Some observations from travels

Archive for November, 2011

Byron Bay, Australia

Byron Bay is in the Northeastern end of New South Wales, Australia.  Know for many things such as the beautiful beaches, Cape Byron Lighthouse, funky shops, cafes and restaurants.  When you visit Byron Bay you will experience a relaxed atmosphere and people who seemed too cool to worry about issues or dramas everywhere else.

We’ve visited Byron Bay many times.  Before I remembered the place to have more people who preferred the ‘alternative’ lifestyle.  On our recent visit the place still had most of the familiar places to visit, except it felt more upgraded.  Some buildings were upgraded to modern accommodations and new retail outlets.  The beach, I’m glad to report, was still pristine.  Sadly I didn’t get to visit the lighthouse this time and missed the chance to (hopefully) catch a glimpse of visiting whales.

Here are some snaps of this gorgeous, funky town…

We arrived around midmorning in time for a late breakfast at my favourite cafe – Twisted Sista.  This cafe has some twistedly looking food.  I had to have the big breakfast!

I’m warning you, this breakfast is not for the faint of hearts, it was massive! and I was struggling.  The good news is we can burn all those calories by walking through the town centre and enjoy more sight.  And the beach… another little piece of heaven in Australia.

After a bit of walk around the town centre we needed to head down to the beach and chill.  This was the first time I saw this beach a little bit crowded with little young things clearly enjoying their schoolies break.

These boys looked like they were ready to tackle a major challenge, good luck!

And after all the walking and soaking the warm sun it was time for a late lunch…next to Mary Ryan’s we noticed a new cafe – Dip, so we had a look inside.

After consuming that hearty chicken salad we bid farewell, once again, and promise to visit another fine sunny day.  Maybe next time when the whales are there blowing their air holes across the Cape Byron lighthouse.


To Market, To Market

Being back home affords us to enjoy the routine we used to have.  Going to the shops, sitting by the beach, eating favourite meals and enjoying coffee with friends.  One thing I like about being back on the Gold Coast is the chance to visit the farmers’ markets.  It’s not so much what we can buy or eat whilst we’re there, it’s more the communing with people – the sort of people who also enjoys being with market people.  In our modern age of shopping malls and large groceries, we are robbed of the wonderful experiences such as talking to the farmers and other shoppers.   At the markets we get the stories behind where the unusual looking products came from, what condition they were grown, the name of cow who produced the milk and how the soaps were formed.

At one of the local markets we visited recently I was saddened to observe and learn that many stalls were gone… many farmers and stall owners simply found it hard to survive.  All around the coast several of these small markets have sprung in the last few years, but shoppers were sometimes too busy to be bothered on their weekends to drive up and buy their fruits and veggies at the market, when they can easily go up to the nearest Woolies or Coles!

I, on the other hand, when I can, prefer to visit the markets on the weekend to have my breakfast of Belgian waffles, coffee and healthy fruit smoothies.  Last Sunday I had Almond Croissant from french sounding gentlefarmers.

Here some photos of the rest of that day.

I really enjoy farmers markets and for those who have not done so…maybe have a look around your neighbourhood to find where they are.  They are great for meeting people, chatting with locals and making new friends.

Famous For Fun! Gold Coast, Australia

So…Famous For Fun!  That’s the new slogan for the Gold Coast (Queensland) for this year.  We’ve been away for four years and we get back to being famous for fun from being “Beautiful One Day, Perfect The Next!”  (which I still prefer) and I hope there are no negative connotations to the new slogan.  On the most positive side – We are Home!  It feels great to be back to the endless, uninterrupted, blue skies, beautiful beaches and beautifully tanned people…  Here are some snippets of those beaches, and I promise there are more than these, along with fun images around.

It has been gorgeous everyday since we got back.  Some Goldies said that the weather is better this week – it showed off just as we came!  It was also wonderful to catch up with friends over dinner and drinks, watch the morning news and gossip or just walking along the beach and getting sand between our toes.  Priceless!

A day in Melbourne, Australia

We have arrived in Australia!  Well, a stop over in Melbourne for a day (8 hours) that is.  And what do you do?  Stuffed our luggage in storage for the day and hopped on the express bus to the city.  I’ve never been to Melbourne and everything I heard about it was great.  It’s known to be the most European looking state in the country.

The guide-book we got from the airport said that if we only had a day in the city we should energise ourselves at one of the cafes before we head off for the sights.

So our first stop was Centre Place, where cafes lined the narrow alleyway.  Would french toast, eggs benedict, energy drinks and coffees do?

Four and a half hours in the city and we experienced great views of architecture, old and new buildings, good-looking people (well, the spring races were on) yummy food and fresh air!  We have arrived in Australia!  The city is beautiful!  I must visit another time as I haven’t seen the biggest Queen Victoria Market, what about the galleries, and the shopping!!!

Men at Work in Ubud, Bali

When you’re woken up at three in the morning by a pig squealing for its dear life,  there are two things you can thing of what’s happening.  Either you live near an abattoir (which was not the case here) or someone from the nearby temple was butchering the poor thing for a celebration!  The latter was more like it.  This was part of the series of activities villagers in Ubud did to culminate the cleansing celebration that have been going on for the last few days.

Gladly we managed to get back to sleep.  But my curiosity woke me up as the sun rises at six and wondered whatever happened to that poor piggy.  As I opened my balcony door I could not help but notice a hum at the nearby temple.  Sounds like busy Balinese men working.  So as quickly as we could we went out to find out!

It was an organised chaos of, men only, members of the village, chopping, mixing, sorting, grilling and steaming every part of the butchered pig.  What came out was masses of rice, satays, salads and sauces which they allocated equally to every member of the team to offer to their respective temples and eventually take home and share with their family gathering later in the day.

This was an amazing display of efficient teamwork and camaraderie between the villagers.  The women were not to be seen around this particular event except for the inevitable task of doing the offering rounds.

I really enjoyed that experience.  Walking away from the wonderful smell of satay wafting throughout the temple hall I could not help but feel a bit of (hunger pang in my tummy!) and jealousy for what I have just witnessed.  Members of the villages here contribute to their temple potluck for celebrations such as this one, collectively involve everyone in the preparation and then partake of their efforts.  Why are we loosing this togetherness in other, more developed, western countries?

Cleansing Celebration, Ubud, Bali

As our stay here in Ubud progresses to its second week so have the Cleansing Celebration around the temples here.  It had been over a week since I first notice the locals getting busy with their preparations of elaborate offerings and decorations.  It is evident along the streets, at family shrines and the many temples around Ubud.  The stone statues are noticeably dressed for the celebration, the ladies and gents are coming out in their best temple fashion as well as the shrines and temples.  What was grey and stone from last week have turned into a colourful display of golds, reds, blacks and whites.

And when you’re fortunate to be at the right place when the families come out to take their temple effigy during these celebrations, it’s an experience of music, colour and grandeur.