photos half way through.
They also have a camera man who follows the groups down the river and records heaps of stuff to make into a video at the end.
(You can buy the video or DVD at the end)
If you’ve done some extreme water rafting in the past, this would be pretty mediocre to you. This was my first time Water Rafting so I loved it. It was a great intro!
The scenery is lovely and it’s nice to just go down a river with no sounds of traffic or people around. Be prepared for it to rain at some point however and the guides to float you under little waterfalls and get you all wet!

Once the rafting is finished, they have showers so you can get changed and then you’re taken off to the Elephant Sanctuary for a Night Time Safari.
Unfortunately we ran over time so we missed the start of the Elephant show.
They’re in a big pen and the Elephants do tricks like painting and throwing a basketball into a hoop. I don’t have any great pictures of this as my Phone Camera is terrible in the dark.
I was a bit concerned about the Elephants as I always think they should be in their natural habitat, but the guide who took us for a ride on one was saying they’d never survive where they rescued them from. The park is acclaimed as the Worlds Best Elephant Park and has 2 hectares of exotic eco tourism landscaped botanical gardens, surrounded by national forest so they feel right at home.
You can even stay at the park if you wish!
They have accommodation ranging from Family Rooms to Suites where you can hire a private butler and private bar! Faaaaancy.
Staying at the park would be an experience in itself, imagine waking up and being able to watch the elephants get fed, ride them and then finish the afternoon off with food at their restaurant and then a body massage at their spa.
I’d recommend this adventure for couples, family’s with older children (Who can stay up past their bed time) and friends travelling together.
You can defiantly do it solo as you’re with a group of people the whole time.

Shopping!

Now I know shopping isn’t for anyone but if you have room in your bag, shop in Bali!
It’s sooo cheap.
I ended up going a bit over-board with my shopping and had to purchase another suitcase to take back home with me.
If you’re a backpacker, someone on a budget or just looking for some cheap souvenirs, the markets are always a good place to start.
Nothing ever has a ‘set’ price so you have to do some bargaining!
If you’re not very confident at it, act like you are. When I went to Bali, the shop keepers always seemed to ask us if this was “Our first time in Bali” we laughed and acted like this was our 3rd time hoping they’d think we were experts and not rip us off.
Whatever price they say, half it and then work your way up from there.
Say they want to sell you a bag for NZD $50 – IDR 441, 550 than half that price down to around IDR 220, 700 and work your way up from there.

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Everything I bought from Bali

Usually if they don’t like your price they’ll say “No no no! Too cheap” and wave their hands at you. However, if you walk away they’ll run after you and say “ok ok two hundred rupiah it is”.
Shop keepers hate to loose a sale so if they let you walk away, then you know for next time that the price you bargained was actually far too low. Sometimes if you only have a certain amount of money, just show them all you have and they’ll be more tempted to just take it instead of wasting time trying to get a better price.
If you’re wanting to buy a few pairs of sunnies or some watches (Let’s be honest, they’ll break at some point so you may as well get a few) then see if the shop keeper can give you a deal which they’ll always want to do.
The number #1 rule I suggest you follow, is always pay the amount you agreed on. If the shop keeper has accepted your price than don’t suddenly say “oh actually, no I don’t want it anymore” and walk off. It’s very rude to them and they’ll be very pissed off they just spent ages haggling with you for a couple of t-shirts when they could have been haggling other customers.

The best places for shopping are the boutiques in Seminyak if you want items that are more ‘high end’ and designer. Also the shopping malls in Kuta (Discovery Shopping Mall & Mal Bali Galeria)
You’ll find brands you recognize and prices that are much more realistic. The malls also have the westernized food like Burger King, Starbucks and Planet Hollywood if you get over noodles and fish.
Bali also have Art Markets if you’re into that sort of thing. You’ll find skirts and scarfs and wooden items to take home at the Ubud Art Market on the Jalan Raya Ubud Main Road or head to the longest standing market in Gianyar – Sukawati Art Market.

