Monday, 19 September 2016

Mongolia Trip: Bayanzag

Day 4: Thursday 11th August 2016
We were warned the night before that today would consist of a lot of driving. We were heading out of the Gobi region and back north towards Ulanbaataar. This day was quite challenging for most of the people in the van, however it also highlighted something to me about myself. Naturally, I can get quite stressed and I am not the most positive person in the world. For those who know me in person, I am quite a negative and sarcastic individual, perhaps even bordering on bitchy more often than not. I find it hard to let things go, however for some reason when I travel a lot of these traits take a backseat (ha, I literally had a backseat in the van). I am definitely more carefree and stress a lot less about things I have no control over. It's a little bizarre but I think it's very much a good thing.

This day was a turning point in terms of the company that I was with. It was when the Canadian and American started to become quite grating and largely it was due to their negativity. Our vehicle was quite slow, going only at around 70kmph and had horrible suspension which made for a very bumpy car ride. The van was travelling with two others from the hostel (on shorter length tours) and we could never keep up with them which was very frustrating. They would be able to cruise at 100kmph and we would be trailing behind. The situation for this day was that we got separated from the vans (since they never waited for us) and we took a different route to our destination. It was a slightly annoying situation as the driver and the cook in the van did not speak English and we had no idea where we were going or if it was even the right direction. The American and Canadian (I was wedged between them) started to complain constantly that they didn't know where we were going and in the end I ended up putting in my earphones and listened to my audiobook (or maybe it was music). I was travelling through some beautiful and desolate landscape with people who ultimately would be able to communicate to Mongolians if we really ran into trouble.

Mongolia 2016
The drivers having an argument about which direction the town was.

Mongolia 2016
Thursday, 15 September 2016

Bike Riding at Bicentennial Park

Hi - I am Natalie and up until a few weeks ago, I had not ridden a bike in the last decade. Excluding the time when I was on a pedal bike at Centennial Park as mentioned here [but in all honesty, that really isn't a bike], the last time I rode a bike was when I was at a school camp. When it was suggested that we go bike riding at Bicentennial Park I was game. Although I was a little hesitant and worried that the notion that you never forget how to ride a bike may not hold true for me. Quite wobbly and unsure initially, I was the tail and followed my boyfriend who was having the time of his life.


At some point I did tell him to just keep riding and I would get there ... at some point. I also had, at the back of my mind, the thought that I may actually crash into his bike. Ha.




I was not game enough to ride under the fountain.

It was nice riding around the park for 2 hours and per usual, it was a beautiful Spring day! I am starting to miss the "cold" weather, but I am quite excited about spring and the possibilities of spending weekends in the great outdoors!
Sunday, 11 September 2016


On the way to a house warming party on Saturday night, my boyfriend and I stopped at Sud for an early dinner.There aren't too many places to eat in Concord and it was quite busy when we got there at 6pm. In fact, the server quite rudely informed us that "you can sit there" at the most awkward table right next to the door. In fact, the table was propping the door open.

We ordered the diavoli pizza and the ravioli funghi.


$24 // tomato, mozzarella, capsicum, black olives, salame, chilli flakes

I am not entirely sure where the chilli flakes were but it was a very average pizza. The pizza base was quite nice though. The toppings were quite limited and there really wasn't anything special about it at all.

$24 // beef Ravioli with mixed mushrooms sauce and topped with parmesan cheese

This was below average - it honestly didn't taste that much better than the ones you can buy in the fridge section at the supermarket.

The whole dinner was quite a let down; the food was so average and I was still a little miffed about the attitude of the server. At prices they charged, I was expecting quite a bit more. By the time we left, the place was completely packed and quite lively. I am not entirely sure why there were so many people there; perhaps there really wasn't anything else in the area.

This review is quite Negative Nancy but considering I am someone who is not fussy when it comes to food, I suppose it does say something about the place.

Sud Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Mongolia Trip: Khongoryn Els

Day 3 - Wednesday 10th August 2016
We headed to the sand dunes part of the Gobi desert! It was a reasonably short drive distance wise, however the van could only travel at around 70kmph which was quite slow. It was incredible to see the changing landscape from the beautiful mountain ranges to the steppes and slowly to the insanely massive sand dunes! This was also the day where I learnt how to pee in an open field with people around!

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016
Lunch! A cucumber was never as tasty! By this stage, I was craving vegetables and fruit.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Mongolia Trip: Yolyn Am

Day 2 - Tuesday 9th August 2016
I woke up naturally right before sunrise and managed to watch the sunrise. It wasn't a super special sunrise however it was very surreal to be in such an empty and quiet landscape, well except for the noises from the goats and the camels.

