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Reflections Of A Year Abroad…Part 2

Here continues my final reflections from my year abroad.. and just in time to start my new adventures coming up…

New Zealand

New Zealand, like Australia, was one of the top contenders for “where I might want to live when I grow up…” While Australia was vast and overwhelming, NZ was stunning and easy to travel in. The people were also downright “nice” as the Aussies put it. Heck I was even wished happy early birthday by an immigration office when they had to double check my info that apparently is similar to a person of interest

I loved NZ and the Kiwis and got to amazing things there. Like dig my own hot tub at Hot Water Beach. Cover myself in thermal mud and take relax in a sulfur spring in Rotorua. Jump off a mountainside and paraglide, screaming all the way, in Queenstown.

Free as a bird

I even ade it to all THREE islands: North (right upto the tippy top), South and Stewart Island (the 3rd) where I did trade work at Bunkers Backpackers, one of the best spots in all of NZ.

A drink with the locals

The Worst Part Of NZ: would have to be the hacking cough I developed for about 3wks, felt so bad for my fellow dorm mates, oh and the price of lamb (so much for my bday roast 😦 )

The Best Part of NZ: friends, paragliding, mud and Stewart Island.

A Reason to Come Back: Everything

Malaysia and Borneo

The plan post NZ was to go volunteer in Sri Lanka at an animal shelter. They had contacted me and asked me to come promising accomodation and no fee. Sounded perfect and I was all set with tickets. Mid Tonga I got a message saying a returning volunteer was staying for 6mths and they were giving her my accomodation, but I could still come I just had to pay to stay… Well that blew that plan out of the water. My ticket on air asia was a ticket to Kuala Lumpur and then to Sri Lanka. I had great friends who I hadn’t seen in years in KL. So I scratched my 2nd ticket and ate the losses, planned a short visit to KL then discovered a converted oil rig in Borneo (a short flight) for scuba diving. Sounds like a perfect recovery plan to me.

I can’t tell you enough about how great it was to see my friend Chauw (first time in 7yrs) and meet his fabulous wife, Viven, and dog Pakkun (who really runs the house). They welcomed me like a long lost relative and put me up, fed me, and showed me around. It felt like home and I can’t thank them enough. I only wish I had had more time to stay.

Great Friends/Family

But Borneo beckoned and since I had to go through immigration it counts as a country on my list. The Seaventures Dive Rig, a converted oil rig, was incredible and with a sealavator that went straight into the ocean a diver couldn’t ask for more. This was my first DIVE VACATION and my first in tropical water, the rig made it truly spectacular in every way.


The Worst Thing in Malaysia/Borneo: Leaving

The Best Thing in Malaysia/Borneo: friends and diving

A Reason To Return: Friends, diving and so much more.


Nepal is a country I have always dreamed of going to and never thought I would. Most people go to trek, to get to base camp at the very least. For me, I wanted to buy myself a singing bowl. Since the first time I saw one of this beautiful bowls that “sing” as you pass a wooden stick around the outside, I have promised myself to only get one when I got to Nepal. It took me almost the full 3weeks to find the right one, but she sings just perrtty for me and I love it.

Nepal was fascinating and, unknown to me, would introduce me to someone who would change my life for good in many ways, but bring it crashing down with a terrible betrayal.

But you can’t blame a country for the actions of one person and so I focus on the people like Laksmi and her family who essentially adopted me in Pokhara. I went to dinner at their house, helped my new little brother, Gaurab, with his homework, even moved hotels closer to them (with Laksmi’s husband’s help). I spent many good hours chatting with Laksmi and I will miss my “sister” very much.

The Worst Thing in Nepal: The traffic and pollution

The Best Thing in Nepal: The people and the shopping and the history

A Reason to Return: The people, the shopping and the history


Cathleen, who I had met in my first country of Peru, and I had joked about me coming to Germany on my way home. Low and behold fate saw to it that I did. While I was super sad to leave Nepal, I was super excited to Cathleen again and well Germany in December means: Gluwein, Bratwurst, Christmas Markets and Christmas Cookies. Woohoo!

Cathleen met me in Hamburg with her amazing friend Hendrik, who put us up for a few days. Then came the whirlwind tour of Hamburg and Berlin with a final stop in Leipzig where Cathleen lived. Fate also allowed me to catch up with Carolin and Nadine, friends from Australia.

The Worst Thing in Germany: My heartsickness at missing a guy and ending a trip (not really Germany’s fault).

The Best Thing in Germany: Gluwein, bratwurst and Christmas markets… and fabulous friends.

A Reason to Go Back: need I repeat the above?? Oh and add the bakeries and the cold meats, mmmmmmm…..


So after 347 days on the road, just shy of a full year, I finally made it home! For those of us who love long term travel, going home is both a blessing and a curse. We get our own bed, we see family, have home cooking, and 3 days later we want to pack our bags and head out again. As someone once explained to me, finally giving me an explanation I could use for non travelers, “traveling is a double edged sword…you live you grow you explore but you never feel settled”.

Starting my job as a vet nurse with a mobile vet barely 3 days after getting home at least helped that trapped feeling from catching a full hold. And being mobile kind of felt like I was still moving.

Ready to Monitor in Surgery

Something I learnt on This Trip: I am stronger than I look, and I love being near a warm ocean.

My Most Memorable Experience: Shaving my head for charity

My Worst Experience: Can’t say that anything was terrible, but let’s just say I learn a lot of lessons about life.

One thing is for sure, I prefer living abroad and plan to find work that gives me that. As much as I loved all the travel, there are times you want to stay put for longer than a month or 2.

