Lizards & Turkeys!

The last few hours in Sydney were good ones. After picking up her Backpack from Wake Up! Jessie only had to walk across the road to Central Station for her Greyhound Coach. She was booked on a coach leaving at 7pm and would arrive at the Bohemian and beautiful Byron Bay at 7:45 am the next morning.

Jessie wanted to catch up with her friends Tom and Macauley, childhood friends from the age of four. They had left the UK the same week as Jess, but started their journey in Melbourne and would eventually go to New Zealand to work. The pair were a bit further North than Byron Bay, but were going to meet up in Noosa.

The Greyhound pass was quite a simple App on her phone. Adding dates and destinations on the Greyhound Route and easily changing them if the plans changed.

Jessie What’s App’d me when she was

Currently driving over the Sydney Bridge

to let me know it was

Such a PENG coach!

Getting herself comfy with the boomerang shaped travel pillow her brother gave to her as a useful Christmas pressie, her Greyhound, East Coast, Backpacker Trail, Road Trip had begun!

At 11pm she tucked into some chips at a service station before settling down again to get some sleep for the remainder of her 12 hour coach trip to the Subtropical destination.

Having loved the Surf Camp so much the week before, Jess booked herself into another Mojo Surf Hostel for a couple of days of Surf n’ Yoga.

Exhausted at the end of her first Greyhound Coach journey she waited for the free shuttle bus to take her to the hostel at 8am. She was a little bit confused however as the place it took her to was called the Arts Factory!

THE ARTS FACTORY TIPI VILLAGE

The Arts Factory Lodge is a cool, tucked away budget Hostel, created by Hippies in the 70’s. It then became a Rock n’ Roll venue in the 80’s and is now a hip place to “Relax, Rejuvenate & Recycle”. With its Hippy Roots and Tents I thought Jessie would feel at home.

TEEPEE JESSIE STAYED IN

We stay in teepees…crazy…..This place is crazy

There are Lizards n’ Turkeys everywhere lol

She settled into her teepee with 3 other young women, then had a very laid back lunch before her first Surf lesson. The Mojo Surf Camp is made up of a fun Tipi Village. Each one has 4 beds with access to a shared bathroom and kitchen, although all the food is provided on this package. The camp is located right next to Byron Bay Brewery which has DJs, Gigs and performances in the evenings. There is also a nice pool and hammocks to relax in. It is a 10 minute walk into town and all that has to offer!

On her second day at the Arts Factory she had a choice of Yoga or Surf and also managed to have a good look around the town. Jessie thought I would love it there with all its Organic food shops, Jewellery makers, quirky streets and colourful Street Art.

BYRON Bay Street ART

I love that my daughter is doing this trip and it is inspiring me to become a “Silver Surfer” at some-point in my future. This is quite a U-Turn for me as I was quite happy thinking that I would become a Wicker Basket carrying Yummy Granny. I glad to say that I have now sold that Wicker Basket on Ebay, along with a load of other items that will hold me back.

DANCING QUEEN

With more self confidence Jessie made much more effort to connect with people. While waiting for her surf lesson a young woman smiled and spoke to her

I recognise u, were u in Bali?

n’ I was like OMG I stayed in a Hostel with u in Canggu – Small World

They had such a good day, talking, surfing, lunching,chilling and Yoga-ing. The Yoga Jess did was called Ashtanga Vinyasa –

a more physical movement. It’s about focusing on the heat going through ur body

It was probably good that she had done some beginner classes in Bali to give her an idea and feel for the poses.

Feels good, it’s hard work, but worth it!

Byron Bay

Jess bought some snacks from Aldi for the next leg of her Greyhound Journey in the morning, but before that she had Reggae Night at the camp to enjoy.

In the morning she had a pre-paid breakfast voucher left, so decided to get the Red Lentil Dahl as it came in Take Away tub and would eat it at the Bus Stop.

The journey to Noosa stops at the Gold Coast for 4 hours

So I’ve got my bikini on to go for a swim or whatever

When she arrived at the Gold Coast Jessie left her Backpack at the Greyhound Store at the Bus Station and headed to Surfers Paradise.

