Welcome to OZ

With all the planning and paperwork just about completed and a Bank balance secured to be allowed into the Country, Jess settled down to enjoy the Vegetable Cannelloni and her flight with Virgin Australia. Besides from including the Visa which had to be obtained before leaving the UK, the STA Work Package included the following benefits below.

Firstly, the Airport transfer to the Hostel via an email link. The Airport transfer would take her and other fellow backpackers to the ‘Wake Up!’ Hostel in Sydney for a stay of 5 nights – food not included – to start the Australian Dream. ‘Wake Up!’ is a 2 minute walk from the nearby STA Sydney Branch that would hold the ‘Orientation Day’ (the following day). There she would get lots of other Work Package benefits – a mobile SIM card, a pre-paid Opal card ($25), a work mentor, help with setting up Medicare, Job assist, Tax File Number, CV help and ability to print out forms and use computers.

Before leaving they had also sent lots of advice and tutorial videos to help including setting up a Bank Account. All that Jess had to do was locate the Bank and ‘present’ herself to get her Bank card. All of this was a lot easier than she thought, and for her it was worth paying a bit extra for the Work Package. There were no hiccups and it did what it said!

What wasn’t easy was being in her own company!!


After a few weeks of laid back Island life, City Life was quite a bombshell! Having made new friends and then saying goodbye to them, including Pat and Matt – who still had a month left travelling before arriving in Oz – Jessie after arriving 10 hours earlier wanted to get the first plane back!

Everything was too BIG, and loud and alienating. After a long reassuring pep talk and a midnight room swap – organised by the very good staff at ‘Wake Up!’ – into a much smaller, quieter, all female dorm, Jess woke up the next day with a much healthier, positive attitude.

Off she went to get her Bank sorted and a little walk around the area. Lots of interesting places to discover – ‘Wake Up!’ is located on Pitt Street in the China Town area of Sydney. The beautiful Chinese Garden of Friendship is a 10 minute walk. A good place to be by oneself. The Orientation day went very well and by the end of Day 2 Jess had a long list of things to sort and do. This included signing up and paying for a 5 Day Surf Camp featured at the Orientation.

“It jus seems sick”. and “I’ll meet loads of people there as well”

So at the top of the list was Putting name down for Surf Camp – 5 days of surfing at Seven Mile Beach, living in huts, all meals included! I reminded her about her final Rabies Jab. But she had sorted it already, she had to go to a Doctor and get a referral to another doctor.

“it’s quite straightforward”


At 8:30 pm Jess had butterflies and the sick feeling in her stomach again, she couldn’t stand the feeling of being alone and didn’t’ want to stay. But by 10:30 pm a new girl arrived in the dorm and asked her if she wanted to watch the fireworks going on outside – It was Year of the Pig and a lot of early celebrations were occurring. Bingo!! New friend. The following day the pair met another girl and they went on a Tour Book walking tour! -Amazing!

“I’m currently in an Art Gallery”

A few hours later they were off to Manly on the ferry at the discounted Sunday Price of $2.50 instead of $7.50. Jessie’s new friend recognised a few young women on Manly and they very kindly bought them all a bottle of Prosecco for lunch. Sailing by Sydney Opera House with excellent company and the rest of the day at Manly to enjoy Jessie had found her rhythm again.


Jessie had to pack and get ready to go to Surf Camp. The hostel were helpful and allowed her to cut her stay short by one night but let her have that night back in a weeks time for her return. This must be common practice as she was given a card to keep and show on her return. Seven Mile Beach is a 2 hour drive South of Sydney and the tour bus collected her at 9am. Let’s just say she was very excited! There is limited Wifi there, but it can be bought for extra cash if desperate. The camp uploads photos and videos so after 2 days I was able to see how much fun she was having. It was a healthy, happy, positive place. She did manage to get a few messages to me though –

“Stood up 4 times today”

“Soz, just got back from surf was such a good day we are about to eat and look at the film they made”

Jess made lots of good buddies and happy memories plus acquired a new skill and love of Surfing. They had great food and the staff were excellent hosts. Jess shared a hut with 5 other girls of all different nationalities. She found out that she loved being outside and by the sea and didn’t want to be in the City.

With that in mind she made the decision to buy a Greyhound Pass to travel North along the coast after the camp and meet up with some good friends who were also in Oz. Luckily STA in the UK were still having their Winter Sale and Jess was able to buy a 45 Day Greyhound Pass for the price of a 21 Day Pass. She emailed her work mentor at Work OZ / STA in Sydney and they organised it, she just had to pay. Excellent News!

Jess planned ahead and got a seat reserved to go to Byron Bay the day after her return from Surf Camp. She had her one night at ‘Wake Up!’ already booked and a day to explore Sydney a little more.