The Rock Bar

This is one other thing I never got to do but everyone recommended it to me before I went!
It’s located at Ayana Resort over looking the Indian ocean and it’s absolutely beautiful. It gets busy at sunset and I’d defiantly try and make a booking before turning up. It’s not a place to turn up in your flip-flops. They have a smart dress code so none of your Bintang singlets will be allowed. They open at 4pm and you can make a reservation through  fb.reservation@ayanaresort.com
You can also have dinner here and if you’re feeling very very generous, book a private table for you and your significant other for NZD $210 per person and upwards. They set up candle lit dinners with flowers and a 4 course menu, an extravagant dinner with Balinese dancers or have dinner on their private jetty with soft music and three lobster dishes. I obviously didn’t do this because I’m always broke haha!banner_image4

Gili Trawagen – Sunset Bar

If you’re staying on Gili Trawagen, head over to the west side of the island and check out the beautiful sun set.
It’s best to get there a bit early so you can grab a drink at the small bar and find a table.
There’s 2 sunset bars – I went to Paradise Sunset Bar which is located on South Beach. The service is a bit meh for drinks etc… but you really only go there for the view!

Gili Trawagen – Biking

It’s really easy to hire a bike on Gili Island. You’ll find many places hiring out bikes for cheap.
To bike around the whole island it takes about an hour. The only thing to remember though is if you’re doing a complete loop, there will be a part where you have to push your
bike through the sand and sweat your face off like I did haha.
Make sure to bring some water and wear a Bikini under your shorts because you’ll want to stop for a swim I’m sure!20140625_164834 Continue reading

Days 78-81 Singapore

I thought I’d write all of my days in Singapore in one big blog post!

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I’d already written what I did on my first day but the second day was much more exciting!
Just kidding, it wasn’t at all.
I know alot of people are going to say I didn’t experience Singapore enough (Ecspecially people who read this that live there)
And I’ll give it to you, I really didn’t at all.
I even lied to the lady who did my nails and said that I went to the botanical gardens just so it seemed like I ventured outside a mall and experienced what Singapore had to offer.
I’m sorry nail technician, I lied to you.
My second, third and fourth day was spent all in the confines of an air conditioned mall.
Not the same one however, on my third day I mixed it up a bit and took the MRT to Orchard Road where they have like 4 malls and lots of fancy shops lining the street. Think Gucci, Chanel, Burberry etc… I didn’t tempt myself by going inside though. The security gaurd at the door knows I can’t afford it and so does ANZ.

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My second afternoon in Singapore (I say afternoon coz we all know I slept in till like 12pm, I’m just trying not to confuse my body too much with these time zones.) Well that was spent at Bugis Junction again.
I even got pizza for dinner there and went to the grocery store. Did you know they have the same egg brands we have? And also they have watties frozen vegetable ‘fresh from New Zealand’
I could already feel that I was closer to home. 😌

I bought enough stuff to fill my bags right up. So much so that I couldn’t even zip them up anymore.
On my last day, I even went back to Orchard Road and went on the hunt for a bag from Forever 21. They usually always have a lovely selection of bags but when I went I wasn’t fond of anything!
I went to Victoria Secrets and was so close to buying a $140 bag but ended up dragging myself away and got an $80 one from Collette instead. I quite like it and it’s a bit bigger than my other ones so will be perfect for sleepovers! 😄

My last night was spent getting my nails done and getting my henna tattoo redone from these lovely girls on Bali Lane.

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My arm looks scary pale in that photo haha. That’s what happens when you don’t fake tan in a week!
I also got pizza hut for dinner and sat by myself in the kitchen and ate it at my hostel.
I guess I wasn’t technically alone as there was others around but I did eat by myself 😐
My days in Singapore were relaxed. I did all the shopping I needed to do, slept in for how long I wanted and just chilled out watching Friends on the hostel TV.
I didn’t go to Universal Studios because I couldn’t stand the thought of waiting in the humidity in line (Ecspecially as I hadn’t met anyone to go with)
I didn’t see any gardens because as pretty as flowers are, I’d rather them be given to me then travel ages to go and look at a bunch of them.
There was lots of fog while I was in singapore so I didn’t really see the point of going on the flier if I couldn’t really see much anyways.

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That’s my excuses for being a boring Singapore Tourist.
I think Singapore is a lovely place, I just would have enjoyed it more if I was with someone (as no one at my hostel seemed to speak English it was hard to make friends)
Plus I was at the end of my trip where I think I just stopped caring about doing anything. Is that bad to say?
I was never lonely, I actually quite like my own company and I seem to be very independent. I just couldn’t be bothered making plans with people or to make the effort to go out drinking at night.

This blog isn’t to say Singapore is lame, maybe it just wasn’t for me. But I’ve read online about many people who love it!
I’m just one little blogger in the sea of thousands 😄

Xx