Gold Coast

Buying a large Subway Roll she sat and watched the surfers and looked around the area and gazed up at the

Gurt Q1 Tower

SAND SCULPTURE

After 4 hours hanging out at the Gold Coast, Jessie made the rest of her journey to Noosa to meet her friends. The bus rolled in, she got off and made her way to Nomads Hostel and there they were waiting for her. They picked her up, swung her around and she cried with happiness and relief ( I think).

SUBTROPICAL
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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!!

THE CHINESE GARDEN OF FRIENDSHIP, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

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”

YEAR OF THE DANCING PIG FEBRUARY 2019, AUSTRALIA

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.

SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
FRIENDS ON MANLY ISLAND

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!

HAPPY SURF CAMP PHOTO
SURF CAMP
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Soooo I Got A Tattoo……

Settling back into the Canggu Community of hipster Bali, Pat’s original travelling companion Matt joined them at the Jungle House Hotel. Pat and Matt had been travelling since October through Nepal, Vietnam and Thailand.

With another Skater lad to hang out with and watch Jess thought it time to make some girlfriends. Plucking up courage she made a few failed attempts at not bonding. Making new ‘Girl’ friends at this point in her travelling experience was extremely difficult. The three travellers moved on to Canggu Castle which Jess thought was the best hostel they had stayed in so far. Persevering with her attempts at making finally paid off.

“She’s 22, so not a lot older than me compared to everyone else.”

Jess’s new German friend was travelling alone and was a good tonic of spirit, fun and company! An American followed and a couple of Portuguese soon after. So while the lads were Skating Jess and her new friends had a few good days of “bonding”, “chilling”, “exploring” and shopping at Old Man’s Sunday Market.

CANGGU CASTLE BALI

I am glad my daughter loves food! I am not surprised one of her favourite places to eat was Ithaka Canggu! As someone who has suffered from “Hangar” since she was little this menu can refuel any foodie!

For less than £3 healthy portions of Gado Gado – Peanut Sauce with Veggies and Rice or Nasi Goreng – with Sambal Sauce or Pad Thai etc… etc… can be devoured. Western Fusion Food is also on the menu – The Canggu Combo – Veggies, eggplant balls, Tapas, omelette, rice fritters, and samba sauce. They even serve Tapas, or Build your own Sandwiches -Yummy!

Jess also loved the local Balinese ‘Warung’s’ and even though she had become ‘Veggie” liked ‘Shmurger” at Berawa’s Kitchen. Jess is also a bit of an avocado fan.

I THINK THIS IS PIZZA?


BREAKFAST

Fifteen days into her trip I was still missing Jess very much. I am not sure why people become tearful when they are happy to see someone they miss. But I felt relieved and happy and sad all at the same time and during a video call must have come across as a wounded animal.

So my Gen’Z child sends me a lovely comforting “Don’t cry” message then slam dunks me with ….

“Soooooo….I got a tattoo….don’t shoot me…What’d u think?….

“Followed shortly by a cheeky message of photos

“…Here’s some pics if u miss my face”.

Like the Yoga classes in Ubud Jessie had been researching where to get a Tattoo done – La Femme Tattoo House does have an impressive Instagram account, and a day after her 2nd Rabies injection my daughter, the first person in my family entered ‘La Femme Tattoo House’ in Badung and let a talented tattoo artist inscribe in ink her arm with “dainty fine lines”.

Pat and Matt’s mums later found out their boys had been “inked” in Thailand and they were also left temporarily speechless. I had given Jess a pashmina before she left the UK to wear in Temples, this apparently is perfect for keeping the Sun off a new Tattoo!

The final few days in Bali started to become more entangled with all the Australian travel and work plans. Instead of going back to Ubud they stayed on at Canggu Castle for a few more days, soaking up Pretty Poison Vibes and being sociable. La Laguna was a perfect place for “hipster” Somerset types who are accustomed to Bunting and Wagons! Then they moved in convoy on scooters and in a Gojeck to Uluwata in the South of Bali. This would also make it easier for the Airport.