Plus a friend from home had bought Jess an Airbnb experience. Jessie had been looking forward to this since she arrived in Australia – A walk around Cadi Jam Ora, an award winning garden in The Royal Botanical Garden, Sydney. She was to have a one to one tour with a guide who could share his knowledge about the culture of Aboriginal Peoples and the Cadigal and let her enjoy her love of being in good company!


‘Echo Beach, Far Away In Time’

Two good old friends, both women, recommended Echo Beach and Canggu as safe and cool places to visit on the Island of Bali. Growing up in London during the 1980’s I had only heard of Echo Beach through my love of New Wave and Post Punk Music. Martha and The Muffins wrote the best ever Nostalgic, Intellectual, Dreamy Beach and Surf Song with their hit ‘Echo Beach’. It was inspiring! It conjured up visions of Blue sea, gentle waves and Stunning Sunsets in Faraway lands. ( I find it hard to believe it is about Chesil Beach, like some people say – It’s windy and freezing and clunky with massive pebbles there). I Google Earthed the route from the beach to MojoSurf Hostel several times to get a feel for it, and wished I could be there too!


Jess and Pat stayed at the Ahoy Hostel after Mojo and then went on to House of Canggu . Between Canggu and Berawa is Pretty Poison – perfect for these two, as both enjoy this Hipster/Grunge ‘Bintang’ drinking nightlife and had a skateboard in tow. That nights’ What’s App message was

“He’s Happy, he’s skating”

Pretty Poison is the brainchild of a Mum from Bondi – Clever Woman! How creative and full of life is this place? Reminding me again of my youth.

The words in Jess’s photo made me happy!

On day 6 of her trip I missed several phone calls. I didn’t panic as it didn’t feel like I should, but finally Jess got me with a Face Time call. I could instantly see something was wrong. While ‘carting’ around on the back of a scooter and waiting at a red traffic light, a scruffy dog ran out of a shop and bit Jessie on the calf leaving two puncture wounds. What’s sad about this is she has been practically brought up with dogs her whole life and has never been scared or bitten by one, and she felt sorry for this one.

Pat was a hero and drove her around several Medical Emergency Rooms before finding one with the correct vaccine. Having already had the Rabies injections in the UK, I was unaware you had to have more if bitten. Within an hour of the bite a wonderful nurse and Doctor at Abdi Medicca in Canggu treated her and made her feel well.

They paid on different cards as it cost £250 and started an insurance claim that night. But it didn’t end there. Jess broke out in hives and had an allergic reaction to the antibiotics within an hour of taking them. I phoned her Doctors in the UK and told them what medicines had been given to her only to be told – yes she’s allergic to that one. Pat was a hero for the second time that night and ‘carted’ her back so the Doctor could administered the antidote!

Before the trip we had spent a longtime working out what Medical Kit to take. What we should have done is written a list of allergies to medicines and foods!


The next day they were “In a Grab going to Ubud” Already over her Rabies Bite Injury and Shock and was looking forward to her stay in Ubud. Lunch was ready – Nasi Goreng,

“I’m vegetarian now as well”

They stayed at the WWBackpacker Hostel with views to the river and Rice paddy fields. Jess had read a Blog by a Girl into Yoga and was going to go to one not far away called the ‘Ubud Yoga House’ which was according to the Blog the best one for Beginners.

She also bought herself some books amazingly!

‘How to Fight” by Thich Nhat Hanh (Zen Master)

and ‘The Courage to be Disliked’ by Chiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga.

Who said Gen Z’s can’t read physical books?? I am extremely proud of my daughter for encouraging her inner Zen, looking after herself with Yoga and not being scared of dogs (see photo of Hostel entrance) .


Not sure what HOTMAIL is thinking when it blocks travellers from their own account for 30 days!!! Especially when they are in the middle of Indonesia with no Sim card!! Both of them had issues with this. Suspicious events in Indonesia? Locked out ! Yes, that is them trying to look at their emails! I would suggest as a mum, that your travelling Kids have a couple of email addresses set up and maybe your own mobile as security in case they need to verify their account – but this takes a month to be set up. I ended up taking pictures of her emails and What’s App-ing them to her. Bring back Faxes.

Rice Terraces

At Gypsy Lust Hostel they had Rooftop Yoga, a Large Swan to Swim with and Sunrise Trekking. They also walked along the Campuhan Ridge.


And visited the Rice Paddies and went to the Waterfalls dodging the rain. Jess said there was a lot more to do in Ubud and had a lot of fun.

Campuhan Ridge
Rainy Season

Dilemma – The weather isn’t great you have one day left before returning to Canggu for your 2nd Rabies Vaccine which you cannot miss and it may be your only chance to Walk up an Active Volcano in the Dark! Of course she went. A 2am ride to Mount Batur and a 2 hour Hike with torches up a wet Volcano 1,717 metres High.

