Tuesday 28 February 2017

Monthly Recap: February

February was a quiet month and I didn't really do too much. This was partly attributable to the heatwaves which dominated the first half of the month but also due to stress / anxiety. Despite spending most of the month in bed / on the couch in my spare time, surprisingly, I didn't watch too much on Netflix. I also finally purchased private health insurance, so I guess I am officially an adult now.

The books that I read / listened to were largely uninspiring and underwhelming apart from two books, A Brief History of Seven Killings and Half of a Yellow Sun. Marlon James' "A Brief History of Seven Killings" won the Man Booker Award 2015 and I was introduced to it by Sunbeamsjess mid last year. I had attempted to read it back in September however I ended up simply reading words. Fast forward 5 months later and I gave this novel another try. It is definitely a challenging read and I found it most manageable to read a few chapters in one sitting only. Between the different "languages" used - Jamaican patois, British English, American English-, the 75 character list including gang members, politicians, American journalist and a very intricate story, it is definitely not for the faint hearted. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was less of a challenging read however the prose is absolutely beautiful and effortless. It is centred around 5 characters in Nigeria during the Biafara Civil War and the best book I have read in a very long time.

This month, I also noticed a trend: I feel that I have been seeing a surge in posts about the Maldives / Bora Bora over the past year or so. Has anyone else noticed this? I find it strange when influencers / bloggers are sent on sponsored trips there, courtesy of the hotel, because I don't really understand the return on "investment". It is not as though the average person would be inspired by so-and-so's Instagram photo or blog post because, let's be real, who can really afford $1000+ accommodation per night?!?

Still on the topic of travel, the insanely cheap flights to Europe, Santiago and New York City are killing me. Around $1000-$1100?!?!?

I also have a giveaway going on right now which will finish by the end of this week so please enter as soon as possible!

How did the month of February treat you? 
Thursday 23 February 2017

5 Places I Want to Visit in Australia

There are so many places that I would love to visit and the ones that come to mind are invariably far flung across the world. However, Australia is a beautiful country with such diverse landscapes and is usually a 'once-in-a-lifetime' country for most people; I am lucky to live here. I have listed below some of the places that I would love to visit in my own (massive) backyard.

1. Lord Howe Island, NSW
Lord Howe Island (Group) are World Heritage Listed islands located in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand and approximately 600km east of Port Macqurie. It is where Blake Lively's film, The Shallows, was filmed. It is also bloody expensive to get to! It is a universally accepted fact that Australia is expensive, especially when it comes to travelling. However, a 2 hr flight from Sydney to Lord Howe Island costs upwards of $800. How(e)?!?!? I am punny. At that price, a few hundred dollars more could take me to LA or Rome! And I haven't even looked at accommodation prices...

Coral Reefs

Kims Lookout

Qantas Link
The expensive plane to take you there!

Friday 17 February 2017

My Experiences: Car Camping

A bit of a disclaimer: this post is to talk about my experiences and some questions that people have asked me. I am not an expert and this is not something that I do for extended periods of time. Hopefully this post will be interesting / useful to someone on the internet!

New England Roadtrip

What is Car Camping?

Simply the act of "camping" in your vehicle as opposed to a tent! Alternatively, sleeping in your car / vehicle. I believe it is also referred to as urban camping.

When and Why Did I start Car Camping?

I first slept in my vehicle in June 2015 on my Flinders Ranges trip in South Australia purely to save money. There were two options I was presented with: (1) Pay for accommodation for $250 p/n; (2) Pay for an unpowered camping site for $13 p/n. Naturally Option 2 was more attractive.

These days, I car camp on all my roadtrips for a few reasons:
  1. Save money on accommodation where motels are easily $100+ p/n. I am - and have always been - quite a frugal traveller and really want to stretch my dollar as far as I can.
  2. Sense of freedom and being able to wake up and leave at the crack of dawn and generally not being as restricted
  3. Being able to see the stars when I am lying down before I fall asleep
I have now car camped for 5 separate instances with the longest being 4 nights.

New England Roadtrip

How do I Car Camp?

I don't own a car so all the cars I have slept in have been rentals. I rent the Toyota Corolla hatchback or equivalent on all occasions (due to cost) and always hope that I get a free upgrade. Of course if I had my own vehicle, things would be a lot simpler as I could make the space infinitely more comfortable over time. However every car model is different and subsequently some experiences are more comfortable than others. Nonetheless I have made do!

New England Roadtrip

I am 5'1" or 1.55m and therefore not the tallest individual. I fold back the two seats flat, lay out my sleeping bag and when I lie slightly diagonal, I can stretch out completely. Although it is not the most spacious vehicle (obviously) it doesn't bother me too much since I am a side sleeper in a feotal-esque position meaning that I take up less room anyway. The downside to this position is that my hip digs into the floor and at some point, I will invest in a sleeping pad. I was at a campsite once where there were four girls simply sleeping in their seats upright / slightly reclined in their compact SUV. If that is how you can sleep - I cannot fall asleep in any position apart from being horizontal- then that would be infinitely better!