LA LAGUNA BALI
PADANG PADANG BEACH

The three buddies stayed at the Karma Backpacker Hostel and relaxed on Padang Padang beach. Jessie’s favourite place to eat was ‘Single Fin’. A bar/Cafe/Restaurant/Shop overlooking “a surfers spiritual home” – The Indian Ocean. Set above the Warung’s along the Suluban Beach and below the Blue Point Hotel and Spa.

Cocktails on the balcony and a dip in the pool?

“Don’t catch me drinking my daiquiri”

Here you can have Acai Berries and Revolver coffee for breakfast in the Nula Bowl Shack, Uluwata Burgers and Coconut Pudding in the Restaurant for Lunch, Tapas for Dinner and Late night Cocktails and Music on Thursdays and Sundays. Jess said the Cocktails were around £5.

SINGLE FIN ULUWATA

Being ex-dancers, skaters , gymnasts and adventurers they had to see the Kecak Fire Dance at the Open Air Amphitheatre on the cliff top by the Temple. With the Sunsetting into the Indian Ocean as the backdrop to this Great Hindu Epic Story it must be rather impressive. They missed the performance in Ubud which featured an all female cast. This one was all Male.

Jess, still wearing her pashmina was perfectly dressed for the performance. The lads were given beautiful purple sarongs to tie around their waists that covered their legs. Jessie found it amusing that everyone used their story sheets that explained the performance as Fans to waft away the heat. This was a good end to her trip on the Island of Bali, the only problem now was being on her own in Australia and missing Pat.

FIRE DANCE ULUWATA
BALCONY OVERLOOKING THE INDIAN OCEAN
SO LONG !
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How Time Flies!

Jessie loves flying which is a great attribute, as I on the other hand have to micro manage every part of boarding a plane, the take off ritual of putting my Kate Bush CD on loud enough so I can’t hear the planes engines, frying my eardrums. Then again during landing, playing the same song over and over again to keep calm, panicking if I haven’t got the right track on. Having sweets ready at hand to suck on and water to sip – it’s ridiculous but it works for me. I knew Jessie would be looking forward to the in-flight food and films and was lucky enough not to have any weird behaviours like mine. This was a relief in itself, and after our last goodbye and final text that she was boarding it was still a massive jolt that she was off.

Thai Airways Airbus

The Thai Airways flight to Bangkok took off just after midday and I started work at 1:30pm which was a good thing as for the next 7 hours I would be pre-occupied with work and the time would fly by. At midnight I received my first text from her.

“Hi, I’m in Bali – no wait I mean Bangkok”

It made me laugh, classic Jess – half way round the world and kind of knows where she is. She described the flight as being in darkness the whole time and now the sun was rising in Bangkok! In a few more hours the next leg of the journey to Bali would be complete and she would meet up with her ‘childhood sweetheart’ who she hadn’t seen for 3 months for a 3 week holiday before venturing off to Australia on her own.

Photo by Oliver Sju00f6stru00f6m on Pexels.com

Pat met her at the airport with a taxi and off they went to the hostel I booked near Echo Beach for 4 days and then they were on their own. I met a woman in a nice bookstore in Bath who worked in the travel section, and she said to me her mum always use to book the first hostel in a country she went to just to give them both some piece of mind and get sorted out. I thought this good advice and even though I booked it I didn’t pay for it. Cash on the day!

Another piece of good advice I was given was from a friend who lives in South East Asia is that you need plenty of cash in Bali – all kinds, US dollars, AUS dollars, Indonesian Rupiah, UK Pound coins.

Two weeks before Jess left the UK we had been made aware of Travel Cash Cards including Monzo and Starling Bank – this has to be one of the best financial accessories to have if travelling. She now can transfer money from her bank account into Starling and use it without incurring hefty exchange fees. She was lucky it got set up and arrived so quickly.

After Jessie’s first full day in Bali I received this encouraging Gen Z’ message…..

Wasson” “Been to the beach today – Pat’s got a scooter so we’re both carting around on that”, ” We got some food at this Peng restuarant…”, “£1.60 for all dis”
 
Lunch!
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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.

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Welcome to a Fantastic New Year 2019

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