Breakfast consisted of stale / dry bread and spreads including super sweet jam and liverwurst. Sadly, this was the start of 11 days of breakfasts.

Mongolia 2016

Mongolia 2016

After breakfast, we headed towards our destination of the day which was Yolyn Am which is located within the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Mongolia Trip: Tsagaan Suvarga

I am back in Sydney and already halfway through my second day at work! I really did jump straight from my holiday back to work and it was a little difficult yesterday. As mentioned numerous times, I have just returned from my two week holiday in Mongolia! In Mongolia I went on a 12 day tour to the Gobi desert and to central Mongolia.

Day 1 - Monday 8th August 2016
The tour had a little bit of a late start. We were originally told we would be leaving at 8am however I tried to embrace it as I knew the concept of being on time in Mongolia was going to a rare occurence based on my previous research.

The vehicle we were allocated was the typical Soviet van / Russian van that are reknown in Mongolia. The Soviet Vans are frequently used on tours as it has been said they are reasonably cheap to purchase initally and the parts are easy to obtain. They are also notorious for breaking down easily so this is something to be mentally prepared for. That being said, the vehicle that I was on did not experience any major issues (one flat tyre, the window handle fell off and the spare tyre fell off).

Mongolia 2016

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Books for Mongolia

What does one do when spending 11 days on a tour in Mongolia, with no access to internet and in the middle of a country. Why stock up on books for my Kindle! One of my exes bought me a Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday. At the time, I was a little irritated (embarrassingly) as I was adamant that I didn't need one. But it has now changed my life and I am so glad that he made that purchase for me. He used to read my blog (not sure if he still does) so Hello! Thank you! :) 

I have tried to branch out from my usual novels (read: thrillers) and have a bunch of different novels. These include:

A Curious Beginning - Deanna Raybourn
My Grandmother Asked me to Tell you She's Sorry - Fredrik Backman
The Versions of Us - Laura Barnett
Instructions for a Heatwave - Maggie O'Farrell
Luck, Love & Lemon Pie - Amy Reichert
The One Plus One - Jojo Moyes
The Choices We Make - Karma Brown
First Comes Love - Emily Giffin
The Camel Club - David Baldacci (a "safe" novel)
Harry Potter & The Cursed Child

Have you read any novels lately that you would recommend? Add me on Goodreads to see what I am reading! 
Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Packing List for Mongolia

This weekend I will be flying to Mongolia via Hong Kong. I will be in Mongolia for two weeks and Hong Kong for 2.5 days in total. A question that I get asked every time I tell people that I am going to Mongolia is, "Why Mongolia?". A very valid question and one that I don't really have an answer to. Mongolia was almost a whim destination .

This is the first packing post that I have ever written in the 5 years I have had this blog. I will be in Mongolia for two weeks and on a tour in a Russian van for 11 days in total. We will be driving around to nomadic families and staying at gers. In short, I will have limited facilities (such as toilets and showers) so hopefully the clothing I have packed will be sufficient.

I will be travelling with two bags. The one pictured is a 40L backpack that I purchased from Kathmandu. I actually dislike the colour pink but it is a bright colour which will mean a) it will be easy to spot at baggage collection b) I can easily keep track of it if I put it down anywhere. I also have a Country Road tote bag as my carry on. I wanted an extra bag for any purchases that I make in Mongolia or Hong Kong therefore on the flight there, that bag is almost empty.

This is the first time I have used packing cubes and they are amazing! In the past, I have used compression sacks which are great (!!) however I thought it was time to "upgrade" myself to a life where I didn't permanently have crumpled clothes. That being said, I do have the compression sack for my outerwear that I am bringing.

1 x lightweight rain jacket
1 x lightweight long pants
1 x shorts
1 x swimmers
2 x summer dresses
4 x t shirts
2 x long sleeve shirts
1 x flannel
1 x leggings
1 x cotton long sleeve
1 x jumper
1 x set of PJS
2 x tanks with built in bra
10 x pairs of underwear

1 x Roc Boots
1 x thongs / flip flops
5 x socks

1 x sleeping bag
1 x sarong
1 x towel
1 x packet of baby wipes
1 x kindle
2 x cameras (digital and film)
1 x laptop

Something I do when I travel is that half the clothes I tend to bring are ones that I will also get rid of throughout the course of my trip.

Apologies, the photos are out of focus. I purchased a new camera with manual lens and clearly need some practice still! Electronic viewfinder does make things a little harder for me.