New England Roadtrip
My latest addition has been a solar powered string of fairy lights. Although it is very Instagram-y, it is quite practical especially when I am staying somewhere with no / minimal lighting. My torch is often too bright / harsh and the lights from the fairy lights effectively means I am not sitting there in complete darkness at campgrounds.

New England Roadtrip

I use the passenger seat as the equivalent of my "living room"; this is where I will lounge in the car when I am not ready to sleep. I'd usually be in that seat reading my Kindle or eating.

Where do I park the vehicle?

I originally stayed at low cost campgrounds and have slowly transitioned to free campgrounds. I have stayed at the outskirts of suburbia once and also at free camping spots / assumed camping spots. I recently downloaded the app WikiCamps which lists all campgrounds in Australia with reviews which has been super helpful. I have also used CaravanCaravan in the past.

As I am staying in an everyday vehicle and not a campervan or refurbed van (you know the ones I am talking about), I have the factor of stealth and I could definitely stay in the suburbs. In the future, I would see business parks / industrial areas / streets close to parks as possible overnight locations.

New England RoadtripAdmittedly, it can be a slightly messy affair. I had already picked up for this photo - haha. Here you can see where I sleep, where I put my luggage. Usually I keep my food on the floor of the passenger seat when I am driving.

But is it safe?

At paying campgrounds, yes probably. At free campgrounds, yes probably. At another location, possibly. It is definitely very reassuring to see other people (usually in their campervans) at the campsite although arguably that may also be a sense of false security. I must admit, it can feel a little daunting being the only person there (happened to me twice), but it all boils down to common sense / gut feelings. If it doesn't feel right or you experience the heebie-jeebies, simply move onto the next location.

But what about toilets / showers / facilities?

This isn't an issue at campgrounds as there are often facilities such as toilets / showers / BBQs. However, these are generally only available at paid campgrounds; depending on the location, prices range from $5-$30 for unpowered sites. Prior to Mongolia, I had stayed once at a campground without showers for one night and survived. After Mongolia, I realised that I can mentally go by without showers for a lot longer than one day. I have read that you can pay a small fee to use showers at paid caravan parks / hostels and there may be showers at petrol stations (used by truckies). Toilets are everywhere! Shopping centres, parks, public toilets in suburbs / towns; there are more toilets than you realise and there is also a directory which I find slightly amusing.
I am still refining my approach but if you have any questions, please leave them below!

Monday 13 February 2017

Tatsuo Miyajima - Connect with Everything

Tatsuo Miyajima - MCA

Tatsuo Miyajima - MCA

I am generally not a fan of art galleries or anything of that sort; truth be told, I have a very short attention span and find myself bored quite easily. I have been to my fair share of galleries and exhibitions, predominately during my travels in Europe, but have slowly steered clear due to lack of interest and appreciation for the works. However when I heard about Tatsuo Miyajima's exhibition at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), I thought it might be something I would be interested in. Tatsuo Miyajima is a Japanese contemporary artist who works with light installations and digital counters. It has been in Sydney for a while now and is on its last month at MCA.

'Tatsuo Miyajima embraces the materials and substance of life in order to explore the nature of being. Numbers and counting sequences are central to this process, revealing time’s relentless, cyclical nature. They also serve to remind us that whilst our time on this planet is brief, our lives have beauty and purpose, for we are one with the cosmos that exists within and outside us.’

Tatsuo Miyajima - MCA

For Miyajima, the numbers 9-1 reflect a human scale, showing life on a singular level as well as a wider, communal one. The gap between counting cycles – the zero – represents a pause or breath, the “space of death” before life begins once more. Within this cycle, death is simply a state like life: “it is just a question of if it is visible or not.”

Tatsuo Miyajima - MCA

Tatsuo Miyajima - MCA

Arrow of Time (Unfinished Life)
Arrow of Time, refers to the astronomical concept of time’s irreversibility – that it cannot rewind itself and ‘come back’ again. For Miyajima, this is reflective of life itself and the fact that a particular moment in time cannot be re-made.

‘In everyday life, we tend to forget this reality so I would like to communicate that we live in moments that cannot be recovered.’ Creating a situation where ‘those moments are raining from the universe’, he chose red LEDs to express caution and urgency in relation to our brief but significant moment on this planet.

This was my favourite installation. There were some mats that you could lie down on and look up to see the ticking counters. It was both a little uncomfortable (due to the count down) but largely quite soothing with the red light and the methodical change of numbers.