So stick around and join me on upcoming adventures including Italy, Korea and Thailand…


Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Germany, RTW, Travel, Uncategorized


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Hot Water Beach – Days 173 and 174

27th July and 28th July

Off to Hot Water Beach

Kirsten and I had decided to take Harvey (now 10wks old) on an overnight trip to an amptly named Hot Water Beach. Apparently hot water springs emerge right on the edge of the beach and at low tide you head down with your spade and dig yourself your own personal hot tub!!

So after Harvey had his morning feed, was burped and settled in for a nap, we packed up the car and headed out by 8am. The first low tide was at 9.15am and you have about 2hrs on either side of the low tide where you can still create your hot tub. With a 2hr drive ahead of us we were not sure if we would make the first low tide. If not we would have to wait till tomorrow’s at 10.30am.

We drove from Auckland area over to the Coromandel Peninsula and I was wow’ed by the landscape. Truly amazing, kind of Ireland/Oregon and South Africa mixed in one. We drove through native forests and made our way down to the east coast. Pulling in around 10am we decided to check in and go explore the area, leaving the make your own hot tub for the morning.

We had booked into the “Deluxe Villa”, a super cute A-Frame structure, made out of pine with a self contained kitchen, bathroom, queen size bed and 2 singles on the upper level.

Our Little Cabin

After settling in and giving his lordship his next meal, we set off to explore some key spots on the peninsula. First stop a short stroll to cathedral Cove… or so we thought. Kirsten swears blind the cove was closer last time she was there, then again there may have been alcohol involved then. But now as the responsible adults we are today, well at least she is, we unpacked the off-road buggy, loaded in his lordship and headed out convinced the cove was just round the corner and down a flight of stairs or two (at least thats what the park warden said). Well it turns out the cove was about 1.5km (1 mile), down and up rather eroded paths, over a sty in the fence (the buggy wouldn’t fit through) and then we were faced with about 100 stairs straight down. We opted to abandon buggy and walk down. But it was well worth it, Cathedral Cove was stunning.

Cathedral Cove

Harvey, Kirsten and me

Through the archway to the next beach

Made it back to the top!

We definately felt like we had done some work when we eventually made it to the top of the hill again. After some snacks for everyone we headed back to relax and nap at our “Deluxe Villa”. We had put the heater on and the place was wonderfully toasty, unfortunately heat rises which meant my 2nd level abode was on the stuffy side, but it didn’t hinder my napping too much.

After a healthy dinner of veggies and pasta we settled down to watch Master Chef Australia and dig into the yummy cookies Kirsten had bought. Cookies with a layer of caramel topped with marshmallow dipped in chocolate, there is a heaven!

Finally it was bed time, although Harvey had by now realised we weren’t in his castle and was fussing quite a bit. He eventually settled down around 11.30pm. Once again he had impeccable timing and his first fussing was timed perfectly with a bathroom run, luckily he went back to sleep. I went back upstairs and realised that it was nearing unbearable with the stuffiness and I wondered why there was a small fan upstairs to dissipate the heat (please note there was a giant ceiling fan, but I had not put 2 and 2 together yet). So I went and curled up on the fairly comfy floor with some pillows next to the other bed, I didn’t want to wake Kirsten by getting into it. After about 30min Harvey’s feeding timer went off in his head and he wanted dinner, NOW!

Kirsten for some reason decided to roll all the way across the bed and almost stood on me to get up, it was all rather amusing. At that point the whole room was getting stuffy so we decided to put the main fan on. Within seconds the whole place felt better as the warm air was now circulating around the “Deluxe Villa” instead of stagnating upstairs. A fan… what a novel concept.

Woohoo Dig Your Own Spa Day

We rose early!
We fed all three of us!
We got changed into appropriate swimming attire!
We grabbed the spade!
And sped off to the beach! (at an safe speed with baby on board)

Oh what a glorious morning. The sun was shining, just a few clouds in the sky, no one on the beach. We were early enough to beat the crowds but not to early to have to wait for the tide to go out. After crossing the freezing cold stream carrying the off-road baby buggy between the beach and parking lot, and after the feeling returned to our feet we went in search of hot water seeping from through the sand.

After digging a few holes and finding only cold water seeping through, I started to feel discouraged and thinking maybe we were too early for the tide. So we decided to walk along the beach, 3 steps later I spotted a steam cloud rising from the sand. Woohoo! We had struck geothermal hot spring activity! And boy was it hot.

I dug a small to medium hole and jumped in feet first (it was actually just big enough for my feet). I then rapidly jumped out as the water coming directly from the spring was bloody piping hot! Fancy that. As Kirsten and I tentatively stared at the hole with confounded expressions as we contemplated our dilemma a local walked past with her dog. She took one look at us and said “if it’s too hot move to the left”. Ahhhhhhh! Yes the lightbulbs went off, why didn’t we think of that. So stepping to the left I dug in, literally and oh what a wonder it was to play in the sand. Usually beachsand is my least favorite part of the beach, but for some reason digging for a self made hot tub was like building sand castles at age 5, I was in heaven.

Digging my hot tub time machine!

Kirsten helped!

and enjoy!

What more do you need in the morning!

As we were finishing up throngs started to arrive, well maybe 10 people. A pair of German girls were attempting to dig their hot tub with a piece of driftwood, I offered them mine. Others were digging holes, testing water and then digging a new hole, most likely the thought of crowding in together didn’t appeal to them. But then again the hot water stream only runs so wide.

After a stroll on the beach we headed back to pack the car and drive around the area. The best stop being a macadamia nut farm where we got the best chocolate covered macadamias I have ever tasted.

The way home was very twisty windy, but the views were spectacular. We just barely beat the rain home to relax and unwind. Poor Harvey was so confused as to where he was he tried to complain and then simply fell asleep.

This is my favorite memory:

A perfect morning!

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Posted by on July 30, 2011 in Uncategorized


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