Well, I think this young Woman can be proud of herself. In the photos on Social Media this trip looks magical like you have actually been flown up to the top in blue skies and a magical sunrise appears.

The reality of this trip was – You can do it! You did DofE! In wind and rain in the dark up quite steep slopes that were slippery the finish line at the top was a huge achievement – you had survived! And the view even in the clouds was still worth it as can be seen in the ecstatic wind swept faces of Jess and her travelling companions.

“@*!?*Did it A *@?!* active Volcano n I have climbed it.”

Mt Batur

Sunday 6th January 2019

Today we hugged goodbye.  I would like to thank the Coach driver of the 12:15 Bath to Heathrow National Express today.  After loading my daughter’s massive ‘going away for a year or more’ rucsack on board he let me give her an extended hug goodbye on the coach steps.  This cheered me up immensely, I felt like I had been given the chance to give her a proper final hug and leave – happy that this moment hadn’t been complicated by other travellers or a grumpy driver.

I still fled to the outside of the station to fall apart at the seams a little, only to look back and catch my son catching a glimpse of me in this dreadful state.  Turning away from his gaze I forced myself to ‘Straighten up’ and walked along the outside of the station to the coaches exit road.  I wanted to wave goodbye to Jessie on the coach along with my son and better half.  It was hard remaining composed,  I wanted to have an irrational  outburst and wail and cry as if I would never see her again, but instead I prepared to wave Goodbye!

This had to be a happy not sad farewell.  “Be calm and carry on” or in this case “Be strong and smile”  The coach pulled up at the station exit road but it was stopped by the traffic lights on red.  This gave time for a brilliant encounter.  The coach driver smiled at me, at us.  Then a bigger smile appeared on his face.  We had out iphones and camera ready to take a photo of Jessie as she passed by us on the coach.  Then he made me laugh, all of us laugh.  He waved at us, then put his thumb up, then gave the biggest cheesiest grin, waving as he drove by, and four seats behind was Jessie grinning and waving happily at us too!  Within seconds they were gone.  But I felt it was a good start to her adventures!

Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

New Years Day 2019 – 6 Days before the Journey Begins

This is my first Blog and first post. I live in the quiet City of Bath, UK.  I woke up at 4am this morning  strangley happy.  For the past few weeks I have been waking up at this time with fear and worry. In my sleep I must have come to the conclusion that to be happy at this time in the morning was a better feeling.  Today is Tuesday 1st January 2019, in 6 days time my 19 year old second born child will be travelling to Bali, Indonesia, via Bangkok, Thailand and then on to Sydney, Australia.  The only way I think I will cope with this seperation happening is to write about it.  It maybe an outpouring of saddness, but  hopefully along the way there will be many happy and funny stories to share.  I hope maybe other people in my position will connect with this feeling.

The past few weeks have been rather worrying for me.  Did I think my daughter would manage this epic Journey alone?  Would she have enough money?  Has she had all her vaccinations? Where will she live?  Were the Planes safe? etc.. I then started to become a little neurotic Which Airline was she flying with?  Which country was she connecting flights in? We changed the original flight route but then the poor Travel agent did have to be a little firm with me and keep everything on track, “There really is no point flying all the way to Hong Kong and then back to Bali”  So Thai Airways and Virgin Australia are booked. My daughter’s Visas, and Banks are sorted and Hostels in both Countries are expecting to Welcome her.

Then terrible stories in the news put the fear in me.  A brave intellegent, independent young woman in the prime of her life was pointlessly murdered in New Zealand.  My daughter was upset by the reaction of the media and Facebooked all the positive stories about this young Woman’s right to travel alone.  My daughter is a happy, brave, free spirited, adventurous, kind young woman in her prime, embarking on a similar trip. I felt so deeply sorry for Grace’s family, I couldn’t watch the news coverage.

Then a Tsunami hit the coasts of Sumatra and Java in Indonesia and swept away all those young people watching a local Pop band Seventeen, the horror of it still rips through me. My daughter is an avid music fan and would have been at that concert if she lived there. Hundreds and hundreds of people in one night…how can this happen?

My daughter still determined to go to Bali made me worry less as she was sure it was what she wanted.  The only worry shown was when the Child of Krakatoa started spewing out ash.  We are hoping it stays quiet.  Her positive nature about everything has kept me rooted and let me let go of her to do this trip.  In 6 days time I will give her a final hug goodbye for a Year and I shall miss her immensely.  This is a Diary or Travel Blog by someone left behind.  I turn 50 this year and have always wanted to write a blog. Now I have a Year to get on with it.


Welcome to a Fantastic New Year 2019