Tatsuo Miyajima - MCA

Tatsuo Miyajima - MCA

Tatsuo Miyajima - MCA

Tatsuo Miyajima - MCA

Mega Death
Wrapping around three walls, it is a vast, glittering enclosure of blue counter gadgets that periodically switch off in unison, plunging viewers into temporary darkness before the counting cycle begins again. It is impossible to predict when, or for exactly how many seconds, the counter gadgets will switch off. This element of unpredictability is central to the artist’s work and serves as a metaphor for life itself.

Mega Death represents a memorial to death on an industrial scale over the past century, recalling the Second World War, Hiroshima and Auschwitz. It is also a powerful statement about humanity’s capacity to heal and begin again.
This was intentionally quite an uncomfortable installation due to a sensory overload with the bright / jarring blue lights and the walls filled with little counters.

Tatsuo Miyajima - MCA
Time Train to the Holocaust and Counter Coal.

Tatsuo Miyajima - MCA

I think this is a worthwhile exhibition and an apt reminder of the cyclical - and inevitable- nature of life. Tatsuo Miyajima: Connect with Everything is at the MCA until March 5, 2017.
Thursday 9 February 2017

Country Music Capital of Australia

Tamworth is a major regional city and is also known as the country music capital of Australia. I am a massive fan of country music and was so excited to find a country music radio station!!

New England Roadtrip

I did a quick visit to the iconic Big Golden Guitar before heading further north west to the small town of Manilla. Manilla is known as a hang-gliding and paragliding destination, however the only reason for my visit was due to the fact that this was my former colleague's hometown. No, it wasn't to visit him but I was just curious what the place was like. Honestly, that really is the explanation for most of why I do things - curiousity.

New England Roadtrip

New England Roadtrip
Monday 6 February 2017

Chasing Waterfalls in NSW

Another year, another roadtrip! This was my first trip of 2017 and I decided to head to New England region in NSW. My roadtrip is mapped below.

I had been putting this roadtrip off for a while due to distance from Sydney however as I had the first week off from work I decided to make the most of my precious free time. Sadly the day on Waterfall Way was quite miserable weather-wise; it was raining on and off, overcast and foggy.

New England Roadtrip

My first stop was to Wonga Walk to see Crystal Shower Falls and Tristania Falls. It entailed a 6.6km return walk on a relatively easy track. It started to rain halfway through the track, however I was reasonably protected from the rain by the foliage.

New England Roadtrip
Thursday 2 February 2017

Monthly Recap: January

January is always a bit of a weird month. Before the commencement of full time work (namely, being a student) it was more of an exciting month and full of opportunities and new beginnings. However these days, it feels a little anti-climatic and more like an extension of the previous year; I suppose that is a dumb thing to say because ... well that is what it actually is!

• Road trip to New England region in NSW (posts to come)
• Revisited Figure 8 Pools. This time I didn't bring my camera however I have written about it previously. There are so many more people now and there are tours from hostels as well. I am still not convinced that it is the most incredible thing to see.
• I have been a little obsessed with wild swimming (creeks / lakes / dams) since my trip to Tasmania and headed to Jellybean Pool at Glenbrook. Although I did end up slipping and grazed half of my thigh.
• Decided that I won't be going overseas this year. I have been toying with the idea of heading to South Australia for 1.5 weeks to roadtrip around the state.

Hobbies (life outside travel)
• Tried to start a bullet journal. I didn't realise exactly what it was until early this month and discovered it was something that I used to do back during my university days! My bullet journal lasted all of one week as I came to the realisation that I really don't need a journal these days.
• Have started experimenting with watercolours. It is something that I play with as I am watching a show / movie.
• Maintained two blog posts a week for the entire month! Sometimes I feel that is too frequent, however I am also on a backlog right now and get a little anxious when I am too far behind. Is this unique to me?
• Gave my blog a little makeover with a new template, banner and 'About' page!
• Have been on an audiobook listening spree. I prefer reading a physical book over listening to audiobooks. However, I have become bored of listening to music on my commute and would rather spend the time more efficiently. I cannot read on buses as I get motion sickness which is why audiobooks are my only option!
Books: ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern; 1984 by George Orwell; 11/22/63 by Stephen King; The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon; The Opposite of Lonelinesss by Marina Keegan; The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff; Snowblind by Michael McBride; The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking; The Vegetarian by Han Kang; Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
Watched: Vikings, A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Shannara Chronicles, 11.22.63, La La Land, Arrivals (♥), Hope, Passengers, Lion, Hidden Figures, Moana

I have spent quite a few days this month (when I am not at work) at home and relaxing which is a little foreign to me. As mentioned previously, I am wanting to slow down a little and learn that I don't always need to be doing something. However that being said, it is quite clear that I spent a lot of time on Netflix this month.